Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fan Appreciation Night

at Washington Nationals Park. So K-Rod loads up the bases in the bottom of the 9th & gives up a 2 strike, 2 out, walk off grand slam home run to a minor leaguer named Justin Maxwell. Nats 7, Mets 4.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sheesh. Girardi gives all the regs a day off except Posada, Cabrera & Cano after clinching the division, Cano hits a grand slam & the Yanks whump Royals 8-2. & play errorless ball. Though it must be suggested KC wasn't trying very hard. Naturally, those guys are thinking about fishing or where they'll be residing next year. Like The Mets. Who lost to the worst team in MLB, The Nats, 2-1 on a dreary night in D.C. Even I couldn't bear to tune in that game on the radio. The AP sports writer was so embarrassed to be there he didn't put a byline on his recap.
Bayonne man went through toll booths over 2,000 times without paying
Sari Ahmet, a limousine driver, sailed through toll booths without paying a staggering 2,351 times, according to the New Jersey Turnpike.

He was enrolled in EZ-Pass but didn't have the transponder in his car, officials said.

Ahmet, of New Bay Court in Bayonne, turned himself after receiving calls from detectives and was arrested by State Police on Aug. 26.

State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones said Ahmet, who was charged by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, had racked up $3,800 unpaid tolls, with an additional $70,000 in administration fees, officials said.
I never got a ticket for running a toll, although running tolls sometimes was unavoidable when baskets were the primary method for collection on the Parkway. If it jammed, or a rock band had wedged a bumper sticker in there, you had to move on when the car horns behind you began singing.

I did once receive a parking ticket by mail from a North Jersey town I'd never visited. When I called the violations bureau there to complain, the lady immediately said she'd void it, & that made me wonder if the town had a scam going.

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Monday, September 28, 2009


Al Gore, John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama all, to one degree or another, supported the invasion of Afghanistan. Gore said he would've done it.

Besides harboring bin Laden, the Taliban were a continous source of horror stories, from treatment of women to blowing up the great Buddha cliff statues of Banyan.

Were we ever sure what we were going there to do? Yeah, kill bin Laden & destroy al-Qaeda camps. But what else? Was "nation-building" part of the plan? The Russians tried that. How would we know when we had finished the job? Where was the exit?

The Bush adminstration was planning to oust the Taliban before 9/11. The plans were so well advanced that the Taliban government abandoned Kabul within days after our campaign began on 11/7 & before an American life had been lost. We had them on the run for an entire year.

I don't see how President Obama can avoid increasing our ground forces, with the resulting expenditures of American lives & treasure.

President Obama will have to remind us why we went to Afghanistan in the first place. He will have to explain what it was we wanted to accomplish there after the Taliban were driven from power, that we did not accomplish. Then, he has to convince us that this goal can still be reached , or offer some other rationale & goal.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

U Dub

If you've never played an online reggae dub selector, you're in for treat. I just rediscovered Infinite Wheel while editing some webpages. My favs are "Alpha & Omega" & "Burning Babylon" but they're all very cool. Just click around, you'll figure out how it happens. When I hated the neighbor above my former apartment, a really creepy man, I'd turn on a dub & leave it playing for hours while I went out.


Hoboken NJ

Continental Bar at the Continental Hotel.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Margie & the MidiSkirts

Today I learned not to leave an SD card in the reader when I power down PC at night. Cause it was an alarming puzzlement when the machine demanded an F12 bootup today when I turned it on. I hadn't had my coffee yet. Nothing worked - not the power switch, the keyboard, no mouse pointer. Fortunately, the SD card had a bit of an orange label showing, so when my mind cleared a little I spotted it right away. Pulled it out, shut the power off at the surge box, turned on, & it was alright. The old PC had a plug in external reader & didn't see a card on boot up.

Tranferred the bulk of files over, not everything, using a 2GB SD card in safe quantities. I knew my cranky old PC could freeze up during the process, losing everything on the SD, & in fact did, & at another point the card itself had to be reformatted & contents deleted.

I most enjoyed opening up & playing some midis on the new PC. They sounded real good. A long time ago, a friend send me software on disk for playing with midi files. That this little gift even occurred to her showed long-distance insight. With the software, I could download complex midis, take them apart, reassign all the various parts to different instruments, edit lines of music; even compose music on a staff, although that was more tricky. It was a great toy.

How a midi file plays back depends on the quality & make of audio card in the computer, & on what media player is used to play it. So midi music rarely sounds the same on two different computers, except in maybe the most simple arrangements. I accepted that. My old old PC had an excellent Soundblaster card, a choice of three media players, & good amplified speakers.

In honor of my friend, who has a great , silly sense of humor, I created a lounge band called Margie & the MidiSkirts & hired them as the house group in a wiseguy-run Kismet Klub on my Boardwalk website (my imagination here is rooted in authentic boardwalk history). Margie plays keyboards, mainly Hammond organ, & her band consists entirely of keyboards, xylophones, marimbas, drums, & other percussion instruments. It 's all-female Tiki lounge kind of band, but they don't play exotica music or Hawaiian songs; they have a repertoire with everything but. I never decided exactly how many musicians were in the band.

