This Space for Rent

Sep 30, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

As I was climbing up the stairs
I saw a Dust Mite sitting there

It was sitting there again today

I think it's time to put it away

Fiscal responsibility, GOP style

Problem: A hurricane hits the gulf coast, ripping roofs off thousands of houses.

Solution(1): Have contractors tarp the roofs so the houses won't get ruined before they get the roofs repaired and replaced.

But, no, this is missing something.

Solution(2): Have the government supply the tarps, which contractors can use to tarp the roofs so the houses won't get ruined.

Nooo... It's closer, but there's still something missing here. Something green.

Solution(3): Have the government supply the tarps, which contractors can use to tarp the roofs, and then let them engage in a little bit of profiteering by paying 10 times what the government would normally pay to have them put down a tarp.

To make it even better, some of these contracts were negotiated before Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, so it's obvious that someone was getting ready to reward some Super Secret Pioneers handsomely for supporting the Coward in Chief and the rest of the gang of mobsters who control the United States.

(via Peace, order and good government, eh?)

Sep 29, 2005

Self Portrait of the Artist as a Young Lego

(via feministe)

Life on the river (#6)

Three 8-person shells heading downstream. The picture was taken from the #9 bus as it went across the Ross Island bridge in Portland. I tried to manually focus, but, as I may have mentioned before, I've got terrible eyesight and what may look focussed through the viewfinder does not end up being focussed when the image hits the film.

Signs that gas prices are going up

I ordered some computer hardware to upgrade some of my servers so I could fit more photos onto them, and have been tracking the packages as they creep closer and closer to Portland. Today, I checked the package progress and saw the following:

Package Progress:
Location Activity
Sep 29, 2005
7:45 A.M.
Sep 28, 2005
6:00 A.M.
Sep 26, 2005
9:27 P.M.



I don't pay that close attention to exactly how UPS generally ships things, but I'm much more used to seeing the package hop from sorting center to ON TRUCK to sorting center to ON TRUCK to sorting center to (eventually) DELIVERED. It looks like they just rolled the truck up onto a train, and let the Southern Union Pacific ship it up to Portland instead.

Every cloud has a silver lining

And for the faux-"libertarian"s, that silver lining is that they can blame hurricane Katrina on trolleycars!

The, um, "logic" here is that if the government had given a car (and, presumably, paid the insurance, service, and fuel bills for those car) to every poor person in New Orleans instead of paying for those icky streetcars that New Orleans operates, then nobody would been left in the city when the levees failed and the city flooded.

Oookay. Just think about this for a while. Think about the yearly cost of the 50,000 or so cars that you'd need for the citizens who didn't have them (and it would be considerably more than 50,000 cars; when I lived in New Orleans, we had an elderly sedan that still cost several thousand dollars a year to maintain; if the Feds had come along and said "free cars, gas, insurance, and service for people who use mass transit!", that sedan would have been tipped into a bayou faster than you could say Jack Robinson. The military contractors who somehow manage to get all of the big civil engineering projects in the USA have managed to convert cheap little trolley lines to a moneybag, but US$100 million (50,000 cars @ $2000 a year for insurance+gas+service) a year for government cars pretty rapidly becomes real money, even to the blinkered "Car spending good!" so-called libertarians who infest the United States. And the US600 million to buy those cars in the first place might draw some unwelcome attention by those members of the press who are far enough back in the soma line so they don't get their rations regularly.

And people wonder why I point and laugh at libertarians.

(link to the libertoonian article via By The Bayou)

Christian compassion in action.

Stories are being published about the people who fled coastal towns in Texas as hurricane Rita approached, and they don't paint a pretty picture of the United States:

As they sat outside on folding chairs, having a smoke, they described seeing people on their front lawns glaring at them with shotguns in hand, and pickup trucks with nooses hanging in back (most of the bus passengers were black).The drivers said whenever they tried to stop to rest or let their passengers use the restroom, town officials had court orders waiting for them to get out of town, an assertion those town officials later denied.

Doesn't, um, the Bible have some unkind things to say about this sort of behavior?

(via Body and Soul)

Way to present a unified front, Democrats!

Half of the Democratic Senators voted to appoint the bagman to the USSC. If my family forces me to stay in the American Imperium, I think I'm going to have to become a member of the Evil Party, because not only do they not require that people have experience for the jobs they're appointed to, but they can bully half the "opposition" party into going along with it.

Perhaps I'll mention this the next time the Democratic Party rings me up asking for a contribution.

Sep 28, 2005

There is a god and he loves us all.

  1. Tom Delay has been indicted for criminal conspiracy.
  2. The FEC has launched an insider trading investigation against William Frist.

Sep 27, 2005

Stupid People need a Stupid God (pt 2: kook bait)

A few months ago, I made a little throwaway post about "intelligent design" and the stupid people who believe in it. TSFR is not exactly what you'd call a popular weblog, so the post dropped into the archives without a ripple.

Until today.

One of the neat side-effects of having a statistics bot tracking my website (yes, I should use webalizer, but I'm too lazy to try and wedge it into the maze of logfiles I've got here) is that I get to see the search terms that people use to get to TSFR. I was wasting a few minutes seeing what attracts the casual viewer, and saw the G**gl* search for "People Need God". This was pretty funny, and I was telling the best about this hilarious search when I clicked through to my post.

It had a comment. A comment by a fairly irate "christian" who, despite his inability to read or think, poured out a nice long paragraph of belligerent pseudo-"caring" drivel. After the first sentence, I was laughing too hard to read it clearly, but apparently I'm

  1. A lapsed jew.
  2. Named Arthur.
  3. Who is porn addicted.
  4. Doesn't have a girlfriend.
  5. And woke up one morning and decided to go to hell.

And, to make things better, my kookish commentator (from Virginia. Imagine that.) seems to have learned his evolutionary critiques from a smudged comic book. I cannot do it justice; you need to read the comment yourself to see a fully functional idiot star in (for lack of a better word) action.

Celebrating National Family Day

Russell, Silas, and Dust Mite have a few drinks to celebrate National Family Day.

So, this is rolling up your sleeves and getting involved, Evil Party style

Apparently, the polls are running against the Coward in Chief strongly enough so the inhabitants of Mount Doom on the Potomac are being forced to do something to show they care about the little people. So, what to do?

I know!

Mrs. Maximum Leader Genius will go on a television show and stand around and look decorative while the actors of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition do a charity giveaway. Uhh, okay. So, why show up on a television show instead of doing a Jimmy Carter and helping Habitat for Humanity actually build houses?

Why, it's simple; Habitat for Humanity isn't a television show and doesn't have 15.8 million viewers who the White House thinks will be impressed by Mrs. Maximum Leader Genius when she stands around and looks decorative. And don't forget that Jimmy Carter is a member of the D*m*cr*t*c P*rt*, and supporting something he supports would be considered consorting with the enemy by the mouthbreathers and bible-thumpers who make up the modern Evil Party.

(via No Capital)

It’s not that surprising to find that the party that specializes in acting like the Mafia…

... is also the party that consorts with them.

That month SunCruz [Abramoff's casino group -- ed] made the first of $145,000 in payments to Moscatiello and his daughter. Three checks for $10,000 each were made to his daughter, Jennifer Moscatiello. A fourth check for $115,000 was made to Gran-Sons, a company the Moscatiellos ran. The payments were for catering, consulting and "site inspections," Kidan said in a civil court deposition in 2001.

There is no evidence that any food or drink were provided or that any consulting documents were prepared, according to court documents.

The one degrees of separation between DeLay and the casino group that paid the accused hit-men US$290,000 for "catering", "consulting", and "on-site inspections" is only surprising in that nobody seem to care enough about being found out to hide it.


So, Tony Bliar gave a little speech about how he wants to further modernise Labour. He is now promising to modernise Labour by...

Privatizing government services?
Stripping people of their legal rights?
Gutting the social security system?
Killing off Reforming national health while attacking the unions en passant?
And, of course, continuing the new English tradition of being the Coward in Chief's toady?

Tony the Poodle always keeps his promises!
(Offer not valid if you don't have a summer house in Kennebunkport.)

Sep 26, 2005

This is not the way to convince your children to eat dinner with you

My corporate masters have been sending out email spam shilling some faith-based nonsense called "National Family Day", where the hook appears to be that if you eat dinner with your sproglings, they won't drink, smoke, have sex, or play pool.

