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Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Fast forward 12 years

Been a while since I blogged here. They actually disabled my account. Can you imagine? Only twelve years.... Perhaps I didn't blog much because I think that during the Obama years we had it good: understanding, intelligent president, lost of government transparency, and progress on things I care about like the environment, discrimination, and healthcare. Sure, there's always room for improvement, but at least it was solid leadership. I have very little positive to say about the current administration. Wait, there is one thing: Vice President Pence has selected a MAS (Miniature Australian Shepherd) as his dog of choice. There is hope. Henry.

Posted at 11:07 am by jhlyons3
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Monday, February 21, 2005
True Colors

Oh the irony.  The Little Emperor has had his share of troubles in the past week.  Some of us on the sidelines can't help but grin...  "W" had some of his conversations taped by an early mentor without his knowledge, and now they are causing a stir.  Oh the irony, that the state where the taping took place was Texas, because Texas allows a recording of a telephone conversation without the other party's knowledge.  Might have been helpful for W to modernize the state's antique privacy laws while he was Governor.  Recently we find the government creeping slowly into every aspect of our previously private lives under the heroically misnamed PATRIOT ACT.  I'm sure this was exactly the kind of doublespeak Orwell envisioned when he wrote 1984.  Well, karma found you Mr. President, and the irony of it all makes some of us smile.

Recently we had another dose of what I've dubbed "Bushy Logic".  During the State of the Union speech, Bush somehow managed to tie two concepts together, as if one would magically solve the other.  He proposed individual investment accounts, a plan that will drain away money from Social Security, to combat the problem of ever-decreasing income to the Social Security coffers.  Huh?  I spent at least a week wondering whether he was stupid or whether he thought we were all stupid.  Finally, 10 days later on NPR, I finally heard someone step up to the plate and confront the problem and say that the President is trying to pull the wool over our eyes on this one.  When is the public going to finally wake up and realize that the Little Emperor has no clothes?

Of course some of the tapes disclose particularly personal ramblings about some very embarrassing issues, like the fact that he doesn't want to admit that he "tried" (more likely "frequently used") marijuana because he was worried about whether his admission would influence American youth.  Are you kidding?  The rest of his life is hardly admirable.  He is a religious zealot and bigot.  He is a liar.  He invaded a country and killed hundreds of thousands of people without making any connection to the terrorism he claims to retaliate.  More "Bushy Logic"?  Think about this one: he didn't want to attack "the gays" in his campaign because he felt it would be hypocritical for him to attack one "sin" over another (i.e. his cocaine use).  This clouded thinking is indicative of his inability to think beyond the Baptist tether.  I worry a lot about the future of a nation guided by such rigid prejudice.

Currently Bush is in Europe, making more speeches about how much he values their support.  It feels like the abusive husband bringing flowers home to the wife he's just battered.  How much shame can one nation take?

Henry.

Posted at 06:23 pm by jhlyons3
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Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Red Sox and Election Tuesday

The media is finally giving more attention to the electoral college.  I wonder if they shy away from it because most people don't really understand it.  Certainly it is more complicated to explain than a soundbite would permit, but isn't that part of the media's purpose?  Aren't they in the best position to educate?  Well, here is one story that I recommend by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post: Electoral College Calculus.  It is a shining example of what we need in the media: a catchy title, some solid information, and a list of potential electoral college outcomes that should wake us all up to what we could expect this upcoming Tueday.  Why we haven't had the good sense to start educating the public earlier on this issue is quite beyond me.  I watched the third consecutive victory for the Red Sox last night with a friend who was trying to explain some of the many statistics kept on pitchers and hitters.  I find it heartening that we can keep these statistics and that fans are comfortable with that level of detail, because it gives me hope that we all can come to a similar level of understanding regarding the elections.  Take a look at the article I've mentioned.  Among other things, it cites that there are 33 different scenarios where there could be a tie and the House of Representatives would simply give Bush the presidency.  It would, however, probably mean that Dick Cheney would need to find another job...  Can you imagine Kerry as VP?

Of course, we'll get the news about the Red Sox before the news on who wins the Presidency, and someone has already found a way to link the two: Tipping the Election Scales.

Go Sox...

Henry.

