Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Night of the Living Democrats

Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!
More Halloweenie fun!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Burma And the Aftermath of the Saffron Revolution

Sad how tragic events, like the situation in Burma, quickly fade into oblivion. The outcry of world anger turns to a mere whimper and then promptly vanishes, save for the few lone voices that continue to demand some form of action. The rest settle back into their comfortable lives, satisfied they did something, even if that something did nothing at all.

Perhaps it's our collective feelings of impotence that prompt us to give up so easily and quickly. After all, what can we do as individuals, when our governments (and organizations like the useless U.N.) stand by and do absolutely nothing other than pay lip service to the perpetrators of those tragic events? And frankly, it's far more palatable to bury our heads in the proverbial sand, than to face the evil in the world. We selfishly believe that if we just forget about it, or refuse to acknowledge it, that "it" will somehow cease to exist. However, being in denial does not somehow miraculously ameliorate the suffering people endure under brutal dictatorships. The Burmese people have suffered for decades under a ruthless military junta, and in spite of their recent efforts to affect positive change in their once prosperous now poverty-stricken land, they continue to suffer today. Terribly.

According to a very interesting article on the brutality of the regime on,
"Burma's generals are firmly in control of the country once again. The mere act of listening to a foreign radio station is enough to land a Burmese citizen in prison. Government militias are still dragging regime critics and alleged demonstrators from their homes at night. Pakokku's [where the pro-democracy movement began] three largest monasteries have become military camps, with parked trucks filling the spaces between the monks' quarters. The city's residents look sick and emaciated, and the city itself is little more than a poorhouse today. The once-magnificent steps leading up to the Shweguni Temple have been destroyed. Neighboring residents have removed stones from the structure to build fire pits, where they cook pancakes made of inexpensive rice meal. Few can afford rice."

Typical of socialist and communist dictatorships, the Burmese people are starving while the military leaders of the country prosper, and that's why the monks took to the streets in the first place. The sad irony is that the demonstrations began not as an attempt to bring democracy to a corrupt socialist regime, but because by raising fuel prices the bus fares drastically increased, and people were unable to get to work. People were simply hungry!!

And why did the Junta raise prices to begin with? This is what sickens me the most: according to the same article , other than the generals, there are 10 members "of an expert council of Yangon's chamber of commerce and industry" who are privy to the inner workings of the government.
" When the generals are unsure of what to do next, they consult the council. This panel of wise men includes two former cabinet ministers, as well as businessmen and scientists. Only one member of the group ignores the government's strict ban on talking to journalists."
This one member revealed that the reason gas prices were hiked up, overnight, was because

"The construction of the junta's jungle hideout consumed a sum equal to several annual budgets in this country of 57 million people [snip]. Moreover, to keep the government officials -- many of whom were forced to move -- in good spirits, the generals had to raise their salaries. Lower-ranking bureaucrats received a fivefold increase, while senior officials gave themselves a 1,200 percent pay hike."

"In April 2006, the junta asked the council to provide it with recommendations on whether it could recoup its exorbitant personnel costs through gasoline prices. The council turned down the request, but the junta decided to go ahead with the plan anyway."

This "member" also admitted that, as a result of these recent events, he came to the conclusion
"The generals couldn't care less about the condition of the country, and there are no consultations within the leadership, just the commands of dictator Than Shwe."

He adds
"The country is completely broke. The only option now is a crash landing."
The average Burmese family
"spends more than 70 percent of its meager income -- which is often no more than the equivalent $1 a day -- on food alone. Incomes are dropping and estimates put inflation at more than 90 percent. But there are no exact figures: The government has kept economic statistics under tight wraps since 2001."

Like everything else in that country, we will probably never know the extent of what happened there during the bloody uprising, or the exact numbers of those killed, beaten and arrested, though undoubtedly it is far more than the junta is laying claim to. However, we do know that peaceful monks were beaten until bloodied, and some killed, because they dared to protest an unfair increase in fuel prices- a direct result of gross mismanagement by a bunch of greedy leaders who care more about lining their pockets then making sure their people are fed. So much for the socialist government of Myanmar.

And the junta had the audacity to call the U.S. a bully today! Pot kettle black? Even more pathetic is their claim that the U.S. was responsible for inciting those demonstrations. Yup, blame the U.S. for everything. Why not, everyone else does.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Get The Most When Pumping Gas

I received this information via email, recently, and thought I would share. Considering the amount of money we are all paying at the gas pumps, nationwide, anything to maximize our dollars is extremely welcome. I had heard of some of these recommendations before, but not others, and although I have been unable to confirm whether this legit or not, most of it makes sense.

