Sunday, December 31, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
I highly recommend visiting the Hawaiian music site. I never knew Hawaiian music could be so much fun!! There is even a Christmas album which may become the "must have" album for my collection of odd Christmas tunes!
First, we're picking a theme for our impromptu party and going retro-Hawaiian with inspiration we picked up from our last trip to London's coolest pub, Trailer Happiness. (But any theme will do.) We're decorating the room with party lights (stolen from our Christmas tree), surf boards (erm, or in our case our snowboard) and colourful tropical fabrics (please, who doesn't have access to a thrift store boasting racks of $1.99 Hawaiian shirts?).
We're playing telephone, spreading the word with our guests coming in beachwear. If we're really ambitious we'll make leis out of paper and string. One of our favourite online resources is Party 411. They've got all the supplies we need for our pseudo-Luau.
Sips and Eats
We're serving Mai Tai cocktails, fresh fruit, shrimp rings and some yummy Ono Ribs. But there are more tropical-themed recipes in this awesome online guide.
Set the mood with some Hawaiian music. We're downloading tracks from www.hawaiianmusicstore.com.
Nothing says Hawaiian than Elvis in Blue Hawaii. We're renting the DVD and popping it on for some side-splitting backdrop entertainment. Long live the king! Then later (after the Mai Tais kick in), we'll be suggesting a couple of rounds of Identity Crisis or The Therapy Game. We may even try our hands at island-authentic limbo and hold our own how-low-can-you-go contest. Party 411 has the kit.
We're feeling the Waikiki heat...all we need now are a few sun lamps, sand and a cabana boy to say "Aloha!"
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Linus, the most beloved and bestest cat in the history of the world, passed away peacefully in his person's arms yesterday after bravely facing a short and sudden illness. He was nearly 17.
As a kitten, he quickly mastered all the difficult tricks: flying, levitation, wall climbing, and plant destruction. It was during this phase of his life that he earned the nickname "Booger-cat!" which stuck with him his whole life. But he was a gentle and loving spirit that won over all he met, cat-lovers and cat-haters alike.
As he matured, the "boogerish" aspects of his personality faded, and he remained gentle and sweet, and a constant "couch buddy" to his person.
There will other cats in his person's life; there will never be another cat like Linus.
Linus leaves behind an empty sunbeam, his toy mouse, his spot on the couch, his sixteen-year old scratching post, the cat blanket he never used, and the tears of his heart-broken person.
Linus, my friend, companion, and furry hot water bottle, I miss you terribly...
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I'm sure by now that everyone has seen the photos of the new cuddly christmas toy, the yeti crab
Image: (c) 2005 Ifremer / A. Fifis
There is a great page about where and when it was found here.
But there was more to this years marine census; In the Nazare Canyon of the coast of Portugal, at about 4,300 metres down, researchers found a single-celled organism that is a full centimetre across.Apparently, it is encased in a "plate-like shell...composed of mineral grains.
Another interesting article here.
There is a Canadian connection to the Census of Marine Life; researcher Ron O'Dor is the Senior Scientist with COML.
Man, we really know nothing about this planet and its complex ecology.
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As I was waiting to be admitted, one paramedic noted my discomfort and offered me a blanket. Being a stoic male, I declined the offer.
"Let me give you some advice," said the paramedic. "When a paramedic offers you a warm blanket, you should take it."
"Golly," I said, "maybe I'll take that blanket after all!"
It was now about 6:00, about an hour after I fell off my bike.
Soon, I was wheeled into a cubicle, where they quickly started me on an IV. A doctor came in, took a quick look and very quickly determined that at the very least my shoulder was dislocated. He asked if I had any numb patches and I indicated I did, on the side of arm. This could mean nerve damage.
Then he uttered the one word that I was longing to hear: morphine!
But soon I was left alone, and I reflected on my situation. I would need help tending to my sick cat. Someone was going to have to call work and let them know I was going to be off for a few days.
I looked at my arm. Man, I really wrecked it.
By this time, more of my guardians began arriving. First, my sister Brenda arrived, followed by my girlfriend Louise. Each time, the nurse mistook them for my wife.
My memory of events during this period is somewhat fluid, but somewhere between the blood tests and the IV drips, they took me to X-ray.
This was not an experience I'd like to repeat.
The x-rays taken while I was standing up weren't so bad, but I had to lie flat on my back for a set and this really hurt. I never saw any of the "before" X-rays until much later, but lying flat was excrutiating and I could clearly feel bones floating around in there. That was 20 minutes that I never want to repeat.
But interestingly, the numb patch in my arm regained feeling after the x-ray ordeal. I surmise that something moved just enough to take pressure off the nerve, and there were (and are) no more concerns about nerve damage.
I was taken back to my room to await judgement. Brenda and Louise both commented about how cold my hands were.
Soon, a young woman appeared, the orthopedic intern. She'd looked at x-ray, and reported that my arm was broken in three places and my shoulder dislocted. Worse, I had broken ay arm at the ball joint, making repairs all the more troublesome.
Here's the x-ray:
Now, I'm no doctor, but clearly you can see that the shoulder is out of the socket, and the ball is broken, and not in the correct shape.
She said there were two courses of action. I was going to need surgery on the arm, no question. But do we fix the dislocation with surgery at the same time, or do we fix the disocation manually, then do surgery on the arm later?
This didn't seem like much of a choice to me. If I'm going to go under the knife anyway, must as well do it all in one go.
But she wanted to call in some experts, so who am I to argue?
Somewhere along the way, the paramedic's gear was removed from my arm and replaced with a sling which I am still wearing. (I'm typing this one-handed, so plus read this at half your usual reading speed to get the full effect.)
The intern returned with the verdict.
"When I suggested we fix the dislocation first, everyone laughed at me."
There were two problems with her plan. First, the ball was broken off. It was not attched to the rest of the arm. There was no way to re-insert the ball into the socket. It probably would have caused more damage. Secondly, even if it was safe to proceed, she probably couldn't have done it.
I'm a big guy, and she was not a big girl. (She made Chantelle at work look like Shaq.) She physically could not have done it and the last thing my broken arm needed was someone heaving and hauling on my shoulder.
She said she would start on the paperwork and took a felt pen and initialed my injured left shoulder.
So it was surgery, a one-stop fix everything chop. Sort of like Midas Mufflers.
Surgery was set fot 7:45 the next morning, not at VGH, but at Royal Jubilee Hospital. The only question was, could they find a bed for me there? An ambulance was ordered anyway to transfer me. Louise and Brenda said their goodbyes and headed out to spread the word that I would, in fact, live. They noted before they left that my hands were warming up.
