Why Now?
Sunday, July 31, 2005
  Truth and War
"Truth is the first casualty of war" is often attributed to Rudyard Kipling, the 19th century chronicler of the British Empire. I can certainly believe he said it, given the cognitive dissonance between what was written in the contemporary press and proclaimed by politicians, and the stories he heard from those actually fighting the wars.

However, Paul Glastris, posting at Political Animal, quotes the long version from more than two millennia ago found in the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.

While Herodotos [circa 484-425 BCE] is called the Father of History for his work on the Persian Wars, and for transforming the meaning of the word historia from simply "research", to its modern meaning; Thucydides [circa 460-400 BCE] is often credited with bringing more objectivity and less mythology to the field.

My private view is that Herodotos provided us with some justification for the claim that "history is written by the victors", while Thucydides gave us the "elegy" on truth in time of war. These are my private views and there is certainly no lack of PhDs based on disagreeing with one, or both points of view.

For more on this absurdity I can recommend Jingo by Terry Pratchett, published in 1998.


Saturday, July 30, 2005
  Definitely Not Good News
Russian authorities are reporting the identification of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in samples from the Novosibirsk region of Siberia. The domesticated fowl have probably been infected by migratory birds from southern Asia.

The Russians believe they have contained the outbreak, but if migratory flocks are carrying the disease, there is no good way of preventing to spread to ever wider regions. Migratory birds were suspected in a recent outbreak in rural China, and the same infected flocks probably continued north into Siberia.

This would indicate that some of the migratory species are carriers of the disease, as they would normally die if infected and be unable to fly north.

It's a good thing that the US has strengthened its public health system in reaction to 9/11 and the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction...never mind.


  Why The BBC Doesn't Blog
In his column in the BBC magazine section Pete Clifton, BBC News web site editor, says that while there have been several blog-like segments on the site, he won't call them blogs because they lack the minimum elements that he considers necessary.

Clifton's definition requires:He says there won't be any blogs on the BBC site until they can get the software that supports these features.

His article shows one of the lacks, as you have to scroll down past a couple of things before you can find his comments on blogs.

I find it interesting that he feels that to be a true blog there has to be interaction with the readers. Apparently, coming from old media, he feels that the interactive component is a signature feature of the true blog.

I would note that the BBC World Service constantly solicits e-mail and text message comments on their stories and read them as they come in, unlike the NPR once a week letters segment and the general lack of any type of viewer commenting on television.


  US Evicted From Uzbekistan
CNN reports: Uzbekistan says U.S. troops must leave.

Well, they gave us 180 days, but I wouldn't ask for a return of the damage deposit. Apparently President Karimov was annoyed by American officials, who talked about spreading democracy and didn't condemn the UN for aiding several hundred Uzbekis fleeing the repression of demonstrators to escape his grasp. Even if they didn't mean it, it was annoying to a government that doesn't have a problem with boiling detainees and gunning down demonstrators. Like most brutal dictators, Karimov believes that people don't approve wholeheartedly of everything he does are against him.

Rumsfeld's recent trip was supposed to mend fences, but it obviously didn't impress the Uzbek government. I doubt the US can match the bribes offered by the Afghani drug lords, nor are there alternative facilities in the area capable of handling large cargo aircraft. Too bad nobody planned for this possibility.


Friday, July 29, 2005
  Plame & Miller
There is a lot of speculation on why Judith Miller of the New York Times is sitting in jail. She didn't write about Valerie Plame, so why did Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, insist on having her jailed for contempt when she refused to testify before the Grand Jury investigating the Plame case.

Let's review the known facts:

Ms. Miller is the Kool-Aid Kween, the number one supporter of the Bush plan to invade Iraq, and the number one supporter of Bushevik claims about Weapons of Mass Destruction. She has an association with Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, that goes back a decade. Chalabi would be a direct conduit between Miller and Douglas Feith, the head of the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon created to provide alternative intelligence regarding Iraq, as they are old friends.

Miller being embedded with the Defense Intelligence Agency's Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha in Iraq can only be explained by major interference by someone like Feith, because military intelligence is not in the habit of having reporters tag along on missions.

Valerie Plame was a CIA analyst working on the WMD desk. The only people outside of the CIA who would be aware of her existence would be those senior officials in the White House, Pentagon, and State Department who would be considered "consumers" for the "product" she was working on. She would probably, occasionally, attend briefings for top officials to explain points in the reports coming from her office.

There is no way for Miller to legally discover Ms. Plame's identity. Given that a top secret clearance would be required to attend the briefings at which Ms. Plame would be present, it is obvious that the revelation of her position was a violation of US espionage laws.

Douglas Feith has resigned "to spend more time with his family" after his deputy, Larry Franklin, was felt to have been overly enthusiastic by the FBI in his support for Israel by allegedly providing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] with too much information.

There are reports that the INC was the source of much of the bad intelligence about Iraq in the run up to the war, and that Chalabi was overly friendly with Iranian intelligence.

What you end up with a group of people for whom "the ends justify the means" and think they are better informed and more intelligent than the people who get to make decisions. These are people who think their resumés are true, for a given value of "true".

Many, possibly most, assume that there was only one leak. Given the track record of this administration it is safer to assume that there were multiple leaks for various, mostly private, reasons.

