Monday, February 28, 2011

This is where the party ends

Happy end-of-the-month, boys and girls. I have deliberately laid low for the past couple of days, due to the invasion of my blog by white supremacists. I did not argue with them or in any way aggravate them; I just waited for them to leave.

To Review: my post about the lynching of Willie Earle was linked on the highest-traffic white supremacist website in the USA. (I will not name the website here, but I did name it in the comments on my Willie Earle post.) And after that, it was linked on a lesser-known, but far more rabid (!) racist site. Admittedly, it spooked me pretty bad. As regular readers may recall, I grew up hearing a lot of that stuff, and it makes me profoundly nauseated, as well as generally freaked-out and scared. (Yes, I'm sure it's all terribly Freudian, as well as political.)

Can you believe there are people who would defend lynching?

In any event, I waited until their copious hits died down, and now it's safe to go back into the water, so to speak.

It's important to remember: they are out there. Anonymous, quiet, observing, interacting with all of us as if they are decent people. Be aware.


Did anyone read that recent Wall Street Journal article about how all these different animals are now classified as "service animals"?

This includes some guy's iguana, if you can believe it:

Last summer, after Ocean Park, Md., resident Joseph Wayne Short began walking Hillary, his four-foot-long iguana on the boardwalk, the city council passed an ordinance prohibiting undomesticated animals from mingling with the public, according to City Solicitor Guy Ayres.

Mr. Short fought back. He plunked down $64 to place Hillary on the Internet-based National Service Animal Registry, a private company that, among other things, sells service-animal credentials.

On the company website, where Hillary's picture and registration number is displayed, it says under service type: unspecified. But Mr. Short, who couldn't be reached for comment, has told people that Hillary keeps him calm.

"The gentleman claimed that the iguana was his service animal, so I am not sure the police looked into it further," Mr. Ayres says.

The registry didn't return repeated phone calls for comment.

Cosmie Silfa, in San Francisco, also has a "service iguana." His name is Skippy. Mr. Silfa takes him on the bus and walks him in a local park.

"He cradles him like a baby, a big scary baby," says Roy Mair, who works the front desk of the subsidized housing unit where Mr. Silfa lives. Mr. Silfa says what qualifies Skippy as a service animal is a letter from the psychiatrist who has been treating Mr. Silfa for depression. The letter says Skippy "helps him to maintain a stable mood."
I had no idea there was a controversy developing over this kind of thing. Beginning March 15, the Americans With Disabilities Act will only recognize dogs as service animals.

What do you think?


If you're under the weather, try some Black Elderberry punch to get that immune system pumped up:

1.5 bottles Knudsen Simply Nutritious Lemon-Ginger-Echinacea Natural Juice

1.5 bottles Berry Lime (or other flavor) Sparkling Water

3 tbsp Gaia Herbs RapidRelief Black Elderberry Syrup

2 cups ice cubes

Add ice cubes to large pitcher (about 1/3 full). Add juice, then Elderberry Syrup, then sparkling water at end. Mix lightly with wooden spoon.


More from Gaia Herbs, which make my life so much sweeter. And that reminds me, the Medicines From The Earth conference is June 4-6 in Black Mountain, NC. (My coverage of the conference three years ago is here.) I haven't yet decided if I will attend, but if you're going, drop me a line! Black Mountain is one of my favorite spots in the world.


And what is going on with all of you?

*Today's blog post title is from They Might Be Giants. (I'd post the song, but I don't particularly like any of the versions currently on YouTube.)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Huckabee claims he could have won SC primary

Mike Huckabee, currently out pimping his "book" (read: presidential campaign preview) titled A Simple Government, told Greenville Online that he would have won the South Carolina Republican Primary in 2008, if not for a "deal" between candidates Fred Thompson and John McCain.

In the primary, McCain was the clear winner, with Huckabee placing second and Thompson third.

According to Greenville Online (apologies if link doesn't work, they always nab me by the end of the day!):

Huckabee, who may run for the White House again, said Thompson had planned to drop out of the presidential race following the New Hampshire primary, but McCain persuaded him to stay in — a move that split the conservative vote in South Carolina and helped deliver the election to McCain.
Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, said Thompson spent most of his South Carolina campaign in Greenville and Spartanburg, a stronghold for Huckabee.

Thompson “didn’t have a significant vote, but he had just enough, and our polling showed that it was coming off of me,” Huckabee said. “And it kept me just a couple of points under McCain, and you know the rest is history. But that’s life.”

Huckabee said he doesn’t have any hard feelings “for the deal they made. I know they did it because I’ve had close aides to both of them who told me.”

Campaigns are about winning, so “it’s never been something that I was upset about because I would have done the same thing if I could have,” Huckabee said.

Dean Rice, Thompson’s national campaign manager in 2008, couldn’t be reached, nor could Trey Walker, McCain’s campaign manager in South Carolina that year who now works for Gov. Nikki Haley.
Interesting, indeed! If Huckabee had won South Carolina, he would have taken the lead.
McCain won the support of more than 33 percent of South Carolina Republicans in 2008 on his way to secure the party’s nomination.

Huckabee won every county along the Interstate 85 corridor except Oconee, but it wasn’t enough to overcome McCain’s advantage in the rest of the state. Huckabee claimed just under 30 percent of the vote statewide.

Thompson garnered 15.6 percent to take third and push former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney into fourth.

Presidential aspirants tend to pay special attention to South Carolina because of its first-in-the-South primary.

Other Republicans eyeing a White House run who have visited the Upstate in recent months include Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, another potential Republican candidate, spoke in Spartanburg on Saturday.

This year, the Fox News Channel has agreed to televise two GOP presidential debates from South Carolina, the first set for the Peace Center in downtown Greenville on May 5.
And YES, friends and neighbors, I plan to be outside the Peace Center on Cinco De Mayo to welcome them in my own special way. (grins)

I have been chatting with the energetic youth at Suite 8 in Greenville, and some of them will be there also. We may actually have a REAL DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE GOP DEBATE IN GREENVILLE! ((faints)) That's a bit optimistic here in DeMint country, but I just wanted you to know: talks are underway. We may require a permit. Also, I am quite familiar with the terrain of the Peace Center, and it will be ridiculously easy for them to cordon us off into various alleyways. But I am ON THE CASE, and wanted DEAD AIR denizens to know that!

