Thursday, June 30, 2005

Fang

So we moved our stuff back into the apartment today. Sarah took Halle and went to work and I drove to the Library. Sarah brought Halle back later in the afternoon. The Gas Company had arrived by then. The two gas guys and the Landlord went around and lit all the pilot lights.

We the three of them came into the apartment, Halle had a shitfit. She was barking and growling and making a fuss. Sarah sat down with Halle on the couch to comfort her and get her to shut up. Silly dog. Halle kept growling but stopped barking.

One of the burly utility workers asked Sarah to take Halle in the other room. She rolled her eyes at him. Give me a break....

He didn't ask for her to be removed again, but he referred to her as Fang as he left.

Heh. Irony.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Fumes

Our building is being fumigated as I write this. The last week has been a blur of cleaning and packing. Our landlord is putting us up in a pretty nice place, but he did not agree to put us up the night before the fumigation... The hotel did agree to let me check in early, but wouldn't confirm until that morning. Which made my life a living hell. But what's life without a few clusterfucks?

Luckily my employer is really cool and very flexible and it didn't end up interfering with my workload at all, but the whole affair pisses me off.

The dog had surgery last week to remove some not-very-suspicious lumps and they also operated on a mass in her mouth. She's recovering really well and should get her stitches out on Friday.

Yesterday I was running on adrenaline and rage mostly, but now I'm just feeling tired.

Update: Halle's tumors are all benign.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Disaster Theme Parks

There was a 4.9 magnitude earthquake this past week here in LA.

I feel almost cheated that I missed it. I was so busy running my lips and pacing around that I didn't even notice it. Perhaps the big one is coming, though and I'll get an experience I'll never forget. Dan Glaister put it this way:


One thing they agree on is that earthquakes tend to come in clusters: a busy period of seismic activity often follows a quiet period.

The day after the Yucaipa shock last week, a handy flyer dropped into my letterbox. Looking like one of the glossy real-estate entreaties that arrive each day, this one was from the California Earthquake Authority and bore its sunny slogan: "Every day is earthquake season in California."

Perhaps that's the future of this place, a disaster theme park, complete with landslides, earthquakes, drought, tsunamis, and epic gridlock. |Link|

We don't need no stinking exit strategy

Rory Carroll reports on a bold attack by the Iraqi resistance on a Baghdad police station this Monday.

The combination of heavy shelling, diversionary feints, infantry thrusts and suicide vehicles - the "precision-guided" equivalent of tanks - left parts of the district of Hi al-Elam a smoking ruin. If the objective was to overrun the station and free its prisoners the offensive failed. The attackers retreated after two hours, leaving dozens dead and captured. But if the objective was to send a message of power and determination it succeeded.|Link|
The comparison between tanks and suicide car bombs is intriguing in a morbid way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Librarians for Liberty

Everyone likes librarians. Except for a select group from the fascist wing of the Republican party. Library Rakehell over at Bookslut has some perspective on this.

There is a bitter twist in all this librarian hatred. Librarians are all for freedom of expression no matter what is being said. A good library has Bill O’Reilly’s latest screed in its collection along with Al Franken’s histrionics. Michael Moore’s bombast should be as readily available as any Nazi propaganda film. There is an equality of ideas, good and bad, within a library. Librarians don’t agree with everything on their shelves. I hate a great many of the books that I hand out to patrons every day. A child photocopying pages out of a book on the Rwandan genocide and laughing with his friends about this is appalling to me, but he has the right to be a complete twit.

Anyone who hates a librarian simply for their profession should be immediately suspect no matter their political orientation. Opposition to libraries is opposition to an informed populace.|Link|
The Christian Science Monitor has a new editorial suggesting that librarians are performing a valuable public service by requesting checks and balances on governmental intrusions into the public's reading habits.

Go team!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Song on the End of the World

Mark Danner has a commencement address he delivered this May on his website. He deals with many of the topics I discuss on my blog such as torture, mass murder, and the lack of accountability in America today. But he also has a little inspirational poem at the end.

