God tells me to copy and paste, so you can't stop me. -- Kate

"You know, I could run for governor, but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business ..." -- G.W. Bush

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. -- Galileo Galilei

Friday, May 28, 2004

This is from Atrios. I haven’t registered with Washington Post so I can’t copy directly from their website.

Rule of Law
Some allies of the Department of Homeland Security within the Bush administration and members of Congress criticized Attorney General John D. Ashcroft yesterday for issuing terrorist threat warnings at a news conference on Wednesday, contending he failed to coordinate the information with the White House and with Homeland Security, which has the job of releasing threat warnings.
. . .
Under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and Bush administration rules, only the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can publicly issue threat warnings, and they must be approved in a complex interagency process involving the White House. Administration officials sympathetic to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said he was not informed Ashcroft was going to characterize the threat in that way -- an assertion that Justice officials deny.

Now wasn’t this kind of stuff supposed to be avoided by the creation of Dept of Homeland Security? All these guys are supposed to be playing well together now. The government dumped tons of money and energy into getting different groups to coordinate and see how well they don’t work together.

Feeling safer now??

I finally thought to enable comments. I decided to open the comment only to people who register with Blogger. Normally I don’t like when I have to register to use things but I’ve heard that people will sometimes leave annoying comments and advertisements in the comment area of blogs. I don’t want that. Please don’t leave garbage on my blog, that’s my job.

Do leave a message though. I’d love to know if anybody reads this. My next project is to set up a counter so I can see if anybody has visited.

BTW, does anybody know if Blogger still has a listing of blogs with recent posts? They used to have it on the login page but they don’t have it there any more.

James Cook and the Transit of Venus
"At 2 pm got under sail and put to sea having on board 94 persons," Cook noted in his log.

The ship's young naturalist Joseph Banks was more romantic: "We took our leave of Europe for heaven alone knows how long, perhaps for Ever," he wrote.

Like I said yesterday, journals, diaries, recording thoughts and activities isn’t new just the way we record them now is new. Years ago it was paper journals, diaries, ship’s logs, etc.. Now we have floppy disks and CD-ROMs.

Today we read first-person accounts of pioneers settling in new lands, explorers traveling to the unknown. Imagine people in 100 years, maybe your great-great-great-great-great grand child, learning about history by reading your thoughts of today’s events and inventions.

The sad part is that all the work, all the writing, could disappear so much easier than paper.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

I took a break yesterday. I was going to post earlier today but could not login to Blogger. Very annoying. I could not decide on what to write about either, so much is going on and I did not want to just keep rehashing what everybody was writing about. Add that I sprained the heck out of my wrist earlier in the week that it hurt too much to type. Boy, am I glad that I did it to my left wrist since I am a righty. Of couse you know that most typing is done with the left hand so it made typing a pain, literally. Drugs are good, give me an anti-inflammatory pain-killer, yeah!!.

Now I want to make up for missing yesterday. It felt kind of weird not blogging yesterday but pain overrode the need to blog. Today I saw this article and now I have to blog.

For Some, the Blogging Never Stops
Blogging is a pastime for many, even a livelihood for a few. For some, it becomes an obsession. Such bloggers often feel compelled to write several times daily and feel anxious if they don't keep up. As they spend more time hunkered over their computers, they neglect family, friends and jobs. They blog at home, at work and on the road.
. . .
Sometimes, too, the realization that no one is reading sets in. A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few. By Jupiter Research's estimate, only 4 percent of online users read blogs.

What is wrong with these people? I do not know why chat rooms are more popular than blogs. Blogging is much more fun, especially when your wrist does not hurt.

Where some frequent bloggers might label themselves merely ardent, Mr. Pierce is more realistic. "I wouldn't call it dedicated, I would call it a problem," he said. "If this were beer, I'd be an alcoholic."

Blogging, tastes great and is less filling. Not a lot of exercising going on while blogging though.
A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few. By Jupiter Research's estimate, only 4 percent of online users read blogs.

I do not agree with this statement. Many people used to write journal and diaries, that’s how we know so much of what life was like to move to the New World and to move out West among other things. Pilgrims and settlers wrote all the time.

Next topic.

What does your hair say about you?

I just thought that this was a cool idea for a museum to have an exhibit of. From now on, I will look differently at people who shave their heads.
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Hair speaks volumes about an individual, revealing ethnic origin, environment, diet and even lifestyle, scientists said Wednesday.

Although like fingernails and toenails the hair itself is dead, it acts like an Arctic ice core, trapping within its physical and chemical structure an accurate record of whatever has been ingested or applied to it externally.

"Your hair tells what you eat, where you live, your lifestyle and habits," said Emma Freeman from London's Natural History Museum. "Your hair is what you do."

It can tell if you smoke, drink or take drugs and, growing at 0.3 to 0.5 millimeters a day, it keeps a record for months if not years -- which is why some people taking illegal substances shave their heads.

Because different races have different hair structures, analysis can also tell ethnic origin. But it cannot reveal sex.

Starting Saturday and running through September the museum is opening to the public an exhibition detailing the story of hair.

"This tells the incredible biology of hair and the place of hair in different cultures," Freeman said.
The average person has up to 150,000 hairs on the head and a single strand can support 3.5 ounces in weight.

A whole head of hair could in theory support the weight of two African elephants.

African hair grows more slowly and is more fragile than European hair, but Asian hair grows the fastest and has the greatest elasticity.

Asian people also are ahead when it comes to keeping their hair, with Africans and Europeans more prone to balding.

Next topic.

I wrote about this a month or two ago in my other blog. (I have not been good about my other blog, I’ve let it go my the wayside since I started this one. All I can say is, “God told me to:”) :-)

This is a new article about the phenomenon. They just started a wireless internet in the Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia and I have wondered if anyone has taken advantage. Maybe one of these days I’ll check it out. Noooo, I'm not going to check it out that way.

'Toothing' craze goes underground
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- British commuters take note -- the respectable person sitting next to you on the train fumbling with their cell phone might be a "toother" looking for sex with a stranger.

"Toothing" is a new craze where strangers on trains, buses, in bars and even supermarkets hook up for illicit meetings using messages sent via the latest in phone technology.

"Toothing is a form of anonymous sex with strangers -- usually on some form of transport or enclosed area such as a conference or training seminar," says the "Beginner's Guide To Toothing" on a Web site dedicated to the pursuit.

It is made possible by Bluetooth technology which allows users to send phone contacts, pictures and messages to other Bluetooth-enabled equipment over a range of about 10 meters (yards).

Users discovered they could send anonymous messages to people they did not know with Bluetooth equipment, spawning a craze dubbed "bluejacking."

Jon, aka "Toothy Toothing" and the guide's author, explained toothing was born after he was "bluejacked" by an unknown girl while commuting to work in London.

After a few days of flirting, she suggested a brief encounter in a station lavatory.

"The meeting wasn't a romantic thing -- it was purely sexual. Barely anything was said," he told Reuters via e-mail.

He said potential toothers begin by sending out a random greeting -- usually "Toothing?"

"If the other party is interested, messages are exchanged until a suitable location is agreed -- usually a public toilet, although there are tales of more adventurous spots such as deserted carriages or staff areas," his guide adds.

Jon, who's in his 20s and works in finance, estimates there could be tens of thousands of toothers from all sorts of professions and lifestyles. Certainly the Web site's message board is busy.

"Any toothing on these trains?" asks one poster about services between Cambridge and London, prompting positive responses from "Dannyboy" and "Zeke."

"I'll be around London Bridge mainline station around 9.45 - 10 a.m. tomorrow if anyone's interested...," another poster called "Boi" wrote hopefully.

While some happily recount their successful encounters, others suggest there are a few teething problems with toothing.

"I tried toothing in Tooting (south London) last night ... not a device to be found," a frustrated "Snowdog" posted sadly.

Although clearly not what the industry had in mind, toothing may lead operators towards similar, more mainstream projects.

Novelty factor

Last month it was reported that a team in Boston had created a service for cell phones called Serendipity, an wireless alternative to online dating.

It allows subscribers to store their personal details and what they want from a partner and when there are enough similarities between two people and they happen to be in the same area, it tells their phones to communicate with each other.

Dario Betti, of the British-based consultancy Ovum, said bluejacking had really taken off, helped by the fact the service was free.

"The element of the unknown, that you are connecting to someone around you that you might not know, it's a novelty factor that is helping it to start," he told Reuters.

If Jon and those who use his forum are right, toothing is certainly livening up life for some bored commuters.

