Category Archives: Uncategorized


today is the 10th anniversary of the commencement of this blog, on this server.

or, rather, the commencement of this blog on any OTHER server than LiveJournal.

this was the first post made on this blog. prior to this post, the blog was part of LiveJournal. i moved all of my content from LiveJournal to here (“here” has actually changed several times since then, but you know what i mean), so previous posts to this one are also on LJ, but it’s no longer being updated… except for that one time…

today, in more recent history, moe flew to las vegas, where she will be until sunday. i’ve got all four dogs, and they’re already going crazy. and i’ve got a snake suspenderz gig on saturday. 😕


do you remember when #drumpf said that he could stand out in the middle of 5th avenue and shoot someone, and not lose any votes?

i want to be the person he shoots.

“Exclusive indexing goes against the Web’s inherent openness. Companies that try to curtail that openness don’t last long on the Web.”

i have always been suspicious of bing (no, i am not going to link to them). part of it is because i’m suspicious about microsoft (not going to link to them, either), generally, which has turned out to be a good thing more often than not. but part of it is because microsoft has weasled their way into an unholy allience with rupert murdoch, who also owns myspace (not going to link to them, either), fox news (ditto) and several other large media outlets. however, apparently microsoft and murdoch have been dealing recently with the idea of paying web sites to remove themselves from google indexes


now google isn’t much better than microsoft, and google has it’s fingers in a lot of peoples’ pies, frequently without those people having the first clue that they’re feeding information to the CIA’s data mining team, but paying people not to be in google indexes is the first step towards requiring people to pay for material that would ordinarily be available for free on the internet.

my understanding is that the internet is supposed to make information freely available to those that would otherwise not have access to it because of cost. what they’re proposing is not only not in the public interest, but it is in the specific interests of murdoch and, to a lesser extent, microsoft.

therefore, i have taken it upon myself to block bing from indexing my sites. i have done this by adding the following to my robots.txt file.

User-agent: msnbot
Disallow: /

i have also heard that running iptables -A INPUT -s -j DROP makes it so that any incoming request from bing will automatically be dropped before it even gets to robots.txt, but i don’t currently have access to iptables on my server.

and i’m not the only one. there is a growing movement to block bing – some have even suggested registering so there would be a convenient place to post and update information that would be available to everyone. i may do it…

mump & stuff…

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) was born on Nov. 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. my ancestors from that time period were from the area around knob noster, missouri which is about 150 miles southwest of florida.


in spite of my desire to avoid the news in general, sometimes it slams you in the face and forces you to pay attention. this happened 20 minutes away from my house, but after a similar incident in seattle not too long ago, which put the whole state in an uproar, as though the two apparently unrelated events were cause and effect. my personal opinion is that there are very good reasons to get that angry with police officers in general, and they are not “completely innocent” regardless of how good they seem to be from time to time, but if nothing else these kinds of things are further indications that the world is, in fact, going to hell in a hand basket and there’s nothing that any of us, as individuals, can do about it except to sit back and watch in horror. of course, as a society we could do something about it, and there’s always that chance, but i don’t hold out much hope that we’re all going to be able to, literally, change our minds about so many things all at once. some of us could, there is no doubt, but getting most, if not all people to just change their minds like that is almost impossible. i’ve been told, by people i trust, that it’s going to get decidedly worse before it has a hope of getting any better at all, and that’s the primary reason that i simply don’t pay attention to the news most of the time. it’s not that i don’t care, it’s that i’d rather spend my time thinking about more positive things.

i have a rehearsal tonight, a rehearsal tomorrow, a rehearsal wednesday, a rehearsal thursday, the lenin lighting at the center of the universe (except that music will be provided by the Fremont Philharmonic, not the yellow hat band) on friday, the drawing jam at the gage academy on saturday and a free day sunday. then it’s the same thing again except that there’s also a free day a week from friday and an acupuncture appointment followed by two performances of alad’din a week from saturday and another one a week from sunday. my guess is that it’s going to be a couple of weeks of carefully conserving and spending spoons, otherwise there’s likely to be a meltdown before then.

the end(?) of a holiday weekend

i just got done dropping my mother in law off at the train station for her trip back to portland. she got here on thursday and it’s been a little tough to handle her actually staying at our house for longer than a few hours, because she’s… well… my mother in law. it’s a lot better than having my parents stay at our house, in fact i would probably draw the line well before my parents actually were able to come to our house, but at the same time, i had to be really discrete about, for example, smoking pot in the privacy of my own house for fear of “offending” her – despite the fact that she used to smoke pot herself (as claimed by moe). it’s okay, though, because i get the very strong impression that if it weren’t for the sake of “keeping up appearances” there is a very strong probability that i would be getting my mother in law stoned – which, itself, is something that i am almost tempted to try (just once) to see what it is like.

another thing that i found really bizarre is that, once moe had gone to bed last night, my mother in law pigeon-holed me and forced me to talk about “spiritual” things for a couple of hours last night. usually this wouldn’t be a problem for me, but i had to choose some of my words a little more carefully than i would otherwise have had to, because i didn’t want to say anything that would either be misinterpreted – which, with her, is fairly likely under the best of circumstances – or offensive to her, which i probably wouldn’t hear about directly from her, but indirectly through moe, at a later time, when the offense had had the chance to sink in and become a lot more permanent than it would be if she just spoke up about it at the time. i ended up making reference to The Looby from The Book of Lies, and 777, neither of which i could find (although they were right in front of my nose all the time, which is probably a message of some sort) to a person who believes in a weird combination of catholicism, “spirits and angels” and “native american stuff”, without mentioning that the author of said books was pretty much the exact antithesis of the beliefs she holds. basically i tried to keep it as “light” as possible, but even then it was really difficult not to laugh when she told me about the “psychic” she knows, who has apparently been engaged by the local police department, or the other person she knows who teaches “crystal gazing” and how she has taken her class and has a couple of “crystal balls”. i know that truth is relative, that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and that anything is possible, but at the same time, the idea of my mother-in-law getting spiritual inspiration from gazing at a crystal ball is sort of amusing.

in the midst of entertaining my mother in law (which was actually moe’s responsibility most of the time) i created www dot twankey dot com – laundry online – for the widow twankey (email address, as a part of Alad’din and The Magic Lamp show coming up in a couple of weeks, and Fremont Players dot com which is currently a mirror of twankey dot com, but will eventually be an easier-to-remember and more colourful version of this page. it was actually kind of interesting to actually buy the new domain – which had never existed before – and then create web space for it, design a new page, post it and have the page show up at the new domain which had never been there before. it’s something, i suppose, that people have been doing to the web for a while, but it’s something new and different for me, and it was really interesting to actually do the whole process and watch the non-domain name suddenly and magically turn into an actual, real-live domain.

my workshop, DVR and SSDI

so the clarinet is done and all that’s left to do with it is locate the person for whom i’m doing it. i wrote her an email yesterday and she didn’t respond. i wrote her another one today laying out my schedule for the next four days and now it’s up to her. if i don’t hear from her in a week or so, i’ll just freecycle it to someone else… or, for that matter, the fact that it was given to me and remains unclaimed means that i can legally sell it on craigslist or something like that. my impression is that there are always a bunch of people who need a clarinet, if you know where to look.

which reminds me, i need to make up some flyers that advertise woodwind repair services and distribute them to the local public schools and music stores. i figure as long as i’ve spent the money to create this workshop, maybe i can use it to make back some of that money. after all it’s not just a one way street…

i got an amusing letter from DVR today, referring to my failed attempt to convince them that my business plan was a sound enough investment that they should help me out by building me a workshop. it says “if you would like DVR to review updated records or if you would like to discuss your current situation” that i should call this lady. i really want to call her up and tell her to fuck off and die, because they weren’t willing to help me, but now that i’ve actually qualified for SSDI, i’d be willing to bet that they’re trying to get their fingers in my pie. i’m probably going to call and talk to her, and i probably will not be as blunt as i am here, but i’m not sure, which is the reason i haven’t called her yet.


bundy clarinetthis has been a fun day.

i got a clarinet from freecycle, and i’m really glad that i got it before anybody else, because it has had a broken key that would have driven the cost of repairing it up over $100. this is also one of the reasons that i recommend people who “know a little bit about musical instrument repair” don’t try to fix their instruments themselves. the clarinet was worthless with the broken key, and the most common way of “fixing” it that i have seen on other instruments i’ve worked on over the years has been “superglue”… which not only doesn’t work, but then I have to clean up the superglue from the key and the instrument before i can get down to the task of actually fixing it. the progress has been posted, and the rest of it should be finished and posted tomorrow.

also, i found more erzatz “Tina Chopp is God” material on cafepress, so i sent them a DMCA notice last week – not expecting that they would respond, and not being sure what the procedure is once they didn’t respond – and today i got email from a “content usage associate” who said

Thank you for your November 16, 2009 notification regarding the possible infringement of your rights by a user of our service. In accordance with our Intellectual Property Rights Policy, we have prevented the user from using the images on products for sale through their store.

geez, if i had known that it was that easy, i would have written them a long time ago, because various people who aren’t associated with the Church of Tina Chopp have been profiting from our God for at least 5 years. it’s enough to make me want to see if it might be possible to market Tina Chopp myself, since i now can.

and there’s a couple in california who is using cannabis – very successfully, i might add – to treat their child’s autism. will wonders never cease…

taking it easy… for a change.

after the combined stresses of having my web server go down and the IPv6 fiasco on my local computer, i was feeling pretty wound up yesterday, but i’ve found that going to a gig with la banda gozona and playing some really difficult but energetic, challenging and fun music on my trombone (i’ve switched to trombone from sousaphone, becase another reliable sousaphone player showed up, and memo wants to “shame” the other trombone player into actually playing the written notes more of the time, especially during performances where he has a tendency to “take a solo” at inappropriate times), along with fixing the direct cause of that stress, would appear to be exactly the right thing to do to alleviate said stress. the result being that i feel more relaxed this morning than i have in a long time. my computers are working, i actually got an incense order during the time that the local computer was down, business is doing well, i’m playing a lot of music with a whole bunch of different groups, i’m caught up enough with the projects that have been on hold for 4 years because of a lack of workshop space, that now i’m coming up with new project ideas and thinking of things i can make for people as gifts. also, there’s a clarinet needing repair that appeared on freecycle, so i’m going to pick it up this afternoon, fix it, and freecycle it to some other deserving person.

and, to make matters worse, i’ve found a PDF-scanned “DIY” book from the early ’70s that has a whole bunch of ideas for simple, cheap, portable living spaces that fit right in with the dome project fantasy that i’ve been playing with ever since i got back from burning man last year for a long time. maybe it’s time to start actualizing some of this fantasy play… 8)

this is a really strange place in which to find myself… i’ve always had this… not fear, although it amounts to the same thing… of fantasies, because deep down, i know that they are fantasies, and fantasies don’t exist in reality. but i’ve been playing around with the philosophical idea that opposites are an illusion for a while now, so maybe it’s time to try seeing what it would be like to actually make my fantastic ideas into real things.

more buggerish, then all is well…

there was a fair amount more IPv6 furor to deal with: i got email and firefox working, but it was a temporary workaround, because akregator and amarok (and probably a bunch of other things of which i’m only vaguely aware) were acting extremely screwy. akregator was displaying all of my RSS feeds, but it couldn’t find the server for any of them, even though many of them updated repeatedly during the past 48 hours, and the updates actually showed up on the screen. also, it found the text for new articles, but for some reason it couldn’t find the graphics at all. i finally solved the problem by changing the contents of /proc/sys/net/ipv6/conf/all/disable_ipv6 from 0 to 1, and then making it permanent by adding net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6 = 1 to /etc/sysctl.conf, all of which i found out about thanks to hints given to me by a very knowledgable gentleman named francis larson, to whom i owe a great deal of gratitude. you can read the whole sordid story, except for the part with francis larson, if you’re that inspired. it was also thanks to francis larson that i found out about the medibuntu repository, which will likely make it possible for me to do awesome audio stuff on my kubuntu box really soon.

in other news, there was this post at good as you which was an article from a 1906 newspaper about a woman who had married another woman, and was probably going to avoid punishment because she had broken no laws… which makes me wonder: if there were no laws against same sex marriages, presumably until after 1906, then it was apparently not enough of an issue to “the founding fathers” to take notice of it, so why are the “christians” so upset about it now? obviously there weren’t any laws against same sex marriage because they didn’t need them, regardless of whether or not they were actually occurring, which, if this article is any indication, they were, no matter what the “christians” are trying to tell us. and if they didn’t need them then, then why the hell are they getting their panties in a twist over them now? feh!

also, Oddly Specific


host problems combined with IPv6 incompatibilities have caused my complete absence from internet for the past couple of days. despite the fact that IPv6 is the latest, hottest thing to hit the net since the ping of death, it is just about as effective at this point, so i have disabled it and am suddenly able to do things like check my email and browse the web.

the other part, of course, is that the new host provider went down two days ago, so even if i hadn’t had the problems with the new IPv6, i still wouldn’t have been able to post anything, which is really irritating.

Windoesn’t 7

so there’s a new commercial on TV, just in time for xmas, advertising the new HP laptop/netbook/desktop combination with Windows 7, which is “networked together by GeekSquad™”…

i have three computers, two laptops and a desktop, and all three of them are networked together, and we didn’t have anything like geek squad. in fact, they didn’t require any networking at all, we just started them up and they worked; two different operating systems – Mac and Kubuntu – the way that computers are supposed to work.

it’s my considered impression is that the only reason you would need GeekSquad™ is if you use Windoesn’t, and if you use Windoesn’t, ultimately, no GeekSquad™ in the world will be able to help you.

friday the 13th link dump!

friday the 13th actually comes on a friday this month! cool!

Hide My Ass dot com is a free proxy service for anonymity on the web. they also have a free disposable email address service, free file sharing, a link anonymizer and several other security related services.

i’ve subscribed to two blogs recently – People Of Walmart and Look At This Fucking Tea Bagger – it seems to me that there has to be some overlap, but it hasn’t made itself evident yet.

i’m getting all my “religion” news these days from people like P.Z. Meyers, Unreasonable Faith and Joe.My.God, the latter of which has recently been ratted out as a terrorist to the FBI for a comment that was made about the possibility of bombing churches… or something like that… one way or the other, it’s better than being catholic, especially considering how tightly their panties are being twisted in regard to a new law that would affect their ability to discriminate against gay people in washington DC.

speaking of which, after the governor of rhode island vetoed a bill that would allow same sex couples to make funeral arrangements for each other, he’s done a seeming 180 and said that he would be open to the idea of civil partnerships for same sex couples, in lieu of marriage. either that, or he’s a hypocrite. you can guess which direction i’m leaning.

snakes! eye luvvum!

i don’t understand my snake. he eats three medium adult mice about every six weeks or so, except that recently he’s been acting like he’s hungry (trying to find a way out of his enclosure, “hunting” behaviour, hissing and rattling his tail, that sort of thing), but when i put a mouse in his enclosure, he ignores it.

two cycles ago, i put a mouse in his enclosure, he ignored it, i took it out two days later and returned it to the snake-food store, returned it to him about two weeks later and it disappeared almost immediately, along with its two helpers.

yes, i name the mice i feed to my snake. is that wrong? i name them “Breakfast”, “Dinner” and “Tasty Snack”… is that wrong? and in spite of the fact that moe is responsible for us having the snake to begin with, she’s a vegetarian (as well as a veterinarian) and she doesn’t do well with the fact that the snake eats live mice. of course he eats live mice. what would you expect him to eat? those frozen things that the snake-food store sells to people who have snakes bred and raised in captivity? this is a wild-caught snake, and he doesn’t go for that sort of thing… oh well…

the last time, i gave him “Breakfast” and he ignored it for 2 days before he got around to eating it – imagine two days trapped in an enclosure with something which wants to eat you, but hasn’t decided when… yet… it made me feel a little guilty, but the snake ate the mice in the end, so i didn’t feel that guilty.

but this time, he ignored the mouse for 2 days and i finally gave up and “rescued” him. i plan on taking the mice (i bought 3 of them) back to the snake-food store this morning on my way to rehearsal – “hi, i bought three mice from you the other day and now i’d like to return them. my snake just wasn’t hungry”… 8/

we’ve had the snake – a sonoran rat snake named Agador – for 11 years, and he was anywhere from two to five years old when we obtained him. he was wild-caught by someone in eastern washington and kept as a “classroom pet” for a year before we got him, so it’s sort of a miracle that he’s even still alive at this point, but then all of our pets are geriatric, and if anybody takes good enough care of their pets to make them far outlive any of their contemporaries, monique is that person. all i can do is keep trying to feed him and hope for the best.

in other news, i had a performance in burien for the night of 1000 pumpkins last sunday, last monday and wednesday rehearsals for alad’din, a performance last thursday at the seattle art museum, a performance with the ballard sedentary sousa band on friday, 6 november, monday alad’din rehearsal, today i’ve got a snake suspenderz rehearsal in preparation for a performance on thursday, tomorrow i have a veterans day performance in bothell and an evening rehearsal for alad’din, and friday i get poked with needles by chris. on top of that, i fixed a clarinet and brought in another clarinet which i will fix tomorrow, i’ve completed two jewelry projects and prepared to tackle two or three more in the next week or so, and i’ve added a new section to my web site. i’ve been a spoon-spending bandit and i’m hoping things are going to calm down a little for a while so i can build up a new supply of spoons for the holiday.


i have probably always been a computer geek, although for a long time i resisted being labeled as such because i was too interested in music, but my father has been a professional computer geek electrical engineer for as long as i have been around. one of the first “computers” i ever played with was actually a “dumb terminal” that had a big foam recepticle on the back of it to plug the phone reciever into so that it would do stuff more than just look and act like a selectric typewriter.

i saw my father at the Seattle Art Museum the other day. i was there for a performance of La Banda Gozona – where the consul general for mexico in seattle gave a long winded speech in spanish that i couldn’t understand – and i saw my father taking pictures. i was wearing my reading glasses, so i didn’t get a good look at him, and he disappeared before i could switch to my distance glasses, but i’m sure it was him. i find it very odd that, in spite of our differences, my parents haven’t spoken to me at all since my injury, and didn’t come visit me in the hospital when there was a chance that i would die… but i digress.

anyway, when i was first actively learning about computers, back in the late ’70s, i would frequently ask questions of my mentor, jim, and every now and then i would ask him a question which doesn’t really have an answer. questions like “why is it that when i tried X process, it failed, but when you tried exactly the same X process, it worked?” or “why is it that i send an email to X address and it never gets there, you send an email to X address and it takes two weeks to get there, and someone else sends an email to X address and it gets there immediately?” obviously there is some answer to questions like that, but often they are technical enough that even the experts might have difficulty explaining it, especially to someone (like me) who doesn’t understand.

when i would ask jim a question like that, he would get all quiet, look around mysteriously, and whisper “demons”…

he could have easily said “i don’t know” or “go look it up” or any one of a number of other perfectly rational responses, but that wouldn’t have made anywhere near the impression on me that blaming all my unknown computer problems on “demons” would have.

of course, i later learned that the electronic mechanisms that make things work inside computers are called “daemons”, but my impression is, even now, when i have wholeheartedly embraced the label of “computer geek”, that it still makes a fair amount of sense.

fast forward to a few days ago. i have just completed what i hope will be my last host provider switch for a LONG time, but i still have to figure out why the control panel on the new host works slightly differently than the (exact same) control panel on the old host: i set up a subdoman – – which, when you hit it with a browser, loads pages found at it used to be that when you looked at the browser, you saw, but now, when you point your browser at it automatically redirects to and when i remove the redirect in the control panel, my browser gives me a “redirect error”.

so i wrote to tech support. he wrote back to me almost instantly, saying that he had gotten it to work, and that i didn’t need the redirect in the control panel.

… wait, what?

anyway, it works… and i keep thinking about jim and his “demons”…

it keeps going…

i completed one of the jewelry projects that i was working on, except that i have to get a set of crimping pliers – you would think that i would have one already, considering the quantity of pliers that i own, but no.

i’ve decided that there are enough questions i have about the software that i am using that i am probably going to have to start reading a lot, finding a mentor and asking a lot of stupid questions, like what is a DNS zone and what is a masked nameserver, and why do i care? because i’m pretty sure that i do care. my impression is that understanding these things in a little more detail would make my job as web manager a lot easier.

anyway, la banda gozona has a performance at the seattle art museum that i’ve got to leave for soon.

whooy… 8/

the past five days have been definitly ones where i spent way too many spoons.

i began a day before halloween by deciding to switch host providers again. the new old host provider had a strong tendency to flat out lie about their service: they say they don’t delete support tickets, but i have had no fewer than three support tickets mysteriously disappear from their server. they also say that they don’t block IP addresses from their support server, but i have documented no fewer than five different occasions where my IP address was blocked from accessing their support server and had to have their support technician – Zac O. – clear the IP block so that i could access their server.

so i researched and found another host server that was willing to take all of my domains. there was a bit of controversy over at web hosting talk regarding whether or not a host provider who is using litespeed web server is prohibited from hosting “blasphemous” or “adult oriented” content, but as far as i have been able to tell, according to the email that i recieved from a litespeed sales representative ” for general shared hosting purpose, or for general user contributed content web site, it is ok.” i’m still a little confused by the guy who said why do you mention this is a porno site?, and then requested a friend connection with me, when i very clearly stated that it’s not a porno site more than once, but i guess that’s what i can expect from a relative newbie.

anyway, i got the blog and the other web sites operating again, after going back and forth with the new new host provider about shell access a couple of times. they don’t provide shell access by default, and they’re a bit less responsive than the old new host provider, but they’re more honest about what they actually provide, and they’ve added WHMCS to the mix, which will ultimately improve the likelihood that i will be a successful web host myself some day.

meanwhile, i’ve also all but completed the clarinet that i’ve been working on for thaddeus. i also got started on the jewelry project that i’m working on for xmas presents. and, finally, i’ve finished the sticker project that i’ve been working on for howlin’ hobbit.

i still have to discover why, when you enter “” into your browser’s address field, you end up at “” – which is actually where you go, but the subdomain is what it has been before, and as far as i’ve been able to tell, nothing has changed except the IP address of the host server, but i know from past experience that anything that changes could mean that the whole thing suddenly and mysteriously could decide to work entirely differently, so i’m not really worried about it at this point, especially when i know that if you enter the subdomain you’ll redirect to the correct place anyway.

also, the authority in england that said that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than cannabis and LSD has been relieved of his position as an authority, which just goes to show that even when they do listen to reason, they don’t always hear reason. oh well, better luck next time.

THEY are terrorists! 8D

Obama’s Hate Crime Laws are ‘Hate Christian’ Laws – if you want to look at it that way, that’s fine with me, but if you are saying that crimes carried out because of homophobia are “christian”, then i have two things to say: 1) your perception of what Christ says about love is perverted, and 2) stay away from me. i may not be homosexual, but i can guarantee you that i am your worst nightmare and i won’t wait until you’re asleep before i will make your life a living hell simply by existing! 😐

Continue reading THEY are terrorists! 8D


Snake Suspenderz is playing for the Halloween Oddville Spectacular given by Captain Trendo and The Blue Collar Cult this evening at the Jewlbox Theatre in Belltown. for those of you who are reading this, who are very far away from belltown and/or have other things to do this evening, you are welcome to head on over to hobbit’s place to download the latest of our “rehearsal tapes” and get yer snake suspenderz fix that way.

and for those of you who have no speakers, try having fun at translation party, where you can automatically translate any phrase to, and from japanese many times, until you reach equilibrium.

Mrs. Awdrey Gore’s C clarinette

gorey house membershipthis is my 2009 membership card and pin for Edward Gorey House, which makes me “an integral part of building the foundation for the success and longevity of this celebration of the life and legacy of Edward Gorey”. now all i have to do is come up with some use for the “Ogdred Weary” font that is in my collection.

old, european fingering system C clarinetalso, this C clarinet is going to be the first official instrument fixed in the new workshop. it’s from thaddeus and it has definitely seen better days. it needs at least new corks, some new pads, a ligature and a thumbrest, and it could also use a new case, as the one that it’s currently in was made for a metal, Bb clarinet. it shouldn’t take me more than a couple of hours to crank this out, given the rate at which i fixed clarinets when i lived in bellingham, but it may take a bit longer than that, because it has been a while since i had to crank that hard.

wait… what?

Congress passes ‘Pedophile Protection Act’ – umm.. no. this is wrong. being a homosexual is not the same as being a pedophile. not only that, but the law will not get in the way of free speech, regardless of how hateful or divisive, and illegal behaviour will still be treated as illegal behaviour, but now “we, the people” will be afforded slightly more equal protection than before.

and not only that, but i seriously question america’s “judeo-christian” heritage. my understanding is that “we the people” was specifically meant to include those for whom the “judeo-christian” part doesn’t apply.

the fact that people think this way disgusts me. this is one of the main reasons i believe that i am an alien, because this way of thinking is totally the opposite of the way i think by nature.

Continue reading wait… what?

my life so far has been one which hasn’t engendered much of a sense of hope for the future, or making of long term plans, which has resulted in my being fairly "depressed" (although i would call it "realistic") most of the time. it’s strange, when i go through a period where things go "my way", because i either don’t make any plans at all and patiently wait for things to change, or i make very conservative plans that are easily realised. it’s really strange now, because things seem to be going "my way" a lot more than i am used to: i qualified for disability, i have some extra money, i’ve got my own property with a workshop and plans to put it to good (i.e. profitable) use, i’m keeping very busy with four different bands, my business is growing… slowly, but steadily, etc., etc., et cetera… (which is latin for “and others”)

which is why i tend to be a bit superstitious when (for example) moe went down to big building to meet micah and his girlfriend this afternoon. the last time anybody in this family went to big building was the day i had my brain injury. i told her that she could meet him at big building if she promised not to have a brain injury.

at the same time, it’s really difficult for me to make plans. i have all these ideas for stuff that it’s impossible for me to do, primarly due to lack of materials at this point: i have an idea for a new art car, which (naturally) requires a car, i’m on the verge of going out and buying a pen lathe because i have a couple of different ideas for stuff i could make with it (seriously, at this point i’m thinking that it’ll either be a pen lathe or a 1.5" button press, with the other one coming in 6 months or whenever i can scrape together the money), there’s the outside of the workshop that could really use some artwork, and i have a fairly good idea of what i want to do, but it requires making stencils and i don’t have the material – and the weather really isn’t particularly conducive to working on the outside of my workshop at this time of year…

it leaves me feeling like i’ve forgotten to do something important, but i can’t remember what. i’ve been doing a lot the past few days, processing and shipping out incense orders, meeting with clients, preparing files for printing and sending them off to be printed, web-related updates, preparations for adding a new product line on the web site, photography for the same, rehearsals with snake suspenderz and banda gozona – for which i copied a book of trombone music, because i’m going to be playing trombone now… but i’ve got this uneasy feeling that something important has fallen through the cracks.


so i was going through the oscommerce forums last night, desperately searching for the solution to yesterday’s problem, and i came across this comment on a post whose solution i have already tried (and failed) to get working – despite the fact that the installation instructions are only in german, and they produce only a marginally understandable machine translation. however, the comment mentioned that paypal wants the shipping calculations turned off on their side if i’ve got the shipping calculations already figured out on my side – which sort of makes sense in a bizarre, round-about sort of way, so i tried it.

i have since gotten 3 orders – itself a bit of an anomaly, since i haven’t gotten more than 2 orders in the past 4 months – and all of them included the shipping charge information that used to be missing from the emails i get from paypal.

riiiiiiiight… turn it on and it’s broken, turn it off and it’s fixed… that makes sense.

and it is paypal’s fault. now the only problem is that when i tell them that, there’s a strong probability that they’re going to say that i’m doing it wrong… 😐


so i have this problem: a customer makes an order from my web site. he puts products in his shopping cart and clicks checkout. he is taken to a page where he puts in his name and address, and chooses a shipping method, and clicks confirm. he is then taken to a secure paypal page, which allegedly confirms his order, and points him in the right direction for payment.

i say allegedly, because the past couple of orders i have received have had the right amount for the product that was ordered, but have had no shipping information… which means that i have had to write to my customers and convince them to send me more money before i send their order out… which is awkward, to say the least.

as far as i’ve been able to tell, after having read the oscommerce forums for a few months, i’ve got everything set up the way it’s supposed to be on my end, which makes me suspect that it’s a problem on paypal’s end. this suspicion has been strengthened by the fact that i’ve had no less than two different paypal tech support geeks confirm that they’ve been having a problem with shipping to oscommerce sites. their immediate solution is to change the way it’s integrated, which, in my case, requires a scrapping of my entire product line and starting again from scratch. obviously not an option in my case.

however, i just got off the phone with a paypal tech support geek who basically said ‘yeah, it’s our fault, but we’re not going to do anything about it, so you should really talk your oscommerce friends into changing their software to match what we’re doing now.”

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finished worhshopthe workshop is officially finished enough that i was able to take apart and diagnose my space heater, go to home depot and get the materials and fix it with tools that i haven’t used for 4 years. now i have a workshop with a space heater. all i gotta do now is get a new blade for my band saw and i’m ready to roll.


now that i am not intensively, obsessivly scanning pretty much everything in sight i can sit back, listen to mozart and catch up on my more mundane life before i disappear into the workshop for extended periods of time in an attempt to work off some of this horny creativeness that has been plaguing me for the past 4 years.

i’ve already glued a whole bunch of stuff that has been sitting around for a few years because of this or that which prevented me from actually completing the project. i’ve located an unfinished pipe left over from just before we moved which has yet to be finished, and a couple of already finished pipes which i will probably put on the web site soon. i’ve got to get a new blade for my band saw, because the old one has no teeth left (a condition i remember it being in before we moved, but since we were moving, i did nothing to remedy the problem). i also need to see about replacing the cord – or something similar – on my portable electric radiator so that when it starts to get really cold i will be able to heat the workshop adequately. i’ve also got at least one jewelry making project that i have to finish; a new necklace for a pendant that my mother-in-law has had for the past 20 years.

now that i’ve divested myself of all but 6 milk crates full of stuff – which are things like my books of lessons, service readings and suchlike from SRF, paper and labels for the printer, books for which we (still) don’t have space, and a couple of boxes of miscellaneous decorations – i’ve discovered a bunch of things that i only vaguely remember, such as a pair of enameled chinese hand excersice balls (with bells inside that cause one of our dogs to bark insanely when she hears them, but only when both moe and i are both in the house) which have already been used for their intended purpose. there are also a couple of wooden, jointed human drawing figures, of which i only remember one (the smaller one) from before we moved.

i am afraid of being eatenand apparently the fremont philharmonic is not breaking up, although we still haven’t decided for sure who our new leader is going to be. at this point, the concern is more for trolloween (which i am not going to attend because of a paying gig with snake suspenderz) and Alad’din in december. at this point we’ve recruited a couple of potential new members, including clayton, who already plays in two other bands that i play in, who will be playing tuba for trolloween and potentially euphonium for the pantos, and the guy who played tenor sax at trolloween last year, who expressed extreme interest in playing with us on a more permanent basis. we’re still sort of looking for a trumpet player, and possibly a trombone as well (yes, silveradept, i have mentioned your name, but there are a couple of other possibilities as well).

finally, here is another result of my going through boxes of stuff that i haven’t looked at in years, a little piece that i call “i am afraid of being eaten” which was what was written on the other side of the paper. when i found it originally, it was folded in half three times, with the title written on the outside. it is something that i found on the ground in bellingham when i lived there (which means that it was before 1995, and i seem to recall that i’ve had this particular piece since the 1980s). i remember when i was living in bellingham and i was depressed, i would read this and think that my life could be so much worse than it was, although at times i can remember reading it and relating quite well to what was said there. i wish i had the whole story, but i’m glad i got this one page.


i finished moving the majority of the stuff out of the piles of boxes that have been stored first in the dining room, then the living room and finally the office/spare bedroom of our miniscule house and into the newly constructed workshop. i even got rid of the 2 extra 4’x8′ sheets of sheetrock (although i haven’t got rid of, and i’m not sure i want to get rid of the extra 4’x8′ sheet of peg board), as well as most of the old but still functional computer equipment.

which reminds me… i advertised the complete computer system again for $200 this time, and someone called me about it and asked if he could just take the mac. i said if he wanted the mac, he would have to take the whole system, to which he agreed. i also agreed to take $30 if he would help me move the desk from the office in the house to the workshop in back of the house and he agreed to that as well. however, from the moment he arrived he was trying in many not-so-subtle ways to get me to give him only the mac, and even moreso when he discovered that he was actually going to have to help me figure out how to get the desk out of the office, that he was going to have to lift the desk in order to move it, and that the place we were moving it to was not actually somewhere in the house. because of the fiasco that occurred when we couldn’t immediately figure out how i got the desk in to the office to begin with (it was a very tight squeeze, and it would only fit out into the corridor immediately outside the office door on it’s side with the upright supports facing in one direction, even though it would fit halfway through the office door with the upright supports facing in the other direction, and we had to try it both ways before i remembered how it actually fit), i actually agreed to give him the complete system for no money at all, despite the fact that he and i both thought better of it several times during the entire ordeal.

basically what it came down to is that he wanted to come and take only the parts of the computer system that he wanted, leave the rest for me to deal with, and he didn’t want to actually do anything for it. i came very close to just saying that i would deal with both the desk and computer system myself if he would just shut up and get out of my house. you don’t arrange to come to my house at 12:00 and then show up at 2:30 and then tell me how i’m supposed to give you the things that i’ve said i’m going to give you, especially when you have agreed to do some work with me in exchange for the things i’m giving you and then you’re so recalcitrant about doing the work. if you don’t want to do the work, that’s fine. if you don’t want the entire computer system, that’s fine. but when i’ve said that i will give you the whole computer system in exchange for some work, you don’t come to my house and then say that you only want part of what i’ve said i’m going to give you and you don’t want to do the work you’ve said you’re going to do.

anyway, i’ve still got 4 or 5 more boxes of holiday stuff, my “odd food” collection (which includes a package of ramen-like stuff labeled “mixed food flavour”, a gummy foot, “men’s pocky”, colourless M&Ms, “Nihilist” chewing gum [it has no flavour] and several other prizes), a box of bongs, and some other miscellaneous, stuff which is wholesale going in the loft of the workshop.

then i went to a banda gozona rehearsal last night, where it was decided that instead of playing sousaphone, i would be playing trombone, which is a lot smaller and easier to carry, and because of the fact that it was my original instrument, there’s a good chance that i’ll be a lot better at actually playing all of the notes, despite the fact that i’ve been learning the sousaphone parts for two and a half years and swiching to trombone will mean learning entirely new parts for all of the songs.

by the time i got home last night i was in an absolutely vile mood, and i woke up this morning in an almost equally vile mood, which wasn’t helped by the fact that when i was in the process of replacing the broken doorknob in the office, i succeeded in locking myself in the office, and i had to escape through the window. i’ve never actually been what i would call drunk in my entire life, but i’m seriously thinking about getting drunk tonight, simply because it would be something else vile that i’ve never done, and i’m not likely to want to do it once i’ve come out of the vile funk that i’m in currently.

sneak preview

i’m slowly making progress scanning my sketchbooks, although i’ve slowed down considerably and still only have 16 of the 24 sketchbooks scanned, but i figured i’d offer a little sneak preview of some of the reasons why i wanted to have this stuff available on the web, rather than secreted away in a sketchbook that even i can’t access immediately. this is a tract from 1988, and contrary to what moe suggested, this was several years after i took more acid than everybody else that i know, combined… although it does seem to have had a certain effect on the outcome of my artwork.
tractfrom this point i’m a little bit less sure of the dates and the numbering of the books falls apart. i’m pretty sure that the last date in book 16 is 880601, but the next date i can find is 890512, which is almost a year later… which means one of a number of options, including that there are at least two sketchbooks that are “unaccounted for”. i recall photocopying a whole ream of stuff several years ago (before scanners became commercially available) and being frustrated because i couldn’t photocopy the coloured drawings in colour (i did actually photocopy some of the coloured drawings in greyscale, which was the exact opposite of what i wanted and only made me more frustrated), and the missing books could have been lost during that time, but i can’t be entirely sure.

of course, another possibility is that i simply couldn’t afford a new sketchbook for that year. i was astonishingly poor during that period, and it’s a distinct possibility, but again, i can’t be entirely sure.


by the way, today is international blasphemy day, and the catholic church has their panties in a twist because of it. in case you didn’t know, blasphemy is “to speak irreverently of God or sacred things”. be sure to blaspheme with vigour today (and every other day if you like, it doesn’t concern me, and God’s big enough to take it), and if you’re in the washington DC area, you might want to stop by this:
international blasphemy day

break from break

so i’ve been emptying out the pile of boxes, sorting them out and putting them away in their new places – which is where the box of sketchbooks came from, and i’ve only succeeded in scanning 12 of them, so i’ve still got a lot more to go, but i came across this box of folders, and one of the folders had newspaper clippings. i’m not exactly sure when i stopped collecting newspaper clippings, but i haven’t even had a subscription to a newspaper in almost 20 years, so you can bet that there’s some stuff that has been buried and ignored for a loooooong time.


including this one, which was taken in 1981, during my 2nd year of college. i remember being out juggling and this guy skulking around surreptitiously taking pictures of us, but he wouldn’t say who he was. then, when i was taking the ferry home (i lived on lummi island at the time) one of the ferry crew, who knew me as the guy who moved out to lummi island because if i had stayed in bellingham i probably would have been arrested, made some comment about how i couldn’t keep my picture out of the newspaper, and when i didn’t know what he was talking about, he showed me the front page of the paper, with my picture on it…

the really interesting part is that i only knew one of the other guys that well. barry was a jeweler who made The Sacred Object for me, a couple of years later. our juggling thing was sort of a random thing that more or less coalesced into the monday-wednesday-friday that we told the guy with the camera, but really, apart from juggling, we were all more or less strangers.


i’ve finally gotten to the point where i am able to put all of my old sketchbooks into deep storage, and i decided that if i was going to put them where i can’t immediately lay hands on them any time i like without digging through the loft, that i would scan all of the actual artwork (as opposed to random scriblings, phone numbers, grocery lists, etc.) and put them somewhere i can access the whole thing easily, which at this point is on the web.

unfortunately, i’ve spent the past three days, pretty much all day, scanning stuff, i’ve only gotten to book 8 and there are 24 sketchbooks in my collection, so i may not be posting much for a few days until i get this whole thing scanned… fortunately i only have to do it once…


yesterday we played for the end of the workshop given by avner the eccentric at chumleighland. apparently cedarfest already happened this year, and the fremont phil apparently wasn’t invited this year, but the show last night made up for it. we got there around 4:00 and the show started at around 8:00 with a show by master payne – his other site is here – and then there was a long monologue by rev. chumleigh which culminated with his performing an underwater escape – being held upside down by four audience members with his head in a bucket of water while escaping from handcuffs. then avner came on and did his “Le refus de la gravité” routine, which was as awesome and as funny as ever.

i was somewhat surprised – well, i guess not that surprised really, more like caught unawares – that myron and marilyn, and macque and norma were there, along with katy and cedar who i sort of expected, and a bus load of circus folk from bellingham, who were all about ezra’s age, but didn’t know him. also, hokum w. jeebs was there, who i met at the white center jubilee days last year. we still haven’t had the band meeting to decide whether or not to break up the fremont philharmonic, but chumleighland is definitely a step in the right direction. as hobbit said, it’s all the best parts of the oregon country fair, and a big top and it’s local… 8)

the fremont suspenderz

stuart is quitting the fremont philharmonic. this could mean the end of the fremont philharmonic as we know it, and here’s why:

stuart is the leader of the band, and if he quits the band, we’re going to have to find a new leader: someone who is qualified, inspired, motivated, enthusiastic, and will be able to pick up where stuart left off with a minimum of chaos.

we just lost joseph, our sax player recently. he sent an email to the group saying that he felt it was time to move on, and suggested a couple of friends of his who had expressed interest in playing sax, but that it was time for him to do something else. that cuts the current group down to six.

pam has said repeatedly that if she’s given the choice between playing with the phil for no money, or going hiking, that she’s going to choose going hiking. she is the official keeper of the money for fremonstor theatrical, the fremont phil’s parent organisation, but apart from that, she doesn’t seem to be very motivated, although i may be wrong. whether or not i’m wrong, it seems very likely that pam wouldn’t be interested in taking over the leadership role in the band.

ted hasn’t been coming to rehearsals very consistently for about a year. he missed OCF this year, for the second year in a row, and his new wife just had a baby, so the probability that he’s going to get more consistent in the short run is not very likely. ted, as well, seems like a poor choice to be leader of the group.

kim also hasn’t been showing up very consistently, and also missed OCF this year for the second year in a row. she is very enthusiastic, but she, too, doesn’t seem to have the qualifications to step into the leadership role.

that leaves sasha, kiki, and myself. whether or not any of us are qualified to take the reins depends essentially on our being able to locate almost an entirely new group, and learning the music as a group, as well as all of the other stuff that would go along with being the leader of the group. i would try to be leader, but i know from past experience that if i’m the leader of a group, i have difficulty getting people to listen to me, and i’m not the most diplomatic person when i’m in a position of leadership and people don’t listen to me. as for sasha and kiki, i’m fairly sure that both of them are inspired, motivated and enthusiastic, but i question whether or not either of them has the tenacity to find an entirely new group of musicians and teach them the repertoire.

many people i have been talking to have said, to one degree or another, that bands break up, and if the phil breaks up then it just means that there’s another group in the future, potentially one that actually pays me something, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

we’re having a band meeting next wednesday to determine which direction we should head, which is good, but considering the band meetings we have had in the past, i don’t hold out much hope that we’re actually going to accomplish anything.

meanwhile, snake suspenderz has a paying gig at chumleighland today (we’re playing for a workshop given by avner the eccentric), and another paying gig on 31st october, which conflicts with trolloween. considering that it’s a choice between playing music for no money with a group of people whose motivations i’m not sure about, or playing music for money with a group of musicians whose motivations i am sure about, the meeting wednesday should be an interesting one.

it’s a workshop! it’s a workshop!!

it’s a workshop!it's a workshop!there are a few finishing touches i have to make: i have to put up shelves on the right and move some stuff on to them, and i have to put up the remaining peg board and some shelves over the band saw and drill press, but i made the workbench on which the band saw and drill press are sitting, in the workshop, out of bits of the old shed!


maybe a tiny step forward…

How marijuana became legal – before they’re going to be able to make cannabis legal, they’re going to have to seriously consider giving it a more scientific name: “pot” and “marijuana” are not going to cut it if you’re going to be able to go down to the drug store and buy it without a prescription. there’s still just too much stigma placed on those words to make it anything other than political suicide.

which is still illegal, by the way…

Continue reading maybe a tiny step forward…

what would jesus avoid doing? (why i’m a hindu)

please keep in mind that i differentiate between “christians”, christians and Christians. i’ve known about 10 Christians in my entire life, and about half of them were not actually Christians (people like Swami Bhaskarananda, for example). most of the people i have met in my entire life that profess to be Christian are actually “christian” to one degree or another.

during my last couple of years of high school, i was really getting interested in religion, and had started reading the bible and, significantly the gospel of sri ramakrishna, on a regular basis… and already i was getting the very strong impression that what the preacher said from behind his lecturn wasn’t always the way things worked in reality.

a friend and i went to the “christian” church that met in my school’s cafetorium on sunday. i was fairly sure that i wasn’t going to like it, but i wanted to show my friend that you can’t always trust a christian, especially when they’re the ones in charge. i brought my bible, and we were sitting close to the back of the auditorium. i was finding the scriptures the preacher was reading from and noticing right away that if you continued reading, not more than two or three verses later scripture was directly contradicting what the preacher was saying. this happened at least three times, each of which i pointed out to my friend, when the preacher took notice of me, and instructed one of his parishoners to escort my friend and i outside and “explain to them why they are being asked to leave”. we spent the rest of the service sitting on a bench outside the auditorium with my friend and i listening while the guy ranted on about things that i knew were not in the bible, but because of my unfamiliarity with it at the time, i wasn’t able to point out the discrepancies to his satisfaction.

it was at that point that i decided that, if they would only listen to people who made sense when they talked, that “christians” might be able to see the light that truly is Jesus Christ. i decided that i would learn as much as i could about the bible, so that when i encountered such people in the future, i would be prepared. shortly after that, i entered a seminary, where i was a student for seven years.

several years later, i was hanging out with a bunch of people who enjoyed bible study, and we decided that we were going to a halloween party in another part of town. we put on costumes – i was wearing a devil mask, and there was another guy who was wearing a santa claus mask – and we were walking down the street, when a group of people came out of a storefront church and assulted us. they knocked me down and hit a couple of other guys. one of my friends managed to get free and called the police, who said they would be there “eventually” and we never saw them. i was on the ground, surrounded by a whole bunch of angry young men who wouldn’t let me get up, when the “preacher” appeared. i thought everything was going to be okay, but then the “preacher” started chanting what at first sounded like nonsense, but then i realised that he was saying “the only name that can save you is christ, there is no other name” – over and over, without regard to what i was saying or the fact that i was on the ground, surrounded by an angry crowd.

later, the same group of guys and i went to another, bigger storefront church (it was in a building that, appropriately enough, was a porno theater before the church moved in) with hidden tape recorders, and interviewed the people there. one interview in particular was memorable because of the fact that, when asked why the guy was carrying such a large bible, he responded by repeating, several times, “it’s my bazooka”. then he said “i take it, and i aim it at the devil, and i go ‘buhda-duhda-duhda-duhda-duhda-dow’!” needless to say, he knew a lot less about “the ammunition” for his “bazooka” than he let on.

at the same time, i was progressing fairly well in the seminary, but i was feeling more and more uneasy about my relationship with the bible. i read it, and understood what it was saying, but i felt strangely uncomfortable with the words that were being used to convey certain ideas. at one point i approached the headmistress of the seminary with my concerns, and she recommended, since i had a fairly good understanding of the bible, that i read scriptures from other religions, with a mind towards finding similarities with what the bible says. i took this task very seriously, and i read pretty much any scripture i could get my hands on, from the more esoteric teachings of Christianity contained in the Philokalia, the nag hammadi library, the forgotten books of eden, the kebra nagast and others, to the teachings of the qur’aan, the sufis, three different forms of buddhism, the tao, Georges Gurdjieff, Zarathustra, the papyrus of ani, traditional celtic witchcraft, Aleister Crowley, and even several different forms of what is called devil worship or satanism. however when i read the scriptures of hinduism for the first time, i was struck with how much they spoke to my heart, and when i read the bhaghavad gita for the first time it was like i was coming home.

it wasn’t long after that – a matter of two or three years – before i decided that regardless of whether they were making sense or not, some “christians” were simply not going to see the light, regardless of how hard someone tried to convince them. it was at that point that my conversion to hinduism commenced. when i graduated from the seminary, i received my ordination, and two days later i recieved my first diksha as a dedicated hindu.

ooh… sneaky!

i finally got access to (at 4:30 pm zac wrote to inform me that “Your IP was blocked by the servers firewall. This has been unblocked and you can now access the server again” – after the last time, when nathan assured me that “this happens on rare occasions”), but my roster of support tickets is mysteriously missing… there are two “presales questions” that i posted before i signed up, but 5 or 6 tickets titled “my domains are missing” are nowhere to be seen, as are the tickets titled “network timeout” and “where are my domains” and several others like that…

verrrrrrry interesting…

or very geek-like on my part… the email address i logged in with is different than the one i logged all of my support tickets with… no wonder i couldn’t find them… 😐


there has been a lot of kerfuffle recently about two things that aren’t necessarily related in the obvious sense, but basically come down to the same thing, when you think about it. the first is universal health care or the lack thereof, and the other one is gay marriage.

the declaration of independance says that all <citizens of the united states> men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

i’ve always wondered about the part that says “among these…” because usually people say that it doesn’t guarantee you anything other than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but that’s beside the point.

the first right mentioned is “life”, but what does that mean, really? if you’re alive, you don’t have any choice in the matter, but technically, anyway, if you try to kill yourself you can be arrested for the crime of attempted suicide, so it’s obvious that the government has an interest in keeping those people who are currently alive in a living state. but if you’re sick, that’s when the kerfuffle starts. these days, if you’re one of those many americans who don’t have health insurance, there’s the very strong possibility that you will die, and there’s nothing that the government will do to stop it. on the other hand, if you are taken to a hospital with a life-threatening illness, the probability that you’ll get emergency treatment is very high, even if you’re not a citizen.

i see a dichotomy here: the republicretins are all up in arms because obama’s public health care plan would potentially provide medical treatment for illegal aliens, and potentially determine when a critically ill patient is no longer eligible for treatment.

but currently, if a critically ill patient is taken to a hospital, they’ll get treatment whether they are a citizen or not. if one of the rights guaranteed by the declaration of independance is a right to life, then what would the government gain by having “death panels” to determine when a certain patient is no longer eligible for health care?

but the republicretins rail on as if it were the end of the world when obama suggests that providing health care for everyone is something that should be seriously considered. crazy people… malfunctioning people… 8/

and the gay marriage thing… fine. if you don’t like homosexuals getting married, then don’t marry a homosexual. by all means, don’t deny that they exist, or are immoral (that’s where “liberty” comes in to play). don’t equate them with pedophiles or other “deviants” – what does that word, “deviant” mean anyway? is the republican assemblyman from california, who is married with two children, and who was an outspoken supporter for proposition 8, but recently revealed to the world over a microphone that he didn’t know was turned on, that he was having an extramarital affair (in rather graphic terms) more or less a “deviant” than the gay couple down the street who have been together for 25 years, are good neighbours and keep to themselves? by the way, the republican assemblyman, mike duvall, has since resigned, but he is steadfastly refusing to admit that he was carrying on an extramarital affair… my guess is that he will admit it sooner or later, but claim the forgiveness of jeezis for his transgression.

it would seem to me that the declaration guarantees the right of any citizen to do whatever the hell he damn well pleases as long as it doesn’t kill someone or cause a riot. the declaration of independance guarantees the right for homosexuals to get married, regardless of what the neighbours might think. as long as they’re – what’s the right term? “monogamous” isn’t right for gay males… “monoandrous”? – faithful to each other and don’t go out and rape people, whatever it’s called, they have as much right to get married as a man and a woman.

it’s not a matter of “redefining” marriage, because, ultimately, marriage is a religious insitution before anything else, and, as we all know, mixing religion and matters of state is strictly prohibited by the same constitution that defines our rights. but if two gay people want to make a commitment to each other, there are certain rights that marriage provides, which are denied to people who are not married, which is not fair to gay people, who currently are prohibited from getting married. there has to be a way to provide those rights to all people, regardless of their sexuality.

much as i hate to use this phrase, i wish that the republicretins would simply get over it, because we are going to have public health care, and we are going to allow gay marriage…

or there will be riots…

which are what the constitution does not protect.

