Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Money can buy you happiness

Oh, okay. I'm lying. But money can alleviate a bunch of other horrors, I guess.

Maybe it's work that really does this; mine's been so crazy of late there's no time to spend worrying or wallowing. Which leaves me the drive time to have a breakdown. Not the smartest thing in the world.

So instead I'm counting all the ridiculous gobs of cash made this week, taking over another court for one of my clients.

What do you do when your kid's making the biggest mistake of her life? Do you tell her so, or just respect her enough to let her make her own bed?

I wish I knew.

This is exactly where my parents were almost 20 years ago with me. They let me make my own choice(and we all see how well that worked out.) Of course, this is all hindsight speaking with perfect pitch and clear-eyed vision. Hard to say where our relationship would be today had they even tried to stop me. I'd probably have hated them, and probably rightly so -- even knowing they had my best interest at heart.

Guess that's where I'm going with C... know she's throwing her life away with both hands, but I also know that she'll never realize it until after she does it. And that part of being her mom is walking this very fine line between respectful acceptance of her choices and seeming negligence. Yet another sublime paradox of living.

It feels like watching still another life whither away to nothing. You know, along with never seeing the inside of Drug Mart again, or watching another movie directed by Clint Eastwood, this feeling -- this overwhelming sense of loss and sorrow -- I could spend the rest of my life totally without having ever again, about anyone. Thanks very much.

A GED is certainly not what I envisioned seventeen years ago, laying in a hospital bed marveling at her perfect little toes and tiny form snugly wrapped in cotton. Nor was it the plan when they told us she had a genius IQ -- "off the charts." Now she's really going off the charts, and there's no way to even pull her back in, or toss her a floatation device.

She is, without question, both the smartest person I've ever met and, in this matter, the dumbest. She is also without question my daughter, with every possible meaning imagineable in that phrase. But mostly it means that I signed on to take the good, the bad and the indifferent, forever. My job is to love and support her -- and her choices -- no matter how perilous they may appear to the outside eye.

So I do.

But does everything have to explode all at once? Did she have to pick this month to suddenly become a crazy, rebellious delinquent with a boyfriend and the burning desire to become a high school dropout? It must be too much to ask for just one thing or person to play the whole 'sane and calm' thing with me right now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Me+ A little knowledge = Dangerous

So, the saga continues, even if the computer doesn't. Fortunately, the big box store has a cool return policy and I was well within its time frame.

Return. Receive refund. Noquestions asked.

But researching online from the great library, here's what I found -- other people with MSHOME as a network on their computer -- default name for XP, apparently. In fact, lots of people use it for their own home networking name.

But some other people, like me, never created a network. Yet here they were, grouped with strangers. Like suddenly finding yourself tossed into a party with a gang of Satanists and all the exits blocked.

This guy's problem sounds just like mine:

revrustyJul 5 2005, 02:01 PM

When I just happened to open "Entire
Network" and looked inside "Microsoft Windows Network" I saw a new entry: "Mshome." Some hacker actually has his own hard drive on my computer! Inside "Mshome" is "custom (Custom)" which contains "Ares," "C," "Printer" and "Shared Docs" folders. C is what you'd expect: Program files, Downloads, WINDOWS and even System Volume Infronation. I can right-click and "Search" the contents, but
I can't delete or change any of it -- "Access is denied."

So I've got two questions: (1) How do I delete this sizeable invasion?
(2) How to block this from happening again?

I've seen many kind, knowledgable responses here, but my quick search didn't turn up anything like this. I would greatly appeciate your help. Thank you in advance.

I have AntiVir and Sygate running all the time. Twice a month I scan with Ad-Aware SE, Search & Destroy, Trojan Remover, PC Bug Doctor, MS Antispyware and Win Patrol. I'm a freeware junkie but check all downloads with Ewido as well as my antivirus before opening.

I've got Windows XP Home on a home-made unit of AMD 900,
512 memory, and two 20 gig HDDs. It's wired directly to a wireless Airlink router that allows my home office's backup computer and laptop to access the Internet. The main and backup units are always on; the aged laptop is seldom used.

