This Space for Rent

Jul 30, 2007

Railroad picture of the day

UP 1087 runs light towards Brooklyn Yard

Yellow Menace SW1500 #1087 crosses over Powell street on its way to Brooklyn Yard at around 5:20pm on July 30, 2007

Jul 29, 2007

Progressive, eh? No, I don’t think so.

...Mr. Schumer has been busy with hedge fund and private equity managers, an important part of his constituency in New York. He has been reassuring them that he will resist an effort led by members of his own party to single out the industry with a plan that would more than double the taxes on the enormous profits reaped by its executives.

(--the New York Times)

Now, I could see some merit to this position if the parasitic class that operates the big hedge funds was actually paying the same tax rate as everyone else, but they aren't. They're paying much less than pretty much anyone who earns a paycheck and files a tax return. So when I see "double the taxes", I read "remove a tasty and wildly unfair tax shelter", and when I see "resist the effort" I read "reassures his plutocratic friends that he is actually a member of the Evil Party despite the (S) suffix on his Senatorial nametag."

[Schumer] has regularly portrayed himself as a progressive politician who identifies with the struggles of the middle class and is sharply critical of the selfish “plutocrats” who he says control the Republican Party.

Sharply critical because those plutocrats haven't given him a seat at the great asset-stripping party, no doubt.

As a matter of idle curiosity, just what differentiates his desired fiscal policy from the Evil Party fiscal policy? The Evil Party will bloviate for days about how taxes are theft and they should be "returned" to the taxpayer, but when it gets right down to it they'll fight like grim death to ensure that only the upper class will get any sort of benefit out of their laughably biased "tax relief" scams. Schumer's desired fiscal policy appears to be bloviating for days about how it's Unfair! that the middle class is taking it on the chin, but when it gets right down to it he'll fight like grim death to ensure that the middle class keeps taking it on the chin.

That's breathtakingly Republican of him. Which is, I'm sure, the whole point; if he was actually a populist instead of a member of the parasitic class, he'd not be getting those multi-million dollar cheques to help with his re-election campaign.

This is not the sort of thing that makes me want to open my pocketbook so I can help out the “don't filibuster either bagman, don't press to impeach the Coward in Chief, and allow the B*sh junta to hold the US Armed forces hostage” party.

I believe I'll be voting a straight SPUSA ticket next election. At least they don't have to worry about the clumsy seduction techniques of a bunch of slimy used car salesmen in bespoke suits.

(-- via Kevin Drum)


A sense of entitlement (feline version)

two cats in the kitchen window

Our cats see nothing wrong with climbing up on the kitchen counters so they can park themselves in the windows. Who needs a sanitary kitchen, anyway?


Trolley photo of the day

A northbound pair of SD-600s slow as they go around the curve just south of the Russell St. station.


Now that’s an interesting looking bee

I don't think this little bee is actually a honeybee; it's a lot hairier than the usual honeybee, and it's got so much pollen on its legs that I don't think a honeybee could actually fly with it. But what is it?


Honeybee Action Photos!

a fying honeybee another one another picture of the second bee an a fourth as it ducks into cover

Jul 28, 2007

Life on the river (#20)

A dredge, a tugboat, a floating boom, and a flagboat make an aquatic parade going up the Willamette River around 1:45 friday afternoon.

3 comments


requiescat in pace

Anderson, Nancy "Cyli" Age 68 of Eagan died July 24, 2007. She was the minnow queen of the St. Croix. Preceded in death by parents, Harvey and Sarah Buckner and daughter, Skye. Survived by husband, Joseph; daughters, Sarah (Jim) Diebel and Leah (Tim) Gilgenbach; grandchildren, Elise and Jessa Diebel and Brett Anderson and many other relatives and friends.

(obituary in the (Minneapolis/St. Paul) Pioneer Press)

I was a friend of Nancy's years and years ago, during the glory days of the Twin Cities {Cit,C86,ST}adels. It's a bit of a shock to read that she's gone.

(sad news via James Nicoll)


My, what a spectacularly selfish way to be unselfish

At Gavin Brown’s 4th birthday party, the usual detritus lined the edges of the backyard: sippy cups, sunscreen, water shoes, stuffed animals. There were 44 guests and as many buns on the grill, in addition to an elaborate ice cream cake adorned with a fire truck. For the adults, there was sangria and savory corn salsa.

Glenn Johnson lifted his daughter Mia, 3, up to drop money into the donation box.

But the only gift in sight was a little red Matchbox hook and ladder rig. All the bounty from Gavin’s birthday -- $240 in checks and cash collected in a red box next to a plastic fire helmet -- went to the Cranford Fire Department.

(--the NY Times)

The idea is good. Cut back on the more conspicuous consumption parts of a birthday party and give the money to a good cause. But. 44 guests? For a 4 year old's birthday party? And no presents?

"We're going to teach you to be unselfish by holding a BIG PARTY instead of giving you presents for your birthday. And that way WE get to enjoy the excess while you don't!"

Aaargh.

Witness, perhaps, the first hyper-parenting trend that does not reek of wanton excess.

(--the same NYTimes article)

Pfft. 44 people at a 4 year old's birthday party is wanton excess. It's not just that, it's mean wanton excess.

If you're going to be unselfish, hold a smaller party. Don't just redirect the (hypothetical) savings from presents over to food and drink for a big old barbeque. If you really really want to teach your child about how to act morally, let them help decide how you're going to distribute your yearly tithe. That way you're not just saying "we're taking YOUR presents, giving them to someone else, and having a nice adult party while we're doing it!", you're saying "we're sharing OUR money, and the sacrifice comes equally from all of us."

Children are naturally generous. They don't need to be forced. If your family has an open tradition of sharing, your children will learn to share without being prodded into it.

(-- via The Best)

2 comments

Jul 27, 2007

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Zzzzz
Mavis and Dust Mite take an afternoon nap.


Oh, no, not more bumblebee pictures!

Either (a) I should get a longer fast zoom, or (b) I need to climb over the chainlink fence at the 1st and Arthur bus stop so I can get closer to the bumblebee bar and grill. There's less stinging with (a), so [after I win the lottery] I believe I should go shopping for more zoom macro action(tm).

Jul 26, 2007

Apparently I’m not the only one who’s noticed this Linux feature.

