Friday, September 23, 2005

My fellow Americans :D

Good evening. This is President Mike McKinnon, live from DC. I'll start out with Democracy Now!

Bush Vows to Stay in Iraq
In a major address delivered at the Pentagon on Thursday, President Bush said clearly that US forces would not withdraw from Iraq "on my watch, saying that would give terrorists the chance to "claim an historic victory over the United States". Bush also attacked the growing chorus of people in the US and across the world calling for the US to pull out of Iraq:
"Their position is wrong. Withdrawing our troops would make the world more dangerous and make America less safe. To leave Iraq now would be to repeat the costly mistakes of the past that led to the attacks of September the 11th, 2001".
Bush's speech comes just days ahead of what is expected to be one of the largest anti-war demonstrations in US history, planned for this Saturday. And as he spoke a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll was released showing that 55 percent of Americans believe the US should speed up withdrawal plans, while only 21 percent say the United States definitely would win the war in Iraq, while more than a third of people say they considered the war unwinnable. In his address, Bush also publicly acknowledged that more than 1,900 US soldiers had been killed in Iraq and he said that some 18,000 US troops serving in Afghanistan had not yet finished their mission.

I'm going with one item and asked C.I. too as well because Bully Boy is full of crap and with the activities this weekend, I hope this item will make all of us across the nation push that much harder this weekend to be heard.

I'm encouraging every American to speak out. My fellow Americans, I've crowned myself the president this weekend since I am in D.C. and Bully Boy has flown the coop. :D Rebecca and I have been joking about that today. She says she is the president now.

Bully Boy didn't go to Texas to do anything. He "cut and run" to get the hell away from the protests. And, as we discussed this afternoon, to provide photo-ops to circumvent the stories of the press coverage.

It's so cool to visit DC. Ma was always coming because she wanted to take part but Dad wasn't sure about coming because my sister had a presentation in her class (she's in high school) so she couldn't miss that and Dad wasn't sure he could get time off. But Jess's parents were coming and they talked to him and Dad figured that we could try counting on my older bro to watch my sister this weekend. He's house sitting and I told him, "Stay out of my room!" :D

Nina's here too which is so cool. I'm glad I'm the boyfriend to such a politically smart woman.

So early this morning, we drove to Jess's parents and then got in the car with them because Jess's Pop knows all the backroads and short cuts. We were on the road at like 2 and it was deserted. Like a ghost town most of the way.

Jess's folks are really cool. And good for Dad, like him Jess's mother smokes. So Jess's father did stop so they could have their smoke breaks. That gave the rest of us time to stretch our legs and to hear about wherever we are at that minute. Jess told me that summer vacations were big with his family and all but they've gone everywhere in the country.

We were headed for the place that we're all staying but Ma asked if we could see a DC site or two on the way and Jess's Pop was all like 'Can we? Here comes the tour!"

That was so great. I was taking pictures and just looking around. I really didn't know what to expect of DC. On TV you see the White House and a few other things but that's about it. The two biggest surprises for me was how heavily armed and guarded everything was and how much poverty is in D.C. I wonder what visitors to this country think when they see this? You look around and it's like seeing the "American crumble" before your eyes.

We got there and everyone was cool except Rebecca who greets us with, "Where have you been!" :D She'd hired some people to come in and cook Chinese for lunch as a gift for C.I. (See our interview from Wednesday.)

We have a party to go to tonight that Ava's parents got us invited to. So this is more of the fun day for a lot of us. C.I. ate lunch and ran but hopefully will attend the party too.

So who's here?

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, Jess, Ty and Jim plus Jim's Dad and Jess's parents, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man and she's brought her kids, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), and C.I. of The Common Ills. Kat's not up to going to the party so she's told Betty she'll watch her kids. Betty never gets a night out because she spends her evening with her kids. Everybody's pushing Betty to go and Jess's folks and my folks are even saying, "If you don't go, we're not going."

I hope to do another entry later but I'll be posting either Saturday or Sunday. Hope you're taking part in a protest and get the word out.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pentagon, Dems, the interview from yesterday

Good evening. We'll kick things off with Democracy Now!

More Dems Come Out Against Roberts
The battle continues over the confirmation of President Bush's nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, as more prominent Democrats have made their voting intentions public ahead of today's vote. Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy say they will vote against Roberts, while Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy says he will support Roberts. Earlier this week, Minority Leader Harry Reid said he would vote no. Meanwhile, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter, is calling on President Bush to delay nominating a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Specter said he talked to Justice O'Connor about staying on the high court and that "She's prepared to do that'' through the court's term ending in June. But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he urged Bush to submit a name to the Senate right away.

I don't know what to think on that. I was excited but Elaine said that you're looking at people realizing that funding could diminish, the contributions to their campaigns. And that goes with something C.I. wrote about how there's not going to be a filibuster so it's not like the Dems are sticking together.

GAO: Pentagon Has No Idea How Much War Costs
A new report from the Government Accountability Office has found that the Pentagon has no accurate knowledge of the cost of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or the so-called war on terror. The GAO says this limits Congress's ability to oversee the war spending. The Defense Department has reported spending $191 billion since the September 11th attacks. The report says , "Neither DOD nor Congress can reliably know how much the war is costing and details of how appropriated funds are being spent."

No idea of how much it costs in dollars or lives.

Yesterday, I did a interview with Rebecca. I got a lot of feedback on that. A lot was positive but there were some who felt that portions should have been edited out due to the fact that if C.I. wanted to discuss something, it should come from C.I. The fact that this was an issue in the past, that was noted at The Third Estate Sunday Review, was also raised.

I'm not sure on whether it was right to include it or not. I haven't been able to get a hold of C.I. I did talk to Elaine and bring it up with her. Her feelings were that Rebecca was speaking as a friend and the call on to post it as I did could have gone either way. She said C.I. will not comment on it because if C.I. comments on one thing, then it becomes, "Okay you said this about this, so why not also answer this?" Elaine said those are Rebecca's impressions and while they are Rebecca speaking truthfully of her own impressions, they may or may not be someone else's impressions. She suggested I include this at the site and said that by doing so, there is no damage done. (C.I. has pointed this out in other terms at The Common Ills when members have e-mailed. C.I. has said those are Rebecca's impressions and she's entitled to them. Which echoes a point Rebecca made when I phoned her this afternoon. She says it should be pretty clear that those are her opinions but if it's not to note that. (And she said that before I had spoken to Elaine.)

