Friday, June 27, 2008

WSR - Updated Website

I updated the Website with version 2.4, July 2008. It wasn't a dramatic change from previous versions, mostly updating the navigation and adding some new features, like a new Contact Web page. I've also upgraded the Mt. Rainier NP Photography Guide (MPG) with version 2.1. It's a total reorganization of the table of contents, adding some new sections and proposed ones, and removing some that aren't in the plans at this time.

Outside of that, it's been a learning curve, learning Google Map and Google's pseudo-xml file format this spring, a little (very little) php for the contact Web page, and other small things behind the new Web pages. I am exploring version 3.0 but right now it's a vague idea of something I can't see yet, so it's well into the future for now while I focus on the Photo Guide. I hope you like the Photo Guide and new Website, and as always, you're always welcome to send me your suggestion, ideas, questions, and problems.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mid-week Thoughts

This is Wednesday, and while we had a day of summer recently, we're back to subnormal temperatures with occasional showers with rain in the mountains. But we know eventually, normally the week after the Independence holiday. We can wait because we know when summer does come, it will be nice, with milder warm temperature, rarely above 85-90 degrees, with clear blue skies. Ok, at least until Labor Day.

And yes, the Seattle Mariners won last night too. Ok, they're like 25 wins and 46 losses, still the worst in baseball. They're second to last in pitching and hitting too. And every senior player is hitting at least 20-30 percentage points and some 50 percentage points below their career average. They fired the GM, like that matters, but he was the one who built the team from 2003 to 2008 with only one (2007) winning season.

And who's next? The manager? Likely since he was the GM's choice. But who would replace him? And where is the blame, or better lack of performance? The team won when they had a strong manager, like Mike Hargrove and Lou Pinella. Under Bob Melvin and John McLaren, they've been lackluster at best. And the reality is if there are any real answers to revive the team, besides hoping, as we've done the last five years? Not really, but we will hope they at least get to .500 by the end of the season, and look forward to next year.

Ok, enough of bitching about baseball.

Bush, and does John McClain, want to lift the ban for drilling off-shore. That's the danger of Bush's last 6 months, getting the ban lifted before he leaves office. The reality is that it wouldn't help, even in the next 3-5 years, the time it takes to explore and develop the areas. And even then it wouldn't add that much to reduce the price of gas very much.

The reality as has been noted is that we don't have the refineries to process the oil into the products. There hasn't been a new refinery built in over 20 years, and there is more than enough evidence to show the the refinery companies have been manipulating their operations to sustain high prices by taking facilities off-line just before they're needed to produce new quanities.

And then they are routinely having to stop to switch operations for changing products, such as fuel oil for winter needs, summer gas-ethanol mixtures, etc. In short, it's not always a supply problem the oil companies want to sell you, because drilling and producing oil is their profit, it's the refineries too, who haven't kept pace with the supply and demand since the 1980's. That's what need to change, not adding more oil into the funnel that doesn't have the capacity.

The campaign? Well, it's still at full speed and will only go faster. They're already talking about swiftboating Obama. The republican organizations are already gearing up to produce ads depicting him and his record. Beware of these ads as we've seen what they did to John Kerry. There was nothing accurate or correct about those ads, so I don't expect any one about Obama to be nothing but lies.

Hey, that's my experience seeing the ads and reading about them later.

Question. Why is it that the Republicans scream bloody murder when government contractors commit fraud, abuse, or simply don't do the work when the Democrats are in power, especially a Democratic President, but then sit on their hands with the mouths shut when this same happens with the government contractors in Iraq? When Billions and Billions of US government, meaning our tax money, in cash and checks has been spent in Iraq without any accounting, only the Democrats are asking for investigations.

And only now five years later, and 3-4+ years after the government contracts in Iraq have been issued, are the Inspector General arms of agencies are finding and reporting widespread abuse and fraud but US corporation and some government employees in Iraq. And after all the money is gone the Republicans are asking for more money to correct the situation, with government contractors of course.

Money chasing money, except it's all our money.

Ok, it's a short day, too much other stuff to do this week and still another two days of newspapers to read and report. I'll see you later. Parting jesture? This little guy. What's not to like?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It is about the words

Ever listen to George Bush's speeches, especially the words he has used since September 11, 2001? Did you pay attention to the sentences and phrases he used to describe terrorism and terrorists? Kinda' siimplistic? He makes everything a cowboy issue and policy and makes everything black and white. Strange for someone who isn't really a cowboy or even a Texan. Maybe in his own mind?

