Weblog Archives




  Saturday   January 25   2003

scanner photography


These photographs are explorations of organic forms, isolated by a sweeping beam of light in the dark. I started with the blossoms of the Datura plant and went on to include other subjects, such as skeletons of sea urchins, coral, and other creatures, and various other plants.


  thanks to Coudal Partners

 07:52 PM - link

a new world order

The following is a Salon article, which means that you have to get a free day pass by looking at a commercial. (Close your eyes and click.)

Europe's declaration of independence
Frustrated with the warmongering and arrogance of the Bush White House, Germany and France are making a historic break with the U.S. Relations may never be the same.

As American and British forces continue to flock to the Persian Gulf, a stunning global rift is reaching historic proportions. Not since the end of WWII has Germany, one of America's staunchest allies, refused to support the U.S. on a major foreign policy issue. And now, France, which was instrumental in defining the terms of United Nations Resolution 1441, has opted to join the ranks of the "refusal camp," as it is being called here. Both countries in recent days reiterated that they would block the U.S. request for military and logistical support from NATO to prepare for a war with Iraq. Unthinkable a decade ago, such a move could be a sign that old alliances are in for a profound change.

I link to the Salon article because it reinforces the following at The Argonist.

The End Of The Alliance

It's over. Done. Kaput. Dead.

No, the headlines aren't all ablaze with ledes like "NATO Folds" or "The End Of An Era". Alas, the newspapers are usually to late, as well as the diplomats. But this week there has been a sea change (pardon the pun) in the Atlantic Alliance.

A lot of the comments on the above write off the French and Germans since they they don't have a comparable military. I'm not sure that makes a difference. Or it could make a difference and not to our favor. We spend on guns while they spend on butter. The EU now has twice the population of the US. It's still weaker economically but that could change. We are starting to see a countervailing force to American hegemon. Everything changes.

 07:44 PM - link

beer is pretty

microscopic views of beers from around the world

Welcome to the Molecular Expressions BeerShots website featuring digital images and photomicrographs (photographs taken through an optical microscope) of the World's most famous beers. We have arranged the beer images by country.

James Boag's Premium Lager


  thanks to Coudal Partners

 06:59 PM - link


Iraq: no nuclear evidence
Blow to US hawks as inspectors draw blank

The United Nations' nuclear inspectors will deliver a serious blow on Monday to Washington's case for going to war with Iraq, telling the world they have found nothing and giving Saddam Hussein good grades for cooperation.

Just as damaging to the US position will be the insistence to the UN security council by the chief nuclear inspector, Mohamed El Baradei, that his team needs several more months to complete its work and that some important testing equipment has only just arrived in the country.

 04:51 PM - link

On violence and the Intifada

From the beginning of Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, through the first Intifada into the early 1990s, there were no suicide bombings. Before the first Intifada, Israel had near quiet in the Occupied Territories. Liberal Israelis were content to use Palestinians as a cheap source of labor, and to visit their occupied towns and cities at weekends to enjoy the superior hummus. Meanwhile, Labor- and Likud-led governments assiduously built the infrastructure of military occupation and colonization with the explicit purpose of making a withdrawal impossible.

Yitzhak Laor writes: "a report published on 6 September in the (right-wing) daily Ma'ariv revealed that during the first three weeks of the [second] Intifada -- before the wave of terror attacks against Israelis even began -- the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], according to Army records, fired one million bullets." ("Diary," London Review of Books, 3 October 2002). No people in history, not Indians led by Gandhi, nor South Africans led by Nelson Mandela, ever faced the kind of state violence that Palestinians face without some of them resorting to armed resistance or desperate acts of revenge. And yet today, even though killing is spiraling, and every Palestinian is subject to the intrusive, daily terror of the occupation, only a tiny number of Palestinians take part in counter-violence of any kind, let alone attacks on civilians. Meanwhile, since long before the suicide bomb phenomenon appeared, there has been a long history of non-violent activism by Palestinians defending their land and rights in the face of Israeli violence, but sadly this has been ignored by many of the same critics who now chide the Palestinians for not being more like Gandhi.

During the first three weeks of the Second Palestinian Intifada, the Israeli army -- according to its own records -- fired one million bullets.


  thanks to thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse

 04:43 PM - link

global climate change meets archeology

Glacial melt turns up treasure
Yukon researcher finds Stone Age artifacts and fossilized animals

Biologist Gerry Kuzyk was hiking with his wife in the remote reaches of the Yukon when he caught the putrid scent of caribou dung wafting through the chill air.

Then he saw it -- the biggest pile of animal droppings he had ever seen, 8 feet high and stretching over a half-mile of mountainside.

Kuzyk, a researcher with the Yukon Department of Renewable Resources, knew there weren't enough caribou in the entire territory to create such an epic mound. Odder yet, there hadn't been caribou in the area for nearly a century.

"It was like being in the `Twilight Zone,' " said Rick Farnell, a colleague who helped investigate the find. "You could see them from a distance -- big, black bands of feces. I'm talking tons of it."

The mystery was solved by lab analysis: The dung, the product of innumerable migrating caribou herds, had been frozen for thousands of years and only recently exposed by melting ice.

Along with the dung, the scientists soon discovered an arsenal of Stone Age darts, arrows and spears.

  thanks to MetaFilter

 04:23 PM - link


Vintage Calculators

All you young whippersnappers probably have not given much thought to what were used for calculators prior to the wonderful electronic devices that we have today. No, we didn't use marks on clay tablets. There were wonderful mechanical devices that did calculations. Friden and Marchant were the big names. I remember playing on a Marchant in my dad's office very much like this one.

I was involved in sports car rallys in the late 60s and this was the calculator of choice.

Mechanical marvels from an age lost in the mists of time. That would be about 35 years ago.

 04:10 PM - link

state of the union

Atlantic Magazine has an interesting issue with a series of articles on the state we're in. It looks like the web site version of this is incomplete and that we will have to purchase the dead tree version to get the full report.

