September 30, 2008
Trouble Under Pressure
It's the talk of the world. After holding out under enormous pressure, violent tensions break out that threaten the unity of their party, with the world watching and disaster looming.
I mean of course the Pirates.
What did you think I meant? According to the Pirate Spokesman Mwangura (not kidding) they've divided into radical and moderate pirates, and started shooting each other.
"A misunderstanding erupted between the moderate and radical pirates aboard the ship prompting a shootout that left three of them dead," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone.
"The moderates want to give in but the radicals don't want this to happen. The U.S. naval ships are very close and there is panic among the pirates," said Mwangura.*
The incident came as warships surrounded the MV Faina which was seized on Thursday, with its 21 Ukrainian, Russian and Lithuanian crew members and arms cargo.
I was at the Cash N' Carry grocery store here today in Seattle that caters to the fishing industry- pirates and international finance were being discussed. The general feeling was that we should send in a disguised, heavily armed merchant ship to get the pirates, and that we should spend the $700 Billion, but on good investments instead.
UPDATE: The unconfirmed report above has been supplemented by an interview with the Pirates by The New York Times:
These bloodthirsty sea-pirates seem reasonable enough. Frankly, I've had less pleasant conversations with my student loan people.
(The new pirate spokesman) insisted that the pirates were not interested in the weapons and had no plans to sell them to Islamist insurgents battling Somalia’s weak transitional government. “Somalia has suffered from many years of destruction because of all these weapons,” he said. “We don’t want that suffering and chaos to continue. We are not going to offload the weapons. We just want the money.”
He said that they were asking for $20 million in cash — “we don’t use any other system than cash.” But he added that they were willing to bargain. “That’s deal making,” he explained.
September 29, 2008
Understanding the Financial Crisis
I have read many explanations of the current financial crisis. Nothing comes close to the following, especially given that's it's in a slide show presentation format - thus obviously written by people who know what they're talking about.
Click here to understand the financial crisis
Labels: where is gordon gecko?
OMG - Democracy works!
"Lawmakers were caught in the middle. On one side were the dire predictions from Bush, his economic team, and their own party leaders of an all-out financial meltdown if they failed to approve the rescue. On the other side: a flood of protest calls and e-mails from voters threatening to punish them at the ballot box."source
Labels: the end of the world
A Sort of Economic Thought
Alaska has done one thing tremendously right over the years - a model for the world:
The investment management of the enormous state Permanent Fund.
From the Wiki:
The Alaska Permanent Fund is a constitutionally established fund, managed by a semi-independent corporation, established by Alaska in 1976. Shortly after the oilTrans-Alaska Pipeline System, the Permanent Fund was created by an amendment to the constitution of the U.S. state of Alaska to be an investment for at least 25% of proceeds from some minerals [such as oil and gas] sale or royalties. The Fund does not include either property taxes on oil company property nor income tax from oil corporations, so the minimum 25% deposit is closer to 11% if those sources were also considered. The Alaska Permanent Fund sets aside a certain share of oil revenues to continue benefiting current and all future generations of Alaskans. Many citizens also believed that the legislature too quickly and too inefficiently spent the $900 million bonus the state got in 1969 after leasing out the oil fields. This belief spurred a desire to put some oil revenues out of direct political control. from Alaska’s North Slope began flowing to market through the
The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation manages the assets of both the Permanent Fund and other state investments, but spending Fund income is up to the Legislature. The Corporation is to manage for maximum prudent return, and not--as some Alaskans at first wanted--as a development bank for in-state projects. The Fund grew from an initial investment of $734,000 in 1977 to the current sum of approximately forty billion dollars as of July 13, 2007. Some growth was due to good management, some to inflationary re-investment, and some via legislative decisions to deposit extra income during boom years. Each year, the fund's realized earnings are split between inflation-proofing, operating expenses, and the annual Permanent Fund Dividend.
I mention this now, knowing little about macroeconomics, because I suspect that in the Permanent Fund might be a model for what amounts to federal takeover of capital in this bailout.
There is a huge opportunity here - can we have institute a system of salaried, semi-independent, publicly- chartered capital managers for bulk of the whole U.S. financial system? Can we manage this great bulk of investment capital with a mandate for the public interest? Can we look at the this as an opportunity for a American society whose economy is, at heart, directed towards profitable- and far more stable- social investing?
A Permanent Fund Corporation of the United States?
I know, I know: crazy talk.
Jeez- How Tough Can You Get?
In Battle for the Aleutians, 1942 and 1943: the Japanese occupy the remote Alaska islands of Attu and Kiska.
Alaska Native and Sourdough Army Scouts in the Aleutians: Bad Whiskey Red, Aleut Pete and Waterbucket Ben. Castner's Cutthroats. These were of course, the only land battles on the U.S. soil during the war, and these guys , with minimal training and discipline, were sometimes living for months on Japanese held islands.
They were also responsible for one of my favorite genius emergency engineering feats- building an airfield by draining a lagoon- in 10 days.
As for tough-guy names, usually "Whiskey Red" is tough. But "Bad Whiskey Red?"
Now where is my latte and croissant?
NASA Photo Analyst: Bush wore device during debate
Oct 29, 2004 | George W. Bush tried to laugh off the bulge. "I don't know what that is," he said on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, referring to the infamous protrusion beneath his jacket during the presidential debates. "I'm embarrassed to say it's a poorly tailored shirt."
I'm thinking Sarah Palin is going to show up to the VP debates in some seriously large shoulder pad type outfit.
Hopefully, they'll train her better than they did Bush not to talk to the other person at the end of the line.
Also, I'm wondering if Biden could simply bring a broad spectrum RF jammer into the debates.
September 28, 2008
The Final McCain Stunt, part deux
This just in!
