Monday, May 31, 2004

The Big Day in SD

If anyone in South Dakota is reading this, please, PLEASE go vote for Stephanie Herseth tomorrow...

watch this site for completely non-comprehensive coverage Tuesday (i.e. whatever I can find from actual news sources)
Hong Kong March Marks Tiananmen Killings

"This year's protests marking the 15th anniversary were more highly charged because Beijing last month ruled out direct elections for the territory in coming years..."

Sunday, May 30, 2004

livin' cheap the Goodwill way

My finds today:

  • a dust buster
  • a tall skinny CD rack. Small apartment living means think vertically
  • a VHS copy of U2's Rattle And Hum movie. VHS movies are a bargain these days as people dump stuff and replace it on DVD. Just like vinyl ten or 15 years ago.
  • an old back heating pad. In ugly 70s brown and white, without new-fashioned safety shutoff stuff
  • a Magic 8 Ball
  • Friday, May 28, 2004

    ISS - Visible Passes

    A couple nice, near-overhead passes tonight and Sunday.

    UPDATE: Caught the 9:36 pass tonight despite hazy skies.

    Thursday, May 27, 2004

    Poll: McCain/Kerry Ticket A Winner

    All 'Nam, All The Time...

    I don't like this but it's not actually gonna happen. I'm more worried about Gephardt (All Dull All The Time).

    But even though McCain keeps saying no, No. NO, he's NOT jumping up and down yelling Bush, BUSH, BUSH!.

    What will kill the John and John Dream Ticket story is a big rally in Phoenix with Bush and McCain in the traditional Victory Team tableau, hands joined, arms raised in the air. Followed up by a McCain Express tour for Bush.

    And I'll bet a maxed-out contribution that Dubya is BEGGING for it even as I blog.

    Notice that since The End, Dean has said and done everything a Good Little Donkey is supposed to say and do for Kerry. Is McCain doing what Good Elephants should do? If not, why not? Well, we KNOW why not. You don't BOARD a sinking ship...
    I'm now completely in the local election bubble and have lost all capacity to remark on bigger world events. So let's just get a Deeth update.

    A dozen plants are beginning to inch up the pole bean fence. I replanted four or so slots where the seads didn't sprout. The scattered old seeds are popping up all over and aggressive thinning is underway. Dill seems to be winning the race. Whatever sprouts is better than actual weeds. Those helicopter-seeded tree things are pretty fertile...

    I decided a few months ago NOT to upgrade my cable to get HBO for the Sopranos season. I figured for the price of three months of HBO I could BUY the DVD set. So it's been a challenge not to hear what's going on. Well, in the last couple days I heard The Big One. I had the character at Number One on my Most Likely To Get Whacked list (was pretty easy), and it seemed a foregone conclusion after news reports of other developments in the performer's career. Still, woulda been nice to see it.

    Just found out one of my old pals is running for office in another state. Wrong party but he's a good guy and it's a solid GOP district. So if you're gonna have a Republican anyway, at least get a good one. So in the first Republican endorsement in the history of this blog, everyone in Michigan House District 100 should vote for Libants. (this offer is only good through the primary, ha ha ha)

    And I upgraded the picture page with some nephew/niece pictures from last weekend's family reunion. Check it out if you care - and who ARE you people reading me, anyway?

    Wednesday, May 26, 2004

    Poll puts Herseth in lead

    Herseth leads Diedrich 52 percent to 41 percent, according to a poll of 503 likely voters conducted May 19 and 20...
    The Onion: Fed-Up Cheney Enters Presidential Race Himself

    "I don't have enough time in my day to spend half of it cleaning up George's mistakes," Cheney said. "I'd rather be preparing strategy for the next couple of wars. Those things don't just plan themselves."

    Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    I finally took it down

    The Dean sign went up in my window last July. It stayed there through the Sleepless Summer, through Bat after Bat after Bat, through the heady frontrunner days of the fall. It faded just a bit as January approached, through the attack ads and the Harkin endorsement and the Perfect Storm and the glorious night-before caucus rally at the IMU and third place and YEAAAAAH! and months and months of "what happened? We were picking running mates in December, what happened?"

