Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Know when to hold'em

this is a map showing the path of Katrina.  It will take you to the NOAA site So, was everybody impressed by Hurricane Katrina? I know I was. Are you ready for more? Well, of course not, who is. I suppose the obvious rant for this entry is global warming. Now, dont start thinking, "Oh boy, here goes Dave again, stupid Liberal!"
Quit that! Take your fingers out of your ears and stop that damn humming! I'm not yet convinced that this is a case of global warming, or that global warming is even happening (in a man-made sense). I say this because there's still a lot of debate going on (even though it seems to be pretty lopsided),and because this is a global question. In case no one noticed, the globe is a really, really, really big place. I'm not sure that 5, 10, 20, or even 100 years is enough time to tell what's going on.
No, my problem is not with the science, which I'm still waiting on, but the policy.
Imagine this: You're cold, and you need a sweater, so you go to the store to buy one (this is America, after all). They have two choices. One is wool sweater. It'll keep you warm, but you know it's going to be a bit itchy. The other is incredibly, magically soft, and is guaranteed never to be too warm or too cold; the drawback (and you knew there was one) is that there's about a 50/50 chance that the sweater will suddenly sever your head from your neck. Which sweater do you choose.
Personally speaking, I'm wearing wool.
Maybe politicians are made of sterner stuff. After, almost nobody (except maybe really rich kids) ever get to the heights of power without taking a few big chances. Maybe they would take the magic sweater. But in theory, this is supposed to be a representive government. If they want to wear the magic sweater, fine with me, a 50% decrease in politicians would suit me fine. But I dont appreciate them making me wear it, too.
Too much analogy for you? Okay, here it is in a nutshell: If there is a chance that we are making life unlivable on this planet (the only one we have so far), wouldnt it be wise to stop doing the things that may be destroying it?
Years from now, if further studies show we're wrong, that we havent been warming the planet, then we can all slap ourselves on the forehead and have a good laugh with our grandchildren. Then we'll all go out, get into our electric hum-vees (charged with renewable resources) and go have a picnic someplace in the clean air.

Quiz Time!

Hey Keeds! It's time to take a Current Events Quiz from your ol' Uncle Dave. Below are six quotes criticising the War Effort. Match the quotes with the dastardly Liberal traitors who dast to utter them:

  1. (The President) is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
  2. "If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
  3. "I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
  4. "Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
  5. "You can support the troops but not the president"
  6. "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
Now, which of these fiends were giving aid and comfort to the enemy through their unpatriotic rantings:
  1. Al Franken
  2. John Kerry
  3. Ted Kennedy
  4. Noam Chomsky
  5. General Wesley Clark
  6. John Stewart

Nyah, Nyah, it was a trick question! Imagine I'm the mongoose and you're the cobra; I'm dancin' around you going, "trick! trick! trick!". All of these quotes come from Republicans during the Clinton administration's intervention in the Balkans. You remember the Balkans, dont you. Maybe the name Kosovo will ring a bell. Repressed Muslims, no oil, ethnic cleansing, ruthless dictator, no oil. But more important, no American soldiers Killed in Action.
Of course, since Bill Clinton was the Republican's Anti-Christ, he could do nothing right, even when going into a region of centuries-old ethnic conflicts (with a military that was considered grossly declined since the Reagan years) and still managing to accomplish his task in just a couple of years. It's certainly a good thing BushCo hasnt been involved in an kind of sex scandal or anything. In times of war it's very important to keep focused on the conflict at hand.
While the spin is all mine, I would like to extend my thanks to David Brin from whom I stole these quotes. His site has more of them, plus a much more erudite commentary on them than you're likely to get from me. On the other hand, he will probably never, ever make a Rikki Tikki Tavi reference.
Below, in the same order, are the correct names to go with the quotes:

  1. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)
  2. Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of presidential candidate George W. Bush
  3. Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)
  4. Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99
  5. Representative Tom Delay (R-TX), again
  6. Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

Monday, August 29, 2005

oh, brother!

