Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Help put the proper Vigil for Lost Promise at the top of a Google Search

Jed, over at Freedom Sight, wrote about Peter Guither's attempt to alert people to the true Vigil for Lost Promise. The DEA set up a site called Vigil for Lost Promise, which shares stories about how people died from drug use. They don't discuss how the war on drugs has contributed to these deaths. The DEA site does not acknowledge those who died from war on drugs tactics. Guither's Drug WarRant site does, though.

If you'd like to help educate people about the true Vigil for Lost Promise, please link to http://www.vigilforlostpromise.org/. Please note that Guither's site is .org. The other site is .com.

Here's a serious case of coolness.

We've seen what freedom loving celebrities can do to help other people. I read today about a Hollywood celebrity going out of his way to help out a child in his community, which I surprised me.

A six year old boy, Jacob Finkbonner, recently contracted necrotizing fasciitis. This condition is where Type-A Strep infects a wound and gives off toxins that kill the tissue around the wound by causing a gangrenous infection. It's an extremely lethal infection, and this little guy's face and neck is the area affected.

Finkbonner is a resident of Ferndale, WA. I didn't know this until today, but Ryan Stiles, from the Drew Carey and Whose Line is it Anyway TV shows, resides in Bellingham, WA when he's not working in the Los Angeles area. Both Bellingham and Ferndale are cities in Whatcom county, and are close county neighbors.

This evening, Ryan Stiles perfomed at an improv benefit for Finkbonner at the Ferndale High School Auditorium, which raised an additional $12,000 for the little boy's medical expenses, as of Feb. 24th. How cool is that- this Hollywood-esque celeb performed at a high school to help out a child in his community?

It's nice to see someone you'd think of as "unapproachable" doing something cool to help someone in their community. If you're ever near Bellingham, Ryan Stiles opened an improv theatre there. It's called UpFront. According to their website, Stiles occasionally performs there with the troupes.

Is my formatting all bizarre?

I recently began using Mozilla's Firefox as my web browser. When I looked at Yak Attack on Lew's computer, which has Internet Explorer on it, the formatting of my latest entries was all bizarro.

If Yak Attack is lookin' a bit funny on your computer, please let me know. I'm trying to work out the details on my end.

Thanks in advance,

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Trading two stories about teen boys

On the way to our shop this afternoon, I listened to The End—107.7. The dj brought up this news story about a teen from Singapore who died from playing air guitar. The boy, studying at Hua Business School, lived on the third floor of a youth hostel. Back in November, he was jumping exuberantly on his bed, playing air guitar. Things got out of control, and the boy fell out of the window of his room, falling to his death.

The dj said that if he had to go playing air guitar, he’d want to be playing to the sounds of Get on the Snake by Soundgarden. After we’d been working for awhile, I asked Lew what song he’d want to go to, if it was his fate to die while playing air guitar. After the quizzical, “get the net” looks and my quick explanation, he replied, “Great White Buffalo by Ted Nugent,” accompanied by a snippet of shred-metal air guitar.

Lew shared with me a story about a teen he heard on the radio earlier in the day. An autistic boy in New York, who had been a basketball manager throughout his high school days, got the chance to play in the last four minutes of his team’s final home game. During those four minutes, the boy proceeded to sink six 3-point shots, scoring a total of twenty points for his team.

Two boys doing what they love, their outcomes arriving at such different conclusions. I guess this highlights to me the importance of reaching out and grasping each day, because you never know when that time will arrive—it could be while you’re playing air guitar.

Yakking about Emergency Prep

Food is a good of a place to start when you’re making up emergency prep plans. It’s easy to access and isn’t an immediately “scary, Grizzly Adams” subject. Most all of us like to eat. Since folks usually don’t have a spare couple of Ben Franklins hanging around, a sound supply-building strategy is to pick a dollar amount that goes beyond your usual grocery budget and dedicate it to buying extra food supplies.

