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  • Thursday, August 30, 2007


    Forgotten Saints

    As the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastation swings through, my bittersweet memories continue to rise unbidden. I remain full of anger at the Bush administration for its incompetence and its abnegation of duty to the US citizens in the afflicted areas. More specifically, I remain angry at Bush for his stupid callousness and affectless expressions of concern and sympathy.

    If you've got a mind, take a look at my posts and pictures after my visit to New Orleans (my birthplace) in August of 2006.

    Permanent Bathtub Ring Around New Orleans
    A Small Tour of a New Orleans Neighborhood, Part 1
    A Small Tour of a New Orleans Neighborhood, Part 2
    A Small Tour of a New Orleans Neighborhood, Part 3

    Some additional photos and slight commentary from me can be found on this flickr page.

    The post title? It's a reference to a popular song in New Orleans: When the Saints Come Marchin' In.

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    Monday, August 27, 2007


    Buh Bye, Mr. Gonzales!

    He fought the good fight for freedom and justice as Attorney General.


    Listening to: "Penetration" by Iggy & The Stooges

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    Sunday, August 26, 2007


    Money and Early Primaries

    Perhaps it's been covered but it seems to me the states seeking to have the earliest primaries are doing so for the money.

    Sure, there's the prestige but I think it's no coincidence that these are poorer or lower population states. If tourism is a big income for some states, I'm curious about what the impact financially is of an influx of reporters, political campaign workers, consultants, etc. does for a state. I'm sure this is a significant factor.

    A state like New Hampshire which loses its place as an early primary would probably also lose a great deal of money. Yes, this would be true anywhere but I'm suggesting that the percentage of money the primary brings into the state might be more than a slight boost; it might be significantly warping the motivations of the pols.

    Is this wrong or bad? I don't know, but it feels like bipartisan decision-making for cash rather than for the good of the body politic. I just have difficultly grasping the usefulness of this extended period between primaries and conventions.

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    Friday, August 24, 2007


    Random 10 Songs: "4 Ever Hoochie Coochie" Edition

    Cue the music:
    1. "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" by Muddy Waters
    2. "Green Arrow" by Yo La Tengo
    3. "What If" by Lucinda Williams
    4. "To Love Someone" by Slobberbone
    5. "Backside (Sometimes)" by Robin Lane
    6. "Wild Birds Flock to Me" by Peter Murphy
    7. "No More Elmore" by Eric Burdon
    8. "My Generation" by The Who
    9. "The Jean Genie" by Bowie, David
    10. "4 Ever 2 Gether" by ABC
    Bonus track: "People Have the Power" by Patti Smith

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    Wednesday, August 22, 2007


    The CR FAQ: The Book That Ate My Mind...

    Finally, the dead tree version of the book-that-ate-my-mind is finished and available for purchase. A small preview is here. The purchase page is here. And just for fun here is a button to there as well:
    Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

    The name of this nemesis-book? The CR FAQ - An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism.

    Despite years of experience in publishing, this was a difficult project to get out the door. Part of it was the nature of the source material which was written on a Wiki by 8-10 people. This meant there were myriad inconsistencies in the text which needed to be standardized. Plus a hefty dose of non-English words needing to be quadruply-checked and italicized. Plus a glossary and an index. All in all, lots of detail and things to go wrong.

    However, it looks great and I'm happy at the quality of the text as well as the graphics. Now if it will just sell...
    Listening to: "Without You" by Robin Lane & The Chartbusters

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    Friday, August 17, 2007


    Random 10 Songs: "Fast Train Lament" Edition

    More flotsam from my music collection:
    1. "Esnuria" by Gong
    2. "Too Fast for Love" by The Donnas
    3. "Play A Train Song" by Todd Snider
    4. "Stateline" by Japan
    5. "Couldn't I Just Tell You" by Todd Rundgren
    6. "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" by Professor Longhair
    7. "Supply and Demand" by Hives
    8. "The Charlatan's Lament" by Waterboys
    9. "Get Together" by The Youngbloods
    10. "Moving Away from the Pulsebeat" by Buzzcocks
    Bonus track: "Holding My Own" by The Darkness

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    Monday, August 06, 2007


    A Brief Tale of Cheney and the Kitten

    Is it cruel and unfair to ascribe such traits to VP Dick Cheney? Perhaps, yet there is a certain satisfaction as well. There is blood on his hands whether you can see it or not. OK, maybe not kitten blood but certainly human blood.

    Listening to: "Drown in My Own Tears" by Smithereens

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    Junk News from 2006

    Project Censored's Junk Food News and News Abuse for 2006 contains the following:
    3. After the “Brangelina” roller coaster of 2005 and the frenzy of rumor and innuendo it sparked, hadn’t we heard enough about the private lives of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? The answer, it would seem, was no. On May 27, 2006, the day of their baby Shiloh’s birth, the media went into paparazzi overdrive to obtain photos of the “most beautiful baby in the world.” They weren’t as interested, however, in another set of photos released that day. These photos depicted US Marines killing Iraqi civilians ‘execution-style.’ The unearthed photographs, taken by a Marine intelligence team, convinced military investigators that a single unit had killed as many as 24 unarmed Iraqis in an insurgent stronghold after a roadside bomb had killed an American in November of 2005. While this shocking story did eventually break the surface of mainstream coverage, it never attained the depth or breadth of coverage so eagerly showered on Brad and Angelina.
    Sources: Los Angeles Times, “Photos Indicate Civilians Slain Execution-Style: An official involved in an investigation of Camp Pendleton Marines’ actions in an Iraqi town cites ‘a total breakdown in morality,’” May 27, 2006; Perry, Tony and Barnes, Julian E. Lasseter, Tom. Knight Ridder Newswire “Iranian-Backed Militia Groups Take Control of Much of Southern Iraq,”May 27, 2006. **Wikipedia used of the date of birth.

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    Sunday, August 05, 2007


    Graphic: A Bush/Cheney Epiphany

    More art therapy. The words? Not specifically quoted from anything, at least not consciously. Sort of a pseudo-Biblical or epic saga tone to it.

    Let me apologize to any berserkers out there. I'm not suggesting that either Bush or Cheney is experiencing what is sometimes called berserk "red mist" battle frenzy. No, this is something much uglier and less honorable. This is a cruel and self-righteous vision, at best indifferent to the pain and suffering caused by their policies and wars. At worst, smug and cruel and deliberate in the wielding of power and might.

    The dark days just keep on coming.

    Listening to: "Ruiner" by Nine Inch Nails

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    Friday, August 03, 2007


    Then Why Are My Pockets Empty?

    I came upon a small box on Culture Ghost. Following the link, I generated the following for DemiOrator:

    My blog is worth $9,032.64.
    How much is your blog worth?

    Now admittedly I have done little to reap any money from my blog. I briefly tried Google's AdSense program but disliked the ads it supplied to the blog. I'm also a bit of a control freak. Or at least enough that I'm leery about having ad content on my blog that I don't explicitly approve. Perhaps that's my problem.

    Would I put more effort into this blog if I were getting money from it? Sure. But that would also make blogging into a job in the negative sense. I would then start to resent it. Anyway, I really doubt DemiOrator is actually worth $9,000.

    As a point of comparison, the Ghost is apparently worth $28,227.00. It all feels a bit like just numbers on the page. I feel completely unable to evaluate the accuracy or realism of these estimates.

    And yet I'm reminded of a line from a music review on Spandau Ballet many years ago: "How can you accuse them of 'selling out' when all they ever wanted to do was buy in?" Integrity can sometimes hinge more on the state of your belly and monthly rent than your high moral fiber.

    Listening to: "Natural's Not in It" by Gang of Four

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    Random 10 Songs: "The Common Tongue Between the Devil's Teeth" Edition

    Trying something a little different with the Random 10 songs. Since FoxyTunes recently implemented a link function when inserting the song, I'm going to do that for this list and see how it works out.
    1. "Superbeast" by Rob Zombie
    2. "Tell It to Carrie" by Romantics
    3. "Peace-A Theme" by King Crimson
    4. "Song for the North Star" by Kaukonen, Jorma
    5. "White Lies" by Grin
    6. "Throw It Away" by Jackson, Joe
    7. "In The Common Tongue" by Iam Siam
    8. "The Line Between the Devil's Teeth (And That Which Cannot Be Repeat)" by Murphy, Peter
    9. "Two Beads at the End" by Minutemen
    10. "Ride, Ride, Ride (Celliers' Brother's Song)" by Ryuichi Sakamoto
    Bonus track "Ball and Chain" by Big Mama Thornton

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    Bridge Collapse vs Voting Machine Problems

    As a compare and contrast example: On Google News, there are currently 4,258 stories on the Minneapolis bridge collapse. Number of stories on the problems with voting machines in California and Florida, 253.

    Not that I'm drawing a value judgment on the relative importance of the two. But I am.

    Listening to: "Sinners Inc." by Rob Zombie
    via FoxyTunes

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    Thursday, August 02, 2007


    Bridge Collapse: Slight Return

    At this sad juncture, would I be amiss or callus in recalling that investment in highway infrastructure maintenance has been considered inadequate since the 1980s? Dear old Pres Reagan espoused shrinking government and this included infrastructure. Warnings about the results (and specifically, bridge collapses) have regularly popped up over at least the last fifteen years, perhaps longer.

    This Washington Post article references the current debate.

    Addendum: Guilty for not providing supporting documentation for my claim about the longstanding neglect of our infrastructure, I was glad to come across the following from 2005:
    Can you pinpoint when the U.S.’s infrastructure began to fall into decline?
    The first report on the infrastructure that I remember was during the Reagan administration in the late 1980s. That’s the baseline for where we are. And by that time the decline had already started: we were not receiving the needed funding to replace worn-out and obsolete equipment.
    (tip of the mouse to Agitprop.)

    Now playing: "When I'm Gone" by Ochs, Phil
    via FoxyTunes

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    The Dying Art and Craft of Journalism

    During the breaking coverage of the Minneapolis bridge collapse on CNN, I was astonished by the low level of the news anchors' commentary. Admittedly, it was Nancy Grace at first for a couple of hours before being replaced by Wolf Blitzer.

    Ms. Grace tends toward the histrionic and melodramatic in her presentation most of the time so this is not a huge surprise. Yet I was reminded of sports "color" announcers during both Grace and Blitzer's presentation. Or newspaper sub-headlines in 19th century US:

    Watery Grave for Many!
    Twisted Wreckage!
    Terror at Rush Hour!
    Tragic Event May Be Terrorism!
    Minneapolis Mayhem!
    Schoolchildren Imperiled!

    The lurid tone permeated the comments, prompting me to call it "Drama based around a true and unfolding event."

    This is the circus of 24 hour news, bloated with puffery, shallow, vastly filled with information only an entertainment medium would call "news." The Fourth Estate of TV news is a barren place, a dustbowl pretending to vibrancy with displays of flash and glitter.

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    Frankenforests and You: A Slight Meditation

    An article on AlterNet, Frankenforests: GE Trees Threaten Ecosystem Collapse By Dara Colwell, snagged me.

    As the biotech industry continues to lay the groundwork for genetically engineered crops -- poorly tested, widely debated and yet plugged as a technological wonder -- a potentially greater threat to biodiversity has begun to emerge. Pushed forward by biotech and the multibillion-dollar timber industry, genetically engineered trees are the latest invention.

    "The industry has tried very hard to keep it quiet, or tout the technology as benign and beneficial to the environment," says Anne Petermann, co-founder of the Global Justice Ecology Project, a nonprofit established to advance global justice through ecological awareness. "The technology is moving forward very quickly, outpacing regulations. There are no controls in place to properly address or assess the risks -- which are major."

    GE trees are planted in monoculture forests, which look more like plantations, and pose serious risks to the ecosystem. Trees live decades or centuries longer than plants, and their seeds can travel hundreds of miles, increasing the likelihood of gene contamination to wild species. The technology was created to optimize the manufacturing process, but environmentalists worry that it will open an ecological Pandora's Box and threaten the health of the forests we depend on for survival.

    The problems of this philosophy and approach to creating specific crops are manifold and already known. Only humans could blind themselves to their hubris in the name of profit.

    Because this kind of development ignores and/or discards many traits to pursue only a few of capitalist value, the ramifications may be unknown until they manifest with tragic consequences. Past mistakes of deliberately introducing foreign species like kudzu in the US south or the Cane Toad to Australia spring to mind.

    Boosters of GE (genetic engineering) often claim what they are doing is just an accelerated version of natural selection or what humans have been doing for thousands of years: picking traits to breed for and doing it. However, the practical difference is huge due to the concentrated regime, the ability to globally distribute the results, and, most importantly, the introduction of genes which would be impossible to marry to the stock without genetic splicing and intervention.

    Perhaps I've become a doubter of science's beneficence in all cases. I just think the possible mistakes are multitudinous and I trust not the captains of industry to choose with the good of the planet or even the human race in mind.

    Profit often drives all other concerns into neglect.

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