Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Maybe it's the crummy weather, or maybe I'm coming down with a cold and it's making me depressed. Still I can't help but be convinced that G.W. will walk away with the up-coming election in November. While not as close as we would hope Kerry will still fall short of the necessary Electoral College votes, giving Bush & Co. another four years.

Sometime next spring a number of scandals and revelations will occur that will turn the American people (too late) against the administration, which will spend the next three plus years trying to prevent both the Prez and V.P. from ending up before the same type of impeachment process we saw Bill Clinton barely survive. We can also expect not only the death toll in Iraq to increase, but for U.S. troops to be sent into at least one other mid-East country for some obscure rational which will later turn out to be false.

Hang on to your hats, it's going to be a bumpy four plus years! (Yeah, I hope I'm off base on this, too.)
Go ahead and call me a fanboy, but these American Express bits with Jerry Seinfeld & SUPERMAN are amazing. Don't just watch "Uniform" which is brilliant, but take a peek at the two shorter pieces "Desert" and "Hindsight". Hat tip to Mark Evanier for being the first to bring this to my attention.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Looks like the Disney folks are going to try to hook into the Harry Potter market. What I find surprising about this announcement is that neither Harry nor the hit WB show CHARMED are mentioned, even though the series W.I.T.C.H. does have similarities to both. Aimed at 'young girls' and based on an already successful series of comics, the series deals with young students who discover they have special powers which they use to fight evil.

I think you'll have to subscribe to read this article over at the Washington Post, but you still might be interested.

I'm also curious why Disney really doesn't seem interested in pushing the actual comic title, for which the concept was created, if it has been so successful in other countries. Then of course, Disney's current power structure never promoted nor distributed their own line of comics when they were publishing them in the U.S.

Monday, March 29, 2004

You've got to check out this article over at SLATE, which presents the Pledge of allegiance in PowerPoint. Brilliant!
If you have a strong stomach, and have already digested breakfast, you might want to take a look this article. It deals with a pronouncement of an Australian lung-specialist.

Also, while at the site (which is so incredible British) you'll discover incredible facts and pictures on sheds. My fave is naturally Fred the Shed which you can find under the "Share Your Shed" link. :-)

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Cerebus did indeed die alone, whether he is unmourned is another story. It seems incredible that Dave Sim really was able to complete his epic story, pretty much exactly when he said he would.

While I began reading the title back with #26, there have been times (and I know I'm not the only one who felt this way) that I was close to dropping the book. It wasn't so much the story, although there were times when there was little if any story at all. It was the other things. Sim's increasing misogyny (which he terms 'anti-feminism') and seeming homophobia (something which Sim also blames on 'feminists, in some bizarre logic that I certainly can't follow) was what really bothered me. It became more and more necessary to simply read those pages featuring Cerebus (and in the past couple years those grew less and less, especially during the "Woody Allen" (so okay, it wasn't really Woody, but who else then) sub-plot).

I don't pretend to understand Sim's religious conversion, if that is in fact what it is. He appears to have created (as did his character) his own religion, taking elements from Judaism, Christianity and Islam. If he has truly found peace and fulfillment, then more power to him, but I don't know what he hoped to prove in the end. In his final columns and the letter to his lawyer (taking up the final pages of the last issue, he admits that his audience is possibly alienated from him, yet asks their help. He seems to dare those who have stuck around to prove him wrong and come to his defense in the end.

I don't know what I'll do with my almost complete run of the book at this point. I know that I'm certainly not going to read the FOLLOWING CEREBUS magazine, which will be appearing shortly. I wish him luck and acknowledge the achievement, but I think I'll be one of those folks who do let the book simply disappear.
I have to admit that some of the books that I've reviewed for Joe Bob were actual chores to get through. I'd find myself skimming pages at a time trying to get to something interesting enough to catch my attention. Fortunately, a few of the books have actually been enjoyable and I was happy to have had the chance to read them.