I use graphics programs that hog resources, so I keep a close
watch on what processes start up and are running, killing some as needed to finish a project. So this infestation comes as a shock. What to do and in what order?

Unfortunately for RevRusty (and me) nobody responded with how to fix this problem.

Because, really? You can't.

Think about it. Would you trust any data from a compromised system? Even lookout data that gave you the 'all clear below' message? I wouldn't. The Dell remained hacked, even after Obi Jim Kenobi claimed to have flattened the drive and washed it several times.

How do I know?

Well, when Jim reinstalled everything, including a fresh Windows 98 (with explicit demand I not ask from whence said program came), he said "It's a helluva thing. I had to go online to download your audio and video drivers. They wouldn't reinstall."

This past weekend, on the new machine, when I tried to system restore -- my audio and video drivers (different hardware from the Dell) disappeared. Mostly due to a scripting program that told them to hit the road next time I tried to restore - along with the Recycle Bin and a few other programs). I realized then Jim didn't reload everything from scratch. Maybe he wiped the drive, but it was a bit streaky, shall we say.

Sorry to digress. The point is that once someone completely takes over your computer and has more permissions on it than you do, they've gotten to the core of your system. Everything down to the BIOS is scrap.

Which brings me to my birthfather's allegedly unnetworked Dell. Which somehow also belongs to a network workgroup called....wait for it...MSHOME. Which would be fine - had he created it, or knew about it. He didn't.

He also was running a LAN connection; pretty surprising, given he's on a crap dialup modem. And until I disabled the LAN, said connection never showed up as viewable in the connections screen.

In his registry were also about 17 threaded references to msmgs.exe -- the W32.Alcarys.B, W32.Alcarys.G worm.

Now, that comes imbedded in email images.

But since I didn't even have time to read my email with the new pc - let alone check out pictures - I'm not sure how it got dumped into my system. Except that this time, as with the Dell before, the damn MSN Messenger Icon and program wouldn't go away with removing it from the registry.

Based on this, the fact we couldn't alter his startup.ini file, the mysterious LAN connection, and the fact 6,175,278 packets came to his machine yesterday over a two hour period, it looks like he'll need to flatten the pc and start over.

I've been using computers since 1989 - when Windows 3.1 was a brand new spiffy option for your computer, but hardly a necessity. And after the experiences of this past week, as well as those from a few years ago, I've soured on them. Could give a crap about computers, actually.

It's sunny outside. My kids are growing up, my parents lives are ebbing, and I've been in a social coma for far too long. The weigela and sand cherry tree I planted last year are getting leaves, and it's time to fertilize the lawn.

The last thing I need is one more problem in the form of plastic, metal and software. In any form, actually.

So from here on out, whatever blogging I do will come from the public library. Their systems seem secure enough. Besides, they've rendered it impossible to use the run command and do a quick netstat check, just to be sure. . .

Monday, April 17, 2006

Dear Jim

Remember...back in the day when I wanted you to backdoor into the Dell and see what was going on, and you wouldn't because it was illegal?

Guess what? It's not illegal anymore. And now with emachines, Windoze XP offers Remote Assistance, just like you had heard it would back before it arrived.

And guess what else? It's really, really hackable. I mean, like, go on the Internet two times running Mcafee hackable. Also just like you said it would be, given that XP was going to allow for remote system administration.

Imagine that! Think of how many people don't even understand the many vulnerabilities of the Microcrap XP system, and who don't know networks from knockwurst. Why, they'd never even know there was a problem, or system files were completely compromised, changed, or removed. They couldn't run a netstat to see the computer IP addresses connected to their own, or understand why they can't view the contents of their network (that they didn't even know they had to begin with.)
And when their D drive first goes from Fat32 to NTFS, and then disappears entirely, well...you can imagine their utter astonishment.

Did you also know that you can set permissions on the XP registry as well as view all the other users of your computer who somehow have more permissions than the computer owner? You probably know that by now. How does a house of three people, only two of whom used the Internet for a total 3 hours apiece, wind up with six computer users listed? You'll have to clue me in on that one.