I've been in petroleum pipeline business for about 31 years, currently working for the Kinder-Morgan Pipeline here in San Jose, CA. We deliver about 4 million gallons in a 24-hour period from the pipeline; one day it's diesel, the next day it's jet fuel and gasoline. We have 34 storage tanks here with a total capacity of 16,800,000 gallons. Here are some tricks to help you get your money's worth:

1. Fill up your car or truck in the morning when the temperature is still cool. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground; and the colder the ground, the denser the gasoline. When it gets warmer gasoline expands, so if you're filling up in the afternoon or in the evening, what should be a gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and temperature of the fuel (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products) are significant. Every truckload that we load is temperature-compensated so that the indicated gallonage is actually the amount pumped. A one-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for businesses, but service stations don't have temperature compensation at their pumps.

2. If a tanker truck is filling the station's tank at the time you want to buy gas, do not fill up; most likely dirt and sludge in the tank is being stirred up when gas is being delivered, and you might be transferring that dirt from the bottom of their tank into your car's tank.

3. Fill up when your gas tank is half-full (or half-empty), because the more gas you have in your tank the less air there is and gasoline evaporates rapidly, especially when it's warm. (Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating 'roof' membrane to act as a barrier between the gas and the atmosphere, thereby minimizing evaporation.)

4. If you look at the trigger you'll see that it has three delivery settings: slow, medium and high. When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to the high setting. You should be pumping at the slow setting, thereby minimizing vapors created while you are pumping. Hoses at the pump are corrugated; the corrugations act as a return path for vapor recovery from gas that already has been metered. If you are pumping at the high setting, the agitated gasoline contains more vapor, which is being sucked back into the underground tank, so you're getting less gas for your money.

Hope this will help ease your 'pain at the pump’.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A little Hillary Humour

H/T Myrepublicanhome

And ..... for the Democrat who has everything (and no I didn't buy it), there's the Hillary nutcracker:

They have dog chews you can buy for a mere $12.95 at, so Rover can have at it:

and even toilet paper, for those so inclined:

Hillary, needless to say, is not the only butt of the political paraphernalia joke items, so to speak, but the only one I'm posting about. Obviously. Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Who Should I Vote for in 2008?" Still wondering?

Still wondering who to vote for in 2008? That question seems to be on everyone's mind, these days, as the elections loom ever closer. Many people are still at a loss, although most know who they won't vote for. And that goes for both sides of the political sphere.

Well, here's another link to another "select a Candidate quiz". Some different questions, some similar to the candidate calculator I posted about earlier, but still rather interesting. This one lists all the various issues that you have in common with each candidate. I was even more amazed at who came up as my number one candidate, this time! No, not a Dem! But I was surprised, to say the least.

This is going to be a very interesting election!

H/T: Beliefs, Blackness and Bollywood

Monday, October 15, 2007

I Survived Opening Week!

This has probably been one of the most exhausting 2 - 1/2 weeks I have experienced in a very, very long time!! Hence, my absence from the blogging scene for a while.

It started with our painfully and terrifyingly abbreviated rehearsal period of 7 days, which would have been fine had I not had the bulk of the dialogue, including many long monologues. It ended, this past week, with our 10/12 (the technical rehearsal where we work 10 out of 12 hours) on Monday, 2nd tech rehearsal and dress on Tuesday night, rehearsal and opening night on Wednesday, 2 student matinees on Thursday and Friday (9 a.m. and 10 a.m. respectively!!!), in addition to, of course, all the evening shows and matinee on Sunday.

Even though I started, as you all know, studying the script prior to my arrival here, and was pretty much "off book" (as we say) for the first rehearsal, I found I was still having a very challenging time retaining all my dialogue. Perhaps it was the early rehearsals, maybe the change in environment, but my brain felt foggy and unfocused. It didn't help that I wasn't sleeping well, although I never do. The character I play also happens to ramble on, endlessly, and is the main focus in the first act, so I was finding that 3/4 of the way through the act my brain would just stop functioning and refuse to remember what came next. Rehearsals (when all the elements are added) help to solidify dialogue, and the more you rehearse the more your lines have time to set. Short rehearsal periods do not afford the opportunity to truly feel comfortable enough that, if you do happen to forget a line, you can at least paraphrase enough to get by, instead of just standing there like a deer in headlights, hoping the truck hits you to put you out of your misery.

So, panic set in when I was having to call for "line" (when the stage manager has to feed you your dialogue) every other line, the weekend before we opened. Not terribly reassuring when you know you won't have that life-line in a few days. So I googled "brain food" and discovered some quite amazing things (that I posted on my Mind, Body, Spirit blog, in case you are interested), which helped tremendously.

As for the "stage fright" I had been experiencing in recent years on opening night: I was told to start taking calcium supplements and a B complex daily, and to eat every few hours on the day of the opening, and it seemed to have helped. Then again, perhaps it was just that I was so profoundly tired I had no energy to feel frightened, but I was certainly very grateful to not feel that panic when the lights go down and you walk on stage.

Now that we got through that first week, we can have fun, both on and off stage! Though the fun on stage will be short-lived as we are done this week.

So, off I go to do some sightseeing today, camera in haul!