In addition, DEAD AIR will be blogging the next SC primary and the next election to a bloody fare thee well. STAY TUNED, SPORTS FANS!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Funnies

Well, not totally wordless, but no words from ME today... And as always, these come courtesy of Yellowdog Granny!

PS: Mr Daisy loves Nancy, at bottom. I don't know WHAT he's talking about.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sarah Palin: Even more of a mess than we thought

I know we are supposed to be observing "no Sarah Palin week" or perhaps (for the particularly ambitious liberal!) "no Sarah Palin month" (a whole month!?!) --but speaking personally? You gotta be kidding.

Her ex-aide's manuscript (not even published yet!) was obtained by POLITICO. Translation: All "no Sarah" promises will simply have to go by the wayside for now.

The aide, Frank Bailey, tells us everything we know already, but with emails!:

A new memoir from an embittered former aide to Sarah Palin includes a trove of emails that vividly illustrate her intense focus on image and depiction in the media.

The emails, apparently from the former Alaska governor, portray Palin as nearly obsessed with her political adversaries and consumed with every slight, real or perceived.
This makes me wonder... I've gotten numerous hits from Alaska on my various Sarah Palin posts, which I assumed were from disgruntled Alaskans, personally subjected to Palin and looking for sarcasm aplenty (and we're SO happy to do our part here at DEAD AIR), as well as garden-variety sleaze (ditto!) ... and now I am wondering if these hits (particularly from Wasilla) were from Palin herself. Does she troll the blogs looking for herself? (I know the "Real Housewives" frequently do, but at least they admit it.)

More from the pissed-off employee:
A Palin ally, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that Bailey and Palin corresponded and that the former aide had access to Palin’s passwords and her email account. But the Palin ally said that the content should be viewed through the lens of Bailey being “the quintessential disgruntled employee” who had been denied senior jobs he sought, cut out of Palin’s vice presidential campaign, and been caught up in the “Troopergate” scandal — details Bailey confirms in the proposed book, which is titled “In Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years.”
As every working class person knows: disgruntled employees know where all the bodies are buried. If you want truth, go to them; they are not beholden to anyone and do not act in obscenely craven ways in order to keep their jobs. (Brief quasi-socialist note: Why an ex-employee should be regarded as less truthful than someone still on the payroll is one of those evil capitalist lies, which you should never, ever believe.) Frank has been cut loose, and now, he is here to tell us all about his nasty boss. LISTEN UP, good Republicans. Behold your queen. She doesn't have too much between the ears:
“Todd just told me you had spoken with him awhile back and reported that some law enforcement friends of yours claimed some dumbass lie about Track not being Todd’s son? This really, really disgusts me and ticks me off,” Palin, according to Bailey, emailed aide Scott Heyworth in January of 2006. “I want to know right now who said it, who would ever lie about such a thing… this is the type of bullsh** lie about family that WILL keep me from running for Governor.”

Palin later repeated the obscure rumor in an email to supporters, prompting Bailey to wonder about her “penchant for inflaming issues that, left on their own, might disappear” – a recurring pattern in her public life.

By the spring of 2009, just months after she and John McCain had lost the presidential race, Palin is depicted as tired of being criticized and focused more on her own national image than Alaska issues.

“I hate this damn job,” she wrote in an April 28 email to Bailey and another confidante.

A month later, she delves deeply into the case of Carrie Prejean, the Miss California beauty pageant contestant who voiced her support for traditional marriage.

“I got slammed on Fox News today for “not defending” (Carrie Prejean), speaking out for someone unfairly and mercilessly attacked by hypocritical media,” Palin wrote.

“I think it would be good to have that statement out there that of course I support this young, strong woman who voiced her honest opinion on stage - then got punished and crucified for doing so. What kind of statement can go out to solidify my already-spoken support for her? I know if I were in her shoes (and I have been) it does mean a lot to have someone with the balls to publicly speak up in support. I’ve asked for [Donald] Trump’s contact info so I can thank him, too.”

Palin, Bailey writes, thought about contacting the media to explain her support for Prejean – but then reconsidered.

“If I call those reporters then I‘m on the hook to answer all their other questions they want,” she wrote.

Concludes Bailey after the episode: “The question we failed to ask was: What does this possibly have to do with being governor of Alaska? While it had nothing to do with Alaska, it had plenty to do with publicity. Fox News made this an ongoing story, giving it wall-to-wall coverage. Sean Hannity in particular latched on with both hands. With Sarah suddenly an outspoken supporter, he had gorgeous Prejean on one arm and sparkling Governor Palin on the other. He appeared a happy man.”

Palin wasn’t entirely divorced from local issues at the time, but her fixation on appearances veered into the absurd, Bailey writes.

When an Anchorage TV news station, KTUU, ran an online poll in May asking Alaskans if they agreed with her decision to reject federal stimulus dollars for energy, Bailey writes that Palin’s small inner-circle “invested time, energy, and emotion into linking our computers and utilizing our software into generating votes in favor.”

Refreshing the results to run up the votes, they emailed one another.

When an aide said Palin was initially leading in the unscientific survey, the governor responded: “Oh thank God!”
This makes me wonder even more... Did Palin teach her protégé (and brand new Tea-Party Governor) Nikki Haley, these kinds of high-tech hi-jinks? It makes sense; how Nikki vaulted to the head of the pack so quickly.

Sarah's mentorship promises to reap major rewards in media time AND in learning how to cook the books.
Bailey reveals that she didn’t even support her own eventual ticket-mate in the GOP presidential primary, recalling that in a January 2008 email Palin wrote: “Huck’s a good pick for me, just fyi.”

Her distrust of Republican insiders was crystallized in a scathing e-mail she sent in June 2009.

After they couldn’t confirm her attendance at an event, the GOP congressional campaign committees rescinded their invitation for Palin to speak at their fundraising dinner that month in favor of Newt Gingrich. The Alaskan reacted by typing a scathing assessment of the former speaker and the national party to her team, in which she credited God for keeping her away from the Washington fundraiser.