THE COMPANY by Robert Littell is easily the best novel that I've had the chance to review since I started doing this over a year ago. In fact, it is probably one of the best novels I've read in a couple of years. It is a cliche at this point in his career to compare Littell to John le Carre', especially since just about every reviewer seems to get around to doing just that. The guy can write!
The Company by Robert Littell; reviewed by Steve Chaput
Published by Overlook Press; ISBN 1585671975

Robert Littell is no Tom Clancy and I mean that in only the best sense. Littell’s style and subject matter are probably closer to that of John le Carre than to the over-the-top action/adventure novels that Clancy & Company crank out. Just as le Carre’s George Smiley bore little resemblance to fellow Englishmen James Bond, Littell’s Jack McAuliffe bears little similarity to Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Don’t take this as a knock at Clancy, whose books I happen to enjoy. It’s just that like Ian Fleming did with his most famous creation, you can’t really take any of Clancy’s novels as a serious look at what ‘real’ intelligence agencies are doing.

While Littell’s CIA may use their fair share of high tech toys in their efforts to protect the homeland, McAuliffe and his fellow veterans of “Cockroach Alley” spend most of their days sitting in dinghy little offices going through the translated radio and phone messages of their counterparts in the Soviet Union. Beginning at the very beginning of what would become known as the Cold War, Jack and his fellow recruits into the newly created Central Intelligence Agency, find themselves in the very center of events that would make headlines and history. From the construction of the Berlin Wall, through the planning of the Bay of Pigs and on to the downfall of the Soviet Union, Littell shows us the inner workings of the CIA.

Not only does Littell introduce us to these Americans, he also allows us to see what may have been going on in the opposite camp. Along with Jack, Ebby and Leo (Littell’s Three Musketeers), we also meet Yevegny Tsipin (a second-generation KGB operative) and the mysterious spymaster Starik (the Old Man), both of whom believe that it is their role to bring down the U.S. for the glory of Communism and the Soviet Union. While the CIA sends Jack and the others around the world on various assignments, Yevegny finds himself secreted into the U.S. where he assumes several identities over the years as an undercover agent.

Littell shows us two generations of Company employees as they each make their mark on some of the incidents shaped the later part of the Twentieth Century. We see Jack, Leo and Ebby marry and watch as their sons and daughters each take their turns working to ‘make America safe from its enemies.” Whether you believe Littell’s version of events is up to you, but he certainly has done an amazing amount of research, leaving the reader to feel that things should have happened this way, even if they didn’t.

Along with his own cast of characters, Littell shows us glimpses of such actual American personages as JFK and his brother Robert, William Casey and Allen Dulles. We also get to meet more notorious folks such as Sam Giancana, Kenneth Philby and Vladimir Putin. Whether fictional or factual, Littell brings to all of these characters a sense of reality showing us human beings capable of all the vices and virtues we all share. In some cases it doesn’t really matter if the person is real or not, as they all leave an impression and impact on the story.

The novels’ 800 plus pages explore the Cold War and the personalities who helped shape several generations. Littell doesn’t soft-pedal nor vilify the CIA, as much as he shows us how human beings, usually attempting to do what they thought was right (or at least prudent) to move the political, economic and social events for a ‘greater purpose.’ Whether or not we believe in that purpose, isn’t important in the end. Littell rightly uses quotes and allusions to Lewis Carrol’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND through out, as the world in which these characters move about truly is something from the far side of the looking glass.

Four stars
Well, if I've done everything correctly (and it would be amazing if I did) you should find a few things changed around here. I hope to be adding some more either later today or early next week.

As I'm sure some of you folks have seen on television (or read somewhere), the big news around this part of Connecticut is, of course, the accident and fire which has closed a portion of Route 95, near Bridgeport. This is going to cause major traffic headaches not only for locals, but for the interstate truckers who use the highway to get from New York to many portions of New England. Fortunately, Donna and I aren't immediately effected, but may have some problems in a few weeks when we have to go into the city.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

There comes a point in your life, especially when you're in the midst of a job search when you figure that you might as well take a chance on something different. I've been a librarian since the mid-1980s and for most of that time I've generally enjoyed my career choice. On the other hand, since I'm only getting a few nibbles to the dozens (seems like hundreds)of resumes I've sent out I've started looking in other directions.

Anyway, yesterday while checking a library job site I spotted something I'd never seen before. It was a posting for a Ship's Librarian! I'm not going to say where, just in case there's another job seeker with an MLS lurking about, but even though the job is only a temporary position how could I NOT at least give it a try.

I'll let you know if I hear anything and if I do what happens. The job will start in about a month and one of the requirements is a current passport. Damn, but I'd love this gig!
Here's my latest review for the Joe Bob Briggs website.


