Walking out of my house today to pick up my drycleaning I realized that I could've easily passed for a Russian hitman. Here's a handy guide on how you too (yes, you!) can become a hitman for the Russian mob:

  1. Dress all in black. Not gothy black, classy black. Black (Italian) suit and a black turtleneck sweater. As I said, it was laundry day. I don't premeditate clothing.
  2. Wear dark sunglasses and dark leather gloves. Again, I have a perfectly valid excuse. It was one of those days when it's bright and sunny, but bitingly cold at the same time. I love that kind of weather, but it sometimes makes for weird sartorial pairings. Dark suit, dark sunglasses, dark gloves? Yep, that's the hitman look all right. Where does the Russian part come in, you ask? Stay tuned.
  3. Don't shave. This is very important. You see, Russian hitmen, like most mobsters, have lots of money and thus wear fancy suits, but also have that dirty, "streets" look. "Rough trade in a good suit," in the immortal words of Michael Mann.
  4. The devil is in the details. This next item is really what will make the difference between someone who makes old ladies cross to the other side of the street when they see him and someone who thinks he looks cool because he wears a good suit and sunglasses: Wear white sneakers with your black suit. This is what seals it. Now you really look like you got off the plane from Moscow, "found" a big kraft envelope containing big wads of cash, a picture of a man with an address printed at the back and a gun, and are on your way to your next job.

I can guarantee you, if you have the cojones to leave the house dressed like that, women will collapse with fear, men will run away, and the world will be your oyster. Or everyone may just silently mock you. One or the other.


If someone is offended at my portrayal of Russian hitmen, let it be known that I lived in Russia and Ukraine for three years during and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and have been infrequently travelling back there since, so I got to see a few of them up close.

I unchecked the "Don't display" box because, since it's the evening and I had to create a node, I'm guessing the writeup will never get any attention otherwise. Of course now it will just get BAD attention, but that's another issue altogether...

So, come on, come on, doooo the locomotion with me

    Me: Joe Lieberman is an interesting candidate.
    Sibling: Do you like him because he’s Jewish?

Everybody’s doin’ the brand new dance now!

I cast an early ballot this year and it took me about 3.5 hours to read through all of the propositions some of which had me scratching my head and wondering how the heck they ever got on the ballot. I cast the ballot on October 17th to be exact and it’s so grand to be able to tell the surveyors I have already voted.

It’s easier than learnin’ your ABC’s.

Arizona’s political system has some interesting characteristics. One is that any proposition can be put on the ballot if enough signatures are gathered. Most of the time I come across folks with petitions in front of the library and grocery stores and unless I know what the issue is I don’t sign them. This leads to a number of quirky issues on the ballot and can be more confusing than enlightening, still, it's an interesting way to get people involved in the political process from a grassroots kinda thing.

The two silliest ones were requiring people to vote by mail with back up polls on Election Day and a voting lottery. If someone voted then their name would be automatically entered into a lottery to win money.

Come on baby, jump up, jump back!

Did you know that President William Howard Taft vetoed the admission of Arizona as a state because of the way we can recall our judges? So on December 12, 1911, voters in Arizona exempted judges from recall and elected a slate of officials then on February 14th the following year, “President Taft signed the proclamation making Arizona the 48th state... Shortly after officially becoming a state, the voters of Arizona showed their independence by amending their constitution to once again make judges subject to recall.” (source)

Another unique attribute of voting in this state is that we can look at how lawyers grade the judges on the various aspects of judicial process i.e. "legal ability" and "integrity" being a couple that comes to mind. It’s called a “Judicial Performance Review” I’m guessing that Taft didn’t like the idea that the judicial branch was subjected to a political ballot but all in all I think it’s a fair measure. One judge had received a 62% in “legal ability” it looks like she might have withdrawn herself from the ballot. Now see all the Gee whiz! stuff you woulda learned from me as your 5th grade teacher? You shoulda gone to school in Arizona!

A chugga, chugga, motion like a railway train now.

Sing it to us Little Eva and would somebody PLEASE come up with a candidate that can lead as a Commander-in-Chief!

