Saturday, December 09, 2006

Where do the hours go?

I've been obsessed with WEBoggle for weeks now. Obsessed. Playing it constantly. Sheesh.

I haven't been this obsessed with an online game since Planarity.

This is so much more fun. And I suck. If I get my name in the top 40 I've won. Or if I have found as many words as I recognize. So many 3-letter words that are totally obscure. And it seems there are throngs of Boggle nerds who know every damned one of them and came type them all out in 3:00 minutes! Oh well. It's just a fun challenge.

Beth is even getting into it!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Angel, RIP

I feel so all alone, so suddenly. Words fail me. For now I'll let Google bring these words to me.
If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons—James Thurber

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down—Robert Benchley

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.—Gilda Radner

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.—Milan Kundera

The more I see of men the more I like dogs.—Anne Louise Germaine de Stael

Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he's owned a dog. He can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes.—Gene Hill

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.—unkown

Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.—Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Many who have spent a lifetime in it can tell us less of love than the child that lost a dog yesterday.—Thornton Wilder
Goodbye Angel. We miss you.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Nurse KC's Diary

Here's a long post chronicling my visit with Teena during her first round of chemo therapy:


I hopped a morning flight from Oakland to Portland. I left the sunny Bay Area and landed in the midst of a record breaking storm. My favorite source of satellite imagery of natural disasters had a great picture of this freakish sub-tropical storm that just happened to be sitting off the Oregon coast -- hardly where sub-tropical storms are supposed to develop. But there it was, pumping record breaking buckets of rain on top of Teena.

And Teena is looking just like Teena. Moving a bit slow from the surgery, but for now she's doing well and feeling relatively good. In the back of my mind I was unsure what to expect. From afar it's hard not to fear what is happening to my sister. As soon as we met I felt a quiet relief. Teena is strong and doing well. As this story progresses we know it will take a toll. Now that I'm here with her, I'm loving the chance to have a nice vacation with TT.

We got out of the airport and headed over check out an acupuncture / massage clinic that Kaiser referred her to -- in the oh-so-hip Hawthorne district. We grab a sandwich at the Grand Central Bakery Cafe and I feel like I'm still in SF. This place is definitely on the map. I'm trying to subtly influence Teena to stay with the acupuncture -- because I really think it will be worthwhile -- but also to make sure this place becomes part of the routine.

We dropped in on the clinic and got Teena hooked up with an appointment for the next day. The women there fit the bill perfectly. Definitely good feng shui. And the price is right. Turns out their practice is somehow funded by research into the benefits of alternate practices working with the chemo regimen. Teena has her doubts about the Chinese herbs, and truth be told I do too.

Next we're off to Longview and it's dumping. The highway is a blur of rain and fog and spray from the cars and trucks. This has been going on for days. The rivers are swollen. When we get to Longview, the road to Terri's (and now Teena's) house runs along the Cowlitz river and the river looks menacingly close to flood stage. You'd swear that the water is flush level with the river. Hmmm....

One of my jobs here is to cook, so I start out with a risotto which is a good way to make something out of whatever is on hand. The rice was not perfect, so it came out a bit gloopy. Pretty typical for my risottos. But it tasted good.

We're feeling good. No election news tonight. So we decide to take in a movie. Teena surveys the listings and we agree to check out the Scorsese flick "The Departed". Whoa. We expected violent, but this goes above and beyond. The cast is great. The acting is great. I recommend it. But if you see it, know that it is way, way violent and graphic. Happily it didn't inhabit our dreams. It's just Scorsese doing what he does.


Nice leisurely morning. Still raining. Hard. We don't have to be in Portland until 11:00, and while we're lounging we get a call moving that to 11:30. Plenty of time to sip coffee and linger before another drive through the deluge. The weather news is bleak, and that river sure looks angry, so we pack our bags expecting to spend the night in Portland. Tomorrow is show time and there is no way Teena is going to let some natural disaster delay things any longer.

The first appointment has Teena getting some blood taken, then getting a PICC line inserted to ease future blood work. This is at the Kaiser Interstate clinic where most of the oncology visits will take place. The IP happens in a different facility -- a hospital? -- but today she's getting worked on in the non-oncology-specific end of the facility. I'm just along for the ride. Unfortunately, there is no Wifi in the public spaces here, so I mostly hang around and read. Yawn.

The PICC line takes longer than expected, so we have to rush back to the acupuncture appointment. We quickly grab another sandwich at the bakery. Yup. This place is definitely worth a return trip.

While Teena gets the needles, I wander the neighborhood in search of a WiFi hotspot. In this neighborhood you just know its out there. Sure enough I'm directed to Red and Black cafe, a worker co-op coffee house where I get my Internet fix. Meanwhile I've explored the Hawthorne area. The clouds break, and I find some very cool fall foliage that looks extra vivid after the rains.

Teena is underwhelmed by the acupuncture. How can you tell if it is beneficial when you're undergoing such a severe treatment regimen? The effects are subtle, and if you don't have prior experience with acupuncture's benefits, how can you tell if it is working or not? We'll keep talking about this. I'm a believer. But it is subtle. And, aside from the hipness of the locale and the nice lunch choices, this location is not convenient for her. The massage was a hit. So we'll see.

Another wet ride home to Longview. This time not so wet, but still the rain is coming down. The breaks in the clouds give us the confidence to go home and not bother staying in Portland. Good call.

Election night? We all know how good that was. What a massive relief after so many dark election days! One complaint though -- CNN was so wishy washy. MSNBC put them to shame, calling the 30+ seats changing in the house much earlier and much more accurately. How sad to see how badly CNN has fallen. Thank goodness for MSNBC and Olberman -- and the Daily Show. How deliciously freakish that Stewart has some of the best coverage -- and has Dan Rather on his show! I liked Colbert's catastophometer with its Jesus <--> Bin Laden scale.

Whatever else comes from all of this, it has been great to spend some time together. No other plans, no kids, no distractions other than the business at hand. It is a gift. Even if we'd do anything to give it back and undo it.


Early wake up today for Teena's 9:00 am appointment for her first IV chemo at Interstate. No trepidation getting ready, at least none that I could sense. Time to get the show on the road.

The road is clear. It is really beautiful here now. The mists, the dramatic clouds, and the bright yellow foliage are lovely. For some reason there is no traffic either. Smooth sailing.

