Monday, March 31, 2008

Everybody else is doing it

What is in the back of your car? This would require me owning a car, and living in a city I rely on public transportation instead.

When was the last time you threw up? A couple of months ago when I had a few too many beers on an already upset stomach.

What color is your toothbrush? White

Name one person that made you smile today. Nobody yet, but it is early.

What were you doing at 8 am this morning? Doing show prep for the radiio show, most likely stapling news items together.

What were you doing 30 minutes ago? See 8am, it is only 8:23am as I am typing this.

What is your favorite candy bar? Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Caramello, Hershey Special Dark, Mounds (yes I like candy bars)

Have you ever been to a strip club? How else would I learn about the birds and the bees?

What is the last thing you said aloud? I was talking to the news anchor for our FM station about Richard Mellon Scaife's credibility or lack thereof.

What is the best ice cream flavor? Blueberry at Dave & Andy's

What was the last thing you had to drink? Coffee, it is morning after all.

What are you wearing right now? khakis and a Game Stop shirt

What was the last thing you ate? Toast as a late night snack

Have you bought any new clothing items this week? No, the last item I bought was my Foamy T shirt.

When was the last time you ran? Thursday night during volleyball at the Homewood YMCA

What was the last sporting event you watched? Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers yesterday on TV

What is your favorite flavor of popcorn? The microwave kind with that toxic buttery flavor stuff that will contribute to my eventual death.

Have you ever gone camping? Probably as a kid, but it left almost no lasting impression.

Do you take vitamins daily? Not unless I am stealing them from someone, I have no desire to actually ingest vitamins.

Do you go to church every Sunday? I work every Sunday, if I didn't I am sure I could come up with another excuse if needed.

Do you have a tan? It's March in Pittsburgh, so the answer is obviously not.

Do you like Chinese food more than pizza? Slight nod to pizza here, but very slight and lo mein is my ultimate comfort food.

Do you drink your soda with a straw? No, nor to I put hay or any other type of field grain in my beverage..

What did your last text message say? I don't text!!! I am anti cell phone and can't wait for the conclusive study that says cell phones cause cancer, so I can ride all of those cell phone weilding bastards as much as they have hounded me for smoking.

Are you someone’s best friend? Probably, but I aspire to be someone's worst enemy to be honest, it just seems more fulfilling.

What are you doing tomorrow? I have two radio guests booked.and I will be working both of my jobs, should be a busy day.

Where is your mom? Probably at her home.

Look to your left, what do you see? My studio door as well as a window that faces the hallway that passes by the studio.

What color is your watch? I haven't worn a watch in ages, I would know the exact amount of time it has been since I have worn a watch if I was wearing a watch right now.

What do you think of when you think of Australia? It would be a lot cooler if they outlawed cricket, lol.

Do you use Chapstick? No, I tend to just bite the loose skin off of my lip, it is a bad habit I know, but I am single so I can do whatever I want.

What is your birthstone? Alexandrite (June 18th)

Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive thru? With no car, drive thrus are not likely, so I go inside or I just order in off of the web and let them deliver.

What is your favorite number? 2

Do you have a dog? No, I am currently single, so I am not attached to a dog or any other female.

Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? George, to talk to him about the fantasy baseball league.

Have you met anyone famous? Yes, most recently that would be Mike Farrell of MASH, who was in studio last Thursday.

Do you have any plans today? Nothing carved in stone, just have to buy bus tickets and maybe book a radio guest or two..

How many states have you lived in? One

Have you ever gone to college? Yes, but didn't graduate, I received an internship in radio and was hired after my internship ended.

Do you dye your hair? No, I just pluck the grey ones whenever I can.

What is your biggest annoyance in your life right now? Stupid people, but that is always the case.

Can you say the alphabet backwards? This would seem to be a skill with little or no practical application whatsoever.

Do you have a maid service clean your house? I put a maid on my Christmas list every year, still haven't received one.

What are your favorite pair of shoes that you wear all the time? Just any old pair of sneakers, I am not all that picky.

Are you jealous of anyone? Me jealous of someone? Puh - leez, don't insult me.

Is anyone jealous of you? I produce a liberal talk show on a low power AM radio station for a pittance of a wage. Really, what is not to desire about that?

Do you eat healthy? Why would I do something silly like that? I am all about how food tastes and not whether or not it is good for me. For me, the yummier, the better.

What do you usually do during the day? Work for at least one of my employers if not both.

Do you use the word 'hello' daily? I tend to use greetings or salutations rather than hello, because I am a geek like that.

What color is your car? See the first question.

Do you like cats? Animals should be eaten and not heard, or herded then eaten.

Have you ever been to Six Flags? No, the closest I come to amusement parks these days is the occasional venture to Kennywood in summer.

How did you get your worst scar? That would be the mental scar of my dad trying to choke the life out of my mom when I was three. I have held that bitterness for 35 years and see no reason to relinguish it any time in the near future.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Asshat - Democracy doesn't work edition

Once again, I dropped a feeler last week to see if anyone had nominees for the coveted Asshat crown.  And once again, none were forthcoming.  Lucky for you, I keep a spare Asshat for roadside emergencies such as these, and really, anytime I can give Joe Francis something, it is a good day.  Rather than me try to explain why Joe Francis is an Asshat (as if you didn't already know that) here is yet another reason.


Joe Francis: I'm Just Like Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, and Jesus

ST. JOE Francis
We weren't sure Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis could actually say anything to further damage his already tattered reputation until we read Joel Stein's jailhouse profile in April's GQ. Stein starts the story with an anecdote from his first experience with Francis six years ago: apparently, Meatstick Joe and Stein were watching some girl stick a bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade into her vagina on the GGW tour bus. At one point, the girl's phone rings—it's her boyfriend—so Francis answers it and decides to give the guy a play-by-play of exactly how his girlfriend is using a bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade as a makeshift sex toy. "That was fucking classic," Francis says of the ordeal.

Things only get classier from there.

It seems Francis was not a happy camper while sitting in a Nevada jail on charges for tax evasion for eight months (he's out now, at least for the time being), despite the fact that he had cable TV, a DVD player, and access to a phone bank, which he used to order delivery food and conduct interviews:

On his fellow inmates: "The one thing I fear is one of these fucking people showing up at my house. I'm a different class. They're dumb. They're the people you see on Cops. Those are the people you see in jail."

On Access Hollywood reporter Maria Menounos, who described Francis as "ever defiant" in an interview, much to his chagrin: "Fuck yeah, I'm defiant! It's like that defiant Rosa Parks won't give up her seat. Fuck you, Maria. The ever defiant Nelson Mandela just can't stand apartheid. The ever defiant Martin Luther King. The ever defiant Jesus Christ. You fucking stupid whore. If I saw Maria Menounos, I'd punch her in the face." He later clarified, explaining, "I'm just saying you can have an unpopular person who is criminalized and demonized. Jesus Christ was crucified by Pontius Pilate at my age. He was not a popular guy."

On his plans for Panama City, where he was arrested back in 2003 for allegedly filming two 17-year-old girls naked in a seedy motel: "I'm going after the hillbillies as soon as I get out of here...I'm going to own Panama City. I can't wait to rename it Joefrancisville, Florida."

We're sure the good residents of Panama City are equally as excited for that prospect as well, Joe.

My work here is not a quiz

Yes, I am still working on this page today.  Something hasn't been done yet and until I can get to it, I figured I would post this little link to some trivia.  I wish you the best of luck.  (For the record, I only got 4 of 10 right, so I will either burn or be brandished a Republican).

The secrets of scientology revealed here

It is a cult of sychronized, power chairing elderly.  Don't believe me, just ask Tom Kruse.....



Walk with me

Today was a bright and sunny Saturday here in the Burgh, and since I had no plans, I went ahead and did the Saturday breakfast thing again at Tom's Diner.  There is just something about having a big breakfast in a greasy spoon that screams all kind of awesome. Rather than just amble to Tom's (I walked again as opposed to taking the bus), I figured I would bring the camera along with me and allow you to view my journey somewhat as I do, starting with the look outside my apartment as the journey begins.  Mind you at the end of the driveway I could go either left or right, but today we opt for  right turn so I can grab cigarettes for the journey.


