December 29, 2007 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Weak end to 2007 expected for carmakers


Sat Dec 29, 10:57 AM ET

DETROIT – Industry analysts are predicting a lackluster end to an already dismal year for automakers, likely the worst in nearly a decade.

Holiday discounts failed to bring consumers out of their funk, and December sales are expected to fall around 4 percent, which would bring the full-year total for U.S. auto sales to 16.1 million vehicles, the lowest volume since 1998.

Sales have been hurt by consumer anxiety over gas prices, the housing crunch and the overall weakening economy.

Industry watchers warn that the 2008 auto sales performance could be even weaker.

A Force More Powerful


Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization.

We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

– Abraham Flexner  


War is a Racket.

– General Smedley Butler

The creative and inventive list of nonviolent peace strategies below is from the website A Force More Powerful:


There is also a game available; read about it here:



A few days ago a friend sent me this link, knowing my curmudgeonly bent.  

The Edge Annual Question – 2007


It’s a great site, and full of things to think about. Mostly Science based.

I know Compound F is familiar with it…

maybe other are too.  plf515 I’m guessing, Kurzweil is my first selection.…

and with recent inspiration from Fearless Leader…

and the early classic…

and most succinctly:

What is the basis for your optimism? (4.00 / 2)

“We can’t change the country. Let us change the subject.” Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses, by James Joyce(1922).  


by: oculus @ Mon Oct 08, 2007 at 15:47:57 PDT


optimism (4.00 / 2)

Reality is the result of war between two rival groups of progammers, so….Yell Louder!!!


by: buhdydharma @ Mon Oct 08, 2007 at 19:22:44 PDT


Me? Not so much.

In my search of DD, I found 33 comments with the word ‘optimism’, 13 with ‘optimist’, 51 with ‘optimistic’,  some of these comments included the word ‘not’.

Below is a sampling of some of the things written by a selection of the rest of the world’s best minds.  I haven’t read every one, so I just picked some whose names I recognized, then a couple of whom I had never heard.  (sorry, it’s still beaten into me).   Some are chosen just for their snark value. My sense so far is that many are optimistic about advances/improvements in their field, and then how maybe this translates into a better world.  Like I said, there’s lots there, so those of you who are looking for some rays of sunshine, take your time and browse.  Post if you find something you like.  I believe most are using a ‘soft’ definition of ‘optimism’, along the lines of ‘some things will get better’, contrast with ‘worst-case scenario’.

Tech Talk

I’ve been playing around with various content management systems looking for one that had both sidebars and the ability to enter raw html and javascripts into static pages.  It also had to have the ability for people to register and post their own bits of coding and development ideas.  

So on the same server as the e-zine demo I installed Geeklog.  The installation isn’t perfect, I’ll most likely be re-installing it but wanted to use this imperfect installation as an example to people.  Setting up a new CMS, blog, ad system can take time and you won’t always get it right.  Each server has their own security protocols and ways of arranging the information.  So don’t get discouraged if you have an issue.  Visit the user forums for your particular system, re-read the instructions on your host and try another installation.  Simply delete the existing one using your script installation tool on your server.  Then begin again.


The Economy is Now the #1 Issue for Voters from Both Parties

The Republicans can feel our pain! Finally, we have something emotional to share with them. Something that can bring us together as a nation. [They still don’t care about all the Iraqi citizens we killed by invading their nation; nor do they care much about the beautiful and ancient country that we destroyed.]

But they DO care about themselves and their pocketbooks. Hey, it’s a start.

And right on schedule. I predicted, starting in January and enduring throughout 2008, the Economy and its little sisters:  Health Care, Wages, and Inflation will become the topic of the year for everyday Americans. And not just for the middle class (who are now the “new poor,” of course). The pain will be felt most sharply by the upper-middle class, who are likely to tumble faster and further. This one transcends political affiliation.

I am not predicting an economic collapse in 2008. Believe me, there is much manipulation going on among the world’s central banks to keep the overall US economy stable — at least at the asset-value level (sans homeowner-type real estate). The plunge of the Dollar may actually level out a bit, despite the dismal reality-based fundamentals. And that will happen by design. The Plutocrats have some control over the economic buoyancy of the US — and they’ve got all their fingers in the dyke, standing firm to gain Republican electoral traction until after November 2008. Meanwhile, they continue to move all of their wealth offshore as fast as they can. But more on that another time…


Originally posted at Teacher’s Lounge

One of the reasons I put such a high value on commentary is that there are times when a comment or two can snap things back into focus…or at least remind us of another time and another focus that perhaps needs to be revisited.

At the end of this semester, besides being 60 years old, I will have been a teacher for 32 years.  I have taken it as an article of faith that what I have been doing is trying to find more and better ways of expound upon Truth.  I have told the same stories over and over again in a myriad different ways, looking for the light bulbs and trying to measure their luminosity.

Outside the classroom the world becomes my classroom and Truth is no longer restricted to learning mathematics or computer languages, but rather about life in general.  In particular I have focused on what goes on in the human brain.  The only one I happen to be able to experiment upon is my own, so there is bound to be bias in my sample.  But I have concentrated on the possible, not on the probable, so I’ve not considered that too much of a flaw.

When Animals Attack

Overcovered in a shameless play to the cheap seats for at least the past three days has been the fatal attack Christmas Day on 17-year-old Carlos Susa and two others who were injured by Tatiana, a Siberian tiger at the San Francisco zoo.

Not to discount Carlos’ family’s tragedy, just pointing out how this has gotten to be a real media circus with media whores coming out of the woodwork to use it as a way to get their Warholian 15 minutes of fame.

Pony Party: Curling

Curling. Not this is not about the styling of hair.

A few words about Canada’s second favorite sport and also a hit in northern states where winter is long and there is ice around. If you live in a climate with endless winter you need to have a winter sport or activity. Your other option is not to go outside for several months, sit around, brood, and drink. Some people chose that option. They end up shooting somebody or needing a stint on a psych ward.

I favored hockey and cross country skiing. When I went to university our institution sat on several acres of undeveloped land owned by said institution. Several of us used to leave our gear in a near by student lounge. My cousin Chris who hails from  the gateway of northern Ontario, likes ice fishing and the ski-doo.

I am only a casual curling fan. I watch the big events and know a few of the top names.

Canadians love curling and they do pretty well at it at international events.

The biggest event tend to be the Brier Cup which is for the men, although women’s curling also gets good attendance and TV ratings. Curling events in Canada get huge television audiences.

It can resemble “bowling on ice” or tiddlywinks and is highly strategic.

Here are some instructions on how to deliver a rock….

Apparently about 2.5% of Canadians are actively involved in curling and a majority of them live in rural prairie areas. If you had ever been to a rural prairie area in the winter you would gain great understanding as to why it has appeal. There is fuck all else to do. Another interesting fact 20 percent of those in curling have a bachelors degree. Curling likely originated in Scotland and was made popular in Canada by immigrants.

A team is composed of four players and the captain is the “skip”, generally the skip is a good strategist. The first throws a stone down the ice. There are multiple strategies, generally the first few stones thrown act as guards. The first will sweep for the second, the second and first will sweep for the third and so on. The skip will advise his/her teammates on how to sweep and when to back off. Teams will compete by both trying to set up good blocking stones and to knock out an opposition stone while laying their own closest to the center of what looks like a target. So, you can’t win just by throwing hard. A game consists of eight “ends”, essentially each team has eight “turns.”

I have made it seem far less complicated than it actually is.

Another thing about curling. Although it has some colorful figures. Russ Howard was known for serious enthusiasm, shouting jumping, talking loudly, poor sportsmanship just doesn’t exist. It is considered embarrassing and tacky. Crowds don’t boo or hiss.

The Canadian Curling Association has a pretty extensive website if you want to know more.

So what is your winter-chase-the blues-away activity? Remember don’t rec pony party, hang out chit chat, and then go read some excellent offerings from our recent and rec’d list.


How did this Country end up with such a bunch of Uninteligent Criminals?

Never mind answering, I already know, we are what we hire or allow to steal those jobs, it’s been coming for a Long Time, and Now we’re going to suffer the consequences for as Long or Longer!

And what do ‘We The People’ do, Not A Damn thing as to holding anyone accountible for the actions taken ‘In Our Names’!

When You Know The Truth, The Facts Don’t Seem So Important

I don’t very often post an essay that is not at least in part my own writing, but this in my opinion is important enough for as many as possible to know to aid in understanding how we got to where we are today that… well, here it is.

Cross posted at OOIBC and Edgeing

Jason Leopold of Truthout interviews Craig Unger, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, on the Rise of the Christian Right and Neoconservatism.

Unger garnered national attention with his previous book, House of Bush, House of Saud. Michael Moore cited it as a key source for Fahrenheit 9/11, and the film popularized the author’s reports on Saudi investments in Bush family enterprises.

In his new book, The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America’s Future, Unger turns his attention to neoconservative officials and theorists. At times he focuses so closely on neocon tactics that he misses other forces driving Bush-Cheney policies. Even so, the book offers a vivid account of the use of disinformation to promote extremism.

Leopold: Craig, thank you for being with truthout today. What are some of the issues in your new book that we don’t know about – that the public does not know about?

Unger: Well, I think we’ve been told again and again that we got into the war in Iraq beacause of intelligence failures – that various things just turned out not to be true – that we made one mistake after another.

I actually think we got into the war for exactly the opposite reason – because of intelligence successes – and by that I mean black propaganda operations – disinformation.

Chris Pepus of Chicago Reader takes the book review further for us with…

Bush and the Neocons

By Chris Pepus, Chicago Reader, Thursday 20 December 2007 (via Truthout)

When you know the Truth, the facts don’t seem so important.

an expression of thanks

which I am offering only here.  I was invited when this site was being organized, but could not make a commitment to be a regular contributor. Nor can I make such a commitment now.  But many of those here and as part of the offlist group have meant a lot to me, both their own writing and by the support they have given mine.  I am actually quite insecure about many things, including my writing.  Thus the willingness of others to read what I offer, to comment, to criticize constructively and challenge where appropriate, has helped me improve both my thinking and my writing.

Today is our wedding anniversary, #22, about which I have diaried in a number of places.  And as await for Leaves on the Current to return home from NJ (she is now in transit), rather than doing school work, I am being reflective in a somewhat different way.

Each milestone we can mark on our live’s paths provides an opportunity for saying “now what?”   It is not that we cannot appreciate what we have managed despite all odds to achieve, nor is it necessary that we bemoan where we have missed the mark (and I will win no medals for my own accuracy this past year).  

I have always been shy but an extravert, a dangerous combination, because in most social situations I have trouble maintaining balance.  I find as I age I become increasingly introverted, even as my caring for other people deepens.  I am far less likely to attend purely social functions.  For the first time in 9 years at my school I did not attend my dpeartmental holiday celebration.  I could have –  I had had to make an emergnecy trip north for an issue involving the athletics at my alma mater, but I was back in the DC area in time to have stopped, picked up some food, and arrived basically on time.  But I found myself relieved to have a legitimate reason not to attend, perhaps because at the school-wide celebration I found myself wanting to withdraw somewhat.

And perhaps the change in the nature of the subjects about which I find myself drawn to write are a further indicator of this.   I do want my words read – I am insecure that way, which is why so often I tell other people when I have posted, hoping that they will at least glance at my words.  But today I realize that it doesn’t matter.  My task is to wrestle with what I perceive and think, to express it in a fashion that MIGHT be of use to others, but then to let go – of ownership, of concern.  Or as the words of Paul and Ringo said sime 4 decades ago,  “Let it be.’

Thank you all for putting up with my insecurity.  For being willing to share your time with me, even if only by occasionally reading.

At various points in my life I seriously considered becoming a monk.  But my spiritual father on Mount Athos told me back in 1983 that while I might make a good monk, my calling was elsewhere – he told me to go back into the world and marry Leaves.  He also told me things about our nature, even though he never met Leaves – somehow he knew.  And I have struggled for more than 2 decades to live up to the insight he offered me then.

I will be 62 in May.  My mother died before she was 50. my father lived on until his 84th birthday.  I do not know how much longer I might live.   But in that time I am drawn increasingly to simpler truths.  I ask then when I do write you be unafraid of challenging me.  My words should not be for my benefit, and if they do not speak to others there is no point in offering them.

I am sorry I cannot now offer more clarity, but I am slowly coming to an understanding of how I must live and what I must do.  It will require me still to grow, of course, to change in some ways small (which is often far more difficult) and in others on a lrger scale.

Again, thanks for your friendship, your tolerance, your patience.


A Time To Share

For those who are able, the week before New Year’s can be a perfect time to contribute to charitable, public service, and arts organizations. It’s the holiday season, and for those who are on vacation, there is time to focus. I ask all of you to please tell us about, and preferably link, your favorite non-profits. I’m particularly interested in lesser known, local organizations.

Large and small, and mostly in their own words, these are some of my personal favorites (which do not necessarily reflect the views of DocuDharma or any of the other bloggers at DD):

Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment

The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment is an environmental justice litigation organization dedicated to helping grassroots groups across the United States attack head on the disproportionate burden of pollution borne by poor people and people of color. We provide organizing, technical and legal assistance to help community groups stop immediate environmental threats. In the 16 years that CRPE has been helping the poor and people of color resist toxic intrusions and protect their environmental health, among our many victories we have beaten toxic waste incinerators, forced oil refineries to use cleaner technology, beaten a 55,000-cow mega-dairy, stopped numerous tire burning proposals, helped bring safe drinking water to various rural communities, stopped a garbage dump on the Los Coyotes reservation in southern California, and empowered hundreds of local residents along the way. Our ongoing campaigns fall into three broad areas:

Air Quality

Clean Water

Civil Rights

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