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28 November 2007

we warned you, but would you listen? noooooooooooooo

Well, I mean, you can click if you want.

Computerworld (on-line tech news website)

Cell phone explosion
may have killed man

South Korea police found melted cell-phone battery in victim's shirt pocket

November 28, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Police in Cheongwon, South Korea, say a worker died Wednesday possibly because a cell phone battery exploded in his pocket, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The report quotes an unnamed police official as saying, "we presume that the cell phone battery exploded," but the official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation continues.

The man was identified only as Suh, and was found dead at his workplace in a quarry Wednesday morning with a melted cell phone battery in his shirt pocket, according to the report.

The AP quoted the Yonhap news agency as saying Suh's body was examined by Kim Hoon, a doctor, who said that Suh suffered a burn in the left chest area and had a broken spine and ribs. "It is presumed that pressure caused by the explosion damaged his heart and lungs, leading to his death," the report quotes Hoon as saying.

South Korea's LG Electronics Inc. reportedly made the phone involved in the death, although the report quoted an LG official who said that a fatal explosion from the phone or its battery would be virtually impossible.

An LG spokeswoman said the company is investigating the report and would only confirm that the phone is not sold in the U.S.

- 30 -

every hectare of Antarctica without clouds

I'm going to Maine for 3 days. The coast. Crashing waves on boulders. Lighthouses. Lobsters in front of a roaring fireplace. Then I'll be back to finish my nervous breakdown over cleaning out this shitpit of an office so I can get my new supercomputer installed.

Meanwhile ... where should YOU go???


26 November 2007

some filched quotes about Lisp; some other stuff about programming languages and DNA computation

SQL, Lisp, and Haskell are the only programming languages that I've seen where one spends more time thinking than typing.

-- Philip Greenspun, March 2007

I suppose I should learn Lisp, but it seems so foreign.

-- Paul Graham, November 1983

One can even conjecture that Lisp owes its survival specifically to the fact that its programs are lists, which everyone, including me, has regarded as a disadvantage.

John McCarthy, Inventor of Lisp, "Early History of Lisp"

Any sufficiently complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad-hoc, informally-specified bug-ridden slow implementation of half of Common Lisp.

Philip Greenspun, often called Greenspun's Tenth Rule of Programming

Please don't assume Lisp is only useful for Animation and Graphics, AI, Bioinformatics, B2B and E-Commerce, Data Mining, EDA/Semiconductor applications, Expert Systems, Finance, Intelligent Agents, Knowledge Management, Mechanical CAD, Modeling and Simulation, Natural Language, Optimization, Research, Risk Analysis, Scheduling, Telecom, and Web Authoring just because these are the only things they happened to list.

Kent Pitman

Lisp has all the visual appeal of oatmeal with fingernail clippings mixed in.

Larry Wall, creator of the Perl programming language

LISP being the most powerful and cleanest of languages, that's the language that the GNU project always prefers.

Richard Stallman

the greatest single programming language ever designed

-- Alan Kay

[Emacs] is written in Lisp, which is the only computer language that is beautiful.

Neal Stephenson, In the Beginning ... was the Command Line

A LISP programmer knows the value of everything, but the cost of nothing.

Alan Perlis, Epigrams on Programming

QuickBASIC does everything C++ can do, only backwards and in high heels.

Bob Merkin (with apologies to Ginger Rogers)

Forth isn't just a programming language. Or a development environment. It's a cult. People encounter Forth and leave their families and sell the house and car because the moment they first understand what Forth is and how it works, Forth is the only important thing in the world for the rest of their lives. What other high-level language gets a big write-up in Rolling Stone?

There is something New in programming hardware and software. For the last ten years, it's been possible to compute numerical and mathematical problems, and get your answers with incredible speed unmatched anywhere in the solid-state electronic world, using synthetically sequenced DNA in a petrie dish. The first problem that got answered with DNA computing was a many-mode Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP). DNA, of course, has been computing incredibly big problems at incredibly fast speeds since nucleic acid-based life began; it's how it reproduces life nearly error-free. But nobody ever thought to use this astonishingly powerful computing potential on human-conscious tailor-made problems before.

21 November 2007

PizzaQ -- Win Pizza, prove you're Smarter than Rene Descartes!!! (Also come to a cool lecture!)

Click and maybe the image gets bigger.

So like here is the deal. According to this expert on Rene Descartes, Descartes said it was impossible to solve the above PizzaQ. So you're screwed, no Spongebob pizza slice for you.

Are you smarter than Rene Descartes? Ya think?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear D***** S****,

Circumstances always conspire to prevent me from getting to your wonderful Spinoza events, but I thought your bunch might like a bit of notice about this very interesting and related talk. Who knows who might be wandering around western Massachusetts to take advantage of it?

And I must brag that this is a spectacularly beautiful picture-postcard mountains-and-forest corner of New England, gorgeous in every season.
I've been to several of Amherst College's open-to-all math talks, and they're all spectacular. Morever they're all aimed at a non-specialist audience that needs only the virtues of intelligence and curiosity. Every attendee is guaranteed to exit understanding considerably more about the topic, however arcane, than he knew going in. And this one promises to be heavy on the historical background -- intimately near Spinoza.

As for Descartes' conclusion, I learned how to calculate the length of a curve in 2nd semester calculus, so I guess that's proof that I'm smarter than Descartes.

Bob Merkin


Amherst College
Amherst, Massachusetts USA
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

Anders Oberg

[please put 2 horizontal dots over his O, they never come out right in my e-mail]

Uppsala University


Amherst College

Descartes and the Problem
of the Length of a Curve

In the Geometry (1637) Descartes said that it is not possible to determine the length of a curve in the following sense:

"... the ratios between straight and curved lines are not known, and I believe cannot be discovered by human minds, and therefore no conclusion based upon such ratios can be accepted ..."

I will discuss why Descartes may have thought so, which will lead us into many other interesting questions in the history and philosophy of mathematics.

Wednesday 5 December 2007
4 pm Seeley Mudd 206
Refreshments in Seeley Mudd 208 at 3:30 pm

[last time the refreshments were ... PIZZA!]

Mitt Romney sux the hairy wazoo / reply about the nasty push-polling / Giuliani in the Conservatory with the Lead Pipe

Jeff Fuller is a Louisiana (I think) opthalmologist who, with a dedicated band of like-minded bloggers, is vigorously pushing the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney (Eeeek!), particularly in the key early battles in New Hampshire and Iowa. He left a Comment on my post about the ugly anti-Romney push-polling. I'm sincerely grateful for that; makes a Vleeptroid feel his coverage of the Hair and Teeth Campaign 2008 is noticed and might even have some pursuasive influence on this protracted never-ending supershallow psycho clown circus.

One of these days I'll post some stuff about LASIK surgery, which is advertised all over TV as the Miracle Wonder Cure for your out-of-focus eyeballs. Until then, if you're thinking of getting LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis)
surgery -- DON'T DO IT!!! Spend your money on a giant flat-screen hi-def TV instead.


Yo Dr. Jeff --

Man, you're a hard dude to track down. Gotcha! (I think.)

On re-reading your Comment to my Vleeptron blog, I perceive a hint that you thought my post was finger-pointing at Romney, and that you felt it necessary to come galloping to Romney's defense.

Nope, the news articles had made it clear that Romney was the victim of the nasty push-polling, clearly not the instigator. So, yup, I don't like Romney (I live in Massachusetts, actually in its most liberal, progressive pocket), but no, my standards don't permit me to reach into a hazy situation of political anonymous dirty tricks and point fingers at whichever candidate I like the least. (Personally I think it was Giuliani in the Conservatory with the Lead Pipe.)

The original part of my post was just an informal historical and legal survey about a rather sad thing -- that creepy crap like this has always been endemic in American politics, and even sanctioned by both conservative and liberal Supreme Courts.

Now that I think about it, it was really rather remarkable that Nixon's Watergate dirty tricks rose to the level of actual federal felonies. (I guess burglaries and kidnapping schemes sort of cross the line even in American politics.)

The rest of my post was just an expression of personal disgust at the increasingly vile nature of the "professionals" whom the candidates hire in Campaign 2008. I suppose there are Americans I respect who can sing a paean to Fierce Competition as a great thing about America and its politics. But actually when Competition in politics gets out of control, I feel

1. We're all permitting huge damage to the developing personalities of kids; adults simply should be constrained from putting on this kind of grotesque show where young people can see it and draw conclusions from it, and

2. We risk contaminating and degenerating the original American vision of free and fair elections . Two more cycles like the way this one is shaping up, and American presidential elections will be indistinguishable from the "democratic elections" that Ferdinand Marcos perverted to hang on to perpetual power. And America will lose all its credibility as a champion and advocate for authentic democracy and free elections throughout the world. Our President. whoever that may be, will make grand speeches about spreading democracy throughout the world, and the world will roll around on the floor laughing at the emptiness and disengenuity of his/her words.

And now, my original and sincerely grateful reply to your Vleeptron comment. It's underneath your Comment, but I felt the whole subject was so important that I wanted to make sure I got it to you -- wherever the heck you are.


