Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What's That Got To Do With The Price Of Rice?

Gasoline and wheat costs are soaring, home values are falling, logical results of an M3 supply (money creation) that's growing so fast it's no longer reported and a federal deficit that keeps on bleeding like a sliced femoral artery.
Total US defense costs over the past 6 years were $51,000 per household; costs of the Iraq War alone were $20,900 per househould, and could surpass that figure by 2017 according to a congressionally endorsed report (PDF). (Are the costs really calculable?) These news items are not disparate, and the effects are telling. When analyzing the US economy, which most everyone in the world has to do, it's important to look at the overall context. Therefore it's important to remember that the asylum has been conquered by its former inmates. For quite a while now. And if you are familiar with the economic philosophies of the free-market fundamentalists running this place, the outcome is no surprise. If you're not, they can be summed up like so: they're CRAZY.

For the record, I am not assailing the concept of markets, nor their dynamism; competition amongst makers and merchants fosters innovation and in turn new markets. This process is natural. The struggles to create wealth are biologically based,
market economic theory and Darwinism share a conceptual root, and the competition of species and market economies appear to obey similar behavioral laws.

In fact we know from his diaries that Darwin was reading Adam Smith's treatise, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, in 1839 while making notes for The Origin of Species. What I assail is compulsive focus on one particular aspect of Smith's observations and rank ignorance or denial of the rest; and that is precisely what the orthodoxy of the New School, Dr. Friedmanstein's economic monster, does. If Adam Smith were around today, he would be on CNN talking up man's instinctual curiosity, and forcefully arguing that free markets are just a myth. A useful myth, to be sure, but myth nonetheless--of course we require wise laws else we would be engulfed by slag heaps and puddles of mephitic filth like the ones he stepped round watching factories in Glasgow.

Smith had the Scotsman's love of thrift, and he would say of our bedazzled money-theorists: "What pleases these lovers of toys? How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility?" While the rest of the world's economies see US troubles as a time to batten down the hatches and raise interest rates, for the New School, it's a time for massive stimulus, for lowering interest and printing more money. Intellectual hedonists ignore a diving dollar because the best-of-all-possible-worlds "free market" will eventually even it out. I can hear them now: "Besides, if it drops low enough it'll be a bargain, by my calculations in the year 2030, when those Chinese factory workers will be out of jobs. Heh-heh-heh, that'll teach those communist fools!"

The ripple effects of human suffering, the foreclosures, personal bankruptcies, divorces, desperation, riots and murders are only known to economists as "externalities." They got places like Argentina to believe them, causing what is known as the Argentinian Currency Crisis. They're also the people who brought you the Orwellian motto, "Support Our Troops: Go Shopping." They may be wearing doctor's white coats, goatees, and be carrying clipboards, but you had best run if one of these unmedicated mountebanks draws near.

But come, let's find some sane people to talk to, like maybe a foreign investor or even a foreign central bank. People like those thrifty Japanese, who hold 12% ($586.6 billion) of U.S. government debt. They've lost 7% on their Treasuries portfolio in the past 3 months alone. So, understandably, they've stopped buying our bonds. In fact the logical thing for them to do is sell the bonds they have, and put their money elsewhere as fast as they possibly can. Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Co., Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. and Sumitomo Life Insurance Co., some of the biggest insurance companies in the world, are right now saying to themselves and each other, "How do we unload this shit?"

With a psychological, perhaps hereditary fondness for rice, Japan literally uses the price of it as an economic barometer--and it's up 5x over the past year. Japanese import 60% of their calories; they might be just a little worried. Once news gets out they're selling bonds, and they will if we attack Iran, many of us will be toast. Many governments will be toast even without that happening over the course of this summer, because of an avaracious, unstable empire, its cowed and corrupt courtiers, and general worship of false ideology. Short-term food prices are being driven up more by ideology's expressed effects, more by an enraged, ineffectual empire than a peaking population.

There's one hard but immediate way out of this mess; we get US troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa. We do not attack Iran. Our own economic problems are the direct result of policy-makers whose wits became unmoored from basic realities all across the board, and the people gullible enough to believe their simplistic Easy Money Plans. Our very biggest problem is that a lethal Pentaconda is off killing other people so its owners, mostly Western oil companies at this point, can wear top hats and sing 'Billions from Heaven!' It's coiled around our necks, the ideology's getting tighter and tighter, and it's going to strangle us if we don't get help soon. What are the chances it will be, or can be, put back in its glass cage?

There is a chance. There is something that will loosen the snake and maybe turn it back. Those bond holdings provide enormous leverage, and the Long War is being financed entirely with debt. With the Price of Rice if you will. If I were the Japanese Minister of Finance, I would request a meeting with Warren Buffett, who used to be the richest man in the world. Because of the falling dollar, he isn't anymore. I'd inform him that if the United States military attacks Iran, we would sell every US Treasury note we own, and so would my colleagues in China, South Korea, and Taiwan; additionally, my country will not start buying US bonds again until the US begins withdrawing from Iraq. Nothing personal, Buffett-san. It's just the free market. Pass it on.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Psyche's News Roundup

Bill Moyers Journal | PBS - Bill Moyers interviews the Reverend Jeremiah Wright

Genetic Future: The human genome is old news. Next stop: the human proteome

Gas May Finally Cost Too Much

The Pentagon Strangles Our Economy: Why the U.S. Has Gone Broke | AlterNet

Unpaid utility bills soar as economy sags - USATODAY.com

TIPA | Technical Image Press Association | Awards 2008

Hackers Focus Efforts on Firefox, Safari - washingtonpost.com

Liliputing: Comprehensive list of low-cost ultraportables

reddit.com: File Sharing Site Offers 250GB Storage Free to Reddit Users (digg, delicious, or just a referrer)

Obama Seeks Private Funding - WSJ.com

Party Fears Racial Divide - washingtonpost.com

Annals of Surveillance: The New Yorker: A government misstep in a wiretapping case

Threat Level - Wired Blogs - Which Gov Agency Should Be Your Computer's Firewall?