...The reason given [...] at the time was that the kernel had more burning issues and bugs to address.

Of course it did. There were so many subsystems being repeatedly rewritten that there was never-ending breakage. And rewriting working subsystems and breaking them is far more important than something that might improve the desktop right?

(Con Kolivas, quoted in APC magazine)

It's an interesting article. I don't know how fair the rest of it is (though some of the political machinations he describes are familiar from the time when I was an active(ish) kernel developer and gadfly,) but the OH NOES SOMETHING WORKS WE'D BETTER BREAK IT!! commentary is right on the money; I spend a not-inconsiderable part of my work time finding and working around places where interfaces have changed for no reason every time we try to roll in a new kernel version, and if I wasn't getting paid do to this I'd probably be spending my time trying to backport drivers and put a usb stack into Linux 2.0.28 (the kernel on Pell is 480k with scsi drivers compiled in, and the 2.6.x kernels I'm maintaining at work are 1480k sans scsi drivers) instead of keeping up with the bleeding edge of Linux development.

(-- via Francois Souchay)

1 comment

Jul 25, 2007

Cowardice, ISP-style

Last week, Christopher Bird (mightygodking) wrote a savage play-by-play review of the latest Harry Potter book. He (a) wrote it before the Friday midnight embargo was lifted, and (b) [and this is the important qualifier] didn't have a legal department that could block a SLAPP, so the book publisher immediately whipped out a DMCA takedown and slapped it down on the service desk of SixApart (livejournal's new, and very corporate, owner.)

Reviews don't traditionally count as a copyright violation, but SixApart has a reputation of buckling under to threats, so they relayed the threat on to mightygodking. Who pulled the review before the DMCA deadline.

However, Friday came and went, so the embargo went away and hoi polloi (including mightygodking) were allowed to purchase and read the latest Harry Potter book. So he "officially" read the latest Harry Potter book, then published a savage review of it.

The book was published, reviews (including spoilers with much more detail that the mightygodking review) were written and published, and you'd think that would be it. Right?

Well, apparently not. I read mighygodking.livejournal.com pretty regularly, so late last night (after a longish livejournal outage) I fired up a web browser and went over to see if there was anything new there. There was, but it was not the sort of "new" I was looking forward to:

This jornal has been suspended?   Cowards.

Now that's customer service for you. Bad customer service (unless you're a thin-skinned publisher who thinks that if they strike every bad review from the net everyone will love it,) but customer service nevertheless.

I was thinking of putting a TSFR mirror into livejournal so I could keep up with the snigglers I used to know before I met the best and we scampered off to the west coast, but eesh, that's not exactly the sort of friendly environment I'd want to be around.

1 comment


It’s the Do What I Mean initiative!

The Register has published an article that's, indirectly, about the conflict between the Open Source®™© Initiative, a derivative of the Mozilla license, and an amusing interpretation of OSI's definition of Open Source. The offending product (SugarCRM) ships under a Mozilla-derived license which, in the grand tradition of modern software licenses, is a twisty maze of legal language all alike, but which looks like it's simply a super-bloated version of the traditional attributiondamnit! Berkeley license. And therein lies the conflict; there's a large subset of the free software world that loathes the idea of having to credit the original owner of the software, and that subset is generously represented in the groups that the OSI is affiliated with.

SugarCRM is released under an attributiondamnit! license, which isn't approved by the OSI. So, since it's simply free software and not Open Source™©®, it has been shuffled off to the proprietary software ghetto in r*dh*tville.

In a sane world, this sort of idiocy would result in much finger-pointing and laughing. But this isn't a sane world; this is a world where you can copyright the term 'Open Source™®©', wrap a certification agency around it, and provide an supply of board seats for your friends and business partners. So it becomes important to have an official Open Source©™® stamp that you can apply to software and to have a group of people interpreting the requirements, because if they could just check themselves off against a list there'd be no need for your certification agency.

*roll eyes*

I'll stick with releasing free software under a Berkeley-style attributiondamnit! license. It's pretty trivial to credit the original authors of a program (manpages can ship with an AUTHOR section, when you're writing a HOWTO it's pretty simple to write a paragraph saying that the code was written by so-and-so, and if you're writing a gui'ed program it's just another string in the [help] -> [about] box. (I'd mention the thrice-damned *nf* program that the FSF loves, but they're one of the organizations that loathes the attributiondamnit clause, so it's not likely that they'll ever run into that license constraint,)) and I'm selfish in that I want the credit for my work to go to me instead of the corporation that's packaging it up.

Jul 24, 2007

Spider picture of the day

An orb weaver in its web
A tiny orb weaver hangs out in the backyard.


Why should the Cascade Policy Institute have all the fun?

Occasionally, I take some time to swat various libertoonian auto über alles groups with the 2x4 of pure reason over their screamingly non-libertarian support for the state-sponsored automobile monopoly, but you might notice that I never to the same for very many mass transit advocacy groups. Sure, I've screamed bloody murder over the way that the cost of building simple trolley lines has shot up from the sensible US$8-12 million/mile costs of the earlier lines in the USA to the batshit insane US$60-100 million/mile costs of modern lines, but I haven't yet aimed my bile at any advocacy groups.

Poison pen, meet Light Rail Now and one of the most amazingly stupid "pro-trolley" articles I've ever had the misfortune to run across. The article is what they'd like to pretend is a factcheck on the Los Angeles MTA's conversion of a railroad line into a dedicated busway (the Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley.) It's fairly chock-full of illusionary "facts" proving that trolley lines are better than buslines, most of which don't pass the laugh-test (apparently not having crossing gates on a busway is a fault of the busway, not of the stupider than dirt construction conglomerate that designed and built the line,) but there are a few things that are worthy of special attention:

  1.  


    (photo from the lightrailnow website.)

    This, apparently, is a horrible safety hazard. It's two busses passing each other on a 40mph road, which, at least according to lightrailnow, is horribly unsafe because the busses could *lunge* at each other and have a head-on collision.

    The teeny detail that the world is *full* of two-way traffic and transit busses somehow manage to keep from constantly splatting each other is conveniently left out here. This is just like the monorail kooks saying "look, there's never been a monorail accident *evar!*, not like those EVIL TROLLEYS which are always leaping off the track and crushing babies and kittens!"