Posted at 09:18 am by jhlyons3
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Thursday, October 14, 2004
THE REAL PICTURE

If you look at http://www.electoral-vote.com/ you'll see what the real current state of the election is.  As of today, 228 e-votes for Kerry, 284 for Bush.  Not as close as what the mainstream media wants you to believe.  When the media declared a "dead heat" today, they are misleading the public.  I believe that in order for Kerry to win, he MUST take Florida.  Even then, it might be close.  But he must change the focus of his message to appeal to senior citizens and bring in as many heavy hitters as he can to stump for him.  To his credit, Kerry chose to show up for the AARP convention today, whereas his opponent just sent his wife.  But we are in crunch time, and one slip would cost either party the election.  Factcheck.com is doing a fair job of debunking the spin, but I doubt Kerry's campaign has the political agility to change their ads and their message quickly enough to counter an all-out negative campaign.  For example: today I noticed that the Democrats are basing ads on the "Canadian drug" issue.  This one could blow up in their face--I understand that it's really a red herring.  If we open the borders to allow Canadian drug sales, we would exhaust their supplies quickly and the current "bootleg discount" would disappear faster than you can say Levitra.  And why doesn't Bush just admit Kerry has a better health care plan?  If he does then a chunk of Kerry's "edge" disappears.

Pennsylvania and Hawaii have denied Nader the ability to even be on the ballot today.  The campaign complained vehemently (and rightly so) that he was not allowed in any of the three debates.  Now honestly, how many ways do we need to hear the same old tired campaign lines before we think that Ralph could make discussion a little more interesting?  One recent e-mail from the Nader campaign complained "after numerous calls to the Commission on Presidential Debates to at least request tickets, if not a place on stage, there has not even been the courtesy of a reply."  Sounds to me like our limited "two-party system" is still controlling US politics and is the tail wagging the dog.  It has created the false assumption that people fall into one of two camps, and that they are pary loyal on all issues. 

Psychologists agree that children see the world in black and white polemics until about age 10 when they begin seeing the shades of gray that are the hallmarks of more complex thinking.  We are a nation reverting to its infancy due to intellectual laziness, and our leader is doing nothing to improve that situation.  His childish sniggering at John Kerry during the debates cost him dearly in the polls, and for that I'm somewhat grateful, but by bringing the debate down to Junior High standards we lessen our country.  Although I don't blame Bush for refusing to bite at the "rotten apple" question (please name three mistakes you have made) in the second debate, I do think he misunderstands the humility that is necessary for people to respect his leadership.  I have far more respect for Kerry who appear to listen and learn (Republicans have branded this "flip-flopping") than for Bush who covers his ears and refuses to hear arguments about how he might need to change his mind on something.  I imagine he has a very high learning curve due to his own stubbornness.

My best advice to Kerry: focus on Florida you can still win there, but you have to continue to sharpen your points.  Recent polls put Nader at 0% in Florida.  I think non-Republican America undertands that this election is bout ousting Bush and many Republicans wonder whether they can stand another four years of the same.  You accuse Bush of taking his eye off the ball in the search for Bin Laden.  Don't make the same mistake in this election by missing the importance of Florida.

Henry.

Posted at 05:17 pm by jhlyons3
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Tuesday, August 31, 2004
BUSH WINS

And if that title doesn't scare the pants off you, what do you think about this web site: http://www.electoral-vote.com/.  It predicts that if the election were held today, Bush would win, handily, because of the electoral college.  Is the mainstream media stupid?  Why aren't we focusing on the electoral net gains and losses this year rather than overall approval and majority vote?  Please look at this electoral vote web site and get the real facts on where this election is headed.  They also have a slide slide show to show you how this all happened, and the fact that Kerry was in the lead until last week.  While many blame it on the convention, I personally blame it on Southern bigotry and the Midwestern states.

Henry.

Posted at 06:50 am by jhlyons3
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Sunday, August 22, 2004
The Bully is Back in Town

For anyone who doubted me when I originally named him, George Bush the bully is back in the saddle again.  This time he's bullying his Democrat opponent, John Kerry.  The handwriting is on the wall and his current plan to attack Kerry's military record, which always had all the earmarks of a poorly-thought-out classroom spitball, will almost certainly backfire.  It's dangerous to cross-examine a witness when you don't have all the facts.  Certainly the fact that some of Kerry's Vietnam buddies (e.g. William Rood) have come forward to back him has changed the playing field for the capital "R" Republicans, but even more than that, we are seeing the first hints of conservatives removing themselves from the scene as Kerry himself is becoming more and more the hero and Bush runs the risk of turning him into a martyr.  Someone who was a careful strategist would see that kicking someone when they are down is a bad idea, no matter how great your anger. But Bush doesn't see it that way.  In fact, I think he feels poised to move in for the kill politically.  With the election still three months away, we are dangerously close to oversaturation on the Kerry war record issue.  The best course of action would be an apology.   Doesn't Bush understand that by attacking Kerry for being a soldier and questioning his combat wounds, that he is making all soldiers uneasy with the idea that they too might come under similar scrutiny?  Are we comfortable with a leader who breeds this kind of dissention?