Media Matters by Jamison Foser: The media render the RNC obsolete

Think Progress: Zirkle rails against the great porn dragon and its influence over Jews (wingNUT)

Hillary Clinton Supporters -- The Global Warming Deniers of Democratic Politics? - Yahoo! News

TPMMuckraker | GOP Still Pushing Retroactive Immunity for Telecoms

When $100,000 makes you Go Broke: The Invisible Hand Forces Americans Into Debt

Make Your Nut Blog Archive How to Lawfully Reset Your Credit History

Experts say US sex abstinence program doesn't work | Reuters

Pitfalls in paradise: why Palm Jumeirah is struggling to live up to the hype | Travel | The Guardian

Chemotherapy alternative will target only cancer cells - Telegraph

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Safe In Their Alabaster Chambers

Safe in their alabaster chambers,
Untouched by morning and untouched by noon,
Sleep the meek members of the resurrection,
Rafter of satin, and roof of stone. Light laughs the breeze in her castle of sunshine;
Babbles the bee in a stolid ear;
Pipe the sweet birds in ignorant cadence,--
Ah, what sagacity perished here! Grand go the years in the crescent above them;
Worlds scoop their arcs, and firmaments row,
Diadems drop and Doges surrender,
Soundless as dots on a disk of snow.

My high school English teacher, Mr. Marcinec, once asked our class, "Can poetry be judged on merit alone, or is the life of the poet applicable?" Easy answer. Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts of goodly parents. She grew up with the irrational, deeply held conviction that all lives are equal. Years after the Civil War, she wrote the lines above on a scrap of paper and sent it to her longtime correspondent and friend, Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Higginson was a pre-war abolitionist who became the first commander of African-American troops in 1864, the South Carolina Volunteers. It was he who documented their Gullah dialect, wrote Life in a Black Regiment in 1870, and later recorded their spirituals. Dickinson wrote the poem as a memorial to the escaped slaves who had died assaulting the Vaubanite earthworks in the South as cannon fodder, and to whom some white monuments were eventually erected around Cambridge after the war. The poem doesn't make much sense unless you've stood in front of one of those monuments, and in front of Higginson's house.

Cat Power: Lived In Bars

She is a verbal temptress, using Dylanesque tricks of language to get us to do the heavy lifting of her evocations, teasing up all the pictures and emotions we come pre-wired with. When she once wrote about something specific and concrete, it took me four years to realize it was an achingly beautiful, tender and knowing tribute to Kurt Cobain ('I Don't Blame You'). I've had little comprehension of her writing, although 'Lived in Bars' provides hints enough--send in the trumpets, the marching wheelchairs, open the blankets and give them some air, swords and arches, bones and cement, the light and the dark of the innocent of men.

But I'm charmed, even if I know beyond any doubt her art is rooted in the torment of not being wanted, as charmed as if Emily Dickinson sang Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers. She's even more artist than that, infinitely more dangerous, and she honestly doesn't believe she's pretty but you'll see her when you click on that video. Her real name is Chan Marshall, and she's about to be as big as artists can get. If this woman sang a grocery list, you would say oh, what sagacity perishes there, the hulls all of our ships be damned, and she would leave scars on your heart. Then she'd ask you, "Could you get me some takeout? Are you mad at me?" The lyrics:

We've lived in bars
And danced on tables
Hotel trains and ships that sail
We swim with sharks
And fly with aeroplanes in the air

Send in the trumpets
The marching wheelchairs
Open the blankets and give them some air
Swords and arches bones and cement
The light and the dark of the innocent of men

We know your house so very well
And we will wake you once we've walked up
All your stairs

There's nothing like living in a bottle
And nothing like ending it all for the world
We're so glad you will come back
Every living lion will lay in your lap
The kid has a homecoming the champion the horse
Who's going to play drums, guitar or organ with chorus
As far as we've walked from both of ends of the sand
Never have we caught a glimpse of this man

We know your house so very well
And we will bust down your door if you're not there

We've lived in bars
And danced on tables
Hotel trains and ships that sail
We swim with sharks
And fly with aeroplanes out of here

"Wave Back At The Camera, Honey!"

Fleming Lee's essay on Open Minds and Liars deftly sums up the case against reflexive skepticism as a falsely safe harbor. Immediately dismissing what one doesn't understand or see has always seemed a dangerous proposition to me, but I'm in a minority on that point, and in the land of the blind, a one-eyed man gets stoned to death. I often feel like the person taking the picture above must have felt, with a gigantic shark looming right behind friends, lacking the skills to get them to see a really important point. I soldier on to annoy another day, reading things like The Black Swan or The Intention Experiment. Skepticism borders on cynicism, which while fashionable is neither realistic nor tough. It's paralyzing and fearful, and often an excuse for not trying. Here's Fleming's take:
I’m puzzled by people who are so cocky about having a complete knowledge of Reality that they are first to raise their hands and clamor to “debunk” a UFO sighting or even a strong premonition or clairvoyant or other “extrasensory” experience. For years, since the early experiments of Dr. Rhine at Duke University and long before, it has been obvious to any informed, reasonable person that ESP and clairvoyance and precognition and poltergeists are part of reality – and yet those prideful hand-wavers have always claimed that whatever doesn’t fit into one of the little compartments in their smooth-worn desks cannot have happened. For such people the latest “science” is always the last word about Reality. They remind me of a very intelligent schoolmate of mine who, half a century ago, was fond of proving to me, with quotations from experts, that no spacecraft would ever be able to escape Earth’s orbit. He sounded like the sound and sensible mind, and I like the wild visionary . . . for awhile.

Believe it or not, I am quite skeptical myself, and very sensitive to chicanery, but I would never think that with my limited sensory apparatus functioning in one tiny nook in the universe I am qualified to judge that every earnest person who reports certain kinds of “inexplicable” experiences is either lying or deluded.

Why do I have a mentality that has always said that I know hardly anything about the universe and its great depths? When something “odd” is reported – something that does not fit into the current “scientific” description of possibilities – I do not assume it is a sign that the person who reports it is dishonest or hallucinating, but rather that it may be an exciting indication that science has not caught up with Reality. If something happens which clearly contradicts the conventional wisdom, it opens a new gate of discovery. I have therefore been, since my early teens, an excited collector of “strange” phenomena which seem to contradict conventional assumptions. In that way I and others like me have worked toward throwing light on aspects of reality which have been mistakenly overlooked or rejected. You cannot allow a system to stand which says that, “Every penguin is black and white”, when an occasional blue and yellow penguin waddles by. I, for one, cheer for the blue and yellow penguin, while the “debunkers” will go to any extreme to ignore its existence and assert that those who saw it had to be hallucinating.

One problem in the whole picture is that there are people who seem to have almost no critical capacity and who are so credulous that they will accept even the most nonsensical notions. They are as eager to believe as the debunkers are not to believe. Based on reason and common sense as well as intuition, I have rejected a number of accounts. Within 10 pages after picking up a book by one Ram Dass (Richard Alpert), I concluded, “This man is lying” and put the book down. I’ve rejected, mostly on internal evidence, many tales of the “paranormal” and “spirit worlds”.

