Radically Inept
Saturday, July 03, 2004
  More odds and ends. Mostly ends.

Just a couple of quick points before I run to do the Saturday hunting and gathering.

Ah, the latest TomGram from TomDispatch "Down with King George! A July 4th Quiz" by Stephen R. Shalom that I think many of you might enjoy. Hint: It involves The Declaration of Independence and a certain president. Normally, I cut and paste what I think are the most relevant portions, but in this case I think the 'whole' is better than summing the parts. Besides, for a TomGram, it's not very long.

David Neiwert (new book link), over at Orcinus, points to some of the latest info on Baby Bush' military records. Looks like another part of a messy background that has resurfaced and refuses to go away. Again, I normally like to link and comment, but I'm having difficulties navigating the site, so head on over and check out his posts for Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. Okay, I will comment about the TIPS program developments that David points to. TIPS SUCKS.

Yes, people should be on the alert for terrorists. Of course, they ought to also be on the lookout for criminals and potential criminals, and they should read Megan's Law lists and stay current on the pervs living in their 'hood, and probably which gangs control which side of their streets, and they should be ever vigilant concerning corruption in the local, state and federal govts, and...Yeah, they should do alot of things, but beating up or shooting people wearing turbans is not one of them. Only looking for people who 'look' muslim, and then assigning a terrorist label, is worthless.

Lastly, C-SPAN has been broadcasting the review by scholars of this sessions Supreme Court decisions sponsored by the American Constitution Association. I've caught parts of it three times, but I keep missing any reference to the Hiibel case. National IDs are almost certainly next.

Radically Inept efforts at site improvements have met w/ little success, but a little is better than none, maybe. I've figured out how to access my web space provided by my ISP, but am still clueless as to how to load things there. I was able to import the Radically Inept blog into 1st Page for editing, but besides running HTML TIDY, which did find a lot HTML mistakes, I've not gotten much further there. And finally, I found a really neat template in Publisher, but I don't now how to change some of the imbedded HTML code, to make it do what I want. And, I still haven't figured out how to move the info from Publisher to my web space. Very frustrating. Anyway, it's not all bad, but it sure don't look like it'll happen soonly.

Got to go...

Friday, July 02, 2004
  Light blogging explained

I have to find work. The Wife's friend at work remarked that I should look at teaching English in China, or something. So, I've been trying source information on that. What I've found so far looks great if you're an unmarried recent college grad, or at least not possess the incumberments of owning property, in fact, I think it would be great fun. But it looks like after conversion from yuan to dollars, you take home less than $500/mo. And I'm sure that is good money in their economy, but it is not enough for this economy.

All is not settled on this issue. I saw enough that makes me believe there are some decent jobs teaching overseas, and even China, the difficulty seems to be in locating them. Many of the sites are downloading at speeds that make me wonder if some of the sites are up.

On the other hand, I wonder if we're seeing the death nell of the web as we know it. I'm running into slow site speeds everywhere. And the cause of death is - us. Spam senders and kids w/ nothing better to do than design and spread viruses, people who believe chain letters, and the sheer volume of junk will lead to increasing blockage, the arteries of comunication and eventually it will die of a stroke. Too bad.

Anyway, I loaded 1st Page from a backup disk I made during the re-install fiasco at the end of May. Turns out, some Trojan had taked up residence in the program before I had copied it. Luckily Norton caught it this time. Here it is: "Js. Trojan.WindowBomb from C:\Prog|Evrsoft\1st Page\IScripts\Buttons|Six buttons from hell.izs" Really. Thank you, whoever, but being a complete twit.

Anyway, I going to take a little time to copy my template to the program and see if I tweak a few things. The Wife wants links to open in a new browser, so I'm going to see if I can make that happen. I'd like to do it the way Dave over at Drunken Monkey Style Blogging has it set up. When you link from the main page it opens a single seperate browser, and each new link clicked, navigates that one browser.

Also, I have 20 megs I've got sitting in my ISP account, and I need to figure out how best to utilize them in conjuction w/ this blog. I see no reason at this point not to maintain the main page here, but we'll see. 
Thursday, July 01, 2004
  Death, Pain and Atheism

I sort of owe this post.

slight disclaimer: The 'word links' below, do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the author, but rather, are chosen on the basis of 'that'll do' and 'laziness'.

And it sort falls under the heading of "Maybe you'll bear with me on this one" and Maybe you'll bear with me on this one II, "Wherein I confess my complete ignorance of 'common knowledge'", amongst others.

I had mentioned previously that I was going to the funeral of an old friend, well, it's a pretty good place to start.

As it ended up, I wound up driving, and the Pacifier and I wound up being the only ones there from a larger group of friends. It turns out, they 'hung out' Saturday night before the funeral, I'm not sure what you call the function, but all decided they weren't interested in staying overnight just to sit in a chapel the next morning for a 'religious' service.

Well, we drove over in my dad's pick up that I was keeping while my folks were in China. It was a very interesting experience in many ways, including 'call backs' to the preacher on the part of the closest of family and friends. The preacher did his best to soothe Dookie's mother's grief, and I think he said what he could.

I'm able to keep alot of this stuff in context. It's 'their' belief system, and I accept that.

On the way back, we let a couple of young hitchhikers hop in the truck bed, and took five or so miles closer to their destination.

In the mean time, the Pacifier and I are discussing the service, which naturally leads to a discussion of death. And I don't remember it verbatim, but at some point he begins describing an accident involving himself and a mutual old friend. And he described what went through his mind as it became apparent that the car they were in was going to go air born and then down a steep embankment into whatever. He said, "I remember thinking, 'This is how I'm going to die?' 'Everything was moving in slow motion, and I...'" Point being, at the end of the story he had not once mentioned 'god', 'heaven', 'forgiveness', soul, nothing. That's when I told him he now had his own personal refutation of the "there ain't no atheists in foxholes" crap.

