Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mug 'n Bun Done

Ok did the Mug 'n Bun today. Indianapolis' "oldest and finest" drive in. The homemade root beer was tasty but way too sweet for my taste. Onion rings were very good and a single order was huge...more than two of us could eat. Burger was a throw away, nothing special about it. No way it will touch Rhea's burger at home in Roswell. Varied menu and some potentially interesting stuff. We ate outside at the covered picnic tables and not in the car but there were plenty of people who were. It was fun to see and it was a change of pace from the regular choices for lunch which are pretty slim on the south side of Indy. Another milestone in the quest for good road food.

Keep the Cheap Sunglasses Handy

This all may seem benign on the surface, just another way to control criminals with non lethal means. The research is being sponsored by the DHS. However, with this administration in charge I can see some serious capacity for abuse...just as the TASER is being abused by some police departments around the nation. Imagine how effective this might be in control anti-war crowds or protesters in general. This is from the Homeland Security Newsletter.

Its inventors call it the LED Incapacitator (L-E-D, as in light-emitting diode). Weapons buffs call it a nonlethal weapon. But test subjects who have buckled and reeled from its nauseating strobe call it other names—none printable.
How does the LED Incapacitator incapacitate? By simultaneously overwhelming the subject both physiologically (temporarily blinding him) and psychophysically (disorienting him). A built-in rangefinder measures the distance to the nearest pair of eyeballs. Then, a “governor” sets the output and pulse train (a series of pulses and rests) to a level, frequency, and duration that are effective, but safe. The colors and pulses continuously change, leaving no time for the brain or eyes to adapt. After a few minutes, the effects wear off.

Pretty cool Huh? There are, however, several sentences in the article that might give one cause for some concern.
Output and size can easily be scaled up to fit the need; immobilizing a mob, for instance, might call for a wide-angle “bazooka” version.

Or how about:
“There’s one wavelength that gets everybody,” says Lieberman. “Vlad calls it the evil color.”

Just very interesting, that's all.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Written on an EtchaSketch

It's ugly and a perfect example of how completely incompetent this administration is. Today the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asked Congress for a little cover for the mismanagement.
The U.S. will hit its debt limit of nearly $9 trillion in early October, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Congress on Monday, and asked lawmakers to raise the limit "as soon as possible." The debt limit is currently $8.965 billion. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Paulson said a congressional decision to raise the limit would spare Treasury the need to take special actions that could create "unnecessary uncertainty" for financial markets.
Just add this little number to the pile of other "mismanagement" PostIt Notes that you have on the fridge. You know like war, privacy, conservation, environment, emergency relief, fiscal responsibility...all those. If you think that is bad dwell upon the following over your Cherrios in the morning. You know all the good news that Bush and company have been spouting over the last few years about how strong the economy is and well everyone is doing? Guess what? Big surprise....they have been pumping sunshine up your kilt on this as well. Not only are they lying about Iraq, homeland security, abstinence only birth control, environmental activism and everything else, they have lied about the GDP for the last 13 quarters. They just quietly revised downward the majority of the numbers for the last three years:
-------Old ----New
Q1-04 3.85% 2.96%
Q2-04 4.04% 3.48%
Q3-04 3.10% 3.60%
Q4-04 2.61% 2.55%
Q1-05 3.40% 3.07%
Q2-05 3.26% 2.81%
Q3-05 4.18% 4.46%
Q4-05 1.76% 1.19%
Q1-06 5.58% 4.82%
Q2-06 2.56% 2.44%
Q3-06 1.96% 1.07%
Q4-06 2.45% 2.09%
Q1-07 0.69% 0.60%
Q2-07 3.38%

Can't imagine how the most important measure of our economy was so off over the last few years. Can you? If you look that is 11 out of 13 revised downward. Tell me again how electing the Republicans and GW was going to bring "fiscal responsibility". We are so screwed!

Tip to Kos

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Road Time

Updated below:

Dreary and overcast day here in Atlanta so it is just as well I have to travel. Off to the airport and Indianapolis is a few minutes. Had some trouble booking the hotel this week and discovered that there is an Indiana Farmers Convention in town for the first part of the week so it is probably going to be a little crazy. The Hilton did get me a room even though they said they were booked. My platinum status and the fact that I am a regular there probably helped. That's one thing about travel is that the more you do it you gain status with airlines, hotel chains and car rental companies...especially if you are loyal. I almost always get upgraded to first on Delta, regularly get upgraded to a suite at Hiltons for the same rate and almost always get an upgraded car with Hertz. They are all nice to me and I am loyal as a result.

So anyhow, off to Indy for the week and fun with farmers. See you folks later.

BTW saw "No Reservations" yesterday and it was cute, not Oscar material by any stretch but a nice little movie.

Update: Long trip to Indy....thunderstorms in Atlanta delayed our leaving for about an hour and a half so we got to sit on the plane at the gate for the whole time. Fortunately I was in first so I had some refreshment and a couple of tiny bags of peanuts to see me through.
I mentioned a farming convention above but I find out that there is also a big do at the speedway this weekend...The Toro sponsored riding lawnmower races. There are sunburned lawnmower racers and fans everywhere. Who knew?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Home Depot Likes the Hate

I haven't said much anything about this but I think it is about time I touched on it. Atlanta based Home Depot is now telling its customers that if you complain about BillOReilly.com's death threats against Hillary Clinton and suggestions of a terrorist attack against the US Capitol then you are hurting the environment. It is bad enough that Bob Nardelli ex CEO raised millions for Bush during the last couple of presidential elections while he took millions in golden parachute money out of the company while sending its value to hell now we see their corporate communication people actually attempting link complaining about their advertising to hurting the environment. What brass!

Here is the letter Home Depot is sending its customers:
Our advertising campaigns have one simple objective to communicate with audiences in the most effective way possible. The Company is receptive to many forms and styles of media as we seek a balanced representation of programming to reach our customer base. Unfortunately campaigns like this one cause us to take time away from our sustainability goals and address a variance of political views.
It is pretty pain. If you complain about Home Depot sponsoring Bill O'Reilly's hate, then YOU are hurting the environment because you're wasting their precious time.

If somebody in corporate communications doesn't get fired over this then there is something seriously wrong. It is interesting to note that their major competitor Lowe's was notified about the hate and death threats on O'Reilly's web site they immediately pulled their advertising. Home Depot is convenient for me as it is just around the corner and Lowe's is probably 5 miles further across town. Looks like we have a decision to make.

You can follow this whole ugly episode at Kos and Americablog.

Liquid Sunshine

As we used to call it in Hawaii the liquid sunshine is falling in Atlanta this morning. Nice but damp trip the the farmer's market where we scored a beautiful aubergine( I know it is an egg plant but I prefer the French) from the little Vietnamese guy who always has something interesting. We also got what he says is an Chinese Cucumber(Pickling Melon) which will be interesting tonight with the Eggplant Parmigiana. I am now at the point with fresh tomatoes from my few plants that I will make the marinara from fresh tomatoes because they are actually starting to get ahead of my ability to eat them fresh. We had the first "Granny Cantrell" last night and it was lovely. It must be a cousin the Beefsteak tomato only it is a little pinkish on the outside.

Got my walk in this morning just as it started to sprinkle and it was really nice in the light rain. Walking in a warm rain is one of the true joys of summer and too often here in the South we only get rain in the summer accompanied by lightning which is not conducive to a nice stroll.

Madam is talking movie this afternoon so that is probably in the offing and then a little cooking. I have a sponge made that will make a lovely and crusty loaf of fresh bread to go with the aubergine. You have to have something to soak up all of that fresh tomato sauce!