Anyway, maybe the President should actually listen to his own cabinet and read the document the Homeland Security Administration produces? In January 2008 the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties released an internal document, "Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations From American Muslims." The document is almost contradictory in its message and its intent.

The introduction starts,

"Words matter. The terminology that senior government officials use must accurately identify the nature of the challenges that face our generation. It is critical that all Americans properly understand the gravity of the threats we face, and prepare themselves to take the steps necessary to build a secure future. We are facing an enemy that holds a totalitarian ideology, and seeks to Impose that ideology through force across the globe. We must resist complacency. The language that senior government officials use can help to rally Americans to vigilance."

And then says,

"Starting from the premise that words do indeed matter: three foundational assumptions inform this paper:

(1) We should not demonize all Muslim or Islam;

(2) Because the terrorists themselves use theology and religious terms to justify both theirmeans and ends, the terms we use must be accurate and descriptive; and

(3) Our words should be strategic; we must be conscious of history, culture, and context In an era where a statement can cross continents in a manner of seconds, it is essential that officials consider how terms translate: and how they will resonate with a variety of audiences."

In conclusion it says,

"Words matter. The terminology the USG uses should convey the magnitude of the threat we face, but also avoid inflating the religious bases and glamorous appeal of the extremists' ideolog. Instead, USG terminology should depict the terrorists as the dangerous cult leaders they are. They have no honor, they have no dignity, and they offer no answers. While acknowledging that they have the capacity to destroy. we should constantly emphasize that they cannot build societies, and do not provide solutions to the problems people across the globe face.

"Where our reach is limited , we should strongly encourage Muslim writers, commentators and scholars to use terminology that will drive the debate in a positive direction. While the USG may not be able to effectively use terms like takfirism. others certainly can.

"Finally, we should view our words as bricks used to build a coalition. The USG should draw the conflict lines not between Islam and the West; but between a dangerous. cult-like network of terrorists and everyone who is in support of global security and progress."

Seems George could use some lessons in political rhetoric, or is it the goal to disguise what they really mean in what they actually say? Maybe even better the media should, as it easily could being experts in words and language, actually start challenging Bush and others who don't follow these guidelines? Or maybe that's their agenda too, to be part of government to sell us Bush's rhetoric?

And even when I hear Bush apologize for his own stupid cowboy rhetoric, he always prefaces it with "Maybe I shouldn't have said..." So, why didn't you plug your brain in, after all you're the President, before you opened your mouth?

Somehow he thinks being President means he doesn't have to follow his own administration? Where have we heard that before?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Catching up

I noticed from today's newspapers which I bought on the way home from the dentist, I have a few new thoughts, but mostly a bunch of older cutouts I haven't written about. So, I'll explore those a little. And the dentist? I had a cavity under a 17-year old filling, so I now have a temporary crown with a new one due in 3 weeks. The dentist's advice? Don't chew too much on my right side. Thanks. And the news?

TSA. You know those low paid, little trained Airport screeners? Well, they're getting badges almost identical to law enforcement badges. Except they have no authority and could easily be mistaken for actual police of some type. With all the stories about how easy it is to be a screener, TSA is giving them two-day training courses and a badge.

The idea is to improve the respect for screeners by giving them a false sense of importance and giving people a false sense of authority. It really is a WTF moment. And they won't be allowed to wear the badges outside of work. Gee, like some aren't going to do that? Give people a false sense of who they are, just an airport screener.

I agree with the cops on this one, it's dumb and stupid.

Did you know they're now telling us intelligence people found a laptop computer in 2006 with the complete engineering drawings and specifications to make a small nuclear bomb? A device (bomb) small enough to fit on a missile. And they suspect the files were given to "rogue" nations like Iran, North Korea, etc., as part of AQ Khan's work.

Now they tell us? Welcome to the nuclear terrorism age, on both sides, they now have the knowledge and we now have the fear they may succeed.

Did you know Homeland Security is now teaching employees how to write to avoid problems with words? Yup, in January they issued a memo (PDF) about the use of language. George Orwell is alive and well in HSA.

If a student wrote an essay about death or violent acts, would you report them? More and more Engish teachers, instructors and professors are reporting on students who write such types of stories or essays, even after they ask the student to expand their imagination into areas that we fear or write about or on such themes.

And now students are being labelled for such writing by simply exercising their imagination and talent. What would Stephen King be called or labelled now if he was caught writing his novels?

Have we gone too far in the name of fear and paranoia?

