Aunt Lowey's Fair and Balanced Handy-Dandy Blog

Miscellaneous fair and balanced (or balanced and fair, or unbalanced and unfair as the mood strikes) thoughts, links, rants, and cool stuff.
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-- Fred McFeely Rogers, 1928-2003

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Thursday, August 14, 2003
Fair and balanced. Well, someone has to be. It sure as heck ain't that "news" network that claims to have trademarked that phrase... And worse, they claim Franken isn't funny. Guess why the book is called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them? Of course, Faux isn't really lying, not from their POV -- they just don't get the joke. What they refuse to 'fess up to is that the reason why they don't get the joke is that they are the joke.

This flap almost outdoes the California recall election for shallowness and meanspiritedness. Almost.

UPDATE: Yahoo! News and AP report that there are 135 candidates in the California recall/gubernatorial race. The good news is that "nearly half of the 247 applicants were eliminated for filing improper paperwork." The bad news is that there are really 136 candidates counting the guy who's already in there, who was elected last November, and whose term supposedly runs another 3 and a half years. OK, maybe Davis is not a great governor, but part of what he's taking the rap for is Not His Fault, namely the economy. Most if not all of the other 49 states are also having shortfalls. Let's give credit where it's due. Unfortunately we can't recall Dubya.
Sunday, July 06, 2003
In the year 2000:

According to this article that ran in Popular Mechanics the year I was born (actually, the month I was conceived!) within the next fifty years:

-- Electricity is mostly generated by solar power.
-- Average suburban houses are made mostly of concrete, metal and plastic, cost about $5000, and last only about 25 years. They may have pools of water on the roof to help keep the house cool. Housewives use hoses to clean indoors, including furniture and any laundry that's not meant to be disposable.
-- Trans-Atlantic travel is apparently mostly by atomic-powered ocean liners. Rocketships also carry passengers across in about 3 hours, or between New York and San Francisco in about 2 hours, but they are expensive. "Corporation presidents, bankers, ambassadors and rich people in a hurry use the 1000-mile-an-hour rocket planes and think nothing of paying a fare of $5000 between Chicago and Paris." Note that this is the same price as a house.
-- Not only do modern electronic "calculators" forecast the weather, they enable scientists to do something about it -- by spreading oil on the ocean to quell hurricanes.
-- "... sawdust and wood pulp are converted into sugary foods. Discarded paper table 'linen' and rayon underwear are bought by chemical factories to be converted into candy."
-- "Nobody has yet circumnavigated the moon in a rocket space ship, but the idea is not laughed down."
-- "If old Mrs. Underwood, who lives around the corner ... and who was born in 1920 insists on sleeping under an old-fashioned comforter instead of an aerogel blanket of glass puffed with air so that it is as light as thistledown she must expect people to talk about her 'queerness.'"

Actually, there were some things the article got right. Fax machines, for example. Home shopping channels on TV. Microwave ovens. Teleconferencing. And some that were partly right: "Tuberculosis in all of its forms is cured as easily as pneumonia was cured at mid-century.... Wrinkles, sagging cheeks, leathery skins are curiosities or signs of neglect. The span of life has been lengthened to 85.... such virus diseases as influenza, the common cold, poliomyelitis and a dozen others are cured with ease." Computers run machinery at work and predict the weather.

Oil spills don't count, since they aren't on purpose (at least I don't think they are, but I'm naive sometimes) and don't seem to do much to prevent storms.

The idea that computers would do so little, compared to how we actually use them, makes me giggle. What really amused me though is the failure to predict social changes. These are obviously much less predictable than the scientific stuff. The husband goes to work, the wife stays home -- to hose the laundry down, melt the dirty dishes (soluble plastic), order groceries, etc., via the television, and pop the "synthetic" dinner in the microwave, but that's still a full day for her, apparently. And this seems to be a family with no kids. In 1950, already several years into the baby boom, that seems unrealistic to me right there!

Last but perhaps not least: I refuse to comment on "queerness." Changes in the language may be the most unpredictable of all!
Friday, June 06, 2003
God Bless Senator Byrd and the State He Rode In From!

Once again our Senior Senator from the great (and need I mention beautiful) State of West Virginia takes on Dubya and his gang, this time on the WMDs or lack of same:

"What amazes me is that the president himself is not clamoring for an investigation," Byrd said from the floor of the Senate.

"It is his truthfulness that is being questioned. It is his integrity that is on the line," the West Virginia Democrat said.

"Yet he has raised no question, expressed no curiosity, about the strange turn of events in Iraq -- expressed no anger at the possibility that he might have been misled."

(The spacing comes from the news feed, not from me, nor probably from Sen. Byrd.)

And if you missed it, there was a lovely article about him in Time a couple of weeks ago, which I highly recommend.

I admit when I first moved here, I wasn't sure about him, and didn't vote for him at least once. Not that I voted for the R, mind you (and that's assuming there was one. They don't always bother running someone against him); I just skipped that category altogether once or twice. But he's done a lot of good for the state, so I have voted for him the last time or two that he was on the ballot, even when there wasn't an R running against him. (I think last time there was a Libertarian but no Republican candidate. I didn't vote for the L either.)

And I'm glad I did. Lately I'm very glad and very proud that I did!