Continue reading so…


my recent conversation with zac o. at went something like this:

me: my account has been hacked

zac: it’s your fault

me: no, it’s not, see? evidence…

zac: you don’t understand. it’s still your fault

me: yes i do, and no, it’s not. see? more, different evidence…

zac: <IP block my access> (that’ll shut him up)

yeah, it will shut me up temporarily (my most recent communication with zac was yesterday at 2:00 pm, my most recent communication with nathan was at 9:57 am this morning, and now, at 3:00 pm, i still can’t access, but in the long run, you’re going to be the one that suffers because of your interaction with me.

at least they’re not demanding more money from me… 8/


that’s <A2RGH> for you purists out there…

but yes, aargh. i discovered that my entire site had the .php files appended with the code i discovered the other day, not just my wordpress installation.

furthermore, although tech support has no evidence of a hack and says it was that way when i uploaded it, i checked my backup from last month and there were no modifications to any of the files a month ago.

aargh… 8/

[EDIT] after having been confronted with evidence (the backup that wasn’t modified) they claim to have found evidence of an account breach on 23 august, and recommended that i change my password… duh… 8/

[FURTHER EDIT] it turns out that the “evidence” was a known (to me) IP address, logging in to check their mail. however, i did find another IP address from renton logged in as root on the 20th and 21st of august, and when i suggested that someone had the root password, suddenly all the servers wend down and just recently came back up… all of them except the tech support site… very interesting…


insulation & pegboardi’ve accomplished about as much as is possible for me to do without help… and possibly a ladder. the insulation is left over from an igloo stage-prop that was a part of a movie that jeremy was a part of producing last year, before i went to burning man. he wrote a message to cirquechat saying that he had this “dome” that needed to be got rid of, and it sort of fit into my fantasy of what a dome should be, so i said i wanted it. but when it was delivered, i discovered that it was not very substantial, being made of quarter-inch plywood and foam insulation, so i stowed it under a huge blue tarp at the bottom of our property and used it for projects like insulation for windows, knowing that eventually i would have a project like this to use the rest of it. now i intend to cover the bottom half of the insulated wall with sheetrock (which is just out of camera range on the right side of the photo) and the top half with pegboard. i came home from home depot the other day with two 4×8 sheets of pegboard, and i realised that i have never had this much pegboard – with a purpose – in my entire life.

in other news, i installed gucharmap yesterday, and when i rebooted, apparently my operating system decided that instead of running KDE, it was really set up to run gnome by default. which, of course, meant that when i rebooted this morning, instead of loading my pretty, shiny KDE desktop, it loaded the red, drab, default gnome desktop, and gave me an error message that said “The panel encountered a problem while loading OAFIID: GNOME_FastUserSwitchApplet. Do you want to delete the applet from your configuration”. after a good deal of whinging and complaining, and a good deal of forum perusing, and a little bit of inginuity, i discovered that i could disable automatic login and change my session back to KDE, whereupon everything went back to the way i expected it to be.

also, stuart has decided that he’s not going to play with the fremont philharmonic any longer. i don’t know what that means in the short run, considering that we’ve got trolloween and december performances of alladin, but it means a substantial change in the phil, and potentially the end of the phil all together. pam has said that if she has the choice of performing with the phil for no money, or going hiking, that she’s going to choose hiking. ted hasn’t been showing up very regularly for about a year, and katharine just had a baby, so there’s no guarantee that he’s going to be any more consistent in the short run. joseph just quit the phil as well, about a month ago. that leaves myself, sasha, kiki, and possibly kim, and i don’t know how much any of those people – myself included – want to be involved with building a new fremont philharmonic, especially since we’ve got a huge repertoire, for which we would have to come up with all the parts, or start all over from scratch. it also affects my participation in things like the moisture festival, OCF and the fremont solstice parade. i’m stereotypically worried, but there isn’t much i can do about it at this point, because, although stuart says he’s discussed his decision with simon (the founding clown of the fremont players), macque isn’t even back from burning man yet, and i haven’t even talked to the other members of the band… but i’m stereotypically worried anyway. i hate to think that my ability to attend OCF (for example) could be affected by stuart’s quitting the band, but there it is, and at this point, there’s nothing i can do about it.

something has gone awry with the CSS part of the admin section for my wordpress blog. i logged in a few days ago and was greeted by a bunch of mysql errors and the blog’s admin page made with no CSS, and, to varying degrees, it’s been that way ever since. i suppose i’m going to have to do something about it eventually, but at this point the only thing i can think of is to totally replace everything except the database.

[UPDATE] i figured it out, sort of… all of the php files in my wp-admin folder had the following code appended to the top:


which, when decoded, lead me to a file in /wp-includes/js/tinymce/themes/advanced/skins/wp_theme/img/ which was a whole bunch of script information that was base64 encoded, and a couple of IP addresses.

i’ve got the information more or less removed from the files, and i have deleted a whole bunch of suspicious files, and i have yet to discover who the IP addresses are, but when i do…

moe and i spent all day cooking yesterday, and today we have a freezer full of lunches and dinners. if things go as we’ve been discussing, we won’t have to cook again until next month.

i’m putting insulation and wallboard in the workshop. after that, it’s just a matter of moving in and unpacking the workshop stuff that i have had in storage for the past 4½ years. woo hoo!

workshop workshop workshop work!

my father in law (who is a retired electrician) came up today and got started on electrifying the workshop. he’s basically adding another 20 amp circut to our house, and then running conduit from the back of the fuse box out to the workshop. it was really strange to stand in the non-electrified workshop and say that i wanted electrical outlets here, there and there, and a 4 foot flourescent light fixture there, with a switch over there, and then have him put up boxes and wire them together, and hang a light fixture… he’s coming back tomorrow to finish the job.

while the electricity was going in, i painted the exterior of the workshop with the 5 gallons of “oops” paint i got at home depot for $15 – if i had bought 5 gallons of “exactly the right colour” paint it would have been more like $145, but the “oops” paint was exactly the right colour before i even started putting it on, because of the discounted price, and – lo-and-behold – it turns out that it’s exactly the right colour anyway, which makes it an extra bonus. i’d post a picture of it, but it’s dark outside now and the colour wouldn’t show up correctly, so that’s a job for tomorrow.

nine minute response

so at 10:28 this evening, i posted the following advertisement to craig’s list:

i have two computers, i want musical instruments

I have:
One clone PC in a beige box with Kubuntu Linux, AMD 1.5ghz processor, 800mb RAM, and 6gb hard disk.
One turquoise G3 Mac desktop with a Sonnet G4 upgrade, 800 mb RAM, 6gb hard disk and 18 gb hard disk.
Plus one Sony Trinitron P1130 19″ monitor, one KVM switch with 2 sets of cables, one PS2 keyboard and one USB mouse.

You have:
Woodwind (serrusophone, bassoon, tubax, bass clarinet, alto flute, or suchlike) or brasswind (valve trombone, double-bell euphonium, helicon, fluegelhorn or suchlike) instrument or instruments that you can’t play, are unused and/or unwanted, have sat around in the attic or closet for 20 years, or that sort of thing. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work for some reason, because I am a musical instrument repair technician and a sculptor, so if I can’t fix it so that it will play again, I can make something else out of it.

Write to me stating what you’ve got and we’ll work something out.

at 10:37 (nine minutes later) i recieved an email message from “Metallica” which said:

willing to sell just the pc? or just the processor and ram?

i wrote back to them at 10:44 (sixteen minutes after the original post was approved), saying:

i don’t want money, i want musical instruments. if you’ve got musical instruments, then we can talk.

we’ll see how this plays out. i’d be willing to bet that they don’t respond.

a sigh of nostalgia…

i backed up, reformatted and reinstalled my os9 mac, and i realised that i may have just shut down mac os9 for the last time ever this evening…

i’ve been a mac head ever since the term was coined, way back when. my first experience with a computer that wasn’t running some form of UNIX (yes indeed, i am that old) was with my father’s trash-80, the year i graduated from high school. i got pretty good at manoevering around the proto-DOS interface and programming in BASIC, but my first experience with the technology with which i actually made money for a significant portion of my life was with a Lisa – the proto-mac. the first computer job i had was typesetting for kwik-kopy printing in bellingham with a mac plus, a floppy disk drive and an 80 mb hard disk which i thought was an electronic black hole into which i could throw documents forever and not fill it up. that was back before the operating system used Hierarchical File System – HFS – it used MacFS instead, which meant that you could only have one window open at a time, and no files larger than 20mb. it was back when the mac os was free, and you could get the latest version by taking 4 floppy disks to your local mac dealer. i remember being one of the first geeks in my group to figure out that the mac was more than just a platform, and that it would be an ideal thing if you could get the mac os to run on anything. it still hasn’t happened officially, of course, but it’s closer now than it has ever been before. it wasn’t more than 5 years ago that i was working at essentially the same job, only with a much more modern computer.

so i installed os 9.2.1 on my aqua G3 desktop with a G4 upgrade, and shut it down, and i believe that it could be the last time i ever shut down a mac running os9.

the end of an era… 8)

a sigh of relief…

so i bought a new computer yesterday, and spent most of today getting it set up and running. apparently there is some specific thing that toast avoids doing, resulting in my burning no less than 3 install disks which didn’t boot correctly before i switched to disk utility and actually read the howto for burning an installation CD. i bought a bare system from a local place called InfoTech – stereotypical name, stereotypical geeks – and they didn’t have a problem building a system that was according to my specifications and not installing windoesn’t on it… of course when i had some problems with the install disk for kubuntu 9.04 they couldn’t help me, because there was nobody there that “played with linux”, but they were helpful in that they demonstrated that it was my disk and not the system itself, so everything all worked out in the end. i’ve now got a PC clone with an AMD 2.6 Ghz processor, 2 gb of RAM and a 250 gb hard disk, to which i have added my old 200 gb hard disk, my old external USB CD/DVD writer, and my colour inkjet printer. i also bought a 17″ LCD monitor with the money i saved not having windoesn’t installed, and the whole thing came in just under $500.

the strange parts are that because of the fact that i manually moved my mail information from the old disk to the new disk, kontact announces to me that it is apparently already running on fig (the name of my previous machine, the new one is ginko) and that running more than one instance of kontact may result in lost mail. i’m not sure how to convince it that it’s actually running on a new machine, but fortunately it allows me to run it anyway. also, very likely because of the fact that i didn’t restore it from a backup, all of my old mail disappeared, all of my address book entries disappeared and all of my feeds disappeared, but those are only comparaitively minor irritations. also apparently the new amarok doesn’t exactly agree with the old amarok, and i’m not exactly sure what to do about it, but that, too, is a comparatively minor irritation.

on the recommendation of st. ian, i’m going to reformat and reinstall the old computer with hardy, and i’m going to wipe and reinstall my old, os9 mac, and trade them on craigslist for a musical instrument or two. the fun part is that the advert is going to read something along the lines of “i have this computer and that computer and they’re both functional and have this software on them, you have a musical instrument or two that you don’t want or can’t play or for which you no longer have any use. email me and we’ll work something out”. basically i’ll let the customer determine what they think a PC and an old mac are worth, and then trade me for musical instrument(s) that are approximately worth the same. the bonus is that i get rid of the computers and i get a new addition to my menagerie, and i potentially get a new helpdesk customer as well… 🙂


i actually was IP blocked from cshelpdesk dot net!

in spite of the fact that [email protected] (who is undoubtedly nathan oulman, or one of his minions) said “we dont block anyone from anything” (his exact words), according to tech support goon “Zac O.”, “Your IP was blocked by the servers firewall. This has been unblocked and you can now access the server again.” apparently their server is set to block the IP address of a customer attempting to log in “incorrectly” (whatever that means, nobody has told me yet). it’s very definitely not an using an incorrect username or password, because i allow the browser to remember all of that stuff because i know how clumsy my fingers are, but nobody has seen fit to tell me what it is, other than “incorrect login attempts”.

not only that, but i’ve had to reprimand the tech support goon no less than three times this morning, for closing my issue without answering my question. the little weasel is not going to get out of this without giving me some answers. 8/

at this point, it’s not anywhere near as bad as it was yesterday, but still, i’m thinking very strongly about switching host providers again when my contract expires.

OY… 8/

more computer miserableness abounds… 😛

as of yesterday, i was going back and forth with tech support about that random mysql user that i found a couple of days ago. i had just found the solution when the tech support goon abruptly terminated the email conversation, and when i tried to refresh the page, it timed out, and has been timing out when i try to access cshelpdesk dot net from my network ever since.

however, today, i discovered that not only does everybody else actually get the hybridelephant dot com site, but they can also access cshelpdesk dot net without timing out. in fact, if i try to access either site using the neighbour’s wireless network (hooray for unsecured wireless home networking!) i can get to them without difficulty, which makes me think “IP block”.

what makes me think “IP block” even more is the fact that while i was searching around for more information about cshelpdesk (which has email address contacts, but not a telephone number anywhere that i can see), i came across this blog entry from flatsurface dot com, which is a stunning review of nathan oulman, the apparent owner of (my host provider), (my host service) and (tech support for the previous domains). the part where he says that stuff about “[t]he second time they caused a significant outage for my domains, I bitched. Their response? Block my IP from the support site, and later they simply disabled my prepaid account, in violation of our contract.” struck a very familar, and somewhat ominous chord.

and apparently it’s a very specific IP block, because it prevents me from seeing the database at Hybrid Elephant and all of cshelpdesk dot net, but it does not block me from seeing The Church of Tina Chopp or Cirque De Flambé, or any of my other domains, or even this site… this does not bode well, and i get the very distinct impression that i’m going to have to switch host providers again, as well as replacing my linux box…

which, by the way, i was out pricing computers today in order to facilitate. i discovered that if i want to buy a computer from frye’s (or just about any “computer store” like that), basically, i have to buy a computer with windoesn’t pre-installed (from the factory, so i can’t “leave it out” for a reduced price, but they’re not strictly “legal” versions of windoesn’t, because they don’t come with install disks or any way of creating them). for a windows-pre-installed complete system (CPU, monitor, keyboard, mouse) i would end up having to pay $500 to $700, which is sort of what i expected. they have “bare bones” systems that don’t come with windows, but they also don’t come with memory, or a hard disk, or KVM (keyboard, video, mouse), and they’re $200 to $500, or i can buy a “boot only” box from Re-PC for around $100 that needs a KVM and some other stuff, but because of the fact that the “boot only” box is used, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to work as long as a new box would. the final option is that i can “build your own” box that uses essentially the same components as the $500 system for about $100 to $200, but that would mean finding a system that i like, researching the components and purchasing them separately, and then putting it all together.

which i can do, but, ultimately, i would rather not do it. as i told the guy at frye’s, i’m not so much interested in building a new machine as much as i am in obtaining a new machine and using it.

every now and then i have to wonder why computers are so complicated… then i remember that at least part of the reason is that they are created by the most infuriatingly dense creatures on the planet, and they are very much like their creators – although somewhat more predictable.

which is why, i suppose, i am more at home with computers than i am with most people. 😐

err… umm… oh.

i had some sort of computer interruption last night that prevented me from figuring out this whole user 123 phenomena – apparently the server got hacked last night, but they TOSed the cracker and went to good backups within 15 minutes of my complaining, which is something… i’m not exactly sure what yet, but it’s something.

however, apparently the mysql user 123 that i deleted yesterday was important for running my oscommerce installation… which worries me enough that i’m going to figure out where it’s configured and change it to something else, because, first of all, having a default user 123 is enough of a security risk, and second, there’s a good chance that i’ll forget that user 123 is important, whereas if i see a user “ekadant” (for example) i’ll realise that it’s important and not delete it without figuring out what it is.


i was poking around (yeah, i know, bad idea… 8/ ) in the control panel for hybridelephant and i came across this thing that lists the mySQL databases and users of those databases that are on it listed the two databases that i use, but it listed 2 users whereas i’ve set it up so that i use the same username and password for both databases… which i found a little suspicious.

furthermore, the other user was named “123” which i also found somewhat suspicious…

in any event, i was doing something else, so i deleted the user account “123” and went on with doing something else.

bad move.

now, if you go to hybridelephant dot com, instead of seeing the site, you get this error message:

Warning: mysql_connect() [function.mysql-connect]: Access denied for user ‘hybridel_123’@’localhost’ (using password: YES) in /home/hybridel/public_html/includes/functions/database.php on line 19
Unable to connect to database server!

i recreated the user. no luck.
i recreated the user with the password that was indicated on line 19 of /home/hybridel/public_html/includes/functions/database.php. no luck.
i reloaded the database from the backup i made 2 weeks ago. no luck.

it’s well and truly broke, and i done broked it. 😐


so i started up my linux box this morning and it told me that there were some system updates that i had to download, so i downloaded them and then it said that in order to use those system updates that my computer had to be restarted, so i shut everything down and rebooted…

and when it came back up, it didn’t work!

it put up the login screen, like normal, and it accepted my username and password, but then, instead of loading the desktop, it loaded what looked like a transparent graphic, only it was full screen, and a mouse cursor. no task bar, no menus… eventually a window popped up, associated with the HP printer, that said there was no systray, so whatever application it was associated with was no longer trying to start. i clicked OK – which was the only thing i could do – and it went away.

so, i hit Alt+F1 and logged in to the text interface, which it allowed me to do, and typed sudo shutdown -r now and it rebooted again. this time, instead of the transparent graphic, it stayed with the login screen, but again, didn’t get beyond allowing me to login. this time, when i hit Alt+F1 and logged in, it said that the system was using 95% of 5.9G, and the /tmp directory was using 100% of 1G, the total of which, if i’m not mistaken, is slightly more than my 6G system disk.

fortunately, my /home directory and my /music directory are on a separate, 200G disk. apparently my OS is bigger than my HD, which, technically (i suppose) means that if i got a new, bigger HD, everything would be copascetic. once again, the battle of the computer has raised its ugly head…

i was just discussing this probability with moe the other day, because of the wonkish behaviour of my monitor, and i pretty much decided that i’m going to go out and buy a new computer system at that time. it’s a good thing i decided it then, because now i’m absolutely certain that that’s what i’m going to do.

it’s going to be a desktop computer with at least a 200G hard disk, and an LCD monitor, and it will not be a computer with windoesn’t preloaded. i don’t know exactly what price i’m willing to pay, but $500 to $700 doesn’t seem too out of the question.


they’re here at this very moment, putting up my workshop! 😀

UPDATE: O. M. G. this is going to be OUTRAGEOUS!!1! i realised that it was going to be 10×14, but i didn’t realise that it was going to have 8 foot walls and a 4 foot barn ceiling…!

i mean, i knew… that’s what i ordered, i just never realised that it was actually going to happen… it’s happening! it’s happening!!

Metal Machine Music

a long time ago i heard of this album by lou reed called “Metal Machine Music” which was supposedly so horribly offensive to the ears that the company had to quit making albums because so many people had returned them. of course, being who i am, i was tremendously interested in hearing this gawd-awful piece of noise for myself, but at the time, there were no copies, nobody had it on tape or CD and mp3s hadn’t been invented yet, so i was out of luck. a good friend of mine had actually heard the album, though, and he had assured me that it wasn’t worth the time i spent trying to find out about it, because it was truly awful, and, because i had faith in this friend’s tastes in music, i took his word for it and gave up trying to find a copy.

that was until last week, when i found a bittorrent of lou reed that included the fateful album. of course i had to download it. i even wasted my good share ratio and only downloaded the albums i wanted instead of downloading the whole thing, because we were going on vacation for a week and i had to shut down my computer during that time. i just got around to listening to it today, and i have to say that, while i understand why most “normal” people wouldn’t find it appealing in the least, i find it really interesting indeed, and i am somewhat disappointed that i gave up so easily. actually, i find it compelling in the same way i find the music of john cage compelling. it’s definitely a classic, and while i can understand that it is the reason lou reed is considered to be the founder of heavy metal music, i also find that this particular piece bears a striking resemblence to karlheinz stockhausen, charles amirkhanian or luciano berio.

Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed – it’s worth a listen, regardless of what your friends who normally have excellent taste in music might say.


tired. spent all day at an art car showing in everett. i got paid $100 for going to an arts festival and sitting on my ass all day. i need more days like that. before that was 5 days of no computer access (it turns out that it was on purpose, too) on orcas island. when i returned home (yesterday) it was to discover that my monitor is on the fritz (again) and is looking like it is on its last legs, which means yet another go-round with the battle of the computer. there are a whole bunch of pictures from the san juans that can be seen here, but there’s one picture that won’t upload correctly (i assume that it’s because it’s an animated .gif) which i’ve had to upload elsewhere to get it to show up correctly, which is this one:orcas ferry

more later.

in honour of my having received my CD of Organ2/ASLSP by John Cage

information reprinted from another of my web sites

I have been a musician for most of my life. Throughout my life, I have heard references to many famous musicians, some of whom have had a great deal of effect on my life, both as a musician and as a human being. One of the most profound effects my life has experienced is that which originated with the great artist, musician and composer, John Cage.

He was first introduced to me as a composer of “unusual” music. I have always been interested in the out-of-the-ordinary, and when I encountered a piece of music for the Prepared Piano, a John Cage invention, I knew I had found a kindered spirit. His unorthodox use of chance, creating music by rolling dice or following mathematical formulae, or even determining notes in a score by using star charts as an indicator inspired my own, interesting (many would say bizarre) unorthodox experiments. John Cage also had the honor of being able to study with the great serial composer Arnold Schönberg, who is another of my favourite composers, especially for his oratorio Pierrot Lunaire. One of my favourite characteristics of Pierrot Lunaire, outside of the music itself, of course, is the fact that when I was in high school, and I played it on my stereo, it would give my mother a headache. John Cage, himself, gave quite a bit of insight into his unorthodox way of thinking, and, by extension, his unorthodox music and artwork in his “Autobiographical Statement”, which first appeared in print in the Southwest Review in 1991.

Later in my life, I attended the Cornish School, where John Cage worked, and performed in the tiny performance hall which had been the original reason he invented the prepared piano, and it felt to me like I was following in the steps of someone I respected very much. At that time, I was also composing a lot of music using various numeric and geometric techniques. Somewhat later, during my first year at Fairhaven College, I performed Cage’s famous piano piece called 4’33” – which is, basically, four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence, in three movements which are delineated by the performer opening and closing the cover of the piano keyboard. There is a web-based rendition of this famous piece of music, which is performed in one movement, sans piano. Oddly enough, my rendition of 4’33” was performed on an old, upright piano which, only moments before the start of my performance, I had managed to knock over on its back (I had to have about 6 other people help me lift it back upright again), and the keyboard had completely locked, so if I had had to play notes, I would not have been able to do so.

In 2001, I read of another performance of music by John Cage which I found to be particularly inspiring, which is a performance of an adaptation of Cage’s piece for piano called “As Slow As Possible”. In the small town of Halberstatd, Germany, in an old, abandoned church-turned-pig-farm-turned-performance-hall, an organ is being constructed for the performance of a piece called “Organ2 – ASLSP” (movement 5 of which can be heard here), which, when complete, will be the longest musical performance in human history, taking 639 years to finish. The performance started on 5 September, 2001, and for the first 17 months the only sound was silence, punctuated by the wheezing of the solar-powered organ bellows. The first three actual notes of the performance began on 3 February, 2003, another note was added in July of 2004 and another note was added in July of 2005. According to what I have read, an intermission is planned in 2319.

I have always had a lot of respect for people who make their living doing unconventional things. I have tried very hard to be one of those people, because it has become evident to me that the people doing unconventional things in their lives are among the only people in existence who are having even the slightest bit of fun that isn’t heavily influenced, and in most cases totally controlled by someone else. John Cage has always been a powerful influence in my life because of his ability to be unconventional and extremely successful at the same time.

the pile of shed

a pile of shedwith the help of St. Ian of The Holy Snake, we now have a quite large pile of shed in our back yard, and the place where the shed used to be is more or less clear and ready to have the new workshop(!!) built there. while i was at it, i removed the outdated and obsolete technnology otherwise known as a television antenna from the roof. i plan on re-using about 90% of the shed to make the new workshop even cooler than it will already be, and the pole from the antenna would be perfect for hanging a Hybrid Elephant banner from at the fremont sunday market… all i gotta do is actually design and produce a banner…

in other news, there’s a snake suspenderz gig at the issaquah art walk on thursday, a BSSB performance at the ballard locks on sunday, after which moe and i are leaving for a week of well deserved vacation at the doe bay resort, thanks to pliny the younger general manager.

beetlemania part deux

ten lined june beetlejust like last year only this year… makes me wonder if they have some kind of metaphysical meaning. the life cycle of the ten-lined june beetle indicates that the adults are drawn to light (check) and they emerge as adults in june or july, laying eggs in august. the pupæ spend two to three years underground, near coniferous trees (check) before emerging.

1 grid unit equals approximately 1.5 mm. total length approximately 3.3 cm.


i’m in the process of taking down the shed, and i’ve been taking it easy and going very slowly, because i’m not using the correct tools. i should be using my two medium pry-bars (one hexagonal and one flat). if i were using the correct tools, i probably would have completed the job by now. what i’m using instead is MJOLNIR (my 5 pound sledge hammer, named after the Hammer of Thor) and one of my claw hammers.

i HATE knowing that i have the right tools, and if i had a workshop i’d be able to put my hands on them immediately, but because of the fact that i haven’t had a workshop in 4 years, i don’t even know where i packed them, and will very likely have to go out and buy replacement tools to be able to finish the job of demolishing the old shed so that i will have the space to build a workshop!


Where’s George?

i joined Where’s George on May 17, 2002 and my state rank in washington is currently 5,399 out of 5,410. admittedly i’m not as persistent about it as some people (the ones who purchase rubber stamps that go around the US Federal Reserve logo on the obverse of bills that say “Track This Bill…” with the URI on it) but still… i’ve been a member for 8 years and i’ve only moved up 11 slots?

maybe it’s because i “deface” my bills by marking out ‘GOD WE” on the reverse, and marking in “KEEP RELIGION OFF OUR MONEY”… 😐

heat wave continued

bakon vodkathe heat wave continues, but it was typically overcast this morning, and now, at 4:45 pm, it’s only 88 so it’s considerably cooler.

i got started taking down the existing shed today. i got it completely emptied out and all of the shelves deconstructed and then i broke myself. i was taking out the last shelf and suddenly there was a sharp pain in my lower back, and if i hadn’t stoped right then and gone inside and lay down, my guess is that it wouldn’t have been more than a couple of minutes until i had passed out from the pain. i took a couple of ibuprophen and iced it for about half an hour and it feels considerably better, but i’m going to have to take it really easy tomorrow if i want to get the shed taken down without injuring myself even further. i figure now that it’s empty, it shouldn’t be too difficult to take the walls down, take the roof off potentially in one piece, and take the framework apart in such a way that i can use most of it for other stuff later on.

i got my bottle of bakon vodka yesterday. i haven’t opened it yet, and i’m debating whether i want to open and try it, or whether i want to keep it unopened and pristine as a collector’s item. a lot of it depends on whether or not i am able to obtain another bottle of bakon vodka. i put my name on the list at the liquor store on 4th avenue in downtown seattle two months ago and they said they would call me when they got more in, but according to the person i talked to yesterday, they have had at least two previous deliveries in the past two months and they didn’t call. the guy would only allow me to buy one bottle because it sells out so quickly, despite the fact that they hadn’t called me. i plan on going back tomorrow and seeing if there’s a different guy that will sell me another bottle.

banda gozona is playing for somebody’s quinceañera (15th birthday?) in west seattle tomorrow, and i’m thinking of going to the FSM on sunday.

heat wave!!!!1

oh. my. GAWD it’s been hot the past few days!! we’ve shattered old heat records three days in a row! three nights ago the lowest the temperature got was 69, which shattered the old record (set in the 1950s, i think), and then two nights ago the lowest it got was 71, and last night the lowest was 72. yesterday it was almost 120 in olympia, and i, personally, saw a reader board in des moines that said 103. needless to say, i’ve been keeping the computers turned off most of the time, and only doing email once a day for the past few days. it’s slightly less hot today, but still, the weather report says that it’s going to hit 99 later this afternoon, so as soon as this is done, i’m turning the computer off again. it’s the end of the world or something. it’s just WAY too hot!

in other news, i paid off the roofers today to the tune of almost $9,000, i got a date set for building a workshop(!!!) on 18th august, and the guy is coming over for a site check today. also moe and i are going to doe bay, camping in one of their yurts, the 9th through the 13th, and we get to pay ½ price because we’re “friends and family” now… 8) another really good reason why, in spite of the gawdawful heat, this is a very good place to live indeed.

that must be it…

i’ve recently had some moral discussion with myself concerning my attraction to the blog pharyngula, because of the fact that, while i agree with PZM most of the time, whenever he makes broad, sweeping generalisations about acupuncture, chiropractic or religion i usually get winged in the process. basically i don’t know whether it’s actually a good thing that i’m attracted to what he writes because of the fact that there is so much disparity between the stuff that i agree with and the stuff i disagree with. i was thinking about this today when i was reading an entirely unrelated article, and he said “I know evil when I see it” and proceded to rant about a hypothetical priest raping a child. that was when i saw my dilemma in a new light. not necessarily that raping a child is evil, but that he, and people who think like him, are exactly the same as “christians” when he says that he can concretely define the difference between good and evil. raping a child is not evil, it just is, in the same way that everything else just is, including God.

for some people it may be difficult to hear and understand this, but the thing is, God is neither good nor evil. God exists in a place where the dual opposites of good and evil are meaningless. good and evil don’t matter to God, which is why they both exist in plenty on earth, and, likely, elsewhere as well.

of course, if the priest really were a “man of God”, he wouldn’t rape the child for other reasons, but this is the root of my discomfort with pharyngula. i have the same discomfort with “christians” and i have actually done my best to limit my contact with them because i don’t like the way they make me feel when they say their stubborn, stupid, ignorant lies and maintain them as fact. they “know evil when they see it” in exactly the same way PZM does, and while PZM doesn’t spout anywhere near as many stupid, ignorant lies as “truth”, he is just as stubborn about the ones he does spout as the “christians” are.

“cult” = “christian”

It’s easy to spot signs of a cult – okay, let’s look at this from a bigger point of view: are not “christians” characterised by claiming that they, and they alone, have the truth about “god”, and dismissing other religions as wrong or misguided? and what about “god” giving their founders a new revelation that “corrects” the “errors” of others”? what about the differences between eastern and western orthodox catholics and methodists, or presbyterians and jehovah’s witnesses? what about the war over whether to perform the sign of the cross with two or three fingers? do they not add other authorities (like billy graham) to whatever canon they work under and secretly substitute their own teachings for things with which they disagree? what is it, if not in the message that “the only way… is through faith and trust in Christ” that makes “christianity anything different than the “cults” that he is warning against?

the fact that i can easily find “christianity” in this article that is supposed to be about “cults” should be warning to any “christian” who might be reading this, that even in such notable and presumably “christian” personalities as billy graham there is enough hypocrisy and lust for money that we should all be extremely careful about what we take as “The Gospel Truth” when it comes to making a personal decision like what one’s spiritual path should be.

if you’re really concerned about whether or not a group may be a “cult”, i would recommend evaluating it with the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame.

Continue reading “cult” = “christian”


my first real fez

okay, i have just realised one of my lifelong dreams, which is to own a fez. i’ve owned a few things that are frighteningly close to being fezzes without actually being them, including a touque which i wear as though it was a fez, minus the tassle, and a genie hat that was given to me in exchange for a bunch of mail-art a few years ago. however, as much as these hats look like they might be fezzes, they aren’t. of course, i could join some shrine-like organisation, but the fact is that, in general, i find the whole concept of fraternal organisations totally meaningless. the only fraternal organisation i have even thought about joining, which doesn’t wear fezzes, was e clampus vitus, a few years ago, but my wishes were dashed when i expressed my excitement to join by wearing a red shirt and a vest to my inquiry, which is apparently one of the few wrong things to do among clampers, and i was denied membership. i don’t think i would have gotten along too well with them anyway, as most of them were also eagles and very right-wing-nutjob types.

anyway, my old friend and band-mate howlin’ hobbit recently obtained (i don’t know whether he bought it or it was given to him) a fez from fez-o-rama and was so impressed with it that he joined the order of the fez and has been spreading fezerocity all around for a few weeks, and it was he that finally caused me to get off my duff and order my own fez, which i am currently wearing. yes, i am a geek, deal with it.

i actually wanted to receive my fez before snake suspenderz performed at renton river days, this afternoon, but the UPS delivery didn’t happen in time. i had to leave at 3:00, and the UPS delivery usually doesn’t happen until 4:00, so i wore my touque and roughed it.


based on what i have read in a variety of places over the past 6 months or so, i have apparently been one of the few negative interactions with 1&1 which have had positive (to me) reprocussions. i just received a phone call from a very pleasant sounding lady who was a 1&1 representative, who wanted to know why i had cancelled my account. when i told her about being bait-and-switched (i only told her an abbreviated version of the entire, sordid story) she agreed that she would probably have done the same thing. then she asked if there was anything 1&1 could do to entice me back, to which i responded “absolutely not”. what i didn’t say is that i would find it rude and insulting if they offered such a deal, and the fact that they offered it made me think even less of them that i already did. i may have been sucked in by the very big stupid, but i learned something from it, which, i suppose, is the important part.


the paypal module suddenly decided not to add the shipping to the total when people use paypal to check out. it’s always been somewhat wonky, and has required two separate emails and usually a trip to the administration interface, or to my paypal account to figure out exactly what they paid at checkout, but until now it has worked more or less. now, it’s definitely headed towards the “less” side of things. oddly enough, i know practically nothing about how the customer gets from my web site to paypal’s web site and back with presumably encrypted payment information, and now it’s cropped up and is biting me on the ass. i don’t want to have to put an extra page in explaining why i am deficient, especially since every other online company seems to do it more or less seamlessly. i suspect part of it will involve buying a SSL certificate, but i want to examine all my options (of which there may actually be none) before i spend the money to do so.


so i just noticed that i haven’t posted about the result of my buying PA speakers for Ganesha The Car, so here goes…


i bought two PA speakers which were installed under the bumpers in front and back. these are speakers that are used outside, for phone announcements in auto lots, or sirens, or that sort of thing. each speaker is 25w, which doesn’t sound like much, but i’ve only had it up to 30 and it’s ear splitting. the volume control goes up to 50, but i don’t think i’m ever going to have it that high. the stereo is now a JVC KD-ABT22, which, again, doesn’t sound like much, but it is much more what i wanted than the original stereo which was the manufacturer’s installation. the new stereo has a fancy removable faceplate that has an auxilliary input jack which i can run directly to my phone (or ipod, or whatever) for inside music, and i’ve got a new switch on the dashboard that lets me turn on the outside PA speakers as well.

i’ve already used the PA at SACBO, at OCF and a couple of other places. i really need to find out what it sounds like to a stationary observer, and to an observer in another car when i whiz by on the freeway, because i have been running the PA speakers on the freeway on occasion.


so i got another letter from the attorney general for the commonwealth of pennsylvania today. it contained two letters, one from the attorney general’s assistant who was assigned to work on this for me, and the other from joseph quinn of 1&1 internet inc., which is the amusing one. it says:

I am responding to complaint B09-7341 filed against 1&1 Internet Inc.

We understand that you have been unsuccessfull in attempting to cancel your 1&1 internet account.

Your customer ID 19710337 was locked onto a 1-year contract upon the account’s registration. This was a special deal that included discounts and other benefits, saddled with a contract of one (1) year.

However, we certainly do not wish to continue to bill and invoice you for a service that is no longer used or wanted.

In this, was [sic] have set customer ID 19710337 to cancel within the next two (2) weeks time. You will not be billed or invoiced any further for this service. We are currently removing all your relative information from our internal systems.

Furthermore, we can see that you have been trying to cancel for soe time.

As such, [sic] we are refunding your two (2) most recent invoices. Both refunded invoices are for the $59.97 amount. This would bring your refunded total to the $119.94 amount.

Hopefully, this will resolve any outstanding complaints that you may have.

let’s examine this a bit more closely…

i was unsuccessful in cancelling my account, because after repeated attempts to do so, your employees refused to listen or respond appropriately to my requests. despite your claims otherwise, when i signed up with 1&1, it was with the understanding that i was signing a three (3) month contract, and the first i ever heard about a 1 year contract was after i made the second payment for 3 months.

at the same time, if i had known that it was going to be this easy to break a one-year contract, i wouldn’t have rasied so much of a stink about it, and simply written to the attorney general when i first had my suspicions that i had been bait-and-switched.

i am currently under a one (1) year contract with my new host provider, which provides me with better quality, more reliable and more industry-compatible service, for around $85 a year. if i had maintained the one (1) year contract with 1&1, i would have had less reliable, less industry-compatible service with a greater possibility of being blacklisted for sharing an IP address with a spammer or a phisher, and i would have had to pay around $200. if that’s what you call “discounts and other benefits”, then i suggest you invest your money in a quality english-language dictionary. it might help with your grammar as well.

i don’t have any complaints with the resolution of my claim, however i will still recommend against using 1&1 services to my clients, because i disagree with your sales tactics and how this complaint had to be dealt with in order to reach this conclusion.


tuba player of the djinn

1&1 internet has decided that i really did have a contract that was only 3 months, because they have decided to release me from that contract, as i requested, plus refund the last two invoices (totalling about $120, hooray!) and no longer hassle me about having a contract that expires in december…

of course this happened after they were contacted by the attorney general for the commonwealth of pennsylvania (where they’re located) and by the better business bureau…

i wish it didn’t have to go this far, but at the same time, i’m really glad that they didn’t push it any further, because i was prepared to get really nasty with them, and i doubt that it would have been pleasant regardless of how it came out.

in other news, there are now pictures of the oregon country fair online. there aren’t as many pictures as last year, but that is primarily because it rained sunday and there’s only so many pictures of wet, muddy hippies that one can take before it starts to get redundant. my physical birthday was while i was at the fair. that day, i played two shows for the fremont players, plus i played an open mike at the morningwood odditorium, i played the midnight (eastern time) show on the main stage, for which i got a custom-printed bandana, and i played an 11:00 pm show at the ritz. all in all, i would say that it was one of the better birthdays i have had in quite a while.

back from OCF

i arrived on tuesday and left on monday. sunday it rained – HARD – all day, so sunday night was a little muddy and monday morning was complicated by the fact that the safety crew decided that nobody could drive past the craft lot. i was efficient and took half my load out sunday night, and so i was able to get the rest out in one load, early this morning… it was really muddy, i was being facetious before. OCF happens in what, in the wintertime, is a cross between a bog and a riverbed, and it doesn’t take much rain at all to bring things to a complete standstill. nevertheless, we were one of the few theaters that did all our shows in spite of the rain, and because we had an awning and convenient food booths handy, we had fairly large audiences for both shows in spite of the mud.

the other days were better though. saturday was my birthday. i did two shows, one at noon and one at 3:00, i did the open mic at morningwood with my long flute and digital delay at 5:30, the “midnight” show (which is actually at 9:00, midnight eastern time) and a show at the ritz at 11:00, plus i spent 2 hours in the sauna.

i’ve got a whole bunch of pictures, but i haven’t got them organised yet. more later.


moe & holly

portland yesterday: we got up at some ungodly early hour and i drove to portland while moe did half of her homework. then we had breakfast at the cadillac café with moe’s friend holly, who, for one reason or another, we haven’t seen since the day we got married. after breakfast, we went to moe’s mother’s house, which is actually in milwaukie, whereupon, once the doggies were secure, i proceded to take a nap for a couple of hours – which probably made all the difference in my mood later on. i came to about the time people started arriving. apart from anne, nancy, moe’s mom, and bill, a friend of anne’s, who are there all the time, there were elena and ralph, old friends of moe’s mom, and their friend greg, who looked like he was about 15 (moe later told me that he’s probably in his early 20s), and “bert” (alberta? roberta?) and bill #2. i’m not exactly sure who they are, or were, friends of, but bill #2 was more than a little deaf, he was very opinionated to the point of racism, and he liked to tell everybody about his opinions whether they liked it or not, because he was deaf enough that he spoke very loudly and was able to be heard by the neighbours across the street. of course, because of the fact that it wasn’t my house and i wasn’t even completely sure who the guy was, i couldn’t say anything, and the primary residents of the house (anne, nancy and bill #1) were too “polite” (or too afraid) to say anything to him – he’s apparently a retired military “hero” or something like that – which meant that most of the time from then until we left was spent in avoiding conversations with him. moe later said that “bert”, his wife, apparently doesn’t even like him any longer. there was something odd about greg, too. i’m not quite able to put my finger on exactly what it was, but his behaviour in general seemed to be somewhat affected, like he wasn’t exactly sure of how to act. and, at one point, he said something along the lines of “god fucking damnit”and stormed out of the house, with no further explanation. when asked about it, ralph and elena both said that it was “probably nothing” and that apparently he did this sort of thing fairly frequently. there was a whole bunch of tobacco smoking going on, not the least of which was by anne, a retired nurse who has had at least one stroke already. it was all i could do not to say something rude about it. when i first encountered this dysfunctional family group, almost 12 years ago, i described them as a real-life situation comedy but now, 12 years later, i would describe them as barely tolerable, and that only because they are my wife’s family. if not for that, i would very likely have nothing to do with any of them, in much the same way that i currently have nothing to do with my parents… and for a lot of the same reasons.

and that’s not to mention the fact that two of our three doggies are traumatised by all of the fireworks going off everywhere. moe gave them a zanax and that quieted them down a little, and the bark collar (an ingenious little device that has an electronic sensor which senses a bark happening and sprays a little eucalyptus into the dog’s face every time they bark) helped a little as well, but yesterday was generally a stressful day for everyone. fortunately we decided to return home before dark, so that when the fireworks were the loudest at least the doggies would have a familiar bed to hide under.

the only good part about the holiday is that now it’s over there’s one fewer days until OCF. i leave on wednesday, and the only reason i can wait is because i don’t have any choice in the matter.


it’s only been less than a week, and the spam has already started regarding who killed michael jackson, or that michael jackson isn’t dead. he’s already had two autopsies and there’s already a number of tasteless jokes about him, like this one: since he was made of plastic anyway, they’ve decided to melt him down and make legos out of him, so that kids can play with him for a change. a legal battle going on over the custody of his kids between his ex-wife and his mother. if it weren’t so gawddamn predictable, it would be entirely awful for everybody. as it is, it probably is entirely awful for everybody involved, and predictably boring or sensational depending on whether you were a fan or not.

another order of business cards for NBAC is on the way, and one is in the works for MIVC. i can’t get helvetica narrow, narrow oblique, narrow bold and narrow bold oblique to load on my mac. i suspect that it is at least partially because of a font-type conflict with which i haven’t adequately dealt.

portland and in-laws saturday, OCF in a week.


i heard of a group of people at a local university who had devoted their lives to the academic study of ancient egyptian plumbing… they’re called pharaoh faucet majors.

farrah fawcett died today of anal cancer. she was 62.

also, michael jackson (michael jackson, michael jackson) is dead… finally! now all we have to do is hope someone doesn’t bring him back as a real zombie.


this is why i have the opinion that, even before my injury, in general, people are just too stupid to live, and specifically, when it surrounds situations involving me, they simply don’t have a clue where i’m coming from, as if i were from another planet or something, and they simply have no frame of reference with which to relate.

i got a disk in the mail yesterday, which contains all of the material that my attorney used to get my SSDI claim approved. it contains, among (MANY) other things, a “psyciatric review technique narrative” by dr. steven t. haney, dated june 17, 2005, wherein he wrote “He would do best in settings with minimal interpersonal contact as this would be less stressful for her.”

😮 :???

i am not making this up. dr. steven t. haney wrote “He would do best in settings with minimal interpersonal contact as this would be less stressful for her” about me.

okay, this guy is presumably a doctor, which means that he actually graduated from grammar school, and thus, should know that “Each pronoun agrees with their anticedent“. furthermore, i don’t even know who he is, so i’d be willing to bet that he knows at least as much about me, which is clearly obvious since he doesn’t even know my gender – despite the fact that it is clearly printed at the top of the page, “This is a … male who sustained a left anterior parietal intraparenchymal hemorrhage secondary to an AV malformation…”. i’d be willing to bet that, even though he doesn’t appear to have a clue about my gender, he could wax poetic about the meaning of my left anterior parietal intraparenchymal hemorrhage…

and yet, this guy, who doesn’t know me from neither adam nor eve, had a say in denying my SSDI benefits for three years. and people wonder about why my opinion about life is so negative… 😐


pictures of SACBO. nothing particularly outstanding happened, except for the fact that i ran into yet another old hippy that i knew 35 years ago, truckin’ dave… this is too much of a coincidence to be considered a coincidence any longer. now i’m absolutely convinced that God is talking to me, all i’ve got to do is figure out what He’s saying.

more later. i’ve got to do my husbandly duty and mow the lawn dandelions…

shows and anniversary

snake suspenderz today (thursday) at the queen anne farmers’ market, 3:00 pm until (potentially) 7:00 pm.