I don't think I've hurt C.I.'s feelings. (And obviously, Elaine can't speak for that.) But if I have, I'll apologize face to face when I get to DC tomorrow. One Common Ills member is very upset with me and I told Elaine about that and offered that I could take the post down but she said if it was taken down, it would turn it into an issue.

To those of you who were upset by it, I am sorry. I certainly don't intend to upset my friends and fellow community members. The one who is most upset said that the interview would be fine in the gina & krista round-robin but not the sort of thing that should be up at a site where anyone could visit. Two people wondered if Betty was okay with what was posted. From Rebecca, Betty's okay with it and thought Rebecca said some really nice stuff about her. Betty will be in D.C. too and I'll check with her as well.

I thought it was just sharing some nice recollections and some views on people. I understand though that some people may be offended. If I've offended anybody who comes here, I'm sorry.

The one most upset asked what I could have left out since I basically put everything in. I edited out some remarks about Ava that were kind to Ava but that I knew were not remarks that she would want up here. (She's shared them at the gina & krista round-robin.) I also edited out comments on Dona and Jess just because I was tired of typing.

I'm kind of down because even with Rebecca and Elaine both saying C.I.'s not going to be hurt or mad, I do worry about that because C.I.'s done a lot for the community and a lot for me. But regardless of C.I., I realize that a few members are upset with me and I'll say I'm sorry to those who are mad.

As soon as I posted this, my cell phone went off. It was C.I. so I'm coming back in here and adding this. C.I. says there's no hurt or anger and that Rebecca didn't do anything wrong and I didn't do anything wrong. I'm glad that C.I. feels that way but in the future I will remember how some readers feel and I'll try to watch out for doing anything that upsets them. (Because a few of them are upset.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Interview with Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude

How's everyone's night going? The interview with Rebecca took a long time. The full thing won't be up here because I'm not a speed typist. (I'm almost hunt and peck. And because she's in lower case, I'll be lazy and not put me in italics or bold face.) Before we get to that, we'll note these two items from Democracy Now!

Army to Begin Recruiting High School Dropouts
In military news - the Army has opened up a new pool of potential military recruits: high school drop-outs. Under a plan announced Tuesday, the Army can begin enlisting recruits without a high school diploma if they agree to take the GED test. The military is offering to pay for the recruits to attend a GED test preparation class and to cover the cost of taking the GED exam. This policy change comes as the Army, National Guard and Army Reserve are all on pace to fall short of its annual recruiting goals.

Standards have to be lowered to meet goals. We've gone from "Join the Army and get a college education" to join the military and get your GED which really is reflective of the Bully Boy economy.

U.S. Invests Over $1B to Upgrade Middle East Bases
This comes as the U.S. is investing over one billion dollars in major upgrades at military bases in Afghanistan and the region. The New York Times reports the U.S. is spending over $100 million at the Bagram Air Base near Kabul to build permanent electrical, water and sewer systems. In addition the U.S. is replacing the air base's runway and building a hospital and housing for 1,000 service members. In Iraq, the military is also spending over $100 million to upgrade its airfield near Balad, north of Baghdad. And in Qatar, the U.S. is building a 100,000-square-foot fortified state-of-the-art regional air operations center.

Get that we ain't going nowhere? We're going to be there for decades. Iraq, the new American colony. Unless people can stop saying "fine tune" and wise up.

It's Wednesday so that means interview. And lucky for us, we've got Rebecca tonight. Rebecca, upper or lower case, do you have a prefrence?

actually, lower please.

That's how you write at your site.

yes, i apparrently invented lower case. copyrighted it. pay it forward e.e. cummings and bell hooks.

You're actually a fan of both of them and a big poetry reader. I don't think most people know that about you.

(laughing) yes, to that non question.

Who is your favorite poet?

i wish it was that easy. a list of 'my favorite' would include about a hundred names.

The title of your site is Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. How did you come up with the title?

i wanted something that said 'this is what you're getting.' i could be wrong but i think i came up with the title on the phone with c.i. how did that go with you?

I was laughing and joking and just changing my template choice about every ten seconds. I know C.I. must have wanted to kill me. Have you seen Flirting With Disaster?

my favorite mary tyler moore performance. i know the film by heart.

So the part where Lonnie, Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda's son, accidentally doses the FBI agent with the acid?


So Lily's going to be his guide and talk him, the FBI agent, through it and all. So she tells him to pick his favorite dog. Then she's trying to help him and he wants to change his pick. So she lets him change it once. Then he keeps wanting to change it again and again. I felt like C.I. was thinking like Lily in that movie. How did you pick your template?

i think i only picked once. in fact, i know that was my first and only choice. i liked the color, the red and the pink.

Because pink is for girls?

because of the passion of the colors. and the inner nature of my thoughts. do i need to spell it out?

No. I think I got it. So let's clear this up, who started the first spin-off? You or The Third Estate Sunday Review?

me. i started on the 11th of january and the third estate sunday review started on january 16th. it's five days difference, no big deal. a winding road started up before them as well.
i think it was two or three days before.

Folding Star shut down his site right around the time I started.

july 4th. you started in june.

June 20th.I had C.I. on the phone the whole time. That first entry was rough. Which entries are you proudest of and which aren't you?

i really don't think in those terms. they're up there, all of them. maybe they add to a total picture. i don't spend a great deal of time thinking 'i should have' or 'i could have.' i think the overall picture is most important and i'm pleased with the overall picture.

Last night you wrote something that really had me laughing. The whole thing about Senator Bill Frist.


Yeah that was funny. When you write something what are your goals? Are you trying to be funny? Trying to be serious.

just trying to do whatever it is i feel at the time i'm writing.

You're practically Kat's twin! You're best friends, for many years with both C.I. and Elaine. What's that like?

here's the big secret there, they're each in awe of the other. you get used to hearing 'well you know elaine says' or 'well you know c.i. says' --

But you call C.I. by the real name.


You wrote recently about a TV actor you represented.

for one project. i was burning out doing corp p.r. and needed a change so for a brief time, i did some entertainment work in los angeles.

