Hear I Go Google!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Tagged: Message In a Bottle - fitting for me.

Since Cooper was so kind to include me in her tag, I will do likewise to some people.This glorious idea sprung from Send a Message in a Bottle.
So far, 117 wonderful messages have been messengered out into the Great Beyond that is cyberspace. I didn't really have a message going through my mind, so I tried some doggerel, and hope you all can relate.

My tags:
Writer's Piece
David Airey
Susan Bernard
Ethics Choices
Open Jason
Black Perspective

And what would this post be without a 'Message in a bottle' Album...
Side 1
Rush - Mystic Rhythms
Phil Collins (In the Air Tonight - Gorilla version )
Pink Floyd - Take it back
The Beatles - Eleanor Rigby
Bryan Adams - Run to You
Berlin -Take My Breath Away
David Gray - Please Forgive Me
Paul Simon - The Boxer

Side 2
Enya - Orinoco Flow
The Mamas & The Papas - California Dreamin'
The Beach Boys - Kokomo
Bobby Darin - Splish Splash
The Ventures - Wipe Out
The Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody
U2 - One Tree Hill
The Police - Message in a Bottle. (Whatcha think, I wouldn't bottle them too???)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

U.S. Economy: All ain't well, Uncle Sam-flation

This morning, the Produce Price Index (PPI) report was released and fanned the idea than inflation is well on its way.
From the PPI report:
From January 2007 to January 2008, the index for finished goods moved up 7.4 percent. Over the same period, prices for finished energy goods climbed 22.6 percent, the index for finished consumer foods rose 8.3 percent, and prices for finished goods other than foods and energy advanced 2.3 percent. For the 12 months ended January 2008, the index for intermediate goods increased 8.8 percent, and prices for crude goods jumped 31.3 percent.
This year-over-year increase was the highest reported since 1981 - during a recession and after 70's stagflation period. Meanwhile, our brothers-in-Iraqi-arms, The British, also reported serious inflation worries: "The Office for National Statistics said producer output prices for January rose 1% from December, making for a seasonally-adjusted annual increase of 5.7% -- the biggest year-to-year jump since July 1991 and much faster than market expectations for a rise of around 5.1%. The measure of inflation at the factory gate posted a 5% annual rise in December. "
Commodity prices on wheat posted a single day record move on shortage concerns due to a weather and bad harvest in other parts of the world. Below list commodity prices in the recent past
To go along with wheat, corn (due partly to ethanol production), soybeans, gold, copper, platinum and oil are all stalking all-time highs or creating new ones daily. These raw inputs go into your cars, your food and your technology. As Laura Mandaro, ferretted out these responses:

What's happened in the commodities space, particular in food stuffs, has a direct impact on inflation expectations," said Dan Shackelford, a T. Rowe Price portfolio manager whose team manages $14 billion in bond assets. "We should care about what's happening, not only to gasoline prices but what's happening with corn or stuff that ends up on the grocery shelf or at T.G.I. Friday's," he said.
In the United States, the steady drumbeat of higher-than-historic consumer inflation, overlapping with mounting evidence of a slowdown or possible recession, has reignited fears that the nation is flirting with a return to 1970s-style stagflation. As Tony Crescenzi, the influential bond-market strategist at Miller Tabak & Co., put it in a research report this past week, "Inflation has now become the new bogeyman, adding to many other concerns."

Of course, others are not so sure that we are going back to the stagflation 1970's, even when they worked back then, as Richard Berner relates more opinion than analysis in an Morgan Stanley article:

To be sure, there are similarities to that bygone era, and we are revising our 2008 inflation forecast higher by almost a full percentage point, from 2.2% to 3%. As then, soaring energy and food quotes are clear culprits today. Crude prices have touched $100 and are unlikely to retreat significantly. Quotes for grains and other foodstuffs have jumped by anywhere from 10% to 250% from a year ago, and the supply/demand balance favors further increases. Moreover, as in the period when President Ford handed out WIN buttons and Arthur Burns was Federal Reserve Chair, it’s not just energy and food; the persistence of inflation lately has been broad-based. Steve Roach and I worked together under Burns in the 1970s and watched with alarm as monetary policy contributed to an era of stagflation (see “The Curse of Arthur Burns,” Global Economic Forum, October 22, 2004). It’s now clear that bringing inflation back down will require more slack in the economy and more time than we thought previously. But in my view, the similarities with the 1970s are more superficial than real. Here’s why.

First, let’s focus on global forces. By now it’s a commonplace, as articulated by former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, that globalization for much of his tenure was a disinflationary force, but that Ben Bernanke is unlucky... when global forces are turning inflationary. I think that view overstates the influence in both directions. While globalization almost surely reduced US inflation over the past decade, domestic forces —
inflation expectations, the extent to which costs from all sources are rising, and the degree of slack in the economy that shapes companies’ pricing power —still dominate the inflation prognosis. Conversely, as in the 1970s, US policymakers must now be attentive to the potential for global forces to boost inflation, but I think the influence will be small. Unlike in the 1970s, that’s because global companies now tend to “price to
absorbing the effects of currency or import price changes in margins; in other words, the “pass-through” from such cost increases has declined (see “Globalization and Inflation,” Global Economic Forum, June 19, 2006).

