Weblog Archives




  Saturday   June 24   2006


I don't know how long this video will be up but enjoy it while you can. Be sure those speakers are on!

Discover Honda's Impossible Dreams


  thanks to Coudal Partners

 08:48 PM - link


The Long Suck

I have a ton of charts on my hard drive, and I have reviewed many many more, but this is my favourite chart of all time (yeah, as Hale Stewart would say, how lame is it that I have a “favourite chart”).

The chart shows wages for non-supervisory, goods producing, hourly employees from 1947 to today. It shows, graphically, a point I think needs to be hammered home – you can’t talk about the “post war economy”, as if there is only one. There were two, and the first one ended sometime in the seventies.


 08:43 PM - link

bird brains

Black Sun in Denmark

During spring in Denmark, at approximately one half an hour before sunset, flocks of more than a million European starlings (sturnus vulgaris) gather from all corners to join in the incredible formations shown above. This phenomenon is called Black Sun (in Denmark), and can be witnessed in early spring throughout the marshlands of western Denmark, from March through to the middle of April. The starlings migrate from the south and spend the day in the meadows gathering food, sleeping in the reeds during the night. The best place to view this amazing aerial dance is in the place called "Tøndermarsken," where these pictures were taken (on April 5 from 19.30 to 20.30 local time).


  thanks to Coudal Partners

 08:37 PM - link

class war

A Guided Tour of Class in America
A Tomdispatch Interview with Barbara Ehrenreich

Tomdispatch: You were at a graduation ceremony recently where the students were bouncing beach balls in the stands. The college president leaned over and whispered, "This is the problem with having the commencement in the afternoon. Some of these people have been partying for hours." In response, you wrote: "There are reasons, whether the graduates know them or not, to want to greet one's entrance into the work world with an excess of Bud." Could you start by explaining why an excess of Bud might be an appropriate response to leaving college today?

Barbara Ehrenreich: Well, a lot of graduates are simply not going to find jobs appropriate to their credentials. They're going to be wait staff. They're going to be call-center operators. Their twenties could be spent like that. I recently got Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute to do some research on this. It's still tentative, but he found that 17% of people in jobs that do not require college degrees have them. Those are very often people in their twenties who can't get professional-type employment, or people in their fifties who have been through one too many lay-off and are no longer employable because they're quote too old. So I was thinking of that, and then I was thinking that for a lot of those who do get jobs, you know, the fun is over. They're going to be sitting in cubicles and they won't be able to bounce balls around when they're in boring meetings with their bosses.


 08:31 PM - link

poster art

More commie posters.



  thanks to Coudal Partners

 08:27 PM - link

global climate change

Here are a couple of things that we take so much for granted that have an effect on global warming. Think about how we could do without them.

Airlines Must Lose Their Right to Pollute the Skies
We must reduce aviation's expansion or give up on tackling climate change

Despite the Mediterranean weather we've been enjoying, the annual exodus to even sunnier climates - much of it by plane - is almost upon us. Our love affair with flying is fuelling phenomenal growth in the airlines' activities: flight numbers are projected to double by 2020 and triple by 2030. But it is also driving phenomenal growth in the airlines' greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore their contribution to devastating climate change.

According to scientists at the Tyndall Centre, one of the UK's foremost climate change institutes, aviation's emissions are growing so fast that they will gobble up all reductions from every other sector if they are left unchecked.

Yes, think about that again. Unless the airlines cut their emissions significantly in coming decades, we won't be able to emit any other CO2s; not from manufacturing, travelling by other means, heating our homes, building - nothing - if we want to meet our targets and stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels.


Air Conditioning: Our Cross to Bear
Those air conditioners that keep things cool and comfortable inside are helping make the outside world even nastier.

When it's hot and humid out and the air conditioner's not running, America suffers. Babies break out in rashes, couples bicker, computers go haywire. In much of the nation, an August power outage is viewed not as an inconvenience but as a public health emergency.

In the 50 years since air-conditioning hit the mass market, America has become so well-addicted that our dependence goes almost entirely unremarked. A/C is built into our economy and our culture. Stepping from a torrid parking lot into a 72-degree, air-conditioned lobby can provide a degree of instantaneous relief and physical pleasure experienced through few other legal means. But if the effect of air-conditioning on a hot human being can be compared to that of a pain-relieving drug, its economic impact is more like that of an anabolic steroid. And withdrawal, when it comes, will be painful.


 08:14 PM - link

postcard art

Staten Island in Vintage Postcards
768 postcards depicting the buildings, scenery, and daily life of Staten Island from the late 19th-century until well into the 20th-century.


  thanks to gmtPlus9

 08:08 PM - link


Eat the Press
An interview with foodie author Michael Pollan

Q. What's the most worrisome aspect of the current U.S. food system?

A. That's a tough one. But the thing that really struck me is just how much energy goes into the process. The most recent study I've seen, from the University of Michigan, says that 20 percent of our fossil-fuel consumption is going to feeding ourselves.

This happens at three different stages. One is on the farm, because we use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, which is made from natural gas and a great deal of electricity.

