Friday, July 06, 2007

Society of American Magicians - More Magic Blogging

Last night I attended the stage magic contest here at the Society of American Magicians convention. It was held at the historic Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas. It was a great venue for the show and the contestants all did fine jobs.

My favorite was a young woman from China Shin Juan, if I got her name right. She appeared in traditional Chinese dancers attire, with giant pheasant feathers protruding from her headdress. Very colorful. She proceeded to produce bouquets of paper flowers from her bare hands. These bouquets would then cascade to the floor in a shower of paper blooms. She followed this with bare hand production of flower after flower. Her act was colorful and charming. As she danced to the strains of traditional Chinese music, she punctuated her performance with more bouquets and occasionally colorful silk streamers.

As a finale, she levitated above a bush and produced huge silk flowers that billowed forth with silk streamers. BY the end of her performance, the stage was ankle deep in paper flowers and color. A very original and impressive act!

More later.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Blogging From The Society of American Magicians Convention In Dallas

So I am reliving some of my childhood this week. I was a magician in my younger years and at the suggestion of a couple of friends who are still in the magic fraternity, I am attending the Society of American Magicians annual convention in Dallas. The organization has been around for many years, in fact Harry Houdini was the first president.

I attended a couple of lectures today and prowled around the trade show vendors mart. Yes, there is a trade show for magicians. Where else would they get their new effects? (that's tricks in magi-speak)

I still do a little prestidigitation for friends, so I have loaded up on a few new gadgets. Also having a good time visiting with the folks who I remember from my youth. A few are still around!

Tonight and every night through Saturday there are big stage shows at the Majestic Theatre in downtown. These are open to the public, and if you are in Dallas check it out. Some performances will be very good and some will be just OK, but it will be fun I guarantee.

Fred Thompson Gay? Rumors, Rumors & More Rumors

Andrew Sullivan over at the Atlantic Online has an interesting rumor. Seems Fred Thompson, the "Great GOP Hope" has a colorful past. In his latest column he hints at the sexual preferences of the politician/actor/presidential candidate. I suspect his hiring Rick Santorum's former campaign guy, Robert Traynham who was outed after working for the campaign of his homophobic boss.

Besides, everyone knows if you come from Hollywood you are gay. (Or at least strange.)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Students Confront Bush On Torture

Sometimes it takes someone with a young energetic voice to speak truth to power. A group of High School scholars met with the President today and one of them handed him a letter in which she asked him to stop the torture of detainees and cease illegal renditions.

Bush replied with his same lie, "we do not torture people". The student responded with specific points detailing how we do torture and Bush was unable to reply.

From the mouths of babes, or in this case teenagers. Perhaps there is hope for our country after all. Alternet has the video.

Teenage Pharmacy Technicians Filling Prescriptions

Brian Ross at ABC News does an investigative report on the Pharmacy industry in the US. His findings are unsettling to say the least. In one case he found a pharmacy, a Walgreen's in Lakeland, Florida with a high school aged pharmacy technician typing orders. The problem, she mistakenly typed a prescription for 10 times the dose of blood thinner for an elderly patient.
He previous job? Cleaning a movie theatre.

This is not an isolated case according to the report. Major drugstore chains regularly rely on clerks as young as 16 to handle prescriptions and critical information. After seeing our towns latest high school test reports, I find this really frightening. Lots of kids are in high school and can't read or write beyond a 6th grade level. Check those RX bottles really closely!

White House Phone Numbers On Bloggers Site

Give the White House a call and tell the folks there how you feel about the Libby fiasco, and while you are at it let the President and Vice President know they should do the honorable thing and resign.

The following link has a complete directory of the internal numbers so you can bypass the switchboard which will be jammed anyway. Now these numbers are a few days old, so they might have been changed.


MSNBC's Olbermann Calls For Bush & Cheney To Resign

Finally a journalist and commentator who tels it like it is. Keith Olbermann called for both Bush and Cheney to resign in his commentary last night. It's about time someone other than the bloggers said it, too.

