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  Thursday   April 1   2004

iraq — vietnam on internet time

Tales from Abu Ghraib...

On a cold night in November, M., her mother, and four brothers had been sleeping when their door suddenly came crashing down during the early hours of the morning. The scene that followed was one of chaos and confusion… screaming, shouting, cursing, pushing and pulling followed. The family were all gathered into the living room and the four sons- one of them only 15- were dragged away with bags over their heads. The mother and daughter were questioned- who was the man in the picture hanging on the wall? He was M.'s father who had died 6 years ago of a stroke. You're lying, they were told- wasn't he a part of some secret underground resistance cell? M.'s mother was hysterical by then- he was her dead husband and why were they taking away her sons? What had they done? They were supporting the resistance, came the answer through the interpreter.

How were they supporting the resistance, their mother wanted to know? "You are contributing large sums of money to terrorists." The interpreter explained. The troops had received an anonymous tip that M.'s family were giving funds to support attacks on the troops.

It was useless trying to explain that the family didn't have any 'funds'- ever since two of her sons lost their jobs at a factory that had closed down after the war, the family had been living off of the little money they got from a 'kushuk' or little shop that sold cigarettes, biscuits and candy to people in the neighborhood. They barely made enough to cover the cost of food! Nothing mattered. The mother and daughter were also taken away, with bags over their heads.

Abu Hassen was contacted by M. and her uncle because he was an old family friend and was willing to do the work free of charge. They have been trying to get her brothers and mother out ever since. I was enraged- why don't they contact the press? Why don't they contact the Red Cross?! What were they waiting for?! She shook her head sadly and said that they *had* contacted the Red Cross but they were just one case in thousands upon thousands- it would take forever to get to them. As for the press- was I crazy? How could she contact the press and risk the wrath of the American authorities while her mother and brothers were still imprisoned?! There were prisoners who had already gotten up to 15 years of prison for 'acting against the coallition'... she couldn't risk that. They would just have to be patient and do a lot of praying.

By the end of her tale, M. was crying silently and my mother and Umm Hassen were hastily wiping away tears. All I could do was repeat, "I'm so sorry... I'm really sorry..." and a lot of other useless words. She shook her head and waved away my words of sympathy, "It's ok- really- I'm one of the lucky ones... all they did was beat me."


U.S. Optimism Is Tested Again After Ambush Kills 4 in Iraq

Hours after the deaths of the four American civilians who were dragged from their vehicle and mutilated in Falluja on Wednesday, an American general went before reporters in Baghdad with the air of measured assurance that has characterized every daily briefing on the military situation across Iraq.

"Despite an uptick in local engagements, the overall area of operations remains relatively stable with negligible impact on the coalition's ability to continue progress in governance, economic development, and restoration of essential services," said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, 51, the former paratrooper who is chief spokesman for the United States military command.

Nearly a year into the insurgency, the command, in lock step with the civilian administration headed by L. Paul Bremer III, remains relentlessly positive.

But along with the publicly expressed confidence, there are hints that American generals are not as sure as they were only weeks ago that they have turned a corner in the conflict. Nor do the scenes from Falluja on Wednesday — Iraqis mutilating American bodies, and crowds cheering at the sight — appear to fit the theory put forward by the American military that Islamic militants, including foreigners, rather than Iraqi supporters of Saddam Hussein, are increasingly behind terrorist attacks. Falluja, 30 miles west of Baghdad, has been the volatile center of support for the toppled dictator, and a bellwether of the wider war.

Falluja, relatively quiet in recent months, has become a major battleground again as the First Marine Expeditionary Force, replacing the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, has sent large troop formations into the city to challenge insurgents who had taken control of entire neighborhoods. This reversed the airborne division's policy of leaving security in the city mainly to Iraqi police and civil defense units, and led last week to several pitched battles in which at least three marines and 30 Iraqis died.


This isn't about testing U.S. optimism. It's about testing U.S. delusion. The U.S. breaks into houses, imprisons innocent Iraqis, and kills Iraqis on a daily basis. And they wonder why they hate us?

Strange Fruit

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that if took, oh, maybe twenty nanoseconds for our conservative culture warriors to work themselves into a genocidal frenzy over today's atrocities in Fallujah. Actually, the big surprise is that it took them that long.

