Weblog Archives




  Saturday   August 13   2005

what a long stange trip it's been

I made my first post to this blog August 10, 2000. It's been five years!

 12:03 PM - link


Presidential Vacation Watch - Day 9

Bush Vacation Day: 9
American Soldiers Killed While Kickin' It in Crawford*: 37

Bush Days on Vacation Remaining: 25
Avg. American Vacation Days Remaining*: 4


Iraq: Bush's Islamic Republic

On June 4, Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq, attended the inauguration of the Kurdistan National Assembly in Erbil, northern Iraq. Talabani, a Kurd, is not only the first-ever democratically elected head of state in Iraq, but in a country that traces its history back to the Garden of Eden, he is, as one friend observed, "the first freely chosen leader of this land since Adam was here alone." While Kurds are enormously proud of his accomplishment, the flag of Iraq - the country Talabani heads - was noticeably absent from the inauguration ceremony, nor can it be found anyplace in Erbil, a city of one million that is the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan Region.

Ann Bodine, the head of the American embassy office in Kirkuk, spoke at the ceremony, congratulating the newly minted parliamentarians, and affirming the US commitment to an Iraq that is, she said, "democratic, federal, pluralistic, and united." The phrase evidently did not apply in Erbil. In their oath, the parliamentarians were asked to swear loyalty to the unity of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Many pointedly dropped the "of Iraq."

The shortest speech was given by the head of the Iranian intelligence service in Erbil, a man known to the Kurds as Agha Panayi. Staring directly at Ms. Bodine, he said simply, "This is a great day. Throughout Iraq, the people we supported are in power." He did not add "Thank you, George Bush." The unstated was understood.


  thanks to Ken Smith

Cindy Sheehan's vigal at the pig farm is focusing attention.

Of the Many Deaths in Iraq, One Mother's Loss Becomes a Problem for the President

President Bush draws antiwar protesters just about wherever he goes, but few generate the kind of attention that Cindy Sheehan has since she drove down the winding road toward his ranch here this weekend and sought to tell him face to face that he must pull all Americans troops out of Iraq now.


  thanks to Bad Attitudes

A few words about Cindy Sheehan

Why No Tea and Sympathy?

Local Women Join War Protester
They Say They'll Await Bush Meeting

Grieving mother’s war protest draws supporters
50 join woman who camps outside Bush’s ranch during his vacation

No End in Sight in Iraq

The news coming out of Iraq yesterday was that several more American soldiers had been killed. August's toll so far has been mind-numbing. For American troops, it's been one of the worst periods of the war. And yet there's still no sense of urgency within the Bush administration.

The president is on vacation. He's down at the ranch riding his bicycle and clearing brush. The death toll for Americans has streaked past the 1,800 mark. The Iraqi dead are counted by the tens of thousands. But if Mr. Bush has experienced any regret about the carnage he set in motion when he launched the war, he's not showing it.


Baghdad Putsch

If there were any doubt about whether Iraq is headed down the road to being a failed state, yesterday's deposing of the Mayor of Baghdad by the city council, backed by the military arm of the Shi'ite-controlled Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, should be the clincher. The prosecution can rest.


No clear finish line in Iraq
Timing is muddy for U.S. withdrawal

The Bush administration has sent seemingly conflicting signals in recent days over the duration of the U.S. deployment to Iraq, openly discussing contingency plans to withdraw as many as 30,000 of 138,000 troops by spring, then cautioning against expectations of any early pullout. Finally yesterday, President Bush dismissed talk of a drawdown as just "speculation and rumors" and warned against "withdrawing before the mission is complete."

If the public was left confused, it may be no more unsure than the administration itself, as some government officials involved in Iraq policy privately acknowledge.

Top Pentagon officials have made no secret in recent weeks of their eagerness to begin withdrawing some troops to ease the strain of lengthy deployments. At the same time, military commanders have cautioned against expecting that Iraq's new army and police forces will develop quickly enough to operate on their own within another year or two.

"It's a race against time because by the end of this coming summer we can no longer sustain the presence we have now," said retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who visited Iraq most recently in May and briefed Cheney, Rice and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "This thing, the wheels are coming off it."


