Archive for September 2008

House Rejects Bailout Vote


95 Democrats and 133 Republicans voted against the bill. Republicans blamed Pelosi’s speech for making the vote partisan. However that doesn’t explain how the Speaker failed to sway nearly a hundred – or 40% – of her own party. Bet there’s a whirring sound coming out of Tip O’Neill’s grave.

Leadership LOL

The Myth of Sustainable Living

File this one under “D” for “Duh…”

According to the researchers, people who regularly recycle rubbish and save energy at home are also the most likely to take frequent long-haul flights abroad. The carbon emissions from such flights can swamp the green savings made at home, the researchers claim.

Stewart Barr, of Exeter University, who led the research, said: “Green living is largely something of a myth. There is this middle class environmentalism where being green is part of the desired image. But another part of the desired image is to fly off skiing twice a year. And the carbon savings they make by not driving their kids to school will be obliterated by the pollution from their flights.”

Some people even said they deserved such flights as a reward for their green efforts, he added.

Hattip: The Deceiver

The Council Has Spoken: 9/26/2008

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council: The Glittering Eye: Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

Noncouncil: The Jawa Report: Hope, Change and Lies

Complete voting.

A Flickering Glow on the Mantel

Three yahrzeit candles flicker on the mantel in front of a black and white photograph taken sixty years ago. The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity punctuated by fits of grief that seemingly come from nowhere and strike without warning.

I’ve been hit by these fits too, and I’m amazed. Over the years I have become so cold to the world, so disappointed by the way Evil and the stupid profit while the Good and the intelligent suffer, that I thought my skin was thicker. But there I was in the room of a dying old woman who honestly would have been appalled to know that I was at her bedside, turning away to look at the office buildings outside the window as I struggled to hold back the tears. “If you’re going to blubber I don’t need you here,” the Wife had threatened. I was supposed to be her rock, but my tears were quickly eroding it.

So I turned an objective and clinical eye to the proceedings instead and found comfort in Science. The “tree” of instruments and machines keeping her mother alive were accomplishing their task -maintaining her condition – and could have done so seemingly indefinitely.

Her body was racked with cancer. The metaplastic breast cancer that had been excised six weeks ago had been thought to have been contained; the metastatic work up on her had been negative. But the surgeon had seen a “few nodules” on the scans of her lungs, and we knew that this particular type of cancer really “liked” the lungs – as well as other viscera. Her surgeon and oncologist were confident they had caught the cancer in its tracks, but the Wife and I weren’t so sure. The mother-in-law began to experience gut pain, and her doctors felt that this could have been caused by a bowel obstruction brought about by the pain medications she was on. She was brought into the hospital and two weeks ago had a laproscopic bowel resection. They pulled out a fist-sized bezoar that “didn’t look like cancer”; of course a few days ago the pathology came back and it was.

During the scanning in the interim the “few nodules” became “numerous nodules” on her lungs, and were deemed “consistent with metastatic disease.” Up to this point God had merely winged her; He finally hit His mark – and it was up to the Wife to decide her mother’s fate.

The tree maintained her bodily functions. It fed her milky-white nutrition through a tube. It extracted her urine and feces from other tubes. Another tube filled what looked to me like a coin sorter with fluid from her lungs. Other tubes pumped in vancomycin, fentanyl and other drugs. Then of course there was the ventilator that every few seconds pumped her chest up with oxygen and made her head jerk backwards. Her eyes were slightly open but it was clear that she was gone. The tree of life kept her body alive, but my Wife’s mother was gone and nothing was going to bring her back.

The old woman had plans. She had planned a trip to the Copper Canyon in Mexico with the Wife in November. She wanted to stand on the Great Wall of China, and the Wife had struggled to find just the right tour package that could make her wish come true. In the days before her mastectomy she had insisted on getting her nails and hair done, and while in the hospital fretted about the condition of the bushes surrounding her house. We assured her that Fall was not the time to be trimming bushes, but she never seemed to believe us. She planned to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua with the Kid next week when it opened. But these plans like so many others of the dead simply evaporate with their final breath.