As an aside, did you know that where your lovely computer tech shop (and I use lovely most loosely, of course) there's now an automotive repair shop, and they paved your gravel and flowers parking lot? I pass it once a month on my way to collect printouts at Lorain muni -- and like my aunt's old house, we'd never recognize either.

By the way, the 220 line you installed just for the computer? Works fine. Power's on. Computer's back at Best Buy, and the old Dell is dead, but the power's on. Insert winking smiley here.

So, where are you when I need you, Jim Brooks? Last I heard Nevada, after your motorcycle accident and having to learn to walk all over again. Remember, you said you wished I were there? Well...now the shoe is on the other foot. Like the first time we met, only moreso. You helped me then, and like the saying goes "Obi Wan, you're my only hope."

So call. Or write. Or visit me at the library computer terminal. But whatever you do, don't email. Not just yet.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Running out of recipes

It's Sunday. Yes, that means the great Greek American cook-off at my house. I'm seriously low on things to make for my parents. Which are, incidentally, much different than the things we eat here. Thus, two dinners every Sunday. Added today? Banana bread, for our overnight little guest.

Today's menu:

Fish Plaki

2 large sweet onions, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh curley parsley, snipped fine
3 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
2 lbs cod or other firm fish
1 small can paste or 1 large can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cp light red wine
1 clove garlic, mashed
lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dried currants, soaked in water (optional)

Sprinkle lemon juice on fish; let sit while you make the sauce. lightly saute all vegetables in oil. mix tomato paste with about 1/4 cp water (if using crushed tomatoes, omit water) and wine. Add vegetables to sauce. Place half tomato and onion mixture on the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish. Top with fish. Place remaining onion and tomato mix on top of fish. Cover. Bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours in 350 degree oven or until fish is fork tender. You can omit the wine (I do for my parents) and it's still quite good.

The second menu

Chicken Monterey

4-5 uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 eggs, blended
1 can plain bread crumbs
3 cups grated monterey jack
1/2 small can of chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 box fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup oil

Mix salt and pepper with breadcrumbs. Dip chicken cubes in egg mix, then roll in bread crumbs. Lightly brown in frying pan with oil. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all chicken is browned. Pour broth into 13x9x2 pan. Place chicken in a single layer in pan. Layer mushrooms on chicken. Top with cheese. Bake, covered for 30 minutes in 350 degree oven. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

More Sunday Video: Kos on The Colbert Report

Cute segment from Thursday night on Comedy Central. For being just a regular guy, Markos (creator of DailyKos) did a pretty good job with Colbert's faux bluster and GOP shilling.

Kos: We have found that the Republicans are really good at telling you when you can be born...that they're good at telling you when you can die...they're not really good at the stuff inbetween...

"Dear Mr. President"

I'm not a big Pink fan - but my oldest is. This is from the latest CD, and I have to say...it's really moving:

"Dear Mr. President"
(feat. Indigo Girls)

Dear Mr. President
Come take a walk with me
Let's pretend we're just two people and
You're not better than me
I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly

What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep
What do you feel when you look in the mirror
Are you proud

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye
How do you walk with your head held high
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why.."

SerenityXXX put some images to the song at YouTube. You can hear the entire song below.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Minimum wage: no laughing matter, mostly

About the only reason I pay for HBO -Bill Maher. His New Rules knocked it out of the park last night.

Making the minimum wage both funny and horrifying is no easy feat:

"What keeps wages down? The fact that Congress hasn't raised the minimum wage since 1997. 1997 - when my dealer still had a beeper. Car dealer...car deal...what'd I say?

Upping the minimum wage would affect wages. It has to. The word "wage" is right in it. Even George Bush could understand that. Maybe not. The point is, the elephant in the room is that noone can live on minimum wage and that we are making a whole swath of our society - tens of billions of people - live like animals. So that the luckier segment can live with indulgences their parents never dreamed of. Did you know that most upper middle class people nowadays never clean their own toilet, or do their own laundry, until they go to rehab.

Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is actually lower than it was in 1968."

See this, and his New Rules from last night, below.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Whistleblower admits - AT&T routed domestic calls to NSA

Wired News (a tech site) has an article blowing the lid off the NSA spying matter, describing how AT&T routed domestic calls, yours and mine, to the NSA.

Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room

See Also
A Pretty Good Way to Foil the NSA
AT&T Sued Over NSA Eavesdropping

By Ryan Singel Also by this reporter11:15 AM Apr, 07, 2006
AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.

Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF's lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.

On Wednesday, the EFF asked the court to issue an injunction prohibiting AT&T from continuing the alleged wiretapping, and filed a number of documents under seal, including three AT&T documents that purportedly explain how the wiretapping system works.
According to a statement released by Klein's attorney, an NSA agent showed up at the San Francisco switching center in 2002 to interview a management-level technician for a special job. In January 2003, Klein observed a new room being built adjacent to the room housing AT&T's #4ESS switching equipment, which is responsible for routing long distance and international calls.

"I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was the person working to install equipment in this room," Klein wrote. "The regular technician work force was not allowed in the room."

Klein's job eventually included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to the secret room. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabinets were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego."

"Despite what we are hearing, and considering the public track record of this administration, I simply do not believe their claims that the NSA's spying program is really limited to foreign communications or is otherwise consistent with the NSA's charter or with FISA," Klein's wrote. "And unlike the controversy over targeted wiretaps of individuals' phone calls, this potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of internet communications of countless citizens."

The rest is here. (Thanks to blogger oznick)

Just yesterday, Attorney General "Abu" Gonzalez stated that the president may very well use his unitary executive authority to intercept domestic to domestic calls in the US. Yes, that means what you think it means: our calls being listened to. Frankly, after reading the above report, I've no doubt the word "may" really means "already has used."

Unemployment hasn't changed - reporting of it has

What scares me most about the corporate media is the knowledge that they simply aren't that stupid. I know the traditional journalism degree curricula; math and economics are requirements. You'd just never know it, reading this morning how "unemployment is at a five year low." Sounds great, doesn't it?

Yes. Until you realize that the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't include in unemployment statistics anyone whose unemployment compensation has run-out. When a person's time to collect unemployment passes, so does their notch on the statistics list. Period. So people who've been out of work for, say, more than a year? Not counted.

Yet not a single article I read this morning, despite crowing about this so-called new unemployment low, points out the huge numbers of uncounted and unemployed people. Not even CNN - the one rightwingers call the "Commie News Network" because of their alleged liberal bias.

And the only excuse for this is not stupidity. This knowledge is college Econ 101 basic. Actually, high school Econ. So, are we to conclude reporters and editors need to go back for remedial classes?

No. The fact it goes unmentioned is willful deception, plain and simple.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A concise history of the run-up to the Iraq war

Just in case anyone forgot how it all went down:

United States: If you have weapons of mass destruction, we are going to fuck your shit up!
Iraq: Well, we don't.
United States: Show us your weapons of mass destruction!
Iraq: We don't have any.
United States: Prove that you don't have any!
Iraq: How are we supposed to do that? You can't prove a negative.
United States: Aha! So you ADMIT that you can't prove that you don't have weapons of mass destruction!
Iraq: Um... I guess. But --
United States: Say no more! Now we are going to fuck your shit up. We told you to disclose or face serious consequences!
Iraq: Well, we could disclose 11,800 pages worth of documents showing we destroyed all the weapons of mass destruction that we DID have.
United States: (pretends to read 11,8000 pages of documents) You clearly did not account for the underground nuclear bunker guarded by pixies, leprechauns, and unicorns. Prepare to get your shit fucked up.

Just an excerpt from the amazing KarateExplosion's latest "Scotty Show" transcript, found here. If you've never read a Scotty Show, you're really missing out.

Bush authorized leak?

Just getting home from court and having to apologize for accidently leaving the fax to blow-out my calling family members' eardrums, so I'm not really up on L'Affair Plame at the moment. But I did read from this New York Sun article:

Bush Authorized Leak to Times, Libby Told Grand Jury
New York Sun Web Exclusive

"A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.

