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29 September 2012

The Romney men in America's wars: zero minutes in uniform, zero risk

Click to enlarge.

4 American wars, 7 able-bodied American males of serving age, 2 drafts, zero minutes in uniform. Zero risk.

George ran for President, Mitt's running for President for the 2nd time.

28 September 2012

CRUMMY OLD WINE DEPT: 4 USA Wars, from WW2 to Iraq & Afghanistan, and not 1 Romney draft-age male has ever spent 1 minute in a USA military uniform!

Publicke Notice

The Editorial Board of Agence-Vleeptron Presse would like to point out that now that Mitt Romney has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, his five sons -- Tag, Boop, Vorky, Schmoo and Winky -- are all now available to join the United States military and help defeat terrorism in Asia. Or Latin America. Or Africa. Or Antarctica.

The crowds in Iowa went wild when Mitt Romney explained that his five sons had chosen more important service to America by "helping me get elected."

Mitt never served in uniform either. There was a war on then, too.


The Associated Press (US newswire)
8 August 2007

Sons Serve Country

By Campaigning

Presidential Hopeful Defends His Five Sons' Lack Of Military Service

BETTENDORF, Iowa -- Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Wednesday defended his five sons' decision not to enlist in the military, saying they're showing their support for the country by "helping me get elected."

Romney, who did not serve in Vietnam due to his Mormon missionary work and a high draft lottery number, was asked the question by an anti-war activist after a speech in which he called for "a surge of support" for U.S. forces in Iraq.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, also saluted a uniformed soldier in the crowd and called for donations to military support organizations. Last week, he donated $25,000 to seven such organizations.

"The good news is that we have a volunteer Army and that's the way we're going to keep it," Romney told some 200 people gathered in an abbey near the Mississippi River that had been converted into a hotel. "My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard."

He added: "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."

Romney's five sons range in age from 37 to 26 and have worked as real estate developers, sports marketers and advertising executives. They are now actively campaigning for their father and have a "Five Brothers" blog on Romney's campaign Web site ...


19 September 2012

The Idea of North -- GG's Winnipeg-to-Churchill MN wilderness train in a few weeks! Polar bears! Aurora! The Adventure of a Lifetime

SVP clicquez le fiche pour le plus grande

Hi et salut hallo f_minorites,
Been busy lately, pecked about the ankles by angry ducks ... so I'm sorry if I haven't posted much lately. But I faithfully read (almost) every post.
* * *
Between the last week of September and the first week or two of October, (mostly adolescent male) polar bears will make their annual migration around and through the tiny Hudson Bay grain shipping port town of Churchill, Manitoba Canada.
I guess rich pervs can comfortably fly there from Toronto or Montreal, but Normal Human Beings catch a train (diesel, 'cause you're going Way Off The Electric Grid) in Winnipeg and head North through the vast gorgeous Canadian forest wilderness for 2.5 days until -- far beyond the Tree Line, in Arctic permafrost tundra -- it finally reaches Churchill.
(Like all beach towns, you'll be just a block or two from the beach, which is the astonishingly otherworldly Hudson Bay.)
One Human Being who rode this train there and back again was Glenn Gould. In 1967 the CBC asked what he'd like to contribute to a big Anniversary, and GG took a tape recorder and talked to the passengers riding this train to the Canadian North.
The result -- after GG's revolutionary mixing -- was his first radio documentary, "The Idea of North."
(If you've never heard TIoN, a little web shopping or library surfing could get all three radiodocs to your ears in a few days.)
It's my wish that the world-unique train trip, the wilderness, and the annual polar bear migration might seduce just 1 or 2 or maybe 3 addled f_minorites to investigate buying a round-trip seat or sleep box on This Amazing Train.
I promise any GG fan addled and irresponsible enough (as I once was) only The Adventure of a Lifetime. I promise nothing more than that.
(Except up-close-and-personal encounters with polar bears, polar bear warning signs, barred doors up and down main street to keep the polar bears from whacking tourists ...)