McCain camp prays for Palin Wedding!
I'd laugh harder if it wasn't so
- Possible it might succeed
And Now, In Pirate News
I can't tell you how much I would rather read about fearless Pirates, having commandeered a Ukranian ship full of guns grenades, and 33 Soviet Tanks, are yet demanding $35 Million ransom while surrounded off the coast of Somalia by both American and Russian warships sent in a multinational sea chase to crush this grave danger to the freedom of the seas, than the U.S. financial bailout package. Russian press video here.
Also, a weird story here in the same waters about a ship seized by pirates recently, and soon after, the pirates' hair began falling out and they started dying. A more detailed but fascinating story here, from a suspect source, "the Long War Journal"( ?), which appears to have an internally focused pro-Bush foreign policy agenda. Of course, there is hardly anything more fun in news that the implication of a broad international crisis hidden within a pirate story reported on suspect news sites.
Although there are parallels between the financial bailout and evil pirates with balls the size of LNG tanks demanding money while surrounded by missile destroyers. Maybe a lot of them. Pretty good metaphor actually. But at least the financial bailout package might temper this particularly noxious era of pirate capitalism, while actual pirates, and the real danger, are only getting worse.
Then and now
Toss up 130
Toss up 164
I'm sorry, I meant McCain, not Bush.
September 27, 2008
One Sentence For the Wavering
As you weigh in your mind this election campaign, please do not let small personal fears outvote the benefits to each and every American of a good and competent government: the opportunity and decency and freedom, and the wonderous power of our United States at its most capable, most open-hearted, and most inspiring to the world.
Palin's Sadistic Streak
I would be inclined to write about other things. But Caribou Barbie cannot be allowed near the presidency.
This story, mentioned here a while back and now at the top of the NYT most read list, of Wasilla charging rape victims for their medical exams, finally implies a coherent reason for such a cruel policy: an extreme measure to avoid a possible abortion - from a rape.
A dear friend of mine was interviewed by the Times for background on this story- either Palin was ignorant of her own tiny city's budget on a matter the state legislature had to correct, or unbelievably vicious in her religious arrogance.
Update. Note Caribou Barbie's initials on this Alaska budget document slashing 20% from direct services to teenager mothers.
The Final McCain Stunt - a prediction
Here's a prediction. McCain campaign look over the last 2 months prior to the election and take note on McCain's strongest week. It was the week when he introduced Sarah Palin as VP choice.
Then the economy continues to thrash. Palin is total FAIL (or no show) during the VP convention. Republicans begin demanding a replacement for Palin. One week before we go to vote McCain drops a whopper.
Due to the extremely dire economic situation, John McCain has decided to put Country First once again, and after discussing it over with his brilliant running mate he takes Palin, in a mutually agreed decision, off the ticket and brings in some economic "mastermind" - maybe even Mittens. But more likely an unknown. On election day everyone is abuzz about the Wall Street gain of 500 points in the prior week on McCain's maverick move and have forgotten the debates and Sarah Palin. McCain wins.
September 26, 2008
Sarah Silverman: Unspeakably Persuasive
Why I Trust the Bailout
I know, too obvious, but I'm just saying.
September 25, 2008
First Aluminum Test Casts for the B-17 Project
My first metal casts, these simple casts were made yesterday from a quick 2" hand-made plastic clay model, using a sand cast, two piece mold, and an impressive table-top induction metal furnace and crucible that runs- amazingly- on regular household current. The model is roughened by design, and will be adapted as I go through different models and casting strategies. Sorry for the photo quality!
As you may remember, the B-17 project is a proposal for a large sculpture at UW which reproduces a WWII bomber formation involving hundreds of aircraft. What I'm doing now is working out little versions of the models for the maquette, the model of the eventual sculpture- and it will give you an idea of what's involved if I mention that the maquette alone could easily be 30 feet long.
The actual airplane models for the piece will be about 6" wide, with a far more specific surface, and there will be a minimum of 250. I'm looking to enhance rather than remove the casting irregularities to look for a particularly evocative surface on the basic form- and as one Art professor suggested yesterday, try putting all kinds of stuff in the sand void- straw, charcoal, perhaps a loogie.
I've made of couple of larger patterns with a wave-like surface on the B-17 form - these planes will eventually be seen four stories up, so the intent is to remove detail and experiment with a textural surface that suggests motion, violence, and flight. So far, the crystalized aluminum surface looks promising.
The real trick of course will be the supporting structure, 4 wires trailing from each model to evoke the contrails in the sky from the engines. Attaching these wires to the plane, and to each other, as well as designing the interlaced supporting structure, is proving to be the real technical challenge, and will probably require some engineering.
The large medal cylinders and lumps below are called a sprue, which I mention mostly because I like the word. The casting's appearance in these photos as something of a cross and headstone is ..interesting.
Much appreciation to Seattle sculptors Mike McGrath and Chuck Bonsteel for extensive help and guidance.
This last shot here gives a little of the sense of why I'm going for a rough appearence- notice that as relatively crude as the model is, the plane is almost instantly recognizable.
We have the "Antler Vote" Covered
Q: How do you make Katie Couric look like a genius?
Watch CBS Videos Online
This Isn't Funny
McCain Campaign Disaster II
Often we hesitate to jump on the bandwagon of bloggery, and in normal circumstances yet another fear-mongering TV appearance by Bush (always a sign of category 5 shit storm) over 700 Billion, a sum worth more than all the property in San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, would be vastly more important that McCain blowing off the Letterman Show.
Not today. The reason is that David Letterman essentially catches McCain in the act of dissembling over the circumstances of canceling the appearance, in front of a national audience, as John McCain gets made up for Katie Couric on a live feed, looking vain and foolish. And Letterman delivers one of the best rants of the year.
