Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sociopaths abound

So they finally did it - our "cloud" in Illinois has been lifted by the removal of Blagojevich, when he was found guilty at the impeachment by a vote of 59-0. I still can't believe this guy... he insists on boycotting his trial there, claiming a "set-up" and unfair rules. Even his lawyers skip it. And then he finally shows up on the last day, makes a 45 minute-long plea / speech, and gets irrevocably shot-down. This, of course, after his media blitz trying to take his case to the "court of public appeal."

But that's not why we're all doing a double-take again. The man goes home after his trial, makes a statement to the press (I have faithfully served the people of Illinois, the truth will come out, I'm innocent, blah blah blah), refuses to answer any legitimate questions from the press (why did you not follow protocol to try to bring your witnesses to the trial, etc.), and is about to duck inside his house when he goes back into the crowd and starts grabbing kids to pose with him for photographs, shaking hands, etc - like he's on a friggin' campaign trail.

For some reason he actually still has supporters, and quite a crowd was out there saying they believe him, they love him, etc. I cannot wait until the evidence is presented in the criminal trial and he gets his just desserts. The way he is so adamantly denyin any wrongdoing - it's quite frightening. I'm pretty sure he qualifies as a sociopath. Just because "pay to play" has become some sort of standard in Illinois government, any rational person should recognize how unethical it is - and you can't claim innocence to "wrongdoing" simply because you are participating in the status quo. It would be nice if Illinois and Chicago take the cue from this scandal and reform how they do business - whether it takes cleaning house to accomplish this, or if the politicians themselves can take in some supplemental moral fiber.

It amusing to note that - in addition to removal from office - the Illinois Senate passed a motion barring Blago from ever holding any public office again in Illinois. I'm not sure how legal that is, but it's nice to know they are doing their best to prevent him from escaping this debacle too easily in the near future.

Of course, he is not the only sociopath in the news lately. Remember that sleaze Drew Peterson? He was implicated as a person of interest in the disappearance of his 4th wife (Stacy) in 2007. That was after the mysterious drowning death of his 3rd wife in 2004. (Sorry, dunno anything about #1 & 2, and not motivated to dig it up). This 55-year-old was recently in the news for becoming engaged (while still married to his "missing" wife) to a 24-year-old Christina Raines. She moved in with him, and my wife and I started contemplating the odds on her long-term survival. Then on a recent Nightline, apparently good ol' Drew gave an interview talking about how he became bored with his previous 4 marriages, and how he longed to again be married to "belong" to someone. He stated to the interviewer that Christina was very happy with him and things were going great.

The day after this interview airs, she calls her father to help her move out of Drew's house and calls off the engagement, calling him very "controlling" in their relationship and worried over his "loss of interest" in his previous relationships. Take a look again at the time frames, and their ages. Sheesh. She has two small children by the way, and he has 4 of his own. He called them nice and cozy in his two-story house, like a box of baseball cards. Excuse me?? Why would you ever describe the way a group of eight living people get along like a collection of inanimate items that you stack and file away....


And to wrap up this blog, lemme mention Rush Limbaugh. I refuse to corrupt my blog with an image of this, er, gentleman, who is now the unofficial face of the Republican party. When asked about Obama, he insists, "I hope he fails." He is attempting to instigate the whole Republican party to block Obama at every turn. He got that (attempt) with the 100% rejection by the House Republicans on the newest part of the stimulus bill, which still passed of course because of the Democratic majority. However, the Senate Republicans can still cause a filibuster of the legislation - and that would be despite all the concessions made in the legislation for the benefit of the Republican agenda.

The time for hate mongering and partisan politics is supposed to be over. The election is completed, the Democrats won, and now the nation should be coming together to try to dig its way out of our woes. Obama is reaching out above and beyond the usual to bring Republicans into the fold and to keep "politics" out of the work. People like Limbaugh want to just keep the anger flowing and obstruct progress. But hey - it sure helps to keep his audience listening. Screw what the country needs.

Ok. I'm gonna go do something more pleasant for a while.


Photos borrowed from the Chicago Sun-Times

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Inconsistency RULES!

Yeah, more hit-or-miss on the blogging lately. I've been "busy," but doing what exactly I'd be hard-pressed to come up with. I guess I could just blame it on my attention span, which has rapidly gotten oooh, shiny!

(sorry, dunno the source on this "poster," but really enjoyed it from a recent email.)

