Saturday, December 29, 2007

Infection hits California prison system

The prisons in California have problems. Overcrowding, violence, and spiraling costs, to name a few. Now the NY Times has published an article about the valley fever epidemic in the Central Valley prisons.

In most cases, the infection starts in the lungs and is usually handled by the body without permanent damage. But serious complications can arise, including meningitis; and, at Pleasant Valley, the scope of the outbreak has left some inmates permanently disabled, confined to wheelchairs and interned in expensive long-term hospital stays.

About 80 prison employees have also contracted the fever, Pleasant Valley officials say, including a corrections officer who died of the disease in 2005.

What makes the disease all the more troubling is that its cause is literally underfoot: the spores that cause the infection reside in the region’s soil. When that soil is disturbed, something that happens regularly where houses are being built, crops are being sown and a steady wind churns, those spores are inhaled. The spores can also be kicked up by Mother Nature including earthquakes and dust storms.

Does that sound like a lawsuit waiting to happen to anyone else?

btw, I just love this professional and helpful advice from Coalinga's mayor:
“We just deal,” said Trish Hill, the city’s mayor. “You don’t do stupid things like go out on windy days or dig in the dirt.”

In other words, if you get sick, it's your own damn fault, stupid.

Git Yer' Free Fishwrap Here!

A couple weeks ago, a teenage-ish looking young man showed up at my door selling the San Diego Union Tribune, and I considered signing up for the weekend only subscription deal. My husband is a Luddite traditionalist who prefers reading the newspaper over reading it online, however the future used car salesman paperboy told me I had to write him a check right then and there. In the past, they always billed me, so I found that unusual, and changed my mind.

I kid argued with me! He was extremely high pressure for a future used car salesman paperboy, and that alone made me suspicious, and certainly not inclined to hand him a check with my bank account number. We'd started filling out the subscription paperwork, and I told him to tear it up. In retrospect, I probably should have torn it up myself.

About an hour later, my phone rang and it was the future used car salesman's paperboy's accomplice supervisor insisting that I subscribe to the UT. I told him NO in no uncertain terms. It was very weird, and I must say, not typical of UT sales tactics that I've seen before. That's part of what made me suspicious. Their readership is sinking, and that could account for a more aggressive sales pitch, but Jeez Louise, that was a bit much.

So, last Sunday...the paper showed up on my doorstep. My Luddite darling husband thought maybe it was just mis-delivered. I suspected we'd see an invoice.

This morning the fishwrap arrived on the porch, and the invoice arrived in the mailbox.

Curiouser and curiouser. I suspected the future used car salesman paperboy and his accomplice supervisor. I called the UT customer service hotline. Nice Customer Service Man said I could ignore the invoice because it's been PAID, by way of a cash payment, through March 17.


The Nice Customer Service Man says he'll refer it to their payment processing people who can check into where the payment came from, and if it's a misapplied payment they'll fix it and the paper will stop...or it'll keep coming until mid-March, gratis.

Hmmmm. I wonder if they'll give me a refund if I tell them I don't want the paper afterall.

I'll get back to you on that.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Good bye and Good Riddance 2007

I've been feeling a pull to write a year end wrap up of some sort, but frankly this year has ranked right up there in the top three or four all time lousy years of my entire life, and it's adversely affecting my sunny disposition. Between that and an an unusually prolonged episode of politically-oriented melancholy, I found that I just wasn't coming up with much to say. For me, writers block is one the signs of despair, and I couldn't think of a damn thing to write other than a bunch of gloom and doom.

A few days ago, a friend asked me a question related to taking initiative and personal responsibility for the state of one's government, and his question reminded me of a quote by Alice Walker, which I shared with him.

It has become a common feeling, I believe, as we have watched our heroes falling over the years, that our own small stone of activism, which might not seem to measure up to the rugged boulders of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of an edifice of hope. Many who believe this choose to withhold their offerings out of shame. This is the tragedy of the world.

For we can do nothing substantial toward changing our course on the planet, a destructive one, without rousing ourselves, individual by individual, and bringing our small, imperfect stones to the pile.

