Monday, January 29, 2007

I want one.

A sidewalk plow. A city worker just went bombing by the office in one of these things, flying down the road, going at least 60. Incredible.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Volcano Insurance

I was reading through my insurance policy for my house last night, searching for a small detail. What I didn't expect to find was that in the event of a Volcano destroying my home, I'm covered.
I slept very well last night, better than I have for weeks, with the confidence that a volcano will not result in my financial ruin.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The other night, while cooking dinner, I was listening to the good 'ole CBC radio. It happened to be the first day of the Pickton trial out in BC, and the news report on it got rather graphic. I learned several details about what this deranged killer alledgedly did to/with his victims. I was disgusted.
I wrote CBC an email kindly asking them to tone down their reports. All I'd really like to know is the verdict at the end of the trial. I'm not on the jury. I don't need to hear every aspect of the trial. I got a response today from them. Well, from Jack Black, the Audience Relations rep. I almost thought it was spam at first, since I don't often get emails from Jack Black. I digress...

Anyway, the question lingers. What is appropriate, and what is necessary for the media to report in these cases?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

'Smoking gun' report to say global warming here

One of the points that Al Gore made in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, was the difference in tone of reports and articles from the scientific community vs. the media. He cited an example, where they looked at a significant volume of scientific journals and articles, and counted the percentage that cast doubt on Global warming. The percentage was 0. That's zero. As in none. The same investigation into articles in the media yielded 53% (I'm going on memory here - it might have been 52%) that cast doubt Global Warming.
He cited examples of bureaucrats and politicians editing scientific reports, changing the wording and intent of the original authors.

This article reminded me of that. Here's a small portion of it:
"This segment, written by more than 600 scientists and reviewed by another 600 experts and edited by bureaucrats from 154 countries, includes 'a significantly expanded discussion of observation on the climate,' said co-chair Susan Solomon a senior scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
She and other scientists held a telephone briefing on the report Monday.
That report will feature an 'explosion of new data' on observations of current global warming, Solomon said.
Solomon and others wouldn't go into specifics about what the report says.
They said that the 12-page summary for policymakers will be edited in secret word-by-word by governments officials for several days next week and released to the public on February 2. The rest of that first report from scientists will come out months later."[emphasis added]
A pair of sixes.
That was the winning hand at poker night last night.
I had long vacated the table at that point. Earlier in the game, I folded twice in a row on winning hands, pre-flop, with what I thought was crap. Then, the cards actually come up, and I would've had a 3-7 straight in one hand a full house with 10's and 2's in the next. But you never know. 20 Hindsights is worth one in the river.
Maybe next week.
It's snowing outside my window right now. The big flakes that fall, but not in straight lines. They're more like parachuters than free-fallers.

I watched Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, last week. I recommend giving it a watch. The facts are startling. I'm not sure what the solution is though. He presents some - efficient vehicles and appliances. However, we're not going to halt climate change with a bunch of Hybrid Cars and some spiral light bulbs. It'll help, but I fear that our western lifestyles will have to be severely altered in order for any real change to occur. I suspect that one way or another they will be - by choice or necessity.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Special Comment on the President’s Address

The following is from Keith Olberman's "Special Comment", which bears repeating:

And lastly, as promised, a Special Comment about the President's address last night.

Only this President, only in this time, only with this dangerous, even Messianic certitude, could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq, by offering an entrance strategy for Iran.

Only this President, could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say "where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me" — only to follow that, by proposing to repeat the identical mistake in Iran.

Only this President could extol the "thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group," and then take its most far-sighted recommendation — "engage Syria and Iran" - and transform it into "threaten Syria and Iran" — when Al-Qaeda would like nothing better than for us to threaten Syria, and when President Ahmmadinejad would like nothing better than to be threatened by us.

This is diplomacy by skimming; it is internationalism by drawing pictures of Superman in the margins of the text books; it is a presidency of Cliff Notes.

And to Iran and Syria — and, yes, also to the insurgents in Iraq — we must look like a country, run by the equivalent of the drunken pest, who gets battered to the floor of the saloon by one punch, then staggers to his feet, and shouts at the other guy's friends, "ok, which one of you is next?"

Mr. Bush, the question is no longer "what are you thinking?," but rather "are you thinking at all?"