What is the Real State of the Union?

  thanks to Cursor

Many thoughtful articles by many thoughtful people but they may have missed a teensy detail...

The New American Filter

Here's a good bet: Young, good-looking, hip and upcoming policy wonks aren't going to bite the hands that feed them.

If a public policy group holds a conference or a press briefing in Washington, D.C. that is sponsored by big corporations, then the discussion will barely mention big corporations, their role in causing the problems, or solutions that might adversely affect those big corporations.

You can take it to the bank.

Case in point:

This week, at the National Press Club, the Atlantic Monthly Magazine and The New America Foundation co-sponsored an event titled, "What is the Real State of the Union?"

  thanks to Cursor

 12:25 PM - link

life's important question

Toilet Paper: Over or Under

Each afternoon, Spencer Howson talks about a decision we all have to make, where there are just two choices. It's black or white.

Today's Black & White decision: "Do you like the toilet paper over or under the roll?"

Here are the results, complete with some of your comments.

  thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!

 12:10 PM - link

best bush post

Read this post to the bottom.

So what's remarkable about these headlines?




Etc., etc., etc.

  thanks to Eschaton

 11:59 AM - link

how big is a billion?

The L-Curve

The income distribution of the United States

Partial Graph of the U.S. Income Distribution. The graph represents the population of the United States lined up, left to right, according to income. The height of the graph at any point is the height of a stack of $100 bills equaling that person's income.

Imagine the population of the United States stretched across a football field in order of income, from poorest to richest. Now imagine a stack of $100 bills representing each person's income. (A 1-inch stack of $100 bills is $25,000.) The red line represents the heights of those stacks compared to a football field. I call this graph the "L-Curve."

The red line in the first picture is the beginning of the U. S. income distribution. On the scale of the football field the line slopes gradually from zero on the left to less than 2-inches high at the 50-yard line ($39,000), to about 4-inches high at the 95-yard line ($132,000). On this scale the entire graph is less than one pixel high, up to this point. It is not until you are well past the 99-yard line that you hit the $1 million mark: a stack of $100 bills 40-inches high. There were over 144,000 people who turned in IRS returns in 1997 with adjusted gross incomes of $1 million or more.

This is the first graph. It takes two to show just how high that vertical red line goes for the billionaires. Go see.

  thanks to Spitting Image

 11:46 AM - link

  Friday   January 24   2003

bye-bye bill part 2

David Horsey

 10:10 AM - link


Ami Vitale: Getting Beyond the Headlines

Photojournalist Ami Vitale is on the road less traveled. Often unpaved, and at times dangerous, that road has taken her in the last three years, to places of surreal beauty and civil unrest. It has also taken her to places where there is extreme poverty and horrible destruction of life and property, and to villages where there is no running water or electricity, places she describes as “worlds apart.” But it is not the differences that have drawn Vitale to them; it is the commonality of human emotions and life experiences that have irrevocably bonded her with the people she has photographed in them.


  thanks to Riley Dog

 03:26 AM - link


The message from the Bush camp: 'It's war within weeks'

President George Bush is determined to go to war with Saddam Hussein in the next few weeks, without UN backing if necessary, according to authoritative sources in Washington and London.

The US president is "to turn up the heat" in his state of the union address on Tuesday.

"The pressure comes from President Bush and it is felt all the way down," a European official said. "They're talking about weeks, not months. Months is a banned word now."

The U.S. is looking for an excuse to fight

As the American armada of ships, warplanes, tanks and other equipment pours into the region around Iraq, the only uncertainty about President Bush's misguided and dangerous war seems to be just when it will start. But there's something else we should watch for closely, for wars seldom start without one.

What will be the final pretext for opening fire? Most wars need such a fig leaf, and unpopular wars most of all. Seldom, if ever, has the United States prepared for war with so little support. The administration itself is divided. Major allies are balky. At home, there are peace marches but no war marches; abroad, opinion polls almost everywhere show angry, overwhelming opposition. All this makes President Bush, more than ever, need a plausible excuse to start his war.

by Mark Fiore


God bless America
by Harold Pinter

Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America's God.

The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn't join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who've forgotten the tune.

The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in the dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America's God.

 03:15 AM - link


Seeing Beyond Roe, Bush Aims at Contraception

While few in the media noticed, American foreign policy has moved towards opposition to condoms and towards promotion of "natural" birth control methods such as rhythm and abstinence. It has been reported that the White House political arm believes that Bush Pere lost the presidency because it did not pay enough attention to the right wing. What better gift to the right than deep-sixing Roe and going much further by limiting the availability of contraception?

 03:00 AM - link

hank williams

That fatal Day
Hank Williams mysterious death 50 years ago has entered pop-culture mythology. What really happened?

The death of Hank Williams has become an American legend. Everyone knows he was one of the largest figures in the history of country music, but country music really isn't big enough to contain him. He may not have lived to hear the phrase "rock 'n' roll," but some of his stuff sounds like it. Some of his music was blues, or gospel, with even an old minstrel-show song thrown in here or there. Even while he was still alive, jazz artists and pop crooners were interpreting his music. The last hit he ever knew about had zydeco flavorings. Bob Dylan called him his favorite songwriter; Leonard Cohen wrote a song about him; and Norah Jones is just the latest artist to cover his songs.

  thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!

 02:49 AM - link

the last washington reporter with balls

Doubting Thomas offers her press veteran’s take on state of presidency

As she signed my program, I joked, “You sound worried.”

“This is the worst president ever,” she said. “He is the worst president in all of American history.”

The woman who has known eight of them wasn’t joking.

  thanks to Eschaton

 02:44 AM - link


All about George


  thanks to consumptive.org

 02:40 AM - link

wall street crooks

It's your money... for now
'Fired' Harvey Pitt is still running the SEC -- straight into the ground
by Molly Ivins

Then, oops, bumps on the rosy road. Pitt appointed Judge William Webster to head the new oversight board that was supposed to clear up all the conflicts of interest in the accounting field, but Webster turned out to have some conflicts of interest himself. So Webster stepped down, and Pitt himself was canned on election night last year.