"A lot of my day's taken up with a soul-aching commute into the city, and that just feels like dead time," Jon said.

"Flirting is fun, sex is fun. We're just employing expensive, complex toys to find the most basic form of entertainment."

OK, now it's time to rest the wrist. I just do not learn. I messed it up on Sunday and mowed the lawn on Tuesday and that made it hurt more. So much more that Wednesday I thought for sure that I had broken it. It hurt and there was strange new pain into the back of my hand and into a couple of fingers and my thumb. I still do not learn well, I just keep typing. I mean it this time, I’m done for the day.

Oh BTW, I had it x-rayed and it is not broken. See you tomoarrow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Prison experiment revealed 'descent into hell'
The link is to an interview with Stanford psychologist Professor Philip Zimbardo. He ran an experiment in 1971 with mentally healthy college students. He took a group of people and randomly divided them into guard and prisoner groups to see how they would react. They reacted badly.
PHILIP ZIMBARDO: There is direct parallels. The Stanford prison study was designed to go two weeks. I ended it after six days because it was getting out of control because it was seeing similar things as to what happened in Iraq. By similar things I mean the guards stripping the prisoners naked at any excuse, humiliating them, degrading them, putting bags over their heads, chaining them together, then finally, and this is after just four or five days, the guards are doing homophobic things to the prisoners. I mean the guards are telling them "bend over, you're female camels" to one group, second group of prisoners, they're saying "you're male camels, hump them" and they're laughing because it's a play on words, hump, you know.
. . .
We ended the study, not only because the guards were doing those terrible things, but four of the prisoners who we chose because they were normal and healthy were having emotional breakdowns, had to be sent to student health.

These were mentally healthy people in a reasonably controlled setting; no guns, no bombing, no threat of death.

I bet most of the experiment's participantss don't admit they were part of the experiment.

MICHAEL VINCENT: But at what point will people take responsibility for what has happened in the Abu Ghraib prison? Do you think that the reservists who have been seen in these photos will use, for example, your experiment, your work as an excuse for what they've done, or do you think they should be held accountable?

PHILIP ZIMBARDO: Oh no, no, okay, let me make really one thing clear. I'm not talking about, psychology is not excusiology. What I'm saying is, we can understand what the social psychological processes of transformation were operative in that situation. It does not excuse the behaviour.

I'm saying they were guilty. Guilt is, I'm making a distinction between guilt and blame. That is, in a sense, the model is a public health model. These guys were caught in an epidemic of war, okay, and so they are not the source of the epidemic. The source of the epidemic is whoever put them in harm's way, whoever put, whoever created the war in the first place, and secondly, who did not give them supervision, who created a prison which was veiled in secrecy, not open to lawyers, not open to human rights groups, not open to Amnesty International, not open to family. That secrecy always, always, everywhere invites corruption and these guys are simply carrying out orders.

They are, they will be tried and be guilty. Who should be tried is George Bush. Who should be tried is Rumsfeld. Who should be tried is his assistant, Wolfowitz. Who should be tried is the generals who set up this prison to fail. That's all I'm saying, is we have to start blaming the barrel and not simply saying there are a few bad apples who corrupted the barrel. No, the barrel corrupts most of the people in it and for me that's the barrel of war.

MARK COLVIN: Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University, and you can read more about that 1971 experiment, the famous Stanford prison experiment at www.prisonexp.org.

I just don’t know what to say about Bush’s speech last night but I want to say something. I missed most of it. From what I’ve read this morning, I didn’t miss much. I sounds like he didn’t rely on cliches so much this time.

I do wish Pres Bush would learn to say Abu Ghraib prison correctly though. I’m sure there are young kids would can pronounce it. It would be nice if the ultimate representative of the United States could say it right.

Interesting article and something most people don’t even think about.
Doctors' ties may store bacteria

Doctors may be unwittingly spreading infections through their ties, warn US researchers.

The New York Hospital Queens team found nearly half of the ties worn by medical workers harboured disease-causing bacteria.

The potential for ties to transmit the bacteria to patients must be considered, say the researchers.

Dr Steven Nurkin reported his findings at the a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

The researchers analysed ties worn by physicians, their assistants, medical students and security staff working at their hospital.


Almost half (47.6%) of the ties worn by clinicians were found to harbour bacteria that can cause disease.

This was eight times the odds of ties worn by security staff from the same hospital being infected.

Dr Nurkin said the findings called into question whether wearing a necktie is in the best interest of patients.

He said: "Studies such as this remind us about what we may bring to our patients' bedside.

"Being well dressed adds an aura of professionalism and has been correlated with higher patient confidence.

"Senior physicians and hospital administrators often encourage staff to wear neckties in order to help promote this valuable relationship, but in so doing, they may also be facilitating the spread of infectious organisms."

A spokesman from the British Medical Association said: "Ties are frequently handled but infrequently washed which means they can spread infection.

"Doctors should not have to wear them when seeing patients."

Other clothing

Dr Chris Kibbler, consultant microbiologist at University College London, thought hand hygiene was more important than worrying about clothing.

"There are other items of clothing which are likely to be relevant as well - sleeves for example. So it's difficult to know that your tie itself is more of a problem than your shirt sleeve or your trouser.

"Bearing in mind that we believe hand transmission is the most important and that we can decontaminate our hands between patients, I would rather people concentrated on that far more than worry about their tie - providing they are not daubing it in a wound," he said.

Monday, May 24, 2004

I want to feel that we are helping in Iraq but some days I just can’t.
Indeed, while boosters of the Iraqi invasion delight in the phrase "25 million free Iraqis," if the CPA memo is any indication, this newfound liberty does not include freedom from fear. "Baghdadis have an uneasy sense that they are heading towards civil war," it says. "Sunnis, Shias, and Kurd professionals say that they themselves, friends, and associates are buying weapons fearing for the future." The memo also notes that while Iraqi police "remain too fearful to enforce regulations," they are making a pretty penny as small arms dealers, with the CPA as an unwitting partner. "CPA is ironically driving the weapons market," it reveals. "Iraqi police sell their U.S.-supplied weapons on the black market; they are promptly re-supplied. Interior ministry weapons buy-backs keep the price of arms high."
. . . .
The CPA memo also validates key points of the exceptionally perceptive February 2003 U.S. Army War College report, "Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario." Critical of the U.S. government's insufficient post-war planning, the War College report asserted that "the possibility of the United States winning the war and losing the peace is real and serious." It also cautioned that insufficient attention had been given to the political complexities likely to crop up in post-Saddam Iraq, a scene in which religious and ethnic blocs supported by militias would further complicate a transition to functional democracy in a nation bereft of any pluralistic history.

According to a Washington, D.C.-based senior military official whose responsibilities include Iraq, CPA now estimates there are at least 30 separate militias active in Iraq, and "essentially, [CPA] doesn't know what to do with regard to them -- which is frightening, because CPA's authority essentially ends on June 30, and any Iraqi incentive to get rid of the militias is likely to go away after that date, as sending U.S. troops around Iraq against Iraqis isn't likely to endear the new Iraqi government to its citizens."
Fables of the reconstruction
We really need to hire people who are fiscally responsible. Time for a new administration.

Talking Deficits
A few weeks before the fall election, President Bush is likely to claim a victory, of sorts, over the budget deficit. The good news will be based on October data from the Office of Management and Budget in the executive branch, which, according to widespread estimates, will show red ink of $420 billion to $450 billion at the end of the 2004 fiscal year. When the year started, the budget office had conveniently projected a deficit of $521 billion. Hence, a bookkeeping triumph.

The administration would like to turn the budget deficit into a nonissue in the presidential campaign. But it deserves to be one of the central talking points, even more than it was in 1992, when Ross Perot rightly convinced the nation that deficits were threatening American prosperity.

The Bush deficit is worse than the administration says. And it appears that coming deficits will be worse than previous ones in terms of the impact on Americans' financial security and on national security, for these reasons:

Size. Though the Bush deficit of 2003 was already a record in pure numbers, the administration's defenders often point out that it amounted to only 3.5 percent of gross domestic product. That doesn't sound too bad compared with the modern record of 6 percent set by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. But the size of the deficit now is masked by the Social Security Trust Fund surplus. If you believe that the Social Security surplus would be put to better use by being preserved for future retirees, the Bush deficit should really amount to 5 percent of G.D.P.

And it shows no signs of abating. It took 15 years of hard work and good luck before the Reagan deficits were vanquished. Even Mr. Reagan himself, after initially cutting taxes, raised them repeatedly. Mr. Bush shows no such intention, and that is the reason the current red ink he has unleashed will not stop flowing.