I think we should look at the definition of a bully for a clearer understanding of Bush's motivations here.  Bully: A person who is habitually cruel to smaller or weaker people.  I don't believe that John Kerry is smaller or weaker, but that Bush has found a wound and will keep prodding it, like the eagle drawn to Prometheus' liver.  Recent conservative spin doctors thrown to the fire have started slinging mud at the idea of getting a medal for being injured by one's own shrapnel for a grenade thrown during combat but which landed too close.  In my book that should count for whatever kind of purple medal you'd like, and I don't think I'm alone on this.  We're arguing over the wrong issues.  Republican's have started with character attacks because they believe the moral majority wants that kind of air time.  The bully pulpit has lots of loyal followers.  But only one man has had the courage to say "enough is enough" and that is John Kerry.  Score one for John.

Posted at 10:49 am by jhlyons3
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Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Are we accountable?

Does anyone remember this?

Posted on Sat, Oct. 11, 2003

WAR AGAINST TERRORISM

Red Cross: Inmates denied rights

The Red Cross continues its criticism of the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay, saying suspected terrorists lack human rights and their mental health is at risk....

You know, I think most Americans silently chuckled about the idea that the US should be accountable to the Red Cross regarding the detention of people who are alleged terrorists.  We have prided ourselves on some kind of moral/ethical invulnerability and been indignant with other countries who dare to question our moral imperatives.  But recent events concerning prisoner abuse show our system is far from perfect.  Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld even had the audacity yesterday to counter these new charges with the fact that terrorists typically use these kinds of complaints about living conditions and abuse as tactics.  Well Don, the pictures aren't lying, and those prisoners in Iraq have something to complain about.  The whole world does.  Our accountability has become little more than lipservice.

What has become clear in recent weeks, in light of the hearings and the books published on WMD scare tactics, is that we really wanted to remove Sadam because of his money.  We knew he was covertly funding the terrorists, and for that reason we needed him gone.  The fact that he openly snubbed the United States was "just provocation" in many people's eyes.  So why did the President choose to lie about the extent to which WMD intelligence existed?  As empowered US citizens, we all feel that the CIA knows much more than we do and that the President's "hint" of a threat is our little secret code for "oh my God, he's got nuclear weapons doesn't he!"  Using this kind of scare tactic to achieve consent for military action cheapens our already ailing national credibility. Mr. President, don't you think we could have invaded Iraq merely to depose Sadam and destroy his wealth without the pretense of WMDs?  I continue to oppose our invasion of Iraq, but now that we're there, the decisions to leave appears to be based on re-election.  Doing the right thing has never been so complicated.

I truly wish this was not an election year.  Recently it seems that every year is an election year in some sense.  The media has managed to turn every Presidential move into an election-making or breaking decision.  Isn't that really overkill?   Public sentiment this year remains clouded on many fronts because the electorate wants to be party-loyal, patriotic, humane, vengeful and outraged all at once.  Can't happen.  Instead, we get hung up on whether John Kerry is a patriot because he openly opposed the Vietnam war, and George decides this is a perfect time to embark on a campaign bus caravan.  (Does anyone really think George will be more personable in an RV?)

Does anyone else think we need to be accountable?  And if not to the Red Cross or the United Nations, then to whom?

Posted at 07:35 am by jhlyons3
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Monday, April 19, 2004
Memory Lane

I recently saw Kill Bill Vols 1 and 2 and got swept up in the cultural phenom that Q and U (Quentin and Uma) delivered.  I really enjoyed it, especially the music, and will probably get the second soundtrack eventually.  The first half was better than the second and I’m curious to see a director’s cut of the film in its entirety.

 

I saw an interview with QT (Quentin Tarantino) where he waxed poetically about how the hack and slash b-films that he saw growing up had inspired him to make a modern version incorporating his favorite action elements.  It got me thinking about all the series and movies I miss including some that haven’t yet been ported over to DVD format, and I thought I’d list a few.  Let me know if these are some of your favorites too:

 

The Prisoner – Patrick McGoohan was brilliant in this British intellectual intrigue.

Zoom – the original PBS 70s show.

The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin – who can forget EuroGrot?  Wonderful British comedy.