My next PC, the one I just replaced, had a crappy sound card. The midis I had arranged did not sound right on the PC, & sometimes they did weird things, like a high note not being available & low note substituted, or the PC replacing a specific instrument with what it considered an approximation. When I call for a bass marimba, I don't mean tuned tympanis. It could be amusing. I didn't play much with the midi program.

Those old midis came alive again on the new PC. If the program works on this PC, I'll write Margie & the MidSkirts some new arrangements after I renovate Kismet Klub, where Wednesday is "Whack your own calamari day."

I wasn't smoking funny weed when I arranged "I Gotta Crow" from Peter Pan for two marimbas, calliope, & dog bark. It just sounded right for the song.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Two more terrorist bomber arrests

Two more terrorist bomber arrests.

If some one approached me & said they could help me commit a criminal act, I would reply that I am not a criminal & have no desire to commit a crime, & please leave me alone. But what if if I was going around expressing a desire to commit a criminal act, & an undercover agent of law enforcement manipulated me into the attempt, & then arrested me? I'd probably be getting what I deserved. Unless I was also subject to conspiratorial pressure or personal threats if I backed out. There should always be an opt out. That's why I felt several of the hapless, stupid Fort Dix "terrorists" were punished too severely. But what's this man's defense?

DALLAS – A 19-year-old Jordanian man living in Texas was arrested Thursday on charges he intended to bomb a downtown Dallas skyscraper, federal officials said.

Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was arrested after placing what he believed to be a car bomb outside the 60-story Fountain Place office tower Thursday, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Dallas. The decoy device was given to him by an undercover FBI agent, the statement said.

& what's with this homegrown crazy:

CHICAGO – A 29-year-old man who idolized American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh has been arrested after attempting to set off what he thought was a powerful bomb in a van outside a federal courthouse in the Illinois capital of Springfield, officials said Thursday.
One man allegedly betraying the hospitality & relative safety of the United States, the other allegedly betraying his own nation. This is scary stuff, & so far they don't sound pumped up with the usual FBI exaggeration. There's also this possible terrorist act of a different sort:
BIG CREEK, Ky. – A census worker found hanged from a tree with the word "fed" scrawled on his chest met his end in a corner of Appalachia with an abundance of meth labs and marijuana fields — and a reputation for mistrusting government that dates back to the days of moonshiners and "revenuers."

big switchover

I'm on the new PC. Moved it from the other room last night. I was using a CRT monitor, so you can imagine how much less space this monitor takes up. & weight.

Immediately downloaded some new security software. The preinstalled Norton didn't like that. This PC has so much preinstalled trial crap, you have to figure out whether it's actually on the PC or the shortcut takes you to a website. The Microsoft easy uninstaller lists only Microsoft authorized programs. They give you other garbage & make it hard for you to throw it away. Getting rid of it is a gradual process. The best way for me to deal with the smaller details of a new PC is gradually, as I need to use & do stuff.

Then I downloaded Firefox. I hate IE. Microsoft piles junk applications into it & leaves it to the user to eliminate the junk on the tool & display bars. Firefox installs a lean, basic browser & invites you to pimp it.

I installed AOL so I could visit my chats. Chirpy small talk.

I switched the mouse to left hand. I changed the mouse side years ago when I noticed it was doing tingly achy things to my right wrist. Those problems have never come up with the left hand & wrist, which never had to write or throw a Frisbee. & anyway, I'd druther tap the keyboard with my right. Mouse use requires no special dexterity.

Later today, I'll download the Vista upgrades I know are waiting.

Vista is very unpopular. What I dislike most so far is that it tries to be entertaining when it ought to stick with simple functionality. Also asks too many questions. The one question I always want asked is, "Do you want to delete/save this?" I can't count the times that's rescued me. With Windows 7 on the way, there's no great need to learn much about Vista. But every time it offers a "classic view" I 'll take the option.

A problem I haven't worked out is font size. I don't have strong eyesight. The different monitor resolution has made most fonts & images a little smaller everywhere, & most of them have to be readjusted individually in the various applications, some of which resist having basic settings changed.

I need to find that little button for the taskbar that minimizes all open screens.

Major projects ahead, revising all my Homestead websites with upgraded page-building applications. Once the user opts in to the upgrade, there's no turning back. Can't revert to old software & old pages. But the old software has so many glitches, & an infuriating tendency to freeze up at crucial moments, so I didn't fiddle much with the main pages.

The largest collection of files I need to transfer over are in a c drive folder labeled "pix." It needs to be pruned, especially the sub folder labeled "temporary." But it has hundreds of photos, postcard images, art images, book & LP covers, photos prople have e mailed me, clip art, animated gifs. It's fairly well-organized inside. I can usually locate things.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tenting on the old camp ground

BEDFORD, N.Y. — Did The Donald and the dictator made a backdoor deal? If so, the plan to pitch a tent in this suburb for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi went south pretty fast. Maybe someone should be fired.

A tent erected by the Libyan government on Donald Trump's estate in Bedford was dismantled Wednesday, and both Trump and the Secret Service said Gadhafi wasn't coming.

For Gadhafi, it was just another failed attempt to find a place to spend time during the UN General Assembly — after his requests for space in Central Park, Englewood, N.J., and Manhattan's Upper East Side were all rejected.

