Friday, December 30, 2005
A week with Rootoukies
This warm weather we've been having on the mid atlantic coast is taking me out of the season. I come from the new england area. I like my Christmases cold. I haven't written a post in 10 days. I could say I've been reading not writing, but that's not best description. I've been writing like I've been reading and vica verca. Vaugley and unfocused, with an eye on the prerogatives of vacation, accomplishing nothing. I've been visiting the niece and nephews. My days are spent surrounded by Rootouki pellets, by which I mean Bionicle detritus. Entropy cuts a wide swath through the entire Lego world.
Bionicles or Biological Chronicle (
BIONICLE The Official Web Site) concern the Mata Nui's: Your Toa's, Visoraks, Rahi beasts, Roodaka, Keetongo. Rhotuka Spinners, kanoka discs, and a whole lot more. Bionicles, an outgrowth of the Technics line, are Legos with a back story. Trying to wrap my memory and tongue around these phrases my nephews were tossing over at my ears. I began to refer to them all as Rapanuies. "Isn't that Easter island?" my sister said. So I switched to Rootoukies. Easter Island; though, is exactly where all these critters come from. All this back story is cribbed from Maori and Polynesian (Easter island) mythology:
Bionicle - Wikipedia. So much so that the CEO of Lego once made a trip out to Auckland with a big wad of cash, which he had to hand over to a group of Maori who were disturbed that Lego was trying to brand and trademark significant words in the Maori language. Wikipedia has links to two BBC stories from 2001 outline how Lego re-leased Tohuga back to the Maori people
BBC News | ASIA-PACIFIC | Lego game irks Maoris and
BBC News | ASIA-PACIFIC | Lego agrees to stop using Maori names.
Before learning this I had been trying to imagine how the Lego people came up with all this. I had conjectured that that they had some poor wretch with a comparative literature degree chained to a desk in a windowless room somewhere in Denmark with only used paperbacks of Hesiod, Frazer and some Pink Fairies albums (or Hawkwind) as company.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I wrote a post
Green China several months ago around a Christian Science Monitor article on what appeared to be a genuine environmental initiative: A move to assess a large number of energy projects for their environmental impact. This and the various arguments and commentary outlined in the article seemed consistent with the sector transitions of an industrialized society. Some of the ways this manifests itself include greater awareness of the sources of the epidemiological threats to personal and family health. As well a greater awareness of the existence of these threats in the industrialized landscape. A greater per capita wealth and increased availability of work exists that mitigates the need to engage in a previous generation's tradeoffs and compromises. China of this current generation is a significantly more educated and more informed society.
What meaning can be ascribed to the serious events surrounding the Benzene spill in the Songhua River
Chinese toxic spill official found hanged - Times Online . To bring it to a focused if oversimplified question: does it represent the greening or the graying of China? Will democratic environmental awareness become a political force in China or will the people continue to be subordinate to industrial progress? Here it matters little if it is done in the name of state enterprise or private enterprise.
A brief chronology of events. The Benzene spill occurs 13 Nov 05 after an explosion in a processing tower in Jinin. The spill plume arrives at Harbin about a week later. Word Leaks out on computer message boards, telephone, word-of-mouth, and becomes general knowledge circa 21 Nov 05. At this time there is an absence of official notification from provincial Government. When it becomes clear to officials the Benzene will contaminate the water supply water is shut off in Harbin, capital of Heilingjiang Provence. The Government makes a formal disclosure at this time 23 Nov 05., and responds with water trucks. Amid officious pronouncements that everything was under control, there are calls for investigation of the spill and its aftermath. The senior manager and others at Petrochemical China are removed from their posts. The Chinese 'EPA' head resigns. The director of the state agency of worker safety warns that false information provided in course of investigation will be prosecuted.
"Any move trying to cover up the cause of the accident and any passive attitude toward the probe are deemed deception and a defiance of law."--
China warns of Harbin penalties - Asia - Pacific - International Herald Tribune. On 07 December Wang Wei, the Vice Mayor of Jilin was found hanged in his home. (This is the point where I began to save and fully read articles on this). With the toxic plume continuing to spread down river approaching the border with Russia and the point where it will become an international incident
Chinese pursue suit as toxic slick reaches Russia, a group of Harbin businessmen form a lawsuit
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Businessmen sue over Chinese leak.
The way it seems to be playing out is with considerable openness, adequate if not abundant information, and calls for accountability. On the other hand; is it being allowed to expand without impediment to better facilitate a latter deflation and whitewash? Is the Chinese press covering this as studiously as the foreign press. How transparently is foreign press coverage getting back into China. This quote from the London times article indicates it is being covered
"The death of Wang follows the sacking of at least three managers in the China National Petroleum Corporation, which runs the chemical plant. Last week, the head of China's environmental agency also resigned over the accident, which has attracted unusually critical coverage in China's state-owned media."
A MetaFilter thread on this last month contained comment from a westerner living in China indicating that information was generally available through informal channels in Harbin 24 hours after the spill.
The apparent suicide of the vice mayor of Harbin is an indicator not only that it is being taken seriously, but that it is even a matter of career ending - life ending shame. Which it can be only if environmental damage of this magnitude is already understood to be beyond the realm of acceptable industrialization.
One key to possible outcomes from this is in this last event; the lawsuit against Petro-China the state owned company responsible for the original spill. The articles that mention this note its unprecedented nature so much so that the government seems unsure how to respond to it. Allowing this to be (one of) the mechanisms - the process by which settlements are apportioned will certainly chart new territory in Chinese culture if it goes through. A additional toxic spill in southern China also seems to be getting prominent media treatment
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Toxic spill in second China river.At the same time there are reports in todays news that the Chinese government has responded to the recent series of mining disasters with mass firings of upper level managers. This while still a positive move is an example of more comfortable and less forward approaches. The possible roads to justice or redress of wrong are Administrative Law, bureaucratically adjudicated; Criminal Law by statute, and civil law. Only when the latter and due process of the law is followed does any of it exist.
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Sunday, December 18, 2005
I got a call from my sister, giving me a heads-up on a documentary that was being shown on a local PBS station. The film is called "Three faiths One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam". The film is a testament to cross cultural understanding and continuity
Documentary Explores Similarities and Differences of Three Major Religions, so if that sort of thing bothers you then this post is probably not for you. Really this whole web log may not be for you. It is a long documentary - two hours - but most of last half hour was shot in our church (First Church UCC, Washington DC). John and Barbara, our ministers, both have short interviews.
That was not the (entire) reason for the call. Rather it was that the cousins are in it. When my younger sister and I say "the cousins" we mean by that our niece and nephew, who are her two boys cousins, its simpler that way. Nicole is featured in several shots and gets actual talking parts, along with Emily M., being the oldest of the kids there. My nephew Lucas is also in several shots. He is also in the photograph in the 15 Dec (Th.) Washington Post tv section listing of the program. In one pan you can see my sister, Ann. This was filmed two years ago. I vaguely remember this happening, and attaching little significance to it at the time. No telling where I was that Sunday. It was funny seeing the younger versions of Nicole and Lou.
In this particular segment of the film the Imam Yahya Hendi, a prominent local preacher, came to our church to deliver a guest sermon. Hendi is a Chaplin at Georgetown University and the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. In preparation for this Imam Hendi led the Sunday school children through the daily ritual prayers
Salah - Wikipedia, one of the five pillars of Islam
Five Pillars of Islam - Wikipedia. Glancing through the paper I saw the Washington Post has a good feature article on Hendi
Muslim Leader Forges Interfaith Accord in Sunday's paper.
To all the people irate over my having used wikipedia links in this post or that I named it after an old Joy Division song: sorry.
11:56:43 PM ;;
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Herndon's day without a Mexican.