For a week you'll be Less Than No. 1 on the Food Chain. Running shoes are much better than great wilderness boots.
For whacks like me, this is one of the most famous train journeys on the planet, the subject not just of TIoN, but of documentaries that have peppered TV for decades.
Likely, you've waited too long to book this famous trip -- but it's been my experience that if you want a journey bad enough, and you whine, and bribe, and lie, and wheedle, and then just show up waving cash, they usually find space for you and your backpack.
Or for you and a pal, and both your backpacks.
The crammed snack bar car -- this is a heavy-drinking frontier train, affordable transportation for the people in these parts -- is possibly the most interesting cage of colorful people I've ever spent hours in.
You could semi-officialize something This Train has never had -- a living, travelling memorial to GG's 1967 trip, what it meant to him, and what it did to his creative life. By just chatting with passengers, or lending them flash drives of TIoN, f_minor could treat Glenn to another train ride to Churchill. Glenn made the Canadian Arctic his own just as much as Toronto.
The buzz is that Churchill is the world's hottest, most active spot to view the Aurora. It sure looked astonishing to me. The Native-Canadians are mostly Inuit, some Swampy Cree, they have their own (missionary-introduced) alphabet, and if you are lucky and courteous, they will share some of their experience with you.
The food's very interesting, some of it stunningly delicious, and unobtainable in civilized regions. (Calling Churchill "civilized" would be a stretch.)
In my Amazing Adventure, there was no hint, no rumor, no whisper that the polar bear -- the largest and best hunter-carnivore on Earth, mostly it hunts seals on winter ice -- might be coming to the end of its millennia as undisputed ruler of the circumpolar Arctic. The anamolous numbers of polar bear drownings hadn't yet been reported by US federal scientists.
GG's earlier trip ditto -- everyone assumed the great and dangerous wild polar bear would be there for humans to marvel at forever.
So now, as you ponder a wildly irresponsible and impulsive adventure, there's an added urgency. We're looking at a future, some now think in our lifetimes, when there'll still be polar bears ... but only in the world's zoos. As the polar ice melts, the wild bears will drown trying to swim to the next ice cake.
If you are completely impulsive and irresponsible -- bring me back photos and souvenirs, send me a postcard!
Massachusetts USA
"Of all our regrets, the coldest and most empty are of temptations we have successfully resisted."
-- James Branch Cabell
(from memory, but that's pretty close)

18 September 2012

The USA -- we're Number 1 in slow, undependable, crappy, smelly, uncomfortable trains! All aboard! / Send Joseph H. Boardman to prison

Click on images to enlarge.

LandscapeWindscreen has left a new comment on your post "1st Day Issue / Postalo Vleeptron: Bob & S.W.M.B.O...":
Oooh is that the train that comes down from Montreal ? Been on that one from NYC to DC, but that was ages ago….but this tells me that it is still difficult to get to DC by plane…..

I had a slight hangover from a bar visit in Manhatten the night before and behind me sat two nice elderly ladies from Quebec happily chattering away in french, rightly thinking that 99 % of the passengers would not get what they say. Oh, those bloody americans, no taste, horrible trains, and even the clouds look different, but in a tone that was far from mean. Shortly after we left NYC I took a nap, while the two ladies went on about this and that in their strange accent, which is quite difficult
to understand even if your french is below average, became the ambient soundscape of my catn[a]p.

Suddenly I felt a bump behind me and I woke up. Of course the ladies apologized for waking me up, they said they were very sorry. So I told them in polite french that it did not matter and everything was all right. They were a bit shocked and in their surprise (I got almost every word they had said about "those bloody americans") they asked me how come my french was so good. I told them where I come from and for some time we had a nice chat. I forgot what they wanted to do in DC, but I have fond memories of that train ride.


I hate commercial airline flying, I hate everything about it, from entering the airport, the paranoia of the post-9/11 security, the strange radiation exposures, the frothing killer-sniffer dogs and the SWAT police, the crappy overpriced food, the ... well, I could go on and on, but I just hate it.

Certainly I hate every aspect of it in the USA and everywhere in the Western Hemisphere I've had to fly.

I don't hate flying itself -- and in fact I love flying in screwy little fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, I love crazy straight-up-straight-down STOL planes. I love single-engine or twin-engine propeller planes. And the screwy places I like to visit, these are the kind of planes you got to fly, so it's all a wonderful Flying Adventure to me.

