Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tuesday Evening Quiz

3 PEOPLE have submitted answers.
It's interesting that three different maps have caused trouble for 3 different people. 


Cartoon by Nate Beeler, The Washington Examiner, Washington, D.C. (click to enlarge)
See more of Nate Beeler's work: CLICK

For what it's worth

Barack Obama has done the right thing in disavowing the Rev. Wright. The voters have a right to know whether or not he shares the ideas of this man.

When for example, Richard Nixon trumpeted his association with evangelical Billy Graham and met in prayer with the man, people assumed that Nixon shared theocratic ideas with Graham. When we see politicians snuggling with theocrats like Hagee or Robertson, we are right to ask whether or not they share ideas on separation of church and state.

I am one guy who thinks that politicians willingly associate themselves with religious leaders in order to harvest votes. In as much as political leaders must calculate that whatever their religious advisers believe is going to be ascribed to them, it behooves Obama to tell us if this is so or not so with Wright.

Thanks, Barack. Everyone has been pushing on you to tell. Some folks will assume you're lying when you say Jeremiah's angry beliefs are not yours, but I for one will accept your promise so long as you act that way.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Goodbye Dick Rossi

With the death of Dick Rossi, only 4 of the FLYING TIGERS remain alive, heroes from World War II who shot down almost 300 Japanese planes over China.

And, they were volunteers!
After the war, for years, they safely flew American exchange students to and from Europe.
CLICK : and obit CLICK


Gun ownership correlates to gun deaths
United Press International
Published: April 26,

WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- States with high rates of gun ownership have the highest firearm death rates, an analysis by a U.S. non-profit group found.

The Violence Policy Center in Washington used data from 2005 -- the most recent available -- from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The five states with the highest per capita gun death rates -- Louisiana, Alaska, Montana, Tennessee and Alabama -- had a per capita gun death rate far exceeding the national per capita gun death rate of 10.32 per 100,000.

Louisiana had the highest rate of gun death, 19.04 per 100,000 and has household gun ownership of 45.6 percent. Alaska had a gun death rate 17.49 per 100,000 and household gun ownership of 60.6 percent. Montana had a gun death rate of 17.22 per 100,000 and 61.4 percent gun ownership.

Conversely, states with the lowest levels of gun ownership had the lowest levels of gun death rates.

Hawaii has a household gun ownership of 9.7 percent and a gun death rate of 2.20 per 100,000. Massachusetts has 12.8 percent rate of gun ownership and a gun death rate of 3.48 per 100,000. Rhode Island has a household gun ownership of 13.3 percent and a gun death rate of 3.63 per 100,000, the researchers said.
CLICK for the article
CLICK for Violence Policy Center

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tuesday Quiz Awards

IRENE - knew five out of six.

ALICE - knew four of the six

*Here are the correct answers:
1. British Airways
2. Lufthansa
3. Eastern Airlines
4. Continental
5. Qantas
6. Delta Airlines

*You can see the pictures here: CLICK
Many BIRCHIES were asked to identify this picture. Of course, no one really knew the answer, so here are some of your creative suggestions. (At the bottom is the true description.)

SCOT - Michael Richards arrives in the afterlife and discovers that the Lord has a humorous sense of irony.

BINA - African War Dancer?

CHRIS - A side of Katie Holmes rarely seen.

DIG S - The still -- and always will be -- very single coal miner's daughter.

JERRY - Come on!! Where did you get a picture of Strait in Blackface?

WHAT IT REALLY IS: A man dressed as a Hajfirooz, which is a traditional character to symbolize the arrival of the Iranian New Year, performs during a ceremony to mark the holiday, called Norouz, in Tehran, Iran, on March 17, 2008.

What Good People Do --"There are no pockets in a shroud."

Thanks to reader DIG S for this article; as he says, "An inspiring story of true altruism (or how opening duty free shops can make you damn rich)."

Chuck Feeney, who nudges others to give while living, plans to donate $8 billion by 2016. Just don't put his name on anything.
By Margot Roosevelt
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 8, 2008

NEW YORK — One by one, speakers rose to toast the elderly gent with
baggy pants and a shy, gaptoothed smile.

"Of course, he didn't wear a tie tonight," teased one. Another called
attention to the honoree's cheap watch and the plastic bag that
serves as his briefcase.