Into the clinic we go. It all seems so routine. Until we are visited by the counselor and the pharmacist. Some of the info is due diligence warnings about anything and everything that might happen. But some of it is a rude awakening. I know a lot more now about the specifics of her treatment regimen. The IV Taxol is very routine. The side effects are manageable and well known. The IP Cisplatin is the nasty beast. Many different people had assured Teena that nausea is a thing of the past. "If you're nauseous, we're doing something wrong." Not so for the IP Cisplatin treatment. I'm learning that Cisplatin has been around for a long time, predating Taxol. So it is well known too, and the hazards are Kidney damage, and nausea which can heighten the kidney risks via dehydration.

We get a ton of info about the strategies for confronting the side effects. Hydration is numero uno. Gotta keep the fluids coming and going. Going is key. Constipation can be a problem. Lots of meds. Lots of advice. That is my/our job in the hours and days after each treatment. I'm trying to absorb as much as possible. There's alot of written information too. Teena is ready for it with files and binders to absorb it all -- even as she is getting drowsy from the Benedryl their pumping into her to ward off any Taxol side effects.

The staff at the Interstate clinic are fabulous. I can't praise them enough. The counselor nurse was sharp, helpful, clear... a total pro. Sure, there was a lot of sobering info to absorb, and Teena was maybe not in the best shape to absorb it all, with the meds flowing. But nurse did a great job of laying out everything Teena and the rest of us need to know, both verbally and in handouts. Best of all she has her set up with all the phone numbers and contact strategies we'll need when the time comes.

Gayla, the pharmacist, was a total trip. She is the queen of her domain in the chemo injection facility. She could not be more vibrant and energizing and more full of infectious zeal. Very cool woman who really makes Teena feel cared for. Just a wonderful ally to have looking out for her.

Right now Teena is getting the Taxol and napping while I tap away. I realize that I need to be recording this. It's not just info I need to know for this visit. This is what we all need to know going forward, for when we are here with her and for those anxious times to come where we will be so far away and feeling helpless. We're not really. We need to know all this so we can keep tabs on her progress and know what to be alert for to do and what do.

I'll stop now to get back to her. My job is now pretty clear. Help keep her hydrated. Lots of soups. Nothing fatty or spicy or acidic. So the chicken soup I made last night is right on target. The chemo will change her taste buds and make everything unappetizing -- even water. No matter -- the fluids must keep going in -- and out. Some symptoms can be expected and dealt with easily. Others, like even the slightest fever, or constipation beyond certain limits, need to raise the alarms.

We're equipped with a lot of knowledge now. Finally the treatments have begun. It's no picnic from here out. All the good wishes and all Teena's optimism and healthy living are now put to the test. Under the unwanted circumstances, we're in a good space.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday night and all is well. The Taxol IV has been a breeze. We shop for printers at Office Depot, have dinner at home, and relax. Nothing notable to report, just uneventful good news.


Today we drive to the Kaiser Sunnyside Medial Center in Clackamas, south of Portland. This is the hospital where the hysterectomy surgery took place and where the IP port was inserted. Some familiar faces for Teena, but nothing as warm and fuzzy as the Interstate clinic. By the time Teena gets a room and starts treatment it is clear she is once again in good hands.

The Sunnyside hospital facility is no where near as warm and fuzzy as the Interstate clinic. It is a hospital, so it is just not possible for the experience to be anything like the outpatient clinic. You are on a hospital ward with all kinds of other patients with all kinds of maladies. Hospitals suck, OK? At insterstate you're with other chemo patients and there is some sort of solidarity there.

The other problem about Sunnyside is the hospital food. Teena will need a lunch courier on her IP days. There is a big mall across the highway that really should have some food options, but forget it. The whole mall is being rebuilt, the parking is a mess, and frankly I didn't see much food there. Nice Barnes & Noble, if you need someplace to hang. Across the street, closer to the hospital, there is a Baja Fresh that I ate at and where I got Teena a quesadilla. That's decent. There is also a Thai BBQ joint that looks promising. I found a quiet Starbucks in more or less the same place that had what I needed -- a hot spot.

For a hospital, Sunnyside was very nice. Teena won the lottery and got a private room -- because it was the only bed available. And her nursing staff was great. Nurse Anna was the point person and she did a great job of focusing in on Teena and making us feel well cared for. Sounds like we will see more of Anna too, which will really help cut through the institutional suckiness of the hospital.

I can't repeat it enough. Everything went perfectly. OK, maybe Teena could tell you about the catheter if she wants to get clinical, but that worked out and then it was just sitting in the bed while the meds flowed in. Occasional beeping and checking, and a machine to take Teena's vitals every few minutes. Six hours that passed by without problems. Then again, this was expected. The unknown parts were to come in the hours and days ahead.

Gayla kept impressing on Teena that nausea was to be expected, and there were things we needed to be ready to do to prevent "launching". Teena has some pills that need to be in her purse at all times that she can take at any time, that she need not worry about any interactions with other meds. There are backups for post launch conditions too. Gayla has it all covered for Teena, including the phone numbers. With the nausea issue in mind, I made sure there was some kind of bucket or barf bag in the car. Gotta think like that. Nothing happened, but the bucket is now permanently in Teena's trunk.

So we got home to Kelso and settled in. The rain continued, with the temperature dropping, but it wasn't so bad. In a short visit I'm already adjusting my idea of what good weather is. If the clouds are light in color, if the rain tapers off to a mist or intermittent showers, it's a good day. Pretty stark contrast the Bay Area. A total world of difference to our Cabo sister. This is just the start of the dark wetness too. Let's hope Teena is able to make an escape to the sun a few times during this 6-cycle treatment. The cold, wet, darkness could become a real drag. She's used to it. She's lived through it. But she is a Cabo girl now. She needs the sun and blue sky to keep that light in her eyes.

There I go, carrying on again.

But there really is not much to report. Lots of phone calls from Teena's rich network of friends all over. Keep 'em coming. Lots of ways of reaching her too. We need to get Teena to publish a directory of the many phone numbers and where and when they are useful.

Dinner was late and light. More homemade chicken soup, which figures to become a staple. Her belly full of fluids and the late quesadilla put the focus was on liquid intake -- and apprehensively waiting to see how the chemo would sit. Which it did OK. We tried taking a walk. Teena is not one to take all this sitting or laying down. But in reality she was in no shape for walking, so we turned back pretty quickly. Gotta love the attitude that got her out there. It would be too easy to passively wait for the chemo to work. But not Teena.

The main after effects came at night. Some of the anti-nausea meds they dripped into her were steroids that kept here up. Gayla was very colorful, as always, describing how she'd wake up at 2:00am ready to "mow the lawn". Sure enough, Teena's sleep was totally interrupted. Can't mow the lawn in the rain, but she was up working on the computer all night. Filing info and starting her diary that hopefully will start her blog. Oh well. Sleep sure would be nice. But wakefulness is better than hurling, for sure.


