Friday, June 30, 2006

Monument Valley

Since we had a Navajo guide for our day long tour we got the chance to go into some not so frequently visited areas. This included many old Anasazi sites with the pueblos hidden in sheltered cliffs. At one site there were a lot of pottery shards just laying around on the ground. Madam Monk being the amateur archeologist was beside herself. These pots were made and used by the Anasazi nearly a ten centuries ago and here they were laying right out in plain site. It says something about the type of people that take these tours in that they understand that removing an artifact from its place destroys a lot of it's value. It was obvious a lot of people had rightly resisted the temptation to take a piece or two home.

This is the most famous Monument Valley view. It is called John Ford's point as the famous director thought this was the most scenic view in the park. In case you are not aware Monument Valley was a favorite location for Ford to shoot his westerns with John Wayne. Stagecoach, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and several others were shot here. If you look real close you can see a Navajo on is pony out on the near point. For a buck he will let you have your picture taken sitting on the horse.

Desert Denizen

OK here is the token wildlife pic.
Captured this fellow outside the hotel room at Goulding's in Monument Valley. Lured him and a buddy (or mate) with Planter's mixed nuts. They seem to prefer the Brazil nuts.
Anyhow, a western chipmunk sometimes called an Antelope Ground Squirrel. Notice the big back feet compared to our eastern chipmunks. These must help them motivate quickly in the sand.

Desert View

This is Desert View again but from a different angle and closer to sunset. You can just see the western edge of the Painted Desert in the distance and just a peek of the Colorado River below. We spent a couple of hours here waiting for the sun to set.

Big hole #2

This was taken at Desert View point and is the most easterly point the park. At the top is where the Little Colorado joins in.

Big Hole

I realized a while ago that I hadn't really uploaded any of my Grand Canyon pictures. Here is one taken from the walking trail along the south rim and one of the few places that you can actually see the Colorado River from the rim. I picked this photo since I think it kinda gives you the sense of how freaking big this hole in the ground really is.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Missing the Point

I have been reading everywhere about the "treason" purportedly as a result of the NYT reporting on the SWIFT banking information. The Boston Globe, actually doing some reporting, shows that everything supposedly revealed in the Times article was already in the public domain and much of it placed there repeatedly by the Bush administration itself.

I think this whole deal is just Rove and company moving into the next phase of damage control over the disastrous Iraq debacle. They know they have lost it and that more and more of the country knows that have screwed this up so badly that there is slim to no chance of making it right. The next step is to start passing the buck and finding someone, anyone to blame. The meme that is under development by the Bush boys and girls with the aid of the Hasterts, O'Rielly's, etc. is to blame the Times and the press for their failure. It goes like this...

"We coulda' won the war if every time we turned around we weren't hampered by the press revealing all of our secret tools. All of out most effective weapons were made useless by the press. You can't win a war without weapons and all of ours were taken away from us. If you are looking for someone to blame for the mess then blame the press."

These folks know that there was no operational disclosures in the Times article and no one has pointed out any damage to out capability because of it. They can't because there is not any. The only logical reason for this hoopla is to try and begin shifting the blame.

As Glenn Greenwald asks...
What, specifically, would a terrorist have been willing to do on June 22 [the day before the banking story was published] that he would not do on June 23 as a result of the Times' article?
What the Times revealed is the lack of oversight and checks on these intelligence-gathering activities, not the existence of the activities themselves, which were already well known.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

31.6K$ versus Zip

It's about time this got a little traction in the MSM. I was very upset that it didn't generate any noise when it happened last week. This is a clear difference between the GOP and Dems and it shouldn't be left behind the curtain. This is the kind of thing that voters will remember in November, especially those directly or indirectly affected. These things need to be flogged incessantly by the progressives.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A week after the GOP-led Senate rejected an increase to the minimum wage, Senate Democrats on Tuesday vowed to block pay raises for members of Congress until the minimum wage is increased.

Note this little zinger that someone at CNN slipped into the article. Must be at least one closet progressive working there.
The minimum wage is $5.15 an hour. Democrats want to raise it to $7.25. During the past nine years, as Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to increase the minimum wage, members of Congress have voted to give themselves pay raises -- technically "cost of living increases" -- totaling $31,600, or more than $15 an hour for a 40-hour week, 52 weeks a year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

It would be especially good if so many Dems had not voted for the pay raise this year. 119 voted for as opposed to 74 no. Bummer.

Prepare to Duck

One of the nearly 2000 asteroids known as "Apollos" because they have earth crossing orbits will give us a near miss Sunday. This asteroid (2004 XP14) is a pretty big one and is esitmated at over a half mile in diameter. It is one of the 983 asteroids that are considered "Potentially Hazardous" due to the close proximity of its orbit.

An asteroid possibly as large as a half-mile or more in diameter is rapidly approaching the Earth. There is no need for concern, for no collision is in the offing, but the space rock will make an exceptionally close approach to our planet early on Monday, July 3, passing just beyond the Moon's average distance from Earth.