 11:58 AM - link


Square America
A gallery of vintage snapshots & vernacular photography


  thanks to consumptive.org

 11:14 AM - link

another abomination brought to us by our fearful leaders

Just when you think things can't get any more surreal...

Is he fucking kidding?

Pentagon announces September 11 concert

The Pentagon would hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an announcement tucked into an Iraq war briefing today.

"This year the Department of Defence will initiate an America Supports Your Freedom Walk," Rumsfeld said, adding that the march would remind people of "the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation".

The march will start at the Pentagon, where nearly 200 people died on September 11, 2001, and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black.

What, it won't pass by Walter Reed, so the vets can hobble on their new legs along with the marchers? My God, are we not supposed to notice Cindy Sheehan sitting outside the Pig Farm, yet participate in something that would have shamed Francisco Franco?

These people idea of America is alien to what I was raised to believe. They think this is appropriate? The shitstorm which is coming their way will be quite impressive. And there will be one. Once the NY papers pick up on this, the screeching will be quite loud.

Disgusted isn't the word for this. Violated, maybe. Ashamed, another. Wow.

Oh yeah, Clint Black should roast in hell for participating in this monstrosity. Why not piss on some graves instead?


It's for real. The following site is not a parody. I wish it was.

Freedom Walk

A walk in the sun for dear leader

The Pentagon's "walk" (not "march") on Wx on 9/11 isn't just disgusting; it's an attempt to play on Americans' patriotism and fears for the benefit of the sinking Bush admin. It's a dangerous exercise in fascistic propaganda by our military in collusion w/ Bush that could sow seeds that split the country.

The Pentagon has no business calling out the citizens for a political event -- a "walk" into the nation's capital.

Let's get real about this event -- it's timing and character. It's intended to deflate what may be a huge anti-war march less than two weeks later in Wx that is being coordinated by United for Peace and Justice -- the org that produced an orderly million-person anti-Bush march thru the streets of Manhattan last year on the eve of the GOP convention. Grabbing "9/11" and telling the public to "support your troops" and "the commander in chief", the Pentagon's political rally is right out of the Nazi's fascist propaganda playbook.


 11:01 AM - link

wall art

The incredible Banksy strikes again.

Spray can prankster tackles Israel's security barrier

Israel describes it as a vital security barrier, while the UN says it's illegal. But as far as the guerrilla graffiti artist Banksy is concerned, the 425-mile long barrier that separates Israel from the Palestinian territories is a vast concrete canvas too tempting to resist.


Banksy at the West Bank barrier


  thanks to consumptive.org

Regular visits to Banksy's site are always rewarded: banksy.co.uk

 10:41 AM - link

Palestinians in Gaza (and Israelis)

Okay, yesterday I was complaining here that the US MSM hasn't paid much attention to the 1.38 PLaestinians of Gaza-- or to their 6-million-plus compatriots in other places-- amidst all the coverage of the "fate" of the handsomely compensated 8,500 Israeli settlers now being required to leave the Gaza Strip.

Today, Greg Myre of the NYT has a fairly well-done piece on the aspirations of the Gaza Palestinians. It is a good job, and very welcome. However, in general the amount of coverage that NYT has given over, say, the past two months to 8,500 people who've been enjoying a heavily subsidized lifestyle to live in colonies illegally established on land under military occupation versus that given to the territory's 1.39 million indigenous residents has still been very disproportional.


Gaza Disengagement (July/August 2005)

The Israeli pullout from the Gaza settlements will officially begin during the period of 15-17 August 2005. The evacuation will include the removal of Israeli settlers and their goods from 17 illegal settlements, as well as the redeployment of Israeli military forces from the Gaza Strip. The disengagement will also include the dismantling of four illegal settlements in the West Bank. It is announced that the redeployment should be completed by September 22. The redeployment of military forces and their infrastructure in the Gaza Strip could take until at least mid-October, and potentially longer. This EI special section tracks the progress of disengagement.