The court papers from the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, do not suggest that Mr. Bush violated any law or rule. However, the new disclosure could be awkward for the president because it places him, for the first time, directly in a chain of events that led to a meeting where prosecutors contend the identity of a CIA employee, Valerie Plame, was provided to a reporter." Rest of the story here

Not advocating a rush to judgment without the facts, but...oh, hell. Why not? It would explain quite well why Bush never did seem to care much about finding out who among his own staff leaked Valerie Plame's name.

Reddhedd at Firedoglake.com has two stories on the matter. For more clarity, I'm headed there myself.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Just say something, dammit

Maybe that title pertains as much to my mood today as it does to this post, seeing as how I've become a mime.

Which would amuse many longtime friends and acquaintances, if they were still around to know. Oh, I'm still the same Chatty Cathy with those closest, for the most part - except less prone to ebullient moments of unadulterated joy - and for obvious reasons.

But at work, no matter what court, it's George Romero Day of the Dead zombie time for me. Sans the whole flesh eating nastiness, naturally. Not sure what, but something happened between 35 and today's 39.

Nevertheless, doesn't it bug you when someone calls and doesn't say anything?

Don't get me wrong -- I love the calls themselves: all mysterious and 007. It's the stuff of romance and espionage novels. They inject just the right amount of je ne sais quoi into an otherwise dreary work day.

Just think -- they could be some secret crush, or former love, completely unable to say anything, so moved are they by the voice on the other end of the receiver. Or it could be MCI. In my case, it's most likely the NSA, calling about my new book on teenaged phone-tapping called "Are You There George, It's Me, Margaret: Whatup, Homey?"

Regardless, I'm sure I speak for most of us when I say: just keep those calls coming. Only next time - if you are someone good - say something! Don't leave us all saying Hello over and over again, like dorks. Say anything! Fake an accent. Offer term life insurance or a hot deal on Tempur-Pedic mattresses. Make beeping noises and breathe lightly, thus feeding into our fears of Big Brother. Whisper. Shout. Laugh maniacally. Order pizza. Whatever.

Unless of course feeling forced to say something would result in your not calling at all. Wouldn't want that.

It's just that, after a few minutes of silence, I feel compelled to go all Gypsy on your ear and belt out the chorus from Everything's Coming Up Roses - or worse. And by worse I mean really cheesy jokes, or the Dylan impression.

Please, save us both that embarrassment.

The Nightline Tahoe segment

Hopefully Crooks&Liars will grab the Nightline video since I gave them a heads-up. Given my worries - that they might go sneery and corporate on our viral marketing efforts - it wasn't a bad little segment after all. Lots of ad snippets made it onscreen, and there was a brief interview with a guy named Gundersen. This is likely the same gundersen who befriended me at youtube.com after I uploaded the Tahoe videos.

Nightline did its level best fair and balanced stuff, neglecting to mention how gigantic SUVs like the Tahoe actually threaten our environment (of course), but not condescending or marginalizing our very real concerns about global warming.

Interesting that GM says it "welcomes the two-way interaction" according to the segment. Sure -- if by welcoming they mean ignoring and deleting every controversial ad of which they've become aware. For that kind of baldfaced lying, they should make it to one of Olbermann's "worst" lists.

[Edit: On a more personal note, this story did get me on the top recommended diary list at Dailykos, with 185 comments. In some ways, that's even more exciting and meaningful than Nightline's call, and also a first. Also, Norman over at onegoodmove.org sent me this Quicktime video link to the Nightline segment. ]

Or just view the segment below:

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Watch Nightline tonight - they contacted me!

Holy Cannoli.

I just got off the phone with one of ABC 's Nightline producers who sent me an email message at Youtube.com about our Chevy Tahoe culture jamming collective project. Apparently, they're doing a segment tonight - Tuesday, April 5 - on the blogosphere's response to Chevy's "project."

And since I put the ads up, she wanted more info on how it all came to pass.

I'll be tuning in to see their take on it. Maybe they'll have a GM marketing rep on there, too. Wonder if my wee blog made it to the big time?

Heir apparent (Olberporn of the Week)

After last night's musings on the state of truth in journalism (even in op-ed, no less) the obvious error became clear: I'd been remiss in not naming names, as it were, of media members for whom truth matters more than A-List DC political cocktail party invites.

