1-13-2009 Catholicons

Perhaps last year was an aberration. Perhaps the stars were just not aligned correctly this time around. Maybe the bye week really isn’t an advantage in the NFL playoffs.

All I know is, the Eagles didn’t defeat the Giants, the Giants did not defeat the Giants, no, Eli Manning did the Giants in.

I have never been a big fan of his. But after his playoff and Super Bowl performances last year, I had to clam. None of my fellow Giants lovers wanted to here it anymore, that, in my opinion, the Giants usually win in spite of Eli Manning. And yesterday, Eli’s was vintage underachieving on his part. He sucked.

Wide open slant? Oops, missed him. Wide open in the flat? Ah, the damn wind ate it. Wide open bomb? Darn! Just out of reach. And third downs? You know, one of these days, he’s going to convert one or two of those. Maybe.

Sorry, but Kurt Warner completes those wide-open looks. Tony Romo completes those passes. Even Donovan McNabb makes good on those opportunities, although he’ll throw practically every pass behind the open receiver.

Sorry, but it’s not too much to ask of your NFL quarterback to be at least as accurate as the starting quarterback from Berwick High School. It’s just not.

And they traded Phillip Rivers for this guy, this pedigree?

Ah, look on the bright side. At least none of our skill players, prone with one knee and one elbow on the turf, were speared to the point of being injured by the king of un-penalized late hit cheap shots, Brian Dawkins. You know, like the way he speared and injured an immobilized Adrian Petersen just the week before. Like he does every week.

On to next season.

This past week was a very busy one here at the modest adobe.

Unfortunately, there was a death on my son-in-law’s side of the family. And I have to say, even though I was only in the presence of the deceased two, maybe three times, he came across as thoroughly likeable. And the way I see it, if that’s all that people have to say about you when you finally move on, that you were a thoroughly likeable person, you done good.

Anyway, with mom and dad up from Tennessee and off to New Jersey for the funeral, we were treated to a three-day long visit from none other than Gage and Taylor, two of the five amazing grandrodents. And close as we can figure it, they have not spied crunchy water with their own two eyes in well over two years. In other words, they got to gleefully frolic all about in the snow. And frolic they did.

In addition, we had my daughter’s future whatever he may be staying over, as well as Zach, so he could spend some bonus time with Gage and Taylor. And the first thing out of the Tennessee Two’s mouths? You got it, bike about. Yep, they wanted to saddle up and bicycle their way through Wilkes-Barre all over again.

I regretfully informed them that while Pop Pop is tougher and stronger than your average old bear, he is not willing to strap on an extra bicycle, 100 pounds of kids and then pedal miles on end in the fast-deepening snow. Maybe next time. Although, it would have made for some cool pictures.

Actually, Gage has just about outgrown the trail bike, so I’m thinking the next time we tour any part of this valley on human-powered wheels, he’ll he pedaling his own 20-inch bike. One I will need to buy. At 7-years-old and 55 pounds, his days of cruising along behind me are just about gone. Shame.

Sadly, they packed up the rental and headed on home early Sunday morning. We need to get those vacations scheduled and correctly synchronized so that they can make a return trip and hopefully soon.

That’s the latest from the modest adobe.

Gage, Taylor & Zach

So, what do we think of hydraulic fracturing of bedrock now? Y’all wanted to be the next Beverly Hillbillies as part of this mad dash to lease your backyards for natural gas drilling, but if we remember correctly, some of us warned that fracking could endanger our water supply. Remember?

From The Times-Tribume.com:

DEP probes blast in gas-drilling region

DIMOCK TWP. — An explosion blew apart the 8-foot-wide cement slab covering a water well Thursday night in the heart of the Susquehanna County region where a natural gas operator is exploring for gas in the Marcellus Shale. Local emergency crews and representatives of Cabot Oil and Gas, the firm exploring in the township, responded to Norma Fiorentino’s house on Route 2024 at about 6 p.m. on New Year’s Day to find the cement slab split open above a gaping manhole in her front yard.

Allow us to guess. The well was not contaminated by natural gas. Rather, some unspent fireworks were found in the well. Or a rusted flask of Zippo lighter fluid. Anything other than an environmental disaster in the making, right?

Has anyone ever witnessed any plastic bottles of water exploding? Just wondering.

And this was not the first explosion in NEPA attributed to the sudden upsurge in natural gas drilling.

“Besides issuing the permit, we are monitoring the work procedures there,” said Mark Carmon, DEP spokesman. “We want to insure that they restore the topography of the watershed. As gas drilling increases in the area, the DEP is putting in place procedures in handling hazardous incidents like this.”

I feel safer already.

From the e-mail inbox Mark:
Saw it online and rec'd a few e-mails. Problem is, once the bedrock is fracked, the gas will follow underground fissures...and end up who knows where.

