Friday, July 30, 2010

Friends Report - July 30

ALICE = is out campaigning for Jerry Campbell for U.S. Congress, a guy she found she agreed with so much, she became an ardent supporter. She's having a busy summer, including tending a new garden this year, which is, BTW, a success.

FELIX - has been hiking in New England where he and his crew including PILOT have hiked up and down Mt. Washington, among other challenges.

SPARTY - the word is that he entered his famous guacamole into a contest and didn't get a singe vote. Even he didn't vote for it, they say.

SANDY - Many of the people who are our friends are strong family people, and none more so than SANDY, who is off to distant places often with her wonderful family. Lately, it's been North Carolina, but we hear she's home and will be at coffee next next. Good. We all miss her.

MARI - where?

Pic: WYATT grows. He has passed 13 pounds after just 2 months of life. Could it be mother's cooking?


IRISH MIKE - for a rower, he seems to spend a lot of time swimming, if you catch our drift, most recently in Ann Arbor, where an up-sided boat led to his saving someone else's life. This is a cool-headed guy and a good friend to have.

MARSHA - has recently cleared a background check and was allowed into a speech/meeting with Joe Biden. Here's her report:
It wasn't actually a meeting. I was one of about a thousand in the
audience. I did have VIP seating however. Biden claimed to be quoting
Fritz Hollings when he referred to "a blinking mess." Making a joke
over NOT swearing. He really did a wonderful job. He praised Graham
and Hollings and the state of SC and the University. He spoke casually
but was clearly very prepared. Quotes from Irish poets. Anyway it was
pretty neat.


pic: MANGUTZ CREW -- caught mid-stop at the Saginaw County Fair.


pic: BRENDA - in one of the many places she does magic. Thanks for the venison and pasta, a great recipe. She is starting a new job soon. Good luck in this endeavor.

TRASE and SCOT and LIAM and MARIA - are homeward bound from a trip to the West. They must be in the mountains, because their cell phones are out of touch.

DOUG and KAYE - are home from an annual vacation in Maine.

BILL FROM WNNCO - has been racing, with some victories this summer. What he should do more of instead of working, methinks.

pic: PAT - loves to play with her kids. (at the fair, 2010)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The MLS all stars played a good game against Manchester United, but did not have the smooth teamwork that a side with more practice time would have had, and they suffered from some bad defensive blunders. Final score 5-2 in favor of Man U.

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Noted without further comment

What TonyHayward gets for leaving BP job:

will pay him 1.045 million pounds ($1.6 million), a year's salary, instead of the year's notice he was entitled to.

"On top of the payout, Hayward retains his rights to shares under a long-term performance program which could eventually be worth several million pounds if BP's share price recovers. The stock has lost around 35 percent, or $60 billion, in market value to around $116 billion since the well explosion. The stock started out marginally higher on Tuesday, but was trading almost 1 percent lower at 413.35 pence in afternoon trade on the London Stock Exchange.

Hayward, who will remain on the board until Nov. 30, will also be entitled to draw an annual pension of 600,000 pounds ($900,000) from a pension pot valued at around 11 million pounds."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fluff: Something I never knew before


Hands up those who know what a mondegreen is. No takers? OK - it's a mishearing of a phrase, most often in a song, that results in the listener interpreting something unintended. C'mon, 'fess up - we've all been victims of that at some point, often in childhood.

The term comes from a stanza in a poem: Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands, | Oh, where hae ye been? | They hae slain the Earl O' Moray, | And Lady Mondegreen. In fact, the last line is And laid him on the green. Clearly, we needed a word for this phenomenon and, English being what it is, the term "mondegreen" entered the language.


no further comment

Friday, July 23, 2010

corruption-- names

I agree with Carl Bernstein that the present Congress is "personally and institutionally corrupt." I am quite sure it's getting worse, day by day. E.g, Charlie Rangel, Democrat, one of the people I once had huge respect for, is now about to be tried by the Ethics Committee. It is comforting to know that in Congress, there is still an Ethics Committee.

Now, CREW has printed a list of the eleven candidates for Congress whom it considers to be most corrupt. Go here and read it: CLICK

Is Obama a Success?

I have had forwarded to me an article entitled:
Obama Will Triumph, So Will America

Here is the opening of the article:
Before he could serve even one year, President Obama lost the support of the easily distracted left and engendered the white hot rage of the hate-filled right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds - including this white, straight, 57-year-old, former religious right wing agitator, now progressive writer and (given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader) this unlikely Obama supporter… are sticking with our President. Why… because he is succeeding?

We, the faithful Obama supporters, still trust our initial impression of him as a great, good, and uniquely qualified man to lead us.

