Friday, April 29, 2005

Waiting for a Date

I'm waiting for a date to pick me up. Sure, I know the first reaction of many of you will be, "yeah! she's got a date!" but you know, for me, it's all about the waiting. Sometimes I think my whole life has just been about the waiting.

Why is it that we use waiting as such an excuse. "I can't get anything done I'm waiting on a call-back" or "I'm just sitting here getting pissed off because my date is late." Sometimes I have to remind myself to just grow up, get busy, and let life happen. One can spend one's whole life waiting on a date. Waiting for the guy to call. Waiting for the perfect job offer. Waiting for Mrs. Right to come along.

Lately, I've been reminded that there's a time to wait and a time to act. And right now, in my life, I'm acting. It's amazing how acting, moving, making something happen changes your whole outlook. It changes how you feel about yourself and how you feel about other people. It changes your whole perspective including how you look and how people look at you.

As with any good change, one you get a taste for it, you want it to happen. So, I'm finished waiting -- metaphorically. I'm still sitting here with a late date, but with my new attitude, I'm doing something with the time, not just waiting. Besides, I kind of like the guy, so I'm in the mood to be forgiving.

Pointers Pointers

As long as we're giving pointers to good postings...

Check out the Curmudgeon as he ruminates (OK, the Curmudgeon never "ruminates") on nuances. Excellent points, actually. Mmmm. Fast cars.

Also, read Duffbert's take on the Apple/Wiley ban. Honestly, without knowing how big a channel Apple stores are for Wiley, I can't make an educated comment, however, I have to assume that it's not, say, B&N. Go Wiley. I think. (Note, scroll down, I'm not coherent enough to link to the post directly.) (Duffbert, was, I think, the first to stand up to the Dave Taylor blogging challenge.) Joe Wikert has been understandably silent.

And as long as I'm pimping technology editor/writer/publisher blogs, check out former colleague Jim Minatel's blog. I love these guys, but they're all talking about the same damn thing. (Well, you know, I know it's not DST or the Michael Jackson trial.)

More on Indiana Law

Lots of decent reporting on the drama of yesterday that was the passage of DST. Doug Masson has a great round-up over at Masson's Blog.

Also, it's with great sadness that I note the passing of the Indiana Law Blog. Today marks the last day that Indiana attorney Marci Oddi will maintain the Indiana Law Blog. Her welll-thought out reasonings (and lots of fan mail) are This amazing legal resource for judges and attorneys has become a constant source of accurate up-to-date information on cases, appeals, decisions, and general happenings in Indiana law. Even to us amateurs, she'll be sorely missed. What a true labor of love. The blog will remain up as a resource.

Finally! DST Bill Passes House

In a tense, late vote, SB 127 passed the Indiana House by a narrow vote -- 51-49 -- with the two votes needed by state Republicans. After a dramatic day and a one vote loss where the legislation failed by not by a Constitutional majority, lawmakers spent the afternoon caucasing and brought the bill back for a vote at 11:30 p.m. last night. With one day left in the legislative session, the DST bill has stirred emotional debate on either side. Lots of drama and possibly some seats lost over it. More in the Indy Star. We'll join the country in setting our clocks forward in April (or earlier, if the federal government moves it) 2006. Gov. Daniels is, of course, expected to sign this bill.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

DST Passes in Late Senate Vote

This could be historic. SB127 which would require Indiana to observe Daylight Savings Time passed the Indiana Senate earlier this evening. With two days to spare in the session, the bill heads back to the House for a final vote. (It's passed the house once but has been amended in committee.) As it stands, the bill would call for all countries in Eastern Standard Time (which is all but 5 counties in Indiana) to observe DST starting next April. (5 counties in eastern Indiana already observe DST on their own.) The counties in the Central time zone would remain as is. It's a pretty safe bet Gov. Daniels will sign this one if it passes the house. No champagne yet, but it's certainly only a step away. More from the Indy Star.

What's on Jesus' iPod?

I don't love San Francisco columnist Mark Morford. In fact, I think he's the worst kind of liberal, the kind that does nothing but complain, and complains in a bitter, angry, nasty way. But read today's column -- it's pretty wonderful. Does Jesus have an iPod?! Of course he does! Now as to his contention that Jesus is the original liberal...that's another issue entirely. Morford sees the Mac, iPod and Jesus as the holy trinity with a healthy helping of Steve Jobs in a special role as Mary Magdelene. In the end, though, he gets it. Jesus doesn't just have holy roller music that praises him.
Jesus knows this Big Obvious Secret: All music celebrates God, because God is merely another word for life and life is merely another word for "hot divine energy force" and "hot divine energy force" is merely another word for, well, "Steven Tyler." So there you go.

More on Jesus' play list:
Lots of old Bob Dylan
Little bit of Peter, Paul & Mary
CCR's "Fortunate Son"
Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth"
Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction"
Youngbloods' "Get Together"
Edwin Starr's "War (What Is it Good For)"
Eminem's "Mosh,"
"Dust in the Wind" (even Jesus likes the 70s cheeseball hits)
Old Deep Purple
Obscure Zeppelin(Jesus gets all the good bootlegs)
Old Jim Croce
Nick Drake
Iron & Wine's "Woman King" EP,
Ani DiFranco
Old Cat Stevens. (Jesus just shrugs that silly religio-political stuff right off. It's just who he is.)
Gospel? Hell yes.

Lots of Aerosmith, especially "Get Your Wings" "Come Together" (both versions) and "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine" (the original and the dark, beautiful remake by A Perfect Circle)
"Hair" soundtrack, for one (he blasts "Good Morning Starshine" whenever he makes waffles on Sunday mornings).
"Les Miz", "Jesus Christ Superstar"
Jesus has an advance copy of the new Coldplay. He liked "God Put a Smile on Your Face," but thinks "Clocks" is a lot better.
Jesus really loves Marilyn Manson's cover of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus"
the Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
Eva Cassidy's "Live at Blues Alley" Nina Simone. Fiona Apple. Joss Stone.
Diana Krall's version of Tom Waits' "Temptation" makes his holy toes curl, as does Madeleine Peyroux's positively celestial take on Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love." a few Sade songs. And Gwen Stefani makes him happy. And he has a secret thing for Kylie Minogue. But then again, so does God.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Depressed...I Mean, Depressing!

