Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday silly Sites

These are places that were encountered while knocking around the internet. If you run into some unusual or silly site, let Birches in or it and we'll give you credit.

Are pictures worth a thousand words? (use the numbering at the top to skip to other weird pages) click

Japanese Videos of fighting insects. Now this is really silly. click

10 worst earthquakes in history click
Many of our daydreams would darken into nightmares, were there a danger of their coming true! 
Logan Pearsall Smith

Click on the picture to enlarge both the beauty and the danger. 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

more red meat for you readers --

And you're more than welcome to take a crack at this one, too. A headline and first paragraph from United Press --- 

Cindy McCain 'offended' by Obama speech

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Cindy McCain, the wife of presumptive Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain, says she is "offended" by attacks on her family's wealth...She said Democratic nominee Barack Obama went too far in his acceptance speech in Denver Thursday when he said John McCain doesn't know what middle class working families have to deal with.

about the creativity challenge

Quite a few people have emailed in answers to the question: What's the real reason McCain chose Sarah Palin to be be vice presidential candidate? There were some very thoughtful and adult answers. Some of the others of you got playful. I like the mix. Answers will be printed soon. If you haven't answered but want to, send it in.

Wacko of the Week, August 30, 2008

PLenty of people rushed forward this week to try to capture our coveted Wacko-of-the-Week Award. Here are some strong contenders:

1. There was the gentleman in New Jersey who got shot in the knee and didn't even know it. He's in the hospital now, but he walked quite a distance to the cops who had to point it out to him. Ya, he was drunk.

2. There were the folks running the Amtrak commuter train in California, who ran it out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Everyone sat for two hours while the train folks ran down some go-juice.

3. There was the New York driving instructor who was found guilty of showing his privates to his female students, then claiming it was just loose shorts. Well, it kept happening over-and-over. Oh, and incidentally, the instructor was a former cop. I bet he made some interesting arrests in his day.

But, no, despite all those qualified entrants, we're going to go with 2 even wackier guys:

This far-seeing campaign adviser for John McCain who suggested that what he should do is pick a vice presidential running mate whom no one had ever heard of - a gun-slinging frontier gal whose greatest claim to achievement might be her recipe for mooseburgers.

Well, to be totally honest, some people had heard of Sarah Palin, but there were lots of news people who didn't even know how to pronounce her name. Under the Birches, we have numerous informed friends, people who know politics, and when they heard the name Sarah Palin they said:

So, let's make it a multiple award. John McCain himself should be on the Waco list. What the hell was he thinking?

So, it's McCain and friends. They have insulted the whole world, at least temporarily gone berserk, and may have doomed the Republican Party.

Something Fishy

Here is a picture of Sarah Palin. She's the one wearing the hat. The other one is a dead fish.

When I sat down the other day to compose a list of people in the United States I thought would make good vice presidents, I must admit, Sarah came in 14 millionth, 197 thousandth, and 18 (14,197,018). She was just ahead of myself, whom I listed at 14,197,019. And just ahead of her was Terrell Owens.

Now, I like fisher women and fish mongers just as well as the next guy, but I read that she netted this salmon on a set net, she didn't even catch it herself. Am I gonna vote for a phony like that?

I think NOT!

Friday, August 29, 2008

hmm .....


O.K. This will call on you to be as creative or as serious as you please:

WHAT is the REAL reason JOHN McCAIN picked SARAH PALIN for Vice President?

E-mail or add comment ....

For What It's Worth

I've not caught Obama-mania.  During the primary elections, I made no preference between Clinton and Obama.  In Michigan, I had no real choice, since the candidates had pretty much written off our state and the Democratic Party wasn't going to seat any delegates from here anyway. 

It was my opinion that Hillary Clinton should have stayed in the race just as long as she wanted, and if that meant 'to the bitter end,' then so be it. Obama took that position, officially, as well, although many of his followers did not. Many people thought Hillary would ruin Obama's chances in the fall.  I believe she made him stronger.  I believe she made him a tougher campaigner. 

I know that I'm not going to vote for McCain in November.  This doesn't mean that I will vote for Obama.  However, he gave an extremely powerful speech tonight in Denver.  I heard things from him I hadn't heard, positions on issues I wanted to hear, and most important a sense that he really could be a great reformer. This country and it's underlying society needs a lot of reform.  For the first time, he impressed me. 

friends report addendum


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bill's Principle #1:the human condition

Ya, we know you won't believe us, but try this anyway.
Look deeply into his eyes.
What do you think he was arrested for?

really --- spying on women in a bathroom.

