Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My foot saga

I sent this rather long, chatty email to my family recently to fill them in on all the sordid details of the saga of my feet. I decided that I would post it on my blog, masking the references to the various doctors, to protect me from any potential lawsuits. One of them deserves to be sued, and you'll figure that out if you don't fall asleep first. Some of you, if you don't get a sore back reading it, might use it as a cautionary tale if you ever find yourself in my position.

OH MY ACHING FEET!

Getting old is a bitch, as anyone who gets old can tell you. Betty Davis once said, in her distinctive voice, "Getting old is NOT for sissies!" She didn't mean gay guys.

To date, I have had two surgeries on my feet: the first, in January of 2006, by one (belatedly-discovered-to-be-a-quack) Dr. G--- L---- (heretofore known as POD 1 - for Podiatrist 1), who performed a bilateral (both feet - but I don't need to tell you educated folk that) "de-compression".

I'd been diagnosed with a "Morton's Neuroma" in both feet, what some people might call a pinched nerve, or others might call a tumor, or what still others might call getting old. For me, that meant getting horribly sharp shooting pains in the balls of my feet that could last anywhere from one second to ten seconds. It was those ten-second long, I-think-I-have-to-commit-suicide pains that drove me to see a doctor in the first place.

POD 1 said that I had very flat feet, which can certainly lead to problems later on with the feet. Hey, I didn't have to sweat the draft for Vietnam after all! I would have been rejected because of my flat feet!

After some conservative therapy, which consisted of fitting orthotics (which helped a LOT), to periodic injections of steroids and/or powerful anti-inflammatories, with no real reduction in my shooting pains, I decided it was time to cut.

The frequency of the shooting pains was actually increasing. They would make me literally cry out in pain, and there was nothing I could do during an attack to make it stop. Some people thought I had Tourette's.

I trusted POD 1 at the time. After all, he's got this gorgeous office in the Medical Center in Houston, and there were all these awards hanging on the walls for this, that, and the other, and he was a teacher at Baylor College of Medicine. And besides that, he was the brother of my long-time dentist K------ L---- (Dentist 1), who referred me to him in the first place.

Aside: After I left Dentist 1, I came to learn that he was in fact as big a fakir as POD 1. So, apparently, bad medicine runs in the family. How's that, you might ask? Well, every time I went to Dentist 1, I had a cavity. And over the years that I was seeing Dentist 1, he put about six crowns in my mouth. After we moved downtown and it was no longer convenient to visit Dentist 1, I switched to Dentist 2 in the underground tunnels, where I work downtown. Talk about convenient.

In the three years that I have now been seeing Dentist 2, I have had not ONE single cavity, nor has he seen any need to put in any crowns - and I do have some crownable teeth left. So, considering that I made no great changes to my diet or brushing my teeth after changing dentists, or flossing - which I rarely do - I determined that Dentist 1 was making a lot of shit up. Thanks, pal. How did your kids enjoy college?

Back to the feet...POD 1 suggested a relatively new method of dealing with neuromas: "decompressing" them instead of excising them. Decompression consists of cutting the ligaments surrounding the inflamed nerves, to "decompress" the nerves, give them some room to breathe, relax (and to GROW!) and reduce friction. POD 1 said he had around a 95% improvement rate, and that sounded good to me. Let's go.

So, we did it. BTW, my decompression consisted of cutting from the front of the foot, between the second and third toes, and between the third and fourth toes (counting outward from the big toe), and snipping the metatarsal ligaments on either side of the neuroma. Snip, snip. Hey, look! No visible scar! Recuperation was a little tough, though, but I figured it was worth it. I lost some mobility in my toes since the ligaments were cut, but the pain did diminish.

For about six months.

By August of 2006, I was starting to have those shooting pains again. Just. Fucking. Great. On top of that, the medical bills were flowing in, and as it turns out, POD 1 charged my insurance company an astounding $44,000 for my four-hour January 2006 outpatient procedure. As it turned out, we did the procedure in one of those now-very-popular private surgical hospitals. POD 1 just happened to be one of the five doctors that went in together to build this particular private surgical hospital, I soon discovered. Sounded to me like a conflict-of-interest, or more popularly described as an insurance scam. I consulted with an attorney about the situation and the outrageous charges, and he said I really had no case, especially since I was mobile and not debilitated. And not dead. Ok, so POD 1 will get away with it.

After the pains came back and I began studying my situation even more, I gravitated to a second Podiatrist, Dr. J------- H---- (POD 2), who was referred to me by the wife of my wife's boss. It just so happened that SHE had just had surgery on HER Morton's Neuroma. Geez! It's a freakin' epidemic! She was reporting good results with POD 2.

So, I went to see POD 2 and he tells me that decompression is an "unreliable technique," and HIS method of treating neuromas, after exhaustive conservative therapies, of course, was actual removal of the offending nerves. By now, this sounded better to me. Yeah, pluck those bad boys out of there.

So, after several months of more shots, X-Rays, and an MRI, we decided upon surgery. In April of 2007, he surgically removed both neuromas, this time going in from the top of the foot. It did leave rather nasty scars, but the recovery was easier than the last time, and having a nasty scar is better than having those mind-ripping pains.

This procedure seemed to top out at around $15,000, a far cry from POD 1's rape of my insurance company. (Hey, for all I know, doctors are in collusion with some insurance companies. Wouldn't surprise me. After all, this is America.)

Unfortunately, after the April excision, my feet began to exhibit DIFFERENT types of pain. Now, I'd get shooting pains in the SIDES of my big toes, where I'd never had pain before, and I'd get bizarre rippling pains along the bottom of my feet, also new.

POD 2 said these new pains were not unexpected, because the now-decapitated nerves are reaching out for their severed heads, and, not finding them, are screeching and groping and, well, I think you get the picture. I just wish POD 2 had told me all that BEFORE the surgery. I WAS somewhat freaking out about it. And now my right knee is popping with every step down the stairs, caused by .... what? old age? or my screwed-up feet changing my gait?

Ok. Great. Over time, POD 2 said, these pains will diminish. By August, I was having such frequent odd pains that I thought it might be a good idea to see yet another Podiatrist (I'm a slow learner) and get another opinion on my situation.

POD 2 had cut me off of pain meds (he's of the "old school" where you only give out the absolute minimum). And it was still painful to walk, or stand, much. His post-op treatment, to get the nerves to calm down, consisted of hooking me up to a machine and running electric shocks into five parts of my leg and feet. Instead of calming the nerves, it seemed to wake them up, and they were howling more than ever. Ok, that's expected too, he tells me after the pains were getting worse. First they wake up, and then they calm down. Well, they were not calming down, so I decided to seek the opinion of a third doctor.

Now we're almost up to the present day. Wifey has been seeing a Pain Management doc, K---- D--------, (Pain 1), who has been giving her shots in the neck to relieve wifey's pain. Pain 1 has helped her a LOT. Naturally, during the course of wifey's seeing Pain 1, they chatted about my foot condition, and Pain 1 suggested that I go and see her next-door pal, Dr. D---- J-----, (POD 3) a Podiatrist specializing in Peripheral Neuropathy. That is, he deals with nerve problems in the feet. Since Pain 1 had helped wifey so much (and that whole story is a different saga), I figured, well, if she does so well with wifey, perhaps her office-mate POD 3 would be good too for me.