Noted: the Laird's earliest take on the Palin nomination being a key mistake has held up.
More Facebook Updates
With its limited space, the Facebook status update is just made for wisecracks. Why not one sentence novel bits?
Jamie drew his sword, the mad scupltor Cellini tossing a crucible of molten bronze - a warm dispute over Ciecherella Borgia, illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander.
Jamie cocked an eyebrow at the preening Archduke: "Your impudence, Sir, is just exceeded by your malodorousness!" Damn the consequences- winter is good for artillery.Jamie leapt up the barricades, flag aloft in the cannon smoke. "Liberty shall not die gasping for her life at our feet! Today, we grant our lives for her salvation!".
Jamie ,angered, lifted the cement truck which trapped the box of frightened husky puppies, holding it in one hand. Was this destiny? Was he, in fact, CAPTAIN DESTINY?
Jamie be clearing fer action and running out the guns, to bring the Spaniards the taste o' good English iron!Jamie is spreading the phrase "Moosellini".Jamie is now available for properly deferential interviews from the national media.Jamie is glossing over an existential crisis.
Jamie waited as massive Persian army lead Xerxes the Great by, and as the King passed, he deftly affixed a small piece of paper to his back which read, "Kick Me."
Jamie faced the charging water buffalo, the deadly beast coming at him like a freight train. Finally, a real test for his new telekinectic abilities.Jamie notes that history shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.
September 24, 2008
It Was As If a Million Voices Cried Out and Were Suddenly Silenced
ScienceDaily (Sep. 24, 2008) — Two terrestrial planets orbiting a mature sun-like star some 300 light-years from Earth recently suffered a violent collision, astronomers at UCLA, Tennessee State University and the California Institute of Technology will report in a December issue of the Astrophysical Journal.
"It's as if Earth and Venus collided with each other," said Benjamin Zuckerman, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy and a co-author on the paper. "Astronomers have never seen anything like this before. Apparently, major catastrophic collisions can take place in a fully mature planetary system."
Alright. What did Bush's people do this time?
September 22, 2008
The Large Hardon Collider is Broken: What Went Wrong?
The Large Hadron Collider is already offline. What may have gone wrong?
- Too many jokesters putting Skittles in the proton beam.
- After turning on, sent itself back in time 12 months ago when it wasn't finished.
- Best Buy warranty was only good for 14 days.
- Race of inter-dimensional mutant superaliens called the cops about the noise.
- Successful court injuction by Society for Protection of Large Hadrons.
- The tiny black hole filter was clogged.
- On tour, Sarah Palin pushed some button she was told 17 times not to.
- Tiresome French /Swiss border-crossing red tape everytime someone tries to walk around it to fix it.
- Physicist couple was "Big Banging" in control room.
Seahawks: Vital Signs
Ahem. Notice we didn't mention the Seahawks for the first two long weeks.
I realize yesterday's stripping, sanding and refinishing of the Rams was against, er, the Rams, but they are a professional football team, and going in, with an NFL record 472 wide receivers out, nearly out, or tripping over curbs on the way to the flight to Seattle, or suffering catastrophic wrist injuries while signing the contract drunk, it was looking shakier than Shakey's pizza (which I learned to my profound surprise still exists -in Renton!)
But there are signs of life:
1. A running game (here's Art Thiel's always excellent column.) I remember, way back, about the time we were winning the Iraq War the fourth time, Seattle had this guy name Sean Alex-some-whose-it-sky. But yesterday, it was Julius Jones, who did impressive things like run forward rather than sideways, and has now gone over 100 yds twice in a row.
2. Youthful enthusiasm. Here's what impressed me - the level of play of the new guys, the large, large number of new guys who had apparently answered the Seahawks's Monster.com's ads. Hasselback's completion percentages went way up.
3. A CRUSH THEM! spirit not usually associated with the modest, moist Northwest. Hasselbeck blocking two guys to open up Julius Jones running in for a T.D? What to say? Less of that, please, and yet, more of that.
Next time, the Giants, in New York. Humiliating the Giants, yet again, and under the noses of the East Coast media cabal- now that, would be:
C) Super Atomically Awesome
September 20, 2008
Fresh Palin Jokes
1. How do you confuse Sarah Palin? Ask her what the vice president does.
2. How do you really confuse Sarah Palin? Hand her a condom.
3. How do you inspire Sarah Palin? Tell where in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus condemned capital gains taxes. Then explain these are taxes on rich people.
4. How do you surprise Sarah Palin? Introduce her to black people.
5. How do you alarm Sarah Palin? Remind her that if she wins, she has to move to Washington, D.C., where the black people live.
6. How do you interest Sarah Palin? Explain how the Egyptians were able to build the Pyramids what with having to fight off so many tyrannosaurs.
7. How do you know Sarah Palin? In high school, she was that chick in the back of the Camaro that kept insisting on getting peach wine coolers.
8. How do you turn on Sarah Palin? A romantic evening in front of a cozy fire of burning books.
9. If you're John McCain, what do you keep having to remind her? I picked you for VICE-president.
10. What famous American historical model does Sarah Palin employ for her concept of high public office? Family Feud.
More poll imagery
This makes me happy for a number of reasons.
Americans apparently aren't as stupid as I though (maybe just a bit slower to realize things)
Americans apparently will listen to the Media if they keep repeating a story often enough
And finally, the media can do it's job when pushed hard enough.
My take is that the TV media is trying to assuage their collective guilt about their past lack of diligence about W in favor of asking hard questions early on and holding on to them with the tenacity of..
... what's that breed of fighting dog that's renowned for it's jaw strength?
Anyway, the media as a whole is acting like one of those dogs only with some sort of makeup applied to make them presentable.
