Tuesday, March 25, 2008



This woman is a lunatic and an embarrassment. I wouldn't believe this except, knowing her track record, it makes a sick kind of sense. With all the things in this world she could spend time - and taxpayer dollars - on, she chooses to fight the good fight about light bulbs. Light bulbs!

This of course begs a comment about her being a dim bulb herself, but I'll refrain.

Please, oh please, vote her out of office. Someone. Anyone.


Bachmann is pro-choice on bulbs

March 25, 2008

WASHINGTON - How many members of Congress does it take to change a light bulb? Americans may soon find out, courtesy of a contrarian piece of legislation introduced this month by Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

Titled the "Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act," the bill seeks to repeal the nationwide phase-out of conventional light bulbs, the kind that have been used for more than a century -- pretty much since the invention of the incandescent light bulb.

Bachmann, a first-term Republican, is challenging the nation's embrace of energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights, saying the government has no business telling consumers what kind of light bulbs they can buy.

"This is an issue of science over fads and fashions," Bachmann said in an interview Tuesday.

"Congress tends to jump on whatever the current buzz is in the 24-hour news cycle, " Bachmann said.

Her bill, the first challenge of its kind, raises safety questions about the small amounts of mercury in fluorescent lights. It also lands her squarely in the middle of the debate over global warming. In recent remarks to a gathering of Sherburne County Republicans -- reported in the West Sherburne Tribune -- Bachmann called any human connection to global warming "voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax."

"By 2012, incandescent light bulbs will be no more," Bachmann said. "Fluorescent bulbs are more polluting because of their mercury content. We are working on a light bulb bill. If the Democrats can hose up a light bulb, don't trust them with the country."

The electrical and manufacturing industries, in a rare alliance with environmentalists, portray Bachmann's mercury concerns as overblown. They argue that fluorescent lights actually reduce mercury emissions in the long run. That's because the new bulbs use so much less electricity, much of which is produced by burning coal, which emits greenhouse gases and mercury.

"That's not just the industry talking," said Mark Kohorst of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. "That's an accepted aspect of these products, and that's why they've been promoted so heavily."

Whatever one's views on global warming, Kohorst said, the energy savings of fluorescent lights are real. "The lamp thing has merit," he said. "Unfortunately, [Bachmann] has lumped it in with this whole conspiracy thing."

Environmentalists are more emphatic in downplaying the mercury hazards of fluorescent bulbs, which they say are minimal.

"There is 200 times more mercury in each filling in Congresswoman Bachmann's teeth than there is in a compact fluorescent light bulb," said Julia Bovey, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The federal government is also on board, with Congress' last energy bill, signed by President Bush in December, having mandated a phase-in to energy-saving bulbs starting in 2012.

But in a letter to congressional colleagues earlier this month, Bachmann asked for support of her legislation to reverse that mandate, unless a comptroller general report shows clear economic, health and environmental benefits from the switchover to fluorescent lights.

Her letter says that the energy bill "forces consumers and businesses to use only light bulbs chosen for them by the government" and that further study "is simple due diligence."

Mercury disposal an issue

The mercury content of fluorescent light bulbs has long been a concern of federal and state regulators. Minnesota is one of a handful of states that ban the disposal of fluorescent lights as general waste, and Xcel Energy, the state's biggest utility, actively reimburses many customers for recycling them.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) outline a series of steps that homeowners should take to clean up broken fluorescent lights: Open windows, use rubber gloves, dispose of all material in sealed bags and remove it to a hazardous waste facility.

"It's almost as if you have to call the haz-mat team out to your home," Bachmann said.

Environmentalists argue that most of the steps are the same as cleanup from any broken glass accident, except for the special disposal requirements.

Industry experts say the amount of mercury in new compact fluorescent lights -- about 5 milligrams, on average -- is small but significant enough to warrant common-sense safety precautions and consumer recycling efforts to keep it out of landfills.

"There are minuscule amounts of mercury, but it's a hazardous waste, and we want to take it seriously," said Kim Sherman, product portfolio manager at Xcel Energy.

MPCA spokesman Sam Brungardt said the use of compact fluorescent lights, which use one-fourth the energy of regular bulbs, should certainly be encouraged. If new legislation is needed, he said, it should be to encourage consumers to recycle. "You have to make it easy to do this," he said.

Growing market

With or without the help of Congress, the market for compact fluorescent lights is growing. They are now more than 20 percent of the consumer market in the United States, up from 1 percent in 2001, according to Steve Rosenstock of the Edison Electric Institute.

"These bulbs use significantly less energy, so consumers can save lots of money by switching over," said Jason Mathers of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Fluorescent bulbs, however, cost several dollars more than regular household light bulbs, a factor that Congress failed to take into account when it passed its new mandate, Bachmann said.

For her, changing a light bulb should remain a matter of personal freedom.

"I was just outraged that Congress would want to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the American people," she said. "It struck me as a massive Big Brother intrusion into our homes and our lives."

Kevin Diaz • 202-408-2753

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter to all, and to all a good night.

One of my all time favorite songs: The Vatican Rag

Thursday, March 20, 2008




Minnesota novelist Jon Hassler dies

March 20, 2008

Beloved author Jon Hassler, whose unconquerable will to write became as much admired as his novels steeped in small-town Minnesota, died early Thursday of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a Parkinson’s-like disease. He was 74.

Hassler, of Minneapolis, battled PSP for almost 15 years, a disease that progressively stole his ability to write, to speak and, finally, to walk. But, fueled by the sheer force of will and the love and support of his wife, Gretchen Kresl Hasssler, Hassler devised ways to keep at it.

A spirited problem-solver, Hassler wrote his most recent few novels by “typing.” His fingers, however, would fall randomly on the keyboard, and only he could read the resulting “gibberish.” He’d translate the typewritten pages to Gretchen, who would then retype them.

“Through all this, I loved him for his courage and his pluck,” Gretchen Hassler said. “He just kept going and going. He had a book to finish, and, by golly, he finished it, too.”

A new novel, “Jay O’Malley,” was finished in the weeks before his death.

Hassler was born March 30, 1933, to Leo Blaise (a grocer) and Ellen (a teacher), of Staples, Minn. His career path took him from schoolteacher in Melrose to a regent’s professor at St. John’s University in Collegeville.

Along the way, he published more than 15 works of fiction for adults and young adults, including “Staggerford” (1977), “The Love Hunter (1981), “Grand Opening” (1987) and “The New Woman” (2005).

He is survived by sons David Hassler (Joyce), of Alexandria, and Michael Hassler, of Brainerd; daughter Elizabeth Hassler Caughey (Lonnie), of Brainerd; stepdaughters Catherine Cich (Geoff), of Robbinsdale; Elizabeth Seymour (Chris), of Richfield; stepson Emil Kresl, of Austin, Texas. and five grandchildren.

Sarah T. Williams • 612-673-7951

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Three Hour Tour

Geez, but I'm tired.

As a civilian, I kind of like Holy Week. As a musician, I can't stand it.

Am on hour 18 since getting up. Been one of those days that you run from the minute you leave bed. Got back about an hour ago from a three hour rehearsal for the church gigs I have for the whole Triduum. Three hours. This is on top of the regular work day, plus the weekly guitar lesson. And I've been up for the past hour since I got home sorting through the music folder for the three days and trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Not my favorite.

(Side note - a blog post from my cat: 52222222222222222222222222222223)

And I have to work again tomorrow - the alarm is ringing at 5:15, same as always. So I'm going to have another glass of wine and hit the hay.

Most people like holidays. Musicians learn early on to hate December and March - or April - whenever Easter is.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

There goes the neighborhood

In oddities for today, was noodling around reading the news online and saw the headline for an article I figured I should read - two candidates vying for the Democratic endorsement for an open House seat. So one of the guys looked a little familiar... turns out he graduated from my high school. But I didn't know the name, and we were enough apart according to his age that we weren't there at the same time. So why did he look familiar? I went to his web site, read his bio, and the description of where he lives matches my area. Hm. I went back to the article. Another candidate is quoted mentioning he lives in an apartment. Double hm. I couldn't stand it. I went to Anywho.

Darned if he doesn't live in the building right across the courtyard from me.

So is this a good or a bad thing?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Welcom to Teh Holiez Bibul

This has to be fairly close to the funniest thing I've ever seen online: LOLCat Bible Translation Project

It's the entire Judeo-Christian Bible, translated into lolcat speak. Srsly. Don't read if you're easily offended.

But then, if you're easily offended, what the heck are you doing reading this blog?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Linkage a-go-go

This has got to be about one of the funniest darn websites I've seen in a long time: Garfield Minus Garfield. It takes standard Garfield comic strips and removes the title character, making for these odd existential comments on modern life. I truthfully haven't had much use for Garfield for years now, although I really liked the strip at first, but these lend a whole new meaning; make the strip entertaining again.

Ran into the site through a new favorite: MinnPost. MinnPost is a new online only newspaper that conveniently hired many of the castoffs of the local papers, the ones more-or-less forced into retirement to save money, the ones who are smart, knowledgeable, really can write. There's a fair amount of thought in the articles, which is what I like. Besides having Uncle Al, whom I have loved for years, the paper can claim John Camp, more commonly known as novelist John Sanford. Camp wrote a series of pieces from Iraq, which are quite good.

Went out tonight with T and S. Idiot me forgot until S called me; thank goodness she did. We're planning on going out once a month. As they're two of my oldest friends, I'm glad we're making the effort.

Darn tired now, though. Daylight savings or something... I just can't get it together...