Yes, I can feel when my leg is being pulled, but I first give the benefit of the doubt to the narrator. Sometimes my willingness to listen has been misguided. The Englishwoman I was close to for several years when I lived in her country was fond of talking about her days at a girls’ school in Paris. She told me colorful tales of her life at the school and the impish tricks she played on other schoolgirls. Her sister then revealed to me that Jill had never been to a girls’ school, much less a school in Paris. If I hadn’t been an American fresh from "out there" I would have realized sooner that a woman born and raised in Manchester wouldn’t normally speak exactly like the queen of England, and that owning duplicates of the royal corgis was an affectation. That was an example of a poseur trying to create an artificial image, and it hurt no one but herself, but there are far worse consequences of prevarication in the political world, as when presidents like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and George W. Bush lie in order to push their country into wars. It pays to be reasonably skeptical and to have well-tuned antennae for insincerity and wide eyed gullibility.

I’m beginning to wander into a misplaced essay on falsehood, and so I’ll return to repeat my main point – that those who feel that skepticism is always a safe position are usually wrong, and that an open mind concerning unexplained phenomena serves the cause of truth.
Well That Didn't Take Long

The day after presidential aspirant General "Surgemaster" Petraeus took over CENTCOM command from Admiral William Fallon, two Iranian boats were fired on in the Persian Gulf. Oil went over $120 a barrel, a 20% raise in the last month. In concert, Joint Chiefs Chair Adm. Mike Mullen focused on Iran's role in Iraq yesterday, (NYTimes, WaPo) stating that military action against Iran is okey-dokey.
The nation's top military officer said yesterday that the Pentagon is planning for "potential military courses of action" as one of several options against Iran, criticizing what he called the Tehran government's "increasingly lethal and malign influence" in Iraq.....

"It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability," he said at a Pentagon news conference.
More Pentagon talking points delivered to the NY Times:
The administration has, in fact, discussed whether to attack training camps, safe houses and weapons storehouses inside Iran that intelligence reports say are being used by the Quds Force to train fighters, according to two senior administration officials.
Looks like Cheney has some room left to run. People who say the US can't attack Iran, because to do so would be illogical, are very nice, well-meaning folk whom I'd dearly love to believe.

Is It Too Late To Become An Arms Dealer?

If you've been considering a new career, being an arms dealer doesn't mean you can't be an aspiring musician and have a kickin' MySpace page. 25-year old David Packouz, a Miami Beach massage therapist, was vice president of AEY, Inc., a company which last year won the $300 million contract to supply the Afghanistan army with small arms and ammo. The company's 22-year old CEO, Efraim Diveroli, was 18 years old when he started doing business with the US Army in 2004, working hard and growing his business. His search for managerial excellence was somewhat flawed, however, and is further threatened by upcoming congressional hearings in which Packouz has agreed to testify in exchange for immunity.

Young Efraim's father Michael regrets that he didn't grow up to become "a nice Jewish doctor or lawyer," explaining that "as father of a boy genius, he can be hard to control." Indeed. The crafty little RPG hawker has fled the country, and his lawyer, Hy Shapiro, declines comment. From Efraim's MySpace page:
"I definately have the desire to be very successful in my business and this does take up alot of my time. I'm one of those guys who needs to be entertained and having lots of fun all the time so if your also an undiagnosed case of ADD look me up."
Scarface and Heat are listed as favorite movies, along with something called Gofather. Which would be consistent with the restraining order a former girlfriend had sought against him. As a budding entrepreneur on the go, he probably didn't realize it was illegal to buy 50-year old loose Chinese ammunition, which is what the Army got all fussy about early this year. By sheer coincidence, the Army also granted defense contracts to the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints folks recently famous for marrying/impregnating young girls at their Texas compound, even giving a $1 million loan so they could start making aircraft wheel and brake components.

Nothing to be upset about, folks, move along and remain calm. It's only the apocalypse. We'll get through it ok. Let's take our cue from David Packouz, who has moved on and is doing fine:
"How it will affect me only time will tell. My goal has always been to make a living from my music. I should complete my album within a month or two. There will be a song on there about my former scumbag partner (called 'Hog in the Rat Race')—I'm in the process of recording it now. Hope you enjoy the music!"
(I had missed this story, until The River Blog unearthed video of a call for hearings in Congress. Pardon me, but gotta run now. Have to Google for a handbook on how to apply for defense department contracts.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

-->What Open Torture Policy Means To Us

Eventually, torturers hear what they want to hear. For its practitioners therein lies great charm, a cleansing, confirmatory, redemptive appeal. Of course admitting that would spoil much of the fun. So instead, torture's proponents would have us believe it's about finding the imminent threat, disarming that nuclear suitcase-bomb set to go off in (insert your city here) in an hour, but it has little to do with that blitheringly false hypothetical, nor with truth. No, not to do with truth at all. It's about two things. First, it's about kidding oneself into thinking it elicits truth. Far more importantly, it's about a sadistic, deep-rooted, simplistic need to express dominance and be loved for it. To inflict one's power, and to hear those supplications and sweet surrendurs, is a delight. Torturers freely admit to that, to what they get out of it. "You see," they will say, "that's all we ever wanted to hear." They share the unwholesome, misguided, self-righteous squalor of the priests sent to drive out the Devils of Loudun.

Writers like Jonathon Schwarz (A Tiny Revolution) and IOZ (Who is IOZ) get exasperated with the naivete and the perma-"shock, shock!" of various liberal writers who decry torture in its current yankee doodle dandy contortions, so they skewer those who collectively maintain, "This isn't the United States I know." Their point is well taken. We've assassinated leaders, overthrown governments, shot into crowds and trodden on people's collective wills so Dole and United Fruit could make a few more pennies on pineapples, reap a few more bushels of bananas. (Hence the term, "Banana Republic.") So why should torture suddenly offend?

Supposedly informed intelligentsia should be fully aware that Americans bestialized upwards of 250,000 Filipino natives into the hereafter while suppressing a tribal insurgency circa 1900, that black slaves and citizens were routinely tortured to death for "respect," prison camps in the US Civil War made Dachau look like day camp, and I have yet to see an American Indian in a Thanksgiving Day parade. The torture streak runs as deep with us as with everybody else, if not a recent gouge or two deeper. This country has been international torture's examplar, mentor, and prime exporter of technique and quantity for the last 50 years and more.