Astronomers will attempt to get a more accurate assessment of the asteroid's size by “pinging” it with radar.

And skywatchers with good telescopes and some experience just might be able to get a glimpse of this cosmic rock as it streaks rapidly past our planet in the wee hours Monday. The closest approach occurs late Sunday for U.S. West Coast skywatchers.

The asteroid, designated 2004 XP14, was discovered on Dec. 10, 2004 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), a continuing camera survey to keep watch for asteroids that may pass uncomfortably close to Earth.

P.S. Don't miss Billmon's take on this

Focus Boys, Focus!

I will save myself some typing since Bobby at BBWW already said it. What he said...though I am not known to use the term "Sheesh".

I can't believe we're paying these people in excess of $160,000 a year to pull off this shit. We've got crumbling schools, melting ice caps, gas at $3 a gallon, the Gulf Coast still cleaning up after Katrina, no plan for Iraq, the Taliban on the rise again in Afghanistan, port security actually worse than it was on 9/11, and the best the Congress can come up with in their three-day work week is gay bashing, idol worship, and an exercise in kill-the-messenger. Sheesh.

On the other hand, given their propensity for coming up with truly monumental wastes of money and rubber-stamping their way into irrelevancy at the hands of the Bush administration, perhaps the best we can hope for is that Congress just spends their time not doing any more harm than they've already done.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Never Give In

Steve Bates has a good post over at YDD about Harriet Tubman and the similarities we face today with her struggle for justice. Worth a read.

One common facet of our world and Tubman's is that in both of them, utter disregard for fundamental human rights has been institutionalized by the powers-that-be. Is a government that secretly establishes the prison camps at Guantanamo and the torture chambers at Abu Ghraib and probably a dozen other places, a government that secretly employs "extraordinary rendition" of prisoners of war and political prisoners to countries in which they are tortured, a government that sends its own young people to kill and to die based on a naked lie, less damnable than a society in which the ruling powers openly accommodated the enslavement of human beings? Both are unconscionable and deplorable.

Trials of Power

Billmon wades into the fray regarding the attacks on Kos and Jerome in his usual articulate way. He is detecting the clues that this is another example of "Swiftboating" and it signals a recognition by the Dems and the DLC in particular that Kos and company are gaining too much power and influence and need to be squashed. Here's a sample.

But in the end it doesn't matter. The Lieberman Dems don't hate and fear Kos and the Daily Kos "community" because they are too far to the left. They hate them because they represent an emerging power center within the Democratic Party that they don't control -- what's more, one that is now much closer to the public mainstream on the central issue of our time (the Iraq War) than they are.

Whether the grown ups (Peretz, Lieberman, Hillary) actually set the Swiftboat in motion, or just watched approvingly ("Who shall rid us of this meddlesome blogger?") as their hatchet boys did what comes natural, is almost irrelevant. The important thing to understand is that we have reached the point where the Dinos and their media allies are willing to use Rovian tactics against anyone who challenges their entrenched position -- even someone like Kos, who is hardly the second coming of Henry Wallace or George McGovern.

Whether that's good or bad for the Kossaks I don't know -- I suppose it depends on how much credence you give to Gandhi's old saw: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." In the real world -- and in imperial America, too -- the truth is that sometimes they ignore you, then ridicule you, then fight you and crush you like an overripe eggplant. We'll see if that's true this time. Either way, though, it looks like the battle between the netroots and dino Dems is going to get very down and dirty indeed.

Read the whole is a good read.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Some Backbone Appears

This is a pretty incredible slam by ABC News on Bush concerning Global Warming. It is pretty strong stuff for the MSM.

In the White House, only hours after that old elm had fallen, Bush was addressed by a reporter, thus: "I know that you are not planning to see Al Gore's new movie, but do you agree with the premise that global warming is a real and significant threat to the planet?"

"I have said consistently," answered Bush, "that global warming is a serious problem. There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused. We ought to get beyond that debate and start implementing the technologies necessary ... to be good stewards of the environment, become less dependent on foreign sources of oil..."

The President -- as far as the extensive and repeated researches of this and many other professional journalists, as well as all scientists credible on this subject, can find -- is wrong on one crucial and no doubt explosive issue. When he said -- as he also did a few weeks ago -- that "There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused" ... well, there really is no such debate.

At least none above what is proverbially called "the flat earth society level."

Not one scientist of any credibility on this subject has presented any evidence for some years now that counters the massive and repeated evidence -- gathered over decades and come at in dozens of ways by all kinds of professional scientists around the world -- that the burning of fossil fuels is raising the world's average temperature.

Or that counters the findings that the burning of these fuels is doing so in a way that is very dangerous for mankind, that will almost certainly bring increasingly devastating effects in the coming decades.

One small group of special interest businesses leaders -- those of some fossil fuel companies -- have been well documented by journalist Ross Gelbspan and others to have been fighting a PR campaign for 15 years to keep the American public confused about the wide and deep scientific consensus on this.

They've aimed, as Gelbspan explains, to keep us thinking that (to borrow the president's words this morning) "There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused" -- though no open and thorough journalism this reporter knows of can find any such thing.

