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31.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Gone Off the Rails Permalink to this item

So, does Lou Dobbs have a screw loose, or what? I saw the 60 Minutes piece on him, which is cast into a strange light when we hear that CBS has hired the guy. David Leonhardt's "Economix" column provides a pretty succinct dismissal for him as anything more than perverse entertainment.

I saw Dobbs delivering the line to Stahl that "If we reported it, it's a fact," and so could appreciate the description of that as an "Orwellian chestnut." And when Leonhardt hit too close to home with questioning Dobbs' casual relationship with the truth, this gem: "You’ve raised this to a level that frankly I find offensive."

Americans, as a rule, are smart enough to handle a program that mixes opinion and facts. The problem with Mr. Dobbs is that he mixes opinion and untruths.

The Road Back Permalink to this item

Black swan at the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve Alan Arnette's going to give Everest another try, with a series of peaks along the way to it. Once upon a time, the question of why I wanted to get to the top of something seemed completely irrelevant. I just did. If you know the feeling, "because it's there" is an answer, not an enigmatic refusal to address the question.

Maybe it changed for me on that one day seven years ago when Jobst Brandt thought I'd go with him on a hundred mile bike ride, me without the recent conditioning that makes such an enterprise interesting and fun. He was patient while I dragged him down on Mt. Hamilton, encouraging at times. I'm sure he must have said "don't you want to get to the top?" at least once.

I didn't much care to, but I let myself get talked into that much of too much, at least. But from there, I sent him on his way for the rest of the loop, rolled back down the mountain and took the train back to Palo Alto from San Jose.

"Because it's there" supplanted by "be here now."

29.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bronzed County Permalink to this item

The League of American Bicyclists has recognized our county as a "bronze-level" Bicycle Friendly Community, as reported in today's Statesman.

The League highlights Ada County's Engineering of the "Five Es". Maybe with a little more Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Evaluation & planning we could move up to silver or gold.

The Ada County Highway District's planning and programming manager sees the designation as a ticket for more funding: "Being the only bicycle-friendly community in the state and one of only two bicycle friendly counties in the nation positions us to access non-traditional funding to construct bicycle facilities and improvements," he observes.

Down-sized bike lane stencil from the ACHD Of course, the least "friendly" are most in need of improvement, but I'm not going to argue against more facilities and improvements here; there's still plenty of work to be done. One suggestion that occurred to me while riding to the grocery store the other day was to bring back the full-size stencil for the bike lane road marking. It's not like they're going to save significant money on paint, after all. It's hard to imagine what virtue there might be in making the bike lane road marking harder for motorists to recognize, and God knows our community's drivers don't need any more encouragement to run us off the road.

A more important issue is in the engineering category, the "condition and connectivity of both the off-road and on-road network." The arterial closest to home, North Cole Road, is pretty much a nightmare for cycling (and not that great for driving, either). I guess every city has its no-go zones, but after riding up and down the street 8 times this weekend, dodging driveways, debris and broken sprinklers, alternating between riding in the gutter and on the sidewalks (technically illegal, but much safer in this case, and appreciated by drivers), I'm keen to have any awards be a goad rather than a laurel to rest upon.

The key element of ACHD's success is that they "(plan) for bicycle facilities as part of all road projects, a commitment that has helped double the miles of bikeways over the past decade." It sounds more certain than it may be, however; when budgets get squeezed, as they inevitably do, cyclists will be the first ones thrown off the bus. So to speak.

It's a no-brainer Permalink to this item

The natives are restless. Meridian-American Wendie Loshbaugh is offended to her very core. About hyphenation. "Either you are born in America and therefore are American, or you aren't," she writes in one of today's more entertaining letters to the editor. "There's no in between."

I'm not sure why, but it made me think of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the naturalized Governator of Caluhfohnya, Constitutionally barred from taking over George Bush's job.

Loshbaugh, who has a few too many silent letters in her last name, I think, wants hyphenators to be prosecuted for treason, no less. It's the "invasion" that's her real problem, a complaint that would be more profound were her last name Running Eagle, instead of a mash-up of surnames Losh and Baugh. Perhaps there was a childhood trauma involved. You could poke an eye out with that thing.

