John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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Friday, October 08, 2004
Schizo Web Surfer: From Bush to Baloo the Bear

YCMTSU - Get some effin gear
Friday night, John Kerry and George Bush will debate for the 2nd time in St. Louis, Missouri.  For the 1st debate, I blogged a cynical prediction, was completely surprised after watching it and had to sarcasticly blog some post-debate highlights.  After that, I did some research about the economy and jobs, and blogged about domestic issues.  Those things are likely to come up in Friday's Presidential debate, as we didn't get very much of a preview of domestic issues from the Vice Presidential Smack Down in Cleveland.  Nonetheless, because I know you'd miss it, I dutifully percolated some of my cynicism and sarcasm to blog a VP debate parody for your personal snickering pleasure.  Let loose with a few out-loud snorts, if you feel the urge.  No one knows you are reading how Dick Cheney looked and acted like Smeagol, even if you are a hereditary Republican.

During my own schizo web surfing today, I laughed my ass off reading Saladin's call for more mud-slinging in political ads and when he started, "This is John Kerry.  He has a melty face."  I mean, honestly, develope a sense of humor about these things and unclench that right-wing sphincter once in a while.  You'll make the people around you hate you a little less and you'll be able to throw away that dusty package of chocolate laxatives I spotted the last time I snooped through your medicine chest.  Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you.  You also need a refill on your Zoloft prescription, too -- you silly, bouncing, socially-anxious cartoon bubble.

There are other things going on, besides the televised political truth-fest.  I think, as Americans, some of us are watching the debates in anticipation of a complete derailment by one of the candidates.  George Bush's last performance was a slow motion train wreck, I have to admit.  Other people are putting the debates into perspective and turning it into a drinking game.

On Friday, you could also raise your glasses in a toast because this person received the Nobel Peace Prize.  Or, if you're alone on a perfectly good Friday night, you could always advance your standing among your overly-achieving geeky friends by memorizing the list of people who have received the Nobel Prize in their field of expertise since 1901.  That might be cool.

Here's some easier Nobel trivia:

Besides the Peace prize awarded today, can you even name the five other fields of expertise in which a person can become a Nobel Laureate?

What was the last year that no Peace Prize was awarded?

Hint: The same year, 3 Americans shared the Nobel Prize for Physics, "for their jointly developed theory of superconductivity, usually called the BCS-theory."

Not much of a hint?  Sorry. That was for Final Jeopardy, too.  You go home with nothing.

If you get terribly bored tonight during the presidential debate, you could always play some of the many educational games at the Nobel website.  Some of the games are suggested for users 18 years and up, too.  So, if you're under 18 years of age, be a rebel, break the rules, and learn something.

Honestly, simply reading some of the biographies of past Nobel Laureates is an inspirational history lesson.  And, you can learn quite a bit from some of the eduational games at the Nobel website.

See?  Next time someone accuses you of just downloading porn while being online, you can stun them by responding, "No, actually, I was reading the 1907 presentation speech by C.D. Wirsen when the Nobel Prize for Literature was given to Rudyard Kipling.  Did you know that he created Baloo the Bear and Mowgli from the Jungle Book series and it was originally published in 1894?"

Besides, I download porn in the background, minimized, while I'm reading something else.

[Added] via Low Rent Rat: Take 90 seconds and Listen to Congressman Tim Ryan on the House floor during the consideration of the Military Draft legislation the other day.  He gets it.

[Headphones] :: Bush and Brando debate - JfZ

Thursday, October 07, 2004

I recently got word from Jamie at Rock the Vote that the effort to register new voters in the U.S. has reached the impressive one million person mark.  Not only that, but it's growing fast.  Some 35,000 people each day are finally getting off their asses.

That's great!  Thanks to all of you who already used the Rock The Vote voter registration partnership tool that I set up here at Thunderstorms.

Another benchmark was also reached this week.  For 32 of the 50 states in the country, we've now passed the deadline date to register.  But, that still leaves 18 states that can still make a difference. 

Honestly, since this election is so important, I wouldn't leave it up to chance to see who is going to President of the United States.  So check to see when your own state's registration deadline happens.  You may still have some time to register yourself, or remind the drooling slacker next to you to register.

Just click the Register to Vote image on this page.  It's that friggin' simple.

Blog the Vote!

[Headphones] :: Get off your butt! - JfZ

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Dynamic Debate Duo

Bush/Cheney Campaign Strategy
Tuesday night, the citizens of the United States had the opportunity to see their Vice Presidential candidates debate in a casual setting.  It was a penultimate example of reality television.