Drenching waters, president's words, high judges' scrutiny, worried voters, journalists scrambling to get their arms around this enormous story, oil executives looking at spread sheets while they explore for more oil in Canada and the Arctic, and one elm down ... so far.

Meteorologists predict more heavy rain this week along the mid-Atlantic seaboard.

Climatologists predict much the same for the coming decades.

Bold is mine.

Thanks Americablog

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb

According to reports from West Palm Rush Limbaugh has been detained at the West Palm Airport for possession of illegal drugs. Methinks the judge that granted him such leniency on the condition he stay clean for 18 months is going to be less than pleased.

Do I wish too much for a little cooler time for Pigboy? You betcha!

(CBS4 News) WEST PALM BEACH Sources have confirmed to CBS4 News that conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been detained at Palm Beach International Airport for the possible possession of illegal prescription drugs Monday evening.

Limbaugh was returning on a flight from the Dominican Republic when officials found the drugs, among them Viagra.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Another American Tragedy

Another "compassionate" week for the GOP. The Republicans in the Senate rejected Senator Kennedy's proposal to raise the federal minimum wage by a vote of 52-46. These "compassionate" Republicans decided to keep the minimum wage at the same poverty-inducing rate it has been at for the last nine years.

If you do the math the numbers are $5.15 per hour times 40 hours per week times 52 weeks a year... with no vacation and no holidays you get the grand total of $10,712 per year or $206 per week. Note that this is before the income, social security and medicare taxes are taken out which will reduce it by at least a third.

Just for the record, just this month, Congress agreed to keep their automatic salary increase for cost of living.

This is a very partisan issue. Every Democrat present voted for the minimum wage increase. The only Republicans that seem to have some concern for the fate of the American worker and to join Democrats were Senators Chafee, Collins, DeWine, Lugar, Snowe, Specter, and Warner ( Jeffords too).

I suppose the Republicans are counting on the typical American amnesia to kick in before the November elections. They assume by that time all the poor bastards they just screwed one more time will have forgotten this new insult. The tragedy is they may be right. It is amazing how often the folks that have the most to lose vote for the party that will surely ignore their needs and do nothing for them.

I captured the 2004 Poverty chart from HHS below. You can readily see that even two years ago, if you consider taxes, not even a single person makes the grade. I am really trying to understand how the folks that voted against the Kennedy bill sleep at night. There wasn't even a counter proposal to meet Kennedy half way. It is just another American tragedy under this Republican misadministration.

2004 HHS Poverty Guidelines

Size of
Family Unit
48 Contiguous
States and D.C.
Alaska Hawaii
1 $ 9,310 $11,630 $10,700
2 12,490 15,610 14,360
3 15,670 19,590 18,020
4 18,850 23,570 21,680
5 22,030 27,550 25,340
6 25,210 31,530 29,000
7 28,390 35,510 32,660
8 31,570 39,490 36,320
For each additional
person, add
3,180 3,980 3,660
SOURCE: Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 30, February 13, 2004, pp. 7336-7338

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Home in Atlanta

Welcomed back with righteous thunderstorms...quite the contrast to the deserts I have been traveling in the last few days. All in all a good but short holiday and a chance to see a part of the country I have been remiss in visiting. Should have done it sooner.
The impositions of modern life are here and waiting...e-bills, e-mail, e-harassment, e-penis enlargement, e-anything.
I am woefully behind in my world picture since I have been avoiding the news(or vice versa) for a week. I detect that Bush and company are about to be punked by their handpicked team in Iraq which ought to make for some interesting backstepping and hemming and hawing on tomorrow's shows.
I was saddened to hear that Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake lost her mother last week and our love goes out to her. I haven't had time to read all the comments but the support from all the "firepups" on the sad news is impressive and moving.
I will try and catch up with the world tomorrow and add something to the discourse and maybe even a picture.
It is now time for a little sleep.

All Over

Ok vacation is history. Got to see a major chunk of Arizona and the bottom bit of Utah and all in all it was a very busy and full week. Back in Phoenix and catching a plane back to Atlanta early this afternoon. Should begin to see some regular posts here as I can pretty much count on Internet in the places I go. I had no real cell phone/Blackberry service/Internet in the Grand Canyon, Page, or Monument Valley. I did see a glimpse of service from some company called Smith Bagley while on the Navajo reservation in a place called Kayenta which is famous for its Navajo Code Talker exhibit in the Burger King.

I am glad I toolk the time to visit Monument Valley. It is a National Monument but is contained completely within the Navajo reservation and they pretty much have it under their control. You can (for 5$) drive around a 17 mile unpaved road that loops through some of the monument and past most of the major rocks. The best way to see the whole thing is to go to Goulding's Lodge and do the package that includes the all day tour. You get a Navajo guide and go to places in the valley that are restricted to guided tours only. These are only accessible via 4 wheel drive and way, way off the beaten path but you get to see Anasazi ruins, pertroglyphs and rock formations that you can't see on the self tour. With the package an all day tour cost $80.00 per person and includes a lunch of burgers cooked by the guide. Good value.

