Wednesday, January 31, 2007

We Can Stop Their Spying Eyes

And the Electronic Frontier Foundation has just the form to counter BIG MONEY's* Lobbying efforts against such a Constitutional necessity.

Tell Congress to Investigate the NSA Spying Program

Over five years since it first began, the NSA's massive domestic spying program remains shrouded in secrecy. Recently, the Bush Administration announced that it has let the shadowy FISA court review the program, but that's not enough -- the President must abide by the law and answer to the traditional court system, Congress, and the American public. Use the form below and demand immediate Congressional investigations.

Three federal courts have already rejected the government's bogus arguments and allowed cases to go forward regarding the secret surveillance. With its back against the wall, the Administration has finally conceded that judicial review should be involved at some level.

That's welcome news, but the President is still trying to dodge meaningful oversight. While claiming that the secret FISA court orders legalize the program, the Administration has refused to let anyone else see the orders and confirm key details about what they permit. EFF is skeptical that they actually satisfy the strict requirements of current statutes or the Fourth Amendment, considering the broad program of dragnet surveillance alleged in our case against AT&T for its role in the program.

Congress must do its job and help uncover the truth about the program. Take action now to protect the checks and balances that define our democracy.

* I call out "BIG MONEY" here because the folks for whom Bu$hCo is working don't care about the details of how their bought-boy's (and girls, of course) go about their business. They just want their ability to run their business around the world and as they see fit. Screw any Liberties, Rights, Freedoms which don't curtail the consumers' ability to spend Spend SPEND to the end.

To be sure,
Under capitalism man exploits man. And under Communism it is just the reverse. That's what you get with any system which isn't regulated via Reason and constant Refinement as the system evolves.


How To Help Congress End the War

Just another quickie to follow up on yesterday Feingold post.

This is the Progressive Patriots Fund newsletter from last night. Excellent stuff and I def did sign on.


Today I am chairing a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Congress's constitutional power to end a war. It's far past time for the war in Iraq - one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in our nation's history - to end and for our troops to be safely redeployed. Because the President has abdicated his responsibility for far too long, it is now up to Congress to get our country back on track.

But I can't do it alone. I need your help to demonstrate the public support for using the "power of the purse" to force this administration to begin to redeploy our troops from Iraq. I hope you'll join me by co-sponsoring my resolution to redeploy our troops.

Click here to sign on as a citizen co-sponsor

While I will vote for the non binding resolution being offered against the so-called "troop surge" - as I already did in Committee - we all know that much more needs to be done. Congress holds the purse strings and if the President continues to move forward with his failed Iraq policy, we have the responsibility to use that power to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq.

Today's hearing will help inform my colleagues, and the public about Congress's power to end a war and how that power has been used in the past. I will soon be introducing legislation to use the "power of the purse" to end what is clearly one of the greatest mistakes in the history of our nation's foreign policy.

Click here to sign on as a citizen co-sponsor

Our open-ended presence in Iraq encourages the insurgency, and adding more troops with no end date in sight only adds more fuel to the fire. There is no higher foreign policy priority than making America safer and getting our nation back on track by redeploying our troops out of Iraq. Once again, I hope you'll consider co-sponsoring my resolution. As always, thank you for your support.


Russ Feingold
United States Senator
Honorary Chair, Progressive Patriots Fund

P.S. I've recorded a new video podcast on Congress's power to end the war using the "power of the purse" – be sure to visit our website to check it out!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Living in the Pre-UK

I read a little about this discovery towards the end of last year. Now we get more details and, as is always the case with anthropology and archaeology, now there's even more to wonder about.


Ancient complex discovered near Stonehenge
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
3:02 PM PST, January 30, 2007

The henge, about 1,400 feet in diameter, enclosed a series of concentric rings of huge timber posts. The team now knows that the posts mimicked Stonehenge in all particulars save one — its orientation.

Stonehenge is aligned with sunrise at the summer solstice and sunset at the winter solstice. The henge at Durrington Walls is the exact opposite, aligned with sunrise at the winter solstice and sunset at the summer solstice.

