January 16, 2009 archive

Energize America: W5 Solution: PHESBs

The draft  “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” went out today.  Let’s be upfront: it has some GREAT elements and some, well, pretty not great aspects.    We are in a very serious situation, but the serious challenge is not just economic, but an intersecting set of challenges and crises in the very deep hole that George the W and cronies created for us (the US and all of us).  

As we strive to stop digging deeper and climb our way out, we should seek for W5 solutions that have wins across multiple arenas: near-term jobs; long-term economic growth; strengthen civil society; promote energy independence; and fight the climate crisis.

Concepts to provide multi-faceted solutions have been core to

Energize America from its earliest moments. Here is a second “W5 Solution”: Plug-In Hybrid-Electric School Buses (PHESBs).

Docudharma Times Friday January 16

Chesley B. Sullenberger

You Are The Man

Friday’s Headlines:

Democrats unveil stimulus plan, but warn it won’t do job

UAE in line to become first Arab country with nuclear power

Kim Sengupta: Claims that Israel is using illegal bombs won’t go away

The thinking man’s oligarch with his eye on a British institution

Marc Dutroux house of horrors to be razed

Chinese women ‘want more babies’

Miliband begins key Pakistan trip

War crimes charges rattle Sudan

Mugabe ‘to hold talks with rival’

All 155 Escape Jet’s Plunge Into Hudson


Published: January 15, 2009

A US Airways jetliner with 155 people aboard lost power in both engines, possibly from striking birds, after taking off from La Guardia Airport on Thursday afternoon. The pilot ditched in the icy Hudson River and all on board were rescued by a flotilla of converging ferries and emergency boats, the authorities said.

What might have been a catastrophe in New York – one that evoked the feel if not the scale of the Sept. 11 attack – was averted by a pilot’s quick thinking and deft maneuvers, and by the nearness of rescue boats, a combination that witnesses and officials called miraculous.

Japan’s Outcasts Still Wait for Society’s Embrace


Published: January 15, 2009

KYOTO, Japan – For Japan, the crowning of Hiromu Nonaka as its top leader would have been as significant as America’s election of its first black president.

Despite being the descendant of a feudal class of outcasts, who are known as buraku and still face social discrimination, Mr. Nonaka had dexterously occupied top posts in Japan’s governing party and served as the government’s No. 2 official. The next logical step, by 2001, was to become prime minister. Allies urged him on.

But not everyone inside the party was ready for a leader of buraku origin. At least one, Taro Aso, Japan’s current prime minister, made his views clear to his closest associates in a closed-door meeting in 2001.

“Are we really going to let those people take over the leadership of Japan?” Mr. Aso said, according to Hisaoki Kamei, a politician who attended the meeting.



Bank of America gets $20 billion more from U.S.

The federal government also agrees to share losses on $118 billion of the company’s assets.

Reporting from Washington and New York — Months after the worst of the financial crisis seemed to have passed, fears of debilitating losses for the nation’s banks returned to the forefront Thursday on Wall Street and in Washington.

The federal government said late Thursday night that it had agreed to invest an additional $20 billion in Bank of America Corp. and to share losses on $118 billion of the company’s assets.

The announcement came after a Senate vote gave President-elect Barack Obama access to the second half of the government’s $700-billion financial rescue fund.

Earlier in the day, traders pounded financial stocks on growing worries about the sector and on market rumors that Citigroup Inc. or Bank of America — or both — could even be nationalized.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Pretty Bauble

A Friday

At my computer desk

eight Wordpad files opened

I strike the keys

that transmogrify

into the symbols on the screen

readable, if one is able

and also can see

and chooses to look

My mind wanders

The Canyon


between here and there

Forest Hills and Bird’s Hill

full of mud and nettles

and The Trail and The Log

and The Creek

full of crawdads and frogs

and squiggly things

I sit and think

and watch a squirrel

or with luck, a chipmunk

And I wonder

About the difference

between someone

who really crafts poetry

over a long period of time

for it will be an even longer time

until they are heard or read

and someone like me

who publishes

random thoughts

truths maybe

sketched out

and strung together

cut and slashed

within hours after it is written

and has the audacity

to call it poetry


cannot be determined

by the writer

But I preferred

The Woods

to the Canyon anyhow

and seldom went

to The Meadow

And now to create something

that looks nice

while I can still see it

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 28, 2008

Late Night Karaoke

Friday Shindig


Suggestions for GOP’rs

In order to not seem like I only criticize, I would like to make some helpful suggestions to those who consider themselves part of the “religious right” and/or a GOP supporter.  

