Friday, March 31, 2006

Secrecy News

I've quoted from the Secrecy New email list in the past. Now he's also publishing his article on a blog. Boy, don't I wish that other email list publishers would get with it like he has.

So here is my first link to Steven Aftergood's Secrecy New blog: The Thomas Butler Affair

Dr. Thomas C. Butler is one of the rather few people in the history of humanity of whom it can be truly said that he helped to save millions of lives. A specialist in the plague and other infectious diseases, his research helped lead to the adoption of oral hydration as a standard treatment for diarrhea in the Third World and elsewhere.

But in post-9/11 America, Dr. Butler is also a convicted criminal.

Because he apparently committed certain violations of the laws governing the transport of toxic materials used in his medical research, he was investigated and prosecuted as if he were a potential terrorist. In 2004, he was sentenced to a term of two years in prison, which he recently completed.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Seven meter rise in sea level

Seven meter rise in sea level
Originally uploaded by BernalKC.
Check this site out. Yet another very cool google map application!

RealClimate » How much future sea level rise?

Did I not just ask this question? Real Climate weighs in with an ambivalent answer: How much future sea level rise? More evidence from models and ice sheet observations.

What does all this news mean in practice? Reading the editorials in Science, and quotations from various researchers in newspaper articles, one might be under the impression that we should now expect 'catastrophic sea-level rise' (as Science's Richard Kerr writes). Of course, what is catastrophic to the eye of a geologist may be an event taking thousands of years. In the Otto-Bliesner et al. simulations, it takes 2000-3000 years for Greenland to melt back to its LIG minimum size. And while we don't advocate sticking with the typical politician's time frame of 4 or 5 years, the new results do not require us to revise projections of sea level rise over the next century or so. This is because even with Arctic temperature continuing to rise rapidly, there will still be significant delay before the process of ice sheet melting and thinning is complete. There is uncertainty in this delay time, but this is already taken into account in IPCC uncertainty estimates. It is also important to remember that the data showing accelerating mass loss in Antarctica and rapid glacier flow in Greenland only reflect a very few years of measurements -- the GRACE satellite has only been in operation since 2002, so it provides only a snapshot of Antarctic mass changes. We don't really know whether these observations reflect the long term trend.

On the other hand, none of the new evidence points in the direction of smaller rates of sea level rise in the future, and probably nudge us closer to the upper end of the IPCC predictions. Those who have already been ignoring or naysaying those predictions now have even less of a leg to stand on. Coastal managers, real estate developers, and insurance companies, at the least, would be wise to continue to take such predictions seriously.** As Don Kennedy and Brooks Hanson write in the lead Editorial, 'accelerated glacial melting and larger changes in sea level should be looked at as probable events, not as hypothetical possibilities.'
Many years ago while arguing on-line with a bunch of global warming skeptics, I argued that one way to combat the "we just don't know" argument would be to have actuaries study the global warming risks. More and more I hear people talk about similar approaches to the problem. As climate change looms upon us, maybe it is time to shift the political discussion to an economic one. Stop the empty political rhetoric and crank up the spreadsheets. It's happening. Time to adapt.

Immigration Realism and Social Security | TPMCafe

Here's something I posted to a TPM Cafe blog I got when I registered there:

Immigration Realism and Social Security | TPMCafe: "Immigration Realism and Social Security
By Bernal KC | bio

A very simple idea has been tossing around in my head for a long time now. I'm surprised it hasn't been discussed by others:

We're told, ad nauseam, that the aging baby boomers pose a demographic problem for the financial viability of Social Security. There supposedly won't be enough workers paying taxes to pay for the benefits of retirees in the future.

Isn't immigration reform a very simple way to solve this problem?

If we have the other ingredients needed to grow the economy and employ more workers, then why not invite more able bodied workers to immigrate legally and help this country continue to grow and prosper. No need to raise social security taxes. Just grow the economy and grow the labor force. What could be more American than to welcome a vital, prosperous, and industrious new generation of immigrants to our shores?"

Madison speaks to us

Nice article from the History Network News site by Gary Hart and Joyce Appleby: The Founders Never Imagined a Bush Administration

'The great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department,' Madison wrote in Federalist 51, 'consists in giving to those who administer each department, the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others.'

Warming to his subject, Madison continued, 'Ambition must be made to counteract ambition;' the interest of the office holders must 'be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.'