Nonetheless, two global factors are pushing inflation higher today. First, rising energy, food and commodity prices – the product of still-strong global growth and limited gains in supply – are
boosting overall inflation. Energy prices rose by 20.4% over the past year, while retail food quotes rose by 4.9%; the latter is the fastest pace in nearly two decades..
. If Brent averages $90/bbl this year, US retail gasoline prices (all grades) seem likely to average about $3.25 for the year, and in the spring driving season could hit $3.50. Likewise, the jump in wholesale food prices has yet to show up fully in retail products, and a continuation of 4-5% food price hikes seems highly likely for the balance of
A rise in import prices apart from food and energy — the product of a weaker dollar and gains in non-dollar import prices — is a second current source of inflation pressure...But there are lags between the time the economy weakens and the degree of pass-through declines, and slack hasn’t yet increased by enough to mute the impact of such price hikes by as much I thought a few months ago.
And import prices have also risen over the past few months by a bit more than I thought — not solely because of the weaker dollar but also because costs have escalated. The upshot: While pass-through has been incomplete, import price hikes have given a lift to US inflation...

Domestic factors also have worsened the inflation picture. Inflation expectations, partly reflecting the global forces mentioned above, are moving higher...

Richard Berner does alot of talking, a lot of thinking, tending, assuming and talking around the inflation vs. stagflation problem.

I don't feel we are going to grow much at all, and certainly not in relationship to the burning-up market in China or India, unless Barack Obama has some economic magic wand to undo several years of economic Russian roulette we have been playing.

Meanwhile prices will rise, people will tighten their belts, the housing sector will only get worse, and of course, a few top cats will reap huge rewards.

The signs are just not getting any better.

Monday, February 25, 2008

In the News: Nader, Newspapers and the Nadir of My Success

Ralph Nader has gone ahead and decided to run for office once again. After his 2000 Election run likely had the negative outcome of getting Bush put in charge, I would think he would have learnt something. I have nothing against him persay, I just think he ought to realize that the votes he gets are often doing the opposite of what he alleges to want accomplished.

A Few of His Positions:
Supports NOW's agenda on Reproductive Rights. (Feb 2008)
Half of federal budget is now military spending. (Jan 2008)
Get rid of gay discrimination fully, not halfway. (Jul 2004)
Corporations have too much control over people's lives. (Jan 2008)
Corporations control government; that defines fascism. (Jan 2008)

Opposed 1996 expansion of the federal death penalty. (Feb 2008)
The drug war has failed, despite $50B annually. (Feb 2008)
Rehabilitation, not incarceration. (Jul 2004)

It is time to break our addiction to fossil fuels. (Feb 2008)
End subsidies of entrenched oil, nuclear, & coal interests. (Feb 2008)
US lags behind Europe & Japan in renewable energy. (Oct 2004)

US should be the world's humanitarian superpower. (Feb 2008)
Most of these are obviously liberal/Democratic stances.
2000 Presidential Election Results as of December 2001:
Florida - Bush: 2,912,790, Gore:2,912,253

Other Candidates: Buchanan:17,484, Browne:16,415, Hagelin:2,281, Harris:562, McReyolds:622, Moorehead:1,804, Nader:97,488, Phillips:1,371.

Certainly seems Florida would have been a different story if Nader's votes were by in large to go to Gore. The other parties, though each could have "swung the vote," however, Nader's total far outstrips the remaining candidates, and his was the most liberal - robbing Al Gore of an obviously, like-minded electorate.

Where would we be now? How different would America all ready be? Energy policies? Civil Rights? Katrina aid and response? Fight against terrorism? The list goes on.
Of the other close states, all went to Gore. (Percentage equals margin of victory)
New Mexico, 0.06%
Wisconsin, 0.22%
Iowa, 0.31%
Oregon, 0.44%

In a wiki quote: According to the Washington Post, exit polls there showed that "47 percent of Nader voters would have gone for Gore if it had been a two-man race, and only 21 percent for Bush," which would have given Gore a margin of some 24,000 votes over Bush.[44] Some Democrats claim that had Nader not run, Gore would have won both New Hampshire and Florida and won the election with 296 electoral votes. (He only needed one of the two to win.) Defenders of Nader, including Dan Perkins, argued that the margin in Florida was small enough that Democrats could blame any number of third-party candidates for the defeat, including "Workers World Party" candidate Monica Moorehead, who received 1,500 votes.[45] Nader's reputation was still hurt by this perception, and may have hindered his future goals as an activist. For example, Mother Jones wrote, "For evidence of how rank-and-file liberals have turned against Nader, one need look no further than the empire he created. Public Citizen, the organization (Nader) founded in 1971, has a new fundraising problem—its founder. After the election, contributions dropped... When people inquire about Nader's relationship to the organization, Public Citizen sends out a letter that begins with a startling new disclaimer: 'Although Ralph Nader was our founder, he has not held an official position in the organization since 1980 and does not serve on the board. Public Citizen—and the other groups that Mr. Nader founded–act independently.'"[46]

Ralph, if you really wanted to change things, how about developing a contending political party to run for the House and Senate, or find some way to gain credentials via holding public office. Maybe then your bid for President would have inspired instead of causing unintended results.
Maybe this time, it won't.