And now we have a goverment intentionally trying to decieve us to the point of making their own fears as ours when theirs are totally unfounded but can be used to sell votes? Who's failing, them for what they're doing or us falling for it?

Ok, pile of cutouts done, and I'm off for a nap.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday thoughts

It's Father's Day here in paradise and slowly spring is turning into summer, or at least showing signs of promise. But it is paradise and things can change as we're having a cooler and wetter than normal. Now if the Seattle Mariners, currently the worst team in baseball. Really, 24 wins and 44 loses, several games behind the second worst team. They had a lot of promise to be a contender for the division and it all went south early in the season.

We could go on and on, as any fan can, about their team, but it just doesn't make sense. All the good players and they play hard but... And that's it, it's not just bad luck, that only goes so far with blame, excuses and explanations. The players have to look at themselves and the team. Everyone has missed opportunities to win. Every pitcher blown games. Every player missed chances to drive in runs, especially the big players expected to do that.

But then if you're the worst team, things can't get worse? Well, forget that thought, they can and quickly too.

Oh well, such is baseball. And the news?

Want to be angry? Did you know at least $.50 and as much as $0.80-1.00 per gallon of the price of gas goes to commodity and future traders? These are people who buy and sell futures in oil prices. They never buy oil, nor sell it, but bet if the price will go up or down. They make money over the value of oil but not the oil itself.

And where are the regulators and Congress? It's called profiteering. They won't touch it because 80% of the futures' market is owned by big banks and hedge funds. Every time you buy gas, $.80-1.00 goes straight into someone's pocket which has nothing to do with oil, from the ground to your tank. Nothing.

We easily could have $3.00-$3.25 per gallon gas. It's that simple. Ban futures trading which is unregulated.

Onward about money. Remember it's all about money.

The three largest Internet service companies are considering, and likely will later this summer, starting charging for bandwidth. Your Internet usage. This includes Comcast, AT&T and Time-Warner. This sucks. It's the reality of the market today and the Internet, built and much of it paid for by the US government. And now the profiteers want their share.

It seems we're just adding to someone else's pocket and getting little in return?

The Department of Interior is planning to relax the rules for the oil companies exploring for oil in the artic with wildlife. They're playing a bait and switch with what they say with what they do. What?

The DOI is releasing new regulations which allow oil exploration companies to annoy, harm, even kill, polar bears, walruses, etc. who are bothering their operations. The Secretary of DOI is saying the the animals are protecting under the Marine Mammal Protection and Endangered Species Acts which outlaws such actions against those animals.

See, they're saying they're not doing what they're actually doing. They want to get the new rules in effect soon so the oil companies can have "greater freedom" to be safe with the exploration. Gee, I wonder how far the companies will go out of their way to find bears, walruses, etc to harrass, shoot and kill and then claim it was the animal's fault.

The problem is that polar bears are curious, especially toward human environments (see many examples of life in northern Canadian towns), and many human activies upset their home and raising cubs (sounds, vibrations, etc.). But the politically appointed Chief of the Fish and Wildlife Service says it's not a big deal. But then his agency is the one rewriting the rules too.

So who do you believe? The bears and walruses can't speak for themselves.

Are the prisoners in Gitmo really a threat? Depends on who's report you read. And it depends on when and where they were captured and what, when and where they are suspected of doing against the US. And it varys on the seriousness of them, if they were simply a threat or actually did anything.

But in the end the studies seem to settle around 8% for the number who were (now gone) or are (now) actual terrorists with Al Qaeda against the US, and most of them were low level soldiers. And now we're faced with the reality we can't send them home, their home country has declined to accept them. We created our own nightmare. They're not really terrorists and we've made them into terrorists no one wants.

We're certainly talented at being paranoid and making imaginary enemies into our own reality.

Oh well, such is the world on Father's Day. No better or worse than any year. Oh well, back to watching the Mariners lose again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday's Thoughts

Ok, today is actually better, if you live at Paradise in Mt. Rainier NP, but not in the lowland where it's still overcast with the sun trying hard to evaporate the clouds to appear, unfortunately with little success. And they're predicting showers with rain overnight to showers tomorrow. But some Websites for weather is predicting sunshine and mostly clear skies. Go figure.

Ok, I've read my normal Thursday newspapers and what did I glean from the articles?

Clinton. Hillary not Bill. Why are the Clinton supporters and workers reluctant to support and help Obama without something in return? I've read numerous columns and blogs says she should be the Vice President or Obama should promise concessions to them for policies, etc. Yes, it's politics but they're acting like sore losers in game won in the bottom of the 17th inning with two outs and a man on third when the batter hits a single into left field.