Isolation by Christopher Belton;
Reviewed by Steve Chaput
Published by Leisure Books; ISBN 0843952954

In the hands of a lesser writer, or someone without the background of Belton, this book would probably be nothing more than another Robin Cook knock-off. A large corporation, trying to cover up some medical experiments gone wrong, will do anything to keep the truth from coming out. We’ve seen it so often that even prime-time television has overused the plot. Belton takes this story and actually makes it interesting, while allowing us a glimpse into the Japanese psyche.

Peter Bryant, an American expatriate, works for Hamada Seiyaku, a Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company. The company has secretly been contracted by the Japanese government to create a highly contagious, deadly virus, which would be used against foreign troops invading Japan. Unfortunately, an accident occurs allowing the virus, for which there is no vaccine, to be released to the civilian population. As first hundreds and then thousands of people begin dying the Japanese government and the executives of Hamada decide to go to any lengths, including assassination to cover-up their complicity. Byrant finds himself a target of a murder attempt when he makes the mistake of going to his superiors with questions about the virus. The recipient of information leaked to him from someone in the inner-circle of Hamada, Peter becomes important to both sides in this matter. Suddenly he finds his life turned upside down when he goes from being a translator of Japanese patents to agent for the U.S. government trying to discover just what his former employer is doing and why. The entire nation of Japan finds itself isolated from the world as the United States and other nations try to prevent the disease from spreading further.

Belton makes Bryant, his Japanese girlfriend, Michiyo and many of the other characters in this story sympathetic and believable. These are people caught in a situation for which they are not prepared and where they find themselves threatened by both the disease and forces who wish to keep their secrets. He lets us into the heads of the Japanese politicians and businessmen who brought this about to begin with. These are not evil villains, but men who have worked for years to gain the power they now have and have come to believe that it is their right to protect that power, no matter who or what gets in their way. Belton uses his own experience, living and working in Japan for several decades, to bring to life the customs and way of life of the Japanese, which casual visitors or tourists could not begin to understand.

Three and a half stars

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I found it interesting, last evening, that while channel surfing I found FOX News chatting up Newt Gengrich. The topic was the day's 9/11 inquest in Washington, which seemed to be the major topic on all the news shows. Appears that FOX is pushing the blame for 9/11 on the Clinton administration, quite naturally. There's enough blame to go around for sure, but the whole finger pointing thing seems shameless.

There does seem to have been some hesitation on the part of the Clinton White House, but the ball seems to have been handed off to the Bush folks, who then put it down and shifted everything into looking for some reason (any reason) to attack Iraq. Then following the tragedy in September 2001, the current White House once again wanted to use any pretense to shift the focus from the real problem to one they desired to face.

Monday, March 22, 2004

I've been listening to some Old Time Radio shows lately, mostly "westerns", and they brought to mind two websites that I wanted to pass along.

Back after Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Rueben lost his CBS Saturday morning show, the network quickly put into its place another strange little show. This was "Riders in the Sky", a half-hour show presenting the 'adventures' and expert musicianship of Ranger Doug (Idol of American Youth), Woody Paul (King of the Cowboy Fiddlers), Too Slim (Insert Title of Your Choice Here). The trio also has a fourth member, Joey "The CowPolka King", who didn't appear on the show. Being a kid who had grown up on westerns and who still had a fondness for 'cowboy songs' it wasn't difficult for me to immediately become a fan of both the show and the group. I've added a link to the Rider's website over to the left, if you're interested.

When I was a kid one of the local TV stations ran a Saturday morning kid's show called, BOOMTOWN. The show starred Rex Trailer along with a series of sidekicks. Rex not only presented the usual assortment of second string cartoons, but would entertain the kids in studio and at home with western songs. I loved this show and watched it religiously for years. Rex is still around and you can check out what he did and does over at his site.

"Howdy there, folks, we're glad to meet you, in Boom, Boom, Boomtown."

Happy Trails!

If I get the chance I may be making some changes to this blog in the next few weeks. I just think that there is probably more that I can do with it and I'm getting bored with the layout, etc.

Not much to report here on either the personal or job front. Still sending out resumes for Librarian positions in the New York City area. If you happen to be looking for someone with a Masters in Library Science, or know somebody who is, kindly drop me a line.