I never quite know how seriously to take these MSN "polls" -- but this one based on anti-depressant sales gives Indy an F. I blame winter ... and Lilly. At least we know Prozac has lots of local support!

The 20 Most Depressed Cities
1. Philadelphia, PA: F
2. Detroit, MI: F
3. St. Petersburg, FL: F
4. St. Louis, MO: F
5. Tampa, FL: F
6. Indianapolis, IN: F
7. (3-way tie) Mesa, AZ: F, Phoenix, AZ: F, and Scottsdale, AZ: F
10. Cleveland, OH: F
11. New York, NY: D-
12. Salt Lake City, UT: D-
13. Atlanta, GA: D
14. (3-way tie) Yonkers, NY: D, Pittsburgh, PA: D, and Kansas City, MO: D
17. (3-way tie) Long Beach, CA: D, Los Angeles, CA: D, Nashville, TN" D
20. Portland, OR: D

America's Next Cute Couple

I was just popping in to post this but the Manolo, he beat me to it. Bushie holding hands...Does Laura know?

Libraries Move Into the Present

Over at the Indianapolis Star this morning, columnist Ruth Halladay is lamenting the change in traditional libraries who are (gasp!) stocking more bestsellers and (no!) planning to open on Sundays! I don't know why I let this particular columnist get under my skin, but it may be that her opinions signify exactly what I think is wrong sometimes with Indiana and Indianapolis -- a fear of change.

Look, I'm all for tradition -- I think we have a lot to learn from traditional business practices. Customs like rice and bouquet throwing rank high in my book, but they're no way to run a business -- and the Marion County Library is a business. Yes, they're subsidized by taxpayers and donations, but they cater to a customer base just like anyone else. I think they're doing the right thing by determining what their customers want and re-focusing their resources on serving the community.

Recent changes announced by the Marion County Library Board have the chance to move what was once a great library (so I hear, the only times I went after I moved here revealed dated titles, poor cataloging systems and free computers hogged by homeless people) into a new phase supported by what will be their new facility at their main office. A few changes they're making that columnist Halladay thinks are a bad idea:

That includes the board's decision Thursday to eliminate overtime pay for staff working Sundays. Picking up on Mielke's headline, all 22 libraries will be open Sundays starting this fall, an increase from six currently.

But that decision is peanuts considering what else is coming. The library dramatically will increase its numbers of best-sellers, in an effort to give patrons the latest hot new books and eliminate long reserve lists.

Librarians are "weeding" out tomes that are not widely circulated -- an appalling thought for traditionalists, who count on the library to carry the obscure volume, too.
Librarians themselves will morph:

• A clerical worker with a college degree will answer reference questions -- basically taking over the role for which a librarian went to college to get a master's degree.
• Librarians with expertise in a particular field no longer will order books for their area.
• Users will do more self-service.
Some call it McLibrary. Everything is about volume and quick turnover. And money.

Please, she's complaining about more bestsellers and shorter waiting and reserved lists? What could possibly be wrong with giving readers -- the library's customers -- what they want? Getting more people to read and read the book everyone wants is exactly what Ben Franklin intended when he founded the first library. Sunday hours? It's about how people use time today. What other times do parents have to take children to the library to select treasured books? What could possibly be wrong with having a library open to serve students, adults doing research, the weekend novelist, the entrepreneur researching a business, families selecting a video, or people who use their free time differently than they did 20 or 50 years ago? Newsflash: Sundays in Indiana aren't all families going to church together then going home for Sunday dinner and a nap!

Is it difficult to have fewer well-educated library science professionals? Yes, of course. It's a tough choice to make, but it's just as unreasonable for the library to have more paid reference librarians on staff than are needed. In today's age of Google, online catalogs and the Internet, the public has different needs for research and the library must change to reflect those needs. A few well trained reference clerks are a good solution. When was the last time anyone under 45 called the library for the answer to an obscure question? Is it right that the library should have more highly paid and trained staff than they need in the name of tradition? Will we lose obscure titles? Obscure titles don't matter if they're so old they provide dated or inaccurate research information. If readers want obscure information, more often than not, they go to Amazon, but if they want lots of beautiful up-to-date cookbooks they can't afford, they go to the library.

Halladay cites excellent libraries in the country and how we'll suffer in comparison, but in reality, two of the nation's top library systems -- San Francisco and New York -- have completed capital campaigns and reorganizations in the past 10 years and have made some of the same choices our board is making. It sounds to me that our board understands the trends in their market and is making smart decisions. I applaud the Marion County Library Board on their choices. They're being smart about serving their customers and using their budgets wisely. Maybe Halladay's bio says it all: She has been with the Star since 1978. Wake up, baby. It's the future!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Indian Condoms in the News

Actually, I just found this incredibly interesting, not that the use of condoms isn't always, you know, um, interesting. From the San Francisco Chron via AP:
Most condoms in India are used in business and not 'the business'

NEW DELHI -- Only a quarter of condoms made in India are used for sex; most of the others are used to make saris, toys and bathroom slippers, a newspaper reported Saturday. The condoms are valuable to manufacturers because of the lubricant on them. Sari weavers place the condoms on their thread spools and the lubricant on the prophylactics is rubbed off on the thread, making it move faster through their sewing machines, the Economic Times newspaper quoted an Indian industry official as saying. Sari makers also turn the condoms inside out, place them on their fingers and use the lubricant to polish gold and silver threads used in the traditional Indian women's outfits. India manufactures more than 1 billion condoms annually to check population growth and curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Daylight Savings Time -- Final Week

