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Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Dunking Stool

I wanted to say something about the Vice President and his "dunk in the water" comment from last week. Because it was such a strange comment it throws a stark light on this rhetoric and the thinking behind it. What he said was: "Well, it's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said, "but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in." Cheney's Remarks Fuel Torture Debate - He was giving a radio interview in Fargo ND with Scott Hennen and the question and phrasing were Mr. Hennen's. Mr. Cheney could respond naturally and without questioning the term, while later claiming to have no idea what it meant. Oh I thought we were talking about ways of making coffee, that's what I meant by all those later references to "the French Press." Dunk or Drip there are only two main ways water is used in in question or confessional: actual drowning or simulated drowning for psychological torture. Both of which are technically understood to be out-of-bounds Cheney's Remarks Fuel Torture Debate - Baptism, metaphorically hung between 'washing away sin', and 'drowning out the devil' will not directly considered today. Tarwater is standing by.

The real key here was not what was meant by 'a dunk in the water', but what is a No Brainer? What Was Cheney Thinking? Don't think, but react: emotionally, viscerally, thoughtlessly to our rhetoric, our coded wink and nods. Take one of these sticks from the tied bundle here, and give the prisoner a good thrashing with it, you'll feel better. When you have rationalized things to where water-boarding is an acceptable technique. Where what you are getting from the performance, information or whatever, is more important than the clay beneath your fingers. That is the tipping point - the point where your feet are no longer on the slippery slope of argument, but gallows' trap door and the necktie the devil sold you is a rope, and he is still holding one end.

John Yoo currently professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, former deputy assistant attorney general in the Bush administration was on the Diane Rhem show last week The Legal Framework for the War on Terrorism. Yoo is a smart guy, smart enough to know he isn't stating the complete story. In the portion of the discussion devoted to the status and disposition of our prisoners in the Global war on Terrorism - those encountered on the "battlefield." The encountered being anyone capable of being a non-American interest, or supporting non-American interests in the zone. The zone roughly equating to Tom Barrnett's non-integrating gap (see The Pentagon's new map and Blueprint for action). Probably not more than half the worlds population. When he speaks he takes pains to set what he says against the state of war we are in, undeclared as it may be. He will say something there to the end that it is no longer fashionable or necessary to formerly declare war to reap all its benefits. I am greatly suspicious of these wars. Eternal wars cast suggestively to speak to long term internal needs.

What is being talked about are Rights. The possession of rights by individuals. About due process, the rule of law, the expectation that the coercive power of the state conduct itself legitimately. Those who find easy to give up or turn in rights probably do not truly believe they really are (they may be mistaken). It will supported in general, abstractly, for other people for whom it will be widely known it is really directed, others. Those on the other side of the line between us and them (and those of us perceived 'them-wise'). Part of what provides caution here is that generally conservatives have held considerable stock in the notion of Natural Rights, based on natural law, engendering a social compact in accordance with human nature. These are universal extensible rights, innately held by dint of our humanity - our God-given humanity, our collective humanity. Why we had them, even when kings say we didn't. Or manufactured rights, security, The freedom from unreasonble search and seizure, by station by power alone, resting easily with arbitrary and inconsistent application. Artificially held and bestowed, as a gift to a favored class or individuals by a regime.

Much turns on what sort of age we see ourselves living in. An age of Extraordinary Peril. It must be a greater peril than since the dawn of the enlightenment, if not from Pericles time for the fear they wish to live with. We must be engaged in an annihilating struggle not just a greed feud among regional governing elites. Otherwise with whatever weapons we have invented it will be a matter of management, examining the type and level-of-detail of threat, and assigning a containing risk assessment for given behaviors. This is the Human Condition. The way of tribes, states, wealth and borders, for all of these there have always been enemies, rivals, transgression, and low level mortal violence. Occasionally breaking into overt war, but never ceasing. The American Experiment is that we would govern ourselves freely anyway. Leaving the false safety and order of closed and secret government by private committee.