I've been there, Near-Death, or at least thinking I'm Near-Death, which I'll argue is close enough. Falling down a cliff face, and head first rushing toward a boulder, qualifies as near-death. The fact that someone else in the party was quick enough to catch my head (pre-smart-enough-to-wear-helmets era) before it hit, well, that is good fortune. But on the way down, I thought, "Shit. This is going to hurt." [profanity left in 'cause it's accurate] Beyound that, well, maybe a little, "Wow. I'm falling fast," and "how could I be so stupid as to do a "fatal hook-up" [APPENDIX C, 1. k. (3)]", and the most important thought on my mind at the time??!!!

Drum roll here

"This is going to hurt."

Notice the lack of fear of death. That's my point. If you aren't scared to die, alot of theology just loses its value. I wasn't concerned about an after life. And I've been in more than one 'real stupid, near death' experience, and my reaction has been consistently just, 'wow, so this is how I go'.

Now onto to this fear of pain thing. I've suffered from this alot. Experience has proven that pain 'ain't no big thing'. Really, now that I've actually experienced extreme, 'Wow, death would truly be a relief right now' pain, I've also realized I can deal with it. Some point in the past, I realized that if I feel pain, I must be alive. Pain means, in whatever condition, you continue to exist as a unique entity.

Post-death, this might not be true. Perhaps, all of the energy that currently is 'you', those unique alpha and whatever waves, those neuron connections, the synapses, the consciousness - ceases to exist. It might be, that consciousness">consciousness exists in/on a plane outside of our normal comprehension, and in fact, just about anything is possible. And if it is possible, it exists. And it exists now. Not perhaps in our current 'reality', but somewhere in the quantum universe, everything exists right now.

I'm tired of linking.

I can live with the ambiguity of that. It does not disturb me. I always quest for more knowledge, but actually 'worry' about it? No. For some reason, I am perfectly happy in my inability to perfectly explain my existence. As such, I am already removed from the question of 'purpose'. Some how, 'purpose of existence' implies I should be doing something. If that's the case, I am immediately aware that I must be failing, because I can't measure my success. Seems pointless.

So, I accept ambiguity. If everything is ambiguous, than it is up to me to choose my course through my existence. I like that. My choice.

But then, you get reductionist and pre-determinationists (is that a word?) that say, 'all is pre-ordained'. Well that sucks. Look, at that point, I might as well die. In fact, it makes existence a prison, and, I don't know, I've always done poorly when faced w/ ultimatums. Sort of that

CUT! Lost train of thought

It dawns on me, that I have laundry to progress, and other chores, but before I do, an attempt at definitions:

Life: The ability to 'feel' external stimulus and re-act in a manner that preserves corporeal existence AND the ability to extract energy from the environment. Pretty broad I know. But I thought it would be fun to start broad, and see how far, if any, logic moves the bar.

Death: The cessation of 'corporeal' existence (wow. I don't have time to go into this, but, there is something strange in this thinking).

I'll be back to this at some point, and probably over time. And, I'll try to get around to setting up a spot in the margin for this series. 
  Ah, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice...trying to get around the net

I started at The Disney Blog: Pan Graphic Novel after I linked to John Frost's link in the comments below, and found him to be a super-Disney fan.

Well, the first link on his site, which I went to last, leads to, okay, not directly leads to, Anne Frank Conquers the Moon Nazis - a webcomic for discerning tastes., which turned out to be a hoot.

John's link leads to what I'll admit is a fun Mickey Mouse parody logo at Excelsiorstudios.net. Which in some ways reminds me of a poster from 35 - 40 years ago; blacklight poster, if memory serves. "Ain't gonna work on dizzy's farm no more"...Sorry, I give up looking for it. I'm tired of re-living my youth thru posters.

While looking for the specific, I did find some neat back alleys: Psychotron psychedelic posters, original 60's,70's and modern reproductions of psychedelic posters and art work

I always wanted the top one when I was a kid, Blacklight.

Ah, an educational site, Psychedelic '60s: Home Page.

Between my brother and I, we owned a fair amount of these, Blacklight Posters Posters.

Cooler than Haight Ashbury is now, S.F.Heart Hippie Links

Okay, this is far enough down this path, weedworld Readers Gallery (maybe it'll eventually download, I don't know).

That is by the way, something I noticed that a lot of these sites (mostly the ones that never opened, and I didn't bother to link) had in common - poor speed. I guess hippies don't pay for bandwidth. 
  Thanks, but I think you have the wrong guy

This is an open post to - MR Peter Abba (private box: peter_abba@myway.com), Banking Operations, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, and MR Tunde Owolabi, Manager of Bills/Exchange at the Foreign Operations Department of Ecobank Nigeria Plc -

Thank you for your kind consideration. However, I regret to inform you that I am not the person you may think I am. No one I know, and especially no relatives, have died in plane or car crashes in Africa at any time, but certainly not w/in the past 10 years. Further, I doubt that even if you added up all the wealth in my extended family, we would still not have the amount of funds to which you refer. So, while I'd like to have the funds, I feel that I can not, in all honesty, accept them.

Lastly, I'm not stupid enough to reply to your emails, and certainly will not be providing you w/ any financial information, what so ever.

Gentlemen, if you would kindly quit emailing me this same offer, over and over, year after year, I would be most appreciative. In fact, I must confess that I resent the fact that when I set up my email filters to blacklist your email addresses, you insist on randomly changing your addresses. Please desist.

