Hasty Ruminations

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Poor Prisoners

This is the season to think of the less fortunate.

Like, the convicts in prison. Soon to be joined (if we have any luck at all) by most of the American Red Cross.

People have started many wonderful programs for prisoners.

Like, foster pets. Sending dogs to prison for the inmates to train the animals and to prepare them for adoption.

Prison Pets

Awww…. So nice. *sigh*

Just a few questions:

1. The inmates earned their jail time. What makes us think they know how a dog should behave?

2. Who trains the inmates? Aren’t they already busy with license plates?

3. I know cats are sneaky, but what did the dogs do, to be sent to prison?

Here’s another benefit for prisoners: Angel Tree partner Fellowship Riders, a Dallas-based Christian organization, will help Prison Fellowship deliver gifts to 1,620 prisoners' kids nationwide this Christmas.

Awww…. Very nice. *sigh*

We should also acknowledge the role of the prosecutors, who took that bad actor away from his or her kids, and put him or her in the slammer where they belong. Now the kids actually have a chance. It’s the gift that keeps on giving – every day that the perp is not messing up the kids, the kids have a chance to turn out right. I think a lot of them are very relieved that Pa Perp or Ma Miscreant are gone.

Troops in Iraq

Troops in Iraq

The commission of Bush the First’s Friends, to try to extract sonny George the Twoth from Iraq, is currently debating troop levels.

Should the troop levels be reduced immediately in Iraq, or increased to beat down the civil war (oops!) insurgency?

Decisions, decisions.

Ponder, ponder and the commissioners pondered some more.

They pondered three hours, ‘til their ponderers were sore.

Then they thought of something they hadn’t before.

"We don't need to pick. We don't need to choose. If we can't win, make the other guy lose.

"We'll fly in more troops, Air Special D. We'll fly them to Baghdad, Falujah, Tikrit.

"While they're coming to town, to kill insurgents,

"We'll fly out some troops, it simply makes sense.

"We'll say to the hawks, 'We're gonna kick butt',

"While we say to the doves, 'All we need now is Love.'"


My work here is done.

Jesse Jackson's Great Idea



After Michael Richards went on Jesse Jackson’s radio show, Jesse had a New Idea.

He will lean on the entertainment and music industries to ban the N-word. NPR reported this morning that Jesse also will ban the “w” word for prostitute, and the “b” word for a female dog.

To avoid constitutional problems, he won’t go for a law. He will simply lean on people to comply. With him.

This is great! Single handedly, Jackson has accomplished what we had only dreamed of.

* He has killed rap. *

(Note, I did not say “rap music”, because those two words do not belong together. Like “toilet refreshment”.)

We should all say, "Right on, Mutha-F**ker!!"

(That phrase is not included in the ban, for some reason.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More Red Cross Problems


Now, I am mad!

The FDA is citing the American Red Cross – again – for blood safety violations.

Recent inspections found major problems in quality assurance, inventory management, control of off-spec blood products, donor screening and blood component manufacturing problems. These are repeats of previous Red Cross problems, in violation of the 2003 consent order between the Red Cross and the FDA, and in spite of Red Cross claims of training and assist visits. The American Red Cross had such “persistent and serious violations” (FDA’s words) for 17 years that it “settled” with the FDA in the 2003 consent order.

The Red Cross handles 40% of the nation’s blood supply. They sell blood to health facilities.

This is a horrible state of affairs.

We are not talking about rocket science here – nothing as complicated as controlling organ transplants, mapping genes or diagnosing cancer. What the Red Cross does requires simple, written procedures; training; supervision; quality assurance and quality control; and accurate specifications. There are consultants who know how to set these things up. That the Red Cross has not done this after three plus years – and $15,000,000 in fines (yes, fifteen million) – means that their management and their much-discussed board of 50 governors does not want to do it.

This outfit operates under the charter of the United States Congress.

The Red Cross put together a plan in 2004, with FDA’s blessing. The inspection in 2005 of the West Henrietta, NY, blood facility was the first test of that plan. It was that inspection which resulted in 207 deviations from the plan and the regulations and violations which resulted in the recent $5.7 million fine. I work under those regulations in the pharmaceutical, medical device and biopharm industries; and I must comply just as the Red Cross must comply.