Oh, something happened yesterday which only reminded me that you really can't escape your past, unless you're willing to lie about it. I did some stupid things back in the 1960s-70s, some of which I now regret, however I'm not going to deny at this point that I ever did them. Even for a job!

Seems that folks are starting to look at the Administrations narrow focus on Iraq and how/why they may have let al Qeuda slip away. Now that the election is heating up, suddenly Bin Laden & Co. have become important again. How absolutely sad it all is.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Over on the left I've added Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy website. Plait, an astronomer and author, set up this site to help debunk some of the misinformation on not only astronomy but science found around the 'net. I first discovered Plait thanks to a recent article over at MSNBC discussing Richard Hoagland's efforts to promote his ideas of Mars having been once visited (if not inhabited) by intelligent life. Hoagland and others seem to be pushing the idea that NASA is purposely steering their two rovers away from anything which might prove Hoagland's pet theories.

Even if you could care less about all that you have to hand it to Plait for attempting to 'clean up' some of the nonsense that you'll find in your typical Google search for scientific information.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Thw Washington Post had this piece on a wonderful British idea, which I'm not sure that anyone not addicted to C-SPAN's BookTV would appreciate. The concept of Lit Idol is certainly simple enough and I'd love to see it attempted here in some form. I know a couple of would-be authors who might enjoy a bit of spotlight and the chance to have their 'works in progress' read (or heard in this case) by a agents and publishers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I'm curious to see how much coverage the story of Army Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia will get in the mainstream press. Only a quick mention is made of the fact that several hundred soldiers have not reported as ordered after returning from Iraq. I know that missing movement/deployment can be a serious issue, having done so by accident once while in the service. I ended up being restricted for thirty days to the ship and forfeiting some salary. Mejia, of course, meant to stay away (even for a short period) so this is another situation all together.

I'm also curious to see if John Kerry, a man who surely knew more than a few conscientious objectors in his anti-war days, will have anything to say if confronted by reporters.
There were a few items of note in Today's Papers but rather than list several links I'm just putting in the one to Slate.

The thing that fascinates me about what TP does each day is that they often will spot a trend in the stories which do and do not receive coverage in the daily newspapers. TP rightly points out that the deaths of Americans in Iraq seem to have been dropped from the front page. While it doesn't mention it there have been reports in the past that the Pentagon does not release much (if any) information on those troops who are wounded, or the number of attacks which occur with no casualties.

Also, it's interesting to see that several federal agencies (I'm shocked!) have not been completely honest, nor have done what they were created to do in regards to health issues. Not saying that the Administration has anything to do with it, but there is that thread among the stories to make one suspect that folks are getting pressured (or at least suggestions) from above to slow the pace.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Probably there is nothing I can say that would add to this article at The Smoking It deals with the final resting place of John Henry Williams and goes beyond creepy, IMHO.
A good piece in the Washington Post on not only the decline in those employed in the news media, but also an increase in people to believe the media covers up (rather then admits) errors. Probably nothing new to those folks who are up on this type of thing, but still interesting how the number of folks watching and reading the news has declined, even as we find ourselves with a good half-dozen 24/7 cable news sations. A couple of items further down in the column mention that the audience for cable news has not increased since late 2001 (shortly after the 9/11 events and their aftermath) and that the audience for National Public Radio (so often attacked by the right) has been increasing almost steadily for the past 10 years.
The events in Spain are horrible to contemplate and makes one nervous to consider taking a train or subway. Sadly, it would be far too easy to similar tragedies to occur here in the U.S.

It's interesting to see how the Spanish election turnout was effected. The current government which had sent troops to Iraq was originally seen to have a lead in the polls only a few days prior to the rail explosions. Now a socialist party has surprisingly been swept into office, promising to pull their support for the coalition. With the trouble that the British government has had recently the Spanish election results may or may not be a foreshadowing of British elections down the line.
Donna and I broke down, buying a brand new computer. We bought a HP a430n, with 160GB hard drive, a DVD writer and CD writer combo drive (DVD+RW/CD-RW); CD-ROM and up-graded to a HP printer/fax/scanner/copier. Even though we picked it up on Saturday afternoon, we barely had time to unpack the thing yesterday before we had other things to take care of. The plan is to put it together tonight and see what mischief we can get into. Yeah, the thing has more stuff than the two of us will probably ever need, but with Donna considering possibly working out of the house (at least part-time) we figured we were better off getting something along these lines. I'll be keeping you folks updated on how things go and what we discover as we play around. :-)

Seems the robot race in the Mohave didn't actually work out as well as some would have hoped. The New York Times has a dispatch (for which you may have to subscribe to read) detailing the problems that caused some of the entrants to 'go off track.' Hope does spring eternal with some contestants actually looking ahead to next year and another race. Personally, I think the whole thing is way cool, but I've already mentioned that I'm fascinated by robots and have been since I was a kid.