A nurse returned with the paperwork for me to sign, but stopped herself before handing it over. It seems that the intern, despite having examined and marked my injured left shoulder, put down on the forms that it was my right shoulder that was to be operated on.
Once the paperwork was fixed, I signed. Good thing I'm right-handed.
So there it was. I was facing my first surgery since having my tonsils out when I was 5.
The orthopedic surgeon, my newest guardian, drove over from the Jubilee to examine me. He explained that the surgery would take about two and a half hours. I've heard since that he is the best "shoulder man" on the Island. So far, I'd have to agree.
Around about 11:30, an ambulance arrived to transport me to the Jubilee, they found a bed for me, so we were all set. They loaded me up, and away we went. It was a quiet night for emergencies, the paramedics said. The quietest night they'd ever seen. They'd been on duty for six hours, and I was their first call. And I was just a glorified taxi ride.
By 12:30, I was safely tucked in my bed in Jubilee. Surgery was mere hours away.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
But somehow I suspect that this new ferocity and frequency of storms is just the new normal for the Island. The general feeling is that our winters are to become wetter and stormier while the summers become hotter and drier. Last summer we went four months without measureable rain which certainly put a significant dent in our water supply (and Tofino, for various reasons, ran out of water). But according to our Prime Minister and our Environment Minister (Rona Ambrose), there is no reason that Canada should cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.
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Saturday, December 09, 2006
Then you realize that the ground is getting closer. You barely have time to register that this is going to be bad. And that it's going to hurt.
It is bad. And it hurts.
Two and a half weeks ago I was riding my bike home following the path I do everyday. Part of the journey is a short trail connecting Burnside Road with the back of Tillicum Mall. On this day, dusk, 5:00 pm, water had washed out a pothole that had been filled by gravel back in the summer. Was the washout caused by all the rain we had received in November? Or was it run-off from the watermain that had burst in Tillicum Mall an hour previously? I don't know. All I do know is that as I went down the path, my front wheel caught the pothole and I flipped off my bike. There was a small culvert ahead of me with a concrete pad over top of it. I landed on the concrete pad with all my weight on my left shoulder.
The air rushed out of my lungs on impact. I bounced off my shoulder and onto my back (my backpack, actually). My legs swung up beside me and ended up in some bushes just off the trail. I'm not sure what happened to my bike. At least it didn't run over me.
I knew right away something was wrong with my left arm. It didn't feel "attached" properly. Still, I tried to gently move it, but the pain toldme that I had probably broken it. There was also the disquieting sensation of things rubbing together that should not be rubbing together.
Okay, so the left arm was clearly an issue. What else was broken? I hadn't hit my head (and yes, I always wear my helmet). I wiggled my toes, they seemed okay. My right arm seemed fine. It felt like I might have a scrarch on my left leg, but this was minor. Everything seemed up and running save my left arm.
I needed my cell phone which was in my backpack, and was now underneath me. Okay. This was gonna hurt, but there wasn't much else to do. Cradlling my left arm as best I could, I swivelled on my butt, getting my legs out of the bushes. Then I sat up.
Yes, it hurt.
I rested a moment, then cradled my left hand in my lap, then slowly unbuckled and removed my backpack.
I somehow managed to get my left arm out of the straps, then I opened it up and fished out my phone. I turned it on, hoping that it still had some juice. It did, I dialed 911. The operator was cool and professional and able to figure out what trail I was on. He asked if I was bleeding; I said I didn't so. He asked if I could get up and walk along the trail. I said I probably could, but I'd just as soon sit where I was.
I hung up and started to call family members to alert them to my plight. I told my mother that Louise would call soon. (I was supposed to help Louise move some furniture that evening -- clearly, I would do anything to get out of that.)
Just as I finished calling my mother, my first guardian of the evening arrived. A gentleman named Ollie rode down the trail and stopped to assist me. He picked up my bike from across the path and offered to wait the ambulance came.
When the ambulance arrived, Ollie, who as it turned out lives just a couple of blocks from me, offered to take my back home.
The bike was fine. Of course.
The paramedics checked me out. They cut away my bike jacket and jersey from my arm. I'm no doctor, but I could see that my shoulder looked wrong. Instead of curving down, it suddenly dropped off, and there was a large bump where there shouldn't be a bump. This was the ball joint at the end of arm sitting in a place where it shouldn't be. They checked my arm for numbness and I had a big numb spot on the outside of left arm. This indicated possible nerve damage.
They immobolized my arm by wrapping what looked like a life preserver around me, they got me to feet and we walked down the path. I climbed into the ambulance and sat down. They moved me over to the stretcher later as they tried to put in an IV line in my right hand. The paramedic kept failing to find a vein and apologised profously for continually poking my right hand in vein, er, vain. We went to Victoria General Hospital.
Friday, December 08, 2006
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Thursday, December 07, 2006
What is it about women that drives men batshit? Okay, not all men. Primarily men who follow one of the Abrahamic religions. Are men really so pathetic, or are we just culturally modified to be crazed control freaks with a deathly fear of vagina dentata?
I think about my grandmother bearing 17 kids and how, in her 70s, she still bore a grudge against the town doctor for not helping her out with any form of birth control. She sure as hell noticed that his wife stopped after bearing only two.
For some reason, our culture is having trouble looking outside itself; unable to see that what we want might just be what other people want as well. Things like freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to confront our accusers, control over our fertility, the ability to be self-determined actors in our own lives. We want it, but we're not really willing to allow others the same right to make their own choices. If a culture is defined by how it treats its women--and a damned good case can be made that it is--then the Abrahamic religions have a lot to answer for around the world.
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Sunday, December 03, 2006
When does a church cross the line from religious group to political action group? Seriously. Because one is almost above the law and the other has to abide by it. And in Amerika today, it seems that all you have to do is say that you're a church and bingo! you are. Even if what you're doing is acting as a fundraiser for the RNC or as a front for hate speech.
This is a serious question, because so many of these groups are acting in Canada. Just this summer my niece, nephew and I were approached by an Amerikan evangelical in a water park in Mississauga. To say nothing of the support for Ted Morton in the Alberta race for leader of the Conservative party. There is a lot of Amerikan time and money going into social control in Canada--just like in El Salvador, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Iraq. And for the same reason--Amerika can't afford to have any part of it's neo-colonial empire slip away. And that means us.
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Friday, December 01, 2006
I took this shot of the Bay back in late September, trying to catch the morning light coming over Ten Mile Point. The Chain Islets are visible in the middle distance, as are the Olympic Mountains over in Washington State (I find it amusing that while the border is officially the 49th parallel, only four of eleven provincial capitals lie north of the 49th. Here on the Island, you don't hit the border until Ladysmith).
