Monday, January 30, 2006

Relaxed cats

Relaxed cats
Originally uploaded by dv8or70.
OK, going picture crazy today. Here are the kits: Yuki, Baraka, and Chaiyo. Yuki's the grey one. Baraka is the black and white one. Chaiyo is the extra cute one. They are lounging on their cat furniture in this photo taken in December 2005. It's rare to see Baraka on the furniture and even rarer to see all three lounging there.

Goofing around

Richard shows off Christmas gift
Originally uploaded by dv8or70.
My parents very kindly gave us this drinking vessels for Xmas made of water buffalo horns. This is me playing around after unpacking them.

Wet day in Monroe

wet day in Seattle
Originally uploaded by dv8or70.
It's been raining pretty hard all day. This is a picture of our secondary drainage pond. For much of the year the pond is dry, but the ground is so saturated right now that the pond is filling up. Though you cannot tell it from this picture, there is about 4 to 6 feet of water in it.

Another apricot tart picture

apricot tart
Originally uploaded by dv8or70.
From last night's Lunar New Year celebration dinner. The tart has a hazelnut crust. Please, ignore the messy kitchen. Should I get a royalty for product placements?

Apricot tart

apricot tart 3
Originally uploaded by dv8or70.
Here's a picture of an apricot tart with a hazelnut crust that I made for dessert yesterday. We were celebrating the Lunar New Year with a Chinese style dinner and this didn't really fit the theme, but it was a flimsy excuse to eat something sweet.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Political Quickies

Fascinating report in Newsweek today on conservative lawyers appointed by the Bush administration to Justice department positions who opposed some of the expansions of executive branch power that Bush now claims. The article describes some of the behind the scene battles that took place and hints that there was retribution to those conservatives who opposed executive expansions:

A compromise was finally worked out. The NSA was not compelled to go to the secret FISA court to get warrants, but Justice imposed tougher legal standards before permitting eavesdropping on communications into the United States. It was a victory for the Justice lawyers, and it drove Addington to new levels of vexation with Goldsmith.

Addington is a hard man to cross. Flanigan, his former White House colleague, described his M.O.: "David could go from zero to 150 very quickly. I'm not sure how much is temper and how much is for effect. At a meeting with government bureaucrats he might start out very calm. Then he would start with the sarcasm. He could say, 'We could do that, but that would give away all of the president's power.' All of a sudden here comes David Addington out of his chair. I'd think to myself we're not just dancing a minuet, there's a little slam dancing going on here." But Addington "usually had the facts, the law and the precedents on his side," says Flanigan. He had another huge advantage. He never needed to invoke Cheney's name, but everyone knew that he spoke for the vice president.

The NY Times reports today that some administration officials are putting pressure on Dr. James Hansen, NASA's chief climatologist, to not speak about his personal views on global warming. They also report that other scientists are facing similar pressures.

But Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide.

In several interviews with The New York Times in recent days, Dr. Hansen said it would be irresponsible not to speak out, particularly because NASA's mission statement includes the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet."

He said he was particularly incensed that the directives had come through telephone conversations and not through formal channels, leaving no significant trails of documents.

Dr. Hansen's supervisor, Franco Einaudi, said there had been no official "order or pressure to say shut Jim up." But Dr. Einaudi added, "That doesn't mean I like this kind of pressure being applied."

The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet."

The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions.

After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.

Among the restrictions, according to Dr. Hansen and an internal draft memorandum he provided to The Times, was that his supervisors could stand in for him in any news media interviews...

The fight between Dr. Hansen and administration officials echoes other recent disputes. At climate laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for example, many scientists who routinely took calls from reporters five years ago can now do so only if the interview is approved by administration officials in Washington, and then only if a public affairs officer is present or on the phone.

Where scientists' points of view on climate policy align with those of the administration, however, there are few signs of restrictions on extracurricular lectures or writing.

One example is Indur M. Goklany, assistant director of science and technology policy in the policy office of the Interior Department. For years, Dr. Goklany, an electrical engineer by training, has written in papers and books that it may be better not to force cuts in greenhouse gases because the added prosperity from unfettered economic activity would allow countries to exploit benefits of warming and adapt to problems.

In an e-mail exchange on Friday, Dr. Goklany said that in the Clinton administration he was shifted to nonclimate-related work, but added that he had never had to stop his outside writing, as long as he identified the views as his own.