Particularly, I'd forgotten one man whose quest for truth is both unassailable and entrenched in snark. Yes, it's Countdown's Keith Olbermann (8 pm EST on MSNBC).

If you don't believe he's a peerless, unrepentant feather-ruffler , check out Howie Kurtz' ragging biased anti-Olberman pap in the WaPo. Not enough to have half of CNN and all of Fox News doing Bush's bidding; Kurtz is upset that, in his words, Olbermann's "disrespecting" Bush. Because anyone caught trying to tell unpleasant truths is automatically painted with the same broad "anti-Bush" brushstrokes. Nevermind that Kurtz' daily writing proves beyond measure just how gratuitously Bush boot-licking saliva drips throughout what should be clear-eyed analysis. Instead, let's smear the one person who doesn't march in lockstep.

Having said all this, I am but saran wrap when viewed through the prism of your amazingly astute minds. So yes, admittedly, this really is nothing more than a thinly-veiled rationale for yet another picture of Keith. (One that, if clicked, doubles in size and really brings out his eyes. Just sayin'.)

My defense for such schoolgirl crush adoration? He'd be nowhere near as hot were he not so intelligent, urbane, snarky and fearless in cutting through propaganda. But since he is all those things. . . Countdown With Keith Olbermann beat CNN's Paula Zahn Now in the key 25- to 54-year-old advertising demographic in the first quarter of 2006, according to Nielsen Media Research. Hence the sudden need for administration apologists in the media (O'Lielly, looking at you here) to slam him, and minor league wingnutters to start kvetching in his direction. After they're done with the misogynistic excoriation of Jill Carroll, that is.

Okay - wanton obligatory Olbermann swooning moment's over. More Olberporn of the Week coming in 7 days or so. We now resume our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

Monday, April 03, 2006

'If you have to go, the way you go is a big deal'

So says Art Buchwald, one of my favorite writers and grandfathers of political snark. He's talking of death, of course, because he is dying. But he's doing it in style; skip the dialysis, bring on the Mickey Dees.

He's in a select circle. One that, oddly enough, is also dying: the old school newsie commentator. Royko, Ivins, Buchwald, and to a lesser extent, Vidal and Vonnegut, all cynical idealists, dedicated their lives to chronicling failures and foibles of both the influential and everyday American. All of them heroes of my youth, voices unique, unbound and unafraid. One could argue that folks like Anna Quindlen, Maureen Dowd and even Krugman are their heirs apparent, but I wouldn't.

Don't get me wrong: Quindlen's One True Thing is so forthright and poignant that I couldn't dare read it today, and could barely stay dry-eyed the first three times. Dowd eviscerates with words so barbed they might be outlawed in some countries. And Krugman is a master, though predominantly in economics.

But always, always, these writers bring gloves before the duel, dressed in their Sunday finery and seeming to share a wink before the big show.

Like the WWF of writing, or, unfortunately, today's Senate: you sense, somewhere deep down inside, the animosity cloaks camaradarie and it's really all just a big fakeout. Contrast that with Royko, scrapping for every bit of work, gouging into the sides of Chicago's politicos like an oversized burr. He might've hit the bigtime, but he wasn't one to hobnob with the bigwigs.

No nicknames for him (unlike Dowd's pet names from both Presidents Bush). No quarter, either. Curmudgeonly, sometimes downright nasty, Royko refused to work for magnate Rupert Murdoch. "No self-respecting fish would be wrapped in a Murdoch paper," he said, leaving to write for the Chicago Tribune after Murdoch bought The Sun-Times.

Born later than Vonnegut and Buchwald, Royko was too young to enlist in WWII. But he shared with those two veterans the same literary fearlessness and straight-shooting nature. Oddly enough, their female counterpart, Molly Ivins, is neither really of their era nor from an early life of hardscrabble existence. Yet Ivins shares their infectous love of serious writing dipped in humor and the confrontational audacity necessary to bring the high and mighty down a few notches.