Thanks, sincerely, very much, for dropping by Vleeptron with your comment about the nasty push-polling in Iowa and New Hampshire. Whoever's responsible -- candidate and push-pollers -- I hope they all wind up with felony convictions and prison sentences. (I know a lovely federal prison without fences or armed guards where the prisoners take care of wildlife in the forest.)

I am as admittedly a lefty (please don't confuse that as being a Democrat) as you and your blogs are admittedly pro-Romney, and I was particularly unhappy with Romney's campaign for and performance as Massachusetts (my state) governor. I believe no one in public office or politics today is as Hair and Teeth, and as lacking in substance, commitment or vision, as Mitt Romney.

Well, that's okay, the woods are filled with Hair and Teeth politicians from both major parties.

But I'm an Army veteran of the Vietnam war era, and his remarks about why his sons are doing more valuable work for America by assisting his campaign than serving and risking in the military during two major wars in Asia -- I found them personally insulting, and an elitist pissing on the young Americans who have found themselves pushed into the military because of rather hopeless economic civilian circumstances.

I wish just one of his boys -- like the Kennedy boys in World War Two, and Nixon's and Johnson's sons-in-law, and like the wealthy young Al Gore during Vietnam -- had the brains and guts to say, "Dad, I'm joining up to serve."

Leaders and their kids need to share the risk, particularly those leaders who think these ghastly new wars are necessary for America.

(I don't, I'll be voting for Paul or Kucinich at every opportunity.)

I'm a Jew, and kicking off his campaign at the Henry Ford Museum -- it wasn't anti-semitic. It was worse. It was proof that he's collected a staff, led by himself, who knows nothing about the rather public and infamous history of Henry Ford and American Jews. That Romney comes from a Detroit automobile family himself makes his cluelessness positively incredible and dangerous -- what cave in his Dad's mansion could he have been hiding in? I just don't want someone that stupid and ignorant in the White House.

Haven't meant to piss you off, and I truly appreciate your contribution to Vleeptron's coverage of this miserable, nasty, almost hopeless Hair and Teeth campaign. Please do it again.

Also thanks for being an opthalmologist, try to stay out of the LASIK racket. America's eyeballs just don't need that kind of greedy, medically useless and dangerous crap.

Bob Merkin

US Army 1969-1971 (I had Al Gore's same Army job!)

Northampton Massachusetts


Jeff Fuller said...

It turns out that all those pointing to Mitt and/or his chief adviser (Gage) are already ending up with plenty of egg on their faces.

The "ROmney did it" theory doesn't even pass the smell test, and NRO and RedState sure have some "splainin" to do on this one.
Tuesday, 20 November, 2007

20 November 2007

a dyslexic dropout flies our souls through Crimson Skies, and resurrects a remarkable lost ara of Earth aviation

Oh do click the image, it gets dreamier.

Nearly my only relationship to video games is Frogger -- I sort of don't care whether the Frog gets across the 8-lane superhighway to safety or doesn't, I love the Squish noise -- and Crimson Skies, the version that runs on the old/original XBox.

S.W.M.B.O. loves Frogger -- she specifically loves the squished frog noise and may never have pushed a frog all the way across the superhighway, and briefly liked Crimson Skies, except that the superb flight simulation graphics make her airsick and she has to stop playing before she pukes.

I wrote an original computer game which is so perverted -- not sexually, just morally -- I was afraid to spread it around much. It has all the potential to attract the wrath of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bill O'Reilly and Nancy Grace (I regret to report that she has reproduced, twice in one day), and to end me up with a lynch mob on my lawn.

I tend to think that the entire world of videogaming is wholly devoid of authentic imagination and soul-touching æsthetic beauty. Naturally this is to be expected of games intended for a 13-year-old boy audience.

But the XBox Crimson Skies just shocked me with its visual beauty and imagination. (Note the Brooklyn Bridge as "underdrop" to the Crimson Skies screenshot above.)

The characterizations are practically stupider than DC or Marvel comic books or original movies made for the Sci-Fi Channel.

But the flights of these remarkable imaginary propeller airplanes and derigibles from the 1930s reaches deeply into my soul and makes me want to sell it to the devil for a chance to fly one of these airplanes which never existed.

Never -- but almost existed. In the Real World, the 1930s were an era of astonishingly imaginative development of high-performance high-speed propeller aircraft, many of the most remarkable of these still insisting that wood was the perfect airframe, wing and propeller material rather than aluminum. In the midst of the Great Depression, this super-expensive vanity industry should have died at birth; no financier in his right mind should have spent a dime to pursue this insane sport.

But in fact a very few visionaries in the militaries of Europe and the United States shadow-funded and encouraged the most outlandish of these overpowered engines (Rolls-Royce a leader among them) and envelope-pushing wing and airframe designs. They knew a global war was coming and knew that control of the skies would be key to deciding which side won. So they secretly encouraged and funded playboy aviators -- the industrial playboy heir Howard Hughes, the Army aviator Jimmy Doolittle -- and wildly competitive air and aerobatic races, like Formula One car races on the ground, sprang up all over the world.

All these astonishing airplanes lacked were machine guns, bombs and torpedoes. When war finally came, these were simple afterthoughts to bolt onto the astonishingly fast and maneuverable airplanes that had evolved through the sporting competitions and broken the speed, height, climb and aerobatics records. One of Hughes' designs, which he was unable to sell to the US military before the war, reappeared over the Pacific as the Japanese Zero fighter plane. The British Spitfire was the direct child of the sport competitions of the 1930s.

Crimson Skies fantasizes that this era of envelope-pushing propeller aircraft never ended, but produced astonishingly high-performance high-speed planes that simply take your breath away. With machine guns, for dogfights and to blow up super-dirigibles floating on flammable hydrogen (rather than inert helium) which filled the world's skies.

The postage stamp artist
Donald Evans, whose work flourished in the 1960s and early 1970s, was also fixated with dirigibles, and his imaginary nation of Mangiare (Italian for "eating"; Evans loved Euro food) was the world leader in dirigible production. Few remember, but in the real world, huge German dirigibles ran regular luxury passenger service from Europe to South America during the 1930s. Dirigibles and blimps -- lighter-than-air craft -- match and float along with the wind currents, and passengers ride in almost perfect comfort, free of all turbulence. When the war came, dirigibles (rigid internal frames) had vanished, but blimps played important roles in anti-aircraft defense and were the perfect long-range extended patrol anti-submarine hunters and killers.

The coolest part of Crimson Skies is flying at a giant enemy dirigible and blowing it to flaming smithereens with your machine guns.

Crimson Skies just can't let go of this marvelous era of thrilling flight. It exists in PC versions, but Microsoft dumped a lot of money into pushing its graphics to the extreme in the XBox version.

I don't play Crimson Skies very much -- but I dream about it often. It's this damn gravity. Though we can't live without it and would sicken and die if it went away, we look up and see migrating geese, and hawks and eagles, and soaring seabirds, and they infect our dreams.

Last week in Lisbon, just a few meters above the Tagus, the world's remaining propeller aerobatic speed crazies held one of the world's great pylon-dodging air races. It looked thrilling.

William Faulkner
was a World War One aviator in France, and afterwards wrote an exciting and brutal novel about aerobatic barnstormer competition pilots called "Pylon." Also from this era, Antoine de Saint Exup
ry ("Le Petit Prince," "Vol du Nuit") was a mail pilot in the Sahara and over the Andes. (Wikipedia: He disappeared on the night of July 31, 1944 while flying on a [Free French] mission to collect data on German troop movements.)

Though male-dominated (Amelia Earhart's financial backers practically forbade her from actually flying her transatlantic plane, and she was usually under the command of an alcoholic male pilot), almost all Caucasian, and very heavy on wealthy playboys, this pioneer era of aviation also included the remarkable African-American aviatrix Bessie Coleman, child of Texas sharecroppers, who had to travel to France to get flight training and a pilot's license. She was killed in a barnstorming exhibition accident in Florida.

The disease that makes human beings want to climb into impossibly dangerous machines and fly is one of the most virulent and incurable of all psychological ailments. Usually it only takes one glimpse of somebody else flying overhead in an airplane to catch the disease. They are so close to sudden death, they are so near to the most living human beings can experience.

from Wikipedia:

Crimson Skies is an alternate history universe, created by Jordan Weisman and Dave McCoy, that has spawned a number of games and novels. Crimson Skies began as a pitch for a game called Corsairs! for the Virtual World location-based entertainment centers. The project was eventually shelved, but the developers saved the idea and redeveloped into a board game simulating aerial combat that was introduced by FASA in 1998.

In 2000, Zipper Interactive developed the property into a computer game, which was published by Microsoft. In 2003, it returned as Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge for the Xbox, as well as a collectible miniature games from WizKids,it is speculated of a sequel, that will be launched probabily in 2009 for Xbox 360 and PC ...

The stories and games in Crimson Skies take place in an alternate history version of the United States, where the nation crumbled into many hostile nation-states following the effects of the Great War, Prohibition, and the Great Depression. With the road and railway system destroyed, commerce took to the skies. Great cargo zeppelins escorted by fighter squadrons are the targets of many ruthless air pirates and enemy countries. Crimson Skies PC game.