It is very likely that Ms. Miller learned of Plame from Feith, and didn't write about it, because Novak filed an article before she could. Ms. Miller is not known for sharing the spotlight, or for helping others without a clear vision of some benefit for her.

Members of the White House Iraq Group [Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Jim Wilkinson, and Nicholas Callo] would have been cleared for briefings by Ms. Plame, with Stephen Hadley the most probably attendee as deputy National Security Adviser.

Novak and Cooper would have received the leak from WHIG, which was created as an agitprop operation to promote the Iraq War. Logically the group created to promote the war would be the entity used to attack any reports that made the war less likely.

I would like to make it clear that everything I have written is openly available on the Internet and involved no "special sources". The pattern has been available for anyone who took the trouble to look and has minimal skills with Google™. The problem most people have in understanding the Busheviks is assuming that there is some form of "genius" involved, when they are simply arrogant.

Andante is contemplating Ms. Miller at Collective Sigh, while Hesiod posting at American Street is annoyed at Mickey Kaus for stealing his idea about a possible Miller interview of Ms. Plame.

Sorry, Hesiod, but Ms. Plame was a career operative, and certainly wouldn't have talked to Judith Miller. Ms. Plame would know that Ms. Miller lacked the clearance to know of her existence.


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

Festus, Mrs. D, Tonto

Friday Cat BloggingFriday Cat Blogging

We aren't telling.

[Edit: These are the prime suspects in the appearance of a former Norway rat on my Mother's front step. I know it's a gift, but that is not how my Mother views it.]

Friday Ark


Wednesday, July 27, 2005
  Common Sense
CNN has a cheeky headline writer for: Cherie warns on anti-terror laws.

Responding to some reports of reaction to the London bombing: "Cherie Booth QC warned the government against an overly authoritarian reaction which would 'cheapen our right to call ourselves a civilized nation.'"

Ms. Booth's husband, Tony Blair, is a British politician, while she is a noted human rights attorney, who made her comments at an international conference in Malaysia.
...she said: "Nothing I say here could possibly be construed as making light of those horrible acts of violence or of the responsibility imposed on the UK and other governments to keep the public safe, or of the difficult and dangerous task performed by the police and intelligence services."

But she added: "At the same time it is all too easy for us to respond to such terror in a way which undermines commitment to our most deeply held values and convictions and which cheapens our right to call ourselves a civilized nation."
I find the use of her first name alone to be odd: she isn't a rock star.

According to her bio:
Booth became a barrister in 1976 and Queen's Counsel in 1995. In 1999 she was appointed a Recorder (a permanent part-time judge) in the County Court and Crown Court. She is Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, and Governor of the London School of Economics and the Open University. She is a founding member of Matrix Chambers, London, from which she continues to practice as a barrister.
When you throw in the fact that she is married to the British Prime Minister, she certainly deserves some common courtesy.

  Shame Them
CNN has this on their front page: Pregnant Philadelphia mother of one missing.
The Philadelphia Citizens Crime Commission, with the help of a Philadelphia blogger, have launched a reward fund for information leading to Latoyia Figueroa, a 24-year-old pregnant mother of one who has been missing since July 18. The Philadelphia Citizens Crime Commission, with the help of a Philadelphia blogger, have launched a reward fund for information leading to Latoyia Figueroa, a 24-year-old pregnant mother of one who has been missing since July 18.
Richard "Cranium" of All Spin Zone, a Philly blogger is staying on the story and helping to raise a reward fund.

In addition to fund raising he has also been promoting an e-mail campaign and asking people to mention this case on their blogs. It appears he has had some success in raising the profile of this case, which is good news, but there are a lot of missing people that no one, other than their family and friends, ever hears about.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005
  Life Intrudes On Blogging
A program that has worked for the last two decades with only minor tweaking is suddenly "totally worthless" after a relative was hired to work in the client's office. The client just doesn't "understand what the problem could be".

Work on hurricane repairs that has been paid for is not being done in a "timely fashion" and I've been drafted to supervise "the friend" my landlord hired to do it.

What with one thing or another, blogging will come in fits and starts.


Saturday, July 23, 2005
  Lions and Tigers and Bears
Because hurricanes and shark attacks aren't enough, ABC has decided to publicize: Dangerous Currents Stalk Florida Panhandle.

Yes, there are rip currents. Yes, rip currents can be dangerous if you shouldn't be in the water in the first place.

A group is trying to convince the Walton County commission to provide lifeguards on the beaches. Walton is the county directly to the east of me. The advocates claim, mistakenly, that Walton makes millions of dollars from the tourists and should provide lifeguards.

Walton provides the state-wide colored flag system to warn of water conditions, but they don't have the money to hire lifeguards. The county is not wealthy and the development along the beaches is new. The people who live in the northern three-quarters of the county are not going to agree to an increase in their taxes to pay for lifeguard service. The people who live on the Gulf know better than to swim when there are rip currents.

I have swum in the Gulf and have been caught in rip currents. Rip currents are a real pain and require a lot of swimming you probably didn't want to do, but the Gulf is warm salt water and it is not a great feat to float until you are clear of the current and then go back to shore with the waves.