You can read all of it here: CLICK

Since receiving this story, I have had a couple of comments from people about Obama. One of them from DASHMANN says this, in reference to the Shirley Sherrod smear: "The fear mongers were so skillful, even the President of the United States was fooled on this one. I'm very disappointed in Obama -- he makes it tough on us when we're trying to defend him to some of our mis-guided right-wing colleagues."

SPARTY said this, with reference to a claim in the article about Obama's education policy: "I don't necessarily disagree with the overall thrust of this essay, but "an education system in free fall" that Obama has dealt with by "standing up for education reform" is very simplistic. Obama's education policies are little more than warmed-over Bush policies, and no more successful. Those who are interested in a thoughtful analysis of the Bush and Obama education plans would benefit from reading recent comments by Diane Ravitch, a one-time education adviser to Bush I and II."


I have never been afflicted by Obamania. I voted for him and I support many of his policies. Here, I would like to welcome anyone else who comes to BIRCHES to read the article and make any comments you wish.

Again, you can read all of the article here: CLICK There is a long list of claims of Obama success in just his first year of office. Check it out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Shirley Sherrod Debacle

Vince Foster was a good and close friend of the Clintons. He became an Assistant to the President whose main job was seeking out competent, talented people for appointment to government positions. He eventually fell into depression and committed suicide.

Famously, he left behind a note expressing his belief that ruining people was considered a "sport" by other people in Washington D.C. Immediately, the right-wing lying establishment went to work. They began by besmirching the reputation of Mr. Foster -- but not content to stop there, they proceeded to accuse Hillary of having a covert sexual relationship with Foster and then accused her of killing him. It was said that Hillary secretly maintained a love nest somewhere in Washington where Vince and she could meet.

The far-out conservatives of the country own most of the scandal mags that you will see by the checkout counters of your supermarket. They also own a bunch of behind the scenes websites whose task it is to create out of any little indicator, another large scandal about liberals and progressive ideas. Having fabricated the absurd, they then disperse it throughout the culture.

Nearly everyday, I get literature through e-mail which contains some extrapolation or tortuous extension of some little datum point, maybe it's a quotation, which then is built into an insult against a person in government, or it gives a fictitious account of something in the policy field.

Now, those scandal monsters have been forced to apologize.

One of the evil wingnut liars has contrived to destroy the career of a perfectly decent, well-educated, intelligent government worker named Shirley Sherrod in order to further the idiotic notion that since Obama became president, black against white racism has taken over the government. This comes hard on the heels of the story floated around last week (or was it this week -- or two weeks ago?) that Al Gore had sexually assaulted a mid-night masseuse in a hotel somewhere.

Anyone who falls weakly into believing most of the shit generated by the right-wing malefactors is foolish themself, and I hope that does not include any of my readers or friends. As soon as a new "scandal" or "exclusive report" is announced next week about some liberal or some progressive policy, remember this: perpetrating this nonsense is sinful and God will get-cha for it.

As for Shirley Sherrod, she has turned out to be a lady of so much more class, so much more intelligence, so much more quality of thought, than her detractors have proven to be, that we should elevate her to the status of folk hero.

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Friends at the Ark.

Main Street, Ann Arbor. Summer eve.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

a friends update

After an adventurous trip across country, TRASE, SCOT and LIAM, and friends, have reached the coast of California where they're spending a week in a rented house. "Beautiful" they say, and the rest of us are trying hard not to be jealous.

Here's a reminder

BIRCHES is happy to allow friends to express their opinions on here. If you send me a point of view, I usually run it, or an expression of it. I don 't ridicule and I don't distort what you say, although I might not always agree. If I see spelling errors, I try to correct them.

an update

Hartford, Conn.

After drawing 1-1 with Sweden earlier in the week, the No.-1 ranked U.S. put on an impressive display against the fourth-ranked team in the world as Megan Rapinoe ignited the scoring when she finished off a rebound in the 33rd minute and Abby Wambach scored career goals No. 108 and 109 with her head.


Sunday, July 18, 2010


If you are voting in the Democratic primary, let me recommend Virge Bernero for governor. Of course, you should find out something about the candidates, which is a lot harder when your newspaper only hits the streets a few times a week.

belly-button contemplation July 18

1. Many roads are under repair around here these days. A lot of this work is a result of the stimulus money out of Washington. While it's often inconvenient (for example both ends of our street have been effectively shut off for the time being) it is great to have the repairs finally happening, although this is a drop in the bucket for a community where virtually ever street and road is in bad condition.

2. Good things are happening in the Michigan economy. We have so far to go, but I really think the politicians are right who are pushing for new "green" energy industries in this state.

