Friday, September 30, 2005

Perhaps A Real Step Toward True Global Democratization


I want to teach the world to surf, says the man who invented the $100 laptop
By David Usborne in New York

One man in Boston has a plan that he hopes will bridge the world's gaping digital divide - and quickly. The visionary is Nicholas Negroponte, director of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his idea consists of a new kind of laptop computer that will cost just $100 (£57) to buy.

It will also be a little different in design from the sleek machines some of us in the west have learned to love or covet. It will be foldable in different ways, encased in bump-proof rubber and will include a hand-crank to give it power in those corners of the globe where electricity supply is patchy.

The first prototype of the machine should be ready by November and Mr Negroponte - who was one of the first prophets of the internet before most of us understood the word - hopes to put them into production next year.

In fact, he expects to churn out about 15 million of them within one year, shipping most of them at first to children in Brazil, Egypt, Thailand and South Africa.

Describing the unusual design of his sub-laptop yesterday, Mr Negroponte insisted that it would "have to be absolutely indestructible". The mission is to create a tool that children almost anywhere can use and can easily carry between their classrooms and their homes. For that reason, for instance, the AC adaptor cable will double as a shoulder strap.

Support is also coming from closer to home. The Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, has also committed to buying half a million of the machines for distribution to lower-income school students in the state.

The inspiration of the project, which has backing from US companies including Google, came to Mr Negroponte when he was travelling recently with his wife in Cambodia. He spotted children in a rural area carrying laptops - which the couple's foundation had donated - from school to their homes.

To cut costs, the machines would have a 500-megahertz processor provided by Advanced Micro Devices, which is a little slow by today's lightning-speed standards.

However, it would be set up for wireless connectivity, known as wi-fi, to give users the greatest chance of hooking up to the internet. It would run on a Linux platform, which is freely available, rather than Microsoft's more expensive Windows.

It is not the first time that someone has attempted to develop a rock-bottom price device to feed the potentially monumental market in developing countries for laptops. Part of the problem has been stopping donated machines leaking onto the commercial market.

Mr Negroponte said that his laptops would be so distinctive in design and look that stealing and re-selling them would be akin to stealing furniture from a church. People would recognise where they come from. The look of the devices, he said yesterday, meant there would be "socially a stigma to be carrying one if you are not a student or a teacher". Consequently, he imagines that no more than 2 per cent of the devices would fall into that murky "grey market".

Other features of the device include being able to switch from a full colour screen to a monochrome alternative, which will much more easily viewed in bright sunlight. In the first models, turning the crank for one minute will provide 10 minutes of power.

recycle cpu

Mr Negroponte says that rather than getting more expensive, as some brands do, he hopes that his machines will get cheaper through economies of scale. He pointed out that $100 was still expensive in many parts of the world. And he also expects the technology to improve.

(I know, I know. I'm such a copy and paste the news whore now a days.)

jackin' the

the faqin'the faqin'the faqin'

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


click this to flickr to actually be able to read it

NASA Administrator Says Space Shuttle Was A Mistake

By Traci Watson

The space shuttle and International Space Station — nearly the whole of the U.S. manned space program for the past three decades — were mistakes, NASA chief Michael Griffin said Tuesday.

In a meeting with USA TODAY's editorial board, Griffin said NASA lost its way in the 1970s, when the agency ended the Apollo moon missions in favor of developing the shuttle and space station, which can only orbit Earth.

“It is now commonly accepted that was not the right path,” Griffin said. “We are now trying to change the path while doing as little damage as we can.”

The shuttle has cost the lives of 14 astronauts since the first flight in 1982. Roger Pielke Jr., a space policy expert at the University of Colorado, estimates that NASA has spent about $150 billion on the program since its inception in 1971. The total cost of the space station by the time it's finished — in 2010 or later — may exceed $100 billion, though other nations will bear some of that.

Only now is the nation's space program getting back on track, Griffin said. He announced last week that NASA aims to send astronauts back to the moon in 2018 in a spacecraft that would look like the Apollo capsule.

The goal of returning Americans to the moon was laid out by President Bush in 2004, before Griffin took the top job at NASA. Bush also said the shuttle would be retired in 2010.

Griffin has made clear in previous statements that he regards the shuttle and space station as misguided. He told the Senate earlier this year that the shuttle was “deeply flawed” and that the space station was not worth “the expense, the risk and the difficulty” of flying humans to space.