Lifeguards aren't a replacement for common sense. If there are large red flags on the beach, don't go into the water.


  RIP John Baldry
Canadian Broadcasting announced the passing of "Long John" Baldry this Thursday in Vancouver from a chest infection. He was 64.

He was a force in British blues and well known enough that the "Rolling Stones" were the opening act for some of his concerts in the 1960s. Elton John was a sideman in one of Baldry's bands and he influenced many of the greats of British pop music.

He was an acquired taste that was occasionally acerbic, but his music was a lot of fun.


  Plame and Other Lies
This is not an isolated incident, but is a continuation of the series of lies that have resulted in the increase in world-wide terrorism. One of the more important groups that realized that the Bush administration lied its way into the Iraq War are the terrorists. The lies have made the propaganda of the terrorists more believable: the terrorists also lie, but they have ample cover because of Bush's lies.

The Downing Street Minutes make it obvious that Bush wanted a war regardless of the cost, and the Plame case demonstrates the total lack of regard for national security that characterizes these deranged amateurs.


  The Federal Court
I would like to make a simple point that seems to be overlooked in all of the "noise" about nominations: the Federal courts are the third branch of government, not an extension of the executive branch.

There is a very definite difference between a President nominating someone to a position in the executive branch, and nominating a judge. The President should be given some leeway in selecting the people who will work for him/her. These are people who will be implementing the policies of the President, so I would restrict objections to competence and criminality.

When it comes to judges the bar should be raised considerably. Federal judges receive lifetime appointments and constitute a force for checking the power of the other two branches. It is reasonable to expect greater degrees of competence for the higher courts than the lower, and the Senate should be an equal partner in the process. The executive and legislative branches should achieve consensus on judges.

The President is elected to head the executive branch only. There are no elections for Federal judges. Read the Constitution, it's in there.


  The Bush Boom
While recuperating from a bicycle accident, Vaara at Silt noticed this article at the Beeb: Man shoots postman to get jailed.

William Crutchfield, a 60-year-old electrical contractor with health problems, shot his postman in Snellville, Georgia. After the shooting he drove to the police station and confessed.

He wants a life sentence in prison where they will take care of his medical condition and provide him with the food and shelter he felt he would lose to $90,000 in medical bills.

Crutchfield worked out that shooting the postman would make it a Federal crime and he would go to the much better Federal prison system.

He felt his choices were Federal prison or living on the street. The new bankruptcy law doesn't seem to be an option.


Friday, July 22, 2005
  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

I Need a Bigger Lap

Friday Cat Blogging

Don't get pushy, Pipsqueak!

[Edit: Dot is just barely tolerating Ringo, and Ringo hasn't learned all of the signals that prevent fights.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, July 21, 2005
  Another Thug
So now I learn that this inexperienced candidate for the Supreme Court was part of the "Brooks Brothers riot" in 2000 that disrupted the vote count in Palm Beach county, along with John Bolton.

That should tell anyone who cares what Roberts thinks of voting rights and states rights: they are fine as long as they help the Republican Party.

I get a queasy feeling when I hear Southern law enforcement officers talk about "outside agitators", but that's what we had in Florida during the 2000 vote. A hoard of lawyers who abused the court system with suits that they didn't actually have the standing to bring. These weren't Florida lawyers, they were "outside agitators" brought in with promises of jobs which they have received from the Bush administration.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005
  RIP James Doohan

United Federation of Planets
"Scotty" Has Beamed Up

Best known for his role as Commander Montgomery Scott, Engineering Officer of the Starship Enterprise in the original Star Trek television series, the Canadian-born actor with a talent for accents was a regular at fan conventions.


  One Small Step

Apollo 11

Apollo 11

Launched: 16 July 1969 UT 13:32:00 (08:32:00 CDT)
Landed on Moon: 20 July 1969 UT 20:17:40 (15:17:40 CDT)
Landing Site: Mare Tranquillitatis - Sea of Tranquility (0.67 N, 23.47 E)
Returned to Earth: 24 July 1969 UT 16:50:35 (11:50:35 CDT)

Neil A. Armstrong

Pilot: Columbia Command Module
Michael Collins, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF

Pilot: Eagle Lunar Module
Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr., Colonel, USAF


  Highly Qualified?
John Roberts is a Catholic from Buffalo, New York who graduated from Harvard, undergraduate and law school. So far no problem, good start, on the right track.

After graduation he acted as a clerk for two Federal judges, including Justice Rehnquist, for a total of two years. He has been a justice of the Court of Appeals for two years, and that's it. Being a lawyer is not being a judge. Being a Supreme Court justice is a position with no oversight. Every justice is a free agent. It is the nation's highest court.

Why appoint a man who is still a rookie Appeals Court justice to the Supreme Court? There are plenty of experienced Appeals Court justices who could be ready to go from day one, so why select someone who is so inexperienced?

Pundits talk about his great resumé, but it is lacking in judicial experience. He has argued cases before the Supreme Court, but that doesn't mean that he is qualified to be a judge.

I realize that Bush sees the need to re-stock the Supreme Court with white guys from the Ivy League, but there are certainly a number of experienced judges in lower Federal courts who attended the Ivy League and are white, Christian males.