When FASA Interactive joined Microsoft in 1999, Weisman had the opportunity to start a new project, and Crimson Skies was at the top of his list. This combat flight-sim offered game players fast-paced action without the hassle of realistic flight mechanics. The game included a 24-mission single-player mode and an on-line multi-player mode. Both modes made use of twelve different customizable plane designs.

The spirit of a pulp fiction novel was well captured with catchy pirate music, excellent voice acting, and great attention to detail. Unfortunately, the original release was plagued with bugs that would cause the game to freeze or crash; a patch was released to alleviate these problems.

The character of Nathan Zachary, leader of the Fortune Hunters, was introduced as the hero. He is an air pirate with a honorable slant and a concrete rule that only the wealthy will be victimized, characteristics reminiscent of Robin Hood. In fact, when a rival alludes to his aerial swashbuckling, he replies, "Let's get one thing straight, sister: Errol Flynn pretends to be me, not the other way around."

The single-player campaign chronicled the rise of the
Fortune Hunters gang (with their base airship known as the Pandora) from relatively small-time thrill seekers to a renowned band of brigands, taking whichever side of the law is most convenient and profitable at that particular moment. The game was developed by Zipper Interactive and was nominated for the 2000 PC Action/Adventure Game of the Year from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, and won the Editor's Choice Award from Game Revolution, and GameSpy's Game of the Year for sound.


Jordan Weisman is an American game designer and serial entrepreneur who has founded four major game design companies, each in a different game genre and segment of the industry. Weisman graduated from Francis W. Parker High School, in Chicago, Illinois. He went to the Merchant Marin Acadamey and briefly attended University of Illinois at Chicago, before leaving school to pursue his business interests ...

from The Escapist:
Number of the Beast by Shannon Drake, 28 Nov 2006 7:02 am

While Jordan Weisman guided Microsoft's game division to respectability, worked on the cutting edge with Virtual World centers, started a cool miniature gaming company and currently heads up a bleeding edge ARG design firm, he describes his background with a simple, "Let's see. I was a college dropout who founded FASA." Founded in 1980 by Weisman and a partner, FASA - short for
Freedonia Aeronautics and Space Administration, after Groucho Marx's fictional country in Duck Soup - was a tabletop gaming company known for legendary franchises like Shadowrun and Battletech before becoming one of the flagship developers in Microsoft's efforts to legitimize itself in gaming. Going back a little further, Weisman describes himself as "a severe dyslexic growing up, and [I] had bluffed my way through school until about age 16. I succeeded in never actually reading a book up to that age, as many dyslexics do. You become very good at cramming your way through that kind of stuff." Dungeons & Dragons changed all that. "[When] I was a camp counselor up in Wisconsin, one of the other counselors discovered the game and brought it to camp and got me involved in it. It was a very eye-opening experience. It was this complex, immersive entertainment experience that really made you think, that made you collaborate with your peers, socialize and problem solve. It was like nothing else I'd seen." More importantly, "It also finally forced me to read, because there was no way to cheat through it. If I wanted to start telling my own stories and running my own games, I needed to read those damn books. And I also needed to read Tolkien, so I understood what the hell an elf was, and Sauron, and orcs. ... It was part of a big turning point for me." He says he "really fell in love with the concept of creating that kind of immersive social entertainment. I did that through what was left of high school and my abortive college career and then decided to go pro, if you will, [by] starting FASA."

back to Planet Vleeptron

Hmmm this doesn't bode well for the human race. People who love video games can't spell "Merchant Marine Academy."

19 November 2007

Æsthetic of the Future

Of course certainly click for larger.

Filched from a game development site.

They're all different. So you must like some of them more than you like others.

Maybe suddenly you just fell head-over-heels crazy in love with one, while all the others can just skate as far as you're concerned. Love At First Sight is just like that.

This is the only glimpse of these cyberbabes you'll ever get. You can't take them out to a restaurant and chat. You can't sit in a car with them at night and suck face. I have no way to find and display anything about them south of the neck. I'm sorry they have no hair (but this is the future -- maybe that's the way they like it that way, maybe it's hairless babes from now on).

So choose, just the way you'd choose your potential love mate in a crowded, dark meat bar. Focus. Get excited. Identify the one you've chosen out of 32 by letter and number, like c4.

Then Leave A Comment and write a paragraph about why she's different, why she's the best, why you must search the universe to find her so you can tell her of your intense feelings.

If some of you choose different cyberbabes, leave more Comments and fight about why the other one's choice is a total bow-wow, but yours is the most beautiful woman who never lived.

Vleeptron wants to start early to prepare you for the world of Love and Romance in the future. All the bank tellers have already been replaced by ATMs, all the phone operators have been replaced by automated voices with push-button menus. Soon all the women you might fall in love with will be replaced by digital simulations. Get ready. It's coming.

Publicke Notice

Top image Copyright 2007 by Ron Bizer, All Rights Reserved

Publicke Notice

In order of importance:

1. On Saturday in the USA state shaped like the palm of the right hand, the University of Michigan Wolverines lost to their ancient arch-rivals, the Ohio State University Slime Moulds, 14-3.

(I am talking USA college football here, not to be confused with what the rest of Earth calls football, which Americans call soccer. Beckham, who now plays for Los Angeles, constantly has to be reminded to call his sport soccer rather than football. I think his new bosses fine him $10,000 every time he says "footie" or "football" in public.)

Once again, Ann Arbor is in profound mourning. They will not be able to go to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California (but the Slime Moulds will).

And to help my old army buddy Ron, who lives in the USA state shaped like the palm of the right hand, I wasted a perfectly good virgin. And all the public health surveys of National Youth Sexual Behavior say that these are Very Rare.

U-Michigan ended up with a season so dismal that their beloved old football coach has resigned, or retired. Here is Ron's depiction of the Spirit of Ann Arbor this week.

2. Whether you are a Believer or Not, it will qualify as an Authentic Religious Miracle if this post actually gets posted to Vleeptron and you read it. My computer is kaput, in its Final Moments, and it took me literally 23 tries to restart it today to get it up again just enough to get into Vleeptron and my e-mail.

This thing could go Black Forever at any instant. So if you have Left A Comment, or any e-business between us is Pending and you are wondering why the hell I am ignoring you -- it's because electronically, things are Very, Very, Very sick and thready.

It is Last Rites time, Extreme Unction City, for the old piece-o-crap Hewlett Packard/WindowsME.

My Tek Todd phoned this morning, and the New Vleeptron Yawn-o-Tronic 7000 has arrived, and is ready to be installed at my convenience!

I was tempted to scream RIGHT NOW!!!! BRING IT HERE RIGHT NOW!!! but I got a little control over myself and have postponed it until Monday -- because my office looks very much like the news images from Bangladesh this week. This room is The Mother Of All Shit Pits, and I need to spend a few days shoveling it out to make decent, hygienic space for the Wonderful New Vleeptron Supercomputer.

Right now I would be ashamed to let a tree sloth who hangs upside-down and shits on himself into my office, let alone my Tek Todd. I am particularly embarrassed about the dead Girl Scout in the corner. I had nothing to do with it, she rang the doorbell and then suddenly choked to death on her own cookies.

So please bear with me if Vleeptron and Bob are slow or absent from Cyberspace for the next week. All kinds of Snazzy e-Miracles will shortly resume when the new Yawn-o-Tronic 7000 is humming along in Vista or ubuntu, which Tek Todd hath given his blessing to.

18 November 2007

art filched from child / autistic kids and robots / uncomplicated love / horse who does arithmetic & talking dog

Of course, please click if you wish.

I was looking around for images of polygons and bumped into this, and filched it.

This has nothing to do with Kevin and his excellent robot, but when I studied psychology (don't get all excited, just one semester), we had to read about autistic children. Some of the most withdrawn, who rejected all social contact and interaction with human beings, were spontaneously fascinated with robots, and constructed elaborate artistic interactions with robots.

Since then, real robots have become enormously sophisticated -- including robots with quite sophisticated animated facial features that smile, frown, etc., not to mention sophisticated robot voices. I wonder how well autistic children warm to these real robots which are not of their own artistic invention.

Elvis Costello sings a plaintive love wail in which he yearns for one virtue in a romantic partner: Uncomplicated. Good luck. But that's what the spirit of the robot offers: Not necessarily unconditional love, like a cat or dog, but an Uncomplicated relationship without surprises, betrayal, mood swings. That must be terribly appealing to some personalities. A recent television documentary looked into the world of (I think just) men who spend thousands of dollars on gorgeous and highly realistic-looking female mannequins -- well, sex dolls -- but who build entire elaborate romantic partnerships with them. The documentary also looked deeply into the culture and community of the factory that builds these expensive mannequins, the attention they quickly learn to lavish on the products they make and sell, how the employees soon come to understand how important the mannequins are to each customer.

I don't know what a Diamel is. I don't know about dogs which can tell your fortune, but in 19th-century Europe there was an extremely famous performing horse which could answer very complicated arithmetic problems. We learned about him in psychology class too.