Torture spans a cyclically linked continuum. On the one end, it starts with your kid interrupting you, escalates to drivers who don't use turn signals while obstructing traffic to float around potential parking spots like moths blind to light, proceeds past chronic sleep deprivation and barrels on to giving genitalia "a jump" with car batteries, gets down to repeated drowning and resuscitation, and finally devolves to killing off the members of your family in front of your eyes. As of last week, our President now proudly admits that we're torturing, for the benefit of all Americans, in Uncle Sam's name.
"Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people." Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. "And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."
Shame, and still deeper shame. While the bald, defiant maintenance of its absence comes slinking 'round to the light at last. It makes me realize how keeping up outward appearances has salutary effects, hypocrisy is necessary for the maintenance of mores, and double standards are, well, standard. Denouncing torture while your minions are off enthusiastically performing it at least gives the impression you're against it in principle, so torture is placed in a cultural context of criminality, illegitimacy and risk.

In such contexts, government employees engage in torture at their peril, a fact with which they're fully conversant. The Ocracies in question remember every "rogue agent" story which has occasionally emanated from the White House and Congress. They remember the wrecked reputations, fortunes, and careers. One such story was most famously woven in the wake of Vietnam, wherein we are expected to believe a few Bad Apples departed from official, ethical norms to engage in personal lapses of uncondoned nastiness, lapses which had nothing whatsoever to do with the doctrine known as "Killing Hope." Agents were hung out to dry, wrists were slapped, additional layers of safeguards were set. That's why the agencies were so careful to lay bread-crumbs this time around, to obtain clarification and endorsement: "Is this what you really want us to do? And you're willing to go on the record?" "This is your baby, go get it done," was the executive order.

We're on new ground, a soggy bottom the full implications of which even the leftiest snarkers and most liberal jihad-coddlers alike seem to miss. We finally have an open torture policy, one which our First Zombie announced in public, in front of cameras with words he grunted and hummed deep from in his ruined throat. Although it has and will continue to find its way home, this program of torture emanates from wellsprings of xenophobia, racism, and a yet more base pathology which has no name but may foment in serial killers. The difference from the America of Before is, no one has to be afraid of torturing anymore.

We cannot survive without ordinary truth to nurture our inner selves. Many if not most of us die in our twenties, after a relatively brief period of consciousness emerging from thoughtless childhood cruelty, eventually succumbing to our appetites, collections of multiple vices. It's so hard to keep noticing, to keep observing, to keep caring. But I want to be alive, this boy inside me wants to go on living. And the zombies behind simply shuffled along and repeated what the First Zombie said. They are still heading for their Long War, moaning and jostling each other on the way to mindlessly mortify yet more flesh. Maybe a lot more flesh than they already have. The full implication is that they're going to make us into zombies, too.

All In Favor Of Annoying Dick Cheney, Say "Aye"

These are the men who run Iran. Each has his own backers, each has their own angle, baggage, rivalry, and pathology. Here there surely be rogues, murderers, religious fanatics, and enemies, too. Right? Sure. But with enemies like these, maybe they should be friends.

Let's take a look at what these Evil-Doers have done. They defeated America's proxies (Shah Rezah Pahlevi and Saddam Hussein) in determined succession and great cost. They turned Ahmad Chalabi into one of the most successful intelligence agents of all time, and killed two birds with one stone: used the US to take out their implacable foe and bleed Israel's benefactor dry. They also trained and financed Hezbollah in Lebanon, which paid off by handing Israel, formerly the most admired fighting force in the world, a resounding defeat. That's either the most incredible run of luck in statecraft, or somebody who runs Iran is pretty good at this stuff. Possibly so good that almost no one gives them credit for it.

A dossier on Chalabi: he's a banker, born in Iraq but married to a Lebanese, and convicted for fraud in Jordan. After becoming head of the US-funded Iraqi National Congress, he supplied the neocons with a Saddam defector known as 'Curveball.' This agent gave up copious amounts of false WMD information, those dubious juices used to justify invasion. All along, Chalabi had known ties to Iranian intelligence, met with their top Hezbollah general numerous times for more than two decades, and he arranged meetings with the top UN weapons inspector in 1997.

The US entered a horse-race with a mule. Chalabi had also studied cryptography at MIT ("duh" is the word which springs to mind) and let the Iranians know their codes had been broken in 2004. He was finally arrested by US troops at his house in Iraq, dragged away with a .45 held to his head. Pentagon civilian employees were then polygraphed up the wazoos, but Chalabi was released without explanation. He was prominently placed behind the US President at a State of the Union address and was supposed to become Iraq's Prime Minister (but was so hated by the Iraqis he didn't gain a single seat in parliament). He was introduced to the American people by its President as "the George Washington of Iraq." He's still in the Iraqi government as an appointee, in charge of the "Iraq Services Committee," and was referenced favorably by super-warrior General David Petraeus only six months ago. (Ummm...why isn't Chalabi dead?)

Rafsanjani and the other guys must wake up every day, yawn contentedly, and say, "Thank God for Ahmad Chalabi. And for American stupidity." True, maybe they were lucky to hit paydirt with him. Few rational beings would dare count on such deformed incompetence. But if they had they been dumb, or hotheads like ours, they also would've inflamed Iraq in order to expel the US at the cost of their country's longer-term stability. They knew the conflict would spill over if they stoked it, so they resisted the temptation, and at this point they're actually trying to hold Iraq together and have told Al-Sadr to cool it. Meanwhile Petraeus is in as CENTCOM commander, Dick Cheney has been talking to Pravda on the Potomac again about nuking Iran, and HRC weighed in with her own "we will obliterate them" comment. So we're now threatening to attack Iraq's best stabilizing influence. You can't fix stupid. But it does die.

The smart course was to let America slowly bleed its might away right next to them. They've played their game flawlessly against Israel, Iraq, and the US, making no strategic errors during the time of the hyper-aggressive Bush Doctrine. They've showed low cunning tempered by high wisdom and restraint, and history will probably remember them as the brilliant and direct victors over a superpower. Citizens desire many things of their leaders, but the first should be for peace, the second for victory. Unlike our leaders, they have excelled at delivering both.

The Crucial Primary Battleground Of Guam

There have been 17 separate democratic primary dates so far, each one as overwrought as a joint boy-girl scout jamboree. While running to the airport we actually heard a superdelegate on NPR (missed his name) state, "I wish I didn't have to vote. This is the stupidest system that the hand of man could've possibly come up with."

Guess you might say primary fatigue is setting in. Gosh. I wonder...who was it, what geniuses designed the current democratic primary system? [a-aa-aah-the Clinton-choo!] Along with the fatigue will come the weirdness, particularly now that the Clintons got their "(almost) double digit win" in Pennsylvania. And for our next stop on the Denial Express, we have Guam on May 3rd, with 9 delegate votes. Of course, that's according to Wikipedia--Guam's own newspaper thinks they only get 8. (Having been in some expatriate-type situations, I'll go with Wikipedia for now.)

