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  Saturday   June 23   2007

give us this day our daily photograph


gordy's image archive index

 08:43 PM - link

  Friday   June 22   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

1150 — Oak Harbor

gordy's image archive index

This starts a new series. Oak Harbor is at the north end of Whidbey Island. The major industry is Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Most of Oak Harbor has been built up since WWII but the pre-WWII Oak Harbor is still there and a mixed lot it is. Zoe has her hair done at a salon in old Oak Harbor. When I'm waiting I often wander around taking pictures. I'm not entirely sure why I'm attracted to old Oak Harbor, but I am.

 10:19 PM - link

america the beautiful

Dead Man Shopping
by Joe Bageant

Like many older married men, I'd rather have my fingernails pulled out with heated pliers than go with my wife to an allegedly cultural event, which in our still quite Southern town of Winchester, Virginia, usually means attending yet another local history or genealogy lecture. And I'd rather have the late Uday Hussein personally administer the ball shockers to me than attend one of our town's many commercial events such as First Night, First Friday, or any "celebration of" (pick your own noun) such as Winchester's spring festival of the apple blossom, downtown days, historic main street or any of the other thinly masked events which I call "Chamber of Commerce coordinated purchasing opportunities."

But when my wife Barb pointed out, rather firmly I thought, that main street Winchester's "First Friday" celebration was tonight, and given that I have not been outside this house for most of the month since returning from my shack in Central America, I knew that I'd better show a bit of enthusiasm.

And so I find myself standing here holding one of those ubiquitous caterer's plastic wine goblets in the middle of a boutique whose theme or purpose, as near as I can tell, is cool looking weathered outdoor stuff brought indoors, then matched up with expensive new china and linens. Immediately, that high whine of hysteria in the back of my head starts its klaxon: Get me the fuuuuuck outta heeeeeeeeeere! Ooooooooooooweeeeeeeeeee ... Get me the fuuuuuck outta heeeeeeeeeere! I call it the "Dead Man Shopping" siren. Or "Rod Serling's Lost Potpourri Zone."

On the face of it, First Friday, which is "celebrated" in thousands of American downtowns on the first Friday in June each year, seems mainly an opportunity for merchants to give away wine and cheese and crab salad cracker spread in large amounts. Almost none of the attending crowd purchases anything. And when they do it seems to be one of those reflexive small token purchases one sees only in America: as in, "I am occupying space and breathing inside a retail establishment and the owner greeted me, so I must buy something." Especially since I ate a piece of his cheese.


 09:49 PM - link

book recommendations

Reading Bageant and Zinn together is enlightening and encouraged. Different sides of the same coin. It's been said that history is written by the winners. In the U.S. the winners are the wealthy ruling class. They determine the reality that is presented in the media. They define what is America. Or, as Bageant calls it, the hologram called America. There aren't many writing about those that aren't in control. Check out any American newspaper. You will find a business section. Do you see a labor section? Didn't think so. So, who tells the people's side? You could start with Bageant and Zinn.

Zinn's A People's History of the United States rewrites American history to include the powerless. And what a different story it is than that which was served up to us in school. Not unlike watching Fox news and then reading this blog. It isn't just the lies, it's what has been left out. It starts out in 1492.

Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:

They ... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned... . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane... . They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.

For the Indians, it was downhill from there. Columbus was the first slaver in the new world. Something to think about on the next Columbus Day. And the American Revolution wasn't quite as advertised.

Around 1776, certain important people in the English colonies made a discovery that would prove enormously useful for the next two hundred years. They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire. In the process, they could hold back a number of potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership.

When we look at the American Revolution this way, it was a work of genius, and the Founding Fathers deserve the awed tribute they have received over the centuries. They created the most effective system of national control devised in modern times, and showed future generations of leaders the advantages of combining paternalism with command.

A People's History of the United States is a litany of those rebellions and how the government controlled its citizens, often brutally. Remember that the Constitution gave the right to vote not to women, not to blacks, and not to whites that didn't hold property. It was a Constitution for the wealthy ruling class. As it was, it is still. This is a book that must be read.

A People's History of the United States looks back. Deer Hunting with Jesus looks at the now and trembles for the future. I first ran across Joe Bageant on the internet. Aside from being a hell of a writer, a veritable silver tongued devil, what he was writing about struck a chord. Joe writes about the working class poor, the redneck class. He does it not as an outsider. These are his people. He grew up with them, escaped, went to college, and became a pinko atheist. Then he went back home to Winchester, Virginia. He has a liberal perspective but his heart is with these people. And they are getting screwed. If they only realized it.

They're getting screwed in work, screwed out of an education, screwed with their mortgages, and screwed in their health care. Screwed by the same people they vote for. But liberals are pretty much in the same boat. They are being screwed by the Democrats. What happens when a Democrat comes along that speaks truth to power? What did they do to Howard Dean and Ralph Nader? How much are the Democrats working to fix health care? Do you think Hillary is going to do something about health care? It turns out she is the second-highest recipient of campaign donations from the health-care industry. She doesn't advertise that, does she? The media would like us to think it's Red State vs. Blue State. It's a magic trick, folks. An illusion. It's a false dichotomy. The class war, and don't delude yourself that it isn't a war, is not between liberal white collar workers and conservative blue collar workers. It's not between those that drink Red Hook ESB and those that drink Bud Light. We are both in the same leaky boat that is sinking fast while the wealthy and powerful steam off in the luxury yacht having cast us adrift. The sooner we realize we are in the same boat the better off we will be. Oh, where was I?

