John Stewart on Fresh Air today was pretty good, not so much for the humor but his righteous comments about failed media. Back when journalism was a respected thing, politicians didn't challenge reporters to duels just for asking questions. (Or maybe that says more about Zell Miller than it says about the state of journalism today.)


Bill O'Reilly contradicted by George Bush (excerpt from Democracy Now).
Clip from an interview in which Bill O'Reilly is lightly grilling Bush about immigration policy. Bush questions an invented statistic that O'Reilly pulled out of his ass.

GEORGE BUSH: ...Now, look, people are coming because they want to work. You know that. Family values don't stop at the border.... If you can make 50 cents in the interior of Mexico and $5 in the interior of the United States, you're coming from the $5.

BILL O’REILLY: 90% of them are, but 10% are bad guys. A lot of bad guys coming in.

GEORGE BUSH: I don't know how you got the 10% number.

BILL O’REILLY: The border patrol, incarceration, violent crime, that.

I think O'really is taking the crime of illegal border crossings and assuming that they're going to commit other crimes after popping their crime-cherry. Like the act of crossing illegally makes them criminals, and labelling them as criminals implies they're going to do other horrible things like robbery (instead of just working at jobs that withold taxes and Social Security from their pay, neither of which will necessarily return any benefits to them later).

It's pretty damn bad if your statistics are so transparently fictional that even George Bush asks where you got them.


The Passion of Dan

In Sunday's edition of Le Show, Harry Shearer pointed out a great irony in the recent crucifixion of Dan Rather. On the day that CBS aired that story about Bush's record in the National Guard, they had been considering a different story about the Yellowcake uranium that Saddam supposedly tried to buy from Niger. So CBS ran a story based on forged documents, instead of running a story about the government's use of forged documents. The network has cleaned up its act and decided to "shelve" the uranium story until after the election.


A few days ago I noticed one of those typical war-endorsing slogans on the back of a semi. Something about "Support our troops, support our country, don't give comfort to the enemy."

In the past I would have argued that these people are ridiculous when they claim anti-war = comforting the enemy. But a whole different angle occurred to me.

Yes, I want to give comfort to some of your enemies, because some of the people you choose as your enemies have done nothing wrong and don't deserve to be attacked. Forget Saddam and Osama and Al Qaeda for a moment, because we all basically agree that those people need to be stopped and justice must be served.

But when you kill thousands of Afghans and Iraqis because of their corrupt leaders, your list of enemies has gone way too wide. It's like a farmer applying fertilizer to his plants. Why spend the time and money to direct fertilizer just on your plants, when you can spray cheap fertilizer all over stuff? It won't matter to you when the fertilizer runs off into streams, out to the ocean causing blooms of algae that kill fish. It might matter to your grandchildren who will be paying for the cleanup or living with the consequences, but as long as the immediate thing is cheap for you, then go for it.

They do the same thing with bombs. We know that there are some bad dudes in this area, so we spread the bombs over the general territory, get a little "collateral damage" which is only an appropriate term when we use it, but not appropriate when Timothy McVeigh uses the term similarly.

That's why the enemies in this war are not fairly targeted. That's why it is appropriate for people who disagree with the methods of the war to give comfort to some of the enemies. Because some of the people that we need to comfort and protect are old ladies, grandparents, children, pregnant women, and maybe some grown up men and women who did nothing wrong, just walked through the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time.

If you're going to be that sloppy when picking your "enemies," then don't expect everyone to stick on your side.

It's the same way with "winning or losing" the war. Everyone remembers Bush's demand that you're either with him or you're with the terrorists. Victory to him is the same way. He only considers it a "win" if it happens on his terms, and any other conditions are a loss as far as he's concerned. So if we withdrew troops right now, that would seem like a loss to him, no matter how many people around the world benefitted, no matter how much it would harm the recruiting efforts of terrorists who love our "crusade" (sic) against them.

Do I want the United States to lose the war? Given the twisted, inhumane conditions of victory that Bush and the Coalition demand, yes, I want them to feel they've lost. This does not mean lots of American troops killed and terrorists in power over there. It means for justice to be served, for democracy to be increased in Iraq and in America, it would require a situation that would not fulfill Bush's conditions of victory, therefore they would consider it a loss.