The right turn puts us squarely on McKee Place, the 400 block of McKee I might add, which is only one way, as opposed to the rest of the street which is two way.  If I would have a car, I couldn't make a right here, I would be forced to go left, and while my journey would be shorter time wise, this picture wouldn't be part of the package. 



The next turn on our journey is all of about a hundred feet down McKee where we make a right turn here, up what looks to be a crack alley, and probably isn't far from the truth.  It is a little alleyway that runs between McKee Place and Semple Street that is for pedestrians only, though it does show up on some mapping programs as St. James Private Drive or some crazy thing.  All I know is that it is littered with glass and graffiti.  Sadly my walk isn't through all beautiful places, but places like this as well.


At Semple Street we make another right.  The right hand side of the street has a is almost all businesses, some of which are behind me, but others line the street that we will be walking by, including and Indian restaurant, a Thai restaurant, my bar Uncle Jimmy's, Semple Street Fish House, which is the new fish and chips place I blogged about previously and finally at the end of the street we find the corner store where I will grab my cigarettes.  Mind you the girl in their on saturday morning is quite attractive, but way too young for me, so we will not take the camera inside.  The last thing I need is stories of some dirty old man in the neighborhood taking pictures of girls.  I gots me more than enough problems without adding stuff like that to the menu.

I call it the corner store (that used to be its official name before the lady who owned it sold it, now I don't know the official name, so I just call it the corner store) because it is on the corner of Semple and Ward Streets.  Exiting the store, with cigarettes in hand, the next steps are to the right and down Ward Street.  Cigarettes and greasy spoon breakfasts are kind of like green eggs and ham, they most certainly can't be good for you, but damn if they don't go together.  And unlike The Captain and Tennille, who also go together, they don't suck.  They can never apologize enough for Muskrat Love.

After strolling down ward Street for a block, and making you suffer through that god awful song, we make a right onto Boulevard of the Allies.  How the street got its name, I am not sure, but given the road conditions around here this time of year, some of the crater like potholes make the road seem like a bombed out version of Boulevard of the Axis instead.  And despite all of these turns I have made to this point, I still am no more than a 4 minute walk from my apartment, basically because I made a giant circle almost, just for some smokes.  The journey will start to straighten out a bit once we get down to that traffic light and make a left onto........

Bates Street.  As the line of cars would indicate, this is the main road into Oakland from the Parkway East.  While Fifth and Forbes Avenues are the two main drags through Oakland itself, a large number of people coming into Oakland will use this road first.  There would be more traffic if this were a weekday, but since it is Saturday morning, traffic is lighter than usual.



The bottom of bates Street intersects with Second Avenue, but we are off roading it for a block or so and taking the Eliza Furnace Trail instead.  The trail runs parallel to both the Parkway East (the bridge) and Second Avenue (not seen here) and is a bicycle/pedestrian trail that runs from downtown Pittsburgh well out past Oakland.  The advantage to taking the trail is that it is near impossible for me to get hit by a car now until I get to the South Side.  It would take a Herculean effort even by the drunkest of drivers to hit me on a path only for pedestrians.  In any event we are going to hop on the trail and make a left.

The cool thing about the trail is it takes you right to our next destination, the Hot Metal Bridge, which is actually two bridges, one for traffic and a second structure just for people.  The reason for the name is that the bridge used to connect two parts of the J & L Steel plant, carrying molten steel across the river from the blast furnaces on one side to the rolling mill on the other.  But since we don't make stuff here anymore, it is now just an ordinary truss bridge.


Okay, I took a picture that didn't involve a turn, unless my plan was to step off of the bridge and plummet into the Monongahela River below.  IN any event, it is the view of downtown Pittsburgh from the Hot Metal Bridge, the bridge in the shot is the Birmingham Bridge, astute readers of the blog will remember that the last time I went to breakfast, one of the bridge decks on that span dropped about 8 inches.  The bridge is still under repair, though they have opened two of the four lanes of traffic that cross it, but really, if you know a bridge is unstable, would you cross it?  I will stick with the structure I am on, thank you very much.

At the end of the Hot Metal Bridge is the South Side Works, which is a business retail development hat takes up about four blocks or so.  I don't shop there all that much, there isn't a whole lot there that I am interested in to be honest.  I went to the movie theater there once and the sound in the theater was just abysmal, which is something that will keep me from coming back.  Most of the other shops there are just out of my price range.  Mind you the last time I bought an outfit, I got the pants for $10 and the shirt for $6, so it doesn't take a whole lot to get out of my price range.  Anyway, Hot Metal Street ends on the last street we will have to go on for this journey.

Lastly we make a right onto East Carson Street, and a mere 12 blocks from here is Tom's Diner.  I would take pictures along East Carson, but to be honest, it is mostly bars and once you have seen one bar over here, you have pretty much seen them all.  Another thing that kept me from pulling my camera out of my pocket is, unbeknowst to me, at the restaurant next door to Tom's Diner, Chelsea Clinton was doing a Q&A session, and since I was keeping my camera in my pocket, I don't know that the Secret Service would take kindly to someone pulling a metal object out of their pocket, so I didn't get any pictures of the former First Daughter.  Which is a shame in that she is probably my favorite of the Clinton clan.  But while my journey to breakfast may have ended on Carson Street, I did go grocery shopping afterward, which allowed me to garb this photo as well.

People following along on the comment thread to the last blog will appreciate this photo.  Everybody else will be clueless.

A couple of notes before I go.  Many moons ago, I mentioned that I would only leave the 5 most recent comments in my guestbook because I didn't want it filling up the entire page, and that I didn't want graphics posted there.  If people want to add graphics to something, add it in a personal message or as a comment to an entry, but don't hog up the main page with oversized graphics.  Well today I went about policing that by deleting all of the guestbook entries that had graphics and changing the settings on the guestbook to no longer allow HTML, which I assume is a new feature from Multiply and hopefully will solve that problem once and for all.  I also changed the home page music, I have enough stuff stored away in Imeem that I can change the music from time to time, and today just felt like time.

Finally, remember when I said I was going to start playing volleyball on Thursday nights.  Well after about a month of procrastination, I finally went about doing just that and I learned how old I really am.  I had been meaning to play, but usually Tuesday and Wednesday, I am lucky if I get 12 hours of sleep over those two days, so it was very easy to get off of work Thursday and just go sleep rather than try to get a small nap in and then go play volleyball in a few hours.  This Thursday though I finally got up the motivation and went.  We played for two hours, which was good enough for 5 games.  The team I was on went 3-2 and it was probably a good level of play to get back in on, everybody had a general idea of what they were supposed to do, as opposed to just smacking the ball around like a family picnic.  Mind you it was far from a professional level, I would say it was a competent level of play, which is about what I would hope to do given I hadn't played in about 15 years.  All went relatively well, except I think I hurt myself at some point.  I had the typical bumps and bruises that go with diving on the floor, but on one particular ball, someone mishit it and it went veering off in the wrong direction.  I opted to go in pursuit and try to save it and I made a move in the direction of the ball, knowing I was going to have to hustle and the first sprint step I took I had the weirdest sensation.  It was like my body was moving forward but something inside my body wanted to stay in place, sort of like in the cartoons where the smoke outline of the character stays ion place after the character has run off, except what wanted to stay in place felt like my intestines or something.  My body has been sore ever since, nothing to keep me from doing that which I always do mind you, but enough to make me thing I probably pulled something. 

Well, I better scoot, it is almost 4am and I have to work in the morning. 

Friday, March 28, 2008

Stolen content time

If you thought I could pass on this, you don't know me that well,


Legs manual wins odd title prize

A self-help guide called If You Want Closure In Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs has been voted the oddest book title of the year.

The book beat off competition from I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen to win The Bookseller magazine's prize.