It means that the Red Cross is not even trying. In my book, that is contempt, and it deserves some jail time.

They claim that they do not use donated money to pay these fines. I don’t believe that, either. The fines will increase if the new compliance plan does not meet FDA requirements.

Your kids and mine have a 40% chance of getting some Red Cross blood into their systems.

Who knows where it’s been, how it’s been handled, or where it came from?!

Let's establish another source for the blood supply, disband the Red Cross, and put them all in prison. Start with each of the 50 governors to a Fed Pen in each state.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

School Buses: Unsafe, Of Course


Alabama School Bus

Why don’t school buses have seatbelts and airbags?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, and Loyola University’s web site, say this:

“On school buses, occupant protection is provided by 'compartmentalization,' not safety belts. Compartmentalization is the name for the protective envelope created by strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing high seat backs that protect occupants in the event of a crash.”

THAT is why the kids in the Alabama bus crash were thrown around when the bus plunged 30 feet off an overpass, with at least three killed.


Somebody has a good lobby, and is making a lot of money from not putting seatbelts in school buses.

After the crash, there was a huge pile of kids in the front of the bus. The hospitals were overwhelmed with teens who had no identification.

If the government isn’t going to require seatbelts – just lap belts would have saved lives, for goodness sake – then the government must be required to provide toe tags with the student’s name, and body bags at each seat.

Mark my words: some school bus manufacturer(s) paid pimp lobbyists to sell this bill of goods to school boards for years, and there is a lot of money involved.

Inquiring minds want to know...

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Wartime Diary


Dang Thuy Tram

National Public Radio had a piece on All Things Considered on November 15th which moved me to remember some of the Vietnamese I knew during the Vietnam War, and afterwards. Dang Thuy Tram was a brand new doctor in a North Vietnamese MASH, and she kept a diary. Here is an excerpt from Kichael Sullivan's report:

"April 30, 1968: Sadness soaks into my heart like days of rain soak into the earth. I want to find some mindless happiness, but I cannot. My mind has wrinkles already because of worry. Is there no way to erase them? Oh, why was I born a girl so rich with dreams, and with love, asking so much from life?

"Tram's diary is filled with passages like that one -- along with stories of amputating limbs and trying to avoid American planes and foot patrols which often forced her and her colleagues to move their field clinic, sometimes carrying the wounded on their backs. The diary presents the story of a young woman filled with love and yearning and self doubt. And a deep animosity toward the American invaders.

"July 25, 1968: Oh, my God. How hateful the war is. And the more hate, the more the devils are eager to fight. Why do they enjoy shooting and killing good people like us? How can they have the heart to kill all those youngsters who love life, who are struggling and living for so many hopes? "

Please go here to read the whole article: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6492819&ft=1&f=1004

Patrick O'Brian


Patrick O'Brian, Author

The playwright David Mamet wrote an appreciation of Patrick O’Brian in 2000 in the NY Times:


The Humble Genre Novel, Sometimes Full of Genius

For the past 30 years the greatest novelists writing in English have been genre writers: John le Carré, George Higgins and Patrick O'Brian....

Recently I put down O'Brian's sea novel "The Ionian Mission" and said to my wife, "This fellow has created characters and stories that are part of my life."

She said: "Write him a letter. He's in his 80's. Write him and thank him. And when you go to England, look him up, go tell him.

"How wonderful," she said, "to be alive, when he is still alive. Imagine living in the 1890's and being able to converse with Conan Doyle."...

Well, I saw myself talking with Patrick O'Brian. "Sir," I would have said, "what a blow, the death of Barret Bonden." (Bonden, the coxswain, half-carries the wounded Captain Aubrey from the deck of a sinking privateer: "We'd best get back to the barky, sir, as this ship's going to Kingdom Come," the closing sentence of the novel.)

"Sir," I would have said, "I've read your Aubrey-Maturin series three or four times. When I was young I scoffed at stories of the Victorians who lived for the next issue of the Strand and the next tale of Sherlock Holmes; and I scoffed at the grown women and men who plagued Conan Doyle to rescind Holmes's death at the Reichenbach Falls. But I am blessed in having, in my generation, an equally thrilling set of heroes, and your characters have become a part of my life.

