Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Benita Robledo!

Picture Legend from the top:
1. The lovely Benita Rolbedo
2. The whole person!
3. "Righty Tighty"
4. "Genius" Post Office Girl
5. Devil Lady in 2007's "Linnea" in New York
6. 2010's "Going the Distance," with supporting roles from Drew Barrymore and Christina Applegate
7. Last year's "Somewhere," in San Diego. Not somewhere in San Diego. "Somewhere" is the name of the play!
8. "She was a long cool woman in a black dress
Just a 5'9" beautiful 'n' tall
Just one look I was a bad mess
'Cause that long cool woman had it all
She had it all, she had it all, she had it all
She had it all!" -Hollies 1972
9. Recent short film
10. Happy Girl in black & white
11. Crocheting and taking pictures while driving last Saturday. Naughty, naughty
12. Oh, THAT SMILE AGAIN! Please stop! Oh my gosh.. I can't take it anymore! Please... All right, I'll do whatever you want! AAAAHHHHHH!!!

It is with the greatest pleasure that I get to give a big happy birthday shout out to one of my very favorite actresses (I refuse to call actresses actors), needlework master, amateur plumber, and the Sexiest Woman of 2013, the lovely Ms Benita Robledo! (to be precise her birthday is in a few hours. Mom says I have to go to bed now)
As you recall, dear readers, we first became acquainted with Ms Robledo last April in the post entitled "It's Expensive Being A Girl," that title being a direct quote of Benita's, from her Facebook page.
She quite often comes out with these single line gems, which I find charming. Here's a few recent ones:
"I'm always in need of a paper shredder and a tape measurer. I wonder what this says about me?"
"Women that travel in heels amaze me."
"One day I'm going to be an adult and not screw up my manicure within 5 minutes of getting it."
"I was this close to starting a juice diet today, but pizza beat up my juicer."
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
Ooops, sorry... that last one was from the late Dr. Carl Sagan. How did that get in there?
Anyway, that particular post was my affirmation of her statement, at which point I continued to catalogue the many blatant ways our cherished capitalistic society ritually rips off 51% of the general population simply due to their gender.
Here's a link to that post if you're so inclined:
Her gracious reply to that post was this: "First of all thanks for the very sweet shout-out. Second of all, I couldn't agree with your piece more. Being a girl is a huge financial burden and there is no way around it. It's nice to know that at least some men realize it too. =)"
Indeed. There are some men who do realize this, and I want to take the opportunity right here and now to apologize to her, and all women, for society.
Also in that post I related how I first became aware of her and her work:
"I first became aware of Benita while working diligently at my desk, writing and doing research, as is my custom, with my television turned on, as is my custom. At the time Lowe's, the chain of retail home improvement and appliance stores, was airing their "Training" commercial ubiquitously on broadcast and cable stations. It was actually another version of the commercial linked to above, but using some of the very same scenes, and of course featured Ms. Robledo as the young wife (assuming the two were not living in sin). I'd be working away and I'd be listening to the TV rather than watching it, and I kept on hearing her say "righty tighty," each time it came on. Actually at first I didn't know what it was she was saying, because really, what does "righty tighty" mean without context? Anyway, I heard this commercial often enough that I began to take notice and watch it. "
Well through my diligent efforts I found the clip of the very same commercial that I spoke of above, right here:
I had no idea that Mr Green Jeans was still alive and working, but there he is in plain sight teaching the couple how to improve their home. He still looks good for a man of... a hundred and two years.
Anyway... I of course became intrigued by this lovely young lady and sought further information concerning her career, at which point I utilized this handy website "Who's That Girl In," which can be found right here:
I can't begin to tell you how valuable this site has been to me and many others throughout the years.
After I found out her name it was relatively easy to discover other samples of her work on the web, like this commercial for our United States Postal Service:
And this:
I love the little dance at the end. Love it.
I visited her Facebook page discovering the "It's Expensive Being A Girl," comment, which inspired the post of the same name, and at which point she became aware of me, after which she begged me to become Facebook friends, prompting me to soon relent and comply.
Or I begged her to become Facebook friends after which I wrote the post... I can't seem to remember the exact time-line at the moment.
It's not important.
It's at this point in my series of "Happy Birthday" shout outs I usually provide some biographical information on the birthday person, describing their life and career. However Benita is dark and mysterious, and doesn't provide me with any of this much sought after info... damn it.
So, in instances such as this I'm forced to use Dr. Evil's bio from the Austin Powers films, which has noting to do with Ms Robledo at all:
Dr. Evil: The details of my life are quite inconsequential.
Therapist: Oh no, please, please, let's hear about your childhood.
Dr Evil: Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Some times he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds, pretty standard really. At the age of 12 I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum, it's breathtaking, I suggest you try it.
Therapist: You know, we have to stop.

Perhaps the above drastic action will prompt Benita to provide a nice comment in the comment section below, and give us some of that info, as our lovely friend Ms Jennifer Blaire recently did on her birthday. Let's cross our fingers and hope.
We do know some things about her. She was undoubtedly born at a very early age.
I found one listing where she mentioned the New York borough of Brooklyn. In what context she identifies with Brooklyn I have no idea. Was she born there? Who Knows? Many are. Does she live there now? Beats me. Does she just happen to admire the bridge? Again, I have no idea. It's a mystery, an enigma, as is she.
I know this! She speaks fluent Spanish, so we know she wasn't lip syncing in that clip above. That's good.
I happen to know her dad is an ex-Marine (the Marines being a very small part of the United States Navy, for which I was proud to serve), an attorney, and an all around hilarious guy. Or so she claims.
I also know that she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts & Film at SUNY Purchase.
I know from her resume that she has appeared in these plays: "Somewhere," right here in California, "Tio Pepe," "Accomplice: Hollywood," " House of Bernarda Alba," in New York, "Linnea," also in New York, and "Twelfth Night," which if memory serves has something to do with that Shakespeare guy.
She's done a lot of Television commercials of course, has appeared repeatedly on the popular program "Gossip Girl," as well as the soap "Guiding Light." How many can say that? I certainly can't.
She's been in short films (picture above) and long ones (picture above) like, "Going the Distance," and "What Happens in Vegas."
I know she's cute as hell.
I know she's a trained dancer, thoroughly versed in Ballet, Jazz, Hip-Hop (we have this in common, my specialty being Synchronized Hip-Hop), Tap, Folkorico, Flamenco, Tango, and Egyptian Lap.
I know she likes to sit on horses while they're walking around, driving while knitting, and that she has a passport... very important for making a quick getaway.
I also know that if you're a big time producer you can find out about hiring her from her very own website, here:
And I know that all of us can vote for her to be one of the 100 very sexiest women of next year, right here:
I think she's one of the sexiest women of any year! (if she were just a couple of years younger I'd be after her myself)
And I know this, that all of us here at Joyce's Take wish Benita, her family and friends, continued good health and fortune (we'll be watching), and a very happy birthday!
Happy birthday Benita!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Mist & Crowd Control

"'There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices to be found only in the minds of men.'"  -"The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" -Rod Serling, 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone

Sunday night I had the pleasure of watching the last ninety minutes of the 2007 science fiction film, "The Mist," on, appropriately enough, the SciFi Channel. I missed the first hour by watching Season 2 Episode 3 of "Falling Skies," another science fiction television program concerning invading extraterrestrials, which I find much more appealing than invading zombies, as depicted, for instance, in AMCs "The Walking Dead."
Aliens are just so much more reasonable than zombies.
I could have watched "The Mist," last night as well, and catch the first hour (considering the original film was only 126 minutes long, for a 2 1/2 hour period we all are subjected to at least 24 minutes of straight advertising) as cable networks like the SciFi Channel play the same movies over and over again (the FX Channel is fond of promoting, let's say, the Brangelina vehicle, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," with "Tonight on FX, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," only on FX," as if they haven't shown it 50 times before... literally (do advertisers really spend their money for this?!)), and often on the same night (AMC: "Tonight on AMC, during Can't Get Enough of "The Shawshank Redemption" Week, "The Shawshank Redemption," followed by... an encore presentation of "The Shawshank Redemption." Really!? I can tell you, even though I love, or loved "The Shawshank Redemption," I can get enough! I really, really can. Please! Good God, don't give me anymore of "The Shawshank Redemption!" As a matter of fact AMC, you've made  me hate "The Shawshank Redemption." Bastards).
I'm glad you brought up "The Shawshank Redemption," however. It was Frank Darabont's first feature film (he had started out by directing a short film based on a King short story, "The Woman In The Room") as director, based on the Stephen King novela, "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption." That led to Darabont's adaptation of King's novel, "The Green Mile," which led to "The Majestic," which starred our beautiful friend, former Baywatch star, the lovely Ms Jennifer Blaire.
This of course led to Frank's 4th collaboration with Stephen King (Jeezz, if you like him so much why don't you marry him?), "The Mist," based on King's 1980 novela of the very same name.
I read "The Mist," a long, long time before Frank made a film of it, and like Frank, thought it would make a great movie. I would have made it myself, before Frank got his greedy hands on it, if I happened to be a film director and had the authority to make things like that happen (as I would have "The Lord of the Rings").
I'd seen the film many times before as well. I showed it to my lovely ex-case manager Erin, and her colleague Paul, at Movie Day one time. What can I say... I like monster movies... good ones.
"The Mist," isn't really a mist at all. It's more like fog actually. But King couldn't very well call his story "The Fog," as John Carpenter had taken that name for a movie he was making that year. Anyway, up in Bridgton, Maine, a severe storm has just ravaged the area causing quite a bit of damage and power outages which apparently disrupted the work at a nearby military facility working on opening doors into other dimensions to see what's inside, you know, pretty standard stuff for our armed forces.
Well I guess the storm caused these doors to open just a tad too much allowing one particularly nasty dimension to leak into ours, bringing it's strange inhabitants with it. A thick cloud of white mist is the visible result of this leak, which expands rapidly. David Drayton (played by Thomas Jane) first sees the mist coming towards his house from across a lake, but doesn't think much about it. He doesn't know monsters are in there. Who would!? I certainly wouldn't, that's for sure.
Drayton takes his son and neighbor, played by Andre Braugher into town to pick up supplies they need to help repair the damage they suffered in the storm.
All the power is still off in town, but the local supermarket has it's own generator and has power. Luckily for Drayton and Braugher's character, Brent Norton, a know-it-all lawyer from the big city, are headed for that very market.
Pretty soon the mist envelops the town and the market with it. One guy runs into the store saying something in the mist got his friend. This is true! Something in the mist did get his friend.
There's a lot of mean, hungry, insectoid, tentacly things out there which are hunting other mean, hungry, insectoid, tentacly things which are smaller than they are. Some of them are really big. Others the size of cats. It's what it must be like to live in the ocean... hunting for food all of the time to stay alive, while being constantly hunted as well. That's what it's like in the mist.
I wouldn't want to go out there... and by the way, you won't find me scuba diving anytime soon either.
It was fortuitous that the supermarket had their generator working at the time the mist came. That's what kept the automatic doors closed and the positive air pressure from the air conditioner keeping the mist outside, which saved everybody in the store. The poor folks in the pharmacy next door didn't have any air conditioning and their doors were wide open when the mist came and everybody in there got turned into birthing grounds for mist spiders.
The people in the supermarket don't quite know what's going on, except they can't see anything outside. The generator goes off because something clogged up its vents outside. Drayton and a few other guys go in the back storeroom to see what's up. A stupid bag boy volunteers to go unclog the vent against the advice of Drayton, and as soon as they open the door tentacles creep in and drag the screaming bag boy outside to meet what those tentacle were attached to.
Drayton and the men who were with him don't want to create a panic with the others in the store,  but Drayton tells Norton, who had been planning on taking some people with him to go out and find help. However Norton doesn't believe Drayton, and decides to go anyway, refusing to even look at the evidence of the attack which got the bag boy, a chopped off piece of tentacle. Norton and his "followers," leave the store, never to be heard from again, supposedly, quickly being turned into mist monster chow.
But get this... the film isn't really about the monsters in the mist, oh no.
It's about us, and how we react in certain situations.
Within the store is one lady, a Mrs. Carmody (played exquisitely by the wonderful and lovely actress, Marcia Gay Harden), who has been described as an unstable religious fanatic, you know, like your typical Christian fundamentalist right-winger. She soon prays upon some of the other's fear to gain a small following. She does this by spewing insane religious dogma which has nothing whatsoever to do with the real situation all of these people find themselves in, but considering the stressful situation they do find themselves in, and their sense of powerlessness, anyone offering some glimmer of hope, or perceived truth, can be a welcome thing.
As she becomes more and more deranged, her following becomes larger. She soon proclaims herself the conduit through which God speaks the divine truth. At one point she whips up her by now majority of those in the store into such a fury that they murder a soldier under her direction. She has become insane, power mad, a true sociopath.
One person, who through the use of a little expertly utilized propaganda, won over a large majority of followers, who would rather belive her lies, without any evidence that what she is spewing is true, and against her followers own self interests, against all evidence to the contrary.
Does this kind of situation sound at all familiar to us. Of course it does.
We've recently discussed differences in brain utilization between two large segments of society which can be framed as belonging to progressives, or liberals, on one side, and conservatives on the other:
The following is stolen from Joshua Holland's May 2nd 2012 piece appearing through AlterNet, "Why Is the Conservative Brain More Fearful? The Alternate Reality Right-Wingers Inhabit Is Terrifying, Walk a mile in your ideological counterparts' shoes...if you dare."
We've discovered in the above post that conservatives tend to be more susceptible to fear than their liberal counterparts, and who seek comfort through perceived powerful leadership.
Holland notes that "Looking at MRIs of a large sample of young adults last year, researchers at University College London discovered that “greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala.” Now everyone knows the amygdala is involved in signaling the cortex of motivationally significant stimuli such as those related to reward and fear in addition to social functions such as mating.
In contrast the researchers also found that “greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex,” which is often associated with rational cognitive functions, such as reward anticipation, decision-making, empathy, and emotion.
As Holland points out this state of affairs not only affects all of us socially, but has grave political implications as well. He quotes Chris Mooney, author of "The Republican Brain,"  “The amygdala plays the same role in every species that has an amygdala. It basically takes over to save your life. It does other things too, but in a situation of threat, you cease to process information rationally and you're moving automatically to protect yourself.”
Holland cites other evidence suggesting existing brain structure results in the markedly different attitudes and behaviors between liberals and conservatives... which it seems the Republicans, and the Republican Noise (propaganda) Machine is instinctively aware of, and to which they use for their own political gain.
Let's look at what the world does look like to conservatives that might possibly have a heightened sense of fear, anxiety, and alarm due to their physical brain proclivities.
We have seen conservatives tend to seek figures of authority. To them these would take the form of Republican politicians and media, who it seems might lie to them to purposely keep their followers all stirred up, effectively under control, and bent to their will.
Holland: "So conservatives appear to be more likely to be hard-wired to be highly sensitive to perceived threats, and their chosen media offers them plenty. But that's not the whole story because of one additional factor. Since 9/11, and especially since the election of President Barack Obama, one of the most significant trends in America's political discourse is the “mainstreaming” of what were previously considered to be fringe views on the right. Theories that were once relegated to the militia movement can now be heard on the lips of elected officials and television personalities like Glenn Beck.
Consider, then, what it must be like to be a true-blue Rush Limbaugh fan, or someone who thinks Michele Bachmann is a serious lawmaker with a grasp of the issues – put yourself into that person's shoes for a moment, and consider what a nightmarish landscape the world around them must represent:
The White House has been usurped by a Kenyan socialist named Barry Soetero, who hatched an elaborate plot to pass himself off as a citizen of the United States – a plot the media refuse to even investigate. This president doesn't just claim the right to assassinate suspected terrorists who are beyond the reach of law enforcement – he may be planning on rounding up his ideological opponents and putting them into concentration camps if he is reelected. He may have murdered a blogger who was critical of his administration, but authorities refuse to investigate. At the very least, he is plotting on disarming the American public after the election, in accordance with a secret deal cut with the UN and possibly with the assistance of foreign troops.
Again, these ideas are not relegated to the fringe of forwarded emails. Glenn Beck talked about FEMA camps on Fox News (he later debunked them, which only fueled charges of a media coverup); dozens of Republican elected officials have at least hinted that they are birthers, while an erstwhile front-runner for the GOP nomination has repeatedly claimed that Obama is not eligible to be president. The head of the NRA, and the GOP's presidential nominee have both claimed Obama is plotting to take Americans' guns. (Many other examples abound, on and on...)
In reality, Americans are safer and more secure today than at any point in human history. But inhabitants of the world of the hard-right are surrounded by danger – from mobs of thugs at home to a variety of powerful and deadly enemies abroad."
This situation coupled with the fact that conservatives tend not to be shy about expressing their beliefs and fears to others, give us liberals an everlasting migraine. We tend to combat their policies which are based in greed and fear, with reality based facts, which quite frankly are not very effective. Al Gore was exponentially smarter than George W. Bush (still is) and would have been a hugely better president for the nation, but he wasn't sexy enough, he didn't frame his arguments and positions as well as Bush did, he wasn't as personable, all of these things paired with the fact that Bush stole the election in Florida, caused Bush to win the election, giving rise to the eight year nightmare that followed.
As Dr. Carl Sagan deftly pointed out, astrology is not a science. It's basically a scam that millions of people believe in because it helps to relieve their sense of foreboding concerning themselves and their future.
Astronomy, on the other hand, is a science. It is fairly well understood, and its study has markedly helped advance our general knowledge of ourselves, how we got here, where we are, and where we are going... yet...
Every single newspaper you may come across will almost certainly have a colum devoted to astrology. Very few will have the same for astronomy. It's just not as sexy, or appealing to the masses as astrology, even though astrology is a pack of lies.
There is a glimmer of hope though for us progressives. The current Republican candidate for President of the United States is as sexy, appealing, and personable as a stack of mud bricks.
This time the lies and deceit are not hidden by the face of the candidate, but out there for everyone, even conservatives, to see.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rising Sea Levels Illegal in North Carolina and Republican Madness 2