Friday, March 12, 2004

The latest issue of Library Journal (3/1/'04) has a review of some graphic novels which may not show up in your average comic shop. These are 'wordless' and don't feature you typical super-heroes duking it out. They range from a reprint of the 'grandfather' of all such books Belgian artist Frans Masereel's 1919 "romans in beelden "(novels in pictures) , PASSIONATE JOURNEY to DC's reprints of the Japanese manga series GON (by Masashi Tanaka).

The print version of LJ also has several pages of reviews of more contemporary (and wordy) graphic novels, plus ads for severl publishers of such material. Sadly I can't seem to get this up online, so you might want to head to your local library and check it out (so to speak!). :-)
TEST>>>TEST>>> Is this thing on? Boy, I've been trying all morning to post a few things and either the network here at UNH was screwing up or Blogger just wasn't letting me in. Anyway, I've got a few things I wanted to send along to anyone interested.

Thanks to World Press Review (link over on the left) I saw this article out of Singapore and could NOT let it pass. It reads like something the folks over at THE ONION would put out, but it really does seem to be legit. I'd love for some of those Congress folks who are trying to pass the anti-gay marriage amendment to ...ahem..get their teeth into this issue. :-)

On a slightly more serious note I found this latest Jimmy Breslin column on Bush's visit to a 9/11 memorial site interesting. Wow, who wouldn't love to have folks whose job is to ensure that my shoes didn't get dirty? Even a 'compassionate conservative' needs to keep his spit shine from scuffing.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

A few days ago I talked about Howard Stern being tossed from several radio stations owned by Clear Channel. This weeks New Haven Advocate has a piece on that very topic, which provides a link to yet another article (this time at making the case that Stern was pulled not because he got a bit raunchy, but because he made some anti-G.W. comments. Ya gotta love a conspiracy and Stern has considered himself the target of several. As they say, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you really don't have enemies. :-)
Let's face it, nothing makes a comic fun and exciting as much as having a gorilla on the cover or somewhere in the story. Doesn't matter if the chimp is super-powered, a detective or just playing second-banana (couldn't resist) to the comic's lead. Folks over on this site (which I had pointed out to by Tony Isabella) have done a great service to simian lovers throughout fandom. Check it out!
Interesting piece in Slate on the Los Angeles Times' pattern of watching every move that Justice Antonin Scalia makes. Poor guy can't seem to be able to say anything to anybody without the LAT taking issue and seeing a conflict of interest. Apparently, the LAT has decided to spread the joy because they now have a piece on Justice Ginsberg lending her name to NOW and other 'liberal' groups. While I'm not a Scalia fan, the Slate article does point out that the Times may be trying too hard to find something.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Seems a few folks around Blogland are talking about the capture of a group of mercenaries in Zimbabwe (Take note of Talking Points). Over at Reuters there is an article which has not only the Zimbabwin government's take on the situation, but denials by the U.S. government on any involvement. Take note of the 'we're denying it but then again we wouldn't say we did if we did" comments by the British.

Also, it will be interesting to see if the mainstream media begins following up on all of this, especially when you take into consideration how they have apparently ignored the stories coming out of South Africa which imply that the U.S. and others 'kidnapped' or deceived President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into getting on a plane and leaving.
There's something about robots which are totally cool! I have to admit that I have no skill or understanding when it comes to such things, but they are fascinating to watch in action. Hell, I used to watch BATTLEBOTS almost religiously. :-)

The idea of a competition to create a robot which can race across the Mojave Desert would be interesting, even if it is being funded by the Defense Dept. for future use in warfare. Once again there's a piece in the Washington Post (subscription required) on some of the entrants in this contest. They also provide a nice video on one of the groups involved, along with pictures of some of the other competitors. It makes sense to me that more than half the groups are basically modifying trucks and SUVs for the drive, since they can start out with vehicles capable of driving in off-road conditions. I can't believe that one group is actually using a motorcycle, although I'm sure that they are going to further modify the thing for stability.