I'm glad for the reminder. The quote is from an essay by Walker where she reflects on her activism, and the entire article is excellent and very meaningful to me in so many ways.

I have learned to accept the fact that we risk disappointment, disillusionment, even despair, every time we act. Every time we decide to believe the world can be better. Every time we decide to trust others to be as noble as we think they are. And that there might be years during which our grief is equal to, or even greater than, our hope. The alternative, however, not to act, and therefore to miss experiencing other people at their best, reaching toward their fullness, has never appealed to me.

Thanks, Alice. I needed that.

That first quote is what really sticks with me though. Sometimes it seems we're surrounded by a crashing, swirling tidal waves of bad news, but I try to keep my chin up. I might get a wee bit (ha) cynical, yet overall I'm optimistic. If I'd given up on the world becoming a better place, I wouldn't bother with this blog or much of anything else I do. I'll admit that sometimes, I have to search a bit to find the little crumbs that keep my own hope alive, but I generally do find them, and so you're stuck with me for now. I'm just going to keep on bringing my odd little stones to the pile.

Here's to a better 2008, kids. Cheers.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The candidates speak (finally) on the limits of presidential power

"The sleeper issue in this campaign involves the proper scope of executive power," said Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor.

Other than Chris Dodd, the current crop of candidates have been distressingly quiet about the Constitution and Bush administration's grab for presidential power in excess of constitutional limits. It's a vital topic, because the current resident has shown a profound lack of respect for US law, and has a dangerously overinflated idea about his power as president. This whole trend has been insufficiently addressed in the current presidential campaign. It's been of concern to me, and is an issue that could tip my vote.

It's also why despite my general inclination toward Edwards, Dodd keeps grabbing my attention. He's on it, like no one else.

I've long believed that if the next president does not clearly repudiate the current trend, the anti-constitutional flavor of this administration will be locked into place for the foreseeable future. It's a worrisome thing.

For that reason, I'm quite pleased to see the Boston Globe article by Charlie Savage that asks all the right questions about presidential power and the authority granted by the Constitution. These are the kinds of questions that should have been asked of Bush and Cheney in 2000. To the best of my recollection, no one asked, and they independently didn't offer up their opinions on the issue. Imagine that.

Savage poses a set of essential questions to all the leading candidates, and their answers cover the spectrum from Dodd to Romney (hint: if you like Dick Cheney, you will love Mitt Romney).

Huckabee and Thompson refused to answer the questions, which in my world, disqualifies them from the presidency. Period. Giuliani refused to answer, but provided a statement about balancing "order and liberty" which was written by former Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson.

Bzzzzzzzt! Disqualified!

Ron Paul had good answers, but he's disqualified anyway because this is one of the very few topics where he doesn't bask in a wingnutty glow.

McCain gave the best answers from the Republican field, but personally I trust him about as far as I can throw him. He talks the "I'm a moderate" talk, but he doesn't vote like one.

The Democrats, for the most part, gave answers that came down on the side of the Constitution rather than increased presidential power. Frankly, I was not thrilled with Edwards' answers because instead of making strong, declarative statements about his own interpretation of the law, he framed it all around what Bush is doing wrong. I want to say to him, "yes I KNOW what Bush has done wrong, but what are you going to do right?"

Sigh....I like Edwards in so many ways, but sometimes he's such a politician.

Go read the article! It's important stuff. And whatever you do, don't vote for that scary Mitt Romney. He'll just be so disappointed if he gets elected, and belatedly discovers the job doesn't come with a crown.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

All I want for Christmas is a new transit pass

I would not want to be a bus driver in San Diego after Jan 1.

Actually, I wouldn't want to be a bus driver anywhere at anytime, but especially in San Diego after Jan 1.

That's when the transit fare structure changes, and not for the better, and I'll betcha there will be a whole lot of unhappy riders starting Jan 2. I buy a pass every month because I ride so frequently, and that price is going up too, but not significantly. It's going from $60 per month to $64. If you're a daily or frequent rider, and you buy a pass, that four dollars isn't a huge deal. It's something, but not huge.