It is also quite eye opening to spend the day in the desert with a native guide and ask questions. Because of the extended drought over the last 10 - 15 years the Navajo have not been able to make a living like they traditionally have. They are now dependent on hauling in water from some of the deep wells that are around the valley as well as hay to support their tiny flocks of sheep and cattle. The drought is forcing them to abandon many of their traditional methods of living in the desert. this is most likely the same set of circumstances that forced the Anasazi to abandon the valley so long ago. Because of global climate change this the may be the fate of the majority of us in the not so distant future.

See you from Atlanta tonight or tomorrow.

Back to the real world...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bryce Canyon

Like I said earlier Bryce Canyon is worth seeing. We saw pronghorn antelope, deer and even caught a good look at a pair of pinion jays. At nearly 9000 ft there is also quite the view from Rainbow point.

Through the Desert

We had a fun day yesterday that was totally unplanned. We did go to Bryce Canyon but getting there was the best part. On our way from Page to Bryce we stopped at the BLM Visitors Center for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We had a great talk with the resident paleontologist and he showed us some of their latest discoveries. Evidently the area was the last part of the U.S. to be mapped and the first dinosaur bones weren't dicovered until 1999 or so but since then hundreds have been uncovered. Anyhow, he told us we should go directly across the monument instead of circle it to get to Bryce. Taking the unimproved road through the monument saves nearly a hundred miles and he said it was really the best way to see the monument.
We took the 55 miles of dirt road and it was truly impressive we only passed a couple of others on the way and it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. The picture is just one of a hundred I took on the trip. I can highly recommend taking Cottonwood Road from U.S. 89 west of Page to Hwy 12. The rental is an Chevy Equinox with some ground clearance and all wheel drive but I think you could make it easily in a regular one if you were careful.
Bryce is worth the visit as well. Not as grand as the Grand Canyon but cool in its own way.
Off to Monument Valley this morning and Goulding's Lodge which is supposed to be the best place to stay in the area. Tomorrow we have a day long archealogical tour scheduled with a Navaho guide that will get us behind the it were.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Big fire burning over on the North Rim today and therefore we are changing direction and going to Utah and Bryce Canyon instead. It was already starting to get hazy yesterday and today it is pretty bad according to reports. Only 12 miles further to Bryce than to the North Rim from here in Page. this little town at the bottom of Lake Powell is pretty central to a lot of good stuff and you can make day trips to the Grand Canyon North and South Rim (130 miles), Bryce Canyon NP (150 mile), Monument Valley (160 miles) and a bunch more. I promise a couple of pictures tonight.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Still Out West

Having a good time. No access to the internet for a few days though. Millions of pictures to post and stuff. If you haven't seen the Grand Canyon in person it is a must do. Pictures just don't do it justice. Awesome...I can't believe Iv'e waited this many years to see it.

Made the drive from the canyon to Page, Az this morning. Very scenic as well. It is actually through the Painted Desert so it is pretty special. I will catch up more a little later this evening. I will also try and post a few pics.

I have been going without internet since Thursday last week and didn't know I could go so long without it. I be back later. I have to see what bills are due for payment and check the email.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Canyon Bound

Ok all the work in Phoenix is done, madam has arrived and we are off to see the wonders of Northern Arizona. We have a whole lost of places to see between here and the Canyon and between the canyon and Monument Valley. Should be a lot cooler at that altitude.
Everyone says the drive between Phoenix and Sedona and the Grand Canyon is beautiful so I intend on taking a lot of pictures.
Don't know what the Internet access will be like so don't know how much you'll hear from me over the next few days.

Have fun. Don't shoot anybody in the face. Don't mock any blind folks over their dark glasses and ignore Ann or arrest her.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

AIG Loses Records on 1M People

Ok, I'm a firm believer in the value of computers and how they can make out lives better in many ways. Computers eliminate a lot of human drudgery and enable a lot of great things like the Internet and it's how I make my living. There is, however, a certain level of responsibility required if you are going to use computers to collect sensitive information on people. We are seeing entirely too many instances of negligence connected with stored personal information.

WASHINGTON - A thief recently stole a computer server belonging to a major U.S. insurance company, and company officials now fear that the personal data of nearly 1 million people could be at risk, insurance industry sources tell NBC News.

The computer server contains personal electronic data for 930,000 Americans, including names, Social Security numbers and tens of thousands of medical records. The server was stolen on March 31, along with a camcorder and other office equipment, during a break-in at a Midwest office of American Insurance Group (AIG), company officials confirm.

I'm trying to understand how somebody could walk into the computer center of a major corporation and walk off with a whole server. Did they keep their server arrays on the back porch?
This is one area in which the Democrats have failed miserably to take the lead on. The government needs to get some serious requirements and penalties in place for companies and individuals that violate the their responsibilities to make a diligent effort to protect personal information. The companies argue that it cost too much but there have been several studies that show that the cost of losing this kind of information costs more in the long run than properly protecting it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It's Campaign Time

Now that the midterms are getting closer the GOP and Rove are getting their campaign game on. Yesterday's stunt to Iraq was pure political theatre and the well oiled machine didn't disappoint. Secrecy, middle of the night helicopter rides, cheering troops, it was all in place and they are carrying it through again this morning in the rose garden. Disgusting.