“Yes, (Newt/GOP) are egotistical, narrow minded machine goons… but all the more reason God protected me from getting up on stage in front of 5000 political and media ‘elites’ to praise him, then it be shown across the nation.” Palin wrote in the e-mail.

“At some point Newt would have shown his true colors anyway and we would have been devastated having known we’d earlier prostituted ourselves up in front of the country introducing him and acting like that good ol’ rich white guy is the savior of the party,” she continued.
And with the anti-Newt remarks, we see how the Tea Party has endeared itself to the populists of the land. Her last sentence was something I might have written.

However, when she thanks God for saving her from the embarrassment of "nothing decent to wear"--well, that is NOT something I would write. But it is something I hear women say all the time here in DeMint country.

The concept that Almighty God micromanages all of our lives and has time to give a rats' ass about your clothes, well, doesn't that just sum it all up, folks? What kind of bizarre, ego-driven, TV-American narcissism is THAT?:
Palin went on to express another reason she was thankful to the almighty that she wasn’t attending the fundraising gala.

“Plus, I had nothing to wear, and God knew that too. Party machinery sucks. I can’t tell you how much I hate it - nothing ever changes - we went through it before and after the VP campaign,” she wrote. “I’ve gone through it all my career. We just don’t fit into it, and maybe we should thank God for that.”
Oh boy.

And as I wrote here, working for Palin looks like one of the shittiest jobs in the world:
“As mentioned in an earlier chapter, getting Sarah to meetings and events was like nailing Jell-O to a tree,” Bailey wrote. “On the campaign trail and as governor, Sarah went through at least ten schedulers, with few lasting more than months. Nobody wanted the job because Sarah might fail to honor, at the last minute, the smallest commitments, and making excuses for her became a painful burden. In at least one instance, a scheduler quit after breaking down in tears; another left after being accidentally copied on an email from Sarah trashing her.”

It was, Bailey claims, a scheduling issue that ultimately prompted him to lose faith in Palin.

After committing to attend an Anchorage ceremony in honor of an abortion restriction in August 2009, Palin backed out just days before the well-publicized event, Bailey claims.
And she doesn't like government interference, dammit, in anything EXCEPT a woman's womb (where she inexplicably believes the government should set up shop):
“Sarah spoke of an aversion to our no-smoking in restaurant and motorcycle helmet laws. As governor in September 2007, she wrote specifically, ‘I want to make sure DOT knows my position on helmet laws - I don’t support them.’ After alerting us to her aversion to these laws, Sarah then added, ‘Heck, I don‘t even believe in Click-it or Ticket seat belt laws, and I filmed the damn commercial for ‘em.’”
The next President? The next Vice-President? Does that scare you? It should.

Please do not underestimate her, as the Republican Establishment also underestimated Haley.

Start trashing her now.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chronicles of the redneck underground

After I saw this poster at Horizon, I seriously considered changing the name of my blog. And then I realized, I am just not up for that. I don't know what the entirety of the redneck underground is up to, just my little corner of it.


My senator, Lindsay Graham, claims to be against earmarks, and yet is currently agitating for the particular earmark that guarantees deepening of The Port of Charleston. Earmarks for me, but not for thee! Funny how that works.

Two South Carolina politicians are screwing the pooch on this one, notably Senator Jim DeMint (well duh) and Congressman Joe Wilson, rude screamer of epithets. If there are significant layoffs at the coast, let's hope the journalists get it right this time, and properly blame these two:

The S.C. congressional delegation, made up of U.S. House and Senate members from South Carolina, decided to make a push for the money in Obama’s budget by writing a unified letter, he said.

“We all got together, the delegation, we said we were all going to do a letter, the whole delegation was going to do a letter to the president, asking the president to put it in his budget,” [Congressman Jim] Clyburn said. “Now, there are eight members in the delegation. Two members in the delegation, I understand, refused to sign the letter.”

Clyburn said those two members were Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

Wilson, a Charleston Republican, did not specifically address the delegation’s letter when asked for a comment. He said that being from the Lowcountry, he fully understands the economic role of the Port of Charleston.
He understands, he just doesn't give a shit about any of the people actually WORKING there.


Things that make you go WTF: Republicans will provide state-sponsored birth control for horses, but not for women!

Gals, the trick is to figure out how to turn yourselves into horses.


If the situation in the Middle East is too volatile for you to easily keep up with, here is a great clickable map from the BBC. I've bookmarked it for easy access.

"Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming conflicts."--Mother Jones.


Greatest blog-name ever! And I totally flipped when I saw the banner, and knew I had to reproduce it here: FANBOY WIFE! :D

I love her comic-book tears and yes, I totally relate.

Question: Is there something odd about endless print-outs of back-issues of extinct comics? I seem to remember that once, I thought there was. But now? I have comics reproducing themselves in my guest room. The unexpected upside is that various young men I have worked with think I am cool for knowing the names of obscure superheroes.

Their future girlfriends/wives will cry comic book tears too!


Somebody made my day by posting the studio version of BOX OF RAIN. (happy, happy)

Box of Rain - Grateful Dead

The Lynching of Willie Earle

64 years ago, the last lynching in South Carolina took place about 10-15 miles from where I live. And next week, after a very long 64 years, there will finally be a memorial on the rural back road where it happened.

[Trigger Warning]

On February 16, 1947, Thomas Watson Brown, a white cab driver, picked up a black man on Markley Street in Greenville, South Carolina. Brown was later found half-dead, his taxi driven off the road in rural Pickens County. He had been beaten, robbed, and stabbed three times.

The Pickens County sheriff reported that muddy footprints at the crime scene led to the house of Willie Earle, about a mile away, where officers reportedly found cash, a blood-covered knife and bloody clothing. (Many of these facts have always been in dispute, but this is what was presented at trial.) Willie Earle, age 24, wasn't at his residence; he was in another cab, driven by a man who would later become one of the 31 defendants.

Earle was arrested and put in the Pickens County second-floor lock-up.

