This Space for Rent

Jun 30, 2005

Someone is going directly to hell for publishing this.

On United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the United States reaffirms its commitment to the worldwide elimination of torture. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right, and we are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.

Yes, that's a press release from Mount Doom on the Potomac, from the same administration that brought you death camps in Afghanistan, death camps in Iraq, death camps in Cuba, and death camps on the high seas. Oh, yes, and it's an administration that tosses American citizens into the gulag and keeps them locked up indefinitely.

Do you think that "freedom from torture is an inalianable human right" includes freedom from being beaten to death by American soldiers? Or do you think that the Coward in Chief has instructed his evil minions to redefine torture as "... except if done by agents of the United States"?

Go ahead, George, lie to us. Maybe you'll be lucky and there won't be an afterlife, because I think that being frozen into the lake at the bottom of hell will get very tedious after a thousand years or so.

Now there are four

Spain just legalized same-sex marriage, becoming the third (Canada still has to pass bill C-38 through their senate) or fourth (apparently the Canadian senate always approves bills that are passed through the house of commons) country in the world that doesn't discriminate in issuing marriage licenses.

The hall of fame now contains

  1. the Netherlands
  2. Belgium
  3. Canada
  4. Spain

Note that the United States isn't on that list; in the self-proclaimed "beacon of freedom and democracy", the bigots are trying to write discrimination against gay people into the constitution.

(link via no Capitol)


Jun 29, 2005

Our tax dollars at waste

It's not just Lorem Ipsum, it's the Presidential version of Lorem Ipsum.

The "good news" from Iraq being, apparently, that the Evil Party has, once again, assigned a job to someone where quality is job 3, and they just shovelled the boilerplate text onto the website because nobody but the electorate will ever read it.

(via No More Mister Nice Blog)

1 comment

I’d feel a lot better about congressional pay raises if …

... the leaders of the house weren't quite so blatantly greedy about it. When a known sleazebag like Tom Delay whines piteously about "It’s an adjustment so that they’re not losing their purchasing power." (on a salary that started at $162,000/year, which isn't terribly unreasonably for the people who nominally run the United States, but which is peanuts compared to the little something extras that so many of the representatives get from their thankful, um, "constituents") while at the same time not making a move towards raising the minimum wage, which affects people who are making the sort of money where "losing their purchasing power" means that they'll lose their homes and end up living on the streets, sympathy is not the feeling that comes to mind (blind rage, yes. sympathy, no.)

The reason why the leaders of the government get these good (they used to be great, but that was before the private sector got really greedy) salaries is that they're supposed to be running the country, and part of running the country is that they help maintain things so that working people have a decent living, and don't have to apply for social services as part of the employment process at the megachain stores that donate so much money to the Evil Party. If the government is unwilling to actually govern, they should be willing to sacrifice their purchasing power and live like mortal humans.

On flagburning and supporting the Stupid Party

Over the past few weeks, I've been getting a steady stream of mailings from various Democratic senators, begging for money to fund their re-election campaigns against the thugs that the Evil Party are putting up to run against them. A couple of them (Bill Nelson (S-Fl) and Debbie Stabenow (S-Mi)) have been very persistant, sending repeated mailings to remind me that this quarterly funding cycle is almost ended, and they need money from me so they can get matching funds from the few organizations that haven't yet been kneecapped by the Evil Party.

Most of these begging-for-dollars letters have been dealt with by the simple expedient of ignoring them, but Mr. Nelsom and Ms. Stabenow happened to send me their little whining for dollars memos recently enough so their names were still familiar when I read, in The Hill, that they were planning on voting for the Graven Images Amendment. And they want me to contribute to their re-election campaign? Oh hahahaha!

But, just in case they were all misquoted, I replied to their fundraising letters with a little note:

I'd be more willing to contribute money to your campaign if I didn't read articles that started with:

Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who face potentially difficult reelection campaigns next year, plan to break ranks with a majority of their fellow Democrats next month to support a constitutional amendment banning desecration of the U.S. flag.

If (Stupid Party Senator) is in favor of discarding the First Amendment, they will not receive any support from my household. Please clarify their position on the Graven Images amendment.

I fully expect I'll either get blown off or will get back some boilerplate about the sanctity of the flag (I'm a lot more worried about the sanctity of the bill of rights, thank you very much, and amendments that attempt to abrogate the bill of rights make a mockery of that flag, unless these senators want to have the United States emulate the flag "protection" that Nazi Germany implemented.) In either case, they will damn themselves by their (in)action. When it comes to defending freedom of speech, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue! And if the constitution is rewritten so that freedom of speech only exists when you are doing something that the ruling party agrees with, freedom of speech will be dead. And these senators think I'll give them money so they can more effectively put bullets into freedom of speech, they've got another think coming.

This is every bit as stupid as the self-proclaimed "moderate 7" seizing defeat from the hands of victory by letting the Coward in Chief appoint those five incompetent judges just when the Stupid Party had backed the Evil Party up against the wall and was ready to hand them a narrow, but satisfying, defeat. And unlike another five incompetent judges (which can be taken out of power by a nice round of "impeach them all; G-d will know his own" when the Evil Party is driven from power), an evil constitutional amendment can send rot deeply into the fabric of the United States.

Stupid Party senators who will vote to strip me of my rights as a United States citizen are not likely to get one damn penny from me. I learned my lesson with John Kerry, who got a lot of money from me in the presidental campaign, only to betray me twice (once by not contesting the 10,000 happy coincidences in Ohio, et alii, and secondly by stabbing his state in the back while campaigning in Louisiana.) From now on, when it comes to a choice between craven cowardice and blatant evil, I'll choose none of the above. And if a Democratic Party candidate wants my support, they'd better choose none of the above as well.

On getting old

    You for the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts
    be zealous, girls, and the clear melodious lyre:
    but my once tender body old age now
    has seized; my hair’s turned white instead of dark;
    my heart’s grown heavy, my knees will not support me,
    that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns.
    This state I oft bemoan; but what’s to do?
    Not to grow old, being human, there’s no way.
    Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn,
    love-smitten, carried off to the world’s end,
    handsome and young then, yet in time grey age
    o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife.

(-- Sappho. via Bitch, PhD)

Jun 28, 2005

It’s official: Canada is the promised land.

The "vote is about the Charter of Rights," said Martin. "We're a nation of minorities and in a nation of minorities you don't cherry-pick rights."

The Liberal government of Canada just passed a bill making same-sex marriage legal everywhere in Canada. Everywhere. From what I've heard, the liberals aren't the swiftest governing party in Canadian history, but when it came to essential civil liberties, Paul Martin and his party rose to the challenge with dignity and hono(u)r.

The only cloud on the horizon is that the Conservative Party, which has been suckling diligently at the teat of hate and intolerance that has been proffered by the increasing fascist state immediately south of Canada, is already whining about trying to kill the law if they ever get into power. (It's to Canada's credit that when their bigots start whining about the terrible injustice of having to be decent human beings, they fall out of favor. In the United States, on the other hand, hatred and intolerance are proving to be a sure-fire pathway to political power. This is not a credit to this country.)

But, modulo the bigots, let me say thank you and congratulations to the citizens and government of Canada. I hope that someday soon I will be able to be counted as a citizen of your country.

(wonderful news via My Blahg)

He’s back!

Blog-Us-Fear, aka the Maggothammer, is back, with a lovely little post talking about animal rights/human rights. Hurrah!

1 comment

Tuesday Dust Mite Blogging™

Chateau Chaos just got a letter, postmarked from deepest Jesusland, that contained this chilling photograph. It looks like the Jesusland Dust Mite Liberation Front has captured Dust Mite and is threatening a tasty feast of barbequed Dust Mite.

Unfortunately, they neglected to include a ransom note, so I may just be making things up.

Jun 27, 2005

Oh Canada!

A court in New Brunswick has ordered that the provincial definition of marriage be changed from "a man and a woman" to "two persons". The premier of that province says that he believes the old definition is the proper definition, but he also said that the province would not put up a fight if a court ordered the change.

That's the rule of law for you. In the United States the bigots would be screaming to modify the provincial constitution to discriminate against gays.

