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Friday, October 31, 2003

Hollow-ween


Halloween? Bah. I just don't get it. Never have, even as a kid. I prefer to be wacky and loopy on my own schedule, thank you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Churchill Speaks

"Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never-
in nothing great or small, large or petty-
never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense." -Winston Churchill

After the sucky day I had today, inspiring words indeed.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

This Blog Is Televised



Now this is cool. I am in a hotel room in Spokane, Wash., posting this entry over an Internet access connection through the television set. The interface that the LodgeNet service displays on the tv is a bit clunky, and does not allow me to format this entry with html code o even with boldface. I am here on the way home to Portland on the way home from Ione, Wash., where I rode a tourist train tday. Only leaves two short legs to go, and I will have a complete set of pix representing each Amtrak, commuter, light rail and tourist train and trolley in Washington and Oregon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Fear As An Element Of Control

Could you imagine the right-wing outcry if 9/11 had happened when Clinton was President?

The fright-wing squawk show hosts tend to overlook that 9/11 happened on the watch of a CIA director who Clinton hired, and Bush reappointed. If Bush were so resolutely more determined to thwart terrorism more effectively than Clinton did, would he have kept the chief of our nation's key anti-terrorist infractructure under Clinton? No, he didn't replace him, and still hasn't.

And it was a Democrat, Joe Lieberman, who first proposed the Department Of Homeland Security. The Bush adminstration fought the concept when it was introduced.

Mythologies have festered out of 9/11. Clinton was a skirt-chasing, draft-dodging, equivocating wuss (well, maybe the first part is true); Bush is a real man, and a hero. Interesting that style, rather than substance, quantifies a hero. Reagan was a hero to many of the same people. Reagan and GWB both "served," but GWB was in National Guard, flying planes thousands of miles from harm's way, and Reagan, already an actor by the time WWII broke out, was drafted and made training films.

A real hero? How about the reservist who has just been called back to Iraq, and is trying to hold his young family together? And yes, the firemen at the WTC were heroes. And if you have to have a Republican president who was a hero: OK, Ike, and even Bush The Elder, a real combat pilot who bailed out of his plane after being shot at by Japanese fighters.

The Saddam-Osama "connection" is another mythology. This one is largely driven by fear of "the other." They are bad people, they are Arabs, most speak the same language, so they must be affiliated with each other.

This is a social pathology not new to America. Fear of "the other" is ingrained in our racist history. Fear that a red man will scalp us. Fear that a black man will ravish our daughter. Fear of the Mediterranean-looking person, for they might be a Jew, and the Jews "killed Christ." Fear of the Latino family, for the perceived "gangs" they will bring in. Fear of Japanese-Americans in WWII, for being potential saboteurs.

Fear of everything and everyone that does not look, think and feel as we do.

There's a reason why we see so many vehicles with American flags AND fishes. Both indicate a susceptibility to hierarchical command structures -- a male President, a male God. There's a reason why, in some religions, congregations are collectively known as "flock."

Have you ever seen a sheep in a flock? They are meek. They must obey, or the German shepherd will bark. (Llamas are far more gentle sheep-herders, and such sheep look on llamas as big brothers, but there aren't that many of them).

And this administration is all about fear, you know. They want us to be afraid. Fearful people are more susceptible to manipulation, control and obedience. The way you teach obedience to a herd animal is through fear. And Ashcroft is the barking German shepherd.

Perhaps I shouldn't keep harping on the American flag thing. My father was a disabled war vet. But these days, when I see a big SUV with one or more large flags, I instinctively think that here is a person who is being manipulated through fear by right-wing radio and preachers, who thinks Saddam did 9/11, who expects to be swept away in the Rapture, who doesn't believe in evolution or a woman's right to choose. And via their SUV, wants to project superficial power when they are, in fact, powerless. But Mr. or Mrs. (Ms. doesn't apply) SUV-driving flag-waver, that SUV probably is running on fuel from Arab nations, plus is polluting the atmosphere that God made...er, "6,000 years ago."

I keep on telling myself that by holding such views I am tracking prejudiciously. Perhaps I am, but they fired first.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Judgment To Rush

Now that Rush Limbaugh is in rehab for an addition to prescription painkillers (which, according to reports, he may have purchased without a scrip), it is real easy to jump on the guy for criticizing the permissive drug culture of the 1960, 70s, and even the Clinton White House. I do not like this person, and my dislike of Rush Limbaugh and all he stands for makes it easy to pile on.

Yet let us not do this. He is a human being, and he is in pain. If we too, are human, we should wish him an exorcism of his excesses. I have had my own. Let us debate him and his argumentive inconsistencies when he is best able to meet the challenge. The triumph of our more noble cause will be that much more legitimate.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

My Best Guess

Recall:

Yes 54
No 46

Plan B:

Ahnald 37
Cruz 33-34

Monday, October 06, 2003

"Question Authority?" No, Just Ignore It, He Says

"It stands to reason that self-righteous, inflexible, single minded, authoritarian true believers are politically organized. Open-minded, flexible, complex, ambiguous, anti-authoritarian people would just as soon be left to mind their own fucking business." - R.U. Sirius, from 'How To Mutate and Take Over The World'
Less Than Zero?


