March 28, 2008 archive

Five Former Secretaries of State: “Shut Down Gitmo”

Five former secretaries of state, three Republicans and two Democrats,  announced their recommendation that the next presidential administration should close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

America’s collective response?  “No shit.”

Note that the recommendation is for the next administration.  No one has any illusions that the Bush administration will pay any attention to mere secretaries of state.  

Pony Party, Phone it in Friday

tomorrow, 8 pm, earth hour:

at this site, you can add your name to the earth hour movement.

Let’s not forget the Neocons are also losing Afghanistan

One of my favorite quotes from Mahatma Ghandi equates violence with evil:

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

The war in Afghanistan proves Ghandi’s point. Seven years of war under Bush and Cheney dislodged the Taliban from power, but has failed to bring peace, rebuild the war-torn infrastructure, foster human rights, or create a viable economy. To date, 491 American and 295 NATO soldiers have given their life in Afghanistan. The civilian and military toll among the Afghanis is uncounted. The American taxpayer is now paying 100 million dollars a day in Afghanistan. The only viable economic options in Afghanistan are growing opium and carrying a gun for the Taliban or a war lord. Education and health care are non-existent. In fact, Iraq is more stable than Afghanistan, a clear sign of failure.

A recent article in the Guardian shows why the American neocons cannot win a war and create a lasting peace with the most powerful military force in the world. Bush and friends live by the following credo:

I love violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the opportunities for corruption and exploitation are endless.

Docudharma Times Friday March 28

My gut is wrenched out it is crunched up and broken

A life that is led is no more than a token

Wholl strike the flint upon the stone and tell me why

Friday’s Headlines: Fed Leaders Ponder an Expanded Mission: Homeland Security delays border crossing rules:  North Korea ‘test-fires missiles’: Mugabe warned of Kenya-style revolt:  Another coup in the world’s most unstable country: Dutch MP Geert Wilders posts explosive anti-Islam film on web: Ultimatum for Italy in cheese dioxin scare: Arab leaders boycott Damascus summit over Lebanon crisis: Demands for inquiry into Israeli shootings:  

Militias Resist Iraqi Forces in Fight for Basra

BAGHDAD – American-trained Iraqi security forces failed for a third straight day to oust Shiite militias from the southern city of Basra on Thursday, even as President Bush hailed the operation as a sign of the growing strength of Iraq’s federal government.

The fighting in Basra against the Mahdi Army, the armed wing of the political movement led by the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, set off clashes in cities throughout Iraq. Major demonstrations were staged in a number of Shiite areas of Baghdad, including Sadr City, the huge neighborhood that is Mr. Sadr’s base of power.

Sutter nurses back on picket line w/poll

The original article is Via DEBORAH GOLDSMITH and POLY MANOLI report from the Bay Area on a 10-day strike by the California Nurses Association:

What are you reading?

The usual list, this time, as I will be out a lot today.

If you would like to guest host on April 11, please let me know.  I will be guest hosting Frugal Fridays.

If you like to trade books, try BookMooch.

cfk has bookflurries on Weds. nights

pico has literature for kossacks on Tues. nights, but it’s on hiatus

What are you reading? is crossposted to docudharma

If you have ideas for future weeks, let me know.  Next week, I am thinking of “books that explain America”

Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh.  What an annoying book.  Singh has a problem: He doesn’t understand Wiles’ proof of the theorem.  That’s not his fault….maybe 100 people on Earth understand it.  I certainly don’t.  But he is to blame for, e.g., getting facts wrong, and his overly gushy writing turns me off.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.  Stunningly good.  This is really three  or four novels, tied together.  It all does connect.  Novel 1 is set at the time of WW 2, and follows Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, and his friend Alan Turing, in efforts to decode German and Japanese codes, and do other neat stuff (fall in love….).  Novel 2 also takes place in WW 2, and features Goto Dengo, an honorable and intelligent Japanese soldier, placed in intolerable situations by the exigencies of war.  Novel 3 (or 2A) is also in WW 2, and follows the adventures of Bobby Shaftoe, a gung ho marine.  Novel 4 is in the near future, and features Avi, who wants to create a data-haven (and use the profits for a very good and interesting cause) – one of his colleagues is Randy Waterhouse (grandson of Lawrence) who is in love with America Shaftoe (grand-daughter of Bobby); one of his investors is Goto Dengo, now an old and very rich businessman.

Along the way we learn about cryptography, geology, mining, spying, mathematics….. along with the old standbys like the nature of love, duty, and honor.  

My third time through this huge book.  It won’t be my last.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.  A fascinating and very well-written biography of a fascinating man (hey, get this! He thought Black people might be as smart as Whites….he opposed slavery….he fought valiantly in the Revolution….)

Gaming the vote: Why elections aren’t fair (and what we can do about it) by William Poundstone.  Fascinating.  This isn’t about cheating or hanging chads or butterfly ballots, it’s about fundamental flaws in our system of voting, and proposed alternatives.

some technical stuff:

Digital Dice: Computational solutions to practical probability problems by Paul Nahin

Lattice: Multivariate data visualization with R by Deepayan Sarkar.  Sarkar won a prize for writing Lattice, now he’s explained how to use it.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

Never Give Up

For the past two years, I’ve boycotted Wal-Mart.  If you’ve paid attention to everything they’ve done, you already know why.  If you haven’t, wake up!

Since I started my boycott, I’ve been trying to convince my mother to join me.  But those low, low prices continued to seduce her, despite my continual explanations about how those obscene prices affected the local economy, which in turn affects us; about how Wal-Mart employees had little-to-no benefits; how Wal-Mart would crush any attempts they made to form a union.  The list goes on and on.

I can understand how important saving money is.  Every penny counts.  But sometimes saving money comes at a greater cost, and this is one of them.  Yet I could not convince my mother that the price she paid was greater than just the money coming out of her bank account.

Yesterday, my mother saw Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person” award go to Wal-Mart for suing a now ex-employee who’d been so severely injured in an accident that she [the employee] can’t remember that her son was killed in Iraq.  She can’t remember that, so she keeps asking about him, and she keeps having to relive learning that her son is dead.  Wal-Mart sued her for $470,000 to recover their costs for providing her medical care because it’s one of the clauses in the employee contract.  She only had $417,000 in a trust fund.  Wal-Mart sued her for everything she had, and they won.

Today, my mother told me she won’t go to Wal-Mart anymore.  She’s going to drop her Sam’s Club membership.  She told me this story is what finally did it for her.

It makes me think: never give up.  You never know what straw will be the last.

President Bush Relegated to Sippy Cup

Order was finally restored this morning when President George W. Bush was issued a sippy cup. Last night, in what is being referred to as the “Grape Juice Incident”, President Bush lost his big boy glass privileges after spilling his nighty-night drink all over the Oval Office carpet.

“No matter where my Georgie goes,” said his bemused wife Laura, “he is sure to leave a mess. You should see the havoc he cases when we traveling overseas. After George leaves, I always get calls that the place looks like a hurricane went through.”

Others did not find the situation so funny. One anonymous source says this is the biggest fiasco since the infamous “CookieGate”, where President Bush was busted stashing two chocolate chip cookies under his pillow.

“Look, I am the decider, and I decided to put juice on my family with this here cup,” President Bush said in a hastily called press conference concerning his downgrade in glassware. “I promise you I will listen to what has been said about my cup, even though I wasn’t here. I’m the commander of my sippy cup – see, I don’t need to explain – I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being president.”

“This big boy glass stuff is a little frustrating,” he continued, sipping his afternoon milk with the safety top securely screwed on. “I’m the master of low expectations.”

There is no word when Bush will be granted big boy glass privileges again. Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten suggested that Administration will withdraw the sippy cup when Bush learns to “not destroy every single **expletive** thing he touches.”

money’s gone, time to blow the popstand

Non-Borrowed reserves of US depository institutions (1950 – 02/2008) – Source Federal reserve of Saint Louis

writing in the raw: anybody know what freedom is, really?

Arlington West – March 2008 – Honoring The Fallen

Before dawn every Sunday morning, at the foot of the Santa Monica Pier, volunteers set up crosses in memory of American service members killed in Iraq.

The Video was produced for the New York Times and can be also seen At Their Site

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