Vicarious travel

My sister called this morning to say she was flying to Spokane to see a sick friend, and once she confirmed her flight she wanted me to book a couple of seats for her daughter and grandson too. I agreed, of course. I didn’t realize that I was committing myself to navigating an airline’s website.

Hoo boy. “What flight? Okay, easy. “First class or coach?” Still easy. “Which seats?” Huh? Oh dear, how do I know where my niece and her son might want to sit? And are there still two seats together anyway? Oh, look there are still two seats next to one another! Grab ‘em quick!

“How would you like to pay for this?” Er, a credit card. “Number?” Here. “Expiration Date?” Here. I was prepared for the security number question, but it never came up.

“Refundable ticket? Only $25 more apiece!” Er, no? “Trip Insurance?” Nuh-uh. “Are you sure?” Yeah.

“Trip confirmed.” Okay, where’s the “print” button on this screen? Oh, there it is. Oh wait, there’s an email button next to it. Even better. What’s my niece’s email address? What’s my sister’s?

I remember when you parked your car in the airport garage or somebody dropped you off, you walked to the ticket counter and inquired whether there was a seat on the flight you wanted, paid for it, and walked down to the gate. That seems simpler somehow.

I blame John Yoo

If this isn’t torture, I don’t know what might be. A Republican (of course) state senator from Florida (also of course) has drafted a bill to make it mandatory for high school students to watch Dinesh D’Souza’s op/ed film “America.” Never mind that the movie did only $2.5M in box office when it was released, it made a great impression on Senator Alan Hays.

The Hollywood Reporter: “The first problem with the film is its overstatement of these anti-American tenets ostensibly running rampant in our society.


D’Souza posits a simmering crisis that doesn’t really exist outside a few college campuses. Most of his theories and suppositions are misleading at best (he makes a point of mentioning that Obama supported the bank bailouts but fails to mention whose presidency they occurred under) and silly at worst (such as his assertion that the real face of income inequality is none other than Matt Damon since he made a lot of money from those Jason Bourne films)

Salon:The lies D’Souza must disabuse us of, in order: First, that the genocide of Native Americans happened in relation to the conquest of their land; second, that African slave labor was exploited to build the American economy; third, that Mexican territories were conquered to form the U.S. Southwest; fourth, that U.S. wars abroad have involved imperial motives; fifth, that capitalism is bad.

The argumentation itself is bad, laughably bad.

  • Native Americans were bad treaty-keepers who were already killing each other, the brutes
  • As for African slaves, D’Souza is content to point out that some whites were indentured servants and some blacks owned slaves themselves; in the wacky world of Dinesh, racism has no legacy, only a distant past.
  • Were Mexican territories conquered? Yeah, D’Souza submits, but then he gets a Mexican-American to say that’s cool with him, and Ted Cruz shambles briefly on to bemoan the status of Texans under Mexican rule, which I guess coalesces into a weird unspoken just war theory.
  • As for U.S. wars abroad, D’Souza supposes the torture of a Vietnam POW in the Hanoi Hilton made the whole thing even, and glosses over Iraq and Afghanistan in a couple of slick asides: we gave them democracy!
  • His discussion of American capitalism is even stranger and more schizophrenic, dashing between clips of Michael Moore and Occupy and alighting briefly upon a black woman who used to be on welfare but then got off it because her friends told her it was ungodly. She then muses that she didn’t even know there were churches while she was on welfare. Just didn’t even know the Christian religion had institutional meeting places, no idea what all those buildings with crosses on top were, and D’Souza nods gravely along: this is what welfare does, the viewer intimates.

It might not be classifiable as corporal punishment to require this be shown to Florida middle and high-schoolers, but it will almost certainly cause mental anguish.

The final indignity

You know, Arizona, it’s bad enough your execution cocktail didn’t work too well and the guy you were trying to kill “repeatedly gasped for one hour and 40 minutes” before he finally died. But then you compounded it by sending a death announcement out to the media misidentifying the man who was killed.

News outlets, including TPM, received the announcement at 3:56 p.m. Arizona time, just seven minutes after Wood was pronounced dead. The first paragraph of the announcement was this:

PHOENIX, AZ (Wednesday, July 23, 2014) – After several days of legal maneuvering, Attorney General Tom Horne is announcing the execution of 55-year-old, Robert G. Jones, ADC #086279. The execution commenced at 1:52 p.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Florence. He was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m.