"Your minor characters," I would have said, "are especially dear to me: the mad Awkward Davis; Mrs. Fielding, the inexpert spy; old Mr. Herapath, the cowardly Boston loyalist; Christy-Palliere, the gallant French sea captain; and, of course, Barret Bonden, Captain Aubrey's coxswain." And I will not say I cried at his death, but I will not say I did not....

The perfect medium for such, of course, is not the meeting, but the concise note.

So I sat at the breakfast table composing my note, and leafed through the newspaper and read of Patrick O'Brian's death.


The books:

Master and Commander (1970)
Post Captain (1972)
HMS Surprise (1973)
The Mauritius Command (1977)
Desolation Island (1978)
The Fortune of War (1979)
The Surgeon's Mate (1980)
The Ionian Mission (1981)
Treason's Harbour (1983)
The Far Side of the World (1984)
The Reverse of the Medal (1986)
The Letter of Marque (1988)
The Thirteen-Gun Salute (1989)
The Nutmeg of Consolation (1991)
Clarissa Oakes (1993)
(The Truelove in the USA)
The Wine-Dark Sea (1993)
The Commodore (1995)
The Yellow Admiral (1996)
The Hundred Days (1998)
Blue at the Mizzen (1999)
The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey (2004)

Read one – any one – and, like me, you’ll be hooked.

A Scientology Wedding


TomKat. He needs a shave, and a shirt that fits.

A scientology wedding must be like an engineering symphony, or doing physics in the Louvre.

Why would you want to have test tubes, Bunsen burners, and the periodic table of the elements at your wedding?

And you don’t even wave to the folks in the small Italian town afterwards to say thanks.

And you don’t even invite the Mayor, who was going to grant you honorary citzenship before, but when you invited the Mayor of Rome but not her, she made the well-known Italian gesture of dismissal and stormed away.

There are actors, and there are bad actors.

And then there’s TomKat.

See? We Knew They Were Whackos!


Air Pollution

At a conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Nobel prize winner Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany said that a layer of pollution delilberately spewed into the atmosphere could be just the thing to fight global warming.

He said that it could act as a "shade" from the sun's rays and help cool the planet.



Friday, November 17, 2006

Advice For The Love Lorn


Dear Abby:

My husband is a liar and a cheat. He has cheated on me from the beginning, and, when I confront him, he denies everything.

What's worse, everyone knows that he cheats on me. It is so humiliating. Also, since he lost his job six years ago, he hasn't even looked for a new one.

All he does all day is smoke cigars and cruise around with his buddies while I have to work to pay the bills. Since our daughter went away to college he doesn't even pretend to like me and hints that I may be a lesbian.

What should I do?



Dear Clueless:

Grow up and dump him.

Good grief, woman, you don't need him anymore. You're a United States Senator from New York. Act like it.



Thursday, November 16, 2006


I love the Catholic Church.

But, it gets in trouble when the human side makes mistakes, and then imposes some Imperial Magisterium on the faithful to demand compliance. That's fine in matters of faith and morals; not so good when the subject is "admin and housekeeping".

Two recent cases in the news:

The Vatican objects strongly to the United States building a wall on the Mexican border, despite the fact that the number of deaths during illegal crossings has doubled since 1995.

Perhaps we will stop building the wall the day that the Vatican begins demolishing the walls around the Vatican city-state, erected to keep Italians out in both the medieval and the Renaissance periods. Word is that Michelangelo built some of the wall.

The Church has forbidden priests to marry since the second Lateran council in the year 1139. Before that, priests, bishops, cardinals and popes married and raised families, starting with St. Peter, the first Pope.

This doctrine does not come under the umbrella of divinely revealed truth. I know we hate to rush into things, but perhaps enough time has passed for the Church to review this again. Since we hold marriage to be sacred, in a sacrament instituted by Christ, why are the very people entrusted with spiritual leadership prohibited from it? By some estimates, there are about 150,000 married priests worldwide (20,000 in the U.S.) who are thereby excommunicated.