Memorial Day Permanent URL to this day's entry

Honoring Our Military Permalink to this item

On this day of remembrance, I'm thinking about how unglorious war is; it's the least attractive means to an end, after we've exhausted the more moral and less costly possible ways to reach it.

I worry about what ends this administration has chosen as much as its means. The idea that this adventure in Iraq was "war for oil" was derided, ridiculed when some of us protested before the start. But the oil money that was going to pay for it all never materialized, and instead, four years on, we have a list of "benchmarks" that start with privatizing Iraqi oil.

Two years ago, the story was out that this "central front" we chose for the war on terror was seen to be a training ground for terrorists, not all of whom will be content to stay "over there" where we want them.

And when they leave the country, they'll be well-trained in the latest and most effective techniques to run an insurgency, to bedevil conventional and not-so-conventional military forces from any old superpower.

Peter and Paul Principle Permalink to this item

I have a copy of Andy Borowitz' Republican Playbook and I'm sure there's something amusing in there, but it's waiting in line behind a big stack of weighter volumes. This short take suggests it could be pretty funny stuff: Wolfowitz's Next Assignment.

Scarlet S-O Permalink to this item

This looks like one of those weekend puzzles in the funny pages: how many things can you find wrong with this picture?

MySpace is wrong, if you ask me. I'm sure someone's done something wonderful with one of their pages, but everything I've seen makes me feel like that late afternoon with two many hot dogs and too much cotton candy and one too many rides on the midway.

Then there's the "we kicked you off and didn't save anything, but I'm sure we had a good reason" explanation they provided.

And the you are a sex offender accusation, that's wrong. Based on... same name and birthday two years and two days apart. Yeah, that's really, really close. I'm sure a sex offender wanting to sign up on MySpace but avoid detection would lie about their birthday by a couple of days. Totally incognito.

The thing most egregiously wrong with the picture is the Scarlet Letters program we seem to have bought into. No sex offenders need apply. Can't live here, sex offender! Forget about "paying your debt to society" and moving on, once a sex offender, always a sex offender, and no, we can't possibly be too careful, because let me tell you a story...

Of course, we don't have that same program set up for domestic batterers (yet?). There are equally horrific stories to be told about those sorts of criminals.

27.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

R E S P E C T Permalink to this item

How about this for a national goal? "Pre-eminence in a world where nations respect us and seek to follow our leadership and adopt our values."

That's Al Gore's idea, part of an edited extract of his new book, The Assault on Reason.

In my half-a-century lifetime, I believe we have never been further from that goal than we are today. The choice of the neocons and the Bush administration was to have us followed out of fear not out of respect. See how well that's worked.

Only Recognizing Friends These Days Permalink to this item

It's getting a little sticky for the ruler of Texas, Speaker of the House Tom Craddick. I appreciate the subtlety of his parliamentary redoubt: if he doesn't recognize anyone from his growing opposition, they won't be able to make a motion to get him out of there.

Could make for the rest of this session and the next being somewhat constrained, as the suspense builds each time he recognizes someone to speak... or continues to refuse to do so. No toilet breaks or vacations, either?

Mine For All Time? Permalink to this item

Letter writers to the New York Times were inspired by Mark Helprin's modest proposal and came up with better opinions about the appropriateness of copyright protection without end than he did. (I note that I can't get a permalink for that page of letters... will the NYT put them behind the paywall in 7 days? Oh, the irony.)

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't Permalink to this item

Candidate George Bush deried the idea of "nation building," an undertaking that's hard enough for nations working on their own. After the administration's mind alteration following 9/11 and their letting slip the dogs of war, we are all crying havoc. Is the most important reason that we're staying in Iraq Bush's inability to admit failure? And as if staying there through the end of his term will somehow allow him to avoid the inevitable conclusion?