The evidence from the houses indicates that there was a massive mid-winter celebration marking the solstice to complement the summer celebration at Stonehenge.

The team excavated eight houses at the site and magnetic anomalies indicate that there are at least 25 more nearby, Pearson said. "My guess is that there are many more than that," he said. In fact, the entire valley appears to have been densely populated, he said.

The relatively flimsy wattle and daub walls of the houses are long gone. What remains are the densely packed clay floors. "These are the first ones we have found with intact clay floors from this period," Pearson said.

"The houses are virtually square, no bigger than the average sitting room — about 14 feet by 14 feet," he said.

They feature a central fireplace, an oval hearth sunk into the floor. Slight indentations around the walls mark the location of timber fittings for box beds and a dresser that stood opposite the door.

[Hop on into the Way Back Machine folks]


From a Senator who won't run for President but, in my opinion, has the most integrity for that august position of anyone on the Hill.

Breaking Another Iraq Taboo


Americans are not looking to Congress to pass symbolic measures, they are looking to us to stop the President's failed Iraq policy. That is why we must finally break this taboo that somehow Congress can't talk about using its power of the purse to end the war in Iraq. The Constitution makes Congress a co-equal branch of government. It's time we start acting like it. We have a moral responsibility, as well as a responsibility to the brave troops whose lives are on the line, to end the war. We can and must force the President to safely redeploy our troops so that we can get back to focusing on those who attacked us on 9/11.

Tomorrow, I will be chairing a full Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War." This hearing will help remind my colleagues in the Senate and the American public that Congress is not powerless - even when it acts that way. We have the power to stop the policies of a President that continue to hurt our national security. Soon after tomorrow's hearing, I will introduce legislation to do just that.

Now go read what he's up against...

Monday, January 29, 2007

On So Many Levels

Retro got me shakin' m' noggin' at some crazy 80's goofballery (err, thanks? lol!) but while on teh 'Tube, I quickly found another variety of Crazy to cleanse my musical palette.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Shiny Baubles

'Twas gold which brought twin towers
from wings of steel
through kerosene fueled clouds
'Twas gold, though black and crude

'Twas naught but heavy
empty wealth
which to this day resounds
in halls of power
trading blood
for oil

And still is that
which brings us all
to ground beneath dark soil

in steady cadences
6 billion now abound
within our own lone sacks of skin
our own accounts

less than nihilist
does all this sorrow
resolve for what
can not
come next
defers concerns
for Peace on Earth

Gold distracts believers
shiny baubles
luring thought away
leaving devotions secure
for the delusional
to entertain themselves
while shadows
close upon


I'm sorry that I can't capture the painting very aesthetically. After 5 attempts (this time around) on my little 300kb phone-cam, I finally decided that this would have to do.

It was a gift from a wonderful no-longer-red-state blogger buddy o' mine. Well, her husband is the painter, so I s'pose I owe the Skimmer the apology for my poor presentation of his excellent work.

Regardless of all that, many are the times I've sat pondering this painting as I sit at my computer, wondering of what to post, or who to read next. Abundant are the thoughts which go through my mind on what the colors mean, why the fade below, the separation from the blue skies above? Often I sadly imagine those damned planes flying into the scene, obscuring again the amazing achievement of human artifice which both brought them into being and, then more tragically (and recently too,) brought both those towers and the illusions of invincibility of a great nation crumbling to the earth. Changed forever.

I'm more of a lyricist than a poet so I tend to make my poetry without any standard metrics guiding it. I write and re-write each line as they come to me, and then work the whole to flow as feels most relevant to whatever theme they're describing. All I'm getting at is that I know that's a bit "unskilled", but it came to me and feels right as a description of a majority of my thoughts whilst viewing the painting.

I hope, though the thoughts are indeed sad and not resolved, that the poem manages to effectively convey my feelings about the painting, as well as on the state of my nation and the world of folk at large.


Ehren Watada: American Hero

Here's another one of those Op-Eds I'd like to share in full.

If anyone reading here made your way to D.C. on Saturday, please feel free to share your experience or a link to your own blog about such.