Loathsome as he is - I mean Donald - I'm certain he would not knowingly invite Gadhafi to pitch a tent on this property. Apparently, it's income & investment property, like everything else Trump owns. Does Trump even use it personally?

It'll be revealed that a Trump corporate underling leased it to a Middle Eastern business contracted by Libya to locate a lawn for Gadhafi's luxury tent. This ambitious, insensitive lackey will very shortly hear the phrase, "Your fired," whether or not the employee knew the true purpose of the rental. Trump sees himself as a patriotic American, in his own perverse way, & no doubt he'll appear on Letterman's show over the next month to explain the whole thing, if not actually apologize.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A radio baseball night I like. Mets are home, Yanks late on coast at L.A. Mets playing out the string but we can still enjoy the kids. Yanks are 4-6 over the past 10. It ain't quite over.

CSI: Miami has already jumped the shark two or three times, each time becoming sillier & more wooden. Now Adam Rodriguez/Eric Delko, the warmest regular, is on the way out. Poor Eric. They shot Delko in the head twice, killed his sister, attached his wages, made a liar of his mother, & gave him a Russian gangster father. We know too much about these characters. But the show features some of the best explosions on TV - the series specialty - & they're always shown 10 times in slo mo from different angles. Like CSI: New York, no destination is more than a few minutes away & traffic is never a problem.

Favorite Delko moment. Flirting with CSI Natalia, alluding to their previous night's hot sex. She tells him that they were not, in fact, together the previous night. Quickly recovering from his embarrassment, Delko's smirking response: "Am I bad or what?" Whenever there's a crime in a hip club, Delko is familiar with the place.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Dear ShopRite

Contact Us form concerning my recent shopping experience.
At this ShopRite, a police officer at the door orders me to check my small knapsack. Since I walk everywhere, I always have my knapsack. I would not mind this, as many stores nowadays require bag checking. But here is the process for me:

I hand the knapsack to the person at customer service. I do not receive a bag check receipt. My knapsack usually holds a digital camera & often a library book.

When I've purchased my food items, I leave them unattended inside by the front window, retrieve my knapsack - sometimes from a different person who assumes it is my bag.

I retrieve unattended food, carry it & knapsack outside, place both on dirty sidewalk, pack the food into the knapsack, & throw the plastic bags away - in view of the police officer if he or she is outside.

This doesn't happen at Pathmark, where I often pack the food directly into my knapsack at the self-bag checkout, or do so quickly inside the store.

So you can understand why I rarely shop at ShopRite anymore. Tonight I was there after being in Home Depot, where I was not asked to check my knapsack.

Solution: At least post sign at door that all bags must be checked, & issue bag receipts.


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Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's pretty amazing to track a 2 pound package online from California via UPS. It just left Parsippany an hour ago, I think to Edison, where the local delivery truck picks it up.

Not watching Emmys. I don't care for award shows, & haven't seen most of the nominated programs anyway. Last year I had a pony in the race, John Adams, which I had seen in entirety first run.

My new title for Rutgers football: "Vanderbilt of the North." All the perks of a BCS conference school, few of the expectations. & not even all the perks. Vanderbilt students get to see Mississippi, Georgia, & Georgia Tech at home. Pittburgh may be ranked by the time they come to Piscataway.

Ramsey NJ

H.R. Parvin Druggist, Ramsey NJ
"Where we buy our Souvenirs"

Bon Bons & chocolate, & 10¢ Cures.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Who's the sleazeball

Ex-aide says Edwards fathered mistress' child

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A man who once claimed to have fathered the child of John Edwards' mistress says in a book proposal the former presidential candidate is the real father and that Edwards and worked with his campaign finance chairman to hide that secret, according to a newspaper report published online Saturday.

The New York Times said the book proposal by former Edwards aide Andrew Young states he helped facilitate the affair between Edwards and Rielle Hunter. According to the newspaper, Young wrote that Edwards once told Hunter they would wed after Edwards' wife, who has cancer, died.
Chatter now is Edwards will own up to paternity. As if it should matter to anyone but Elizabeth Edwards. She's had problems accepting this. But Elizabeth was, before John's downfall, one of the most persuasive, sensible, listened-to advocates of "family values" in America, if by values we mean issues of family health care & education. If she hasn't handled it so well in her public appearances, just ask yourself, Why is she supposed to? She's neither Hillary nor Laura.

One commentator at the Star-Ledger version of this news story wrote: "Can you imagine this sleazeball as president?"

In reply, I can imagine John Edwards as vice president, & he would have been a lot less harmful to our nation than Dick Cheney. In America's skewed morality, the nasty, deceitful manipulator behind the Iraq War, secret prisons, torture, & assaults on the privacy of American citizens, who thinks it's sport to buckshot captive quail on a game farm & is so inept he shoots his pal in the face, isn't a sleazeball.

(Cheating on a sick wife is alright, too, provided you Praise the Lord when you marry your mistress soulmate.)

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Drop & do fifty, flautist

JACKSON, Miss. — Jackson State University officials say about 20 members of the school's marching band are accused of being involved in hazing and have been suspended.

University spokesman Anthony Dean says the rest of the 300-member Sonic Boom of the South band would perform Saturday at JSU's football game against Grambling State.

Dean would not discuss details of the accusations.