Immigration has come barreling back into the national agenda. At the
end of last month President Bush gave a policy speech at Davis-Monthan
AFB that laid out his current thinking on this
President Renews His Campaign to Overhaul Policies on Immigration.
I think the White house has been willing to avoid this issue since his
last proffered initiative on immigration. Now an Immigration bill is
winding it way out of congress
Immigration Pushes Apart GOP, Chamber. Everyone who has something to say now must say it
Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg Columnists.
A brief check through the news coverage I made earlier (Google_news:
using the string Immigration + policy or speech or bill) show this to
be a regional issue
'Return every illegal entrant we catch' | www.azstarnet.com ® and patchwork at that in its treatment
HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE - Conservative News, Views & Books.
What set me off was a news piece that ran on the 13th and 14th
on the radio. Local news segment during NPR's morning
edition Herndon, Virginia's Minutemen
December 14, 2005, Bill Redlin, WAMU
. A Minuteman group is photographing the license plates of trucks
picking workers up from the Herndon Virginia labor pick-up site to give
to police and IRS. This is the official worker pick-up site
Herndon built which made the national media briefly last summer
Day-Labor Centers Spark Immigration Debate when
the the city of Herndon was first forming the idea for the center
(which made its vote and did open). So these gentlemen will sit out
there all day long and take pictures, but it doesn't occur to them to take
those jobs. That, by some calculation they possess, is not the best use
of their time. Latter in the broadcast the spokesman of the Herndon
Urban Minutemen came on to give their view, , (I'm hoping this
one link has the whole story). He admits he is explicitly attacking the
contractors, and tangentially intimidating the workers. For this he
referred to their being exploited "working below minimum wage", hastily
corrected within the same-breath to "working below the prevailing wage"
as his half thought out free-market ideology caught up with him. This
is just it, they are working for the prevailing wage. They work for the
wage American contractors would desire to pay American workers, If all
latin american workers were chased away. What is the motivation
of the Urban minutemen for desiring essentially regulation (how true
free-marketeers like to refer to law as) to affect this.
In the closer corner of my daily world I recall a movie
A Day Without a Mexican (2004)
that came through the University earlier this fall. Set in California
it is a tongue in cheek look at what would happen if all our favorite
day labors suddenly were no longer there. In my neighborhood about
three block up the street there is a well used informal pick-up site by
a 7-11 Google Local - New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20903
(white roofed bulding next to a red roofed bulding which is a pizza hut
. I wonder how long it will be before we get our own complement of Jr.
G-men to lurk about and report in on it.
Steering this back to the whole, there was a good article in
last Sundays Washington Post outlook section Who's trying to cross our southern border? Everyone. There is a message in
there for all those that protest that Mexico is writing our immigration
policy - in efforts to deal with national and transnational migrations
Mexico may have a voice
Mexican official calls House immigration bill 'wrong,' calls for ...
and there be diplomatic quid pro quo's to that effect - that fall short
of conspiracy. In the academic sort of books I see - in my job as
a cataloging clerk - the phrase migration crops up on covers often. If
you use the phrase immigration it almost makes it a matter of
individuals - something you could stop. With borders, checkpoints,
policy, and cards of color. Migration is another level of abstraction,
a movement of peoples. Beyond the reach even of princes. Something that
happens in the course of human events, inevitable. Something that not
with your guns, your fences or your cameras you are going to change. As
well there will come a day when Americans will not want the southern
wall to be so high and so well guarded. The day they want to pass
through it, to get to jobs on the other side. That day will come.
11:56:18 PM ;;
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Whole step forward, an interval of a second back
I read a post up on Dim Sum Diaries.