Good mornin' all!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Watada points out our responsibilities


If Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada has some extra hope this morning about ending the Iraq war, Americans can take a little credit. Toward the end of last week, the 28-year-old officer who courageously refused orders to go to Iraq was hoping for good turnouts in anti-war events planned for Saturday in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

After four years of quiescence in the face of a wrongly launched war that has gone from "Mission Accomplished" to what a top commander finally confessed is a "dire" situation, Americans ought to demand a change of course. Change requires more public involvement than voting out a few congressional incumbents. National protest organizers hoped for up to 300,000 people to march Saturday.

Watada has had the courage to point out citizens' responsibilities. As he awaits a court-martial beginning Feb. 5 for acting responsibly and refusing to serve in what he regards as an illegal war (he volunteered to go to Afghanistan instead), Watada is allowed to travel up to 250 miles from Fort Lewis. He has been telling groups in Seattle, Tacoma and elsewhere that citizens have the power to end the war.

His honesty isn't surprising, and asking people to take responsibility doesn't at all go beyond what Watada expects of himself. When most of the country was still following President Bush's post-Sept. 11 admonitions to go shopping, Watada decided to enlist in a delayed-entry program while he wrapped up studies at Hawaii Pacific University.

As we went to war, Watada believed the false talk about imminent danger to the United States and weapons of mass destruction. His views changed as he read up on Iraq in preparation, as he put it, to be a better leader of troops under his command. Instead, the growing knowledge led him to become the only commissioned officer known to refuse Iraq duty, acknowledging from the start that he might have to carry the imprisonment that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other practitioners of civil disobedience felt was their responsibility to accept in calling attention to wrongful government policy. In Watada's case, the prison time could be as much as six years.

Watada talks about a small group that regularly protests in Seattle. But, he asks, "Where are the other 600,000 people in Seattle?"

More than anything, I wanted to know from Watada what he thought others of us should be doing. He starts with where his journey began: learning about our country's actions. Then there is the matter of doing something. Action certainly started with the November elections (although, as Watada points out, the turnout means only a limited number of people sent any message).

Without more pressure on national leaders, it's not safe to assume they will change the country's course. The Iraq Study Group's bipartisan recommendations to start withdrawal planning got tossed. Generals seem willing to complain publicly about missteps, but only after they have their pensions. Unless better in the way of preventing needless deaths of U.S. troops and Iraqis is demanded by the public, members of Congress likely will settle for -- at best -- resolutions of disapproval for the war's escalation. Non-binding resolutions will just draw snarling dismissals from Vice President Dick Cheney. But maybe members of Congress think they can satisfy voters by saying, see, we told the president what a mistake he was making.

Watada said, "No longer can we say, 'Oh, the Democrats will take care of it. Or, the peace activists will take care of it' " and simply go about our lives.

Staffers to politicians have told him that their bosses listen to the public. "But you know what, if it is the same person calling over and over," the call is very easy to dismiss, he said.

He thinks more individuals need to speak up, and organizations -- churches, labor unions, student groups and faculties -- need to lend their voices. And he thinks the public should tell big donors to speak on their behalf and demand the media go beyond their "lazy and inadequate attempt to cover the news."

As someone occasionally shocked by the behavior of fellow Vietnam war protesters, I wondered how a conscientious young soldier of this generation looked at street demonstrations: Will protest lead to the kind of divisions and lack of regard for U.S. troops seen during Vietnam? "That is why knowledge is first and foremost," Watada said. "We need to come together as Americans." We need to understand, he said, that simply being there is inflaming rather than improving Iraq.

Watada is idealistic enough to expect a lot of people to act. He has been disappointed in the amount of attention his case has received in most of the media. But, he said, "I think my stand and my case have raised the level of awareness and thinking about what we are doing in Iraq and what our soldiers are being forced to do."

Beyond knowledge, though, is action, whether it is writing a letter, making a call or getting out of our chairs to make our views known.