I'm not discounting what Hillary has done, but she shouldn't be the VP candidate just because. And her backers, supporters, workers shouldn't get defensive (like they'll take their marbles and go home). To them, get real. To Hillary, sorry you lost, but get on with your career and focus on the future. You still have a lot to give the country, the people, and yourself.

Onward. Did you know the Homeland Security Administration has said they can't make the 2012 deadline to screen all inbound cargo containers? Yup, they told Congress they could and Congress funded the effort. Now they're backtracking to say they really didn't promise but said it's a goal.

So much for actually being homeland security? Have they done anything productive or right yet?

Did you know $85 Million in donations of clothes, dry goods, etc. stored in warehouses to be distributed later is still in the warehouses? Yes, none of those donations have left the warehouse. So when did they plan to donate the items? They don't, and plan to turn it over to GSA to surplus.

So our donations are surplus? And they'll generate money for the government instead of Katrina victims.

This one I love. A British anti-terrorist left secret government documnents about Al Qaeda and Iraq were left on a commuter train. So, if you found secret documents, what would you do. Possessing them is a crime, but losing them isn't. Really. And doing anything with them if you found them is treason, but if the senior official who lost them leaked them instead, it's also not a crime. But selling them, either the founder or the official, to another government is treason.

Go figure.

Why is Bush still not ruling out an attack on Iran? I have a feeling he will attack Iran sometime this fall. He'll have to wait until about September to sell it, but sometime in October or November he'll pull the same routine we saw on TV when he told Saddham to leave Iraq, except he'll say we can't wait for Iran to send a nuclear bomb to Iraq or worse provide them to a terrorist group to bring into the US.

It's called marketing a war, and if anything the Bush administration is good at, almost the only thing they're good at, is selling war. Cheney is the best. But this time all of us are smarter to their bait and switch tactic with words into deeds. But Bush has nothing to lose and he can leave the mess to his successor to cleanup and tell the public it was a mistake, especially when Iran retaliates against our forces in Iraq and the Gulf.

If you thought the 8-year Iran-Iraq was messy, just wait to see what Iran can do. They're better armed with Russian equipment and technology along with the stuff they still have from the 1980's from the Shah. The body count would not be pretty and pale in comparison to the loses in Iraq. Stay tuned folks, and watch out when Bush talks.

Did you notice the price of things, although going up, don't seem to be going up more than you thought? That's because you're buying smaller quantities. Over the last 3-5 years companies have been slowly producing and selling smaller and smaller packages. A half gallon ice cream carton dropped to 1.75 quarts and now 1.5 quarts. And the price still went up.

And canned goods? They're simply adding less product and more water or syrup to take up the weight. And you thought you were buying and eating more? No, you were buying less and more of them to eat the same.

And this is especially true of the lowend and cheap foods. So, buying cheap isn't anymore. The price may not change much but the contents are.

I'm done for this week. I've said more this week than I have in months, so I'll shut up for the weekend. I've got lots to do.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wednesday Thoughts

As you can see in today's image from the Webcam at Paradise, it's more of the same today. While the east coast swelters in heat, we're barely getting 60 degrees with overcast skies. Not partly cloudy with chances of sun, but solid overcast, except the infrequent glimpses of sunshine through the clouds. Nary a shadow in sight.

And why the news three days in a row?

Well, I'm beginning to like USA Today. They've really hammered Bush over the last few years or so over Iraq, Katrina, and other failures of his administration, and Cheney over the total secrecy and absolute power of his office. Today they ran an AP article by Martin Crutsinger about Treasury Secretary Paulson.

It seems Mr. Paulson plans a policy and discussion soon of "robust engagement" with China over economic issues and their economic policies. Except we've been the biggest softies with China because they hold so much of our national debt and have a huge surplus with us in the trade balance. We keep whining about China's lack of interest to float their currency against the market by holding it artificially low to help the value against the US dollar.

But we've been whining for seven plus years now under cowboy Bush with nothing to show except more red ink and more Treasury notes held by China. While corporations are begging to get into the Chinese market for products and service besides getting cheap labor for the production costs for stuff sold in the US, the Bush administration has been playing a game of words with nothing to show for it except looking and feeling stupid.

And now we want to talk tough? Like they care? Or even will do anything?

Why is Bush pushing for an agreement with the Iraqi government over the US presence and support for the next decade? Gee, does it have to do with the UN mandate that ends December 31, 2008, after which we're expected to withdraw or get a new mandate, which isn't likely? As of January 1, 2009 we will officially be an occupying force in Iraq.