I'm disappointed that the event will not be televised, but I'm hopeful that eventually we'll get footage of the race. I can see about a half dozen movies being spun from this, even as I type. :-)
I have mixed feelings about the use of 'soft money' in the up-coming campaigns. This article in the Washington Post (for which you must subscribe) looks at both sides of the argument. It's sad that it appears to be the Democrats who are using the loopholes in the campaign laws, but as they say it is in response to the obscene amounts of cash the Bush/Cheney campaign has raised, despite the President running, for the most part, unopposed in the primaries, as well as having all the privileges of the incumbency. Which include deciding which trips are 'official' and which are 'political', as if this administration has ever separated the two before.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Was saddened to hear of the passing of Robert Pastorelli today. He was wonderful on MURPHY BROWN, portraying Eldin the housepainter. He was a talented man, having a role in the remake of SOUTH PACIFIC a couple of years ago, as well as a small bit in the up-coming sequel to GET SHORTY with John Travolta. Pastorelli had a couple of short-lived series after Murphy went off the air and I enjoyed both of them. CRACKER, was an American adaptation of a British series, with Pastorelli a professor of psychology who assisted the police. Some reports hint at a possible drug overdose, but I'm sure we'll hear more in the next few days.

I think Pastorelli's passing will probably be eclipsed by the suicide of Spalding Gray.
When I spotted this item on lowering the voting age. I couldn't help but think about the '60s classic Wild In The Streets, which featured a very young Richard Pryor among others. I can't believe the Californian senator is serious, but you never know. :-)

Monday, March 08, 2004

I realize that about a week ago I said that I was probably going to spend more time concentrating on baseball than politics, but consistency has never been my strong smoot (too steal a running gag from Howard Stern).

The New Yorker has a 'comment' piece by Hendrick Hertzberg on the possible effect this Presidential bid may have on the legacy of Ralph Nader. As I've said before I've long been an admirer of Mr. Nader, and have few regrets about voting for him in his past runs. However, I really can't understand what he feels he will gain from it this time around.
Another article, this time in the Washington Post (which you'll have to subscribe to read, sorry to say) on the Bush administration's intrusion on science. It will be interesting to see if this becomes more than a side-issue in the up-coming campaign, as most Americans probably don't care about this sort of thing. Sadly, there is a suspicion of scientists, especially among the Christian conservatives who make up much of the Republican base.
Yeah, yeah! The Yankees beat the Sox yesterday. :-( Well, it still took just about half the Yankee bullpen to pull it off, so it really doesn't look all that bright for the rest of the season. I'll take comfort from that.

Considering the whole situation with his father I wasn't the biggest fan of John Henry Williams but it still is tragic that he passed away at such a young age. Thirty-five is way to young for anyone to die. It will of course be interesting, in a morbid sense, to see what will know happen to the remains of his father, Ted Williams. One would hope that both sides of the family will come together at this time, put animosity aside and allow both men to rest in peace.

Sorry to get the week off on such a somber note.

Friday, March 05, 2004

YES! The Red Sox won and the Yankees lost. Despite the dismal weather here in West Haven, the sun is smiling somewhere. :-)
Not sure how I feel about the conviction of my fellow former Westport neighbor, but I'm sure the talk shows will be filled with folks on all sides of the issue. Personally, while not a fan of the lady, I think that her being both famous and female made her a target. I don't have a lot of sympathy for insider traders, junk bond dealers and the like, but Martha saving her self a few thousand bucks certainly didn't deserve to be brought up on charges while the likes of the ENRON & Worldcom villains are still sitting in their mansions.

I doubt Ms. Stewart will do serious jail time, but I hope she gets none. I think there are folks in the current administration who have taken part in shadier dealings and are laughing over their cocktails this afternoon.
"I am not aware of any credible allegation of White House involvement in this matter. Consequently, there has been no White House investigation or effort to determine whether anyone at the White House was aware of or involved in these activities." This is the White House counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, discussing the 'lifting' of confidential Democratic meeting notes by GOP staffers. I expect this story to go nowhere (just like the "investigation" of whom may have given Robert Novak the information on a certain person's wife being an undercover CIA op).

