Friday, December 30, 2005

2005: A Wretched Year

I'm not going to whine about how personally miserable 2005 has been for me. Nevertheless, being housebound for the summer had a wonderful benefit: I discovered the blogosphere and made some wonderful friends here.

Thanks to all of you--too numerous to name. The right sidebar lists the blogs I frequent, and I count many of these bloggers as my friends.

I extend a special thanks to my dear friend Mustang, who showed me the ropes when we co-wrote "Our Own Gullibility."

Happy New Year to all my fellow-bloggers, some of whom do not have their own sites, and to the commenters and the silent readers who come here!

Now, for a few amusing items to end 2005 or to start 2006, from News of the Weird, as published in the December 25, 2005 edition of the Washington Post:
Not the Brightest Crayons in the Box
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick told a middle-school class that the U.S. Congress is different from the Texas legislature because in Washington, there are "454" members on the House side and "60" in the Senate.
--Associated Press, April 15

Guv'mint at Work
TOUGH WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT City Council member Yvonne Lamanna, 58, filed a workers' compensation claim against the city of Penn Hills, Pa., after she threw her back out while taking her seat at the Feb. 7 council meeting.
-- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 9

THE LAWS OF IRONY ARE STRICTLY ENFORCED When CNN/USA Today/Gallup pollsters asked in a telephone survey whether President Bush is a "uniter" or a "divider," 49 percent said a uniter and 49 percent said a divider.
--CNN, Jan. 19

DO I LOSE MY PLACE IN LINE? As a registered sex offender in California, James Andrew Crawford was required to notify authorities if he adopted a new "domicile" for more than five days. He was arrested in May for noncompliance after he camped out for two weeks in a theater line waiting for "Star Wars: Episode III" to open.
--North County (Escondido, Calif.) Times, May 19

Body and Soul
DANGERS THE SURGEON GENERAL MISSED Smoke started rising from Israel's then-finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he was sitting for a radio interview in Jerusalem in May, causing him to fling his jacket off. He had stuffed his lighted cigar inside a pocket to comply with the room's no-smoking policy. And in Foreman, Ark., Jeff Foran, 38, suffered facial injuries when he impulsively leaped from a fast-moving car just to retrieve his cigarette, which had blown out a window.
--Reuters, May 30; Associated Press, May 23

At the Edge of Credulity
PLEASE DON'T BOTHER TO RELOAD In an early-morning shootout on June 4 at the Homewood housing complex in Pittsburgh, two undercover officers and a suspect exchanged at least 103 gunshots without anyone getting hit. (The first bullet did shatter the windshield of the officers' car, however.)
--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 5; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 5

The Entrepreneurial Spirit
THE REALITY SHOW IS NEXT At a new theme park in El Alberto, Mexico (near Mexico City), wannabe migrants to the United States can test their survival skills at an obstacle course that replicates the rigors migrants must endure while sneaking across the border. Admission price: about $13.50.
--Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Feb. 20

Just Criminal
FINAL NOTE: Police in New Scotland, N.Y., arrested Corianna Thompson, 45, in April for the murder of her mother, then released her last month without charges while they investigate "additional leads." Thompson's birth name was Corey Wayne Balashek. Before his sex change, he served nine years in prison for the 1981 strangulation of an Albany nurse. Authorities believe Thompson/Balashek is the first American, let alone the first middle-name-Wayne, to be arrested for murder in both genders.
--Albany (N.Y.) Times Union, April 11, November 18

18 Comments:

At 12/30/2005 3:54 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

Always I have become way more mellow as we approach 2005. A coworker was yelling at me for handling a case wrong . She finked me out to my boss and I smiled.

Seventy of my coworkers are leaving
and we are handling other people's work. My boss smelled a rat and looked at the case and the person who finked me out was guilty of shoddy work.

My boss was angry and wanted to lace into the jerk. I told him what is the price of a good laugh and we let it go as a private joke.

Jerks are the norm in some places.

 
At 12/30/2005 4:47 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Beak,
I really enjoy being self-employed. I don't have to put up with jerks because I won't put up with clients who are jerks.

The retirement plan isn't great, but the stress is as low as it can be.

Being mellow is the best way to avoid stress at the workplace.

 
At 12/30/2005 9:27 PM, Blogger Storm said...

Actually, 2005 was pretty good year for me.

I finished my first marathon
(5 hrs and 31minutes)

The wife and were able to move into a new to us home that is just perfect.

The wife found and loves an organization of women with small children (MOPS) which really helps her with social interaction as she is the 24 hour employee in this house with no retirement and no vacation days.

My inlaws moved closer. Stop this is good because I do not have to drive 5 hrs anymore to go visit.

 
At 12/30/2005 10:04 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Storm,
Glad to hear that you had a good year.

All of my in-laws live in Southern California, but my mother-in-law came for Christmas this year, for the first time ever. She'll be 86 in a few days, and I've never seen a more physically fit woman, thanks to ballroom dancing. I'll bet that she could run a marathon if she wanted to!

 
At 12/30/2005 10:46 PM, Blogger Mustang said...

I went 26 miles once. Took my car, though.

Happy New Year, AOW. You've become a dear fiend, and I value your trust and confidence. My regards to D.

Semper Fi

 
At 12/31/2005 1:08 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

2005 actually all in all sucked for me, and I'm ready to put it behind me. It was too much like 1998 for my tastes.

 
At 12/31/2005 10:28 AM, Blogger LASunsett said...

And a very Happy New Year to you AOW. May this coming year be much better for you.

 
At 12/31/2005 12:31 PM, Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Happy New Year, AOW! I hope 2006 is better. It's been a pleasure sharing insights and more importantly meeting many honest concern and decent fellow citizens. I may not have time to say this on the many other blogs; but there have been many wonderful people that I've met this year. And that gives me hope.

 
At 12/31/2005 5:56 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

Sorry to hear abot your problems.
For me 2005 was not too bad, for I met so many great people like yourself on the bogosphere.

I hope 2006 will be a great year for you and your family.

Happy New Year AOW!

I am already there. :-)

 
At 12/31/2005 6:34 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

2005 had its ups and downs...but mostly ups.

Have a happy new year and a great 2006.

 
At 12/31/2005 7:17 PM, Blogger Mark said...

AlwaysOnWatch:

I sincerely hope that 2006 will be a great year for you - one which will more than offset the downs of 2005.

Look forward to a great year! It's been a pleasure getting to know you!

Peace, joy, happiness, health and wealth for 2006!

 
At 12/31/2005 7:33 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thanks, everyone!

I'm off to the VFW now. We celebrate there with family and friends. Maybe even a few of our active servicemen will show up.

 
At 1/01/2006 1:58 AM, Blogger Esther said...

AOW, I'm sorry it's been such a hard year, but getting to know you has certainly brightened up mine! Here's to 2006 being a wonderful, healthy, safe and happy New Year for us all!

 
At 1/01/2006 2:47 AM, Blogger samwich said...

Happy New Year AOW,
Happy New Year to All.
Peace and prosperity to all.

$oybean $eason i$ getting ready to $tart and I hope to ride it through.

Richard

 
At 1/01/2006 8:53 AM, Blogger Kyle said...

Happy New year.

Every year is a bad one for me, but thats because I am a cynic, and a Manic depressive.
Check out my 2006 predictions on my Blog.
ciao

 
At 1/02/2006 2:39 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

I enjoyed Juan Cole's take on how we'll enjoy 2006. He's been pretty accurate concerning the Great Iraqi Adventure so this should be close.
------------------------------------
1. Al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri, whom the Bush administration has failed to capture after all this time, and who was probably responsible for the July 7 bombings in the London subway and the bombings in the Sinai in Egypt, will strike at US allies again in 2006.