My brother has always been the more mainstream of the two us. He could even be described as conservative (I'm pretty sure he voted for BushCo in 2000). His original college degree was in Political Science, then he studied accounting (how much more Republican can you get). So, of course, I occasionally like to send him something radical, if only to get a rise out him. The last time it was copy of a list by Lawrence Britt called the 14 Points of Fascism, which I found courtesy of permanentrevolution (actually, his link was a lot wordier, had no BushCo links, and is now gone).
Anyway, the response I got back was funny at first, but becomes more chilling the more I think about it. This is what he said:

I was afraid to hit any link on that stuff. Just because you don't care that you're on some "Subversive Communist List" that the government keeps doesn't mean that I want to join you.
Ho ho ho, funny brother!
Except that even if he thought that he was joking, he still had the idea that simply looking at a site that discusses fascism in the context of our administration would get him put on a watch list. In America, land of the free, and home of the brave. Paranoia, from my brother, the Accountant. Now, me, I've always assumed that I'm on some sort of list, if only because I've been a registered Independant for as long as I've been a voter. Just because J. Edgar is gone doesnt mean the Feds quit keeping lists, even before the Patriot Act. But my Brother? This was a guy who once considered joining the CIA (poly-sci, remember?). A-c-c-o-u-n-t-a-n-t. No radical thinking here, and yet now he makes jokes about Lists.
In America, when straight and narrow ex-(but not really)-fratboys like my brother start worrying about being on government lists, you know somethings gone atilt. Wake up folks! Something's starting to smell. Most people havent admitted it to themselves yet, but you can tell they sense it, you can see their noses twitching. Question is, is it the garbage, or is the house on fire?

fooling with orphans

Oh man, more wierdness here about a hoax involving a series of stories bout a single parent soldier and his daughter and their separation anguish while he was in Iraq. (props to Ran Prieur) . Why would somone do something like this? (that was a rhetorical question, by the way).

America's Greatest Fascists

Take a look at how America's Greatest generation have become the Fascists they once fought against.
The American Legion, which has 2.7 million members, has declared war on antiwar protestors, and the media could be next. Speaking at its national convention in Honolulu, the group's national commander called for an end to all “public protests” and “media events” against the war, even though they are protected by the Bill of Rights.

"The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples," Thomas Cadmus, national commander, told delegates at the group's national convention in Honolulu.The delegates voted to use whatever means necessary to "ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism."
(thanx to the folks at Effect Measure.)
Astonishing, really. The Orwellian abilities of the BushCorp and their supporters never ceases to amaze (and depress) me. The Legion has, in effect said, "we fought hard to protect Freedom, which you people just seem to insist on using, so obviously to keep it safe from people like you we're going to have to take it away." I guess they think that Freedom of speech means being allowed to agree with those in charge. If this is the case, then I dont know what we're doing in Iraq, since they already had that. But maybe I should let Teddy Roosevelt say it better:
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president... or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong... is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." (thanks to J. Sommersby in the Dallas Morning News)
Obviously we are still suffering the madness of the Viet Nam war. During that war protesters took out much of their fury on the soldiers returning home from the war (which was not only cruel, but piss-poor thinking).
Now, our leaders tell us that by criticising the war effort we are guilty of damaging our troops (which is not only a lie, but piss-poor thinking). The problem that the protesters had then is the same one that those currently in charge would like for you to think is the problem now: that Anti-war protesters hate America's soldiers. But the problem the protesters have is not with the soldiers (that was the Viet Nam generation, which many of our current leaders, like Dubya, once belonged to), it is with the leaders who have put the soldiers in harm's way.
America has made a godawful mess over there, and simply running away before we've cleaned it up or been asked to leave (and who would blame them for that?) would be immoral. What protesters need to be focused on is making sure those responsible for these terrible decisions are called to account for them. Before the election of 2004 America may have been able to weasel out of responsibility by saying, "it was them!" and pointing fingers at BushCo. But now with Bush reelected the world will make us all shoulder the respondsibility for America's actions, and rightly so, because (barring the provable discovery of voter fraud) we let them stay in power (via the democracy - choice!- our administration goes on and on about).
We need to make sure that groups like the American Legion are not allowed to persuade anyone outside of their own fascist fantasy-land to believe these statements. We cant stop them from making them, and shouldnt be able to. The trick here is to make their statements seem to the majority of people to be no more reasonable than those of the KKK or the Flat Earthers.
This seems like it ought to be easy, but apparently it isnt. Personally, I can imagine bin Laden saying something like "we vow to use whatever means necessary to ensure the united backing of the Islamist peoples to support our fighters and the global war on the Infidel".
But I'll save any comments I have of the BushCorps ability to say things that "our" enemies could easily have said word for word for another time. In the meantime, go see your grandpa, thank him for helping to preserve our precious freedoms, then give a good dope slap. Not for me, but for the fight against global terrorism.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

running bird

Here's a good article about the murders of Mexican women in Cuidad Juarez by lasomniloquy, who was the first person to leave a comment on one of my blogs. Unfortunately, the next three have been spammers, so I guess I'm going to have to turn on the verification thingy for my comments.
Plus, in addition to the story, check out the cool sculpture of a roadrunner made with tennis shoes.

the Dream

I had this dream last night. It's all kind of hazy now, but I'll try to recall it.
I dreamed that a high-profile moderate Republican, maybe John McCain, and high-profile moderate Democrat, say Leiberman or Edwards, got together, and decided that each were sick of extremist elements in their parties. So they create their own party. One of the first things they declared was that the party platform would forbid a unified stance on baby-with-the-bathwater issues such as abortion or gay marriage. These issues would be decided on a person-by-person basis, but there would be no litmus test for this "moderate" party. As money started to come in from web-based campaigning, grass-roots support groups sprung up around the country. Pretty soon other moderate members started join, causing their respective parties to shift even farther out out from the center, which drove even more moderates to the new party. Soon, the New Party was winning elections on local, state and national levels.
The Republican and Democratic parties, both moving further and further to the edges of the political spectrum, began to lose power, causing power struggles and turmoil within them. (This wasnt in my dream, but I suspect the Dems would ultimately shift to a position a bit more moderate, while the Neo-cons left in the Republican party would pursue a self-destructive policy of ideological "purity".)
As a result of the New Party's increased power, Science was again cut loose to pursue knowledge unfiltered by politics and ideology (except on an individual scientist's own basis, of course), and War was again given over to Professionals, with politics only being used in the decision to pursue it. Then, a true miracle (one that, I'll admit, make this obviously a dream): decisions began to be made in a rational and pragmatic manner on everything from education to tax codes to welfare.


It was a lovely dream.

Then I read this editorial in the New York Times. Seeds of the dream, perhaps?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

time, ladies & gentlemen

Now, as I work on this blog, I am 40+ years old, and have a wife, two daughters, and a step-son, all of whom I love dearly. 3 out of 5 of us have cell-phones. My brother and in-laws all have them. My mother just got one, too. I use a computer built by my brother-in-law; it's cranky, but stable. I drive an old beater, but it starts every time and I love it. My favorite CD is Dan Zanes and Friends' Night Music.

1 minute ago I was thinking about this blog.

1 hour ago I was going to the bathroom, and thinking about this blog. I seem to have blogorrhea.

1 day ago I was doing more or less the same thing as I am today. Except I was thinking about yesterday's blog.

1 week ago, one daughter had just finished the first week of the new school year, and the other was ready to start hers, and the house was much quieter.

1 month ago, everyone was home for the summer, the heat starting to get to everyone, and stir-crazyness was setting in.

1 season ago, school had just let out for the summer, and everyone had plans.

1 year ago was just about like today, except I had no blog then, nor DSL. My wife bought a new car that summer, but I was still driving an old beater. My favorite CD was a collection called Planet Accordion (really).

5 years ago I had only one daughter. Dont ever let anyone tell that it's the Terrible Twos, because it's not. The 3s and 4s are what you've got to watch out for, when they go from cute and sweet to demanding and obnoxious. We had just moved into bigger digs, and had a nice (relatively new) car. I was computing on an E-machine with a Cyrix CPU and accessed the internet thru dial-up. My favorite CD was James Brown's Greatest Hits.