Do you miss doing that stuff?

not at all. but it is helpful when i'm watching a news cycle. i can look and say 'oh there's the message. they're doing a soft sell but here is the key point.' i think it makes me a little more cynical which, in these times, is probably for the best.

Of the three, are you the most cynical?

yes. elaine's . . . i don't know. i guess i'm the most cynical, c.i.'s the most forgiving and elaine's the most persistant. i'm not sure that's the word for it. i guess i would say she's the most visionary, how's that?

I can see that. When you asked Elaine to fill in for you while you were on vacation, were you hoping she'd catch the blogging bug and start her own site?

i was hoping she'd see it wasn't difficult and that she'd enjoy it. after that, i was hoping it would lead her to start her own site. i think she has so much to offer.

I do too. I've been asking her to spotlight Democracy Now! with me and C.I. stepped in to say, nicely, it is her site. (Laughing) I kind of forgot that, I guess.

well she likes doing that with you but she also has topics she wants to write about and sometimes it may be something other than democracy now! so that can sort of box a person in.
but i thought you two decided she'd note something but she was welcome to discuss other things.

Right. But that was her offer. I don't want it to seem like I strong armed her. She's an Amy Goodman fan too.

i think everyone in the community is. amy goodman and juan gonzalez bust their butts to bring you reality. you can't say that about a lot of televised news programs.

Do you prefer to watch or listen?

i always watch on the dish. i think it's great that there are so many options. you can listen on radio or watch on tv or listen or watch online or you can read online. the show's reach is tremendous and we need to be sure people know about it because we'd all be a lot smarter, and the country stronger, if we all watched.

How did you get turned on to Democracy Now!?

well, i was going through a difficult patch, with my abortion, the break up of my marriage, and i'm sure elaine and c.i. had both talked up the program to me but it wasn't until c.i. started up the common ills and i started seeing the break down that i really got interested. i watch every day. when i was on vacation, i depended on the common ills to provide me with choices that, if i had time, i'd follow up on.

How weird was it to read The Common Ills and know the person writing it?

it was . . . it wasn't weird. there are times when i wish c.i. would go theoretical because that's a strong point. but it's a plain spoken site and it works like that. it's a dinner table. that's the analogy c.i.'s long used and it's true. people come in with their own covered dishes and we all gather around to share. you know that in february 2003, c.i. started going around speaking to students and student groups about the invasion and i think all that time shows in the site because it is effective. it reaches you. it's a common sense site like it set out to be and it's our community's flagship.

I don't think C.I. likes it when we call it that.

i don't think c.i. likes that level of responsibility. when the community was smaller, e-mails were like discussions because c.i. doesn't just deliver a speech, it's more of a, and gina will love this, oprah experience where people are sharing. when the site became too much in terms of e-mails and there wasn't any way to respond to each person with a personal reply, c.i. felt it lost something.

But it getting bigger and bigger just means that more and more people are being exposed to it, right?

which is the trade off. and that's great. but if it weren't for the gina & krista round-robin, i don't know that c.i. would still be doing the common ills. gina and krista do a great job in every way but what they've really done is bind the community tighter. and that's why c.i. was thrilled when they started doing it and why c.i. continues to make time for anything they need. which isn't intended as an insult to them but last week, c.i. participated in every roundtable they had on the roberts hearings and c.i. was in d.c., tired beyond belief and giving two hours for those roundtables after a full day. the round-robin really matters to the community but it especially matters to c.i.

Are you excited that two more sites may be starting soon?

i'm very excited by that. the whole point of the community is more voices not less. i think we all bring on our perspectives and reach our own audiences. one thing i would like to see us do, is get organized more. c.i.'s doing multiple posts a day, but the rest of us aren't. i think we should figure out a way, like cedric and elaine did, to help each other out. you and i blog mondays through friday. betty when she can and it's twice a week. with betty, there shouldn't be a schedule because she's got enough demands on her and she really likes to write and rewrite and rewrite again. she's not feeling that her chapters lately are any good because she feels that they are rushed.

I didn't know that about Betty. I love her site.

i don't think she'll mind my sharing this. but when we interviewed maria for the third estate sunday review, maria made a point betty had made which was her kids are too young for her to be dating, they need her. and that's what betty wanted to talk to maria about after because she wanted feedback on whether her site was taking too much time away.

I didn't know that. I know she has a lot of pressures and that she works with all of us Saturday once her kids are settled in.

i think that even if she did have to give up her own site, she'd still work with everyone on the third estate sunday review. she enjoys that and usually the kids are about to go to sleep or already asleep so it's not a problem but in terms of her own site, it can be a problem for her because she wants an entry to be as perfect as possible and she has so little time.

So what do you suggest?

what c.i.'s already telling the 2 thinking about starting, it doesn't have to be every day and there are no rules. write about what you want to write about. folding star's giving up a winding road was a real wake up call on a lot of levels.

How so?

well you know this so i know your question is for your readers. first, you've got the shock and the fact that we all had to face that this wouldn't last forever. when folding star quit it demonstrated that any of us could quit at any time. it drove it home. second, we had to realize and really address the pressures because we were doing that to a degree but we're more open about that now. third, the importance for us, the core anyway, to come together for the third estate sunday review. that is a venting process for us. if someone's gone off in an e-mail, some whiner from the new york times, c.i. or ava or jess since they're all handling the public e-mail account for the common ills now, can talk about that. i love ava's attitude which is 'they're insane!' usually. you know c.i. and you know the 'in fairness.' i'll never forget the big whine fest 1 writer had over c.i. mispelling their name and c.i. didn't mispell it. c.i. was quoting a site, it was mispelled in a quote. that was a rough weekend as you remember and c.i. was already walking on egg shells. it wasn't a good week health wise for c.i. and it wasn't a good week for a number of other reasons. which is why we all go hunting for the mispelling the next day and when we found it and it was a quote from another site i was so pissed.

Jim was too.

right, the whiner didn't tell c.i. where it was mispelled so we all had to go through the site. and then we find it, i think jim found it, and it's mispelled in a quote, the person c.i.'s quoting from mispelled it in their post. and like jim said, you know that reporter didn't fire off an e-mail to the blogger that mispelled it. it's easy to do a number on c.i. because c.i. will try to be fair. and c.i. doesn't operate under the "i am always right!" principle.