I wouldn't mention any of this except for the suggestion that was made: Bush Says 'America Loses' Under Democrats - No, just no. However that was supposed to be understood; no! The ugliness and negativism of this political season will linger, Globe and Mail: U.S. attack ads 'astonishingly negative'. John Kerry's remarks, which I'm sure he wishes he had phrased tighter about the presidents head, had the looseness of a Freudian slip. He can sit down now. I don't know what the President's excuse is. For the rest: if Ken Mehlman has to step down as head of the RNC or Karl Rove his job, after this election. I'm sure either could quickly step into good positions over at the Klan.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Cake or Death.

Pete and Repeat. Pete and Repete were sitting on a fence, Pete fell off. Who was left? Repete. ?...! Pete and Repete were sitting on a fence...

Now that its October. WFMU comes out with its fall schedule. Though I had been warned it was going away, I still find I miss the Intelligent Design show on Wednesday afternoons hosted by KennyG. I may be the only one. While KG is off on this radio sabbatical, I figured maybe this is the time to take a moment to figure out who this guy is. A man who would talk-sing Sun Tzu over Ravel. Play all of Budwisers pseudo-ironic Ordinary Heroes ad campaign back to back, and unleash cake-a-thon on the world. He is Kenneth Goldsmith and he is a poet. A former text-based sculptor. I suppose those may seem similar, but I recall in the recesses of a folded and forgotten past being tasked to read portions of Gottfried Lessing's Laccoon. I will etch my thoughts upon an egg - with a laser beam (that's how its done) and this will lend them considerable shape and drama. I will answer to the authorities for this when they come. It's not the plastic arts I fear so much or particularly, as much as all the polymer based arts.

I had KennyG pegged as a performance artist, of some sort. I'd like to think I wasn't far off. He's about my age too. This doesn't surprise me, it's been easier than it ought to be understanding what he does. He knew who David Grubbs was. Not just the guitarist for Bastro - I saw Bastro play once - this guy I knew, Mark Robinson, played with them on that occasion I believe. Grubbs was taking classes at Georgetown then. More specifically Kenneth knew (or was able to determine) Dave Grubbs was before that guitarist for Squirrel Bait. Hammering so hard. He was airing a recent recording of Grubbs playing a John Cage piece, Variations, I believe. Ken on his weekly radio show demonstrated a fascination for word play maybe more soundplay, he is, I see, a sound poet. Manipulations of the human mouth, dipthongs and frictives and all things labeled labial. Particularly leaning towards the grand gesture, the tour de force. What Helios Creed, I'm sure, would consider half-machine lip moves. Or is it Rich Meltzer I'm thinking of.

There are two simple roads into the public realm of Kenneth Goldsmith poet etc. You can follow the trial from WFMU's pages visit his archive and station home page Kenny G's WFMU Homepage, or the nearly parallel route of the page for him on Wikipedia Kenneth Goldsmith - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Either way you end up at Ubuweb, the EPC site, and Pennsound which are all full of things to consider. He's not just a poet of the internets either, he's published. Things with ISBN numbers, covers, pages. Material objects imprinted with symbols, such as commas and the like. In a short investigation I was able to discover that he is in a book housed in McKeldin Library where I work john cage uncaged is still cagey. The book has resided there for several months. He seems to have contributed the jacket blurb, introduction, and a poem to this book. It would be nice to be a published writer but if I did that and someone accidentally paid me for it I would have to turn this web log over to a continuous series of photographs of me attaching barcodes to library books. Avocation is irreducible.

The Dark and Stormy Night. It was a dark and stormy night. Three guys were sitting around the campfire. "one of them said. 'Tell us a story, Jack'". "Allright. It was a dark and stormy night. Three men were sitting around a campfire..."

Cake or death which I titled this post is a line from the British comedian Eddie Izzard. I suppose I'll take cake. If the choice is cake or death, then I love cake. Eddie Izzard I've read is a fan of the Goon show, Bluebottle and the rest. Maybe someday I'll take a moment to come back and explain why Dartmoor prison today is a mere replica of its former self. But for now remember "If it doesn't exist on the internet it doesn't exist."