The above is the new payscale for my nightly job of delivering the news for the Hammond Times - aka The Northwest Indiana Times - nwi.com. It is a paper without a real competitor since the Post Tribune was bought by the Chicago Sun Times, and both, are taking a Sonny Liston dive to the canvas as Ali delivers the phantom blow.

The Times is looking to gain more income via weekend (Sunday onlys mostly) subscriptions. However, it was sold as "nothing has changed," or "you'll get the same amount." Bullshit. The future reflects that they will garner the greater benefit from certain subscriptions, while I get the same or less for my weekly toils.

As a result, I will cut back on my usage of plastic to protect the paper whenever possible. (I deliver to tubes for most of the route. During good weather, forget it.) Unfortunately, I can't afford a hybrid or a 40+MPH car to improve on my usage of nearly 5 gallons of gas per night. For every $.50 swing in gas, I get $75 (less) per month, or $900 per annum.

The Times answer: "get more customers." Yes. That's fine. But it also takes more time - which they also reduced. I get to 5AM to deliver, 6AM on Weekends, and it takes 2 1/2 hours per night, if weather cooperates. ( Times often can't get papers to distribution center until 3AM or later.)

So, be good to your papermen and women. They sometimes are fighting things you are unaware of.


Lastly, John Wooden's Pyramid of Success has often been used as tool for sports and life itself. One time, several years ago, I pulled this out of a newspaper somewhere:

Words like industriousness, ethusiasm, skill, loyalty, competitive greatness, self-control, initiative, confidence are among the building blocks, while assisting in your climb are ambition, adaptability, integrity, reliability, patience and faith that make up the pathways to the top of the pyramid, ultimately: Success.

Most of these are described in Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections , The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership , Wooden on Leadership and 5 other titles published over the years. A quote from Grantland Rice's "How to Be a Champion" is tied into industriousness at Wooden's website.

At his zenith, Wooden had won 10 Basketball National Championships with the likes of Lew Alcindor, Walt Hazzard, and Bill Walton at the helm of his mighty UCLA Bruins. He retired after 1975 National Championship win, yet, he probably could have coached plenty more - as he is still alive, 33 years after his last game. When Wooden came out of Purdue University in 1932, he was an Indiana basketball legend as a 3-time All-American and 3-time All-State player. But he didn't think he was going to be a coaching legend - in fact, it took him 32 years to win his first NCAA title at age 54.

So while I am at the nadir of Success, maybe in 25-30 years the Zenith will present itself - if I can follow some of what John Wooden defined in his Pyramid.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Movie Review: Charlie Bartlett

In my monthly need to leave out of the house in the hopes of stumbling into a worthwhile book, movie or real person, I might have shot too high in hoping Charlie Bartlett would be somehow an uplifting event or cinematically memorable. I also figured with Robert Downey Jr. in the cast, I could expect something to catch my eye. Well, it did, and didn't.

It starts with a typical fantasy-to-reality check in Charlie's last school of privilege. His mother (Hope Davis) is a completely unconcerned parent as she just goes along with her bright high school boy's antics, while using alcohol and meds to get through her husband's incarceration for tax evasion. (But they are still wealthy...)

After another typical 1st day-at-school lesson, Charlie adapts quickly, uses his considerable charms, wits for high schooler and entrepeurial nack to gain popularity, first with the school bully, and soon the entire high school.

What Charlie (Anton Yelchin) offers is instant advice and 'meds', which come via his own instant access to psychiatrists, who are in turn prescribing various medications to Charlie like a preacher does The Bible to 'The Sinner.' In one fairly funny montage, Charlie shows the dangers of what these professionals often engage in (by poking fun at it), and foreshadows bad things to come...

The kids are more adult usually, than all the adults are combined. They are looking for answers via Charlie, or acknowledge quickly their shortcomings and problems. The adult characters hide behind various mechanisms instead of facing their issues. Charlie buts heads with the Principal (Downey) while, of course, wooing the principal's daughter in an all-too-honest way.

The reason this movie often falls short is that it goes too far in pushing the "instant transformation" idea without "teaching lessons" in a high school/coming-of-age movie. In fact, you don't really see the kids in a 'normal' school setting at all - and the problems are far more mature (not always) than what I believe some high schoolers would be talking about. Teachers and parents of kids don't exist. Only the principal - a quasi-authority figure since his job is in jeopardy.