Cadboro Bay is nestled on the east side of the lower tip of Vancouver Island, making it one of the safest and most sheltered bays around. Victoria itself is in a rain shadow from the Olympic Mountains, and then Cadboro is further sheltered by hills to the south and Ten Mile Point to the north.
But as the last month has proven (over and over again), even Cadboro Bay isn't always as placid as it appears in the photo. We've been hit by a month-long series of storms that have lead to record or near record amounts of precipitation, power outages, and more than a million people under a week-long boil-water advisory.
Locally, the phenomenon is refered to as the "Pineapple Express", which happens when warm, moisture-heavy air from the south Pacific meets an Arctic cold front running down the coast before heading over the mountains into Alberta. The result is amazing amounts of precipitation usually over a very short period of time. This time it was a sequence of storms slamming into the coast, bringing rain, winds over 100 kph, and this last week, snow. And then snow again.
While we went without power for several hours, people living near us went without for over two days. With temperatures below zero and windchills adding another -10C, this situation was nothing to be laughed at.
The first storm of the month saw this:
From all appearances, this boat had been in use right up until the storm. But it hadn't been moored in Caddy Bay--this is just where it washed up. Locals were very polite; they waited two full weeks before stripping everything of value out of the hull. By that point, what had been a damaged but repairable hull, had become a serious mess. The sequence of storms, high tides, and storm-driven tide surge had shoved the hull up and into the stacks of driftwood on the beach. Then the new driftwood--logs ranging from 30 cm across and three metres long up to, well, the drowned tree resting next to the boat in the picture--had broken out the stern and punched new holes in the side of the hull. By the 20th of November, city workers had come by and hauled the hull off the beach.
But this wasn't all....
Three more boats had been torn loose from their moorings and tossed up on the beach. By the time I took this photo, the power boat and day-sailer had been filled with driftwood to keep them planted. But the big hull, the 10 metre one, well, that was another story.
The damage this boat had taken was extraordinary. It too seems to have been in use up until the storm that tore it apart. I walked down the beach to it the other day--less than three weeks after it washed up--and the hull is now in two pieces and shredded. The blue day-sailer was hauled back out to its mooring in the bay (of the three boats, this is the only one I've seen moored in the bay), but has since been pulled loose again and is nearly back on the beach for a second go-round. The power-boat has since disappeared--I suspect that Saanich hauled it away as well.
Even further down the beach was this:
This was one of the boats moored in the bay. It had simply torn loose and been beached. Fairly soon after taking this photo, this boat had been taken off the beach and re-moored--hopefully more securely.
So, in total there were five boats washed ashore during the first two storms of the month. Since then there has been a third storm and the snow. Quite the month. But, it appears, not unique. Under the tree near this last boat, is this hull. Obviously it's been there a while :-)
Monday, November 27, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
On the positive side, he recognised that he had an arm injury and actually made his own 911 call. A neighbour stayed with him till the ambulance came and took his bike home. This is actually quite surprising, as many men of my acquaintance (notably Bernie) would be more likely to push the bike home and call for a cab. Maybe the steep hill on which John lives was a factor in the decision, but I prefer to think that the wise choice John made was a sign that he may not have suffered any head injury in the fall.
On the negative side, he's in surgery right now and will not be biking or kayaking for a while.
We'll post what news we get (or John will himself) but for now we'll be optimistic about his surgery and send him plenty of good wishes for a full recovery.
Monday, November 20, 2006
The question that this raises for me is, does this have anything to do with the projected collapse of worldwide fish stocks? Or is this behaviour just something we haven't talked/written about? You know, like the tremendous amount of homosexual activity found across the animal kingdom that researchers just never mentioned. (Or check out Bruce Bagemihl's book Biological Exuberance, or Joan Roughgarden's Evolution's Rainbow for a different take on sexual behaviour and evolution).
I notice that the pelican behaviour above is taking place in parks--neutral spaces where human/bird interations are increased and wild behaviours are set aside--so the question comes up: is this a "normal" or common behaviour, or is the pelican just taking advantage of an unusual situation? That a pelican is eating a pigeon, well, considering the size and volume of their normal diet, it's not too much of a stretch to eat something pigeon-sized. But would the opportunity arise in a non-park setting?
BTW, when it comes to park settings and unexpected behaviour, this bit of video is good for a chuckle.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
You've been a scholar of sociology for years. Learning, teaching, discussing. YOU don't sound incoherent, even when you've been heard to say that you don't know about something and will have to think about it for a while.
I'm taking a course in sociology right now and discovering that sociologists haven't gotten any more coherent than they were back when I got my teaching certificate in 1984. (Orwellian jokes have already been made about that date and event.) They're damn near as incoherent as educational psychologists... oh wait, you teach that subject too. And you're not incoherent.
I am *so* going to have to quote some of your work in my assignments for this course.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Not that Bush wasn't short things to say. Upon arriving in Hanoi, Bush remarked to reporters that the lesson of the Vietnam war is, "We'll succeed unless we quit."
Does Bush real know...anything? I wonder what his Vietnamese hosts thought of that statement.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
But OJ's ruse puts a whole new ploy in play. Imagine Rumsfeld writing "If I Committed War Crimes, Here's How It Happened." Plenty of juice, but no risk of international prosecutions. Rove could get a ton of dough for "If Bush Had Been Impeached, Here's What For."
"You've got to remember, whatever the Democrats say, it's Bush still
calling the shots. He believes it's a matter of political will. That's
what [Henry] Kissinger told him. And he's going to stick with it," a
former senior administration official said. "He [Bush] is in a state of
denial about Iraq. Nobody else is any more. But he is. But he knows
he's got less than a year, maybe six months, to make it work. If it
fails, I expect the withdrawal process to begin next fall." (The Guardian)
Ah yes, this has the stench of that old war criminal Henry Kissinger all over it. The old "realists" of Bush 1 are trying to construct a way to declare victory while giving up, but with Henry's help they'll find a way to stretch it out until thousands more have died. But what the hell, they're only rag heads, right? It's the couple of thousand Amerikan troops that matter, not the 500,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqis that have been killed by these butchers.
The Amerikan empire doesn't just need to be stopped. It needs to be shattered, the pieces pissed on, and the ground salted so that nothing will ever grow there again. I have to say that I'm opposed to the impeachment of Bush--that would let too many people (like Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Feith, etc etc) walk away from their actions. Best case senario? An international war crimes tribunal like the one the Germans went through. Like the one Rumsfeld may be facing in Germany. A fair and honest hearing, and let those responsible become accountable. Radical fucking notion, that.
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Our hawkish elites bemoan the fact that Americans seem ready to give up on Iraq when U.S. casualties are not 10 percent of those we took in the Korean War. That is because they do not understand the nation.
