Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Music Blogging

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Get Up, Stand Up

Bob Marley would be the first to say that this applies to typical white people like me as much as it applies to black folk like the Rev. Wright. THIS is what I & I are fighting for and we can only do it together.

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Oh dear...this has been a tough week all around, hasn't it? Thank god it's Friday!

1) This can't be making Hillary too happy, especially considering that when the liberal wing of the Democratic party threw a hissy fit about pro-life Bob Casey addressing the national convention, the Clinton's interceded on his behalf.

2) Guess Casey won't be on the short list when she wins the nomination.

3) You had to figure this was likely to happen some time this week. Look for Bush to make the case for continuing the escalation surge.

4) If Barack Obama thought the Rev. Wright story was going away eaasily, he had another think coming. Already, there are hints of even uglier allegations regarding Rev. Wright's comments, and I'm thinking it's just a matter of time before someone comes up with a videotape of Obama nodding his head as Wright spews some venom towards America.

5) This is without a doubt one of the dumbest things in recent American political history. You have a deeply ambitious man, who figures to run for national office (Senator) sticking with a church that he knows will give him trouble, and it's not even a church that he was forced to attend! He wasn't born to it, his parents didn't socialize with them, he chose it because it was a large congregation of 3,000 that could help him get elected to Congress. That's all. That's a disposable church. And suddenly, in 2008, Obama's all about "leaving the church", and even then, not until the Wright story was on the cusp of revelation? Obama knew about all this at least as early as the day he announced his candidacy, specifically banning Rev. Wright from giving the invocation to his candidacy announcement!

6) How to embarass a government:

7) Let me get this straight: nipple rings are a threat to national security, but you can have your navel pierced?

8) Of course, I couldn't let this go by: Killer pizzas!

9) One suggestion to Obama on an issue: This is a dumb thing to do, particularly in light of seven years of Bush. Maybe the idiots who support YOU have a short attention span, but typical white people like me do not:During the administration of William Jefferson Clinton, the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history. He was the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term. He could point to the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country's history, dropping crime rates in many places, and reduced welfare rolls. He proposed the first balanced budget in decades and achieved a budget surplus. As part of a plan to celebrate the millennium in 2000, Clinton called for a great national initiative to end racial discrimination. (emphasis added)

10) One more nail in the coffin of Karl Rove's political machinations.

11) Were you aware of Earth Hour this weekend?



13) Where's Bill Murray when you need him?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

How To Build Your Very Own Robot

For real!

Cracks In The Ice

Al Gore warned us in An Inconvenient Truth about this:

March 25, 2008—New satellite images reveal what scientists call the "runaway" collapse of an enormous ice shelf in Antarctica as the result of global warming.

The chunk of coastal ice was some 160 square miles (415 square kilometers) in area—about seven times the size of Manhattan.

The shelf's rapid collapse began on February 28 (see image sequence at top right), sending a giant swath of broken ice into the sea—as seen in the bottom image, which shows a 2-mile-wide (3.2-kilometer-wide) area.
Keep in mind that it's nearly "autumn" in the southern hemisphere, and so there might be some firming up of this ice before long.

However, ice shelfs in the Antarctic are like dams, and when a dam breaks, it doesn't take much to encourage the stuff behind the dam to fall too.

The collapse and calving of the Wilkins ice shelf won't raise sea levels. It was already on the water, so it's specific gravity was accounted for. But the stuff behind it, that's all on land, and would add to sea levels quickly, like dropping an ice cube into a full glass of water.

Worse for us, of course, is the fact that ice doesn't move as rapidly as liquid water. In the year when the land ice slips into the ocean, people will have forgotten this event, and what triggered the next collapse. This is one large difficulty about explaining the global climate crisis to people who's attention span is now shorter than an MTV video.

It's going to be a long hot summer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Consider this a glimpse of things to come:
Heavy fighting has been raging in Basra as thousands of Iraqi troops battle Shia militias in the southern city.

At least 12 people have died in the operation, which is being overseen in Basra by Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki, a day after he vowed to "re-impose law".

[...]Oil-rich Basra is in the grip of a bitter turf war between armed groups, including the Mehdi Army, say analysts.

The Mehdi Army - which supports radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr - called for a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience.
Yea. Some "civil disobedience", huh?

Sadr declareda ceasefire last summer, and apparently went into hiding for the past seven months, only to pop up again Tuesday, calling on Iraqis, and particularly Shi'ites, to engage in civil disruptions if American "attacks" did not cease.

These attacks consisted of wide-scale arrests of Iraqis (apparently non-discriminatory) across Iraq in an attempt to round up militia members.

The lone bright spot in this story is that the bulk of the fighting is being done by Iraqis themselves, against other Iraqis. Allied forces are providing support and reconnaissance functions.

The New York Times is reporting that Sadr has attempted to negotiate with American and Iraqi leaders, but that those talks have broken down.

We're in the middle of this mess, and sadly, it looks like McCain's prediction of 100 years (which he will shortly scale back to fifty) of American presence in the country is not too far off the mark. The Koreas have had us for nearly sixty years, and they are not that much closer to resolution of their grievances and disputes.