Correction (from SPARTY)

The article from Soujourners I forwarded ... is from a magazine edited by Jim Wallis, an evangelical Protestant. It's not connected in any way with Catholicism. What we find interesting about Wallis' magazine is that, even though he's an evangelical, he's politically liberal. His editorials have been very critical of the Bush gang and their policies.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Aussies and God, a brief conversation

SPARTY - sent an excerpt from a Catholic publication which indicted that the new Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, is quite a religious fellow, as is the opposition to the Rudd government. The article was making the point that

"All the media interviews I did during the week were eager to explore the issues of faith and politics, both in the U.S. and in Australia. For a "secular" country, the social and political impact of faith seems to have become a hot topic."

Sparty knows that one of our most loyal readers is an Australian, and wondered what she would have to say about this.

IRENE has answered:
Religion is not a major player in our political landscape. Few people regularly go to church here - the weekly attendance figure is less than 8%. Public figures don't mention God, they don't invite people to pray to God in tough times. People don't thank God when they win the Superbowl (or Grand Final). You could be prime minister and be agnostic, even an atheist. Kevin Rudd may pray, but it's a personal thing, and no one believes he's in office doing God's will. The belief that the country is blessed by God isn't part of the national identity here.

IRENE goes on to evaluate the author of the religious claim:
"The author of the article ... Christopher Pearson, is a conservative "journalist" whose dream job would be a regular spot on Fox News. He's a Murdoch press tool, used to push the ultra-right wing view, and as usual, his article is at best disingenuous. For example, he lumps in the Uniting Church members to come up with a figure of 10% of Australians in Evangelical/Pentecostal churches. The Uniting Church is a union of Presbyterians and Methodists - I doubt if the Uniting church identifies with the evangelical churches - and the Uniting Church makes up more than half of his 10% figure. Less than 5% of Australians are evangelicals or Pentecostals. They aren’t an organised political force pushing their agendas."

Finally, Irene makes this conclusory statement:
"There may have been a swing in the evangelical vote in key electorates. However, coming to the conclusion that it was a change of agenda of the evangelical movement is a bit far fetched. There were a lot of other issues in the election that weighed heavily with people in these same electorates..."


Comment: BIRCHES is a strong supporter of separation of church and state in the U.S. We believe that governments designed by churches and ruled by theocrats are inherently undemocratic and unjust. This is no reflection of the situation in Australia of which we are woefully lacking in knowledge. We depend on Irene for what we know. :)

Footnote: Further comment is welcome.

Tell us what you think of this

Tell what you think about this:

(from Reuters and MSNBC):

John McCain, who often invokes his ordeal as a Vietnam war prisoner to show his devotion to his country as he runs for U.S. president, drew on the experience again on Monday -- this time to deflect sniping over the number of houses he owns.

In an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, McCain, 71, said his priority was to keep Americans in their homes in tough economic times.

"I spent 5 1/2 years in a prison cell without -- I didn't have a house. I didn't have a kitchen table. I didn't have a table. I didn't have a chair," he said.

"I spent those 5 1/2 years ... not because I wanted to get a house when I got out."

no one was!

UPS Headline, Aug.26, 2008: 
GOP not impressed with Democratic opener

Today's Best Headline: Duhhhhh

Madrid crash survivor says plane lacked power during takeoff
Associated Press Writer
8:48 AM EDT, 
August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Morning Friends Report, August 25, 2008

STEVEN, DASHMANN, SCOT, TRASE, and who knows how many others - are caught up in Fantasy Football and picks and stuff.

IRISH MIKE - is telling a fascinating story of helping a friend run off some low-hanging pants punks who were throwing stones at cars in a parking lot.  This is an even better story when you know that IRISH MIKE was suffering from a sprained knee, a sports injury. 

SPARTY - also has a sprained knee. Also a sports injury.  These are things that don't happen to people who only go walking.  

What Some People are Talking About

FELIX - expresses some disappointment that his Senator, Evan Bayh (Indiana) was not chosen as Obama's running mate. 

DIG S - Returns to the subject of this article from Reuters: 
In Rich America, Third World inequality(Read here;CLICK
 "There has been a massive shift of income from the bottom and middle to the top," says Holly Sklar, director of Business for Shared Prosperity, a network of business owners supporting higher minimum wages. "The richest 1 percent of Americans have increased their share of the nation's income to a higher level than any year since 1928, the eve of the Great Depression."

Says DIG - In a country well governed poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed wealth is something to be ashamed of.-Confucius

GIGI - recommends this bit of poetry, especially for all the members of coffee klatches:

In Praise of Joe
by Marge Piercy

I love you hot
I love you iced and in a pinch
I will even consume you tepid.

Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,
dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp
rich with tannin and smelling of thick life—

Read the whole poem here: CLICK  

SPARTY - recommends "The Wrecking Crew" by Thomas Franks in Harper's Magazine, August 2008.

Frank writes, “Fantastic misgovernment of the kind we have seen is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction.”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

fluff ----

Here are some bits and pieces of fluff that have drifted into your blogster's crooked mind on a quiet Sunday evening in Michigan.

* Michigan Red Haven peaches are now in the farm markets and on roadside stands.  There is nothing better.  When they're ripe and soft, take a bite and let the juice run all over your shirt. 

* We were in Midland, after a bike trip on the Rail-Trail. There is a pizza joint and hot dog emporium on Main Street. Lots of people were coming in and out for ice cream cones and hot dogs and milk shakes and cokes, and of course pizza. Kids of every age in groups, and oldsters sitting and enjoying a drink. Babies in fathers' arms. Everyone peaceful, everyone respectable, everyone enjoying themselves on a sunny Sunday.

An evocation of a past memory? Maybe. This is 'American Main Street' as it should be. It is very like an experience in Grand Rapids earlier this summer when the lineup at the ice cream parlor contained people of every color, speaking several languages, and folks of all ages. Everyone orderly and nice. It was wonderful. It's what American looks like now.

* The American basketballers defeating Spain was a study in restraint. You could see that some of these guys were bursting their seams, trying not to give in to their urge to be nasty. Two weeks of sustained niceness must be a real culture shock for some of these 'play-ahs.'

* The most disgusting, know-nothing piece of political propaganda has now hit the airwaves. It seeks to represent Obama as a friend of bomb-setting terrorists from the 1960's, specifically Bill Ayers. This is the worst piece of campaign shit-throwing so far this year. Let's hope this election doesn't get any worse, for the whole world may catch the stink if it does.

Sunday silly Sites

Wonderful things we've run across on the 'nets.'

[Thanks to MARSHA] Here's a list of "Stuff That White People Like": CLICK

The 50 worst (ugliest??) record album covers, according to the Chicago Tribune. CLICK

If you run across such wonderful and silly sites, send them in. Please

Saturday, August 23, 2008

See more of the work of Bob Englehart The Hartford Courant, CLICK

Wacko of the Week, August 23, 2008

By some standards, the Tropical Storm called FAY should be the Wacko-of-the-Week. This crazy lady has slammed Florida with 2-3 feet of rain, backed off, and then slammed poor Florida again -- and again! This is a crazy storm and it has a human name.

This storm is as crazy as a former football player stalking his ex-wife.

But, here's an even better choice:
KEVIN KEARNEY, aged 26, Ft. Lauderdale

Now, here is the real wacko. He strapped himself to a kite and tried to ride the storm. It bounced him around awhile and then slammed him into a building. As of this morning, five days later, he's still in critical condition.

What a thrilling ride he's had! We naturally don't want to discourage anyone's sense of adventure, but here's a thoughtful analysis from an 'expert':

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Division Chief, Lois Bowman: "Is there a lesson here? Whenever there's a storm warning, use common sense."

Oh, O.K., most of us would have known that to begin with. What are you going to tell the Wackos? If they survive?

Read about it here CLICK

Friday, August 22, 2008

For What It's Worth, the Chinese

There's been a lot of rumbling about the real ages of the Chinese women's gymnasts. There's nothing new about cheating at the Olympics. A number of athletes have been sent home from various countries for failing the drug tests, and there has been some unsportsmanlike behavior here and there. Some past American athletes also cheated on the rules.

This Chinese thing, however, is of another dimension. It's akin to the the Russians and E. Germans who used to pass off men as women, for example. This involves a deliberate decision by a nation's Olympic Committee to defy the rules. If it's true.

Why is it that people are so willing to believe that the Chinese would deliberately cheat? Who would ever suspect, for example, that the French or British or Americans would make a policy decision to cheat systematically?

Maybe it's the dictatorship?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How Many Houses?

I used to be very impressed by that Republican argument 4 years ago that John Kerry had all that money because he married that woman and got it handed to him. That he was a low character because of it.

Now I hear that Cindy McCain is the moneybags of that family --- inherited wealth of fabulous dimensions from booze -- and that John McCain will not go short of campaign cash this year, no matter what. They say he can't even tell us how many houses he owns. Hasn't even visited them all. CLICK

That Republican argument 4 years ago still makes a lot of sense. Let's all remember that when we vote, eh?

Women Win Gold Metal

The American Women's Soccer Team won the Gold Metal by once again defeating the Brazilians.