Everybody have a great weekend and we'll check in again. Flying to Indianapolis tomorrow afternoon for the week so it may be from the "heartland".

P.S. I read about a place in Indy that still makes homemade root beer in Saveur Magazine which I am going to try and find called the Mug 'n Bun. It is supposed to be somewhere near the Speedway and supposedly they still have car hops. Could be fun, especially if the homemade onion rings are as good as reported. This week I have a mission other than work which makes it more bearable. Full report later in the week.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Runs in the Family Evidently

Looks like GW isn't the first Bush intent on destroying the U.S. and overthrowing our Constitution. Back in 1933 old Prescott. GW's grandpa and his big corporate buddies tried to do us in. It's from the BBC so you know it is factual, right?

The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression.

Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy.

We have been warned and warned about letting big business and government mix. There is a reason it is not a good idea. The interests of the corporation and those of the citizens are opposed.

Passing Gas

This is kind of interesting. If this is true and pans out we could have a viable replacement for fuels like liquefied coal and ethanol that won't pollute.

Three Welsh inventors are touting their Greenbox system that would replace car exhaust systems with an emissions capture system. It uses algae to absorb the emitted gases and hold them inertly so that the boxes can be easily transported for centralised processing of the car wastes.
The three [...] have set up a company called Maes Anturio Limited, which translates from Welsh as Field Adventure.

Through a chemical reaction, the captured gases from the box would be fed to algae, which would then be crushed to produce a bio-oil. This extract can be converted to produce a biodiesel almost identical to normal diesel.

This biodiesel can be fed back into a diesel engine, the emptied Greenbox can be affixed to the car and the cycle can begin again.

The process also yields methane gas and fertiliser, both of which can be captured separately. The algae required to capture all of Britain’s auto emissions would take up around 400 hectares.

hat tip to Wadard at the Global Warming Watch

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On the Level

OK that was a job but as you can see the left and right drive gates meet as they should in the middle. The job turned out "easier" than I thought since it dawned on me that we just reused the post hole on the right gate post and didn't concrete it in. I was able to detach the rails with the pickets on the right side and work the post loose and out. Added two inches of gravel to the bottom of the hole and reset the post. After reattaching the rails and pickets we were gold. I did have to dismount the right gate and trim 3/8 inch off the edge so the gates would close but that is just fine tuning in my book.

The job took much longer that any of us anticipated but things seem to go a little slower as you get older. Let's hope this fence lasts the same 25 years as the last. next will be the 25 year old deck. Madam and I did it ourselves 25 years ago but I am not sure we have that much spit left. It may be a contractor this time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Almost Heaven

Fresh homegrown tomato so perfectly ripe it is ready to burst.
Freshly made whole wheat bread.
Fleur de Sel.
Freshly cracked black pepper.
A leaf or two of homegrown basil.
Lift and eat fast before it drips down your chin.
Let's have another!

Justifiable Hatred for Us

As I said in an earlier post I was busy over the weekend and yesterday so I really didn’t get any time to cruise around my favorite blogs until last night. I discovered that I had missed a terrific but emotional discussion on Firedoglake on Sunday night, where an Iraqi medical relief worker who cares for war orphans, Dr. Maryam, told us very bluntly what we didn't want to hear:

Stop telling lies to yourself American. We know that your racist brutal murdering war criminal troops came from your society and reflect its values. We know that because we see how they behave and have to bury their victims. If you are stupid enough to think we feel anything but hatred and contempt for your soldiers and the country that sent them to make war on my people then you are a fool.

As to Saddam bad though he was your country is far worse.

And then there was this:

Irak is a better transliteration. The quote you are referring to is this:

“The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I’m about to introduce them to it.”

And is from a senior American officer. It is a perfect example of how your troops regard us. Which is why we highlight it.

Dr. Maryam has been in the middle of our created hell since 1991 when the first American bombings began. She has and is seeing the effects of depleted uranium weapons on the children of her country. She has seen first hand some of the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi deaths this occupation as caused and it creates comments like this:

As I am an Iraki and as my job is to treat children maimed and deformed by the weapons your country uses and then prevented me from getting the medicines used to treat those cancers you will forgive me if I tell you that you too are telling lies to yourself. What we know is that when it comes murdering Iraki civilians that there is no difference between the cynical and corrupt party called the Democrats and the cynical and corrupt party called the Republicans. Both are infected with the belief that America has the right to behave as it wishes especially when the people being killed are not white.

Our woefully misguided and criminal leadership has placed our military an absolutely untenable position. Because of our actions we have reduced a whole country that while not the garden spot of the world, was at least reasonably peaceful and civilized. Iraq, before our arrival, was a place where people could go to work each day without fear of being bombed or shot and it was a place where children went to school and grew up to be doctors and scientists and good business people. It was a country with basic services like electricity, water, hospitals and sufficient food. We have created a country today that suffers daily from a violent and brutal civil war where there are multiple bombings, rocket attacks and random murders. Not only have we created this hell hole on earth but we are keeping our soldiers there caught in the middle when every poll of Iraqis tells us that they don’t want us there. Add to this farce the fact that the majority of the American people want our troops home now and yet Bush increases our presence, and does it by sending in incompletely trained troops and troops on short rotation.

Why are we surprised in this situation that a few otherwise sane people are losing it? They are being deployed over and over again into an impossible situation to try to “win” something that is not even being defined by the people sending them there. It’s a miracle that so many of them are able to keep their sanity at all. We are far beyond the point where appeals to honor and duty will turn the tide and soothe their conscience. How hollow do such appeals sound when issued by the likes of Bush and Cheney…men without a shred of honor or sense of duty?

Not only do we need to get out of Iraq for myriad moral and national security reasons but for what has been done in our name as Americans. It is criminal on every level you can imagine. This misbegotten imperialistic adventure is very rapidly destroying the hairspring constitutional balance that has kept us (though not always) from abusing our position of power and acting on our baser instincts. The same idiots that got us into this mess are making noises about Iran!

As we look into the mirror so effectively held up before us by Dr. Maryam we should make a bargain with ourselves to make every effort to eliminate from public discourse the concept that we as Americans, or any other country for that matter, have the right to use force to tell another people what to do with their lives especially while wrapping it in the lies of bringing them “democracy” and “liberty”.

We, as Americans, are complicit in the tragedy that is Iraq and each of us needs to ask ourselves what more we could have done to stop this blundering tragedy. We need to remember as we go along each day with our regular tasks what is being done in our name and for which we will forever more be held to account. None of us can use the excuse that the media is shielding us from the truth and we didn't know...the truth is, it is too unpleasant to know, but we do know.

For every day that we hesitate to hold our elected representatives accountable and allow them to "chicken dance" around doing what is required to end this tragic occupation more people suffer and more people die. Our failure to effect change means more children for Dr. Maryam's hospital and more carnage to fuel her fully justified hate of America and Americans.

Just What the Founders Feared

Pretty much everyone in America agrees on one thing and that is that we are in sad shape. As a matter of fact pretty much everyone in the world feels the same way. Unfortunate as it is, we appear to be stuck with the miserable failure for a while longer and the fact that only about a quarter of the population approves of either Bush or the direction of the country is surely material.

The nation is heading toward a constitutional showdown over the Iraq war. Congress is moving closer to passing a bill to limit or end the war, but President Bush insists Congress doesn't have the power to do it. "I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war," he said at a recent press conference. "I think they ought to be funding the troops." He added magnanimously: "I’m certainly interested in their opinion."

Isn't it nice that Bush would stoop to allow others their an opinion regardless of whether he would ever be compelled to act on anything not mandated by Dick Cheney.