    After it all ended in Wisconsin I just couldn't bear to take it down. I'm not the only one, the Dean signs are still scattered around town.

    I knew that I'd do it the way I do haircuts. Impulsively, spur of the moment, now or forget it.

    This evening I got a sign for one of my primary candidates. I struggled just a bit with the mini-blinds, then I replaced it.

    The Dean bumper sticker stays on the car.
    Uncooperative Hair May Be Genetic

    My definition of "cooperative hair" is "hair that stays in my head"

    Monday, May 24, 2004

    Call the Church Police

    "Voting for politicians who support such un-Catholic practices as abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia and stem-cell research is essentially a sin, according to Bishop Michael Sheridan, head of Colorado's second-largest diocese in Colorado Springs..."

    Last I checked sinners were in the majority!

    Argus Leader - Editorials

    "Herseth is the choice"...

    Friday, May 21, 2004

    Road Trip

    Might not be an update for a couple days. Off to the annual Deeth family reunion in Chicago. With the folks still in Onalaska, Brian in Michigan and me here in Iowa, that's the best central location.

    I get to meet my newest niece for the first time and be the goofy free-spirit uncle. Unfortunately my own kid won't be with me. Roommate Lite is watching the cats (and my TV).

    So I'll leave you with the latest garden update: ten nice healthy bean sprouts. The Romanos aren't sprouting yet but we'll see in a couple days.

    Thursday, May 20, 2004

    Kerry meets Nader, but doesn't ask him to quit

    Hm. That's more than Gore ever did...

    The aide said the two candidates spent the rest of the meeting talking about their common fights against corporate welfare and for consumer and abortion rights. The aide said they did not discuss the Iraq war.

    “It’s my intention to speak very directly to those people who voted for Ralph Nader last time. I believe my campaign can appeal to them and frankly reduce any rationale for his candidacy.” - John Kerry

    Let's hope so. As for me, John Kerry is not Al Gore, Joe Lieberman or George Bush and that'll have to be enough.

    I'd still like a troop withdrawal date, though.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2004

    The Boys of Strummer

    Just biking home and saw a fellow who couldn't have been more than 19 wearing a t-stirt of the Clash's first album cover. I hollered over "nice shirt" but he either didn't hear me or ignored me.

    Back about the time he was born, when I was roughly his age, Don Henley was roughly the age I am now. He watched his generation age and sell out or buy in however you want to call it, and summed it up in the indelible image of a Deadhead sticker on a Caddilac.

    I have become my generation's version of that guy, driving my van with this on the back:

    Last year Joe Strummer died in his sleep after walking his dog, two months after my other political hero crashed in the forests of Minnesota. And some nu-metal band covered "The Boys of Summer."

    I never will forget those nights
    I wonder if it was a dream
    Remember how you made me crazy
    Remember how I made you scream

    More wattage but less impact than the original. A wistful, slowed down version of "Working for the Clampdown" would have been better. You might say I'm a wistful, slowed down version. I sure hope I'm not.

    At least they could have changes the Deadhead line to "I saw a bald old man/with a punk rock sticker on a mini-van." That would have been more generationally apropos AND they could have sent me royalties.

    Half a dozen beanlets pokin' through the Iowa soil today. The thunderstorm last night didn't do any damage.

    Monday, May 17, 2004

    Side order of bean sprouts

    A garden update from the smallest farm in Iowa: my first bean is poking up out of the soil, proving that the two years in storage didn't hurt the seed. I also have lots of little sprouts of who knows what popping up. I scattered assorted herb and flower seeds, some dating back to 1999, around just to see what happens.

    And there's a fungus among us: mushrooms are popping up around one of my giant boulders. I told the guys downstairs they were welcome to check them out to see if they were the special kind. The said they wouldn't know anything about that. Oh well, they don't look like morels either.

    It's getting close enough to our June 8 primary that I'm developing that tunnel vision I get in election season. I have no idea what's going on in the larger world but I know a whole lot about the Johnson County Sheriff's race...

