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  • Saturday, June 24, 2006


    Coming up for Air

    OK, I'm not really sure any of my DemiOrator readers are interested in this but the FAQ I've been working on is now a live site. This project has been a major eater of my time and energy for the last couple of months. Go see it. It's called The CR FAQ - An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism.

    My housemate, Fierce Celt, did all of the coding and graphics. I did one page (sort of) but also did some codemonkey work. For those unfamiliar with the phrase, "codemonkey" work is repetitive and low-level fiddling with the HTML to, say, insert opening and closing quotation marks. It takes little intelligence, thus codemonkey.

    Next up is formatting the project for a hardcopy/dead tree version. That will mostly be my responsibility. We like the look of to print it. They have almost no ill words spoken of their product.

    Someday I will return to writing in this blog on a regular basis. But not today.

    Thursday, June 15, 2006


    Will Geek for Words, Part 11: N words A-GoGo

    Being part the 11th of an irregular series selecting my favorite words and their definitions from the Word Lover’s Dictionary: Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words by Josefa Heifetz (New York: Carol Publishing, 1974, 1994, ISBN: 0806517204). For beginning entries in this series, please see Part 1 and Part 2. If you want to find all posts in the series, search on the title "Will Geek for Words" on this site. Eventually I add them to the sidebar listing. Part 11 encompasses the letter N words and their definitions. And, yes, I am using "geek" in the older carny definition of a sideshow actor who typically bit the heads off chickens during his act. I love words in a very, very special way. Don't I have a charming and sophisticated way of showing it? (No chickens were harmed in the assembly of this post.)

    This is not a promotional stunt. I am not paid to plug this book yet here I am, mentioning it at the top of each of these posts and linking to the Amazon page for it. Someone should give me an award or something. (What I'll probably get is a "cease and desist" letter from their lawyers. As the saying goes: So sue me. I'm sure it's "fair use" to include excerpted selections in a non-commercial venture. And did I mention that I'm poor?)

    Monday, June 12, 2006


    The FAQ-That-Ate-My-Mind is Almost Done

    The FAQ which I have been collaborating on is nearing completion. This is a main reason why I have been slacking off on DemiOrator. We're hoping it will be finalized in the next couple of weeks. Then I will be free of it! Except for coding and posting it on a website. And formatting it for hardcopy publication. Minor things. Right.

    Will my honed mind be able to rebound and tackle the tough questions of the day? Or have I burned out some synapses forever? Will these mild but persistent tremors in my hands abate? Will I recover my boundless optimism for our political system? (Wait, I lost that around 1968. Or '76. A long time ago, in any event.)

    I don't know whether I'll point readers of this blog to the FAQ once it's posted. It's not really concerned with subjects I write about here so I don't think it would be of much interest. We'll see.

    Saturday, June 10, 2006


    Google Trends

    A new Google tool caught my eye. I'm not really sure how useful it is but it has potential. Google Trends will take a subject you give it and tell you the history of Google searches on that subject in graph form. If there are news stories which impact the searches, it will correlate the appearance of these stories with the subject searches.

    Just as an example, try looking at this search on "gaelic". Note that you can see spikes in searches coinciding with some of the news stories. It also lists which cities searched the most on the term. Kinda cool.

    This is a tool still under development at Google so there are limitations.

    Oh, you're wondering what the picture has to do with this? Nothing. It's on the cover of a vinyl record I'm recording at the moment: Alexis Korner, Bootleg Him! I believe the art is by Roger Dean who did quite a few record covers in the seventies. I would guess he's best known for some covers for the rock group Yes. I just liked the image.

    Monday, June 05, 2006


    Their Satanic Majesties Request

    Don't I have anything better to do with my time? And WHY is Keef the only one untouched? And why is Condi in the center? More to the point, why is it so poorly done, particularly Poutin' George in the back right?

    Perhaps it was sparked by the news I heard earlier today that the Pentagon is putting in their manuals that certain aspects of the Geneva Conventions will be ignored. No secret backroom stuff, they're setting it out as policy in black and white, in print. Here is the blurb from Democracy Now!:
    Pentagon Makes It Official Policy to Ignore Geneva Conventions
    The Los Angeles Times is reporting the Pentagon has decided to make it official policy to ignore a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment” of detainees. According to the paper, the Pentagon’s new Army Field Manual on interrogation marks a further and potentially permanent shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards. For decades, it had been the official policy of the U.S. military to follow the minimum standards for treating all detainees as laid out in the Geneva Convention. But, in 2002, Bush suspended portions of the Geneva Convention for accused members of Al Qaeda and Taliban. Critics said the Pentagon’s latest decision would violate a broadly supported anti-torture measure advanced by Sen. John McCain to ban torture and cruel treatment. The Los Angeles Times reports the move to officially ignore parts of the Geneva Convention was supported by Vice President Dick Cheney's office and by the Pentagon's intelligence arm. Sources said Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington and Stephen Cambone, the Defense undersecretary for intelligence, claimed the Geneva Conventions restrict the United States' ability to question detainees.
    You can also check out the blog entry which has links to a variety of related things.