The most appropriate Memorial Day tribute imaginable is to respect the honor of our military by only sending them in harm's way when no other solution is possible, and only keeping them in harm's way while there is a legitimate Defense mission.

It may be a positive sign that there is at least some discussion of starting a cutback in deployed troops, although leaving Gen. Petraeus and Lt. Gen. Odierno out of the loop is more than a little bizarre, given all the lip service given to letting the new leader's plan work its magic.

But without determining what the hell the mission is, we're not going to achieve it, unless we happen to stumble into a miracle. Pacify the country? Eliminate terrorists? To much of the populace, we are the terrorists at the moment, and they want us to leave (depending on how you ask the question). Not because they hate us, and so they can come over and fight us here, but because they don't want an occupying army kicking in their doors and running them off their roads, because they thing the U.S. and other Coalition forces have done "quite a bad job" or "a very bad job" (76%) of carrying out their responsibilities, and because they think the presence of US forces in Iraq is making security worse (69%).

As Maureen Dowd puts it, "The president is on a continuous loop of sophistry: We have to push on in Iraq because Al Qaeda is there, even though Al Qaeda is there because we pushed into Iraq. Our troops have to keep dying there because our troops have been dying there. We have to stay so the enemy doesn’t know we’re leaving. Osama hasn’t been found because he’s hiding."

Found in a Library Book Permalink to this item

Jeanette's been volunteering for the Boise Public Library!, sorting donated books. She finds things. Names omitted as a courtesy to the credulous.

Dear Dr. ____

Thank you very much for taking excellent care of my wife ____.

As a believer of magnets, you can't be too far away from believing in fresh crushed garlic, so I thought you might be interested in this book.

26.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Don't Sign It! (Or Maybe Do) Permalink to this item

While sorting through the papers that threaten to bury us here, I came across an insert from the last bank statement, on "Privacy Matters" (their italics, not mine). A moment before I discarded it, I decided to glance at the 5 important tips. The usual stuff, until number 5:

Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED."

This is from my bank, mind you, so carries some weight of authority. Nevertheless, I've seen Urban Folkore before, and this required Googling. No problem getting 5,000 hits on that first sentence, but a motley collection of sources, none jumping out and shouting "Definitive!" at me.

And besides, don't all those credit card providers tell you to sign the back immediately "for your protection" (and theirs; you agreed to all that fine print we tucked away somewhere, don't you? Of course you do). Yes, they do.

Scambusters did the legwork for us: it's "an urban legend and NOT a good idea. We researched it quite thoroughly by calling Visa, MasterCard and American Express," who all "advised that you definitely SHOULD sign your card."

ZUG ("the world's only comedy site") offers the lighter side of credit card signatures, something you might not have known they had. Unless you were responsible for one of ZUG's claimed 30 million page views for his Credit Card Prank. (If you're not LOL by the end of that, try the Credit Card Prank II.)

25.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

War on Terror Permalink to this item

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.

So it goes.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

24.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Aftermath Permalink to this item

Joan Opyr has more on the shooting in Moscow, on NewWest, before learning that the shooter was a member of the Aryan Nations, unfortunately not yet ancient history in our state. Even more incredibly, he had a federal license to possess fully automatic weapons.

Earlier this year, Hamilton said he was going to take some people with him when he killed himself, and he was true to his word. His wife, Moscow police officer Lee Newbill, and church sexton Paul Bauer were at the end of his "long history of domestic violence, assault, mental illness, and run-ins with the police."

He wasn't supposed to have weapons by one court's reckoning, but because the charge at issue at the time was "only" a misdemeanor, the police couldn't actually go in to his house (or wherever) and look.

As if the patterns of domestic violence aren't clear enough to be predictable by now? Not every tragedy is preventable, to be sure, and it's easy to second-guess things after the facts are seen with the benefit of hindsight, but.

We need to do better than we did in this case.

Unintended Humor Permalink to this item

I'm reading about Bush still backs his man Al (not ready to take a fall for a new Monica) in spite of the Congress gearing up to give the AG an unprecedented Bronx cheer, and I see the "Related" headline, "Ex-Justice Aide Admits Politics Affected Hiring," and I'm thinking, is this The Onion I'm reading, or the NYT? Politics affected hiring in the Bush Administration? We are shocked, shocked.