What's the best airplane trip? A flight where half the passengers quietly make the sign of the Cross
and whisper a prayer on landing and takeoff. I've been on a lot of those flights -- and if they asked me to pay $25 extra for a Prayer Flight, I would.

It's different in Yerp. The trains are great, dependable, and even in the Eastern Zones, the trains may suck, but they're really interesting and real old -- so it's not just train travel, it's often Time
Travel too.

I don't think I've ever flown anywhere IN Europe. Oh, okay, after Schiphol, one short connecting flight to Berlin Templehof (opened 1923, closed 2008). I only fly when I need to cross a big ocean from continent to continent. (And once I said screw that and crossed the Atlantic on Communist Polish Ocean Liner TSS Stefan Batory, London to Montreal. That was a total blast!)

You can't SEE where you are from an airplane! You can't see the land, the country, the roadsigns, the people, the cars, the cows, the horses, the sheep, the architecture, you can't see the hectares of gorgeous tulips. All you LEARN from commercial flying is the insides of big airports. (Schiphol's my favorite, I'd happily spend the day in Schiphol even if I wasn't flying anywhere; Keflavik is always a big treat,)

Okay, so what's left of my hometown family is in the Washington DC area. And I live in western Massachusetts (not near Boston).

Amtrak is the USA's quasi-governmental passenger rail system. Its charter for the last 30 years has been to destroy and discontinue passenger rail, and discourage people from riding the few crappy trains that survive. (VIA does the same shameful, pathetic job in Canada.)

But by a very happy set of accidental coincidences, the Northeast Corridor passenger train line -- roughly Boston-NYC-Washington DC -- is the USA's ONLY dependable, reasonably modern, comfortable, well-maintained and even profit-making (!) passenger rail route.

We get up early (no commuter traffic, highway all to ourselves) and drive south 2.5 hours and park at a very efficient, safe big garage next to the New Haven train station. (It's safe because the neighborhood is seedy and creepy, but the train station is right across the street from New Haven
Police Headquarters -- the place is infested with hundreds of uniform cops and cop cars.)

The big old Greek Revival train station has been cleaned and sandblasted and made safe and efficient as you wait for your train. If you pay top dollar, you ride the Acela train -- very modern (Euro-made) engines and passenger cars, that are the fastest passenger trains in the USA today. This one track line has been upgraded and well-maintained, so it's safe to run the Acela at high speeds -- the warning sign above is one of the zones where Acela zips along at 150 mph = 241 kph.

Big-city airports are typically 20 miles / 32 km from downtown. So after you park at one airport in the
middle of nowhere, you fly to another airport in the middle of nowhere, and take some kind of expensive taxi or bus or light rail line to your downtown city destination.

But the Northeast Corridor passenger rail route is a relic from the 19th century, and its big stations were the grand architectural centerpieces of the big cities. So today, the USA's high-speed (and slower, cheaper) trains can regularly get you from Downtown to Downtown in a time comparable to,
sometimes even faster than the same trip by commercial airliner.

Then there's weather. Bad weather may not shut down airports, but it regularly slows down airport operations and delays flights for hours -- in blizzards, for a day or two. Trains may have to throttle back a bit during bad weather, but they keep moving up and down the Corridor far more dependably.

Amtrak's current President is Joseph H. Boardman. I know a lot about his passenger trains, but I don't know much about Mr. Boardman. I sincerely believe, however, that after appointing an independent prosecutor and impanelling a federal grand jury, Mr. Boardman should be sentenced to 3 or 4 years in one of those nice white-collar "country club" federal penitentiaries. Not so much for his crimes, but as a re-education experience, and when he gets out of prison, he can continue to be Amtrak's president -- but with a New Attitude, and a Much Sharpened Sense of what his proper duties toward train passengers should be.

Oh -- and wherever the top executives of Amtrak must travel, by a new law (Bob's Law) they MUST travel only by Amtrak trains, and NEVER in 1st Class. If an Amtrak official must travel from Washington DC (Amtrak HQ is in DC Union Station) to Oakland, California, she or he MUST travel by Amtrak train.

