Wednesday, August 31, 2005

What can you say?

The devastation of Katrina is numbing. What looked like a bullet dodged has turned into probably the worst storm ever to hit the US. Reporters are falling over themselves in superlatives to describe the wreckage, carnage of the situation.

What is causing the knot in my throat, though, is not the enormity of the disaster. It's the smaller scenes that hurt. Descriptions of "(h)undreds of people wandered up and down Interstate 10, pushing shopping carts, laundry racks, anything they could find to carry their belongings. " The human filth that take advantage of destruction and loot. (And don't write to me defending them because of their horrible life situations--I don't want to hear it today.)

Reading a few of the thousands of missing persons posts at the Times-Picayune web site. My grandmother, missing, suffering from dementia. My uncle, a firefighter last seen on top of the high school roof. Entire families missing.

Contemplating the notion of putting aside what are described as hundreds, possibly thousands, of dead bodies in the water to rescue the living, who are still stranded on rooftops. 80,000 of them still stranded, according to the former Mayor. Sit in the boat, sliding through the rivers of filth that the streets of New Orleans have become. Sit on the rooftop. Waiting. Watching. Praying.

At least the folks stranded in the Superdome aren't alone. Oh, most assuredly not. 20,000 folks with full toilets and little food or water in NOLA's summer heat. Soon, they'll be bussed to Houston to another Holidome. It's the best we can do for them right now, apparently.

Mayor Ray Nagin now says that it will be at least 12 to 14 weeks before the city begins to recover, and blames poor coordination of repair and rescue efforts for further delays in that timetable. Of course, many of us are wondering how well the rescue and repair efforts can go, considering that the Bush administration cut so much funding out of the Corp of Engineer's budget (44%) and has pulled so many National Guard into Iraq. Good thing he's left his vacation now to head up efforts to send some relief to NOLA.

Too little, too late Bub. As is all the discussion of Debate: Should a city have been founded in a bowl off a coast where hurricanes dwell regularly? More relevant is Debate: Should we repair such a city with billions of dollar? Except there appears to be no debate; it's a given.

What's not a given are the simplest of needs that are going to go wanting for some time in NOLA. Water. Waste control, otherwise known as a lack of sewage in your back yard. Freedom from typhoid and other waste-borne diseases. Food that hasn't been contaminated by the floods. And shelter that isn't foul and uninhabitable.

The folks down on the coast, they don't need our full hearts or our prayers right now, though. Won't fix those problems, though I'm sure they appreciate both. They need our money.

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Take a constitutional on the Constitution

What a colossal fuckup, this new document that is meant to launch a better nation. Instead of improving lives, the US has midwifed Iraq backwards. That's no mean feat.

Noah Feldman tells us over at the New York Times that we ought to "celebrate" this draft and that concerns are largely "misplaced". Let's draw up a Constitution that takes sets a scenario for taking away his basic rights based on his maleness and see how much he feels like celebrating. Setting up Islam as a or the rule of law in Iraq is a huge mistake and a recipe for civil war.

But don't believe me. Look at who is supporting this Constitution. Head of Iran's Guardian Council Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said, triumphantly responded, ''After years of struggle, an Islamic state has come to power." Not exactly the country I'd want speaking out in support of this document.

At this point, with the Sunnis pushed into the process yet losing out during it, I am hoping Iraq rejects the draft and all go back to the drawing board. At last, the Sunnis seem interested in participating in this process beyond supporting the insurgency. Full participation is the only way we can begin to rectify "this blundering intrusion into another people's history".

Until tomorrow (really, this time,

Katrina and Katrina

Whoa. The Oil Drum says that Katrina will affect US oil prices for months to come, unless we cut consumption by 5%. Like that's going to happen. The theory is that Katrina will cause the loss of one million barrels per day. The US uses 20 million per day. Obviously, if you don't cut consumption, oil becomes more dear and costs a buttload more than it already does.

Buttload would be the technical financial term used in the industry to describe oil costs.

The NYT says that last year, Hurricane Ivan, a lesser storm, caused a 7% cut in oil production in that area, as well as extensively damaging the underground pipelines. We really aren't going to know just how Katrina will affect us (and US) until, as the Times notes, the workers can out to the platforms and eyeball it all.

