From Pine View Farm

2005 archive

End of a Sports Era 0

ABC says good-bye to Monday Night Football.

I used to watch a lot of football. When I was growing up, my brother and I would watch the college game on ABC on Saturdays and two pro games on Sundays. On Sundays, my father would join us in watching the pros. If was before the blackout rule–there would be four games on–two NFL games and two AFL games.

We had our own teams. I rooted for the Colts back in the Unitas days, before Irsay sneaked them out of Baltimore in the dead of night. (Trivia question: What’s the difference between George Steinbrenner and Robert Irsay? Steinbrenner is smart.)

In the AFL (this was before the merger) we rooted for the Jets in the glory days of Joe Namath, whose coach had also coached Unitas with the Colts.

Later, when I lived in the Washington area, I gradually got sucked into rooting for the Redskins, once that colossal jerk, George Allen, was no longer their coach. Those were good times. We’d watch the game on television and listen to it on radio, where commentary was provided by Frank Herzog (a local sportscaster), Sam Huff, and Sonny Jurgenson. I think everyone in the Washington area turned down the television and listened to Frank, Sam, and Sonny.

Of course, given where I live now, all I hear about is the Philadelphia Eagles. Every team I have ever rooted for has had me rooting against the Eagles. Nothing has changed that, though I did manage to root for them in the last Super Bowl.

But it ain’t the same.

I don’t watch much football any more, except for the New Year’s Day college bowl games and, natch, the Super Bowl.

Too many steroids, too packaged, too machine-like, too–hmmm, not sure of the word–perfect?

In the Olde Days, players from opposing teams would help each other up after a hit, shake each other’s hands after a game, and conduct themselves in victory or defeat, on or off the field, in a sportsmanlike manner.

And, in the Olde Days, quarterbacks were smart enough to call their own plays.

It’s too mechanized and not much fun any more.


Wow! 0

It’s an effort for me to stay awake until 10:00 p. m.


The Phony War on Christmas on Radio Times 0

The guest on Radio Times today went so far as to label Bill O’Reilly’s phony war on Christmas a fraud, as opposed to an honest, though mistaken, point of view.

Here’s the description:

Is there a war on Christmas? Some conservatives think that retailers have gone too far by replacing the words “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays.” They claim that Christians are under attack by businesses and the media. ALAN WOLFE, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life joins us to talk about it.

One of the callers suggested that one reason the those rightwingers who are so worked about Christmas, evolution, and the like, are in such a state because they are suffering their own crisis of faith: that their anger, which is obviously real and deep, and their desire to have Christianity become a de facto, if not de jure Established Church, proceeds from their own fear that their faith may not be strong enough.

I don’t have a position on that, but it was certainly an interesting take on the issue.

The show is well worth a listen, if only to hear the question discussed in a civil and courteous manner.

(12/30/05–The link now points to the RealAudio archive of the show.)


Just My Luck 0

I watch little television. The screen I’m looking at right now is usually enough, except, of course, for Law and Order reruns and the occasional episode of Monk.

I decided I needed some chuckles last night, after a week of unremittingly depressing news about how the current Federal Administration is undermining the Constitution and betraying the legacy of the Founding Fathers, so I turned on the rerun of the Colbert Report that airs at 8:30 p. m.

I’ve only watched the show once.

Guess what.

It was the same episode I saw last time.


Just my luck.


Phillybits Has the Last Word on Creationism 1



Saddam’s Claims of Torture Are Lies. I Hope 0

They must be.

Americans wouldn’t . . .

But wait! What about this.

And this.

And this.

Thank you, Messrs. Bush and Cheney.

At one time, Americans could have been certain that Saddam Hussein’s claims of having been beaten were false. We would have known that, even though individual Americans might have broken under the strain of their assignments and done horrible things, the government of the United States of America would not have countenanced beatings and torture of prisoners.

Not any more.

So once again, thank you, Messrs. Bush and Cheney, thank you for subjecting the reputation of this country to doubt and shame.