On Thursday there had been a change in her condition; the ventilator settings had to be increased and her blood pressure was falling. The Wife called me at work, and I came home to get her; we then stopped by the Kid’s school and pulled him out of class. “I knew this early dismissal wasn’t going to be good,” he said as we drove to the hospital.

The Wife met with the team of doctors assigned to the Mother-in-law’s case. There conclusions were undeniable. Her mother had metastatic cancer of the metaplastic variety – one of the rarer forms out there that’s so rare Medicine doesn’t know how to treat it. The fungal pneumonia which infected her lungs was not responding to treatment, and her prognosis was poor.

How long could she stay on the “tree”? The Wife learned that some patients in the ICU had been there for months with no hope. After awhile family members stop visiting, and they completely avoid the tough decision as their loved one lays entwined in the roots of the tree unable to escape on their own.

As as a doctor the Wife has seen death up close numerous times; I had not. I’ve reached an age where hiding from death is not an option and to support the Wife while her mother died.

An angel of sorts, a physician’s assistant named Carmelina, had attended to us throughout the ordeal. She took the Kid with her down to the cafeteria on break as the Wife and I stood at the mother-in-law’s side watching her draw her final breaths and our eyes glued to the heart monitor.

An old friend asked why the old woman disliked me. I wrote

I haven’t figured that out. When I first met (the in-laws)
in 1994 on the way to Africa I think I struck them as a bit of a
rube; my manners weren’t the best. The first time I ate brie was at a
restaurant with them and I made some stupid comment comparing it to
cheese-whiz. Her mother never liked the fact that I’m basically a shy
person; she often would force me to look her in the eye when I talked to

Truth is I wanted to like them. Since my father died when I was a kid and
the Wife’s read science fiction, was a scientist and historian and liked
computers – interests that I shared – I hoped to make some kind of
connection with him; but I never did. The conversations we had were
forced, and I always felt uncomfortable during them.

I cut their grass and did minor repairs around their house. When her
father came down with pneumonia, I was the one who drove him to the
hospital. I skipped work to take him to his chemo. Every crisis I was
there for them. But her mother would always claim that I did nothing for
them. When you would point things out, she would be surprised and not
remember them – or impugn my motives. Her belief that I did nothing was so
deeply ingrained that it struck me as pathological.

On top of this I proved that I was completely devoted to their daughter
and our son. She wanted to go to medical school, and I supported her
decision. Every scrap she got into with anyone I would always take her
side. “You always take her side,” her mother often told me – as a freaking

Meanwhile, slowly invisible lines were being crossed. On the Kid’s sixth
birthday we were at the in-laws house. Wife’s sister was at the time in
Cincinnati with her family. Wife and I were convinced that she was an
alcoholic and tried to convince the in-laws. She happened to call while we
were there, and the Wife refused to speak with her. This led to a huge fight
with her father screaming at me and kicking us out of the house. “This is
the worst birthday ever,” our son cried in the car. Her parents finally
realized that her sister was a drunk soon after, but the line had been

Wife’s mother was an emotional sadist. She would get into moods where it
seemed she took pleasure out of making the Wife unhappy, and that made me
bristle. You could watch her press the Wife’s buttons, probing her weaknesses
until she got a reaction. She seemed to take pleasure out of inflicting

After awhile I stopped volunteering to help. If the Wife asked me to help
them I did, but you can’t keep kicking a dog and expect him to run to you
when you come home.

Things worsened after her father died; her mother became extremely
negative and never really emotionally recovered from the loss. She also
became jealous of our relationship. “You have Scott,” she would
say to the Wife, “I have no one.”

I’ve shed some tears over her death, but I’m not sure why.

Why they didn’t like me? I don’t know.

She would have been horrified, but as I stood beside her and watched her agonal breaths I felt a deep sadness. This photograph had been slipped in a baggie and rested on her abdomen, a reminder of the life and vitality of the dying old woman. The fact that she had lived a full life did little to take away the sting I felt, and provided no comfort at all to her daughter that placed cool washcloths on her head and spoke gently to her, “It’s okay. Go to dad. He’s waiting for you.”