Presumably, you'll be having dinner with your children without telling them about this alleged feature, because, if my recollections of my childhood are at all typical, the very last thing your teenage children will want to do is something that will reduce their chances of getting it on. I could just imagine the response to chirpily announcing "we're going to eat dinner at home so you won't be getting it on with MOTASes during afterschool homework hour" would be a teenager-sized chunk of vacumn as your offspring bolts for the door with a hasty "ooops, I forgot to feedthedogpickupmyscienceprojectatschoolwatertheyardputgasinthecar! See you tomorrow!", and that would be the last you'd see of them until their allowances ran out and they had to return to get clean clothes and take a shower.

The children who say "oh, that's (snicker) nice" and stay politely to dinner, well, it's likely that they've already disproven the "National Family Day" theorem.

But, hey, you've got to get your faith-based payola somehow, and if you're a family that will only eat together if it means your children will have less fun, here's your excuse.

Sep 25, 2005

Ob-MeToo: Me Too!

  1. Go into your archive.
  2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
  3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your weblog along with these instructions.

So I wrote a little program to generate them for me.

(I blame 42)

Sep 24, 2005

WARNING: Children At Work

This morning, while we were (slowly, and achingly) getting ready to go out to do errands, the bears were doing a project that involved taping some silverware from the kitchen. At least thats what they said they were doing; we didn't pay much attention, because we were too busy trying to kickstart our central nervous systems, then get ourselves dressed, fed, and out the door.

Tonight, after after putting the tiny sick hyperactive tasmanian devils to bed, we went downstairs to clean up so we wouldn't be faced with a horrible disaster area when we woke up tomorrow morning. We picked up a bushel-basket of loose silverware from the floor (some taped, some not), then looked at the meaningless room fireplace and saw...

Tate Modern, here we come!

Trolley Picture(s) of the day

Today, we all went downtown to do a shoe, brio, and library expedition. Downtowm of course, has trolleycars, and because it's Portland they come out in huge quantities during the day. The old downtown loop from the Gresham interurban now has three different lines running on it (the Gresham/Hillsboro interurban and the two branches to the Portland airport and to the Columbia River), so during the day it begins to look like downtown Toronto, with trolleycars almost every direction you look (Boston, San Francisco, and Philadelphia have frequencies better than this, but all of their streetcar lines are routed in subway through their respective downtowns. New Orleans was like this, but it remains to be seen what the trolley lines will look like when the city pumps itself out and strengthens the levees so that the city won't be a complete sitting duck for the next hurricane season), so I had plenty of opportunities to take pictures of passing cars.

Bait and switch?

Here's the bait:

There is, of course, no way in hell that the Evil Party will strip these deductions out, because there are a lot of suburban Evil Party voters that would have multiple litters of kittens if they couldn't deduct the interest on their McMansions from their federal taxes.

I wonder what the switch will be? Perhaps the fiscally responsible™ counterproposal will be to just stop paying interest on the debt. After all, it's nothing but a big stack of IOUs.

Sep 23, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

A bowl of tasty dust mites (serving size: 1 dust mite)

1 comment

Texas, Hurricanes, and states of emergencies

Texas is a fairly large state. It's over 600 miles across, and not very much of it has Gulf of Mexico frontage. It's also about to be hit by a category 3 or 4 hurricane, most likely just east of Galveston. So, Mount Doom on the Potomac has, just like they did in Louisiana, preemptively declared an emergency. For the entire state. Including the other side of the state, which is, as I may have mentioned, many hundreds of miles away from the Gulf.

I wonder if anyone at Mount Doom ever bothers to look at maps? First they declare an emergency in Louisiana for every non-coastal parish, then they declare an emergency for the Florida Keys, then they declare the entire state of Texas (including the parts that are as far away from the Gulf as, um, Illinois [h/t to Bob Harris for that little bit of information]) as a disaster area. Did the designated disaster planners try to pick counties that might be effected, get confused over and over, then finally punt and just start saying "everything must go!" ? It certainly looks that way; it appears that Louisiana got the same blanket 'your state is now a disaster area' designation, though it will take a stronger mind than mine to look through the Mount Doom website for the rest of the press releases.

I'm so glad the grownups are in charge now. Incompetence is just so refreshing after those eight boring years of peace and prosperity under Clinton.

1 comment

Oh, no, not again (pt 2)

Yes, that's the Industrial Canal in New Orleans. The patched levees have broken again, and the ninth ward is, once again, filling up with water. Maybe FEMA should reassign some of their government prayer squads to go and pray over the canal for a while?

(more of the same via No Capital)

Sep 22, 2005

Still true

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.  -- Benjamin Franklin

(image via Afterthoughts Bumper Stickers)

Rapture, meet bobble. Bobble, Rapture. I’m sure you’ve met before.

Kevin Drum has been given a copy of a book that states that the "singularity" (== the rapture for technogeeks) is going to be here Real! Soon! Now! and that, presumably, we (or at least those of us who will be alive in 2045) should get ready for it now. This rapture book thinks that we will be delivered into the sight of G-d by fairly trivial increases in computing power (approximately a billionfold increase when the book was written, probably only a 500 millionfold increase today.) Well, yes, that would be nice, but there are possibly a few little fleas in the ointment that haven't been considered, and one of them would be "So, where are you going to put that additional heat those processors will generate?"

Hurricane Rita takes advantage of global warming
How about here?

Chip designers are very good at squeezing efficiencies when they roll new chips out, but the general rule is still that as the chips get faster, they get hotter and hungrier. So you get heat both ways; you need heat to generate the electricity to run the chips, and those chips crank out heat when they're running.

Are processors a significant part of global warming today? Probably not. But in a full-fledged Vingean pre-rapture, there will be a lot more highpowered chips running around -- and people aren't going to easily give up the other amenities of life to build and power those chips -- and even assuming we can continue to dodge hurricanes (the US treasury is going to be looted to the tune of US$200 billion post-Katrina, and then the people who live down there are going to have to foot the bill to rebuild on top of that, and the third most intense Atlantic hurricane ever measured is still cheerfully grinding towards the Texas coast, seeing if it can add another US$200 billion to the Evil Party lootathon) there will no doubt be many more Rapture-delaying activities going on while people decide that they'd rather eat than purchase the next round of shiny things that use additional processing power.

I would be sad to see no singularity, just as I would be sad to see no fundamentalist Rapture; getting rid of the libertoonian extropians and kookoo fundamentalists would make earth a much more pleasant place. But to be realistic? They aren't going to happen, because they both pretend that we can just wish away the effects of our activities.

(And, no, I'm not just picking apart this Rapture book because it says that computers are the way to the Promised Land; it's just the whole "we need to keep doing what we've been doing, but more of it" is stupid from top to bottom.)

Sep 21, 2005

That’s the most polite FOAD! I’ve seen in a long time.

The poet Sharon Olds was invited to a fancy dinner at Mount Doom on the Potomac, and Cc:ed The Nation on her letter respectfully declining the dubious honor of dining with the B*sh junta. Now, many people, when confronted with an invitation to Mount Doom, could easily answer with a torrent of abuse for the evil toads who have taken over the country, but it really does take someone who writes poetry for a living to say it in such a way that you think it's actually a complement to be rudely rejected:

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.

(via The Nation, but the link to their webpage is from Pen And Sword)

A little bit of outrage goes a long way

Yesterday, I commented on a claim that the USA was destroying food aid packages coming from the UK. Apparently the USDA (the Mirror reported, possibly inaccurately, that it was the FDA) decided, after a few days of what I can only imagine were fairly tense discussions with the British government, to clear the ration packages for domestic consumption.

So, if you're an American ally, it's still possible to chop through the mighty brainfart field that is now protecting the United States government from the danger of doing anything correctly. Perhaps we should outsource emergency management for hurricane Rita to the MoD?

After all, it probably doesn't break the posse comitatus act if they aren't American soldiers!

(followup story via AboutItAll)

Sep 20, 2005

What about the PCC?

Also authorized was $4 million to TriMet in support of building a prototype streetcar in the United States

How about one of these?