September 19, 2008
Talk Like a Pirate Day: First Sea Lord Explains the Situation
(As he understands it, hiding the Barky in breaker-pocked bays off the Spanish Main, gathering news from passing ships.)
Gather 'round, mateys! You! Crinkley Pete-show a leg there! And afore the new moon rises, ye moss-backed sea-sloth! A-Midships, not aft, you pie-for-brains anchor toad! Right, then. Listen all ye close, we's got the news for ye, fresh off a dutch herrring buss - and aye you'll get yer share - aye it's just molasses again, and aye, we will make more rum. S'Blood, Man, clap an iron on it! Yer chattier than a Bristol whore who ain't been paid right!
So's I understands her, the banks in Ol Brighty and the American coast are a-foundering, lads, foundered on the breaking bars of short-selling, so those o' ye gots yer treasure with the usurers and feather-pushin' wig-wearers back in London or New Amsterdam might find yer chests emptier than a Friday night rum cask after all-day grapplin' an Indianman. Nay, that's not what I meant, ye snot-faced powder boy! Stop yer snickering or I'll have yer bones for pianoforte keys!
And no, I daren't guess what short sellin' means, other than it's kind-er like selling a lubber the Spanish gold-fleet without ever havin a-took her a'tall, save maybes a ship's boat with a leak in her, a starvin' cabin boy and a hapenny under the mast-step. So's all yer coin was invested with a bunch of bleary, fog-eyed, forked-tongued hedgehog-buggerers who'd sell yer own mother to you without even buying her supper.
'Vast that blubberin', Quantos! Yer rated Able, even if you're from Ulanbatar and ne'er saw a salt sea til you was grown. A seaman should have 'is dignity! Oh, for Neptune's small clothes! Get a hold of yerself, man! What cork-headed lubber puts all his money with a couple of shifty-eye, pimple-butted jakers called "Lehman?" Arr. Look...Quantos..I didn't mean... arr, someone get him small beer Now!
Anyhooos, here's a news corker for ye- Gold! GOLD ye dogs! Gold is rising faster than sun at the equator! What? No- take yer piece of eight. It WAS worth a piece of sixteen. Now it's worth a piece of Four. Or did I get that backwards? What I means is ye board two Jamaica whores for the price of one - piece...of eight?
BUt who has the gold, lads? No, not Johnson there. Aye, Aye, I know ye boys were a-tossin' the knuckles. I'm...I'm...blast ye, ye scurvied barn bat, stow that lubber-talk...I'm making a more general points: The Pirates have the gold! This is Our time, boys! (and yes, you too, Mary- I make my oaths, Zwounds!) But we can get more! So make sail, lads, make all sail for the Azores! I heerd from Captain Black the last Manilla Galleon may call there, and we'll take her at the shoaling bay, drive her aground, and off-load the booty at low tide! And the Dagos will call us: Dastardly...Sea...Egrets....! the Egret a fierce bird o' prey, Raoul? No?
Send aloft the royals, man the tacks and sheets, we'll come about right smart about 12 points off the bow! Larboard. LAR-board. L-L-L-L-LAR-board!!! Are ye deaf, Deaf Zeke? Arr, aye then, I forgets sometimes. Yes, I knows yer called Deaf Zeke, but it just be sort of a name after a times. Ye smoke it? Ye don't? Arr...
September 18, 2008
A Silver (Dollar) Lining?
Perhaps we'll declare war on Spain in time for...
International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day!
First Sea Lord: be ready to run out yer guns and fire the first broadside!
From the Anchorage Daily News.
You know what this looks like? This looks like the American people were driving along okay, when they had to swerve to avoid a moose that suddenly jumped out into the road.
What I'm Personally Doing to Alleviate the Crisis in World Financial Markets
1. Release dozens of dollars in emergency loans to my friend for beer money.
2. Create a new derivative financial instrument: Robot prices tied to Whiskey futures adjusted by the likelyhood that Rose McGowan will call back.
3. Buy out Washington Mutual with my own account deposit guarantee from the FDIC.
4. By way of providing bad investment disincentives, institute harsh derision and personal mockery of business majors.
5. Monetizing my Monet.
6. Set up a Commission of leading financial leaders to investigate what when wrong by having them ask each other.
7. Go to the Cayman Islands. Create influential hippie commune.
8. Walk around neighborhood. Tear down "For Sale" signs.
9. Goodbye 401(k). Hello, quality collectible Star Wars plates.
10. Drive around looking for very expensive cars: follow them while yelling, throwing beer cans and honking the horn.
September 17, 2008
Proof: Obama lacks 'the common touch'
The Register has news that Sarah Palin's yahoo account was hacked. The article claims there is nothing revelatory retrieved however I thought this was:
I am reading the paper and have thoughts and prayers going your way," writes Amy McCorkell. "Don't let the negative press wear you down! Pray for me as well. I need strength to 1. keep employment, 2. not have to choose. Lately I just pray may God's will be done. I am trying to learn patience and listen to God.
"I pray he gives you energy! Strength!"
Btw, please post your guesses as to what the password was. Mine is "rapture"
September 16, 2008
Like Fred Astaire in a monster truck, or Sophia Loren in Missoula, it's Maureen O'Dowd in Wasilla.
Internet detective work is fun and rewarding.
So I'm cruising around on facebook and I run across an annoying ad that reads
The Nuclear Option?
Sarah Palin may soon be a heartbeat away from becoming our President. Join the debate. Learn the truth.
Sounds... Stupid. But i decide to check it out. The ad leads me to:
Basically an empty forum (where so far the only posts are from the admin) with such illuminating forum sections as...
Sarah Palin's Politics
Why is everybody arguing? McCain picked her. She MUST be right for the job of Vice President.
