Tuesday, December 27

Ye Olde Annual Movie-Fest

It's that time of year again: time to avoid the family and all its passive/aggressive snide condescension and head up north and totally ignore the holiday. So we headed out to our favorite canine friends Justin and Casey's house in Federal Way to lounge around in our sweats and watch movies all weekend. All in all, a good weekend. J&C's person knows that A doesn't really share my taste in films, so she makes sure there are several films on hand for us to watch while A catches up on her reading. This year's lineup:

The Day the Earth Stood Still
The House of Flying Daggers
Batman Begins

Oddly enough, I think I enjoyed the oldest film the most. The Day the Earth Stood Still may be more than 50 years old, but it certainly is interesting from today's frame of reference. It is both chilling that we've apparently not learned a damn thing in the last half century about blowing ourselves up, and ironically amusing as two army doctors express their amazement at an alien whose life span is 130 years while lighting up a couple of cigarettes. If you haven't seen the film, or even haven't seen it lately, rent it and see it again. It's worth the time.

Serenity was fun. The dry humor I so greatly enjoyed from Firefly was there in spades and the story was entertaining and interesting. For some reason, though, I walked away very slightly disappointed. I'm not sure if it's because, unlike most of the fans who have been ranting about how good it was, I saw it after it was confirmed that Firefly will not be making a comeback (it was still a real possibility when the film was in the theaters) so I knew the open-ended nature of the film's finale was not going to go anywhere, or because it had a bit less of the "western" feel that made the series so unique. The film was more a straight-up sci-fi action flick - something I definitely enjoy - but it lost a little of what made Firefly so addictive. I'm still glad they made it and I'm glad I saw it. Maybe some decent writer out there will pick up the stories and write a few novels on board ...

The House of Flying Daggers was, as I expected, visually beautiful. Their use of color was wonderful. The story had some nice twists that made it less predictable than so many of its peers. However, the use of color and visual themes in Hero and the story/music in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were far superior. All three films are excellent and I will happily see them again, but I felt The House of Flying Daggers was the weakest of the three.

Batman Begins - I liked Christian Bale's portrayal of Batman. Bale was an excellent choice for the role, as were the stellar supporting cast in Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman. Two things bothered me about the film, though. First and foremost, Gotham was too shiny and realistic. I much preferred the more stylized, darker Gotham of the previous films. Second, the Batmobile was a goddamn SUV. That's just wrong! Other than those two quibbles, it was not a bad film. I enjoyed it. I'll probably watch it a second time to pick up some of the dialog I missed the first time, but I can't say it was significantly better or worse than the other Batman films.

Wednesday, December 21

The Constant Gardener

Went to the Bagdad this evening. Saw The Constant Gardener

See it. Visually beautiful, conceptually hideous, completely true.

The film may be fiction, but the story is not. Take special note of the quote at the end of the article:
"Third World lives are worth much less than the European lives. That is what colonialism was all about," said Srirupa Prasad, a visiting assistant professor of medical history and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


This is simply brutal.

It's Craigslist, anonymous, and totally unverifiable, but I find it hard to believe anyone would bother to fake something like this.

Liberty, security, and holiday traffic

I was driving back from Salem yesterday with a co-worker and two sales reps from one of our vendors. It's an hour-long drive normally, but we got caught in some nasty holiday traffic and it took closer to two and a half hours. So we had plenty of time to talk. Since we were on the way to the airport and were running late, the topic of airport security and security in general came up. They all freely admitted to being conservative - one a deeply religious conservative, the other two secular fiscal conservatives, one of whom is also Canadian. All three of them made it abundantly clear that they had absolutely no problem with the Bush Junta's secret domestic surveillance in the name of "security".

I was horrified. I am horrified.

I'm not sure if this picture counts as a thousand words or not, but it represents my beliefs perfectly:

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
A scan of the title page of the first edition of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, published in London in 1759, later attributed to Benjamin Franklin

The dismantling of basic civil rights and liberties in the name of "security" and "fighting the War on Terror" are exactly the thing Franklin was describing. Yes, the world is a dangerous place, but the proper response is not to turn our nation into a totalitarian police state where everyone is "safe" but nobody is free.

When I responded to my three car-mates' statements with the quote from Mr. Franklin, I was met with a resounding silence. I have no illusions that my borrowed eloquence would sway them, but I am deeply concerned that none of them seemed even the least bit concerned or willing to accept the viewpoint as valid. In fact, they all said that the current "security measures" were not strict enough.

Has the pervasive attitude of fear so penetrated our culture that the US public is more afraid of a trumped-up terrorist threat than it is concerned about the systematic dismantling of a more than 200 year old system expressly designed to protect the liberty and freedom of its people? Has the US public fallen so far into complacency, xenophobia, and fear that it has lost sight of the original tenets upon which the Constitution was built and this nation was founded?

If so, how do we change it? How do we wake the public up and remind them that this nation used to stand for liberty and freedom and not an Orwellian dystopia where dissent equates to treason?

ANWR killed!

I'm hearing news that the US Senate just rejected the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) oil drilling rider on the massive defense appropriations bill. In the words of Trent Lott, the provision "has to come out," after the Senate failed to get the three-fifths majority necessary to override the filibuster and end debate. The final total was 56-44. Four votes short.

Considering neither side felt confident they had sufficient votes this morning ... [huge sigh of relief]. It's far from over, but I'm pleased to see the recent moderate bi-partisan activity in the Senate over bills like this and the Patriot Act reauthorization. I am happy to see the Senate is finally starting to flex its muscle and put the brakes on some of the more offensive legislation King George II has been trying to ramrod through Congress.

Thank you to the Democratic caucus for standing firm. A special thank you to Republican Senators Mike DeWine of Ohio and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island for standing up against the pressure and voting against the drilling provision. I am happy to see there are still men and women in the Senate who have the integrity to do what's right and go against what their leadership demands.

Monday, December 19

Carb Fest '05

... was a great success! Even if it did ice up and snow and cause the entire third shift (the afternoon bunch) of carb-stuffing fiends to call and deliver their regrets. So what if it did fill up our living room overnight with out-of-towners who decided that discretion is the better part of valor and sleeping on the couch is perfectly valorous.

Events of note:
Hide and seek is rather difficult in a house that has only three interior doors behind which to hide (one of which being the bathroom).
One's vehicle when parked in the driveway makes an excellent refrigerator.
Nothing clears out a living room like the appearance of outdoor frozen dihydrogen oxide.
Sometimes even a normal-sized Christmas tree can have a much larger than expected trunk.
Fred Meyer does not stock Christmas tree stands the Sunday before Christmas.

Thank you to all the longtime attendees as well as the first-timers for braving the elements and filling out house with happiness, laughter, and wildly-gyrating blood sugar stupor. It was delightful and, frankly, daunting to see we have so many friends (and so little space for them all)!

Anyone want some leftovers? We seem to have a bit of extra food left ...

Friday, December 16

Help the Oregon Food Bank

Got this today in my e-mail. Considering I've been out shopping for CarbFest '05 all morning, I can't in good conscience not do something ...

This is to alert you the local food shortage for 
poverty-stricken families, children, and single men and
women due to the empty shelves at the Oregon Food Bank.
Please send your donation checks, which can stretch their
food dollars due to buying at wholesale and deeply reduced
prices, to:

Oregon Food Bank
P.O. Box 55370
Portland, OR 97238

The Oregon Food Bank's shelves were emptied due to the need
to provide food and other basic necessities for those
fleeing the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and
Rita. Therefore, I am asking you to forward this email to
your extended family members, friends, neighbors and
business associates, calling for a matching $20 donation
that I have made, or more from each person or couple.

