Weblog Archives




  Friday   November 23   2007

a special thanksgiving

The Coale clan usually gets together on Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mom, two brothers, a sister, numerous cousins, and all the significant others. And the Coale's are not a shy bunch. It's a very noisy gathering and everyone has a good time. But this year there was a revolt of some significant others who wanted to see their families. It was decided that, this year, the Coales would get together for a combined Thanksmas in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It ended up that my kids were to spend Thanksgiving with their mom so Zoe and I took my mom out for a Thanksgiving dinner. Doris is 87 and living in an assisted living home in Federal Way. She gets around slowly with a walker. She is getting forgetful but is still pretty sharp. We had a great time with her. Federal Way is most of the way to Tacoma where Gerry is at Western State Hospital. After dropping Doris off, we visited Gerry. Her pneumonia seems to be receeding but she still hasn't been eating or drinking much. I had cooked a spinach and also a squash dish for her and Zoe fixed her favorite spaghetti dish. We were there for two hours and she never really stopped eating. She doesn't eat a whole lot at once, but just keeps snacking. She was in a great mood and we all had a fun time. Sometimes we understood what whe was saying and sometimes not. That's the nature of Alzheimer's. Gerry is 84. Zoe and I had our moms all to ourselves. We didn't have to share them with anyone. A special Thanksgiving, indeed.

 07:28 PM - link

  Tuesday   November 20   2007

happy thanksgiving

Zoe just got off the phone with Western State Hospital and Gerry was eating today. Woo hoo! Something to be thankful about.

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day here in the States. No more posting until that passes. While a lot of time has been focused on Gerry, I've been busy on a whole lot of other things. The Epson printer is printing fine and the test prints I did for Don left him ecstatic. Now to get final prints off with an invoice and work on several more. And then to print some of my stuff! The Kiev 88 that Vern brought up from Bainbridge Island along with the Spotmatics and Yashica Electros was trash but I can use the case it came in (as well as a back and side grip). The camera case my Hasselbladski (Salut-S) lives in is pretty heavy with all the accessories. The case the Kiev 88 came is is small and easy to throw in the car with a pared down kit. I haven't shot square for a while and it's nice to be shooting the Hasselbladski with some Efke 25 black & white. Shooting square inspired me to post nothing but square photography today. I need to clean up my 4x5 film holders so I can shoot with the Burke & James Press camera. I'm really anxious to do that. And I need to make a couple of lensboards for it. I will be getting together with Vern after Thanksgiving to go through the Electros and Spotmatics. And I have a new camera strap to get up on gordy's camera straps. Pictures of all this will be coming. And I should get caught up on work...

 01:18 PM - link


Jan Stradtmann


  thanks to muse-ings

 12:59 PM - link

global climate change

UN Panel Gives Dire Warming Forecast

Global warming is "unequivocal" and carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere commits the world to an eventual rise in sea levels of up to 4.6 feet, the world's top climate experts warned Saturday in their most authoritative report to date.

"Only urgent, global action will do," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling on the United States and China _ the world's two biggest polluters _ to do more to slow global climate change.

"I look forward to seeing the U.S. and China playing a more constructive role," Ban told reporters. "Both countries can lead in their own way."


That's the short version. While you are holding your breath wating for the US and China to do something about climate change you can read the report. Check out the Summary for Policymakers:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

 12:51 PM - link


Beth Dow


  thanks to muse-ings

 12:11 PM - link


How Dry We Are
A Question No One Wants to Raise About Drought

And then, there's that question which has been nagging at me ever since this story first caught my attention in early October as it headed out of the regional press and slowly made its way toward the top of the nightly TV news and the front-pages of national newspapers; it's the question I've been waiting patiently for some environmental reporter(s) somewhere in the mainstream media to address; the question that seems to me so obvious I find it hard to believe everyone isn't thinking about it; the one you would automatically want to have answered -- or at least gnawed on by thoughtful, expert reporters and knowledgeable pundits. Every day for the last month or more I've waited, as each piece on Atlanta ends at more or less the same point -- with the dire possibility that the city's water will soon be gone -- as though hitting a brick wall.

Not that there hasn't been some fine reportage -- on the extremity of the situation, the overbuilding and overpopulating of the metropolitan region, the utter heedlessness that went with it, and the resource wars that have since engulfed it. Still, I've Googled around, read scores of pieces on the subject, and they all -- even the one whose first paragraph asked, "What if Atlanta's faucets really do go dry?" -- seem to end just where my question begins. It's as if, in each piece, the reporter had reached the edge of some precipice down which no one cares to look, lest we all go over.

Based on the record of the last seven years, we can take it for granted that the Bush administration hasn't the slightest desire to glance down; that no one in FEMA who matters has given the situation the thought it deserves; and that, on this subject, as on so many others, top administration officials are just hoping to make it to January 2009 without too many more scar marks. But, if not the federal government, shouldn't somebody be asking? Shouldn't somebody check out what's actually down there?

So let me ask it this way: And then?


 12:05 PM - link


Brian Shumway


  thanks to Conscientious

 11:53 AM - link


With the Recession Becoming Inevitable the Consensus Shifts Towards the Hard Landing View. And the Rising Risk of a Systemic Financial Meltdown

So at this point the debate is less and less on whether we are going to have a recession that looks inevitable; but it is rather moving towards a debate on how deep, protracted and severe such a recession will be. But the financial and real risks are much more severe than those of a mild recession.

I now see the risk of a severe and worsening liquidity and credit crunch leading to a generalized meltdown of the financial system of a severity and magnitude like we have never observed before. In this extreme scenario whose likelihood is increasing we could see a generalized run on some banks; and runs on a couple of weaker (non-bank) broker dealers that may go bankrupt with severe and systemic ripple effects on a mass of highly leveraged derivative instruments that will lead to a seizure of the derivatives markets (think of LTCM to the power of three); a collapse of the ABCP market and a disorderly collapse of the SIVs and conduits; massive losses on money market funds with a run on both those sponsored by banks and those not sponsored by banks (with the latter at even more severe risk as the recent effective bailout of the formers’ losses by theirs sponsoring banks is not available to those not being backed by banks); ever growing defaults and losses ($500 billion plus) in subprime, near prime and prime mortgages with severe known-on effect on the RMBS and CDOs market; massive losses in consumer credit (auto loans, credit cards); severe problems and losses in commercial real estate and related CMBS; the drying up of liquidity and credit in a variety of asset backed securities putting the entire model of securitization at risk; runs on hedge funds and other financial institutions that do not have access to the Fed’s lender of last resort support; a sharp increase in corporate defaults and credit spreads; and a massive process of re-intermediation into the banking system of activities that were until now altogether securitized.

When a year ago this author warned of the risk of a systemic banking and financial crisis – a combination of global liquidity and solvency/credit problems - like we had not seen in decades, these views were considered as far fetched. They are not that extreme any more today as Goldman Sachs is writing today on the risk o a contraction of credit of the staggering order of $2 trillion dollars in the next few years causing a severe credit crunch and a serious recession. As I will flesh out in a forthcoming note the risks of such a generalized systemic financial meltdown are now rising. Hopefully by now some folks at the New York Fed and at the Fed Board are starting to think about this most dangerous systemic financial crisis that could emerge in the next year and what to do to prepare for it.


  thanks to Politics in the Zeros

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush
The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy. A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, sees a generation-long struggle to recoup.

When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was the Bush administration, we will think of many things: the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The damage done to the American economy does not make front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this page.

I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris—or even the Yukon—becomes a venture in high finance.

And it gets worse. After almost seven years of this president, the United States is less prepared than ever to face the future. We have not been educating enough engineers and scientists, people with the skills we will need to compete with China and India. We have not been investing in the kinds of basic research that made us the technological powerhouse of the late 20th century. And although the president now understands—or so he says—that we must begin to wean ourselves from oil and coal, we have on his watch become more deeply dependent on both.

Up to now, the conventional wisdom has been that Herbert Hoover, whose policies aggravated the Great Depression, is the odds-on claimant for the mantle “worst president” when it comes to stewardship of the American economy. Once Franklin Roosevelt assumed office and reversed Hoover’s policies, the country began to recover. The economic effects of Bush’s presidency are more insidious than those of Hoover, harder to reverse, and likely to be longer-lasting. There is no threat of America’s being displaced from its position as the world’s richest economy. But our grandchildren will still be living with, and struggling with, the economic consequences of Mr. Bush.


  thanks to dangerousmeta!

 11:50 AM - link


A couple of interesting sets of portraits from the Dutch photgrapher Jan banning.

The Office


  thanks to Conscientious

Jan Banning


  thanks to Conscientious

 11:38 AM - link


This is an excellent overview of the energy catastrophe we are headed for. A must read.

World Energy to 2050: A Half Century of Decline

How many ways are there to say the world is heading for hard times? Losing most of our oil is bad enough, and losing most of our gas as well borders on the catastrophic. Combining these losses with the exponential growth of those nations that can least afford it is nothing short of cataclysmic. The ramifications spread out like ripples on a pond. There will be 7 billion people who will need fertilizer and irrigation water to survive, but would be too poor to buy it even at today's prices. Given the probable escalation in the costs of fertilizer and the diesel fuel or electricity for their water pumps, it isn't hard to understand why the spread of famine in energy-poor regions of the world seems virtually inevitable.

In normal times the poor would appeal to the rest of the world for food aid. However, these times may be anything but normal. Even the shrinking population of the rich world will see its wealth eroded by the drop in energy supplies and the increasing cost of producing the energy they do have. This decline in their wealth will in turn erode any surpluses they might otherwise have donated to international aid. In any event, there will be over twice as many hungry mouths crying for that aid, with less and less of it available.

This assessment doesn't even consider the converging and amplifying impacts of the other problems I mentioned above: the loss of soil fertility and fresh water, the death of the oceans, rising pollution, spreading extinctions and accelerating climate change.