Liberals Fear Her
What's so scary about a hockey mom?
Hillary Supporters Love Her
Hillary Supporters are flocking to the Republican fold to the tune of 50% of women voters. Tell your story!
Well you get the idea...
So smelling a faux-grassroots organization , I look to whois for who registered the domain name...
3815 Round Meadow Ln.
Hatboro, PA 19040
Okay that doesn't tell me much about who would spend money to set up such a lame, pro-Palin site, and then spend money to advertise it on facebook.
So on a lark, I plug the address in to Google (again) and find another web site match for that physical address.
A web site for people suffering from bipolar disorder, that looks a bit like it was set up by, uhm, someone suffering from bipolar disorder.
Well, other than the obligatory follow-up jokes around the "You don't have to be crazy to think Palin's great, but it helps!" theme.
The New Yorker is Funny!
My Gal by George Saunders
Dick Armey: Cheney Lied to Me
I'm sure our readers will be exactly as surprised as I am that Dick Cheney, who you may recall as the most influential fascist in the Bush Administration, lied to Dick Armey about Iraq.
September 15, 2008
Call for comments
I hoped that some of our regular contributors might comment on the latest round disasters on Wall Street. (Like McCain, I don't know much about the economy, except that I do know enough not to trust Phil Gramm.)
September 14, 2008
The daily KOS on the Obama strategy
Daily KOS diarist claims Obama has played McCain like a fiddle.
I'm inclined to agree.
He's been publically respectful of Palin, and instead waited for the media to eat her for lunch.
By holding off as long as possible on going negative, Obama now can claim the moral high ground when he fights back.
And finally, he's letting the 527s do the really hard hits back.
Good moves so far. Even though I'm not quite as sanguine as the folks at daily KOS.
Palin- Two Letters from Stalin!
September 13, 2008
Deepak Chopra and the "Palin Effect"
From Chopra's website:
In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision. Look at what she stands for:
Small town values -, a denial of
Ignorance of world affairs- a repudiation of the need to repair
Family values- a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don't need to be heeded.
Rigid stands on guns and abortion-a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
Patriotism – the usual fallback in a failed war.
"Reform" an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn't fit your ideology. "
In short, Deepak Chopra thinks Palin is helping McCain because she's the anti-Obama
September 12, 2008
Raising the level of discourse
September 11, 2008
The Large Hadron Collider: First Results
The Large Hadron Collider has been up and running since yesterday. What are the early results?
1. The "God" particle has not yet been found. But a new particle, the "Jesus" particle, has been discovered and is zipping around making outrageous claims.
2. Early experiments with "Dark Matter" prove it is made of either "Goth Matter" or "Emo Matter. "
3. Even direct blast from puny proton beam cannot stop Mighty Stephen Hawking.
4. The 15 or 20 small black holes acccidently created so far are safely stored in the cafeteria's freezer.
5. Physicists on the Swiss side keep gumming up the neutron gizmo with the gooey chocolate on their hands.
6. Three seconds after the Big Bang- a collosal plasma of exploding space time. Thirty minutes before: Taco Bell.
7. Protons accelerated at each at near-light speed reveal secrets of the universe. Croutons accelerated to similar speeds release olive oil and a hint of rosemary.
8. Scientists immediate used the Large Hadron Collider to confirm that you can turn on a Large Hadron Collider.
9. Younger graduate students seem to enjoy saying "magnetron" a lot.
10. Much to everyone's surprise, several of the first tests confirmed that Adam and Eve had pet dinosaurs.
Party Like It's the Department of the Interior
A new Teapot Dome scandal , but with Sex, drugs and awarding of oil contracts to your orgy buddy, shakes the Department of Interior.
Nasty, and Relevant
Tony Knowles, former governor of Alaska, revealed that it was under Sarah Palin that the city of Wasilla, Alaska charged rape victims for their medical examinations- $300 to $1200. This was not minor, or a factual question. A state law had to be passed banning the practice.
September 09, 2008
Other Hazards Of the Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron collider may be the most enormous. scientifically ambitious and expensive endeavor in history of human beings looking for something to do. And as of today, there is now a non-zero rather than a zero chance that the Large Hadron Collider will create a pinata of tiny black holes that gobble up us. There is a similar chance I'm going out with Scarlett Johanson tomorrow night.
What are the other risks of turning on this enormous particle accelerator intended to understand the building blocks of the universe?
- There is a 0.006% chance that it will replace every instance of the letter "c" with the letter "k, " or sometimes, "ti."
- Whimiscal scientists who might attempt accelerating Skittles to near light speeds risk the destruction of the Big Rock Candy Mountain theory.
- If it works, everyone will want one. Then, it will no longer be "cool."
- Sociologists have calculated that even with the impressive Large Hadon Collider, the average particle physicist will have a 1 in 782 chance of getting laid tonight.
- There is a 97 % chance Sarah Palin thinks it was built to discredit the Bible.
- If extra dimensions are discovered, the risk of student loan officers following us into these new dimensions will rise exponentially.
- There is a 64% of finding the God particle, and if successful, particle worship may become a threat to society, as legions of worshipers follow every utterance of the God particle Pope, Neil DeGrasse.
- If completely successful, and the universe becomes understood, there is a 73% chance everyone will just totally freak out.
- Jealousy and stress among scientists at other, lesser particle accelerators will lay waste to the profession with a series of premature heart attacks and strokes.
- There is a 100% chance it will be opposed by the Society for the Protection of Large Hadrons.
Jong Il, Illin'
Sorry, I've been waiting for the news to catch up to that headline for years.
W in a Dress
Things I'd rather post about other than Sarah Palin: hard-boiled private detectives, contemporary art, Seahawks victories (waiting...) , WWII, philosophy, science, dadaist criminals, biology, wit, love, fear of robots, fun things to do when you have a Large Hadron Collider, and of course adorable kittens.