I would be less than totally surprised to find out that Mr. Roberts is a member of Opus Dei, as is Justice Scalia.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005
  RIP South Knox Bubba
The head of the Rocky Top Brigade, noted photographer of birds, champion of lesser known quarterbacks, and chronicler of the foibles of the "Good Old Boy" network in Knoxville, Tennessee, South Knox Bubba has shut down his site.

A bit earlier the publisher of a local weekly had gone ballistic over comments on a forum hosted by SKB and started making threats, including exposure. That story was picked up by the local newspaper and the damage was done.

Being a small business owner and liberal in an extremely "conservative area", no doubt things reached the point were the avocation, blogging, was having an effect on the vocation, writing business software.

It may seem odd to some, and others would counsel staying for the fight, but when you have to meet a payroll and make payments, the risk becomes too great. When you are dealing with people who will harm national security to attack a perceived political opponent, you must deal with the reality. There are people and businesses who will boycott others that do not share their political views. Both sides do this and it is part of today's fractured world.

If you have never seen his pictures of birds in flight, you have missed a rare pleasure. Bubba will be missed.


Monday, July 18, 2005
  Harry Potter Newsflash
According to a cousin who finished the new book over the weekend: the character who dies ... isn't Harry Potter.

For those who have discovered my Potter Pages: I didn't update to include the death of Sirius Black until this weekend. Sorry, no spoilers from me.


Everyone in my little town now has electricity again. Two of my neighbors had lines torn loose up on the poles, so they had to wait. A lot of equipment will fail now, as the restoration of power has a tendency to come as a surge, which often damages air conditioners and refrigerators.

I finished taking down the last two large trees that were damaged, a live oak and a camphor tree, but I need to look for broken limbs and small trees that were bent over by the wind. There was a lot of "salt burn", trees and bushes damaged by the salt water carried in the winds coming off the Gulf. This may kill other trees, but I think the problem may have been reduced this time by the rains that we have had since the hurricane.

Gasoline is still hard to locate, and it may be a while before you can take it for granted. Many people have seen the oil platform that was "listing" in the Gulf, but it was being moved and was not a producing oil rig. The problem is the down time at the Gulf Coast refinery for TS Cindy and then Dennis, complicated by the barges being hauled inland to protect them. The tank farms are below normal capacity and the truck transport has been disrupted. The price has jumped $.20/gallon due to the storms and the demand of the Summer season.

In those stores that have reopened, the hours have been reduced and the shelves haven't been re-stocked, so some items are in short supply. There have been price increases, but they probably don't reach the "gouging" level. Many of the increases have been accomplished by not running any sales, and selling things for the "manufacturer's suggested retail price".


Friday, July 15, 2005
  Privileged Communications
Listening to all of this talk about reporters and their need to protect their sources, just makes me despair about the death of irony. The push for a shield law to prevent the government from compelling reporters to testify about sources of their stories is being lead by a group of idiots who are defending people who assisted in the violation of a "shield law" that does exist.

The most important classified information there is in the intelligence community, the information that everyone wants to protect and to discover is covered under the phrase: "sources and methods". The last things you want the "enemy" to know are "how you are gathering data, and the people providing that data". The "enemy" already knows what the data is, it's their data after all, but they don't know that you have it.

The government is required to protect its sources. There are laws in place to prosecute people who reveal those sources. There are people in prison for the remainder of their lives for revealing sources. As Culture Ghost points out: there is no difference between what Aldrich Ames did, and what Karl Rove did. Both revealed the identity of sources and have damaged the ability of the United States to defend itself. Ames did it for money and Rove did it for revenge and power, but they both damaged the US intelligence community.

This isn't about politics; this is about national security. This isn't a dirty tricks investigation; this is an espionage investigation. If reporters want to have their "right" to protect sources considered, they might consider not becoming involved in a conspiracy to commit espionage against the United States. If they can't tell the difference, they might want to consider a career change.


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]


Friday Cat Blogging

You'd think he would come up with something new!

[Edit: This was the dinner crowd Thursday. A couple of the regulars were at the secondary station. It takes time for them to resume their normal routine.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, July 14, 2005
Haloscan is have fits which makes commenting difficult, and for some reason I've been banned at Blog Amy.

I was attempting to leave a note of condolence for her loss of her pet when I found out I was banned. If you aren't banned and drop by, tell her I'm sorry about her loss. The little guy had been sick lately and was relatively old, but it hurts to lose a friend even when you know it's coming.


  The Aftermath
Generators have proven more deadly than the hurricane. Two people have died in Pensacola from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of running generators inside, and a power company employee was killed because, unknown to him, the line he was trying to repair was being powered by a personal generator directly connected to house wiring.

With temperatures in the 90s and 100% humidity, people are experiencing heat-related illnesses while cleaning up or living in homes without power.

FEMA still hasn't changed it's totally absurd rules about registration, requiring people to call an 800 number or applying through a web site before going to a local office, just like last time. A HINT, YOU TWITS! IF WE HAD WORKING PHONES OR COMPUTERS, WE PROBABLY WOULDN'T NEED YOUR SORRY BUTTS!


