Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Zero Dollar Bill, Y'All

Quite late last night as I sat listening to CNBC, a Money Show came on, and some Money Mongers were sitting at a big expensive table explaining the foibles of not passing this bill, and a fat-faced jerkoff Money Monger Man said that the simple fact is, the American people do not understand, and that is why they disapprove. But, not only do the American people not understand how the world of finance works, neither does Congress, and those lawmakers are waddling around making Very Bad Choices for this country, while they, the Money Mongers sitting at the table, KNOW what is right for this country and are watching the CongressJerks make a huge mistake for All of America!

And they talked as though it hurt them badly to have to say this, as they wiggled in their fancy chairs in front of the cameras in all their omniscience. And I thought: You a**holes want me to trust you, still, to call the shots for this nation, financially, when you f^(%ed up some badly in the first place? You and the CongressJerks both can just simmer down and let this thing go. Let the markets crash all over the place, and THEN maybe we can pick up the pieces. But I don't trust the Money Mongers any more than I trust the CongressJerks.

And where has this man been: "President pushes for bailout:
Failure to move now will inflict 'painful and lasting damage' to the economy, he warns" (Yahoo! Home Page today)- aside from Far Removed from Reality as Usual?

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Indubitably an American in Every Pulse-Beat"

HL Mencken said that about Carl Sandburg. That's not indubitably "un-American," like this politically charged crap going on over the 'bail-out bill.'

It's fall; colors are peaking here, and yesterday the FFM and I traveled farther than we'd expected, a loop that took us into northern Colorado, through the Rawah Wilderness and Cameron Pass and back home via Walden. Autumn is as good a time as any to read Carl Sandburg's poems, especially when a person grows weary of hearing media and political representatives talk about the miserable mistake Congress made in not passing that bill today, that we're not rescuing Wall Street fat cats, but small businesses that need to make payroll and regular people who want to get loans, if it passes.
People, this is going to sound harsh, but let's face it: We take a risk when we invest in stocks, in IRAs; when we take out a loan to buy a house or a car, assuming we'll keep our jobs so we can pay them back. And somebody else always makes money off us. The woman who called Talk of the Nation today and said that there are those who can and those who cannot, and she happens to be one who cannot, is someone who cannot get a loan; she's living from paycheck to paycheck, and she would pretty much like to know why any of those people who don't give her the time of day would expect her to want to give them her tax dollars.

Look, I know it's not as simple as that, but let's get really honest here: if we let the government bail "us all" out this time, we are going to be beholden for a very long time and on many occasions in the future, and as one Congressman I was happy to hear finally said, he would not let his children and grandchildren take on our present problem in the form of financial debt for which they are not responsible... I will say no more...except

Carl Sandburg. A poem, from Cornhuskers (1918):

"Autumn Movement"
I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper
sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes,
new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the north-
west wind, and the old things go, not one lasts.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Robin Hood in Lisbon

I love Lisbon.

"Stealing from the Rich" from Above, on Vimeo, at fatcap.com:


Friday, September 26, 2008

I So Want This Technology!

I wish I could afford it:

The Palin-Putin Foreign Policy Hotline: The phone used by Governor Sarah Palin to conduct her extensive foreign relations with Russian President Vladamir Putin
$976,000,000.00 on Buy My Shitpile, Henry!


(Compliments of my equally blonde and intelligent- you heard me, buddy!- VP candidate (if she has time), Nickie Sekera)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Press to Speak to Attendant"

Yesterday I was at Albertson's putting gas in Verdi so I could drive to Cheyenne and back for Wicked Pony Book Club. As I stood there with the nozzle in my hand, waiting the very short time it takes anymore for $10 of gas to enter the tank, I noticed a little green button on the pump with a sign next to it that said, "Press to speak to attendant."

Suddenly, I wanted to push the button and just say, "Hi. How are you today? I hope you have a good evening." Because it was a gorgeous late afternoon, and I was sick of listening to the politicians in Washington yiping about the Evil Economic Crisis that has beset us all. And who knows how much money that attendant makes? And I'm pretty lucky to have a job, however temporary, in which I am paid as much as I am right now, while people are calling in to talk radio and television worried about how they can make ends meet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cable TV

I'm a Real American! Yesterday I got hooked up with cable TV again. Well, perhaps I am not a "real" Real American, as I only have Basic Cable, and I spent this morning listening to C-Span. But I'm getting close.

On Washington Journal, it was glaringly apparent that the American Public is not at all interested in bailing out Wall Street on this whole financial disaster that the money makers have going. And after that, Members of the House cried foul, too, and demanded that Main Street not bail out Wall Street.

First, would people please quit using that cliche? I, for one, do not live on Main Street. In fact, think of it: most regular Americans don't live on Main Street. Main Street is a place of business, and while I am not naive enough to not get it that small businesses are left out of the equation here as far as getting a handout, the term "Main Street" is now sickeningly old and, well, simply cliche.

Next, and this may be a moot point by now, since the topic came to mind yesterday afternoon, and since then all manner of putting feet down seems to have broke loose, when a person needs food stamps, that person is limited in how much he or she and the attendant family is allowed. And there is a limit on how long that assistance will be provided. When a person loses his or her job and draws unemployment compensation, there is a limit on how much is allowed, in both time and financial terms. So, how does it figure that when these big financial companies are on the verge of being offered the chance at billions of taxpayer dollars in assistance, it is stressed that the chief executives must not be told they will have limits placed on their own compensation because that may cause these people to choose not to "participate?" If you can "choose" to participate or not, then do you really need the help? And why don't you just walk away if you don't like the help the people are offering?

Something a caller brought up during the open phone session on Washington Journal this morning that I think is an excellent point: Why do cable companies put C-Span and C-Span 2 in their bundles of pay cable networks? Why can the American people not watch their government in action for free? Granted, most would not. Plenty of my friends rolled their eyes when I told them I was getting cable again for the winter so I could C-Span every morning before work. But should that option not be available? The caller suggested we all call or write our cable companies.

Finally, the FFM and I went to the Denver Zoo on Sunday. Some of the animals do not have enough room there, like the bears. And the gorillas should be allowed more time outside than they apparently are permitted. However, there are some great birds there, and I became enamoured particularly of the cinereous vulture, which I think deserves a photo opp.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In

While we're paying attention to other stuff (even Sarah Palin couldn't see this from her kitchen window):

Russian Warships Sail to Venezuela
Published: September 22, 2008
MOSCOW — A squadron from the Russian Navy’s North Sea Fleet sailed for Venezuela on Monday, a Russian Navy spokesman said, in a bid by Russia to bolster military links in Latin America as relations with the United States continue to deteriorate.

The convoy — including the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser Peter the Great and the anti-submarine ship Admiral Chabanenko — left the fleet’s base in Severomorsk bound for the Venezuelan coast, where the ships will take part in joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan Navy sometime in November, said Igor Dygalo, a Russian Navy spokesman.

Stung by the West’s strong condemnation of Russia’s actions in last month’s war with Georgia, Moscow appears to have redoubled its efforts to strengthen ties with Venezuela, Cuba and other Latin American countries, in moves reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s proxy battles with the United States in the region during the Cold War.

Last week, two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers flew to Venezuela for exercises over the Caribbean Sea, and a Russian delegation led by Igor I. Sechin, a deputy prime minister and chairman of the Russian oil company Rosneft, visited Caracas and Havana for talks on expanding economic ties. It was Mr. Sechin’s second visit to the region in less than two months.

The decision to deploy Russian warships so close to the American coastline could also be linked to the Kremlin’s frustration over the presence of NATO and American naval vessels in the Black Sea, a region Moscow considers its sphere of influence. Earlier this month, an American naval ship delivered humanitarian aid to Georgia in one of the country’s Black Sea ports.

Russia has denied that the war in Georgia had any connection to the Russian navy’s planned exercises with Venezuela. “These exercises were planned long before the Georgian-Ossetian conflict,” Mr. Dygalo said. “They are not linked to the conflict.”

Meanwhile, Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s president, plans to visit Russia this week, his second visit in two months.

In an interview broadcast by Russia’s Vesti 24 television on Saturday, Mr. Chávez said Latin America was freeing itself from the “imperial” influence from the United States and needed Russia’s friendship.

“Not only Venezuela, but all of Latin America needs friends like Russia,” Mr. Chavez said. “For economic development, for the support of all Latin America, for the lives of the people of our continent.”

Everybody needs friends the color of Hugo:

from Russia Today
September 16, 2008, 16:21
Chavez painting fetches big cash
A painting by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has sold for US$ 255,000 in an auction to raise funds for his political party. 'The Yare Moon' was painted by the flamboyant socialist politician while he was imprisoned in Yare Prison for an attempted coup in the early 1990s.

Three Venezuelan businessmen joined forces to outbid a rival for the piece, which a presidential spokesman said had "symbolic value for the President and for the Bolivarian revolution".

The sale marks the theatrical president's first serious foray into painting, but he's no stranger to art.Chavez likes to open public appearances and political rallies with a few verses of traditional Venezuelan folk song, usually wearing his crowd-pleasing yellow, blue and red jumpsuit.

Last year he released a CD of folk music that featured him singing, and distributed it for free all over the country.

Every week millions tune into 'Alo Presidente', the President's weekly one-man television show.

If they're lucky, viewers might be treated to an interview with a charismatic personality, like his friend Fidel Castro. On the other hand, they might be subjected to an eight-hour speech by El Presidente, like in one episode last year. At the end of the marathon the government press secretary proudly declared the show had set a new record.

