Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sustainable Architecture aka Healthy Homes

This is how homes should be built... Living Homes definitely fit my philosophy of life.

The ironic thing is that, while the houses in the videos are quite expensive, if this was how most homes were built then construction of homes in general would be much more affordable and more people would hopefully be able to own their own places. Not only that but everyone living inside would be healthier for the significant decrease or absence of synthetic chemicals and our healthcare costs (remember, it's all about the money) as a nation would drop significantly because people would suffer less from, among other things, various types of allergies and even cancer. Those FEMA trailers were really very concentrated (sick) examples of what we do to ourselves in real houses over a more protracted period.

Meanwhile, I'm regularly hit with a barrage of chemicals everyday in the form of paint fumes from renovation at work, second hand smoke outside my building and in town, exhaust from cars when I go for a walk, and pesticides in the grass I walk through...just to name a few. It's hard to know sometimes whether it's even safe to breathe.

* I did get the treadmill by the way. Not sure when they will be able to deliver it but I'm finally going to have a Nordictrack C2155. Now I just need some 3/4" plywood to build the table.

Question: If I breathe in more chemicals when I exercise than I do otherwise then is it healthier to go ahead and exercise anyway or stay inside (on my bum) with an air cleaner running?

Girl Power at School, but Not at the Office

I know a lot of people, including myself, who could learn something from this article from the New York Times.

Of course, if people like McCain another conservatives use this as an excuse to continue to not to vote for equal pay for women then they are doing a real disservice to everyone.

Healthy Delicious

We are none of us the scientist...

Do it right this time (wear the seat belt, exercise, help someone in need). Don't wish to go back to the start...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

You Name It, and Exercise Helps It

The New York Times
Published: April 29, 2008

Randi considers the Y.M.C.A. her lifeline, especially the pool. Randi weighs more than 300 pounds and has borderline diabetes, but she controls her blood sugar and keeps her bright outlook on life by swimming every day for about 45 minutes.

Randi overcame any self-consciousness about her weight for the sake of her health, and those who swim with her and share the open locker room are proud of her. If only the millions of others beset with chronic health problems recognized the inestimable value to their physical and emotional well-being of regular physical exercise.

"The single thing that comes close to a magic bullet, in terms of its strong and universal benefits, is exercise," Frank Hu, epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in the Harvard Magazine.

I have written often about the protective roles of exercise. It can lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia, osteoporosis, gallstones, diverticulitis, falls, erectile dysfunction, peripheral vascular disease and 12 kinds of cancer.

But what if you already have one of these conditions? Or an ailment like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, congestive heart failure or osteoarthritis? How can you exercise if you're always tired or in pain or have trouble breathing? Can exercise really help?

You bet it can. Marilyn Moffat, a professor of physical therapy at New York University and co-author with Carole B. Lewis of "Age-Defying Fitness" (Peachtree, 2006), conducts workshops for physical therapists around the country and abroad, demonstrating how people with chronic health problems can improve their health and quality of life by learning how to exercise safely.

Up and Moving----

"The data show that regular moderate exercise increases your ability to battle the effects of disease," Dr. Moffat said in an interview. "It has a positive effect on both physical and mental well-being. The goal is to do as much physical activity as your body lets you do, and rest when you need to rest."

In years past, doctors were afraid to let heart patients exercise. When my father had a heart attack in 1968, he was kept sedentary for six weeks. Now, heart attack patients are in bed barely half a day before they are up and moving, Dr. Moffat said.

The core of cardiac rehab is a progressive exercise program to increase the ability of the heart to pump oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood more effectively throughout the body. The outcome is better endurance, greater ability to enjoy life and decreased mortality.

The same goes for patients with congestive heart failure. "Heart failure patients as old as 91 can increase their oxygen consumption significantly," Dr. Moffat said.

Aerobic exercise lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension, and it improves peripheral circulation in people who develop cramping leg pains when they walk — a condition called intermittent claudication. The treatment for it, in fact, is to walk a little farther each day.

In people who have had transient ischemic attacks, or ministrokes, "gradually increasing exercise improves blood flow to the brain and may diminish the risk of a full-blown stroke," Dr. Moffat said. And aerobic and strength exercises have been shown to improve endurance, walking speed and the ability to perform tasks of daily living up to six years after a stroke.

As Randi knows, moderate exercise cuts the risk of developing diabetes. And for those with diabetes, exercise improves glucose tolerance — less medication is needed to control blood sugar — and reduces the risk of life-threatening complications.