3. I confess that when, the other night, I was coming home at 1 a.m. and got stopped at a light where there was not another car in sight, I simply started up and ran the red light. Well, I was really tired and feeling rebellious. I know this probably contributes to the decline and collapse of civilization.

4. For me, this has been a good summer, weatherwise. I like the warm temperatures, shorts and T-shirts, people on the streets and sidewalks, kids out playing, the outdoor events around town. All so much better than winter. Oh, yeah, and I really enjoy watching thunderstorms.

5. Our good friends, Herpe and Skuzza took us to a bluegrass concert featuring the Cheryholmes Family. It was an extremely talented group, and we all enjoyed their music, their humor, and their versatility. .

6. This is what my cat typed while carefully crossing my keyboard. y777777777777777777777777777888 - -------

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The "Loyal" (but confused) Opposition

This billboard has been seen around the country. Click on it to enlarge it. I am neither fearful nor naive and am able to see right wing absurd propaganda even before it hits me ov er the head.

Friday, July 16, 2010

After I pointed out their error ("staunch" for "stanch") Reuters changed their story. (Oh if only I had such influence.)

belly-button contemplation

Here's some stuff about us:

1. I just learned the word "absquatulate"
2. Dashmanns are taking us to a concert. It's bluegrass. This should be fun.
3. Pat looks fine in her new PJ's.
4. We are planning a short all-family vacation up north.
5. I am going to vote in the Democratic primary this year. I often vote in the Republican primary instead. If I can figure out how the Bushes do it, I may vote in both. Several times. Of course, it helps if the governor were in on the deal.
6. I really don't give a Fiddler's Fart about Lindsay Lohan's alcoholic adventures.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

dumb headlines today

BP faces more delays in bid to staunch oil flow

CLICK (The word is "stanch")

US transfers last prison under its control to Iraq

CLICK (This is just simply wrong. They still own Folsom, for example.)

friends update

Email from SCOT SW who is westward ho!

"We're all alive and well as of Sioux Falls, SD. As we crossed Minnesota early Tuesday a.m., we passed by a huge field of at least three dozen wind turbines, churning out power in a lake of fog. They looked almost magical in the first light, seeming to float untethered on a lake of clouds. We arrived mid-morning Tuesday, and spent the day napping and catching up with [friends] ...We'll be off this morning in the general direction of Denver, with a stop at Mt. Rushmore ... "

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

strange occurrence

Something strange and unusual has happened in the world of sport. The US Women's Soccer Team actually lost a lead in a game and ended up tying with Sweden. This is the most successful team of athletes in America. (This was the first time in seven years that the American women gave up a lead.)

Monday, July 12, 2010


What are people SUPPOSED to make of gangs that call themselves "Islamists" and creep into other countries and blow things up, including hundreds of people doing nothing more antagonistic than watching a football game?

What is the point of it? What was the aim? What was the beneficial outcome? Why did someone go to all that trouble? This is not like a US warship parked in Yemen, or a US military barracks in the Middle East, or even the financial center of the U.S. in New York. There is some line of weird thinking that might lead us to those kinds of acts. But a publlic square in Uganda? What the hell does that mean?

Are these followers of Islam, or not? People in leadership all over the world like to say, "This is not really Islam," or, "This is not faith, this is a few criminals pretending to be holy." Etc.

Enlighten me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Ugly Game

Around the world, in other places than America, soccer is often called "The Beautiful Game" but the game played today was no such thing.

When the match started, I had no favorite but was feeling hopeful for the Dutch team, representing a small country and being very successful recently. It was a sort of underdog choice. That quickly changed. The Netherlands played an ugly and violent form of soccer, and there was in my eyes nothing commendable about their performance. Spain ended up the victor after the Dutch were given a record number of "cards". Good. This game won no new friends for the sport.

what some friends are saying

1. STEVE was making a complex argument about the need for much more governmental regulation of business and industry, and saying everyone knew there would be a disaster with these offshore drilling operations, there have been before now, and that the corporations involved in this will have to be forced to do planning against this kind of thing. They won't do it of their own accord. And they need plans for dealing with such disasters when they occur. He says only the government can compel them to it, they certainly won't do it themselves. Steve also argues that a bunch of people should be in jail. This includes people in the government who should have been regulating this industry properly, at the MMS.

2. SPARTY has sent along an article by David Sarota that argues for higher taxes, especially higher marginal tax rates, (which is levied on those with higher incomes.)

