Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Just what did Dr. Rice know and when did she know it? Now that she will go public before the 9/11 Commission, we might be lucky enough to get some insight into this faith-based administration. Until then, look over these bits o' tid, courtesy of Eschaton. The first quote is from Dr. Rice:

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center . . . that they would try to use . . . a hijacked airplane as a missile."

"Italy has installed a missile defence system at Genoa's airport to deter airborne attacks during next week's G8 summit, fuelling hysteria about looming violence.

A land-based battery of rockets with a range of nine miles and an altitude of 5,000 feet has been positioned in the latest security measure against perceived threats from terrorists and protesters.


"Unsourced stories of terrorist weapon hoards and sachets of HIV-infected blood have appeared in the Italian media, stoking an atmosphere of doom.

The millionaire terrorist, Osama bin Laden, has been linked to an alleged plot to assassinate the US president, George Bush."

Monday, March 29, 2004

Ant Updates
For those of you who have been looking for a place to get the latest news on ants (and who wouldn't?), here is a website that provides that service nicely. I've also added Myrmecology News Journal to the list on the right.....

Friday, March 26, 2004

The 9/11 Commission
Richard Clarke's testimony to the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was the most sincere of the bunch.....his following quote was one that should've been voiced years ago:

"Your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter, because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness."

When wildfire incidents are investigated, it is understood that all sources of information are available for study: transcripts, assignment logs, fire plans, etc. with the goal of finding out what went wrong, and how to prevent similar disasters in the future. All members of fire teams understand this. For the 9/11 Commission, all sources of information should be made available, and Rice must testify as well. It's the only way for everyone to openly see the past mistakes, correct them and move on. As adults and parents, we always teach our children to own up to our own mistakes, and not to blame someone else.

Open Mike Night
So Dubya decided to try his hand at a little West Wing stand-up at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association 60th annual dinner. He apparently narrated a slide of himself looking under furniture in a fruitless search with "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." Jesus H., how boneheaded can you be? I've already heard the spin on this, with folks saying "Well, tons of comedians have made similar jokes, why can't the President?" Well folks, comedians get paid to make these jokes, the President is paid to make decisions to place our kids in harms' way based on sound evidence of WMD's......even if he is trying to make light of it, let him try that joke at Walter Reed hospital.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Peanuts, get 'yer hot Peanuts here.......
My very good friend (and fellow comic geek) William sent me a note recently regarding Fantagraphics' new series reprinting every single Peanuts comic strip from 1952 until the end. They will be publishing 25 books over a period of twelve and a half years! Some excerpts from their web site:

"Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce the most eagerly-awaited and ambitious publishing project in the history of the American comic strip: the complete reprinting of CHARLES M. SCHULZ’s classic, PEANUTS. Considered to be one of the most popular comic strips in the history of the world, PEANUTS will be, for the first time, collected in its entirety and published, beginning in April, 2004. Fantagraphics will launch THE COMPLETE PEANUTS in a series designed by the cartoonist SETH (Palookaville, It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken) and produced in full cooperation with United Media, Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, and Mr. Schulz’s widow, Jean Schulz."

"The genesis of the project began in 1997 when Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth approached Charles Schulz with the proposition of publishing PEANUTS in its entirety. After Schulz’s death in January, 2000, Groth continued discussing the project with Schulz’s widow, Jean Schulz. “It’s safe to say that this project wouldn’t have happened if Jean Schulz weren’t as enthusiastic and supportive as she’s been,” said Groth. Added Jean Schulz: “This seemed like an impossible project, considering all the ‘lost’ strips, but Gary’s determination never flagged, and we are so happy with the aesthetic sensibility of the Fantagraphics team.”

Each volume in the series will run approximately 320 pages in a 8” x 6 1/2” hardcover format, presenting two years of strips along with supplementary material. The series will present the entire run in chronological order, dailies and Sundays. Since the strip began in late 1950, the first volume will include all the strips from 1950, 1951, and 1952, but subsequent volumes will each comprise exactly two years. Dailies will run three to a page, while Sunday strips will each take up a full page and be printed in black-and-white, an aesthetic choice agreed upon by the editors, the designer, and Mrs. Schulz."

I would have preferred the Sundays in color, but I do remember the black-and-white Sunday strips from the Fawcett-Crest softcovers. Six hundred bucks for all of the strips? Not a bad deal (but maybe I could get a discount if I ask that all of the "Spike and his desert cactus" strips be removed!

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The Flip-Flop and Nothing but the Flip-Flops
When the Internet was dreamed up many years ago, it was originally designed as a method to transfer tons of data between user groups such as the military and colleges. Nowadays (besides having a thousand "Lord of the Rings" websites), it can be utilized as an incredible factchecking tool to puncture politicians' bloated lies. Kos (as always) has the straight poop:

Republicans and Bush, in particular, thrived under the Ari Fleischer school of media management. An old story I read somewhere recounts how Ari, working for a congressman, dealt with a sticky situation. A reporter called to ask why Ari's boss had voted for a certain bill. Fleischer denied the vote. The reporter, flummoxed, said he'd confirm the vote and call back.
Fleischer's boss had voted for the bill. But having confirmed the vote, Fleischer made sure not to take that reporter's call again.

Simple and genius. Lie, force doubt into the reporter's mind, and change the subject as quickly as possible. It worked for Bush in 2000, and a complacent media went along for the ride.

The media stuck with the Bush bandwagon through the first three years of his term, through a disastrous war and one tax-cut-motivated lie after another (tax cuts create jobs! said the Republicans after presiding over the loss of 2.4 million jobs).

But something funny happened in 2003. The media landscape shifted. Suddenly, the Internet became a 24/7 oppo research and fact checking tool. The Republicans remain wilfully ignorant of their online would-be allies. The Democratic Party -- outgunned, outmanned, outfinanced, and out-of-power -- was not so myopic.

Hardly a day goes by when I don't see a blog-inspired email blasted out by some party functionary, be it the DSCC, DCCC, DNC or affiliated organizations. Those institutions -- the very core of the "Democratic Party Establishment" -- are linking to blogs at increased rates. And the results speak for themselves.

For example, my reader-powered "Bush Flip Flops" post on Saturday hit Andrew Sullivan, WaPo and dozens, if not hundreds, of blogs today. In one fell swoop, we turned a GOP talking point against our candidate against theirs, and people outside of the blogosphere "echo chamber" were receptive to the message.

I didn't write that flip-flop post. Reader TK did. Yet it'll now be picked up by the party and other media outlets when "balancing" out the RNC spin points. We are on our way to neutralizing what might've been the GOP's strongest line of attack against Kerry.

Fact is, this is a brutal time to be in GOoPer politics. The old tricks of the trade don't work anymore. Once upon a time, politicos preyed on the public's short attention span. Say one thing today, pretend you never said that tomorrow knowing no one would call you on it. ("Imminent threat", anyone?)

Bloggers like Bilmon started exposing the administration's blatant lies, and surprise! discovered that they had a hungry audience. It was thus inevitable that such blog-provided "context" started making it into news stories (the Billmon expose of the WMD quotes was hugely influential in driving down the administration's credibility on the issue). And Google makes political research as easy as typing in a phrase in a text box. No more hours of microfiche headaches at the public library.

The Bush Administration is now in a quandry, never before faced by a political campaign. EVERY WORD IT UTTERS can be instantly fact checked and vetted against previous administration proclamations. And the press, lazy as it is, doesn't even have to do the research. They simply have to read the blogs (and they certainly do). The party can pick the best bits of the day and mold them into spin and talking points. Their overstretched, overworked research departments now have reinforcements of major caliber.

Kos nails it.......for those of us who care about truth and honesty, any statement can be checked. Anyone with a PC and access to the internet can be their own Woodward and Bernstein. You would think that the press would be all over flase statements and backtracks with the ease of research.

For those of you who want to read the "flip-flop post," here it is:

So Bush has a site somewhere that tracks Kerry's "flip-flops". Reader TK probably spent three seconds coming up with this list of Bush flip flops. It's not like they're hard to find:
Bush is against campaign finance reform; then he's for it.

Bush is against a Homeland Security Department; then he's for it.

Bush is against a 9/11 commission; then he's for it.

Bush is against an Iraq WMD investigation; then he's for it.

Bush is against nation building; then he's for it.

Bush is against deficits; then he's for them.

Bush is for free trade; then he's for tariffs on steel; then he's against them again.

Bush is against the U.S. taking a role in the Israeli Palestinian conflict; then he pushes for a "road map" and a Palestinian State.

Bush is for states right to decide on gay marriage, then he is for changing the constitution.

Bush first says he'll provide money for first responders (fire, police, emergency), then he doesn't.

Bush first says that 'help is on the way' to the military ... then he cuts benefits

Bush-"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. Bush-"I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care.

Bush claims to be in favor of the environment and then secretly starts drilling on Padre Island.

Bush talks about helping education and increases mandates while cutting funding.

Bush first says the U.S. won't negotiate with North Korea. Now he will

Bush goes to Bob Jones University. Then say's he shouldn't have.

Bush said he would demand a U.N. Security Council vote on whether to sanction military action against Iraq. Later Bush announced he would not call for a vote

Bush said the "mission accomplished" banner was put up by the sailors. Bush later admits it was his advance team.

Bush was for fingerprinting and photographing Mexicans who enter the US. Bush after meeting with Pres. Fox, he's against it.

Are there untruths out there? Of course.......just because something is in print or on the Internet does not automatically make it the truth....you still have to be smart. The potential for the internet's vast storage capacity has the capability to really hold politicians' feet to the fire. You make a promise, you better deliver or be held accountable. No more empty promises just to garner votes.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Outsourcing and the Stock Market
I am in no way an economic expert, but it seems to me that there is a direct link between investing in stocks and outsourcing labor. All of the companies that offer up public stock owe it to their investors to keep profits up. They answer now to their shareholders, perhaps more so than their labor. So, if you're a large company that has to keep profits up so that the stock is healthy, the best way to immediately trim costs is to get cheaper labor: part-time with no benefits, overseas cheap no-unions labor, etc. This is what the shareholders expect. I know I'm stating the obvious and offering up no solutions.....

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