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker (57)


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

drip .. drip .. drip ..

Your American democracy is slowly dripping away.
They track everyone's phone calls, everyone's e-mails, they have a million cameras, and now:

U.S. tracking citizens' border crossings: report
Wed Aug 20, 2008 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government has been using its border checkpoints to collect information on citizens that will be stored for 15 years, raising concern among privacy advocates, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said the collection is part of a broader effort to guard against terrorist threats, the report said, citing a Federal Register notice the agency issued last month.
[You all read the Federal Register, don't you? That's where you evidently can keep track of your independence.]

Add to Your "Day": some sweetness

Indulge yourself with a little elegance, a hint of innocence, some sweetness and magic. Go ahead, be sappy!


That's Oscar Levant on the piano, by the way. The film was "Romance on the High Seas"

Barney Fife Award #8, Butler County KY, Sheriff Dept..

Butler County Sheriff Joe Gaddie and a deputy drove 4,100 miles to California to pick up a fugitive, then realized when he got back he had the wrong guy.

A man named Joe Orus was awaiting release from a jail in Tehachapi, Calif., when a check showed an outstanding warrant in Kentucky. Officials notified Gaddie, who came and got him. It turned out to be a case of stolen identity. Gaddie says a check of mugshots and fingerprints showed the man wanted in Kentucky had stolen Joe Orus' identity.

After finding the mistake, Butler County officials paid for Orus to fly back to California. CLICK

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ethics and Good Government

JERRY - forwarded this and we thought it was well worth posting -

Harry Truman

When President Truman retired from office in 1952, his income was substantially a U.S. Army pension, $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an allowance and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don't want me. You want the office of the president, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale."

On May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise."

Today, many in Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now clearly for sale.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Morning Friends Report, Part II: August 18, 2008

Some notes on some friends

PAT W - found that despite the existence of 14 millions shoe styles available for women on the American market she, the mother of the groom, was wearing the same ones as the bride's mother. Obviously, good taste runs in families that find each other.

MARY - has volunteered to work with the Obama campaign.

ALICE - has been studying Dr. Doolittle science and can already talk to pheasants and deer. What's more, they talk back!

TRASE - has entered her sixth month of impending motherhood and is sparkling.

BILL FROM WNNCO - sent this cartoon, which appears to have been much forwarded. It may reflect his attitudes towards Bush:

[clicking on the picture may enlarge it]

SCOT - served as Best Man this week and discovered that he really loved the role. He planned a canoe outing, a golf outing, a bachelor party, and served as a regular all-around gopher for the groom. He wonders if there is a job opportunity as a professional best man.

JIM and MARILYN - have been married 45 years!

JOSE - brought a new suit from Paraguay and wore it for the first time to the Walhalla wedding. Oops, he got too close to a candle and now ... holy jacket, Batman!

FELIX - has proven to be a great house guest, especially if the hosts aren't home.

MARSHA - got some new shoes. Those of you who know her can admire the stylishness. Those of you who don't can just move along.

SPARTY - many of us have enjoyed watching some of the Olympics, but SPARTY is expressing dismay at the level of nationalism involved in the games. He just wants to see the good athletes. He doesn't want to know about their parentage, or sing their anthems.

DASHMANN- regaled friends with stories of experiences in women's bathrooms, occasionally wearing a ski mask.

BUD - after a few gin and tonics, he has won a badge of courage by stumbling into a low table on a dark deck.

IRISH MIKE - In the wake of John Edwards' confessions to adultery, MIKE reminds us once again of the Truman adage that "Democrats get caught with their pants down, Republicans get caught with their hands in your pockets."

Monday Morning Friends Report Part I. (More to Come) August 18, 2008

A weather super-cell passed through here ;last evening dropping a ton of needed rain in just a half hour. There was no disturbance, however, for the woodland wedding that took place along the banks of the Pere Marquette this weekend near Walhalla, Michigan. Brenda and 5teve were married in a very sweet ceremony that was one of the best ever.

Frinds Report -- more scenes from a wedding

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunday evening

Home again.
Brenda and Steven were married on a sunny Saturday evening on the banks of the Pere Marquette River in the forests of Western Michigan.

More news and postings coming soon.

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker


Thursday, August 14, 2008

For what it's worth --

My Opinion, for what it's worth:
Surprise! The Russian Bear Scratches.

Condi Rice is supposed to be the expert in Russian politics. That's what she taught at Denver and that was her major area of study. Then, why have we been so blind-sided by the Russians in their invasion of Georgia? This was obviously planned well in advance. Putin left the Olympics where he and Bush were kissing up to each other in order to be near the battle front, as he had done with Chechnya. Putin is not a nice man and he is very manipulative and clever. Way too clever for our 'decider.'