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Monday, October 23, 2006
It's Alive...sort of.

Presently I feel like Dr. Frankenstein at a moment just after the final tightening of all visible bolts screws and sutures, and just prior to the lightning storm which will give the necessary electrical energy to make his creature sit up and allow him to exclaim: " It's Alive."

My new MacBook has arrived. I have transferred the files from the iBook to it. It reboots without crashing, the Wifi card works, the (external) modem works. The G4 now takes its place in my to-be-repaired queue. I rejoin the ranks of internet enabled Americans. The previous post mostly completed on Friday would even have been posted last night or Saturday except for Radio Userland's aversion to being transferred from one hard drive to another. Being what it is; a compiled script controlling a handful of large database tables and a host of cascading macros. All of which seem to use absolute file paths. The fine print says migrating will work as long as your hard drives have the exact same name. If not, you are going to have to do back up your web log files and do a clean reinstall from Because it crashes otherwise. I retransferred it and used find and replace to change all instances of iBookG4 HD to Macintosh HD (thousands), we'll see if that calms the beast within.

[Update 24Oct06: no that didn't do it. And reinstalling Radio from the Userland site while seeming to fix that problem, has done many other bad bad things.]

That post (excess of evil) had gotten too long to have much added to it, but it is worth noting that over the weekend Bush seemed to admit of parallels For first time, Bush compares Iraq to Vietnam  with the Vietnam war Bush Aide Sees a Parallel Between Vietnam and Iraq - New York Times specifically with the Tet offensive. The point often held to be the turning point of that war. Tet also bears the weight of the myth of the battle 'won' military, but lost politically. A willful denial of the essential unity of these elements of war, and I suspect a not rigorous enough examination of what was accomplished, not accomplished and lost in beating the NVA offensive back.

This comment by the President lead to much commentary Major Change Expected In Strategy for Iraq War - and counter commentary Bush: No Iraq Pull Out Until 'Mission is Complete' - that course changes were at hand Change Course in Iraq - The probable reality is that they are considering changes; of rhetoric prior to the election, smoothing abrasive edges of their line that may be causing their own constituency to fall away. There will be more involved changes down the line, of tactics which can now affect little, of strategy and intent only as the debate forces their hand. All this with the recommendations by the Baker commission released after the election providing political cover. This occurring amidst political and policy tensions that something, some new direction happen now as people - American soldiers - die in a war that is quickly becoming untenable for any positive outcome. The Baker commission is likely to lay out withdrawal perhaps after a brief period of significantly raised troop levels designed to "stabilize" the situation Bush to Iraqis: you take over - Sunday Times - Times Online. Senator Biden is rehearsing the feasibility of partition. My guess is that the next year will see Kurdistan essentially break away. Local or home rule for regions which are largely of either predominately Shiite or Sunni population, and a carefully balanced federalization of the remaining areas - such as metropolitan Baghdad. Our allies will have wait for the memo: BBC NEWS | Politics | Re-defining Iraq ambitions. None of the groups in Iraq's plurality are unaware of Iraq's mineral wealth, and are probably aware that in the end a bargain for the division of that wealth will be easier than a division of the ground it lies under. This is a thing only they can decide for themselves.

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Friday, October 20, 2006
Excess of Evil

The North Korean test of a nuclear device may have been in keeping with their role as one of the infamous axis of evil, but at the present time to the Administration it is more likely to be viewed as an excess of evil Bush's 'Axis of Evil' Comes Back to Haunt United States - In addition to rearranging the Asian security equation North Korea rocks Asia's status quo | North Korea now is capable of being a direct threat to countries it doesn't share a direct border with. Japan in particular now finds itself at risk of being drawn into Kim Jong-il's game of "give me money or I'll blow us all up". As well North Korea's ways and means committee will initiate a rearranging of Global War on Terror as the regime comes under suspicion of selling the knowledge, tools or even complete nuclear weapons to whoever has the cash to pay. The United States' capacity for eliminating trouble by direct (i.e. military) means is falling short of leaderships claims, But then the two regional wars the military envisioned being able to wage were always conceived as defensive in nature.