Here is a quote from his broadcast:

It is nearly July 4th, Mr. Bush, the commemoration of the moment we Americans decided that rather than live under a King who made up the laws, or erased them, or ignored them—or commuted the sentences of those rightly convicted under them—we would force our independence, and regain our sacred freedoms.

We of this time—and our leaders in Congress, of both parties—must now live up to those standards which echo through our history: Pressure, negotiate, impeach—get you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney, two men who are now perilous to our Democracy, away from its helm.
For you, Mr. Bush, and for Mr. Cheney, there is a lesser task. You need merely achieve a very low threshold indeed. Display just that iota of patriotism which Richard Nixon showed, on August 9th, 1974.


And give us someone—anyone—about whom all of us might yet be able to quote John Wayne, and say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy 4th Of July

Since tomorrow is the 4th of July, the day we commemorate our Independence, I think hearing from our of our founding fathers might be appropriate. The following quote is from John Adams, our second president and a signer of the Declariation of Independence.

“Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal
a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and
miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political
institution which is founded on it.” John Adams.

Here we sit in a nation that is governed by a President who spins fear like a web, ensnaring our liberties with the promise of security. In reality fear is all Bush has. It is his standard reply whenever he is in trouble. "Terrorists", "Evil Doers" and other boogie men are his weapons and we sem to fall for the trick every time.

Yes there are bad guys out there. Yes some of them are probably going to hurt Americans. However, we have an equally bad guy running our country, and his tactics have become transparent. Bush and more correctly, Cheney are masters of missdirection. WHenever they are confrotnted with an expose of their lies and wrongdoing, they point left and right at whatever new distraction they can conjure. Well on this Independence Day, I for one, have stopped looking. The big criminals are seated in the White House, and the sooner we get them out the better. Write your Congressperson or Senator and demand a new independence through impeachment of these evil dooers.

Cheney Might Have Made The Call On Libby's Commutation

In a press conference this morning, Tony Snow confirmed what most of us believe anyway. Our real President is Dick Cheney. If you read the Washington Post series on Cheney you get the big picture of just how much power he has. It is unprecedented for a VP to have the kind of staff and power Cheney has. Only one explanation, he is really the President.

Snow was asked whether Dick Cheney's views on the commutation of Scooter Libby influenced the President's decision. He gave a vague answer, "everybody had an opportunity to share their views." That answer is typical when this Administration is confronted with a tough question. They give a big answer that if licked apart with legal precision could have a grain of truth. In other words, by not saying "no" Snow said yes.

There is speculation now that Cheney might hire Libby back. That would be the kind of hubris I have come to expect from Cheney. He has no respect for the opinion of the American public, since he considers himself above the rest of us. Just like Bush, with his signing statements, Cheney is part of a ruling elite and mere mortal laws do not apply. He makes me sick!

Shredded Humvees Hit By IEDs Hidden By Pentagon

A few days ago I saw a bumper sticker that really summed it up, "Nice Hummer, Sorry About Your Penis". The Hummer or Humvee in it's military incarnation has always been a macho machine. Big, wide and a gas guzzler. As with it's civilian counterpart, it looks formidable, but in reality it's a bit of a sham.

On the home front, as a suburban assault vehicle, the Hummer gives the illusion of a big safe vehicle. In reality try finding crash test results on a big Hummer online. None there!

On the war front, the Humvee has a far different rating. It's deadly. Humvees without special armor, the kind that most soldiers in Iraq are driving are favorite targets of insurgents. Their roadside IEDs Improvised Explosive Devices are very effective in disabling the Humvee and injuring or killing the occupants.

This is the military's dirty secret. So dirty that they are hiding the shredded Humvees on bases all over Iraq. They are covered with tarps and off-limits to any photographers. Raw Story has the video clip from a CNN story about the problem.