On the other hand, that's not actually funny ha-ha enough to make it into The Onion. This is, however, and had to be inside job, whoever wrote it knows us too well.

"It's a good language, serves us well in matters of communication, and we can't think of any good reason to go around knowing some other language that we have no use for."

21.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Mortgage Fraud in the 'Hood? Permalink to this item

Scan of the 4x6 note stuck on our door last week Connecting the dots between this big Post-it note and today's NYT story about the rise in mortgage fraud. Whether Bill Baker's "IDA Property Solutions" is on the up-and-up is an open question, but at the least, a $500 referral fee for passing this on "to a friend" and a company "seeking to purchase several houses in your neighborhood" is a damnable flipping scheme to make money fast at others' expense.

If we wanted (or were desperate) to "sell [our] house 'as is' for a fair price [sic] on the date of [our] choice," and didn't care what we were leaving behind, maybe we'd be delighted to be "a good candidate for [their] real estate buying needs," and the little yellow note on our door would be heaven sent. As 20+ year residents who rather like our quiet, stable neighborhood and the people who live here, Bill's about as welcome as a troop of carpenter ants. From the NYT:

"(F)rom coast to coast, these frauds often work the same way: Buyers gain control of properties at a low price and then sell them quickly at a big profit, rigging the game every step of the way by procuring bogus property appraisals and using false or stolen identities to obtain mortgages. While the scam artists profit in these flipping schemes, the lenders are ultimately the losers, left holding the bag when the loan on the home ultimately defaults.

"And whether in a wealthy neighborhood or a poor one, mortgage fraud has a similar impact. For one thing, inflated appraisals can cause tax assessments to skyrocket. At the same time, neighborhoods swept up in fraud rings tend to be hit repeatedly, leaving many houses vacant and in disrepair and causing property values to plunge."

20.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Too Close to Home Permalink to this item

One World flag-bearer, at a Moscow, Idaho peace rally in Feb. 2003 When I moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Moscow, Idaho in 1975, it was a shift to another world. While both were college towns (my reason for being there), Madison is a bustling state capital and home to an elite university whose enrollment back then was close to four times the population of the whole city of Moscow.

In 1980, I moved to a shady bungalow across the street from the Latah County Courthouse. Last night, two police officers were shot "near" the courthouse, and two bodies found along with an automatic rifle inside the First Presbyterian Church. That's just a block down Van Buren, the street that ended at our house on 6th Street.

We moved to Boise 24 years ago, but this still feels like violence in in "our" neighborhood, too near our family still there, incredibly out of place in a sleepy town in the middle of nowhere.

Update from the AP, Sunday afternoon. Three dead, including the shooter.

Two updates from Monday: there's at least one bullet hole in our old house. And the officer killed has the same name as the son of a friend and co-worker (but is the "other" Lee Newbill, a distant cousin).

19.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

We're Taking Over! Permalink to this item

At least you'd think so from hearing Newt Gingrich tell it, to the graduating class at Liberty University. "In hostility to American history, the radical secularists insist that religious belief is inherently divisive and that public debate can only proceed on secular terms," Gingrich says.

How fitting that he deliver this commencement address at the bastion of fundamentalism that has done so much for inherent divisiveness in this country. And he's still thinking about tossing his hat in the ring? We'll know for sure in October, right about the same time we'll know that the surge didn't stop the Iraq civil war. Oh do join the circus, Newt, there can never be enough pandering to the defunct Religous Right. John McCain's dedication to electability may not be solid enough to chase away the demons of repudiation coming back to life from his previous run. Mitt Romney can't tell a Shi'ite from a Sunni and he's thrumming for applause by proposing to simply torture them all.

Never has secularism looked like such a good idea. Getting back to the root of civilization, you might say. Radical.