Okay, back from Bullhead finally. I will not be using Greyhound in the future as it takes waaaay too long to get from one place to the other, crappy customer service, and they're always late.
And while I'm complaining about things, I slept in yesterday morning all the way until eight o'clock, very late for me, but just in time to watch NBC's "Meet the Press," wanting to catch up on all of the important news stories that so directly affect each and every one of our American citizens.
So I got up and turned my television on to channel 4, L.A.s local NBC affiliate, to hear David Gregory proudly pronounce the morning's guests, embellisher Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and car thief and gun runner Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of San Diego (I'm loath to admit this guy comes my own state). I scratched my head and thought to myself "I must have turned on Fox so-called News by mistake to get this republican love fest," so I changed the channel to Fox... there was Issa again. Same with ABC's "This Week." Issa again.
One would almost think that all of these networks were owned by corporate conglomerates with deep ties to the Republican party.
So in frustration I turned to my reliable standby, good old MSNBC, and "The Melissa Harris-Perry," program. However, it being the second hour of her Sunday show, she had already moved on to matters of marginal concern or consequence to the majority of Americans and on to subjects such as black women's hair and the gay rights agenda ("I never knew black women's hair was such an issue until now," my dear sister said to me two weeks ago as we watched. "What about my freaking hair?!" "I never knew gays had an agenda!" I replied).
I turned to Brendan Fraser in "The Mummy Returns," on the TNT channel.
And what was Issa talking about that was so consequential? He's mad that the Attorney General, Eric Holder, won't give him every single document that he wants concerning, ironically I might add, a failed gun tracing program in Mexico, that cost the life of one of our federal agents. Holder has already turned over something like 70,000 documents, but that's not enough apparently. So Issa's oversight committee has voted to hold Holder in contempt. This means the Republican controlled House of Representatives will vote this week to hold the Attorney General of the United States in contempt of Congress for withholding these documents, even after President Obama has declared "Executive Privilege" (for the first time), concerning these documents, which effectively takes the responsibility to turn them over from Holder to the President himself. Issa voted anyway, as the House is expected to.
Because they really couldn't give a damn what innocuous documents the DOJ may, or may not have. They're just trying to stir up trouble for the President during an election year. They're trying to create another Watergate, another Clinton/Lewinsky like scandal just in front of the election.
The little scamps.
So what will happen after the House votes the Attorney General in contempt?
The vote will be referred back to the Attorney General's office for review. It seems unlikely Eric Holder will decide to act against himself.
So all of these Sunday shows are promoting Issa's BS political agenda, which has no real news value at all, and will most likely be forgotten by this time next week. Thank you NBC, ABC, and Fox. Or should I say Comcast, GE, Disney, and News Corp. Or should I say Brian L. Roberts, Jeffrey Immelt, Anne Sweeney, and Rupert (Rupert) "Freaking" Murdoch.

