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This blog was sent to me by my favorite Serbian Gypsy and all I can say is: “Miss Golightly! I protest!”

It’s a blog listing the hottest heads of state in order of smokiness and while I generally agree with #1, 2 and 3, Hello, #2, and where have YOU been all my life?, I am protesting my Vladimir being left hanging at a lowly 24 while the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko holds the #15 spot.

Are you people off your ever-livin-rockers? 15?? Have you failed to note the comb-over? The CHiPs-style mustache? His overall general creepiness likened to that of a cattle rapist and/or Hitler’s lost nephew? 15????

And greetings, Number 27! What is a nice looking man like you hanging out at an awful ranking like this?

And Mister Prime Minister of Slovenia…there’s something I should be writing here but I find myself oddly hypnotized by your piercing blue eyes…so clear – so pretty – so very, very shiny….

Protests are limited to their comments section, which I find unsatisfactory and thus forcing me to seek justice for Vladimir elsewhere.

Lukashenko, please. Someone has creepy-uncle issues.

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Gotta have my tunes. It’s how I get through the day. I listen to what fits my mood and never just listen to music passively. I’m a big soundtrack kind of person. Thematic if you will. If I’m not in the mood for Yo-Yo Ma, then I turn him off. If I’m in the mood for the Pixies, then I crank it up. It’s just how I roll.

Given that, I credit Green Day’s 2004 album, “American Idiot”, and a great deal of Nina Simone protest songs of the 60’s with helping me get through this last four years of the Bush Administration. I look at my stats on iTunes and they are easily the records most often played.

But now that a new administration is officially installed, I noticed I have been skipping over most of the Green Day songs on my iPod this past week. Tolerance, cooperation, and diplomacy seem to be the order of the day for the first time in a long time, so a record that rages against such things no longer appeals to me. The music of “American Idiot” did its job and now I am ready to move on.

I’m cautiously optimistic but since everything still feels like its in a handbasket on its way to someplace incredibly warm, I’ve been struggling to find some music to give voice to my current world view. So much so that I’ve turned off the radio and my iPod because nothing matches my mood towards the current state of the nation.

I was driving home from school today and after a week of radio silence, I decided to give the radio a whirl. Neil Young, in all his brutal honesty and majestic glory, came blaring into car with “Rockin’ In the Free World”.

And this my friends is my new national anthem.

After 20 years since this song was recorded, Young still raises a valid point: how is it that we seek to solve the world’s problems when we can barely solve the most basic ones on our doorstep? What does a “thousand points of light” do to get a homeless man some shelter?

Now granted these issues don’t exist in a vacuum. You have to address both separately and equally. For example: I recognize the necessity to further science and as such, I support NASA’s endeavors. However, when you look at the budget for NASA (which is 17.6 billion by the way) and what a mess this world is, do we really need to be exporting our nonsense into outer space? Couldn’t –shouldn’t– we be using that money elsewhere? Honestly, I don’t know. But recognizing the complexity of what lies ahead is generally problematic enough, forget about actually answering the question.

Another example: Family planning subsidies were stripped from the latest economic stimulus packaged under the premise that such subsidies are not an actual economic “stimulant”. I find this belief interesting because I know I would love the spend the $1000 I fork out yearly for family planning elsewhere. Not to mention, in tough economic times, assisting women in not having children they can not afford is really in the best interest of society as a whole. But how do you balance two opposing interests?

I don’t expect President Obama to solve all the world’s problems, but I do expect decisions to be thought through. Am I upset over the family planning subsidies? Yes. But I feel this new administration will do good things for women’s health in the coming four years. They are already well on their way simply by eliminating the global gag rule. I can be upset by this issue or choose to recognize that this new administration is trying to remember that they are not only governing Democrats but Republicans and Independents as well. Something we haven’t see in this country for 8 years.

So I go back to my Neil Young and I listen to what is essentially a very depressing song, but hey, it’s got a rockin’ beat, it gets my head bangin’, and it lights a fire, and really, sometimes, that’s all I need.

Wow.

I’m feeling pretty proud to be an American today. Something I haven’t felt in a long time. I wasn’t sure if we as a country had it in ourselves to exit the tunnel of fear, racism, and hatred we have been living in for the last eight years.

We elected a black man to be president. We almost elected a woman to higher office. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had the highest voter turnout ever.