According to former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, Vice President Dick Cheney swatted back questions about the tax cuts by saying, "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." Mr. Reagan's own actions, and the political careers of many politicians since then, prove otherwise.

Cause. The current deficits are unique in the degree to which they appear to be driven by tax cuts. That is terribly important because it shows that they are in large part a result of deliberate policy decisions, not unforeseen events. Last year, after two rounds of Bush tax cuts, taxes fell to a percentage of the economy not seen, even in the deepest recessions, since 1955. In 2004, they are estimated to come in at just over 16 percent of G.D.P., a level last seen in 1951. Even if the economy recovers fully, the country would have to revert to a 1957-era government to break even. In 1957, the Interstate System was just getting under way, and Medicare did not exist, much less a war on terrorism.

Timing. President Reagan's deficit binge occurred decades before the baby boomers' retirement. This one is taking place on the eve. To use an analogy, President Bush's deficits are putting the nation in the position of a couple who take out a long-term mortgage just before retirement.

That's a travesty, because reducing the buildup of government debt is the key to strengthening Social Security. Social Security payments currently soak up about 4 percent of G.D.P. They are projected to rise to a bit more than 6 percent by the mid-2030's. Long before that, however, the Bush tax cuts will crimp incoming revenues by over 2 percent of G.D.P.

In other words, if the tax cuts are not made permanent, as Mr. Bush intends, the revenue from those taxes would cover the increased cost of Social Security, without reducing benefits. (Even in fantasy, no one has yet come up with a way to pay for Medicare.) Clearly, we could not have picked a worse demographic moment to be borrowing money on the next generation's credit.

Foreign Dependence. Over the last few years, an unprecedented 80 percent of the deficit has been financed by foreign governments, institutions and individuals, mainly in the Far East. Over all, 37 percent of United States public debt is in foreign hands, up from 14 percent at the peak of the Reagan deficits in 1983.

A greater reliance on foreign creditors creates further economic instability, as nations like Argentina have found out the hard way. Debt is debt, to be sure, leading ultimately to a smaller economy than would otherwise be the case.

But debt owed to foreigners is more likely to affect the value of the dollar, and foreign capital is more nomadic, leaving the United States vulnerable to the whims of central bankers in Beijing and Tokyo.

But even if a sudden catastrophe never materializes, a slower one is already in the making. It is important that voters talk seriously about deficits in this political season.

This is a long article but worth the time. It’s about NY city firemen who’ve left their wives for 9/11 widows. Interesting and sad.

From: One Very Tangled Post-9/11 Affair
I wasn’t going to write anything about Michael Moore’s new movie, Farenheit 911, but this quote says so much.
Speaking of America's volunteer army, Mr. Moore concludes: "They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is, remarkably, their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?"

From: Michael Moore’s Candid Camera

Friday, May 21, 2004

One more reason not to vote for President Bush, the Evangelical Christian.

Strip Clubs get out the Vote
Fearful that conservatives might turn off the colored lights for good, a trade organization for adult nightclubs is asking owners to register customers and employees and then encourage them to cast their ballots against the president. Micheal Ocello, president of the Association of Club Executives, said the group believes the president's brand of conservatism is bad for business.

"We must do everything within our power to help ensure that Bush and his ultra conservative administration are removed from the White House," Ocello wrote in a letter to nearly 4,000 club owners. "If we are to survive, we must act now."
Support your Local Strip Club, vote Democrat in November! Pass it on.
Here’s an interesting opinion piece from the NY Post Online, Losing the Common Man. It wouldn't take much to make things better in Iraq if the White House would listen but hey, they don’t pay much attention to the common man here at home so why would they listen to Iraqis in their home.

Worse still, Bush presented his first Abu Ghraib apologies to Jordan's King Abdullah. The Iraqis regard themselves as potential leaders of the Middle East and resent being treated as if they were under the tutelage of the King of Jordan or anyone else.

"Would it not have been better for the president to call the head of the Iraq Governing Council or, better still, to invite him to the White House, to offer an apology?" asks a member.
. . .
The list of senior Americans who appear on Qatari, Saudi and Lebanese TV channels to explain U.S. policies reads like a Who's Who of the Bush White House. But they systematically shun Iraq's new, privately-owned and free media, which is the most robust in the so-called Arab world today.

Needless to say, most of the contracts granted since liberation have gone to non-Iraqi companies and businessmen. The Kuwaitis have received a share far in excess of the actual size of their country. (Until recently, Bremer even had his laundry done in Kuwait.)

It is their home, maybe they should get to play a part in rebuilding and governing it. If the White House really wants an American-syle Democracy then that is what is going to have to happen.
Before canceling subscription, consider alternative
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a cheering crowd of American soldiers in Iraq last week that he no longer reads newspapers. Last fall, President Bush told several television (of course) interviewers that he merely glances at headlines and "I rarely read the stories."

This scares me, and not just because my living depends on people buying the daily fish wrapper.

When powerful people proudly proclaim that ignorance -- or arrogance -- is bliss, and that they have little use for what other people are reporting, saying or thinking, democracy is in trouble.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Bush and Rumsfeld aren't being truthful. One thing I learned in 15 years as a sports writer: When athletes and coaches say they don't read the papers, it means they're up at the crack of dawn poring over every word written about them.

Still, you get the unsettling sense Bush and Rumsfeld might be up front on this one. Even if they aren't, the fact they would trumpet their disconnectedness as a source of pride is a grim reflection of where this country is headed. So busy bringing our freedoms to others at the barrel of a gun, so quick to dismiss the relevance of a free press.

"The best way to get the news is from objective sources," Bush told Fox News last year. "And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

We already knew they didn’t read newspapers but these people really are goofs. How can a thinking person, the president, ok well that’s an oxymoron. I’ll put it this way instead, how can a person think that people that are hired to do things for them are going to be objective?
A few weeks later, ABC's Diane Sawyer asked Bush if it was hard to read newspapers because of constant criticism.

"Why even put up with it when you can get the facts elsewhere?" Bush said.

It seems a far cry from 1997, when another George Bush, the former president and this one's father, was featured in a print ad campaign urging children to read newspapers.

Back then, a smiling George H. W. Bush peeked from behind a copy of his hometown Houston Chronicle.

"It all starts with newspapers," the ad read. "Encourage your children to read every day. One day they may take the world by storm."

Or, in his son's case, take the world by storm and ask people to trust him while not bothering to read anything that might challenge the rose-colored updates his underlings provide.

Another ad for the Newspaper Association of America featured then-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani saying, "Newspapers offer a door to new knowledge every day."

To close that door when you don't like what's coming in isn't the example America's leaders should be setting, much less extolling.

Fortunately, most American adults still read newspapers. According to the Newspaper Association of America, 63 percent of adults in the 50 largest markets read the Sunday paper.

Newspapers, despite their warts and smudges, remain the most complete and viable daily pipeline to truth, not to mention the fullest sounding boards in a nation of varied voices.

From the news articles that strive for objectivity to the editorials, columns and letters that fashion facts into pointed views, to read a newspaper every day is to take a community's collective pulse. You might not agree with everything you read, you might not like the ugly events that another spin of the globe produces, but to turn one's back on them is to practice a form of denial.

Without that daily mirror, there can be no self-awareness, no chance to reflect, revise and reconsider, no way to tell if the emperors or their policies are wearing any clothes.

Just as important, where else are you going to get the Sunday funnies and the sports page box scores, the Jumble and the crossword, the movie schedule and TV listings, not to mention enough coupons to recoup your full week's investment, all in one neat, portable package?

Maybe Rumsfeld and Bush are haughty enough to cancel that subscription. Thankfully, most of us still care what other people think. Besides, who really wants to figure out how to hook up cable in the bathroom?

I figure that the President can get facts from sources the average person has never heard of. I would feel a little better though, if he got some of his info from the real world too and not just from the folks he hired.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

This is an “I just had to share.”

A review for MenOpop (A Menopause Pop-Up and Activity Book)
Comic Relief for Menopause, July 29, 2003
Reviewer: T. Hoffine from Kansas City, MO USA
With hot flashes, night sweats, crying jags, mood swings, insomnia, and a myriad of other symptoms, is there any relief? With MenOpop--the world's first menopause pop-up and activity book--it's comic relief!

From the outrageous 3-D uterus, to MenOland (an actual board game with spinner and playing pieces... I play with the kids!), to the interactive centerfold starring Miss MaPeriod, MenOpop offers a whimsical and cheeky look at menopause.