Recognizing that he was making an appeal to interest over ideals, he concluded that it 'may be a reflection of human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government.' 'But what,' Madison asked, 'is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.'
When will the public awaken to the constitutional crisis we're in?

Glacial earthquakes rock Greenland

New Scientist reports that change is coming rapidly to Greenland: Glacial earthquakes rock Greenland ice sheet

A rapid increase in “glacial earthquakes” – caused by sudden large movements of glaciers – over the past few years indicates that warmer temperatures will destroy the Greenland ice sheet faster than expected, a new study warns.
What I want to know is, if enough landlocked polar ice melts to raise the sea level — even a little bit — does that mean that ice shelves floating above ocean waters will calve immediately? And does that trigger yet more glacial movement and melting? All the news reports talk about the seas rising 20 feet in 100 years. I want to see some near term scenarios and some insights into the progression of these changes.

TPM: Citizenship Matters

I Couldn't agree more with Josh:

Yep, institutionalizing a 'guest worker' type program in the US would give us the worst of all worlds as immigration policy goes. Citizenship matters; and it should be the basis of any good immigration policy.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

15 watt genius

From The Loom, another new science blog found from the awards nominees:
You're a Dim Bulb (And I mean that in the best possible way): "a computer as powerful as the human brain would require 1 gigawatt of power."

BBC - How Iraq hostages were freed

Notice that it was a Brittish led operation, no shots fired, multinational effort, aided by local cooperation,... a success.

Sell my 1040? Are they serious?

Holy F---ing Jesus!!! This can't be real, can it? Think Progress » Bush’s IRS Wants to Make Your Tax Returns Public

The new proposal allows the tax preparers –- from your local accountant to giants such as H&R Block –- to get your signature and then give or sell the full tax return to data brokers, to your boss, to anyone. And there are absolutely no restrictions about what recipients do with the returns. The rule lets recipients post the full return to the Internet if they want.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

PEN: Revitalizing High School Libraries

I read about this PEN initiative in the PEN newsletter: Revitalizing High School Libraries

New York Life Revitalizing High School Libraries

An Initiative of the Public Education Network
funded by the New York Life Foundation

New York Life RHSL allowed PEN and its LEF members in three cities—Minneapolis, San Francisco and Tampa—to work closely with four high schools to create library media centers that are true centers of teaching and learning and foster a school culture that values and promotes high levels of adolescent literacy.
Does anyone know which San Francisco HS library is involved with this? Sounds interesting.


Originally uploaded by CSCUSA.
Of course, the reality of our ski trips is nothing at all like this. This is entirely a fantasy for me.

But I love this fantasy. Gawd I'd love to be there, on that snow.

Dreaming of the Banff ski trip I missed

I'm so tired of the project I'm finishing at work. All I can think of is... this!

Another global warming skeptic bites the dust?

No sooner had I read about this latest alternative theory of global warming, I was able to find an authoritative response. Gotta love the blog world!

The counter theory came from NASA's Earth Observatory site: Greenhouse Theory Smashed by Biggest Stone which lays out a theory by a Russian scientist that a meteor impact perturbed the upper atmosphere, and explains recent warming:

The Tunguska Event, sometimes known as the Tungus Meteorite is thought to have resulted from an asteroid or comet entering the earth’s atmosphere and exploding. The event released as much energy as fifteen one-megaton atomic bombs. Shaidurov suggests that this explosion would have caused "considerable stirring of the high layers of atmosphere and change its structure." Such meteoric disruption was the trigger for the subsequent rise in global temperatures.
With my BS meter instantly twitching, I browsed over the Real Climate blog and quickly found a rebuttal: Meteors, Nuclear Tests and Global Warming
Firstly, one would anticipate that immediate effects of the impact on climate would be strongest near the time of the impact (allowing for some inertia in the system) and decay away subsequently. Secondly, the timescales for any mechanism associated with the impact (in this case disruption of the atmopsheric water vapour) would need to be in line with the change one hopes to explain. And thirdly, one has to show that this explanation is better than the alternatives. Unfortunately, none of of these requirements are met by this hypothesis.
So much for the traditional glacial pace of scientific discovery. Sure these theories and rebuttals have not seen the proper scrutiny yet, and the scientific process will take it's sweet time. But I love the way us spectators can follow the game now.