There are too many of these instant transformations, no struggles or conflicts in achieving success, which would naturally be apart of a real alteration. I think the movie actually could have used 30-35 minutes extra (1hr 37 minutes) to fill in gaps in story lines and take a dramedy to a higher plane of existence. (Flush out the other story lines: the panic attack kid, mentally challenged guy, the dealer, the cheerleader, classroom interaction, parents, etc.)

It works, and it doesn't. Maybe if it would have taken some scholastic clues from Gross Anatomy, another dramedy that reflects on medical school via the eyes of a could-care-less fisherman's son with C grades, as an undergrad (but perfect MCATs) turned 1st-year med student that has to deal with his classmate's desires, his professor's critiques and his own willingness "to do the work."

Though different movies, the med school detail as Roger Ebert noted was flawless and built tension throughout the movie. Bartlett lacked tension.

I remember watching Gross Anatomy as a 16-year old who had just got a 3-day suspension from high school for telling the Dean of Students to "Fuck Off." My mother was at work, so I took off to the theatre and the mall.

I was in many respects like a Charlie Bartlett (watch the movie to understand): disrespectful of authority, assisting my mother too much (I worked from age 13 through high school approximately 25 hours per week) and sometimes too much of an adult, but still a child.

I think all of us can relate to Bartlett; but I think the movie had more - just needed a gentle push.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Environment, Infrastructure and Energy: Need Engineering and Energetic People to Fix

Today is an interesting day: Fidel Castro stepping aside, new JFK files 'suddenly' appearing after 44 years + in cold storage and President Bush 'in the Bush' of Africa. But this post won't discuss those things.

This morning on The History Channel they played a 30+ year old segment on Energy development and challenges. You know the type: the ones we watched in class on the days the substitute teacher brought in a reel-to-reel projector, had difficulty in setting it up and told us we were to stay awake during it because she would quiz us on the information. (Never doing it because the bell rung.)

In several voice-over passages, "The United States dependence on foreign oil may continue for the next 15-20 years," and "new technologies are just around the corner, including nuclear fusion," and finally, "it is important to make sacrifices to ensure our energy needs are meet."

What I find interesting is exactly how we haven't addressed the problems seen in 1975, when I was 3, but instead have only become more dependent and deeply entrenched in the same geo-political world that was at the crux of the 1970's Oil crises.

Certainly, it is more than oil and the prices (again above $100 today) that bother me. It is the entire landscape of this all-encompassing American & World problem.

Infrastructure. I noticed daily that our highways and byways are progressively getting worse. Most were assembled during the 1950's, and only a specific few have seen major overhauls during the last 20 years. Locally, we see the damages every year (in the north) due to water sabotaging roads creating potholes and damage to vehicles. Bridges are also deficient, as was horribly seen in the Minneapolis tragedy. Water & Sewage is also going south, as California, the largest American state economy, is in a dilemma.

We find ourselves lacking the ability to change over to new technologies and better investment in right-thinking avenues. The ability to give up single-passenger vehicles to go to work. Using public transport and developing those options in suburban areas.

Envisioning sound Urban, County, State and Federal planning to properly use the resources we have. Things like multi-story (more than 3) housing in the suburbs, tight restraints on development of agriculture & forest areas and saving rivers and lakes from over commericalization and capitalistic greed. We also might have to acknowledge that historic landmarks that are costly to maintain or serve only a modest purpose, are available for destruction. To offset this, we have the technology to give virtual tours of entire buildings and structures, right now. We can salvage so much, but we have to fix wherever we can, our infrastructure in order to compete in the world.

Energy & Environment. Much of what is written about the dangers of nuclear energy is overblown and worst-case scenario thinking, ignoring actual near-zero probabilities. Exactly how many people died as a direct result of 3-Mile Island in Pennsylvania? None.

But to hear it from proponents of coal and oil industries, you might believe thousands perished.
Meanwhile, in 2006 and 2007, at least 2 mining accidents in Utah and West Virginia took place, killing 16 men in West Virginia alone.

The Nuclear Industry is likely the most regulated of all American Industries. It has a nearly flawless safety record - meaning no major catastrophies or numerous violations at a particular plant. We currently receive nearly 20% of our energy from nuclear power, and barely think about it due to the efforts of people in that industry.

Yet, we are still locked into coal & oil-based energy platforms due to politics and money. (The Republican party is supported heavily by St. Louis-based energy giant Peabody Energy, the largest coal company in the world, and supplier of 10% of the United States energy and 3% of the World Output. Bush placed 3 Peabody executives on his transition team after his 1st nomination.)

