Friday, February 23, 2007

Cold, Hard Science

By Tom Purcell

"I knew it! I knew that humans are the cause of global warming!"

"Ah, yes, you refer to a summary report recently released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It concludes that human actions are 'very likely' the cause of global warming."

"Very likely? The summary says there's a 90 percent probability that greenhouse gases, a byproduct of the fossil fuels we burn, are causing the Earth to warm."

"Look, it is a fact that the Earth is warming. But the exact cause of the warming has not yet been proven. That is the unfortunate truth."

"You're a Republican, aren't you?"

"Politics should have nothing to do with science. Scientists are supposed to follow the scientific method. They come up with a hypothesis, then apply a rigorous, objective, measurable process to either prove or disprove it."

"Your point?"

"How is it that there's a 90 percent chance humans are causing global warming? Doesn't that mean there's a 10 percent chance we've got nothing to do with it? Shouldn't scientists be more precise ­ that humans are causing all global warming or none of it or 28.3756 percent of it?"

"But the atmosphere is incredibly complex. I think you're asking a lot."

"Maybe I am, but let me ask you a question. A plane is designed and built based on scientific facts and principles. Would you board a plane if it only had a 90 percent probability of arriving at its destination?"

"Not sober. But isn't there a consensus among the world's scientists? Many believe that human activity is the cause of global warming."

"The key word is 'believe.' Scientists aren't supposed to believe. They're supposed to prove or disprove. As for consensus, Michael Crichton had some interesting thoughts. He says consensus the first refuge of scoundrels. He talked about it in a speech he gave in 2003."

"Michael Crichton the novelist?"

"Yes. He's also medical doctor and scientist. He said consensus is the business of politics, not science. He said that the great scientific discoveries have never come about by consensus, but by bold scientists who have struck off on their own. When a thing is proven to be a scientific truth, there's no need for consensus. You never hear somebody say 'a consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2.'"

"So what are you getting at?"

"It is possible that humans are causing the Earth to warm. It's also possible that it's a natural cycle ­ the Earth is always warming and cooling. It's possible that the increase in greenhouse gases has nothing to do with global warming. A lot of things are possible, but we need our scientists to uncover the facts ­ not beliefs or speculation or opinion."

"That sounds like a heck of a difficult task."

"It surely is. Meteorologists have trouble predicting what the weather will be like in 24 hours. I can't imagine how hard it will be to prove what the climate will be like in 100 years, but that is their burden."

"You're tough."

"The truth is, we all need to get back to the basics. Journalists should hold scientists to account. There is a lot of fiction out there masquerading as fact and we need our journalists to get and report the truth and nothing but the truth."

"I suppose you'll criticize our politicians, too?"

"To be sure. Some are purposely clouding the issue to raise campaign dough and curry favor with some voters. The press must hold them to account, too."

"What about the rest of us?"

"Even if it is proven that we're not causing the Earth to warm, we should act anyhow. Why don't we demand technology that allows cars to get 60 miles to the gallon? We're pumping billions of dollars into oil-producing nations that only mean us harm."

"That's no good."

"And why in a country as ingenious as ours haven't we already switched to cheap, clean alternatives to gasoline, coal and natural gas? Why not nuclear power? Why not cars that run on fuel cells or some other technology that hasn't even been invented yet?"

"Beats me."

"And why haven't we invented a technology fueled by our most abundant resource ­ one that could cleanly power our plants and cars?"

"What resource would that be?"

"Hot air. I doubt we'll ever have a shortage of that."

~ ~ ~

Tom Purcell is a humor columnist nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons. For comments to Tom, please email him at

This morning's read

US Iran intelligence 'is incorrect'

Much of the intelligence on Iran's nuclear facilities provided to UN inspectors by US spy agencies has turned out to be unfounded, diplomatic sources in Vienna said today.

The claims, reminiscent of the intelligence fiasco surrounding the Iraq war, coincided with a sharp increase in international tension as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was defying a UN security council ultimatum to freeze its nuclear programme.

That report, delivered to the security council by the IAEA director general, Mohammed ElBaradei, sets the stage for a fierce international debate on the imposition of stricter sanctions on Iran and raises the possibility that the US could resort to military action against Iranian nuclear sites.

More ...

N.Y.U. Student Republicans Mount Jaunty (Racist?) “Immigrant” Hunt

They’re not exactly descending upon Washington Square Park with horse and hound, but members of the College Republican club of New York University have certainly managed to offend some rather more proletarian sensibilities with their “Find the Illegal Immigrant” challenge, scheduled for today between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

From The Associated Press:

[M]embers of the club who present their N.Y.U. identification become immigration agents looking for an illegal in the crowd. The agent who successfully identifies the illegal immigrant wins a gift certificate.