Joe Copeland is an editorial writer and member of the P-I Editorial Board. E-mail:

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Philosphical -v- Empirical Knowledge

If I don't promise myself to be brief, I'll end up saving this as draft and not be able to share something I think is very important vis-a-vie some comments regarding the "Smokers' Weak Point Identified" article on which I posted*.

The comments which prompted this post were both logical and sensible in their call for caution, or their expressed revulsion at the idea of hacking our brains to keeps us from doing other, perhaps less damaging or repugnant, things to our bodies.

While I've really no disagreement with either of those admonitions, I don't really think that anything in the article suggested anything like what they were cautioning against. I probably should have been more articulate in my presentation, but since I wasn't then, I hope that I can be so now, and perhaps clear up any misunderstandings. Of course, it's quite possible that there weren't any of those. Caution is after all an exemplary feature of any research involving the understanding of a biological structure as complex and extraordinary as the brain of Homo Sapiens.

I feel the need to start with a reminder that the man in the article had accidental damage occur via a stroke which destroyed a portion of his brain. Annihilating that part of the brain is emphatically not what the findings suggest as a cure for the addiction to smoking which ensnares millions of people, just like me, the world over. My excitement is that the episode, well documented and supportive of previous discoveries vis-a-vie the brain's architecture, provides knowledge of the results of our brains' components in a direct and extraordinarily definitive manner. Similar occurrences are what gave rise to the research discussed at the end of the Guardian article which I quoted in full.

This is knowledge without which we would continue to be utterly in the dark about the physiological processes which make so many folks be as we are when it comes to giving up Cancer Sticks and other deadly addictions. (I'll leave Dr Dawkins to argue - quite convincingly, IMO - that religion fits in that category quite well.)

I've stated before my understanding that Philosophy can only illuminate so much, and when it fails to provide readily apparent conclusions, a failure it must always face to some extent, it leaves our fantastically intellectual capacities open, in the form of our imaginations, to the perversions of Religious Beliefs; results of fear out of our ignorance which, whilst naturally evolved to console and defend (and entertain?) our psyches, have the ultimate result of keeping our minds from securing the empirical reasons for the "demons" which confront us.

As with removing tonsils, an organ which, once along the path of human evolution, was required for staving off infections, but has since become (possibly during our rising from quad to bipedalism) more a cause than a cure for such phenomena, occluding biological functions may or may not be the Best Thing for everyone.

The findings in the Science study give me hope because they give us knowledge beyond the philosophical realm of educated guesswork. They provide actual empirical evidence which can be considered in order to supply more efficacious means of treatment for folks who Will Die or, at the very least, lead horribly infected lives because "praying for strength" is a placebo which quite simply, and via ubiquitous demonstrations, is absolutely worthless to so many of us.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and it's readily apparent that we often have need for crutches to get us through a time of healing. I think its easily agreed that the invention of crutches follows from the necessity of their function. Just as aspirin (or analgesics in general) dull pain so that we can be more relaxed and allow our bodies to heal naturally with more effectiveness, it's my great hope, my belief even, that drugs which may result from this line of research will provide folk the time and release from philosophical pain we need to Do the things we know that we must, naturally and of our own - often extremely tenuous - Free Will.


* Silly Humans is my original, and still primary, blog. It's the place where the referenced post can be found.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

. . . it was only a kiss . . .

So I had this dream where I kissed my friend, lightly, on the lips. No biggy, right? She asked me, "why?" and kissed me again, the same way. Then again...

I got cold sweats and woke up.

There's nothing there. Not like that anyway.

I'm back to thinking 'bout goin' to the UU church my sister attends. I simply need more friends...

Friday, January 19, 2007

A State of Trance

Whilst my clubbin' buddy would look at me aghast and wonder just what the hekk I've been smoking, this show from Wolfgang's Vault is taking me to just such a groovy internal place.

Shake, Oh! Shake It Sugaree!

If'n you need a little more assistance trippin' down memory lane, here's some pics of a nearby show on the same tour.