But since he became NASA administrator, Griffin hasn't been so blunt about the two programs.

Asked Tuesday whether the shuttle had been a mistake, Griffin said, “My opinion is that it was. … It was a design which was extremely aggressive and just barely possible.”

Asked whether the space station had been a mistake, he said, “Had the decision been mine, we would not have built the space station we're building in the orbit we're building it in.”

Joe Rothenberg, head of NASA's manned space programs from 1995 to 2001, defended the programs for providing lessons about how to operate in space. But he conceded that “in hindsight, there may have been other ways.”

the proverbial fart in a high wind

Shoot, I've been saying this for years. But you don't see me getting a headline on the DrudgeReport.

Kraken Captured! (Well, At Least On Film)

Whoa! For the first time in history, photos of a live Giant Squid have been taken!
Thank you
National Geographic.


Like something straight out of a Jules Verne novel, an enormous tentacled creature looms out of the inky blackness of the deep Pacific waters.

But this isn't science fiction. A set of extraordinary images captured by Japanese scientists marks the first-ever record of a live giant squid (Architeuthis) in the wild.

The animal—which measures roughly 25 feet (8 meters) long—was photographed 2,950 feet (900 meters) beneath the North Pacific Ocean. Japanese scientists attracted the squid toward cameras attached to a baited fishing line.

The scientists say they snapped more than 500 images of the massive cephalopod before it broke free after snagging itself on a hook. They also recovered one of the giant squid's two longest tentacles, which severed during its struggle.


The photo sequence, taken off Japan's Ogasawara Islands in September 2004, shows the squid homing in on the baited line and enveloping it in "a ball of tentacles."


Tsunemi Kubodera of the National Science Museum in Tokyo and Kyoichi Mori of the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association report their observations this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"Architeuthis appears to be a much more active predator than previously suspected, using its elongated feeding tentacles to strike and tangle prey," the researchers write.
They add that the squid was found feeding at depths where no light penetrates even during the day.

Giant Breakthrough

Despite people's fascination with this deep-sea behemoth, the giant squid's life and habits have remained largely a mystery. The little information known has been mostly based on dead and dying specimens that were caught by commercial fishing boats or washed ashore.
The mysterious creature has inspired countless sea monster tales and has been the subject of various scientific expeditions.

Since the mid 1990s there have been a number of research trips in search of giant squid. Cameras attached to deep-diving subs or sperm whales have been used to try to capture the elusive animals on film, but without success.

The Japanese researchers used sperm whales as guides to help them pinpoint likely giant squid haunts. Over the years whalers have reported finding a high number of large squid beaks in the mammals' stomachs, pegging sperm whales as primary predators of large squid.


The images are generating considerable excitement among squid experts.

excited scientists

"I think it's wonderful that we've finally got a picture of a living giant squid," said Richard Ellis, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and author of The Search for the Giant Squid.

"I thought it would only be a matter of time before someone got images of Architeuthis," he added.

"After all, it's not an endangered species, not even all that rare, and it's one of the largest of all invertebrates. So the Japanese film finally breaks through and renders the statement 'nobody has ever seen a living giant squid' inoperative."

Squid expert Martin Collins of the British Antarctic Survey based in Cambridge, England, says the new images are a "fantastic" achievement.

The marine biologist says he was skeptical that a dedicated giant squid hunt would succeed. He thought the first wild sighting would probably come by accident.

"Fair play to these guys who've made the effort, gone out there and looked in what they thought was a good area, and found it," he said.

Hunting for Clues

Collins is especially interested in clues the images might provide to the way giant squid swim and hunt in the deep ocean.

"Seeing the animals on film gives you a tremendous insight into how they live down there," he said. "It shows they are pretty active animals, and that answers a big question that's been out there for some time."

Collins says there were two competing schools of thought among giant squid experts.

"One was the idea that [giant squid] were fairly inactive and just drifted around, dangling their tentacles below them like fishing lures to catch what came by," he said.

"The other theory was that they were actually quite active. This new evidence supports this, suggesting they are active predators which can move reasonably quickly."


"The efforts the squid went to untangle itself [from the baited fishing line] also shows they are capable of quite strong and rapid movement," he added.

The study team reports that the severed tentacle repeatedly gripped the boat deck and crew after it was hauled aboard. The squid's tentacles are armed with suckers, each ringed with tiny teeth to help snare prey.