The heart monitor showed a rhythm over 90 beats per minute, but then it began to dip into the seventies, and surely but slowly it began a gentle descent. It reminded me for some reason like an aircraft coming in for gentle landing as it plateaued in the seventies for a few moments then glided into the sixties, then the fifties. The gradual descent continued and I noted the last vestiges of humanity leave the old woman’s body – what little there was left after all the suffering it had experienced over the prior weeks.

And a deep realization struck me. Whatever my rational mind tried to explain, my instincts told me that I was missing something. This was Death but it wasn’t the end for the old woman; there was something else that existed beyond it that was as real as the machines and tubes before me. It is an innate knowledge – something so visceral that I really can’t explain it.

All I can say is that I may deny the existence of a God, but it’s getting harder for me to state that there is nothing beyond death. Granted I have no proof of this beyond a feeling, and recognize that feelings can be viewed as the results of uncontrolled emotions, hopes and dreams. But when I objectively consider this feeling, the rationality seems almost as childish and empty as an atheist considers a belief in heaven to be.

The mother-in-law is dead, but I feel that she isn’t gone. It doesn’t make sense I know, but then again so many things don’t. Wrap your mind around the wave/particle duality and tell me afterward if that is any less stranger than the possibility of life after death. But I have no proof beyond pure instinct; there’s no double-slit experiment that can conclusively prove it.

Science and Faith. Both have their faults, both their strengths. Blend them together and I think you have a better more accurate representation of reality than either alone.   At the very least the combination strikes me as more humane.

The heart monitor descended into the thirties than glided in for a landing at 0. A nurse came in and turned off the monitor. I hugged the Wife and we turned and left the room.

The photograph sits on the mantel and the yahrzeit candles burn into nothingness.

A Calm End

The mother-in-law passed away at 6:03 tonight with the Wife and me at her side. She would have hated knowing that I was there, but I was.

She was a good woman who missed the man she loved.

Now she’s with him.

May they both rest in peace.

Dama and Da, 1947

A Lack of Clarity

As I laid in bed trying to sleep and not disturb the Wife or the sleeping animals on the covers I heard a garbled voice on the answering machine. Phone calls in the early morning hours are never good. The 83 year old Mother-in-law has been in the hospital for the past month with one thing after another, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise when I crept out of bed, listened to the message and called the hospital back. “It’s family,” the nurse said as she handed it to the doctor. He needed to speak to the Wife and had left messages on her cell phone. I said that she was asleep; he didn’t object when I said I would wake her.

Her family had once numbered over a dozen, now the Wife was the only one left to make life and death decisions over the fate of her mother.  Her father, a retired research chemist at Du Pont, died three years ago. Her eldest brother had died of diabetes complications thirty years ago. Her youngest brother drifted into madness of mindless matings with women and religious cults of one sort or another. Her sister, my last drinking buddy before I went into recovery, now resided in Las Vegas with her co-dependent. Once she had learned that her mother was in the hospital she had stopped calling; reality tends to interfere with one’s alcohol-fueled fantasies. Her two children, newly-minted adults both, haven’t called or visited their grandmother in months. One, who graduated high school in June, works at the local Target when not at college. We say “hi” to each other as we pass in the aisles as our familial relationship withers.

So it was left to my Wife while speeding on a highway patrolled by the occasional Delaware State Trooper and the lone drunk driver to make a critical decision.  Her mother’s oxygen level was dropping and they needed to place her on a ventilator . “But she’s signed a DNR,” she said. There’s no DNR on file she was told. The pressurized mask was failing to keep her blood O2 level up. Intubation was the only option. Would she authorize it?

Somewhere on a darkened stretch of I-95 the Wife relented and agreed. By the time she arrived minutes later she found her mother sedated and on the vent. Sure enough the DNR bracelet she had worn prior was missing from her arm.