This blog has been pretty politically-heavy lately, but I meant for it to be a little more well-rounded and fun. Recently realized that I need to add pictures and lighten it up a bit. Have several things partly-blogged in "draft" form, will try to release them slowly to decrease the boredom level for my (two) readers. :-)

So today, here are the things I am NOT blogging on:
  • Blago - I won't waste my time waxing on about how sociopathic he is coming across, with his media blitz in this eleventh hour before his impeachment trial in the senate. His lead council resigns about the same time he starts whoring himself out to any media outlet that will broadcast him (apparently he'll be on "The View" Monday). He calls the trial a travesty of justice and complains how the rules are against him, yet it was himself and his own legal team that failed to file appropriate paperwork for witnesses, etc. And he blames the whole attack on him as some sort of conspiracy to raise taxes. Nope, not worth my time.

  • Obama - there's too much coverage already, in MINUTE DETAIL, about the beginning of his first "100 days," or "100 hours" as I've heard it described today. He's trying to bring Washington together and get some real stuff done. But it is story after story about the Malia and Sasha dolls, and their cafeteria food menus, and fashion, and pre-recorded performances at the inauguration, and people that still believe Obama is not our real president because of a "questionable birth certificate" or because of a stumble on the oath - GIVE IT A REST. Give the man the time and cooperation he's earned, and let's check back in a while and see where things stand.

  • The press in general - shows like "Access Hollywood" and "TMZ" that give forum to the paparazzi that stake out the funeral for Travolta's son and stuff like that. Now the mainstream media is turning more and more into that, with hounding of the pilot from the Hudson Bay crash, and endless coverage of "the Beast" (Obama's limo) and all other minutia inauguration-related. Ugh.

I know my blogging tends to be rant-related, but I'll also try to mention a good thing every now and then. Most interesting stories start with a bit of a struggle though ....

The other day my iPod shuffle (mp3 player) crapped out on me. It's a first generation, have had it since 2005 or 2006 when it cost about $100 for 500 MB of storage. It worked like a charm, with a terrific battery life, and no real problems despite the fact that I abused it regularly while working out, and made it do double duty as a jump drive for data on occasion. I would not exactly call myself a "Mac Whore," but I appreciate the elegance, creativity, and general ease-of-use of Apple products.

When it got nudged while in the USB slot and generated an "error, may have lost information" message, I experienced some mild panic and then went through the paces to try to check the drive. Wouldn't register at all in my iBook (except under "System Profiler") - so it didn't appear on the desktop nor in iTunes. My wife's PC recognized it as an Apple USB drive, but could not access any of the material. OK ... so whatever the hell I had on it from a data point of view was scrapped - not a big loss (I think!), since it was probably untouched from 1-2 years back.

Apple has a pretty good support site, with technical advice from Apple along with forums from users of every experience level. I cruised around there and found out that the behavior of my ancient iPod was very well documented (if you are really curious read more here), and might actually be fixable by reformatting ("restoring") the device. Unfortunately, even with special downloaded software to restore the device on my Mac, the drive still couldn't get recognized. On my wife's PC running Vista, that software (rated for Win2000 or XP) would not launch. I tried the set-up disc that came with the iPod as well as loading up iTunes on her PC, but neither could "fix" the drive.

After about 4 hours of banging my head against both our computers trying to get all this to work, I gave up and decided we may have to invest in a replacement. Of course, technology has moved on, and the "equivalent" product now is the 2nd generation iPod shuffle, the dinky little item in front at the right. At only $50 for 1 GB of storage, along with the smaller size and clip-on design, it would kick the ass of my older device. But that's $50 I could be spending on chocolate or toward other worthwhile things, like heat and rent. Besides the fact that my 2004 iBook G4 is still running OS 10.3.9 (whereas today's Mac is running 10.5.something), which may not be compatible with the newer product. (I've already fallen out of the loop for Firefox and other application updates.) :-(

So I dragged my wife with me as we trudged into downtown Chicago (the hour+ walk was our "exercise" for the day) to the Apple store on Michigan Avenue. I brought the iPod with, hoping that maybe one of the "geniuses" would be able to do something with it. And holy shit, not only did I manage to get squeezed in for a free consultation without an "appointment" - but they managed to reset the device. So far so good - we've got some fresh tunes on it, and we'll see if the fix holds out. So, in the words of a fellow blogger (and admitted "Mac Whore"), this was an "epic win" for Apple and the Apple Store concept. It's a great place to go and drool over new toys. Maybe I'll even consider an appointment next time... although that sort of prep would be "inconsistent" for me. Could I use "quotes" more in this article?

(Pictures of the iPods and Apple Store borrowed lifted from www.apple.com)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Their "death," and not a moment too soon

And I thought it was just a string of bad decisions.