You probably thought he was long gone, but, nope, he's still head of the SEC. Bush hasn't gotten around to nominating anyone else. So Pitt is still there, working his fingers to the bone for his former clients.

Remember when we thought the minimum reform would be to separate the auditing and the consulting functions of accounting firms? Can that. The SEC plans to make it optional, leaving the choice up to a company's audit committee. Let's see, would Ken Lay and Jeff Skillings have voted to bring in another auditor to check out the offshore partnerships they set up with help from Arthur Andersen?

 02:34 AM - link


A Bug's Breath
X-Rays Settle Mystery of Insects' 'Lungs'

Exposing insects to X-ray beams a billion times more powerful than the ones that doctors use, researchers have at last settled one of the longest-running -- if lesser-known -- controversies in science: Bugs, it turns out, do breathe.


 02:29 AM - link

life in palestine

Mountain of Fire
Nablus Under Lockdown

Not content with the injuries they inflicted yesterday, the Israelis have today become even more violent, and the following incidents occurred just in our small area. They beat, kicked and spat on two accredited photographers for Reuters and AP, knocked over a 65- year-old UK grandmother (me) with a blow in the back from a rifle butt, and beat up one of the young Ambulance Drivers when he was stopped in the mud of Beit Fouriq to change a wheel. Soldiers also injured a baby (who needed hospital treatment) with a blow from a rifle butt, refused for ages to return my passport, kept ten or more ambulances at a time waiting at a newly set-up tank-point (road-block), and generally made a nuisance of themselves. These huge tanks swivel their large caliber shell-firing gun straight at you while you wait in the ambulance, and today, for the first time, I was able to see all the way down the barrel--even considering what is normal here, that was pretty amazing--the mouth of this unbelievable weapon not three feet from my eyes. I also took a VERY close look at the rest of the death-delivering monster, paid for by the Tax dollars of US citizens, and ran my hand along the side from end to end. Inside this metal container soldiers live all day--no wonder they are quite crazy.

Ambushed in Hebron Hills
Ta'ayush Activists Attacked by Settlers

Last Saturday, January 18, approx. 20 Ta'ayush activists, together with a few members of the CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams), went to South Hebron Hills region, in order to help Palestinian farmers to plow their land. Ta'ayush activists, who have established long-term relationship with the people of South Hebron Hills, and are working to prevent their expulsion by the Israeli government, arrived in order to assist the Palestinians with the plow mission, in a non-violent way and with great concern to the safety of the Palestinian farmers.

The group arrived in the region at morning hours and were attacked, on their way to the fields, by settlers who were armed with guns and stones. The settlers threw stones and fired their guns in the air, while chasing and beating the peace activists. The settlers also damaged some of the Palestinian farmer's gear; they pushed one tractor down the valley and stole the equipment that was on it. Only after army and police forces arrived on the scene, the group was able to pull back the tractor (which was damaged in thousands of Shekels, according to the estimations). The plowing was not carried out.

Israelis detain hundreds without trial
Kafkaesque nightmare awaits arrested Palestinians

Nima Abu Alia's neighbours told her from bitter experience not to even bother looking for her son, Eyad, for at least a week. The 23-year-old was snatched on Wednesday from the family home in Deheisheh, near Bethlehem, by an Israeli army squad in the dead of night.

 02:26 AM - link


Bush Is Losing It

It was a bad week for the Bush administration, and it's likely to get worse. The American people are beginning to understand the folly and greed that inform its economic policy. And most of the civilized world has turned decisively against the Iraqi adventure. The great coalition that George W. Bush proposes to lead against Saddam Hussein is now a coalition of two, and British prime minister Tony Blair has lost the support of his own people, most especially members of his own Labor Party, who warn of a political revolt if Britain goes to war without a new UN resolution.

NBC-WSJ Poll: Bush support drops
President’s ratings slip on economy, foreign policy, handling of war on terrorism

President Bush’s popularity ratings — once among the highest of any president in the past 60 years — are eroding across the board, according to a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll. Bush is losing ground in several key areas, including foreign policy, the economy and his handling of the war on terrorism. And as the escalation of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf continues, the poll finds a growing number of Americans oppose military action to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power.

 02:14 AM - link


Narancic Grafika


  thanks to Riley Dog

 02:00 AM - link

  Wednesday   January 22   2003

bye-bye bill

Bill Mauldin, Newspaper Cartoonist, Dies at 81

Bill Mauldin, the Army sergeant who created Willie and Joe, the cartoon characters who became enduring symbols of the grimy, irrespressible American infantrymen who triumphed over the German army and prevailed over their own rear-echelon officers in World War II, died today in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 81 years old.

"Just give me the aspirin. I already got a Purple Heart."


 06:44 PM - link


Hey Women Take That Ha Ha Ha
In which the antichoice crowd gets all giddy about further restricting women's rights
By Mark Morford

Let us, right here and now, get this very straight.

No one wants abortion. Isn't that reassuring? No one likes abortion. No woman anywhere in the entire world who accidentally and/or tragically and/or violently and/or sadly became pregnant and did not intend to, wants to suffer this, ever.

No woman, by way of either mistake or unsafe sex or bad condoms or neglected birth control or immaculate conception or rampant misinformation or overly aggressive ignorant males, ever wants this done to her.

And furthermore, no female who ever became pregnant as a direct result of the lack of proper birth control information, or of the incessant stream of guilt-ridden conservative-cheered church-inhibited faux-advice masquerading as sex education in this nation, is right now saying to herself, oh joy, I get to go have this highly unpleasant, painful, frustrating, often depressing procedure. Are we clear?

But it is, as it has always been, her choice, and no one else's. Oh yes it is.

 06:01 PM - link

how can we miss you if you wont go away

Effort to Dilute New S.E.C. Rules

"This is very disappointing," said Lynn Turner, a former chief accountant at the commission during the Clinton administration who is now a professor of accounting at Colorado State University. "We've had Enron, Tyco, WorldCom. We've had the most tumultuous year ever in corporate America. And despite all of that, the commission is softening, rather than toughening, the rules in favor of the attorneys and auditors to the great detriment of investors. To me, it's just amazing."

