America's spy agencies have concluded that the invasion of Iraq has created a flood of new Islamic terrorists and increased the danger to US interests to a higher level than at any time since the 9/11 attacks.
Civil war is raging through the Iraqi countryside.
Sunni insurgents have largely taken control of the province of Diyala, where local leaders believe the insurgents are close to establishing a 'Taleban republic'. Officials in the strategically important, mixed Sunni and Shia province with a Kurdish minority, have no doubt about what is happening.
Lt Col Ahmed Ahmed Nuri Hassan, a weary looking commander of the federal police, says: "Now there is an ethnic civil war and it is getting worse every day."
At the moment the Sunni seem to be winning it. As the violence has escalated in Iraq over the past three years it has become too dangerous for journalists to find out what is happening in the provinces outside the capital.
When Bush said Iraq was a comma, he was speaking in dog whistle to the fundies. It comes from a saying "Never put a period where God puts a comma".Which means things will get better. Which is, of course, insane.
Well, shit, they're now deploying units with no weapons and less training. The Iranians are taking careful notes. Why? Because when the Great Shia uprising takes place, they want to know which units to hit first. Or direct the Shia to attack.
The Third ID is going to get to Iraq and use clapped out equipment because they had to leave their equipment in Iraq.Sorry.Oh, and the Iraq auxillaries can't function.
5,106 people in July and August, according to a recently released United Nations report. The previous, still staggering but significantly lower figure of 3,391 offered for those months relied on body counts only from the city morgue. The UN report also includes deaths at the city's overtaxed hospitals. With the Bush administration bringing thousands of extra U.S. and Iraqi soldiers into the capital in August, death tolls went down somewhat for a few weeks, but began rising again towards month's end. August figures on civilian wounded -- 4,309 -- rose 14% over July's figures and, by late September, suicide bombings were at their highest level since the invasion.
As I watch the death spiral of this country I wonder how it could get any worse. Now I know.
Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006) With a smug stroke of his pen, President Bush is set to wipe out a safeguard against illegal imprisonment that has endured as a cornerstone of legal justice since the Magna Carta.
The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who has “has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” Quick, define “purposefully and materially.” One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.
The bill simply removes a suspect’s right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215. That pretty much leaves the barn door open.
As Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident, wrote, an intelligence service free to torture soon “degenerates into a playground for sadists.” But not unbridled sadism—you will be relieved that the compromise took out the words permitting interrogation involving “severe pain” and substituted “serious pain,” which is defined as “bodily injury that involves extreme physical pain.”
In July 2003, George Bush said in a speech: “The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit.”
Fellow citizens, this bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary—these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.
I’d like those supporting this evil bill to spare me one affliction: Do not, please, pretend to be shocked by the consequences of this legislation. And do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis.
We have seen America’s president and vice president, sworn to uphold the Constitution, advocating some of the same interrogation techniques the KGB used at the Lubyanka. They apparently believe beating, freezing, sleep deprivation and near-drowning are necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. So did Stalin.
The White House insisted that anyone — including Americans — could be kidnapped and tried in camera using “evidence” obtained by torturing other suspects. Bush & Co. deny the U.S. uses torture but reject the basic law of habeaus corpus and U.S. laws against the evil practice. The UN says Bush’s plans violate international law and the Geneva Conventions.
This week’s tentative agreement between Bush and Congress may somewhat limit torture, but exempts U.S. officials from having to observe the Geneva Convention.
Let's finish with a phrase usually credited to Ben Franklin but probably first made by Richard Jackson. Regardless of who said it first, the phrase should be hung above the entrance to every legislative body in this country.
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
For Joel Segal, it was the day he was kicked out of George Washington Hospital, still on an IV after knee surgery, without insurance, and with $100,000 in medical debt. For Kiki Peppard, it was having to postpone needed surgery until she could find a job with insurance -- it took her two years. People all over the United States are waking up to the fact that our system of providing health care is a disaster.
An estimated 50 million Americans lack medical insurance, and a similar and rapidly growing number are underinsured. The uninsured are excluded from services, charged more for services, and die when medical care could save them -- an estimated 18,000 die each year because they lack medical coverage.
Yesterday, the Clever Wife and I went over to Sequim (pronounced "skwim") to look at some land. We didn't buy any land, but we did get to take an extra moment to visit the little museum in Sequim and look at their mastadon. I've written a lot about mammoths, but I havent said much about their cousins, the mastadons.
Despite their superficial resemblance, mastodons are only a distant relative of mammoths. Mastodons separated from the earliest elephants millions of years before African and Asian elephants separated from each other or mammoths separated from Asian elephants. Mastodons probably entered the new world at the beginning of the ice age and spread all of the way into South America, where they split into a number of species. The mammoths entered the new world later, during interglacials of the ice ages.