So now why aren't there any crash test results for a Hummer available to consumers online?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bush Pardons Criminal Buddy

Bush commuted Scooter Libby's sentence and will get him 2 years probation instead. No surprise here. Bush clearly wants his buddies who have taken the rap for his crimes to go free. Now it's time the American people went after the real criminals, Cheney and Bush in that order.
Demand impeachment from your Congressperson and Senators. These guys cannot continue to ruin our country and defile our Constitution.

Scooter's pardon should send a clear signal to all Americans that the Bushies are going to try to break the law again and again without consequences. It has to stop!

Bush Wondering If People Hate America or Just Him

President Bush has long seemed out of touch with America, but now we have confirmation. Seems he has been meeting with friends and pundits to find out why the world hates America. Instead he has found that the world hates him.

Peter Baker writing in the Washington Post says, "Bush seems alone, isolated by events beyond his control, with trusted advisers taking their leave and erstwhile friends turning on him."

Yet Bush still remains upbeat. Baker, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute sees this as the sign that he is out of touch with reality. Well, that just confirms my opinion!

Sorry George, I gotta say it's not America the world hates, and that leaves just you. Oh yea, and Dick Cheney!

McCain Campaign Plays Well - Just Not In This Country

I gotta wonder where John McCain went wrong. After all, he did change from the moderate voice of reason to a line-towing Bushie, and that should have gotten him something, shouldn't it? He made a trip to Baghdad for a faked-up photo op and that should have motivated the GOP base, shouldn't it? He is even going back to Iraq for another photo op this 4th of July.

OK, here is the truth John. You caved to Bush and you look like a toady. Just another Bush "yes man" who can't think for himself. Your trips to Iraq might be a good idea if you are running for President of Iraq, but you aren't John, at least I don't think you are. You even back the Immigration Reform Bill and heck John, you should know the "base" doesn't want them "foreigners" here in this country!

It is no surprise to me that McCain isn't doing so well in the fundraising battle. He is out of touch with the majority of the country. He has thrown his lot in with a failed President and his only backers are the few brain dead voters who still think the country is headed in the right direction. McCain announced today he is dropping 50+ staffers. Will it be any surprise when he drops out completely?

Dallas Booms! Fireworks Accident Creates Amazing Show

It was only the 1st of July but it was a Sunday and a good day for the celebration. Dallas Booms, held for a second year at Fair Park was not very well attended. No surprise since the weather had been threatening all day. The event presented by the city, Cadbury Schweppes and WRR FM features the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and, what else...FIREWORKS!

My friends and I packed up our lawn chairs and headed off to Fair Park in Patrick's Prius. We got a great parking spot only a few hundred yards from the gate and found a nice dry spot to set up our chairs.

The concert featured the usual patriotic songs and American composers. I have to admit I am a sucker for Arron Copeland, and the movement of "Appalachian Spring" based on the Shaker song "Tis a Joy to be Simple" always sends shivers up my spine. The only break in the all American program was the "1812 Overture". But hey, what better way to kick off the booms than the real cannon fire used in the piece and of course the start of the fireworks show.

Things were going great, the fireworks synchronized (sort of) to the concert until the end of the "Liberty Bell" march (Monty Python's theme song). At what seemed like an inopportune moment the sky erupted with a burst of fireworks that deafened the crowd. Hundreds of shells all shot upward simultaneously and the light was almost blinding.

I remarked to my friends, "that was not supposed to happen."

The remainder of the program proved me right. The finale was "Stars and Stripes Forever" and the sky remained dark throughout. Seems that all the rest of the fireworks show accidentally exploded at once. Hopefully no one was hurt. I suspect the firing mechanism shorted out and ignited all the remaining shells. It was the most spectacular display I had ever seen, just starting a few minutes too early to coincide with the musical crescendo. Oh well, it was still fun!

As the unexpected dense cloud of smoke descended on the crowd and the orchestra finished, we made our way back to the car. I love the smell of gunpowder!