Friday, July 27, 2007

Camera Obscura (part 1) -- Woo Hoo!! Simpsons!!

I've spent the week teaching an acting class for students aged 9 to 14 this week at the local arts center, The Rose Center. It's been great fun, but has slowed the writing here this week. And it has been a bit odd having the children of people who are my friends and peers -- how the heck can people work and stuff and still have time for kids and family? It is a mystery which I cannot solve.

But all the kids are very smart, very articulate, unafraid of a challenge and eager to learn. So yes, very inspiring for me and still strange for me to be The Old Guy.

One common touchstone for everyone in the class has been the animated comedy show, "The Simpsons," and we all agree that we must go see the new movie of the Simpson gang opening today. The show has also been a source of much education about comedy and irony and sheer joy and laughter. And man, there are a LOT of characters in The Simpsons: (click to embiggen)

Some fine Simpsons quotes:

Nelson: Shoplifting is a victimless crime. Like punching someone in the dark."

Troy McClure: Hi. I’m Troy McClure. You may remember me from such self-help tapes as “Smoke Yourself Thin” and “Get Some Confidence, Stupid!”

Ralph: Me fail English? That’s unpossible.
Lisa: Dad, why is the world such a cesspool of corruption?
Homer: (sighs, sets Lisa on his knee) All right, what makes you say that?
Lisa: Well, in Sunday School, we learned that stealing is a sin.
Homer: Well, duh!
Lisa: But everybody does it! I mean, we're stealing cable as we speak.
Homer: Well...let me put it this way: when you had breakfast this morning, did you pay for it?
Lisa: No.
Homer: And did you pay for those clothes you're wearing?
Lisa: No, I didn't.
Homer: Well, run for the hills, Ma Barker! Before I call the Feds!
Lisa: Dad, I think that's pretty spurious.
Homer: Thanks, honey!
Many more here, and a show-by-show quote list here.

Cinematical has a great review:

"'ll probably ...want to thank Matt Groening and his clan for reminding you just how much fun it was growing up with The Simpsons. Just how many laughs you've had at the expense of Homer and his goofy pals. Because as much as you might or might not want to admit it, this animated family has changed our world. And our lives. D'oh!"

More movie news later today, once the final class is done.

Dogfighting Ring Nabbed In Hamblen County

Kleinheider at Volunteer Voters featured my post yesterday shaming 1st District Congressman David Davis for failing to support the tougher federal laws on the multi-state crimes against these bloodthirsty sadists who create and promote dogfighting. In the comments some truly oddball remarks came forth.

I should know better than to pay attention to Terry Franks' comment on the post, whose views seldom approach comprehension. But it was East TN blogger David Oatney who took the prize for defending criminals with a "hey, that's just the way things are in East TN" perspective:

I agree that what Vick did was horrible, but it is a double standard that the Left sees the wrong in this, but not the wrong in aborticide.

As for Davis: I don’t agree with his position on dogfighting, but he has been consistent. He voted against making cockfighting a felony (I agreed with that vote), and I understand his motus here. This is Upper East Tennessee we are talking about. There are people around here who still run moonshine because it makes a good living, for crying out loud.

If Joe P. lives here, he would not need to wonder why Davis takes a position like this. Visit Erwin sometime, you’ll get it."

I do live here, David and I see no reason, none at all, for Davis to support criminal acts. And seeing some sort of Liberal hypocrisy between opposition to dogfighting and Liberal viewpoints on abortion is a rather tortured attempt at comparison.

And yes, WBIR-TV featured a story last night that a dogfighting club was uncovered by law enforcement here in my home county, Hamblen County, during Memorial Day weekend. And Jefferson County officials told me last weekend they too have had numerous reports of dog thefts from residences related to an apparent dogfighting operation there too.

And yes, more topics will be offered today on this page other than this dogfighting insanity, and I hope WBIR and reporter Brittany Bailey will follow up on these events with some more detail.


Some other bloggers and commenters share their views on the topic --

Aunt B. at Tiny Cat Pants
Rachel at Music City Bloggers
More at Volunteer Voters
David O. responds as well

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Congressman Davis Votes Against Tougher Laws on Dogfighting

A law approved by Congress, the Senate and signed by President Bush added some new Federal teeth to the law to punish those who engage and earn money from illegal dogfighting was not something Tennessee Congressman David Davis supported. He was the only member to the Tennessee delegation of lawmakers who voted against the measure to combat this blood sport.

His vote is now drawing the ire of the Humane Society, and from me too. (NOTE/UPDATE: Let me be more blunt and plain here -- You blew it, Congressman Davis. You failed to act to stop the multi-state, nationwide sick and depraved acts of ruthless, brutal, psychotic criminals. You failed to protect the homes and lifestyles of your own constituents, whose homes are invaded by dangerous criminals and whose lives are threatened by unhinged madmen. If you did not know what a real and constant threat your district endures and did not know how widespread these bloodthirsty groups are, then you should spend more time in the 1st District and less in the comfortable halls of the state and federal legislature. You have no credibility as a concerned or informed representative.)