Looming large behind this immediate problem is the object lesson Iran will choose to take away from this Will Iran follow N. Korea's lead? |". They are already aware it is not likely the US cannot halt a potential run at nuclear weapon development by military means Bush Says No Plans to Attack North Korea - New York Times, this is the modern world; though, and no country that hasn't spent sixty years on the project can live as isolated as the North Korean regime does. If they see the US able to piece together a package of sanctions U.S. Urges Sanctions on North Korea - and material blockades that touch North Korea Bush Sees No Need to Change N. Korea Policy - New York Times that might give Iran pause. The goal would be for the precariously balanced North Korean regime to feel itself tipping at such angle as to remind them that they play the brinksmanship game Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | North Korea warns of sanctions reprisals with disaster so closely that the flapping of every butterfly's wings in every tropical rain-forest in the four corners of this earth must be accounted for to keep from being blown over the edge China Shows Willingness to Punish North Korea for Test - New York Times. This is still very difficult for the unilateralist crowd of the administration who are still laboring discognitively under the misapprehension that the unwashed masses of the world will fall to their knees trembling at the mere sound of Don Rumsfelds giant brass balls clanging together as he strides the earth NPR : President and Secretary of Defense Stay On-Message. There was an article in the paper recently on the Presidents increasing use of the phrase "unacceptable" "Unacceptable period" and other such bright line markers Bush Confounded by the 'Unacceptable' -, or maybe commas 'Just a Comma' Becomes Part of Iraq Debate - There is a certain King Canute quality to this rhetoric, it either marks a growing subconscious awareness of the limitations of the imperium, or of a lingering belief that the power exists, it is the will to use it that is lacking. More likely what is occurring is more descriptive than prescriptive - an inarticulate reflection of the danger and dramatic side of nuclear proliferation. Even Canute was offering a deliberate practical demonstration to his staff - a man has got to know his limitations.

Even as the Administration tries to set the focus to the nebulous level of the war on terror, there are daily reminders that staying the duplicitous course of their war on Iraq is what currently constrains the U S most. The merry-go-round of rationales for the war must keep turning through, WMD, engaging the middle east in Democracies experiment (note apparently democracy cannot be 'imposed' through invasion and occupation), through to oil, and around again. Recently the administration seems to be of the mind that if they can deny a civil war is occurring, then whatever is occurring is under control. Months ago I read a description of criteria for a civil war. There were two main factors: sustained movement and homogenization of ethic populations by neighborhood, if not city and region, and increasing conflict between militias. Keeping with the eternal course of war as a thing done by the armed to the unarmed, militia activity proceeds largely by raids, checkpoints, and round-ups, each culminating in episodes of mass murder. There is too much lowing hanging blood-fruit for militias to need to fight one another yet.

For the US, occupied as a target of the crossfire it is what the military minded call a small war. I had a thought a month or so ago to look into what the US War college (the military's graduate schools) journals (Parameter/Norton review) had to say about Gil Merom and Ivan Arreguin-Toft's book's. They had reviewed them and I pulled down those reviews intending to read and comment on them at some point. What surprised me is how long these books were published before they did review them. Others were paying more attention earlier. A spate of internal military reviews and a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq point towards spiraling instability, failure of the present government, failure of the US mission and the eventual necessity of withdrawal On every level, the Iraq war is hurting America | Yet this is not likely to happen there are permanent bases in Iraq essentially garrisoning the oil fields. These are tied to the wars true purpose and will not be withdrawn from. There will either be a central Government that allows this, or divided governance that encourages this. These bases are the vestige of the administrations former imperial hubris. A often reproduced quote related by Ron Suskind conveys this attitude in perfect form

...had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'' The New York Times > Magazine > "Without a Doubt": Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush also in The New York Review of Books: The Secret Way to War and referenced in The Cheney Supremacy.