Putin has been turning the country of Russia away from democracy and back into dictatorship. He's been suppressing the independent media and manipulating elections. He has been rebuilding Russian military might.

Do you suppose he told Bush what he was up to? I doubt it. Do you suppose Condi ever told him that the Russians are bears and will scratch? And Bush's government wouldn't have known in advance. Even if the CIA had given some warning, he has a tendency to skew the information in any direction he chooses; to disregard plain facts.

Bush has played the game of power-politics. He tried to surround the Russians with nations friendly to us and hostile to them. He plotted to put missiles in Central Europe. He turned former Russian allies into members of NATO. This is the neo-con attitude towards other countries - do whatever you want and to hell with them. If they threaten you, ignore them. Wouldn't he suppose the Russians will play that game, too?

Did he really think the Russians would never push back?

And they may not be done, either.

See more cartoons from Michael Ramirez here: CLICK

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Michael Orozco's Idiot Behavior dooms Americans

This is Michael Orozco, a member of the U.S. Men's Olympic Soccer Team being thrown out of a game this morning. It was a game the U.S. needed to tie or win, and they should have been able to win.

When you play 86 minutes short one player, you give the other team a hellish advantage. The Nigeria side won 2-1. The Olympics are over for the American Men.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Here are 2 pictures taken at the Olympic games. Can you identify these subjects? Send an email, or post a comment below.

The Intrepid "Decider" Speaks

Bush about the Russian military invasion of Georgian Republic:

" A dangerous excalation... "

Comment: Every time we turn around, it seems, some big country is excalating.  

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Morning Friends Report, August 11, 2008

Disappointed that no one has responded to Sparty's article on Sunday, below.

What's going on with some friends

FELIX and PILOT - are thinking they may be married on the Appalachian Trail, a hiking trail which runs from Maine to Georgia, and near the location where they met. Such a romantic idea!

IRISH MIKE and AMY - welcome their son home from Europe where he spent time studying and traveling. If you want to know a great bar in Ireland, try the "American" bar on Inishmore. (Can't wait to gather my friends and go.)

THE SNIDES - has won his primary election and as he says, "unless I forget to vote in November I should be elected" ( because no one is running against him in the general election.) Congratulations on the County Commission win.

What some folks are talking about

MARSHA - is upset that the University of Southern California has been granted " more rights to" the initials "SC" than the University of South Carolina has. As she points out, the University of South Carolina was in existence before the whole State of California was even thought of (or even owned by the U.S. for that matter.) It remains to be seen if South Carolina can continue to use the initials on uniforms and in promotions. CLICK

BUD - has been proud to hear the University of Michigan so often mentioned in reference to Americas swimming champions at the Olympics.

BILL FROM WNNCO - is recommending SMILE TRAIN, an organization that provides free surgery for children around the world who has cleft palates or other oral disfigurement. As he says, "If you are thinking of a good charity to which you can donate, this is one that merits consideration. All of the monies (as reported to me) go to the actual operations. The reward seems to be tangible and we are not supporting the lavish lifestyle of many of the CEO's of other larger charities."


SPARTY - noted the conviction of Osama bin Laden's driver and says, sarcastically: "Let's see - the U.S. military held Osama Bin Laden's driver in the Gitmo gulag for 5 years, and after a trial by a military commission in which hearsay evidence and evidence obtained from torture could be used, he was convicted of being Bin Laden's driver - something he admitted to all along. I don't know about you, but I appreciate these efforts to protect me."

Sparty - also raises the possibility that certain American leaders may not be safe from arrest if they travel to some foreign countries after they leave office. They may get arrested for war crimes.

CHRIS - noting the picky charges being brought against Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick, says this: "It reminds me of Al Capone being convicted of tax evasion versus his other crimes."

DASHMANN - is thinking about the Olympic games and is worried that "Something terrible not related to sports is going to happen at this years Olympics..." Let's hope he's wrong.

What some Folks are Smiling About

DIG S - The George W. Bush Female Athlete Inspection Continues


JERRY - The "Hillbilly Ten Commandments"
(1) Just one God
(2) Put nothin' before God
(3) Git yourself to Sunday meetin'
(4) Watch yer mouth
(5) Honor yer Ma & Pa
(6) No killin'
(7) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal
(8) No tellin' tales or gossipin'
(9) Don't take what ain't yers
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff

JERRY - That Military Sense of Humor:

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Have any of the rest of you noticed how much calmer and peaceful is the country these days? I wonder if it has anything to do with Bush's absence. He's still in China, and there's a chance he may never find his way home.