"One reason why I still continue to do the extracurricular stuff," he wrote, "is because one doesn't have to get clearance for what I plan on saying or writing."

Hm, with the 4th amendment thwarted and the first one under attack (see above plus White House interference on reporting the 4th Amendment violations by the NY Times), which amendment are they going to go after next?

JT LeRoy and Van Sant

I bought it months ago. Sometimes I'm terrible about these things. I buy a movie on DVD and I don't open it or watch it for months. I like movies, but unlike CDs, which I devour the music from as soon as I possibly can do it, I just don't have the same drive or urgency towards them. You know the person who buys a book and it sits on the shelf for weeks to be read, if it is ever read at all? That's me with movies, though I do get around to watching them.

The movie in question this time is My Own Private Idaho by Gus Van Sant. I love this film. I saw it in the theaters and I've watched it several times since on video. When the Criterion Collection announced that they were releasing it on DVD, then I knew that I'd have to own a copy. I bought it the week it came out. We finally sat down and watched it on Friday night and I cannot say I'm disappointed. Terrific film and this print is beautiful.

After making dinner last night (a lentil soup with veggie sausages, tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion, basil, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, cabbage, zucchini, and chard, salad with gorgonzola and a walnut oil dressing, and sourdough bread), I took a look at the DVD to see what the extras were on the DVD. If there was something interesting, then perhaps we'd watch it. As it turned out, Shawn was more interested in Danger Mouse.

However, while looking over the extras on Private Idaho, I was struck by the inclusion of something I hadn't expected. On the DVD is an audio copy of an interview of Gus Van Sant by J.T. LeRoy. If you're unfamiliar with LeRoy, she is one of the great swindlers caught up in the recent fraud memoir scandals. Susie Bright has written twice recently on her blog about being deceived by LeRoy. Now I see this audio track on the DVD and I'm more interested. I wonder if the Criterion Collection folks will remove it from future pressings? It could become a collector's item.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The proper term is 'kidnapping'

What else would you call it? A woman's home is invaded. She is drug out of said home and taken to a secret location. She is held in that location for hours, days, months against her will and separated from her children. A ransom is requested: the kidnappers want her husband. That's kidnapping - plain and simple. It's also what U.S. troops are allegedly doing (under orders, no doubt from Washington that no one will admit giving) in Iraq. From the article:

The Iraqi woman told Knight Ridder on Friday that she and eight other female detainees in her cell had often talked among themselves. She discovered that all of them were being held because U.S. officials had suspected their male relatives of having ties to terrorism. In some cases, men in their families were killed during U.S. raids, the woman alleged.

The woman, whose voice trembled as she told her story, said she didn't want to be named because she feared that she or a member of her family would be arrested...

"We were talking about the charges against each of us," she said. "It turned out to be all the same. We were taken because they suspected our husbands or fathers of being terrorists."

She said she was cut off from her family during her capture and that she didn't see or hear from her husband until he, too, was released Thursday.

She said that during the first 12 days of her imprisonment, interrogators questioned her extensively but also offered her tea and juice.

"I was treated in a good way, no torture," she said...

In a memo written in June 2004 and released Friday, an officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency, whose name was redacted, described the arrest of a 28-year-old woman from Tamiya, northwest of Baghdad. She had three young children, including one who was nursing.

U.S. forces raided her in-laws' home, calling her husband the "primary target." Before the raid, soldiers had decided that if the woman were at the in-laws' home, they'd detain her "in order to leverage the primary target's surrender," the memo's author wrote.

"During my initial screening of the occupants at the target house, I determined that the wife could provide no actionable intelligence leading to the arrest of her husband," the author of the memo wrote. "Despite my protest, the raid team leader detained her anyway."

Guess what, if this is true, and as you can tell I'm inclined to believe that it is, then it's unethical, immoral, against the law, and against the Geneva Conventions. Someone bring charges against these bastards! I'm not referring to the troops on the ground (though I wonder how they justify this), but rather to the bastards in Washington who ordered this. Like Abu Ghraib, however, that's not likely to happen and The (p)Resident, Commander and C(th)ief will most certainly not take responsibility for it.