SACBO, friday, saturday and sunday. busy. not posting anything unless it’s outstanding and amazing.

we’re not sure because they’re still deciding whether or not it’s going to include us, but at this point it looks very much like the fremont philharmonic will not be playing at the solstice parade on saturday, primarily because they haven’t decided where it would happen, if it does happen (peter toms is being pushed around by whatever council subcommittee is in charge of the parade), plus our trumpet player just had a baby yesterday and our saxophonist has another gig. that means that, potentially, i’m going to have two days of vending at the solstice festival. woo… hoo?

11th wedding anniversary sunday. still don’t know whether or not we’re doing anything special, because of SACBO and an agility trial that moe has scheduled.

the bbb

i got a call this morning from the better business bureau. at first i thought that they were exceptionally efficient in dealing with my 1&1 complaint, but this was the better business bureau of alaska, washington and oregon, and the bbb with whom i filed my complaint was the bbb of washington DC and eastern pennsylvania. nevertheless what they had to say was exciting… at first…

the upshot of the call is that i have been invited to become accredited with the bbb, at an A+ rating, based on the extensive background check that they did of hybrid elephant and its two DBAs, Nataraja Music Service (no web site, although i still own the domain name) and Rent-A-Geek.

the difficult part is that it basically consists of “free” advertising that they provide for me, if i pay them $550 a year for accreditation. i told the guy that, up until less than a month ago, i didn’t even have $550, and regardless, $550 would be a significant portion of my yearly income.

the latest piece of the 1&1 fiasco

i figured that i would file a fraud complaint with the police concerning 1&1. my experience has been that frequently the person who goes to the authorities first is the one who gets the authorities’ sympathy, and if you don’t go to the authorities until they come looking for you, even if you’re the one who is “right”, they have a tendency to look at whatever you say with suspicion, simply because someone else complained about you.

so i called the auburn police department to file a fraud complaint. even though our address is in auburn, the auburn police department doesn’t serve our area, because it is in the “unincorporated area” of king county, and is, thus, covered by the king county sheriff’s department. the king county sheriff’s department won’t take a fraud complaint, because there’s nothing they can do about it – despite the fact that fraud is a crime, they said that it is a civil matter, not a criminal one. they recommended that i file a complaint with the better business bureau, so i did. my complaint number is 0EC37-D0640-8140C-191A4-D2E85-C1D85-E0.

they want me to wait 30 days before inquiring about my complaint, and i’d be willing to bet that, complaint or no, 1&1 is going to try to contact me prior to that 30 day period. at this point, it’s a waiting game. we’ll see what happens.

bring it ON!

i got another email from 1&1 today, which said <ominous music>

please find the attached screenshots showing the offer you acceptted & the terms of said offer INCLUDING THE 12 MONTH CONTRACT.

with three attachments.

the first attachment is a screen shot from their current web site with the “specials” that they offer, all of which include a 12 month contract – but none of which i agreed to.

the 2nd attachment is the funny one. they said that it’s a screen shot of the contract i agreed to, except for the following items: 1) i never agreed to that particular contract. 2) it says “Recurring Payments, $19.95 per month; 1 time setup fee, $9.95”, and it has verbiage about a 12 month contract. the document i agreed to said “Recurring Payments, $9.95 per month; 1 time setup fee, free” and it had verbiage about a 3 month contract. finally, the “free domain” in their screen shot is blurred out so that i shouldn’t be able to read it, but i can make out enough to be able to tell that it is not my domain.

the 3rd attachment is a screen shot that i faxed to them, that shows their offer of an unlimited account for $9.95 per month, with no setup fee and no mention of a 12 month contract, except in very tiny print at the bottom – which, on my print, is actually not there!

furthermore, none of the three attachments have anything like a date on them, whereas the 5 items i faxed to them all have very clear dates on them.

okay… bring it ON!

hah HAH!

so i called up 1&1 this morning and explained that i had cancelled my account because when i signed up for it, it was a month-to-month contract for $9.95 a month, and i DID NOT sign up for anything different (and i’ve got the prints to prove it), and that if they attempted to debit my account it would notify the authorities, because the account has been cancelled.

the lady replied “oh, in that case i’ll make a note not to debit your account any further. is there anything else i can help you with?”

i just got an email from them threatening me with an interruption in my service…8) i’ve already moved all of my domains, so an “interruption of service” from their point of view won’t make an awful lot of difference in the long run… 8)

of course they’re probably going to sic the collection agency on me next. fortunately i’ve got the prints, with dates of the web pages about the account i really signed up for, to prove that i’m right, so they won’t get too far…


i got an email from 1&1 today, saying that my (now inactive) credit card will be debited for the next three months according to the cotnract that i DIDN’T SIGN. i look forward to calling them tomorrow, telling them that if any money is removed from that particlular accont, the authorities will be notified, and then gloating when they demand a new credit card number and i refuse to give it to them… BOY do i look forward to that situation…

Ganesha the post

i picked up my PA speakers from TC Auto today, and i made an appontment at Car Toys on friday for them to upgrade my stereo and install the PA speakers with a switch, so that i can play music either inside, or outside the car. this is an upgrade that i’ve been dreaming about almost ever since i first painted Ganesha the Car – not least because of the fact that the current stereo has sticky buttons and when i use them to switch from one radio station to another, the buttons get stuck in the “activate” position and i end up with 3 buttons that all point to the same radio station… which is quite annoying.

in preparation for SACBO, i repainted a whole bunch of the car, particularly on the front and drivers’ side door, where the paint had come off. if i were to do it all over again, i would probably do something along the lines of taking emery paper to the parts of the car that i was going to paint. but it would have been difficult, because its not as though i would be painting a big area or a solid pattern, and sanding the entire car would have made the white parts dull in comparison to the bright, shiny black and red. i still need to redo the red lines of text, but i may or may not get to that before SACBO, simply because it really is rather difficult. i may have to borrow the community paint pot again some time, because the ganesha yantra on the roof is starting to flake off, and i don’t think i have the right colours to fix it without it being painfully obvious.

also, i found that costco carries aquapel which is the one thing i really missed about going to jiffy lube. now my life without jiffy lube is complete.

today is the last day of my “contract” with 1&1, and i haven’t heard anything from them about renewing. i’ll try to log into my account tomorrow, and if i still can i’ll probably call them and remind them that i am not a customer of their any longer. i still haven’t heard anything about pipeline data yet, but with a 5-figure bank account thanks to SSDI, i’m a little less concerned about $300 as i was previously. also the bank said that they wouldn’t be getting back to me for 90 days, so they’ve still got a month to go.

too many spoons this weekend

so i went white water rafting on saturday. it started with getting up at zero dark thirty so that i could leave at 6:30 to get to st. fred’s house by 8:00. then it was breakfast at st. fred’s (bacon, eggs and hashbrowns, thanks to st. gordy) and off to cashmere, which is where the party ended. then it was getting all geared up, wet-suit, PFD (personal floatation device) and paddle, whereupon we were bussed west of leavenworth, about 14 miles up river to where we put in. it was way better than the last time i went, primarily because i didn’t actually fall in the water – although i had a hand, literally, in rescuing the guy in front of me (howard? steve?) when he fell in. once we got out, there was a barbecue, and then the ride home, which was fairly quiet because we were too tired to talk much. it was fun, but i used up way too many spoons, which meant that instead of being efficient and mowing the lawn yesterday, i slept most of the day.

moe didn’t go with us white water rafting because she had an agility trial saturday and sunday. it was cool for her, too, because in two days, two of her dogs earned their NATCH (North American Agility Trial Champion). one of the dogs, magick, had been trying for her NATCH for several months, but the other one, zorah, just breezed right through it, which was exciting, even if i wasn’t there to see it. so we went out to dinner last night to celebrate.

i got two T-shirts, on saturday, from T-shirt Hell (where the bad t-shirts go) that say “Tuba Hero”. i have a rehearsal later this evening and i intend on wearing one of them, just to see how many people notice. i’m also going to mow the lawn dandelions this morning, hopefully before it gets too hot.

um… still ergh, but not anywhere near as much.

i’m still coughing intermittently. i went to see chris a few days ago and he gave me some Clear Mountain Air Tea Pills. the recommended dose is 8 pills 3 times a day, but i found that they produce extremely bitter tasting phlegm, and i decided to reduce the dosage to 8 pills once a day because that way the bitter taste was less pronounced.

i’m still rather amused about the disparity between what i read and largely agree with at pharyngula and the stuff, which if PZ myers knew i was reading, would probably put him in a tizzy, namely my general acceptance of things like acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and hinduism. things like my ear, and my back – i know enough about chiropractic that i can instruct someone who has never done it before in the correct way to “crack” my back to make the pain disappear (and stay gone for 2-3 years) that the doctor said was “a virus” that i would simply have to put up with in my shoulder (when i was in high school) – and the fact that when i take certain homeopathic and/or herbal medicines, things go away a lot more quickly than they would if i were treating them with “conventional” medicines… or the fact that, regardless of how little evidence there is to prove the existence of God, i don’t just believe, i know that God exists, because i am in constant communication with Him (for lack of a better term). i really wonder how a guy who can be rational and reasonable – and, more importantly, correct – so much of the time, can be so pig-headed and ignorant so much of the time. and then i remember that, for all of the proof that i accept as real, i can’t actually show that proof to anyone.

oh well… 😐

i haven’t been posting as much because the weather has been ridiculously hot for the past week or so, and i’ve been keeping the computers turned off as much as possible… and there hasn’t been very much in the way of postable stuff happening anyway, apart from the usual death, destruction and politics. it’s cooler and overcast today, but it’s still pretty hot. i built a shelf for the air conditioner that we got last year – the “universal air conditioner support” that i bought at home depot wouldn’t work – so now, theoretically, all i have to do is block up the rest of the window that remains open when the air conditioner is in use – which i will probably do with styrofoam window insulation – and we’ll have a functioning air conditioner in the house.

i went to a thing that was advertised to me as an “art car” show on tuesday at roosevelt high school. it turned out that Ganesha was the only “real” art car there – there was a local amphibious car, which had an anchor labeled “emergency brake” and was made up to look like a boat, but most of them were “muscle cars”, complete with shiny, polished engine compartments, flames, and trophies. i was really surprised that a roosevelt high school student walked up and asked me if that was sanskrit, and then proceded to talk with me about a sanskrit tattoo that she wanted to get. also one of the roosevelt staff was actually able to read my car, which is unusual under normal conditions, but this lady wasn’t a hindu, and wasn’t from india. she said she was from the philippines, and her father was a pandit, though, and that made all the difference.

i’m going white water rafting in eastern washington tomorrow with st. fred and a bunch of his cronies, including st. gordy of boehnghytte, so i won’t be posting anything tomorrow. if anything outstanding happens, i’ll probably post again on sunday… or whenever i feel like it.

ergh… 8/

ergh… although not quite as much ergh as last week. it’s been really hot the past few days, to the point where i almost feel as though i’m melting, or something like that. plus i’m still getting over being sick for the past month and a half or so. i don’t feel “sick” and haven’t for the past couple of weeks, but i definitely don’t feel “healthy” either… i’ve been short of breath and coughing intermittently, and while i feel a great deal more “energetic” than i did a month ago, i still feel exhausted a lot of the time. i don’t feel like i could do as many things in the day as i “normally” can, although i have been doing a lot of “normal” stuff that i couldn’t do a month ago, anyway…

i’m upgrading the stereo and putting in a PA speaker in Ganesha the Car, which is something i’ve wanted to do for a long time (and, no, this isn’t being done with SSDI money, it’s being done with moisture festival money). now i’ll be able to play chants and suchlike at parades and shows, which is good because i’ve got a show coming up tomorrow at roosevelt high school (it’s not going to be ready for that) and SACBO is coming up in a couple of weeks.

the fremont philharmonic has a recording session this evening. we’re hoping to have a CD ready by OCF.

i cancelled my account with 1&1 (hooray) with no major problems ( hasn’t switched DNS servers yet, but that’s because wally – who hasn’t actually been a part of the cirque for 8 years or so – is the registrant, and he can’t be bothered to change it, a situation we’re trying to change, but not until it’s running on the new host server), although i did recall their saying that my account was set to expire on 12/08/2009 and i was tempted to read it as august 12, except that i’m absolutely certain that i did not sign up for an account that ended on december 8, and i’m still mad enough about their baiting-and-switching me that i don’t want to call and tell them that i’m not paying them any more money – in fact, conveniently, my credit card which has been used to pay for the account up until now has been cancelled (because of pipeline data) and if they attempt to bill any more to it, the police will get involved. so i feel like by not calling them to confirm that my account has been cancelled, perhaps i’ve gotten a little bit of mine back for their baiting-and-switching behaviour.


for a holiday weekend this has been pretty much a total bust. i hope that i’ve gotten all of my hardships out of the way for this summer, otherwise i’m going to be a very unhappy camper indeed.

i had folklife gigs with banda gozona on friday and the BSSB and simon’s birthday party with the fremont phil on saturday. i went to the banda gozona gig because i had this bizarre notion that “the show must go on” (even though i was sick AS A DOG and probably should have stayed home regardless of whose “sacred tradition” i was violating). i didn’t go to the BSSB gig or the fremont phil gig, and by sunday i was feeling a lot better, although my appetite was still not what it should be and taking out the trash fatigued me to the point where i had to sit down and breathe heavily for half-an-hour afterwards (and it’s still not much better today)…

i got the web site up and running, more or less, friday or saturday, but i was sick AS A DOG those days. i had some problems figuring out the database stuff, primarily because its my impression that every host server that runs mysql does it slightly differently than every other host server that runs mysql. once i had gotten the database quirks worked out i had to upload a whole bunch of graphics because they didn’t download correctly from the old server – which doesn’t really surprise me that much except for the fact that i was sick AS A DOG and could barely sit up without going into another round of vomiting. and then, once i had the graphics uploaded i noticed that some of them still weren’t displaying correctly, so i had to deal with the new server’s tech support queue – which is quite prompt, although i really wish that there was a phone number that i could call instead of having to file a ticket and then wait for a response – to get that straightened out… and it’s still not entirely straightened out although the parts that aren’t are not visible to the outside observer (they have to do with rewrite rules in my .htaccess file which are currently commented out so that the graphics are visible).

also, one of my clients – The Cirque de Flambé – is registered with godaddy, which won’t let the registered owner of a domain change the DNS settings of the domain he owns to a new host, and requires fax confirmation, plus a week turnaround time to change the DNS settings, which is so totally ridiculous that it is beyond imagination.

not only that, but i called car toys and talked to a guy who said that he could do what i wanted to do with my car stereo, and that i should bring my car down on sunday so that he could take a look at it, but the simple act of walking down to my car exhausted me so much that i decided to put it off until today, however when i went to car toys today, the guy wasn’t there and won’t be back until thursday, and the guy that i talked to said that to do what i want to do (upgrade the stereo and put in a feature so that i can play music on the outside of the car) requires “body modification” and the only guy who could do it was the guy who won’t be back until thursday…

on the positive side of things, i got written confirmation that SSDI has approved my claim (finally) and not only that, but i got a whopping enormous check from the united states treasury (only about half of the check that i got when i quit openwave, but still, it’s not often that a person sees a check written out to them that is 5 figures). the bank is closed today, of course, but my impression is that this will pay for a workshop for me with quite a bit left over to do things like pave the driveway, replace the windows, put in new floors and generally spiff up the house a fair amount.

i’ve been sitting up too long, however, and there’s a star wars marathon that starts in a few minutes. more later

but is it music?

from kiki the hood, human theremin, comes the question “but is it music?” to which i respond with the classic john cage quote “which is more musical: the sound of a truck driving past a gravel quarry or the sound of a truck driving past a music school?”

only these guys did it with a tractor:

how _not_ to get me as a customer…

i have to find another host provider. one that isn’t sleazy and will continue to rip me off, one that will allow all of my domains and one which will give me the maximum amount of disk space, bandwidth and mySQL databases for the least amount of money. hostgator and hostmonster are out of the question, because they won’t take all of my domains – there’s this sticky phrase in both of their terms of service that says, essentially, if you post a web site that doesn’t agree with what we say about “gawd”, then we won’t allow you to host it here, which eliminates the church of tina right away. of course i could just drop the church site all together, but that is something that i simply refuse even to consider at this point.

here’s another example of dipshit tech support that doesn’t get me as a customer:

do you allow web sites to be hosted on your service that contain “profane” material, such as can be seen at ?
Scott Abrams:
i cannot find any active hosting account for the domain with us
i know… i’m in the process of doing my homework in preparation for switching host providers, because my current one won’t allow and didn’t tell me until after i already had the domain up and running…
Scott Abrams:
i wantt o know if <REDACTED> will allow me to put up, or if i should look for a host somewhere else.
Scott Abrams:
for that please take an hosting account with us
Scott Abrams:
for that please contact our billing dept
Scott Abrams:
Please contact them by posting a ticket to BILLING dept by

Or urgent needs, you can contact them over phone on billing hours.

10AM – 4PM EDT Monday – Friday
if i “take an hosting account” with you, and you decide that i can’t put up, then i will be in the same position i am now. what i want to know is if you will allow me to put up that site before i take a hosting account with you.
Scott Abrams:
please refer for more info related to hosting
Scott Abrams:
that only tells me how much it will cost, not whether or not a web site with “profane” content will be allowed.
Scott Abrams:
please select any of the mentioned hosting plans
Scott Abrams:
after taking an hosting account with us
Scott Abrams:
we will restore your account with us
Scott Abrams:
and your domain will works fine from our server
i don’t have an account. i am wondering if i should get an account… do you speak and read english? i’m getting the impression that i should go somewhere else… 8/
Scott Abrams:
do you have any active hosting on
what do you mean? it is currently a web site that is accessible by internet, and people hit it fairly regularly…
Scott Abrams:
Scott Abrams:
do you want to transfer the hosting of with us?
that’s what i have been talking about all along…
Scott Abrams:
Scott Abrams:
please contact our billing dept for a new hosting account
Scott Abrams:
Please contact them by posting a ticket to BILLING dept by
?Or urgent needs, you can contact them over phone on billing hours.
?10AM – 4PM EDT Monday – Friday
not until i know wnether or not that domain will be allowed!
Scott Abrams:
or can email them at billing@<REDACTED>
Scott Abrams:
for more info please contact our billing dept

they don’t have a toll free phone number, they’re on the east coast, which means that by 1:00 pm they’re already closed, and they employ pathetic geek-wannabes like scott abrams to do tech support over “live chat” for them. i guess i’m not going to be hosting with <REDACTED>…

at this point i’m consdidering ANRHost (who replied almost immediately with a message that said “yes we will host all your sites”), i haven’t gotten a reply from DH2 dot net yet, and i’m looking at others, but the whole thing is really depressing. as bfly says, “<southern drawl>that freedom yew want is gonna cost ya’, boah.</southern drawl>”

bellingham &C.

bellingham yesterday.

the banda gozona gig was cancelled, but i went through mount vernon anyway, to check up on a couple of places i used to live. the house on thillberg road has been completely replaced with a new, bigger house. from there i drove up through sedro woolley and then across to chuckanut, and then north on chuckanut to bellingham. i was alarmed to see how much development has gone on on the outskirts of mount vernon. the places that were big open fields full of cows and swans when i lived there are now seemingly endless tracts of identical, cheap-looking houses, with more on the way, almost all the way out to mud lake (which is now, ironically enough, called “clear” lake). there has also been a fair amount of development in sedro woolley. also, the building south of sedro woolley that had the “Talkie Tooter” sign that i always used to wonder about has a bright, new, spiffy sign that says Rothenbuhler Engineering, which is a lot less confusing… all thanks to internet (which didn’t exist when i actually lived in mount vernon).

Kamalla & low rider

so anyway, i got to bellingham about 1:00 and smoked a bowl or two with ken and kamalla, and then we went up to the college where they were having a low rider show in red square. when i wanted to have an event that involved driving on red square, the people in charge said that red square was “too unstable” to drive on, but the low rider show was a whole bunch of cars parked all around the fountain. i guess when i wanted to do it there were “political” reasons for preventing me from doing so, and that was the excuse they used. the low rider show was a bunch of people from various low rider clubs from seattle, although i did see one or two cars that said they were from bellingham, and a bunch of “cholos” (kamalla’s word for them) – hispanic/mexican culture folks – but hardly any actual WWU students, which i thought was rather unusual. there were also about half the cops in bellingham, apparently because they were worried that there might be some racially motivated violence from the large quantity of black and hispanic (read “not from around here”) people. of course there wasn’t any violence, and there were a bunch of dancers from mexico that were performing to a CD of the same music that i had originally thought i was going to perform in mount vernon.

then i went out to drive around and “reconnect” with the town that i lived in for 15 years before moving to seattle, getting married and having a brain injury. i was really surprised to discover that i remembered where things were that didn’t really make any difference (like Current Industries, one of the places i used to work), and that i remembered all of the secret ways to get various different places. i ran into darol, who was out on a bike ride towards lummi island. i saw this guy from behind who had stopped to pick up some litter by the side of the road and when i drove past him, i realised that it was darol, so i just pulled over to the side of the road and we chatted for half an hour or so. after that i drove around in the lummi reservation, past the lummi island ferry, and back through marietta.

then i went back to “the land” and went to a jam at kenyth’s. he was very surprised to see me, because nobody had told him that i was going to be there, and even more surprised when i said that i had an amp that i wanted to plug my long flute into, until he realised that it was me, who has the capability to play the trombone very quietly, playing into the amp. apparently he was worried that it was going to be some blasting noise that he was going to have to play with. silly kenyth… 8)

i got home around midnight. even despite the fact that the gig in mount vernon was cancelled, overall i would say that my visit to bellingham was a lot of fun and i had great time, and i am going to have to find an excuse to go visit again a lot sooner than i did the last time.

this morning i got verbal confirmation from the SSDI folks in baltimore that my claim for disability has been approved… finally… after 4 denials, three years of waiting, and – HELLO! I HAVE A HOLE IN MY SKULL! there’s no word on how much they’re going to give me yet, or when it’s going to start, but it’s a small step in the right direction.

a few miscellaneous items

the word “fire” is one syllable. not two syllables, not one and a half syllables (whatever that means), one syllable. people who use it as two syllables are simply stupid. it appears in my rhyming dictionary in the list of one-syllable words that includes ire, byre, dire, gyre, hire, lyre, mire, pyre, spire, quire, choir, squire, sire, shire, tire, Tyre, tyre and wire. also, my prosody dictionary (which is more concerned with form than it is with metrics) doesn’t have anything specific to the word “fire”, but what it does have (definitions of ictus, secondary accent, division, foot, iamb, trochee, dactyl, anapest, spondee, pyrrhic, amphibrach, tribrach and amphimacer) seems to indicate that if “ire” is recognisably one syllable, then “fire” is also, recognisably, only one syllable.

Alien Hand Syndrome is a video of a woman who is in recovery after having an AVM rupture, very similar to what happened to me. i am surprised by how similar her experiences are to mine, especially when she says “let go” and had to get her right hand to get her left hand to let go of the wires. this is exactly what i have experienced on a daily basis since my injury, although i have to get my left hand to get my right hand to stop doing stuff it’s not supposed to be doing.

bellingham tomorrow

the terrorism of spicy thai food

it just goes to support what the guy said about the likelihood of you being directly affected by a terrorist attack has not gone up or down since 9/11; the likelihood has always been extremely low. You and your friends are far more likely to die in bed, in a car wreck, of heart disease, or by falling down the stairs, than from a terrorist attack

Burning chilli sparks terror fear
A pot of burning chilli sparked fears of a biological terror attack in central London.

Firefighters wearing protective breathing apparatus were called to D’Arblay Street, Soho, after reports of noxious smoke filling the air.

Police closed off three roads and evacuated homes following the alert.

Specialist crews broke down the door to the Thai Cottage restaurant at 1900 BST on Monday where they discovered the source – a 9lb pot of chillies.

The restaurant had been preparing Nam Prik Pao, a red-hot Thai dip which uses extra-hot chillies which are deliberately burnt.

But the smell prompted several members of the public to call the emergency services.

Alpaslan Duven, a Turkish journalist based in the restaurant’s building, said: “I was sitting in the office when me and my chief start coughing and I said this was something really dodgy.

“I looked out of the window and saw people rushing and then we heard the sirens.”

Supranee Yodmuang, the restaurant supervisor, was above the restaurant when she received a phone call from her boss.

“It was about 4pm when I saw the police who were closing off the roads but I didn’t know why.

“My boss rang me and said I had to get out of the building because of a chemical attack.”

She added: “Because we’re Thai, we’re used to the smell of chillies.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The street was closed off for three hours while we were trying to discover the source of the odour.”

Nam Prik Pao recipe
Heat garlic and shallots in oil and remove to a bowl
Place red chillies in the pan with some oil and fry until they go dark in colour. Then set aside
Mix shrimp paste with the rest of the ingredients and pound in a mortar and pestle
Return the mixture to the heat until it becomes a thick dark coloured paste

David Bowie supports the Jena 6

Rocker Donates to Jena 6 Defense Fund
September 19, 2007

NEW ORLEANS — David Bowie has donated $10,000 to a legal defense fund for six black teens charged in an alleged attack on a white classmate in the tiny central Louisiana town of Jena.

The British rocker’s donation to the Jena Six Legal Defense Fund was announced by the NAACP as thousands of protesters were expected to march through Jena on Thursday in defense of Mychal Bell and five other teens. The group has become known as the Jena Six.

“There is clearly a separate and unequal judicial process going on in the town of Jena,” Bowie said Tuesday in an e-mail statement. “A donation to the Jena Six Legal Defense Fund is my small gesture indicating my belief that a wrongful charge and sentence should be prevented.” Continue reading David Bowie supports the Jena 6


In an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way,
in its own perfect time, for the highest good of all,
I intend $1,000,000 to come into my life
and into the lives of everyone who holds this intention.

$64.40 – today
$1066.24 – TOTAL


Reporter Arrested on Orders of Giuliani Press Secretary
Charged with Criminal Trespass Despite Protest of CNN Staff and Official Event Press Credentials at GOP Debate in New Hampshire
June 6, 2007
By Aaron Dykes & Alex Jones

Manchester, NH – Freelance reporter Matt Lepacek, reporting for, was arrested for asking a question to one of Giuliani’s staff members in a press conference. The press secretary identified the New York based reporter as having previously asked Giuliani about his prior knowledge of WTC building collapses and ordered New Hampshire state police to arrest him.

Jason Bermas, reporting for Infowars and America: Freedom to Fascism, confirmed Lepacek had official CNN press credentials for the Republican debate. However, his camera was seized by staff members who shut off the camera, according to Luke Rudkowski, also a freelance Infowars reporter on the scene. He said police physically assaulted both reporters after Rudkowski objected that they were official members of the press and that nothing illegal had taken place. Police reportedly damaged the Infowars-owned camera in the process.

Reporters were questioning Giuliani staff members on a variety of issues, including his apparent ignorance of the 9/11 Commission Report, according to Bermas. The staff members accused the reporters of Ron Paul partisanship, which press denied. It was at this point that Lepacek, who was streaming a live report, asked a staff member about Giuliani’s statement to Peter Jennings that he was told beforehand that the WTC buildings would collapse.

Giuliani’s press secretary then called over New Hampshire state police, fingering Lepacek.

Though CNN staff members tried to persuade police not to arrest the accredited reporter– in violation of the First Amendment, Lepacek was taken to jail. The police station told that Lepacek is being charged with felony criminal trespass.

Lepacek did receive one phone call in jail which he used to contact reporter Luke Rudkowski. According to Rudkowski, Lepacek was scared because he had been told he may be transferred to a secret detention facility because state police were also considering charges of espionage against him– due to a webcam Lepacek was using to broadcast live at the event. State police considered it to be a hidden camera, which led to discussion of “espionage.”

>Wearing a webcam at a press event is not an act of espionage. Alex Jones, who was watching the live feed, witnessed Lepacek announce that he was wearing a camera connected to a laptop that was transmitting the press conference live at approximately 9:20 EST. When Lepacek announced that he was broadcasting live, Giuliani staff members responded by getting upset at his questions and ordering his arrest.

Freedom to Fascism reporter Samuel Ettaro was also dragged out after asking a question on Giuliani’s ties with Cintra and Macquerie, two foreign contractors involved with the contentious Trans-Texas Corridor under development in Texas.

The entire incident took place in a large press auditorium, apart from the debate stages where authorized media were able to question candidates and their handlers.

Since when do campaign operatives have the power to order state police to arrest someone on false charges or arbitrate who has the right to conduct journalism, a right guarded by the Constitution?

A warning to the press– if candidates or police don’t like your questions, you could be arrested for trespassing and even espionage in the new Orwellian America.

The state police in Goffstown, New Hampshire, where the arrest was made, confirmed that Lepacek is in custody on charges of criminal trespass. Police said information on who filed the trespass complaint was not yet available and would be filed in the police report.

It is clear from talking to multiple eyewitness, as well as the live webcam, that there could not have been a complainant who originated police action, because it happened spontaneously. The police need to be very careful about violating the Bill of Rights and falsely charging someone with a felony crime. This constitutes extreme official oppression and is a total violation of the reporter’s civil rights. It would have been bad enough if the reporter would have just been thrown out, but to arrest him when he had a valid press pass and CNN protested his arrest is an outrage.

The arrest– which clearly violated the First Amendment– was recorded from two separate camera angles, including a live feed recorded remotely– so the episode is on record in the event that police destroy or lose tapes seized from Lepacek in attempt to obfuscate the facts of the incident.

If you doubt that police would assault reporters, seize video equipment and act on political orders, then consider the experience Alex Jones had when Texas state troopers arrested him for asking George W. Bush a question during a press conference while he was governor.

Suddenly, the Paranoids Don’t Seem So Paranoid Anymore
By Tony Long

Have you noticed? We’ve become a people that no longer respects, or apparently desires, privacy. Our own or anybody else’s.

That’s a remarkable thing, when you stop to think about it. We Americans, historically, have fiercely guarded our personal privacy. It’s one of our defining characteristics. Others, who live in societies where personal privacy isn’t so easily taken for granted, have looked on with a mixture of admiration and bemusement. “Mind your own business” is a singularly American expression.

But now we’ve allowed that birthright to be compromised, in a hundred little ways, and in a few conspicuously big ones, by an increasingly meddlesome government — not to mention opportunistic, predatory marketers — armed with the technology that gives them an easy entrée into our most secret places. Why is that, do you suppose? Have we surrendered to Big Brother because “you can’t fight city hall,” or have we been lied to, cajoled and softened up for so long by so much stupid television and the endless drumbeat of consumerism that we no longer care?

Do you think you’re surfing porn at home in complete anonymity? Do you think the government can’t retrieve every single scrap of personal information you own? Do you think The Gap doesn’t know that you’ve moved up to a 34 waist? We’ve been scanned, cookied and catalogued so thoroughly that there are agencies and companies out there who know more about us than we know about ourselves.

Now, thanks to Google, you can’t even expect your privacy to be respected in one of the most paradoxically private places around — the public street.

People who don’t live in big cities often cite the lack of privacy as one reason why they wouldn’t. Actually, the anonymity of living in a community of hundreds of thousands of people affords a lot more privacy than one might expect; certainly more than in of those cute little towns where everybody knows everybody else’s business.

Or at least it did, until Google came along with Street View.

Now the mere act of walking down a public street is liable to get you some unwanted publicity, especially if you’re captured doing something you’d rather not share with the world.

Google says Street View is intended to provide street-level tours of selected cities (currently San Francisco, New York, Denver, Miami and Vegas are so blessed; others are in the works). Why they feel such tours are necessary at all is another question. “Because it’s way cool” will probably suffice.

In an Associated Press story, Google spokeswoman Megan Quinn shrugs off any privacy concerns, saying: “This imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street.” I don’t know how often Ms. Quinn walks the mean streets of her town, but it’s not comparable at all. For one thing, the casual pedestrian isn’t staring at a computer screen with your image plastered all over it. And being spotted on the street by a single person, someone as anonymous as you are, is a far cry from being available to the prurient curiosity of millions of online peeping toms.

This is just incredibly vulgar.

But just to be safe, Google makes it clear that it’s on firm legal footing; that you have no legal guarantee to privacy on a public street. So if you turn up on Street View as you’re ducking into the local porn emporium, that’s your tough luck. Maybe it is legal. Probably it is. So what? Being legal doesn’t mean being right.

Let’s call a spade a spade here, lay all our cards on the table and use all the clichés necessary to make one thing perfectly clear: Google is invading your privacy for the same reason (and only reason) it does anything. It smells a chance to make money and it’s going to make money, and to hell with you and your privacy. Do no evil? Balls.

Greed, unfortunately, is another American characteristic. One that will eventually destroy us.

also:Irrepressable dot info and Al-Quds Al-Arabi if you can read it…


once again, thanks to my awesome web stats, i learned that i had a recent visitor named (his IP address) who is located here, in al qahirah, egypt… which is southeast of mashful and zagazig

and another recent visitor named who is located here, in skedsmo, norway, which, apparently, is a suburb of oslo.

and another recent visitor named who is from here, in an un-named city in saudi arabia (jiddah?)…

and another recent visitor named from london

and another recent visitor named from slidell, louisiana… cool! 8)

and someone named from israel trying, unsuccessfully, to access a hotlinked graphic from psyreactor dot com… 8/

internet is good for all kinds of things that you probably don’t know about… 8)


lilypond is REALLY cool…

i have finished all the parts except the tuba/sousaphone (tomorrow) and the keyboard/guitar (i’m still not quite sure how i’m going to do them… yet…), and i’ve put together a score and i’ve put together a midi file of the music, so that i can listen to it and find out where wrong notes are and fix them before it goes to the entire band… and that’s just in two days!

jumpity skipity yahoo! 8D

thanks !


i was driving home this afternoon (i had an interesting meeting with to help me learn how to do things with lilypond that i didn’t know how to do) – and i had gotten to just north of the I5-I405 interchange at tukwilla when i noticed a car driving on my left side, exactly even with me and the driver, a man who was probably 45 or 50, with a toupée that was extremely obvious (most of his real hair was on the grey side of black, but the toupée was brown) signalling me to roll down my window.

now i was in the exit lane (there was a large traffic jam ahead and i figured that it would be a good time to find a different route), and he was not, but we were not moving at freeway speeds by any stretch of the imagination, so i rolled down my window and he shouted something that i presumed was something along the lines of “what does your car say?” – which is the only reason anybody says anything to me while i’m driving – so i said that it was “the names of ganesha” – because i was driving and had to keep my eyes on the road, and besides, i had enough problems hearing him that i figured he would not be able to hear much more than that anyway. he responded with something along the lines of “who’s that?”, to which i replied “the Hindu God of Removing Obstacles”. he responded “a Hindu God?” to which i replied “yes!”

and here’s the part that makes me really wonder why he even bothered at all. his reply to my statement that it was a Hindu God was to say “it sounds like a demon to me”. by this time, i had reached my exit, so i just said “whatever” and headed on down the exit ramp…


if it really sounds like a demon to him, does he think that telling me will cause me suddenly to change my mind and completely repaint my car? sure, it’s interesting artwork, but if he really thinks it is a demon, then why did he risk his life and mine trying to have a “conversation” about it, while driving down the freeway? does he think that his telling me that it is a demon will make any impression on me? i mean, it’s not as though i decided one day to put some mysterious looking writing on my car, without regard to what its meaning is? and it’s not as though i just slapped it on my car any old how… it is actually something that took a fair amount of time and skill. and it’s something that i have actually put on my web site, and painted the URI on my car, so that i don’t have to have long, involved conversations with people who aren’t in my car while i’m driving, so it’s obviously something that i’ve thought about a good deal, not just some whim that i decided to act on one day…



Homeland Security could face transition problem
June 1, 2007
By Shane Harris

On November 2, 2004, top officials from the Homeland Security Department held a small Election Night party at a Washington restaurant to watch the presidential election returns come in on television. Nearly every leader there owed his job to the man then fighting for his own job — George W. Bush.

The department was almost two years old and run almost entirely by political appointees. Twenty-three months earlier, they had been tapped to lash together 22 disparate, frequently dysfunctional agencies, some of whose failures to safeguard domestic security contributed to the 9/11 attacks.

As the returns trickled in, there was an hour or so when it appeared that Bush’s Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, might overtake him in the electoral vote count. Rather suddenly, some partygoers recalled, it dawned on them that they might be out of a job.

As they looked around the room, they realized they hadn’t fully considered who would replace them. Who, they wondered, would keep the department running while President-elect Kerry picked a new leadership team? What career officials, whose posts are designed to outlast any one administration, would step in to ensure that planes flew safely, that borders were patrolled, that the government could respond swiftly to a natural disaster? No one could say for sure, because DHS had no plan.

“All the politicals thought we were out,” says Stewart Verdery, then the department’s assistant secretary for policy and planning for border and transportation security. Verdery was an energetic and experienced Capitol Hill staffer who had come to Homeland Security after a stint as senior legislative adviser to Vivendi Universal, the media conglomerate. But DHS was uncharted territory. “There was a definite sense that the transition was going to be rocky,” he recalls.

The department’s top echelons, of course, never had to experience what horrors a clunky handover of power could bring. But whether those leaders knew it or not, they possibly had just averted more than a management disaster.

The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the attacks of September 11, 2001, both occurred within eight months of a change in presidential administrations. (At the time of the first attack, Bill Clinton had been president exactly 37 days.) In March 2004, Qaeda-linked terrorists bombed four Madrid commuter trains three days before Spain’s national elections. Periods of political transition are, by their very nature, chaotic; terrorists know this, and they exploit it. This is the reality: Terrorists strike when they believe governments will be caught off guard.

As of June 2, there are 597 days until the next presidential inauguration, on January 20, 2009. As the Bush administration’s days wind down, the government’s level of vulnerability — and the nation’s risk level — increase, and they will stay high until the next president gets on his or her feet. This is true in any transition. “The first year and a half of a new administration is really the most vulnerable in terms of political leadership,” says Paul Light, a professor at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.

Be Prepared
January 2009 has current and former officials particularly worried, because it marks the first time since 9/11 that the reins of national and domestic security will be handed off to a completely new team. At the Pentagon, this changeover doesn’t matter as much. It has an entire joint staff of senior military officers who oversee worldwide operations, as well as regional military commands whose senior leadership stays in place. The Homeland Security Department, however, is another story. It is still run almost entirely by political appointees and stands to be the most weakened during the transition.

“Any of the other main Cabinet departments have civil servants that step in” as acting officials during a transition, says Stephen Flynn, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a leading expert on the department and its history. “Homeland Security doesn’t have any of those…. And that’s extremely unusual.”

In the four and a half years since the department opened for business, few career officials have been promoted into positions of senior or even middle management. As a result, most of the responsibility for running the department, and its plethora of critical missions, is still in the hands of people who will be walking out the door as the Bush administration wanes or leaves en masse after the election. “The department virtually has no backbench,” Flynn says.

The upheaval that strikes all organizations during presidential transitions will be magnified at Homeland Security, which has the third-largest workforce of any Cabinet department. And because the department’s primary mission is to prepare for and respond to catastrophes, the magnitude of a terrorist attack or natural disaster during the transition could be compounded.

“The attack, when it happens, will be far more consequential,” Flynn says. Light echoes that sentiment, and alludes to the department’s most notorious disaster response. “The odds of a repeat of [Hurricane] Katrina are higher.”

Former officials and experts are alarmed that so few Bush administration officials or lawmakers of either party have fully grasped this, and they worry that come Inauguration Day, national security could suffer.

“My fear is that on January 20, where does that transition team go to triage, quickly, the first 10 decisions they need to make?” asks Randy Beardsworth, who left the department in September 2006 as the assistant secretary for strategic plans. “There’s not going to be a senior official with broad experience to answer that unless the transition team gets a couple of key folks to stay on a while.”

When he departed DHS, Beardsworth was one of the last remaining senior officials who had helped the department stand up. And at the time of the 2004 election, he was one of the few career civil servants — and the most senior one — in a leadership post, and thus one of the few senior leaders who would have stayed on without having to be asked.

What people like Beardsworth — career, nonpartisan security experts — fear now is that another storm is heading the department’s way. It makes landfall in 597 days, and the consequences could be severe. Hurricane Katrina was tracked on radar for several days before it struck; federal officials did make some preparations, but obviously they were inadequate. Will the department be ready for this next season of vulnerability? Some officials and homeland-security experts say that the Bush administration — and even the presidential candidates — should take action now to avoid a crisis.

Political by Design
The predicament in which the department now finds itself is almost entirely of its own and the White House’s making. President Bush, who initially opposed creating a different domestic security bureaucracy after 9/11, ultimately assented amid mounting evidence about what clues the administration missed in the run-up to the attacks. Indeed, the White House changed its stance at the same time that Congress held hearings into pre-9/11 intelligence failures, in the summer of 2002. Before the year was out, Bush signed legislation to establish the department, which opened officially in January 2003.

From its inception, Homeland Security was run by political appointees or by other officials on loan to headquarters from the various agencies the department had absorbed. There wasn’t a lot of time to post job notices and staff the ranks with career employees, who take much longer to hire, former officials say.

DHS had to be fully operational on day one. So, the White House and then-Secretary Tom Ridge largely handpicked their leadership team from the ranks of Bush loyalists. Before the 2004 election, Ridge’s deputy secretary, his chief of staff, and almost all of his assistant and undersecretaries and their deputies were political appointees, people who by design would not stay long.

Former officials and experts recognize that haste dictated those early decisions. The problem, they say, is that the trend toward political appointees never subsided.

According to figures compiled in the quadrennial Plum Book by the Office of Personnel Management, as of September 2004 the 180,000-employee Homeland Security Department had more than 360 politically appointed, noncareer positions.

By contrast, the Veterans Affairs Department — the government’s second-largest department, at 235,000 employees — had only 64. And the Defense Department — far and away the largest department in the government, at 2.1 million employees, including military and civilian — counted 283 appointed, noncareer billets. That figure includes political appointees at the Army, Navy, and Air Force. DHS’s own reports show that since 2004, it has often added more political positions to its ranks, and more frequently, than other large departments.

It’s common in government to find political appointees concentrated in policy shops, public-affairs offices, and legislative liaison posts. But that has never been the case at Homeland Security, where appointees run the first- and second-tier layers across almost all of the department’s units.

“Early on, there was a sense that the administration wanted mostly political people,” Beardsworth says. “They were very much concerned about loyalty and shaping the department where they wanted it to go.” He says he always believed that his boss, Asa Hutchinson, the first undersecretary for border and transportation security, as well as Ridge “had the good of the country at heart…. I never had the feeling that we were making partisan decisions.”

But after the 2004 election, when Bush announced that he “earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it,” things changed. Under the new DHS secretary, Michael Chertoff, former officials say that the tone and tenor of political appointments took a turn. Personal connections and political fealty became litmus tests, these ex-officials say. Faithfully shepherding administration policy was to be expected, but the department’s leaders seemed more beholden to individuals with close ties to the White House.

In September 2005, for instance, the administration sought to install Julie Myers, a 36-year-old lawyer with little management experience, as the assistant secretary in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division. ICE was poorly run and a constant problem for the department, and during her nomination hearing, Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, told Myers she was unqualified to helm the unwieldy agency.

For many critics, Myers’s strong political connections explained her swift rise to power. She is the niece of Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She is married to John Wood, who was Chertoff’s chief of staff and an ex-aide to Attorney General John Ashcroft. (Wood is now the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.) Despite Julie Myers’s lack of experience, President Bush gave her a recess appointment to the job.

The Land of Misfit Toys
Charges of nepotism, cronyism, and incompetence continued to dog Homeland Security’s senior ranks, particularly after the fumbled response to Hurricane Katrina, which was initially directed by an official with meager experience in disaster response — Michael Brown. Nominees who would normally have slid into their jobs with little notice were now held up to scrutiny and sometimes ridicule. Take the case of Andrew Maner, a former staffer to President George H.W. Bush, who became the department’s chief financial officer. Responsible for a multibillion-dollar budget, Maner couldn’t point to any obvious credentials in accounting and finance on his resume.

And then there was Douglas Hoelscher. The former White House staffer and Republican campaign aide was 28 years old when he became executive director of the Homeland Security Advisory Committee last year. The policy group gathers advice on such critical issues as protecting infrastructure and countering weapons of mass destruction.

Hoelscher had no management experience, but had apparently proven himself as a Bush campaign staffer. At the time of his appointment, he was the department’s liaison to the White House, where, in the words of a Homeland Security spokeswoman, he “made sure [that political appointees] were all placed in the office where they were happiest and … fit best.”

Most recently, Philip Perry, the department’s now ex-general counsel, stirred critics’ ire. Perry is Vice President Cheney’s son-in-law. In February, David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States and Congress’s chief watchdog, told House overseers that his office faced “systemic” and “persistent” problems trying to obtain DHS documents because it had to go through Perry. Walker complained that Perry’s office reviewed documents before their release, and that his staff sat in on investigative interviews with Homeland Security employees.

Of all the departments in the government, Homeland Security has the most notorious reputation for placing political appointees in jobs over their heads. In fact, even before the bungled response to Katrina, critics warned that the department could be come a haven for patronage if officials didn’t work hard to beef up DHS’s career ranks.

Indeed, Homeland Security has earned a reputation as a political dumping ground, a sort of Land of Misfit Toys, where GOP fundraisers or apparatchiks are sent to pad their resumes or to cool their heels. There is more than a little truth to this — the department does have a lot of political appointees whose main strength seems to be loyalty to Bush and connections to the White House. But former officials and observers say that the department has many well-intentioned and hardworking political employees, including in the senior ranks.

Nevertheless, the stain of incompetence and cronyism hasn’t faded, nor has the reality that Homeland Security is something of a revolving door. According to Flynn, of the 60 top officials at the department, only one has been there since 2003 when Homeland Security opened its doors.

“This is essentially the most challenging merger and acquisition in government history, and it’s being managed with this turnover in people,” Flynn says. His fear, shared by other experts, is that the limited institutional memory of the Ridge years was lost under Chertoff, and that that memory will be lost again when a new administration takes over.

The department’s leaders have virtually no playbook for transition, something other departments and agencies of that size literally pull off the shelf every four or eight years. “They’re almost starting from scratch,” Flynn says.

The Exit Strategy
If the department is to weather the storm of transition, it will largely depend on the efforts of one man — Michael Jackson, Homeland Security’s deputy secretary.

“If a day goes by and I don’t use up some of my brain cells focusing on this problem, it’s a very unusual day,” he says. The administration has a set of policy goals it wants to achieve before the transition. But underpinning that, Jackson says, is a plan to leave the department stronger than it is now, “so that people [will] start a new administration with the sense that the department has reached a level of maturity.” The possibility of a major attack before or soon after the transition factors into his planning.

Jackson says he is drawing up succession plans for “every operational component”: the Secret Service, the Immigrations and Customs division, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and others, as well as the top layers of management. The basic idea is to find talented career, nonpolitical employees who can move up into more-senior ranks, and then serve in an acting capacity when the administration changes hands. (It will be the next president’s prerogative to keep or dismiss those officials.)

“We’ve gone throughout the entire organization and looked for people like this to promote,” Jackson says. “We’re trying to nurture a cadre of owners. I am the part-time help at DHS.”

Jackson acknowledges that it hasn’t been easy to keep good help. “We’ve had a significant turnover,” he says. “And that turnover has been below the top-level jobs as well.” But, he insists, preparations for the transition are well under way. “I would say we are well beyond the halfway point in what we have to get done.”

Certain agencies within DHS ought to fare better than others. The Coast Guard, for instance, has an entrenched military culture, so command will shift more smoothly. The Secret Service, although now headed by a presidential appointee, will still likely draw from within its own ranks in the next administration. And in the intelligence directorate, officials have implemented a slew of training programs to cultivate junior officers for more-senior posts.

But it’s the headquarters operation, not the front-line agencies, that has observers most worried. The constant turnover and reliance on political appointees has effectively stunted the growth of a management class.

There are notable exceptions. The current commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Ralph Basham, and FEMA Director David Paulsion have spent most of their careers in government and have held other senior positions in the department.