Friday is a time for rest. Nothing on the calendar, so I sleep in. Teena? No sleep at night, but by the time I wake up she is dead tired and not feeling that great. I muff my first nursing assignment. Teena crawls into bed feeling like the nausea could be coming. I did not get her pill to her before she's under the sheet and nearly napping. Damn. Gotta tighten that up. She needs to have those pills with her at all time and pop them at times like this.

Oh well, she got lucky. The nap works. The stomach settled. We had worked out a shopping list, so I went to town and stocked up. When I got home Teena was sleeping. Yay.

Missy arrived from Portland and injected a welcome dose of laughter and light. Originally I was going to fly home today, but I'm so glad I chose to overlap with Missy. This a key time to make sure Teena had no distractions from resting and recovering. And I got to meet Missy and make contact with another branch of Teena's family tree. For those of you feeling any guilt about not being there this time -- forget it. We had her covered and trust me, we are both grateful for the chance to be there.

She also arrived with bags of pure goodness from Whole Foods in Portland. Take a note. The grocery scene in Kelso / Longview is Safeway all the way. We should locate that Whole Foods in Portalnd or some other groovy grocery and make it part of the commute circuit on the many trips to Portland.

Dinner was local wild Salmon from the river, courtesy of Terri's AA sponsor. Throw in some asparagus, pasta and pesto, and we finally had a break from the endless soups. Yum.

Teena, of course, won't sit still. She's feeling good again so she and Missy are off to a meeting. It's a short drop in, but Jay calls and we marvel at how well it's going.

I spend the rest of the night trying to get Teena's iPod and iTunes set up -- and fail. I cannot get the music from my laptop to hers. Between the Leapfrog VPN and Terri's VPN there is no way to break down the walls. Dang. But I do work with Teena to launch the blog. We use her diary from the night before to get things going. It could work. We will see.


Another quiet morning at 235 Sparks Drive. Teena slept better, if not soundly. No nausea! As Teena keeps saying, the first round is a good indicator of how it will go in the future. So she is psyched. This really looks good. So far. The Interstate crew was clear that the danger zone lasts a few days, so knock on wood. But really -- this feels doable to Teena.

We drive Missy's big honkin truck to the airport. My turn is done.

Sorry to ramble on at such length. I had plenty of time on my hands during my visit, and I felt the need to write it all down. Hopefully some of the notes will be relevant to one or two of you who follow after me.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bernal Rock the House Phone Party

The party is on. Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday get ready to lend a hand to help restore some balance back in DC.

Sign up for one or more of Bernie's Rock the House Phone Parties! Bernie is opening his house — hot tub included — to volunteers willing to make calls into key Congressional races in support of Democratic candidates. You will be calling pre-identified progressive voters to help get out the vote. Come for as many parties as your cell plan can bear!

From the host:
Please bring cell phone and chargers, swim suits and towels. Any snacks and/or beverages would be appreciated. Sorry, the location is not handicap accessible. We have three cats.

Click on any of the links below to sign up:
Saturday, Nov 4, 10:00am-1pm
Saturday, Nov 4, 2pm-5pm
Saturday, Nov 4, 5pm-8pm
Sunday, Nov 5, 10:00 m-1pm
Sunday, Nov 5, 2pm-5pm
Sunday, Nov 5, 5pm-8pm
Tuesday, Nov 7, 7:30am-10:30am
Tuesday, Nov 7, 4pm-6pm
Tuesday, Nov 7, 6pm-8pm

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Call for change

Give some time and some cell minutes to help put some checks and balances back in our government My friend here in Bernal is hosting at least one more call party for Get a list, a script, some background info on the race, and start dialing. It comes down to person to person (and lots of answering machines) connections that can make a difference.

The way to connect is to visit MoveOn and look for a place to search for a call party by entering your zip code. Once he has his party registered, voila! See you there. And if his party doesn't show up, others will. Wherever you are.

With the gorgeous weather we've been having around here, it would be a great way to donate to the cause.

Limits to blogging Flickr slideshows

OK, so digg dug a dud. Maybe that's a bit harsh.

The code for blogging a Flickr slideshow above is buggy. Not what it was advertised. Looks to me like the set_id parameter is not working. I just get my most recent shots.

Which is OK. It's still fun to have that there. But it sure would be nice to correctly specify a slideshow. If any readers come here with more info, code fix suggestions, leave a comment.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fun with Flickr

Thanks to Digg, I found a cool recipe for embedding Flickr slideshows in a blog.

Here's my summer vacation set, which may actually be of interest to the friends and family that make up a the majority of the audience here:

Friday, October 20, 2006

Baghdad Burning — again

This is not the first time Riverbend, my favorite Iraqi blogger, has taken a hiatus. But this was a really long break. And with the news coming out of Baghdad being what it is, it's hard not to worry when a voice like hers falls silent. So it was a great relief, of sorts, to read her latest post

This has been the longest time I have been away from blogging. There were several reasons for my disappearance the major one being the fact that every time I felt the urge to write about Iraq, about the situation, I'd be filled with a certain hopelessness that can't be put into words and that I suspect other Iraqis feel also.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Checks and Balances on the horizon

Krugman nails it:

But while the Democrats won't gain the ability to pass laws, if they win they will gain the ability to carry out investigations, and the legal right to compel testimony.

The current Congress has shown no inclination to investigate the Bush administration. Last year The Boston Globe offered an illuminating comparison: when Bill Clinton was president, the House took 140 hours of sworn testimony into whether Mr. Clinton had used the White House Christmas list to identify possible Democratic donors. But in 2004 and 2005, a House committee took only 12 hours of testimony on the abuses at Abu Ghraib.
Impeach Bush? Nah, just put him on a spit and roast him slowly. Stop the hemorrhaging and start shining a light on what has really been happening.

Have you read Nancy Pelosi's plans for her first 100 hours?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My latest forray into Google Maps

I used to quickly cook up this map: KC's map of lunks spots in the East Bay

Not bad at all for a tool-generated map. The tool definitely has its limits, but it also makes it very, very easy to pull off a map like this. The collaboration feature is pretty cool too. (Charles, let's do that noodle joint idea!)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Life goes on

but will this blog?

I'm having many mixed feelings about this blog and its future. Taking some time off has been a useful way to get some perspective on it. But I don't yet know if I want to resume, nor what changes I will make.