That's right, Joe Bageant and Deer Hunting with Jesus. Here is his opening shot:

Faced with working-class life in towns such as Winchester, I see only one solution: beer. So I sit here at Royal Lunch watching fat Pootie in a T-shirt that reads: ONE MILLION BATTERED WOMEN IN THIS COUNTRY AND I'VE BEEN EATING MINE PLAIN! That this is not considered especially offensive says all you need to know about cultural and gender sensitivity around here. And the fact that Pootie votes, owns guns, and is allowed to purchase hard liquor is something we should all probably be afraid to contemplate. Thankfully, even cheap American beer is a palliative for anxious thought tonight.

Then too, beer is educational and stimulates contemplation. I call it my "learning through drinking" program. Here are some things I have learned at Royal Lunch:

1. Never shack up with a divorced woman who is two house payments behind and swears you are the best sex she ever had.

2. Never eat cocktail weenies out of the urinal, no matter how big the bet gets.

As you can see, learning through drinking is never dull. But when karaoke came to American bars, my hopsy approach to social studies got downright entertaining, especially here where some participants get gussied up for their three weekly minutes of stardom.

Take Dink Lamp over there in the corner, presently dressed like a stubble-faced Waylon Jennings. Dink is fifty-six. His undying claim to fame in this town is not his Waylon imitation, however, which sucks (as do his Keith Whitley and his Travis Tritt). It is that he beat up the boxing chimpanzee at the carnival in 1963. This is a damned hard thing to do because chimpanzees are several times stronger than humans and capable of enough rage that the pugilistic primate wore a steel muzzle. Every good old boy in this place swears Dink pounded that chimpanzee so hard it climbed up the cage bars and refused to come back down and that Dink won a hundred dollars. I don't know. I wasn't there to see it because my good Christian family did not approve of attending such spectacles. One thing is for sure, though: Dink is tough enough to have done it. (To readers who wonder whether people really have names such as Dink and Pootie: Hell, yes! Not only do we have a Dink and a Pootie in Winchester, the town that stars in this book, we also have folks named Gator, Fido, Snooky, and Tumbug—whom we simply call Bug.)

Joe does have a way with words. Beautifully written, funny, scary, and guaranteed to leave your head pointed in a different direction. There are a lot of books that I recommend that deal with many of these issues. If you are only going to read one, this is it. Deer hunting with Jesus is a clean shot with a bolt-action .30-06. An old but well oiled .30-06.

As Joe would say: Solidarity, in art and labor.

[disclosure: Joe sent me a review copy and mentioned me in the book's acknowledgments. This in no way affected my review. It only surprises me that anyone might listen to me.]

Deer Hunting with Jesus:
Dispatches from America's Class War

by Joe Bageant

Joe has a web site that is essential reading: Joe Bageant.

And here are some of his words about his book:

Joe Bageant’s book available on Amazon

The book is a non-fiction continuous work, not a collection of essays or a collection of previous online material -- although there are some parts of essays included. In a sense however, it is a series of linked essays, with the real life people from my home town recurring throughout, along with explorations into deep Christian fundamentalism, and why, despite what most urban liberals think, they share many commonalities with the red state farmer, the Baptist preacher and the deep fried double wide world of service working Americans who grease their cars and wipe the asses of America’s elderly in nursing homes, or sit at terminals all day doing mindless meaningless work under the eye of the management classes.


A People's History of the United States:
1492 to Present

by Howard Zinn

Here is a site that has selections from People's History of the United States:

A People's History of the United States

And here's a site that has the whole book, but I know that once you start it you will want a dead tree version.

A People's History Of The United States

And Howard has a website.


 09:26 PM - link

  Thursday   June 21   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

The great white weed — next to McQueen's, Freeland

gordy's image archive index

 11:48 PM - link

the war against the american people by the american ruling class

The War on Consciousness

We are truly in a war. It is not the war we imagine we are in, which is the way our true adversaries want it. It is not a foreign war against a foreign enemy. It is a war on consciousness, a war on our own minds. The global war on terror that is being fought around the world is an embodied reflection in the material world of a deeper, more fundamental war that is going on in the realm of consciousness itself.

We have the most criminal regime in all of our history wreaking unspeakable horror on the entire planet, while simultaneously waging war on the consciousness of its own citizens - US. If we aren’t aware of this, we are unwittingly playing into, supporting and complicit in the evil that is being perpetrated in our name.

A government’s war on the consciousness of its own citizens is by no means unique to the Bush administration. Abusing power over others so as to limit their freedom is an archetypal process that has been endlessly re-enacted by governments throughout history in various forms. With the Bush administration, however, the pathological aspect of this process has become so exaggerated and amped up to such a degree that it is just about impossible not to notice its staggering malignancy. With the Bush administration, the underlying evil that has played out in our government over many years is becoming overwhelmingly obvious for all to see. With the Bush administration, the underlying evil that informs systems of government that are based on “power over” instead of “liberty for” is coming out from hiding in the shadows. Instead of being acted out underground, our government is acting out this evil above ground, in plain sight for all who are courageous enough to look.