So, I finally got around to setting an appointment with POD 3. Within the first few moments of meeting him, I was just a little uneasy. Ever see the TV preacher Joel Osteen? The guy that inherited "The Oasis of Love" Lakewood Church when his dad died? He's so popular that they bought the Summit, a 15,000-seat concert hall on Highway 59 in Greenway Plaza, to become his new church. The Summit is where the Houston Rockets NBA team used to play basketball before they moved to the Toyota Center downtown. The Summit was also the home of hundreds of rock concerts over the years. I've lost more than a few hearing cells in that place. Good times. Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus used to perform there. Now, it's a different type of circus.

ANYWAY...Joel Osteen has this permanent-type of smile on his face. This huge, toothy, shit-eating grin. Maybe because of all the money flowing in? Anyway, POD 3 has that same, permanent smile. No matter what I told the guy about my saga and my pain, he would just smile and smile and smile. When he spoke, he had that smiling sound in his voice. This guy is seriously happy. Bet you anything he goes to Lakewood Church. Haven't asked him that yet.

The constant smiling unnerved me a little, and I'm already working on my last nerve, so to speak. He suggested that we do a test that would tell me how damaged my nerves were. Sounds like a good idea. No MRI's? Not yet. Maybe later. X-Rays? Nuh-uh.

So I drove up to the Woodlands for this special test. I expected some high-tech gizmo that would measure my nerves with some accuracy, but what I got was quite different. The "nurse" gave me a little button that I was supposed to push when I felt her poke me with this little two-pronged electrode. When I felt the pressure and pressed the button, the computer would register my button and how much pressure the nurse was applying to my feet. We did this several times. She touched me with her electrode, I pressed the button when I felt it. Sometimes she had to push fairly hard for me to feel it, because I have a lot of numbness in my feet.

For the first series of tests, she used only one prong. After poking me with one prong and having me press the button several times, she then switched to the other, high-tech, two-prong electrode. Now I am only supposed to press the button when I felt BOTH prongs, not just one prong. I simply could not tell the difference between one prong and two prongs. So, it was a lot of, "Well, I guess I feel it." (Press the button). "Uh, I think I feel two." (Press the button).

This went on for about half an hour. To me, it was totally absurd. Absolutely subjective. I don't see any value to this test at all. It's totally dependent upon my pressing that stupid button! How about a stimulus/response type of test that measures responses electronically?! No, not this one. So, we get the results back and I go to see POD 3 again. SURPRISE! Not. The results indicate that I have SEVERE Tarsal Tunnel syndrome (in the feet and legs), which is the bastard relative of Carpal Tunnel syndrome (in the hands and wrists). Severe Tarsal Tunnel, you say? Wow. I'd never even heard of it, despite the fact that more than a couple of my female co-workers had had Carpal Tunnel surgery performed on them.

Sure enough, there it is in the Wiki. Yeah, yeah, we all know that Wikipedia is not reliable. But it's still a good info source.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarsal_tunnel

POD 3's suggestion to deal with Tarsal Tunnel is to make three incisions: one, close to where POD 2 cut me, close to the toes, but on the top of the foot; two, at the ankle where the tendons enter the foot; and three, just below the knee, where the allegedly tortured and squeezed tendons begin their journey down my leg. Three cuts? Based on that stupid subjective test on my nerve response? Now, just hold on a sec.

Not only three cuts, but he's pressuring me to set a date for the surgery. "How about between Thanksgiving and Christmas? You've met your deductible for the year. How about before Thanksgiving? If I were you, I'd want to get this done and out of the way," he says. Uh-huh. How many kids do you have in college? Two.

And all the while he's saying this, he's just smiling like he's the happiest doctor on earth. POD 3 also tells me that I have another neuroma. What?! Another neuroma!? I had it removed! How many neuromas can you have, per foot? POD 3 says FIVE. One for each toe! And he says I have another one, next to the one that was removed. Based on what? Squeezing my toes really hard and asking, "Does that hurt?" Well, yeah, asshole, you're squeezing my toes really HARD!

More surgery? I just HAD surgery in April! Surely I should take more time to heal before I undertake more surgery, right? Not necessarily, POD 3 says.

During this time, I had a regular check-up with my GP, Dr. G--- B------ (myGP). (Can you keep all these docs straight?) Wifey and I both see myGP as our General Practitioner and we both like him and trust him. After talking about my ongoing foot saga again, myGP asks if I'd ever gone to see Dr. W------ G-------- (myMD), an MD, as myGP had suggested a few months ago. Actually, no, I haven't. I've been meaning to, but I've also been getting tired of doctor after doctor after doctor.

But now, with POD 3 pushing me for a third surgery, I decided I would make that appointment with myMD. I met with him just last week. As usual, I recanted the whole sordid tale of my feet of woe. He listened politely but made a few interesting gestures during my tale. One was to roll his eyes (in disgust) when I told him I'd seen and been operated on by POD 1. He'd never heard of POD 2 or 3, but agreed that excision was the better method of dealing with Morton's Neuroma.

MyMD sent me for some immediate X-Rays of both feet, just to have a look at the structure of my feet. That seemed like a sensible start to me. There were a few takeaways from my meeting with myMD.

One, he said that, "Tell your friends and family that all Podiatrists are quacks." Hmmm. Ok. Could be just a little professional rivalry.

Two, "You don't have Tarsal Tunnel." (WHAT?!)

Three, "Your feet have a just-slightly flatter than normal arch. Not very 'flat' at all." It's right there on the X-Rays. (WHAT THE FUCK?!?!)

So! After two years of thinking that I had some of the flattest feet this side of the Great Plains, now my feet have an almost normal arch?! Somehow, I do not think that this is the result of the Yoga that I have been practicing, which has included several exercises for restoring an arch to the feet. No, rebuilding an arch happens very gradually, and I haven't been that consistent with the exercises.

No Tarsal Tunnel? He said he could tell that just from examining my feet and legs and walking me walk around. He also said I'd had too much surgery. Probably the most wonderfullest thing he said was that he expected that my pains would in fact subside and I should heal without the need for any more surgery.

No more surgery? But POD 3 wants to cut me up good. POD 3, a Podiatrist, wants to cut just below the knee. When I told myMD about POD 3's technique, myMD says, "If that doctor came to St. Lukes with that surgical plan, he would not be allowed to perform the operation."

Yes, as someone else had suggested to me, a Podiatrist is supposed to work BELOW the ankle. Any work above the ankle, by a Podiatrist, would be "ILLEGAL," as myGP characterized it. But, if people don't know any better, and they are at their wits end and want to stop the pain, they will agree to just about anything and not ask enough questions.

MyMD then said that "hundreds of people will undergo POD 3's procedure, and within six months they'll be seeking someone else to fix their problem." Indeed, a search on the Internets revealed to me that only about 50% of people who undergo this treatment for Tarsal Tunnel report any improvement, and 15% report worse pain. These figures are not, how to say, in a good range.