It makes me sound "anti-American" to wish for Bush to feel like he has lost, but if justice can not fit in with their plans, then we need their plans to be blocked in order to have justice.
Just listened to Christian Parenti from The Nation Magazine debating with Karl Zinsmeister of American Enterprise Magazine about whether things are getting better or worse in Iraq. (Go to to listen to it.) In his attempts to make Iraq sound like most of it is functioning smoothly and quietly, he kept turning to examples of businesses doing well.

Bush in the Rose Garden with his counterpart, unelected Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, on 23 Sept 2004:
"On television sets around the world, we see acts of violence -- yet, in most of Iraq, children are about to go back to school, parents are going back to work and new businesses are being opened. Over 100 companies are now listed on the Iraqi stock exchange. And an average of five new companies are joining each week. Electricity has been restored above pre-war levels. Telephone service has increased dramatically. More than 2,000 schools have been renovated and millions of new textbooks have been distributed." [Emphasis added.]

Funny how they don't mention numbers of people getting fed, number of people homeless, the basics of food, shelter & clothing. Even the thing about phone service is kinda middle class. You can get by without a phone, as impossible as it might be for spoiled Americans to imagine. Zinsmeister actually talked about Iraqis taking vacations in the northern part of the country lately. What percent of homes in Iraq have Xbox? Could you possibly get further away from the things that matter to average people? Hell, I was 15 or 16 before my parents went on vacation outside of the state of Michigan. How many people across the world can afford to take vacations, and what kind of idiotic indicator is that about the development of Iraq?

Ugh. Anyhow, forget the travel thing, and just notice how many apologists for the invasion use statistics about business in Iraq as the main indicator that the country's doing fine. Once again, the people who matter are people who own buildings, factories, swaths of land. Other people don't count. As long as factory owners in Iraq prosper, that's all they notice.


"It doesn't matter if your boat is a 27 footer or a 54 footer. This lady treats everybody like regular people."
- my uncle, talking about a genial hostess who treated upper-middle class yacht owners with no classist difference from the upper class yacht owners. He said this while we were out on his 27 foot boat. In case he's reading this, I love him, but this was a funny thing to say.

"What a lot of people are saying is it's very possible to take Putin and his government at their word. To say that Putin has a commitment to the idea of democracy, that Russia has committed itself to a European choice, and that it doesn't really make anything that you have to be worried about or afraid of. But what people are concerned about is what happens after Putin. The ultra-nationalists have shown stronger and stronger showings in all the recent elections. If Putin were to leave office and a nationalist for example, a warmonger were to get into power, and had the amount of power that's now been accumulated institutionally, then everybody would have something to worry about."
- Kim Murphy from the Los Angeles Times on NPR's Day-To-Day, contrasting Putin with a "nationalist war-monger", apparently with no irony intended.
The Roof Is On Finance! (30 days, same as cash)
Here's the world famous World War I flying ace, drinking root beer and telling his comrades about the new roof on his house. Why am I regressing to Snoopy parody? Because like Snoopy's doghouse, our house looks small from the outside, but surprisingly large on the inside.

So anyhow, I had signed a contract with a local roofing company that's been around for 98 years and makes their own shingles. They're going to tear off the top layers of old shingles, check to make sure the base layer is not damaged, and then apply a new layer of shingles over top. Dude said he'd call back when he could get us on their schedule. That was a week or two ago.

This morning a little before 10 am, Melinda was still awake and I thought I came awake for no apparent reason. We were talking and kept hearing some thumping sounds outside. Sometimes when a neighbor slams a car door or does anything else loud, it resounds through our house and you can feel it through the floor. This went on, off and on for five minutes, until one of the thumps sounded very distinctly like it came from the back corner of our house. I pulled back a curtain and saw packages of shingles, some ladders, and a truck pulled backwards in the neighbor's driveway.

Hope this isn't a sign of how the whole process will go. Partly our fault, though, because they called and left a message. Melinda was on the computer all night and all morning, so we didn't check the voicemail until after the discovery out the window.

Anyhow, we'll have a garnet red roof in a few days, our savings will be empty, and all will be nifty.


Lotion is a song by the Greenskeepers. 10 Mb mov so you might want to try it at work, if you can get away with watching clips from Silence of the Lambs and a hilarious/eerie song written around the whole "It puts the lotion in the basket" scene.


links to Sustainable Housing and Permaculture lectures, radio shows, resources:
Good Green Homes on Your Call Radio (Your Call 14 SEP 2004)
Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility
Healthy Building Network

...and scary stuff that will make you want to understand Sustainable Housing and Permaculture:
Agricultural System Gone Mad (Richard Manning on Your Call Radio 12 FEB 2004)
The Oil We Eat (Manning and David Holmgren rebroadcast on Unwelcome Guests)
The Coming of the Post-Carbon Age (Richard Heinberg, Julian Darley, Michael Klare on Unwelcome Guests)

"I'm not sure Prologue [Films] will take the design world by storm, but I do know that we will never do anything that I do not think is perfect. I will never compromise again."
-- Kyle Cooper, quoted in the June 2004 Wired. Cooper is not a young, idealistic maker of feature films protecting his artistic integrity. He's a young, idealistic maker of two-minute long title sequences for feature films, protecting his artistic integrity. Apparently his title sequence to Flubber may have been a compromise. No, seriously.

Harper's Index, August 2004, shows the differing values of human lives as pro-rated by our selected representatives:
$4.5 million -- Compensation the US govt has paid Iraqis for wrongful deaths, injuries, and property damage since 2002.
$11.4 million -- Total "death gratuities" the US govt has paid since then to survivors of US soldiers killed in Iraq.
Average number of kidnappings per week in Iraq since March 2004: 5
Number of non-Iraqis detained there by US forces in the last year: 400 (average of 7.7 per week for 52 weeks, and this number would be astronomically higher if it counted Iraqis detained there)

Funny how the terrorists "kidnap", while we merely "detain." Chechnyan terrorists kill 300+ civilians in one action and it makes world news. Any actions by the Russian army in Chechnya that might have killed 50 or 100 civilians here and there over the course of months or years are negligible, explained as an unfortunate side-effect of their need to keep stability in the region, not even worth reporting or commenting on, clearly not comparable to the baby killers in that Russian school because the Russian army had good intentions.

Violence by terrorists is just as deplorable as violence by states, but if you look at it fairly, those Chechyan terrorists probably felt they were evening the score, bringing the civilian body count on the Russian side closer to the civilian body count on the Chechnyan side. Why is it more horrible for Chechnyans to bomb a school in Russia, but not horrible or even newsworthy when Russians systematically kill hundreds or thousands in a campaign to prevent some of their citizens from seceding? I'm not introducing "moral equivalence" into the argument, I'm just trying to ask why the existing moral equivalence (like this opinion from Gary Kasparov) is skewed in favor of terrorist states instead of terrorist insurgents.


Note to self: when p2p and broadband reach the singularity where almost all movies and tv shows will be available for download from other collectors, and when you can finally afford that kind of broadband, download episodes of the following mixed-up fantasy/sci fi cartoons...

Galtar and the Golden Lance
Thundarr the Barbarian
Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea
Ulysses 31
Vytor the Starfire Champion

...okay, forget the classification. Get all these too:
Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures
I Am The Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali!


"WAL*MART: Our PR Jobs are Not for the Faint of Heart"
This job listing inside the back of PR Week for 30 Aug 2004 caught my eye. "The current media interest in our company is probably unprecedented in the history of public relations. Add the fact that our critics are organized, well-funded and passionate in their attacks on our business. The result is a need for talented PR professionals who are willing to work hard, aren't easily daunted and thrill to the adrenalin rush of daily high-stakes reputation combat played out in top tier media outlets around the world." If you have at least 7 years of PR experience and you're willing to relocate to the foothills of the Arkansas Ozarks, they want you.
Everybody stay calm, no sudden moves, just vote for Bush and nobody gets hurt.

Dick Cheney on Sept. 7, 2004: "We're now at that point where we're making that kind of decision for the next 30 or 40 years, and it's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake for us."

A crucial detail in understanding this statement by Dick Cheney is what he means by the phrase "from the standpoint of the United States." He means the standpoint of people who matter in the United States. As far as he's concerned, that would include people who own substantial things, people who donate substantial amounts to politicians. By the way they talk and act, you can deduce that Republicans really, really do not care about lesser people, or else they would not be so busy redistributing wealth upwards to people who are already fabulously well to-do.

Another terrorist attack would be devastating to the stock market and to people who can afford to dabble in it. At least if the Bush administration is in power, consumer confidence will rebound when we attack some irrelevant nation like Iran or Sudan as "retaliation". Then the people who matter to Cheney will be protected from financial hardship.

The number of people who die in a terrorist attack are not devastating "from the standpoint of the United States" (that is, from the standpoint of people wealthy enough to matter). Because if it made any difference how many lives were lost, we could save hundreds of times more lives by providing adequate health care to our own citizens. After raising the child mortality rate to a level that would be competitive with industrial nations, we could spend a tiny portion of our wealth on drugs to prevent easily treatable diseases like malaria and diarrhea in children around the world, thousands of other preventable deaths each day that could be prevented for a few cents each.

So you can tell by their actions that money is what matters. The financial effect of terrorist attacks would be devastating, but human lives are nowhere in the equation.


A good analogy hit me last week over the phone. While we were walking around the Great Lakes Folk Fest several weeks ago, I registered to win a free cruise. On Friday, someone called from Ontario to let me know that we had won 16 nights and 15 days at several different vacation hotspots, Orlando, Daytona Beach, somewhere in Mexico and a short cruise to the Bahamas. Awesome. So they read all this stuff to me about what I had won, that it was transferrable and could be used any time in an 18 month window of opportunity, or that we could sell it. Cutting to the chase, all this fabulous stuff could be ours as long as we pay the tiny port fee of $199 per person for entering the Bahamas, or we could skip that and still get all the other accomodations in Florida and Mexico for $374 for two people.

Sit back and digest this for a moment, and most people would not argue that what you've won is a cheap promotional package. To be even more honest, it's not like you've really "won" anything, because winning does not usually entail paying $700+ for your prize.

Most people would see that the company's claim that you had "won" something was inconsistent with the "prize" that they've described. Why is it that people can recognize that these claims are bull, but they don't recognize the claims of their government when they clearly vear away from results or actions.

Appointing unelected "interim governments" headed by former CIA operatives does not exactly bring democracy to a place. When you hold a meeting in Germany to determine who will become the head of government in Afganistan, it's hard to believe that's democracy. People in our government and some other governments make claims about their reasons for doing things, then they behave in ways totally inconsistent with their claims, and people just ignore it. The claim sticks with them and the inconsistent behavior breezes past without registering.

Wouldn't it be nice if people treated the claims of their politicians with as much healthy skepticism as they treat telemarketers?

No, we aren't going to Florida or Mexico or the Bahamas, and we won't be paying for the "prize".


Into your super computer, feed Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, With Six You Get Eggroll, Bullitt, every episode of the tv show Alice, all the footage you can find of Vic Tayback. When you can get a cgi simulation of Vic blowing his top in the classic way he did on Alice, then it's time to begin writing scripts.

In this delightful spin-off, Vic Tayback runs a vitamin outlet in Purgatory. Beth Howland to reprises her role as Vera, or as Mel always called her, "Dingy!". Vera led an upright life, so she's not in Purgatory for herself. She's there by choice, as a guardian angel to coax Mel through his torments, on his long road towards Heaven. Of course, Mel always gets mad at Vera, making it even harder for him to escape from Purgatory. As you can imagine, hijinx and hilarity ensue.

The name of Mel's new place and the title of the show:

Mel Atonin'!
Beaming Pink
It is a pink kitchen, but it is our pink kitchen.

I painted from about 12:30 to 3:30 AM last night after work. Given that the walls and ceiling are about 250 square feet, minus window and door and archway, that's about 83.3333 square feet per hour.

When I finished, I felt like making some Tim Allen-style grunts to indicate my masculine accomplishment, but we have to talk about whether it needs another coat. Ugh. And I'm worried about whether the masking tape around all the edges will come off easily, or if I'll have to cut it away to prevent the paint from tearing at the edges.

All that, and it still won't be finished for a while. The corners around the ceiling are all scraggly where pieces of plaster chipped off and where I didn't bother sanding the taping compound smooth. We're hoping to cover it with some wide trim of some kind, maybe after the roof is done and we see how much money is left, or how much overtime comes my way over the fall and winter.

I thought Melinda just liked the idea of pink in general, but she said something the other day about the walls matching her Strawberry Shortcake curtains. I said, "You mean all this time, the whole point of painting the kitchen pink was so it could match your curtains?" She stalled long enough to communicate YES.