But first . . .

LIBBY

David D’Antonio: ‘You wrote: ‘He took the fall. (Except now doesn’t have to.)’ If you don’t consider paying a quarter of a million dollars and having your career and reputation trashed ‘not taking a fall,’ I guess there is no point in further discussion. I disagree with a lot of what the Bush Administration has done, but all the whining, harping and other such finger-pointing you do has certainly turned me off to the Democrats.’

☞ To someone in Libby’s position, and with Libby’s friends, a $250,000 fine is trivial. And his reputation among many of the people he cares about is, if anything, enhanced.

PARTISANSHIP

Richard Theriault: ‘You write: ‘And fourth . . . treading now out onto thin ice but thinking it may actually hold my weight (and welcoming anything icy on a day like this­ even a metaphor) . . . yes, Democrats, certainly from 1993-2000, were generally pretty darn good, and Republicans from election night 2000 on up to the last news reports I read a few minutes ago have been bad.  Not individual Republicans like you, of course; but this Administration?  And the Republican legislators who’ve abetted it?  The worst in the history of our country, with the most disastrous long-reaching consequences.  Just my view, of course, but heartfelt.’  DAMN STRAIGHT! (You should excuse the expression, please.)  It’s not a matter of parties, one good the other bad.  God knows, the Democrats can’t get their act together, and they need to.  But THIS crop of Republicans, who have disgraced the party’s name, could ruin this nation forever.  I’ve been a registered Republican since 1948, when I turned 21. THESE are not Republicans, they are perverters and destroyers, and it gave me the greatest pleasure, though I know it will probably do no good, to sign the petition to impeach Cheney. We cannot impeach Bush (the worst in history) because that would leave us with Cheney, a greater evil – well, actually an evil instead of a mere incompetency.  BTW, loved the Hertzberg New Yorker excerpt.”

BURNING YOUR HOUSE DOWN

Jim Reed:  “I have a friend that also had the fire department ‘practice’ on his house. However, before the big burn he had a ‘prefire sale’ during which people could go through the house and buy anything they wanted, doorknobs, woodtrim, etc. etc.”

Don Stromquist: “In the historic preservation community (nthp.org), we feel the case is very strong that to rehab an old building is almost always a greener option than to tear it down, no matter how environmentally sound the new construction may be. Think of all that material (all that embedded energy) going to the landfill. By burning their house, your friends hit on the least green option of all: all that energy, straight into the sky.”

☞ When a hedge fund manager buys a $2 million tear-down to build an $8 million house, he is under no illusion, I think, that he’s living light on the land.

Stewart Dean: “My wife has a fixation on old houses.  Me, as the guy that has to do the fixing, I loathe them.  I cut my teeth in plumbing and electrical contracting doing maintenance on an old Borscht Belt hotel.  Nothing was clean and tight, everything leaked water or air (cold in the winter, hot in the summer), the electric was a joke, and you couldn’t fix much of it with the now standard materials and methods.  The fixing was endless, much like the human body over 80 – you might as well buy the hospital.  So, if you have a house more than 75 years old and don’t have a mint of money, burning it down and rebuilding clean and tight can save you money and endless aggravation.  Of course if it’s a gorgeous old Victorian (you’ll be paying painting and de-rotting bills forever, but the house pride!) or a stone house…….. Now I have a 25-year-old house, and it’s easy to deal with.”

SiCKO

For your consideration:

SiCKO Spurs Audiences Into Action
By Josh Tyler / Cinema Blend

Long time readers of this site no doubt know that I live in Texas. As everyone knows there’s no more conservative state in the Union than here. And I don’t just live in Texas; I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Dallas isn’t some pocket of hippy-dippy behavior. This isn’t Austin. Dallas is the sort of place where guys in cowboy hats still drive around in giant SUVs with “W” stickers on the back windshield, global warming and Iraq be damned. It’s probably the only spot left in America where you stand a good chance of getting the crap kicked out of you for badmouthing the president.

So when I went to see SiCKO for a second time this afternoon, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the audience. I wasn’t watching it downtown, where the city’s few elitist liberals congregate and drink expensive lattes. I went to a random mall in the mid-cities, where folks were likely to be just folks. As I sat down, right behind me entered an obligatory cowboy hat-wearing redneck in his 50s. He announced his presence by shouting across the theater in a thick Texasdrawl to his already seated wife, “You owe me fer seein this!”

SiCKO started; the stereotypical Texas guy sat down behind me and never stopped talking. He talked through the entire movie… and I listened. The first ten to twenty minutes of the film he spent badmouthing Moore to his wife and snorting in disgust whenever MM went into one of his trademark monologues. But as the movie wore on his protestations became quieter, less enthusiastic. Somewhere along the way, maybe at the half way point, right before my ears, SiCKO changed this man’s mind. By the forty-five minute mark, he, along with the rest of the audience were breaking into spontaneous applause.He stopped pooh-poohing the movie and started shouting out hell yeah! at the screen. It was as if the whole world had been flipped upside down. This is Texas, where people support the president and voting democratic is something only done by the terrorists. Michael Moore should be public enemy number one.

