Friday, November 6, 2009

Stories from the Road -- Front Royal, VA

On most days, the Blue Ridge is a misnomer. The pre-industrial days featured a blue, pollution-less haze on the distant horizon overlooking western Virginia. Thereafter, the haze turned whiter and "thicker", with mean visibility substantially diminished. The haze is slowly enveloping the beautiful land called Shenandoah National Park.

A drive on Skyline is a motorcyclist's dream. Even on the chilly autumn days, motorcycles roared the Drive in droves. Pulling over at the nearly infinite turnouts was contentious, with the "hogs" taking up every inch of parking space available. The trend was for vehicles to inch closer and closer to the motorcycles, pressuring the riders to move onward. The roar would diminish as they rounded the bend, and a different whir filled the air.

Places with varying terrain are full of beautiful sounds from the wind. Canyons in the mountains have the ominous roar of an approaching breeze, vistas in the Ouachitas have a barely audible whir stirring from the towns below, the alpine tundras of the Rockies have a scratchy sound from the colliding stems of grass, the hilly forests of the Pacific Northwest have the creaking trees, and the Blue Ridge has the echoes of winds with a long past traveling America.

The vistas of the Appalachians are unreal, completely different than those of the Ozarks or the Rockies. The Ozarks flourish with trees, stifling the rolling terrain. The Rockies look young and rugged, with snow and wildflowers providing stunning decor. The Appalachians look old and wise. The plants are prolific but seem, strangely, as if they are in retirement. There is a regal beauty to the forests here. What once was a young place has aged considerably, and its history is etched in its divine sense of slowness.

Taking a hike on the Appalachian Trail is one of my most treasured experiences in the eastern part of the country. I have glimpses of the hills providing a canvas-like backdrop to the individual trees, with leaves never ceasing to fall one-by-one. The hikers even slow down here. The urgency of reaching the next viewpoint in the Rockies is replaced by a desire to envelop the attitude of the terrain and plants in the Appalachians. To appreciate the land in this part of the world is to conform to its personality.

I have driven four times on Skyline Drive. Each time, I've seen at least 50 deer. That's right. Fifty. Each drive took at least eight hours to complete. I had to have stopped nearly 100 times on each drive. As the Appalachians kept reminding me, what was the use of driving here if you didn't take it all in?

The beautiful colors of autumn are nearly unparalleled, but my favorite time of year here is spring. My first trip to Shenandoah was in April, and the whir of the aging wind was inundated with rustling leaves and territorial birds. It was the first place, though, that didn't feel "new" when life began to "spring" up from the cold season. Instead, everything felt polished and sophisticated. This was not a place that was coming to life; rather, it was reawakening to what it already knew.

My journey in Shenandoah always began in the beautiful town of Front Royal. Normally, a stream of automobiles would edge their way through town, pulling in to a restaurant or a gift shop, or they were honking their way through the National Park jam that inevitably appears seemingly everywhere across the country. These are the towns where driving through the neighborhoods is preferred, with the canopies of houses and trees only allowing small streams of light to pass through, offering small glimpses of the typical life in rural Virginia.

I am particularly fond of northwest Virginia, where the trees feel protective of an often highly stressful world. The houses are personal, and the people are fiercely proud. The landscape is lush and beautiful, with vibrant colors of grass, trees, and crops offering stunning complements to the browns and grays of development.

With the vistas in Shenandoah, and the inevitable noise of other people wishing to steal glimpses of the broad landscape, I cannot help but think that the land must feel like it is being smothered. Such an old, wise place with its plants and animals wishing to live their retirement in peace. The deer are skittish here, quickly darting into the trees upon sight of humans. I find myself doing the same thing, hoping as many of the locals do, that the trees protect me from an ever-increasingly harsh world.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pictures from the Road -- Alberta Falls, CO

Photos taken on a hike to Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, June 2009. These photos focus on the Glacier Gorge Trailhead to Alberta Falls. More from this hike in future notes.

Tomorrow: Stories from the Road takes on Shenandoah.