Students have sent club officials e-mails calling the the event “racist” and “disgusting.” But the club said it is about stoking debate on the issue of illegal immigrants.

(Further clarification — it seems that an “actor” will play an “illegal immigrant,” wearing a label saying as much. The first contestant to find him or her in the crowd will win a prize.)

More ...

Michael Jackson 'to convert to Islam'

Michael Jackson could soon convert to Islam, according to his brother Jermaine.

The fallen pop star, who was acquitted of child abuse charges two years ago, has been reading Islamic books and developed an interest in the faith, his brother claims.

Jermaine, 52, became a Muslim in 1989 and said he thought it "most probable" that Michael, 48, would follow him.

More ...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

All Things Require Structure

On the grounds of the ASARCO Mine - one of the
world's largest open pit copper mines.

What's Happened to the NEWS?

The Decline of US Media: Fox News Leads Race to the Bottom
by Josh Silver
from The Huffington Post

Senator Barack Obama is refusing to appear on Fox News after the network reported a litany of GOP-talking point lies about the presidential candidate. A coalition of organizations is leading a bold campaign to convince Democrats not to play ball with Fox and urge businesses to pull their ads from the network. Why is this issue so important? Let's start with three facts you might not know:

  1. Over 60% of Americans get their primary news from television;
  2. The most watched TV news channel is Fox News (with more viewers than CNN & MSNBC combined);
  3. The handful of massive companies that own most of the US media care primarily about profit, not delivering a quality product.

Understand this, and you understand why it took five years for majorities of Americans to stop supporting our blundering and dangerous president while losing our nation's integrity and the world's goodwill.

These facts are also crucial to understanding why, four years into the Iraq debacle, when President Bush and his cronies should be worrying about impeachment but aren't, when Anna Nicole Smith dominates the news for two weeks, and when stories like the "emerging Iranian threat" continue to be ripped and read from Pentagon press releases, you likely feel that we are doomed to a lethal replay of Groundhog Day for years to come.

Fox News continues to amaze us and propagandize many, labeling as fringe-left anyone who disagrees with the president, takes issue with tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, says that Iraq is a quagmire, or dares to declare that all Americans deserve a living wage and guaranteed health care. The narrow, corporate-driven rhetoric that passes as reasonable political debate on Fox and most of the mainstream American media has become a laughing stock - if only to keep us from crying.

Owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, and run by far-right operative Roger Ailes, the network has figured out how to deliver rightwing-propaganda-dressed-as-legitimate-news into millions of living rooms every day using reactionary messages, cutting-edge graphics and a fast-paced infotainment format. Their latest antics falsely allege that Democratic senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama went to a Muslim grade school, was raised by his Muslim father, that his middle name is a major liability, and that....don't inhale.....he's a cigarette smoker! (The last one is true, but their point is?) Brave New Films released this two-minute video on Thursday that details the Obama smear, and Obama has wisely decided not to appear on Fox in the future.

But Fox is not alone. CNN, CBS, ABC, and NBC are not much better, except for a few journalists who have awoken from their power-induced haze to occasionally deliver actual reporting: Lou Dobbs on labor issues (if not immigration); Anderson Cooper in New Orleans (though the type of reporting he did there is becoming a distant memory), and the increasingly brilliant clarity of Keith Olbermann. But 99 percent of the time Americans remain flooded with 24/7 celebrity, soundbyte and uncritical fare - at the expense of investigative journalism, government accountability, and informed political debate.

And unless TV viewers teach themselves to become savvy Internet users, they're increasingly out of luck. Newspapers, the media outlets that hire real reporters to dig up real stories - local and national - are dying a quiet and quickening death. Circulation is withering as the industry is battered by online classified services such as Craig's list and migration of readership to the Net with its free content and immediacy. Combine this with increased operating costs and consolidated ownership (refer to fact #3 above), and the results are eviscerated newsrooms and the demise of the last bastion of local journalism in America.

Newspaper consolidation has made most American cities one-newspaper towns, usually owned by giants like Gannett, McClatchy, Tribune, Hearst or a handful of other conglomerates. Even amid this downward spiral, Bush-appointed Federal Communication Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is moving to eliminate the long-standing law preventing major newspapers from also owning TV and radio stations (and vice versa). The hubris and corruption of the Administration is staggering even by current standards.

In the face of the Fox-ification of TV news, most terrifying is what will happen if the US suffers another major terrorist attack: media that will allow those in power to again manipulate the public with more fear and blind patriotism rather than informed analysis and reason.

What passes for political opinion and debate in the mainstream US media has become a dangerous joke, and Fox is the top prankster. If, like me, you're sick and tired of being the butt of the joke, take action at

Original here ...

