Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.

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Friday, October 15, 2004

Pigeons on the train, mundane

When it comes to dazzling urbanity, you can't beat Chicago's avian population.

The other night a couple of pigeons waddled onto the Brown Line at Clark and Lake. (Sounds like a set-up to a joke, but it isn't.) Once the doors closed, they strolled down the aisle, nibbling at the remnants of popcorn, snack cakes and other crumbs that had accumulated on the floor during the day.

Just like CTA workers, they ignored the paying customers and single-mindedly concentrated on the task at hand. All they needed were orange vests and a bored look.

One pigeon strolled off at the Merchandise Mart stop. The second, more conscientious, made a final pass from the front to back of the train, nabbing a whole popcorn kernel and half a cashew. He then stood patiently until the doors opened at the Chicago stop, cast one of those cross-headed pigeon looks at a boarding passenger who was blocking his exit, and shuffled off into the night.

The guy sitting next to me said this particular pair repeat the performance daily and that it was no big deal.

I just wonder where they keep their fare cards.

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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Inane lead paragraph of the day

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Weak quarterly results from General Motors, a mixed picture from Citigroup and oil's return to the $54 a barrel level may outweigh a strong report from Apple Computer when stocks begin trading Thursday.

You mean the world economy isn't based on iPod sales?

I'm stunned.

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Quote of the day

I loved history and pursued a diversified course of study. I like to think of it as the academic road less traveled. For example, I took a class that studied Japanese haiku. Haiku, for the uninitiated, is a fifteenth-century form of poetry, each poem having seventeen syllables. Haiku is fully understood only by the Zen masters.

As I recall, one of my academic advisers was worried about my selection of such a specialized course. He said I should focus on English. I still hear that quite often. But my critics don't realize I don't make verbal gaffes. I'm speaking in the perfect forms and rhythms of ancient haiku.
--George Walker Bush
(Speech at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, May 21, 2001)

Then I respectfully suggest he run for office in Japan.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

2000, Redux

Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed
George Knapp, Investigative Reporter
KLAS-TV, Las Vegas, Nevada

(Oct. 12) -- Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. Thee focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

So the people on those forms who think they will be able to vote on Election Day are sadly mistaken. We attempted to speak to Voters Outreach but found that its office has been rented out to someone else.

The landlord says Voters Outreach was evicted for non-payment of rent. Another source said the company has now moved on to Oregon where it is once again registering voters. It's unknown how many registrations may have been tossed out, but another ex-employee told Eyewitness News she had the same suspicions when she worked there.

It's going to take a while to sort all of this out, but the immediate concern for voters is to make sure you really are registered.

The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate.

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Take two aspirins and shove 'em....

Here's an example why people don't trust health-related news any more, and how "lifestyle change" is just another name for age discrimination.

From the October 11 issue of The Wall Street Journal:

"In the space of seven months in 2002, three physicians at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore suffered sudden cardiac death while exercising. Two were running, the other working out in the hospital's fitness center. All three had paid close attention to diet and exercised regularly. The oldest was 51.

"Present research reveals that vigorous exercise is responsible for triggering up to 17% of sudden cardiac deaths in the U.S., says a recent article in the American Medical Athletic Association Journal. This means that vigorous exercise is triggering tens of thousands of U.S. deaths a year.

From the October 12 issue of The Wall Street Journal:

"For years, corporations have tried to rein in their health costs by sweet-talking employees into changing their lifestyle, dangling incentives such as gym memberships and smoking-cessation programs.

"Now, some employers are taking a tougher approach.

"Union Pacific Corp. recently stopped hiring smokers in seven states as a pilot program to weed out potential high-cost workers. General Mills Inc. imposes a $20 a month ‘smokers' surcharge’ on health premiums for those who inhale. One Midwestern manufacturing giant has plans- still undisclosed to workers- to cut short-term disability benefits for smokers by giving disabled non-smokers 90% of their regular pay while smokers receive only 60%."

Most people over 40 die from cardiovascular disease. The major causes of death in people under 40 are automobile accidents, other accidents, and AIDS.

If you penalize me because of my risky lifestyle, then you should also stick it to the young smart-ass across the aisle who drives a sports car, hits the gym every day and gets laid regularly.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2004



"Pumpkins? I thought you said puppies. Who wants to play with mutant squash?"

(Ok. Just a lame excuse to post another picture of my granddaughter, Leanna. Deal with it.)

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Quote of the day

"When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bike. Then I realized that The Lord doesn't work that way, so I stole one and asked him to forgive me."
-Emo Philips

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Monday, October 11, 2004

Goodbye, Chris

Final Flight

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Copyright © 1987-2024 by Kevin G. Barkes
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Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The e-mail address is now something other than saga. used to be until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up and adopting created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the domain name in 1993, and had since that time used as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that was no longer but rather which is longer than and more letters to type than and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than but actually just as functional as I sent e-mails from the address to just about everybody I knew who had used in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that no longer is the they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...


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Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

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I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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