A Link For The Moment (Railroad)

I was looking for some history and got some ideas:

: Where does the expression “to ride some one out on a rail” come from?

: Thanks for any information.

TARRED AND FEATHERED – “At Salem, on September 7, 1768, an informer named Robert Wood ‘was stripped, tarred and feathered and placed on a hogshead under the Tree of Liberty on the Common.’ This is the first record of the term ‘tarred and feathered’ in America. Tarring and feathering was a cruel punishment where hot pine tar was applied from head to toe on a person and goose feathers were stuck into the tar. The person was then ignited and ridden out of town on a rail (tied to a splintery rail), beaten with sticks and stoned all the while. A man’s skin often came off when he removed the tar. It was a common practice to tar and feather Tories who refused to join the revolutionary cause, one much associated with the Liberty Boys, but the practice was known here long before the Revolution. In fact, it dates back even before the first English record of tarring and feathering, an 1189 statute made under Richard the Lionhearted directing that any thief voyaging with the Crusaders ‘shal have his head shorne and boyling pitch powred upon his head, and feathers or downe strewn upon the same, whereby he may be known, and so at the first landing place they shal come to, there to be cast up.’ Though few have been tarred and feathered or ridden out of town on a rail in recent years, the expression remains to describe anyone subjected to indignity and infamy.” From “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).


Martin Luther King Jr. Part I

A short summary.

I’m a great admirer of Dr. King and his methods of direct action and community organizing.  If he were alive today would be his 79th birthday.  In celebration of his life and work I’m putting together a brief outline of some of his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

My primary source is going to be the Wikipedia, not because it’s especially good or complete, but simply because I think it’s instructive to see how this pivotal and relatively recent period in American History is treated by their procedures and writers (for a slightly longer discussion of my feelings about Wikipedia read here).

Brief as my treatment is, it’s slightly longer than I can comfortably fit in a single diary so I’m going to split it up into several sections, all of which I hope to publish by the official celebration of his birthday the 19th.  I do have some regularly scheduled diaries that will interrupt the series on Friday and Sunday.

Coal Mining Under Homes, Lakes & Farms

How comfortable would you feel knowing that “planned subsidence” mining was being conducted 600-1,000 feet underneath your home? It all starts with a letter notifying you that the mining will commence anytime in the next 5 years. Next come the contractors with bulldozers to knock down your trees and clear your fields. Then you hear the underground mining noises that are not as freightening as the continual earthquake rumblings and the above-ground noises of your house falling apart while the streams explode before they vanish. After a year-long investigation, The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) revealed how homeowners feel violated, anxious and stressed out as their dream home and real property are legally destroyed.

A new way to communicate

I was pretty disappointed at the Obama administration’s online response to Bob Fertik’s question about appointing a special prosecutor. But then, it blew my socks off to see George Stephanopoulos ask him about it on “This Week” last Sunday. And now almost every major news organization is talking about torture during the Bush administration and the potential for prosecution. This was an example of a relatively small group of people having a HUGE impact. When we can find ways to get the MSM talking about the issues we care about, whadayaknow…we might just have a democracy again!!!

Now I see that the change.gov web site has a new vehicle for dialogue going on called Citizen’s Briefing Book. Looks like you can write a short essay making a suggestion to the Obama administration. Readers can come in a comment on your suggestion (kinda like a blog, huh?) and/or vote on it. The best rated ideas will be presented in a “briefing book” to President Obama after he is sworn in.