Ownership of most of the television, radio, newspapers and magazines in the United States is spread among five .. count them! ... FIVE corporations. They are:

  • Time Warner
  • Disney
  • Bertelsmann
  • Viacom and
  • News Corporation (that would be Rupert Murdock and Faux News)

Basically, if you get all your news from television or any other mass media, you don't have a clue what's going on! You only know what these five very large corporations - who's motivation is purely profit - want you to know. If you wonder why two weeks of 24/7 "news" coverage is devoted to Anna Nicole Smith while there's little in depth coverage of what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan ... and why all the news seems to be about things that are merely interesting and none of the news is about anything IMPORTANT ... there's good reason. The news has become anything but actual news. The news has become "infotainment" with the emphasis on the "-tainment" part.

Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley... where are you now that we need you?

When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained.

~ Edward R. Murrow

The Things I Read Today

Bush To Nominate Anti-Regulatory Industry Lobbyist To Head Consumer Protection Agency

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from dangerous consumer products. Currently, the three-person commission has a vacancy. Media reports indicate that President Bush will likely fill the position with Michael Baroody, “executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade group that opposes aggressive product safety regulation” and “has called for weakening the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

More ...

Arms Trade—a major cause of suffering

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Global military expenditure and arms trade form the largest spending in the world at over one trillion dollars in annual expenditure and has been rising in recent years.

  • The US military spending was almost two-fifths of the total.
  • The US military spending was almost 7 times larger than the Chinese budget, the second largest spender.
  • The US military budget was almost 29 times as large as the combined spending of the six “rogue” states (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) who spent $14.65 billion.
  • It was more than the combined spending of the next 14 nations.
  • The United States and its close allies accounted for some two thirds to three-quarters of all military spending, depending on who you count as close allies (typically NATO countries, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan and South Korea)
  • The six potential “enemies,” Russia, and China together spent $139 billion, 30% of the U.S. military budget.

Are we getting our money's worth?

More ...

The Big Picture: Thoughts on the Trial That's Not About Anna Nicole Smith (by Jane Hamsher)

  1. The administration lied us into war and tried to abuse its power to punish the whistleblower who told the American public the truth.

  2. Scooter is the firewall to Shooter.

  3. Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby and other members of the administration conspired to keep federal investigators from uncovering their crimes.

  4. The media was complicit in spreading administration propaganda rather than doing investigative journalism, and are now helping to set the table for a pardon.

  5. The journalistic standards that have been exposed in the case (witness Tim Russert, Judy Miller, Andrea Mitchell, Robert Novak and others) are reprehensible, and have undermined the public trust in the media.

  6. The degree to which this story about the lies that lead to war has been ignored by the media (relative to the feeding frenzy over a Clinton blowjob) left a huge opening that the blogs have filled.

OK, we're all morally outraged that Bill Clinton lied. But if lying is the issue, how come the Right is so accepting of this set of lies ... lies that have cost human lives in the tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands by some estimates) and billions of dollars?

More ...

Cheney: UK Troop Withdrawal Is 'Sign of Success' in Iraq

The situation is improving in the south of Iraq ... enough so that everyone agrees, the British can begin to stand down. If the situation is improving so much, how about we pull some of our guys out, too.

More ...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Disco Memories

What's it worth?

The following is an interesting piece I found on the Magnum Photos site. Magnum represents some of the best photojournalists who have ever practiced the trade. Among the photographers was Robert Capa who's quote, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough", has been one of the guiding tenants of my personal quest for a personal photography.

Here's the piece:

Today, the boundaries between photo-reportage and art photography are more blurred than ever as collectors increasingly seek out the work of photojournalists. This is visible not only in galleries, but at auction. summarizes some examples of the shifting trend and explain which photos sell and why.

Collective memory and photography

The photojournalism market is booming. Turnover at auction has risen by more than 500 percent in 10 years and the trend is strong in the USA, France and the UK. For many years, photojournalism was considered a secondary form of art, much like scientific or ethnographic photography, because photojournalism's original goal is to disseminate information. Since the 1950s, however, photojournalism has built a reputation on its aesthetics and techniques as well as on its testimonial values partly thanks to World Press Photo with its annual contest celebrating the year's best journalistic photographs, and due to a number of exhibitions in museums underlining the news photo's dual role as documentary testimony and aesthetic artifact.

The great names of photojournalism - Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Raymond Depardon, Robert Doisneau, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Marc Riboud - all documented their times through sensitive images of undeniable cultural significance. Many of these are now finding their way into cultural institutions, prized for a combination of the iconic value of the shots and the photographers' commitment, as well as aesthetic considerations (definition of the image, framing, etc.).

In auction houses, the price of these historic pictures is mostly determined by the year of the print. The date the photo was printed must be as close as possible to the date the photo was taken.

As We Choose Up Sides ...