Others have matched my donation--but more is needed. Let's
do everything that we can to help those in need here in the
Greater Portland area and in Oregon. And, someday, that same
help will be available for you, if you are in need. We never
know when disaster will strike.

Bless you, for helping the Oregon Food Bank. I wish you a
happy and healthy holiday season and my best wishes to you
and your loved ones throughout the coming year.


Adrianne Page
WHALE Co-Chair

Thursday, December 15

Care Factor

Just checking my "Care Factor" for the week.

Nope... still don't give a fuck.


Um. Yeah.

That pretty well encapsulates the attitude of management toward the staff within my organization.

Thursday, December 8

Tri-Met & Google

This is so cool!

Google Local/Google Maps + Tri-Met transit schedules = beaucoup geeky public transportation goodness

It even calcualtes the fare necessary. I would have so loved to have this when we visited Boston this summer.

Wednesday, December 7

Carb Fest '05!

That's right - it's time once again to stop and reflect on the glory of Stuffed French Toast.

We look back on the things that have happened since the last Carb Fest and can truly say what an exciting trip it has been! Just for a sampler . . . Kaphine and RSG got married, FINALLY!!! Swankette and TRP got married (an entirely different FINALLY), Das Father-in-Law turned into the Story Tellin' Road Warrior, we learned that BDMama's little card shark does a pretty mean Fan Dance, Oberst Holzkopf is going to be the next sexy man in uniform, StormyBlueEyez is hot trottin' it to a book deal, and SQDancer has started swimming lessons for the cats.

Whew! And that's just a few of the highlights! You'll have to come in person to find out the rest.

Somehow, we had a record 45 carb-lovin' friends last year! We aren't really sure where we put you all, but we were so glad to see all of you. The more the merrier! We assure you, there will be more Stuffed French Toast, more hot buttered rum batter, more baked brie (and this year A will pull off *both* the labels before baking it), more teacakes, more gingerbread, more Nanaimo bars, more spiced cider, and for those need to indulge in the friends but not the carbs, more fresh vegetables. :)

Here's the scoop:

Sunday, December 18 (always the Sunday before Christmas)
10:30 AM until much later that day - stop by any time and stay for
however long you please
Stroll up Peacock Lane after 6:30
Bring your neighbors, friends, family, children
RSVP by e-mail to let us know if you think you might make it and how
many you might bring

I'm starting to believe that if we could just serve Stuffed French Toast in the White House things might start to look more optimistic for the ordinary citizen. If we could just serve Stuffed French Toast in Iraq there might be a real chance at peace. You just can't come to Carb Fest and feel bad about anything. :) So please come and indulge.

Tuesday, November 29

That's just petty

This morning there was a flurry of e-mails zooming around the office. Apparently the state is now requiring employees to buy desk or wall calendars out of their own pocket.

You're kidding me, right? Nope. You want a calendar on your desk, you have to pay for it yourself.

I admit I was a bit annoyed when they told us we had to empty our own trash. I understand their reasoning - why pay custodial staff to do something that employees can do on their own - but it still doesn't make sense to me to pay an IT professional's salary to take out one's trash instead of using the time to do one's job. Whatever, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

This calendar thing crosses some line, though. It's a calendar for pete's sake! They cost all of what, two bucks? So Mr. Pointy-Haired State Manager, you're willing to take our tax dollars and spend them to pay me to drive an hour each way to attend a 45 minute meeting because you're too damn lazy to schedule it in a conference room with videoconferencing gear, but you're not willing to pony up a couple of bucks once a year for a fleeping calendar? You're willing to pay $13 million on a white elephant of a data center but you won't drop some pocket change on something that will help me make it to meetings on time? You do realize that the time spent by the agency staff e-mailing back and forth probably cost more than the damn calendars would have?

Huh. Decision-making like this is what makes me wonder why I'm still working for the government. What's next? Bring your own chair?

Saturday, November 19

HELP WANTED: Good Deed Doers who Fly Delta

All right all you bleeding hearts out there ... we have an urgent situation and we need your help.

We have a colleague and good friend in the PhD program here at the Portland State University Hatfield School who recently found out his visa status has been revoked effective immediately. The details at this point are unimportant - there was a simple paperwork error made by someone else - but at this time the only way to resolve it is for him to return to South America with his family and re-apply for his visa. They must depart the US by December 2.

We are on a campaign right now to collect as many Delta frequent flyer miles as possible. This needs to be done immediately because of the time it takes to book a flight. If you or someone you know has a mileage plan account with Delta, and would like to share your miles, it is simple to transfer them, though there is a cost involved. There is a transaction fee of $25, plus a penny per mile.

If you can help in this way, or know someone who can, please contact me immediately so I can get you the correct account information for a transfer.

Do you really want to help, but can't give miles? The Dean's office is collecting checks on the student's behalf to help pay for the many unexpected costs associated with this. Checks can be written to the PSU Foundation, and directed to:

College of Urban and Public Affairs, Dean's Office
Attention: Victoria Gilbert
Portland State University
P.O. Box 751 - UPA
Portland, OR 97207-0751

Checks must be received by Monday morning, November 28.

In addition, having an employer lined up will significantly increase the chances that his visa will be re-approved. So if any of you know of an organization that would be interested in sponsoring and employing a fourth year doctoral student in public administration and policy whose field area is Latin American economics, we want to hear from you!

If you cannot help with miles or money, hopeful thoughts and prayers would go a long way right now.

Thank you so much for helping out with this very important issue.

Thursday, November 17

On a roll today

A co-worker was saying this would be a timely cartoon and I feel compelled to share it:

A man comes upon another man wrestling with a tangled rope.

Man1: What'cha doin?
Man2: Tying a noose.
Man1: How come?
Man2: Someone's getting hanged.
Man1: Oh yeah? Who?
Man2: [shrugs]

The first man turns to another man who is watching.

Man2: Do you know who's gonna be hanged?
Man3: [points and Man1] He is.

(Image courtesy of Google Images and is merely as a visual aid .. I have no clue who this guy really is or why he is tying a noose.)

Yeah, that's about how we all feel. "Here, work on this project that will, at its successful completion, include you being laid off."

... and there's more!

This is completely typifies the attitude that pisses me off about this whole consolidation project.

One of the things that came up in the all-staff meeting today was that they were not going to be recruiting all of the positions in the data center at the same time - they're going to hire the network and security folks first, then the other groups like the mainframe and server people in some yet-undetermined order next. Several of us were all standing around talking after the meeting about the predicament that puts many of us in - do we go ahead and take a less-than-perfect network job to make sure we actually get one? Or hold out for a server job sight unseen, with no clue what they are since the position descriptions won't be available yet. No choice there, take the network job and then apply for the server job when it comes available. Not great, but I get to keep working. But that also means that I just screwed over the person that would have gotten the network job had I took - they're out of a job instead of filling the now-vacant-again position that I held for all of six or eight months while waiting to see what the server jobs turn out to be.

While we were talking, one of the admin communications folks walks up. I know her pretty well because she's who I work with quite often on managing the agency web pages. Very nice person. Doesn't make decisions herself but does have a LOT of control over what info the decision-makers do get. We explains the above situation to her and asks why they don't just release all the position descriptions to us all at once and as soon as possible so that we can make an informed decision when it comes time to apply. She nods sympathetically and makes a noncommittal response about having never thought about that and would mention it to the decision-makers.

So we get back to the office. One of the guys that was standing there calls me up. The communications had just called him. Apparently she ran into the data center manager and passed the info on. His response was brutally telling: He was completely astounded that any of us would care enough about our current and future co-workers to be concerned about screwing them out of a job. And then he went on to say, "thank you for your admirable concern but we're not going to consider changing how the positions are announced."