Keep in mind what you like to eat—if you stock up on dozens of canned corned beef hash because it was a screamin’ deal, and you’ve never tasted it before, you may be in for an unplanned hunger strike during an emergency. Concentrate on food you know will be eaten—not only during when TSHTF, but also during the regular course of your life. Rotating your stored food is another important element in warding off the unplanned hunger strike during an emergency. Incredibly stale, unsalted crackers, mmmm

I’ve been adding a smidge to the top of my grocery budget for possible emergencies for awhile. One of the food groups I’ve added to my shopping list are soups in waxed containers. No water is needed to prepare the soups—they’re completely heat and serve. They have a long expiration date, typically about a year from purchase. No can opener is needed to open them; just unscrew the cap, pull the foil and plastic tab to uncover the spout, and you’re in business. The flavors run the spectrum. I’ve tried French Onion, Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper with Tomato and Chicken soup so far. I just picked up Butternut Squash and am excited to try it. Also, there are 4 servings in the container, so they’re a good size for families.

Instant mashed potatoes and oatmeal packets are a good food to have on hand. It will take some water to prepare them, but the liquid to dry ingredient ratio can be downsized a tad and not play too much havoc with the finished product. Also, these are lightweight and able to slip easily into backpacks, if you need to head out instead of staying put.

“Where do I store all this stuff?” is a common question, and a handy procrastination excuse. Grab a hold of the cliché’ and start thinking outside of the box. Non-perishables can be stored just about anywhere. Have some space under your bed? This is a great place to store canned goods and other non-perishables that are pet proof. Do you have space, or can make space, in your linen closet? Another terrific hidey-hole. If you establish an area in a place, like a shed or garage, that can potentially be a home for vermin, make sure to prep your food store by placing it into containers that are vermin proof. Food-grade plastic buckets or glass mason jars are sturdy containers to utilize.

Last, don’t forget your animal kingdom friends when you plan an emergency stash of food. They’ll get just as hungry as you will during an emergency, and you must plan accordingly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

520 Funny Festival CD

Last week, KMTT's Marty Riemer was giving away 520 Funny Festival CDs. The first annual festival was held last spring, and featured David Crowe, Demitri Martin, Mike Birbiglia and Jim Gaffigan.

Lew was in the area, so he picked up a CD for us. It's a hoot. The other two give away days listed on KMTT's website passed over the weekend, but there are small clips on the website to. Check it out here. It takes something like Windows Media to play it.

I love David Crowe's Gollum and Shakespeare bit. The only complaint I have about the CD is the parts of Jim Gaffigan's routine where he whispers. It's best to listen to that part of the CD in the car, and even then you have to continually diddle with the volume to hear what he's saying.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Possible move from most literate city to some place "funner?"

Is Starbucks forgetting about the city that built them up? Trading literacy and friendly chat for the Hollywood entertainment biz? Hhhhmmmm.

Ssshhhh, these are secret again

Article title: 'Mundane' documents pulled from archives.

For the past seven years, a secret program has initiated the pulling and reclassifying documents that were previously de-classified. Many of the documents are silly--- like the details of ballooning propaganda leaflets over Iron Curtain nations. Some are embarrassing, like the assessment that states China's involvement in the Korean war wasn't probable, penned about two weeks before China sent 300,000 troops into Korea.

More secrets and image plumping brought to you by the folks in DC.

Intimidation, Control and Fear-- That's what I'm talking about

The following essay is one of the primary reasons why I stopped blogging for a few weeks. It was extremely difficult to write; the subject matter is painful. However, I felt it was important enough to embrace the uncomfortable emotions and complete it.


While I haven’t, to date, posted anything about Steve Kubby and his imprisonment, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been following his case. There was nothing I could contribute that hadn’t been reported, or more eloquently written, already. Furthermore, I was completely uneducated about the scope and breadth of the war on drugs. With shame, I admit how clueless I’ve been on this subject.

Mistaken raids on little, old ladies and immigrant families make it on the local news at times. You know, kind of “no harm, no foul,” types of stories. I’ve seen those reports, and yes, they did anger me. The local news, though, doesn’t relate the terror. Articles don’t go into detail about the almost no-knock raids at midnight, while the home’s inhabitants sleep inside. Newscasters don’t go into detail about the flash grenades and the black-swathed SWAT teams. The aspects of raids covered include implied stereotypes like “20-something thug,” “drug user,” “mistakes were made,” and “oops, no harm done.”

Since learning about Kubby, his family and his plight (and that they’re not alone in their victimization), the realization that the war on drugs has nothing to do with drug usage smacked me in the forehead. I can’t deny it any longer. The war on drugs is about intimidation, control and fear. Let’s take a look at the stereotypes I mentioned in the previous paragraph, not only to bust their myths, but to prove what are the real goals in the war on drugs—the intimidation, control and fear of regular folks.

[Examples in this essay are from the Drug War Victims list complied by Peter Guither at Drug WarRant—all 36 listed victims died from drug raid tactics]

“20-something Thug.” There is a general assumption that if the goons invade your home on a drug raid, even if they broke into the wrong home, you’re a youthful thug anyway or they wouldn’t be there in the first place. This line of thought is a complete fallacy. Of the 36 victims listed on Guither’s site, 14 were over the age of 40 when they were killed; 5 were under the age of 20. That means over half of the list—53%-- doesn’t fit this stereotype. The oldest victim listed, Annie Rae Dixon, was 84 years old and bedridden when her home was raided and an officer’s gun accidentally discharged, killing her. The youngest victim, Charity Bowers, was 7 months old when the plane she traveled on was shot down by the Peruvian Air Force. This foreign government was given incorrect information by the US government, as part of an agreement between the two countries to stop drug trafficking. The plane carried missionaries, not drugs.

“Drug User.” Raids on homes imply that those who live there are involved with drugs in some way. Of the 36 victims, only 7 cases involved drugs actually located in the premises the victims were in. Two of the cases I counted in the total of seven involved medical marijuana users. Shirley Dorsey (56) committed suicide to save her boyfriend, Byron Stamate (70), from charges of growing cannabis for her to use to manage her debilitating back pain. Peter McWilliams (50), who used cannabis to stave off the nausea side effect of the medications he took for AIDS and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, stopped using cannabis after being arrested. His mother’s home, held as collateral for his bail money, would be lost if he tested positive for marijuana usage. He died choking on his own vomit. So really, only 5 of the victims involved possible recreational drug users. Two victims grew pot; John Hirko (21) allegedly had cannabis seeds on his premises (in an bag that was not fire damaged, despite being recovered from his home, which ironically was set on fire by a smoke grenade used during the raid); two of the cases involved searches that revealed half an ounce and two ounces of cannabis. Did the discovery of marijuana in any of these cases warrant death?

“Mistakes were made.” Yes, mistakes occurred in all of these cases. Mistakes were on the investigating agency’s part and the results were deadly. Alberta Spruill(57) died of a heart attack after flash grenades were set off in her apartment during a raid. The police had the wrong address. Accylene Williams(75) died of a heart attack after a raid of his home. He was tackled and his hands were tied behind his back. The raid’s informant gave the police the wrong address. Ashely Virrareal(14) was shot to death in a DEA raid targeting her father. Her father hadn’t visited her home that day (she lived with her grandmother); she was in the family car with a family friend when she was shot in the head.

“Oops, no harm done.” Things can happen when conduction police business. Unfortunately, the consequences can snuff out someone’s life. Curt Ferryman(24) sat in his car when a DEA agent knocked on Ferryman’s car window with a gun. The weapon discharged, killing Ferryman. He was unarmed. Charmene Pickering(27) was a passenger in a car pulled over because the driver was a drug suspect. In the process of arresting the driver, an officer’s gun discharged, killing her.

The war on drugs targets senior citizens, school children and everyone in between. Social and economic status has no bearing on how an individual will weather an attack—Donald Scott (61) was a millionare when his home was raided and he was shot to death. Victims come from varying racial backgrounds. Both men and women have died at the hands of raiding marauders. People have died from being shot in the back and from accidental misfires. Police officers have been mistaken as robbers and have been killed (as in Cory Maye’s case).

It hasn’t mattered that the house didn’t match the warrant—the raid commenced as ordered. It hasn’t matter that the stake out perp didn’t match the description of the sought individual. All cases embroiled people who were regarded as guilty until proven innocent, despite the discrepancies.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I have my suspicions that the intimidation, control and fear not only affects the people being raided, but also the team members conducting the intrusion. They can’t all be non-thinkers, so oblivious the obvious, can they? Are the officers trained, warped, to follow the paper trail and commander orders, despite the visible errors? Humanity can only hope.

If the war on drugs were actually about extending help those addicted to harmful substances, people would be able to seek out help rather than secure jail time. Paramilitary raids to uncover a handful of pot seeds wouldn’t even be entertained.

There is no way to whitewash the ugliness of dead children, flash grenades and smoke bombs. Faceless, black garbed, armed soldiers screaming and breaking down doors frighten, intimidate and demand control.

Thank you for the comment, Mark

Mark, from South Puget Sound Libertarian, paid Yak Attack a visit a while back.

I just saw your comment yesterday. I hope you will come back for a visit soon. I'm adding new content.

Let's Yak About Art-- Sandro Botticelli

Okay, don't say something will be weekly. I amend my first statement regarding Let's Yak About Art. It will be a regular feature, but it won't always be weekly. It may sometimes appear weekly, but you know spit happens and there I will go, blowing the weekly deal.

So, without further blatherings, here's Let's Yak About Art.


An interesting example of someone riding on the coattails of another is the painter Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510). Although often overlooked, he was one of the most influential painters of the Florence Renaissance, and a consummate coattail rider.

Along with Da Vinci and Michelangelo, Botticelli was supported by Lorenzo de’Medici, a member of the ruling family of fifteenth century Florence, Italy. Lorenzo, while a poor business man (he helped tank the family banking business), was successful at promoting the arts and philosophical learning. He secured patrons for his favored artists; he supported Neoplatonic debate that fueled the development of humanism. Lorenzo’s humanistic influence in Botticelli’s work can be seen in the neopagan themes in his most famous paintings, The Birth of Venus and Primavera. A few of his earlier religious works include members of the Medici clan-- for example, portraits of Cosimo, Giovanni and Giuliano de’ Medici appear in the Adoration of the Magi.

Pope Sixtus IV was briefly a patron of Botticelli. Sixtus IV summoned him to work on the Sistine Chapel. Scenes from the Life of Moses is one of the frescos he painted on the north and south walls of the chapel. His paintings in the Sistine Chapel did not achieve the fame of those completed by Michelangelo, and in fact are not considered some of his best work. Was this because Pope Sixtus IV was an archrival of the Medici family, Lorenzo specifically? That just might be the case, because Botticelli was religious man his whole life, so it doesn’t jive that his work on such a religious place wasn’t his best. Unless, professional loyalty got in the way.

Being a deeply religious man, Botticelli focused on various religious themes through out his career, which was typical during the Renaissance. He became interested in printing when he worked on illustrating Dante’s Inferno. When he began following Girolamo Savonarola, a religious zealot, he went so far as to renounce his pagan themed paintings, even throwing some of them into the pile at the Bonfires of the Vanities. However, was that because of his religious convictions or because he was riding a new set of coat tails? Savonarola became the ruler of Florence for a short period of time after the Medici family was displaced. As all weird things eventually must come to an end, Savorarola met his end the same way he gave it to those he deemed too sinful to live—by being hanged and burned at the same time.

Botticelli quit painting, deeming art to be a vain waste of time, yet he didn’t find another way to support himself. I’m under the impression he couldn’t find anymore patrons. Lorenzo was dead; Savonarola was dead. The new ruling Medicis didn’t seem to have the same zeal for art—also they might have been wary of Botticelli’s following of Savonarola, who turned on Lorenzo (formerly Savonarola’s patron and brought him to Florence). Botticelli stopped painting altogether in 1505, finishing a series of works on St. Zenobius. I guess he eeked by through charity support from former patrons, but died an impoverished man in 1510.

The Birth of Venus has been featured by Terry Gilliam in a Monthy Python’s Flying Circus animated sequence and the movie The Adventures of Baron Munchausen; in the Simpsons; plus, on versions of Adobe Illustrator.