I started this out as satire, but in looking at the numbers, it could well be the Protectorate Voting Bloc which puts Obama over the top. He has won thumping delegate victories in every non-contiguous, non-state primary district so far, coming out ahead 43.5-17.5, an amazing 72.5% rate. Puerto Rico has a whopping 63 delegates, and yes, oh yes, race and gender might be teentsy, weentsy factors in the primary there.

Whether it has 8 votes or 9, little Guam has transformed into A Decider. Winning 72% of it and Puerto Rico's delegate totals would result in a gain of 52 delegates. That's a pretty big factor when you consider Obama only has to win 52% of the remaining 534 delegates to go over 2,000. That goes down to only 47% if you add 50 more island delegates, and Puerto Rico's primary is held on June 1st. So all this stuff about being deadlocked is a bunch of hooey. Puerto Freaking Rico, not even a state, will probably be what puts Obama over 2000. Send in CNN! ABC! The Drudge Report! Heck, send Larry King on down. Please.

Set against a tasteful studio backdrop banner of "How the Clintons Screwed Themselves," Puerto Rico really is the next huge news story. Historic. Huge-huge. As for Guam, the Gallup, Zogby, and Polling Point organizations must descend upon it post-haste.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I drove across Pennsylvania only once, heading east at edgy speeds with the object of making it into work Monday morning in New Jersey. Having left Seattle on Friday evening, I was admittedly feeling the strain, but what really got me was the state's deceptively vast topography. Once you're out of Pittsburgh, there's big long stretches of rocks and trees, not much traffic, and of the lights you see in the dark, most shine out from burbling rigs of long-haul truckers.

Traversing that state was like crossing the Kingdom of Bocephus Klein, its wild terrain conjuring images of war-painted savages attacking Conestoga wagons, making the environs of South Dakota seem chock-full of sophisticates. After midnight when I got The Nods, it was hard to find a place, any place, with a bed--a simple task in even the sparsest reaches of my neighboring home-state, which can get pretty sparse indeed. Sparse? Hell, it was as if space invaders took out a giant vacuum and sucked up all the people. By the time I found a motel, my status had been downgraded to 'Road Hazard,' and I was almost in New Jersey.

Tomorrow's democratic primary will probably be decided in that central section of Pennsylvania, where easy prospects are faded memories and self-reliance is tattooed on the faces of men like hearts that say 'Mom.' If I hadn't driven across it, I'd be far more inclined to take the P.A. polls on their numbers, which have Hillary Clinton ahead of Barack Obama by as much as 15 points. Even though she has much of the party machine's backing there and counts both the governor and Philadelphia's mayor as fervent supporters, a number of factors may have eluded polling to make the contest surprisingly close:

1) Lots of Newly Registered Democrats
Democrats have gained 326,756 PA voters since a year ago, and the Republicans have lost 73,009. Two bellwether Republican counties, Bucks and Montgomery, have gone Democrat for the first time in living memory. Speaking of which, Hillary Clinton has been a national figure for quite some time, so she's probably not the attractant.

2) Newly Registered Voters Trend Away From Clinton
This is why Obama is winning the national contest, and a poll by Franklin and Marshall College found that almost two-thirds of new Pennsylvania Democratic registrants in the past 3 months plan to vote for Obama.

3) Clinton's Peaking Negatives
Public perception is an odd beast; H.R.C. is the same person who was fired for lying on her first legal case back in 1974, and few laurels for truth have festooned her since. Yet the polled negatives rose by double digits via the euphroes of Bosnian embellishment; this will be the first primary since they were exposed. Her low-trustworthy scores will cast a chill on both undecideds and swing Republicans, and these are probably the chief termites in her numbers, down from 20+ a month ago.

4) Obama's Counterpunches
The "Gotcha" Debate went almost an hour before a non-bizarre question was asked. If an erstwhile moderator asks you, "Does your reverend beat his wife less than you do yours," it sucks, but it does give you occasion to fire back. Referring back to point 3), HRC has a political glass jaw, one that can't take more than a light jab. Early on, Obama resisted his staff's urgings and said, "I'm not going to knee-cap her," rightly believing a positive-message campaign played to his greater advantage. Going negative departs from message, but it's effective. As the Clinton "Kitchen" ad plays today (in which images of Osama bin Laden figure prominently), he finally hit her on trustworthiness.

5) Republicans Can't Vote Against Obama
Pennsylvania is a closed primary. That means the Limbaugh Factor at play in Ohio and Texas is largely void. Because Ohio and Texas hold open primaries, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh (amongst others) urged his listeners to cross party lines and vote for Hillary so the Democrats would "bleed each other white" and hand McCain victory in November. Figuring out how big an effect the anti-voting had in Ohio is speculation, but because of the multi-staged system in Texas, it can easily be inferred. Obama won the mailed ballots 57-42 to take an early lead, lost the general open vote by a steadily eroding margin, and yet handily won the subsequent caucuses to win the state. Odd? The math works out when you factor in the 600,000 self-described "strong conservatives" who voted in Texas' democratic primary. It won't happen in Pennsylvania.

The stilted, drawn-out primary pace, the birth of a new, as-yet-unchristened political current, and the roiling lobscouse of a ravenous media randomly muting and amplifying deeply rocked intangibles have given pollsters a rough time throughout these contests. Obama may not win tomorrow, and my political prognostications are as bad as anyone else's, but it's really, really hard to see how Clinton could muster enough enthusiasm in Pennsylvania's sprawling central belly to achieve more than stalemate there. To have a slim chance of staying in the delegate hunt she has to win by 15+, and the margin will be tighter. If it's only by 5, 6, 7, the race is effectively over. A bumper sticker floats in my mind's eye: I'm Amish, And I Vote.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

They Really Need An Opponent Soon

Advisers to Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain watch as press secretary Brooke Buchanan tosses an orange down the aisle during a bowling game on board the campaign charter airplane, Friday, April 11th, 2008.

