Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thursday's Thoughts

It's still spring and the road to paradise is open (near right side of image), and that's over 19 feet of snow, which is about a third above normal (graph). The snow peaked about a week ago and is now going through diurnal melting-freezing, which you can just see in the streamflow graph (Nisqually River near National).

Ok, enough about paradise. The news?

Starbucks. I wrote they were buying Clover Equipment Co. in Seattle, makers of $8-12,000 coffee makers used in some highend coffee cafes. Well, they did buy the company and announced the company will only make their equipment for Starbucks, and not available by other baristas, cafes and restaurants. I've read differing reports about the coffee maker itself and the results, and I can't say either way because I've never had coffee from one.

But I do think it's rather presumptive of Starbucks to stop selling the equipment to non-Starbuck customers, not a smart longterm business strategy. It will only put other companies in the business of their own machines to those customers, and probably lose some customers as a decision of conscience about corporations. Like me. I can't avoid Starbucks, and while I choose other cafes or baristas over Starbucks, I now may think twice now about buying coffee from them.

Onward. Torture. Yikes, but the reality is that before the Iraq war the Office of Legal Council in the Justice Department issued two memo authorizing torture, specifically defining it as anything less than "death, organ failure or permanent damage." In short, our leaders, the Justice Department and the Defense Department didn't just turn a blind eye to it, as seen in Abu Ghraib (prison), they condoned and implicitly encouraged it.

They built a culture around so anyone in the military and CIA can use it with impunity. What were all these supposedly bright people thinking about what's good for the US where this degree torture is also good for other nations, groups or people to conduct on our soldiers? Did they think the Geneva Convention only applies when it's our soldiers?

NATO. I really do wonder if Bush is either arrogant, stupid or blind. I don't know which, but he has the guts to stand there and tell anyone what they should do for the benefit of the US, and refuse to listen, let alone concede, others can and should have the right to do that to us. He thinks the world is for the US' interests and nothing else, and he, as the leader of the "free world" (a debateable issue after 9/11), can tell everyone what is right.

I know from the news Bush isn't happy with NATO's role in Afghanistan, and especially their very small, limited role in Iraq. So what doesn't he understand they have a right to do that, even against our objections? Does he think everyone else thinks he's a visionary to offer salient ideas of the future? Or maybe he's just the blind street peddler preaching from a soapbox with religous fervor about other relgious zealots wanting to kill him and destroy his way of life?

This you gotta wonder. A Chinese spy has been operating in the US defense world for over twenty years. I'm sure a lot of people are slapping their foreheads wondering what has been compromised.

The upshot? Well, they've been preaching about the Chinese spy threat for years, and now we know it's been a several decade issue that we've simply overlooked. When you're the target, it's easy to lose track of all those aiming at you, until they hit you where it hurts. And then you discover how blind you've been.

Parting jesture? None really. A good friend and spouse lost two of her three cats within a week to illnesses. It's hard knowing an animal can be so sick or ill there is nothing you can do but help them die, more quickly and humanely than nature would. I don't have answers for losing pets. Only sorrow and sadness.

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