Chavez has even set his creative mind to developing new technology. The socialist leader has announced plans for a 'Chávez PC', which would be produced cheaply and sold to schoolchildren from poor families.

Pet Pony

OK, I know this is preaching to the choir; or I suspect it mostly is. So, here you go: PLEASE go out and take the message to the masses. Don't expect it to sink in, but remember, Jesus himself and his disciples, knowing their radicalism held at least a tinge of Truth, took a lot of crap and probably rolled their eyes and smacked their fists against their heads more than a few times when they came up against the brick walls of self-imposed ignorance.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hiatus Take Two

Well, peeps, Scutabaga is off to Texas again for more help. Does anyone on earth actually like Vista? What a bunch of crap. Bill Gates can run around touting his philanthropic work, but that's all a load of distraction from the fact he's created an Evil Electronic Empire.

I'll be back when Scutabaga gets home.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Fixx - Deeper and Deeper (Longer version)

Fixxy goodness indeed, Uncy. And serious doozh. A reason for the 80s.

Monday, September 15, 2008

No Child Left Learned

You can go anywhere and read about Sarah Palin, you poor things. And Lehman Brothers, though I will say one thing before moving on to Important Stuff that gets shoved to the bottom of the media pile: YES! Let them all burn in their self-made hell. And may the hellfires that surround them be made of money.

On to Education, a subject you know is near and dear to my battle-scarred veteran educator's heart. This morning I heard on the radio that one-third of our nation's college students are not prepared for college when they enter, and have to take remedial courses. But, hey, the other 2 out of 3 are ready, whatever that actually means. Really, think of it: All these people are accepted; what kind of gap does this suggest in the application and enrollment process in the first place?

From The San Francisco Chronicle:
Study: Remedial college classes cost billions
Justin Pope, Associated Press
Monday, September 15, 2008

It's a tough lesson for millions of students just now arriving on campus: Even if you have a high school diploma, you may not be ready for college.

In fact, a new study calculates, one-third of American college students have to enroll in remedial classes. The bill to colleges and taxpayers for trying to bring them up to speed on material they were supposed to learn in high school comes to between $2.3 billion and $2.9 billion annually...

...Analyzing federal data, the report estimates 43 percent of community college students require remedial classes, as do 29 percent of students at public four-year universities, with higher numbers in some places. For instance, 4 in 5 Oklahoma community college students need remedial coursework, and 3 in 5 in the giant California State University system need help in English, math or both.

The cost per student runs to as much as $2,000 per student in community colleges and $2,500 in four-year universities.

It's true that only recently have K-12 and higher education begun talking seriously about aligning standards. But (former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, chair of the group Strong American Schools), who has also headed the Los Angeles Unified School District, doesn't buy that it's a communication problem.

"We're not expecting enough of our youngsters and the institutions that train them," he said.

Really? But don't ask me; remember my certifications lapsed, and despite the fact that in the meantime I had been teaching college level courses at both a community college and a four-year public university, I am no longer qualified to teach our high school students.

However, there is good news:

No Child Left Inside Act of 2008 - H.R.3036
The House is also scheduled to vote on this bill intended to get more children to participate in outdoor activities.

This could mean that computer screens will be improved so that people can actually see what's in front of them outside in the daylight? Hooray!

(Photo credit: fast4ward_eelieyz @ http://photobucket.com/images/study/?page=14)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hoarding Regulations in America(?)

This morning I woke to an e-mail from my oldest friend in the world, Sam, entitled, "Hoarding Regulations in America(?)" She had attached some links to the subject of whether or not the government, fed or state, can take our personal stored food, and how much we can legally store in the first place. Interesting subject.

My first thought was, "Obscure law or conspiracy theory?" It seems there is a little bit of both going on.

If you go here: http://www.millennium-ark.net/News_Files/Exec.Orders/EOs.html, you can read about executive orders and a bit of the history surrounding the particular EOs that point to regulation of hoarding and fears of having our stores taken by the government. Here is my response, after reading this little piece, to Sam:

"As the author specifies in bold type, 11051--Provides FEMA complete authorization to put above orders into effect in times of increased international tension of economic or financial crisis. (FEMA will be in control in case of 'National Emergency').

"I believe there is a typo here and that this should read "international tension or economic or financial crisis." The original EO was instituted by FDR in 1939, during the Depression, which was worldwide in scope at that moment. During this time was also the rise of Hitler and the advent of WWII. Both were the case, international tensions and economic crisis, in fact, the economic crisis on a global scale (at least among the industrialized countries, which was instrumental in the war coming so quickly on the heels of WWI, and at all.)

"Now, here is where confusion and panic is allowed to arise, in the manner of conspiracy theory: Later on in the same passage, the author notes that... Who will determine how much food we can have in our house? FEMA. And the amount depends on the needs of all...not your needs or my needs...but the "welfare" of the needy.