Can we all pick up our copies of Huxley or CATCH-22 and see what this is all about?
Just a guickie from Reason magazine which puts the idea of an amendment baring 'homosexual marriage' into some kind of perspective. Okay, a little religion bashing is always fine in my book. :-)
Got this via a librarian mailing list and found it interesting. This Washington Post article mentions the term "Dark Web" to refer to the commercial databases we normally use here in the University library. Faculty normally requires the students to use our databases and cite them in any papers. I have to be honest and say that I've used Google more than a few times when I seemed to be coming up empty. Has anybody ever heard that "Dark Web" term before?
Sad article over in the Washington Post {for which registration is required. Sorry about that!} about the state of hospitals and medicine in Iraq. You'd have thought that one of the first things the 'coalition forces' would have done (after resupplying water, food and electricity) would be to ensure the people of Iraq had adequate medical facilities and equipment. Apparently that was not the case and things only seem to be getting worse.

A read another article this morning on how the civilian casualties in Iraq do not seem to be a factor of concern for Americans and will probably not effect Bush in the coming election. Maybe if the Democrats or someone in the media (Yeah, I know we can't count on the mainstream to say anything that might upset us, unless is can get a panic started (i.e. Mad Cow Disease)) did bring these things to the attention of the citizens it might. I mean the lack of medical care and the continuing death toll are linkable and it shouldn't be too difficult for even the talking heads to make the connection.
There's an article from Reuters which talks about the unemployment figures for February. Apparently the 'experts' are once again surprised that their estimates are off. "Boy, shouldn't we have had two hundred thousand new jobs instead of twenty? The President said we would!"

I had a pop-up ad this morning from the Republican National Committee (which, of course, doesn't endorse a specific candidate..ahem) showing a picture of Senator Kerry. The ads reads something along the lines of "The economy is improving and the Democrats don't know what to do about it." Apparently, neither do I since I don't see much improvement anywhere.

I haven't seen the Bush/Cheney ads yet, and frankly if I never do I'll be a happy camper, but I expect to catch them eventually. Seems some of the families of those who died on 9/11 are upset that the Bush campaign would use images of that event, plus scenes of firefighters carrying flag draped bodies, for 'political reasons.' If it wasn't so sad it would be laughable to think that the GOP wouldn't. Then again, the Democrats would probably do the same, if they were in the White House right now. Still you would think that somebody in the RNC would feel that it is distasteful to use the memory of the tragedy for cheap emotional effect. Call me naive. :-(

Thursday, March 04, 2004

When I lived in Brooklyn I was a big Howard Stern fan, much to Elayne's dismay. It was great listening to him and the whole cast (Stuttering John (now off to be the announcer on Jay Leno), the long suffering Baba-booey, the brilliant Fred and of course the remarkable Robin Quivers) do their schtick each and every weekday morning. I also enjoyed his short-lived Channel 9 program, which pre-dated his E! show by years.

My pal Vinne B. and I actually had the opportunity to catch one of Stern's infamous public performances. Immortalized as "U.S. Open Sores" you can probably find copies of the VHS on Ebay, should you be interested. Not only was it great sitting in the Nassau Colleseum with several thousand other Stern fans, but we had the chance to see some of the Stern show 'regulars' perform. Jessica Hahn, Leslie West and Sam Kinison were all present, with Kinison & West finishing the show off with WILD THING.

Anyway, since moving to Connecticut it has been all but impossible for me to hear Howard, and I've become addicted to the local all-sports radio station The Zone. Still I'll occasionally catch a few minutes of Howard doing his standard routine on E!, but he really hasn't been in the news recently. I'm sure that he was probably delighted at the recent controversy which found him kicked off of several radio stations around the country. If you don't know you can check out this nice article over at Slate by Bryan Curtis, an obvious long-time fan himself.
For those of you looking for a nice summer read, with little social commentary, I've just finished a review for the Joe Bob site. Not exactly my cup of tea, but probably a step above the Harlequin romances.

ETERNITY’S SONG by LeeAnn Pappas; reviewed by Steve Chaput
Published by Creative Arts Book Company; ISBN 0-88739-471-X

While far from ‘my cup of tea’, I actually found myself reading the book with less distaste then I would have thought. Pappas writes in a style less stilted than some romance writers, but not as ‘over the top’ as a Jackie Collins or Danielle Steel. You could certainly see the book turned into one of those Lifetime network movies, which fill the schedule on weekends.

Beginning back in the early 1960s when Sara Stravopoulos, a Greek shipping heiress, meets and marries rock guitarist Richard Winter. While Sara’s father is not happy with his daughter’s decision he learns that Richard is not the fortune hunter, he originally believed him to be. Both men are heartbroken when Sara dies while giving birth to her own daughter, Anna. Anna grows to womanhood, finding herself the object of both affection and hatred by a varied group of characters over a period of thirty years.

Richard’s one time partner, Nigel, has made it his life’s ambition to destroy the success and happiness he himself could not have. Taking advantage of Anna’s naivety he first seduces her and then marries her. He also has some rather embarrassing photographs, which he threatens to show Anna. Richard finds himself forced to sign Nigel to a contract to keep his daughter from discovering what her husband has done. Naturally, love triumphs in the end, as it always does in this sort of thing.

Pappas creates a diverse group of characters, some likeable and others ruthless. The fact that she is able to flesh so many out is itself admirable, while actually tossing in some surprises along the way. Certainly not great literature, by any means, the book is one of those things that some readers like to toss in the beach bag or tote to take along on vacation. The story is fast-paced and moves the cast around the Greek islands, London and New York, with Pappas actually demonstrating knowledge of shipping and navigation along the way. Two and a half stars.

Well, probably not the best review I've written and certainly not the highest praise, but the folks at the site seemed happy with it, so that's good enough for me.

I'm actually in the midst of reading two other books for review and I'm hoping to get those read & reviewed in the next week or so. Someday I might actually get around to picking up the half dozen books that I've bought and haven't had a chance to red yet. :-)

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

We had fun at the Showboat this past weekend, but left a bit poorer than we had hoped. Last few times down we'd actually hit a bit, either breaking even or coming back with some extra cash. Naturally, that streak couldn't last, could it?

Kristina & Devin got me over to the roulette tables again and I was actually a few bucks up, until I got cocky and started betting $5 dollars on the edges instead of sticking to $1 bets inside. Didnt' take long for my stack of chips to shrink and it was time to cash out. Ended up giving my last few chips to the dealer (spinner?) anyway.

Our friends Pete and Bella had a room over at the Borgota (the newest AC casino/hotel). The place is huge and on Sunday was totally packed. It took us over a half hour just to pick up our cards and there were lines for everything. The rooms were okay, but the room at the Showboat was actually larger and much cheaper (at least with our 'special rates'). In my book the place is designed to look as much like a Vegas casino as possible. Basically, Vegas for those who've never been.
I will admit that the pool area at the Borgota was nice, with a beautiful stairway entrance and plants all around. It features hot tubs at either end and doors leading out to a patio, plus his/hers showers. Much nicer than many of the other casino pools in AC.

This will probably be the last AC trip we'll be taking until after our move back to Brooklyn. We figure it might be smart to start putting some bucks aside for things like moving, fixing up the new place, etc. :-)
Well, I never had a chance to get back yesterday and I really have nothing of note to add today. Unlike some folks I guess I never really got into the daily journal habit, so I have a tendency only to jump in when I remember. Fortunately, breathing is one of those involuntary things you do or I'm sure that I'd be passing out several times a day. :-)

Anyway, congrats to John Kerry, who got my vote here in Connecticut. Not that he apparently needed it!

Weird that Bush should call the Senator congratulating him on his victory. What's that all about? Sounds like something G.W. aids came up with to 'make him seem Presidential' or whatever. Also, I've read that Bush met unannounced with some of the Washington Press Corps to speak 'unofficially and off the record.'

Personally, if I was in the media I'd probably stick to refusing to play that game, but I guess that will never be a problem. I can't see myself ever being a member of the press, nor can I imagine any politician in his/her right mind taking me into their confidence regarding anything. On the other hand, I'm sure that Bush & Co. knew that it wouldn't take long for the meeting to become public knowledge, nor for one or more of the newsfolk to leak something (just to show that they were one of those called in, if for no other reason).

Give me a second and I'll be back with a few thoughts on Atlantic City.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Okay, we have two things which should have been kept in mind this past weekend:

1) "There's a sucker born every minute." P.T. Barnum (or so they say)

2) "Why do you think they call it gambling?" (Somebody said it!)

I'll have more to say later, once I've caught up on work.

Oh, yeah...Loved the Oscar telecast! :-)