On to matters of consequence that actually have something to do with the first part of this post.
As I mentioned, global warming (a term I prefer to "climate change," as the climate changes everyday. Weather people make a living trying to tell folks how the climate will change during next week) is happening. It has been confirmed repeatedly by trained experts, some may even call them scientists, specifically meteorologists, who are trained to know about and study these things using the very scientific method, that very simple, almost fool proof method that I described in Part 1. These meteorologists talk to other, different scientists, like oceanographers and geologists, since climate, and it's history, affects the oceans and the Earth's surface, where most of us live, as well. All of these scientists get together, pool their resources and experimental or observational evidence, and have come to what is known as a consensus, or opinion, which in this case affects all living things on this planet. These scientists then publish their opinions, and the evidence supporting them in scientific journals, and thusly the rest of us human beings get to know about it. Our governments then become aware of this hard fought for knowledge, and if it is inconvenient or too detrimental to their traditional national economies and business interests,  then they ignore those hard fought for opinions and knowledge, try to marginalize the very scientists who came up with these inconvenient ideas, and spend oodles of money attempting to discredit the ideas themselves.
Governments and religious institutions do this all of the time!
As a matter of fact the only scientists who disclaim the current global warming theory (why is it a theory and not a so-called "fact"? Because there are no facts in science, because scientific theories are always open to amendment, or change, which may or may not eventually disprove them. So why should we spend so much money trying to combat global warming trends? Because the available evidence supporting its existence is well founded and overwhelming compared to competing theories, and considering the consequences of doing nothing to stop it are so dire, responsible action is dictated. But it's just a theory, the deniers say. So is electron movement along conductors. I can't see electrons moving along copper wires, but I know the consequences of standing barefoot in a puddle of water and sticking my finger into an electrical socket are so dire, it is the responsible thing for me to do to take measures to make sure that doesn't happen. That's why I have so many pairs of rubber boots in my box) are those that are sponsored (which is a polite way of saying "paid for," or "bought,") by the governments and the industries that pollute the environment and for whom they work for. That's why we see so many Republicans in Congress, and presidential candidates like Mitt (Mitt) Romney, and the Republican Noise Machine, which includes the drug addled gas bag Rush Limbaugh, gigantor head Sean Hannity, and their kind, always proclaiming that global warming is the biggest hoax there ever was, it's all just "junk science' (whatever that means), it is largely disputed, on and on, spewing out these lies over and over again to their loyal audience members and constituents who need to be led rather than think for themselves. In the process they are doing themselves, the United States, and the world (or I should say, the people and other living organizisms living in and on the planet) a huge, irreversible disservice by their actions (and inactions).
But what can you say? These people are sick. They're like little kids, gimme, gimme, gimme, or they're going to cry and hold their breath, or whatever, until they get what they want, no matter how much it may hurt them and others (everybody in this instance).
Actually they are more like addicts than children. Or rather addicted children is more like it. Alcoholics and addicts will continue drinking and using until they've consumed the very last drop of booze, swallowed the last pill, snorted the last snort, smoked the last hit, despite the damage they do to themselves, their families, and their communities. They're sick people, just as the majority of Republicans are sociopaths... sick. They need rehab. They can't help what they do because they just don't know any better. And they all cling to each other in a great big orgy of reassurance to substantiate their addictions (take a look at "Fox and Friends," sometime... if you can stomach it).
An absurd example of this are the latest actions of developers, their lobbyists, and state representatives in North Carolina, which Mr. Colbert reports on the clip above, and which is depicted in the following American Scientific story:
Rising sea levels are predicted by scientists caused by global warming. Rising sea levels will adversely affect business interests along said coast. So their course of action is to lobby state administrators to make the measurement of future sea levels coincide to what is convenient for these business interests, rather than what nature and reality will eventually deliver, whether the political establishment in North Carolina, and these associated business interests, like it or not. In other words they're making it illegal to admit to the truth.
This is the height of hypocrisy, stupidity, and irresponsibility. This is the act of children... addicted children.
The corporate masters of the Republicans (and the Democrats to a lesser extent), and the super rich who control them, the 1 to 10 percent at the top of the economic chain, are similarly addicted to power and money. The Koch bros, and people like this casino operator, Sheldon Adelson, each worth about 25 billion, give or take a couple of hundred million or so. Each are spending millions, and conniving to end the Obama presidency. For what? Mostly, so the Republicans will regain the White House, retain power in Congress, allowing the resumption of Bush policies like deregulation of business, which allows the bros and Adelson to make even more freaking money! It's positively extraordinary, and to me personally, revolting.
These captains of industry, the ones the Republicans kowtow to, the ones who actually control the world, are simply little kids who don't know any better. Who cry and complain like little babies when they don't get their way. Selfish little babies.
They are of an adult age of course, in these three instances, markedly so, which makes their money and power addictions a disease. They are sick. They need help. Garfunkel and Oates know this and want to reach out to them:
Unfortunately for these people real reality always steps in screws up their little worlds. As the alcoholic who will always run out of booze, the drug addict who runs out of money to buy more drugs, the planet Earth will at one point run out of fossil fuels.
This is true. At some point in the future if we continue using them in the vast quantities that we are today, and poisoning the environment in the process, the planet will inevitably be sucked dry of oil and natural gas, the shale sludge will be gone, everything will all be used up.
Everyone knows this. Every sane person that is. It could be hundreds of years from now, or 30. We already know it's getting harder and harder to drill for oil which indicates we've already used up the easy to get to reserves.
Well, considering what we know about how the consumption of oil affects the environment (adversely), coupled with the knowledge that the oil supply is finite, what should be society's responsible course of action?
I'll give you a hint: look for and develop alternative sources of energy that doesn't contribute to environmental destruction. In other words, green energy sources, green industries, and green economies.
I mean... this isn't rocket science! If I can figure this out than anyone can.
The development of green energy is the responsible... adult, course of action we should be pursuing right now! Not ten, twenty, or fifty years in the future. Right now.
Are we? Of course we're not! Development of green energy sources and industry, well that's like a dirty phrase in the halls of Congress. Why? Because of Republican algebra, that's why. The childlike addiction to immediate profits (i.e., cash flow; i.e. the next bottle, the next pill, the next hit) at the expense of our future, and the futures of our children and their children (not to mention all of the other plants and creatures that live with us).
Addicts typically can't stop their destructive behavior until they reach bottom, or they're forced to.
I'm afraid these power and money addicts will never reach a bottom. At some point they will be forced to stop, or alter their current activities. Reality decrees that this will sometime come to pass.
Unless we the voting public force them now. We still retain that power even though they are desperately trying to take even that away from us.
If we don't do it now I'm afraid their irresponsible addictions will cost us all to much in the future.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rising Sea Levels Illegal in North Carolina & Republican Madness Part 1

Republican algebra: A > B.

Where A represents “immediate monetary interests,” and B represents “future survival of the planet's biosphere, which includes human beings (men, women, and children)."

For those of us who flunked algebra, > represents “greater than.”
Analysis of Republican algebra: (A > B) = C, where C represents “massive greed, shortsightedness, and irresponsibility."