I'm just back in my office from a quick trip to Trader Joe's.

I walked by the frozen treats section, and saw several packages of Tofutti.

As is my imperative these days, I read the nutritional label.

Under "dietary fiber," it said, "less than 0g."

I readily admit to culinary and chemistry knowledge deficits, but how is a "less than 0" possible in anything -- especially when you are dealing with a measurement of quantity? Reminds me of the movie of the same name...
Tigers Would

A few days ago, Roy from Siegfried and Roy was critically injured by one of the rare Siberian tigers he and his partner trained from birth.

I am genuinely sorry and sympathetic about the extent of his injuries, and wish him a speedy recovery. And I am aware of the efforts this performing duo has and continues to make on behalf of rare and endangered big cats.

But given that we humans have decimated this species, destroyed much of its habitat, and then raised many members of one of its grander families to perform tricks unnatural to the very fiber of their being, and for our own amusement, it is only a modest stretch of poetic license to anthromorphize what happened as a revolutionary act visited upon our controlling species by a member of another species who reached the breaking point.

This morning, a story came out that noted what happened: Roy wanted the tiger to walk in a certain direction, and the tiger did not want to do this. Roy picked up his microphone and hit the tiger several times. On the sixth time, the tiger had enough, and attacked him.

I could make the point that, well, that tiger was far-better treated than one slaughtered for meat in a deforested jungle. Yes, but living the way nature meant them to be, tigers should, and do, feel free to walk any way and in any direction they want.

That is called freedom. The tiger that mauled Roy was not free.

You see, an imprisoned animal is still imprisoned. No matter how gilded the cage, or noble the mission.

I accept that in this world, which labors under the illusion that all other species are there to serve us, some animals have to be martyrs. Still, I am far more given to accept the interspecial ambassadorship of Jane Goodall, who has studied endangered chimps in their wild habitat for the better part of four decades, rather than someone -- however well-intentioned -- who presents endangered animals as curiosities for the enjoyment of the well-heeled. Hopefully, some of the well-heeled in the audience will take note and vote for politicians who will crack down on tiger-killing deforestation, a true form of terrorism visited upon the earth. But that is too much to hope for.

As an omnivore, who has eaten the flesh of creatures, I readily admit to accusations of hypocrisy, but that's the way I feel.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

On Tracks


In this space, I have mentioned that my goal before the end of this year was to have photos from every Amtrak, light rail, trolley, and tourist train line in Washington and Oregon.

I have excluded those lines that run entirely within parks, museums and gardens, and have no interaction with street traffic. Special trips are also excluded; to me, the particular route must see trains at least four times a year to merit inclusion.

On my photo gallery page, I have now posted links to several photos I took of the Tacoma Link light rail line, and the Toppenish, Simcoe and Western Railroad near Yakima, Wash.

That only leaves the North Pend Oreille Valley Lions Excursion Train Ride.

Unfortunately, that line is a 450- mile drive from my home, and 105 miles from the nearest passenger airport. So we would be talking about a three-day motoring expedition, or a same-day, air, rental car and train ride excursion. There are only two more scheduled trips on that line this year, and I am not sure I can go.

If you really want to be a fundamentalist about it, I am also missing a 16-mile stretch of the Tillamook Bay RR from Mohler to Salmonberry, and about 12 miles on Amtrak from Bellingham to the Canadian border. Hope to get these before the year is out.
WMDs As Fear Factor

All this no-WMD stuff: here is my interpretation: perhaps Saddam used perception of having WMD as a deterrent. And given that bioweapons are quite difficult to make, perhaps his underlings lied about it in inventory reports, so as to not get shot. Wouldn't be the first managers to fudge. Some of both I think. And on this end, and Blair too, the whole escapade has been pushed by neocons who are the true imperialists; those wishing to make money via well, "nation-building" contracts; Armaggedonists who this administration bends over backward to please; keeping the base energized with post 9/11 fear factor politics; a pathological (if somewhat understandable) need not to have another 9/11; bad intelligence apparatus that relies too much on electronic evesdropping and not enough on humint .. all of the above, actually.
(Not So) Secret Agent (Woman)

This outing of Wilson's wife as a CIA agent is treason. Could this have happened without President Rove's at least tacit approval, or, at least a, "if you tell anyone, I don't want to hear about it" admonition to the eventual leaker? And if you want to talk about morality, that act was immoral. Far more immoral than shooting sperm on a dress.
I, Robots.txt

I have noticed that Internet Archive has caused the use of exclusion-enabling robots.txt to take off like wildfire. I know this because I have often used Internet Archive to build links to articles posted on sites I have worked with, but no longer exist.

Increasingly, this is no longer possible. Why?

Reasons vary: the name gets sold, and the new owners want to wipe out all trace of the old domain/business; the business model gets altered and site-minders want the archive wiped clean, sites put more content behind registration or paid barriers, and don't want archive content viewable for free.
Rush Is Right..For Once

I disagree with about 97% of what Rush Limbaugh says, but I concur with a statement he made in a recent Sports Illustrated interview:

"One of the things I love -- and this is something people don't often consider about sports -- is it's the one thing in life in which you can invest total passion without consequence. Try that with a woman."