When she met the hospitalist she learned that her mother had screamed, and the nurse rushed to her bed and found her short of breath and struggling to breathe. “Call my daughter,” she said before sliding into unconsciousness, “I want to say good-bye.”
The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the local hospital is a completely separate unit. Once a doctor signs off on the patient, he or she is wheeled through a set of locked double doors into a cluster of small vestibules facing the nurse’s station. A new team of doctors and nurses takes over control, and the hospitalist who had cared for a patient often may never see him or her again. Within each vestibule lays a patient attached to a tree-like stand of monitors and machines by roots of electronic leads and plastic tubes.These are the sickest of the sick, I later explain to the Kid. Anyone sicker than this dies. A bearded old man lays in one vestibule next to the Mother-in-law; on the other side of her lays an elderly black woman curled up in a loose fetal position. All lay sedated and are completely oblivious as the doctors and nurses pass from one to the other, checking vital signs or changing settings on one of the machines on the “tree”.

Fluids of various colors hang from branches of the tree. Some drip into my mother-in-law while others are collected below her bed as she lays asleep, mouth slightly open from the ventilator tube that causes her chest to rise and fall rhythmically, a barely perceptible hiss in between each “breath”. I notice that one electronic monitor reads “12:00” like VCRs used throughout American households until they were replaced by DVDs and Tivos.

The Kid steps hesitantly towards his grandmother, and slowly takes her hand. “I love you,” he says, a hint of emotion to his voice as he squeezes her hand. She doesn’t respond, nor does she make any movement when her daughter leans close to her and whispers “I love you mom,” into her ear. I stand out of the way beyond the head of the bed next to the “tree,” allowing my curiousity to stand in the way of an inappropriate emotional moment.

As I examine the finely crafted tubes and machines, each the result of precise application of engineering and science, I’m left to wonder at the conundrum we now find ourselves in – “we” as a society as well as “we” the family. While my mother-in-law and I do not get along for reasons that I’ve never quite understood, I wish her no harm. Yet I recognize the question that my Wife must answer alone, and the larger one our society must grapple with.

When is it enough?

A mastectomy leads to a colon resection leads to possible sepsis in an 83 year old woman. Where is the line that says simply, enough?

Try as we might we desperately look for it but it’s nowhere to be found. In our case the Mother-in-law can survive the sepsis and slowly gather her strength. As she becomes stronger she can move to a rehab a facility and by the Holidays could be busying about her daily life as independently as she was before the breast cancer.

Or God could take another pot-shot at her and she could become sick with something else.

If there is a line that we cross that says clearly, emphatically, “that’s enough,” we have yet to see it. Unfortunately its lack is making us question the lines very existence.

One of the more painful arguments I had on this website came from my unwavering support of Terry Schiavo-Schindler family’s fight to keep her alive. I don’t regret my support of her family against her husband, and while I believe her case to be fundamentally different than my mother-in-law’s I do think it holds some similarities. For one thing in Schiavo-Schindler’s case there were no definitive lines (although her husband and his attorney would disagree) just as there aren’t any today with my mother-in-law’s condition. My mother-in-law is also 83 years old; she’s live longer than most people born the same year she was.  

So without the lines, without the clarity that they bring we are left to weigh in the end, what she would want us to do. This is what the Wife is doing as she carries the burden of making the decisions for her mother’s care. All I can do is listen to her, agree with her opinions and rub her back as she unloads the burden for a few minutes.

Her mother doesn’t know it but she is in the best of hands.

More to (surely) come…

The Council Has Spoken: Sept 19, 2008

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council: Bookworm Room – False Syllogisms

Noncouncil: Brits at their Best – 9/11/1777 What if

Full voting here.

Freddie and Fannie Meltdown

Who was right? John McCain.
Speaking May 25, 2006:

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

Who was wrong? Barack Obama – who pocketed $126,349 in contributions from the two, second only to Democrat Christopher Dodd. The bill never made it out of committee thanks to Dodd – who headed it while receiving favorable mortgage terms from Countrywide.

Will the Democrats be filleted by the Mainstream Media for their ties to “Big Mortgage” the same way the Republicans have been tarred by the epithet “Big Oil?” I’m not holding my breath.