Friday, October 12, 2007

JOKE OF THE DAY: Al Gore and U.N. Panel win Nobel Peace Prize

Forced to wake up ultra early, for a student matinee this a.m, I thought my overly tired brain and eyes were playing tricks on me when I saw that the illustrious Al Gore and a U.N. panel had actually won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work on, of all things, Global warming! Al Gore?! The U.N.?! Sigh. Excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.....repeatedly. Just what Gore needs to inflate his already humongous ego: another wholly undeserved award. All this glory, however, might satisfy his ego enough to deter him from making a bid for the ultimate prize: Prez of the U.S. of A., but I'm not so sure, although others are convinced it will. Then again, garnering kudos for 'saving our planet' is far less stressful than trying to save the western world from marauding religious fanatics intent on dragging us back into the dark ages, or into the ground if we refuse to submit. Or whacked-out foreign leaders armed with nuclear weapons, ready, willing and poised to strike. Why would anyone, frankly, want to take on that responsibility?! Then again, power is an aphrodisiac.

And can someone please explain why the Global Warming issue is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize? What has Global Warming to do with Peace, pray tell? There was a petition submitted to the Nobel Committee requesting that the Peace Prize be awarded to the Burmese Buddhist monastic order (Sangha), for their peaceful attempts to bring democracy to their country which would have been a far more deserving group than Gore and the useless U.N. Particularly in light of the fact that there are very differing views, in the scientific community, on the whole Global Warming issue. Apparently, Stewart Dimmock, truck driver and father of 2, sued the British government for distributing to 3,500 schools Global Warming packages which included Gore's film, claiming that

"the former U.S. Vice-President's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, is unfit for schools because it is politically biased and contains serious scientific inaccuracies and 'sentimental mush'."
Although it wasn't outright banned, a U.K. court recently ruled that there are, indeed, 9 inaccuracies in Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" that must be addressed when showing the video to the school kids, along with a disclaimer stating that the film is politically biased:

1. The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.

2. The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.

3. The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.

4. The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.

5. The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.

6. The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.

7. The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.

8. The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.

9. The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.

Others blogging about this joke:
Spanish Pundit

Chatterbox Chronicles


Here's a great commentary in the UK Daily Telegraph

"So Al Gore is the joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Admittedly, he has to share it with the United Nations’ climate change panel - but, even so, I think we need to declare an international smugness alert.The former US Vice-President has already taken over from Michael Moore as the most sanctimonious lardbutt Yank on the planet. Can you imagine what he'll be like now that the Norwegian Nobel committee has given him the prize? More to the point, can you imagine how enormous his already massive carbon footprint will become once he starts jetting around the world bragging about his new title?"
H/T: Jammiewearingfool

Monday, October 08, 2007

Joke of the day: 2 Palestinian Moms

Two Muslim mothers were sitting in a cafe chatting over a pint of goat's milk.

The older of the moms pulled out her bag and started flipping through pictures and reminiscing. "This is my oldest son, Mohamed. He would be 24 now."

The other mom replied, "I remember him as a baby."

To which the older mom responded, "He's a martyr now."

"Oh, so sad, my dear." said the younger mom.

The older mom then flipped to another picture. "And this is my second son, Kali. He would be 21."

"Oh I remember him. He had such curly hair when he was born."

The older mom sighed, "He's a martyr, too."

"Oh gracious me" said the younger mother.

"And this is my third son. My beautiful Ahmed.! He would be 18"

"Yes" her friend interjected enthusiastically, "I remember when he first started school."

"He's a martyr also" the older mom responded with tears in her eyes. After a pause and a deep sigh, the younger Muslim mother looked wistfully at the photos and said:

"They blow up so fast, don't they?"

H/T Theo Spark

Sad, but true, although the joke isn't truly representative of Palestinian mothers, because many actually rejoice at the fact their sons and daughters are martyrs.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Email Virus Alert- Hackers exploit crisis in Burma!!

WARNING: Please be aware, that according to Sophos (a leading anti-virus company) an email purporting to be from the Dalai Lama, supporting the pro-democracy efforts in Burma, is actually a malicious Trojan virus. Do not open, for any reason!!

The email contains the following text:

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

Please find enclosed a massage from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in support of the recent pro-democracy demonstrations taking place in Burma. This is for your information and can be distributed as you see fit.

Best wishes.

Tenzin Taklha Joint
Secretary Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Sophos claims that:

When users open the attached document (filename: hhdl burma_001.doc), it attempts to exploit a Word vulnerability which in turn tries to drop a Trojan horse onto the victim's PC. Sophos proactively detects the malicious document as Exp/1Table-B and the Trojan it tries to install as Agent-CGU.

The email actually links to the Dalai Lamas website, to add legitimacy to the content of the email.

This is the height of vileness: exploiting a humanitarian crisis knowing full well that people will be tempted to open the document in an effort to keep up to date with information regarding the worsening situation in Burma, and to show solidarity with the Burmese people's valiant efforts to bring democracy to their country.

Totally despicable!!