The PCC might be an old design, but it's

  1. more attractive than the angular lines of the Astras or the SD600s
  2. lighter than either of them
  3. A proven design with thousands of the vehicles put into operation in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
  4. Durable; New Jersey operated their fleet of PCCs for fifty years before replacing them with slow and heavy modern cars sometime around 2001.
  5. An easily licensable design (and maybe even royalty-free by now; it's been several decades since a PCC was last built, and I don't think patents have suffered from the Disney effect.)
  6. has a railfan seat.

The only disadvantage I can see about the PCC is that it's not a lowfloor car, and even that might be a surmountable opportunity. Several of the European operations that operate PCCs have also modified them for modern service (Sarajevo, prior to the spectacular disassembly of Yugoslavia, rebuilt some of their ex-Washington PCC cars into articulated units) and there's certainly nothing keeping the City of Portland from taking advantage of Europe not being stupid enough to let their homegrown trolley industry die.

I'd suspect you could take some of that US$4 million to hire a mechanical engineer to design a fishbelly into a standard PCC. Modern electronics are smaller than electronics the PCC was designed for, so you might be able to get away with pushing them outboard of the trucks and leaving a sunken section at the middle of the car.

(hat tip to AboutItAll for the link to the PDF document)

Oh, no, not again

A few weeks ago, I watched with dismay as hurricana Katrina, which started as a smallish category one hurricane, cleared the Florida peninsula and blew up, with amazing speed, into a BHFH (which, distressingly, revealed that, yes, the B*sh Junta doesn't care about anyone who doesn't have a summer house in Kennebunkport.) Well, in the last couple of days, tropical storm hurricane Rita has been threading the needle between the Florida keys and Cuba, and today it started to blow up in the same terrifying way: At midnight, it was a strong tropical storm; this morning, it was a category one hurricane, and it just blew up into a category two hurricane as it started sweeping past the keys.

I expect that the Vogon construction ships will be arriving any day now.

If you described this in a fiction story, the reviewers would laugh you out of the room.

The United State is destroying british food aid for Katrina survivors, because the FDA has determined that it's "unfit for human consumption." This "unfit for human consumption" food is, um, NATO food rations, which, um, can be eaten by American soldiers serving in Europe.

Now, I can certainly see that there's a point in being paranoid about some imported food, particularly after the nasty outbreak of prion disease in the UK several years back, but it might have been somewhat more useful to set forth the restrictions on what food the United States will accept before it was flown across the Atlantic Ocean. But that would make sense, and the B*sh Junta doesn't do sense. It's far better to say "yes, we'll take the food!" and then a day or so later say "but we're going to burn it!", because, heavens, what's the point of being a paranoid superpower if the rest of the world is foolish enough to try and actually help during a natural disaster?

(via No Capitol)

Arr Mate… wait, it isn’t the 19th any more.

No more piratical homepages until next year rolls around.

Sep 19, 2005

And in other news, a poll shows people agree that the sky is blue

The post-Katrina polls are starting to come in, and it appears that some more of the electorate has realized that Maximum Leader Genius is a lying asshole.

But assessments of Bush on the hurricane dipped after the speech: 56% say he has taken steps to help victims mostly for political reasons, not because he cares about them.

I suspect that choosing Karl "Natural Born Scumsucker" Rove to be in charge of the US$200 billion candystore for big Evil Party backers may not have given the impression that the B*sh Junta wanted to give. The stupid press conference in Jackson Square (in what may be the least damaged part of the City of New Orleans -- at least it's the least damaged part that hoi polloi are allowed into) where the whole world got to see the 2005 Parade of Pathetic Excuses was also not one of Karl's greatest hits.

I suspect that, deep inside the bunker at Mount Doom, Karl is offering blood sacrifices for another category five hurricane, just so that the Evil Party can do something other than sit around with their fingers in their noses while the bottom falls out of another part of the Gulf of Mexico. My suspicion is that Karl's hopes for a speedy emergency management regime would be foiled by the teeny detail that DHH and FEMA are completely filled with the incompetent bozos that the B*sh Junta appointed, and even if Karl went in dressed in full bondage year, waving a whip and screaming for action, they'd still dither until the Coward in Chief could be pried out from under his bed and kicked into action.

(poll link via Echidne of the Snakes)

I wonder where they’re going?

The best and the bears were on their way back from my parents house deep inside the Clackamas Curtain, and on the traditional drive past the EPT Eng!s, they saw, and took pictures of, five of these busses sitting on flatcars.

I wonder where they're going, and if they're leased or purchased busses.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

Sure, the unprovoked invasion of Iraq has been a complete disaster where each day brings a trainwreck more spectacular than the last. But, if you're a clever businessman with contacts in the provisional government, one nation's bloody destruction may be your opportunity to achieve wealth beyond your wildest dreams. Where else can you walk off with a cool billion dollars for selling someone US$50 million worth of obsolete military junk? And where else can you pick up an electrical repair contract that doesn't actually require that you do any work aside from forklifting the pallets of money into your getaway truck?

Sure, it's not going to be nearly as profitable as the US$200 billion or so that will be looted from the US treasury after the 2005 hurricane season, but one advantage of having a trade relationship in Iraq is that a nominal processing fee will shield you from any legal penalty for not providing what you contracted to do. And all you need to profit from this is to pay the processing fee, then deposit your soul in the trashbin by the door.

Sacrificing a keyboard to the Canadian press

The Toronto newpaper The Globe And Mail has a little article about the latest laughably (laughably if you happen to be Canadian; it's not quite so fun when you're in the middle of the horrorshow) funny attempt by the fundamentalist kookooheads to institutionalize worship of their too stupid to program a VCR deity.

In effect, just when we were pretty sure that the world was round, we are suddenly confronted with the possibility that it could also be flat. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Good bye, keyboard. It was nice knowing you, but after snorting tea through my nose into you, it's not likely I'm going to be able to repair the damage. And this article has an intelligent design quiz, so you can contribute to the sacrificial pile of keyboards too.

(via they moved to Canada)

I’ve sworn off internet quizzes, but … *oooh, shiny*

(via Brutal Women)

New Code!

Annotations has been pushed up to version This release doesn't fix any of the gaping feature holes in annotations, but does add a necessary postprocessing filter that can be applied to produce html that is pleasing to Our Lord. And just in time for Talk Like A Pirate Day, too.

I am using the bloglikeapirate plugin for Blosxum, with an expanded dictionary pulled in from a wordpress tlap plugin. And when it's no longer the 19th, I'll just pull the filter out, regenerate the pages, and it will be as if nothing has changed.

But is there any documentation, you might ask? Um, well, er, Look, it's a flock of flying turtles! 9-11! 9-11! Stay the course! Wouldn't be prudent!
<sfx: sound of running feet>

Sep 18, 2005

Bears and Steam

After coming up from Cheyenne via California, UP 3985 has been on display in the Union Pacific Albina yard. It's supposed to be leaving next thursday at 8am, so it's not likely that we'll go and see it (it's bad enough being awake at 8am, but to make matters worse both Russell and Silas have school. We'd have to excuse them from school and be awake and up at Albina yard (trying to navigate around the several hundred trainspotters who will be there with bold camera and automobile) to see the engine pull out sometime between 8am and 9am.) So we took today to run up to the yard and take a look at the large steam Eng!. Since Paddington Bear is visiting for the weekend, we had to take him along as well (Dust Mite stayed home), and the three of them posed by 3985's pilot.

Trolley picture of the day

Blue-Red (#004) looks like it's about to go airbourne as it turns across 4th Ave on its way down to Riverplace.

Sep 17, 2005

Big Pink

Big Pink, looming over the Greyhound bus station. Picture taken from under the portico of Union Station yesterday afternoon, just before I tucked my camera safely away and walked out to catch a bus home.

Worth a thousand words

(via Talking Points Memo)

Sep 16, 2005


A student at a college named after a distant relation of mine (and, no, I don't know who; there are approximately a million Parsons in the world, of almost every race, religion, and social class. I can only identify about a dozen Parsons as close relatives, and that's including the dead ones) has developed a spiffy little flash program that draws a, um, something based on the contents of a webpage.

TSFR as organic html

(via Badgerings)

Railroad picture of the day

I went downtown this afternoon to do an errand, and changed busses just south of the interurban line through downtown. A couple of trolleys came by while I was waiting, and of course I took pictures of them as they went by. When an eastbound airport train passed by, I unconsciously panned the camera to follow the lead car across 6th, and this is how it turned out.