The Indianapolis Star is reporting that Indiana lawmakers could vote on SB 127 as early as tomorrow. Out of committee, the bill must now clear the Senate and the House before session ends on Friday. The governor will sign the bill. Final changes, as I understand them are that we would observe daylight savings time as of next year and the governor would petition the Department of Transportation to hold hearings to decide what time zone Indiana should fall in to. Some interesting comments from folks in the article on where they fall. I firmly believe that once this time change happens, people are going to happy with the extra hour of sun in the summer and reluctant to change to Central time, but we shall see. I'll just be happy to look forward to next April.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fiction and Firsts

What a year it's been for first novels! From last summer's The Rule of Four, a light but well-written Da Vinci-code style thriller by Princeton graduates Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomas to the massive and amazing Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, the first effort of English writer Susannah Clarke, this year has been a fertile time for new writers. Even with some new hits from long established writers -- Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons and Roth's The Plot Against America -- more first novels have made more of a splash this year. Among those that are notable, I just finished Prep, a novel from Curtis Sittenfeld who perfectly captured the awkwardness of a midwestern outsider at an exclusive east coast boarding school right down to the very adult but yet very high school romance with a popular boy. It's enough to make me starting reading more fiction! Maybe I'll keep collecting firsts and save them up for my next big summer reading binge.

Another Night in the City

It's been a sparse week for writing which just demonstrates that writing takes time -- and writers have to make time for it. In reality, I've been up to my knuckles editing a book, so my own words have been hard to find.

Last night, I stepped out downtown to meet a friend for a cocktail and noticed that it's one of my favorite weeks in Indianapolis -- the week the Star Wars convention is in town. For the past few days, thousands of fans have converged upon the convention center, and with the release of the final movie -- Revenge of the Sith -- a month away, the festivities this year have been more frenzied than usual. In addition to the massive signing halls and product areas, hundreds of costumed fans attend and you can see anything from Wookies to bounty hunters. (I saw no Jar Jars, thank god.) It was with a certain geeky joy that I watched so many Jedi knights and stormtroopers walking through downtown Indianapolis last evening. All the more surreal that it was a major prom night, too. From our window perch at a favorite bar we watched Princess Leias (young ones in Jedi-style Tatooine outfits and older ones camouflage uniforms from the Ewok planet in Return of the Jedi) and Anakin Skywalkers running down the street while beautifully gowned girls -- and their dates in tuxedos -- dodged the heavy rain on their way to and from limousines.

One could say it was just another night downtown in the city, but somehow it was more interesting to watch than the normal round of lobbyists and car parts convention attendees.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ooops -- Let's Call it a Drafting Error.

Not sure what hung up the folks that drafted this ordinance to begin with. Maybe it was the definition of "open" or the definition of "container." This is why there are editors -- even legal ones. From AP:
Law Bans Open Food, Drinks In Vehicles

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- There's a problem with the open-container law in Fort Wayne. Officials have discovered that the ordinance bans all open containers in vehicles -- not just containers of alcohol.

That means an open can of soda, or even an open bag of chips in the car, is technically against the law, and could be subject to a $50 fine. City attorneys have brought the matter to the attention of the City Council, which voted Tuesday to fix the law. The new version could get final approval next week.

DST Dead?

Today may be the last chance we have to see legislation regarding daylight savings time to come to the floor of the Indiana legislature. Rumor has it that the conference committee has not -- and may not -- come to an agreement on a compromise situation and that the bill may die in committee today. Republican members of the committee can replace obstinate democrats in order to come to agreement which may happen later today. The last compromise agreement I heard reported yesterday was that the bill would require all counties would observe DST but the governor would submit a request to the Dept. of Transportation asking for them to hold hearings regarding what time zone or zones our state wants to be in. The county-by-county opt-out language was stricken from the conference committee bill. Frankly, I think it's a fair compromise even though I don't personally relish a statewide timezone debate for the next two years. Article from today's IndyStar with more.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Time, Ann Coulter and What Women Really Want

To steal a line from Wonkette:

"...we do think that TIME has actually managed to deliver a huge scoop: It turns out it is possible to give a woman a blow job."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pointers, Pointers

Now playing over at Feed Me/Drink Me: The Tortillas of the Damned.

The Onion: $7 Million Dollar Mag

OK, OK, we get it! The Onion is a $7 million dollar magazine, business, whatever. Oh, and that Page Six doesn't do their home work. But what's new there. From Gawker. Seriously, though, what does it say about us as a society that what started as a small satirical web site is now a thriving media business? Quite a lot, really. And it's all good.

Monday, April 18, 2005

John Kerry Says...Ahahahahaha

They're still asking for money? Maybe the rumors are true! Hillary's going to run and poor John's going to get beaten up by a girl! From Wonkette:
We're not sure why the Friends of John Kerry still need money at this point -- maybe tickets to a Tony Robbins seminar to get their confidence back? Whatever the reason, they're still dialing. — GREG BEATO

Me – "Hello..."
Fred – "Hello Sir, this is Fred from the Friends of John Kerry"
Me – "Oh you have to be fucking kidding me"
Fred – "Sir, as a loyal friend of Senator Kerry..."
Me – "Hey Fred, listen closely for a second OK..."
Fred – "Sir?....I’m calling..."
Me - "Fred, stop and listen to me...OK?"
Fred – "Sure sir, go right ahead."
Me – "Fred you just called me and woke up my sleeping baby daughter presumably to ask for more of my money to give to a guy that’s married to a billionaire and that I watched mount the most inexcusably inept and pathetic Presidential campaign imaginable...."

DST Conference Committee News

Legislators heard open testimony on SB127 in conference committee today. The Indy Star featured some pretty humorous quotes (including my favorite):

“We are not the butt of a joke, we’re the bedrock of a nation,” said Marty Voegele of Batesville, who works for a motor sports company in Greensburg. “We are one of three high quality states in the nation that has the guts to stand up for what we believe in.”

Hey! I'll be that's news to the other 47 states -- what are they, low quality? But, I digress. Discussion will resume tomorrow and with four conferees must sign the bill for it to advance. The Indiana legislative session ends April 29. Of course, the entire Central time zone issue is mixed up in all this. Many want the bill to pass with a provision that the governor will seek action from the Federal government to change Indiana's time zone. Sadly, central time defeats the entire purpose of DST for me. No extra hour in the summer -- we'd get the same sun as we get now -- and an hour less daylight in the winter? Bah. Humbug. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Summer and...Chess

The warmer the weather, the more curdled the brain, I think. The lovely days of spring are upon us -- slightly cool in the morning through noon, then truly warm. Yesterday, I read outside in the sun for hours, just me, a good book and a G&T. Today, I've not yet ventured outside, but I've been enjoying the sun and breeze. Finishing a couple of reading projects and doing some summer vacation planning.

In the meantime, it could be worse. You could be Gary Kasparov who recently gave up chess for politics and now appears to be paying for it as he was clonked over the head by an apparently former fan -- with a chessboard. Ouch. Emotional distress? I'd call it a head injury but not an internal one.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Guilty as Charged

As much as I love gawker, I love wonkette more. For the political gossip in all of us.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Staircase

I am completely fascinated by The Staircase on the Sundance Channel, an 8-chapter documentary about the murder trial of novelist Michael Peterson. Peterson was accused of the 2001 death of his wife, Kathleen, after she fell down a flight of stairs.

Am loving the police procedurals and the inner workings of the defense team. (When the prosecution leaks that they're investigating the death of a woman 18 years who knew the defendant and died in the same way, the lead defense attorney turns to the camera and said "this just made your movie." Viewers get to see the defense team hash out their arguments (sometimes very painfully with Peterson in the room) and introduce the jury selection and witness coaches. It's like the best of an A&E crime show without the annoying expositional voice over.

During the course of the chapters you watch motives revealed, families fracture, and people become different than one would think they seem. Geekily fascinating documentary. Summary from

A thrilling and tense 8 part documentary covering the accidental (or was it) death of Nortel exec Kathleen Peterson. Award-winning filmmaker Jean-Xavier De Lestrade covers the case from the arrest of Kathleen's husband to his trial to end result. As compelling as any drama on TV. NY Times: It may seem ludicrous to say that a movie running more than six hours is well edited, but "The Staircase," by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, is. And not only is the editing prize-worthy, but the whole film is also so brilliantly conceived, reported, filmed and paced that you may come to wish it were twice as long.

Off to Australia

Last night I said goodbye to two wonderful friends (and their adorable 1-year-old daughter) who are moving to Australia. Yes, right here from good old Indy, they've sold everything (and I mean everything except the 5 boxes of personal items they shipped over) and are moving all the way around the world. Do they feel like they're starting over? Yes. But, as my friend said, it will be easier. "It's not like we won't ever see our families again."

It's true. With the Internet, email, and digital photos, grandma doesn't have to rack up those huge international phone bills calling into tomorrow. The world has become very small. Home is just 26-hours (and about $2500 US away.) Via email, I'll probably stay just as in touch as I did here -- except that we won't be able to just get together for a drink or go to a foreign film.

Mostly, I respect their fearlessness. I know so many people here who -- in their mid-30s after living an established life -- wouldn't dream of picking up and moving to the next city over, let alone to the far side of the world. I'm not even sure that when presented with a chance for the great unknown, I'd be able to do it myself. Sell the house, cars, all of your furniture? Give away most of your clothes and put your memories in storage? Even find a new home for your dog? I'd want to be able to do it, but I'm not sure that when presented with the great international uknown, I 'd actually be able to pull up some very shallow roots and do it. (Meanwhile, we're laughing about how soon they're going to be able to get their driver's licenses learning on the other side of the road.) They're fearless, I tell you.

So, here's a toast to Mark, Lisa and Isobella. May their adventure continue as they make their new home in Perth at the University of Southwestern Australia. It's nice to know I have a pre-planned vacation when I decide to make the 26-hour trek. It will be a delight to see their beautiful little girl grow up with an Aussie accent and to know that when we take a girls weekend trip, it will be to Hong Kong or Sydney instead of South Beach. I get first shout.

Jackson's Debt

I know, I know, I can't help myself. We already know Mesereau is going to crucify the victim's mother on the stand this afternoon. So, here's a little Jackson tidbit about his financial situation. Of course, consider the source. Fox 411 is one step away from US Weekly which is one step away from the Star. So, let's say Fox 411 in credibility terms is two steps away from a straight-up tabloid. Now that we have that on the table, here's the scoop:

We know that Jackson has been living on royalties. Since the trial started, everything's been frozen and paid into escrow, so he's had no cash. (Very important since it's kept him from running, some say.) So, after a couple of family bailouts (the last one reportedly from sister Janet), Jackson is again unable to pay his staff, lawyers, and giraffe food suppliers.

Reportedly a Sony offer for the Beatles catalog has been coming for a while. Sony's deal is ready to be presented. The crux is that Jackson's going to end up with a yearly "allowance" to live on. And the way he's been living, $10 million won't nearly be enough. Chances are high he'll have to sell Neverland (or at least scale back the zoo and carnival.) Maybe he can retire into peace in a neighborhood that allows very large and strange pets.