    Meanwhile, my hit counter keeps spinning but no one says hi, no one comments, no one emails (over there, to your left...) The hits are probably just search engine spiders or people searching for some political artice and I was the only one who linked to it. I'm reasonably confident it's not Nicole or Jodie, and Stephanie is busy the next couple of weeks.
    Håppÿ Syttende Måi

    Håve söme lütefisk
    Kerry Praises Gephardt in Effort to Win Over Teamsters

    "As Kerry courted one of the unions most skeptical about his presidential candidacy with promises to enforce the nation's trade agreements, the group's president, James P. Hoffa, offered a simple hint about how to win over his members: tap Representative Richard A. Gephardt as a running mate..."

    After the sliming in Iowa, this would be a big, BIG problem for the Deaniacs. And it would be really hard to get anyone under 60 excited about Kerry-Gephardt.

    It would be nice payback for Dick: He took one for the team in Iowa, killing us Deanics off but destroying himself in the process.

    But everything that happens now is so far over our little local heads that our influence is nil.

    So I'll just make a stereotypical joke:

    How many Teamsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

    Oh, I don't know, how many Teamsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?



    Youse gotta problem wid dat?


    Someone seems to have objected to the joke above, as I have just received a package

    Sunday, May 16, 2004

    Crowds Gather for Gay Weddings in Mass.

    "We came here because I've been waiting seven years and I don't want to wait another day, another second."

    "Like fans anxious for concert tickets, same-sex couples waited in line for hours Sunday outside Cambridge's City Hall for an event they once thought they'd never get to experience: marriage."

    It's a great day tomorrow, and I don't just mean because of Syttende Mai.
    "Democrat" (sic) Miller rips Kerry in speech to the GOP

    "Sen. Zell Miller, the Bush campaign's most famous Democratic (sic)attack dog, called John Kerry an "out-of-touch, ultraliberal from Taxachusetts" in a speech before Georgia Republicans on Saturday.

    Miller, the lone Democratic (sic) senator publicly backing Bush, made the remarks during a Bush-Cheney grass-roots event at the state Republican convention, where he was greeted as a hero..."

    See, that's one advantage of a parliamentary system. You can throw an SOB like Zell Miller out of the party.
    Klebolds Say They Don't Need Forgiveness

    Tom Klebold said they hope to understand someday why the shooting happened.

    "We're not qualified to sort this out. People need to understand this could have happened to them," he said.

    The Klebolds said their son was set off by the "toxic culture" of the school, where athletes were worshipped and bullying was tolerated.

    Jefferson County Public Schools officials have consistently denied that bullying was tolerated or that athletes received special treatment....

    Saturday, May 15, 2004

    Jerry Springer Named Democratic Delegate


    "Springer, who was the mayor of Cincinnati before hosting the raunchy "The Jerry Springer Show," was named Democrat of the Year by the state party last weekend. He was named Friday as one of 159 delegates and 24 alternates from Ohio at the convention July 26-29..."

    "He's made 50 appearances at Democratic events this year. He's been an outspoken advocate for the party," said Dan Trevas, spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party.

    Friday, May 14, 2004

    Steve King: Abuse amounts to "hazing"

    "What amounts to hazing is not even in the same ballpark as mass murder," said King, who has gained a reputation as an outspoken conservative in the Iowa Legislature and in Congress.

    "If Tom Harkin and his Democrat allies want to continue to act like political cannibals and pitch partisan hooey to anyone who'll listen, then they're eating their own," said King...

    Ah, Steve King. Iowa's own little Bob Dornan. The sad thing is he's got the only truly safe Republican district in the state. But I'm sure there's some decent moderate elephants out west who are tired of this buffoon. If so, please, PLEASE start getting ready for the 2006 primary.

    Thursday, May 13, 2004

    Berg Father Blames Bush

    "My son died for the sins of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. This administration did this."

    Wednesday, May 12, 2004

    The space station is back

    Weather looks poor but if we get a break in the clouds here's the Iowa City times. The two tomorrow are the best.

    5/12 09:34:20pm
    5/13 03:58:21am
    5/13 10:03:21pm
    5/14 04:27:41am
    5/14 08:57:11pm
    5/14 10:32:59pm
    Godzilla Vs. Coralville

    OK. Now that I've figured out posting pictures I'll restate my point of April 19th.