Warm oceans == strong hurricane

The Earth Observatory site also has credible coverage of the recent research confirming that ocean warming is causing stronger hurricanes: Research Re-Examines Strong Hurricane Studies

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have released a study supporting the findings of several studies last year linking an increase in the strength of hurricanes around the world to a global increase in sea surface temperature. The new study strengthens the link between the increase in hurricane intensity and the increase in tropical sea surface temperature. It found that while factors such as wind shear do affect the intensity of individual storms or storm seasons, they don’t account for the global 35-year increase in the number of the most intense hurricanes. The study appears online in the March 16 edition of Science Express at
The theory and observations confirming anthopogenic warming and its consequences is accelerating. But the human response to it? Not so fast.

But it will be. Eventually. Necessity is a mother.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Treehugger: Organic vs Local at Whole Foods

Treehugger is another one of those new-to-me blogs that I picked up on from browsing blog award nominations. This question strikes a chord with me: Organic vs Local at Whole Foods

Which brings us to the question: [given the variables of] freshness, price, and energy conservation, should a New Yorker just instinctively choose organic, even if the produce comes from Chile? ::Slate Magazine
I say, buy local.

A similar question about who to support has been kicking around my head recently. We've recently started shopping at Trader Joe's, but I have real reservations about their business model. I think they are attempting to apply industrial food production methods to a debased form of "organic" produce as defined by the USDA. My gut tells me they are not that much better than Safeway in terms of the environment and sustainable practices. So my question is, when is it OK to buy from Trader Joe's and when should we take our business to Rainbow Grocery?

So far, in my mind, the answer is that our family really benefits from some of their frozen and prepared foods as well as their meat and poultry — it makes the difference between eating out of the house and ordering out. But the produce, dairy, bakery, and other stuff we should get from Rainbow, or Good Life, or the farmers' market. Let Trader Joe's keep us from Whole Foods. But we can support better practices elsewhere.

Coalition for Darfur: Darfur: Where is Europe's Voice Against Genocide?

Another good pick up by Coalition for Darfur: Darfur: Where is Europe's Voice Against Genocide?

An op-ed by Kenneth Jacobson in the International Herald Tribune
When we talk about the genocide in Darfur, the one element that needs far more attention is the disgraceful role of Western Europe. It has often been said with regard to Middle East issues, and it applies to Darfur as well, that where Europe goes often determines where many other nations will go.

Europe has been missing in action. It has not labeled what is taking place as genocide. It has not supported the United States in advocating stronger action by the United Nations. It has not picked up on the idea that NATO ought to get involved to provide the kind of security for the people of Darfur that the African Union has not provided.
Not so sure that the Europeans deserve any special censure. The US isn't exactly springing into action, though it is interesting to read where we have done more than Europe.

War and Piece: Could it get worse?

War and Piece:

Could the prosecution's Moussaoui case get worse?
The FBI agent who arrested Zacarias Moussaoui weeks before Sept. 11 told a federal jury Monday that his own superiors were guilty of "criminal negligence and obstruction" for blocking his attempts to learn whether the terrorist was part of a larger cell about to hijack planes in the United States.[...]
Samit said he once overheard Jones on the phone with headquarters, telling FBI superiors that Minneapolis was trying to keep Zacarias Moussaoui "from flying an airplane into the World Trade Center."
Hard to pin this incompetance on Bush. Idiocy runs pretty deep in the goverment, and it's not as if Bush's idiocy leadership had time to permeate so deeply into the FBI in 2001. But Kee-rist-all-mighty, this is breathtaking.

Bush To Cleveland: ‘Anybody Work Here In This Town?’

Monday, March 20, 2006

Missile Shield == Hacker Heaven?

Defense Tech has this tasty morsel - Missile Shield: Hacker Heaven

It's bad enough that the $10 billion a year missile shield -- especially its ground-based interceptors -- routinely flunk their test runs.

But what's potentially worse is that the anti-missile system may have been left wide open to hackers, with "such serious security flaws that the agency and its contractor, Boeing, may not be able to prevent misuse of the system", according to a Defense Department Inspector General’s report.
Why am I not surprised? But seriously, think about it. Any such shield would have to be on a hair trigger, auto-pilot alert. Suddenly hacking could cause real damage — unlike the current hyped hacking threat, this could be real trouble.