See, Republicans have a new definition of "personal responsibility". All you have to do these days is state that you're responsible for your actions and for those who work for you. Then, there are no consequences. Once you've confessed, all is forgiven. Katrina? Admitted. Abu Ghraib? Admitted and corrective action taken against those down the food chain. WMD intelligence failures? Admitted and CIA director given medal. Prescription drug program failures? Admitted - no consequences. Avian flu vaccine stockpiles? Admitted and berate drug companies for seeking the profits you encourage. Pension plan underfunding? Admitted and write rules shaking a finger at companies. Coal mines? Hey, we imposed weak fines and slapped wrists! Only in the case of Katrina was anyone held accountable for these actions and even then, it was someone down the food chain.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Political quickies

It seems that the good employees at the DHS might be participating in a time honored tradition of the American worker: surfing porn on company time.
The Homeland Security Department’s internal computer network generated 65 million security alerts during a three-month period and 6.5 million of those may be linked to employees accessing pornographic words or materials, according to a report today from DHS inspector general Richard Skinner...

However, DHS could not identify the specific workstations that had generated the messages, the inspector general found...

DHS’ automated network security tools—which create warnings when detecting a possible breach of IT security—are programmed to look for pornographic keywords such as “oral.” But sometimes alerts are generated when the keywords are embedded in other words, such as in “behavioral,” the report said.
Or "anal" as in "The State of the Union address is bound to be banal." Hey, maybe that's why former Attorney General John Asshat has been seen over at the DHS so much lately! See, Asshat is a lobbyist now. In fact, one of his clients is Oracle. He's made over $250,000 in 3 months shaking his money making tongue.

Washington State passes Gay Civil Rights bill

Well, the Senate passed the bill. The bill now goes back to the House for another vote to agree on language changes. The House has had no problem passing this bill in the past, so this looks like a done deal. The Governor will sign the legislation making Washington State the 17th state in the country to pass this important piece of legislation. It's been a long time coming as the bill was first introduced in 1977.

According to Eli Sanders at the Slog:

His voice thick with emotion, Sen. Bill Finkbeiner (R-Redmond) just made it all but certain the bill will pass. He will likely be the only Republican to break ranks and vote with Democrats in support of the bill. And in explaining to his Republican colleagues why he is choosing to do so, he demolished the conservative argument against the proposed legislation.

He began by going through the list of concerns Republicans usually raise about the bill: That it will hurt small businesses (No, Finkbeiner pointed out, the bill exempts businesses with fewer than eight employees); that it will take away the rights of religious organizations (No, Finkbeiner pointed out, religious organizations are exempted from the proposed law); that it will lead to gay marriage (No, Finkbeiner pointed out, it has nothing to do with gay marriage).

Therefore, Finkbeiner said, “What the debate is about is not what’s in the bill. What the debate is about is what we’ve heard today: Whether or not it’s ok to be gay or homsexual in this state. And whether or not it’s ok to discriminate against someone because of that…

“An earlier speaker said: Would you choose this lifestyle for your children? Parents don’t choose this, you don’t choose who you love. The heart chooses who you love. I don’t believe it would be right for us to say it is acceptable to discriminate against people because of who their heart chooses to love. I cannot stand with that argument.

“I hope that after the passage of this bill that we’ll see that the world continues to turn. But for some people who struggle with this issue, and who struggle with the messages they’re being sent, it will be a better day.”

Why did a Republican join with Democrats to pass this bill? Well, it's not out of character for Finkbeiner who has voted for the bill in the past, but voted against it during the last 2 sessions. This time, however, Microsoft threw it's weight behind the bill (as did many of the state's largest employers). Finkbeiner also recently stated that he wanted to put this issue behind us so that we could focus the legislature on more pressing concerns. Good for him! Congrats, Washington!

Friday Random Twenty

Delayed, but not forgotten:

1) Jolynn Daniel - Some Wicked Season
2) The Fame Gang - Grits N Gravy
3) Lou Reed - Guilty
4) Sergent Garcia - Poetas
5) Goose Creek Symphony - Big Time Saturday Night
6) Quantic - Angels and Albatrosses
7) Esquivel - Speak Low
8) Afro Celts - Further In Time
9) Kate Bush - King of the Mountain
10) Toots and the Maytals - Pressure Drop
11) Voicedude - Papa Was A Rolling Stone Named Jack (Temptations Vs. Rolling Stones)
12) Cansei De Ser Sexy - Ala La
13) Curtis Mayfield - No Thing On Me (Cocaine Song)
14) Thievery Corporation - Troublemakers: Chez Roger Boiete Funk
15) The Style Council - Sure Is Sure
16) Don Ralke - Zulu Magic
17) The Kinks - Low Budget
18) Nina Simone - Who Am I?
19) Richard H. Kirk - Fear (No Evil)
20) Mohammed Wardi - Al Nas Al Giyafa