More on his financial situation and the details of the deal.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

More on the Time Issue

The IndyStar has been all DST all the time in the past couple of days with a major editorial backing it yesterday and at least one columnist covering it. Columnist Ruth Holladay, who I normally think is pretty lame, tries to pin it all on the historical fact that Hoosiers need something to fight about and this is it. She says the debate over the years has split families apart. Oh, geez, give me a break. OU/OSU football -- now that has split families apart. But daylight savings time? I don't get it. As a non-native Indiana resident it just looks ridiculous to me. But I suppose, and hell, I agree, that an Oklahoma statewide blood feud over, say, football, is just as ridiculous. (That said, I can't help but react with distaste and distrust each time I meet someone who went to or is a major supporter of the University of Oklahoma.) Either way, the possible time change is still getting major coverage with just as much misinformation as not.

I looked at the roll call vote yesterday and compared it to the caucus lists. 13 Rs and 13 Ds each defected to vote for the other side. What irritated me most, though, was the hard party line most of Indianapolis' representatives took even after polls conducted using Marion and Hamilton County data have shown urban and suburban residents overwhelmingly in favor of the switch. My local rep, Greg Porter seems much more interested in kissing up to his own party's leadership in his role as chair of the Indiana Black Legislator's Caucus. More interested than, say, actually voting to improve the quality of life of his consituency. Porter's district is one of the many downtown Indianapolis districts moving from a traditionally low income black population to a more white, affluent group of voters. Fall Creek Place has done wonders for this part of the city, but practically overnight it's moved an entire demographic out and a few new ones in.

So, will this vote have implications during the next election? Probably. It appears that where blood feuds are concerned, Hoosiers have long memories. But do we have bigger fish to fry? Yes. So let's get to it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Catholics in the US

On the flipside of the page from the Bush playlist in yesterday's Times, is an interesting county-by-county chart of Catholics in the US measured as a percentage of the population. It clearly shows the large population of Hispanics in California, the southwestern US, and south Texas, plus the traditional French/Cajun Catholic population in southern Louisiana. There were a couple of other interesting results to me: the high percentage in my home county in Oklahoma (largest population center in the Panhandle, so biggest town equals biggest Catholic population), along with the 0% noted in the next county over (no towns large enough to support a Catholic church). Additionally, it shows very heavily Catholic populations all through the northern US. Wisconsin and western Michigan, I expected, but not Nebraska, North and South Dakota. Very interesting data anyway. Also available are maps showing Jewish and Muslim populations in the US.

Jurors Behaving Badly?

The prosecution is making good headway in its case against Michael Jackson. While it seems the defense is keeping up, the judge's ruling to allow prosecutors to admit witnesses related to previous allegations against Jackson has been damaging. Several witnesses including one alleged victim have testified that Jackson made inappropriate contact with boys. What we don't know is how this is all playing to the jury. So, a blurb caught my eye last week about possible juror misconduct. Melville supposedly looked into it, but the reports are still floating around that several journalists witnessed jurors outside the court laughing and mocking a prosecution witness who testified that Jackson molested him when he was a boy.

And so, from the Santa Maria Times (the local paper in trial territory) and columnist Steve Corbett, we have this first hand account of what happened:
The Associated Press reported that Robert Cole, a foreign editor for the British cable television network Sky News, said he had overheard jurors laughing and maybe even mocking a witness who had tearfully claimed that Jackson molested him when he was a child.

"Cole said another reporter also heard the conversation. That reporter declined to comment Thursday," AP reported.

I'm that reporter.

And I declined comment because I was busy trying to find out what was going on when the AP reporter called. I also wanted to write my version of events in this column.

Cole and I were walking past the outdoor area where jurors take their breaks. The spot is hidden from view by a fence and a high green tarp.

As we passed, we heard what I thought might be loud sobbing that quickly merged with the sound of loud laughter.

Cole and I looked at each other and kept walking.

Drudge quoted a juror as saying, "Oh boo-hoo, Michael Jackson tickled me," which was supposedly followed by laughter from other jurors.

Neither of us heard anyone speak. Neither of us knew what had promoted the outburst. Maybe some juror had stubbed a toe.

When we made it back to the Sky News area - from where I provide daily commentary for Sky on the Jackson trial - Cole privately shared a theory.

He wondered if jurors had been mocking the witness, a 24-year-old Santa Maria Valley man who had offered graphic and emotional testimony about being tickled before being sexually molested by Jackson on three occasions.

I hadn't thought of that. But now that Cole mentioned it, I had to wonder. "Is that really what you think?" I asked.

"Yes," Cole said.

Cole, a former newspaper reporter who has worked for the BBC and covered the war in Iraq for Sky News, is a smart, seasoned and savvy journalist. His concern was legitimate.

But neither of us heard words. Neither of us had the context we needed to draw a clear conclusion.

I'm still trying to figure out how the sounds that Cole and I heard took on a life of their own and caused people to wonder whether jurors had trivialized the public trust and disrespected their duty as citizens.

Cole's words to the AP were dead-on accurate.

"It sounded like they had just heard this kid crying and they were kind of laughing at what had happened, mimicking him. I didn't hear any names or anything. I don't know if they were talking about him or not."

Neither do I.

But Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville should find out.

While he's at it, he might want to ask jurors if they know anything about jurors laughing at the same young witness' mother after she testified about the relationship between Jackson and her young son when she worked as Jackson's personal housekeeper.

A reporter told me that she heard jurors laughing in the same break area after the woman's testimony. One female juror laughingly asked in a mocking tone if anyone had "seen her face," the reporter said.

Like Cole, the reporter wondered whether the remark related to witness testimony. Maybe it did.

Maybe it didn't.

Melville needs to find out.

Jurors are prohibited from talking about the case with anybody - including each other. That's why they must put the brakes on even the slightest hint of impropriety, which could harm their credibility.

I agree. Melville needs to look into it. But I disagree with the reporters assertion above that it's OK if they were just commenting on the witness by mocking him (or her). Not OK. It's not OK that jurors are discussing their open opinions or impressions of a witness, positive or negative, with anyone. And certainly not in earshot of reporters. This could the second major appeal point so far in the trial. (The defense will most certainly cite Melville's decision to admit prior allegations in their appeal if they lose.) But this time for the prosecution. If Melville did nothing to stop it, we could have a small problem. Otherwise, it's good to hear a first hand account.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Daylight Savings Time Passes Indiana House!