Chad's Takes -- Election Night Live Blog!

The following is from a Live Blog I hosted on Facebook on Election Night 2009. References to comments will obviously not make sense in the blurbs below. However, most of it is relevant.

7:45 am -- For some post-mortem:

ME repeals same-sex marriage, Houston mayoral race heads to a run-off, civil unions are a go in WA. I think CNN headline of "big night for GOP" is misleading. However, incumbents beware. The House may be headed for a big shake-up next year.

12:00 am -- Last entry. What to take from tonight? Unless the conditions in America change dramatically in the next year -- incumbents, look out. Have a good night. A far less political post tomorrow.

11:57 pm -- Atlanta mayoral race heads to runoff.

11:55 pm -- CNN projects Owens for NY-23. Counts continue to show statistical close call.

11:53 pm -- General conclusions tonight: Same-sex marriage remains a big problem. (Not looking good in ME.) Civil unions (i.e., "everything but marriage") not a problem (looking good in WA). Incumbents did poorly in mayoral and gubernatorial races. Democrats gained two seats in Congress. Repudiation of far-right generally and Sarah Palin et al. in particular evident. Exit polls suggest elections were not necessarily a "referendum on Obama", but characteristics of the voting bloc show disinterest among core Obama supporters.

11:44 pm -- Owens giving acceptance speech in NY.

11:42 pm -- Incumbent governors do well when the economy is good and poorly when it isn't? Profound. (re: Hardball)

11:34 pm -- Garamendi (D) way ahead in CA-10. Just a thought. Democrats gained two seats in Congress tonight.

11:32 pm -- NBC is questionably projecting Owens the winner in NY-23. Statistically too close to call, IMO.

11:29 pm -- More on NY 23rd:

11:28 pm -- Another 30-minute extension. Updates on ME, NY, WA, and CA coming soon.

11:24 pm -- Civil unions in WA appear to be a go. (re: Referendum 71)

11:22 pm -- Chris Matthews again making sense. Indicating that Christie and McDonnell (R - VA) are center-right, not far-right. The far right is not winning elections tonight, as supported by VA/NJ/NY. Interesting and valid argument. Repudiation of the conservative movement, or "spin" as 538 says below?

11:19 pm -- 538 twitter: "Hoffman has conceded. Everybody will have something to spin tomorrow." Hahaha.

11:16 pm -- Scozzafava (R) can be blamed for the Hoffman loss. Her endorsement of Owens (D) over Hoffman (C), and her approximately 6500+ votes (87% reporting) exceeds the difference between Owens and Hoffman. Remember, absentee ballots likely contain a large number of Scozzafava votes since she announced her withdrawal this past weekend. Classic MAD in the political world tonight.

11:14 pm -- BIG news. Hoffman has conceded to Owens in NY 23rd, even when statistics say too close to call. Historic night in upstate New York.

11:11 pm -- Wow, Mark Williams is the recipient of a roasting. Bordering comedy.

11:10 pm -- Chris Matthews SCHOOLING a Republican guest right now.

11:09 pm -- St. Lawrence County is fairly rural, and there continues to be a lot of votes to be counted from there. Don't count Hoffman out yet.

11:04 pm -- Geography correction. Watertown is NOT in St. Lawrence County.

11:02 pm -- OH looks to approve casinos, according to Rachel Maddow.

11:00 pm -- 70% of precincts reporting: Same-sex marriage in definite trouble in ME -- 52%/48% to reject/retain. Medical marijuana use expansion overwhelmingly supported in ME.

10:59 pm -- I'm extending live blog for thirty minutes.

10:53 pm -- 85% of precincts reporting in NY 23rd. Owens leads by slightly more than 4000, with trend upward throughout the evening. This is because the county with the most votes remaining to be counted is St. Lawrence County (Watertown), which is somewhat less conservative (See 538 link below). Remember, 11,000 absentee votes remain. The election will not be called tonight.