One in Five UK Employers pay women less

According to a report in today's Guardian:

Almost one in five of the country's biggest employers are breaking the law by paying women significantly lower wages than their male colleagues, according to research by the Equal Opportunities Commission. A study by the commission of 870 employers, all of whom have reviewed their pay structures to check if they are paying equally, found that 16% are unlawfully discriminating against their female workers by paying them less than men to do the same job.

The EOC said that the true proportion was likely to be higher as these organisations were among the more enlightened employers, having voluntarily undertaken pay reviews. Jenny Watson, chair of the commission, told the Guardian: "It's bad enough that 16% have found a pay gap that could be the subject of legal challenge following their equal pay review - but even these figures mask the true extent of the problem".
I once worked for an employer who I suspected of under paying employees based on their gender, so this hardly surprises me. People who claim that the U.S. figures (.79 for each dollar a man earns) are bogus should consider this study seriously.

Friday Art Blogging

Blogger is being a tad difficult this morning, but I got this up (finally). My mind is also not cooperating as I completely forgot that it's Friday. Random top 20 coming soon. In the meantime, enjoy some art and remember, it's not all safe for work.

Andy and Scott Garrett, illustrators from the U.K.

Carey Sookochef, illustrator

Juliana Pedemonte, under the guise of The Color Blok

Drew Weing, illustration and comics.

A small collection of old Japanese postcards

Nath-Sakura Balsan du Verneuil, fetish photographer.

Peter Franck

Sage Sohier

Taner Ceylon, born in Germany and living in Turkey.

Tara Hardy (top two) and Marie-Eve Tremblay (bottom 2) whose works along with many other wonderful illustrators can be found at Colagene.

The Girls Productions is featuring their newest works on their blog. A variety of mediums is represented. Above is a painting and a plush toy.

Vince Packard does water colors, tattoos, animations, and sculpture.

The simply incredible and varied work of Yuko Shimizu

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Laura Rozen cites this piece in the NY Times to make the following observation:
No, it's to make ordinary Americans who are not breaking the law feel like they're being watched, so they curtail their normal behavior, so they are less political, less inquisitive, less vocal, less active, so they feel less free. Typical feature of the surveillance state.
She could be on to something.

Jesus Sings Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

I kid you NOT! From The Guardian:

The BBC plans to mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ this Easter with an hour-long live procession through the streets of Manchester featuring pop stars from The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays and featuring songs by The Smiths and New Order.

In the programme, called Manchester Passion, a character representing Jesus will sing the legendary Joy Division anthem Love Will Tear Us Apart before dueting his arch-betrayer Judas on the New Order hit Blue Monday, according to senior church sources involved in the production.

Mary Magdelene, the penitent whore of the New Testament, is also getting in on the act: she is being lined up to sing the Buzzcocks hit Ever Fallen in Love (with Someone You Shouldn't have) accompanied by a string band.

Former Happy Monday and Celebrity Big Brother winner Bez will play a disciple.

The climax of the event sees Jesus sing the Smiths classic song Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now as he is being flayed by Roman soldiers. He will then come face-to-face with his Roman prosecutor Pontius Pilate with the two of them singing a duet of the Oasis hit Wonderwall and its

"I said maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me?
And after all
You're my wonderwall."

The broadcaster, which plans to show the event live on BBC3 on Good Friday, insisted the event was inspired by "the way Bach and other composers fused music and the Passion story".

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More on DeLay and Cunningham

From the San Diego Tribune:

PerfectWave, which specializes in acoustical technology, won more than
$40 in federal contracts between 2003 and 2005, according
to congressional budget reports. Meanwhile, it donated money to DeLay
and other key Republicans overseeing the appropriations process in
Congress, including Rep. Jerry Lewis of Redlands, who is chairman of
the Appropriations Committee, and Rep. John T. Doolittle, a committee
member who represents a district in the Sierra foothills near

The money was not requested by the Navy but was
instead inserted by the Appropriations Committee as part of the
closed-door congressional earmarking process.

Hm, the money was not requested, but it was earmarked. DeLay and Cunningham each get donations to their PACs and PerfectWave comes from literally nowhere (the company was founded in 2002) to get $40 million in contracts.

Dickie's Political Quickies

After it was revealed yesterday that White House papers indicate that senior administration officials were well aware (or at least informed, though they might have chosen to ignore the reports, so it was at at least communicated to them) of the possible effects of hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration has chosen not to release the papers to members of Congress investigating the events. From the NY Times:

White House Declines to Provide Storm Papers

In response to questions later from a reporter, the deputy White House spokesman, Trent Duffy, said the administration had declined requests to provide testimony by Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff; Mr. Card's deputy, Joe Hagin; Frances Fragos Townsend, the domestic security adviser; and her deputy, Ken Rapuano.

Mr. Duffy said the administration had also declined to provide storm-related e-mail correspondence and other communications involving White House staff members. Mr. Rapuano has given briefings to the committees, but the sessions were closed to the public and were not considered formal testimony.

"The White House and the administration are cooperating with both the House and Senate," Mr. Duffy said. "But we have also maintained the president's ability to get advice and have conversations with his top advisers that remain confidential."

Yet even Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, objected when administration officials who were not part of the president's staff said they could not testify about communications with the White House.

"I completely disagree with that practice," Ms. Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in an interview Tuesday.

According to Mr. Lieberman, Michael D. Brown, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, cited such a restriction on Monday, as agency lawyers had advised him not to say whether he had spoken to President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney or to comment on the substance of any conversations with any other high-level White House officials.

Ridiculous. It is Congress' constitutional requirement to oversee the workings of the government. These people are not part of the president's staff and therefore should be required to testify. In fact, "Brownie" has already testified to other matters, why stop him now? I suppose that this is the sort of artifice that we've come to expect from Congress - have a little political theater in order to hang out to dry one or two officials then wipe your hands of the mess and call it a day. Fuck that. Congressional leaders should grow some ovaries and issue subpoenas. Demand that the subpoenas be enforced and stare down these aristocratic bastards. No executive branch deserves this sort of power. What has happened to "the people's body"? If it doesn't act on this, then I propose that we need new "people" for the ones in office sure don't deserve our loyalty, our trust, our respect, nor the keys of democracy they have been provided.

According to the AP via the Houston Chronicle, the Texas prosecutor in charge of the Tom DeLay case, has issued subpoenas to a firm that has ties to both DeLay's PAC and Randy 'Duke' Cunningham. This would be great if Ronnie Earle could find ties between them. Current House Majority Leader, Roy Blount is also part of the probe now (his graft is reportedly as deep as DeLay's):

DeLay, charged with conspiring to launder campaign money that was given in 2002 races for the state Legislature, flew three times on a jet owned by another Wilkes company, according to campaign records.

According to the subpoenas, businessman William B. Adams wrote a $40,000 check to PerfectWave on Sept. 18, 2002. Two days later, PerfectWave sent $15,000 to TRMPAC, the state committee whose spending is at issue in DeLay's criminal case. On Oct. 3, PerfectWave gave $25,000 to "Tribute to Heroes," Cunningham's annual black-tie charity gala in San Diego.

Wilkes' charitable foundation spent nearly $36,000 hosting "Tribute to Heroes" in 2002. Cunningham, a former Vietnam war fighter ace, was feted with a trophy at the event, according to the event's Web site and tax filings.

Motion Picture Ass. caught making an ass of itself

Wish I could take credit for that headline, but it comes from the good folks at The Register who filed this story:

If it's your job to stop people pirating movies, you should really be very careful not to get caught making pirate copies.

But that's what the Motion Picture Ass. of America has managed to do. The MPAA lobbies for stronger action against pesky pirates and more effective digital rights management. This week it admitted copying a movie, but effectively claimed it was above copyright law.

The MPAA also runs the US rating system. It views films and allocates ratings according to content - G for general audiences, PG for parental guidance.

That was how it got its hands on a copy of "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" - a documentary about how the MPAA rates films. The director, Kirby Dick, specifically asked the MPAA not to make any copies of his film. Dick was assured by an MPAA representative that "the confidentiality of your film... is our first priority. Please feel
assure [sic] that your film is in good hands".

But on Monday the MPAA admitted it had made a copy of the film but claimed, because their staff were the subject of the film, they were not breaking copyright law.

An MPAA spokeswoman said: "We made a copy of Kirby's movie because it had implications for our employees. We were concerned about the raters and their families," the LA Times reported.

She added that the film was "locked away" and no further copies were being made - good to know they're not flogging them down the market then.

Now, see Office Space has implications for my employment, but don't worry...if I make any copies, I'm going to lock them away and no further ones will be made. Strictly for personal the Betamax ruling.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

From the NY Times:

Iraq Rebuilding Badly Hobbled

Until January 2003, reconstruction planning was conducted in secrecy "to avoid the impression that the U.S. government had already decided on intervention," the draft history says. Possibly as a result, the American administrative authority arrived with no written plans or strategies for purchasing and contracting and no personnel with expertise in the area.

Among the first challenges the program faced were the impossibly great needs of crumbling public works. Mr. Nash is cited in the document as saying that officials realized early on that Iraq would need $70 billion to $100 billion over several years. They were forced cut the list of projects down again and again.

"No matter how we pared the list, we needed $20 billion more than we had available or Iraqi reconstruction and transition would stall," Mr. Nash is quoted as saying.

Finally, a list of mostly large projects in several infrastructure areas, including oil, electricity, water, health care and security, was settled on. But a bottleneck immediately arose as the contracting process descended into chaos, the document says. One informer for the inspector general said there were "about 20 different organizations undertaking contracting."

"The C.P.A. was contracting, companies were contracting subcontractors, and some people who didn't have authority such as the ministries were also awarding contracts," the informer told the inspector general.

In the midst of that confusion, at the offices that were actually charged with carrying out those duties "the contracting function was grossly understaffed," the document says.

"They were in need of both larger numbers of personnel, and personnel with qualifications more in line with the work that needed to be done," the document says.

From the Washington Post:

White House Got Early Warning on Katrina

In a second document, also obtained by The Washington Post, a computer slide presentation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, prepared for a 9 a.m. meeting on Aug. 27, two days before Katrina made landfall, compared Katrina's likely impact to that of "Hurricane Pam," a fictional Category 3 storm used in a series of FEMA disaster-preparedness exercises simulating the effects of a major hurricane striking New Orleans. But Katrina, the report warned, could be worse.

The hurricane's Category 4 storm surge "could greatly overtop levees and protective systems" and destroy nearly 90 percent of city structures, the FEMA report said. It further predicted "incredible search and rescue needs (60,000-plus)" and the displacement of more than a million residents.

The NISAC analysis accurately predicted the collapse of floodwalls along New Orleans's Lake Pontchartrain shoreline, an event that the report described as "the greatest concern." The breach of two canal floodwalls near the lake was the key failure that left much of central New Orleans underwater and accounted for the bulk of Louisiana's 1,100 Katrina-related deaths.

The documents shed new light on the extent on the administration's foreknowledge about Katrina's potential for unleashing epic destruction on New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities and towns. President Bush, in a televised interview three days after Katrina hit, suggested that the scale of the flooding in New Orleans was unexpected. "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm," Bush said in a Sept. 1 interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Between these two reports, is there any doubt that this administration is incompetent? I know some argue that the administration is indifferent and some conspiracy theorists argue that the administration intends to do these things in order to demonstrate how bad the Federal government is at solving problems, but I seriously disagree with the latter position. It seems much more reasonable to me to think that they are just bad managers who hire bad people and perform poorly. As to the point about them being indifferent, my guess is that they are so convinced that they have everything under control that they don't seek out potential flaws. Why should they? They can handle anything thrown at them. It comes down to incompetence coupled with ego and that is a dangerous combination.

They're doin' a heckuva job!

Reasonableness versus Probable Cause

From a press conference with General Michael Hayden, principal deputy director of National Intelligence with the Office of National Intelligence:

Defending Spy Program, General Reveals Shaky Grip on 4th Amendment

QUESTION: The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, "We reasonably believe." And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say "we reasonably believe"; you have to go to the FISA court, or the attorney general has to go to the FISA court and say, "we have probable cause."

And so what many people believe -- and I'd like you to respond to this -- is that what you've actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of "reasonably believe" in place of probable cause because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief, you have to show probable cause. Could you respond to that, please?
GEN. HAYDEN: Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order.

Just to be very clear -- and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me -- and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one -- what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable.
The 4th Amendment, just so you know:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. "
So what you have here is an example of the Bush Administration ignoring case law and parsing the Bill of Rights in order to reach the conclusion they desire. It's often said that you can use quotes taken from the Bible and twist them around to get any meaning that you want. Perhaps this is the same standard the Bush Administration is applying to the Constitution. However, if you take the Bible or the Constitution as a whole document and with it use the considered settled opinion of scholars, then I think the conclusions reached by these officials are clearly the result of bearing false witness.

Performancing 1.1 is out

Performancing for Firefox 1.1 is out! |

Indeed it is out and I'm using it now for the first time. Support for Technorati and has been added along with many bug fixes.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Dickie's Quickies

The Washington Post has an article today on network neutrality and tiering of the Internet. Apparently, some of the ISPs (Baby Bells, for instance) are suggesting that the only way that they can provide high speed internet upgrades is if they sell access to companies. Say that Yahoo pays a royalty to Verizon for access and Google does not do the same. The user may then find that they get faster search results using Yahoo with Verizon than what Google with Verizon would provide. That's what's known as tiering. To offer the same speed to both services without charging fees is what's known as network neutrality. Google and Yahoo are lobbying against this pricing scheme which, in essence, would blackmail all major firms to pony up or risk being left behind. Small firms will not be able to compete. Your ISP would make de facto determinations about your choices as a consumer. Why is it that other countries have much higher speed connections compared to the U.S., that these other countries get upgrades faster, and that they do it without tiering? This is a bad idea. Write your legislator.

The Bush Administration created a new position in the Department of Fatherland Security called the deputy director of intelligence. So what, you ask? They appointed a lobbyist to the position. Guess who's watching the data on the Abramoff scandal very closely...

Good news! Turkey has decided not to pursue the case against Orhan Pamuk. The author was accused by the government of offending "Turkishness" when he critically mentioned the Armenian genocide in his country during the early 20th century during an interview with a Swiss publication. That topic is forbidden, which is why he brought it up.

EMI Chairman, Eric Nicoli, was interviewed by Reuters. He's upbeat about the music industry and digital sales:
"We've seen a tripling in the last year and we've hardly gotten started."

Nicoli went on to note:
"We've moved on from the days when the main impact of digital technology was to harm our industry by facilitating rampant online and physical theft," he said. "The day is surely within our sights when digital growth outstrips physical decline and we can all compete for share of a growing pie."

And he thinks that "unbundling" (selling individual songs rather than complete CDs) is inevitable (something I've been saying for a couple of years and it's not a bad thing):
"The pessimists will say that's a problem, but our research suggest that the net effect of unbundling is a positive," he said.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday Reading list

The Independent Online has a great column on Germaine Greer and "The C Word". Are they afraid of using the word, cunt, in the column or are they just respecting Greer's POV? In any case, there's some great historical information. For a follow up, I'd recommend Cunt: A Declaration of Independence (no relation to the newspaper, but a nice tie in nonetheless) by Inga Muscio.

The Guardian has an interesting report on sexuality in the U.K. (Pardon me while I channel my inner Richard Dawson) "Survey Says(!)": Despite extensive sex education (compared to the U.S.), more teens are delaying their first sexual encounter until 17 or so, most people (nearly two thirds) surveyed think prostitution should be legalized, and one in three women have reported having "non-consensual sex". It's an interesting phrase, "non-consensual sex". Many people would call that rape, but this report indicates that not everyone considers that to be the case in all instances. I'd like to read more on that topic.

The Guardian also has information on an interview with former Secretary of State Colin Powell. It seems that Powell thinks that the U.S. will begin to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of this year. Hm, right before the Congressional elections? I've said that before many times here. Some have called me cynical (and I am), but this was a political decision made years ago.

While we're in the muddled world of politics, I'd be remiss if I didn't point you towards an article in Time today: reporters have seen several pictures of Jack Abramoff and/or his children hanging out with George W. Bush and Dennis Hastert (who you might recall fought against new lobbying rules last year as the scandal became apparent - actually, I think Hastert was right....they don't need new rules, but just need to follow the ones in place and need to empower the ethics committees). So, what's Scott "The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him" McClellan got to say about this?

Finally, it's been widely reported that the government is seeking search records from major search engines to press it's case against child pornography in the Supreme Court. AOL, MSN, and Yahoo caved into the request while Google is fighting it. Google may lose, though. I've been cautious about maintaining my anonymity with all of these sites. Wired News has a good article on how you can do that, too.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Not much blogging for a few days

Shawn's birthday was yesterday. She also had events at school to deal with. I met her in the afternoon at the UW bookstore where I came across Talk to the Hand to give to Shawn for the special day. She has read the author's previous work, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, and loved it.

After leaving the store, we drove down to Volunteer Park for a brief walk around. It had been years since Shawn had been there. The weather was brisk, but walking made it nice. We even caught a small bit of sunset. From Volunteer Park, we drove down to Belltown for dinner at Restaurant Zoe. The meal was a gift from my parents to Shawn for her birthday. We shared a lovely garden salad. Shawn had grilled scallops that were served with lentils, bacon, shallots. I had a baked Mediterranean Sea Bass stuffed with shallots and fresh herbs and served on a bed of limas, cherry tomatoes (yum!), and haricot verts. We shared their molten chocolate cake and a glass of armangac for dessert. It was a very good dinner in a nice, cozy restaurant.

We finished dinner early and came home to watch The Brothers Grimm on DVD (rental). It's a dark, pretty good Terry Gilliam film. I'd like to have seen his original cut along with the special effects he wanted to put into the film.

All in all a nice birthday. It continues today as Shawn has the day off. I'm meeting her in Bellevue at 10 AM or so. We're going to eventually head down to Seattle to meet SophiaKitty for lunch at The Boat Street Cafe. From there, we're going shopping at Nordstrom's. After that, there is talk of meeting up with some of Shawn's fellow students for beers and/or meeting our friend Phil for beers. Whew...busy day. I'll probably log back on with a report tomorrow.

Movies for the weekend: The Constant Gardener and Broken Flowers.

Friday Random Twenty

Yea, most memes say Random Ten, but I don't think iTunes gets warmed up until they hit 20 or 21...

1) The Visitations - Talkin' Hate Radio Blues
2) Quantic - When You're Through
3) Serge Gainsbourg - Psychastenie
4) The Temptations - Silent Night
5) The Herbaliser - Gadget Funk
6) Faith Boogie - lemme do my thing
7) Blaine L. Reininger - Throatsinging
8) Alison Moyet - Almost Blue
9) Bebel Gilberto - Aganju
10) Esquivel - I Love Paris
11) Freeform Reform - Beau Mot Plage (Lazy Dog Mix)
12) Breakestra - Recognize
13) Publci Enemy - Do You Wanna Go Our Way???
14) Estrella Morente - Alcazaba (Media Granaina)
15) Nicola Conte - Other Directions
16) Cyprus Hill - Insane in the Brain
17) The Raveonettes - Somewhere in Texas
18) Gil Scott-Heron - B Movie
19) Mississippi Fred McDowell - Jesus Is On The Mainline
20) Jorge Reyes - On the Way To Tlalocan

Bonus: Stan Ridgway - Down the Coast Highway, which just seems like a natural
considering the last 2 tracks.


Hm, late art for Friday? Wonkette shoots and he scores.

Friday Art Blogging

This week's art blogging could be called, "More Brazil; less sex". How can that be?!!? Well, it all started with the first artist on the list, Baptistao. I was so impressed with his caricatures that I began clicking links to other Brazillian artists from his blog. And so on and so on - the veritable house of mirrors. As for the "less sex" part? What can I say but that much of what I found this week was not sexually oriented making this the most work safe posting in quite a while.

Baptistao, caricatures from Brazil.

Beverley Ashe, lovely paintings

Biratan is a comic illustrator from Brazil. His work falls into several subject matters and much of it amused me. I spent entirely too much time on his site this week.

Britton Walters has a project on to do an illustration per day. He did this last year as well.

Diego Fermin - not much art on his site, but what is there is wonderful.

Eco Moliterno

Gustavo Duarte, caricaturist from Brazil.

Jeremy Forson very creepy stuff

Orlando Pedroso

Gerard Rancinan, whose photography fascinated me so much that I post more here by him than I do others. It's very reminiscent of David LaChapelle.

Samuel Casal

Sugar Frosted Goodness is a collaborative blog run by several illustrators. I like this format as it makes it easy for me to locate several different approaches to the art of illustration. Seen above are works from Vonster (bottom) and Alina Chau.