Ah, you rode The Montrealer, and so did I a few times, and what a wonderful train when it went where it claimed it went!

It was also special to me because for a few years it made a quick depot stop, jump on, jump off, about 15 miles / 24 kliks from my house, a 20-minute drive, and no traffic because it stopped here in the middle of night, oh around midnight. No trouble parking at the Amherst or Northampton depots -- hell, almost nobody ever there. 

In Amherst the depot is a mile from Amherst College, one of USA's -- well, it's one of the Ivy League private colleges, the kind of place parents commit child murder to bump their kid up the student acceptance list. So if people there at all, they're smart (or rich) college students. If money and tweed and really nice haircuts can make you handsome and pretty, they're as handsome and pretty as money can make a guy or a grrlie. Even tastefully. It's quite a depot. puts a smile on your face, eavesdropping is very cool.

As far as I can figure out, The Montrealer exists so New York City people who want REALLY GREAT SKIING can zip up to Quebec in about 12 hours -- the trains I rode often were shoulder-to-shoulder downhill skiers. And that made it an Unusual Train. You learned a lot of stuff, and in a lot of lingos. A lot of good stories were exchanged.

I think the Montrealer travels north through the Adirondack Mountain Chain Old-Growth Forest, full of pristine blue glacier lakes, every one a full-color picture postcard. If not, take the train that does.

I hop on in Albany-Rennselear or Saratoga NY statem, both new modern red-brick well-architected and very functional train passnger terminals -- new depots of the 21st Century that Work.


When I took that Big Train Canada Walkabout a few years ago, I chatted up a couple, married, maybe a young-ish 50. They were from Wales, maybe Cornwall. They were bright and attentive and were having the adventure of a lifetime on trains in the USA and Canada.

But they were very geography-challenged and history-challenged. They had a fuzzy memory of taking a class in school that mentioned Canada and Quebec, but that's all they knew. They didn't know a word of French, and now, 4 hours before the train stopped in Montreal, they were getting more and more alarmed to find themselves in a French-speaking land. Thomas Cook hadn't told them that when they got to Quebec (formerly New France), TLM was speaking francaise seullement.

 Or maybe Thomas Cook DID tell them, but they didn't read that paragraph.

Montreal is also a great Gare -- I rank it with Helsinki's train station as Transportation Treasures.

We all schlepped off the train and toward the Main Hall, and when I got to the Info desk, there were 2
uniformed VIA women, and I asked them "SVP, ou est l'Hotel Reine Elizabeth?" and they smiled and pointed me to a nearby escalator, (My hotel is a skyscraper right above the Montreal Gare.)

The Welsh couple had overheard, and the guy asked me a nervous little joke about suddenly switching gears to another language. He was just a little startled and confused. And clearly needed to get a more accurate assessment of his and his wife's new situation. 

When in Roma ... that sort of thing.

I sort of sighed tristement and said 

Listen, uhhh, you're in the middle of a Real Big Really Old Hatred Zone. In the '70s they were using machine guns and explosives. And all the hate -- le Hain, merci -- is aimed at people who just speak English / Anglais.

Then I told him that he and his wife had a Choice: They could either have the most wonderful, delicious, happy holiday, with smiles and courtesy everywhere they went.

Or they could spend their time in Quebec surrounded by people who hated them, wished them nothing but trouble, and hoped they would fall down a flight of stairs and break a long bone, or get food poisoning and diarrhea. If they wanted food, people would sell them artificially overpriced 2nd- class food, or worse.

But all the Welsh tourists had to do to get the Happy Quebec Holiday was use the few words of French they remembered from school -- merci, ou est ... bonjour, combien, pas de quoi, etc. They could pronounce it terribly, didn't matter.

But if they demanded English Only they were demanding a shitty holiday in Quebec. Maybe even a dangerous holiday in Quebec.

The guy listened carefully and seemed to get it.

1st Day Issue / Postalo Vleeptron: Bob & S.W.M.B.O. ride the train from New Haven to DC

Please click stamp to enlarge. Thanks.

S.W.M.B.O. and I just drove to New Haven, Connecticut and took Amtrak south to Washington DC Union Station, then the Metro Red Line to see my brother & his Sweetie in Silver Spring. (The ticket machines for the DC Metro give you change in $1 coins!)