10:49 pm -- Same-sex marriage in ME in trouble. 65% of precincts reporting: 51%/48% to reject/retain.

10:47 pm --

10:42 pm -- Check out Kevin's link below for updates on NY 23rd. With absentee ballots (over 11,000) not going to be counted tonight, my guess is there will be no winner by dawn tomorrow.

10:37 pm -- ME vote still strong for expanding marijuana use. 60% favor it, with 51% of precincts reporting. Also, good interview between Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell.

10:36 pm -- CNN and AP reporting that Question 1 is at a statistical tie (50/50) with 51% of precincts reporting (ME).

10:30 pm -- Wow, NY 23rd remains within 4000 votes with 76% of precincts reporting. The Republican who withdrew from the race has more votes than the difference between the Democrat and the Conservative Party candidate.

10:27 pm -- Just a reminder that same-sex marriage amendments/referendums have a 0% success rate. That is, no vote for upholding/supporting same-sex marriage has ever occurred.

10:22 pm -- Retaining same-sex marriage in ME has a very small advantage (51%/49%) with 28% of precincts reporting, according to CNN.

10:20 pm -- Classy attendees for the Christie acceptance speech.

10:18 pm -- Hahaha. Chris Christie saying, "Yes, we did!" Ouch.

10:15 pm -- ME seems to be favoring expanding the use of medical marijuana, according to early counts.

10:11 pm -- Voters in exit polls in NJ show a 57% approval rating for Obama, and a strong majority were not voting because of Obama -- this despite a Republican challenger winning the governor's race.

10:09 pm -- Question 1 in ME too close to call, according to CNN. Question 1 regards same-sex marriage.

10:05 pm -- Corzine (D - NJ) concedes.

10:04 pm -- 23rd NY update: less than 3000 vote difference with 69% of the precincts reporting. Wow! Owens is leading.

10:01 pm -- MSNBC projects Bloomberg as the winner.

9:54 pm -- Read Patrick's comment below, as he contends (and I agree) that the candidates themselves may have been more likely reasons for the vote counts.

9:52 pm -- Charlotte votes for first Democrat as mayor in 30 years.

9:51 pm -- Three votes to keep track of: Houston mayor race (potentially an openly gay mayor), and ME and WA votes on same-sex marriage. (It should be noted that Maine's vote is nearly equivalent to California's last year. Washington's is about civil unions.)

9:47 pm -- Also, remember, Bloomberg helped lift the term limit rule for mayors in NYC.

9:45 pm -- CNN reports that Bloomberg outspent his opponent (Bill Thompson - D) by 1000% on TV ads.

9:43 pm -- Turnout in ME may exceed 50%? Voters there appear to care about same-sex marriage and marijuana use.

9:41 pm -- NY 23rd: 21% reporting with a 2000 vote lead for Bill Owens (D). Because a total of 30,000 votes have been counted, I'd say this one is close.

9:37 pm -- Why isn't MSNBC updating NY 23rd results?

9:34 pm -- Bloomberg's lead widening. They'll probably have to "re-call" that one soon.

9:32 pm -- Two votes I'm particularly interested in: The NY 23rd and the CA 10th. The NY 23rd has been in the news for quite a while now since conservative Republicans supported the Conservative Party candidate, rather than the locally selected Republican nominee. The Republican nominee withdrew from the election this past weekend and endorsed the Democrat. So far, the election is very close, highly unusual for a substantially Republican district. The CA 10th, meanwhile, is expected to go Democrat in a very non-Democratic district (near the Sacramento area). Interestingly, both of these empty seats were because of Obama selections.

9:29 pm -- I'm watching MSNBC (surprise, surprise). Recently, Lawrence O'Donnell, Chris Matthews, and Howard Fineman were making a lot of sense regarding this year's elections. Particularly, two points: 1) Voters were against "the establishment". Incumbents are having a hard time in this year's elections, with Corzine in New Jersey and Bloomberg in NYC fighting for their lives. (It does look like Bloomberg will win, but it sure cost him a lot of money to squeak it out. Worth it?) Corzine, who outspent his opponent by leaps and bounds, looks to lose the election for governor in NJ. 2) The voting bloc who predominantly voted for Obama last year did not show up this year. Even as exit polls suggest much of the voting was not pro-/anti-Obama, the people who showed up at all may be a more telling sign.