I suppose this was a week or more ago. She (Mir) was trying
to answer a question on music scales for her daughter, and realized
she couldn't. I can relate to that. My niece Nicole takes piano
lessons, her brother recently traded in violin lessons for drum lessons
from somebody named Sven, and persuded his father to pop for a drum
kit, sweet. My other nephew now wants to take bongo lessons not guitar
lessons. Is there such a thing as bongo lessons? None of them ask me music questions. I never took music
lessons on any instrument as a kid. I was
considered 'unmusical.' Years later in college when I bought my friend
Nancy [Micaela]'s guitar so she could pay her campus parking fines and
register for classes I discovered not knowing anything about music was
somewhat of a drawback. I thought of this little thing I made for
myself and my guitar (a kramer acoustic-electric hollow body) back then
so I could try to figure out what key I might be playing in. It was
never that clear, but I still use it anyway. For some reason I can't
find that post of Mir's now or I would link it. Maybe I'm losing my
Take a 4x6 index card and fold it in half. Take a piece of
graph paper the same size as the folded index card. Along the middle
rows write out the chromatic scale, you have to write the half steps as
flats or sharps. Write it out two or so times across the sheet.
Do this again below skipping a row between. I do one for the major
scale with a minor scale below it. Take an ordinary one hole punch and
punch out holes that will line up with the scales in the form
[whole-step, whole-step, half-step, whole-step, whole-step, whole-step]
for the major scale and [w-h-w-w-h-w+h] for the minor scale
respectively. Each individual box on the graph paper is a half
step - so you simply skip a box for the whole steps. You can label the
holes for their place in the scale Tonic, Subtonic third forth fifth
supertonic etc if you want. Then you slide the graph paper back and for
to read the vairous keys. I drew the circle of perfect fifths
on the back. For extra credit you can make another for the other
Then I got to thinking, I did this in the days back before
they invented computers. Now there must be java applets all over the
web that do this for you; and there are: The Scale Cruncher!, and others that test you on key signatures eMusicTheory.com practice and the like. I feel superseded.
9:23:34 PM ;;
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Place of Origin
I am sensitive to how well the war in Iraq plays out. How it
will impact on American influence and prestige. On America's moral
authority. Not that that rests on Iraq entirely or even the middle east. I
hear the criticism - of the criticisms. I take them seriously, even as
I don't take their messengers seriously. We went into Iraq on a bizzare
enterprise of dubious provence. We broke the Iraq that existed unveiled
a model of a new Iraq and forced people to take sides. That places an
obligation on us. Some take that obligation as justifying the whole. That
if the current objective is right then criticizing any part of it is
wrong, that it weakens the effort. A line the administration and its
supporters suggest: that the fortunes of this state impeded allows the
use of anything to contain any perceived threat. That no further
legitimacy is needed than this need and the power to compel it by force.
Also that however and wherever our soldiers stand. Standing behind
them, supporting them, requires we acquiesce to, even explicity sign on
to the policies of current administration.
I feel a pang of conscience for how the Vietnam war ended. It
did not end well. I remember thinking that at the time. I should not
like to see South Vietnams fate replicated in Iraq. I don't want us to
hold on through another U S election cycle then back out leaving the
government in Iraq to be cut to shreds by baathist's and theocrats.
This sense has been sharpened by knowing my friend Tran, my smart and
lovely friend Tran, these last few years. She remembers the end of the
war too, her family was ordered out of their home in Saigon back to to
her fathers town of origin. She grew up in a system that never stopped
telling her that families like hers were bad people possibly in need of
comprehensive "re-education". She of course was a wee tiny little
thing back then.
I am very aware that in her view of things republicans are the
defenders of freedom, undercut by the weak willed democrats, who would
then be its enemies. This is an oversimplification. But you can't help
how you feel. I believe one of the first things she did as an American citizen
is join the republican party.
Tran's Vietnam is the original Vietnam, the decisions of
those days still live in some lives. I see the example of her life
cutting across this debate both ways. On one hand Vietnam exists as a
stark example of a shameful broken trust. On the other the quality of
living in Vietnam after armed re-unification, should be a retort to
rallying in on a simplistic patriotism: "My country right or wrong."
"[Country x] love it or leave it, ingrate." Calls for automatic and
uncritical support for the designs of the few or even of the many (I
know of no "peoples" government which actually consist of the many, but
either way...) beacuse anything less than a guarded unaniminity is a
threat, ought to be brushed off and ignored.