Anyway, our friends over at The Oil Drum even dropped possible numbers like $4 per gallon. Lovely. Good thing I've been getting my large rear-end used to my bike, because it looks like I'll be riding it around town a whole lot more.

Just heard on the radio that the levees that held through the hurricane are now leaking in NOLA. Crap. There's a big honking leak from Lake Pontchartrain. 80% of the city underwater and some areas up to 20 feet deep? Good lord.

Off to pick up the 8th grader.

Monday, August 29, 2005

So much, so little

That would be so much to talk about, so little time. My children have expressed an interest in me spending time with them this evening, rather than merely seeing the fascinating sight of my face reflecting bluish light.

Target, my fav department store for so many reasons, gives me one more. It will be selling Seventh Generation products. Nice on the environment, and perhaps more friendly to my wallet than buying them at Whole Foods.

Speaking of Target, there was a snotty little article in Slate about it. Maybe New York doesn't deserve a Target. Harrumph.

Speaking of Whole Foods, I'd been patting myself on the back for buying organic and supporting local growers by going there, which I've been told is an important act if I'm serious about environmentally sound living. But there are some concerns regarding Whole Foods not carrying truly local grown goods. And reading this interview of WF's founder didn't reassure me all that much. Think I need to spend more time at the Farmer's Market in town.

Hey, did you hear that scientists may have discovered a solution to that age-old problem: fogged up spectacles? It involves that favorite topic of mine, nanotechnology. I won't bore you with an explanation. OK. I lied. I won't give you the explanation given in the article because I don't exactly understand why it works or what nanotechnology is. But I can see that there are many possible practical applications.

  1. Lovers' Lenses: Insert these lenses in your glasses for long lip locks on humid nights. Avoid that embarrassing drip, drip on the nose from condensation due to, um, overheating.
  2. Pasta Window Protection: You know how annoying it is when you've boiled up a big cauldron of spaghetti and fogged up all the kitchen windows in the process? Well, worry no more. Pasta Window Protection will keep those windows clear and water-free, no matter how many teenagers with voracious appetites you have.
  3. Genius Goggles: A variation on Lovers' Lenses, these goggles will give you clear sight even during the most intense brain storms. Intense thought produces intense perspiration and heat. But who can make great scientific discoveries with their glasses all fogged up? With their Nanotechnological coating, there'll be no need to worry about grabbing for that pen in your pocket protector and pulling the buttons off your lab partner's blouse instead when you're in the midst of testing that important hypothesis.
Last note. Katrina has passed, thankfully. May the death count continue to be low.

Until tomorrow,

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Such a pretty name for such an potentially catastrophically ugly event. How many ways can we count the cost in advance? How many issues turn up?

Oil disaster: The Oil Drum says that apparently a third of the US domestic oil production flows through New Orleans. They've got some model that predicts 73% of Gulf oil production could be cut for less than 10 days, 40% of oil production could be cut for 10-30 days, and 23% cut for over 30 days. How's that for a challenge to your pocketbook? My husband filled up on his way home from the Cubs game this afternoon, and avoided several stations in Chicago that were selling for $3.

Environmental disaster: The National Weather Service is predicting huge losses of trees in the area. The loss of trees and continued battering will exacerbate the already-dangerous erosion of coastal lands. Short piece here about how devastating Category 4 and 5 hurricanes are to the environment. Too bad the Coast 2050 plan hasn't really been implemented yet. Hope there's something left to save.

Global warming and hurricanes: Interestingly enough, there was a seminar held in Washington DC in June. It was the American Meteorological Society’s Environmental Science Seminar Series: New Orleans, Hurricanes and Climate Change: A Question of Resiliency. Wonder how many folks attended, particularly those politicos from NOLA? Hope enough to make a difference.
Loss of life: Makes it sound mighty clinical, doesn't it? The last Category 5 hurricane to hit Louisiana, Camille (which hit in 1969), killed 258 folks. That flier I referenced, above, estimates there are over 57,000 people in the area without cars. How, exactly, do these people evacuate? God. Hope the relatively early warning gets people out safely.

And have you actually looked at the radar? Jesus. Get out of there, people.

Off to watch it all on tv.