I think that's part of why the community is so behind C.I. There's not this "I'm so much better than you mere readers" that you find at some sites.

right. a member can have as much impact as c.i. in fact a member can have more. c.i. postpones things all the time because a member or a group will be really bothered about something. the community has seen this. they expect c.i. to speak for everyone because c.i. will.
it's a positive effect of the 'in fairness" attitude. if someone's got a problem, if they feel they've been wronged by the times or the press, c.i. will address it.

Which is why issues come up at The Common Ills that don't come up elsewhere.

right. i mean you've got almost 1500, i think, getting the round-robin and there are a few members who still haven't signed up for that. but let's just say 1500, okay? that's 1500 and they all have their own issues and they'll be addressed. it might take a month or several months but people know that their issues do matter and that they matter. that's why it's a community. when john h. johnson's death was a non-event in most of the mainstream press, it only took 1 member to raise that issue. c.i. had noted the obit in the times on john h. johnson, the member noted that and noticed that the focus was all on peter jennings and felt slighted and angry. it took that 1 e-mail for the common ills to set the bar for coverage of john h. johnson's passing. i should say set the bar outside the press because the chicago defender set the bar period. but whether it's that or the paternalistic way the times covers mexico, these are issues coming from members. c.i. won't shy from them. there may be a begging off for time reasons or to follow something that c.i. didn't notice. but that's an example of how members are the community, members are the common ills. you and i have it easy, we write what we want, about what we want. we're speaking solely for ourselves. the community expects that c.i. will speak for all of them. and that is a lot of pressure and i don't think that issue has been addressed. not in a venting session, not in one of beth's ombudsman's interviews, not anywhere.

I honestly hadn't thought of it. And I've certainly been a member e-mailing saying, "This is so wrong! You've got to talk about it!" I mean, I understand the members who e-mail feeling like "if you don't address this, no one will" because I often felt that way.

i couldn't take that kind of responsibility. that's why i said from the start, just because someone e-mails doesn't mean i reply. that's not me being snotty but i'm not the voice of the community, i don't need that kind of responsibility or obligation. i'm 1 person speaking for me.

You've said before that C.I. should take a vacation.

it won't happen. with the 2004 election, c.i. kept saying, 'okay 1 more trip' but before you know it, it's election day and c.i. never had, for instance, a weekend not on the road. i think c.i., honestly, has permantly kissed good health goodbye. and the weekend trips still continue and the job is a difficult 1 so add in the multi-entry blog and . . . well you've said it before, c.i.'s like a work horse. you really have to believe that things could better to keep up that kind of schedule.

Do you ever call during an entry?

all the time. c.i.'s attitude is that if the site interferes with life, it's a problem. so there's this balancing act that goes on and, as always with c.i., the 1st thing that goes out the window is sleep.
i know c.i. was beyond exhaustion any morning i log on and the evening post was a "link-fest."
when those are up, there's just nothing left but fumes and that's all that c.i. can give at that moment.

I'm getting now why "flagship" isn't a compliment.

it is, it's also a curse. i wouldn't want it.

Then there's the TV reviews.

right, jim started saying they were the calling card of the third estate sunday review and they are, readers love them. i get e-mails on them all the time asking me "how did ava and c.i. think up that?" or "i laughed so hard." and that's just more pressure. the thing there is ava will say when it's too much pressure. she will tell jim, if he's hyping how great this entry that they haven't written yet and have no idea what they're going to say in it, she'll tell him, "stop it, it's too much." ava will set her own boundaries. she has no problem doing that. she's also, my opinion, gotten stronger with each passing week. where before she'd let something pass, now she'll call someone on their shit. she used to try to respond to every e-mail that came in. even if someone told her off in the e-mail for the tv review, she'd try to respond nicely. but c.i. always has hope that someone can be awakened. that somehow they will be reached. but in terms of the nasty visitors who e-mail the common ills, you're starting to see c.i. adopt some of ava's attitude and i think that's a good thing.

You've been the one noted for attitude in the community.

after what i've been through, you don't care anymore about if someone's offended. you say what you feel. they'll accept it or not. and if they can't take you on your terms, you write them off.

What was the lowest point for you since you started blogging?

two of them. my ex-in-laws insisting at the last minute that i couldn't post the details of my abortion and that's all i'll say on that. the other thing was the vile attack on c.i. which i think continues but we're all supposed to act like it doesn't. when some 1's mocked someone else for having cancer, they've crossed a line. when that happened, i think something unforgiveable happened. but if you asked c.i., and you know this, as much as it hurt -- and it really hurt --
there would be an attitude of 'well maybe some day it can be put behind.' which is why we don't comment on it anymore because c.i. really thinks that someone like that can turn a corner and doesn't want to drive them off onto the wrong path.

There's so much I want to say on that but we're basically under orders, from C.I., not to discuss the topic at all.

i know. and i know i broke it but i kept it vague. the thing is, if it had been done to me or anyone in the community, c.i. wouldn't play an "in fairness" on it. we need to change the subject because i'm already going to catch hell from c.i. for even mentioning it.

Okay, well where do you stand on the Times?

like a lot of members, my attitude is if it's stayed with, if there's nothing to a day's edition, just treat it in kind. sunday's entry was popular with members, where we treated the paper like the tabloid and warmed over, rehashed news it was. i know some visitors were offended. the community exists for members. if you want a times breakdown so you don't have to spend the money for a copy, you need to go somewhere else is my attitude.

If C.I. took in a vacation, would you be willing to fill in?

i'd be willing but it wouldn't happen and i'd be the last 1 asked because i'd be blunt and use non-work-safe language. i know c.i. did toy with the idea of getting folding star to do some entries for this weekend. to be sure that there would be content. i don't know if the offer was made to folding star but i'm betting it was hinted at. my guess is not too clearly because i'm sure folding star would be willing to do entries to help out. but d.c. was the test run and the entries will be there, they'll just be dictated over a phone when there's not time to sit down, boot up a laptop and do type them out.