The map is stolen from a Mother Jones background article, "Iraq 101", about who the players are and what this whole thing is about. It's a good read and worth clinking on the map to get there.

This gives a little better picture of who the players are and where they get their support.

The vast majority of American casualties have been caused by Sunni insurgents. Where do the Sunnis come from and who supports the Sunnis?

Anbar Provence is the area west of Baghdad. It's sort of a triangle with Baghdad at one point and most of the Syrian border being one of its sides. Al Qaeda hangs out in Anbar provence. They're primarily Sunni Moslims.

Only a small fraction of American casualties can be attributed to Shiite militias. Who supports the Shiites?

The Kurds are really our only allies in the area. Their area is the only area where NO, ZERO, Zip NONE! NO Americans have died in this fray. Why do you suppose Turkey (our allies) and the Iran (supposedly our enemy now that we can't figure out what to do with our enemies in Iraq) don't want to see Iraq partitioned into three autonomous regions (Sunnistan, Shiitestan and Kurdestan presumably)?

Incidentally, this map serves to underscore the point that Iraq is a made-up nation. the British (rent see the movie/DVD "Lawrence of Arabia" for the back story) drew some arbitrary colonial lines in the sand and created Iraq without regard to the indigenous people or their feelings about each other.

If all the above is true, does it make a lot of sense to:
  • Not talk to the Iranians?

  • Try to start a war with them?

Are We Becoming a Backwoods Nation?

Philip Slater
On HuffPo

A Spanish pilot last week foiled a hijacker by giving the Arabic and Spanish-speaking passengers instructions in French. It's lucky the passengers weren't Americans. They probably wouldn't have had a clue what he was saying. Americans may be the most linguistically deficient people in the world. Even poor people in Third World countries often speak two or three languages, while we have 'English only' laws to protect us from being confronted with our own ignorance.

Suspicion of anything outside our borders is contributing to our economic and cultural decline. We used to be number one in education, technology, and science. But in just a few years, thanks to the xenophobia of the Bush administration and its supporters, we've fallen behind much of Europe and Asia. Twenty years ago the U.S. ranked first in the world in percentage of both college degrees and high school diplomas. Today we've slipped to 7th and 9th respectively. In 1970 more than half of the world's science and engineering doctorates came from U.S. universities. By 2001 the European Union granted 40% more than the United States.

China now has four times as many engineers as the United States--it used to have one-sixth. The United States is down to 14th in science graduates--partly because fundamentalism has made the American South abysmally ignorant in geology, biology, and astronomy. Foreign student applications to study in the U.S. are half what they were, with the UK and Germany picking up the slack. We're far behind Asians in math literacy. In 2000 we were number one in broadband Internet access. Now we're 16th. In 2000 we produced 40% of the world's telecom equipment, now only 21%. We now rank 42nd in the percentage of the population with cell phones. Once the world's technological and educational leader, we're becoming an also-ran.

As Benjamin Barber once pointed out, no democratic legislature in the civilized world has as many members without passports as ours, no other democratic nation pays a smaller percentage of its GNP for foreign aid, and no other democratic nation is so ignorant of other cultures.

Republican leaders have opted out of almost every international effort to make the world a safer and more civilized place, citing 'national' (i.e., short-term Republican political) interests. As a nation, we're cowering behind our borders--afraid to go out, afraid to let anyone in. Meanwhile the civilized world is moving on without us.

Xenophobia in America has reached such a peak that our nation is investing billions of dollars keeping out or throwing out the millions of illegal immigrants who do all the dirty and backbreaking work that Americans are too lazy or privileged to do. Yet who's making a bigger contribution to American society? Hard-working, enterprising undocumented workers, or the "Minute (as in tiny) Men'--gun-toting losers who have nothing better to do than lounge around bars at the border and shoot at aliens who only want to work?

Personally, I would love to see a swap: Let the undocumented workers come in, but only if Mexico will take in exchange all the ignorant yahoos who would never in a million years have the guts or the ambition to take the risks, or work as hard as, undocumented aliens do.

Ray and the Rabbit

Some pictures are worth more than 1,000 words.

We found The Rabbit in a sculpture gallery in Tubac, Arizona. It was subsequently sold to a home owner in Tucson for about $13,000 as a lawn ornament.

Ray, my brother-in-law, is a master mechanic for a large (high priced) car dealership. He's a cigar smoking, surly, cynical kinda guy - straight forward, no-BS - pragmatic. Often what passes for art escapes him. Here, he's coming to terms with The Rabbit.

Incidentally, after the homeowner bought The Rabbit and installed it in his front yard in the Foothills, thieves pulled up with a pickup truck and hauled it away. They were caught trying to sell it for $300.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Self Portrait at 61 and Change

If I was a web-cam, this is what I'd see
(only this is sharper)

Its midnight.