Lord knows we could all use a good laugh through the change. And for those who are too young to know what it's like, give it to one of your elders... believe me, they'll appreciate the wit & wisdom in its pages!
Check out “Customers who bought titles by Kathy Kelly also bought titles by these authors:” at the bottom of the page. Women in menopause read some interesting authors or it could be that people who love women in menopause read some interesting authors.

You never know what you will find when you do a search in Google with words like "stupid fun".

Ms.Kramer is soooo right, and it is soooo sad that she is right. (On the Huh? side of things, why did they feel the need to put her age? Was that really necessary?)
"It really bothered me," said Ms. Kramer, 36. "I live in a community that's overwhelmingly Republican; all the moms have Bush-Cheney bumper stickers on their minivans. I'm literally one of two Democrats on my entire street. So even if it's a very small possibility, I think there could be repercussions in some neighborhoods - petty vandalism, a slashed tire or graffiti.".

From Street Maps in Political Hues

I have seen the website and I thouht it was interesting but sort of strange since we as a whole feel that voting is a private thing. Now our views our out in the open for anybody to pat us on the back about or give us a hard time about.

This was a surprise:

The site also presents several indexes that use census data to rank candidates by the characteristics of their contributors. A GrassRoots Index shows who has received small contributions from all over America (President Bush is first); a Devotion Index shows who inspires repeat giving and financial sacrifice, (Mr. Bush is first again); and a FatCats Index ranks who gets large contributions from the wealthiest Americans (Senator John Kerry is tops).

Oh, what the heck here’s the whole article.
FOR proof that all politics is local, look no further than Fundrace.org, which follows the political money to your front door. While records of campaign contributions have long been available online, Fundrace has a twist: plug in any address and retrieve a list of all the donors in the neighborhood, the names of their favored candidates and the amount bestowed.

For Melissa Kramer, a Democrat in Oakwood, Ohio, it was a part of the political process she had not anticipated. "I got an e-mail from a friend that said, 'Take a look at this site; it'll blow your mind,' " Ms. Kramer said. "I took a look and I thought, 'Oh, my goodness.' "

The site noted her $1,983 in contributions to Gen. Wesley K. Clark's presidential campaign and her home address.

"It really bothered me," said Ms. Kramer, 36. "I live in a community that's overwhelmingly Republican; all the moms have Bush-Cheney bumper stickers on their minivans. I'm literally one of two Democrats on my entire street. So even if it's a very small possibility, I think there could be repercussions in some neighborhoods - petty vandalism, a slashed tire or graffiti."

Whatever its perils, the idea has proved irresistible to many. The six-month-old site says it is attracting up to 150,000 visitors a day. With its localized search feature, national politics has rarely hit quite so close to home.

Fundrace was created by a small team at Eyebeam, a New York-based nonprofit arts organization that focuses on emerging technologies. The basic data at the site - the names, addresses and occupations of contributors and the amount of money they have given to a presidential candidate - is part of the public record and supplied by the Federal Election Commission.

But Fundrace takes the information further by subjecting the location data to geocoding, a process that assigns a latitude-longitude coordinate to an address. Once a donor's address is pinpointed, it can be searched according to its proximity to any other point - say, your address.

"All of a sudden, campaign finance is not some abstract thing," said Jonah Peretti, 30, the director of research and development at Eyebeam. "You're actually able to see that the guy on the third floor of your apartment building gave money to Kerry and your boss gave money to Bush and one of your co-workers gave to Edwards."

Many visitors to Fundrace call the site a guilty pleasure.

"The site is very addictive," says Julia Miranda, a 25-year-old resident of Hollywood who is not listed as a donor. "When I typed in my address, I was very surprised to see two people nearby who gave to George Bush. This is an extremely liberal neighborhood, and people around here usually won't admit to being a Republican. This is a sort of a way to smoke them out."

The site also presents several indexes that use census data to rank candidates by the characteristics of their contributors. A GrassRoots Index shows who has received small contributions from all over America (President Bush is first); a Devotion Index shows who inspires repeat giving and financial sacrifice, (Mr. Bush is first again); and a FatCats Index ranks who gets large contributions from the wealthiest Americans (Senator John Kerry is tops).

The site features maps of the top 10 donating cities, showing Democratic and Republican contributions as blue or red circles superimposed on a street map. The map of Manhattan clearly delineates geopolitical fault lines - the bulging blues of the Upper West Side squaring off against the red of the Upper East Side, the blue Lower East Side giving way to the red of Wall Street.

Fundrace also ranks the top buildings for presidential contributions in each of the top 10 cities. New York's top Democratic building is the El Dorado at 300 Central Park West, the graceful twin-towered apartment house between 90th and 91st Streets, responsible for $65,600 in Democratic contributions. The city's top Republican building is 85 Broad Street, the home of the investment firm Goldman Sachs, whose managing directors accounted for most of the $29,500 that went to President Bush.

Such information has not gone unnoticed by those close to the action. Fundrace says it gets considerable traffic from inside Goldman Sachs, with the investment firm's Web servers accounting for up to 3,500 pages viewed in a day.

Checking up on the bosses, perhaps? "I call it the bored-at-work network," Mr. Peretti said. "People e-mail their bored colleagues at work about our site, and it spreads from there."

The site also lets users search contributors by name, which lends itself nicely to celebrity sleuthing. Bill Gates is the most searched-for name, and the result is somewhat anticlimactic: his lone contribution as an individual is $2,000 to Mr. Bush. (By law, $2,000 is the maximum amount an individual can donate to a candidate.) Many prominent donors routinely provide a work address - Mr. Gates lists his address as "1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA" - or, in the case of Hollywood, the address of a studio or an agent - in the records compiled by the commission.

Other popular celebrity searches include George H. W. Bush ($2,000 to his son), Ben Affleck ($2,000 to General Clark, $1,000 to Representative Dennis J. Kucinich), Robert DeNiro ($2,000 each to Mr. Kerry, Howard Dean and General Clark), and Morgan Fairchild ($600 to Representative Richard A. Gephardt, $500 to Senator John Edwards, $250 to Dr. Dean). Donald Trump characteristically has all the angles covered, giving $2,000 to both President Bush and Mr. Kerry. Jerry Seinfeld gave $2,000 each to Mr. Kerry and General Clark, while his wife, Jessica, kicked in $2,000 for General Clark. (The figures are for donations in 2003-4, current through March 31.)

Fundrace goes further than some Web sites by displaying contributors' full addresses on its first results page, rather than just the city or ZIP code. It has received hundreds of complaints about the addresses, and dozens of people have asked to have their own information removed.

One Fundrace visitor, Madison Moorehead-Lang, a bookkeeper from Oceanside, Calif., listed as giving $450 to Dr. Dean's campaign, wrote to the Federal Election Commission complaining that the site was violating his civil rights. "A future employer could give a job I was applying for to someone that shares their political philosophy," he wrote, "and I might never know the reason I was overlooked." He said he had received no response from the commission.

Not everyone is so concerned. David J. Blumberg, 45, managing partner of a venture capital firm in San Francisco, is the sole contributor to George Bush in his ZIP code, which includes the Haight-Ashbury district. "I suppose someone could look up my name and target me for a hate mailing," Mr. Blumberg said. "But frankly, I'm more afraid of putting a Bush sign in my window. In my neighborhood, that's asking for someone to throw a rock."

Fundrace has declined to remove any addresses on the grounds that they are part of the public record and can be found (with a little digging) at the election commission's Web site.

"Obviously, we don't want people being stalked, but the address information is already pretty widely available online," Mr. Peretti said. "And posting the address does give you an interesting window into electoral politics."

Besides, he said, Fundrace is meant to provoke public debate, not only about money and politics, but also about what constitutes a public record in the information age. Clearly, though, Fundrace's window offers a voyeuristic thrill.

"When you look at all of those addresses you think, 'This is something I shouldn't be seeing,' " Ms. Miranda said. "But of course, when you say that, you want to see it all the more. I know I'll probably go back and look at it again even though I know it's wrong. It's like chocolate."

I didn’t think it was wrong. It’s public information that used to be much harder to see and sift through and now it is easy to see. The funny thing is that this article will bring even more people to the website.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

"We forget what war is about, what it does to those who wage it and those who suffer from it. Those who hate war the most, I have often found, are veterans who know it."
- Chris Hedges, New York Times reporter and author of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

I feel so sorry for these people. The Iraqis. Our troops. Nobody signed up for this crap.