Then we take commodity crops, such as corn and soybeans and wheat, and we process them intensively, adding another seven calories of fossil-fuel energy for every one calorie of food. It's a very intensive process to take the corn and turn it into the high-fructose corn syrup, or take the corn and turn it into the chicken, and the chicken into the Chicken McNugget. As we move further away from eating food to eating highly processed, complicated food products -- as we move from yogurt to Go-GURT -- it takes more energy, and more energy in the packaging. We're putting a lot of time into redesigning our whole food supply so we can eat in the car. Nineteen percent of meals [and snacks in the U.S.] are eaten in the car right now.

And then we drive [the food] around the country, if not fly it around the world. You can get your organic asparagus from Argentina, you can get your grass-fed beef from New Zealand.

So given that our most serious environmental problem is global warming, I'd have to say the most serious problem with the food system is its contribution to global warming.


thanks to The Oil Drum

 08:01 PM - link


Extreme Instability


  thanks to Geisha asobi blog

 07:45 PM - link

  Thursday   June 22   2006

give us this day our daily photograph

Pulling away from the dock

gordy's image archive index

 10:11 PM - link

  Tuesday   June 20   2006

give us this day our daily photograph

Stike It Rich

gordy's image archive index

 10:03 AM - link

  Sunday   June 18   2006

give us this day our daily photograph

& Chowder

gordy's image archive index

 11:08 AM - link


American deaths in Iraq reach 2,500 mark

  thanks to Steve Gilliard's News Blog

I guess nothing more really needs to be said other than how long it will take to double that if we continue to stay.

by Riverbend

How do I feel? To hell with Zarqawi (or Zayrkawi as Bush calls him). He was an American creation- he came along with them- they don't need him anymore, apparently. His influence was greatly exaggerated but he was the justification for every single family they killed through military strikes and troops. It was WMD at first, then it was Saddam, then it was Zarqawi. Who will it be now? Who will be the new excuse for killing and detaining Iraqis? Or is it that an excuse is no longer needed- they have freedom to do what they want. The slaughter in Haditha months ago proved that. "They don't need him anymore," our elderly neighbor waved the news away like he was shooing flies, "They have fifty Zarqawis in government."


Entertainment News Tonight

The Pentagon Channel today announced the cancellation of its long-running reality TV series, The Abu Zarqawi Hour, saying tonight's special-effects extravaganza, in which Keifer Sutherland and a team of secret agents trail the terrorist mastermind to his hideout and call in a massive airstrike, would be the show's last.


Zarqawi's End is Not a Famous Victory
Death of a Jailbird
by Robert Fisk

So, it's another "mission accomplished". The man immortalised by the Americans as the most dangerous terrorist since the last most dangerous terrorist, is killed--by the Americans. A Jordanian corner-boy who could not even lock and load a machine gun is blown up by the US Air Force--and Messrs Bush and Blair see fit to boast of his demise. To this have our leaders descended. And how short are our memories.


The incredible shrinking U.S.
Despite the death of Zarqawi, Bush's huge gamble in Iraq has failed. As a result, the U.S. is weaker everywhere in the world -- and that's not all bad.
By Helena Cobban

Unfortunately for the dice-rollers, they miscalculated their chances of success. They were right about two things, though: the size of the stakes in Iraq and the strategic linkage they had asserted between the situation there and those other theaters around the world. So while it is perhaps possible that if they had "won" inside Iraq, that might indeed have strengthened their position in the other theaters, that proposition will never be tested. For instead of winning in Iraq, the Bushites are now -- as I and others had predicted all along -- losing there, very fast. Accordingly, in terms of Washington's relations with powers as disparate as the mullahs' Iran, Putin's Russia, the rising powers of China and India, or Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, we now see unfolding exactly the kind of erosion of U.S. power that the neocons once warned against.


Good God, What Have We Done to our Marines?

"Haditha was shockingly different - a feral place where the marines hardly washed; a number had abandoned the official living quarters to set up separate encampments with signs ordering outsiders to keep out; and a daily routine punctured by the emergency alarm of the dam itself with its antiquated and crumbling machinery."


I Was Stationed in Haditha

When I first got there in March of 2004, I lived on the seventh floor of ten. The first thing that would hit me when I arrived was the horrible smell. Something was leaking sulfur gas, and it smelled like rotten eggs. People with more knowledge about the subject than me said it was good that we could smell it. That meant the parts per million was so small that it wouldn't kill us. When the gas reached lethal levels, our olfactory senses would shut down long before the gas actually suffocated us. It made me glad they still forced us to carry our gas masks around.


US confronts brutal culture among its finest sons
In the wake of the Haditha massacre come further allegations of outlaw killings in Iraq. They add to growing unease about US military culture that fails to distinguish civilian from insurgent

American veterans of the war in Iraq have described a culture of casual violence, revenge and prejudice against Iraqi civilians that has made the killing of innocent bystanders a common occurrence.