For Ivan the Operation Blue Roof program was in force and qualified people had their roofs covered with blue plastic tarps by crews working for the Corps of Engineers. This time they will be handing out a couple of tarps to people who qualify and go to a distribution center. No word on what people who are poor enough to qualify, and too poor to own a car are supposed to do, nor what people who aren't able to put the tarps on the roof by themselves are supposed to do.

FEMA will only pick up 75% of the government costs for this storm, while they picked up 90% of the costs of Ivan, which was before the election. They still haven't given a clear explanation of what costs they will cover, and they haven't provided a time line during which the costs will be covered.

We are having thunderstorms roll though, so work is slower than Ivan where we had a month of no rain and lower temperatures.


  Happy Bastille Day

La Fête Nationale
Bastille Day


Thank you for the help with the Revolution.

Happy Birthday Sashochka.

Some background.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005
  A Little Background
For those who have never done any research on espionage and intelligence agencies, like the press corps, this is they way a standard covert operation is run:

You need a front, usually an international business. Business is useful, because most international businesses function in a remarkably similar fashion to covert operations - they bribe people, seek information, hide funding sources, use postal boxes and rented offices to avoid taxes and get business.

The front needs a "legitimate" contact, someone who can be researched and identified. Someone with minor celebrity, such as being the wife of an ambassador, is just about perfect. Someone like that could be checked by intelligence services and ignored.

These front operations need to actually function like the businesses they claim to be, so they will actually pursue business and fulfill contracts to prove they are real. Some percentage of the employees don't know they are working for a covert front, and are totally separate from the espionage function.

If the cover on the front is blown, say someone tells the world that the ambassador's wife is actually an employee for the CIA , there is a problem for everyone associated with the front, not just those who were part of the espionage operation. Counterintelligence people don't like being fooled, so everyone will be hauled in and considered guilty. There is rarely any effort to allow those people to prove their innocence.

The Plame case isn't about just one woman, it is about everyone who worked for her covert operation. Dozens of people have been put in danger because of this revelation, not simply one upper-middle-class Washington suburbanite. Most of those in trouble were not involved in espionage; they are simply "collateral damage" in a nasty little personal feud.

For all those people with their talking points: it doesn't make much difference to the innocent people affected whether Karl Rove intended to harm them, or knowingly harmed them, or simply, recklessly harmed them, they are suffering, and some may have been executed. This is why it is supposed to be difficult to get a security clearance: leaks get people killed.


Monday, July 11, 2005
  skippy still need hits
The marsupial master of miniscule just missed his goal of a megahit on his third blogiversary¹ [while I was down], but he has two days to hit it on the third year at sitemeter.

If you're sitting there bored, hit the link to skippy the bush kangaroo, and help him out and then do it again, because if you are the "megahit" there could be fabulous prizes².

1. Jeralyn of TalkLeft coined that term.

2. Those are like fabulous animals and 0%/no fee credit cards.


  The Absurdities Of Life
At some point my brother bought a six-pack of water, probably for the flight home and only took two bottles, so I added it to the stock for the hurricane.

When the hurricane takes down the tower of the only radio station worth listening to in the area, and the cable, telephone, power, etc. are off you have time on your hands waiting for the screaming winds to stop.

So I read the label [that's boredom] for this 16.9 fluid ounce [1.05 pint, 500 milliliter] bottle of "Aquafina - pure water - perfect taste" that was bottled "under the authority of PepsiCo, Inc.".

The "Nutrition Facts" tell me the bottle contains nothing: no calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, or protein.

I'm told to store this in "a cool place", and the cap has an expiration date of "Jun2507".

The "perfect taste" for water is nothing: it is a tasteless, odorless, colorless liquid. Water is definitely water from 33° to 211° Fahrenheit [1° to 99° Centigrade] and is not known to spoil.

This could be from anywhere: a spring, lake, pond, well, and it is purified by reverse osmosis, a filtering process. How much "authority" does it take to turn on a valve and check to ensure you have H2O after the filter.

At least with a SCUBA tank, you know they have to compress the air.

[Edit: If you are wondering why this is my first post, it is after getting access to the media following 24 hours of being cut off, I find it is more relevant to humanity than anything they are reporting. These people just don't understand; they have no sense of values.]


Sunday, July 10, 2005
  A Short Report From The Front
I'm back to dial-up and my antique laptop as the power is definitely iffy. The first major band came through yesterday at 2PM with a major thunderstorm including damage from a lightning strike about two blocks away.

Dennis will apparently come ashore in Pensacola at about 2PM this afternoon as a minimal Category 4 or maximum Category 3 hurricane with constant winds of approximately 140 MPH. This storm is much tighter than Ivan was, so the winds in Cinco Bayou my actually be lower than Ivan and because Dennis is moving faster than Ivan, they hurricane winds may only last 6 hours, instead of the 13 hours of Ivan.

US 98 which runs on Okaloosa Island [a barrier island] is just about cut again and all of the local bridges are closed.

Just another day in paradise with a major hurricane every ten months. Oh, did I mention the series of tropical waves that are coming into the Caribbean? Doesn't look like there will be much rest until December 1st.


Friday, July 08, 2005
  A Little Help
Who, precisely, thinks that sending out a lot of jumpy looking guys with sub-machine guns to hang around subway and bus stations is a good idea? If you are trying to reassure people why not use some calm looking people who can project confidence, instead of people that inject fear and concern into the atmosphere?