Until tomorrow,

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Get out of Iraq now?

True blue liberal here saying, nope. I don't think so. Just as withdrawal is not such a great birth control device, leaving just enough room for error (or little spermies) to penetrate and cause big (say, 9lbs, 14ozs) problems, leaving Iraq now leaves way too much room for error.

We've got to differentiate between whether or not the US should have gone to war in Iraq and whether or not we should leave Iraq now that we've blundered about for a year or two. I've spent lots of time bitching and moaning about us having gone to war in the first place. We shouldn't have. Bad decision made on bad information and multilayered lies. Bush sucks. Etc.

But we're there. So what do we do now?

I've been following a interesting back and forth on Democracy Arsenal between Heather Hurlburt and Michael Kraig. The notion that we will actually see a working cohesive single Iraqi government seems slippery and ephemeral on the best of days. The notion that the Middle East will survive warless with a confederated Iraq in its midst seems illusory, as well.

So what does the US do now? Juan Cole's oft quote blogpost Ten Things Congress Could Demand from Bush on Iraq assumes a cohesive single Iraqi government won't work, so provides a girder of US forces to prop it up until it can work on its own, while stategically withdrawing troops where troops are hurting us the most, with the goal being getting the US out of Iraq without civil war or major destabilization of the Middle East.

But I dunno. I know this guy knows a hell of a lot more than I'll ever forget about the Middle East. And I agree with much of what he says. For instance, Cole suggests that only Iraqi companies should be receiving reconstruction funds from the US (rather than Halliburton) to immediately revive the Iraq economy. That's a no brainer.

And the amnesty for all former Baath Party members is intriguing. Steve Clemons points out over at Talking Points Memo that the US did something similar to this in Japan after WWII.

But his plan regarding troop withdrawal still sounds like pie in the sky to me. Sure, he's not expecting the pie to float up there all by its lonesome. But it seems to me his plan has a lot of holes. For example, the US ground troops pull out of urban areas then out of Iraq in general, but would continue to provide air strike support against guerrillas. The theory is that the US sucks as a police force (adding to the general hatred against America), but could quell a civil war.

So the US troops can't keep the peace but we can force peace down guerrilla insurgent's throats? I think we're a bit past the point of remaking our image in this way. And I don't see how troops that can't quell small insurgencies will manage to quell big ones.

Over at the NY Times, another country was heard from: the oil-spot strategy. The basic idea is the US commits massive amounts of ground troops to make chosen areas safe, one strategic town at a time, rather than running insurgents down here and there. As areas are secured, the safe haven spreads.

Apparently, the problem with this approach (and the reason it hasn't been followed thus far) is that it requires a commitment of troops the US won't (or can't) make. And it makes that exit row look awfully far away, which is clearly not what the American people want.

My view? I'm not sure the US could make this work, even with a larger commitment of troops. It assumes that "the people" of Iraq can be persuaded to work together with us as one once they see what a big happy family we could all be if we do so. Isn't anyone else watching the Sunnis, Kurds, and Shiites working on the Constitution together? Happy family is so not happening there.

So what is the Liz T-G solution for this particular Middle East crisis of our own making, given that I'm rejecting solutions by far better minds than mine?
  • Set up a firm time-table for troop withdrawal, so that all involved are assured that the US is leaving.
  • Have our government make nice with all surrounding nations to keep the area as stable as possible.
  • Throw Halliburton out on its ear and rewrite the US law so that only Iraqi companies are getting reconstruction funds, thus throwing a bit of money in the coffers of a country we've maimed through this war.
  • Stop forcing Happy Family Country down Iraq's throat. Acknowledge its nature of confederation (if we're lucky) and do your best to write a Constitution that gives all involved the opportunity to choose something other than civil war when the US leaves.
Until tomorrow,

Thursday, August 25, 2005

States making Sense

It's a miracle. Governmental officials in the United States acknowledging that there's an environmental problem and it's called "greenhouse emissions"? Leaders in the United States agreeing to meet the Kyoto emissions reductions? Laws aimed at reducing those emissions by up to 30% by adopting greenhouse-gas standards for vehicles? Is Bush finally becoming a true environmentalist, rather than a cowboy riding roughshod over America?