I am verklempt. But I’m holding my head high.

So I voted this morning. The lines were non existent, the parking was ample, plenty of people were on hand, but yet it still managed to take more time than it should have.

The problems begin with the location. I voted at Trinity Lutheran Church on 38th Street, which just felt wrong. Plain wrong. But aside from issues regarding the separation of Church and State, there were no signs – anywhere – telling you that this was the place, this is where you enter, or this is the room to where you go to vote.

There was ample room for the bake sale the church decided to have, but you could not turn around in the room where the actual voting takes place. The ladies running the show (and don’t get me wrong here, I have the highest respect for poll workers) where at best unorganized and discombobulated.

No matter. I voted. Made my voice heard. And then got the hell out of there.

With regards to the after work voters though, I can see this process getting long and ugly.

If you want to explain the effed-up spectacle that is American Politics to a Viking, it is best explained via the Prose Edda, a collection of poetry about Norse Mythology.

In one particular understanding fo the world, there is the World Tree, Yggdrassil, which is inhabited by several beings: Veðrfölnir, a hawk residing at the top of the tree, and Níðhöggr, a dragon who resides at the bottom eating the roots.

The most interesting character residing there however, is Ratatosk, a red squirrel whose sole job is to ferry insults between Veðrfölnir and Níðhöggr and spread gossip.

So as we enter the final two weeks of this election season, and tempers flare hotter, and the attack ads get nastier, I think it is safe to assume that despite whomever one takes for being either the hawk or the dragon in this election, I think we can all agree who is Ratatosk.

I’ve never been more thankful to not have the TV hooked up.

I was walking the puppy dog the other day when I passed a neighbor with a sign in her front yard that reads “Vote Pro-Life”. She happened to be out front raking her yard. And as I am sure you can guess, I couldn’t help myself:

“What exactly does that mean: ‘pro-life’?”

“It means I am voting for candidates that support a culture of life.”

“‘Culture of life’. So then you’re voting Democrat?”

“What?! What would ever give you that idea? They’re baby killers!”

“But they don’t support the war in Iraq and typically are against the death sentence. 2 for 3 on your culture of life scale.”

She paused with the rake in hand and just kinda of stared into space for a moment.

“”Maybe you should clarify that to read Anti-abortion if that’s what you really mean.”

The sign came down yesterday. Replaced by a “McCain” sign. One where “Palin” is ln the bigger font.

As the economy continues to spiral down the drain, and yet another weekly bailout plan is thrown at us, I’ve been contemplating the increasingly strange evolution of the relationship of this government with its people.

The best idea of the government has been to throw more money at the banks and Wall Street. All of course with tax payers’ money mind you, which in theory gets the bank lending to each other again, and in turn, to their thinking, will somehow get us into back into the bed with these scummy entities via the form of investing in the stock market.

And the all the while Henry Paulson acts like he’s some noble hero by stealing our money and strong-arming the banks into accepting money some of them don’t even need. What Paulson fails to realize is that this behavior does not make him or the government heroes, but it does, however, make them pimps.

Yeah, that’s right, you heard me, big ol’ Pimp-thug-dealers. In fact the only thing missing from this picture of the government is the hat.

For years the government, let’s call it Big G, so Big G sat on the corner trying to entice people with his cadre of lovely banking beauties, his “Ho’s”, by stripping away every layer of regulated inhibition. C’mon what’s it gonna hurt? Who’s gonna know? Pushing and pushing until people felt a little toss underneath the sheets was a victimless crime. I mean really, who would it hurt?

But the economics of being a good pimp means you also have to diversify your product line. Few pimps deal strictly in sex. A little drug dealing, just enough to keep both “Johns” and “Ho’s” hooked, and the occasional enforcing to keep the deviants in line, all help flesh out the portfolio.

The banks got hooked on the crack of deregulation and the people got hooked on the sleazy ease of unlimited credit. And then the proverbial condom breaks and we all end up with a fat and nasty STD in the form a financial meltdown.

(Big G also failed to realize that if your Johns and Ho’s all die of overdoses and disease, you lack a both product and a customer at the end of the day.)

But really, the fact is it doesn’t matter how much play money Big G throws at this situation anymore. The Johns are not inclined to get into bed with a Ho who is going to them financial syphilis or worse. When England nationalized their banks, heads rolled and a new harem of Ho’s were brought in. No such provision is being made here.