After New Brunswick has rewritten their laws, only 4 territories and provinces will discriminate against gay people, so if you're lucky enough to be a Canadian and don't live in PEI, Alberta, Nunavut, or the Northwest Territories, you will be able to marry your boyfriend or girlfriend without having to fight with the state over legal recognition of your union.

Anyone up there looking to hire a migrant Linux programmer who writes OS distributions for fun?

(via Burnt Orange Report)

Wasn’t it about at this point where the USSR came completely off the rails in Afghanistan?

The point in question is "when the Afghanis started using shoulder-mounted surface to air missiles to kill helicopters"? Well, the Iraqi resistance is now using, um, shoulder-mounted surface to air missiles to kill helicopters.

I wonder where they're getting them. The USSR is demised, but there are probably enough embittered ex-Soviet generals who'd be happy to sell Stingerskis to one or another of the different Mesopotamian resistance groups, as a sort of "we're not going to hog all the fun of being destroyed in a land war in Asia" greetng card. And if not the USSR, there are only about 150 other states in the world that loathe the American Imperium, and many of those states would no doubt love to get in the good graces of the Iraqi resistance.

(via Juan Cole)

1 comment

Supertrivial project of the day

Since the best and the bears are off in deepest Jesusland this weekend, I spent Sunday whooping it up by, um, cleaning the house. Around 11pm, I realized that my rearrangement of books and stuff was running into the small problem of not having enough surface area to put things on, so I stopped cleaning, went downstairs, and built this book and stuff shelf for the library. For some people, quality might be job one, but in this case quality is something around job 400; I wanted to get the shelf done today, so I could move some of the huge mound of railroad books off the top of the library shelves where they live today into a place where they might be more reachable. I started at 11pm on a Sunday, so I had to use, yup, you guessed it, boards from reclaimed pallets, and since I wanted to get it done before going to bed, I didn't bother with niceties like leaving the clamped joints overnight, but instead glued, nailed, then clamped the sides for about 45 minutes before gluing on the shelves and back slats. Picky things like quality construction, well, that's a nice idea, and I'm sure I'll think about it for the next project or so. But not for this one.

Exhibit A
The library bookshelves after five years of arranging around small children

Once upon a time, the library bookshelf looked like an actual bookshelf, with all of the books stacked vertically like you'd find in any normal house. This tidy state of affairs stopped about 35 seconds after Russell learned how to crawl, because the bookshelf was too tidy for our little pedestrian of the apocolypse. After a few rounds of "Russell will take down all the books and dump them on the floor, and then some bystander will pick them up and restack them", the routine was simplified to "the pedestrians of the apocolypse dump the books on the floor, and then those piles of books will be shovelled into the nearest shelf after the bears are coerced into bedtime." When you add to this our habit of placing breakable things up out of their reach by putting them on the bookshelf (you can't see it, but there's an unpainted HO scale class D locomotive on the middle bookshelf, right in front of the (broken, and no, I'm not sure why we haven't thrown it out yet) clock that's also been put out of the Baby Zone), and a formerly tidy -- if tidy is a word that applies to Chateau Chaos -- set of bookshelves turns like magic into a tall tottering structure that's just waiting for a big earthquake (this one doesn't count, even though it did wake me up Saturday morning) to cause all of my 100-or-so railroad books to eject themselves and crush whoever is sitting by the computer.

So, this weekend counted as the fullness of time, and by ~12:30 the bookshelf was all nailed and glued together and ready to be brought upstairs and stressed. I removed all the railroad books from the bookshelf...

Exhibit B
The library bookshelf after removing my railroad books

... and restacked them on the tiny bookshelf. Everything fit except for the wad of technical documents I've got on some of the proposals for trolley lines in Portland, which are left up on top of the tall bookshelves with all of my railroad magazines.

Exhibit C
The railroad books barely fit onto the new bookshelf

In case you're wondering, yes, that center strut is crooked. Even with copious use of carpenters square, I'm incapable of building anything that doesn't have at least one crooked part.

UPDATE:And after sorting, the formerly chaotic library shelves look tidier, if you don't get close enough to see that the science fiction (the lower 1/3rd of the ~700 books on these bookshelves. We've got a lot of books in Chateau Chaos; I'd be surprised if we didn't have 2500 books here, most of which are, by the mercy of the gods, not in the state of disarray that the ones in the library are) books are just shoveled in in any old order, because I didn't want to climb the mountain of sorting them (ditto for the mysteries, but since most of them were out of reach, they didn't get quite as disordered during the terror.)

Exhibit D
The bookshelves clean up nicely, but will they survive the Return Of The Babies?

Jun 25, 2005

Spider picture of the day

A very tiny orb spider (about the size of a piece of couscous) has spun a web between two yucca flower stalks in our front yard. Yes, I'm aware that yuccas are traditionally desert plants and the Willamette Valley is not what anyone would call a desert. The yuccas don't care, and neither does the spider.

[Pentax istDS/Quantaray 300mm lens/manual focus, for a change]

Chickenhawks on parade!

All hail the Young Republicans; they're all yellow, just like their Coward in Chief!

(via Atrios)

1 comment

7 Corners/14 Houses/1 Shop/1 Church

(click on a picture to see a bigger copy)

On Thursday, I needed to go to the New Seasons at Seven Corners to get some cat food (Suzzy has been picking at her special doped-with-cat-drugs catfood, and I was hoping that some different kinds of food might make a difference. (Executive summary: No, unless you count the piles of thrown up cat food in the basement as a difference), and decided that since it was a nice sunny day it would be a shame to not take some pictures as I went. I walked from 21st and Powell to New Seasons, dodging over to 20th at People's Co-op (I'm a member there, but all I had was a US$20 scrip certificate for New Seasons, so I had to pass it by), and then I wandered randomly back towards Powell, crossing the Southern Union Pacific mainline via the pedestrian bridge at 15(?)th, taking pictures as I went.

Jun 24, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™ – Captured by Pirates edition

Dust Mite has gone to deepest Jesusland for a family reunion, and is being held in a undisclosed location. So I needed to drag out a file photo of Dust Mite and the dolls hanging out on the roof of the dollhouse. Alfred (the redheaded doll with the untamable cowlick) decided to swan-dive into the floor (Diving on hardwood floors is not advised! -- TMLMTBGB) just when I snapped the picture of Dust Mite and the family.

Compare and Contrast (pt 3) – he said WHAT?

.. "They're very well treated down there. They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want,'' Cheney said in a CNN interview. "There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people.'' ...
(some comparisons just leap out and demand to be made, no matter how offensive they may be to torturers and their ilk)

(via Yowling From the Fencepost)


Compare and Contrast (pt 2)

Military doctors at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have aided interrogators in conducting and refining coercive interrogations of detainees, including providing advice on how to increase stress levels and exploit fears, according to new, detailed accounts given by former interrogators
  • I SOLEMNLY PLEDGE myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
  • I WILL GIVE to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due;
  • I WILL PRACTICE my profession with conscience and dignity;
  • THE HEALTH OF MY PATIENT will be my first consideration;
  • I WILL RESPECT the secrets which are confided in me, even after the patient has died;
  • I WILL MAINTAIN by all the means in my power, the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession;
  • MY COLLEAGUES will be my sisters and brothers;
  • I WILL NOT PERMIT considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient;
  • I WILL MAINTAIN the utmost respect for human life from its beginning even under threat and I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity;
  • I MAKE THESE PROMISES solemnly, freely and upon my honor.

Jun 23, 2005

Thought for the day

They stole the elections.  They lied to start a war. They are abusing our Constitution.

Railroad picture of the day

EPT 802, sitting on the ramp that goes from 17th ave down past the Portland Traction shops into the industrial park.

The joys of the American Healthcare System, pt 3 – the bill.

I just got the first round of the bill for my emergency room visit the other week. For 3 hours of sitting in the emergency room, retelling my case, US$389 (not covered by my sucky job-provided insurance). For five minutes of CAT scan, US$1121 (also not covered by my sucky job-provided insurance.)