  2.  


    (photo from the lightrailnow website.)

    You might look at this picture and say "nice. The station stop has a siding so busses can stop to discharge passengers without blocking the mainline. Good for the LAMTA to insist on this rudiment of good design." and think that this is one benefit of busses because you don't have to maintain a pair of switched so that you can do the same with a trolley line. (that's not strictly true, because the CA&E was able to run express service to the Loop by being switched around the local cars on their runs from Garfield Park to the Loop.) But, no, this is apparently a *bad thing*, because it makes the station wider than a station on a trolley line.

I'd much rather ride a trolley than a bus, and I scream bloody murder whenever a transit agency proposes to save a few dollars in construction costs by building a busway instead of a trolley line, but these arguments are insultingly stupid. People drive on two-way highways and streets all the time, and being able to switch off the mainline when you arrive at a station is an unqualified Good Thing. If a trolley line wants to run express and local service, you've got to have a way of getting the express trains around the local trains, and switching the locals into a siding is just as good as the traditional rapid transit approach of building one or two extra lines for the express traffic.

If this is the best you can do to advocate for trolleys, please just don't say anything. There is enough irrational trolley advocacy out there without starting to sound like a monorail fanatic claiming (contrary to all of the evidence) that a monorail line is cheaper to build than a trolley line and that it will get 10x the ridership.

2 comments

Jul 23, 2007

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

The first real step of my project to replace our falling down garage with a studio, workshop, or any sort of structure that I can step foot in without fearing for my life, I've been trying to actually design the replacement structure (to replace the structure, I need to have the plans approved. To have the plans approved, I need to draw plans [or spend US$manythousand to have an architect do the same thing. I'm too cheap for that.] To draw plans, I need a design) and as a result there's a steady slow flow of various earthy-crunchy design book and plans flowing through the house. This last weekend, I picked up a magazine called Oregon Home's Green Living based on an article where a couple bought a Portland two-flat and converted it into a three-flat (or possibly a 2 floor apartment and an attic flat -- the plans look like it's a three-flat, but they don't show the second story plan so I'm not positive) in a fairly nice modern/craftsman style.

One thing about this magazine that became painfully apparent is that the "Green" in the title is about as green as the magazine gets. In particular, some of the houseplans are so not green that they'd look right in place in something like This Old House magazine, which is a magazine that whole-heartedly embraces the "clearcut a rainforest to get one perfect 2x4" philosophy. There's one house in particular that irritates me; someone decided to build an "eco-friendly" house in North Portland, which seems like an admirable goal until you start looking at the details.

This house is ~2000 square feet. It's got three bedrooms. And the article goes on at great length about how green the owner is because the kitchen doesn't have a garbage disposal, and how the owner wanted to make the house work with the environment because he visited Africa and was impressed about how the peasants there made the best use of limited resources. All fine and good, I'm sure, and I'm sure that a 2000 square foot house would sit as lightly on the earth as a 200-400 square foot hut if you had a large enough family to take advantage of it.

You might ask "so, just how many people are going to live in this house?"

Good question. You'll love the answer:

1 person lives in this 2000 square foot house.

Whoooee! That's certainly sitting lightly on the earth, isn't it? That's sitting almost as lightly on the earth as the house that the best and I bought 10 years ago (it's assessed at 2000 square feet, but we've got a full attic and basement so it's actually about 3600 square feet. There are 4 of us living here, and we use almost 2600 feet of the house.

Yes, yes, it's lovely that this house collects water off the roof. But you need to collect a lot of water off your roof to get over the tiny detail that you've built 2000 square feet for one person.

That's not green. It's greener than a 50,000 square foot mansion, but it's still a screaming lot of resources being shovelled into a single-person residence. I'm sure it's a lovely house and all, but it's the sort of embarrassing consumption pornography that is constantly trying to pass itself off as ecologically sound design.

If you want to live green, live in a 400 square foot structure. Tiny houses are easier to heat, easier to keep cool, and don't gobble up the sort of resources a larger structure consumes. You can't just toss e-buzzwords on a huge house and expect that will make up for the energy it will use.

Jul 20, 2007

droit de seigneur

I must have been busy this week, because I missed one of the affronts to liberty that came oozing out of Mount Doom. Sure, I noticed the "we're above the law" statement, but I completely missed the other one.

What other one?

Well, apparently it's not enough that the B*sh junta claims the right to kidnap, torture, and murder people without restraint, and it's not enough that the B*sh junta claims the right to print "GET OUT OF JAIL FREE" cards without restraint, but now the Coward in Chief wants to claim the right to seize the assets of any US resident without so much as a by-your-leave.

The money quote of this affront to liberty is:

... all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

Note the conspicuous absence of the words "Trial" or "Jury"; The B*sh junta says that it's their decision and their decision alone.

  • (i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:
    • (A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or
    • (B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

Leaving aside the question of how the nazgul can write the phrase "humanitarian assistance" without being immediately struck down by G-d, note that this says that if Mount Doom thinks you might cause acts of violence (and remember that this is a dictatorship that routinely drags people off the street for what appears to be nothing more than recreational torture) they can steal your property. But it gets better! It's not just if they think you're a "terrorist", oh no...

  • (ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
  • (iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

If you worked for someone the B*sh junta claims to be a terrorist, Mount Doom claims the right to rob you. If you employed someone the B*sh junta claims to be a terrorist, Mount Doom claims the right to rob you. If you contribute to a charity that the B*sh junta claims to be terrorists, Mount Doom claims the right to take all of your possessions.

And if a soup kitchen is foolish enough to feed this new "terrorist" or "terrorist sympathiser", guess what?

  • (b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to, (i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

And, if this isn't evil enough, the son of a bitch mentions it again:

...the making of donations of the type specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

And, for that extra touch of evil, don't forget that the bastard attempts to claim the right to sweep in at night and seize your assets without warning:

...Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

And don't forget that to the B*sh junta, dissent is terrorism.

Nobody in the United States has any rights anymore. Not a single one. Your property, your life, the property and life of your friends and family? It does not belong to you, it belongs to the self-styled G-d King who heads the B*sh junta.


Bees in the rain.


Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Did Dust Mite find a flying saucer, or is it merely nibbling on a hard candy?