The news of Brown's stabbing traveled like wildfire, as did the news of Willie Earle's arrest. The nexus of unrest was the Yellow Cab office on West Court Street, where Greenville's taxi drivers had congregated in an angry pack, and started passing around a bottle of whiskey.

The Greenville News, recently granted access to some of the trial records and police reports, offers some chilling accounts:

The attitudes of the time are reflected in the casual manner in which one of the defendants, Hubert Carter, explained in his statement to police how he joined the mob.

The 33-year-old driver and father of four called for a ride home from the Cleveland Street taxi stand at 1 a.m. on the 17th, according to the Greenville Police Department file. He was picked up by another defendant, Paul Griggs, who "asked me if I wanted to go with the others to get the Negro being held for stabbing Mr. Brown.

"I told him I'd go along with the crowd," Carter said in his statement.
And so, in a tableau reminiscent of the famous scene in To Kill A Mockingbird (and perhaps it was an inspiration for it), the taxis all lined up in the early morning hours and drove in formation out to the Pickens County jail, maybe 20 miles away. It was February 17th.

I have often re-imagined the striking sight of the line of yellow cabs driving down the old rural road I have traveled down so many times myself. Did other people see them? They must have. Did the onlookers know where they were going? Did they tell their wives or girlfriends first?

And there was, sadly, no Atticus Finch to stand by the door. Instead, there was a jailer named Gilstrap, who suddenly had two shotguns pointed in his face. He didn't argue.

The mob took Willie Earle from the jail.

A call to Greenville's black funeral home, notified authorities of where the body was.

Thomas Brown died six hours later.


The first lynching since 1912, the murder of Willie Earle became big news. The trial was biggest lynching trial the state had ever seen. Most lynchings had never even been investigated, while this one had then-Governor Strom Thurmond threatening to put the perpetrators away (yes, you read that right). Time magazine sent reporters, and The New Yorker sent no less than Dame Rebecca West to cover the event.

From Time magazine:
Somebody "pulled the Negro out of the car by his belt." The drivers ''hit him several times with their fists and knocked him to the ground." One of the drivers pulled out a knife. "Before you kill him," he said, "I want to put the same scars on him that he put on Brown." Said Jessie Lee Sammons: "I could hear the tearing of clothing and flesh."

Then the drivers "beat the side of his head with a shotgun." Said Marvin H. Flemming's statement: "I could hear some licks like they were pounding on him with the butt end of a gun. I heard the Negro say, 'Lord, you done killed me.' " Finally, said Charlie Covington, he heard Roosevelt Carlos Hurd Sr., a Blue Bird cab driver, cry out: "Give me the gun and let's get this over with." Just then, "a tall, slender boy with bushy hair hit the Negro in the mouth and knocked him down. The Negro started to get up when Mr. Hurd took the shotgun. He shot the Negro in the head. He unloaded the gun and called for more shells. . . . Mr. Hurd shot the Negro two more times." The tissue of Willie Earle's brain was left hanging on the bushes. The lynchers went back to Greenville and drank coffee.
Of course, it was an all-white jury. Of course, they offered no defense at all. And of course, they were acquitted.

Of the acquittal, Dame Rebecca West wrote:
There could be no more pathetic scene than these taxi-drivers and their wives, the deprived children of difficult history, who were rejoicing at a salvation that was actually a deliverance to danger. For an hour or two, the trial had built up in them that sense of law which is as necessary to man as bread and water and a roof. They had known killing for what it is: a hideousness that begets hideousness. They had seen that the most generous impulse, not subjected to the law, may engender a shameful deed. For indeed they were sick at heart when what had happened at the slaughter-pen was described in open court. But they had been saved from the electric chair and from prison by men who had conducted their defense without taking a minute off to state or imply that even if a man is a murderer one must not murder him and that murder is foul. These people had been plunged back into chaos.
Chaos is the word. Chaos was the state of race relations in the south until the Civil Rights movement, when the chaos was at last addressed.

Next week, after many long decades, the spot where Willie Earle was murdered will be officially and historically marked. Future generations will not be like me, driving by a rural place in the road without knowing whose blood was shed there. We will see, and we will know.

Tessie Robinson, Willie's mama, died 8 years ago. I am so sad she will never see the memorial to her son.

For black people, a memorial and a reminder of what they already know and do not have to be told. For us white people, a souvenir of our savagery, and the cover-up of that savagery. Which is why the memorial has taken 64 years.

Rest in Peace, Willie Earle.


crossposted at Womanist Musings.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Amanda Knox's parents sued

I always know when there's a new Amanda Knox update, because I get bunches of hits on her old MySpace photo (left). I don't even need Google alerts!

Today, Knox's parents (Curt Knox and Edda Mellas) were sued for libel by Italian police. Say what?! (I didn't even know you could do that.):

The unusual charge against the US couple stems from an interview they gave to the Sunday Times three years ago, in which they alleged that she had been physically and verbally mistreated during questioning after [Meredith] Kercher's murder in 2007. The police denied harming Knox.

Curt Knox and his wife, Edda Mellas, were charged in their absence by a court in Perugia . They are scheduled to stand trail on 4 July.

A repesentative of the Knox family said there would be no comment on the development.

Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher in the cottage the two women shared in Perugia. Kercher was found semi-naked, with her throat slashed.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, and Sollecito to 25 years. Both deny wrongdoing, and their appeal against conviction has begun.
As I have written before (see above links), I think there is an even chance that Knox is guilty, but of course, could never be convicted in a US courtroom, where evidence is required. In Italy? Apparently not. There seems to be no forensic evidence whatsoever.

After reading that several jurors showed up in court wearing Italian flags (in anti-American sentiment), I was floored. In the USA, that alone would be enough for a mistrial. In Italy? Apparently not.

Anyway, now her parents are not allowed to trash the cops, another American pastime I totally took for granted:
The Italian court was told, according to the Italian news agency ANSA, that "they said, contrary to the truth, that Amanda had not been assisted by an interpreter, that she hadn't been given food or water, that she had been abused both physically and verbally", and "that she had been slapped on the back of the head and threatened".