While I mull the options over, I thought I'd post a link to a new set of Camp Mather pictures I just uploaded. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Joe Jones, RIP

My dad is gone. May he rest in peace.

Though he and I have been estranged for some time now, there was no hard feelings between us. I will always cherish my childhood memories of dad. I'm thankful for his presence in my life, thankful for the many things he taught me. He was an intelligent man and an honest and forthright individualist. He always knew where he stood and spoke his mind with conviction and without trepidation. There are so many traits that I hope, on my good days, that I've picked up from him.

This is not the place I want to pour forth my feeling and thoughts about the man. Yet, what else is there to write about? For now, I will sit with this and privately dwell on his life, his passing, and what it means for me and my family.

Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Yipee!!! Coffee is good for me!

The Times say so! Fights diabetes and heart disease? Pour me another cup!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Run Ned Run

Run Ned Run
Originally uploaded by BernalKC.
Pretty quiet around here, eh?

I've been vacationing in New England and San Diego, and not spending much time thinking about blogging. Thinking about many things, like what to do with this blog, why I blog, how this blog has evolved in my mind. But obviously, not spending any time writing new stuff for this blog.

I am happy to report that I spent the better part of a week at ground zero of the netroots story of the year: Ned Lamont's drive to oust Senator Lieberman. Best of all, we stayed at with my sister-n-law whose husband's politics are very close to my own. Not that politics was the centerpiece of our trip, but it was nice to be there.

Monday, July 10, 2006

PostSecret is so interesting...

Disturbing, but interesting in a rubbernecking kind of way...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bernal KC's Bernal Portfolio

My latest Flickr gallery collects some shots I've taken from the neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bernaltage, KC's meritage blend

OK, so it really is cool to be around all this wine. And one of the more interesting things about working this show is taking home a whole boat load of open wine bottles from the day of the show. But what do you do with multiple cases of open wine bottles? If you do nothing, they all go bad in a matter of days. You can gas them, and if you do it well, it will make them last a week or two.

Not me. I play wine maker. I invite my wine friends over and we mix our own wines. They last for months—maybe longer but I wouldn't know. And sometimes they come out really tasty. When they don't, who cares?

Of course, by the time I pull the cork on one of my blends I typically have no idea what is in the bottle. It's kind of enjoyable that way, but also a bit disconcerting. Especially when it tastes really good. If you drink wine for the pure taste experience, it's great. If you have some need to be an expert, or bask in the prestige of the pursuit of fine wine, it's really disappointing. Which is why I love it.

This year I have one blend that I made in an opened screw top bottle that I shared immediately at my blending party. We had the unique chance of tasting the two ingredients separately, then tasting the mix.

And it was good. Very good.

So I christened it Bernaltage!

I'm seriously tempted to chase these labels down and try this again. The blend was way, way better than either of the two bottles were on their own. And you tell me, when will you ever taste a blend of an inexpensive South Australian and rare Paso Robles wines? Only if you make your own Bernaltage!

Here's the mix:
2-parts Wakefield, 2004, "Promised Land" Cabernet Merlot
1-part Rotta, 2003, Paso Robles Cabernet Franc

Net Neutrality: This is serious

Ars Technica linked me up to a very cool, very concise, very simple, clear treatise on the crux of the net neutrality issue, Tim Berners-Lee on Net Neutrality: "This is serious.":

Don't let the telcos break the Internet.
Read the Ars article, but be sure to read Berners-Lee's original post, Net Neutrality: This is serious:
I hope that Congress can protect net neutrality, so I can continue to innovate in the Internet space. I want to see the explosion of innovations happening out there on the Web, so diverse and so exciting, continue unabated.
There is a lot of dense information out there about what this issue is, what it means, and why it is or is not necessary to act now. But this short post by one of the primary inventors of the Internet, by one who has continued to surf on the vanguard of the web and all it's possibilities, is the most potent arguments for protecting network neutrality.

Wine Camp, my favorite weekend of the year

OK, maybe a weekend skiing on fresh powder is more fun. And there's not doubt that I wok harder on this weekend than any other—hands-down. But I really love working the wine competition.

Of course, it's cool being around all the wine, checking out the judges, and tasting all that wine. But it's not just about the wine. The longer I do it the more I dig jumping into the beehive and getting the work done, sharing the whole experience with a crew that I only see around this show. I definitely look forward to it in a big way.

As I said last year, Thanks Chandler!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"'I'm going to fight to the death for Fluff,'"

This is a battle worth fighting! I mean, come on, we're talking about my upbringing here. If you are what you eat, I'm probably about %50 Fluffernutter—and proud of it!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Daily Kos: The Libertarian Dem

I've always described myself as a small-l libertarian, and I've spoken up regularly on the core importance of liberty—here, here, and here

So I'm thrilled to see DKos articulating this idea so well: The Libertarian Dem:

So in practical terms, what does a Libertarian Dem look like? A Libertarian Dem rejects government efforts to intrude in our bedrooms and churches. A Libertarian Dem rejects government 'Big Brother' efforts, such as the NSA spying of tens of millions of Americans. A Libertarian Dem rejects efforts to strip away rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights -- from the First Amendment to the 10th. And yes, that includes the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms.

So far, this isn't much different than what a traditional libertarian believes. Here is where it begins to differ (and it shouldn't).

A Libertarian Dem believes that true liberty requires freedom of movement -- we need roads and public transportation to give people freedom to travel wherever they might want. A Libertarian Dem believes that we should have the freedom to enjoy the outdoor without getting poisoned; that corporate polluters infringe on our rights and should be checked. A Libertarian Dem believes that people should have the freedom to make a living without being unduly exploited by employers. A Libertarian Dem understands that no one enjoys true liberty if they constantly fear for their lives, so strong crime and poverty prevention programs can create a safe environment for the pursuit of happiness. A Libertarian Dem gets that no one is truly free if they fear for their health, so social net programs are important to allow individuals to continue to live happily into their old age. Same with health care. And so on.

The core Democratic values of fairness, opportunity, and investing in our nation and people very much speak to the concept of personal liberties -- an open society where success is predicated on the merit of our ideas and efforts, unduly burdened by the government, corporate America, or other individuals. And rather than always get in the way, government can facilitate this
And I'm equally pleased that this post has caused a big splash, and that he's planning a book on the same subject. Maybe its time to change my moniker from small-l libertarian to Libertarian Democrat. I like that.

Josh Marshall on the fall of conservatism

Hopeful words from TPM's Josh Marshall on the decline and fall of conservatism:

But as it was with Communism, so with conservatism. When all the people who call themselves conservatives get together and run the government, they're on the line for it. Conservative president. Conservative House. Conservative Senate.

What we appear to be in for now is the emergence of this phantom conservatism existing out in the ether, wholly cut loose from any connection to the actual people who are universally identified as the conservatives and who claim the label for themselves.
It's not just Bush either. Decades of failed conservative regimes, at home and abroad.

Time for something else. Like DKoz's libertarian democrat?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Zero tolerance for trans-fats in our house!

Well, it might take some doing to get it down to zero, but this New Scientist report will help motivate us: Why fast foods are bad, even in moderation. The study finds that even if fast foods are only a small component of your diet, and even if you control your calorie intake, the trans-fats will lead to pot bellies and greater risk of diabetes. They didn't say if it would make you more prone to buying SUVs, but I suspect they just overlooked that data.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Another gutless Republican worm

This one is a couple days old, but it's too juicy to let slip away. From Crooks and Liars we get this quote from CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In the end, Senator Specter has turned out to be yet another gutless Republican worm cowering in the face of pressure from the administration and fellow Republicans. There are not going to be any hearings. Americans won't find out if their privacy is being illegally invaded.
How many times before the public wises up? So-called moderate Republicans are allowed to make moderate, independent-sounding noises, especially for the camera. But when it counts, they all buckle under and tote the party line.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cheney administration disciples quoted

Jon Stewart jokingly cited this Goering quote as a Bush administration inspiration:

"'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.'"
Hat tip to Snopes for the exact quote.

Another famous fascist quote that fits Bush to a T comes from Stalin:
"Those who cast the vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything."
When will this fascist nightmare end?

News that makes me bow my head in grief

There are many chilling reports of atrocities committed by US forces coming from Iraq in the wake of Haditha. Much of it may be dubiously sourced, but enough of it is reliable and corroborated to paint a dark and disturbing picture. Check out these reports, for instance:

Guardian Unlimited | US confronts brutal culture among its finest sons

American veterans of the war in Iraq have described a culture of casual violence, revenge and prejudice against Iraqi civilians that has made the killing of innocent bystanders a common occurrence.
Capitol Hill Blue's The Rant: Field commanders tell Pentagon Iraq war 'is lost'
Military commanders in the field in Iraq admit in private reports to the Pentagon the war 'is lost' and that the U.S. military is unable to stem the mounting violence killing 1,000 Iraqi civilians a month.

Even worse, they report the massacre of Iraqi civilians at Haditha is 'just the tip of the iceberg' with overstressed, out-of-control Americans soldiers pushed beyond the breaking point both physically and mentally.
Rush thinks we on the left are 'ecstatic' over Haditha. What an ass. Nothing could make me sadder. It's not just the breakdown of the chain of command, the indiscriminate killing, that makes me greieve, it's the enduring legacy this will have on the military and on this generation. This is a war that should never have been fought. Not Iraq, not while Afghanistan was unfinished, not while Bin Laden roamed free, not while Al Qaeda was still on the run. Now look what a horrible mess, what an unfolding tragedy we must live with.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Travel-time Maps

What a totally cool idea. What totally cool maps. I can't wait for this idea to spread around the world, or at least to the Bay Area!

Travel-time Maps and their Uses
Using colours and contour lines they show how long it takes to travel between one particular place and every other place in the area, using public transport.
Hat tip to Boing Boing and WorldChanging

Pharyngula: The problem is faith

Always interesting, always provocative, I love reading Pharyngula. But I'm not sure I can totally dissavow the Kierkegaard inside me. Check out Pharyngula: The god worm

Faith is a hole in your brain. Faith stops critical thinking. Faith is a failure point inculcated into people's minds, an unguarded weak point that allows all kinds of nasty, maggoty, wretched ideas to crawl into their heads and take up occupancy. Supporting faith is like supporting people who refuse to be vaccinated: they're harmless in and of themselves, they may be perfectly healthy right now, but they represent fertile ground for disease, and they represent potential severe damage to the social compact. When you're in a culture that worships Abraham's insanity, you're fostering the nonsense that enables the Son of Sam.

Musselman's money quote

From Ray Ratto's column today, No shame in failing with the Warriors

'When you go in to try and change a culture, it's not easy. Here, the culture is already set up. They have a history of winning. But (in Golden State) things had to change. They couldn't remain the same, and sometimes with change, there's resistance. I mean, if your son is a straight-D student for 10 years, you're not going to change him to a B or C student just with a new teacher.'

Friday, June 02, 2006

Pharyngula: Neutering our kids' exposure to science

Heh heh heh... sounds about right, eh Charles?

Neutering our kids' exposure to science:

It was a process that separated American youth into the majority who got bored with it all and gave up on science, a very rare few who maimed themselves, and a less rare but still minority group who built on the experience to become scientists and engineers one day.

Art of Science returns

The The second post ever on this blog was a link to the first Art of Science gallery. Now it's time for round two.

2006 Art of Science gallery is up. But frankly I'm not as blown away. There are some very nice images, but a lot of them don't grab me that much. And I'm not at all sure I like the addition of videos. I guess I'm just a sucker for a good still shot.

But really. Take this picture of lichen. Then take a look at the shot I got last weekend at pinnacles. I ask you now. Which one do you like better? I'm not bragging or anything (well, not too much), I just think thye could have done better. And that's one of the ones I liked. Oh well. I shouldn't complain too much. There are some really cool images. Again.

A year of breed ‘em and weep?

Just one year? Really? Seems like a blogging lifetime ago when I first found Jenn. We were worried for you back in December when the lights went out for a time. Always glad to catch up with your wonderfully written diary. Congratulations!

Vinography in Liberty Cafe!

Hey, that Vinography blogger is at my favorite restaurant: Liberty Cafe! He does have good taste...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Blog? What blog?

Summer is upon us, or is it still spring? Anyways, my focus has been elsewhere these days.

Take this camp trip to Pinnacles National Monument for instance. I put some of the best family shots up on Flickr, and I publisheda bunch more to my own pinnacles gallery.

Nice weekend. Nice camera. Nice time to get off-line and enjoy the outdoors and enoy the family life.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Angel looks down on you

Angel looks down on you
Originally uploaded by BernalKC.
From her perch atop Bernal Hill.

Clearly I'm not the only one that loves getting up on the hill. Angel is actually starting to show her age on these walks. She doesn't have quite the energy anymore, and sometimes lags behind. But look at her. She loves it up there!

Downtown panorama from the hill

Downtown panorama from the hill
Originally uploaded by BernalKC.
As long as we're talking about Bernal wine blogging, why not feature some more local content. Here's a shot from a day ago on one of those glorious mornings when I'm so glad I have a dog to walk. I lived here for a decade before getting Angel and hardly ever got up on the hill. Now, it's one of the things I love so much about this place.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

k / o tells us about Ready Return

Here's a really good idea being hawked by Kid Oakland. Such a good idea that it's probably doomed! k / o: Ready Return:

For the majority of wage earners with basic taxes, people who receive standard paychecks from one employer, the State of California already has all the information needed for them to file an accurate return. The principle behind Ready Return is straightforward: instead of making these taxpayers come up with their tax information do the math and paperwork on their own...why not send them the accurate information the government already has? Why not let them file their return right then and there on their home computer? It's a simple and elegant solution in a zone, taxation, where simple and elegant solutions are hard to come by. More than that, it's a government program that works for working people.
Check out the full post. He give more links and an analysis of why it faces an uphill battle.

I remember reading a similarly heretical idea in the NYT Business section way back in the early Clinton years. They suggested hiring Intuit to revamp the whole tax filing process. In their incarnation of the idea, they'd merely redo the forms in a way to make the important, relevant questions clearer and more prominent while relegating the obtuse stuff, like the RR retirement BS to some appropriately obscure compartment. This Ready Return idea updates the notion to take advantage of our data mining, total-info-aware Big Brother's ability to know what they know about us, and make it work for us. Cool idea.

And while we're at it, why not put the same subversive notion to work to reform Customs and Immigration? Instead of erecting every more Kafkaesque paperwork barriers in the way of immigrants, why not let the private sector turn the agency into a customer-centered service? Why not let DHL run immigration services? Bring state of the art IT to bear to increase the accuracy, timeliness, and utility of the INS databases, while streamlining the process to help immigrants?

Winemaking in Bernal?

This is unepxected. Not only is the author of this blog, Vinography, a Bernal denizen, he's writing about a fellow Bernal resident who makes wine here. check it out

'You've got to be kidding me,' I said. 'No. Seriously,' he replied, and proceeded to tell me all the different places he had put vines into the ground, including a patch not 200 yards from my door in Bernal Heights. 'I eventually had to move those plants to the Inner Sunset,' he admitted, after the politics of the Bernal Heights community garden got finicky, 'But I kept making wine from them along with the guy whose yard they ended up in.'
I bet the finicky garden politics had to do with pest control. But I have no doubt that grapes would do well here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Who said this?

Take a guess—who said the following? Then chase the link: "Liberals must never abandon their core principles of justice and equality. But union leaders who still see American businesses as the enemy must update that vision."

Secrecy News on Pentagon's Black Budget

Pentagon's Black Budget Soars to Cold War Heights:

The Department of Defense budget request for 2007 includes about $30.1 billion in classified or 'black' spending, according to a new analysis by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

'In real (inflation-adjusted) terms the $30.1 billion FY 2007 request includes more classified acquisition funding than any other defense budget since FY 1988, near the end of the Cold War, when DoD received $19.7 billion ($29.4 billion in FY 2007 dollars) for these programs,' wrote author Steven Kosiak.

Another page from the Ingsoc canon, War is Peace

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

General Hayden's unexpected friends

There is a surprising level of support for the nomination of General Hayden for the Director of the CIA among the military and intel experts I read on the web. These are relatively liberal people who you would expect to balk at the militarization of the CIA. Maybe it is statements like these that make people believe he will be plain-spoken, professional, and independent:
Secrecy News: The Hayden Confirmation Hearing:

"'I do think we overclassify, and I think it's because we got bad habits,' said Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the nominee to be the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency."
Or take this endorsement from Willian Arkin of the Post: Go, Mike Hayden!:
Let's hope that the Bush administration comes to rue the day it nominated Hayden to be CIA director.

How many times have we heard a serving Bush administration official actually admit a mistake, criticize a government effort, point to a false direction?

When Gen. Michael V. Hayden called the tenure of Porter Goss at the CIA "amateur hour on the top floor," or when he criticized a Rumsfeld inspired ad hoc intelligence office set up in the aftermath of 9/11 to "find" Saddam Hussein links to al Qaeda and build the WMD case for Iraq, they were small but rare and delicious moments.
All this praise in spite of his direct role in the NSA wiretaping / imbroglioglio makes me think this guy must be pretty sharp. I'm not the least bit mollified about the domestic spying issue. I guess it's one thing to disagree on policy matters and another thing to give the man props for his professionalism, integrity, and competence.

Helena Cobban: The elephant in the Iraqi chamber

Another inisghtful post from Helena Cobban: The elephant in the Iraqi chamber:

It is blindingly clear to me that the fact that Khalilzad felt he had to go into the chamber (and not just as a passive 'guest' or 'observer') signals a deep failure of Washington's political project inside Iraq. If you look at those two mechanisms of indirect control of a parliament that I identified above[controlling access to the chamber and bribery], it is clear that the US forces completely control physical access to the Iraqi parliament, which is located inside the 'Green Zone'. But what the US administrators in Iraq evidently lack is any confidence that the parliamentarians gathered inside the chamber would, if left alone out of Khalilzad's sight, act at his bidding.

That, despite the huge amounts of money the US has always had available to hand out as bribes to Iraqi political figures!

In Lebanon, throughout the long years of Syria's overlordship there, financial incentives were a strong feature of parliament's every-six-years 'election' of a president. It was quite a common observation that the Lebanese MPs would be engaging in an elaborate game of financial 'chicken', since the price paid for each individual MP's vote would increase steeply as the Syrians (or in 1982, Israelis) came close to meeting the number needed for the election to succeed-- but once that number had been reliably reached, the price would suddenly plummet to zero.

Gosh, playing that game that must have been one of the hardest and most stressful jobs those MPs ever had to do during their very lengthy terms in power...

But in Iraq, despite the huge amount of money the US administrators have available, and the evident current penury of most Iraqis, Khalilzad can't even be certain he can reliably line up a parliamentary vote in the direction he wants without being physically present inside the chamber?? What is happening here???

Powe opts for NBA

So it's official. Good luck, Leon. Too bad the Warriors already have somebody so similar to him in Ike Diogu, otherwise maybe we'd take him at #9? OK, maybe not that high. But the up side of going later in the 1st round is he'll end up with a decent team.

The Aging Of Alfred E. Newman

heh heh heh...