Impeaching Bush and Co. ultimately won’t change anything unless we deal with the corrupt powers which control and direct them. George Bush is just a finger-puppet of the hidden hand which animates him. Bush only has apparent power, as he himself is a minion of far more powerful predator-like forces whose nefarious interests he serves. Whether we call it the illuminati, the global elite, a shadow government, or a secret cabal, there is no doubt that there are darker, self-serving forces that have insinuated themselves into and taken over our government. The terrorists that we should be worried about are domestic terrorists who are actually implementing their agendas from deep within our very system of government itself.


 09:25 PM - link

holy crap!

Museum's broken treasure not just any old shit

The Lloyds Bank turd (not to scale).

The Viking who lay it down probably gave his faeces little thought but more than a millennium later it was, in its hardened form, a York museum's most treasured excrement.

School parties visiting the Archaeological Resource Centre would admire the artefact in a way that only children could. And all was well until two weeks ago when its display stand collapsed in the hands of an unfortunate teacher and, crashing to the floor, the rock-like lump broke into three pieces.

A reconstruction job is now under way to glue the Viking faeces back together again. Named the Lloyds Bank Turd after its discovery on a 1972 dig on the land now occupied by a Lloyds TSB bank in York, it is considered to be the largest complete example of preserved human excrement ever found.


  thanks to dangerousmeta!

 09:15 PM - link

the middle east clusterfuck

The Battle of Gaza

The defeat in Gaza is just the latest of Washington’s debacles in the Middle East. US-Israeli failures in the territories are the result of a misguided policy which is backfiring everywhere. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh summed up the present policy like this: "We're in the business of creating ... sectarian violence."

Hersh is right. Bush and Olmert are using the familiar “divide and conquer” strategy to provoke “Arab on Arab” violence. The policy is an extension of Henry Kissinger’s dictum during the Iran-Iraq war: “I hope they all kill each other”. The goal is the same today as it was then.

Hersh says that the Bush administration supported the group of Sunni extremists, Fatah al-Islam, who are still battling the Lebanese Army in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp. He said that it is "a covert program we joined in with the Saudis as part of a bigger, broader program of doing everything we could to stop the spread of the Shiite world".

In Lebanon, as in Gaza Strip, the “divide and conquer” strategy has produced appalling results---forcing 30,000 poor Palestinians to flee their homes and search for shelter.

This week’s bombing of the minarets at the Golden Dome Mosque is another example of the Bush Doctrine at work. Bush and his generals assure us that Al Qaeda was responsible, but reports from the New York Times tell a different story.

Here’s an excerpt from an article by Graham Bowley “Minarets on Shiites Shrine in Iraq Destroyed in Attack” (NY Times) which gives us a good idea of what really happened in Samarra. Bowley says:

“Since the attack in 2006, the shrine had been under the protection of local — predominantly Sunni — guards. But American military and Iraqi security officials had recently become concerned that the local unit had been infiltrated by Al Qaeda forces in Iraq. A move by the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad over the last few days to bring in a new guard unit — predominantly Shiite — may have been linked to the attack today.”

No reference is made to the sudden and unexplained changing of the guards at the mosque in future accounts in the mainstream press. And, yet, that is the most important point. The minarets were blown up just days after the new guards took charge. They cordoned off the area, placed snipers on the surrounding rooftops, and then blew up the minarets in broad daylight.

The first explosion took place at 9:30 AM. Ten minutes later the second bomb was detonated.

Al Qaeda?

Not likely.


 09:15 PM - link


Georg Parthen


  thanks to Conscientious

 09:04 PM - link


General Taguba wrote the Army report on the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Seymour M. Hersh talked to the General. This is a must read.

The General’s Report
How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties.
by Seymour M. Hersh

“They always shoot the messenger,” Taguba told me. “To be accused of being overzealous and disloyal—that cuts deep into me. I was being ostracized for doing what I was asked to do.”

Taguba went on, “There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff”—the explicit images—“was gravitating upward. It was standard operating procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to be aware of this.” He said that Rumsfeld, his senior aides, and the high-ranking generals and admirals who stood with him as he misrepresented what he knew about Abu Ghraib had failed the nation.

“From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”


  thanks to Huffington Post

US signals permanent stay in Iraq
Critics say a long-term US military presence may provoke greater Iraqi resistance of the 'occupier.'

This spring's debate over a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq may have implied that the US presence there is likely to wind down soon, but recent comments from both the administration and military officials suggest a different scenario.


US Military Riding the
Perfect (Sine) Wave

Looking idly at the front page of last Wednesday's Washington Post Express as I rode the Metro to work, I received a shock. It showed a railroad station in Iraq, recently destroyed by an American air strike. So now we are bombing the railroad stations in a country we occupy? What comes next, bombing Iraq's power plants and oil refineries? How about the Green Zone? If the Iraqi parliament doesn't pass the legislation we want it to, we can always lay a couple of JDAMs on it.


Iraq: Isolate, Concentrate, Annihilate

The classic anti-insurgency strategy is isolate, concentrate, annihilate. Isolate the guerillas from the population, concentrate them, once they're concentrated, annihilate them.

But there's another type of isolation, concentration and annihilation, and as GorillasGuides points out, it's going on in Iraq today, as the guerillas blow bridge after bridge...