I also want to note that every time I've called Senator Byrd's office, or e-mailed him, I got a letter -- an actual snail-mail letter -- in reply, just as if I'd bothered to sit down with pen and paper! That courtesy has always impressed me.

FCC actually gets one right! Film at eleven!

An appeals court decision agrees with the FCC that cell-phone users should have the right to keep their phone numbers if they switch carriers. The plaintiff: Verizon.

I like my cell-phone plan right now (AT&T prepaid; I don't use it a lot) and am not planning to switch anytime soon, but this is good to know. The "portability" regulation does not go into effect until Labor Day, for any of you who might decide to take advantage of it.
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
He's not in Ohio?!?!?

More weirdness from Yahoo!News and AP
Reputed Columbus Remains in Spain Exhumed
By CIARAN GILES, Associated Press Writer

MADRID, Spain - A chest containing the supposed remains of Christopher Columbus was exhumed Monday for DNA and other tests to determine whether the bones are really those of the famed explorer.

[There's also an AP Photo of the tomb in Seville with the "medal [sic] box" that may or may not contain Chris' mortal remains.]

The test aims to settle a long debate over where Colombus is buried: in Spain's Seville Cathedral or in a sprawling monument in the Dominican Republic's capital, Santo Domingo.

In the presence of two descendants of Columbus — Jaime and Anunicada Colon de Carvajal — researchers removed two boxes from an ornate tomb at the cathedral in the southern city of Seville. One box is believed to hold the explorer's bones; the other is known to hold those of his son Hernando.

Another box, thought to contain the bones of Colombus' brother Diego, was exhumed close to Seville. All three were taken across southern Spain, with a police escort, to the University of Granada.

"This is possibly the first time the three ever traveled together," joked Marcial Castro, the researcher who launched the project.

In Granada, experts will conduct an array of tests — including DNA analysis — to find out if the two sets of remains in question are related to those of Hernando, whose identity is certain.

Castro says he believes the true bones are in Santo Domingo but adds, "No historian in the world has conclusive proof of where Columbus is buried. That's what we're trying to find out."

{again, I snipped some more of the article}

Maybe, once they figure it out, they can move CC, or at least some of his relatives, to the capital of Ohio, already conveniently named for them.

More strangeness from Somerset County:

From Associated Press via Yahoo!News:

Tons of Booze Dumped on Farm
Mon Jun 2,12:19 AM ET

MEYERSDALE, Pa. - State environmental officials are considering levying fines and other penalties against whoever dumped more than 145,000 cases of stagnant rum at a western Pennsylvania farm.

Thousands of cases of discontinued Captain Morgan Gold was found piled on a farm in Elk Lick Township, about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh near the Maryland border.

"This was a significant mess," Stan Whitsel, a state Department of Environmental Protection supervisor, told The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown in Sunday's editions. "It was a bad situation just waiting to get worse."

(I snipped the rest; they did clean it up!)

I'm wondering what sort of weird karma Somerset County has and how it got it. First there was Flight 93, then the Quecreek miners, now this! (Well, and my parents eloping there, but that's a long time ago.) Somerset County is really a very nice and very beautiful place. You'd just never know it from the news.

Monday, May 19, 2003
Molly Ivins' column on the Texas Legislature's latest weirdness,Putting the Legislature out of our misery, contains this quote which illustrates, even more than the embarrassment to Pennsylvania that is Rick Santorum, the level of -- I was going to say "thinking", but that's definitely not what's happening; I guess "ideology" will have to suffice, especially since "ideo-" bears a resemblance to "idiot" -- that seems to pass for "logic" in the Republican party these days.

This piece of something that can't possibly have involved sentience comes from Debbie Riddle, a state legislator from Houston: "Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell."

To start with, Debbie apparently flunked American history. Free education has been around since colonial times, at least in some places (the Boston Latin School opened in 1635, and gave rise to such well-known Communists as Benjamin Franklin), and became widespread in the 1800s, when Russia still had Tsars and serfdom.

Debbie's no whiz at geography either. Last time I heard, hell was supposed to be hot, a description that does not fit Moscow, but does fit Texas to a T. It certainly was hotter'n hell the times I've been to Texas, where, by the way, my cousins, nieces, and nephews all went to public schools.

In fact, that kangaroo in Austria probably had a better grasp on reality than Debbie, Rick, and some of their fellow Rs seem to. It just didn't know how to duck cars.

Thursday, May 15, 2003
Proof that kangaroos can't spell (and aren't too good at geography either):

Kangaroo Dies in Hit-and-Run in Austria

Yes, Austria. Not that bigger place with an "ali" in it.

"A police officer in Steyr," a town described as "100 miles west of Vienna", "said that coming across a kangaroo - dead or alive - was 'extremely uncommon around here.'" I would think.
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Yahoo! News - Two Asteroids Collided, Showered Earth with Debris

Note the past tense.

"In ancient marine sediments across a large swath of southern Sweden, researchers found sand-sized grains of the mineral chromite that are low in iron, a sign of extraterrestrial origin. The stuff appears to have fell [sic] from the sky about 480 million years ago."

So you can relax: it wasn't recently! And unlike some other asteroid strikes of note, this one does not seem to be related to any mass extinctions.

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