While I am usually disgusted by the coverage of Bush and Cheney in the MSM I was happily surprised by an editorial by Adam Cohen in Monday's NY Times . The title of the editorial is "Just What the Founders Feared: An Imperial President Goes To War". It is a very refreshing thing to read in the 'paper of record'. (free registration required)

But the danger of an imperial presidency is particularly great when a president takes the nation to war, something the founders understood well. In the looming showdown, the founders and the Constitution are firmly on Congress’s side.

This is the kind of writing we should have been seeing all the while. The tenor of the Time's opinion is quite striking and there are no punches pulled. I actually read the article twice, it was such a pleasure and if you haven't I am sure you will find it so as well.

Members of Congress should not be intimidated into thinking that they are overstepping their constitutional bounds. If the founders were looking on now, it is not Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi who would strike them as out of line, but George W. Bush, who would seem less like a president than a king.

If, as they say, the pen is mightier than this sword, then a few more articles like this might change a few additional minds in the Senate and we can begin to dismantle this imperial presidency.

Monday, July 23, 2007

They Have a Plan

Every time I think the current misadministration has reach the pinnacle of "fuck you America" they manage to top it. Consider that the White House has come up with a plan to insure continuation of government in the event of a disaster that affects the normal malfunctioning in Washington but they won't tell anybody what the plan is. That's weird as hell!
What can possibly be so secret in this plan that it can't be shared with members of Congress that are on the Homeland Security Committee?
As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubbleroom'' in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.

On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.

"I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack,'' DeFazio said.

What kind of plan from hell have Bush and Cheney come up with that they don't want known? Even spookier to consider is what we can do about it. What if the plan is unconstitutional? Is there something we can do? Is the White House is above the law in this matter? The real question is what will the Congress do about it. Do they have more hearings or do they actually do something?

How Deep the Well?

You frequent visitors may have noticed that I have not recently dwelt upon the sordid world of Iraq, Bush and Cheney. There is a reason beyond being frightfully busy. Long before we invaded Iraq and even long before Bush was not elected the first time I have been pouring emotion into the political scene. I didn't start this blog until '04 but I was dumping energy into what was going on long before 2000.
I came to realize a few days ago that I was having an "energy crisis" of sorts. I feel just as strongly about what needs to happen in America to put us back on track that I always have. I feel even more strongly today than I did 5 years ago about the tragedy of Iraq. I am an order of magnitude more committed to doing what I can to mitigate global warming through personal action. I just seem to feel that I have been pushing the weight uphill for so long that I just want to throw a couple of chocks under the wheels and take a break. That's bad.
It's bad on several levels but mostly because I have no excuse to step aside for a few breaths. I am not bloodied nor arrested. I am not shackled and tortured and I should be redoubling my efforts to add my voice to the growing chorus of "No, we have had enough!". You don't give up when the tide has turned and it surely has. I truly believe the worst of the worst are at their end game and know it. Why else the self destructive obstruction in the Senate? Why else the open defiance of Congressional subpoenas? Why else the moving goal posts for critical appraisal of the Iraq "surge".
Well, enough of that! I am still here and know what needs to be done. Let's just say I had to reload and leave it at that.

All Fenced In

Sorry for the relative quiet around here but daughter and son in law volunteered to replace the 25 year old cedar picket fence on both sides of the house this weekend. The rest of the back yard is chain link but Madam required the part that faced the street to be cedar picket. So that is what we have been doing for the last two days. We had planned to do it all in one day but getting the old fence posts out of the ground proved a bigger job than planned. Anyhow, we got everything but the pickets and the drive gate done yesterday. The daughter took a couple of hours off today and we finished all of the pickets and she returned to work leaving yours truly the drive gate.

I constructed the two drive gates and put all the pickets on and then proceeded to mount them. No problem mounting them... it is just that they don't meet in the center by about an inch and a half. In other words one side of the fence is higher by an inch and a half than the one on the other side of the drive. Bummer! It is going to take some creative carpentry to solve this one.

Monkette is not going to be happy!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fungus Amongus

The local historical society is doing surveys of all the old cemeteries here in Roswell and yesterday madam called me down to the old Methodist cemetery where they were working. She said I wouldn't believe the variety of mushrooms that were growing in and around the tombstones. I grabbed the camera and she was right. I spent a couple of hours and took over a hundred pictures of the different types that were present. The rain over the last week must have been the trigger for the explosion.
The top one is Ceasar's Amanita I think and is edible. However it is very similar to the Fly Amanita which is poisonous and I am not an expert. They are pretty though. Next down I think is a Strangulated Amanitopsis which is also supposed to be edible...again I am not expert enough to try it. Next down is what I think is another Amanita called the Blusher which is also supposed be very edible. Thing is the Amanita family is also the family of the Destroying Angel and the Death Cap which are the cause of about 90% of all mushroom poisonings and it is probably wise to avoid all the members of the clan. Finally, at the bottom is an unknown but very pretty little fellow. This is only a very small sample of the variety of fungi present. I was amazing.

Friday, July 20, 2007

TGIF and More

Whew....what a week. You'll notice the dearth of posts here and the lack of late night ones especially. Started up a new client this week and this always begins with 1 day of high level training and then we start the business definition where we figure out how they want to use our product and how and where we are going to get the data we need to do our job and what we are going to do with the output. This is typically sitting in a conference room with the business and database people and chasing down data fields in multiple databases that we have decided we need. Very exciting stuff. The typical business definition is anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks of this. We did the entire thing in one week for this client. Granted they are not using all of the functionality in the product but it was still a beast of a job. One big help in this client's case was that virtually all of the data we need is in a single data warehouse which was very nice.

Anyhow, now we go away and write up the results into a project definition and then go back to the client in a week or so and get it signed off. Once that happens we can actually start the real work. Next week should be a little slacker( I won't have to roll out of bed at 5am and get dressed and commute to the client everyday) so things should be a little more normal around here.

Firefox Weirdness

Had another episode of Firefox Weirdness this afternoon and the only solution was to create a new profile again. It was the same problem I had a few months ago where Firefox would just freeze or hang and after a few seconds come back. I noticed that during these freezes the firefox icon would disappear from the task bar and then reappear a few seconds later. This was really frustrating when you were trying to type in a comment box and the letters you type would not appear and then all of a sudden you get a whole sentence squirting out.

Fortunately creating a new profile is quite easy the key though is to save all of your settings before you do. All of the user data is conveniently stored in the Mozilla folder in the application data folder of your documents and settings folder.

At minimum you need to save your bookmarks.html, cookies.txt, history.dat, hostperm.1, key3.db, signons2.txt files. There is detail on this in the Mozilla knowledge base with all the details and why this file and not that one. Make a copy of these files from the profile that is currently in use and put them in a temp directory. Close down Firefox completely and run Firefox from the command line with a -P or -Profilemanager switch and create the new profile and then exit. Go back to the profile directory and find the new profile folder and copy your saved files into it and then you can restart firefox and you should be right where you left off except that you will have to add any extensions like the Google tool bar that you were using.

Seems I am having to do this every few months to get rid of the weirdness.

HE Gassed His Own People

Bush used the excuse of Saddam gassing his own people as one of the reasons he was such a bad man and just had to be removed. How does it feel George to know that the same reason can now be used to justify your removal from office?

From the Washington Post(registration required)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency since early 2006 has suppressed warnings from its own field workers about health problems experienced by hurricane victims living in government-provided trailers with levels of a toxic chemical 75 times the recommended maximum for U.S. workers, congressional lawmakers said yesterday.