Guy goes into a bar, he has a dog. He tells the bartender he's broke but he doesn't want free drinks. "Look, the dog can talk. If the dog talks, will you give me drinks?" The bartender is already pretty annoyed at this business, but not much is happening and he is a little bored so he tells the guy to go ahead. The guy puts the dog on the bar and asks:

"What's on top of a house?"

The dog says: "ROOF!"

The bartender frowns.

"Wait a second! Wait a second!" the guy says. "Okay. What's wrapped around a tree?"

The dog says: "BARK!"

The bartender frowns more deeply.

"Wait a second! Wait a second!" the guy says. "Okay. Who was the greatest baseball player who ever lived?"

The dog says: "RUTH!"

That's enough for the bartender, who throws the guy and the dog out of the bar and into the gutter.

The dog looks up at the guy and asks: "DIMAGGIO?"

~ ~ ~


by Elvis Costello
from the album "Blood and Chocolate" (1986)

Blood and Chocolate
I hope you're satisfied what you have done
You think it's over now
But we've only just begun

I asked for water
And they gave me rose' wine
A horse that knows arithmetic
And a dog that tells your fortune


It's in your eyes
It's in your eyes

I want to buy you
A big blue Diamel
Cheap white plastic shoes
That don't walk out and don't let in

I want to show you
How I love you
When you're over me
There's no-one above you


You think it's over now
But this is only the beginning


Flying Spaghetti Monster Xmas tree ornament / Christmas in Prison

I'm too lazy to hunt down where you can buy this thing, but it's out there and for sale, just in time for Christmas. It's the Flying Spaghetti Monster Christmas Tree Ornament!

You can have your Christmas Tree, and also celebrate an extremely popular alternative Theory of Creation.

When S.W.M.B.O. isn't at home during Yuletide, I like to play my CD "Bummed Out Christmas," which includes the John Prine classic, "Christmas in Prison." Everybody grab your harmonica and sing!

Christmas in Prison

It was christmas in prison
And the food was real good
We had turkey and pistols
Carved out of wood
And I dream of her always
Even when I dont dream
Her names on my tongue
And her bloods in my stream.


Wait awhile eternity
Old mother natures got nothing on me
Come to me
Run to me
Come to me, now
Were rolling
My sweetheart
Were flowing
By god!

She reminds me of a chess game
With someone I admire
Or a picnic in the rain
After a prairie fire
Her heart is as big
As this whole goddamn jail
And shes sweeter than saccharine
At a drug store sale.


The search light in the big yard
Swings round with the gun
And spotlights the snowflakes
Like the dust in the sun
Its christmas in prison
Therell be music tonight
Ill probably get homesick
I love you. goodnight.

17 November 2007

Archival postage stamp / Tierra de los Sueños / the Quadrature / die Quadratur

Please click on the image.

Any questions? Leave a Comment. If you Leave a Comment in which you ask a question, I will try to answer the question.

This is part of Vleeptron's desperate attempt to flee from This Ghastly, Wretched Moment on Planet Earth, from the Iraq War, from USA Campaign 2008, from the cruelty and repression of the military junta in Myanmar, from Scoundrels, Madness, Hatred, Violence, Greed, Lies & Fear; and to flee toward Beauty, Truth & Perfection, and to Times Past when Human Beings could be proud of their remarkable and Enlightened accomplishments.

There is no date on this old postage stamp from Tierra de los Sueños (Dreamland), but historical indications suggest it was issued sometime between 1637 and 1684 A.D. Like all the postage stamps of Tierra de los Sueños, it is a dream someone once had, or may be having now, or may dream in the future.

Please give a home in your mind and heart to very old things that were Beautiful and Good, and pass them along to others.

Pharm Party!!! the legend behind the Rush Limbaugh mosaic of 10,000 prescription painkillers

Why certainly, please
click on image for larger.

Oh, about the Subject ... according to Urban Legend, a "Pharm Party" is the new way high school kids combine their social life with their drug ingestion ... Before Friday or Saturday night rolls around, all the kids rifle through their rents' medicine cabinets for any prescription pills which might be recreationally thrilling or interesting, and they bring them to the Pharm Party and pass them around.

It's the kind of "Oh no! It's the End of the World!" kind of urban legend which War On Drugs creeps use to shape public policy by spreading Fear, Panic and, in this case, by stirring up the natural Hatred that older people (i.e. voters) traditionally feel toward kids (i.e., un-enfranchised non-voters).

I went to a Rave once! Really! I did! Me! And a few times I've actually Moshed! (I am the Fred Astaire of Slam-Dancing!)

So if you've ever actually been to a real, authentic Pharm Party, please Leave A Comment and tell us all about it. We want to hear all about you wicked teenagers doing stolen illegal drugs which your poor, hard-working, sacrificing parents truly needed for their authentic illnesses.

Then tell us all about the crazy meaningless unprotected teenage sex you had after you got all fucked up on the illegal drugs.

If you invited 492 of your closest friends to the Pharm Party and they totally trashed somebody's nice suburban house while their rents were out of town for the weekend, let us know all about that, too.

~ ~ ~

Well screw the mosaic picture of Rush Limbaugh, he's just the biggest and most damaging asshole in American politics, I don't want his image on Vleeptron.

But besides being a professional asshole, he also has an authentic illness -- addiction to prescription painkillers -- and illness and addiction can happen to anybody. Guy needs medical help, not cops and prosecutors, but that's how we deal with addiction and substance abuse in the USA -- we don't call a doctor or nurse or an addiction specialist, we call a cop and a prosecutor and a prison guard.

As a national plan and strategy, btw, how's that working?

Anyway, like their mosaic of George W. Bush made of 1200 assholes, made a mosaic of Limbaugh out of thousands of pharmaceutical painkillers. Here's the legend of the various pills.

Oxycontin/oxycodone, a synthetic opiate, has acquired the street nickname "Hillbilly Heroin" because of its early popularity as an underground diverted addiction drug in the US Appalachian regions like Tennessee and Kentucky. But a great powerful painkiller is a great powerful painkiller, and these wildly popular pills have spread far beyond the Appalachians.

I'll have more to say about Pain, Painkillers, Pain Management, Police, Prosecutors, Prisons and Health Professionals. It's a fascinating realm of public health policy.

It wouldn't be so miserably fascinating if the US federal government didn't have its head stuck so far up its butt for so many decades.

In Europe there are a lot of countries that deal with all substance abuse and addiction problems strictly as health and public health issues, and the cops play no part in it.

Well, when I write Letters to the Editor about this subject, I like to ask:

If your child had a drug problem, whom would you call? 911 or your family doctor? So why do we make laws and public policy that demand we do just the opposite if the sick person is a stranger rather than a family member?

PizzaQ mosaic winner! Thousands of assholes! Thousands of assholes!

This image is a mosaic composed of 1200 small photographic similar elements. What are the elements? 4 Slices with endives, garlic, shallots.


Okay, the graphic was created by , who also have a nifty mosaic of Rush Limbaugh composed entirely of powerfully addictive painkiller pills which are controlled substances.



ryanshaunkelly said...

Gravel kucinich paul nader perot carter [conyers?rangel?] united for truth elicit fear smear blacklist.

The people know too much,
democracy rising democracy now.
Rage against the machine.

Honesty compassion intelligence guts.

No more extortion blackmail bribery division.
Divided we fall.
Friday, 16 November, 2007

Mike said...

Well, uh, maybe he got the answer before I did, but if not, he's a giant mosaic of assholes.
Friday, 16 November, 2007

Jim Olson said...

ahh...mike beat me. The prolapsed rectums are particularly unappealing.
Friday, 16 November, 2007


Okay, no pizza for ryanshaunkelly. You're not even trying, guy.

Mike wins the Pizza!

Hahahahaha, for 4 slices of pizza, I made him say: "assholes."

This presidential campaign and the War in Iraq are infecting me with Tourette's Syndrome.

Gets shittier / a Plague on all their houses

The US state of New Hampshire holds the presidential campaign's first voter primary election, and Iowa holds a political caucus, a candidates' popularity poll. Both events attract a huge amount of media and voter attention, and are the first major hurdles that can greatly boost a candidate's fortunes or dash them. Before these events, both states become hubs of intense political activity -- television and radio advertising blitzes, multiple visits and big public events by candidates ...

And this kind of crap.

Look, if this is how the major candidates are going to run for president, why don't we all just sit out the entire campaign? Let the political professionals disgust everyone, piss on the whole democratic election process, bend the laws, break the laws, get indicted, get sent to prison -- but we can all set personal limits for how much of it we have to get involved in. A plague on all their houses.

For what little it's worth, this isn't really new in American politics, which have always been (to use a charitable term) rough and tumble.

A scandal-monger dogged and stalked Thomas Jefferson, spreading lies (and a few ugly truths) throughout Jefferson's political career.

As Abraham Lincoln's political star began to rise in Illinois, he secretly purchased a German-language newspaper with a large immigrant readership, and used it to plant anonymous personal attacks against his political rival (the typical accusation of fostering an illigitimate child). Years later Lincoln admitted to this episode and said it was the only moment of his political career he deeply regretted.