There’s a moon in the sky (#2)

The last time I took a picture of the moon, I was depressing the shutter manually and my trembling middle-aged fingers combined unpleasantly with the telephoto lens to make the moon shake all over the sky. This month, I bought a little wireless remote control for the camera, and tonight my pictures of the moon look like pictures of a real planet.

1 comment

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

At Russell's new kindergarden, they have a floating Paddington bear that goes home with a different student every day. Today was our turn, and Russell felt that a stuffed bear needs a little Dust Mite to cuddle with.

Merely a coincidence, I’m sure

It's amazing how power should be restored just in time for the idiot king's entourage to pass, isn't it?

there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans.

Potemkin recoveries, brought to you courtesy of the Evil Party. It's a much better use of your tax dollars than having them be used to prevent national disasters, isn't it?

(via Talking Points Memo)

If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.

Maximum Leader Genius rang the bell for the New Orleans asset rush last night, with unspoken promises of making money beyond the dreams of avarice to his friends and campaign contributers. And, just as an aside, he used his miserable failure to even pretend to mobilize federal assistance as an excuse to, yes, you guessed it, promise to gut the posse comitatus act.

It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces.

Sure it does. And I'd like a pony. If FEMA had done something other than twiddle their thumbs until the Coward in Chief could have his photo op day, then possibly there would have been enough horsepower to clear the city of New Orleans (or even block some of the holes punched in the levees) before the city, and the surrounding parishes, and the parts of Mississippi that got the "global warming light is now on" effect, collapsed into an almost biblical level of despair.

And, for that matter, there were already a military hospital ship in the Gulf of Mexico waiting for orders before it could be sent to the devastated areas to provide assistance, and it had to cool its heels for a week before it could be properly used. "Greater federal authority"? For what? So more military resources could sit on their collective butts and twiddle their thumbs waiting for the idiot king to finish up his vacation and notice that the world is falling apart?

But I'll bet that this will give Maximum Leader Genius even more chances to dress like a South American military dictator than he has right now.

Sep 15, 2005

I’m shocked, shocked to find graft going on here!

The Evil Party has apparently decided that it's not even worth trying to pretend that their disaster relief will be anything other than the now-traditional festival of corruption...

Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort

The one thing you can say for certain here is that not more than $30 billion dollars will actually end up doing reconstruction work; the other $170 billion or so, well, I fully expect that the people who make expensive houses, cars, and airplanes will be doing very well indeed just from sales to the new .com billionaires who work for the usual gang of bloated government contractors.

I wonder how many poor Democrats will discover that government disaster relief does not extend to providing transportation back to Louisiana, because, gosh, everyone (of the little people) has to do belt-tightening in the aftermath of this horrible disaster.

Sep 14, 2005

Time to blame Clinton.

American aviation officials were warned as early as 1998 that Al Qaeda could "seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark," according to previously secret portions of a report prepared last year by the Sept. 11 commission.

I'm sure it was simply forgetfulness that this report was completed in August 2004, but was kept hidden by the B*sh junta until safely after the 2004 "election" was over.

The joys of network migration

Today, I helped move the network connection that connects pell, gehenna, and the company I colocate with from a lowly T-1 over to a 20mbs ethernet line. It did not go smoothly.

We'd pre-planned this migration months ago, and thought we'd told the ISP just what our situation was and what hardware we had and what our network was like, but somewhere between the sales engineers we talked to about our requirements and the NOC that actually had to implement those requirements, a few things got lost in translation. A few things, like, um, understanding how routing works. We started to feel a sort of lingering dread when the technicians told us that we needed to fill out a BGP routing modification form (um, hello? One network connection, remember? "Oh, but you need to fill it out anyway"), which intensified when all of the daytime techs just stopped answering email in the middle of the afternoon, and became an ominous cloud when they started asking about the IP address of "a machine that can accept all of the traffic" (um, hello? we don't have one, remember? That's what we TOLD YOU WHEN ME MADE THE PLANS THREE MONTHS AGO!!! Oh, sorry, was I using my outside voice?).

NOC:"I can ping now."
Orc:"I can't ping the gateway, or any machine outside the network."
NOC:"can we put you on hold?" (10 minute delay) "Oh, we assigned that address to our router... Do you have any IP addresses here that you're using?"
Orc:"Yes, all of them, except <first gateway> and <second gateway>."
NOC:<clickity-click> "can we put you on hold?" (10 minute delay, terminated by ping starting to work)
Orc:"Um, I can ping <first gateway> but I can't ping <second gateway>"
NOC:"yes, because <second gateway> is assigned to the (disconnected, and they knew it because we were switching from that T-1 line to this 20mbs ethernet line -- ed) T-1 router, so I picked a different address."
Orc:(no reply, because I was gaping like a fish)

The technicians at the NOC,thankfully, didn't try to brazen it out, and before the cellphone (yes! there's no telephone in the machine room!) we were using ran out of power and disconnected, they used their telephone lifeline to talk to somewhat less-pimply PFYs, who managed to actually glue the gateways onto their big ethernet router, leaving us with a network connection that could wander out into the ISPs network cloud before running into a reef, filling with water, and sinking. And then I had to bail out and go home to do bear-tending, and by the time I got them to sleep the network was just staggering to its feet and, after a 3 hour outage in the busiest time of the day (but I'm not bitter) it came back to life.

At least I got paid for this. It may even be enough to cover the therapy bills.

I blame Canada

My Political Profile

Overall: 5% Conservative, 95% Liberal
Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

How Liberal / Conservative Are You?

(quiz via Voice in the Wilderness)

Compare and Contrast (pt 9)

Say you're a governor of a southern state that's just been hit by a category 4 hurricane. Perhaps some federal assistance, or even attention, would be in order?

Democratic Governor Evil Party Governor
She says that two days after Katrina, desperate for help, she couldn't get through to Bush and didn't get a callback; hours later, she tried again, and they talked. Barbour hasn't had to wait hours to talk to Bush. In fact, Barbour said in an interview with USA TODAY, the president called him three to four times in the wake of Katrina. "I never called him. He always called me," he said.

It might be excusable if Mississippi had a major city 80% underwater and Louisiana did not, but, alas, this is not the case. And it's not as if the Democratic governor hadn't done the paperwork that gave the feds permission to swoop right in and assist with the recovery. Even knowing that the DHH and their syphilitic minions at FEMA were paying about the same amount of attention (and that would be none, in case you're wondering) to both states, if Maximum Leader Genius could have taken time out of his busy vacation schedule to call his bloated crony in Mississippi three or four times, he could have taken additional time to call Blanco at least once.

But that's not how the Evil Party works. Flooding New Orleans, well, sure, it's icky in that B*sh has to take time out of his vacation to arrange photo ops, but it's an enormous opportunity for a round or two of political opportunism.

Rest assured that, modulo the bloody revolution that various Evil Party hacks have been wanking about since about the time the second airplane was flown into the WTC, the next few elections will be filled up with paens to the "alert response" of the bloated crony and screeds about the "terrible response" of the Democratic governor.

(USAtoday article via Atrios)


Sep 13, 2005

Yup, we’ve got that old racism thing licked now.

Er, maybe not...

We and our NAACP host recorded video statements from two Red Cross volunteers who were concerned about racial discrimination against shelter residents. Their primary complaint was about the unequal allocation of access to goods in the distribution center. It seemed to them that white families were getting preferential access to the donated items at the distribution center. Complaints through Red Cross channels provoked retaliation from the local Red Cross managers.

I'm not extraordinarily pleased that the Red Cross isn't distributing food inside New Orleans city limits (I'm not pleased that the major of New Orleans has a "manditory evacuation" order in place, but is turning a blind eye to the food shipments that are being shipped in to the inbred upper class twits in the Garden District and along St. Charles, but that's a rant for another day), but if there is any truth to this racism and retribution story, I guess that I will not be taking advantage of the matching support my corporate masters offer for contributions to the Red Cross, but will instead give my aid to some relief organization that doesn't use a color test to distribute goods.

(via Lindsay Beyerstein)

One must set the proper priorities

As everyone who hasn't been living in a cave these last two weeks knows, the Gulf Coast was hit by a hurricane on the 29th of August. A lot of attention has been paid to the criminally pathetic response from the federal government (star billing has to go to the B*sh junta cronies who were given patronage jobs running FEMA, but the Coward in Chief gets a honorable mention for conspiracy, neglect, and blowing off the Gulf Coast because he thought fundraisers were more important than seeing if a bunch of states which voted for the Evil Party were in trouble) to the flooding and subsequent human catastrophe in New Orleans, but not quite so much attention has been paid to the shamefully callous reaction to disaster elsewhere on the Gulf Coast.