A trail of e-mails obtained by investigators shows that the agency's lawyers rejected a proposal for systematic testing of the levels of potentially cancer-causing formaldehyde gas in the trailers, out of concern that the agency would be legally liable for any hazards or health problems. As many as 120,000 families displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita lived in the suspect trailers, and hundreds have complained of ill effects.

I personally think someone needs to be held criminally liable for this and I think Bush and Chertoff should be at the head of the list.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

They Called Us Nuts

Take a look at this from Live Science - "Organic farming is often regarded as inefficient. But according to a new study, it could yield up to three times as much food as other methods that have come to be considered conventional."

"If farming were to switch to organic agriculture on the current amount of land that is being used for farming and livestock production, then that system could produce enough calories to feed the world without requiring people to change their dietary habits," said study team member Catherine Badgley, a research scientist at the Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan.

Badgley and her colleagues admit that organic farming is labor intensive. But their review of yield data for the past 30 years on different agricultural methods found that in developed nations, yields were almost equal from organic and conventional farms. Developing countries—where farmers may not have access to expensive fertilizers—could almost triple their yield by using organic methods without putting extra farmland into production.

I have tried to be an organic gardener since the seventies and in the early years all of us were considered nuts for thinking that it was serious to consider it viable on a large scale. So there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Reid Gets Serious

Lunch break and trying to catch up on the news. Looks like the biggest thing going is that the GOP managed to sustain their filibuster of the Levon-Reed amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill which was not unexpected. The bigger and in my opinion the better news is that Harry Reid has pulled the entire Defense Authorization Bill from the floor until further notice.

Bob Geiger
who has his finger on the pulse of the Senate has a good analysis of the events of the morning.

If the GOP Senators want to continue filibustering meaningful Iraq legislation, Reid won't proceed with wasted effort until they are ready to get serious.

True to form, GOP leader Mitch McConnell gave a floor statement that made it clear the Republicans will filibuster every Iraq bill and amendment.

Good for Harry. He is doing what the American people want. The Republicans are too busy protecting Bush and his failed war and are obviously not focused on what is best for our troops nor interested in doing what the majority of Americans have made it clear that they want.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Years More Pain

I was listening to NPR on the way home tonight and they were talking about the logistics and issues around a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Most Pentagon estimates and those of others in a position to know are that it will take about two years to withdraw the force we now have in Iraq. The environment is hostile and force protection is going to require smaller units transitioning to Kuwait or wherever to catch a ship home. Even though the locals want us the hell out doesn't mean a holiday from insurgents and freedom fighters that want to get one or two last shots at the occupiers. The net is that even if we started tomorrow we couldn't get all our folks out of harms way until sometime mid 2009.
The irony, if you will, of the 2009 date is that by that time GW will be in some cushy board of directors position or the like as will Cheney and they will, without qualm, be living the good life and ignoring the havoc and tragedy they have wrought upon the world. They will have left the tragedy of Iraq for others to clean up. Damn, that galls me just to think about it. I can't imagine how angry it will make me when it becomes reality.

A Lot of Prisoners

According to Americablog

Ilan over at DemocracyArsenal has more on recent reports that the U.S. is holding more than 23,000 prisoners:
The U.S. government can’t exactly let them go because a lot of these detainees are dangerous people. On the other hand, giving over a prison population, which is 86% Sunni, to a Shi’a dominated government in the middle of a civil war doesn’t exactly strike me as a good idea. However, if American forces are going to eventually leave they’ll have to figure out what to do with all these guys.
If this is true and I wouldn't be surprised, it is insane. I am having trouble conceiving of where you would put this many prisoners.

Amazing Turnaround in Iraq

General Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is now suddenly announcing that Iraq has suddenly improved amazingly! Even Baghdad, according to Pace, is much safer!

Funny how this comes on same day that Iraq is number one on the agenda for Congress. If I am not mistaken it was only a week ago that a congressional visit was limited to daylight only with no sleepover and everyone had to were armor and kevlar helmets continuously while in the green zone.

They must really think we are stupid.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Get a Spine Harry

Updated below:

Christy over at Firedoglake has a couple of important posts on the obstructionism of the GOP in the Senate and what it is doing to the legislative agenda that American wants and needs. We need to make the GOP in the Senate follow through on their threats to filibuster by making them go the whole nine yards and taking the heat for their actions.
Here are just some of the important legislation stopped by the threat of filibuster by the GOP minority. Shameful!

January 17, Reid Amendment to Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007: a bill to provide greater transparency in the legislative process.

January 24, Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007: a bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage.

February 5, A bill to express the sense of Congress on Iraq: disapproving of the troop escalation in Iraq.

February 17, A bill to express the sense of Congress on Iraq: disapproving of the troop escalation in Iraq (again).

April 17, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007: an original bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2007 for the intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Intelligence Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes.

April 18, Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007: a bill to amend part D of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for fair prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.

June 11, No confidence vote on Alberto Gonzales: a joint resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people.

June 21, Baucus Amendment to CLEAN Energy Act of 2007: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for energy advancement and investment, and for other purposes.

June 26, Employee Free Choice Act of 2007: A bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.

July 11, Webb Amendment to the national defense authorization act for fiscal year 2008: to specify minimum periods between deployment of units and members of the Armed Forces for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Go over to Firedoglake and even sign the petition to tell Harry Reid to do his job and grow a spine. You might also use the posted numbers to make a call or two.

UPDATE: From Bob Geiger

Forcing his Republican colleagues to put up or shut up on the notion of an up-or-down vote, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just moments ago announced that he will immediately file a cloture motion on the Reed-Levin troop redeployment bill and, if Republicans follow through with a filibuster, will place the Senate in a prolonged all-night session Tuesday to force a true continuation of debate.

“Now, Republicans are using a filibuster to block us from even voting on an amendment that could bring the war to a responsible end,” said Reid. “They are protecting the President rather than protecting our troops. They are denying us an up or down – yes or no – vote on the most important issue our country faces.”…

Reid will be using the provision of Rule 22 that allows for up to 30 hours of continuous debate once it’s made clear — in this case, by Republicans trying to avoid an up-or-down vote on Reed-Levin — that there is a desire to continue debating the issue.

In other words, the Majority Leader is saying “You want to debate? We’ll stay all night and debate.”

Reid could hold the Senate in continuous session overnight Tuesday and into midday Wednesday unless Republicans agree to a simple-majority vote on Reed-Levin.

Senate Democrats will then be prepared to take to the floor and speak all night and, if their Republican colleagues do not remain in the chamber, invoke ongoing quorum calls and other procedural maneuvers to force GOP members back to the Senate floor.

With the whole specter of cots being dragged into Senate cloakrooms and the pure theatrics involved, I’m hopeful this will shine a white-hot spotlight on the Senate’s Republican leadership and show Americans how the GOP doesn’t truly support helping troops and their families at home or extricating them from pointless involvement in the Iraqi civil war. (emphasis mine)

Sterile Death

I know let's make war sterile. No heavy gun, no flak jacket, no travel to hell holes, no dust, no IEDS, no blood on your hands, no enemy you have to look at in the face, no burned women and children you have to step over. You can do it all from an air conditioned room somewhere...hell it's just like a video game. You can go home at night to the family just as if you had been assembling engines all day. No fuss no muss.

The airplane is the size of a jet fighter, powered by a turboprop engine, able to fly at 300 mph and reach 50,000 feet. It's outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting, and a ton and a half of guided bombs and missiles.

The Reaper is loaded, but there's no one on board. Its pilot, as it bombs targets in Iraq, will sit at a video console 7,000 miles away in Nevada.