So.....I see POD 3 again this coming Wednesday for the fifth of a seven-series injection of a powerful anti-inflammatory. This is part of the "conservative" treatment. I am also going to pick up from POD 3 the new orthotic that he made for me. Amazingly, everyone agrees - Podiatrists, MD's, GP's, friends, the homeless - that orthotics can be very helpful. So I am going to get the orthotic, take the next series of shots, then probably quietly slink away from POD 3.

Oh, another funny thing myMD said ... POD 3 has been giving me these weekly shots, right? They are two shots, actually. First, he sprays my foot with this ethyl chloride stuff that quick-freezes your skin. Then he injects a local anesthetic, which he says prepares the area for the second injection of the anti-inflammatory. I had noticed that the shots make my foot feel better almost immediately, but that the beneficial effects would seem to wear off within 12 to 24 hours and I'd be right back where I was. Well, haha! MyMD says that the only real benefit that I am likely to get is from the local anesthetic, which will wear off within 12 to 24 hours! Oh, ha ha!

Oh, yeah, still one more funny thing that myMD said. He said that you can have up to FOUR neuromas per foot, one for each space between the toes. Not FIVE as POD 3 said. Funny that, huh?

So, that just about brings everyone up to today. Hopefully, by this point of this email, your neck or back is not killing you, and you're still awake. I can be rather long-winded sometimes.

One last thing. I forgot to include some of the good news! MyMD gave me some samples of a new drug that he is getting good results with - LYRICA (aka pregabalin)

Sounds pleasant, doesn't it? The Lyrica part. This is one o' them new-fangled anticonvulsant drugs used for neuropathic pain, don'cha know. All hail Pfizer!!

I've used it for about six days now and my feet actually do feel better. I haven't had ANY shooting pains in my feet since I started taking it.

War on drugs!! War on drugs!! Better living thru chemistry. Just another contradiction in this crazy, mixed-up world.

Browse thru the contraindications for this one:

Adverse effects

Adverse drug reactions associated with the use of pregabalin include:

Very common (>10% of patients): dizziness, drowsiness

Common (1–10% of patients): visual disturbance (including blurred vision, diplopia), ataxia, dysarthria, tremor, lethargy, memory impairment, euphoria, weight gain, constipation, dry mouth, peripheral edema, loss or decrease of libido, erectile dysfunction

Infrequent (0.1–1% of patients): depression, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, myoclonus, hypoaesthesia, hyperaesthesia, tachycardia, excessive salivation, sweating, flushing, rash, muscle cramp, myalgia, arthralgia, urinary incontinence, dysuria, thrombocytopenia, Kidney calculus

Rare (<0.1% title="Neutropenia" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutropenia" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">neutropenia, first degree heart block, hypotension, hypertension, pancreatitis, dysphagia, oliguria, rhabdomyolysis

Ah, Lyrica. You're like music to my feet. But all that just to reduce the pain? How lovely.

Hey, who's got time for politics?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Be at Peace

CALMNESS IN OUR LIVES

Recently, Dr.  Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a bottle of Kaluha, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old
Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos and a box of chocolates

You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now.

Please pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner
peace.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Give A Shit

But I actually do, of course, give a shit. It's just that I'm choosing to disengage from obsessing over politics for awhile. Or else I may go mad and become a very ugly person. The world will most likely continue on the path it is on whether I'm "involved" with it or not.

One person truly can change the world, of course. IF, that person chooses to be involved and put forth the effort. If one chooses to disengage, the world marches on without them.


You can only do so much...


What bothers me a bit, however, is the knowledge that only when enough people get involved will the government do the right thing. Just one example: the Civil Rights Act was not a "gift" bestowed by a benevolent government upon its appreciative subjects. It was fought for tooth and nail and police dog, by the people, and when a critical mass was reached, the government acquiesced.

And yes, I also believe that silence is complicity.

In my case, silence seems essential for my peace of mind.


It's just another paradox of living, in this age, in America, today.

Ten Years After comes to mind...

I'd love to change the world, but I don't know what to do.

So I'm leaving it up to you.


For now.

I'm Like Al Gore

I'm like Al Gore in that I am totally sick of politics. I pulled my head out of the abyss awhile ago and, while I can't avoid some headlines and people talking politics now and then, I feel so much better now that I don't give a shit anymore. It's quite liberating. Thanks to people like FOX NOISE and other right-wing hatemongering assholes, the world of politics has sunk even lower in the sewer than I thought possible. Maybe someday I'll give a shit again...

Protest Music

Nothing Happening Here: Protest Music, Then and Now
By John Nova Lomax
Published: October 18, 2007

You're feeling your freedom, and the world's off your back, some cowboy from Texas, starts his own war in Iraq."

So runs a line from "Some Humans Ain't Human," a song from John Prine's latest album, Fair and Square.

For Blanco resident Dave Collins, a former Marine who fought in Vietnam, that couplet was galvanizing. "I'll tell you, you can talk to a lot of politically active Vietnam veterans who became active after the war, and that one lyric describes the way a lot of us are feeling."

Collins says that it was only as the 1990s came to an end that the many of them had finally laid their troubles to rest. And then along came Dubya. "We'd established our careers and our families and buried our ghosts and demons, and we were cruising into late middle age and our early senior years."

The year 2003 was very tough, not just for the troops in Iraq but also for Vietnam veterans, Collins says. "Since 2003, there has been a huge spike in post-­traumatic stress disorder within the Veterans Ad min­istration," he says. "For me, anyway, and I tell other veterans this, it was just exactly the way Prine described it. We finally thought things were going good and here came this shit."

The war in Iraq not so much picked at the scabs of many Vietnam veterans but opened fresh wounds. "It's a lot of things," Collins says. "It's watching the news reports and seeing yourself in those young faces. I spoke at the first [antiwar] rally in Crawford in the fall of 2003, and I told the audience about this photo floating around the Internet. It was a picture of a Marine rifle company in Iraq, and they had formed up to spell a message. And the message was 'We Remember 9/11.' And I told the audience that when I saw that message I wept."

Collins said that only the other veterans in the audience knew what he was talking about then. "I saw me in that picture," Collins explains. "Not in the sands of Iraq, but on the tarmac at Da Nang airport, fully believing that what I was doing was honorable, that I was defending the Constitution, the whole nine yards. And I understood what a big number of those young Marines were gonna be going through before it was all over.

"Not just the war, but more importantly, they were gonna come to discover that they had been lied to horribly, and that everything they had experienced had been based on a lie. And I knew what that was gonna cost them. I think that's a fairly common experience among Vietnam veterans."

In 2003, Collins reenlisted in Vietnam Veterans Against the War, an organization he had joined in 1971 and mustered out of in 1973. Prine's song has brought great comfort and solidarity to him and his fellow vets. Such is the power of music.

Apparently, that lesson has not been lost on the ­powers-that-be. In contrast to the politically charged music of Vietnam era, the sound track to the Iraq war has gone mostly unheard.

And it is out there. Over the past four or five years here, I have been deluged with antiwar CDs, many from unknown artists. The vast majority of these have been terrible from opening note to final fade. Most of these singers hector and badger and let the message run roughshod over their music. It's hard to make words like "weapons of mass destruction," "extraordinary rendition" and "neo-con ­hegemony" really sing.

Some of the more famous examples of modern-day protest songs are almost as bad. Any list of these would have to include Internet/critical hits like Bright Eyes's "When the President Talks to God" and TV on the Radio's "Dry Drunk Emperor."

Sadly, the Bright Eyes tune sounds like a pill-headed 16-year-old pretending to be Bob Dylan, while "Dry Drunk Emperor" is little more than a babble of mock- profundities scattered about on the feeble winds of a tuneless "soundscape."

Then there's John Mayer's "Waiting for the World to Change," which was a mainstream hit and actually is pleasant enough as a piece of background music.

Mayer claims this song was inspired by Curtis Mayfield. Yep, that's right. Mayer claims that lines like "One day our generation is gonna rule the population, so we keep on waiting, waiting for the world to change" were inspired by the guy who commanded his fans to "Move On Up" and told them to ditch self-pity in "We're a Winner." 'Cause, you know, that's kind of what, like, the whole Civil Rights movement was about, you know? Sitting back and waiting for the nice man to give you your 40 acres and a mule.

Given its sentiment of passive non resistance, it's no surprise that Mayer's song is one of the precious few expressions of even mild discontent to slip past the ever-vigilant goalies guarding mainstream radio playlists. Another has been Green Day, whose American Idiot is more or less the exception to the rule. So far it stands as the only topical album of its era that is both a mainstream smash and actually good music.

But the guys in Green Day are pushing 40 now, and the bulk of the rest of the best of today's protest singers are the same guys who sang similar tunes long ago.

On the rock side, there's people like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and John Fogerty, whose brand-new album Revival shows him to be every bit the original punk rocker he was on "Fortunate Son" in 1969. (For my money, that was the birth of punk right there.) You won't be hearing them on the radio, though, as they are classic rock artists, and the radio consultants will tell you that nobody wants to hear any new music from any of them, thanks very much.

Nor will you be hearing anything like the Legendary K.O.'s "George Bush Don't Like Black People" or any other rap that is not about bitches or bling. The rap radio consultants will tell you that conscious rap doesn't "test well."

As for country, the usual suspects like Willie and Steve Earle continue to release solid albums to much critical fanfare and virtually no airplay. Again, those guys are "heritage artists," or some such.

Also, we found out the extent of the irrationality of the post-Dixie Chick landscape in 2005, when Merle Haggard released "Rebuild America First" as a single from his album Chicago Wind, which came out about a month after Katrina, when Bush's ratings were as low as they could possibly go.

Haggard is arguably the greatest living talent in country music, and he was again with a major label with plenty of promotion muscle, and the nation had need of his wisdom.

But such was not to be. This time around, he wasn't toeing the party line by saying he was proud to be an Okie from Muskogee nor threatening those that ran down his country as he did in "Fightin' Side of Me."

This time, he was saying, "Yeah, men in position but backing away, freedom is stuck in reverse, let's get out of Iraq and get back on the track, and let's rebuild America first."

Even after all of the lies about the war had been exposed, even after all of America watched a beloved American city (as we knew it) perish in slow motion, even as Bush's ratings sank to sub- Nixonian levels, country radio backed away from that song.

"Clear Channel's not gonna play anything that costs them advertising money or goes against the party line or whatever you want to call it," says KPFT's Larry Winters.

And they are still less likely to play something by relatively unknown artists, some of whom have created the very finest music of our times. There's James McMurtry's "We Can't Make It Here," which Collins calls "the first really comprehensive look at what's going on now, not strictly the war, but the whole package." There are also killer songs like the Decemberists' "16 Military Wives" and Todd Snider's "Ballad of the Kingsmen." Nope, you didn't hear those on the radio either. They sounded too jarring when they came up against the Chevy commercials.

Collins says that the situation was not as different back in his youth as people might think today. "There was pretty tight control of what was on the AM radio then, but in '66, '67 and '68, so-called underground radio came around to blossom on FM," he says. "And hell, that was all anybody I knew listened to. I was on a base in California at that time, and we listened to the Doors, Hendrix and the Airplane."

Today, the underground is confined to a few public radio stations in major markets and the Internet, and that's the problem. These days it seems like no two thousand kids are fans of the same band, and then few of those two thousand dig the same songs.

Culturally speaking, we are now an atomized country, sliced and diced into millions of tiny cliques, each of us gorging off our own list of bookmarked MP3 blogs and overstuffed iPods, taking in dozens of new songs a week but absorbing and comprehending almost nothing.

Contrast that to 1968, the year Collins went off to Vietnam: "I think hindsight provides a more homogeneous view of my generation's youth than may be accurate, but there was a huge contingent of white, relatively middle-class kids who constituted what was referred to as the counterculture," Collins says.

As for today? The Buzz is the so-called "new music alternative" on the FM dial, allegedly the home of rock and roll, once the sound track to the rebellion of American youth, the music of the counterculture.

On October 28, the station will be hosting its annual BuzzFest, sponsored by Bud Light, McDonald's, Pontiac, Darque Tan and — get this — the good old United States Army.

Somehow I don't think the Army had a corporate tent at Woodstock or Altamont. Real life gets more like The Simpsons every day.

john.lomax@houstonpress.com

http://www.houstonpress.com/2007-10-18/music/racket/full

Sunday, October 21, 2007

General Smedley D. Butler

Remember this fascinating quote from your suppressed American history class? No?

"I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenue in. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers...I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras "right" for American fruit companies in 1903. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints."
--Marine Corps General Smedley D. Butler, 1931.

Wikipedia goes even further:

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints."[19]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler

Saturday, October 20, 2007

History of Hemp in the Americas

Legalizing cultivation of hemp in this country is only ONE of the things we need to do to remove our heads from our posteriors...

HISTORY OF HEMP IN THE AMERICAS

(from the Oregonian newspaper)

1619: Jamestown colony in Virginia passes the New World's first hemp law, making it illegal not to grow hemp for sails, rope, clothing and other important items.

1645: The Puritans bring hemp to New England to spin and weave into fabric.

1776: Thomas Jefferson, a hemp grower, drafts the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. The document later is transferred to parchment.

1890s: Hemp begins to face stiff competition as labor-saving machinery lowers cotton prices and natural fiber imports pour into the country.

1937: Congress passes the Marihuana Tax Act in an effort to restrict production by imposing taxes on all transactions involving marijuana. Though the hemp plant's mature stalks, fiber, seed oil and sterilized seed were exempt, the stiff punishment -- up to a $2,000 fine or five years in prison or both -- prompted hemp growers to abandon the crop for fear of inadvertently breaking the law.

1941: Ford Motor Co. unveils a plastic concept car made from 70 percent hemp and other natural fibers and 30 percent resin binder.