Suddenly, our little brown brothers -- last seen throwing imaginary rose petals at American tanks -- don't seem quite as worthy of their glorious liberation. Instead of echoing their war leader's ringing phrases -- of a freedom that is "God's gift to every man and woman who lives in this world," or an America that stands "with the Iraqi people, the brave Iraqi people" -- our stalwart crusaders for freedom are now consoling themselves with revenge fantasies:

"Bomb the shit out of them."

"Send in the firing squad and take them all out. Time to show them that we will not tollerate islamic militants!"

"Napalm the 'celebrants'. Then we could be treated to film of animated flaming *holes."

"Honestly, I say you drop a daisy-cutter on both Fallujah and Mecca. All this nonsense would end in 24 hours."

There's plenty more where that came from, but you get the idea.

What a difference a year -- and the disastrous occupation of a troubled Middle Eastern country -- can make.

Barbarous Savages

However, it shouldn't be necessary -- but apparently is -- to point out that the destruction and, yes, savage mutilation of other human beings isn't a uniquely Iraqi, or Arab or Islamic spectator sport. And we don't need to visit the killing fields of Bosnia or El Salvador to find the proof. It's tucked away in the attic of our own national memory. And it isn't all that dusty, either:


 11:41 AM - link


Raj Naik


  thanks to Conscientious

 10:24 AM - link

co-president cheney

It was the summer before the last presidential elections and I was channel surfing. I came across All the President's Men. It was scary reliving those times of Watergate and excessive presidential power. I was glad I didn't have to worry about that anymore. Little was I to suspect. By the way, John Dean was on of the President's men.

Creepier than Nixon
The man who brought down Richard Nixon says Bush and "co-president" Cheney are an even greater threat to the country.

As Richard Nixon's White House counsel during the Watergate scandal, John Dean famously warned his boss that there was "a cancer on the presidency" that would bring down the administration unless Nixon came clean. In his new book, "Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush," Dean warns the country that the Bush administration is even more secretive and authoritarian than Nixon's -- in fact, he writes, it's "the most secretive presidency of my lifetime."

"To say that the [Bush-Cheney] secret presidency is undemocratic is an understatement," he adds. "I'm anything but skittish about government, but I must say this administration is truly scary and, given the times we live in, frighteningly dangerous."

Do you feel the vice president has, after more than three years of secretive governing from an undisclosed location, become a political liability to the president? How likely is it that Bush will drop him from the ticket this year?

Dick Cheney is a political disaster awaiting recognition. In the book, I set forth a relatively long list of inchoate scandals, not to mention problems worse than scandals. They all involve Cheney in varying degrees. Bush can't dump Cheney, for it is Cheney, not Rove, who is Bush's backroom brain. He is actually a co-president. Bush doesn't enjoy studying and devising policy. Cheney does. While Cheney has tutored Bush for almost four years, and Bush is better prepared today than when he entered the job, Cheney is quietly guiding this administration. Cheney knows how to play Bush so that Cheney is absolutely no threat to him, makes him feel he is president, but Bush can't function without a script, or without Cheney. Bush is head of state; Cheney is head of government.


Talking Points Memo

I am a little surprised that the White House's new insistence on a joint private meeting with President Bush and Vice President Cheney hasn't elicited more notice.

The third explanation is that the White House does not trust the president to be alone with the Commission members for any great length of time without getting himself into trouble, either by contradicting what his staff says, or getting some key point wrong, or letting some key fact slip. And Cheney's there to make sure nothing goes wrong.

These last two possibilities do, I grant you, paint the president and his White House in a rather dark light. But I would be curious if anyone can come up with another explanation for this odd demand.


The following piece should be titled Condi Rice and the Great Cheney Power Grab

Condi Rice and the Great Bush Power Grab

It's hard to tell whether the White House is simply playing a kind of shell game, but it's clear that a larger agenda beyond even covering up its failures to protect the nation from terrorist attacks is at play in the refusal to let National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice testify under oath before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.

Closer examination, in fact, reveals that the agenda at work is an unprecedented expansion of presidential powers, so that it becomes in effect unanswerable to any power other than the voters every four years.