The daily rider...there's another story, and that is where I feel sorry for passengers and the soon to be berated bus drivers. A bus ride is increasing from $1.75 to $2.00 on local routes. Again, not horrible. But here is the horribleness: they're doing away with transfers, and encouraging people to buy $5 daily passes. That means you can pay the full fare for every leg of a trip or you can pay $5 for unlimited rides. No more paying a fare, getting a transfer and continuing to your destination.

SO, for example, right now if I want to take a quick trip to the next city and pick up some veggies at the Farmers Market, I can pay $1.75 jump on a bus that takes me to the trolley, ride to the market, grab my goodies, jump back on the trolley, transfer to the bus, and be home again within about an hour or 90 minutes. It's four very short rides to get me there and back.

After the fare change that same $1.75 trip will cost a minimum of $5, and all incentive to leave the car at home is gone. After Jan 1 it will be $2 for the first bus, another $2 for the trolley, another $2 for the trolley home, and yet another $2 for that five minute bus ride back to the house. You get the choice of paying $8.00....or buying a $5 unlimited day pass. Either way, that's a big jump from $1.75.

This will probably not be a problem at all for all the fabulously wealthy, beautiful people that take public transit, but for everyone else, that is a significant increase. Especially for those who have no other transportation options.

I could almost always scrounge $1.75 out of the sofa cushions to pay for an emergency trip, but $5 is another story.

This is just one more reason it's getting harder and harder to afford to live in San Diego. It's already out of reach for me, but between family and my job, I'm not going anywhere soon.

It's depressing.

And it makes my wallet ache.

And it makes me wonder who the heck they think rides the bus.

And it makes me want to buy earplugs for the nice guy that drives my bus. It's not his fault, but boy oh boy, is he gonna get an earful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bad Blogger Update

I've not had much to say lately.

Well...I actually always have a lot to say, but unfortunately, not the time to get it down in writing. Work, family, holidays, etc.

So here are just a couple of little things I've recently run across, and in the spirit of the holidays I'll share them with you. Lucky you!

First, Glenn Greenwald on the underdogs in the presidential race. Good points, all. As always.

Edwards, Paul and Huckabee are obviously disparate in significant ways -- ideologically, temperamentally, and otherwise. But there is a vital attribute common to those three campaigns that explains the media's scorn: they are all, in their own ways, anti-establishment candidates, meaning they are outside and critical of the system of which national journalists are a critical part, the system which employs and rewards our journalists and forms the base of their identity and outlook. Any candidate who criticizes and opposes that system -- not in piecemeal ways but fundamentally -- will be, first, ignored and, then, treated as losers by the press.

I've long thought that part of this w/r/t Edwards is because the Republicans would rather face Hillary than Edwards in the general election. They minimize and marginalize and don't treat him seriously because that would increase his visibility and popularity. If Clinton is the frontrunner, that gives them the opportunity to draw out both your basic, crazed Clinton-hater voter, AND the crazed misogynist Clinton-hater vote. It's a two-fer.


Lucas posts at San Diego Politico about the San Diego County Board of Supervisors suing Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who in her recent Top-to-Bottom review of California voting systems, had the NERVE to insist we should not vote on insecure and unsecured electronic voting machines. Wow. Just wow. Brad Blog is on the case too.


And last but not least and without further comment...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Woo and Hoo!

Today's big terryfaceplace news is that the election to recall most of the members of the Potrero Planning Group was yesterday, and the entire "pro-Blackwater" slate has been replaced by an overwhelming margin. Excellent news. Not only is this a statement against Blackwater, but a stand against elected officials who've been nothing but arrogant at every turn.

I'm not going to go over all the details because much has been written on the subject already today, but this makes me very happy.

For more words, check out:

Juls at Kos and Calitics


Todd at MyDD

I just love this for three reasons. First, it's in large part a public NO vote against Blackwater establishing a base of operations in Potrero. It doesn't belong there. Where does it belong? I dunno. But I know it does not belong in Potrero. It's wrong for the area, and the people don't want it. Just go away, Blackwater.