It was a voyeuristic parody of PBS debate moderator, Gwen Ifill, having a dinner party from hell.  It seemed to me that she simply invited the wrong people to sit around the dinner table and have a conversation about any topic.  Poor Gwen.  It was like watching talk show host Oprah Winfrey interview motivational speaker Tony Robbins and Smeagol (Gollum) from the Lord of the Rings movie.  John Edwards was trying his hardest to instruct Dick Cheney how to make a positive change in his life; if not for himself, for the good of the country.

At the same time via the wonders of split-screen television, Dick Cheney was clearly troubled.  Recently permitted to venture out from his habitation in the infamous secure and undisclosed location for the re-election campaign season, I believe Cheney was uncomfortable with Gwen Ifill's staged lifestyle intervention with John Edwards.  Practically glowing with his concrete bunker pallor, Cheney simply slumped over the dinner table and constantly rubbed his hands together.  Watching Dick Cheney while Edwards spoke, I was on the edge of my seat in expectation that the television camera might catch him muttering, "Precious ... my precious ... it's mine."

Sadly, unlike reality television, I wasn't granted my voyeuristic fantasy of a spontaneous moment in reality.  As near as I can tell from reading the post-VP Smack Down accounts from both camps of punditry, one thing becomes clear -- reality and truth have no place settings at the dinner table of campaign politics or debates.

These important debates do offer one thing.  Since truth, in many cases, is absent from the debates, you can get a feel for a candidate's character and style, however.  You can also imagine how each political party's team would react during a real world crisis.  Imagine.  Terrorists are running rampant in Gotham.  The call goes out.  Which Dynamic Duo do you want to show up to save the day for truth, justice and the American way?

So what are the candidates' character and style?  John Kerry is experienced and seems to think about everything that comes out of his mouth.  Edwards is less experienced, but would be a loyal and dutiful sidekick.  Dick Cheney is experienced, sober and serious.  George Bush is clearly the less experienced and nervously passionate one.  He is obviously Cheney's Boy Wonder.  These presidential debates highlight a nagging problem that has haunted the George Bush administration and the GOP since 2000.  Who is really in charge?

The Bush Cheney 2004 campaign has made a terrible mistake.  They have hitched their candidates' wagon with the theme of the importance of choosing a president that can best protect us all from growing security threats that face the nation.  They think they'll win the election if they stay 'on message' and 'stay the course'.  Isn't it the definition of insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome?  Iraq isn't an asset.  It's a cartoon anvil screaming down through the sky. 

I don't know about you, but if the need arises and the call goes out, I don't want the Boy Wonder showing up.  I want the real Batman to be in charge.  Come November, Cheney can retire and return to his bat cave.  Perhaps Halliburton will buy him a tanning bed.

[Headphones] :: Bush and Brando debate - JfZ

Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Design Files: SpaceShipOne and Beyond

Click for more JfZ Design Files
Giorgio Armani, Ferdinand Porsche, and Frank Lloyd Wright are famous designers of the things we may use in our everyday modern life. However, what you might not know, for example, is that Ferdinand Porsche's biggest design impact on society was the Volkswagon Beetle.  The Design Files will highlight interesting design and designers.

Elbert L. Rutan, aka Burt Rutan

On June 21, 2004 Mike Melvill became the first civilian to pilot a craft into space.  Built by Burt Rutan and financed by Paul Allen, SpaceShipOne made history as the first manned, private spaceship.  On September 29th, 2004 Mike Melvill once again flew SpaceShipOne over 100km above the earth's surface, the benchmark of being in space.  Just five days later on October 4th, 2004, SpaceShipOne once again went into space flown by pilot Brian Binnie to win the $10 million Ansari X prize.

 A glimpse into the future?
Imagine for a moment that you lived about 100 years ago.  You read in your newspaper that Wilbur and Orville Wright will build one of their Flying Machines for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.  It's only been five years since they tested it at Kitty Hawk.  You chuckle at their oddness and cock your head as you lay the newspaper down.  You bark, "Giddy Up!" to your trusty old nag and think about what kind of parents these two crazy brothers must have had, as your carriage growns into movement.  Just then, you're stirred from your private thoughts as one of those new-fangled Model T Fords loudly rattles past you from behind.

It remains to be seen whether Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne design becomes this new century's version of the everyman's vehicle like the Model T Ford, or the Volkswagen Beetle.  The easy answer would be to say, "of course not," but it may not be entirely correct.  First of all, you'd have to concede that neither of us can even accurately imagine the lifestyle and activities of our society 100 years from today, if the difference from the last 100 years is any indication.  Even in the limited arena of aeronautical design, I imagine few people from the time of the Wright Brothers could have predicted their peaceful night skies would become absolutely crowded with any manned flying machines, let alone commercial jet airplanes carrying hundreds of people and continually swarming around almost the entire planet, as is the case today.