A Top-Down Review for the Pentagon - New York Times

A lot of folks, left and right, are talking about this NYT Op Ed by Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004: A Top-Down Review for the Pentagon

During World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion. The most important quote in it was this: 'It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies.'

By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called 'old Europe' has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.

In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.
Definitely a must-read!

k / o

Never heard of Kid Oakland? Neither had I before the Koufax nominations. But check him out in this post: k / o - a thought

Simply put, we are, all of us, facing huge changes, huge paradigm shifts in our day to day lives that will not be comfortable in the least until we learn to adapt to them.

I think this in part explains the reluctance of citizens in all the major democracies to get serious about 'the next step.' The next step is SCARY, it is not comfortable. However, the alternative is what we're seeing in Iraq, where we're are basically 'fighting for oil,' and on the Gulf Coast where the increase in hurricanes is almost surely no coincidence of nature so much as a kind of global warming influenced catastrophe. It's also an alternative we see in the skyrocketing obesity epidemic among our kids and the crazy health care prices we pay. Truth be told, these realities are becoming more and more SCARY every day. They are the alternative to embracing wholescale change.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Think Progress » Brzezinski on Iraq

“American Leadership, In All Of Its Dimensions, Has Been Damaged”

TPM: incompetent != compassionate

on Bush's so-called liberalism

I think Atrios or Yglesias or perhaps both have made this point recently: but liberals or Democrats aren't committed to high rates of government spending as a core principle in the way that conservatives are with tax cuts. Yes, they believe in more social spending as a general rule. And there are certainly cases when that's led to fiscal excess. The distinction is an important one -- and one conservatives have a difficult time facing. But, in any case, what President Bush has done over the last five years -- with the unfailing support of pretty much every Republican elected official and pundit -- isn't 'big spending.' It's intentionally reckless fiscal policy which is going to create havoc for the country's finances for years to come.

Coalition for Darfur

Coalition for Darfur is one of the blogs I discovered by browsing the Koufax nominees. They are prolific, posting an overwhelming stream of news citations about Darfur—all of it bad news. Check out this petition drive. I signed it. The least I can do.

Darfur: Stand In for Victims of the Slaughter: Sign the petition - and be sure to watch the short film - from Human Rights First
We're looking for at least 200,000 caring people to stand in for the victims of mass atrocities in Darfur. We need you to speak for those who have been killed, raped and displaced—the innocent people who can no longer speak for themselves.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

what you need to know about John McCain

Krugman on McCain: The Right's Man

So here's what you need to know about John McCain.

He isn't a straight talker. His flip-flopping on tax cuts, his call to send troops we don't have to Iraq and his endorsement of the South Dakota anti-abortion legislation even while claiming that he would find a way around that legislation's central provision show that he's a politician as slippery and evasive as, well, George W. Bush.

He isn't a moderate. Mr. McCain's policy positions and Senate votes don't just place him at the right end of America's political spectrum; they place him in the right wing of the Republican Party.

And he isn't a maverick, at least not when it counts. When the cameras are rolling, Mr. McCain can sometimes be seen striking a brave pose of opposition to the White House. But when it matters, when the Bush administration's ability to do whatever it wants is at stake, Mr. McCain always toes the party line.

Eschaton - Dumb Ideas

More about Feingold and the D.C. Dems: Dumb Ideas

But the question isn't whether Feingold made a dumb move. The question is given the move that Feingold made what should the Dems do? He made the move. They have to respond.

And running is a dumb response.

Molly Ivins: Enough of the D.C. Dems

Molly Ivins nails it with: Enough of the D.C. Dems

I can’t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can’t even see straight.
I keep hearing about a Feingold candidacy, and I'm not so sure about that. Senators do not make good presidential candidates. But I do appreciate him being there.

The Big Lie

This Peters article is getting a lot of press, and a hell of a lot of skepticism from reprorters on the ground in Iraq. Here's Back to Iraq taking a swipe at him: The Big Lie

But more unforgivably, Peters also continues his libel against Iraqi stringers/journalists by saying the “The Iraqi leg-men earn blood money for unbalanced, often-hysterical claims.” (emphasis added.)

Mr. Peters, you should be ashamed of yourself. Three Iraqi journalists have been killed this week alone trying to report the news, and the stringer who work for us are no less the journalists than the guys at the Iraqi networks.