SPARTY analyzes MSU and UM football prospects:

Thanks to our good friend SPARTY for the following thoughts about football this fall:

MSU: The Spartans have somewhat more depth than they've had in recent years - except at the key position of quarterback where they have a red-shirt freshman with no game experience backing up the senior starter, Brian Hoyer. An injury to Hoyer could be disastrous for the team's prospects.

In general, however, Coach Mark Dantonio has added stability to a program that has been anything but stable over the past several years/decades. The defense should be better than last year and the offense should improve as the year progresses. Replacing receiver Devon Thomas will be the major issue. Special teams should be solid.

The Spartans are probably a year or two away from being a solid contender for the Big Ten championship, but this team is close. Every loss last year was close - two of them in overtime, and recruiting has improved significantly.

My guess for the Spartan's record for 2008: 7-5
UM: A number of different theories about the Wolverines. They've lost their quarterback, best running back, best offensive lineman, and several key defensive players to the NFL. Plus, they have a new coach who brings a new offensive system that may not mesh with the players recruited by the previous coaching staff.

However, the new coach was very successful at West Virginia and he brings his spread offense to a team that typically has had a solid recruiting class every year. The cupboard should not be bare.

There are some questions, though. Will the spread offense work in the Big 10? Northwestern, Purdue, and Michigan State (in the John L. Smith years) have used it with varying degrees of success, as did App State last September. Can it be successful in the long run against solid defensive teams such as Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State?

With the hiring of Rich Rodriquez the Bo Schembechler era is now over. By hiring Rodriquez, Michigan has changed the personality of its program. Some say that this is good because the program had become stale. However, Nebraska's adoption of a passing offense after decades of basing its program on tough defense and a brutal running game was disastorous and indicates that there are dangers in a football program drastically changing its personality.

My guess for the Wolverine's record for 2008: 8-4
Readers: Add you Comments, please.  They are welcome. 

Sunday silly Sites

Map: Age of consent. At what age you can seduce them. CLICK

Mustaches on Rock Stars: top 10 according to some guy. CLICK

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wacko of the Week, August 9, 2008

PHREDD FELPS (no relation to the Olympic swimmer Michael who is by contrast a nice guy)

This wacko is the chief maniac at a building in Kansas called the Westboro Baptist Church, whose primary calling seems to be to harrass "fags" as they refer to the homosexuals of the world. They appear at events all around the country and wave insulting placards, and hurl nasty loud jibes at people.

God punishes this week's WACKO --
1. A fence and garage on the grounds of his own personal hate-channeling "church" was set afire this week by the warning hand of God. CLICK

2. The Canadian government has refused to allow members of the group into Canada to protest against Canadian humanist policies concerning abortion and homosexuality. These are the baby-killers and fags the "church" detests.

It is known, however, that a few members sneaked into Canada anyhow, but may be too frightened to hold their protest at the funeral of a young man recently beheaded on a Greyhound bus by one of the world's other great wackos.

It has been reported that Felpps refers to his organization as "A Primitive Baptist Church." In this regard he seems to have reflected God's intent exactly. Evidently most of the members of his hate group church are members of his own family. CLICK here for a site well-worth looking at

We, under the Birches, have no complaint about Mr. Flip's attitudes toward anything. This is, after all a democracy. What we are NOT is a theocracy, so we don't necessarily do things the way some religious wacko pleases.

The members of this group have protested at military funerals, court sites, hospitals and anywhere else they might get attention for their feelings.

Mr. Fhlaps has been quoted as saying that the burning of his garage is a "hate crime," and we are certainly willing to give him that argument, because if anyone knows hate, he does!

ANTHONY WORRALL THOMPSON - noted British chef, says he meant to suggest using the weed "fat hen" a member of the spinach family whose leaves are edible, to add to salads. He instead told Healthy and Organic Living magazine for its July edition that "henbane" could be used in salads. Henbane, whose name means "killer of hens," is a toxic plant that can cause hallucinations, drowsiness and disorientation if ingested. Large doses can kill. Ooops! CLICK

J.C. Foster of Washington State - arrested early today for fondling himself while following a garbage truck. CLICK

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Thousand Points of Fight, August 8, 2008

The wonder of democracy is the ample opportunity to fight over stuff. Wouldn't have it any other way, would we? Here are a few of BIRCHES' ineffectual jabs ---

NBC - messed up the presentation of the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing this evening, by running a slew  of commercials that cut the program into a hundred little bits of  color and sound accompanied by the constant background yammering of Bob Costas. 