Atrocities in Iraq: 'I killed innocent people for our government'

Q: What experiences turned you against the war and made you leave the Marines?

A: I was in charge of a platoon that consists of machine gunners and missile men. Our job was to go into certain areas of the towns and secure the roadways. There was this one particular incident - and there's many more - the one that really pushed me over the edge. It involved a car with Iraqi civilians. From all the intelligence reports we were getting, the cars were loaded down with suicide bombs or material. That's the rhetoric we received from intelligence. They came upon our checkpoint. We fired some warning shots. They didn't slow down. So we lit them up.

Q: Lit up? You mean you fired machine guns?

A: Right. Every car that we lit up we were expecting ammunition to go off. But we never heard any. Well, this particular vehicle we didn't destroy completely, and one gentleman looked up at me and said: "Why did you kill my brother? We didn't do anything wrong." That hit me like a ton of bricks.

Q: He spoke English?

A: Oh, yeah.
. . . .

Q: You fired into six or ten kids? Were they all taken out?

A: Oh, yeah. Well, I had a "mercy" on one guy. When we rolled up, he was hiding behind a concrete pillar. I saw him and raised my weapon up, and he put up his hands. He ran off. I told everybody, "Don't shoot." Half of his foot was trailing behind him. So he was running with half of his foot cut off.
. . .

A: Depleted uranium. I know what it does. It's basically like leaving plutonium rods around. I'm 32 years old. I have 80 percent of my lung capacity. I ache all the time. I don't feel like a healthy 32-year-old.

Q: Were you in the vicinity of of depleted uranium?

A: Oh, yeah. It's everywhere. DU is everywhere on the battlefield. If you hit a tank, there's dust.

Q: Did you breath any dust?

A: Yeah.

Q: And if DU is affecting you or our troops, it's impacting Iraqi civilians.

A: Oh, yeah. They got a big wasteland problem.
. . .

A: After I talked to the top commander, I was kind of scurried away. I was basically put on house arrest. I didn't talk to other troops. I didn't want to hurt them. I didn't want to jeopardize them.

I want to help people. I felt strongly about it. I had to say something. When I was sent back to stateside, I went in front of the sergeant major. He's in charge of 3,500-plus Marines. "Sir," I told him, "I don't want your money. I don't want your benefits. What you did was wrong."

It was just a personal conviction with me. I've had an impeccable career. I chose to get out. And you know who I blame? I blame the president of the U.S. It's not the grunt. I blame the president because he said they had weapons of mass destruction. It was a lie.

There is going to be such medical problems, physical and mental problems, after this crappy war is over. The president sent U. S. citizens into two foreign countries. He didn’t have a good plan. He did not understand the countries or their people. He sent our citizens under false pretenses. Now they are going to come back home and need medical care until they die, that is die prematurely.

I do not care how much you think Saddam Huessein needed to be removed, none of this should have happened, there should have been better planning and more international assistance.

What a two-faced, flip-flopping, oportunistic scumball! I am not surprised.

Here is a President who says he is all for smaller government, as long as it is smaller in the ways that it helps the people who actually pay the taxes that pay for the government.

Notice that the Pres never wants to cut any money going to his big business buddies, he just tries to cut money to the people who do the work.

White House Is Trumpeting Programs It Tried to Cut
WASHINGTON, May 18 — Like many of its predecessors, the Bush White House has used the machinery of government to promote the re-election of the president by awarding federal grants to strategically important states. But in a twist this election season, many administration officials are taking credit for spreading largess through programs that President Bush tried to eliminate or to cut sharply.

For example, Justice Department officials recently announced that they were awarding $47 million to scores of local law enforcement agencies for the hiring of police officers. Mr. Bush had just proposed cutting the budget for the program, known as Community Oriented Policing Services, by 87 percent, to $97 million next year, from $756 million.

The administration has been particularly energetic in publicizing health programs, even ones that had been scheduled for cuts or elimination.

Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, announced recently that the administration was awarding $11.7 million in grants to help 30 states plan and provide coverage for people without health insurance. Mr. Bush had proposed ending the program in each of the last three years.

The administration also announced recently that it was providing $11.6 million to the states so they could buy defibrillators to save the lives of heart attack victims. But Mr. Bush had proposed cutting the budget for such devices by 82 percent, to $2 million from $10.9 million.

Whether they involve programs Mr. Bush supported or not, the grant announcements illustrate how the administration blends politics and policy, blurring the distinction between official business and campaign-related activities.

In recent weeks, administration officials have fanned out around the country. Within a 48-hour period this month, Treasury Secretary John W. Snow was in Wisconsin and Illinois, doling out federal aid to poor neighborhoods. Anthony J. Principi, the secretary of veterans affairs, was in Las Vegas to announce plans for a new veterans hospital. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was in South Carolina to announce a new national research laboratory. And a top transportation official was in Portland, Me., awarding a $13 million grant to the city's airport.

In some cases, overtly political appearances are piggybacked onto such trips. Earlier this month, Mr. Principi was in Florida announcing plans for another veterans hospital, in Orlando, with a side trip to Tampa to kick off a national coalition of veterans supporting the re-election of Mr. Bush.

A few days earlier, while traveling to Marco Island, Fla., on official business, Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans stopped in Daytona Beach to attend a large prayer meeting, where he praised Mr. Bush as "a leader you can trust 100 percent of the time."

The combination of official business and politics is neither illegal nor unusual in an election year, though Bush administration officials were reluctant to provide details. In fact, the Bush administration is using techniques refined by President Bill Clinton. The difference is that in the Clinton years the White House was often trying to add and expand domestic programs, not cut them.

The government has byzantine rules for documenting mixed official and political travel. The goal is to ensure that the campaign or some other political group pays for parts of a trip that are purely political.

But as the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, has said, "it is often impossible to neatly categorize travel as either purely business or purely political."

Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for Mr. Evans, said the Republican National Committee paid for the commerce secretary's stop in Daytona Beach on May 6. A local newspaper, The News-Journal, said the prayer meeting there "evolved into a rousing Republican political rally."

The contrast between politics and policy is particularly striking when the administration takes credit for spending money appropriated by Congress against the president's wishes.

In April, Secretary Thompson announced that the administration was awarding $3.1 million in grants to improve health care in rural areas of Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico and New York. He did not mention that the administration was trying to cut the same rural health program by 72 percent, to $11.1 million next year, from $39.6 million.

Here is the whole article.

Just to reiterate: Notice that the Pres never wants to cut any money going to his big business buddies, he just tries to cut money to the working people, the people who do the work but do not get the credit. Oh yeah, and we don't get to go on vacations almost every other week. Last count, the Pres has used 43% of his time as president to go on vacation.
Surprising and Important Ways New York Was Unprepared for [the Sept 11th] Disaster

The [911] tapes showed that a number people inside the towers - isolated without public address announcements - turned to the 911 emergency system for advice but were steered terribly wrong by the Police Department and fire dispatchers, according to a report by the staff of the independent commission investigating the attacks.

Many of those callers were told to stay in their offices, the commission found, even after both planes had struck and after senior rescue chiefs in the complex had decided that everyone should evacuate.

These were not simply errors by operators working in the frenzy of crisis, but a symptom of a broken emergency response system, several commissioners suggested yesterday. The Police and Fire Departments had no method for relaying fresh information to the 911 operators, information that might have shaped the advice and instructions they were giving to people in the buildings.

The problem here is that 911 operators are really there more for gathering information not giving out information. The idea behind the 911 emergency system is that a caller calls in an emergency, gives the details of what is happening and hangs up. On Sept 11th, callers were calling the operators for information, something that is not the normal routine.

No one expected a disaster on this scale to happen in New York. (Well, maybe the White House did.) No one knew what to do. The 911 operators were not ready for calls asking what to do.

If they want an idea on how to change things they should get in touch with cities in California, they have had major disasters. They are ready for big earthquakes and the damage they cause. Their police and fire departments must know how to communicate well with each other. Their 911 operators must be able to get good information to pass on to callers.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Here is something for anyone who doesn't want to read the previous and rather long post. Warning: It takes awhile to load.

End of the world.
I just want to add an update to my bully post from last Friday. I thought of it and wrote that post long before I heard Dr. Phil say basically the same thing late Friday afternoon.

This is something else that occurred to me later that sort of fits.
Off and on I have thought about the fight or flight response. I’ve read through the years that we still have basically the same primitive brain that our ancestors had so we will tend to act the way they did.