The fall of South Vietnam left the Catholic and American
associated populace locked out of the prevailing culture. Patriotism
belonged to the Viet minh. Nothing to the rest. Tran could not
rationalize her countries behavior. Equate it with right exercise of
power. Could not justify its ways and allotment of privilege. Could not
accord it legitimacy. She became unreconcilably alienated from it. The
part of her family that stayed, learned that when the government knows
your have relatives in the west you cannot get work. They essentially
force the family to remit the livehood of those remaining. A few
weeks ago she was part of a group that stood downtown in a cold
November rain to protest a group from Vietnam that was in the U S
raising money for Vietnamese victims of Katrina. They had no use for
Hanoi's hypocritic grandstanding - no common cause - and were inclined
to say so. They wanted the delegation out of the country.
Leaving her homeland can be read as an explicit admission
that home, home being land plus a people and how they live on it, is
not the ultimate depositary of truth and feeling. The emigrants of this
world for better or worse in the slender baggage of their motavation,
show by getting up and walking away from a place, their place, a desire
for greater justice than coercion and mere order. Greater autonomy than
11:41:44 PM ;;
Monday, December 5, 2005
Wasting time with Satellite Google: Ra5c edition
This is a follow on to the last post because I forgot to include it
even though I had the idea in mind earlier that day. I was using google
earth to look at an airplane mothball
site in Arizona a few weeks ago and had noted a Ra5c on the ground.
Over the week end after I remembered I had forgotten to include this. I
used google local (formerly google map - Google Earth doesn't
come in Macintosh flavor) on a dial-up connection to try to find it
again. I would not recommend this approach. I did find it; though, and
today over lunch I set about filling in some detail. I'm all about
Google Local - TUCSON - Davis Monthan AFB + AMRC
you will see a facility called the Aerospace Maintenance and
Rehabilitation Center (AMRC). Part of Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson
Arizona. There is a Ra5C down there somewhere. I should offer a prize
or something if anyone can actually find it. To be fair I suspected when I first saw it that it was part of
an off-base facility - there are many private scrapyards ajoining the
base, but this didn't seem to be a scrapyard
Google Local - TUCSON Pima Air musuem . It is in fact the Pima Aerospace Museum and they do have a vigi in their collection
AAF/PASM: North American RA-5C (A3J-3P) Vigilante. If you crank google down to the smallest possible scale
Google Local - TUCSON Pima Air Museum - Detail you should be able to see it. This web site
Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona (Global Security.Org) gives some background on AMRC at Davis Monthan.
11:50:02 PM ;;
Thursday, December 1, 2005
My version of that smashing pumpkins' song
A minor change from the usual. I still get a lot of hits from people
looking for Ra5c Vigilantes. Unfourtunetly I haven't scanned any
additional pictures since my ancient iMac died and my scanner became
its attendant paperweight. I should just go out and get a new scanner,
but I'm stubborn. The old scanner still works I just need it to work
with OS X. I haven't put any photographs up on this web log since I
started to have to sFTP everything up to the server by hand, back in
August. I hadn't wanted to deal with sorting out Radio web logs way of
dealing with pictures [post - posting analysis: awkward but managable].
In the meantime this is among the last of the photo's I
scanned previously. There are no Ra5cs here, three members of a Ra5c
this picture is my friend Mark Edmunds who I have written of
previously. Yes he is an actual person. He is the person in this
photograph who most looks like he belongs where he is. And he was. I am
in this picture too. I'm the person who least looks like he belongs
there, yet I did belong - more so than some of the others in this
picture. The assembly here was all the junior enlisted people in our
unit. This was on the USS Ranger CV 61. No Officers no Chiefs no First
Class petty officers. An assortment of ratings are included: DPs
Photographer Mates, Draftsmen, ISs, possibly a Sonar Tech or two.
11:53:35 PM ;;