I enjoy sermons from celibate priests, telling me how to be a better husband and father. The last time one of them lived in a family, he was about 14 years old.

Married Priests Dot Org

Celebrity Dummy Contest


Suzanne Somers

Didn’t we just talk about not listening to actors who lecture us without scripts?

Now, Suzanne Somers, who has played a ditz for many years, has written a book.

A lot of women have finally shied away from taking hormones to reduce the effects of aging. So, Suzanne-ditz wrote a book with pseudo-medical input, entitled Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones.

Her medical input has run away, and the AMA is now calling for FDA regs on all “bioidenticals”. She went on that show of good taste and medically efficacious treatments, Larry King Live, to defend her ditziness.

Watch for two-fer sales: buy Suzanne-ditz’s book and they’ll throw in OJ’s new one for free.

Now, here's the contest: who do you think is the bioidentical ditz of Suzanne Somers?

U.S. Runways Lack Overrun Zone


Midway Overrun - 2005. Cop quote: "SOMEBODY'S gettin' this ticket!"

Over 50% of U.S. airports don't have a 1,000-foot safety zone at the end of all runways, a new report says.

My garage doesn't have one, either. Right, Muffy Snookums? Yes, yes, you're a dear, and when I married you, I knew that manual dexterity was not your Olympic event. But the brake, dear, the brake has its own friggin' pedal, doesn't it?!


Los Angeles, Chicago's O'Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have more than one runway that doesn't meet safety standards, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

OK, let's see. World-airport-codes.com lists Hartsfield's runway length as 11,889 feet. Wikipedia lists O'Hare's as 13,000 feet. It also lists typical runout requirements for commercial planes as 6,000 feet for most; 8,000 feet for widebodies and heavier planes; and 10,000 feet for international widebodies with 13,000 feet for takeoff. Slightly longer lengths for high altitude airports, like Denver.

So, they wanna add 1,000 feet to the runways? Atlanta's would then be almost 13,000 feet long. For airplanes which need 6,000 feet.

Tell me we aren't gonna land from both ends at the same time!

(Pause. Take a breath. OK.)

Hasty Rumination readers are STRONGLY encouraged to pick runways WITH overrun zones when they fly.

It’s a policy we can LIVE with!

A public service announcement from this blog.

Gay Marriage - A Solution


- Marriage ends sex for married people. *

- Aids can go from one man to another through gay sex.

- Some gay men want the right to marry each other.

- If gay men marry each other they will become like all married couples, and stop having sex.

Therefore, married gay men not having sex will not transmit aids.


One more bullet in the fight against AIDS!

*(It’s a fact, Jack.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Airborne, Flaming Head lice


The Stars of Our Little Story

This guy invents a “louse-buster”, a super hot air blower, not only to blow head lice out of a kid’s hair, but to dry out the little suckers so they die on the way.

The lice, people, not the kids. The lice die.

It blows a lot more air, and a lot hotter air, than a hair dryer.

Of course, you have to be careful about scorching the kid’s scalp, or setting his clothes on fire. Melted contact lenses might be a problem.

Smashed bugs on your bathroom mirror – not just for your windshield any more.

Turn off the lights when you do it. It should look like Baghdad in the early nights of the war. Airborne, flaming head lice spinning out of control...

Crowe, Mad As - Mrs. Rock


Russell Crowe, the actor, throws a telephone at a hotel bellman, goes to jail, and after settlement, apologizes, pays his fine, and says that he must vent his anger, or walking down the street one day, he will just pop.

Things like that little incident, he says, are handled much better in Australia, with a hand shake and a smile.

He says U.S. law is very likely to be mis-used in cases like his.

Letting actors speak without written lines (I've said it before) is like letting John Kerry near a live microphone.

I say let's gag him, and see if he just pops.

Crowe or Kerry, either one.

Intrepidly Stuck In The Mud



The former USS INTREPID has been pierside in Manhattan, New York for, oh, 24 years.

They decide she needs a little maintenance, across the harbor in New Jersey. $60,000,000.

