Saturday, August 4, 2007

Satan's Mother-in-Law

If you're looking for a good read, may I recommend this:
I do enjoy a nice piece of satire.

Saturday Canyon Pic

Needed a break from the politics. Pic from the spring canyon trip.


I had a really interesting evening conversation last night. I was having the usual Friday beer with the political junkies at Mogollon, and ended up having a chat with Democratic congressional candidate Howard Shanker He was out with several members of his staff for a casual beer, not a campaign stop. I really wasn't familiar with Howard before our conversation, other than his statement announcing his candidacy.
I must say I came away impressed. We talked about a wide variety of topics, from energy to Iraq to economics, and Mr. Shanker has definitely done his homework. I've been around a lot of politicians over the decades, and usually they make sweeping policy statements that sound good but lack substance. Not Howard. He got into specific "nuts and bolts" plans and ideas. He also seemed to really enjoy our raucous give and take debates that are the typical Friday at Mogollon. He was perfectly willing to express his opinions and listen to ours. We're a pretty diverse group politically, so he was taking a bit of a risk wading into such a group of potential supporters and openly disagreeing with some on some issues. Most candidates would have carefully parsed their words, trying to pander to all. Not Howard. He seemed perfectly comfortable expressing his views, even when some disagreed (for the record, I agreed with him on most, but not all issues).
So far, there are 3 announced Democratic candidates for our district, and it's really looking like Mr. corruption Rick Renzi won't be running, so this could be a house pickup for the dems.
Also running are State Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick,, who has a good track record in the legislature, and Mary Kim Titla, who I know very little about. While it's early in the campaign season, I'm seriously considering volunteering for Mr. Shanker's campaign (I had been leaning toward Kirkpatrick prior to meeting Howard).
As I've stated previously, I don't look for a candidate "you'd like to have a beer with", but I may have to make an exception.


So 16 Democratic Senators caved in on the FISA bill, giving our shrub legal cover for the previously illegal activities that he's engaged in. As I stated earlier, I don't think the bill itself really matters much. Shrub has repeatedly ignored the laws, and I doubt that he cares what the law says.
No, what really pisses me off is the cowardice of these Democrats. Giving in to a lame duck without a fight when shrub stamps his feet will just encourage him to stamp his feet more often (hey, I've never raised children but any parent will tell you not to reward bad behavior). I want a congress that will stand up and say "no" to shrubs demands. The only way to stop a bully is to stand up and fight back. Otherwise the bully will keep bullying.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Our Shrub

Oh my, shrubby says "give me what I want or no vacation" to congress:

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Friday that Congress must stay in session until it approves legislation modernizing a U.S. law governing eavesdropping on foreigners. "So far the Democrats in Congress have not drafted a bill I can sign," Bush said at FBI headquarters, where he was meeting with counterterror and homeland security officials. "We've worked hard and in good faith with the Democrats to find a solution, but we are not going to put our national security at risk. Time is short."The president said lawmakers cannot leave for their August recess this weekend as planned unless they "pass a bill that will give our intelligence community the tools they need to protect the United States."

He really is a petulant child, isn't he.

Changing the FISA law is a really bad idea, but our shrub has been consistently violating it for years. I'm betting the reason he wants a new law is the same reason he's been stonewalling congressional investigations. He's afraid that if the public became aware of how blatantly he's violated the law the clamor for impeachment would spread beyond us leftie bloggers and into the mainstream.
I wonder if he'll cancel his own vacation? Because if he does go on vacation, I think congress should walk out in protest. That would be a constitutional crises worth watching.

Bring out a Boobie

It's Friday, so it's Boobie time:

Take a peek at this Redfoot.

Fixing FISA?

I may be the only liberal blogger who will say this, but I don't think it matters much if congress changes the FISA laws. The current law, which our shrub has broken routinely, allows "spy first-warrant later" wiretapping. It's a lousy law but even if congress makes it worse it won't make much of a difference. Why do I say this? Because in this digital age, data mining is already so widespread that the government and corporations already have you profiled.

Try this simple experiment:


Don't submit a change of address with the post office.

Do change your address on one (only one) utility or bank account.

See how long it takes for your bills to show up at your new address.