Perhaps the most immediate benefits are reaped by people with joint and neuromuscular disorders. Without exercise, those at risk of osteoarthritis become crippled by stiff, deteriorated joints. But exercise that increases strength and aerobic capacity can reduce pain, depression and anxiety and improve function, balance and quality of life.

Likewise for people with rheumatoid arthritis. "The less they do, the worse things get," Dr. Moffat said. "The more their joints move, the better."

Exercise that builds gradually and protects inflamed joints can diminish pain, fatigue, morning stiffness, depression and anxiety, she said, and improve strength, walking speed and activity.

Exercise is crucial to improving function of total hip or knee replacements. But "most patients with knee replacements don't get intensive enough activity," Dr. Moffat said.

Water exercises are particularly helpful for people with multiple sclerosis, who must avoid overheating. And for those with Parkinson's, resistance training and aerobic exercise can increase their ability to function independently and improve their balance, stride length, walking speed and mood.

Resistance training, along with aerobic exercise, is especially helpful for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; it helps counter the loss of muscle mass and strength from lack of oxygen.

In the February/March issue of ACE Certified News, Natalie Digate Muth, a registered dietitian and personal trainer, emphasized the value of a good workout for people suffering from depression. Mastering a new skill increases their sense of worth, social contact improves mood, and the endorphins released during exercise improve well-being.

"Exercise is an important adjunct to pharmacological therapy, and it does not matter how severe the depression — exercise works equally well for people with moderate or severe depression," wrote Ms. Muth, who is pursuing a medical degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Feel-Good Hormones---

Healthy people may have difficulty appreciating the burdens faced by those with chronic ailments, Dr. Nancey Trevanian Tsai noted in the same issue of ACE Certified News. "Oftentimes, disease-ridden statements — like 'I'm a diabetic' — become barricades that keep clients from seeing themselves getting better," she said, and many feel "enslaved by their diseases and treatments."

But the feel-good hormones released through exercise can help sustain activity.

"With regular exercise, the body seeks to continue staying active," wrote Dr. Tsai, an assistant professor of neurosciences at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. She recommended an exercise program tailored to the person's current abilities, daily needs, medication schedule, side effects and response to treatment.

She urged trainers who work with people with chronic ailments to start slowly with easily achievable goals, build gradually on each accomplishment and focus on functional gains. Over time, a sense of accomplishment, better sleep, less pain and enhanced satisfaction with life can become further reasons to pursue physical activity.

"Even if exercise is tough to schedule," Dr. Moffat said, "you feel so much better, it's crazy not to do it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Treadmill Desk Part II

This is really catching on! I'm going to do it...I am. I'm ordering a treadmill and then I'm going to build a desk around it. All my colleagues say they want one too.

McCain comes a courtin'

According to NPR, someone wrote that Governor Palin was the presumptive GOP vice presidential candidate this morning on Wikipedia and then this information was quickly erased. I was then sure she had to be the one because it's an effective and divisive blow against the democrats. Such drama in this race. Because now the "staunch Hillary supporters" have yet another stupid excuse to abandon their party... People who say they will vote for McCain, because they couldn't vote for Hillary, clearly don't have any respect for Hillary and what she stood for whatsoever. And it would be really sexist to vote for McCain simply because he chose Palin. What ever happened to considering the issues...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Still Watching...

I may have disagreed with some of his policies but Pres. Clinton has always been an amazing speaker. "People, the world over, have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power." Powerful stuff. :-)

And I was also pleasantly surprised by how compelling Kerry's speech was. He wasn't Kucinich but he involved the audience and even did some magic to make Obama's great-uncle Payne, a WWII hero who helped liberate a Nazi death/concentration camp, appear next to Michelle Obama in the audience.

I tried to stay up to watch Biden but just didn't get enough sleep last night... :-(

Brian Schweitzer - McCain 'Has It Wrong'

One commentator noted, " This guy is great. He should have been the keynote speaker instead of Warner."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dennis Kucinich Tells It Like It Is

2008 DNC: Dennis Kucinich 'Wake Up America!'

Free Ride: John McCain and the Media

If I had the money, I think I might buy several boxes and give away copies to people around the country.
Go watch McCain come closer than ever to teling the truth, at helenwheels' blog, Just Ain't Right.

Buchanan on McCain Foreign Policy II

That the mainstream media is not eating this up is just another sure sign that there is something wrong and the only kind of fair and balanced that we will see this election season is the FOX News brand of fair and balanced...

McCain’s moral mercenary

Posted Aug 26, 2008 @ 12:03 AM

Who is Randy Scheunemann?