And Bush wants to tie the hands of the next President to work with the Iraqi government?

Bush contends nothing in the agreement is permanent, like the current 60 bases, 150,000 troops, and $10-12 Billion per month being spent? So, why not release the language in the agreement so we can see? Or at least submit it to the Senate which is required for treaties?

No? He calls it something other than a treaty requiring Senate review and confirmation. I wonder why?

Me thinks he's planning a midnight escape from Iraq, meaning dumping the whole mess with a new agreement on the next President so he can say he did his best. He actually thinks history will think he did the right thing and was a good war president. Ok, something about west Texas that gets into the minds of people? Or maybe all those drugs he took in college is having their effect with dellusions of grandeur?

Whew. He's a wonder in his own mind.

Well, that's the news from today's newspapers. I'll catch you later.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday Thoughts

Ok, two days in a row this week. Well, Tuesday is appointment and errand day around the area, so I buy a few newspaper, get a cup of coffee, make lunch and read with scissors. And it's another late spring rainy day here in paradise. We even had snow in the passes and the photo is at Paradise Inn in Mt. Rainier NP, inside a cloud. Not a bright, sunny day there.

Ok, the news which couldn't wait?

Why is the Bush administration is making a lot of noise and flak about Iran's nuclear power and potentially bomb program? Ok, we all understand that to some degree. But then why is the same Bush administration quietly selling the same nuclear power and potentially bomb technology to Saudi Arabia?

This is referred to in an op-ed piece by Representative Markey (D-Mass.) in today Wall Street Journal. And he points out, we provided some of the same nuclear technology to Iran to the former Shah of Iran's government until it was overthrown in 1979. We seem to help build our own enemies. We gave Iran the interest and incentive to further develop their own nuclear program which is now sponsored by Russia, and dare we say it, some US corporations too.

And now beside selling Saudi Arabia our latest military technology in terms of aircraft, tanks, weapons, missles, etc., we're prepared to sell them nuclear technology. Not just material for a program but the technology and equipment. And this is how we build peace in the Middle East, by arming Isreal and Saudi Arabia, but deny Iran, Iraq, Syria and Jordan the same?

Onward. When is going backward going forward?

Apparently all those Senators just can't agree on the new surveillence bill so they're set to let the current one expire and go back to the "old" days of FISA and reality. And the surveillence advocates are crying foul and we're going backward. Well, maybe it's time to test the old rules again. They worked for nearly 30 years until Bush, etal decided they didn't work or simply ignored them, illegally I might add.

Simply put we should keep surveillence under judicial oversight with Congressional overview. Let's protect our civil rights and liberties and our right to privacy from intrusive government intervention and surveillence in our lives. I'm for doing nothing, which is a step forward by going backward. It's not going backward in the sense the critics cites. That's bullshit as we're protected and government has rules to follow.

After all, no one has yet proven the new laws actually worked for finding and catching terrorists, but was used for all sorts of other criminal activities, by the FBI's own admission last year. And we don't need to give any telecommunications company immunity, past, present and future. They should be held liable for violating our privacy and the law, and be open to lawsuits by anyone.

So, that's it for today. Enuf rants and vents at the world. I'm off for more trips around paradise. I'll see you later in the week. Or not, if summer decides to peek through the spring a day or so, especially, maybe the weekend. Ok, we can hope.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday Thoughts

It's Monday here in paradise, where we're expecting cool weather with rain. Ok, it's June in paradise, meaning normal. We don't get summer until the week after July 4th, and it's usually fades after Labor Day, sometimes quickly and sometimes we get lucky with an indian summer. But that's ahead of us. June is usually cool with chances of cloudy and rainy days, but we also get really nice partly cloudy days with warm (70's) temperatures too, so it's always a wake up hope it's the latter.

Ok, the news.

Hillary Clinton. Well, she really didn't concede, only saying she's "suspending" her campaign. She can't give Obama the right to say the majority of democrats voted him their candidate for President, not her. She should know better but then I didn't expect it from her either. She's a tough fighter, and few of them are nice in defeat. And all the speeches she makes about or with Obama and all the speeches urging her supporters to support Obama won't change this concession speech.

And in spite of the pundits I don't want to see her as Vice President. She would make, in my view, a better Secretary of State or a Senator. She's not VP material to support the President's agenda and policies. She likes to be in control, and the other roles are far better for her.