But American politics have always acted as a shit magnet, powerfully drawing the worst creeps and sociopaths in public life, and for the motives of political power and huge sums of money, the campaigns voyage through a Dark Zone completely devoid of Ethics, Morals, Decency, Truth, or Community. Along the way, federal and state election laws are regularly broken, the Rule of Law in a Democracy takes a holiday, and lying and fraud are elevated to high professional technologies. Any amount of damage, to the personal lives of innocent individuals, or to entire communities, is just the way the cookie crumbles. It's the American Way.

Because New Hampshire has election laws which seem specifically to forbid the kinds of telephone activities that have been occurring there as the hotly contested primary nears, the state's Attorney General appears to have already begun looking into these activities. If the laws are clear and Constitutional, some of these creeps and sociopaths may have already crossed the line which will land them in a state prison.

However, in general, the U.S. Supreme Court, both in liberal and conservative eras, has tended to protect many of the nastiest political campaign activities and immunize them from criminal strictures and punishments. Political elections are considered the nation's ultimate test of Free Speech, and court decisions suggest that legislative efforts to "sanitize" campaigns and force politicians and their creepy subordinates to "behave" violate the letter and spirit of free political speech.

Even the right to distribute negative political literature anonymously (during an Illinois race) has been declared a form of protected free political speech, which states cannot constitutionally forbid. You can wear a mask and use a false name; that's how we do things in politics.

A plague on all their houses. America is in the process of choosing the most powerful official on Planet Earth, whose decisions and leadership will effect the lives literally of billions of human beings and of all living things on Earth, and we seem obsessed and addicted to doing it in the filthiest, most immoral, unethical, fraudulent, and shallowest way imaginable.

For a year or more, love, romance, wooing, dating and consentual sex take a holiday, and we dive into a national celebration of date rape and gang rape. After the next president is inaugurated, one or two of the worst professional serial rapists might say he or she is sorry a little bit. (The guy who cooked up the Willie Horton ad eventually said he was sorry.)


The Chicago Tribune (daily Illinois USA)
Friday 16 November 2007

New Hampshire investigates
anti-Romney calls

McCain joins rival in condemning "push poll"

by Jill Zuckman, Tribune national correspondent

CONCORD, New Hampshire -- The GOP presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and John McCain -- rocked in different ways by a highly negative "push poll" targeting Romney's Mormon faith -- demanded Friday that the New Hampshire attorney general investigate who is behind the tactic.

The attorney general's office said it was investigating the phone calls.

As part of the poll, which began Sunday, callers have been asking voters in Iowa and New Hampshire whether they know that Romney is a Mormon, that his five sons did not serve in the military and that Mormons believe the Book of Mormon is superior to the Bible.

The callers also inquire if voters are aware that Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, accepted deferments to avoid military service in Vietnam while he was on a mission with other young Mormons in France.

At the beginning of the 20-minute survey, voters are asked whether they are aware of McCain's decorated military service [Navy combat pilot, later prisoner of war] during Vietnam. That has led many voters to assume the poll was sponsored by the Arizona senator's campaign. But McCain's campaign immediately denounced the effort and insisted it had nothing to do with it.

"Whoever did this wanted to hurt us by implication," said Mark Salter, a senior aide to McCain. "That's why we were very forceful."

Romney's supporters have long feared that a shadowy whispering campaign would arise at some point targeting his Mormon faith. The new push poll may be the most explicit anti-Mormon message to emerge in the campaign so far.

But Dean Spiliotes, a New Hampshire political analyst and founder of, said the attack may inadvertently help Romney.

"It certainly gives Romney a platform to speak about his religion, something that people have advised him to do," Spiliotes said. "It may also get him some sympathy from voters who don't like seeing religion mixed so intimately with politics."

Push polling, in which negative information is disseminated under the guise of a poll, is a well-known tactic, if a widely condemned one.

Former Rep. Chuck Douglas (R-N.H.), vice chairman of McCain's New Hampshire campaign, handed his complaint to Deputy New Hampshire Atty. Gen. Orville Brewster Fitch II on Friday, calling the phone calls "repugnant.

"We find the whole thing a very bad trend eight weeks before the primary," Douglas told Fitch.

Aides to Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) also filed a complaint with the state's attorney general on behalf of the Romney campaign. Campaign officials said they are providing names of people who received the calls.

"Whichever campaign is engaging in this type of awful religious bigotry as a line of political attack, it is repulsive and to put it bluntly un-American," said Romney communications director Matt Rhoades. "There is no excuse for these attacks. Gov. Romney is campaigning as an optimist who wants to lead the nation. These attacks are just the opposite. They are ugly and divisive."

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [proper name of the Mormon church] say the church embraces the truths accepted by other Christians, but also accepts "additional information" from later revelations.

Campaigning in Las Vegas, Romney called the poll "un-American." And he essentially blamed McCain, saying it was a direct result of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, which he said has been "ineffective" in removing special-interest money from campaigns.

Aides to McCain pointed out that before the legislation was ever passed, McCain was a victim of push polling in South Carolina during the 2000 presidential primary.

"It is appalling, but not surprising, that Mitt Romney would seek to take advantage of this disturbing incident to launch yet another hypocritical attack," said Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's spokeswoman. "It's the hallmark of his campaign."

New Hampshire law requires all political ads -- including phone calls -- to identify the candidate behind the effort, or at least the candidate who is being supported. The push polling calls were made by Western Wats, based in Utah, and did not identify a candidate that the calls were intended to help or hurt.

Previous news reports have linked calls by Western Wats to the Tarrance Group, which works for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Ed Goeas, the head of the Tarrance Group, told the Associated Press that there is no connection between Giuliani and Western Wats.

Katie Levinson, Giuliani's communications director, said there is no room for push polls in the campaign.

"Our campaign does not support or engage in these types of tactics and it is our hope other campaigns will adhere to the same policy," she said.

McCain, who arrived in New Hampshire Friday for a three-day swing through the northern and western parts of the state, called the phone calls "cowardly.

"I call on all other candidates and their supporters to repudiate these attacks and join me in pledging not to engage in such despicable tactics throughout the balance of this campaign," McCain said.

During the 2000 presidential race, South Carolina voters received phone calls and pamphlets alleging that McCain's wife, Cindy, was a drug addict, and that McCain had an illegitimate black daughter. The whispering campaign also suggested that McCain was mentally unbalanced after spending 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi.

Following the South Carolina primary, which McCain lost, McCain's campaign made thousands of "Catholic voter alert" calls in Michigan informing voters that then-Gov. George W. Bush had appeared at Bob Jones University and describing Jones, the institution's leader, as someone with a history of anti-Catholic statements.

The phone calls infuriated Bush, who said he did not like being called a bigot. McCain won Michigan by 6 percentage points, but lost the Republican nomination.

- 30 -

Copyright © 2007 Chicago Tribune

16 November 2007

University of Michigan vs. Ohio State play The Big Game Saturday at noon in Ann Arbor

The winner gets invited to play in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Sorry about the virgin. This is very important.


e-mail from my old Army buddy who lives in the USA state shaped like the palm of the right hand.

The socks he's referring to -- a relative of mine went to U-Michigan, and left instructions that when he died, he wanted to be buried in his University of Michigan socks. He was.

The rivalry between U-Michigan and Ohio State is one of the oldest and most ferocious in college football.



Time to send the good vibes to Ann Arbor for the big game with Ohio State. Despite our not so great year of football (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten) we are tied for first in the Big Ten with arch rival Ohio State. Winning tomorrow means a trip to the Rose Bowl. Put on those U of M socks!


Bob replies:

Our prayers and sacrifices are with you.

how political professionals (and, under NH law, criminals) are helping voters choose the next president

My, isn't this attractive?

Romney isn't the last person on Earth I want as president. He's probably in a tie for that honor with Giuliani, McCain, Fred Thompson, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Whom have I forgotten? Who else rises to the level of Last Person On Earth who should be the next president?

But this is how we'll be choosing our next president. These are the kinds of political "professionals" who are manipulating the campaign to within 0.00001 millimeters of what the law allows -- and beyond, I guarantee this campaign will produce quite a few federal and state criminal indictments (see last graf of story) -- to smear the election process with excrement. This is what these "professionals" think of voters.


The Associated Press (US wire service)
Friday 15 November 2007

NH, Iowa voters
get anti-Romney calls

by Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer

CONCORD, N.H. -- Residents in New Hampshire and Iowa have received phone calls raising questions about Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, his Mormon faith and the Vietnam War-era military deferments he received while serving as a missionary in France.
more stories like this

Western Wats, a Utah-based company, placed the calls that initially sound like a poll but then pose questions that cast Romney in a harsh light, according to those who received the calls. In politics, this type of phone surveying is called "push polling" -- contacting potential voters and asking questions intended to plant a message in voters' minds, usually negative, rather than gauging peoples' attitudes.

A spokesman for the company would not comment on whether it made the calls. "Western Wats has never, currently does not, nor will it ever engage in push polling," its client services director, Robert Maccabee, said in a statement released Thursday night.

The 20-minute calls started on Sunday in New Hampshire and Iowa. At least seven people in the two early voting states received the calls.