But the nation calls.
Sarah Palin is lying about her sad excuse for a record, and the normally sedate liberal blog TPM is calling her on it.
And after a week of scrutiny, here are three key points of attack, in campaign lit form:
1. Palin is faking her history as a reformer.
- Alaska's government has grown rich in the last two years because of the outrageous increases in the price of crude oil. It is so rich on Big oil's tax money, Palin sent an extra $1200 to every Alaskan this year whether they needed it or not. Yet she kept all the earmarked federal tax money we sent for the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, in spite of her lying again and again about doing this.
- When she was mayor, she raised taxes on people's food and clothes so she could lower them on giant companies like Walmart. But she mismanaged it, and the city was left with a huge unpaid debt for a boondoggle hockey rink.
- After promising again and again to support open government, she lied about her behavior in the troopergate affair, breaking all her lofty promises the moment her own ethics were questioned.
2. Palin is ambitious extremist who will divide the country just like Bush.
- She wants all the credit for her daughter to decide to keep her pregnancy, but she would use the government to stop all women from having that choice, even if they were raped, even if they were victims of incest, even if they were 14. In an age of AIDs, she is delusional in her obsession with abstinence-only health education. And with the state coffers awash in oil money, she slashed funding for pregnant teen girls.
- Even now, after tens of thousands of scientists have confirmed that humans are pumping so much pollution into the air that the warming earth is facing global catastrophe, Sarah Palin stubbornly refuses to believe it. The human race simply cannot afford such dangerous ignorance from people in power. You wonder what would happen if only 95% of scientists confirmed a giant meteor was headed for New York. Would she deny it, and go off to make moose burgers?
- Like Bush, she uses religion and divisive issues to destroy her opponents. She attacked her first opponent in Wasilla's mayoral race as unchristian. She told her church that building another Alaska pipeline was a mission from God. As governor, she takes the support of a radical anti-American political party that has wants Alaska to leave the United States, a party her husband belonged to for years.
3. Sarah Palin is W in a Dress.
- Ten days into the campaign, she has said almost nothing that wasn't written for her on a teleprompter by George W. Bush's speechwriter. She has virtually no record of positions, writings or even quotes about national and international issues, and is defiant and prideful about her ignorance of critical national and international issues. Sound familiar?
- By most accounts from behind the scenes in Alaska, Palin is an intellectual lightweight- experts who are asked to explain things to her are commonly told to make it simple.
- Governor for less than two years of a state dominated by Big Oil, the Palin was plucked from obscurity to serve as the lead cheerleader for the rich, privileged and powerful. Her political positions, what little record there is of them, are almost exactly the same as George W. Bush. Her attack on community organizing shows a contempt for the people who work tremendously hard to try to help the least fortunate among us. Say, like Jesus.
September 08, 2008
September 06, 2008
Our History Ain't No Mystery
I've spent the better part of the year reading up on 19th century American history, a subject I have spent a lifetime avoiding. I can now say I'm smarter than the average bear regarding the period between 1815 and 1865, between the end of the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
The three books I've read, all of which I very highly recommend are:
What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America 1815-1848 (2007) by Daniel Walker Howe
Battle Cry of Freedom (1987) by James McPherson
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005) by Dorris Kearns Goodwin
Together, they comprise 2500 pages plus citations and indexes. I'm a slow, selective reader, and I consider each of them a page-turner.
The first two are part of the Oxford History of the United States series, and both won the Pulitzer Prize for history. Each of them presents a broad overview of the history of their respective periods.
Team of Rivals is more biographical, focusing on the Lincoln and his first-term cabinet: particularly W. Henry Seward, Salmon Chase, Edward Bates, and Edwin Stanton. Each of these men had a legitimate claim to preeminence among their countrymen. All of them looked down on and dismissed Lincoln, "the rail spiller," when he was elected. All (with the possible exception of Chase, who clearly had "issues") came to regard him as the greatest man in the history of the Republic.
There's an anecdote at the end of the book that I really loved:
In 1908, in a wild an remote area of the North Caucasus, Leo Tolstoy, the greatest writer of the age, was a guest of a tribal chief "living far away from civilized life in the mountains." Gathering his family and neighbors, the chief asked Tolstoy to tell stories about the famous men of history. Tolstoy told how he entertained the eager crowd for hours with the tales of Alexander, Caesar, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon. When he was winding to a close, the chief stood and said, "But you have not told us a syllable about the greatest general and greatest ruler of the world. We want to know something about him. He was a hero. He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock... His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived. Tell us of that man."
I can now say: he really was that great, only better.
September 05, 2008
"Palin's Cold Shoulder."
From Politico. How coincidentally interesting.
September 04, 2008
Who says she's not ready...
...to be a Republican VP?
Palin Refuses to Testify
You Might be a Palin
If you think the national anthem of Iran is "Iran So Far Away," you might be a Palin.
If you oppose continental drift, you might be a Palin.
If your snowmachine has flames on it, you might be a Palin.
If you smoke a bowl while fantasizing about Barry Goldwater, you might be a Palin.
If your famous "Bullwinkle" chili has both moose AND squirrel, you might be a Palin.
If you think good sex education means graduating from high school with no more than two kids, you might be a Palin.
If you think gun control means calming down your boyfriend without getting shot, you might be a Palin.
If you're worried about the Israeli-Lichtensteinian conflict, you might be a Palin.
If catch John McCain staring at your chest, you might be a Palin.
What has Sourdough Newt Wrought?
A female blogger from Wasilla goes into some detail in a spreading post about Sarah Palin, which I herein also spread.