 Denial, is not only a river in Egypt, it’s: “Denial (also called abnegation) is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigman Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.” -Wikipedia

We’ve discussed or mentioned global warming and climate change on this site many times, and I have came to the same conclusion as much as I’ve mentioned it; that it is real, it will have real, extraordinary effects upon our small planet and all of its inhabitants, it doesn’t matter what is causing it, that it still must be dealt with if humans want to continue living here, and that these conclusions are supported by verifiable, yes, scientific evidence. I’ve come to this same conclusion so many times it makes my ears bleed to think about it.
Let’s keep in mind that science, and the scientific method, are merely the best, truest, simplest, and time tested tools that humans have developed to discover truth. What kind of truth? Truth that can be verified by anyone who chooses to do so. The scientific method always consists of three components; 1: postulate a theory or idea, 2: test it by experiment, and if the experiment seems to verify the theory or idea, 3: have the theory or idea and the experimental evidence verified by peers, who can test it repeatedly, or as we like to say, over and over again, trying to poke holes in it, or discover alternate theorys that can explain the experimental evidence (and have those theorys tested by experiment and subjected to further peer review), and if it is concluded the theory is wrong go back to the drawing board, or if it tests out right, claim that the theory is true, that it works within the real world and is indeed a part of how nature works. At all times the original theory can be tested by anyone, and if more accurate experimentation methods are developed and it is determined that there are better explanations to describe the observable evidence then that theory must be revised, no matter how much we may have come to cherish it (all of that peer review makes the scientific method “self correcting," which makes it the best, truest, simplest, and time tested tool that humans have developed (so far) to discover truth).
As Dr. Carl Sagan put it, and I paraphrase here, we must always courageously go where the evidence takes us, not where we may like it to go.
That’s not scary is it? I don’t know why, but a lot of people think it is.
It’s gotten us quite a lot: the Iphone for instance, and automobiles for us to use those Iphones in while driving. Automatic cameras on street lights, so we can be issued citations for driving while using an Iphone. Electric light bulbs, so we can see in our homes at night without having to use candles which cuts down on our need for whale blubber. Its given us computers, and advances in agriculture which allows a percentage of the 7 billion of us on Earth to become obese. Its given us books and heart transplants, vaccines and the medications many of us rely on. Its given us the electric guitar. Its given us smog. Its given us the hydrogen bomb and a whole bunch of other ways we can slaughter each other. Its given us submarines which are really cool. Aircraft carriers and the planes that take off and land on them. Its given us fans and television, and movies, and prophylactics and Vicks Vaporub. Its given us a whole bunch of stuff! Much too much to fully mention at this particular time.
It has also given us the ability to detect, measure, and record shifts in global weather patterns over long periods of time.
It’s so funny! I never hear our right winger friends (even the Tea Baggers) complain about any of those things listed above (except for that last one), and the rest of us sane people, most of the things listed above. We’ve gotten used to all of this convenient technology. Many of us, like my lovely ex-case manager Erin, have never lived without it, and maybe assume that it has always been here (I can’t imagine her without an Iphone surgically attached to her person).
Be that as it may, a lot of us have very deep felt beliefs about certain things, most notably matters that deal with politics and religion. And we’ve discussed recently that the way we think, the way we perceive the world, is made up in a large part by our environment (how we are raised and ideas indoctrinated into us by parents), and genetics (our physical and mental proclivities hard wired into us). This allows for the fact that a large percentage of our population will happily abandon verifiable reality in order to embrace a reality of their own, that may not have a whole lot to do with real reality. Why? Because that is their nature, and it is convenient for them to maintain a sense of security in this at times frightening world.
I understand that, I do. I rarely try, nor feel any great need to attempt to change people’s minds through argument or discussion about matters mostly concerning politics and religion. It almost never works, wastes a good deal of my time, and sometimes when people’s strong beliefs are challenged in any way, they often get defensive, and sometimes real mad.
It doesn’t bother me that my lovely sister believes in God, which I do not (no evidence). It doesn’t hurt me in any way, it certainly doesn’t affect me in any way whatsoever. Her beliefs provide her comfort, and I would be loath to deprive her of that comfort by trying convert her to my way of thinking.
But when some people try to force their beliefs onto others, or through the political process attempt to change our society to conform with policies and beliefs that may be detrimental to our society... well then we have a problem, and for some strange reason that is difficult to fathom, a lot of folks, especially conservatives, are not happy unless everybody thinks the same way that they do.
A recent example of this is that Republican legislatures in a majority of our states insist on passing laws, like those concerning a woman’s right to choose to have a baby or not after getting pregnant, that reflect their personal and religious views, therefore attempting to force those views on to a portion of the population that do not agree with them. I don’t know why they do this other than for political reasons, as it is as unlikely that conservative laws, ideology, and social pressure will persuade liberal minds to change, as it is the other way around.
People cannot be forced to accept an ideology they do not believe in.
And now politics enters the picture. And when we talk about Republican politics, at the present time, we’re also talking about greed, manipulation, and psychopathology.
Not all of those who identify with the Republican Party, or are conservative in nature, are greedy, manipulative, and psychopaths, by any means. Right now I’m talking about the Republican leadership, whether it be national, state, or local.
I do not believe the Republicans actually believe half of the crap they spew, however they are masters of manipulation, and they have a huge media presence, that all too often spills over into the corporate controlled so-called mainstream. They don’t have plans of their own to provide to the American voters, so their current game plan is to convince the electorate that the democrats policies are not working, even though they currently are, for the most part. Let’s take the state of the economy and employment for instance. President Obama held a press conference Friday to discuss the economy, where he presented a fairly accurate assessment of how we are doing (except for him stating the “private sector is doing fine,” which the Republican Noise Machine immediately jumped all over, which allowed Mitt (Mitt) to make the assertion that America doesn’t need it’s firemen, police, or teachers... what a douche). Obama rightly stated that all of his efforts to create jobs (The American Jobs Act of 2011, which the Republicans defeated last October), or improve the economy had been blocked by the Republican controlled House of Representatives. This is true. The Republicans in both the House and Senate have acted in concert to obstruct all of the President’s proposals. Why? Because they are traitors. They would see the American economy fail in order to defeat Obama in November. As far as I’m concerned that is an open conspiracy to damage the United States of America, much as they did last year during the budget ceiling debacle, in which they allowed the country’s credit rating to decline for the first time in our nation’s history.
Anyway, right after the President’s press conference, the House leadership, namely Reps Boehner (The Brown One) and Cantor (The Incredibly Irritating One) replied with a press conference of their own at which time they accused the President of playing “the blame game” (my gosh, these guys can’t think of an original thought between them), and that it was not their fault that the economy was still sluggish, and that unemployment is still relatively high, and of course blamed the president (who is it that is playing the blame game?), when in reality it was and is the Republicans in Congress who are obstructing anything Obama may do to improve the economy (Republicans are not adverse to, how shall I put this... lying).
And I can’t really blame these guys for doing what they do because I don’t think they know any better. They are sick. They are sociopaths who need medical treatment, not to be in control of a major house of Congress. They need help, pure and simple.
So please America... please vote these... people... out of office where they can’t hurt anyone anymore. All of them. Let them go home, enter mental institutions, and maybe someday, with lots of thorazine and happy talk, they’ll get better.
Or keep them there for the rest of their lives, I don’t care. As long as they can’t hurt anybody anymore.
What would the Republicans do if they were to regain the White House in November, with the help of their ten or so psychotic billionaire backers... the same old crap that got us into the recession in the first place. The same failed policies that Bush used; lower taxes for the rich, decrease spending on social issues (because that takes away money they could be giving to the rich), increase military spending when we don’t need to, deregulate... well everything, and privatize... well everything.
What was it that Einstein said about insanity? Oh yes, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s what the Republicans are all about, except it’s not them that are being damaged by their actions.
It’s us.