    Coralville Rainforest

    Mothra Incubator

    Tuesday, May 11, 2004

    The Single Woman Vote

    "As a group, unmarried women tend to have liberal views on social issues such as abortion, gun control and gay rights, pollsters say. When single women vote, they generally vote Democratic. Many analysts predict that registering single women -- and then getting them to vote -- could result in a big payoff for Democrats."

    It's also a socially acceptable way to ask single women for their phone numbers. Any volunteers, guys?
    Head chopping and a sense of history

    This is very very bad.

    “So we tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls. You will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins ... slaughtered in this way.”

    This will be very very bad for a long long time.

    Americans have no sense of history. We are a baby nation, with only 500 years of History That Counts (the White European Kind). We don't get that in most of the world, 1000 years ago is last week. We have Fake Presidents who use the word "crusade" and don't get why it's offensive. (The very root word of crusade is cross.)

    We will be paying for the prison torture for 500 years. And it's not "a few bad apples" that did it. Punishing them will do no good, because to history it's AMERICA that did this.

    I hear this a lot from white Americans arguing against, say, slavery reparations or Native treaty rights "It's not MY fault. I didn't do it. Why should I have to pay?" There's a disconnect between history and present injustices.

    The Germans get it.

    There's only one thing we can do:

    Start an immediate Manhattan Project of energy independence. Then get the hell out of that part of the world.
    The feline apartment tour

    OK. I made a pictures page. Like anyone is gonna want to look.

    And worse yet I posted pictures of my CATS. Not that they aren't cute cats. But I am officially entering Personal Web Page Hell. And if you're reading this I'm taking you there with me.

    Why does Johnny blog anyway? It feels kind of like the overnight radio days when I would stay up all night playing dusty old country songs. At 4 AM every old country song sounds like The Great Speckled Bird, and you just start to wonder if ANYONE is listening.

    Since I can't write anything longer than a post-it note these days this medium seems to work. It also has the advantage of not taking two years to write. The instant gratification of blogging beats the endless slog of academia. I decided I didn't want to spend my life becoming the world's expert on the head of a pin, pushing myself to write a journal article that only six experts in my field would - or could - read.

    Didn't want to do that. Wanted to teach.

    I go back and look at papers I wrote during that great expensive dead-end era of grad school. I remember writing the papers. I remember reading the books I cited. But I literally can't understand what I wrote. My brain is in a completely different condition now. It's like a long distance runner and a weightlifter. Both are highly trained and conditioned athletes, but the nature of the conditioning - strength vs. endurance - is not comparable.

    I never really dropped out. I just took a semester off to work on a campaign.

    I'm now finishing my 23rd consecutive semester off. (Of course, I still have the lifestyle of a grad student...)

    With politics, you know what you're accomplishing. It has a final score like a ball game. You win. You lose. You try again. Of course, the stakes are real, but that makes it more engaging, and gives you reason to spend your life on it. It matters to everyone, whether they admit it or not, and you don't gather dust in the bound periodicals section. Why play academic politics when you can play REAL politics?

    Now whether or not blogging about it - and remember, this started with pictures of my cats - is doing anyone any good, you decide.

    I'm still trying to get used to the new Blogger interface. The handydandy Blog This! shortcut seems to be not working for me tonight. I DO see that Blogger has added a comments feature. I'll have to see if I like it better than HaloScan's one that I was using. I, uh, guess you can comment on that, huh.

    Sunday, May 09, 2004

    JD and the beanstalks

    I never got that Jack and the Beanstalk story until I grew pole beans. I though beans were just little short things. I think it was 1996 - Garden Number Three - that I first tried pole beans. Then I understood how someone could imagine beans growing to the sky.

    The fence this year is 9 1/2 feet tall. The tallest fence I've ever built, though I had taller beans in 1998's Garden Number Five when they started growing up the second story porch at Bachelor Apartment One.

    Three kinds of beans this year, all grown from saved seed from Garden Number Nine (2002, the last Brookside Drive garden). Kentucky Wonders, the classic pole bean; purple pods (they turn green when ya cook em); and Italian Romanos. Didn't have room for the long Asian Beans which I haven't grown since Garden Number Seven in 2000.