    Yeah, this'll work: "Laws? We don' need no stinkin' rule of law! We are the Law! Take those pansy international laws and make the weak countries follow them!"

    I like to think cynicism is my most attractive feature. Well, after my codpiece, of course.

    Saturday, June 03, 2006


    MoveOn and Their Top Three Priorities

    I get the emails but I admit I don't participate much with the organization. They recently polled members about what three subjects/goals should be their priorities. Below is part of the result.
    Dear MoveOn member,

    The results are in. We're proud to announce the MoveOn member choice for our new, positive agenda:

    • Health care for all
    • Energy independence through clean, renewable sources
    • Democracy restored

    These three goals were nominated, debated, and overwhelmingly selected by more than 100,000 people in local house parties and then online. Most groups would say this is a far too risky way to make such a big decision. But it's this grassroots consensus that makes this agenda different—and powerful.

    So what's next? This month, we'll launch a major campaign for a clean energy future, starting by breaking the vise-grip of big oil in Washington with our "Oil Free Congress" initiative. Expect hundreds of local events, advertising, national media attention and accountability at the ballot box—and that's just for the first of our 3 new goals.

    Of course, we won't let up in our work to end the war in Iraq, and we'll still respond to immediate threats in Congress. But our new agenda will focus our long-term work, offer voters a positive, inspiring reason to support progressives on Election Day, and push Democrats to think big and fight hard.

    Let's be clear: we've chosen big goals here, and seeing them through won't be easy. There are powerful interests who prefer things the way they are, and we'll never match them in sheer dollars or backroom deals.

    Our strength lies where it always has: the voice, energy, and creativity of 3 million MoveOn members. If we're going to make health care a right, power America with clean energy, and restore our democracy, we're going to need as many likeminded folks on board as we can get. So today, we're turning to you to help build the team.

    Can you think of some folks you know who care about these issues and are ready to roll up their sleeves—or even just get their feet wet? You can send them a quick note and invite them to join MoveOn through a simple online form, or just forward this note and ask them to click:

    When the polls closed last night at 11:59, "Health care for all" and "Energy Independence: clean, renewable sources" were the clear winners for the first and second plank, with 82.8% of voters choosing one or both. We're proud to put these bold, inspiring goals front and center in our work to come.

    But for the final plank, things got a little interesting. "Restored constitutional rights" and "verifiable, accurate elections" ended up in a virtual tie for the third slot (0.7% apart) but clearly ahead of the rest of the field.

    We took a hard look at what folks were saying about both issues, and realized that they shared a very similar purpose: guarding against anti-democratic abuses of power. When the President puts himself above the law to invade our private lives, democracy is threatened. When thousands of votes are lost or deleted and there's no way to check the results, democracy is threatened. We believe in a country where our rights are safe, and our votes always count— that's democracy restored.

    It's exciting to know how united we are—a full 96.8% of voters chose at least one of these top issues.

    We've set our eyes on a pretty big prize here, and there's a lot of hard work to do. But our history is full of stories of millions of people uniting behind a vision and fighting together 'til they've achieved the unthinkable. And heck, most of them didn't even have email.

    Let's make it happen.

    –Ben, Matt, Adam Green, Marika, Justin, Jennifer, Carrie, Rosalyn, Eli, Adam, Tom, Noah, Wes, Joan, Tanya, Natalie, Roy and Nita, the whole Political Action team

    P.S. The online vote was between the 10 most popular goals that MoveOn members generated and sent in from over 600 house parties last week. Here are all of the "MoveOn top 10" and the final vote count for each:

    Health care for all———————————————65091

    Sustainable energy independence———-61030

    Restored constitutional rights——————35675

    Guaranteed accurate elections—————-35133

    Global leadership through—————————28912

    High quality education for all———————27874

    Solutions to global warming———————-26306

    A guaranteed living wage—————————-25527

    Publicly funded elections—————————21096

    A balanced federal budget————————-20945

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