Among the questions was whether a resident knew that Romney was a Mormon, that he received military deferments when he served as a Mormon missionary in France, that his five sons did not serve in the military, that Romney's faith did not accept blacks as bishops into the 1970s and that Mormons believe the Book of Mormon is superior to the Bible.

"It started out like all the other calls. ... Then all of the sudden it got very unsettling and very negative," said Anne Baker, an independent voter from Hollis, N.H.

"Whatever campaign is engaging in this type of awful religious bigotry as a line of political attack, it is repulsive and, to put it bluntly, un-American," Romney spokesman Matt Rhoades said. "There is no excuse for these attacks. Gov. Romney is campaigning as an optimist who wants to lead the nation. These attacks are just the opposite. It's ugly and divisive."

Sabrina Matteson, a Republican from Epsom, N.H., said she got a call on Wednesday.

"The first 15 or 20 questions were general questions about the leading candidates," she said. "Then he started asking me very, very negatively phrased questions about Romney. The first one was would you have a more favorable, less favorable, blah, blah, blah, impression of Mitt Romney if you knew that his five sons had never served in the military and that he considered working on a presidential campaign as public service or some such question."

In Iowa, Romney supporter and state representative Ralph Watts got a call on Wednesday.

"I was offended by the line of questioning," Watts said. "I would be equally as offended if someone called and said in the nature of if, 'you know the Catholic Church supported pedophile priests.' I don't think it has any place in politics."

Romney's Mormon faith has been an issue in his presidential bid, especially with conservative evangelicals who are central to his strategy to cast himself as the candidate for the GOP's family values voters.

Baker said the caller initially wouldn't tell her who was behind the call. Eventually, Baker was told the caller was from Western Wats.

Last year, Western Wats conducted polling that was intended to spread negative messages about Democratic candidates in a House race in New York and the Senate race in Florida. The Tampa Tribune and the Albany Times Union reported that Western Wats conducted the calls on behalf of the Tarrance Group.

That Virginia-based firm now works for Romney's rival, Rudy Giuliani. The campaign has paid the firm more than $400,000, according to federal campaign reports.

In his statement on behalf of Western Wats, Maccabee said the company was not currently conducting "any work for ... The Tarrance Group, in the state of New Hampshire or Iowa, nor have we for the period in question."

Maccabee added that confidentiality agreements prohibit the company from commenting on specific projects or clients.

Ed Goeas, chief of the Tarrance Group, said there is no connection between the Giuliani campaign and Western Wats. They are using a Houston firm to do their polling.

"I know absolutely it's not us," Goeas said. "I can say with absolute, no, it's not us."

Western Wats also worked for Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996. Employees said they used such calls to describe GOP rival Steve Forbes as pro-abortion rights.

New Hampshire law requires [that] all political advertising, including phone calls, identify the candidate being supported. No candidate was identified in the calls.

- 30 -

© Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

PizzaQ: What's Bush made of? /// e-mails about Ron Paul & big Chicago Tribune article

Well sure, click all you want.

I've airbrush-deleted the url of the creator of this image for the Vleeptron PizzaQ Honor System. After somebody wins the Pizza, I'll credit the creator.

This image is a mosaic composed of 1200 small photographic similar elements. What are the elements? 4 Slices with endives, garlic, shallots.


Okay, back to Agence-Vleeptron Presse's continuing in-depth top-tier journalistic coverage of the interminable and cartoonesque USA Presidential Campaign 2008.

A few posts ago I replied to a mass-spam from a close relative, in which, as an aside, he described Republican candidate US Congressman Ron Paul as a right-wing nutcase. So this thread really began HERE.

Paul, and Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio (who just introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to impeach Vice-President Cheney), are the two most marginalized, asterisked, dismissed and written-off of the numerous candidates. Both major parties and their leading candidates wish Paul and Kucinich would just drop out and vanish already. But Kucinich and Paul are surprisingly tough-skinned and stubborn, and refuse to vanish at the convenience of conventional politicians. They have messages they wish to send to American voters, and as long as they can find a microphone and an audience and just enough money to get there, they're going to keep sending their messages.

I admire both of them for that. They're shaping the campaign, or their part in it, far more than the campaign is shaping them. The major candidates are wetting their fingers to gauge the wind, and consulting polls and focus groups hourly, and daily change their stands on various issues as a function of the volatile political weather.

Paul and Kucinich, on the other hand, have consistent, well-defined positions on the issues they consider critically important, and seem oblivious to the changing political weather, or to polls or focus groups.

Some back-and-forth e-mails, after which a most interesting Chicago Tribune article about Ron Paul and his surprising campaign.

to nephew:

Hmmmm well, you pulled my lawnmower cord with your mass spam e-mail, so this is all your fault.

Ron Paul really had been just the tiniest, most ill-defined blip on my radar screen when this business came up. What little I'd known of him either I liked, or else wildly amused me in a positive sort of way. But I'd written him off as a highly localized phenomenon, an obstetrician who rang doorbells so well among his neighbors in some obscure Texas district that they'd learned to love him and vote for him over and over again whether he ran as a Libertarian or a Republican. (Bernie [Sanders, US Senator from Vermont] hasn't always stayed True to his original SOCIALIST badge either; as time goes by and his ambitions rise, INDEPENDENT seems to be the more comfy term on his lapel.)

Anyway, my thoughts about your spam focused and ratcheted up the attention I pay to Ron Paul. I look particularly through his record and words for Red Flags, like Kill The Jews or an old KKK membership -- early in his Congressional career, John Anderson had incautiously signed on to a Christian Nation thing, and it dogged and soured his otherwise very positive and appealing third-party candidacy.

I still haven't found any smoking gun in Ron Paul's hand or mouth. Most of what could be portrayed (by a worried political adversary) as objectionable in his legislative record is a consistent and direct consequence of his disgust of and opposition to the cancerous growth of federal power and spending.

We've had several generations of being inculcated to ask: "Who wouldn't vote for subsidized milk for schoolkids?" But Ron Paul seems strange and bizarre because he considers the cumulative effect on America of fifty years and 50,000 "good" federal-centric programs which Congress renews and expands every year.

So the most objectionable aspects of Paul, I suspect, are a matter of focus/depth of field. We've become accustomed to seeing the free milk in the kindergarten, judging it Good, and not thinking beyond that.

Which is exactly how the American Dairy Association and 10,000 other industrial lobbyists want the American voter to think. The way things have been working for the past half-century,

* the kiddies get their milk (Hooray!)


* a lobbyist gets to buy a new luxury oceanfront summer home in Maine (insert the interjection you feel is appropriate here)

There's a good recent example. I don't like legalized gambling very much, and for various reasons that's a sentiment a lot of Americans share. A couple of years ago, Ralph Reed [former head of the Christian Coalition] marshalled thousands of God-fearing Christians to successfully oppose an Indian tribe's application for a new casino in Texas. (Hooray!)

It took a while to uncover it, but it turned out Reed wasn't strictly doing Jesus' work in this anti-gambling mission. He was secretly in partnership with Jack Abramoff, who wanted the casino blocked because he was the lobbyist for the Indian tribe in Louisiana with the nearest competing casino. Reed and Abramoff were getting secretly rich by seemingly pushing a fine, noble and even holy agenda. (Insert appropriate injerjection here.)

Paul the obstetrician probably loves milk for kiddies, and Paul probably isn't personally wild about legalized gambling, but Paul the Libertarian is looking at a bigger picture, and asking: What's REALLY going on here? Who's being hustled and bamboozled? Who's getting richer and richer? This is an entire way of looking at government which you're just never going to hear a single word about from the campaigns of The Serious Candidates. (Fred Thompson, in fact, when not a TV actor, is a millionaire K-Street lobbyist, and one of his clients was Haiti's Aristide.)

I think we should be careful about dismissing Paul's radically different focus too hastily. If there are very bad consequences if Paulism were ever to infect the White House, I would much rather the American electorate spend a lot of time actively and publicly discussing and debating them. Right now Paul's odd ideas never even get discussed or heard; they tend to be pre-dismissed and pre-rejected, certainly by the campaigns of the "serious" candidates (which are hostile to any and all ideas and issues to begin with).

Anyway I bother you today with,0,5136273.story?coll=chi-newsbreaking-hed

The significance isn't that it's about Paul. I think the great significance is that an ancient pillar of The Mainstream Commercial Media has had its robotic attention momentarily jarred from The Serious Presidential Candidates to devote a huge amount of front-page space to a whacko who, by all conventional media wisdom, should barely be noticed, should at the very best be a tiny asterisk on The Tribune's page 6. Anybody can find reams of stuff about Paul on The Libertarian Review -- but huge attention in The Chicago Tribune???

It is very possible something Very Large is happening. And the article discusses the rather startling strength of Paul's grassroots small-donor fundraising -- which is simply NOT how The Serious Candidates raise their massive campaign funds. (Good buzzword this year: bundling. Ron Paul doesn't bundle.)

As for me, I don't know whom I'd vote for if it was tomorrow. Because I'm a lifelong lefty, I'd probably check Kucinich. But maybe not.