I'm not satisfied with any of the images I've done in the studio. They're all contrived. They're without any reality. They don't even approach surreal ... which I think might be better than real.

I don't know what the cure is.

This portrait has more of what I'm looking for. It was shot off the cuff. I st the camera on the fax machine and watched the timer light on the front of the camera count off the ten seconds from the time you push the shutter release to the time the shutter actually opens and closes.

By the light of the computer. I took my glasses off because I wanted to avoid the reflections.

I am in my winter garb ... flannel shirt over a long sleeved t-shirt.

Maybe this is more like it?
(I don't know.)


City Hall, Tombstone
Arizona Territory

Some of Today's More Interesting Stories

At least from my point of view ...

  • Terrorism suspect is Republican donor: A New York man who pleaded not guilty last week to charges of supporting terrorism contributed about $15,000 to the House Republicans' campaign committee and claimed to be involved with the Senate Republicans' campaign committee in recent years.

  • Renunciation of reality: With carrier battle groups crowding the Gulf, and with the Bush administration beating the battle drum to a degree not heard since the buildup to the Iraq war, one can only conclude that either this is a demonstration of coercive diplomacy par excellence, or that the United States is going to attack Iran.

    President George W. Bush and the Pentagon continue to deny "for the umpteenth time" that an attack is being planned. They say that diplomacy is in play. But that is what they said about Iraq long after the decision to go to war had already been made.

  • Caring for the Wounded at Walter Reed: Each member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and every general at the Pentagon should take a field trip to Walter Reed Army Medical Center this week -- turf battles be damned -- and inspect firsthand the appalling conditions our wounded service members are enduring.

  • Media Amnesia As Catholic Charity Head Rebukes Bush: This month the Catholic priest who runs the national association of Catholic charities condemned the Bush Administration budget as a moral failure. He said it "weaken(s) family life" and fails to address "the dignity of the human person," and he called on Congress to change it. Also this month, fringe rightwing activist Bill Donohue attacked two fairly low-level bloggers working for the Edwards campaign by claiming their writings were "anti-Catholic."

    Which story do you think got more play in the media?

  • Tony Blair Hates Our Freedoms, Pulling Troops From Iraq: Bye! - WonketteBeloved Bush lackey Tony Blair is pulling 1,500 troops from Iraq.

    Blair will announce the withdrawals tomorrow, according to BBC and the papers. At least 1,500 of the 7,000 troops will be coming home in a few weeks, if they aren’t killed first. There’s supposed to be a timetable to bring the rest of them home, too.

You Might Be In Tucson IF ...

(and other Tucson oddities)
  • You buy salsa by the gallon.

  • You think a red light is merely a suggestion.

  • All of your out-of-state friends start to visit after October but clear out come the end of April.

  • Most of the restaurants in town have the first name "El"or "Los."

  • You think 60 tons of crushed rock makes a beautiful yard.

  • You notice your car overheating before you drive it.

  • You can say "Hohokam" and people don't think you're laughing funny.

  • You no longer associate bridges (or rivers) with water.

  • You know a swamp cooler is not a happy hour drink.

  • Vehicles with open windows have the right-of-way in the summer.

  • People break out coats when the temperature drops below 70 degrees.

  • You discover, in July, it only takes two fingers to drive your car.

  • The pool can be warmer than you are.

  • You can make sun tea instantly.

  • You run your air conditioner in the middle of winter so you can use your fireplace.

  • The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.

  • The AC is on your list of best friends.

  • You realize that Valley Fever isn't a disco dance.

  • You can finish a Big Gulp in 10 minutes and go back for seconds.

  • The water from the cold water tap is the same temperature as the hot one.

  • You can correctly pronounce the words: Saguaro, Ocotillo, Tempe, Gila Bend, San Xavier, Canyon de Chelly, Mogollon Rim, Cholla, and Ajo.

  • You experience third degree burns if you touch any metal part of your car.

  • You know better than to get into a car with leather seats if you're wearing shorts.

  • Announcements for Fourth of July events never end with "in case of rain..."

  • You must learn to pronounce the city name. It is Tu-son, not Tuc-sin.

  • Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Tucson has its own version of traffic rules...hold on and pray. There is no such thing as a dangerous, high-speed chase in Tucson. They all drive like that.

  • All directions start with, "Go down to Ina Rd."... Which has no beginning and no end.

  • The Chamber of Commerce calls getting through traffic a "Scenic Drive."

  • The morning rush hour is from 7:00 - 10:00 am. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 - 7:00 pm. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning.

  • If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear ended, cussed out, and possibly shot. When you are the first one off of the starting line, count to five when the light turns green before going to avoid getting into any cross-traffic's way.

  • La Cholla (CHOY-yuh) Road and La Canada (Ca-NYA-dah) Road can only be pronounced by a native.

