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getting older

My 42nd New Year. (Keep in mind my first year was only 43 days long)

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I’m not going to start this blog with an apology about how rarely I blog. If I were hitting you everyday and apologizing each time, it would not change the fact that I hit you every day, would it? No. So let us just not speak of it at all.

I am one of those people who spends some time reflecting on New Year’s Eve. I don’t want to be. I have tried not to be. No getting around it, I just am. I’m not severe about it. I mean, I’m not kicking myself all night for not being who I thought I would be when I daydreamed in middle school. Much. Mostly, I take a quick inventory and try to motivate myself to go in one direction or another.

The first time I remember really putting any thought into it I was six months past college graduation and waiting tables at Cha Cha Coconuts. [Read more →]

politics & governmenttrusted media & news

Gary Johnson goes Libertarian

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politics & governmenttravel & foreign lands

2011: The Year in Dictators

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The year 2011 was an alarming one for dictators, as a series of mass uprisings toppled several authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. The so-called “Arab Spring” inspired wild hopes, with some optimists even declaring that the 20th century phenomenon of the dictator was finished, and a new era of democracy was dawning- just like in Eastern Europe in 1989. True? False? Let’s survey the Year in Dictators and find out! [Read more →]

animalsenvironment & nature

Extraordinary Snowbirds

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Here, in Texas, we have an annual influx of ‘snowbirds’ … large masses of gente norteña fleeing the winter weather ‘up north’ to enjoy a season of clear skies and milder temperatures ‘down south.’ It’s a long and time-honored tradition … for many years, my great-grand-aunt and uncle made their own annual migration from Leisuretown, New Jersey down to the sun and surf of Florida. And it’s also a tremendous economic boon to parts of Texas that enjoy an annual influx of cash in return for all things leisure – goods, services, opportunities, you name it.

Not all snowbirds travel to Texas by R.V. … and it is THEY who provide US an opportunity, a chance to observe something not-often-seen in these parts of the U.S. Here’s a shot I took of two extraordinary snowbirds in Llano County, Texas, this past week. Regular visitors in the process of raising a brood of future snowbirds.

books & writing

Lisa reads Getting Off by Lawrence Block

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I was really looking forward to reading this book! From the minute it arrived, it sat on the shelf, in the To Be Read pile, and whispered to me every time I walked by. You could tell by the cover that it was going to be racy. There was also the subtitle, “A Novel of Sex & Violence”, to give you a clue. And the publisher — Hard Case Crime. Doesn’t that just sound like it’s going to be a great book? And Lawrence Block’s Getting Off did not disappoint.

This is a novel about a female serial killer, but a woman so interesting that sometimes you forget just what she is. She picks up men in bars, takes them home and has sex with them, then she drugs them and kills them. She takes their money, their credit cards, whatever she needs to pay her bills. When she gets bored, she moves on — new city, new neighborhood, new name. She’s been doing some version of that since she left home (and believe me, her leaving home was a story in itself). [Read more →]

politics & government

About that revolution…

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Aldous Huxley’s nightmare has finally taken the shape of things to come.

As the New Year dawns, the future are us.

I don’t blame my generation entirely for the horror of it all. This on-going collapse of civilization was actually begun by our grandparents during the 1910’s with Woodrow Wilson, the Princeton smarty who set in motion the Federal Income Tax (the state expropriation of private property), The Federal Reserve (State control over the money supply), The Clayton Anti-trust Act (State control over business), and the Farm Loan Act (State Control over agriculture), and then entered us in the First World War after promising not to. This was the same generation that passed Prohibition as a Constitutional Amendment, and then repealed it when their good intentions went awry, thus making that founding document no more serious than a city ordinance. [Read more →]

religion & philosophythat's what he said, by Frank Wilson

Sweeping your way to truth

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My last column served up a modest proposal regarding the philosophy curriculum, suggesting that larval philosophers supplement logic with the experience of making meatloaf.

I’d like to continue in that vein with a further suggestion: That they try to arrange, from time to time, to fill in for the janitor.

I am not being frivolous. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Philly sportswriter Bill Conlin accused of child molestation

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Bill Conlin, a legendary sportswriter for the Philadelphia Daily News, was accused of sexual abuse this week by a number of people, all claiming to have been abused back in the seventies. Four people, including one of Conlin’s nieces, accused the writer early in the week, and several others have come forward since, all claiming that he touched them when they were children. Unlike many other situations like this, these kids or witnesses to the events actually told their parents what happened. Across the board, those parents chose to try to handle the situation themselves rather than go to the police. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingtelevision

Top ten least watched holiday specials

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10. So You Think You Can Wassail

9. I Saw Uncle Charlie Kissing Santa Claus

8. The Littlest Angel: You’re Gonna Do What With That Christmas Tree?!

7. When Elves Attack

6. How the Grinch Got Green Genital Warts

5. Sheep in Heavenly Fleece

4. America’s Funniest Home Videos Nutcracker

3. Frosty the Hypothermia Victim

2. It’s a Wonderful Life for the One Percent

1. The Black Friday Special: Assault & Pepper Spray
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

politics & government

The Christmas morning letdown

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moneyon the law

A cave with a sunset view

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Maybe we shouldn’t have the end of the year during the holidays. Yes, it is one of the holidays itself but maybe they are too concentrated here on the long tail of the annum. Legislative and other periods link to the end of the calendar year causing deadlines to loom just when offices are empty or emptying. Once phones rang unanswered from Thanksgiving Wednesday to January 2nd. Now they roll over to voice. Which is more cruel? There are a few folks still on the job although they eye the clock nervously and jostle their keys. They are trying to “get things done” and whatever that means it apparently means the same thing two days before Christmas as it means on any other day at the Capitol and the White House. [Read more →]

art & entertainment

Christmas eve, babe, in the drunk tank…

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I generally hate Christmas music. Happy, happy, joy, joy — elves, lollypops and sugarplums. I am looking for a Bluegrass or Rock version of the Messiah. A goth or punk version would be fun too.