Bigger Than AIPAC

Important new details of the U.S.-Israeli espionage case involving Larry Franklin, the alleged Pentagon spy, two officials of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, and an intelligence official at the Embassy of Israel emerged last week. Two AIPAC officials—who have left the organization—were indicted along with Franklin on charges of "communicat[ing] national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it." In plain English, if not legal-speak, that means spying.


  thanks to Antiwar.com

 12:34 AM - link

another salut-s

I've been having problems with by Salut-S. The shutter isn't exposing the entire frame from 1/250 and up. Not good. I haven't been too upset since Ken had his Salut-S practically rebuilt, with new shutter, for under $140 at Arax. Then I found that Arax is on vacation for a month and a half. These commies are never going to make it as capitalistic pigs! So I bought another.

One needs a back-up. It was twice as much as the first one but it has the pentaprism and a clean, lube, and adjust, which can mean almost anything. I just got the test roll back and the shutter is working fine. All seems well.

I probably could have returned the first one. I bought a 65mm lens from the same seller and had problems with it and the seller has no problems with exchange but I wanted to get a CLA anyway. I love these cameras.

 12:27 AM - link

  Friday   August 12   2005


Oil Prices Continue to Surge, Hitting $66 a Barrel

For the third time this week, oil prices whizzed through a new high.

Crude oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange hit $66 a barrel in trading today. Oil first touched $64 a barrel on Monday and $65 a barrel on Wednesday.


The Saudi Oil Peril to U.S.
The Vice President's visit to pay homage to the new Saudi ruler sent a huge signal that the U.S. will do everything it can to placate the Saudi regime.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters recently that relations with the U.S. "couldn't be better." The prince could afford to be cheery and expansive. The royal kingdom literally has the U. S over a barrel, that is the roughly 10 million barrels that Saudi Arabia pumps out daily, about 11 percent of the world's total. Bush officials desperately need their oil. U.S. dependency on Saudi oil is greater now than it was before the 9/11 attacks, and that mocks Bush's claim that the U.S. can and will at least any time soon wean itself off Saudi oil, or dictate to the Saudi's how they should run their government, or diplomatic policy.


Pictures are sometimes worth much more than a 1000 words...(or, "it's here")


 11:07 PM - link


I've been looking for a heavy duty tripod. My Burke and James 5x7 is well under the weight limit of the head on my Manfrotto but that Burke & James really hangs out there with the bellows extended and the Manfrotto is just too flexible. Heavy duty tripods start getting pricey. $400 to $500 is not unreasonable for a sturdy tripod to support a large format camera. Surveyor tripods are a lower cost alternative. But I kept running across a tipod I never heard of before — the Majestic Tripod. It's unique in that it has a gear head. There are a variety of tripod and head made by Majestic. They go back but are still in production: Bencher. You can find them for as little as $70 but they normally go for $150 to $250 for the better ones. The one I wanted goes for $800 to $900 new. I finally got the model I wanted for $107.

It's not a tripod. It's a TRIPOD. It weighs around 18 pounds and is SOLID. I hope I can carry it around. Sally Mann, who is quite a bit smaller than I am, used one with an 8x10 view camera. I should be able to manage. In it's lowest position the platform is 36" (3 feet) high.

It's easy to set up. Each leg has it's own spirit level. The position of each leg is set by a sliding brace that clamps. All the clamps on the tripod CLAMP.

The business end of the head. The lower crank cranks the center column. I'm not used to center columns that are SOLID. Usually I set the height with the legs. With this tripod you set the head low and crank away. The upper crank is for the gear head. cranking it moved the camera fore and aft. No clamping needed. You crank to the position you want and that's that. It's not going anywhere. How high does it go?

The legs are single extendables. The geared center column has a sliding column inside it so that the top of the platform is 96" (8 feet) high. The legs are getting a bit wobbly at 8 feet. It's easy to apply a rotating force to the head and deflect the legs. If that bothers you there is one model up from this one that has three double legs.

Most heads are held on with a 3/8" bolt. The Majestics use a post although there are some model heads that take the puny bolt. Just loosen the clamp and the head just slides off the post.

This is one of the reasons I went for this particular tripod — the extension arm. It just slides onto the post and the other end has a post for the head. Quick and easy.

And it just slides and clamps onto the bottom of the center column, too.

Lossen a clamp and there is about 15 degrees side to side motion.

The gear head moves 90 degrees forward.