Adieu, George

Goodbye, George. It’s time for you to go. Long past time, to be blunt. The low, shameful  years during  which you strutted and fretted upon the world stage, full of sound and fury but signifying less than nothing, are finally over. And what an eight years they have been! They were certainly the most eventful period in my lifetime — and I’m old enough to remember the Nixon era.  It feels strange now, at the end, to be so completely indifferent to you and anything you might have left to say or do. All I can manage now is a sense of weary resignation at the prospect of cleaning up the mess  you’ve left behind. You’ve left us so much to be angry about, if we only had the energy to be angry.

Terrorism? You’re 0-1 on the terrorism front, George. Much as you’d like us to believe that you magically appeared on the scene on 9/12/01 and took charge, the simple fact is that the attacks of 9/11 took place eight months into your watch. You “own” them, George – and you own the consequences.

Your self-described role as “war president,” a role you embraced with such juvenile abandon? You’re 0-2 there. Iraq, that monument to ego and hubris, remains a question mark; my personal sense is that, within a couple of years after we complete our withdrawal, the locals will go back to slaughtering each other with the same gusto with which they’ve slaughtered each other for 1500 years. As for Afghanistan, the good war, the war that a majority of Americans – including me – believe we needed to fight, things there are going very badly indeed.  Your hand-picked puppet, Ahmid Kharzai, has been reduced to nothing more than the de facto mayor of Kabul, and an independent analysis recently concluded that the Taliban have managed to put “a stranglehold around Kabul.” Afghanistan cannot end well, and history will blame your pointless sideshow in Iraq for the loss.

Let’s turn to the economy, George. The consequences of  particular brand of laissez-faire, buccaneer Capitalism has forced the pundits and economists to keep reaching farther and farther back in American history to find comparisons. In some cases, they’ve had to reach all the way back to those halcyon days of Herbert Hoover to find equivalent levels of damage to our economic structure inflicted by the man in the White House. Think of it, George: for centuries to come, historians will  mention your name in the same breath as Herbert Hoover.

And looming over all of it, possibly the greatest obscenity of your entire time with us, is the disaster known as “Katrina.” What made it a disaster was your sad, laughable (non) response to the crisis; if there was ever a moment when the phrase “crime of omission” had meaning, it was in August 2005.

It’s an odd thing, George: if one were of a paranoid mindset, one might wonder: do you actually hate America? It’s a question that really does need to be asked, so complete and all-encompassing has been the damage you have inflicted on America in your relatively brief time at the helm.

As you strut off into the sunset in your trademark plenty-tough kippy-ki-yay cowboy fashion, grinning that inane, pointless grin  of yours, many millions of us who were foolish enough to open the door and let you in back in 2000 struggle to find a way to forgive ourselves for playing a part, however small, in all the damage that you have inflicted  on our country and on our world.

Your hour upon the stage is over,  George. Finally, and forever – go!

R.I.P. Number Six

I have very little compunction about taking your artistic vision and twisting it into something readable- Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine

Veteran actor Patrick McGoohan died today at the age of 80.  I will always remember him for that one brilliant season of his life, that “Citizen Kane” moment when he created, from sheer talent, drive, and force of will, the most disturbing and thoughtful TV series ever: “The Prisoner.”

The first time the series was broadcast here in the US,  I sat riveted for every episode.  In the closing minutes of the last episode, I had to tear myself away and run to the bathroom, and so did not get to see the final, shattering revelation in which we discover the answer to the question that haunts the opening credits of every episode: “Who is Number 1?” (my mother saw it, but she refused to tell me — she just smirked and winked).  Many years later, when  the series re-ran, I caught it and this time made sure not to miss the end of the last episode.  Once I realized what I had just seen, I thought to myself: “Of course.  Who else could Number 1 have been?”

In honor of McGoohan?s masterwork, I resurrected an essay I wrote back in early 2003; it’s the first sustained piece I wrote after coming back to writing after a (30-year) “hiatus” from writing.

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