Another history-making Rutan design
I don't want to sound like anyone's personal cheerleader, but Burt Rutan may be this new American century's Henry Ford.  SpaceShipOne is simply not the first and only bright idea Rutan has had, nor for that matter the only design of his that has made aeronautical history.  On December 23rd, 1987 Rutan's Voyager completed a record-breaking and historic journey.  His Voyager aircraft flew around the world, nonstop and unfueled, for just over nine straight days, nearly doubling the previous distance record set in 1962 by a USAF/Boeing B-52H.  The Rutan Voyager now hangs in the lobby of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

You can read more about Burt Rutan, his personal history and his aircraft design in an informative essay by Roger Guillemette at the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission website where I started my own browsing today.  In addition to being inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, Burt Rutan continues to be involved with design.  Visit Rutan Aircraft to see what is available today or visit Scaled Composites to learn more about SpaceShipOne and perhaps see what's in store for our future generations.

[Headphones] :: Saggitarian Helium Storm - NASA

Monday, October 04, 2004
Domestic Issues Debates

GOP preparation for economic debate
Last week's first presidential debate topic was foreign policy.  Although it didn't quite devolve into a shouting match where George Bush got flustered and screamed something unintelligible like, "Flip-flopping Swift Boats," as he fell off the front of the stage, (I had my hopes) it was better than I thought it was going to be and it did garner a large, interested television audience and heavy media recycling of the event.

So, what should we expect from this week's scheduled debates?  First of all, Friday night's second presidential debate in St. Louis will focus on domestic issues, but since tomorrow night's vice presidential debate format is open, we are likely to get a preview from the VP candidates' "on message" domestic issue talking points in Cleveland first.

For example, even though Dubya is still mumbling about foreign policy to reassure his shaken GOP faithful with some post-debate after-thoughts at scheduled campaign rallies, look for Bush and Cheney to also boast about cutting taxes, again.  Bush called Kerry "a tax-and-spend liberal", today.  I guess that's somehow different than "a guns AND butter compassionate conservative" that runs up a historic deficit.  But, I was never very good at deciphering spun nuances.

Another economic issue likely to debated will be the spinnable and nuanced so-called jobless recovery.  I went to the Economic Policy Institute to unspin this term.  Created during the Reagan era of trickle-down and voo-doo economics, the EPI is nonetheless a well-respected nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. whose stated mission is "to broaden the public debate about strategies to achieve a prosperous and fair economy."

Get the facts at EPI
Since 1988, EPI has biennially published The State of Working America, which "is an exhaustive reference work that will be welcomed by anyone eager for a comprehensive portrait of the economic well-being of the nation."

It's likely that post-debate fact-checking journalists will use this recent publication as their economic Rosetta Stone to decipher politically-motivated claims sure to be made this week.

EPI just released their latest report.

"Labor Day 2004 finds many working families still waiting for the benefits of an economic recovery that has been uniquely unbalanced, characterized by weak job creation and falling real incomes.

After almost three years of recovery, our job market is still too weak to broadly distribute the benefits of the growing economy. Unemployment is essentially unchanged, job growth has stalled, and real wages have started to fall behind inflation. Today’s picture is a stark contrast to the full employment period before the recession, when the tight labor market ensured that the benefits of growth were broadly shared.

Prolonged weakness in the labor market has left the nation with over a million fewer jobs than when the recession began. This is a worse position, in terms of recouping lost jobs, than any business cycle since the 1930s.

There are even more damaging economic facts from a failed domestic and economic policy for Bush and Cheney to spin away than that.  Sponsored by EPI, Job Watch recented reported:
The Bush Administration's economic policies continue to fail to generate the jobs that the administration claimed would be created. When President Bush argued for his "Jobs and Growth" tax cut plan last year, his Council of Economic Advisers predicted the creation of millions of jobs. Thus far, the national economy has fallen over two million jobs short of what was projected, with only two states ahead of projections.

For most states in August, the difference between the Bush Administration claim and the actual jobs situation is enormous. Florida, for example, will have to add almost 50,000 jobs per month in the rest of 2004 in order to receive its share of the predicted benefits of the tax cut, but it has only added an average of 14,000 over the last six months. Michigan will have to add 55,000 jobs per month, but it has lost a total of 9,000 jobs in the last six months.
Other failed policy buzzwords you're likely to hear during the debates are outsourcing and offshoring.  You can simply follow these links to find out more.  There are lots of pretty graphs and charts that depict the ugly, unspinnable truth.

You could travel to sunny St. Louis, Missouri to hear Friday's presidential debate.  You could even head to hard-working and gritty Cleveland, Ohio to catch the WWF VP Smack Down.  But, it'll be a friggin' cold day in Alaska, if you're looking for a job.

[Headphones] :: Bush and Brando debate - JfZ

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