The Kingsport Times News reports:

The vast majority of members of Congress supported this legislation to put a stop to precisely the type of behavior that Michael Vick was charged with last week — participation in a multi-state network of cruel and degrading dogfighting activities,” HSLF President Michael Markarian said in a prepared release. “Humane organizations and more than 400 law enforcement agencies supported the federal bill, yet David Davis showed his true colors by giving dogfighters a free pass.”

Davis responded by indicating that the Humane Society is using Vick’s situation to advance its political agenda.

“The reality is dogfighting and cockfighting are illegal in Tennessee and will continue to be illegal in Tennessee,” Davis said. “I don’t feel like you need a new federal law. You have state laws in place. It has nothing to do about my feelings for or against animals. I wish they could look at my vet bill for my dog that passed away about three months ago.”

Through its Web site (, the Humane Society has started a campaign encouraging people to “tell Nike to drop Michael Vick” and is asking for donations to “help end dogfighting.”

After the seizure of more than 60 dogs following the raid on Vick’s property by local law enforcement officers, the Humane Society said it initially provided “several thousand dollars in financial assistance” to Surry County, Va., for the animals’ treatment and care.

“We sought funds to help defray the anticipated costs of sheltering 52 pit bulls among these dogs for an indefinite interval. After a federal grand jury indicted Vick and three others, the costs of caring for them became a federal responsibility. We’ve offered to provide continuing assistance, but the federal government has decided to shoulder the burden on its own from this point forward,” a Humane Society release said.

HSLF said federal prosecutors charged Vick with a felony by invoking the federal Travel Act and conspiracy on one charge, but noted Vick escaped more charges because the animal fighting allegations against him preceded the new federal law."

One key point Rep. Davis seems to miss here is that even with laws against these barbaric clubs and their barbaric operators, such vile and cruel groups who delight in bloody conflict as entertainment remain active. That would be a clear sign to me that the law needed tougher language and tougher penalties.

The vast majority of members of Congress supported this legislation to put a stop to precisely the type of behavior that Michael Vick was charged with last week - participation in a multi-state network of cruel and degrading dogfighting activities," said Michael Markarian, president of HSLF. "Humane organizations and more than 400 law enforcement agencies supported the federal bill, yet David Davis showed his true colors by giving dogfighters a free pass." (Via KPT)

Contact Rep. Davis:

Office Located in Kingsport

320 West Center Street
P.O Box 769
Kingsport, TN 37660
phone -- 423-247-8161
fax -- 423-247-1834
District Office Hours
8 AM - 4:30 PM

Office Located in Morristown
1609 College Park Drive, Suite 4
Morristown, TN 37813
fax: 423-317-7562

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quote of the Day

1st District Congressman David Davis:

One of the generals said, ‘Congressman, there is a 5-year-old lying in a bed tonight somewhere in America that will be over here fighting this war in the future if we don’t finish it now."

The quote is from this story in today's KNS.

Worth noting is that Davis, as well as most other recent congressional tours of the war-torn country, was escorted in armored vehicles or viewed the scene from a helicopter. Most all reports include as well that such 'tourists' are outfitted in personal armor and helmets, too. I sure would not want to be out and about without them in Iraq, something all reporters have come to realize too.

It seems very easy to say that there is less chaos today than there was last year -- but chaos is the operative word. And despite any improvements on the ground in Iraq, it seems more important to me that the Taliban is returning to strength in portions of Afghanistan and in safe-havens in Pakistan. Why? Because Pakistan already has nuclear weapons, far more important than "trying to build a nuclear weapons program".

Sophie Moved to Undisclosed Secret Location

So many emails and comments have come in regarding Sophie and her recovery after being on the run from nefarious evil-doers late last week that an update is in order.

She has been whisked away from the rolling hills of Talbott to an Undisclosed Secret Location. I say if it's good enough for Cheney, it's more than good for Sophie, too.

Part One of the Relocation story and Part Two of the Relocation Story.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The End Of Bat Boy and (Un)Real Reporting?

I hated to tell Newscoma today's bad news, which also made her say the same as I: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

But the reports appear to be true -- the Weekly World News is about to cease publication.

I still own the first copy of WWN I ever saw, with the daring news report and banner front page headline: Priest's Head Explodes During Exorcism!

What will become of Bat Boy?? And I say America needs Ed Anger!

Does US Response Empower bin Laden?

Congress voted last week to double the reward for information aiding the capture of terrorist Osama bin Laden.

But longtime newsman and commentator Ted Koppel says the checkbook is a lousy weapon and he is most correct.

GOP Effort To Nullify the Constitution

Cutting off debate and votes in Congress, especially in today's modern-now-a-go-go-world, where the most discussion of the President's plans for warfare have taken place after the Congress and the media has approved of those plans --- just makes little sense and serves the public not at all.

The recent stunt in the US Senate by the GOP minority to squelch a vote on Iraq War Funding is part of an ever growing trend in completely altering the way government operates. Used to be that the Senate would take a vote where the majority is all that was needed to send legislation to the President, which he could veto if he wished and the legislation would come back and more debate would occur.

Trying to "veto-proof" the vote in the Senate is the same as nullifying the role and presence of the Senate and pushes our country one step closer to rule by a single office holder.