Have I mentioned how much I love the American health-care system? Except as a method for enriching major donors to the Evil Party, it sucks, and it grows suckier every year, and all so the USA can be healthier than, um, the ex-Soviet Union, which has already had its healthcare system devastated by the nasty "shock therapy" regime the capitalists foisted on it after the Soviet Union fell over after 70 years of mismanagement. If I wanted to be healthy, I should have told my ancesters to side with the British! -- then they would have been kicked out of the USA and forced to settle in Canada, which, aside from having functional civil liberties, has a healthcare system that isn't in the clutches of unfettered money-grubbing vampires.

Oh, right, "avoid stress". Between the depradations of the American health-care system and the B*sh junta trying to start a pogrom against liberals , "avoid stress" becomes even more of a joke than it was in the first place. (To make matters more calming, the bulk of my family, INCLUDING the married lesbian couple which are sort-of-virtual-cousins-in-law, are having a damned family reunion in darkest rural Jesusland. What a wonderful place to have a reunion when the US Government is trying to start a pogrom. You can imagine my lack of stress today.)

No, no, no, it’s making government more efficient!

In the old days, when a rich or well connected man wished to possess some valuable property that belonged to someone else, he'd have to go to a lot of trouble to get it. They'd either have to hire a mob to intimidate (or kill, if they weren't squeamish) that other landowner, or they'd have to arrange with the local government to seize the land, then purchase that land from the government after a respectable amount of time. Both of these methods were fairly expensive and inefficient, and slow; the first because, believe it or not, it's actually illegal to hire mobs and murder people who foolishly own land you want, and the second is because you need to buy and pay support on politicians for long enough to do the condemnation and to wait a discreet amount of time before taking possession of the land.

It is quite fortunate that the US Supreme Court ruled today that it's okay for wealthy and well-connected people to condemn property (you still have to buy politicians, because someone in the government has to sign the forms, but that's a lot cheaper than having to keep paying support until it's not obvious that the condemnation is a government-assisted land seizure.) It may not be the final nail in the grand Evil Party plan of making the United States into Venezuela, but, wow, it certainly makes things easier.

One funny thing about this ruling is that the four reliable fascist judges voted against New London, Ct, while the 3 normally-decent judges voted in favor of the city, bringing the 2 wishy-washy ones with them. Justice O'Conner accurately described the likely results of this ruling when she said "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property, [...] Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.” She didn't mention replacing a farm with a larger more-efficient "game park", or replacing a row of "blighted" homes with a nice private garden for the mansion down the street, or even replacing a row of summer camps with a private beach for J. Random Republican the Third. If I had a summer house in Kennebunkport, I'd be putting it on the market now and buying a house somewhere far distant from the line of sight of the upper class twits who now control the United States.

But if you are a well-connected (read: Evil Party super-premium donor) rich person, your life has just become a little bit easier, and now the government doesn't have to waste your time making property condemnation look innocent.

At least as long as there's no oil or natural gas under your (ex-)property.

(via Arthur Silber and Bottle of Blog)

1 comment

Compare and contrast

Or two megaphones are constructed of rolled up cardboard, and two interrogators, coming close to the prisoner, bellow in both ears: "Confess, you rat! On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.
For example, the _________ cells were entirely unheated. There were radiators in the corridor only, and in this "heated" corridor the guards on duty walked in felt boots and padded jackets. The prisoner was forced to undress down to his underwear, and sometimes to his undershorts, and he was forced to spend from three to five days in the punishment cell without moving (since it was so confining). On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold
A long piece of rough toweling was inserted between the prisoner's jaws like a bridle; the ends were then pulled back over his shoulders and tied to his heels. Just try lying on your stomach like a wheel, with your spine breaking-and without water and food for two days! On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water
The prisoner was pushed into such a pit, ten feet in depth, six and a half feet in diameter; and beneath the open sky, rain or shine, this pit was for several days both his cell and his latrine. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more.
They use rubber truncheons, and they use wooden mallets and small sandbags. It is very, very painful when they hit a bone-for example, an interrogator's jackboot on the shin, where the bone lies just beneath the skin. They beat ________ for twenty-one days in a row. And today he says: "Even after thirty years all my bones ache and my head too." In recollecting his own experience and the stories of others, he counts up to fifty-two methods of torture. Here is one: They grip the hand in a special vise so that the prisoner's palm lies flat on the desk-and then they hit the joints with the thin edge of a ruler. And one screams! Two ________ prisoners who died in ________ custody in _______ were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by ________ soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths
8. The accused could be compelled to stand on his knees-not in some figurative sense, but literally: on his knees, without sitting back on his heels, and with his back upright. People could be compelled to kneel in the interrogator's office or the corridor for twelve, or even twenty-four or forty-eight hours. (The interrogator himself could go home, sleep, amuse himself in one way or another-this was an organized system; watch was kept over the kneeling prisoner, and the guards worked in shifts.) What kind of prisoner was most vulnerable to such treatment? The _______ authorized tough techniques to intimidate detainees during interrogations, including using guard dogs and placing prisoners in painful “stress positions”
At the _______, _______ refused to give the testimony demanded of her. She was transferred to _______. In the admitting office, a woman jailer ordered her to undress, allegedly for a medical examination, took away her clothes, and locked her in a "box" naked. At that point the men jailers began to peer through the peephole and to appraise her female attributes with loud laughs Col. ________, the military intelligence officer in charge of interrogations at _________, is reported as having openly acknowledged the use of forced nudity as part of the intelligence process.

The column on the left is, of course, quotations from The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956 (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn), describing the Soviet gulags. The column on the right is, despite appearances, not talking about the Soviet gulag -- no, it's talking about the AMERICAN gulag smiling rainbow factory.

Rogue state? If you're an American, you're soaking in it!

Jun 22, 2005

Don’t they have anything better to do with their time?

The Coward in Chief's poll numbers are dropping like a stone, so the Evil Party has decided that this is the time to drag out the Graven Images Amendment again. I've got a suggestion for the wording of this amendment:

Whoever publicly profanes the German National Socialist Labor Party, its subdivisions, symbols, standards and banners, its insignia or decorations or maliciously and with premeditation exposes them to contempt shall be punished by imprisonment.

Of course, the Evil Party propaganda writers should probably strike out the 'German National Socialist Labor Party' part, but if they wanted to stick to the the original law, I can't say that I'd be surprised to hear it.

(Nazi flag law via the Supreme Court appeal of The State Of Texas vs. Gregory Lee Johnson)


Why does the American Legion hate America?

Not all members of the Evil Party are actually evil. James Glaser, a Marine veteran from Minnesota, wrote a letter to the local paper defending Senator Durbin. He's done a honorable thing and deserves full respect for it.

Being a member of the Minnesota Republican Party, this is hard to write, but being a combat veteran requires me to. I would like to thank Sen. Dick Durbin for having the courage to stand up and demand that we close our prison in Guantanamo Bay.

Now that Colin Powell has left, there is no one in a leadership position in the Bush administration who has seen combat. If they had, they would realize the lifetime of psychological trauma that is inflicted on our troops when they are required to chain prisoners to the floor -- leaving them in that position so long that they urinate and defecate on themselves. FBI reports tell how some prisoners left in that way have pulled their own hair out.

Years from now, American Marines, who volunteered to defend our country, will still be going to counseling, trying to get rid of the guilt of knowing that they were forced to engage in torture.

James P. Glaser,
Northome, Minn.;
American Legion Post 499.

(A letter to the editor from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, via New Patriot)

Jun 21, 2005

A blast from the past

In the old days, when the Soviet Union was still a going concern (and wasn't a dottering old dictatorship, losing vitality as the few remaining sons and daughters of the revolution died off), they would occasionally have great purges, where last weeks loyal defenders of the great socialist revolution™ were found guilty of some bogus crime against the state and Comrade Stalin after going up before a grand trial and weepily confessing their crimes (up to and including making the glaciers retreat and causing the extinction of the Siberian mammoth population.) The funny thing about these weepy confessions is that in many cases, the new enemies of the state would be dragged off to the torture chambers spitting fire and swearing to never buckle under to the forces of the state, and would, several weeks or months later, emerge as broken shells of their former selves, saying things like "Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line" and "To them I extend my heartfelt apologies."

Oh, wait, sorry, that was Senator Durbin's show trial appearance today.