Nah. The states are stepping up and stepping right over the Feds in the fight against global warming. In the Northeast, 9 states are joining together in a Kyoto-like plan to reduced emissions--a 10% reduction by 2020. Out west, apparently 5 more states are considering a plan to do likewise. Hell, Arizona is one of them. Not exactly a tree-huggers paradise.

Interestingly enough, these Northeastern renegade states are led by, gasp, Republicans. NY Gov George Pataki is described as playing a "leading role" in these plans. More positioning for the next election, or a true commitment to environmental issues? I dunno. Haven't done much research into Pataki. Posturing or not, this pact is moving the US in the right direction, even if we have to drag the Bush administration kicking and screaming along for the ride.

Grist had a great article last month about how states are leading the nation, environmentally speaking. It mentions the 170 mayors who have "pledged to adopt Kyoto targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions". Richie Daley got good press in this article (at a time when he really needed it around Chicago) for consistently implementing environmentally sound policies that financially sounds, too.

How can the Bush administration continue to reject Kyoto on the grounds that it's going to ruin the US economy in the face of places like Portland, Oregon? Portland has already meet the Kyoto greenhouse-gas standards by cutting its emissions to 1990 levels without ruining its economy.

Will what works in Portland work everywhere? Perhaps not. But seems like the rest of the world thinks it's worth a try. When will the administration stop being ruled by oil interests and big business interests? When Bush is gone? Do we really have to wait until 2008 to make some progress? Not if local and state governments continue to make this kind of progress.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Hello all. I'm back from a long, leisurely vacation in Michigan. Upper lower Michigan. Just outside of Elk Rapids, to be more precise. On Grand Traverse Bay, to be even more exacting. Ahhh.

My parents have retired to this area after our family vacationed here for most of the past 35+ years. This area has always seemed like my geographical home. In my dreams, I still see (with alarming regularity) the landscape across the Bay from the cottages we rented every year. Didn't really mind when my parents sold the home they raised us in last year. Losing the Bay, losing up north? That I'd mind.

Each summer, we spent three weeks at Pine Hollow. Often, the same families rent cottages, year after year. Days were gloriously the same: breakfast, play in the water, lunch, play in the water, dinner, play in the water, bonfire, bed. The grownups seemed to spend all of their time on the beach, too. Working on your tan wasn't politically incorrect, nor considered dangerous. So that's what they did, in addition to reading copious amounts of books.

I've turned into my parents, which is no surprise to most of us as we age. I spend my vacations doing the same thing: reading and sitting in the sun. Only difference between my summer and my parent's summer? I wear sun screen and pretend to be unhappy when I brown.

So I am word-whacked. Book-dazed. Drunk on the written word--and I don't mean The Word. The whole world seems fuzzy after a week or two of constant reading. And I confess to spending very little time contemplating the world during this paper frenzy. So it was a bit crushing to my teeny weeny fuzzy-headed little spirit to encounter this week's stupidities: Pat Robertson and the Return of the War on Terror.

Apparently Pat apologized today, after calling for the assassination of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier this week. That was after he denied saying "assassination", despite the fact it was caught on video tape. Always nice to catch the right wing looking as stupid as they sound to me.

Then your President takes a brief sabbatical from his sabbatical to speak to a group of vets, telling them we must stay the course to keep faith with those who have already died over there. "We owe them something," Mr. Bush said. "We will finish the task that they gave their lives for." We owe soldiers who died in an errant war based on information full of lies and misdirection a continuation of that war with more deaths?

Is that the kind of logic they teach at Yale?

Well, I've been shaken out of my semantic stupor. I'm home and have bought groceries, registered children for school, sent teenage boy to driver's ed, and read my newsreader. Ah well. So summer goes. And so, too, goes my sense of calm and well-being.

Until tomorrow (truly!),

Thursday, August 11, 2005

He grieves

Our President conveyed a message via the press to Cindy Sheehan today. Cindy Sheehan is the mother of a soldier killed in Baghdad in 2004. She's currently camped out near Bush's vacationland, trying to get him to meet with her for one hour. Bush refuses to do so, having met with Sheehan in June 2004. But he says that he "grieves" for those soldiers who have died in Iraq. Not only does he grieve, but "(i)t breaks my heart to think about a family weeping over the loss of a loved one. I understand the anguish that some feel about the death that takes place."