Historic news! SB127, a bill that would have Indiana observe Daylight Savings Time, passed the Indiana House in a close vote -- 51-47. The bill currently has some quirks of questionable legality that will most likely be worked out in conference committee. The bill now heads to the Indiana Senate. If it passes the Senate and all is worked out, Indiana would most likely change their clocks next spring -- in April with the rest of the nation. More from the Indy Star.

Ari Fleischer Signs Downtown

Having not yet cracked his book (it sits on the shelf in front of me as I type), I'll probably skip this event, but for those interested, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer will be signing books Thursday at the downtown Borders from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. His book, Taking Heat: The Presdient, the Press and My Years at the White House came out last month. Also signing will be Gov. Mitch Daniels for his small press book about the campaign trail, Notes from the Road: 16 Months of Towns, Tales and Tenderloins. From the IndyStar, and the Borders logistics people just in case, you know, you got too excited (and in case you've been living in a bubble and didn't know how these two fit together. Sometimes, I swear, this paper is edited for someone with the IQ of an ear of corn.)
Because store officials think the signing by these two authors may be well-attended, they will guarantee that only 150 customers will get books signed. Passes already are being distributed, and those holding a pass will have priority on a first-come, first-served basis Thursday morning. People who show up for the signing without a pass won't be guaranteed an autographed book, store officials say, but as many customers as possible will be accommodated.

Why would these two appear together?
Fleischer and Daniels have known each other for years. Daniels once worked at the Bush White House as budget director. Fleischer married Becki Davis, who was an assistant in Daniels' budget office.

Bush's iPod -- Playlist for the Prez

How to write 750 words on what the President listens to on his iPod? Lots of feel-good country, Boomer rock, a few oldies, and country classics. Someone got paid to do this article. From today's NYTimes.

Here's the list released:

John Fogerty, "Centerfield"
Van Morrison, "New Biography," "Brown Eyed Girl"
John Hiatt, "Circle Back"
Alan Jackson
George Jones
Alejandro Escovedo, "Castanets"
Joni Mitchell, "(You're So Square) Baby, I Don't Care"
The Gourds, "El Paso"
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, "Swinging From the Chains of Love"
Stevie Ray Vaughan, "The House is Rockin'"
James McMurtry, "Valley Road"
The Thrills, "Say It Ain't So"
The Knack, "My Sharona"

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Monday Deadline for DST

State Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) has to get his bill to the floor for a vote on Monday or let it die. He held off on Friday due to a close vote and a couple of absences, but once again, he's let this come down to the wire with session deadlines. The house will have to vote on SB127 Monday and let the Senate deal with the county opt-out clause which many feel is illegal. (The governor asked for and received a ruling from the federal Dept. of Transportation and they will not allow counties to individually decide.) Once passed on the House side, the Senate can consider the bill and send it to a joint conference committee. The rewritten bill will have to be passed in both chambers again. Currently, the bill would call for us to observe daylight savings time starting in April of 2006.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Thursday Next, Jasper Fforde and Home

I woke up this morning thinking of spring where I grew up out in the high plains in a skinny stretch of land wedged between Texas and Kansas, No Man's Land. Last night, I finished BH Fairchild's latest book of poems. He grew up in Liberal, Kansas and later worked there in his father's machine shop. Liberal is the next town (also next county and next state) over from my home town. His poems about dragging main, dust on caliche roads, and even the people he grew up with resonate with me even though my childhood was 20 or 30 years after his. Maybe it's my impending 20th high school reunion (OK, to do list: lose 50 pounds, check. Have varicose veins in ankles hoovered, check. Eye lift, check. Lip0suction, check) that's made me think of home. (I'd say, ahh, think fondly, but as usual, I'm there for 48 hours and already thinking of my life elsewhere.) Either way, it was a pleasant read in that dark time between the end of the evening and sleep.

This week, I also finished the last two Jasper Fforde novel stacked up since last year -- The Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten. It's been years since I felt I read new fiction that was both truly innovative and well executed. But with his oddly science fiction Thursday Next series, Fforde delivers. It's not science fiction in that it takes place in the future (it doesn't) or that there's some time travel, fictional technology and just plain weirdness. It's only in Fforde's capable "world building" skills that this complexly run literary romp works. In his first novel in the series, The Eyre Affair, he builds a new world around literature featuring a plucky English literary detective named Thursday Next, her pet Dodo (long extinct but now available to built at home in cloning kits!), her sometimes eradicated husband, her partners at LiterTec, and even her enemy -- The Goliath Corporation. The Thursday Next series now includes four books, each better (in my opinion) than the last. If you enjoy literature and really enjoy clever, witty writing, you should at least try these books. I don't think you'd be lost if you start with whichever book seems most interesting to you, although there are four books in the series and if you're a compulsive "reader in order" like me, then you'll start at the beginning, now won't you.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Daily Gloat -- Weather Part II

Last night, I rushed to get my herbs all potted before dark. It was windy and sprinkling, but by damn, I was going to get those plants (hmm, oregano and lavender) in so I wouldn't have to haul water for the rest of the week. And I made it! It's raining today and all my happy little plants are soaking it up and moving into their new homes. (And the cilantro smells so good.)

Blanket Speaks

These days, it's just all pointers all the time around here. Funniest thing I've read all week. Selections from My Name is Blanket, © 2046 Blanket Jackson From FTrain.
I spoke about going to college and having a life of my own, like my brother Prince. I wanted to study veterinary medicine. But my questions fell on dead ears. Finally he erupted. “No one else is leaving the ranch! No one!” His legs were shaking, but he steadied himself and walked across the room to a statue of Apollo, flipped open its marble head, and pressed a keypad hidden in its neck. Sirens went off. The sound of deadbolts locking echoed throughout the room, and great mechanical noises came through the window. In the distance, a hippo lowed.