He was stunned that we care about our co-workers and peers? The thought never occurred to him? Gee ... could this be an indication of just how much he cares about us?

Overheard today

"I'm so motivated I could piss my pants." - Spoken by a State IT worker after yet another all-staff meeting about how we're all going to be laid off and have to apply for jobs that: 1) haven't been all approved by the Legislature, 2) Have not yet even had an org chart or position descriptions written yet, and 3) Hiring is happening "real soon now."

Yeah. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Tuesday, November 15

Is it someting in the water?


"Good afternoon, [agency name], GrigorPDX speaking. How may I help you?"

"Yes, is Ted available?"

"Err, there's no Ted here. What are you calling regardng?"

"No Ted Ku ... Kulong ... Kulongoski?"

My god, people. Did you check your brain at the door? We get at least three of these calls a week!

Friday, November 11

Armistice Day <-> Veteran's Day

I find myself pondering the difference between the concept of "Armistice Day" and "Veteran's Day" and how the observance of a holiday on November 11th has changed in the past 97 years.

Armistice Day, as the commemoration of the end of the most horrific war the world had yet seen, was a celebration of peace and the end of warfare. Veteran's Day, on the other hand, is a celebration honoring the living veterans who risked their lives to serve their country in war. Two quite different concepts. Both eminently worthy of a national holiday, but I wonder if there was not some subtle shift in our national consciousness with the latter supplanting the former in 1954. Had the visceral revulsion against the then-new concept of war on a massive scale so prevalent in the years following World War I faded in the minds of the public? Had the development of the Cold War in the years following World War II shifted the public's attitude toward war on a global scale?

Veterans of all wars are worthy of far more than a mere day off that so many of us in the civilian world take for granted, but why deliberately overwrite a celebration of peace? Why not celebrate both separately? Neither is more or less worthy than the other. What prompted President Eisenhower and Congress change the holiday celebration November 11th? What purpose did it serve supplanting a celebration of peace with a celebration of soldiers?

No answers here today, just some admittedly-uninformed musing. Anyone out there with a stronger background in history care to enlighten me?

Monday, October 31


Oh. Shit.

A judge who thinks women should be legally required to get permission from their husbands before having an abortion (What? Are women still property in your book, your honor?), believes machine guns are perfectly all right for private ownership, and is known "affectionately" as "Saclito" for his resemblence to Justice Antonin Scalia.

What's that ticking sound I hear? Oh, it's just the geiger counter over there by the Rotunda clicking away like mad. Frist probably can't wait to pop his little nuke in the Senate.

Thursday, October 20

Free Software

OK, this was on the front page of Slashdot, so it's not like many of you out there haven't seen it already, but I just have to boggle a bit.

Gerald Ilukwe, the general manager of Microsoft Nigeria:
"It's easy to focus on cost and say how much is a product, but at the end of the day it's the total impact that's important. You can give people free software or computers, but they won't have the expertise to use it,"


Umm. So you propose selling them a bunch of software that they, by your own logic, don't have the expertise to use? Why not use free software and use the money they saved on software licensing to pay for some training?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for using commercial/proprietary software when and where it is appropriate, but this seems like a ridiculous no-brainer.

Monday, October 10

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

Seen on Craigslist this morning:
10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Re-post this if you believe love makes a marriage.

this is in or around Salem, OR

Yay Craigslist!

Saturday, October 8

Gaea sez, "Stop that!"

As usual I was laying in bed this morning listening to Morning Addiction and a story came on about the latest energy bill in Congress and how it's been called the "No Oilman Left Behind" by its detractors. Suddenly it hit me:

  1. Burning petroleum products adds to global warming.
  2. Global warming warms the ocean that fuels larger and larger hurricanes.
  3. Huge global warming-fueled storm wipes out oil refineries.
  4. Congress passes bill providing huge bags of cash to oil companies to build more refineries so we can have more petroleum to burn.
  5. Goto 1

One really does need to wonder if, in order to be elected to national office, one must first give up any knowledge of the scientific method or the principles of cause and effect.

I know, it's not exactly a profound insight, but it's before 9am on a friggin' Saturday morning and I haven't had any coffee yet, so gimme a break!

Thursday, September 29

"Is Ted there?" or "Who owns Texas?"

Me:Good afternoon, [agency name], how may I help you?
Caller:Yes. Is Ted available?
Me:Ted? Hmm, we don't have anyone here by that name. Is there something I can help you with?
Caller:Maybe I have the wrong number. Is this [agency name]?
Me:Yes it is.
Caller:And you don't have a "Ted" there?
Me:You mean other than the Governor? No.
Caller:Isn't he your CEO?
Me:We don't have a CEO, we're a state agency.
Caller:So who is Ted Kulon ... Kulong ...
Me:Kulonogski? He is our governor.
Caller:Uhh ...

About that time I was sure I knew what was going on. I would like to state for the record that the folks at Dun & Bradstreet are astonishingly stupid. Mind-bogglingly so. So much so that one really has to wonder about the veracity of the reports they supposedly publish on the reliability of businesses.

So here's the scoop. A while back a federal government agency came to us wanting to use our services. Fine, we're happy to serve. But they couldn't pay us without a "DUNS" number from Dun & Bradstreet. Whatever - I guess we can do that. So one of my co-workers jumps through all the hoops and tries to apply for a DUNS number.


Many hours later, I overhear a phone conversation between my co-worker and D&B: (paraphrased for brevity - the call was painfully long and repetetive)

D&B:I need to get some information about your company. Who is your CEO?
Co-worker:We don't have a CEO, we're a government agency.
D&B:How can you not have a CEO?
Co-worker:We are a government agency. We don't have a CEO.
D&B:Well who runs your company?
Co-worker:The Legislature and the Governor, I suppose.
D&B:[clearly sounding confused] But who owns your company?
Co-worker:Nobody, we are a government agency.
D&B:But somebody has to own your company!
Co-worker:Well, I suppose you could say the taxpayers "own" our agency.
D&B:[sputtering] But who owns your company?
Co-worker:OK, let me try to explain this to you. Where are you?
D&B:Huh? Texas, why?
Co-worker:Who owns Texas?
D&B:... [silence] ...

The call went on for some time after that. I'm convinced now that they never did understand and just filled in the boxes like "CEO" with "Ted Kulongoski" even though most really did not apply. So now, several months later, our paperwork popped up because apparently we're not totally registered yet and they want to charge us for this DUNS number. She couldn't understand that, no I can't just make a $400 charge to a credit card for this little one-time fee. We don't have a "company" credit card to which we could charge it. She got stuck on, "how do you buy things?" I finally gave up and punted her to voice mail.


Monday, September 12

Quote seen online today

I'm donating food and some clothes for a infant. How would I know if it arrived there or not?As long as Jehovah know that i'm helping the needy that's all that matters.

Um. No.

The only thing that matters is that the people are getting the aid they need. Being concerned with whether or not anyone knows you did it is selfish and completely irrelevant.

Art from Tragedy

This person's work is amazing!

Racism: alive and thriving

If you think racism and the days of Jim Crow have been relegated to the history books, listen to this first-hand story from This American Life about the travails of a group of refugees on foot trying to get across a bridge and out of New Orleans. The story starts 21:00 into the program, skip ahead if you're tight for time but the whole show really is worth hearing.
"If you are poor and you are black you are not getting out of New Orleans. You are not coming to our territory."

Now try to tell me racism is not thriving in this nation.

Friday, September 9

Fun With Google

Go to Google.
Enter "Failure" in the search string.
Click on the "I'm feeling lucky" button to take you to the first match.

Bad government!