Libel is a criminal charge in Italy, and carries a sentence of six months to three years, as well as a fine.
This is what they call a judicial system? Maybe in the Vatican, but not in the days of FORENSIC FILES, okay?

Italia, be ashamed, be very ashamed.


Comments welcome, but be advised: No nastiness on this thread, or its the trap-door for you. I put up with a lot of crap from the peanut gallery when I first started blogging (again, check the threads), but I don't now. Anti-Amanda misogynists and/or anti-American Italians, take heed.

Does Arianna really need the money?

Another great one via Yellowdog Granny!

NPR asks a question I am also asked from time to time: Is Writing Online Without Pay Worth It? I usually answer, well, is listening to music worth it? Is TV worth it? Are movies worth it? Is any form of entertainment "worth it"? Obviously, the intrinsic "worth" of these activities depends on who you are and what you enjoy. And let's face it, if one enjoys writing, we are basically entertaining ourselves by blogging. It's very nice to have readers and to feel appreciated, but many of us would do it even if we didn't have any (and have gone for long periods with negligible numbers of readers/feedback).

My late mother, a singer, used to tell me that the world was filled with good singers and good writers, so get used to it. She was right, and I have.

But the NPR piece pointedly reminds us who benefits from our work, for whatever reasons we decide to do it (hint: not us):

Last week, AOL agreed to buy The Huffington Post for $315 million. The sale will undoubtedly make some people rich.

But David Carr, the media columnist for The New York Times, posed this observation in his column on Monday: "The funny thing about all these frothy millions and billions piling up? Most of the value was created by people working free."

Thousands of unpaid writers' work fills the Internet — on websites and social networking platforms.

"As we all twitter away and type away and update our Facebooks, we're creating the coal that sort of fires this oven," Carr tells NPR host Renee Montagne. "And they continue to own the land."
Aye, that's kinda brutal.

What to do?

Sree Sreenivasan tells Renee Montagne of NPR that the important thing in the ongoing media-upheaval is to "stand out":
In a very crowded Internet space where there's so many voices, I think the voices that have some specific point of view, as well as, you know, a reputation that they've built online or elsewhere are going to stand out. And this is - can be a development seen for better or for worse, but that's the situation. So you're seeing that the importance of being able to standout among many, many voices, commentary is one way to go.
I suppose so, but as many of you already realize (since you are on the net reading blogs, and you are here reading mine)--any fool can "stand out"--and some online folks have sold their souls to "stand out" as surely as any rock star ever did. Bloggers traffic in eyeball-time and numbers of page-views/hits, and if an ugly brawl or something dirty brings the traffic? Well, who cares, it's still traffic and it still translates into popularity.

My question is, who is going to do the "real" journalism? Meaning, who will "pound the pavement" and do all that is necessary (and time-consuming) to bring us FACTS and news stories from "on the scene"? Many bloggers try hard and perform splendidly, but simply don't have the resources and/or connections to follow stories around as a paid journalist can.

And why IS mainstream journalism on the skids? What is it about commentary that is so intoxicating to us, vs those boring old 'facts'? Are 'facts' in jeopardy, as a result?

Is it going to be harder and harder to find out what is REALLY going on? Will there be more and more words (from bloggers and TV-busybodies) spilled over fewer and fewer available facts?

What do you think?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Odds and Sods: Old St Charles sing edition

Image at left is courtesy of YELLOWDOG GRANNY, thanks Jackie Sue... you always sum up my thoughts! :D

This installment of ODDS AND SODS starts with a major TRIGGER WARNING, as they say. Warning, this thread descends into some very disturbing transphobic nastiness, but that's my whole reason for recommending it. It's pretty educational; I think the "radical feminists" who have colonized that thread illustrate one of the biggest problems with Second Wave radical feminism: Mean Girls.

And yeah, I knew a few in my time.

There was something about Second Wave feminist theory that easily lent itself to weird 'female superiority' arguments (in many instances, not just concerning transgender politics). Note their roaring silence on the subject of F to M transgender people: trans men don't fit their little just-so story, so they don't seem to piss them off as much. It's a very strange victim-chic thing. There is only so much victimization to go around, and the trans women are trying to horn in on OURS, which is COPYRIGHTED. At least, that's how several of the most pedestrian comments sound (yes, looking at you Delphyne!)... it's funny in the way that white supremacist websites are funny: not funny haha, funny sad.

The argument that trans people "uphold the gender binary" is bizarre, since I don't know anyone who doesn't. (The fact that we are forced to CHOOSE A SIDE, in fact, is the whole point, isn't it?) Why do these anti-trans feminists think they do not ALSO "uphold the gender binary"? Because they do. I do, you do, everyone does: If someone looks at you and calls you he or she on sight, well, you've passed the gender-test and you ALSO uphold the gender binary. IS there anyone on earth who does not uphold the gender binary? Where IS this magical omnigendered person? (Glen or Glenda?)

The question is then: Why are you holding trans people to a standard you are not holding everyone to? Why are they expected to "opt out" of a system you have not (and can not) opt out of?

PS: If you've had enough of reading that sort of thing, I can certainly relate. Warning, warning, warning, once again, highly offensive, reactionary victim-chic at the link.


I have not written about the political upheaval in Egypt, since I am ignorant of specifics and haven't had the time to delve properly into the subject. Thus, I share what smarter people have written:

Mubarak departs – what next? (A Scottish Liberal)

Mubarak Finally Listens – “Let My People Go!” (FireDogLake)

Katrina Vanden Heuvel: Neocons Have a Hard Time With Democracies That Emerge From Within a Country (Crooks and Liars)


:: A picture is worth a thousand words! You gotta see this: A Children’s Treasury of CPAC Stupidity: the Final Chapter Subtitled: TRINKETS OF THE DEATH OF AMERICAN CIVILIZATION... I promise you will love it!

:: On a more wonky note, Ezra Klein explains things carefully, in this post titled Do Republicans really oppose making health-care insurance cheaper? Yes, I've wondered that, too. Excerpt:

[The] short version is this: If you make health-care insurance cheaper and make it harder for insurance companies to deny people coverage, then a certain number of people who would like to leave the labor force but can't afford or access health-care insurance without their job will stop working.

To understand why, imagine a 62-year-old woman who works for IBM and beat breast cancer 10 years ago. She wants to retire. She has the money to retire. But no one will sell her health care under the status quo. Under the health-reform law, she can buy health care in an exchange because insurers can't turn her away due to her history of breast cancer. So she'll retire. Or imagine a 50-year-old single mother who wants to home-school her developmentally disabled child but can't quit her job because they'll lose health care. The subsidies and the protections in the Affordable Care Act will give her the option to stop working for awhile, while under the old system she'd need to stick with her job to keep her family's health-care coverage. That's how health-care reform can reduce the labor supply. If either case counts as a destroyed job, then so does my winning the lottery and moving to Scotland in search of the perfect glass of whiskey.
:: By way of Onyx Lynx, I found Avedon Carol's post quite thoughtful:
But I think there's also a deeper game here, and it explains why the entire media - not just the Murdoch and Moonie media - stays so focused on the right-wing crazies. It's the circus that deflects attention from what's really going on while everyone is playing games like "Beck is crazy" and "Look - Sarah Palin!" Well, yes, they've pretty much consistently done that sort of thing for the last 20 years, but I mean going even deeper than that, to why it is so consistent - enough that even some of our best liberal, independent bloggers just can't seem to pull their eyes away sometimes. Somebody out there wants us to keep watching the clown show for an even bigger reason.
:: OPEN LEFT is shutting down. Which is not a good sign. :(

Bye yall! I'll miss you!


This week's especially merciless ear worms:

This first one contains the original language, "I don't give two fucks about you"--which was sanitized for US airplay and became the more neutral, "I don't give a damn about you"... punks were considered pretty scary and thus, properly de-fanged for stateside radio. I'd never give you a de-fanged version on DEAD AIR!

I am proud to say, I own both versions in various mixes and anthologies, or I wouldn't even know about the censorship.

The Modern World - The Jam (1977)


Trigger warning, probable suicide references (debatable ever since song recorded in 1967); Joan Didion famously started her Doors essay with this song.

Moonlight Drive - The Doors (1967)


TOO GREAT FOR WORDS, this first-class mystical acidhead music can't be beat. Question: Are they chanting "Stonehenge! Stonehenge!" at the end? I've always thought so. Not sure what St Charles had to do with Stonehenge but hey, why not?

I really love this. NOTE: Acid flashback warning for at least half of my regular readers. :P

St Charles - Jefferson Starship (1976)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Haley Watch

Introducing a new, regular DEAD AIR feature, the dreaded HALEY WATCH! Under this title, I will be posting regular updates on the Republican shakedown headed up by South Carolina's new governor. (These posts will be appropriately tagged "Haley Watch" for easy indexing.)

First up, Governor Nikki Haley recently vowed to take away health care from as many people as she can. She's proud of it! This is the official statement her office released at the end of January:

“We have long argued that, among its many other flaws, the national health care law is unconstitutional, something that is now increasingly clear to all. South Carolina must take steps to avoid this unconstitutional infringement – one we do not want and cannot afford. We can improve health care in our state without this massive mandate from Washington, and that’s what our Administration, working with the General Assembly, will do.”
Uh-huh. I posted here with details about how she is enthusiastically looting all public health care systems in the state. So, let us be clear: Haley doesn't intend to "improve" shit.

But wait, what's this?!? From FITSNews, I find the following buried news that I haven't seen anywhere else:
With her state facing an estimated $1 billion budget shortfall, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley handed out huge salary increases to top gubernatorial staffers on her first full day in office. She also doled out big salaries to newly-created positions within the governor’s office.

Paying attention, Tea Partiers?

Haley started things off by giving her new chief of staff, Tim Pearson, a 27.5 percent pay raise. Pearson will make $125,000 a year – or $27,000 more than Scott English made while serving as chief of staff to former Gov. Mark Sanford.

Pearson will also have a full-time assistant who makes $60,000 a year.

Haley’s deputy chief of staff for communications and legislative affairs – Trey Walker – will be paid $122,775 a year. That’s a 42.3 percent increase over the second-highest paid staffer in the Sanford administration.

Haley’s top lawyer, Swati Patel, will be paid $102,000 a year – which is a 36 percent increase over the $75,000 a year that Sanford paid his top lawyer.
And we haven't heard one word about this in mainstream South Carolina news outlets. Why not?

It gets better:
Lawmakers appropriated $1.8 million to the governor’s office for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2010. It is unclear exactly how much of that money has been spent, although Haley has committed to paying 17 people a total of $1.2 million over the next year.

Whereas Sanford’s office had eight employees making $50,000 a year or more, Haley’s office has twelve – and all of them are being paid more than their predecessors.

Ironically, Haley claimed on Tuesday that she had “streamlined” the governor’s office.
And let me add... FITSNews is a CONSERVATIVE blog, people. A conservative blog.

And let me underline the fact: they ain't happy over there.
Giving her stated advocacy for limited government, the fact that Haley would create new staff positions and dole out these sorts of salary increases in any budget environment is startling. Given the current budget situation in South Carolina, it’s absolutely galling.

These new expenses are totally unnecessary – and totally inconsistent with what Haley campaigned on.
If the Left can't get rid of her, maybe the Right will? How ironic would that be?

I can dream, can't I?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Your Future Mr Right

My grandson is your Future Mr Right! (((beams proudly)))

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scientology Examined by the New Yorker

"When we need somebody haunted we investigate. When we investigate we do so noisily always." - L. Ron Hubbard, MANUAL OF JUSTICE, 1959

I first met Scientologists when they showed up (uninvited) at various and sundry Yippie events, particularly Smoke-Ins, throughout the 70s. They seemed to think they could convert pot-smokers. This is possibly because the only time their theology makes any real sense is when you are stoned out of your mind. We regarded them as just another kooky 70s cult, like the Moonies, who would usually show up wherever and whenever the Church of Scientology did. It's like they were competing for the same members.

The Scientologists used to set up shop in a little booth (always smiling smiling smiling in a spooky, eager-beaver fashion), with those little tin-can things for "auditing"--called an E-meter. You see the E-meter, you know who it is.