Measuring 18 feet (5.5 meters) long, analysis of the tentacle confirmed it came from a giant squid and allowed the researchers to estimate the total length of the animal.

But the researchers caution that their data assume the tentacle was severed at its base. If not, the squid may have been considerably larger. The longest giant squid on record measured 59 feet (18 meters), including its two elongated tentacles.

Shedding Light on Giant Squid

Giant squid, along with their close cousins colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis), have the largest eyes of any animal.

"Giant squid do have particularly large eyes, which would suggest vision is important to them. Having a large eye isn't unusual in deep-sea animals—you see it quite often in fish."

I SEE you

The fact that the animal caught on film was swimming in total darkness suggests the species detects prey using alternative light sources. "The only light down there is likely to be light produced by other animals," said Collins of the British Antarctic Survey.

The Japanese team thinks that research techniques similar to their own could be used to bring about more close encounters with giant squid. Ellis of the American Museum of Natural History agrees.

"I'm sure we can learn a lot from an analysis of these images," he said. "And now that we have an idea of where to look for [the squid], we will undoubtedly get more pictures."

I was going for a greater picture than text ratio on this post. I know I failed. I'll try shoving more pics in between the letters themselves next time.

And now for something completely similar...

The Kraken
Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant fins the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battering upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by men and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Addendum: Bird Flu

salting the birds

The threat to humanity is right next door


I'M worried. Seriously worried. You see, people on the other side of the planet are in a panic. And I'm not talking about hurricanes but the bird flu. In Indonesia. But we Malaysians living next door have been told that there's nothing to worry about. And that is why I am worried.

Surely we should all be concerned when the disease is in a country that we have strong ties with? All these years, we haven’t been able to stop Indonesians hopping on boats to come here illegally, so what makes us think we’re protected from bird flu?

South-East Asia is the epicentre of the epidemic. The disease now seems to be endemic here – that is, it’s not going to disappear any time soon. Even if we don’t import Indonesian chickens, legally or otherwise, the virus can still find its way here through migratory wild birds, which have taken the virus to as far away as Siberia. This is not something we can afford to be relaxed about.
The issue at hand is not whether we can eat our chicken rice tomorrow. Certainly, bird flu is a lethal killer for chickens – more than 100 million were killed in Asia last year, at devastating costs to the industry.

No, the apocalyptic eventuality that keeps some health experts awake at night is a global human flu pandemic. This would make last year’s tsunami look like a storm in a teacup. Billions infected. Tens of millions dead. Mass panic. Mass chaos. Hospitals overloaded. Food stocks dwindling. The global economy in a wreck as trade drops. Communities closing doors to outsiders. The army taking over?. Get the picture?

This isn’t a Hollywood drama. This isn’t about Malaysia winning the World Cup. This is a real possibility.

Right now, this particular strain of the H5N1 virus rarely infects humans. But if it changes genetically to allow the virus to spread easily from person to person, then it will ignite a pandemic.

Nobody knows when and if that change will happen. But the stage is set. Flu viruses change all the time – that’s why we get flu again and again (new strains). And as long as bird flu continues uncontrolled, as long as humans keep getting directly infected by sick birds, then we can expect that change to eventually happen.

Besides, pandemics happen fairly frequently – whenever a strain emerges that humans have no immunity from. The last one was in China in 1968, when 750,000 people died. The big one was in 1918, when up to 50 million people died (some say even 100 million).

This current strain looks nasty. Roughly half the people infected have died. Given that we live in a very mobile, global world, it will spread rapidly. Remember SARS?

Governments are slowly realising that the most immediate threat to humanity is not Osama bin Laden or global warming but disease. Last week, even American President George Bush called for an “international partnership” to fight the disease.

Some countries are stockpiling anti-flu drugs. Britain is even looking for sites for mass mortuaries, according to press reports. But no country is prepared. A vaccine is not even ready.
Surely then, we should try to stop outbreaks happening in the first place here in Asia. Reduce infection and you reduce thechances for the virus to transform. A few months ago, an international meeting was held on this very issue right here in Kuala Lumpur. There was agreement that to stop bird flu, age-old farming practices need to be changed.

Why is bird flu so persistent in Asia and not elsewhere? Basically, because of the way we breed and kill chickens.

It is common to have farms in backyards, where humans, chickens and ducks (a natural host for the virus) all live closely together. Most chickens in Vietnam are reared in backyard farms. No wonder that the disease has been so severe there, with the most human infections.
Plus there’s a lot more poultry (and people) these days – in China, the poultry population has risen from 12 million in 1968 to 13 billion today.