The Frontline that ran this week FRONTLINE: the lost year in iraq | PBS offered a distillation of the much of the current commentary on what went wrong in Iraq. Some directly others such as Ricks' - Fiasco : the American military adventure in Iraq, Gordon- Cobra II : the inside story of the invasion and occupation of Iraq,Woodward State of denial, others indirectly, Packer- The Assassin's Gate : America in Iraq, Stewart- The prince of the marshes : and other occupational hazards of a year in Iraq, Fukayama- America at the crossroads : democracy, power, and the neoconservative legacy, and Chandrasekaran- Imperial life in the emerald city : inside Iraq's green zone. Others seemed implicitly contained: Naomi Klein's Baghdad Year Zero ( particularly. An interview with Andrew Natsios this spring who was issuing funds from the USAID Hirsh: Natsios Criticizes Iraq Contracts - Newsweek Politics - reinforces Ms Klein's view of the CPA as a disciplineless, blinkered, out-of-touch whirlpool drain of effort. I was surprised by the level of confusion and lack of coordination the administration demonstrated. Much of this I attribute to the dual and unstated nature of the objectives. Since it became clear the Bush administration intended to invade and occupy Iraq there have been few moments when the press or a government report assembled enough information together at one time to gain a feeling of what was going on - what we wanted to have happen and what we didn't. Frontline's report strongly suggests that there was no single point or voice from where this could have been communicated. There is no view of our enterprise in the middle east except through a glass darkly.

With no particular success at hand. The question becomes what was the plan anyway? I hold with the notion that while many rationales were in play what ultimately drove choices were the views of the administrations enterprising realists, Cheney and Rumsfeld, fronting for a wealth controlling elite which fights to keep the US destiny tied to their particular mode of wealth. What this country does, is get a very high return for its consumption of, its processing of energy. Primary wealth will lie along this path. This alternet article AlterNet: War on Iraq: Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil and AlterNet: War on Iraq: Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil (Part Two) discusses this touching on documents that were extracted from the Vice Presidents energy task force (by Judicial watch) that appear to show that the Iraqi oil fields were objects of intense interest well before the invasion. An interest which now has as its focus getting some Iraqi entity to sign in an internationally recognized manner Production Service Agreements (PSA) which would organize and control Iraq's oil assets. I recall the Vice President making a comment, when asked whether his task force would recommend alternate energy or energy saving programs. He didn't think that was the right course for America. Our course was to continue with the process we have. Dig and drill we must. I suppose from the point of view of this administration, getting elected entitled them to this. But did everyone in the electorate understand the bargain.

I also hold that heading up the cascade of miscalculations was the stubbornly held notion that Chalabi was going to be man we were going to do business with and the thing was essentially an assisted coup, a natural law reconstruction and didn't require large degrees of postwar planning. It was the Iraqi Coup that never happened; never more than an ignorant fantasy.

As much as one is tempted to admire Secretary Rumsfeld's attempts to force the U S military into the 21st century and move it off force-structures and systems designed for the cold war. The other side of that coin was the interest the people associated with this, with the Program for the New American Century, had in a military posture freed from a defensive intent and enabled as an easy instrument of politics, policy, and power. This could never prove less than unwise or immoral.

On a two way radio there is a knob called gain that you turn to set signal above noise. The policies the republicans have to campaign on have demonstrable histories, they must present failure as a virtue in Iraq, they stay - because they can't see a way out, because they have not yet fed their appetite, they try not to mention it at all Comment is free: Don't mention the war. The migrations of peoples and existence of radical islam are genuine issues, the first not wholly negative, the second not rightfully equatible to a world war and crisis driven abandonment of freedoms. to speak constantly of these issues in terms of terror, dhimmization, latin reconquesta, xenophobia! For political gain. That is noise.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006
Sayanara F-14

 I had wanted to write this when I could put up some more scanned RA5C pictures. Back in the last week of September I saw a news item that the Navy was a having a  ceremony to mark the closing of the F-14 Tomcat program. the end of the line for the F-14 Tomcat Even Slashdot covered this Slashdot | The US Navy Says Goodbye to the Tomcat. Makes me feel old, I can remember when those were the 'new' Planes. With my computer mostly down I won't be able to do any scanning uploading of images for a few weeks, so I will put this post out without any pictures before it becomes irretrievably stale. I was hoping to find a picture of a  Ra5c Vigilante with an  F-14 among the pictures I have, which I didn't in any case. I only found one of an F-14 at all.