The Siege of Baghdad

The on going political battle over Bushes insane surge, like Custer wishing for ten more men or Westmoreland’s asking for 500,000 more. It belies someone’s ignorance and inability to understand tactic’s and by thinking that what is needed is just more warm bodies to storm the enemy trenches they create a recipe for a blood bath and the certainty of defeat in Iraq.

The siege strategy was used during the crusades against the middle-aged castles of Acre the ultimate irony is the insurgencies battle plan was once used by Saladin the great, it was used by the Russians at Stalingrad and by McArthur in the South Pacific and by the Afghans against the Russians etc. You isolate your enemy and cut him off from resupply or make resupply so difficult that he has to use a disproportionate amount of troops to guaranty his supply lines.

The American forces in Baghdad’s Green zone have no airstrip and are fourteen miles from the airport through Baghdad’s winding ancient narrow roads. General Von Paulus in Stalingrad was promised the Lufftewaffe would keep him supplied but it was an idle boast. The Americans have a more powerful air force to be sure but also a greater dependence on fuel and commodities. The high tech war machine like all war machines is only as good as it’s supply and there is another possibility to consider.

Suspected Sunni insurgents bombed and badly damaged a span over the main north-south highway leading from Baghdad on Tuesday - the third bridge attack in as many days. The attack occurred 35 miles south of Baghdad and just six miles south of a bridge brought down on Sunday by what was believed to be a suicide truck bomber.


Post-traumatic Iraq syndrome
The war is lost. Americans should begin to deal with what that means.

The endgame in Iraq is now clear, in outline if not detail, and it appears that the heavily favored United States will be upset. Once support for a war is lost, it is gone for good; there is no example of a modern democracy having changed its mind once it turned against a war. So we ought to start coming to grips with the meaning of losing in Iraq.


 09:02 PM - link


Grace Weston


  thanks to Neatorama

 08:27 PM - link


America's Bad Deal With Musharraf, Going Down in Flames

Pakistan is on the brink of disaster, and the Bush administration is continuing to back the man who dragged it there. As President Pervez Musharraf fights off the most serious challenge to his eight-year dictatorship, the United States is supporting him to the hilt. The message to the Pakistani public is clear: To the Bush White House, the war on terrorism tops everything, and that includes democracy.

The crisis began on March 9, when Musharraf suspended Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, the chief justice of the supreme court, who bravely threatened Musharraf's plans to consolidate his power. That triggered street protests demanding Musharraf's resignation, which were met by a government-led crackdown on lawyers, the opposition and the media. Thousands of lawyers nationwide, looking like penguins in their courtroom black suits and white shirts, braved police batons and the heat to lead marches. They were joined by women's groups, journalists and the opposition. For the first time in two decades, Pakistan's civil society has taken to the streets.

The roots of the crisis go back to the blind bargain Washington made after 9/11 with the regime that had heretofore been the Taliban's main patron: ignoring Musharraf's despotism in return for his promises to crack down on al-Qaeda and cut the Taliban loose. Today, despite $10 billion in U.S. aid to Pakistan since 2001, that bargain is in tatters; the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda's senior leadership has set up another haven inside Pakistan's chaotic border regions.

The problem is exacerbated by a dramatic drop-off in U.S. expertise on Pakistan. Retired American officials say that, for the first time in U.S. history, nobody with serious Pakistan experience is working in the South Asia bureau of the State Department, on State's policy planning staff, on the National Security Council staff or even in Vice President Cheney's office. Anne W. Patterson, the new U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, is an expert on Latin American "drugs and thugs"; Richard A. Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, is a former department spokesman who served three tours in Hong Kong and China but never was posted in South Asia. "They know nothing of Pakistan," a former senior U.S. diplomat said.


 08:14 PM - link

book recommendation

The Alienist:
A Novel

by Caleb Carr

Sometimes I need to read something that doesn't cause me to have to think too much. This has been on my reading list for some time and then I was leaving the library one day and there it was on display. It's a historical detective novel set in New York City in 1896. I'm a sucker for late 19th century New York and this book does not dissapoint. A page turner, as they say. Here are a couple of reviews that give more detail.

The Alienist

Caleb Carr - The Alienist

 08:06 PM - link


Like with anything that Bush does, you wonder how bad can he and his minions screw things up. Apparently there is no end to it. Bush natters on about democracy but democracy to him means electing someone the US controls. The Palestinians didn't follow the Bush plan. Now we have the US papers talking about a coup when Hamas overthrew Fatah but Hamas was the elected government. Things just get stranger and stranger. And more people die.

Gaza: Another Mess Made in U.S.

Coming, as he does, from Fox News, Tony Snow is obviously a deeply cynical fellow, but this takes some beating: Asked to comment Wednesday on the bloodbath in Gaza, he answered: “Ultimately, the Palestinians are going to have to sort out their politics and figure out which pathway they want to pursue — the pathway toward two states living peaceably side-by-side, or whether this sort of chaos is going to become a problem.”

Everyone following the conflict in Gaza knows full well that the reason for the violence is not that Palestinians have not “sorted out their politics” — they’ve made their political preferences abundantly clear in democratic elections, and later in a power-sharing agreement brokered by the Saudis. The problem is that the U.S. and the corrupt and self-serving warlords of Fatah did not accept either the election result or the unity government, and have conspired actively ever since to reverse both by all available means, including starving the Palestinian economy of funds, refusing to hand over power over the Palestinian Authority to the elected government, and arming and training Fatah loyalists to militarily restore their party’s power. Unfortunately, after three days of some of the most savage fighting ever seen in Gaza, that strategy now lies in tatters. Fatah is, quite simply, no longer a credible fighting force in Gaza, where it has long been in decline as a credible political force.