The Hattiesburg, MS newspaper has a cheerful little story about the federal reaction to the hurricane. After Katrina walked ashore and ploughed north through Mississippi, it left a lot of power lines down, tangled, or otherwise out of commission. So the power companies immediately started trying to get power back. In the town of Collins, just north of Hattiesburg, there are a couple of substations that serve Colonial Pipeline's pipeline from Texas to the Northeast. They don't have power. But many power lines are down and things like hospitals and municipal water supplies don't have power either.

What does the B*sh junta do?

Why, they'd do what you'd expect. To hell with the hospitals and water supplies, we must get the oil pipeline back into service. So, even though Dr. Evil was still trout-fishing in Wyoming or wherever the fuck he was, he was able to contact Washington and have his office call the South Mississippi Electric Power Association and demand that they get the goddamned pumping stations online before anything else.

"I reluctantly agreed to pull half our transmission line crews off other projects and made getting the transmission lines to the Collins substations a priority," Compton said. "Our people were told to work until it was done."

One must have their priorities, after all. If you put the hospitals and water supplies back online, sure, people might not get sick and die, but then you'd cut into the profits of an oil company, and that is just not acceptable in a "grown-up" administration.

(via Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post)

Sep 12, 2005

Oh, sure they will.

A writer for Newsweek, who is either lying or delusional, has written an article about how the flooding of New Orleans means that the Republican agenda of tax cuts, Social Security privatization and slashing government programs is over because the rose-coloured glasses have been ripped from the SCLM's eyes and now they can see and report on the fact that not only does the idiot king have no clothes, but he's screwing your household pets.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the main political impact of Katrina destroying New Orleans is that the Evil Party has had to delay abolishing the estate tax so they can instead aim their powerful slander machine at the (conservative) Democrats they have decided to use as scapegoats. Sure, the Coward in Chief might have poll ratings of something on the order of -10%, but there's no election for over a year, and if there's one thing the Evil Party is good at it's throwing up clouds of chaff to distract the eagle-eyed reporters who work for influential papers and the big media outlets. It may have been mentioned before, but if there's anything the Evil Party is good at, it's taking a miserable failure and converting it into a vote generator -- you might have trouble finding a Democrat who could convert ignoring a warning and thus losing thousands of lives into a campaign plank, but the Evil Party does it all the time. Sure, everyone is horrified that the idiot king fiddled while the gulf coast burned (and it's not just New Orleans, either; the B*sh junta is an equal opportunity ignorer, as the governments of surrounding parishes and counties have already mentioned a few times), but the chaff guns are already going and, ooh, look how shiny the foil is.

Sep 11, 2005

These people were going to die anyway

An article in the Sunday Times (UK) claims that medical staff in New Orleans hospitals had to kill terminally ill patients that they could not evacuate in time.

Would it be placing blame to think that if FEMA, et al, hadn't sat around twiddling their thumbs while waiting for the Coward in Chief to finish doing his important vacation fundraising, they might have been able to shovel enough National Guard troops into the city to be able to better preserve order and, just possible, stop the staff at these evacuated hospitals from having to kill their patients?

(via Suburban Guerrilla)

So, how much of that US$50bn do you think is actually going to be used for disaster aid?

$5? $10? Maybe even as much as $150?

Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Now, it's perfectly possible that the people who run the big asset-stripping companies are just traditional imperialist profiteers and they won't continue to loot the treasury when they're tapped, in the now-traditional show of blatant cronyism, to do "reconstruction" of New Orleans and the Gult Coast. It's also possible that the Coward in Chief will set aside the only thing he does well (and that is getting revenge on people for real or perceived slights) and not screw over every district that's run either by Democrats or people who have questioned his infallibility in all things.

It's also possible that monkeys will fly out of my butt.

I'll bet on the monkeys.

(via Echidne of the Snakes)

It’s 11-September-2005, so it’s time to send a little reminder to George W Bush



Mysterious railroad picture of the day

Portland Traction has acquired a pair of AAR type A trucks and doesn't have anywhere under cover to place them. But there's an easy solution to that problem:

A few pieces of 2x4 and panels from a scrapped 40 foot container, and you're all set to put little metal hats on to protect the traction motors from the elements.

Sep 10, 2005

Meanwhile, back in our splendid little war

Pen and Sword wrote something about the Coward in Chief's aggressive war against Iraq this morning, primarily about how it's dumber than rocks to assume that beefing up the regular army would do, well, anything to make the situation better. The lede to this article was a snippet from a NYTimes article describing payroll problems for the mercenary army that the B*sh junta hired to operate the Baghdad airport. Apparently, they've not been paid for a while. Six months worth of a while, to be precise.

So, they did what you'd expect any heavily armed mercenary army would do in this situation: they shut down the airport. It's only the Baghdad airport, so it's not as if they were cutting off any civilian flights, but there are still military supply flights coming into the airport because it's only about 10 miles away from the Imperial compound in downtown Baghdad. But that's not the interesting part of the article. No, the interesting part of the article is

...The shutdown on Friday nearly led to a standoff between American military forces and Iraqi soldiers when United States forces rushed to the airport to prevent Iraqi troops from taking it over, according to Iraqi officials and the security company....

Remember, Iraq is supposed to have a sovereign government. So if Iraqi troops show up at an airport owned by the Iraqi government, you'd naturally assume that if they wanted the airport they'd get the airport. But, no, the US military comes to the aid of the mercenaries instead.

If it was a satire, it would be pretty funny, but it's the real world. Apparently the "sovereign" Iraqi government is legitimate enough to strip essential civil liberties from half of the people of Iraq (via the so-called Islamic sharia laws), but it's not legitimate enough to be allowed into ports.

A new battleground in the War against the Blue States

Rising oil prices have substantially increased the cost of locomotive diesel fuel and the prices of all other goods and services Amtrak consumes

So Amtrak is planning on discontinuing discount fares on the Northeast Corridor to make up for the rising oil prices, eh?

The Northeast Corridor, for those of you who aren't trainspotters, is electrified, and uses engines like the AEM-7 (an ASEA design built under license by General Motors) and the HHP-8 (a distant relation to the SNCF TGV trainset locomotives), which are, not surprisingly, electric locomotives. As far as I know, the only diesel locomotives that pull passengers on the NE corridor south of NYC are operated by third-party commuter railroads or the occasional long-haul passenger train that operates into Philadelphia. I believe it's the same arrangement north of NYC, but I can't say for certain.

But the one thing that is certain is that electricity prices are not going up nearly as fast as oil prices (and for those newly-privatized railroads in Brazil who just scrapped their electrifications, I'll just point and laugh) and if there are any railroad services in North America that don't have to play the "fuel surcharge or bankruptcy" game, it's the electrified services in the NE Corridor.

But what's the point of overthrowing the government of the United States if you can't play soccer with the heads (and the pocketbooks) of the loyalists afterwards? Profiteering and war crimes are good, but all work and no play makes Dick a dull boy.

Sep 09, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

After searching for a while, we discovered Dust Mite in the closet. Silly dust mite, closets are for clothes, not dust mites and tiny car ferries.

Steam locomotives for lunch

At lunchtime today, I went across the river and spent a hour sitting down by the ex-Southern Pacific mainline, waiting for something to come by.

When I got there, there were no steam engines to be seen, but a freight train was parked on the mainline waiting for clearance to go north. After about half an hour, it tooted, then picked up and ran north towards the UP Albina yards about as fast as it was allowed to go (~40mph, I think.)

I then waited for another half an hour before the (not really a) mallet poked its snoot around the corner leading to Brooklyn Yard. The 3985 wasn't moving nearly as fast as the diesels were moving, so I got a chance to take a few more pictures as it came by.

1 comment


FEMA chief excuse maker Brown has, apparently, been relieved of command and is now on the way back to Washington so he can commit ritual suicide in front of the idiot king.


... if the disarray in Louisiana is because the (Democratic) mayor and the (Democratic) Governor didn't apply, in triplicate, with a #3 pencil, for the right kind of federal assistance, what's the excuse for Biloxi?

Will Governor Barbour be expected to fall in his sword to avoid embarrassing the Coward in Chief?

Sep 08, 2005

I can already tell tomorrow is going to be one of those ultra-productive days

The largest operational steam locomotive in North America is coming up to Portland tomorrow morning, sometime between 10:30 and 3pm. And at 5pm, I get to shut pell and gehenna down so I can help move the office where they're colocated from one floor to another in the same building.

The server shuffle won't be that bad; if we manage to not lose the network connections during the move, Pell and Gehenna should only be out of service for something like 20 minutes while we drag the rack out of one machine room and into another, but the large! articulated! steam! locomotive! will be hitting Portland right in the most productive part of the day, and I'll be out of service for at least a hour when you add up the time to get across the Ross Island bridge to a good photographic location, wait for the train, take the pictures, then return to the office and try to work while still buzzed at the thought of seeing a big steam engine under steam.

1 comment

Why I blame B*sh (hurricane unpreparedness edition)

  1. FEMA Won't Accept Amtrak's Help In Evacuations
  2. FEMA Turns Away Experienced Firefighters
  3. FEMA Turns Back Wal-Mart Supply Trucks
  4. FEMA Prevents Coast Guard From Delivering Diesel Fuel
  5. FEMA Won't Let Red Cross Deliver Food
  6. FEMA Bars Morticians From Entering New Orleans
  7. FEMA Blocks 500-Boat Citizen Flotilla From Delivering Aid
  8. FEMA Fails To Utilize Navy Ship With 600-Bed Hospital On Board
  9. FEMA to Chicago: Send Just One Truck
  10. FEMA Turns Away Generators
  11. FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"
  12. National Guard turned away 4 ambulance jets from Miami
  13. Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA

Brownie, you're doing a great job my lily-white ass!

(Federal Excuse Making Agency hall of fame via liberal penpal)

Trolleys vs. the Religious Right

The Carrollton Street carbarn sits in floodwaters after hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans

Some of the better-known trolley fanatics in the United States are dyed in the wool conservatives of the barking-mad G-duberAlles NoEstateTax Or GayMarriage variety. When they're not out cashing in influence chits, they go out and trainspot, then write letters to their barking mad conservative politican friends insisting that the Evil Party support streetcars in one city or another.

New Orleans has always had a special place in the hearts of lovers of traditional (pre-PCC) streetcars, because that city never bought PCCs but continued to used their fleet of Perley-Thomas streetcars long past the point where every other trolley-using American city had either gone all-PCC or simply abandoned (and then, in some cases, expensively rebuilt) their trolley lines. After New Orleans participated in the traditional post-WW2 killoff of trolley lines (leaving only the first -- Charles St, which first went into service around 1837 -- after the Canal Street line was abandoned in 1964), their remaining 900 series P-T cars operated like a slowly moving trolley museum until the 1980s, when new streetcar lines started to be built.

When Canal Street was reconstructed, the barking-conservative trolley fanatics took some time out from their daily routine of writing nasty letters to the B*sh junta demanding that the junta {outlaw homosexuality|attack Iraq some more|repeal the estate tax|stop funding those nasty cities} to celebrate the completion of the new line. What's a little bit of fund reallocation in the background when you can be happy over a new streetcar line? The Army Corp of Engineers didn't really need that $19 million dollars for levee repairs; the miracle of the free market™ will handle that problem, and, really, it's not as if the city of New Orleans is in a floodplain or anything.

It's not as if New Orleans had the oldest streetcar line in the world, and it's certainly not as important as ensuring that gay people are discriminated against.

Sep 07, 2005

Evil Party lie of the day

(talking points courtesy of Bernie "I fucked two mistresses in a disaster relief apartment next to the World Trade Center!" Kerik)

They knew five days, six days in advance there was a category 5 storm.

This is, of course, a lie. Katrina was a category one hurricane until after it cleared florida (friday) and it exploded into a BHFH on sunday.

The Evil Party has no shame.

I’m having trouble keeping track here. Is judicial activism™ good or bad this week?

The California legislature has passed a bill making same-sex marriage legal in California, and the bill now awaits the governor's approval. The governor of California is, as everyone knows, a member of the Evil Party, which has been busily drumming up support for hate amendments left and right because of the threat of judicial activism thwarting the will of the bigots people.

So you'd expect he'd just sign the bill, right, because it's not judicial activism, but is instead the will of the people?

Go on, pull the other one -- it's got bells on.

No, no, no, the governor of California is making noises that he's going to veto this bill because he believes that it belongs before the courts.

The mind, it does not boggle, because this sort of rhetorical gymnastics is about as close to "governing" as the Evil Party is capable of getting.

Sep 06, 2005

FEMA, renamed

Emergency Management does not seem to be very high on that agency's to do list, so I will henceforth refer to FEMA by its proper name: the Federal Excuse Making Agency.

What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong

The Coward in Chief claims he's on the warpath and he's going to find out what went wrong and fix it.

He could start by firing this idiot:

Oh dear.

I hope that this is merely a generous estimate to avoid having rotting bodies pile up around mortuaries, but jesus fucking christ, these are the sorts of numbers nobody ever wants to see even as an estimate.

DMort is telling us to expect up to 40,000 bodies," Dan Buckner said, quoting officials with the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a volunteer arm of Homeland Security.

Where are the mass resignations and/or firings? Why does any of the senior FEMA and DHH management still have a job? Oh, that's right, they've "done a fine job" and the B*sh junta doesn't want to worry about who killed who because it's supposed to be a happy occasion.

(via Echidne)

Sep 05, 2005

The joys of the American Healthcare System, pt 4 – the bills just keep on coming

One of the things I thought would get better when -- after ~2.5 years of unemployment courtesy of the magnificent B*sh economy -- I got a job was the state of my healthcare. The first straw of doubt came when I looked at the healthplans that my v. large corporate masters offered, and realized that the choice was either (a) Kaiser or (b) large deductables for the chance of keeping our family doctor. The second straw of doubt came when I discovered that the $30 copays and ~$15/$25 "we're not going to pay this, so you get to eat it" charges per doctos visit didn't count against the deductable. The latest straw (which will probably result in my yanking the healthplan and going to Kaiser [this is by far the worst choice; my preferred choice, which involves a Vancouver BC address, kissing the ground when we clear customs, and a ceremonial shredding of US Passports after taking the oaths to become Canadian citizens, requires a unanimous vote of the Chateau Chaos electorate, and so far the last few votes are proving to be an elusive target) resulted from an emergency room visit and a subsequent MRI appointment. These things, as you can imagine, are very expensive, and there are approximately 1000 doctors, specialists, technicians, and mechanics who need to get their goddamn pound of flesh once you're stupid enough to go along with your primary care physician's suggestion of "well, I don't know what's wrong with you, so you'd better have <hideously expensive boutique machine> take a look at you" (and, naturally, it found nothing aside from an insufficiently empty bank account.)

The billing for this round of tests is somewhat like clowns popping out of a circus car, and it was about the fourth or fifth round of bills when I finally started adding things up and realized that I'm ending up paying approximately $2200 of my $1025 deductable for this round of increasingly expensive tests that have proven nothing aside from me being perfectly healthy aside from high blood pressure that's probably due to stress. About the only effect my stupid health insurance appears to be having is that the various clinics that own these big expensive brain-scanning machines will knock thousands of dollars off their regular "you don't have insurance? Boy, it sucks to be you!" bills, leaving me with, um, thousands of dollars of bill that the insurance company feed through their "You expected to have your insurance company pay for this procedure?" payment rejection scheme.

The best part, so far, was going into a local branch of the hospital that is actually providing the health insurance to the insurance policy wholesaler that sells it to my corporate masters for a procedure which is then billed as "out of network", because that hospital is apparently not part of the health insurance network that that hospital has set up.

I'm just waiting for the time when something actually goes wrong; I figure the $1025 deductable will actually kick in about the time that we've relocated from (what used to be before the court seized it for hospital bills and court costs) our house into more spacious, but unheated and drafty, quarters under the I-5 bridge.

Beauty is only skin deep, but

... evil goes all the way to the bone. In today's episode of Evil on Parade, Barbara Bush displays the distilled essence of malice that has made her the star of a million scary stories told around campfires.

And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this (she chuckles slightly)--this is working very well for them.

I begin to understand why so many revolutionary movements go out and slaughter all the rich people they can find as soon as they win their "popular revolution".

(via Atrios)

1 comment

Sep 04, 2005

I don’t think so, Cisco.

The bigots cheered when New Orleans was flooded, because they thought that would drive the fags out of the city. "...New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites..." was what the loathesome toads at the American Family Association chirped when they took a break from their frantic masturbation over the thought of a pasty-white heterosexual New Orleans.

Think again, motherfuckers!

Candice Jameson, left, 21, and Robin Cates, 23, prepare to participate in the Decadence Parade through the historic French Quarter in New Orleans, La., Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005. The Decadence Parade is an annual gay celebration event.

(photo and caption credit: The New Orleans Times-Picayune)


Carferry, painted

The carferry project is now officially finished with the application of several coats of paint to make it look more like a boat. There's also a new smokestack (carved from a stick of palletwood), because the other one broke off soon after completion.

Louisiana didn’t ask for assistance before the hurricane? That’s a lie.

  1. For Immediate Release
    Office of the Press Secretary
    August 27, 2005

    Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana

    The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing.

    The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, West Feliciana, and Winn.

    Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

    Representing FEMA, Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Homeland Security, named William Lokey as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.


Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on the 29th.

And what has FEMA actually done?

  1. Three quick examples. We had Wal-mart deliver three trucks of water. Trailer trucks of water. Fema turned them back, said we didn't need them. This was a week go. We had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a coast guard vessel docked in my parish. The coast guard said come get the fuel right way. When we got there with our trucks, they got a word, FEMA says don't give you the fuel. Yesterday, yesterday, fema comes in and cuts all our emergency communications lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in. he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards said no one is getting near these lines.
  2. Refused to allow the Red Cross into New Orleans
  3. faked levee repairs for a photo-op (this may simply be Karl Rove, but see the WH press release on 27-August-2005).
  4. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard on Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday.

When Florida got hit with hurricanes last fall, FEMA was moving in supplies and cutting checks within 48 hours of the hurricane making landfall.

(via Atrios, et al.)

1 comment

Sep 03, 2005

Yes, it’s a potemkin aid project, courtesy of the Evil Party

There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.

Worst president ever? Yes, but that's not emphatic enough.

(via War and Piece)

File under ‘Cake, Icing on the’

Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist has died.

RIP, Justice Rehnquist.

(via Bitch, Ph.D)

1 comment

I’d like to say I’m surprised, but, no, this is pretty much what I expected

From a press release that Senator Mary Landrieu sent out today:

...Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment...

Boy, I am so not surprised to hear this.

(via Americablog)

Project of the week – The Go Big Red Fan

A couple of months ago, a couple of students moved out of their house up the block, and before they left they had several yard sales, then finally left the unsold junk sitting on their front lawn with a "FREE" sign. This attracted quite a few people, including, of course, the occupants of Chateau Chaos. There wasn't much to find, but we picked out a chair without a seat (which will be a replacement project fairly soon) and a broken metal and plastic oscillating fan. (The fan wasn't completely broken, but it disintegrated soon after arriving home.)

The fan sat in the back porch for about a month, then I dragged it down into the basement, stripped it down to the motor, the fan blades, and the controls, then (over the course of a month) built a wooden frame, mounted the motor into the frame, painted the frame red, and screened in the front.

No chainsaws were harmed, or even touched, during the construction of this fan. But a pallet sacrificed its life to building the frame, more of the stupid room was used to build the box to fit around the motor, and I gave in and bounght a roll of windowscreening so cover the front and back of the box (the screen isn't in the back yet because I wanted to be able to take a picture that showed the insides of the box.

One of the side effects of it being a cheapy oscillating fan is that it doesn't move as much air as a store-bought box fan. But it looks a lot nicer, if you're into making things out of pallet wood (no, there are no flourescent tubes inside the box. At least not yet. But Big Wheel is satisfied with this offering just as it stands.)

And the hits just keep on coming

When did the Governor of New Mexico offer national guard support to Louisiana for the hurricane? Last Sunday, before the hurricane hit.

When did the Governor of Louisiana accept this offer of national guard support? Wednesday? Thursday? Nope. She accepted the offer last sunday.

When did the lickspittle lackeys of the B*sh junta give the OK for the New Mexico national guard to go to Louisiana and help? THURSDAY -- three days after the hurricane hit and after the levees failed.

I just can't wait to see the excuse the B*sh apologists come up with here.

The Evil Party – making the government lean and efficient.

So efficient, it seems, that they not only can't figure out how to dump sandbags into a broken levee (the latest excuse appears to be "we needed special pulleys; we didn't have them, so we went and did something else"), but they (fortunately) couldn't stop a local contractor from driving to the mouth of the 17th St Canal and blocking it with steel pilings.

But they're really efficient at trying to whip up stories to explain why the Coward in Chief took four days to fly to Mississippi to have photo-ops with carefully screened victims of the hurricane.

So what if a few hundred thousand black Kerry voters die? They're not real people, afterall; if they'd prepared properly for the hurricane by being white and having summer homes in Kennebunkport, Maine, why, it would have made all the difference in the world.

I suspect someone at the Corps of Engineers just had his career end, because he didn't stop the Boh Bros. trucks from getting to the mouth of the canal, plugging it up, and thus embarrassing the B*sh junta.

1 comment

there’s a lot of aid surging toward those who have been affected

That's what the Coward in Chief is saying.

But what he isn't saying out loud is "But we're not allowing it to get into New Orleans!" Because they aren't -- if you're giving money to the American Red Cross hoping that it will go to the people who are dying in the new Black Hole of New Orleans, well, the fucking United States government is refusing to let the Red Cross into the city.

Our goddamn tax dollars at waste. Not only does the B*sh junta loot the treasury (including the money that was earmarked to fix the levees that failed on Monday) to enrich their good friends at Halliburton, but they spend the leftovers to ensure that the money we donate to charitable organisations cannot be used to save the lives of the people who are dying in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

Damn them. Damn them to hell and back again.

Sep 02, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Russell, Silas, and Dust Mite share a simple evening snack at Russell's handmade table.

Compare and Contrast (pt 8, courtesy of CNN)

In the just what are they smoking department, CNN has published an article comparing statements of federal "disaster relief" officials with statements by people who are actually in New Orleans. I've reformatted it for ease of comparison, but all of the quotes are from the cnn article.