In 2007, university officials had initially barred the entire band from performing at a football game against Southern University because section leaders made musicians do push-ups or crunches if they didn't perform correctly. However, the order was overturned two days later.

No one was disciplined, but officials limited the responsibilities of section leaders and began educating band members about hazing.

No surprise. Jackson State is the kind of historically black southern college where the music department is as important as the football team, there's prestige to being in the marching band, & the bands are highly competitive within sections & with other bands. I have no problem with that. It's a campus culture explored in the movie Drumline. But forcing sloppy musicians to do crunches is stupid. Make them practice more. Does a football coach discipline a player by making him learn Sousaphone?

If you want to hear dorky white kids blaring out wooden versions of "Hang On Sloopy" & "Hawaiian War Chant," watch Big Ten football.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Verizon sends two or three pieces of junk mail every week, all mentioning the convenience of using Verizon website to order new services & pay bills. Last week I signed into my Verizon online page to check something, & figured while I was there I would pay the phone bill. When I began that process, Verizon noted I'd never chosen a secret question for password retrieval, & would I like to do that? So I clicked Yes, wrote my secret question & answer, paid the bill, & logged out.

Today I received an envelope from Verizon containing a thank you for choosing a secret question online.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Peter, Paul & Mary

I had only one of their LPs, Album 1700, given to me as a gift. It had a hit song I disliked, "I Dig Rock & Roll Music," which was unnecessarily sarcastic, & wrong-headed in what it considered rock & roll. But not only were PP&M the progenitors of pop-folk acts like Donovan & The Mamas & the Papas, they were also peers. Because the album came out in 1967 & was hugely successful. Album 1700 also had a fine original song, "The Great Mandala," & an elevating rendition of a minor early Dylan song, "Bob Dylan's Dream."

We tend to forget that PP&M made a star of a fringe Greenwich Village songwriter named Bob Dylan. He knows how much he owes them for "Blowin' In the Wind." After those first two exiliarating years at the end of the folk-revival, as "voices of a generation, " performing at the "I Have A Dream" demonstration at the Lincoln Memorial, they remained popular & sold a lot of records throughout The Beatles years, outlasting The Kingston Trio, The Limelighters, The Journeymen, & all those other nearly forgotten folk groups. They didn't record an undeniably great album, but all their Sixties LPs include first rate songs.

PP&M could easily have wow'd the crowd at Woodstock. Everyone knew their most famous numbers. It may have been the on-going popularity of PP&M that allowed so many rock artists to express & indulge their folk music inclinations, & they were a bridge connecting Joni Mitchell & James Taylor to earlier folk performers.

PP&M broke up in 1970 - they were tired & tired of each other. It wasn't a deeply rancorous split, they loved each other. They began appearing together again in the late-Seventies, re-coalesced, & continued performing as they liked, on their own schedule, until Mary died. Parents brought their children to PP&M concerts, & the children grew up & brought their children, which is, as I think of it, old Pete Seeger's ideal. They had something for everybody, serious songs, love songs, silly songs, & lots of sing-a-long songs. Like Pete, they could sell out Carnegie Hall anytime they booked it. They were everything Pete's blacklisted group, The Weavers, had tried to be, & more. They were loved all over the world for good reason: They represented our better angels.

The beauty of Mary Travers was that she was just who we thought she was back in the Sixties; a hip Greenwich Village girl who grew up around the old folkies & leftists & came of age while the Beat poets were in town. She was, in her way, completely authentic. That's why I loved her, although I myself was never a folkie.

(Yes, I lived for many years with a woman who somewhat resembled Mary Travers. )

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Mary Travers

While riding on a train goin' west,
I fell asleep for to take my rest.
I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin' and singin' till the early hours of the morn.

from "Bob Dylan's Dream"

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An American Ending

SC man died hungry, solo in tent, baffling friends

ANDERSON, S.C. — Friends of a 39-year-old South Carolina man are trying to figure out why he never reached out for help before dying broke and alone in a zipped-up tent on the banks of a lake.

Bright but reclusive Civil War buff David Condon lost his job at a local museum and fell behind on his rent.

Sometime in early July he disappeared. On Labor Day weekend, a group of college kids vacationing at a condo complex a few hundred yards from his tent peeked inside and found his body. The local coroner says he died of pneumonia, made worse by malnutrition. He was dehydrated and had lost 50 pounds in a few months.

His best friend, Craig Drennon, saw no sign Condon was having money problems or spiraling into despair when the two got together nearly every week to drink beers and play backgammon.
The people calling themselves Condon's "friends," he probably - & more accurately - considered "acquaintances." His disappearance alarmed no one enough to go looking for him. They ought to ask themselves exactly what they could have & would have done for the man. Passed the hat? Treated him to lunch at Burger King? Stored his possessions for him when he was evicted? Suggested he work part-time at Walmart so he could make his car payments & sleep in the backseat? Urged him to seek more help from government & nonprofit agencies? Condon knew he was up shit creek without a paddle, putting up a false front for as long as he could, then withdrawing into his humiliation & sparing others his personal misery. They ought to thank him for not interrupting their backgammon to beg for spare change.