Another Asian practice is slaughtering live birds in markets. Blood from an infected bird flowing freely is hazardous. Also, have you seen how the birds are kept? Chicken faeces – which carries the virus in infected birds – often goes uncleaned in cages and on the floor. How often do markets get cleaned?

Maybe a pandemic will never happen. But I don’t think we should just wait to find out. We should stay on high alert and, meanwhile, improve the way chickens are reared and killed. That’s something we should do anyway. But do you think the average Ah Pek slaughtering chicken in the market has any idea that he might start the next pandemic? I think not.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Riding The Tether


...found this over on WIRED...

...and this over on SPACEWEATHER...


A Minotaur rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Los Angeles on Sept. 22nd, creating a sunset vapor display that amazed onlookers all the way from southern California to Arizona.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hoofbeats In The Distance?


The flu epidemic of 1918 took more lives in one year than the total dead of World War I.

It will happen again.

Airplanes... god damned airplanes. If you hadn't already read
The Hot Zone years ago, you should.

Meanwhile, shiver me

Indonesian Capital May Be Facing a Bird Flu Epidemic (Update1)

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Indonesia's capital Jakarta and its surrounding areas may be facing a bird flu epidemic after at least four people died from the disease, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono said.

The government plans to spend 134 billion rupiah ($13 million) this year to cull poultry in the affected areas, Apriantono said in a phone interview in Jakarta.

"It may be right that it is an epidemic in Jakarta and Tangerang,'' which is 25 kilometers (16 miles) west of the capital, Apriantono said. "So that's why we are concentrating on our efforts in Jakarta and Tangerang.''

Indonesia confirmed its first bird-flu deaths on July 20, after a man and his two daughters died from the virus. The fourth human fatality, a 37-year-old woman, was confirmed to have been killed by bird flu on Sept. 10, Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said on Sept. 16.

Avian influenza has infected more than 100 people in Asia and killed about half of them since 2004, three health agencies, including the World Health Organization, said last month.

no bueno bbq

More than 140 million chickens have been slaughtered in Asia because of concern that H5N1 virus may mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans.

As humans are unlikely to have immunity to a mutated strain of H5N1, the World Health Organization is concerned it may trigger an influenza pandemic like the one that led to more than 40 million deaths worldwide in 1918. All cases of human infection in Asia are believed by health officials to have come from animals.

'Huge Problem'

Indonesia also plans to draft a law that will allow it to punish farmers who refuse to kill their poultry, Apriantono told reporters yesterday after a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss ways to halt the spread of the avian influenza virus.

"The problem is so huge and the international community's capacity to reach each and every chicken farmer is very small,'' Benni Sormin, assistant country representative for the Food and Agriculture Organization in Indonesia, said in an interview.

The Indonesian government has set up a polymerase chain reaction lab to test blood samples for the H5N1 virus in eight provinces. The technique, which is known as PCR, is used to create copies of specific fragments of DNA. PCR amplifies a single DNA molecule into billions of molecules.


So funny I could die.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Sounds Better Than No Plan At All


Nasa says they're gonna get to the moon with spare parts...
Heck, that's good enough for me. Here's the scoop from mega-cool periodical USAToday:

NASA to unveil plans for 2018 moon mission
By Brian Berger,

WASHINGTON — NASA briefed senior White House officials Wednesday on its plan to spend $100 billion and the next 12 years building the spacecraft and rockets it needs to put humans back on the moon by 2018.

(Apollo 12 mission Commander Charles P. "Pete" Conrad is shown on the moon's surface in this Nov. 1969 file photo. NASA file via AP)
obviously a soundstage .... ok, this photo is just so fake. They should have gone with a super awesome ulta mega cool picture, like the one I found above..... yeah! We're gonna fuck up that Moon with Red, White and Blue POWER!
"America! FUCK YEAH! Coming again, to save the mother fucking day yeah"

The U.S. space agency now expects to roll out its lunar exploration plan to key Congressional committees on Friday and to the broader public through a news conference on Monday, Washington sources tell

President George W. Bush called in January 2004 for the United States to return to the moon by 2020 as the first major step in a broader space exploration vision aimed at extending the human presence throughout the solar system.