Marine's wife paints portrait of US troops out of control in Haditha
· Unit accused of abusing drugs and alcohol
· Officers relieved of duty after killing of 24 Iraqis

The marine unit involved in the killing of Iraqi civilians in Haditha last November had suffered a "total breakdown" in discipline and had drug and alcohol problems, according to the wife of one of the battalion's staff sergeants.


When AWOL Is the Only Way Out
As explained in a new book, Mission Rejected, the sight of U.S. troops kicking the heads of decapitated Iraqis around 'like a soccer ball' made Army soldier Joshua Key desert to Canada.

Why read Clausewitz when Shock and Awe can make a clean sweep of things?

The events of 11 September 2001 killed thousands, left many thousands more bereft, and horrified countless millions who merely bore witness. But for a few, 9/11 suggested an opportunity. In the inner circles of the United States government men of ambition seized on that opportunity with alacrity. Far from fearing a ‘global war on terror’, they welcomed it, certain of their ability to bend war to their purposes. Although the ensuing conflict has not by any means run its course, we are now in a position to begin evaluating the results of their handiwork.


Field commanders tell Pentagon Iraq war 'is lost'

Military commanders in the field in Iraq admit in private reports to the Pentagon the war "is lost" and that the U.S. military is unable to stem the mounting violence killing 1,000 Iraqi civilians a month.


Other People's Blood

For the smug, comfortable, well-off Americans, it doesn't seem to matter how long the war in Iraq goes on - as long as the agony is endured by others. If the network coverage gets too grim, viewers can always switch to the E! channel (one hand on the remote, the other burrowing into a bag of chips) to follow the hilarious antics of Paris, Britney, Brangelina et al.


US 'planning to keep 50,000 troops in Iraq for many years'

America plans to retain a garrison of 50,000 troops, one tenth of its entire army, in Iraq for years to come, according to US media reports.


Nightmare Scenario

Is the badly outnumbered American expeditionary force in Iraq in trouble? Is it in danger of being trapped? With all our firepower, are we looking at the possibility of some kind of a military defeat?


Baghdad Bush

We can only guess whether Shrub's secret repeat visit to Iraq was dreamed up before the Abu Zarqawi Hour went off the air, as the White House claims, or whether the trip was actually thrown together on the fly in an effort to milk a little more free publicity from the final episode. Either way, the stunt revealed as much about the depleted state of the Cheney administration's bag of propaganda tricks as it did about the gang's determination to keep pouring blood and treasure into the world's largest hole in the desert.


Life in Baghdad

15(SBU) More recently, we have begun shredding documents which show local staff surnames. In March, a few staff members approached us to ask what provisionms would we make for them if we evacuate.


 11:03 AM - link

book recommendation

House Of War :
The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power

by James Carroll

The root cause for so much of what is screwed up in this country, and the world, can be attributed to the 800 pound gorilla that no one sees — the US military. This book can be added to the other two books that are essential reading on this subject: Blowback and Sorrows of Empire, both by Chalmers Johnson. From Amazon:

Carroll was born the same week in January, 1943, that the Pentagon was dedicated, the Manhattan Project got under way, and Roosevelt declared that the goal of the war was the enemy's "unconditional surrender." In this "biography" of the Pentagon, he extends these moments into a fuguelike history of American military power from Hiroshima to Iraq. The dominant theme is personal: growing up, Carroll, whose father, a general, worked in the Pentagon, saw the building both as his "twin" and as "a kind of dark woods." On the practical side, he argues that "in the nuclear age, civilian oversight of American military policy had become largely mythical," that the Pentagon had "Congress in its thrall and presidents at its mercy." And yet his most fascinating stories involve moments—as in the Berlin crisis and the Vietnam War—when civilians successfully opposed the Pentagon's monolithic power.

We have become a military with a country attached. Reading this book will piss you off when you understand how the military essentially manufactured the cold war in order to increase their budgets. And it hasn't slowed down. For some more flavor of James Carrol and the book:

House of War: James Carroll on the Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the history of the building?

JAMES CARROLL: I begin this work looking at the week it was dedicated, a week in January 1943. Four things that happened that week generating a momentum that we're still at the mercy of, I argue. One, at Casablanca, Franklin Roosevelt, really against the wishes of his partner, Winston Churchill, announced a new policy of unconditional surrender, the Axis powers had to unconditionally surrender to the Allies, a position that really would have disastrous consequences, especially in Japan in the late months of the war.

The second thing that happened that week was Los Alamos really was up and running – began to be up and running. The Manhattan Project had been initiated the previous autumn, but it really began right then.

The third thing that happened that week, Churchill and Roosevelt together agreed on a joint bomber offensive between the R.A.F. and the Army air forces of the United States. It was the beginning of the American embrace of strategic bombing as a mode of war. The first bombing attack by the Americans against a German city took place two weeks later.

So, strategic bombing, nuclear weapons, a spirit of total war embodied in unconditional surrender, all joined to the other thing that happened that week: the beginning of the building, this mass bureaucracy, which itself then would take on a kind of life that was beyond the ability of any one person or group of persons to check it. And the momentum that began that week really has flowed on essentially unchecked ever since, right through to the present catastrophe in Iraq.


 10:13 AM - link