I did this when I moved into my current residence (none of the utilities are in my name) and began receiving mail at my new address within a week. The IRS sent tax forms to the new address. The state sent me a new drivers license with the new address in about a month (I hadn't requested one).

If you're active on the Internet, a simple Google search can reveal a lot of information about you as the (evil) practice of "outing" has shown.

Anyone who's savvy with a scanner can intercept cell phone traffic. In short, privacy isn't protected anymore.

While I wish that our administration would obey the laws, our shrub refuses to comply with the "quaint" constitution. His behavior won't change, whether congress gives him cover or not.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


By now there must be a million posts about the collapse of an interstate bridge in Minneapolis, and on the heals of the steam pipe explosion in NYC last month, we're seeing the results of neglecting America's infrastructure. A recent estimate puts the total price tag to repair the infrastructure at $1.6 trillion (about the cost of the Iraq War). Throw in the recent food contamination cases, and stories like
White House Threatens Veto of $20 Billion Water Projects Bill, Says It's Too Costly, and you start to see a trend. A very dark, disturbing trend.
It would be easy to blame the failings on our shrub's war, but the cuts in domestic spending go back to Grover Norquist's "contract with America" to shrink the federal government. The rethugs got elected by vowing to cut taxes and spending. They seem ignorant of the concept that there are reasons why governments exist and that some things are worth paying for (other than wars...we always find the money for war).
Governments exist to develop infrastructure to meet the collective needs of the society. We have a right to expect safe roads, food, water, medicines, etc., but we also must be willing to pay for it. The rethugs have sold their tax cuts by hiding the consequences from the public. The Democratic candidates need to stand up and say how they'll address this mess, because I'm betting that more of these kind of problems are going to occur by 2008.
And don't get me started about FEMA or S-CHIP or about a brazillion other rethug disasters.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Nice spin job

So the good news from Iraq is: U.S. forces welcome least deadly month of Iraq push :
But the numbers over the years:
For the record, July casualties in Iraq since the war began:
2003 - 48
2004 - 54
2005 - 54
2006 - 43
2007 - 78

Death's go down every July because it's too hot to go outside.
Added: The July casualties were revised up to 81.

On this day

“Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”

Jerry Garcia
Born August 1, 1942

I only went to about 250 Dead shows between 1967 and 1995, so I'm sure he had no influence on who I am. Over at Kiko's House, Shaun has a nice round-up of Jerry's bio.

Great Relations

Another failure in Middle East diplomacy:

Despite the Bush Administration's plan to provide $20 billion worth of advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's latest visit there to reiterate common purpose on Iraq, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, relations between Washington and Riyadh are troubled. The two countries still share the same goals, but the Saudis are hanging tough on issues where they believe the current U.S. Administration, with only 18 months left in office, is pursuing policies that are unlikely to achieve those shared goals. Even the show of unity Wednesday between Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and Secretary Rice could not hide the differences: The Saudis vowed only to "consider" opening full diplomatic
relations with the Iraqi government, for example, and while they backed the Bush
Administration's plan to hold a Middle East peace conference in the fall, the Saudis declined to indicate that they would attend such an event, and made clear their participation would come only when Israel was ready to discuss the "final status" issues that it wants deferred.

I guess $20 billion in weapons doesn't buy much anymore.

Ethics? None.

This is just too ironic:

Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, whose home back in Alaska was raided by federal investigators Monday in a wide-ranging corruption investigation, has threatened to place a hold on the Democratic-drafted ethics legislation just passed by the House and expected on the Senate floor by week’s end.

The senator told a closed session of fellow Republicans today, including Vice President Dick Cheney, that he was upset that the measure would interfere with his travel to and from Alaska — and vowed to block it.