Cheese Problems Solved took third place in a poll which attracted 8,500 votes.

Joel Rickett, deputy editor of The Bookseller, said of the winner: "So effective is the title that you don't even need to read the book itself."

The Joy of Chickens
American Bottom Archaeology
Versailles: The View From Sweden
Re-using Old Graves
Highlights in the History of Concrete
The Joy of Sex: Pocket Edition
Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers
The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories
People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It
The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification

He added that it "makes redundant an entire genre of self-help tomes".

The manual, whose author is named Big Boom, is described as a "self-help book, written by a man for the benefit of women".

Bookseller's contest began in 1978, and the roll-call of previous winners includes High Performance Stiffened Structures, Living with Crazy Buttocks and How To Avoid Huge Ships.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I mentioned this editorial that appeared in the local Sunday Pittsburgh Post Gazette in my most recent comment to the BFT thread.  Happy Reading!!!


Girls getting raunchy
Spring break at the beach isn't what it used to be
Sunday, March 23, 2008

This month, millions of young people will congregate on sunny beaches as far from home as possible in order to relieve themselves from the stresses of academia. Their methods? Around-the-clock binge drinking and lively cultural activities such as near-naked girl-against-girl wrestling matches held in giant vats of pudding.

Meghan Daum is an essayist, a novelist and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times (

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., version of spring break was originally made famous by the 1960 film "Where the Boys Are," but spring break is now thought to be best experienced in places like Cancun, Mexico, where the drinking age is 18 and tour companies build packages almost exclusively around access to alcohol: $100 procures a wristband that grants admission to clubs offering unlimited free alcohol.

Meanwhile, in news of the "no duh" variety, the American Medical Association released figures about sex and alcohol use during rowdy spring break vacations. The poll, which surveyed female college students and graduates ages 17 to 35, found that 74 percent believed women used drinking "as an excuse for outrageous behavior"; 83 percent "had friends who drank the majority of nights while on spring break"; and 12 percent "felt forced or pressured into sex" during spring break.

And no wonder. The Journal of American College Health has reported that women partying at spring break hot spots consume an average of 10 alcoholic drinks per day, and men consume an average of 18. Queasy yet? I know I am.

A few years ago, I went to Cancun during spring break to research a magazine article. I was hoping to arrive at some grand psychological and existential reason as to why many of today's college women (who, after all, were presumably pursuing higher education because they wanted to be more than sex objects) seem so happy to let men lick tequila shots off their body parts.

I didn't exactly succeed. But after a week of talking to people in various states of undress and intoxication, I can tell you this much: What's happening on spring break beaches isn't just boys being boys and girls going wild. It's young people, women especially, deciding that the way to measure their readiness for the adult world is not in terms of education or emotional maturity but sexual desirability.

The raunchy contests and general debauchery were something that these women had prepared for, almost as though for a final exam. They'd logged hours at the gym, in tanning booths and at body wax salons. They'd saved up money for breast implants and then timed the surgery so they'd be healed by spring break. Some seemed to have practiced drinking, experimenting with different alcohol combinations to see what afforded the fastest buzz with the least amount of calories and dollars spent.

One word I heard again and again, oddly, was "confidence." As they psyched themselves up for wet T-shirt contests or debated whether a given guy was worth flirting with, a lot of women told me that they saw spring break as the proving ground for their attractiveness. "If I can be considered hot here, I'll be hot anywhere," a rather morose woman sitting on a bar stool in a bikini and high heels told me. "I'm here to get confident."

That's sad, but it's not exactly irrational given the context (no one was there, after all, to participate in a chess tournament). But the more women I talked to, the more it became clear that hotness was, for them, the largest factor in the equation of their self-worth. When they talked about what they wanted to do with their lives, they spoke not of jobs or grad school but of looking good, of having the right equipment and experience to ensure a place in the raunch-obsessed pop culture they'd come to see as the real world.

And why not? These days, miniskirts the size of cocktail napkins are considered appropriate mall attire for 14-year-olds. Local newscasters seem to regard see-through shirts as proper on-air attire. And illiteracy appears to have spread to the point at which parents can put a T-shirt on a 2-year-old without noticing that the words "Future Hooters Girl" are printed across the front. With girl power like that, can we really blame these women for seeing their sexuality as their only currency?

Of course, despite the fact that an estimated 170,000 kids are expected to descend on Cancun this season, there are many more who have better things to do than pass out on the beer-stained floor of Congo Bongo. But every March, when the spring drinking statistics get trotted out like so many vodka shots lined up on a bar, I'm reminded of how much they reveal about everyday life. Revelers may tell themselves that whatever happens in Cancun stays in Cancun, but in some ways, the party never ends.

I'm feeling less confident already.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I am out of clever titles

Hopefully everyone had a good Easter. No complaints here, though from a sports perspective, it was a less than stellar week for me. My NCAA bracket for work is over before it begins this year. After the first weekend, I have lost two of my final four teams (Pitt, Georgetown), so there is no chance I can make up any ground in the second and third weekend of the tournament. This weekend, the field of 64 was whittled to 16, I have already lost 6 of the final 16, 3 of the final 7 and two of the final 4. As the lingo goes, my bracket is definitely broken.

Fantasy hockey was no better, I went 2-4-4 in the semi finals, which means I get dumped to the third place game rather than playing for the championship. The final week of the season is actually two weeks long, so there probably will not be an update on my progress for a while. Mind you a win in the third place game still gets me a trophy for my fantasy sports profile, a loss gets me nothing other than the knowledge that I finished 4th out of 12 teams.

So with all of that badness taking place, the holiday was still quite good. I got to work around 10:45 am and shortly after I got there, my phone rang and it was my mom saying they were coming down to see me. I like spending time with my family, and since it was a holiday, I figured my mom probably made me an Easter basket again. No matter how many times I say not to, she still does it. As a kid, rather than hunt eggs, we would hunt for our baskets Easter morning, and in some ways it was almost like a mini Christmas, my mom would buy lost of candy, but there would also be presents as well. At least now it is just candy and a card, so I guess she has cut back somewhat. Anyway, they were going to stop by and see me at work, which means I will be having a short work day, because usually if my parents come to see me there, I tend to leave with them. So I scrambled to make sure I got all of my work done, I still had a commercial feed to put into the system when they arrived, but I was mostly done. They wanted to go to lunch, and since I was still relatively flush with cash from my weekend winnings, I figured I would spring for the wholesome eatings. We ended up at Golden Corral, which is a buffet type place, you pay one price and then you eat as much as you want. I will just say I ate too much. Between pot roast and then Bourbon Street chicken, I was stuffed. It more than made up for my disastrous fantasy sports weekend.

I think I have solved some of my disillusionment with the radio show as well, I booked us so full of guests this week, that hopefully I will not have to deal with ye olde chronic complainers. We had two guests today, two more on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, two on Thursday and 3 on Friday. Take that whack jobs. I have started booking guests for the following weeks as well. I'll be honest, guests make my job easier, we get fewer calls for me to screen and I don't have to know anything, because unlike normal banter between Lynn and I, when she interviews someone, I don't get involved on air at all. I just sit back with my coffee and run the board, which is fine with me. A quick look at my schedule and it looks like I have 6 guests already lined up for next week. Go me!!!

I even got an email from a listener today. This is not common, I am not one of the on air talents per se, but still sometimes, it shocks me to find that people are out there looking for me. One lady called the show one day and said she was shocked I had a beard. Apparently she googled my name and found the photo I submitted to WQED when I was on TV. Well today, someone saw a post I made on a local radio forum page, I will sometimes chime in if I think that there is a question worth answering, and he tracked down my email address to ask my opinion on something. Since I am not inundated with emails, unlike on air talent, I took the time to fire off a lengthy response.

I picked up[ my paycheck from my part time gig today, it looks like they want me to work 3 nights again this week. Originally, I was getting every other Friday, but one of the cooks left, so the one cook who was looking for more hours was also dishing Thursday nights and he and I alternated on Fridays, now that we are short handed, he is cooking every night, so the other part time dishwasher, lamont has been getting Thursday nights and I have been getting all of the Fridays. The thing is, Lamont wants the hours, so last week I gave him my Friday, I don't know if he will want it again this week or not, if he does, he can have it, if not, I will work, it really doesn't matter to me either way. I don't have to be up Saturday morning, so I can lay in bed as long as I want, I don't have to be back to the radio station until Sunday.

Anyway, since I had a couple of shekels again, I did my stop by the bar after work to have my consumption of the afternoon beverage. Again I played the poker machine and again I won, $25 in, $80 out. That paid for my beer and my lunch and continued my run on winning. Mind you, I do lose money from time to time, I just tend to cut my losses most days. I will watch people in there dump literally hundreds of dollars into a machine in the chance they may win something. A couple of weeks ago, I was in there and this guy had literally been playing the machine for the better part of a week. Everytime I would stop by, he would be playing the same machine. I talked to some of the regulars and they told me he was into the machine for over a grand. Mind you, I say he had some numbers that I certainly would have cashed out on, but he was so far in the hole, that rather than cut his losses, he would play the machine down to nothing again, then dump even more money into it. Just craziness I say. I have a simple rule I live buy, "Don't bet the rent." If I have a few bucks and can afford to play, that is one thing, if I am just dumping good money after bad, that is quite another. I basically have a set amount I am wiling to lose, if I blow it, I blow it and walk away, if I win something, i don't get too greedy, I take a decent amount, maybe throw an extra 5 spot to the bartender if I am doing really well (like today) and come home.

I have been playing more with I have noticed a lot of crappy links in there that just don't pull up a video, or it takes so long (most of the servers that supply the shows are in China and regulated by the Chinese government) to get a video to play, that I just move on to something else. that being said, i did get to watch some old West Wing episodes. Damn I miss that show. I looked to see if there were any Homicide episodes and it looks like just the one that I posted from Youtube earlier, "The Subway" so I have been relegated to West Wing and family Guy episodes for the time beings. Mind you there is a lot of other stuff on there, but I am just beginning to play with the links. From what I have appraised so far, the most reliable server seems to be, whereas servers such as seem to be almost useless.

I haven't picked an Asshat yet, I am open to suggestions for the past week. It would be easy I guess to dump on Rev Wright, but those of us that follow the political campaign more than from a distance could see that Barack Obama's church would end up being an issue for him, I have been getting info on it for better than a year now, just as the Tony Rezko trial will prove to be an issue for him as it unfolds, but the Chicago newspapers have been covering that story for a year and a half now. I have a hard time treating those as new items, let alone items that have happened in the past week when they were common knowledge to me for quite some time.

Lastly, another .08 to the change meter, the new total stands at $34.46. And I have scooped up some more Pepsi and Coke points as well, I haven't purchased anything, but I rest comfortably in the knowledge that if I want to be the ultimate dork, I can get a Pepsi belt buckle for free. Woohoo indeed.

Well off to internet TV and then bed. Nite all.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

BFT 5.0 - A whore is a whore, of course of course

whore noun 1. a woman who engages in sexual intercourse for money verb 1. work as a prostitute 2. have unlawful sex with a whore 3. compromise oneself for money or other gains; "She whored herself to Hollywood"


Take a good look at the word and definition above. For the time being, we are going to stick primarily withe the noun, rather than verb .

I have mentioned Eliot Spitzer in a previous blog, he of the most recent Asshat award, and this in no way defends him, rather this goes to the object of his dollars, Ashley Alexander Dupre.

Since Spitzer was busted for soliciting prostitutes, we have been subjected to the life story of his his partner in crime, Miss Dupre. We were told how she was a young girl, that when her boyfriend heard her sing in the shower one day, he convinced her that she could be a star. We were subjected ad nauseum to the tunes that she recorded on her myspace page, a page that would record over 5 million hits after her name was divulged in the Spitzer investigation. We were told of her hardships, of her boyfriend leaving her, how she was struggling to make it in New York, talk of a book deal of her experiences, how she posed for Joe Francis's "Girls Gone Wild" videos, but wait, she was underage, so Joe was taking advantage of her. It is enough to make one grab a tissue and dab the tears from their eyes.

Unless you are me.

Sorry, she was a whore, plain and simple. She didn't get to be a $5000 a night call girl because this was her first time servicing a client. Last time I checked that was illegal, not something to be rewarded. Even if it were legal, it would just make her a legal whore, not some starving artist. Face it, plenty of people struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table, they just opt not to do it by lying on their back with their legs behind their ears. What she was doing isn't something to be proud of or emulate, it was a crime, plain and simple. It was a victimless crime to be sure but a crime nonetheless and the notion that we should all stand and applaud her, simply because she happened to be the whore that was sent to service Mr. Spitzer on the night he got busted is ludicrous.

Spare me the books and made for TV movies of the hooker with a heart of gold, Julia Roberts already played that part, and it sucked then just as it sucks now.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Asshats, filled out in quadruplicate


It is brain dead time, which is as good as any in order to blog. Actually it is the time when The Simpsons and Family Guy are on for two hours, which is fine with me. Things have been hectic around these parts both at home and at work, which helps explain why I have been rather lax in posting new content on this thing, at least as far as I am concerned.

I guess the first thing to cover would be the fantasy hockey thing, where this past week was the first week of the fantasy playoffs. The week didn't start off well, I lost two starting defenseman for the remainder of the season, Jaroslav Spacek with a bruised sternum that will only get better by resting and Matthias Ohlund, who had surgery to remove bone chips from his knee. Apparently they didn't get the memo that getting hurt this time of the year is whole out of the question. I picked up Kris Letang and Pavel Kubina to fill the void for the time being. I also was sent scrambling for a third goaltender, as Ty Conklin has been relegated to back up duty with the return of Marc Andre Fleury. I played Patrick Lalime for a while but wasn't getting much support, so I tossed him in favor of Alex Auld. My scrambling managed to pay off, I won the week 6-2-2, meaning my little old 6th seeded team knocked off the #3 seed. Up next is the #2 seed and the worst I can do know is finish 4th overall out of 12 teams, another win in either this or the next round and I get to add to the Yahoo fantasy trophy case.

I also drafted my baseball team for this year. For those of you that have been frequenters of the blog for more than a year or so, you know around this time of year I hope into a fantasy baseball league. Usually my friend George and I team up, as the league is actually two separate leagues and is broken into an American League only and National League only drafts. George has missed the last couple of years, relegating me to just one team, so I am not sure if I can rely on him for this years National League draft, but the American League draft was this Sunday, and I wanted to make sure I was part of at least half of the festivities. The rules are pretty generic, it is a rotisserie - auction draft with a $260 salary cap to fill 23 positions and then an additional 8 rounds of free agent selections after the completed auction. The final results, with the amount of my winning bid for each player;

Vladamir Guerrero - 37

BJ Upton - 30

Ichiro Suzuki - 32

Justin Mourneau - 27

Casey Kotchman - 13

Gil Meche - 9

Matt Garza - 8

Rocco Baldelli - 5

Alexis Rios - 27

Matt Stairs - 3

Vernon Wells - 19

Kevin Millwood - 3

Kenji Jojhima - 7

Dustin Pedroia - 5

Bartolo Colon - 4

Brendan Harris - 3

Evan Longoria - 11

Andy Pettite - 4

Joe Blanton - 3

Clay Buchholz - 1

Mark Buerhle - 2

Brian Bannister - 1

Greg Zauhn - 6

And for free agents

Alexi Casilla

Joel Zumaya

Carlos Quentin

Ross Gload

Dan Johnson

Manny Delcarmen

Brendan Morrow

Wilson Betemit

That kids is the 2008 AL roster.