Second, it's a vote against elected officials who had complete disregard for the wishes of a large part of their community. They were dismissive, arrogant and condescending to the people they were supposed to be representing. If anyone ever deserved to be recalled, it was those five members of the Potrero Planning Board. I do hope the San Diego Board of Supervisors is more attentive to the wishes of the locals when it comes their turn to cast their votes on the Blackwater project.

Third, this is a great victory for grassroots political activists. :-) That always makes me happy. The community put a lot of hard work into this through petitioning, GOTV efforts, and good old fashioned door knocking. It does my heart good. I'm a sucker for that democracy stuff.

On a related note, Courage Campaign has a brand spankin' new Block Blackwater site, where they've posted the following video of Potrero resident and new PPG member Carl Meyer, who's talking about his reasons for wanting to Block Blackwater. They will be providing updates and information about what you can do to be a part of the "Block Blackwater" movement.


Oh! And while I'm on the subject, remember waaaaay back last week when I posted about Blackwater's participation in the halftime show at the SDSU/BYU game? Well. If you want to see it for yourself, watch the Armed Forces Bowl Game between Cal State Berkeley and the Air Force Academy on New Years Eve. The parachute team is scheduled to participate in the "salute to the armed forces" themed entertainment. It'll be on ESPN. I'm just sayin'.

(edit)- More on the recall election in Potrero

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Holiday phone cards for veterans

This holiday season the Veterans for Peace are repeating their great Phone Cards for Veterans campaign that provides two hour, long distance phone cards to vets recuperating at the nation's VA hospitals.

We've worked with Sprint and gotten a great long-distance rate on these cards -- 2.9 cents per minute. This means that your tax-deductible contribution of $10.50 will get two-hour phone cards into the hands of three deserving veterans this December. A contribution of $52.50 will get phone cards into the hands of fifteen veterans.

Let me just repeat that...

...your tax-deductible contribution of $10.50 will get two-hour phone cards into the hands of three deserving veterans this December

$10.50 is next to nothing to many of us, but just imagine for a moment, the worth of a two hour phone card to someone stuck in a VA hospital, far from home during the holidays.

Now go click on the link and make a donation, willya? That can be your gift to me. ;-)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Blackwater drops in to San Diego

On Sunday I mentioned there were rumors that Blackwater had participated in the halftime show at the SDSU/BYU game over this past weekend? Here's the deal:

For the past three years, San Diego State University has participated in Fleet Week to honor the military. This year, it fell during the week of the Southern California fires, so the annual SDSU Fleet Week football game was postponed until this past weekend. That was the reason for the military angle of the halftime show, and the promotion was done in conjunction with the Fleet Week Foundation. This is nothing new. It's been done in years past.

However it appears that for the past three years, Blackwater USA has participated in the Fleet Week/SDSU game halftime show as a part of the production to honor the military in San Diego. is where I part company with anyone who think this might be just peachy.

I'm not opposed to the halftime show as a whole, nor do I don't have any problem with ceremonies honoring our veterans, as many of the Fleet Week events do throughout the year. My objection is this:

Blackwater is not part of the United States Armed Forces. They're a private company. Not to mention, a private company undergoing a series of federal investigations related from everything to arms smuggling, to steroid abuse, to the murder of civilians. In any case, they are not part of the US military force.

That line between the private and public sector needs sharpening, but Blackwater's participation in this event does nothing but blur the distinction. There are some functions that belong only under the control of the people, and not in the hands of for-profit corporations. War is one of them. When the people have a high stake in the international conflict, it's less likely to occur. When corporations have a stake in war, it's just the opposite. Businesses that make obscene profits during wartime, have no incentive to keep the peace. It's Eisenhower's military industrial complex writ large.

This video is a promo associated with last year's SDSU/Fleet Week game. If you forward ahead to the 2:43 mark, you can watch a parachutist with a huge Blackwater canopy above his head, and a giant American flag tied to his ankle, descend into Qualcomm Stadium.
Is it just me, or does that image make anyone else feel a little queasy?

Lucas from Calitics speaks wise:
Fleet Week events, which go on year round, are to honor veterans. I've attended several of them and in my experience they've been good opportunities to pay tribute to veterans. So I have a hard time understanding howBlackwater fits into the puzzle. They consistently undermine the work being done by our armed forces around the world and especially in Iraq. It seems a particularly unfortunate inclusion in the festivities; made all the more uncomfortable given that theBlackwater recall election culminates on Tuesday (12/11).