(Via picture of the day at Born at the Crest of Empire, now linked to in right margin.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kanzius RF Nano-Particle Cancer Treatment

Being bombarded with microwaves isn't all bad, may even be a life-saver. After my last post, I went looking for a good old-fashioned 'technology will save us all' story and hit the jackpot. From Wired magazine:
A promising new cancer treatment that may one day replace radiation and chemotherapy is edging closer to human trials. Kanzius RF therapy attaches microscopic nanoparticles to cancer cells and then "cooks" tumors inside the body with harmless radio waves. Based on technology developed by Pennsylvania inventor John Kanzius, a retired radio and TV engineer, the treatment has proven 100 percent effective at killing cancer cells while leaving neighboring healthy cells unharmed. It is currently being tested at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“I don’t want to give people false hope,” said Dr. Steve Curley, the professor leading the tests, “but this has the potential to treat a wide variety of cancers.” Modern cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy have proven remarkably effective at treating many cancers, especially in combination, but are plagued with toxic side effects. These treatments kill healthy cells as well as cancerous ones.
Gold nanoparticles are used to coat the target cells and radio waves bounce around inside. Each cell becomes a receiver for a high-energy RF field, with resulting hyperthermia excited in the bad cells. Makes sense.

John Kanzius is a retired radio engineer with a tech degree who underwent chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkins Lymphona in 2003-2004. At that time, he saw children with terminal cancers and resolved to help. By 2005, he had built a contraption in his home, collaborating with Richard Smalley, the Nobel-winning nanotechnology pioneer of 'buckyball' fame; by 2006, he had convinced the University of Pittsburgh Medical center to perform trials on laboratory rabbits. As of November 1st, 2007, the cure rate for the rabbits was 100%.
Sadly, Smalley, who had fought a long battle with cancer, died in Houston at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in late 2005.

Read more here...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weekend Thoughts On The Future Of Human Kind

This morning I was musing again on the the man called Oetzi, the mummy found up in the Austro-Italian alps, dead these 5,300 years and more. Roughly my age, he was able to smelt copper from raw ore; had an axe he made himself; snowshoes which converted to a backpack; bow and arrows; layered outerwear; the tattoed markings of acupuncture for relief of lower back pain; and twenty different kinds of moss and bark, variously as toilet paper, firestarter, antibiotic, dressing, bandage, who knows what else.

Archaelogists said the axe was impossible, insisting that a passerby must have dropped it there an eon or so later, because Oetzi lived well before the bronze age. They were given the lie and the European bronze age had to be moved back by 1,ooo years; forensics proved he had inhaled the fumes of smelting, the resulting arsenides preserved in his tissues. Technically Italian, he came from a valley some 15 kilometers to the south, had a deep cut between his left hand and index finger from warding off a recent knife slash, various wounds on wrist and chest, the blood of at least 4 other humans had spilled upon him or his weapons that day, and his death came from an artery attenuated via an unreachable arrow wound in his back.

While bleeding to death, he climbed more than 3,000 remarkable feet up a glacier, which if you've ever shot a mammal you know they never bleed uphill, not for long, but he somehow made it to the top where the ensuing snows packed down into ice, eventually melting to reveal him. He did not leave a web site to record whatever vendetta or ambition, the wronged family, stolen sheep, or misadventure which provoke
d him or any companions to war. Just his highly improbable body, a flawed savant of survival. For all our technology, in many ways we compare to such ancestors as domesticated dogs do to wolves.

The yin of technology pulls against the yang reverting back to the mean, and the synecdoches of our individual selves catch in the maelstrom, innoculated from typhus and shielded from tuberculosis, yet hunted by diabetes, infused with mercury raining down from the sky. New problems, the oft-unacknowledged bastards of new solutions ever-filigreed onto the dynamically stable substrate of interlocking matter. Each form of matter flows by responding to resonant forces, forming sense organs of tensile communication, capillary waves creasing across themselves and the body of the universe as incarnate breezes blow across water. Distracted, detail-oriented creatures as we are, we usually don't notice much of it. Yet even we could not but witness the interplay of earth and cosmos in the turgidity of reality, and the great rhythm of the tides.

Such apprehensions led us to technologies like axe and acupuncture, bark and moss, crutches to give us a leg up on the big cats and birds and tiny animalculae which have killed us, our powerful brains steadily turning the tables on them with deadly, existential interest. For which "progress" is the English word. When we think about it at all, just as every animist, ancient, or merely old religion espoused amongst the evidence relentless and abundant, we know everything is connected. Albeit at times it's so extraordinarily complex as to not be immediately apparent how.

The same paradoxical prowess which identifies the interconnections, the relationships and their natures, is the same which seduces us into thinking we can thrive independent of the effects of our solutions upon the arboreal universe around us. Simply being aware of both the prowess and the paradox has (as it were) allowed me speak Arabic in the houses of the Moors and emerge again, sometimes even unscathed. On the one hand I have worked, one might even say lived, with people whose belief in the saving power of technology is absolute. On the other I've dwelt among and belonged to a group who fervently believe they are the blessed chosen of Divine Providence, and will one day be gods themselves.

Convincing the Moor to change, of course, is a different matter. Mere survival is a more realistic objective. When global climate change was first discussed in my presence by a group of MBA students in 1991, it was with open derision. I'd never heard of the subject, but my reflexes twitched to air a contrary view, couched in reason: "If we know so little of the earth's processes, and know so much of industry's pollutions, wouldn't a more conservative approach serve us best?" (The response: nonsense. Environmentalism will turn us into paupers. Show me a way to make money off of the environment, then environmentalism makes sense. There's your f____g paradox!)

It was fun writing the recent "Competitive Environmentalism" post, my attempt at magical realism; it must have bubbled up from less facetious considerations. We are savants of survival, lords and creators of the tensile internet, and there is much to be said for laughing in the face of danger. And yet--organized matter is extremely sensitive to even the most delicate influences, exquisitely prone to tragic breakdown into component substances. Thermodynamics. As I write there are fearsome polar bears no longer feeling so fearsome nor polar, maladapted suddenly to their shrinking ice caps, mulling over the merits of growing gills. As surely as they will be extinct, we will be impacted by ourselves, perhaps collapsed all the way back to Oetzi. A terminus for which we have never been more ill-prepared. Asking, "Can technology save the bears," is the same question as, "Can it save us?"

Yes it can, and the Dalai Lama is invading China next Tuesday. We live every one of us by faith, and proceed each day with a certain measure of optimism. Certainly it takes those, and in fairly large portions, to knowingly bring a child into our world, with the Acheron itself gurgling before us. Whilst the arctic tundras will melt and release so much methane gas trapped in their grounds it could light the earth's atmosphere like a barbecue, torching and tormenting my offspring into extinction, it's not in me to cry "vanity, vanity."