Daily Kos: Cheers and Jeers

Kos is not my usual source for humor, but these are good:

"Pentagon records show that at least 8,000 members of the all-volunteer U.S. military have deserted since the Iraq war began.  Hey, at least somebody has an exit strategy."
---Tina Fey

"More people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance. They're questioning his character now and they no longer consider him a strong leader on terrorism. Apparently there's a little more to this whole presidency thing than just not getting blown."
 ---Bill Maher

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hooray for Downing Street Leakage

More sanity, courtesy of the Brits. What would we do without them? This is really good stuff.

As reported in the Guardian: US postwar Iraq strategy a mess, Blair was told

Senior British diplomatic and military staff gave Tony Blair explicit warnings three years ago that the US was disastrously mishandling the occupation of Iraq, according to leaked memos.

John Sawers, Mr Blair's envoy in Baghdad in the aftermath of the invasion, sent a series of confidential memos to Downing Street in May and June 2003 cataloguing US failures. With unusual frankness, he described the US postwar administration, led by the retired general Jay Garner, as 'an unbelievable mess' and said 'Garner and his top team of 60-year-old retired generals' were 'well-meaning but out of their depth'.
This sums things up pretty clearly:
'No leadership, no strategy, no coordination, no structure and inaccessible to ordinary Iraqis.'

EO Natural Hazards: Smog over Beijing

Nice place for the Olympics, eh?

EO Natural Hazards: Drought in the Southern United States

Check out this image of climate change.
With all our recent snow in the Sierra, I've been wondering how long until we start hearing about pending flooding disasters in the spring, with levee breaks and all that.

Boing Boing should read Pharyngula

Whoa, Boing Boing is running this idiotic post: Satellite image of Noah's Ark? and they're running it more than a day after Pharyngula laid waste to the story.

Silly Boing Boing, no buiscuit!

Probe crash cause?

From the BBC: "An inquiry into the Genesis crash found that switches in the capsule had been installed upside down, which may have led to failure of its parachute."

Think Progress » The war on gays


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Senate To Legalize Watergate Break-In?

When the nominations for the Bloggies, or the Koufax awads come out, I like to scan the nominees (and the winners) and find a few new blogs to check out. Thanks to the bloggies I'm tuning into Opinions You Should Have. This post makes me think we have a winner: Senate To Legalize Watergate Break-In

The Senate will vote next week to pass a bill that will retroactively declare the Watergate break-in to be legal.

'If President Nixon felt that spying on the Democratic National Committee headquarters was necessary, that's good enough for me,' said Sen. Pat Roberts (R.-Kan.), who elaborated, 'It's time for us to stop second-guessing our leaders.'

No future for fusion power

Hey, it's been pretty obvious to me for long time. But if I start shouting "it's a pipe dream!", who'd believe me? The carefully reasoned word of these two, Parkins and Kennedy, should carry some clout: No future for fusion power, says top scientist

Nuclear fusion will never be a practical source of electrical power, argues a prominent scientist in the journal Science.

Even nuclear fusion’s staunchest advocates admit a power-producing fusion plant is still decades away at best, despite forty years of hard work and well over $20 billion spent on the research. But the new paper, personally backed by the journal’s editor, issues a strong challenge to the entire fusion programme, arguing that the whole massive endeavour is never likely to lead to anything practical or useful.

'The history of this dream is as discouraging as it is expensive,' wrote William Parkins, a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project during the second world war, who later became the chief scientist at US engineering firm Rockwell International.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ski Bonk - what a Google map app should be

Around the begining of the ski season I found this killer google map page, Ski Bonk, by reading the Google Map Mania Blog. It's been used daily since. I love it. Check it out.

Friday, March 10, 2006

O'Connor Stands Up

Nina Totenberg files this excellent report O'Connor Decries Republican Attacks on Courts

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor showed Thursday that she's not absent from judicial issues. During a speech in Washington, she said Republican leaders' attacks on the courts threaten the constitutional freedoms of Americans.
Wow. She pulls no punches. I really cannot imagine why this was not more widely reported! Google news comes up nearly empty, aside from a tepid report in the WaPo.

Please chase this link and listen for yourself:
The retired justice criticized republicans who criticize the courts. She says they challenge the independce of judges and the freedoms of all Americans.
"Attacks on the judiciary by some republican leaders pose a direct threat to our consutitutional freedoms."
"I am against judicial reforms driven by naked partisan reasoning."
"We must be ever vigilant against those who would strong arm the judiciary into adopting their prefered policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."
Let's hope she continues to use the freedom her retirement affords her to stand up for American freedom and liberty.