Excerpt: "Though the Reagan zeitgeist created the illusion that taxes stunt economic growth, the numbers prove that higher marginal tax rates generate more resources for the job-creating, wage-generating public investments (roads, bridges, broadband, etc.) that sustain an economy. They also create economic incentives for economy-sustaining capital investment. Indeed, the easiest way wealthy business owners can avoid high-bracket tax rates is by plowing their profits back into their businesses and taking the corresponding write-off rather than simply pocketing the excess cash and paying an IRS levy." CLICK HERE FOR THE SHORT ARTICLE

3. SCOT was making an argument that many people say the Catholic Church is not responsible for the child abuse discovered, but that it's a problem with a few bad priests. He says this has been going on a long time and all over the world, and that an organization which cannot get right the job of protecting children and disciplining those who hurt children has failed its most basic duty and has no claim on the behavior of the rest of us. "If they can't do that right, then they can't be expected to get anything else right."

Friday, July 9, 2010

my sentiments exactly!

I confess that I don't care where anyone plays basketball. I guess that's because I'm not a fan of professional basketball. But if I were, I still wouldn't think anyone is worth all that moolah or hoopla (pun intended). Not even a banker or a crooked politician.

why should we?

As I channel hop through the talk shows this morning, all of which are on one form of "news" channel or another, I note a general agreement that the Democrats are going to lose the November election and may even lose control of the House of Representatives.

Historically, it's common for the party in control to lose congressional seats in non-Presidential election years. But that is not the whole story, I think.

Why should they be re-elected? What have the accomplished? It's not hard to see whose interests they have been serving in the past two years, and for average voters, it isn't them. I remember well that after George Bush's people stole the election in 2000, Democrats fell all over themselves trying to help that man with his outrageous plans --- rewarding the wealthy with huge tax cuts, invading Iraq, knocking down governmental regulation of the banking and finance industries, borrowing billions from foreign countries. Now that they are in power, what have the accomplished? Whose interests have they served?

So, let me ask: Why should we bother to vote Democratic?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

a few thoughts

1. During the last winter we often heard people say things like, "Four more inches of snow. And they say there's 'global warming.' How can that be when it's so cold?"

I wonder if those same people are convinced by this record hot spell that truly there is global warming. Actually, they would be just as wrong as they were last winter. The problem is, as my son keeps pointing out, climate and weather are not the same thing. Today's conditions are weather. Any short period is weather. Climate is the difference between Florida and, let's say, New York, as observed over a long period of time.

2. Technology is changing the conditions of sports contests. Now, for example, you don't need to wonder if the umpire was correct when he calls balls and strikes. There are machine now that image the pitches and profess to show if the ball is within the strike zone.

At the World's Cup, the number and accuracy of the cameras and computers is threatening the integrity of officials as well. They can show whether someone was off-side from six angles, put up a computer generated model of the plays, and draw geometrically accurate lines and spaces to prove it. This "reality" has resulted in the Cup TV coverage no longer doing large screen replays at the stadiums. The risk of rioting is too real.

3. On days like this, hot and sunny, the most popular place in the neighborhood seems to be our birdbath. It needs to be replenished four times a day. The robins are the most enthusiastic non-paying customers. But te welcome sign is always posted for them. It's the starlings that are "avis non-grata."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Some things friends are paying attention to

1. MARGARET sent this very funny assessment of Libertarianism. I would print it, but you need to see it full size to be able to easily appreciate it. CLICK

2. MARSHA is frolicking in the huge success of her favorite team, the South Carolina Men's Baseball Team which won the College World Series in Omaha this week.

3. SPARTY sent commentary about the shallowness of the national media, especially those in the White House, who care nothing about the issue, they care about the newsworthiness of the emotional reaction to the issue. It's not the oil in the Gulf that matters to them, it's the President's level of anger they want to report on. CLICK

1. I don't believe Al Gore sexually assaulted a masseuse. Or anyone. (Maybe he inkled a proposition, but I'm skeptical of even that.) Democrats are as horny as anyone, but the Al Gore thing doesn't sound credible to me.

2. I have enjoyed watching soccer grow and expand in the U.S. Now, I'm not excited about it continuing to become a bigger and bigger sport. I like it as a little brother to baseball, football, basketball, hockey. Crass American commercialism will probably ruin this sport just like it has other major sports. The LeBron James madness is a good example of what's in store for soccer. And they will have to stop the game every 3 minutes to have 2 minutes worth of commercials.

3. I listened with great interest to Senator John Cornyn's emotional discussion of the loss of freedom in America in the last 30 years. This was part of his questioning of Elena Kagan yesterday. I believe he believes what he says.
But, I also believe he's wrong. My experience has been entirely different. I think that life in America is more free than it used to be. Maybe that's because I haven't been trying to defend the same values he has. For example, he is a wealthy man from one of America's most right-wing states. Rich white men from the south have probably lost a lot of their easy social dominance. I wonder why.