Did you read the article that two Harvard professor-psychiatrist who have been selling the role of drugs in children for several conditions have been receiving money from the drug companies for those very same conditions. And not a little money, $1.6 million for one and $1.0 million for the other (2000-2007). And they never reported this income to the university or the medical community. They hide their affliation to the drug companies to support their products.

This isn't new but is for Harvard and for that kind of money as professors teaching and practicing childrens' healthcare and overseeing drug trials. And no one has said they violated any ethic policies or rules too.

Maybe the drug companies can give us money to use the drug(s) as a trial?

Along that same vein. A VA doctor has been advocating her department staff at a Texas VA hospital stop diagnosing PTSD because it's costing the military too much. That's because veterans who aren't fully diagnosed with severe PTSD aren't entitled to any monetary benefits, only those who are severe or worse get disability payments for the condition.

And we thought the veterans and soldiers back from Iraq and Afghanistan were getting the best care? Not. Too many stories have been in the news from healthcare, denial of benefits and care after discharge, and hospital conditions.

Why did it take nearly 7 years to bring five terrorists to trial for 9/11? And the one "master mind" is known to exaggerate his role in everything he has done in the past. Even the CIA doesn't fully trust him or the information he has given them. He wants to be a martyr and we want a villian, and I'm betting we'll oblige him, even if it recruits more terrorists.

But somehow I'd rather see the trials in a civilian court than a military tribunal so everyone,in the US and the world can see our system of justice works. I'm betting they'll be convicted and sentenced to death. The trial is a simply a publicity front and it took them the whole time to accumulate a lot of secret but circumstantial evidence, just enough except we can't actually see the evidence, to convict them in front of a panel of officers.

Understand I'm not on their side by any measure. I would just like to see an open trial so showcase our justice than a secret one few will ever know the truth and always raise the issue if it wasn't really intended to be a trial but a means to an end.

Did you hear the former Secretary of Health and Human Services company got a $11 million contract from the same agency? It's a contract to assess and counsel 9/11 victims, the same victims the agency was supposed to be doing with its own money and staff. But they suddenly decided to contract the work, and it was just so convenient to use the no-bid rules to hire this company as they had the experience to take over the agency's work.

Hmmm...., me thinks something is Monday morning fish.

Did you know the world is running out of guano? That's bird poop, essential in fertilizer. The global companies have already decimated many island nations, after all we started mining guano since the early 1800's, and now they're focused on Peru's wayward islands. Peru estimates they have 10-20 years of guano left on the islands to harvest, before the companies move on, except they're running out of islands and on-shore areas.

This one is cute. Ok, not cute, but scientific. Did you know how you vote may be in your genes? Or at least the intention or need to vote, even when the outcome is known or obvious. It's one of those statistical correlations scientist make with the data. But it is interesting.

Why is Karl Rove still around?

Did you know that fewer housing complaints are being decided let alone settled? In 1999 it was an even split between the number of complaints dismissed and the number settled. In 2008 it's 70% dismissed and 30% settled. This wasn't a slow change either, but a sharp drop to the numbers in 2001, timely huh?, and steady from 2002-2008.

Gee, why is this not news but really news? Our government at work, but not for the people, again.

Ok, enough for a Monday. Some good thoughts?

For me, July 1st. It's the day Washington State only allows hands-free cellphones while driving. I hate cellphone and cellphone drivers (yes, I have one too). And now I can honk at other drivers to get off their cellphone if I see them holding one to their ear. Yippee...

How about a photo blog? If you think your life is bad, read and see Andrea Bruce's Unseen Iraq blog.

Parting jesture? This photo is one of my favorites. The simplicity of an image tells a whole story, and the color brings it alive. What else do you need to know?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mid-week Thoughts

It's Wednesday, back from my every four month dental cleaning. Except this time I go back in two weeks for a cap/crown, depending on how much of the tooth needs to be removed. They found a small vertical cavity underneath a 17 year old ceramic filling. And for just $1,200.00 I get a new tooth.

A bit much to some? Well I've been going to this dentist now for 20 years. He saved my teeth and gums then and has saved a number of other teeth from requiring root canal or worse. I have good teeth and roots, thanks Mom, all 24 which are still in my mouth. I had 4 front teeth pulled when I was 12 to make room for new teeth and 4 wisdom teeth cut (gum), split, and pulled when I was 20. I never went back to dentist for another 15+ years and had to pay the price.

But I expect to keep all 24 teeth I still having, barring an accident or someone deciding I need facial cosmetic with some large blunt object. I have very long and deep rooted teeth. X-rays show the tips of the upper teeth in the sinus cavities. And the lower teeth hit the jaw bone.