It helps that it's sunny in Seattle, a glorious Saturday morning, and as the cock-eyed character Chauncy Gardener once said, "There will be growth in the Spring." Today is for setting barrels to collect rain, seeds to gather sun. To stir the soil and plant for future gain--the doubts in our issues may be grave, but ain't it ever thus and despite it being so, there have been signs of progress in human affairs. Some of us will probably survive at the margins of the globe, forced into greater wisdom, bigger changes in the brain. Every step we take towards the one helps towards the other, and re-confessing our connectedness is the first.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Nelson Mandela, Nearing 90, Is A Terrorist

So is the entire African National Congress. They're not allowed to travel to the United States without a waiver, because the old Afrikaaner party dubbed the ANC a terrorist organization. Howard Berman, chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, introduced a bill last week to remove all ANC references from Who's Who Among Terrorists. Condi Rice authoritatively weighed in after 4 years of running the State Department:
"It is frankly a rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterparts - the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader, Nelson Mandela."
I hear ya, Condi. It must be, like, hell.

(Pictured above is the jail in Johannesburg where Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jim White: A Town Called Amen

On the recommendation of a friend, I went alone to see a show by an unfamiliar artist called Jim White, egged on by the knowledge that he made an atmospheric BBC docu-romp about the South, 'Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus.' Not that I saw that. But after the dynamite show, and his penetrating lyrics and quick witticisms between songs, I'm going to. Here's one of the songs that most pleased the standing-room only crowd at the Tractor Tavern, and me. And its lyrics:

The days of our innocence and grace blow by;
The smiles we wear upon our face blow by.
Oh, the sweet wine of youth
goes sour over time.
Seems like the more that you lose,
the more you ache to find...

A town called Amen.
Like a bright-eyed smile
from some long lost friend---
it’s a town called Amen.

Sit at the window sill,
see the children rushing by.
Come a flood of summer rain,
the strange increments of time.
How the wild engines run!
Burning shadows from our minds.
Lord, when the purging gets done,
I sure pray what’s left behind...

Is a town called Amen.
Like a bright-eyed smile
from some long lost friend---
it’s a town called Amen.
Come lay down on this bed.
Hey, close your weary eyes.
Like the clouds above our heads,
life slowly passes by.

Did you kiss the dog you love,
when you were a little child?
Will you lay in the arms of
some sweet reverie a while?

In a town called Amen.
Like a bright sunrise.
Hey, if you open up your eyes,
you’re in a town called Amen.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Country Too Annoying To Be in Michael Moore's 'Sicko'

Just watched footage that didn't make it into 'Sicko,' surfaced by Bruce at the River Blog. Documentary filmmaker Moore judged that a segment on Norway, the #1 country for health in the world, would detract from the impact of his film because Americans might think it too fantastical.

In America, talking about health care, being subjected to the various results of its industrial brainwashing, or directly experiencing it all tend to make me verbally temerarious, and you know how wearing it is to be near someone when they're roaring, "Bullshit!! This is complete bull-ssshhhhiiiiitttt!!," throwing their coffee mug at a flat-screen TV, or biting chunks of wood off furniture in a foaming rage.

Yet that's how mad our country's health care system makes me, and acting polite about its incompetence and cruelties requires great restraint--one more easily overwhelmed if your faith has been undermined by seeing something demonstrably, and apparently effortlessly, better. Our system's poor performance is in now way a surprise, it's exactly what should be expected from an industry whose main function is to maximize profit. Economic policy is health policy;
health care is congruent with economic care. They can't be separated. Norway's approach provides worthwhile contrasts in philosophy and results.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Speak Up, I Can't Hear The Words "Mark Penn"

The caption for this photo was:
(Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton cups her ear as reporters ask her about Mark Penn, the pollster and senior strategist for Clinton's presidential bid who left the campaign Sunday, at the airport in Albuquerque, N.M., Sunday, April 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
By cupping her ear, what a prankster, she was apparently a joke of dodging reporters questions. Or maybe it was a way of expressing cognitive dissonance. The Clinton campaign has paid nearly 10% of all the money it has raised to Mark Penn, at least $13 million of $141 million. Penn is the author of the best-selling 'Microtrends,' a book about...umm, how small details explain everything? How little acorns become great oaks? How Fourier transforms applied to long-tailed stochastically-smoothed trendlines uncover power laws which foretell the future? I dunno what the thing's about, but will learn fast. Anyone who can shake the Clintons down for that much dough and not wind up dead deserves some quality time.

The rumpus is that Penn got into hot water for peddling influence to a foreign client, the government of Colombia, which is all aflame to get congressional approval on its bilateral free trade agreement. Bush sent the bill to the legislature today, along with a few now-customary insults. Why the hot water? Well, because H.C. is now expressly against anything containing the words "free trade agreement" (and don't you forget it, bub). As to why either Penn or Columbia should even want such a thing, I surely don't know. You'd think being Most Favored Cocaine Supplier would be enough for Colombia, and in Penn's case $13 million for doing some mumbo-jumbo special polls (and the sage advice to not bother running in caucus states) was pretty swell, too. So the New York Times and other sources reported that Penn was forced out.

But, not so fast, the Clintons aren't bothering to actually fire Penn. He was on the Monday campaign conference call as usual, and his firm will continue to be their pollster. So he's not resigned, not fired, not leaving, his firm's still getting paid, and he's just sort of helicoptering around like some Bellisarius of Bullshit. Man, this guy's good. I wonder what Obama is paying him? Unfortunately this means I'll have to read his other book: 'Winning Through Conflicts of Interest.'

(Much of this info came from Born at the Crest of Empire, a sharp blogger.

For Prompt Control Of Senile Agitation

Has a nice ring to it, and this was a real ad.

Parrots And BushCo Parables

A magician was working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The audience would be different each week, so the magician allowed himself to do the same tricks over and over again.

There was only one problem: The captain's parrot saw the shows every week and began to understand what the magician did in every trick. Once he understood that, he started shouting in the middle of the show.

"Look, it's not the same hat!" "Look, he's hiding the flowers under the table!" "Hey, why are all the cards the Ace of Spades?"

The magician was furious but couldn't do anything, it was the captain's parrot after all.
One day the ship had an accident and sank. The magician found himself on a piece of wood, in the middle of the ocean, and of course the parrot was by his side.

They stared at each other with hate, but did not utter a word. This went on for several days.

After a week the parrot finally said, "Okay, I give up. What'd you do with the boat?”

(The Magician and the Parrot joke brought to you by the good people over at Cat in the Bag.)

