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  Friday   November 18   2005

give us this day our daily image

Waiting Room Series #3

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gordy's image archive index

Back to the series taken when I was waiting for Zoe's MRI on her wrist.

 01:30 PM - link



bush unhinged

Bush continues to sink like a rock.


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It seems to be wearing on him.

Very disturbing story about Bush's state of mind in the Wash Times magazine


The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.

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  thanks to Eschaton


Washington Times Reports Bush "Reclusive", "Feels Betrayed"


So to have these stories out there points to at least some (fairly core, we can presume) members of Bush's administration being alarmed at his own behavior. Or it just proves that the Washington Times is full of it, or that there's multiple "administration sources" out there intent on making Bush look like an unhinged, adrift brat. (Let it go, Harriet...) Hey, I'm not sure which I'm rooting for at this point, but I can't say I'm taking much glee in the thought that our president may or may not be having his own personal toga party, with nobody else invited.

Is there anyone out there selling nuclear holocaust insurance? Because I've got this nagging itch like I should be stocking up on duct tape. Seriously, I hope one of the Joint Chiefs has hidden the key to the liquor cabinet at this point.

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And Blaine sent me this sign. It's not a real sign. The URL is right above the interesting bit. Let's just say its a sign of the times.

 01:16 PM - link



frappr!

More readers have signed up on my Frappr! map. You can put pictures up on Frappr! Mine is up (I need a better one) and a friend has his up too. Joe Leahy sent me one of him with two of his grown kids. I hope he posts it on Frappr! A couple more of my family members have signed up: Cameron Coale, a nephew (Madelane's son) and Justin Johnson. Justin isn't really family, he just feels that way. He has been a friend of my son's for many years. He is now in England studying book preservation. We are talking old books. Not books that are merely a couple of hundred years old. It's nice to see you are still alive Justin! And luis has sent me email. I haven't heard from luis for some time. He sent me email when I was working on my fixie project. (The fixie project is sleeping, it will happen.) He also had a lovely 8x10 Calumet he was selling. At least my large format projects should be happening soon. Magpie signed up. She has a blog I read regularly and she now is in my blogroll. (I need to update that blogroll!) Dale is a fellow Rangefinder Forum reader. Steve Showell is a long time friend here on Whidbey Island. He posted his picture on Frappr! Brian, Raymond, Peter, and changojuan are new to me. Welcome! If you haven't already, please sign up on my Frappr! map and leave a picture. It's nice to know that someone is out there.

 01:01 PM - link



iraq

John Murtha, a conservative Democrat, who also happens to be a retired Marine Colonel and Vietnam vet has some strong words for ending it now.

Time to come home


"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

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More on Murtha's speech:

War and Piece


< MURTHA >: And he had been wounded and lost both his hands. The kid behind him was killed.

His mother said, because they were friendly bomblets, they wouldn't give him a Purple Heart.

I met with the commandant. I said, "If you don't give him a Purple Heart, I'll give him one of mine." And they gave him a Purple Heart.

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Here is an audio interview with James Fallows by Terry Gross on NPR.

'Why Iraq Has No Army'


In a cover article for the December issue of Atlantic Monthly, reporter James Fallows argues there is no easy way out of Iraq for American forces. Pressure is mounting to withdraw U.S. troops, but the move would almost certainly leave Iraq in chaos. It will take years to train an Iraqi security force.

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  thanks to firedoglake

Fallows lays out two options. The first is that we rebuild the Iraq Army. That will take many years. If we can't do that we need to get out as fast as we can. Basically, his message is that we're fucked. Of course, the Iraqis are in a much worse situation.