What is the funniest moment you've ever had with Elaine and C.I.?

too many to name. but i'll pick this one. i wasn't there. elaine's calling me from her cell phone and she's with c.i., this was 2002 and she's laughing so hard i can't understand her. i'm doing the "what? what?" portion of the dialogue and finally she's telling me that cheney's limo just drove by in the procession and that c.i. flipped off cheney. i couldn't stop laughing because i can picture it. my only regret was not being there to see it. that happens a lot, actually. people think we're always hanging out. i did visit for the surgery. but since then, this may be the first time i'll be seeing c.i. face to face. this weekend in d.c. i see elaine more often. i'm also, beef here, really tired of people we've known forever complaining that c.i.'s not there to take their every phone call or hold their hand through every crisis. i told off a mutual friend last week who called to say how awful it was while i was on vacation because 'there's just no counting on c.i. these days' and i mean c.i.'s done a lot to encourage that, always being there for someone's crisis whether it's real or just perceived. but the current schedule has meant c.i. has had to stop a lot of that hand holding. like with a mutual 'friend' who was missing a deadline and trying to turn a simple comedy into a "deep" one by suddenly tacking on a combat story to it. that writer wanted c.i. to walk them through the script. and let's be really honest, that writer is a hideous writer. c.i. salvaged the previous script by that writer. c.i. went through and rewrote every scene, created real characters and not just talking heads. and the person didn't put c.i.'s name on it or offer any money. if c.i. had wanted to, it could have gone to arbitration and that person might have just gotten a "story by" credit because c.i. did a top to bottom rewrite on that thing. in 1 weekend.
and here was the lazy pothead coming back saying 'fix it for me' and c.i. would have if the idiot hadn't decided to play rah-rah war. i despise that writer and have for years because i have heard c.i. and seen c.i. sit there and walk the person through script after script. 'it's too on the nose.' 'you're starting the scene too late.' 'all the characters speak exactly the same.' and this person, who i haven't considered a friend in years, thinks a christmas card each year is thanks enough? if they go out to eat, which they haven't in over 2 years, c.i.'s picking up the tab. this person isn't just a bad writer, this person is a total user. that's been the good thing about the crazy schedule, it's forced c.i. to cut out a lot of users because there is just not time.

Does Elaine have similar problems?

no. she'll set her boundaries. elaine had to deal with her parents death very early and she'll tell you that it changed her. there is her brother, c.i., myself and probably 3 other people in her life that she'll keep in her life. any 1 else if they pull any crap, they're out. there's a song by stevie nicks that fleetwood mac recorded called "fireflies" and elaine will always say that is c.i. "to be the last to leave . . ." and i forget the rest.

I don't really know much by Stevie Nicks or Fleetwood Mac. I know "Silver Springs."

listen to "sara" sometime. hunt it down. that is c.i. i can remember a party once where c.i. left it because someone calls with a so-called emergency and c.i.'s out the door and off to see some midnight movie that they want to see. c.i. doesn't want to see it. doesn't even want to go to that area of town at midnight. next day, turns out friend in crisis didn't show. c.i. bought a ticket, went inside and the friend never showed. but c.i.'s someone that users can guilt really easy. there's a woman who's a mess and needs professional help, elaine will tell you that, and for over ten years the fat pig has insisted on meeting for lunch and never once paying. elaine will push on that. if c.i. brings up the woman, elaine will always ask 'who paid?' because that woman never pays. she can be in one of her spirals and not have any money to or she can be riding high on the hog. i don't think she even sends out a christmas card. elaine confronted her on that 1 time when the woman was in 1 of her spirals and elaine wasn't in the mood for it. she said 'you're fat and you're in a spiral so you're going to demand c.i. takes you out to eat and then you're going to boo hoo that you're fat and then you're going to start attacking c.i. for taking you out to eat and when c.i. says 'you asked to go out to eat' you're going to tell c.i. you'd have been thin for the last 10 years if c.i. didn't always take you to places with fattening foods.' and let's be honest, fatso picks out the places everytime. there is 1 type of food that is c.i.'s favorite and week after week, month after month, fatso will nix it.

What is it?

chinese. c.i. never gets to eat chinese. while we're in d.c. let's make a point to get chinese.

I'm starting to feel like maybe I'm one of the people using C.I.

no, no. you're a friend. it's a two-way street. but a lot of people who come on like friends end up being "projects." and there's not time for them now and a lot of them are having little fits because of it. i should warn you that if this goes in, all of this, you're risking a lengthy excerpt and possibly a link to this post.

Do you want me to pull anything?


Will C.I. be mad?

more embarrassed and more along the lines of "elaine's a best friend, why didn't you talk about her" or "why didn't you steer people to cedric's site?"

Cedric is great.

he is. everyone's doing a wonderful job.

Well these are topics you brought up and it's your interview so I think I'm going to leave them in.

you have my permission.

I don't want to make C.I. mad.

you won't. i'll hear about talking about fatso. i'll get the "she has a difficult life and she's not been on a date in two decades and she's this and she's that." i will add if anyone reads this and says "rebecca's making fun of fat people" that this woman is obese. this isn't pudgy or a little overweight and just as she devours every bit of food in her path, she devours every person in her path. c.i. is the last friend she has left in the world. i won't make excuses for her because she's "creative." she's a rude, nasty, mean spirited person. within 20 minutes of getting c.i. off somewhere one on one, she'll turn all of her problems into c.i.'s fault. her weight. her this, her that. her own sisters won't have anything to do with her. people don't want someone who never does anything with their life unless bills are due to turn around and blame them for all their problems but that's what fatso does. and the only sexual thrill she gets in the last 2 decades is in ripping people apart to their faces. i've told c.i. to cut her loose, elaine's said the same thing. but c.i.'s feeling is that she doesn't have anyone else. so c.i. will arrange meetings so that they're brief and that 'woops, i'm late' pops up as soon as she starts snarling. if the woman had anyone else in her life, i think she'd be cut out the way the other users have been. so if someone reads this and says 'rebecca, it's not easy to lose weight' i'm sure it's not. especially if all you do is watch tv and stuff your face. especially if your whole life, your family's never made you work or even live on your own. she's like monica on friends in the fat suit, only larger, and she's got nothing in her life. only monica was sweet. this woman is just hateful and evil.

How does someone end up friends with her?

a mutual friend of c.i.'s, the judge who gave the info for the round-robin. i think he pushed the friend off on c.i. myself. c.i. needs to find someone to push her off on now.