Friday, May 19, 2006

In praise of liberty

Matthew Yglesias, subbing for Josh Marshall, has a forceful defense of liberty in this post:

The U.S.S.R., after all, lost the Cold War, not because we beat them in a race to the bottom to improve national security by gutting the principles of our system, but because the principles underlying our system were actually better than the alternative. If you don't have some faith the American way of life is capable of coping with actual challenges, then what's the point in defending it?
Well said.

I been Cork'd

Damn! I had this idea too, and tried talking it up with some of my wine friends a few months back: Cork'd - "The simple way to review and share wine"

Oh well, probably woulda been too late to the party anyway...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Andrew's New Zealand shots

Originally uploaded by arjones.
And while I'm on a Flickr kick, lemme give a shout out to Andrew and his copious photo catalog from his New Zealand trip. A lot of excellent shots Andrew!

Best Dim Sum

Best Dim Sum
Originally uploaded by BernalKC.
What a nice Mother's Day we had. Great Dim Sum followed by a walk on Ocean Beach on one of those rare still, warm, sunny days along the shore. Picture perfect!

Hey family—check out my updated Jones family gallery over on my Flickr page. (The Flickr "gamma"upgrade is really cool!)

Miller's 9/11 Story That Got Away?

This AlterNet story was totally unexpected: The 9/11 Story That Got Away

In 2001, an anonymous White House source leaked top-secret NSA intelligence to reporter Judith Miller that Al Qaida was planning a major attack on the United States. But the story never made it into the paper.
I'm perfectly willing to believe that there was ample evidence within the counter terrorism community that Al Queda was planning a domestic attack during the summer of '01. It makes perfect sense that some spook tried to feed the story to Miller, to user her. The picture it paints is pretty damning for the Bush administration, so I guess I understand why AlterNet would run the story. But it does feel like someone is manipulating the media here. Someone who might want the public to give the NSA and the counter terrorism programs more latitude? Why is this story coming out now?

Regardless, it is an interesting read. Miller comes off as connected but used. Clearly there were signs that Al Queda was preparing an attack. Clearly the Bush administration was asleep at the wheel. 9/11 did not have to happen.

What would president Gore have done?

Himalayan forests vanishing

New Scientist News - Himalayan forests are quietly vanishing

The Himalayas may never be the same again. The forests growing on the roof of the world are disappearing, and the rate of deforestation is so rapid that a quarter of animal and plant species native to this biodiversity hotspot, including tigers
All for frikkin firewood? All while the local governments turn a blind eye and make their hydro electric plans that will make it worse? Ouch.

Salam Pax returns

Good to hear from him again. Even if the news is so awful:
Islamists:2 Freedom & Democracy: Nil

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mark Cuban's expensive blog

Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban is a blogger. I've been aware of it for a while, but the other day when he was fined $100K for one of his posts I had to check it out. Now his blog is in my lineup.

Today's offering is pretty tasty. In the post, Where Newspapers kick the Internets behind he makes a points I totally agree about the lameness of on-line sports media, and the great value of newspaper sports writing:
Which is all the more reason that rather than focusing on speed and breaking stories, I personally think newspapers and websites need to define their brands to heavy readers like myself through depth and differentiation. Brand yourself as the home of unique stories, not for breaking news. We have been trained that the net has all news 15 milliseconds after its "broken" elsewhere. But if i know that you are the sole home of in depth coverage on things I care about, you got me.
OK, it's a tortured stretch to say that this blog offers depth and differentiation. In fact, this blog is totally scattered and lacking in focus. So Mark won't be hanging on my every post. I can live with that.

But one of my motivations here is to relax the ridiculous time constant of the blog media. The fast twitch memetics of the blog world—which is actually a web disease that predates blogging—take slashdot for instance—makes the blogosphere almost unbearable. Millions of ditto-heads on the left and the right trying to post nearly identical thoughts on the meme-of-the-moment makes for a droning, featureless bore.

Buried in this cacophony are bloggers who differentiate, who speak with a more grounded voice, who have something to say. That's why I obsess on blogs. That's what I try, with only occasional success, to report here. You would not come here to catch the newest ripple in the blog pond. But I might be able to link you up with some bloggers who have something to say, something worth reading. Like Mark.

Flickr gets a make-over

Flickr has been updated and the new site rocks. Simple, almost subtle improvements that make a difference.


Think Progress » Bush Memo Authorizes Telcos To Lie

This gets more and more like 1984 all the time. Now Bush is, in his absolute power, giving telcos the right to lie in order to protect his butt. Makes perfect sense to me, after all, Ignorance is Strength.

War and Piece on the subject of domestic surveillance

I like to quote excerpts and add my pith to the articles I cite. But there is simply no way to improve on this, so I'll quote the whole thing: Another thought on the subject of domestic surveillance...

These policies of vastly expanded warrantless domestic surveillance may have been undertaken in good faith, but they have a way of taking on a life and logic of their own totally divorced from their original purpose, and becoming self-justifying. Consider that, as the government has apparently gone to some length to track every single AT&T and Verizon customer's communications, it has still not managed to find Osama bin Laden, the ostensible reason for the war we are involved in in the first place. Bin Laden probably doesn't even use a phone, so he's seemingly a difficult target for the NSA. We Americans and our telephones and Internet, on the other hand, offer a target rich environment, it's hard not to see, given the devotion of what seems increasingly substantial US government resources to targeting our communications. Kind of like when there were not enough good targets in Afghanistan, the Defense Secretary expressed the thought that Iraq might have some better ones.

I guess this is a long way of saying, they've got a hammer, and they appear to be searching for the perfect nail. And it may be us, because the terrorists don't seem to be very suitable nails at all, or else conceivably we would not be hearing bin Laden and Zarqawi and Zawahiri on TV so recently.

And isn't it how these things always go? The war turns inward. I saw it in the Balkans, and those a little older saw it with McCarthy, Watergate, Nixon.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Political Animal: head-in-the-sand voting

What he said: "The technical details don't even matter here. A company that doesn't believe anyone would ever try to steal an election shouldn't be in the voting machine business. Jeebus.

More fun with my FZ7

Cesar Chavez ES
Originally uploaded by BernalKC.

NSA Sweep "Waste of Time,"?

Here's an excellent post on Defense Tech reviewing the NSA wiretaps. Defense Tech: NSA Sweep "Waste of Time," Analyst Says

It'd be one thing if the NSA's massive sweep of our phone records was actually helping catch terrorists. But what if it's not working at all? A leading practitioner of the kind of analysis the NSA is supposedly performing in this surveillance program says that 'it's a waste of time, a waste of resources. And it lets the real terrorists run free.'
Even if tracking who everyone is calling is legal, he argues that the technique is so imprecise that it will trigger massive rights violations as a fog of false positive signals lead law enforcement and intelligence agencies to target innocent citizens.