Americans are not driven by some ideological vocation to reform mankind. We do not have the patience or perseverance of great imperial peoples. If an issue is not seen as vital to our own liberty and security, we will not fight long for some abstraction like democracy, self-determination or human rights.
It is a myth that we went to war to save the world from fascism. We went to war in 1941 because Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. That Hitler had overrun France, booted the British off the continent and invaded Stalin's empire was not a reason to send American boys across the ocean to die.
In 1990, Americans were not persuaded to throw Iraq out of Kuwait until Bush 1 got to talking about Saddam's nuclear weapons. Even after 9-11, Americans were skeptical of marching to Baghdad until we were told Saddam was building weapons of mass destruction and probably intended to use them on us. Americans have often had to be lied into war.
Democrats are probably reading the country right. Americans will not send added troops to Iraq, as McCain urges. They want out of this war and are willing to take the consequences.
But those consequences are going to be ugly and enduring. That is what happens to nations that commit historic blunders.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Germany today against outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The complaint requests that the German Federal Prosecutor open an
investigation - and ultimately, a criminal prosecution - looking into
the responsibility of high-ranking U.S. officials for authorizing war
crimes in the name of the so-called "War on Terror." (Democracy Now)
War Crimes Suit Filed....
Yes, the world--and I do not mean just or only the governments (who would rather just shut up and go along to get along)--but the people of the world, the populations of Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and even Asia from what I can tell, are plenty pissed with Amerik right about now. Hell, even Canadians feel that Amerika is a greater threat to world peace than any other country. And those who are paying attention know that it's even worse than that: Amerika is doing its level best to turn the clock back to pre-Magna Carta days.
And now Germany. Who else in the modern world has a greater understanding of what comprises a war crime? So who better to turn it about on the Empire?
And it doesn't get any easier for Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al. Former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski has already given evidence, and is willing to testify about where the orders came from. To quote the head; "Fmr. Abu Ghraib Head Janis Karpinski Points to Signed Rumsfeld Memo Listing Harsh Interrogation Techniques"
(a transcript of an interview with her is available at the link).
Any Amerikan standing in front of a war crimes tribunal means the end of Amerikan hegemony and possibly, just possibly, the birth of a new world. But I ain't holding my breath, eh?
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Monday, November 13, 2006
So says this report in the Guardian newspaper:
The press toe the line
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Again, thanks to Alternet and Jennifer L. Pozner, a great article : The Terrrorists Who Aren't in the News
Pozner writes; Since 1977, casualties from this war include seven murders, 17 attempted murders, three kidnappings, 152 assaults, 305 completed or attempted bombings and arsons, 375 invasions, 482 stalking incidents, 380 death threats, 618 bomb threats, 100 acid attacks, and 1,254 acts of vandalism, according to the National Abortion Federation.
The religious right in Amerika has this habit of pointing to others who are committing the same crimes they are themselves responsible for. This pointing isn't restricted to those on the right--it is a common theme back at least to the begining of the 20th century in Amerikan politics; the biggest problem with the Nuremberg war trials was ensuring that crimes the Germans were charged with were not crimes that the Allies (particularly the Amerikans) had committed. In fact, proving that the Allies had committed the same type of act during the war ensured that the charges would be dropped at Nuremberg.
But there is a myth of purity in Amerika the Empire. I suppose that it is common to all empires, hell, all nations during all eras. Canadians and their national myth of not being a war-like people is a good example (Canadians are great at waging war--we're just really crappy at holding on to colonies other than our First Nations). This atitude that we can't possibly be doing anything wrong is, I think, what prevents us seeing how profoundly deep the democratic deficit is here in Canada. It's what also leads us to blame victims for our crimes (viz. First Nations, above).
But in Amerika this proccess has become institutionalized. The owned media cover only those stories which support the current national narrative--thus a great deal of coverage of the "good" being done in Iraq, and no mention of the terrorist wars going on at home. In Canada, it's how much good we're doing in Afghanistan as opposed to how little good we're doing at home.
But for some less sucky thoughts, check out this article on the power of the religous right in Amerika:
"God Gap" narrows in US politics
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Saturday, November 11, 2006
As a father, I find this deeply disturbing--and symptomatic of the horror at the heart of the Amerikan "Christian" Fundamentalist movement.
Over at Alternet, Evan Derkacz has posted this bit from Craig Ferguson's talk show; http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/44142/
Craig refers to Rumsfeld as "a great friend of the show" in his intro to the footage of Rumsfeld's press confrences. The gag--the addition of hands making it look like DR is doing anything but answering the questions (or even listening to the questions)--is funny. But it speaks also to the attitude of the White House (and not just it's current occupants): when you're running an empire, why would you bother with anyone but your cabal? We have to keep things under control in order that we might continue strip mining the wealth of the planet. What the hell do you mean, we should concern ourselves with bullshit like democratic oversight?
Amerika may have been founded on the idea of keeping tyrants in check, but even the founding fathers decided that economics and social status trumped democracy. Even in the middle of a democratic revolution, they had to ensure that the hoi polloi didn't get their hands on any real power--those who know better must ensure that the masses don't do anything stupid, after all--and thoughtfully ensured that the structure of this new government was messy enough to impair it's effectiveness as a democracy.
Satire, like the clip above, is the last refuge of the outraged, mining the gulf of hipocrisy, exposing the differences between the private and public face. It is also powerless--even though occasionally someone becomes so big a joke they are forced from the public eye (Stockwell Day's leadership of the Conservatives comes to mind). But satire doesn't kill--not even careers (again Stock comes to mind). All satire really exposes is rage--and then bleeds that rage off before it becomes action. in politics, democracy is about agument and organization. Satire is about rage and powerlessness. So, less mock, more talk, walk the walk. That's democracy.
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Friday, November 10, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Robert Jenson doesn't think so.
Here’s the unavoidable reality: Our train is on an unsustainable course in cultural, political, economic, and ecological terms. In a predatory corporate capitalist economy in an imperial state—a system that values the concentration of wealth and power, and devalues people—certain things are inevitable:
-- Our deepest values concerning justice and solidarity will be undermined by the anti-human values of capitalism and empire.
-- Truly democratic politics, in which ordinary people have a meaningful role, will be subverted by the concentration of wealth.
-- An increasingly fragile economy mired in self-indulgent deficit and debt, with an artificially inflated currency, will start to collapse when our military and political power are unable to keep the rest of the world in line.
-- The ability of a finite planet to sustain life as we know it will diminish dramatically in a system based on fantasies of unlimited growth marked by the glorification of domination.
The train moves forward, as the vast majority of Democrats and virtually all Republicans avoid these realities. Where can such a train take us? Pick your metaphor.
-- It could be that the train tracks end at a cliff, or
-- it might be that the train is heading for a brick wall, or
-- perhaps the train will derail along the way, or
-- maybe the tracks will simply end abruptly and the train will run into the ground.