Mastodons have teeth that are dramatically different from those of elephant/mammoths. Mammoth teeth are giant grinders suited to grazing on the grasses and low shrubs that they found on the prairies, steppes, and tundras where they usually lived. Mastodons had pointed teeth. This led the first scientists who described them to believe they were carnivores, terrible monsters much like the oliphaunts of Mordor. I'm not sure if it was homework or imagination on Peter Jackson's part, but some mastodons also had two sets of tusks, just like the oliphaunts in Return of the King. Later, scientists discovered that mastodons were browsers, who lived in the forest and ate tough branches and cones of conifers. Big, pointed teeth are useful for tearing branches and cones apart.
This post on mastodons, etc., is on a site new to me, written by one John J. McKay who titled his site archy. (He also seems to located not far from me since he visited Sequim which, for me, is a short drive, a ferry ride, and a not too long drive.) The archy in question is a cockroach. Not an ordinary cockroach, but a literary cockroach who had a cat for a friend.
Here are a couple of links where John explains about archy.
Archy is not an alter-ego. I don’t claim to be Archy; my own name is there on the upper left of the page. Archy was a correspondent who sent his peculiar views on the state of the world in the teens and twenties of the last century to Don Marquis, the editor at the Evening Sun in New York. Marquis, desperate for material to fill his daily column, the Sun Dial, was glad to print anything Archy left for him. Archy is my patron saint. Or rather, he is my patron cockroach.
Marquis tells how he discovered Archy using his typewriter one morning:
We came into our room earlier than usual in the morning, and discovered a gigantic cockroach jumping about on the keys. He did not see us, and we watched him. He would climb painfully upon the framework of the machine and cast himself with all his force upon a key, head downward, and his weight and the impact of the blow were just sufficient to operate the machine, one slow letter after another. He could not work the capital letters, and he had a great deal of difficulty operating the mechanism that shifts the paper so that a fresh line may be started. We never saw a cockroach work so hard or perspire so freely in all our lives before. After about an hour of this frightfully difficult literary labor he fell to the floor exhausted, and we saw him creep feebly into a nest of the poems which are always there in profusion.
Now, I must admit, I don't think I've ever read any of Don's archy pieces but my dad probably did. My dad grew up in New York (Greenwich Village) in the 1930s. In the mid 1950s he bought this LP:
I loved listening to this album as a kid. It was one of my favorites. What's more, I now have that album. I haven't listened to it in probably over 40 years. (Note to self: fix that turntable.) It's still available as a CD.
John was kind enough to link to a couple of sites with a lot of the writings of Don and archy:
While the archy pieces were often funny, they could also make a statement.
the big bad wolf by don marquis
i went to a movie show the other evening in the cuff of a friend s turned up trousers and saw the three little pigs and was greatly edified by the moral lesson how cruel i said to myself was the big bad wolf how superior to wolves are men the wolf would have eaten those pigs raw and even alive whereas a man would have kindly cut their throats and lovingly made them into country sausage spare ribs and pig knuckles he would have tenderly have roasted them fried them and boiled them cooked them feelingly with charity towards all and malice towards none and piously eaten them served with sauerkraut and other trimmings it is no wonder that the edible animals are afraid of wolves and love men so when a pig is eaten by a wolf he realizes that something is wrong with the world but when he is eaten by a man he must thank god fervently that his is being useful to a superior being it must be the same way with a colored man who is being lynched he must be grateful that his is being lynched in a land of freedom and liberty and not in any of the old world countries of darkness and oppression where men are still the victims of kings iniquity and constipation we ought all to be grateful in this country that our wall street robber barons and crooked international bankers are such highly respectable citizens and so so much for the churches and for charity and support such noble institutions and foundations for the welfare of mankind and are such spiritually minded philanthropists it would be horrid to be robbed by the wrong kind of people if i were a man i would not let a cannibal eat me unless he showed me a letter certifying to his character from the pastor of his church even our industrial murderers in this country are usually affiliated with political parties devoted to the uplift the enlightenment and the progress of humankind every time i get discouraged and contemplate suicide by impersonating a raisin and getting devoured as part of a piece of pie i think of our national blessings and cheer up again it is indeed as i have been reading lately a great period in which to be alive and it is a cheering thought to think that god is on the side of the best digestion your moral little friend
Muhammad's sword Pope Benedict XVI in the service of George W. Bush By Uri Avnery
In order to prove the lack of reason in Islam, the Pope asserts that the Prophet Muhammad ordered his followers to spread their religion by the sword. According to the Pope, that is unreasonable, because faith is born of the soul, not of the body. How can the sword influence the soul?
To support his case, the Pope quoted - of all people - a Byzantine emperor, who belonged, of course, to the competing Eastern Church. At the end of the 14th century, Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus told of a debate he had - or so he said (its occurrence is in doubt) - with an unnamed Persian Muslim scholar. In the heat of the argument, the emperor (according to himself) flung the following words at his adversary:
Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. [...]