The Amtrak Downeaster -- from Boston to Portland, Maine -- has plans to extend north to Freeport (where L.L. Bean is) and Brunswick, where Bowdoin College is.

10 September 2012

the Level of Hell that awaiteth the nerd kreepazoid who infected my e-mail with malware / Penn State forgot to microwave Girl Scouts / Will we still be here ... tomorrow?

yo R -- 
ah fooey my e-mail got infected with some creepy malware which sent itself to everybody in my address book.
Ignore anything from me rcvd in the last week. If you click on it, Bulgarians will hose up your life savings, if you were foolish enough to put them on-line rather than stuff them in your mattress. (The last few years, savings interest rate from banks is about the same as interest rates from mattresses.)
Meanwhile Cynthia (who seems to be better at this stuff than I am) says she's disinfected my e-mail.
Dante never had a computer. It falls to me to describe the Level of Hell reserved for creeps who write malware and infect innocent computers with it. One such guy just pulled 30 months in federal prison -- but that's just his Earthly punishment. I'm talking about what awaits malware jerks for Eternity.
Natch, let me know if you get any further suspicious stuff from my account.
Oh, remember that Cold War Elvis Draft thing? My older brother M**** managed to squeeze himself an Air Force Reserve slot and spent 7 weekend warrior years as a fireman at Andrews AFB. He got called to active duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the night before he was to report, he and all his lowlife pals and palettes got sloshed at their fave bar and re-wrote the lyrics to the juke box smash hit: "Will we still be here / tomorrow?"
Wow! Penn State is still playing football! What do you have to do to earn the NCAA Death Penalty, microwave Girl Scouts?

after huge protests, Hong Kong schools back down from mainland-style China patriotism classes

The Associated Press
(USA newswire)
Saturday 8 September 2012

Hong Kong drops plans
for Chinese patriotism classes

by Kelvin Chan

HONG KONG (AP) -- Hong Kong officials backed down Saturday on plans to make students take Chinese patriotism classes following a week of protests in the former British colony sparked by fears of pro-Beijing "brainwashing."

The semiautonomous Chinese city's leader, Leung Chun-ying, said it would be up to schools to decide whether to hold the classes. They were to have become a mandatory subject in 2015 after a three-year voluntary period.

Public anger over the classes has been growing for months. Many feared they were a ploy by Beijing authorities to indoctrinate the city's young into unquestioning support of China's Communist Party, though Leung and other senior officials denied it.

China regained control of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997 after more than a century of colonial rule, but the city has been allowed to retain a high degree of autonomy, a separate legal system and civil liberties not seen in mainland China, such as freedom of speech.

Leung's retreat follows a week of protests by thousands in front of government headquarters coinciding with the start of a new school year. Organizers said 120,000 took part on Friday evening, though police put the number at 36,000, local news reports said.

The decision comes a day before elections for the city's legislature. Sunday's vote will be the first time the public will be able to choose more than half the seats. Deepening opposition to the education plans could have undermined support for pro-Beijing candidates.

The protesters worried the new subject would be an attempt to indoctrinate the city's young with nationalist education classes similar to ones used in schools all over China to inculcate support for the Communist government.

The fears rose after a pro-Beijing education group published a pamphlet earlier this year extolling the virtues of one-party rule. The government stressed that the booklet, called "The China Model," was not part of designated teaching material.

According to curriculum guidelines, students would learn in the classes about China's political leaders, the contributions they have made and the difficulties and challenges they face. They would also learn how to "speak cautiously," practice self-discipline and get along well with others in a rational and respectful way.

The controversy is the latest sign of increasing discomfort with mainland China's growing influence on the city. Hong Kongers have also been perturbed about stunted democratic development and an influx of wealthy mainlanders buying up property and driving up prices.
- 30 -

06 September 2012

Sally Cruikshank's animation "Quasi at the Quakadero"

Click stamp to enlarge.

A rare stamp from the reclusive All-Women Planet Mollyringwald, honoring Sally Cruikshank's 1975 animated short "Quasi at the Quakadero." Click HERE to view and hear the remarkable animated short.