I am sure that you can find Plenty of idiots to respond to your con jobs, so I am unsure as to why you keep sending me these offers in the face of my repeated rejections.

In closing, I am sincerely hopeful that the legal authorities will at some point find you. Perhaps they will arrange for you to be taken into custody as financial terrorists, in which case you could be handed over to the US military and placed in one of our secret prisons.

Rick Pietz 
  Mea Culpas for not posting more yesterday

Probably would have posted more yesterday, but me and the Pacifier took some chicks to the movies, and went back to their place after, and well, hung out.

Okay. Yeah, the chicks were a little young. Okay. Eight and eleven years old, and they are the Pacifier's daughters.

The Wife had left me a note that we had to use our four free passes or they would have expired yesterday. So, we wanted to see the Spider-Man II, but we couldn't use the free passes for new releases, so we saw "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)". It was a good movie. I liked the pace better this time than I did in the second movie. And what they can do w/ CGI and special effects these days, does make it look like magic 'works'.

For any of you movie producers out there, who read this blog, may I suggest...Just f'n unreal. I was going to say that I'd like to see someone make a movie of "A Wrinkle In Time", and while I'm looking for the book site to link, I find The Wonderful World of Disney - A Wrinkle In Time (a review at "Wrinkle in Time, A" (2003) (mini)). It aired two months ago!!

I didn't even know it was on. I guess that happens when you don't watch much commercial programming to begin with, and especially the broadcast networks. I probably would not have had the patience to sit through the airing, anyway. Once they'd gone to their second batch of commercials, I'd 'a got bored and flipped to C-SPAN, and forgot to come back to the movie for 20 or 30 mins at a time. Maybe I'll get a chance to see it on DVD w/o interruption sometime. I don't know though, in spite of what the lone reviewer says, if Disney made it, I'm dubious. 
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
  The Blogging of the President: 2004

Stirling Newberry, over at The Blogging of the President: 2004 writes an excellent piece analyzing "The Wikipedia Wars". Over at Wikipedia, he explains:
The essential driving reason for the change came from the parts of the community where a large number of people work on articles, and occasionally a few people decide to stonewall by "reverting" articles by removing edits. This "edit wars" lead to hard feelings, particularly when many are working in good faith, and a few are not. However, wiki is a diverse place. While many controversial topics that need communalization - people finding a consensus view that everyone can at least bear - there are many which are long running arguments between zealous adherents of one view, and more diverse disciplined approaches. In these, the roles are reversed. The reverters are generally seeking to protect long built up work from those who wish to come in and scribble their point of view. This difference - that the largest and most active section of wiki, and arguably its most important social function is completely the reverse of the majority of articles and information on wiki means that the new stance will take a period of time to work to a new equilibrium.

It is a vast experiment in how community knowledge works, it is a radical experiment, and will force wiki to either formally adhere to its own principles, as disputes multiply - or it will become a place where "let's all play nice in the sand box" types destroy the vitality of the community and impose, instead a mobocracy, where which ever numerically superior point of view gets the upper hand forces "consensus" their way.

It is a microcosm of American
Which is a comparison I don't think I would have made had I even known the wars were going on. But, it fits in well with what I was taught concerning group dynamics and with what I'm seeing on the web in various areas.

He concludes:
"But that is merely this incarnation. In a larger sense it is a conflict that will never go away, because it rests on different views of what a stable solution looks like. The desire to have one size fits all rules that end overt conflict, is necessarily at variance with those who want to work to the best possible outcome in every single case. Neither side has a monopoly on sanity - one must both let sleeping dogs lie sometimes, and pursue the truth whereever it takes you on the other.

The key is whether those who disrupt can gain control with the acquiecence of those who demand peace. A working political system puts the onus on those who disrupt to prove that their case is urgent enough to require the suspension or compression of normal discourse. And wikipedia - a great experiment in consensus democracy - has set off the trigger, by forcing what had been done informally and in a decentralized manner, to be done more formally and in a more centralized system.

We should be watching how it turns out, it will say a great deal about how the direction of the country is going."
Sounds like complexity, chaos, emerging properties and politics rolled into one.

I like Wikipedia. And maybe I'll have to go back occassionaly and check on how the wars are going. Hell, I think I will use them a little more often now that I've gone through some of their Physics and Philosophy sections. 

I saw this in an article somewhere else, but it had only one photo. This site, Astrobiology Magazine :: Search for Life in the Universe, which looks very interesting in its own right, has this article, with several photos included, Science and Art in Nanoworld :
"To showcase imaginative examples, new images were taken by Ghim Wei Ho, a PhD student studying nanotechnology at Cambridge University. She has named some of her best photographs nanobouquet, nanotrees, and nanoflower because of their curious similarity to familiar organic structures such as flower-heads and tiny growing trees.

Ghim Wei's work involves making new types of materials based on nanotechnology and these flowers are an example of such a new material. Here, nanometer scale wires (about one thousandth the diameter of a human hair) of a silicon-carbon material (silicon carbide) are grown from tiny droplets of a liquid metal (Gallium) on a silicon surface, like the chips inside home computers.

The wires grow as a gas containing methane flows over the surface. The gas reacts at the surface of the droplets and condenses to form the wires. By changing the temperature and pressure of the growth process the wires can be controllably fused together in a natural process to form a range of new structures including these flower-like materials."
Though really, it should be no surprise that at the nano level things look so organic. Biology has operated at the Nano-level from the beginning, and then add to that Complexity and Chaos theory, well, you'd sort have to expect a sort of repetition as scales change.