Quote from Nuvo.net:

After winning the 2000 presidential election, George Bush named three Peabody Energy executives to his transition team as advisors for the new administration’s energy policies. Steve Chancellor, president of Black Beauty Coal, was named as an advisor to the Bush-Cheney energy policy transition team; Irl Engelhardt, Peabody Energy chairman of the board, was named to the transition advisory team for the EPA and for a while his name was in the running for secretary of energy; John Wootten, Peabody Energy VP served with Chancellor on the energy advisory panel.
In addition to serving as policy advisors, Peabody and its executives were also some of the Bush-Cheney team’s biggest campaign contributors. Since 2000, Peabody Energy has donated nearly $2 million, Irl Engelhardt has personally donated $350,000 and Steve Chancellor has donated another $350,000. So generous are the Peabody executives that Engelhardt has been called “a major player” by the Republican National Committee, and Chancellor was invited to go on a golf trip to Spain with George Bush Sr. and other “friends” of the campaign.

In reading, "Power to Save the World" by Gwyneth Cravens, who was not a supporter of Nuclear Energy prior to her research, you get a broader and yet detailed account of what Nuclear Power is and what it can do to supplant coal as the major player, without being overly preachy.

Anti-nuclear activists focus on the instability of uranium-235 and plutonium-239, saying it cannot be trusted given it is used in weapons of mass destruction. Even our current President shined on America in a State of the Union saying that the terrorists had plans of our nuclear facilities. Nuclear facilities are filled with security measures and numerous shutdown protocols that no terrorist or group of terrorists could set off anything like a China Syndrome tragedy. But the myth will continue nonetheless.

Of course, each side of the energy debate wants to play up its advantages. And money is part of that advantage. As it was once said, "the only real danger of Capitalism is Capitalists." Greed has kept the same players doing the same things, regardless of the impact it has on America.

Another viable avenue could be the usage of Automotive Industry layoffs/payoffs to explore Wind, Solar, Wave, Tidal and GeoThermal Energy avenues with the support of our U.S. government. We currently subsidized heavily the Agriculture industry to produce inefficient ethanol, when you compare it to Brazilian ethanol production. Why not use the experienced labor force to generate the new generation of energy producers?

We face difficult decisions on the Infrastructure, Energy and Environmental fronts. If the United States does not make a plan, go a direction and leave behind ill-suited, environmentally-dubious and ineffective policies, we may find ourselves moving backward to 1900 more than forward to 2100.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A 'little' song spectacular: In honor of St. Valentine

Music will sooth the savage beast, so I'm told. (I'm a beastly sort, being a Lion via the zodiac.) So why not some tunes for the holiday that give men reasons to buy chocolates, roses, rings and Lexuses for their significant others/girlfriends/Heather Mills' wannabe brides. (Cynical...I wonder why?)

So in honor of said performance of showing true (and often untrue) affection for your love, I put together a few lists of songs, and if you like, vote once per each group that is displayed for the BEST SONG/ARTIST. Kinda like a belated grammy award across several years. Realize, I could go on for a while, but I just put this together. Slapdash as it were.

So here goes a few lists:
Sex Machine - James Brown
Papa Was a Rolling Stone - The Temptations
What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
Cantaloop - US3 (Herbie Hancock sampled)
Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe - Barry White
Behind Blue Eyes - The Who
Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin
Turn it on Again - Genesis
Hotel California - The Eagles
Speed of Love - Rush
Great Gig in the Sky - Pink Floyd
Black - Rolling Stones
Love Me Do - The Beatles

Slow, Sappy & 1-hitters
Don't Dream It's Over - Crowded House
Never Tear Us Apart - INXS
Stand By Me - B.E. King
Joey - Concrete Blonde
Somebody - Depeche Mode
(I'd Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight - Cutting Crew
Black Velvet - Alana Miles
Wishing Well - Terence Trent Darby
Rock Me Amadeus - Falco
Silent Lucidity - Queensryche

Alternative Groups
Girlfriend in a Coma - The Smiths
Pictures of You - The Cure
Wonderwall - Oasis
Black - Pearl Jam
Low - Cracker

Early Rap/HIP HOP Legends
It Takes Two - Rob Base & DJ Easy Rock
Bust A Move - Young MC
Humpty Dance - Digital Underground
Changes - Tupac (Bruce Hornsby sample)
Mama Said Knock You Out - LL Cool J (video below)

I missed a few genres or avenues or songs, but it takes plenty of time to just link these things. I hope you all can survive a winter of too much 'weather.' And Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Liar, Liar: McNamee v. Clemens, who would you trust?

In watching the first 3 hours plus of the House Oversight Congressional Hearings on the Mitchell Report with regards to Roger Clemens and former MLB trainer Brian McNamee, one has to understand that neither has budged much at all from their dichotomous assertions. That being said, it is obvious Brian McNamee is a liar and con artist. Roger Clemens is undoubtedly lying too.

If there is a scale or measure of creditability to use with regards to either man, Clemens would weigh more truthful on matters I would assert all of us would be able to give a good showing on. Things like who we believe in, people we would do right by, the ability to no harm to others in our care. Things that make most of us, normal human beings.