The Reaper should begin to appear in both Afghanistan and Iraq by this fall. How effective do you think it is gong to be in dealing with street level, house-to-house combat? How is a robot attack plane screaming past at 50,000 feet, dropping bombs controlled from 7,000 miles away going to deal with the realities of house to house combat of the kind we are seeing in Afghanistan and Iraq? It won't, of course, it will just be a way to kill innocent civilians without getting your hands dirty while doing on the cheap. It is a sin against all that is human.

The Reaper won't be the first flying drone to take out human targets, that "honor" goes to the Predator. But the Reaper is faster, larger, and far more deadly.

The arrival of the outsize U.S. "hunter-killer" drones, in aviation history's first robot attack squadron, will be a watershed moment even in an Iraq that has seen too many innovative ways to hunt and kill.

If you don't think the the operators of the Reaper sitting all comfortable in their sanitary room with nothing but a video screen and a joystick won't treat war like a video game then your are very naive. How are we going to explain to the civilized people of the world what we are doing? There is no justification for this. How are the people of Iraq and Afghanistan going to feel about being bombed from 50,000 feet by robots?

This is a terrible, terrible thing. Taking the pain, blood, death and sacrifice out of war just makes it easier to wage and this something we should all rage against.

h/t Kos

Look Out for the Fnords!

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Kinda quiet around here as the weather was wonderful all weekend and we got some much needed rain. Did the usual catch up on chores and all the routine weekend stuff...farmer's market, regular market, etc. Some great local produce is available now and we enjoyed some fresh silver queen corn roasted in the husk on the grill and even enjoyed a pizza margharita with fresh ingredients last night.

Going to be a busy week as I am starting up with a new client here in Atlanta so it is commute time and 8-5 everyday. Going to be brutal but at least school is not it and that helps the traffic some. The new client is just a mile or so from my office and I don't have to brave the downtown traffic just the north side. It will probably be a little quiet around here this week and next but we shall see.

Not a good start to the week in Iraq according to CNN.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- At least 80 people have been killed in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk in a coordinated attack by a suicide truck bomber in a crowded market and a separate car bomb parked on a busy street, police say.

South of Baghdad, thousands of U.S. troops swooped on a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq safe haven used to reinforce militants fighting in the capital, the military said.

Iraqi police said 136 people were wounded in the Kirkuk blasts Monday and warned that the death toll could rise further.

Notice how almost every story you see mentions al Qaeda regardless of whether it has anything to do with the actual story. Those of you familiar with Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminati story will understand the concept of "fnord". Let's just say that over the years the phrase "al Qaeda" has been repeatedly and constantly associated with danger and threat and because of this constant association when we read or hear it today it stimulates the fear response subconsciously. These people want you afraid because they know the fear is the mind killer and removes rationality from the discourse. How does it feel to be manipulated?

Everyone have a great week.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Been a busy week and on the news front pretty shitty. Jim Webb's amendment to bring some sanity to troop deployments and rotation in and out of Bush's hell on earth was defeated by filibuster when if allowed to come to a vote would have won passage by 15 votes or so. That really sucked. Then we had Mr. Incompetent give a news conference and we had to listen to him lie once again with no challenge from the press. Michael Chertoff got some bad chili dogs and now thinks we are going to get attacked and almost last we here that while Bush has been killing our children in Iraq and spending 12 billion a month for the privilege the real enemy we should have been focused on all this time is now stronger than ever. In other words...The Global War on Terror is a joke.
Then this shows up...

Via TPM Election Central:

It's official: President Bush will veto any and all measures put forth by Congressional Dems to halt the Iraq War, according to a little-noticed letter from the White House to Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The letter also says that the White House will veto any measure that would tie its hands on Iran -- including on military action inside that country.

That Bush will veto any such measures was expected, and isn't surprising. Nonetheless, the letter makes it official that Congressional Dems face the daunting prospect of having to muster a veto-proof majority on any Iraq or Iran measures. The little-noticed letter can be read right here.

Not really a surprise but merge that information with this:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress not to interfere in the conduct of the Iraq war and suggested President George W. Bush would defy troop withdrawal legislation.

It is easy to overlook because we expect something negative in context with withdrawal of troops but it subtly says something else.

President George W. Bush would defy troop withdrawal legislation.

Not just veto. Defy.

These are sick and evil fucks and this is right up their alley and don't for a minute think they wouldn't defy Congress. (Does Harriet Meyers ring a bell?)

That's just the highlights from the news this week. Suitable for a week ending with a Friday the 13th I guess. Did you escape 7/13/07 unscathed?

PS TWTWTW stands for That Was The Week That Was and satirical news program on the BBC.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New York Firefighters Don't Like Rudy

It's about time New York Firefighters made their feelings known about Rudy Giuliani.

Ever since 9/11 all we have heard is how Rudy is the hero of the World Trade Center attacks. Jeebus, all he did was show up video cameras in tow near ground zero.

The raw truth is that Rudy Giuliani was negligent and failed to prepare the New York City Fire Department prior to September 11 for a potential calamity. In spite of his responsibility for the tragedy that befell the NYPD on that day he has shamelessly exploited 9/11 to make tens of millions of dollars and build a base of support through the media for a presidential bid.

So now it is payback time. The actual heroes of 9/11 - members of the International Association of Firefighters - have released a documentary, "Rudy Giuliani: Urban Legend" - which features active and retired fire fighters, fire officers and families speaking out about the real Rudy Giuliani.

Here is an excerpt from London Times

Riches was one of 343 firefighters who died. His father spent every day sifting through the wreckage for bodies, eager for some sign of his son. In November, Giuliani ordered a halt to the work after the remains of 91 firefighters had been recovered.

"Giuliani told everybody the bodies were pulverised, but I was digging them up every day. It was grisly stuff, limbs, little bones - people were blown to bits - but the bodies were there," said Riches, 55.

The searchers refused to stop. An ugly clash between the firefighters and the New York police left 18 officers injured. Eventually Giuliani backed down and allowed the work to continue, but not before branding the firefighters’ actions as "sinful".

As late as March, clumps of victims - 13 here, five there, a couple more scattered around - were being found. One of them was Riches’ son.

Several months ago, the International Association of Firefighters held a town hall style forum where Presidential candidates from both parties were invited except for one.

In a letter explaining why the IAFF refused to invite Giuliani to their bipartisan town hall forum, union president Harold Schaitberger writes:

What Giuliani showed following 9/11 is a disgraceful lack of respect for the fallen and those brothers still searching for them. He valued the money and gold and wanted the [World Trade Center] site cleared before he left office at the end of 2001 more than he valued the lives and memories of those lost."

So now Rudy is going to get the GOP invented Swift Boat Treatment only this time there will one big difference. Unlike the liars who attacked John Kerry the Firefighters will have the truth behind them.

You can see the web video at the website set up by the Firefighters at Rudy-UrbanLegend.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Insurance Good

I mentioned earlier that I went for a doctors visit this morning that started at 930 and which by all rights should have been over at 10 and which lasted until 1145. Most of that time was my sitting in the examining room...waiting. It was my routine visit to get the hemoglobin A1C and the lipids checked so I can get renewals on all the meds for high blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol and what not. It was also my quarterly chiding about not gaining weight which I did and there better be a reversal of direction in three months, etc.

Now for the real reason for this post. I mentioned to the doc that I have had some stuffiness in my right ear for the last month or so. Sort of like you have water in the ear but actually don't. She took a look and concluded that yes there was a fluid build up in the inner ear and that some prescription Sudafed and some nasal spray would fix it up.