Meanwhile, a couple of billion people in the poor and backward countries of the world watched the ceremonies uninterrupted.  Sometimes the miracle of American culture is too disgusting to tolerate. Under the Birches, we gave up trying to watch this mess.  Hope the rest of you poor slobs liked it better than we did. 

OSSETIA - Americans don't known anything about this place.  Watch out! If the Bush bunch starts trying to convince you that it's somehow in our interest who wins this war, hide your young sons and daughters. 

REPUBLICANS - we hear today that Bush and Cheney are both going to speak on the same evening at the Republican convention.  Now there's a treat!  It's hard to imagine a greater serving of bullshit and bologna all in one lethal dose.  BIRCHES' advice is to watch Simpson reruns and catch up with the Convention highlights next morning on the cable news. 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Goodbye "Digger" Dowling


Another hero of the 'good war' has departed
The Great Escape. Read the story: CLICK

They're Coming to Take Me Away (File #26)

Preacher Thomas Howell, the founder of First Commandment Church of the Living God in East Walnut Hills (go ahead, snicker), somewhere in the general neighborhood of Cincinnati Ohio, waved a gun at a lady in another car and got himself rushed into court.

We can't say how devoutly the First Commandment is observed in the good preacher's church (or life) but he has evidently forgotten this one: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

Pastor Tom says he didn't point a gun, but the court wasn't buying it. "I think that the only reason Ms. Evans would know that (Howell) had a gun in the vehicle is that he pointed it at her," Judge Greenberg said Monday. He declared Howell guilty.

How long will they keep a 71 year old sanctimonious liar in jail? Maybe 6 months.

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker (55)

Umbrella Failure 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

BILL FROM WNNCO comments on what the fat cats are up to, now

Note 1: Below Bill's remarks, there is a quotation from an article entitled "Companies Tap Pension Plans To Fund Executive Benefits"

These people feel what they do is technically correct therefore it is justifiable. This allows them to live with themselves while reaping monies that they really do not deserve. They do not own the company. They have no risk.

My son Christopher [who has worked in corporate organization] again emphasized that the problem with the business world today is the incompetent and ethically bankrupt senior management.

It is truly unfortunate that there is not an atmosphere of self governance for these corporations so that a governmental agency does not have to be created to oversee their operations. I think this is just part of the "human condition".

The good old boys have done it to us again.

Companies Tap Pension Plans To Fund Executive Benefits
Little-Known Move Uses Tax Break Meant For Rank and File

August 4, 2008; Page A1

At a time when scores of companies are freezing pensions for their workers, some are quietly converting their pension plans into resources to finance their executives' retirement benefits and pay.

In recent years, companies from Intel Corp. to CenturyTel Inc. collectively have moved hundreds of millions of dollars of obligations for executive benefits into rank-and-file pension plans. This lets companies capture tax breaks intended for pensions of regular workers and use them to pay for executives' supplemental benefits and compensation.

The practice has drawn scant notice. A close examination by The Wall Street Journal shows how it works and reveals that the maneuver, besides being a dubious use of tax law, risks harming regular workers. It can drain assets from pension plans and make them more likely to fail. Now, with the current bear market in stocks weakening many pension plans, this practice could put more in jeopardy.


Olympic soccer note

The U.S. Women's
Soccer Team was defeated today by Norway, 2-0. The team seemed leaderless and undisciplined without top player Abby Wambach (broken leg). This is only the second time the US women have lost an Olympics game. The last time was also to Norway in 2000.

The U.S. Men’s
Olympic Team is ready to kick off its campaign at the 2008 Olympic Games, taking on Japan in the Group B opener on Thursday, Aug. 7, at 5 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) from Tianjin Olympic Sport Stadium in Tianjin, China. The game, one day before the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing, will be shown live on MSNBC, the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel and Universal HD.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A fool asks a foolish question

Um-m-m That would be me!

I have decided that I'm too stupid to understand the controversy over the "race card" in this election. Actually, I have been deep into stupidity for quite some time now. It's sort of like crack cocaine, in some confused metaphoric sense. Once you start using stupidity - snorting it, huffing it, shooting it, or smoking it - you become addicted.

I keep hearing one side or the other say that the other guy is playing a race card, or THE race card.

Now, here's what I don't understand. No one has to tell me that McCain is white or that Obama is black. Hadn't you noticed it, too? If you didn't know this, Obama will tell you. So what's the card to play? Or, does this mean that McCain is threatening to run against Obama because he's a black man? I don't believe it! McCain is no racist. There are lots of old unreconstructed bigots running around, like Tom Delay, but John McC isn't one of them.