It would be lovely to have a beach house, but this doesn’t seem to be the best way to get one

Reading a scientific paper on the train this weekend, I found, to my amazement, that my hands were shaking. This has never happened to me before, but nor have I ever read anything like it. Published by a team led by James Hansen at Nasa, it suggests that the grim reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could be absurdly optimistic(1).

The IPCC predicts that sea levels could rise by as much as 59cm this century(2). Hansen’s paper argues that the slow melting of ice sheets the panel expects doesn’t fit the data. The geological record suggests that ice at the poles does not melt in a gradual and linear fashion, but flips suddenly from one state to another. When temperatures increased to 2-3 degrees above today’s level 3.5 million years ago, sea levels rose not by 59 centimetres but by 25 metres. [...]

(--George Monbiot)

25 meters, eh? My house sits about 28 meters above sea level, on a point of land that separates the main channel of the Willamette river from a fossil channel that contains the SPYellow Menace mainline and US highway 99e. Push the water level up 25 meters and my house would sit a whopping 3 meters above mean sea level on a debris island on the southern end of Columbia Sound.

For some reason this doesn't excite me? I wonder why? Could it be because some huge fraction of the world's population lives at <25 meter elevation and the United States has already graphically stated that if hoi polloi are flooded, they can just drown.

Nothing's going to be done about this, of course. A large majority of the upper classes would be delighted if the rabble would all die, and the Evil Party (which more and more strikes me as the reincarnation of The People's Temple) is just full of people who would be delighted to commit revolutionary suicide just as long as the liberals died first.


Mind the gap

This image, via Harry Hutton, is nothing special; it's just another one of the countless charts showing that the United States of America is #1 in health care. Health care costs, mind you -- we're definitely not #1 in waiting times, quality of care, and life expectancies -- but it shows we are at least #1 in something.

But the interesting thing about this chart is that it gives a nice comparison to some other countries where the healthcare is a bit better than ours. If I carefully crop down to a few columns on the right side of the graph, I end up with a visual comparison between the per capita cost of healthcare between Canada and the United States. Note the difference between the public sector expenditures here:

The total US spending is head and shoulders above everyone else, of course, because there are a lot of executives and upper class twits who Neeeeeeeeeeeed their next gold-filled swimming pools. But notice the public sector expenditures? The United States spends more money per capita out of the public purse than Canada does. And then we toss that much money AGAIN into the hands of private healthcare.

You know, if the price of socialised medicine is that we'd have to spend what the average Canadian spends to get their quality of healthcare, please sign me up. Lower taxes, less money out of pocket, better healthcare, and one less layer of bloated parasites sucking the vitality out of the American economy sounds like an excellent exchange for 100% medical coverage for every citizen.


38 years on

July 20, 1969


Frontiers of journalistic excellence

[The B*sh junta] unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals.

(--the stenographers at the Washington Post)

Now, you'd think that when a dictator claims that his entire staff is not subject to the law, that might be something a little more than a "legal obstacle" to the remains of the opposition party. But, no, it's just a little game to the courtiers buzzing around Mount Doom on the Potomac, because an absolute monarchy is just so much more romantic than a nominally democratic form of government.

Right now about the only remaining check on the B*sh junta is the threat of zeroing out Mount Doom's budget (the senate contains 50 members of the Evil Party [plus Darth Cheney], so an impeachment would not go anywhere even if the Stupid Party has the sense to push for it.) Perhaps the Stupid Party should take advantage of it now before it's too late?

Jul 19, 2007

The majesty of the law

So. You're a publisher that's publishing an popular heroic fantasy series, and you're trying to keep the very last book bottled up until the day of the official Windows 98-alike release party. Of course it doesn't work, and between piracy and random goofups on the part of your distribution arm, some copies of the book make their way out to the public.

Some of these copies make their way into the hands of reviewers, who publish reviews(with spoilers) of your book before the official release party has happened.

What do you do?

Well, if the reviewer is from a newspaper (with, and this is a very important detail, a legal department), what you do is whinge about it not being Faaaaaiiiiiirrrr to hoi polloi if they have their reading experience spoiled by someone saying nice things about the book. But if the reviewer is some guy with a weblog (and without a legal department)? You go all DMCA on his ass, nevermind that a review isn't exactly what you'd call piracy, even if it's hostile.

(a little more commentary with possible spoilers lives below the cut)

(read more)

Jul 18, 2007

Railroad picture of the day

When waiting for the #70 bus this afternoon (on the way home after a dentist's appointment, so I was all doped up with dangerous drugs and painkillers, I heard an enthusiastic diesel sound coming from somewhere to the east. Now, the last time I'd heard a diesel sound, a pair of Twinkies popped into view an instant later, so I was hoping for something interesting to materialize.

Well, it was another GE. Not a twinkie, but an elderly C40-8, which is not something I see every day either in or out of Yellow Menace colo(u)rs.


Buzz buzz buzz

The disadvantage of the new Sigma 24-135mm zoom lens I bought a few months ago is that it doesn't give the same sort of magnification as my older and slower Quantaray 85-300mm zoom. The advantage of this lens is that f4.5 at 135mm is significantly faster than f8 at 300mm, so it's easier to get Bee Action Photos™


My my my, what have we here

A little over a year ago, I made a comment on what I considered to be a way of separating credulous homebuyers from their money; the definition of "True Craftsman" as a way to piggyback Gustav Stickley's houses up to being the sort of overpriced shrine that too many of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs have become.

The definition is fairly nebulous. Mr. Stickley published a magazine called The Craftsman, which contained house plans, furniture plans, and various articles discussing his ideas for simple living. He also had a standing offer to the subscribers to his magazine that they could get, for free, one set of architectural drawings so they could build houses based on the plans published in The Craftsman.

The idea with these drawings was that people would get them, tweak them for their needs, and build houses from them. And they'd occasionally hand off the plans to other people who'd use them as a basis for their own houses. Now, the whole "True Craftsman" scam here is that someone wrote to The Craftsman for a copy of the plans and used them as a basis for their house, that makes a "True Craftsman". If those plans were then handed to someone else (same plans, same Gustav Stickley, and remember that the whole idea was that the homebuilder could tweak them for their needs,) the resulting house would NOT be a "True Craftsman."