Republican values on display

ThinkProgress reports:

Only in a bubble

I'm pretty sure I've never cited The Register here, but this is a tasty quote. In the article Only in a bubble is Google's web WP an Office-killer we find this pearl

Cheerleaders for Silicon Valley insist that today's web bubble isn't really a bubble because it's failed to persuade the public at large to part with their money in exchange for junk stocks. But that's only one definition of a bubble. A bubble is when people leave behind rational considerations, and make poor judgements which have bad consequences.

It's just that the web-based office is as practical as the Segway-based lifebelt.

Technically illiterate, and pumped up on junk science and pious New Age aphorisms - such s 'collective intelligence' - today's 'Web 2.0' kids promise to leave a legacy of disappointment.

Some bubbles exist entirely between the ears. ®

"knowingly killing U.S. troops."

If the bloggers are Intel Dump fear a war with Iran, we should all fear it. Read Ohhhh, crap

"I think the evidence is strong that the Iranian government is making these IEDs, and the Iranian government is sending them across the border and they are killing U.S. troops once they get there," says Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism chief and an ABC News consultant. "I think it's very hard to escape the conclusion that, in all probability, the Iranian government is knowingly killing U.S. troops."
[...]This scares the hell out of me. It should scare the hell out of you, too.[...]

And, incredibly, Bush was re-elected based on the impression that he was better at national security. War with Iran is now increasingly likely, and war with Iran risks the very survival of our republic. All because 19 guys with box-cutters flew some planes into some buildings, and people who have never known fear got scared.

Well now they have something to be scared about. And Osama must praise Allah that Bush was our president on 9/11.
This is not some knee jerk pacifist laying this out. Yipes.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Free eBooks from Manybooks - Lifehacker

Lifehacker scores another one: Free eBooks from Manybooks

Web site offers a huge list of free eBooks for your electronic device.

Most of the books listed on Manybooks are from Project Gutenberg, however there are several benefits to using Manybooks over Project Gutenberg. For one, Manybooks has a much cleaner and nicer interface for browsing the eBook library than Project GutenbergĂ‚’s homepage. But the really cool part about Manybooks is that they offer the eBooks downloaded in many different formats, from large print PDF and eReader to Palm Doc and iPod Notes.
Now, this is really serendipitous on so many levels. Just last night I visited the Project Gutenberg site for the first time in years. They were so far ahead of their time in the early days of the web — they are still ahead. I wanted to see what had happened to them, and if they had undergone any radical transformations.

They have not. They are still blissfully pure to themselves. And carrying on their inexorable labor of love. Bless them. Or give cash.

So along comes this Lifehacker post, pointing to the kind of transformed presence I half expected to find at Gutenberg. So it is literally all good. Project Gutenberg continues unadulterated. Manybooks follows in their wake with what looks to be a great service that leverages and amplifies Gutenberg's work.

Just to make it real, I browsed the collection and rediscovered a work that literally changed my life. I don't often have a chance to cop to being a transcendentalist. But I am. I usually call myself a pantheist cuz… well… people sort of know what that means. It's current enough that there is a context they can place "pantheist" in. Not pagan. Nosssiree. No covens for me. No new-age nights in the woods. Nope. But the oversoul is close enough to pantheism that I'm OK with the label. But the truth is that I spent a formative year of my high school life in a sort of Emerson induced rapture.

So allow me to quote from a copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self Reliance", as published in the book, "Essays"
Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say "I think," "I am," but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones, or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with a reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.

AlterNet: Reframing the Election Fraud Debate

This Alternet article cover familiar ground, vote fraud, in a way that is new to me and resonates much more than the usual "we been robbed" conspiracy theories — even though Im increasingly convinced that we been robbed!

Even if that is true, we have to step back and figure out a way to repair the damage. This sounds about right to me: "Reframing the Election Fraud Debate"

Theories of widespread election fraud are highly debatable, to say the least. Some people enjoy that debate. I do not. It encourages a sense of hopelessness and consumes energy that could instead be focused on long-term changes that could give us elections we can trust.

The election fraud debate frames the problem incorrectly. The question should not be whether there is widespread election fraud. It should be: 'Why should we trust the results of elections?' It's not good enough that election results be accurate. We have to know they are accurate -- and we don't.