Anyway, here's a cool little collection of links on related subjects Complexity, Self Adaptive Complex Systems, and Chaos Theory, and it quotes one of my favorite popular science writers:
"'Where chaos begins, classical science stops. For as long as the world has had physicists inquiring into the laws of nature, it has suffered a special ignorance about disorder in the atmosphere, in the fluctuations of the wildlife populations, in the oscillations of the heart and the brain. The irregular side of nature, the discontinuous and erratic side -- these have been puzzles to science, or worse, monstrosities.'

-- James Gleick in Chaos-Making a New Science"
Fun stuff. 
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
  Speed and Shorty come by for a visit (it's a Rick Eddy kind'a thing)

Ya' know, there's a reason I like livin' up here. Most of the time, at least 'til tourist season, life's kind of slow. And hell, during the season, ya' only got to work so hard to get what you need. Kind of a nice place to be. But sometimes, ya' gotta' worry about the locals.

Speed came by tonight. He's been stayin' here off and on for a while. Nice young guy, most of the time. But, ya' know, it's kind of like, yeah, you do all right 'round here, but in the city' they're gonna eat your ass up.

So, Speed came by tonight, and well, he brought Shorty (yeah, he's still alive) w/ him. I only heard 'em 'cause the dogs were in the lower forty fightin' over a 'possum, and stopped long enough to let me know they were worried someone was close who might steal their kill.

Naah, I don't think the dogs did it for my benefit, like to let me know, they just wanted to scare Speed and Shorty off the kill. Selfish bastards, one and all.

You know, I don't think Speed expected to find me here. Probably, he figured I'd gone huntin' tourist beer and/or tourist pussy, and it might of been true, 'ceptin I had a case extra from last night, the women I'd seen drive up from the city for the weekend, seemed to have to work too hard to get themselves out of their SUVs. Bad sign, that.

Point is, me and Speed, well it's an interesting thing, my relationship w/ Speed. He's a good guy, and a smart guy most of the time, or you'd think. Plenty 'book smart', but, you know how some people just don't 'get it'.

Well, Speed's got a few problems, and one of them is that he figures if he believes it's true, it's true. And hell, I don't even think he's republican. Hell, I don't suspect he's ever even thought about votin'. Man don't understand the value of sellin' his vote...

You know, as far as I know, I don't know much.

But, it's like tonight's a good example. He came by to drop off some stuff, but he makes a big deal about picking up a 'flimsy' blanket. Yeah, right, you're bringin' clothes in, but you're takin' a blanket out...

Man, I taught him that.

Somewhere years ago, I told him how you get good whiskey into ball games and concerts (any whiskey you get in qualifies as 'good whiskey'). You could probably get bombs in, so consider this my bit for 'homeland security'.

Getting something past the screeners is easy. You just have to 'present' the right picture, more important, man, give 'em something to check, so they don't check everything. Taint hard. Take a bottle of whiskey (you know, whatever) or pipe bomb, and stick it in the sleeve of a stiff or bulky or both (best) jacket, so that the hole of the sleeve (button the damn thing if necessary), is smaller in diameter than what you are smuggling (yeah, technically this qualifies as smuggling), wrap the body of the jacket around the sleeve to hide the obvious lines of fabric tension due to gravity, sling it over your back, and walk through the gates. Shit man, this works. and I'm aint even CIA trained.

But, the story is, I'm the one who taught Speed. I taught Speed the 'sleeve trick', and like he didn't get it. He got the sleeve trick, he just didn't seem to make that mental leap, that I'd figure a 'stiff' 'flimsy' blanket, might not be a 'blanket'.

I don't know, maybe it was the chemicals in the water, or maybe, god bless his soul, he's just a might touched. So, as Speed is leaving, he's carrying his 'flimsy' blanket, but it looks to me, like he thinks I'm too dumb to see that the blanket aint even 'flimsy'. Matter a fact, he's holding the folds the wrong way, and I can see lines for something hidin' in the folds. At first I'm worried, you know, a weapon. But, looks more like a sack of, hell, I don't know...Like maybe a heavy sack of, hell I don't know...some stiff object, but on the other hand...

So, it gets more peculiar, he drops something on the way out the door, and Shorty (yeah, Shorty is still alive) reacts quick to pick up the object, and considering that Shorty ain't never been none too quick to do much for anyone, 'ceptin' it works for him, well...

Now, I could'a, maybe, said, 'show me what's in the blanket', but you know, it's summer season, and I don't really want a' know.

Go away. I know where there's some good beer, and you're in the way. 'Sides, I didn't really want whatever it is in the cabin...Go Figure. 
  Damn it. I always hate when I'm still there at closing time.

This 'just in': Whiskey Bar: Last Call. Which is, I guess, okay, but I do sort of feel partially responsible (?), though I tend not to comment in a thread beyound, say, the 21st. I figure, though I occassionally do read threads longer, that after a while, the gems in the comment section become rare, and the two sided banter begins to dominate.

And I think many people lack my patience. If you're not in the first ten comments, you don't get read. Certainly not if your number fifty,unless it's the last posted comment. Figure five or six back, add that to the first five or six, and I think that's probably more comments than most people read.

To press Billmon's analogy too even greater service, it's like sitting at a crowded grouping of 6 to 7 tables of people, and realizing that everybody is a talking at once, in isolated conversations, and not listening to the response of the person their speaking to. And worse, hearing the noise level rise as everyone tries to make their point above the din.

At some point, I tend to wander away from the tables and over to the bar. There is a certain value to intimacy, and it's hard to find at an overly crowded bar.