So they get a bunch of tugs, a retired admiral who used to be one of the INTREPID’s skippers, a lot of dignitaries, and they make a big deal out of it. Two former mayors (Dinkins and Koch) handle the bow line.

They cast off the lines, get all six tugs pulling and the ship moves.

About 15 feet.

Then it’s stuck in 24 years of mud.

17 feet of it.

Now, they have to wait until the next spring tide (it coincides with a full moon, and has nothing to do with the season). Maybe someone will get a water cannon to pump some of the mud out of the way. And maybe lighten the ship of some of it's portable museum stuff.

And maybe get help from one of us who know about moving ships away from piers!

Boy, 9, Stops Car, Saves Family


The Reward

Jimmy Stevens was riding down a highway in Texas with his younger brother and sister when his Mom, who was driving, passed out at the wheel.

Jimmy couldn’t wake her up, so he climbed into her lap and steered the car to the shoulder. He pushed the brake pedal until the car stopped, and put the car in park.

Then he called 911 on his Mom’s cell phone.

He told the operator his Mom wasn’t breathing, and he stayed on the line as she directed EMS to the car. Jimmy kept his brother and sister calmed down while he was guiding EMS with landmarks.

The first his Mom knew about it was when she woke up in the hospital.

It’s nice to have a happy ending.


His Mom and Dad are taking the whole family to Red Lobster, to celebrate. Jimmy has never been there, and he has always wanted to go. They told Jimmy he can have as much to eat as he wants.

I think that’s great.

They’re not sure why his mother just stopped breathing.

Let’s hope that no one in the family is allergic to seafood. From About: Allergies:

“The manifestations of fish and shellfish allergies can include those of a classic food allergy. The more common symptoms include skin, stomach, or respiratory problems. More specifically they can include nasal congestion, hives, itching, swelling, wheezing or shortness of breath, nausea, upset stomach, cramps, heart burn, gas, diarrhea, lightheadedness, or fainting.”

Enjoy, y’all!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Christmas Shopping Time


I have ordered these for Lacy.

Please don't tell her!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Chris Rock's Mom Is Some Kinda ... Angry


Cracker Barrel

Rose Rock, the mother of comedian Chris Rock, claims that a Cracker Barrel restaurant in South Carolina "racially discriminated" against her when she was seated but ignored for more than a half hour. She plans to sue.

Well, of COURSE she does!

Half an hour - sakes alive! I have NEVER had to wait that long in Cracker Barrel. Rather, I can't remember being waited on that quickly there.

Once it was more than forty-five minutes. Since then, I leave if the waitress hasn't dropped by in 10 or 15 minutes.

I didn't realize they were discriminating against me! Must be because I'm Irish-American. Or from Chicago. Or I am not gay.

She complained to the manager, who offered her and her daughter a free meal. She said that that wasn't enough.

Well, of COURSE she did!

Oh, and by the way, she has lived in South Carolina at least since her (millionaire) son was born there, so she knows where to eat and how to get service. She chose to sue Cracker Barrel over a $5.75 dinner.

Could it be that, like the old restaurant chain, Sambo's, she just doesn't like their name?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Doogey? Say It Ain't So!


Actor Neil Patrick Harris, 33, who used to play Doogie Howser M.D. on TV, says that he is gay.

Well, thanks for clearing THAT up!

He said that he outed himself because there was a lot of speculation about his life. (Translation: he was about to be outed.) Or, he announced it as kind of an advertisement. Would explain the cell phone number under his picture.

Who's next? MacAuley Caulkin? Joe Pesce?

Finally, the Day AFTER the Election


Two happy things happened in the past two weeks: Chicago Public Radio ended their *@!#*! ten day fund raising drive, and all of the campaign ads, loaded stories and pseudo analysis by candidates ended last night.

There was even a story broadcast from my Mom's home town, Great Falls, MT, this morning. See my other blog, Prompt Ruminations, for details.

'Publicans are mad because they lost the House (big time), and the Senate is close to being lost (Dam'crats picked up four of six necessary Senate seats, at this writing, with Montana and Virginia too close to call).