  • Construction on I-10, River Rd., and near the University of Arizona is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment.

  • If someone actually has their turn signal on, it is probably a defect.

  • All old ladies with blue hair in pink Cadillacs have total right-of-way.

  • The minimum acceptable speed on I-10 is 100-mph. Anything less is considered downright sissy.

  • The wrought iron bars on windows in south Tucson are NOT ornamental.

  • Never stare at the driver of the car with the bumper sticker that says, "Keep honking, I'm reloading." In fact, don't honk or look at anyone.

  • If you are in the left lane, and only going 70 in a 60-mph zone people are not waving when they pass you on the right.

  • You drive for hours in the same direction and you're still in the city limits.

  • Sunrise Rd/Skyline Dr./Ina Rd. is our daily version of NASCAR (and all the same road by the way).

  • There are three Magee Rd.'s in Tucson, and in some places, one of them is called Cortaro, try not to be confused.

  • If you speed in Oro Valley, you WILL get pulled over and you will pay for the rest of your life!

  • One Hardy Rd. is a safe normal road. The other Hardy Road will take you on the edge of a dirt cliff with no guard rail and no way to turn around. Be careful which one you get on!

  • If you are driving and you keep seeing Nico's Taco Shop, you are not going in circles, there is in fact one on every corner.

  • There are no freeways running through Tucson, just the I-10 to the West, so always expect about a 45-minute drive to go anywhere.

  • If you get pulled over by a cop, make sure it is a real cop and not a gang initiation with fake lights because you will be shot.

  • Tangerine Rd. will make you car sick ... very bumpy, and lots of dips.

  • The intersection at Oracle and Ina is considered one of the most dangerous intersections in the southwest United States.

  • If the temperature is less than 100*F, Thanksgiving must be next week.

  • Grant Rd. has been nicknamed "Suicide Lane." During certain hours of the day, the middle turn lane thingy allows traffic going different ways. Some hours it goes East, some hours it goes West, and other hours it is merely a turning lane. Make sure you know the hours or follow signs so you are not in head-on traffic.

  • In response you your request for directions you're told, "You can't get there from here."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Amerind Images

From the over 100 images I shot for "Treasures of the Amerind", a coffee table slash picture book which, when finished, will be on sale exclusively through the Amerind Museum gift shop.

Owl Man - Moche (100-700 A.D.),
Peru, South America

You can find out a little about the Moche people in Wikipedia.

Making Martial Law Easier

Published: February 19, 2007

A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night. So it was with a provision quietly tucked into the enormous defense budget bill at the Bush administration's behest that makes it easier for a president to override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law.

The provision, signed into law in October, weakens two obscure but important bulwarks of liberty. One is the doctrine that bars military forces, including a federalized National Guard, from engaging in law enforcement. Called posse comitatus, it was enshrined in law after the Civil War to preserve the line between civil government and the military. The other is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which provides the major exemptions to posse comitatus. It essentially limits a president's use of the military in law enforcement to putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion, where a state is violating federal law or depriving people of constitutional rights.

From the International Herald Tribune

Why would the Bush Administration want to weaken these particular laws and principals?

Reno Balloon Race 2006

Time lapse photography .... just for the fun of it.

Sent to me by a friend ...

The Hypocracy of the Family Values Right

  • Republican Congressman Mark Foley abruptly resigned from Congress after "sexually explicit" emails surfaced showing him flirting with a 16-year old boy.

  • Republican executive Randall Casseday of the conservative Washington Times newspaper was arrested for soliciting sex from a 13-year old girl on the internet.

  • Republican chairman of the Oregon Christian Coalition Lou Beres confessed to molesting a 13-year old girl.

  • Republican County Constable Larry Dale Floyd was arrested on suspicion of soliciting sex with an 8-year old girl. Floyd has repeatedly won elections for Denton County, Texas, constable.

  • Republican judge Mark Pazuhanich pleaded no contest to fondling a 10-year old girl and was sentenced to 10 years probation.

  • Republican Party leader Bobby Stumbo was arrested for having sex with a 5-year old boy.

  • Republican petition drive manager Tom Randall pleaded guilty to molesting two girls under the age of 14, one of them the daughter of an associate in the petition business.

  • Republican County Chairman Armando Tebano was arrested for sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl.

  • Republican teacher and former city councilman John Collins pleaded guilty to sexually molesting 13 and 14 year old girls.

  • Republican campaign worker Mark Seidensticker is a convicted child molester.

  • Republican Mayor Philip Giordano is serving a 37-year sentence in federal prison for sexually abusing 8- and 10-year old girls.

  • Republican Mayor Tom Adams was arrested for distributing child pornography over the internet.

  • Republican Mayor John Gosek was arrested on charges of soliciting sex from two 15-year old girls.