I wonder what the Evil Party did? Did Karl pull Senator Durbin aside and tell him that his son would be assigned to do solo mine removal in Saddam City unless some tearful apology was forthcoming PDQ, or was it a traditional mob-style "Apologise or we'll kill you?"

The line I liked best out of the show trial was Mayor Daley of Chicago (showing the traditional Daley family style of having no fixed loyalties except to power) saying -- without laughing, even! -- "I think it’s a disgrace to say that any man or woman in the military would act like that."

That's pretty amazing. There are thousands of photos, thick stacks of documents, and the testimony of various men and women in the military saying that, yes, there are men and women in the US military who do act like that. But here comes the Quisling of the hour, cheerily repeating the propaganda from the fascists who control the United States and showing no concern over the teeny detail that he's transparently lying to G-d and everyone.

So now that we've got transparently rigged elections, the gulag, the personality cult of Dear Leader, the junta-style military uniforms, a military run by corrupt evil generals, and show trials, just what's left in the conversion of the United States from a mainly-functional republic into a military dictatorship?

1 comment

Evil Party moral values (pt 10)

Where did this happen?

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

Germany, c. 1936-1945
The USSR, c. 1920-1990
Vietnam, late 1970s
The United States of America, during the regime of the B*sh junta

Choice #4 should not even be there. The saying used to be We're the United States of America and we don't do that kind of shit!. What changed? Oh, yes, that's right, the self-proclaimed grownups overthrew the government of the United States and installed Maximum Leader Genius instead, and now the offense against G-d and decency is not torturing people, oh, no, it's now objecting to torture.

Just like it was in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.


There will be no peace.

Though mild clear weather
Smile again on the shire of your esteem
And its colors come back, the storm has changed you:
You will not forget, ever,
The darkness blotting out hope, the gale
Prophesying your downfall.

You must live with your knowledge.
Way back, beyond, outside of you are others,
In moonless absences you never heard of,
Who have certainly heard of you,
Beings of unknown number and gender:
And they do not like you.

What have you done to them?
Nothing? Nothing is not an answer;
You will come to believe - how can you help it? -
That you did, you did do something;
You will find yourself wishing you could make them laugh,
You will long for their friendship.

There will be no peace.
Fight back, then, with such courage as you have
And every unchivalrous dodge you know of,
Clear in your conscience on this:
Their cause, if they had one, is nothing to them now;
They hate for hate's sake.

[W.H. Auden,There Will Be No Peace, via The Story So Far]

After the thunderstorm

A thunderstorm rolled through Portland a couple of days ago. As thunderstorms go, it wasn't much of a thunderstorm (I grew up in the Midwest, where the thunderstorms get a little more enthusiastic, even when you're down in the valleys that the lightning can't reach), but Portland doesn't, as a general rule, have thunderstorms. The stormfront was fairly strange; on the east side of the Willamette it was all greenish lowering clouds, but on the west side it was spotty high clouds. After the front rolled by, the low clouds broke up and headed west while the high clouds headed east. And then the sun started to set, and I (while mumbling "I need a tripod! I need a tripod") tried to take some pictures of the spooky clouds.

Jun 20, 2005

Bitmover can bite me.

Several years ago, I worked for the version control company Bitmover (good product, not quite so good of a company) and got seduced into using their product bitkeeper. Bitkeeper was (and, presumably, still is) a pretty good version control system, but after I leapt, shrieking, from the company and went elsewhere to work, the licensing on the free version of the product tightened up to the point where I refused to update my copies of the code. (I stuck with the version that was released with a license that allowed me to use it without maintainence fees, as long as I sent transaction logs down to their transaction log server in california. It wasn't a bad license, because I didn't particularly care if people saw my "oh, I screwed this fix up for " comments, and it had what appeared to be no sunset, so bitmover couldn't yank the license and leave me -- and my approximately 40 repositories of various open source software projects, dns databases, and web page trees -- in the lurch. It did have the "you sue us, we yank your license" clause, which seemed reasonable, since I had no intention of ever suing bitmover.)

Fast forward a few years. One of the Linux core team, who didn't like the whole idea of Linux depending on a proprietary version control system, reverse engineered the wire formats and wrote some bk extraction scripts. And, when confronted, he -- reasonably, as it turned out -- refused to stop working on those scripts. At which point bitmover did the exploding head dance and said "fine, we're pulling the plug on all the free versions, so there!"

"All the free versions" includes, if the nasty little form letter I just got in the mail, the old versions that just did openlogging (and which had the spiffy little "180 days after the openlogging servers die, the source goes gpl." Not that this would do any good, because it would take legal action to force the gplisation of the source, and that would bring up section 4.4, paragraph 3, which is the "sue us, we yank your license" clause mentioned in the previous paragraph.)

So, in the next 10 days I get to do the exciting job of finding a free version control system (preferably one that doesn't carry around a relational database, and one that doesn't do a cvs-style client/server arrangement where if your server dies, so does all of your revision history) that's got a license that doesn't allow the owner of said license to say "I'm taking my toys and going home!" (the jury is still out on whether the GPL forbids this sort of statement; I remember the FSF having hissy fits when people were linking GPLed code with libraries they didn't personally approve of.)

When I was still on speaking terms with bitmover (that stopped about 4 paragraphs ago), I asked -- begged, even -- if I could get a waiver from the new more restrictive licenses so I could track the newer versions of the software. I never got a reply. And now I get to export approximately 2 million lines of code. It doesn't make me feel better that I've already written code to convert from one version control system to another.

How do you say "this sucks!" in English? Oh, yeah, "this sucks!"

On bloody roads

Read this. Now.

(It's by Avedon Carol, in case you were wondering.)

Pride 2005 , A to Z


Jun 19, 2005

Pride 2005 preview

We all went to the Pride Parade this year (last year we were on the east coast when Pride happened, and the year before that we were on the Love Makes a Family float). I took approximately 300 pictures (I would have taken more, except we used up every memory card we had on hand) of the parade, and will sort through them from Dykes on Bikes to Bears later. But here is one picture, showing the Love Makes a Family playhouse, recovered from our driveway and riding as float #18.

The bears were entranced with the parade, and managed to survive the hour and 20 minutes of the parade without much fuss, muss, or bother (the f,m,&b that they did was when we put sunscreen on them. It was a completely clear and sunny day, so the sunscreen was the only thing separating them from really nasty sunburns, so they had to have it on. They didn't like it at all, but stopped complaining when the parade started.)

1 comment

Impeach the bastard (Father’s day edition)

A SHARP increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war “to put pressure on the regime” was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.

Oh, sure, I'd be happy if Tony "the poodle" Blair was dragged in chains out of #10 Downing Street. but he's a small fish in the world of evil english-speaking thugs. No, the important thing is to drag the Coward in Chief off to jail and make him pay for his crimes.

(quote from the London Times, via King of Zembla)

Jun 18, 2005

Bird Brains

A robin family decided to build a nest on one of our friends' front porch (this is a bl*gsp*t link, so you need to scroll down), and is happily, if nervously, incubating a clutch of eggs there. The bears were doing kids night there, so I pulled out the telephoto lens and took a picture after we'd dropped them off.

I believe that this can be filed under "birds are really really stupid".

Saturday picture dump – Eng!’s that aren’t yellow.

A SD40-2 in the middle of a boring yellow consist of UP engines, south of Brooklyn Yard a few days ago. The little hazy things in the foreground are stickers on the rear window of our Prius -- the bears feel that glass is incomplete without a thick layer of little stickers, and the staff at New Seasons are always happy to assist them in their holy quest.

Saturday picture dump – creepy-crawly edition

This little bee-like fly is what I used to call a sweat bee when I was a kid. There were a few of them flying around the backyard today, ready to be shot, stuffed, and mounted on the weblog.

Jun 17, 2005

Spider picture of the day

This little spider was crawling around on the inside of the screen window in Russell's room. Since I'd been ogling Twisty Faster's spider pictures, I couldn't resist trying to take a picture or twenty of it.

She's a much better photographer than I am. But a good SLR camera makes up for a world of photographer flaws.

[Pentax *istDS/Quantaray 300mm lens, autoeverything except focus]

1 comment

Riddle me this.