To be continued.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and Victoria Grant

“...despite the passage of Bill C-24 in 2003, and Bill C-2 in December 2006, it's still legal for wealthy special interests to give unlimited amounts of money, property or services in secret to candidates in federal nomination races and federal party leadership races, and other loopholes still exist in the federal political donations system.
Whether it's big banks trying to preserve their government protections and subsidies, brand-name pharmaceutical companies reaping billions of dollars from patent laws, defense and aerospace companies receiving lucrative contracts from the Department of National Defense, or petrochemical companies opposing better environmental laws -- the major political donors are invariably those with the greatest stake in government decisions.” -Canada’s Democracy Watch

On 24 April 2009, President Barack Obama called for an end to the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. Why? Funny you should ask, dear readers. Higher education costs in the United States are quite prohibitive.
“In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a ‘moderate’ college budget for an in-state public college for the 2011–2012 academic year averaged $21,447 ($85,788 for four years). A moderate budget at a private college averaged $42,224 ($168, 896).” This includes tuition and “charges for specific services such as Internet access. Many colleges list ‘tuition and fees’ as one amount without breaking it down. And lastly, there are all the other expenses associated with going to college: housing, meals, books, school supplies, and ‘miscellaneous.’” -CollegeData
It is my humble opinion that educating our country’s young adults tends to profit the country as a whole and should be considered a vital investment in infrastructure needed to ensure the United States of America remains competitive in all areas of academic endeavors, and therefore part of the country’s commons, and should be free to all who to seek a college education. This idea makes a good deal of sense, increases the number of college educated graduates who would then go on to contribute to the national economy without being virtually enslaved by a crippling debt load. We provide free education for children through high school. Why? Because the nation would pay a tremendous and unacceptable price if we allowed them to grow up ignorant (although that may be acceptable to the far right as the dumber an electorate is the easier it is to lie to and manipulate them (i.e. the Khmer Rouge’s tendency to execute educated members of it’s population after they took over control of Cambodia in 1975... there are many other examples, too many). And there are cries by the same far right that call for primary education to be privatized and run for profit). Thomas Paine thought it was a good idea. Free college education exists in many European countries, such as Denmark, Norway, Finland. Brazil, Argentina, Libya, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, even China, our great competitor, is taking steps to provide free education up to tertiary levels. These countries haven’t imploded due to their policies. Many of them are considered the very best nations to live and prosper within. Why? I think to a large degree it’s the fact that they are sane.
Unfortunately we here in the United States (“not sane") live in a capitalistic society that’s gone mad, which is reinforced and policed by both parties in Congress. These members of Congress, and the education industry they partially work for, would fart dust if the idea of free higher education in this country were to be taken up seriously, which means, of course, that at the present time the idea is tantamount to political suicide for anyone who would introduce the policy.
Considering the above fact what was it that Obama hoped to achieve be repealing the FFEL program? I can answer that because he said why, but first what is the FFEL system of college loans?
It was a system in which private lenders (banks and corporations like Sallie Mae) made federally guaranteed student loans to students, for a fee. These loans were guaranteed by the federal government and partially subsidized by it as well (these subsidies were used to maintain interest rates at the federally mandated levels, and helped pay certain fees associated with the loans). So these private lenders faced no risk whatsoever against the loans defaulting.
The FFEL loan program was the second largest student loan program in the nation until it was repealed. What was first? What is known as the Direct Loan Program was and remains the largest. What does it do? It provides "low-interest loans for students and parents to help pay for the cost of a student's education after high school. The lender is the United States Department of Education... rather than a bank or other financial intitution." -Student Aid on the Web

So the Direct Loan program provided loans directly to students, and the FFEL program provided loans to students by guaranteeing loans administered by private lenders, for which these lenders received a fee for their services.
What was it that these private lenders provided that the federal government could not provide by lending directly to students?
Not a freaking thing, that’s what! The FFEL program was a huge giveaway to banks and commercial lenders. The banks received fees for providing a small administration service that could be provided by the government directly (if it wasn’t too busy that is), so President Obama, quite rightly, eliminated them, calling it a wasteful and inefficient system of "taxpayers...paying banks a premium to act as middlemen—a premium that costs the American people billions of dollars each year....a premium we cannot afford."
A Congressional Budget Office review in July 2009 showed that if the government did the direct lending itself, rather than use private sector lenders via FFEL, it would save $80 billion over ten years. That’s almost like 8 billion a year. 8 billion a year going to Sallie Mae and private lenders for doing diddly squat.
The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which eliminated the FFEL Program, was passed by Congress using the reconciliation process (which prevented a Republican filibuster in the Senate and advanced the bill with a simple majority instead of the 60-vote supermajority they no longer had), and signed into law by President Obama on March 30, 2010

Enter Miss Victoria Grant (pictured above), a pretty 12 year old student from Cambridge, Ontario, which happens to be in the great nation to our north, which is Canada (43° 21′ 30″ N, 80° 18′ 50″ W, to be precise), was at one time into competitive gymnastics (as I still am), but now plays soccer, which is appropriate as she’s a girl. She goes camping in the summer, attended a performance by Cirque du Soleil last month, likes to watch television shows like “A.N.T. Farm,” and “Good Luck Charlie (I have no idea what these are),” and wants to be a clothing designer when she gets a tad older. She has blue painted toe nails and thinks the Canadian federal government is in collusion with Canadian commercial banks to rip off the people of Canada (she does not actually mention the act of collusion, but it is certainly implied by what she says).
“Have you ever wondered why bankers are becoming wealthier and the rest of us are not?” Victoria asks, her voice clear and confident in a talk she’s given in Canada and the U.S., and that her father posted on the YouTube machine. She argues that the government of Canada should borrow directly from the Bank of Canada (the government’s own bank), and not from private banks that charge higher interest rates.
Don’t believe me? I’ll let her speak for herself:

It began as a 6th grade project, as most things do. Victoria’s dad Zane, who works as a project manager at Research In Motion, who is somewhat of a banking enthusiast, encourages dinner table discussions on the subject. “Money drives wars,” he says. “Bankers provide the money ... Why aren’t we taking the money that is used for war and giving it to people who actually need it.”
So when Victoria needed a topic for a speech competition organized by the Association of Christian Schools International, she chose banking. “It doesn’t sound right,” Victoria says, “that the government, like, has been borrowing from private banks and putting us into debt.”
Her father helped her edit her speech. Victoria spent weeks preparing it. “She is friendly and bubbly,” says her mother, Marcia, a principal at Resurrection Christian Academy, where her daughter attends, “but also very determined, hard-working and disciplined.”
Zane put a seven minute clip of Victoria presenting her speech on the Internet via YouTube, which went viral.
Her speech has had hundreds of thousands of views and spurred commentary on the value of the Bank of Canada and the principles of Keynesian economics.
Some have commented that the words she presents are not her own.
But her parents contend she understands what she’s talking about.
“She couldn’t use any concepts she couldn’t explain or use any words she couldn’t define or use in a different context,” says her dad.
Basically, her message is that banks create money “out of thin air” and lend it to people and governments at interest. If governments borrowed from their own banks, they could keep the interest and save a lot of money for taxpayers.
She said Canada actually did this, from 1939 to 1974. During that time, the government’s debt was low and manageable, and Canada funded all sorts of remarkable projects and programs. Only when the government switched to borrowing privately did it acquire a crippling national debt.
Why did the government switch in 1974? Another good question, dear readers. Collusion between the banking industry and the government of Canada seems to be the simplest possible answer, as the Canadian government is plagued with money in its political system as is the U.S.
But that’s my conclusion. Young Victoria never brings up the subject.
Borrowing privately means selling bonds at market rates of interest (which in Canada quickly shot up to 22%), and the money for those bonds is ultimately created by private banks. Victoria quoted Graham Towers, head of the Bank of Canada for the first twenty years of its history. He said:

Each and every time a bank makes a loan, new bank credit is created — new deposits — brand new money. Broadly speaking, all new money comes out of a Bank in the form of loans. As loans are debts, then under the present system all money is debt.