Well this wasn't like I expected. How about you?

i had no idea what i'd talk about. hopefully there's something in here that's interesting. i'd hate to have bored everyone.

One thing that Elaine wanted me to clear up, she said it had been bothering you, a lot of people are mad at your ex-husband.

right. they seem to think he's the reason that i didn't put up my post about my abortion. that's not true and i've said it over and over. in the round-robin, at my site. he was for posting it. i decided not to because i knew his parents would be pissed and he would bear the brunt of it. we don't hate each other, my ex and i. we get along. we can still make each other laugh. there's probably mutual attraction still. but he's a nice man and i don't want to cause him any hurt. but the idea that he is the cause is wrong. he has told me repeatedly, "becky, put it up. fuck 'em."
so who do you have next week?

I have no idea. I've been so focused on classes and getting ready for D.C.

this'll be your first time visiting d.c., right?

Yeah, I'm really excited. About seeing it, about taking part in the protests, about all of us hanging out together.

i think it will be a lot of fun.

Me too. Thank you for the interview.

thank you, mike.

Rebecca, her site is Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. If you've never visited it, you should.

not tonight. i'm doing a quick entry and relaxing.

Was this a rough interview?

an exhausting one. which isn't your fault.

Good. I'd hate to think I put you through the wringer. Last week I interviewed my buddy Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Before that, I interviewed Elaine, Jess, Ty, Dona, Jim, and Ava. Next week, who knows?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Not much due to a test tomorrow

Good evening. As usual we kick it off with Democracy Now!

UK Forces Attack Iraqi Jail To Free Two British Troops
New questions about Iraq's sovereignty are being raised after British forces attacked an Iraqi jail on Monday because they believed two detained British commandos were inside. British troops opened fire on the jail in Basra and used six armored vehicles to smash down the jail's walls as helicopter gunships flew overhead. The provincial governor of Basra described the British assault as "barbaric, savage and irresponsible." The Associated Press reported 150 prisoners escaped during the siege. As the British raided the prison, Iraqis started attacking the British vehicles with firebombs and rockets. One of the British armored fighting vehicles was set ablaze. Photos showed a British soldier on fire climbing out of the hatch and jumping to the ground, as a crowd pelted him. An Iraqi official said that the British soldiers were arrested after they had fired at an Iraqi police officer. At the time the British soldiers were undercover and dressed as Iraqis. After the prison was breached in Basra, the two soldiers were found not to be in the jail but in a nearby house. The British Army attempted to downplay the incident claiming that the men were released after negotiations. The government said it feared for the lives of the British commandos after discovering they had been handed to "militia elements". The British attack on the Iraqi jail came one day after British forces arrested three members of the Shiite Mahdi Army.

I'll end the post with a thing from C.I. done this morning explaining how The New York Timid played the above story. But right now, I'll note that this was the first item in the headlines on Democracy Now! It's too bad the paper of misrecord didn't feel it was important enough -- C.I. goes on the phone, "Apparently yet another 'trend' story on upper middle class women choosing between career and children was more important. Again."

The two were dressed as Iraqis, the two British soldiers. I asked Dad, "What do you think they were doing?" He goes, stirring up shit and making sure they weren't blamed.

Top White House Aide Arrested
In Washington, the White House's top federal procurement officer was arrested Monday on charges of making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation into his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Until last week David Safavian was the head of Procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget. He is a former official with the General Services Administration. The Justice Department accuses him of aiding an unnamed Washington D.C. lobbyist to acquire government-controlled property and that he took a golf trip to Scotland with the lobbyist. While Jack Abramoff is not mentioned by name, sources in Washington have said he is the unnamed lobbyist referenced in the criminal complaint. This marks the first criminal complaint filed against a government official in the ongoing corruption probe related to Abramoff's activities in Washington.

When Amy Goodman started that item, I knew it wasn't Karl Rove but I so wanted it to be Karl Rove! Hopefully that day is coming. If it does, I will throw a party. I bet Dad will cook out at the grill even if it's snowing.

The guy's with Bully Boy's Office of Management and Budget so he's had lots of chances to practice lying.

Remember to check out Elaine's site Like Maria Said Paz. We're doing the same two items.

Tomorrow night, we'll have an interview with Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Rebecca's really great and she's a friend and someone who dug in and helped me a lot when I started this site. She and me both talk about anything at our sites so who knows what we'll talk about tomorrow night.

I keep saying "night" if you notice. Why is that? I'll probably be late in posting because we're not doing the interview until tomorrow evening. I've got a test in the afternoon and the semester just started but I'll keep that whine limited.

Let me note this from The Common Ills and then get started studying for my test.

NYT: Narrows the frame & events in "British Army Storms Basra Jail . . ."