Heaven forbid that someone could build a house based on plans published in The Craftsman and call it a Craftsman house. You'd almost think that a large cache of Stickley architectural drawings were floating around out there and unless some absolutely stupid classification scheme was popularised people would be able to build houses from those drawings and "destroy" the value of the houses that were built earlier.

Well, it turns out that Columbia University has got a large stack of genuine (in many cases signed by Mr. Stickley) architectural drawings, so if you want (and can go through the wall of fire that the people at Columbia will put up if you ask to reproduce the blueprints as a basis for your own house) you can do pretty much exactly what people did 100 years ago; take real drawings from The Craftsman, have a local architect tweak them for your needs, and have a "False Craftsman" that has the same (or closer) relationship to The Craftsman magazine as the older "True Craftsman" houses that are already out there.

All you have to do is jump through the wall of fire.

Jul 17, 2007

This is not the bee you’re looking for


A bee-mimic fly works the butterfly bush from scene 24 during rush-hour tonight.

Jul 16, 2007

Bumblebees on parade

Bumblebees working one of the feral butterfly bushes near the bus stop at 1st and Arthur.


Well, that’s certainly one way to keep those oil prices high

Gas prices flirting with being <US$3.00/gallon? Tch, tch, that wouldn't be good for the gold-filled swimming pools, would it? Time to crank up the rumor-o-tron and justify large price increases:

The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo."

--The Guardian

Suuure he isn't. B*sh isn't going to do anything except listen to whoever wins the little games of palace intrigue and parrot back whatever line they were trying to push on him. And whether or not the USA will be so insanely stupid as to try and attack Iran (and I'm sure that Iran would just sit there and let a parade of tankers waddle up and down the Persian gulf without silkworming one or two, then watching the west fall into a massive depresson when the price of crude oil jumps to US$300/bbl) is pretty much irrelevant here. The most secretive dictatorship in the world just doesn't leak this sort of information unless it will benefit someone in or around the government, and the bloated Jabba the Hutt impersonators who run the major B*sh junta-affiliated oil companies would benefit greatly by the price of oil going up by a factor of 5 or so [moreso if they could arrange it without risking damage to any of their oil tankers or loading facilities.)

It's the B*sh junta. They lie. Their leaks are lies. And if gas prices mysteriously shoot up in the wake of this carefully timed leak, think about just who's going to benefit from that bit of serendipity.

Jul 15, 2007

Now that’s *really* bizarre

If I do an image search for Teen Titans lego minifigs on g**gl*, 10 of the first 40 results (including the first seven) are images from TSFR. Sure, most of them are lego images, but not one has anything teen-titanish about it.

I'll have to fix that.

I just need to figure out how to print smiley faces onto green (beast boy), orange (biohazard), and light grey (raven) heads and then I'll be set. And if I can figure out how to print smiley faces onto randomly colo(u)red lego heads, then as a bonus I'll be able to carry my previous efforts to diversify the house collection of legos to its logical conclusion.

(as an aside, I did find a collection of /really/ good Teen Titans lego minifigs at the American Comics Lego Archive -- not perfect; too many of the women superheroes have stacks of circular bricks for legs -- but much better than any of the other ones I've found [FYI, I strongly recommend against doing an image search for "Teen Titans" unless you qualify it with "Lego", because the phrase "Teen Titans" includes the word "Teen", and that brings up a huge garbagecan full of pornography which is so badly drawn that even the thumbnails make you want to tear your eyes out and wash them in bleach. Thanks a lot, perverts, because now I have to scrub those thumbnails out of my brane before I can watch my TT videos again.] For example:
Minifig Anime

You don't get the stick-figure appeal of the anime with the minifigs, of course, but the minifig is *still* instantly recognisable as Terra.
)


Jewels in the sideyard


A tiny orb weaver nibbles on a demised blackfly.

Jul 14, 2007

It’s summertime, and summertime wouldn’t be complete without…


... more bee pictures!

This one was about as close as it looks; the Quantaray zoom/macro lens I've got has a minimum focusing distance of about a foot, and I was leaning back so I could get this honeybee into focus. (It didn't sting me, nor did it ram the lens when it took off and flew away to the next flower in the mintpatch. I guess it had not learned to fear the large black reflective clicking thing that was looming behind it while it was pollengathering.)

This one, on the other hand, stayed safely away on the other size of the mintpatch. Far enough away so that I could actually get a picture of it after it finished with a clump of flowers and had sprung up to fly away to the next.


Obviously not in touch with the Open Source®™© world

O'Reilly is holding their annual Open Source™©® convention in Portland (again) at the end of July, and when I found out about it I thought that it might be a good idea to go (I know and/or know about a small subset of the presenters from soc.motss,soc.bi, and talk.bizarre, so it might be a good place to do some networking.) But the convention is a whole lotta p*rl, a whole lotta p*th*n, all the M*sql you can eat, and lots of advertising presentations by g**gl* (lots of presentations by g**gl*; I suppose that one of the advantages of being an early Linux adapter is that the high-level staff gets to take junkets to Portland and talk about how wonderful p*th*nville is) and their ilk.

I can't do it. I'm sure it would be good for my business prospects to go out there and press the flesh (it's not as if Open Source®™© is about technical prowess any more; the tools infrastructure has reached the point where, provided you've got enough horsepower to run them, it's pretty easy to put together code that does anything you might want to do [except for documentation; the state of the art for Open Source©®™ documentation {including the documentation I've written} is, um, insufficient] in a fairly timely matter. So all that's left is networking and self promotion,) but, to be perfectly honest, the idea of attending bores me stiff.

And if I want to be bored stiff, I can attend more meetings at work (where we use Linux! For business! And I get paid to do Open Source™©® programming!), where they pay me to attend. If I went to OSCON, it would cost me around US$2000, and I'd have to pay extra to buy the forks I'd subsequently plunge into my eyes.


But that would be wrong!


Executive Branch confidentiality interests, eh?

(--links via Avedon Carol)


The B*sh junta is genetically incapable of telling the truth.

Okay, so the Coward in Chief is not willing to release any information about the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman. That's pretty much par for the course with this illegitimate dictatorship; any junta that's controlled by Darth Cheney and a fratboy sadist is not going to release ANY information, no matter how trivial it might be. But when they state that releasing this information will ...

implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests

You just know that lying is wired into their genome.