"This statement is inaccurate. I mean it is inaccurate in the sense that nowhere do I see how an emergency such as attack by outside forces instigated by international tensions, or financial crash within the country can be or has been reduced, by Executive Order or otherwise, to mean 'welfare of the needy' in the sense that it is portrayed in this second boldface statement. 'Welfare of the needy,' when we are discussing the EOs, or the single EO under which Clinton, for reasons which elude me but that I will certainly research, out of historical and political curiosity, placed those EOs released by FDR, as far as I can glean from the language of the orders would refer to the fact that in such dire times, the entire nation's citizenry would be deemed "needy" to a higher degree than normal, because of a military or financial threat to everyone.

"So, what is implied in the author's statement, that the President could allow FEMA to come take your canned goods away from your cellar to feed someone else, is misleading. The orders, and the order as compiled into one, specify the seizure of people's goods for the purpose of ensuring that everyone has food, medical supplies, water, whatever... during a time of crisis- like rationing during wartime, except that we have to give our stuff up to the common pile. That is the reference of all this business.

"Now, I think it is still within our own individual power to decide whether or not we would 'hoard' our food and hide it so no one else could have it. Crap, I've read those apocalypse books, seen the movies, and I figure, being an anarchist, better to take responsibility upon myself to throw what I have into the pile and then help distribute it, than to be eaten by starving creeps or zombies down the road."

If my interpretation thus far is incorrect, someone let me know, because Sam shared my reply with a lot of people, and I ought to stand corrected if I am wrong.

On further investigation, it appears that Clinton's placement of all those EOs released in 1939 under one EO in 1994 was in direct response to threat of proliferation of WMD. So it says right in the order. What I cannot find, despite several bloggers out there claiming this, evidence that there is carte blanche executive authority to define the national emergency that would give FEMA the go ahead to come knocking at our doors and take away our Rice Krispies. In fact, the panel convened explicitly noted the extension of a National State of Emergency "as defined under United States Code, Title 50" as a resulting point of Clinton's order, and Clinton specifies laws within that code in EO #12919.

For those of you who are still worried, because essentially Clinton's EO gives FEMA, of all previously-proven-to-be-dangerously-ineffective agencies, the power to take control of you and your stuff in whatever time is deemed a National State of Emergency, or because the Bush Administration has lied to the people, and King George himself has time and again taken extreme liberties with his position, I am here to allay your fears! Don't forget that in just a matter of a few months, he will be gone, first of all. And FEMA has been transformed, too, remember? After Katrina? And there is hope for the future:

Peepscapes, John McCain could very well be elected our next President. And he is not getting any younger. Sarah Palin could become, by default, President of the United States of America. And then you'll have a mommy to take care of you and tell you what to do.

But, before I go to work, the best thing about all this? Title 50 of the United States Code, which outlines the role of war and national defense for this country once contained a chapter devoted entirely to Interference with Homing Pigeons Owned by the United States. Of course, it was repealed in 1948.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

To My Sisters

OK, so September 11, 2001, was a Bad Day, a Really Bad Day, for Americans. So, on a scale of 1-10, with that being an 11, the last couple days for me have only been, say, a 5 or so. But on a personal scale, way higher.

Monday was pretty OK, despite that I walked into steel staging with my forehead sometime in the mid-morning and still have the proof, and had to walk my bike home because of a flat tire. I started ninja school- a Bujinkan Budo Taijitsu dojo- that evening at the park, and it was a beautiful calm evening, chilly, and with a half moon and plenty of stars overhead- very good, like an 8.

Tuesday didn't start off so well. The flat bike tire needs major surgery, and I just didn't take that very well. And then, you know, sometimes it isn't anything in particular that goes awry, but something inside you just does. I can't speak for the rest of the planet, or the country, but at least for myself and quite a few other people. Something just disconnects; I lose track of time, I forget how cool I really am, I can't talk to the people around me coherently, if at all. This happens with decreasing frequency lately, for reasons with which I will not bore readers , and which some of you already can gather, given your knowledge of what was happening in my sphere just a couple years ago, but it does happen a couple times a year, anyway, usually during spring and fall.

Anyway, it's a pretty scary place to be, and on the one hand, a person feels a need for human touch and comfort, while on the other, the same person feels monstrous enough not to want to be bothersome with those kinds of requests for closeness. Somebody show me the way out of that one?

Then, last night I woke in the middle of the night, read for a while, and suddenly this image flashed in my head, of the FFM and me getting in the car and laughing, which happens a lot, and I saw myself smiling, and I realized I was coming back, and damn, did that feel like a huge relief! I have an appointment with the Good Doctor in a little while. He has to be a good guy; he drives a 99 Saturn just like mine, but he's a doctor, for crying out loud. You know, he could be tooling around in some fat gas hog of an SUV or something. Keep your fingers crossed I bite my lip hard this time and take the medicine. And that he has something new for me to try. I'm sure I'll keep you all posted. Let me know if you start seeing supercraziness happening here that just ain't me.

So anyway, I was sitting at the table here Tuesday night, trying to compose myself and just crying like a little kid, and Patty got online back east. I haven't talked with her in months, I'm sure, but suddenly there she was, and we were chatting, for at least an hour, catching up and commiserating about the fouler vagaries of the female hormones, and that helped. So, I want to send out huge amounts of thanks and praise to some of my girlfriends who were there just to check in over the past couple days, especially Patty, who arrived like some sort of weird guardian angel in the darkest hour. Thanks also Zhenya and Joy, who occasionally helped me escape the narcissistic freak show going on in my brain by sharing their own ills (though I'm sorry you're feeling all bummy, girls); and Queen Jan, who called me back right away when I e-mailed her I might need some help, and why; and Katie, who is on the way to Chicago to see her son graduate from his first part of Navy training, and made my days a little bright by sharing her joy and anticipation.

Soon enough, I'm sure there will come a time to praise you boys, but today, girls kick ass.

Oh, happy birthday to Moby, who turns 40 today- which reminds me, I miss Rebecca. Remember that time you hitched a ride with a truck driver, and I gave you my mace? Hope you are kicking it in the sustainable world. Love your conviction.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One World Eric

It makes me happy to think I have friends all over the place who are doing shite with their lives that actually means something. Thanks, Eric; I do in return what I can to pass it on:

To the End of Seagull Management

I have decided to continue, or mostly continue (although it feels a lot like that guy on the radio yesterday, the writer for The Colbert Rapport, who tried to go for an entire day without Googling and only made it 13 hours), my hiatus from the rancid world of American Politics, for at least the next 8 weeks, until the day you all VOTE FOR ME. I turn on the computer and want to puke in my steaming cup of morning coffee. If it weren't for Ken Rudin, Political Junkie, on Talk of the Nation Wednesdays, I would probably completely bow out until November 4, and even sometime after that. But since he is a complete geek, and probably my lost soul-brother, I will stick with the program.

In the meantime, I scored several fine books at really low prices recently, which arrived in the mail yesterday, one of which is a little paperback number called Word Watching: Field Notes of an Amateur Philologist. I much more enjoyed reading about mutated and extinct words this morning than about how Obama is going to pump how much money into "responsible" charter schools and federal enforcement of state and local accountability within the walls of these establishments. So, I will share with you some gems our author has to offer:

" Most of the words that perish disappear, leaving no trace except in the dictionaries. Some others leave a reminder of their former existence, in a variant modified by a prefix or a suffix. Gruesome, noisome, and cumbersome are all in daily use. Oddly enough, grue, noy, and cumber all existed once but have fallen from use. To grue is to feel terror or horror, to shudder, tremble or quake. (Blogger note: as one might in the presence of a hundred pound terrifying rrrrat!) To cumber is to overwhelm or rout; also to harrass, distress, or trouble. To noy is to trouble, vex, or harrass; it is an aphetic form of annoy." (Burnside pp. 39-40)

As in, the media continues to noy and cumber me; I grue when I sit down at the table and go online lately.

Crap, I was having fun, but it's time to get in the shower and go to work. So, one last reference:

"P.G. Wodehouse used gruntled as a humorous opposite of disgruntled. Gruntle came first. It means to utter little grunts. As a noun, it is the contented grunting sound made by a happy pig; it is also a pig's snout. A pig whose nose is actually or metaphorically out of joint is aptly described as disgruntled." (Burnside p. 40)

What would metaphorically disalign a pig's snout is beyond me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Avast, ye hearties!

September 19, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, is coming right up! Enter this website, if ye dare!

The FFM and I went to Fort Collins on Saturday, where I found a very interesting book about buccaneers. It was a first-hand account of a man who began his buccaneer life as an indentured servant on the island of Tortuga in the late 17th century. Contrary to popular opinion, a "buccaneer" is not as sexy a term as we think. Here is an excerpt from The American Heritage Dictionary to set you straight:

"The Errol Flynn-like figure of the buccaneer pillaging the Spanish Main may seem less dashing if we realize that the term buccaneer corresponds to the word barbecuer. The first recorded use of the French word boucanier, which was borrowed into English, referred to a person on the islands of Hispaniola and Tortuga who hunted wild oxen and boars and smoked the meat in a barbecue frame known in French as a boucan. This French word came from a Tupi word meaning "a rack used for roasting or for storing things, or a racklike platform supporting a house." The original barbecuers seem to have subsequently adopted a more remunerative way of life, piracy, which accounts for the new meaning given to the word."

So, let's all go out and grill and chill with some wild boar or oxen and a bottle of rum on September 19, in full regalia.