Two British soldiers working under cover were arrested Monday in the southern city of Basra and then freed as a British armored vehicle blasted through the wall of their jail after an angry crowd began rioting outside, an Interior Ministry official said. The official said that the soldiers were undercover officers dressed as Iraqis and that Iraqi police officers had arrested them after the men fired at a traffic police officer.
A British military spokesman in Basra confirmed that "two U.K. military personnel" had been detained early on Monday "in a shooting incident" and that troops had used an armored fighting vehicle "to gain entry" to the police station to release them. He said that more than one vehicle had been in the area and that the police inside the station had refused to obey orders from the Interior Ministry to release the men.
The incident came a day after British forces in Basra arrested three members of the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to the rebellious Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, on suspicion of terrorism.
Sabrina Tavernise's "
British Army Storms Basra Jail to Free 2 Soldiers From Arrest" from this morning's New York Times.
Some questions. Why aren't the rescued "military personnel" identified by the British government? They're rescued, surely their families would want to know. Why are British "military personnel" undercover to begin with?
Why are they identified, by their government, as "military personnel." What was their mission and should we be worried about that?
Anyone else wondering any of that? Why is the military undercover? Usually when it's "undercover," there's a 'reason' for that. As Central America in the eighties could attest.
What's not being told here?
From Terri Judd and Colin Brown's "
Under fire: British soldiers attacked in Basra:Army used tanks and helicopters to storm jail and free captured troops, say Iraqis" (from The Independent, and we noted it here last night if it looks familiar):
British troops were struggling to maintain control in Basra last night after the city exploded into bloody violence following the alleged killing of an Iraqi policeman by a British soldier.
Two British servicemen, dressed in civilian clothes, were held at Basra's main police station after the incident. Outside, rioting began as the city threatened to descend into anarchy.
The events themselves are big news in England. They're one story in the Times.
Gareth, who's read the Times article and calls it "laughable," e-mails to note Helen McCormack's "
The day that Iraqi anger exploded in the face of the British occupiers" (The Independent):
The dramatic events began to unfold just before dawn yesterday, when two British nationals were detained by Iraqi authorities. It emerged later that they were British soldiers. Dressed in plain clothes - according to some they were wearing traditional Arab dress - the two men had been driving in an unmarked car when they arrived at a checkpoint in the city.
In the confrontation that followed, shots were fired, and two Iraqi policemen were shot, one of whom later died. The Iraqi authorities blamed the men, reported to be undercover commandos, and arrested them.
The British government issues "official statements" -- from "official sources," and naturally an anonymice at that -- and the Times can't tell you what happened. But some "official sources" carry greater weight than other "official sources" apparently. Which is why you have to read
McCormack's article to come across this sort of statement:
The British military action was condemned as "barbaric, savage and irresponsible" by Mohammed al-Waili, the governor of the province. "A British force of more than 10 tanks backed by helicopters attacked the central jail and destroyed it. This is an irresponsible act," the governor said.
The governor of the province? Surely he mentions merit in the Times "official sources" loving paper of record, no? No. No, he's not fitting the narrative of this story. And while it's true that any story will have a narrative, the one imposed on this article isn't interested in reality.
A skeptic might respond, "Oh, that's The Independent. The Times doesn't care what they say."
The BBC then? Polly e-mails to note "
UK soldiers 'freed from militia:'"
Basra governor Mohammed al-Waili said more than 10 vehicles and helicopters had been used in an operation that was a "barbaric act of aggression".
Yeah, the BBC could note al-Waili's remarks. And they did. It's just in this country that we need to coat half-realities in sugar for them to go down easy.
That's why you get one "fact" after another that's contradicted in reporting elsewhere. That's why you get anonymous claims and on apparent concern as to why the British officers were undercover to begin with. Why we're told, anonymously, that the tank (one) apparently rolls in due to "100 to 200 people" of "rioters." When eye witness reports (naturally not in the Times) report quite differently. A dozen or so is key to the other reporting on this incident. Then the tanks come. And it is tanks from eye witness reports, plural. And helicopters. The Times misses that.
"More than one" had been in the area, the Times tells us. They don't even use the term "tanks." "Armored vehicle" and "armored fighting vehicle" are popular with the Times today.
To read the Times narrative, two British troops were taken to a jail after being stopped at a check point and reportedly fighting, once in the jail, "100 to 200" people gathered, an "armored vehicle" shot through a wall, and they were released. A soldier lept from an "armored vehicle" that had flames arising from it.
The soldier, as reported elsewhere, jumped with his own uniform on fire. (BBC reports soldiers,
one is visible in their photo.) (The same BBC report also reports two tanks "set alight in clashes.") Reports outside the Times have the number of people estimated as a dozen more or less until the tanks and helicopters rolled in.
Basra has not been "subdued." (See
earlier entry this morning.)
The incident, though you wouldn't know it from the Times, is a big topic in England. And, again, though you wouldn't know it from the Times happy talk version of the incident, it's leading to public comments from "official sources." From
the BBC:
But Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said: "It is hard to see how relations between the British military and the civilian Iraqi authorities in Basra will ever be the same again.
"This is bound to be seen as a humiliation by many Iraqis - something the insurgents will use to their advantage."
From The Independent:
Calling for Mr Blair to set an exit date, Labour MPs said the scenes from Basra had echoes of the killing of two British soldiers who were murdered by a mob in Northern Ireland during the Troubles after driving into a republican funeral cort├Ęge in March 1988.
Clare Short, the former international development secretary, who resigned over the war, said: "We should negotiate an end to the occupation. They are all saying 'no' because it's such a mess we cannot leave now. But the occupation is the major problem now.
Note to UK members, I've read all the articles you sent. I'm going with the BBC and The Independent for this entry because they were the articles sent in repeatedly. But the overall view all of the articles painted were and are helpful. From Anthony Loyd's "
Army storms jail to free seized soldiers" (Times of London), we'll note the following:
The British military sent a small force to rescue the soldiers, but it was beaten off by an angry mob which set fire to two Warrior armoured fighting vehicles. One soldier was seen tumbling from the vehicle in flames, another being pelted with rocks.The second attempt last night was more organised. Before the prison was attacked nearby roads were sealed and reinforcements surrounded the police station. “We are not leaving without our men," said a British commander. The former Iraq commander, Tim Collins, said it was "not a good turn of events", but added that he believed the events did not represent a breakdown of law and order in Basra.British diplomats had demanded the release of the men, reminding the Iraqi authorities that British troops in Iraq were answerable only to British military justice. But the Government in Baghdad had appeared unable to impose its will on the authorities in Basra.
The incident presents an acute problem for Tony Blair. More than 8,000 British troops are deployed to maintain order and to train the very police that were holding the two soldiers prisoner. The coalition’s entire exit strategy depends on Iraqi security forces being able to take over.
There is a wider fear that yesterday’s developments could herald an unravelling of the fragile peace that has prevailed to date in southern Iraq. In the past two months six British soldiers and two British security guards have been killed as Islamic fundamentalists, backed by Iran, have tightened their grip on the region. There was a strong suspicion that the police in Basra were acting in collusion with followers of the populist Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who wants British and American troops out of Iraq and has been increasingly fomenting unrest in the south.
Paints a different story than does the Times of New York. It's some sort of incident that doesn't really matter all that much in the Times of New York. If it did, they'd tell us what the reaction in England was, but they don't . . .
We'll also note Abbas Fayadh, Lucy Bannerman, and Ian Bruce's "
British soldiers freed after tanks 'smashed jail wall'" (Scotland's The Herald):
TWO undercover soldiers seized by Iraqi forces were freed last night when British tanks breached their prison walls, according to reports.
About 10 Warrior armoured vehicles were said to have been involved in the operation, before troops stormed in to release the special forces servicemen.
[. . .]
Dramatic images showed one soldier scrambling out of a burning vehicle, engulfed by flames. Gun battles broke out between the two sides, leaving two civilians dead and 15 injured.
Mohammed al Waili, the governor of the province, said the British jail raid was "barbaric, savage and irresponsible". He said: "A British force of more than 10 tanks backed by helicopters attacked the central jail and destroyed it. This is an irresponsible act."
[. . .]
Sir Menzies Campbell, LibDem deputy leader, condemned the force shown by the army, warning the decision to break into the prison would fuel the insurgency. He said: "It is hard to see how relations between the British military and the civilian Iraqi authorities in Basra will ever be the same again. This is bound to be seen as a humiliation by many Iraqis, something the insurgents will use to their advantage."An operation of this kind must have gone to the highest level. I would be surprised if the prime minister had not been consulted."
[. . .]
Sources say the British soldiers, possibly members of the new Special Reconnaissance Regiment formed earlier this month to provide intelligence for SAS operations, were looking at infiltration of the city's police by the followers of the outspoken Shi'ite cleric, Moqtada al Sadr.
In all, I'm reading through over sixty different articles sent in by UK members (I'd guess it's sixty-three but don't make me swear to it, that's sixty-three different articles -- as often happens, members sometimes note an article that others have noted as well -- The Independent and the BBC were noted repeatedly, I've credited the first person who sent them in according to the time on the e-mails). And when you read the coverage from outside the New York Timid, you get a different view.
Which is why Gareth asks if this is how they honour the journalist who died? On the same day as they note his death, they're also printing a narrow, limited scope of the events that relies on select "official sources" and seems unable to find any eye witnesses at all.
That's the New York Timid. And that's the problem with the Iraq coverage. This isn't an isolated incident that just flared up (Basra) and if the Times wants to report reality, they're going to have to work a great deal harder. I'm saying the Times because we don't know what was in the original draft of this article and what was removed from it. (Note to ____, I did read your e-mail. We've noted that before but thanks for the reminder.)
Does the paper of record set out to censor the news for fear of offending Americans? Or is this part of the problem it has with covering Iraq (which combines their love of "official sources" -- even when not named -- with
'reported live from the Green Zone')?
Whatever the problem is, Basra reported in the Times today is reported differently outside the Times. In England, this is a huge issue. In the Times, it's one article, one very weak article that leaves out key points and only finds "happy talkers" to quote. Even the anonymous ones are part of Operation Happy Talk.
Is the Times? If so, the article on
Fakher Haider was a waste of time this morning. Don't tell us of the realities in Basra in one story and, in another, deny basic reality reported elsewhere (all over the place -- "reported all over the place" might be the better way to put that).
There are quotes in the Times article that aren't presented as having been told to the Times one on one. Which is probably good because those quotes pop up in most of the other reporting. What doesn't pop up in the Times is the non-Happy Talkers. Other news sources report "Happy Talker said this and ___ said this." The Times gives you one view of the events and one view of the impact. Both are limited and both fail to allow readers to grasp what actually happened and what it's impact has been.
Rod e-mails to note today's scheduled topics for
Democracy Now!:
Hugo Chavez: We broadcast the rest of our exclusive interview with the Venezuelan president. An in-studio on the state of African with 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winning Wangari Maathai, of Kenya; and human rights activist and journalist KenWiwa, of Nigeria.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Freedoms? What freedoms?