Still in Phoenix and still having trouble doing anything but working and sleeping. Just crashed after dinner last night and slept right on through until the alarm. Nice walk this morning but it was already 90 at 5am and before the sun came up. Due for another scortcher again today.

Madam said it was a nice cool day in Atlanta yesterday as they enjoyed some of the coolness from Alberto but we didn't get any rain and we need it badly.

Later and have a good one.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lots'a Trust

Watching CNN HL this morning while rushing to get ready and they are reporting that Bush has made a surprise visit(desperate atttmept to revive numbers) to Bagdhad this morning. Guess they just decided to pop in a see what's going on in person since they are trying to figure out how to un fuck up Iraq this week. Evidently, there is not a lot of trust of the new Iraqi PM since he wasn't told of Bush's visit until 5 minutes before Bush walked into the room. That would sure make me warm and fuzzy if it happened to me.
Bush is also supposed to visit with some of the troops while he is there for 5 hours...wonder if he brought his plastic turkey?

On a side note they are also saying that Rove's attorney Luskin is saying that Fitzgerald has informed him that he will not seek charges against Karl. I would expect that Rove has made some kind of deal to hoist Libby who knows else from the petard in trade.

Off to breakfast and the client...going to be a scortcher in Phoenix today as they are predicting 112...but it's a dry heat.

Chat among yourselves and have a great day. Maybe I will be able to stay awake tonight and do some real work here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Off Again

I've decided that the thing to do is to go back to work. Mom has made remarkable progress in just two days and she doesn't need my help right now. IF the progress continues she will need my help when she is released and at home. Just two days ago there wasn't, apparently, a chance that she would be able to once again live unassissted but that outlook is now in question.
I will head back to Phoenix tomorrow for the last week of this gig and then it is behind me.
Madam will fly out the end of the week and we will take a few days off and see the Grand Canyon and then I can come back do what I need to do. The good thing is that my next client engagement will be in Greensboro, NC which is just a couple of hours away from my mom's place so I will be close enough to respond quickly if needed.
Reports from my youngest brother are that she is rapidly improving and is beginning to give everyone in the hospital hell which is more like her old self.
So anyway, off to Phoenix for the last week of this gig in the early morning. Minimal blogging until the evening tomorrow assuming I can do anything but fall into bed and sleep. The first day of work and the three hour time change makes for a long one and I am usually too exhausted to do anything but crash but we shall see. See you tomorrow.

The Downward Spiral

Ntodd has an excellent piece up on the importance of weakness in a conflict such as we are experiencing in Iraq. Stop by.

This is part of reason why Zarqawi's death means nothing. He represents the weaker side of this asymmetric warfare, so already naturally gains from our arrogance of power. What's more, our early mythmaking only enhanced his position in Iraq--both alive, and now as a martyr to the cause--and our later mockery undermined any positive domestic impact.

The only thing that Zarqawi's death really accomplishes is in the minds of the deluded, which merely solidifed our defeat and decline. And in the long run, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Still, the coming storm isn't going to be pleasant...

An we are really glad he has decided to keep blogging.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

No End in Sight

You just lost some more of your rights to privacy in case you didn't notice.

Companies that provide Web-based telecommunications services must allow wiretapping by law enforcement officials, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The ruling upholds a Federal Communications Commission decision that companies such as Vonage Holdings Corp., the country's largest provider of Internet phone service, are under the same legal obligation as telephone companies. The requirement for a wiretap-compatible system could mean higher expenses for broadband service companies, and it marks the further spread of regulation into Internet phone services.

A Human Answers

Soledad O’Brien CNN interviewed father of Nick Berg father, Michael Berg by telephone looking for a "glad he's dead, too bad he didn't suffer more" reaction and was truly astonished that a man at peace with himself and connected to the universal truth was on the other end of the line.

O’BRIEN: Mr. Berg, thank you for talking with us again. It’s nice to have an opportunity to talk to you. Of course, I’m curious to know your reaction, as it is now confirmed that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man who is widely credited and blamed for killing your son, Nicholas, is dead.

MICHAEL BERG: Well, my reaction is I’m sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being. He has a family who are reacting just as my family reacted when Nick was killed, and I feel bad for that.

I feel doubly bad, though, because Zarqawi is also a political figure, and his death will re-ignite yet another wave of revenge, and revenge is something that I do not follow, that I do want ask for, that I do not wish for against anybody. And it can’t end the cycle. As long as people use violence to combat violence, we will always have violence.

O’BRIEN: I have to say, sir, I’m surprised. I know how devastated you and your family were, frankly, when Nick was killed in such a horrible, and brutal and public way.