A band of Yippies trooped up to them at one such local event, rudely pawing the sacred E-meter and peppering them with dumb questions. Finally, one Yippie put one tin can to his ear as the second Yippie started bellowing into it: "What?! What?! Play some BLACK SABBATH!"... causing onlookers to guffaw appreciatively. Rather than becoming merely grim and humorless (as Christians might) or rolling their eyes and telling us all to GROW UP (as right-wingers would), the Scientologists suddenly appeared completely furious and could barely contain their anger. One became red-faced and livid: "Back off!" he hissed at the Black Sabbath fan, who seemed shocked and put the tin can down, appropriately backing off. "Those people are crazy," he whispered to me later. "You can feel the insanity vibe, just radiating off them," he said. Wow, really?

Some years later, I would walk by the same E-meter audit-set-up in downtown Columbus, Ohio (in front of the State House, no less), accompanied by some bright yellow balloons. My daughter, about three years old at the time, pointed at the gaily-colored balloons and wanted one. Pointing at the auditing cans (flanked by numerous copies of the tell-tale book Dianetics), I replied, "You don't want those balloons, hon, those are Scientologist Balloons!" --chortling at my own wit. Then I saw a business-suited-woman standing near the booth, and felt embarrassed she had heard me. I felt sheepish and giggled (exactly as I might act in front of a nun), but the Scientologist (auditing-Thetan, in this case) wasn't amused. She gave me the most hateful, evil look I have ever witnessed--and this includes nasty looks from right-wing maniacs and Reaganoids I have protested against over the decades. It was a glowering, focused, scary look. Damn, these people mean business, I thought. And from that point onward, I was very interested in the Church of Scientology. Rather like The Visitors who come in peace... well, sure they do.

Scientology-founder L. Ron Hubbard once wrote an amazing horror novel titled FEAR, which can scare the beJesus right out of you. After reading it and having a few nightmares, I realized that a man who could write like this could easily get to the bottom of an unruly or confused psyche and turn it upside down in record time. (I could not even bear to put the novel down, and I knew it was by L. Ron Hubbard.) FEAR's level of restrained paranoia/freak-out is incredible; the dramatic tension is not fully resolved until the last pages. Any religion started by this guy is going to be BLOODY HEAVY indeed, I thought.

And now, we have a famous Scientology-defector they can't eliminate, drive crazy or simply ignore: movie director Paul Haggis, who has gone public. He reached the second-highest level in the Church, Operating Thetan VII.

I have seen the New Yorker article titled The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology posted in about a half-dozen places already, so let me add my link.

It's long, but contains some real doozies. Brother and sister scandalmongers, you must read it:

Many Hollywood actors were drawn into the church by a friend or by reading “Dianetics”; a surprising number of them, though, came through the Beverly Hills Playhouse. For decades, the resident acting coach there was Milton Katselas, and he taught hundreds of future stars, including Ted Danson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and George Clooney. “Most of Hollywood went through that class,” Anne Archer told me.
Jim Gordon, a veteran police officer in Los Angeles, and also an aspiring actor, spent ten years at the Playhouse, starting in 1990. He told me that Scientology “recruited a ton of kids out of that school.” Like Scientology, the Playhouse presented a strict hierarchy of study; under Katselas’s tutelage, students graduated from one level to the next. As Gordon advanced within the Playhouse, he began recognizing many students from the roles they were getting in Hollywood. “You see a lot of people you know from TV,” Gordon says. He began feeling the pull of the church. “When you started off, they weren’t really pushing it, but as you progressed through the Playhouse’s levels Scientology became more of a focus,” he told me. After a few years, he joined. Like the courses at the Playhouse, Scientology offered actors a method that they could apply to both their lives and their careers.
Finally, an explanation for why so many actors are Scientologists; they actually targeted the industry from the inside. I had mistakenly believed they zeroed in on celebrities from the outside, you know, like they did the pot-smokers. Nope, they get them while they are studying for something else entirely. Interesting.
Katselas received a ten-per-cent commission from the church on the money contributed by his students.

Katselas died in 2008, and Scientology no longer has a connection with the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Anne Archer told me that the reputation of Katselas’s class as, in Gordon’s words, a “Scientology clearinghouse” is overblown. “His classes averaged about fifty or sixty people, and there would be maybe seven to ten people in it who would be Scientologists,” she says. But the list of Scientologists who have studied at the Playhouse is long—it includes Jenna Elfman, Giovanni Ribisi, and Jason Lee—and the many protégés Katselas left behind helped cement the relationship between Hollywood and the church.
More goodies from the article, which you should read and pass around:
David S. Touretzky, a computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has done extensive research on Scientology. (He is not a defector.) He estimates that the coursework alone now costs nearly three hundred thousand dollars, and, with the additional auditing and contributions expected of upper-level members, the cumulative cost of the coursework may exceed half a million dollars. (The church says that there are no fixed fees, adding, “Donations requested for ‘courses’ at Church of Scientology begin at $50 and could never possibly reach the amount suggested.”)
That pesky inflation!

And by the way, although the church doesn't like it when you refer to the E-meter as "tin cans"--according to this article, it STARTED as mere SOUP CANS, seriously:
During auditing, Haggis grasped a cylindrical electrode in each hand; when he first joined Scientology, the electrodes were empty soup cans. An imperceptible electrical charge ran from the meter through his body. The auditor asked systematic questions aimed at detecting sources of “spiritual distress.” Whenever Haggis gave an answer that prompted the E-Meter’s needle to jump, that subject became an area of concentration until the auditor was satisfied that Haggis was free of the emotional consequences of the troubling experience.
And finally... yes, at long last, we're getting to Xenu! You knew he was coming!

Only a really great horror/sci-fi mind could have hatched Xenu:
The church, which considers it sacrilegious for the uninitiated to read its confidential scriptures, got a restraining order, but the Los Angeles Times obtained a copy of the [Thetan] material and printed a summary. Suddenly, the secrets that had stunned Paul Haggis in a locked room were public knowledge.