The 8 Fallacies of Bush’s Abbastan Plan

“Hello, Condoleezza Rice,” the Hamas gunman joked, speaking into the President Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen)’s phone from the Palestinian Authority president’s chair in his abandoned Gaza office. “You have to deal with me now, there is no Abu Mazen anymore.”

Never a truer word spoken in jest, and all that…

But the Bush administration doesn’t get the joke. Bush and Condi would now have us believe that in fact some kind of opportunity has arisen to promote “peace” between Israel and the Palestinians by starving the Gazans and ignoring the political party in which Palestinian voters placed their confidence 18 months ago, while pumping cash into a new authoritarian regime under U.S. tutelage headed by Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. The Administration has “no good options”, the New York Times tells us, although the truth is that’s only if you accept the limits set by the Administration’s extremists who have ruled out the obvious option — talking to Hamas. (Gasp!) Spare me the adolescent rubbish about not being able to talk to people who don’t recognize Israel — Mahmoud Abbas’s own Fatah movement only did so in 1998, five years after the Oslo Accords were concluded. (The U.S.-backed Iraqi government, by the way, is led by a coalition whose basic political platform includes non-recognition of Israel.) Hamas has made clear ever since winning the election that it wants to engage with the West, most recently in a New York Times op-ed from a key adviser to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. It is the U.S. that has — to the point of criminal irresponsibility — refused to consider it.

Veterans of the peace process, such as Rob Malley and Aaron David Miller, simply roll their eyeballs at the Bush administration’s apparently bottomless capacity to believe its own delusions despite all countervailing evidence.

But Paul Woodward makes a persuasive case that this was not merely an ad hoc response — the rapidity with which the new policy fell into place was a sure sign that it follows a script long in the making in the White House Mideast policy shop of Elliot Abrams, seasoned veteran of Reagan’s Dirty Wars in Latin America during the 1980s.


Israel plans attack on Gaza

ISRAEL’s new defence minister Ehud Barak is planning an attack on Gaza within weeks to crush the Hamas militants who have seized power there.

According to senior Israeli military sources, the plan calls for 20,000 troops to destroy much of Hamas’s military capability in days.

The raid would be triggered by Hamas rocket attacks against Israel or a resumption of suicide bombings.

Barak, who is expected to become defence minister tomorrow, has already demanded detailed plans to deploy two armoured divisions and an infantry division, accompanied by assault drones and F-16 jets, against Hamas.


Sailing to Gaza
An Interview with Greta Berlin-

Greta Berlin, 66 years old, is a businesswoman from Los Angeles, CA. She is the mother of two Palestinian-American children and has been to the occupied territories twice in the past four years with the International Solidarity Movement. She is also a member of Women in Black Los Angeles.

She is one of many other people, who have organized an unusual project, sailing a boat to Gaza. They intend to challenge Israel's claim that they no longer occupy Gaza. Talking to her, she explains why she and the other courageous people are going.

Silvia: Your mission states," We tried to enter Palestine by ground. We tried to enter by air. Now we are going to go by sea."1 This is an exceptional attempt. Why Gaza in particular? And why go by boat in one of the most patrolled places in the world?

Greta Berlin: Israel says that Gaza is no longer occupied. Well, if that's true, then we have every right to visit. The truth is that Israel controls every entrance into Gaza, and the population is completely isolated from the rest of the world. Internationals can no longer go through the border with Egypt, and, of course, the Eretz border with Israel is closed to almost everyone.

So, 50 to 80 of us, men and women, will begin our journey in Cyprus toward the end of this summer. Many of us are over 50, and we come from all over the world Palestinians, Israelis, Australians, Greeks, Americans, English, Spanish, Italians, just to name a few we will embark on a boat called FREE GAZA. One of the passengers, Hedy Epstein, is a holocaust survivor, and two or three Palestinians are Nakba survivors.

Many of us have also been stopped from entering the occupied territories, because we have gone before to non-violently bear witness to what Israel does to the Palestinians.


Breaking the siege

We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right to welcome internationals as visitors, human rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, or otherwise.


"I Was Not Prepared for the Horrors I Saw"
An Interview with Hedy Epstein

Hedy Epstein, 82, was born in Germany in 1924(1). She was the only child of parents who died in the Nazi extermination camps. She is a tireless worker for human rights and for the dignity of all people.

Hedy decided to visit Palestine in 2003. She returned terribly shocked with what she had seen there, women and children defenceless, Palestinians locked up into ghettos, an entire people brutalized.

She had learned to love the people that she met, and was determined to tell the world of the injustices she had seen. Palestinians were being dispossessed of their land, removed from the homes that they had lived in for centuries. Nothing that anyone has done, no protests that have been made, has made Israel stop its treatment of the Palestinians. In fact, it has become worse every time Hedy has returned.

So,she is joining other human rights advocates who are sailing to Gaza on the boat, FREE GAZA to demand justice for the Palestinians, and a correction of 60 years of oppression by the Israelis.