Just what do you call a man who cowers in the White House, refusing to let a Democratic Senator deliver a petition?

Just what do you call a man who cowers in his pretend farm, refusing to let a crippled Vietnam veteran deliver a petition?

Just what do you call a man who insists on loyalty oaths as a condition of admittance to presidential speeches?

I'd call him a coward. What would you call him?

(New Evil Party mascot via Jesus' General)

1 comment

But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

When someone makes shit up and lies to the public so he can take a country to war against a crippled opponent, what's the best way to describe the results when he doesn't even plan the war properly?

I'm not blaming the soldiers, make no mistake about that. The Coward in Chief, and the rest of the filthy treasonous B*sh junta, are directly responsible for each and every one of those deaths. Impeach them now, then try the lot of them for high treason.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

All four food groups: Meat, Dairy, Fruits, and Dust Mites.

Jun 16, 2005

Hot Hot Hot Naked Amateur Flower Sex Action!

I've been watching the searches that bring people to TSFR, and, not surprisingly, a lot of them have to do with sex and/or nudie pictures. Why should I argue with fate? I'm sure that this picture of Hot! Hot! Hot! flower sex, with bestiality and naked stamens, is pretty much what all of those people are looking for.

When the next batch of flowers come into bloom, there'll be more from where this comes from, but until then, here's a clipping from an earlier photo shoot.


Another day, another yellow eng

Well, it was dirty enough so that it's more orange than yellow, but that's nothing a little bit of color manipulation won't "fix".

Jun 15, 2005

Trolley freight

I was standing on the bus as it came across the Ross Island Bridge, and I saw a headlight down on the Portland Traction embankment. I grabbed out my camera and took a few quick pictures of this Portland Traction train pulled by EPT #100 before the bus crossed 99E. I was playing with manual focus, so all of the pictures ended up blurry, but this is the least blurry one.

(As a general rule, I prefer manual focus because autofocus tends to get hung up on the wrong thing. In practice, my vision is bad enough so that manually focusing ends up with everyone else getting the same sort of view of the world that I have.)

Bridges and bridges

I'd pulled out the telephoto lense to try and get a picture of the local erupting stratovolcano from the #19 bus as it crossed the Ross Island Bridge. And then I realized that the telephoto lens could be used to take close up pictures of items that weren't 70 miles away, like the Marquam+Hawthorne+Morrison+Burnside+Steel bridges, all piled together as if they were in a large toybox. (warning: the linked image is huge!)

[Pentax *istDS/300mm Quantaray lens/New Flyer lens filter]

Jun 14, 2005

Human rights? Oh, we don’t have time for that – we’re fighting terror.

In Pakistan, there are some really kooky muslim fundamentalists who carry "traditional family values" to a point where the kooky satanic fundamentalists can only dream of going. You've all heard of honor killing, right? Where if some poor woman gets raped, her family gets together and murders her to rid the family of the stain to their reputation (it's like the MPAA rating system; violence is okay, but any icky sex stuff is right out and must be gotten rid of no matter what.) Well, in the frontiers of Pakistan, they've developed an interesting variant; if a man or boy does something that the village disapproves of, the town gets revenge on this by arranging to gang-rape a woman in his household, who is then expected to do the honorable thing and commit suicide.

A year or so ago, Mukhtaran Bibi, of Meerwala, Pakistan, had the misfortune to fall afoul of this odious sort of traditional family value, but rather than committing suicide after being brutally violated, she sicced the law on her rapists, got them tossed into jail, then, after getting some attention in the US press, ended up with enough grant money to start a couple of schools so the children of her village would get enough education to see just how barbaric the local traditional family values are.

Unfortunately, this is in Pakistan, where the government is in thrall to the Taliban. And, apparently, the local branches of the Taliban find this to be beyond the pale. So, in the last week, the government of Pakistan -- at, apparently, the order of president for life Pervez Musharraf -- disappeared Ms. Bibi and freed her rapists.

And what does the Coward in Chief do? Why, he's praising Musharref for his "bold leadership."

Human rights? Shoot, there's a war on; you can't go around destroying morale by implying that gangrapes are wrong.

1 comment

I didn’t realize there was such a strong pro-lynching lobby in New Hampshire.

Texas and Mississippi might be able to make such a claim, but Iowa? New Hampshire? North Dakota? Ohio? Alaska? I suspect that you'd have to do a pretty thorough sweep of the gun and revival shows to find more than a few dozen bigots who wouldn't vote for you just because you voted for a resolution saying "lynching is bad, really, and we're really sorry, in a legally nonbinding way, that the United States turned an approving eye to it up until a few years ago." Is it that these distinguished senators don't want to scare away the anti-gay vote by implying, in any way, shape, or form, that it's wrong to brutally murder people who have the temerity to be different in any way?

Here's a little list of the senators that didn't want to support the recent anti-lynching resolution in the Senate:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Kay Hutchison (R-TX)
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)
George Voinovich (R-OH)

I can't help but notice that, with the notable exception of the dishonorable Stupid Party senator from North Dakota, that each any every one of these is a member of the Evil Party. Never too proud to reach in the gutter for those votes, eh?

(list via Americablog)


Avoiding stress, the American Healthcare™ way

My pitiful excuse for a health insurance plan has, in addition to such cheerful little things as US$30 copays (on doctor's visits that average about $56 dollars a visit), the annoying habit of just looking at the bills and just refusing to pay any bills that happen to bump above what they consider to be reasonable. So when I go into the doctor's office for a physical exam (this is, by any reasonable definition of the term, an office visit, and you'd think, if you looked at the goddamn coverage chart, that it would be covered under the US$30 copay they make me pay for an office visit. Um, no; apparently since a physical exam costs more than US$56, it doesn't count, so I get to eat the whole cost. This is apparently to make sure that people don't get preventative care and thus end up in the emergency room, where the insurance company won't cover bills that cost an order of magnitude or so more.) It's a great scheme if you're one of the executives of a health insurance company; this way you get the whomping huge bonuses for reducing payments, and you can tell your minions to pay for any healthcare charges you might incur yourself. It's not quite so good for the people who have bought into these piece of shit that pretend to be healthplans, but they're just the working class and don't count -- if they'd have wanted good health plans, they should have chosen wealthier parents!

Why do I choose today to mention this ongoing abomination before g-d? Because of the emergency room visit on Saturday, of course; this year I've managed to shovel a bunch of money into my retirement savings, and now I'm looking, thanks to said emergency room visit (which the insurance company won't pay for, because they don't pay for emergency room visits unless they're life-threatening, and since I wasn't actually having a stroke, my visit wasn't life-threatening. I suspect that if it was life threatening and I'd died, the insurance company wouldn't have paid in that case because the insurance policy would lapse upon my death), at having a large chunk of that money dredged away to the pockets of the Catholic Church. (When Silas went into the emergency room a few months ago so they could stitch up his chin after he dove onto a hardwood floor, it cost us $600 to have a nurse superglue his chin shut. I fully expect to receive a US$10,000 bill for the nice little cat scan of my brain, with a little note from the health insurance company saying "Our CEO doesn't pay anything for his monthly cat scan, so US$10,000 is unreasonable" paperclipped on, along with a US$75 bill for the paperclip.

The (what we thought was) horrible health insurance plan we were on a couple of years ago when I was unemployed and we couldn't afford to buy a good one was better than this one. And I work for a big company, one that you might think could actually afford to get good life insurance for its minions, but, no, not in the United States, where the whole idea of healthcare has become perverted into just another way of enriching the parasite class at the expense of everyone else.

And did I mention that the exit instructions from the emergency room suggested that I avoid stress? Oh, hahaha, what a joke that is.

Jun 13, 2005

So, lesse, the Evil Party and their masters want gay people to…

  1. Go away, and/or
  2. wear identifying tags.

Hasn't this already been tried? It didn't work too well that time, either.

(links via Arthur Silber & Americablog)

Without caffeine, life itself is impossible


After my little adventure on Saturday, I've been trying to follow the evil instructions the ER staff gave me until I get in to see a doctor.

Programming without tea (real tea; I've been trying to fake my body out with Twinings decaf english breakfast, and it doesn't work) is, um, difficult. About 2pm, my body decided that it needed caffeine RIGHT NOW, and attempts to thwart those demands has resulted in a general strike against my (still functional, if barely) reasoning abilities. Perhaps it's time to curl up under my desk and take a little nap.


