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Stateside With Rosalea: All Over the Place

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

All Over the Place

::Aren't we there yet?::

I can't believe there's still six weeks until the end of the year. Retailers started advertising their "holiday" sales even before Veterans Day (11/11) was over. And it's clear the holiday they're referring to isn't this week's Thanksgiving. No, there are snowflakes in the ads, so it's obviously the Holiday Whose Names We Dare Not Speak, You know, the one that features the lighting of Yule trees.

::Best ad::

I don't know how long it's been playing, but this week I noticed a public service TV ad showing a train bearing down full speed on a man who is standing with his back to it. He is saying words to the effect that the irreversible effects of global warming are so far down the track--30 years--that he's not worried about it. The train comes closer; he steps calmly out of the way. Behind him, with no time to escape, is a child.

::Saddest eavesdrop::

I was reminded this week of a friend who took his life by lying down on train tracks. A woman on the bus that is the final leg of our trips to work was telling the driver that just in this month in the Bay Area four people committed suicide by walking out in front of Amtrak trains--the other part of her commute. The very next night, there was another one.

Perhaps these people are being driven to the tracks by the pressure of "happy family-ness"--which can only be created by overindulgence in food and the purchase of consumer goods, if ads and stories in the media are anything to go by at this time of year. Or maybe it's the foreclosures up triple-fold now the housing market has corrected itself, stranding the already-poor on Destitution Beach.

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::A bridge::

A small Senate bill that the tail end of the 109th Congress is considering is one to name a bridge over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in Delaware after the late Senator William V. Roth, Jr., who served two terms in the House from 1966 to 1970 before being elected to the Senate in 1970, where he served until 2000. He died in 2003. Already passed unanimously in the Senate last year, the bill is now being considered by the House.

According to the Congressional Record, the gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr Petri, said that "Senator Roth was a well-known fiscal conservative who is probably best known outside his home State of Delaware as the creator of the individual retirement account that bears his name, the Roth IRA." The bridge, I assume, is made of spun sugar just like the entire financial investment industry is.

Delaware is the Indebtedness Capital of the World, harboring within its tax-havened boundaries a gazillion credit card companies and financial institutions that suck the life out of the US economy.

::S. 1516 and H.R. 1630::

On the other hand, as the gentleman from Oregon, Mr Blumenauer, remarked, Roth was "very clear that investment in a national rail passenger service, Amtrak, was good sound fiscal investment. it was good for the environment. It was good for transportation." This, despite Roth being "a fiscal conservative to the bone."

I wonder what he would make of the two bills in the Senate and House intended to re-authorize financing for Amtrak for 2006-2008. They've been languishing since 2005, so quite what Amtrak has been running on this year I don't know, unless it's the record-setting $1.37 billion in ticket revenue it took in for fiscal year 06, which runs from October 2005 to September 2006.

::Stadii update::

Is there such a word? Whatever. Not only do we have the crise de nom regarding the San Francisco 49ers--whose billionaire owners want to move them to Santa Clara but keep the gold rush era name associated with SF--but the owners of the East Bay's football team, the Oakland Raiders, are in a blue funk because their claim for damages has been slapped down by a court in Sacramento.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Team owners argued that local officials' deception about advance ticket sales lured them into moving from Los Angeles to Oakland rather than the more lucrative market of Baltimore. ... The Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982 after 22 years in Oakland, and returned in 1995 after plans for a new stadium in Southern California fell through."

::Please, oh please, don't go there::

The image on my computer's desktop is a folk painting by two sisters in Britain. It shows a black elephant and a white elephant head-to-head with the black elephant seeming to vanquish the white one. The black elephant's body is made up of blokes in All Black uniforms and the white one is made up of US football players complete with all the body armour that entails.

With my homeboys losing their college football game yesterday while the ABs won in France, I was naturally musin' and cruisin' the Internet and was astonished at how embarrassed I was by the photos at the All website. Firstly, I've become so used to all that gear the football players here wear that the ABs look half-naked. But, please, stop posing for all those cutesy photos cos ya just look plain stupid.