A short time later, at 4:16 p.m. local time, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office sent out a corrected announcement with the name highlighted:

PHOENIX, AZ (Wednesday, July 23, 2014) – After several days of legal maneuvering, Attorney General Tom Horne is announcing the execution of 55-year-old, Joseph R.Wood III, ADC #086279. The execution commenced at 1:52 p.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Florence. He was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m.

Mr. Jones was executed by the state in October of last year.

It’s nice to know Arizona takes its death penalty responsibilities so seriously, isn’t it?

Day-old news, but still pertinent

Texas likes to say it’s got the biggest and best of everything. Well, it’s certainly got one of the biggest political idiots in the country. Governor Rick Perry, who thankfully has decided not to run for a fourth term as Governor, has decided that he should send 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border to help do something about the women and children coming into the country from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

If the refugees were invading with knives held in their teeth, bandoliers across their chests and rifles in their hands I could see sending soldiers to the region to repel them. As it is, they get across the river and peacefully surrender to Border Patrol agents. It seems to me Perry would do better sending 1,000 immigration judges and social workers down there; that’s what’s needed. After all, Perry’s predecessor as Governor of Texas is the guy who signed the law which requires that “most of the unaccompanied minors being caught by Border Patrol agents must be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which coordinates care for them, finds them safe housing and helps advise them on their legal rights as their immigration cases are decided.”

It’s still the law, Governor. How you can mistake the National Guard for DHHS is beyond me. Those new glasses you’re sporting need their prescription checked.

New library!

The new Aiea Library, opened on Saturday, July 19, 2014 -- Photo credit: Kennard S Chong

The new Aiea Library, opened on Saturday, July 19, 2014 — Photo credit: Kennard S Chong

Look where I get to go to get books now! Control your envy, all you librarian friends! Here are two more pictures from the architects, and here’s a TV news story about the history and construction on the site.

I walked in there today, and it’s wonderful! It’s got Catalog computers, wifi Internet computers, books, books, books, DVDs, CDs, big spacious meeting rooms, about three times as many parking stalls as the old facility, and a wonderful view.

The neighborhood is happy!

Crash in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin is incapable of shame or embarrassment, I’m afraid. He’s certainly not going to admit any guilt for supporting the murderous vandals who managed to kill 298 people on Malaysia Air Flight 17 with a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile. Nor is he going to assist investigators by giving them a clear path to do their work, judging from the refusal on the part of pro-Russian separatists to allow them onto the crime scene.

Ukraine released a video which purportedly shows a missile launcher large enough to shoot down a plane at 33,000 feet leaving the country heading for Russia. There’s no way to verify that it was the one which was fired at MH17, though.

I think Vlad has a bunch of tigers by the tail in Eastern Ukraine who have now brought down the wrath of Europe, Asia and the United States upon him, and he doesn’t know how to get out from under. Therefore he blusters. He’s a champ at that.


The claim about the current influx of mothers and children to the US from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador which infuriates me the most is the one which says they’re bringing diseases into this country. Not true.

While some of the kids are indeed ill, they don’t have anything exotic or unexpected, said Dr. Mark Ward of Texas Children’s Hospital, who is president of the Texas Pediatric Society.

“As might be expected from children that had endured long journeys, they are tired,” Ward told NBC News. Some have common diarrheal and respiratory illnesses, he said.


World Bank statistics indicate that some of the countries that the kids are traveling from actually have higher vaccination rates than the United States. The U.S. has a 92 percent vaccination rate for measles. Mexico vaccinates 99 percent of its children; Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras all have a 93 percent vaccination rate.

Then there’s the lie that Representative Phil Gingrey, a Republican (of course) from Georgia is spreading: that these kids will bring Ebola to our shores. Now, Gingrey is a physician. He knows damned well that Ebola comes only from Africa and spreads via physical contact and only physical contact with someone who’s got it

Ebola then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people,

and he should be reprimanded by his local medical association for knowingly saying otherwise. As Charlie Pierce says,

The idea that an elected official even would consider ginning up that kind of thing by appealing to the nativist ignorance of his audience is nearly beyond belief. That said elected official is a physician is an almost comical disgrace. That anyone anywhere would do it while people are dying unremarked in an authentically terrifying medical catastrophe, simply because his primary audience is made up of people who simply hate the undifferentiated brown people with whom they have to share the planet, makes Phil Gingrey an object of justified contempt.

Lucky me

I went out to the driveway this afternoon, fear and trepidation in my heart. I was sure the car wouldn’t start, simply because it hadn’t been driven long enough after I got it jumped last night.

I was wrong. It started right up and purred along as though it had never run down. Phew.