$250,000 is Closer Than You Think

One of the greatest weapons in the GOP’s arsenal in the battle for the White House is Joe Biden’s mouth.

Biden says he and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama want to “take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people.”

Under the Democrats’ economic plan, people earning more than $250,000 a year would pay more in taxes while those earning less — the vast majority of American taxpayers — would receive a tax cut.

Biden told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday that, in his words, “it’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.”

I don’t make it now, but I hope to someday thanks to the Wife’s income. What Joe doesn’t realize is that for many Americans, a quarter of a million a year is imaginable. While our household is nowhere near that number, we can imagine it; it’s not like the CEO salaries we read about where they take home tens and hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Even winning the lottery won’t net you annual salaries like those.

But a quarter of a million could be a combined household of two IT managers, or a vet and a vet tech, or a lawyer and a school teacher, a household that owns a small business or numerous other combinations. Note that at this level we are not talking about the idle rich; even $250k worth of investments will not net you more than $25,000-$50,000 annual income, so $250,000 is income from those working and contributing to society.

$250,000 is within the realm of possibility, and by redefining the wealthy at that level the Democrats prove once again why their message of “socking it to the rich” usually fails. I’m all for punishing those who took no risks and yet received all the rewards before the latest economic meltdown, but not by setting the “wealth” bar at such a low level.

Meanwhile Joe gives a measly $369 a year to charity on his income of $319k. People earning that income average $40,000. I don’t know about the average, but I make far less than Joe and give away roughly 4 times that a year.

Will Obama Pull an Eagleton?

Being from St. Louis and a former Democrat I have a warm spot in my heart for Sen. Tom Eagleton. Not only was Sen. Eagleton a fine senator for Missouri, he also played an important role in my brother’s adoption of a Vietnamese orphan in 1973. This was months after he was dropped by McGovern like an ugly puppy from McG’s ticket, who went on to lose in one of the worst political shellackings the Republic has ever seen.

Eagleton was a good man regardless of the fact that he had electroshock therapy, and I was quite happy when I recently came across his autograph that he had given my sister on a TWA flight in 1974. I have never quite forgiven McGovern for his stupidity in 1972, and everytime I’ve seen the old liberal get trotted out of his padded cell by the Democrats I remember what he did to his fellow senator from the Midwest.

Realclearpolitics is reporting that some leftist blogs are pushing for the One to ditch Biden from the ticket and substitute Hillary. I don’t think it’s very likely for several reasons, but especially because I don’t believe the clique around Obama really understands Obama’s failure to electrify the electorate as he has the mainstream media and Hollywood elite. You would think that with the press exposure and star-power behind him the election in November would simply be a formality on his way to his coronation in January; yet he’s running even in the polls.

 I also don’t see them as being able to roll over on their backs and show their bellies to Hillary Clinton, nor do I see HRC accepting the position. If the Obamassiah is in trouble, it’s in her best interest to let him sink beneath the waves and prepare herself for her coronation as the Democratic candidate in 2012.  

There Must Be Blood

The economic meltdown of firms like Merril Lynch, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Frannie and Freddie, and soon AIG is doing what no Marxist college professor or Soviet-era sleeper cell has ever managed to do: nationalize a huge swath of the American economy. Laissez-faire capitalism has been chucked out a Wall Street window in a panic, followed by desperate phone calls and face-to-face meetings with the Fed. European socialists are left scratching their heads as America races to nationalize an industry that had just recently been the “poster-boy” of American capitalism.

The US taxpayer is paying for the collapse. This is the same tax payer facing plummeting home prices and 35% credit card interest rates, the one who cannot escape thousands of household debts thanks to the Bankruptcy Reform bill of 2005. Yet the people running 100 year old firms into bankruptcy with hundreds of billions of dollars of debt are able to walk away with tens of millions of dollars in stock options and bonuses.