1942: After shipments of fiber from the Philippines get cut off during World War II, the U.S. Department of Agriculture contracts with the quasi-official War Hemp Industries Inc. to produce seed and fiber. The USDA's "Hemp for Victory" film urges farmers to grow hemp.

1945: Resumption of imports and federal restrictions cause further production declines.

1957: Wisconsin farmers grow the United States' last crop of hemp.

1970: The federal Controlled Substances Act declares all varieties of Cannabis sativa to be Schedule 1 controlled substances, the highest category of illegal drugs. The act does not distinguish among Cannabis sativa varieties, including marijuana, which is psychoactive, and hemp, which is not.

1990s: Hemp begins to capture interest as a low-impact crop that can provide high-protein food and natural fiber for clothing, paper and composite materials.

1996: States begin to consider legalizing hemp production or research. To date, 15 have passed legislation, mostly for feasibility studies. Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia removed barriers to its production or research.

1997: Then-Rep. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, unsuccessfully introduces legislation to permit hemp farms in Oregon. Similar bills die in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

1998: Canada and Australia legalize hemp farms, leaving the United States as the world's only industrialized nation that outlaws growing hemp.

2004: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's attempt to expand drug regulations to hemp food, cosmetics and oil.

2007: North Dakota becomes the first state to issue hemp-growing licenses, but the DEA declines to issue the required federal permits. The issue is now in federal court.

Sources: Congressional Research Service, HempMuseum.org, IndustrialHemp.net, Popular Mechanics, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Vote Hemp

http://tinyurl.com/2u2et4

Friday, October 19, 2007

Iraq War = Higher Oil Prices

Dem. Rep. David Obey - "No Iraq supplemental until course change."

(My internet is acting up, and I'm going to try and create a post via email)
 
Could it be?  A Dem (one, at least) so fed up with Bush that he's not going to allow one more dime to go to Iraq until there is a "course change?"  Of course, that's a pretty loose phrase and could mean almost anything, but it's the closest thing to a spinal cord that I've seen in any Democrat in a long while.
 
Obey: No Iraq supplemental until course change
October 02, 2007
 
President Bush will not get an Iraq war supplemental spending bill until he changes course on the war, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said Tuesday. The powerful lawmaker also voiced his support for a "war tax."
 
"As chairman of the Appropriations Committee I have absolutely no intention of reporting out of committee anytime in this session of Congress any such request that simply serves to continue the status quo," Obey told reporters.
 
He wants a war spending bill to end U.S. involvement in combat operations by January 2009, allow more rest time for troops between deployments and start a "diplomatic surge."
 
Obey also came out in favor of Rep. James McGovern's (D-Mass.) war tax proposal.  "If you don't like the cost, then shut down the war," Obey said in a news conference.
 
The tax would be intended to raise roughly $150 billion for the war. It would be a surtax of 2 to 15 percent of income tax. A 2 percent surtax means that a person who would otherwise pay $100 in taxes would pay $102.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Join the Sex Party!


Uh, only in Canada, that is...

http://www.thesexparty.ca/

Been tested for HIV lately?

Tony Snow on The Daily Show 10/15/07

Jon Stewart is awesome interviewing Tony Snow on the Daily Show. I wish Jon would be as tough and persistent with more of his guests as he was with Tony. I have to give Tony some credit. While Tony was still able to spin like a top, he let Jon make his points without interrupting. Or, maybe The Daily Show editors simply did a superb job. This is some must-see-TV. Especially Part 2. This link will take you to Part 1, but Part 2 should start after Part 1 is over.

I guess you may have to click on the link below to get to Comedy Central's MotherLoad, the ultimate broadband video channel.

http://www.comedycentral.com/motherload/?lnk=v&ml_video=118582

Comedy Central
NY: 1775 Broadway
NY, NY 10019
212.767.8600
fax:212.767.8592

CA: 2049 Century Park East, Ste. 4000
LA, CA 90067
310.407.4700
fax:310.407.4767

Monday, October 15, 2007

Domestic surveillance? Pre-9/11?

Eh? What's that? The Bush administration was spying on Americans seven months beFORE 9/11? To what end, I wonder? Oh, that's classified? Oh. Hey, good job using that spying on Americans to thwart that nasty attack on 9/11. What's that? I can't hear you...

NSA Domestic Surveillance Began 7 Months Before 9/11, Convicted Qwest CEO Claims

By Ryan Singel
October 11, 2007

Did the NSA's massive call records database program pre-date the terrorist attacks of 9/11?

That startling allegation is in court documents released this week which show that former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio -- the head of the only company known to have turned down the NSA's requests for Americans' phone records -- tried, unsuccessfully, to argue just that in his defense against insider trading charges.

Nacchio was sentenced to 6 years in prison in 2007 after being found guilty of illegally selling shares based on insider information that the company's fortunes were declining....

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/10/nsa-asked-for-p.html

Joke of the Day

Bad. Really bad. But funny.

Pad Talking

What did the maxi pad say to the fart?
You are the wind beneath my wings.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hemp is STILL suppressed

...at least in this country. The fact that hemp growing and production is illegal, while the imporation is legal, is yet another example of the stupid, back-asswardness of this country and our deference to big corporations. Someday, America will pull its head out of its posterior, but I ain't holdin' my breath.

Hemp: The little weed that could
It's nutritious, delicious and at least as strong as wood. So why the continuing stigma?
Sunday, October 14, 2007
STEVE WOODWARD
The Oregonian
Hemp is shedding the dreadlocks and going mainstream.

Consumers are grabbing nutrition-packed hemp milk, bread and brownie mixes off local grocery shelves. A new generation of fashion designers and shoppers is adopting the soft, eco-friendly fabric. Environmentalists see the fast-growing weed as an alternative to cutting down trees for paper.

"All these years it's been about hippies and tie-dye and being stoned," says Scott Gordon, who co-owns Urb Age Designs, a Portland hemp design and apparel company. "Today it's not."

Consumers are beginning to distinguish between industrial hemp and its illicit cousin, marijuana. Though the two belong to the same plant species, hemp farmers have bred out the ingredient that causes marijuana to pack a high.

In other words, smoking hemp would be like smoking rope, not dope.

But don't plant it in your backyard. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration regards hemp and marijuana as identical, regardless of their drug content. Growing hemp without a DEA permit is a crime.

Federal law, on the other hand, gives a green light to importing hemp seed, oil, fiber and other products.

(Sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things")

Hemp milk and hemp bread and creamy hemp smoothies,

Cat litter, caulking and cases for CDs,

Paneling, plaster, soap, solvent and bricks,

There's hardly a problem that hemp cannot fix.

Hemp seems too good to be true. But there's no denying its seemingly endless possibilities.

It's one of nature's most complete foods. Hemp seeds contain all essential amino acids, including two often missing in vegetarian diets. It contains more total essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) than any other plant source, plus it carries them in ideal proportions. Moreover, it's a substitute for soy.