Before I give up completely on sports however, a couple of notes. The Pens are playing some very good hockey these days, 14 gaols in two games, both without Sidney Crosby. Don't get me wrong, I would rather have Sid on the ice, just so he could get some playing time with the newest Penguin, Marian Hossa, but I am glad the team isn't in a funk simply because he hasn't been playing. Quite the opposite actually, Evgeni Malkin, who has played second fiddle to Sid since his arrival here, has really stepped up his game since Crosby's ankle injury, he is now second in the NHl in scoring, trailing only the guy who was drafted one slot ahead of him a few years ago, Alexander Ovechkin. And the Penguins this year have shown an interest in winning, the Pirates might want to take notice, as they went out and got Marian Hossa at the trading deadline, arguably the most sought after free agent ina push to win the Stanley Cup this year. The Pirates on the other hand, will never spend money and are content to be baseball's laughingstock.

Case in point, last week the Pirates had a spring training game against the Nw York Yankees. In made national sports news because of something the Yankees did, they went and signed comedian Billy Crystal to a one day minor league contract, partially to celebrate Crystal's 60th birthday and partially because he is a Yankees fan. Therefore, Billy Crystal was given the opportunity to stand in and take cuts against a Pirate pitcher to lead off a game. Don't get me wrong, it is just an exhibition game, it doesn't count in the standings or anything like that, but there are guys down there right now that are trying to make the major leagues and putting a 60 year old man on the field to take hacks at your pitching doesn't do anyone any favors, least of all the guys that are trying to make it to the major leagues. But the Yankees know what everyone else knows, the Pirates are a joke, so they can get away with this crap and sure enough, they did, as Pirate pitcher Paul Malholm sent pitches into Crystal at roughly half speed. If I am on the mound, the first pitch goes at Crystal's head. I would refuse to be a publicity stunt for the Yankees. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, sorry they are now the Rays, don't take this crap from the Yankees, they compete. The Pirates would rather just lay there and take it.

Kudos also to Pitt for winning the Big East tournament and securing a #4 seed in the NCAA tournament. I will have to fill out a bracket for this years tournament for work, I did win in each of the last two years, so I have a streak there to maintain. The office tournament usually pays out by the round, whoever leads at the end of each of the tourneys three weekends wins something. The last two years I have led after the second weekend, which is nice,. I can always use the bonus stuff. Of course it means I will have to be better that 60+ other people, but it isn't like I haven't done it before.

I realize that there has been no popular demand for it, as a matter of fact not a single mention of the missing Asshats has been made, but last I checked I owed 4, starting with last week and working my way back Last week I think I can do without too much background I hope. Can we all agree on Eliot Spitzer? I thought so.

Two weeks ago, we go local, really local and something that garnered absolutely no press coverage at all. Let me say, there used to be a bar in Oakland, my neighborhood, called The Decade. It was the proverbial small club that everybody who was anybody played. Whenever they were in town touring, it was not uncommon for them to drop by and play a set. The walls were lined with artists and the dates they played there, everyone from the Ramones to Bruce Springsteen would stop by this little hole in the wall that probably at max held 300 people. Well The Decade closed a while back, and the bar has changed hand sa few different times. It's current incarnation is called The Garage Door Saloon, which is odd because they have no garage or garage doors for that matter. That is not why they make the Asshat list however. Rather it was a special that they were running, Wednesday nights the beer special was shots of tequila. I am not a big tequila fan, though I know some people are, but what made the night truly special was that they referred to the special as Wetback Wednesday. Yes, in order to sell a couple of shots of alcohol, they opted to package it with a racially insensitive term to Mexicans. Under their logic, I guess since blacks like chicken, they could call their wing special N@@@@@ Night and all would be cool as well. An Asshat to them I say.



Good morning and welcome to Saturday. Sadly, I started this on Monday, which goes to show my epidemic lack of desire to blog these days. I wish I could put my finger on it, a single thing that removes my desire to write, but there isn't one. Maybe it is because I am not a writer, plain and simple. Or maybe it is just life in general beating me down, I am not sure.

At least Friday was a good Friday, even if not in the religious sense. I managed to make it out of the radio show and while I originally thought that the Pennsylvania primary would be good for business from a talk radio perspective, I am really tiring of the full mooners of both the Clinton and Obama camps. Therefore, the end of the week is always something to look forward to, I can get away from it for more than 24 hours. That being said, as I left the studio on Friday, I Had about 67 dollars in my pocket, an okay amount of cash to get through the weekend, especially for someone like me, who is content to spend a good chuck of his weekend in shorts on the computer or PS2 and can get by on fluid and cigarettes for the weekend. Still, I was thinking as I was about to transfer buses downtown and head for home, that I would get a couple of $2 lottery tickets to scratch off on the bus as a way of passing time. I bought three in all, and the first one I scratched off was a loser, the second was good for $2, which I figured the next time I was at the newsstand or something, I would just get another ticket with it. The third however, was a $50 winner. Now I am thinking that maybe I will have a couple of beers since I have some extra sending cash, and maybe order in dinner. I get off of the bus near Gus Miller's Newsstand, which is my favorite newsstand, simply because it is relatively close to where I live, I know some of the people that work there and they do carry a decent selection of out of town newspapers, including the Washington Post which is my favorite as you all know by now. They also sell lottery tickets, so I figured I would cash in my winners, I took $40 in cash and 6 tickets and headed to the bar for a couple of beers before calling it a day. Well the $12 in tickets won $11, not a terrible exchange on tickets but not a winner either. I stuffed them in my pocket and got to the bar, where I had two beers and with my newly earned cash, played the poker machine for a while. I spent about $30 and won $40, another $10 profit and I figured I better get out of there, after all, Day of Our Lives was coming on and we can't miss a poorly acted soap opera can we? I left the bar, walked to the corner store, where I took $5 in cash and three more lottery tickets, then proceeded to buy a gallon of iced tea, so when I ordered dinner I didn't have to get a beverage as well. I got home, clicked on the TV, flopped down in front of the computer and when looking on for what I may order for dinner. While looking around I scratched off the last of my lottery tickets and lo and behold, another $40 winner and another $2 winner as well. Meanwhile, I find a place that is offering a special on a small cheese pizza for $3.99, so I order the pizza with meatballs (a highly underrated pizza topping if ever there was one, and I get a chicken gyro platter with steak fries. All told, it came to $12, I gave the driver $16, I thought that was a decent enough tip (33%), though with gas prices higher, I find I am tipping more for deliveries to help compensate the driver as best I can, while still realizing that I am far from the wealthiest guy on the planet.

I sat down and watched a little TV last night, the highlight being Charlie Rose interviewing David McCullough, as crap TV by and large is the norm these days therefore I watch more and more stuff on the web instead. I haven't quite gotten to the point where I watch full length movies, but I did watch some episodes of The Office, Family Guy, old WWE matches and a few other things through the course of the week. I also worked on my Pogo badges again, knocking out two of the three challenges, with only Bingo left this week.

Okay, took another break from the blog, to finish the last Pogo badge and grab a couple of beers. While there, once again I dropped money in the poker machine, just $5 this time, but I turned it into $80, and I will take that exchange rate any time. That means I will order dinner in again this evening, because I am lazy and don't want to cook.

I mentioned in the first part if the blog about the basketball tournament. Well I went 23-9 in the first round of the office tournament, not great but not terrible. On the plus side, after the first round I have only lost 3 of my final 16 and none of the final 8 and beyond, so I can still rack up considerable points in the later rounds. Nothing that would break my bracket per se. Maybe it was homerism or wishful thinking on my part, but I have Pittsburgh in my final four, along with Georgetown, UCLA and North Carolina, with NC winning the whole tournament. At least I am not John McCain, who had Connecticut in the final and they got bounced in the first round. That's not good.

Okay, got the grub order in, some chicken lo mien, spare ribs and egg drop soup. I do believe the phrase that I am looking for is "yummy"

One of the reasons that I haven't been blogging as much is that I am trying to finish out a hockey season on PS2. I just finished the regular season and have the #1 seed in the playoffs, but since each round is a best of seven series, I still have a ways to go yet.