40 Bad Years
The Rot of Occupation
by Uri Avnery

 01:14 PM - link

  Wednesday   June 20   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Clearance 11' 2" — at McQueen's, Freeland

gordy's image archive index

 11:24 PM - link


James Whitlow Delano: Taming the Yellow Dragon

The Chinese call it Taming the Yellow Dragon. It is a battle to halt irresistible yellow Gobi Desert sands that are advancing, filtering into and burying villages.

Fifty years ago, this was a grassland. Since Mao's destructive development policies known as the Great Leap Forward (1958-1963), Tengger Desert sand mountains 100m (328 ft.) or higher have swallowed grasslands, lakes and farms. The sand's advance at this point seems unstoppable. Inner Mongolia, China.


 11:16 PM - link


Putin’s Censored Press Conference:
The transcript you weren’t supposed to see

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an hour and a half-long press conference which was attended by many members of the world media. The contents of that meeting---in which Putin answered all questions concerning nuclear proliferation, human rights, Kosovo, democracy and the present confrontation with the United States over missile defense in Europe---have been completely censored by the press. Apart from one brief excerpt which appeared in a Washington Post editorial, (and which was used to criticize Putin) the press conference has been scrubbed from the public record. It never happened. (Read the entire press conference archived here )

Putin’s performance was a tour de force. He fielded all of the questions however misleading or insulting. He was candid and statesmanlike and demonstrated a good understanding of all the main issues.

The meeting gave Putin a chance to give his side of the story in the growing debate over missile defense in Eastern Europe. He offered a brief account of the deteriorating state of US-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War, and particularly from 9-11 to present. Since September 11, the Bush administration has carried out an aggressive strategy to surround Russia with military bases, install missiles on its borders, topple allied regimes in Central Asia, and incite political upheaval in Moscow through US-backed “pro-democracy” groups. These openly hostile actions have convinced many Russian hard-liners that the administration is going forward with the neocon plan for “regime change” in Moscow and fragmentation of the Russian Federation. Putin’s testimony suggests that the hardliners are probably right.

The Bush administration’s belligerent foreign policy has backed the Kremlin into a corner and forced Putin to take retaliatory measures. He has no other choice.


 11:14 PM - link

book recommendation

A Certain Style

by Kyoichi Tsuzuki

It's always nice to see how others live. It's a small cramped book with lots of interior shots of small cramped rooms. Wonderful. And I thought I had a lot of stuff. I need to get to work. Here is the review that turned me on to this book:

Tokyo: a certain style. By Kyoichi Tsuzuki - a review

This is a small format, 400 plus pages long, colour documentary of the inside of lots of apartments in Tokyo. Real apartments. From the small to the tiny. Not luxury and certainly not Hollywood.


And another review:

Tokyo: A Certain Style

It might not seem like it at first glance, but it takes a certain flair to decorate one's living space. This is even truer in cramped Tokyo apartments, where space comes at a premium price. With this in mind, Kyoichi Tsuzuki put together Tokyo: A Certain Style, "the perfect coffee table book for people with really small apartments." The book is an enormously tiny album of Tokyo abodes; it clocks in at eight inches tall, but packs in more than 400 photographs. The subject matter includes apartments, flats and houses in Tokyo, lived in by a staggering array of people: students, artisans, professionals, and others. Perhaps rooms are not quite compelling of a subject matter as the latest demon-slaying manga, but Tsuzuki's book is quite charming.


And I found a site which has most of the book online, but I definitely prefer reading the dead tree version.

Tokyo: a certain style

Ah, think of the serene gardens, tatami mats, Zen-inspired decor, sliding doors, and shoji screens of the typical Japanese home. Think again. "Tokyo: A Certain Style," the mini-sized decor book with a difference, shows how, for those living in one of the world's most expensive and densely packed metropolises, closet-sized apartments stacked to the ceiling with gadgetry and CDs are the norm. Photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki rode his scooter all over Tokyo snapping shots of how urban Japanese really live. Hundreds of photographs reveal the real Tokyo style: microapartments, mini and modular everything, rooms filled to the rafters with electronics, piles of books and clothes, clans of remote controls, collections of sundry objets all crammed into a space where every inch counts. Tsuzuki introduces each tiny crash pad with a brief text about who lives there, from artists and students to professionals and couples with children. His entertaining captions to the hundreds of photographs capture the spirit and ingenuity required to live in such small quarters. This fascinating, voyeuristic look at modern life comes in a chunky, pocket-sized format-the perfect coffee table book for people with really small apartments.


 11:09 PM - link


Both Ways

It seems to me you can call the situation in Iraq a lot of things, but it's not a war. Not at this point, anyway. Call it an unsuccessful nation-building project, a failed occupation, a botched policing job, a monkey-in-the-middle clusterfuck. All the US political factions, from left to right, do the public a disservice by calling it a war, because it misrepresents what we're doing there.

We're involved in Iraq because we don't want to begin thinking about modifying our behavior at home. We are desperate to preserve our access to Middle East oil because that is the only way we can keep running our society the way we're used to running it. Mostly, we don't want to face the tragic misinvestments we've made in the infrastructure of happy motoring, and we don't want to face the inconvenient truth that there really isn't any combination of alt.fuels that will permit us to keep running all the cars the way we like to run them. Either we keep getting the oil or say goodbye to the American Dream Version 2.K.

The public has now decided that this nation's primary mission is to find some magic way to keep the cars running on a fuel other than gasoline. Everyone from the greenest greenies to the most medieval-minded Kansas Republican senator has joined in this collective wish. They are certain to be disappointed. All the Priuses in the world will not avail to save the Drive-In Utopia. The public will learn painfully what Iraq is all about.