At the end of the clanking, a moment of total silence. Finally, my father said, “We are a happy family, Blanket.”

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Manolo, He Have Shoes!

My new favorite site in the blog world! The Manolo, he says you should check his blog every day for the best word on shoes. Sometimes, he even tells you about the other Manolo, Manolo The Maestro. Manolo's Shoe Blog.

National Poetry Month

And over at Corndoggeral, the corndog himself reminds us that it's National Poetry Month. He celebrates with his multistanza ode to Eskimo Pies. Home grown poetry is great, but for a one-a-day approach, try Poetry Daily.

On Spring, Weather and Poetry

Spring has finally sprung and I am a new girl! Ahhh, finally, the cowl of winter has been lifted. The dreary drab of cloudy and cold drizzle is about to be replaced by booming thunder and flashes of bright sky. It doesn't thunderstorm here in the same way as it does in Texas and Oklahoma which I miss. On the other hand, it does actually rain here instead of just making a lot of noise and huff for no result, which I enjoy. (Plus, bonus not quite as many tornados -- close, but not quite.) So, while we don't get the crystal clear late nights where you can watch the heat lightening off in the distance knowing it's over in the next county, we do get the enjoyment up here of putting plants out on the deck knowing that nature takes care of its own. For a few months of the year it's just cool enough and rains enough to have a porch garden without too much effort. Only in high summer does it get so hot that I have to take a bucket of water down to the potted herbs.

It's almost past time for me to be buried in fiction. Last night I finished the most recent Jasper Fforde novel (more on that later) and started a book of poetry that I'm long overdue to return to a friend. The poetry, by the way, is by former Kansas and Oklahoma poet B.H. Fairchild. Now living in California, Fairchild grew up the son of a machinist and oil well worker out in Liberal, Kansas. That's pretty close to home for me -- Seward County is the next county over from Texas County, Oklahoma --and it's been wonderful to read his visual accounts of growing up in the same sort of small town in the 1950s including the people, the weather, and the landscape -- drilling rigs included.

So, greetings to summer. I'll be taking my nose out of a book soon and enjoying more evenings outside (although, it gets dark so early here in the summer, I have to work at it). Here's to coming home tonight, dodging the expected evening rain, opening a bottle of summer wine, and getting the herbs all in and potted. Ahhh, spring!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

House Amends DST Bill

The Indy Star is reporting that several amendments were attached to the Daylight Savings Time bill in the House yesterday including two key items that could affect the future of the legislation. First, lawmakers amended the bill to allow individual counties to opt-out. Now, this could just be an extension of the "free Indiana/opt-out" culture causing dissent until now, or it could create even more of a county-by-county time zone havoc than we already have. (For those not in Indiana, we have 5 counties already not on the same time as the rest of the state.) Additionally, the bill was amended to begin next April instead of going into effect on June 5 of this year.

I could selfishly say that I don't really care what individual counties do as long as my county (Marion) adopts it -- and it will. But having a county opt-out program could hinder the Governor's economic development plan even further. It's also possible that the Federal government would not allow it. Although, I suppose it would answer opponents' questions about a direct economic impact of not observing the time change -- the first time an opt-out county gets passed over for a plant or new business in favor of an county that observes the time change could be an indicator. For those still not believing we've had an economic impact, I'm not sure how they've escaped hearing from airport officials who said we've lost several major hubs (not small like ATA, but big like Southwest in St. Louis and NW in Detriot) becuase our time change weirdness. (Lawmakers did helpfully provide a provision that road signs would alert travlers when they're entering a county with a new time zone.)

Either way, the bill is likely to be worked on in a conference committee with the Senate so changes may or may not be retained. It's still a partisan issue -- the Star is reporting all 48 Dems voted for the amendment. The bill will most likely be voted on today in the House. (And for more details on the legaltities, the second reading in the house and details on the amendment, see Doug Masson's legislative blog.)

Flat, Cheap, and Not New York

So today I get a welcome call from an old San Francisco friend, Chris MacPherson. Chris moved to New York about the same time I moved -- in his opinion -- to a state, not New York. (We both moved from San Francisco, so what does that really make us.) Chris lives on the Upper West Side, 76th or so just 1/2 a block from the park. We were terrific friends in SF. He would drag me to art films and I would drag him sailing. We enjoyed lots of lazy days rummaging through bookstores in Mill Valley or cruising to brunch on a friend's J/35.

Chris actually has a pretty great place for New York -- tiny, but great. OK, his kitchen is the size of my walk-in closet. Not kidding. Small living room with a fire place that burns real wood but smokes like crazy, tiny bedroom, huge deck that his landlord sells as big extra bonus space. (Hey, I'm not saying anything I haven't already said to Chris -- as I tried to open the refrigerator and avoid the waffle iron at the same time during a brunch over the holidays.)

So, today, I was engaging in one of my favorite pastimes -- New Yorker baiting. It's easist to try this with rent. (Not kidding, I pay one quarter of what he pays for a place twice the size. Of course, I don't live half a block off Central Park either, so what do I know.) As we're enjoying our usual rent banter, Chris says, "Wait, here comes my landlord, Luigi, you tell Luigi what a great deal you have." After much laughing and on the street banter, Luigi takes Chris' cell phone and I get to have a conversation with Chris' landlord, in heavily accented English, about Chris' rent. Luigi thinks he has a great deal. Haha! Including the big back deck bonus space "for-ah when it bee-yuu-tee-ful outside." So, here's to you, Luigi! On a gorgeous day like today, you could almost make a case for how wonderful that big back deck is. Good for you for making it big in New York -- and give Chris a break on his rent, will ya?

Zing Go the Strings of My Heart!

Meanwhile, over at, Steph Minneart describes (in interesting detail, actually) her upcoming open heart surgery. Her doctors will be fixing a valve and her heart strings. Not that the rest of us knew there really were heart strings:

Anther potential problem is that my heart strings could give out. What this means is that the mitral valve is anchored by strings of tissue that act like the cables of the golden gate bridge, or like the lines of a parachute. They keep the valve from being open permanently. It's possible for these strings to stretch because the valve doesn't close, and they can also snap, which can cause the valve to fail.

I had no idea that the phrase "tugging at your heart strings" had a real-life source. Interesting.

While I usually repair broken heart strings with chocolate and/or tequila (metaphorically speaking), Steph's will be fixed with Gore-tex. Romantic.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Jackson Updates

Everyone I’ve talked to is bored of reading recaps and, hey, I’m bored of doing them, so I’m taking a break for a while until Wacko Jacko does something else befitting of the name. In the meantime, here’s a little tidbit from The NY Daily News. Sounds like Brando offered his little island paradise up to quite a few potential felons No passport required (since Brando was able to smooth the way with the Tahitian government), which would be good, since the court made Jackson surrender his as a flight risk (along with $3 million in bail.) On the other hand, after Neverland, half an acre isn’t all that much. And is it paradise when you’re stuck there?

Jacko could beat it to Brando paradise


If Michael Jackson ever left the country, he could live out his days on a tropical island paradise - thanks to his friend Marlon Brando.

A notarized deed obtained by the Daily News shows that on June 5, 2003, Brando granted Jackson sanctuary on one of the Pacific islands he owned "for the rest of [Jackson's] natural life."

According to the deed, Brando transferred use of a half-acre on the islet of Onetahi, in the French Polynesian atoll of Tetiaroa, "in consideration of gratitude and affection." Brando informed Jackson in a letter thanking the pop star for hosting a birthday party for Brando's daughter, Nina, now 15.

"I can't easily describe the pleasure that has come our way with your invitation to Neverland," wrote Brando, who signed the letter "Love, Dad."

But the deed raises the question of whether Brando, who died last July, may have intended Onetahi as a possible refuge for the embattled singer.

At the time of the property transfer, child welfare groups were pressing Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon to investigate Jackson, who had admitted on TV that he shared his bed with a then-12-year-old cancer survivor. Jackson, currently on trial in California, is accused of sexually abusing the boy and plotting to hold his family at his Neverland ranch.

In 1976, Brando arranged for American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks to fly by private plane to Onetahi after he was indicted for assault and inciting a riot. Brando also spirited his daughter, Cheyenne, to Tahiti after she witnessed his son, Christian, shoot her lover, Dag Drollet, in 1990.

Jackson's spokeswoman Raymone Bain insisted the singer wants to clear his name and "has absolutely no plans to flee the country." But Judge Rodney Melville regarded Jackson as enough of a flight risk to impose a $3 million bail and demand that he surrender his passport.

Banks told Brando biographer Peter Manso that he also had no passport when he arrived on the island, but that Brando's relationship with Tahitian government officials smoothed his entry.

Jonathan Adler -- Vases to the Stars

He’s everywhere! With his organic and hip pottery lines hitting everywhere from signature high end furniture and tchocky stores to Crate and Barrel, ceramics design guru Jonathan Adler is hot hot hot! (You know you’ve arrived when Target starts knocking of your designs.) Maybe I’ve just been noticing his name a lot in the news. (Is there a name for the syndrome when you learn a new word or notice a new person and suddenly they’re everywhere?!) Gawker reports on him from Palm Beach. Oh, Mary.

Update on DST

SB127 – the current home of the bill repealing our state's opt-out of DST – passed the House policy committee 8-4 last week. It could be voted on in the Indiana House as early as tomorrow and is expected to pass. Even though Republicans will need a few votes from Democrats, it’s expected to pass the Senate as well. It all seems a bit anti-climactic after all the drama at the half-way point of the session.

Also, the Governor has received approval from the Federal government to implement the change on June 5 of this year, switching back to a regular schedule of October and April for the time change. The US Department of Transportation approved the change which doesn’t officially change the start date of the observation but in just allows the bill to take affect June 5 (late enough to miss the Indy 500.)

On time zones: A lot of people have asked me if this proposed time change would also change our time zone. It does not. The bill in the Indiana assembly only allows our state to observe Daylight Savings Time in the time zone we’re in – Eastern Standard Time. Time zones are a federal issue and the US Congress would have to pass a bill changing our time zone, if we, say, wanted to change to central time. As far as I know, there is no bill at this time in Congress proposing to change our time zone. (Plus, changing our zone to Central would defeat part of the purpose of changing to DST, the extra hour of sun in the summer evenings.)

Daniels office has said that it will request the US Department of Transportation to hold hearings to determine which time zone Hoosiers really want, but this will take place at a later date.

Latest Indy Star Poll

Interesting article in the Indianapolis Star over the weekend about Hoosier opinions on change. Included with the typical state and national “right track/wrong track” questions, they also polled on several hot issues in the state today, Daylight Savings Time, the gay marriage amendment and voter IDs at the polls.

Gay Marriage: 56% in favor (51% of D’s; 69% of R’s, 50% I’s)
Voter ID: 77% in favor (22% opposed)
DST: 56% in favor (37% opposed) (This issue presented the most vehement opinions on the split, and is also split between urban and rural areas.)

Interestingly enough, while Bosma and other House Republicans have come out publically against Daniel’s proposed temporary 1% tax on those making more than $100K a year, the Star’s poll found 59% in favor, 32% opposed, although some argue those in favor are only those making more than $100K a year. (Margin of error +/- 3.1%.)

Friday, April 01, 2005

For the News Junkie in All of Us

While tooling around news sites today, I came across a terribly cool front page round up from the Newseum. Simultaneously view front pages from around the US and around the world. They'll highlight in color as your run your cursor over each one. Click to enlarge. (I fixed that Newseum URL.)