The account seems verified, and knowing Alaska politics, and knowing that the high school pal of many of us, "Sourdough Newt", mentored her originally into politics in Wasilla, the manipulation, religious baiting and political hardball against a mellow community rings true.
One picture that emerges is of obsession with loyalty. A particularly damning episode is her reducing progressive property taxes and raising a sales tax for a hockey rink, including on food, in order to attract "big box" retail, read "Wal-Mart." And then the author, Anne Kilkenny, uses this astonishing phrase:
(She) Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots.That's what I thought it used to be. My god! What is it now?
Interesting set of articles here from the Progressive Alaska blog, out of Palmer, which is near Wasilla. This blog claims, with documentation, that taxes went up and expenditures expanded 63% under Mayor Palin. It's also worth noting that while Wasilla has very high rates of rape, domestic violence, and teenage pregnancy, Palin as governor fought funding for pregnant teens. I also am curious as to what books she wanted to ban so much she was willing to fire the librarian AND put people who opposed her on this on an "enemies list."
Know-nothingism, obession with political loyalty, religious baiting. W in a dress?
Speaking of Sourdough Newt, what seems to have happened is that there was a major fallout between him and Sarah related to family issues, legislative jobs, and former Republican State Senator Lyda Green, now famous for her hatred of Sarah Palin. Lyda Green of course was an oil tool. Somehow Sourdough Newt got on his creation's enemies list.
It's also worth remembering that it's not that Palin took on Big Oil so much as she took on the Big Oil that her husband doesn't work for.
September 03, 2008
Take Off Your Republican Hat!
Palin's Pastor Problem
Two weeks ago, unlike Obama in Chicago, actually did sit in the pews of the Wasilla church where this sermon was happening:
Palin’s pastor, Larry Kroon, introduced Brickner on Aug. 17, according to a transcript of the sermon on the church’s website.
“He’s a leader of Jews for Jesus, a ministry that is out on the leading edge in a pressing, demanding area of witnessing and evangelism,” Kroon said.
Brickner then explained that Jesus and his disciples were themselves Jewish.
“The Jewish community, in particular, has a difficult time understanding this reality,” he said.
Brickner’s mission has drawn wide criticism from the organized Jewish community, and the Anti-Defamation League accused them in a report of “targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception.”
Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.
"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it.
Sarah Palin's Cruelty
I'll make this short.
The evangelical leadership are falling all over themselves praising Sarah Palin's family values.
Here's the thing: Palin does not support her own daughter's ability to choose to carry her pregnancy. She opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest- and has said so, using her daughter as an example. And while Sarah's allowing credit to be heaped on her for deciding to raise a special needs child, she would deny this decision to all other American women. Her policy would be to make the government force women and girls facing a similar heart-wrenching situation to carry such a pregnancy, and raise a child no matter what suffering the family might face.
This is the deep cruelty of the theocrats. It is not a position worthy of praise.
September 02, 2008
New York Times Unleashes.
Ouch. From today's NYT editorial:
Before she was elected governor, she was mayor of a tiny Anchorage suburb, where her greatest accomplishment was raising the sales tax to build a hockey rink. According to Time magazine, she also sought to have books banned from the local library and threatened to fire the librarian.
For Mr. McCain to go on claiming that Mr. Obama has too little experience to be president after almost three years in the United States Senate is laughable now that he has announced that someone with no national or foreign policy experience is qualified to replace him, if necessary.
The Republicans are presenting Ms. Palin as a crusader against Mr. Stevens’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” The record says otherwise; she initially supported Mr. Stevens’s boondoggle, diverting the money to other projects when the bridge became a political disaster. In her speech to the Wasilla Assembly of God in June, Ms. Palin said it was “God’s will” that the federal government contribute to a $30 billion gas pipeline she wants built in Alaska.
Palin Tuesday Disaster Clean Up
Reviews are coming in: Obama hits 50% in two polls. Intrade opens up a market on Palin withdrawing, currently at 15%.
Last Thursday, while Obama was getting ready to crush the enemies of the Republic, maverick reformer Sarah Palin's Communications Director Bill McCallister said:
"Open and transparent government was something that came up during the campaign and was largely in reference to the stranded gas act versus the AGIA concept under Governor Palin."
And below is the reason Palin has a fresh attorney. (Side note: You can tell a truly fresh attorney because they smell like ball point pens and leather BMW seats.)
Troopergate- Sarah Palin's office abused her office and fired the Alaska Public Safety Commissioner because he wouldn't fire her ex-brother in law. And the kicker ( say it with me) is that she lied about it and tried to cover it up.
Alaska Pol Andrew Halco, hardly a left-winger, discusses this aspect of Trooper Gate on his blog:
Also, Sarah Palin is earmark happy.
I'll tell what happened; Palin and her staff have been using their state issued Blackberrys and computers to conduct acts of personal retribution, and the attorney general is covering for them.
So why come out with this opinion now, especially in the middle of a scandal fueled by the revelations of secret communications?
According to one of my sources who tipped me off about the Bailey phone call days before it was publicly released as well as the Kopp payout days before it was publicly released; the governor is in deep snow.
Apparently there is credible evidence of Blackberry communications that Palin herself communicated with her staff and Monegan about firing Wooten.
Her many battlefield victories with the Alaska National Guard aside, her lack of any record of foreign policy thinking is what makes this such a reckless McCain decision. And the decision making process itself demonstrates a politically weak, fly off the cuff, ego-driven John McCain.
I'm sure she's memorizing talking points now. I'm sure she's spinning her cruel opposition to abortion even in the case of underage rape as down-home folk values. But the Republic has had quite enough of know-nothing ideologues.