2. Saudi Arabia will use the $160 billion windfall from high petroleum prices to strengthen its military and security forces, and to spread its rigid Wahhabi form of Islam.

3. Iran's clerical elites will use the $36 billion windfall from high petroleum prices to strengthen their military and security forces, and to spread their radical Khomeinist form of Islam. The US, even if it takes some desperate step, will prove unable to shake the regime in 2006.

4. The Iraqi government, on which the US is placing its bet, will limp along with less than $19 billion a year in petroleum income because of sabotage and guerrilla war, along with long-neglected fields and dilapidated plants and equipment. Most of that money will be absorbed by the need for internal security, reconstruction and paying off past reparations and debts, as well as by large-scale corruption and embezzlement (billions of dollars went missing during the government of Iyad Allawi in 2004).

5. The Iraqi parliament will pass fundamentalist Muslim legislation. Sometime in 2006, a majority of Iraqi parliamentarians will call for the withdrawal of US troops. The Iraqi government will have warm relations with Iran, but strained relations with Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The guerrilla war will continue.

6. The Israeli-Palestinian struggle will continue in staccatto fashion, because the Israeli government remains expansionist and land-hungry. Because the Sharon government refused to negotiate with real live Palestinians over the Gaza withdrawal no framework for peace was erected. Israeli troops will go back into Gaza from time to time. Israel will settle thousands of colonists on Palestinian land in the west and will blame Palestinians as irrational and bigotted for objecting. The subtle forms of ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Jerusalem will continue or accelerate. Fifteen percent of Palestinian children will continue to suffer from malnutrition, a result of the poverty that derives from having been put since 1967 in a large Israeli jail.

7. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization composed of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as members and India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan as observers, will follow up on its success in getting US troops out of Uzbekistan and on strengthening energy cooperation between Kazakhstan and China on the one hand, and Russia and Kazakhstan on the other, as well as security cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan. The conjuncture of gas, petroleum, Islam, terrorism and great power jockeying will keep the new Great Game going, this time with Russia, China and the United States all playing. The US hand is weak.

8. The US attempt to isolate Iran by putting boycotts on Chinese and other companies that deal with it will only prove effective for those companies that do a lot of business with the US. Moreover, it is easy enough for a company to hive off a de facto subsidiary to deal with Iran (ask Bechtel and Halliburton). And, rising powers like India that have relatively little trade with the US will tempted to choose energy from Iran over good diplomatic relations with the US.

9. New Orleans will for the most part not be rebuilt and will increasingly be eclipsed by Baton Rouge. Louisiana as a result will become a solid Red State. The Republican Party has no particular reason to rebuild a predominantly African-American city that reliably voted Democrat, just as its leader, George W. Bush, apparently had no particular reason to implement relief work there with any urgency or efficiency after the flood. Most of the $25 billion in reconstruction aid promised by the Federal government will never arrive.

10. The United States will continue to lose global political influence because its government is running large deficits and going ever deeper into debt. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower routinely used the threat of calling in loans from war-devastated Europe to get his way. He threatened UK Prime Minister Anthony Eden with loan cancellations if the latter did not get back out of the Suez in late 1956. He threatened DeGaulle with loan cancellations if the latter didn't get France out of rebellious Algeria before it went Communist. Nowadays the US is a massive debtor nation, and has lost that kind of leverage with all but the poorest and most beaten-down countries. The US nuclear arsenal is relatively useless because it cannot actually be used, and the US military is bogged down in Iraq. America remains a superpower for the third and fourth worlds, but is often a helpless, pitiful giant as far as places like Western Europe and China are concerned.

 
At 1/02/2006 7:44 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Duck,
Well, that's a doom-and-gloom set of predictions.

We agree on this, though: Saudi Arabia will use the $160 billion windfall from high petroleum prices to strengthen its military and security forces, and to spread its rigid Wahhabi form of Islam.

Here's another kind of doom-and-gloom site you might want to check out.

 
At 1/13/2006 11:03 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Test of comments.

 

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