I spoke with Steve Becvar of the SDSU Athletic Foundation, which was involved in planning the event. He explained that this is the third year that Blackwater-affiliated parachutists had played a role in the Fleet Week game. He emphasized that the school was not seeking to make any sort of political point, simply to partner with the Fleet Week Foundation to honor veterans.

But despite what may well have been the best intentions of event organizers, Blackwater has NO business honoring veterans. Blackwater profits from war and has a vested interest in prolonging any military struggle as long as it increases revenue. They are, in fact, naturally at odds with everything that our veterans should be honored for. They dishonor the flag and all the people who have bled for it whenever they or their representatives try to wrap themselves or theBlackwater logo in the American flag.

This is the icing on my cake regarding Blackwater building a base of operations in San Diego. Not only is their proposed training camp wildly inappropriate for the location where they want to build in regard to land use and environmental issues, but I am deeply opposed to this blurring of the public and private sector in the military whether it be Blackwater or any other private corporation. The show at Qualcomm stadium this past Saturday puts a very fine point on it, but no matter how much they wish it to be so, Blackwater is not a part of the United States military force and I strongly object to their use of our military and our flag as a marketing opportunity and a PR device.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

This and that Sunday

Hi there. Here's a little bit of this and a little bit of that for your Sunday evening.

First off, I've been working with Permanent Progress on their Roll Call for Democracy website, and it's online now at It's a bit of a work in progress still, but it's coming together nicely, if I do say so myself. In addition to the campaign to take a "Roll Call" of those who support election integrity reforms, it features artwork by Kathy Peterson, aka kpete from Democratic Underground. More of her fascinating art will be online within the next few weeks too. I'll be sure to link to that when it's live because, imo it's great stuff, and deserves the attention.

Check out the site for both the campaign as well as kpete's art, and while you're there you can listen to a clip of Suzanne Erb singing the Declaration of Independence.

In weekend rumor news, I'm hearing a buzz that Blackwater performed in the SDSU/BYU football game half time show at Qualcomm Stadium last night by parachuting into the stadium and distributing Blackwater promotional items. If so, I find that pretty damn outrageous. Blackwater has been very clear that they'll be conducting a big PR campaign in San Diego in the hope of swaying public sentiment that's currently running hot against their building of a para-military training camp in Potrero. That's not a big surprise. But at the college football game? If true, SDSU really dropped the ball, judgement-wise. They're an awfully controversial organization these days in light of unjustified killings they've been accused of in Iraq, and investigations into steroid abuse and weapons smuggling, State Department investigations, and being called in front of congress for a little bit of good, old fashioned over-sight. I imagine there will be more on this story, doncha think?

The Dirty Tricksters are still collecting signatures to try and get their so-called Presidential Election Reform Act on the CA ballot in time to rig the November 2008 elections. Sheesh. If this got on the ballot and passed, we might as well just let our congresscritters do our voting for us. But it seems to me that they're having a bit of trouble collecting enough sigs since the recommended date for getting them to the Secretary of State's office was November 29. That doesn't break my heart.

Let's see....what else? ....I have a job interview this week, so send me some good jobma please. Kind of like karma, but job related.

That's about all I have to report for now. Happy Monday!

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Blackwater in Potrero

Alternate Focus, a San Diego based, independent media group that focuses on issues in the Middle East, has released their documentary Blackwater in Potrero. It includes interviews with people on all sides of the issue of building a military-style training camp in the small town of Potrero, and I think they did a good job.

The program will be shown on the Dish Network, Free Speech TV, Channel 9415 and through other cable providers, and here are the air times for the show on Free Speech TV (all times EST):

Mon Dec 03 @ 05:30, 09:30, 15:30
Wed Dec 05 @ 11:30, 17:30
Thu Dec 06 @ 05:30
Fri Dec 07 @ 23:30
Sat Dec 08 @ 10:30
Sun Dec 09 @ 02:30

Or just watch it here!