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Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday, it's All About the Green!

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Black Friday, it’s All About the Green!

The holiday shopping season officially begins in earnest today, as millions of anxious shoppers spend their day jostling for parking spaces among throngs of irritable, but willing participants in this annual ritual. Black Friday, yes, it’s tradition now. Up goes the brilliantly illuminated but obviously artificial Christmas trees, standing testament to what’s really behind this seasonal cash-letting frenzy. It’s all about the cash, my friends. Black Friday is all about the green!

Ah, tis the season. Our new plasma, wide-screen televisions are just jumping with adorable digital images of ice-skating bears, and beer bottles going for the field goal. None of it’s real of course. Not even the fat, jolly guy who get’s all the credit for what many of us will still be paying for next year at this time. The fat guy did it! I’m a victim of identity theft.

And you really feel alright about letting your three year old site on this guys lap? I’d swear, without the hat and beard, he looks like that sex offender who just moved in across the street from the comic book store. You don’t suppose?

And should Santa care who’s been naughty? Isn’t the holiday supposed to be about sharing? If we didn’t share with those who have been naughty, we would have the whole world to ourselves. Correction, you would.

List or no list, I would undoubtedly fall into the ‘naughty’ category, primarily, because I am categorically naughty. You know the bit. Sometimes, when I am angry or impatient, I speak in tongues. I go into fits, slurring and flailing about like some madman, spewing vindictive even the Bible wouldn’t repeat.

In fact I suspect a lot more people can relate than care to admit. Furthermore, I would be willing to be all the money that changes hands this holiday season, thousands, if not millions are speaking in similar tongues at this very moment, shouting, and slurring, as they drive endless circles through endless parking lots in search for a lone space, any space, in a sea of cars and humanity, all in quest of black nirvana. Black Friday, if you prefer.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pardon Me, Mr. President?

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

As is customary around the White House this time of year, president George W. Bush proved once again he is not one to be meddled with. This is a man who as governor of Texas executed more humans than all other forty-nine states combined during the same time period, but pardons the Thanksgiving turkey as a demonstration of his compassion. Only in America!

So in honor of the turkey that got away, let’s all celebrate with a little levity, and a few quotes by perhaps our most quotable president, none other than that decorated bush pilot, out fearless decider… our commander, oh to hell with it! Let’s bring it on!

"America better beware of a candidate who is willing to stretch reality in order to win points." —George W. Bush, aboard his campaign plane, Sept. 18, 2000

"We'll let our friends be the peacekeepers and the great country called America will be the pacemakers." —George W. Bush, Houston, Texas, Sept. 6, 2000

"I'm gonna talk about the ideal world, Chris. I've read — I understand reality. If you're asking me as the president, would I understand reality, I do." —George W. Bush on abortion, MSNBC's "Hardball," May 31, 2000

"Will the highways on the Internet become more few?" —George W. Bush, Concord, N.H., Jan. 29, 2000

"I am mindful of the difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch. I assured all four of these leaders that I know the difference, and that difference is they pass the laws and I execute them." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2000

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." —Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000

"If you don't stand for anything, you don't stand for anything! If you don't stand for something, you don't stand for anything!" —George W. Bush, Bellevue Community College, Nov. 2, 2000

"I'm not really the type to wander off and sit down and go through deep wrestling with my soul." —George W. Bush, as quoted in Vanity Fair, October 2000

"Never again in the halls of Washington, D.C., do I want to have to make explanations that I can't explain." —George W. Bush, Portland, Oregon, Oct. 31, 2000

"They said, 'You know, this issue doesn't seem to resignate with the people.' And I said, you know something? Whether it resignates or not doesn't matter to me, because I stand for doing what's the right thing, and what the right thing is hearing the voices of people who work." —George W. Bush, Portland, Ore., Oct. 31, 2000

Now then, wasn’t that fun?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

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Friday, November 16, 2007

If I Were President and Other Bad Ideas

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

If I were president…
A question pondered by many, but one that can only be answered by a select few. What would I do, you ask? Well for starters…

As president of the United States, I’d probably spend much of my time in the White House rose garden, hanging with the gardener. I would undoubtedly seek his advice on a variety of subjects, starting with perennials. I might even appoint him (or her) to the Supreme Court should the opportunity arise. (After all, it almost worked with Harriet Miers).

B. Thomas Cooper

If I were president, I would use my executive powers to insist upon the completion of the Mount Rushmore busts, which have been left unfinished for over a half a century. (Let’s see the Taliban try to destroy these busts).

I would hire an architect to install some corners in the Oval Office. I would fire Richard Cheney, and replace him with a lawn sprinkler. Actually, I don’t think it really matters what I replace Cheney with, just as long as I replace him.

I would take cooking lessons from the White House chef, and demonstrate my exquisite taste to foreign dignitaries. I would have a Taco Bell installed next to the Lincoln Bedroom. I would stay up late at night watching Conan, and fall asleep on the couch with a mouthful of pretzels.

Come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t make the best president. Then again, who would? Some of us were simply never cut out for the roll of President of the United States, and frankly, the current administration is going to be a tough act to follow.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Monday, November 12, 2007

An Era of Steel and Steam

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Rainbow Train Arriving It was an age of steel and steam. It was a time of great power and wealth. Soon the world would be forever changed by this new mechanical marvel, the steam locomotive, the driving force behind the industrial revolution.

For centuries, man had understood the potential of steam as an energy source, but it took until 1803 before Samuel Homfray was able to successfully harness that energy with his invention of the steam engine. The first successful railway followed soon after, when on March 25th, 1807, England began passenger service between Swansea and Mumbles.

Across the pond, America was developing it’s own railway, and by 1869, eighteen hundred miles of track connected Omaha, Nebraska with Sacramento, California. The resulting improvement of trade routes was felt throughout the world. Within a decade, the industrial revolution was on a roll.

Steam Engine

By 1893, the U.S. had completed five transcontinental trunk lines and no less than 260,000 miles of track. Monopolies flourished. A brilliant engineer named Theodore Judah successfully persuaded Washington to pony up ten to twenty square miles of land and at least $48,000 for every mile of track completed. The track was laid by armies of imported Chinese ’coolies’, laborers who toiled relentlessly while rail barons were popping champagne corks and charging glasses in celebration.

Enter, Andrew Carnegie, philosopher and opportunist, and in later years, philanthropist. At age 18, Carnegie caught the eye of Pennsylvania rail baron Tom Scott, becoming his personal secretary and telegraph operator. Carnegie however, had great plans for the future. The unbreakable grip of the iron industry was about to give way to steel.

By the turn of the century, William McKinley was president, and in 1903, New York State enacted legislation prohibiting the operation of steam locomotives south of the Harlem river, thus ushering in the era electrified tracks. The first use of internal combustion engines began in 1913, and was quickly superseded by the invention of the diesel locomotive, which proved more effective. The times, they were a changing.

During the great depression, the railroad became symbolic of the American struggle. Today we look back on these amazing machines as products of a bygone era. The mighty iron horse has been put to pasture. Or has it?

The steam engine may be a thing of the past, but today, light rail tracks and monorails are springing up in greater numbers. Perhaps these are not the romantic machines made famous by daring engineers like Casey Jones, but they provide safer, if not more efficient service. Meanwhile, thousands of miles of railway still grace the countryside, as modern locomotives pull seemingly endless processions of freight cars, hauling lumber, cattle, and virtually everything in between.

Away in the distance, a lonesome whistle blows. Tonight, perhaps further in the distance than in recent memory. The age of steel and steam has passed, but the dreams of those who dared make it happen, remain. An era, vanishes in a puff of smoke. A new era begins.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor