Saturday, May 28, 2005

Sensible simplicity

Go to noutopia to read a reminder of how simple and sensible the Scientific Method is; a reminder you can remember and use to head off creationist and intelligent design nonsense.

Also, right below that, on the same page, you can read a sweet little poem by Lew Welch, a beat poet friend of Gary Snyder’s who finally drank too much, got too sad and wandered off into the deep woods and was never found.

Here's the suicide note he left which was found by Gary Snyder:

"I never could make anything work out right and now I'm betraying my friends. I can't make anything out of it - never could. I had great visions but never could bring them together with reality. I used it all up. It's all gone. Don Allen is to be my literary executor- use MSS at Gary's and at Grove Press. I have $2,000 in Nevada City Bank of America - use it to cover my affairs and debts. I don't owe Allen G. anything yet nor my Mother. I went Southwest. Goodbye. Lew Welch."

From this page on the American Museum of Beat Art web page.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Alterman hits it out of the park

Eric Alterman gets very close to calling the Bush administration by its rightful names.

These same people, acting with unprecedented centralization of power, and secrecy, have taken it upon themselves to suspend the most basic rights enumerated in our constitution, and are carrying out the functional equivalent of a police state on Guantanamo Bay, and at various prisons around the world. It is a police state in which torture is condoned and prisoners are, on occasion, murdered. According to Amnesty International, the United States is operating a “gulag” that “has sought to justify the use of coercive interrogation techniques, the practice of holding 'ghost detainees' (people in unacknowledged incommunicado detention) and the 'rendering' or handing over of prisoners to third countries known to practice torture,” More here.

You really need to go to Alterman's Altercation and read today's entire post, How to lose a country in seven easy steps.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Root rot

Here in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, we have a State Senator who is thinking, out loud, about switching parties with an election coming up next year.

State Sen. Lisa Boscola has publicly entertained the idea of switching party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in recent weeks, but she says any decision on her political future is a ways off. …

…The senator said her ties to Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell are a big reason why she remains in the Democratic fold. …

…Boscola and her mother Anna go way back with the governor. They are among a coterie of Democrats who supported Rendell in his first unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1986 against the late Robert P. Casey...

Closing out the same article (and sticking to the “with friends like these who needs enemies” theme) PA Senator O'Pake, the Senate minority whip, chimes in with this gem.
…"We represent what we feel is the core of the Democratic party base — the blue collar working family, conservative on social issues that are now in swing districts," he said. "We just have to work a little harder. Much of our base is leaving because of positions taken by the national party."

Senators, why wait. Get off the fence and get moving.

All the nuttiness is right here in the Pocono Record

I live in a dirty house

Google (the company that owns Blogger, where this site lives) has named Dan Senor, the company's new Global Communications and Strategy VP.
A former Senior Associate at the Carlyle Group, Senor was briefly Scott McLellan's deputy as White House spokesman before becoming head of the the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq's information department. The White House web site bills him as Senior Advisor to Presidential Envoy L. Paul Bremer III. Fox News hired Senor as a panelist in February. While in Iraq Senor showed his loyalty by going jogging in a Bush-Cheney '04 tracksuit.
Not everyone is impressed.

"I have come to associate his triangular, brush-cut head with an unceasing stream of bullshit. He's Ari Fleischer without the charm," writes one grump. "Hiring this guy is a repulsive move."

link via The Raw Story


Once again McCain is receiving lots of good press, this time for helping put together the compromise on the “nuclear option.” The compromise will not work unless in practice it means a complete surrender by Democrats.

As for McCain, let’s not forget how low the man can go.
McCain, reveling in adoration Republican fund-raiser and sure his joke would go no further, said: "Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father."

From here. But if you google "McCain Chelsea Reno joke" it comes up all over the place.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

We are what we do

From Hendrik Hertzberg in the current New Yorker.

The most heartrending passages of Golden’s story, which was drawn from a two-thousand-page confidential Army file provided by an anonymous source, describe the death by torture of a slight, shy, illiterate young Afghan villager who was shackled by the wrists to the wire ceiling of his cell for days, struck more than a hundred times in one day for the amusement of captors who found his agonized screams of “Allah!” funny, and beaten on the legs until the tissue, in a coroner’s words, “had basically been pulpified.” By the time he died, most of his interrogators had concluded that he was guiltless. In common with the Abu Ghraib case and others, only a few lower-ranking officers and (especially) enlisted soldiers have been disciplined in connection with this and other abuses at Bagram.

The indulgence of this sort of depravity goes to, and comes from, the top. President Bush pushed aside the Geneva Conventions. A memo prepared on the order of his White House counsel, now Attorney General, suggested limiting the definition of torture to acts that bring on “organ failure.”

The people that do these things did not come from outer space. They came from next door. They are us and we have become torturers.

Read the whole column.

Hertzberg points out that arguing about the reliability of Newsweek sources, when we know it is a fact that we are torturing people, is nonsensical. Bush and his foot soldiers are astonishingly adept at fogging the lenses. We wander bamboozled again in never never land.

Business is booming

Could be we’ll also become a nation divided between buyers and sellers. Walmart can’t employ all of us.
…."I abandoned my taxi driving job because of the security situation," Mr Hameed, 22, told The Sunday Telegraph. "I thought about joining the police or the army, but that is even more dangerous. There were no more options, so I decided to sell my kidney. I am still a young man, so I want to marry and begin a business."

Mr Hameed received a good price for his kidney. Would-be buyers with an eye for a bargain can now pick up a new kidney for as little as $700, given the desperation of fit and healthy Iraqis for money.

Young men like Mr Hameed can be seen loitering around many big hospitals in Baghdad these days, open to bids passed on via networks of shadowy middlemen who lurk in nearby caf├ęs….

…As news of the black market trade has spread, however, wealthier transplant "tourists" from around the Arab world have started flocking to Baghdad, attracted by the rock-bottom prices.

If car bombs, kidnappings and robberies are a deterrent, the price compares favourably to the $5,000 cost of a kidney on the black market in Turkey, or $3,000 in India. In Iraq, the operation itself typically costs $2,000. Even so, the risks are considerable. Baghdad's hospitals are filthy and under-resourced. …

"Black market organ trade is Baghdad's new growth industry"

Via the Raw Story

Kristof today

All this underscores how the Internet is beginning to play the watchdog role in China that the press plays in the West.

This line in today's Kristof NY Times column is a joke, right?