Hemp fiber can replace trees in the making of paper and building products. Washington State University researchers produced hemp fiberboard twice as strong as wood fiberboard. Stanford University researchers determined that hemp-reinforced resin is strong as Douglas fir, and it biodegrades faster than wood. In addition, white hemp paper requires little or no bleach.

It's farm-friendly. Hemp needs no pesticides or herbicides -- unlike cotton, which uses a quarter of all agricultural chemicals on U.S. farms. One acre of hemp yields as much pulp as four or more acres of trees. Its growing season is only four months. Its deep roots make it a good rotation crop.

It could also be a versatile energy source for vehicles, if hemp biofuels were available. It can be converted into ethanol, like corn, or into diesel, like soybeans.

But hemp faces hurdles as high and broad as a field of 19-foot stalks. Though Oregon had a significant hemp crop in the late 1800s, a 1998 study by the Oregon State University Extension Service concluded that growing hemp profitably today would require irrigation, intensive plant breeding and improvements in harvesting technology.

"There a lot of hype about hemp," says Gerry Shapiro, founder of The Merry Hempsters, a Eugene maker of hemp lip balm. "The truth is, they don't know how to grow it."

(Sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things")

Hemp floors and car doors and hemp insulation,

Tons of hemp fiber to cure constipation,

Diapers, detergent and animal food,

Some even claim that it elevates mood.

Despite hemp's growing popularity, the weed still suffers from the stigma of marijuana.

"I had some military investigators call me up once," Shapiro recalls. "They had made a soldier empty his pockets, and they found my lip balm."

The balm can be bought at the local grocery store, but that didn't keep the investigators from confiscating it.

The hemp Shapiro uses contains extremely low levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis sativa, the umbrella Latin name for hemp and marijuana. While marijuana's THC content can reach 30 percent, according to federal data, industrial hemp contains less than 1 percent. The Canadian and European governments require hemp's THC content to be even lower: less than 0.3 percent.

But the 1970 Controlled Substances Act doesn't take THC levels into account. The act simply lists Cannabis sativa -- marijuana and hemp -- as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it's highly dangerous with no medical value.

Federal drug officials aren't swayed by hemp supporters. They and other opponents of legalization -- law-enforcement and anti-drug organizations -- argue that approval of industrial hemp farming opens the door to marijuana legalization, as well as sending mixed messages to kids.

Law enforcers, in particular, say farmers will be able to hide marijuana plants within their hemp fields, thwarting drug surveillance.

Hemp proponents respond that not only would hemp farms be licensed and open to federal inspection, but that planting hemp and marijuana together reduces marijuana's THC content.

"Hemp is nature's own marijuana-eradication system," James Woolsey, CIA director under the first President George Bush, told Audubon Magazine in 1999. At the time, Woolsey was a lobbyist for the North American Industrial Hemp Council.

(Sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things")

Plastic composites and hemp-based linoleum,

Hemp biodiesel to pre-empt petroleum,

Paper and carpet and sulfur-free coal,

Hemp beer to quaff at your watering hole.

Hemp use has become increasingly corporate.

Industrial hemp clothing designers include Adidas, Armani, Calvin Klein, Esprit, Walt Disney, Vans.

The Body Shop and Revlon use it for cosmetics and body-care products.

The auto industry has turned to hemp composite materials for door panels, dashboards, trunks and other parts that need strength and flexibility. Among the users: Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, Honda and Mercedes.

To keep up with demand, U.S. companies are scrambling to import raw materials from China, Europe and Canada. The United States remains the only industrialized nation in the world without an established hemp crop, according to the Congressional Research Service.

(Sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things")

Frozen hemp waffles and Bechamel sauces,

Canvas and plywood and hemp-filled lip glosses,

Animal bedding, brake linings and glue,

Musical instruments, rope, toothpaste, too.

Vote Hemp, an industry advocacy group, says 28 states have introduced hemp legislation since 1996. North Dakota, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana and West Virginia have legalized hemp production or research, although federal drug regulations still trump.

In Oregon, Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, first proposed legalizing hemp in 1997. His latest bill died in committee in June. He plans to consider another in 2009.

"The part that's ironic," Prozanski says, "is you can import as much as hemp as you can get your hands on."

Even if Oregon legalizes hemp, it will be too late for Carolyn Moran's Living Tree Paper Co. in Eugene. Living Tree, which the environmental activist founded in 1994, made hemp paper until last year, when prices, availability and the shortage of pulp-processing equipment forced her to switch to flax.

Hemp supporters think it's only a matter of time until U.S. farmers can start providing seed and fibers for some of the plant's purported 25,000 uses.

"It's not a fad. It's not a phase," says Richard Ziff, co-founder of Of the Earth, a Bend fashion-design firm that uses hemp and other natural fabrics. "Once people have adopted it, it's a lifelong process."

(Sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things")

When I'm hungry,

When I'm thirsty,

When I crave some style,

I put on my hemp hat and grab my hemp bag,

And shop for more hemp awhile

http://www.oregonlive.com/entertainment/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/entertainment/119207132419990.xml&coll=7&thispage=1

Mark Morford - Hypocrisy Tour

The great American hypocrisy tour
Larry Craig's bathroom stall! Haggard's meth hotel! See all the sites of GOP shame. Fun for kids!
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Tourists are flocking to see the bathroom in the Minneapolis airport where U.S. Sen. Larry Craig was arrested in a sex sting. "It's become a tourist attraction," said Karen Evans, who staffs the information counter at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. "People are taking pictures." -Associated Press

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Kids! Families! War-wary countrymen! Adorable schoolchildren! Hungry to see the real America? Love the idea of a crazy road trip across our fine 'n' scandalous land, one in which you get a real taste of just what kind of crow the local politicos get to eat for breakfast?
Well, search no more, good patriot. Your adventure travel package has arrived.

Yes, it's called Shame Tourism. Or maybe Hypocrisy Travel. Or Shame America! Travelocrisy? Honestly, we haven't really decided yet. There are just so many options.

But who cares? Because it's the latest craze in domestic tourism, specially designed for happy cynics and satirists and fatalists and contrarians and atheists and liberals alike, all you savvy fans of "The Daily Show" and DailyKos and the New Republic and the Nation and pretty much anyone who finds delight in learning of yet another bitter BushCo conservative caught with his hands in the tacky polyester pants of his fellow countrymen. Best of all, it's totally free!*

(*Note: does not include additional costs of food, gas, oil, environmental devastation, condoms, souvenir baggies of crystal meth, cocaine, Viagra, hookers, STD meds, or the sad and savage toll on any happy or optimistic outlook you may have deluded yourself into believing actually exists on this planet.)

First stop: Colorado! What better way to kick off your unique vacation than to step onto the stage at the New Life megachurch in Colorado "Bible Thumper" Springs where big-time evangelist and recently born-again heterosexual Ted Haggard admonished his massive flock against adultery and sin and icky gay sex! Watch the replay on the big screen of the famous video clip where Haggard slams homos and adulterers and heathens! It's almost like being a lost evangelical lemming yourself!