When our fight or flight system is activated, we tend to perceive everything in our environment as a possible threat to our survival. By its very nature, the fight or flight system bypasses our rational mind—where our more well thought out beliefs exist—and moves us into "attack" mode. This state of alert causes us to perceive almost everything in our world as a possible threat to our survival. As such, we tend to see everyone and everything as a possible enemy.(Emphasis added.) Like airport security during a terrorist threat, we are on the look out for every possible danger. We may overreact to the slightest comment. Our fear is exaggerated. Our thinking is distorted. We see everything through the filter of possible danger. We narrow our focus to those things that can harm us. Fear becomes the lens through which we see the world.

I’ve added another level; fight, flight or not foe. If there is no reason to fight it or flee from it there’s a good chance that it’s not a foe, friend comes later after taking more time to confirm the not foe part.

So, here we are, primed to think of people first as possible foes then later potential friends. People are more disposed to see events in simple terms; good or bad, winners or losers, us or them. The ultimate us or them is war. Soldiers, of course, are more likely to see other military as “us” and everyone else as “them.” In war, the likelihood of ever getting to friend is low.

That leaves us with fight or flight. If you are part of a group of “us” soldiers in charge of a prison full of “them” prisoners then odds are you will not flee since you are in charge and have the weapons.

Now we’re left with fight. The only prisoners to fight with would be those not under control and considered dangerous. News reports show that a very large majority were not out of control or dangerous. Also, the abuse does not imply simple concern for safety of the guards or other prisoners.

Even though there really was no one to fight since the prisoners were under control, the inclination, will still be to fight even if there is no reason for it. Primitive brain wins out over the higher more civilized functions because that is first the way the brain wants to work and second that is the way a soldier is trained, fight first, humanitarian stuff later.

We can begin to see how it is almost impossible to cultivate positive attitudes and beliefs when we are stuck in survival mode. Our heart is not open. Our rational mind is disengaged. Our consciousness is focused on fear, not love. Making clear choices and recognizing the consequences of those choices is unfeasible. We are focused on short-term survival, not the long-term consequences of our beliefs and choices. When we are overwhelmed with excessive stress, our life becomes a series of short-term emergencies. We lose the ability to relax and enjoy the moment. We live from crisis to crisis, with no relief in sight. Burnout is inevitable. This burnout is what usually provides the motivation to change our lives for the better. We are propelled to step back and look at the big picture of our lives—forcing us to examine our beliefs, our values and our goals..

So now what do we do to overcome that automatic, and in this case, counterproductive part of our brains?

Friday, May 14, 2004

I was reading this article and it occurred to me that the prison abuse in Iraq is just like some of the problems with bullies in school. Think about it. In school, teachers are the authority but do nothing to stop bullying. The teachers know who the bullies are and so does the school administration. They do nothing to protect the weaker kids until somebody gets hurt and it hits the news.

Kind of sounds like the same thing in Iraq. The officers have the authority and knew what was going on.

The platoon sergeant standing on a tier above the room heard the screams and yelled down at Sergeant Davis to stop, surprising the other soldiers with the anger in his command, Specialist Sivits said. But within two minutes, the platoon sergeant left, and the soldiers resumed the abuse.

The Bush administration said they have known for months. Both groups mostly ignored the problem until there were pictures and the media showed the world that people in Iraq were hurt and humiliated. The ‘bullying’ soldiers did what they wanted with the detainees and might have pretty much walked away without a problem if it were not for the pictures and the media.

The not so funny thing is, is that in a little while it is finally going to sink in just how wrong what they did was. PTSD is going to set in and they are going to get lawyers so they can get treatment for free from the Dept of Veteran’s Affairs.

The reason they should get free treatment, the DOD and the government did not stop them from being assholes and having their fun.

I read the quote of the day in the NY Times and all I could think was, huh???.

At Iraqi Prison, Rumsfeld Vows to Punish Abuse
"The world will see how a free system, a democratic system, functions and operates transparently, with no cover-up."
- DEFENSE SECRETARY DONALD H. RUMSFELD, on the investigation of abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison.

Since when has anything to do with this administration been very democratic or transparent with no cover-up?? Bushco has been doing an excellent job of keeping everybody they don’t like, don’t know or don’t want to know out-of-the-loop. How transparent is that when no one knows what is going on within the admin.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I just looked up the words abuse and torture. I cannot see how any humane thinking person can look at the meaning of these two words and say this one is fine to do but the other is wrong.
From dictionary.com
Torture: Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion. To bring great physical or mental pain upon (another).
Abuse: To hurt or injure by maltreatment; ill-use. Physical maltreatment

Ok, so one sounds a little more violent than the other. We are supposed to be the apex of civilization, I think we should be able to do better then saying "It's alright, the lawyers say it's not illegal for the military to do one of these so that's what we did. Honest, we didn't do the nastier one."

And, here’s an interesting sentence using the word torture. Obviously, torture has just been exported out of England just as it seems to have been exported from the US.

Torture, whitch had always been declared illegal, and which had recently been declared illegal even by the servile judges of that age, was inflicted for the last time in England in the month of May, 1640. --Macaulay.

Something else I have been trouble working out is why US media is ignoring the stories about abuse by UK military.

British soldiers killed at least one Iraqi prisoner, and military police are investigating a number of other cases of torture and mistreatment. Prime Minister Tony Blair has apologized for any abuses that British troops may have committed. Blair's opponents are asking how much longer British troops should stay in Iraq.

It finally dawned on me that by ignoring abuse by other countries, our government can still keep saying it is just an isolated incident, just a couple of bad apples, nothing to see here you looky-loos, now move along.

If more than one country's military is abusing/torturing prisoners then the scandal is a little further reaching. One country certainly cannot say, "Hey, they did it first so we can too!" Or, "So and so's military police said it was OK so we did it too."

Something I've been meaning to look into is why the U.S. military was being ordered to do things by contractors. What the heck is that about? I work for the Federal government and know darned well that there would be such an uproar if non-government people tried to tell us what to do or how to do our jobs. I cannot imagine that that members of the U.S. military, the greatest fighting force on the planet, was fine with being told what to by non-military.

No, it wouldn't justify the abuses/tortures. I just find it interesting that it looks like the people who did the ordering cannot be touched by the military or the government because they are not in military/government jurisdiction. Makes me wonder if there was a plan. It's just so handy that the contractors are sending at least some of the finger pointing away from the administration but underneath the surface of the story it looks like the administration just may be at fault. Unfortunately, most people do not look to deeply into a story.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Are we being watched?
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -- Mexican Air Force pilots filmed 11 unidentified objects in the skies over southern Campeche state, a Defense Department spokesman confirmed Tuesday

It is amazing that politicians go on the way they do about garbage from the past and make stuff up. There is enough true information and positions that should help or hinder a candidate.

Americans like to say they are not influenced by campaign commercials, but then many people plainly believe the attack ads that President Bush and John Kerry are hurling at each other.
. . .
Along with the things they know that aren't so, voters don't know things that might matter. Sixty-six percent do not know that Mr. Bush favors extending the ban on assault weapons, and 68 percent do not know that he proposes cutting the federal deficit in half. Sixty-one percent do not know that Mr. Kerry wants to eliminate tax breaks for profits made overseas and use the money to encourage companies to invest their foreign earnings in the United States, and 44 percent do not know he wants to have the government help pay to get health insurance to all children and to help employers pay their workers' costs.

Lie and the voters will believe.
God told me to tell you this, honest. ;-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

US criticised over web controls
Security concerns led to the censorship of many official sites
The US should reopen most of the sites shut down after September 11 because of terrorism fears, a report says.

The government-funded study found that the vast majority of official sites and databases posed little security risk.
. . .
In only four cases was there an argument to restrict prevent public access. These four databases had details about pipelines, nuclear reactors and dams.
The report appears to justify those who accused the Bush administration of acting rashly due to terrorist fears.

"It was a gigantic mistake, and I hope the study brings some rationality back to this policy," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' project on government secrecy.

"Up to now, decisions have been made on a knee-jerk basis."

No kidding. I work in a Navy facility in Phila. After 9/11, the organization chart was removed from the internet as if that was much of a deterrent. I don't think a terrorist cares about who's here, they'd just want to destroy the place. If you know the address of the place, you can go to a popular website to get driving directions and a map including an aerial view of where I work. There are big letters that spell NAVICP painted on the roof of one of the buildings, less than 1/2 a city block from where I used to live. I'm guessing the sign is painted there so helicopter pilots know where to land. Let's face it, a target for the good guys can just as easily be a target for the bad guys.