I know that there's really little that Bush would say that would make me happy at this point, short of rolling over and playing dead, admitting he stole the election and lied to the world. But this statement seems so pitifully little and misguided. I do not care, nor do I imagine Cindy Sheehan cares, whether or not Bush "grieves" the losses of those 1845 US soldiers who've died thus far. I don't even care if he grieves the 23,000+ civilian Iraqi losses thus far. His grief is not at issue, nor is it THE issue.

And sweet Jesus. You'd think if he WAS going to make this kind of statement, someone would at least script it for him so he did it well. He understands the anguish that
some feel about the death that takes place? Some? I'm going to go out on a limb here, and take a guess that everyone within a family feels anguish in such a situation.

Big leap of logic, I know.

But, again, I don't much care how Bush
feels about all of the death that has been caused by this war on terror. What I do care about deeply is what he does about all the death that has been caused by this war on terror. And, as far as I can tell from reading about Cindy Sheehan, that's all she wants to hear about, too.

Keep your grief to yourself, George. True or false, it's demeaning to this woman who truly knows grief. Give her answers, not pap.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Toto, we're not in Oz anymore!

Is Kansas on another planet? Mars, maybe? Or possibly Kansas is its own planet, spinning in its own solar system? Do people actually think on planet Kansas? Ack, ack, ack.

The Kansas Board of Education is in the end process of approving changes in their science standards. Apparently the new standards would not require teaching creationism. But they would eliminate teaching evolution as a core theory, encouraging teachers to discuss other viewpoints.

What other viewpoints? Enlighten me, folks. What other
scientific viewpoints are there in this realm? Oh, of course. The aforementioned intelligent design viewpoint. Which is not creationism. Oh, no. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. How can we slip some religious viewpoints into the secular education of our children? I know. Let's rename creationism and try to convince folks that it's a scientific viewpoint, not a religious belief.

Bible as scientific authority is a slippery slope leading nowhere good for those who prefer their science scientific, their schools secular, and their lives unscathed by the religious right.
Kevin Drum makes a similar point over at Political Animal.

There's a fascinating website called Intelligent Design network, which discusses the purported scientific-ness of Intelligent Design. It says, "The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion."

This seems to me definition by word use alone. That is, if you use a word in describing something, it must be accurate. So if you use the word "scientific" or "theory" in the definition of intelligent design, then intelligent design must be a scientific theory. Apparently, it also lends credence if you CAPITALIZE the belief.

This site goes on to helpfully explain that "Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the "messages," and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation."

My translation of this is:
  • something can only make sense if (S)omeone made sense of it
  • if there's no law explaining it, (S)omeone must have made it happen
Or the short version: Design can't exist without a designer.

Once again, on a belief level, I'm in Kansas. I think. Mostly. I see design as coming from a Designer. But that's my belief, based on my barely religious viewpoint that there is a Designer of some nature or essence. There's no science behind that belief--merely my observations and wishes. It just seems so, so I believe it may BE so.

Please don't tell me that children in Kansas are going to be taught pseudo science based on what SEEMS so.

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Hidden costs of the war has a godawful story about vets suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the further trauma our government is inflicting upon them. Apparently, it's not enough that these soldiers go to war, kill others, and watch others being killed. Once they come home, battered and bruised both physically and mentally, the government is preparing to fight with them over money.

The short story is the government is making 72,000 Iraq war vets receiving PTSD payments reprove their worthiness. The government believes there may be as much as
2.5% of vets who have previously been judged claimworthy for PTSD who received that designation through fraud. Boy. 2.5%. That's a shockingly high figure. Certainly worth further traumatizing 72,000 vets by making them go through the claims process all over again.

I wonder who had this bright idea. "Hey, let's balance the US budget on the backs of those who are fighting, or have fought, in Iraq." Guess Bush et al didn't consider that these vets might cost us something once they return from battle. Assuming they do return, of course. Perhaps the government was just assuming a higher death count so less cost overruns in the VA department.

The current cost of the war thus far is about $186,000,000,000. But this does not include future care of returning vets. UPI reported that "as many as 1 of every 10 soldiers from the war on terror evacuated to the Army's biggest hospital in Europe was sent there for mental problems." So it would seem that the costs of the post-war era will continue to rise.

In a related note, Newsweek had a story a few weeks back about how PTSD appears to be affecting more women vets than men, and affecting them more harshly. Often these women have been sexually violated in some way prior to their service, then sometimes abused, violated, or harassed during their service, as well. Lovely.

I'm a little scattered this evening. Sorry. I can't conceive of why people actually support this war. Most war. Devastation upon devastation to all involved: men, women, children, countries, land. Devastation that will last generations. For what? Oil? Revenge?

Until tomorrow,

Monday, August 08, 2005


We were sitting around a campfire in Minnesota this weekend. Sounds very woodsy and outdoorsy, but it wasn't really. No actual camping was involved. No soggy sleeping bags bunched around my feet. No mosquito-infested tents buzzing me awake into the wee hours of the morning. Thank goodness, our Rochester friends (A and P) consider roughing it equivalent to having a remote-less TV.

Nevertheless, we WERE sitting around a campfire. Singing campfire songs. Singing those old classics: something about a big bunchy butt and what's in my purse--certainly appropriate song topics for P, lone male around the fire along with five girls and two moms. P is a seasoned veteran of inappropriate gender topics, tough. Can't imagine much fazes him after he made it through the discussion of perimenopausal flooding . . . .

So, there we were sitting around a campfire. Singing campfire songs. And making the ubiquitous s'mores over said campfire. Did you know that everyone has their own special, possibly patented, method of making the best s'more ever? Usually, this involves the exact placement of the marshmallow in the campfire and the extent to which said marshmallow is warmed, roasted, browned or burned. All possible methods were demonstrated on this particular evening, and all possible tastes were presumably satiated.

And we were still sitting around a campfire. Near the edge of a little woods. A copse, perhaps. A glade. Not a big woods. Certainly not the Big Woods, as those would be in Wisconsin. But some woods. And suddenly, out of the woods, while we were sitting around the campfire, minding our own darn business, came a noise. A loud noise. Which was quite startling to those of us who hadn't heard it before.

Sitting in the dark. With our backs to the woods. City slickers surprised.

So we're sitting around the campfire. And the noise is this short, guttural barky-like sound. But definitely not doggy-like barks. Not woof-woof. Not yip-yip-yip. And certainly not yap. It was, rather, a baritone I'm opening my mouth and throat wide enough to eat you in one swell foop kind of bark.

Possibly, this is a slight exaggeration on my part. A more accurate description would be a blat. A loud Blat.

After various members of the party reacted in stereotypical ways (I'm not clear, but there may have been a shriek or two), and after we ascertained that there was no beast lurking around the fringes of the fire, we fell to pondering what might be producing such a Blat. A, the other mom, had actually seen the beast and felt it was a fox. Can't remember what P thought. I was pushing for coyote, personally. I thought it was a canine-like sound. And, while this clearly wasn't Fifi the Poodle yodeling, it definitely had doggy potential.

Well, we never came to any conclusion. Eventually, we came in and headed off to bed. Some of us went to sleep. Some of us were teenagers and do not seem to know the meaning of the word "sleep". Much later, some of us were awakened from a dead sleep by a repetition of the noise. "Blat." "Blat." "Blat." Perhaps some animal hocking up an enormous furball?

The Blatter seemed quite close to my upstairs window. A cursory glance out the window proved to me that it was not, in fact, climbing the trellis to eat me up. So I hopped out of bed and trotted down to look out the front door. Intrepid IS my middle name.

I wasn't alone in awake department, as the us who were teenagers were giggling in the bedroom next to mine. And A, like me, had been awakened by the obnoxious, sleep-deprived Blatter and was chatting with the us who were teenagers. P slept on, apparently oblivious and derelict in his masculine duty to protect us from scary noises.

Alas, there was nothing to see, once I got to the front door. The Blatter had moved on, trying to expel his furball on another block. So we all went back to bed. And some of us went back to sleep.

In the light of day, I became obsessed (as I have been known to do) with discovering the true identity of the Blatter. P does a very accurate imitation of the Blat, and I wanted him to take his imitation on the road to the local nature center for a diagnosis. He wasn't eager, surprisingly enough. So we persuaded him to google us some jpegs of animal sounds.

Eventually, after an amusing half an hour of various and sundry animal noises, A proved correct in her identification of animal vocalizations: it was, indeed, a fox. Apparently, it was not just any old fox noise. It was a Territorial Vocalization. And A, with her keen ear for nature sounds, honed by years of living in the wilds of Minnesota, knew instinctively just what she had been listening to. While I, small village Michiganian/urban Illinoisan that I am, having never been privileged enough to have this wilderness exposure, misidentified the vulpinian noise.

I was just a bit chagrined by this correct identification. And A was perhaps just a bit overzealous in her celebration of it. She pointed out, oh, maybe 20 times during the next 24 hours that she had correctly identified the Blatter. Not that there's anything wrong with that pride. Oh, no. What Minnesota mama wouldn't want to be known as the correct identifier of a primary vocalization of a fox?

The things that can happen at a campfire . . . .

Until tomorrow,

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Heap burnings coals on his head?

That new "environmental" pact I wrote about on 27 July is finally getting some coverage, however non-mainstream. Grist Magazine calls it "long on PR, short on substance". What a surprise, coming from the current administration. John McCain said "The [Asia-Pacific] pact amounts to nothing more than a nice little public-relations ploy. It has almost no meaning. They aren't even committing money to the effort, much less enacting rules to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions."

This all sounds, on further reading, like a huge marketing ploy by Australia and the US to sell supposedly "clean" coal-burning technologies. It also continues to sound like a huge waste of ink, from the Green perspective, as countries will set their own greenhouse gas emission standards, with no enforcement from any particular party. Can you say wuss pact?

Too bad. Timing would be good for a real pact truly dedicated to improving the environment. Even the astronauts on Discovery noted the damage to the earth in their travels. Be interesting to hear the administration's spin on that one.

I'm also waiting to hear the spin on the continuing human crisis in Iraq. Of course, we've basically got the military crisis under control. Just a few insurgents causing trouble here and there. But the UN recently published a report on what's happening to the Iraqi people during the war on terrorism. Or are we calling it Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism today?

Iraq by the numbers:
  • 1/4 of Iraq's children suffer from malnutrition
  • 40% of urban households report sewage in the streets because of a large decline in sanitation conditions
  • nearly 1/2 of women "think that the security in their area has worsened compared to one year ago."
  • more children have been injured during the US invasion than military-aged men
And all of these numbers are worse than before the US came to free Iraqis. Amazingly horrible, eh?

I'm off to Minnesota for the weekend, visiting friends who are just as fed up as I am with Bush, this administration, and this war. I predict lively conversation and late nights. :-)

Until Sunday,

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Intelligent design by Bush

There are just so many bad jokes waiting to be told about this story. But they'd all be funnier if the Leader of the free world wasn't George Bush. Then again, almost anything would be funnier if Dubya wasn't President. KWIM?

In a sit down round table with a bunch of cronies, er, Texas reporters, Bush opined that schools should be teaching "intelligent design" in addition to evolution. According to this article intelligent design means "life on earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a higher power must have had a hand in creation".

While I was painting my music room today, my husband and I had a chat about various and sundry, including this topic. Great minds agreed, so we must be right. Evolution is a scientific theory. A student might run into it in biology or earth science. Intelligent design is a philosophy--or a religious viewpoint. A student might run into it in philosophy or religion.

There is no reason to teach intelligent design alongside evolution, because it's apples and oranges. This is just the latest in the multitudinous attempts of the religious right to get evolution knocked down a peg and get God knocked up a peg. Not that I'm suggesting they want to get God knocked up or anything . . . . Hmm.

During the interview, Bush said, "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought." Do you think that happened to him at Yale? I'm guessing the only school of thought he was exposed to at Yale was the theory of "party hearty". Or perhaps "embrace mediocrity". Clearly, he didn't attend any classes in logic. What a different world we might be living in had he done so.

Too tired to be chipper, cheerful or wry this evening. Paul Hackett lost in Ohio. Not a surprise, but still a disappointment. Good news is Hackett ran a good race and ran it as a bold Democrat. Yes!

Until tomorrow,