But don't take this all with too much humor. As someone on the BBC reminded us last week, piracy in our times is "not all Johnny Depp Pirates of the Caribbean and shiver me timbers!" (directly quoted or closely paraphrased)

Somali pirates seize French boat
Two French citizens and their sailing boat have been seized by pirates off the Somali coast, French officials say.

The BBC's Ahmed Ali in Puntland says a delegation of officials from the semi-autonomous northern region has gone to Eyl port to investigate.

In April, French commandos made six arrests in a helicopter raid against pirates after they freed a French yacht's crew.

The seas off Somalia have some of the highest rates of piracy in the world.

The country has been without a functioning central government for 17 years and has suffered from continual civil strife.

It's beyond our capacity to tackle this problem Ahmed Saed Ali Nur Puntland's ports minister
In the capital, Mogadishu, heavy fighting erupted on Wednesday morning with insurgents trading fire with government troops, supported by Ethiopian forces, around the presidential palace.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in the city said residents were trying to take shelter in their homes while heavy artillery shells exploded around them.

Four civilians are reported to have died in the fighting and eight others were injured.
Islamist militia have threatened to increase their attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began this week.

About 2,200 of a planned 8,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force have been sent to Mogadishu since Ethiopia helped oust Islamists in 2006.

'Beyond our capacity'
"France firmly condemns this act of piracy and calls for the immediate release of the people held on board this yacht. Our prime concern is the safety of our compatriots," a French foreign ministry statement said.

It said "discretion" was needed in such cases.

Sources close to the pirates had earlier reported the hijacking to the BBC Somali service.
It is not clear if there were any other people on board the sailing boat.

Along the coast, attacks against fishing boats, cargo ships and yachts have surged over recent months and foreigners, who can be exchanged for large ransoms, are frequent targets.
Puntland's Ports Minister Ahmed Saed Ali Nur said the authorities had not made contact with the pirates.

"We don't have any information about their whereabouts. We haven't had any contact with the kidnappers. Ransom is not a solution," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
He said that pirates in the region had about 10 vessels captive at the moment, adding "it's beyond our capacity to tackle this problem".

The pirates are well-armed and employ a lot of people, he said.

"The problem is that there no co-operation between different stakeholders.

"You have the ship-owners paying the ransom; on the other side you the international navy present in international waters and they don't intervene, they didn't do anything."

In June, the UN Security Council voted to allow countries to send warships into Somalia's waters to tackle the pirates.

France has troops in nearby Djibouti and also participates in a multi-national naval force that patrols this part of the Indian Ocean.

The six pirates seized by the French military in April were handed over to French justice officials to be tried.

Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/7595727.stmPublished: 2008/09/03 15:15:36 GMT

Friday, September 5, 2008

banana cowboy

Let's take a break from politics; everyone else is plastering the filth all over the place.

FFM, Only Angels Have Wings, but Darth Vader has the Force.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Boomerslang will get my latest disaffection.

To the Editor:

Yesterday I heard a story that made me think that there is some seriously petty action going on in this town, and that wastes taxpayer dollars.

A friend of mine who lives in a residential neighborhood requiring a residential parking permit went to get his permit renewed on Tuesday, the 2nd. The previous permit had expired on the 1st, a holiday, when government offices were closed so he couldn't get his renewal. He left first thing in the morning and returned shortly to find a $50 parking ticket on his vehicle, the same vehicle that had a sticker on it attesting to the fact that he has been in the past, right up to the day before, in fact, a resident in that same building, and that he has followed the rules and kept a permit.

Now, you might say that he should have got his permit for the coming year before the holiday, say last Friday, the 29th of August. And perhaps he could have done so. However, it strikes me that when a person has a lot of things going on, including the fortune in this town of full-time employment, that person might plan out his or her life to take care of things on the day due. And what human can be faulted for not in an occasional instance making plans ahead to take care of an item of business like this in advance of a holiday due date?

No, I think it would have been tactful and professional for the police department to have had the officer who was out looking for opportunities to add to the coffers, to have given the public a break- even until noon on Tuesday- to get their parking permits renewed. As my friend noted, a vehicle parked near his also had a ticket, but that one didn't have a previous residential permit sticker on it. His did. Why couldn't the officer have waited to see that he had gone, as he had, straight to whichever office he had to visit to renew his permit?

This I consider petty and unprofessional behavior on the part of the Laramie Police Department. Perhaps this is the only occasion on which such a thing has happened? Perhaps my friend is the only person who has been affected by thoughtlessness on the part of someone in authority here?

Thank you for affording me the space to put this concern out to the community.


Lisa Cox

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lightning Bugs

So, this morning I woke to an e-mail sent yesterday afternoon by the FFM: "More Good News."

