Saturday, July 29, 2006


In this article in the NY Times on the slow down in the housing market, one line jumped out at me. After noting that the housing boom added 1.1 million jobs during the last five years, the article states:
The rest of economy lost 1.2 million jobs over the same period, according to an analysis by Moody’s
Further proof of the failed economy of recent times. Very much like the economy in the 80s. Trickle down information about the economic failures of the times comes buried in articles like this one. Yes, some people are doing better, but many others are stagnant or worse.

A Harvard Public Policy Professor outlines 6 objective criteria for determining if a civil war is taking place. No surprise that Iraq meets all 6 criteria.

Though Orhan Pamuk was freed, Turkey is still going about attempted prosecutions of writers who "insult Turkishness". Latest high profile victim: Elif Shafak

Sad day in Seattle as the actions in the Middle East result in a violent outburst here that leaves 6 dead.

Time for some lite news: Shower Boobies (via Feministing, and yes, Samhita's right - talk about mommy issues!)

The Residents
have a new video series up on YouTube.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Your Fatherland Security dollars at work

In Indiana, they put ads on Amber Alert signs.

In Minnesota, they arrest "fake zombies" (apparently because they looked like real zombies...and everyone knows real zombies are part in parcel with Al Quaida, Hizzbollah, and Hamas).

Interesting reading for history buffs

WFMU's Beware of the Blog has a post up about Harvey Matusow. Who was he? He was one of the main sources for Roy Cohn and Senator Joseph McCarthy during the red scare of the 50s. Matusow lied about lots of people having Communist ties. He ruined the lives of many people. The irony was that he was an opportunist who was a member of the Communist party before he turned into a paid informant liar. Fascinating reading, including what became of the man.

Friday random ten

Here ya go:

01) Lloyd Cole - I Didn't Know That You Cared
02) David Snell - International Flight (via Thievery Corporation)
03) Les Baxter - The Feathered Serpent of the Aztecs
04) Marvin Gaye - Just To Keep You Satisfied
05) k.d. Lang - Bird On A Wire
06) Bob Keene - Uprising
07) Hilary Scott - People On A Train
08) Elisabeth Waldo - On The High Plateau
09) John Cale - Reading My Mind
10) Rosengarden and Kraus - Satan Takes A Holiday

Note: Just got into for the first time in ages. For a while I could not log on, but today I was able to do so. Oddly enough IE 7.0 would not render the page. I downloaded the new plug in for my media players and all is working again (my charts had not been updated since April).


'cause everybody loves quickies...Twenty Syphilis Posters from the 1940s (be safe with your quickies)...which reminds me of a saying a friend's mother has: where do you find sympathy? Between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.

France's Museum of Frogs. Truly, a visual marvel.

Strange Statues from around the world.

Naked garden statues.

The man who brought the world the sculpture of Britney giving birth has a new piece called Hillary's Bust (for the first woman president of the U.S.A.)

DIY vagina: 1 soft block of tofu, 1 can of pineapple juice, and salt.

Tip that stripper well - she might be keeping a human hand named "Freddy" and six skulls in her room.

The U.S. economy has had a dramatic slow down. If politicians took the time to talk with their constituents, then they wouldn't be surprised by this news.

50% of those polled in the U.S. believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Great article in Newsweek on Bush's failures to understand the players in the Middle East and how it affects his administration's strategy. Robert Fisk reports from inside Lebanon.

Residents of a FEMA trailer park set up after hurricane Katrina cannot speak to the press without an "official escort" - something we condemn the Chinese and Cubans for doing.

Beyond Marriage - a group I can heartily support.

Former KEXP DJ, Greg Jaspan (Saturday mornings from 1am to 6 am) speaks with The Stranger about his firing. Setting aside his disgruntled attitude and discussion of the scene of his termination, I find his discussions regarding KEXP programming to be spot on. In my opinion, the station has gone downhill in quality programming for years even as it's popularity has risen.

Harry Potter will be naked on stage next year. Well, Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays him will be.

Monday, July 24, 2006


This is a bit disturbing, if true: Israel had the war plan with Hezbollah in place for more than a year ago. It called for a three week attack. We're currently in week 2.

Another report on Iraq falling apart. Snip:
It seems unlikely that Baghdad will ever come together again. Sunni are frightened of being caught in a Shia district, and vice versa. Many now carry two sets of identity documents, one Sunni and one Shia. Checkpoints manned by the Mehdi Army know this and sometimes ask people claiming to be Shia questions about Shia theology. One Shia who passed this test was still killed because he was driving a car with number plates from Anbar, a Sunni province.
And yet, another report on the same issue:
"Iraq as a political project is finished," a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: "The parties have moved to plan B." He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. "There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west," he said.
Such a result was predicted by many people before the war in Iraq started. The Bush administration dismissed such prognostications as wildly incorrect. Now that it is coming to pass, how will the administration spin it? As a decision for the Iraqi people to make? Will we build embassies in all three regions? Will Baghdad become a walled city like Berlin was during the cold war? Will this be the new cold war fighting ground with Iran as our enemy? Will the country become walled apart a la Israel and Palestinean territories? How will Turkey and Iran respond to an autonomous Kurdish zone?

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Afghanistan continues to be attacked by the Taliban. Iraq is in a state of civil war. Israel sends tanks into Lebanon, causing refugees to flee into already packed Syria. Somalia is edging closer to civil war while the Ethopian government, which has always coveted the Somali lands, moves in to "protect" the U.S. backed government there. When will military commanders wake up and realize that they, and their allies, are fighting wars on several fronts? The U.S. military always proclaimed that it could fight a war on two fronts, but now it's looking at more than three fronts and we haven't even brought up problems in Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea. The British seem to have little stomach for the Israeli conflict to the point that even Blair is breaking, if ever so slightly, from being a lapdog of the U.S.

Such is the shame of the failed Bush administration's policies. It reflects poorly on our nation that we do not stand up and demand a change. We will reap the consequences of these actions for years to come. Wars on several fronts brought to you by the same folks who brought you the "culture of life". Branding, Texas-American style. Say "Moo", you cows.

Alarming environmental news: the Amazon rain forest is in the second year of a drought and a new study says that it may only survive three years of such droughts. This could have an immense global impact on the warming of the planet.

Speaking of warming, those crazy Brits drank 26 million bottles of water in one week of the recent heat wave. That's a lot of plastic being made and wasted. Not that the rest of the western world is any better on this score.

Some people in Harlem are heated with Bill Clinton. It seems that ever since he placed his headquarters in that city gentrification has taken over. Poor blacks can't afford to live in Harlem any more.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

No Honor Among Puppets

Via Tennessee Guerrilla Women, Maureen Dowd's column today on the failed foreign policies of the Bush Administration. Snip:
In a twist that illustrated the growing power of Shiites and Iranians, even the Shiite Iraqi prime minister broke with the Bush stance and denounced Israeli attacks on Lebanon. Is there no honor among puppets?

Condi was as cool as ever in the State Department briefing room yesterday, perfectly groomed in a camel-colored suit with an athletic white stripe. Like her boss, she does not show any sign of tension over the fact that all of their schemes to democratize the Middle East ended up creating more fundamentalism, extremism, terrorism and anti-Americanism. Having ginned up the idea that Al Qaeda was state-sponsored terrorism backed by Saddam, now W. and Condi have to contend with the specter of real state-sponsored terrorism.
Meanwhile, back to the subject of Iraq, which this administration is desperately attempting to avoid, looking for cover in Lebanon and Iran, Harper's reports that John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence, is preventing a National Intelligence Estimate on the situation in Iraq. There hasn't been one of these reports since 2004 because the administration found that report too pessimistic (even if it has proven accurate). Snip:

A third source, a former CIA officer who served in Iraq, said he had no direct knowledge of Negroponte blocking the NIE but that it jibed with past practice. “The NIE is a crucial document . . . that tells you how to tweak your policy,” he said. “That's hard to do if you don't want to look at it.” He said he had two recent conversations with people in Iraq, one an official at the Ministry of Interior who told him that as of two days ago there were 1,600 bodies piled up at the central morgue in Baghdad. The second conversation, he said, was with an Iraqi general officer who told him, “I never thought I would see my capital like this. It's on fire.”

“[The administration] can call it whatever they want,” said the former CIA officer. “There's a civil war going on in Iraq.”


According to the British NATO commander in Afghanistan, that country is "close to anarchy".

The U.S. is speeding up bomb deliveries to Israel. They claim that they are delivering more accurate, guided bombs. But what does that say about their diplomacy angle? No worries:
"He thinks he is playing in a longer-term game than the tacticians," said the former official, who spoke anonymously so he could discuss his views candidly. "The tacticians would say: 'Get an immediate cease-fire. Deal first with the humanitarian factors.' The president would say: 'You have an opportunity to really grind down Hezbollah. Let's take it, even if there are other serious consequences that will have to be managed.' "
In other words, there really is no diplomacy happening at this point. Not that we're surprised. Kindasleazy Rice's visit on Sunday has no stops in Syria, Lebanon, Palistinean territories, or Iran. In other words, none of the other major players besides Israel. What must be her reason for going there, then? Probably to demonstrate U.S. support for the actions the Israelis have taken and to coordinate what the next steps should be for the public face of the strategy. Which makes the following line from the same link above rather interesting:
"We don't want the kind of truce that will lead to another conflict," said this official, who added that, when the time comes, "you will see plenty of diplomacy."
See the time has not come and it won't come by Sunday. Hell, it probably won't come for at least another week, perhaps more. Meanwhile, that bit about "...truce that will lead to another conflict"? As usual the Bush administration is only viewing this as a conflict with Hezbollah and, by proxy, Iran. Perhaps they are thinking of Lebanon and Syria as well, but they are considering the wider implications. This position will not sit well with either our allies nor those in the Islamic or Arab worlds. Take for example this article in the NY Times:

“Our brothers are being killed in Lebanon and no one is responding to their cries for help,” said Sheik Hazzaa al-Maswari, an Islamist member of Yemen’s Parliament, in his Friday sermon at the Mujahid Mosque in Sana, the country’s capital.

“Where are the Arab leaders?” he said. “Do they have any skill other than begging for a fake peace outside the White House? We don’t want leaders who bow to the White House.”

The tone of the sermons suggests that the fighting in Lebanon is further tarnishing the image of the United States in the Arab world as being solely concerned with Israel’s welfare and making its allied governments look increasingly like puppets.

“What is creating radicalism in the region is not authoritarian regimes,” said Mustafa Hamarneh, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. “Mainly it is American policy in the region — survey after survey shows that.”

The attacks against Arab leaders from the pulpit were all the more surprising because so many governments have exerted some manner of control over sermons in recent years. Dictating the content of the weekly themes is one means of preventing prayer leaders from launching into the kind of political discussions that could inspire extremists.

...By not working harder to stop the deaths of scores of Lebanese women and children, he said, the United States is abetting the recruiting efforts of the likes of Osama bin Laden and the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

“The United States is creating more Zarqawis, more bin Ladens in the Mideast every day,” Mr. Habash said.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday Random Ten

A little late today because I've been busy all morning. In honor of that activity, we'll call this one the Apricot Jam(min') Edition:

01) Cameo - You're A Winner
02) DJ Mike W - Higher Love Shack (Steve Winwood vs The B-52s)
03) The Shangri-Las - Long Live Our Love
04) The Kinks - David Watts
05) Soul Runners - Grits N Corn Bread
06) Stan Ridgway - Lonely Town
07) Thievery Corporation - Satham Shivam Sundaram (featuring gundan)
08) Brian Eno - This
09) Marie Boine Person - Free At Last
10) Nostalgia '77 - After Arafat


Oh, my, the boys in the New York Dolls might have a hit on their hands. The song is catchy and cheeky as is the video.

Durex is marketing condoms to young teens in England. Good for them.

Password protected briefs for men.

The Pharmacy Board in Washington State dropped it's proposal for allowing pharmacists to deny prescriptions because it went against the pharmacist's personal beliefs. This is excellent news. Despite the spin in the article, the reason that they did this was because the governor threatened to fire them all if they passed the proposal (and she has that right).

As the 500th anniversary of his death approaches, new documents confirm that he was a tyrannical despot. Expect conservatives, who have denied this account for years, to claim that those were different times. Yet the documents show that some of his supporters gave horrific testimony at his trial.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sometimes, they get one right

Tom Tomorrow
, however, has a better batting average than "sometimes".


Above photo from NY Times. A Lebonese girl is consoled after her house was bombed and family members were killed. We see now how the effects of the Bush policies are playing out in the Mideast. According to the Guardian (link above), the US is giving Israel a week before beginning diplomatic work. Maybe this will get Bush into action faster, thought I doubt it. Condi may get in a snit about it, but whether or not the administration's policies have failed and possibly contributed to this latest violence involving Israel is worthy of discussion.

One hundred Iraqis are dying daily.

Speaking of failed Middle Eastern policies, it appears as if Turkey may attack the Kurds. Seeing as Iran isn't too fond of them either, this could escalate into something far worse. Will the U.S. stay out of it? Will the new Iraqi government be outraged? Will this provide the excuse needed for attacking Iran? Stay tuned.

Iraq's leader takes a stand....against the Israeli bombing.

In the U.S., the rise of paramilitary police raids. Snip:
These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

In lighter news: the new British pub laws have not incited violent crimes.

Brigitte Bardot may bid France farewell.

A government accounting office found waste amongst the transactions of government credit card holders at the Department of Fatherland Security. No shock that plasma TVs, doggie booties, thousands of iPods, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computers were amongst the wasteful items purchased. We've come to expect these stories, after all, and why should the numbnuts at Fatherland Security be any different? What was shocking was that the accounting office found a home brewing kit purchased by the Coast Guard was wasteful. Damn you, it was for beer!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Power down at work

Yesterday was a doozy for work. Power went out at the store around 5:25PM. We soon discovered that the back wall had power, but not the rest of the store. Working quickly, we hooked up the main office computers to an extension and connected it to an outlet on the back wall. That got some of the main systems up and running and allowed us to open as a cash or check operation. Customers were pleased - for the most part - that we had made some effort to stay open. My manager left as soon as he could as he had an appointment. That left me in the store, with little power, to close the place up for the third time since I started.

Of course, things did not go right. The registers were on emergency backup batteries. At one point, those batteries began beeping quickly, so I realized that they were running low on power. There were three customers in the store. One was a woman who had a large bottle of Grey Goose vodka in her hand. She asked me a question about a particular wine, which we didn't carry but might be able to special order. Then, I announced to everyone in the store that purchases should be made quickly before I lost power completely at the registers and had to close up.

The woman with the vodka made it to the counter first...and proceeded to try and flirt with me. Normally, I enjoy a little flirting. It's just good fun, but this was really not the time for such games. As I attempted to move the sale through as quickly as possible, the next customer in line rolled her eyes and shot disgusted glares at the Grey Goose customer. Luckily, I got through the ordeal without insulting anyone's feelings and the woman making faces seemed to appreciate my dilemma.

However, due to the delay, I wasn't able to lock the doors right away and more customers flowed in. Naturally, the batteries died and 4 more people were still there. I locked the in door and announced that the registers had died - we'd have to close. People looked terribly disappointed. I thought about it and decided to sell to the people there. One person wrote a check. The next 4 came up with cash close to the correct amount (10 to 60 cents over the amount) and told me not to worry about the change. Our final customer was the man who ran the smoke shop down the strip mall. He came in for his customary 2 bottles of beer. It was 6:30 and the store was locked up.

I waited until 7 to see if the lights would come on. Despite the sign I posted on the door, people continued to approach the store and give disgusted looks when they found out that we had no power. At 7, I went ahead with plans to try and close the store down (as normal). I set aside money for the purchase at the end that were never rung through. That would have to be rung in the next day for the computers to balance properly. Then, I found out that the registers apparently had not transmitted any of the transactions from the time we got the office PCs powered up. Oy! So, my till was over. No biggie...the store balanced. Then, we lost power to the entire store for about 15 minutes. I continued working on closing things down when the power came back up. I was able to log back on to our main PCs and enter in the figures for the store balance and the bank deposit. I was also able to lock everything in the safe! It made me about 30 minutes late for leaving, but I think I got us covered and left the customers happy - for the most part. We'll see when I go in today.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

YouTube, Blogger, and IE

My brother wrote me this morning to tell me that my blog wasn't appearing correctly in IE. *Sigh* This happens every so often. The blog appeared fine in Firefox and I'm sure Opera was dealing with it as well, but in IE, my brother had to scroll way down the screen to see any content. Heh - he was lucky. In IE 7 (which I have loaded on my machine) the content did not appear at all. The side bars were OK, but not the content.

As I recalled, when this happened in the past, it was due to my embedding a video from YouTube into the blog. Sure enough, when I deleted the post of the video created for Ted Stevens' famous "The Internet is a series of tubes" speech, the blog appeared fine in IE once again. So, what's the deal with IE and rendering embedded videos? If IE 7 cannot handle this properly, isn't that another dent in it's armor and a plus for switching to Firefox or Opera? I suspect it's because IE isn't adhering to standards. In any case, it was ironic for that particular video to be the cause. Those tubes must have been clogged.

Bush's swearing

God, the liberal blogs and the mainstream media in the U.S. are such dolts sometimes. Here they are trying to score points with their constituencies about Bush using the word, "shit" and they are missing the whole fucking point of the conversation. The point of the conversation is MUCH more interesting than whether the President resorted to words most of us use fairly often.

In this transcript of the conversation, provided by and commented on by the Independent Online, Tony Blair is asking Bush if he can go to the Middle East to broker a deal. Bush tells Blair that he won't allow it and that Bush is sending Kindasleazy Rice instead. Isn't it more interesting to note that Tony Blair really is the lapdog of American presidents rather than whether or not Bush swears? Snip:

Bush: What about Kofi? (inaudible) His attitude to ceasefire and everything else ... happens. (Change of subject. Now they are on to Lebanon and the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan)

Blair: Yeah, no I think the (inaudible) is really difficult. We can't stop this unless you get this international business agreed.

Bush: Yeah. (Mr Blair is trying to push the idea of a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. That 'yeah' does not sound like a wholehearted agreement)

Blair: I don't know what you guys have talked about, but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral. (Meaning: 'Please, George, let me go to the Middle East and be a world statesman')

Bush: I think Condi is going to go pretty soon. (Meaning: 'No')

Blair: But that's, that's, that's all that matters. But if you... you see it will take some time to get that together. (Meaning: 'Oh well, all right, if you don't want me to. Just a thought')

Bush: Yeah, yeah.


Interesting site: Queer Music Heritage

The U.S. government is charging it's citizens to be evacuated out of war torn Lebanon and doing a slow job of it. So much for protecting it's citizens!

FedEx drivers are all "independent contractors" and, therefore, are getting screwed on benefits.

Investigators caught anti-abortion "pregnancy resource centers" lying about the effects of abortions. Who is surprised by this?

Politicians looking to gain votes by fear mongering about immigrants have gotten the federal government to tighten the borders. Apparently it's working because farmers in Washington state can't get enough people to harvest the crops. What was that line about taking jobs away from Americans? I don't see those Americans rushing to the fields.

George Will smacks down The Weekly Standard. Snip:
The administration, justly criticized for its Iraq premises and their execution, is suddenly receiving some criticism so untethered from reality as to defy caricature. The national, ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque to most people, but to the Weekly Standard -- voice of a spectacularly misnamed radicalism, "neoconservatism" -- everything is crystal clear: Iran is the key to everything .

Friday, July 14, 2006

Must read

If you're interested in security then there's a great article on El Reg today regarding complexity and it's role in guarding against terrorism. Snip:

The oft-used construct, "the public would never forgive us if..." is a cop-out. It's a spurious justification for taking the 'collar the lot' approach, throwing resources at it, ducking out of responsibility and failing to manage. Getting back to basics, taking ownership and telling the public the truth is more honest, and has some merit. A serious terror attack needs intent, attainable target and capability, the latter being the hard bit amateurs have trouble achieving without getting spotted along the way. Buying large bags of fertiliser if you're not known to the vendor and you don't look in the slightest bit like a farmer is going to put you onto MI5's radar, and despite what it says on a lot of web sites, making your own explosives if you don't know what you're doing is a good way of blowing yourself up before you intended to. If disaffected youth had a more serious grasp of these realities, and had heard considerably more sense about the practicalities, then it's quite possible that fewer of them would persist with their terror studies. Similarly, if the general public had better knowledge it would be better placed to spot signs of bomb factories. Bleached hair, dead plants, large numbers of peroxide containers? It could surely have been obvious.

Does that work? Does it get us very far? No, in the sense that it doesn't stop the sympathisers from sympathising and it doesn't stop all of the bombs. But given that neither of these is going to happen whatever the police do, and whatever the law says, we need a long-term survival/endurance strategy that doesn't drown the security services in a swamp of data, doesn't turn us into a police state, but does whatever is feasible to minimise risk. Despite what they (inc., the Home Affairs Committee) tell you, we've been here before, and it isn't all that different this time around.
Hat tip to Bruce Schneier. I got to his blog before I read El Reg this morning.

Friday Random Ten

The "I Told You So" edition for all of those who thought going to war in Iraq would somehow bring peace and democracy to the Middle East.

01 - Max Roach - Man From South Africa
02 - Kelis - Get Along With You (FakeID Remix)
03 - James Brown - Papa Don't Take No Mess, Pt 1
04 - Gil Scott-Heron - Blue Collar
05 - Arvo Pärt - Gloria From Missa Syllabica
06 - Ernesto Djedje - Assouna
07 - Gianluca Petrella - Trinkle, Trinkle
08 - Richard H. Kirk - Who's Afraid (of the Red, White, & Blue) Sandoz Remix
09 - Les Baxter - Jungle Jalopy
10 - John Coltrane - Olé

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Gas prices are going up thanks to "tensions" in the Middle East (nice metaphor).

Great editorial on the politics in Iraq and Afghanistan by someone who has actually spent a great deal of time in both countries traveling around amongst their peoples. Snip:
But the Westerners’ political strategies are too often based more on moral ideals than real information — very few coalition officials serve in these countries for more than a year, even fewer are specialists in the region, and security restrictions prevent them from living in the community. Many have too much faith in their ability to create a society in their own image and a mistaken belief that they can find clean, technocratic, powerful and liberal alternatives to these local leaders. They prefer to rely on constitutions and abstract economic theories than to engage with local personalities.
Hundreds detained over Mumbai bombings...western bloggers remain silent while secretly appreciating capitalisms outsourcing of at least some terror.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More quickies

The Inspector General of the Department of Fatherland Security released a report of the data that was used to determine funding from the department for cities and states in the U.S. Among the sites listed were a flea market, an Amish popcorn farm, and a petting zoo. Looking at the chart provided in the link as to the number of sites listed, it's clear that some states are playing fast and loose with potential terrorist targets. For instance, Montana had more listings than did Massachussetts or New Jersey. What can we conclude from this? Well, there are several possibilities.

One might surmise, for instance, that there is a lack of a standard in determining what type of sight qualifies as a target. I think that's a fairly easy one to determine. In Washington State, for instance, our Seatac airport cannot run it's video cameras pointing at the loading and unloading ramps due to lack of funding, yet the Auburn Supermall got a grant for a sophisticated digital surveillance camera system from the federal government because it was a potential terrorist target. Leaving aside the argument as to whether or not the Supermall is potentially a target, which would be the higher priority - the Mall or the airport? Most sane people would agree that the airport should be given a system first before the Mall (if it got one at all).

Secondly, one might surmise that paranoia runs deep amongst the state planners who judged these sites. That's a generous explanation as to why a petting zoo made the list. Another explanation may be that these planners were looking at any gathering spot in order to increase their share of the federal monies as if national security were some sort of competition. That's a cynical reading of it and one that might create cries of "Fraud" for planners that led such bad practices. Indeed, if it could be proven, I'd like to see prosecutions. Unfortunately, a more likely explanation is paranoia coupled with incompetence.

Third, one might surmise that, for some reason, the federal agents at the Department of Fatherland Security decided that it wasn't their place to second guess the lists presented by the state planners. Isn't that their job, though? I mean, didn't a red flag go up when Washington State listed twice as many monuments as the District of Columbia? Shouldn't they be reviewing these issues, educating state officials, setting priorities, and providing guidance in these areas? Isn't that their level of expertise? Finally, who in Congress is going to hold hearings on this debacle and fix this mess? No one...because Congress is often more ignorant that the people they oversee. Remember, the Internet is made up of tubes.

A good obit for Syd Barrett.

The last U.S.-backed warlord in Somalia gives into the fundamentalist regime there. So, let's look at the military record of the Bush administration. Afghanistan? Mixed - the Taliban was defeated, but still exists as an insurgent group, the capital is the only area that the President truly runs, warlords are still rampant, and bin Laden is still free. Iraq? Mixed - Hussein was overthrown and captured, but an insurgency is rampant, civil war has taken hold, the government only exists under heavy guard in the green zone, and the infrastructure is still a mess (worse, in fact, than before we got there). Somalia? Complete failure. Iran? Too early to tell, but we have appropriated large sums of money for opposition groups which is bound to lead to great enmity towards us in the region furthering the recruitment by terrorist groups.

In other words, the Cheney/Bush regime has proved as (in)effective at military matters as they are at economic matters. They have been effective at propaganda and fear mongering and seizing power for the presidency. As we approach the elections in November expect a new military campaign even while we bring troops home from Iraq and also while terror alerts start popping up every week.


I can't be the only person who thinks "bad drag queen" when I see recent images of Starr Jones. Girl, get some help with the make up and the eyebrows. Or, gain some weight. Or both. What worked for you (if it ever did) when you were heavier certainly does not work now.

/catty remarks...maybe

In Virginia, a poor and depressed woman who could neither afford an abortion nor find a place to get one, shot herself in the stomach and is now being charged with attempting to "abort" her own child.

If you didn't see John Dean discussing his new book on Keith Olbermann's program the other night, then Raw Story has the video and a rough transcript. It was great and the book should be a good read. Snip:
It's a remarkable analysis of the authoritarian personality. Both those who are inclined to follow leaders and those who jump in front and want to be the leaders. It was not the opinion of social scientists. It was information they drew by questioning large numbers of people -- hundreds of thousands of people -- in anonymous testing where [the subjects] conceded their innermost feelings and reactions to things. And it came out that most of these people were pre-qualified to be conservatives and this, did indeed, fit with the authoritarian personality.
Now, Dean isn't saying that all Conservatives are like this. In fact, later on he explains that the scientists think that about 23% of the population is like this and that includes a small number of leftists authoritarians. The rest of us are a tad more sane.

The RIAA has sued over 20,000 music fans for file sharing, who have on average paid a $3,750 settlement. That's over $75,000,000. Has any money collected from your lawsuits gone to pay actual artists? Where's all that money going?

More awkward questions for the RIAA here.

Heatsink is a browser for adult entertainment seekers. It encrypts images and tries to hide the identity of the user and the content she is surfing. TechCrunch has the lowdown.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


The agent who led the CIA unit that was pursuing bin Laden says that disbanding the unit was a terrible mistake. Of course, he's presuming that the goal of Bush's foreign policy is to be successful in the war on foreign terrorism.

Speaking of which, Bruce Schneier reported on this analysis which says that the NSA mass surveillance is doomed to be ineffective.
No matter how sophisticated and super-duper are NSA's methods for identifying terrorists, no matter how big and fast are NSA's computers, NSA's accuracy rate will never be 100% and their misidentification rate will never be 0%. That fact, plus the extremely low base-rate for terrorists, means it is logically impossible for mass surveillance to be an effective way to find terrorists.
Wired Magazine has an article in it's latest issue on media and it's focus on producing "hits" as in "hit records" or "hit television shows". The article notes that the buying public is tending to move away from "hits". The article includes an observation that I have made many times as well:
Technology also gave consumers a new way to buy music. Rather than having to purchase an entire album to get a couple of good tracks, they can buy songs à la carte for 99 cents each. The online music industry is primarily a singles business, which depresses album sales further.
The article is a good one and not just because of the bit above. It's well worth a full read through as is the one on the analysis of the NSA mass monitoring programs.

Residents downloads

The Residents have launched their own download store for rare material. Following in the model of Jane Siberry, payments are on the honor system. Pay them if you download. Neither artist earns a lot of money and both are worthy.

Syd Barret, RIP

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Yes, the phrase is a cliche, of course, but so was the tale of Syd's psychological problems being caused by psychoactive drugs. It was used as a cautionary morality tale and that's unfortunate for it failed to highlight the problems of mental disorders and how we care (or more often, do not care) for those who suffer from them.

Million Miles Away and Fluxblog both have fitting download tributes. WFMU's Beware of the Blog also has a nice offering.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday Random Ten

I haven't done this in a while. I like it so I'm reviving it today. First random ten songs picked out by the mp3 player this morning:

1) Neil Young - Tonight's the Night, part 1
2) Darrell Banks - Open the Door To Your Heart
3) Sivuca - Minha Saudade
4) Roger Roger - Bianca Blanca
5) blo_up - Burning
6) Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter - Winter Hunter
7) Boris Badenough - Hey Rockey
8) Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66 - Norwegian Wood
9) The Meters - Oh, Calcutta
10) Elisabeth Waldo - On The High Plateau


Violet Blue nails the recent troubles between Second Life and Robert Scoble. When I read Scoble's blog report of the incident, my first thought was that his son was being monitored by his father (not to mention a room full of attendees). Um, isn't that the ideal? Parents have the right to consent to allow their children to do all sorts of things, provided that the child is in no serious danger, all precautions are taken to minimize risk, and the actions are properly supervised. Violet nails the hysteria surrounding MySpace well in her post. I would also ask, is visiting Second Life while Dad is monitoring your time more dangerous than letting your kid, say, take flying lessons or swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco? Anyhow, go read Violet's post.

Schneier points out that Canada has a Privacy Commissioner. From the Commissioner's 2001 - 2002 report:

A popular response is: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

By that reasoning, of course, we shouldn't mind if the police were free to come into our homes at any time just to look around, if all our telephone conversations were monitored, if all our mail were read, if all the protections developed over centuries were swept away. It's only a difference of degree from the intrusions already being implemented or considered.

The truth is that we all do have something to hide, not because it's criminal or even shameful, but simply because it's private. We carefully calibrate what we reveal about ourselves to others. Most of us are only willing to have a few things known about us by a stranger, more by an acquaintance, and the most by a very close friend or a romantic partner. The right not to be known against our will - indeed, the right to be anonymous except when we choose to identify ourselves - is at the very core of human dignity, autonomy and freedom.

If we allow the state to sweep away the normal walls of privacy that protect the details of our lives, we will consign ourselves psychologically to living in a fishbowl. Even if we suffered no other specific harm as a result, that alone would profoundly change how we feel. Anyone who has lived in a totalitarian society can attest that what often felt most oppressive was precisely the lack of privacy.

But there also will be tangible, specific harm.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


The Seattle Times this morning: N Korea test fires 6 missiles despite warning

My reply: Millions of Americans test fire bottle rockets, some of which fly longer than N Korean missiles.

/self amusement


North Korea launched it's expected missile test. Note the line about no one seriously suggesting that this was a threat to the U.S. because you'll hear politicians suggest it in coming weeks as they cynically use this for personal gains in the coming elections.

The CIA has closed the task force it had built that focused on the capturing or killing of Bin Laden. A victim of it's own success, I'm sure.

The growth of sushi bars are possibly forcing the extinction of tuna. In truth, over fishing of the world's oceans is a major crisis that most people ignore. More people are eating seafood than ever before. The fishing industry is using more efficient methods that have a devastating effect on the world. David Suzuki has been writing and lecturing about this for years.

Murray Waas' latest column: Bush directed Cheney to disclose classified information to defend his administration, however he did not direct anyone to disclose Valerie Plame's identity. So, where does that leave the argument that the President has a right to declassify information?

Fake doctors in South Africa performing circumcisions and killing people. Note the phrase, "winter circumcision season". Yikes! It's like a hunting or harvesting thing.

The image above features the latest in geek fetish wear: a USB enabled bra.

Monday, July 03, 2006


I haven't written about cooking in a while. The co-signer is out of town this weekend, so I was left to my own devices yesterday. I decided to treat myself to a decent dinner. All too often I hear friends tell me that they don't like to cook "just for myself" or "for only one person". To my mind, this sentiment is bunk. Think of how many selfish (and I use that in a non-judgemental manner) things we do throughout a day/week/month/year. Think of that new power drill you got because it goes to eleven. Or how about the new shoes you threw down on. Or that latte you got on the way into the office (OK, for some, I realize, the latte was essential).

The point being is that we do things "just for myself" all of the time. Why not make a healthy, good tasting meal a part of that ritual? Sure, it takes time, but you really owe it to yourself to treat yourself right. That's how we justify the other habits such as the ones mentioned above - if others aren't always treating us right, then we should do it because we deserve it. What better way to show your love for yourself than to take the time to make and enjoy a good meal?

Yesterday I looked over items in the house to see what I may want over the next three days then ran to the market. I had decided on fish for dinner last night. It was a hot day and cooking on the grill seemed like a good idea. Some of the fish at the market didn't look very good. If the fish doesn't look right, then I won't buy it. I ended up getting some wild caught king salmon. The co-signer and I had salmon the previous weekend, but I decided that I'd prepare it differently. Last weekend, I marinated the salmon in sake, then grilled it with a homemade teriyaki sauce. This week, I marinated the fish in a sauce using soy sauce, sesame and olive oils, sorghum, Dijon mustard, garlic, rosemary, and lime juice. Yum - to both methods.

The corn looked good at the market, so I grabbed an ear and roasted that on the grill as well. I also roasted some asparagus spears that we needed to use up and topped them with a little balsamic drizzle (reduced balsamic vinegar).

While I was getting carried away, I also made some deviled eggs. The filling had mustard, mayonnaise, a dash of Brother Bru Bru's hot sauce, worcester sauce, finely minced roasted bell peppers, and finely minced fresh basil. I topped them with a sprinkling of smokey paprika. I've got some of them left over for tonight.

For dessert I finished off the last of a cherry clafouti that I made last week. It was a simple recipe to make and it tasted very good. For the custard, I added both vanilla extract and Amaretto.

Tonight's dinner will be artichoke hearts and pasta in a creamy sauce. The sauce is made creamy using ricotta and cottages cheeses. It may sound a little odd, but it's quite tasty and low fat and it's easy to throw together. The co-signer gave it two thumbs up the last time I made it.

Tomorrow's dinner is up in the air. I've been invited to a couple of parties. One of them is a potluck. If I make it to that party, then dinner will be whatever I can forage from the table. I'll probably make a salad if I decide I can make it.


I see the wingnuts are all up in arms over the alleged security risk of publishing info about Rumsfeld and Cheney's summer homes in the travel section of the NY Times. Some have gone so far as to publish the names and addresses of the Times photographers. How did they get that info? How about they took the time to Google, which is what David Weigel of Reason magazine did with Cheney and Rumsfeld and it took him all of "20 seconds" to come up with maps and pictures. Reason published an issue years ago that featured a picture of each subscriber's home on the cover. So much for privacy. Some wingnuts are apparently using the word "treasonous" regarding the Times story and also suggesting it was in retaliation for the Administration's protests regarding the SWIFT articles (tracing monetary transactions in order to find terrorists). Articles such as the one on Cheney's and Rumsfeld's homes take weeks of planning to set up and are done with the aid of the staff of these people and the knowledge of the parties involved. The timing was coincidental. Besides, as an article that the Times did on the Clinton's home a few years back showed, Cheney and Rumsfeld have a LOT of Secret Service assistance for security. I'll bet that those Times photographers have none of that.

So, what to make of this? The wingnuts are not just living up to the "nuts" portion of their title. They are also changing the subject and hoping to whip up patriotic fervor in both their base as well as sane people. Like the flag burning amendment, there's nothing to this story. Some of the wingnuts have gone on to advocate following the reporter's children and other horrifying suggestions. Cheney and Rumsfeld should step forward and calm these idiots down, but they won't. They are more interested in politics than the safety of Americans - even American children - and they've proven that time and again through their decisions.

I'm sure the wingnuts will be going after the New York Post next since they published the name of a website that the Pentagon is monitoring for it's ties to terrorists.

The Washington Post has an article on farm subsidies and how the system is broken. Willie Nelson could have explained it to them years ago as he's been pointing to the vanishing family farmer for decades. The article doesn't mention that, though. It talks about wealthy family farms for the most part and doesn't even suggest that there should be means testing on such subsidies if they are offered at all. It also doesn't even go near industrial farming by corporations such as Archer Daniel Midlands which take the lion's share of such windfalls. That would have been a useful focus because only companies of that size can protect such issues within Congress.

Speaking of farming and buying Congress, Alexander Cockburn has a good column online suggesting that if the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation really wanted to help the people of the African continent, then they would buy off Congress and get rid of the cotton subsidies that corporations receive in the U.S. Seems reasonable since it would cost the foundation less and benefit the poor people more.

Hacker attacks are increasing at the Pentagon. The agency, whose new security paradigms were due to be in place last year, now suggests that it won't begin implementing the security measures until 2012 and won't be done until 2018. During that time, their equipment will continue to fall behind in keeping it safe from attack and the attacks will be increasingly sophisticated. Thank goodness the Administration and the Congress are overseeing this venture to protect our national secrets.

Speaking of Congress, if you haven't read Ted Stevens' (R-Alaska) words on how the Internet functions made during the net neutrality bill debate last week, then you owe yourself a good laugh. A snippet of them:
They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
If, after reading that, your Internet hasn't sprung a leak, check out the fine offerings from PCL Linkdump. The compilations of tunes that they are offering (9 of them!) are extraordinary in the range of material, the goofy kitsch, and the just plain wacky.