The rethug's obstructionism is obvious, but to have a senator who's under investigation by the FBI and the IRS for corruption blocking an ethics bill is beyond the pale.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

more than you ever wanted to know about one man's friend whom a dinosaur is

I talk a lot of shit about my pet dinosaur, Noam. Sometimes It's just easier to write about the bad things in life- whatever, ok- so Noam did significantly disrupt a birthday party, an ice-cream truck, and a reputable corporate bookestore.
But have i ever told ya'll about how beautiful Noam's scales are, in early-morning light! Platinum rows of mail reflecting pine trees and cerulean sky. . Her eyes are of an adamantine vaccuity- (yeah i just came up with that phrase, thanks for admiring it ) One day i discovered my pet dinosaur has a vagina. Noam likes to roll over and have her scaley belly scratched. Well, that's how i figured that out but i have yet to fool 'round with this exceedingly flirtatious saurian. Probly won't. "nough trouble as it is. But Noam sure is pretty.
One would think keeping a dinosaur in one's backyard would attract attention. This hasn't really been an issue, as folks around here tend to keep to themselves. If i had a nuclear reactor in my backyard, passerby would even still hardly flick the brims of their derby hats. Shit, if i had a couple of roman candles and bottle rockets, and set them afire in my yard, all the armed forces of the universe would descend in phalanx formation against me . Folks don't get pokey about whatever in tarnation bizness i got goin out back. "dude down the street has a real live pet dinosaur." Fireworks? "Nope, din't see no fireworks. "
If ye, dear reader , are dim-witted, read no further.
-in a dumpster. Some dumpsters are actually time-travel devices disguised as such things as dumpsters. Or actually, whatever is most appropriate to a certain epoch. To Noam, the time travel device was a muddy puddle she innocently cantered into.
because i as well was the sport of one of those time export machines. Like to tell myself that, anyway...Noam's not that smart, actually. Anyone who has time-travelled retains an aroma similar of very intense, dank mint. And only those that have had a similar experience can detect it. Noam simply sniffed me out, when she was teleported, quite against her easy reptilian will .
Good question. And one i haven't quite figured out just yet. May have something to do with cellulose transmogrification throughout the millennia?
Yes, that is quite right.
"Where The Wild Things Are", by Maurice Sendak. She is really taking her time on this delicacy- nibbles like a rabbit, actually, lazing about the tall grass, slowly, vacantly gently ripping pages from the book and meditatively masticating them.
good enough dinosaur.

giant crystals sack the turtles

I work Downtown. Next to an alley that gushes like gopher whitewater every afternoon these days. This is great! I get to see the little rivers at work, through windows. So of course I am going to contemplate sailing various vegetables down the alley . Duh!
cucumber catamaran
pineapple schooner
avocado ketch

Zymurgian is insane

He's currently trying to sail vegetables in the monsoon run-off. First he brings home (time wise) a really stupid but philosophy eating dinosaur. I like the guy, but he's crazy.

And Atrocia was happy.

Beer in Space

Because this is the biggest news I read today:

Graduate student Kirsten Sterrett at the University of Colorado in the US wrote a thesis on fermentation in space, with support from US beer behemoth Coors. She sent a miniature brewing kit into orbit aboard a space shuttle several years ago and produced a few sips of beer. She later sampled the space brew, but because of chemicals in and near it from her analysis, it didn't taste great by the time she tried it.

Beyond the challenge of producing beer in space is the problem of serving it, says Jonathan Clark, a former flight surgeon and now the space medicine liaison for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute in Houston, Texas, US.

Without gravity, bubbles don't rise, so "obviously the foam isn't going to come to a head", Clark told New Scientist.

The answer, Dutch researchers suggested in 2000, is to store beer in a flexible membrane inside a barrel. Air can be pumped between the barrel and the membrane, forcing the beer out of a tap. Astronauts could then use straws to
suck up blobs of beer (see Beer balls).

Wet burps

Unfortunately for thirsty astronauts, beer is poorly suited to space consumption because of the gas it includes. Without gravity to draw liquids to the bottoms of their stomachs, leaving gases at the top, astronauts tend to produce wet burps.

Wet burps! I get those every time Sweaterman does his Dylan impersonation.

Here's a pic of a space shuttle beer fermenter:

Kirsten Sterrett used a

Monday, July 30, 2007

I'd be remiss if I didn't post this

Congratulations to the Iraqi soccer team:

غير مسبوق بإحرازه كأس اسيا للامم الرابعة عشرة بكرة القدم عندما تغلب مساء
اليوم الاحد على المنتخب السعودي بهدف دون رد في العاصمة الاندنوسية جاكارتا

واحرز هدف المباراة الوحيد يونس محمود بكرة رأسية من ضربة زاوية في الدقيقة 72
وسط سيطرة في اغلب دقائق المباراة مع استسلام واضح من الفريق السعودي الذي وصل
المباراة النهائية باستحقاق.