Woohoo, food is here, that is a plus. I just fired off an email to a friend of mine that we have been going back and forth about the campaign. I find I am getting drug into alot of these debate type things these days, I wonder if I am intellectually capable of juggling them all. There are days where I think I have all of the answers and there are days were I feel like an idiot. I have tended to shut up more and more n the radio show, simply because Lynn has a candidate that she is backing, me, I just have a party at this point with no particular person better than the other. I will vote against John McCain in November, I can't see Iraq as he does, as a potential 100 year presence of US troops, so whoever wins on the other side, clinton or Obama will get my vote, but their partisan backers that call the show, I'll be honest, I just want to reach out and slap. Mind you I don't find either of them saintly either, I just find them a better option than McCain.

Man, I should order from Chopsticks more often, the eggrool was big, the egg drop soup was most delicious and I just went to pull out my lo mien and they had the decency to put a layer of cardboard in the bad between the earlier goodies and my main course. It is little things like that that I find most impressive.

Okay, two more Asshats, then I am out of here. Three weeks back, the Asshat winner was, Representative John Lewis of the great state of Georgia. John Lewis is what us people in the Democratic party call a superdelegate. Allow me to explain, in order for a person to win his party's nomination to run for President of the United States, they must collect a specific number of delegates through a series of primaries and caucuses that are held in every state. Delegates are allocated either proprtionally or winner take all, depending on any state's particular rules (each state party gets to set the rules for their primary/caucus). As well as those, the Democratic party also has what are called superdelegates, these are people that are granted delegate status based on their work in the party as an elected official. Pretty much any Democrat that has served in Washington, as well as governors , mayors and what not are granted this status, and unlike primaries, they are not bound by what their state votes, rather they are to support a candidate based on their judgement of the candidates that are running. Enter John Lewis. He is one of these superdelegates, and early in the campaign, he was a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton. After Georgia had its primary, and Barack Obama won the state and the majority of the pledged delegates there< John Lewis changes his mind and becomes a Barack Obama superdelegate. better than just changing his mind, he goes on this long drawn out bit on how it was the hardest thing he had ever done. This coming from a man who was part of the civil rights movement and got beaten down for marching in Selma, and the hardest thing he ever did was change his mind. Shut up, will you just shut up. There is no one who buys that, you went the way of your state's voters for the simple reason that if you went the other way, you might not be in office next election season. At least be honest about it and drop the melodrama about how hard it was. And so, the Asshat award for Best Acting Job by a politician who was really just covering their own ass, John Lewis. By the way, no acceptance speeches, you have said more than enough already.


That brings us to the last Asshat, and my personal favorite and again it is one close to home, one Donna Belajac. Donna was the local casting director for a movie, "Shelter" that was being shot here. She set about her goal of seeking people that would live in a West Virginia "holler", in her eyes that would be "Extraordinarily tall or short. Unusual body shapes, even physical abnormalities as long as there is normal mobility. Unusual facial features, especially eyes." Wait, it gets better...."Some of these 'holler' people -- because they are insular and clannish, and they don't leave their area -- there is literally inbreeding, and the people there often have a different kind of look. That's what we're trying to get." Mind you, from a western Pennsylvania perspective, this is all quite funny, but from a West Virginia perspective, they were not amused, nor were the producers, who claim they aren't even basing the movie in West Virginia. Needless to say, Donna was fired, but as the movie theme goes, the Asshat award for Best Casting in a motion picture goes to Donna Belajac.

Now that that is done, maybe I will get out of my blogging funk and blog more regularly in the future. For now though, chicken lo mien awaits.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Stolen content of a different yet similar sort today.  For those living under a rock, today marks the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq.  I am sure the news media will be littered with pieces regarding the last 5 years, and while I could do the same, the stolen content side of me thinks that Slate did a better job of it than I could have.  While this will not be stolen content of everything they have, it will be stolen content of some of what they have.

Slate asked some columnists what they got wrong about Iraq 5 years later.  Two of the columnists they asked are two of my personal favorites in Richard Cohen and Christopher Hitchens, yet they offer two different perspectives.  Both were in favor of the war 5 years ago, now only one is (and I think you can guess which one).  In any event, for your reading pleasure (I hope this qualifies as interesting Lee, lol)..........

How Did I Get Iraq Wrong?

I thought we had a chance to stabilize an unstable region, and—I admit it—I wanted to strike back.

By Richard Cohen

Anthrax. Remember anthrax? It seems no one does anymore—at least it's never mentioned. But right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, letters laced with anthrax were received at the New York Post and Tom Brokaw's office at NBC. In the following days, more anthrax-contaminated letters were received by other news organizations—CBS News and, presumably, ABC, where traces of anthrax were found in the newsroom. Weirdly, even the Sun, a supermarket tabloid, also got a letter, and a photo editor, Bob Stevens, was fatally infected. Other letters were sent to Sen. Tom Daschle's Capitol Hill office, and in Washington, D.C., a postal worker, Thomas L. Morris Jr., died. There was ample reason to be afraid.

The attacks were not entirely unexpected. I had been told soon after Sept. 11 to secure Cipro, the antidote to anthrax. The tip had come in a roundabout way from a high government official, and I immediately acted on it. I was carrying Cipro way before most people had ever heard of it.

For this and other reasons, the anthrax letters appeared linked to the awful events of Sept. 11. It all seemed one and the same. Already, my impulse had been to strike back, an overwhelming urge that had, in fact, taken me by surprise on Sept. 11 itself when the first of the Twin Towers had collapsed. I was downtown, rushing toward the World Trade Center, when I heard the building go, a deep, guttural rumble that preceded that hideous tsunami of paper, building material, and, of course, pulverized bodies. From nowhere, I heard someone inside my head say, "We'll get you, you bastards"—and it was me. I took myself totally by surprise.

In the following days, as the horror started to be airbrushed—no more bodies plummeting to the sidewalk—the anthrax letters started to come, some to people I knew. And I thought, No, I'm not going to sit here passively and wait for it to happen. I wanted to go to "them," whoever "they" were, grab them by the neck, and get them before they could get us. One of "them" was Saddam Hussein. He had messed around with anthrax; he had twice started wars in the region (Iran and Kuwait); he had massacred the Kurds and the Shiites; used chemical weapons (no doubt about that); had had a nuclear weapons program (also no doubt about that); and was violating U.N. resolution after resolution (absolutely no doubt about that, either). Saddam was a sociopath, a uniformed button man, Luca Brasi of Arabia. He was a nasty little fascist, and he needed to be dealt with.

That, more or less, is how I made my decision to support the war in Iraq. It did not take me all that long, however, to have second thoughts—and I expressed them in my column. It was clear that Saddam was unconnected to Osama Bin Laden, that Iraqi intelligence had not met with Mohammed Atta in Prague, and that while Iraq once had a nuclear weapons program, it no longer did. That left chemical and biological weapons, and neither represented much of a threat. Gas had been around since Ypres (1915), and biological devices were impractical as weapons of mass destruction, although they remained profoundly scary. So, the only justification left was, really, what the neocons had started with: a war to reorder the Middle East. This had a certain appeal, since the region was unstable, undemocratic, repressive, and downright dangerous. Can it be a coincidence that so many of the so-called liberal hawks had spent time in the region? When it came to getting it right on Iraq, ignorance may indeed have been bliss.

One final argument appealed to me. It was quite clear that, over time, Saddam would slip the noose of U.N. sanctions, the United States would tire of its campaign to enforce the no-fly zone, the Europeans—so worldly, so repellently even-handed about Israel, so appalled by Saddam's excesses, and, finally, so full of shit—would do business with the regime, and Saddam would be free to use his oil wealth for weapons and war. If something were not done when it seemed that something could be done, then nothing would ever be done—until it was too late.