In a word, elections must be transparent. People must be able to assure themselves that the results are accurate through direct observation during the election and examination of evidence afterwards.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) - Lap dog

More good work from Think Progress: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) - Chairman of the Senate Cover-up Committee

Pat Roberts has been instrumental in the cover-up of virtually every national security scandal of George W. Bush’s presidency. ThinkProgress has produced a comprehensive report showing how Roberts and his Senate Cover-up Committee have obstructed investigations into everything from false Iraq intelligence to detainee torture to the CIA leak scandal.

Faith-based Disaster Recovery

Many bloggers I read frequently cite AmericaBlog, so I've started to read it too. Here's a good example of their work: KATRINA: Faith-based Disaster Recovery

George Bush's incompetence at protecting us from danger and disaster continues. Despite a wholesale failure of government in Katrina, Bush's answer for future disasters is two-fold:
  • Continued decrease in the government role
  • Increase in the role of faith-based organizations - including a HUGE cash-grab

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Back to Iraq 3.0: What Politicians Say

Drat. Sometimes I unearth good stuff that languishes as a draft post and never gets published. This one is almost so old that I should delete it. But it is such a big story from one of my oldest, most trusted sources on Iraqi news, Chris Allbritton. Here's a post from Back to Iraq 3.0: What Politicians Say

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk: reconciliation talks, talks about the government, talks about Sunni-Shi’a partnership, talk, talk, talk.

Don’t listen to most of it. While many are thankful all-out civil war was averted after the violence of the last five days, many others are still spoiling for a fight and now distrust their leaders. [...]
For the last 18 months, we’ve been in a low-grade civil war. The Askariya bombing kicked us up to "medium-grade," I guess you might call it. Both Sunnis and Shi’a I’ve spoken with are waiting and preparing for it, and that very preparation might make for a self-fulfilling prophecy. For to many Iraqis, it’s only a matter of time.
Not good. Not at all.

'No' to nuclear power?

This report by the UK's Sustainable Development Commission was pretty widely reported. Here's a link to the New Scientist coverage: Top UK advisers say 'No' to nuclear power

The research showed that even if the UK's existing nuclear capacity were doubled, it would only deliver an 8% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2035. Increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy generation could save more sooner, the SDC concludes. 'All the modelling scenarios show it is possible to meet targets for reducing CO2 emissions without nuclear power.'
It is not clear to me what impact this report will have. The upshot appears to be that the UK can meet some vague targets for reducing fossil fuel use without nuclear power, and that nukes are not cost free. But we don't really know much about those targets, how they were set, or if this is really an either/or decision. The nuke lobby seems to think the result suggest that the UK should develop both nukes and renewables.

I'm left wondering if energy markets won't render all this hot air moot. If oil prices spiral up as I suspect they will, UK government targets and quibbling about best alternatives will give way to market imperatives. Everybody quit studying the problem and start building. Now.

Think Progress diggs Murtha

I'm loving ThinkProgress. They are definitely part of my daily rounds... thanks to gems like this: Murtha: The 'Only People Who Want Us in Iraq’ are Iran, al Qaeda, and China

Let me tell you, the only people who want us in Iraq is Iran and al-Qaeda. I’ve talked to a top-level commander the other day, it was about two weeks ago, and he said China wants us there also. Why? Because we’re depleting our resources — our troop resources and our fiscal resources.

Friday, March 03, 2006

What I'm bringing to dinner tonight

"It's a naive domestic burgundy without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption."


Must go skiing. Must go skiing now...

Maybe those conspiracy kooks aren't crazy

When you read something like this, it's hard not to think that other crazy conspiracy theories might just be true...
Soviets 'ordered Pope shooting'

An Italian parliamentary commission has concluded that the former Soviet Union was behind the 1981 assassination attempt on the late Pope John Paul II.

The head of the commission, Paolo Guzzanti, said it was sure beyond 'reasonable doubt' that Soviet leaders ordered the shooting.

Something on the march, but not freedom

Gangs 'kill freely' in Iraq chaos

Hundreds of bodies showing signs of torture or execution arrive at the Baghdad mortuary each month, a senior UN official has told the BBC.

John Pace, until recently UN human rights chief in Iraq, told the BBC News website that up to 75% of the corpses showed signs of extrajudicial death.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006