Every honest Jew who knows the history of his people cannot but feel a deep sense of gratitude to Islam, which has protected the Jews for fifty generations, while the Christian world persecuted the Jews and tried many times "by the sword" to get them to abandon their faith.
The story about "spreading the faith by the sword" is an evil legend, one of the myths that grew up in Europe during the great wars against the Muslims - the reconquista of Spain by the Christians, the Crusades and the repulsion of the Turks, who almost conquered Vienna. I suspect that the German Pope, too, honestly believes in these fables. That means that the leader of the Catholic world, who is a Christian theologian in his own right, did not make the effort to study the history of other religions.
Why did he utter these words in public? And why now?
There is no escape from viewing them against the background of the new Crusade of Bush and his evangelist supporters, with his slogans of "Islamofascism" and the "global war on terror" - when "terrorism" has become a synonym for Muslims. For Bush's handlers, this is a cynical attempt to justify the domination of the world's oil resources. Not for the first time in history, a religious robe is spread to cover the nakedness of economic interests; not for the first time, a robbers' expedition becomes a Crusade.
The speech of the Pope blends into this effort. Who can foretell the dire consequences?
Night photography is something I've been wanting to do again. (Note to self: must find old night photography negatives.) Until then here are a couple of night photography blogs and a night photography site.
The attacks on middle-class jobs are lending new meaning to the phrase "class war". The ladders of upward mobility are being dismantled. America, the land of opportunity, is giving way to ever deepening polarization between rich and poor.
The assault on jobs predates the Bush regime. However, the loss of middle-class jobs has become particularly intense in the 21st century, and, like other pressing problems, has been ignored by President Bush, who is focused on waging war in the Middle East and building a police state at home. The lives and careers that are being lost to the carnage of a gratuitous war in Iraq are paralleled by the economic destruction of careers, families, and communities in the U.S.A. Since the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, the U.S. government has sought to protect employment of its citizens. Bush has turned his back on this responsibility. He has given his support to the offshoring of American jobs that is eroding the living standards of Americans. It is another example of his betrayal of the public trust.
"Free trade" and "globalization" are the guises behind which class war is being conducted against the middle class by both political parties. Patrick J. Buchanan, a three-time contender for the presidential nomination, put it well when he wrote1 that NAFTA and the various so-called trade agreements were never trade deals. The agreements were enabling acts that enabled U.S. corporations to dump their American workers, avoid Social Security taxes, health care and pensions, and move their factories offshore to locations where labor is cheap.
The offshore outsourcing of American jobs has nothing to do with free trade based on comparative advantage. Offshoring is labor arbitrage. First world capital and technology are not seeking comparative advantage at home in order to compete abroad. They are seeking absolute advantage abroad in cheap labor
How can Bush administration war plans be reconciled with expert opinion that the consequences would be too dire for the U.S.?
Perhaps the answer is that what appears as irrationality to experts is rationality to neoconservatives. Neocons seek maximum chaos and instability in the Middle East in order to justify long-term U.S. occupation of the region. Following this line of thought, neocons would regard the loss of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf as a way to solidify public support for the war. American anger at the Iranians could even result in support for a military draft in order to win "the war on terror."
The Bush administration could bring Congress around by announcing a "Gulf of Tonkin" incident or by orchestrating a "terrorist attack." However, this is unnecessary as Bush has prepared the ground for bypassing Congress with his propagandistic allegations that Iran, by arming Iraqi insurgents, sponsoring terrorism, and building nuclear weapons, is a major part of the ongoing "war against terrorism." Now that Iran is blamed for rising violence in Iraq, an attack on Iran follows as a matter of course. All Bush has to do is to continue with his lies in order to bring the American public to a new war hysteria.
Bush’s defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel’s defeat by Hezbollah in Lebanon have shown that the military firepower of the US and Israeli armies, though effective against massed Arab armies, cannot defeat guerillas and insurgencies. The US has battled in Iraq longer than it fought against Nazi Germany, and the situation in Iraq is out of control. The Taliban have regained half of Afghanistan. The King of Saudi Arabia has told Bush that the ground is shaking under his feet as unrest over the American/Israeli violence against Muslims builds to dangerous levels. Our Egyptian puppet sits atop 100 million Muslims who do not think that Egypt should be a lackey of US hegemony. The King of Jordan understands that Israeli policy is to drive every Palestinian into Jordan.
Bush is incapable of recognizing his mistake. He can only escalate. Plans have long been made to attack Iran. The problem is that Iran can respond in effective ways to a conventional attack. Moreover, an American attack on another Muslim country could result in turmoil and rebellion throughout the Middle East. This is why the neocons have changed US war doctrine to permit a nuclear strike on Iran.
Neocons believe that a nuclear attack on Iran would have intimidating force throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iran would not dare retaliate, neocons believe, against US ships, US troops in Iraq, or use their missiles against oil facilities in the Middle East.