If we don’t take radical action relatively soon, every ending we can imagine is likely to be brutal and violent, deadly not only for most of the world’s population but also for the non-human world. This isn’t irrational apocalypticism but a rational approach to the evidence in front of us. No one can predict how this will play out, but it will most certainly play out ugly unless we change the trajectory.
The lies, cheats, and crimes Dick, and George have committed have done what all lies, cheats, and crimes do -- they have led to more and more lies, cheats, and crimes, and now the misconceived nature of the whole enterprise is apparent to all. It doesn't matter at this point if they manage to steal the mid-term election this year or not. Iraq is such a mess that even Dick's friends and allies can't think of a way to save it or to clean it up. The Iraqis, I am sorry to say, have to pay the price, but at least they know who's to blame.
Iraq is not the point, Iraq is only the canary in the mine, giving voice to the coming cataclysm. Not even the US is the point, although since 1980, the Republicans have been pandering to the greedy appetites of Americans for driving big vehicles, arming themselves, and thinking themselves superior to everyone in the world. They have egged Americans on to destroying the world's environment for the sake of more and more goods, and now America is in big trouble. But empires come and go. Get over it.
What is the point is human survival. If Americans had started taking the meaning of oil dependence seriously in 1977, when Jimmy Carter asked us to, or had not ridiculed the idea of climate change in 1992, when Al Gore brought it up, we might have gotten a start by this time in reducing emissions, we might not be looking at one horrific disaster paving the way for another.
But we are. There aren't many tyrants in history who can truthfully say they put the entire future of civilization at risk just to make a buck and feel the power, but Dick Cheney can.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
There's not much I can add to Rumsfled quitting either, except to say "'Bout time!"
But I will mention a couple of things about Bush's farewell to Rummy today.
While I won't mention that Bush told yet another lie when he told reports last week that Rumsfeld would be serve out Bush's term with him (Bush was already looking for a successor at that pont), I will point out that even the usual political hokum spewed at events such as these gets mired in obsfucation and half-truths when it comes from Bush.
First, he acknowledges that he "recognize[s] that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made" in Iraq. But golly, didn't he and the Vice President say like week that tremendous progress is being made there. Haven't they said that every day for the last three years?? But now, with Bush never having to the face the electorate again, suddenly there's a lack of progress being made there.
Is this a sign that Bush may try a new tactic like honesty? I don't know, that sounds like a crazy longshot to me.
Bush also said, "I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security. But the people have spoken, and now it's time for us to move on." What Bush seems to be saying is that the elctorate don't understand the important issues, while presumably he does. Perhaps Bush doesn't understand that the electorate fully understands the economy and security issues, and that's why they gave him a thumpin'.
Then Bush talked about Rummy's replacement, Bob Gates and said "[a]s President Reagan's Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, he helped lead America's efforts to drive Soviet forces from Afghanistan." This is, of course, the exact opposite of what the CIA did in Afghanistan, where they in fact ran the largest covert operation in the CIA's history to get the Soviets into Afghanistan. The CIA funded and armed hard-line Islamic extremists in an effort to get the Soviet military bogged down and give them their own Vietnam. One of the extremists they funded was Osama bin Laden.
And we all know how well that worked out.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Soon, we'll have neither. According to this story, fish stocks in the oceans will be gone - that's GONE!! - by 2050 unless we radically rethink how we live on this planet.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Richard Perle: "In the administration that I served [Perle was an assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan], there was a one-sentence description of the decision-making process when consensus could not be reached among disputatious departments: 'The president makes the decision.' [Bush] did not make decisions, in part because the machinery of government that he nominally ran was actually running him. The National Security Council was not serving [Bush] properly. He regarded [then National-Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice] as part of the family...
Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad. I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that."
This would be The Usual Neo-con Ploy: deny any repsonsibility for anything. (Also known as the Krusty the Clown Therom: Don't Blame Me, I Didn't Do It!)
Sunday, November 05, 2006
An ABC News undercover investigation showed Army recruiters telling students that the war in Iraq was over, in an effort to get them to enlist.
ABC News and New York affiliate WABC equipped students with hidden video cameras before they visited 10 Army recruitment offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
"Nobody is going over to Iraq anymore?" one student asks a recruiter.
"No, we're bringing people back," he replies.
"We're not at war. War ended a long time ago," another recruiter says.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
And then I discover that the hourglass figure is the shape used for most of women's clothing. Only 8% of women are a true hourglass, and although Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren fell into this shape, Marilyn had to work hard to keep it. Most women are either an apple, spoon/pear or rectangle. Designers don't cut clothes for these shapes and haven't in 50 years!! There is a push on in the fashion industry to change, to start designing and cutting clothes for the top 3 shapes. I await this change and I will applaud it!! Maybe I will finally be able to find skirts and pants that fit my waist without gapping because I have to buy pants/skirts to fit over my hips but which end up being too big in the waist.
This week, I read with horror that there is a new size! Often when shopping sales, I find a plentiful supply of size 0s which haven't sold. Shouldn't this be telling someone that size 0 people aren't plentiful and that there are a mutitude of leftover clothing! Now subzero has been introduced into the UK size 00! Maybe the UK is trying to sell adult clothing to seven year olds?? Who in the world is size 00, other than those terribly sad photos of starving children in Africa? Is this what we are asking our young woment to aim for?
Sure there is an obesity problem in North American, but asking people to starve themselves thin isn't the answer to this problem nor is it a healthy body image to promote.
And then there are skinny jeans at the Gap using Audrey Hepburn as the model. Audrey who was one of the worst eaters, and who like a lot of stars at the time was on a strict diet to maintain her shape.
Friday, October 27, 2006
He’s tan. He’s rested. He knows the territory. Not doing much right now. Still has huge name recognition. Wouldn’t have to re-introduce him to the populace.
And be honest, how much worse could his re-reign be than what’s going on right now? Hell, we don’t need some big time fancy commission to tell us what to do.
Henry Kissinger is on board; ask him. Just resurrect his 32-year-old plan for Richard Nixon. We declare victory, and leave. Reinstall a chastened reformed Hussein and appoint someone to watch over him. How bout Dick Cheney? Kills three birds with one stone: Gets the Vice President, whose approval rating is lower than an anchovy milkshake, out of Washington AND in place to provide hands-on control over his Halliburton operation, AND Bush gets to appoint a successor for 08. Besides, if Cheney can’t instill the fear of Allah in Hussein, nobody can.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
-- Former Environment Minister David Anderson
Canada is first out of Kyoto, in deed if not in word, with the Conservative government's so-called Clean Air Act which was introduced last week. Prime Minister Harper, saying this country is showing leadership by sending our boys and girls off to die to honour our NATO commitments, doesn't seem able to show leadership by living up to our international environmental commitments. The true north, strong and free, and the biggest per capita polluters on the planet.