The joshing at a Manhattan gathering would have been nothing out of
the ordinary except that the man pulling a worn blue blazer over his
head in mock modesty was none other than the onetime billionaire,
Chuck Feeney.

Never heard of him? No surprise there.

Over the years, the frugal 76-year-old has made a fetish out of
anonymity. He declined to name his foundation, Atlantic
Philanthropies, after himself, registering the $8-billion behemoth in
Bermuda to avoid U.S. disclosure laws. He lavishes hundreds of
millions of dollars on universities and hospitals but won't allow
even a small plaque identifying him as a donor.

"We just didn't want to be blowing our horn," he explains in a rare
interview at his daughter's Upper East Side apartment.

The party was to celebrate a biography of the elusive tycoon by Irish
journalist Conor O'Clery, titled "The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How
Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune," published last

Feeney said he cooperated with the book and submitted to an interview
because he is driven by a new public mission: nudging hedge fund
heavies and silicon scions into "giving while living."

Feeney suggests with a cryptic smile, "There's a thin line between
sanity and the other side. Some people might even say the idea of
giving money away is crazy."

For those folks, Feeney has a Gaelic proverb: "There are no pockets
in a shroud."

click for story
click for more

Monday Morning Friends Report, April 28, 2008

Under the Birches, we have been bitching about the return to cold weather. We think Minnesota is sending us this stuff just to be spiteful. On the other hand, it has been uncommonly warm the last couple of weeks, so maybe we all just need a dose of reality. Most of us have now mowed the lawn once and picked up the winter detritus.

We have been talking about the so-called 'food crisis' which has been a hot topic on the TV jabber outlets. Some of these people are talking about "rationing" and "starvation" and such. Some of us have been speculating on the causes of this concern: is it real or contrived?

SCOT - has sent a reference to this article which helps explain the world-wide concern about food supplies and food prices. CLICK
This is very helpful and educational. We recommend it, although it represents one view and there may be others.

What some folks are reading:

DIG S - sent this story about penises disappearing in the Congo. (What if this starts happening right here in Michigan? Yeeks!)

MIKE CARROLL almost from CARROLLTON - reports this little known fact: "In Hong Kong , a betrayed wife is legally allowed to kill her adulterous husband, but may only do so with her bare hands. The husband's illicit lover, on the other hand, may be killed in any manner desired."
We have to idea whether this is true or not, but just in case, it's better not to go to Hong Kong for your adultery. Do it at home.

JERRY - sent this example of food carving. Go here to see more: CLICK

SPARTY and ALICE - are asking anyone in Mid Michigan, or out of it I suppose, to sign the petition to have Dow Chemical clean up the dioxin in the watershed. You can sign here: CLICK

What's up with friends?

TERESA - yes, she's to be a mother! This is tremendously good news!

SCOT - is to be a dad. No one would be better at it.

BILL from WNNCO - says he's too busy: "There are just too many activities in which I am engaged. HELP!" Well, he's neither bored nor boring.

IRISH MIKE - also is very busy and is always ready for the next adventure.

STEVE - is extremely busy at the "job I really like" with the Conservancy. He's also fishing every time he gets a free hour or two. He promises a fish fry when things let up.

DASHMANN - is playing softball. My God! How does he do it? He's also bowling and golfing and who knows what else.

FELIX - has flown out to Boston and is helping a friend move. Felix is terrifically busy these days, so that must be a really good friend.

SANDY -has taken a new part time job in a library, a quiet low stress environment perfect for her, unless her rowdy friends show up to ruin it.

LEN and BARB - are planning a trip to Branson.

ALICE - is recovering from a visit to the hospital where everything went well.

MARSHA - is recovering from a cold, and from the culture shock of returning from what she calls "paradise" -- Tahiti.

BUD - is appreciative to #1 son for taking him out to the ball game at Comerica Park, where the Tigers, unfortunately, fell one run short. It was a beautiful and warm Friday night and the company was great.

GIGI- is organizing a theater party. Ya, everyone who is anyone is invited. Today she was counting her grandchildren and kept losing count.

PAT W - has seen this spring, in her very own yard, these uncommon visitors: towhees, flickers, white breasted sparrows and a wood thrush.