Then, with that hot scene tingling in your mind, hop into our special Hypocrisy Bus and enjoy free vodka Jell-O shooters and comp copies of Butt magazine as we zip on over to Denver and visit the very spot where Haggard received regular "service" from a male prostitute! Feel free to buy a few baggies of souvenir crystal meth* at our specially arranged drop point, talk to Haggard's escort, Mike Jones, maybe get a signed copy of his book. Praise Jesus!

(*Note: snorting of meth not allowed on tour bus, unless you're really quiet and do it in the back. That means you, Mr. Romney.)

Ah, but we're just getting warmed up. Because from Denver it's just a quick flight over to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport -- the same spot, by the way, where thousands of quivery GOP faithful will be flying next year for the wildly depressing Republican National Convention -- where we'll check out the exact bathroom stall where "I am not gay" totally gay Idaho Sen. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig toe-tapped his way into political -- and hypocritical -- history!

Learn the difference between simply tapping your foot and urgently asking your neighbor for a blow job because you're a duplicitous Republican cretin! Wave your hand under the stall and see if an undercover cop is on duty! Take a photo of your kid sitting on the toilet where Craig's own tortured homophobia met his repressed gay sexual fantasies in an epic, but still totally creepy example of pathological denial! Feel the history! Or better yet, don't.

From there it's a painless, alcohol-numbed flight down to sunny Florida, where we've managed to procure the exact PC laptop used by obviously gay former Congressman Mark Foley to hit on all those young male congressional pages via e-mail. Tap tap tap! Mmm, isn't that keyboard mysteriously sticky!*

(*Note: You may alternate late Republican mayor Jim West's PC, which was used for many, many years to cruise gay chat rooms, for no extra charge).

By special arrangement, we've arranged it so you can log into the actual AOL account Foley used to send notes to "hunky" congressional pages! It's true! Pretend to type one of your own, including lots of key phrases like "Tell me about your underwear" and "Do you sweat a lot when you masturbate?" Giggle profusely as you hit the Send button, safe in the knowledge that all your e-mails route directly to Karl Rove in his private fetish dungeon somewhere in Utah. Neat!

While stuck in Florida, why not stop over at Veteran's Memorial Park in Titusville (it's OK, no one else knows where the hell it is either), where thick 'n' sweaty Rep. Bob Allen, also a former McCain organizer, offered a "burly black man"/undercover cop a whopping 20 bucks to let Allen fellate him in a public restroom? (What is it with the Republicans, restrooms and fellatio? Hell, at least Clinton cared enough to use the Oval Office couch. Ah, leave it for the historians.)

Peer over the same restroom door Allen leered over before stepping in to make his offer! Fumble for bizarre racist excuses when our "reporter" "interviews" you after you get busted! Delight in the savage irony that Allen was the author of the failed Florida House Bill 1475, known as the "Lewd Or Lascivious Exhibition Act," which would have made it a crime for any adult to masturbate in public, in front of another adult. Feel free to grab a partner and try this fine activity for yourself! Hey, it's totally legal!

Quick as a hasty Republican cover-up, we'll hop on the bus and zip back up to Jefferson, Ind., where we will cruise very, very slowly by the all-American home where burgeoning young hypocrite Glenn Murphy, Jr., former chairman of the Young Republicans and one of the GOP's rising stars, performed what turned out to be his second reported act of non-consensual fellatio on a fellow YR who just so happened to be asleep at the time. Wacky!

If you like, your sullen teenager can lie down on the floor and pretend to be drunk and asleep, and one of our travel facilitators will carefully undo his pants and pretend to give him oral sex! Time your snapshots just right as your teen "wakes up" in horror and shoves "Murphy" away and realizes what a sham both their lives really are! What a terrific scrapbook this will make. Great for Facebook, too!

To top it all off, we'll zip by the local Walgreen's, where we'll grab some adult diapers and head over to the nearest prostitution district and pretend we're Louisiana Sen. David "Diaperman" Vitter, who, according to our favorite D.C. madam and her employees, was not only a regular patron, but an alleged fan of diaper fetishes. Goo-goo gah-gah, indeed!

How about visiting a seedy D.C. bar and offering 50 grand in bribery cash to a guy dressed just like imbecilic faux-mobster Jack Abramoff? Or offering hookers and trips to Randy "Duke" Cunningham, noted as the nation's most corrupt politician? Care to see the exact hospital room where Newt Gingrich served divorce papers to one of his three wives (does it really matter which one?) during her treatments for uterine cancer? Or maybe you'd like hang out at the gym and do some crunches with fake journalist, Bush buddy, and noted gay escort Jeff Gannon? We can make it happen. By special request, we can even show you the very syringe used to impregnate Mary Cheney! Careful, it's a little gamy.

Please note, the options listed here are merely the beginning. Call us in advance, and we will happily customize your trip to your exact specifications. Feel free to mix and match your desired tour stops from our enormous master list of suspected/convicted Republican pedophiles, adulterers, drug users, johns, felons, bribers, sodomizers, deviants, closeted homosexuals, and deadbeat dads who have besotted the "family values" party for the past, well, pretty much forever.

To hell with Hawaii and Disneyland this year, and take the kids on a trip of a lifetime. What are you waiting for? Book your vacation before Christmas and get a free framed copy of the marriage license confirming Jerry Falwell's secret gay marriage to Pat Robertson! Call now!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

14 years in jail, and he's innocent

One has to wonder how many innocent people have been jailed, even executed, before DNA evidence came along? It's amazing to me how many of these people who get released after serving multiple years for crimes they did not commit seem to bear no ill will towards the state or their accusers.

Oct. 9, 2007, 9:44PM
Man free after serving 14 years for crime he didn't commit

Taylor embraced his family who had waited for about two hours after a hearing this morning for his release.

"I always believed this was coming one day," Taylor said. " I'm just glad to see my family. It ain't really sunk in yet."

Taylor and his lawyers left the Harris County Jail immediately after his release at 1:30 p.m. Taylor later addressed Mayor Bill White and the City Council about his ordeal.

"I think there is a lot of people who have the same problem I had,'' he told the standing-room-only crowd in the City Council chamber. "There are a lot of people who can't get help because they don't have the finances. Something needs to be done."

Taylor, 47, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for a 1993 rape, in part on faulty evidence from the Houston Police Department's troubled crime lab. New DNA tests announced last week cleared him of that crime.

In state District Judge Denise Collins' court this morning, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said: " I want to apologize to Mr. Taylor."

Taylor appeared in an orange jail jumpsuit in the hearing before Collins, who told him: "I thought you would be in street clothes."

"I did, too," Taylor said.

Taylor's mother and stepfather attended the hearing, but Taylor's fiancee, who has believed in and waited for him all these years, could not be there.

"I'll be thinking of him and wishing I was there," said Jeannette Brown, whose obligations as a nursing assistant and student will keep her from making the trip from her Atlanta home to Houston. "Waiting to see him is so hard, but I have to."

Taylor was accused in 1993 of raping a woman who was attacked while sleeping in her Third Ward home. Police showed the woman a video lineup, which included Taylor because a neighbor had seen him in the area that night, and she identified him as her attacker.