He is the principal foreign policy adviser to John McCain and potential successor to Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski as national security adviser to the president of the United States.

But Randy Scheunemann has another identity, another role.

He is a dual loyalist, a foreign agent whose assignment is to get America committed to spilling the blood of her sons for client regimes who have made this moral mercenary a rich man.

From January 2007 to March 2008, the McCain campaign paid Scheunemann $70,000 — pocket change compared to the $290,000 his Orion Strategies banked in those same 15 months from the Georgian regime of Mikheil Saakashvili.

What were Mikheil’s marching orders to Tbilisi’s man in Washington? Get Georgia a NATO war guarantee. Get America committed to fight Russia, if necessary, on behalf of Georgia. Scheunemann came close to succeeding.

Had he done so, U.S. soldiers and Marines from Idaho and West Virginia would be killing Russians in the Caucasus, and dying to protect Scheunemann’s client, who launched this idiotic war the night of Aug. 7. That people like Scheunemann hire themselves out to put American lives on the line for their clients is a classic corruption of American democracy.

U.S. backing for his campaign to retrieve his lost provinces is what Saakashvili paid Scheunemann to produce. But why should Americans fight Russians to force 70,000 South Ossetians back into the custody of a regime they detest? Why not let the South Ossetians decide their own future in free elections?

Not only is the folly of the Bush interventionist policy on display in the Caucasus, so, too, is its manifest incoherence.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says we have sought for 45 years to stay out of a shooting war with Russia and we are not going to get into one now. President Bush assured us there will be no U.S. military response to the Russian move into Georgia.

That is a recognition of, and a bowing to, reality — namely, that Russia’s control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and occupation of a strip of Georgia cannot be a casus belli for the United States. We may deplore it, but it cannot justify war with Russia.

If that be true, and it transparently is, what are McCain, Barack Obama, Bush, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel doing committing the United States and Germany to bringing Georgia into NATO? For that would commit us to war for a cause we have already conceded, by our paralysis, does not justify a war.

Not only did Scheunemann’s two-man lobbying firm receive $730,000 since 2001 to get Georgia a NATO war guarantee, he was paid by Romania and Latvia to do the same. And he succeeded.

This is the situation in which the interventionists have placed our country: committed to go to war for countries and causes that do not justify war, against a Russia that is re-emerging as a great power only to find NATO squatting on her doorstep.

Scheunemann was executive director of the “Committee for the Liberation of Iraq,” a propaganda front for Ahmad Chalabi and his pack of liars who deceived us into war. Now he is the neocon agent in place in McCain’s camp.

The neocons got their war with Iraq. They are pushing for war on Iran. And they are now baiting the Russian Bear.

Is this what McCain has on offer? Endless war? Why would McCain seek foreign policy counsel from the same discredited crowd that has all but destroyed the presidency of George Bush?
“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence ... a free people ought to be constantly awake,” George Washington warned in his Farewell Address. Our Founding Father was warning against the Randy Scheunemanns among us, agents hired by foreign powers to deceive Americans into fighting their wars. And none dare call it treason.

Patrick Buchanan is a columnist for Creators Syndicate.

Buchanan on McCain Foreign Policy I

Blowback from Bear Baiting

By Patrick Buchanan

Mikheil Saakashvili's decision to use the opening of the Olympic Games to cover Georgia's invasion of its breakaway province of South Ossetia must rank in stupidity with Gamal Abdel-Nasser's decision to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships.

Nasser's blunder cost him the Sinai in the Six-Day War. Saakashvili's blunder probably means permanent loss of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

After shelling and attacking what he claims is his own country, killing scores of his own Ossetian citizens and sending tens of thousands fleeing into Russia, Saakashvili's army was whipped back into Georgia in 48 hours.

Vladimir Putin took the opportunity to kick the Georgian army out of Abkhazia, as well, to bomb Tbilisi and to seize Gori, birthplace of Stalin.

Reveling in his status as an intimate of George Bush, Dick Cheney and John McCain, and America's lone democratic ally in the Caucasus, Saakashvili thought he could get away with a lightning coup and present the world with a fait accompli.

Mikheil did not reckon on the rage or resolve of the Bear.

American charges of Russian aggression ring hollow. Georgia started this fight -- Russia finished it. People who start wars don't get to decide how and when they end.

Russia's response was "disproportionate" and "brutal," wailed Bush.

True. But did we not authorize Israel to bomb Lebanon for 35 days in response to a border skirmish where several Israel soldiers were killed and two captured? Was that not many times more "disproportionate"?