Upon filling the prescriptions I was floored by the cost of the little bottle of Nasonex spray...$79.52 for a little tiny bottle of nose spray. With insurance my copay was only $30.00 but even that seems excessive for a little bottle of nose spray. It can't possibly cost a fraction of that much to manufacture it. Every time I see one these I think of the 45 million people in the U.S. (many of whom are children) that have no medical insurance. They wouldn't be able to afford to have this drug or would have to forgo eating for a week or two to have it. Granted a little fluid in the year is an irritation and not life threatening but in a child it might mean some hearing damage or worse. Me I already can't hear thunder.

Real Support for the Troops

In a follow up the the last post I am posting Senator Webb's full statement on the obstruction by the GOP to even voting on his amendment because it is important for everyone to understand that the Republican Senators -- and Lieberman -- are FILIBUSTERING a bill that actually does support the troops:
“Today the Republicans decided to filibuster an amendment that goes straight to the well-being of our troops. I deeply regret this move, which makes it necessary for the amendment to be passed with a minimum of 60 votes instead of 51.

“I would remind my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle that the American people are watching us closely today. They expect us to finally take the sort of positive action that might stabilize the operational environment in which our troops are being sent again and again.

“Americans are tired of the posturing that is giving Congress such a bad reputation. They are tired of the procedural strategies designed to protect politicians from accountability, and to protect this Administration from judgment. They are looking for concrete actions that will protect the well-being of our men and women in uniform.

“The question on this amendment is not whether you support this war or whether you do not. It is not whether you want to wait until July or September to see where one particular set of benchmarks or summaries might be taking us. The question is this: more than four years into ground operations in Iraq, we owe stability, and a reasonable cycle of deployment, to the men and women who are carrying our nation’s burden. That is the question. And that is the purpose of this amendment.”

No Relief for the Troops Thanks to the GOP

After an agonizingly long doctors appointment this morning I get home to find that the GOP has once again shown that they would rather support their president than the troops...much contrary to their rhetoric recently. Once again the Republican Party has shown its lack of courage by not putting their votes where their cheap talk is, and once again they have blocked a vote to support our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. By a 41-56 vote, Republicans blocked an up and down vote on the Webb Amendment this morning . With the Republicans supporting the troops is just a slogan and no more. Some of them have been making a lot of noise lately about changing course but when it came down to it they proved once again that they are just whipping boys for the idiot in chief.

Said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

I am discouraged that the Republican leadership chose to block this troop readiness amendment. If Republicans oppose troop readiness, they are entitled to vote against it. If Republicans don't believe that our courageous men and women in uniform deserve more rest and mental health, they can vote no on this amendment. If they don't agree that constant redeployments and recruiting shortages are straining our armed forces, they can vote no on this amendment.

But to block this amendment – to not even give it an up or down vote – shows that some of my Republican colleagues are protecting their president rather than protecting our troops. But just because some in the minority party are choosing obstruction does not mean that all Republicans must follow in lockstep. I urge all of my colleagues who believe we need a new course to support this amendment. It is a crucial first step on the path toward a responsible end to the war.

GOP Senators' Warner, Snowe, Collins and Coleman did vote with the Democrats and showed some spine, while both big talking Voinovich and Domenici proved that, regardless of their tough talk, at the end of the day their loyalty is to Mr. Incompetent, not to the American people and definitely not to the troops they have put in harms way. Need I mention that SOB Joe Lieberman voted with the Republicans?

Something has to give. As long as the Republicans continue filibuster and obstruct the Senate by refusing to allow even votes on the amendments to the Defense Appropriations bill, we are going nowhere. I think it is probably time to change game. Instead of invoking cloture on important amendments and falling into the 60 vote trap the Dems should continue the debate for as long as it takes and not let the filibuster threat rule the game. We need to changed the headlines that continue to say "the Democrats failed to pass," and make the headline read "The Republicans refused to vote."

The Democrats have an obligation to see that the will of the American people is not thwarted by these GOP tactics whatever it takes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Has He Got a Deal For You!

Hold on to your hearts and wallet time or as we used to say in the Navy...grab the Vaseline and bend over! We are about to hear one more time about Bush's pain and sorrow. He is going to tell us one more time that our commitment isn't open-ended and He is going to tell us how he shares our "frustration" with the progress in the war. What he is NOT going to tell us is that he doesn't give a flying fuck what the vast majority of Americans think and that he is going continue the mindless disaster in Iraq for as long as he can. Screw the dead and screw the cost...bring it on!

Here we are months after more than 60% of Americans have come to their senses and are insisting that they want a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq immediately. Weekly more and more GOP leaders are defecting from the "stay the course" strategy and from his failed leadership. And now, today, the poster boy for failure and ineptitude will begin to lay out his "vision" for the "post-surge" in Iraq and:

...will launch a campaign emphasizing his intent to draw down U.S. forces next year and move toward a more limited mission if security conditions improve, senior officials said yesterday.

...Bush plans to lay out what an aide called "his vision for the post-surge" starting in Cleveland today to assure the nation that he, too, wants to begin bringing troops home eventually.

Pardon me for actually understanding what you are saying but doesn't "if security conditions improve," and "bringing troops home eventually." mean that nothing is going to change and that we are just going to have more of the same? We are also supposed to believe that this revolutionary new "stratergy" took days of "intense internal discussions," for the brain trust at the White House. Is the White House finally beginning to recognize that 3 out 4 people in this country think we need to begin redeployments immediately and that this was the cause for Bush:

...and his team concluded that he needed to shift his message to show that he shares the goals of his increasingly restless Republican caucus and the broader public.

It took "days of intense internal discussions" to figure out how to once again tell the American people to go fuck themselves in a new and improved way. This excerpt from yesterday's White House press briefing tells the whole scary story:

Q ...is there no debate in the White House about pulling troops back or drawing down now, for any reason -- political, or whatever?

MR. SNOW: No, the conversation is always about what do you do to succeed in Iraq.

There is no recognition of the abject failure of this misadventure. No acknowledgment that we have spent 610 Billion dollars (on theChinese MasterCard no less) for nothing but destroying a country, killing nearly four thousand American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. No apology for destroying America's credibility with the rest of the world.

Do you ever ask yourself what we would have had to pay Saddam in cold hard cash just to go away somewhere? We could have surely got him cheaper than this and nobody would have had to die. They could have even kept it a secret for all I care. Pay him a lot of money, buy him an island somewhere or a ritzy Paris apartment, whatever, on the agreement that he announces his retirement and leaves Iraq and take his family of hoodlums with him. Makes sense to me.

h/t Kos

Live Earth Redux

If you missed seeing Live Earth as it happened then you missed some good stuff. Maybe you saw it all but would like to see some of your favorite parts again? I for one am still repeating the SOS Morse code. dit-dit-dit, dah-dah-dah, dit-dit-dit.

You're in luck! You can relive your favorite performances, your favorite fashion faux pas, and all the goodness (hologram or otherwise!) on MSN's Live Earth site.

If you didn't see the set with Alicia Keys and John Legend singing Marvin Gaye's " What's Going On" you really should.

Also you can Check out the Green Production Blog. This particular entry was very telling:

Overheard At Our Local Coffee Shop ...

25 year old girl talking on her cell phone: "yeah, so i took the pledge this weekend and went out and bought a bunch of those special lightbulbs."

That's what this was supposed to be all about. People can talk all they want about the impacts of the individual concerts, but I think the bigger picture is what will happen as a result.

And speaking of that, if you haven't done so take the pledge, already.

h/t to Gristmill

Fiscal Disaster

Nancy Pelosi released this statement yesterday in response to the CRS report on the costs of the Iraq misadventure:

"Think about what $10 billion a month would mean to protecting Americans from terrorism, improving security at our ports and airports, and increasing border security. Think about what $10 billion a month would mean for the 47 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and for the education of our children. Think about what $10 billion a month would mean to lowering the deficit so that future generations are not burdened with debt.

