Sunday Train: On Amtrak, I've got some good news, and some bad news.

This last week, there was the surprising start to a headline in the Washington Post that began, "GOP House and White House agree on something" ... and that something was: Amtrak funding (and pets on a train).

From NPR:

The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act passed on a vote of 316-101 (132 Republicans joined 184 Democrats in voting for the bill; 101 Republicans voted against). It keeps spending for Amtrak at nearly current levels — about $1.4 billion a year — for the next four years, and includes other reforms aimed at improving the railroad's fiscal performance.

... so that is a majority of the Republican majority voting for a bill that both Heritage Action and Club for Growth were scoring, looking for a "No" vote to gain their approval, and which the White House gave qualified approval to (though perhaps it helped some of those Republicans that they can point to parts of the bill that the White House did not approve of). And so the Northeast Corridor trains and long haul trains, alongside most of the state approved corridor services under 750 miles in length, can continue running.

But this was not an entirely "good news" week, since we also heard that Indiana DOT scuttles Amtrak Hoosier State. The Hoosier State is the "companion" train to the three-times-a-week Cardinal, and together the two provide for a daily connection from Indianapolis in the early hours of the morning, scheduled to arrive in Chicago in mid-morning. The Indiana DOT has declared its refusal to continue the service unless it gets to put the service together on its own terms, only using Amtrak for the elements of the service where Amtrak gets a better price than a private operator. And so customers of the Hoosier State service will be getting a special "April Fool's" gift in the form of a drop down from daily to three times a week rail access to Chicago.

More about the qualified good news and unqualified bad news, below the fold.




Stories at the Inn

Hate 4 photo hate4b1.jpgToday's offering was written shortly before the Christmas of 2008. Let me stir yor memory jut a bit by reminding you that President-elect Obama had chosen to have Rick Warren deliver they invocation at his Inauguration, which the LGBT community considered to be a huge slap in the face.

I had been looking for a hook or two on which to hang my weekly Friday column.

The snow was blowing and the wind was howling. It was going to be a dark and stormy night.

I graphic is called Hate 4, from my Colors of Hate series.



The Breakfast Club (Reels)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we're not too hungover  we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it's PhilJD's fault.




To thine own self...

Strings photo strings.jpgI've trundled out my joining tools again. This particular chapter consists of one portion of a diary from early March of 2011...and excerpts from my performance piece, Crossing the Gender Line, which I presented several times at academic venues in Arkansas and also was invited to perform at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL in February, 1995. I can date the various performances by examining the poems was my habit to write a new one for each performance. The excerpts are from the piece as it stood in 1998.

The graphic is entitled Strings. I hope this hits the right notes.



The Breakfast Club (My Hat It Has Three Corners)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgThree corners has my hat
And had it not three corners
It would not be my hat! 

I dunno, maybe it makes more sense in Italian.

This is the famous (I mean, as far as any Renaissance Italian Folk Tune appropriated for 'Art Music' can be) Carnival of Venice.

Or infamous in my case as it was the audition piece for All-State
Band and since my sight reading skilz are for crap I really didn't have
even a clue what it was supposed to sound like and
between the triple and quadruple tounging and the rampant octave jumps
(not to mention the rapid fire fingering) I could only make up in energy
and enthusiasm what I lacked in technique.

You know, like your first sexual experience.

I have dissipated a youth of extreme privilege on these ephemeral
photons.  I went to Summer Camp every year, sometimes twice at
different places.  This year my family in Michigan pulled some strings
and got me in a Youth Music program that featured lessons with the great
Leonard Falcone who just happened to have arranged (that's a technical musical term for
someone who re-does an original piece for different instruments or
ensembles, or changes the key or tempo to make it sound different even
though it's really the same) my audition piece.

What could go wrong?

Well, I am a horrible musician, even for a brass player, and I
have a tin ear and no discipline or muscle memory whatsoever.  It took
Falcone mere seconds to recognize how hopeless I was.

But he was a trooper and there were only so many Euphonium players so he was stuck with me for 2 weeks.

Towards the end I dragged out my audition piece and said-

"Do you think you can help me with this?"

"Let me hear it."

So I embarrassed myself and he said-

"It should sound like this."


David Childs - Carnival of Venice - Euphonium


My Hat It Has Three Corners



Existing Beyond Theory

While many of the essays I have written over the years have a footing firmly based in emotions, I have explored the theory of transgender from time to time. Let's face it: some people are not going to accept that transpeople are not just crazy loons unless they have some "solid evidence."

Unfortunately, what people consider to be solid evidence has a wide variance.

In January of 2011 I shared a review of the literature. Since most of "the literature" comes from psychological research, that won't be good enough for some people. Since I live with a graduate professor involved in educating and mentoring doctoral researchers, I'm sure we might disagree on that point.

This literature review is not up to her graduate school standards. I have not included an annotated bibliography in APA style. I'm only a layperson when it comes to psychology.

My actual purpose (and hope) is to get people to read it, especially the people who need the information presented this way. Well, that and making a few corrections so that it properly fits into my autobiography thingy.

I'll get started on the other side.

The graphic above is called Faces.



The Breakfast Club (The Sun Is Below The Yard Arm Somewhere)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we're not too hungover  we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and
weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our
boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late,
it's PhilJD's fault.
 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History




Today in History for March 6th





Alamo falls to Mexican forces; Michelangelo born; Walter Cronkite retires.

Breakfast Tunes




Libiamo - Brindisi from Traviata - Joan Sutherland and Pavarotti





Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac


Good Question:
Iran's Foreign Minister suggests the US should ask itself why it
continues to create extremists that it later fights. Someone should tell
him that to the US that's a benefit, not a bug.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III, Some Assembly Required

TMC :: The Breakfast Club (The Sun Is Below The Yard Arm Somewhere)



On Waiting

At the Nub photo Nub.jpgThe main portion of this was written after the inauguration in 2009 and was called at that time, Waiting for what comes next. But I've blended that with a short piece called The lessons are waiting from May, 2008 and a relevant poem/graphic from late 2008.

The graphic is entitled, At the Nub.



The Breakfast Club (FREAK Out)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgWell, I had hoped for a nice quiet discussion of wave/particle duality again because there are new developments that are worthy of note or perhaps a good chuckle at Homer Simpson predicting the GeV of the Higgs Boson to within experimental error because I'm just a sucker for the intricacies of Quantum Physics, BUT... 

The big news of the day is on the technology front and particularly NSA v. Encryption.

Now I'll take it as a given that you know thanks to Ed Snowden
and Thomas Drake and subsequent public testimony that the NSA is
obsessed as an organization by collecting every communication you have.
 What you may not know is how far back that goal goes and why it
compromises all of our security.

Way back in the days of the Big Dog when all we had to worry our
pretty little heads about was blowjobs and blue dresses the Internet
started gaining steam as a place to buy things.  People were rightly
concerned about personal information and credit card numbers falling
into the hands of thieves (though I'll tell you quite frankly that
you're in much more danger from your food server if you're a bad tipper
because they have plenty of time alone with your card to write down all
your imprint numbers as well as the ones that are just printed which is
sufficient for ruining your credit by telephone, let alone computer).

Anyhow the major Internet Retailers and the companies that served
them started demanding an encryption scheme to bolster public
confidence that it was safe to buy things.  Thus Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Even this paltry (and believe me it is, though I recommend the study of The Reichenbach Fall because not everything is complicated and mysterious) level of security
was deemed by the NSA "too dangerous for export" so they made an even
weaker one with 40 bits of encryption instead of 128 (too hard, my brain
hurts) for use overseas.




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