The House voted Thursday to impose mandatory sanctions on entities that provide goods or services for Iran's weapons programs. The vote came as U.S diplomats continued to press the U.N. Security Council to penalize Tehran if it fails to end its uranium enrichment program.
Global temperatures are dangerously close to the highest ever estimated to have occurred in the past million years, scientists reported Monday.
In a study that analyzed temperatures around the globe, researchers found that Earth has been warming rapidly, nearly 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit (0.2 degrees Celsius) in the last 30 years.
"The average surface temperature is 15, maybe 16 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit)," said Alan Robock, a meteorologist and climate researcher from Rutgers University who was not involved with the study.
If global temperatures go up another 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C), it would be equal to the maximum temperature of the past million years.
The generals' revolt has spread inside the Pentagon, and the point of the spear is one of Donald Rumsfeld's most favored officers, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff.
This new phase of rebellion isn't aimed at the war in Iraq directly, as was the protest by six retired generals that made headlines last spring. But in some ways, it's more potent, and not just because Schoomaker is very much on active duty. His challenge is dramatic because he's questioning one of the war's consequences—its threat to the Army's ability to keep functioning.
A recent report in "Aviation Week" (Sept 25, 2006) leads by saying,
"The U.S. Air Force is planning to reduce funding for pilot training and construction around the globe, although Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley says he hopes to keep procurement and research accounts intact as the Pentagon builds its Fiscal 2008 budget".
This is one of the recent spate of reports documenting shortfalls in the Department of Defense's $500+ billion budget. Predictably, the courtiers of Versailles on the Potomac are preparing for the silly season as they form their battle lines with Congress.
Assuming the Aviation Week report is correct (as it usually is on matters relating to future cash flows to the defense industry), Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley is either stupid or incredibly ignorant ... or, more likely, supremely cynical, because he is making exactly the same dysfunctional decision his predecessors made in the early to mid 1970s, which inevitably created the readiness horrors of the "hollow military" that hosed President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.
Myths of British Ancestry Everything you know about British and Irish ancestry is wrong. Our ancestors were Basques, not Celts. The Celts were not wiped out by the Anglo-Saxons, in fact neither had much impact on the genetic stock of these islands
The fact that the British and the Irish both live on islands gives them a misleading sense of security about their unique historical identities. But do we really know who we are, where we come from and what defines the nature of our genetic and cultural heritage? Who are and were the Scots, the Welsh, the Irish and the English? And did the English really crush a glorious Celtic heritage?
Everyone has heard of Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. And most of us are familiar with the idea that the English are descended from Anglo-Saxons, who invaded eastern England after the Romans left, while most of the people in the rest of the British Isles derive from indigenous Celtic ancestors with a sprinkling of Viking blood around the fringes.
Yet there is no agreement among historians or archaeologists on the meaning of the words "Celtic" or "Anglo-Saxon." What is more, new evidence from genetic analysis (see note below) indicates that the Anglo-Saxons and Celts, to the extent that they can be defined genetically, were both small immigrant minorities. Neither group had much more impact on the British Isles gene pool than the Vikings, the Normans or, indeed, immigrants of the past 50 years.
The genetic evidence shows that three quarters of our ancestors came to this corner of Europe as hunter-gatherers, between 15,000 and 7,500 years ago, after the melting of the ice caps but before the land broke away from the mainland and divided into islands. Our subsequent separation from Europe has preserved a genetic time capsule of southwestern Europe during the ice age, which we share most closely with the former ice-age refuge in the Basque country. The first settlers were unlikely to have spoken a Celtic language but possibly a tongue related to the unique Basque language.
Another wave of immigration arrived during the Neolithic period, when farming developed about 6,500 years ago. But the English still derive most of their current gene pool from the same early Basque source as the Irish, Welsh and Scots. These figures are at odds with the modern perceptions of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon ethnicity based on more recent invasions. There were many later invasions, as well as less violent immigrations, and each left a genetic signal, but no individual event contributed much more than 5 per cent to our modern genetic mix.
A mistake too often made by those examining Israel's behaviour in the occupied territories -- or when analysing its treatment of Arabs in general, or interpreting its view of Iran -- is to assume that Israel is acting in good faith. Even its most trenchant critics can fall into this trap.
Such a reluctance to attribute bad faith was demonstrated this week by Israel's foremost human rights group, B'Tselem, when it published a report into the bombing by the Israeli air force of Gaza's power plant in late June. The horrifying consequences of this act of collective punishment -- a war crime, as B'Tselem rightly notes -- are clearly laid out in the report.
The group warns that electricity is available to most of Gaza's 1.4 million inhabitants for a few hours a day, and running water for a similar period. The sewerage system has all but collapsed, with the resulting risk of the spread of dangerous infectious disease.