“A major cause of mankind’s problems began 75 million years ago,” the Times wrote, when the planet Earth, then called Teegeeack, was part of a confederation of ninety planets under the leadership of a despotic ruler named Xenu. “Then, as now, the materials state, the chief problem was overpopulation.” Xenu decided “to take radical measures.” The documents explained that surplus beings were transported to volcanoes on Earth. “The documents state that H-bombs far more powerful than any in existence today were dropped on these volcanoes, destroying the people but freeing their spirits—called thetans—which attached themselves to one another in clusters.” Those spirits were “trapped in a compound of frozen alcohol and glycol,” then “implanted” with “the seed of aberrant behavior.” The Times account concluded, “When people die, these clusters attach to other humans and keep perpetuating themselves.”
As that wise old shopkeeper on the old Friday the 13th TV show was always saying: It all makes a terrible sense.

And you wondered when Tom would show up.
In 2004, Cruise received a special Scientology award: the Freedom Medal of Valor. In a ceremony held in England, Miscavige called Cruise “the most dedicated Scientologist I know.” The ceremony was accompanied by a video interview with the star. Wearing a black turtleneck, and with the theme music from “Mission: Impossible” playing in the background, Cruise said, “Being a Scientologist, you look at someone and you know absolutely that you can help them. So, for me, it really is K.S.W.”—initials that stand for “Keeping Scientology Working.” He went on, “That policy to me has really gone—phist!” He made a vigorous gesture with his hand. “Boy! There’s a time I went through and I said, ‘You know what? When I read it, you know, I just went poo! This is it!’ ” Later, when the video was posted on YouTube and viewed by millions who had no idea what he was talking about, Cruise came across as unhinged.
Ya think?

(More fun with Tom below. Could not resist!)

As the father of two gay daughters, Haggis finally broke with the church over their funding of anti-gay Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California. And then he studied and found out more...

As they say, read it all.


[NOTE: The only other time I have written about Scientology at DEAD AIR, was about the death of Jett Travolta, which was predictably covered up.]

Edit: The last few seconds of the video cautions that all copies are quickly removed by the church of Scientology, so you should download it yourself and upload it to YouTube after this copy is removed. Create a different account for this purpose, since they go after that, too.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

North Mississippi Allstars

After many years of missed opportunities, I finally witnessed the sheer awesomeness that is the fabled North Mississippi Allstars... a packed house for a free show today at the Bohemian, standing room only. I bought their newest CD, Keys to the Kingdom.

Not the best photos; I'm relatively short and as you can see, people everywhere.

Delicious bluesy wonderfulness. :)

Edit/correction: Allstars is one word, not two. Sorry about that!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday musings from beyond

Hey there boyz and girls! Your humble narrator, wrestling with an enormous metal shelf wedged into the wall, succeeded in banging herself on the head with said metal shelf, thereby imitating some of her favorite cartoon characters (see left). I saw stars, stars in the sky, stars all around. But I got it OUT, she cackled dementedly; the main thing is to not let these stubborn inanimate objects get the better of you!

There is a big BUMP on my head, luckily covered up by bangs. (See, bangs not only cover forehead wrinkles, they also cover histories of battles with stubborn metal shelves.)

What you should read while my head recovers:

Fabulous Kay Olson (who I wish would go back to blogging) posted the following dynamite AlterNet link on Facebook: Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer. OMG, really?!? Subtitled: Her works are treated as gospel by right-wing powerhouses like Alan Greenspan and Clarence Thomas, but Ayn Rand found early inspiration in 1920's murderer William Hickman. (Daisy's sub-subtitle: Are you surprised?)

As regular readers know, I avoid the name of Ayn Rand like the plague, or rather, like any discussion of the 2nd Amendment, which brings the various Black Helicopter Factions out of the woodwork. Here at DEAD AIR, I usually refer to her by her given birth-name (she named herself after a typewriter; well, of COURSE she did): Alisa Rosenbaum. This has so far fooled the search engines. (NOTE: The Randoids are now officially denying the typewriter story... wonder if they will also try to creatively spin her crush on the serial killer?) But now? This post? Open season. I have thus posted this on my day off, so I can babysit the thread and fend off attacks from Free Marketers Run Berserk (henceforth referred to as FMRB) and other assorted True Believers from the Randoid Camp.

I hope FMRB fully understand that they will contract all manner of socialist cooties if they come here! (takes out bright red cootie larvae and sprinkles protectively all over blog) But as is true of the gun-freaks, I don't think they care.

Imagine the varieties of ideological cooties they must have already.

In any event, that is some great reading.


Why I Love Blogging Dept:

I met the illustrator of the Lovecraft Tarot! Daryl Hutchinson, artist extraordinaire, contacted me about what I wrote here and thanked me for the compliments. We chatted on Facebook and I discovered he works less than a mile from where I do! (Cue up "It's a small world after all"; I must say, all manner of cool people live in Upstate South Carolina these days, she marveled.) He gave me some SIGNED PRINTS of his Lovecraft deck, including the one at left, Major Arcana #12.

In the traditional deck, #12 is the Hanged Man. In the Lovecraft deck, #12 is represented by the character of Crawford Tillinghast, protagonist of the famous HP Lovecraft story, From Beyond.

I'm hanging them up in my future fancy Tarot digs... which I will someday have as an old hillbilly/hippie woman giving tarot readings in a spooky, drafty old storefront (preferably in some refurbished warehouse district someplace). It will have cool old tapestries and pillows and beads and rugs and scarves hanging everywhere. And posters, like this one... and now, I have signed Lovecraft tarot prints!

It was great to meet you, Daryl, and hope you will take my suggestion about Dragon*Con. Your work is beautiful!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Happy Birthday Del McCoury!

Del McCoury, bluegrass legend, is 72 years old today! Happy Birthday Uncle Delano!

Del McCoury Band - All Aboard


If you aren't hard-core enough for bluegrass, try some SCOTS:

Southern Culture on the Skids - My neighbor burns trash

My neighbor burns trash
In a barrel out back
On a mighty fine day
there's a toxic haze
around my house and my house and my house
A mighty fine way
to mess up a mighty nice day
My neighbor burns trash
in a barrel out back

I know exactly what they mean.