I'll still drop in. Thanks.

Oh, and his point about posting "the unabridged lyrics of old rock 'n roll songs", made me realize that I did slip and posted the lyrics of I'm Proud to be an American in its entirety in a previous post. Many mea culpas. I'll be happy to pay the royalties on the 100 people that may have read that post if they'll send me the rate and an address. And I'll edit the song to an acceptable (legal) level w/in the post in the next few days. 
  A different view of the early handover of power

Now I confess, my first thought on the 'early handover of a Iraqi "sovereignty"', was that it was a brilliant move. In fact, I said it seemed too smart to have come from the White House.

For a very different and well articulated take on the transfer, try this from TomDispatch, A cut-and-run transition:
"That was in keeping with the moment. And momentary it was. An unannounced five-minute, 'furtive' ceremony, two days early, on half an hour's notice, in a 'nondescript room' in the new Iraqi prime minister's office, under a blanket of security, with snipers on adjoining rooftops in the heavily fortified Green Zone, 'before only a handful of Iraqi and U.S. officials and journalists.' A few quick, polite lies (L. Paul Bremer III: 'I have confidence that the Iraqi government is ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead'), a few seconds of polite clapping by the attendees. That was it. Sovereignty transferred. The end.

Other than L. Paul Bremer, not a significant American official was in sight, even though the President, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, and Secretary of State were all in Turkey, not 90 minutes away. There were no representatives from other governments. No flags. No bands. No cheering crowds. No marching troops. No hoopla. Nothing at all. And two hours later, Bremer, the erstwhile viceroy of Baghdad, his suits and desert boots packed away, was on a C-130 out of the country.

Talk about 'cutting and running,' he didn't even stick around the extra five hours for the swearing in of the new interim administration. That's not a matter of catching a flight, but of flight itself. I'm sure Bremer is already heaving a sigh of relief and looking forward, as Time magazine tells us, to enrolling in 'the Academy of Cuisine in Washington.' As for the 'psychological boost' provided by the transfer of sovereignty, Prime Minister Allawi and friends are not likely to be its recipients. It looks as if the Bush administration engaged in a game of chicken with a motley group of insurgents and rebels in urban Iraq -- and at the edge of what suddenly looked like a cliff, the Bush administration flinched first.

This is a victory, certainly, but not for Bush & Co. or for their plan to, as they like to say, put "an Iraqi face" on Iraq. It may be spun here as a brilliant stratagem to outflank the Iraqi insurgency, or as Carol Williams and Alissa Rubin of the Los Angeles Times put it, a "ploy to pre-empt disruptions," or as proof that the interim administration was ready ahead of schedule, but the word that most fits the moment is actually humiliation. Ignominious humiliation."
Well, I must say, I hadn't looked at it like that, but it appears to be a valid alternative way to look at the events.

And then there's this:
At bottom, Bush's neocon strategists profoundly misunderstood the nature of American power; too many war movies in childhood perhaps, but they believed their own propaganda about the ability of high-tech military power to pacify and reorganize the world. They simply had no idea how hard it was for a giant to stand alone and on one foot, while mites, poorly armed, scurried around below making mischief and causing havoc.

It's hard to believe that, in such a brief span, we've gone down the imperial rabbit hole and out the other side of who knows what, so that when the moment that would validate everything came in Iraq, though it was morning, it had the feel of the dead of night. Who would have believed that the administration which declared, in Greta Garbo's famous phrase, "I vant to be alone," would find itself so profoundly alone -- and undoubtedly fearful.

Be careful what you wish for, they say. The Bush administration talked the talk, but when it came to the walk, they bogged down on only the second stop in their armed stroll across our planet, and their representative in occupied Iraq had to make a mad dash for the exits.
Well, I'm still not entirely convinced, but again, an interesting filter. On the otherhand, if true, what does it mean? I'm not yet ready to put Iraq into the 'loss' column. Not because I think we should ever have fought the Baby Bush War, but now that we're there, let's do at least try to save some face, we need to hold out for a "peace with honour". I'd hope for better, but...

And than Tom points us to this little tidbit:Telegraph: Bush tours through the deserted streets of EuropeBy Alec Russell in Turkey.
From Co Clare's cliffs to the Anatolian plain; from medieval battlements to Ottoman minarets; from the slate grey Atlantic to the Golden Horn; from armoured cars on deserted streets to, er, armoured cars on deserted streets.

President George W Bush took in the full East-West sweep of Europe this weekend, travelling from the mouth of the Shannon to the Bosphorus via Ankara in less than 24 hours. He also appeared to have fostered a rare unanimity on the streets of two of Europe's geographical extremes.

Hours after anti-Bush Irish demonstrators outwitted the Garda and delayed the president's plans, Turkish police in Ankara clashed with protesters trying to break through a barricade outside Mr Bush's hotel.

The only difference was the colour of the armoured cars: in Ireland they were khaki; in Ankara and Istanbul they were black.

Otherwise the impression from the motorcade was the same: anti-Bush graffiti, lines of armed policemen, roadblocks, and emptied roads."
Yeah, that I have noticed. It's almost a totally surreal existance. I don't ever remember a president that so many of our allies' citizens hate and fear. Or a president who looks so weak. At least get him a 'pope-mobile', if that's what it takes for him to feel safe. I mean it's embarrassing watching our president have to hide from everybody. It's sad, pathetic, and indeed, lonely, I'm sure. Poor Baby Bush.

That's crap. I doubt he cares. He probably doesn't really want the common, lazy people of the masses around him.