 10:19 AM - link


This was linked to, at Conscientious, some time back. Unfortunately, the traffic exceeded site quotas and then she took the site down for rework. Fortunately, it's back up with new pictures and the old pictures are better done.

my rides through chernobyl area

road on Chernobyl

Time to fill bike with fuel and open throttle, we are on best road in this area, this one lead from big egg to Chernobyl. There is no commercial gas stations in a dead zone, so tank must be full. We don't need to run out of fuel on the middle of some nuclear desert.


 09:57 AM - link

war against some terrorists

I had a slew of links I was going to post on this Monday morning only to wake up to a dead hard drive. I lost those links but I happy to report that there are many new links on this.

Talking Points Memo

Sometimes a poetic truth captures only ... well, only the poetic truth. And then sometimes a poetic truth turns out to be the real thing.

We've been describing for some days now the backdrop -- well-known then but somehow forgotten -- to Richard Clarke's accusations against the Bush administration. Namely, the fact that the Bush administration came to office with a fundamentally flawed conception of the threats facing the United States.

Transnational terrorist groups were almost off the radar. The real near-term threats were rogue states which could hit the US with WMD-bearing ICBMs -- longer-term the threat was China. And thus the centerpiece of our new national security strategy -- and the target of the biggest funding -- would be national missile defense.

Now in a front page piece in Thursday's Washington Post we learn that on September 11th, 2001 Condi Rice was scheduled to deliver a major foreign policy address on missile defense as the centerpiece of a new strategy to combat "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday."

Then reality intruded.


Terrorists Don't Need States
The danger is less that a state will sponsor a terror group and more that a terror group will sponsor a state—as happened in Afghanistan

Stepping away from the partisan screaming going on these days, the 9/11 commission hearings and—far more revealing—the panel's staff reports paint a fascinating picture of the rise of a new phenomenon in global politics: terrorism that is not state-sponsored but society-sponsored. Few in the American government fully grasped that a group of people without a state's support could pose a mortal threat. The mistake looks obvious in hindsight, but was, sadly, understandable at the time of 9/11. What is less understandable is that this same error persists even today.


 09:45 AM - link

art spiegelman

Art Spiegelman is back. If you haven't read Maus, do so right now. And he has a new book coming out.

Of mice and men

Winning a Pulitzer Prize for a comic was a rarity. But then so was a comic that started with a quote from Adolf Hitler: "The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human."

Art Spiegelman pulled no punches in his harrowing account of his father's experiences as a prisoner of war in World War II. He is equally ruthless in the graphic novel depicting his relationship with his father. MAUS, published in 1973, leaps between Poland during the war to Rego Park, New York, as Spiegelman struggles to reconcile his parents' history and his own Jewish background. His Jewish characters are depicted as mice and the Nazis as cats, and the result is suitably chilling. The original artworks from MAUS are on show at the Jewish Museum.

In 1992 the Pulitzer Prize board created a special category to honour Spiegelman and the two volumes of the story: MAUS, A Survivor's Tale I: My Father Bleeds History and MAUS, A Survivor's Tale II: And Here My Troubles Begin. The New York Times Book Review described the works as "a remarkable feat of documentary detail and novelistic vividness".

Spiegelman's role as a staffer at the magazine became decidedly precarious when the editors saw the working drawings for his new book, In The Shadow of No Towers, which illustrates his emotional and political confusion since September 11.

"The work is on my feelings towards the hijacking and then the hijacking of the hijacking by the Government. I'm not so sure The New Yorker is being complacent. I'm sure I'd be welcomed back once I had found the right medication."

Spiegelman's new book is sure to cause as much, if not more, ruckus as MAUS. It depicts a government out of control, or, more chillingly, totally in control. "They had an agenda already on their mind before September 11," he says. "Drying up funds for health and education and moving the funds upward to the rich, all made more implementable by the war in Iraq."


  thanks to follow me here...

The New Normal



Here are a couple more teasers for The Shadow of No Towers.

'In the Shadow of No Towers', episodes 1 & 2

'In the Shadow of No Towers', episode 3

The Shadow of No Towers will be released September 7. Until then, you can get caught up with...

 09:25 AM - link

Killing Yassin saved Sharon
By Akiva Eldar

Presumably, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon examined the intelligence assessments on Palestinian society when he asked the security cabinet to approve the execution of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, so Sharon knew that by doing so he was sealing the fate of a few dozen Israelis. No intelligence officer on the Palestinian desk who was following the mood in the streets of Gaza and Nablus was predicting that the day after the eradication of the Hamas leader, the streets of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem will be safer. Government spokesman can say that getting rid of Yassin prevented a "mega attack." Do a thousand Israelis have to die in one day, for a terror attack to get the title "mega attack?" Are 1,000 fatalities over 40 months "mega terror?"

If there's ever a commission of inquiry into the way the decisions were made, Sharon will find it difficult to present a single document that gave him reason to believe that killing the most admired man in the territories would save even one Israeli. On the assumption that investigators will find their way to the proper people among the Military Intelligence Research Department officers or veterans of the unit, they'll hear that the experts warned that Yassin's heir will be even more extreme than he was.


UN 'stopping food aid to Gaza'
Food deliveries to the Gaza Strip will be halted this week because of Israeli restrictions, the United Nations said.

  thanks to Politics in the Zeros

Israel: Suicide Nation?
The Demented Logic of the Occupation

Politics, being the art of deception, must certainly recognize Israel as its Da Vinci. Its smug self-portrait as a 'civilized democracy', rendered with brushes dipped deeply in the oil paint of antipathy for Arabs, has won much admiration among impressionable Americans. Galvanizing and amplifying latent Western hatred of Muslim Arabs in order to rally the West under the banner of 'Judeo-Christian civilization', and intimidating doubters by abusing the memory of the Holocaust to claim special 'unique victim' status, Israel intones, 'Stand with us because we are white and bomb towel-heads in F-16s just as you do, and don't dare stand against us because you once persecuted our forefathers and should atone for your sins--by abetting ours.'

The result of this most cynical ploy is that the Palestinians, dark-skinned victims of Israel's perpetual campaign of ethnic cleansing, torture, theft, and humiliation, are always grotesquely caricatured as mindless savages with a fetish for suicide attacks. There is, however, one major credibility problem with this racist rhetoric: Israel itself is in the process of committing suicide.


 01:51 AM - link

bicycle art

If you think I'm getting carried away with my fixie project — check this out. This was a recent posting at Fixed Gear Gallery.

Suzy Jackson's Little Fish

Just thought I’d drop in a couple of photos of my new fixed gear bicycle. I caught the bug mid way through last year, by converting an old road bike. I decided that I’d really like to have a purpose built gixed gear frame, and further that it would be extra neat to build it myself.
So after a good few months of patiently filing and brazing a collection of Columbus tubes, then another saga painting and decorating it, I can present my new bike.


Not only does she build a silver soldered lugged steel frame, but she even made the decals. Beautiful bike!

Bicycle frame building for the rest of us.

Bicycle frame building has a reputation as being an arcane art; something that's practiced by wizened old Jedi masters, or else carried out by huge, complicated robots in Taiwan, attended by a small army of engineers, technicians, and metallurgists. This isn't so. Frame building is a craft like any other, with simple, consistent rules that mere mortals can master fairly easily.

I've been a cycling nut since age four. I've assembled a few bikes from individual components, laced a couple of dozen wheels, and figured that building my own frame was the next logical challenge. Now that it's pretty much done, I thought I'd share my experiences, as there wasn't a raft of information available when I started my research.


 01:36 AM - link


Sewerage and fertilisers 'are killing the seas'
Marine life is being suffocated, UN warns

Last summer every sea creature across an area twice the size of Wales was asphyxiated by severely depleted oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico. The same phenomenon, the marine equivalent of the ozone hole, happened off South America, China, Japan, south-east Australia, New Zealand, and up to 150 other places.

A United Nations agency warned yesterday that the number of these "dead zones", caused mainly by the run-off of nitrogen fertilisers from intensive farming and sewerage from large cities, had doubled in the past 15 years and was increasing all over the world.

In a new report, the UN environment programme said that 150 sea areas were now regularly starved of oxygen and were becoming major threats to already declining fish stocks, including those in Europe, where areas of the Baltic Sea were lifeless for several months, as were parts of the Irish Sea and the Adriatic.

The Black Sea - the largest and oldest "dead zone" in the world - supported only a few bacteria to a depth of 150 metres.

"Humankind is engaged in a gigantic, global, experiment as a result of the inefficient and often over-use of fertilisers, the discharge of untreated sewage and the ever rising emissions from vehicles and factories," said Klaus Toepfer, the UN environment programme (UNEP) director. "The nitrogen and phosphorous from these sources are being discharged into rivers and the coastal environment or being deposited from the atmosphere, triggering these alarming and sometimes irreversible effects."


 01:20 AM - link


The Early Photography of Ed Westcott
From the Manhattan Project to the Cold War: 1942-1959

Patriotic War Billboard
Oak Ridge, Tennessee


  thanks to consumptive.org

 12:39 AM - link

new drive

Most everything is reloaded on the new hard drive. I was a little behind on my backup, but I didn't loose much. My email and bookmarks are gone. Somehow I think I will have a whole lot of both before long. Still trying to find a serial number for some shareware. I hadn't realized how much I had changed defaults on some software. For the last couple of days, every time I tried to do something, I had to reload something. At least I now have a nice clean hard drive.

 12:30 AM - link

  Tuesday   March 30   2004

dead drive

I woke up Monday morning to a dead hard drive. Not the way to start the week. I finally got back online this afternoon. 28 hours, 37 minutes, and 12 seconds without Internet access. But who's counting? Things might be a little slow until I get everything reloaded.

 03:21 PM - link

  Monday   March 29   2004


Prince Hassan Warns of World War III

Prince Hassan of Jordan has expressed fears that the current Middle East crisis may eventuate in "World War III." He points to the Israeli murder of Sheikh Yassin, the renewed tensions between Hizbullah and Israel, the possibility of Syria and Iran being drawn in, and the general repercussions on countries in the region (Jordan's population is about half Palestinian). He said that extremist voices in the region were rising, and that states were increasingly acting extra-legally.

Hassan has been angling for the vacant throne of Iraq, but appears to have lost out, since the interim constitution specifies that the country is a republic. It is hard to see his speech as any sort of continued campaigning for the job. Rather, it is more likely that he recognizes that the opportunity has passed, and he is free to speak his mind.

Hassan is no radical, and that he is speaking so apocalyptically shows the mood among some in the Arab elite. I don't take it as a good sign.


 02:58 AM - link


Tren Blanco
The train of cardboard-pickers


 02:55 AM - link

$ vs €

Oil, Currency and the War on Iraq


It will not come as news to anyone that the US dominates the world economically and militarily. But the exact mechanisms by which American hegemony has been established and maintained are perhaps less well understood than they might be. One tool used to great effect has been the dollar, but its efficacy has recently been under threat since Europe introduced the euro.

The dollar is the de facto world reserve currency: the US currency accounts for approximately two thirds of all official exchange reserves. More than four-fifths of all foreign exchange transactions and half of all world exports are denominated in dollars. In addition, all IMF loans are denominated in dollars.

But the more dollars there are circulating outside the US, or invested by foreign owners in American assets, the more the rest of the world has had to provide the US with goods and services in exchange for these dollars. The dollars cost the US next to nothing to produce, so the fact that the world uses the currency in this way means that the US is importing vast quantities of goods and services virtually for free.

Since so many foreign-owned dollars are not spent on American goods and services, the US is able to run a huge trade deficit year after year without apparently any major economic consequences. The most recently published figures, for example, show that in November of last year US imports were worth 48% more than US exports1. No other country can run such a large trade deficit with impunity. The financial media tell us the US is acting as the 'consumer of last resort' and the implication is that we should be thankful, but a more enlightening description of this state of affairs would be to say that it is getting a massive interest-free loan from the rest of the world.

While the US' position may seem inviolable, one should remember that the more you have, the more you have to lose. And recently there have been signs of how, for the first time in a long time, the US may be beginning to lose.


 02:50 AM - link


Elefanten in Zoo und Zirkus


  thanks to The Cartoonist

 02:47 AM - link


Say Bye-Bye to Cheap Oil
Surplus capacity is history. The jolts will start with $3 gas pump prices.


For the tens of millions of American motorists patiently waiting for gas prices to come back to Earth, the news from the oil markets is not encouraging.

For the last year, government forecasters have reassured us that the unusually high oil prices we've seen since 2002 — around $30 a barrel — were temporary: As soon as global markets recovered from the mess in Iraq, oil prices would drop and gasoline prices would eventually follow.

Yet nearly 12 months after "victory" in Iraq, oil prices are at an eye-popping $38 a barrel, or about $15 above the two-decade average, and some forecasters are now offering a far less sanguine prognosis: Not only will oil stay high through 2005, but the days of cheap crude are history. These aren't exactly glad tidings for a global economy designed to run on low-priced oil, nor for a White House that gambled it could deliver low oil prices with a mix of diplomatic muscle and market liberalization.

What happened? In simplest terms, what we're seeing are the final months of a 25-year oil boom. That boom was sparked by the oil shocks of the 1970s, when sky-high prices touched off a feeding frenzy among oil producers. Eager to cash in on the good prices, oil companies and oil-rich states drilled thousands of new wells, built massive pipelines, developed fantastic exploration and production technologies and generally expanded their capacity to find and pump oil.


 02:31 AM - link


by Liz Darlington


 02:28 AM - link


A new biography of Woody Guthrie.


The folksinger Arlo Guthrie likes to tell a story about his father, the legendary Woody Guthrie, who died in 1967, at the age of fifty-five. When he was a toddler, Arlo says, Guthrie gave him a Gibson acoustic guitar for his birthday. Several years later, when the boy was old enough to hold it, Guthrie sat him down in the back yard of their house—they lived in Howard Beach, Queens—and taught him all the words to “This Land Is Your Land,” a song that most people likely think they know in full. The lyrics had been written in anger, as a response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” which Woody Guthrie deplored as treacle. In addition to the familiar stanzas (“As I went walking that ribbon of highway,” and so on), Guthrie had composed a couple of others, including this:

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief Office I saw my people—
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
God Blessed America for me.

“He wanted me to know what he originally wrote, so it wouldn’t be forgotten,” Arlo Guthrie has explained.

Like the defiant, vaguely socialistic original words to his best-known song, much of what Woody Guthrie was and did during his lifetime has been forgotten, supplanted by the stuff of nostalgic sentiment. “This Land Is Your Land,” purged of its earthy contrarianism, shows up with “God Bless America” on albums of patriotic music and in concerts by pops orchestras that accompany the fireworks on the Fourth of July, and its author’s face has been put on a United States postage stamp. Woody Guthrie, a contradictory man who vexed his family and his closest friends as much as he challenged the authorities—“I can’t stand him when he’s around,” Pete Seeger, his friend and also a bandmate for a time, once said, “but I miss him when he’s gone”—scarcely registers as a creature of human dimension. In the popular imagination, where he endures, more than half a century after his creative prime as a writer and singer, Guthrie seems more like Gypsy Davy, Rocky Mountain Slim, and other colorful folk heroes of the songs he sang. He functions as the embodiment of gritty American authenticity, the plainspoken voice of a romanticized heartland.

Guthrie was never really so authentic, as Ed Cray shows in “Ramblin’ Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie” (Norton; $29.95), a work of tempered debunking that is the first notable Guthrie biography since Joe Klein’s “Woody Guthrie: A Life,” which started unravelling the lore in 1980.


  thanks to wood s lot

 02:25 AM - link

pinhole photography

Dianne Bos


  thanks to Coincidences

 02:19 AM - link


Mean Genes



Scientists in the current issue of the journal Nurture announced the discovery that affiliation with the Republican Party is genetically determined. This caused uproar among traditionalists who believe it is a chosen lifestyle.

Reports of the gene coding for political conservatism, discovered after a decades-long study of quintuplets in Orange County, CA, have sent shock waves through the medical, political, and golfing communities.

Psychologists and psychoanalysts have long believed that Republicans’ unnatural disregard for the poor and frequently unconstitutional tendencies resulted from dysfunctional family dynamics — a remarkably high percentage of Republicans do have authoritarian domineering fathers and emotionally distant mothers who didn’t teach them how to be kind and gentle.

Biologists, however, have long suspected that conservatism is inherited. “After all,” said one author of the Nurture article, “It’s quite common for a Republican to have a brother or sister who is a Republican.” The finding has been greeted with relief by Parents and Friends of Republicans (PFREP), who sometimes blame themselves for the political views of otherwise lovable children, family, and unindicted co-conspirators.

One mother, a longtime Democrat, wept and clapped her hands in ecstasy on hearing of the findings. “I just knew it was genetic,” she said, seated With her two sons, both avowed Republicans. “My boys would never freely Choose that lifestyle!”


Republicans under investigation


For the record, there are no high profile investigations of any Democrats right now. Too bad the same can't be said about Republicans. In no particular order:

The Senate's top cop investigated Republican hacking of Democratic accounts and theft of thousands of documents. After finding probable cause for wrongdoing, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended the Justice Department undertake its own criminal probe.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are both investigating intelligence lapses heading up to the Iraq War.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating Bush's pre-war lies about Iraq's WMDs and ties to al Qaida.

Rove, Cheney's entire political team and others are being investigated by a Justice Department special prosecutor for leaking the name of a covert CIA agent (Plame) to discredit her husband -- a critic of the administration's trumped up charges that Iraq was seeking nuclear material in Niger.

Can anyone forget the 9-11 commission?


 02:06 AM - link

bondo and bikes

The fixie project bike has been coming along slowly. Reality, work, and planning for my upcoming trip have been getting in the way. I did finish filling in some holes, though.

There were two little holes in the head tube that contained the rivets that held on the Nishiki emblem. It wouldn't do to leave those there.

There was also the hole that the rear brake used. Since this bike won't have a rear brake, there would be an empty hole. Leaving the hole empty is the common solution, but that really bothers me.

This is where the miracle of bondo comes in. Bondo is actually one of those brand names that gets used generically. What we are talking about is auto body filler. It goes by many names and you can get it in any auto parts store. It's great for filling in holes. It comes in two parts — body filler and cream hardener. You make a blob of the body filler and then put a little dab of the cream hardener on it. You don't need much. The more you put on the faster it hardens but it will be softer. A small amount will take longer to go off and will be harder. It's not critical for this application.

Then you mix it real well. You have about three to five minutes before it starts to harden. Be sure to breathe deeply at this point. Smells wonderful.

You might have to put a couple of layers on. It will shrink some. I used emery cloth to sand it down and now that which wasn't, is no more.

Now to hit the rust spots with the emery cloth and then wet sand the frame for painting.

 02:05 AM - link

watergate redux

Historian: Kerry FBI files stolen
FBI documents about FBI surveillance of John Kerry in the early 1970s have been stolen, according to their owner, a historian who lives near San Francisco, California.


Gerald Nicosia, who spent more than a decade collecting the information, said three of 14 boxes of documents plus a number of loose folders containing hundreds of pages were stolen from his home Thursday afternoon.

Nicosia reported the theft Friday to the Twin Cities Police Department, which covers Larkspur and Corte Madera in Marin County, where he lives. The police report found no sign of forced entry.

"It was a very clean burglary. They didn't break any glass. They didn't take anything like cameras sitting by. It was a very professional job," Nicosia said.

"Was it a thrill-seeker who wanted a piece of history? It could be," Nicosia said. "You'd think there was a very strong political motivation for taking those files. The odds are in favor of that."



  thanks to Counterspin Central

You'd think the Republicans would learn.

 01:20 AM - link

gordy's going to the big city

My trip back east is firming up. As I've mentioned before, I've been planning a trip to the wrong Washington (D.C.) and New York City. The primary reason is to photograph my grandfather's paintings at the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C., and to see some of the sites in New York City where my father grew up.

My sister, Madelane, and I will be flying out of SeaTac on a red-eye special the night of April 20 and getting into Baltimore The morning of the 21st. Saturday, the 24th, we will take the train to NYC and stay there until Wednesday the 28th. We haven't firmed up lodging in Washington, D.C., yet. We do have a hotel picked out in New York. We plan on staying in Greenwich Village. It's only a block from my grandfather's studio on West Eleventh Street and about 2 1/2 blocks from The Village Vanguard.

The studio light, for copying Griffs paintings, should arrive Tuesday. I will be reporting on that. Madelane should be making reservations for our stay in NYC today. Any suggestions on where to stay in Washington, D.C.? It needs to be inexpensive and not require a car. And not be too exciting.

 01:03 AM - link