But across the top layers of Homeland Security, critics say, the department is still far more reliant on political appointees than other large departments. And this state of affairs causes some national security experts to pose a challenge to the field of 2008 presidential hopefuls: Commit now that if you win the election, you will keep the top leaders at Homeland Security, and across the intelligence agencies, perhaps indefinitely.

Permanence in Transition
It might seem anathema that, say, a President Hillary Rodham Clinton would ask Michael Chertoff or any of his lieutenants to serve in her administration. It might seem even less likely that any candidate of either party, given how forcefully they’ll try to distance themselves from the security policies of the Bush administration, would throw out an open invitation for the architects of those policies to hang around. But that might just be the soundest move in the interests of national security.

“It’s possible,” Jackson says. For example, even if Chertoff left, his replacement could ask the director of FEMA or his deputy to stay. “That would be one thing I’m prepared to advise,” Jackson says. And there is precedent for such a move.

Michael Hayden, now the director of the CIA, served under two presidents — Clinton and the second Bush — as National Security Agency director. Ex-CIA Director George Tenet also held on to his job in that transition. True, Tenet lobbied to stay, and the CIA director’s success has always depended on a personal rapport with the president. (Tenet and Bush got along from the start.) But Hayden and Tenet proved that professionals can overcome politics, at least during a transition.

Members of Congress have considered awarding top intelligence and security jobs political immunity. In the mid-1990s, House Republicans contemplated making the CIA director the head of the agency — rather than an overall intelligence czar as the director was then — and giving the position some statutory longevity. The idea was to make the job more like the FBI director’s post, which doesn’t automatically turn over on Election Day, says Tim Sample, who was the staff director of the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee at the time.

“The only reason we did not take that step in our recommendations was the issue of the personal rapport with the president,” says Sample, who is now president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, a nonprofit intelligence advocacy group. Lawmakers understood that the president and the CIA director had a unique relationship, one they thought should be preserved. But they still believed that, fundamentally, the job should be above politics, and Sample says this is truer than ever today.

This idea is gaining traction again in security circles, especially in the intelligence community, where many current and former officials think that the recent appointments of several seasoned experts to top slots has resulted in a “Dream Team.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates is a former CIA director; career intelligence officer James Clapper is Gates’s military spy chief; former National Security Agency Director Mike McConnell is now director of national intelligence; and Hayden, the ex-NSA chief, is running the CIA.

Former officials and experts recoil at the idea of losing such a deeply experienced, collegial, and by all accounts remarkably apolitical team of leaders at such a critical moment for national security. They want lawmakers and the presidential candidates to consider keeping those officials in their posts.

The same goes for Homeland Security. “The only reason there are all those [political] positions is just because of the way the department came together,” Sample says. “One could argue those should not be political positions.”

There’s precedent for that, too. Before the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was established in April 2005, career assistant directors managed the intelligence agencies, and were charged with overseeing various programs and policies that stretched across administrations. On a practical level, the agencies needed that continuity, but officials also wanted to avoid politicizing intelligence, Sample says. It has always been a difficult goal, inconsistently achieved, but it’s one that all presidents are encouraged to aim for.

Some experts have suggested that Congress cap the number of politically appointed senior posts at Homeland Security as a way of stanching future brain drains. Sens. Voinovich and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, have proposed legislation to elevate the undersecretary for management to the third-ranking spot in the department. The bill would require a career employee to also serve in a five-year term as the secretary’s “principal adviser” on management issues.

Jackson, the deputy secretary, strongly opposes the bill, saying it is unnecessary. He insists that the current leaders understand the problems Voinovich and others have expressed. “This is stuff we all talk about,” he says. “The team gets it.

“I won’t blow smoke at you and say everything is nailed down and perfectly fixed,” Jackson continues. “The day that someone in my department tells you that about DHS is the day that person should get out of his job…. But [the transition plan] is not something I feel anxiety about.”

Opportunity Lost
Those who know Jackson and have worked with him say he has never been one to put partisanship over security, and that he is not biased against career employees. But some have accused him of micromanaging the department and not handing over enough authority earlier to career officials. These failures, they say, have retarded the department’s maturation process. For his part, Jackson says he’s focused on the transition, and has drilled the urgency into all of his lieutenants.

In government, organizations mature by finding the right balance of politically motivated leaders and apolitical bureaucrats. The former have the ability, and the credibility, to make policy, and the latter actually know how to make it work. This is the tension that, sooner or later, leads to equilibrium.

Beardsworth, the former assistant secretary, has always adhered to that philosophy. He’s now a vice president at Analytic Services, a nonprofit research group that advises security and intelligence agencies. Its Homeland Security Institute, a federally funded research and development center established in the same law that created DHS, is counseling senior officials on transition strategies. Knowing the department lacks a playbook, Beardsworth hopes the institute has enough experts to help ease the transition, and he praises Jackson for taking action now.

But like Jackson, Beardsworth isn’t blowing any smoke. “Does the department have the right political and career mix to ensure a smooth transition?” he asks, sounding like a frustrated yet hopeful parent. “No. They’ve likely missed that opportunity.”

heh heh heh… }8>)

another spam call counteracted thanks to the counterscript

spammer: could i speak to <dramatically mispronounced approximation of my name>

me: who wants to know?

spammer: this is stacy wilson with (some market research company)…

me: and how did you get this number?

spammer: it was provided to us by washington mutual

(i’ll have to speak with them about that… 8/ )

me: is this your full time job?

spammer: yes…

me and do you also live in washington?

spammer: no, i’m calling from chicago. i’m with (some market research company)…

me: and how long have you been in the telemarketing business?

spammer: i’m not a telemarketer…

me: you are cold-calling people and asking them personal questions, and in that sense, you are the same as a person who is a telemarketer. how long have you been in that business?

spammer: but i’m not a telemarketer… i’ve been doing this for 3 years…

me: that’s quite long, and do you like your job?

spammer: sometimes…

me: i can see that. and how much do you earn?

spammer: that is confidential…

me: okay, do you get time off to go to the dentist?

spammer: (brightening) yes.

me: and it important to have good teeth for your position?

spammer: (confused) yes…

me: is there a specific toothpaste that you would recommend?

spammer: i would guess that it’s whatever a person wants…

me: thank you for your information. is there a phone number i could reach you at if i need any further information?

spammer: um, that’s confidential… we’re calling over internet and there isn’t a number that you can call the business, and my personal phone number is confidential.

me: thank you, and have a pleasant day. <CLICK!>


The Bush take on U.S. opinion
May 28, 2007

Confronted with strong opposition to his Iraq policies, President Bush decides to interpret public opinion his own way. Actually, he says, people agree with him.

Democrats view the November elections that gave them control of Congress as a mandate to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. They’re backed by evidence; election exit poll surveys by The Associated Press and television networks found 55 percent saying the U.S. should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq.

The president says Democrats have it all wrong: the public doesn’t want the troops pulled out — they want to give the military more support in its mission.

“Last November, the American people said they were frustrated and wanted a change in our strategy in Iraq,” he said April 24, ahead of a veto showdown with congressional Democrats over their desire to legislation a troop withdrawal timeline. “I listened. Today, General David Petraeus is carrying out a strategy that is dramatically different from our previous course.”

Increasingly isolated on a war that is going badly, Bush has presented his alternative reality in other ways, too. He expresses understanding for the public’s dismay over the unrelenting sectarian violence and American losses that have passed 3,400, but then asserts that the public’s solution matches his.

“A lot of Americans want to know, you know, when?” he said at a Rose Garden news conference Thursday. “When are you going to win?”

Also in that session, Bush said: “I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say, `Get out, you know, it’s just not worth it. Let’s just leave.’ I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well.”

In fact, polls show Americans do not disagree, and that leaving — not winning — is their main goal.

In one released Friday by CBS and the New York Times, 63 percent supported a troop withdrawal timetable of sometime next year. Another earlier this month from USA Today and Gallup found 59 percent backing a withdrawal deadline that the U.S. should stick to no matter what’s happening in Iraq.

Bush aides say poll questions are asked so many ways, and often so imprecisely, that it is impossible to conclude that most Americans really want to get out. Failure, Bush says, is not what the public wants — they just don’t fully understand that that is just what they will get if troops are pulled out before the Iraqi government is capable of keeping the country stable on its own.

Seeking to turn up the heat on this argument, Bush has relied lately on an al-Qaida mantra. Terrorists remain dangerous, and fighting them in Iraq is key to neutralizing the threat, he says. “It’s hard for some Americans to see that, I fully understand it,” Bush said. “I see it clearly.”

Independent pollster Andrew Kohut said of the White House view: “I don’t see what they’re talking about.”

“They want to know when American troops are going to leave,” Kohut, director of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, said of the public. “They certainly want to win. But their hopes have been dashed.”

Kohut has found it notable that there’s such a consensus in poll findings.

“When the public hasn’t made up its mind or hasn’t thought about things, there’s a lot of variation in the polls,” he said. “But there’s a fair amount of agreement now.”

The president didn’t used to try to co-opt polling for his benefit. He just said he ignored it.

In Ohio in mid-April, for instance, Bush was asked how he feels about his often dismal showings. “Polls just go poof at times,” he replied.

It was the same the next day in Michigan. “If you make decisions based upon the latest opinion poll, you won’t be thinking long-term strategy on behalf of the American people,” the president said.

After weeks of negotiations between the White House and Capitol Hill’s majority Democrats, last week ended with things going Bush’s way. Congress passed and he signed a war spending bill that was stripped of any requirement that the war end.

But the debate is far from over.

The measure funds the war only through Sept. 30 — around the time that military commanders are scheduled to report to Bush and Congress on whether the troop increase the president ordered in January is quelling the violence as hoped. Even Republicans have told Bush that a major reckoning is coming in September, and that they will be hard-pressed to continue to stand behind him if things don’t look markedly better. Also due that month is an independent assessment of the Iraqi government’s progress on measures aimed at lessening sectarian tensions that are fueling the violence.

Between now and then, Democrats don’t intend to stay quiet. They plan a series of votes on whether U.S. troops should stay in Iraq and whether the president has the authority to continue the war.

Bush isn’t likely to stay quiet, either.

Wayne Fields, an expert on presidential rhetoric at Washington University in St. Louis, said the president’s new language exploits the fact that there is no one alternative strategy for the public to coalesce around, which clearly spells out how to bring troops home. Bush can argue that people agree with him because no one can define the alternative, Fields said.

But, with the president’s job approval ratings so low and the public well aware of what it thinks about the war, Bush is taking a big gamble.

“This is a very tricky thing in our politics. We want to think that we want our leaders to stand up to public opinion. But we also like to think of ourselves as being in a democracy where we are listened to,” Fields said. “He risks either the notion of being thought out of touch … or to be thought simply duplicitous.”

NOW can we impeach him?

of course, impeachment won’t actually solve the problem… they impeached clinton and he stayed in office. what’s to prevent the same thing from happening if we impeach bush?

it’s getting so that, even with my consciously ignoring news sources, enough news leaks through anyway, and what i hear has been causing me to worry even more than i do ordinarily. other-than-christians and other-than-heterosexuals violently discriminated against at home and abroad, political mayhem wherever i look… even the strikethrough, subsequent exposure of the dominionist christian terrorists, and LJ/6A “back-pedaling” has sinister overtones. i have to keep remembering something that i learned when i was first entering the seminary: “things are going to get worse before they get better. things are going to become more and more polarised, and you will be forced to adopt one side or the other in order to survive. but not long after that, the saviour will come and ‘straighten everything out’.” i was always lead to believe that it meant an internal polarisation and an internal saviour, but it may be that the microcosm and the macrocosm are reflections of each other…


yesterday was the official fremont bridge re-opening (it has been partially closed for about a year or so due to construction and seismic refits), and the fremont philharmonic’s presence was requested by… i don’t know, fremont apparently doesn’t have a “mayor” (although why is beyond me), but it was somebody or some group of people who had authority to request our presence at the festivities. it was two shows in two states in two days for me, and i was glad when it was all over, but it was fun and everything went more or less according to plan.

jeremy is back from the berklee school for the summer and is planning on going to OCF with us this year, so now i have to put back into Troll March, the baritone part that i arranged out not more than two weeks ago, but it’s all good. the ultimate reality is that jeremy will be playing with us again. of all the people that have played with the phil in the years that i’ve played with them, i think jeremy is one of my favourites, although i can’t exactly tell you why. the plan, such as it is at this point, is to meet with stuart some time early this week to work out some details with lilypond that will hopefully make all this re-arranging of parts a lot easier.

also stuart sent me a MIDI file of amy bob playing the keyboards that he wants me to arrange for the band. how about that? a “famous recording artist” wrote a piece of music for a group that i play in, and i’m the one that is chosen to arrange it. that’s pretty close to being a fulfillment of a dream that i’ve had ever since i was 10 years old. 8)


quoting :

“Material which can be interpreted as expressing interest in, soliciting, or encouraging illegal activity places LiveJournal at considerable legal risk. When journals that contain such material are reported to us, we must suspend them. Because LiveJournal’s interests list serves as a search function, and because listing an interest enables other people also interested in a similar topic to gather and/or congregate, we have been advised that listing an interest in an illegal activity must be viewed as using LiveJournal to solicit that illegal activity.”

does that mean that listing anything having to do with marijuana puts your journal at risk, or am i just being paranoid?


The Political Economy of the War on Drugs

An early twentieth century writer by the name of Randolph Bourne remarked that “War is the health of the state”. The American founders recognized that government has a tendency to grow and expand over time. Nothing does as much to speed up the growth rate of as war. Throughout American history the greatest expansions of government have occurred during war times. The American Civil War of 1861-1865 consolidated the power of the federal regime over the previously sovereign states. The entry of the United States into the First World War took place at the same time as the enactment of the federal income tax, the implementation of alcohol prohibition, the creation of the FBI and other drastic expansions of federal power. The advent of the Second World War consolidated the welfare state of the New Deal, the cartelization of industry and labor under Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration (modeled after Italian fascism), the subordination of the domestic economy under war production, the interment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps and many other ills. The Cold War era brought about the permanent entrenchment of the military-industrial complex, the creation of the CIA in 1947, permanent peacetime conscription (not ended until 1971), the creation of the United Nations and a foreign policy of world wide military interventionism. The war in Vietnam took place along side the advent of the Great Society expansion of the welfare state, the elimination of the gold standard in monetary policy and the COINTELPRO program of repression against domestic dissidents. The acceleration of the arms race during the 1980s coincided with the quadrupling of the national debt. The evidence is overwhelming that war is indeed a great boon to the state. War provides the state with opportunities to raise taxes, eradicate civil liberties, consolidate central power, subsidize elite economic interests, acquire new territory, expand the power of officials, rally the public behind the state and many other benefits.

Historically, states seeking to increase their power have frequently looked for excuses to go to war or hold up the threat of war. The decaying Roman Empire sought the support of its citizens by proclaiming its desire to save them from an alleged threat of invasion by the Germanic tribes of the north. “The barbarians are at the gates” became their rallying cry. States can also claim to be saving society from some ominous threat by waging a war on an alleged “enemy within”, that is, some group within the society that is villified by officials and attacked as a grave danger to “ordinary” citizens. This is what the Nazis did with the Jews, of course. The Nazi German regime denounced Jews as carriers of disease, criminals, purveyors of perversions and decadence, unpatriotic, responsible for the spread of communism, engaging in unscrupulous and ruinous banking and business practices and many other things. The Nazi regime demanded and obtained extraordinary powers in order to combat the alleged Jewish menace. The American regime of today is pursuing an path identitical to that followed by Germany during the 1930s. However, the “enemy within” that is under attack is not the Jewish people but the users and sellers of those particular psychoactive substances commonly referred to as “drugs”.

What is a drug? What is a “drug user”? What is a “drug dealer”? How are these objects/persons portrayed in the rhetoric of government officials and in the media? How consistent is this portrayal with actual fact? A “drug” is simply a psychoactive substance legally prohibited by the state such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, MDMA (“ecstasy”) or LSD. Using this terminological criteria, other psycho- active, addictive and potentially deadly substances such as alcohol, tobacco and valium are not considered “drugs”. However, medical research shows that tobacco (nicotine) is at least as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Four hundred thousand people die from tobacco use annually in the United States. The addictive intoxicant alcohol is the strongest of any psychoactive substance and indeed is the only one from which withdrawal is potentially fatal. On the other hand, there has never been a documented case of death from marijuana use alone. Also, numerous studies have shown that marijuana use does not severely impair driving while alcohol abuse is responsible for many, many traffic fatalities.

Drug users are typically depicted as thieves, criminals, negligent parents, derilects, degenerates, disruptive neighbors and chronically unemployed bums. Former “first lady” Nancy Reagan even claimed that drug users are accomplices to murder. Former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates once remarked that casual marijuana smokers should be executed for treason and stated later on that he wasn’t being facetious. However, included in the ranks of drug users are many high school and college students, blue-collar workers, businesspeople, housewives, lawyers, physicians, athletes, entertainers, judges and, of course, politicians. Are all of these people predatory criminals, accomplices to murder and seditious traitors to their country? William F. Buckley has noted that reliable estimates indicate that as many as half of the soldiers fighting in Vietnam were using drugs such as heroin, opium, hashish or marijuana at the time. Were all these folks who were risking their lives in the name of their country criminals and subversives? What is a “drug dealer”? Simply put, a drug dealer is a person who sells a drug to another person who desires to purchase it just as a grocer is a “food dealer” or a bartender is a “liquor dealer” or a tobacco farmer is a “nicotine dealer”. “Drug dealers” are often portrayed as predators preying on the “misery” of their customers. But the vast array of breweries, distilleries, liquor stores, convenience stores, bars, nightclubs, dance halls, restaurants, fraternities and countless other enterprenuers and establishments are not denounced for preying upon the “misery” of alcoholics and problem drinkers. Grocers are not blamed for the woes of anorectics, bulimics and obese persons. Interestingly, when “drug dealers” are prosecuted they are attacked for preying upon and allegedly victimizing drug users. However, when drug users are prosecuted they are denounced for creating the market for drug dealers and perpetrating the illicit drug trade. Hence, the drug user becomes the victim and the criminal simultaneously.

Of course, most people who use drugs are not drug addicts in the clinical sense just as most people who drink are not alcoholics. Even most addicts are not derilects just as most alcoholics are not skid row bums. In fact, most people are drug users of some sort. Rare is the person who completely abstains from alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, valium, prozac, ritalin, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, hallucinogens and other psychoactives all at once. The differentiation between legal and illegal drugs is cultural and historical rather than medical, scientific or ethical. The same is true of the differentiation between illegal drug use and other potentially risky but legal activities such as skiing, skydiving, automobile racing, boxing, football, rockclimbing, bungee-jumping, overeating, motorcycling and cayaking.

Why are some drugs illegal while others are not? The earliest American drug laws begin with attempts to prohibit opium smoking in the nineteenth century. At the time, America was experiencing a wave of Chinese immigration. Opium was their drug of choice. Powerful labor unions such as the American Federation of Labor feared competition from Chinese laborers who were quite hardworking and generally willing to work for lower wages. Labor leaders villified the Chinese as opium-crazed fiends who preyed sexually upon young white girls. Similarly, blacks and Mexicans used marijuana because it could be grown locally and was cheaper than alcohol so marijuana became a target as well. The United States was really the first nation to enact modern drug prohibition and began to use its growing international power to pressure other nations in the same direction. The first federal drug laws began with the passage of the Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914. Not coincidentally, the federal income tax had begun the year before. Drug prohibition has continued in the United States since that time with varying degrees of intensity. Following the repeal of alcohol prohibition in 1933, the Bureau of Prohibition, set up to enforce alcohol prohibition, began to target marijuana instead. The Bureau of Prohibition is now called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). Drug enforcement also intensified in the early 1970s. President Nixon realized that substantial political mileage could be gained from the scapegoating of drug users even though his own commission on drug policy recommended the decriminalization of marijuana use. It was the era of the Vietnam-related culture wars and marijuana users were portrayed as dirty, anti-American hippies and communist sympathizers. However, the current version of the drug war, the most intense in American history, began in the 1980s. Like Nixon before them, officials in the Reagan administration understood that a lot of political mileage could be gained from whipping up hysteria against drug users among more “conservative” sectors of the population. As the Cold War began to wind down in the late 1980s, the American government needed a new enemy that it could claim to be protecting the people from and “drugs” provided an easy and obvious target. Public concern regarding drug abuse had been rising because of the advent of the new and highly addictive drug crack, violence related to the new and highly competitive inner-city crack trade and the death of prominent college basketball star Len Bias from an alleged cocaine overdose. The “War on Drugs” in its present form began. A new government agency, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was created and originally headed up by the neo- fascist demagogue William J. Bennett. The ONDCP became an outlet for anti-drug propaganda generated by the government. Drastic increases in government spending in areas related to drug policy took place. Draconian penalties for the tiniest of drug infractions were implemented.

To fully understand what the drug war is about it is necessary to examine some important and relevant historical precendents. Traditionally, when governments have sought to increase their power by attacking an internal population group the usual targets have been religious and ethnic minorities. This was true of the Romans who attacked Christians, a predominately lower class religious movement at the time. This was true of medieval theocratic states which attacked, alternately, Catholics, Protestants, heretics, witches, Jews, pagans, Muslims, etc. Indeed, we might say that just as medieval states maintained and promoted an official state religion (usually Catholicism) and persecuted and prohibited others (Protestants, Jews, dissident Catholics) so does the current American government maintain official, socially approved and even government subsidized and sold drugs (alcohol, tobacco, ritalin) and prohibits others (marijuana, heroin and cocaine) and persecutes those who use and sell them. The Nazi regime targeted Jews, Gypsies, Communists, homosexuals and other groups and, historically, many American politicians have sought to advance themselves by attacking and scapegoating blacks, immigrants and other minorities.

In contemporary America, it is not socially acceptable to openly engage in the villification of racial and religious minorities as it was in past cultures. This would be in conflict with the prevailing ethos of religious toleration originating from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the minority civil rights revolution of the 1960s. Therefore, other cultural groups not considered to be a part of mainstream or “respectable” society, such as “drug users”, are targeted instead. The historian Richard Lawrence Miller has conducted an enlightening study of the parallels between the Nazi war on Jews and the American war on drug users. Miller is more than qualified to comment on these matters. He is the son of an investigator for the prosecution during the Nuremburg trials of Nazi leaders for war crimes. Miller is also the author of several books on both drug policy and Nazi law and jurisprudence. His evidence and conclusions are meticulously researched and documented. No doubt most Americans would find comparisons between the drug war and Nazi persecution to be the result of mere fanaticism. Americans ignore evidence legitimizing such a comparison at their peril. Americans do not want to believe that their country, supposedly the “land of free” who fought and defeated fascism, could have gotten so far off track as to be pursuing a path identical to that of the Nazis. However, the evidence is overwhelming that this is indeed the case. The Nazis blamed the Jews for crime, the spread of disease, urban blight, the terrible conditions in slums and many other ills. The current American regime blames drug users for all of these things. Even the language and terminology employed by leading drug war officials and Nazi leaders is identical. Hans Frank, the Nazi commissioner of occupied Poland, remarked that “Jews are the carriers of diseases and germs”. Likewise, the original American drug “czar”, William Bennett, proclaimed, “The casual adult drug user is in some ways the most dangerous person because that person is a carrier…a non-addict’s drug use, in other words, is highly contagious”. Miller notes that “a person having the status of Jew was forbidden to do things permitted to other persons…they were forbidden to engage in activities inherent to normal life, from driving a car to holding a job”. Similarly, William Bennett announced: “Drug users who maintain a job and a steady income should face stiff fines…These are the users who should have their names published in local papers. They should be subject to drivers’ license suspension, employer notification, overnight or weekend detention, eviction from public housing or forfeiture of the cars they drive while purchasing drugs”. In other words, drug users should be rendered uemployed, homeless and immobile even when it is clear that their drug use has harmed no one and that they are functional and self-sufficient. Nazi leaders even went so far as to claim that Jews represented a type of supernatural evil. The Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher, later hanged for war crimes, remarked, “The Jews are not human beings but children of the devil and the spawns of crime…This satanic race has no right to exist”. Interestingly, the drug war criminal William Bennett told a group of Baptists that “drug users are the product of the devil” and later remarked on television that no trial should be necessarily required before the summary execution of accused drug sellers because “they deserve to die”. Instructively, even the Nazi regime found it impossible to suppress the illegal trade in cocaine and opiates in Germany. Miller analyzes the five steps through which the Germans systematically accelerated their attacks upon the Jews and shows how an identical program has been implemented in the war on drugs. The five steps are identification, ostracism, confiscation, concentration and annihlation. The process is well under way. Consider:

  1. Identification- an undesired class of persons is held up to be different from and inferior to others. Nazis denounced Jews as criminals, social parasites, degenerates and other slurs. Drug users are treated in a similar manner. What is the truth here? Just as German Jews were ordinary German citizens in every important sense, the distinguished narcotics expert Jerome Jaffe remarks:

    “The addict who is able to obtain an adequate supply of drugs through legitimate channels and has adequate funds usually dresses properly, maintains his nutrition, and is able to discharge his social and occupational obligations with reasonable efficiency. He usually remains in good health, suffers little inconvenience, and is, in general, difficult to distinguish from other person.”

  2. Ostracism-the target group is subjected to institutionalized discrimination because of their social status. German Jews were forbidden to drive cars, hold certain jobs, serve in the military, intermarry with ethnic Germans and many other activities. Likewise, American drug users can have their drivers’ licenses revoked, their children taken away, their employment terminated and many other similar sanctions. Under American drug law, drug users may be denied student loans and welfare but no similar sanctions exist concerning convicted murderers and rapists.
  3. Confiscation-the property of the target group is systematically seized by the state. The businesses and homes of German Jews were often seized and forfeited to the Gestapo and other Nazi agents. The homes, businesses, automobiles, bank accounts and personal possessions of American drug users are being taken from them in a similar manner and frequently kept by the police. Even the property of persons never convicted of any drug “crime” is frequently seized.
  4. Concentration-the target group is restricted to certain geographical locations and barred from entering others. German Jews were initially confined to ghettos and then placed in concentration camps. American drug users are placed in jails and prisons, mental hospitals, pseudo-military “boot camps” (a practice also utilized by the Nazis) and forced to undergo experimental and unscientific “substance abuse treatment” programs in violation of standards of medical ethics.

    At this point some of the stereotypes hurled at drug users by drug warriors become self-fulfilling. A favorite tactic of the Nazis was to concentrate Jews into segregated ghettos and then remove sewage, electricity and other sanitation and utility services. The predictable result would be an increase in the spread of tuberculosis and dysentary, lice, rodents, squalor and decay. Jews forced to live in these conditions would then begin to resemble the stereotype of the depraved, derilect Jew depicted in Nazi propaganda. The Nazis would then use these conditions as a justification for their racial views and an increase in the persecution. Similar tactics are used against drug users. Prohibition forces addicts to buy their drugs on the black market. Heroin and cocaine are both worth about two dollars per gram at standard market value. But the black market price can often be fifty times greater. Consequently, many addicts, particularly from the poorer classes, have no options but theft or prostitution as a means of obtaining their drugs. When there was a serious shortage of tobacco in Europe following the Second World War, many tobacco addicts began to steal to finance their habits as prices soared and many tobacco-addicted women resorted to prostitution in order to obtain money for cigarettes. The situation that poor addicts face would be akin to one where food were declared illegal and a sandwhich or a hot dog suddenly cost $200 on the black market. What would most people do in such a situation? Drug policy is designed to all but guarantee that addicts become impoverished, homeless, unemployed, unable to care for children and other dependents and intertwined with the criminal underworld. Likewise, drug prohibition guarantees that a disproportionate number of sociopaths and routine criminals enter the drug business and susequently engage in violence as a means of market discipline and the elimination of competitors. This only serves to bolster the bigoted stereotypes purveyed by drug war propaganda. The fifth and final step in the crusade against German Jews and American drug users is the obvious one:

  5. Annihlation-the target group is systematically exterminated. German Jews were killed by means of poison gas, firing squads, deliberate starvation, incineration, intentional denial of medical care and prolonged exposure to harsh conditions. The mass extermination of American drug users has not, at the time this essay is being written (early 2001), became a full-scale endeavor. Rather, the killing of drug users is most often a side effect of the general persecution program. Cancer and AIDS patients who might benefit from the medicinal use of marijuana are denied treatment. This seems to have been the central factor in the death of the late author Peter McWilliams. Some people have suggested that overdose victims be denied medical care altogether (most overdoses are the result of adulterated black market drugs). Others, such as New York radio talk show host Bob Grant, have suggested that authorities deliberately place poisoned drug supplies on the street for the purpose of intentionally killing addicts. Officials ranging from former drug czar William Bennett to former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrinch have called for the execution of drug “offenders”. Drug users, and even bystanders uninvolved with drugs, are sometimes killed as a result of terrorist activities by thuggish police SWAT teams and narcotics and vice agents. William Bennett has praised the murder of drug users and sellers by private vigilante groups.

The apparatus necessary for a full-scale genocide has already been constructed. A target group has been subjected to every form of threat, harassment, persecution, confiscation and incarceration. Those who view drug users as subhumans deserving mass incarceration are unlikely to be particularly troubled by mass extermination. A vast army of special interest groups has evolved that has a powerful incentive to keep the drug war rolling to its “final solution”. These include:

  • police for whom the drug war is a means of employment, career advancement, funding for law enforcement agencies, power, glory, adventure and prestige.
  • bureaucrats heading up and employed by a myriad of agencies involved in the drug war ranging from public housing authorities who evict drug using tenants to regulatory agencies who shut down the legal businesses of drug users or dealers to towing companies with contracts to impound the cars of suspected drug buyers.
  • lawyers, both defense attorneys and prosecutors, for whom drug cases are a major source of business, prestige and career advancement
  • the organized alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical lobby who regard illegal drugs as unwanted competition to their own products. Much of the funding for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a drug war propaganda group consisting mostly of a coalition of advertising agencies, comes from these elements.
  • politicians building their careers on drug war demagoguery and inflammatory rhetoric
  • journalists and media outlets for whom the drug war is a source of sensationalistic and therefore ratings-gathering and career-enhancing news.
  • construction companies and service industries with lucrative government contracts to build and supply more and more prisons
  • corrections officials and prison guards’ unions for whom mass imprisonment of drug users is a source of job security. The prison guards’ union is the second largest campaign donor in California state elections.
  • state-subsidized academics deriving prestige from developing drug war policy, gathering statistics and research, and creating an ideological smokescreen for the drug war
  • corrupt informants, often criminals themselves, paid to “snitch” on others
  • judges (no explanation needed)
  • “moral enteprenuers”, that is, persons deriving recognition from pushing the drug war as a righteous moral crusade ranging from Jesse Jackson to televangelists to radio talk-show hosts
  • owners and employees of “drug treatment” facilities whose clients are often persons coerced into such programs
  • corrupt public officials personally involved in the drug trade and deriving enormous profits from the black market pricing system
  • military officials who see the use of the military in both foreign and domestic drug war efforts as means of obtaining job security, power and prestige
  • organized physicians and pharmacists who see drug decriminalization as potential threat to the monopolistic prescription system of which they are the main beneficiaries
  • foreign policy elites who see the drug war as an excuse for military intervention in other countries (such as Columbia) for other political purposes
  • corrupt bankers who profit from drug money laundered by their banks
  • parents groups afraid that an end to the drug war will result in the increase in the number of youngsters who use drugs
  • neigborhood groups concerned about the effects of the war on drugs in their community who mistakenly blame drugs for the effects of drug prohibition
  • religious factions for whom drug use is a strong taboo

Of course, many more elements could be added to this list. At this point, it needs to be pointed out that the drug war is, in a broader sense, a war against traditional American democracy and civil and constitutional rights of every kind. How is this being done? The drug war is being used to attack the First Amendment provisions for freedom of religion, speech and the press. American Indians and Rastafarians for whom peyote and marijuana have sacramental meaning are not allowed to practice their religion. A case of this type went before the Supreme Court in 1989. The Court rejected the claim that Indian groups had any right to use peyote for religious purposes with Justice Antonin Scalia remarking that freedom of religion was “a luxury we can’t afford” if it got in the way of the drug war. This sets a precedent whereby religious liberty may be arbitrarily denied when it is in conflict with state policy of the moment. Similarly, when the late Peter McWilliams was working on a book arguing in favor of the medical use of marijuana the federal Drug Enforcement Administration got word of his project and went to his home and confiscated the computer containing the files for his manuscript. William F. Buckley remarked at the time that it was akin to the DEA going to the headquarters of the New York Times and confiscating their printing presses. The DEA has also pressured newspapers to refrain from carrying columns by Buckley criticizing the DEA.

The Second Amendment protection of the right to bear arms is also under attack because of the drug war. Violent turf wars conducted by drug dealing street gangs and the alleged threat to police by armed victims of drug war raids have led to a call for stricter guns laws, even outright gun confiscation in some quarters. All other constitutional rights-freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, due process, property rights, privacy rights, states’ rights, exemption from excessive punishment, the provision against double jeopardy-are being undermined and assaulted in the name of the drug war. The United States has five percent of the world’s population and twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners. The drug war has contributed to a drastic deterioration in the realm of race relations. Even though most drug users are white, blacks and other minorities are arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated for drug “offenses” at a grossly disproportional rate. Forty percent of all black youth in their twenties are either in prison, on probation or on parole. One and a half million children now have one or both parents in prison. Large sections of cities have become virtually uninhabitable because of violence generated by the drug war.

One last thought needs to be considered. As mentioned, the apparatus necessary for a full-scale genocide has already been created. The Nazis managed to exterminate millions of Jews and other groups. The only active armed resistance occurred in the Warsaw ghetto. Originally containing three hundred thousand Jews, the gradual Nazi deportation program eventually reduced the population to forty thousand. It was at this point that an armed resistance movement, armed with homemade weapons and led by courageous youth in their twenties, began. They succeeded in warding off the Gestapo for a month before finally being crushed. So far the only public official courageous enough to advocate genuine resistance to what is being done to America today has been former New Hampshire state representative Tom Alciere. Let’s not make the same mistake as the Europeans of sixty years ago.


Cheney Attempting to Constrain Bush’s Choices on Iran Conflict: Staff Engaged in Insubordination Against President Bush
May 24, 2007
By Steve Clemons

There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.

On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney’s team and acolytes — who populate quite a wide swath throughout the American national security bureaucracy.

The Pentagon and the intelligence establishment are providing support to add muscle and nuance to the diplomatic effort led by Condi Rice, her deputy John Negroponte, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, and Legal Adviser John Bellinger. The support that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and CIA Director Michael Hayden are providing Rice’s efforts are a complete, 180 degree contrast to the dysfunction that characterized relations between these institutions before the recent reshuffle of top personnel.

However, the Department of Defense and national intelligence sector are also preparing for hot conflict. They believe that they need to in order to convince Iran’s various power centers that the military option does exist.

But this is worrisome. The person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney. The person in Iran who most wants a conflict is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force would be big winners in a conflict as well — as the political support that both have inside Iran has been flagging.

Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney’s national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush’s tack towards Condoleezza Rice’s diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.

This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an “end run strategy” around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.

The thinking on Cheney’s team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran’s nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

This strategy would sidestep controversies over bomber aircraft and overflight rights over other Middle East nations and could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf — which just became significantly larger — as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.

There are many other components of the complex game plan that this Cheney official has been kicking around Washington. The official has offered this commentary to senior staff at AEI and in lunch and dinner gatherings which were to be considered strictly off-the-record, but there can be little doubt that the official actually hopes that hawkish conservatives and neoconservatives share this information and then rally to this point of view. This official is beating the brush and doing what Joshua Muravchik has previously suggested — which is to help establish the policy and political pathway to bombing Iran.

The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the “right decision” when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President’s hands.

On Tuesday evening, i spoke with a former top national intelligence official in this Bush administration who told me that what I was investigating and planned to report on regarding Cheney and the commentary of his aide was “potentially criminal insubordination” against the President. I don’t believe that the White House would take official action against Cheney for this agenda-mongering around Washington — but I do believe that the White House must either shut Cheney and his team down and give them all garden view offices so that they can spend their days staring out their windows with not much to do or expect some to begin to think that Bush has no control over his Vice President.

It is not that Cheney wants to bomb Iran and Bush doesn’t, it is that Cheney is saying that Bush is making a mistake and thus needs to have the choices before him narrowed.

US anti-war mother ends protest
Cindy Sheehan, the bereaved mother who became a figurehead for the US anti-war movement, is abandoning her fight after growing disenchanted with the campaign.
29 May 2007

She has camped outside President Bush’s ranch since 2005, demanding a meeting over the death of her son in Iraq.

But announcing the end of her campaign, she also hit out at Democrats and anti-war campaigners who put “personal egos above peace and human life”.

She said she had sacrificed her health, her marriage and her finances.

In a letter on the Daily Kos website titled Good Riddance Attention Whore – a reference to the abuse she says she has suffered, Ms Sheehan said: “I am going to take whatever I have left and go home.

“I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost.”

‘War machine’
Cindy Sheehan became a “postergirl” for the US anti-war movement after she set up her protest camp outside the president’s ranch in Crawford, Texas in August 2005.

She said she has spent all the money from the survivor’s benefits paid for her son’s death and everything she earned from speaking and book fees and that she owed large hospital bills.

“I have been called every despicable name that small minds can think of and have had my life threatened many times.”

She said her son Casey, who died in Baghdad in April 2004, was “killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think.

Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives.

“It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.”

Ms Sheehan criticised the US anti-war movement for often putting “personal egos” first.

“It is hard to work for peace when the very movement that is named after it has so many divisions.”

She said that one-time allies among the Democratic Party had turned on her when she no longer limited her protests over the Iraq war to the Republican Party.

The US will rapidly descend into “a fascist corporate wasteland,” she said, if “alternatives to this corrupt ‘two’ party system” are not found.

Ms Sheehan said she was resigning as the “face” of the US anti-war movement.

She said she would “never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good old US of A, but I am finished working in, or outside of this system.”

A Call for Direct Action
If America’s true patriots aren’t willing to organize on a massive scale, then we had better get used to business as usual.
May 25, 2007
By Sean Gonsalves

Nonviolence is a universal principle and its operation is not limited by a hostile environment. Indeed, its efficacy can be tested only when it acts in the midst of and in spite of opposition. Our nonviolence would be a hollow thing and worth nothing, if it depended for its success on the goodwill of the authorities. — Gandhi

The GOP front runners gunning for the White House in ’08 were trying to one-up each other on torture at a “debate” two weeks ago.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said interrogators should use “any method they can think of,” while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney not only supported “enhanced interrogation techniques” — the contemporary euphemism for torture — he proposed doubling the size of the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.

McCain’s support for prolonging the illegitimate occupation of Iraq aside, he’s the one torture hold out.

“When I was in Vietnam, one of the things that sustained us as we … underwent torture ourselves, is the knowledge that if we had our positions reversed and we were the captors, we would not impose that kind of treatment on them. It’s not about the terrorists; it’s about us. It’s about what kind of country we are.”

I suppose we should give McCain a little credit for his anti-torture stance, but, given his support for the “surge,” which flies in the face of all the historical evidence that tells us there’s NO military solution to guerrilla insurgencies, short of genocide, he’s a far cry from USMC Maj. Smedley Butler who warned us in 1935 that “War Is a Racket.” Butler wrote about his 33 years of active military service, spending “most of (his) time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

High class muscle is what made Mexico “safe” for American oil interests in 1914. It made Haiti and Cuba “a decent place” for National City Bank to do business. “I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street,” Butler continued.

“I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.” You won’t get that kind of candor in American politics today, including the Dems, save Kucinich.

A Democrat-controlled Congress “compromises” with no troop withdrawal and more money for an immoral and illegal occupation!

As I was saying last week, you can’t expect a chicken to produce a duck egg, which is why massive civil disobedience seems to be the only way to send the message the political ruling class should have got from the mid-term elections.

The nonviolent tactical question I raised was “fill the jails” — gum up the gears of the system to the point of gridlock.

I got tons of response from across the political spectrum and the responses affirmed two things:

1) Many, many people think our democratic system is broke and 2), we need an education curriculum that includes the long and successful history of nonviolent direct action because the ignorance of the basic philosophy, as preached and practiced by people most Americans either worship (Jesus) or say they admire (Thoreau, Tolstoy, Gandhi, and King), is astounding.

(Of course, I received a few unoriginal smart-ass responses suggesting I go to jail first, by myself. That would be cool and all except that it misses the point of massive direct action).

“Fill the jails” wouldn’t work, I’m told, because the government, in partnership with the private prison industry, would just build more jails and do horrible things to those arrested.

I raised the prospect of filling the jails, not the prisons. Two completely different things. That said, a crack down on nonviolent direct action is pretty much the point. Nonviolent direct action usually does provoke the powers-that-be to respond with repression. You think those on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement were having a tea party? “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” is how Gandhi put it.

While repression is the predictable response of authorities, that’s not an argument for why “fill the jails” would not be effective. It’s an argument for why more courage is needed and a call for more than mere letter-writing, vigils and symbolic protests. That’s what Gandhi was talking about when he said “nonviolence and cowardice go ill together. I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice. But true nonviolence is an impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness.”

If America’s true patriots aren’t willing to organize on a massive scale, then we had better get used to business as usual.

Let’s suppose a million-plus people — including women, children and the elderly — show up in the nation’s capital or New York City and shut the entire place down with the stated intention of not leaving until the U.S. occupation of Iraq comes to an end. While those brave folks necks would be on the line, think about the network of relationships (friends, family and acquaintances) tied to those million-plus demonstrators who WILL NOT just let their loved ones slip into some “enemy combatant” black hole.

The powers-that-be are forced to make a decision: either we capitulate to the demands or we go Tiananmen Square on our own countrymen and women and completely destroy whatever remaining moral legitimacy this government may have.

“Fill the jails” may not be the right tactic but nothing short of that level of commitment will make a difference.

If America’s true patriots aren’t willing to organize on a massive scale, then we had better get used to business as usual.

Media Coverage of Muslims Bombs
A Pew poll on Muslims in America painted a positive picture. So why was the coverage so negative?
May 24, 2007
By Lorraine Ali

According to a Pew Research Center poll released earlier this week, Muslim-Americans are “largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.” The poll showed the majority surveyed have close non-Muslim friends, believe in a strong American work ethic and feel there is little conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society. Overall, an encouraging picture, right?

Not according to a cavalcade of major media outlets. On Tuesday and Wednesday, coverage of the poll was downright foreboding. “Supporting Terror?” read the CNN crawl at the bottom of the screen as John Roberts interviewed a group of young moderate Muslims about the poll. On CBS News online, the headline incorrectly stated that 26% OF YOUNG U.S. MUSLIMS OK BOMBS. And in USA Today, more misinformation and scare tactics: POLL: 1 IN 4 YOUNGER U.S. MUSLIMS SUPPORT SUICIDE BOMBINGS.

The fear-inducing reports were based on the responses to a couple of questions in the Pew survey: is suicide bombing justified? The outcome: “Very few Muslim Americans—just 1%—say that suicide bombings against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam; an additional 7% say suicide bombings are sometimes justified in these circumstances,” according to the Pew poll. As for U.S. Muslims under 30, Pew reported that 15 percent believe suicide bombings can be often or sometimes justified. The numbers were tucked inside a 108-page report that also found a large majority of U.S. Muslims rejected the idea of violence against civilians, had very unfavorable views of Al Qaeda and were concerned about the rise of Muslim extremism in the United States.

So why, amid all the other encouraging data, would such a large number of media outlets mine the poll for evidence that Muslims—even the ones next door—are dangerous? Hussein Ibish, executive director of the Foundation for Arab American Leadership, says the answer is as disturbing as it is predictable. “It suggests there is an appetite for negativity about U.S. Muslims in the American media,” he says. “There’s two templates post-9/11 for coverage about American Muslims. One is they are scary—be very afraid. The other template is the sorry, poor pathetic victims of hate crimes. It’s villain or victim—a ridiculous set of choices—and coverage of this poll has fallen into the villain category. It’s irrational, because if you read the poll, it is actually quite positive.”

Yasmin Hamidi, 26, was one of the three young Muslim-Americans interviewed on CNN last Tuesday. “I didn’t see the graphics on the screen until I watched it online,” she says. “I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It was so irresponsible that they put “Supporting Terror?” on the bottom while we’re speaking. Two Columbia Ph.D. students and someone who works full time at an interreligious-understanding NGO—I mean, come on! It’s not surprising, but it’s still upsetting to see.”

Since the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Muslims like Hamidi have become accustomed to gritting their teeth while watching pundits on cable news or reading the paper. The 2001 attacks, the war in Iraq and the babblings of warped political figures like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have come to stand for Islam and its followers in the most negative terms. For many Americans, coverage of these issues is the only exposure to the Muslim world they get. Yet surely the media has a responsibility to present the whole picture—the good and the bad—rather than just the titillating, scary bits that help drive higher ratings.

Still, despite the fact that U.S. Muslims are far more assimilated than those in Europe, many large media outlets never let us forget that American Muslims are still a potentially dangerous group. The Pew poll is simply our latest reminder. “There’s absolutely no basis in the poll for concluding it’s a radicalized community,” says Ibish. “I can almost guarantee that the overwhelming majority who were asked the suicide-bombing question were thinking about Palestine—not Iraq or America. They’re not willing to say it’s never OK because they think Palestinians have no other options. They’re wrong, but that’s what they think. It’s exactly the same kind of statistic you’d get if you asked young Israelis about torture, demolition of villages, assassinations—they’d say yes because they know the Israelis have done it but loathe to say it’s wrong. I’m sure, knowing the Muslim community, that if you resolved the occupation in Palestine, that number would go very close to zero.”

Some media outlets also focused on the unusually high percentage of American Muslims (28 percent) who still don’t believe that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were Arabs—a result that I, too, find baffling. Still, the overall coverage of the Pew poll was way out of whack. It’s no wonder that when the pollsters asked U.S. Muslims how they felt about American news coverage of their faith and its followers, 57 percent said they felt is was unfair. It’s unlikely that number will make headlines anytime soon.


tired. folklife festival happened, mostly without difficulty. although i had to make two trips to load everything in, i didn’t have to make two trips to load everything out because i gave eddie a ride home, and he helped me carry stuff. also, i was able to find a free parking place between the opera house and the KCTS building. it was still on the opposite side of the fairgrounds from where i was performing, but i didn’t have to pay for it. sez she saw me, but i didn’t see her… which isn’t surprising, since i don’t know her and i saw literally thousands of people yesterday… although i did see a guy named jas linford, who went to RVTI in 2000, and is now a dealer for kelly mouthpieces, which are really cool, and because of the fact that i do musical instrument repair, i can also become a dealer and get them for half price…


folklife. i perform twice tomorrow, from 12:00 noon until 4:00 pm with la banda gozona and from 4:00 until 5:00 with the ballard sedentary sousa band. fortunately, both performances are at the mural amphitheater, so i don’t have a lot of moving around to do, but i’ve got a lot of loading in to do. i will leave around 8:00 am so that i can get there, find a relatively close place to park, which is probably going to be on the other side of the center grounds from where we will be performing, get my artist button, and make two runs to and from the car in order to get everything more or less in one place (hopefully) before i have to start performing.

we’ve got 4 hours scheduled with la banda gozona, but we’re not going to be playing for all that time. we’re sharing the stage with los flacos and about 60 dancers who will be taking up most of the stage. we’re only playing 16 tunes, but, being oaxacan, they’re all tunes that take around 10 to 20 minutes to perform in their entirety. then i get to finish the afternoon off with an hour or so of sousa marches. i’ve been playing a lot recently, so i’ll probably be okay, and there’s quite a bit of difference between the sousaphone embrochure and the trombone embrochure, but it’s still gonna be a lot of playing. it’ll all be over by 5:00, though, so even with the prospect of making 2 runs to the car and driving home, i should be able to relax by 7:00 or so.

also, i did some rearranging on a new piece, Troll March, for the fremont philharmonic, and started copying out parts. i got completely through the trumpet part and about halfway through the clarinet part, but it’s probably going to be at least monday or tuesday before i get the whole thing finished.