"I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended," you said last night.

And yet — without any authorization from the public who spoke so loudly and clearly to you in November's elections; without any consultation with a Congress (in which key members of your own party like Senator Brownback and Senator Coleman and Senator Hagel are fleeing for higher ground); without any awareness that you are doing exactly the opposite of what Baker-Hamilton urged you to do, you seem to be ready to make an open-ended commitment (on America's behalf) to do whatever you want, in Iran.

Our military, Mr. Bush, is already stretched so thin by this bogus adventure in Iraq, that even a majority of serving personnel are willing to tell pollsters that they are dissatisfied with your prosecution of the war.

It is so weary, that many of the troops you have just consigned to Iraq, will be on their second tours, or their third tours, or their fourth tours — and now you're going to make them take on Iran and Syria as well?

Who is left to go and fight, sir?

Who are you going to send to "interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria"? Laura and Barney?

The line is from the movie "Chinatown" and I quote it often. "Middle of a drought," the mortician chuckles, "and the water commissioner drowns. Only in L.A.!"

'Middle of a debate over the lives and deaths of another 21,500 of our citizens in Iraq… and the President wants to saddle up against Iran and Syria.'

Maybe that's the point: to shift the attention away from just how absurd and childish, is this latest war strategy (strategy, that is, for the war already under way, and not the one, on deck).

We are to put 17,500 more troops into Baghdad and 4,000 more into Anbar Province to give the Iraqi government "breathing space."

In and of itself, that is an awful and insulting term.

The lives of 21,500 more Americans endangered, to give "breathing space" to a government that just turned the first and perhaps the most sober act of any Democracy — the capitol punishment of an ousted dictator — into a vengeance lynching so barbaric, and so lacking in the solemnities necessary for credible authority, that it might have offended the Ku Klux Klan of the 19th Century.

And what will our men and women in Iraq do?

The ones who will truly live — and die — during what Mr. Bush said last night will be a "year ahead" which "will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve"?

They will try to seal up Sadr City and other parts of Baghdad, in which the civil war is worst.

Mr. Bush did not mention that while our people are trying to do that, the factions in the civil war will no longer have to focus on killing each other but rather, they can focus anew on killing our people.

Because last night the President foolishly all but announced that we will be sending these 21,500 poor souls over — but, no more after that — and if the whole thing fizzles out, we're going home.

The plan fails militarily.

The plan fails symbolically.

The plan fails politically.

Most importantly, perhaps, Mr. Bush, the plan fails because it still depends on your credibility.

You speak of mistakes, and of the responsibility "resting" with you. But you do not admit to making those mistakes.

And you offer us nothing to justify this clenched fist towards Iran and Syria.

In fact, when you briefed news correspondents off-the-record before the speech, they were told, once again, "if you knew what we knew… if you saw what we saw…"

"If you knew what we knew," was how we got into this morass in Iraq, in the first place.

The problem arose, when it turned out that the question wasn't whether or not we knew what you knew but whether you knew what you knew.

You, sir, have become the President who cried wolf.

All that you say about Iraq now, could be gospel. All that you say about Iran and Syria now, could be prescient and essential.

We no longer have a clue, sir. We have heard too many stories.

Many of us are as inclined to believe you just shuffled the Director of National Intelligence over to the State Department, because he thought you were wrong about Iran.

Many of us are as inclined to believe you just put a pilot in charge of ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because he would be truly useful in an air war next door in Iran.

Your assurances, sir, and your demands that we trust you, have lost all shape and texture.

They are now merely fertilizer for conspiracy theories.

They are now fertilizer indeed.

The pile has been built slowly and with seeming care.

I read this list last night, before the President's speech, and it bears repetition, because its shape and texture are perceptible only in such a context.

Before Mr. Bush was elected, he said nation-building was wrong for America. Now he says it is vital.

He said he would never put U.S. troops under foreign control. Last night he promised to embed them, in Iraqi units.

He told us about WMD. Mobile labs. Secret sources. Aluminum tubes. Yellow-cake.

He has told us the war is necessary because Saddam was a material threat. Because of 9/11. Because of Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaeda. Terrorism in General. To liberate Iraq. To spread freedom. To spread Democracy. To prevent terrorism by gas price increases. Because this was a guy who tried to kill his Dad.