Good evening. Let's start off with news from Democracy Now!

Non-Violent Anti-War Activists Face Conspiracy Charges
Here in this country, Four anti-war activists go on trial today in Binghamton New York on federal conspiracy charges for taking part in a non-violent act of civil disobedience protesting the Iraq war. The activists - known as the Saint Patrick's Day Four - face up to six years in prison, a period of probation and $275,000 in fines. It marks the first federal conspiracy trial of antiwar protesters since the Vietnam War. On March 17, 2003, two days before the Iraq invasion, Daniel Burns, Clare Grady, Teresa Grady and Peter De Mott, were arrested inside the Army recruiting station in Lansing New York after they had poured vials of blood on the walls, windows and American flags. They were originally charged in state court with criminal mischief but the judge declared a hung jury after 9 of the 12 jurors voted for acquittal. The federal government then upped the charges to conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States "by force, intimidation and threat" as well as three lesser charges. Law Professor Bill Quigley, who is advising the four protesters, said there is concern that this case will set a precedent for nonviolent protesters across the country to be charged with federal conspiracy. To coincide with the trial, activists in Binghamton are staging A Citizens' Tribunal on Iraq.

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Tops 1900
Meanwhile the U.S. death toll since the invasion has now topped 1,900

Check out Elaine's site but I told her not to worry about writing on anything she put up from Democracy Now!

I really think I was being pushy. She didn't think so and told me I was being silly but I bet she has to wonder sometimes, "Why is this guy calling me and asking, 'What two stories do you want to do?'"

So here's what I think about the above. I think the 1900 should have been on the front page of every newspaper. The other story on the front page should have been about the trial. All those "This is about freedom!" types should be forced to look at what happens when people excercise their freedoms and are found innocent by a jury of their peers -- the government just decides to try them in a different court. It's digusting.
I am still trying to get permission from my girlfriend Nina to put her poem about my balls up here. Hopefully, she'll agree and stick with it. (She told me yes last week but got shy Sunday.)

Who's not shy?

Robert who e-mails that Zogby is full of it and "jerking off" with their "nonsense." Where are the questions on Hurrican Katrina is what Robert wants to know.

"It's not like," he writes, "you can't find polls about it online. For ever and a day since the first of September so how come Zogby can't ask the question everyone else can?"

Laura wonders if this was a "real poll or something some company asked them to poll on. What's with the Wal-Mart question? Are they asking that on every poll?"

Barry shares my buddy Tone's feelings, they both don't trust polls.

Barry writes, "Even if they did get everyone they called to take part, that's still no guarantee that the people are telling the truth."

That's some of the e-mails that came in.

How's everyone holding up in the heat? I keep waiting for a cold spell to come through and stay. It's almost the end of the month but it doesn't feel like fall is about to start.

I'm going to call it a post because I'm burning up. Hope everyone else is cool and happy.