Ok enought of the mouthy stuff. The news please, or the news fit to write about.

This one is interesting. Rear Admiral Mark Buzby, former head at Guantanano (Gitmo) wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal stating we should be proud of the prison conditions at Gitmo, now at least. I agree, it's a model prison with state of the art health care and prisoner services along with state of the art security. He should be rewarded for this and his honesty.

But he forgets one fundamental fact. Most, meaning 80+%, of the prisoners there shouldn't be there in the first place. We don't need Gitmo for what it is and what has happened there. The prisoners there have no rights, have never been charged with any crimes, rarely have access to legal representation, and in the end, have no expectation of ever leaving unless the goverment of their home country asks the President.

Adm. Buzby doesn't address this issue at all, but only they're well cared for. The point is, all those prisoners should either be freed or turned over to the Justice Department for trial on terrorism charges. And as history has shown, very few of them are terrorists and fewer have been convicted. And while we've been developing military tribunals, they've proven to be illegal at best and unconstitutional at worst.

After five years the prisoners have reached breaking point, some have committed suicide, some turned violent and some just become immune to their plight. Can anyone blame them? Most are incidental soldiers, normally sent home after a short stay, some are innocent bystanders in the wrong place and at the wrong time, and some weren't even in the battlefield or even the country when captured.

And I watch a news story recently people are vacationing at Gitmo now? Maybe it's time to free the prisoners and offer vacation getways to American wanting to have that terrorist prisoner experience. Except flights to Cuba are banned, except military and CIA flights of course.

More on terrorism?

How about this article? Interesting perspective on public or street photography and photographers. We're not the enemy or terrorists, just, as said to me once by a Washington State Patrol office, "stupid professional photographer(s)."

How many times do we have to say, photography is not illegal in public places? And photography is not terrorism? If a tourist or family member is ok to be a photographer anywhere they think it's legal, why not us?

Ok, politics?

How many times does the press report off-hand comments by politicians and then they or the person excuses it as a mistake? It's not a mistake.It's called unconscious thoughts spoken aloud. And our VP Cheney did just that equating West Virginians to family history of inbreeding. Yes, folks he really meant it.

Legal immigration and visitors. Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff announced that anyone travelling to the US from a country that doesn't require a visa to enter the US will have to register 3 days in advance. That's 27 countries and millions of people. If HSA and the FBI can't get the No-Fly Watch List right, do we really think they'll get this right?

Our government at work, the Laurel and Hardy does travel and immigration security episode.

Ok, I haven't mentioned the Texas LDS child protection case. I've been watching and reading. But I will now. The Texas State Surpreme Court seems to have lost their common sense. What don't they see it's not about the few where the evidence of child sexual abuse is obvious, but as many have said, it's the prevasive pattern of family practices within the whole community.

The LDS families simply flooded and overloaded the system with denial, nonparticipation and other means to thwart the truth of their practice of non-family values and child sexual abuse. The Texas Supreme Court sent the message to any religious zealot who wants to start a similar church free from the laws you and I have to follow, come to Texas and we'll protect you and your immoral lifestyle.

Texas is the home where multiple wives is legal if you're a church or religion. So where are the family values people now? You know, those ones who espouse monogymous marriages and family values?

Keeping on Texas. Did you know Chairman of the Texas Board of Education is a creationist? Not just a creationist, but a strict, fundamental Christian who wants to see religion taught in schools and evolution dismissed from science programs? Yup, he's now pushing teaching "strengths and weaknesses" in evolution, which is a way of pushing evolution into a pseudo-science by showing it doesn't completely and neatly describe the planet's and man's development as the Bible does.

The problem, as the New York Times article pointed out is that all of the arugments used by his organization to downplay evolution are decades old and all have been refuted with newer discoveries in biology and geology. But they persist in repeating the same old bullshit.

Well, I'm glad I don't live in Texas, and Texas ain't paradise. Maybe to some, like relgious zealots of any and all flavors, but not me.

Parting jesture? I found a photo I printed and keep on my door. It's one by John Orr of a wall in Bosnia. And they say a photograph is worth a lot of words.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Not for the lack of news

Ok, the holiday is over and summer is officially here. Not by the seasons, but by the calendar. And here in paradise it's still spring with cool, overcast weather in the morning warming to partly cloudy and sunny afternoons and evening into the cool night where the clouds roll back in from the ocean, and it's been throughout the week too. Summer hasn't arrived yet, but then we don't really get summer until after July 4th.

Ok, onward to the news.