Or does it mean that Obama is making an overt effort to attract black votes? Well, duh-h.

Some one explain this to me, please, but be patient. Lately, I'm slow as hell.

Poking Fun at the Candidates (3)

Jabs with a real point ...

Lots of hot air and no gas? 
from John Trever
See more of his work here: CLICK

Monday, August 4, 2008

Quiz: Those mustaches

Last week's quiz.

Several people submitted guesses, but no one had them all right.

These were the people to whom the whiskers belonged:
1. Santa Claus
2. Geraldo Rivera
3. Dr. Phil McGraw
4. Heath Ledger

Thanks to everyone who participated.

Monday Morning Friends Report, August 4, 2008

What a fine summer it has turned into here in mid Michigan. Sandy has canned a number of things and the Woodses are planning on it. A friend of many of us has received cancer treatments and everyone is pulling for him to get better fast, and we're taking this as good news. Keep us informed.

BRENDA - has planned a bachlorette gathering at a lakeside villa.

SCOT - threw a golf outing and party for STEVE in honor of his bachelorhood's end. A good time and lots of foul comments were enjoyed by all. (See pictures below.)

MARSHA - says it's too hot in Carolina.

FELIX - has gotten engaged. Congratulations! -- and everyone who has followed some of his exploits on BIRCHES, can add your advice and congrats and wisdom in the comments here.

PAT W - is in the mood to reveal past secrets. Seems when she was in college, she almost joined the Women's Army Corps, and in fact went to Forth Wayne to get the physical. Why? Wanted to see the world.

ALICE - has received some more very good and welcomed news. This time, it comes with a dollar sign attached. After a run of bad luck, July has been a 'winner.'

SANDY - has quit her part time job because it was turning into a full time job. This is what happens when you do excellent work.

STEVE - unmercifully attacked by chiggers. It's all in the nature of his job, of course, but this was a bad episode. He says the thing about chiggers is that you don't know you've been bitten a hunded times until it's too late to stop it.

SKUZZA and DASHMANN - took friends to a bluegrass concert in Ann Arbor. Great musicianship.

What some folks are smiling about

click may enlarge pic

What some friends are reading and talking about

VARIOUS FRIENDS; Have received an email claiming that Mars and Earth are coming very close to each other in August. This is not true. It was true five years ago.

DASHMANN - 1. Detroit's 'closing pitcher' Fernando Rodney, doesn't deserve NO respect.

2. Cogent review of the movie BATMAN:DARK KNIGHT:
Heath Ledger was a great Joker. Other than that, good effects etc. About a half hour too long for me and I like long movies. I have my limitations on watching stuff get blown up since 9-11 I guess.

He has devised a LAW OF HUMAN DYNAMICS which says, "All social interactions can be explained by one - or both - of these 2 principles:
1. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
2. It's just part of the human condition."

DIG S - reading this article from SLATE CLICK referring to the tendency of media and politicians to confuse that which is fictional with that which is true, in this case, respecting our torture "policy":

John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who produced the so-called torture memos—simultaneously redefining both the laws of torture and logic—cites Bauer in his book War by Other Means. "What if, as the popular Fox television program '24' recently portrayed, a high-level terrorist leader is caught who knows the location of a nuclear weapon?" Even Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking in Canada last summer, shows a gift for this casual toggling between television and the Constitution. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Scalia said. "Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?"

Pretty bone chilling when one of the justices of the US Supreme court uses a fictitious character from a TV show to justify torture. Earth to justice Scalia and John Yoo. Lets base our legal judgement on reality. What's next? Other justices randomly picking other fictional characters for their legal judgements.

Reminds us of the days when Reagan used to use quotations from movies and treat them as actual statements.

The problem now is that the country is in massive debt, so where’s the money going to come from for the infrastructure and health care investments under the New “New Deal”? Think of the billions that have been squandered in Iraq, money going to private contractors and mercenaries with no accountability, and it makes you want to scream.

I read an interesting book recently that linked the rise of overzealous patriotism with the growing inequality and poverty. Probably not an earth-shattering proposition, but sadly some people are so powerless that they cling to what they can put their faith in – that is the mantra that they are free and live in the greatest country in the world. To suggest otherwise, ie to suggest that they are getting a raw deal, shatters that belief. So they go on voting for the conservatives even though they are being screwed by them.

In most countries in the developed world, universal health care is considered a right of citizens. The US has a much stronger tradition of self-reliance, which makes selling social programs more difficult than in other countries.

Some snapshots

A minnow removed from the spring
Palm Book State Park, Michigan


Sending another bachelor off to the arms of marriage:
Grand Rapids, Michigan