October 31, 2009

Lines on ale

Happy Halloween!

Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain —
Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.--Edgar Allan Poe

October 30, 2009

Who'd a thunk it?

I don't know about you, but the struggle over health care reform seems to have gone on forever. Watching it and participating in it whenever I could has often reminded me of the Iliad as the tide of battle went first this way and that. At crucial points in Homer's epic, Zeus would bring out his golden scales and weigh the fate of mortals in its balance.

During August and September, it looked like the scales went against the public option and maybe the whole shebang. Those were strange days, with bizarre rumors of death panels and rampant paranoia and conspiracy theories. I attended a few of those contentious town hall meetings and they were as weird in person as they were on TV. It was all Whackadoodle all the time for a while.

I've mentioned this before, but my strangest memory of the fight is something that happened at a public meeting in southern West Virginia hosted by Congressman Nick Rahall. When a priest was giving the opening prayer and saying something obviously Bolshevik about caring for our brothers and sisters, a teabagger heckled, saying something like "How much are you getting paid?"

But the tide finally turned again. Across the country, people worked hard to push for real reform. Getting the public option back on the table has been a real victory, although anything could happen.

The House plan was revealed yesterday and votes are still being counted on the Senate's version. I guess the goal at this point is to getting something passed by Christmas.

There is going to be plenty more work to do to make this happen, but there is some motion in the right direction.


RECESSION AND RECOVERY. Here's Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com on the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and what remains to be done.

I RESEMBLE THAT REMARK. El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia ranks last for getting enough sleep.

THIS WOULD EXPLAIN A LOT. Is there a gene for bad driving?


October 29, 2009

May Ceiling Cat be with you

Wu is a true believer.

Off and on lately, Goat Rope has been monitoring the progress (perhaps regress would be a better term) of the Conservative Bible Project, which is attempting to remove its "liberal bias."

(It might be easier with different deities.)

Anyhow, a friend was chasing down related links and came across yet another endeavor, the "lolcat Bible Translation Project," which attempts to translate the same into "kitty pidgin," i.e. the imagined language of cats.

Maybe I've been living under a rock, which is a separate issue, but this was new to me. I've seen some of the lolcat pictures but it never occurred to me that someone would try this. I can't say I've read the whole thing, but I did check out Genesis and the Sermon on the Mount.

Here are the first few lines of the creation story, in which Ceiling Cat makes the world:

Boreded Ceiling Cat makes the world.

1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.

2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.

3 At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.4 An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.5 An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!1

The website also contains such items as proofs for the existence of Ceiling Cat.

El Cabrero is not officially sanctioning or recommending this version as canonical. However, the picture of Ceiling Cat making the world is worth a look.

Flying Spaghetti Monster, watch out!

MEANWHILE, Bigfoot fans are searching for Sasquatch in WV's Dolly Sods.

MISMEASURING THE ECONOMY. GDP (gross domestic product) can be a misleading measure, according to top economists.

ALL FRINGE, NO BENEFITS. A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows the continuing erosion of employer-provided health insurance.

COAL CONCESSIONS. The Senate climate change bill has some, but it's unclear whether these will be enough to garner coal state support.e

SICKNESS UNTO DEATH. What would a day be without pondering Kierkegaard and spiritual despair?

HURTS SO GOOD. This item discusses how athletes can deal with the pain of exertion. I've tried some of these tricks and they seem to help.


October 28, 2009

Cockadoodle don't

Stop the presses! Our economic problems are solved!

Just when you thought it was safe to open a newspaper, what should appear on the cover of yesterday's Charleston Gazette than a story about a group that wants to legalize cockfighting in West Virginia and ultimately in all the states.

According to a spokesman for the group, "It's only illegal now because of the puritan sense of a few people who don't find it an appropriate sport."

Earlier this week, a member of the group who identified himself only as "Chicken" dressed in a similar costume and handed out fliers in Charleston.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that bill to pass, although stranger things have certainly happened. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that we have several free range roosters on Goat Rope Farm and that they occasionally have a dust-up. Usually it ends with one running off, which is the rooster equivalent of the ju jitsu tap out.

A friend of mine and fellow goat herder sent me a hilarious email yesterday with a number of great potential bumper sticker slogans about the topic, most of which involve a synonym for rooster (hint: think NRA). Since this is a G rated blog, I'll quote a different one from his selection:

My president is Andrew Jackson.

WHAT THEY SAID. I'm down with this NY Times editorial on the need for more stimulus.

PEOPLE POWER kept the public option in health insurance reform alive, says economist Dean Baker.

MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL is the subject of this editorial from USA Today. Thanks to Ken Ward's Coal Tattoo for pointing this out.

"GRAND THEFT JESUS." I wish I would have come up with that phrase to describe the conservative attempt to rewrite the Bible. Here's more on that developing story.

TRAMPS LIKE US, maybe we really were born to run.


October 27, 2009

Fish tales

When I was a kid, I used to love fishing, although for some reason I lost the habit as I got older. I have several fond memories of times spent along river banks.

Once when I was pretty little, I took my Zebco reel out to what we called "the Mud River dam" (this was way before the real one was built in Lincoln County). It consisted of some rocks and metal that created a waterfall of something like two feet. It was huge at the time, however.

There was a sandbar below the "dam" that I chose for a fishing spot. After casting in the line, something took the bait and tore all along the river bottom. My heart pounded and I was sure I was about to land The Big One. I gradually reeled the monster in to the river bank.

It turned out to be a crawdad. There's probably a deep significance to that.

Anyway, one thing I remember as a kid were all the stories about giant monster catfish that were said to haunt the Ohio and Kanawha. It turns out that those stories were right. The high point of my weekend newspaper reading experience was this Gazette-Mail story about a Sissonville fisherman, Dustin Hagy, who caught a four foot long, 60 pound cat in Dunbar.

You've got to see the picture to believe it.

Congratulations to Hagy, who got it weighed and photographed before turning the beast loose once again, apparently none the worse for the wear.

Some get the big cats; some get the crawdads. That's life.

THE LONG WAY HOME. Here's a veteran's powerful first hand account of dealing with post-traumatic stress problems after returning from the war in Iraq.

ALMOST THERE on health care.

GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS. The recession may be officially over, but not the parts of it that hurt people. It's like being cured of a disease but having the symptoms linger and even get worse.

DEBUNKING THE DEBUNKERS on climate change, by way of Ken Ward's Coal Tattoo.


URGENT MANTIS SHRIMP UPDATE here. The picture is worth a click.


October 26, 2009

Strip mining for Jesus

You never know what you're going to find when you browse through the vent lines in the local paper. Occasionally, however one comes across a real gem. Here's one from the Saturday Charleston Gazette-Mail:

Jesus will be awfully angry when he comes back and we didn't use the resources and the coal in the mountains that his Father, God in Heaven, put there for us

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, enviros!

Sad to say, but that may not be an unrepresentative sample of the state of theological end ecological opinion amongst the "friends of coal."

PUBLIC OPTION. Reports of its death appear to have been greatly exaggerated.

AFTER REFORM--WHAT? Here's Paul Krugman looking ahead on health care.

WE HAPPY (NOT SO) FEW. Historians are reassessing the battle of Agincourt, made famous by Shakespeare's Henry V. The new research may be right, but I like the Bard's version.