The woman's testimony served as the primary evidence at trial. An analyst from the troubled Houston Police Department lab testified that it was impossible to offer DNA evidence because a sheet from the crime scene contained no semen that could be analyzed.

Twelve years to the day later, the sheet that HPD originally tested was sent to a private lab for re-examination at the request of the New York-based legal clinic The Innocence Project, which had taken Taylor's case.

The private lab found semen that yielded a DNA profile but not Taylor's.

The analysis by ReliaGene Technologies identified the DNA profile of Roosevelt Carroll, a felon twice convicted of rape who is serving a 15-year sentence in a Texas prison for failing to register as a sex offender. Carroll lived within a mile of the victim's home.

Taylor is the third man exonerated after being convicted with faulty work from the Houston Police Department crime lab. The lab came under scrutiny in 2002, when news reports and an audit exposed shoddy work and poorly trained personnel, touching off a scandal that cast doubt on thousands of convictions and continues today.

Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said he will work for Taylor's quick release and pardon. Assuming Taylor receives a pardon based on his innocence, he could receive upwards of $700,000 $50,000 for each year of incarceration. Rosenthal cannot prosecute Carroll because the deadline for filing charges in the case has passed.

Taylor has said he feels no anger toward Carroll or his accuser. His mother echoed those thoughts Monday, saying she could understand how the woman may have been confused. "It's possible to confuse (Taylor and Carroll), if you were awoken in the night like that," she said. "I don't hold any hostility toward her. Now is the time to thank God and move on."

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5198221.html

Now is the time to thank God. Wow.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Carve those pumpkins

I'm so disgusted with politics these days, it's time for something else. It's almost Halloween. Time to act like an idiot, eat a lot of candy and cut some pumpkins. And remember the dead.









Saturday, October 6, 2007

Al Gore's "The Assault on Reason"


Good book. It was a tough read for me, however.

The following is a post I made on a forum on the net when I was about halfway thru Al's book...

I'll read a couple of pages and get thoroughly disgusted at what the Bush Gang - with the far-too-frequent complicity of the Democrats - has pulled off in this country. What hurts most is that Al can see everything so clearly and put it all on paper succinctly.

Most of the current crop of Dems can't seem to grasp much. Al seems to be the only one who really "gets it," and just the thought that this very wise man might not run, when he sees things so clearly, really bums me out. Who else out there approaches his insights?

I don't know if I'll be able to finish it. If I'm still reading it and Al announces that he WON'T run for President, I may just rip it to shreds. Much like Bush has done to this country.

and now, after finishing the book, another post, on another Forum...

Finally finished the book, and I'm a little miffed....
After all the decimating detail that Al demonstrates about what has been going wrong over the years of George W. Bush,

After all the charges of misinformation, disinformation, secrecy and outright lying on the part of George W. Bush,

After all the wonderful quotes from the Founding Fathers,

After all the citations from the United States Constitution, from Articles 1, 2, 3, etc., etc.,

Even after outright charging that "President Bush has repeatedly violated the law for six years," (page 221) in regards to the warrantless surveillance program,

Al Gore cannot bring himself to even discuss the impeachment of George W. Bush. Indeed, the word "impeachment" does not even appear in the Index to the book. Yes, Al does write the word "impeachment" a few times in the book, but only in reference to impeaching judges for one cause or another. Never does Al deign to even mention the word impeachment in relation to George W. Bush, even after Al has detailed with precision the violations by Bush. This rather pisses me off.

At least he could have approached the topic. He could have said something like, "Yes, many believe that impeachment would be a proper remedy for Bush's actions. Indeed, some think that impeachment is even REQUIRED by the Constitution, in light of Bush's actions. But I disagree with that for these reasons...." Or he could have approached it in a hundred different ways.

But no. Nothing. Nada. I feel insulted. Al leaves those of us out here in the real world who think impeaching Bush would be a good corrective action to twist in the wind. Considering that the Republicans impeached President Bill Clinton for far, far less than Bush is guilty of (and how "unreasonable" that whole charade was), I'm somewhat surprised at - what can only be, to my mind - the calculated omission of any discussion of impeaching Bush. And that leaves a pretty bitter taste in my mouth. In a word, it is unreasonable. I hesitate to use the word cowardly, but there it is.

I think I've lost some respect for Al Gore. I am offended by Gore's glaring avoidance of the impeachment topic.


On top of that, another item in the book bugs me, and that is Al's glossing over the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He addresses the topic in two ways:

1) Towards the end of the book, he states that the Act needs to be revisited in light of the latest developments in technology.

Yes, I agree with this, but...

2) The other way he addresses the topic, albeit obliquely, is to bemoan the vast concentration of media outlets, be they newspapers, radio or TV, in the hands of fewer and fewer mega-corporations, and how that shuts off a lot of the "conversation" necessary in a democracy. What Al does NOT address is his own culpability in the passage of that very same Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Act expanded the number of outlets that companies could control in each market, and then Al turns around and complains that the media is in too few hands, but he won't discuss the Act in any detail. Not even something like, "Oops, that didn't turn out too well."

I'm not so convinced any longer that Al Gore should be President, and that really bums me out. I think this nation is going to go a lot further downhill before we pull out collective heads out of our asses.
If we ever do.
Have a nice day.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Marraige Fable

A couple had only been married for two weeks and the husband, although very much in love, couldn't wait to go out on the town and party with his old buddies. So, he said to his new wife, "Honey, I'll be right back."

"Where are you going, Coochy Coo?" asked the wife.

"I'm going to the bar, Pretty Face," he answered. "I'm going to have a beer."

The wife said, "You want a beer, my love?" She opened the door to the refrigerator and showed him 25 different kinds of beer, brands from 12 different countries: Germany, Holland, Japan, India , etc.

The husband didn't know what to do, and the only thing that he could think of saying was, "Yes, Lollipop... but at the bar... You know...they have frozen glasses... "

He didn't get to finish the sentence, because the wife interrupted him by saying, "You want a frozen glass, PuppyFace?" She took a huge beer mug out of the freezer, so frozen that she was getting chills just holding it.

The husband, looking a bit pale, said, "Yes, Tootsie Roll, but at the bar they have those hors d'oeuvres that are really delicious... I won't be long. I'll be right back. I promise. OK?"

"You want hors d'oeuvres, Poochie Pooh?" She opened the oven and took out 5 dishes of different hors d'oeuvres: chicken wings, pigs in blankets, mushroom caps, and little quiches.

"But my sweet honey... at the bar.... you know there's swearing, dirty words and all that..."

"You want dirty words, Cutie Pie?

LISTEN UP CHICKEN SHIT! SIT YOUR ASS DOWN, SHUT THE HELL UP, DRINK YOUR BEER IN YOUR FROZEN MUG AND EAT YOUR HORS D'OEUVRES BECAUSE YOUR MARRIED ASS ISN'T GOING TO A DAMNED BAR! THAT SHIT IS OVER, GOT IT, JACKASS?"

and...they lived happily ever after.

Isn't that a sweet story?

MARRIED LIFE - MAKES MY EYES TEAR UP

The Daily Puppy

Black Collar Crime

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