Cat grows wings

A Chinese woman claims her cat has grown wings.

Granny Feng’s tom cat has sprouted two hairy 4ins long wings, reports the Huashang News.

“At first, they were just two bumps, but they started to grow quickly, and after a month there were two wings,” she said.

Feng, of Xianyang city, Shaanxi province, says the wings, which contain bones, make her pet look like a ‘cat angel’.

Her explanation is that the cat sprouted the wings after being sexually harassed.

“A month ago, many female cats in heat came to harass him, and then the wings started to grow,” she said.

However, experts say the phenomenon is more likely down to a gene mutation, and say it shouldn’t prevent the cat living a normal life.

The Magnetic Brain Stimulator Will See You Now
22 May, 2007
By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO — The next time you visit a psychiatrist, don’t be put off by the helmet-shaped device crawling with electrodes in the corner of the office. It’s there to help.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, a technique for treating clinical depression, uses a device placed on a patient’s head that delivers a pulse to the gray matter. Psychiatrists at the American Psychiatric Association meeting here are unabashedly optimistic about its potential for treating tough cases. It’s in the final stages of FDA review, and could come to market as soon as the end of the year.

“It’s much less invasive — patients can go home or go back to work afterwards,” says Shirlene Sampson, an assistant professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. “And patients aren’t exposed to social risk with their insurance companies and employers.”

TMS works by creating an electromagnetic pulse that doesn’t disturb the skull or scalp, but can reach two to three centimeters into the brain to stimulate the prefrontal cortex and paralimbic blood flow, increasing the serotonin output and the dopamine and norepinephrine functions.

“We have to be sure to get really good contact with the scalp so we reach the most effective areas of the brain,” says Sampson. “In older patients where the brain has shrunk, we have to be very careful to get any results.”

TMS can be done in an office setting and doesn’t require anesthesia, which is needed for traditional ECT (“Electro-Convulsive Therapy” popularly known as “Shock Treatments”). Side effects include post-application headaches, muscle twitches and pain at the application site. The risk of seizure remains, but researchers worked very hard to avoid them, and they occurred very rarely.

Ten companies — including five based in Europe, two American companies and two in Korea — are now lined up to produce TMS headgear, which ranges in appearance from something like an ultrasound sensor mounted on a dental-drill arm to a cap resembling a beauty-parlor hair dryer.

Depression is increasingly recognized as a destructive, disabling, chronic illness with treatments that often fail patients. Studies yield conflicting results — patients can respond well to placebos and exercise, while drugs can fail some and succeed for others. And short-term results often don’t translate into long-term results as patients bolt from treatment because of side effects or lack of effect.

One of big problems in treating depression, where a bout is likely to lead to other bouts, is getting patients to stay on their therapy, studies show. And, while combinations of therapies initially seem to help the 30 percent and 40 percent of patients whose depression resists drug treatment, remission rates remain low and cures are elusive.

The downside is that it takes 20 to 30 sessions of 40 minutes each for at least six weeks to get a good result. But patients stick with TMS treatment better than with medication or electroshock, researchers say. It’s also being tested for treating migraines.


i just got done meeting with a woman named asma (ozma) who wants me to design and maintain a web site for her, which will mean a bit more money than has been happening in the past, but at this point i’m not sure how much. i’m supposed to call her on 4th june to make an appointment to take pictures of all the stuff in her shop, and then put together a web site where she can sell her stuff… except that she doesn’t currently have a computer at all, so i would be doing it all locally and then uploading it to whatever host service she decides to go with. r4l is the place where i intend to register her domain, and they’ve got a “5mb for free” hosting solution that will probably be the one i go with, unless she’s got a ton of pictures, which i don’t think she has. also she wants paypal on her web site, but since she doesn’t have a computer, that may be somewhat difficult. i suppose, as the web designer, i’ve got to come up with a solution for her, but all the solutions i can think of start with her buying a computer and getting email so that she can open a paypal account. i’m perfectly willing to be her web designer and web master, but i’m drawing the line at being the person responsible for printing out the orders she gets and giving them to her because she doesn’t have a computer, or being the person to relay all of the flack that’s stirred up when she doesn’t get around to filling somebody’s order as fast as they want her to… 8/


73 Percent Of Americans Unable To Believe This Shit
October 7, 1998

PRINCETON, NJ–According to the latest Gallup Poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday of this week, nearly three out of four Americans can no longer believe this shit.

In addition to the 73 percent of poll respondents who described this shit as “beyond belief,” 9 percent said they could “hardly” believe this shit, with another 5 percent “just barely” believing it. An additional 13 percent said they “couldn’t give a flying fuck about the whole goddamn thing.”

The poll also found that the National Shit-Credulity Index (NSCI) has hit an all-time low, with only 2 percent of Americans describing themselves as “fully confident of [their] capacity to believe this shit.”

“The American people have had to deal with this kind of shit for years,” Gallup Organization president Lee Sanderson said, “but now, for the first time, it appears that the vast majority of them just can’t fucking believe it anymore.”

“In all honesty, who can blame them?” Sanderson added. “Regardless of one’s political affiliation, socioeconomic status, religion or just about any other viewpoint, you’ve got to admit, the shit that’s been going on lately is way out of hand.”

In the wake of the poll, many activists are calling upon America’s leaders to get their shit in gear.

“The American people have had it up to here with this shitheap,” said James Schuerholz, president of the D.C.-based Heritage Foundation. “There is a public mandate for our leaders to cut this shit out, and it’s high time they finally did.”

Despite Americans’ incredulity over this shit, historians note that this sort of shit has been going on for years and is unlikely to end anytime soon.

“Contrary to popular belief, this type of shit is hardly anything new,” Harvard University American history professor Lawrence Coombs said. “The same shit was going down 50, 100 and 150 years ago. The only difference was, back then, you never read about that shit in the newspapers.”

Calling the American people’s enormous shit-belief capacity “one of the cornerstones of our democracy,” U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) stressed that it is the patriotic duty of all citizens to grant our leaders the benefit of the doubt with regard to their shit.

“If the American people are no longer willing to believe this shit, who will?” Kerry said. “Somebody’s got to take this shit at face value. Otherwise, why are we even doing all this shit in the first place? I am truly saddened by the lack of faith that the citizens of this country are willing to put in my shit, as well as that of my esteemed colleagues. We must repair our society’s fraying trust in the shit of our elected officials, or you would not believe the kind of hardcore, heavy-duty shit that will come down.”

“America,” conservative author and social critic Patricia Stouffer said, “is seriously losing its shit. But we’ve got to somehow hold our shit in place until all this passes. We’ve got to learn to believe in shit again. After this latest shitstorm, it may take years to accomplish, but we must somehow find the strength to put our trust back into the nation’s shit.”

Despite such impassioned calls for faith in the U.S. political system and all the shit that comes with it, if the Gallup Poll is any indication, the majority of Americans are no longer willing to put up with the shit.

“Fuck that shit,” said Evansville, IN, day-care provider Helen Reiderer. “I’m tired of hearing about it. Do they actually expect us to still believe that load of shit?”

“If you ask me, the shit is about to hit the fan,” said Reiderer’s husband Frank. “As far as I’m concerned, all that shit is just too much to be believed.”

Another disgruntled citizen, Wenatchee, WA, tractor salesman Tom Huard, summed up the sentiments of most Americans when, holding up the front page of the local newspaper to friend Benjamin Pritchard, he said, “Jesus, Ben, can you believe this?”

“Shit, no,” Pritchard replied.

The entire government has failed us on Iraq
For the president, and the majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal
May 24, 2007
By Keith Olbermann

This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.

Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:

Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:

  • The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;
  • The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;
  • The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.
  • The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions—Stop The War—have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.

You may trot out every political cliché from the soft-soap, inside-the-beltway dictionary of boilerplate sound bites, about how this is the “beginning of the end” of Mr. Bush’s “carte blanche” in Iraq, about how this is a “first step.”

Well, Senator Reid, the only end at its beginning… is our collective hope that you and your colleagues would do what is right, what is essential, what you were each elected and re-elected to do.

Because this “first step”… is a step right off a cliff.

And this President!

How shameful it would be to watch an adult… hold his breath, and threaten to continue to do so, until he turned blue.

But how horrifying it is… to watch a President hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so, until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm’s way, are bled white.

You lead this country, sir?

You claim to defend it?

And yet when faced with the prospect of someone calling you on your stubbornness—your stubbornness which has cost 3,431 Americans their lives and thousands more their limbs—you, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don’t give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands.

How transcendentally, how historically, pathetic.

Any other president from any other moment in the panorama of our history would have, at the outset of this tawdry game of political chicken, declared that no matter what the other political side did, he would insure personally—first, last and always—that the troops would not suffer.

A President, Mr. Bush, uses the carte blanche he has already, not to manipulate an overlap of arriving and departing Brigades into a ‘second surge,’ but to say in unequivocal terms that if it takes every last dime of the monies already allocated, if it takes reneging on government contracts with Halliburton, he will make sure the troops are safe—even if the only safety to be found, is in getting them the hell out of there.

Well, any true President would have done that, Sir.

You instead, used our troops as political pawns, then blamed the Democrats when you did so.

Not that these Democrats, who had this country’s support and sympathy up until 48 hours ago, have not since earned all the blame they can carry home.

“We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame,” Winston Churchill wrote to Lord Moyne in the days after the British signed the Munich accords with Germany in 1938. “My feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in, a little later…”

That’s what this is for the Democrats, isn’t it?

Their “Neville Chamberlain moment” before the Second World War.

All that’s missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee “peace in our time,” but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.

The Democrats have merely streamlined the process. Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it, with impugnity.

And where are the Democratic presidential hopefuls this evening? See they not, that to which the Senate and House leadership has blinded itself?

Judging these candidates based on how they voted on the original Iraq authorization, or waiting for apologies for those votes, is ancient history now.

The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided… tomorrow.

The talk of practical politics, the buying into of the President’s dishonest construction “fund-the-troops-or-they-will-be-in-jeopardy,” the promise of tougher action in September, is falling not on deaf ears, but rather falling on Americans who already told you what to do, and now perceive your ears as closed to practical politics.

Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to—for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops—denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.

For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us.

  • Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats… have failed us. They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen War of Lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible.
  • Mr. Bush and his government… have failed us. They have behaved venomously and without dignity—of course. That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted. We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here.

With the exception of Senator Dodd and Senator Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidates have (so far at least) failed us.

They must now speak, and make plain how they view what has been given away to Mr. Bush, and what is yet to be given away tomorrow, and in the thousand tomorrows to come.

Because for the next fourteen months, the Democratic nominating process—indeed the whole of our political discourse until further notice—has, with the stroke of a cursed pen, become about one thing, and one thing alone.

The electorate figured this out, six months ago.
The President and the Republicans have not—doubtless will not.

The Democrats will figure it out, during the Memorial Day recess, when they go home and many of those who elected them will politely suggest they stay there—and permanently.

Because, on the subject of Iraq…

The people have been ahead of the media….

Ahead of the government…

Ahead of the politicians…

For the last year, or two years, or maybe three.

Our politics… is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question.

Mr. Bush has failed.

Mr. Warner has failed.

Mr. Reid has failed.


Who among us will stop this war—this War of Lies? To he or she, fall the figurative keys to the nation.

To all the others—presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame… for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.

The Visible Man: An FBI Target Puts His Whole Life Online
May 22, 2007
By Clive Thompson

Hasan Elahi whips out his Samsung Pocket PC phone and shows me how he’s keeping himself out of Guantanamo. He swivels the camera lens around and snaps a picture of the Manhattan Starbucks where we’re drinking coffee. Then he squints and pecks at the phone’s touchscreen. “OK! It’s uploading now,” says the cheery, 35-year-old artist and Rutgers professor, whose bleached-blond hair complements his fluorescent-green pants. “It’ll go public in a few seconds.” Sure enough, a moment later the shot appears on the front page of his Web site,

There are already tons of pictures there. Elahi will post about a hundred today — the rooms he sat in, the food he ate, the coffees he ordered. Poke around his site and you’ll find more than 20,000 images stretching back three years. Elahi has documented nearly every waking hour of his life during that time. He posts copies of every debit card transaction, so you can see what he bought, where, and when. A GPS device in his pocket reports his real-time physical location on a map.

Elahi’s site is the perfect alibi. Or an audacious art project. Or both. The Bangladeshi-born American says the US government mistakenly listed him on its terrorist watch list — and once you’re on, it’s hard to get off. To convince the Feds of his innocence, Elahi has made his life an open book. Whenever they want, officials can go to his site and see where he is and what he’s doing. Indeed, his server logs show hits from the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, and the Executive Office of the President, among others.

The globe-hopping prof says his overexposed life began in 2002, when he stepped off a flight from the Netherlands and was detained at the Detroit airport. He says FBI agents later told him they’d been tipped off that he was hoarding explosives in a Florida storage unit; subsequent lie detector tests convinced them he wasn’t their man. But with his frequent travel — Elahi logs more than 70,000 air miles a year exhibiting his art work and attending conferences — he figured it was only a matter of time before he got hauled in again. He might even be shipped off to Gitmo before anyone realized their mistake. The FBI agents had given him their phone number, so he decided to call before each trip; that way, they could alert the field offices. He hasn’t been detained since.

So it dawned on him: If being candid about his flights could clear his name, why not be open about everything? “I’ve discovered that the best way to protect your privacy is to give it away,” he says, grinning as he sips his venti Black Eye. Elahi relishes upending the received wisdom about surveillance. The government monitors your movements, but it gets things wrong. You can monitor yourself much more accurately. Plus, no ambitious agent is going to score a big intelligence triumph by snooping into your movements when there’s a Web page broadcasting the Big Mac you ate four minutes ago in Boise, Idaho. “It’s economics,” he says. “I flood the market.”

Elahi says his students get it immediately. They’ve grown up spilling their guts online — posting Flickr photo sets and confessing secrets on MySpace. He figures the day is coming when so many people shove so much personal data online that it will put Big Brother out of business.

For now, though, Big Brother is still on the case. At least according to Elahi’s server logs. “It’s really weird watching the government watch me,” he says. But it sure beats Guantanamo.


Aussies go crazy for cat poo coffee
May 16, 2007

CANBERRA – Cafe-crazy Australians in the last decade have embraced coffee in all its forms, but they’ve saved the most expensive — and excremental — for last.

Kopi Luwak, made in neighboring Indonesia from coffee beans excreted by native civet cats, is reputedly the world’s rarest and most expensive coffee, painstakingly extracted by hand from the animals’ forest droppings.

When roasted, the resulting beans sell for around $1,000 a kilogram ($450 a pound) and brew into a earthy, syrupy, coffee acknowledged by connoisseurs as one of the world’s finest.

Despite the closeness of the coffee’s home on the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi, Australia’s first civet cat brew has only just gone on sale in Queensland state, selling for A$50 a cup at the Heritage Tea Rooms, west of Townsville.

“Everyone calls it cat poo coffee,” cafe owner Michelle Sharpe told the Australian Associated Press.

“People who willingly pay the $50 are uplifted by the thrill of the experience,” her husband Allan Sharpe said.

Civet cats, considered a delicacy in China, are linked to the SARS respiratory virus that emerged in the south of that country in 2002 and spread globally.

Kopi Luwak joins a booming coffee scene in Australia, which has seen consumption grow from 300 grams per person in 1939, to 2.4 kilograms a head, or 1.26 billion cups a year worth A$3 billion ($2.5 billion) in sales.

Around a dozen people a month try out the exotic brew, with reactions so far 99 per cent favorable.

“It’s as good as my private life is bad. This is the kind of coffee you renounce your religion and sell your child for,” one taster quoted by AAP said.

i have to ask, is it possible that this is just further evidence of a plot to take over the world by toxoplasma gondii?


Mom blames Satan for burning baby in microwave
May 20, 2007

GALVESTON — A woman blames the devil and not her husband for severely burning their infant daughter after the 2-month-old was put in a microwave, a Houston television station reported.

Eva Marie Mauldin said Satan compelled her 19-year-old husband, Joshua Royce Mauldin, to microwave their daughter May 10 because the devil disapproved of Joshua’s efforts to become a preacher.

“Satan saw my husband as a threat. Satan attacked him because he saw (Joshua) as a threat,” Eva Mauldin told Houston television station KHOU-TV.

A Galveston County grand jury indicted Joshua Mauldin last week on child injury charges after hearing evidence that he placed his daughter in a motel microwave for 10 to 20 seconds.

The infant, Ana Marie, remains hospitalized. She suffered burns on the left side of her face and to her left hand, police said.

Eva Marie Mauldin, the girl’s 20-year-old mother, told the television station that her husband is “not the monster people are making him out to be.”

“That was not my husband; my husband is a wonderful father,” she said. “Satan was working through his weaknesses.”

Eva Maudlin described those weaknesses as an undisclosed mental disability, and that her efforts to get help for him have failed.

Police said Joshua Mauldin told them he put Ana Marie in the microwave because he was under stress. The family had arrived in Galveston the day before.

Eva Maudlin, who met her husband in an Arkansas church, denied those claims by police.

“He would never do anything to hurt her. He loves her,” she said. “When she cries he is the one who comforts her. When she is sick, he is the one that takes her to the doctor.”

Joshua Mauldin, of Warren, Ark., came to Galveston with his wife and mother because he was called to be a preacher, his wife said. While Joshua Mauldin’s mother has returned to Arkansas, Eva Mauldin remains in Galveston.

She is hoping to be reunited with her daughter, but Child Protective Services is working to have her and Joshua Mauldin’s parental rights severed. A custody hearing for the infant is scheduled for later this week in a Galveston district court.

Joshua Mauldin faces a charge of injury to a child causing serious bodily harm, which carries a possible prison term of five to 99 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

Eva Mauldin has set up a MySpace page, “Joshua Mauldin is not a Monster,” in hopes of defending her husband and making pleas for people to help her.

Heliocentrism is an Atheist Doctrine
May 18, 2007

What’s even worse than the debate raging in American schools about the teaching of the soulless doctrine of evolution, is the non-debate over an issue that rational Americans have foolishly conceded to the secular among us: the issue of Heliocentrism, or the idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Now, it has to be granted that there may be some mathematical evidence going either way; mathematically speaking, Copernicus may be on ground nearly as firm as that of Tycho Brahe. Right-thinking people know the correct doctrine, however:

Heliocentrism is the view that the sun is at the center of the universe. It was proposed by some ancient Greeks,[1] and became the dominant view in the 1700s and 1800s. It was abandoned in the 20th century.

Since the advent of relativity theory in the early 1900s, the laws of physics have been written in covariant equations, meaning that they are equally valid in any frame. Heliocentric and geocentric theories are both used today, depending on which allows more convenient calculations

It seems clear that it may occasionally be convenient to assume that the calculations of Copernicus and Kepler were mathematically sound. However, for both moral and theological reasons, we should always bear in mind that the Earth does not move. If it moved, we would feel it moving. That’s called empiricism, the experience of the senses. Don’t take my word for it, or the evidence of your own senses, Copernicans. There’s also the Word of the Lord:

“He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.” (1 Chronicles 16:30)

“Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm …” (Psalm 93:1)

“Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken.” (Psalm 104:5)

“…who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast…” (Isaiah 45:18)

“The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” (Ecclesiastes 1:5)

“Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” (Joshua 10, 12-13)

Moreover, as Answers in Genesis points out,

…[S]omething well known to high-school physics students, but apparently not to bibliosceptics—that it’s valid to describe motion from any reference frame, although an inertial one usually makes the mathematics simpler. But there are many times when the Earth is a convenient reference frame; i.e. at some point we all use the geocentric model in one sense. For instance, a planetarium is a geocentric model. Calculation of rising, transiting, and setting of various celestial objects is calculated geocentrically. There are numerous other examples. Since modern astronomers often use an Earth-centred reference frame, it’s unfair and anti-scientific to criticise the Bible for doing the same.

The premier website for those wishing an absolute debunking of the Biblically unsound, empirically fraudulent, historically heretical doctrine of Heliocentrism is The website contains numerous links to essays and analyses proving that the embrace of Copernicus is almost as foolish as the embrace of Darwinism. To quote from just one of these astounding essays:

Copernicanism, in short, is a concept that is protected in a bunker under a 50 foot thick ceiling of solid “scientific” concrete. It is meant to be impregnable. It is a concept that has become ensconced in men’s minds as the indestructible cornerstone of enlightened modern man’s knowledge. Virtually all people everywhere have been taught to believe–and do believe–that this concept is based on objective science and dispassionate secular reasoning, now long since freed from religious superstitions based on the Bible.

Indeed, it was this Copernican heliocentricity concept that gradually broke the back of Bible credibility as the source of Absolute Truth in Christendom. Once the Copernican Revolution had conquered the physical sciences of Astronomy and Physics and put down deep roots in Universities and lower schools everywhere, it was only a matter of time until the Biological sciences launched the Darwinian Revolution.

This embrace of Darwinism then quite predictably emboldened increasingly secular-minded mankind to further reject Biblical Absolutism and replace its teachings with yet more new “truths” in areas of learning having to do with economics and government. Thus was unsuccessful and floundering Marxism given new life. Marx openly tried to dedicate his own books to Darwin, exulting: “You have given me the basis for my system”. Thus, the “Social Science” disciplines were born and began to make their contributions to the destruction of Bible credibility…

Darwin, of course, only popularized evolutionism with his book in 1859, giving it a supposed mechanism thru natural selection and mutations, both since demonstrated to be utter nonsense. The actual roots of the evolutionary concept can be traced back to antiquity…as indeed can the roots of Copernican heliocentricism. Certainly the neo-heliocentrists, i.e., the early Copernicans such as Kepler were evolutionists. Galileo, like Kepler his friend, a neo-heliocentrist, was probably an evolutionist. Newton gave Copernicanism its biggest boost with his book in 1687, but I’ve seen no overt evidence that he was an evolutionist. (If you know of such evidence, I’d like to see it….)

Thanks, however, to Newton’s invented math and the excesses of his gravitational hypotheses (HERE), Copernicanism dug in its heels in the universities in the 1700’s, and by the last quarter of that century had produced a large crop of hard core heliocentrists, not a few of whom were advocating ape-man theories (amongst them, Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, Voltaire’s disciples in France, etc.). This was the age of “The Enlightenment” which produced Thomas Paine, the celebrated pamphleteer of the American Revolution, whom George Washington referred to as “that filthy little atheist”. Thomas Jefferson’s and Ben Franklin’s Deism was commonplace in Europe as well as amongst the rebellious American colonies. During the French Revolution of the 1790’s the Bible was actually outlawed.

These developments were sixty to a hundred years and more before Darwin, but the damage to Bible credibility done by the Copernican Revolution by that time was making an ever-widening open door for Evolutionism to take root. By 1830–even before Darwin (with his Degree in Theology, not Biology) went to the Galapagos Islands and began to formulate his mythology, Charles Lyell (with his degree in Law, not Geology) had advanced his idea of a “geologic column” with great ages attached to alleged descending layers of the earth. Though such a column has never, ever been confirmed, and though there are mountainous examples of the theoretically old layers being on top of the supposedly more recent ones, and though the Cambrian layer shows a sudden profusion of highly developed life forms with no antecedents, Darwin picked up on Lyell’s fantasy and it is still taught as a proof of an ancient earth and macro-evolutionism.

If that, alone, isn’t enough to convince you of the folly of embracing a soulless, atheistic pseudoscience like Heliocentrism, perhaps this will soften your stony head:

God, thru His Word, teaches a non-moving and immovable earth just as surely as he teaches a six-day Creation 6000 years ago and a universal Flood some 1600 years later. All attempts to twist and even boldly reverse geocentric Scriptures by claiming that God just used a “language of appearance” are extremely reckless for the Christian devoted to the inerrancy of Scripture. After all, the same argument has been employed with near devastating effect upon the Creationist Movement by Theistic Evolutionists, has it not?

Attacking vulnerable Copernicanism is a strategy that outflanks the entire secular science establishment (overrunning the Theistic Evolutionist’s position in the process!)

In addition to all that, being men and women of sound mind (II Tim. 1:7), Creationists should be eager to learn that:

1) No one–not Copernicus, not Kepler, not Galileo, not Newton, not Einstein–absolutely no one has proven the earth to be moving.

2) The earth moves only thru abstract, abstruse, and esoteric mathematics invented to make it move.

3) Over 200 truly scientific experiments using real mathematics have shown no earth movement, and these had the science establishment in a panic from the 1880’s until Einstein came to the rescue in 1905 with his “relativity” hypothesis.

4) Relativity is pure claptrap and there isn’t a person reading this who can’t know that fact.

5) Foucault’s Pendulum, the Coriolis Effect, and geostationary satellites do not prove a moving earth.

6) Anyone can see that the results of the Michelson-Morley experiments–especially the light fringe results–prove a stationary earth; and other facts about eclipses, satellite re-positionings, alleged blinding earth speeds, gravitational hooey, etc., add to the proof. Moreover, the Big Bang Baloney, the growing awareness of the effect of Dark Matter on galactic speeds, parallax factors (HERE) which shrink the cosmos, the evidence for speed-of-light retardation, the behavior of reflections and their capabilities for producing phenomena regarding size and depth, etc., all combine to corroborate the certitude of a greatly sanforized universe (one no more than one light day thick: Start HERE), a universe put in diurnal rotation around the spiritual and physical center of God’s Creation, just exactly as it appears to be day in and day out.

7) The Bible not only flatly states scores of times (HERE) and in several ways (HERE) that the earth does not move, it actually has a built-in geocentric assumption–sun rise, sun set–from beginning to end. (One scholar, a geocentrist and mathematician, is cataloguing some 2000 (!) of these.)

In the beginning, the Bible makes clear, the earth was the center of our “solar” system, with no sun for it to go around until the 4th day of creation (Gen.1:14-19; HERE). At the End we read of a New Earth (HERE) replacing in the same location this old one (Rev. 20:11; 21:1,2). This New Earth which occupies the same location in the cosmos as the old one which has “fled away” is the place where God the Father and Jesus will dwell with the redeemed forever (Rev. 21:3).

Given that unpreached but clear teaching, do you think that God the Father and Jesus the Son will eternally be somewhere out on the edge of Their NEW Universe in the boonies…or at the center?

If you ask me, that settles the question right there. I support the Bible, and I don’t want my children learning about Heliocentrism in school. I think this doctrine encourages atheism, Darwinism, and anti-Americanism. I don’t want my tax dollars going to finance this kind of false science. It’s complete rot, and I hope that those of us who come to realize this can ultimately prevail against its propogation amongst OUR children with the money from OUR salaries.

I can’t wait to hear from the moonbats and the Darwinists and the other rubes on this one, though. Go on, witch doctors. Preach to me how the planet hurtles through the ether, Scriptural and physical evidence to the contrary! Your false doctrines will be cast down on the day when America rediscovers its Christian roots. That is a promise.

and, once again, taking a 180° turn into bizarre-sex-land…

A woman robbed of her fertility
22 May 2007
By Jo Meek

Elaine Riddick is a petite woman in her early fifties with a warm smile.

Today she lives in a comfortable home on the outskirts of Atlanta, but this wasn’t how she spent her childhood.

She grew up in North Carolina with a violent father and an alcoholic mother.

She believes that the state used her chaotic childhood as a justification to sterilise her.

“When I was 13, I was raped. I had my beautiful son and when they cut me open, I had a caesarean, they sterilised me at the same time,” she said.

“I didn’t know anything about it until I was 19. I got married and tried to have a child. The doctor told me I had been butchered.”

Eugenics movement
It sounds like a story from the dark ages but this happened less than 40 years ago. And it happened in the US.

Whilst the feminist movement was gaining ground on both sides of the Atlantic, across poor America their ‘sisters’ were victims of sterilisation laws, which had their foundations in the eugenics movement.

This year marks the centenary of the first eugenics laws passed in the United States.

Policies were drawn up in over 30 states in the US to sterilise women, men and children who were considered to be physically, mentally or morally ‘defective’.

But in reality the majority of those who were sterilized were simply poor women.

Few have ever spoken about what happened because of embarrassment and shame.

Speaking out
But with her only son, Tony, by her side, Elaine Riddick has chosen to speak out about what happened to her.

“I think they saw it as a way to control me. They saw my parents were not available, so the state of North Carolina decided that they were going to sterilise me. I did nothing wrong.

“Now I’m healing a little bit I can talk about this. I can look you in the eye. I am not feeble minded. That’s the reason they gave for doing that to me.”

Between 1929 and 1974, across the state of North Carolina, more than 7600 men, women and children were sterilised.

Documents from the state’s eugenics board reveal how for nearly 50 years this unelected body authorised 90% of all sterilisation cases brought before it.

Social workers used gossip in their reports for the Eugenics Board.

Elaine Riddick’s form refers to “community reports that she was ‘running around’ late at night” and her “promisicuity” and her “inability to control herself” constituted grounds for sterilisation.

By the late 1960s, ironically as the Civil Rights movement grew, North Carolina began to target its Black population.

More than 60% of those sterilized were black women and girls like Elaine Riddick.

Records show that in North Carolina out of the 7,000 sterilisations less than 500 took place with the clear consent of the patient. The vast majority were much more complicated.

State records, seen by Winston Salem Journal reporter John Railey, reveal cases where parents who were abusing their children would then agree to their sterilization.

“You have a sick cycle. The father was committing incest and was given the right of consent for her sterilisation.

“The state is victimising the children who have already been victimised by their parents.”

State records conservatively estimate that between 1943 and 1963, over 63,000 people were sterilized under the eugenics laws in America.

Whilst five states, including North Carolina, have issued apologies for the sterilisations carried out under eugenics laws, the federal government has never acknowledged that any sterilisation abuses have ever taken place.

Paul Lombardo is professor of Law at Georgia State University and he has devoted himself to this issue for the past 27 years.

He believes that it is a shameful history, and one that needs to be openly recognised.

But at the moment that doesn’t seem likely.

“I hear from time to time from women who have been sterilised against their will, the difficulty is documentation,” he said.

“Even when there are records, when you ask them to come forward, being sterilised isn’t something that people want to broadcast, so they stay hidden.”

But until there is recognition that this happened, Elaine Riddick says today there is still no reason for other women to tell their stories.

“I can understand why they won’t come forward, because they don’t want their next door neighbour to know this happened. I felt same way. I have resentment – I will always have it for my Government.

“That’s just how I feel. Angry. You took something away from me and you can never give it back.”

Gay flamingos pick up chick
May 21, 2007

LONDON – A pair of gay flamingos have adopted an abandoned chick, becoming parents after being together for six years, a British conservation organisation said Monday.

Carlos and Fernando had been desperate to start a family, even chasing other flamingos from their nests to take over their eggs at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Slimbridge near Bristol.

But their egg-sitting prowess made them the top choice for taking an unhatched egg under their wings when one of the Greater Flamingo nests was abandoned.

The couple, together for six years, can feed chicks by producing milk in their throats.

“Fernando and Carlos are a same sex couple who have been known to steal other flamingos’ eggs by chasing them off their nest because they wanted to rear them themselves,” said WWT spokeswoman Jane Waghorn.

“They were rather good at sitting on eggs and hatching them so last week, when a nest was abandoned, it seemed like a good idea to make them surrogate parents.”

Gay flamingos are not uncommon, she added.

“If there aren’t enough females or they don’t hit it off with them, they will pair off with other males,” she said.

that settles it… if God created everything, and two same-sex flamingos are allowed to live together, then God must have created gay marriage. period.


somebody wrote to me within the last 30 minutes, asking for details about my sindarian font. instead of hitting “reply” i accidentally hit “delete” so i can’t respond. if you write to me again, i promise i won’t delete your message, and i’ll respond instead.

this has gotten to be so much of an issue with me that i have actually removed the “delete” button from the toolbar and replaced it with a “move message to trash” button, so i can catch it if i accidentally hit the wrong button in the future… 8/


National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive
May 9, 2007



Subject: National Continuity Policy


(1) This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes “National Essential Functions,” prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.


(2) In this directive:

(a) “Category” refers to the categories of executive departments and agencies listed in Annex A to this directive;

(b) “Catastrophic Emergency” means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;

(c) “Continuity of Government,” or “COG,” means a coordinated effort within the Federal Government’s executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency;

(d) “Continuity of Operations,” or “COOP,” means an effort within individual executive departments and agencies to ensure that Primary Mission-Essential Functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies;

(e) “Enduring Constitutional Government,” or “ECG,” means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;

(f) “Executive Departments and Agencies” means the executive departments enumerated in 5 U.S.C. 101, independent establishments as defined by 5 U.S.C. 104(1), Government corporations as defined by 5 U.S.C. 103(1), and the United States Postal Service;

(g) “Government Functions” means the collective functions of the heads of executive departments and agencies as defined by statute, regulation, presidential direction, or other legal authority, and the functions of the legislative and judicial branches;

(h) “National Essential Functions,” or “NEFs,” means that subset of Government Functions that are necessary to lead and sustain the Nation during a catastrophic emergency and that, therefore, must be supported through COOP and COG capabilities; and

(i) “Primary Mission Essential Functions,” or “PMEFs,” means those Government Functions that must be performed in order to support or implement the performance of NEFs before, during, and in the aftermath of an emergency.


(3) It is the policy of the United States to maintain a comprehensive and effective continuity capability composed of Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government programs in order to ensure the preservation of our form of government under the Constitution and the continuing performance of National Essential Functions under all conditions.

Implementation Actions

(4) Continuity requirements shall be incorporated into daily operations of all executive departments and agencies. As a result of the asymmetric threat environment, adequate warning of potential emergencies that could pose a significant risk to the homeland might not be available, and therefore all continuity planning shall be based on the assumption that no such warning will be received. Emphasis will be placed upon geographic dispersion of leadership, staff, and infrastructure in order to increase survivability and maintain uninterrupted Government Functions. Risk management principles shall be applied to ensure that appropriate operational readiness decisions are based on the probability of an attack or other incident and its consequences.

(5) The following NEFs are the foundation for all continuity programs and capabilities and represent the overarching responsibilities of the Federal Government to lead and sustain the Nation during a crisis, and therefore sustaining the following NEFs shall be the primary focus of

the Federal Government leadership during and in the aftermath of an emergency that adversely affects the performance of Government Functions:

(a) Ensuring the continued functioning of our form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of the three separate branches of government;

(b) Providing leadership visible to the Nation and the world and maintaining the trust and confidence of the American people;

(c) Defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and preventing or interdicting attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests;

(d) Maintaining and fostering effective relationships with foreign nations;

(e) Protecting against threats to the homeland and bringing to justice perpetrators of crimes or attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests;

(f) Providing rapid and effective response to and recovery from the domestic consequences of an attack or other incident;

(g) Protecting and stabilizing the Nation’s economy and ensuring public confidence in its financial systems; and

(h) Providing for critical Federal Government services that address the national health, safety, and welfare needs of the United States.

(6) The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator. The National Continuity Coordinator, in coordination with the Assistant to the President for National

Security Affairs (APNSA), without exercising directive authority, shall coordinate the development and implementation of continuity policy for executive departments and agencies. The Continuity Policy Coordination Committee (CPCC), chaired by a Senior Director from the Homeland Security Council staff, designated by the National Continuity Coordinator, shall be the main day-to-day forum for such policy coordination.

(7) For continuity purposes, each executive department and agency is assigned to a category in accordance with the nature and characteristics of its national security roles and

responsibilities in support of the Federal Government’s ability to sustain the NEFs. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall serve as the President’s lead agent for coordinating overall

continuity operations and activities of executive departments and agencies, and in such role shall perform the responsibilities set forth for the Secretary in sections 10 and 16 of this directive.

(8) The National Continuity Coordinator, in consultation with the heads of appropriate executive departments and agencies, will lead the development of a National Continuity Implementation Plan (Plan), which shall include prioritized goals and objectives, a concept of operations, performance metrics by which to measure continuity readiness, procedures for continuity and incident management activities, and clear direction to executive department and agency continuity coordinators, as well as guidance to promote interoperability of Federal Government continuity programs and procedures with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate. The Plan shall be submitted to the President for approval not later than 90 days after the date of this directive.

(9) Recognizing that each branch of the Federal Government is responsible for its own continuity programs, an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall ensure that the executive branch’s COOP and COG policies in support of ECG efforts are appropriately coordinated with those of

the legislative and judicial branches in order to ensure interoperability and allocate national assets efficiently to maintain a functioning Federal Government.

(10) Federal Government COOP, COG, and ECG plans and operations shall be appropriately integrated with the emergency plans and capabilities of State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to promote interoperability and to prevent redundancies and conflicting lines of authority. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall coordinate the integration of Federal continuity plans and operations with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to provide for the delivery of essential services during an emergency.

(11) Continuity requirements for the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and executive departments and agencies shall include the following:

(a) The continuation of the performance of PMEFs during any emergency must be for a period up to 30 days or until normal operations can be resumed, and the capability to be fully operational at alternate sites as soon as possible after the occurrence of an emergency, but not later than 12 hours after COOP activation;

(b) Succession orders and pre-planned devolution of authorities that ensure the emergency delegation of authority must be planned and documented in advance in accordance with applicable law;

(c) Vital resources, facilities, and records must be safeguarded, and official access to them must be provided;

(d) Provision must be made for the acquisition of the resources necessary for continuity operations on an emergency basis;

(e) Provision must be made for the availability and redundancy of critical communications capabilities at alternate sites in order to support connectivity between

and among key government leadership, internal elements, other executive departments and agencies, critical partners, and the public;

(f) Provision must be made for reconstitution capabilities that allow for recovery from a catastrophic emergency and resumption of normal operations; and

(g) Provision must be made for the identification, training, and preparedness of personnel capable of relocating to alternate facilities to support the continuation of the performance of PMEFs.

(12) In order to provide a coordinated response to escalating threat levels or actual emergencies, the Continuity of Government Readiness Conditions (COGCON) system establishes executive branch continuity program readiness levels, focusing

on possible threats to the National Capital Region. The President will determine and issue the COGCON Level. Executive departments and agencies shall comply with the requirements and

assigned responsibilities under the COGCON program. During COOP activation, executive departments and agencies shall report their readiness status to the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Secretary’s designee.

(13) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall:

(a) Conduct an annual assessment of executive department and agency continuity funding requests and performance data that are submitted by executive departments and agencies as part of the annual budget request process, in order to monitor progress in the implementation of the Plan and the execution of continuity budgets;

(b) In coordination with the National Continuity Coordinator, issue annual continuity planning guidance for the development of continuity budget requests; and

(c) Ensure that heads of executive departments and agencies prioritize budget resources for continuity capabilities, consistent with this directive.

(14) The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall:

(a) Define and issue minimum requirements for continuity communications for executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the APHS/CT, the APNSA, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chief of Staff to the President;

(b) Establish requirements for, and monitor the development, implementation, and maintenance of, a comprehensive communications architecture to integrate continuity components, in consultation with the APHS/CT, the APNSA, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chief of Staff to the President; and

(c) Review quarterly and annual assessments of continuity communications capabilities, as prepared pursuant to section 16(d) of this directive or otherwise, and report the results and recommended remedial actions to the National Continuity Coordinator.

(15) An official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall:

(a) Advise the President, the Chief of Staff to the President, the APHS/CT, and the APNSA on COGCON operational execution options; and

(b) Consult with the Secretary of Homeland Security in order to ensure synchronization and integration of continuity activities among the four categories of executive departments and agencies.

(16) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall:

(a) Coordinate the implementation, execution, and assessment of continuity operations and activities;

(b) Develop and promulgate Federal Continuity Directives in order to establish continuity planning requirements for executive departments and agencies;

(c) Conduct biennial assessments of individual department and agency continuity capabilities as prescribed by the Plan and report the results to the President through the APHS/CT;

(d) Conduct quarterly and annual assessments of continuity communications capabilities in consultation with an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President;

(e) Develop, lead, and conduct a Federal continuity training and exercise program, which shall be incorporated into the National Exercise Program developed pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive-8 of December 17, 2003 (“National Preparedness”), in consultation with an

official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President;

(f) Develop and promulgate continuity planning guidance to State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators;

(g) Make available continuity planning and exercise funding, in the form of grants as provided by law, to State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators; and

(h) As Executive Agent of the National Communications System, develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive continuity communications architecture.

(17) The Director of National Intelligence, in coordination with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall produce a biennial assessment of the foreign and domestic threats to the Nation’s continuity of government.

(18) The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall provide secure, integrated, Continuity of Government communications to the President, the Vice President, and, at a minimum, Category I executive departments and agencies.

(19) Heads of executive departments and agencies shall execute their respective department or agency COOP plans in response to a localized emergency and shall:

(a) Appoint a senior accountable official, at the Assistant Secretary level, as the Continuity Coordinator for the department or agency;

(b) Identify and submit to the National Continuity Coordinator the list of PMEFs for the department or agency and develop continuity plans in support of the NEFs and the continuation of essential functions under all conditions;

(c) Plan, program, and budget for continuity capabilities consistent with this directive;

(d) Plan, conduct, and support annual tests and training, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, in order to evaluate program readiness and ensure adequacy and viability of continuity plans and communications systems; and

(e) Support other continuity requirements, as assigned by category, in accordance with the nature and characteristics of its national security roles and responsibilities

General Provisions

(20) This directive shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 U.S.C. 19), with consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved. Heads of executive departments and agencies shall ensure that appropriate

support is available to the Vice President and others involved as necessary to be prepared at all times to implement those provisions.

(21) This directive:

(a) Shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and the authorities of agencies, or heads of agencies, vested by law, and subject to the availability of appropriations;

(b) Shall not be construed to impair or otherwise affect (i) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, and legislative proposals, or (ii) the authority of the Secretary of Defense over the Department of Defense, including the chain of command for military forces from the President, to the Secretary of Defense, to the commander of military forces, or military command and control procedures; and

(c) Is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its

agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(22) Revocation. Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998 (“Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations”), including all Annexes thereto, is hereby revoked.

(23) Annex A and the classified Continuity Annexes, attached hereto, are hereby incorporated into and made a part of this directive.

(24) Security. This directive and the information contained herein shall be protected from unauthorized disclosure, provided that, except for Annex A, the Annexes attached to this directive are classified and shall be accorded appropriate handling, consistent with applicable Executive Orders.


in short, if some sort of "catastrophe" strikes our country, george "catastrophe" bush will become dictator


In an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way,
in its own perfect time, for the highest good of all,
I intend $1,000,000 to come into my life
and into the lives of everyone who holds this intention.

$120 – today
$1001.84 – TOTAL


nelson sings nilsson is now, for all intents and purposes, history. the two shows went very well indeed, but for this performance, that’s not much of a surprise. i have never worked with what is essentially a “pickup” band of more than 20 musicians who was more “together” as a group than this one. we sit down to “rehearse” and we play one song, and then we play it again and it’s exactly the same – the notes, the pitches, the inflections… EVERYTHING is exactly the same from one playing to the next. i’ve never played with another group of musicians who had that quality before. of course, there was a marimba last night, that we didn’t have the last time, and the trombone player that was there last time wasn’t there this time, but it went extremely well in spite of those things. the CD still isn’t released, but it’s done, and it’s just a matter of time before it gets released by someone.


City Police Spied Broadly Before G.O.P. Convention
March 25, 2007

Correction Appended

For at least a year before the 2004 Republican National Convention, teams of undercover New York City police officers traveled to cities across the country, Canada and Europe to conduct covert observations of people who planned to protest at the convention, according to police records and interviews.

From Albuquerque to Montreal, San Francisco to Miami, undercover New York police officers attended meetings of political groups, posing as sympathizers or fellow activists, the records show.

They made friends, shared meals, swapped e-mail messages and then filed daily reports with the department’s Intelligence Division. Other investigators mined Internet sites and chat rooms.

From these operations, run by the department’s “R.N.C. Intelligence Squad,” the police identified a handful of groups and individuals who expressed interest in creating havoc during the convention, as well as some who used Web sites to urge or predict violence.

But potential troublemakers were hardly the only ones to end up in the files. In hundreds of reports stamped “N.Y.P.D. Secret,” the Intelligence Division chronicled the views and plans of people who had no apparent intention of breaking the law, the records show.

These included members of street theater companies, church groups and antiwar organizations, as well as environmentalists and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies. Three New York City elected officials were cited in the reports.

In at least some cases, intelligence on what appeared to be lawful activity was shared with police departments in other cities. A police report on an organization of artists called Bands Against Bush noted that the group was planning concerts on Oct. 11, 2003, in New York, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston. Between musical sets, the report said, there would be political speeches and videos.

“Activists are showing a well-organized network made up of anti-Bush sentiment; the mixing of music and political rhetoric indicates sophisticated organizing skills with a specific agenda,” said the report, dated Oct. 9, 2003. “Police departments in above listed areas have been contacted regarding this event.”

Police records indicate that in addition to sharing information with other police departments, New York undercover officers were active themselves in at least 15 places outside New York — including California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montreal, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C. — and in Europe.

The operation was mounted in 2003 after the Police Department, invoking the fresh horrors of the World Trade Center attack and the prospect of future terrorism, won greater authority from a federal judge to investigate political organizations for criminal activity.

To date, as the boundaries of the department’s expanded powers continue to be debated, police officials have provided only glimpses of its intelligence-gathering.

Now, the broad outlines of the pre-convention operations are emerging from records in federal lawsuits that were brought over mass arrests made during the convention, and in greater detail from still-secret reports reviewed by The New York Times. These include a sample of raw intelligence documents and of summary digests of observations from both the field and the department’s cyberintelligence unit.

Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the Police Department, confirmed that the operation had been wide-ranging, and said it had been an essential part of the preparations for the huge crowds that came to the city during the convention.

“Detectives collected information both in-state and out-of-state to learn in advance what was coming our way,” Mr. Browne said. When the detectives went out of town, he said, the department usually alerted the local authorities by telephone or in person.

Under a United States Supreme Court ruling, undercover surveillance of political groups is generally legal, but the police in New York — like those in many other big cities — have operated under special limits as a result of class-action lawsuits filed over police monitoring of civil rights and antiwar groups during the 1960s. The limits in New York are known as the Handschu guidelines, after the lead plaintiff, Barbara Handschu.

“All our activities were legal and were subject in advance to Handschu review,” Mr. Browne said.

Before monitoring political activity, the police must have “some indication of unlawful activity on the part of the individual or organization to be investigated,” United States District Court Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. said in a ruling last month.

Christopher Dunn, the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which represents seven of the 1,806 people arrested during the convention, said the Police Department stepped beyond the law in its covert surveillance program.

“The police have no authority to spy on lawful political activity, and this wide-ranging N.Y.P.D. program was wrong and illegal,” Mr. Dunn said. “In the coming weeks, the city will be required to disclose to us many more details about its preconvention surveillance of groups and activists, and many will be shocked by the breadth of the Police Department’s political surveillance operation.”

The Police Department said those complaints were overblown.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the convention lawsuits are scheduled to begin depositions of David Cohen, the deputy police commissioner for intelligence. Mr. Cohen, a former senior official at the Central Intelligence Agency, was “central to the N.Y.P.D.’s efforts to collect intelligence information prior to the R.N.C.,” Gerald C. Smith, an assistant corporation counsel with the city Law Department, said in a federal court filing.

Balancing Safety and Surveillance

For nearly four decades, the city, civil liberties lawyers and the Police Department have fought in federal court over how to balance public safety, free speech and the penetrating but potentially disruptive force of police surveillance.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Raymond W. Kelly, who became police commissioner in January 2002, “took the position that the N.Y.P.D. could no longer rely on the federal government alone, and that the department had to build an intelligence capacity worthy of the name,” Mr. Browne said.

