October 20, 2007 archive

The One

(Updated from one year ago…)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketTrinity: I know why you’re here, Dharmaniac. I know what you’ve been doing… why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit by your computer. You’re looking for him. I know because I was once looking for the same thing. And when he found me, he told me I wasn’t really looking for him. I was looking for an answer. It’s the question that drives us, Dharmaniac. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.

Will He Run?

Saturday Night Bike Blogging: Legal Cycle Commuting

After a fortnight hiatus, I’m back with another Saturday Night Bike Blog … as always, this is a cycling open thread as well as a place to talk about whatever issue leaps into my head as I recover from a hard week of cycle commuting.

And a hard week of cycle commuting it was … I was called each day this week, and on Thursday evening I hit a pothole and bent my rear wheel and one of the stays for the rear wheel, so I struggled getting to work on the old 3-Speed Schwinn … with the bottom gear not working until I fixed it up before heading home, and having to stop and adjust the rear tire which worked its way off true (and I had a frission of fear that it was my second bent wheel in as many trips).

So the topic today, obviously, is the legalities of cycling. In response to ???, once I have everything fixed up, maybe I’ll talk about equipment, but I don’t want to jinx nothing.

Where can you ride legally, and on roads that you can ride on legally, how do you ride legally? This is a state by state issue, but, fortunately, there are online resources to work out the situation in your state. A major compendium is made available courtesy of MassBike: The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, with their State Bike Laws link page. However, be aware that the list of links was put together some time ago, and some State Department’s of Transportation, etc., have reorganized their sites since then, leaving a number of bad links.

Four at Four

  1. Lisa Foderaro of The New York Times reports that after four years of war and occupations, some are Old enough now to hear how a parent died at war.

    CamerynLee was only 3 years old when her father, Lance Cpl. Eric J. Orlowski, a Marine Corps reservist, was killed in an accidental shooting during the first days of the Iraq war. Now 8, she is suddenly hungry for information about the man she remembers only in sketchy vignettes…

    In a grim marker of the longevity of the war, children who were infants or toddlers when they lost a parent in action are growing up. In the process, they are coming to grips with death in new, more mature and at times more painful ways — pondering a parent they barely knew, asking pointed questions about the circumstances of the death and experiencing a kind of delayed grief…

    Ms. Kross also showed her daughter a letter that her husband wrote from Kuwait City, which began, “What’s up ladies?” He ended it by telling CamerynLee to be a “good girl for Mommy” and urging Nicole, a former Air Force Reservist, to “take care of yourself.”

    It was the first time that Ms. Kross had shown the letter to CamerynLee, a sprite of a girl with a gentle voice and large blue eyes.

    “I think about him every day,” CamerynLee said as she studied the letter. “I remember cooking with him. He was helping me flip the sausages. I remember him carrying me. I wish he was still alive.”

    I think the impact on these children’s lives is a deep, deep scar America. Not only will these children be forever paying for Bush’s total, endless wars, but they also lost a parent who loved and cared for them. The world becomes a little lonelier when a parent dies, but to lose a father or mother to a war of choice is horrible. How many more mommies and daddies need to die? Why?

  2. According to the Washington Post, More emigrants head east, not west, for a better life. Ariana Eunjung Cha reports:

    For a growing number of the world’s emigrants, China — not the United States — is the land where opportunities are endless, individual enterprise is rewarded and tolerance is universal…

    While China doesn’t officially encourage immigration, it has made it increasingly easy — especially for businesspeople or those with entrepreneurial dreams and the cash to back them up — to get long-term visas. Usually, all it takes is getting an invitation letter from a local company or paying a broker $500 to write one for you.

    There are now more than 450,000 people in China with one- to five-year renewable residence permits, almost double the 230,000 who had such permits in 2003. An additional 700 foreigners carry the highly coveted green cards introduced under a system that went into effect in 2004.

    China’s approach seems to be strategically centered on countries where “long-term contracts for oil, gas and minerals” are possible. Part of the Chinese plans is to “portray” their country “as more open to Islam than other non-Muslim nations.” The Chinese government, over the past 20 years, have allowed mosques and other cultural institutions, including schools, to be rebuilt.