What happened to Condon is about as authentically American an ending in 2009 as one can have, dying homeless, hungry, & mentally & physically wasted at the edge of a wealthy society that extolls self-reliance over all other personal qualities, advertises "a dollar & a dream," begrudges providing basic health care to all its citizens & won't even crack down on a financial industry that rewards failure with multi-million dollar bonuses.

I wouldn't be surprised if Condon had a useless Blackberry with no wireless service & a dead battery in his pocket.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Neighborhood - Fresh Fruit

The friendliest of the local "convenience" stores. In a funky way, it opens out to neighborhood & invites people in. He gets a lot of afternoon commuter business from County employees. He doesn't sell coffee, phone cards, or cigars for blunts. He does sell flowers.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

The ceiling fell

Last night, a little after midnight, there was a terrible crashing noise, & it sounded like it was coming from the other room, although it could have been upstairs. The other room, which is my "attic,": is where I have a new PC temporarily set up. I flipped on the light & at first noticed nothing awry. The bathroom was alright. Examining the other room more closely, I saw that a ceiling patch job, done during the winter after a radiator in the apt upstairs leaked, had collapsed, taking more of the ceiling with it. It was by the window, opposite side of the room from the PC. Looked like more of the ceiling could come down. It is a major repair job. I didn't think the PC was at risk, but I unplugged & covered the tower & monitor against any small flying debris & dust. I don't do much in that room, but I was mulling over the idea of creating a PC space in there, getting a few more inexpensive metal shelf units & storing the boxes neatly, mostly books., laying down a cheap area rug. So better it happened now.

I called Louie, the guy who fixes things, although this repair job is beyond his skills. If I had my futon in there it would be right under the ceiling collapse, against the inside wall near the window like it is in this room, I could have been seriously injured.
I never gave my Verizon phone service much thought one way or another until a year ago. That's when a construction accident at a new school around the corner shut off land line phone & DSL service in the entire neighborhood for five days. In the followng month's billing I looked for a five day deduction. No surprise, there was none. We all were charged for services we didn't receive. In all other matters, Verizon has no problem keeping track of what customers do.

I tend to pay the phone bill every other month by old-fashioned check. I suppose I could sign up for autopay, which I use for several other services. A few years ago I forgot to pay for three months & my service was briefly terminated. The total phone bill hadn't topped $100. What's more, the third unpaid bill had no pay by or terminate notice on it. I guess the low amount didn't warrant a warning but the time triggered the service interruption.

Apparently for those reasons Verizon will not permit me to establish a separate online account for DSL, mailing me offers for special deals every other day but only if I sign up for DSL online. So screw them. I went with another ISP, one I've dealt with for years without incident.


What does not comport

Let's give a big round of applause to Federal District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff:
A Federal District judge on Monday overturned a settlement between the Bank of America and the Securities and Exchange Commission over bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch executives just before the bank took over Merrill last year.

The judge said that Bank of America “materially lied” in shareholder communications about the bonuses.

The $33 million settlement “does not comport with the most elementary notions of justice and morality,” wrote Jed S. Rakoff, the judge assigned to the case in federal court in Lower Manhattan.

The ruling directed both the agency and the bank to prepare for a possible trial that would begin no later than Feb. 1.

The case involved $3.6 billion in bonuses that were paid by Merrill Lynch late last year, just as that firm was about to be merged with Bank of America. Neither company provided details of the bonuses to their shareholders, who voted on Dec. 5 to approve the merger.

The judge focused much of his criticism on the fact that the fine in the case would be paid by the bank’s shareholders, who were the ones that were supposed to have been injured by the lack of disclosure.
What does the Judge have to do? Draw a cartoon caricature of a Wall Street banker with a horse dong about to rape a midget with the word "shareholder" tattooed above the ass, while a lascivious Uncle Sam peeks at the scene through the keyhole? Because that's the situation, folks.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Riverton NJ

Blue Lantern Tourist Cottages, Riverton NJ

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Derek Jeter

Jeter broke the New York Yankees’ hit record held by Lou Gehrig for more than seven decades when he singled to right in the third inning Friday night. His opposite-field grounder against Baltimore gave Jeter 2,722 hits, one more than Gehrig, whose Hall of Fame career was cut short by illness in 1939.
Derek Jeter was a baseball sweetheart when he came up to the Yankees to stay in 1996 & established himself in the lineup, & won Rookie of the Year & his first World Series ring. If you saw a female wearing a Yankees pinstripe jersey, chances were it had Jeter on the back. He was young, blandly good-looking, wore nice suits, enjoyed good Manhattan restaurants, had celebrity relationships (currently Minka Kelly). Paparazzi followed him around, New York sportswriters & gossip columnists tried to turn him into Broadway Joe Namath. After awhile it became obvious Jeter never did anything interesting outside the ballpark he'd let us see, & never said anything interesting ever. He didn't boast, or speak ill of other players & teams, or make predictions.

Jeter was careful with his image. The absence of controversy earns him millions in product endorsements. But he showed he was a 100% competitor. He stayed in shape. He wanted to win. He was consistant. He never dogged it to first base on a routine fly. He became a reliable, decent shortstop, if no Ozzie Smith. If you like baseball, you like watching Derek Jeter play baseball. Year by year, he piled up the numbers. He's having one of his best seasons ever.

