Sign Of The Times

Can’t decide what tree to plant it the front yard?  Hate your neighbors?

SignPast offers newly made versions of old businesses, specializing in the auto and gas categories.  And they’re big:  about 24 inches.

Seeing all those gas references reminds me of the brief Firesign Theatre prayer that incorporated lots of oil company names in it:

“…annointed with oil on troubled waters? oh Heavenly Grid, help us bear up thy *Standard, our *Chevron flashing bright across the *Gulf of Compromise, standing *Humble on the *Rich Field of *Mobile *American Thinking? Here in this *Shell, we call Life…”

So Much Reading,

so little writing.  I’ve started a lot of things for this blog that don’t seem to get finished.  Usually it’s a matter of more research, or clarifying, or substantiating facts.  Then when it’s almost done, it’s too long to post and gets put aside.  Or the computer crashes and the information from all the Explorer windows that are open gets lost.  And since there are 23 of those open now, as well as 15 emails, I better start saving some of the info before it happens again.

There’s been lots of fun political stuff flying around lately.  Former Terrorism Official Dick Clarke’s new book “Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror,” has been causing a fair amount of it.  That’s kind of interesting because he’s not really saying much that hasn’t been said before, but he is a high level source.  This is talked about in Slate’s overly longly titled article “Dick Clarke Is Telling the Truth Why he’s right about Bush’s negligence on terrorism”.

Then there’s Walter.  I never thought of Cronkite as political because the was the unbiased source of news for so long.  That’s certainly not what he is doing now in his columns which appear in the Denver Post.  I’ve only read a few, my favorites are: The scariest idea of all which talks about the absurd Bush budget numbers, Dear Senator Kerry, about it being okay to be a liberal, and U.S. unintelligence, about CIA information and Bush’s use of it.

The scariest idea article reminds me that I started one about the budget.  Walter, of course, made the points much better than I would, and really should be read if you only read one of them.  Mine is long, includes lots about the national debt and how fast it is growing.  I did research, computations, and found that once the numbers are adjusted for inflation, our $6.7 million million debt is a little more than 3 times what it was in 1950.  Maybe it’s not as bad as I thought it was.  Later that day the 1939 John Wayne classic Stagecoach was on.  A banker complained about the horrible state of our national debt.  I haven’t been able to get back to the research since hearing that.

The O'Franken Factor

Comedian Al Franken will be the lead personality on Air America Radio, a startup venture promising a liberal alternative to powerhouse radio talk show pundits like Rush Limbaugh.  Franken and others plan to launch the network on March 31 in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.

No news yet on how to tune in.

Paul Krugman: The Great Unraveling

I bought this book about six months ago but just couldn’t set aside the time to read it.  After all, it’s by an economist.  And it depressing to read about what is and has been going on in this country for the last few years.

I finally finished it today, leaving me with a nice, fresh sense of outrage at Bush & Co.

It’s mostly a collection of his N.Y. Times columns grouped by subject rather than chronologically, each area with a brief introduction.  If you’re a masochist:  the entire book, other than the intros and preface, can be found online by reading the archives of his columns.  A brief, recent review (odd, since the book has been out for quite a while) is here.

This book is a must read for a wake-up to the lies that are taking place around us.  It’s interesting that the same things discussed in the book are still taking place.  And the media still isn’t reporting it.

Ashcroft After Medical Records

He’s at it again — chipping away at privacy rights.  I’ll try to make this brief:  The main article to read is from the LA Times and it’s called Ashcroft Gunning for Peek at Private Medical Records.  If it’s gone, email me and I’ll post it here (email link is in the column to the right).  If you’re already following this story, then you know what follows here, just read the Times article.

It’s surprising how difficult it is to piece together the full background for this, but here goes:

  • 11/6/03:  President Bush signed legislation Wednesday banning a certain type of abortion.  A federal judge immediately questioned the law’s constitutionality and issued a limited temporary restraining order against it. – link
  • 12/17/03:  Two abortion rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union filed lawsuits to try to block the ban. – link
  • 2/9/04 – 2/18/04:  The Department of Justice issued subpoenas to seven major hospitals records regarding the number and nature of the abortions, and several are refusing to comply. – link.
    Ashcroft says the records are needed to prove if the abortions are “medically necessary”, as was stated in the lawsuits. – link
    Judge Denies Ashcroft’s Request for Patient Medical Records – link
  • 3/10/04:  Feds drop bid to subpoena abortion records. – link.
    Note that they are still trying to get the records, but dropping the subpoena to do it.

That first times Times article that I referenced addresses what the requests are causing in the clinics, which may be what the intended effect was to be.  The quote below (link) addresses the reason that patient records shouldn’t be needed:

The government seeks these records on the possibility that it may find something therein which would affect the testimony of Dr. Hammond adversely, that is, for its potential value in impeaching his credibility as a witness.  What the government ignores in its argument is how little, if any, probative value lies within these patient records and the ready availability of information traditionally used to challenge the veracity of Dr. Hammond’s scientific assertions and medical opinions.  The presence or absence of medical risks, their likelihood and nature are undoubtably described and discussed in available medical literature.  Challenges to Dr. Hammond’s views would be readily available, as would the enlistment of experts supporting contrary opinions.  The search for the truth that any hearing or trial seeks to produce would hardly be infringed by finding that a physician-patient privilege exists in these circumstances.

At least there’s no records of gun purchases.

The Ridge Route

The internet – you gotta love it.  Start doing one thing and two hours later you’re someplace completely different.

Quite a while back I saved a link for future posting:  It was called LA Photo Gallery, but now it’s called @LA.  It even got itself a address.  It’s full of links to pictures of LA grouped in various categories.  The wandering starts.  Click.  Click.  Click.

Ended up on The Ridge Route, which gives the history of the first road through the San Gabriel and Tehachapi Mountains.  Built in 1915, the road essentially connects Bakersfield to LA.  It got popular quick, and was replaced by US 99 in 1933.

Naturally, there’s a website or two for it as well:  Historic US 99 Guide and Historical Tour of US 99.  I’ve seen pieces of US 99 (usually the part that goes straight into Pyramid Lake viewed from I-5) many times.  The first site says:

Between 1960 and 1967, I-5 replaced all of old US 99.  I-5 through the Tehachipis proved a major public works project – one of the most impressive in all of the Interstate Highway system.  As testament to this, more dirt was moved to grade for it than was used for the entire Aswan High Dam in Egypt and it is one of the few single man made objects that can be seen clearly from space.

No wonder a trip that took 2 days in 1920 only takes 2 hours now.  And no wonder a quick check of a link turned into a 2 hour side trip.

Music Photos

Eddie Kramer was a hard-working audio engineer and producer in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  He was also an amateur photographer close to some of the biggest stars of those days such as Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa.

His website displays and sells a large number of his pictures.  His bio on the site is also an interesting read.