When all of the National Guard personnel showed up with their M-16s at the airport, I was concerned that there would be an accident.

Just wondering.


  We Interrupt This Program

 Hurricane Flags

New articles may be few and far between because Mama Nature wants to have a conversation with a Bush brother about global warming:

The Weather Channel reports -
Four Atlantic weather systems -- Arlene, Bret, Cindy and Dennis -- reached Tropical Storm status by July 5, the earliest for so many named storms in recorded history. Only three major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) have hit the U.S. coast in July in the past 100 years. When the maximum sustained winds in Hurricane Dennis peaked at 150 mph this past morning, Dennis officially became the strongest July Atlantic Basin hurricane on record and the strongest Atlantic hurricane this early in hurricane season.
This page contains some of my thoughts, which need some upgrading since Ivan. We are doing a lot of things earlier in the process but have been blind-sided by Tropical Storm Cindy. The gasoline moves from the refineries to the tank farms by barge, and the barges were hauled out of the Gulf for Cindy. Locally we ran out of gasoline last night, so if you didn't get it you are out of luck.

I'm at 30° 25' 20" North / 86° 36' 37" West if you're playing with your tracking chart at home. As things stand now, Dennis looks like it is going to hit just East of Pensacola on Sunday afternoon.

One of the few local media outlets that manage to stay on the air is the NPR station at the campus of the University of West Florida in Pensacola. WUWF has a live audio feed, which unfortunately uses the Windows Media player.

I've been there and done that, but after these things leave the exciting part begins: amateurs with chain saws.

I have back-up systems that I will use if the phone lines work, but there is no guarantee. I hang around to help others and keep track of things. There are people who have no choice but to stay and I can help them.

A warning: I have no ethical problems with shooting looters or sightseers and the state of Florida has just made it legal.


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

Ringo Has A New Toy

Friday Cat Blogging

Surrender or die white thing!

[Edit: It was a nearly empty roll that was being used to clean glasses before she discovered it.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, July 07, 2005
  If You Want To Help London

Red Cross

City of London

British Red Cross

London is my second favorite city in the world. I loved being able to move around on the Underground, and the top of a double decker bus is a great way to make a quick tour.

It is more of a collection of small towns than a monolithic entity, so you can discover a totally different place without ever leaving behind the convenience of the Tube. While I recognize it might be an annoying place to live and work, it is a wonderful place to be a visitor.

  London July 7, 2005

United Kingdom

London 07/07/2005

George Galloway: I told you so

Britain has one of, if not the best anti-terrorism effort in the world. They have had years of experience combating the IRA. Spain had years of experience combating ETA. The US still isn't worth spit, and our government hasn't done anything effective to improve the situation.

While all of the resources were being used to protect the G8, the terrorists struck London.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
  How Not To Get Cooperation
CBS reports that: Resentment Growing In Aruba
John Maywether told a growing crowd that Aruba is not an island of criminals. "We have 96 (prison) cells and 53 percent of them are occupied by non-Arubans," he said.
The officials went looking for a missing tourist, not a victim of foul play. Her friends were of little help and it took some work to find the last people to see the woman.

They have a legal system and they are not about to violate it because the mother of the missing woman can get on television in the United States. Aruban officials are not going to cede authority to the FBI, and American law enforcement has no power on the island.

As it stands now they have a missing person case. That isn't a crime, and after all of the exposure of the "runaway bride" people in the rest of the world might think that this is something young American women do frequently.

As I live in a resort area that used to be frequented by college students on "Spring Break", I know that teenage drunks do a lot of really stupid things. As the stupidity has resulted in deaths, our area actively discourages college students, making it very difficult for them to rent rooms and deploying extra officers to discourage underage drinking.

I feel sorry for the woman's parents, but without some proof of a crime, the Arubans can't go much further.


  Rules Of Engagement
James Wolcott noticed a successful plan for Iraq: Do the Right Thing, then Go.

His article points to an op-ed piece by William S. Lind: Doing It Right about a California National Guard unit that is keeping the peace in a small area of Iraq by acting like police officers, not soldiers.

I was in both the military and law enforcement: the rules of engagement are very different. If you don't act like the military when taking a country, you die. If you don't act like a police officer when you occupy a country, a lot of civilians will die before you are killed.

The role of the police officer in society is to keep the peace. Whenever possible a police officer will try to calm down a situation and not instantly respond with violence. Soldiers are trained to respond to any perceived threat with violence, not de-escalation.

We have too few soldiers, and they have the wrong skills.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005
  A Busy Week

Hurricane Hunters

Looks like a busy week for the flight crews of the ten WC-130s of 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron [USAFR], 403rd Wing, Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi.

Tropical Storm Cindy will make landfall in the next few hours with a lot of rain, and hopefully the pumps in the "Big Easy" can deal with it. Cindy is on course to go across the Deep South.

At the beginning of next week, the storm that will probably be Hurricane Dennis will be selecting a victim to assault.

If you would like to watch our little chunks of weather, I use the Weather Underground, which provides me with all of the data my taxes pay NOAA to gather and crunch.