Russia has invaded a sovereign country, railed Bush. But did not the United States bomb Serbia for 78 days and invade to force it to surrender a province, Kosovo, to which Serbia had a far greater historic claim than Georgia had to Abkhazia or South Ossetia, both of which prefer Moscow to Tbilisi?

Is not Western hypocrisy astonishing?

When the Soviet Union broke into 15 nations, we celebrated. When Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo broke from Serbia, we rejoiced. Why, then, the indignation when two provinces, whose peoples are ethnically separate from Georgians and who fought for their independence, should succeed in breaking away?

Are secessions and the dissolution of nations laudable only when they advance the agenda of the neocons, many of who viscerally detest Russia?

That Putin took the occasion of Saakashvili's provocative and stupid stunt to administer an extra dose of punishment is undeniable. But is not Russian anger understandable? For years the West has rubbed Russia's nose in her Cold War defeat and treated her like Weimar Germany.

When Moscow pulled the Red Army out of Europe, closed its bases in Cuba, dissolved the evil empire, let the Soviet Union break up into 15 states, and sought friendship and alliance with the United States, what did we do?

American carpetbaggers colluded with Muscovite Scalawags to loot the Russian nation. Breaking a pledge to Mikhail Gorbachev, we moved our military alliance into Eastern Europe, then onto Russia's doorstep. Six Warsaw Pact nations and three former republics of the Soviet Union are now NATO members.

Bush, Cheney and McCain have pushed to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. This would require the United States to go to war with Russia over Stalin's birthplace and who has sovereignty over the Crimean Peninsula and Sebastopol, traditional home of Russia's Black Sea fleet.

When did these become U.S. vital interests, justifying war with Russia?

The United States unilaterally abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty because our technology was superior, then planned to site anti-missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic to defend against Iranian missiles, though Iran has no ICBMs and no atomic bombs. A Russian counter-offer to have us together put an anti-missile system in Azerbaijan was rejected out of hand.

We built a Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey to cut Russia out. Then we helped dump over regimes friendly to Moscow with democratic "revolutions" in Ukraine and Georgia, and tried to repeat it in Belarus.

Americans have many fine qualities. A capacity to see ourselves as others see us is not high among them.

Imagine a world that never knew Ronald Reagan, where Europe had opted out of the Cold War after Moscow installed those SS-20 missiles east of the Elbe. And Europe had abandoned NATO, told us to go home and become subservient to Moscow.

How would we have reacted if Moscow had brought Western Europe into the Warsaw Pact, established bases in Mexico and Panama, put missile defense radars and rockets in Cuba, and joined with China to build pipelines to transfer Mexican and Venezuelan oil to Pacific ports for shipment to Asia? And cut us out? If there were Russian and Chinese advisers training Latin American armies, the way we are in the former Soviet republics, how would we react? Would we look with bemusement on such Russian behavior?

For a decade, some of us have warned about the folly of getting into Russia's space and getting into Russia's face. The chickens of democratic imperialism have now come home to roost -- in Tbilisi.

Copyright 2008, Creators Syndicate Inc.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Split 'Em Up!

You can buy any one of these buttons at the Obama shop. I'll bet there are several people who are wearing more than one of these buttons at once. I, myself, am going to wear this one...

I know, I know...I'm an alien. Shhhh. They'll never know.

Is Target Another Walmart?

So, where should we buy our clothing? I occasionally buy from Target. They have nice stuff at nice prices and they aren't Walmart. A few years ago, I actually overheard employees saying how much they enjoyed working at Target (No fooling!), something I would never even hallucinate about Walmart workers saying. But was this an anomaly and does Target really respect the rights of its employees? Is Target really any different or do they buy all their clothes from sweatshops? Is Target different from Walmart or just smaller?

From, comes the article, Target: Wal-Mart Lite, from which this quote is taken.
“The way the global garment industry is, there are so few factories that respect workers’ rights that there is no way Target gets its clothes from workplaces where workers’ rights are being respected,” said Allie Robbins, national organizer of the group United Students Against Sweatshops.

I have only just started researching this but I'll let you know what I find out about Target. I have already started learning to sew so I can make my own clothes as many of our great grandparents and maybe grandparents or even parents used to do. I can make a high quality linen skirt but haven't tried pants yet. I made the little one a cute little pink jumper with a puppy print. The question this leads to...Who is making the fabric that I buy? I simply have no interest in paying slaveholders, child kidnappers, feudal lords, or factory overseers and their bosses.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Walk While Working

I switched from being a very active teacher,

who regularly ran in the hallway to the amazement of her students, to becoming a university administrator who spends her day sitting in her office in front of a computer.