"The American people are outraged at the Bush Administration’s misplaced priorities -- that is why Congress will hold the Administration accountable with votes this month to end the war and redeploy the troops. This will include a vote on legislation to begin redeployment of our troops within 120 days and to conclude by April 1, 2008, with the exception of those remaining in Iraq to fight terrorists and protect our diplomats.

"The date-certain legislation gives our Republican colleagues another opportunity to join Democrats in heeding the wishes of the American people, who want to wind down this war and bring our troops home."

That pretty much sums up the "fiscal disaster" part of the argument. I wonder what Bush's defenders will respond with.

Is It Toast Yet?

Think Progess has a few facts for the Senate to think about as they discuss Iraq over the next couple of weeks:

Bloomberg notes, "Four thousand U.S. service members have died in U.S. President George W. Bush’s ‘war on terror’ in Iraq and Afghanistan 5 1/2 years after American forces ousted the Taliban in December 2001." AP adds, "All told, Congress has appropriated $610 billion in war-related money since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror assaults, roughly the same as the war in Vietnam. Iraq alone has cost $450 billion." The wars cost approximately $12 billion a month, according to a new Congressional Research Service report.

Over 34,000 American troops have been injured with thousands permanently disabled and even though they don't register on the Republican adding machine, you can add in the hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of this ghastly disaster and if that doesn't make a perfect argument for ending this debacle then I don't know what does. Get the hell out!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Yes Organic is Better!

I followed a link from somewhere and wound up on the ABC news site on an article titled:
Is Going Organic Really Better for You? More Natural, More Expensive Produce May Offer Little Additional Health Incentive
It is a very misleading title to say the least. For instance in just the first few paragraphs it points out a new study...

Now comes a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that finds otherwise.

Organic tomatoes were found to have nearly twice the level of two compounds, quercetin and kaempferol, as traditionally grown tomatoes. These compounds, part of a group called flavonoids, which are just a subclass of antioxidants, have been linked to a reduction in heart disease risk, so higher levels in food would seem to be a good thing.

Might not something about new research showing the benefits of organic food been a better title? The rest of the article is just the same old stuff about how expensive organic food is and so forth. It does mention that the important thing is to first eat your proper quantity of fruits and vegetables everyday and then worry about the organic. Overall the tone of the article is kind of dismissive of trying to eat organic and in at least one instance states that expecting everyone to to do is impossible since we don't have enough farmland to grow that much food. Wrong. Currently only a fraction of a percent of the arable land in this country is producing organic food and it has been shown repeatedly that an integrated organic farm can be more productive than a non organic one and produce higher quality food with less cost and a far less impact on the environment. In several recent studies it has shown that pasture raised or grass fed beef is higher in Omega 3 fatty acid and has less cholesterol than the factory farm beef.

These articles always leave out some of the important things about organic and natural foods. They are other reasons aside from good nutrition and healthy food to eat natural and organic.

Foods grown in harmony with the natural way of things do not have a negative impact on the environment. No nitrogen fertilizers are needed that consume huge quantities of oil to produce. No pesticides are broadcast over thousands of acres at a time killing everything that gets in its way. Beef, pork and poultry that are raised in pastures and in the open eating their natural foods like grass, etc. have no downside impact on the environment plus the animals are healthier, happier and better sources of food for humans than the factory farmed animals that are stuffed by the thousands together and fed grains which are not their natural food and which in turn makes them sick. Because they become sick from stress and unnatural food they have to be pumped up with antibiotics and other drugs so that they can live long enough to be slaughtered. We won't even talk about the tons of waste these factory farms create.

The last page says "If you really want to try eating organic then here are some tips..." Implying that if you are crazy enough then...

These subtle "hit pieces" will also never point out how much better organic and especially locally grown produce tastes than the stuff trucked or flown in from who knows where at a tremendous cost in energy.

Yes, currently organic is usually more expensive that conventionally grown fruits and vegetables but the more we support it now by paying a few cents more the faster the industry will grow and as it does it will become more competitive with conventionally farmed food.

We all need to try and buy locally grown food and organic where possible and remember to eat in season. If it is blackberry season in your area by all means go hog wild but if it's not and your only source of blackberries is from Chile then consider another option or better yet buy a bunch when they are in season and can or freeze some for when they are not.

Live Earth and Rats

I hope everyone had a great weekend and that everyone got a chance to spend some quality time on Saturday watch the Live Earth event. Being the huge techno freak that I am I have a plasma HD TV and HD cable as well so I managed to spend quite a bit of time in front of said TV and basically being a couch potato for the environment for a day. (with Al Gore's permission, of course). It was really an amazing piece of organization. I would think the the Department of Homeland Insecurity would look into hiring the same outfit for the next hurricane relief effort.

Needless to say Saturday was a wasted day for the most part. I did manage to get to the farmer's market in the early morning and get a few yard chores done but otherwise I just "boob-tubed" it.

Sunday was the rush to get up with the chickens and use my one legal watering window to try and save the garden. I felt kind of foolish standing out in the light rain with a garden hose but we weren't getting any serious rain and the plants wouldn't get another chance until the next Sunday. We did probably get a half an inch or so in a couple of brief showers but we are still way behind.

Sunday afternoon was a rare "out for the movies" to see Ratatouille. Cute enough and worth the price but I must admit that the hordes of rats streaming out of the drain into the kitchen and over the counters was a bit much and unsettling though. I can recommend it for some light hearted fun but I wouldn't say it was really a kid's movie. If you are a "foodie" you might get a kick out of it.

As it is plain to see I am not traveling again this week and I might have some thing more substantial to say later in the day but right now I am going out for a walk while it is still only 74 degrees. Later.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

It's Live Earth Day

It's Live Earth Day. Lets hang with a couple of billion others and enjoy the show. Watch it, and you get the added benefit of pissing off Senator Inhofe and the other Global Warming deniers.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


My daughter sent these to me knowing how much I love hummingbirds. The lady pictured is Abagail Alfano of Pine, Louisiana which is in one of the hummingbird flyways. She regularly feeds them but on a lark just sat down with a dish of sugar water in her hand. How cool is that?

Lube Up Right or Don't Bother

Every doctor and health professional you talk to will tell you use sunscreen daily. I don't but Madam does. My skin is very dark and oily and seems to resist sunlight pretty well on its own. Madam is of good German stock and has virtually no natural protection from the sun. I do put on sun screen if I am going to be in the sun for an extended period such as a round of golf. It has been rumored that not all sunscreens are equal and Madam swears by Neutrogena for Sensitive Skin but it only ranks 67th in the list of recommended sunscreens. Now you don't have to wonder because the Environmental Working Group has taken the guesswork out it. This article was released last month but I just stumbled onto it. Thought I would share.

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the first-ever, in-depth analysis of the safety and effectiveness of more than 700 name-brand sunscreens. The new database lists products that offer the best combination of safety and effectiveness: they are formulated with the safest chemicals, are most effective at protecting against sunburn, and help prevent long-term damage caused by the sun’s UVA rays, which are linked to skin aging, wrinkling and, potentially, cancer.

The analysis found that 84 percent of 785 sunscreen products with an SPF rating of 15 or higher offer inadequate protection from the sun’s harmful rays, or contain ingredients with safety concerns. Ironically, some popular sunscreen chemicals break down when exposed to sunlight and must be formulated with stabilizing chemicals. Others penetrate the skin and present significant health concerns.