However, in matters that effect his remembrance as likely the greatest pitcher of the last 15-20 years, Roger Clemens would falter after 2 innings of batting practice in front of the 1976 Cincinnati Reds or 1927 Yankees. Roger has repeatedly offered little to refute his close teammate Andy Pettitte's affadavit/deposition claim that he used HGH in 1999 and likely on or before 2005. Roger saying, "he misremembers," but also saying, "he'll be my friend after this." Highly unlikely given the probable perjury investigation the FBI agents will see fit to pursue in light of this testimony by Clemens.

Meanwhile, (Dr.? )Brian McNamee has shown his imaginative ability to contort, confuse and obliterate facts whenever his interests lie in lying. His obtainment of a paper mache doctorate from Columbus University, a place well known to the U.S. Congress via Charles Abell, assistant secretary of Defense for force management. His recollections to implicate Clemens by loose association with Jose Canseco during a June 1998 party. His utilizing his connections to Clemens, Mike Stanton and Andy Pettitte to garner more business, ignoring the fact he injected them (all) with illegal/performance enhancers.

More to the point, McNamee is a player of the game of "snitching to save his ass." His assertions (paraphasing here), "that he only went so far in telling how many times he injected these players because he didn't want to hurt them too much," is utter and complete bullshit. His obvious anger at Clemens for secretly recording him, and thus, provoking the 'newly found evidence' of needles and other medical paraphernalia from 7 years ago used to implicate Clemens shows a desperate man willing to do, and all ready doing, anything to save his ass from a prison cell. (Which I can reflectively understand.)

Clemens is no saint. But I don't see a devil.

I see a man who likely projected a strong appearance for so long that Clemens may have fell victim to an Eve-like man named McNamee, that conned him down a road of no return in biting into the steroid-laced apple. It will improve you. You'll get your fastball back. You'll get better, I promise you.

McNamee's name will go down in Major League Baseball history as one of the dirtiest, sleaziest human beings to work with professional athletes. His word is never his bond. His concept of right is skewed to his own self-reward. And his loyalty is to whatever winds of cash flow fall in his hands.

"Roger 'Titan' Clemens... meet Barry 'Balco' Bonds, your new cellmate at Club Fed." A federal warden might have to say. Both will be far removed from the American Gladiators they were on the ball field.

"Brian McNamee you are hereby ordered to serve 2 1/2 years in prison for probation violation," A federal magistrate will eventually say.

Each side will lose more than they bargained for.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Bipolar Me: What I suppose isn't clear

In my last post, I was attempting to ask which of the five directions I should take. In other words, one option that sounded most appealing.

As far as the diagnosis, given what I've read and what I do experience, sometimes daily, hourly, I am as good at self-examination as those professionals are.

As Susan Bernard, as close to an expert as any expert is, stated recently:
"In my experience, everyone has such a negative view of bipolar
disorder--doctors and therapists alike--that they've lost the ability to
approach it from a problem-solving perspective and to help provide answers and
services rather than a lot of meaningless conversation and ineffective

There is a strong stigma related to all things called "a disorder."

Over the past 11 years, I went on 4 different occasions to "therapists."
3 times on my own accord prior to the year 2001. Their diagnoses were all wrong.

1) Alcoholic - wrong. I can and do go weeks/months at a crack without any craving or yen for a drink. I drink to self-medicate certain aspects of BIP, I suppose. (And during those periods, I would binge drink...which I did often in college from 1990-1996, when my symptoms first manifested, but were undefined in my thinking.)

I also do not possess any tell tale signs of drug abuse. AND I do not use other illegal drugs, ever. (You, the reader, likely have smoked pot, I haven't.)

2) Slightly depressed - again, wrong. They catch me at the near term lows. Not understanding or acknowledging other points in my life. Explanation therapy has barely scratched the surface before they shuffle me off, or I shuffle myself off to another direction.

3) Some other disorder(s) - but fail to treat or define.

"Coming out" about what I know to be apart of my character is not easy. People seem to think I enjoy the self-diagnosis. I don't. Given the various other dilemmas in my life, prior to this, why would I enjoy it at all? (And it is not like I haven't explore the terrain. Since 1999, I have looked at various thoughts and analysis on Bipolar that tended me to that conclusion.)

As far as treatment, I don't (and haven't) had health insurance since early 2001. So unless I garner that, getting whatever treatment is viable and workable is simply impossible, if those things existed clearly.

The last time I was in "therapy" in late 2003. I was forced to attend 8-10 sessions at $100 per. I rode a mountain bike 7 or 8 miles to the session after 8 hours of work in a restaurant. I still owe over $600 on that medical bill since I was unable to pay for it at all. (And that was at a cut rate to begin with.)

And it did zero for me. In fact, she elected to guilt me into admission of being "a failure." (Due to thinking a 12-step program was again the solution to my ills. I still have the AA book.) She was a very unhelpful human being. But likely, making more money in a decade than I'll see in the rest of my life. So, she's a good capitalist.

Point is, I know what most think about any "disorder". The fears and stigmas they foist on others for having such a difference. It is no different from a Neo-Con talking about the abominations called "gay people."

Due to other things done in life, I am stigmatized and ostracized from the milieu of normalcy. The 9-5 job or career, the living in a decent apartment, the ability to enjoy other's company - like in relationships and families - all because, I am no longer "good enough" for many of you.

If I tell you the truth too soon, you'll say, "I don't care. Why would someone hold that against you?"

If I told you the truth too late, you'll say, "Why didn't you tell me that? (Or now I wonder what is next?)"

It is pathetic to explain it - I know - but this is a part of me.

There is nothing I can do to drastically change who I am - I can only tweek things here or there.

And I try pretty hard to do it.

But some days, I don't want much to do with anyone on this Earth.

Failure is what "it is."

I won't bother to explain this any further.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Direction?: A way forward. Which option?

Before I get into my direction post, I want to link you to a very well thought out post on the treatment path for Bi-Polar disorder written by Susan. She addresses it to all political candidates, about her ideas on addressing this situation, what will (or could) work in regards to treatment, a real process to improving BIPS and what funding is needed. It is a "pilot" looking for a "crew."

I hope she will succeed in getting this into the "mainstream" and receiving the backup in going forward. I, for one, am willing to explore the avenues.

Which leads to what this post is about.

I am weighing some ideas that I recently I bantered around between my episodes of depression.

1) An online monthly blog magazine. Gathering the best of bloggers postings up for a monthly journal on a wide range of issues, events, categories... PDF format with blog links to the contributing stories... Rotating bloggers, not just a hand-picked group. Wide range of viewpoints - not just liberal, conservative talking points. Worldwide views on issues from home country bloggers. Visuals as prepared by the bloggers. I am looking to edit it. (Tons of blog surfing by me and those I get turned on to doing some blogger article searches for me.)
Have a concept of the structure of it...but need the meat and the stories to sell it.

2) Online short story-novella serial. I started this 10 days ago. I am hoping to write it first before putting it out on the blog here. Will be a bit unusual due to the semi-screenplay format I am looking to put in place. Right now, I have to improve my research of where I want this story to go...I have a good concept, I think, but the background information is a bit lacking....Hint: It is literally two stories in one...

3) Start working on the Environmental book front. I think this is an issue worth a real look. Graphs, analysis, the truth and fallacies (and where they evolved from) of the Environmental, Energy and Political Landscape. Barely scratched the surface. 18mo. - 2yr. project.

4) American History. As I stated before in a prior post. A very long, intensive book project.

5) Bipolar Disorder program assistance. Susan has the concept, know-how and experience to launch something that could help thousands, I truly believe.

Though I haven't openingly admitted it, I am bipolar.

The quick swings I have in mood, the deep depressions I funk into for weeks and months, the mania of doing multiple things for a brief spurt effortlessly and the overall thinking that I am not like many other people, tends me to this. If anything, I think I could gain a perspective from working on this "mental health opportunity" to really do something that obviously gets ignored until it is literally too late for the sufferers of this particular diagnosis.

So, what should I do?

Feedback is very welcomed... :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Super Fat Tuesday: Picking A Candidate before Lent???

I am not a practicing Catholic, so don't go thinking I have "found Jesus." (I didn't know he was missing...)

With the super pre-election process coming to a frothy end, at least on the Republican side, I guess I'll step out on the plank and pick a candidate: Barack Obama.

I believe all the candidates have "their diseases" not revealed to their wives or husbands, in the case of Hillary. But I also think it is not sound to just ignore it, or not "change it", or otherwise, not vote for it.
I think Barack Obama can and does stand for a change in the policies that have decidedly led the United States into a pit of delusion, mediocrity and rabid preachiness at the cost of its soul.

Among other things, I believe he can see the Environment Issues in a whole new light, if directed well. He comes from a state that uses Nuclear Power heavily, which, even give a skeptics point of view, is more ecologically friendly than coal, oil or other means devised currently by man. (And he did not rule it out in the Nevada debate, unlike Senator Edwards who took the easy route on Yucca Mountain.)
A book about this subject, written by a former, anti-Nuclear proponent is currently in my possession. Power to Save the World:The Truth About Nuclear Energy by Gwyneth Cravens tells of the fallacies spread about Nuclear Power Industry and Radiation Scares that are overblown. The extremely efficient nature of the beast - and why even the Sierra Club, once a supporter, became anti-nuclear and spread misinformation.
But back to Barack.
He has more than "energy" that I like. I think he could be great president. He seems geniune about his feelings toward people. And his gravitas can make up for inexperience that Hillary & McCain will attack like a pit bill.
In one interview on BET, he actually spoke logically about the criminal justice system and the propensity to put a disproportionate number of African-Americans & economically-poor people behind bars. And more to the point, the inability to educate or improve their lot before they are released again. (His website buttresses this idea.)
Iraq. He wasn't at the front of the line or willing to let his political party's weakness deter him from opposing the war from day one. Having those instincts, as we have faithfully come to realize, are apart of becoming a good President. If due diligence had been done by the alphabet Agencies, Congress, "The Media", we might all be more secure today than we are under the Bush administration.
Barack Obama: "I made a different judgment. I thought our priority had to be finishing the fight in Afghanistan. I spoke out against what I called "a rash war' in
Iraq. I worried about, ‘an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined
costs, and undetermined consequences.’ The full accounting of those costs and
consequences will only be known to history. But the picture is beginning to come
into focus.”
Foreign Policy. Diplomacy. This is a word that can mean many things, and in the case of Bush, nothing at all. I do believe you have to talk to people, friend or fiend. If anything as Barack's message states:
"Not talking doesn't make us look tough – it makes us look arrogant, it denies
us opportunities to make progress, and it makes it harder for America to rally
international support for our leadership. On challenges ranging from terrorism
to disease, nuclear weapons to climate change, we cannot make progress unless we
can draw on strong international support."
In all, I think Barack is a way to the future. Not without flaws, or policy deficiencies, but at least a vision I can get behind.
(Note: He wouldn't want my support if solely on the basis of my personal flaws, background and shortcomings. But I hope that does not deter him in receiving my endorsement, such as it is.)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Internet War of the Roses: Microsoft vs.Google

I am not at the front lines of the technology battle/war that has ensued between Microsoft and Google. Unlike John "Mcplain" McCain I am not a foot soldier in anyone's army currently. (Though I could pretend to be one on TV, like Mcplain did at the Reagan Library this week.)

The recent takeover bid by Microsoft of the former internet darling Yahoo! was long thought to be a sound business decision. The joining of their forces was seen as a marriage of aging man that is incredibly rich (Microsoft) and a divorcee (Yahoo!) that still looks pretty good and has a few tricks left to turn. (A bad pun.)

As Andrew Ross Sorkin at the NYT reflects:

The message that jolted Mr. Yang also jolted the technology industry. Yahoo,
founded by two Stanford graduate students, Mr. Yang and David Filo, was once the
leader of the dot-com world. But it has been dethroned in recent years by
Google, itself founded by two Stanford graduate students.

This battle will barely begin before Bill Gates steps down as the chairman of Microsoft, leaving it in the capable, if only marginally visible hands of Steven A. Ballmer. As Google and Microsoft enter their virtual cage match of internet death in 2008-9, one suspects they will be fighting a War of the Virtual Roses.

Wikipedia quotes on the War of the Roses:

The antagonism between the two houses started with the overthrow of King Richard II by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, in 1399. As an issue of Edward III's third son John of Gaunt, Bolingbroke had a very poor claim to the throne. According to precedent, the crown should have passed to the male descendants of Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence, Edward III's second son, and in fact, Richard II had named Lionel's grandson, Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March as heir presumptive.

However, Bolingbroke was crowned as Henry IV. He was tolerated as king since Richard II's government had been highly unpopular. Nevertheless, within a few years of taking the throne, Henry found himself facing several rebellions in Wales, Cheshire and Northumberland, which used the Mortimer claim to the throne both as pretext and rallying point. All these revolts were suppressed.

The wars were also fought largely by the landed aristocracy and armies of feudal retainers. Support for each house largely depended upon dynastic factors, such as marriages within the nobility, feudal titles, and tenures. It is sometimes difficult to follow the shifts of power and allegiance because nobles acquired or lost titles through marriage, confiscation or attainture.

This virtual war started long ago between Google and Microsoft as each has gobbled up companies, made threats, lay claim to the title, "Internet King" and put to work "coding
foot soldiers" to destroy each other's empire.

From the Sydney Morning Herald, from 2005:

After learning Lucovsky was leaving to take a job at Google, Ballmer picked up his chair and hurled it across his office, according to the declaration.

Ballmer then pejoratively berated Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Lucovsky recalled."I'm going to f---ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again," the declaration quotes Ballmer. "I'm going to f---ing kill Google."

Before joining Google, Schmidt was a top executive at Sun Microsystems Inc. and Novell Inc., a pair of tech companies that Microsoft has previously battled.

At this point, Microsoft was hoping to legally stop Google's expansion after they had hired away ex-Gates guy Kai Fu-Lee to head up expansion into the megamarket of China. (Yahoo! also made news in 2007 in assisting the Chinese government in a crackdown on free speech.)

As a result, Microsoft is buying Yahoo! to thwart Google in the mother-of-all emerging markets, China. And to improve their share of an all ready non-competitive market as this quote reflects from the NYT's Andrew Ross Sorkin:

The combination of Yahoo and Microsoft would create a more powerful counterweight to Google. Yahoo’s audience, already the largest on the Internet,
would be bolstered by the tens of millions of users of Microsoft’s services,
creating a much larger online display advertising business. In Internet search,
the market share of the two companies would rise to 31 percent of the
American market, according to comScore. That would still be far below Google’s 58 percent share, but would help the companies attract more advertisers and higher prices for ads.

89 percent in two companies!!!

Hardly seems fair.

But War never is.