Lights Out for Fireflies?
By Michael Casey, AP Environmental Writer, posted: 31 August 2008 10:37 am ET

"BAN LOMTUAN, Thailand (AP) – Preecha Jiabyu used to take tourists on a rowboat to see the banks of the Mae Klong River aglow with thousands of fireflies. These days, all he sees are the fluorescent lights of hotels, restaurants and highway overpasses. He says he'd have to row a good two miles to see trees lit up with the magical creatures of his younger days. "The firefly populations have dropped 70 percent, in the past three years," said Preecha, 58, a former teacher who started providing dozens of row boats to compete with polluting motor boats. "It's sad. They were a symbol of our city." The fate of the insects drew more than 100 entomologists and biologists to Thailand's northern city of Chiang Mai last week for an international symposium on the "Diversity and Conservation of Fireflies." They then traveled Friday to Ban Lomtuan, an hour outside of Bangkok, to see the synchronous firefly Pteroptyx malaccae — known for its rapid, pulsating flashing that look like Christmas lights. Yet another much-loved species imperiled by humankind? The evidence is entirely anecdotal, but there are anecdotes galore. From backyards in Tennessee to riverbanks in Southeast Asia, researchers said they have seen fireflies — also called glowworms or lightning bugs — dwindling in number. No single factor is blamed, but researchers in the United States and Europe mostly cite urban sprawl and industrial pollution that destroy insect habitat. The spread of artificial lights also could be a culprit, disrupting the intricate mating behavior that depends on a male winning over a female with its flashing backside. "It is quite clear they are declining," said Stefan Ineichen, a researcher who studies fireflies in Switzerland and runs a Web site to gather information on firefly sightings. "When you talk to old people about fireflies, it is always the same," he said. "They saw so many when they were young and now they are lucky now if they see one." Fredric Vencl, a researcher at Stonybrook University in New York, discovered a new species two years ago only to learn its mountain habitat in Panama was threatened by logging. Lynn Faust spent a decade researching fireflies on her 40-acre farm in Knoxville, Tenn., but gave up on one species because she stopped seeing them. "I know of populations that have disappeared on my farm because of development and light pollution," said Faust. "It's these McMansions with their floodlights. One house has 32 lights. Why do you need so many lights?" But Faust and other experts said they still need scientific data, which has been difficult to come by with so few monitoring programs in place.

"There are some 2,000 species and researchers are constantly discovering new ones. Many have never been studied, leaving scientists in the dark about the potential threats and the meaning of their Morse code-like flashes that signal everything from love to danger. "It is like a mystery insect," said Anchana Thancharoen, who was part of a team that discovered a new species Luciola aquatilis two years ago in Thailand. The problem is, a nocturnal insect as small as a human fingertip can't be tagged and tracked like bears or even butterflies, and counting is difficult when some females spend most of their time on the ground or don't flash. And the firefly's adult life span of just one to three weeks makes counting even harder. European researchers have tried taking a wooden frame and measuring the numbers that appear over a given time. Scientists at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia have been photographing fireflies populations monthly along the Selangor River. But with little money and manpower to study the problem, experts are turning to volunteers for help. Web sites like the Citizen Science Firefly Survey in Boston, which started this year, encourages enthusiasts to report changes in their neighborhood firefly populations. "Researchers hope this would allow us to track firefly populations over many years to determine if they are remaining stable or disappearing," said Christopher Cratsley, a firefly expert at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts who served as a consultant on the site run by the Boston Museum of Science. Scientists acknowledge the urgency to assess fireflies may not match that of polar bears or Siberian tigers. But they insist fireflies are a "canary in a coal mine" in terms of understanding the health of an ecosystem. Preecha, the teacher turned boatman, couldn't agree more. He has seen the pristine river of his childhood become polluted and fish populations disappear. Now, he fears the fireflies could be gone within a year. "I feel like our way of life is being destroyed," Preecha said. "

And here is what I say to that: "They still need scientific data"..? That's crap. Evidence is evidence. People used to see lightning bugs. Now they don't. What? Did they get abducted by aliens? Commit mass suicide? It could be the pollution that destroys the habitat, it could be the lights that destroy mating ritual. Let's just go with "all of the above" and quit being such jerks about how we are wrecking the world for others.

(Today's picture from http://www.artpoints.net/.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More Fine News for the Day

Census shows widening wealth gap in U.S.

"The latest census numbers on income and health insurance feel like a family photo album. There we are on a sunny day, fit and happy. The sky was so blue, the weather warm. What a day it was.

"But close the book (or online photo Web site) and a different reality returns. That's the way the pleasing financial portrait should be taken: That was then, and this is now.

"Each August, the Census Bureau releases figures that profile the nation's income categories, including the numbers of Americans without health insurance. It barely needs mentioning that this year these red-hot topics land in the last year of the two-term Bush presidency and in closing months of a presidential campaign.

"The first-blush totals sound good. Those without coverage declined by more than one million, the first such drop since the Bush team took office. The poverty level held steady at 12.5 percent of the country, and the median income actually rose to $50,233, a slight increase of $665 from the previous year. These are crowd-pleasing totals.