Both parties are running campaign ads using pictures of the flagged draped coffins of soldiers; this has left me with very a bitter taste in my mouth. How could anyone begin to even justify that. Our political system is a train wreck. It's so bad it's hard to look away. No one is seeking common ground. No one is calling for us to stand united anywhere on anything, well maybe with the exception of John Kerry’s recent remarks about "getting stuck in Iraq." What a buffoon. It makes me want to join the Democratic Party just so I would have the chance of voting against him in the primaries for 2008. And the Republican Party isn't any better with their unmitigated glee over the whole debacle.

Do it nice and easy now don’t lose control.

The robocalls make me cringe and want to withdraw as a registered voter. As much as I disdain it all, this is my right and duty to vote as a woman. I take it very seriously. Dad’s election experience has been interesting too. A retired general called to promote some personal political agenda. His response was to explain that even though they are both retired, they are still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Weird and no idea what the good general was stumping for.

Do it holdin’ hands like you got the notion.

One of the more interesting assignments that I tutored a student on last week, is one with a list of the following quotes and questions that purportedly came out following Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The reason I say purportedly is because the quote from the Chicago Times has never been attributed to them and finding out when the Chicago Times started into business has been a very elusive fact. It appears to be shortly after the American Civil War, but then maybe the Times doesn’t want to take credit for the editorial. Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989) notes that it was:

    Attributed to The Chicago Times, following President Abraham Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.—Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, vol. 2, p. 472 (1939); no date of issue for the Times is given.

    This quotation also appears in Robert S. Harper, Lincoln and the Press, chapter 33, p. 287 (1951), but he also gives no specific date for the Times, citing only Sandburg. This same quotation and attribution is used in Gore Vidal, Lincoln, part 3, chapter 2, p. 494 (1984, reprinted 1985). This quotation could not be found in The Chicago Times, November 20–25, 1863.

Either way after explaining to the student that the Times article was questionable we proceeded with the assignment as the teacher presented it :

    From The Providence Journal (Rhode Island)
    "We know not where to look for a more admirable speech than the brief one which the President made at the close of Mr. Everett's oration ... Could the most elaborate and splendid be more beautiful, more touching, more inspiring, than those thrilling words of the President? They had in our humble judgment the charm and power of the very highest eloquence."

    From The Chicago Times (A Democrat newspaper)
    "Readers will not have failed to observe the exceeding bad taste which characterized the remarks of the President ... The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and dish-watery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."

    From Harrisburg's Patriot and Union (Pennsylvania - Gettysburg is in this state)
    "We pass over the silly remarks of the President; ... the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and ... they shall no more be repeated or thought of."

    From The Richmond Examiner (Richmond, Virginia)
    "Kings are usually made to speak in the magniloquent language supposed to be suited to their elevated position. On the present occasion, Lincoln acted the clown."

Here are the questions from the teacher:

  1. There were two main political parties in Lincoln's time: the Democrats and the Republicans. Lincoln was a Republican. Why do you think the Chicago Times might not be a Republican newspaper?
  2. Was the Patriot and Union correct in its prediction? Why or why not? Go back and review the Gettysburg Address. What did Lincoln have to say about his words? Was he correct in his own prediction? Why or why not?
  3. Explain the tone of the Richmond Examiner and Providence Journal editorials. Remember that tone is the attitude conveyed by the writing.

I’ve been thinking about this since I taught this session and have come to the conclusion that the main difference between today’s political leaders and Lincoln is that he really sought to unite the US while today’s political seek to divide. I don't know if that was the objective of the lesson and can say that this was an international student who was able to understand the purpose of this assignment once it was explained to him that most of the states require students to learn about the Gettysburg Address as a part of US history.

A chugga, chugga, motion like a railway train now.

It was depressing. It was frustrating; it took a lot to overcome the rattle and clatter of the steam engine politic. My brain was fuzzy when I finished voting. It was hard work and am glad I took the time to do it with informed consideration because I know that not only does it impact the US, the power of my choice to vote, or not vote, ripples across the world.

The Locomotion lyrics by Little Eva

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.:
Accessed November 4,2006.

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