Towers was asked, “Will you tell me why a government with power to create money, should give that power away to a private monopoly, and then borrow that which parliament can create itself, back at interest, to the point of national bankruptcy?” He replied, “If Parliament wants to change the form of operating the banking system, then certainly that is within the power of Parliament.”
Victoria said, “If the Canadian government needs money, they can borrow it directly from the Bank of Canada. The people would then pay fair taxes to repay the Bank of Canada. This tax money would in turn get injected back into the economic infrastructure and the debt would be wiped out. Canadians would again prosper with real money as the foundation of our economic structure and not debt money. Regarding the debt money owed to the private banks such as the Royal Bank, we would simply have the Bank of Canada print the money owing, hand it over to the private banks, and then clear the debt to the Bank of Canada.”
Victoria has her critics. Some state that out of control government spending is the cause of Canada’s ills (sound familiar?), others site inflation as a factor.
However the Canadian government’s own Auditor General (the nation’s top accountant, who reviews the government’s books) appears to support Victoria’s position. In 1993, the Auditor General noted in his annual report:

[The] cost of borrowing and its compounding effect have a significant impact on Canada’s annual deficits. From Confederation up to 1991-92, the federal government accumulated a net debt of $423 billion. Of this, $37 billion represents the accumulated shortfall in meeting the cost of government programs since Confederation. The remainder, $386 billion, represents the amount the government has borrowed to service the debt created by previous annual shortfalls.

He’s saying that 91% of the debt consists of compounded interest charges. Subtract those and the government would have a debt of only C$37 billion, very low and sustainable, just as it was before 1974.
This is the position that Victoria has posited. The government can either borrow money that ultimately comes from private banks, which admittedly creates it out of thin air, and soaks the taxpayers for a huge interest payments; or it can borrow from its own bank, which also creates the money out of thin air, and avoid that interest.
The Bush recession has caused massive problems for the entire planet, and many of the problems that the United States faces are similar in nature to those of Canada. The real problems, such as corporate and special interest money in politics and elections, debt, corruption, to name a few. When President Obama took office in 2008 I was just soooo happy, and naively thought our wonderful nation was finally on the road to a new beginning, one of integrity, honesty, and pragmatic problem solving, and to Obama’s credit some of that has shown its head from time to time.
But when he chose people like Tim Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury, and Larry Summers as the Director of the White House United States National Economic Council, and later Jeff Immelt as chairman of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, good old boys that helped create the economic crisis of 2007, and whose loyalty was to Wall Street rather than Main Street, I said to myself, “Bagami ma,” which means “F _ _ k me,” in Romanian, and I knew we were in trouble. As a result we’ve experienced a slow and sluggish recovery, a huge degree of income inequality, the stagnation of the middle class, the embrace of austerity measures, a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives, and high unemployment, among other unnecessary miseries.
We should have made a clean break with the failed policies of the past, and Obama should have placed economists like Nobel winner Paul Krugman and former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich (who know the way out of a recessed or depressed economy is for the one entity that has the capability to inject money into the economy and stimulate economic growth... is the federal government, and that it needs to spend on improving infrastructure and job programs, etc., the exact opposite of the policies the Republicans worship, which haven't worked in the past, and will not work in the future) in his Cabinet, and perhaps hire a 12 year old girl from Canada as Debt Advisor, to lead the nation toward a full recovery.

I’m convinced we would be much further along than we are now if he had done that, the United States... and the world.

Paul Krugman, The Republican Economy

Thanks go to Leslie Scrivener of The Record for most of the personal information.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


As I briefly mentioned in the yesterday’s post I am currently visiting my lovely sister Cheryl, my equally lovely niece Keri, and my equally lovely grandnephew Jaxen, here in lovely Bullhead City, which is located in what we like to call the “Tri-State” region of the American southwest. We like to call it that because the prefix “Tri” implies the number 3, and the subject “State” refers to one of the fifty federated states of the United States of America which shares sovereignty with the United States Federal Government. I just want to be perfectly clear about this.
So we’re talking about three states here, and in this particular case we’re talking about California, Nevada, and Arizona, which all come together, geographically speaking that is, approximately seven miles south, as the crow flies, of where I’m sitting right now. Bullhead City lies within Arizona, about 22 miles from Needles, California, to the south, and about 100 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada, to the north. Bullhead sits right next to the lovely and majestic, Colorado River, on its west side. Across that very river lies the third most visited gambling resort in Nevada, Laughlin. The two cities are connected by the Laughlin Bridge, constructed in 1987. Before the bridge those who worked in Laughlin and who lived in Bullhead had to swim across the Colorado River to get to work, which can be quite dicey at times. My sister still has nightmares concerning Largemouth bass.
The majestic Grand Canyon is approximately 321.8 miles to Bullhead’s northeast.
To put it succinctly, Bullhead City is located at 35° 6′ 56″ N, 114° 35′ 19″ W.
I’m certainly glad we’ve cleared this up. Now we can go on to other things.
My dear sister has lived here for over 30 years, ever since she and my lovely mother abandoned me in Los Angeles in the late 70s. My mom had married a man nicknamed Gabby, who had a trailer home here in Bullhead at first, and who later built a house, where they all moved to. My niece has lived here all of her 28 years, and has never seen anything of the outside world, which she maintains is just “one big desert.” She doesn’t know anything about forests, or snow, or oceans, and thinks the world is flat. The same goes for my grandnephew.
Just kidding Keri. Please don’t hurt me.
She can be fierce at times.
Since those early days Gabby and my dear mother, Susie, have passed, and Cheryl remained here as she had found employment within the gaming industry in Laughlin. She’s working there right now as a matter of fact. I’m using her computer to compose this post, in her home in Bullhead, alone with her lovely 17 year old cat, Circle, who my sister may find interesting to learn, roams around the house meowing as if in agony when she’s not here.
So I’m all alone with a cat right now, and could easily run amok if I so chose to do so, much like Johnny Depp in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” however I shall resist the temptation.
Many people who live in Bullhead work in Laughlin. You can see them all over the place. One could easily say that Bullhead City provides a “labor pool” for the casinos across the river.
Many of you have asked, “Rick... where the hell did Bullhead City come from?” Well, I shall endeavor to answer that very question.
I give many thanks to Terrence Malick, and his evolution scene from his 2011 film, “Tree of Life,” to get us from the Big Bang to the advent of life on Earth, and the time of the dinosaurs about 230 million years ago. I can carry on from there.
The Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which occurred approximately 65.5 million years ago, and was possibly caused by an asteroid impact, or increased volcanic activity, or other things, got rid of all of those pesky dinosaurs, as well as a large percentage of all forms of life that largely depended on utilizing direct sunlight. This led the way for small mole like creatures, namely mammals, to take over, giving them a chance to evolve into humanoids, which led to Homo sapiens about 50,000 years ago.
Unless of course God was playing tricks with us, and he/she/it buried all of the fossil evidence that’s been subsequently found, as well as simulating the expansion of the universe, just to fool us, and the cosmos and Earth are really between 5,700 and 10,000 years old, as many would have us believe.
“Just playing,” I can hear God saying, laughing he/she/it’s ass off.
Anyway, humans got tired of living in Africa and decided to move, and they moved all over the place! Some of them settled in what we now call the Colorado River Valley, the Mohave people. That’s what they called themselves (actually they called themselves the Pipa Aha Macav, meaning "People by the River," which came the shortened name "Mojave" (also spelled "Mohave"). They were able to make a living as farmers due to the good dirt and and plentiful water around, and decided to stay here.
We don’t know a whole bunch about their history because they didn’t write anything down. Boy, I bet they regret that now.
Around the year 1540 some people who had decided to live half way around the planet in a place we now call Spain, came to visit, namely the explorer Melchior Díaz. That’s the first time the Mohave people met anyone else who was not a Mohave person. Diaz came, stayed a while, looked around, learned a lot, moved on, and eventually accidentally killed himself while trying to spear a dog with his lance. PETA should use him as a warning to those who would mistreat animals.
Other foreigners would come, say hello, and go. When those who had colonized the eastern part of the North American continent showed up they decided to colonize the Colorado River Valley as well. The Mohave people didn’t like that at all. I don’t blame them! However, these colonists had what we call a military force, as we have today, who came to protect the colonists, and this military force settled in what we call now, Fort Mohave, and gave the Mohave people what we now call an ultimatum, either get with the program of colonization and live on reservations, or be slaughtered.
Considering the military force had what are now called guns and the Mohave people didn't, they chose to live on reservations.
The area which is now called Bullhead City was first called Hardyville, around the middle 1800s. Before that it didn’t have a name at all.
Hardyville of course was named after Oliver Hardy, the famous American comic actor, who hadn’t even been born yet.
I know, it’s weird.
From 1852 to 1909, stern wheeler steamboats made regular trips up the Colorado River from Mexico, passing Hardyville regularly. Mark Twain could be seen at the wheel sometimes.
There where minerals in the ground nearby and Hardyville became important as a mining community and grew and prospered. It had a general store, a saloon, a blacksmith shop, a quartz mill, a public hall, and a place to play pool.
The minerals were soon hard to come by and during the 20th century people started going elsewhere. A railroad was built from Needles, California, to Kingman, Arizona, which is located at 35° 12′ 30″ N, 114° 1′ 33″ W, about 35 miles directly east of Hardyville, which dissed Hardyville completely, and which led to it being abandoned, becoming a ghost town... where ghosts live.
Years later some enthusiastic people with lots of time on their hands and a boat load of cash decided to build a dam near where Hardyville used to be. I don’t know why.
It took about 9 years to build that dam. From 1943 to 1951, and a whole bunch of people were needed to build it. A decision was made to throw the ghosts out of Hardyville and use it as a base camp for the construction workers. The town was renamed Bullhead because of a big rock nearby, "Bull's Head Rock," a formation along the Colorado River which was used for navigation.
The name of the dam was first Bullhead Dam, due to that very same rock, but was later renamed Davis Dam, in honor the famous entertainer, Sammy Davis Jr.
In 1970, Bullhead City was the name of the six blocks that ran north-south along Highway 95, right across the river from where Don Laughlin had built his Riverside hotel and casino (he named it that because it was alongside a river). About 1,000 people lived there at the time and 3,000 in adjacent Riviera. In 1984 Bullhead City attacked Riviera and Holiday Shores in a bloodless coup, and absorbed them, becoming just Bullhead City. As Laughlin grew in popularity and expanded, so did Bullhead City, becoming the mighty metropolis it is today. Why it has it’s own hospitals, colleges, grocery stores, libraries, police station, airport, cable TV, and even a Walmart!
As of the census of 2006, there were 40,225 people, 13,909 households, and 9,110 families residing in Bullhead. Probably more now.
It gets very hot here at times, especially during the summer. Sometimes it’s even the hottest place in the nation, reaching temperatures in the upper 120s. Fahrenheit, not Celsius.
A lot of roadrunners live nearby. Real ones, not those fake cartoon ones.
And scorpions. I’ve seen them.
And centipedes... and bunnies.
Every year during the last long weekend in April, thousands of bikers come to the area, in what is known as the Laughlin River Run. They come here to run amok like Johnny Depp in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” because they can’t do so at home.
The famous author of westerns, Louis L'Amour, at one time was a mine assessment worker at nearby at Katherine Mine.
The idiot, so-called adventurer, Christopher McCandless, worked at McDonald's in Bullhead for 2 months once. He later committed suicide by idiocy at the age of 24.
I once worked here as an ATM technician and had a paper route in the mornings.
It is very hard to deliver papers in Bullhead City as half of the freaking houses don’t bother posting their address in front of their homes.
This is what the Mohave Valley Daily News had to say about Bullhead in today’s edition: “Bullhead City has the lowest cost of living in Arizona, beating out Kingman and Lake Havasu City, according the ACCRA Cost of Living Index compiled by the Council for Community and Economic Research.”
Imagine that.
And that’s basically it. I hope I’ve been able to answer your questions, dear readers. It has been a pleasure and tremendous honor, believe me.
And finally, an additional personal note. Yesterday I was able to meet my grandnephew Jaxen Lee, for the very first time. He’s now a little over two years old, blonde like his mom, extremely handsome like me, and wise beyond his years. For example, after breaking the ice we both sat down in front of grandma’s computer to watch Elmo (Sesame Street) videos. I asked him which one he wanted to watch first, and he always (I’m told) picks Elmo singing “Hot N Cold,” with the lovely and voluptuous Katy Perry... as he did yesterday.
Nothing wrong with this kid.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Goodbye Ray

Writing today from Bullhead City in Arizona while visiting my sister, I was very saddened to learn of the death of legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who passed away yesterday at the age of 91.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Bradbury twice and listen to him speak. Once at the annual Book Fair on the UCLA campus several years ago, and again at a memorial for Carl Sagan held in Los Angeles shortly after Dr. Sagan died.

He was the author of many science fiction classics, “The Martian Chronicles,” “Fahrenheit 451," “Dandelion Wine," “Something Wicked This Way Comes," even the screenplay for John Houston’s 1956 version of “Moby Dick." And he is the author of one of my very favorite short stories, 1951‘s “The Fog Horn," the sad story of unrequited love between a sea monster and a solitary lighthouse. I highly recommend you seek it out, dear readers.

He and I attended the same university, that of the library, specifically the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles.

He was an elegant and friendly man, with a huge sense of humor and wonder. I will surely miss him sharing this world with me, and this world will surely miss him as well.