Not that there aren’t some great Christmas songs. A lot of them are in Latin or German, and reflect emotions other than “oh boy, oh boy, this is gonna be great!” They reflect a sense of yearning, hope and melancholy. [Read more →]

religion & philosophy

The chocolate cake of negativity

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We are living through some pretty dark times. The economy continues to be horrendous with the middle class going through the toughest challenges it’s ever had to face. To make matters worse, natural disasters are becoming more powerful and frequent than ever before, the uprisings in the Middle East are bringing unprecedented instability to the region, and if these “end of days” scenarios weren’t enough, the Maya, Nostradamus, and others all actually predicted the end of the world in 2012. It’s not like this is anything you haven’t heard on the media or from others dozens of times before. The funny thing? None of it’s true. Lately, we’ve been hearing and accepting dozens of statistics like these without question. It’s a sinfully delicious dessert the entire world seems to be stuffing themselves with: the chocolate cake of negativity. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose

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You start out feeling very sorry for Lucian Glass. He’s late picking up his girlfriend; she ends up dead. He meets with an important witness; he gets bashed over the head and the witness ends up dead. He has nightmares, compulsions, crippling headaches. But what if it is all his fault? What if this is all related to his past…his past lives.

In The Hypnotist, Lucian Glass is a member of the FBI’s Art Crime Team. He is caught up in the case of Malachi Samuels, a renowned reincarnationist who is searching for Memory Tools, artifacts which may finally prove that reincarnation exists and help us access our past lives. [Read more →]

moneypolitics & government

The plague of skooch

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Media automation and access sometimes still let you down. There was an excellent video on the local news which I cannot find a link for. If only I had taken the lo-tech approach when it aired and scribbled down a few notes or at least written the channel on my arm. A more practical explanation of the predicament is here but I will try to reproduce the irony and agony of the original piece that we might call The Pie-man Learns About Free Money. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Albert Pujols’ wife makes him look bad

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Free agency gives players an opportunity to go out on the open market and get as much money as they can get. It also allows them to choose the city in which they will live and play half of their games each season. Considering how short the average professional sports career is (roughly 3.5 years for NFL players, for example, according to ABC News), I am in full support of players getting everything they can get. Unfortunately, new contracts also give players an opportunity to talk about why they chose to move on from their last team, and more often than not, it seems to me, the explanations simply cause problems. The most recent massive contract went to Albert Pujols, the new first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (how’s that for a name?), who signed a 10-year, $254 million contract. He left the St. Louis Cardinals, for whom he had played for the first eleven years of his spectacular career. In this case, the silly interview that occurred afterward was actually with Pujols’ wife Deidre, for some reason. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten signs Santa is mad at you

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10. Instead of ‘Naughty’ or ‘Nice’ you’re on his ‘Asshole’ list

9. He leaves a note saying, “You better watch out! You better not cry! You better not shout while I’m torturing you!”

8. He smears reindeer poop all over your drapes

7. Your biggest gift is Newt Gingrich’s To Save America

6. He pours eggnog into your Christmas stocking

5. You’re constantly being tripped by sinister-looking elves

4. As he drives out of sight, he exclaims, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night…except you, you bastard!”

3. All the candy canes he leaves you contain fish hooks

2. Instead of ‘jolly’ you’d have to describe his demeanor as ‘malevolent’

1. When you try to sit on his lap, he jumps out of the way
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

Russia, Egypt, Europe and the wind of change

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Sometime around the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a long period of abject Western media failure regarding the Putin phenomenon began. Journalists were so busy making fatuous comparisons to Stalin or hyping The New Cold War™ that they refused to address why the president was so popular in Russia. I suspect this is because many of them missed the 1990s, when Americans and Europeans had enjoyed near godlike status. Yeltsin had been no catastrophe for them, even if he was for 99.99% of everybody else.

However, Putin was genuinely popular and until a few weeks ago seemed unassailable. A generous man might read this as proof of success: that life in Russia has improved to the point where citizens are no longer willing to accept corruption in exchange for stability. When I lived in Russia, I attended some entirely futile anti-government rallies comprised of pensioners, punks and nationalists; the latest protests are larger, much more diverse and the Kremlin obviously hasn’t decided what to do about them…yet. [Read more →]

moneyrace & culture

Le taunt francais surs touts le monde!

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In days of old when knights were bold the French used to call being gay, The British Disease. Of course the yobs called it The French Complaint. With today’s accusations against the Brits from the French, it amounts to a similar near stalemate. France is pushing back on the ratings agencies warning that their Triple A is about to be cut. Mes amis, cut them, not us, you know why? Blah blah. It’s the classic diverting behavior of the addict, in this case the addiction is to printing money. And that is one I can understand quite well. I’m about ten stitches away from running off a few Benjis myself at the Kinko’s. But it doesn’t “work” for me or them in that the practice, like treating anemia with leeches, makes the underlying conditions of which the downgrades and high borrowing costs are a symptom, fatally worse.

But the ratings agencies DO have it right, at least in regards to France vs Britain. Sarkozy’s peeps point to minor advantages they have over Cameron’s crew on macro numbers like debt:GDP, total size and overall growth. The margins are not impressive although some of it was surprising. I thought Britain had more growth than France even now but nothing goes with snark like a bit of cherry picking which I’m not about to try to rubbish piecemeal.

The reason France is clearly a worse credit risk than the UK is obvious. [Read more →]

politics & government

Slow and steady wins the race

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