Mr. Cohen contended that surveillance of domestic political activities was essential to fighting terrorism. “Given the range of activities that may be engaged in by the members of a sleeper cell in the long period of preparation for an act of terror, the entire resources of the N.Y.P.D. must be available to conduct investigations into political activity and intelligence-related issues,” Mr. Cohen wrote in an affidavit dated Sept. 12, 2002.

In February 2003, the Police Department, with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s support, was given broad new authority by Judge Haight to conduct such monitoring. However, a senior police official must still determine that there is some indication of illegal activity before an inquiry is begun.

An investigation by the Intelligence Division led to the arrest — coincidentally, three days before the convention — of a man who spoke about bombing the Herald Square subway station. In another initiative, detectives were stationed in Europe and the Middle East to quickly funnel information back to New York.

When the city was designated in February 2003 as the site of the 2004 Republican National Convention, the department had security worries — in particular about the possibility of a truck bomb attack near Madison Square Garden, where events would be held — and logistical concerns about managing huge crowds, Mr. Browne said.

“We also prepared to contend with a relatively small group of self-described anarchists who vowed to prevent delegates from participating in the convention or otherwise disrupt the convention by various means, including vandalism,” Mr. Browne said. “Our goal was to safeguard delegates, demonstrators and the general public alike.”

In its preparations, the department applied the intelligence resources that had just been strengthened for fighting terrorism to an entirely different task: collecting information on people participating in political protests.

In the records reviewed by The Times, some of the police intelligence concerned people and groups bent on causing trouble, but the bulk of the reports covered the plans and views of people with no obvious intention of breaking the law.

By searching the Internet, investigators identified groups that were making plans for demonstrations. Files were created on their political causes, the criminal records, if any, of the people involved and any plans for civil disobedience or disruptive tactics.

From the field, undercover officers filed daily accounts of their observations on forms known as DD5s that called for descriptions of the gatherings, the leaders and participants, and the groups’ plans.

Inside the police Intelligence Division, daily reports from both the field and the Web were summarized in bullet format. These digests — marked “Secret” — were circulated weekly under the heading “Key Findings.”

Perceived Threats

On Jan. 6, 2004, the intelligence digest noted that an antigentrification group in Montreal claimed responsibility for hoax bombs that had been planted at construction sites of luxury condominiums, stating that the purpose was to draw attention to the homeless. The group was linked to a band of anarchist-communists whose leader had visited New York, according to the report.

Other digests noted a planned campaign of “electronic civil disobedience” to jam fax machines and hack into Web sites. Participants at a conference were said to have discussed getting inside delegates’ hotels by making hair salon appointments or dinner reservations. At the same conference, people were reported to have discussed disabling charter buses and trying to confuse delegates by switching subway directional signs, or by sealing off stations with crime-scene tape.

A Syracuse peace group intended to block intersections, a report stated. Other reports mentioned past demonstrations where various groups used nails and ball bearings as weapons and threw balloons filled with urine or other foul liquids.

The police also kept track of Richard Picariello, a man who had been convicted in 1978 of politically motivated bombings in Massachusetts, Mr. Browne said.

At the other end of the threat spectrum was Joshua Kinberg, a graduate student at Parsons School of Design and the subject of four pages of intelligence reports, including two pictures. For his master’s thesis project, Mr. Kinberg devised a “wireless bicycle” equipped with cellphone, laptop and spray tubes that could squirt messages received over the Internet onto the sidewalk or street.

The messages were printed in water-soluble chalk, a tactic meant to avoid a criminal mischief charge for using paint, an intelligence report noted. Mr. Kinberg’s bicycle was “capable of transferring activist-based messages on streets and sidewalks,” according to a report on July 22, 2004.

“This bicycle, having been built for the sole purpose of protesting during the R.N.C., is capable of spraying anti-R.N.C.-type messages on surrounding streets and sidewalks, also supplying the rider with a quick vehicle of escape,” the report said. Mr. Kinberg, then 25, was arrested during a television interview with Ron Reagan for MSNBC’s “Hardball” program during the convention. He was released a day later, but his equipment was held for more than a year.

Mr. Kinberg said Friday that after his arrest, detectives with the terrorism task force asked if he knew of any plans for violence. “I’m an artist,” he said. “I know other artists, who make T-shirts and signs.”

He added: “There’s no reason I should have been placed on any kind of surveillance status. It affected me, my ability to exercise free speech, and the ability of thousands of people who were sending in messages for the bike, to exercise their free speech.”

New Faces in Their Midst

A vast majority of several hundred reports reviewed by The Times, including field reports and the digests, described groups that gave no obvious sign of wrongdoing. The intelligence noted that one group, the “Man- and Woman-in-Black Bloc,” planned to protest outside a party at Sotheby’s for Tennessee’s Republican delegates with Johnny Cash’s career as its theme.

The satirical performance troupe Billionaires for Bush, which specializes in lampooning the Bush administration by dressing in tuxedos and flapper gowns, was described in an intelligence digest on Jan. 23, 2004.

“Billionaires for Bush is an activist group forged as a mockery of the current president and political policies,” the report said. “Preliminary intelligence indicates that this group is raising funds for expansion and support of anti-R.N.C. activist organizations.”

Marco Ceglie, who performs as Monet Oliver dePlace in Billionaires for Bush, said he had suspected that the group was under surveillance by federal agents — not necessarily police officers — during weekly meetings in a downtown loft and at events around the country in the summer of 2004.

“It was a running joke that some of the new faces were 25- to 32-year-old males asking, ‘First name, last name?’ ” Mr. Ceglie said. “Some people didn’t care; it bothered me and a couple of other leaders, but we didn’t want to make a big stink because we didn’t want to look paranoid. We applied to the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act to see if there’s a file, but the answer came back that ‘we cannot confirm or deny.’ ”

The Billionaires try to avoid provoking arrests, Mr. Ceglie said.

Others — who openly planned civil disobedience, with the expectation of being arrested — said they assumed they were under surveillance, but had nothing to hide. “Some of the groups were very concerned about infiltration,” said Ed Hedemann of the War Resisters League, a pacifist organization founded in 1923. “We weren’t. We had open meetings.”

The war resisters publicly announced plans for a “die-in” at Madison Square Garden. They were arrested two minutes after they began a silent march from the World Trade Center site. The charges were dismissed.

The sponsors of an event planned for Jan. 15, 2004, in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday were listed in one of the reports, which noted that it was a protest against “the R.N.C., the war in Iraq and the Bush administration.” It mentioned that three members of the City Council at the time, Charles Barron, Bill Perkins and Larry B. Seabrook, “have endorsed this event.”

Others supporting it, the report said, were the New York City AIDS Housing Network, the Arab Muslim American Foundation, Activists for the Liberation of Palestine, Queers for Peace and Justice and the 1199 Bread and Roses Cultural Project.

Many of the 1,806 people arrested during the convention were held for up to two days on minor offenses normally handled with a summons; the city Law Department said the preconvention intelligence justified detaining them all for fingerprinting.

Mr. Browne said that 18 months of preparation by the police had allowed hundreds of thousands of people to demonstrate while also ensuring that the Republican delegates were able to hold their convention with relatively few disruptions.

“We attributed the successful policing of the convention to a host of N.Y.P.D. activities leading up to the R.N.C., including 18 months of intensive planning,” he said. “It was a great success, and despite provocations, such as demonstrators throwing faux feces in the faces of police officers, the N.Y.P.D. showed professionalism and restraint.”

Correction: March 26, 2007:
A picture caption yesterday with the continuation of a front-page article about broad spying by the New York City police on people expected to protest in the city during the 2004 Republican National Convention referred incorrectly in some copies to the disposition of the property of one protester, Joshua Kinberg, who devised a bicycle equipped with cellphone, laptop and tubes that could spray the ground with messages in chalk. The spraying apparatus — not the bicycle — was held for more than a year before being returned; Mr. Kinberg says the authorities have still not returned his bicycle.

"Web site" baffles Internet terrorism trial judge
May 17, 2007
By Mark Trevelyan

LONDON (Reuters) – A British judge admitted on Wednesday he was struggling to cope with basic terms like “Web site” in the trial of three men accused of inciting terrorism via the Internet.

Judge Peter Openshaw broke into the questioning of a witness about a Web forum used by alleged Islamist radicals.

“The trouble is I don’t understand the language. I don’t really understand what a Web site is,” he told a London court during the trial of three men charged under anti-terrorism laws.

Prosecutor Mark Ellison briefly set aside his questioning to explain the terms “Web site” and “forum.” An exchange followed in which the 59-year-old judge acknowledged: “I haven’t quite grasped the concepts.”

Violent Islamist material posted on the Internet, including beheadings of Western hostages, is central to the case.

Concluding Wednesday’s session and looking ahead to testimony Thursday by a computer expert, the judge told Ellison: “Will you ask him to keep it simple, we’ve got to start from basics.”

Younes Tsouli, 23, Waseem Mughal, 24, and Tariq al-Daour, 21, deny a range of charges under Britain’s Terrorism Act, including inciting another person to commit an act of terrorism “wholly or partly” outside Britain.

Tsouli and Mughal also deny conspiracy to murder. Al-Daour has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with others to defraud banks, credit card and charge card companies.

Prosecutors have told the jury at Woolwich Crown Court, east London, that the defendants kept car-bomb-making manuals and videos of how to wire suicide vests as part of a campaign to promote global jihad, or holy war.

Vet Prosecuted for Protesting Military Recruitment in Library
A veteran and his wife started putting up 3×5 cards on the window of the room used by recruiters in a library. Then the police came.
May 17, 2007
By Matthew Rothschild

Tim Coli served in the first Gulf War and now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

On March 12, he and his wife, Yvette, went to the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library in Ohio. At 37, she is a student at Kent State and needed to study for a biology test. Tim, 40, was reading some books.

Then they noticed two military recruiters trying to enlist someone in a nearby room, with a large glass window.

She decided to take action.

She took out some 3×5 cards and wrote messages to the man being recruited and then put them up on the window sill.

“Don’t fall for it! Military recruiters lie,” said one.

“It’s not honorable to fight for a lying President,” said another.

She says she cleared it all first.

“Before I put those cards up, I went to a volunteer and I asked her if it was OK if I put those cards up in the window, and she said she didn’t have a problem with that but talk to someone who works there,” Yvette says. “The next person said it was fine so long as there is no confrontation. And she said, ‘Between you and I, I wish they weren’t here, either.’ ”

The recruiters were none too happy with the cards.

One of them came out and asked Coil who put them up.

When she admitted she had, he asked for her name, which she didn’t give him.

He told her that she and her husband couldn’t put the cards up.

“My husband asked him if he was trying to keep us from using our freedom of speech,” Coil says.

He didn’t answer that, she says, but he did tell her again to stop.

He took the cards and went to find the library director.

In the meantime, Coil put some more card on the sill:

“Don’t do it.”

“My husband is a Gulf War Veteran. He can tell you the truth”

“To the military, you are cannon fodder.”

“Recruiters: You’re fighting for my freedom of speech, too!”

The library director, Doug Dotterer, told them that if they put up one more card, he was going to ask them to leave, Coil says. He told them they couldn’t display things that were disturbing other people in the library. She told him that the Army had its brochures out on a nearby table, and they were disturbing her, she says.

“My husband said that the library was a public place and we are allowed our freedom of speech,” Coil says. “The director said it was his library, and so we would have to follow his rules.”

When he left, they knocked on the window and urged the man being recruited not to join up.

Soon the police arrived.

They asked the Coils to leave the building.

“We said, ‘Gladly,’ ” Yvette recalls.

But on his way out, Tim called the director a name.

“One more word from you and I’ll arrest you,” the police officer told Tim.

Then Tim shouted, “Don’t let the military recruit people in the library.”

Whereupon the police arrested him and took him to the station and booked him for disorderly conduct. A little while later, Yvette came and picked him up.

The district attorney did not return phone calls for comment.

Library Director Dotterer would not talk except to say: “I contacted my board president, who is an attorney, and he indicated that because this is an ongoing case we’re not going to comment. What I would refer you to are the official police reports.”

The police report says Coil was arrested for “causing a disturbance within a library.”

At an April 30 pretrial meeting, Coil was asked if he wanted to make a plea and settle the whole thing.

“No, I’m not guilty,” he said, according to his wife.

She explains: “We’re Mennonite. To lie about that would be wrong. I don’t want him to go to jail. Neither does he. He doesn’t need that. But I believe that God’s going to take care of it. We’re OK with whatever happens. The point is if we don’t stand for these freedoms and we don’t allow ourselves to be put on the line for those things, there won’t be an option anymore.”

Attorney William Whitaker is representing the Coils.

“If a statute punishes this conduct, then that statute is unconstitutional since it sweeps protected speech within its orbit,” he says. “They were engaged in protected First Amendment speech. It’s legitimate to use the public library in the same way that the recruiters were using it.”

On May 10, Yvette Coil says that her lawyer was advised that the state would drop charges if they would pay $100 in court fees.

“Tim said he should not have to pay for being harassed,” says Yvette. “No one has the right to take your freedoms away.”

The case is scheduled for June 5.


Microsoft declares war on free software – are they just learning about it now, or what? this just seems to be the latest in a long string of events like this that microsnot has engaged in, over at least ten years i can think of, to bring linux in line with the microsnot business model… and from the way it’s starting out, i would guess that it’s going to be as successful as the last thing they tried.

Liberty University Student Affairs: Reprimands and Consequences – this will be my last word on jerry falwell, ever: i’m glad this wasn’t in force at my college, because i would have been expelled even before taking up residence. can they really get away with shit like this at a private university? i mean, doesn’t the bill of rights exist for liberty university students?


The true Negro does not want integration… He realizes his potential is far better among his own race… It will destroy our race eventually…In one northern city, a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife… It boils down to whether we are going to take God’s Word as final.

Jerry Falwell in 1958

the world is now one fewer fat, bigoted, ignorant, backward, self-aggrandising, televangelistic whore, and i, for one, will not miss him in the slightest.

on the other hand, i mourn the loss of Yolanda King a lot more.

Daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. Dies
Yolanda King, Daughter and Eldest Child of Martin Luther King Jr., Dies at Age 51
May 16, 2007

Yolanda Denise King, daughter and eldest child of civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has died, said Steve Klein, a spokesman for the King Center.

King died late Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 51. Klein said the family did not know the cause of death but that relatives think it might have been a heart problem.

The actor, speaker and producer was the founder and head of Higher Ground Productions, billed as a “gateway for inner peace, unity and global transformation.” On her company’s Web site, King described her mission as encouraging personal growth and positive social change.

King was also an author and advocate for peace and nonviolence, and held memberships in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which her father co-founded in 1957 and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Her death comes more than a year after the death of her mother, Coretta Scott King.

She appeared in numerous films and played Rosa Parks in the 1978 miniseries “King.” She also appeared in “Ghosts of Mississippi,” and founded a production company called Higher Ground Productions.

Born in 1955 in Montgomery, Ala., King was just an infant when her home was bombed during the turbulent civil rights era.

She was the most visible and outspoken among the Kings’ four children during activities honoring this year’s Martin Luther King Day in January, the first since Coretta Scott King’s death.

At her father’s former Atlanta church, Ebenezer Baptist, she performed a series of one-actor skits on King Day this year that told stories including a girl’s first ride on a desegregated bus and a college student’s recollection of the 1963 desegregation of Birmingham, Ala.

She also urged the audience at Ebenezer to be a force for peace and love, and to use the King holiday each year to ask tough questions about their own beliefs on prejudice.

“We must keep reaching across the table and, in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, feed each other,” King said.

When asked then by The Associated Press how she was dealing with the loss of her mother, King responded: “I connected with her spirit so strongly. I am in direct contact with her spirit, and that has given me so much peace and so much strength.”

A flag at The King Center, which King’s mother founded in 1968 and where she was a board member, was lowered to half-staff on Wednesday.

Yolanda King is survived by her sister, the Rev. Bernice A. King; two brothers, Martin Luther King III and Dexter Scott King; and an extended family.

Arrangements were to be announced later, the family said in a statement.


so ezra graduated from college yesterday, and i was so busy with other things that i completely missed jerry falwell’s death. more on that later.


ezra graduated from college yesterday. that’s so unreal for me to realise, in so many ways… it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that i was sitting, holding a tiny baby in my arms on garden street in bellingham. it doesn’t seem like that long ago that he was graduating from high school and i was in the midst of a legal battle with his mother, and i was working as a test lead at openwave… and that’s all before my injury and everything that came after that… so totally unreal. and yet i’m so proud of him, if for no other reason than he bucked the odds and graduated from college in spite of his mother and i, who both dropped out of college… among other things. there are pictures of the graduation ceremony and stuff, including a picture of the psycho hose-beast from hell, who said her first civil word to me since ezra was 14 years old.

ezra & salamandir

the psycho hose-beast from hell
she’d go nuts if she knew i had actually posted a picture of her on internet, which is the primary reason this picture is here


ezra graduates from college today. whee. a chance to see my kid doing something i never did myself, as well as a chance to run into both the psycho hose-beast from hell and my parents, at the same time, all in this uncomfortable, upper-crust, snooty environment from which it will be impossible to escape without some serious explaining to do later.

and, at the same time, i wouldn’t miss it for the world, and i’ll take my camera and embarrass my son while he’s on stage, because i’m so proud of him. 8)


and they wondered how dylan and klebold stashed so many weapons that nobody seemed to know anything about… 8/

Baby’s first FOID card
Firearm Owner’s Identification card issued to 10-month-old baby
May 13, 2007
By Howard Ludwig

My 10-month-old son has the cutest FOID card.

Howard David Ludwig — affectionately nicknamed Bubba — received his state-issued Firearm Owner’s Identification Card two weeks ago.

The wallet-size card arrived in the mail about a month after his dear ol’ dad correctly completed the online form and sent the $5 fee.

As a FOID cardholder, baby Bubba can own a firearm and ammunition in Illinois. He can also legally transport an unloaded weapon — though he can’t walk yet, so that’s not an issue.

The plastic card has a picture of a toothless, grinning Bubba in the upper right corner. It includes his name, address and date of birth.

The FOID card lists his height (2 feet, 3 inches), and his weight (20 pounds).

His signature is superimposed at the bottom of the card. Bubba can’t sign his name, so I simply placed a pen in his hand. He made the scribble.

Why does a 10-month-old need a FOID card?

Blame Grandpa.

‘How old is the boy?’

Within weeks after Bubba’s birth, my father called with news.

“I bought him a gun,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

Grandpa Ludwig, an avid trap shooter, explained he wanted an heirloom for his first grandson. He plans to engrave his name on the trigger guard.

When the proud grandpa walked into Mega Sports in Plainfield, the salesman asked why he was buying a gun. My dad explained it would be a gift for his grandson.

“How old is the boy?” the salesman asked.

“Two weeks,” the new grandpa said.

“Don’t you think you should wait until he’s a bit older?” asked the salesman.

“Nah, best to do it now,” the eager customer replied.

About an hour later, my dad walked out of the suburban gun shop with a receipt for a 12-gauge Beretta. He picked up the 686-model shotgun the next day.

The Wife wasn’t excited. Despite her Texas upbringing, she’s under the impression that cloth books and footed pajamas are somehow better baby gifts than a shotgun.

I proposed a compromise.

Grandpa could keep Bubba’s gun in his gun safe. On our son’s birthday, he and Grandpa could go to the trap club for the inaugural shoot.

The Wife relented.

Expecting rejection

But what if word of this arrangement got out? I don’t want my son to be the next Tank Johnson.

I needed to take the appropriate steps to make sure Bubba became a legal gun owner. So, I logged onto the Illinois State Police Web site and printed the FOID application.

I filled out one for me and another for Bubba. Applicants younger than 21 must complete an additional section at the bottom of the one-page form. The signature of a parent or legal guardian is required.

It takes 30 days to process the application. I anxiously greeted the mail carrier the next four weeks, curious if the state police would issue a FOID card to a 10-month-old.

When it finally arrived, I found my application was approved, but Bubba was rejected. I was expecting an official letter that went something like:

Attention Father of the Year,

We are not issuing a FOID card to an infant.


The Illinois State Police

Instead, I was rejected on a technicality. I forgot to check the box confirming Bubba’s U.S. citizenship.

Undeterred, I filled out the form again and sent in another $5.

This time, I failed to check a box indicating that I was Bubba’s father. So, I filled out another form and sent in another $5.

Maybe they figured I’d give up after two failed attempts. But as a stay-at-home dad, I am used to overcoming setbacks. This was nothing compared to diaper rash.

The third time proved to be the charm.

My parents happened to be at the house when I opened the mail that day. Like a kid on Christmas, I tore into the envelope addressed to my son.

“What is it?” Grandpa asked. “Is it a check?”

“Even better,” I said, handing my dad the newly cast card.

“Oh, my God,” he said.

“But he’s a baby!” my mom exclaimed.

Baby goes to the gun club

One week later, we took our father-and-son FOID cards to the Palos Sportsman’s Club in rural Frankfort.

Bubba fell asleep in the car. Grandpa and I decided to let him nap while we shot a couple rounds. I shot a paltry 50 percent the first round and got worse from there.

Those unfamiliar with trap shooting might remember a Nintendo game called Duck Hunt. Players could opt to shoot cartoon ducks or little white discs called clay pigeons in the popular 1980s video game.

Trap shooting is the live version of shooting clay pigeons.

Bubba woke early from his nap — likely jarred by the booming buckshot overhead and grown men yelling, “Pull!” I couldn’t help but notice my shell pouch could double as a diaper bag.

I showed one of my dad’s shooting buddies Bubba’s FOID card. “Don’t you need to pass a test or something to get this?” he said.

“No,” I replied, somewhat surprised he didn’t know the 1968 Firearm Owner’s Identification Act forward and backward.

Really, there’s no reason why Bubba should not have a FOID card.

The program is designed to keep guns away from convicted felons, those convicted of domestic battery or domestic violence and anyone subject to an active Order of Protection.

My 10-month-old son hasn’t broken any of these rules — yet.

But why would the state police issue a FOID card to anyone younger than 18?

I called the state police, who said they followed the law as it’s written.

“There is nothing in the FOID Act or any of the rules that says anything about age restrictions,” said Lt. Scott Compton, of the Illinois State Police.

The state doesn’t track FOID cards based on age. However, Compton admitted it’s a rare occasion when anyone younger than 18 would need a FOID card. Say a group of 15-year-old boys wants to go hunting rabbits unsupervised. If their parents approve the hunt, then the boys would need FOID cards, Compton said.

I’m not about to approve any unsupervised hunting or trap shooting for Bubba. Still, I’m glad he was able to get his FOID card.

It makes an adorable addition to his baby book.

Howard Ludwig is a former Daily Southtown business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad. He chronicles his experience in a weekly column in Wednesday’s Life section. Ludwig can be reached at [email protected]


in the US we’re looking at the very real probability of paying $4.00 $5.00 a gallon for gasoline (apparently we’ve already hit $4.00 in some parts of the country) in the not-too-distant future. meanwhile the people from papua new guinea are driving around on coconut oil. if nothing else, it means that, when we’ve suceeded in killing ourselves off, in 10,000 years, the planet may be repopulated by descendants of those people, who had an awful lot more sense than we had… if we didn’t suceed in killing off their ancestors, by accident, as well… 8/

Papua New Guinea islanders drive their cars on coconut power
May 9, 2007

London – Residents of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea have found an indigenous solution to high-energy prices, the ubiquitous tropical fruit, coconut.

The islanders are developing mini-refineries to produce a coconut oil that can eventually replace diesel.

Residents say, coconut oil has not only made them less dependant on expensive fuel, which had to be imported onto the island, enquiries about the fuel have even come from overseas, including Iran and Europe.

Matthias Horn, a German migrant and an engineer, who is operating one the several coconut oil refineries on the island, said, the oil is not only cheap but also environment friendly.

“They sometimes refer to me as the Mad German because how can you do that to your car… filling it with some coconut juice that you normally fry your fish in,” he said.

“The coconut tree is a beautiful tree. Doesn’t it sound good if you really run your car on something which falls off a tree and that’s the good thing about it; you run your car and it smells nice and it’s environmentally friendly and that’s the main thing,” the BBC quoted him as saying.


these are two pieces that i wrote shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. i agree with them more now than i would have thought possible when i originally wrote them.

I Am Ashamed of My Country!
I do not approve of the childish behaviour of my government and my countrymen
September 18, 2001
By Bruce Salamandir-Feyrecilde

Here’s a hypothetical situation: We have a nice, modern, suburban neighborhood where few of the neighbors know each other very well. From one of the houses in this neighborhood, a small child goes across the street and gives a neighbor-kid a black eye. In a civilized society such as the one we (supposedly) live in, the neighbor-kid’s father does not normally respond by going back across the street and beating up the perpetrator’s father. Neither does the neighbor-kid’s father declare war on the whole neighborhood.

Almost every single American I’ve heard talking about the recent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC have been incensed with hatred for the perpetrators of such an attack. There has been much talk of war, or, at the very least, military reprisals against the perpetrators – even though nobody is totally sure who the perpetrators are. There has been a lot of speculation and allegations made concerning who could have done it, but so far no American news source that I know of has come up with any solid proof. The principal suspect has been the well-known terrorist Osama bin Laden, who, along with his mojahedin, was originally financed and trained by the American CIA. Not surprisingly, bin Laden has publically denied any responsibility for the recent attacks.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that it was Osama bin Laden. If the United States responds to this terrorist attack by killing Osama bin Laden, the only consequence will be that the hatred of his followers towards America will be enflamed even more than it already is, undoubtedly prompting more attacks. If bin Laden is tried in an American court, he will undoubtedly be found guilty, regardless of the evidence – one can’t have a fair trial in which the judge and jury are also the victim – and if bin Laden is imprisoned by the United States, that, too, will undoubtedly provoke more terrorist attacks from his followers who will then be demanding his release.

For most Americans, the only acceptable option has been to launch military strikes against Afghanistan, which would only succeed in causing more suffering for the hundreds of thousands of already suffering, completely innocent Afghani citizens who want to see Osama bin Laden and the Taliban driven from their country as much as the Americans do. Such attacks will have very little, if any effect at all on the followers of bin Laden and the Taliban.

Any military response from America would be exactly like the father of the kid who got the black eye going back across the street and beating up the perpetrator’s father. It would doubtless make the kid who got the black eye feel better, but it wouldn’t solve any problems – it wouldn’t create a situation where the kids didn’t give each other black eyes, and it would only generate more tension, hatred and mistrust amongst everybody involved.

And none of the American, warlike-rhetoric I’ve heard even comes close to addressing the fact that Osama bin Laden and his mojahedin were originally financed by America. Even if bin Laden was behind the attacks, anything he does comes back to being the fault of the American government who trained and financed him.

America’s freedoms aren’t threatened to the extent that we need to start talking about going to war to defend them. America has a pretty bad reputation in many parts of the world, and there are many people who would be rightly justified to hate America. Until these issues are dealt with, no amount of war will ever solve any problems. Thomas Jefferson said “Those who would give up a little freedom in exchange for peace and security deserve neither freedom nor security.” I can’t think of anywhere in the world I would prefer to live, but at this point, living in the United States scares me quite a bit.

All of these other arguments aside, America claims to be a “christian” country, claims that it’s laws are based on “biblical” truths. Sure, the bible says “an eye for an eye”, but Jesus himself supercedes that proscription (Matthew 5.38 – 40) by saying “You have heard that it is said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you that you should not resist evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wishes to sue you at the court and take away your shirt, let him have your robe also.” and (Matthew 5.43 – 45) “You have heard that it is said, Be kind to your friend, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless anyone who curses you, do good to anyone who hates you, and pray for those who carry you away by force and persecute you, so that you may become sons of your Father who is in heaven, who causes his sun to shine upon the good and the bad, and who pours down his rain upon the just and the unjust.” This is very definitely not the kind of behaviour I have ever seen from my allegedly “christian” countrymen. Now, even more than normally, I would expect people who claim to follow Jesus to be behaving in a much less violent manner than most Americans seem to be now. I fail to see how any military action against Afghanistan, or against Osama bin Laden, or against whatever perpetrator or perpetrators of the recent terrorist attacks might even remotely be considered a “blessing”, and I sincerely doubt that such behaviour will do much to help Americans “become perfect, just as [our] Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5.48)

Without question, the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington DC and elsewhere were tragic, and thousands of innocent people died as a result of these attacks, nothing can change that. However answering terrorism with more terrorism isn’t the solution to the problem. Until Americans in general start taking more responsibility for their actions, and not acting like little children who aren’t getting exactly what they want, I will not support any action taken by the American government in regards to this situation.

War is bad – I would have hoped that there are enough veterans of the conflict in Vietnam, and even from World War II, still alive that would remember how bad war really is. I also think it’s ironic that, for the past few years the American public has been bombarded by the message that gang violence is out of control, and how we should work towards reducing the amount of gang violence that exists in our country, but when something happens like the recent terrorist attacks, America’s first response is to start talking about war. Violence never solved anybody’s problems, I truly don’t understand how Americans can think that violence will be any more effective now than it ever has been.

America, your behaviour is shameful! I am ashamed and embarrassed to be an American!

The Terrorists Have Already Won This War!
By Bruce Salamandir-Feyrecilde

While a majority of Americans have been demanding “retribution” for the September 11th terrorist attacks, few Americans have stopped to consider how such retribution would reflect on our country. Obviously America already has a somewhat tarnished reputation (okay, I’m being nice here, honestly, I think America’s behaviour generally has sucked for the past century or so). If this were not the case, the terrorist attacks would never have happened in the first place. On the other hand, America has historically prided itself on its system of justice, and its personal freedoms – both of which are being totally ransacked and tossed out the window by the “retributatory” actions currently being taken.

How is America responding to the terrorist attacks? Is it responding by bringing the perpetrators to justice? No, America is responding to those who would terrorize it by terrorizing back. Instead of openly investigating the perpetrators, America is responding with cruise missiles. Instead of bringing Osama bin Laden before the world court, America is responding by sending terrorists into Afghanistan with the specific purpose of creating chaos and assasinating people. The “cowards”, some of whom were brave enough to stay in the airplane as it crashed into the World Trade Center are having “smart bombs” dropped on them by “heroes” who are far enough away that no retaliatory action taken could possibly have any effect on them. HOW “JUST” IS THAT???? Especially when our “smart bombs” have succeeded in wiping out, among other things, a hospital, residential neighborhoods, and a U.N. work crew who were clearing landmines?

How is America responding to the terrorist attacks? Is it examining the rationale behind the terrorist attacks and accepting all valid arguments? No, America is responding to those who disagree by discussing further restrictions on personal freedoms. Instead of listening to the reasons why those who hate America do so, America has essentially declared a “war on dissent”. By discussing the criminalization of “domestic terrorism”, and by drafting laws allowing “sneek and peek” warrants, and “forum shopping”, America has not only further trashed personal freedoms, but has taken a big step towards becoming a police state itself. It would be ironic if America, in the process of “defending democracy” became a police state, but, sadly, I get the very strong impression that that is exactly what is going to happen.

The terrorists themselves are likely very intelligent, although misguided people. They are clearly aware that terrorist actions are not going to be very successful at accomplishing their stated goals. However there are goals which they hope to accomplish through terrorism which they have not been so clear about, and they are accomplishing those goals with flying colours.

A lot of violent behaviour comes from a desire in the one perpetrating the violence to prove their superiority over their victim. The terrorists said they attacked the United States to try to change the political situation in Israel and Palestine, and to try to get U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia, but that was only one of their goals. Another of their goals, one which has not been so publically aired, is to prove the superiority of their version of Islam, or the superiority of their political views over those of America. They attacked America, with the specific purpose of saying “Look how stupid and insignificant America is – instead of responding like civilized human beings, they’re going to start a war with us because of this.” And, ideologically, there is no possibility that terrorists would lose such a war, because, ideologically, the terrorists thought they were justified in their attack… ideologically, they think America is not justified in its response. No “smart bomb” America can drop has the capability to change their minds, and the more bombs America drops, the more valiantly heroic the terrorists become in their own minds. The only way America could win this war would be to respond not with military force, but with ideology – with thought, consideration and reason. Something of which America is apparently incapable.

Every news story about difficulties with airline travel because of beefed up security in American airports is a victory for the terrorists. Commercial airlines in America have had some of the most lax security measures in the whole world for many years. Israeli airports have much more stringent security measures in place, and they are taken as an inevitable fact of airline travel. Many commercial airlines outside the United States make a point of separating the pilots from the passenger cabin with a bullet-proof door that can be locked from inside the cockpit – thus making the possibility of a hijacker overpowering the pilots practically non-existent. But “America the free” has been deluded to believe that average people are going to act responsibly and not hijack airplanes. If average people were really that willing to take responsibility for their actions, we wouldn’t need approximately half of the criminal laws currently on the books. We keep those laws on the books because of people who we know aren’t going to act responsibly, so why do we not protect airplane pilots and their passengers from potential hijackers? Answer: because Americans are STUPID!! – Which is EXACTLY what the terrorists have been wanting to prove to everyone! Victory for the terrorists.

Every news story about anthrax is another victory for the terrorists. Americans are so terrified of anthrax these days that it seems like nothing is safe. Most of the news stories so far have been about “concerns” or hoaxes. Practically no-one has paid any attention to the fact that anthrax is not particularly effective as a weapon, or the fact that, if it is distributed through the mail, it can be neutralised with a common, everyday steam iron (heat and moisture kill anthrax spores). To date only FIVE people have died from anthrax!! How many people in America have died from malnourishment, or gang violence, or drug overdoses, or automobile accidents in the past month? How many people in America have died in prison violence due to overcrowding in the past month? How many innocent American citizens have died in military “accidents” in the past month? The Taliban claims it shot down a U.S. helicopter, although the U.S. military is denying any such event. Strangely enough, the U.S. military is acknowledging that a U.S. helicopter crashed in an “accident” and that the crew of 5 were killed, and the Taliban has been exhibiting the wreckage of what appears to be a helicopter, but Americans haven’t heard anything about that. Why? Answer: it is the American media’s job to keep Americans STUPID… and they’ve been doing an amazingly good job of it! – Which is EXACTLY what the terrorists have been wanting to prove to everyone! Victory for the terrorists.

Recently I have made the mistake of expressing negative opinions about America’s “war on terrorism” in public places on internet. The general response has been that my audiences have wished the terrorists would kill me. Honestly, at this point, I hope they do, because, even if they don’t, there’s a good chance that some “patriotic” American will do it, and I truly do not enjoy living in a world which is full of people who don’t know how to think! If idiots are going to decide what happens to the rest of us, I would rather be somewhere else anyway! As far as I can tell, as long as America continues on the path that it is currently following, things are only going to get worse. I don’t know how much you would enjoy living in a post-nuclear apocalypse, but my personal opinion is that I hope I don’t have to…


What Bush Doesn’t Understand About America


Let us say, and why not, that President George W. Bush was more than just the delusional dry drunk with a bipolar narcissistic personality disorder that we’ve all come to know and hate. Let’s say that he was a completely bugfuck, eat-his-own-feces psychopath.

Now let us say, and, indeed, why not, that the President believed that his semen had magical properties. Not just any magical properties, but the ability to bring the dead back to life. However, in his psychopathic state, Bush knew that it wasn’t just a question of spreading his mystical jizz on a corpse like a moisturizer of the damned. No, no, Bush knew that he had to fuck a corpse in order for it to receive the benefit of his wondrous spunk.

So, and we’re still in “let us say” land here, George W. Bush began to fuck corpses, brought to him by his staff and Secret Service agents. Just random hobo corpses – homeless people dead on the streets of the nation’s capital. The cadavers would be collected, washed clean, of course, before being presented to a wizard-regalia-wearing George W. Bush. And the Leader of the Free World began to shove his hard cock into the bodies, male and female, ejaculating in their mouths, their asses, their pussies, their ears, fer chrissake. But, no, no corpse would reanimate. The dead would not rise.

A semi-coherent man might come to the conclusion that his semen was not the triumph of life over death that he had imagined it might be. In fact, the stacks of dead hobos, crusted with dried executive ejaculate, would be evidence enough. But, remember, in this “what if” scenario, the President of the United States is too far gone to believe that he might be wrong. No, as far as Bush was concerned, the fault was with the corpses, not with his splendiferous seed. Maybe they were laying wrong, legs too far akimbo or mouth held too tightly (pity the intern tasked with that duty). Maybe it was the wrong combination of multiple meat injections. No, no, the only real answer was to keep fucking corpses, knowing, just goddamn knowing, that at some point, one of those carcasses would suck in air (after, you know, Bush removed his dick from the mouth) and turn to the pantsless President to say, “Thank you, Mr. Bush, for fucking me back to life.”

Now what if the public, perfectly willing after 9/11 to give Bush the benefit of the doubt and let him try out his highly-touted testicle tea on a single body, now found the whole ordeal repulsive. And they wanted him to stop. Bush, though, would not stop, going through corpses so quickly that the FBI had to go out and start killing the homeless so that Bush could fuck some more.

Maybe pundits on TV and on the Internet would declare that Bush should be allowed to continue fucking corpses because what if he’s right? And what about the dead? Should they just be left to rot unfucked? The citizens of the country would say, “We don’t care about the dead. Bury them already and let nature take its course – let trees or flowers or weeds grow from their rotting remains. But let us stop the fucking of the corpses. George Bush doesn’t have magic sperm.”

When George Bush says of leaving Iraq, “Withdrawal would do nothing to prevent violence from spilling out across that country and plunging Iraq into chaos and anarchy,” when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, “the withdrawal of our forces…would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, the wrong message to the neighborhood and the wrong message to Iraq’s enemies,” when Dick Cheney and every necrophilia-lovin’ pundit attempts to say how anarchy, death, and destruction will rain down on Iraq if we leave, what they’re not getting is that the American people don’t fucking care what happens to Iraq.

The citizens have moved beyond that. Bad shit happens to countries. The American public has accepted this, time and again, and we know that, no matter how many times we try, like trying to dam the ocean, the tide’s gonna do what it’s gonna do in Iraq.


by The Tiger Lillies

I’m incontinent
I soil the sheets
My heart beat is
Growing weak, I
Even find it
Hard to speak
As my urine
From me leaks
I strap on my col-
Ostomy bag
I’m feeling like
An old rag
I stagger slowly
Slow and meek
Death for me would
Be a release
My mind is like a
Leaking sieve
My memories I
Can’t relive
I walk a hun-
Dred yards in pain
I’m a slacker dis-
Consolate and lame
For my death I
Cannot wait
It’s an event I’ll
My funeral, it
Seems to me
Is an event to
Set me free
My funeral, it
Seems to me
Is an event to
Set me free!


Cop who made pot brownies will avoid charges
Mich. officer and wife admitted using drugs taken from suspects for baking
May 10, 2007

DEARBORN, Mich. – A police officer will avoid criminal charges despite admitting he took marijuana from criminal suspects and, with his wife, baked it into brownies.

The police department’s decision not to pursue a case against former Cpl. Edward Sanchez left a bad taste in the mouth of at least one city official, who vowed to investigate.

“If you’re a cop and you’re arresting people and you’re confiscating the marijuana and keeping it yourself, that’s bad. That’s real bad,” said City Councilman Doug Thomas.

Sanchez, who resigned last year from the department in this Detroit suburb, declined comment Wednesday to the Detroit Free Press. Police Cmdr. Jeff Geisinger did not return calls seeking comment.

The department’s investigation began with a 911 call from Sanchez’s home on April 21, 2006. On a 5-minute tape of the call, obtained by the Free Press, Sanchez told an emergency dispatcher he thought he and his wife were overdosing on marijuana.

“I think we’re dying,” he said. “We made brownies and I think we’re dead, I really do.”

Sanchez later told police investigators that his wife took the marijuana out of his police vehicle while he was sleeping. In a subsequent interview, he admitted he got the marijuana out of the car himself and put it in the brownie mix, police said.

His wife also was not charged.

special treatment for law enforcement officials, or a laissez-faire attitude? i guess we’ll never know…

Left-handed women may have a shorter life-span
Apr 30, 2007

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A study suggests that women who are left-handed have a higher risk of dying, particularly from cancer and cerebrovascular disease – damage to an artery in the brain or an artery that supplies blood to the brain.

While it could be a chance finding and the evidence is far from conclusive, numerous reports have associated left-handedness with various disorders and, in general, a shorter life span, Dutch researchers note in their report in the journal Epidemiology.

“Left-handers are reported to be underrepresented in the older age groups, although such findings are still much debated,” write Dr. Made K. Ramadhani and colleagues from University Medical Center Utrecht. It is estimated that about 1 in 10 people are lefties.

Among 12,178 middle-aged Dutch women the researchers followed for nearly 13 years, 252 died.

When left-handed women were compared with the other women, and the data were adjusted for a number of potentially confounding factors, lefties had a 40 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, a 70 percent higher risk of dying from cancer, and a 30 percent higher risk of dying from diseases of the circulatory system.

Left-handed women also had a 2-fold increased risk of dying from breast cancer, close to a 5-fold increased risk of dying from colorectal cancer, and more than a 3-fold higher risk of cerebrovascular mortality.

The underlying mechanisms remain elusive, although genetics and environmental factors may be involved, Ramadhani and colleagues suggest. Much of the research into handedness and mortality has been fueled by the hypothesis that left-handedness is the result of an insult suffered during prenatal life, which ultimately leads to the early death.

The author of a commentary, Dr. Olga Basso, who is left-handed, is highly skeptical, in general, of research relating disease and death with handedness. “I am not alone in thinking that the literature on handedness suffers from a number of ills,” regardless of the putative illnesses seen in those who are left-handed, she notes.

“Having successfully dodged a number of disorders,” adds Basso, “I doubt that my left hand is prematurely pulling me toward my grave.”

Basso is with National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

here’s some news for ya’… left handers have a 100% chance of dying from any cause, regardless of whether they’re male, female, or other… right handers share the same statistic. 8/

that, and much more can be found at the Angry Toxicologist


Impeachment? It’s not just for Kucinich anymore
By Tim Grieve
May 9, 2007

Dennis Kucinich’s articles of impeachment for Dick Cheney are going exactly nowhere — he has found all of two cosponsors so far — but that’s not because the idea isn’t popular with the American people.

In a poll taken by Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion, 39 percent of Americans say they would favor the impeachment of both Cheney and his boss, George W. Bush. It’s not just those crazy, far-left, America-hating Democrats, either; 42 percent of the independents polled said they, too, would favor impeaching Cheney and Bush.

Matt Towery, who ran Newt Gingrich’s PAC before taking the helm at Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion, was so startled by the poll results that he sought some explanation from Bob Barr, the former Republican congressman who initiated an "inquiry of impeachment" against Bill Clinton in 1997. Barr’s take: “This indicates the surprising depth of dissatisfaction with Bush,” he tells Towery. “I’m not sure we ever really had hard polling numbers in favor of impeachment that were this high when we were in the midst of the process. Perhaps, but I don’t recall it.”

Actually, the numbers were pretty similar: Polls taken around the time of the House vote on Clinton’s impeachment showed that about 40 percent of the public supported it. The difference? The views of those 40 percent were taken seriously by members of Congress, who, for better or for worse, actually did something about them.


i finally got paid for the moisture festival. despite the fact that i put in far more actual work over a longer period of time than i did last year, i only got paid a relatively small amount more than i did last year, which makes me think that next year i’m going to go back to my position of last year, in spite of the fact that last year i was only in the band, while this year i was in the band, an actual performer, and i also made the programs, which took two months of hassling with the chaos on a regular basis and another 48 hours or so of actual work. now that i know what kind of chaos goes on behind the scenes, it will be easier to manipulate myself into a postion favourable to me without having to work so hard. hopefully… the other possibility is that i decide to boycott the moisture festival next year.

as a result of getting paid, however, i had some obligations, which included paying off my sousaphone, so now it is actually my sousaphone. now all i have to do is figure out how to fix all of the broken braces so that it will be held together with more than just zip ties.

i put in an incense order a week ago monday, 30th april. when i checked my bank account on thursday, they hadn’t withdrawn the money yet, so i called them to see what was going on. they said that one person had been sick, and another had quit, so they were running short handed and would ship my order out on friday. when i checked my bank account on saturday, they still hadn’t withdrawn the money, so i called them monday morning to see what was going on. they said that my order was sitting in front of them, and would go out that day. on tuesday (yesterday) i checked my bank account and they finally had withdrawn the money, but then they called me and said that a mistake had been made and that my order was going to out today for sure. if it did, indeed, go out yesterday, as they said, it still won’t get here until at least friday, and if not then, i will probably have to wait until next week.

previously i have not had any trouble from this supplier, except for the last order i made with them, which was stolen or something, because i never received it, although they said they had sent it, and now this.

i have had the same suppliers, more or less, pretty much ever since i started in business. i recently found another supplier which had pretty much identical stock to the main one i have had for 5 years, but has cheaper prices, so i have been slowly moving my old supplier aside and using the new one for most things… except that now this happens. it wouldn’t be so bad except that i have a customer waiting for stuff i have ordered, that would have been here last week if it wasn’t for this screw up.


okay, i’ve got a question that nobody else seems to know the answer to, so i’ll toss it out here and see what happens.

i’ve got an ISO9660 image of kubuntu which is 699.9 megabytes. in order to burn it to a CD, i would use a 700 mb writable disk, but it won’t let me, presumably because it’s too big.

i’ve also got a CD of kubuntu, which is 699.9 megabytes, but when i tell K3B to copy it, K3B crashes… toast on my mac doesn’t crash, but it also won’t let me copy the disk, because it’s too big.

how did canonical ltd. get kubuntu on the disk? how do i copy the disk so that i can give it to one of my clients?


In an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way,
in its own perfect time, for the highest good of all,
I intend $1,000,000 to come into my life
and into the lives of everyone who holds this intention.

$820.00 – today
$881.84 – TOTAL


Loyalty Day, 2007
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
April 30, 2007

America was founded by patriots who risked their lives to bring freedom to our Nation. Today, our citizens are grateful for our Founding Fathers and confident in the principles that lead us forward. On Loyalty Day, we celebrate the blessings of freedom and remember our responsibility to continue our legacy of liberty.

Our Nation has never been united simply by blood, birth, or soil, but instead has always been united by the ideals that move us beyond our background and teach us what it means to be Americans. We believe deeply in freedom and self-government, values embodied in our cherished documents and defended by our troops over the course of generations. Our citizens hold the truths of our founding close to their hearts and demonstrate their loyalty in countless ways. We are inspired by the patriotic service of the men and women who wear our Nation’s uniform with honor and decency. The military spouses and families who stand by their loved ones represent the best of the American spirit, and we are profoundly grateful for their sacrifice. Our country is strengthened by the millions of volunteers who show deep compassion toward their neighbors in need. All citizens can express their loyalty to the United States by flying the flag, participating in our democracy, and learning more about our country’s grand story of courage and simple dream of dignity.

The Congress, by Public Law 85-529, as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” This Loyalty Day, and throughout the year, I ask all Americans to join me in reaffirming our allegiance to our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2007, as Loyalty Day. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in this national observance and to display the flag of the United States on Loyalty Day as a symbol of pride in our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.