A little humor from some of the folks.

From both JERRY and BILL -

A case when arrogance is equal to stupidity!!
Louisiana Highway Department employees stopped at a farm and talked with an old farmer. The man in charge told the farmer, 'We need to inspect your farm for a possible new road.'

The old farmer said, 'OK, but don't get out in that pasture over there.'The Highway Dept. employee flashed out his identification card and said, 'I have the authority of the State of Louisiana to go anywhere I want. See this card? I will go wherever I wish.'
So the old farmer went about his chores. It wasn't too much later when the farmer heard loud screams and yelling. He looked over and saw several Highway Department employees running for their lives and right behind was the farmer's huge prize bull. The bull was madder than a hornet's nest and was gaining on the Highway employees at every step.

The old farmer yelled out, 'Show him your card, Smart Ass. Show him your card!!’

JERRY -sent this:

and this:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

See more Rogers cartoons here: CLICK
Click on cartoon to enlarge it.

Another American Success Story

Facing bankruptcy, Countrywide Financial Corporation was bought (and, we presume, rescued in some way) by Citicorp. Bankruptcy goes better for some folks than for others:
Now: [Countrywide's] CEO Angelo Mozilo earned some $10.8 million in total compensation and cashed out $121.5 million in stock options last year. The compensation disclosed in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing released Thursday represents an 80 percent cut from the 70-year-old's total pay in 2006 of about $51 million. The Calabasas-based company reported a yearly loss in 2007 of $704 million amid the nationwide mortgage market meltdown. CLICK

Hey, congratulations Angelo. Thousands of families are in chaos, but look how well you did!

Sunday silly Sites #22

Dickipedia: Someone's ideas of who's a big dick. CLICK

Where to smoke pot: Go here to find where in Europe you can do it without facing jail. All you old hippies out there and all you young dudes, this is really helpful. CLICK

Noted: Without further comment


Chicago working to prevent repeat of deadly weekend
Apr 26, 7:50 AM (ET)

CHICAGO (AP) - Police planned to increase patrols and put SWAT officers and specialized units on the streets over the weekend, a show of force aimed at deterring violence like the three dozen shootings that left nine people dead last weekend.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wacko of the Week, 04/26/08

Ohio House of Representatives Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty and Democratic Representative Matthew Barrett, are joint recipients of this week's WACKO award ...

It is sad when the Christian ethics of modesty and honesty collide with the human universe of sex and the city. Oh, the wreckage, the carnage!

Here was a nice and conscientious public servant Mr. Barrett, who happens to be the State Representative of his district, as well as a collector of the nude figures of some of his female constituents. He is the very picture of the hip young, clean cut, all-American male.

He went to a high school government class to give a presentation on government. Right there, in front of God and this appreciative class of horny teen-agers, what should pop up on the screen? To his dismay, female nudes were hidden there on the power point demonstration he meant to make on the legislative process. (Pshaw! Haven't you all heard that nude ladies are often a part of the legislative process in almost every place?)

He said they weren't his photos. He tried to find an explanation.  He blamed the Ohio State Library research people. Months went by.

Turns out he was lying. And now he admits it.

His party Leader, Mrs. Beatty, demanded his resignation.
"New information came to light, and when that new information came to light, Leader Beatty asked for and received his resignation," said Phil Saken, a spokesman for the Ohio House Democratic caucus.

So, Mrs. Beatty found her sense of righteousness and dignity and did --- the wrong thing. Maybe there was a law broken? Probably not. The crime here is embarrassment. So to get this blush off the cheeks of the esteemed and oh-so proper Ohio House of Reps, out he goes!

You might say he just represented his people too closely. click and click


REGINALD NEWMAN, of Missouri - currently a resident in the slammer for removing a UPC label from a water bottle and putting it on a television set and then taking it through the checkout lane. Even in Missouri, that made the clerk suspicious. $3 for a television? Seems this is fraud. Hmm.. we thought we taught him better than that in school. click

AMANDA MOYA, of Ohio --- a man fleeing down the street in his underpants, blood steaming from his face, bite marks on his chest. A woman with a knife racing after him. Back home: a porno movie running on the TV and a little baby left unattended. Verdict: WACKOs. click

[Under the BIRCHES we are beginning to suspect we have been living much too dull and prosaic lives. We never have adventures like these.]