I often wonder what separates these laureates of the newspaper era from their successors, just as overall subsequent generations are removed from the Greatest Generation. Were the ethics that different then? Have the rules changed, and are politesse, elbow-rubbing and social climbing more important than getting the story right? Tiny thread, yes, but a connection runs through them that's lacking in our present world. Ever the cynical idealist, I half-believe that locating, underscoring and somehow eliminating those differences will be enough to reanimate and focus a club that's now more exclusive and exclusionary than illuminating and expansive. The cynical part of me knows at the same time it's impossible. We'll see no more of their ilk, for whatever reasons. Certainly there are plenty, most having to do with keeping a paycheck and career.

As Art Buchwald prepares to meet death with the same irascible affection he embraced both his life and his calling, we're not just ruminating on the loss of this amazingly talented and dedicated writer, but the impending demise of his chosen field.

Would that his literary scions not go so gently into that night.

The mundane and madcap Monday stuff

1. Okay, I've got a Tahoe commercial hangover, but here are two that didn't get deleted yet. My other favorites did. Why? Because people uploaded them to the contest, rather than just creating a commercial, sending themselves the email, and flying under the radar.

Getaway Tahoe

Flowers, Concrete, Major Silliness

Finally, the "Chevy Carnival" - a whole bunch of linked ads at totaltactics.org

Chevy Carnival

2. This morning I made coffee...and just discovered there weren't any actual coffee grounds in there. Hot water. Yum. How very Monday; not only did I forget to add coffee, but it took until 3 pm to notice?!? I. am. Dunce.

3. I forgot to thank my friend last night for listening. This blog is pretty scattered, but that's mostly because I can only get so close to some realities, and only so frequently. But after 30 years (!!?!?!) of being friends, you know better.
Thank you so much - especially for the suggestion that for once, it's actually beneficial to be someone who lives without thinking about tomorrow.
"...Hanging white-knuckled from the tilt-a-whirl..."

4. Confession time...I load and refresh this weird "secrets" website far too much.

It's compelling! It's twisted! It's...a bunch of anonymous secrets posted by people, and I can't look away sometimes. Not sure what it speaks to, particularly - maybe the psychological equivalent of watching a car wreck?

5. Speaking of wrecks, there's little good news on any front: just where were Senate Democrats during Feingold's censure hearing last week? Vichy Dems, one and all. We'll have better luck waiting for Lancelot to save us after finding The Holy Grail.

Oh, no: Say it ain't so, Scottbot!

CNN reports Baghdad Scotty McLellan is the next rat jumping from the SS White House, according to GOP insiders (the very same people who will try and distance themselves from Bush before October '06 - if they're smart).

What will become of Scott? Will he retire to spend more time with Jeff Gannon, help his mother on her campaign, or simply run off somewhere far away to slowly be deprogrammed?

He's got a huge future at SNL, reprising Jon Lovitz' "the liar" character.

What tragedy at the American Cirque de SoLame that is the Bush Ecru House.

Who will fill Scottbot's shoes? Dan Bartlett may work; he's just as big an unflinching untruth teller. Still has a few years before the the booze and stress puff him up, too.

But I think they should just create a Scottbot from, well, a ScottBot. A McLellan hybrid, if you will - now with 30 percent less truth!

As always, he can be rebooted whenever necessary:

Reporter: So, now that you're leaving Scott, what are your plans?

ScottBot: "Yes, it's true I am leaving. Also, when a person leaves, they tend to go away. However, I reject your characterization of it as actually departing. Consider it more that I'm simply moving away from the podium, but not actually going anywhere. Just a bit of exercise."

" By the way, does anyone like Peeps? Because the President has a great new Peeps initiative, covering all colors: yellow, pink and purple Peeps. And it seems to me that some of you in the press only want to talk about the bad stuff. Never all that the President has done to help the cute little packages of Peeps. And I reject that. I reject it. And furthermore, we don't talk about ongoing goings-on, including my going."

[Repetition of "I reject that" is a sign for the Scottbot handlers to hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete several times in rapid succession, until the ScottBot resumes script.]

Poor KarateExplosions must be in abject mourning over the loss of such comedy gold. "The Danny Show" hasn't got the same ring to it. He'll need comforting.

A cartoon by Mr. Fish

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