While some might argue that the government's slow pace to bring in hard caps is better than nothing, it's really worse than nothing. For starters, Harper is planning three years of consultation with industry before producing any new regulations at all. Hard emissions caps will be introduced until 2025. This lengthy period of inaction is explained away by the old excuse of not wanting to harm the economy.
This is madness. There will be no economy by the mid-21st century without immediate action on climate control now.
How hard is to say to industry , "2006 is the limit. Next year, you cannot pollute anymore than you did this year. And the year after, you're going to start bringing that down."
What others are saying:
Saturday, October 21, 2006
On the signing of the Military Commissions Act Keith Olbermann delivered another blazing monologue. Bold passage corresponds to spike in blood pressure.
And lastly, as promised, a Special Comment tonight on the signing of the Military Commissions Act and the loss of Habeas Corpus.
We have lived as if in a trance. We have lived… as people in fear.
And now -- our rights and our freedoms in peril -- we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid… of the wrong thing.
Therefore, tonight, have we truly become, the nheritors of our American legacy. For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:
And lastly, as promised, a Special Comment tonight on the signing of the Military Commissions Act and the loss of Habeas Corpus.
We have lived as if in a trance.
We have lived… as people in fear.
And now -- our rights and our freedoms in peril -- we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid… of the wrong thing.
Therefore, tonight, have we truly become, the inheritors of our American legacy.
For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:
A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.
We have been here before -- and we have been here before led here -- by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.
We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives -- only to watch him use those Acts to jail newspaper editors.
American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they wrote, about America.
We have been here, when President Woodrow Wilson insisted that the Espionage Act was necessary to save American lives -- only to watch him use that Act to prosecute 2,000 Americans, especially those he disparaged as "Hyphenated Americans," most of whom were guilty only of advocating peace in a time of war.
American public speakers, in American jails, for things they said, about America.
And we have been here when President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that Executive Order 9-0-6-6 was necessary to save American lives -- only to watch him use that Order to imprison and pauperize 110-thousand Americans…
While his man-in-charge…
General DeWitt, told Congress: "It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen -- he is still a Japanese."
American citizens, in American camps, for something they neither wrote nor said nor did -- but for the choices they or their ancestors had made, about coming to America.
Each of these actions was undertaken for the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.
And each, was a betrayal of that for which the President who advocated them, claimed to be fighting.
Adams and his party were swept from office, and the Alien and Sedition Acts erased.
Many of the very people Wilson silenced, survived him, and…
…one of them even ran to succeed him, and got 900-thousand votes… though his Presidential campaign was conducted entirely… from his jail cell.
And Roosevelt's internment of the Japanese was not merely the worst blight on his record, but it would necessitate a formal apology from the government of the United States, to the citizens of the United States, whose lives it ruined.
The most vital… the most urgent… the most inescapable of reasons.
In times of fright, we have been, only human.
We have let Roosevelt's "fear of fear itself" overtake us.
We have listened to the little voice inside that has said "the wolf is at the door; this will be temporary; this will be precise; this too shall pass."
We have accepted, that the only way to stop the terrorists, is to let the government become just a little bit like the terrorists.
Just the way we once accepted that the only way to stop the Soviets, was to let the government become just a little bit like the Soviets.
Or substitute… the Japanese.
Or the Germans.
Or the Socialists.
Or the Anarchists.
Or the Immigrants.
Or the British.
Or the Aliens.
The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.
And, always, always… wrong.
"With the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?"
And ironic ones, Mr. Bush.
Your own, of course, yesterday, in signing the Military Commissions Act.
You spoke so much more than you know, Sir.
Sadly -- of course -- the distance of history will recognize that the threat this generation of Americans needed to take seriously… was you.
We have a long and painful history of ignoring the prophecy attributed to Benjamin Franklin that "those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
But even within this history, we have not before codified, the poisoning of Habeas Corpus, that wellspring of protection from which all essential liberties flow.
You, sir, have now befouled that spring.
You, sir, have now given us chaos and called it order.
You, sir, have now imposed subjugation and called it freedom.
For the most vital… the most urgent… the most inescapable of reasons.
And -- again, Mr. Bush -- all of them, wrong.
We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has said it is unacceptable to compare anything this country has ever done, to anything the terrorists have ever done.
We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has insisted again that "the United States does not torture. It's against our laws and it's against our values" and who has said it with a straight face while the pictures from Abu Ghraib Prison and the stories of Waterboarding figuratively fade in and out, around him.
We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who may now, if he so decides, declare not merely any non-American citizens "Unlawful Enemy Combatants" and ship them somewhere -- anywhere -- but may now, if he so decides, declare you an "Unlawful Enemy Combatant" and ship you somewhere - anywhere.
And if you think this, hyperbole or hysteria… ask the newspaper editors when John Adams was President, or the pacifists when Woodrow Wilson was President, or the Japanese at Manzanar when Franklin Roosevelt was President.
And if you somehow think Habeas Corpus has not been suspended for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this: If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien or an undocumented immigrant or an "unlawful enemy combatant" -- exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this Attorney General is going to help you?
This President now has his blank check.
He lied to get it.
He lied as he received it.
Is there any reason to even hope, he has not lied about how he intends to use it, nor who he intends to use it against?
"These military commissions will provide a fair trial," you told us yesterday, Mr. Bush. "In which the accused are presumed innocent, have access to an attorney, and can hear all the evidence against them."
'Presumed innocent,' Mr. Bush?
The very piece of paper you signed as you said that, allows for the detainees to be abused up to the point just before they sustain "serious mental and physical trauma" in the hope of getting them to incriminate themselves, and may no longer even invoke The Geneva Conventions in their own defense.
'Access to an attorney,' Mr. Bush?
Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift said on this program, Sir, and to the Supreme Court, that he was only granted access to his detainee defendant, on the promise that the detainee would plead guilty.
'Hearing all the evidence,' Mr. Bush?
The Military Commissions act specifically permits the introduction of classified evidence not made available to the defense.
Your words are lies, Sir.
They are lies, that imperil us all.
"One of the terrorists believed to have planned the 9/11 attacks," …you told us yesterday… "said he hoped the attacks would be the beginning of the end of America."
That terrorist, sir, could only hope.
Not his actions, nor the actions of a ceaseless line of terrorists (real or imagined), could measure up to what you have wrought.
Habeas Corpus? Gone.
The Geneva Conventions? Optional.
The Moral Force we shined outwards to the world as an eternal beacon, and inwards at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.
These things you have done, Mr. Bush… they would be "the beginning of the end of America."