They're Coming to Take Me Away (File #17)

When you talk about "Family Values" you think, what could do more to bring child and parent closer together than a good redemptive prayer.

Dad hit girls who wouldn't pray
April 23

(UPI) -- Jacksonville, Fla. Police said a father has been arrested for allegedly fighting with his teenage daughters after one of them refused to pray.

Alonzo Burke, 44, told investigators that he began pushing and hitting his 18-year-old daughter while he was driving her to school in the morning because she refused his instructions to pray, WJXT-TV, Jacksonville, Fla., reported Wednesday.

"The father asked the occupants of the car to begin to pray, the daughter said she didn't want to pray," Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said.

He said the 18-year-old daughter returned the violence by punching him in the face.

Burke said he pulled the car into a convenience store parking lot where his 16-year-old daughter joined the brawl by grabbing him from behind while he was chasing his elder daughter.

He told police he accidentally bit the 16-year-old while her hands were on his face.

Burke was arrested and charged with domestic battery. He has been released on bond.


Friday, April 25, 2008

quiz note

Several people have responded to the Tuesday Quiz.
No one has them all correct so far.

A Reader's Opinion: Feminization of Poverty

MARGARET has sent reference to this commentary from a liberal source.

The "Clinton years" have, however, resulted in one vitally important and lasting economic condition: the feminization of poverty in the United States. Today, 53 percent of poverty-level families are headed by single-mothers. Only nine percent are headed by single males. The rest, obviously, are two-parent families. What's more, of all poor people in the United States, 61 percent of those over age 18 are women. By every economic measure, Bill Clinton's policies — especially his so-called welfare reform — have done more harm to American women than, perhaps, any president in the history of the United States.

In the final analysis, if people are to be objective, the Clintons' economic policies have done to women, what Ronald Reagan's policy of throwing people out of institutions did for the mentally ill. Reagan forced thousands of mentally ill patients into the impoverished homeless ranks, and the Clintons' economic policies forced millions of women into poverty.

CLICK here for the whole commentary
Your responses are welcome.

For what it's worth

All this 'to-do' about Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright is just one more piece of evidence to show why church and state must ABSOLUTELY be separated in a democracy. Whether it's a Catholic Kennedy or a Baptist Carter or a gum-wacky Bush or a black-jesus Obama or a foaming at the mouth Creationist Huckabee, leave your religious slicer-and-dicer outside the White House door. -- and the schoolhouse door -- and the courthouse door.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Impertinent Question

This question was provoked by something seen on the internet. 

If a high school kid is planning to set a bomb in his school, and his parents find out about it and turn him in, and if he is then charged with terrorism,( CLICK ) is it not proper under the Bush government rules, for the military to come in and waterboard the guy?  

You know, maybe he's Al Qaeda.

not surprised

All you folks out there: 
Behave accordingly 

A recent Journal of Medical Virology reports that cold and flu viruses can survive on hard surfaces such as restaurant menus for 18 hours. Men's Health advises to never let the menu touch your plate or silverware and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after ordering.

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker (41)

Keeping it simple

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

They're Coming to Take Me Away (File #16)


The principle of government neutrality in religion is so-o-o simple, even a high school principal should be able to comprehend it. (Although many of them aren't too bright, because they didn't get their jobs by being bright.)

Judge orders La. school district to stop Bible giveaways
Associated Press Writer
 April 22, 2008

NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge ordered a public school system to stop allowing in-school Bible giveaways, saying the practice violates the First Amendment separation of church and state.

"Distribution of Bibles is a religious activity without a secular purpose" and amounts to school board promotion of Christianity, U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier ruled in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana against the Tangipahoa Parish School Board.

bullet train news

Malaysia scraps Singapore bullet train
By Associated Press
April 23, 2008
[this article has been condensed] click

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysia has scrapped plans for a multi-billion-dollar high-speed bullet train connecting Kuala Lumpur and Singapore because of high costs, a government official said Wednesday.

The $2.5 billion bullet train would have been able to travel the 325-kilometer (200-mile) distance between Malaysia's biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, and neighboring Singapore in 90 minutes.