Jun 12, 2005

My, what a pleasant surprise

A few years ago, a new sushi restaurant opened in an old burger joint over in Woodstock -- Tani's Japanese Kitchen, which, one day that we really wanted our ration of Dead! Raw! Fish! and didn't want to wait in the terrifyingly long lines for Saburo's down at the end of the block, we visited, fell immediately in love with, and visited with obsessive regularity up until the horrifying day when we shoveled the bears into the car, drove over to the wrong side of the tracks, and saw the gutted shell of the building.

Well, we thought that was the end of Tani's, and were very sad when we occasionally went by and saw the new commercial building being constructed. One day, when we were over at The Joinery buying a box of scrapwood (US$25 for a box of hardwood odds and ends; mainly 12-18 inch plank ends, which are fairly easy to rip down to small sticks that I can use to build lamps, computer cases, and a variety of other things), we saw a little sign in one of the storefronts of this new building saying Tani's Japanese Kitchen coming soon. This sign stayed up forever, with no appreciable progress on the furnishings of the store inside. A couple of months ago, things started to go in, and the best reported on Friday (just in time for me to end up in the emergency room), that there was now a CLOSED sign up in the window. Today, after Russell graduated from preschool, we drove back to home with a detour to see how it looked. As we drove by, we saw an OPEN sign and there were people inside!!!!.

In case you're wondering, it is possible to do a bootlegger turn with a Toyota Prius. We did it twice; once to turn around so that we could drive by again, and a second time to park because, even though we'd just eaten dinner at the preschool potluck graduation, we were not going to go past Tani's without getting a little something.

Yum! Yum! Yum! Yum! Yum! Yum!

And the staff still recognised us.


Jun 11, 2005

Not the best way to spend my saturday afternoon

Around noon, I started to feel numb all down my right side, so after a quick consultation with my doctor, I was told to trot down to the nearest emergency room just to check things out, not that there might be anything (stroke) that (stroke!) might (stroke!!!) go (stroke!!!!) wrong. At 2pm, I showed up at the emergency room and told the admitting nurse what was wrong. At 2:20, I was brought into a triage room where I told the triage nurse what was wrong. At 2:30, I was escorted to the cozy room illustrated above, and settled in to cool my heels. At ~2:45, another ER nurse came in so I could relate my story once again. At this point, they'd probably decided that I was not having a stroke, so I got to relax until somtime around 3:15, when an ER doctor came in and listened to me describe what was wrong.

At 4pm, another another ER nurse came in and tried to get blood from me, and was quite displeased to discover that I'm extremely needlephobic. The best was along, but kept having to go out into the waiting room because the pedestrians of the apocolypse had come to the hospital with us, and resisted, for the longest time, the suggestion that they go to their grandparents house -- she wasn't there when the needleman came to town, but came back soon thereafter and commented that the blood draw didn't seem to have worked (neither of us knew that this sort of thing was on the menu, so the first thing I knew about it was the "we need to take a blood sample!" request from the nurse, and the first thing she knew about it was when she walked into the room and saw me huddled shaking in the corner. As I said, I'm extremely needlephobic; for some reason, my telling the triage nurse that I'm needlephobic did not seem to actually make it into the ears of any of the other staff.)

By around 4:30, the wheels of the emergency room had rotated far enough for me to be escorted down to one of their catscanner machines, so a tech could take cross-section photos of my brain to make certain that there wasn't a rapidly expanding pool of blood in there. I wasn't mumbling things like "no new taxes!", so nobody thought I actually had a stroke, but they wanted to make sure. The xray cross sections were pretty neat to look at, and I need to figure out if there's a way I can pry the pretty pictures of my brain out of the hands of the medical establishment so all 5 of my readers can see what the crosssection of a healthy brain looks like.

Since the catscanner didn't find any pools of blood, they decided I was healthy enough to be kicked out of the hospital, and after a short lecture on how I should let people take blood samples (does ``extremely needlephobic'' mean different things to different people?), I was released from the emergency room and allowed to return home(ish).

And then a horrible catastrophe happened. The paperwork they gave me on checkout listed a bunch of things I needed to do until my regular doctor could take a look at me. Aside from the ridiculous one of "avoid stress" -- I have children, so "avoid stress" is one of those grim jokes that can be shared over a glass of wine in the evening, the list said, and I sob to even think about it, ....


Sure, there are some other annoying restrictions, like no alcohol, but I'm a computer programmer, so I don't know what I'll do without my morning cup or 20 of tea. I suspect my corporate masters will find my comatose body curled up next to my desk in the middle of monday morning, and they'll be unable to stir me until the sun has had a chance to warm things up a bit (like, oh, around 2pm.) I'm glad that my brain isn't exploding more than normal, but, oh, this is a cruel cruel treatment for my illness.

All don't die. Oh the embarrassment.


Jun 10, 2005

A brief comment about Playmite magazine

When I was doing the June pictoral, I found myself in an interesting situation. I wanted the centerfold picture to look like a Playboy centerfold, but I hadn't the slightest idea what a playboy centerfold actually looked like (I read playboy occasionally in college when I was at a friends apartment playing D&D, but the operative word there was read. I knew that there was some description in a corner of the centerfold, but didn't know just what it was or how it was laid out), so I ended up doing an image search for "playboy centerfold" and finally found one -- the Lena centerfold from 1972, which is famous because it's one of the warhorse images that's been used for computer graphics since the beginning of (computer graphics) time. You'd recognise it, because it's a brown-haired woman, wearing a hat, looking over her naked shoulder (and naked everything else, because it is playboy, but the sample image is severely cropped so you can't see the interesting bits.)

There are a couple of interesting (and by interesting, I mean "appalling") things that I observed during this image search.

  1. Where's the pubic hair? My sample space isn't very large, and it dates from the early 1990s, but when I was sleeping around, the men and women who I had sex with were fully equipped with pubic hair. But if the results of the web search are any indication, the prepubescent look has swept everything before it.
  2. Airbrushes should be licensed, and one of the conditions of the license should be that if you're planning to do nude photography you can't use them. There's just something gross about vast expanses of semi-gloss monocolor, with none of the texture and color variations you'd find on real skin. I'd ask if people find this attractive, but if they didn't, the "airbrushed until it looks like you're wearing 25 pounds of pancake makeup" look would be off in the bizarre fetish ghetto instead of being what every picture that even looks slightly like a playboy centerfold is like. Note that I did not airbrush the june pictoral -- I do have my standards, and sometimes you may even find them.

I don't remember either of these, um, features when I was in college. Perhaps I was actually reading playboy for the articles.

1 comment

Sign me up

Philosorapter is joining the crowd of people predicting that the Evil Party is going to make another run at sanctifying graven images (in the guise of banning flag burning), and suggests that a good prophylactic against this particular judicial abomination before G-d is to set up a national list of people who will promise to start burning flags as soon as this sort of insanely unamerican amendment passes.

Sounds good to me; if the American flag is converted into a graven image, it will no longer be suitable for display, and will need to be burned. Look it up.

(via Magikthise)

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Lance Mannion, in what's either (a) a clever way of bumping up the hits on the collection of lesser-known weblogs that he links to, of (b) a sneaky way of getting nekked pictures, suggested a cheesecake calender composed of pictures of the writers (or lust objects) of the l-k wl's. But, foolishly, he agreed that Hot!Hot!Hot! pictures of creatures like cats and, ahem, Dust Mites, would be acceptable.

Heh, Indeed.


BUST: .3 mm
WAIST: .3 mm
HIPS: .3mm
WEIGHT: approximately 10 micrograms.
AMBITIONS:  To find a nice cozy bed to live in.
TURN-ONS: skin flakes, mold, pollen grains
TURN-OFFS: high altitudes. dry climates
FAVORITE TV:  Friday Dust Mite Blogging™
MY IDEAL MICROBE: One that is fertile.


I’m not sure why people aren’t lined up 3 miles deep trying to get out of this country.