10 years ago I had no daughters, good credit, and worked in the daytime. We had just moved into new digs from our home with my in-laws. My car was an old beater, but it always started and I loved it. I had seen the Internet, but never used it, and used my IBM XT (upgraded to 286) almost exclusively for word processing and Ultima IV. No one I knew had a cell phone, and without caller ID we had to answer every call. My favorite CD was David Byrne's Rei Momo.

20 years ago I had just moved to Austin. I'd changed schools, behaved foolishly with a girl, moved into a house with my friends, and opened a new bank account (which I still have, by the way). No one I knew had a computer except my mom, who had a CPM-based Kaypro. My car was an old beater into which I put at least four starters. I was still rather fond of it. My favorite LP was Thomas Dolby's Golden Age of Wireless.

40 years ago I was a fresh-faced babe, still cute and sweet. Television came in over the an antenna; if you were really lucky you might have 5 channels, but most people had only three. You watched a show when it was scheduled, or you missed it. Phones were rotary dialed, and firmly wired to the wall. Computers were devices the size of an armoire which read punch cards. My father's car had no seatbelts whatsoever, and I rode in my mother's arms or in the backseat. My favorite song was probably Pop goes the Weasel.

80 years ago neither of my parents were born. There was no television. Maybe only half the people had a telephone (almost all in urban areas) or a radio. There were no computers, interstates or jet planes. If you wanted to hear a song, you sang it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

tin foil hat time. again.

I love a nice, juicy conspiracy theory. They're good thought exercises and always lots of fun. But most of the time I think what we call conspiracies are nothing more than pure, bastardly, bloody-minded ruthlessness. This, coupled with the informational advance warning that comes with high station, allows the wealthy and powerful of the world to take advantage of opportunities that the rest of us never see until it's too late. Not prescience, but positioning.
I do think "extreme" theories can sometimes lead to truth, or partial truth. I once thought that perhaps BushCo had invaded Iraq to deliberately create a kind of terrorist magnet, thereby Keeping America Safe; but I dismissed that as being too cynical, even for this administration. The America that I liked to think I lived in would never sacrifice tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent people from an uninvolved country just to keep itself safe. Unfortunately, now I hear members of the Administration bragging about how America has been kept safe because the terrorists are going to Iraq instead of here. Worse (in an ethical sense), I know that there is a significant chunk of people in this country who have no problem with this, and a large chunk of those people who are smugly attributing their safety to having voted for the "moral" candidate. It's shameful and nauseating and I fervently hope that these are just the statements of amoral weasels trying to profit politically from the sufferings of others.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

another day in Hell

Temperatures right now:
96°Big D (expected: 100)
76°Des Moines
77° Santa Fe
71° Seattle
79° NYC
77° LA
83° Cincinnati
81° Marfa
92° Austin
89° Stillwater
91° Mobile
82° Denver
73 °Milwaukee
79° Houston
92° Las Vegas
62 °San Francisco

Buying the farm instead of selling it

First, the quote:

"Consider this. If YOU were an enemy of the United States, and you looked across the last 60 years, what would you call our most devastating mistake? The thing that wrecked our confidence and unity and military readiness and economy... ...An idiotic, incompetently waged foreign war in a futile setting and low priority locale, guaranteed to raise insurgent resistance, demolish our alliances and leadership position, and to set our culture aflame, while wasting the surplus that might be spent on research and other investment. If you were our ENEMY, you'd look for our achilles heel and come up with a plan... to get us to do what we are doing right now." David Brin from: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2005/08/reviewing-provocative-book-republican.html#comments

Okay, this is a bit of a paranoid way of looking at things, a wee bit too tinfoil hat for my taste.
Despite the situation in Iraq proving to be a perfect recruitment tool for his jihad, I doubt bin Laden was thinking about dragging the U.S. into a VietNam-style war. He just wanted to bitch-slap America. Just as few people could image anyone flying fully-loaded passenger jets into buildings, fewer still could image the leader of one of the most influential countries in the world pissing away the regard of the global community in an inept attempt to steal another country's oil wealth.
This is one of the things that most boggles my mind about the whole BushCorp/Iraq fiasco. They threw away decades of wisdom about American Hegemony in order to play at Soldiers. When the Soviet Union fell, while everyone may have acknowledged that the American military might held the USSR in check, most thinking people would also say that what really felled communism was Economic power. Even as we speak, economic power continues to erode the last great bastion of Marxism, China. Why? Because whatever they may say, they crave a Western lifestyle, with all it's attendant goodies. Billions of dollars flow into Asia from America every year, but culturally they're still wallowing in our power.
BushCorp seems to think that if we just go in and blow up enough stuff, all the while making pretty talk about Democracy, that the Middle East will fall down at our feet. With a bit of patience, and a lot of marketting, we could have had them begging to be thoroughly Westernized within a generation, and paying us for the priviledge. Now they hate us more than ever, and that generation will be doing it's level best to kill us instead.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Oh please, Rick, please save us from the bad, bad fairies!

Thank God that there's still some decency left in this wicked, wicked world. Not a day goes by when some homosexual activist in a pink trenchcoat doesnt come up to me, handing out pamphlets and trying to whisper in my ears about the joys of sodomy. Every other night one of my daughters will wake up shrieking, "No! No! No! Please dont make me marry a woman! I want a real family!" Then they cry and cry and cry. After the fifth time that my wife tearfully confessed to watching Will and Grace again, I finally (as the rightful, biblically-mandated Head of House) had to get rid of the television. Sure it'll be tough, but I usually watch the Game with my buddies anyway. Fortunately for us God-fearing folk here in Texas, Governor Rentboy is pushing for a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
Hah! That'll show 'em! I mean, if you let gays marry, what's next? That's right, DOGS AND CATS, LIVING TOGETHER! After that, it'd be Anything Goes. Mandatory abortions, four-year limits on marriage, high-heel jack-booted thugs breaking into homes and tearing apart families, maybe even a liberal education in the schools where good clean science is completely ignored and unproven wacko theories like evolution and gravity are taught. Well, buddy, not in my state! My dog stays outside, right where he belongs!

this message paid for by the Republican Council for Strawman Issues

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


God, how I hate this town in the summer! To be honest, I'm not crazy about Big D during most of the year, but that's just because it's a ridiculously oversized place, filled with... well, just filled! But Summer! I grew up in Iowa, and while it can be quite unpleasant there in the summer, it doesnt last. Here the heat goes on and on and on and on. Today it was over 100. Yesterday it was over 100. Tomorrow it will be over 100. That's not the worst of it, though. What's worst is that before it was over 100, it was over 90. Last week. The week before. Two weeks ago. Last month. Two months ago. Normally here, you'll get your first 90+ degree day in late March or early April. By the end of May, it's become a regular thing, and it will remain so here until October. I have what I call the Texas Calendar, and here it is:

January and February
March and April
Summer I
May and June
July and August
Summer II
September and October
November and December
Like I said, I grew up in Iowa, I know what the seasons should be like. Cold fronts should be capable of penetrating the state; instead they are stopped at Fort Texoma on the Red River.
Our poor old rental house has air conditioning which is incapable of keeping up with the heat. Once it passes about 90, the house starts to heat up while the AC runs and runs (creating truly frightening electric bills). My latest car, again, has no air conditioning. Fortunately, this year my father agreed to let me borrow his truck for the summer, for which I am truly grateful. For eight years I've been driving to work, into the sun, every weekday at about 5 pm, the hottest time of the day, and it has been miserable. No air, sun full-force on my chest, the ice in my Big Gulp barely making the half-hour drive. Ugh.
I really must get out of this town.

Monday, August 22, 2005

gratuitous goofiness

"Gosh! Geese, I guess", gasped Gus, then gushed, "Great!"
"Geez!" griped girlfriend Griselda, "get a grip."
Grandfather Greg glared, "Grow up!"
Grandma Gail (who's getting goofy) grimaced. "Goodness, Grandpa, have grace", while generously serving goulash in gourd-shaped grails.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Edjumacation, or, What's happened to Kansas?

I stole this from my wife's blog:

Could You Have Passed the 8th Grade in 1895?

This is the 8th grade final exam from 1895 from Salina, Kansas. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, Kansas, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

Imagine a college student who went to public school trying to pass this test today, even if the few outdated questions were modernized. This gives the saying of an early 20th century person that "She/He only had an 8th grade education" a whole new meaning!

GRAMMAR (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza, and Paragraph.
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of do, lie, lay, and run.
5. Define Case. Illustrate each Case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

ARITHMETIC (Time, one hour)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 feet deep, 10 feet long, and 3 feet wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 pounds, what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu., deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at 20 cents per sq. foot?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per are, the distance around which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. HISTORY (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates:

ORTHOGRAPHY (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e'. Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Ball, mercy, sir, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences,
cite, site, sightfane,fain, feignvane, vain, veinraze, raise, rays
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

GEOGRAPHY (Time, one hour)

1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall, and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

the answers can be found here: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/quizzes/8thgrade_answers.cfm

just gotta share this

This is from the sighsofmylife blog again:

"Tim Klimowicz has created an animated map of Iraq that marks the death of each soldier from the U.S.-led coalition with a small dot, placing the toll of warfare in both time and space. The time-lapse animation runs at ten frames per second, with each day assigned its own frame. Fatalities first flash onto the map as momentary red blossoms, which quickly subside until only a dark dot remains on the approximate geographic location of the deadly incident."


"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."

-- James Madison

"There may be a limit beyond which many Americans and much of the world will not permit the United States to go. The picture of the world's greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1000 non-combatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission, on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one. It could conceivably produce a costly distortion in the American national consciousness."

Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton, May 1967

"If you consider that there has been an average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theater of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000.
"The rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000. That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation's Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.
"Conclusion: We should immediately pull out of Washington D.C."

from http://sighsofmylife.blogspot.com/

"Today, corporatism or neo-corporatism is used as a pejorative term in reference to perceived tendencies in politics for legislators and administrations to be influenced or dominated by the interests of business enterprises. The influence of other types of corporations, such as labor unions, is perceived to be relatively minor. In this view, government decisions are seen as being influenced strongly by which sorts of policies will lead to greater profits for favored companies. In this sense of the word, corporatism is also termed corporatocracy. If there is substantial military-corporate collaboration it is often called militarism or the military-industrial complex.

John Ralston Saul argues that most Western societies are best described as corporatist states, run by a small elite of professional and interest groups, that exclude political participation from the citizenry.

Critics of capitalism often argue that any form of capitalism would eventually devolve into corporatism, due to the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. A permutation of this term is corporate globalism.

from the Wikipedia entry on corporatism.

"Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do."
--Dale Carnegie

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Red/Blue, my ass!

This is just a quickie. The Red/Blue debate is nothing more than an us-or-them arguement, which, if you're paranoid enough, you could sayis put forth to keep us all Hatfield-and-McCoying so that we dont recognise the true bad guys.
Here is a map of voting results by county, shaded from red to blue depending on the percentage each way. As you can see, much of the country is rather purply. If you go to http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/ you can see a map that is warped to expand or shrink area according to population, and that map is even more startlingly purple.

Today's rant: Multi-Volume Novels!

Hold on a minute, let me adjust my tin-foil hat here...

I'm going to spend some time complaining about something that I'd imagine no one else has thought much about, or indeed will care about after I've thought about it for them. I'm talking about the current practice in the Science-Fiction/Fantasy publishing industry to produce huge, multi-volume stories that take years to unwind. Yeah, yeah, I know all that market system crap, the public buys it so it must be what it wants, blah, blah, blah. But if you like a certain author, and the only books s/he puts out are 500 pages long each and the whole tale takes 5 volumes to complete (5 volumes which take 10 years to finish and cost an average of $7.95, or more, each), what are you going to do? You're either going to go with their program, or you're going to give up on the author. Because much of what is published these days is Multi-Volume, both in adult and children's sci-fi/fantasy. Just look for yourself; even brand-new authors are releasing things that are "Book 1 of the Whatever Saga".
Now, my feeling, is that while it is very lucrative for both publishers and authors to create a long lasting story-line that people keep coming back to (see Harry Potter), in the long term this strategy may explode in their faces:
Scenario 1: Imagine if you will, someone getting three books into a five book series, then getting hit by a bus (or just plain quitting). Now you've got a bunch of readers who've shelled out 24 bucks (or more if it's an author who rates hardback) to get 60% of a story and who will never see their investment pay off. Oh sure, they'll understand the first time, and probably the second, but after that they'll start to get a bit cranky about it.
Scenario 2: Some people, myself included, get very anxious when their stories dont end. Take Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series: The first three books were seperate entities, each with a story arc that had a beginning, a middle, and, most importantly, an end. Then came book four, the One Tree. It had a beginning, and a middle, but then ended without actually ending! Agony! How many people will respond to this situation the way I did; when Donaldson started his Real Story series, I refused to read it until it was finished. For a writer with the stature of Donaldson, this may not be huge predicament. Even if his sales are halved as people await, he'll still sell a respectable number of books. This may not apply to authors who hover at the lower sales range. If half their readers hold off until completion, they may find themselves dropped (due to low sales) before they finish the series, and we're back to scenario 1 again.
Scenario 3: After experiencing scenario 1 or 2, the reader determines that he's sick of the whole business, and switches genres. I reached this point a couple years ago, and started reading "regular" fiction and, more recently, non-fiction. This is not to say that I no longer read sci-fi/fantasy. I do, lots (Terry Pratchett, anyone?). But I dont read it like I once did. Multiply me by the hundreds, or thousands, as statistically you ought to be able to do, and this cannot be good for the sci-fi/fantasy press, however good it may be for me (Charles Pellegrino, anyone?). Much as I may enjoy the Harry Potter books, I encourage sci-fi/fantasy authors out there everywhere to consider writing things one book at a time. Feel free to use the same characters again and again, 'cause I like that (Terry Pratchett, anyone, again?), but at the end of the book, END THE BOOK!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

it's not plagerising, it's quoting

I just had to reprint this, 'cause it's so damn funny:

The Onion Is a Priceless National Treasure. It has the
latest bulletin from Kansas

The Onion Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory: Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling. "Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.
Burdett added: "Gravity--which is taught to our children as a law--is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force."... The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition and other Christian conservative action groups, is calling for public-school curriculums to give equal time to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue "so they can make an informed decision."
"We just want the best possible education for Kansas' kids," Burdett said. Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that the different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Even critics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics... gravity is a theory in crisis.... "Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to make Einstein's general relativity match up with the subatomic quantum world," said Dr. Ellen Carson, a leading Intelligent Falling expert known for her work with the Kansan Youth Ministry. "They've been trying to do it for the better part of a century now, and despite all their empirical observation and carefully compiled data, they still don't know how."

hee, hee.

I got this from here: http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/

Saturday, August 13, 2005


I've been reading a bunch of political stuff lately. It's not having a good effect on my psyche at all. It's making me angry and depressed. It's making my wife crazy because, as a teacher at the start of the school year, she doesnt want to think about politics right now. But look at this site:


