And what better way to celebrate than a Rocky Top Brigade Volunteer Tailgate Party, this edition coming to you from the snow-covered waterfront in Hoboken, New Jersey, which may seem a bit far afield until you consider that we also have dispatches from China, Europe, and even Dayton, Ohio. Yes, friends and neighbors, the Rocky Top Brigade spans the globe as well as the political spectrum. But no matter where we are or what we have to say, we do have some common ground, even if it's just an uneven patch of mountain unsuitable for growing corn.
It's the Year of the Monkey (and the Moonbat, the Wingnut, and the Jackass, and...)
Before we lift our mugs of hot Lynchburg Lemonade to toast the Chinese New Year, a few words of warning: watch out for the Web Marshal. I ran afoul of him myself the other day at the Dayton International Airport in Ohio, where the authorities have graciously provided free Internet access via anachronistic terminal-type devices in little cubicles by the gates. Having arrived early to give the inspectors plenty of time to examine my suitcase full of dirty clothes, I had some time to kill and some catching up to do, so I parked myself and my carry-on bag in one of the cubicles and typed "Rocky Top Brigade" into the Google search field. Sure enough, or as cousin Buddy Don would say, sure a nuff, the first item on the search results was RTB founder South Knox Bubba's site, so I clicked on it. And that's when the Web Marshal stepped in, diverting me with an error page announcing that the site I'd asked for was blocked because of certain words found there, and it even listed those words with stats on how many times they were used. Some of those words had four letters, some began with the letter F and some with the letter S. If there'd been a printer attached to that machine, I'd have used it to print out the list of words as a souvenir, but there wasn't.
Being one of this country's few remaining self-employed independent contractors, I generally work from home and am unfamiliar with the Web Marshal and other means used by employers to keep track of people's web-surfing habits, so at first I thought it was a bit strange that the Web Marshal was ostensibly protecting me from the words in question, even as it gave me a list of them. Then it dawned on me that the marshal wasn't after SK Bubba -- it was after me, for having the audacity to try to read what Bubba wrote, and that list of words was its way of telling everyone in the vicinity, and the Homeland Security folks as well, that here was a subversive trying to read words of mass destruction. Fortunately, I made it onto the plane before the Web Marshal's henchmen could apprehend me. Not that I wouldn't love to visit Cuba someday, but I'd rather explore the whole island, not just Guantanamo Bay.
Cuba is one of the few remaining "red" countries on the planet (not to be confused with "red" or "blue" states). The biggest of those "red" countries is even moreso this week, as the folks in China are painting the nation red to celebrate the New Year. Tennessee Ruck, who is Voluntarily in China, has some live reports from the lively (and subdued) scene there; we recommend they be read all over. Be sure and check out the colorful illustrations by Mrs. Ruck as well.
If the Web Marshal weren't so busy looking out for the f word, he might have time to look into some actual crime, like the nocturnal thievery going on in Deb's workplace. Or he might notice that some of the intellectual property being used on certain brigade sites is not the property of the person using it. He could look into a far more serious crime, a crime against humanity that's going on even as we speak, as Mark G. Havener at The Conservative Zone reminds us. His take on the further implications of slavery in Sudan is a bit different from mine, but we both oppose it.
I found a rocky outcropping of common ground, also, with Aunty Goob over at Goobage: our positions on health insurance are pretty far apart, but we agree that "insurance" and "health care" are not interchangeable terms.
Now Granny at Granny Rant, we've got a lot in common, not least our first name. While this may be the Year of the Monkey, Granny tuned in to the U.S. Senate on CSPAN yesterday and discovered that it's also the Year of the Pigs at the Trough (just like most every other year). Granny also ranted a nice piece about why bloggers blog.
We've heard from Aunty and Granny; now it's time to hear from Say Uncle. Could it be The Year of the Mice? Or the Year of the Mislabeled Dog?
Bill Hobbs at Hobbs Online is quite a ways to my right, but we, too, have common territory: we've both spent some time as newspaper columnists and we both now blog. Hobbs introduces us to a fellow blogger who's a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Hobbs brings us some good news to start the year: he says "The 'Jobless Recovery' Isn't Jobless." I'm sure all the people I know who are looking for work will be glad to hear that.
The Chinese New Year isn't this week's only holiday; Adam Groves offers his thoughts on the politics of Martin Luther King Day.
Hatamaran points out something else the Web Marshal might want to investigate: tampon wrappers that may be in violation of many municipal noise pollution regulations.
If this turns out to be the year of the Jackass, then it'll be my year: that's what C.J. at Up for Anything calls people of my political persuasion. My favorite part of his post-Iowa post, "And Then There Were Seven," is this sentence, seen here completely out of context: "This can't be good news for President Bush and Karl Rove."
From the frozen banks of the mighty Hudson, we turn now to the snow-covered slopes of western North Carolina, where Les Jones spent some time relaxing at an inn where ducks, geese, and rabbits also hang out.
I wish the Web Marshal would look into the e-mail roadblock between Yahoo! mail and my ISP, which is bouncing messages in both directions between me and Barry of Inn of the Last Home. Barry's topics for this edition are Roy Disney's efforts to save the company his dad and uncle founded, and birthday greetings to Hatamaran.
The Web Marshal may not let you read South Knox Bubba's take on the State of the Union, but at least the Marshal will tell you all the words it didn't like.
Brian Arner at Resonance has decided which candidate gets his endorsement this year, for the Democratic nomination as well as the Presidency. He tells us who, and why. (No, it's not Dennis Kucinich.)
We all know that membership in the Rocky Top Brigade is not limited to U.S. citizens only: we're proud to have a Damn Foreigner amongst us. Manish gives us his perspective on immigration issues, in a three-part post.
Buddy Don understands all too well what it's like to be a stranger in a strange land. He takes us on a fictional trip through time and space to what was then called West Germany, back when Jimmy Carter was president.
Thanks to all who contributed to this periodic potluck of opinions, and if you prefer your Lynchburg Lemonade on the rocks, there's plenty of ice for you in the post below. Happy New Year!
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @9:54 AM