My 23 Days In Iraq--A War Story


Bang-Bang-Bang-Bang-Bang...Hell yeah! I think I killed the fucker! Oh fuck. I'm out of ammo. Time for a mag-change. As I changed my magazine, little did I know, a hajji(In this case a Fedayeen Guerilla) had moved out of the bunker in the back yard that I was in. He moved up to where the guy I just wasted was now lying, dead. As I put another magazine in my M-16 A-2 service rifle, he was aiming in on me...from a short 40 ft. away. I racked another round in the chamber, then looked up to see a hajji aimed in at me. And before I could even raise my weapon, I saw an orange muzzle flash. Then I saw black. I slowy opened my eyes and realized I was on the ground and my rifle was about 5 ft away from me. I was sitting kinda on my knees. Then I realized...I was shot. And not only that, I was paralyzed from the neck down. And then I saw the Hajji still shooting in my direction. "Holy shit", I thought. "I'm a fucking gonner".

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"For 13 Damn Days": Attention Must Be Paid


Benson's son, Latseen, a U.S. Army specialist, became the victim of a roadside bomb in Iraq. He lost his legs and still has not regained consciousness. Latseen Benson was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Benson says after her sonís first tour, Latseen tried to get out of the Army after his four-year commitment ended Oct. 31, but the military's stop-loss order kept him in and sent him back to Iraq.

"So for 13 damn days my son's life is ruined," said Benson. ...

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U.S. 'can't maintain Iraq troop levels'

 12:25 PM - link



book recommendation


Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45
by Barbara Tuchman

Here is the Amazon book description:


Barbara W. Tuchman won the Pulitzer Prize for Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45 in 1972. She uses the life of Joseph Stilwell, the military attache to China in 1935-39 and commander of United States forces and allied chief of staff to Chiang Kai-shek in 1942-44, to explore the history of China from the revolution of 1911 to the turmoil of World War II, when China's Nationalist government faced attack from Japanese invaders and Communist insurgents. Her story is an account of both American relations with China and the experiences of one of our men on the ground. In the cantankerous but level-headed "Vinegar Joe," Tuchman found a subject who allowed her to perform, in the words of The National Review, "one of the historian's most envied magic acts: conjoining a fine biography of a man with a fascinating epic story."

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It's been over 20 years since I went through a Barbara Tuchman binge. (Be sure to check out The March of Folly : From Troy to Vietnam for some insight to today's clusterfuck.) However, I missed this one until the other day I was in a local used book store and found a copy for 40 cents. It is well worth paying the full price. Not only is Stilwell an interesting dude, it gives insight into why China is the way it is. I need to find a good history of China from the Communist takeover. China is becoming increasingly important to us and it behooves us to understand why China is the way it is.

Another very interesting part of this book is the description of the Army from just before WWI to WWII. It is only after WWII that we have maintained a large standing army. Prior to WWII the Army was essentially disbanded to a small core and then built up in wartime. This build-up is one of the things that has made this country the threat to the world that it is. If you have a tool there is a tendancy to use it.

You can get used copies at Alibris

 11:45 AM - link



torture r us

Some Kind of 'Manly'
By Molly Ivins


I can't get over this feeling of unreality, that I am actually sitting here writing about our country having a gulag of secret prisons in which it tortures people.

I have loved America all my life, even though I have often disagreed with the government. But this seems to me so preposterous, so monstrous. My mind is a little bent and my heart is a little broken this morning.

Maybe I should try to get a grip -- after all, it's just this one administration that I had more cause than most to realize was full of inadequate people going in. And even at that, it seems to be mostly Vice President Cheney. And after all, we were badly frightened by 9-11, which was a horrible event. "Only" nine senators voted against the prohibition of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons under custody or control the United States."

Nine out of 100. Should we be proud? Should we cry?

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The Power of Narrative, and the Myth that Justifies the Horrors


In the middle of last night, motivated primarily by my growing revulsion as I comprehended the magnitude of the horror revealed in this NYT op-ed piece, I wrote this essay: Monsters with Borrowed Souls: The Horror Magnifies. Several of the issues that I identified deserve lengthier consideration. Here I will discuss one of them, because it is particularly well-suited to an explanation of the title and theme I chose for this new blog.

The NYT article traces the source of the torture methods now adopted by the U.S. military. The nature of that source is more than sufficiently horrifying: it turns out that these particular barbaric techniques were practiced and perfected (if such a word can be employed in this context) by communists who were once our enemies. The purpose of the torture is equally sickening. As the authors put it: "For Communist interrogators, truth was beside the point: their aim was to force compliance to the point of false confession." As I pointed out, this means that the rationalization of using torture to procure useful intelligence and thus to save lives is only that: a rationalization, and a blatant lie. These methods have never been used, and are not used today, to obtain the truth: "truth was beside the point." The point was, and is, to destroy the prisoner's will -- to make him a literally mindless automaton who will do exactly as he is told. This is now the purpose adopted by our own military.

This alone is sufficient to make any person who remains remotely civilized recoil in disgust at the degree of inhumanity involved. Make no mistake: this is sadism for its own sake, with no further aim or purpose. In the future, I'll write in some detail about the psychological sources of this kind of impulse, and I will also repost earlier essays of mine which address this question. As I say, all of this is horrifying enough -- but one element that underlies this is even worse with regard to the object and nature of the target of destruction. It is monstrous to deliberately destroy even one human being -- but it is even more monstrous to destroy the concept of morality itself, and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, between the truth and a vicious lie.

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 01:34 AM - link



envelope art

2005 Graceful Envelope Contest Winners


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  thanks to moleskinerie

 01:24 AM - link



The IDF tars a road
By Amira Hass


Tarring a road, building an elevated traffic island as a lane divider, leveling an area and cleaning it - there is no reason for these to take up a single line in the newspaper. Tarring a road, as common sense would have it, means using taxpayers' money for their benefit, a service that goes without saying, that is part of the ongoing contract between citizens and the authorities.

But when this tarring takes place on a road north of Bir Zeit, and the one executing it is the Israel Defense Forces, which also grabbed under GOC order dozens of dunams belonging to several Palestinian families, and commandeered one family's home in its absence, then we're dealing with an ongoing contract of another sort. It is a contract between the state authorities and the Jewish citizens of Israel which permits them to use Palestinian land and property to the detriment of the Palestinian public.

The tarring is under way right now, and it deserves more than a line in the paper. But the problem is that even 50 lines, and even were these to appear on the front page, would not put a stop to this evil plunder.

When the authorities build a traffic island in Kfar Saba and designate driving lanes, they do so for the public good and for the sake of its safety. When the same thing is done at the end of a road like the one at the Bir Zeit/Atara junction, the objective is different: to erect another permanent checkpoint (a "monitoring area," in the IDF's euphemism), in place of the improvised checkpoint that has been in sporadic operation there for five years. And a permanent checkpoint means another violation in an endless series of violations of Palestinian freedom of movement.

This means another, nearly final, step toward completing the military and settler encirclement of the Ramallah region. In other words, another measure in severing the Ramallah province from the rest of the West Bank's cut off Palestinian enclaves.

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  thanks to Antiwar.com


There may be some changes coming.

Israel's Populist Hope
Amir Peretz is running on a modest platform: end the war with Palestine and restore equality in Israel.


Amir Peretz, the new chairman of the Labor Party, is a progressive populist -- but he may be George W. Bush's best hope.

Peretz, who won a surprise, cliffhanger victory over incumbent chairman Shimon Peres last week, is a trade unionist in his gut. He is a masterful negotiator who has pledged that, if he is elected prime minister in the next Israeli elections (likely to be scheduled for spring 2006), he will move his country toward direct negotiations with the Palestinians. Peretz's ideology is directly counter to everything the current U.S. administration believes in, but unlike the current prime minister, Ariel Sharon, Peretz wants to negotiate a final agreement that brings peace to the two sides.

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Sharon and Peretz Agree on Early Election in Israel


Israel's right-wing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the new leader of the leftist Labour party agreed at a meeting on Thursday to hold early elections in late February or March.