Hard to Swallow Permalink to this item

Turns out that quality (and environmental) standards in other countries do actually matter. After bulking up the "protein" metric of feed with melamine, the Chinese are now seeing whether substituting diethylene glycol for glycerine is worthwhile.

The "good" news is that it's made its way to toothpaste, rather than feed, or food. This time. Spit!

18.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Who's worse, Nixon or Bush? Permalink to this item

Jules Witcover's TimesSelect blog, Campaigning for History considers the question, and comes up with the same answer as I do: Duh.

"(Nixon's) sins, deplorable as they were, mostly concerned domestic matters. They did not leave his party in the hole that Bush’s radical adventurism abroad has dug for the Republicans, and for the country he has so catastrophically led, without any compensating accomplishments akin to Nixon’s, domestic or foreign."

There are so many dimensions to consider. As we bid farewell to failed World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, and continue hoping to bid farewell to failed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, consider just one: misplaced loyalty. Whether his purpose is to keep Texas and other skeletons in the closet or to do the right thing by his buddy, the idea that an errand boy as unprincipled and deceitful as Gonzales should be kept on in one of the most important jobs in the country out of loyalty would be ludicrous were it not for that fact that Mr. Bush is so far insisting upon it.

"We think that the Attorney General has been honest and forthright in addressing (the Senate's) questions..."

As of today, Bush is said to have "full confidence" in his flailing AG. Never mind Gonzales' faults, or the incredible story of his and Andy Card's visit to twist John Ashcroft's arm in his hospital bed. Fredo's problem is "the bottomless bag of tricks that Democrats in the Senate would like to pull out" against him, according to Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto.

15.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Why is This Man Still Attorney General? Permalink to this item

With an errand boy as well-qualifed as Alberto Gonzales, it's no wonder that Bush is loath to give him up, but really, how much longer can this go on? Today we heard from John Ashcroft's Deputy Attorney General regarding a remarkable chapter from Gonzales' time as White House counsel.

When Ashcroft was seriously ill and in the hospital, Gonzales and Bush's chief of staff, Andy Card, went to Deputy AG James Comey to get him to sign off on the NSA domestic spying program. Comey had already talked it over with his boss, and they both refused to sign off on renewing the program. Card and Gonzales didn't take no for an answer, and headed off to the hospital to extract a signature from Ashcroft, but Comey headed them off at the pass. Comey's got integrity and he's a good planner:

Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card quickly departed, but Mr. Comey said he soon got an angry phone call from Mr. Card, demanding that he come to the White House. Mr. Comey said he replied: "After what I just witnessed, I will not meet with you without a witness, and I intend that witness to be the solicitor general of the United States."

11.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Must've Been a Toilet Training Problem Permalink to this item

Wild bittercherry, under our Ponderosa pine Dear Mr. Fischer:

What is your problem with bathrooms and sexuality?

Every house or apartment I've lived in for most of 52 years has featured one or more "unisex" bathrooms. In public facilities that accommodate multiple people at once, in our culture, it's customary to have "Men" and "Women" use separate facilities, but really, this is about meeting basic human needs, not sexuality.

Your expressed view that "gender is assigned at birth" is interesting, but not particularly informative. It is a matter of fact that some babies are born with ambiguous or hermaphroditic genitalia, and doctors have indeed "assigned" gender. The nature of physical development and hormones is such that there is a considerable gray area between simple categories "male" and "female."

And of course, some people do change gender after birth. It's no small matter, and not something undertaken lightly. I know; I worked with a person who went through the process, and was impressed with the courage it took to resolve the life-long issue. In between the time she discussed this with coworkers and went through surgery, there was a period where she still had male physiology, but presented herself as female. There was one bathroom on a large campus that she could use to avoid making anyone ELSE uncomfortable; I imagine she could have managed in either sort of stall in Men's or Women's restrooms.

Your need to make this a publicity problem is embarrassing, and does a disservice to the community, as well as to everyone and anyone who simply needs to go to the bathroom.