Nonetheless, I didn't make any friends for myself here either when I went to the college football season's opening game a couple of weeks ago and pointed out how the exhibition half-time lacrosse match featured women wearing no body armour at all, and they were dangerously waving around sticks that could cause serious injury.

Folks here just refuse to see what a wuss-fest American football is. All because it's Big Money and something to play in between ads for pick-up trucks and burgers. Oh, and the great new ads for, which are so un-PC they're the apple of my eye.

::Canadian invasion::

One sport that features much-needed body armour is ice hockey. The saying, "I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out" pretty much says it all. It's Canada's favourite sport.

But what the heck do I know about ice hockey... I'm just segueing into some goss about Canadian businesses taking over some important Bay Area operations. For example, the Chronicle will be printed by a Canadian company after May 1, 2009, which is when the contract the paper has with the printers union will expire.

But we probably won't have to wait that long for a union fracas if some local bus-driver talk is anything to go by. AC Transit has seemingly given the contract for determining its bus schedules to a Canadian company that thinks moving buses on the East Bay freeways--between, say Oakland and Richmond--while still expecting them to keep to city street schedules within those cities, is a good idea.

My only experience with Canadian bus schedules dates from a few years back when I went to Vancouver and stayed in a student hostel far out of the city centre in order to save money. I figured there'd be plenty of buses to town. Normally there would have been, but the city's bus drivers were all out on strike for months and other local transport operators asked commuters not to cross picket lines at their bus, train, and ferry terminals as well.

::American equation::

I have a theory that everything about US domestic and foreign policy can be explained by the following two equations:

COI plus ed plus dollars equals Google

COI plus ed plus DC equals Gitmo

where COI stands for "child of immigrants", ed means higher education, and DC means power.

John Yoo, the legal-eagle architect of Gitmo incarcerations, is the son of South Korean immigrants; and one of the architects of Google is the son of Russian immigrants. (Yoo, by the way, has a Kiwi connection--he is married to the daughter of the Kiwi journalist famed for his work with CNN during the first Gulf War, Peter Arnett.)

Henry Kissinger also was the son of immigrants, and we know where having him as Secretary of State got us. It's worth reading the transcript of this interview on the BBC--which is making news here in the US today--to try and sense where the world's headed over the next six weeks:

Of course I'm a loon who has to wear a tinfoil hat lest the CIA poisons my brain, but what if Gitmo is just a place where folks are trained, like dolphins, to go where they're told after they've had a bomb strapped to them, in order to destabilise the situation in Iraq to the point where US withdrawal is out of the question?

And what if you then get other world leaders to say that other countries in the region HAVE to pitch in to stabilise the Middle East, and Iran--characterised by Kissinger as a crusade not a nation--says Go to Blighty? Hey, no nuclear reactors or weapons of mass destruction required!!

::Tonga riots no surprise::

Well, not to conspiracy theorists like me. I mean, you can't help but wonder why the young woman whose speeding car clipped the Ford Explorer containing the reform-minded members of the Tongan royal family here in the Bay Area back in September had her bail set so high it was called "unconstitutional".

She remained at the scene, and apparently said she was being chased by a black Cadillac SUV. Uh, isn't that what the Secret Service drive? Was she deliberately crowded into causing the accident? The Cadillac driver never stopped and has never come forward to give his side of the story. Sheesh, Mr President, just how many areas of the world have to be destabilised before your power-lust is satisfied?

(Hey, you can put the little white canvas strapped number away; I write scripts for a non-living.)

::Where’s my commission?::

You know that boarded-up gas station in the fog I included in my election day photo ramble? It now bears a sign saying “Coming Soon, Silver Gas and Diesel.” Aaargh! Just what we need—yet another traffic/pedestrian hazard on an already hazardous family-home-lined street linking two freeways.



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