Dover, Intelligent Design, and Dishonesty 0

In between taking support calls at work today, I read Judge Jones’s opinion the case of TAMMY KITZMILLER, et al. v. DOVER AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al.

It is a tightly worded opinion, written in plain language, and amply supported with precedent.

What I found most remarkable about it is the stern language the Judge reserved for the testimony of the defendants. For example:

(Cast of characters: The nine members of the Board in 2004 were Alan Bonsell, William Buckingham, Sheila Harkins, Jane Cleaver, Heather Geesey, Angie Yingling, Noel Wenrich, Jeff Brown, and Casey Brown. Bonsell and Buckingham were prime movers in the attempt to introduce Creationism into the Dover curriculum.)

Throughout the trial and in various submissions to the Court, Defendants vigorously argue that the reading of the statement is not “teaching” ID but instead is merely “making students aware of it.” In fact, one consistency among the Dover School Board members’ testimony, which was marked by selective memories and outright lies under oath, as will be discussed in more detail below, is that they did not think they needed to be knowledgeable about ID because it was not being taught to the students. (Footnote, page 46)

It is notable, and in fact incredible that Bonsell disclaimed any interest in creationism during his testimony, despite the admission by his counsel in Defendants’ opening statement that Bonsell had such an interest. (Text, page 97)

Finally, although Buckingham, Bonsell, and other defense witnesses denied the reports in the news media and contradicted the great weight of the evidence about what transpired at the June 2004 Board meetings, the record reflects that these witnesses either testified inconsistently, or lied outright under oath on several occasions, and are accordingly not credible on these points. (Text, page 105)

Model Christians.



Since the voters of Dover turned them out in the last election, I am certain Karl Rove can find a place for them in his publicity machine. They are his kind of people.

Liars and hypocrites whose actions cannot stand the light of day.

You can find the link to download the opinion here.


Digby Says It So Well 0

With a tip of the hat to Atrios.

Of course, it’s only a hypothesis, but it would account for why they are so willing to give up their privacy and their freedom (and the privacy and freedom of others) to the current Federal Administration.

. . . But there are two things about this that do chap my hide and they are related. The first is that for 40 years — and certainly for the last 25 since Reagan became president — we have had to listen to endless blathering about how the Republicans want to “get the government out of your lives.” “If someone says ‘we’re the government and we’re here to help you’ you should run.” Rugged individualist Republicans, taking care of their own, not looking to the state to solve their problems like the betwetting girly men and manly girls on the left.


9/11 changed everything. Suddenly the he-men of WalMart and the NRA leaped into Big Brother’s arms and shrieked “save me, save me! Do what ever you have to do, they’re trying to kill us all!” They now look to Daddy Government not to discipline the children, but to check under the bed for them every night, reassure them that the boogeyman won’t hurt them and then read them a nice bedtime story about spreading freedom and democracy. It turns out that underneath all this swaggering bravado, the Republicans aren’t the Daddy party — they’re the baby party.

The entire post is worthy of consideration.


Another Rejection of Administration’s Attempts To Subvert the Constitution 0

Apparently the courts are starting to disagree with the current Federal Administration’s belief that laws are made to be broken.

A U.S. appeals court, acting in the case of alleged “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla, today rejected the administration’s move to avoid another Supreme Court review of its powers to detain individuals without trial, blasting the government in unusually blunt terms for its behavior in the Padilla case.


It said the government’s actions create the appearance “that the government may be attempting to avoid” Supreme Court review in a matter of “especial national importance.”


My Little Gas Price Survey, 12/20/2005 0

I didn’t realize that it had been almost a month since I checked out gas prices. And in that month, they’ve gone up by about 10% or about 20 cents a gallon in Delaware, and about 5% in New Jersey.

The Claymont Exxon went up two cents from $2.19 to $2.21 from morning to afternoon; the Cumberland Farms also went up two cents from morning to afternoon. Prices shown are the last observed prices of the day.