NASA has been working intensely since April on an exploration plan that entails building an 18-foot (5.5-meter) blunt body crew capsule and launchers built from major space shuttle components, including the main engines, solid rocket boosters and massive external fuel tanks.

That plan, called the Exploration Systems Architecture Study, was presented by NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, his space operations chief Bill Gerstenmaier and several other senior agency officials Wednesday afternoon to senior White House policy officials, including an advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney and the president's Deputy National Security Advisor J.D. Crouch.

NASA's plan, according to briefing charts obtained by, envisions beginning a sustained lunar exploration campaign in 2018 by landing four astronauts on the moon for a seven-day stay.

The expedition would begin, these charts show, by launching the lunar lander and Earth departure stage (essentially a giant propulsion module) on a heavy-lift launch vehicle that would be lifted into orbit by five space shuttle main engines and a pair of five-segment shuttle solid rocket boosters.

Once the Earth departure stage and lunar lander are safely in orbit, NASA would launch the Crew Exploration Vehicle capsule atop a new launcher built from a four-segment shuttle solid rocket booster and an upper stage powered by a single space shuttle main engine.

The CEV would then dock with the lunar lander and Earth departure stage and begin its several day journey to the moon.

NASA's plan envisions being able to land four-person human crews anywhere on the moon's surface and to eventually use the system to transport crew members to and from a lunar outpost that it would consider building on the lunar south pole, according to the charts, because of the regions elevated quantities of hydrogen and possibly water ice.

One of NASA's reasons for going back to the moon is to demonstrate that astronauts can essentially "live off the land" by using lunar resources to produce potable water, fuel and other valuable commodities. Such capabilities are considered extremely important to human expeditions to Mars which, because of the distances involved, would be much longer missions entailing a minimum of 500 days spent on the planet's surface.

NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle is expected to cost $5.5 billion to develop, according to government and industry sources, and the Crew Launch Vehicle another $4.5 billion. The heavy-lift launcher, which would be capable of lofting 125 metric tons of payload, is expected to cost more than $5 billion but less than $10 billion to develop, according to these sources.

NASA's plan also calls for using the Crew Exploration Vehicle, equipped with as many as six seats, to transport astronauts to and from the international space station. An unmanned version of the Crew Exploration Vehicle could be used to deliver a limited amount of cargo to the space station.

NASA would like to field the Crew Exploration Vehicle by 2011, or within a year of when it plans to fly the space shuttle for the last time. Development of the heavy lift launcher, lunar lander and Earth departure stage would begin in 2011. By that time, according to NASA's charts, the space agency would expect to be spending $7 billion a year on its exploration efforts, a figure projected to grow to more than $15 billion a year by 2018, that date NASA has targeted for its first human lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Senate approves $16.4 billion budget

The U.S. Senate approved a $200 million budget increase for NASA Thursday.
The NASA funding was approved as part of a $48.9 billion spending bill that also funds the Justice and Commerce Departments. Of that amount, NASA would receive $16.4 billion for 2006, about $60 million less than the agency requested but $200 million more than it had to spend this year.

The House of Representatives approved NASA's budget in July, providing $15 million more for NASA than it requested but the House bill also would require NASA to spend $110 million more on aeronautics research than it would like, or $952 million.

Similarly, the Senate bill would require NASA to spend $250 million in the year ahead preparing for a space shuttle mission to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA requested only a fraction of that amount for the proposed mission.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, issued a press release Thursday afternoon highlighting, among other things, the extra money added funds for the Hubble Space Telescope. Her press release also states that the $16.4 billion approved by the Senate "fully funds all major space science and earth science programs, the space shuttle, space station, the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and the Moon-Mars initiative."

The Senate passed the spending bill by a vote of 91-4.

The House and Senate now must work out the differences between the two bills before sending the spending legislation to the White House for the president to sign into law.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Psssst... hey

"Rumor has it that Someone , Somewhere is thinking about cheese"

-random voice from Bedlam


Friday, September 09, 2005

Reactive Reactionary Reaction

Heheheh, alright. Here's the setup. I passed on Ben Stein's comments (below) via email to a few friends (because I take bitter pleasure in pissing them off).

El Hombre Nuevo, the man who contributed the awesome post "Human Destiny And The Truth About Oil," has come up with a point for point rebuttal.

This should be fun!

Ben Stein in Red


-El Hombre Nuevo- in Blue

Get Off His Back (Updated)
Published 9/2/2005 11:59:59 PM
***UPDATED: Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005, 2:13 p.m.***

A few truths, for those who have ears and eyes and care to know the truth:

1.) The hurricane that hit New Orleans and Mississippi and Alabama was an astonishing tragedy. The suffering and loss of life and peace of mind of the residents of those areas is acutely horrifying.

1. Amen.

2.) George Bush did not cause the hurricane. Hurricanes have been happening for eons. George Bush did not create them or unleash this one.

2. Of Course Bush did not "create" or "unleash" this hurricane. NOBODY IS
SAYING HE DID. To imply that such statements are being made is to engage in
slander and serves to cast unnecessary doubt over the many valid claims being
made about the insufficiency of the relief OUTCOME. I do not criticize the
relief EFFORT. It is the outcome I wonder about. What about all this
foreknowledge about the realistic potential of such a storm? What about all
the wealth of this country? What about all the simulations and game-planning?

3.) George Bush did not make this one worse than others. There have been far worse hurricanes than this before George Bush was born.

3. Again, no such claims are being made!! Of course Bush did not "make this
one worse than others." I hope this doesn't sound nit-picky but what do you
expect, Ben, when you title your piece 'Get Off His Back' and then proceed to
make a list of grievances? Remember the goal of all this emotion is to end up
with an attitude change about using our vast resources in better ways.

4.) There is no overwhelming evidence that global warming exists as a man-made phenomenon. There is no clear-cut evidence that global warming even exists. There is no clear evidence that if it does exist it makes hurricanes more powerful or makes them aim at cities with large numbers of poor people. If global warming is a real phenomenon, which it may well be, it started long before George Bush was inaugurated, and would not have been affected at all by the Kyoto treaty, considering that Kyoto does not cover the world's worst polluters -- China, India, and Brazil. In a word, George Bush had zero to do with causing this hurricane. To speculate otherwise is belief in sorcery.

4. "There is no clear-cut evidence that global warming even exists." What
planet do you live on Ben? Mars? I don't know of any evidence of rising
temps there. However, on this planet the average temps have been rising for
the last 11,000 years since the last ice age ended. Ice cores, sediment
cores, floral evidence and of course the fact that I am living in the Northern
hemisphere and am not covered in tons of ice all point to a gradual natural
warming. We have no blueprint for how this type of warming plays out so it is
near impossible to ever have hard data on how much of it humans are
responsible for. 1%? 3%? Who really cares. The planet is warming and we
have to deal with it. PS: the IS evidence that global warming does make
hurricanes more powerful. Get your facts straight!! PPS: The US should be
included in your list of "world's worst polluters."

5.) George Bush had nothing to do with the hurricane contingency plans for New Orleans. Those are drawn up by New Orleans and Louisiana. In any event, the plans were perfectly good: mandatory evacuation. It is in no way at all George Bush's fault that about 20 percent of New Orleans neglected to follow the plan. It is not his fault that many persons in New Orleans were too confused to realize how dangerous the hurricane would be. They were certainly warned. It's not George Bush's fault that there were sick people and old people and people without cars in New Orleans. His job description does not include making sure every adult in America has a car, is in good health, has good sense, and is mobile.

5. Chill out Ben!! Being President is like being an NFL quarterback. When
things go well you get more credit than you deserve. When things go bad you
get more blame than is fair. Bush knew this when he put his hand on the that

6.) George Bush did not cause gangsters to shoot at rescue helicopters taking people from rooftops, did not make gang bangers rape young girls in the Superdome, did not make looters steal hundreds of weapons, in short make New Orleans into a living hell.

6. Thanks for clearing that up!!

7.) George Bush is the least racist President in mind and soul there has ever been and this is shown in his appointments over and over. To say otherwise is scandalously untrue.

7. Bush has a very diverse cabinet.

8.) George Bush is rushing every bit of help he can to New Orleans and Mississippi and Alabama as soon as he can. He is not a magician. It takes time to organize huge convoys of food and now they are starting to arrive. That they get in at all considering the lawlessness of the city is a miracle of bravery and organization.

8. True.

9.) There is not the slightest evidence at all that the war in Iraq has diminished the response of the government to the emergency. To say otherwise is pure slander.

9. Actually, to assert that the war in Iraq has not in some small way
diminished our efforts to respond is nonsense. To say nothing of the large
portion of our active and reserve duty people in Iraq with all the related
helicopters, trucks, hummviees, supplies and know-how...imagine how focused
the brain trust of the Pentagon was on Iraq before the storm hit.

10.) If the energy the news media puts into blaming Bush for an Act of God worsened by stupendous incompetence by the New Orleans city authorities and the malevolence of the criminals of the city were directed to helping the morale of the nation, we would all be a lot better off.

10. Most democratically-minded people believe that in a democracy it is
better if the media works to keep the government honest by asking hard

11.) New Orleans is a great city with many great people. It will recover and be greater than ever. Sticking pins into an effigy of George Bush that does not resemble him in the slightest will not speed the process by one day.

11. Effigies are cool!!

12.) The entire episode is a dramatic lesson in the breathtaking callousness of government officials at the ground level. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had gotten her way and they were in charge of your health care. God bless all of those dear people who are suffering so much, and God bless those helping them, starting with George Bush.

12. What does Hillary and health care have to do with any of this? Thanks
for drawing a visible yet meaningless line between two unrelated things. Ben,
you praise government relief efforts earlier in your piece yet quickly turn
cynical about government when an opportunity arose to pull out the old Hillary
health care fear machine. It's a tired song.

****UPDATE: Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005, 2:13 p.m.:More Mysteries of Katrina:Why is it that the snipers who shot at emergency rescuers trying to save people in hospitals and shelters are never mentioned except in passing, and Mr. Bush, who is turning over heaven and earth to rescue the victims of the storm, is endlessly vilified? What church does Rev. Al Sharpton belong to that believes in passing blame and singling out people by race for opprobrium and hate? What special abilities does the media have for deciding how much blame goes to the federal government as opposed to the city government of New Orleans for the aftereffects of Katrina? If able-bodied people refuse to obey a mandatory evacuation order for a city, have they not assumed the risk that ill effects will happen to them? When the city government simply ignores its own sick and hospitalized and elderly people in its evacuation order, is Mr. Bush to blame for that? Is there any problem in the world that is not Mr. Bush's fault, or have we reverted to a belief in a sort of witchcraft where we credit a mortal man with the ability to create terrifying storms and every other kind of ill wind? Where did the idea come from that salvation comes from hatred and criticism and mockery instead of love and co-operation?

And finally...Do not confuse frustrated criticism associated with the scale of
the storm and the massive yet insufficient relief outcome with the frustrated
criticism caused by the fact that we did not read the obvious signs and
prepare ourselves better. A city built below sea-level, near the sea, and
surrounded by a huge river is asking for trouble. We are the wealthiest
nation on Earth yet we could not find the resources to protect a city thought
by all to be a national treasure. What does this say about our priorities? I
do not fault Bush for creating a failure. I fault him for doing nothing to
stop bad policy.

There ya go! Keep it swinging boys!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Cultural Schizophrenia

Artwork by: Tien Yang

Hey folks, here's one from a couple years ago...
(excuse my recycling, somehow it seemed to fit this period of time as our eyes empty New Orleans)

Cultural Schizophrenia

Dimes drip from the tip of his fingers
Far off wildfires drape orange clouds over the city
Life has become a waiting, a sweat between wrist and watch
Nervous eyes flicker in bouts of paranoid peering
The corners carry spiders, the stains on the carpet move of their own accord
Dancing motes of light whisper
Streak vision blurs conception, clarity, confusion
Pressures crack the glass, water pouring, pressing, breaking in
Tunnels of low consciousness swallow our sounds
Words come from the nightmare of waking ominous waking on the bus
Ours is a glass of hours
We file like tethered beads through the narrow eye
The dogs strain, choking on the leash
Time is coming
The world demands attention, portrayal, extension,
participation, expression, analysis, explanation, help
Spell check my soul
Spell check all our souls
Life in these times demands, asks, wonders where we are going
Remember what days, what nights, what life we have before
The pivot that divides us before and us after
Help choose the right path
Find magnetic hearts sitting skewered in pools, floating free, pointing
Endure the time of pain, grieve the process, take the steps to sanity and harmony and living
Time never asks. Ask never, this time
Backwards through the night through to dawn; back from noon to the morning
The moorings rip loose
The great ship cast adrift
The flags tattered, the squall oncoming
The wailing of millions
This time is the time of time begging definition
The change this time is asking us to see it
To know what we are
To be eyes in the storm
Our hands grasp, clutch, grope for meaning
The meaning is this meaningless
Tongue chewing inference, implication, intuition
Intelligence beguiled