Meine Ehre heißt Treue – My honour is loyalty (the motto of the SS).

i wonder how long it’s going to be before they start demanding loyalty oaths from ordinary citizens before they do things like buy gas, or groceries… 8/

thanks to


i have trouble believing that all this trouble and furor is being made over a 50¢ box of incense…

a guy ordered some incense from me a few days ago: 15 boxes of dragon’s blood. i turned around the order within 12 hours, and mailed it out. he had his 15 boxes of incense within 3 days. no big surprise.

then, about 5 days later, which is to say two days ago, i received email from him, claiming that he had been shorted one box of incense… one 50¢ box of incense.

when i order that particular variety of incense, i order it in 25-box packages, which makes it very easy for me to tell exactly how much incense i have sent out to people. i checked my remaining supply, and, sure enough, i had, actually, sent him 15 boxes of incense, so i wrote back and told him so. he responded to my email yesterday, at 7:30 pm (which is after the post office closes) and told me that he had only recieved 14 boxes.

at this point i figured, what the hell. it’s only a 50¢ box of incense, what do i care whether he received 14, 15 or 16 boxes of incense (i actually give similar boxes of incense as freebie samples to prospective clients all the time), so i packed up one 50¢ box of incense and sent it out to him this morning, on my way to the banda gozona performance at the bilingual orientation center. i planned on emailing him when i got home, and telling him that another 50¢ box of incense was on its way to him.

however… 8/

when i got home, at 2:30 pm, i found i had received a very snippy, angry note from him saying that this was not some scam to get an extra (50¢) box of incense from me, and that the fact that i had not responded to him (after my normal business hours, and when the post office was closed anyway) apparently meant that i am “unwilling to correct the mistake on your shipment” (one 50¢ box of incense), so he would “never do business with you company again. I also will no t recommend any one to do business with you either”…

if i recall correctly, you can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try, but still… 8/


No Sex Is Very Bad For You
Study says abstinence leads to blindness, screaming, Jenna Bush. Who will save the children?
By Mark Morford
April 25, 2007

In an unusual turn of events, a comprehensive new study from a team of world-class prize-winning nicely disheveled calmly titillated researchers from Johns Hopkins University, working in conjunction with various slightly frumpy but no less adorable teams from Sweden, the United Kingdom, Brazil and roughly 57 other nations, many of which have names that are still barely pronounceable by our own president, has come to a decisive conclusion regarding sex education in America.

Their astonishing research shows that the Bush administration’s abstinence-only sex education programs are not only utterly useless and a complete waste of taxpayer money, but they actually invite all manner of disease and destruction and savage karmic pain upon those who attempt to adhere to them.

It’s true. Such programs, long touted by sexually denuded Republicans and nervous Christian righters and applauded by the Taliban and fundamentalists and Ann Coulter as some sort of psychosexual panacea, some sort of dour, clinical, sex-is-bad-for-you hammerblow to the sensual human soul all meant to act as some sort of humiliating deterrent to our fleshy, dangerous, sex-obsessed culture, these programs lead directly to severe anxiety, hair loss, acne, whininess, temporary blindness, adult bed-wetting, screaming, lousy taste in shoes, death, pararectal abscesses and even, in rare and bizarre cases, an overwhelming urge to date Jenna Bush.

“We are completely stunned at these far-reaching, nearly universal results which have emerged from every country in the world except Saudi Arabia, Oman and much of Utah,” said Dr. Claudio Ortega, totally cute lead researcher of the Johns Hopkins team that studied the behaviors of roughly 420 million normal, “genitally tingly” elementary school and teenage kids across all nations and demographics and hair colors and general inexplicable affection for Avril Lavigne.

“No wait, check that,” Ortega would’ve added, with a sly and knowing grin, if he had actually existed, which he does not. “We’re really not stunned at all. Actually, the results make a whole heaping truckload of very obvious and forehead-slapping sense.”

Ortega, surrounded by his research team who were all dressed almost exclusively in American Apparel silver lamé workout shorts, leather handcuffs and classic Iron Maiden T-shirts from Hot Topic, seemed nonplussed by the need for his own study. “I mean, come on. Say no to sex until you’re married? Abstinence is the only truly moral path? Where are we, 1756? What’s next, trepanning and lobotomies and hurling virgins into the volcano to appease the corn god? Are you people high?”

The overwhelming findings, recently released to the entire planet via multiple media formats including a simple one-page PDF document, universal text message, whispering God-like voice in your dreams and also by way of a two-disk six-hour DVD movie starring Rocco Siffredi, Jenna Jameson, Belladonna, numerous perky cheerleaders and an Italian villa featuring 13 sex swings and 47 bottles of dark rum and an enormous hot tub filled with warm, melted chocolate, is being widely touted as both a radical breakthrough and also as so heart-crushingly, Bush-slappingly obvious it makes you want to spank yourself with a tire iron, and not in a good way.

“Put it this way,” he sighed. “Not only will anti-sexual thoughts make you into some sort of shrill humorless neoconservative evangelical QVC addict with a thing for plastic lawn ornaments, Purity Balls, Coors and all things pleated, but we’ve found devastating evidence linking the widespread activity of not having good, respectful, dirty, open-mouthed sex to everything from acid reflux to infertility to global biochemical warfare to a chronic adoration of Adam Sandler,” Ortega said, soaping himself up in the tub with a bright red and purple sponge shaped like a giant vulva. “It’s really quite astonishing. Except for the part that it’s totally obvious.”

The study comes as a severe blow to the legion of grim, devoted abstinence educators and sour Republican government officials who, nevertheless, still refuse to acknowledge that the U.S. government has now wasted upward of 1 billion taxpayer dollars in the past 10 years on abstinence programs that have had, to put it simply, exactly zero effect on teen sex behavior. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Unfortunately, this has not stopped the inept Bush administration from proposing $191 million for these unscientific, medically inaccurate programs for fiscal 2008, an increase of $28 million over 2007’s failed, useless levels.

“Here is the most astounding fact of all, the thing that makes you want to scream in the faces of these legislators and religious nutballs and pour a gallon of honey over them and then toss them onto a giant mound of gay fire ants,” Ortega would’ve added, between sips of margarita, had he been existent. And also very, very cool.

“Sex is just ridiculously good for you. Sex is good for the heart. It’s good for the blood. It’s good for the mood and it’s good for depression and it’s good for self-esteem and it’s good for making you feel more human and alive and present in your skin. Do it right and sex shoots huge gobs of endorphins and raw divine energy into your id and it’s good for raising your kundalini and inspiring awareness of the cosmos and it’s good for calmly and casually noting the interconnectedness of all things from all time in all places everywhere.”

Ortega then sighed heavily, his skin beginning to turn translucent, his bones fading away, his entire being beginning to soften and evaporate, much like the reality of this story, much like any hope-filled notions you may have that your government gives a damn about the sexual integrity of children and might actually reverse its degrading position and start treating youth with respect and love.

“Did you know sex actually improves your sense of smell? Helps the prostate? True. Also reduces stress. Improves sleep. Improves circulation. Relieves pain, menstrual cramps. Improves fertility. Helps you live longer. Look younger. Goes great with jeans. Goes perfectly with red wine, white wine, pink wine, sake, beer. Dress it up, dress it down. Take it out, or stay at home and rent a movie. It is the universal traveler. It is the Super Glue of the gods. It is the bond that connects all and to deny any of this to kids is abhorrent and insulting and you can rest assured that Jesus himself is just incredibly ashamed that these programs even exist.”

“Look me in the eye,” Ortega finally said, he and this whole tale disappearing into the sad media ether, to be quickly superseded by tales of death and war and blood. “Yes, this is a fantasy. I am a fantasy, OK? The sort of raw, real sex education human children deserve will never happen in your lifetime, not on any large scale, not with the whiny self-righteous Christian-righters screaming into their underwear and trembling at the sight of their own genitalia.”

“But here’s the thing: You need to know these facts. You need to keep this arrow of hot, deep sexual knowledge in your quiver, sharp and polished and ready to launch at a moment’s notice, OK? For when the time comes. For when the Great Transformation occurs. OK? Trust me.”

And just like that, Ortega vanished, leaving behind a small pool of fire and Astroglide and just a hint of eternal, grinning, inextinguishable hope.


The Hippies Were Right!
Green homes? Organic food? Nature is good? Time To Give The Ol’ Tie-Dyers Some Respect
by Mark Morford
May 2, 2007

Go ahead, name your movement. Name something good and positive and pro-environment and eco-friendly that’s happening right now in the newly “greening” America and don’t say more guns in Texas or fewer reproductive choices for women or endless vile unwinnable BushCo wars in the Middle East lasting until roughly 2075 because that would defeat the whole point of this perky little column and destroy its naive tone of happy rose-colored sardonic optimism. OK?

I’m talking about, say, energy-efficient light bulbs. I’m looking at organic foods going mainstream. I mean chemical-free cleaning products widely available at Target and I’m talking saving the whales and protecting the dolphins and I mean yoga studios flourishing in every small town, giant boxes of organic cereal at Costco and non-phthalates dildos at Good Vibes and the Toyota Prius becoming the nation’s oddest status symbol. You know, good things.

Look around: we have entire industries devoted to recycled paper, a new generation of cheap solar-power technology and an Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth” and even the soulless corporate monsters over at famously heartless joints like Wal-Mart are now claiming that they really, really care about saving the environment because, well, “it’s the right thing to do” (read: It’s purely economic and all about their bottom line because if they don’t start caring they’ll soon be totally screwed on manufacturing and shipping costs at/from all their brutal Chinese sweatshops).

There is but one conclusion you can draw from the astonishing (albeit fitful, bittersweet) pro-environment sea change now happening in the culture and (reluctantly, nervously) in the halls of power in D.C., one thing we must all acknowledge in our wary, jaded, globally warmed universe: The hippies had it right all along. Oh yes they did.

You know it’s true. All this hot enthusiasm for healing the planet and eating whole foods and avoiding chemicals and working with nature and developing the self? Came from the hippies. Alternative health? Hippies. Green cotton? Hippies. Reclaimed wood? Recycling? Humane treatment of animals? Medical pot? Alternative energy? Natural childbirth? Non-GMO seeds? It came from the granola types (who, of course, absorbed much of it from ancient cultures), from the alternative worldviews, from the underground and the sidelines and from far off the goddamn grid and it’s about time the media, the politicians, the culture as a whole sent out a big, wet, hemp-covered apology.

Here’s a suggestion, from one of my more astute ex-hippie readers: Instead of issuing carbon credits so industrial polluters can clear their collective corporate conscience, maybe, to help offset all the savage damage they’ve done to the soul of the planet all these years, these commercial cretins should instead buy some karma credits from the former hippies themselves. You know, from those who’ve been working for the health of the planet, quite thanklessly, for the past 50 years and who have, as a result, built up quite a storehouse of good karma. You think?

Of course, you can easily argue that much of the “authentic” hippie ethos — the anti-corporate ideology, the sexual liberation, the anarchy, the push for civil rights, the experimentation — has been totally leeched out of all these new movements, that corporations have forcibly co-opted and diluted every single technology and humble pro-environment idea and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cone and Odwalla smoothie to make them both palatable and profitable. But does this somehow make the organic oils in that body lotion any more harmful? Verily, it does not.

You might also just as easily claim that much of the nation’s reluctant turn toward environmental health has little to do with the hippies per se, that it’s taking the threat of global meltdown combined with the notion of really, really expensive ski tickets to slap the nation’s incredibly obese ass into gear and force consumers to begin to wake up to the savage gluttony and wastefulness of American culture as everyone starts wondering, oh my God, what’s going to happen to swimming pools and NASCAR and free shipping from Amazon? Of course, without the ’60s groundwork, without all the radical ideas and seeds of change planted nearly five decades ago, what we’d be turning to in our time of need would be a great deal more hopeless indeed.

But if you’re really bitter and shortsighted, you could say the entire hippie movement overall was just incredibly overrated, gets far too much cultural credit for far too little actual impact, was pretty much a giant excuse to slack off and enjoy dirty lazy responsibility-free sex romps and do a ton of drugs and avoid Vietnam and not bathe for a month and name your child Sunflower or Shiva Moon or Chakra Lennon Sapphire Bumblebee. This is what’s called the reactionary simpleton’s view. It blithely ignores history, perspective, the evolution of culture as a whole. You know, just like America.

But, you know, whatever. The proofs are easy enough to trace. The core values and environmental groundwork laid by the ’60s counterculture are still so intact and potent even the stiffest neocon Republican has to acknowledge their extant power. It’s all right there: is the new ’60s underground hippy zine. Ecstasy is the new LSD. Visible tattoos are the new longhairs. And bands as diverse as Pearl Jam to Bright Eyes to NIN to the Dixie Chicks are writing savage anti-Bush, anti-war songs for a new, ultra-jaded generation.

And oh yes, speaking of good ol’ MDMA (Ecstasy), even drug culture is getting some new respect. Staid old Time mag just ran a rather snide little story about the new studies being conducted by Harvard and the National Institute of Mental Health into the astonishing psychospiritual benefits of goodly entheogens such as LSD, psilocybin and MDMA. Unfortunately, the piece basically backhands Timothy Leary and the entire “excessive,” “naive” drug culture of yore in favor of much more “sane” and “careful” scientific analysis happening now, as if the only valid methods for attaining knowledge and an understanding of spirit were through control groups and clinical, mysticism-free examination. Please.

Still, the fact that serious scientific research into entheogens is being conducted even in the face of the most anti-science, pro-pharmaceutical, ultra-conservative presidential regime in recent history is proof enough that all the hoary old hippie mantras about expanding the mind and touching God through drugs were onto something after all (yes, duh). Tim Leary is probably smiling wildly right now — though that might be due to all the mushrooms he’s been sharing with Kerouac and Einstein and Mary Magdalene. Mmm, heaven.

Of course, true hippie values mean you’re not really supposed to care about or attach to any of this, you don’t give a damn for the hollow ego stroke of being right all along, for slapping the culture upside the head and saying, See? Do you see? It was never about the long hair and the folk music and Woodstock and taking so much acid you see Jesus and Shiva and Buddha tongue kissing in a hammock on the Dog Star, nimrods.

It was, always and forever, about connectedness. It was about how we are all in this together. It was about resisting the status quo and fighting tyrannical corporate/political power and it was about opening your consciousness and seeing new possibilities of how we can all live with something resembling actual respect for the planet, for alternative cultures, for each other. You know, all that typical hippie crap no one believes in anymore. Right?


i had another weird dream. i don’t remember that much of it, but i remember that when i drew shapes in the air, the shapes turned into solid, heavy silver wire, which i was then able to catch. i started out just drawing lines, commenting to people that i could do it, and then progressed to more complicated shapes. the wire was soft enough that i could bend it fairly easily, and i remember winding some of it around my fingers.


La Banda Gozona is performing at the Bilingual Orientation Center, 411 Boston St, Queen Anne Hill at 11:30 am on friday, at El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Av S., Beacon Hill at 1:00 pm on saturday, and at a wedding in federal way from 8:00 pm until midnight on saturday the 12th.

which reminds me… playing with banda gozona is fun, especially playing sousaphone: all of the other “tuba” players (there are three of us, clayton, gilberto and myself) have tubas, and i’m the only one with an actual sousaphone, which, apparently, is cause for great jealousy among the other tuba players (even though my sousaphone is held together with zip ties and hope). also the music is pretty easy, for the most part, and kind of fun to play… especially “Norma de la Guadlajara” which is actually a tuba solo with band accompaniment.

but the rehearsals recently have been with a whole pile of dancers (a lot of the music we play is specifically to dance to, and there are complex dances with multiple different parts, so we have to play the music a very specific way), and most of the dancers – and a significant number of band members as well – either don’t speak english at all, or speak english “as a second language”, which means that, with varying degrees, they don’t understand what they’re saying when they’re speaking english… and it makes it very difficult to understand what they are saying when i don’t speak spanish, or oaxacan, or mayan or whatever it is that they speak. it’s even more confusing to me because a lot of the dancers are children, and, like most children, they make a lot of unnecessary noise all the time… particularly when we’re trying to figure out what to play next, or where to start. if the kids were making noise in english, it would be a lot easier for me to not pay attention to them, but because they’re making noise in another language, and half of the band is making noise in the same, other language, it’s practically impossible for me to understand what’s going on from one moment to the next. it’s so frustrating that there have been a few times recently where i have felt like walking out of the rehearsal because i don’t understand what’s going on and nobody will explain it to me… and then the band starts playing somewhere, in some piece of music that i don’t know.

i feel particularly sensitive to all of this noise when i’m trying to understand what’s going on, but it is not possible for me to get across the fact that i can’t understand what they’re saying when they can’t understand what i’m saying, even when i can say it. the fact that i can’t understand what they’re saying somehow makes my “difficulties with language” (aphasia) even worse, which makes me even more frustrated, and i feel like walking out, which wouldn’t be very polite, if nothing else.

also, sunday the 6th is no pants day, and friday the 11th is wesak. yippie…


Bush vetoes troop withdrawal bill
1 May, 2007

WASHINGTON – President Bush vetoed legislation to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq Tuesday night in a historic showdown with Congress over whether the unpopular and costly war should end or escalate.

It was a day of high political drama, falling on the fourth anniversary of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech declaring that major combat operations had ended in Iraq.

In only the second veto of his presidency, Bush rejected legislation pushed by Democratic leaders that would require the first U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn by Oct. 1 with a goal of a complete pullout six months later.

“This is a prescription for chaos and confusion and we must not impose it on our troops,” Bush said in a nationally broadcast statement from the White House. He said the bill would “mandate a rigid and artificial deadline” for troop pullouts, and “it makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing.”

Democrats accused Bush of ignoring Americans’ desire to stop the war, which has claimed the lives of more than 3,350 members of the military.

“The president wants a blank check,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., moments after Bush’s appearance. “The Congress is not going to give it to him.” She said lawmakers would work with him to find common ground but added that there was “great distance” between them on Iraq.

The legislation amounted to a rare rebuke of a wartime president and an assertion by Democrats that Congress must play a major role in Iraq and the extent of U.S. involvement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Bush has an obligation to explain his plan for responsibly ending the war.

“If the president thinks by vetoing this bill, he’ll stop us from working to change the direction of the war in Iraq, he is mistaken,” Reid said.

Lacking the votes to override the president, Democrats have already signaled they intend to approve a replacement bill stripped of the troop withdrawal timetable. Determined to challenge Bush’s policy, they are turning their attention to setting goals for the Iraqi government to meet as it struggles to establish a more secure, democratic society.

The White House and congressional Republicans have also called for so-called benchmarks, but only if they don’t mandate a troop withdrawal or some other major change in war policy.

Bush will meet with congressional leaders — Democrats and Republicans alike — on Wednesday to discuss new legislation.

He said Democrats had made a political statement by passing anti-war legislation. “They’ve sent their message, and now it’s time to put politics behind us and support our troops with the funds,” the president said.

He said the need to act was urgent because without a war-funding bill, the armed forces will have to consider cutting back on buying or repairing equipment.

“Our troops and their families deserve better, and their elected leaders can do better,” Bush said.

“Whatever our differences, surely we can agree that our troops are worthy of this funding and that we have a responsibility to get it to them without further delay,” the president said.

Bush signed the veto with a pen given to him by Robert Derga, the father of Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. Dustin Derga, who was killed in Iraq on May 8, 2005. The elder Derga spoke with Bush two weeks ago at a meeting the president had with military families at the White House.

Derga asked Bush to promise to use the pen in his veto. On Tuesday, Derga contacted the White House to remind Bush to use the pen, and so he did. The 24-year-old Dustin Derga served with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines from Columbus, Ohio. The five-year Marine reservist and fire team leader was killed by an armor-piercing round in Anbar province.

Minutes after Bush vetoed the bill, an anti-war demonstrator stood outside the White House with a bullhorn: “How many more must die? How many more must die?”

Earlier at the Capitol, Democrats held an unusual signing ceremony of the $124.2 billion bill before sending it to the White House.

“The president has put our troops in the middle of a civil war,” said Reid. “Reality on the ground proves what we all know: A change of course is needed.”

For his part, Bush flew to Florida to meet with military commanders and said the Democratic proposal would turn Iraq into a “cauldron of chaos.” With sleeves rolled up, Bush shook hands with troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, the headquarters of U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, including Iraq. Then Bush returned to the White House to announce his veto just before network news shows.

Democratic leaders refused to discuss their approach to Wednesday’s meeting with Bush. Past meetings have not led to any compromises, although members said this time they hoped Bush would signal a willingness to negotiate.

“I don’t want to get into a negotiation with myself,” Reid said when asked about conversations with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

McConnell and other Republicans have said they would agree to provisions that lay out standards for the Iraqi government to meet in creating a more stable and democratic society.

“A number of Republicans think that some kind of benchmarks properly crafted would be helpful,” McConnell said. Bush and GOP allies have said they will oppose legislation that ties progress on such standards to a withdrawal of U.S. combat forces.

“House Republicans will oppose any bill that includes provisions that undermine our troops and their mission, whether it’s benchmarks for failure, arbitrary readiness standards or a timetable for American surrender,” said Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Some Republicans say they would support tying goals for Iraqi self-defense and democracy to the more than $5 billion provided to Iraq in foreign aid. But such an idea hasn’t piqued the interest of Democrats.

When Bush announced a U.S. troop increase in January, he said Iraq’s government must crack down on both Shiites and Sunnis, equitably distribute oil wealth, refine its constitution and expand democratic participation. He attached no consequences if these benchmarks were not met.

Tuesday’s developments came exactly four years after Bush’s speech on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln decorated with a huge “Mission Accomplished” banner. At the time, Bush’s approval rating was 63 percent, with the public’s disapproval at 34 percent.

Four years later, only 35 percent of the public approves of the job the president is doing, while 62 percent disapprove, according to an April 2-4 poll from AP-Ipsos.

Bush has used his veto power only once before, when he rejected a measure last summer to lift restrictions on federal money for embryonic stem cell research.


one of the things i do to discourage spammers is to run wpoison on my site as a script called (if you’re curious, you can click there, but any further clicks on any link will just generate more “gibberish” non-email addresses with no further explanation)… but i discovered today (thanks to my AWESOME web stats), that if you put “” into a google search, my site comes up number one on the list…

heh heh heh… }8D

er… um… i mean how unfortunate

heh heh heh…

also, i’ve discovered that someone at psyreactor dot com has been hotlinking a graphic from my HTML tutorial. since psyreactor is a web forum which you have to log into in order to see the individual forums, i have been unable to tell exactly where at psyreactor dot com the hotlink is, but i know which graphic they’re stealing… so i changed the name of the graphic that they want to something else, and put this in it’s place:



In an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way,
in its own perfect time, for the highest good of all,
I intend $1,000,000 to come into my life
and into the lives of everyone who holds this intention.

$61.84 – today
$61.84 – TOTAL


In an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way,
in its own perfect time, for the highest good of all,
I intend $1,000,000 to come into my life
and into the lives of everyone who holds this intention.

i understand the concepts behind the $1 million experiment quite well, and i know it works. i’ve been using a similar affirmation for health and well-being for around 30 years. i also know that the more you believe it will work, the more likely it is to work, without any other explanation. basically, you spend 60 seconds a day focusing on – remembering – the affirmation: do this by reciting it, singing it, praying it, meditating on it, visualising it, or whatever works for you. it won’t happen all at once, but it will happen if you believe it will. check it out… 8)


this is getting to the point where it’s totally ridiculous, or intensely scary… or possibly both. in either case, it’s a very, very sad commentary on the society that we have become in the past few years, and it’s one of the reasons why i, personally, want to have as little to do with it as possible:

Culture of Fear: Poetry Professor Becomes Terror Suspect
A poetry professor in a small college in the Northeast decides to recycle old manuscripts and becomes an object of suspicion.
By Kazim Ali
April 24, 2007

On April 19, after a day of teaching classes at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, I went out to my car and grabbed a box of old poetry manuscripts from the front seat of my little white Beetle, carried it across the street and put it next to the trashcan outside Wright Hall. The poems were from poetry contests I had been judging and the box was heavy. I had previously left my recycling boxes there and they were always picked up and taken away by the trash department.

A young man from ROTC was watching me as I got into my car and drove away. I thought he was looking at my car, which has black flower decals and sometimes inspires strange looks. I later discovered that I, in my dark skin, am sometimes not even a person to the people who look at me. Instead, in spite of my peacefulness, my committed opposition to all aggression and war, I am a threat by my very existence, a threat just living in the world as a Muslim body.

Upon my departure, he called the local police department and told them a man of Middle Eastern descent driving a heavily decaled white Beetle with out of state plates and no campus parking sticker had just placed a box next to the trash can. My car has NY plates, but he got the rest of it wrong. I have two stickers on my car. One is my highly visible faculty parking sticker and the other, which I just don’t have the heart to take off these days, says, “Kerry/Edwards: For a Stronger America.”

Because of my recycling, the bomb squad came, then the state police. Because of my recycling, buildings were evacuated, classes were canceled, the campus was closed. No. Not because of my recycling. Because of my dark body. No. Not even that. Because of his fear. Because of the way he saw me. Because of the culture of fear, mistrust, hatred and suspicion that is carefully cultivated in the media, by the government, by people who claim to want to keep us “safe.”

These are the days of orange alerts, school lock-downs, and endless war. We are preparing for it, training for it, looking for it, and so, of course, in the most innocuous instances — a professor wanting to hurry home, hefting his box of discarded poetry — we find it.

That man in the parking lot didn’t even see me. He saw my darkness. He saw my Middle Eastern descent. This is ironic because though my grandfathers came from Egypt, I am Indian, a South Asian, and could never be mistaken for a Middle Eastern man by anyone who had ever met one.

One of my colleagues was in the gathering crowd, trying to figure out what had happened. She heard my description — a Middle Eastern man driving a white Beetle with out of state plates — and knew immediately they were talking about me and realized that the box must have been manuscripts I was discarding. She approached them and told them I was a professor on the faculty there. Immediately the campus police officer said, “What country is he from?”

“What country is he from?!” she yelled, indignant.

“Ma’am, you are associated with the suspect. You need to step away and lower your voice,” he told her.

At some length, several of my faculty colleagues were able to get through to the police and get me on a cell phone where I explained to the university president and then to the state police that the box contained old poetry manuscripts that needed to be recycled. The police officer told me that in the current climate I needed to be more careful about how I behaved. “When I recycle?” I asked.

The university president appreciated my distress about the situation but denied that the call had anything to do with my race or ethnic background. The spokesperson of the university called it an “honest mistake,” not referring to the young man from ROTC giving in to his worst instincts and calling the police but referring to me who made the mistake of being dark-skinned and putting my recycling next to the trashcan.

The university’s bizarrely minimal statement lets everyone know that the “suspicious package” beside the trashcan ended up being, indeed, trash. It goes on to say, “We appreciate your cooperation during the incident and remind everyone that safety is a joint effort by all members of the campus community.”

What does that community mean to me, a person who has to walk by the ROTC offices every day on my way to my own office just down the hall — who was watched, noted and reported, all in a day’s work? Today, we gave in willingly and wholeheartedly to a culture of fear and blaming and profiling. It is deemed perfectly appropriate behavior to spy on one another and police one another and report on one another. Such behaviors exist most strongly in closed, undemocratic and fascist societies.

The university report does not mention the root cause of the alarm. That package became “suspicious” because of who was holding it, who put it down, who drove away. Me.

It was poetry, I kept insisting to the state policeman who was questioning me on the phone. It was poetry I was putting out to be recycled.

My body exists politically in a way I cannot prevent. For a moment today, without even knowing it, driving away from campus in my little Beetle, exhausted after a day of teaching, listening to Justin Timberlake on the radio, I ceased to be a person when a man I had never met looked straight through me and saw the violence in his own heart.

Bill Moyers on journalism and democracy
April 17, 2007

Throughout his career in print and broadcast journalism, Bill Moyers has blended a passionate interest in the workings of politics with a strong interest in religion. He is perhaps best known for the many interviews and reports he has produced and narrated for the Public Broadcasting System, including the “Faith and Reason” series in 2006. He has received over 30 Emmy awards for his documentary work and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Moyers began his career as a participant in politics. He was an aide to Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and served as deputy director of the Peace Corps under President John F. Kennedy. Later he was special assistant and then press secretary for President Johnson. At an earlier stage in life he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and was ordained as a Baptist minister.

He is launching a new weekly series on PBS in April, and his documentary Buying the War, about the press and the buildup to the war in Iraq, airs on PBS on April 25. We spoke with him about the coverage of the war and about the health of journalism and democracy.

You were part of the Johnson administration during its escalation of the Vietnam War. What perspective does that experience give you on the current administration and the war in Iraq?

Both Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush made the mistake of embracing a totalistic policy for a concrete reality that requires instead a more pragmatic response. You shouldn’t go to war for a Grand Theory on a hunch, yet both men plunged into complex local quarrels only to discover that they were treading on quicksand. And they learned too late that American exceptionalism doesn’t mean we can work our will anywhere we please. While freedom may be a universal yearning, democracy is not, alas, a universal solution—there are too many extenuating circumstances.

Both presidents rushed to judgment on premature and flawed intelligence — LBJ after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, Bush in conflating the terrorists attacks of 9/11 with the activities of Saddam Hussein. Each thought anything less than all-out victory would stigmatize his presidency. And in both wars, as the American people watched the casualties mount and the horrors unfold—Abu Ghraib had its precedents in Vietnam—they saw the abstractions invoked by each president to justify the conflict confounded by the coarseness of human nature laid bare by war.

Vietnam cost far more in lives — American and Vietnamese — than Iraq has so far. What came out of it was not democracy but capitalism with a communist face — something that was likely to happen anyway, as it did in China. Iraq, on the other hand, has destabilized world affairs more than the Vietnam War ever did. Long after I am gone my grandchildren will be living with the consequences of this unilateral and preemptive war in the Middle East.

If the Bush administration were to ask you for your advice, what would you say to them?

Well, I did give President Bush advice once: on a broadcast I urged him to make Al Gore head of homeland security—in other words, turn our response to the terrorist attacks into a bipartisan effort, make the fight against terroism an American cause, not a partisan battle cry.

What would I say now? Fire the ideologues and assign them to scrub the floors at Guantánamo for penitence. Stop confusing neocon pundits with Old Testament prophets. Read the Bible for humility’s sake, but for policy’s sake commit to memory the report of the Iraq Study Group. Don’t sacrifice any more soldiers to prove you’re in charge; get the soldiers out of the line of fire between Sunnis and Shi’ites. And remind your hirelings of Winston Churchill’s definition of democracy as the occasional necessity of deferring to the opinions of other people.

What kind of response did you get from your speech to cadets at West Point, in which you spoke about the limitations and liabilities of war making?

For 30 seconds after I finished there was just silence in that large auditorium, and I thought: “You really blew it this time. You not only lost them, you insulted them.” Then one by one, cluster by cluster, row by row, the cadets started standing up and applauding. I had to struggle to contain my emotions. I would like to tell you it was because they agreed with me. The truth is, I think, that they appreciated hearing a civilian talk openly about what they constantly wrestle with privately — the conflict of conscience required in obeying orders from leaders who have taken leave of reality. They listened like no audience I’ve had in a long time. And afterward they kept me up late in a lively give-and-take.

Earlier in the day I met for over two hours with a score of top cadets who were on their way to compete for Rhodes and Marshall scholarships and the like. They wanted to talk about the environment, science, philosophy, politics, history. The cadets are smart, disciplined and sophisticated people. One just hopes they get the civilian leadership they deserve.

One thing seems clear: In the buildup to the Iraq war and even in the first several years of that war, much of the news media did not ask tough questions of this administration. Why was that?

There are many reasons. The attacks of 9/11 brought a surge of solidarity that understandably engulfed journalists too. That event made asking critical questions difficult and unpopular. When cable networks and the major networks started reporting civilian casualties as a result of American actions in Afghanistan, for example, the patriot police came knocking. Later, if you challenged what the administration was saying about Iraq, they put you in their crosshairs again — charged you with being un-American, unpatriotic — for wanting evidence that Saddam really was behind 9/11, that he had ties to al-Qaeda, that he was actually building weapons of mass destruction.

Furthermore, a lot of journalists and editors are conditioned to believe that a thing is so because a president says it is so. Many young reporters thought it inconceivable that a government would lie or manipulate intelligence to go to war.

Stopping a government that’s determined to go to war is always hard. But it’s virtually impossible when large segments of the press mirror the official view of reality. When our channels of information become clogged with propaganda, the facts are trivialized; what officials say is the news, and no one else gets equal time.

The communications scholar Murray Edelman once wrote that “opinions about public policy do not spring immaculately or automatically into people’s minds; they are always placed there by the interpretations of those who can most consistently get their claims and manufactured cues publicized widely.” After 9/11 it proved easy for the administration and its apologists to manufacture a consensus motivated by fear.

There’s also a real go-along-to-get-along mentality inside the beltway. When I left Washington 40 years ago it took me a while to realize that what’s important is not how close you are to power but how close you are to the truth. The talk shows want to make “news” with the guest of the day whether or not the news has anything to do with reality. If you are a reporter in Washington, the official view of reality organizes your world.

One of my journalistic heroes is Charles J. Hanley of the Associated Press. He covered the weapons inspectors in Iraq for several months before the invasion, and his reporting should have caused everyone to see the administration’s claims for what they were — fiction. But Hanley’s own reporting was altered by editors who didn’t want to be caught out on a limb.

This is the fellow, by the way, who reported the torture of Iraqis in American prisons before anyone else. American newspapers ignored it because, as Hanley said, “it was not an officially sanctioned story that begins with a handout from an official source.” Think about that the next time you read or watch the news from Washington.

More generally, how do you assess the health of the news media? What concerns you and what gives you hope?

There’s some world-class journalism being done in our country by journalists committed to getting as close as possible to the verifiable truth. Unfortunately, a few huge corporations now dominate the media landscape. And the news business is at war with journalism. Virtually everything the average person sees or hears outside of her own personal communications is determined by the interests of private, unaccountable executives and investors whose primary goal is increasing profits and raising the company’s share price. One of the best newspaper groups, Knight Ridder — whose reporters were on to the truth about Iraq early on — was recently sold and broken up because a tiny handful of investors wanted more per share than they were getting.

Almost all the networks carried by most cable systems are owned by one of the major media conglomerates. Two-thirds of today’s newspaper markets are monopolies, and they’re dumbing down. As ownership gets more and more concentrated, fewer and fewer independent sources of information have survived in the marketplace. And those few significant alternatives that do survive, such as PBS and NPR, are under growing financial and political pressure to reduce critical news content.

Just the other day the major morning broadcast devoted long segments to analyzing why Britney Spears shaved her head, and the death of Anna Nicole Smith got more attention than the Americans or Iraqis killed in Baghdad that week. The next time you’re at a newsstand, look at the celebrities staring back at you. In-depth coverage on anything, let alone the bleak facts of power and powerlessness that shape the lives of ordinary people, is as scarce as sex, violence and voyeurism are pervasive.

At the same time we have seen the rise of an ideological partisan press that is contemptuous of reality, serves up right-wing propaganda as fact, and attempts to demonize anyone who says otherwise. Its embodiment is Rush Limbaugh. Millions heard him take journalists to task for their reporting on the torture at Abu Ghraib, which he attempted to dismiss as a little necessary sport for soldiers under stress. He said: “This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation. . . . You ever heard of people [who] need to blow some steam off?”

So we can’t make the case today that the dominant institutions of the press are guardians of democracy. They actually work to keep reality from us, whether it’s the truth of money in politics, the social costs of “free trade,” growing inequality, the re-segregation of our public schools, or the devastating onward march of environmental deregulation. It’s as if we are living on a huge plantation in a story told by the boss man.

What encourages me is the Internet. Freedom begins the moment you realize someone else has been writing your story and it’s time you took the pen from his hand and started writing it yourself. The greatest challenge to the conglomeration of the media giants and the malevolent mentality of the partisan press is the innovation and expression made possible by the digital revolution. I’m also buoyed by the beginnings of a movement across the country of people who are fighting to keep mammoth corporations from controlling access to the Internet as they managed to control radio, then television, then cable. To find out more about this, go to or

What also gives me hope is that in a market society, sooner or later some entrepreneur is going to figure out how to make a fortune by offering people news they can trust. Millions of Americans care about our democracy, they want high-quality information because they know freedom dies of too many lies, and surely in this new age of innovation someone’s going to figure out that good journalism can be profitable.

Where do you get your news?

I keep stacks of magazines beside my bed to read at night—including the Christian Century.

It’s not a good day if I haven’t roamed half a dozen newspapers, a score of Web sites (journalistic, liberal, conservative, religious, secular — you name it, the Web has it), two or three newsletters, a quarterly journal or two, and summaries of news and opinion sent to me by my colleagues.

I check out a few bloggers — just because it pays to know how others see the world. It also helps to know who’s demonizing you today. Some bloggers are quite thoughtful, analytical, fair. Some are downright scurrilous — for example, the right-wing Moonie-connected blogger who recently lied about Barack Obama’s schooling.

Sometimes I think there are too many voices inside my head. Maybe I read too much. But they make sure I never think a matter settled. I’m with Mark Twain on this: “Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”

What do you think of the success of satirists like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert?

There can be more truth in a flash of wit than in a full-throated pronouncement by a pundit. I once told Stewart that if Mark Twain were alive today, he would be on Comedy Central. Stewart looked at me as if he wouldn’t welcome the competition. As for Colbert: he’s one smart fellow, but he scares me, even when he’s funny, because you sometimes forget he’s only kidding. Being an old fogy, I worry about mixing journalism with entertainment. But I confess that it’s difficult not to write satire these days. Sometimes only satire makes sense. Enemies of the state, as satirists are, can be friends of the people.

But I wouldn’t dare try satire as a journalist; I’d have to target myself — and I’m not one for self-immolation.

You seem to have a very strong populist perspective. Where does that come from?

If I had been an embattled farmer exploited by the railroads and bankers back in the 19th century, I hope I would have shown up at that amazing convention in Omaha that adopted the platform beginning: “We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin.” Those folks were aroused by Christian outrage over injustice. They made the prairie rumble. If I had lived a few years later, I would hope to have worked for McClure’s, the great magazine that probed the institutional corruption of the day and prompted progressive agitation.

The Great Depression was the tsunami of my experience, and my perspective was shaped by Main Street, not Wall Street. My parents were laid low by the Depression. When I was born my father was making $2 a day working on the highway, and he never brought home more than $100 a week in his working life. He didn’t even earn that much until he joined the union on his last job. Like Franklin Roosevelt, I came to think that government by organized money should be feared as much as government by organized mob. I’d rather not have either, thank you.

I am a democrat — notice the small d — who believes that the soul of democracy is representative government. It’s our best, although certainly imperfect, protection against predatory forces, whether unfettered markets, unscrupulous neighbors or fantastical ideologies—foreign or domestic. Our best chance at governing ourselves lies in obtaining the considered judgments of those we elect to weigh the competing interests and decide to the best of their ability what is right for the country. Anything that corrupts their judgment — whether rigged elections or bribery masked as campaign contributions—is the devil’s work.

Can you name a single issue that concerns you the most these days?

Inequality. Nearly all the wealth created in America over the past 25 years was captured by the top 20 percent of households. Meanwhile, working families find it harder and harder to make ends meet. Young people without privilege and wealth struggle to get a footing. Seniors enjoy less and less security for a lifetime’s labor. We are racially segregated in every meaningful sense except the letter of the law. And survivors of segregation and immigration toil for pennies on the dollar compared to those they serve.

None of this is the result of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” creating the greatest good for the greatest number. It’s the result of invisible hands that write the checks to buy political protection for privilege. There’s been a campaign to organize the world economy for the benefit of corporations. Whatever its benefits, political and corporate efforts to deregulate the international economy and promote globalization have been the most powerful force of political, economic, social and cultural destabilization the world has known since World War II.

The Nobel laureate Robert Solow is not a man given to extreme political statements. He characterizes what has been happening in America as nothing less than elite plunder: “The redistribution of wealth in favor of the wealthy and of power in favor of the powerful.”

This wasn’t meant to be a country where the winner takes all. Read the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address. We were going to be a society that maintained a healthy equilibrium in how power works—and for whom.

Although my parents were knocked down and almost out by the Depression and were poor all their lives, I went to good public schools. My brother made it to college on the GI bill. When I borrowed $450 to buy my first car, I drove to a public university on public highways and rested in public parks along the way. America was a shared project and I was just one of its beneficiaries. But a vast transformation has been occurring, documented in a series of recent studies. The American Political Science Association, for example, finds that “increasing inequalities threaten the American ideal of equal citizenship and that progress toward real democracy may have stalled . . . and even reversed.”

So here is the deepest crisis as I see it: We talk about problems, issues, policy solutions, but we don’t talk about what democracy means — what it bestows on us, the power it gives us — the astonishing opportunity to shape our destiny. I mean the revolutionary idea that democracy isn’t merely a means of government, it’s a means of dignifying people so that they have a chance to become fully human. Every day I find myself asking, Why is America forsaking its own revolution?

You once remarked that seminary was a detour in your life. Why did you go to seminary and what difference do you think it made for you?

I knew at age 15 that I wanted to be a journalist — then, a little later, a political journalist. That’s how I wound up spending the summer of 1954 on Lyndon Johnson’s staff in the Senate. I wanted to learn the game at the feet of the master.

But I came home feeling unsatisfied by that experience, and I interpreted my angst as a call to something more fulfilling—the ministry, actually. I thought of the pastorate or a professorship. I spent four years getting my master of divinity before finding myself back in politics and government and then back again in journalism.

For a while I thought I had made a mistake, that I would have been better off if I had spent those four years in law school or getting a Ph.D. But as the years unfolded I realized what a blessing seminary had been. I had a succession of remarkable teachers who believed that a true evangelical is always a seeker. T. B. Maston, one of the great souls in my life, taught Christian ethics and more than anyone else helped me to see into the southern enigma of having grown up well loved, well churched and well taught and yet still indifferent to the reality of other people’s lives. I learned about historical criticism, the beauty of the Greek language, and the witness of my Baptist ancestors to the power of conscience. That detour turned out to be quite a journey.

Later on, when I realized how almost every political and economic issue I dealt with in government and then as a journalist intersects with moral and ethical values, I was grateful for those years in seminary. They still inform my life.

So much is being written and said about the alliance between the religious right and the Republican Party. What role do you think religion should have in the public arena?

Whose religion? Christian? Muslim? Jew? Sikh? Buddhist? Catholic? Protestant? Shi’ite? Sunni? Orthodox? Conservative? Mormon? Amish? Wicca? For that matter, which Baptist? Bill Clinton or Pat Robertson? Newt Gingrich or Al Gore? And who is going to decide? The religion of one seems madness to another. Elaine Pagels said to me in an interview that she doesn’t know a single religion that affirms the other’s choice.(1)

If religion is the voice of the deepest human experience—and I believe it is—humanity contains multitudes, each speaking in a different tongue. Naturally, believers will bring their faith into the public square, translating their unique personal experience into political convictions and moral arguments. But politics is about settling differences while religion is about maintaining them. Let’s realize what a treasure we have in a secular democracy that guarantees your freedom to believe as you choose and mine to vote as I wish.

Some people on the left think the Democratic Party needs to be more explicitly religious. What do you think about that counterstrategy?

If you have to talk about God to win elections, that doesn’t speak well of God or elections. We are desperate today for cool thinking and clear analysis. What kind of country is it that wants its politicians to play tricks with faith?

As you look back on your work, what gives you the most satisfaction?

The happiest years of my life were the time I helped to organize the Peace Corps and served as its deputy director. We really did believe that we were engaged in the moral equivalent of war.

My long career in journalism has been a continuing course in adult education, and I have been fortunate to share what I have learned with so many others. We journalists are beachcombers on the shores of other people’s experience and knowledge, but we don’t take what we gather and lock it in the attic. Like a pastor in the pulpit, we’re engaged in a moral transaction. When people give us an hour of their lives—something they never get back—we owe them something of value in return. Keeping our end of the bargain isn’t easy, but it’s deeply satisfying.

(1) — hinduism, or sanatanadharma is the only religion i know of that, at it’s fundamental core, affirms, in fact, encourages individual choice.



This should probably be taped to your bathroom mirror where one could read it every day. You may not realize it, but it’s 100% true.

1. There are at least two people in this world that you would die for.

2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.

3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.

4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don’t like you.

5. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

6. You mean the world to someone.

7. You are special and unique.

8. Someone that you don’t even know exists loves you.

9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.

10. When you think the world has turned its back on you take another look.

11. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.

If you are a loving friend, send this to everyone, including the one that sent it to you. If you get it back, then they really do love you.

And always remember….
When life hands you Lemons, ask for tequila and salt and call me over!

Good friends are like stars….
You don’t always see them,
But you know they are always there.

“Whenever God Closes One Door He Always Opens Another, Even Though Sometimes It’s Hell in the Hallway”

I would rather have one rose and a kind word from a friend while I’m here than a whole truck load when I’m gone!

Forward to all your friends, including me
And don’t tell me you’re too busy for this…

Don’t you know the phrase “stop and smell the flowers”? See how many “bouquets” you end up with!


Quantum physics says goodbye to reality
20 April 2007
By Jon Cartwright

Some physicists are uncomfortable with the idea that all individual quantum events are innately random. This is why many have proposed more complete theories, which suggest that events are at least partially governed by extra “hidden variables”. Now physicists from Austria claim to have performed an experiment that rules out a broad class of hidden-variables theories that focus on realism — giving the uneasy consequence that reality does not exist when we are not observing it (Nature 446 871).

Some 40 years ago the physicist John Bell predicted that many hidden-variables theories would be ruled out if a certain experimental inequality were violated – known as “Bell’s inequality”. In his thought experiment, a source fires entangled pairs of linearly-polarized photons in opposite directions towards two polarizers, which can be changed in orientation. Quantum mechanics says that there should be a high correlation between results at the polarizers because the photons instantaneously “decide” together which polarization to assume at the moment of measurement, even though they are separated in space. Hidden variables, however, says that such instantaneous decisions are not necessary, because the same strong correlation could be achieved if the photons were somehow informed of the orientation of the polarizers beforehand.

Bell’s trick, therefore, was to decide how to orient the polarizers only after the photons have left the source. If hidden variables did exist, they would be unable to know the orientation, and so the results would only be correlated half of the time. On the other hand, if quantum mechanics was right, the results would be much more correlated – in other words, Bell’s inequality would be violated.

Many realizations of the thought experiment have indeed verified the violation of Bell’s inequality. These have ruled out all hidden-variables theories based on joint assumptions of realism, meaning that reality exists when we are not observing it; and locality, meaning that separated events cannot influence one another instantaneously. But a violation of Bell’s inequality does not tell specifically which assumption – realism, locality or both – is discordant with quantum mechanics.

Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.

They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”

However, Alain Aspect, a physicist who performed the first Bell-type experiment in the 1980s, thinks the team’s philosophical conclusions are subjective. “There are other types of non-local models that are not addressed by either Leggett’s inequalities or the experiment,” he said. “But I rather share the view that such debates, and accompanying experiments such as those by [the Austrian team], allow us to look deeper into the mysteries of quantum mechanics.”


i got a postcard order from eva funderburgh, which i printed and delivered today. they’re postcards for an upcoming gallery show on 4 may, and my guess is that she wanted them right away, so i delivered them by hand. there was nobody home, so i left them in the mailbox. the mail had already been delivered (otherwise i wouldn’t have left them, as i know that “tampering with the mail is a federal offense”), and there were names that i recognised on the mail that was already there, but at the same time, it felt a little odd just leaving them outside the house with nobody there to receive them. that’s the reason why i put insurance and delivery confirmation on packages that i mail out, and, because i was delivering them by hand, those options were not available to me. she knows that i’m delivering them, so if she doesn’t get them, i’m sure she’ll let me know, but if she doesn’t get them, then i’m probably going to have to make another run into seattle, probably tonight, to retrieve them from wherever it is that i dropped them off, which, although it has the right address, is apparently not the place…

aarrggh! why did i do that?

next time someone from seattle orders something, i’ll only deliver it if they’re there to meet me in person, so this doesn’t happen again… 8/


15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will
by Scott Gordon, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Sean O’Neal, Tasha Robinson, Kyle Ryan
April 23rd, 2007

1. “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”

The actual advice here is technically a quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s “good uncle” Alex, but Vonnegut was nice enough to pass it on at speeches and in A Man Without A Country. Though he was sometimes derided as too gloomy and cynical, Vonnegut’s most resonant messages have always been hopeful in the face of almost-certain doom. And his best advice seems almost ridiculously simple: Give your own happiness a bit of brainspace.