 I also got an email from Henner Lenhardt, whose father flew with Rvah 11 during the vietnam war. He sent some photos he had scanned; an impact fragment pulled out of his father's plane, the cover of the Jeffrey Ethell book "One day in a Long War", and a scan of a picture of a Ra5c in that book. I have to put those up once I have the new machine up and running.

 The news of the end of the F-14 program was not a complete surprise I had seen a big picture book on F-14 s, commemorating them come into the library earlier this summer. Permalink 0967404053 Anytime, baby! : hail and farewell to the US Navy F-14 Tomcat

 One last note I saw an item in the paper that same week concerning Admiral Fallon who at one time was an Ra5c pilot. He is now the Commander US Pacific command which is one of these unified (Army/Navy/Airforce) world area commands. Not web-enabled at the moment I can't hunt that down right now, but I think it was on 23 Sep 06 in the Washington Post and involved Adm Fallon. trying to set up a reciprocal  program with the Chinese military to send liasons to each other's military exercises with the idea that it reduce misunderstandings if the involved field officers knew the names of, and had met their opposite numbers. I imagine Adm. Fallon is a busy man at the moment.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Function Disjunction

 My iBook is broken. Or as the French say 'kaput'. And you know it is the french who say that. Only had it a year. Right it died just after the manufacturer warranty expired. Trouble began in back in mid May. Wifi at the University, what Apple calls Airport, began giving it fits. it would crash while asleep (at any rate not waking up). wifi would send it into a hard freeze as soon as it was turned on - as soon as my finger came off the touchpad button. At my sisters on her non WAPed local network it worked occasionally but had trouble staying on. After a while, an hour at the most it would freeze up.

 At this same time it began not coming back up after a restart - it locks up during restart right after telling me how many cached and uncached personalities it has (verbose boot: cmd v). It does this even after running Apples hardware tests over it. Which come up claiming it passed, claiming that the airport card is alright (which i doubt). I'm not even sure where the airport card is on this buggy. It's not under the keyboard, because thats where the RAM card went.

 I have it up in "safe mode" at the moment. It does nothing else. It doesn't do much in safe mode, there is no internet connectivity, iTunes is disabled. I intend to back up everything and leave it alone. If it is a memory, disk, or motherboard problem I probably don't want to change the state of the drive. When it's replacement arrives and I've moved everything over, then I will try an archival n' install, or a clean install. Whatever it desires.

Unfortunately since I run a Radio Userland web log, which means its organizing database is tied to this machine, posting is problematic. If this gets posted it means I was able to provoke it into going through its paces without being connected to the internet, and then peel the items out of the local back-up to place in the atomized folder on UMD's WAM server.
 Tran tells me that we need problems and aggravation in our lives to feel purposeful and engaged. I love this charitable and philosophical side she shows, but  I almost suspect she is somewhat amused by all this.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2006
And only when we try.