    “In America, for people with my religion there can be a lot of problems,” said Adamou Salissou, 25, from Niger. “The image they have of Muslims is that they are terrorists. Chinese don’t have a problem with religion. They think, ‘It’s your religion and it’s okay.’ “

There’s still more today below the fold, including a story about Iraqi refugees in Kurdistan fearing an attack from Turkey, another episode of “Guns of Greed”, and a bonus story about Neanderthals. Plus, remember Four at Four is, as always an OPEN THREAD. See you on the flip side.

Datamining 2.0 : Where are you from?

I guess fell into the role of dataminer–for a while–until people get bored with it.

Results from, “How old Are you?”

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Opps, Range = 56 years from 22 to 78 that I know of–some people didn’t want to reveal their age; oculus is either very old, or very young (or just modest…Nayh).

Lady of War

lady of war t

Stossel debunks Gore

I posted a similar diary at dailykos so if you don’t want to read this, it is OK.
Stossel diary

(I just got so frustrated with the 300 to 1150 characters thing….it took me an hour to figure it out!)

Last night, I watched John Stossel on 20/20. I hadn’t watched 20/20 in a long time, now I remember why!

Don’t let the obvious — and deadly — failures become triumphs.

I just frontpaged a short piece over on ePluribus Media called “About that weapons cache…” — Good News and Bad News, but it’s important enough to repeat in full here…

Great news, folks! This just in from Reuters:

19 tons of explosives found in Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. forces in Iraq discovered nearly 19 tons of explosives in a weapons cache north of Baghdad this week, one of the biggest finds of its kind, the U.S. military said on Saturday.

[…snip…] More at link in title

Isn’t that wonderful? 19 tons!

Of course, if the Bush Administration hadn’t lost 380 tons of explosives just over three years ago, we might have something more significant to crow over. (Make the jump…)

fuck the conventional wisdom; and hello, blessed unrest

i am so bone-achingly tired of how we insist on going back to strategies that do NOT work. we have been conditioned to worry about what we say and show deference and respect to those with power who are, imnho, among the most ethically bankrupt and meaningless of human beings and creatures on this earth.

the old “might is right” methods of keeping us in herds (communities) and regulated needs to be overturned. period.


update: h/t to Tigana for those two wonderful words together… blessed unrest… a way to define this thing we are doing… bravo, Tigana!


If our near extraterrestrial neighbors are aware of us at all, I’m sure we’re an embarrassment.  Must we forever be the savage planet?  Is civilization less a veneer and more an illusion?  Does it have to be this way?  Are humans really this bad – this hopeless?  Is war a permanent feature of the human condition?

Sometimes I wonder.  But then I think of Michelangelo, said to be somewhat beastly himself, and yet a font of beauty, transcendent and sublime – and I have reason to hope that we are better than our history suggests.  Even in all our crudeness there is something profound within us.



Sometimes, a number is so stunning that all you can do is stare.


Look at it.

Think about it.

Less than one-fourth.

The most unpopular president ever.

According to Reuters:

Bush’s job approval rating fell to 24 percent from last month’s record low for a Zogby poll of 29 percent.

Down five percent. In one month.

Down five percent, in one month, from the previous record low!

The mind reels. The mind stumbles. The mind falls down.

The national telephone survey of 991 likely voters, conducted October 10 through October 14, found barely one-quarter of Americans, or 26 percent, believe the country is headed in the right direction.

The poll found declining confidence in U.S. economic and foreign policy. About 18 percent gave positive marks to foreign policy, down from 24 percent, and 26 percent rated economic policy positively, down from 30 percent.

You know what’s worse than being a president with a record low 24% approval rating? Being an opposition party that is incapable of opposing a president with a record low 24% approval rating.

It’s embarrassing.

It’s humiliating.

Considering the real life consequences, it’s also disastrous.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spent part of yesterday running from her Democratic colleague, Rep. Pete Stark. Stark said bad things about Bush.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spent part of last week running from his colleague, Sen. Chris Dodd. Dodd tried to stop a bad Bush policy.

Pelosi and Reid did not spend much time running from Bush.

They did not resolve to stop his war.

They did not resolve to stop him from torturing people.

They did not resolve to stop him from indiscriminately spying on the American people.

They did not resolve to force him to comply with subpoenas.

They did not resolve to force him to comply with laws, national and international.

The elected leaders of the Democratic Party are afraid to stand up to a president with a 24% approval rating.

The elected leaders of the Democratic Party are afraid of being criticized for standing up to a president with a 24% approval rating.

Perhaps that’s why Reuters also reported this Zogby poll result:

A paltry 11 percent gave Congress a positive grade, tying last month’s record low.

Paltry. That’s a good word for it: paltry.

Congress always polls poorly. But this is a record. A record of paltriness.

11 percent!

They’re less popular than Bush.

They’re less than half as popular as Bush!

It’s clearly not from opposing him, because they clearly haven’t.

Maybe it’s time they tried something different.

Maybe it’s time they tried opposing him.

For real.

Because if you can’t stand up to a president with a 24% approval rating, what can you stand up to? What can you stand for?

Pony Party: Seattle-er Edition

A few things I noticed about Seattle: people actually walked to places!!! Downtown parking prices may well have encouraged that, plus they had these things called sidewalks!! Memphis city planners might want to look into this whole sidewalk phenomenon. Oddly enough, I think there might have been a connection between people walking and the fact that there seemed to be fewer people with weight issues compared to the south. I really think a smart scientist type might want to intensively study that.

Factual Challenges

The New York Times Book Review assigned Stanford history professor David Kennedy to review Paul Krugman's new book, “The Conscience of a Liberal.” It is an extremely negative review. I have not read the book so can not comment on it but I did read the review. And I found it inconsistent to say the least. For example, after chiding Krugman for being, in Kennedy's words, “factually shaky,”  he then writes:

For this dismal state of affairs the Democratic Party is held to be blameless. Never mind the Democrats’ embrace of inherently divisive identity politics, or Democratic condescension toward the ungrammatical yokels who consider their spiritual and moral commitments no less important than the minimum wage or the Endangered Species Act, nor even the Democrats’ vulnerable post-Vietnam record on national security.

Ummm, that all sounds factually shaky to me. What is the basis of Kennedy's statement? A fact or 2 to support this sweeping claim, especially from someone throwing stones, might have been in order. Kennedy continues:

As Krugman sees it, the modern Republican Party has been taken over by radicals. “There hasn’t been any corresponding radicalization of the Democratic Party, so the right-wing takeover of the G.O.P. is the underlying cause of today’s bitter partisanship.” No two to tango for him. The ascendancy of modern conservatism is “an almost embarrassingly simple story,” he says, and race is the key. “Much of the whole phenomenon can be summed up in just five words: Southern whites started voting Republican. … End of story.”

A fuller and more nuanced story might at least gesture toward the role that environmental and natural-resource issues have played in making red-state country out of the interior West, not to mention the unsettling effects of the “value issues” on voters well beyond Dixie. . . .

Again, this seems factually shaky to me. A few facts to support his view on this. As far I can see, Kennedy replaces his opinions for Krugman's. Fair enough. But not fair enough when a reviewer is decrying factual shakiness.

Now this part just seems plain dumb to me:

For all that he inveighs against the evils of partisanship, Krugman astonishingly concludes by repudiating the chimera of “bipartisan compromise” and declaring that “to be a progressive, then, means being a partisan — at least for now.”

What is astonishing about that? Krugman's point is that faced with a Republican Party that will not engage in bipartisanship or even nod a progressive goals, there is little choice for anyone looking to advance a progressive agenda. Krugman has made the commonsense, almost obvious, observation that when the Republican Party has definitively eschewed “bipartisanship,” it is impossible to embrace it. Indeed, in Kennedy's words, it takes two to tango.

Kennedy's misunderstanding of this simple and obvious insight leads him to write silliness like this:


Indeed, at times he seems more intent on settling his neocon adversaries’ hash than on advancing solutions to vexed policy issues. “Yes, Virginia, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy,” he writes, a sentence that both stylistically and substantively says much about the shortcomings of this book.

But this is the whole point. You can not “advance solutions to vexed policy issues” without settling partisan hash, thanks to the takeover of the Republican Party by the most extreme movements in our country. And here's the funny thing – Kennedy AGREES:

That assorted wing nuts have pretty much managed to hijack the Republican Party in recent years is scarcely in doubt.

But Kennedy fails to address Krugman's thesis that to “advance solutions to vexed policy issues,” today's extremist Republican Party must be defeated and the Republican Party must be remade in order to allow for the much desired “bipartisnship” that Kennedy, following the High Broderism, desires against all odds.

In short, the review is pretty lousy.

Load more