In their daily lives, Gazans can no longer rely on the basic features of modern existence. Their fridges are as good as useless, threatening outbreaks of food poisoning. The elderly and infirm living in apartments can no longer leave their homes because elevators don't work, or are unpredictable. Hospitals and doctors' clinics struggle to offer essential medical services. Small businesses, most of which rely on the power and water supplies, from food shops and laundry services to factories and workshops, are being forced to close.
Rapidly approaching, says B'Tselem, is the moment when Gaza's economy -- already under an internationally backed siege to penalise the Palestinians for democratically electing a Hamas government -- will simply expire under the strain.
The Internet is truly an amazing place. I had a very good friend that I met back in the late 1960s — Hardy. We used to do sports car rallies, he drove and I was his navigator. He was even my landlord for a while. He moved back to Princeton in the mid 1970s but we kept in touch and, when I was in Buffalo on the occasional wind tunnel test, I would visit him. We lost track of each other in the mid 1980s. That has always bothered me for he was like a big brother to me in many ways. He helped me out many times. He even gave me his dad's 4x5 Graflex. I don't like losing good friends like that. Every year or so I would do a people search for him, but nada. Last night I was going through some old bookmarks and saw the bookmark for my search for Hardy and clicked on it. There was an address and telephone number! I called him this morning. It was good. Very good.
The Alaska State Ferries used to dock in Seattle, now the only come down as far as Bellingham, just south of the Canadian border. Passage and state rooms were booked separately. I just booked passage and laid out my sleeping bag on one of the lawn chairs on the aft sun deck. Sat there and watched some of the most glorious scenery slip by. You probably can't do that now.
In order to keep the verticals vertical and to get the top of the stack, I had to exceed the coverage of the little 90mm Angulon. I thought that including the image circle was pretty daring. Of course, Atget did that 100 years ago.
This is the town of Wrangell on the island of Wrangell, from on high. You can see that it revolves around the sawmill and millpond. You are looking south down the Inside Passage. Off the coast of British Colombia and Southeast Alaska are rows of islands. Except for one spot (as I recall) there is no exposure to the ocean. These protected waters are a paradise for boaters. You can't drive to Wrangell. There is no bridge to the mainland. There are no roads on the mainland. There is an airport that handles jets and the Alaska State Ferry docks here. Looking at the Wrangell link above, it appears the sawmill may not be there anymore. Now there are cruise ships. Progress.
Another interesting pairing of books that arrived from the library at the same time. The Last Steam Railroad in America by O. Winston Link, which I ordered a week ago after making a post about him, and Burtynsky - China, by Edward Burtynsky, that the library bought at my request and I've been waiting for a couple of months for it to arrive. Together that make a pair of bookends; bookends at each end of the oil age. What started me on this train of thought was the O. Winston Link picture I posted last week:
O. Winston Link "Sometimes the Electricity Fails, Vesuvius, Virginia"
What struck me was the juxtapostion of symbols of different eras. The 1952 Buick convertible is at the beginning of the postwar boom of consumption. The gas pump is from an earlier era. An era without electricity. The gas was hand pumped by the lever into the tank above. Then it is gravity fed into the gas tank. The coal fired steam engine in the background is also from another era. The end of one era meets the beginning of another.
The Last Steam Railroad in America by O. Winston Link
I checked out this book because I loved the flash bulb night photography of O. Winston Link. This book had some of the photographs I knew but not all. It had something much more. One was text that covered how Link got into taking these pictures and a little of how he did it. He took these pictures to document a way of life that was vanishing. He didn't plan on doing much with theses pictures until many years later when there would be interest in the this past. Link was somewhat of a dinosaur himself. Photography was moving to 35mm and medium format at this time. Link was a large format commercial photographer, a dying breed. All these pictures, except for a few taken with his Rolleiflex, were taken with a 4x5 Graphic View:
Nice camera, even today. The most amazing pictures were the daytime pictures of the Virginia Creeper, a mixed freight and passenger train that wound it's way through the Virgina countryside, passing by subsistence farms and small towns, averaging 25mph. Many of the pictures are in color taken during the fall. The engines on this line, and the passenger cars, were 50 years old then. O. Wisnton Link captured a time warp. A world where people traveled using coal and steam from town to town, and not oil. O. Winston Link was was an anonymous commercial photographer who we would never of heard about but for this personal project that he took on. He wasn't just taking pictures of hardware but also of the people around this steam railroad. Truly amazing. I've added this one to my Amazon wish list as well as an earlier O. Winston Link book: Steam Steel and Stars.