Though it shocked and distressed me at first, I had great experiences voting for one Republican -- our late congressman Silvio Conte -- because he spoke far better to [notoriously ultra-liberal and progressive] Northampton and Amherst [Massachusetts] and served us far better than any of the loop vanity Dem schmucks and schmuckeusses who tried to unseat him. In his last term, Conte (a WWII [Navy] vet) voted NO to Bush I's Gulf War. So even the odd Republican has the capacity to woo me and sing songs I love to hear.

But if it was tomorrow, this ghastly war has rendered me a thoroughly single-issue voter. Stop The Fucking War Now.

Please continue to keep me apprised of any Serious Candidates who claim as bluntly and clearly as Paul and Kucinich that they'll also stop this war immediately. I'm not nearly as well-informed as I like to pretend I am; for the sake of my health and blood pressure, I tend to tune out an enormous amount of Campaign 2008.

Maybe Hillary is my savior, maybe Edwards, maybe Obama. If you know stuff, make me wise, I will be sincerely grateful.


Nephew replies:

I don't know about the Holy Trinity, but rumor has it that additional un-real Dems say they'd be serious about ending the war fast: Richardson is the most real of them, but also media-abused Gravel. I liked the write-up on Gravel in the recent Nation:

Here's their thing on Richardson: .

Richardson's website says he promises to have all troops home by 2009. For a little while I thought I would really like Richardson, but then I saw a YouTube video of him giving a speech on health care and 1) he sucked at explaining what his plan actually was, and 2) his plan was lame.

I'm stuck being a 4-issue voter: end the war, deal seriously with global warming, universal healthcare--anything claiming to be that that's other than single-payer will be hard for me to swallow, and reversing the legalization of torture and all this war on terror crap. I'm not sure that any candidate, Paul included, can clean sweep my issues.

I say all this cuz I'd like to keep you in the lefty fold, but I hear everything you say about Paul and it sounds right good to me. I took an online survey that tells you which candidates are supposedly closest to you in your issue orientation, and Paul was ranked way, way higher than all the other Republicans on my response list.

Kucinich was my top match, according to the computer tabulator. I forget how others came out. Interestingly, though it's a military related website, Gravel is the top match of the over 1,000,000 people who've done the survey. McCain is in dead last, ha! ha!

to Nephew:

Well, as I said, I mainly wanted to point out that Paul (unlike Kucinich) has managed to capture some of the interest of the mainstream media.

(The Nation is not the mainstream media. It's sweet, thoughtful, important, prestigious, literate, has citations, etc. But it ain't the mainstream media.)

I think if Kucinich had spent the last two weeks campaigning in the nude, with a Viagra erection, no one in the mainstream media would have noticed.

But indeed, I would really love to be a bi-issue voter, and Kucinich is the only candidate who has the cojones (or nipples -- does that translate?) to stand up and say Out Loud: Single Payer Health Plan.

As I've mentioned, this translates into mainstream American political English as "Hello, I want America to have a health care plan just like Castro's Cuba, please make me your President."

I'll check out the Candidate Computer on , thanks, that looks pretty nifty.

Here's the Naughty Little Secret about the American Military -- not the official Department of Defense, but the ranks, the actual serving people: Contrary to what Fox would have you believe, the independent anonymous polls conducted free of DoD influence always show a huge Democratic and even anti-war presence.

It was like that during Vietnam, too, though for different historical reasons.

Service personnel need a job, a way to support families, and a way to get college money. The military offers all these things in a brutal, harsh, sinking civilian labor market for those who don't have college degrees. For a lot of America, it's the military, or it's Wendy's, or it's Unemployment. (Do they still have Unemployment? Substitute: Homelessness.)

More than that, most of them are not in the Combat Arms, most of them are not the Rambo movie guys. To keep one of those in the field, it takes five Technical, Educated, Skilled, Trained types doing support and administrative jobs far from combat.

Rambo votes for Bush maybe. (The combat arms are not noted for their intelligence.)

But he's out-voted 5 to 1 by the sane ones who program computers and schedule shiploads of food and supplies between continents, and by the medics who staff the hospitals. They're neither genocidal nor suicidal.

(The genocidal and suicidal ones leave the military and walk across the street and sign up with Blackwater.)

If it was tomorrow, I'd [X] Kucinich.

In Yiddish and a lot of other lingos, they say: If my grandmother had testicles, she'd be my grandfather. By November '08 we will be gifted with the usual choice: The better of two plagues.

My friends, who had a college daughter, begged me to vote for Gore (rather than Nader) for their Single Issue: No matter how lame a president Gore might be, his four or eight years of federal judge appointments would be far better for defending reproductive rights than four or eight years of Bush's appointments -- which my naive and hopeless Truth & Beauty Nader vote, they felt, would assist. Moreover, a president is a fleeting thing of 4 or 8 years, but a federal judge or Supreme Court justice endureth forever.

That became my mom's Single Issue too -- Defend Roe v. Wade at all costs, she remembered the half-century before Roe v. Wade with unbelievable anger and bitterness. To her, those were the years of America's Lethal Horror War Against Women.

Some kid on YouTube made a video in which he (acting the role of the hooded prisoner) demonstrates waterboarding. I guess keywording "waterboarding" ought to get it. Don't get me started on Torture as a 3rd voter issue. I feel as if I'm hallucinating on LSD, or have some brain fungus infection when I turn on the cable or read the front page, from NY Times to NY Daily News, and watch this spirited, vigorous, never-ending national debate about whether Americans should torture Muslims or not.

I used to enjoy some LSD hallucinations. Not this one. This is the Mother of All Bad Trips.



The Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois daily)
Friday 16 November 2007


Paul: A seller of ideas

They call him Dr. No -- no big government, no big spending, no flouting the Constitution. And no interest in slick political image.

by Lisa Anderson, Tribune national correspondent

ANGLETON, Texas -- No more Department of Education. No more Federal Reserve Bank. No more Medicare or Medicaid. No more membership in the United Nations or NATO. No more federal drug laws. And, no more U.S. troops in Iraq -- or anywhere else on foreign soil.

The Internal Revenue Service would be history in the first week that Ron Paul sits behind the desk in the Oval Office. And the dismantling of the above-mentioned entities and relationships -- plus a long list of others -- soon would commence.

Think that sounds eccentric, strange, even crazy? Many of the libertarian-minded, 10-term congressman's rivals for the GOP presidential nomination think so and have said so.

But, to a growing, Internet-based pool of supporters, the silver-haired obstetrician turned politician is the sanest man at the Republican debates and perhaps in all of Congress. Paul attracts an unusual political potpourri of people of all ages and viewpoints, including a sprinkling of conspiracy theorists and other extremists whose views Paul's campaign disavows. While most supporters ardently oppose the Iraq war, what they all share is a deep disenchantment and distrust of the federal government in its present form and a fervent belief in Paul's plans to change it.

On Nov. 5, they demonstrated their passion for Paul in spectacular fashion, raising $4.2 million, mostly online, in 24 hours, rocketing him close to his $12 million goal for the fourth quarter. In terms of 2008 GOP presidential candidates, Paul's take broke the previous one-day record of $3.1million set by Mitt Romney Jan. 8.

Hammering home a singular message of freedom, free markets, smaller federal government and greater personal responsibility, Paul, at 72, is nothing if not consistent. Personally, he seems very much the same in a one-on-one conversation as he does on the stump: earnest, serious and slightly stunned. Although pleasant, he, unlike most politicians, makes no effort to charm. He leaves an impression that he is out to sell ideas, not himself.

Politically, he also is relentlessly consistent: If it is not explicitly authorized in the U.S. Constitution, Paul opposes it, particularly if it involves spending. He has opposed so many things over his political career that he has been dubbed "Dr. No."

The money that would be saved from the elimination of many federal programs, not to mention the Iraq war, he contends, would more than provide a state-based safety net for those Americans who can't help themselves and for those depending on Social Security, which eventually he would phase out. States, not the federal government, should deal with issues such as abortion and the nature of marriage, he says. And, though he dreams of a day America returns to a gold standard, he would be happy just to see the country stop taking on huge foreign debt and running up deficits by printing money for which it has no solid backing.

Off and running

Money, specifically monetary policy, is a long-term Paul obsession, the foundation of many of his ideas and books and the catalyst of his political career. In his 20s, he became interested in the libertarian-flavored Austrian school of economics, which favors a commodity-backed currency and markets free of government interference. When President Richard Nixon effectively severed the U.S. dollar from the gold standard in 1971, Paul has said, he felt impelled to enter politics.

Emerging as an unlikely Republican rock star among young voters, Paul actually draws cheers on college campuses when he calls for abolishing the Federal Reserve System.

"It amazes me no end that they even have thought about it," he said in a recent interview.

Asked about his appeal to young people, he said, "They don't trust government. Government has been messing things up. And they respond favorably to not worrying about paying income tax and getting out of Social Security."

In terms of foreign policy, he said, "I make them feel good that you can be conservative and pro-truth and pro-American and pro-Constitution and not want to go to war for needless purposes. They've been made to feel ... that if you don't support all these invasions and all this fighting, somehow you're anti-American."

Paul has infuriated some, including his GOP rivals, by suggesting that U.S. foreign policy has fueled terrorism and contributed to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He often says, "They came over here because we went over there."