"The government will not go ahead with the project because the financial model submitted involves a significant cost to be borne by the government," said Sulaiman Mahbob, director general of the Economic Planning Unit, according to The Star.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday Evening Quiz 04/22/08

Identify (1-6 starting at top left)

2 press services, 2 headlines, different stories, one smile

Man Injured in Manhole Explosion (UPI)

N.Y. Jury Rejects Rectal Exam Lawsuit (AP),0,5871183.story

Republican Humor (47)

To commemorate that celebration of democracy taking place in Pennsylvania today, the last great primary of the horrendously long political season, why not take a slap at both those Democratic Party candidates? Politics in a democracy can be nasty and smelly, and here is a wonderful exhibit to prove it.
[thanks to Jerry for this example of free partisan speech]


Monday, April 21, 2008

noted, without comment

Police break up unholy brawl in Jerusalem Church
Associated Press
April 20 2008
Israeli police rushed into Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre to break up fist fights between dozens of Greek and Armenian worshippers on Orthodox Palm Sunday, witnesses said.
Some 20 officers intervened after Armenian worshippers threw a Greek Orthodox priest out of the church, sparking a free-for-all, they said.

Several worshippers then started beating the police officers with palm fronds they were holding for the Palm Sunday celebrations that mark the return of Jesus to the Holy City a week before he was crucified.
Brawls are not uncommon at the church, which is shared by various branches of Christianity, each of which controls and jealously guards part of site -- considered one of the holiest in Christianity.

Precisely in order to prevent such disturbances, two Muslim families have been entrusted for the past 800 years with opening and closing the gates of the church, a cavernous labyrinth of chapels and crypts built on the site where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

The free press - revisited

Los Angeles Times Photo: Clendenin

Continuing controversy seethes over remarks made in our democratic society by Jack Cafferty, a member of the press who we expect to practice free speech, especially in the context of a "commentator" as opposed to a "journalist."

Somehow, a thousand or more people in California were organized by someone (gee, I wonder who) to print up letter-perfect signs and go out and protest in front of the CNN headquarters in Hollywood. Also, comments are being posted all over the internet from sources that sometimes mangle the English language, demanding Cafferty's firing, or the censorship of CNN, or apologies to China.

Here is what Cafferty said:
"We continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export . . . jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we're buying from Wal-Mart. So I think our relationship with China has certainly changed. I think they're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years."

What do you think folks? Is this worthy of all that snarling backlash?

I wonder how China handles folks like Cafferty? I can only imagine, which is why in places that aren't China (or Iran) we just love to cozy up to folks like Cafferty.

cartoon by Stuart Carlson  click
(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Monday Morning friends report, April 21, 2008

"Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
We wonder where
The flowers is."

Having a hard time remembering news we should be reporting. You out there: don't forget to contribute to BIRCHES.

What some of our friends, folks, and bad-ass dawgs are up to

FELIX - is shaking. He says: "I felt the earth move, under my feet... WE JUST HAD AN EARTHQUAKE!! Well, it's been an hour ago now ... but, it was a good, long one." Yep, it was a good earthquake and it shook the whole of Mid-America, but the only one we know personally who felt it was Felix, and that's because he lives down there in the boonies.

THE SEVEN TEACHERS AND A CREATURE TRIVIA TEAM - despite being the prettiest, most charming and wittiest group at the party, placed only 2nd in the trivia contest, but are going to win it next time. Great time!


MARGARET - has changed residences and "has already started her vegetable garden." SCOT - is so busy he doesn't have time for a garden. BUD and PAT - lack the energy and ambition to make a vegetable garden, but they really wish they did. Does that count? SPARTY - is working on his.

PAT W. - is "... so nervous I can hardly watch," but she did watch and saw the Red Wings defeat the Nashville Predators, which threw her into raptures because she loves all those guys on that team.

ALICE - is recovering from illness. She had a surgery and is doing much better.

MIKE CARROLL (almost from Carrollton) - is telling friends: "There are 9,675,000,000 people in this world and yet I ended up with your crazy ass as a friend. Damn I'm lucky!"

SCOT - for no reason at all, and without any provocation, called his father a "beef-witted fat-belly." How sharper than a serpent's tooth is the ingratitude of a child!
He's out of the will.

MARSHA - has lost weight and looks great. She is, by the way, due back from Tahiti this week.

BUD - spent a night in the hospital but seems to be OK. It was not the mental ward, that's why.

GIGI - has added a room! It looks beautiful. It's that kind of a screened/many-windowed room that nestles up to the shade of at great old maple tree and makes a perfect place for friends to share some wine and stories.

IRISH MIKE - he's building something.

What's on folk's minds:

DIG S. - sent this cite for the latest Al Gore presentation:
In Al Gore's brand-new slideshow (premiering exclusively on, he presents evidence that the pace of climate change may be even worse than scientists were recently predicting, and challenges us to act with a sense of "generational mission" -- the kind of feeling that brought forth the civil rights movement -- to set it right.
Go watch it here, it's fascinating, inspiring and scary: click

SPARTY sent a very long article from the New York Times about the secret program of the Defense Department for propagandizing news analysts on TV,  generals and retirees of the military, to brainwash them. Purpose: To make the news channels and reporters favorable to the war and to Guantanamo Prison and so on. 
 click .

CHRIS - is talking about the oil company testimony before Congress:
Did you hear about the oil companies meeting with congress? I guess congress wanted to know why the oil industry should continue getting tax breaks when they made over $120 billion in profit last year. The response by the Shell Oil Company president or CEO was something to the effect of "Because the oil industry is a cyclical market and something bad might happen in the future."
So why don't the bastards take the profit and bank it away until something bad happens? That's like citizens telling the IRS, "I'm not going to pay all my taxes this year because something bad may happen in the future."
There is something wrong here.

DASHMANN - refers to the wearing of flag pins in the lapels.
"You know, the only one I ever see wear a flag pin is W !!
Check it out---really. Others seldom if ever wear them.
Think I saw Gingrich with one recently."
At Birches, we don't recall anyone wearing American flags on their clothing, but then, most of us run around naked.   

PAT C. - sent a reference to the "Tibetan Personality Test." If you want to try it, look here: Click

(Bud, it turn out has no personality traits worthy of being quanitified. Better luck to the rest of you.)

IRENE - notes that May 20 is Curtis Granderson bobble-head doll day at Comerica Park and so she was thinking of flying in from Australia to be there, but then decided: "I've found a cheaper option. You can get a bobblehead online for the low price of $18.99. Bit cheaper than the $2000 + ticket to the game, but not as fun."

Alice - recommends "The Myth of Ronald Reagan" which you can read here:   click 
This is the gravamen of the article:  "The Myth of Ronald Reagan Lured the Working Class Into Economic Destruction: Obama Gets It, But the Jilted Middle Class Doesn’t."


Some snickers

JOE - who never reads this blog, sent this joke. He won't know it was printed by us.
Husband: "When I get mad at you, you never fight back. How do you manage to control your anger?"
Wife: "I clean the toilet."

Husband: "How does that help?"

Wife: "I use your toothbrush ."

DASHMANN - sent this:

(click to make it larger)
JERRY - sent these examples of "Wisdom":

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
-- Mark Twain

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
-- Groucho Marx

I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.
-- W.C. Fields

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.
-- Will Rogers

Sunday, April 20, 2008

High Calibre Angst in Fortress America

NIU gunman's essays portray feelings of alienation
By Associated Press
April 19, 2008

DEKALB, Ill. - Graduate school application essays written by a man who fatally shot five students and wounded 18 other people in a Northern Illinois University classroom before committing suicide portray a young person who felt profoundly lost.

In four essays the Chicago Tribune obtained from the University of Illinois and NIU, Steven Kazmierczak discussed feeling alienated and his parents' decision to send him to a group home.

"For as long as I can remember, I have always been an extremely sensitive individual and feel as though I am able to empathize with other people's emotional and social needs," Kazmierczak wrote. "However, some of my peers were not very understanding or accepting, and I feel as though I was victimized to a certain degree during my adolescent years."

COMMENTARY: One's heart aches for the torment of this young man. Such anguish and at such a young age. The confusion and uncertainty of youth can be so harsh, and the disdain of one's peers can be so hurtful. The thing to do is give him guns. Arm him to the teeth and send him off to college to find himself.

In France, he might become an artist on the Left Bank.

In Britain, he might become a poet writing of hills and valleys and lost love.

In Canada, he might become a Newfoundland bar patron.

In the U.S.A., he's a mass murderer. Aren't we enjoying our children. Won't they be so much cuter as they get more and more guns?

Sunday silly Sites #21

Subway gets built. This is truly very interesting if you have ever been in New York and ridden the subway system, or if you've seen the movies that feature it. Interactive map of the subway system. click

CD of Yucky Things from Poplar Mechanics. Your kid, or even your husband or boyfriend, might find this appealing. click

How about this deal? Wash Away Your Sins personal care products. click

Saturday, April 19, 2008

gold star Awards

ALICE - 3 out of 4.


Tues. quiz answers

1. Boston relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (one of the very best) leaping in joy upon winning the World Series. A leap like that is joy personified. 2. London's Tower Bridge. 3. Cheryl Crow laughing. 4. Under "the Loop" in Chicago, 1942.

Wacko of the Week -- 04/19/08

U.S. Representative GEOFF DAVIS of Kentucky.

When you think of Jeff Davis, you don't think of someone in the 21st Century, do you?

But there's some reason why his parents decided to name him Jeff (which he spells Geoff.) Rep. Davis is a well-known Member of the House Armed Services Committee, and he is the Assistant Republican Whip. Yet, this week he made this astonishing statement about Barack Obama:

"... we don't need that boy's finger on the button" CLICK (or listen to Davis' comment at the link given there.).

So, in a real sense, Geoff has lived up to his namesake. Let's think about that word, boy . Everybody in the world knows the term is offensive when used in some contexts about black men. When the person being discussed was born, as was Obama, in 1961, it surely does not refer to age.

Mr. Davis has profusely apologized for his use of the term, so he also recognizes the weight of his insult.  Maybe being at a fund-raiser for John McCain and thinking he was in the privacy of a group where his comments would be properly understood but not reported on, helped to add to his sense of shamelessness.  The word titillated the contributors who giggled and applauded appropriately.  

Mr. Davis is representative of a certain attitude best owned by southern white gentlemen of by-gone years, or red-necked crackers who hang on even into this century. Maybe we will all live long enough to survive the burdens of slavery and the Civil War, of race prejudice and racial insult. It will be nice when those things have vanished from America. 

With Rep. Davis's help, that day is now closer at hand.


RUNNER -UP - New Bride Alison Smith of Abroath, Scotland who is but 24, and yet is now, 4 times married. Her sense of need for a man has triumphed over her sad experiences which include:
1. A first husband who ran off with and married her mother.

2. A guy who stood in for the second husband who had decided not to show up at the wedding after all. (His brother may have been the father of her baby.)

3. A 50 year-old man who turned out to be already married to someone else.

It is a bizarre tale with a dozen freaky details you may want to hear. click

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Light Through the Leaves

"A healthy male adult bore consumes, each year, one-and-a-half times his own weight in other people's patience."
- John Updike

those damned airlines again

for more Farcus, CLICK HERE

the captions revisited

Late entry from Gigi:

"This one shows off your shape better."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

speaking up for a free press

It is the official position of BIRCHES (not that anyone in either China or CNN will particularly notice) that Jack Cafferty, a commentator on the CNN cable network, is absolutely right when he says: The folks running China are "basically the same bunch of goons and thugs that have been running it for 50 years."

The Chinese have chosen to make this an important issue, pretending to be wounded and insulted by these mere words from far away; and so the world should remind them that in trying to browbeat CNN, they are merely proving what Cafferty says is true.

CLICK HERE to read "China summons CNN Beijing chief over commentator's remarks"

VIcissitudes of life, #5: Be grateful

... it's not you.

2nd Amendment humor

from The Onion
April 16, 2008 | Issue 44•16

Florida Legalizes Taking Guns To Work

Florida legislators passed a bill allowing citizens to bring their guns to work. Here are some of the other pro-gun laws enacted recently.

Alaska—Members of endangered species now permitted to carry concealed firearms for self-protection

Louisiana—Now legal for residents to shoot at hurricanes

Minnesota—Any resident may fire a single shot every five years, or when Vikings win

Idaho—You can have a gun, or a grenade, but not both

Virginia—Non-gun-owning residents must apply for a permit to not own and operate a firearm

New York—Guest stars on Law & Order may bring their own guns to the set

Kansas—Children as young as 8 can bring guns to school on the condition that there's no funny business

Texas—That huge cattle gun used by Javier Bardem's character in No Country For Old Men now legally available at Fiesta Mart grocery stores

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker (40)




Wednesday, April 16, 2008

news flash

Bare-Sterns Bankers fleeing town 

borrowed from American Street CLICK

about this week's quiz

Someone has answered three of the four. 

for what it's worth

Here in mid Michigan where the weather has now taken a spring-like turn, folks in Frankenmuth are setting up crosses in their yards all around the community.  This is in response to a threatened lawsuit by a local gentleman who thinks that the cross depicted on the town's Official Seal is offensive to the First Amendment.  

I think the man may be right, but I also think he's being needlessly confrontational over a minor thing.  It's not like the city is erecting manger scenes on public land. Still, the guy has a right to his day in court and so go right ahead, dude. 

What I really appreciate is that the people of the community who oppose him have seen fit to take action in such a public way with their crosses.  It's peaceful, it's on their own property, it's representational of what they think, it's free speech, it's truly a free expression of religion that offends no one else's right. 

Similarly, a group of Tibetan monks is holding a mock Olympic torch-carrying ceremony in India, protesting the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese. The point of the march is to protest the holding of the Olympic games in China and to ask the world to boycott.  

These cases exemplify freedom of religion at its best, as opposed to those folks whose religion demands that they impose themselves on our government, our government symbols, and our government property.  

noted, without comment

World's beaches strewn with trash
The Associated Press
April 15, 2008

Volunteers combed beaches and shorelines in 76 countries on one day last September, including 45 states in this country. The report shows the most extensive cleanup was in the U.S., where they found 390 pounds of trash per mile.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday Morning friends report, April 14, 2008

Like the rest of the country these days, Michigan has had some terrible weather. Recently, the sirens in mid Michigan blew insistently as a tornado warning. However, none was reported touching down. But that was a good day. Most days have been cold and dreary and drizzly. The ground is thoroughly soaked and the rivers are high. Many people are impatient to get on with lawn and garden work.

MARSHA - liked this license plate she photo'ed:

JERRY - sent this YouTube cite in which he appears: click

SPARTY and GIGI - returned from North Carolina where he says he delivered enough rain to end the drought, and came home to Michigan where he says he brought the Tigers their first victory.

MIKE CARROLL almost from Carrollton - asks this question: "What does it show you about Homeland Security if a couple of people with anti-China signs can climb the Golden Gate Bridge without being stopped?"

SCOT - on one day that most of Michigan was suffering under cold and dreary weather, he reports that the weather front ran by his county and they had 70 degrees and sun all day. I resent that!

(from SPARTY)

(click on it to enlarge)

(from BILL)

How to cause

a traffic


(from MIKE): A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women's locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, 'What's the matter, haven't you ever seen a little boy before?'

(from JERRY)

Find the



Responses- caption for the picture
Here are some of the captions that you astute Birchites sent in. You are truly a creative bunch out there, and you are much appreciated.

DASHMANN - "This will thrill your husband; it's just in from the 'Baghdad Victoria's Secret.' "

MIKE a.f. CARROLLTON - "The new Burkha model #2000b has been improved so you and your lovely bride can both fit under it to do with her as you please."

FELIX - "Will it clash with our red drapes?"

JERRY - "Do you have something less revealing?"

STEVE - ..."and it has a cane pouch sewn conveniently in the back so your husband won't have to hunt around before he beats you."

MARSHA - "Do you have this in petite?"

BILL from WNNCO - "Do you have this in blue?"

JERRY - "My husband would never let me wear a see-through top."

ALICE - "Maybe he would give you the money for this if can convince him of the quality."

MIKE a.f. CARROLLTON - "It has the added feature of doubling as a tent when you are caught out in the desert on some cold dark night."

FELIX - "My wife has one and loves it."

ALICE - "He'll never know it's you if you run away from him wearing this."

STEVE - "Even the profit Mohammed himself wouldn't recognize you in this pretty little number."