No, there was actually a political philosophy behind the horror that has been the U.S. foreign policy for the past 8 years. Neoconservatism (practiced by neocons, for short) - as laid out in this article from the BBC news, is about:

  • a tendency to see the world in terms of good vs. evil (ie, the axis of evil)
  • a minimal emphasis on diplomacy, with a "disdain for multilateral organisations"
  • emphasis on U.S. unilateral action
  • readiness to use military force

What part of that is the outgoing administration proud of?

Just because we are, were, or think we might still be the strongest military force, that is not an excuse to exercise it without just cause, nor against stand-in targets (Iraq vs. Al-Qaeda). Unilaterally? In today's global economy, let alone since the creation of the United Nations, unilateral action should always be a last resort, right up there with military action itself. And what kind of example is the U.S. setting by trivializing diplomacy, a country itself based on democracy?

It served to amuse me how Obama was attacked during the campaign for being willing to re-open discussions "without preconditions." I was just so happy to hear about a politician willing to actually DISCUSS things and CONSIDER the international community before pulling the trigger of the military.

Obama has already inherited fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the powder keg that is the Israel-Palestine situation - I look forward to a fresh perspective about these conflicts starting in just about a week now. The real tests over the coming year or so will be Iran and North Korea - how Obama's administration handles the nuclear (note, not "nu-ku-lur") threat. And, of course, the ominous "terrorist test" he will face simply because he is a new commander-in-chief. I won't be holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

Regardless of the actual challenge, at last we have people that are willing to dig deeper into the playbook and utilize tools that have been helpful in the past, and reaffirm Americans' commitment to humanitarianism on a global scale. Down with the neocons!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More on government, Blago, & Burris

Here's a joke my father sent me recently:

Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House. One is from Chicago, another is from Tennessee, and the third is from Minnesota. All three go with a White House official to examine the fence.

The Minnesota contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. "Well," he says, "I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me."

The Tennessee contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, "I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me."

The Chicago contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, "$2,700."

The official, incredulous, says, "You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?"

The Chicago contractor whispers back, "$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence."

"Done!" replies the government official. And that, my friends, is how government contracting works!

Made me smile, given what's happening with Blago. By the way, if you hadn't already heard - he was impeached (first governor in Illinois, whoo-hoo!!) with of a vote of 114-1. What was he doing during the vote? Off jogging in the streets of Chicago.

A little tidbit that seems to have just come out recently about Burris's connection with the Senate appointment: allegedly he approached a colleague of Blago's as early as July or September and expressed interest in the Senate seat. Now does that mean there was anything shady between them that resulted in his December appointment after the news broke of Blago's investigation? Not necessarily. But knowing this and the drive Burris seems to have for personal accomplishments, I am even less inclined to believe he is completely innocent in this debacle.

The Illinois Supreme Court apparently ruled that they will not force Jesse White to sign the Burris appointment document, but their ruling indicated that it should not be necessary to gain his signature for the Senate to seat him. So now I guess it bounces back to the Senate Rules Committee. The last statement from Reid in the Senate indicated that if the Illinois courts approved him, they would seat him. I would anticipate, given the push by Obama to avoid further distractions from the economy, etc., that Burris will now have his dream fulfilled and become the "junior Senator from Illinois" - at least until the seat is next up for election in... I think 2010.

Hopefully by that time, the then-governor will already have a head-start on washing away the stink of corruption, and we might be able to drudge up some candidates that don't make you cringe.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

C.R.A.P. Sunday - New Year's edition

Catch-up Rants And Platitudes - #1
Like I indicated before, I'm just getting back into blogging. Here I'll make use of something I've seen from other bloggers - an outlet for mini-rants and messages that wouldn't otherwise be worth a post of their own. Things I've been stewing over for the past week or so and are still with me enough to need venting.

  • First off, would like to wish happy holidays and best wishes for the New Year to any and all (or should I say, "both") my readers. :-) A little cliche'd, but heartfelt all the same. We have a lot to look forward to this year as a nation as well as globally - dealing with the economic crisis, high hopes for our new president, working through this recent conflict in the Middle East as well as other fronts - not to mention our own personal goals. And a whole year ahead of us to make good on those goals or to screw-'em up. At least we can vow to fight off procrastination THIS time....


  • Blago - Ugh. Have long since given up hope of our Illinois governor resigning, but the taint left by his appointment of Burris as senator has been compounded by Burris's own words.

    Apparently, the process of seating a senator (at least, in this situation) requires signatures of both the governor and the secretary of state on a document which then goes to the senate, which then "seats" the representative in the appropriate caucus. The democratic caucus is refusing to seat any appointee by Blago for good reason - he is charged with corruption DIRECTLY RELATING TO his power of appointing a replacement for Obama. Our secretary of state, Jesse White, has refused to sign the document as well.

    But here is Burris in a statement to the press saying, (paraphrased:) "I have been legally appointed, I am senator - the rest is just paperwork." And on the day the appointment was made, I recall Burris saying something to the effect of "I have made it to the Senate!" Shouldn't the "elevation" to that position more appropriately be recognized as an outlet for his constituents (ie, the residents of Illinois), rather than as a personal achievement?!? He insists the corruption charges are unrelated to his being appointed, and is fighting to be installed instead of letting the legal process resolve things. To the claim that "Illinois needs it's representation" - fine, install an "interim" senator until a permanent one is appointed by a taint-free governor or voted in by a special election. Clinging to the appointment has only stained Burris further, and his refusal to consider the wishes of his constituents as well as his future colleagues proves that he is not the kind of representative I would want in Washington.

    Even president-elect Obama (a fellow black politician) is calling for Burris to decline the appointment - so the argument of letting it happen for the sake of keeping an African American democrat in the position should hold no weight.


  • Reading - in my down-time I am getting a little better about turning the TV off (finally!) and trying to plow through some books. I guess I'll write a separate entry on this. Recently finished "Wicked," now (re-)reading the original "Wizard of Oz" to see what was based on the original work....


  • In early December had a job interview for what would have been an ideal position for July 2009, and a 1 in 3 chance of getting it. Was told we'd find out within the week. After nearly 3 ADDITIONAL weeks of untoward suspense, finally learned that the position went to a different candidate. Have another interview at the end of January, and in the meantime will keep searching - but in the meantime this uncertainty and state of limbo is driving me (and the wife!) NUTS!


  • Just to throw another wrench in the gears, my car decided to stop working during the holidays. Thankfully it was after the family meet-up, so no big plans had to be canceled - but it's always a pain in the ass. It is going on 12 years old, and hasn't given me too many problems overall, but I hate dealing with the service department. After hours on hold with roadside assistance and several more hours waiting on help to arrive when it wouldn't start (and a jump didn't help), the mechanics were set to abandon me because they couldn't tow my car down the parking ramp. I insisted on pushing the car to where they COULD tow it, which was much easier than they anticipated. Once at the dealer it turned out just to need spark plugs, but they tried to soak me for thousands of $$ saying the engine needs to be rebuilt, etc. And once the car was back with me it was sputtering and nearly stalling out - not something it had done before it died. Thankfully that improved over the weekend, and for now I can avoid a repeat trip to the service department demanding that they check their work.


  • Poor customer service - Dec 2008 was a bad month for it. Dealing with a new health insurance company, and calling in to complain about a product - these things are needlessly frustrating. Here's my 1/2 cent on one item: Rain-x windshield wipes - don't bother with them. Still waiting on a refund. My wife wrote about it here. Apparently owned by Shell, which I will now be boycotting out of spite.


  • Opinion polls and article comments - Watching the news on Jan 1st, saw them flash up between segments, "Have you already broken your New Year's resolutions? Text "yes" or "no" to ...." WTF?!? Not only was it less than 12 hours into the new year, but please, please, PLEASE tell me how / why that is "news"?! It is getting nauseating how all these "news" sources are reaching out to Joe Six-pack for input. Have you ever read the string of comments on a recent on-line news item? It quickly degenerates into name-calling and comments on spelling - not exactly an intellectual discussion. Even CNN (which I have stopped watching after the election), with Larry King and other "respectable" news anchors and commentators turning to blogs for comments from the peanut gallery - it makes me want to tune out completely. Professional commentators and analysts have earned the right (theoretically) for their opinions to be part of the "news" - for anything else I can surf the net or listen to a designated call-in show.
Ok - that's enough for now. This was much longer than intended. But maybe I'll stop flogging some of these topics (even if just in my head). Now off to hit the gym, to vent my frustrations in a healthier way. Happy New Year!! Good luck with any resolutions you've made.

blog history & pending

upcoming:

  • update sidebar & links

previous:

  • 2009-december: updated some content and re-initiated the blog
  • 2009-june: tweaked colors and link appearances
  • 2009-may: formatted search boxes and reference / mail icons
  • 2009-may: transfered original blog to "bonzophrenia" domain, including manual transfer of comments; original dates preserved in italics
  • 2008-nov: resumed blogging more regularly
  • 2005-feb: started "Bonzo-phrenia" at "bonzo-er" domain

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Unless otherwise noted, all written content is (c) Bonzo 2005-2009. Images unless credited otherwise are from google image search or other shared image archives. Header image designed by *ennyllynne*, with an image credit for the fan-shaped book (border removed here) due to nkzs. "try evil" hat worn in profile image designed by David Simmer II, available for sale at Artificial Duck Co.

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