As a government IT worker, I am offended and angry that public employees are making such poor technology decisions - especially when it affects the real well-being of the citizens. Information Week (and many other sources) are carrying a story about how FEMA is blocking access to online disaster aid requests:
To file a claim online at FEMA's Individual Assistance Center, where citizens can apply for government help, the browser must be IE 6.0 or later with JavaScript enabled.

That cuts out everyone running Linux or the Mac operating systems, as well as Windows users running alternate browsers such as Firefox or Opera.

When TechWeb tested the site using Windows XP and Firefox 1.0.6, the message "In order to use this site, you must have JavaScript Enabled and Internet Explorer version 6. Download it from Microsoft or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to register" popped up on the screen.

Attempts to contact a FEMA representative were unsuccessful.

Hey, FEMA! Pull you head out of your nether regions ... even your own bosses at Homeland Security have said "Use a different web browser."

Security issues aside, I am disgusted that such a stupid policy decision is preventing profoundly needy people from applying for the very aid they need so desperately!

Tuesday, September 6

Mind-numbing pics

Google strikes again. Google Maps now has pre- and post-Katrina satellite photos up.

Levee break

Shipping containers tossed around like toy blocks

Superdome with damaged roof surrounded by water

If you click on the "Satellite" button it will show the old image. Click on the red "Katrina" button and it will toggle back to the new images. Chilling.

Feeling cynical

Maybe it's just me, but George II is more than callous and opportunistic enough to capitalize on the suffering of the suffering along the Gulf Coast by nominating Edith Brown Clement for Justice O'Connor's seat.

After all, how could any Senator vote against a woman from Louisiana right now?

Monday, September 5

Presto changeo!

Roberts as Chief Justice, eh?

Just what this poor nation needs: a young, extremist ideologue who is likely to sit at the head of the Supreme Court for the next thirty years. So we have another three decades of divisiveness and political polarization ahead of us.

How long before the signs start going up in the halls of power: "Moderates and Dogs Not Allowed."

Sunday, September 4

Overheard last night

A rather perecocious youngster saying, "Gimme some of that child abuse."

Hmm. Mental note. Add this phrase to things that one should never say. :-)

Friday, September 2

Photos from hell

Like so many people I know, I get most of my news from NPR & Morning Addiction on my alarm clock in the mornings. This week I've been feeling like I'm waking up and being run over by the same horrible truck every morning. Human nature being what it is, I can't stop laying there listening to a city descend into anarchy with that sick sense of fascination. Since I tend not to watch TV news and don't subscribe to a newspaper, up until now I've missed the visuals. Productivity-wise (and "I want to keep my job"-wise), that is probably a good thing since I am an intensely visually stimulated person (I can't be in a room with a TV on without looking at it, no matter what's on it) - once I get started I simply can't stop compulsively looking. This morning, I stumbled. I read about a blog being posted by the staff in a data center in New Orleans. Blog. Words. Safe for myself to look at. So I looked. Uh oh. Link to pictures. Can't stop myself. Click.

This picture of a man after being stuck in the Superdome for five days really spoke to me. The thumbnail doesn't do it justice. Click on it to see the full rez version and I think you'll see what I mean.

OK, guilty obsession temporarily satisfied. Now go help him and his fellow New Orleaneans (and Mississippians and Alabamans and ....) here. Contribute. Volunteer. Anything, as long as it's something.

Tuesday, August 30

Two things about New Orleans

One, I find it appalling that so many news sources refer to people who "chose" to stay in New Orleans and ride out the storm and subsequent floods. Bullshit. Those poor people are the ones who did not have the resources (car, money, gas, etc.) necessary to get out of town. Apparently these immaculately-groomed and affluent talking heads think being poor is a "choice" - and they click their tongues disapprovingly at these people who are dying because of of their supposed "choice". Shameful and appalling.

Two, check out this excerpt:

... it is estimated that it would take nine weeks to pump the water out of the city, and only then could assessments begin to determine what buildings were habitable or salvageable. Sewer, water, and the extensive forced drainage pumping systems would be damaged. National authorities would be scrambling to build tent cities to house the hundreds of thousands of refugees unable to return to their homes and without other relocation options. In the aftermath of such a disaster, New Orleans would be dramatically different, and likely extremely diminished, from what it is today. Unlike the posthurricane development surges that have occurred in coastal beach communities, the cost of rebuilding the city of New Orleans’ dramatically damaged infrastructure would reduce the likelihood of a similar economic recovery. And, the unique culture of this American original that contributed jazz and so much more to the American culture would be lost.

Seems pretty current, eh? Think again. It was written last year.

Five reasons to NOT use Linux (snicker)

I'm not one of those zealots who insist Linux is the panacea that will solve all the world's problems, bring about world peace, and defeat evildooerz everywhere. I think it's a fantastic tool for a lot of things but I'm not yet convinced it's ready for granny's desktop. That said, this tongue-in-cheek article is rather amusing.

My favorite line: "Well, still, with Windows you get so many more choices of software, don't you? Like Lotus 1-2... oh really? I didn't know that. Or, WordPerfect... oh, pretty much dead too."

Tee hee!

Monday, August 29

I knew I had smart readers!

Just checked my blog stats this morning. Those of you who are reading this blog from a browser (as opposed to the RSS/Atom feed) have vastly improved on the percentage of Internet Exploder hits:

36% MSIE variants
51% Mozilla/Firefox variants (!!!)
12% Safari
1% Opera/misc.

64% safe browsers. Bravo! My friends have nearly inverted the global MSIE market share. Pat yourselves on the back for being so tech-intelligent.

Thursday, August 25

Sad and Angry

I am both very sad and very angry this morning.

I am disgusted that a spiteful, mean-spirited, ignorant, hateful troll has posted a comment on this blog that maligned the marriage of two of the most intelligent and loving people I know. A marriage that is recognized both legally by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and spiritually by ordained clergy. A marriage that has been far too long in coming. A marriage that not only does no harm but increases and reinforces the love in this world.

There is already too much hate and spite and ignorance in the world. I will not allow comments on this blog to be used as a venue to spread such poison. Go back to your kennel and exercise your First Amendment rights there if you must. Better yet, try opening your eyes a bit and learn that there is more to life and love and marriage than some arbitrary ratio of X and Y chromosomes.

Wednesday, August 24

To all my readers in Nova Scotia

You are on your honeymoon! Quit surfing the net and get back to honeymoon-type stuff! ;-)

Tuesday, August 23

TRP Rocks!

Boys at the wedding
Get Yer Programs Here!
Get Yer Programs Here!
Once again, TRP has proven he is a man of many talents.

Nice shooting, my friend!

Monday, August 22

An eventful weekend

It was a glorious weekend full of happiness and love, and packed with all sorts of things I have never seen or done before.

Things I have never done before:
  • Attended a legally-recognized same-sex marriage.
  • Traveled east of Montreal.
  • Stayed in a four star hotel.
  • Ordered room service.
  • Drank someting from a hotel room mini-bar.
  • Seen Lake Michigan
  • Been to Chicago (OK, does crossing between terminals in O'Hare count as "being in" Chicago?).
  • IMG_1253
  • Walked through the deeply moving Holocaust memorial across the street from Boston City Hall (You NEED to see this).
  • Eaten at Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage on Harvard Square
  • Held a chuppah pole.
  • Been lost in a city that does not even remotely resemble a grid.
  • Eaten Earl Grey ice cream (yummy!).
  • Traveled 3000 miles to meet someone who lives in my own neighborhood.
  • Fan-Tastic!
  • Seen the sun rise over an ocean (what can I say ... I'm a West Coast type to the core).
  • Head a poem perfomed live about an octopus.
  • Seen an improv fan dance to a Pink Matrtini tune.