"But these figures come with an asterisk. They're from 2007, just before the country began its economic slow-fade. The jobless rate, housing market, oil prices, and banking system have all soured. Layoffs and trimmed benefits such as health coverage have followed. The census computer tracked a financially fatter world.

"These figures call for interpretation and context. The downward track of uninsured may be due to more people seeking out government health care such as Medicare or coverage for children. Also, the total of 45.7 million uninsured is still higher than the 39.8 million without coverage when the Bush administration assumed power.

"The same is true with the poverty figure. Yes, it's good when the needle sticks for two years running at 12.5 percent. But it was at 11.9 percent in the 1990's.

"There are other historical measures to toss into this sea of numbers. Though the economy generally bloomed from 2000 until this year, the adjusted income of most workers didn't budge.
The rich-poor gap also widened with the nation's top one percent now collecting 23 percent of total income, the biggest disparity since 1928, according to the Economic Policy Institute. One side statistic supplied by the IRS: there are now 47,000 Americans worth $20 million or more, an all-time high.

"From top to bottom, these are punishing numbers: a nation of great wealth with yawning economic disparities. At the least, Congress should try again to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which was extended only through March of 2009, after President Bush vetoed enlarging it.

"Both John McCain and Barack Obama were quick to react to the census data, focusing on the economic slowdown that has overtaken the year-old census numbers. McCain offered tax cuts and policy tweaks to allow more people to buy health coverage. Obama has plans for a broader promise of government help with insurance. Voters should listen carefully to see which candidate has ideas that will make a genuine improvement."

This article appeared on page B - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle. And in my e-mail via EIN:

The bold type I added. If you go to Wash Park Prophet's blog: http://washparkprophet.blogspot.com/, you will find more figures, or if you do a basic search. First of all, what I'd like to know is, who these people are, these $20 million-a-year-plus? What proportion are CEOs of big corporations that cut and run when they made bad decisions? Hollywood stars adding their privileged offspring to the American Shores? You know what I'm asking.

Second, what is "median income?" Remember your elementary school math and science classes? The ones in which you learned what "mean," "median" and "mode" are? The median is simply the middle number in a list of numbers. Those numbers might be, for instance, 0, 4, 276, 277, and 300. Two hundred seventy-six here would be the median, and would have far more in common in value with the two numbers listed after it, than those far below. In other words, if the median income in this country is around $50k, that is in no way indicative of a sort of income one might expect anyone he or she meets on the street to make. There are still many, many people who make far less than that, and a few who make far more, and some who make about that much, yes.

Finally, because what am I doing reading and bothering with this kind of stuff when I feel like crap and it's a lousy day already, despite the brightly shining sun outside: I think we have more to worry about than what McCain or Obama will do about these kinds of things. People, don't forget to SERIOUSLY question those who purport to represent you at the local, state and federal levels on your Town or City Councils and in Congress. And vote accordingly.

Everything Else Is Speculation

Yesterday I was lying in bed at The Nest trying to nap, as the Evil Flu came on, and I decided to read, since I'd had too much coffee in the morning to actually sleep at that moment. I went into the bookbag I carry to the Putins Coffee Shop every weekend, with a revolving variety of magazines and newspapers in it, and dug out the May 23, 2008 issue of The Chronicle Review. Therein was a story called "Literary Remains," about Vladimir Nabokov's son Dmitri's quandry over whether or not to publish his father's "The Original Laura," an incomplete manuscript that exists on 138 notecards. Nabokov had told his son: "Burn it." But of course we know he tried to burn "Lolita" himself and was stopped by wife Vera. And we all know the end of that story, so to speak.

So, a bunch of people were asked what Dmitri Nabokov should do. (For those of you who try to avoid passive voice like I do, give me a break today; I have the flu.) These people aren't just people; they are novelists, literary critics, playwrights, professors of English and literature... And most of them said "publish" in one form or another. Only Sir Tom Stoppard (wouldn't you expect him to be called Sir Thomas Stoppard?), playwright, agreed with my gut reaction: Honor the author's words and burn the notecards. Of course, Sir Tommy said it more poetically:

"There are parallel universes, might-have-been worlds, full of lost works, and no doubt some of them would have been masterpieces. But our desire to possess them all is just a neurosis, a completeness complex, as though we must have everything that's going and it's a tragedy if we don't. ... In all honor, we must honor the only fact: that he said "Burn it." Everything else is speculation- mostly self-serving speculation on the part of the Nabokov industry, the last people we should listen to." (The Times)

The question about why people would say "publish" is answered pretty clearly here. What is it that makes some of us, though, if only a few, feel an immediate urge to honor the words of the man who isn't even here anymore, and not want to deviate from that?

Today we had to say good-bye to HamCat, speaking of not being around anymore, so it's a double bummer of a day. No more to say about that.