Burtynsky - China by Edward Burtynsky
Edward Burtynsky's imagery explores the intricate link between industry and nature, combining the raw elements of mining, quarrying, shipping, oil production, and recycling into eloquent, highly expressive visions that find beauty and humanity in the most unlikely places. These images are metaphors for the dilemma of our modern existence: we are drawn by desire--the desire to live well and in comfort--yet we all know that the world is suffering to meet those demands. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into uneasy contradiction and feeds the dialogue in Burtynsky's images between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. Burtysnky's latest body of work gives visual form to the industrial and urban transformation of China, a place where industrial forces are gathering on a scale that the world has never experienced before. If the earth's resources were up to now under siege through western colonialism and technological progress, then China is on the brink of a sweeping assault on the planet's ecosystem that is only just forming and is nowhere close to expressing its full impact.
Now we find ourselves at the end of the oil age and China is really gearing up to suck up what oil is left. Burtynsky's images are both beautiful and scary. O. Winston Link's subjects lived so much lighter on the land. His world was still 15 years away from a transcontinental highway system. Now we are using up oil and resources at a prodigous rate and the Chinese are working to out do us.
While the 1950s saw large format photography overcome by 35mm cameras, large format photography never went away and Burtynsky is one of the best of the modern users of this format.
Still some more Wrangell 4x5 transparencies to go. Better get through them. I have 6 rolls of 120 to scan and I just dropped off 3 rolls of 35mm. And then there are the two rolls of 120 to send in to the lab. Maybe three.
The End of Eden James Lovelock Says This Time We've Pushed the Earth Too Far
"It's going too fast," he says softly. "We will burn."
Why is that?
"Our global furnace is out of control. By 2020, 2025, you will be able to sail a sailboat to the North Pole. The Amazon will become a desert, and the forests of Siberia will burn and release more methane and plagues will return."
Sulfurous musings are not Lovelock's characteristic style; he's no Book of Revelation apocalyptic. In his 88th year, he remains one of the world's most inventive scientists, an Englishman of humor and erudition, with an oenophile's taste for delicious controversy. Four decades ago, his discovery that ozone-destroying chemicals were piling up in the atmosphere started the world's governments down a path toward repair. Not long after that, Lovelock proposed the theory known as Gaia, which holds that Earth acts like a living organism, a self-regulating system balanced to allow life to flourish.
Apparently on the theory that misery always appreciates good company, several readers have directed me to this article about British scientist James Lovelock and his warning that catastrophic global climate change is both imminent and unstoppable:
Within the next decade or two, Lovelock forecasts, Gaia will hike her thermostat by at least 10 degrees. Earth, he predicts, will be hotter than at any time since the Eocene Age 55 million years ago, when crocodiles swam in the Arctic Ocean.
"There's no realization of how quickly and irreversibly the planet is changing," Lovelock says. "Maybe 200 million people will migrate close to the Arctic and survive this. Even if we took extraordinary steps, it would take the world 1,000 years to recover."
C'mon Jim, give it to us without the sugar coating. We can take it.
How's this for poetic justice? In future years, the White House and all those federal agencies accused of acting too slowly after Hurricane Katrina smashed New Orleans last August will probably find their own D.C. offices threatened by catastrophic flooding from monster storms. They may be hunkering behind massive levees and fantastic floodgates, harried by the annual threat of Katrina-scale hurricanes.
Because one year after the great catastrophe in Louisiana, this much is clear: It's coming here.
Barring a rapid change in our nation's relationship to fossil fuels, every American within shouting distance of an ocean -- including all of us in the nation's capital -- will become de facto New Orleanians. Imagine a giant floodgate spanning the Potomac River just north of Mount Vernon, there to hold back the tsunami-like surge tide of the next great storm. Imagine the Mall, Reagan National Airport and much of Alexandria well below sea level, at the mercy of "trust-us-they'll-hold" levees maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. Imagine the rest of Washington vulnerable to the winds of major hurricanes that churn across a hot and swollen Chesapeake Bay, its surface free of the once vast and buffering wetland grasses and "speed bump" islands that slow down storms.
Because of global warming, this is our future. Oceans worldwide are projected to rise as much as three feet this century, and much higher if the Greenland ice sheet melts away. And intense storms are already becoming much more common. These two factors together will in essence export the plight of New Orleans, bringing the Big Easy "bowl" effect here to the Washington area, as well as to Charleston, S.C., Miami, New York and other coastal cities. Assuming we want to keep living in these cities, we'll have to build dikes and learn to exist beneath the surface of surrounding tidal bays, rivers and open seas -- just like New Orleans.
That's the word coming today from the FDA: they want everyone to avoid bagged spinach until they can get to the bottom of a nasty outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7, a virulent strain that infects an estimated 70,000 people in the United States and kills about 60. A number of people have gotten sick in the new outbreak, apparently from eating contaminated spinach, and there's been a report of one death in Wisconsin.
There's a fascinating--albeit gruesome--backstory to this outbreak, which I've been researching for my next book, a portrait of Escherichia coli. Escherichia coli is regular inhabitant of the human gut (not to mention the guts of mammals and birds). You carry about a trillion harmless E. coli. E. coli has also become the model par excellence for understanding the nuts and bolts of life. Lots of Nobel Prizes were awarded for research on these fascinating bugs.
In 2003 I said we had a housing bubble. As usual with bubbles (the same thing happened in the 90's stock market bubble) there was much denial. Now that we're finally past the denial, let's look at what the collapse of the bubble will mean.
Unemployment Over the course of the last recovery real estate related jobs made up the largest proportion of new jobs. Most months, there would have been a net loss of jobs if it were not for the real estate sector (and remember this is larger than just construction, but includes the financial sector, forestry and so on.) When the housing market craters, so will jobs.
Oversupply There will be an oversupply of houses on the market. The crash doesn't end until the oversupply is worked off. The first sign is always (and this has happened) increased time to sale. The second part is when prices start actually dropping. One reasons the naysayers moaned about how housing doesn't burst, it just sort of stagnates, is that traditinally a lot of people live in their houses, and they won't lower prices. But too many people this time either bought houses for spec, or have variable rate mortgages where the cost of the loan will simply become so great they either must sell or hand the key back to the bank. Both options will be taken.
IRBIT is a small city in western Siberia, situated on the bleak plains east of the Ural Mountains. In the main square, it has a statue of Lenin that cheeky capitalists have painted pink.
That monument is not the only thing that distinguishes Irbit: its 43,000 or so permanent residents are said to own, in toto, some 60,000 motorcycles. Noteworthy, indeed, for a place with a subarctic climate — brief cool summers and brutal winters worthy of a Boris Pasternak epic.
Still, it is a mecca for the Russian motorcyclist, with two vocational schools for motorcycle mechanics, a university for motorcycle engineers, a motorcycle museum, a huge annual biker rally — and the factory where motorcycles sold under the Ural name are made. Irbit is Daytona, Sturgis and Milwaukee all rolled into one.
To a market that seems to have endless affection for nostalgic machinery, Ural brings an interesting product line: sidecar-equipped motorcycles that look for all the world like vintage BMW’s. (This is not a coincidence.) The bikes offer a curious blend of modern technology, like a front disc brake, and retro touches, like spare wheels and gas-can carriers; some have a powered wheel on the sidecar, an artifact of military service. Prices in the United States top out slightly above $10,000.
One of my core assumptions about a U.S. sneak attack on Iran has been that the war would quickly spread -- to Iraq, the Persian Gulf and Lebanon, and to the rest of the world via terrorist attacks. This would give the neocons that third or fourth world war they’ve been looking for, although probably under conditions that would make it impossible for the United States to win.
But I’ve been having serious second thoughts about that assumption, in part because the Iranians simply aren’t acting as if they expect all-out war, or even a climactic showdown over their nuclear program.
At first I thought this was due to miscalculation -- that the strategists in Tehran had concluded the Cheney Administration was in way too much trouble in Iraq to even think about launching another war of choice, especially one in which the costs would vastly outweigh the benefits.
As Col. Gardiner has already reminded us, that kind of analysis is both strategically correct and extremely naïve.
You can call Iran’s rulers many things, but naïve is generally not one of them. Ahmadinejad can and sometimes does come across like the kind of loon who tries to sell you religious pamphlets at the airport (or did, before security got so tight) but the nonchalance emanating from Tehran these days is too widespread and brassy to credit just to him.
The Iranians must see the same signs we all do: the deliberately incited media frenzy, the melodramatic warnings from exile groups, the intelligence strong arm tactics, the stovepipe operations, the efforts to discredit the UN inspectors, and now the military deployments. How can they be so seemingly certain it’s just an elaborate bluff? Even the Israeli air assault on Lebanon doesn’t appear to have made a dent in their confidence.
It finally occurred to me that I may have been looking at this the wrong way. I’ve been thinking about an American air strike as the Cheney Administration's way of kicking over the table and ending the chess match. But the Iranians may see it as simply another move on the board -- a disastrously bad move they could then exploit to improve their position.
It’s not so much that the Iranians want the Americans to attack their country, but they may be fully prepared to deal with it and use it to their own Machiavellian advantage -- not just politically and diplomatically, but also to advance their alleged nuclear ambitions. They may even be counting on it. If this is correct, their initial reaction to a U.S. air strike may be surprisingly restrained.
But this, in turn, raises some ominous questions: If a conventional air strike, even a big one, won't scare the Iranians, what will? And how far up the escalation ladder is the Cheney Administration willing to go to try to force them to knuckle under?
The War in Vietman ended when I was in second grade. I have vaugue memories of televsion images of helicopters on rooftops.
I found this book on the sale shelf of a nearby library. At first I thought that a student had scribbled all over the insides. Then I saw that the author was an I Corp Marine and had experienced first-hand many of the events and places described by Michael Herr in his book. I was entranced.
There are over sixty images in this series. Clicking on each brings up a maginified version so you can more easily read the handwriting.