Gibbstown, NJ, Valero, $2.09.

Paulsboro, NJ, Lukoil, $2.07.

Paulsboro, NJ, Exxon, $2.06.

Paulsboro, NJ, BP, $2.09.

Claymont, Del., Exxon, $2.21.

Claymont, Del., Sunoco, $2.19.

Claymont, Del., Getty, $2.17.

Claymont, Del., BP, $2.17.

Claymont, Del., Gulf (Cumberland Farms), $2.17.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.18.

Claymont, Del, Wawa, $2.17.

Holly Oak, Del, Mobil, $2.17.

Penny Hill, Del., Getty, $2.16

Penny Hill, Del, Exxon, $2.17.


No Doubt Now We’ll Hear a Bunch of Claptrap about Activist Judges (Update) 0

but the judge was not the activist.

The schoolboard that was determined to impose its religious view on the the school population, regardless of the beliefs of the students and their parents was the activist.

And “Intelligent Design” is not science. It’s faith.

It is not right for any one faith to use the power of the state to propogate its views. That is what the establishment of religion clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is all about.

The Dover Area School District’s policy on intelligent design is unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones also ruled that intelligent design is unscientific and a variation of creationism — a major setback for proponents of the intelligent design movement.

Update, 12/21/05:

Read the opinion here. It is solidly put together.


The Republican Tradition 0

From Tony Auth:

Tony Auth Cartoon, 12/20/2005


Torture in the American Concentration Camps 0

Those who think that there is any practical justification for the use of torture (or “unconventional interrogation techiques”) would do well to read Vladimir Bukovsk’s article in Sunday’s Washington Post.

One nasty morning Comrade Stalin discovered that his favorite pipe was missing. Naturally, he called in his henchman, Lavrenti Beria, and instructed him to find the pipe. A few hours later, Stalin found it in his desk and called off the search. “But, Comrade Stalin,” stammered Beria, “five suspects have already confessed to stealing it.”

This joke, whispered among those who trusted each other when I was a kid in Moscow in the 1950s, is perhaps the best contribution I can make to the current argument in Washington about legislation banning torture and inhumane treatment of suspected terrorists captured abroad. Now that President Bush has made a public show of endorsing Sen. John McCain’s amendment, it would seem that the debate is ending. But that the debate occurred at all, and that prominent figures are willing to entertain the idea, is perplexing and alarming to me. I have seen what happens to a society that becomes enamored of such methods in its quest for greater security; it takes more than words and political compromise to beat back the impulse.

The fascination of the current Federal Administration with torture is almost pornorgraphic.


My Letter to My Elected Representatives Incongruously Assembled 0

It goes in the mail tomorrow:

I am very concerned that the current Federal Administration does not recognize the principles on which this country was founded—that our government would be a government of laws, not of men.

Their willingness to flout the law is truly frightening.

I ask you to please hold them accountable to the Constitution of the United States.

Thank you.

By the way, I haven’t gotten a response to this letter yet.


Plus ca change, plus la meme chose 0

When I was younger, so much younger than today, the “natural look” for women’s hair and make-up came into style. The natural look meant, natch, that a woman spent hours trying to look not made up.

In clothing, it meant clothing that moved. (Ever watch an old episode of Perry Mason? Check one out: Della Street turns her head to say something to Perry and nothing else moves.)

Well, it’s baaaaacccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkk.

Though keeping with the tone of our times, it’s apparently now called the “nude” look. (Natural is soooooooooooo 60s, I guess.)

Here is a description of the labors involved in a lady’s preparing herself for the “nude” make-up look:

One key to the nude look is the use of blush, Engle said. Choose one that picks up the undertones in your skin. If it matches an article of clothing, that’s a plus.

Apply the blush to the apples of the cheeks, which gives you a flushed, just-finished-exercising look and relieves some of the blandness.