By the time the movie was over, public enemy number one had become George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy all rolled together. When the credits rolled the audience filed out and into the bathrooms. At the urinals, my redneck friend couldn’t stop talking about the film, and I kept listening. He struck up a conversation with a random black man in his 40s standing next to him, and soon everyone was peeing and talking about just how f-cked everything is.

I kept my distance, as we all finished and exited at the same time. Outside the restroom doors… the theater was in chaos. The entire SiCKO audience had somehow formed an impromptu town hall meeting in front of the ladies room. I’ve never seen anything like it. This is Texas goddammit, not France or some liberal college campus. But here these people were, complete strangers from every walk of life talking excitedly about the movie. It was as if they simply couldn’t go home without doing something drastic about what they’d just seen. My redneck compadre and his new friend found their wives at the center of the group, while I lingered in the background waiting for my spouse to emerge.

The talk gradually centered around a core of 10 or 12 strangers in a cluster while the rest of us stood around them listening intently to this thing that seemed to be happening out of nowhere. The black gentleman engaged by my redneck in the restroom shouted for everyone’s attention. The conversation stopped instantly as all eyes in this group of 30 or 40 people were now on him. If we just see this and do nothing about it, he said, then what’s the point? Something has to change. There was silence, then the redneck’s wife started calling for email addresses. Suddenly everyone was scribbling down everyone else’s email, promising to get together and do something… though no one seemed to know quite what. It was as if I’d just stepped into the world’s most bizarre protest rally, except instead of hippies the group was comprised of men and women of every age, skin color, income, and walk of life coming together on something that had shaken them deeply, and to the core.

In my years on this earth, I have never ever seen any movie have this kind of unifying effect on people.  It was like I was standing there, at the birth of a new political movement. Even after 9/11, there was never a reaction like this, at least not in Texas. If SiCKO truly has this sort of power, then Michael Moore has done something beyond amazing. If it can change people, affect people like this in the conservative hotbed of Texas, then SiCKO isn’t just a great movie, seeing it may be one of the most important things you do all year.

And now . . .

SURGE PROTECTORS

Michael Albert: “I know a little bit about surge protectors and lightning.  When two houses close to ours were hit by lightning a few years ago, I installed lightning rods on our house.  The installation included the lightning rods, wiring together all big or long chunks of metal (e.g. bulkhead doors, drain spouts), and an air gap surge arrestor at the power entry.  I also added individual surge protectors on expensive equipment.   Then we were hit by lightning.  First came the loudest crash of thunder I’ve ever heard, and then our burglar alarm immediately went off.  There was no fire: the lightning rods did their job in that respect.  The power stayed on, but the phone wasn’t working (because the lightning had fried the TiVo modem), shorting out the phone line.  After it was all over I discovered that two burglar alarm switches had welded closed, another faulted intermittently, the alarm panel had an intermittent fault in the phone dial-out circuitry, a phone had failed, the TiVo modem had failed, and the power block for my WiFi router was gone.  The TV’s and computers protected by power strips were OK. I fixed the alarm panel and switches myself.  If I hadn’t I would have dumped quite a bit of money fixing the alarm system. Happily TiVos can use an external modem, so I didn’t have to replace the whole thing.  After fixing everything I looked into better protection.  It turns out you should have three levels of power protection: first, an air gap surge arrestor, a cheap, small device that drains off the highest voltages via arcing across an air gap to ground, installed at the power entry by an electrician.  The power meter should already have one built in, but you can add one that fires at a lower voltage to get redundancy and better protection. Second, a transient voltage surge suppressor (TVSS), a more expensive device that also is installed at the power entry by an electrician.  The more money you spend here the better protection you get.  I spent about $200 for this one.  Third, individual surge suppressors installed to protect individual pieces of equipment.  You also need a surge suppressor on the telephone line.  This device is installed where the phone line enters the home.  I installed this one myself.  I’ve got all these now, and happily have yet to test them.  I expect that the next time I get hit, my phone equipment (including my precious TiVos) and power will be OK, but I’ll still have the potential for alarm problems.  I don’t think there’s much to do about that.”

☞ But what are the chances lightning will strike twice?

SERGE PROTECTORS

Most fundamentally, there is the napkin.  You could go a step further and ScotchGuard it, but Charles tells me this is a ridiculous idea and that I shouldn’t try so hard for the pun.  (I don’t know – 3M seems to think it’s not such a bad idea.)

Now . . . go out and see the movie.

 

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