Okay, "fascism" might (might) be a bit strong. So ignore that part. Ignore the 14 different headings. But look at the individual items underneath them. At least one of these things should make you gasp with outrage. A section of a military funding bill which places decisions by the Director of Homeland Security outside of judicial review?! Programmers being asked by Legislators to create programs to subvert electronic voting machines?! Restrictions on who and what can be published IN AMERICA?!!!
Worst of all is the appearance of voting fraud. Now, nothing has been proven. That's certainly what republicans will say, and they would be correct. But, proof or not, if it's possible, someone is going to do it. And if you can arrange a way to take a vote that cannot be subverted electronically (for instance, by not using electronics), then it should be done that way. Voting is too important to do in ANY way that can be subverted. Maybe it'll take longer to count. Maybe it will take longer to tabulate. Maybe it ought to. What's the big hurry anyway? No one will take office for another two months anyway.
Once upon a time, there was this idea that those government officials who served us should avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Nowadays, the Republicans fall back on the very sophistry they condemned their arch-nemisis Bill Clinton for. Carl Rove didnt leak anyone's name, specifically. Of course, he did say that the wife of Joseph C. Wilson was an agent for the CIA, but that's not saying her name. But unlike Clinton, Rove wasnt engaging in a private sexual tryst, he was selling out an agent of the CIA as political payback for disagreement with the administration line. Illegal or not, that kind of thing doesnt just appear improper, it wears a big, red T-shirt that says IMPROPER BEHAVIOR while jumping up and down, waving red flags in both hands, and yelling "Look at Me! Look at Me!" into a stadium-sized concert-quality amplification system.
Now we have what looks a lot like several cases of voting impropriety. Some of them involving two presidential elections. Regardless of what really happened, maybe we need to find a different way of doing it. Or, even better, an old way of doing it. Names next to boxes, X marks the spot, counting by both a Democrat and a Republican, side by side. No scanners; no chads; no silent, invisible, manipulable electronic devices. Just People.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Well, okay, I feel pretty stupid. Last night I posted a reply on David Brin's (author of Startide Rising and The Postman) blogsite (http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/). It was a response to a comment made by someone about political parties and marginalization of moderates by party extremists. Unfortunately, most of the comments that had been made were centered around a debate about Feudalism (pyramid-shaped socio-economic dispersal) versus what I'll call "Enlightened Society" (diamond-shape socio-economic dispersal). Primary to that debate was an arguement centering on the definitions of Feudal and Tribal which seemed to be as much confusion over terms as it was disagreement over philosphy. (English is a huge, messy language, and the problem with having multiple words that "mean the same thing" is that they never do, not really. There are always shades of meaning: to arouse someones ire is not necessarily to make them mad, just because they're mad doesnt mean they're angry, and they can be angry without being furious.)
Anyway, while my response was to a statement made by another commenter (commenter?), and actually fit fairly well into Dr. Brin's original posting (http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2005/08/emotional-roots-for-hypocricies-of.html#comments) it didnt really fit at all into the main body of the discussion going on there. To make matters worse, I made a suggestion that in retrospect looks a lot like sucking up to Dr. Brin. Why do I care? Why do I care? I dont know, I guess it's because I respect the people posting the responses as much as I respect Brin's site. I have no interest in lowering the tone of the discussion, and, by god, I'd hoped to be able to maybe even join in on a discussion that had nothing to do with printing, sports, potties, or the whoring of myself to satisfy the stupidity of our clients.
So, Do I Let It Get Me Down? 'Course not. I shall Bravely Carry On.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I dont normally like to go on about things, but this Intelligent Design thing is really bugging me. When I first heard it on NPR, I had to call my wife, I was so stunned. The "Education President", coming out in favor of, well, let's call a spade a spade, Creationism in the schools! I thought, oh boy, I cant wait to read the articles on this one. But days later, nothing. Granted, I wasnt looking real hard. A quick search (just now) revealed a lot of articles online. But my local paper was silent on the issue. Okay, okay, it is the Dallas Morning News, whose primary interests involve whoring for the local business community and power brokers, but you'ld think it'd rate something. Same with various web homepages. Bill Maher taked about it on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, John Stewart poked at it on the Daily Show, but here in Big D we cant even get one appalled letter to the editor. Sad, really sad. And scary that the man making this suggestion is the same man who WILL BE CHOOSING OUR NEW CHIEF JUSTICE SOME DAY!!!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Hello! A little common sense, please!

Okay, I first heard about this the other day on NPR. In vain I searched the news for other word of it. George Bush, the leader of our country, made the statement that he'd like to see intelligent design taught in the schools of America. Intelligent Design! In, presumably, SCIENCE class.
There should have been outrage, there should have been letters, there should have at least been a small piece on page 6 under the national news items. But, nothing!
Let me be perfectly clear here: Intelligent Design IS NOT SCIENCE! Philosophy, sure, it's philosophy, and if the President would like to add mandatory philosophy classes to the school curriculum under a revision of NO Child Left Behind, that'd be fine. But it's not science, and here's why - How do you create an experiment that tests for the Intelligence? I mean, science searches for proof or evidence, and despite millenia of theory and arguement, no one has come up for any better proof of a Great Intelligence than FAITH. And while faith is fine for Philosophy, or Religion, or Morality, or Cooking, or Child-Rearing, it is no good for Science.