Clearly, a massive does of penicillin is required. Whatever metaphor you want this penicillin to stand for is up to you. I just know that it’s time to either double-bag it, switch street corners, or get thee to a nunnery.

Any body else as sick of this election as I am? I’m at the end of the proverbial rope. It would be worse if I had the TV hooked up because I’m sure the political assaults are in full force. However, the radio is performing admirably in its deluge of bad financial news and campaign hooplah and I can barely even tolerate that anymore.

Now that I think of it, I think listening to the radio makes this all much more vivid. TV is a primarily a visual medium, walk out of the room when one of the attacks ads is playing and you don’t receive half the impact because you lack the imagery. With radio, you can’t escape it except to turn it off. Words written for just audio impact it pretty strong stuff. Switch stations and it’s only more of the same.

And let’s not forget the voices in our heads: McCain, Obama, Palin, Biden.

If McCain says “my friends” one more damn time…I mean…!@#$%$!…can’t he think of another word??? Honestly, get that man a thesaurus! Here, I’ll help: amigo, brother, chum, sister, confidant, confidante, mate, pal, comrade, dog (as in yo’), Romans, countrymen! Seriously, I’ll take anything, just switch it up already!

And Obama: decibel control, dude! I know on radio they are recording him speaking at events, but wow, Big! Booming!Voice!All!The!Time!

And Palin? Ah, jeez, I cannot, simply cannot listen to that idiot babble on. It wouldn’t be so bad if were just the babbling, but factor in her incredibly annoying, kindergarten teacher voice and something just takes over: must.shove.pencil.in.ear….

Is Biden even alive anymore? Where the hell is he? Maybe this is a radio thing and he’s just not getting the same play, but really, where is he? Not that I need to hear his schizophrenic, love/hate relationship speech with McCain anymore.

I just need this all to be over. Make the voices stop.

One person’s news blip is another person’s major revelation.

Iceland, my dear, dear, Iceland has taken a loan from Russia in the amount of $5 billion dollars to help offset its potential banking collapse.

Dayamn.

Now let’s be clear that this was an option of last resort for Iceland since its Western Allies weren’t ponying up some dough. And this is a HUGE mistake on behalf of the US. I won’t comment for the UK or the rest of Europe, but if we are in fact, and I think we can all agree on this, on the verge of brand spanking new Cold War, then militarily speaking, we should have found a way to help out Iceland. Period.

A quick review of the facts for a moment, shall we? As I’ve been writing about for over a year now, Russia has launched illegal flights over the island nation, claimed sea floor for Russia dangerously close to Iceland’s territorial waters, and they’re building a scary new submarine not all that far from the most strategic point of the North Atlantic. And now Iceland has been put in the position of having to borrow money from them?

Where the hell is the US strategic policy on this one?

As I previously quoted, Iceland is like a revolver pointed at the back of the head of the person not holding the gun.

And since America stepped out of Keflavik air base in Iceland in 2006, they are wide open. I hope that when Iceland is need of a second loan, and it is looking as though it will be necessary, I hope the US smartens up and finds a way to help them out.

Among all the other things we can’t afford right now, this is another item on the list.

And of course I speak as an American on the topic and what Iceland means to us strategically. Hildi, I hope you’re out there. I’d love your input on this.

I haven’t checked my 401k or any of my IRA’s lately. No need to really. They’re all in the hole to some degree or another, of that I can be absolutely sure.

I’ve also stopped listening to the news for a while. There’s only so much you can take with regards to the bail out, the election, and economy. We’re blind people wandering about a coat room looking for a green print jacket. And while the guy clearly has made a wad of dough in his time, I don’t believe Dr-Strangelove-Henry-Paulson is the guy to find the coat.

So here’s my thing as far as all this election hooey is concerned: I’m almost to the point where I don’t give a damn about the personal politics of either candidate. Just give me a freakin’ business manager already. Congress and the Senate can handle to other crap, just give me an executive who can keep a budget.

We’re in freefall here and I have learned to accept it. I don’t plan on retiring for thirty years or more so I’m going to hope that there’s time to build back the lost nest egg. I don’t believe in this bail out so I’m willing to see where the absence of one takes us in the market place. The worst thing that can happen is that we hit absolute bottom and I don’t know about you, but I’m fairly sure I can see it from here.

And the best part about hitting bottom is that you have no where to go but up.