I have known Jim Webb since college days. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968, I in 1969. With only 4,000 students, it is a small college. I remember the Brigade boxing championship, when he lost to another guy in '68: Ollie North, my company commander. I like Webb the person; but I don't like the Reagan Republican SecNav who is now the opportunistic Democrat candidate for the Senate. He's acting too much like a politician.

Overall, I am happy. I agree with Thomas Paine (1737-1809), who said, "That government is best which governs least *." I was therefore somewhat happy with this so-called "do nothing Congress". But I prefer the Congress like this new one: closely balanced, while controlled by the opposite party from the one in the White House.

The election also reminded me of fundamental American strengths. Sure, we are folks who listen to Howard Stern, Madeline Murray O'Hare and (*brrrrr!*) John Kerry. But we also value education, religion and treating children with love and firm guidance. We really are slow to anger. Look how patient the American people have been with the government's failures on bin Laden, health care and tax breaks for millionaires. We all knew that the President wanted to get Saddam because the President's father failed to, and look how patient we've been on that one. We even let a Secretary of Defense repeat the errors of the Vietnam war without our burning down the Pentagon. Yet.

Mind you, I most often vote Republican. But I am quickly becoming more libertarian. With a small "L".

Slow to anger, yes. But, once our dander is up... well, ask the Japanese from the 1940's, the Germans from 1917 or 1945, or Saddam today. Hugo Chavez should take note.

Not that a change of parties is going to be any better. The stereotype of American men is that they refuse to ask for directions, and for American women is that they talk, talk, talk. Well, finally, a woman has risen to be Speaker of the House, and so the House may never adjourn again.

It isn't the change of parties. It is that we once again have a dynamic tension between Congress and the Executive. We tend to get fewer laws that way, a few more American solutions that way, and delightful stalemates on the trivial.

* He also said, "These are the times that try men's souls", and "If we don't hang together, we will surely hang separately."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Jon Carry



Everyone else has run this picture on his blog, so I will, too.

What few know is that the soldiers had some help making the sign.

Remember this one?


Yep. 'Ceptin this time, he used his own spell checker.

Abu Ghraib


Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded all U.S. forces in Iraq for a year, retired from the Army November 1. He pointed to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal as “the key reason, the sole reason, that I was forced to retire. I was essentially not offered another position in either a three-star or four-star command."

Gen Sanchez

The 55-year-old retired in a formal ceremony at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He served in the military for 33 years.

Brigadeer General Janis Karpinski was demoted to the rank of colonel in May 2005, for dereliction of duty, lying to investigators, failure to obey a lawful order and – hold on to your hats - shoplifting. Karpinski had failed to inform the Army about an earlier arrest on an Air Force base on the misdemeanour charge.

BG (Now Colonel) Karpinski

She was the commander of three large US- and British-led prisons in Iraq in 2003, eight battalions, and 3400 Army reservists. Sanchez was her boss. At least, as much as anyone was.

Sanchez and Karpinski can, of course, say what they want. So can I.

Karpinski should have been given a bad conduct discharge and prison time. Sanchez is lying about the scandal bringing him down. It was his poor performance in the scandal – his failure to stop it, to investigate, to fire and to punish the criminals like Karpinski and her flunkies – which stopped his career.

I’m amazed that they kept him around as long as they did.

The Army apparently still has problems handling minorities – women and Hispanics – on the same basis as they handle white folks. After all these years, you still make out better if you are a minority or a woman.

Farewell, Cruel World


Mary Cheney, the VP's daughter, and Mel Raines, his political director, are with the Vice President at a hunting lodge near Pierre, SD, on election day.

For those new to South Dakota, we pronounce it "peer".

We wish Dick happy hunting.

We wish Mary and Mel a well stocked bomb shelter, locked by them from inside, until the election is over and the shooting stops.

Radical Idea



I wonder how much good a Secretary of Anything does in his third, fourth or eighth year on the job. And I think that most will agree that there are more than a handful who do more harm than good after a while.

How about...

Term Limits, for cabinet secretaries and heads of agencies, like CIA, FBI, NSA, etc.?

And their assistants, under secretaries, and all political appointees.

Say, two years. And the outgoing honcho is not eligible for another equivalent, high level political post until there is a new administration.