Not only is it getting ugly, it's getting dangerous.

Gage & Taylor

Funniest line I have heard from a confessed southern redneck to this date:

“If we had baloney during the civil war, we would have won.”

Yeah, and if General Custer has a wagonload of Cheese Whiz at his disposal, the Battle of Little Big Horn goes horribly wrong for the Injuns.

If Hitler had gotten his hands on the recipe for Spam…

I snagged the following call to arms from the Home Rule Web site‘s ‘Get Involved’ page.

5) Write blog postings and comment on our website -
We’re always looking for new opinions and ideas in this process to ensure that Home Rule accomplishes what we intend it to accomplish.

Okay, fair enough.

And I did as much on December 31, when I posted Home Rule revisited. I did as requested. I tossed a few opinions and ideas out there, as well as past recollections.

Here’s the curious part. Try as I may, I cannot link to the Home Rule site. No can do. If you follow this link, you are lead to an error page stating, “Forbidden…You don't have permission to access / on this server.”

Now, I’ve been groping my way around the dreaded internet for some 13 years. And not once have I ever been denied a direct link to any Web site. Not even once. And with that said, last I had seen, three or four local blog sites have successfully linked to the Home Rule site. Needless to say, I am beyond bewildered.

What gives?

From the e-mail inbox Hi Mr. Cour, enjoyed your site for a while. I was glad to read your comments on Home Rule. I'm right with you. The system we've got right now needs an overhaul from smart people whose motives are pure.

Do some reading up on XX XXXX...he's certainly not the guy who's got the cred to be heading up the Home Rule drive. Like you asked, I'd love to know who died and made him boss.

To get some insight into how XX likes to operate, when he was running for State Rep against XXXX XXXXXXX (who his Dad, XXXXX XXXX, XXXXXXXX Area School Director, has been feuding with for a long time), this site showed up all of a sudden:


Take a look, it is still there. It was basically a slam job against XXXX XXXXXXX and many of XXXXX's other political enemies, with other random commentary mixed in for flavor. The site basically stopped updating after the Primary that XX lost, and more interestingly, the site's last posting was about Home Rule.

When asked in town, the XXXX's vehemently denied any involvement in the site and claimed they never played "dirty politics". Search internic [sic] and you'll see the site was registered using an anonymous registration service, so someone went through a lot of trouble to hide the "owner".

The internic [sic] registration for the home rule site shows that XX registered that domain himself.

Take XX and XXXXX at their word that they didn't have anything to do with the "corruption" site. Take a look at both sites side by side and tell me if there's any doubt that the two were written by the same person. If they are, it's obviously XX or his dad, and do we really need someone like that heading up a project that aims to "clean up" politics in Luzerne County?

Sad to say, if XX is the guy to be heading up this drive, it's never even getting off the ground. And I will bet you anything the XXXX's are gonna be looking for their piece of the pie if Home Rule ever passed and they had anything to do with it.

If we can get anyone serious who is motivated enough to press ahead with Home Rule, we might be in good shape. I hope we can. Anything you can do on the site to help flush out some good folks would be great.

Keep up the good work on the blog.

I could really care less about who was behind that inept and threadbare Web site, but that’s not why I posted this e-mail. The point is, I’ve gotten quite a few just like this, imploring me to help get the Home Rule referendum on the ballot.

New, anonymously-driven poliblogs of a local flavor show up right before every election throw down, and then they disappear post-election faster than a redneck can down a fried baloney and collard greens salad. And we usually never know who was behind them, or, if we do, what their true motivation was in the first place.

During this last election cycle, we had an anti-Kanjorski site, as well as a site openly hostile to Lou Barletta‘s election bid magically appear. And nobody knows what the true scoop was. Were they put up by average joes? Were they created by friends of, relatives of, or spouses of? We’ll never know. We weren’t supposed to know. We were not allowed to know. And therein lies the biggest problem with allowing anonymity to creep into and further pollute the political discourse.

That ‘stop corruption site’ was feeble at best, not worthy of many return trips and went dormant right after that election. The real laugher was that we were being led to believe that it was put up for sale, subsequently sold after said election and then went Home Rule on us immediately following the supposed sale. In effect, it championed a candidate or two, and then abruptly switched gears and called for reinventing the local political wheel right after those candidates got skunked on election night. Nothing fishy about that. Or is there? The front door didn’t work, so let’s try to create the back door?

Getting back to the denied link to the Home rule site, how am I supposed to promote Home Rule in Luzerne County when I am not even allowed to link to the electronic home of Home Rule? What’s this, selective linking by the site’s webmaster? If you investigate it, you’ll notice that all of the incoming links listed in the “Incoming Links” column are from local sites promoting the recent, fledgling Home Rule insurrection without question. They are all of the informational and neutral, or 100% for Home Rule variety.