BERG: Well, you shouldn’t be surprised, because I have never indicated anything but forgiveness and peace in any interview on the air.

O’BRIEN: No, no. And we have spoken before, and I’m well aware of that. But at some point, one would think, is there a moment when you say, ‘I’m glad he’s dead, the man who killed my son’?

BERG: No. How can a human being be glad that another human being is dead?

I feel better knowing that people like Michael Berg are out there.

Thanks to The Heretik for the link

Bad Day for Net Neutrality

Net neutrality took a big hit yesterday. The big telcos won this battle and are close to winning the war as the bill goes to the GOP Senate. We know that Big Business owns the Senate and the chance of getting a bill that so favors the telcos shot down in the public interest is slim to none. I expect this kind of vote from the GOP but 58 Democrats joined with 211 Rethugs to kill the amendment.

If there is not a sea change in attitude somewhere we are about to see an end to the Internet as we know it. Take I look at the list of Dems who voted No and if one of them is yours you might consider an email or telephone call to let them know you are not pleased.

Happy Jesus Day!

Shakespeare's Sister reminds us that today has been proclaimed Jesus Day in Texas by the former Governor of the great state and our current resident of the Whitehouse.

Jesus is so embarrassed!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Another Passage Upcoming


Okay, I'm back for a while. If your curious as to the family was my mother. She had been having some trouble with digestion etc. for about a month and when she finally shared her all of her symptoms with her doctor he immediately put her in the hospital. A gastroenterologist had a look and after all the x-rays and cat scans decided he could only be sure of what was what by doing a little exploratory surgery. To make a long story short what started out as a minor procedure to assess turned into a 10 hour major surgery. Ten hours of surgery is not kind to a 78 year old woman and at some point during or after the surgery she had a stroke on the left side of her brain and some damage as well to the right. She is now on a respirator and will have to have a tracheotomy and feeding tube inserted. Very bad.

The current plan is to wait and see what happens over the next 3 - 4 weeks and see if there is any improvement from the stroke and at least get some healing from the surgery. If we are very lucky she may make some good progress though the doctor warned us that she will probably never be able to live alone again unassissted. The very real possibility is that she will be unable to make it without breathing assisstance or the feeding tube. Very, very bad.

My two younger brothers and I are probably going to have to make some very hard decisions in the next month or so.

Saturday Morning Update: Things are much better this morning. Respirator removed and no need for a feeding tube. Talking some and taking liquids and Jello. Some movement in the right arm so evidently the stroke wasn't too severe. Overall an astounding improvement over even yesterday. Encouraging and most welcome.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Long Silence

Quiet here because of a family emergency. Back now but a long day of travel and much stress. Some very tough decisions in the near future. I'll be back to full strength tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Pleasant Surprise

Stepped out of the hotel room this morning about 5am for my morning walk and lo and behold it was raining. Rained enough to get my tee shirt wet and wet all the pavement but stopped quickly and in 20 minutes you could see no sign that it had rained at all. Everything nice and dry only a little more humid than normal. That's after yesterday afternoon when there were dust storms over Phoenix that had people pulling off the freeways because they couldn't see. Paradise it is not.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Down the Rat Hole

Here's progress for you. Worse and worse. Don't worry though we are working hard on the gay marriage issue you aren't concerned about.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN)-- Nearly 1,400 Iraqi civilians died in a wave of targeted killings in Baghdad last month, according to a high-ranking Iraqi Health Ministry official.

The figure does not include civilians killed in insurgent bombings, the official said. Even so, the number is the highest monthly death toll in the capital since the war began three years ago.

In May 1,398 bodies were brought to the Baghdad morgue, the official said.

All were killed in attacks; in most cases the bodies were found strewn across the Iraqi capital, shot execution-style, the official said.

Hot, Hot, Hot

Another 112 degree day here in Phoenix yesterday. I sure will be glad when this little gig is over at the end of next week. I can't say that I am a big fan of Phoenix, especially in the summer. I haven't seen the rest of Arizona and will try and correct that week after but so far so bad. It doesn't help that we are working long days in a less than stellar work environment so the mood starts on a low note anyway.
According to the local weather report we will have a "cold snap" today and it will only be 108.
Trying to find time to spend a little time here and elsewhere on the blogs but not having much luck. I did manage to wake at 0430 this morning and get something done.

American's Concerns

On May 22-24 the Gallup organization conducted a poll where they asked respondents to list their top two concerns about Amercica. Kos has the whole list of concerns or at least those that garnered any significant percentage of the vote. "Moral Values" didn't even get 1% of the vote and yet Bush and the GOP Congress are spending their whole week flogging the gay marriage amendment.

I think this has to backfire at some point. The American people on the whole are not stupid and when they see this administration focusing all their energy on such a meaningless issue as a sop to the whacko right there is going to be backlash.

Here are the top 10 issues Anericans are concerned about and the percentage of the vote.