These, then, were my reasons for war—a war, I argued, that need not be imminent and need not be fought virtually alone. I was becoming a lousy, broken-winged hawk, and I certainly would have lost my other wing entirely had I known that the war would not be brief (as promised) but would grind on for more than five years, producing an appalling carnage, a collapse of U.S. prestige, and a boon to Iran. I was not only unprepared for the revelation that Iraq had no WMD whatsoever, but—even more stunning—that such seasoned hands as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Colin Powell, to name just three veterans of past presidencies, would prove so cosmically incompetent.

I was also intent on rectifying a previous mistake. I had been wrong about Bosnia, and I had, in a way that no swift-fingered blogger could ever understand, anguished over Srebrenica and a return to Europe of horrors long thought gone. I had been to Bosnia and seen in its twisting, darkly forested mountain roads a kind of Balkan Ho Chi Min Trail—impossible terrain that the locals could use to stop an army. Stay out, I cautioned.

I had learned the wrong lesson from that war, and I also learned a wrong lesson from the first Gulf War, which I had supported. Predictions of a quagmire had not materialized, and neither had predictions that the vaunted Arab street—what we now might call terrorism—would erupt and friendly regimes would topple. The lesson now was that force could actually work and save lives.

I had been to Iraq, but I didn't know what I didn't know. One of those things, certainly, is how little we understood the society—an ignorance so profound I don't think 100,000 more troops would have made a difference. We, journalists and government alike, listened to the wrong people and came away smug in ignorance—no one smugger than Rummy. Even with the evidence before his eyes, he saw a nation that was not there.

I was miserably wrong in my judgment and somewhat emotional, and whenever my resolve weakened, as it did over time, I steadied myself by downing belts of inane criticism from the likes of Michael Moore or "realists" like Brent Scowcroft, who had presided over the slaughter of the Shiites. I favored the war not for oil or empire (what silliness!) or Israel but for all the reasons that made me regret Bosnia, Rwanda, and every other time when innocents were being killed and nothing was done to stop it. I owe it to Tony Judt for giving me the French ex-Stalinist Pierre Courtade, who, wrongheaded though he might have been, neatly sums it all up for me: "You and your kind were wrong to be right; we were right to be wrong."

Richard Cohen is a columnist for the Washington Post.



How Did I Get Iraq Wrong?

I didn't.

By Christopher Hitchens

An "anniversary" of a "war" is in many ways the least useful occasion on which to take stock of something like the Anglo-American intervention in Iraq, if only because any such formal observance involves the assumption that a) this is, in fact, a war and b) it is by that definition an exception from the rest of our engagement with that country and that region. I am one of those who, for example, believes that the global conflict that began in August 1914 did not conclusively end, despite a series of "fragile truces," until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is not at all to redefine warfare and still less to contextualize it out of existence. But when I wrote the essays that go to make up A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq, I was expressing an impatience with those who thought that hostilities had not really "begun" until George W. Bush gave a certain order in the spring of 2003.

Anyone with even a glancing acquaintance with Iraq would have to know that a heavy U.S. involvement in the affairs of that country began no later than 1968, with the role played by the CIA in the coup that ultimately brought Saddam Hussein's wing of the Baath Party to power. Not much more than a decade later, we come across persuasive evidence that the United States at the very least acquiesced in the Iraqi invasion of Iran, a decision that helped inflict moral and material damage of an order to dwarf anything that has occurred in either country recently. In between, we might note minor episodes such as Henry Kissinger's faux support to Kurdish revolutionaries, encouraging them to believe in American support and then abandoning and betraying them in the most brutal and cynical fashion.

If you can bear to keep watching this flickering newsreel, it will take you all the way up to the moment when Saddam Hussein, too, switches sides and courts Washington, being most in favor in our nation's capital at the precise moment when he is engaged in a campaign of extermination in the northern provinces and retaining this same favor until the very moment when he decides to "engulf" his small Kuwaiti neighbor. In every decision taken subsequent to that, from the decision to recover Kuwait and the decision to leave Saddam in power to the decisions to impose international sanctions on Iraq and the decision to pass the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, stating that long-term coexistence with Saddam's regime was neither possible nor desirable, there was a really quite high level of public participation in our foreign policy. We were never, if we are honest with ourselves, "lied into war." We became steadily more aware that the option was continued collusion with Saddam Hussein or a decision to have done with him. The president's speech to the United Nations on Sept. 12, 2002, laying out the considered case that it was time to face the Iraqi tyrant, too, with this choice, was easily the best speech of his two-term tenure and by far the most misunderstood.

That speech is widely and wrongly believed to have focused on only two aspects of the problem, namely the refusal of Saddam's regime to come into compliance on the resolutions concerning weapons of mass destruction and the involvement of the Baathists with a whole nexus of nihilist and Islamist terror groups. Baghdad's outrageous flouting of the resolutions on compliance (if not necessarily the maintenance of blatant, as opposed to latent, WMD capacity) remains a huge and easily demonstrable breach of international law. The role of Baathist Iraq in forwarding and aiding the merchants of suicide terror actually proves to be deeper and worse, on the latest professional estimate, than most people had ever believed or than the Bush administration had ever suggested.

This is all overshadowed by the unarguable hash that was made of the intervention itself. But I would nonetheless maintain that this incompetence doesn't condemn the enterprise wholesale. A much-wanted war criminal was put on public trial. The Kurdish and Shiite majority was rescued from the ever-present threat of a renewed genocide. A huge, hideous military and party apparatus, directed at internal repression and external aggression was (perhaps overhastily) dismantled. The largest wetlands in the region, habitat of the historic Marsh Arabs, have been largely recuperated. Huge fresh oilfields have been found, including in formerly oil free Sunni provinces, and some important initial investment in them made. Elections have been held, and the outline of a federal system has been proposed as the only alternative to a) a sectarian despotism and b) a sectarian partition and fragmentation. Not unimportantly, a battlefield defeat has been inflicted on al-Qaida and its surrogates, who (not without some Baathist collaboration) had hoped to constitute the successor regime in a failed state and an imploded society. Further afield, a perfectly defensible case can be made that the Syrian Baathists would not have evacuated Lebanon, nor would the Qaddafi gang have turned over Libya's (much higher than anticipated) stock of WMD if not for the ripple effect of the removal of the region's keystone dictatorship.

None of these positive developments took place without a good deal of bungling and cruelty and unintended consequences of their own. I don't know of a satisfactory way of evaluating one against the other any more than I quite know how to balance the disgrace of Abu Ghraib, say, against the digging up of Saddam's immense network of mass graves. There is, however, one position that nobody can honestly hold but that many people try their best to hold. And that is what I call the Bishop Berkeley theory of Iraq, whereby if a country collapses and succumbs to trauma, and it's not our immediate fault or direct responsibility, then it doesn't count, and we are not involved. Nonetheless, the very thing that most repels people when they contemplate Iraq, which is the chaos and misery and fragmentation (and the deliberate intensification and augmentation of all this by the jihadists), invites the inescapable question: What would post-Saddam Iraq have looked like without a coalition presence?

The past years have seen us both shamed and threatened by the implications of the Berkeleyan attitude, from Burma to Rwanda to Darfur. Had we decided to attempt the right thing in those cases (you will notice that I say "attempt" rather than "do," which cannot be known in advance), we could as glibly have been accused of embarking on "a war of choice." But the thing to remember about Iraq is that all or most choice had already been forfeited. We were already deeply involved in the life-and-death struggle of that country, and March 2003 happens to mark the only time that we ever decided to intervene, after a protracted and open public debate, on the right side and for the right reasons. This must, and still does, count for something.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A quick two day post

I can't remember the first time I heard the alarm go off. I know I set it for something like 6:30am, but that doesn't mean I heard it. I know I smacked the snooze button enough that I am sure I pissed off the neighbors and probably put an indentation into the top of the alarm clock, but that is usually how Sundays begin around here. I start with grandiose plans, today I was going to go to the grocery store before work, so I could get some lunch munchies and pick up more bus tickets, but as the alarm rang, I mentally made plea bargains with my slumbering self. "Just 10 more minutes and I will be functional?" :Really, I am awake, I am just resting my eyes." "But it's cold outside and it is warm under the blankets". My bartering paid off as finally I gave into my laziness and just shut the alarm off.