A fascinating assessment of the trend to block votes indicates the current session of Congress is on track to triple the record of blocked votes. (via McClatchey):

Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office."

Triple -- meaning as many as 153 blocked votes in the current trend.

Both parties have done this, no doubt, but the current GOP, including TN Senators Alexander and Corker, are in lock step with the party to shred the role the Senate is meant to play.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Please Meet Safe Sophie, And The Editor Speaks

Let me introduce The Editor to you here, who is the true owner of Sophie (I was adopted by Sophie as her friend and caretaker, as I mostly work from here at the house whenever possible, and caretaker is a rank I hold with some honor, thank you very much.) Along the post here are pictures of the safe-at-home Sophie, just click on them to see larger images and I'd like to add that I hope The Editor could find the time to blog more often, but she is a most busy woman: (NOTE: the story of Sophie's misadventures begins here and continues here. Now, The Editor)

To everyone:

Thank you so much for the outpouring of support while Sophie was missing. It meant so much to all of us here at Casa de Fleaflicker.

When the phone rang this morning and Joe held the phone up to the bowl where Sophie was gulping down water... well I can't tell you how much happiness and relief I felt. It was better than 1,000 Christmases. When I got to the vet and saw my poor beat up baby, I cried tears of happiness as well as worry. Although she is "OK" in the sense that she has neither internal damage or broken bones, she is pretty tattered after her "adventure." think it almost compares to what she looked like when I adopted her--but not quite. The $200 vet bill wasn't much of a surprise (of course, Kelvis topped me on big vet bills when she told me about her cat, Dynamite's, little string incident--this may force her to comment on or write about it herself), but I was more than happy to pay it if it meant by baby was home.

Right now Sophie is sleeping likes she deserves it (and dammit, she does), and I suspect she'll be doing quite a bit of sleeping to make up for lost couch time (and then some). She'll be going back to the vet in 2 weeks to see how she's doing (she takes thyroid medication and was off it for 3 days, so we have to get her back up to snuff on that) and to get her nails clipped (I wasn't about to bring that "injustice" upon her today--it can wait). (Joe adds, no I had her nails clipped today, as the vet recommended.)

Any way, while I have you all here huddled around what is normally Joe's soap box, I wanted to say a few words about pit bulls.

A long while back on my oft-ignored blog, I ran a post on pit bulls after Sophie tagged me in a friendly wrestling match. Link

Over the course of the last 21 years, I've owned or co-owned or co-habitated with a number of pitties, and let me tell you: they are my number one choice of dog. Not as a watch dog, because most all of the ones I've known have been piss poor watch dogs. Sophie is the case in point: she didn't scare intruders out of our house. An intruder had to manhandle her out onto the deck where I imagine her general freaked-outedness at the prospect of thunder and rain finally frustrated the bastard (for the sake of you humble readers, I am not using nearly as strong of an expletive as I'd like in describing this perp) to the point where he (she? nah... HE) gave up.

Pits are the most misunderstood, maligned, misrepresented, and mistreated dog breeds out there today. Shelters all over have no adopt policies on them (mo matter how socially well-rounded the dog). Denver and a number of other cities have banned them (and any dog that even "looks" like a pit). Drug dealers and other criminal elements buy them up, breed them with bull mastiffs and other large dogs and then call them pits, which leads politicos gunning for some half-assed public safety vote to call any dog that is bred with a pit bull a "pit bull" (so if I breed a chihuahua and a Great Dane, then it's still a chihuahua, right?).

American Pit Bull Terriers (real pit bulls, not these 130 lb testosteroid mixes) aren't BIG dogs. They should weigh about 55 - 70 lbs max (Sophie is 70 lbs, but she's also a chubber wubber). They shouldn't stand to your waist; they should be about knee height, and they SHOULD LOVE PEOPLE. They are a terrier breed, so their original purpose was to go after other animals--on the pit bull's case, to take down 2000+ lb bulls for farmers or to aid hunter downing wild boars. But the breed was also meant to be the family dog. Bad people have exploited a pittie's strengths. Stupid people have disregarded a pittie's positive attributes. One of my great worries while Sophie was out and about was that some chucklehead would see a "crazed pit bull," pull out his shot gun, and shoot her. I'm already fairly sure that whomever broke into Casa de Fleaflicker came exclusively for the dog--probably to use as a breeder (until they maybe discovered she was fixed) or as a bait dog.

I'm going to put some links on this site for you to check out if you have a few minutes. I will fight for the healthy continuation of this breed. PeTA won't, and for that reason won't ever get my support. How is calling for the euthanasia of an entire breed "ethical treatment?" Pit bulls continue to rank as amongst the highest scoring dogs in canine temperament.

For the Love of Pit Bulls is a great site if you want the real score on what these good ol dawgs go through.

Pit Bull Rescue Central will help hook you up with a pit.

This site gives an excellent overview of The APBT.

There are LOTS of good sites out there.
But here are some videos I want you to see. (Warning: the second video is HARD to watch if you aren't ready... get a box of tissues if you are prone to tearing up.)

Otherwise, be kind to your animals, and they will be kind to you. Love your animal, and they will be kind to you.