وحمل لاعبونا الكأس الاغلى اسيويا وسط فرحة امتدت من جاكارتا الى العراق، حيث
خرج المواطنون احتفالا رغم حظر التجوال الذي فرضته القوات الامنية حفاظا على سلامة

Of course there were some problems. Al-Hayat is reporting 48 people killed by celebratory gunfire. And there's this:

Iraq won the Asian for the first time Sunday, a beacon of hope for a nation divided by war.

Iraq’s 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on a 71st-minute header by captain Younis Mahmoud was an inspirational triumph for a team whose players straddle bitter and violent ethnic divides. After the game, Mahmoud called for the United States to withdraw its troops from his nation.

“I want America to go out,” he said. “Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but out. I wish the American people didn’t invade Iraq and, hopefully, it will be over soon.”Mahmoud also said he will not return to Iraq to celebrate.

“I don’t want the Iraqi people to be angry with me,” he said. “If I go back with the team, anybody could kill me or try to hurt me.”

I'm sure that our shrub will tell us that "we're makin' progress".
(side note: blogger seems totally incapable of properly formatting block quotes in Arabic. Anybody know any tricks? 'Cause the report above is really hard to read laid out like that).

Victory over Saudi 1-0

Syria caring for refugees

Just another piece of fallout from our shrub's Iraq debacle:

DAMASCUS, 30 July 2007 (IRIN) - Syria's minister of health said providing free
medical care to the over 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria is costing the country around US$60 million a year, a burden he criticised the international community for failing to take responsibility for.

"It was the duty of the international community to take the initiative long before now to stop the suffering of our Iraqi brothers," said Maher Housami, speaking on 30 July at the end of a two-day conference in Damascus organised by the World Health
Organization (WHO) to address the health crisis among Iraqi refugees' displaced
by the four-year-old US-led invasion.

The WHO conference, attended by the health ministers of Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, as well as WHO and UN officials, met to discuss Iraqi refugees' access to health care in Syria and the need to formulate a plan to counter the strain being placed on the national health system.

Housami expressed his disappointment that the USA had not provided countries in the region, particularly Syria and Jordan - who between them currently shelter an estimated 2.25 million Iraqi refugees - with greater financial support.

The Syrian government provides Iraqi refugees with free education and health care, but the massive influx of people - estimated at around 40,000 per month - means hospitals and clinics are often too overcrowded to treat refugees.

Given that our shrub has been demonizing Syria for years, I doubt that we're going to help them out. This administration doesn't give a shit about the humanitarian needs in the Middle East.

I wonder how much we're spending to take care of the 133 Iraqi refugees that have come to America this year.

Fuel for thought

As some of you may know, I've been involved in developing an Algae-based cellulosic ethanol plant in our region. Let me be clear at the outset: cellulosic ethanol is only a stop-gap. It can only provide a percentage of our liquid fuel needs. But it can reduce our dependence on petroleum by whatever percentage that is developed, and it's well worth doing. What makes ethanol so controversial is that current production is predominantly corn based, which has a major impact on food supply. Algae based ethanol doesn't present that problem, which is why I've been working on it.

But as I've expanded my research, I'm now working on a different idea: Butanol. As you can see in the diagram above, Butanol closely matches gasoline in BTU's and octane. It can be used to fuel current gasoline engines without any modification or blending.

Butanol has many superior properties as an alternative fuel when compared to ethanol. These include:

  • Higher energy content (110,000 Btu’s per gallon for butanol vs. 84,000 Btu per gallon for ethanol). Gasoline contains about 115,000 Btu’s per gallon.
  • Butanol is six times less “evaporative” than ethanol and 13.5 times less evaporative than gasoline, making it safer to use as an oxygenate in Arizona, California and other states, thereby eliminating the need for very special blends during the summer and winter months.
  • Butanol can be shipped through existing fuel pipelines where ethanol must be transported via
    rail, barge or truck
  • Butanol can be used as a replacement for gasoline gallon for gallon e.g. 100%, or any other percentage. Ethanol can only be used as an additive to gasoline up to about 85% and then only after significant modifications to the engine. Worldwide 10% ethanol blends predominate.