Even if the NSA datamining dragnet is thoeretically possible, what are the chances that it can be run cleanly and optimally? There are so many dangerous dimensions to this story, it boggles the mind.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Big Brother in the flesh

Ars has a good short synopsis of today's revelations about the NSA domestic wiretap story: TIA (aka Topsail) unveiled: the real scope of the NSA's domestic spying program

Think about that for a moment: the program is secret, and there is no judicial or congressional oversight (as of today, there's not even any executive branch oversight from the Justice Department), so the national security establishment has arrogated to itself carte blanche to snoop your phone activity and possibly to detain you indefinitely without a warrant based on what they find.
Holy F---ing S--t Batman.

Cool time-lapse view of Mt. St. Helens

APOD has a page of info on the ongoing eruption at Mt. St. Helens where I found this cool time-lapse movie of the growing lava dome crowned by a huge rock slab. Check it out...

Tumbs up for Atrios' platform

I love this proposal from Atrios:
We're the Decider

...I think the "liberal netroots" does have a fairly clear consensus on a number of issues. I'm not going to claim every liberal blogger or blog reader agress with everything on this list - that'd be ridiculous - but nonetheless I'd say there's a pretty obvious general consensus on the following:
  • Undo the bankruptcy bill enacted by this administration
  • Repeal the estate tax repeal
  • Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI
  • Universal health care (obviously the devil is in the details on this one)
  • Increase CAFE standards. Some other environment-related regulation
  • Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice. On the last one there's probably some disagreement around the edges (parental notification, for example), but otherwise.
  • Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code
  • Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination.
  • Reduce corporate giveaways
  • Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan
  • Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions.
  • Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana. Generally move towards "more decriminalization" of drugs, though the details complicated there too.
  • Imprison Jeff Goldstein for crimes against humanity for his neverending stupidity
  • Paper ballots
  • Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies. Obiously details matter.
  • Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes.
I'm sure I could think of a few more things. I left off foreign policy because I find that most people who write about it imagine they're playing the game of Risk. It's nice to have nice bumpersticker doctrines which are ultimately meaningless, but basically "put grownups in charge" is my prescription. Kick the petulant children out.
...adding a few more things which would be obvious if we weren't living in the Grand and Glorious Age of Bush:
  • Torture is bad
  • Imprisoning citizens without charges is bad
  • Playing Calvinball with the Geneva Conventions and treaties generally is bad
  • Imprisoning anyone indefinitely without charges is bad
  • Stating that the president can break any law he wants any time "just because" is bad
...oh, and I meant to include:
  • Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens.
That's a party platform I could get excited about!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

EdmundsTest the Gas Saving Tips

Edmunds has some practical advice for saving gas in the article We Test the Tips. They took a list of ideas for improving gas mileage and put the to the test.

The good news is that you can drastically improve your gas mileage. The caveat is that you have to change your driving habits. If you are willing to change, you'll find many related benefits too: no speeding tickets, greater safety, reduced stress and lower repair bills for tires and brake pads. In the long run this will save you money. And who knows? You might like the new you.
Many years ago, my first job in San Francisco included developing and running a railroad simulation that—among other things—simulated energy consumption. The one thing that stood out from those simulations, the one guiding rule was very simple: don't apply the brakes. All the energy you dissipate via braking is energy you might be able to save.

And how do you avoid using the brakes? Coast. Use the terrain to brake. Which implies that you go slow. All of this is pretty consistent with what Edmunds determines from their tests. Even their bottom line results matched my simulations. The railroads could save about %30 of their energy use by careful use of coasting, and Edmunds comes to the same conclusion.

One factor I wish they had tested more clearly was the idea that jackrabbit starts waste gas. In my simulations they did not. Provided you stop accelerating soon enough to avoid excessive braking, hard accelerations was fine — and the railroad operators we were working for definitely liked minimizing trip time. So do I.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Keepin it Clean?

Here's a quick survey you can take to see if you are a Bay polluter. I was not too surprised to get a pretty mediocre score, but some of the issues did surprise me. Check it out.

OK, I'm officially obsessed

Another beautiful day beckons...

The wrongness singularity | Cosmic Variance

This was a fun read. Not that often that you run accross an intersection between politics and physics quite this amusing:

The wrongness singularity

So in fact, Reynolds has managed to fit five units of wrongness into only four declarative statements! This is the hackular equivalent of crossing the Chandrasekhar Limit, at which point your blog cannot help but collapse in on itself. It is unknown at this point whether the resulting end state will be an intermediate neutron-blog phase, or whether the collapse will proceed all the way to a singularity surrounded by a black hole event horizon. We may have to wait for the neutrino signal to be sure.
Hat tip to Pharyngula for the link.

Loving my new Lumix FZ7

My new obsession is my brand new Panasonic Lumix FZ7 camera. It's my birthday present to myself. I'm loving it. I could bore you with the details of why I bought it, how I shopped for it, etc. But why bother when I can just post a couple shots:

And I'm just scratching the surface of what this camera can do. I did spend a night scanning the manual so I have a good idea of how it works. But there are so many possibilities. Already I'm loving the quick lens, the light weight, and the simple easy to use controls. Best of all, no shutter lag. Can't wait to try some action shots.

Sistani fuels Iraqi homophobe murderers?

What a chilling story. Iraqi police murder a 14 year old boy in cold blood for being gay? Apparently this is not an isolated event. And this part of the story really sends a chill up my spine:

Campaign groups have warned of a surge in homophobic killings by state security services and religious militias following an anti-gay and anti-lesbian fatwa issued by Iraq's most prominent Shia leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
No wonder Salam Pax's blog has gone silent, and he appears to be touring the west.

What have we done to Iraq?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Smells like hookers to me

Goss' goose cooked by hookergate? Sure has that odor to it, doesn't it? But the press sure is acting dumb for now.

Treehugger: Green Museum to Open in San Francisco

I had no idea that the new Academy of Sciences was going to be a green building. That's the news from Treehugger:
Green Museum to Open in San Francisco

But what is the best part of Piano’s design? It takes advantage of the museum setting, highlighting, rather than hiding, sustainable design elements. Therefore, part of the museum experience is discovering and exploring what the market currently has to offer, when it comes to green construction.
Sounds really cool. There's more about it here, with some cool renderings here, here, and