  The Election Is Over
CBS gives people the "good" news: Payback Time For Hurricane Victims.

FEMA wants Floridians to return $27 million in aid "overpayments" based on a review of the money that they handed out before the 2004 election. This does not include the money that FEMA handed out in Miami-Dade county; that Florida Senator Nelson pointed out was not actually struck by a hurricane.

FEMA has obstructed debris clean up by changing the rules and imposing extremely short time periods, and none of the state's Republican politicians has mentioned that everything changed after the election.


  You Get What You Pay For
NPR reports: Massachusetts Town Locks Doors on Public Library.

After the voters in Hamden, Massachusetts refused to raise their property taxes to cover costs, the town has slashed services and closed the local library. The library had remained open during two world wars and the Depression, but it was unable to survive the current tax structure.

As the Federal government has transferred costs to the states, the states have transferred costs down to the local governments. If the local governments are unable to fund the costs of the programs, the programs have to be cut. As many programs are funded by matching funds, these cuts are often much larger than they appear on the local budget.


Monday, July 04, 2005
  In Other News
Jillian lands a big one at skippy and hopefully this will be a wake up call to all of the "Economic Redevelopment Agencies: What corporations want.

The basic story line: the tax breaks and give-aways that states and cities keep telling people will attract businesses are not as important as an educated workforce and the cost of healthcare.

Remember: with tens of millions of Americans without coverage the US spends twice as much per person for healthcare with worse results than other industrialized countries.

Sleep researchers are trying to figure this out: No shut-eye for newborn dolphins, orcas.

Baby dolphins and orcas [killer whales] are awake and swimming full time for weeks after their birth, which contrasts with the pattern for all other mammals.

Current guesses are that the behavior protects them from predators, maintains their body temperature until they can put on body fat, and gives them time to develop their internal flotation sac.

In case you were wondering how to create your own: The scientific flash behind the fireworks.

Deep Impact probe hits comet. Just to rub a little salt into the wounds of the missile defense crew: nyah, nyah, nyah - other people can do it.

Vimy arrives safely in Ireland:
Two American adventurers have flown a Vickers Vimy biplane replica across the Atlantic, re-creating the first non-stop transatlantic flight, made in 1919.

Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett, 60, and co-pilot Mark Rebholz, 52, landed on the eighth hole on a golf course in Clifden, Ireland, on Sunday about 18 hours and 15 minutes after taking off from St. John's on Saturday evening.
Fossett does these things, which is nice, but it would be better if he would spend his money on something that mattered more than another stunt. He could have sent a number of kids through college for what this cost and it had already been done 84 years ago.


  Independence Day

John Trumbull's Signing the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...

Independence wasn't really achieved until September 3, 1783 when Britain signed the Treaty of Paris, and, to be factual, our current government only dates from March 4, 1789 when the first government under our Constitution was installed.

Liberty was not extended to all men until December 6, 1865 with ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, nor were women given the one of the most important rights of men until August 26, 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment recognizing their votes.

In truth, until July 2, 1964 when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Bill into law, there was no mechanism to force government to recognize the rights of all American citizens.


Sunday, July 03, 2005
  Minute Men
There's talk that the whackos concerned citizens who annoyed assisted the Border Patrol in Arizona now want provide the same service in Texas. Unlike Arizona, much of the land along the Texas border is private and there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm for permitting these groups to operate.

Given all of the Texas politicians who claim that this country is founded on Biblical principles, I wonder how they reconcile immigration policy with Leviticus 24:22 - "Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your G-d."

Actually, that chapter and verse seems to contradict a lot of laws seeking to treat others differently. Who knew the Levites were liberals?


  skippy still need hits
The marsupial master of miniscule needs about 6000 hits per day to accomplish his goal of a megahit on his third blogiversary¹.

He has been slowed by the connection problems of Jillian of the The Snarky Cat, who provides the occasional Friday kangaroo blogging.

If you're sitting there bored, hit the link to skippy the bush kangaroo, and help him out.

1. Jeralyn of TalkLeft coined that term.


  A Public Service
Since it's apparent that bureaucrats know nothing about the evolution of the media in this country and are intellectually incapable of understanding the parallel of the development of the printing press and the Internet, I've been renaming a few things.

About the only things I haven't changed slightly are the "Permanent Link" and the "Trackback", as they have no real counterpart in the printing world.

I started the project with sarcastic intent, but continued when it occurred to me that new readers [if I get any new readers who aren't related by blood or marriage] might be more comfortable with familiar terminology.


  To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
Publius at Legal Fiction channels "Billy the Bard" to produce: Sweet Dreams, Karl.

I would have channeled Terry Pratchett and featured Susan Death on Binky giving the Death of Rats a lift. [Squeak? SQUEAK!... snrf, snrf, snrf]

[Edit: Yes, my title is from Hamlet, which is not the same work used in the post. At least I didn't use "the Scottish play".]


Saturday, July 02, 2005
  He Has No Rhythm
My brother mentioned it and I realized he was right, and that was one of the things that bothers me about listening to Dubya: his speaking rhythm is wrong. When he speaks he stresses the wrong words in a sentence. He emphasizes the "talking points" which throws off the flow of his speeches. Your subconscious tells you something is wrong, but you're not quite sure what.