GLOCOM Platform - Opinions:
"At Harvard Business School, thirty years ago, George Bush was a student of mine. I still vividly remember him. In my class, he declared that 'people are poor because they are lazy.' He was opposed to labor unions, social security, environmental protection, Medicare, and public schools. To him, the antitrust watch dog, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Securities Exchange Commission were unnecessary hindrances to 'free market competition.' To him, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was 'socialism.' Recently, President Bush's Federal Appeals Court Nominee, California's Supreme Court Justice Janice Brown, repeated the same broadside at her Senate hearing. She knew that her pronouncement would please President Bush and Karl Rove and their Senators. President Bush and his brain, Karl Rove, are leading a radical revolution of destroying all the democratic political, social, judiciary, and economic institutions that both Democrats and moderate Republicans had built together since Roosevelt's New Deal."
So, maybe all is fine in Baby Bush world after all. These 'people' (citizens at home and abroad) aren't really 'his kind of people', anyway.
  The VAST Faith Based Conspiracy, or why liberals are evil

I was making my round of blogs, and at Orcinus, David Neiwert cites this passage by Doug Giles: Conservatives and Liberals: Apples and Orgies:
"It-s hard for salt of the earth, hard working, hard playing pro-American types to wrap their minds around why their liberal neighbors hate the U.S. so much. But liberals do, and it's a staple of their worldview's diet. They reflexively root for that which will undo our great land.

As far as the liberals are concerned, the battle is joined ... the war is on. We must recognize the primal nature of the contest, the fundamental loathing the left has for virtually everything that conservatives cherish.

Concerned citizens of our amazing country need to be aware of the fear and loathing of the liberals and meet them head on at the polls, through the media and in the public square."
This reminded me that I had more to say about
What's the Matter with Kansas? : How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by by
Thomas Frank
than the mere mention I did on Sunday. This is what C-SPAN's Book TV has to say:
"Description: Thomas Frank, author of 'What's the Matter with Kansas?,' argues that Republicans have been able to gain the support of large numbers of poor and working class people in America by tapping into their sense of outrage over liberal cultural values. He says that while Republicans almost never act in the economic interest of the working class, they are able to effectively overhype issues like prayer in school and abortion to convince the working class to vote for them. Once in office, says Frank, Republicans accomplish little on the cultural front, but have great successes when it comes to economically aiding the rich. Includes Q&A."
Well, I'm out looking at the various reviews of the book, and the one thing I don't find is anyone commenting on what I found to be the best point he made on BookTV:
The 'Right' has adopted the rhetoric of communist and socialist parties of the 1920s and 30s, but they dropped the main building plank of the argument - economics.
It was, in my mind, a stunning revelation. The communists and the socialists argued that the workers should support them in the face of greedy capitalists who were keeping them poor. The right today argues that everything is an evil plot by the liberals, but they have no explanation for this liberal conspiracy except 'it just is'. In fact, the right is suffering from the influence of the single largest, and most ridiculous of all conspiracy theories. "The liberals do evil because they want to," seems to be the best they can come up w/. At least the early socialist and communist movements could actually provide an explanation for their belief that greedy capitalists were keeping the poor down - GREED. PROFIT. CONTROL. POWER. The right says "liberals hate America", but they can provide no explanation, and sadly, their followers just believe. They believe that liberals are EVIL, just because.

It's a "faith based conspiracy". Liberals just are evil, and no explanation beyound that is needed.

NOTE: I was going to find a few quotes out of the book, or at least the preface or something at it's site on Amazon.com, but I wound up here: Amazon.com: Catalog Guide, and it sucks. I don't want to "sign up". I just want to see those few pages that Amazon used to let me see, the teaser pages. I guess they don't want me dropping by and buying my books through them anymore. 
Monday, June 28, 2004
  China General Information

I've loved China from an early age. I've still never been there, but China will be incredibly important. When the names of your washers/dryers, cars, stereo systems, computers have Chinese names, you'll know it's largely too late. There's nothing you can really do about it. It is indeed that many consumers.

I find the very fact that this site exists,China General Information, as proof that change can happen.
The folks just came back from three weeks in China, and did nothing but rave about the experience. On the otherhand, they admitted to not seeing the country side, and said most of what they were exsposed to was 70 - 80 story buildings and great hotels.

And to an extent, this is good.

The folks also brought me a copy of -:| CHINA TODAY |:-. This is the kind of present I like.

It presents a country that is well aware of the difficulties that lie ahead, and a fairly reasoned set of policy options which recognize the reality of many of the difficulties ahead, and appear to recognize the necessity of distributing the increased prosperity across geography and classes.

I don't know the credibility of the publication, but it's a good read. And all I've done is read the first thirty-some odd pages.

You know, from reading this, it looks like China becomes more popularly representative while we become more restrictive. Odd turn of events, if true... 
  Brilliant post here This post would have been pithy and deep, however we have lightening in the area. So, your job is to imagine just how brilliant I would have been had an electric storm not have interfered. I'm sorry for your loss.

Disconnecting now... 
  Now this is an unscripted interview: Who screwed up?

Who let him get in front of an interviewer that wanted answers?! But via lies.com comes a link to this: lies.com � The Carole Coleman Interview. It's eleven minutes of "let me finish answering your questions."

I don't have much more to say. I think this is one of those times where everybody can watch and decide for themselves. 
  A little Science Monday

My KurzweilAI.net newsletter did not arrive, and I really have a couple of resumes to send out. So here is a 'science' post, and I've found this other great article, that deserves some time: Government Computer News (GCN) daily news -- federal, state and local government technology; The Futurist: The Intelligent Internet that I'll try to revisit tonight. But don't wait on me, this is some cool info, including their economic forecasting methodology for future trends. The cool lists of things coming to market and the prediction for 'next generation technologies', alone makes it worth the read.