For eyes, green is out. Blues, pearls and lavenders are in for evening wear, but for daytime, focus on tans, browns, yellows, even peaches. Pinks should be more rosy. African American women might want to add a smudge of white shimmer just under the eyebrows. Engle said eyebrows are thicker than in years past.

Eyelashes are important. But we shouldn’t add mascara loaded with glitter – that’s so New Year’s 2005. The idea is to curl and add volumizing product for thickness. Louis Christian Wayne Roberts, a Cherry Hill salon, this month began offering eyelash extensions. They start at $150 (Editor’s note: There’s one born every minute) and last for three months.

Lips are the easiest part of all. Basically, stop using the lip-liner and high-gloss combination. Instead, think sheer and frosty and go with anything rose: That’s the number-one shade this season.

As my ex would say, “Jeez oh man!”


Christmas Shopping 0

Spent a couple of hours at the local Target today.

The parking lot was a zoo.

So were the aisles.

The only thing that was working well was check-out; Target opens a new register when any check-out line is more than three deep (it’s a company policy).

I’m convinced that you can predict how people drive from how they push their shopping carts.


Cheney’s Trip to Iraq 0

Harry Shearer pointed out on tonight’s edition of Le Show that security is Iraq is so good that Mr. Cheney arrived with no warning (not even to the Prime Minister of the Iraq government) and travelled in a convoy of eight Apache helicopters.


Climate Change and the Gulf Stream? 0

The Philadelphia Inquirer starts a three-part series on the Gulf Stream today.

The first installment is fascinating and has me looking forward to the rest:

Hundreds of miles from any land, the waters of the North Atlantic suddenly developed an oddly deep-blue hue and turned incongruously warm.

Patches of peculiar brown seaweed rode the surface, and the ocean brewed mild, damp winds that the muscular 20-year-old could feel on his skin.

To the sailor, Benjamin Franklin, it was a puzzle, one that would baffle and bedevil him for decades.

It would take him 40 years to figure out what he had encountered back in 1726. He had crossed a moving, meandering mass of warm water, 300 times stronger than the flow of all the rivers emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. It was a force more powerful than a million nuclear plants.

Franklin would call it “the Gulf Stream,” following the lead of generations of whalers.


Today, on the eve of the 300th anniversary of Franklin’s birth, scientists worry that the world is crossing yet another climate divide. They see disturbing evidence of change. All of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1990; after Katrina set new standards for devastation, the hurricane season that ended 19 days ago went on to exhaust the alphabet; water temperatures in the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico have been near record highs; Arctic ice is melting at alarming rates.

(Aside: I dislike statements that start with “scientists/experts/professionals say.” It implies a level of agreement among scientists/experts/professionals that may not exist and begs for elaboration. Later on in the story, the Inky does identify the scientists who figure in their coverage.)


Creationism, Intelligent Design, Whateverrrrrrrrr 2

(Why can’t I type “Whateverrrrrrrrr” the way my daughter says it?)

It’s not science.


Bill O’Reilly Doesn’t Reach That Far 0

I mentioned the Phony War on Christmas to my class yesterday–there were participants from New Jersey to North Carolina, and from the East Coast to the Mississippi Valley. I have no idea what the political leanings of any of them are.

Though I suspect that, whether they are liberal or conservative, none of them are whacko.

Most of them had never heard of it. Two of the three persons from New Jersey had–those from the “heartland” had not.

All of them were amazed at the idea that “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” could offend anyone.


When all is said and done, the great majority of Americans tend to err on the side of being reasonable. The minority that feeds on hate, fear, and lies has historically run up against that and, ultimately, been thwarted in their attempts to pervert American good will to nefarious ends.


The tension between inclusion and exclusion in American life and politics has a long history. It was superbly documented by Richard Hofstadter in Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.

What is going on now on the American political scene is nothing new. It is a waltz that our society has danced periodically for over 180 years.

Anyone who wishes to understand what is going on now would be well advised to start by reading Hofstadter’s works.