  • Republican County Commissioner David Swartz pleaded guilty to molesting two girls under the age of 11 and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

  • Republican legislator Edison Misla Aldarondo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping his daughter between the ages of 9 and 17.

  • Republican Committeeman John R. Curtain was charged with molesting a teenage boy and unlawful sexual contact with a minor.

  • Republican anti-abortion activist Howard Scott Heldreth is a convicted child rapist in Florida.

  • Republican zoning supervisor, Boy Scout leader and Lutheran church president Dennis L. Rader pleaded guilty to performing a sexual act on an 11-year old girl he murdered.

  • Republican anti-abortion activist Nicholas Morency pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer and offering a bounty to anybody who murders an abortion doctor.

  • Republican campaign consultant Tom Shortridge was sentenced to three years probation for taking nude photographs of a 15-year old girl.

  • Republican racist pedophile and United States Senator Strom Thurmond had sex with a 15-year old black girl which produced a child.

  • Republican pastor Mike Hintz, whom George W. Bush commended during the 2004 presidential campaign, surrendered to police after admitting to a sexual affair with a female juvenile.

  • Republican legislator Peter Dibble pleaded no contest to having an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

  • Republican advertising consultant Carey Lee Cramer was sentenced to six years in prison for molesting two 8-year old girls, one of whom appeared in an anti-Gore television commercial.

  • Republican activist Lawrence E. King, Jr. organized child sex parties at the White House during the 1980s.

  • Republican lobbyist Craig J. Spence organized child sex parties at the White House during the 1980s.

  • Republican Congressman Donald "Buz" Lukens was found guilty of having sex with a female minor and sentenced to one month in jail.

  • Republican fundraiser Richard A. Delgaudio was found guilty of child porn charges and paying two teenage girls to pose for sexual photos.

  • Republican activist Mark A. Grethen convicted on six counts of sex crimes involving children.

  • Republican campaign chairman Randal David Ankeney pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child and was arrested again five years later on the same charge.

  • Republican Congressman Dan Crane had sex with a female minor working as a congressional page.

  • Republican activist and Christian Coalition leader Beverly Russell admitted to an incestuous relationship with his step daughter.

  • Republican Judge Ronald C. Kline was placed under house arrest for child molestation and possession of child pornography.

  • Republican congressman and anti-gay activist Robert Bauman was charged with having sex with a 16-year-old boy he picked up at a gay bar.

  • Republican Committee Chairman Jeffrey Patti was arrested for distributing a video clip of a 5-year-old girl being raped.

  • Republican activist Marty Glickman (a.k.a. "Republican Marty"), was taken into custody by Florida police on four counts of unlawful sexual activity with an underage girl and one count of delivering the drug LSD.

  • Republican legislative aide Howard L. Brooks was charged with molesting a 12-year old boy and possession of child pornography.

  • Republican Senate candidate John Hathaway was accused of having sex with his 12-year old baby sitter and withdrew his candidacy after the allegations were reported in the media.

  • Republican preacher Stephen White, who demanded a return to traditional values, was sentenced to jail after offering $20 to a 14-year-old boy for permission to perform oral sex on him.

  • Republican talk show host Jon Matthews pleaded guilty to exposing his genitals to an 11 year old girl.

  • Republican anti-gay activist Earl "Butch" Kimmerling was sentenced to 40 years in prison for molesting an 8-year old girl after he attempted to stop a gay couple from adopting her.

  • Republican Party leader Paul Ingram pleaded guilty to six counts of raping his daughters and served 14 years in federal prison.

  • Republican election board official Kevin Coan was sentenced to two years probation for soliciting sex over the internet from a 14-year old girl.

  • Republican politician Andrew Buhr was charged with two counts of first degree sodomy with a 13-year old boy.

  • Republican legislator Keith Westmoreland was arrested on seven felony counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition to girls under the age of 16 (i.e. exposing himself to children).

  • Republican anti-abortion activist John Allen Burt was found guilty of molesting a 15-year old girl.

  • Republican County Councilman Keola Childs pleaded guilty to molesting a male child.

  • Republican activist John Butler was charged with criminal sexual assault on a teenage girl.

  • Republican candidate Richard Gardner admitted to molesting his two daughters.

  • Republican Councilman and former Marine Jack W. Gardner was convicted of molesting a 13-year old girl.

  • Republican County Commissioner Merrill Robert Barter pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual contact and assault on a teenage boy.

  • Republican City Councilman Fred C. Smeltzer, Jr. pleaded no contest to raping a 15 year-old girl and served 6-months in prison.

  • Republican activist Parker J. Bena pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography on his home computer and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and fined $18,000.

  • Republican parole board officer and former Colorado state representative, Larry Jack Schwarz, was fired after child pornography was found in his possession.