Things I have learned first-hand this weekend:
  • Apparently one must sneak up on the U.S.S. Constitution in order to see her. Mental note for next trip: pack ninja outfit.
  • John Hancock has an entirely onomatopoeic name.
  • The ability to say tongue-twisters can earn you cookies from a ghost.
  • Boston cabbies are far friendlier than Tri-Met security guards at PDX. (What ever happened to "Portland Polite"?)
  • A chuppah pole does 1d6+1 (does it get a bonus for being a religious object?)
  • The Blazers did not manage to get rid of Z-Bo before he picked up a drug-using entourage.
  • Finally learned what museumgirl, shanamadele, fawnapril, and pnsm really look like in person.

And, most important of all:
  • Sometimes two brides are better than one.

The happy couple
Congratulations Kaphine and RealSuperGirl!

Saturday, August 20

Not bad ...

So here I am in Boston (OK, so it's really Cambridge, but you know what I mean).

Sipping scotch in a leopard print bathrobe uploading some of today's pics to flickr on the hotel's broadband conneciton.

The wedding this weekend is the real reason to be happy, but a little hedonism ain't exactly bad either!

Wednesday, August 17

My propeller beanie is spinning like mad!

All right ... I'm just absolutely totally jazzed. A whitepaper on one of my systems was posted on Slashdot's front page (!!!) today:

Oregon Government Supporting Open Source

The State's Department of Administrative Services released a white paper detailing their use of Asterisk for audio conferencing for more than 500 conferences a week. The set-up includes a web-based interface for judges to manage recording the hearings.

That's ME! I wrote half that damn whitepaper and I wrote the Asterisk modifications and the entire web interface.

DAMN it feels good for the first time in more than ten years with this organization my co-workers and I finally get some public acknowledgment - even if it is on an uber-geeky news site read only by other geeks.

I still get bragging rights among my geekoid friends .... and that's what really matters!

Sunday, August 14


OK, it's a bad week for anyone I know who rides a motorcycle. Motorcycling friends, do us all a favor and get off the bike for a while. Please.

So first we hear that on Monday a co-worker missed a curve on his Harley and ended up at the bottom of a cliff. Search & rescue found his body a couple of days later.

Then on Friday A gets a maddeningly-cryptic one-line message from her father: "[A's nephew] has been life-flighted to a Portland hospital." That's it. No other info whatsoever. And, of course, dad-in-law is in a remote part of the Appalachians right now, so we can't actually call him and find out what the hell is really going on. A finally gets ahold of her sister on Saturday morning and gets the real story.

Apparently nephew was riding his dirt bike out on a trail somewhere in the boonies on Wednesday. He lost control and he and the bike went two different directions. Unfortunately for nephew, there was a tree in the direction he flew. Somehow, nephew manages to get up, get back on the bike and ride it back to his truck (he was out riding alone). Thinking he'd cracked a couple of ribs, he laid in the back of the truck until someone came along to help him get the bike up into the truck. Then he drives himself to the hospital! Once in the Southwest Washington Medical Center ER they took one look at him and immediately loaded him on a life-flight helicopter. Four minutes later he was in the Emmanuel trauma center. Miraculously, no broken bones at all, but he had a punctured lung, something called a hematosis on a kidney, and most seriously, a severe laceration of his liver. Word from the doctors was that his injury was the worst liver laceration they'd ever seen on a person who was still breathing. Amazing how much abuse an active 21-year-old body can take and still (literally) walk away.

We went to go see him in the ICU yesterday. Other than doped to the gills on morphine and looking a bit jaundiced, he was lucid and actually looked pretty good. He's not out of the woods yet, he's still bleeding a bit more internally than his body could replenish it, but they're hoping to move him out of ICU today.

So, friends, please just stay away from that motorcycle for a while. I don't want you to be #3.

Thursday, August 11

Word of the Day

Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Thanks to Gyro Gearloose for forwarding this from the Washington Post.

A sad day

I just found out this morning that one of my co-workers has died in an accident.

He was taking a motorcycle trip up on the Idaho/Montana border with some friends. Apparently on Monday he was riding at the rear of the group. They got to the top of a hill, looked back, and were vastly surprised to find him not there. They backtracked and searched for him for a couple of hours unsuccessfully before calling the state patrol. They pulled in the helicopters and search teams and searched for him all day Tuesday and Wednesday. They found him and his bike at the bottom of a cliff sometime yesterday.

Cheers, Patrick. It was an honor to know and work with you. I hope you're having a blast wherever you are.

Tuesday, August 9

It's called taking turns, asshole!

Hey, you jerks driving in Portland with Washington plates - go back to your fscking 'Couv and never darken the land of our fair state with your defiling shadow ever again!

When trying to merge into bumper to bumper traffic, take turns. Unlike your ilk up there in the 'Couv, we Oregonians understand the concept of taking turns - each car in the right lane lets one car merge. It really does work quite nicely. See all those nice folks with trees on their license plates? See how they are cooperating and everyone gets to merge in a nice, orderly, polite and fair fashion? But noooo ... you had to be an ass and go flying down the right shoulder for a quarter mile past the onramp at 45 miles per hour with your damn left turn signal on before jamming your way in like you are somehow more important than the folks who actually live here and pay for that road you're driving on.

I firmly believe in order to get a driver's license in Clark County it's mandatory to get a frontal lobotomy and conscience-ectomy. It makes one want to tear down the I-5 and I-405 bridges across the river and dumping that sprawling suburban shithole affectionately known as "The 'Couv" to moulder in its own car-loving, community-hating, meth-saturated strip mall hell.

Or maybe it's just frustration that one cannot flip off said jerks while driving a state vehicle with an E-plate ...

Sunday, August 7

Great minds think alike, or, Get Out of My Head!

Last night we drove out to the Edgefield. We were on a mission in search of the perfect wine for two of our favorite people in the world. It was a difficult mission of utmost importance, since we had very specific instructions to acquire an Edgfield wine that would appeal to both the sweet and dry halves of the couple. We succeeded, but that's not the point of this post ...

As we were driving through Gresham, I was thinking, "Hmm ... we should call J while we're here." J is a friend of ours from college who lives in Troutdale not far from the Edgefield. Just as I was about to open my mouth to say something, A says, "Hey, we should call J and see if she wants to join us at the Edgefield for a beer."

<blink> ... <blink>

Damn. We really have been married for long enough to start thinking the same. scary.

So A calls J. Not only is she home, but her parents are in town - whom we know and love well indeed. Apparently moments before A called, J's mom was asking her how we were doing:

Mom: "So have you talked to G & A lately?"
J: "Not much since the Super Bowl party."
J gets up to look at the caller ID on the phone.
J: "Ack! Mom, you're not going to believe this ..."

<blink> ... <blink>

And this was before we started drinking.

Wednesday, August 3

Got Blog?

I am happy to present to you all the blogosphere's newest addition:


Pop on over and say hi!

Monday, August 1

BASHing the War on Terror

[WARNING: Geek humor incoming!]

All right all you young whippersnappers out there who have never used a computer without a mouse, 5.1 Dolby Surround, and a GUI with more colors than a Crayola factory, listen up!

In the beginning there was the Command Line ... wait, we don't have that much time, I don't want to lose your post-MTV Generation attention span - go read that part for yourself some other time. This is more important.

We now have irrefutable proof that that hoary old beast known as the command shell is still relevant and current.

Read and bask in the awesome power of the command line.

Thanks to Andy for passing this tidbit along.

Children in Darfur

These are totally amazing. I heard this story on Morning Addiction today about some children from Darfur.