One event occurred earlier. On July 13, 1998, employees of one of the two power-marketing centers in California watched incredulously as the wholesale price of $1 a megawatt hour spiked to $9,999, stayed at that price for four hours, then dropped to a penny. Someone was testing the system to find the limits of market exploitation. This incident was the earliest indication that the people and the state could become victims of fraud. The Sacramento Bee broke the story three years later, on May 6, 2001. [...]

This article makes the not-very-surprising conclusion that the California so-called energy crisis was simply an attempt by connected-to-the-B*sh-junta Evil Party apparatchiks to loot the public purse. yelladog thinks this is terrifying; A decade ago, I would have thought it terrifying, but these days it's hard for me to work up the enthusiasm to even care. Do you think that Cassandra spent her entire life in the throes of despair, watching doom getting closer and closer while everyone around her laughed off her warnings, or do you think that occasionally she just said "told you so!" and just watched everything fall apart with the sort of black amusement only the damned can have?

Remember, the Coward in Chief has had his (gotten in the traditional way; bribes, intimidation, and outright theft) "accountability moment", so (close enough to a) majority of the electorate in the United States wants to be treated like dirt by the gilded classes, and the rest of the electorate is still clapping their heels together and hoping that the chant of "there's no place like home" will get rid of the engines of tyranny which are busily destroying the United States of America.

Well, it's like alcoholism; the addict won't stop destroying themself until they hit bottom, and trying to fix things just makes the wreck worse. And unfortunately the bottom for the United States will be one of two choices; Venezuela (a third-rate power with a gilded upper class and huge slums), or our cities in rubble, our capital occupied, and our leaders hanged. Clapping your heels together won't help with either of those alternatives.

Jun 09, 2005

Railroad picture of the day

A pair of SD600s leaving the Hollywood station westbound on the Gresham-Hillsboro interurban line. The best took this picture from the 39th St. bridge, when she and the bears were returning from the Childrens Rose Festival Parade.

[Nikon Coolpix 4600.]

Volcano picture of the day

Yet another stratovolcano at play

[Pentax *istDS, 300mm lens, colors adjusted with Irfanview;
picture taken from the Ross Island Bridge around 5:30pm]

1 comment

A friendly reminder about where the Prime Minister lives.

There seem to be a lot of people who are coming to pell looking for the downey street memo, when I suspect they are actually looking for the Downing Street Memo. Looking for the Downing Street Memo may get better results.

A picture is worth 1000 words.







"I think we can say categorically we have not campaigned with the United States government or any other government to take any sort of position over Kyoto." -- Nick Thomas, Exxon/Mobil.

How can you tell that a Republican is lying? Their lips are moving.

1 comment

I [heart] Ted Rall

Psst, Democrats, we don’t need a loser party

During a week where it became obvious that Evil Party apparatchiks had "lost" over US$225,000,000 from the state workers compensation fund before the 2004 "election" in Ohio, but the Evil Party Governor of Ohio had just let the matter drop until after the "election" was over, and during a week where the Downing Street Memo started to get noticed by the SCLM, it was pretty fucking stupid to start committing fratricide instead of being an opposition party.

If the Democratic leadership wants to be the loser party, that's all fine and good for them -- I'm sure that the Evil Party will reward them in the way they deserve -- but it's certainly not fine and dandy for what remains of the United States of America. I believe that it's time for me to get a little rubber stamp reading "SUPPORT HOWARD DEAN", and every time the Stupid Party sends me a letter begging for money, I'll just stamp the reply envelope and send it back to them. It probably won't do any good, but I'll feel like it's doing some good while I'm stamping the letter.

Jun 08, 2005

Project of the day week month

A few months ago, we bought a little wooden lawnmower toy for the bears, so they could have something to help mow our lawn with. Since it was a lawnmower, it got left outside a lot in the damp (and often raining) Oregon winter. About four weeks after we got the mower, we discovererd that it wasn't actually all wood, but was instead medium density fiberboard with wooden wheels and handle. We discovered this in the traditional way you discover that something small is made from MDF; one day the lawnmower just fell apart.

Well, the store we'd bought it from had gone out of business, so we couldn't return it. And after spending $10 on the first lawnmower, I didn't really want to spend money to buy another one.

So I made one

This lawnmower is made from the wheels, spinner, and handle from the original lawnmower, a pictureframe from SCRAP, a couple of pieces of oak from The Joinery, and pine planks from a pallet I scavenged from work. It's was a simple (if time-consuming) job of just cutting wood to size, gluing it together, sanding the bejesus out of it, then putting on three coats of fire-engine red paint. If it wasn't for pesky things like needing to wait for paint and glue to dry, and needing to do the work in teeny installments to avoid tiny baby self-detonation, it would have taken me about a day to finish it, but in the reality-based world, it took a bit over a month.

A satisfied customer.

Little House on the Driveway

The Love Makes a Family Pride Parade float house, sitting in our driveway waiting for Pride to roll around again. The roof is starting to look a little worse for wear, but we're just using it as a little playhouse, so a weatherproof roof is not the most essential thing on the planet.

A note for people who got here via a web search for the names of fallen soldiers

You can bypass my liberal views by proceeding directly to my memorial day post.

Jun 07, 2005

You can never have too many bridge pictures

Since I'm not a professional photographer, I need to take my pictures when I can. This one was taken when we came back from a trip to Mount St. Helens, after the Prius had a chance to collect 150 miles worth of road dust and bug splats.

[Pentax *istDS/55mm lens w/ Prius windshield filter]

Railroad picture of the day

SD600 #226, westbound at 3rd and Morrison
A SD600, running on route 100 (Airport MAX) westbound to Beaverton, passes through downtown Portland.

How I’ve been feeling all day

The 2 hour pre-meeting meeting didn't help much, either.

Jun 06, 2005

A gentle reminder to the members of the Democratic Party who are chastising Howard Dean for not being conciliatory towards the Evil Party

(via the Philadelphia Gazette)


Here comes the federal hate amendment!

Now that the Evil Party has the necessary States Rights? Screw Them! ruling from the Supreme Court, care to guess how long it will be before they use that incredibly useful judgment as a blunt instrument to hammer down the only state in the United States that had the moral decency to stop discriminating against same-sex marriage?

When's the next election? 2006? So I guess that the Hate Amendment will be rolled out sometime in August, 2006, because if there's one thing the Evil Party is careful about that's making sure they don't roll out their propaganda campaigns at the wrong time.

Oh, does that mean I won’t need to buy a powerpc to run MacOS?

I just got email from someone at work who stated that Jobs is going to move MacOS to the x86, because there aren't any 3+ghz ppc chips available. That would be, um, interesting, particularly if Apple didn't wedge enough proprietary gunk into their machines to make it impossible to run MacOS on anything but a designed-in-cupertino box.

There are, apparently, buckets of rumors going around about this proposed move, and buckets of commentary by MacOS fanatics who cannot believe that Apple would ever taint their product by compiling it on an X86 box (despite the teeny details that Apple engineers have, at least according to some Apple people I used to know, been going MacOS on x86 projects for about 7 years.)

It would be lovely to be able to keep using the factory case as a workstation and not have to deal with either the unendurable sloth of Linux+KDE+thundereagle or the payola-to-the-GOP taint of Microsoft Windows 2000. So I'm not holding my breath. Much.

UPDATE: It's Twue! It's Twue!

Apple to Use Intel Microprocessors Beginning in 2006

WWDC 2005, SAN FRANCISCO--June 6, 2005--At its Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple® announced plans to deliver models of its Macintosh® computers using Intel microprocessors by this time next year, and to transition all of its Macs to using Intel microprocessors by the end of 2007. Apple previewed a version of its critically acclaimed operating system, Mac OS® X Tiger, running on an Intel-based Mac® to the over 3,800 developers attending CEO Steve Jobs' keynote address. Apple also announced the availability of a Developer Transition Kit, consisting of an Intel-based Mac development system along with preview versions of Apple's software, which will allow developers to prepare versions of their applications which will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.

"Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and looking ahead Intel has the strongest processor roadmap by far," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "It's been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel's technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years."

"We are thrilled to have the world's most innovative personal computer company as a customer," said Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel. "Apple helped found the PC industry and throughout the years has been known for fresh ideas and new approaches. We look forward to providing advanced chip technologies, and to collaborating on new initiatives, to help Apple continue to deliver innovative products for years to come."