Psyche's News Roundup

McCain's Speech On Iraq Progress Interrupted By News Of Green Zone Dead, Wounded

PBS' Iraq Documentary Sets Online Viewership Record

Think Progress - Chris Shays: I still havent read pre-war Iraq NIE (neither did Hillary)

Mark Penn "Resigns" From Clinton Camp - Politics on The Huffington Post

BBC NEWS | Mandela: US threatens world peace (Cheney: opposed Mandela's pardon)

The Cold Hard 9/11 Truth

TIME: Somewhere to Run To: Where Deposed Dictators Have Settled (Cheney, Bush family roadmap)

Grains Gone Wild - New York Times (Grain prices going limit-up)

Over the Top Fed Actions Feed Conspiracy Thinking | Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace

NYU dental professor discovers biological clock

The American Scholar - Getting It All Wrong - By Brian Boyd

Top 10 Wired Reader Night Photos, Decided by You

Church of Scientology warns Wikileaks over documents - Wikinews, the free news source

Are Animals Stuck In Time?

Sunday Herald: Scientists Crack Security System Of Millions Of Cars (Real ID, here we come!)

CFI Issues Critique of Civics Textbook | Center for Inquiry (Republican "education")

Hillary Clinton's Self-Swiftboating | BuzzFlash.org

Hotline On Call: Kerry: Obama Won't Be Swift Boated

411mania.com: Politics - Crushing New Poll For Clinton: Obama Leads By 23 In NC

PK: Voodoo Health Economics - New York Times (McCain's health care plan wouldn't cover himself)

Daily Kos: A Discussion with Eric Lichtblau: Bush's Law

There Were Orders to Follow - New York Times (Bush legalism parallels Nazi lawyerisms)

THE EXILE - Who Won Iraq's "Decisive" Battle? - By Gary Brecher - The War Nerd (not Maliki or Petraeus)

Charlton Heston, Epic Film Star and Voice of N.R.A., Dies at 83 - New York Times

We Bring Democracy To The Fish
It is unacceptable that fish prey on each other.
For their comfort and safety, we will liberate them
into fishfarms with secure, durable boundaries
that exclude predators. Our care will provide
for their liberty, health, happiness, and nutrition.
Of course all creatures need to feel useful.
At maturity the fish will discover their purposes.
by Donald Hall, from White Apples and the Taste of Stone

Saturday, April 05, 2008

I Have Seen The Future, Baby: Competitive Environmentalism

Like librul tree-huggers everywhere, while my morning latte is being whipped up by a time-automated Gaggia espresso machine set on 'stun,' I roll out of bed straight onto my secret prayer rug, prostrate myself in the direction of Mecca, and thank Allah for preserving the body and soul of Osama bin Laden.

When that's out of the way, I come downstairs in my hemp pajamas and test the frothiness of my one-percent-raw-milk-and-soy Caffe Vita, considering my daily questions: "What can I do to make my family look like we're consuming less resources than we actually are? How can we single-handedly blunt Global Climate Destabilization, and out-do our friends and neighbors in the environmental arts?"

As previously reported, I tried going the bio-fuels route with the newest diesel station wagon Mercedes sold in North America. Of course, that still means the car is 21 years old, come of age at last. Driving vintage vehicles is curiously exhilarating, and while your gleaming bodywork swans along to admiring glances, your arm casually draped on the window, you're terrified and thinking, "Gee, I hope there's a downhill parking spot open. The sunroof will leak, but at least pointed downhill it'll probably star--shit! I forgot the window won't roll back up." Still, other drivers have stopped me on the street to ejaculate, "Wow! How did you find that baby? I've been looking 5 years for one of those! Are you turning it into a grease-car?" The Merc generates enviro-cache' and, as a bonus, the mortification of the perfectly passive-aggressive Andersons three houses up the street, bio-diesel burners and cut-throat competitors, what with their VW Passat TDI only being 4 years old. After upping the ante, I detected hints of degage' on Mr. Anderson's part, a certain constraint. Inside a week, he started biking to and from work.

Luckily I'd held one card in reserve--the commute for both Lord Wife and I is approximately 40 feet each way, having mindfully structured our lives so we could work at home. The opportunity for a well-sharpened riposte came at a neighborhood block party. During a thought-provoking conversation about Peak Oil, how to make our neighborhood more walkable, the desired elimination of plastic bag usage and the possible multiplier effects of a Venezuelan oil embargo on prices, I let slip my stiletto within Mr. Anderson's range of hearing--"we're lucky. Working from home truly lessens our dependence on oil, although we started out for different reasons. For the children." His jaw slowly clenched, his ears quietly reddened, a Belgian beer was left half-finished. "Ha," I thought, "that'll settle his hash for awhile." Two weekends later, an array of ultra-high-tech German solar panels appeared on the roof of the Andersons' porch, robotically, teutonically turning to drink in the sun at the most advantageous angles.

Dear Allah: may Mr. Anderson rot in hell. Even if the wonder-panels weren't perpetually back-ordered (despite costing $7500 apiece), our house faces northward, and positioning the status-enhancing devices so they can be seen from the street would severely curtail their efficiency, a fact of which Anderson was well aware. So for right now, I put a chicken coop out front as a quick stop-gap, and we're raising speckled game hens on organic worms. Longer term, I'm having an architect draw up plans for an attractive home sewage treatment plant made from reclaimed materials, one which will safely turn our poo into compost by pedaling an attached bicycle. This old 'hood won't know what hit it. As for those kraut-made solar panels? They'll just have to go out back.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Please Give To The Houston Victims Today

I was hoping to find an April Fool's graphic for today, but time was taken up by work and desperately filling out paperwork. This picture came along during a few out-of-context stolen blogging moments, and my media-saturated brain said to itself, "Huh. Self, look at these ex-Presidents pimping to get tsunami donations for Houston. Standing in front of a kid's crayon drawing of a Sky-Crane dropping supplies. And Houston's never going to be hit by a tsunami anyway! Why does it need a fund? Is there a depth to which these swine won't stoop?"

A few seconds later, it dawned on me it was from back when they were fund-raising for the tsunami that hit Banda Aceh and Thailand.
April Fool's on me. (The sign's syntax does sorta put Houston first.)

Clinton Compares Herself To Rocky Balboa: 'We Have A Lot In Common'

Honest, a mole in their campaign did not tell me last Friday Hillary was set to go Balboa:
PHILADELPHIA — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she has something in common with legendary film boxer Rocky Balboa _ she's not a quitter.

Recalling a famous scene on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from the 1976 Oscar-winning film "Rocky," Clinton said that ending her presidential campaign now would be as if "Rocky Balboa had gotten halfway up those art museum steps and said, 'Well, I guess that's about far enough.'"

"Let me tell you something, when it comes to finishing a fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common. I never quit. I never give up. And neither do the American people," Clinton said in excerpts of prepared remarks to be given Tuesday to a meeting of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.