Apparently some Human Rights Watch workers were in a Sudanese refugee camp interviewing some of the refugees who fled the genocide in the Darfur region. They had given the kids some crayons and paper to amuse themselves while they were interviewing the adults. Without any prompting at all, they drew these pictures - a graphic testimony to accompany their parents' testimony.

The pictures are so realistic that one expert said he could accurately identify what various kinds of rifle were being used (an AK-47 with a folding stock and a Belgian FN FAL) and what kind of aircraft was bombing them (old Soviet-built MIG jets).

Leila, Age 9

Human Rights Watch: What is going on here?
Leila: My hut burning after being hit by a bomb.
Human Rights Watch: And here? [Pointing to the drawing of what looks like an upside-down woman]
Leila: It’s a woman. She is dead.
Human Rights Watch: Why is her face colored in red?
Leila: Oh, because she has been shot in the face.

Saturday, July 30

If not for the Infield Fly Rule ...

... I would never have:

  • Heard a magnificent rendition of the national anthem sung by the incomparable TRP

  • Seen that Mrs. Swankette does not throw like a girl. Note to self - extreme care should be observed within 90' of her presence regarding "shmutz."

  • Known that I was not the only groom to have his voice catch while standing at the altar. Who said men aren't allowed to be emotional? Hah!

  • Learned that life, the Trinity, and baseball really do have a striking ... err ... yeah ... surprising number of parallels.

  • Made a new friend in Idaho.

  • Hear a person I'd only just met say, "Has [female person] ever told you about the guy who shaved his legs with her razor?" and then respond to my denial with, "Oh. Never mind."

  • Discovered that a wardrobe malfunction can be solved with camouflage pants.

  • Found the one man in the world who could sing this song to his bride on their wedding day and survive the experience.

  • Attended the founding of a potential revolutionary cell complete with coffee-spewing shower heads.

  • Appreciated the irony of an agnostic guy and a Jewish woman ushering people to receive communion.

  • Heard an impromptu a cappella concert in the middle of the night on a sidewalk overlooking Puget Sound.

What has the Infield Fly Rule done for you lately?

Sunday, July 24

Showing my age?

Bumper sticker seen today:

Never thought I'd miss Nixon

Somehow that resonated more strongly than I'd have expected. Maybe it's because my first real memory of politics is my parents explaining to me that he had to resign because he lied. He was a bad man because he lied.


Why does that seem so familiar right now?

Tuesday, July 19

Goodbye Roe?

So. The Nominee is ....

John G. Roberts, Jr.

I can't say I can find much about his political leanings beyond this (Wikipedia is my friend):
In a brief before the Supreme Court (Brief for the Respondent at 13, Rust v. Sullivan, 500 US 173, 1991), he stated, "we continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

Ouch. That's not a good sign.

That aside, I am greatly disappointed to see the nominee is a white male. George II has chosen once again to take a regressive step when he could have chosen to at least stay level (with a female nominee) or even moved forward (with a non-Caucasian nominee).

But he didn't.

Why am I not surprised?

"British Muslims"

This is interesting ... NPR this morning aired its usual daily story on the London bombings on Morning Addiction. The story was mostly about how Blair was meeting with leading British Muslim leaders - a good thing but not what I found interesting. What I found interesting was that they did not say "of Pakistani descent" in the story. They instead used the term "British Muslims" to refer to the young men.

Morning Edition, July 19, 2005 · British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with Muslim leaders in Britain, as his cabinet considers new legislation for combating terrorism. The four chief suspects in the London attacks were all British Muslims. Blair is looking for new ways to keep young Britons from what he has called the "evil ideology" of Islamist extremism.

That's progress. The story lacks the emphasis on the ethnicity of the suspects and instead points to their religion. Since these sort of bombings are religiously-motivated (as opposed to ethnically-motivated) that's relevant and appropriate. I'm still uneasy at the news media's habit of stereotyping, but at least this is better.

Friday, July 15

"... of Pakistani descent"

Does it bother anyone that the men accused of the London bombings - all of whom are British natives - are consistently referred to using the qualifier "of Pakistani descent"?

Was Timothy McVeigh ever referred to as "a US native of [insert Irish or whatever anglo ethnicity here] descent"? Of course not. Yet even NPR consistently seems to be downplaying the fact that the men in London were all British natives and instead highlighting their ethnicity.

The real story here is the parallel between McVeigh - a home-grown zealot turned terrorist - and these men from Leeds - home-grown zealots turned terrorists. Instead the news coverage all appears to be reporters desperately trying to make the as-yet-unsubstantiated links to al Qaeda. Here we have a striking similarity to the worst act of terrorism committed on US soil prior to 9/11 and the London bombings and nobody seems to be paying attention.

Shame on you, reporters and editors, for deliberately choosing to publish stories that downplay the fact that this was an act of domestic terrorism and instead highlighting the ethnicity of the suspects. You're feeding the very racism and xenophobia that is part of the problem. These men were born and raised in England. They were British, dammit! Quit trying to blame the Pakistani people - they have enough troubles as it is. Quit spinning the story in a way that is guaranteed to do even more damage to the Muslim communities throughout the western world.

Thursday, July 14

Civil Unions Rally

Rally At The Capitol

Thanks to Adam for the link.

Please, Disney

... don't screw it up!

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

These are the books that taught me to love reading. I adored them when I first read them as a child.

I can't underestimate my desire that Disney doesn't turn them into some homogenized, sanitized, AhMurkin-ized crap. It may be a forlorn hope, but I'm clinging to it dammit!

One slight ray of hope ... Amy Lee of Evanescence is listed as one of the music writers. You'd think Disney would take one look at her neo-gothic self and slam the door in her face ... but I guess not. Maybe that means the film will actually have a bit of bite after all.

Tuesday, July 12

Go Kate Go!

This is and excerpt from an editorial in the Eugene Register-Guard. Read the whole thing - it's worth it. Today is one of those days when I'm proud to be one of Kate Brown's constituents.

If Senate Bill 1000 dies in the Oregon House of Representatives, its legislative pallbearers won't present themselves as opponents of civil unions or as defenders of discrimination against gays and lesbians. Instead, they'll point to Oregon voters. They'll say that SB 1000, approved 19-10 Friday by the state Senate, conflicts with Measure 36, the constitutional amendment approved last November that prohibits same-sex marriages.

But it doesn't. SB 1000 doesn't allow same-sex marriages like the ones licensed in Multnomah County last year - licenses that have been nullified by Oregon courts. It doesn't allow any marriages at all. What it does is allow people to enter into a contractual relationship with rights, responsibilities and protections "substantially equivalent" to those gained through marriage. It also bars discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and public accommodations, with exemptions for religious or sectarian organizations.

Is that same-sex marriage by another name? Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown, D-Portland, answered that question with another during Friday's debate: "Is anyone on the Senate floor willing to trade their marriage for a civil union?" There were no takers.

Good question. Speaker Minnis? Would you care to respond? Of course not, you'd rather hide behind your big important desk and pretend that people who look, act, love, or think differently than you don't exist. "Ooh! They're scary. Make them go away."


To my Red State friends

I got this today from my good buddy Gyro Gearloose. I have no idea if the stats are legit or not, but they are sure as hell believable. Don't know where it came from or who wrote it, but if I ever find out who the author is he or she gets a tasty Northwest micro-brew on me.

To my Red State friends:
We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and the entire Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California. [Err .... as an Oregonian, I'm not so fond of their nomenclature. But us Blue-Staters are rational reasonable folks. I'm sure we'll work that out.]

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue; you get to make the red states pay their fair share. Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we?re not willing to spend our resources in Bush's

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (You can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy people believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Saturday, July 9

More eloquent than I ...