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 01:20 AM - link



photography

Your second chance at once in a lifetime photos


After sitting in a cardboard box for over 50 years these great negatives have once again seen the light of day. The brother in-law of an antique store owner found them in a house he bought; and I found them in the antique store. Photography is my hobby and I enjoy using old cameras. Sometimes I find old rolls of film in the cameras with snapshots of times long ago. Some of the pictures are truly wonderful and I know the families would cherish them today; but there's rarely any history to go with those old rolls of film. They're found in antique stores or flea markets and no one knows where they came from. It seems like such a shame.


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 12:44 AM - link



muslims

Muslims and the 5 Questions


Somebody named Dennis Prager wrote a frankly bigotted op-ed for the LA Times asking "Muslims" 5 questions. The questions are fairly easy to answer in themselves, but the stupidity of the whole framework is what is objectionable. Why is it that our media personalities cannot think their way out of a paper bag? Why don't high school civics courses alert them that there might be a problem with stereotyping everyone that you categorize as belonging to a particular group?

Prager begins his "questions" directed, apparently at all 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, by referring to the recent riots in France. He is thus framing his questions with the implication that those Muslims are all trouble-makers and have something to answer for. But the alienated in-between young African- and North African-French are mostly not very involved in religion and a lot of them couldn't tell you how to pray to save their lives.

Prager's first question is why "Muslims" are so "quiet" (implied is: "about terrorism emanating from other Muslims"). Of course, Muslims have been anything but quiet about terrorism and all sorts of Muslim leaders and groups have repeatedly condemned it. Muslims haven't been "quiet." Prager hasn't been listening.

Moreover, the mere assertion that an act was done in the "name of Islam" would not necessarily connect it to Islam in the eyes of other Muslims. All kinds of crazy things are done in the name of Judaism and Christianity and Buddhism. Why didn't the American Buddhists demonstrate when Aum Shinrikyo let Sarin gas loose in the Tokyo subway? Did American Catholics demonstrate against Franco's policies in Spain? Why should American Catholics even feel responsible for those things? Why should Indonesian or Bangladeshi Muslims demonstrate about something that happened in distant Jordan, which had some local context they don't even understand? People who are actually Muslims don't take seriously small groups of cranks who do bizarre things in the name of Islam.

And let's turn the tables on Prager. Let's ask why he is so quiet.

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 12:40 AM - link



photography

Brian Ulrich


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  thanks to Conscientious

 12:37 AM - link



oil

Prepare for Peak Oil Now
Oil is a finite resource -- and the decline of world oil production is predicted to occur anytime within the next 30 years. To avoid the worst-case scenario, we must begin today to reduce our dependence on oil.


Only 150 years ago, 85 percent of all work being accomplished in the U.S. economy was done by muscle power -- most of that by animal muscle, about a quarter of it by human muscle. Today, that percentage is effectively zero; virtually all of the physical work supporting our economy is done by fuel-fed machines. What caused this transformation? Quite simply, it was oil's comparative cheapness and versatility. Perhaps you have had the experience of running out of gas and having to push your car a few feet to get it off the road. That's hard work. Now imagine pushing your car 20 or 30 miles. That is the service performed for us by a single gallon of gasoline, for which we currently pay $2.65. That gallon of fuel is the energy equivalent of roughly six weeks of hard human labor.

It was inevitable that we would become addicted to this stuff, once we had developed a few tools for using it and for extracting it. Today petroleum provides 97 percent of our transportation fuel, and is also a feedstock for chemicals and plastics.

It is no exaggeration to say that we live in a world that runs on oil.

However, oil is a finite resource. Therefore the peaking and decline of world oil production are inevitable events -- and on that there is scarcely any debate; only the timing is uncertain. Forecast dates for the peak range from this year to 2035.