A SONG ON THE END OF THE WORLD
[by Czeslaw Milosz]

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in
the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels' trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he's much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his
tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

"There will be no other end of the world." I should add that there are two words at the end of the poem, a place and a date. Czeslaw wrote that poem in Warsaw in 1944.
I can only imagine how those young English graduates felt after sitting through Professor Danner's speech. If it wasn't clear to them before, I think the speech serves to illustrate that this is our world and we are responsible for it. Responsible for the torture committed in our names. Go read the whole thing if you've time.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Word of the Day: Bellwether

1. The leading sheep of a flock, on whose neck a bell is hung.

2. [Figuratively] A chief or leader. (Mostly contemptuous.)

3. [Figuartively] a. A clamorous person, one ready to give mouth. b. (Used opprobriously [i.e. in an insulting or contempuous manner])

Hence bell-wethering, the fact of leading and being led ‘like sheep.’ bell-wetherishness, tendency to follow one who takes the lead.

[E.g.] 1882 Spectator 25 Mar. [page 387] The gregariousness, and bell-wetherishness of the English people, who must all do the same thing at once.

Source: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Ed., 1989

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Another American for Impeaching Bush

It took me a while, but I've managed to get over the election of 2000.

I still don't like this administration or many of its policies.

A newly leaked memo shows that the current administration is doing its best to torpedo Tony Blair's global warming initiative.

Politics of Dissent declares that Bush should be impeached for his crimes leading up to the Invasion of Iraq. [Thanks to Sarah for the link.] [Reprinted by Common Dreams]

The Downing Street Memo is pretty damning evidence of a wholesale disregard for the truth. See Salon's article by David Paul Kuhn as well. [Reprinted by the Guardian]

I would add an article of impeachment against Bush for authorizing torture.

But lying about global warming is probably the worst of the three.

Poisoning the environment and ignoring the threat posed by rapid climate change is a crime against humanity in my book.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Safety Tip # 312

Never run with a knife. Unless you are engaged in Close Quarters Battle (CQB), in which case running with a knife and a pistol is deemed appropriate.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Brin on Frist

David Brin has a blog to go with his website now.

I like his take on Bill Frist's recent speech on the dangers of pandemics.

Read Sen. Frist's speech. You'll find that you agree with more than 90% of what he says in this piece. Despite the "culture war", there is a lot of shared moral consensus. So how can we be far apart?

Well, for one thing, he never mentions other parts of his agenda, so let me spend just one paragraph addressing those ghosts at the banquet, before going back to what's actually in his speech.

Take, for starters, a value system that begins by defining his opponents as baby killers, thus ensuring that, no matter how much good they have done in the world - civil rights and all that - Jesus will never like them. Then there is the ritual debasement of words like "freedom," "patriotism" and "free enterprise" so that - purified of any context, they can serve as amulet-totems of just one political faction. (Implying that opponents must hate them.) Add to this a clear insistence that market capitalism is best operated not by small business, but by an elite aristocracy, freed of all accountability. Also, a belief that Planet Earth is just a temporary, expendable stage set for a scripted apocalyptic play that will soon draw to a close. (And that's a goooood thing).

(In fairness, Frist would surely dislike the way that I described these views, though it's all pretty much on target.)|Link|

Marines abuse U.S. security contractors

Tom Regan's article in the Christian Science Monitor covers claims by 16 American security contractors that they were physically and emotionally abused by U.S. Marines. The article also discusses how the Iraqi authorities are trying to clamp down on the contractors, who they claim kill a dozen Iraqi civilians per week.

It just goes to prove that Wreckage begins with Dubya.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

90% of terrorist trials fail

What a marvelous victory Bush is having over the enemies of the state. Gary Younge explains why we so desparately need to expand the Patriot Act. Heil Bush.

Take the red pill

Gary Younge has an excellent column in the Guardian today.

Selected Quote:

Take the red pill and you are forced to recognise that now is not its own abstract point in time - it is shaped by what has gone before, and will shape what comes after. The rabbit hole of America's racist history goes deep. Follow it far enough and it will take you from death row all the way to the voting booths of Florida....