For now, this will have to do as Science Monday:ZPEnergy.com - WHAT IS THE UNIVERSE MADE OF?Abstract
Ordinary matter made from real on-mass-shell lepto-quark fermions and gauge force bosons only accounts for approximately 4% of all the large-scale stuff of our universe, which may be one of a infinity of parallel universes in hyperspace that we call "Super Cosmos."

I propose that the remaining 96% of our universe consists of two forms of partially coherent exotic vacuum dominated by a condensate of bound virtual electron-positron pairs.

Einstein's gravity emerges from the variations in the macro-quantum coherent phase field of the condensate. This condensate is the inflation field in the large-scale cosmological limit. Both dark energy and dark matter are simply residual total zero point energy densities that emerge from the vacuum condensate's intensity variations.

Approximately 73% is anti-gravitating zero point "dark energy" density with equal and opposite negative pressure that is causing our universe to accelerate in its expansion rate.

The remaining gravitating 23%, called "dark matter," is also zero point energy density with equal and opposite positive pressure found concentrated in large-scale structures like the galactic halo that prevents our solar system from escaping into inter-galactic space.

Astrophysical scale geon structures of w = -1 dark matter simulate w = 0 CDM in terms of their gravity lensing. The electron, as a Bohm "hidden variable" on the micro-scale for example, is a spatially extended structure whose repulsive self-electric charge, Casimir force and repulsive spin rotation are balanced by the strong short-range zero point energy induced gravity from its exotic vacuum core.

The electron, and the quarks, shrink in size, up to a certain minimum, when hit with large momentum scattering transfers from strong space warping that makes their surface areas small compared to what they would be in flat space for a given radial distance.

An experimental appendix by Ken Shoulders on "exotic vacuum objects" or "EVO" charged geons made from large numbers of electrons glued together by zero point energy is included. The zero point force holding as many as one hundred billion electrons together is not the QED Casimir force, which may even be repulsive, but is the entirely different strong short-range gravity force induced by the zero point energy by the entirely different process of Einstein's general relativity omitted from the flat space-time QED calculations. These EVOs show anomalous motions and energies that seem to be examples of Alcubierre's "warp drive" and "cold fusion" respectively.
Interesting. I have no where near the training to critique the statements, but I have an idea of what he is saying.

I wanted to point real quick to this: "our universe, which may be one of a infinity of parallel universes in hyperspace that we call "Super Cosmos."" I like the definition, but I still like "omni-verse" as a term for the same concept, and I think it includes more of what 'exists'.

  Damn Liberal Oil Executives

I was reading the AJC yesterday, the one day of the week that I get my news primarily from the print media. Well, someone named Douglas MacKinnon.

Here it is; it was a reprint of an LATimes article, To Boldly Get Out of Here Is a Good Idea. This is the line that caught my attention:
"The second interesting news item came from the lips of Lord Ron Oxburgh, chairman of the Shell Group of Companies, who stated that he was 'really very worried for the planet.' Politics and varied views of global warming aside, Lord Oxburgh's opinion would seem to carry some weight on this subject. In an interview with the Guardian last week, he discussed the need to capture emissions of carbon dioxide and store them underground - a technique called 'carbon sequestration.' Oxburgh maintained that 'sequestration is difficult, but if we don't have sequestration, then I see very little hope for the world.'"
I knew there was growing acceptance of Global Warming in some circles of the petroleum industry (this link from OPEC.Org, so use your own judgement in reference to the 'facts'), but the head of Shell?! That's big.

From the Guardian Unlimited came an interview, which included these comments, 'I'm really very worried for the planet':
Oxburgh - strictly The Lord Oxburgh (he is a crossbench peer in the House of Lords and chairs its science and technology select committee) - was catapulted into his new role in March, replacing the ousted Philip Watts. As non-executive chairman of the UK half of the group, he is excused day-to-day running of the business, but is expected to steer it towards calmer waters, rebuilding city and public confidence along the way. Plans for the capital's latest revolving restaurant will have to wait.
And then these comments:
Attractive to oil companies and no doubt music to the ears of Shell shareholders, but to environmentalists who believe energy prospectors should be switching their attention to renewables, this increasingly desperate search for more hydrocarbons to satisfy our fossil fuel fix is a funeral dirge.

"The other major consideration that we have to take into account is the greenhouse effect and global warming," he admits.

We are on delicate territory here. Although Shell was one of the first oil companies to acknowledge the threat of climate change and has since pledged to cut its own emissions, public statements on the issue are carefully worded. Very carefully worded, and Oxburgh is more direct than the PR people further down the building might appreciate.

"No one can be comfortable at the prospect of continuing to pump out the amounts of carbon dioxide that we are at present," he says. "People are going to go on allowing this atmospheric carbon dioxide to build up, with consequences that we really can't predict, but are probably not good."

He believes the solution is something called sequestration, in which carbon dioxide from cars and power stations is captured and stored. "Sequestration is difficult," he says. "But if we don't have sequestration I see very little hope for the world."

It's an astonishing admission from someone - non-executive or not - at the head of one of the world's largest fossil fuel companies. The Norwegian company Statoil has been sequestering carbon dioxide underneath the North Sea for several years, but that is relatively pure gas released from a natural source nearby. Devising the technology to grab the gas from engine or boiler exhaust streams and finding the billions of pounds needed to pipe millions of tons offshore is another matter entirely.

"You might be right, the timescale might be impossible," he says. "In which case I'm really very worried for the planet." Oxburgh is unrepentant: "You can't slip a piece of paper between David King [the government's chief science adviser who said climate change was a bigger threat than terrorism] and me on this position."
So, if the head of one of the biggest oil companies on the planet thinks that "climate change was a bigger threat than terrorism", do you think it's based on 'Sound Science'?

Anyway, somehow, I do feel a little more hopeful to see Lord Oxburgh saying this to the media. Now, how quick change will come, or how much money Shell spends on sequestration and other 'environmental' activities will be interesting to watch.
  What would Lincoln do?

Catching up on my news letters this morning, and found TomDispatch reviewing some of his mail, and found this TomDispatch:
"Nick Turse, who writes on the military-industrial-entertainment complex for Tomdispatch and is an expert on the matter of war crimes, offered the following comment:
'One hundred and forty-one years ago, the United States was under siege. Not today's alleged siege -- isolated if horrendous attacks that took place years ago and a motley collection of supposed mall-bombers, dirty-bombers and 'enemy combatants' (some of whom appear to have done nothing more than offend the sensibilities of John Ashcroft) -- but a real siege from an army from a breakaway republic to the south marching northward for a showdown. We remember what the Bush administration did after 9/11 -- rushed the Patriot Act through in the dead of night. What you might ask did the Lincoln administration do in the face of this threat?

'We all know Lincoln made liberal (if not wanton) use of his 'war powers' -- did this also mean secret directives allowing for rebels to be subjected to all manner of imprisonment, degradation, or torture? No. What Lincoln did was commission legal scholar Francis Lieber to produce the first modern codified set of laws of war which were issued as U.S. Army general orders and became the foundation for modern international humanitarian law.

'In the face of the greatest internal security challenge the U.S. has ever faced, a comprehensive legal code was issued that plainly and unequivocally set forth the standards by which American troops were to act, including the following axioms: 'Military necessity does not admit cruelty. nor torture to extort confessions'; 'A prisoner of war is subject to no punishment for being a public enemy, nor is any revenge wreaked upon him by intentional infliction of any suffering, or disgrace, by cruel imprisonment, want of food, mutilation, death or any barbarity'; and 'Prisoners of war are subject to confinement and imprisonment, but they are to be subjected to no other intentional suffering or indignity. ..' While these standards were not altruistic in origin, their pragmatism was still rooted in a powerful sense of morality and humanity and a realization that to protect the safety and dignity of one's own personnel, one must extend the same basic human rights to one's enemies."
See, that's the military I thought I was in, and that's the level of honourable behavior and treatment of prisoners that everyone, the whole world, should be able to take for granted from the US military.

Further in the same dispatch comes this 'exchange':
A reader sent in what he considers "the crucial quote" in the presidential green-lighting of all "necessary" acts in the "war on terror." And indeed, though I missed this one, it is an exceedingly public wink-and-nod to assassination and other acts of every sort, coming as it did inthe President's State of the Union address in late January 2003, on the very eve of war with Iraq:
"All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way -- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies. (Applause.)"
The reader adds:
"Everybody knew what he meant and the Congress of the United States applauded the president's boast about murdering people in other countries without evidence, without trial, without even knowing if they were the right people being killed in a car by a remote-controlled drone. That's when it really started, when permission for this came from the very top, ratified by a voice vote of the congress."
He also points out that, at the time, most coverage ignored these lines with the honorable exception of columnist and JFK biographer Richard Reeves, who wrote A Foolish President Brags About Assassination on the subject.

Another reader sent in the following quote to give a little historical ballast to the discussion. This was evidently what passed for a joke in the eyes of former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, who didn't bother with legal briefs when he had crimes on the brain: "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." (the New York Times, Oct. 28, 1973)
Yeah, that is what it looks like. Proud illegal acts.

I think this administration has watched "The Godfather", I & II, so many times, they now think Baby Bush is Michael Corleone. And, hey, maybe he is that ruthless, but the results so far demonstrate that he lack's Michael Corleone's abilities in thinking and strategy, and he lacks Michael Corleone's sense of honour. Baby Bush has no 'honour'. 
Sunday, June 27, 2004
  Sunday night blogging

As usual I find Sponge Bob Square Pants, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Book TV.org normally make up my viewing habits. On Book TV today we had "Battle Ready" by
Tom Clancy and Tony Zinni
. They were interviewed elsewhere in the past few weeks, but this is the best I've seen. And, it seems to lend credence to the idea that many people are jumping ship, and telling stories. Baby Bush' administration is springing so many leaks, I don't imagine it can float four more years. But than, the damage done guarantees alot of the right people the profits they deserve.

But there was also "What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America": by Thomas Frank. He does a great job of arguing against the 'liberal' demon.

"UCLA Debate on the Spirit and Nature of Science" by Jeffrey Schwartz v. Michael Shermer was excellent.
Description: Jeffery Schwartz and Michael Shermer debate the limits of science in addressing spiritual questions. Michael Shermer argues that such issues will either eventually be addressable using conventional, materialistic scientific thinking or will remain a mystery that science cannot address. Going beyond material explanations, he says, is not the answer. Jeffrey Schwartz argues that quantum physics has paved the way for a new way of looking at this question and says that his own work has demonstrated that material entities like the brain are influenced by non-material forces. This discussion was part one of a larger debate on the scope of science organized and hosted by the Veritas Forum at UCLA. Part two of the debate on the question of intelligent design (with William Dembski and Niall Shanks) will air separately. Includes Q&A."
Which is a great discussion, but I was not able to watch all of it. From what I watched, Shermer, though I ultimately disagree w/ him and his postion, makes an excellent set of arguments. 
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