9:25 pm -- A live blog for 1.5 hours. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

State Mottoes -- Part I

The ratings are back! For the next eight entries, I will rate state mottoes* in alphabetical order.

*Both mottos and mottoes are correct, according to every dictionary I've read. In terms of aesthetics, I prefer the "oes" spelling.

Alabama: Audemus jura nostra defendere, or "We Dare To Defend Our Rights".

I like the source of this motto:

Men, who their duties know,
But know their rights, and, knowing, dare maintain,
Prevent the long-aim'd blow,
And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain

According to Wiki, this is found in "An Ode in Imitation of Alcaeus", in which the first line is "What constitutes a State?" Clever.

Granted, Alabama's history tends to make this motto somewhat ironic and/or oxymoronic. But I'm rating the slogan here, not the state.

Grade: A-

Alaska: North to the future.

The state embraces its geography and its relative newness. Can't complain about that.

From originator Richard Peter: "[The motto] is a reminder that beyond the horizon of urban clutter there is a Great Land beneath our flag that can provide a new tomorrow for this century's 'huddled masses yearning to be free."

The only disappointing thing about this slogan is that I cannot use it as a personal motto.

Grade: A

Arizona: Ditat Deus, or "God enriches".

Boo. There is nothing good about this slogan. The inclusion of a deity, the lack of self-awareness regarding state-fulfilling enrichment. (Climate? Really? It's freakin' hot and dry. Your climate sucks. Your state seal shows cattle, citrus, and cotton on irrigated fields. Irrigated, as in, the land is too dry to grow crops/breed animals.)

God enriches. Arizona, you're delusional.

Grade: F

Arkansas: Regnat populus, or "The people rule".

Pretty good slogan, albeit too generic and ideal for my taste. Hey, it's Latin. That must mean something. I like mottoes that emphasize a state's distinctness, though. This one doesn't do it for me.

Grade: B-

California: Eureka, or "I have found it".

What a fantastic motto, one that exhibits the history of the state (the Gold Rush), the geography (the city of Eureka), and the attitude of the citizens. The state legislature tried to make the motto "In God We Trust". That would have been a tragedy of epic proportions. This one is original, unique, and symbolic. You can't get better than this.

Grade: A

Tomorrow: Chad's Takes and Coverage of Election Day 2009 (perhaps a brief live blog).
Wednesday: Pictures from the Road
Thursday: Stories from the Road

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pictures from the Road -- Yellowstone National Park

There will be many YNP entries in the "Pictures from the Road" series. These focus on Lake Yellowstone, the Yellowstone River, and Norris Basin.

Tomorrow: What shall I rate now?
Tuesday: Chad's Takes

Lake Yellowstone and obsidian.
Lake Yellowstone with geysers on the shore.
Yellowstone River
Geysers and the Yellowstone River.
Mud Volcano
Dragon's Mouth Spring
Geysers make for a broken land.
Norris Basin.
Norris Basin.
Beautiful bacteria.
More geyser action in Norris Basin.

A Halloween Tale

Every Halloween, I read my favorite short story: Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado. If you haven't read it, behold and enjoy. In pace requiescat!

THE THOUSAND INJURIES of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled—but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.

He had a weak point—this Fortunato—although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseur-ship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity, to practise imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially;—I was skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand.

I said to him—“My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.”

“How?” said he. “Amontillado, A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!”

“I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.”


“I have my doubts.”


“And I must satisfy them.”


“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me—”

“Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.”

“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.”

“Come, let us go.”


“To your vaults.”

“My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. I perceive you have an engagement. Luchesi—”

“I have no engagement;—come.”

“My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre.”

“Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. Amontillado! You have been imposed upon. And as for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado.”

Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm; and putting on a mask of black silk and drawing a roquelaire closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to my palazzo.

There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honour of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.

I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together upon the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors.

The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he strode.

“The pipe,” he said.

“It is farther on,” said I; “but observe the white web-work which gleams from these cavern walls.”

He turned towards me, and looked into my eves with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication.

“Nitre?” he asked, at length.

“Nitre,” I replied. “How long have you had that cough?”

“Ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!”

My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many minutes.

“It is nothing,” he said, at last.

“Come,” I said, with decision, “we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchesi—”

“Enough,” he said; “the cough's a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough.”

“True—true,” I replied; “and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming you unnecessarily—but you should use all proper caution. A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps.

Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew from a long row of its fellows that lay upon the mould.

“Drink,” I said, presenting him the wine.

He raised it to his lips with a leer. He paused and nodded to me familiarly, while his bells jingled.

“I drink,” he said, “to the buried that repose around us.”

“And I to your long life.”

He again took my arm, and we proceeded.

“These vaults,” he said, “are extensive.”

“The Montresors,” I replied, “were a great and numerous family.”

“I forget your arms.”

“A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel.”

“And the motto?”

Nemo me impune lacessit.”

“Good!” he said.

The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. My own fancy grew warm with the Medoc. We had passed through long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs. I paused again, and this time I made bold to seize Fortunato by an arm above the elbow.

“The nitre!” I said; “see, it increases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river's bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones. Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough—”

“It is nothing,” he said; “let us go on. But first, another draught of the Medoc.”

I broke and reached him a flagon of De GrĂ¢ve. He emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.

I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement—a grotesque one.

“You do not comprehend?” he said.

“Not I,” I replied.

“Then you are not of the brotherhood.”


“You are not of the masons.”

“Yes, yes,” I said; “yes, yes.”

“You? Impossible! A mason?”

“A mason,” I replied.

“A sign,” he said, “a sign.”

“It is this,” I answered, producing from beneath the folds of my roquelaire a trowel.

“You jest,” he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. “But let us proceed to the Amontillado.”

“Be it so,” I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak and again offering him my arm. He leaned upon it heavily. We continued our route in search of the Amontillado. We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame.

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From the fourth side the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we perceived a still interior crypt or recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no especial use within itself, but formed merely the interval between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was backed by one of their circumscribing walls of solid granite.

It was in vain that Fortunato, uplifting his dull torch, endeavoured to pry into the depth of the recess. Its termination the feeble light did not enable us to see.

“Proceed,” I said; “herein is the Amontillado. As for Luchesi—”

“He is an ignoramus,” interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In niche, and finding an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet, horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key I stepped back from the recess.

“Pass your hand,” I said, “over the wall; you cannot help feeling the nitre. Indeed, it is very damp. Once more let me implore you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you. But I must first render you all the little attentions in my power.”

“The Amontillado!” ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered from his astonishment.

“True,” I replied; “the Amontillado.”

As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing them aside, I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche.

I had scarcely laid the first tier of the masonry when I discovered that the intoxication of Fortunato had in a great measure worn off. The earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. It was not the cry of a drunken man. There was then a long and obstinate silence. I laid the second tier, and the third, and the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labours and sat down upon the bones. When at last the clanking subsided, I resumed the trowel, and finished without interruption the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall was now nearly upon a level with my breast. I again paused, and holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few feeble rays upon the figure within.

A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back. For a brief moment I hesitated, I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I began to grope with it about the recess; but the thought of an instant reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs, and felt satisfied. I reapproached the wall; I replied to the yells of him who clamoured. I re-echoed, I aided, I surpassed them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the clamourer grew still.

It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close. I had completed the eighth, the ninth and the tenth tier. I had finished a portion of the last and the eleventh; there remained but a single stone to be fitted and plastered in. I struggled with its weight; I placed it partially in its destined position. But now there came from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad voice, which I had difficulty in recognizing as that of the noble Fortunato. The voice said—

“Ha! ha! ha!—he! he! he!—a very good joke, indeed—an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo—he! he! he!—over our wine—he! he! he!”