It would probably move that much aft but the handle hits the camera. Of course you can just rotate the camera 180 degrees on the platform and crank it foward to get the camera to look straight up. It hardly notices the 5x7. An 8x 10 would be no problem. This tripod is truly worth of it's name — MAJESTIC.

 10:56 PM - link

global climate change

Warming hits 'tipping point'
Siberia feels the heat It's a frozen peat bog the size of France and Germany combined, contains billions of tonnes of greenhouse gas and, for the first time since the ice age, it is melting

A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today.

Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures.


  thanks to Political Animal

 01:04 PM - link


When Old and New World Met in a Camera Flash

If Peter Mesenhöller expected to find the misery of the tired, the poor, the wretched emanating from a few photographs displayed in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum the day he first visited in 1996, he was in for a surprise. "I immediately got stunned by the dignity, the pride, the self-confidence," Mr. Mesenhöller, a cultural anthropologist specializing in early still photography and immigration studies, said by phone from his home in Cologne, Germany. "It was totally different from the usual image we have of the huddled masses."

Mr. Mesenhöller had alighted on the photography of Augustus Frederick Sherman, a registry clerk in Ellis Island's immigration division in the early 20th century. In the hours when he wasn't determining the fate of some of the thousands of immigrants disembarking daily in New York Harbor from foreign vessels, he was coaxing the hopeful to open their trunks, don their finest attire and level their gaze at his camera.

Some 75 photographs of these immigrants are on view at the Ellis Island museum in "Augustus Frederick Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905-1920." Organized by Mr. Mesenhöller and Diana Edkins, director of exhibitions and limited-edition prints for the Aperture Foundation, a nonprofit photography organization, the show coincides with the group's publication of a book of the same title with 40 more images. The show continues through Sept. 6 before traveling to 16 sites in the United States and abroad.


 10:59 AM - link

intelligent design

The President and Intelligent Design

That sound you hear is the "pop" of several billion Chinese and Indian economic planners getting simultaneous erections at this:

President Bush invigorated proponents of teaching alternatives to evolution in public schools with remarks saying that schoolchildren should be taught about "intelligent design," a view of creation that challenges established scientific thinking and promotes the idea that an unseen force is behind the development of humanity.

Seriously. Here you are, Tsui or Sanjay, looking at a new cenury. A century in which the exponential curve of technology's rise becomes a sheer cliff. In which only the most intellectually nimble countries, best able to master new information technologies and couple them with manufacturing bases with high levels of technical training, will survive.

And you're looking at that big bastard across the ocean, the US of A. First to build the Bomb. First to master the secrets of the atom. First to build the semiconductor. First and only tribe of humans who actually put men on the GODDAM MOON, to have stepped on another rock in space. Decoders of the human genome, the VERY BOOK OF LIFE !!! How will we ever stop --

Wow, they forfeit. Cool.


 10:50 AM - link

banner pics

I finally found my high school yearbook and scanned my graduation picture for the banner. One hole left. I've launched an archeological expedition in the basement where my stuff is stored. I should be finding the boxes with my pictures any day now. I need one from around 1986 to complete the banner.

 10:25 AM - link

let's try this again

Between losing a bunch of posts and Gerry's new meds, it's been hard to get back. Gerry, Zoe's mom who's living with us, has Alzheimer's. Her doctor is adjusting her meds trying to get her on a more even keel. The short term result has been very uneven. Monday evening she was very confused. This has happened before but a night's rest usually brings her back. Tuesday morning she didn't know who I was. Some more med adjustments and she is doing better. It's been up and down this week. Hopefully the new meds will even out by next week. I pretty much know the lost posts that had images. The others are old news by now. I will be getting the posts up throughout the day.

 10:18 AM - link

  Tuesday   August 9   2005

they're gone

I'm afraid all those posts are gone. Another trojan horse attack. Cliff, the sys admin, thought he had it fixed but apparently not. I remember what a couple of the posts were but most can't be redone. I'm depressed.

 09:35 AM - link

  Monday   August 8   2005

where did it go?

About three days of posts just disappeared today. I think my ISP did a restore from a week ago. I haven't been able to get hold of their system administrator. If I can't get those posts restored I think I will commit ritual suicide. Well, maybe not.

 07:38 PM - link