It's like listening to a Pole speak Russian: the sounds are there in the proper order, but the stress is on the wrong syllable. It's almost easier to listen to someone who can't quite master the sounds.

When added to the disconnected body language, it's like watching a six-grader tryout for the role of King Lear.


  Another Meme
First of all, I'm not going to "tag" anyone because I have a feeling that things are about to get nasty on several fronts, and people who get vacations may actually want to take them before their employer decides to cancel them.

Len at Dark Bilious Vapors tagged me, and I appreciate that, but it's about childhood, and I had a good time as a child.

The ChildHood Meme: What 5 Things Do You Miss About Your Childhood?

1. The number one has to belong to Barry, a German Shepherd who was a companion and guardian for most of my childhood. Instead of sheep, Barry took care of my brothers and me.

2. Being a child in Hamilton, New York when your Dad was the projectionist at the local theater. Hamilton provided leaves in the Fall and snow in the Winter. Halloween was what people today would like to believe it always had been.

3. Being a child living on the shore of Cinco Bayou. You spent most of the Summer in the water with fish, dolphins, and a dog to occupy your time. There was a boat for water skiing, and adults who provided no end of entertainment.

4. Then there was the time in the woods with lizards and snakes, access to knives and hatchets, and no one looking over your shoulder.

5. Finally there was the ability to use your own imagination to create your own games. To build tree houses and forts, to create bows and arrows with some string, a sapling, and a palmetto for arrows.

Unfortunately, today everything is structured and scheduled for children; they don't get to just goof off out of the sight of adults.

If anyone would like to pick up the meme and carry forward, do so with my blessing. I would also note that this was about what I miss, so I won't go into the "White" and "Colored" signs or the fear of nuclear war and polio, that were also part of my childhood.


Friday, July 01, 2005
  It's A Small World
Roger Hedgecock was the mayor for part of the time I lived in San Diego, until he had to spend all of his time with the trial.

Joe Scarborough was my Congressman when he resigned from the House, and he was never charged of the death of the woman in his local office, he just wanted to spend more time with his family.

So, I'm sure that, since I have long since ceased being a constituent, Randy Cunningham needn't be concerned about Federal agents conducting these searches.
FBI agents searched Cunningham's $2.55 million mansion outside San Diego and a 42-foot yacht named Duke Stir, according to a bureau spokeswoman, who said agents from the Department of Defense and Internal Revenue Service assisted.


  Jaws III
A 19-year-old German tourist was bitten on the leg by a shark while standing in chest deep water near lighthouse on Gasparilla Island Beach. It is on the Gulf of Mexico, about a third of the way North of the Florida Straits. If you assume a pattern, a 23-year old tourist will be bitten in three days in Key West.


  Happy Canada Day

La fête du


Thank you for not yet building a fence along your southern or western border, and for brewing great beer.

Schedule of Ottawa events and some background.


  Save Some Money
Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla calls a post about parents going whacko over their children's sports: Investment Counseling. Parents are trying to use sports to help get their kids into the "right university".

Folks, rich or poor, the best move you can make is to send your child to a community college for the first two years and get the basics out of the way. The first two years are to prepare you for the real work in your major that normally starts in the junior year. Taking the general courses and getting an associate in arts degree at an accredited community college will help your child succeed when you have to pay the big bucks for major university courses. Let the child learn to read and write at the college level without incurring a huge debt load.

Among the many things he touches on in this post , Michael Bérubé tells you that university English departments use teaching assistants and adjuncts to teach the lower level courses, not the full-time faculty. That's the system used by all of the big universities.

You can transfer after the first two years, and the institution on the bachelor's degree will still be a major university.

Give your child a chance to figure out if they want to go for a higher degree, if they have the skills needed, and if they can adapt to the college environment at a much lower cost. It will also give you another couple of years to find the money.


  The Royal Family Stayed In London During the Blitz
Capitol evacuated, Bush relocated in security scare.

If you would like one of the reasons that the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces are less than impressed with their civilian leaders look no further than these "air raid drills".

Gone are the days when the President actually commanded troops in the field, but the military would like to think the President has the courage displayed by the late Queen Mum during World War Two.

Their children don't serve in the military and they run into holes when sparrows fly over. It's embarrassing.


  Damn Straight
Melanie at Just A Bump In The Beltway is absolutely right when she says:
By the way, NYT letter writer, it is not my job, nor any other commentator's, to figure out how to win this war. Those of us who counseled against it in the first place were told that we were traitors. Bush got us into this mess, it is up to him and his minions to figure out how to get us out. The fact that he's made a mess of it is a judgment on him, not on us.
Winning the war required doing a lot of things correctly from the first, not trying to "fake it" after you have boots on the ground.

You can't undo all of the errors that were made. If the Busheviks had listened to the professionals who actually know how to do these things, they would have planned and manned for the worse case scenario, and hoped for the best.


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

Sox in Training

Friday Cat Blogging

Hey, It's hard to sleep with that flash going off!

[Edit: Sox is in training for the cat sleeping Olympics. He's warming up with a 180° twist.]

Friday Ark

[Update: Sox is training for The Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics.]

[Update 2: He faces some stiff competition .]

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