We will, I think, be forced to leave a military presence, even as a policing presence, in Iraq for some time to come, and it really doesn't matter who was right or who was wrong about the war.

The bus, to borrow a phrase, has been driven into the ditch. This kind of story will be the template for stories to come out of Iraq for the next few generations, I suspect: Iraqi fighting Iraqi, with Americans trying and failing to talk them both down from the ledge. Civil disobedience will take the form of more bullets and less bluster.

To rattle sabers will be taken far more literally. You almost get the sense that Sadr hoped the American troops would be long gone by now, and figured there's no real reason to wait to take over the country, which would be an unacceptable resolution for America, which have pinned its feeble hopes on Maliki's government.

While McCain was wrong about Iran training Al Qaeda fighters, Shi'a warriors are most definitely allied with Iran, much like the Northern Ireland Catholics were allied with American Irish Catholics. That means money, influence, and weapons are at their disposal, possibly ad infinitum.

It would, of course, be a feather in Iran's cap to rule the nation that they once waged a terrible and terrifying war against.

Pundits on the left have, among others, have tried to paint Iraq's relevance to this election cycle, but I think the realpolitik is that all three remaining candidates would probably have to suck it up and accept our presence in Iraq until 2012, at least (something both Clinton and Obama have admitted to in debates).

Iraq will not be an issue in the campaign this year, not even as a retrospective review and mandate of George Bush's failures. The parry to any serious questioning about our involvement in Iraq would be "Yes, but..."

No use crying over spilled milk, I suppose, but you have to sit and wonder what we've lost, how much we've lost, in this foolish aggression of a few unprincipled men.

Monday, March 24, 2008

No Need To Explain

Iraq war numbers abound: five years; 4,000 American military deaths; 28,500 more (or fewer) troops; $5,000 per second; and X number of Iraqi military and civilian casualties -- where the X is unknown, at least here at home.

The numbers can't actually tell us what we should do, and they are all inhumanely impersonal. Despite whatever "success" has come from the surge, public support remains low. Five years seems so long, and 4,000 seems a number so extreme to the cause, and a war costing $5,000 per second seems so obscene, and gas is more than $3 a gallon, and our economy is now reeling. There are 224 days until Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Yesterday, four U.S. soldiers were killed when their vehicle in south Baghdad was hit by an IED, bringing the U.S. military death toll in Iraq to 4,000.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

It's morning in America. Again.

Despite the troubles behind us, the turmoil, the divisiveness, the strife, we face a future where our world could get better, might get worse. It all depends on us.

We look for leaders, heroes, in a time when there are few to be found who have been both tested and admired. This is sad for the greatest nation in the history of the planet, but more so for the planet itself. We wane as a power at precisely the time our supposed values should be transcendent.

I was watching a television program about Martin Luther last night, and the courage it took for him to rebuke the most powerful political force on the planet, the Pope, was something I needed to be reminded of.

Here was Pope Leo X, who was basically given the papacy as a present by his daddy, Lorenzo de Medici, charging Luther with heresy (at the Diet of Worms...there's something to be made out of that), demanding he recant his 95 theses, nailed on the church door at Wittenburg, and he said he could not, if God was to remain by his side.

The changes wrought since his Theses and that declaration have been staggering. If you are American, or French, or English, Or German, or a citizen of any nation shaped by those nations, you can thank Luther for your freedom, because by insisting that through faith alone and a direct relationship with Christ, Luther opened the door to personal liberty and freedom.

Moments like this transcend political power. They transcend doctrine. They transcend authority and structure.

They change the world.

Luther was one person who was at the right place at the right time. His thoughts were not original, but he had something no one else had before him: the printing press. The first mass medium. He revolutionized the world because he had the right tools.

Others have stood at that place: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Jesus.

That these are all men of faith is not surprising. It takes a man of faith to believe in himself, and to believe in what's right and what's wrong, what's good and what's bad, without knuckling under to the pressures of the secular world around him.

Note something else: each of these men had to remove themselves from "the system" in order to affect real change.

Or, as U2 puts it:

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow

OK, so ML wasn't precisely in these lyrics, but still, all of these men acted out of love for mankind, to justify our existence here on earth, and to overthrow the unjust.

All succeeded, to one degree or other, but all had far-reaching impacts beyond their borders or even their centuries.

We must find that next leader to guide us through the dark times ahead. He or she will not be President, or king or queen. He/she will be one who can muster the bits of strength, peace, and love within us all to gather together in one flesh, in one being, in one group, in one movement.

In one world.

None of these princes of peace came to free the world, just a people. But none had the chance to free a world.

Except that they all did, a little bit, anyway.

It is on this day that we celebrate the Resurrection. In that spirit, may whatever being, entity or dumb luck you believe in bless you and keep you on this day and all days.


Friday Cat Kitten Blogging

Mah peeps!

I bin soopurrbising Dadby wile hem do taxes. Hem say hem pay two mush taxes and hem rite! Lookit all dis papahwerk!