“The Amontillado!” I said.

“He! he! he!—he! he! he!—yes, the Amontillado. But is it not getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest? Let us be gone.”

“Yes,” I said, “let us be gone.”

“For the love of God, Montresor!”

“Yes,” I said, “for the love of God!”

But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew impatient. I called aloud—


No answer. I called again—


No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!

Text provided by:

Tomorrow: Photos from the Road
Monday: A return to ratings!

Dangerously Dumb People in the World

A rare "stay-at-home" Friday this semester means I get to run an edition of "Dangerously Dumb People in the World".

3rd: Fox & Friends, for laughing at the thought of Nancy Pelosi "burning in hell" for introducing the House health care bill.

(At the link, there are videos of the incident and the Fox & Friends response.)

Hysterical, guys. Especially when you look at the incident in context:

Earlier this week, extreme anti-choice activist Randall Terry launched a contest to encourage people to make videos burning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in effigy. “Who Can make the best ‘Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid BURN IN HELL!‘ video?” said Terry’s press release.

Yep, funny stuff.

2nd: John Boehner (R-OH), for exposing the Republican opposition to health care for what it is.

Republicans have been insisting for months that Democrats are shoving a secret bill down the throats of the American public. The health reform legislation “should be posted online for 72 hours so members and the American people get a chance to see what’s in these bills,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) told Fox News. “But it seems to me that Democrat leaders want to rush these bills through Congress before anybody has a chance to read them.”

In fact, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) “has repeatedly pledged to Republicans that the health bill and any manager’s amendment would be posted online for at least 72 hours before the House votes,” and he promised again this week.

At a press conference this morning, a reporter turned the tables on Boehner and asked whether he’d post the GOP plan for 72 hours. Boehner declined to make such a pledge:

QUESTION: Will the Republicans put their alternative online for 72 hours as well?

BOEHNER: Uh, we’ll uh, we’ll have our ideas ready. Don’t worry.

Well, I'm convinced.

QUESTION: Is it your plan to have one Republican alternative that you all would get behind and endorse?

BOHNER [sic]: We have a number of ideas that we would like to proffer in this process, and we’re not quite sure how the majority intends to proceed. And so until we understand how they intend to proceed, it’s pretty difficult for us to have a solid plan.

I'm confused. Can't the Republicans have a plan to reform health care without knowing what the Democrats' plan is? Why is knowing what the Democratic plan is important in providing a different plan? Other than saying, "We don't like it..."

Earlier this month, Fox’s Greta van Susteren asked Boehner why House Republicans didn’t push for transparency when they were in power. “It was a different time,” Boehner said in response.

It sure was, Mr. Boehner.

1st: Lou Dobbs, for exaggerating an admittedly scary event to tarnish the image of his opponents.

A bullet ricocheted off his house while his wife was standing outside. Dobbs claims this was a scare tactic, or act of violence, because of his stance on illegal immigration. The police have a decidedly different theory:

Interviews with the New Jersey State Police yielded a rather different assessment of the events described by Dobbs. In a phone interview conducted yesterday, Sgt. Stephen Jones, a NJ State Police spokesperson, chuckled out loud after he heard about Dobbs' account of the gunfire incident. Jones commented that he "wouldn't classify it [the gunfire incident] as very unusual." He also confirmed that there are hunters in the area, and stated that, "at this time of year hunter [shooting] complaints go up."

So where did the bullet hit the house?

While Lou Dobbs' wife, Debi Lee Segura, was standing outside the house at the time of the gunfire, the bullet did not come close to her; it "struck at the apex of the house, near the roof," and thus considerably higher than a standing person, Jones observed.

Scary incident? Of course. But using the incident as a means of attacking your opponents when no evidence confirms that claim? Shameful. Lou Dobbs, this week's dangerously dumb person in the world.