Meanwhile, he has proved not only more popular but more bankable than many -- including himself -- might have expected. Even before the Nov. 5 cascade of cash, Paul's campaign had more than $5 million on hand at the close of the third quarter,exceeding the coffers of such better-known White House hopefuls as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Republican former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

No fear

"I think one thing that appeals to the young people is that he'll speak his mind and he doesn't care who likes or doesn't like it," said Bruce Buchanan, a professor of government who specializes in presidential politics at the University of Texas at Austin. "That old saw that he'd rather be right than be president fits."

Long unafraid to take rock-solid stands on issues that would turn other candidates' knees to jelly -- witness his opposition to gun control and censorship of pornography or anything else on the Internet, and his approval of decriminalizing marijuana and prostitution -- Paul has developed the unlikely political habit of saying exactly what he thinks. All the time. Whether he's on the floor of the House of Representatives or on the couch of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

Down-home but passionate

A slight, craggy-faced man whose crinkly eyes and ski-slope nose might suggest an older version of commentator Bill O'Reilly, Ron Paul cuts a figure more down-home than dashing. He projects a mild-mannered demeanor but turns fiery when he talks about the need for change in the federal government. And there is a steely certainty to his views that even his fans concede sound radical on first hearing.

Some have compared Paul's formidable performance on the Internet with that of former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, another maverick who also scored early success on the Internet, both in raising money and his profile. The majority of Paul's funds come from online donors, and his campaign Web site -- -- is often a political traffic-topper in a crowded presidential field. For the week ending Oct. 27, traffic on Paul's site vied for the top slot with that of Sen. Hillary Clinton and handily trounced all other GOP candidate sites, according to, which monitors Internet usage. "Ron Paul" was the most searched political term for the prior month.

Yet in most presidential race polls, Paul hovers in the low single digits -- often within the margin of error. In his best showing to date, 7.4 percent of likely New Hampshire primary voters supported him, according to a New Hampshire Institute of Politics poll released Oct. 25.

Although he ran as the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 1988, Paul says he has no plans to run as anything other than Republican in 2008. He also says he has no intention of running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by his fellow Texas Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison. And he has no plans to quit the presidential race.

"What people are afraid of is Paul will never leave" the race for the White House, said Robert Stein, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston and a longtime Paul watcher. "You have to know Ron Paul as I do. This guy just keeps on ticking."

Ron Paul consistently draws enthusiastic crowds, often topping 1,500 people, during campaign stops around the country, particularly at colleges and universities. But name recognition remains problematic.

"Is Ron Paul the actor, the one who used to be an actor?" one student was overheard asking as she strolled past signs for a Paul event on the University of Southern California campus earlier this fall.

No, that would be Fred Thompson.

Paul's name can draw blank stares even in his own district. At the Brazoria County Fair in Angleton on a hot and dusty October day, it seemed most people were far more familiar with such signature delicacies as fried Oreos, fried pickles and Brobdingnagian-size roasted turkey legs than they were with their own representative in Congress, who happens to be running for the White House.

"I know he was a doctor in Lake Jackson," said Bubba Kettler, 44, an electric company lineman.

Teresa Petersen, sitting amid crates of the velvety, mottled chocolate-and-white Standard Rex rabbits her sons brought to show at the fair, fondly recalled Ron Paul. Mother of a child with autism, Petersen went to see Paul in a district office to persuade him to oppose the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Improvement in Education Act. Many parent groups at the time contended that proposed changes in the act weakened educational opportunities for disabled children.

Amiable and approachable

"He was just a really nice man. He was very easy to talk to," recalled Petersen, 45, who is a full-time student at Brazosport College. "He was very aware of the issue," she said, adding "He did end up voting 'no' on that.

"Actually, I found out later that he votes 'no' on most things, so there went all the air out of my bubble," she added with a laugh.

Representing the 14th Congressional District, Paul covers a swath of the Texas Gulf Coast running south of Houston from about Galveston to Corpus Christi. A mix of rural, suburban and beach communities, the district has a large petrochemical industry presence, cattle ranching, rice farming and numbers many NASA workers among its roughly 650,000 residents.

Although Paul steadfastly opposes farm subsidies, greater support for NASA and funding for FEMA in a famously hurricane-prone district, he continues to be re-elected comfortably. "It's not that kind of relationship," said the University of Texas' Buchanan. "It's more on the order of 'This is a man we trust,' as opposed to 'What's in it for us?'"

Born August 20, 1935, in Pittsburgh, Ronald Ernest Paul was the third of five sons born to a dairy farmer in the nearby tiny suburb of Green Tree. He began working for his father at an early age and delivered milk during his years at Dormont High School. There he met Carol Wells, daughter of a well-to-do coffee broker. They have five children, 18 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year.

"The first time I ever saw him, he was running a track event," recalled Carol Paul, 71, in a recent phone conversation.

"I think what impressed me too was that everybody liked him. But he was a serious student and a serious athlete. He spent most of his time doing that. He wasn't one of the big dating crowd. He was student body president his senior year. He didn't run for it. They wanted him."

Paul worked his way through Gettysburg College, initially planning to follow two of his brothers into the ministry. But an interest in biology led him instead to the Duke University School of Medicine. He and Carol married in his last semester at Gettysburg, and she worked to put him through medical school.

Paul was a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard from 1963 to 1968; he was not assigned to serve in Vietnam. In 40 years as an OB-GYN in the Lake Jackson area, he estimates, he has delivered more than 4,000 babies.It pains Carol Paul to hear her husband booed or criticized by rivals during debates, but she takes pride in his attitude. "He has no animosity to these people," she said. "He forgives. But I don't know if he can ever forgive about the war, the boys we've lost and the fact we went in for lies."

Ron Paul is the only GOP candidate unequivocally opposed to the Iraq war and was the only Republican representative who did not vote in support of it. He is also the rare congressman who refuses a Congressional pension, because he considers the use of taxpayer money in this fashion an abuse of power. For the same reason, he never accepted taxpayer-funded Medicare or Medicaid in his practice, nor did he allow his children to take federal loans for college.

Paul appears financially comfortable but not exceedingly wealthy, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Most of his holdings are in about two dozen gold and silver firms, many valued at less than $15,000 and none valued at more than $250,000.

A turnabout

Paul likes to tell people that when constituents came to visit him in his Washington office, it would invariably be parents with reluctant children in tow. These days, he says, it is more often young people introducing their skeptical parents to him.

There are more than 260 Students for Ron Paul chapters around the country, and one of them is at USC in Los Angeles. There Paul stood under a blazing sun on a hot September afternoon speaking to a rally that swiftly grew from a few hundred students to more than 1,500. Among them was history major Luke Murphy, 20. Murphy found out about Paul from his twin brother, who discovered him on the Internet.

"My little brother is going to a Ron Paul rally in San Francisco tomorrow, and he's bringing my mother," he said, noting that septuagenarian Paul may be too "radical" for the "older generation."

Lorraine Clearman, a 67-year-old school administrator, admitted she was cynical when she arrived earlier that same day to hear Paul speak at a $500-a-head fundraising breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena. She went at the behest of her daughter, Holly Clearman, 47, who works with school drop-outs in Los Angeles, and her 14-year-old grandson, Anthony Iatropoulos.

Anthony, a 9th grader, said his mother had introduced him to Paul's ideas. But, he added, "I don't just blindly follow my mother. I feel with sincerity that Ron Paul is hope for America." "Hope for America" is Paul's campaign slogan.

By late October, Lorraine Clearman was sold on Paul. "These positive young supporters give me optimism for the future of our country," she said in an e-mail. "This election may well be bought, and the next ones as well, but the movement may prevail in the end. My conscience will only let me vote for Ron Paul."

No matter how things turn out in 2008, Paul believes he will have made an impact, or at least a dent, in the political landscape. "They can't silence us," he said. "The message is out of the bag, so to speak. The message is out there. I have no idea what's going to happen to the campaign. I'm doing so much better than I ever dreamed."

As he recently said on The Tonight Show, "There's probably a risk I could win."

- 30 -


BORN: Aug. 20, 1935; Pittsburgh

EDUCATION: Gettysburg College, graduated in 1957 (BA, major in biology); Duke University School of Medicine, graduated in 1961 with a medical degree.

POLITICAL CAREER: U.S. House of Representatives, 1976; 1978-84; 1997-present. Defeated in GOP primary for U.S. Senate in 1984. Ran as Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1988.


FAMILY: Wife, Carol Wells (married Feb. 1, 1957); five children: Ronald, Lori, Randal, Robert and Joy



POLITICAL HERO: Sen. Robert A. Taft

FAVORITE FOODS: Tilapia, chocolate chip cookies

FAVORITE MODE OF EXERCISE: Tries to walk at least 3 miles in the morning and bicycle at least 10 miles in the afternoon.

FAVORITE BOOKS: "Human Action: A Treatise on Economics" by Ludwig von Mises and "The Road to Serfdom" by Friedrich A. Hayek

FAVORITE TV SHOW: Financial news


FAVORITE HYMN: "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"

TELL US A JOKE: He doesn't joke.


Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune