Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Amnesty International Must Have Hit on some Truth

The big Dick replies first, then W, himself - quick to dismiss the report from Amnesty International. If the AI report is getting such play in the W, Rove and Co, they must have struck a nerve. It wouldn't require a response if nothing was amiss.

I'm not as upset about this quick denial as others. Mainly, I am not surprised at all. This is typical behavior for W, Rove and co and I am getting quite used to it.

Of course the folks reporting the atrocities are scathing toward the administration, and , as W said "hate America." If you were tortured for no reason and held without any kind of due process simply becuase your last name was arabic, don't you think you would present your story in a pissed off manner?

Here's a slice from the actual report, which you can read and assess for yourself should you be determined:

Hundreds of detainees continued to be held without charge or trial at the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Thousands of people were detained during US military and security operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and routinely denied access to their families and lawyers.

Military investigations were initiated or conducted into allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by US personnel in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and into reports of deaths in custody and ill-treatment by US forces elsewhere in Iraq, and in Afghanistan and Guantánamo. Evidence came to light that the US administration had sanctioned interrogation techniques that violated the UN Convention against Torture. Pre-trial military commission hearings opened in Guantánamo but were suspended pending a US court ruling.

Weekend Windsurfing Report

Finally got on the water after trying on Saturday with no luck. Sunday was a flukie day with up and down winds for about 45 mins before the wind kicked over and gave me a solid hour of sailing on the 5.4 and the 85 liter board. Big fin to go with the flood tide kept me up wind fairly well. Trouble was that there was not much wind further up against the flood.

Monday was a nice day, but late. Lots of cook out fragrences wafting about. Didn't get on the water until 4:15 and that turned out to be for the better. Still a big sail and big fin day, but the wind was solid for the full hour and got increasingly better over time. I sailed for about an hour and fifteen minutes to make it back home from the family dinner - ribs, corn on the cob, potatos, etc..nice way to round out the three day weekend.

The water on both days was mainly flat, a little choppy on the inside, but super glassy on the outside due to the flood. That's the usual set up. No waves, but the crystal clear, bright skies make for a wonderful day on the water.

Monday, May 30, 2005

From the Hands of Ethan Allen

Published originally in 1779:
Induced by a sense of duty to my country, and by the application of many of my worthy friends, some of whom are of the first characters, I have concluded to publish the following narrative of the extraordinary scenes of my captivity, and the discoveries which I made in the course of the same, of the cruel and relentless disposition and behavior of the enemy, towards the prisoners in their power; from which the state politician, and every gradation of character among the people, to the worthy tiller of the soil, may deduce such inferences as they shall think proper to carry into practice. Some men are appointed into office, in these States, who read the history of the cruelties of this war with the same careless indifferency, as they do the pages of the Roman history; nay, some are preferred to places of trust and profit by the tory influence. The instances are (I hope) but rare; and it stands to all freemen in hand, to prevent their futhre influence, which, of all other things, would be the most baneful to the liberties and happiness of this country; and so far as such influences takes place, robs us of the victory we have obtained, at the expense of so much blood and treasure.
From the introduction to The Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen

Perpendicular to the Cement

Danica Patrick is awesome!


INDIANAPOLIS — Danica Patrick didn't win the Indianapolis 500 Sunday but, gosh, as she would say, she sure dominated it.

Just as she had dominated nearly a month's worth of practice as an Indy rookie. Just as she had stolen the show with a near miss on pole-qualifying day.

This time, though, everything was for real. This wasn't practice. This wasn't four laps of qualifying, with nobody else on the track.

This was the race, 500 miles, 200 laps around the old 2 1/2 -mile brickyard, where for years, men were men and women weren't welcome. This time, she was out there with 32 other cars, before more than 300,000 fans.

And at one stage late in the race, as she led — only one woman had ever led before, Patrick, earlier in the race — after having battled back from 16th place, she had nearly every one of them standing, cheering, waving, urging her on to what would have been the most revolutionary victory in American sports history.

As TV star David Letterman, one of her team's co-owners, pointed out, "She had the thing perpendicular to the cement and still had a chance to win."

Friday, May 27, 2005

I'll Leave the Light On For Ya!

I have promised my spouse that I would do less blogging and more talking over this weekend. It will have to suffice for folks to comment at will, as I'll leave the light on for ya - as Robert Fulghum would say, play nice, hold hands, and stick together.

I leave you with my original post about Memorial Day I called TAPS.
Here's the first two paragraphs as a teaser...click away for more:

Out on my AM run, I got to thinking, here we are, just over two weeks away from the Memorial Day Weekend. In my high school days, I lived in a town that actually had a parade - still does I'm sure - to mark the occasion. I played taps as the flag was lowered to half staff (here's a link for those of you unfamiliar with the tune).

Then, I was a hard core trumpet player. I practiced every day and my chops were good enough to get me to the double "c" in the upper register. I played in the symphonic band, the jazz/big band, in the pit orchestra for the various yearly
musicals, and the marching band...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Who is more "Right?"

Left. Right. These terms are all wrong. To use polarizing terminology to describe the political landscape in America is really not an appropriate paradigm. I like to think of the beast as more like an amorphous blob with many magnetic points strewn about the blob as it shifts and moves through time. In between the points is the largely apathetic and acquiescent-by-their-silence middle.

I can see it now, Karl Rove sitting around his "war" room strategizing...

"Hey, let's polarize the people! That way it will be dramatically easier to label extremists as Liberal, Commie, Treasonous, Intellectual Non-Patriots so that we can demonize them, dehumanize them and thus, deflate their position. This will be great. Let's call this campaign, 'Castration by castigation!' Wahoo! Power up the Reichwing machine and let's do it. Phone up the survey experts and use our crack team of questionaire designers to influence elections. Then, we will unleash our reichwing fairies in the blogisphere and other media outlets (a la Gannon/Guckert) to help us leverage this polarization to keep us in power so we don't ever need "Minority" and Republic protection devices like the filibuster. Yippie Kai Yeah!"

The question then becomes, not who is more "Right," but who is actually correct? The Left, or the Right? You decide. See prior post from yesterday for ideas about the truth, perception and trust.

Unk Unks

The real disturbing thing about the whole situation being perpetrated by our fair government about the globe are the things that we don't know that we don't know: otherwise known as the Unknown Unknowns, Unk Unks for short.

If you think what is being reported in the news is troubling, try this exercise:
Close your eyes for a moment, open up your brain for a bit, and spin your wheels thinking about what might it be that they are not sharing? Given what you know and have been experiencing to be true, what might those Unk Unks really look like? Go farther with your imagination than you have ever gone before...

...Whew...okay, wrap it up and open your eyes. That was scary, no?

The song going through my head at the point in my run when I was dreaming up this little exercise was a Beatles tune..."I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in, stops my mind from wondering..." (and I might add, this was rather coincidential given that this is the 40th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Peppers).

The Trouble With the Pledge

The kids at the middle school are at it again. I was on my AM run and passed by the local public school. On the grounds were the teachers and children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

The problem is not necessarily the God part of it. The thing that troubled me was the lack of conviction in their voices. Droning on they recite something for the sake of getting done with it. I get the impression that they really are not believing what they are saying, sort of like when I was asked to say 10 Hail Mary's for swearing at my sister after confession.

Update (8:50PM): Lady Liberty brings up a good comment to this post. I thought I would hot link to my prior post about the Pledge for those who don't like to scroll.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

To Tell You The Truth

"Those who know, don't say. Those who say, don't know."
While truth is a slave to perception, and trust takes a lifetime to build and a moment to break, the human being relies on retrospective sensemaking to decipher what is real and then to act (See Karl Weick's work for details on sensemaking).

When those who, in fact, actually do know the truth keep it shrouded in a code of secrecy and silence, and it is kept isolated in remote pens (Guantanamo), it is difficult to decipher the real from the fabrication. Nothing is stopping people from believing what they do based on the information (reported, sifted, leaked, or gotten via the FOIA) received and filtered by their own experience. Actions reflect beliefs. Will Newsweek reinstate their article in light of this current report?


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An FBI agent wrote in a 2002 document made public on Wednesday that a detainee held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had accused American jailers there of flushing the Koran down a toilet...

The newly released document, dated Aug. 1, 2002, contained a summary of statements made days earlier by a detainee, whose name was redacted, in two interviews with an FBI special agent, whose name also was withheld, at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects.

The American Civil Liberties Union released the memo and a series of other FBI documents it obtained from the government under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Personally, he has nothing against the United States. The guards in the detention facility do not treat him well. Their behavior is bad. About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Koran in the toilet," the FBI agent wrote.

"The guards dance around when the detainees are trying to pray. The guards still do these things," the FBI agent wrote.

The Pentagon stated last week it had received "no credible and specific allegations" that U.S. personnel at Guantanamo had put a Koran in the toilet.

...In another document, written in April 2003, an FBI agent related a detainee's account of an incident involving a female U.S. interrogator.

"While the guards held him, she removed her blouse, embraced the detainee from behind and put her hand on his genitals. The interrogator was on her menstrual period and she wiped blood from her body on his face and head," the memo stated.

A similar incident was described in a recent book written by a former Guantanamo interrogator.

End slice:

Whom do you believe? These reports seem to be too outlandish to have been made up. In fact, given the pictures out of Iraq, they apear to be quite plausable.

In the end, I don't really think it matters whether the book was flushed. The ideas written therein will not be harmed. Sure the whole thing is disrespectful, but the second account, if true, really is disturbing...and what makes the whole thing really reprehensible is that we don't know how many "prisoners" are being held with no connection to any illegal activity whatsoever.

Sure, I should trust my government. When W, stood up and proclaimed that there were WMD in Iraq, unequivocally. I said, "well, I suppose it is time to place some faith in the President and trust he is operating with more information than me."

In the long run, my trust was not warranted, earned, nor kept, thereby making it all the more challenging to trust the W, Rove and Co at all. There in lies the rub.

Because people make decisions to act based on their perceptions of the truth as understood through the filter of their past experiences, we should not be surprised at any reaction to this news. We should expect more of the same, if not an escalation.

Unfortunately, I'm still waiting, with a large portion of the world, for something trustworthy to spring forth from this Administration. Instead things appear to be getting worse.

The Difference between Freedom and Liberty

I've noticed a large rehtorical emphasis, lately, on the words "freedom" and "liberty." Usually in the same praragraph sprinkeled with words referencing the Patriot Act or the fact that "those liberals" don't support either. I looked up the words, but there has to be a better differentiation than the one offered at dictionary dot com.

Here's a couple of questions:
  1. Can anyone clearly differentiate the two words?
  2. Is there more or less freedom and liberty as there was 6 years ago?

In 1928, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in his dissenting opinion in the wiretapping case Olmstead v. United States (1928): “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Laura Contradicts W, Rove and Co.

You go girl! This just in from Laura Bush's trek round the horn and Israel.


In five days, she took a stand on another nation's election dispute, walked into the heart of one of the world's most heated conflicts and contradicted the White House...

..."They want the United States to push, actually, to make sure there is a withdrawal from the Gaza this summer, but also that the roadmap is followed," she said. "We need to seize this opportunity to move as quickly as we can possibly move to get this peace."

...Mrs. Bush's popularity is nearly double her husband's in the United States, showing that Americans see the Mrs. as separate from the man. But some in the Middle East showed they consider her fair game to criticize for the policies of her husband...

End slice:

The bar is low and there is a lot of improvment needed. We welcome all critics of the current administration. Particularly those sharing the same air as W.

When is the Majority Not a Majority?

When the Minority Representatives answer to five million more people than the "Majority" reps.

I Pledge Allegiance

Faith-based folks will be happy to know that the Pledge of Allegiance is still being said in the Public Middle School a half block from our house. I was on my run this AM and passed by the school at the tail end, warming down. There was a flock of children in the courtyard with a teacher holding up the flag, all reciting the Pledge. As I slowed to my walk, I heard with my own two ears the familiar phrase...
...One Nation
Under God
With Liberty

And Justice
For All
Then I got to thinking, as I have myself spoken these words as a child and as an adult. Just wondering if some people may be getting the short end of the stick. What happened to the "Liberty and Justice for All" part of this pledge?

It's Okay to be Gay...and Marriage is good for Gays too

If it's good for the heteros, it's got to be fabulous for the gays! I got this link from Rock City. I suppose that they reichwing is going to scoff at the APA as just a bunch of liberal, left leaning academics that are part of the vast left-wing conspiracy for this, but if you can't trust the APA, who can you trust?

It's a short article, so here's the whole thing:

ATLANTA - Representatives of the nation's top psychiatric group approved a statement Sunday urging legal recognition of gay marriage. If approved by the association's directors in July, the measure would make the American Psychiatric Association the first major medical group to take such a stance.

The statement supports same-sex marriage "in the interest of maintaining and promoting mental health." It follows a similar measure by the American Psychological Association last year, little more than three decades after that group removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

The psychiatric association's statement, approved by voice vote on the first day of its weeklong annual meeting in Atlanta, cites the "positive influence of a stable, adult partnership on the health of all family members."

The resolution recognizes "that gay men and lesbians are full human beings who should be afforded the same human and civil rights," said Margery Sved, a Raleigh, N.C., psychiatrist and member of the assembly's committee on gay and lesbian issues.

The document clarifies that the association is addressing same-sex civil marriage, not religious marriages. It takes no position on any religion's views on marriage. Massachusetts is the only state that allows same-sex marriage. Eighteen states have passed constitutional amendments outlawing same-sex marriage. ____

On The Net: American Psychiatric Association

This is Why I Love America

Okay, so just because practicing yoga in the buff is NOT for me, hey, if you're up for it, they are doing it in San Francisco. At least you don't have to spend a great deal of cash on gear.


Some fitness fads require sporty gear and equipment, but the practice of yoga requires only the bare essentials: loose clothes, a mat and time to do the exercises. The latest trend in yoga requires even less. We're not talking about aqua yoga, done in a pool, or disco yoga, set to dance tunes, or "boga," boxing yoga, done with gloves.

No, a San Francisco community center is offering naked yoga, where bare essentials means just that: Men and women are completely nude during the 90- minute class.

This is not the invention of "naked yoga guy" George Monty Davis, who made headlines last year for (legally) striking naked yoga poses at Fisherman's Wharf, nor a "hot nude yoga" class for gay men, popular in Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles, or in any way connected to Internet-sold videos of voluptuous women doing naked yoga on wave-washed beaches with horses galloping by.

No, the new naked yoga class on Sunday mornings at the One Taste Urban Retreat Center on Folsom Street is meant to be transforming, not titillating. That's a concept that American culture, with its taboos on nudity, might find difficult to grasp. The center, which opened 10 months ago, was founded by Nicole Daedone, also a co-founder of 111 Minna Gallery. It offers dance classes and massage, has a small cafe and an art gallery, and hosts various events.

End slice:

After sweating it up with your naked friends, do you have to put your clothes to get yourself a nice hot foamy latte?

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Underlying Humor of the Reichwing Argument

In light of my recent good fortune of being the target of some reichwinger commentary, I thought it would be good to repost the statement I made a while back (February) regarding the underlying humor of the reichwing argument. I generally like to parry back and forth when points are being made, but when people start using slander as well as use questions of the "when did you stop beating your wife" variety, I generally don't respond (e.g. questioning the number of hits in my counter seems both baseless and pointless as an argument). If that makes someone mad or dissapoints another, as other bloggers have said, no one is stopping you from not clicking here.

From my post in february:

Phase 1 - W, Rove and Co, make some subversive move, which on occasion could be construed as highly unethical at best, and at worst, punishable by time in prison (e.g. WMD ploy to invade Iraq, or if you like, the awarding of multibillion dollar contracts via unsolicited bids to Halliburton, or the use of shill "reporters" to advance particular bigoted or charged agenda items...the list goes on, for example the leaking of the CIA agent's name and subsequent murder of that individual for having her cover blown).

Phase 2 - Someone, objective or not, finds out the truth (say like, the missing splotch in W's service record and shirking of responsibility during his time in the National Guard) and say's "hey, wait a minute."

Phase 3 - Someone on the reichwing says - "Hey, you are unpatriotic for saying that (whatever the person said in phase 2). "

Phase 4 - Completing the circle of this twisting swirl down the toilet bowl, the reichside flagellates said Phase 2 commentator on various issues, of but not pertaining to the subject at hand, and in particular uses rhetorical biblical references to point out that this person is "Godless" or a heathen and therefore some kind of terrorist (or communist, or socialist, or sympathizer, or some other supposedly denigrating term). The inference is then left to the reader to assume which one is correct, but the malicious slandering of people of opposing viewpoints hangs like death over a morgue. The stink is too difficult to remove.

There in lies the humor - of the tragicomic sort- read through the morass and tear it down to the base elements and you find, one side pointing out faults, the other not accepting blame nor the responsiblity, and then projecting their problems onto the messenger. It's as if they have effectively woven a biblical quilt over their eyes and can't see their own faults. Moreover, they are in a desperate frenzy to blame anyone but themselves for the trouble they have sewn us into...and it is the contrarians' fault that our country is in its current state.

Unrequited, in the end, there is satisfaction for no one. The country is still in the same (or worse) mess we were in before voices were raised with the requisite referencing of the First Amendment. No one accepts blame, and what is worse, no one is held accountable. And all sides move further apart. Meanwhile the capitalist pigs in charge lie in their own shit, even while many try to put lipstick on one another.

Viagra and Sex Offenders

Okay, when I read this in the local rag, I thought it had to be some kind of joke. Sex offenders having their viagra fix subsidiezed by tax payer bucks? Zoiks. There has to be an award for the most ironic public policy discrepency and this would get it.


Federal officials are scrambling to find a way to plug a legal loophole that allows convicted rapists and other high-risk sex offenders to receive erectile-dysfunction drugs paid for by Medicaid.

The issue was revealed Sunday by the New York state comptroller's office, which said audits covering the period of January 2000 to March 2005 found 198 sex offenders in New York received Medicaid-reimbursed Viagra after their convictions. Their crimes included offenses against children as young as 2 years old, Comptroller Alan Hevesi said.

I agree with Mr. Tillman

No doubt, lots of folks will be blogging about this one. If my one of my sons were KIA by friendly fire or not, i would want to know the unvarnished truth and those responsible held accountable. The notion that a "cover up" is better than the truth is one of those SNAFU scenarios that has become commonplace with and thereby default, acceptable. Frankly, I have to agree with Mr. Tillman on this matter.


"Pat had high ideals about the country; that's why he did what he did," Mary Tillman said in her first lengthy interview since her son's death. "The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting."

Would Calvin Approve this Speech?

I have a friend that works at the good college called Calvin. He sent along this sentiment about the W, road show:
Bush came and went on Saturday and generated a lot of heat, and a bit less light over the past 4 weeks as the college prepared for the visit. Faculty and staff posted a respectful letter of dissent in the local newspaper, a few appeared on some talk shows expressing dissent, but the majority of students and supporters of the college were thrilled.

It was a good exercise for the college to go through overall. I didn't meet him, but one of my students was selected as the Presidential Service Award recipient so she got to meet him out on the tarmac and ride back to commencement in the motorcade with other local dignitaries. His speech was focused on community service, with a few comments about Calvin thrown in - very few politics other than a heavy emphasis on "freedom" and "liberty."

Incidentially, here's a quote from the edictorial advanced by one third of the whole of Calvin's faculty:

"As Christians we are called to be peacemakers, and to initiate war only as a last resort. We believe your administration has launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq." -- An open letter to President George W. Bush from concerned faculty, staff and emeriti of Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Now, I read through W's speech. Given that I was not there to hear the inflections and tone of the talk, it is difficult to fully comprehend some things. But, what I did find was interesting. He spent a good deal of effort exponding on a Frenchman's impressions of early America as an ideal. Yet, for me, some questions remain.

Slice from W's speechifying:

Thanks for having me. I was excited to comeback to Calvin, and I was just telling Laura the other night about what fun it would be to come to Calvin College. I said, you know, Laura, I love being around so many young folks. You know, it gives me a chance to re-live my glory days in academia. (Laughter.) She said, George, that’s not exactly how I would describe your college experience. (Laughter.) She also said one other thing I think the graduates will appreciate hearing, a good piece of advice. She said, the folks here are here to get their diploma, not to hear from an old guy go on too long. (Laughter.) So with that sage advice, here goes....

...The book is called "Democracy in America," and in it this young Frenchman said that the secret to America’s success was our talent for bringing people together for the common good. De Tocqueville wrote that tyrants maintained their power by "isolating" their citizens -- and that Americans guaranteed their freedom by their remarkable ability to band together without any direction from government. The America he described offered the world something it had never seen before: a working model of a thriving democracy where opportunity was unbounded, where virtue was strong, and where citizens took responsibility for their neighbors.

Tocqueville’s account is not just the observations of one man -- it is the story of our founding. It is not just a description of America at a point in time -- it is an agenda for our time. Our Founders rejected both a radical individualism that makes no room for others, and the dreary collectivism that crushes the individual. They gave us instead a society where individual freedom is anchored in communities. And in this hopeful new century, we have a great goal: to renew this spirit of community and thereby renew the character and compassion of our nation.

First, we must understand that the character of our citizens is essential to society. In a free and compassionate society, the public good depends on private character. That character is formed and shaped in institutions like family, faith, and the many civil and -- social and civic organizations, from the Boy Scouts to the local Rotary Clubs. The future success of our nation depends on our ability to understand the difference between right and wrong and to have the strength of character to make the right choices. Government cannot create character, but it can and should respect and support the institutions that do.

Second, we must understand the importance of keeping power close to the people. Local people know local problems, they know the names and faces of their neighbors. The heart and soul of America is in our local communities; it is in the citizen school boards that determine how our children are educated; it’s in city councils and state legislators that reflect the unique needs and priorities of the people they serve; it’s in the volunteer groups that transform towns and cities into caring communities and neighborhoods. In the years to come, I hope that you’ll consider joining these associations or serving in government -- because when you come together to serve a cause greater than yourself, you will energize your communities and help build a more just and compassionate America.

Finally, we must understand that it is by becoming active in our communities that we move beyond our narrow interests. In today’s complex world, there are a lot of things that pull us apart. We need to support and encourage the institutions and pursuits that bring us together. And we learn how to come together by participating in our churches and temples and mosques and synagogues; in civil rights associations; in our PTAs and Jaycees; in our gardening and book clubs, interest groups and chambers of commerce; in our service groups -- from soup kitchens to homeless shelters.
Question 1) if "tyrants maintained their power by "isolating" their citizens," do we feel united or divided by the current administration?

Question 2) What do the speech writers mean when they say, " citizens took responsibility for their neighbors?"

Question 3) It seems as though there is a Janusian concept operating within the text. What exactly is the meaning behind the phrase, "individualism that makes no room for others, and the dreary collectivism that crushes the individual?"

Question 4) Do groups like Rotary and Boy scouts promote either one of the above (in question 3) or some happy medium?

Question 5) Given that "the future success of our nation depends on our ability to understand the difference between right and wrong and to have the strength of character to make the right choices." Are definitions of what is right and wrong open to interpretation, or is there only one answer to the question, "what is the right choice?"

Question 6) If the "government cannot create character," does this mean that it is devoid of character, and if so, why does he call us to service in government in the following pragraph?

Question 7) Coming full circle back to Question 1 - If "in today’s complex world, there are a lot of things that pull us apart," do you feel more united or divided by the current administration?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Weekend Windsurfing Report

Two days in a row - haven't had that in a while, and the winds cooperated today. Out on the 4.7 (just like goldilocks, right on). On the 85 liter board with the small wave fin. Two hours till I couldn't hold on any longer. Smiles all around the beach.

Yesterday was rather flukie. Up and down winds with big holes in it. Had the 5.4 up and the big fin. All around, people were grumpy about the conditions. Started flooding early too.

All in all, this was a good weekend in my book. Sun is shining and lots of happy people out and about.

Nuclear Option

These boys need to learn that they are playing with fire.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Problems for Today, not Solutions for Tomorrow's Potential Problems

Just where is our president's head? The man is truly concerned about things of little consequence. Perhaps he has watched one to many episodes of Lucas' (or not enough) Star Wars.

What about homelessness - poverty - hunger - schools falling down around the children - things we can fix today, and tomorrow, going forward into the future?

Why does he continually use issues that may or may not be (can you predict the future?) to obfuscate about truly troubling situations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, hooded prisoners naked and tortured?

These are all things that he has the power to fix, today, if not tomorrow. How about stepping in to stop the congressional irresponsible behavior wasting taxpayer dollars arguing about filibusters when they should be working on fixing the growing deficits and other more troubling issues like the gradual erosion of personal liberty across the board?

Why doesn't he simply replace some of the more contentious judicial nomanies in favor of others that wouldn't require such steadfast resistance? Afterall, these folks were blocked last term. Isn't that a hint that perhaps he needs to choose other folks. That would get congress moving forward as opposed to being in stalled mode.

What about rising gasoline prices and the dependence on foreign oil sources? Why doesn't he pitch a new initiave to mitigate our dependence on fosil fuels in favor of clean and green energy? This could be something to get behind now, today, and it would create new jobs in a whole new class of occupations. Our Nation could lead again - instead we are getting beat to the punch by Japan and other countries more invested in invention of solar technologies. Like JFK starting the Peace Corps on the steps of the University of Michigan Union building, Bush could make his mark in a positive way by starting the race to clean and grean energy solitions - rather than a race to Mars or the Moon - this would have real, dramatic and lasting postive affects on a whole range of environmental issues.

This list gets longer as I type and think. No doubt bloggers out there have other problems that need addressing and have concrete suggestions on how we could begin fixing them. Place them in the comments below and we shall see what creative solutions appear.

I say yuck. Time to trade up - let's vote the bastards out...all of them. This could be a find and replace - that is - regardless of party affiliation, let's dump the whole lot of spoiled politicians (the rich-political-"elite") and swap them out for people who actually get some work done as demonstrated by their work and results records.

Rather than real problem solving, and tangible results to real troubling situations, we get more of the same with W, Rove and Co and their ilk:
"I'm very concerned about cloning. I worry about a world in which cloning becomes acceptable." PRESIDENT BUSH

Friday, May 20, 2005

Sex-ifying Saddam

Okay, what's the main purpose that The Sun printed pix of our lovely dictator Saddam?

I can see it now...a la risky business and Tom Cruise...Saddam singing..."I'm too sexy for this country, too sexy to be a dictator, too sexy for these briefs, too sexy for these terrorists, too sexy for the USA, too sexy for..."

You get the idea. As to why the US Military and W, Rove and Co are more distrurbed by these pics than the ones of hooded torturers is beyond me.


More revealing pictures were published Saturday in the British tabloid, The Sun, including one of Saddam seen through barbed wire wearing a white robe-like garment, and another of Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as "Chemical Ali," in a bathrobe and holding a towel.

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Perhaps this is akin to the idea that women really want to get to know folks on death row?


Scott Peterson, the man who was convicted of murdering his wife and unborn child, had been on Death Row barely an hour when the first proposal arrived from a woman who wants to be the new Mrs. Scott Peterson.

Three dozen phone calls came in to the warden's office on Peterson's first day at his new home in San Quentin State Prison -- women were pleading for his mailing address, and one smitten 18-year-old said she wanted to marry him.

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We do live in a very twisted society, no?

This would be eminently more funny if it weren't so true

Last weekend, I attended the NCLR fund raiser where Kate Clinton was the emcee. She had many funny remarks (W, Rove and Co. are such easy targets). Among them was this little gem:

I don't know why the Bush Administration was so worried about WMD, all they needed to do was check our reciepts. It would have saved us a whole lot of trouble.

Stacking the Deck for W, Rove and Co.

Now, we all knew that this occurs, but if the W, Rove and Co used this kind of strategy in Vegas, they would be banned from the casinos.


MILWAUKEE — As President Bush resumes his cross-country campaign to promote his vision of Social Security restructuring, it's no secret that he is relying on outside organizations to help provide the supporting cast.

Yet a memo circulated this week among members of one group, Women Impacting Public Policy, illustrates the lengths to which the White House has gone to make sure the right points are made at the president's public appearances.

"President Bush will be in Rochester, N.Y., for an upcoming event and has called on WIPP for help," said the memo to New York-area members, from one of the group's leaders. "He would like to visit with local workers about their views on Social Security."

The memo went on to solicit several types of people "who he would like to visit with" — including a young worker who "knows that [Social Security] could run out before they retire," a young couple with children who like "the idea of leaving something behind to the family" and a single parent who believes Bush's proposal for individual investment accounts "would provide more retirement options and security" than the current system.

The people solicited appeared to represent various arguments that Bush has been making for why Social Security should be overhauled. The memo requested an immediate response, because "we will need to get names to the White House."

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Tell me again why there are a large number of people that believe this administration in any category?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Revenge of the Frist

No doubt, this will be blogged heavily. I doubt I'm the first or last, but hey it's a fun vidoe clip. Find the play button, click and enjoy.

Oh, and here's the accompaning flyer pdf style.

No jedi here to save the republic, I guess we will have to do it.

Remembering Brother Malcolm

Those of you armed with an almanac will notice that today would have been Malcolm Little's 80th Birthday.

The 60's were a tragic decade on many fronts. The deaths/assasinations of great freedom fighters (not the kind Reagan Propped up in El Salvador & elsewhere back in the 1980s) is tops on the list (after the Vietnam boondoggle by some counts). In times of such great tragedy and strife, the heroes of a generation are easier to spot, but that doesn't make it all the more easy to live one's life filled with values and actions based on those values.

Malcolm X said many things, but how far have we come since?
"I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment." Speech, Dec. 12 1964, New York City
As the generations slip into the past, one of the key dissapointments of mine is that we have no heroes the stature of Brothers Malcolm and Martin. Looking for leadership in this generation gets lost in the quagmire that is the public life. Those that would rise up are often put assunder by various politicos only interested in retaining the power for themselves (e.g. W, Rove and Co).

These days, how many people would be willing to stand for a righteous cause "by any means necessary?"

"I don't mean go out and get violent; but at the same time you should never be nonviolent unless you run into some nonviolence. I'm nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me. But when you drop that violence on me, then you've made me go insane, and I'm not responsible for what I do."
One subtitle for this post might be, "A Generation in Search of Heroes: Where are they?" In the end, we all shall extract lessons from the heroes of the past, for they have much to teach for those who bother to read and learn.

Thankfully, the lessons Malcolm X was able to convey in the short time he was alive are still available for public consumption and in that sense, Brother Malcolm lives on.

Do Cry for me Now, Argentina

Distracted politicos on all sides are sidelined by partison bickering over trivial matters while our economy is nearly done in by the looming budget nightmare.


The timing could not have been more apt. On the eve of a titanic partisan clash in the Senate, eggheads of the left and right got together yesterday to warn both parties that they are ignoring the country's most pressing problem: that the United States is turning into Argentina.

While Washington plunged into a procedural fight over a pair of judicial nominees, Stuart Butler, head of domestic policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation, and Isabel Sawhill, director of the left-leaning Brookings Institution's economic studies program, sat down with Comptroller General David M. Walker to bemoan what they jointly called the budget "nightmare."

There were no cameras, not a single microphone, and no evidence of a lawmaker or Bush administration official in the room -- just some hungry congressional staffers and boxes of sandwiches from Corner Bakery. But what the three spoke about will have greater consequences than the current fuss over filibusters and Tom DeLay's travel.

With startling unanimity, they agreed that without some combination of big tax increases and major cuts in Medicare, Social Security and most other spending, the country will fall victim to the huge debt and soaring interest rates that collapsed Argentina's economy and caused riots in its streets a few years ago.

"The only thing the United States is able to do a little after 2040 is pay interest on massive and growing federal debt," Walker said. "The model blows up in the mid-2040s. What does that mean? Argentina."

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I suppose, as always, budgetary issues are not as sexy as political back biting and bickering about judicial nominies (which, incidentially surprises me that W, Rove and Co. couldn't simply find some new appointees to replace the contentious ones).

More Signs that Indicate We Need A Complete Overhaul of the Public School System

With the trumpets belting out the fanfare, we can't hear the squeeky read section. Sure, some kids scored well on a test, but they had to do it on "their time, not our time, Mr. Hand."


"We studied very hard. We had to stay in after school every day and Saturday."YENESIS BRITO, a fourth grader at P.S. 33 in the Bronx.

Reading further:

But the percentage of eighth graders meeting state standards, a consistently grim measure of middle school failure, rose only fractionally statewide and fell 2.8 percentage points in New York City, according to results for both grades released yesterday by the state education commissioner, Richard P. Mills

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So, if student's test scores improve only because kids are staying afterschool and in school on Saturday's, what does that say about the existing structure of the Academic Calendar?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Flushing a Book

Does flushing a book kill the ideas presented therein? I don't think so, as long as other copies can still be bandied about.

I remember long ago when gasoline was about 30 cents a gallon. My grandfather used to start the barbeque using a quart of gas. He would pile up a stack of wood, put a small amount of paper underneath, and toss on the gasoline. Then he would spark up wooden match - the kind with the red and white tip - fire up his cigar and tell us kids to, "Stand Back." Tossing the match onto the pile, the thing would erupt with a gaawhoomp. All followed by a cheer by us kids.

The trouble with the situation surrounding the treatment of the Koran is that the flames were already there. If we were to toss a can of gasoline onto the fire where a small flame was already present, no doubt, we would all get burned. Who's responsible for the conflagration afterward?


The three-page memorandum, dated Jan. 19, 2003, says that only Muslim chaplains and Muslim interpreters can handle the holy book, and only after putting on clean gloves in full view of detainees.

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Here are some thoughts about the article from a friend who pointed my mouse to it:

This is nothing but PC, politically correct, carried to its logical conclusion. Manipulation of the strong by the weak. Feeding into PC is dangerous. We should be saying to the Islamicists, ''You treat any book you want your way, we treat it our way.'' They have to get over themselves. Who do they think they are, dictating to the world? And why are we abetting it? We are the problem.

And on Another Footnote: GI Skewered

While another of the small fish gets skewered, the big fish continue to swim in the big kitty litter box we know as Iraq.


A military jury Monday convicted Spc. Sabrina Harman on all but one of the seven charges she faced for her role in abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

A panel of four Army officers and four senior enlisted soldiers convicted Harman on one count of conspiracy to maltreat detainees, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of dereliction of duty.

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It is becoming more and more aparent that the big fish will never get fried as there are scapegoats and plea deals apleanty when it comes to the Abuh Ghraib fiasco.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Did you have a tough day?

These folks had a difficult day as well. Explore Sweden has drawn pretty much to a close. Only a few more teams out on the shortened course. You can find the results here.

Slipping Congressional Standards

You have got to love the Brits as they are used to defending themselves to a demanding press (the BBC doesn't let you off the hook like the American Media Outlets). Not only that, but they don't bend over or plead the fifth like many politicos in our country.


Galloway's appearance was an odd spectacle on Capitol Hill: A legislator from a friendly nation, voluntarily testifying under oath, without immunity, at a combative congressional hearing where neither side showed much pretense of diplomatic niceties.

"Now, I know that standards have slipped over the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer, you're remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice," Galloway told Coleman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigation subcommittee.

He then accused Coleman of maligning his name before giving him a chance to defend himself and of using the oil-for-food investigation to hide the failures of U.S. policies in Iraq.

"Senator, this is the mother of all smoke screens," he said.

We have to Learn to Think in a New Way

This guy knew Einstein. Perhaps we aught listen to Joseph Rotblat's wisdom. He's still going at 97, perhaps he knows a thing or two:


Now, two generations later, as the representatives of nearly 190 nations meet in New York to discuss how to advance the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, we face the same perils and new ones as well. Today we confront the possibilities of nuclear terrorism and of the development of yet more new nuclear warheads in the United States. The two former superpowers still hold enormous nuclear arsenals. North Korea and Iran are advancing their capability to build nuclear weapons. Other nations are increasingly likely to acquire nuclear arsenals on the excuse that they are needed for their security. The result could be a new nuclear arms race.

Fifty years ago we wrote: "We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties?" That question is as relevant today as it was in 1955. So is the manifesto's admonition: "Remember your humanity, and forget the rest."

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Here, Here.

If a person is on a "No Fly" list, how does he/she get on board?

Found this report out of Boston. If a person is really on some kind of "no fly" list sponsored by the Office of Homeland Security, how is it that they are able to purchase a ticket and get on board an airplane in the first place? Perhaps it should be a "not allowed to purchase a plane ticket list," instead.

Incidentially, would you like to live in Bangor Maine knowing that diverted terror suspects are being shuttled direct to your airport?

It's a brief article, so here it is:

A Boston-bound Alitalia plane that took off from Milan, Italy, is being diverted to Bangor, Maine.

A passenger on Flight 618 may be on a U.S. no-fly list, officials said. The man's name and birth date match a name on the list. The plane is due to land at about 12:45 p.m. in Maine, but it was supposed to arrive at Logan International Airport at 1:10 p.m.

Canadian and American jets are escorting the plan to Maine, where it will be met by by federal law enforcement officials when it lands. The flight is carrying a 127 passengers, and 10 crew members are onboard the Boeing 767.

This is the second time in one week that an international flight has been diverted to Maine. Last week, a Boston-bound Air France jet was diverted after one of the passengers was found to have the same name as a person listed on the no-fly list.

Watch Out

Got a call from the following phone number with a quick hang up: (602) 435-3989

It had to be some kind of scam because when I said the person he asked for wasn't home, he hung right up. I did a quick reverse number look up and didn't come up with anything free on line, just that it was an AZ number registered via Leap Wireless Intl, inc - a wireless provider.

These call and bag ya folks are terrible - on par with the anonymous spammers. If you get a call from this number on your ID, yell into the ear piece as soon as you click on - or just hang up. I had my one year old yelling in the ear piece so that should prevent any further problems.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Good News for a Change

Finally. A toast should be raised as a fatal blow has been struck to the mega-wealthy, distributing cartels. We will, no doubt, be having wine with dinner tonight and shipping some to friends in states that, before, we couldn't get them a bottle of our favorite Cabernet Franc without fear of getting arrested for no good reason.


Vintners broke out the bubbly Monday and began taking calls from East Coast customers eager to order after the Supreme Court struck down bans on out-of-state wine shipments.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Stench of Death

Woe the odious business, War. The sickening smell of decomposing bodies should not come off anyone wringing their hands like Lady MacBeth.

Let's hope Condi was close enough to never forget the stench wrought by her decisions and orders involving Iraq.


BAGHDAD, Iraq - The bodies of 38 men shot execution-style were found in three locations in less than 24 hours, police said Sunday, a day when drive-by shootings and suicide bombings killed at least eight Iraqis, including a senior Industry Ministry official and a top Shiite cleric.

Time for the other Capitalists to Pony up

At least there is one capitalist with a conscience out there.

Even so, one has to question whether the use of soft funds to drive change within the educational industry is the appropriate way to drive transformation that is desperately needed. Meaning, if outside individuals are driving the change agenda for the educational indsutry (as in we won't fund ideas if we don't like your values), are we headed in the correct direction?


Bill Gates raised some hackles with his withering assessment of American high schools, but at least the billionaire founder of Microsoft is putting his money where his mouth is. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested $2.3 billion since 2000 in new visions of education, with smaller schools and more personalized instruction to prepare young people for the working world and post-high school learning.

The foundation has programs in 42 states and the District of Columbia; it supports more than 1,500 high schools — about half totally new and the others redesigned. Its three scholarship programs, designed to fill tuition gaps left by other grants and aid, have assisted more than 10,000 students.

At one of its schools, the Truman Center in Federal Way, about 20 miles south of Seattle, 12 teacher/advisers tend 208 students — helping them figure out what they care about and how to pursue it. Two days a week are set aside for job-shadowing and internships in the real world.

When the scales tip

"Being born in the elite in the U.S. gives you a constellation of privileges that very few people in the world have ever experienced. Being born poor in the U.S. gives you disadvantages unlike anything in Western Europe and Japan and Canada." DAVID I. LEVINE, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Was it Marx that said that when the proletariat becomes large and oppressed enough, they will rise up and tip the scales in their favor? Or, perhaps more apropos, it says somewhere else that the meek shall inherit the earth. But that would subsume that the rich and powerful would tender their share for the good of the whole, by peaceful or any means necessary.

On the other hand, I suppose the poor are placated enough with 400 dollar tax breaks (that don't really cover a month's rent), they can still spend it on beer and be happy.

How's your Sunday Feeling?

And you thought you were having a tough day...Snagged this shot off the Explore Sweden web location. They are having some cold weather out there - and no doubt staying warm is an issue. Forgedabout "reality" TV and track these teams live via the web location.


About 20 kilometers of the kayak section is now behind the leading teams Salomon, Nike, Montrail and Cross.

Salomon started out a whole hour before Montrail and Nike, who are really close to each other. Most likely Salomon has added to that lead by taking a smart shortcut. Paddling is not their strongest side, and since there are many rapids in this section, race director Mikael Nordström thinks that they have chosen to drag their kayaks on the road, cutting past large sections of the river. If that was a smart decision will show itself later.

At the large rapid in Volgsele, there's a mandatory scouting of the rapid. As team Nike saw the rapid, they chose to drag their kayaks around it through the forest. So did team Montrail, only a few minutes behind them. And when team Cross, approx. 20 minutes behind, heard that Montrail and Nike had portaged around, they didn't even bother to scout the rapids. Up and away in the forest, faster than both Montrail and Nike.

The wind is picking up a little, so it's quite chilly, but the sun is still out and the teams shouldn't be that cold.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

America: The War Years and its Profiteers

Are you bold enough a capitalist to play rusian roulette with our troops in order to make more money? The Already Fat Capitalist win and have been winning big in our fight against Terrror.

Incidentially, when do we know we have won the war on terror?

This article could be ever so clever and funny if it weren't laced with so much truth. "When satire is true it ceases to be funny."


ANNOUNCER: In the old days, war profiteering was a grueling round-the-clock job. You actually had to make something, like planes or guns, and then overcharge the government obscenely. Now, thanks to the Republicans, countless Americans are becoming "war profiteers" in their spare time - and you can, too. Riches once thought to be the exclusive preserve of a few unsavory arms merchants have been made available to thousands of successful Americans, many of whom pull in the cash literally as they sleep!

What's their secret? With "The Republican Guide to Wartime Tax Cuts," you can find out what's in the playbook of Republican professionals. You'll get the war you want without laying out a dime, even as you benefit from huge tax cuts to boot (note: certain income thresholds apply).

And here's the kicker: you can slip the bill for all of this - both the war and your tax cut - to unsuspecting children!

I know what you're thinking: "I don't have the self-confidence or social skills to reach for such dreams." But here's the truth: neither did Republicans a few years ago. Yet just this week they came through again. On Wednesday, George Bush signed into law an additional $82 billion for Iraq, which brings the amount America has spent to oust Saddam Hussein and occupy the country close to $300 billion.

Now, whatever you thought about Saddam, the best news is this: we got this war for no money down and zero payments for 10 years. That's right: every penny spent on this war has been added to the deficit. And this latest $82 billion sailed through without a hitch, with no pesky questions as to whether we should actually pay for our own wars today.

(Yes, there was one scare, when Joe Biden said we could do that by repealing a sliver of the tax cuts with which the G.O.P. has incentivized important Americans. Luckily this notion was swatted away as "nongermane.") Now the drive for more tax cuts continues, even as yearly deficits close in on half a trillion dollars!

If you're ready to bring into your own life the power that this total suppression of fiscal and moral reality can offer, "The Republican Guide" is for you. Our CD's and training manuals will teach you how to profit during wartime without ever leaving your home. In an age of everlasting war, we'll show you which congressmen to call to make sure your tax cuts are permanent to match.

But there's more. Beyond learning how to maximize your own wartime tax cuts, you'll master previously undisclosed behavioral secrets that let you act as if there's nothing wrong with getting yours while the getting's good - just as top Republicans do!

Don't take my word for it. Listen to how someone just like you changed his life in a few short hours of study....

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There's more, but I can't bear to share futher...

Friends and Gifts

In light of today's report on the POTUS and VPOTUS wealth situation, I figure I either need to get new friends of have my friends get me better gifts.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't know what the heck I would do with a $ 14,000 dollar gun, but I sure could use a new $ 2,700 bicycle (no doubt the very one he was riding when his wife and pals were under threat when a plane flew into whitehouse protected airspace).

I suppose the reason why they are so dead set against the Social Security system is that such gifts are seen as bricabrac to line the shelves of one's ranch rather than things to list on Ebay to fund the next month's rent becuase they can't seem to scrape together enough money to feed the family even despite working three jobs for minimum wage or less.


A $14,000 shotgun, a $2,700 mountain bike and five fishing rods were among $26,346 in gifts President Bush accepted last year, according to his financial disclosure form released Friday which also listed millions of dollars the president has invested in U.S. Treasury notes and certificates of deposit.

The annual disclosures required by law offered a glimpse into the president and Vice President Dick Cheney's wealth — and what they gave each other for Christmas last year.

As might be appropriate for a second-in-command, Cheney spent more — $170 more — than Bush did on him. Cheney gave Bush a $595 clock that the president keeps on his desk in the Oval Office. Bush gave Cheney a $425 globe on a wooden stand.

But because federal ethics law allows them to list the values of their assets in wide ranges, rather than precise numbers, it is difficult to discern whether the two are wealthier than they were a year ago.

The disclosure, for instance, said Bush's 1,583-acre ranch was worth between $1 million and $5 million. The president reported having at least $4.95 million in Treasury notes, $750,000 in certificates of deposits and $217,000 in checking and money market accounts. Bush owns the mineral rights valued at up to $15,000 on property in Reeves County, Te

The Hitler Youth and the New Pope

The Hitler Youth and The New Pope sounds like such a great name for a rock band, maybe I ought copyright it just for fun.

Just wondering: Can a person, group, or a whole Church be complicit in the execution of genocide even if they say they were not responsible in any way, shape or form?


The delegates were following the instructions of the Vatican's commission on theology, which held that the policies of Pope Pius XII and the church under the Nazis could not be questioned, because the church and its leader are, as the First Vatican Council declared in 1870, free of error on matters of doctrine and morality. When Cardinal Ratzinger became the head of that Vatican commission, he issued the same advice to Pope John Paul II, who pronounced the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis an unspeakable crime, but a crime by some Catholics, not by the church.

This position obscures the fact that in 1930's and 1940's Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was the only institution that possessed the moral stature and strength to denounce and forbid the murder of the Jews. It did not do so. And in all the years since, rather than acknowledging this failure to provide moral leadership in the critical hour, the Vatican has repeatedly claimed that while individual Catholics behaved sinfully or misunderstood what the church taught, the sin of letting the Holocaust happen at its doorstep need not haunt the church as an institution.

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WOW - "the church under the Nazis could not be questioned, because the church and its leader are, as the First Vatican Council declared in 1870, free of error on matters of doctrine and morality."

How cool is that? These folks absovled their own sins and those for future sinners in advance...no doubt, with the authority of God on their side, it is easy to asuage one's own guilty conscience (if they have/had one).

Friday, May 13, 2005


Out on my AM run, I got to thinking, here we are, just over two weeks away from the Memorial Day Weekend. In my high school days, I lived in a town that actually had a parade - still does I'm sure - to mark the occasion. I played taps as the flag was lowered to half staff (here's a link for those of you unfamiliar with the tune).

Then, I was a hard core trumpet player. I practiced every day and my chops were good enough to get me to the double "c" in the upper register. I played in the symphonic band, the jazz/big band, in the pit orchestra for the various yearly musicals, and the marching band.

It was the marching band that I hated the most, mainly because of the hot uniforms we would put on regardless the weather - wool, dickeys, funky hats with feathers, spats...you know the look. We did earn one fateful trip to march down the main street in Disneyworld one year, but beyond that, the practice and rigor of marching was not all together my cup of tea.

Where I took the most pride and where I felt the most important as a musician and a trumpet player was at the tail end of the parade. All the town's folks gathered on the town green and all bands were assembled around the Fallen Heroes monument and the requisite plugged howitzer (which it seems like every town in our area had), and after the benedictions, the prayers and the first selectwoman said a few words, we usually played a hymn or the National Anthem which was always followed by a 21 gun salute ("ready, aim, fire" - 7 guns, usually M-16s - three reports) followed immediately by the playing of Taps.

I started as the echo. A more senior player did the up front report of taps. I followed, playing about 100 meters away using the middle school wall to get the full accustical echo. When I was a senior, I graduated to playing the first report and another kid played the echo. I always got teary just after the last echo reverberated of the wall. Most everyone on the green walked back to their cars or to their home a little bit sad and who knows feeling what else.

For me, I was as proud as every to be an American and realized how grateful I was that people were willing to put their lives on their line for our freedom. As they say, freedom isn't nor ever is free. But as we head into this somber time of Memorial Day, perhaps some of us should hang our heads a bit lower as the burden of responsibility for some recent military deaths hangs heavy around the necks of our leadership.

Me, I choose to look skyward, reach back to the deeper depths, and be thankful for those that have gone before and for me - From the real Minutemen (not the incarnation on the Mexican border) that fought the Redcoats back in the 1700s to the families that lost sons on both sides of the argument in the civil war, to the veterans of WW I and WWII that fought obvious tyrants, for the Marines, Air Force, Army, Navy, and the Coast Guard men and women who have lost their lives in the pursuit and protection of our lives and liberty, I give thanks.

As we move into another of America's heavily comercialized holidays, let us resolve to toss out the trappings, remember our fallen heroes and give thanks. May all our heroes rest in peace.

A Great Question

This from the Whitehouse briefing on the whole airspace problem they had in D.C. they other day:


Q: Might there be something wrong with protocols that render the president unnecessary when the alarm is going off at his house?

Here's the reply from the king of obfuscation:

McCLELLAN: That's not at all what occurred, Ken. And I would disagree strongly with the way you characterize it for the reasons I started earlier, and that I talked about. This was a situation where the president was in an off-site location. He was not in danger, a situation where protocols have been put in place to address the situation. The protocols were followed. ...

More good questions and obfuscation from the master McClellan:

Q: And those protocols are OK with the president despite the fact that his wife was in a situation where she might have been endangered?

McCLELLAN: She was taken to a secure location, as were some other officials.

Q: And wouldn't he want to know about that as it was happening?

McCLELLAN: He was briefed about the situation.

Q: After it happened.

McCLELLAN: He was briefed about the situation, Ken. And I think that he wants to make sure that the protocols that are in place are followed. The protocols that were in place were followed.

Q: Scott, to follow on the same line of questioning, if there is a possibility that a plane may have to be shot down over Washington, doesn't the President want to be involved in that type of decision?

McCLELLAN: Well, Keith, I think again, it depends on the circumstances in the situation. You have to look at each individual situation and the circumstances surrounding that situation. There are protocols --

Q: Doesn't the President want to be involved in what could be a decision to shoot down a plane over Washington?

You get the general idea. Read the text if you dare. It is quite fun and a bit disconcerting that the Prez was that disconnected to such a decision. Thanks Moxie Grrrl for the link.

Ah, you have got to love this "Jobs Creation" Administration

Correct me if I am wrong, but given the number of civilians employed by the US Military and working on domestic military bases, doesn't the closing of American bases mean lost jobs rather than jobs created?

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon proposed Friday shutting about 180 military installations from Maine to Hawaii including 33 major bases, triggering the first round of base closures in a decade and an intense struggle by communities to save their facilities.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also recommended a list of scores of other domestic installations — including 29 major bases — that will remain open but with thousands fewer troops. Dozens of others will gain troops from other domestic or foreign bases.

Overall, he has said his plan would save $48.8 billion over 20 years while making the military more mobile and better suited for the global effort against terrorism.

Rumsfeld's proposal calls for a massive shift of U.S. forces that would result in a net loss of 29,005 military and civilian jobs at domestic installations. He proposes pulling a total of 218,570 military and civilian positions out of some U.S. bases while adding 189,565 positions to others, according to documents obtained by The AP.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Thought for the Day on the Koran

Here's an interesting idea that I recieved in an email from a friend with this link and these comments:

Slice from the Email:

Literal-minded twitism at work. Like the values that the Koran represents are present in the physical Koran? The Koran is a metaphor. Like the flag, it stands for something but it isn't the thing it stands for.

Slice from the article:

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 11 - Four protesters were killed and more than 60 injured Wednesday in the eastern city of Jalalabad as the police and troops struggled to contain the worst anti-American demonstrations in Afghanistan in the more than three years since the fall of the Taliban.

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By the way, does anyone else see the irony in the following photos?

Don't Graduate

Remember the line from The Graduate: "I've got one word for you, Benjamin, plastics." Usually, commencement is laced with excitment and anticipation for the future - one chapter in life closes while another bursts open. Well, we should also remember the morose demeanor and morass good old Ben got himslef into feeding cocktails and cigarettes to Mrs. Robinson. I always love the pool scenes in this flick - they say so much about that generation.

Unfortunately, it looks like the youth of today have a similar future to which they can aspire. Our "jobs creation" prez seems to be falling down on his job, unless of course, you are talking about the wartime and energy biz cartels.


The employment bar has been set so low for the Bush administration that even a modest gain is cause for celebration. But we shouldn't be blinded by the flash of last Saturday's headlines. American workers, especially younger workers, remain stuck in a gloomy employment landscape.

For example, a recent report from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston tells us that the employment rate for the nation's teenagers in the first 11 months of 2004 - just 36.3 percent - was the lowest it has ever been since the federal government began tracking teenage employment in 1948.

Those 20 to 24 years old are also faring poorly. In 2000, 72.2 percent were employed during a typical month. By last year that percentage had dropped to 67.9 percent.

Even the recent modest surge in jobs has essentially bypassed young American workers. Gains among recently arrived immigrants seem to have accounted for the entire net increase in jobs from 2000 through 2004.

Over all, only workers 55 and up have done reasonably well over the past few years. "Younger workers," said Andrew Sum, the center's director, "have just been crushed."

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Politicians Strategically Apply Pillow to the Face of Public School Programs

I was reading our local rag and came across this article by Joan Ryan:


Ronnie Scott kept quiet about the news.

"I don't want to put this out there and get a mob scene,'' she said.

Scott is assistant recreation director for San Francisco Recreation and Parks. She had just received word last week that funding for a summer sports program for kids at Visitacion Valley Elementary had come through from two local foundations. Scott knew that parents in this low-income neighborhood would lunge at the chance to secure one of the new camp's 50 available slots.

Especially this summer.

Vis Valley won't be open for summer school again this year. Only nine elementary schools in the city will be -- and two of those are open only to new immigrants and two are open only to students who attend those particular schools. In the remaining five schools, attendance will be limited to certain special ed students and to students who without summer school are likely to be left back.

Knowing the desperate situation, Scott quietly performed social triage, an increasingly familiar routine for public administrators: She offered spots first to the 25 students in her after-school "latch-key'' program. "These are kids who have nowhere to go after school, much less the whole summer,'' Scott said.

Everyone else at Vis Valley is pretty much out of luck.

The problem isn't with San Francisco Unified. Its hands are tied. This goes way beyond one neighborhood or one school district. Vis Valley is simply one more casualty of a state and national political environment that is, purposely or unwittingly, slowly smothering the public education system.

...At a time when education is supposed to be such a priority, when we test students exhaustively and punish schools for failing to reach achievement goals, how can we justify tossing students out the door for almost three months? How can we let all those precious weeks dribble away, wasted, without offering enrichment programs, and classes in the arts, and reading and math reviews for students who want -- and need -- a more solid foundation?

This isn't about San Francisco. It's about short-sighted and double- talking politicians on the state and national level who are willing to sacrifice a generation -- or two or three -- of students for the sake of what passes these days for being fiscally conservative. And it's about the rest of us letting them do it.

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Hands tied and schools smothered...that about sums it up for how the politicos value kids in the US today...at least the poor ones.

Forget Reality TV - Get a Dose of Real Adventure Racing

Those who are fans of "Reality" television might like to log into a bit of real adventure and real athletes slogging it through the wilds of Sweden.

I have a friend who is navigating for a professional team in this race. Starts this weekend and can be followed at this location.

Anyone who has followed the Primal Quest type races know that on line is the best way to watch these things - I don't know the web location all to well, but hopefully there will be live GPS tracking so you can follow your favorite team through all their dead ends, retreats and victories.

Here's a snip from the latest newsletter to whet the appetite:

Information to the teams.

Ice Claws
Because of many teams having problems finding Ice Claws, the organisation have decided to provide every participant with a pair of Ice Claw, that you can keep. This will be handed out to everyone during the registration.

You can check out the webpage www.exploresweden.se and Newsletter 4 - the PDF and there you will find a picture of the Ice Claws. You will also have a picture of the kayak that you will be using during the race.

After the meeting at Örnsköldsviks Ariport, you will be transported to an outdoor shop and if you want to be sure that they have the gear that you want, you can e-mail to them at: store9@naturkompaniet.se (attention: Mats)

The Kickspark section is cancelled, because of pour ice. But Kickbike is still on.

We can hire kayak-wagons to you if you are having problems finding. But there are not so many just 6 and I need to know if you want to hire this before Monday morning, because they need to mail them to us!
The wagon is of the brand Inkasvagn with a wheel diameter of 25 cm. You can check out www.linder.se and there you will find a picture of the wagon.

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Sounds cold!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

One Whopper of a Video Clip

Check out the winner of the Bush in 30 years clip contest sponsored by move on. Pretty much sums it up. The whole ploy to kill SS is really another one of W, Rove and Co.'s petty tricks to cheat the middle class and pat the rich on the back with another hand out.

P.S. Here's another (D.R.A.F.T.) I found via Moxie Girrrl

Sick and Twisted Priests

If ever there was an argument against the celebacy pact priests make to enter the clergy, it would be to relieve some of that sexual tension that drives some to pedophilia.


In a 15-hour videotaped deposition in March, Oliver O'Grady described how his heart raced when one of the slim, playful boys he preferred toweled off after a swim. He also said he liked to lift little girls' skirts and peek at their underpants.

Asked to demonstrate how he would lure one of his estimated 25 victims into his arms, the 59-year-old Irish native softened his voice, flashed an avuncular smile and looked directly into the video camera.

"Hi, Sally," O'Grady improvised. "How are you doing? Come here. I want to give you a hug. You are a sweetheart. You know that. You are very special to me. I like you a lot."

If his hug met no resistance, O'Grady testified, he would take the child's compliance as "permission" to molest.

...Although O'Grady voiced remorse for his abuses, he often appeared to be enjoying his videotaped performance. At one point, he winked into the camera.

O'Grady testified that he was molested as a child by two priests in the sacristy of his church. The first occurred when he was 10 and an altar boy, he said.

The priest "began the conversation by asking how I was, what I was going to do for the day, and I remember he was — he called me over to him and he began to hug me, you know, in a kind of gentle way, first of all.

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And so, why is it that Catholics still trust their leaders?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Magic Word

Why is it that when parents who field requests from young children typically reply, "what's the magic word?" when the child doesn't preface or close the whole statement with "please?"

I found myself doing that with my son and stumbled on it a bit. What makes it magic? Why does there need to be some kind of implausable explanation attached to that which aught to be a part of common courtesy?

My bet: It's a crutch that parents use to pound the use of the word please into a childs head without have to explain the why behind it.

I, for one, am stopping. Cold turkey. I am going to, instead, say things like, "how do big boys ask for things that they would like?"

Do any other folks out there have thoughts about replacements for this bit of culture we have been stuck with?

More Stories of Great Heterosexual Parents

By now, you all have heard great detail and hoopla surounding the findings that gay-ness is not taught, learned, nor caught, but is a part of a person's hard wiring.

Of course, there is a large contingent that still believes homosexuals have no place in this world, nor that they should have the same rights and privledges as those who fornicate exclusively with people of the opposite sex. Also, there are a great number of people who still think marriage needs some kind of protection - as to what that protection looks like, I am still mystified.

Incidentially, I am still awaiting a great explanation as to why homosexuality is wrong that doesn't cite some biblical justification or sling vitriol.

Well, along down the media pipeline comes another story of a father (heterosexual man) arrested for killing his child and her friend. (Ironically, in a place called Zion).

ZION, Ill. - A man was arrested on murder charges Tuesday in the Mother's Day stabbings of his 8-year-old daughter and the little girl's best friend, who were killed after they went biking in a park.

Jerry Hobbs, who was recently released from prison, had led police to the bodies just off a wooded bike path early Monday, claiming he spotted them while searching for his daughter, the girl's grandfather, Arthur Hollabaugh, told The Associated Press.

Hobbs, 34, was questioned through the day about the deaths of Laura Hobbs, 8, and Krystal Tobias, 9.

Both girls had been beaten and stabbed repeatedly in the woods and left to die, Lake County Coroner Richard Keller said. He said the girls were found side-by-side and did not appear to have been sexually assaulted.

Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller said in announcing the charges Tuesday that he could not discuss possible motives for the killings, but prosecutors said more details would come out when Hobbs appears in bond court Wednesday morning.

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Now, of course, this person is innocent until proven otherwise, but why do people insist such a father deserves more rights than a gay parent?

Which group are the Activists?

Well, the Sierra Club is at least up front about their ambitions. Are these judges activists as well? Letting the big Dick off the hook....this man is very slippery, but not as slippery as Rove, I'm sure:


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit that sought details about Vice President Dick Cheney's 2001 energy policy task force that critics say secretly formed policy favorable to the industry.

The unanimous ruling ordered a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit by the Sierra Club environmental group and the watchdog group Judicial Watch that sought to learn about contacts between task force members and industry executives.

"We hold that plaintiffs have failed to establish any duty, let alone a clear and indisputable duty, owed to them by the federal government" under the law in question, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote in the 13-page ruling.All eight judges on the appeals court sided with the Bush administration and agreed the lawsuit must be dismissed.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Counting Dead Bodies

We haven't seen a total of enemy bodies slain in a long while. Are we headed down the slippery slope of history to repeat our Vietnam daily body count comparisions a la VC v. US troops killed?

If one is larger than the other, does it make the investment worth it?


News of the U.S. offensive against insurgents and foreign fighters in a desert in western Anbar province came after a weekend of heavy losses for the Americans and with the Iraqi cabinet still incomplete three months after Jan. 30 elections.

Marines, soldiers and sailors backed by aircraft launched the operation, a U.S. military statement said. It did not say when the offensive started, but said 75 insurgents were killed in the first 24 hours.

On Sunday, three soldiers were killed in two roadside bomb attacks and one was killed by small-arms fire. Three Marines were killed in a suicide car bombing and a sailor died in small arms fire on Saturday, the military said.

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Craig is Onto Somthing

With over 10 billion page views a month on his first idea - craigslist - perhaps Craig is onto something that will be bigger and better: Journalism that supports and reports real investigation rather than simply talking points provided by windbag politicians.


...But he believes the reason why newspapers are losing circulation is that too many traditional journalists are willing to quote politicians and business executives even if they're blatantly lying -- merely for the sake of perceived objectivity. He'd prefer an "open source" model of journalism where legions of volunteers act as writers, assignment editors and fact checkers to challenge mainstream journalists.

"People are looking for attitude and guts in reporting -- not full-on gonzo journalism, but hey, tell us what you think," said Newmark, who described himself as having Whig values -- strong on defense, fiscally conservative but socially liberal.

"Maybe Hunter Thompson had it right," Newmark said, referring to the late cultural icon whose rollicking, first-person narratives of drug addiction, the Hells Angels and the 1972 presidential election shook up the media decades ago...

...Newmark hopes the ideas take shape in time to supply voters with a "trustworthy" daily political report before the 2006 midterm elections. Young people, he said, particularly need credible online news, since the Internet is the top source of news for 18- to 34-year-olds, besting second-ranked local television by a 41-to-15 percent margin, according to a recent Carnegie Corp. study.

Teenager Smokes 'Em

Galen Rupp smashed an almost thirty year old track and field benchmark running 28:15:52 for the 10k.

No doubt, comparisons to Prefontaine will be forthecoming. Pre was/is a hero - although his death is still shrouded in mystery. This generation is in dire need of a hero, but for Rupp, only time and his times will tell. Remember Alan Webb? What's up with him? Well, my PR for a 10K is 32:32 - nice and symetric, but I doubt I'll ever blaze up the track like this kid.

Found the article posted on Space Tramp's location:

The magic is back at Hayward Field.

On the eve of his 19th birthday, Oregon freshman Galen Rupp charged into the history books on Saturday night by winning the 10,000 meters in a U.S. junior national record time of 28 minutes, 15.52 seconds.

Rupp's performance thrilled a crowd of 3,410 at the Oregon Twilight Meet which, in turn, spurred him on by chanting his name on the backstretch and rising to their feet for loud ovations each time he clicked off another lap.

"It was awesome. To win a race here in an Oregon uniform, there's nothing like it," Rupp said. "People can say that it's not what it once was, but I've thought about running at Hayward Field ever since I was in high school. Everybody goes nuts and you can't ask for a better environment."

Rupp's time is significant on several levels.

It shatters the 29-year-old national junior mark of 28:32.7 established by former Oregon great Rudy Chapa as an Indiana schoolboy at the Drake Relays back in 1976.