Because 439 words in to the speech last night, he trotted out 9/11 again.

In advocating and prosecuting this war he passed on a chance to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. To get Muqtada Al-Sadr.
To get Bin Laden.

He sent in fewer troops than the Generals told him to.

He ordered the Iraqi army disbanded and the Iraqi government "De-Baathified."

He short-changed Iraqi training. He neglected to plan for widespread looting. He did not anticipate sectarian violence.

He sent in troops without life-saving equipment. Gave jobs to foreign contractors, and not Iraqis. He staffed U.S. positions there, based on partisanship, not professionalism.

He and his government told us "America had prevailed", "Mission Accomplished", the resistance was in its "last throes".

He has insisted more troops were not necessary. He has now insisted more troops are necessary.

He has insisted it's up to the generals, and then removed some of the generals who said more troops would not be necessary.

He has trumpeted the turning points: The fall of Baghdad; the death of Uday and Qusay; the capture of Saddam; A provisional government; a charter; a constitution; the trial of Saddam; elections; purple fingers; another government; the death of Saddam.

He has assured us: we would be greeted as liberators with flowers; as they stood up, we would stand down. We would stay the course; we were never about "stay the course." We would never have to go door-to-door in Baghdad. And last night, that to gain Iraqis' trust, we would go door-to-door in Baghdad.

He told us the enemy was Al-Qaeda, foreign fighters, terrorists, Baathists, and now Iran and Syria.

The war would pay for itself. It would cost 1.7 billion dollars. 100 billion. 400 billion. Half a trillion. Last night's speech alone cost another six billion.

And after all of that, now it is his credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Democrats, Republicans, the Iraq Study Group, past presidents, voters last November, and the majority of the American people.

Oh, and one more to add, tonight: Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

Mr. Bush, this is madness.

You have lost the military.

You have lost the Congress to the Democrats.

You have lost most of the Iraqis.

You have lost many of the Republicans.

You have lost our Allies.

You are losing the credibility, not just of your Presidency, but more importantly of the office itself.

And most imperatively, you are guaranteeing that more American troops will be losing their lives, and more families their loved ones. You are guaranteeing it!

This becomes your legacy, sir: How many of those you addressed last night as your "fellow citizens" you just sent to their deaths?

And for what, Mr. Bush?

So the next President has to pull the survivors out of Iraq instead of you?

Good night and good luck.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

God's Politics - Jim Wallis - A Criminal Escalation of An Unjust War

When the American people make it clear in the election, and in every public opinion poll, that they want an end to the war in Iraq, he ignores them. When the central recommendation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group is "new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts…that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly," he ignores them. When Republican Senators across the spectrum – from Susan Collins (ME) and Olympia Snowe (ME) to Sam Brownback (KS) and Gordon Smith (OR), and respected foreign policy expert Chuck Hagel (NE) – oppose his plan, he ignores them. (" … a dangerously wrongheaded strategy that will drive America deeper into an unwinnable swamp," says Hagel.) When the top U.S. military commanders in Iraq question the strategy, he replaces them.more...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Late Show Wisdom

"President Bush is expected to announce that he is now sending more troops to Iraq, despite the fact that his general, his military analysts, members of congress, and most of the American people are against the idea. The reason he's doing it? To give Iraq a government that responds to the will of the people."
---Jay Leno

"They executed Saddam Hussein. I guess that means that whole Iraqi thing is over. We can all go home now..."
---David Letterman

Friday, January 05, 2007

Short Works of Fiction

Lately there seems to be a lot of people I know writing short works of fiction. Todd gave out a 50-page booklet of short stories and writings for Christmas. The winterbeard has received several updates in recent weeks of short stories, or excerpts from longer stories, as well as poetry and even the occaisional short film.

I'm feeling like I need to contribute to the world of writing and fiction. I could try writing a story inspired by a guy trying to leap over an enormous puddle, but not quite making it (as just actually happened out my window), only to discover that it wasn't a puddle at all, only the small surface of a vast underground body of water... But, I think I'll keep the original work in fiction that I set out to write in this post. Here it is, all three words:

It snowed today.