1.Situation in Iraq/war 42%
2.Fuel/oil prices/the energy crisis 29%
3.Immigration/illegal aliens 23%
4.Economy in general 14%
5.Poor health care/hospitals; high cost of health care 12%
6.Terrorism 4%
7.Education/poor education/access to education 4%
8.Federal budget deficit/federal debt 3%
9.Unemployment/jobs 3%
10.Taxes 3%

6-6-6 today

For all you superstitious types don't overlook that today is 6/6/6. This, of course, is only true if you follow the Julian calendar.

Made famous by the Book of Revelation (Chapter 13, verse 18) it has been studied extensively by mathematicians because of its many interesting properties.
Here are some interesting things about the number from Mike Keith and there are many more...

The number 666 is a simple sum and difference of the first three 6th powers:

666 = 16 - 26 + 36.

It is also equal to the sum of its digits plus the cubes of its digits:

666 = 6 + 6 + 6 + 6³ + 6³ + 6³.

There are only five other positive integers with this property. Exercise: find them, and prove they are the only ones!

666 is related to (6² + n²) in the following interesting ways:

666 = (6 + 6 + 6) · (6² + 1²)
666 = 6! · (6² + 1²) / (6² + 2²)

The sum of the squares of the first 7 primes is 666:

666 = 2² + 3² + 5² + 7² + 11² + 13² + 17²

The sum of the first 144 (= (6+6)·(6+6)) digits of pi is 666.

Where is the Leadership?

While I don't usually copy other blogger's posts wholesale...every once in a while there is no option. Joe at AmericaBlog reminds us what went on yesterday while Bush and Congress were busy trying to instill bigotry, hate and one religion into the Constitution.
While Bush and his GOP pals in the Senate were busy catering to the theocrats by promoting the anti-gay constitutional amendment, everything else Bush has had a role in was unraveling. Here are just a few of the things that took place yesterday as the President was playing hate politics with the lives of his fellow Americans:

Mass kidnappings in Iraq:
Gunmen in police uniforms staged a brazen daylight raid on bus stations in central Baghdad on Monday, kidnapping at least 50 people, including travelers, merchants and vendors selling tea and sandwiches.

The operation was a direct challenge to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to restore security in the capital, which has been hard hit by suicide attacks, roadside bombs and sectarian death squads.
The usual mayhem in Iraq:
At least 17 killings were reported across the country Monday, including a Shiite school guard and two Sunni brothers who were shot to death as they were driving to college in the capital. Iraqi police found the blindfolded and bound body of a man who had been shot in the head and chest and another body that had been shot in the head in separate locations in Baghdad.
The Dow dropped almost 200 points on inflation fears:
On Wall Street, Bernanke's fresh inflation warning sent the Dow Jones industrials sliding 199.15 points to close at 11,048.72. It had dropped even more, 214 points, two weeks ago on May 17.
Islamic militants prevail against our allies in Somalia:
After months of fierce fighting, Islamic militias declared Monday that they had taken control of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, defeating the warlords widely believed to be backed by the United States and raising questions about whether the country would head down an extremist path.
Katrina residents still can't come home:
Hundreds of displaced residents of public housing have for several days been returning here for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

Displaced residents in the tents are trying to force the city to reopen their storm-damaged apartments. They are armed with little more than cleaning supplies and frustration, in an effort to force the city to reopen their storm-damaged apartments.

The city, saying the projects are not ready, has refused.
As Chris posted yesterday morning, oil prices rose again: $73.23.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Trouble with the Media

There are some excellent discussions going on over at Digby and Firedoglake about the media and what's wrong with it with respect to we liberals and progressives.

Both are asking for comments on what we need to do about it. Some good reading and provocative links.

From Christy:

What the right seems to want is a pliant media will to spread "the good news" as they and the Administration see it. What we on the left want is not the same — what we simply want is for them to present the truth. Unvarnished, painful though it may be — just the facts, the truth, the heart of the matter. No more tabloid fluff. No one really cares about whether Britney Spears is driving in a convertible with her baby — but we do care about the world in which that baby and all our babies will grow up.

The American public must make decisions at every election which require them to be informed — fully informed. We rely on our press corps to dig out the facts, the truth, the things that the powerful are trying to keep hidden away. Some journalists do this very, very well — and we try to highlight that when we see a good example here on FDL. But for the folks who would rather hang back on the cocktail weenie circuit, let this serve as your notice: the American public is hungry for some truth. And if you don’t provide it — real, honest to God truth, they will pass you by in favor of something else. If the choice is Pravda or Edward R. Murrow, I’d pick Murrow every time.

Crashing the Gate Offer

If you haven't read "Crashing The Gate" yet you should. It really is a must read for those of us on the left that are dissatisfied with the performance of the Democratic Party in the last few elections. Markos and Jerome have done a great job of outlining what's wrong and what we have to do about.

Now that I have finished it and spent the $25.00 I probably won't read it again. I therefore offer free it to the first commenter who sends (the.fallenmonk at me a mailing address and expresses a desire to read it. The only catch being they have to promise to make the same offer on their blog or this blog when they have finished reading it. No other strings.