"Race is not an issue now for younger people," says Jim Prince, the editor of the Neshoba Democrat. "Today, if you're willing to work hard and be honest then you're able to succeed. There is equal opportunity in Philadelphia." If Prince is right, then the poverty, low levels of educational achievement, unemployment and high prison rates among blacks, not just in Philadelphia but elsewhere in the state and the country, can only be explained by black people's genetic inability or inherent unwillingness to seize those opportunities.

Such selective amnesia is not confined to the south or to segregation.
The war on terror is being fought with convenient disregard for the fact that the terrorists the US is fighting today it armed only yesterday, and that among its allies today are vicious dictators that it will undoubtedly attack tomorrow. Nor is it confined to the US. The whole debate around debt relief in the UK takes place as though Britain had no responsibility for the state that Africa is in today.

Those who lambast Africa for its rampant corruption and poor governance forget that most of these dictators have been knowingly propped up by the west. They lecture Africa on the need for democracy apparently unaware that the continent only got a shot at democracy once Europeans left. (emphasis added)|Link|

Friday, June 10, 2005

Finals Week

Regular readers will have noticed that blogging has been light to non-existent the past couple of weeks. I'd like to say that I've been too busy to blog because it's spring and I've been out hiking and camping every weekend...but instead I've been taking classes and working at the UCLA Law Library. I do enjoy the library most days, but it's still a job and wears me out at the end of the week.

At least I have the weekends off during the summer. But this weekend I will be working on final projects for my database management class and my user-interface design class. So check back in the future for more on Safety Neal's academic adventure.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

But he hadn't broken any law

You'd think that after all of the recent attention paid to securing the U.S. border against terrorists that the Department of Homeland Security would stop anyone trying to enter the country with several weapons including a bloody chainsaw.

But you'd be wrong.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Evidence of Serbian Genocide in the Hague

A morbid videotape of the execution of Muslims by a Serbian military unit known as the Scorpions has been made public as evidence in the genocide trial of Slobodan Milosevic.

The tape is also the 'smoking gun', for it is the final, incontrovertible proof of Serbia's part in the Srebrenica massacres in which more than 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered. Until last week Serbian officials, both from the wartime regime of Slobodan Milosevic and since his fall in 2000, have argued that Serbia was not involved with the massacres. Now, the tape proves that to have been a lie. |Link|

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Cowards and despots in the White House

So I saw a bit on CNN about the confirmed abuse of Qur'ans last night after work while flipping through the channels. No big surprise there.

But only today did realize how cowardly the Bushies were in how they timed the press conference.

The findings, released after normal business hours Friday evening and after the major TV networks had aired their evening news programs, are among the results of an investigation last month by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the commander of the detention center in Cuba. A Newsweek magazine report - later retracted - that a U.S. soldier had flushed one Guantanamo Bay detainee's Quran down a toilet triggered the investigation. (emphasis added) |Link|
You can't pull stupid stunts like this without expecting me to heap scorn and abuse at your doorstep.

My respect for this administration is already rock bottom. I love how the U.S.'s glorious crusade for democracy in the Middle East is the fallback story for an invasion sold upon the world stage with lies about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

While I respect the office of the Presidency and think the U.S. government is (by and large) a good thing, I think this administration has no honor at all. This administration has shown itself time and again to be immoral, avaricious and deceitful.

If we must have a government, at least let us strive to have a government that is transparent, basically honest and has at least a vestige of respect for human dignity. I do want a strong defense and a healthy economy. But I do not believe for one second that these goals are incompatible with transparency, honor, and vigorous diplomacy.

Impeach Bush.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Working for the Weekend

It's Friday and Sarah comes home today. I'm off in a bit to pick her (and her new assistant) up at the fabulous Burbank airport. My advisor is throwing a dinner party tomorrow night and maybe we'll go check out the Long Beach Aquarium on Sunday. At some point I should really work on my final projects.....but what fun is that?