I've been unsuccessfully trying for the past few days to find a way of expressing my feelings about the terrorist bombings in London this week. Invariably, everything I came up with sounded too much like the "blame the victim" tactics so often used in rape trials, and equally unfair. Fortunately, there are others out there who are far more eloquent than I could hope to be:

Why do Americans think it is heroic and honorable for our troops to massacre Iraqis with bombs, missiles, gunships, tanks, and heavy machine guns, but cowardly and barbaric when our victims fight back in the only way they can?

The US and Britain started this fight, not Iraq. We should be ashamed that Bush and Blair deceived us, tricked us into a pointless and unjust war, and that innocent people on both sides are paying with their lives and limbs for Bush's and Blair's lies. Our real anger should be directed at Bush and Blair who are responsible for the deaths and destruction.

The American and British people had better wake up, depose their immoral leaders, and put a halt to this war.

Who said this? A Reagan appointee: Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. Thanks to The Rambling Taoist for pointing me at this little gem.

The economic, social, and military imperialism that the US and its allies have inflicted upon the rest of the world are feeding this hatred. They don't hate "our freedom" as the fear-mongers in D.C. so love to claim, they hate us because we bomb their cities, kill their children and oppress their peoples. We prop up petty dictators, we fund assassinations, we tear down governments, we destabilize vast regions of the globe for selfish short term political or economic gains. We have declared open war on an enemy that is so poorly-defined that it has given our leaders carte blanche to attack anyone they wish, regardless of their actual guilt or innocence, with only the flimsiest of excuses.

They don't hate us because we're free. They hate us because we're killing them indiscriminately!

Civil rights and the people who hate them

Oregon Senator Jeff Kruse said, in regards to the civil unions bill passed this week in the Oregon Senate, the bill is "another step down the road to Armageddon." He then went on to equate homosexuality to pedophilia. Sen. Kruse, you disgust me. Your hatred and spite and ignorance are an affront to the basic dignity and humanity of every Oregonian. Your blatantly unjust and hate-spawned "logic" is the equivalent of equating Islam with terrorists or equating Christianity with the Aryan Nation.

Bravo to Republican Senators Ben Westlund and Frank Morse for recognizing basic human rights and doing the right thing for the people of Oregon. "We are on the front lines of the civil rights struggle of this generation," Westlund said. "One of the freedoms that should be afforded to all human beings is the freedom to form families." Thank you, gentlemen, for having the courage to stand up with your Democratic colleagues do the honorable thing, especially when it's not the dogmatic Party Line. You remind me that there may yet be a glimmer of hope that the Republican Party might return to the ideals of leaders like Senator Hatfield, Governor McCall, and Clay Myers when they fought to remove to remove segregation from the party platform and advocated for civil rights.

House Speaker Karen Minnis said that the bill will not come to a vote in "her" chamber. "Her" chamber? As a citizen and voter in Oregon, I vehemently object. That is emphatically NOT "her" chamber. The House chamber, as well as the Senate chamber and the rest of the capitol, are the property of the people of Oregon. Neither she, as Speaker of the House, nor the Governor, nor any other elected official has the right to claim ownership over the halls of the capitol. To do so is the heights of arrogance that have come to typify the current political leadership both here in Oregon and nationally.

Sen. Krause and Speaker Minnis, have you forgotten that you as elected officials are public servants? That you serve at the consent of the governed? You don't own that seat - the people own it. The real owners of that seat and that building and that institution have generously offered you the privilege of using that seat to represent them. You abuse that privilege in your small-minded arrogance and spite. Your actions are deeply hurtful to the very people you were supposedly elected to serve.

Tuesday, July 5

Old, yet contemporary

I call on you to read the following excerpts from an old document and tell me if any of these things resemble a current world leader.

I'll group them in two parts. First, the things inflicted upon the leader's own nation:
  • 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 endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration 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 [...]

  • He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

Second, the acts this leader has inflicted upon another nation:
  • 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 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 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, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people

  • He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation

  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers [...] whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In closing:

    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.

    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.

Tom, 'ol buddy, you're as right about George II as you were about George III, even 229 years later.

Not quite "muppet porn" but ...

So I was looking at the stats for the blog here and I see a referring page that I'm not sure I really want to know more about:


For those of you not up on Oregon legislative politics, Mrs. Minnis is the Republican Speaker of the House in the state Legislature. Since I've referred to her here previously, I'm not at all surprised at a search hit on her name, but ... umm ...

An alternate career, Mrs. Minnis? What do your suburban conservative soccer mom constituents think of that?

Monday, July 4

Patriotism vs. Nationalism

In the spirit of the day, A and I had a long discussion regarding the meanings of the words "patriotism" and "nationalism" and how they differ.

The conclusion we arrived at surprised me. I thought I had a solid distinction in my mind regarding the two terms. Until A started asking me to define them. I deliberately did not go grab a dictionary because I felt it was important to explore what I thought rather than what's in some book. I found myself suddenly at a loss. All I could do is describe it by using metaphors. Knowing that using a metaphor for a definition is inherently flawed, I started to wonder if I was unconsciously relying on my own biases rather than an objective definition. Several very interesting hours later, I think we came to a mutual conclusion.

The conclusion: "nationalism" and "patriotism" are in fact the same thing. The only difference between the terms is whether the observer agrees or disagrees with the action. I argue that if the observer agrees it's "patriotism"; whereas if the observer disagrees it's "nationalism". One person's nationalism is another's patriotism. "Patriotism" is a politically useful term with positive connotations to be hung on actions that, if performed by someone else in another country, would be labeled as "nationalism" with its inherent negative connotations.

Is it patriotic or nationalistic to slap a flag sticker on the back of one's car? Is it patriotic or nationalistic to slap another sticker below it saying "Love it or leave!" or "You're with us or against us"? Is Lee Greenwood's often-played song "I'm Proud To Be An American" patriotic or nationalistic? It all depends on who you ask.

"Enough is enough. I quit."

In an attempt to lighten an exceedingly-gloomy holiday weekend (sorry, patriotism is not exactly my cup of tea these days), I stumbled onto this editorial today:

The party's over for betrayed Republican

Yes, there really are Republicans (and ex-Republicans) out there who still believe in the Party of Lincoln and Hatfield. It's easy to forget that in these days of extremist political dogma and ideological witch-hunts. There are real human beings who can believe in taking a conservative path while being open and willing to do what's right and reasonable.

Thank you Mr. Chaney for standing up and speaking your mind so eloquently. I may not agree with many of your beliefs, but I damn sure that if there were more people like you leading the Republican party this nation would be a hell of a lot better off - real cooperation and compromise in the legislative halls, a focusing of our collective efforts on important things like keeping our species from killing itself (and taking the rest of the planet with it) instead of persecuting our own citizens for who they want to live with or how they choose to die.

Friday, July 1

Visions of 2008

Thousands of internees all lined up in our gray paper coveralls in the cafeteria of the Liberal Re-Education Camp in the ANWAR oil fields on Alaska's North Slope (established after Justice Alberto Gonzales cast the deciding vote in the landmark Guantanamo Decision back in 2005). We're suffering through our mandatory thrice-daily patriotic dose of Fox News while we choke down McMeat & McPotatoes (ketchup is too a vegetable!). Patriotic music ("I'm proud to be an UhMurkin ... ") blares from the always-on giant screen televisions on all four walls. The huge glowing screens show Chief Justice Rehnquist's cold gray hands (he's not dead, he has a feeding tube!) placing the Federal Crown on George II's head. Karl Rove stands behind him (shh! He's not really there - you can't see him!) struggling against the rigor to guide the mortified Chief Justice's hands while Justices Scalia and Thomas applaud along with the rest of the Royal Council. In the background, flags wave over the still-radioactive rubble of the Senate chambers left over from the Frist Filibuster Buster Incident several years back.