2. “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”

In Cat’s Cradle, the narrator haplessly stumbles across the cynical, cultish figure Bokonon, who populates his religious writings with moronic, twee aphorisms. The great joke of Bokononism is that it forces meaning on what’s essentially chaos, and Bokonon himself admits that his writings are lies. If the protagonist’s trip to the island nation of San Lorenzo has any cosmic purpose, it’s to catalyze a massive tragedy, but the experience makes him a devout Bokononist. It’s a religion for people who believe religions are absurd, and an ideal one for Vonnegut-style humanists.

3. “Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, ‘Why, why, why?’ Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand.”

Another koan of sorts from Cat’s Cradle and the Bokononist religion (which phrases many of its teachings as calypsos, as part of its absurdist bent), this piece of doggerel is simple and catchy, but it unpacks into a resonant, meaningful philosophy that reads as sympathetic to humanity, albeit from a removed, humoring, alien viewpoint. Man’s just another animal, it implies, with his own peculiar instincts, and his own way of shutting them down. This is horrifically cynical when considered closely: If people deciding they understand the world is just another instinct, then enlightenment is little more than a pit-stop between insoluble questions, a necessary but ultimately meaningless way of taking a sanity break. At the same time, there’s a kindness to Bokonon’s belief that this is all inevitable and just part of being a person. Life is frustrating and full of pitfalls and dead ends, but everybody’s gotta do it.

4. “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

This line from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater comes as part of a baptismal speech the protagonist says he’s planning for his neighbors’ twins: “Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” It’s an odd speech to make over a couple of infants, but it’s playful, sweet, yet keenly precise in its summation of everything a new addition to the planet should need to know. By narrowing down all his advice for the future down to a few simple words, Vonnegut emphasizes what’s most important in life. At the same time, he lets his frustration with all the people who obviously don’t get it leak through just a little.

5. “She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is doing.”

A couple of pages into Cat’s Cradle, protagonist Jonah/John recalls being hired to design and build a doghouse for a lady in Newport, R.I., who “claimed to understand God and His Ways of Working perfectly.” With such knowledge, “she could not understand why anyone should be puzzled about what had been or about what was going to be.” When Jonah shows her the doghouse’s blueprint, she says she can’t read it. He suggests taking it to her minister to pass along to God, who, when he finds a minute, will explain it “in a way that even you can understand.” She fires him. Jonah recalls her with a bemused fondness, ending the anecdote with this Bokonon quote. It’s a typical Vonnegut zinger that perfectly summarizes the inherent flaw of religious fundamentalism: No one really knows God’s ways.

6. “Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.'”

In this response to his own question — “Why bother?” — in Timequake, his last novel, Vonnegut doesn’t give a tired response about the urge to create; instead, he offers a pointed answer about how writing (and reading) make a lonesome world a little less so. The idea of connectedness—familial and otherwise—ran through much of his work, and it’s nice to see that toward the end of his career, he hadn’t lost the feeling that words can have an intimate, powerful impact.

7. “There are plenty of good reasons for fighting, but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too.”

Though this quote comes from the World War II-centered Mother Night (published in 1961), its wisdom and ugly truth still ring. Vonnegut (who often said “The only difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected”) was righteously skeptical about war, having famously survived the only one worth fighting in his lifetime. And it’s never been more true: Left or right, Christian or Muslim, those convinced they’re doing violence in service of a higher power and against an irretrievably inhuman enemy are the most dangerous creatures of all.

8. “Since Alice had never received any religious instruction, and since she had led a blameless life, she never thought of her awful luck as being anything but accidents in a very busy place. Good for her.”

Vonnegut’s excellent-but-underrated Slapstick (he himself graded it a “D”) was inspired by his sister Alice, who died of cancer just days after her husband was killed in an accident. Vonnegut’s assessment of Alice’s character—both in this introduction and in her fictional stand-in, Eliza Mellon Swain—is glowing and remarkable, and in this quote from the book’s introduction, he manages to swipe at a favorite enemy (organized religion) and quietly, humbly embrace someone he clearly still missed a lot.

9. “That is my principal objection to life, I think: It’s too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.”

The narrator delivering this line at the end of the first chapter of Deadeye Dick is alluding both to his father’s befriending of Hitler and his own accidental murder of his neighbor, but like so many of these quotes, it resonates well beyond its context. The underlying philosophy of Vonnegut’s work was always that existence is capricious and senseless, a difficult sentiment that he captured time and again with a bemused shake of the head. Indeed, the idea that life is just a series of small decisions that culminate into some sort of “destiny” is maddening, because you could easily ruin it all simply by making the wrong one. Ordering the fish, stepping onto a balcony, booking the wrong flight, getting married—a single misstep, and you’re done for. At least when you’re dead, you don’t have to make any more damn choices. Wherever Vonnegut is, he’s no doubt grateful for that.

10. “Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.”

Vonnegut touchstones like life on Tralfamadore and the absurd Bokononist religion don’t help people escape the world so much as see it with clearer reason, which probably had a lot to do with Vonnegut’s education as a chemist and anthropologist. So it’s unsurprising that in a “self-interview” for The Paris Review, collected in his non-fiction anthology Palm Sunday, he said the literary world should really be looking for talent among scientists and doctors. Even when taking part in such a stultifying, masturbatory exercise for a prestigious journal, Vonnegut was perfectly readable, because he never forgot where his true audience was.

11. “All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental.”

In Vonnegut’s final novel, 1997’s Timequake, he interacts freely with Kilgore Trout and other fictional characters after the end of a “timequake,” which forces humanity to re-enact an entire decade. (Trout winds up too worn out to exercise free will again.) Vonnegut writes his own fitting epigram for this fatalistic book: “All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental,” which sounds more funny than grim. Vonnegut surrounds his characters—especially Trout—with meaninglessness and hopelessness, and gives them little reason for existing in the first place, but within that, they find liberty and courage.

12. “Why don’t you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut? Why don’t you take a flying fuck at the mooooooooooooon?” (my favourite)

Even when Vonnegut dared to propose a utopian scheme, it was a happily dysfunctional one. In Slapstick, Wilbur Swain wins the presidency with a scheme to eliminate loneliness by issuing people complicated middle names (he becomes Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain) which make them part of new extended families. He advises people to tell new relatives they hate, or members of other families asking for help: “Why don’t you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut? Why don’t you take a flying fuck at the mooooooooooooon?” Of course, this fails to prevent plagues, the breakdown of his government, and civil wars later in the story.

13. “So it goes.”

Unlike many of these quotes, the repeated refrain from Vonnegut’s classic Slaughterhouse-Five isn’t notable for its unique wording so much as for how much emotion—and dismissal of emotion—it packs into three simple, world-weary words that simultaneously accept and dismiss everything. There’s a reason this quote graced practically every elegy written for Vonnegut over the past two weeks (yes, including ours): It neatly encompasses a whole way of life. More crudely put: “Shit happens, and it’s awful, but it’s also okay. We deal with it because we have to.”

14. “I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled ‘science fiction’ ever since, and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.”

Vonnegut was as trenchant when talking about his life as when talking about life in general, and this quote from an essay in Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons is particularly apt; as he explains it, he wrote Player Piano while working for General Electric, “completely surrounded by machines and ideas for machines,” which led him to put some ideas about machines on paper. Then it was published, “and I learned from the reviewers that I was a science-fiction writer.” The entire essay is wry, hilarious, and biting, but this line stands out in particular as typifying the kind of snappishness that made Vonnegut’s works so memorable.

15. “We must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

In Mother Night, apolitical expatriate American playwright Howard W. Campbell, Jr. refashions himself as a Nazi propagandist in order to pass coded messages on to the U.S. generals and preserve his marriage to a German woman—their “nation of two,” as he calls it. But in serving multiple masters, Campbell ends up ruining his life and becoming an unwitting inspiration to bigots. In his 1966 introduction to the paperback edition, Vonnegut underlines Mother Night‘s moral: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” That lesson springs to mind every time a comedian whose shtick relies on hoaxes and audience-baiting — or a political pundit who traffics in shock and hyperbole—gets hauled in front of the court of public opinion for pushing the act too far. Why can’t people just say what they mean? It’s a question Don Imus and Michael Richards — and maybe someday Ann Coulter — must ask themselves on their many sleepless nights.


Fascist America, in 10 easy steps
From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all
April 24, 2007
By Naomi Wolf

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy – but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree – domestically – as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government – the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens’ ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors – we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don’t learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of “homeland” security – remember who else was keen on the word “homeland” – didn’t raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable – as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.

Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a “war footing”; we were in a “global war” against a “global caliphate” intending to “wipe out civilisation”. There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space – the globe itself is the battlefield. “This time,” Fein says, “there will be no defined end.”

Creating a terrifying threat – hydra-like, secretive, evil – is an old trick. It can, like Hitler’s invocation of a communist threat to the nation’s security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist evocation of the “global conspiracy of world Jewry”, on myth.

It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain – which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks – than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms.

2. Create a gulag
Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal “outer space”) – where torture takes place.

At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, “enemies of the people” or “criminals”. Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders – opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists – are arrested and sent there as well.

This process took place in fascist shifts or anti-democracy crackdowns ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. It is standard practice for closing down an open society or crushing a pro-democracy uprising.

With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantánamo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA “black site” prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street.

Gulags in history tend to metastasise, becoming ever larger and more secretive, ever more deadly and formalised. We know from first-hand accounts, photographs, videos and government documents that people, innocent and guilty, have been tortured in the US-run prisons we are aware of and those we can’t investigate adequately.

But Americans still assume this system and detainee abuses involve only scary brown people with whom they don’t generally identify. It was brave of the conservative pundit William Safire to quote the anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller, who had been seized as a political prisoner: “First they came for the Jews.” Most Americans don’t understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.

By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People’s Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offences, and were subjected to show trials. Eventually, the Special Courts became a parallel system that put pressure on the regular courts to abandon the rule of law in favour of Nazi ideology when making decisions.

3. Develop a thug caste
When leaders who seek what I call a “fascist shift” want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.

The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America’s security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution

Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode – but the administration’s endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.

Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for “public order” on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station “to restore public order”.

4. Set up an internal surveillance system
In Mussolini’s Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China – in every closed society – secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched.

In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens’ phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.

In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about “national security”; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.

5. Harass citizens’ groups
The fifth thing you do is related to step four – you infiltrate and harass citizens’ groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favour of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.

Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 “suspicious incidents”. The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track “potential terrorist threats” as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as “terrorism”. So the definition of “terrorist” slowly expands to include the opposition.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
This scares people. It is a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the investigative reporters who wrote China Wakes: the Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, describe pro-democracy activists in China, such as Wei Jingsheng, being arrested and released many times. In a closing or closed society there is a “list” of dissidents and opposition leaders: you are targeted in this way once you are on the list, and it is hard to get off the list.

In 2004, America’s Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela’s government – after Venezuela’s president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.

Professor Walter F Murphy is emeritus of Princeton University; he is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the nation and author of the classic Constitutional Democracy. Murphy is also a decorated former marine, and he is not even especially politically liberal. But on March 1 this year, he was denied a boarding pass at Newark, “because I was on the Terrorist Watch list”.

“Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that,” asked the airline employee.

“I explained,” said Murphy, “that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution.”

“That’ll do it,” the man said.

Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of “enemy of the people” tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.

James Yee, a US citizen, was the Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo who was accused of mishandling classified documents. He was harassed by the US military before the charges against him were dropped. Yee has been detained and released several times. He is still of interest.

Brandon Mayfield, a US citizen and lawyer in Oregon, was mistakenly identified as a possible terrorist. His house was secretly broken into and his computer seized. Though he is innocent of the accusation against him, he is still on the list.

It is a standard practice of fascist societies that once you are on the list, you can’t get off.

7. Target key individuals
Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don’t toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile’s Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.

Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not “coordinate”, in Goebbels’ term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically “coordinate” early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.

Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.

Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that “waterboarding is torture” was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job.

Most recently, the administration purged eight US attorneys for what looks like insufficient political loyalty. When Goebbels purged the civil service in April 1933, attorneys were “coordinated” too, a step that eased the way of the increasingly brutal laws to follow.

8. Control the press
Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s – all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened “critical infrastructure” when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration.

Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy – a form of retaliation that ended her career.

Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC’s Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN’s Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.

Over time in closing societies, real news is supplanted by fake news and false documents. Pinochet showed Chilean citizens falsified documents to back up his claim that terrorists had been about to attack the nation. The yellowcake charge, too, was based on forged papers.

You won’t have a shutdown of news in modern America – it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it’s not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can’t tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.

9. Dissent equals treason
Cast dissent as “treason” and criticism as “espionage’. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of “spy” and “traitor”. When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times’ leaking of classified information “disgraceful”, while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the “treason” drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution.

Conason is right to note how serious a threat that attack represented. It is also important to recall that the 1938 Moscow show trial accused the editor of Izvestia, Nikolai Bukharin, of treason; Bukharin was, in fact, executed. And it is important to remind Americans that when the 1917 Espionage Act was last widely invoked, during the infamous 1919 Palmer Raids, leftist activists were arrested without warrants in sweeping roundups, kept in jail for up to five months, and “beaten, starved, suffocated, tortured and threatened with death”, according to the historian Myra MacPherson. After that, dissent was muted in America for a decade.

In Stalin’s Soviet Union, dissidents were “enemies of the people”. National Socialists called those who supported Weimar democracy “November traitors”.

And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realise that since September of last year – when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 – the president has the power to call any US citizen an “enemy combatant”. He has the power to define what “enemy combatant” means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define “enemy combatant” any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly.

Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin’s gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantánamo’s, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantánamo, is all isolation cells.)

We US citizens will get a trial eventually – for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even US citizens fair trials. “Enemy combatant” is a status offence – it is not even something you have to have done. “We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model – you look like you could do something bad, you might do something bad, so we’re going to hold you,” says a spokeswoman of the CCR.

Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests – usually of opposition leaders, clergy and journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn’t real dissent. There just isn’t freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.

10. Suspend the rule of law
The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency – which the president now has enhanced powers to declare – he can send Michigan’s militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state’s governor and its citizens.

Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears’s meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole’s baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: “A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night … Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any ‘other condition’.”

Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act – which was meant to restrain the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. The Democratic senator Patrick Leahy says the bill encourages a president to declare federal martial law. It also violates the very reason the founders set up our system of government as they did: having seen citizens bullied by a monarch’s soldiers, the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias’ power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction.

Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini’s march on Rome or Hitler’s roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.

Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.

It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere – while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: “dogs go on with their doggy life … How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster.”

As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are “at war” in a “long war” – a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president – without US citizens realising it yet – the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.

That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions – and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the “what ifs”.

What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack – say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani – because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.

What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.

Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us – staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody’s help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a US unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.

We need to look at history and face the “what ifs”. For if we keep going down this road, the “end of America” could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before – and this is the way it is now.

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands … is the definition of tyranny,” wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.


note to :

1) go to google
2) type in “where to find tie dye objects
3) observe that number three in the list is Hybrid Elephant

now, how do we get more people with money to find out about it… 8)

common phrases that people use to hit my web pages include: html escape characters, html escape sequence, html escape codes, html escape sequences, html relative address, html escape character, shirts(!), html escape apostrophe, relative address html, computer graphic, html &sp, auroshikha agarbathies, hybrid elephant, sarathi perfumery works, html character escape, spiritual images, define chandan, elephant jewelry, html escape code, btu hp conversion, absolute address, conversion gwh, mwh conversion, graphic services, siva lingams, escape html characters, html &sp;, ardhanariswara, html tab escape, elephant graphic, conversion nm to lbft, convert btu to mw, html escape values, measurement conversion, hybrid elephants, html escape tab, html escape symbols, conversion mwh, narmada lingam, &sp html, convert twh to kwh, html relative addresses, vira ganapati, conversion horsepower btu, elvish writing, &sp; html, mo chada(?), html character escape codes, mwh to mw conversion, cucumber graphics, html escaped tab, define mogra, html tutorial escape, html escape, define benzoin, hindu sacred stones, relative addressing html, rune, web, html entities paren, html absolute address, html character escapes, hangul.syllables 8859, html relative location, escape sequence in html, armada shiva lingams india, html escaped apostrophe, green champa, buttons, why use html escape sequences, saint fred, ‐ html, special characters escape sequences, lord siva, narmada river shiva linga, mwh conversions, absolute address html, hybrid stickers, html relative addressing, convert metric force kgf/cm, &brkbar html, define makko, unicode escape sequences chart, gram to oz to grain converson, dhoop, kali ma, define masala, hindu imagery, auroshikha, elephant hybrid, define dhoop, html apostrophe escape, elvish letters, kerala-grass, siva lingam, html escape character ö ä, auroshikha agarbathies incense, sindarian, conversion mw to btu, nippon kodo incense…

which may give you a clue about which page has the most traffic, if you haven’t already figured it out…



my keyboard isn’t working – that is my piano keyboard, not my typing keyboard. i hooked it up just like i did the last time i had it set up, but nothing happened. usually there’s a little icon that appears in the systray that indicates i’ve got USB hardware plugged in, and everything just works… but now, no little icon in the systray, and no sound, even when i trigger the oscillator manually… wait a second… well, i figured out that if i turn up the volume (D’OH!) i get sound when i trigger the oscilator manually, but i still don’t get any MIDI control…

stupid windoesn’t… 8P


yesterday this icon showed up on my cell phone, and i can’t figure out what it means. it’s an icon that looks like a speaker with sound waves coming out of it, and it’s not the voice-mail indicator, nor the indicator for any kind of messaging system the phone has, and it’s not the earpiece volume indicator, nor the indicator for anything you have control over the volume of that the phone has… and there’s no way to set the phone so that it has text-messages rather than icon-messages for alerts – like the icons that mysteriously appear and then won’t go away, like this phone has… and the quick reference guide that came with the phone doesn’t have a picture of the phone with all the icons lit and an explanation of what they mean, like every other cell phone that i have owned, which means i’m likely going to go down to the mall, where there’s a verizon wireless store to get them to tell me what it means. 8/

yesterday i got an incense order, and friday i got a postcard order back from the printer. also, yesterday i finally found the CD mailer that i was looking for, so that i can mail the CD i got from to darol, who first turned me on to xir music, so i’ll probably go to the mall after i go to the post office. i hate having to go to the verizon store for just about any reason, because 1) i used to work for the company that makes the software that goes inside the phones they sell people, so in spite of the fact that i don’t know what all the little icons mean, i know more about what goes on inside the phones than they do, which means that 2) i can tell right away when they don’t know how the software works and lie to me instead of saying that they don’t know, which is every time i go to the verizon store. i don’t like being lied to, and i’d prefer that if they are going to lie to somebody, that they do it with someone other than me, especially when they are going to lie to me and then charge me to use their products.

we had a fremont phil rehearsal last night: the first time we’ve gotten together since the MF ended. we discussed the issue that goes along side the fact that fred wants to “license” his music to us, which is that if we’re not going to play any of fred’s music, we’ve got to start coming up with more music to replace it. we’ve currently got a good deal of music which isn’t fred’s (which is a good thing, since we’re scheduled to play at “Shower To The People”, seanjohn and josh’s late night cabaret thing, on friday), but we need more. to that end, i’ve decided that i really need to set up my keyboard so that i can do things like start arranging The Holy Modal Rounders’ “Euphoria” – which we want to play at OCF this year – and fixing the parts for my own pieces… and, potentially, creating new ones. we’ve got to have something to replace “Pyros On Parade” (which those of you who have actually seen the Fremont Phil will probably know as “The Siren Song”).

i got a “supplement” at costco the last time i was there, which says that it compares to “focus factor”, whose spam i have noticed on TV for the past couple of years. it has at least 10 lines of 6-point type of ingredients, and provides at least 100% RDA of nutrients like vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D and E. it is claims that it is “nutrition for your brain” and it “supports concentration and memory”.

well, i need that…

i need that… my memory has become even more sieve-like in the past few years, which is not to say that it was a great retainer of recent information before my injury… not to mention my… er… um… uh…


aphasia, that’s it… aphasia…


but, at the same time, it also says “these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA”, which makes me think that i don’t really know whether this will do anything at all or not, despite my general suspicion of government agencies.


Waco, Oklahoma City, Columbine and Virginia Tech
by Anthony Gregory
April 19, 2007

This week in April marks the fourteenth anniversary of the Waco massacre, the eighth anniversary of Columbine, and, in years to come, the anniversary of the largest mass shooting in American history – the massacre at Virginia Tech.

It is also the twelfth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which itself was carried out precisely two years after the Waco standoff ended in a deadly conflagration.

All civilized human beings see such horrific acts of mass killing as unspeakably tragic. In the midst of any such explosion of seemingly senseless violence, it is common to hear questions as to how and why such a thing happened, so we can formulate possible answers as to how such atrocities might not happen again, or at least happen much less frequently than they do.

Starting with the most recent of these horrors, and moving backwards in time, it is worth reflecting on the most commonly heard explanations for such violence.

Already, some conservatives are looking for some connection between the Korean student who committed mass murder on 4/16 and Islamist terrorists. Since 9/11, we have heard many acts of gang violence and individual criminality blamed on Islam itself. Ultimately, this is all to shore up more support for the state’s foreign and domestic war on terror.

The center-left media, however, are making the predictable inferences: The problem is easy access to weapons. It’s exceedingly easy to purchase handguns in the state of Virginia. What is ignored is that it’s illegalto bring such weapons on to the campus of Virginia Tech, and certainly illegal to use them for murder. Another law wouldn’t have disrupted the plans of a madman determined to kill.

As for madness, we are also hearing reports that Seung Cho had written disturbing stories and had a history of psychiatric treatment. Perhaps if the university community and local police had been more vigilant, his unsettling proclivity for violent fantasy would have been caught before it culminated in real-life slaughter.

Of course, thousands of American youth write graphically appalling stories and many more behave like loners and outcasts. The implication here is that a certain form of suspicious behavior needs to be caught early and somehow managed by schools and the government. People should take notice of who is in their communities, but when it’s politicized and taken to the extreme, this is the basis for criminalizing thought and censoring ideas, for the preemptive law enforcement we see in the dystopian film, Minority Report.

Just as thousands of students probably exhibit peculiar behavior, thousands probably wore trench coats in the late 1990s and millions saw The Matrix.But back in 1999, after the Columbine massacre transpired, the two killers had been in the “Trench Coat Mafia” and the conclusion was that somehow loners wearing such clothing and keeping to themselves, inspired by the violent action in the film The Matrix, should be watched closely. In that case, the perpetrators had broken plenty of gun laws, but weak gun laws were also blamed. Just as with Virginia Tech, odd behavior and inanimate objects were seen as the problem.

Rewind back to Oklahoma City in 1995 and it was rightwing, anti-government opinions that were blamed. It made little sense to attack the availability of such pedestrian items as rental trucks and fertilizer. So the focus was on ideas. Even rightwing talk radio had contributed to this terrorist attack, we were told. What was not so emphasized was the fact that McVeigh had been trained by the US military and had been a Gulf War veteran. He was said to have seen his victims as collateral damage in an act of war against the US government, largely for what it had done, exactly two years before, at Waco.

Going back to 1993, the Waco massacre would seem to have altogether different lessons. This couldn’t have been attributed to anti-social, anti-establishment, anti-government attitudes and conduct – could it? After all, it was the US government that was responsible for this tragedy. It had smashed the side of the Branch Davidian home, filled the inside with flammable and poisonous CS gas, and projected incendiary devices at the building. The fire that took the lives of about 80 civilians was the end of a 51-day standoff that the US government had initiated as a public relations booster for the ATF.

Yet, in response to Waco, the establishment line was simply that the Davidians, and especially their leader David Koresh, were crazed, dangerous and hostile. The rationales in this case were always dubious and shifting: determined to wage their staged raid, the feds had first claimed the Davidians had a methamphetamine lab, partly to bureaucratically justify assistance from the military, and then claimed they had illegal weapons. It was claimed that Koresh was totally irrational and beyond negotiation. He was at points compared to Adolf Hitler and other such dictatorial loons. The feds also claimed he was holding his followers hostage, yet when people tried to leave the building during the standoff, the FBI would throw flash-bang grenades toward the home, frightening them back into it.

Even Waco was blamed not on overbearing government, but on antisocial, extremist, anti-government thinking and behavior. The Davidians had been living at peace with their neighbors, but they were different enough, weird enough, to warrant state aggression.

And here we see the true commonality in all these massacres: They were all acts of mass aggression and inhumanity and they all existed in the context of a highly politicized world where state aggression is wrongly defended but private aggression is rightfully condemned.

The deaths at Waco were a direct result of federal violence against the Branch Davidians. Oklahoma City was Waco’s terroristic antithesis, conducted by men trained in the techniques and moral principles of government warfare. Columbine and Virginia Tech both happened at government facilities, where the soft, hidden coercion of gun control and government protection failed to protect anyone and only left victims defenseless. Both Columbine and Virginia Tech also each occurred against a backdrop of a foreign war of aggression – Clinton’s war with Serbia, in the case of Columbine, and Bush’s war in Iraq, in the case of Virginia Tech. Both Clinton’s and Bush’s wars consumed about as many lives per day as each of these school massacres did in a single instance, yet we are automatically supposed to regard one type of violence as completely different from the other type.

But what underlies all these acts of mass violence is murderous aggression against the individual, the initiation of force against the peaceful. All such violence should be condemned and none of it excused. But the reason we instead hear complaints of out-of-season coats on teenagers or violent video games, easy access to handguns or gruesome stories, bizarre religions or conservative radio is because all such idiosyncratic scapegoats detract from the evil of aggression itself and thus serve the purposes of more government control.

The state is the embodiment of organized aggression. It is, after all, the legal institution that monopolizes the right to commit theft (taxation), kidnapping (mandatory attendance laws), slavery (conscription), and mass murder (war). It imprisons millions, loots trillions and slaughters civilians as a matter of course. Its powers cannot be expanded and directed to foster peace, since, to the extent it is empowered, it is at war with the principles of civilization and the rule of law – the principles that the rest of us must abide for us to be considered acting legally and peacefully among other humans.

Ultimately, the state attributes massacres to drugged or insufficiently drugged quirky extremists, gun accessibility and anti-American, anti-mainstream thinking because understanding the true universal evils – aggression, and the ideologies that allow for aggression, of which statism is the most common variety – would reveal that the state itself is the very fulfillment of atrocity. Indeed, statism is ubiquitous in our culture, and it is very mainstream. It is why governments get away with dropping bombs on children.

By deemphasizing the nature and evil of aggression itself and instead focusing on the quirks and antisocial habits of terrorists and criminals, the establishment line on all these tragedies and mass crimes effectively covers up that the greatest problem in all human affairs is interpersonal aggression, whatever the source. This serves the violent democratic state, which can always claim to stand for moderation, mainstream ideology and social normality.

But it is the democratic state in America that slaughtered American Indians at Wounded Knee and religious outsiders at Waco. It is that state that nuked Nagasaki and set Cambodia ablaze. It is that organization of moderation and the American way of life that was starving Iraqi children with a hunger blockade as the Oklahoma City bombing unfolded, dropping cluster bombs on Yugoslavia during the Columbine tragedy, and maintaining violent occupations abroad as Virginia Tech fell victim to the largest school shooting in America.

Is it wrong to point this out? Why should it be? The US government and its kept media spin every human tragedy as a reason to give more power to the state – even though, in nearly every such tragedy, the government either totally failed to make matters better or succeeded catastrophically in making matters much worse. Why shouldn’t we show, at every opportunity, that giving more power to the state only makes such tragedies more likely?

The state is not the direction to look for solutions to instances of mass aggression, for the state itself is aggression. Its aggressive nature only encourages more aggression throughout society, as it warps the public morality and gives example after example demonstrating that might makes right, at least from the mainstream political perspective. Its intimidation and extortion are clear every April when Americans have to turn in their tax forms, knowing they can be jailed if they made an honest mistake or even if the IRS simply bungles something. And the naked aggression of the state and its institutional disadvantage at protecting people should also be clear every April, as we reflect on the massacres the government has conducted, the ones it enabled, and the ones it failed to prevent.


i need a favour: i need someone to hit Hybrid Elephant, right-click on any image, choose “View Image” (or whatever it says like that) and tell me what happens.

if you wanna be really adventurous (and have the free time and web space), you can right-click, select “copy image location” (or whatever it says) and post the resulting URI in the appropriate image tag on a web page somewhere (in other words, hotlink an image from Hybrid Elephant), and respond to this with a link so that i can go and see what it does.

nothing bad will happen, i promise. 8) one disadvantage to having a fixed IP address is that it doesn’t work for me, regardless of which computer i’m using, and i don’t have ready access to any IP addresses other than my own…


Reid: U.S. can’t win the war in Iraq
April 19, 2007

WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday the war in Iraq is “lost,” triggering an angry backlash by Republicans who said the top Democrat had turned his back on the troops.

The bleak assessment was the sharpest yet from Reid, who has vowed to send President Bush legislation calling for combat to end next year. Reid said he told Bush on Wednesday that he thought the war could not be won through military force and only through political, economic and diplomatic means.

“I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and — you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows — (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday,” said Reid, D-Nev.

Republicans pounced on the comment as evidence, they said, that Democrats do not support the troops.

“I can’t begin to imagine how our troops in the field, who are risking their lives every day, are going to react when they get back to base and hear that the Democrat leader of the United States Senate has declared the war is lost,” said Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The exchange came as the House headed toward a vote Thursday on whether to demand that troops leave Iraq next year. Last month, the House passed legislation that funded the war in Iraq but ordered combat missions to end by September 2008. The Senate passed similar, less-sweeping legislation that would set a nonbinding goal of bringing combat troops home by March 31, 2008.

Bush said he would veto either measure and warned that troops are being harmed by Congress’ failure to deliver the funds quickly.

The Pentagon says it has enough money to pay for the Iraq war through June. The Army is taking “prudent measures” aimed at ensuring that delays in the bill financing the war do not harm troop readiness, according to instructions sent to Army commanders and budget officials April 14.

While $70 billion that Congress provided in September for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has mostly run out, the Army has told department officials to slow the purchase of nonessential repair parts and other supplies, restrict the use of government charge cards, and limit travel.

The Army also will delay contracts for facilities repair and environmental restoration, according to instructions from Army Comptroller Nelson Ford. He said the accounting moves are similar to those enacted last year when the Republican-led Congress did not deliver a war funding bill to Bush until mid-June.

More stringent steps would be taken in May, such as a hiring freeze and firing temporary employees, but exceptions are made for any war-related activities or anything that “would result immediately in the degradation of readiness standards” for troops in Iraq or those slated for deployment.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called the Democrat’s stance “disturbing” and all but dared Reid to cut off funding for the war.

“If this is his true feeling, then it makes one wonder if he has the courage of his convictions and therefore will decide to defund the war,” she said.

Reid has left that possibility open. The majority leader supports separate legislation that would cut off funding for combat missions after March 2008. The proposal would allow money spent on such efforts as counterterrorism efforts and training Iraqi security forces.

Reid and other Democrats were initially reluctant to discuss such draconian measures to end the war, but no longer.

“I’m not sure much is impossible legislatively,” Reid said Thursday. “The American people have indicated . . . that they are fed up with what’s going on.”

Al-Qaida chief appointed minister of war
April 19, 2007

CAIRO, Egypt – A Sunni insurgent coalition posted Web videos on Thursday naming the head of al-Qaida in Iraq as “minister of war” and showing the execution of 20 men it said were members of the Iraqi military and security forces.

The announcement unveiling an “Islamic Cabinet” for Iraq appeared to have multiple aims. One was to present the Islamic State of Iraq coalition as a “legitimate” alternative to the U.S.-backed, Shiite-led administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — and to demonstrate that it was growing in power despite the U.S. military push against insurgents.

It also likely sought to establish the coalition’s dominance among insurgents after an embarrassing public dispute with other Iraqi Sunni militants.

The Islamic State of Iraq is a coalition of eight insurgent groups, the most powerful of them al-Qaida in Iraq. It was first announced in October, claiming to hold territory in the Sunni-dominated areas of western and central Iraq.

In the Cabinet announcement video, a man identified as a spokesman for the group appeared, with his face obscured, speaking from behind a desk with a flat-screen computer.

“It is the duty at our present stage to form this Cabinet, the first Islamic Cabinet, which has faith in God,” said the spokesman, wearing robes and a red headdress.

He denounced Iraq’s rulers for the past decades — including Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party and the present government — saying they “spread corruption and ruined the country and its people, until God helped the mujahideen (holy warriors) bring torture upon them.”

“Now the Islamic State emerges as a state for Islam and the mujahideen,” he said.

He then listed a 10-member “Cabinet,” including Abu Hamza al-Muhajer as “war minister.” Al-Muhajer is the name announced as the successor of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed in the summer of 2006. The U.S. military and Iraqi government have identified him by another pseudonym, Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

The names listed by the spokesman were all pseudonyms and their real names were not known — though the pseudonyms included the names of some major Sunni Arab tribes.

The Islamic state is led by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who holds the title of “emir (prince) of the faithful.”

Sheik Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Falahi was named as the emir’s “first minister,” the spokesman said. Other positions included ministers of information, “prisoners and martyrs,” agriculture and health.

The video came on the heels of a rare public dispute between the coalition and other insurgent groups.

In past week, another Sunni insurgent group, the Islamic Army in Iraq, has issued statements accusing al-Qaida of killing its members and trying to force others to join its ranks. Al-Baghdadi tried to patch up the dispute by issuing a Web audiotape this week calling for unity and promising to punish any of his group’s members who kill other insurgents.

Al-Qaida in Iraq is blamed for some of the deadliest suicide bombings against Shiite civilians, as well as numerous attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqi soldiers and police. The U.S. military has blamed it for a devastating bombing Wednesday in Baghdad’s Sadriyah market.

The message came after hours after another video from the group showing a masked gunmen walking down a row of men, blindfolded and bound, shooting each in the back of the head.

The video purported to show 20 Iraqi police and soldiers that the Islamic State in Iraq claimed six days earlier to have kidnapped northwest of Baghdad. It had threatened to kill them after 48 hours unless the government freed female prisoners and handed over police accused of rapes in the northern town of Tal Afar.

The Iraqi government has denied that 20 police and soldiers were kidnapped. Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said Thursday that the men in the video could not be identified and said the insurgents may have dressed up civilians to kill them.

“We checked with our commands then and all the troops were accounted for,” Khalaf told The Associated Press. “They are immoral criminals. They have used all criminal methods and we don’t rule out that they executed civilians who they dressed in military uniforms.”


Back to 18?
A new chorus of critics says it’s time to lower the drinking age.
By Radley Balko
April 12, 2007

It’s been 20 years that America has had a minimum federal drinking age. The policy began to gain momentum in the early 1980s, when the increasingly influential Mothers Against Drunk Driving added the federal minimum drinking age to its legislative agenda. By 1984, it had won over a majority of the Congress.

President Reagan initially opposed the law on federalism grounds but eventually was persuaded by his transportation secretary at the time, now-Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Over the next three years every state had to choose between adopting the standard or forgoing federal highway funding; most complied. A few held out until the deadline, including Vermont, which fought the law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (and lost).

Twenty years later, the drawbacks of the legislation are the same as they were when it was passed.

The first is that the age set by the legislation is basically arbitrary. The U.S. has the highest drinking age in the world (a title it shares with Indonesia, Mongolia, Palau). The vast majority of the rest of the world sets the minimum age at 17 or 16 or has no minimum age at all.

Supporters of the federal minimum argue that the human brain continues developing until at least the age of 21.

Alcohol expert Dr. David Hanson of the State University of New York at Potsdam argues such assertions reek of junk science. They’re extrapolated from a study on lab mice, he explains, as well as from a small sample of actual humans already dependent on alcohol or drugs. Neither is enough to make broad proclamations about the entire population.

If the research on brain development is true, the U.S. seems to be the only country to have caught on to it.

Oddly enough, high school students in much of the rest of the developed world — where lower drinking ages and laxer enforcement reign — do considerably better than U.S. students on standardized tests.

The second drawback of the federal drinking age is that it set the stage for tying federal mandates to highway funds, enabling Congress to meddle in all sorts of state and local affairs it has no business attempting to regulate — so long as it can make a tortured argument about highway safety.

Efforts to set national speed limits, seat belt laws, motorcycle helmet laws and set a national blood-alcohol standard for DWI cases have rested on the premise that the federal government can blackmail the states with threats to cut off funding.

The final drawback is pretty straightforward: It makes little sense that America considers an 18-year-old mature enough to marry, to sign a contract, to vote and to fight and die for his country, but not mature enough to decide whether or not to have a beer.

So for all of those drawbacks, has the law worked? Supporters seem to think so. Their primary argument is the dramatic drop in the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities since the minimum age first passed Congress in 1984. They also cite relative drops in the percentage of underage drinkers before and after the law went into effect.

But a new chorus is emerging to challenge the conventional wisdom. The most vocal of these critics is John McCardell Jr., the former president of Middlebury College in Vermont. McCardell’s experience in higher education revealed to him that the federal age simply wasn’t working.

It may have negligibly reduced total underage consumption, but those who did consume were much more likely to do so behind closed doors and to drink to excess in the short time they had access to alcohol. McCardell recently started the organization Choose Responsibility, which advocates moving the drinking age back to 18.

McCardell explains that the drop in highway fatalities often cited by supporters of the 21 minimum age actually began in the late 1970s, well before the federal drinking age set in.

What’s more, McCardell recently explained in an online chat for the “Chronicle of Higher Education,” the drop is better explained by safer and better built cars, increased seat belt use and increasing awareness of the dangers of drunken driving than in a federal standard.

The age at highest risk for an alcohol-related auto fatality is 21, followed by 22 and 23, an indication that delaying first exposure to alcohol until young adults are away from home may not be the best way to introduce them to drink.

McCardell isn’t alone. Kenyon College President S. Georgia Nugent has expressed frustration with the law, particularly in 2005 after the alcohol-related death of a Kenyon student. And former Time magazine editor and higher ed reporter Barrett Seaman echoed McCardell’s concerns in 2005.

The period since the 21 minimum drinking age took effect has been “marked by a shift from beer to hard liquor,” Seaman wrote in Time, “consumed not in large social settings, since that was now illegal, but furtively and dangerously in students’ residences. In my reporting at colleges around the country, I did not meet any presidents or deans who felt the 21-year age minimum helps their efforts to curb the abuse of alcohol on their campuses.”

The federal drinking age has become somewhat sacrosanct among public health activists, who’ve consistently relied on the accident data to quell debate over the law’s merits.

They’ve moved on to other battles, such as scolding parents for giving their own kids a taste of alcohol before the age of 21 or attacking the alcohol industry for advertising during sporting events or in magazines aimed at adults that are sometimes read by people under the age of 21.

But after 20 years, perhaps it’s time to take a second look—a sound, sober (pardon the pun), science-based look—at the law’s costs and benefits, as well as the sound philosophical objections to it.

McCardell provides a welcome voice in a debate too often dominated by hysterics. But beyond McCardell, Congress should really consider abandoning the federal minimum altogether, or at least the federal funding blackmail that gives it teeth.

State and local governments are far better at passing laws that reflect the values, morals and habits of their communities.

but in britain…

Call to raise drinking age to 21
Britain should consider making the legal drinking age 21 as it has “lost the plot” when it comes to regulating alcohol, policy pundits claim.
15 April 2007

The UK has one of the worst problems in Europe with a fifth of children aged 11 to 15 drinking at least once a week.

Public Policy Research (PPR), the journal of the IPPR think-tank, says it is time to practise “tough love”, such as reviewing the minimum drinking age.

The government said there were already tough measures in place.

Binge culture
But columnist Jasper Gerard argues in PPR: “When it comes to booze, society seems to have lost its senses.”

He says current regulations are failing to tackle the growing trend of underage and binge drinking.

By raising the age threshold, he claims: “It is at least possible that those in their early and mid teens will not see drink as something they will soon be allowed to do so therefore they might as well start doing it surreptitiously now.”

Alternatively, he proposes getting 18-year-olds to carry smart cards which record how much they have drunk each night and making it an offence to serve more alcohol to anyone under-21 who had already consumed more than three units.

He conceded that no measure would stamp out youthful drinking entirely, but said it was time for a crackdown.

Alcohol Concern agreed that further action was needed, but did not think raising the legal drinking age would help, pointing out that other countries which have already done this, including the US, still have a problem with youth drinking.

But a spokesman added: “There is a sense that the regulatory landscape is lopsided.

“Licensing reform, resistance to a debate on taxation, the cancellation of the Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaigns which raised the profile of underage drinking issues – all happening at a time when alcohol-related harm is rising – seem to suggest the government is more concerned about making sure the drinks industry operates with as little interference as possible than with seriously grasping the nettle.”

However, David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, said the drinks industry was already subject to “very strict and effective” regulations.

He said: “What we really need to do is change the drinking culture through education rather than making drinking a social taboo by raising the legal drinking age.”

A government spokesman said: “The majority of people drink sensibly and responsibly and the government has no plans to raise the minimum drinking age.

“Instead, we are using a combination of effective education and tough enforcement to change the behaviour of the minority that don’t.”

He said there had been campaigns to cut sales to underage drinkers and restrictions on TV advertising of alcohol, as well as education programmes in schools about the dangers of drinking.

‘Talking’ CCTV scolds offenders
“Talking” CCTV cameras that tell off people dropping litter or committing anti-social behaviour are to be extended to 20 areas across England.
4 April 2007

They are already used in Middlesbrough where people seen misbehaving can be told to stop via a loudspeaker, controlled by control centre staff.

About £500,000 will be spent adding speaker facilities to existing cameras.

Shadow home affairs minister James Brokenshire said the government should be “very careful” over the cameras.

Home Secretary John Reid told BBC News there would be some people, “in the minority who will be more concerned about what they claim are civil liberties intrusions”.

“But the vast majority of people find that their life is more upset by people who make their life a misery in the inner cities because they can’t go out and feel safe and secure in a healthy, clean environment because of a minority of people,” he added.

The talking cameras did not constitute “secret surveillance”, he said.

“It’s very public, it’s interactive.”

Competitions would also be held at schools in many of the areas for children to become the voice of the cameras, Mr Reid said.

Downing Street’s “respect tsar”, Louise Casey, said the cameras “nipped problems in the bud” and reduced bureaucracy.

“It gets across the message, ‘please don’t litter our streets because someone else will have to pay to pick up that litter again’,” she told BBC News.

“Half a billion pounds a year is spent picking up litter.”

‘Scarecrow policing’
Mr Brokenshire told the BBC he had a number of concerns about the use of the talking cameras.

“Whether this is moving down a track of almost ‘scarecrow’ policing rather than real policing – actually insuring that we have more bobbies on the beat – I think that’s what we really want to see, albeit that an initiative like this may be an effective tool in certain circumstances.

“We need to be very careful about applying this more generally.”

The talking cameras will be installed in Southwark, Barking and Dagenham, in London, Reading, Harlow, Norwich, Ipswich, Plymouth, Gloucester, Derby, Northampton, Mansfield, Nottingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Wirral, Blackpool, Salford, South Tyneside and Darlington.

In Middlesbrough, staff in a control centre monitor pictures from 12 talking cameras and can communicate directly with people on the street.

Local councillor Barry Coppinger says the scheme has prevented fights and criminal damage and cut litter levels.

“Generally, I think it has raised awareness that the town centre is a safe place to visit and also that we are keeping an eye open to make sure it is safe,” he said.

But opponent and campaigner Steve Hills said: “Apart from being absurd, I think it’s rather sad that we should have faceless cameras barking at us on orders from who? Who sets these cameras up?”

There are an estimated 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain.

A recent study by the government’s privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner, warned that Britain was becoming a “surveillance society”.

George Orwell, Big Brother is watching your house
31 March, 2007

The Big Brother nightmare of George Orwell’s 1984 has become a reality – in the shadow of the author’s former London home.

It may have taken a little longer than he predicted, but Orwell’s vision of a society where cameras and computers spy on every person’s movements is now here.

According to the latest studies, Britain has a staggering 4.2million CCTV cameras – one for every 14 people in the country – and 20 per cent of cameras globally. It has been calculated that each person is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.

Use of spy cameras in modern-day Britain is now a chilling mirror image of Orwell’s fictional world, created in the post-war Forties in a fourth-floor flat overlooking Canonbury Square in Islington, North London.

On the wall outside his former residence – flat number 27B – where Orwell lived until his death in 1950, an historical plaque commemorates the anti-authoritarian author. And within 200 yards of the flat, there are 32 CCTV cameras, scanning every move.

Orwell’s view of the tree-filled gardens outside the flat is under 24-hour surveillance from two cameras perched on traffic lights.

The flat’s rear windows are constantly viewed from two more security cameras outside a conference centre in Canonbury Place.

In a lane, just off the square, close to Orwell’s favourite pub, the Compton Arms, a camera at the rear of a car dealership records every person entering or leaving the pub.

Within a 200-yard radius of the flat, there are another 28 CCTV cameras, together with hundreds of private, remote-controlled security cameras used to scrutinise visitors to homes, shops and offices.

The message is reminiscent of a 1949 poster to mark the launch of Orwell’s 1984: ‘Big Brother is Watching You’.

In the Shriji grocery store in Canonbury Place, three cameras focus on every person in the shop. Owner Minesh Amin explained: ‘They are for our security and safety. Without them, people would steal from the shop. Although this is a nice area, there are always bad people who cause trouble by stealing.’

Three doors away, in the dry-cleaning shop run by Malik Zafar, are another two CCTV cameras.

‘I need to know who is coming into my shop,’ explained Mr Zafar, who spent £400 on his security system.

This week, the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) produced a report highlighting the astonishing numbers of CCTV cameras in the country and warned how such ‘Big Brother tactics’ could eventually put lives at risk.

The RAE report warned any security system was ‘vulnerable to abuse, including bribery of staff and computer hackers gaining access to it’. One of the report’s authors, Professor Nigel Gilbert, claimed the numbers of CCTV cameras now being used is so vast that further installations should be stopped until the need for them is proven.

One fear is a nationwide standard for CCTV cameras which would make it possible for all information gathered by individual cameras to be shared – and accessed by anyone with the means to do so.

The RAE report follows a warning by the Government’s Information Commissioner Richard Thomas that excessive use of CCTV and other information-gathering was ‘creating a climate of suspicion’.

ring… ring… ring…

me: hello?

alex: hi this is alex, i’m calling from (some mortgage company)

me: could you tell me how you got this number?

alex: i got it from our marketing department… do you have a fixed rate mortgage?

me: i can’t answer your question in the interests of this investigation. is this your full time job?

alex: is this my full time job?

me: or do you just work part time?

alex: full time, do you have a fixed rate mortgage?

me: i can’t provide you with this information because i need unprejudiced answers. do you also live in washington?

alex: no, i live in san diego, california. do you have a fixed rate mortgage?

me: an answer to this question might jeopardise the partiality of this investigation and it would prove unreliable. how long have you been in the telemarketing business?

alex: telemarketing? but i’m not trying to sell you anything…

me: you are in the business of cold-calling people and asking personal questions, how long have you been in that business?

alex: but i’m not trying to sell you anything…

me: i’m sorry, but the information you ask for is unfortunately not available to you. how long have you been in the telemarketing business?

alex: oh, er, um, five years… more than five years…

me: and do you like your job?

alex: do i like my job?

me: is it a pleasant job?

alex: (says something to somebody on his end of the phone) do i like my job?

me: yes, that’s what i said…

alex: <CLICK!>

i’ve always wanted a spam-caller to hang up on me in frustration!

chalk up another one to the counterscript!!


okay, that’s it… i’m going to paint more on my art car… big surprise, huh?

i’ve discovered that putting my web site address on my car will help in a couple of big ways: first, it will give a place where people who see it “in motion” to go and find out more information about it, rather than just wondering, and second, it will prompt people to look at the rest of my web site as well.

i made this decision when i was at the bank this afternoon. i was in the drive-up, and this lady in the car next to me started asking questions about my car, and the artwork on it, and who did it… and when i said i had done it myself, she wanted to know if i could make signs in arabic for her business, and then she asked if i know anything about web sites… when i gave her my card, she said “oh, you do everything”… so, if nothing else, i got a potential customer.