And did it even occur to you once sir -- somewhere in amidst those eight separate, gruesome, intentional, terroristic invocations of the horrors of 9/11 -- that with only a little further shift in this world we now know -- just a touch more repudiation of all of that for which our patriots died --
Did it ever occur to you once, that in just 27 months and two days from now when you leave office, some irresponsible future President and a "competent tribunal" of lackeys would be entitled, by the actions of your own hand, to declare the status of "Unlawful Enemy Combatant" for… and convene a Military Commission to try… not John Walker Lindh, but George Walker Bush?
For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.
And doubtless, sir, all of them -- as always -- wrong.
Joe Scarborough is next.
Good night, and good luck.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The money is a small amount of the overall $1 billion package, and many museums were pinching pennies before the cuts, and the cuts will force them to reduce programs, cut collections, and delay renovations.
Then of course, there's the effect on students who will be woefully ignorant of local, regional and national history and culture.
Read the petition over, sign it if you want, pass it on to people you know.
I've signed it.
Here's the link:
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
For the sixth time in the past seven years, the human race will grow less food than it eats this year. We closed the gap by eating into food stocks accumulated in better times, but there is no doubt that the situation is getting serious. The world's food stocks have shrunk by half since 1999, from a reserve big enough to feed the entire world for 116 days then to a predicted low of only 57 days by the end of this year.
That is well below the official safety level, and there is no sign that the downward trend is going to reverse. If it doesn't, then at some point not too far down the road we reach the point of absolute food shortages, and rationing by price kicks in. In other words, grain prices soar, and the poorest start to starve.
So another crisis is looming in a century already full of crises. While Islamic fundamentalism takes on Western fascism, while we go to war to fight for cheap oil to burn away in our SUVs (and slowly poison ourselves in the process), while we approach massive environmental and economic upheaval, we are running out of food. And where is it going? Dyer further notes:
In the United States, a "corn rush" has been unleashed by government subsidies for ethanol, and so many ethanol plants are planned or already in existence in Iowa that they could absorb the state's entire crop of corn (maize, mealies). In effect, food is being turned into fuel -- and the amount of ethanol needed to fill a big four-wheel-drive SUV just once uses enough grain to feed one person for an entire year.
So not only are we killing ourselves and our planet to support our energy-rich western lifestyle, now we're literally starving people to do it.
And the conseqeunces? Dyer notes in this article the baffling non-response of the world's politicians and citizens to the climate change crisis, noting that:
...global civilisation falls into violent chaos as huge numbers of people start to starve. Even two degrees hotter will reduce agricultural output in the main food-producing regions of the world by about a quarter.
Much hotter, and it will be much worse, so we may end up negotiating (or more likely, fighting) over which billion of us starve first. Intelligent human beings, faced with that prospect, would act at once, or so you would think -- especially because the actions required are not really all that painful, provided that they start right away.
We need our governments to put the same effort, if not more, into the right battles as they are into fighting the wrong ones. If we don't spend a greater effort fighting climate change and hunger than terrorism, then fighting the wrong battle will have truly been a monumental waste.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
"We see just how proud Canadians are of their soldiers and their families and we have also seen how difficult it is to bear the sorrows of their losses. But, ladies and gentlemen, that is the price of leadership in the world," Harper told the audience.
Whether you agree with the mission of our soldiers in Afghanistan or not, the one thing they are not there for is tho soothe the ego of our nation and to convince our Prime Minister and ourselves that we are a major player on the world stage. If Harper's ego needs placating, he should find a better way of dealing with it.
If that really is why we are spilling our blood overseas, then they should come home right now.
Monday, October 16, 2006
The danger, experts say, is that the US may simply have postponed the day of reckoning. Major environmental problems remain, and some are getting worse - all of them in one way or another connected to US population growth, which is expected to hit 400 million around midcentury. Some experts put the average American's "ecological footprint" - the amount of land and water needed to support an individual and absorb his or her waste - at 24 acres. By that calculation, the long-term "carrying capacity" of the US would sustain less than half of the nation's current population.
"The US is the only industrialized nation in the world experiencing significant population growth," says Vicky Markham, of the Center for Environment and Population, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization in New Canaan, Conn. "That, combined with America's high rates of resource consumption, results in the largest ... environmental impact [of any nation] in the world."
But it's hard -- or should be -- for Shrub to take much comfort even in that, because while Saddam ruled Iraq for almost 24 years, the Cheney Administration and the U.S. Army have had the place in their tender care for less than four. Two million divided by 24 equals 83,333 deaths a year. But 655,000 divided by four equals 163,750 deaths a year -- almost double Saddam's annual output.
Or, if you prefer to use more "conservative" estimates for both:
Saddam: 31,250 deaths a year (750,000 divided by 24)
Cheney Administration: 87,500 deaths a year (350,000 divided by four)
But that makes the comparison look even worse.
It's US vs. Them. But who are "them"? Robert Parry suggests that not even Bush knows.
"But I’m never clear who “they” are or exactly what “it” is. If “they” are the Sunni Islamic fundamentalist terrorists of al-Qaeda and “it” is 9/11, U.S. forces could have concentrated on al-Qaeda strongholds along the Afghan-Pakistani border until Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and their followers were captured or killed.
Bush, however, expanded the “they” to include the secular dictatorship of Iraq, the Shiite government of Iran, Syria’s Assad family dynasty, Lebanese Shiite militants of Hezbollah, Palestinian Sunni militants of Hamas, and a hodgepodge of other Islamic radicals around the globe.
So, instead of finishing a winnable war against al-Qaeda, Bush veered off into a diffused struggle against a diverse grouping of Muslim leaders, nations and organizations lumped under a terrorism umbrella.
Bush also has offered no coherent strategy for winning what amounts to a global counterinsurgency war against Islamic militants. Beyond vowing to stay on “the offensive” in Iraq and elsewhere, Bush has promulgated a dubious theory that widespread anti-Americanism can be overcome by imposing “democracy,” through force if needed.
But this “democracy” theory has run aground on the hard reality that Muslim hatred of Bush is so intense that almost whenever citizens get to vote they either act on behalf of narrow sectarian interests (as in Iraq) or they vote for people who have earned popular support by standing up to the United States (as in Iran, Palestine and Lebanon).
That means that the only “reliable” U.S. allies are still the “moderate” autocrats, such as the Saudi royal family, the Jordanian monarchy, or the dictators of Egypt and Pakistan. If the popular will in those countries were respected, the likelihood is that the elected governments would join the “coalition of the hostile” against the United States.
In other words, Bush has no real strategic plan for winning the “war on terror,” short of waging a bloodbath against large segments of the world’s one billion Muslims, a global version of the carnage on display in Iraq since 2003 and in Lebanon during the Israeli war against Hezbollah last summer.