I knew immediately that this wasn't going to work very well health-wise for me. The ironic thing was that because there is more flexibility in this job I can for example actually go out and speedwalk or jog at lunchtime. There is even a fitness center on campus that faculty and staff can become a member of for less than the cost of a commercial gym membership. But what I have really had my eye on for months now is Dr. James Levine's walking workstation idea. He is a medical researcher at the Mayo Clinic and has realized the benefit of incorporating moderate levels of constant activity throughout your day. People who fidget by twiddling a pen or pacing the room for example

are generally lighter in weight than those that do not. All those little extra bits of exercise spread throughout the day really add up. Dr. Levine decided to design a workplace that would allow office workers like the people on his team to exercise while remaining productive and, in fact, perhaps even increase their productivity thanks to the extra energy boost they get from the exercise. For example, he put a track around their office (yes, on the inside) so that workers could hold walking meetings. For the same reason, he put whiteboards on the walls for jotting notes. Did you know that you burn an extra 20 calories an hour just by swapping out sitting for standing?

This is the first thing that I did in my office, I raised my computer monitor (originally onto an ugly box until the office manager came in and took pity on me, giving me a real monitor stand from the closet) and my keyboard and pushed my chair to the side so I could stand (sometimes with one knee kneeling on the chair). This was usually a pretty easy thing to get used to. As long as I had had a reasonable amount of sleep then it was easy to automatically work while standing when I came to work in the morning. (Just don't sit in the first'll be harder to get up once you do.) The most exciting idea however was to put a treadmill at each person's standing desk so they could walk at a very leisurely 1 mph while working at their computers. They even made a deal with Steelcase to create a single-unit treadmill computer desk.

But since this thing sells for some loony price ($4500? $3500? I've heard different numbers), most people (and there are now many of us) who want to do this have rigged their own versions of a computer desk at their treadmills with anything from cheap metal shelves and nuts and bolts to wooden boards and monitor stands. There are actually several people now who are selling desks that fit over your preexisting treadmill. Me, I am going to go buy a large lapdesk from Levenger and attach it to a really cheap treadmill like this one. I hear that the motors on treadmills don't like to be run at low speeds because they heat up too quickly without the fast moving air to cool them down but I can't afford anything pricey so I'll make due with this for now. There are even groups online for people who want to walking offices! I am so excited...If I can really rig this up then I'll lose 20 lbs without even thinking about it!

Check out James Levine talking about his awesome idea on Good Morning America...

Also, here is a very nice report on this phenomenon from NPR, Treadmill Desk Heats Up Office Jobs.

I'll be taking a class this fall during my lunch break so I won't be able to do that hour of exercise but I'll be exercising the rest of the day (plus walking 5 miles to work as I have also begun doing) if this works out. Wish me luck...and get moving!

P.S. Getting up and standing or even better moving around rather than sitting up on your bum is a good thing for kids as well. Kids are really less tired and more full of productive energy after being somewhat active all day... On the other hand, being physically active means they are spending their energies on this positive activity that will make them healthier rather than expending their energies in negative ways. This is another post for another day.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Where is my email? Where's my text message?

I had my email open all day yesterday and this morning and never received the message saying Obama chose Biden as VP. And I didn't get my text message either. Don't they know how important I am to this election? :-P Did you get your message? And what do you think of Biden as Obama's running mate? I'm still digesting this one.

Edit: Okay, I finally received my email message at 10:02:45am. What gives?


I have some important news that I want to make official.

I've chosen Joe Biden to be my running mate.

Joe and I will appear for the first time as running mates this afternoon in Springfield, Illinois -- the same place this campaign began more than 19 months ago.

I'm excited about hitting the campaign trail with Joe, but the two of us can't do this alone. We need your help to keep building this movement for change.

Please let Joe know that you're glad he's part of our team. Share your personal welcome note and we'll make sure he gets it:

Thanks for your support,


A High-Powered Job

If you think you might like running for president, maybe you should try this job first.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Eat My Baozi!

Ahhhhh, good food! I just thought of these and had to post a picture. Steaming hot vegetarian baozi (made right with not too much salt) is just delicious. For the uninitiated, jiaozi and baozi (素包子) are chinese dumplings or steamed buns with a yummy filling. I've made these a few times but this is a picture I pulled off of Flickr.

And at the blog, Riceagain, the author shares a successful recipe they found on Wikipedia for steamed buns.

Then, of course, there are also the Baozi from another planet.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What Kind of Man is McCain?

The British Timesonline published the following list, on Friday, of examples of McCain's sense of humor. His jokes are, at best, less than tasteful. It was his comment to his wife, quoted at the end of this article, that I think I found to be one of the most disgusting of these and revealing of what kind of person he is. Cindy is so bleeding rich...Why doesn't she leave him and support Obama? Really, why not? Anyway, here are John's "jokes"...

1. The rape joke. During his 1986 Senate campaign, he told the following joke in front of a number of journalists: “Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, 'Where is that marvelous ape?'"

2. The “Bomb Iran” song. Earlier in his presidential campaign, McCain was asked by a participant at a town hall meeting when the US “should send an air mail message to Tehran”. He replied: “Do you know that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran?” before proceeding to sing “Bomb bomb bomb” to the tune of the hit Barbara-Ann

3. The one about killing Iranians. In July, McCain was asked by reporters on the campaign trail about data showing a ten-fold increase in US exports to Iran during Bush’s presidency, with a particular rise in tobacco exports. “Maybe that’s a way of killing them,” he replied, chuckling awhile before adding: “I meant that as a joke.” Iran, understandably, was not so amused.

4. The Chelsea Clinton joke. At a Senate Republican fundraiser in 1998, when Chelsea was just 18, he took aim at both her appearance and that of the then attorney-general . "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?" he asked guests. "Because her father is Janet Reno."

5. The one about waterboarding. Despite previously condemning primary rival Rudy Giuliani for comparing the race to torture, McCain made a similar reference at a press conference with Florida governor Charlie Crist in January this year. When Crist was asked by reporters whether McCain had pressured him for his endorsement, McCain, a torture victim himself, interjected: "It was just waterboarding."

6. The other ones about waterboarding. About a month later, McCain made a very similar joke reported in the New York Times. With his presidential hopes apparently fading, a number of his staff had deserted the campaign, only to return when McCain resurrected his bid with a New Hampshire victory. There was, he jibed "a short period of waterboarding to find out what they did in their absence."

7. The Fidel joke. In February amid reports of Castro’s failing health, McCain told a town hall in Indiana, "I hope he has the opportunity to meet Karl Marx very soon."

8. The Alzheimers jibe. Shortly after President Reagan had been diagnosed with the degenerative illness, McCain made the following joke at a Republican fundraiser. “ Do you know the best thing about having Alzheimer's?” he asked. “You get to hide your own Easter eggs.”

9. The IED joke. When appearing on the admittedly satirical (and liberal-leaning) programme The Daily Show earlier this year, McCain joked that he'd brought host John Stewart an improvised explosive device as a gift from Iraq. The jibe drew criticism from relatives of US soldiers, over 1,700 of whom have been killed by IEDs.

10. The one about the French. In an interview with Fox News, McCain aimed at America’s allies in Afghanistan. "You know," he began, "the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who is still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it."

But despite his penchant for a little not-so-gentle ribbing, McCain doesn't cope very well on the receiving end. During his 1992 Senate campaign, a little inter-spousal teasing got out of control when, in front of aides and three reporters, his wife Cindy playfully twirled his hair and noted that he was thinning a little on top. His reply? "At least I don't plaster make-up on like a trollop, you c**t."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Great Fathers: Unsung Heroes

Okay, I just had to respond when I accidentally came across a really offense post attacking Obama as a father. The author seemed to believe that there are no good African-American fathers and therefore Obama must be pretending to be a good father but couldn't possibly actually be one. It wasn't the attack on Obama that bothered me so much as the assumption that there are no good African-American fathers. I know many. None of these good fathers are really celebrated in popular culture and many people (like Obama and Cosby) have been understandably vocal about the number of absent African-American fathers. Maybe it's time we started talking about those that are there and doing good with their kids...

Here's my reply to that blogger:
Fortunately, no one seems to be reading your blog because it's really sad that you, like so many, are unaware of the many African-American men who have dedicated their lives to being good fathers and role models. While people like Will Smith and Forest Whittaker are celebrity examples of wonderful fathers, and yet not really celebrated for this in the media, there have been many equally excellent fathers throughout history, despite the many challenges that African-Americans have faced as families were split apart first by slavery and then by poverty and all that comes with that. Behind many successful African-American men and women are good fathers like Charles Drew himself who had four children or his father, Richard Drew(who stressed the value of education to his children, or Lorraine Hansberry's father, Carl Hansberry (active in the black community in Chicago, including in social change work.) Neither of these fathers were absent or abusive but, on the contrary, were supportive of their children and positive role models inside the home and out. I assure you that they are not alone and if they were more celebrated in popular culture then young men now would have these men to look up to, like they can now look up to Obama as a role model. If you want to attack Obama then stick to the issues, attacking his personal life is not only low but will get you nowhere. Meanwhile, I would recommend you visit the site, to read about yet another good African-American father...and a current day one at that.

Why Spain Isn't On My List of Places to Visit

I can't go another day without mentioning this on my blog...the Spanish have continued a long history of being unapologetically racist and both their men's and women's basketball team have taken pictures of themselves making the "slit-eyed gestures" so often used to mock people of Asian heritage. As The New York Times writes,
No one involved in the advert appears to have considered it inappropriate nor contemplated the manner in which it could be interpreted in China and elsewhere.

In fact, while some members later apologized, others members of the Spanish men's basketball team have simply stated that they thought their Chinese hosts would consider it a harmless joke or even an honor.

Meanwhile, this reminded me and many others of some of the very offensive, racist, and hateful epithets screamed by Spanish soccer fans at players during games. Clearly, they have a problem and brushing this off as just a little joke gone wrong is not going to fix anything.

Eating Happy and Healthy

In the summer, everyone around me seems to be dragging out the ice cream, frozen yogurt, and other calorie-laden cold desserts. Fortunately, I'm one of those people who really doesn't crave ice cream and such to any degree. However, I do like candy and popsicles and the calories in all such food (even 100% fruit juice pops) really adds up. Some ways around this problem is making popsicles from diluted fruit juice or, if like me you really like sour stuff, then make popsicles from lemonade with extra lemon juice. According to the bottle, the organic lemon juice I purchase from Whole Foods has 0 calories so I can drink as much as I like. I used to drink a lot of lemonade but now I'm training myself to drink my water and lemon juice without sugar. I still like it. Another way to satisfy a craving for something cold and sweet is to suck on frozen fruit. Frozen cherries are a great choice. The little one (7 years old now) loves frozen blueberries. And then there are frozen strawberries, peaches, rasberries, and oodles of other choices. Check them out and enjoy the rest of your summer...I'm going to go pour a glass of cold water.

Vegetarians are Sexier

"I am Alicia Silverstone and I am a Vegetarian."

No Fish and Chips for this Brit.

I've met Forest Whitaker. He's not only an amazing actor but a really nice person and a good father...

How Bush Killed Harry Potter: An Exposé

Warner Bros' film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was originally scheduled to be released this November. The film was shot and edited and the studio released a couple of trailers, one a 15-second teaser trailer preceding The Dark Knight in theatres and just a few weeks ago, they released another teaser trailer, this time much more substantial and just under a minute and a half long. This second trailer depicted a movie that, many would argue, really does the book justice in a way that the first couple of Harry Potter movies (directed by Christopher Columbus) did not.
This one is no Disney movie but a very dark story of madness, murder, and magic. It is just these sorts of themes that some parents would rather their children not read about or watch in the movie theatre, particularly that last one. In fact, several fundamentalist Christians have denounced Harry Potter and even called for the banning of the popular series in libraries and schools because they "promote witchcraft" among children. Apparently, this discomfort among Bush's fundamentalist base translated contributed to a decision by the rating board in Los Angeles to give the finished 6th film a rating of R, attempting to limit the number of children who would see this film or at least censor the content of the film. In order to avoid retaining this R rating, Warner Bros is forced to return to the set, reediting what had been the final product and even refilming particular scenes. Because the studio is trying to play this off as the fault of the writer's strike (how dare they want to get paid for their work) which ended six months ago and isn't admitting to the ratings scare, we can only hope one day the original cut of this film will be released. This is one case where the director's cut of a film is of real interest.

Now, you might agree that some of the dark material of Harry Potter is of questionable value for young children or any children for that matter. I too think that Harry Potter is a very violent story that includes a great deal of murder and death that children might have difficulty dealing with. The question however is not so much whether this latest Harry Potter film deserved an R rating but whether the MPA is rating films in an equitable fashion. Many of us could give examples of films with very violent content or even sexual references and bawdy humor that received a very kind rating of PG or PG-13. So, my question is: Is it possible that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is more violent and dangerous for our children to see than that latest very violent James Bond film, Casino Royale or The Dark Knight, both of which received a PG-13 rating?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Federer stunned by Blake in singles