When I was a kid , the most famous Yankee of all time was (& still is) Babe Ruth. But the most fondly remembered old timers were Gehrig & Joe DiMaggio. Baseball nostalgia isn't my thing, not having been into the game as a kid. It has season-to-season continuity, but my interest is always current; this season, slightly detached. It wasn't difficult for me to let go of the Mets' division chances early on & still find reasons to enjoy the games, paying more attention to the Yankees. I've gotten really grumpy the past few seasons when the Mets carried me through the summer & blew it in September. This weekend's series with Philly has introduced me to the Phils' bullpen troubles, & they don't look pennant quality, much less capable of taking on the Yankees. Good batting lineup, though. As for the Yanks, well, nothing is guaranteed in postseason, nobody knows it better than Derek Jeter.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Still Here

The best thing was that New York City went ahead & elected a mayor of moderate political & nonalarmist temperament who, from his own business experience, took a long economic view & understood it wouldn't do to turn Manhattan into a fortress island. He believed the city had a hopeful future & gambled on it.

Many of us were wondering at the time if we should put more distance between ourselves & the Port of New York.

We're still here.

The worst thing was a president who couldn't build on the good will of a shocked world, who couldn't finish the dangerous & difficult task we had generally agreed upon in Afghanistan & instead lied & manipulated America into a war-for-profit that his backers had intended to wage before he had taken office.

There's the contrast. A nation bogged down in two wars; a revived Taliban; a national economy in tatters; an irrational, paranoid, extremist right more obsessed with the new president's birth certificate than with bin Laden & Al-Qaeda or our own economic recovery. & in New York, a vibrant international city toughing out a recession, & a mayor - like him or not - about to accomplish what "America's Mayor" couldn't pull off from a smoking pit using the bullhorn of fear in the anxiety following 9/11: a third term.

I don't care for midtown Broadway as a pedestrian mall. But it could have become a desolate, scary place patroled by National Guard in Humvees. It might have been unimaginable for thousands of people to pack the streets outside Ed Sullivan Theater as Paul McCartney performed from the marquee, as they did last month. Downtown may have been largely abandoned by major businesses.

The shame of it is so much of America didn't learn from New York City. The place is too diverse, too broad-minded, too unconcerned with matters that future Americans will regard as petty, reactionary, bigoted, & foolish. That's how great cities are; New York, L.A., San Francisco, Chicago. Tough, resilient, & hopeful.

The President advises children to study hard, & some seriously unbalanced Americans go nuts. New York, having constructed two new baseball stadiums, begins digging a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel & debates the long-term revitalization of Coney Island.

9/11 Day is different around here. Everyone lost someone or has friends who lost someone. We've met people who were downtown that morning. It's personal.

We're still here.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

New spare change rule

I hand out spare change. Usually depends upon how much I got jangling in my pocket. I had two rules: I don't want to hear the word "borrow" in the appeal; & I never give change as payment for some unwanted "service," like playing doorman at a downtown coffee shop or trying to help me buy a train ticket from the machine. It's often a form of intimidation. It isn't subcontracted employment. If they can hang around the train station all day actively pestering people, they can offer to sweep a store's sidewalk & pick up the trash or something useful, & it also shows they have enough control & attention span to go to the social services office or St. Joseph's & discuss their situations with a social worker. I don't care what they do with the change. Or I didn't until I saw the guy who often lurks around 7/11 asking for change sitting out in front of the store scratching off a lottery card. Now I have a third rule. If I catch them using the money to play losing odds for more money, no more change from me.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Whew, that was a scare. I carefully unpacked & set up & hooked together the new PC & monitor in the other room - in a few days it'll switch places with the old PC. Wanted to make sure it booted up & worked, let Windows do automatic set up thing, become a little familiar, & check the basic settings. The monitor resolution had to be changed because the start button & desktop icons were hanging somewhere off in space to the left of the monitor. Not making any major decisions or loading software or transferring files Look through at the introductions, poke around, & shut it down. There' no hard copy manual for the PC or Windows. Tomorrow I'll make the original configuration virgin restore disks; right now I have only CDRs & want to record them on DVDs. Windows doesn't supply an o/s disk with the preloaded version of Vista. In the middle of this there's a 15 second brownout. My neighborhood has a lot of short power outtages. So of course both PCs shut down, the ancient clock radio blinked to 12:00, & the old-fashioned phone message machine erased my digital greeting. Oh crap. I thought if this new baby hasn't imprinted itself yet & can't handle the situation I am really screwed.

The old PC has no problem with power shutoffs. Turn it back on, it automatically runs a quick scan, the desktop appears, that's it.

Came through it alright. First music played on new PC: Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich, performed by Grand Valley State New Music Ensemble.

Unreal, I'll even have a cellphone in a few days, a special deal for people who don't use them much. I'll probably be in Dunkin' Donuts using up the minutes calling the people who complain I never call. I've reached the new millenium.


Mets Silent 6th

Interesting experiment during the Mets TV broadcast last night, home game with the Marlins. There were no announcers at all for the entire 6th inning. None except the Citi Field batter introductions. TV viewers got all information from the game itself, the graphics, & watching the ump call balls & strikes. The camera showed plenty of crowd shots, vendors, individuals, kids, the dugouts. One fan was playing with Blackberry, another doing crossword puzzle. All ambien sound including an annoying cowbell tapping out the Let go Mets rhythm.