Take a deep breath. Get some coffee. This takes time.
America is now engaged in a transition that has never before been attempted. It has hollowed out its manufacturing sector (more than 3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since Bush took office) looted its treasury, and plunged the country into irreversible debt. Its major corporations and banks have disconnected from the mainland and operate as sovereign islands protected by the US military and international trade law. They have no allegiance to America and are unaccountable to anyone except their own shareholders.
Dollar-hegemony is critical to their ongoing success as it keeps the basic unit of exchange; paper money, in the control of fellow-elites at Federal Reserve. Absent that power, American plutocrats would be unable to perpetuate the system of trading debt (US dollars) for resources and manufactured goods. If Bush succeeds in his global resource war, then countries will be forced to use the dollar regardless of how much debt it has accumulated.
The most effective strategy for bringing the dollar into balance with the other currencies is to “democratize” the system and allow the free exchange of goods and resources in one’s own currency. This would eliminate the dependence on a reserve currency and make the United States accountable for its own prodigious debt. This, in turn, would force American leaders to revitalize the manufacturing sector as a way of restoring economic solvency.
The dependence on a “reserve currency” inevitably creates winners and losers. It is an invitation to massive account imbalances as well as corruption and exploitation. Greater parity among the currencies should be encouraged as a way of strengthening democracies and invigorating markets. It promises to breathe new life into international trade by allowing other political models to flourish without fear of being subsumed into the capitalist prototype.
The dominance of the greenback has created a global empire which is controlled by a small group of corporatists and autocrats who depend on bullying and brute force to maintain their supremacy. The only way to restore the republic is to topple the empire, dislodge the dollar from its lofty perch, and even the playing field with the other currencies.
How is it that I, a fan of cool and strange music since age 5, could possibly have lived so long without ever having heard of Harry "The Hipster" Gibson, a cat so cool, an ivory tickler so righteous, he makes Jerry Lee Lewis look like a square with 10 thumbs? The best part is that Harry was doing Jerry a good 15 years before the Killer ever thought of standing up on his piano bench and marrying his 13-year old cousin.
Six Palestinian churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip suffered damage and arson attempts in reaction to the words of Pope Benedict XVI. Palestinian spokesmen of all stripes condemned these attacks and said that the Palestinian nation - Christians and Muslims alike - is one, and is united in its struggle against the occupation. Reports on the attacks in the Palestinian media described the perpetrators as "unknown." In the Palestinian subtext, "unknown" implies "of suspicious identity," a phrase that borders on a half-concealed accusation that Israel's Shin Bet security services sent agents provocateurs.
In Tubas, where an attempt to set fire to a church failed thanks to the residents' alertness, people said openly that the thrower of the Molotov cocktail might be connected to the Israeli occupation. But the mayor of Tubas, Oqab Darghmeh, who raised this possibility, also proposed another option: Perhaps the perpetrator acted out of ignorance.
Most of the critics, however, did not point an accusatory finger at the Shin Bet. They cannot deny the ills that have become so widespread in Palestinian society: criminal behavior and hooliganism masked by the images and jargon of a national struggle, and the growing use of weapons in personal and public conflicts, with the encouragement of Palestinian political actors, who are in need of the atmosphere of chaos in order to be seen as "strong."
But is it possible to separate these ills completely from the Israeli occupation?
It is now clear that Israel and its loyalists had three main goals in mind as they began their campaign. Two were familiar motives from previous attempts at highlighting a "new anti-Semitism". The third was new.
The first aim, and possibly the best understood, was to stifle all criticism of Israel, particularly in the US. During the course of 2003 it became increasingly apparent to journalists like myself that the American media, and soon much of the European media, was growing shy of printing even the mild criticism of Israel it usually allowed. By the time Israel began stepping up the pace of construction of its monstrous wall across the West Bank in spring 2003, editors were reluctant to touch the story.
As the fourth estate fell silent, so did many of the progressive voices in our universities and churches. Divestment was entirely removed from the agenda. McCarthyite organisations like CampusWatch helped enforce the reign of intimidation. Academics who stood their ground, like Columbia University's Joseph Massad, attracted the vindictive attention of new activist groups like the David Project.
Every once in a while I run across a picture of a typewriter and wander off googling for more. I still have the typewriter I bought with the money I earned the summer I was 13.
It's an Olivetti Lettera 22. A pretty little thing. A classic in it's own right. I've been thinking about cleaning it up but there are too many other projects in the way. I'm not sure why I want a functioning typewriter. I haven't used one since I installed the AppleWorks word processor on my Apple IIc in 1985. But there is something about the look and feel of a mechanical typewriter. And it's portable. Batteries not required. So I found some typewriter sites that I've been to before and some new ones. Looked at all the typewriters for sale. I want a Smith-Corona Super Silent.
If only I had the money! Look throught the typewriter sites below. Wonderful little mechanical beings.