Yet, even a bloodbath strategy along the lines of the Iraq War is certain to fail. As the U.S. intelligence community has recognized, the Iraq War has become a case study in how not to conduct counterinsurgency warfare – as well as an example of how wishful thinking and incompetent military strategies can make a bad situation worse."
And why does Bush keep lying about UN inspectors not being allowed into Iraq before the invasion? From consortiumnews.com:
There’s always been the frightening question of what would happen if a President of the United States went completely bonkers. But there is an equally
disturbing issue of what happens if a President loses touch with reality, especially if he is surrounded by enough sycophants and enablers so no one can or will stop him.
At his Oct. 11 news conference, Bush gave the country a peek into his imaginary world, a bizarre place impenetrable by facts and logic, where falsehoods, once stated, become landmarks and where Bush’s “gut” instinct, no matter how misguided, is the compass for finding one’s way.
In speaking to White House reporters, Bush maneuvered casually through this world like an experienced guide making passing references to favorite points of interest, such as Hussein’s defiance of U.N. resolutions banning WMD (when Hussein actually had
eliminated his WMD stockpiles).
“We tried the diplomacy,” Bush said. “Remember it? We tried resolution after resolution after resolution.” Though the resolutions had worked – and left Hussein stripped of his WMD arsenal – that isn’t how it looks in Bush’s world, where the resolutions failed and there was no choice but to invade.
At other news conferences, Bush has filled in details of his fictional history. For instance, on July 14, 2003, just a few months after the Iraq invasion, Bush began rewriting the record to meet his specifications.
“We gave him [Saddam Hussein] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power,” Bush told reporters.
In the real world, of course, Hussein admitted U.N. inspectors in fall 2002 and gave them unfettered access to search suspected Iraqi weapons sites. It was Bush who forced the U.N. inspectors to leave in March 2003 so the invasion could proceed.
Over the past three years, Bush has repeated this false claim about the barred inspectors in slightly varied forms as part of his litany for defending the invasion on the grounds that it was Hussein who “chose war,” not Bush.
Meeting no protest from the Washington press corps, Bush continued repeating his lie about Hussein showing “defiance” on the inspections.
For instance, at a news conference on March 21, 2006, Bush reprised his claims
about his diplomatic efforts.
“I was hoping to solve this [Iraq] problem diplomatically,” Bush said. “The
world said, ‘Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences.’ We worked to
make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose
to deny the inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the
difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did. And the world is safer for it.”
Thursday, September 14, 2006
It is a pleasure to share this with you! In honour of Pluto, Urban Dictionary has come up with this:
Verb. to pluto someone or something is to downgrade, demote or remove altogether from a prestigious group or list, Like what was done to the planet of the same name.
Example: Harvey got plutoed from our blog
Hard news, to hear of another school shooting. And once again, the shooter was not a berserker pushed suddenly over the edge to run amuck with bare hands or whatever weapon came to hand. Once again, the shooter took time to gather weapons and go to the school.
Fifteen times since 1975, someone has gone to a Canadian school with a gun and an agenda. And that's not even counting the time in 1977 when my high-school principal was knifed by a former student in the school parking lot. By the time the shooter begins to fire, there's usually not much anyone can to to avoid multiple injuries, death and suicide by cop. Usually the shooter is a student.
When it's an adult, he's not able to be steered from his crime, because of chronic mental illness and long-term distress. One Canadian school shooter was a husband unable to adjust to a divorce, another a professor who didn't get tenure. The male pronoun is used on purpose here, because almost all school shooters are male. Chronic mental illnesses take a while to fester, and are usually due to multiple causes.
But when the shooter is a student, the acuteness of his mental illness is usually a response to the student's experience at that very school. And from this fact, I draw some hope. If we improve the experience for most of the students (if never absolutely every one of them), we might make shooting up the school seem less possible.
We've already learned how to prepare schools for these emergencies once they do happen. General emergency preparedness helps cope with fire or earthquakes as well. At Dawson College, everybody reacted absolutely right. The students ducked and ran, helping each other escape. The teachers were alerted and instantly decided whether it was right to evacuate the room immediately, or lock the door and bunker down as well as possible.
The police have learned through experience that it's best not to wait for the SWAT team, but engage the shooter immediately; they drew his attention and fire. The nasty event came to an abrupt end about four minutes after the first shot was fired. The careful search for any possible accomplices was both necessary and thorough.
So, we've learned how to prepare schools for these emergencies. Now, what we need to do for our schools is how to help the students have better experiences at school. It may be one of the determining factors in making school shootings less likely. And if not, well, there is no excuse for any school tolerating bad socialization among its students. There is certainly no reason we should accept bad socialization as a major or minor factor contributing to school shootings.
Where mental illness is due to genetics or diet or personal trauma, it has to be treated on a one-by-one basis. But where frustration and lack of social connections and loneliness are factors, we can improve those for almost everyone. From an institution's zero tolerance policy on bullying to an individual's effort to smile and share pencils, we can each improve social interactions at schools. It may not have seemed worth insisting on, for the one-third of students who leave Canadian schools with lingering emotional scars, or the few who commit suicide (how many last year?) If we do it to reduce the chance of one in a million students coming to school with a gun and an agenda, we may not reduce school shootings to zero -- but we will definitely improve school experiences for many students.
“It can’t happen here!” students were heard to scream as they fled Dawson College. That denial is natural. But we have to learn to deny that these things can happen, not only where we are, but ever. Our instant, natural protest has to become the one that says this event just can’t happen at all, not just that this danger can’t happen to me.
Ice core borings in Antarctica have produced a record of historic carbon dioxide concentrations over the last 600,000 years. The borings show that the levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, are at their highest ever because of the burning of fossil fuels, Mark Serreze, senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.
Serreze said he was surprised to see a new lake, or polynya, the size of Maryland, opening up in the sea ice north of the Beaufort Sea.
In 20 years of looking at sea ice, he has never seen anything like it.
"If you asked me five years ago if it was human activity (causing global warming) versus natural variability, I was a fence-sitter,'' Serreze said.
"The magnitude of the changes is starting to rise above the noise of natural variability. There is a continuing trend. What we see in the Arctic is part of a much larger picture. We hate to say, 'We told you so.' But we told you so.''
I tried to think of something profound to say about the nature of violence in our society but I've come up blank. We are violent; we are hunters, predators, meateaters. And some of us can't seem to get beyond that. But why should we when our leaders can't see beyond that, either? When the answer to every international crisis is to threaten force, to use force, to bomb innocents, to invade sovreign nations, to lock people away, to execute, to intimidate, to torture.
Perhaps violence is the nature of our society.