The database can be found at: http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/

Water, Water, Bottled Badness

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to bottled water. There is almost a case of it in the basement fridge right now as well as 5 or 6 bottles of San Pellegrino. It is a horrible habit and I am kicking myself when I think about how much energy and money I have wasted over the years on bottled water. I know better. It would be different if the tap water here was nasty but we really do have good water right out of the tap. I could justify it if I lived on the coast where some of the water comes from desalinization plants and the water tastes and smell of rotten eggs. Even in parts of England and Europe there are so many minerals in the waters that it is barely drinkable. Even with the awful water north of London in Hertfordshire my friends actually make the really strongly flavored and mineral laden water drinkable with a Brita filter pitcher. They have an excuse and they don't buy bottled water.

Thirty years ago, bottled water barely existed as a business in the United States. Last year, we spent more on Poland Spring, Fiji Water, Evian, Aquafina, and Dasani than we spent on iPods or movie tickets--$15 billion. It will be $16 billion this year.

The reality is, however, that bottled water is often simply an indulgence, and despite the stories we tell ourselves, it is not a benign indulgence. We're moving 1 billion bottles of water around a week in ships, trains, and trucks in the United States alone. That's a weekly convoy equivalent to 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water. (Water weighs 81/3 pounds a gallon. It's so heavy you can't fill an 18-wheeler with bottled water--you have to leave empty space.)

Now the big thing is water from Fiji and in Fiji, a state-of-the-art factory spins out more than a million bottles a day of the hippest bottled water on the U.S. market today, while more than half the people in Fiji do not even have safe, reliable drinking water. Which means it is easier for the typical American in Beverly Hills or Baltimore to get a drink of safe, pure, refreshing Fiji water than it is for most people in Fiji.

There is one other mark against bottled water... the bottles themselves. The big springwater companies tend to make their own bottles in their plants, just moments before they are filled with water--12, 19, 30 grams of molded plastic each. Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, 167 for each person. Durable, lightweight containers manufactured just to be discarded. Water bottles are made of totally recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, so we share responsibility for their impact: Our recycling rate for PET is only 23%, which means we pitch into landfills 38 billion water bottles a year--more than $1 billion worth of plastic.

It is my one of my resolutions for 07.07.07 that I will not buy any more bottled water. It is stupid and wasteful and not environmentally sound. Bottled water adds an unnecessary energy burden and we don't need it. I do recycle the empties but that is not good enough.

You can read more about the "water business" here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Blueberries For Sure

In case you haven't noticed blueberries are in season. We lost most of our local crop due to the late frost but there are nice supplies coming in from other places. I got two pounds yesterday for only $5.99 at Whole Foods. They were New Jersey grown. What did I do with two pounds of blueberries? I made a cobbler, of course, and was it ever good. Now I'll share the recipe.

This is a two phase recipe. First you need to get the blueberries cooking. You'll need a 9 inch deep glass or ceramic pie dish or an 8 inch square casserole. Put the rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat it to 375 degrees.

For the berries
6 cups (or 30 oz.) of fresh blueberries that you have washed and picked through. You'll find little stems on some of the berries so get all those off that you see.
In a mixing bowl add to the blueberries
1/2 cup of sugar
1 & 1/2 Tablespoons of corn starch
1 & 1/2 Teaspoons of grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
a pinch of cinnamon

Mix all of this together gently and pour it into your pie dish and put the dish on a lipped pan (pizza pan) and put this in the oven for a half hour or so until the berries start to bubble around the edges. you might want to stir the berries after about 20 minutes. The dish is going to pretty full to start but the berries will cook down a little.

For the topping I use a sweetened biscuit mixture. You have to do the wet and dry in two separate bowls and bring them together only when you are ready to put it on the berries.
Wet bowl- beat together
1/3 cup buttermilk
4 Tablespoons of melted unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Dry bowl - mix together
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of stone ground corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 Tsp kosher salt
1/4 Tsp baking soda
2 Tsp baking powder

When the berries are bubbling remove them from the oven and turn the oven up to 425 degrees. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and stir until they are mixed and there are no dry spots. Don't over mix or it will toughen the dough. When all mixed you should be able to divide the dough into 8 equal bits and gently shape each into a little cake about 1/2 inch thick (a little biscuit) the dough will be a little greasy with all the butter and it shouldn't stick to your hands. Put your little pieces of dough on top of the hot berries trying to leave at least a half inch between the pieces. I sometimes sprinkle the dough with a little sugar or cinnamon sugar. Put the dish back in the oven and 15 - 20 minutes later the biscuit topping should have browned nicely. Remove to a rack and let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Great with cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

PS. This will work for blackberries too and if you weren't so lazy you'd go out and pick you a quart and a half and have a cobbler for dinner.

It's Worse Than That

I am still cranked about the commuting of Scooter's sentence but in the grand scheme of things it is really not as bad as the other things Bush has done. It is just the freshest and we have become somewhat numbed by 6 years of bad news and worse news. In it's proper perspective the disaster is Iraq is much more appalling and has been daily for four years. The brutal deaths of 3,568 brave men and women and the disabling and injury of another 34,650. The hundreds of thousands Iraqi deaths and mortally wounded. The wiretapping and domestic spying. The shredding of habeas corpus. The torture and political prisoners. The scrapping of arms treaties and the Kyoto protocols. The rape of our forests and skies. Don't forget turning a surplus economy into one of crushing debt.

All these things are worse than Scooter getting out of serving jail time and they will haunt our lives and the world for decades and in many cases forever. Sure it was another slap in the face to the rule of law and the Constitution but just one of many. With tomorrow being the 4th of July we need to think about how the freedom and country we celebrate tomorrow can be returned to us.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Free Ride

Well, I was going to see if the world stopped in its tracks if I didn't post here for a day but that has been ruined by a shameful, self-serving event which will have long-term political ramifications for the Bush Administration. Bush has commuted Libby's sentence.

This is a commutation and not a pardon so Libby still has this on his record and he still has the quarter million dollar fine to pay but what they hay. This entire case — from the betrayal of Valerie Plame by her own government to the beginning of the investigation into the betrayal from a referral from the CIA…all the way through to the conviction Scooter Libby of multiple felony counts by a federal jury is a monument to the lies on which the invasion of Iraq rested. This is just another example of how far Bush and Cheney will go to cover those lies.

There is nothing that the Bush Cabal will not do to protect their own, whatever the cost may be in the long term to the public confidence in the rule of law. This is really an insult to those who worked so hard to see that the rule of law was paramount. The jury, the judge, Pat Fitzgerald all of them should be incensed that their hard work was wasted this way.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Live Earth Pledge

Al Gore has an op ed in today's New York Times. Read it.

It is estimated that over 2 billion people will watch Live Earth on 7.7.07. That's a quarter of the earth's population. You need to get involved as well.

Now if you haven't done so already then let me help you

Sign the 7.7.07 Live Earth Pledge:


The 7.7.07 Live Earth Pledge:


1. To demand that my country join an international treaty within the next 2 years that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy earth;

2. To take personal action to help solve the climate crisis by reducing my own CO2 pollution as much as I can and offsetting the rest to become "carbon neutral;"

3. To fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store the CO2;

4. To work for a dramatic increase in the energy efficiency of my home, workplace, school, place of worship, and means of transportation;

5. To fight for laws and policies that expand the use of renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on oil and coal;

6. To plant new trees and to join with others in preserving and protecting forests; and,

7. To buy from businesses and support leaders who share my commitment to solving the climate crisis and building a sustainable, just, and prosperous world for the 21st century.

Sign the Live Earth Pledge by visiting: