Strange Weather Lately
First things first: I want it clearly understood that this mustache I’m wearing is my father’s mustache. I should have brought his photograph. My big brother Bernie, now dead, a physical chemist who discovered that silver iodide can sometimes make it snow or rain, he wore it, too.
Speaking of weather: Mark Twain said some readers complained that there wasn’t enough weather in his stories. So he wrote some weather, which they could insert wherever they thought it would help some.
Mark Twain was said to have shed a tear of gratitude and incredulousness when honored for his writing by Oxford University in England. And I should shed a tear, surely, having been asked at the age of 80, and because of what I myself have written, to speak under the auspices of the sacred Mark Twain House here in Hartford.
What other American landmark is as sacred to me as the Mark Twain House? The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln were country boys from Middle America, and both of them made the American people laugh at themselves and appreciate really important, really moral jokes.
Kiss My Split Tongue
Oh right. Like this is anything shocking or appalling or new.
Like having a professional piercer and bod-mod expert who is not really a doctor heat up a scalpel with a blowtorch and carefully slice through the tip of your tongue to give you that serpentine lisping goth lizard demon look is something we should right now be all appalled and disgusted and icked out by. Apparently, some lawmakers are. Should we be?
We who know that right this minute, clusters of heavily shellacked overly pampered women are gathering in peach-colored Ethan Allen living rooms to pay 500 bucks a pop to have their faces injected with botulinum toxin and have the nerves in their foreheads paralyzed and their lips fattened up with collagen?
We who know that right this minute, thousands of long clear plastic tubes are being jammed into 10,000 guts and 1 million flabby thighs per year to suck out 10 million gallons of gelatinous human fat? Fat that is apparently just too damn difficult to eliminate by eating healthy and exercising and caring about your body so what the hell, just slice it open and crank up the vacuum?
Penis extensions and butt implants and pec implants and calf implants and chin implants and cheek implants and eyelid slicings and nose smashings and chemical peels and enough silicone pumped into enough pneumatic boobs to fill Lake Michigan, and tongue splitting might be considered what, mutilation? Hmm.
BushCo Reams Nation Good
Ha-ha-ha oh man did we ever get smacked on that one. Conned big time. Punk'd like dogs. Just gotta shake your head, laugh it off. They reamed us but good, baby! Damn.
Turns out it really was all a big joke after all. The war, that is. All a big fat nasty murderous oil-licking lie, a sneaky little power-mad game with you as the sucker and the world as the pawn and BushCo as the slithery war thug, the dungeon master, the prison daddy. You really have to laugh. Because it's just so wonderfully ridiculous. In a rather disgusting, soul-draining sort of way.
See, there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. No WMDs at all. Isn't that great? What's more: There never were. Ha-ha-ha. Gotcha!
Remains of Toxic Bullets Litter Iraq
At a roadside produce stand on the outskirts of Baghdad, business is brisk for Latifa Khalaf Hamid. Iraqi drivers pull up and snap up fresh bunches of parsley, mint leaves, dill, and onion stalks.
But Ms. Hamid's stand is just four paces away from a burnt-out Iraqi tank, destroyed by - and contaminated with - controversial American depleted-uranium (DU) bullets. Local children play "throughout the day" on the tank, Hamid says, and on another one across the road.
No one has warned the vendor in the faded, threadbare black gown to keep the toxic and radioactive dust off her produce. The children haven't been told not to play with the radioactive debris. They gather around as a Geiger counter carried by a visiting reporter starts singing when it nears a DU bullet fragment no bigger than a pencil eraser. It registers nearly 1,000 times normal background radiation levels on the digital readout.
thanks to Geisha asobi blog
In 2000, President Clinton could legitimately boast of the “best economy in 30 years.” Unemployment was low, wages were rising at all income levels, and the poverty rate was headed downward at a rapid pace. But after President Bush took office in 2001, the economy fell into recession, shedding jobs and causing real wage growth to slow and eventually stop altogether.
A convenient story explains this sharp economic reversal. According to the script, Clinton eliminated the deficit through progressive tax increases and spending restraint. This deficit reduction lowered interest rates and spurred an investment boom, which was the basis for the extraordinary growth of the late ’90s. Then Bush came into office and quickly squandered the surplus with his tax cuts to the rich and military build-up. As a result, the deficit skyrocketed and the economy tanked.
It’s a good story, but the reality is quite different. The Clinton boom was built on three unsustainable bubbles. One of them, the stock bubble, has already burst. The other two bubbles—the dollar bubble and the housing bubble—are still with us. The dollar bubble is starting to deflate, and the housing bubble is perhaps just now reaching its peak. These bubbles created the basis for the 2001 recession and the economy’s continuing period of stagnation.
thanks to Cursor
U.S. bankruptcy filings rose to a record high in the 12-month period ending March 31, U.S. court officials said on Thursday, as the weak economy hurt personal finances.
thanks to Wampum
let's get them hooked early
All of the candy cigarettes. Click on a pack to learn more about the terrible, terrible world of Candy Cigarettes.
"There can be no peace for either side ... unless there is freedom for both," declared President George W Bush, as he introduced his roadmap for peace in the Middle East to an expectant world (1).
By "freedom" Bush means the people of the Middle East will be given strict instructions on how to resolve their conflict. The Palestinians will be told what kind of government to install, whom to elect, when to elect them, why to elect them, and what kind of politics to practise. The roadmap for peace lays the ground for relentless intervention by a "Quartet" of powers (the USA, the EU, the UN and Russia) to oversee the Middle East's transition from conflict to peace by no later than 2005. Freedom doesn't get a look-in.
This week, the prime minister offered a simple reply to a nagging question. The question: When all is said and done, are you serious about those "painful concessions" for peace? The reply: No.
During his visit two weeks ago to Israel, former Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema hosted a small group of Israelis - public figures and former diplomats - to a dinner at a Jerusalem hotel.
The conversation quickly turned to the conciliatory interviews Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave to the press for their Independence Day editions. One of the Israelis, of the type for whom it's second nature, no matter who is in government, to explain and defend Israeli policy, expressed full confidence in Sharon's peace rhetoric. He said the prime minister understands the solution to the conflict is the establishment of a Palestinian state beside Israel.
The former premier from the Italian left said that three or four years ago he had a long conversation with Sharon, who was in Rome for a brief visit. According to D'Alema, Sharon explained at length that the Bantustan model was the most appropriate solution to the conflict.
The defender of Israel quickly protested. "Surely that was your personal interpretation of what Sharon said."
D'Alema didn't give in. "No, sir, that is not interpretation. That is a precise quotation of your prime minister."
The Bible is their 'Road Map'
In late March, President Bush invited more than 140 evangelical Christian leaders to the White House for a "private briefing" on the war with Iraq and other matters, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank reported nearly a month later. Given the surge of Christian Zionism in the U.S., will the President be extending another invitation to these leaders? If America's fundamentalist Christians have their druthers, they'll be holding a road-map-burning in the near future and President Bush's Middle East peace plan will melt away like last year's Hanukah candles.
More than half the Jewish population of Israel - 53 percent - is opposed to full equal rights for Israeli Arabs, according to a survey conducted last month by the Israel Democracy Institute.
The general conclusion of the survey, which is dubbed the "Israeli Democracy Survey" and will be conducted every year, is that Israel is basically a democracy in form more than in substance, and that it has yet to internalize fully the concept of democracy.
Welcome to the site of the Bakelite and Plastic Museum. The main object of the museum is to inform about bakelite and plastic design.
thanks to Coudal Partners
billions and billions
This is from a newsletter put out by local Whidbey Island tall person Larry Dobson.
A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective in one of its releases:
A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
monty python was right about bunnies
We saved a bunny from a car park last week.
thanks to MetaFilter
remember bin laden?
Let's get to the heart of the matter, the Saudis are scared to death of Osama and even more scared that we will find out how deeply supported Al Qaeda is in Saudi society.
The Bush Administration can neither protect the Saudi princes from themselves nor destroy Al Qaeda.
In the same year that the US devoted its entire military and intelligence apparatus to finding and destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, which has now boiled down to a mobile brewery and some scrapings from a tank, Al Qaeda is not only not destroyed, but nearly as strong as it was on September 10, 2001.
I was talking to my daughter Katie yesterday when she mentioned these posters. I hadn't seen them in a long while. They are a good reminder why I no longer work at a large aerospace corporation.
If you can't motivate employees with vision, why not try inspiring them with fear?
the reason for bush's tax cuts
Conservatives such as Norquist, Rove and Bush believe that social programs, at both the Federal and state level, are unnecessary and therefore a waste of tax money (and therefore if states get into financial trouble they will have to cut these programs).
Americans must not be fooled by Bush propaganda that the proposed tax cuts will magically stimulate the economy or create jobs. This not about the economy, it is about right-wing ideology. These cuts are a stealth initiative to diminish government at all levels: education, healthcare, public safety, aid to elderly and veterans, transportation, protection of the environment, etc. This is intended to starve the Federal budget until all that is left is defense, homeland security, and huge interest payments.
It's not the economy; it's the extreme conservative ideology of George W. Bush and his pandering to that base of his political support.
To say Tom Robbins' prose is inventive and enjoyably absurd is not to offer fresh insight into his work. To point out the author's writing is allusion-heavy and peppered by raucous iconography is not to proffer original praise.
Robbins' uncanny talent for characterization and dialogue has consistently pleased readers throughout his past seven novels, so what makes his eighth, "Villa Incognito" (Bantam, 241 pages, $24), so different? Mercifully: nothing.
What a wonderful way to start the day — to find out there is a new Tom Robbins novel.
william is back
I seem to be trying to catch up more and more. Yesterday was taken up with going down to the airport and picking up my son-in-law. He's in the army, stationed in Germany. He missed Iraq since all his gear had been sent to Turkey and all his gear still hasn't shown up yet. He's back on a couple of weeks of leave, then back to Germany. He'll be going to Korea in September. It was good to seem him home. I dropped him off at Jenny's. Jenny seemed to be pleased.
Jenny, William, and Robyn
the future of america
Texas Democratic House members, more powerful in absence than when they are in the chamber, are hiding out to block a vote on a congressional redistricting plan pushed by Republicans.
House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, ordered the Department of Public Safety to hunt down the missing members when it became clear the House didn't have the 100 members needed for a quorum. The missing includes 53 who submitted letters announcing they would not be showing up.
This is what democracy in America is becoming.
The attorney general in New Mexico says Texas law enforcement officials probably can't go into that state to arrest missing state lawmakers — and she made clear she's not hot on looking for them.
"Some are speculating this request from the Texas Governor's office concerns an effort to locate missing Texas House Democrats," Madrid wrote. "If so, Texas should understand that since ski season is over, the Santa Fe Opera has not begun and President Bush was just in town, I don't think they are in Santa Fe now. Nevertheless, I have put out an all-points bulletin for law enforcement to be on the look out for politicians in favor of health care for the needy and against tax cuts for the wealthy."
A good Molly Ivin's collumn on this insanity...
Far too far
They just went too far, that's all. This session of the legislature has been as brutal, callous and indifferent to the welfare of the weakest, the most frail, youngest and oldest Texans as it is possible to get. The level of pure meanness is stunning. They have just gone too damn far.
The session was pretty well summed up by Rep. Senfronia Thompson when she illustrated what was going on by taking the House rulebook to the podium with her and dropping it on the floor. There is no rule of procedure, fairness, common sense or decency that has been observed by the Republican majority in the Texas House.
There is no excuse for this, and blaming it on the deficit will not wash. We all knew going in that some terribly hard choices would have to be made, but what in the name of heaven was the governor thinking when he had handicapped people arrested? These were citizens who came to their capital to protest budget cuts affecting them, and they get arrested. Maybe it was because they were in wheelchairs -- don't even have to be hauled away, they can just be rolled away.
Most of us thought it was pretty funny when Rep. Debbie Riddle popped out with her now-classic statement: "Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell."
The latest flap is over a congressional redistricting map that is so bad it's actually funny. Of course, the thing was passed without public hearings, because as Rep. Joe Crabb explained, "The rest of us would have a very difficult time if we were out in an area -- other than Austin or other English-speaking areas -- to be able to have committee hearings or to be able to converse with people that did not speak English." Sometimes you have to wonder what planet these people are from.
That was the proverbial straw for the Democrats, 53 of whom left the state or went into hiding Sunday to break the quorum, thus bringing legislative business to a halt. They've already been dubbed the Killer D's, after the tradition of the Killer Bees in 1979. Believe me, stopping the legislature from functioning at this point is high public service.
The creepy thing about the far-right Republicans, who are definitely in the majority in the House, is not that they are dismantling government because they won't raise taxes, they're dismantling government because they think it shouldn't help people. They really think health and human services should not be provided. It's an old line among liberals that anti-choice people care more about the unborn than they do about the born, but I'm telling you that it's not just some clever line -- these people are writing it into the state budget.
The $20 bill got a facelift Tuesday, complete with new colors, a new number arrangement and a new background, in the government's latest effort to thwart counterfeiters.
thanks to The J-Walk Weblog
We finally get some bills with a more imaginative color scheme than green.
i'm glad the war is over and we now have peace in the middle east
Baghdad Anarchy Spurs Call For Help
Baghdad residents and U.S. officials said today that U.S. occupation forces are insufficient to maintain order in the Iraqi capital and called for reinforcements to calm a wave of violence that has unfurled over the city, undermining relief and reconstruction efforts and inspiring anxiety about the future.
Reports of carjackings, assaults and forced evictions grew today, adding to an impression that recent improvements in security were evaporating. Fires burned anew in several Iraqi government buildings and looting resumed at one of former president Saddam Hussein's palaces. The sound of gunfire rattled during the night; many residents said they were keeping their children home from school during the day. Even traffic was affected, as drivers ignored rules in the absence of Iraqi police, only to crash and cause tie-ups.
Disorder deepens in liberated Baghdad
Fearful of going out after dark, waiting up to 10 hours to fill their cars with gas, spreading rumors in the absence of reliable media, watching landmark buildings set on fire and wondering who is in charge, the residents of this capital are growing increasingly impatient with the deepening disorder that is plaguing their lives more than a month after US troops took over the city
"My worst fear is chaos, of all hell breaking loose, and it seems like that is happening," says the Jenan Khadimi, an American-Iraqi who teaches architecture at Baghdad University. "You don't know who is running things."
Bombings Kill 20 in Saudi Capital
Explosions at three housing compounds here late last night killed 20 people, including at least seven Americans, the official Saudi press agency announced today. The blasts came just hours before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell arrived here to discuss Middle East peace efforts and the war against terrorism.
The war that Bin Laden is winning
The invasion of Iraq provided an ideal solution. It broke the link between the presence of US forces and the threat from Saddam Hussein. At another level, it eased the American crisis of confidence after the events of September 11, which made the US avoid any decision that might make it seem weak. The removal of Saddam in such a dramatic manner has almost treated this obsession. The decision to leave Saudi Arabia can now appear to have been taken from a position of strength.
Al-Qaida sympathisers see it differently. But the majority would concede that invading and occupying Iraq has made the presence of a few thousand troops in the kingdom a less significant issue. It is also clear that this will not be a real departure. Although troops in uniform will leave, the overall establishment - including bases and non-uniformed personnel - is to stay. More important still is the green light that has been given for the troops to return without fresh Saudi approval.
thanks to BookNotes
thanks to Coudal Partners
The main United Nations agency providing assistance to Palestine refugees today protested that a complete closure of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel on UN international staff had crippled its operations there.
“UNRWA understands Israel’s security concerns, but the fact is that nothing has ever been found on an UNRWA international staff member to warrant the searches and procedures,” Karen Koning AbuZayd, Deputy Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the largest aid agency in the Middle East, said.
“I find it incomprehensible that all my staff are locked in or locked out of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli authorities must lift this closure to allow us to carry out our humanitarian mandate,” she added.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview published Tuesday that dismantling settlements on land Palestinians seek for a state under a U.S.-backed peace plan is "not an issue on the horizon".
Sharon also said that Jews will continue to live in Shilo and Beit El under Israeli sovereignty. "If you ask me whether in Beit El there will not be Jews," Sharon told the Jerusalem Post, "no, Jews will live there."
Asked if they will continue to live in Beit El and Shilo under Israeli sovereignty, he replied, "Do you see a possibility of Jews living under Arab sovereignty, I'm asking you, do you see that possibility?"
The "road map" plan calls for Israel to stop expanding settlements in the West Bank and Gaza as part of a series of confidence-building steps under which Palestinians would crack down on Palestinian militants targeting Israelis.
Sharon doesn't seem to be too interested in the road map or peace. The destruction of the Palestinians continues.
Lucas at the Baldwin Locomotive Works
thanks to The Solipsistic Gazete
what he said
I'm 53 years old and I've never in my lifetime seen anything even approaching what is happening now. I own a television but I rarely use it anymore because of all the crappy programming, the right-wing garbage, and the propaganda that passes these days for news coverage. I own a radio, but rarely turn it on because the air waves are saturated with right wing (and often religious) programs broadcast by people I think must have rabies. I dropped my local paper because it was so right wing and vacuous, it was an embarrassment to the community (not that the community appeared particularly embarrassed, of course).
Now it appears probable that the FCC will approve proposals to further deregulate the media. This means that the problem will only get worse. I would be hard pressed to identify anything more un-American than this.
I am not optimistic in the slightest about the upcoming presidential campaign. I don't think this country has yet passed through the "deep valley" it needs to find itself in before people start to wake up and begin demanding change (that is, if they still can). The Democrats will have to swim against the tide of a hostile press, a misled (and frequently indifferent) public, an opponent funded by many wealthy supporters with deep pockets, and their own inexplicable and deplorable cowardice.
I'll vote in the next election as I always do, and I'll vote for a Democrat as long as the candidate isn't just Republican-lite, but I see no reason to be optimistic that the ideals I cherish will be restored anytime soon.
thanks to BookNotes
My photo hobby results are represented here.
thanks to Esthet
Last night's TestingTesting with Guy Le Roux was sweet. The sound archive is up, pictures later. Click on over to hear a fun evening of music.
A little aside on the state of our country. Guy lives in Texas. Guy has a french last name. Guy has received death threats because of that. Kind of makes you proud to be an American, eh? (Practicing that Canadian, just in case I need to flee for the border.)
Well, it's that other Monday night again and time for another TestingTesting webcast from my living room. Caryn Simmons was supposed to be on but had a date conflict and can't make it. Derek said that there is a musician from Texas that has been visiting Whidbey Island and might drop by. His name is Guy LaRue. Derek says he is a pretty good guitar player. So, click on in for a fun evening of living room music. It may be Guy, or it may be not, but it will be fun.
get your war on #24
The GYWO Players in:
Salam Pax is back!
5 US Dollars for a single hour of browsing. Talk about someone milking it, I wonder if they would let me pay for only half an hour.
thanks to Body and Soul
The US finally admits it's an occupying power (now they can take the oil), the reconstruction efforts look like it's either being run by the Keystone Cops or the Three Stooges, and just where are those Weapons of Mass Destruction?
US rivals turn on each other as weapons search draws a blank
Frustrated, U.S. Arms Team to Leave Iraq
Iraq's Ragged Reconstruction
In using a line from one of my favorite poems in an earlier post, I thought it would be worthwile to share the whole damn thing — with one of my favorite illustrations from the book.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
One, two! One, two! And through and through
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
"It seems very pretty," she said when she had finished it, "but it's rather hard to understand!" (You see she didn't like to confess even to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) "Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas--only I don't exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that's clear, at any rate---"
But does Arafat really want peace? Most Israelis are unable to imagine such a thing. How could they? Did they ever hear the true story?
From my personal experience, I can recount this: At the end of the October 1973 war, Arafat concluded that if the armies of Egypt and Syria were defeated after their unexpected brilliant initial successes, then there is no military solution to the conflict. As usual, he decided quickly and decided alone. He instructed his trusted aide, Sa'id Hamami, to publish an article in London calling for the attainment of a peace settlement with Israel by political means. (This induced me to meet with Hamami in secret, and since then I have followed Arafat's moves closely.)
For the Palestinian national movement, the proposed change was redical. A political process instead of the sole reliance on "armed struggle". A peace settlement with Israel, which had taken possession of 78% of the Palestinian land and expelled half of the Palestinian people from their homes. That necessitated a mental and political revolution, and since 1974 Arafat has promoted this revolution cautiously and with determination, step by step. (I witnessed these steps - first through Hamami and Issam Sartawi, later in personal contact with Arafat.) in 1988 the Palestinian National Council at long last adopted this line explicitly, after a series of ambivalent resolutions. Abu-Mazen was closely connected with this process right from the beginning.
Throughout this period, Yitzhaq Rabin and Shimon Peres actively opposed this development. (On this, too, I can bear personal witness, since I conveyed several messages from Arafat to Rabin.) It must be stated clearly for history's sake: Not Rabin and Peres were the spiritual fathers of Oslo, but Arafat and Abu-Mazen. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Peres and not to Abu-Mazen was, therefore, a gross injustice.
Sharon, of course, does not want peace that brings with it a viable Palestinian state in all the occupied territories and the evacuation of the settlements. But he is far too shrewd to openly obstruct Abu-Mazen, the protegee of the West. Therefore he is concentrating all his efforts on breaking Arafat - knowing that without Arafat, Abu-Mazen would be ineffective.
That is the crux of the matter. Arafat is essential for the peace effort. That's why I went to visit him.
The president has spread out the road map. Now, a few discussions about key intersections, modest rerouting in a few spots and destination peace in the Middle East.
Not so fast. The Israeli right wing has plans to tear up the dangerous idea of peace. And it knows where to go for support -- Christian fundamentalists in the United States.
As was mentioned in Post-Intelligencer news pages last week, Haaretz, the liberal Israeli daily, had an excellent report on the pre-emptive organizing among hard-line settlers. Haaretz (www.haaretz.com) reported that Tourism Minister Benny Elon would tour the U.S. Bible Belt to whip up opposition to peace plans.
In the United States, Elon says his visit is focused on tourism, not wrecking the peace efforts. But Haaretz points out that he has been talking about the road map with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and other critics of the administration's Middle East policy.
None of that removes the chill of his original statement in Haaretz: "It's clear that Islam is on the way to disappearing. ... Within a few years a Christian crusade against Islam will be launched, which will be the major event of this millennium."
More than a decade ago, Ariel Sharon led the troika known as the "constraints ministers" in Yitzhak Shamir's last government. Sharon and his partners, David Levy and Yitzhak Moda'i, wanted to constrain their prime minister from pursuing the path of concessions advocated by Shimon Peres and George Bush Senior's administration. They therefore erected various roadblocks to the diplomatic proposals of those days.
U.S. envoy William Burns, who visited Jerusalem this week, can report upon his return to Washington that the "constraints ministers" have reappeared, in a new incarnation. Burns, who heads the State Department's Middle East desk, came to discuss implementation of the road map and prepare the upcoming visit by his boss, Colin Powell, who will arrive this weekend. His Israeli hosts met him with lists of their reservations and the difficulties entailed in implementing the international plan for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Here is a good one that I missed in my Henri Cartier-Bresson festival.
Henri Cartier-Bresson é uma artista inato. Pensa como artista, vive como artista. Genuíno em tudo o que faz e em tudo o que diz. Descomplicado para falar, para fotografar, para pintar, para viver... Fala o óbvio ululante e por isto mesmo é genial.
thanks to wood s lot
Here is a good overview of the situation in North Korea — without the histrionics.
THE KOREA CRISIS
“North Korea Belongs in the ‘Axis of Evil’”
No. The only link between North Korea and Iran and Iraq, the other two members of the “axis of evil” identified by President George W. Bush in his 2002 State of the Union speech, is financial. North Korea has sold missile technology to Iran, as it has to a number of countries, including U.S. allies Pakistan and Egypt. Unlike the original Axis powers, Japan, Germany, and Italy, which were joined formally by the Tripartite Pact of 1940, North Korea, Iran, and Iraq do not coordinate or work together beyond the sale of goods to one another. Furthermore, North Korea does not share any religious, ideological, or strategic goals with Iran and Iraq. North Korea’s concerns focus solely on the peninsula and do not extend to the Middle East. Although it does nasty things like sell drugs and make counterfeit money, North Korea has not engaged in terrorism in the last 16 years, and there has never been any link, nor any suggested, between North Korea and al Qaeda.
Iran, Iraq, and North Korea do share some common traits, the main one being an adversarial relationship with the United States. They are also authoritarian, have allegedly supported or sponsored terrorism, and have programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. However, using those latter criteria, several other countries could fit in the axis. Why not U.S. allies Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, for example?
thanks to follow me here...
mr. h, at Giornale Nuovo has a couple of posts of two amazing books by Luigi Serafini.
In the course of my search for the Codex Seraphinianus (see below), I gathered that Luigi Serafini had one other book to his name, the intriguingly titled Pulcinellopedia Piccola. I scanned thousands of bookshop shelves during my two years in Italy, but never caught sight of a copy.
About thirteen and a half years ago I first learnt of the existence of a strange and remarkable book called the Codex Seraphinianus. I read about it in Douglas Hofstadter’s Metamagical Themas. In a postscript to a piece therein entitled Sense and Nonsense, which strove to illustrate the grey zone between these acronymous poles, he wrote:
…it is a highly idiosyncratic magnum opus by an Italian architect indulging his sense of fancy to the hilt. It consists of two volumes in a completely invented language (including the numbering system, which is itself rather esoteric), penned entirely by the author, accompanied by thousands of beautifully drawn colour pictures of the most fantastic scenes, machines, beasts, feasts, and so on. It purports to be a vast encyclopedia of a hypothetical land somewhat like the earth, with many creatures resembling people to various degrees, but many creatures of unheard-of bizarreness promenading throughout the countryside. Serafini has sections on physics, chemistry, mineralogy (including many drawings of elaborate gems), geography, botany, zoology, sociology, linguistics, technology, architecture, sports (of all sorts), clothing, and so on. The pictures have their own internal logic, but to our eyes they are filled with utter non sequiturs.
If you want more of Paul Krugman than the Times will publish, you can go to his very own site.
Thanks to Bobby Pelgrift at the unofficial site I've been led to Demosthenes (GREAT blog name, by the way - does Orson Scott Card know? And where's Locke?), where I learn that my stalker-in-chief thinks that the liquidity trap is "elephant shit". The purpose of this note is to remind everyone that this is very serious shit indeed.
Just an aside: as Demosthenes notes, it is bizarre that someone who claims to have insight into economics has apparently never heard of a liquidity trap. It's even more bizarre that someone who spends a lot of time attacking yours truly doesn't know that this is one of my signature academic issues. Also, doesn't some version of Godwin's law apply here - the first person to mention bodily wastes loses the argument?
Anyway, let me explain why everyone concerned with economics should know about liquidity traps.
thanks to CalPundit
The Federal Reserve decided not to lower its benchmark interest rate Tuesday, but it said there is a risk of continued weakness - and with the economy bumping along like an old jalopy running on fumes, the chances of a cut have definitely increased. Such a cut would take rates to 1 per cent, a level not seen since the 1950s. And what does the Fed do if the economy still won’t budge? That’s when things start to get really interesting.
thanks to The new Paul Krugman website
What’s more, the President’s tax cuts may in the end destroy more jobs than they create. As tax revenues fall and the deficit increases, interest rates will rise, and the higher cost of borrowing will impede business investment and hiring. The reborn supply-side economists who devised the President’s plan would dispute this, except that many of them were fired or encouraged to quit in the Administration’s recent purge of its financial team. N. Gregory Mankiw, the Harvard professor who was recently nominated as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, is more realistic. In his popular textbook “Principles of Economics,” he explains that when a government runs a budget deficit it “pulls resources away from investment in new capital and, thereby, depresses the living standards of future generations.” Alan Greenspan, whom the President plans to reappoint for a fifth term as Federal Reserve chairman, said essentially the same thing last week. Kenneth Rogoff, the I.M.F.’s chief economist, went even further. He recently told journalists, “Suppose for a minute that we were talking about a developing country that had gaping current account deficits year after year . . . a budget ink spinning from black into red . . . open-ended security costs, and a real exchange rate that had been inflated by capital inflows. With all that, I think it’s fair to say we would be pretty concerned.” When I.M.F. types start talking about the United States as if it were a banana republic on a bad day, it’s probably time to change course.
thanks to Cursor
Trouble in Bush's America
While our "What, me worry?" president is having a great time with his high approval ratings and his "Top Gun" fantasies, the economy remains in the tank. And the finances of state and local governments are sinking tragically into ever deeper and ever more unforgiving waters.
You want shock and awe? Come to New York City, where jobs are hard to find and the budget (as residents are suddenly realizing) is a backbreaking regimen of service cuts, tax increases and that perennial painkiller, wishful thinking.
The biggest wish, of course, is that the national economy will suddenly turn around and flood the city and state with desperately needed revenues. Meanwhile, the soup kitchens and food pantries are besieged.
One of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth century, Jack London (1876-1916) was perhaps as well known for his rugged, active lifestyle and socialist politics as for his writing. The author of such classics as Call of the Wild and White Fang, London led a life that was even more adventuresome than the characters he created. Utah State University has one of the nation's largest research collections of Jack London materials. Included in that collection is a complete set of first editions of Jack London's books, each of which he inscribed to his wife, Charmian, and includes a personal photograph glued inside the cover. This exhibit features an image of the cover and title page of each book as well as London's inscription and photograph. The pictures range from vacation snapshots to family portraits to pin-up photos of London himself.
thanks to Spitting Image
what she said
There are many other equally worthy values, why did you pick Kindness as the focus of your book?
Because it has been appropriated by the wishy-washy brigade. It's like self-esteem. That's another wishy-washy concept. But when you deconstruct it, it's the route to revolution.
It's so uncool to even talk about kindness these days. So I thought, let's turn the damn thing on its head, put in some adjectives to describe it, and show these incredible acts that go on consistently, day after day, under the radar screen. And I was so outraged that the biggest value we have in our society these days is economics. Economic values override every other human value, be it justice, human rights, kindness, whatever.
My brothers and sister (except for one brother living in San Jose) met for lunch today. A good time was had by all.
Roger, Madelane, Terry, and mom