The top of the inning ended with Mets somehow converting an errant throw from right field missing the cutoff man & slipping past the catcher into a tag out at the plate. Strange play, but required no explanation from Ron Darling.

Carlos Beltran, on the DL since June & much missed, hit a double in the bottom of the inning & was stranded on second base.

I liked Silent 6th, although half-an-inning would be fine. A long rally, a three run homer, a bad error call for talk.

I'm a fan of radio baseball broadcasts, the rhythms of play-by-play & commentary interspersed with product tags & short commercials. I can compare the styles, weaknesses & strengths of Yankees & Mets radio booths. There's far too much gab on TV considering how little needs to be described, they don't have to create pictures. The Mets crew is very good, too many of them at times, no where near annoying as Fox & ESPN TV broadcasts that can hardly stay focused on the game itself, there's so much extraneous information, & which lack the committment of excitable partisan announcers who travel with the teams.

The Silent 6th is nice touch. Even better is when baseball announcers understand there's no "dead air" during a game, & their art & craft includes knowing how & when to let the ball park speak for itself.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Morro Castle 1934

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Morro Castle disaster when the cruise ship caught fire off the Jersey coast in bad weather. . 137 people died. There's still mystery & controversy surrounding the tragedy; the death of the captain, the actions of the crew. Many books have been written. Taken in tow, the crippled ship broke its line & beached at Asbury Park, the startling images becoming classic postcards.

One of the rescuers was fishing boat Capt. Joe Bogan, whose descendents are still prominent party boat operators.

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No surprise actor Stephanie Courtney, who instantly & brilliantly creates "Flo" on the Progressive Insurance commercials, is a veteran member of The Groundlings improv comedy troupe. "The way I play her, she's pretty much the most asexual thing on TV right now." Also my impression of Flo.

We all knew a "Flo" in high school & college. Liked being around her sometimes, not for too long. She's the kind of girl you enjoy running into at a party, she'll play a beer bottle flute duet with you in the kitchen & act more inebriated than she is. Most guys don't want to get close to her, & the ones who do might be fantasizing that Flo has bondage fantasies, which she won't act out with them even if she does. The Flo type carries a torch for a guy (maybe a gal) she can't have at the moment - or probably ever. She's forthright up to a point, even about carrying a torch if you pry enough, but always keeping a distance & holding back something, never quite connecting. Flo thinks what she's holding back - her third dimension - makes her mysterious & fascinating. But she's trying to keep others from discovering what she's hiding is much like what she's showing. We like Flo because what she shows isn't phony. In the commercial, Flo has found a niche in a strange, antiseptic, corporate workplace. She can in real life, too. Flo is adaptable, possibly with a capacity to be amoral, a team player for the product & an enthusiastic facilitator - provided she's permitted her few outward eccentricities. Otherwise, she becomes resentful & gossipy. Then she's banished to a computer in a windowless cubicle in the warehouse.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

What do you do when you walk into a supermarket aisle & a squat man halfway up the aisle sneezes without covering his mouth? The woman with him said, "Bless you." I felt like yelling, "What the hell's the matter with you, jerk? The flu shots aren't even available until next month."

I needed an item in that aisle. I held my breath & grabbed it.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Wildwood NJ

I says to Jim, "Let's take a swim;"
But to the shore they brought us,
"You've saved our lives, brave men," says Jim,
"Them mermaids nearly caught us."

They say it was those deviled crabs,
With champy, beer and highballs free,
Last night, that made the big sea snake
I know I saw, appear to me.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009


Jackie Calme's piece in NYT on what Obama learned from the Clinton '94 health care defeat:
Lesson 1: Failure Is Not an Option.
Lesson 2: Know your audience - insured taxpayers.
Lesson 3: Move before the honeymoon ends.
Lesson 4: Leave the details to Congress.
Lesson 5: Co-opt the opposition.
Lesson 6: Take what you can get.
With years to mull it over & a full term in the Senate, I'm fairly certain Hillary Clinton learned those same lessons. I'm not the only one asking What would Hillary do? Several of the reasons I voted for Barack rather than Hillary no longer hold. I knew she was more "liberal" than Barack on health care reform, & a few other major issues. She was far more experienced, more "qualified." But she was a Clinton. Barack's administration so much resembles the Clinton-the-Sequel I'd imagined that now I'd reconsider my primary election choice. By appointing Hillary SoS, she was removed from the health care debate when there's no one to pick up Ted Kennedy's torch. It's one of her specialties.

I think Hillary would do a better job on health care reform. She'd set the bar higher with more space to lower it. Let's remember Hillary's bases of support during the primary. She was winning the Democratic equivalents of the Repugs now showing up at those town halls: Retirees, white working class, suburban moms, Blue Dog Democrats. Had not Bill so outraged African-Americans in South Carolina, I believe she would have kept the good will of Black voter. As president, she'd be well-positioned to push health care reform. She didn't run on "Change you can believe in." She ran on her experience as a political insider capable of doing what she said she would do. She would line up her dominoes, & be less interested in bipartisanship than in using the Democratic majorities she & Bill failed to corral in '94. But they were outsiders then, the rubes from Arkansas.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Summer reading list

I can relate to that. I used to plow through a wide variety of books over the summer other than The List. I wasn't very discriminating. From a NYT article, The Future of Reading:
JONESBORO, Ga. — For years Lorrie McNeill loved teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Harper Lee classic that many Americans regard as a literary rite of passage.