Unbuffered Reality Permalink to this item

"The middle class is a purposeful construct, a buffer keeping the poor from the throats of the rich. The continued destruction of the middle class will result in class warfare, social strife, social revolution in our country, if the trend is not reversed."

Maybe that was from Lou Dobbs' interview on 60 Minutes last week? (Maybe not, I don't see it in their transcript.) It stuck in my mind, and when I searched for "middle class buffer" I turned up the quote on a Dobbs column from last October, attributed to a neighbor of ours, "James in Idaho."

Not that it's a shocking revelation or anything, but the Bush and Republican assault on the middle class to enrich the uppermost in their minds is yet another example of their sowing the wind. Works well for a decade or so, after which I guess the theory is that they've moved to an offshore tax haven or something.

9.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Show of Hands for the Unqualified to Serve? Permalink to this item

I was going to write something pithy about the 30% of the Republican line-up most recently seen under Ronald Reagan's wing who don't believe in evolution, but then I see Marty Kaplan pretty much beat me to it, illustrating that our method for choosing our leader is none-stupider.

Case in point.

I don't need to spell this out for you, do I?

No need—Kaplan's quote from the Governor who was running back in 2000 pretty much covers it:

"I'm worried about over committing our military around the world. I want to be judicious in its use. You mentioned Haiti. I wouldn't have sent troops to Haiti. I didn't think it was a mission worthwhile. It was a nation building mission. And it was not very successful. It cost us a couple billions of dollars and I'm not sure democracy is any better off in Haiti than it was before.... I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be...."

It turns out that Brownback, Tancredo and Huckabee are backpedaling a bit on their show of hands. Evolution is OK with a "micro" prefix for Tancredo. He believes in it a little bit, in other words. Huckabee is man enough to admit he's really pretty ignorant of both science and God's ways, so probably just discount everything he says, eh? All three do want people to see their hands raised for the Hand of God, though. Amen.

Gauging LAPD Values Permalink to this item

This Democracy Now! video on YouTube is arresting. The black-suited army is even mowing down the Fox News reporters.

"The police were relentless, they were merciless. They would hit anyone in their paths they would shoot anyone [using rubber bullets], a lot of people were shot on the back, including myself." –Ernesto Arce, Pacifica Radio

Gauging Idaho Values Permalink to this item

When an organization's name has that tautological scent that says "how could you possibly be opposed to us?" you know there is plenty of good reason. Take the Idaho Values Alliance—please! Bryan Fischer's personal hobby horse is currently kicking up its hooves in the opinion swarm following the IVA "questionnaire" for candidates for the Idaho Supreme Court.

It starts with 20 statements that you can choose to "Agree" or "Disagree" with. And if your thinking isn't quite so black and white as Bryan Fischer? Express yourself with the nuance of selecting which of 4 US Supreme Court Justices "most reflects your judicial philosophy," or which of 4 US Presidents "best represents your political philosophy."

Bryan was kind enough to provide an "Other" category for both of those. (Jesus Christ would probably be a smart write-in.)

This is a man who would rather write "he (generic use)" than "he or she" when referring to Idaho's next Justice and wants to know if candidates agree or disagree with statements about inalienable rights that "all men have."

As Tom Henderson points out in the (paid subscription only) Lewiston Tribune, to take this test is to flunk the first requirement for the job: pig wrestlers need not apply.

4.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A Heartening Sign Permalink to this item

Two high-level meetings in Egypt, between U.S. and Iranian officials, and our Secretary of State and Syria's foreign minister. Both were absurdly brief, given the amount of work to be done, but the longest journey begins with a single step.

From the NYT analysis: "Under pressure from its Arab allies, the Bush administration has slowly edged away from its position that direct talks can be conducted only as a reward for what it considers good behavior."

Of course, there were also the recommendations of members of Congress from both parties, and the Iraq Study Group. Did the administration have to drag its feet a while to be able to pretend that they weren't being forced into doing the right thing? Well, whatever—this is a positive development however it came about.