Conditions in the Convention Center
FEMA chief Brown: We learned about that (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need.
  • Mayor Nagin: The convention center is unsanitary and unsafe, and we are running out of supplies for the 15,000 to 20,000 people.
  • CNN Producer Kim Segal: It was chaos. There was nobody there, nobody in charge. And there was nobody giving even water. The children, you should see them, they're all just in tears. There are sick people. We saw... people who are dying in front of you.
  • Evacuee Raymond Cooper: Sir, you've got about 3,000 people here in this -- in the Convention Center right now. They're hungry. Don't have any food. We were told two-and-a-half days ago to make our way to the Superdome or the Convention Center by our mayor. And which when we got here, was no one to tell us what to do, no one to direct us, no authority figure.
Uncollected corpses
Brown: That's not been reported to me, so I'm not going to comment. Until I actually get a report from my teams that say, "We have bodies located here or there," I'm just not going to speculate.
  • Segal: We saw one body. A person is in a wheelchair and someone had pushed (her) off to the side and draped just like a blanket over this person in the wheelchair. And then there is another body next to that. There were others they were willing to show us.
  • Evacuee Cooper: They had a couple of policemen out here, sir, about six or seven policemen told me directly, when I went to tell them, hey, man, you got bodies in there. You got two old ladies that just passed, just had died, people dragging the bodies into little corners. One guy -- that's how I found out. The guy had actually, hey, man, anybody sleeping over here? I'm like, no. He dragged two bodies in there. Now you just -- I just found out there was a lady and an old man, the lady went to nudge him. He's dead.
Hospital evacuations
Brown: I've just learned today that we ... are in the process of completing the evacuations of the hospitals, that those are going very well.
  • CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta: It's gruesome. I guess that is the best word for it. If you think about a hospital, for example, the morgue is in the basement, and the basement is completely flooded. So you can just imagine the scene down there. But when patients die in the hospital, there is no place to put them, so they're in the stairwells. It is one of the most unbelievable situations I've seen as a doctor, certainly as a journalist as well. There is no electricity. There is no water. There's over 200 patients still here remaining. ...We found our way in through a chopper and had to land at a landing strip and then take a boat. And it is exactly ... where the boat was traveling where the snipers opened fire yesterday, halting all the evacuations.
  • Dr. Matthew Bellew, Charity Hospital: We still have 200 patients in this hospital, many of them needing care that they just can't get. The conditions are such that it's very dangerous for the patients. Just about all the patients in our services had fevers. Our toilets are overflowing. They are filled with stool and urine. And the smell, if you can imagine, is so bad, you know, many of us had gagging and some people even threw up. It's pretty rough.
Violence and civil unrest
Brown: I've had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they're banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I've had no reports of that. CNN's Chris Lawrence: From here and from talking to the police officers, they're losing control of the city. We're now standing on the roof of one of the police stations. The police officers came by and told us in very, very strong terms it wasn't safe to be out on the street.
The federal response
  • Brown: Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.
  • Homeland Security Director Chertoff: Now, of course, a critical element of what we're doing is the process of evacuation and securing New Orleans and other areas that are afflicted. And here the Department of Defense has performed magnificently, as has the National Guard, in bringing enormous resources and capabilities to bear in the areas that are suffering.
  • Crowd chanting outside the Convention Center: We want help.
  • Nagin: They don't have a clue what's going on down there.
  • Phyllis Petrich, a tourist stranded at the Ritz-Carlton: They are invisible. We have no idea where they are. We hear bits and pieces that the National Guard is around, but where? We have not seen them. We have not seen FEMA officials. We have seen no one.
  • Brown: I actually think the security is pretty darn good. There's some really bad people out there that are causing some problems, and it seems to me that every time a bad person wants to scream of cause a problem, there's somebody there with a camera to stick it in their face.
  • Chertoff: In addition to local law enforcement, we have 2,800 National Guard in New Orleans as we speak today. One thousand four hundred additional National Guard military police trained soldiers will be arriving every day: 1,400 today, 1,400 tomorrow and 1,400 the next day.
  • Nagin: I continue to hear that troops are on the way, but we are still protecting the city with only 1,500 New Orleans police officers, an additional 300 law enforcement personnel, 250 National Guard troops, and other military personnel who are primarily focused on evacuation.
  • Lawrence: The police are very, very tense right now. They're literally riding around, full assault weapons, full tactical gear, in pickup trucks. Five, six, seven, eight officers. It is a very tense situation here.

(via Echidne of the Snakes)

1 comment

And I thought I was cynical

(Jack) Cafferty: Do you suppose, Wolf, that the arrival of the relief convoys and the political photo ops on the Gulf Coast happening at the same time were a coincidence today?

And on network television, too. Boy, compared to this I have almost Canadian levels of trust in other people.

Economic thought for the day

New Orleans is the largest seaport in the United States.

And it's closed.

Sep 01, 2005

New Orleans joys

The last time I went back to New Orleans was in late August, 2001, returning to Portland on the 3rd of September. While we were there, we stayed in a biggish hotel on the east side of the Vieux Carre (a couple of blocks east of Jackson Square; I don't remember the name, but I suspect that it won't go out of business unless a second hurricane delivers the coup de grace to the Crescent City), rode streetcars, walked around the Vieux Carre and the Garden District (successfully finding the ratty little bungalow that I rented with my brother Stephen), rode more streetcars, visited the Audubon Park Zoo, and ate and ate and ate.

We didn't take too many pictures (I had a Kodak DC290 then, and it had a distressing habit of taking 2-3 pictures happily, then shutting down for 45 seconds while it s-l-o-w-l-y copied them to the memory card), and most of those pictures were of streetcars:

When I left New Orleans, the Riverfront line was still (a) new and (b) narrow gauge. I followed the continued development of the streetcar network, and was quite pleased to see one of the new faux Perley-Thomas cars doing a demonstration shuttle on the Canal Street stub (the Canal line was still being rebuilt when we visited, which was just as well because I would have had us ride it, deadlines and plane flights be damned. Now, of course, the line is built, but the end near Carrollton is under several feet of water, making it pretty damn useless even if there was electrical power to run the cars.)

The Riverfront line was still running (of course), and was now standard streetcar gauge, so cars could run onto Canal and even up St Charles if they needed repairs in the main carbarn on Carrollton St. We didn't manage to actually ride it (the only cars I've ridden on the Riverfront line were the ex-Melbourne W2s that they used while the line was still narrow gauge) but I got a couple of pictures of cars down by Canal Street.

When we went to the Audubon Park Zoo, we took a streetcar and walked down towards the Mississippi, partially through the park and partially on the streets flanking the park. But on the way back, we took the Audubon Park to Canal Street ferryboat, and (after going through a spectacular rainstorm) spotted a couple of New Orleans Public Belt locomotives going about their daily routine of switching all the businesses and warehouses along the Mississippi River. It was still drizzling, so I didn't go out on the deck to take a picture, but even so you can sort of see the little engines sitting there.

And, of course, what trip is complete without Russell going native and playing dressup? After visiting for New Orleans, we went into darkest Mississippi to visit the Mississippi contigent of the family, and while we were there Russell decided to try on as many Mardi Gras beads as he could carry. Note the absence of alligators, snakes, and a foot of mud in the living room here; this absence continued past hurricane Katrina to this very day.

The occasional miracle breaks through the gloom.

After being reported missing, then dead, then missing, Fats Domino (or a picture of him) has been found, alive, emerging from a rescue boat after being plucked out of his rapidly submerging house in the 9th ward of New Orleans.

(via a commenter here)

Compassion, evil party style.

It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said of federal assistance for hurricane-devastated New Orleans.

The amazing thing about this is not that a Evil Party mouthpiece said this. No, the amazing thing about this is that Louisiana voted for the Evil Party in the last "election" and this is the thanks they get for it. Is the Evil Party insane? Well, okay, yes they are.

(via WWL, New Orleans)


Abandoning New Orleans

I don't think I really have the vocabulary for this situation.

We just heard a couple of gunshots go off. There's a building smoldering a block away. People are picking through whatever is left in the stores right now. They are walking the streets because they have nowhere else to go.

Right now, I'm a few blocks away from the New Orleans Convention Center area. We drove through there earlier, and it was unbelievable. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people spent the night sleeping on the street, on the sidewalk, on the median.

The convention center is a place that people were told to go to because it would be safe. In fact, it is a scene of anarchy.

There is absolutely nobody in control. There is no National Guard, no police, no information to be had.

The convention center is next to the Mississippi River. Many people who are sleeping there feel that a boat is going to come and get them. Or they think a bus is going to come. But no buses have come. No boats have come. They think water is going come. No water has come. And they have no food.


The B*sh junta keeps claiming that they're supplying aid, but the news from the ground doesn't seem to confirm that. The United States does have a National Guard, and and Army, and one would think that restoring order and providing aid to a demolished city might possibly be part of their job description; the stories of National Guard troops not being allowed into the city because it's in civil disorder seems to indicate that there aren't nearly enough soldiers to do more than be picked off by the mobs. Why aren't 50,000 troops on their way to New Orleans now? Why aren't boats making resupply runs down the Mississippi from Baton Rouge? What is going on here (aside from shoe-shopping and guitar playing by the obviously unconcerned B*sh junta) ?

Bush Junta moral values

The reporter said that she had been there four days. She said she has heard about all the provisions that the federal government had rushed to the scene, but says that she and her crew have not seen any of it. Nothing. People are dying there. They are begging for help.

It's not just Iraq; the fucking B*sh junta doesn't give a rats ass about catastrophes in the United States if they can't use them as propaganda tools.

One of these is not like the others

"If enough water from Lake Pontchartrain topped the levee system along its south shore, the result would be apocalyptic" (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 2004)

(A category 4 or 5 hurricane) "...plowing over the lake, could generate a 20-foot surge that would easily overwhelm the levees of New Orleans..." (Chris Mooney, May 2005)

"Boy, I thought, it would really suck if the seawalls failed" (Me, late Sunday night)

"I put the odds of New Orleans getting its levees breached and the city submerged at about 70%" (Jeff Masters, Sunday morning, right after Katrina blew up into the BHFH)

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." (Maximum Leader Genius, on a stupid TV talk show, 1-Sep-2005)

(Coward-in-Chief quote via Echidne)