September 01, 2008
Palin's Selection Becoming A Rolling Disaster
Tonight's NYT article gets to the real problem: the last minute decision making process, showing that John McCain was ultimately too weak and disorganized within his own party to nominate a pro-choice candidate.
While there was no sign that her formal nomination this week was in jeopardy, the questions swirling around Ms. Palin on the first day of the Republican National Convention, already disrupted by Hurricane Gustav, brought anxiety to Republicans who worried that Democrats would use the selection of Ms. Palin to question Mr. McCain’s judgment and his ability to make crucial decisions.
At the least, Republicans close to the campaign said it was increasingly apparent that Ms. Palin had been selected as Mr. McCain’s running mate with more haste than McCain advisers initially described.
Up until midweek last week, some 48 to 72 hours before Mr. McCain introduced Ms. Palin at a Friday rally in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. McCain was still holding out the hope that he could name as his running mate a good friend, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, a Republican close to the campaign said. Mr. McCain had also been interested in another favorite, former Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.
But both men favor abortion rights, anathema to the Christian conservatives who make up a crucial base of the Republican Party. As word leaked out that Mr. McCain was seriously considering the men, the campaign was bombarded by outrage from influential conservatives who predicted an explosive floor fight at the convention and vowed rejection of Mr. Ridge or Mr. Lieberman by the delegates.
Perhaps more important, several Republicans said, Mr. McCain was getting advice that if he did not do something to shake up the race, his campaign would be stuck on a potentially losing trajectory.
With time running out — and as Mr. McCain discarded two safer choices, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, as too predictable — he turned to Ms. Palin. He had his first face-to-face interview with her on Thursday and offered her the job moments later.
“They didn’t seriously consider her until four or five days from the time she was picked, before she was asked, maybe the Thursday or Friday before,” said a Republican close to the campaign. “This was really kind of rushed at the end, because John didn’t get what he wanted. He wanted to do Joe or Ridge.”
Special Bonus: Tucker Bounds, McCain flack, folds on CNN
Deploy the Tina
After a strange day of deadly serious weather and high campaign comedy, I note that Tina Fey, who looks exactly like Sarah Palin, is scheduled to host the new Saturday Night Live this week.
Wait for it.
How He Blew It
The votes aren't counted, and a miracle could happen, but the Palin veep pick may go down in history as the biggest single mistake by a presidential candidate in U.S. history.
All of this is even without the drip-drip-drip of (to put it politely) "surprises" that have come to light in the past 72 hours. In fact, these may be a blessing in disguise, but only if they result in her withdrawing her candidacy within the next week.
Here's a little U.S. Presidential Politics 101: the time for groveling to your base is before you secure the nomination. Afterward, you need to appeal to the center that actually make up a majority of the people whose votes you are courting. (You know, John, the Americans who used to respect you.)
Secondly, and this is actually more important: when presented with a vigorous opponent who is young, untested, calls for change, and demands that things be shaken up, the posture that will win you the election is to be mature, tested, conservative, and predictable. Many people fear change and unpredictability, and faced with the decision on election day, will go with what they know, even if they don't like it very much (Exhibit A: Bush vs. Kerry).
What he needed to do was convince the majority of Americans that the McCain they saw in the primaries was a hallucination, and deny that he was ever beholden to the Republican base. Then, pick a fellow elder statesman (like Lieberman) or boring white-guy (like Pawlenty) to run with. He wouldn't have surged in the polls in August, but he didn't need to. He just needed to be patient, and let the center return to him as his campaign gently (gently!) stokes doubts and anxieties about the new guy.
If Obama wins this thing, he deserves a lot of credit. But John McCain has been a big help.
The Sarah Palin Half-Brewed-Scandal Summary
The Obama campaign wisely heeds the Laird's advice to hang back from attacking Palin.
But we don't have to.
Like last year's dog turds appearing when the snows of Alaskan winters finally melt, Sarah Palin's problems have only magnified over the weekend. I'm too lazy to do all the links: the sources are the New York Times, Daily Kos, TPM, and Andrew Sullivan's diary.
A. Pregnant Unwed Christian 17 year old Daughter issues:
- Did the Palin family explain that you can get pregnant the first time?
- Did they push her into having the child, and getting married for political reasons?
- Still not settled: the weird rumor about whether Trig Palin is absolutely and for sure Sarah Palin's son? Straightforward medical records would settle this (like you know, birth certificates,) but even then, why all the irresponsible behavior (flying all day from Texas to a tiny rural hospital?) I've been in that hospital. It's not where one would go for delivery of a problem pregnancy, especially not when you have to drive right by two real hospitals to do it.
- See video, below.
- She headed his 527 in 2005.
- She was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it.
C. Sarah Palin was once apparently a member of the Alaska Independence Party, whose central goal is secession from the union.
- Gosh, Sarah, do you support firing on Fort Sumpter?
E. Sarah, why do you hate polar bears?
F. Lacking traction with the sportscaster angle, the RNC is playing up her experience as mayor of Wasilla, town that has no there at all. Seriously, try googling for images of Wasilla.
G. Evidence, any evidence at all, that Sarah Pallin has studied, read about, or expressed more than a sentence long opinion on international issues?
H. She said that she would oppose abortion even if her 14 year old daughter was raped. That opinion is extreme to say the least. And, btw, how old is Bristol's baby daddy?
I. NEW CNN, just now. She supports abstinence only sex ed. Now we see how this happened.
J. NEW She didn't have a passport until she had to go to Kuwait!
L. NEW CNN Already, trouble brews as the Republican Party flacks try to explain her record of standing up against endemic corruption- in the Republican Party.
M. NEW. CNN broils McCain Spokesman Tucker Bounds (what is it with Tuckers?) when he is unable to answer "can you name a single decision she made as head of the Alaska National Guard that qualifies her as Commander in Chief."