"We plan to create future versions of Microsoft Office for the Mac that support both PowerPC and Intel processors," said Roz Ho, general manager of Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit. "We have a strong relationship with Apple and will work closely with them to continue our long tradition of making great applications for a great platform."

"We think this is a really smart move on Apple's part and plan to create future versions of our Creative Suite for Macintosh that support both PowerPC and Intel processors," said Bruce Chizen, CEO of Adobe.

The Developer Transition Kit is available starting today for $999 to all Apple Developer Connection Select and Premier members. Further information for Apple Developer Connection members is available at Intel plans to provide industry leading development tools support for Apple later this year, including the Intel C/C++ Compiler for Apple, Intel Fortran Compiler for Apple, Intel Math Kernel Libraries for Apple and Intel Integrated Performance Primitives for Apple.

Intel (, the world's largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning desktop and notebook computers, OS X operating system, and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital music revolution with its iPod portable music players and iTunes online music store.

It’s Successories™ for the neofascist state!

[Soviet Propaganda]  [American safety poster]

The first poster is from the Soviet Union, during their successful attempt to grasp the spirit of Communism and beat it to death against the walls of a brutal dictatorship. The second poster is from Imperial America; it does mention packages, and it doesn't doesn't have the phone number for the informers hotline, but once John "Death Squads" Negropointe has had a chance to settle in to his new job, they'll release more accurate posters.

The thing I noticed about Imperial America's take on the traditional Soviet propaganda poster is that it's not nearly as good as the Soviet design. There are some pretty clunky pieces of soviet art, but the American propaganda poster just oozes "produced by a company where quality is job 3!" (job 1 and 2 are the now traditional payola to the GOP and overpaying your CEO, of course.) You'd think that it wouldn't break anything to go to one of the various art schools around Baltimore and actually hire some people who have, um, knowledge of how to do a good propaganda poster?

(link to the MARC propaganda poster via Arthur Silber)

Jun 05, 2005

Everyone needs a teddy bear at least once in their life

EPT #100 has been pulling freight trains for Portland Traction and its successor railroads since 1953 (including chores like pushing SP 4449, SP&S 700, and OR&N 197 into Oaks Park, then extracting them several years later so they could be rebuilt and used for excursion train service (including, in the case of SP4449, the American Freedom Train.)) In the middle of last year, it went out of service and was apparently replaced by a new(er) engine -- EPT #802 -- but sometime this spring it was pulled out of the deadline and put back into service.

Today, we were coming back from the Milwaukie Farmers Market, and, as usual, we went through the Milwaukie Industrial Park to see the Eng!'s. Both working engs were out, but the #100 had a little fuzzy friend watching over the front coupler:

EMD SW-1 w/ teddy bear switchman.


On Friday, I took the bears down to Westmoreland Park so they could run around and work up an appetite for the dinner the best offered to make if I'd only get the Pedestrians Of the Apocolypse out of her hair for a while. So we went, and they ran around and played in their ususl hyperactive shrew on crack cocaine way. About 10 minutes into project burn off spare energy, Russell came running over saying that he'd caught a ladybug and that I needed to take a picture of it. I didn't have the telephoto lens on the camera, but I managed to take one picture of his hands just before he said "oh, no, it's flying away" and went chasing off after this poor little beetle.

Today, I took a look at the pictures on the camera, and there's the ladybug, caught just as it was opening its wingcovers and jumping into the air:


Jun 04, 2005

Saturday picture dump

There's a foxglove plant growing up under our front porch.

The neighbor's cat, waiting for someone to come along and pet her.

After careful investigation

I've determined that running Firewombat on Linux (via KDE. I don't use Gn*m*) is at least three times slower than running Firewombat on Windows. Part of it is because Snowlizard is written in C++, using the latest! and Greatest! "object-oriented" coding fads (which seem to mainly guarantee that the code will be 10 times as long and 10 times as slow as code written in the boring old procedural fashion), but part of it seems to be that there's just something slow about Linux. Possibly gcc sucks (this would not surprise me; f2c coupled with gcc used to produce binaries that only ran 2-3% slower than using commercial fortran compilers in the old days, when I ported Schrodinger's PSGVB Jaguar program over to Linux from the big DEC and SGI workstations it was written for, but it's been "improved" quite a bit since then); possibly the Linux kernel is being too damn picky about powersaving and thus runs the C3 at about 100mhz instead of the advertised 533mhz), but it still sucks.

I've got a carcass of an Imac down in the basement, waiting for me to fire up the soldering iron and see if I can attach a PC power supply to it and have it actually generate a signal. Perhaps I'll try to run Linux on that machine instead.

Jun 03, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Ceci n'est pas une acarides de la poussiere

Jun 02, 2005

A googlebomb a day helps keep treason at bay.

Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo Downing Street Memo
Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo Rycroft Memo
George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush George W Bush
Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war Iraq war

(via Yowling From The Fencepost )

Elephant and Boy

Russell greets a symbol of America's new overlords.


Jun 01, 2005

Frontiers of military justice.

It's not one of the all-time favorite ways to represent corruption, but one of the ways that a lot of writers show that the bad guy {police|army} is bad is to have them offer to let a suspect "escape" or order the suspect to search their car (the movie Lone Star has a really good example of the latter), only to then shoot them in the back as a warning to the others.

Imagine my dismay to find out that not only are American soldiers doing stunts like this in Vietnam Iraq, but the military justice system is letting them get away scot free. Now, I'm just a civilian, but I can't see this working out well in the long term; once you've pumped 50 or so bullets, Charlie Wade style, into someone who is searching their car on your orders, it's not likely that any of their friends of family will believe you for one second when you claim you can be their bestest buddies. You see, one of the traditional behaviors of bestest buddies is that they will not empty their guns into your back, no matter whether you're running away or searching your car on their orders.

Reloading, then continuing to shoot, is, of course, right out.

And then when the military gives a pass to this, it's as if they're saying that the new US military policy is to shoot hostages on the street. Given that US military policy already includes okay to torture prisoners to death!, it doesn't seem that widening the rules to include okay to shoot hostages! would make that much difference, but it's not an thought experiment that I'd think anyone would actually want to try.

Yes, I know, it's the fucking B*sh junta; they don't give a damn about the American military, and no doubt get their rocks off finding new ways to demean the people who actually fight (instead of patriotically deserting and waiting for daddy to scrub the military records for you.) But what do they think they'll do when they've broken the army down to the point where units start to mutiny? When it gets to that point, nobody will be left to defend the ruling junta, unless the plan is to have the Air Force nuke anyone who attempts to attack Kennebunkport, ME.

(via Body And Soul)

And this ban will do, um, what?

The state of Illinois is in the throes of passing a law that make it illegal to sell "violent" and sexually explicit videogames to minors, but conveniently leaves it up to the stores to determine which games are too violent or sexually explicit.

Um, hello?

Is this some sort of stupid morality play. where the legislature passes (and the governor signs) some sort of asininely stupid (and probably unconstitutional) legislature, confident that the state Supreme Court will overturn it wjth extreme prejudice, so that they can wrap the flag of protecting the Chiiiiiiiiiildren around their shoulders while being certain that nothing is actually done? Or do they really think that letting the people who run stores that depend on people buying video games from them will take the moral high road and not sell Grand Theft Auto -- Oak Grove! to the unwashed masses in Aurora, Napierville, and Lisle?

A nasty suspicious mind would think that this is an undercover subsidy to the nasty little pretend computer boutiques that you find in suburban shopping malls; the few remaining downtown computer stores may just preemptively belly-up to avoid the lawsuits, while Computer Kitsch and More! will continue blithely selling Ultimate Assassin V -- Kill The Liberals!, knowning full well that their US$500/hr legal staff can put the law down with only 2-3 months of legal fees (which are more than paid for by the indy cred that comes with standing up to the man™) during which time they can get the appropriate restraining orders so they can keep selling the "offensive" computer games.

I suspect that nobody in the Illinois state legislature has read The Prince, so I may be getting a little bit elaborate with my paranoic fantasies here.

(link via Utopian Hell)