But last fall, for the first time in 15 years, Ms. McNeill, 42, did not assign “Mockingbird” — or any novel. Instead she turned over all the decisions about which books to read to the students in her seventh- and eighth-grade English classes at Jonesboro Middle School in this south Atlanta suburb.

Among their choices: James Patterson‘s adrenaline-fueled “Maximum Ride” books, plenty of young-adult chick-lit novels and even the “Captain Underpants” series of comic-book-style novels.
The approach Ms. McNeill uses, in which students choose their own books, discuss them individually with their teacher and one another, and keep detailed journals about their reading, is part of a movement to revolutionize the way literature is taught in America’s schools. While there is no clear consensus among English teachers, variations on the approach, known as reading workshop, are catching on.
“What child is going to pick up ‘Moby-Dick’?” said Diane Ravitch, a professor of education at New York University who was assistant education secretary under President George H. W. Bush. “Kids will pick things that are trendy and popular. But that’s what you should do in your free time.”

Indeed, some school districts are moving in the opposite direction. Boston is developing a core curriculum that will designate specific books for sixth grade and is considering assigned texts for each grade through the 12th.
Moby Dick? Maybe kids can find some old Classic Illustrated comics. I did more than one book report from those.

Summer reading lists did greatly improve over the years, compared to the ones I received from teachers. Not that Harold Robbins novels were ever on any of them, nor would teacher now think much of "The Carpetbaggers." But my mom had them, so I read them. In the Sixties, in my high school, even "Franny & Zooey" & "On the Road" were more or less "alternative" reading.

The local library has some alluring reading for teens, including a genre of very realistic Black urban culture novels.

I'll always remember my freshman English class taking what seemed like a month to collectively grind through "Great Expectations." Why? Because the head of the high school English dept was 100 years old.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

My new PC arrives tomorrow or Sat., new monitor Sat. or Tues. Thanks to George W. & the Democratic congress for the stimulus check they sent a year ago, valid for year, set aside & not deposited until three weeks ago when I began shopping around online in earnest. If everything plugs together & boots up, it'll be at least a week until it's set up & I feel comfortable enough to bring it online & do all the downloading it'll require, then I'll post on what & why of it. Tonight I walked to Home Depot for a surge protector.
Browsing through cellphone brochures in Dunkin' Donuts. No frills Tracphone was easiest to understand. Virgin had more plans & was oriented toward college students. Boost featured an unsmiling black guy on front with a reddish bandana holding up a phone & the phrase, "Where you at?" underneath. Inside we learn Boost is a "tight fit for how you roll." Of the Boost walkie talkie, favorite of street corner drug crews, "Now that's real." Add more airtime to keep Boost account "on & poppin'." "Trick out your phone" with ringtones, cost deducted from your "stash of minutes." For the Spanish version, flip over the brochure, the cover is young Latina asking "¿Dónde estás?"

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Me: What's up?
Former Girlfriend: I'm waiting for Eliot to get back from the store.
Me: Why?
F G: He's bringing me a sandwich.
Me: We were supposed to have lunch, that's why I'm here.
F G: Well, he was going.
Me: Why didn't you wait for me, we could all have lunch.
F G: I don't know.
Me: It's a long walk, why didn't you drive him?
F G: He was going anyway.
Me; Sheesh.
Not a nightmare, but I woke up annoyed. We didn't break up over this kind of thing, yet it's something I never missed about her. She was a nice person, & generous, but she had a blindness, I was always waiting, or making adjustments for inexplicable minor decisions.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Wonderful singer, long career

spanning generations of appreciative fans.
Chris Connor, the great jazz singer whose lush, foggy voice and compressed emotional intensity distilled a 1950s jazz reverie of faraway longing in a sad cafe, died on Saturday in Toms River, N.J. She was 81 and lived in Toms River.

A singer who used little vibrato and was admired for her inventive rhythmic alterations of ballads, Ms. Connor belonged to the cool school of jazz singers that included Anita O’Day, June Christy, Chet Baker and Julie London.
Our new mailboxes installed outside by sidewalk.

Me: How long before the gangbangers spray it?
Louie (handing me key): I'm the gangbanger. Have these in my other buildings, no problem. It's federal property.

Not that the laws stopped them from painting the blue ones on the corners. Louie's plenty tough but he's no gangbanger. At least the box is larger, no scrunching larger envelopes & I can have books & CDs delivered here instead up the street at Gina's. No names or apt numbers on the boxes. I'd prefer them on the walkway to the front entry, away from the sidewalk.
"I shall give a propaganda reason for starting the war; whether it is plausible or not. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth."
Adolph Hitler, 8/22/39

Today is the 70th Anniversary of the start of World War Two. Germany invaded Poland from three sides, claiming it was a "defensive action" against Polish aggression. Two weeks later the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the East, the infamous "stab in the back," & Poland ceased to exist as a nation.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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