9am I finally get up. Not that I want to mind you, but I have to leave for the bus stop. I shuffle over to the computer, just to see how bad the fantasy hockey team did yesterday and to see if anyone commented on the videos I posted the night before. A couple of comments and a couple of blog reads later, I realize better get dressed and head out to the bus stop. Since it is Sunday, I stop first at the gas station for my Sunday ritual of coffee for the bus ride, I also grab a ham and cheese sandwich, a blueberry muffin, a small bag of Doritos and a pack of Marlboro Lights. Lunch is served, even though I won't be eating it for a couple of hours yet.

I have my book secured away in my bag, it helps pass the time on the bus, meaning I take what is down time for some and make it up time for me. I am tempted to take the book out while at the bus stop, but with one hand securing the coffee and the wind making it feel much colder than it is, I opt to wait until I am secured inside a moving vehicle before breaking out any reading material. The first bus ride is rather uneventful. I hop a 500, which leaves me a couple of blocks from my second bus stop, but it was the first bus to arrive. I could have waited and taken a bus that would drop me closer to the changeover point, but really, it is only a couple of blocks. I haven't gotten that lazy just yet.

I get off of the bus at LIberty Avenue and 6th Street. Downtown is once again living up to it's quaint charm of being windier than Oakland. The wind whips up the Ohio River and cuts right through downtown Pittsburgh, and while we were spared the excessive snowfalls of our neighbors to the west, where as much as two feet fell as opposed to our two inches, the cold is more than making up for the lack of snow in the discomfort department. I think I am going to have to duck inside some place to keep warm if I am going to wait out the 40 minutes or so till my next bus arrives, but I manage to find a nice little spot just on the other side of the subway station that allows for the structure to block the wind, while the rising sun is facing directly at me. I can look across the street and see through the windows that many people are sharing my disdain for exercise, as once again most of the gym equipment is sitting their unused, only one person is to be seen this early on a Sunday morning.

After a few chapters of reading, and a couple of cigarettes, my second bus arrives. I short jaunt later I am off the second bus, and walking down South Bee Street to my place of employment. I am sort of dreading the day, not because it is work, that I don't mind, but because I have a lot to do and very little time to do it. My original plan was to go to work early, get all of my stuff done and be home in time to watch some of the hockey game at 12:30pm. Pittsburgh against Washington is the NBC Game of the Week, so it is some of the league's best players squaring off, Pittsburgh still in the hunt for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, Washington is trying to get into the playoffs. It seemed like such a good plan for a Sunday afternoon, but Friday shot it all to hell.

As I am getting ready to leave work, our new/old program director (he actually had the job before, then they hired one for us, then they gave the job to someone else, then he was again given the job) Ron asked me if I was going to be in on Sunday. Sundays are usually what I call my production day, technically I don't have to be there, but the production rooms are empty, so I allow myself the opportunity to get my work done on commercial feeds that are my responsibility, update any promos that need cut, do some work on podcasts and, time permitting, work on the following Sundays radio shows. Time permitting between when I finish and when my bus will arrive to take me back into town, I will kill time working on my launchcast station, or some equally inane project. But since I was going to be there on Sunday, I was asked if I would produce the Robert Morris basketball game for the radio station. Apparently the station that normally airs them had a scheduling conflict and therefore couldn't carry this Sundays game and since we just run taped syndicated fare on Sundays anyway, live programming seemed to be an upgrade. The cynic in me says they asked me because I am salaried and therefore cheaper, the professional in me says they asked me because I would do the best job. Whatever the reason, it ended my hockey dreams for Sunday. It also meant that I would be limited in the amount of time I could spend on production work, because once I get into a live broadcast in the studio, I am pretty much trapped there, so I had to hurry through putting in three commercial feeds, cutting a new promo for the Sinatra show, getting two podcasts up and ready to be edited (I actually got one of them edited and posted on the web page), dropping in two two minute features for Monday morning and putting in two and a half hours of programming for next Sunday, all in the span of less than four hours. While this is going on, I also had to set up a feed for our booth at the Home and Garden Show, set up one for Yahoo Sports so they could simulcast the game, make sure the control board was set up so the announcers could here everything without getting feedback on themselves and along updates via talkback, so the guys at the game would have updated scores from other games (as well as the hockey game which Pittsburgh won 4-2, Pitt Men's basketball team was playing, they won 97-78, Pitt Women's Basketball team was playing, they beat #9 Notre Dame 64-53 and Penn State Men's basketball upset #18 Indiana 68-64 in overtime and that was just the local scores) so suffice it to say, I had my hands full.



Back again two days later, it is Tuesday for those keeping score at home. Okay, technically it is early Wednesday morning, but to me a day doesn't end until I have went to bed, slept and gotten back up, so it is still my Tuesday. Things have been hectic round these parts, I got home Sunday night and started the dreary entry above, failing to do one thing I usually do, which is check my messages. No one usually calls on Sunday, and because I got stuck doing the basketball game, I didn't get in until after 7pm. I should have checked them however, as Lynn called to say she was sick and wouldn't be coming in. Since I didn't, I didn't find out until Monday morning about 2 hrs before airtime. I made a quick call to Phil, whop is way cool about filling in on short notice and he did again. Of course with short notice, you usually expect the worst out of radio, you never have time to go over show prep, little time to check the papers and wires for news stories, So imagine my suprise when Phil and I just kicked ass. We literally have the phones jammed for at least 2 of the three hours we were on the air. I say we because I tend to jump in more when I think I am needed and given the short advance notice I gave Phil, I assumed I would be. In all honesty, it might have been some of the best radio I have ever done, at least from a me perspective. Once I get the show edited for podcast, I will copy and post here so you can tell me I am full of shit, but for now, I bask in my own reflected glory.

Of course after the show I came home, stopped by the bar for a couple of quick beers then ran out and got my paycheck in the last of the mug me Mondays, since next week I get paid on Tuesday. I get home around 2:30ish and there is a message to call the station, so I do and I am told Lynn will not be in on Tuesday either. I can't use Phil again, he is having shoulder surgery, and Clair, who I spoke to Monday morning, is unavailable as well. I call David from 2 Political Junkies ( and he switches some things around on his work schedule and agrees to do the Tuesday show. Mind you, I have no budget to work with, so these people that fill in are volunteering their time. Anyway, I get to work Tuesday morning and around 6:30am the phone rings. I answer it and it is Lynn saying she is coming in. I told her not to bother, it was already covered, and I didn't want David to go through the hassle for changing his schedule for no reason at all, nor could I have waited until Tuesday morning and booked him if Lynn was unavailable. Ron, our program director, seemed to back my decision, though I didn't tell him until afterward, but it seemed like the right call to make and all went okay. Not as good as Monday mind you, but good nonetheless.

You may wonder what I am doing up in the middle of the night when I should be slumbering for tomorrow's show. I am just doing some laundry so I have work clothes. You can only wear clothes so many times before laundry becomes a necessity, I have reached that point. Hopefully tI can blog until my clothes are done, then rest my head for an hour or so, then get back up and do it again, as Wednesday is the second of three doubles I have this week. The part time gig is giving me every other Friday, which I should complain too much about, it is an extra 50-60 dollars in my pocket every two weeks, but in all honesty, if someone else wanted the shift, they could have it.

I guess I could do a quick fantasy update and say that the last week of the hockey regular season I went 4-4-2, so I remained in the 6th and final playoff spot, though I had actually clinched the week before, I still could have moved up, just not down. My final regular season record was 105-92-33 for those that actually care about such things.

Change meter gets another 8 cents, new total is $34.38. I did find $20, but that was in the pocket of some pants I threw in the laundry, so that doesn't count, damn me and my rules anyway.

Well, I would stick around but the laundry is just about done and my eyes are having a hard time staying open so I might rest them for an hour or so. Nite all.

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