It’s time to sharpen the headsman’s axe and erect the scaffold. If the US taxpayer is going to pay for the hubris of the banks and investment brokerages, their leaders must be sacrificed for nothing less than the future of Capitalism is at stake. If they are able to walk away from this mess unscathed, then the politicians who allow them to get away must replace them on the scaffold. While this option may superficially appeal to the Obamanistas, his Number Two Joe Biden would be in the first group due to his sponsoring of the Bankruptcy bill that provides more onerous terms on those making thousands a year than those making tens of millions. Politicians from both parties including The One himself have received millions of dollars from the same firms they now criticize. Anyone who thinks that the bloodletting will stay on the GOP’s side of the aisle hasn’t been paying attention.

French Revolution Execution
Lehman Brother’s CEO Richard Fuld’s Future?

There must be blood if faith is to be restored in the capitalist system, where one is rewarded for taking risks and should things turn out badly, suffer accordingly. Being forced out by the board or losing face at the country club is not enough. Corporate leaders must be held personally accountable for the mess they helped create and manage. If we live under a system where the owner of a small restaurant that fails loses everything, then in fairness so should the top executives of a firm.

There is no bailout option for the small businessman. The Fed is not arranging a bailout for Mitchell’s Train, Toy and Hobby store, a local institution after 55 years in North Wilmington that has fallen on hard times and is now closing. There are no golden parachutes for Joe Mitchell, Jack Mitchell and Joan Hicks the current owners. Their employees will receive little if any severance pay, and the loss of the store will mean just as much to the residents of Brandywine Hundred as the loss of Lehman will mean to the denizens of Wall Street.

If there is no safety net for the small business owner or the consumer (thanks Sen. Biden), why should there be one under CEOs like Merril’s John Thain, AIG’s Robert Willumstad or Lehman’s Richard Fuld? Do we live in a country where the government provides a safety net for the nation’s few woven together from the sweat of the working many? If these institutions are now too big to fail, should they also be too big to succeed on their own? Should draconian regulations be put into place along with the bailout- or is the American taxpayer expected to fund the debacle knowing full well that he or she will be responsible for the next sure-bet placed by a company CEO that turns sour?

These are important questions that must be answered, but until they are there must be blood. The human beings on the boards of these dying and defunct companies should lose everything, and have their income garnished by their creditors – the shareholders of the firms they drove into the ground – just like anyone who files for bankruptcy and does not have their debts discharged (thanks again, Sen. Biden).

There must be blood for nothing less than the very soul of the capitalist system is at stake. Great rewards can only be justified by those who take great risks, and if it turns out that those risks weren’t real, than the rewards should be forfeit. Without blood the system is a sham, and its critics proven right all along.

Bloomberg columnist Michael Lewis suggests that the following three men should be at the top of the scaffold stairs:

1) Christopher Cox. He’s the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and so has the job of regulating these companies that helped make it possible for every poor American to get a mortgage and are now, as a result, falling apart.

That, in itself, is no reason to blame him. He inherited a broken operation: the SEC has been morally bankrupt for some time now. The people who work for the place—especially the ones who call the shots—have for years had a disconcerting habit of leaving their low-paying government jobs regulating Wall Street firms for high-paying ones at those same Wall Street firms.

Systemic Corruption

They are meant to guard against systemic corruption when they are themselves systematically corrupt. It’s hard for people who are paid $85,000 a year to police people who are paid $15 million.

Happily, you can still blame Cox for something. He went as far out of his way as he could to enable the brokerage firms by harassing the small group of informed financial people who have been trying to tell the truth to the markets: the short sellers. They bet against the stock price of a company and so have always had a bad reputation with the public. But in this case, they are the closest thing we have to heroes.

A man named David Einhorn is a case study. He runs a hedge fund called Greenlight Capital, which sells short some stocks and buys others. That is, he doesn’t just bet against companies but for them, too.

Blaming Shorts

Still, for some time now, he’s been standing up in front of large audiences, announcing that he was short Lehman Brothers stock, and then explaining in great detail its dubious accounting practices. The SEC responded by demanding to see his firm’s e- mail, hinting darkly that he was part of some conspiracy to drive Lehman Brothers out of business, and generally making him feel that he’d pay a price for telling the truth.