After dinner, the daily Loyalty Oath. Here's to hoping we don't all get shipped off to the uranium strip mines in Colorado ...

Impending cloud of doom

I just heard on NPR that Sandra Day O'Connor is stepping down. O'Connor?! With William Rehnquist's likely departure, that provides George II with not one (as we feared) but two seats on the Supreme Court to fill with his hyperconservative neocon zealots. 20% of one of the most powerful bodies in the nation. His (or more likely Rove's) choices for the replacement justices have the capacity for doing deeper and more lasting damage than anything else George II has done up until now.

Senator Wyden, here's to you and your compatriots in the Senate filibustering your endearingly-geeky lisping heart out, because the filibuster is about all stands in the way of the dissolution of whatever semblance of open honest government by the people we have left.

Wanna bet Frist's gonna trot out his little nuke again?

Thursday, June 30

Almost makes me want to read the newspaper again

I've long since given up reading the newspaper. Partly because the Oregonian is so damned annoyingly-conservative, but mostly because I never seem to have enough time at home to sit down and actually read it. So we end up with a pile of dead trees in the living room that have never been read.

This guy, however, might almost make getting a paper worthwhile again.

Bravo, España!

Apologies for the wacky formatting, but I just don't have the heart to make the image any smaller. It deserves to be a damn billboard!

Wednesday, June 29

Google Earth rocks!

Holy cow!

I'd played with the Keyhole stuff back when they first released it. Fun toy but not really useful. Last night I downloaded Google Earth. Pretty. Very pretty. And useful, too! I plugged in Kaphine's and RealSuperGirl's address (gotta see where we're going for the wedding!) and our hotel address. Not only did it give simple, clear step by step directions, but it gave a literal fly-through (yes, the image really does go zooming along like you're in a helicopter or airplane) of the route from aerial/satellite photos. The images are clear enough that I could actually see and will be able to easily recognize each intersection/turn.

Stunning eye candy for a visual junkie like me that's useful, too! Sadly, it's 'Doze only right now. Hopefully Google will rectify that soon.

Tuesday, June 28

Quote of the Day

Google's Quote of the Day seems particularly apropos today:
Sane and intelligent human beings are like all other human beings, and carefully and cautiously and diligently conceal their private real opinions from the world and give out fictitious ones in their stead for general consumption.
- Mark Twain

Oh, Mr. Clemens. If only you'd lived to see the development of the blog.

These are great!

I love these Communist Propaganda-style posters:

Hmm ... I wonder if I can get some of these before the end of next month. There's a certain table that might need some.

Monday, June 27

Compulsively clicking

So the civil union bill was supposed to be in front of the Oregon Legislature today. I find myself compulsively clicking around the Legislature's web site looking for any information. I hit the streaming audio for the House chamber just in time to hear the gavel and someone say "... adjourned until 8:30am ..." Arrgh!

I'm in the dark here! Someone tell me it passed already!

Sunday, June 26

Hats off!

Hats off to Marjorie from the Portland Mercury, Toto from the Oregon Bus Project, and Lauren the intern from NARAL for taking off their hats (and a whole lot more) for a good cause at tonight's NARAL benefit at No Fish! Go Fish!'s Strip Jeopardy!

TRP, Swankette, Al and I all dropped in for a bit of fun. Raunchily entertaining. Good drinks, and entertaining staff. On Strip Jeopardy nights, much more entertaining. They play Strip Jeopardy every Friday night but tonight was a special case - a benefit for NARAL. Cover charge and bar profits go to the organization.

You see, one of the owners apparently has this thing about Alex Trebek. They came up with a game where he dresses up in a jacket and bow tie and has three volunteers come up to answer questions. Through a complicated set of rules, not enough right answers cause the players to lose articles of clothing. Double Jeopardy involves "Alex" removing clothing if the player gets the right answer. The players are given a hat. The rules are that the player may choose to take off clothing until they no longer feel comfortable taking anything else off, at which point they have to take off their hat and bow out of the competition - but they have to stay up at the bar in their current state of undress until the game is over. Toto "won" when Marjorie took off her hat and conceded, but I think she earned the win for staying in the game far longer (with far more ... er ... off the top) than anyone expected. Sorry, Toto. The red white and blue jockey shorts and the dancing on the bar were both fabulous, but Marjorie's dedication wins out in my book. Bravo for going the extra miles for a great cause, Marjorie!

Now, for you non-Portlanders out there, the Portland Mercury (who was well-represented in tonight's game by one of their editors - Marjorie) has a bit of a reputation regarding reproductive rights. One of the more humorous newspaper covers I've seen in a while was on their newsstands this spring. The cover was a letter sent out by a radical anti-abortion group "threatening" to put organizations that support Planned Parenthood on a "Boycott List". Oh no ... don't throw me in that briar patch!

The Cover:

The Letter:
Whoops! I guess they don't want us to see it.

Due to the serious nature of the problems that can arise by the dissemination of inaccurate information and since frequent changes are made to The Boycott List, it is copyrighted by Life Decisions International and all rights are reserved. The Boycott List may not be reproduced, altered, or placed on the Internet, in whole, or in part.

The Editorial:

We have struggled long and hard to provide corporate and moral support to Planned Parenthood, and until now, it felt like no one had even noticed. But now that the Portland Mercury is featured in The Boycott List, we can shove it in the face of all those other liberal organizations, and say, "You think you love abortion? Well… look at THIS! We reaaaaaaaalllly love abortion!"

The Bluster from the Fundies:

As previously noted, a company is not added to The Boycott List unless its chief executive refuses to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for support in the future. LDI sends a letter requesting that Planned Parenthood receive no more funding along with information about Planned Parenthood to every chief executive, even if we believe there is no chance he or she will end the philanthropic practice. Take, for example, The Portland Mercury, a “newspaper” of the radical left, which used a photograph of LDI’s letter to the publication (signed by LDI President Douglas R. Scott) on the front page of the “newspaper.” In fact, LDI’s letter was the front page! William Steven Humphrey, editor of The Portland Mercury, printed his response to LDI’s letter in the same edition (the following may include extreme profanity and/or other highly offense text):

(Emphasis is theirs)

They then go on to print the Mercury's full letter verbatim.



WASHINGTON, April 20 /Christian Wire Service/ -- The Corporate Funding Project (CFP) is the primary means by which Life Decisions International (LDI) challenges the funding of the world's leading pro-abortion entity. The chief component of the CFP is a boycott of corporations that fund Planned Parenthood.

LDI policy states that no company may be added to The Boycott List until its chief executive officer has been given a change to stop funding Planned Parenthood. In order to afford business leaders such an opportunity, LDI sends a letter to asking that their confirmed support of Planned Parenthood cease. Accompanying the letter is information about Planned Parenthood's agenda. The letter and information are sent to every company that has been identified as a supporter of the abortion-committing group, even when it is highly unlikely that the chief executive officer will have a change of heart and agree to stop supporting the group with corporate dollars.

Take, for example, The Portland Mercury, a weekly publication of the radical left in Portland, Oregon. William Steven Humphrey, editor of the publication, placed a photograph LDI's letter on the front page of the weekly. He also published a response to LDI's letter in the same edition. It was titled, "Boycott Us…Please!"

Yet again, the full text of the letter is published verbatim.

The Last Laugh:

TO OUR READERS: Last week the Mercury printed a letter on our cover from Douglas R. Scott, president of Life Decisions International. In the letter, Mr. Scott warned the Mercury that we should stop supporting Planned Parenthood, or risk being picketed and placed on their "Boycott List." Naturally, we told them to cram it up their ass.

I love Portland.