But there was this one guy on the internet who dared to ask questions such as, “Who died and left him boss?” There was this one internet outlet asking questions, and demanding just a bit more than an impersonal internet point, click and print revolution. I’m thinking they should change that incoming link list to read, “Friendly, Unquestioning Links.”

So how am I supposed to get excited about and then promote something that won’t even allow me electronic access? You want more information on the Home Rule movement? No problem, do a Google search, because I can’t link you to that additional information.

Perhaps it’s simply some sort of electronic glitch heretofore unknown to the site’s webmaster. Perhaps I’ll receive sudden access and a heartfelt apology for the unintended slight. Perhaps this is just a big misunderstanding.

Then again, it’s typical of the all-knowing and the all-seeing reformers and activists in this area. They alone know best how to run the entire fu>king world, but they can’t even make certain that we all have unfettered access to their lone Web site clamoring for as much. They can’t get even that much done right. Or, should I say, that little done right.

Promote Home Rule?

Sorry too say, I’m leaning towards saying, ah, baloney, to this increasingly questionable “bunch.”

Balloon Lagoon

And the latest from the Times Leader is that Commissioner Greg Skrepenak “said he’ll support putting the home rule study question on the May 19 primary election ballot.” Meaning, sans the usual petitioning requirement.

The link (that even works):

Skrepenak nod boosts home rule

No points for political courage on this one for either Greg Skrepenak or minority whiner Steve Urban.

What have we here, 350,000 residents in this county? And what do we need, less than 5,000 petition signatures to get the Home Rule referendum question on the ballot? Let’s be honest here. That question is going on the ballot no matter what either of those two think about it. Support it, oppose it, with the too-numerous-to-list political missteps we’ve had in this county, it’s going to be on the ballot come election day.

There’ll be no backlash from the political powers that be for throwing out some feigned support for automatically putting the question on the ballot. With the mess that this county is in, they had to figure that it would not be difficult at all to find less than 5,000 signatories that are fed up and had about enough of the three commissioner setup. So, why the hell not pretend to be supportive?

And whether it passes or not, so long as you claimed to be for Home Rule going in, there will be no voter backlash over any of that.

In addition, the hopelessly partisan Steve Urban has to figure that Home Rule would be the quickest vehicle by which the democrat stranglehold over this county can be eviscerated. So what’s he got to lose by being supportive of reinventing the entire political program. Remember, in this one-party county, republicans get themselves elected about as often as Barack Obama provides access to his birth certificate. So, by turning the county on it’s pointy little head, Dr. No is playing party politics as is always the case with him.

Anyway, pay their tepid support of Home Rule little or no mind at all. The way I see it, they’re simply looking at what’s best for them.

And then there’s Maryanne Petrilla’s stated position, which is, she thinks the residents should follow the normal and accepted petitioning process. I’m not sure how you vilify her for that. But, then again, everyone gets vilified by the anonymous assassins on the internet, so have it you effeminate many.

Ah, it doesn’t matter anyway, as Skrep, Home Rule or no Home Rule, is probably on his way out.

Either way, it should prove to be fun for us curious onlookers. Er, us residents.

And then we have this from the official Home Rule Web site:

We’d like to thank these two Commissioners for standing up and doing the right thing. We appreciate your support in the first stage of the process and hope you’ll get involved with the next stages as well. It’s comforting to know that at least two Commissioners understand the need for Home Rule.


From that same Times Leader story:

Skrepenak, who opposed the last charter that was defeated in 2003, said he is not taking a position on home rule. The ballot question will show whether people are interested, he said.

“I won’t issue a stance on whether I’m for or against home rule. I believe wholeheartedly in the democratic process, and the people should be heard,” Skrepenak said.

Um, whichever anonymous author offered up that misleading, unaccredited bit on the Home Rule site clearly and deliberately misrepresented the facts.

What Skrep said was “the people should be heard.” And in a county where devout registered democrats outnumber republicans almost two to one, there’s no guarantee that Home Rule passes into law even after being put to a county-wide vote.

As I previously wondered aloud, who to fear most? The politician promising reform, or the politician in activist clothing promising reform.

Truth is, it’s fast becoming a toss-up.

What it amounts to is, who should ultimately determine the future of Luzerne County? A duly elected Maryanne Petrilla, or the soundly rejected P.J. Best?

Looks like we’re going to vote on it.

But know this: Any form of government, no matter how exulted, is ultimately corruptible. Any system fails without good, ethical people running it. There are no panaceas, no cure-alls, only untested, unproven people promising as much. Catholicons are best left to fools.

And I’m sure to be vilified for having the temerity, the unmitigated audacity to suggest such unspeakable things.


Jason & Friends