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A Conversation with Matt Simmons

 12:15 AM - link



photography

John Brownlow, over at streetphoto has been taken some pictures of trees. (Tree is a subset of sTREEt.) He has a couple of threads of his trees which are very interesting: Another singleton tree and A tree is a tree is a tree. One of the posts mentioned a photographer who came to mind after looking at Brownlows trees. Hadn't heard of him. I should have. His name is Ray Metzker

Ray Metzker: Landscapes


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THE LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHS OF RAY K. METZKER


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Ray Metzker


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 12:05 AM - link



  Thursday   November 17   2005

gerry

A group of postings that would take a couple of hours to post now takes several days. I started posting this morning and then this afternoon Zoe and I took Gerry up to Oak Harbor to see her doctor, had and early dinner at Mitzels, and came home. It was about 7pm that I started giving her her night meds. She started objecting saying she had already taken these pills and that I was trying to overdose her and kill her. Zoe came down and we had an emotional evening. All finally calmed down after some mother/daughter crying and hugs all around. Of course Gerry has forgotten all about it. Zoe has a post on her blog that captures some of what Gerry is going through: It's a constant learning curve

 11:31 PM - link



new orleans

It's easy to ask what this country has become. The reality is that what this country is is just becoming obvious.

Black Bodies Remain Still.....Part II


Imagine this...
You watch on TV the news that your mother's city has been destroyed by the latest disaster. For days you wait to hear from her. Days pass into weeks but still no word. Your hope of finding her alive fades. Frantically you call everyone in government but to no avail. You tell yourself to let the rescuers do their job. You await word from the morgue but it does not come. You hear they are backed up so you wait. Two months later you are allowed to go to her home. Hoping to retrieve what you can..... documents, the precious family photos, you enter her home only to find your mother's decomposing body in her living room. You stumble out and fall to your knees in anguish asking.... "Why, How could she have been left like this?"

This would never happen in America you say? It is.

On Oct 3 the search for bodies in NOLA was called off despite the knowledge that bodies remained in unsearched homes in NOLA's 9th Ward (see previous post) The plan was for people to call 911 if they found a body despite the fact that people were not even allowed into the 9th ward. On October 12th, parts of the 9th Ward were opened for a "look and leave." The death toll rose as bodies were found. And the lower 9th ward, perhaps the most devastated area of NOLA, will not open to residents until December.

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  thanks to Eschaton

 12:27 PM - link



noodles

Prehistoric Pasta
So the Chinese probably invented spaghetti, after all.


4,000 year-old Late Neolithic noodles from China, shown here on a sediment cone after the inverted earthenware bowl containing them was removed. Scale bar, 1 cm

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  thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!

 12:08 PM - link



pot

Respectable Reefer
Sativex, a pulverized, liquefied, and doctor-prescribed form of marijuana, has the potential to transform the drug-war landscape.


If it weren't for the little photo gallery on the wall, the office where Dr. William Notcutt's research assistants keep track of their patients would be just like any other cubicle at the James Paget Medical Center in England. As phones ring and stretchers wheel by and these three women go about their business, the snapshots -- Cheryl Phillips, one of Notcutt's staffers, gently holding an emerald green bud of marijuana; a group of people in lab coats smiling for the camera, sinsemilla towering over their heads; a hangar-sized greenhouse stuffed to the gills with lush pot plants -- are about the only evidence that this hospital in East Anglia is at the epicenter of one of the most extensive medical marijuana research projects in the world.

In part, that's because there's no actual pot here; by the time it gets to Paget, GW Pharmaceuticals, the British startup that owns the greenhouses, has turned the plants into Sativex, a pure extract of pot that comes in a pharmacy-friendly bottle and is designed to be sprayed into the mouth. And in part it's because the frivolity is carefully confined to the photos, taken against company policy during a field trip to the secure, undisclosed location where GW grows its weed. After five years, Phillips and her colleagues have grown used to having cannabis -- as the British call marijuana -- in their workaday lives. Not only that, but their boss has been on a bit of a campaign to keep things sober.

"To get to the perception that this is a medicine," Notcutt says, "we've had to move away from the funnies that relate to the pot world. So no pot jokes."

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 12:02 PM - link



zen for the day


9. The Moon Cannot Be Stolen

Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. "You may have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift."

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, "I wish I could give him this beautiful moon."

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from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

 11:58 AM - link