Thanks again to mi 'migo Jack for turnin' me on to this site. You'll need to provide an eddress to check it, but the only drawback seems to be that they'll then let you know, once a week so far, when more good stuff is available.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Google Goodies - Fantastic Photos

I've made Google my Home Page because of all the neato little gizmos you can add. There're the typical Headlines and Scores and such, but my favorite part is the Tabbed Pages.

This picture is from a gizmo called Interesting Photos of the Day which I've included on my Fun Stuff tab. The gizmo cycles through presumably random Flickr photos and clicking on the currently showing pic takes you to that photographer's photostream.

Thats how I found this following scene from any of thousands of incredible fantasy novels. Click on the pic to see it really large. I would totally love to be in that space.

Happy Humpday all. . .


Unless otherwise noted, all posts on this site are cross-posted from Silly Humans. All posts from SH won't necessarily be on here though. Just - I don't know - randomly and as I feel like or have the time at the time of posting.

For now.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Diversity Days

Happy Marting Luther King, Jr Day!

So many people roll their eyes at this "bank holiday". We (yeah, sometimes I've a done it too) shake our heads and proclaim it just another silly reason for kids to get out of school, or teachers to do even less than so many folks (emphatically NOT including me) seem to think they do. MLK Day is one holiday which the children of Trickle-down Ronnie's legacy do shrug off as hardly worth their time to acknowledge, much less have personal cause to celebrate.

With this new research, as presented via the WaPo by Shankar Vedantam, the empirical evidence that Diversity within our great America Melting pot is both desirable and efficacious towards our long-term health and growth, continues to pile up.

Businesses, Politicians and Reactionary Fundamentalists take note:

In Boardrooms and in Courtrooms, Diversity Makes a Difference
By Shankar Vedantam
Monday, January 15, 2007; Page A02

Cedrick Herring has just completed his study. He found that companies that are more diverse have more customers, a larger share of their markets and greater profitability. In fact, when Herring puts his numbers on a graph, he finds a linear relationship between diversity and business success, meaning that as diversity increases, those business indicators increase in step.

"Those companies that have very low levels of racial and ethnic minorities have the lowest profits and the lowest market share and the lowest number of customers," he said. "Those that have medium levels do better, and those that have the highest levels do the best."

Herring got his results by obtaining data about diversity levels and business performance from about 250 companies. He verified the information with independent statistics from Dun & Bradstreet Corp. and documents filed with the federal government. The 250 companies are representative of all U.S. businesses with more than 10 employees -- from the restaurant down the street that employs a dozen people to multinational corporations with thousands of workers. Herring found the same relationship between diversity and business success whether a company was large or small.

While Herring's study points to the benefits of diversity, it does not directly address the contentious question of how it should be achieved.

As a good scientist, he is cautious about the result and says it does not prove that companies do better because they are diverse. What the study shows is a correlation between diversity and business success. While diversity could be the cause of better business outcomes, it is also possible, for example, that companies that are successful to begin with do a better job of attracting and retaining minorities.

[For the whole of the article]

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Rather Than Remove All Doubt . . .

A Praise Post

Everybody's doing it, so why can't I?

Ooops. That's of the Cranberries (another, slightly lower key, favorite.) This post is to pimp Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American*.


This group of (then) twenty somethings made a record back in '01 which still makes me feel my age of 41 (spelled t.h.i.r.t.y. o.n.e.) and which I just can't seem to hear or recommend enough.

A Praise Chorus

I'm on my feet
I'm on the floor
I'm good to go

I wanna always feel like
part of this was mine

I wanna fall in love tonight

---Chrimson and Clover
---Over and over (repeated behind chorus)

Our House in the middle of the street
Why did we ever meet
Starring in my rock-n-roll fantasy

Don't don't
Why did we ever part
Kickstart my rock-n-roll heart

---(end C & C)

I'm on my feet
I'm on the floor
I'm good to go

I wanna always feel like
part of this

I wanna fall in love tonight
I wanna fall in love tonight

I wanna always feel like
part of this

I wanna fall in love tonight
I wanna fall in love tonight
I wanna fall in love tonight

Even though I know I ain't nowhere near freakin' ready to fall down that rabbit hole again, this is one of those bands that keeps me wanting to get back to wanting it.

Favorite cuts have gotta be:

-- A Praise Chorus (See above)

-- If You Don't, Don't
If you don't know, why would you say so...
( no shit, eh.)

-- Sweetness -
I was spinning free with a little sweet and simple numbing me.
What a dizzy dance.
This sweetness will not be concerned with me.

-- Bleed American
(I bled the) greed from my arm.
Won’t they give it a rest now?

(Fuck You, George Bush! Fuck You Fuck You Fuck You Fuck You Fuck You FUCK YOUUUUUU!**)
Salt, sweat, sugar on the asphalt.
Our hearts littering the topsoil.
Tune in and we can get the last call.
Salt, sweat, sugar on the asphalt, our hearts littering the topsoil.
Sign up it's the picket line or the parade.
-- Your House
If you love me at all, don't call.
-- Middle - Also one of my favorite videos evah. I all too often feel like the kid a'wanderin' thru and not connected to the revelry.


* All lyrics as I interpret them or as found on this site.

** errrummm.. Sorry. My little interjection always seems to fill the gap in the lyrics, there. :)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

So Long, and Thanks for All the . . . Beatdowns?

Cowher resigns to spend more time with family
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- His was the best known jaw in the NFL, a jutting block of granite that perfectly reflected his toughness and passion for winning.


Cowher resigned Friday after 15 seasons as the Steelers' coach, a job he probably could have held for life -- or, at least, for as long as the 23 years predecessor Chuck Noll held it. The Steelers immediately began searching for a new coach for only the second time since 1969, a span when other NFL teams have had as many as 15 coaches.

Cowher was one hell of a competitor and I remember being totally bummed when Pittsburg hired him back in the day.

The Brown's needed a head coach as well at the time (actually the year before) and, even though dude was from the Burg, he had both played and coached for Cleveland. Browns' fans knew him. We loved his sideline to sideline energy and in-your-face but on-your-side bulldog style and most people were completely stumped by the hiring of Bill Belichick to replace has-been but great guy - and former Pittsburg Defensive coordinator - Bud Carson. Not a few folks 'round these parts think a Cowher hire may have helped prevent He Who Shall Not Be Named* moving the team to Baltimore. I ain't one of them, but it's all part of the Lore of Woe and Lamentation** which has become part and parcel of being a Brown's fan nigh these past 40+ years.

Ahhh, well. That's all I've really got to say on the topic, other than to wish the Chin a pleasant retirement and to thank the Rooney family for their dedication to rational salary expenditures and loyalty to people who exemplefy what is good and honorable in the world of professional sports. Cowher's reign o'er the Black and Gold has been the longest of any head coach in the last several decades. That's something incredibly unusual during my lifetime, and his record surely indicates that such has been a Good Thing for both the city of Pittsburg and the NFL as a whole, IMO.

Salute! And don't let the door hit ya in the ass on yer way out, ya bum!


* Art Modell, in case you're wondering. I just like to play with the silly religious emotionalism inherent to Fandom. I really can't be holding grudges, especially when the old man had a least one sound and rational point in making the BAD BAD BAD BAD Move. {sighhh}

* Thanks for putting "lament" in m' noggin, AIF. {-;

Monday, January 1, 2007

Understatement of the Year . . . Already!

Ho Ho ho ha hahahahaha . . . Ohhh . . . Excuse me while I finish laughing my ass off.

Pope Benedict XVI prayed at a New Year's Eve service at the Vatican City in Rome that 2007 would bring the world "peace, comfort, justice." But he cast a cold eye on some secular New Year celebrations, saying such social "rites" are "often carried out as an escape from reality."
As if it needs the emphasis! LOL! Thanks Bene. Way to get the new year bouncing with irony ya silly ol' Homo.

Okay. I may just be a bit slap happy, as I just got in from a 3 hour drive back from a fantastical "social rite" of our own in Detroit. I was just checking headlines to chill out before hitting the sack and simply had to comment on the Papal Delusionist's little contribution to 2007's birth.

What a wonderful world!

Happy New Year everybody!