  • Republican strategist and Citadel Military College graduate Robin Vanderwall was convicted in Virginia on five counts of soliciting sex from boys and girls over the internet.

  • Republican city councilman Mark Harris, who is described as a "good military man" and "church goer," was convicted of repeatedly having sex with an 11-year-old girl and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

  • Republican businessman Jon Grunseth withdrew his candidacy for Minnesota governor after allegations surfaced that he went swimming in the nude with four underage girls, including his daughter.

  • Republican campaign worker, police officer and self-proclaimed reverend Steve Aiken was convicted of having sex with two underage girls.

  • Republican director of the "Young Republican Federation" Nicholas Elizondo molested his 6-year old daughter and was sentenced to six years in prison.

  • Republican president of the New York City Housing Development Corp. Russell Harding pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer.

  • Republican benefactor of conservative Christian groups, Richard A. Dasen Sr., was found guilty of raping a 15-year old girl. Dasen, 62, who is married with grown children and several grandchildren, has allegedly told police that over the past decade he paid more than $1 million to have sex with a large number of young women.

  • Republican Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the rape of children in Iraqi prisons in order to humiliate their parents into providing information about the anti-American insurgency.

The suggestion here is not that the left is lily white by any stretch of the imagination. The difference is that those on the left don't purport to be holier-than-thou, keepers of morality while those on the right hold themselves up as paragons of virtue against whom other should measure themselves. Perhaps they would be better served cleaning up their own messes.

Leave morality to right wing religious leaders ... like Jimmy Swagart, Ted Haggard and Jim Bakker!!

An Open Letter to Evangelical, Born Again, Fundamentalist Christians

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said "in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man a woman." I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Immutable, Unchanging Laws and how to follow them.

  1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

  2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

  3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

  4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

  5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

  6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

  7. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

  8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

  9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

  10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev. 24:10-16). Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

How many members of the Bush administration does it take to replace a light bulb?

The answer is 10.
  1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;

  2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;

  3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb;

  4. One to tell the nations of the world that they either favor changing the light bulb or support darkness;

  5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb;

  6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner Light Bulb Change Accomplished";

  7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally "in the dark";

  8. One to viciously smear #7;

  9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light bulb-changing policy all along;

  10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rubber Tree, Very Pretty

Ooops, there goes another rubber tree plant.

The Lowest Common Denominocracy

by Frank Dwyer
from The Huffington Post

In a recent post, "Nitwit News," Joan Z. Shore attempts to understand why the American people are so happily inundated with "human interest" stories--Barbaro's euthanization, the love-crazed astronaut, the cautionary saga of Anna Nicole Smith--while real news, important news, news essential to the proper functioning of our democracy, is ignored. (She might also have wondered why it took us a week to get Gerald Ford properly interred.)

"Why," she asks, "are we, the audience, enthralled by this dribble?"

The answer is very depressing: because that's the kind of people we are.

We watch loudmouthed, ignorant, rude, mean-spirited television--O'Reilly and Hannity and Beck and Grace and Idol and all the other dribble and drivel--because that's the kind of people we are.

We watch vulgar and stupid movies without even noticing how vulgar and stupid they are. Because that's the kind of people we are. (No one in Little Miss Sunshine's family had ever seen her rehearse or perform her talent routine, so how would they know--until they saw her on stage at the competition--that her grandfather had merely taught her to bump and grind? Right. Academy Award!)

Look how we vote. Look what the politicians and their flacks do and say to win those votes. Look how they lie to us and cheat us, with impunity. Look how much damage we've done in the world. Look how the rest of the world despises us.

We are, basically, a stupid people.

Are we newly stupid? No, but we used to be generous, too (more or less; not counting slavery and the Trail of Tears and lynching and segregation), we used to be decent and kind (basically), we used to be good-hearted. Is there anything more impressively generous and good-hearted in history than the Marshall Plan? But that was a while ago. We aren't Marshall Plan people any more. We're the kind of people who bank our tax cuts and hope for more while our soldiers and their families scrounge for armor and equipment. We're the kind of people who re-elect the leaders responsible for that, instead of draping them over lampposts.

Why? Why are we this way? Well, we don't like taxes. We like tax cuts! Yeah! We like hearing about Anna Nicole! We like voting for the one we'd most like to have a beer with! Yeah! We like seeing people win prizes by eating bugs! We like seeing people humiliated on Idol! And what tiny minority of us could possibly think anything a nerdy wonk like Douglas Feith once did or said could compare in any way to the richly entertaining and urgent importance of Britney Spears shaving her head?

Democracy doesn't work when the people are stupid, in Baghdad or Gaza or Main Street, USA.

We're over.

My personal footnote is that we've somehow managed to elevate those things that are merely interesting to the level of important while rendering those things that are important to be merely interesting.