The Magician – Bill Bixby at his finest in this one-season 70s tv series.

Ultraman – Japanese superhero.

The Point – Animated movie, great music.

Brideshead Revisited – British series set mostly at Castle Howard with some gay introspective elements

 

Again, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but a list of wonderful stories that appear somewhat forgotten now.

 

TTFN – Henry.

Posted at 08:47 pm by jhlyons3
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Sunday, March 28, 2004
Remembering Ma Bell

I remember when you could dial zero, yes, just zero and get someone on the phone who might help you, yes, really help you.  Recently I tried to figure out whether a certain call was a toll call.  I dialed zero.  Although my phone service is Verizon, the person who answered the phone wanted to know who my phone service was with.  I'm pretty sure they know this, but I played along anyway.  "I'm with verizon..."
"Well then *Sir* (emphasis added to denote slight irritation with having to call customers Sir), you will need to call the Verizon Business office."
"Ok."
"Would you like me to connect you?"
"Yes, please."
A moment later someone came back on the line.
"Verizon Directory Assistance may I help you?"
"I wish."
"Excuse me?"
"I thought I was being transfered to the business office."
"Business or residential?"  I felt like I was playing a word game and I didn't know the secret password.
"I just want to know whether the call I'm about to place is outside my calling area."
"You have to talk to the business office *Sir*, would you like me to connect you?"
"Ok."
I thought about it, decided I didn't have time for all this and hung up.  I dialed the number on my cell phone, knowing that the number was within my calling area.  With this kind of service, land line based phones will go the way of the dinosaur.  And they wonder why.... 

Why did they ever dismember mama?  Sure, it was a monopoly, but at least is was a well-run monopoly...

Henry.

Posted at 09:33 am by jhlyons3
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Thursday, March 25, 2004
Of cell phones and politics

My good friend Bob recently sent me a link to a great place...the political compass.  If you fill out six pages of questionaire you get a short report telling you whether you fall left or right, authoritarian or libertarian on a political graph, and then get a suggested reading list.  Try it.

Did you know that you can't go to the Ralph Nader web site and get a bumper sticker?  I still like Ralph, who comes out in about the same place as I do on the politial compass graph (which is encouraging to me).  I also understand something about myself which I didn't before, having looked at the graph.  Politicians in the same quadrant as I include Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, and Nelson Mandela: people who are extremely stubborn about expressing their political beliefs involving the rights of individuals.   Death, hunger strikes, imprisonment, and satyagraha all make statements about the strength of their resolve.  So I now understand idealogically why I want to vote for Nader, despite all the people who snicker like I said I wanted to by a Yugo and say "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush."  I feel strongly that the power of the individual is important, and that the ends do not justify the means.

As the title implies, I have had my share of cell phone woes this past week.  Gratefully, nothing that disrupts service, makes too many enemies, or cost any money.  So what, you might ask, could be so important?  Policy.  I obtained a cell phone as part of a trade I made about 4 months ago.  Over the weekend, I tried to get the account changed over to my name.  They said no way, you have to come in in person, and bring the person who sold you the phone, quoting some mystical federal regulation.  I've been looking for the regulation on this and imagine it does exist, but if anyone knows where, please let me know.  In any event, I got my friend and went over to US Cellular here in Auburn, Maine a short while later.  They informed me (after the usual 20 minute wait) that they were phasing this phone out and that I had to pay $125 to get a track phone plan (including a new phone).  They told me it was 3 years old and that in their estimation it was obsolete.  What surprised me about this was the fact that this phone (according to the sales person who will remain nameless because she seems like a really nice person just enforcing a greedy policy) could only be used with the US Cellular network, could not be "unlocked", released, or otherwise used for anything other than a funny-looking paperweight--unless I was the orignal subscriber.  Wait, did I hear you correctly?  You mean you do still support this phone but you just won't for me?  Yep, that's right, no new accounts.  But if you are "grandfathered" in an old account, then you can continue to use the phone.  Seems to me like they are drawing out the inevitable and alienating customers (like me) in the meantime.  I plan to move everything over to T-Mobile as soon as possible.  So how did this all come out?  I said "well, I guess this is worthless" and handed her the phone.  "No, we can't keep those here, you have to take it with you."  What?  You mean you tell me my phone is trash but then don't even have the decency to throw it away?  My friend, who was now just as infuriated as I about the lack of respect evidenced by this company, lobbed the phone into a nearby trashcan and walked out.  I followed.  There was nothing more to do or say.

Henry.

Posted at 07:29 am by jhlyons3
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