QUEEN EATS FOR FREE Permalink to this item

I was scanning through this story from CBS News, about the Cheneys travelling in a state named for another Queen, with the current Queen of England and that guy she's married to, hoping that there wasn't anything embarrassing said by our Veep (there wasn't, at least not in this account), and found this gem:

Across downtown, the River City Diner and its hard-partying younger clientele planned to mark the day with the alcohol-rich "Royal Cape Shooter." A large sign beckoned Her Majesty with the invitation, "QUEEN EATS FOR FREE."

3.May.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Life in a Colorful Universe Permalink to this item

Conifer pollen, flowing downstream in our gutter It was some while ago (a long while ago, back before we had headlines on blogposts... third item down on April 4, 2002) that the overall color of the universe was named, and measured, and the blog took that color on as its cosmic background.

As you might note, the photo of the day "blends right in," a bit of serendipity, after we went outside in the rain to watch millions (at least) of conifer pollen grains wash down the gutter, reservoirs and venturis and eddies and vortex streets in miniature. I took pictures, we oo'd and ah'd as each moment a new pattern came up, twiddled the debris to make a new dam, or channel.

How long since you've played in the gutter?

Choosing one, cropping it, tweaking the histogram to lighten it up from the day's overcast, and the putting it up on the blog... I was delighted to see the pollen blending right in with this ersatz universe.

You Know What He Stands For Permalink to this item

What Bush Really Meant: "Either Pesident Bush is contemptuous of the facts or, on a matter of life and death for tens or hundreds of thousands of people, he does not care."

It's hard to know which is most frightening: his individual contempt for human life, in not bothering to consider the (lack of) evidence for 131 execution warrants, or the wholesale contempt he shows for families, tribes, cities, nations, and the rest of the world.

No doubt Permalink to this item

I went looking for a quotation to inspire a headline for today's lament of the sorry state of this country's leadership on this 4th anniversary of the "Mission Accomplished" show, as inspired (or whatever the antonym for that verb would be) by Dan Froomkin's Monday blog entry, "No Doubts, Then and Now." The topic of "certainty" is fraught.

William Congreve speaks to the moment: "Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear."

I get the impression that President George W. Bush is impervious to fear, landing on the ship of state behind a competent pilot, and strutting on deck as only a man born on third base and thinking he hit a triple could do.

When we hear of someone with the physical abnormality of being unable to sense pain, we imagine for a moment that it would be nice, not to have things hurt. Obvious problems come quickly to mind. Pain warns of danger, damage, possible death, as does fear.

Incurious and all-too-certain George's abnormality has taken a 6-figure death toll by now. And still, we are abused by the likes of Dan Bartlett, spewing political fairy tales as if this were a product marketing fabulation contest: "This president weighed all the various proposals, weighed all the various consequences before he did make a decision."

Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

Gen. William Odom (ret.), former head of the NSA under Ronald Reagan: "To put this in a simple army metaphor, the Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone AWOL, that is 'absent without leave.' He neither acts nor talks as though he is in charge. Rather, he engages in tit-for-tat games."

Vincent van Gogh: "For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."

So, who's crazy now?

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Our big oak is leafing out again Some good letters to the editor in today's NYT on this subject. Tenet's "finally coming clean about manufacturing the phony case for war with Iraq in a desperate effort to avoid forever being tainted by the stain of the Bush legacy." A "compelling job offer" for Official Punching Bag, a.k.a. war czar: "If things (continue to) go badly in Iraq, the czar can take the blame. If things go well, the president takes the credit." Outstanding!

But the best is Andrew Davison's proposed statement from the U.S. government, breaking the semantic contest to see who can paint the other side's position as black-and-white as possible. ("stay the course," as if we hadn't gone off a cliff, "cut and run" as if suicide is better than retreat, etc.).

"To the people of Iraq: We made a mistake. We believed that we would all be safer by doing what we did. We were wrong. We grieve as deeply for your dead as we do for ours. We are so sorry for the pain and destruction. We do not want to stay forever. Let us find a way, without more and more bloodshed, for us to leave."


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Saturday, 02-Jun-2007 20:56:27 MDT