I was going to put the link for the aerial view but I'll let you figure it out.

UPDATE: I just tried to find the aerial map by using just the info I gave in the post, and I could find the address but I can't find the aerial map. I know it was there, I printed a copy to show the target building to my family and friends. I can't remember the popular direction/mapping website name. I know it's out there somewhere. 2:48pm

Boy, they’re not kidding when they say campaign stops are choreographed. Actually choreographed is a weak word in relation to what goes on, maybe arranged, coordinated and orchestrated down to the last flutter of confetti.
At the arena in Cincinnati, home to an Anaheim Mighty Ducks farm team, the entertainment for the Bush rally was provided by a country and western performer and a marching band. The attire leaned toward dark suits punctuated with red, white and blue accessories like oversize hats and patriotic scarves.

There was a huge "W" on all four faces of the scoreboard high above the arena floor, its clock set at 20:04 and the two teams, labeled "George" and "Bush" tied at 43. When giant screens showed the commander in chief's bus arriving, the music switched to pop, the lights dimmed, an American flag the size of a free-throw lane unfurled from the rafters and multicolored spotlights strafed the overwhelmingly white crowd.
From: Festivals of Certitude in Land of Red and Blue

It’s a shame the presidency hasn’t been as well thought out.

Monday, May 10, 2004

The Misunderestimated Man
How Bush chose stupidity.

As the president says, we misunderestimate him. He was not born stupid. He chose stupidity. Bush may look like a well-meaning dolt. On consideration, he's something far more dangerous: a dedicated fool.

This is a preaching to the choir kind of article but still worth reading.

I fell for “He’s just stupid” and have had to rethink it. Stupid gives GW an out when something goes wrong. This is administrationion that hasn’t thought too much out and Georgie is the reason. He's supposed to be in charge but I still haven't seen him acting too in charge. I'm sure if you ask him when he's done something presidential he'll delegate getting the answer.

I still don’t understand why people voted for him. I know he didn't win but there were people who DID vote for him. I kind of remember the thinking at the time being that Gore wasn’t personable and friendly enough and that Gore was too smart. Yup, we don't want someone too smart running the country, we don't want to give the world and inferiority complex. So instead in the White House we ended up with a guy who can barely Englishnglish and is greedy and likes to bully. Oh yeah, and he'll remember your name when you piss him off, watch out for the slam dunk.

The New Teen Movies: No More Miss Nice Girl
Instead of giving us innocent, blameless heroines, both "13 Going on 30" and "Mean Girls" show us what happens when good girls temporarily turn nasty.

I haven’t seen Mean Girls yet but I’ve seen 13 Going on 30. I like fun movies and thought it was going to Big for girls. It wasn’t. I was hoping for something fun, the girl gets to go on an adventure but in the end wishes she could grow up slowly with her friends and family.
Basically it says bad girls have lousy unfulfilled lives. I couldn't really tell what kind of life a good girl ends up with.

. . . the movie seems to suggest that high-power careers can't be achieved by moral people. The lesson Jenna finally learns is that in order to be a truly nice, loving person, you have to squelch your ambition and submit to convention.

I couldn't have said it better.
The acting head of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research says all women can’t have the morning after pill because some kids are stupid.

Ok, he didn’t really say that but that’s a gist of it. If teenagers can’t be trusted to take the morning after pill without supervision then NO women can get it over the counter.

"The worse-case scenario is that you've got a young couple and they would normally use a condom when they were having intercourse, but since they know they can run to the CVS to get Plan B, are they going to worry about that?"
Asked Dr. Steven Galson, acting director of the Food and Drug Administration's center for drug evaluation and research since October.

What “we?” From what I've seen, there’s hardly ever a we in this kind of situation. Usually it's going to some woman running out in the morning to get the morning after pill because she couldn't slow the guy down to put on a condom or he didn't care since she can take care of the results.

Because Barr Pharmaceuticals can’t say that a girl under 17 wouldn’t need a doctor’s assistance then nobody is permitted to have Plan B over the counter. Let’s face it, Barr can’t say for sure that anyone will use it correctly. We should give the majority of people the benefit of the doubt and make it available over the counter.

Here's the whole article.

Morning-After-Pill Ruling Defies Norm

Published: May 8, 2004

A top federal drug official said yesterday that he rejected not only the judgment of an advisory panel but also the recommendations of his own staff when he refused to allow a morning-after pill to be sold over the counter.

Dr. Steven Galson, acting director of the Food and Drug Administration's center for drug evaluation and research since October, acknowledged in an interview that his action was not the norm.

“I am not trying to convey this decision as being common or usual," Dr. Galson said.
The morning-after pill, called Plan B, is an emergency birth-control medicine that is currently sold only by prescription. Made of high-dose birth-control pills, it can interfere with ovulation and perhaps prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

The pill's maker, Barr Pharmaceuticals, hopes to sell it over the counter, a prospect that seemed likely in December when a federal advisory panel voted 23 to 4 to approve Barr's application. The agency normally follows the recommendations of its advisory panels, especially when their votes are overwhelming. Barr's hopes were raised even further when Dr. Galson's staff similarly recommended approval.

But on Thursday, the agency sent Barr a "nonapprovable" letter, saying it had rejected the company's application because it did not provide enough information about how young teenagers would be able to use the drug properly.

In interviews yesterday, several former F.D.A. officials said that they could not remember another instance in which Dr. Galson, a career officer in the public health service, or any of his predecessors had overruled both an advisory committee and staff recommendations.

"I can't ever remember the center director ever signing a nonapprovable letter," said Dr. Raymond Lipicky, who retired from a top agency position in 2002 after 18 years in the agency. "In my experience, that never happened." Such letters are invariably issued at a much lower level than the director.

Dr. Robert R. Fenichel, who left the agency in 2000 after 12 years, said, "This is simply unheard of."

Their comments came in the midst of a fierce debate about whether the agency's decision was based primarily in science or politics.

Dr. Galson said he knew of just a single instance in the past 10 years in which one of his predecessors had overruled the conclusions of those below him. "This isn't common, but it's not unheard of," he said.

Dr. Galson did not just disagree a little bit with his staff and the advisory board. If he had, he would have suggested that Barr receive an "approvable" letter for its application. Such a letter tells a company that it could receive approval if it provides certain additional information.
Despite its cheery name, such letters are not good news for companies, some of which have worked for years to develop and provide the information requested. Still, they are better than "nonapprovable" letters like the one Dr. Galson decided to send to Barr. Such letters suggest that approval is unlikely, companies say.

By sending a nonapprovable letter, Dr. Galson said in the interview, "We said that the shortcomings are so large that we are not able to go that intermediary step."

He said Barr had failed to prove that girls younger than 17 could use Plan B safely without the help of a physician, because the company's study included just 29 girls younger than 17 and none younger than 14. He said he worried that such girls might be more likely to have sex without condoms — exposing themselves to an increased risk of disease — if they had easier access to Plan B.

"The worse-case scenario is that you've got a young couple and they would normally use a condom when they were having intercourse, but since they know they can run to the CVS to get Plan B, are they going to worry about that?" he asked.

Conservative groups endorsed the action.

"This is a prudent decision to say that we must consider the consequences if teens use this drug as a means of birth control," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative group.

But the agency's decision to take into account how some people might change their behavior because a drug is more available is also unprecedented, critics charge. Dr. Scott Spear of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, noted that the agency was unlikely to ask the makers of anticholesterol pills if people would eat more cheeseburgers when their drugs became available over the counter.

"It's a bogus issue," Dr. Spear said. "They should be asking if the drug is safe and whether it's effective. That's it."

But Wendy Wright, senior policy director at Concerned Women for America, a conservative group, said the agency's questions were entirely appropriate. "One cheeseburger is not going to kill you, while risky sex can be life-threatening in one instance," she said.

My view on this, people will do stupid things, period, end of sentence, nothing else to say. Age has nothing to do with it either. Under 17, over 17, doesn’t matter, people do stupid things. And they don’t do it because they have a way out, they do it because the stop thinking.

Now think about this:
Do we want anyone to get pregnent bacause she couldn’t get the morning after pill?
Then find out she has AIDS because she had unprotected sex.
Then find out she passed it on the child she doesn’t want anyway.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Even the Vatican is worried about Bush Co. The Vatican is worried about the BIG war not just a war in Iraq but the war to end all wars, the Second Coming. The skinny is that the Vatican thinks G. W. Bush may be the anti-Christ.

According to journalists close to the Vatican, the Pope and his closest advisers are also concerned that the ultimate acts of evil - the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon - were known in advance by senior Bush administration officials. By permitting the attacks to take their course, there is a perception within the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy that a coup d'etat was implemented, one that gave Bush and his leadership near-dictatorial powers to carry out their agenda.

Just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about the future.

An, as usual, great Tom Toles cartoon. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Deaf, dumb and blind Bush.

Bush delegates -- not much gets done.
Justice Louis D. Brandeis:

"Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher, for good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself."

Could have been written yesterday considering how the Bush Administration is acting. Written 75 years ago.
Yes, from the NY Times.
Tape of Air Traffic Controllers Made on 9/11 Was Destroyed

WASHINGTON, May 6 — At least six air traffic controllers who dealt with two of the hijacked airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, made a tape recording a few hours later describing the events, but the tape was destroyed by a supervisor without anyone making a transcript or even listening to it, the Transportation Department said Thursday.

The taping began before noon on Sept. 11 at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center, in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., where about 16 people met in a basement conference room known as the Bat Cave and passed around a microphone, each recalling his or her version of the events of a few hours earlier. The recording included statements of 5 or 10 minutes each by controllers who had spoken by radio to people on the planes or who had tracked the aircraft on radar, the report said.

Officials at the center never told higher-ups of the tape's existence, according to a report made public on Thursday by the inspector general of the Transportation Department.

A quality-assurance manager at the center destroyed the tape several months after it was made, crushing the cassette in his hand, cutting the tape into little pieces and dropping them in different trash cans around the building, according to the report. The tape had been made under an agreement with the union that it would be destroyed after it was superseded by written statements from the controllers, the report said.

The quality-assurance manager told investigators that he had destroyed the tape because he thought making it was contrary to Federal Aviation Administration policy, which calls for written statements, and because he felt that the controllers "were not in the correct frame of mind to have properly consented to the taping" because of the stress of the day.

None of the officials or controllers were identified in the report.

The inspector general, Kenneth M. Mead, said that keeping the tape's existence a secret, and then destroying it, did not "serve the interests of the F.A.A., the department, or the public," and would raise suspicions at a time of national crisis.

The value of the tape was not clear, Mr. Mead said, because no one was sure what was on it, although the written statements given later by five of the controllers were broadly consistent with "sketchy" notes taken by people in the Bat Cave. (The sixth controller did not give a statement, apparently because that controller did not speak to either of the planes or observe them on radar.)

Mr. Mead had been asked by Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, to look into how well the aviation agency had cooperated with the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. McCain said in a statement that he looked forward to "appropriate disciplinary actions" and that he might investigate this matter further.

A spokesman for the 9/11 commission, Al Felzenberg, said Mr. Mead's report was "meticulous" and "came through the efforts of a very conscientious senator." Mr. Felzenberg said that the commission would not comment now on the content of the report, but that it "does speak to some of the issues we're interested in."

The quality-assurance manager destroyed the tape sometime in December 2001, January 2002 or February 2002. By that time he and the center manager had received an e-mail message from the F.A.A. instructing officials to safeguard all records and adding, "If a question arises whether or not you should retain data, RETAIN IT."

The inspector general ascribed the destruction to "poor judgment."

An F.A.A. spokesman, Greg Martin, said that "we have taken appropriate disciplinary action" against the quality-assurance manager.

Let me see if I understand this. Sixteen people sat down a few hours after the 9/11 hijackings and made a tape. The end result is 5 written statements.

To say that the air traffic controllers "were not in the correct frame of mind to have properly consented to the taping" because of the stress of what happened that day, would be an understatement. No one ever gave them a chance to rethink their initial decision, their work was destroyed.

This was an historic tape made at an historic time. The film of JFK’s assassination wasn’t authorized either but no one would think of destroying it.

It just makes me wonder. A transcript of the tape would have been an excellent written statement of the day. Six people contributed the tape within a few hours of the hijackings when their memories were fresh. That’s quite a bit fresh accurate information to just deem trash because it wasn’t completed in the proper form and ok’d by the union.

I’m not much into conspiracy theories but the more I read about 9/11, the more I wonder who knew what when and didn’t tell anybody. I’m not saying the air traffic controllers who made the tape knew anything. I just can’t help but wonder why this guy would destroy this tape when he was told when in doubt “RETAIN IT.”

Thursday, May 06, 2004

And if they are lucky it will only be for one year. Odds are, if the history of this war holds true, they will be there much longer than a year.

Pentagon Notifying 47,000 More US Troops They Will Be Dispatched to Iraq for One Year

By Robert Burns The Associated Press
Published: May 4, 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon is notifying about 10,000 active-duty Army and Marine Corps troops and about 37,000 National Guard and Reserve soldiers that they will be sent to Iraq this year as replacements for units that will have served there a year or longer, officials said Tuesday.

The Army planned to announce the decision Tuesday afternoon, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

About 5,000 Marines and a contingent of about 5,000 soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y., will go this summer to relieve the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, whose soldiers were due to come home in April but were extended by three months.

Pentagon officials had said in recent weeks that they were prepared to replace a portion or all of the 20,000 1st Armored and 2nd Cavalry soldiers who are on extended duty in Iraq if Gen. John Abizaid, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, believed they were needed.

Abizaid and his subordinate commanders have used the 2nd Armored Cavalry and 1st Armored to deal with outbreaks of violence in and around the Shiite holy city of Najaf and elsewhere in central Iraq.

At the moment there are about 138,000 U.S. forces in Iraq. That number was to have fallen to about 115,000 this spring, but a surge in anti-occupation violence caused Abizaid to bolster the force.

The Army and Marine Corps are hard-pressed to find substantial additional troops for Iraq duty. Of the Army's 10 divisions, parts or all of nine are already deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The 10th Mountain Division has soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marine Corps has about 25,000 troops in Iraq, mainly in the western area including the restive city of Fallujah.

Details about the 37,000 National Guard and Reserve troops who are being alerted for Iraq duty were not immediately available. They will provide support for the three National Guard combat brigades that were notified earlier this year that they will be going to Iraq for one-year tours late this year or early in 2005. A large proportion of the 37,000 are Army Reserve, one official said.

AP-ES-05-04-04 1119EDT

I’ve been out of the loop for a couple of days so today I am going to be a theif but I do give credit when I snitch. This is from my cousin’s blog, Suburban Guerrilla:
Then there's this:
On May 3, the very day that Media Matters for America released a report documenting repeated misstatements by Hannity & Colmes co-host Sean Hannity, among others, about when the recession began, Hannity asserted again on his FOX News Channel program, "[President George W. Bush] did inherit a recession" from the Clinton administration.

Media Matters for America's report "Backdating the Recession" catalogued the numerous false references in the media to Bush's "inherited recession." In fact, as Media Matters for America's report showed, the U.S. economy went into a recession for the first time in ten years in March 2001, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private, nonpartisan organization whose business cycle announcements have long been considered the definitive word on recessions.

The Bush Administration really does enjoy making things up. I think BushCo got into the wrong profession, they should be doing some kind of creative writing. Maybe they can work for a floor polish company saying how just buying the product will make your floors sparkle without ever taking the product out of the box.

Monday, May 03, 2004

I recall that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was complaining some time ago that we’re not saving enough money to help the economy. Boy oh boy. Here he goes again. You’re not saving enough, you’re not spending enough. He can’t make up his mind.

It’s hard to save when the price of goods keep going and the your effective pay keeps going down. He doesn't care, his pay keeps going up.

On the not spending side of things AG can never accuse the average citizen of not pulling his or her weight in the spending department. This problem falls directly on the rich.

The average citizen spends all or most of their income each month. For example, let’s say the average citizen spends 90% of their take home pay each month. Can the average CEO say the same? These CEO’s and CFO’s and all their executives are not spending to the appropriate level.

Imagine how hot the economy would become if the top 5% income bracket would spend 90% of their take home pay each month. For starters, they wouldn’t be able to hide most of their income in tax shelters. Their income would be out in the open and would help with government revenues and the deficit. States would collect more taxes too. Then all the stuff they’d buy! Woo-wee! There would be a lot of jobs created to cover all that demand. Businesses would prosper. More taxes would be collected. Local, state and Federal programs would have good funding. New jobs mean more people working. More people working means that people might be able to save some money or at least be able to afford to get out of debt. All this good stuff if we can just get people with money to start spending at the same levels as everyone else.

Why can’t CEO’s be good consumers? All I’m asking is that you spend at least 90% of your income. Come on, you have to catch up with the rest of us.

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