Christopher Cox is probably a nice man who has no real idea what just happened. But for the way he treated people with the nerve to speak the truth to power you should feel free to blame him anyway.

2) The Wall Street CEO.

Stan O’Neal was the chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch, Dick Fuld was the CEO of Lehman Brothers, James Cayne was the CEO of Bear Stearns Cos. Each took home tens of millions of dollars in pay for making the decisions that destroyed his firm.

Stan the Man

Of the lot, O’Neal deserves perhaps the greatest scorn as he took a business that wasn’t well designed to take huge trading risks and wagered it all on a single bet.

He screwed up the lives of more innocent people than the others. But interestingly, if any of these men had behaved well and resisted the pressures and temptations of the moment, his firm would have, for several years, dramatically underperformed the competition. Probably he would have lost his job.

Let the axe fall and the blood flow into the gutters. The time of reckoning is at hand.

The Council Has Spoken: Sept 12, 2008

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council – Wolf Howling: Standing at the Crossroads

Noncouncil - Beldar Blog: Don’t Confuse Republicans’...

 Full voting here.

Disappointing Computer Games

I’ve been playing video games since the genre began. My brother-in-law was would we would call an “early adopter” of technology, and through him I got exposed to some of the earliest games including Pong and the Magnavox Odyssey. Later I was one of the first kids in my neighborhood to have the Atari 2600, and since have had several different computer and console systems.

One of the best games I played on the PS2 was Mercenaries. Think of it as Grand Theft Auto – North Korea where you play a mercenary who saves the world (and always gets paid to do so). Over the years I have completed this game several times and rank it as one of my all-time favorites. Therefore when I heard 2 years ago that a sequel was in the works I looked forward to the release date – one that was pushed back several times over the past year.  On the date of its release I picked up the PS2 version. Four days later the PC version came out and I bought it as well.

Prior to its release I contemplated upgrading my main gaming PC that I had upgraded a year ago prior to the release of Crysis. I needn’t have bothered. The graphics are chunky – roughly equivalent to the PSOne, and the gameplay is well… Terrible. Here’s the best review I’ve found that accurately describes the game. It’s a major disappointment. The game is riddled with bugs; the bug reporting forum is now up to 48 pages of reports. The game on my system suffers from random crashes, enemies that merge and get stuck in trees, indestructible civilians, and bushes that the main character cannot escape.

All of these things can be eventually patched. What’s more disappointing is that the game is simply not fun. While the first Mercenaries game had a compelling storyline involving the North Korean president being deposed by his power-crazed son, there isn’t much of a story here besides the main character getting ripped off and desiring vengeance for his missing paycheck.

I wanted to like this game, I really did, but the fact that I’m continuing to play Call of Duty 4 days after picking it up says a lot. Granted COD4 is one of the best games of the decade, but I’m honestly bored with it and ready for something new. Unfortunately Mercenaries 2 was not it.

Illegals Take Jobs That Americans Won’t Do?


Applicants line up to fill jobs open after plant raid
LAUREL — Howard Industries found itself at the center of activity again Tuesday.

Hundreds of job applicants lined up, eager to take advantage of the sudden job openings at the plant located in Jones County, where the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent.

ICE agents on Monday seized 595 plant workers suspected of being in the country illegally. Several workers, who did not identify themselves, said Tuesday they were working and trying to keep the plant operational in the wake of the sudden loss of co-workers.

They said it was common knowledge many of their co-workers were suspected to be illegal.

It’s an idea that maddens Samantha Stevens, 18, of Heidelberg, who was among those who pulled up to Avenue A across from the plant’s entrance throughout the day. She said she has been unable to find a job since she graduated from Heidelberg High School in the spring and blames, in part, the willingness of companies to hire illegal workers.

“We were here first. It’s not fair for them to have a job,” she explained.

Hat-tip: Lawshawn Barber


7 years and America is still here.

It’s even better.

Our military is stronger. Our economy is bigger. Our computers are faster. Our TV screens are more detailed and larger. And our vice-presidential candidates are hotter.

Sarah Palin

Take that you bunch of goat fucking jihadis.