World oil supplies are set to run out faster than expected, warn scientists

Scientists have criticised a major review of the world's remaining oil reserves, warning that the end of oil is coming sooner than governments and oil companies are prepared to admit.


  thanks to Drudge Report

The Pentagon v. Peak Oil
How Wars of the Future May Be Fought Just to Run the Machines That Fight Them

Sixteen gallons of oil. That's how much the average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis -- either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes. Multiply this figure by 162,000 soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region (including sailors aboard U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf) and you arrive at approximately 3.5 million gallons of oil: the daily petroleum tab for U.S. combat operations in the Middle East war zone.

Multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 1.3 billion gallons: the estimated annual oil expenditure for U.S. combat operations in Southwest Asia. That's greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh, population 150 million -- and yet it's a gross underestimate of the Pentagon's wartime consumption.

Such numbers cannot do full justice to the extraordinary gas-guzzling expense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, for every soldier stationed "in theater," there are two more in transit, in training, or otherwise in line for eventual deployment to the war zone -- soldiers who also consume enormous amounts of oil, even if less than their compatriots overseas. Moreover, to sustain an "expeditionary" army located halfway around the world, the Department of Defense must move millions of tons of arms, ammunition, food, fuel, and equipment every year by plane or ship, consuming additional tanker-loads of petroleum. Add this to the tally and the Pentagon's war-related oil budget jumps appreciably, though exactly how much we have no real way of knowing.

And foreign wars, sad to say, account for but a small fraction of the Pentagon's total petroleum consumption. Possessing the world's largest fleet of modern aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks, armored vehicles, and support systems -- virtually all powered by oil -- the Department of Defense (DoD) is, in fact, the world's leading consumer of petroleum. It can be difficult to obtain precise details on the DoD's daily oil hit, but an April 2007 report by a defense contractor, LMI Government Consulting, suggests that the Pentagon might consume as much as 340,000 barrels (14 million gallons) every day. This is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland.


Come on in - the quicksand's fine: my part in the energy crisis

For example, if we wish to boost nuclear power in the teeth of dwindling liquid fuel supplies, we will discover that the "cost" of plant, mining, processing and other infrastructure will become uncomfortably high by present expectations. The more we try (and the more gasoline and diesel we burn in the process) the higher will go the "price" of the essential ingredients. It will be like chasing our own shadows. The same effect will plague the remnants of the oil industry itself.


 09:20 AM - link

big dicks

In Ducks, War of the Sexes Plays Out in the Evolution of Genitalia

“This guy’s the champion,” said Patricia Brennan, a behavioral ecologist, leaning over the nether regions of a duck — a Meller’s duck from Madagascar, to be specific — and carefully coaxing out his phallus.

The duck was quietly resting upside-down against the stomach of Ian Gereg, an aviculturist here at the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Sanctuary. Dr. Brennan, a post-doctoral researcher at Yale University and the University of Sheffield, visits the sanctuary every two weeks to measure the phalluses of six species of ducks.

When she first visited in January, the phalluses were the size of rice grains. Now many of them are growing rapidly. The champion phallus from this Meller’s duck is a long, spiraling tentacle. Some ducks grow phalluses as long as their entire body. In the fall, the genitalia will disappear, only to reappear next spring.


 09:03 AM - link


Losing the Economy to Mythology
How Offsourcing Undermines America

Economic discussion in the United States is trapped in ancient ruts. Both right and left are stuck in old habitual ways of thinking. Neither shows inclination or ability to think independently of ideology. For a country beset with economic problems, this is problematic.

The ascendency of free market economics during the past quarter century has removed some constraints on corporate power. It is difficult to argue that this is a desirable result. For example, the concentration of media ownership permitted by the Clinton administration in the 1990s has destroyed the independence of the US media, thus reducing the accountability of government. Deregulation has had unintended consequences. The growth of corporate influence has facilitated the reach of special interests into universities and think tanks and turned some from pursuit of truth to "for-profit activities" that compromise the independence of studies and publications.

The left-wing, which refuses to accept that the Great Depression was caused by the Federal Reserve's mistaken monetary policy and still blames corporate power and greed for the 1930s decade of high unemployment, is disturbed at the loosening of the leash on corporate power. Generally speaking, the left blames President Reagan for boosting corporate power by cutting taxes and for spear-heading union-busting by firing the striking air controllers.


 09:04 AM - link


Robert D. Phillips photography


 08:59 AM - link

global climate change

Confronting the Climate Change Crisis
Politicians and oil companies are jumping on the green bandwagon, but they have no solutions to a crisis that is rooted in capitalism

This month, we’ve been treated to the bizarre spectacle of George Bush and Stephen Harper each declaring their deep concern about "the serious challenge of global climate change." The U.S. president and Canada’s prime minister, both long-time opponents of any action to limit greenhouse gases, now want us to believe that saving the environment has become a top priority of their governments.

Truly, the hypocrisy of capitalist politicians knows no bounds!

They and their corporate masters want to avoid action on climate change, and they have been doing just that for years. Their eagerness to clothe themselves in inappropriate green has everything to do with public relations — and nothing to do with saving the earth.


  thanks to Politics in the Zeros

 08:54 AM - link


Fast Food: Ads vs. Reality

Each item was purchased, taken home, and photographed immediately. Nothing was tampered with, run over by a car, or anything of the sort. It is an accurate representation in every case. Shiny, neon-orange, liquefied pump-cheese, and all.

McDonald's Sausage Breakfast Burrito


  thanks to Neatorama

 08:51 AM - link


I think I may have heard the term before but it was only a name. A recent discussion with a client made it sound interesting. Here are some links. Something to think about.


Permaculture is both a philosophy or lifestyle ethic as well as a design system which utilizes a systems thinking approach to create sustainable human habitats by analyzing and duplicating nature's patterns (ecology).

The word "permaculture," coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren during the 1970s, is a Portmanteau-style contraction of permanent agriculture as well as permanent culture. Renowned environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki has stated: "What permaculturists are doing is the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet."

Today, permaculture can be described as a 'moral and ethical design system for the survival of people and their environment'. It seeks the creation of productive and sustainable ways of living by integrating ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture, agroforestry, green or ecological economics, and social systems. The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships created among them by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts. Permaculture is also about careful and contemplative observation of nature and natural systems, and of recognizing universal patterns and principles, then learning to apply these ‘ecological truisms’ to one’s own circumstances in all realms of human activity.


Introduction to Permaculture:
Concepts and Resources

The word "permaculture" was coined in 1978 by Bill Mollison, an Australian ecologist, and one of his students, David Holmgren. It is a contraction of "permanent agriculture" or "permanent culture."

Permaculture is about designing ecological human habitats and food production systems. It is a land use and community building movement which strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive communities. The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships created among them by the way we place them in the landscape. This synergy is further enhanced by mimicking patterns found in nature.


Permaculture:Design For Living
Permaculture is more than a new way of gardening -
it's a sustainable way to live on planet Earth
an Interview with Bill Mollison, by Alan AtKisson

There is a magazine:

Solutions For Sustainable Living

There are a couple of Permaculture organizations near me:

Bullock's Permaculture Homestead

Seattle Permaculture Guild

 08:40 AM - link

  Tuesday   June 19   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Oil — at McQueen's, Freeland

gordy's image archive index

 11:20 PM - link

  Monday   June 18   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Red and green — next to McQueen's, Freeland

gordy's image archive index

 11:54 PM - link

  Sunday   June 17   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Flag and windshield wiper — McQueen's, Freeland

gordy's image archive index

 11:51 PM - link


It's been a very busy week with work and getting ready for a busy weekend. Thursday I had to go up to Anacortes to see an insurance adjustor about a dent in a door. Friday morning I went down to an open house for my grandson Mike's first grade class. An end of the year thing. He showed off what he had been doing and read a poem.

Then it was up to Oak Harbor Friday afternoon to take Zoe to a hair appointment and run errands. I got some shots in around the neighborhood while I was waiting. They will show up soon. Then it was back down south to the Greenbank Farm. We were to meet Don. Part of the busy week was getting the house cleaned up since Don was going to be a house guest Friday night. Greenbank Farm was hosting a car show on Saturday and Don was going to be there with his booth selling his vintage drag racing photos. He wanted to set up Friday evening. We were late getting to the farm, 7pm, but we still beat Don by 2 minutes. He got held up in the Friday night ferry line. I helped Don unload his truck (pictures by Zoe.)

Then we headed home. Don had lent me his Nikon F3 HP with a 35mm/f2 lens and a 105mm/f2.5 lens three weeks ago. When we got home Don unpacked some other treasures to go along with the F3. First was a 55mm/f3.5 Micro-Nikkor. It will focus down to 9 1/2". He also brought an extension ring for it so that it will focus even closer. I'm looking forward to using this lens. It's an older non-AI lens so I will have to use stop down metering or, perish the thought, a hand held meter. The second treasure was a surprise. It was an Nikkor 85mm/f2. A fast 85mm lens, but that wasn't the half of it. He had a Harrison & Harrison diffusion filter on it used for portraits. I had never heard of these. Harrison & Harrison makes filters for the movie industry. Apparently these diffusion filters work a little bit different that most. It doesn't turn everything soft, it combines a sharp image with a diffused image. Not well known and very expensive. A set of three is almost $300. Don has a set of 5. They go from lightlly diffused to heavily diffused. Diffusion also varies by f stop. I've been wanting to do some soft focus portraits and these will be perfect. They are Series VIII filters and I found an adapter for the 90mm lens on my medium format Salut-S for $10. The adaptor on the Nikkor 85 also fits on my digital Pentax DSLR lens. Diffusion testing will ensue. Then he unloaded the Nikkor 200mm/f4 and a Tamron 500mm/f8 mirror lens. Where to begin? Zoe was tired by this time so Don and I went down to China City for Chinese food. Don was up early Saturday morning to set up his booth.

I spent some time Saturday morning at the car show talking to Don and taking pictures. (The pictures will show up after the Oak Harbor pictures.) My son Robby and daughter Katie (Mike's mom) were coming over for a early Father's Day barbecue Saturday afternoon but Robby had to back out because of a pulled chest muscle that was bothering him. Katie and Mike showed up and Zoe and I joined them for dinner at Mike's Place. Zoe asked Katie and me to pretend we loved one another and took this series.

A good time was had by all. Regular programming will resume shortly.

 03:17 AM - link