These people need to be impeached, tried for high treason, and exiled to the moons of Jupiter. And, to be safe, their relations need to be arrested and transported somewhere where there's not a chance that their DNA will ever contaminate the human genepool again. It would probably be frightfully expensive to send them to Alpha Centauri, and we'd have to quarantine that star system until either Centauri A or B novas and sterilizes any planets in that neighborhood, but, really, it's worth it just to be sure that we're safe from them.

But the first step is to start impeachment proceedings (a hint to the Democratic Party here; a successful vote to impeach in the house would be a lovely way to prove to many independents that you're not just a collection of cowardly lions) and get the bastards out of power.

(--via Lawyers, Guns and Money)


Fun with autostitch

Sunset over Oaks Amusement Park

After the 700 departed from Oaks Park thursday evening, I started to head for home. But before I did I took this panorama of the sunset over Oaks Amusement Park by the simple expedient of waving my Pentax around in the direction of the setting sun, then feeding the resulting handful of pictures into Autostitch and waiting (for a looooong time) until they resolved together into a single huge image.

Jul 13, 2007

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


When Dust Mites ruled the Earth.


Now that’s something you don’t see everyday

SP&S 700 pushes an excursion train

The remains of Portland Traction are not a very busy freight route, and the trains run on demand, so it's a very rare occasion when a train comes by when I'm going across the bridge (I've seen the working eng (SW-1 #100) pulling a short freight, and I've seen the new working eng (SW-9 #902) running light down to the SPYellow Menace interchange, but that's it for 10 years of living in SE Portland.) But even given that, seeing the third largest active steam locomotive in the United States come rolling down the line pushing a passenger car, three cabeese, and the SamTrak open-air observation car would count as fairly unusual.


I blame James Nicoll

(not for the personality type -- it's (a) a twelve-question silly-blog-quiz, so the accuracy is infinitesimally close to nonexistant, and (b) It's a "how rare is your personality type" quiz, so I'd be shocked if any of the personality types it reported were not some variant of rare -- but for being tempted to fill the quiz out on the first place.)

Your Personality is Very Rare (INFP)
Your personality type is dreamy, romantic, elegant, and expressive.

Only about 5% of all people have your personality, including 6% of all women and 4% of all men
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.
("Perceiving," eh? Pull the other one; it's got bells on.)

(--More Words, Deeper Hole)


The Lensy-go-round


Sunset + the Oaks Park merry-go-round + my Lensbaby.


The same image, lightly tweaked by Irfanview.

Jul 12, 2007

Speeders, too

A speeder follows the 8pm excursion train from Oaks Park to OMSI.


Planes,trains,no automobiles


SP&S #700 pushes the (approximately) 8pm train north out of Oaks Park halt as a floatplane flies overhead.


And it’s not just large steam locomotives, either

In case you hadn't guessed, I went down to Oaks Amusement Park this evening to look at (and take pictures of) the most beautiful non-garratt steam locomotive in the United State, because it had been chartered to run some excursions for a Lionel collectors convention that is going on this week, and the PRPA and the Oregon Pacific thought that if the 700 was going to be put into steam it might as well run some additional excursions (through Saturday. Hint hint) to bring in some more money for the proposed railroad museum that people want to build somewhere along the EPT right of way. I didn't have time to actually ride the train (the departure times are, um, approximate and I needed to return home before bedtime,) but I donated a bit of money to the PRPA and took a few pictures before returning home.

The 700 was running, of course, but the EPT also had the replacement new working eng (#1202) out at Oaks Park halt, because it had pulled the afternoon passenger trains and was waiting for the 700 to get out of the way so it could return to the carbarn for the night. It's not the working eng, but it's an attractive locomotive (for an EMD) in its own right.


A public service announcement

This is your photo:

This is a Lensbaby:

This is your photo on Lensbaby:

Any questions?

2 comments


Purple?

A sea of purple flowers covers the swamp at the south end of Oaks Bottom

I've lived in Westmoreland for about a decade now, and I've gone past Oaks Bottom more times than I can think of, but I've never seen such an explosion of purple flowers. Has this been happening every year and I've just missed it, or has global warming pushed some purple-flowering swamp grass up into the Portland area?

1 comment

Jul 11, 2007

Railroad picture of the day

This transfer freight was parked at the north end of Brooklyn Yard, waiting for the signal to turn green. The northbound Coast Starlight was late, so maybe it was waiting for it. Or it could have been waiting for the #700 to make the ferry move from the Brooklyn Roundhouse over to the Portland Traction interchange. But I never found out, because the #70 bus came by and I needed to get home before I melted in the afternoon sun.


Compare and Contrast (healthcare, Rube Goldberg-style)

Two proposals for National Health, American-style:
Michael Moore (lefty filmmaker) Ron Wyden (Stupid Party senator)

The doctor/hospital/care facility sends a bill to the state.

The doctor/hospital/care facility sends a bill to an insurance company. And you get to pay premiums. If you can't afford to pay premiums, the state may subsidize the premiums for you, but you're going to end up dealing with the health insurance company no matter what.

To make health insurance more affordable, the state will stop giving a corporate tax deduction for health insurance, so your corporate masters won't provide it as a tax deductable perk. To keep your corporate masters from simply cancelling the health insurance and pocketing the money, a law will be passed forcing them to give you that money as a raise.

And, to keep the insurance companies from continuing to be the evil bastards that they currently are, another law will be passed telling those insurance companies that they can't dump sick clients. Aaaaand there will be a government clearinghouse that will help direct people to the least evil insurance company of the week, but you'll still have to make your own decision about which health insurance company will be the least evil bastard after you've signed on the dotted line.

The advantage of Ron Wyden's idiotic plan is that it ensures that the CEOs of the (loathed, for good reason) health insurance industry will get to retain their collections of gold-filled swimming pools. And it will preserve a lovely payola channel for suitably generous campaign donors. As far as a national health system, it might be better than the ongoing train wreck that is the current US healthcare system, if we're very very lucky.

Mr. Moore's healthplan, on the other hand, is Medicare (the most efficient healthcare in the USA, which isn't particularly surprising because it's run by the government instead of by professionally evil people) for everyone. And if the rest of the world is any indication, it would be simpler, cheaper, and provide better care than what the USA has.

So, of course, the Stupid Party won't support it. After all, why should the Stupid Party do something good for the American people when it can instead do some idiotic triangulating to appease a group of people who wouldn't support the Stupid Party until after the heat death of the universe?

Jul 10, 2007

A brief comment on software licensing

I understand that people don't like the license.
I understand that the extra helping of sanctimoniousness that the license comes with is offensive to pretty much everyone who didn't go back for their second cup of flavor-aid.

But the GPL is not Communism. It's just another software license, and if you don't like the terms of the stupid thing you can simply use code that is released under a different license.

Sheesh. It's just software, and there's nothing that's been released under the GPL (with, possibly, the exception of the FSF's implementation of grep) that you can't either find elsewhere or write yourself. And if it's too hard to write the code yourself, you can either (a) pay someone to write it for you, or (b) agree to the terms of the GPL. Either way you're paying someone to provide software that you want to use, and in either case it's petty to then whine about a non-free license being MEEEAAAN TOOOO YOOOUUU.

(full disclosure: I don't really like the GPL. I'd rather release my free software under a license that requires that I be credited for my work. But I really don't like the creepy libertarian "I WANT MY FREE LUNCH!" whines about Communism.)


Busses, even though they’re airconditioned, do not make good photo platforms…

... but if you take enough pictures, one or two might give a good idea of just how hot it was outside today.


Proof positive that I’m a hopeless trainspotter

There is a lot of utility work (and some house-moving) going on on Milwaukie Ave this week, so I decided that I would attempt to avoid sitting on the bus twiddling my thumbs by taking a bus across the river and changing to the #70 bus, which goes up the (so far) uncontaminated by utility work 17th Ave. The bus I chose was the #17, which goes down 17th as far as Holgate (which, conveniently, happens to be past the Haig St stop and the Toonerville bridge.) I decided that it would be a good plan to get off the #17 at Haig and walk over to see if anything was moving around the north end of Brooklyn Yard.

Nothing was visible from Haig street, but when I started walking away I heard a nearby collection of toots and the sound of accelerating diesels from the vicinity of the 12th Ave crossing. I could have stayed at Haig St and taken some pictures of the approaching train framed in the signal just south of Powell and 17th, but if I could make it to the Toonerville Bridge, I could get a picture from up in the air.

The Toonerville Bridge is about 2 blocks away from Haig & 17th. If I ran I could make it to the bridge ahead of the train.

It was 100°F. The sensible thing to do would have been to stay at Haig and watch the train from there.


Of course I ran. It was only 100°F, after all.

It's not mad dogs and englishmen. It's mad dogs, englishmen, and trainspotters.


You know there are too many legos in the house…

... when you arrive home to be greeted with a UPS shipment, presented with "This had better be computer parts and NOT legos."

Alas, it contained computer parts (hopefully the last things I need for the 30watt server that's going to replace the two 50watt servers that currently sit in the corner of the basement. That server will probably contain some lego parts -- I might make a cuckoo-clock style tableau of lego minifigs working away at the front of the proposed [ex router] case instead of trying to cut and fit sheetmetal to fit into the opening -- but those parts are not in todays package of things that go *zap!* in the night) so I'm afraid I'm falling down on my job of filling the entire house with little plastic automatic binding bricks.

Jul 09, 2007

Railroad picture of the day

Yellow Menace GP-15 #522 leads an Albina-bound transfer across 11th Ave at ~5:15pm today.


New Code! (supertrivial edition)

I've switched the SCCS for postoffice over to Git, so this is the first code release under the new SCCS. It should be identical to 1.4.2, but the Mastodon port of git is not the most overwhelmingly stable thing on the planet yet.

Jul 08, 2007

Wading into the Rubicon

This last weekend (and the part of last week that wasn't involved in airplane travel, baby-herding, and working at the most exciting job in the world, I spent most of my time porting Git to Mastodon, then taking all of the code I'd stopped working on when the vendor of my old version control system had a temper tantrum and pulled the free version of the code from the market and migrating it out of that system and over to git archives.

It's interesting what you discover when you migrate things from one version control system to another. It took me several days to tweak the export system so I could accurately capture the changes from one named version to another (the old system supported named tags, but not very well; the only way I could get the changes from one named version to another was to write a script to extract the SCCS revision numbers from the named tags, then use those revision numbers to get patches.

The vast bulk of the commentary that went along with check-ins went the way of the buffalo, because after looking at it several times and giving up in despair, I'd decided that not getting most of the co/ci comments was a fair tradeoff for being able to actually get to the code again.

My git port to Mastodon is still a bit shaky, but it works. So I've deleted the old version control system and am now a pure Git house. And since the software was released under a freeish license (the restrictions in the GPL are actually quite nasty, but the "must release the source" clause is a welcome change from the previous "no source and all of your development comes to a complete halt when the vendor gets up on the wrong side of the bed") it's not likely that the right to use the code will ever be pulled out from under me, which is A Good Thing when it comes to essential development tools.

Jul 06, 2007

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite and a petroleum-based dust mite statue.

Jul 05, 2007

They might be completely and utterly wrong, but you’ve got to admire their delusions

When waiting for the bus home, I struck up a conversation with someone who is either a member of the Cascade Policy Institute (motto: autos über alles) or a fellow traveller on their road towards More! And! Bigger! suburbs. I could tell that they were a CPIoft because when I mentioned that I wished that Tri-Met would build a trolley line to SE Portland, they launched into the traditional (and now thoroughly discredited) arguments that I'd heard a thousand times or more when Tri-Met was bungling the S/N trolley line proposal to the point where even the residents of the City of Portland were unwilling to pull the [Y] lever at the voting booth. It was sort of an amusing blast from the past,with the claims that

  1. trolleys are more expensive to operate than busses (Tri-Met is not the most efficient operating agency, but last time I checked they couldn't reliably meet that standard; The Overhead Wire claims that Tri-Met spends 23% of its operating budget on trolleys, but gets 32% of its ridership from them. So, unless by more expensive you mean cheaper, I don't really see how that follows, unless you slide construction costs into the "operating budget" and try to pass that off as the Gospel.)

  2. trolleys are slower than busses, with the Hillsboro extension of the east-west interurban as the stated example. Oh, sure, it is slower than the busses were, iff you:

    1. didn't try to ride the busses ANYWHERE NEAR rush hour, and
    2. were lucky enough to get downtown near the departure time of the once-every-45-minutes-or-so express bus.

    (I was working at 156th and close to the #26, so my trolley commute was #19->Hillsboro train->shuttle bus, or about 1hr10min, which was longer than my best-case bus commute of 45 minutes of #19->perfect connection to express bus. This was made up for the too many to count #19->wait 30 minutes->express bus 1h20 min marathons that ended up enriching the local cab companies when I decided that I'd rather wait 45 minutes at home for the cab to arrive.)

  3. And, of course, it costs 10x as much to build a trolley line as it does to operate busses. Now, I don't have many arguments here, because trolley lines that should cost US$10million/mile (INCLUDING the ones that Portland builds) are being priced at US$150million [including a US$20million/mile constractor fee to Parsons/Bechtel/Halliburton] for no reason except graft, but this particular argument was comparing the cost of a trolley line to the cost of a dedicated busway, which costs 95% as much as a trolley line. And, particularly with the Hillsboro interurban, a large chunk of the westside construction cost was to build a huge tunnel and underground station because some (well-connected, of course) homeowners objected to the original plan of building the line on the surface. You can just imagine how they'd react to a busway that would have to see 10x the number of vehicles that would be needed to provide even close to the level of service that the existing trolley line provides. (fill in the blank here -- a snowflake's _____ in hell)

  4. The pièce de résistance, presented triumphantly as if there was no way to refute it at all, was that the only reason people ride the trolleys is because the bus system is cannibalised to force people onto the trolleys.

    This is, of course, absolute nonsense. The ridership on the west side went wayyy up after the trolley started running, to the point where even if every single rider on the line had to use a tri-met shuttle to complete their commute (which they don't. The Hillsboro interurban goes right through the Tek campus, right alongside at least one big Intel site, and within a 5 minute walk of Nike) the ridership would have stil gone up. And it's kept going up since then.

  5. As a coda, there was a bit of the "people should walk!" (the classic anti-Portland Streetcar argument)/"people will not walk!" (the classic anti-/N argument) blast of incoherence, because it's BAD that the Portland Streetcar is running because it's healthier for people to walk (it's difficult to claim that the 8500 or so daily boardings are the result of cannibalisation when there was no mass transit along that route prior to the construction of that trolley line) but it's BAD that people have to walk further to get to the stations along the /N line (the trolley line has stops on 5-6 block headways, compared to the 2 block headways the now-demised #5 bus used. The ridership is up, of course, and the cancelled bus line followed the same route as /N does, but not as much as on the Portland Streetcar, so the only argument left is that it's Tooooooo Haaaaard for people to walk further to get to a stop. The ridership figures would seem to indicate that the people who actually ride the cars don't care, but they're not members of the Cascade Policy Institute and thus don't count.

I mentioned the additional teeny detail that not building trolley lines, but instead buying and staffing lots of busses (one of the CPI-style arguments against the Hillsboro line was that it would have been sooooo much better to spend the US$1billion buying more busses) would eat up any "savings" instantaneously because bus drivers don't work for free. The first time I heard this argument I ran the figures and worked out that it would cost an additional US$50million/year to operate and maintain half a billion dollars worth of busses. That's would do a pretty good job of completely eating up any "savings" that you might get from implementing this stupid idea (and I'd ran the figures when diesel fuel was still <= US$1.00/gallon, not the US$2.25 or so a gallon that it costs these days.)

(One distressing coda to this argument is when I was looking up figures for this point, I ran across several people claiming that despite the increase in bus service along the #33/#32/#31 route, the ridership there has only gone up about 15%. If this is true, it pretty much means that if you want to do a reasonable rapid bus scheme you need to do private ROW, at which point you might as well just put in track and overhead wire, then run the service with [cheaper to operate] streetcars. I didn't mention that to this CPAoft I was arguing with, because it would have been adding insult to injury.)

I guess that if you're shameless enough it doesn't really bother you to regurgitate arguments that have been comprehensively pounded into the ground. How fortunate it is for the rest of us that these arguments make the lies of the B*sh junta look convincing.


Trolley picture of the day (for 3-July-2007)

After a week of seeing basically nothing of a chemin-de-fer nature, a bog-standard SD600 looks like the most beautiful trolley car in the whole wide world.

Jul 04, 2007

Mount Hood from 5500 meters

After a round of east coast security theatre followed by a looooooooooong trip back across the country, it was very very nice to see the local stratovolcanoes heave into view as our 757 descended towards PDX.


A love letter to King George

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
  • For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
  • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. -- And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

(--John Hancock, et alii)

Jul 02, 2007

More bee pictures™


A honeybee working a flowering tree at the Wilross farm in Pleasant Garden NC.


Is that your final answer?

The Democratic Party tries to play nicey-nicey with Satan and the whiny sociopathic bully that the junta installed as supreme leader:

I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table

House speaker Nancy Pelosi

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama laid out list of political shortcomings he sees in the Bush administration but said he opposes impeachment for either President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney.

And what does the Evil Party do with this little love offering? Why, they do exactly what you'd expect them to do; they rip the head off the emissary and send it back in a bag. Again.

But, no, you don't want to impeach Nero, because that would disturb the cozy country-club scene inside the beltway, and old Scooter simply committed treason, instead of doing something unspeakable like coming from a lower-class family.

There are 300 Evil Party bagmen busily gutting the US justice system (starting, of course, with the christopathic sock puppets on the Supreme Court), the federal government has been turned into a banana republic-style patronage engine, and good friends of the B*sh junta can commit treason without threat of any sort of retribution. But, heavens, you can't impeach the emperor or his éminence grise because that would be being mean to those poor misunderstood Republicans.

Jesus wept.

Jul 01, 2007

Photos from a zoological garden, et al

We are finishing up our trip to North Carolina by doing a flurry of social visits in the Greensboro area. Today was a trip to the North Carolina Zoo, which is just down the road in Asheboro (and, since we're members of the Washington Park Oregon Zoo, we got in free thanks to the reciprocal membership agreements between the two zoos.

The visit begged for some photos, so here are the slides from my vacation. Don't leave the room, because I've got another 20 trays of them!


Up the paddle without a creek


The bears play around with parts of the ocean kayak.

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