 As an experiment I will now attempt a reasonably short post which will include a number of different thoughts. A week ago the comic strip Prickly City was having a go at the pork-happy, entitlement-drunk, earmark-stapling, kick-backing lobbyist-partying, spendthrift congress. Bastards! Of course the minor problem here is that the House and the Senate are solidly in  republican hands. Have been for a while too. So the strip was forced into a curious circumlocution that they were actually republi-crats, or something. The notion being that they were democrats in sheeps clothing. If they were behaving badly, they were not real republicans but democrats or they had caught from democrats  the democrat disease. It is nothing of the sort. They are behaving the way they want to behave. The way the people who placed them in office want them to behave. Spending the money they want to spend.  They have had numerous wake-up calls to reassess things. To reform, set ethics standards. They have energetically avoided allowing anything of the sort to actually happen. The current corrupt dysfunctional legislature cannot be fantasized away as democratic conspiracy When the House Could Clean Itself - I try to give comic strips a pass, my niece thinks the coyote and little girl are nice, but this week I caught a Prickly City strip that seemed to be coyly suggesting, by referring to Air America's financial difficulties, that they were morally bankrupt as well. Enough! If you want a glimpse of moral bankruptcy Mr. Stantis buy a mirror look at yourself.

 Today I saw several reports that Fox news - on Bill O'Reilly's show - repeatedly aired a visual naming Rep. Foley (R. FL) as a democrat Fox News Solves This Whole Foley Mess. There is a certain disinclination to face things here...  Josh Marshall's Talking Point Memo has pointed out that Rev. Dobson is already on record as suggesting it's all about America's obsession with sex. The culture of virtue and personal responsibility are only for those things we desire to be responsible for. Otherwise we are defenseless against the environment. Next, Marshall suggests, will come a move to lay this all at the feet of a cabal of log cabin republican staffers. Converting all liabilites to a dismissible them. All to avoid coming to terms with the fact that the house leadership Hastert Rejects Calls To Give Up Leadership preferred to overlook Rep Foley's inappropriate behavior for years rather than risk any embarrassment or loss of a seat.

 Still as others have pointed out Relative Scandals (via Scripting News) the greatest failing of this congress is not to identify our democracy as being in our laws and institutions where it was placed with care and daring, fallaciously assuming it to lie innately within us. So that our laws, our concern for due process, and for rights can be thinned and rewritten without harm (let alone the notion that this somehow will fix us stronger). This is to mistake the virtue of habit, for the virtue of examination. It comes from relying on myths of who we are rather than an understanding of who we are. We are only human.

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Sunday, October 1, 2006
Squirrel cage induction

 I saw a book on Squirrels come into the library last week Squirrels : the animal answer guide [the main purpose of this post is to show off this new WorldCat book & library service]. Squirrels; they're like monkeys, but smaller. I see this book is trying to convince me that chipmunks are a type of squirrel. I would regard that as a highly contentious statement, but apparently chipmunk is simply the algonquin word for squirrel. More important does it cover why squirrels insist on running back in forth in front of you on the road. That they do this even to folk like myself who come up upon them pedaling slowly on a bicycle and dither until you bellow "getouttheway" at them. Which breaks them out of their reverie. Yes, it does cover this and it offers a reason.

 First it points out that it seems to be juvenile squirrels that behave like this. older squirrels are more resolute. Then it adds that this is an evolved squirrel behavior, jinking back and forth, that has served it well against animal predators, but which is of less utility against automotive preditation. This seems in order. It explains and predicts, but I have two alternate theories. Both are variations of the "squirrels have tiny tiny brains" theme. Squirrels I think have very short memories for some things. Once they reverse course and the danger formerly looming before them is no longer visible they forget about it. And the need for whatever it was that lay on the other side of the road re-asserts itself. They turn around and head back. One obvious objection to this: squirrels have their eyes set in such a way that makes me think they have fairly good peripherial vision and probably would never lose sight of the car.

 I have a second idea. Squirrel brains have evolved to process moving objects at approximately the acceleration of gravity, the speed of a falling acorn. The speed of their own bodies falling from branch to branch. They can plot intercepts and convergences of objects at this approximate speed but not at others. A car approaching at 30 miles an hour simply makes no sense to them. I don't believe they can make any meaning of it, obtain any actionable information. To them it is as though one of us, with our big fat multi-velocity dipthong folding brains came across a extra-dimensional object. We wouldn't know what it was or what to do about it and only its relative unfamiliarity would signal potential danger to us as we walk around it and poke it with our sticks.

11:49:47 PM    comment [];trackback [];

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