    No one ever called me Jack except myself. It was a briefly used pen name back in grad school, when I was one of about 10 TAs on the entire campus and TAs were mildly controversial.

    Anyway I should be picking beans by the end of July. Stay tuned.
    Florida's Harris Forgets to Sign Ballot

    Cosmic justice:

    "Rep. Katherine Harris, the former Florida secretary of state who oversaw the disputed 2000 presidential election, admits she's responsible for a vote going uncounted - her own. Harris forgot to sign her absentee ballot when she voted in Longboat Key's local election March 9..."

    The crops are planted

    Well, most of them anyway. It's not much compared to my past gardens but after a year off it feels like 40 acres and a mule.

    Two eggplants

    one classic big round kind and one long skinny Asian kind. Surrounded by catnip to keep the nasty flea beetles away.

    Three peppers: two kinds of red sweet peppers and one cherry pepper. No hot stuff, I still have three jars of canned jalapenos.

    Three tomatos: my old standby Better Boy, a Roma for tomato sauce, and a pink variety for my daughter.

    Then I scattered some aging flower and herb seeds around to see if any are hardy enough to germinate.

    The beans are soaking; tomorrow I build the fence and plant 'em. Should be eating beans by the end of July.

    Still need to hit the landlord up about the place where I want to do sunflowers...

    Hot and humid today. Good for growing plants. Not so good for furry creatures like me and my feline roommates. Of course they are smart enough to stay inside and sleep instead of playing in dirt.

    I've done a lot of stuff lately to make this blog more noticable and to see if anyone is reading it. I'm not sure if I want to go as far as adding interesting content, however.

    Friday, May 07, 2004

    DRAFT REGISTRATION: United States Armed Forces

    Dark humor for dark times... unless you're a 20 something guy and then it's not funny at all.

    George W: The worst of Reagan's itchy trigger finger and the worst of Nixon's paranoia, all in one package.
    The all-important vacant lot vote

    It's spring here in the People's Republic of Johnson County and lawns everywhere are blooming with yard signs.

    I have no yard anymore but if I did it would look like this and this. And one more too. I do have a window but I just can't bear to take down my faded Dean sign.

    One constant irritant of campaigns in this town is the classic yard sign on a vacant lot. Makes me wonder if there are some invisible voters living there. And since vacant lots are often on the market, you get the amusing juxtaposition of signs:


    (A great Louisiana politician once said "My vote is not for sale, but it can be rented.")

    Thursday, May 06, 2004

    Rumsfeld Under Fire Over Iraq Photos

    "Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, became the first in Congress to demand Rumsfeld's resignation. He called for Rumsfeld's ouster "for the good of our country, the safety of our troops, and our image around the globe."

    "If he does not resign forthwith, the president should fire him," said Harkin, whose statement came as White House spokesman Scott McClellan said President Bush "absolutely" wants his defense secretary to remain in office...."

    Hm. Let's take care of both of them in six months...

    Wednesday, May 05, 2004

    A Kerry Landslide?

    "In the last 25 years, there have been four elections which pitted an incumbent against a challenger--1980, 1984, 1992, and 1996. In all four, the victor won by a substantial margin in the electoral college. The circumstances of one election hold particular relevance for today: 1980. That year, the country was weathering both tough economic times and frightening foreign policy crises. Indeed, this year Bush is looking unexpectedly like Carter.

    Everyone expected the 1980 election to be very close. In fact, Reagan won an electoral avalanche of 489 to 49. The race was decided not so much on the public's nascent impressions of the challenger, but on their dissatisfaction with the incumbent..."

    Monday, May 03, 2004

    My sistër wås bittën by a møøsë

    Monty Python's 'Life Of Brian' Being Rereleased:

    "It's shameless commercial opportunism on our part'' - Terry Jones

    "The Swedes regard the Norwegians as having no sense of humor, and as it was banned in Norway the Swedish distributor ran a line that read, 'This film is so funny it was banned in Norway!'''

    Small Donors Grow Into Big Political Force

    Hmph. The name "Dean" does not appear till paragraph 17...