The main challenge is to produce it at a cost that is economically competitive. Currently Butanol costs about $3.70 per gallon (although that is based on using corn as the source stock). If more efficient enzymatic fermentation of algae can be developed, that cost could be greatly reduced.

One indication of the potential for Butanol is that the oil company BP is putting $500 million into an experimental Butanol plant: If a major oil company is spending that much money on it, there's a good amount of potential.

So I'm busy doing more research. I aced biochemistry in college, but I'm no biochemist so it's slow going.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Given all the pixels wasted on "partisan vs. bipartisan", I figure wasting a few more on my opinion is OK.

Most of my adult life I've considered myself an independent. I only became a Democrat when, during the Clinton years, the Republicans adopted an extremist agenda that I believed was destructive to America. I'm not a big fan of the Democratic agenda, but at least it's not going to destroy the country. Sometimes the lesser evil is the only choice available.

When our shrub came into power I got really worried, because I read their agenda. It wasn't about doing "good for America", but about using government to enhance the power of an elite few. The corporations were being put ahead of the people. And I realized that the Republicans would lie, cheat, and steal to maintain their power.

The agenda should have been clear when our shrub's tax cuts passed. Huge breaks for the corporations and the rich, tiny "feel good" tax cuts for the rest of us. It was easy to market, because nobody "likes" taxes. But in reality every civilization in history has had some form of taxation, in order to pay for the infrastructure that allows society to function. Another reality: Americans are among the LEAST taxed citizens in the developed world and in history. As we watch various parts of our infrastructure deteriorate, remember those tax cuts.

The next thing to think about was the agenda of the people our shrub put in his cabinet. Back in '97, a group called "the project for the new American century" published several papers on foreign policy that scared the shit out of anyone with any sense of history. They advocated expansive use of military force to achieve a kind of economic imperialism whereby America would control the natural resources of much of the globe. The PNAC crowd thought that this could be achieved by militarily imposing "pro-western democracies" on other countries. The entire concept struck me as delusional, as anyone with a grasp of history should see. When our shrub named his initial cabinet, almost all of them were drawn from PNAC. They started planning wars on day one. 9/11 gave them the justification they wanted.

On the political front, Karl Rove vowed to create "a permanent Republican majority". To that end, all appointments were based on political ideology instead of competence. The DOJ scandal is the latest, most glaring, example, but it was clear at the outset. EPA, HHS, FDA, state and justice officials, and others were chosen to advance the republican party over the best interests of the general public. To carry out their agenda, the administration imposed a code of secrecy unprecedented in American government. The first example was the Cheney energy task force. It's taken 6 years for the public to learn anything about who met and what they were planning. Ask yourself a simple question: "why?". If the goal was to form an energy policy that was for the benefit of the people, surely the planning could be done in a very public way. When Cheney insisted on secrecy, I (and many others) knew that we were about to get screwed. Energy plans are only hidden when there's something to hide.

My next major objection to our shrub was quite simple: the SCOTUS. Supreme Court Justices are in for a long time. As we've been shown, our shrub is against reproductive rights, civil rights, and basic human rights. We're gonna be fighting these guys for a long, long time.

Which brings me to the issue of parisanship. Bi-partisinship is great if both parties are working to benefit society and only disagree about how best to achieve it. When one party is only working to enhance their own power, you cannot compromise with them. While our current Democrats aren't worth a whole lot, I don't think they're actively trying to harm us. Our current Republicans are.

It's very simple:

Our current administration have placed themselves above the constitution. They have used the power of law enforcement to subvert the law.

They have conducted an illegal war based on a delusional ideology, and in doing so drained our treasury of the funds that could be better used for the needs of our people.

They have threatened the health of the entire planet, by putting corporate profits ahead of a responsible energy policy.

For these, and countless other, reasons there can be no bi-partisan compromise with them.

That' why I'm a Democrat. And why we need to impeach.

(had to add this oldie but goodie),