I know, "two sports posts in one day?" But I yelped when I heard this on the radio today. JAMES BLAKE finally beat Federer! Blake is now in the running to earn an Olympic medal and Federer is left to lick his wounds before he cedes his #1 ranking to Nadal on Monday. I'm so excited for Blake. I had to search some to find a picture of Blake during or after this match. Even though many news sources covered the story, most pictures were of Federer. The one posted here is from ESPN and was preceded by a photo of Federer (and a Hooters ad). Usually the triumph of an American would be very much celebrated but...Maybe I haven't mentioned this on my blog before, however there is still a heck of a lot of racism in tennis (and golf and soccer and certain other sports). A network commentator during Wimbledon said that Venus' forehand reminded him of a favorite horse of his. Later he said that, like their mother, he wasn't sure which of the Williams sisters to root for and..."I'm not anywhere near related to them." So, what's the difference between not being related to someone and not being anywhere near related to them? If Venus' forehand reminded him of a horse, he reminded me of a used diaper.

Keep Swimming!

Have you guys heard of this kid...

That's Cullen Jones, olympic swimmer. Traditionally there definitely hasn't been much diversity in swimming so it's nice to see him there and doing so well. This is also especially refreshing (swimming pun intended) because many african-american children are in the same danger that he was in when he was little. When he was 5, he didn't know how to swim and nearly drowned at a water park. The statistics reveal that minorities are three times more susceptible to drowning. Now Jones is teaching little kids how to swim. There are a number of blog posts and articles online about Jones, including from major newspapers like the New York Times.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wifeswapping: Pants and Politics

"So," you say, "What a cute photo. That must be Cindy and John McCain, right?" John McCain, yes. Cindy, no. Meet Carol, his first wife. He was married to Carol, the swimwear model, until she got too old and ugly for his taste. Don't believe me? Listen to Ross Perot: "After he came home, Carol walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona and the rest is history." Countering those who might chalk it all up to the difficulties of returning home after being a POW in Vietnam, Carol herself said in regard to the failure of their marriage and his infidelity, "I attribute it more to John turning 40 and wanting to be 25 again than I do to anything else." And John agrees, "My marriage's collapse was attributable to my own selfishness and immaturity more than it was to Vietnam." I admire the honesty. I don't admire the history of infidelity and I don't admire the mainstream media for making infidelity a huge issue for others but not when they talk about McCain. Most people I have spoken too don't even know that he was married before, not to mention that he cheated on wife #1 multiple times and then finally dumped her for the filthy rich 25 year-old Cindy.

By the way, I wondered what his first wife looked like and googling her (I've got to stop using that damn search engine of the Machine) lead me to the site Constructive Anarchy. This site is pretty humorous and reminded me of a few additional things about the lovely McCain like that he actively opposed and voted against creating a national Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Apparently, with the exception of some photos posted by the Washington Post chronicling McCain's life, there are surprisingly few pictures of Carol McCain online. The thing is though, she was a professional swimsuit/underwear model before this. A gazillion people must have pictures of her in magazines, on calendars, pin-up posters, etc., in their attics. But, even with McCain being a public figure for years now and despite the fact that this is his second try for the White House, none are online? Can we say weird?! Moreover, none of McCain's philandering past has received mention on any of the mainstream networks that I know of. I asked people about this after I read it and they said that they had no idea he had a history of infidelity, that he was still married to Carol when he was running around with Cindy, or that Cindy had a drug problem and stole drugs from a charity organization. These kinds of things are apparently not as newsworthy as Edwards' inability to keep his pants or whether Michelle Obama is proud of everything this country does or not.

I would argue that basically none of these boys can keep their pants on, so I don't really care who the latest person to have had an affair is...I just want some equitable coverage when it comes to the candidates. Even better, let's just talk about the issues and stop the character attacks, warranted or not. So Edwards was sleeping around...does that suddenly mean that the issue he has put so much energy into, that of eliminating the poverty that affects so many in this country, isn't actually an issue at all? McCain's filandering ways are also much less important to me than whether he would, as president, continue the unchecked and inhumane military actions of the Bush administration.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Every Now and Then She Speaks

That's me...the every-now-and-then-online girl. Anyway, I recently came across a very interesting online magazine called Truthout. I'm sure many of you have already seen this but it was new to me so I decided to post a link here. The Web is really the only place to find real news these days. Most everything else is just blather from the corporate machine.

Why I Love the Olympics (smell the sarcasm)

The Guardian published this article in July of last year and, of course, things have only gotten worst since then...Olympics blamed for forcible removal of 2m over 20 years.

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