What appears good is really bad? Beside George Bush? How about his decisions?

The White House has put a deadline on any new proposed regulations, June 1st, and any afterward will require exemptions from the White House to be issue, rewiewed and approved. This sounds good as they can't do more harm to government, us or the environment in the name of corporations or their friends. But they've already done most of their damage.

This deadline is so they have an excuse not to do anything for anyone anymore. With six-plus months left, they don't want to be obligated to act on a long list of requests for regulations changes, many, or most, of which are actually beneficial. They've been delaying requested changes as "under review" for 7-plus years now, and this allows them to ignore them and pass them to the next President.

Talk about a lame duck President, we now have a lame duck government too.

While we're on the topic of govenment. The US is the world's largest producer of cluster munitions, mostly known as cluster bombs, the ones we gave Isreal when they used in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006. And so we won't sign the new cluster munitions treaty ban on these weapons being adopted by 111 other nations. We even asked Britain not to sign it but they've designed to sign it.

So, we'll be one of the few nations that actually believes in these weapons which have injured far more innocent civilians than their target enemy. Yes, we're not for human rights after all.

It's only three years late, but the White House released the Climate Change Report, as much as they kept delaying it's release and hoped not to have to. Except the courts said the law is the law and demanded they release it, only three years late. And it's written in the vague style the White House is noted for, using "likely" and similar ambiguous words scientists have long since proven with certainty.

Let's hope the next President is less ambiguous. But I'm not holding my breath either.

This one really sucks. A small number of Palestinians with Fullbright scholars live in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Isreal. Well, the State Department has revoked their scholarship because Isreal can't grant them an exit visa in time to attend the college in the US. Here we have some very bright students and we're denying them an opportunity for the sake of international politics.

So what does that say about our view of human rights?

Ok, I wrote the above late in the week and this is Sunday. The flu intervened, but I'm kinda' back enough to think out loud some more.

I hear ya', "Damn, doesn't he ever shut up?" No. This is my blog, if you want to comment, feel free if you have an account on Blogger. Sorry, I don't allow anonymous or non-Blogger users. If you have an opinion, then stand behind it. Or else, you're the voice in crowd no one knows, and I don't want to hear shouting for the sake of shouting. Stand up and stand behind your opinions.

Ok, onward.

I like what Scott McClellan said about the war in Iraq. "It was a war of choice." That's a good explanation of the runup to the war, and all the lying. They weren't lying to us so much as to themselves to believe it wasn't a choice. It was and it's a wonder they don't take responsibility for their action.

Why? Because Robert Kennedy did in 1968 when he ran for President. He voted for the Vietnam war and funding, and then changed his mind. He admited it was his mistake to support the war. It wasn't a political statement but a personal statement by him. And it's why the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfelt's, etal are cowards to stand behind a lie as a reality.

I also like what Maureen Dowd wrote today (Sunday), when she said that Bush, etal mistook clarity of thought and expression for the truth and reality. They kept changing the reason for the war because that reason was clear to them. But through all the reasons, they never understood the reasons were and his was always wrong.

Completing believing in your decision and thinking it as the clear truth isn't certainty for the being right. You can be thoroughly convinced of your views and still be completely and thoroughly wrong. And Bush has proven it with Iraq over and over again. They've never been right except in their falsehoods about themselves. That's the one thing they got right, being so wrong.

This one I like. John McCain. The supposedly staunch advocate against lobbyists and Political Action Committees (PAC's) in politics and campaign. It turns outs he has had quite a few lobbyists on his staff, both as advisors and doers. And it turns out he's used PAC to do the attack ads he complains about.

When it was discovered that he lobbied for EADS to get the contract with the USAF for the new air refuelers instead of Boeing, he refused to say he did and then Citizenss Against Government Waste (CAGW) started putting out ads defending the contract, attacking its critics and subversely supporting McCain. Except that his staff has contacts with CAGW, meaning it's wasn't a nonpartisan interest CAGW was expressing. And CAGW has made several contributions to McCain's campaign.

And McCain? He maintains an independence from the whole matter, but sorry, the dots are there Mr. McCain. The very advocate against something can't use for their own gain and still be above it. True, it's the nature of politics, but to say your neutral and shown you're not, you can't dance around it or away from it.

You're on the dance floor when the music was playing.

Ok, that's it for last week and weekend. The snow is melting and the trails are opening, so it's he semi-official opening of summer here in paradise, so I'm not sure how often I'll post here through the summer, but I'll work only at least monthly rants and vents against the political tide.