Officials said the provisions had been changed from earlier drafts after meetings with the commissioners, including Harvey L. Pitt, who has remained as chairman of the agency more than two months after announcing his resignation. Last month, President Bush announced his selection of William H. Donaldson to succeed Mr. Pitt, but Mr. Donaldson has yet to be nominated formally for the post.

  thanks to Argonist

What a joke. Bush gets all the good press about doing something for the economy by getting rid of Pitt without actually getting rid of him. A con game, pure and simple.

 05:56 PM - link


Four-winged dinosaur makes feathers fly

A stunning set of six fossils discovered in China could rewrite our understanding of how and why birds first took to the sky. The fossils clearly show a small dinosaur that had flight feathers covering its legs, as well as tail and arms, forming an extra pair of wings never before seen by palaeontologists.


  thanks to Robot Wisdom

 05:23 PM - link

Israel Elections 2003
6 days to voting

They want Mitzna to bring the nightmare to an end
By Amira Hass

Elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council were to have been held two days ago. The date was set in the summer, at a time when the Palestinian Authority representatives were involved - under close European and American supervision - in preparations for reforms in the Palestinian Authority, of which the elections were viewed as the most important element.

The rest is history: Israel had no intention of allowing the elections to be held, the United States backed Israel, the Israel Defense Forces deployed in all the Palestinian cities and the continued policy of closure made it impossible for the Palestinians to challenge the Israeli refusal and hold elections - some say not to the great sorrow of the Palestinian leadership.

Israeli troops devastate West Bank village market

Israeli soldiers demolished 62 shops at a market yesterday, destroying the livelihood of hundreds of Palestinians. In the early morning, about 300 troops streamed into the market, just outside the village of Nazlat Issa. They brought seven bulldozers.

Villagers poured out to protest as the bulldozers tore down the village market, the main source of income for Nazlat Issa's 2,500 residents.

Disturbing Trends in Israel

More Israelis than ever before are thinking the unthinkable. An April poll found that 44 percent of Israeli Jews support "transfer" of the Arab population. Posters throughout the country proclaim, "Transfer = peace and security." "Us here, them there" and "Jordan is Palestine" are popular slogans. An hour of school time was devoted to the teachings of Rehavam Ze’evi, chief exponent of the idea, who was assassinated last year. "Transfer" is discussed openly on talk shows.

What is "population transfer?" The concept dates from 19th century Zionism, and refers to removal of the Palestinians from their land, in order to make room for (or enlarge) Israel. How does Israel propose to do this?

 04:05 PM - link


This Modern World

Story Minute

David Horsey

 03:53 PM - link


What the Administration knew about Pakistan and the North Korean nuclear program.
by Seymour M. Hersh

One American intelligence official who has attended recent White House meetings cautioned against relying on the day-to-day Administration statements that emphasize a quick settlement of the dispute. The public talk of compromise is being matched by much private talk of high-level vindication. "Bush and Cheney want that guy's head"—Kim Jong Il's—"on a platter. Don't be distracted by all this talk about negotiations. There will be negotiations, but they have a plan, and they are going to get this guy after Iraq. He's their version of Hitler."

  thanks to Talking Points Memo

Tunneling Toward Disaster

With the North Korean crisis likely to become much more dangerous than the American public appreciates, I came here to a hillside on the Demilitarized Zone to peer into a tunnel six feet wide and six feet high, 220 feet below the surface, leading north.

This is one of four North Korean infiltration tunnels discovered over the years. Each is capable of transporting 10,000 soldiers per hour behind South Korean defensive lines, and the biggest can accommodate jeeps and artillery. Based on defector interviews, the spooks believe that there are at least 15 more tunnels that haven't been found yet, and that some reach nearly to Seoul.

Unless President Bush more clearly changes course to negotiate with North Korea, there's a growing risk that these tunnels could be used. Distrust the hopeful noises peeping periodically from diplomats in the region — it'll be very difficult to reach a deal in which North Korea gives up its nuclear projects. We may have to brace ourselves for Kim Jong Il's turning out nukes like hotcakes, for growing tension in the region, and for a greatly heightened risk of another Korean War. The North's nuclear program could produce 200 warheads by 2010, and 58 more annually after that.

Smiling through with Kelly
But talks to end North Korea's nuclear defiance are nowhere in sight

 03:54 PM - link


Washington As It Was
Photographs by Theodor Horydczak, 1923-1959

Spanning from the mid 1920s through the 1950s, the Theodor Horydczak collection (about 14,350 photographs online) documents the architecture and social life of the Washington metropolitan area in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, including exteriors and interiors of commercial, residential, and government buildings, as well as street scenes and views of neighborhoods. A number of Washington events and activities, such as the 1932 Bonus Army encampment, the 1933 World Series, and World War II preparedness campaigns, are also depicted.


  thanks to plep

 03:45 PM - link


Sept. 11 Panel Faces Several Pressures

An independent commission charged with investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is about to meet for the first time, and already there is an effort in Congress to increase its funding.

Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., and some of the victims' relatives say they doubt the commission can do a thorough job with only the $3 million authorized by Congress. Corzine proposed doubling the amount, to $6 million, in an amendment he filed Tuesday to a $390 billion spending bill being debated by the Senate.

The commission holds its first meeting in Washington on Monday, 16 months after the attacks.

It will have little more than a year to explore the causes of the attacks, preparations for future terrorism and the response to the airline hijackings that killed more than 3,000 Americans at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in southwestern Pennsylvania.

By comparison, a federal commission created in 1996 got two years and $5 million to study legalized gambling.

  thanks to Eschaton

Or, as Atrios puts it:

$70 million to investigate the activities of Clinton's penis. $3 million to investigate the attacks on September 11.

I guess that's Republican priorities for you.

 03:27 PM - link

death penalty

Mexico to challenge US use of death penalty

The use of the death penalty in the United States is to be challenged by a case brought by the Mexican government on behalf of 51 Mexicans awaiting execution in jails across the border.

The case highlights the international unease about the US justice system, which has intensified since the retiring governor of Illinois, George Ryan, commuted the sentences of nearly 170 Death Row inmates earlier this month.

 03:16 PM - link


Growth of a Nation

Growth of a Nation is a free, ten minute movie which depicts the geographic history of the United States from the beginning of the nation to fifty states. Geographic elements are interactive, as is the timeline.


I've never seen it put together like this. A 10 minute history of the US. Excellent.

  thanks to plep

 03:16 PM - link


The Sketch: Blair astonishes onlookers with a frank answer to Parliament's greybeards

A few posed questions we ourselves would like to ask: "Is there any link between al-Qa'ida, Iraq and terrorist groups in Britain?" Blair watchers were astonished when the Prime Minister said: "No."

The myth of the war economy
Markets loathe uncertainty and volatility. Conflict brings both
by Joseph Stiglitz

War is widely thought to be linked to economic good times. The second world war is often said to have brought the world out of depression, and war has since enhanced its reputation as a spur to economic growth. Some even suggest that capitalism needs wars, that without them, recession would always lurk on the horizon.

Today, we know that this is nonsense. The 1990s boom showed that peace is economically far better than war. The Gulf war of 1991 demonstrated that wars can actually be bad for an economy. That conflict contributed mightily to the onset of the recession of 1991 (which was probably the key factor in denying the first President Bush re-election in 1992).

The current situation is far more akin to the Gulf war than to wars that may have contributed to economic growth. Indeed, the economic effects of a second war against Iraq would probably be far more adverse. The second world war called for total mobilisation, requiring a country's total resources, and that is what wiped out unemployment. Total war means total employment.

Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War

 03:06 PM - link

hot coffee and tort reform

A good rant on the lies passed around supporting tort reform. It turns out the lady who spilled hot McDonalds' coffee in her lap had a legitimate case.


During discovery, McDonalds produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992. Some claims involved third-degree burns substantially similar to Liebecks. This history documented McDonalds’ knowledge about the extent and nature of this hazard.

McDonalds also said during discovery that, based on a consultant’s advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste. He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature. Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.

 02:58 PM - link

book art

The Book Art of Richard Minsky


  thanks to BookNotes

 02:44 PM - link

the united states of north america

The Rise of the Fortress Continent
by Naomi Klein

On the other US border, dozens of industries, from agriculture to construction, are reliant on "illegal" Mexican workers--a fact not lost on George W. Bush, who knows that, after oil, immigrant labor is the fuel driving the Southwest economy. If he suddenly cut off the flow, the business sector would rebel. So what's a wildly pro-business, security-obsessed government to do?

Easy: Move the border. Turn the Mexican and Canadian borders into glorified checkpoints and seal off the entire continent, from Guatemala to the Arctic Circle. Bush officials don't talk much about the continental fortress, preferring terms like "North American area of mutual confidence." But a US-run security perimeter is precisely what is being built. In the past year, Washington has pressured Canada and Mexico to harmonize their refugee, immigration and visa laws with US policies. And in July 2001, Mexican President Vicente Fox introduced Plan Sur, a massive security operation on Mexico's southern frontier that immigration experts refer to as "the southern migration" of the US border.

 02:33 PM - link


I've added some more to my grandfather's story as a naval artist during WWII. He published two books describing his experiences, which I've put up on the web site: North Atlantic Patrol and Victory at Midway.

I've been slowly working on putting up his reports written during a trip around the world, in late 1943 and the first part of 1944. They are harder to do since they are copies of typewritten reports that he sent in every two weeks. My OCR won't recognize a lot of it so my daughter Jenny has been typing them. I already have the reports of his preparing to leave on the site. I now have his description of sailing to England on the Queen Mary, staying in England trying to find his luggage, trying to get a ride to Cairo and his flights to Morocco and Egypt and the beginning of his time in North Africa.

He wrote these reports as a basis for another book that was never written. Except for one or two other members of my family, this is the first time others have a chance to read about what he saw and experienced 59 years ago during a World War.

My grandfather died in 1950. I was five. It's strange to think that my grandfather was five years younger than I am now when he wrote these reports.

 02:51 AM - link

  Tuesday   January 21   2003


The archives for last night's TestingTesting with Lisa Toomey are up. A fun evening of music from my living room.

 01:43 PM - link

caricature art

Al Hirschfeld, 99, Dies; He Drew Broadway

Al Hirschfeld, whose inimitable caricatures captured the vivid personalities of theater people and their performances for more than 75 years, died at his home in Manhattan yesterday. He was 99.

To be the subject of a Hirschfeld drawing endowed one with a special cachet. To find the word "Nina," the name of his daughter, hidden several times in the lines of his caricatures, was a weekend pastime for millions of readers. Next to his signature he put the number of "Ninas" in his drawings, creating a sort of pleasurable Sunday game for his admirers.

And here is the best source for Hirschfeld images:

The Margot Feiden Galleries



Al Hirschfeld, beyond Broadway

Al Hirschfeld, Beyond Broadway celebrates a "Gift to the Nation" of original drawings given by the artist in honor of the Library's Bicentennial. The exhibition features twenty-five works drawn from the gift, and from the Library's established collections, spanning Hirschfeld's miraculous career and offering an intimate look back at the origins of his wondrous, "unaccountable" line. Too often we take that legendary line for granted, looking for "Nina" while overlooking Hirschfeld's brilliant artistry. Beyond Broadway reemphasizes his professional roots and personal interests, putting his genius into context.

  thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!

 01:38 PM - link


Iraq: The ghost of Lebanon past

"What I saw from my perch in the Pentagon," wrote Colin Powell, a major general in 1982, in his memoirs about Washington's brief but disastrous sojourn in Lebanon 20 years ago, "was America sticking its hand into a thousand-year-old hornet's nest."

That memory undoubtedly fuels Powell's determination to fight off hardliners in the administration of President George W Bush who are equally determined to attack and occupy Iraq, even without United Nations or allied support, if necessary.

As pointed out recently by military analyst William Arkin in the Los Angeles Times, what happened in Lebanon 20 years ago may tell us a lot about the hopes, fears and delusions of US policymakers about what could happen in Iraq. Indeed, many of the people who applauded Israel's invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 and deplored the Reagan administration's decision to withdraw US peacekeepers after a series of deadly terrorist attacks are now arguing for an invasion of Iraq, and for many of the same reasons.

  thanks to Mother Jones

The Coming War With Iraq: Deciphering the Bush Administration's Motives

In their public pronouncements, President Bush and his associates have advanced three reasons for going to war with Iraq and ousting Saddam Hussein: (1) to eliminate Saddam's WMD arsenals; (2) to diminish the threat of international terrorism; and (3) to promote democracy in Iraq and the surrounding areas.

These are, indeed, powerful motives for going to war. But are they genuine? Is this what is really driving the rush to war? To answer this, we need to examine each motive in turn. In doing so, moreover, it is necessary to keep in mind that the United States cannot do everything. If we commit hundreds of thousands of American troops and hundreds of billions of dollars to the conquest, occupation, and reconstruction of Iraq, we cannot easily do the same in other countries--we simply don't have the resources to invade and occupy every country that poses a hypothetical threat to the United States or is deserving of regime change. So a decision to attack Iraq means a decision to refrain from other actions that might also be important for U.S. security or the good of the world.

  thanks to Mother Jones

France will not back U.S. attack

In unusually blunt terms aimed at pre-empting the United States, France said yesterday that it would not support any Security Council resolution for military action against Iraq in the coming weeks.

Preventing war
Millions rally against war -- can Bush juggernaut be contained?
by Geov Parrish

Subject: Flawed Report; Iraqi Warheads Found
by William Rivers Pitt

First things first: The warheads.

Let's be clear. These were not 'chemical warheads.' In the Iraqi arsenal, a warhead is a warhead - an empty ordnance space strapped to a missile. What matters is the payload, be it explosive or chemical or nuclear. The item placed in the warhead denotes the designation. These warheads were stone-cold empty, so by definition they are not 'chemical warheads.' They are, in fact, nothing, because they were loaded with no payload. Furthermore, the word 'warhead' is in itself misleading, as these were artillery munitions.

  thanks to Progressive Review

My favorite peace march picture (from Progressive Review):

 01:15 PM - link

war r us

American "Peace"

"The United States does not desire military conflict, because we know the awful nature of war. Our country values life, and we will never seek war unless it is essential to security and justice." - President George W. Bush, Radio Address to the Nation, October 5, 2002

While most people, including most Americans, tend to believe that the United States has largely been a peaceful country until recently, in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, the United States has been engaged in military operations for most of this country's history. Of all the things the United States can claim, it certainly has no claim to being a "peace loving" country. Below is a table containing every year, from 1776 to the present - all of US history. Just click on the year to see who US troops were killing, or threatening to kill, in that year.

  thanks to wood s lot

 12:58 PM - link

get your war on

At last! Another page from get your war on.

page eighteen


  thanks to thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse

 12:54 PM - link

affirmative action for white boys

How affirmative action helped George W.
By Michael Kinsley

George W. Bush is all for diversity, he explained last week, but he doesn't care for the way they do it at the University of Michigan. The Administration has asked the Supreme Court to rule the Michigan system unconstitutional because of the scoring method it uses for rating applicants.

"At the undergraduate level," said Bush, "African-American students and some Hispanic students and Native American students receive 20 points out of a maximum of 150, not because of any academic achievement or life experience, but solely because they are African American, Hispanic or Native American."

If our President had the slightest sense of irony, he might have paused to ask himself, "Wait a minute. How did I get into Yale?" It wasn't because of any academic achievement: his high school record was ordinary. It wasn't because of his life experience--prosperous family, fancy prep school--which was all too familiar at Yale. It wasn't his SAT scores: 566 verbal and 640 math.

They may not have had an explicit point system at Yale in 1964, but Bush clearly got in because of affirmative action. Affirmative action for the son and grandson of alumni. Affirmative action for a member of a politically influential family. Affirmative action for a boy from a fancy prep school. These forms of affirmative action still go on.

  thanks to BookNotes

 12:44 PM - link

death penalty

There's an interesting (unfortunately premium) article at Salon today on the myth of the death penalty's power to "heal" victims' families. A excerpt:

No psychological study has ever concluded that the death penalty brings "closure" to anyone except the person who dies, and there's circumstantial evidence that it can prolong the suffering of grieving families. That's why Bud Welch, an Oklahoma gas station owner who lost his 23-year-old daughter Julie in the Oklahoma City bombing, says, "George Ryan in Illinois did a tremendous service to the victims' family members, though they don't realize it. Now those people will understand that it's over with and they have to move forward."

 12:37 PM - link

automated wall art


Of course we did not call it Hektor from the beginning, it did not even have a shape, it was just an idea. There were dozens of decisions to take and problems to solve, but the basic idea was clear: Four step motors, mounted onto the wall in the four edges of a rectangle would move the can, which would be connected to the motors by something like robes, the motors functioning like winches. The can in the middle and the four robes connected to the motors would form an X, and when the can is moved by pulling or releasing each of the winches, this X is distorted.


  thanks to Riley Dog

 12:23 PM - link

health care

Health care hell
Trial lawyers, insurance companies play scapegoat for corrupt political system
by Molly Ivins

Bet you if I had a nickel for every time someone has started an article or a speech in past five years by saying, "The nation's health care system is facing a crisis," or, "Our health care system is falling apart," I would be a rich woman today.

I suppose I could come up with some dramatic metaphor for the crumbling, tottering, greed-rotted structure, but hey, why don't you check out your health insurance premiums and see how you're doing? Up by 12 percent, 22 percent, 40 percent?

Larger premiums, higher deductibles, increased payments for prescription drugs? Employer dropping your coverage? Are we having fun yet?

 12:11 PM - link


A Touch of Class
by Paul Krugman

A liberal and a conservative were sitting in a bar. Then Bill Gates walked in. "Hey, we're rich!" shouted the conservative. "The average person in this bar is now worth more than a billion!" "That's silly," replied the liberal. "Bill Gates raises the average, but that doesn't make you or me any richer." "Hah!" said the conservative, "I see you're still practicing the discredited politics of class warfare."

Am I caricaturing the debate? Alas, not at all. Whenever anyone points out the systematic tilt of the Bush administration toward the rich, the administration and its defenders immediately raise the cry of "class warfare." Yet when you look at the arguments the administration actually makes on behalf of its policy, they are as silly as that of the conservative in the bar. The difference is that the administration knows exactly what it's doing.

 12:02 PM - link


Jan Beran

Jan Beran was born on August 4, 1913 in Uhercice, in the Moravian region of Austria-Hungary, present-day Czech Republic.


  thanks to consumptive.org

witold riedel | catalogue | diptychs


  thanks to reenhead.com

Witold also has a blog.

 12:01 PM - link


US troops engage further in Colombia

The United States has deployed troops in eastern Colombia in an area rich of oil and widely seen as a stronghold of Marxist rebels.

US special forces have begun training Colombian troops in counter-insurgency techniques in the province of Arauca.

The army is trying to protect an oil pipeline which has been attacked 200 times in the last two years alone.

It is the first time the US military has been directly involved in Colombia's 39-year civil war.

Car Wars
The US Economy Needs Oil Like a Junkie Needs Heroin - And Iraq Will Supply Its Next Fix

War in Iraq is inevitable. That there would be war was decided by North American planners in the mid-1920s. That it would be in Iraq was decided much more recently. The architects of this war were not military planners but town planners. War is inevitable not because of weapons of mass destruction, as claimed by the political right, nor because of western imperialism, as claimed by the left. The cause of this war, and probably the one that will follow, is car dependence.

The US has paved itself into a corner. Its physical and economic infrastructure is so highly car dependent that the US is pathologically addicted to oil. Without billions of barrels of precious black sludge being pumped into the veins of its economy every year, the nation would experience painful and damaging withdrawal.

 11:35 AM - link



These pages provide samples of various natural sounds, promote nature recording and archiving, and provide a library of sounds that people can refer to when they hear something new.

  thanks to dublog

 11:21 AM - link


My daughter, Katie, sent this to me. I wonder what she is trying to tell me.

 11:04 AM - link

  Monday   January 20   2003

martin luther king

I have a dream

This will come as no surprise that I'm a proponent of Affirmative Action. However, lest you think I believe in Affirmative Action because I'm some kind of fuzzy headed 60's flower child liberal do-gooder with more ideals than sense, be aware that my interest in Affirmative Action is purely selfish in nature.

It is my opinion that while this nation is one where most of the wealth and power is held in the hands of one race, and one race alone, it will never be great. It can never hope to be great. It will always limp along in its own blind self-image of greatness, smug in the belief that great power deserves great respect; yet most of the people of this world, and too many in this country, see the United States as the ultimate hypocrite -- the land that calls itself equal when it is anything but.

  thanks to PageCount

Bush's strategy of racial innuendo a telling and troubling sign

Today our nation comes together as one family to celebrate the life and the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., America's greatest human rights advocate of the 20th century.

King sacrificed his life to tear down the political, legal, economic and social walls that divide us. Because of his sacrifice, our nation and our world are not the same as they were 30 years ago. The United States has become the most diverse, the most tolerant and the most accepting nation in the world. In the 35 years since King's death, we have made great strides toward his dream of a beloved community, a community that embraces the diversity of all people, a community at peace with itself.

Despite our progress, recent actions by our president and other national leaders are glaring reminders of how far we have to go to build a beloved community. Today, as we celebrate a man who sought to lead our nation so that he could unite it, we have a president who has been all too willing to divide our nation so that he can lead it.

  thanks to P.L.A. - A Journal of Politics, Law and Autism

The Martin Luther King You Don't See On TV

It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King's birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader."

The remarkable thing about this annual review of King's life is that several years -- his last years -- are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.

What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn't take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they're not shown today on TV.


It's because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.

  thanks to This Modern World

 01:11 PM - link


Tonight I send out another evening of live music (this means actual musicians) from my living room to the Internet and the speakers attached to your computer. Tonight we will feature singer/songwriter Lisa Toomey along with the TestingTesting House Band. Click on in at TestingTesting for our 7pm (pacific) show. Times in other time zones are at the TestingTesting web site.

 03:47 AM - link

war art


ANTI-WAR.US is dedicated to the free distribution of anti-war graphic material.


  thanks to American Samizdat

 03:30 AM - link


Russia leases nuclear bombers to India
£1.9bn arms deal to give India power of mass destruction across Pakistan and China

India last night signed a £1.9bn deal with Russia to lease four long-range nuclear bombers and two nuclear-capable submarines, in a move which campaigners say will dramatically escalate the arms race on the subcontinent.

On a visit to Moscow, India's defence minister, George Fernandes, said the agreement - which will also see Russia throw in an ageing aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov, for free - will be finalised by the end of March.

"We have agreed that all efforts will be made to complete the three contracts," Mr Fernandes said. India and Russia will also pump more money into a joint programme to develop a new long-range nuclear-capable cruise missile, the BrahMos, he revealed.

 03:27 AM - link

our flawed democracy

This will get you thinking differently about our perfect democracy.

What the Constitution gets wrong.

Even if it were true that the condition of being a citizen of a state with a small population entails such grievous disadvantages that, to correct for them, the very votes of such citizens must be assigned a greater weight than the votes of other Americans, how much is enough? Are the special needs of people who live in small states—people who can, after all, escape their condition by moving somewhere else—greater than the special needs of people who are short, or people who are disabled, or (more to the point of American history) people who are black? Here's a little thought experiment, inspired by Dahl's reflections. Imagine, if you can, that African-Americans were represented "fairly" in the Senate. They would then have twelve senators instead of, at present, zero, since black folk make up twelve per cent of the population. Now imagine that the descendants of slaves were afforded the compensatory treatment to which the Constitution entitles the residents of small states. Suppose, in other words, that African-Americans had as many senators to represent them as the Constitution allots to the twelve per cent of Americans who live in the least populous states. There would be forty-four black senators. How's that for affirmative action?

  thanks to Tapped

 03:24 AM - link


No 'smoking gun' needed in Iraq

United Nations weapons inspectors do not have to find a "smoking gun" proving Iraq has weapons of mass destruction to trigger war, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has reportedly warned.

"Persuasive evidence" that President Saddam Hussein has nuclear, biological or chemicals weapons may be enough to warrant military strikes by Britain and the US, he told the Sunday Telegraph.

Time for Decision on Iraq Is Nearing, White House Says

Top officials of the Bush administration today rejected calls for a prolonged inspections process in Iraq, asserting that the moment of decision was fast approaching on whether Saddam Hussein's regime had complied with the disarmament demands from United Nations Security Council.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that the decision on whether or not Iraq is cooperating with the United Nations, a determination that is generally regarded as a possible precursor to war, would be made "in a matter of weeks, not in months or years."

I guess this means that the charade of inspections is about over.

 03:13 AM - link

With millstones like these

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Israelis will next Tuesday elect the worst government in the history of the state. They will do so without being offered a political platform or a program for socio-economic renewal. The ruling party's leaders are making do with hollow slogans along the lines of "we'll continue fighting terror" and "painful concessions." They are even preparing the public for further cuts in the budget and more suffering for the poor, as if it were all by divine decree.

As Ramon was launched into space

Just ahead of Tu Bishvat, the Jewish arbor day celebrated yesterday, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture published figures on uprooting trees and the destruction of lands by the Israel Defense Forces in the current intifada: More than three-quarters of a million trees have been uprooted and more than 53,000 dunams have been flattened. Even if these figures are exaggerated, a brief tour around the territories suffices to reveal the extent of the destruction.

While Israeli children were planting saplings for the holiday, their big brothers were uprooting more and more trees, most of them olive and citrus trees that were the last source of livelihood for their owners. Did those who uprooted trees remember the Tu Bishvat plantings?

There is no sign that any of this is about to change in the near future. On the contrary. In the absence of any critical public attention and in view of the expected outcome of the elections, it appears that Israel will resort to even harsher measures. The Palestinians will increase the terror attacks, Israel will increase its bullying and no blue-and-white astronaut will be able to distract - for long - attention from the bloody results.

 03:12 AM - link

johnny cash

I don't have cable so I don't watch music videos. This doesn't seem to be a big loss, but for this one. Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nails. It's as if this song was written for him. The video is 42MB so it is not for the bandwidth challenged. Or maybe you've already seen it on cable. It blew me away.

by Johnny Cash


  thanks to MetaFilter

 02:58 AM - link

you know things are getting out of hand when safire agrees with you

On Media Giantism

You won't find a movie nominated for an Oscar with the heroine — fighting to expose the dominance of media conglomerates in the distribution of entertainment — crushed by the giant corporation that controls film financing, distribution and media criticism.

You won't find television magazine programs fearlessly exposing the broadcast lobby's pressure on Congress and the courts to allow station owners to gobble up more stations and cross-own local newspapers, thereby to determine what information residents of a local market receive.

Nor will you find many newspaper chains assigning reporters to reveal the effect of media giantism on local coverage or cover the way publishers induce coverage-hungry politicians to loosen antitrust restraints.


 02:50 AM - link

american empire

Hegemon Down

Among the many risks President Bush is taking in his relentless drive against Saddam Hussein is what theorists call "imperial overreach": the specter of draining American global power suddenly and irrevocably. A war that goes badly – with high casualties, spiking oil prices, Arab and Muslim unrest, and so on – would invite the view that Bush had miscalculated and that the shine was off the American apple.

But now we're seeing signs of this possible decline before the expected assault on Baghdad. The president may have tacitly acknowledged this as well as he backs away from confrontation, not in Iraq but in North Korea.

 02:47 AM - link


Read this and then look at some of the systems around us — such as our current system of government, for example.

Dancing with Systems
What to do when systems resist changexk.

People who are raised in the industrial world and who get enthused about systems thinking are likely to make a terrible mistake. They are likely to assume that here, in systems analysis, in interconnection and complication, in the power of the computer, here at last, is the key to prediction and control. This mistake is likely because the mindset of the industrial world assumes that there is a key to prediction and control. (...)

We can't control systems or figure them out. But we can dance with them! I already knew that, in a way before I began to study systems. I had learned about dancing with great powers from whitewater kayaking, from gardening, from playing music, from skiing. All those endeavors require one to stay wide awake, pay close attention, participate flat out, and respond to feedback. It had never occurred to me that those same requirements might apply to intellectual work, to management, to government, to getting along with people.

But there it was, the message emerging from every computer model we made. Living successfully in a world of systems requires more of us than our ability to calculate. It requires our full humanity—our rationality, our ability to sort out truth from falsehood, our intuition, our compassion, our vision, and our morality.

  thanks to MetaFilter

 02:45 AM - link

early digital art

Digital Mona Lisa

Digital Mona Lisa is an extraordinary example of computer graphics from a bygone digital time. This image represents state of the art computer graphic rendering for the time of it's creation, 1965. The condition is outstanding and of museum quality.


  thanks to boingboing

 02:42 AM - link

urinal interface design

Fly UI

I have seen one of the finest instances of user interface design ever, and I saw it in the men's room at Schipol airport in Amsterdam.

  thanks to MetaFilter

 02:37 AM - link

maybe the telephone company is trying to tell them something?

666 telephone prefix has ungodly ring at Bible college

A small Appalachian Bible college is fighting to change its telephone number because the 666 prefix is disturbing to Christians who recognize it as the biblical mark of the beast.

 02:29 AM - link