I am back in Phoenix tomorrow and not back until late Thursday night so it probably won't get in the mail until Friday at the earliest. That's assuming anyone wants to take me up on the offer.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Can We Set Some Priorities? Please?

Here is the bit of the transcript for Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room Friday. You'd think that Bush's handlers would realize that people have a lot on their minds nowadays what with the war and the worsening economic situation. Gay marriage is probably not very high on the agenda of most Americans as something they think is an immediate threat and that should require the immediate attention of the President and Congress and a freaking Constitutional ammendment.

You'd think that the handler's of the king would know that the majority of Americans would see this bull shit as exactly what it is, a desperate appeal to the narrow minded base of the jumped by Jesus crowd in hopes of improving the tanking numbers among the GOP base. It is actually embarrassing to face my friends in other countries when the government of the U.S. is so focused on such crap.

Guess what Monday is? Monday is the day President Bush will speak about an issue near and dear to his heart and the hearts of many conservatives. It's also the day before the Senate votes on the very same thing. Is it the war? Deficits? Health insurance? Immigration? Iran? North Korea?

Not even close. No, the president is going to talk about amending the Constitution in order to ban gay marriage. This is something that absolutely, positively has no chance of happening, nada, zippo, none. But that doesn't matter. Mr. Bush will take time to make a speech. The Senate will take time to talk and vote on it, because it's something that matters to the Republican base.

This is pure politics. If has nothing to do with whether or not you believe in gay marriage. It's blatant posturing by Republicans, who are increasingly desperate as the midterm elections approach. There's not a lot else to get people interested in voting on them, based on their record of the last five years.

But if you can appeal to the hatred, bigotry, or discrimination in some people, you might move them to the polls to vote against that big, bad gay married couple that one day might in down the street.

via Atrios

Barn Door Syndrome

I see that they are going to give the troops in Iraq lessons on the ethics of war. I guess I have trouble with the entire concept. I got the same training in bootcamp as these guys have already had and at the time I had trouble rationalizing it all. If you are at war in defense of your home and hearth then there are certains things which are not considered kosher. There are the things that you do to protect yourself and those that are just violence against your agressor for violence's sake. The latter is wrong in most respects.

The second part of the issue concerns agression. If you are an agressor then the rules change. You have already fundamentally demonstrated your lack of ethics and anything and everything you do is tainted and morally wrong in the sense that you shouldn't be where you are in the first place.

Vietnam showed us how the rules change when the fundamental justifiability of the conflict is in question. I usually go by the rule that if there is any doubt about the morality of a conflict then it is probably wrong. Honor has a hard time maintaining a foothold when there is no bedrock of moral justification for your actions.

I'm Back for the least

Just got home from the airport and Phoenix. Reported to be 112 degress when I left and I won't argue...takes the breath away when you step outside from an air conditioned building. Nice gentle rain falling in Atlanta when I arrived...wonderful.

Quick hunt around to see what 's happening and I stumble upon this at Suzies' place.

NEW YORK ( - The names and credit-card numbers of 243,000 customers were on a laptop computer stolen from an employee of accounting firm Ernst & Young, according to sources familiar with the matter., which is owned by Expedia (Research) and Ernst & Young, its auditor, began notifying customers that their information was stolen last week.

I don't use them a lot since I hate paying for my hotel in advance but I have used them once or twice in the last few months. I haven't received any notification yet about whether I'm affected. There is no excuse for this kind of information to be on a laptop computer. I don't care who's it is. There are very simple safeguards that Expedia could have had in place to prevent this information from ever getting out of a secure environment. No excuses.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Quiet...Too Quiet

I know it has been very quiet here for the last week or so but it has been very busy and it seems blogging gets pushed to the back burner. I sat down last night to spend some time here at about half past eight and the next thing I know it was midnight and I was sitting in front of the computer with nothing accomplished. Bad. Another two weeks of Phoenix and long days and travel back and forth then a week of holiday.

Mrs. Monk is flying out in a couple of weeks and we are going to drive up to the Grand Canyon and look around for a few days then it is off to Monument Valley for another few. Just some sighseeing and chilling.

Classic Bush

This is such a classic sympton of the warped reality that has defined the Bush administration and all the powerful Homeland Security that I just had to post it. IF you are the top U.S. targets for terrorist attack... as clearly demonstrated by 9/11... you need less money to prepare:

The Department of Homeland Security yesterday slashed anti-terrorism money for Washington and New York, part of an immediately controversial decision to reduce grant funds for major urban areas in the Northeast while providing more to mid-size cities from Jacksonville to Sacramento.The announcement that the two cities targeted on Sept. 11, 2001, would suffer 40 percent reductions in urban security funds prompted outrage from lawmakers and local officials in both areas, who questioned the wisdom of cutting funds so deeply for cities widely recognized as prime terrorist targets. The decision came less than five months after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff unveiled changes in the grants plan intended to focus funding on areas facing the gravest risk of attack.That's classic. Say one thing, do another
This paragraph so completely defines the incompetence of out current leadership that maybe someone should etch it in stone. Amazing.