The solution to this dilemma, if solution there may be, does not seem to lie in some Deus ex Machina or in a technological revision of the parable of the loaves and fishes. If the dark visions outlined in this article come true, we will be faced with a world in which the only way forward is to accept that Mother Nature does not negotiate. We must use our considerable intelligence to figure out ways to live within the ecological budget we have been allotted. More than that, we must change our values away from our current paradigm of growth, competition and exploitation to one of sustainability, cooperation and nurturing. The longer and tighter we cling to our present ways, the more damage we will ultimately inflict on ourselves and the world we live in. For many, the time for such a change has already passed. For a fortunate few there may yet be enough time to move toward the new ways of living and being that will be required in this brave new world.


 11:07 AM - link


Alan Ostreicher


  thanks to Conscientious

 10:53 AM - link


Are You With Us… or Against Us?
The Road from Washington to Karachi to Nuclear Anarchy

The journey to the martial law just imposed on Pakistan by its self-appointed president, the dictator Pervez Musharraf, began in Washington on September 11, 2001. On that day, it so happened, Pakistan's intelligence chief, Lt. General Mahmood Ahmed, was in town. He was summoned forthwith to meet with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who gave him perhaps the earliest preview of the global Bush doctrine then in its formative stages, telling him, "You are either one hundred percent with us or one hundred percent against us."

The next day, the administration, dictating to the dictator, presented seven demands that a Pakistan that wished to be "with us" must meet. These concentrated on gaining its cooperation in assailing Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which had long been nurtured by the Pakistani intelligence services in Afghanistan and had, of course, harbored Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda training camps. Conspicuously missing was any requirement to rein in the activities of Mr. A.Q. Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear arms, who, with the knowledge of Washington, had been clandestinely hawking the country's nuclear-bomb technology around the Middle East and North Asia for some years.

Musharraf decided to be "with us"; but, as in so many countries, being with the United States in its Global War on Terror turned out to mean not being with one's own people. Although Musharraf, who came to power in a coup in 1999, was already a dictator, he had now taken the politically fateful additional step of very visibly subordinating his dictatorship to the will of a foreign master. In many countries, people will endure a homegrown dictator but rebel against one who seems to be imposed from without, and Musharraf was now courting this danger.

A public opinion poll in September ranking certain leaders according to their popularity suggests what the results have been. Osama bin Laden, at 46% approval, was more popular than Musharraf, at 38%, who in turn was far better liked than President Bush, at a bottom-scraping 7%. There is every reason to believe that, with the imposition of martial law, Musharraf's and Bush's popularity have sunk even further. Wars, whether on terror or anything else, don't tend to go well when the enemy is more popular than those supposedly on one's own side.


Benazir vs. Musharraf is Punch vs. Judy

Shlent was the marvelous onomatopoeic term we used in my student activist days, as verb or noun, to describe the stage managing of an event or process in a manner that allowed its appearance to camouflage a power play. (The sound shlent to me always evoked heavy pieces falling smoothly into place.) And I can think of no better term to describe the bogus “showdown” we’re being sold involving Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. In fact, appearances aside (although they camouflage very little), it’s plain that Bhutto and Musharraf are still involved in an elaborate U.S.-brokered negotiation process to divide the spoils of power in what might be called Pakistan’s Team America. Musharraf’s police may periodically prevent her from leaving her house, but they’re largely doing her the favor of providing her an excuse for refraining from leading her supporters in confrontation with the regime — which she, and her backers in Washington, are very concerned to avoid. Bhutto has not suffered the fate of other opposition leaders, who have been hounded by the security forces and thrown in prison. And her own political awkwardness and hesitation in responding to Musharraf’s moves are a reminder that all is not quite what it seems in the media narrative of a brave and beleaguered civilian democrat confronting a military despot.


The Pakistan Fuel Connection
Logistical Vulnerabilities and the Afghanistan War

When it comes to America's relationship with Pakistan, remember one thing: it's all about the fuel.

The Bush Administration's muted reaction to the new dictatorial rule of Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf can be traced to the American military's logistics problems in Afghanistan. Without the cooperation of Musharraf's government, the 24,000 U.S. troops who are stationed in Afghanistan would likely run out of fuel within a matter of days.


 10:48 AM - link


Kathryn Hillier


  thanks to Conscientious

 10:36 AM - link


Things are still not going well with Zoe's mom. Wednesday we talked with her doctor, Dr. Khalighi, at Western State Hospital. Her Anemia is worse and he wanted to do a blood transfusion but we ended up more confused than ever as to what would be best for Gerry. Gerry's Alzheimer's would make it very difficult for her to be in another facility without her usual supporting care givers. Thursday Zoe had a physical with her doctor, Dr. Waite, who used to be Gerry's doctor. She spent the time talking to Dr. Waite about her mom and Dr. Waite ended up talking to Dr. Khalighi. Dr. Waite was then able to clarify a lot of things. That night Zoe wrote and faxed a letter to Gerry's ward about how we wanted Gerry cared for. We went down Sunday and fed Gerry. She was in a very good mood but showing signs of dehydration since she hasn't been eating or drinking. She only seems to eat and drink when she is with us. We will try going down more often but that is hard since it takes up a whole day. Thursday we will be taking my mom out to dinner and will go see Gerry after. See Zoe's post for more and a copy of the letter. We are overwhelmed by how much everyone taking care of Gerry loves her.

 10:05 AM - link