Saturday, March 03, 2007

How the world really shapes up

from Daily Mail (UK)

We all know what the world looks like. But a new series of extraordinary maps shows our planet in a very different light.

Rather than defining each country by size, these computer-generated modified maps - or cartograms - redraw the globe with each country's size proportionate to its strengths, or weaknesses, in a whole series of categories.

For instance, when it comes to military spending, the U.S. appears bloated, but Africa is huge when HIV prevalence is mapped.

The cartograms were produced in a unique collaboration between the universities of Michigan in the U.S. and Sheffield. Here are images and more details on some of the most fascinating...


Military Spending
(click for a larger image)


More here ...

Just a thought

something maybe worth considering ...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Prognostication


Back to the Future

Blues, Arizona Style


Concert at the Band Shell

Lies, Lies and More Lies

I've been following the Gore energy bill pseudo-scandal with disappointment. I see the local media chock full of the charges against Gore and none of the evidence contrary to the charges. That certainly goes a long way in my book to dispel the myth of the liberal press (something I don't believe in the first place - considering that something on the order of 85-90% of the media is currently owned by 5 HUGE corporations, all of which are major contributors to the right).

I've seen these smears based on outright lies before.

1. The accusation that Gore said he invented the Internet - he never said it.

2. Kerry and the Swift Boaters - (read the bit about the guy who financed them doing the Aztec Two Step in confirmation hearings)

3. McCain and the Bush campaign accusations that he fathered an illegitimate black child - (talk about "how LOW can you go"!!! in pandering to "your base"!!!)

4. The smear over Edward's home sale - where some very significant factors somehow got "forgot".

5. Pilosi's "request" for a "bigger airplane" - which actually originated, not with Pilosi or her office but, with the Sergeant at Arms but it got spun into a personal attack.

6. Rep. Murtha spent 37 years in the Marine Corps earning a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and a Navy Distinguished Service Medal. His service has earned him the respect of the military, and made him a trusted adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents and leaders of the armed forces. The Bush campaign labeled him a coward and the ditto heads who "don't have the time to research this stuff" bought into it.

7. Max Cleland, a guy who lost three limbs in Vietnam, left them on
the battlefield. He receiving the Soldier’s Medal “for allegedly shielding my men from the grenade blast and the Silver Star for allegedly coming to the aid of wounded troops….” got smeared as a coward, too.

Don't you get a little tired of this stuff ... and don't you start getting a little skeptical of it when it's so consistent ... and when it originates in such a pattern ... and attack on the person instead of a debate over their ideas? Is the right so devoid of sound principals that they avoid a discussion of the issues and concentrate on this level of falsehood to support their point of view? And why do so many buy into it? So often ... and over and over again? Even Pavlov's dogs picked up on patterns quicker!

You're going to say .. and I can hear it now ... the left does it, too.

OK ... lets say there's truth in it. I listed seven examples of egregious smear above. I allege it's a pattern of tactics knowingly, consciously and deliberately employed by the right. Please give me FIVE examples of the left's attacks on THE PERSON with OUTRIGHT LIES and FABRICATONS ... hell, give me THREE!

The key is OUTRIGHT LIES and FABRICATONS as opposed to attacks based on the person's ideas and policies. (And saying Bush is an illiterate doesn't count ... he is an illiterate, a functional illiterate ... it's not a fabrication.)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dear Laura, it's not one attack a day in Iraq, it's 230

by John Aravosis (DC) 2/28/2007 09:11:00 AM ET

Laura Bush, ace Iraq expert, made a little bit of a whoopsie on Larry King the other night. She said that Iraq was really going well, but that the big bad biased liberal media keeps reporting that one attack a day in an effort to make things look bad. Well, seems it's more like 180 attacks a day, and that's just against our troops. There are 50 attacks a day or so against civilians, making that 230 attacks a day. Looks like Mrs. Bush may have to return her PhD in Counterinsurgency.

From Stars and Stripes:
Attacks against coalition forces in Iraq averaged nearly 180 a day in January, the highest level since major combat operations ended and more than double the rate one year ago, according to intelligence officials.

Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday said the attacks matched the previous high, set in October 2006.

Attacks on civilians also reached a new high, with almost 50 per day in January, according to the agency. Attacks on Iraqi Security Forces remained consistent with recent months, at about 30 a day.
In all fairness to Mrs. Bush, she really mentioned "one bombing a day." Though we're clearly hearing about more than one bombing a day against civilians and our troops, and let's not forget to add in helicopter shoot downs and more. And in any case, if a shopping mall or a university a day were getting blown up in the US, would Mrs. Bush reassure us that it's only one a day? And speaking of comparisons with the US, Iraq has less than one-tenth the population of the US, so "one bombing a day" - and let's be clear, what she means is "one suicide bombing a day" - would be equal to 10 suicide bombings a day in the malls and universities and kids' soccer fields of America.

Yeah, no big deal, Laura.

So It Ain't MY Story But Its Close Enough

The Truth about Working from Home
Board: Living Below Your Means
by DuckyDuck
From Motley Fool

Now that I have your attention, I thought I'd bring up a topic that a lot of Fools ask me (usually through private email) every so often: Working from home.

This comes up a lot because any time I mention in a post that I work from home, I get a lot of questions.

So here goes:

1) How did you get started working from home? - Easy. It was pure dumb luck. In 2000, I was working for a large communications company in Atlanta and it was a "regular" job. I'd drive from my home in Smyrna to my office in north Atlanta, maybe a total of 12 miles one way, but could be one HOUR easily in drive time. I had been at work with my company for almost two years. However, the lovely MrsDuck, also working in an Atlanta-area company, had received word that their division was being closed and her job eliminated. So we did what we always did - PANIC! No, no, just kidding. She looked for a company in the upper Midwest to work for and it was going to be in the North Chicago suburbs. At first I thought I'd have to quit my job immediately. However, that was not the case. My "team" was short on personnel due to a couple key players leaving and one going on permanent disability. So my boss asked me if I could take his laptop and dial in from home "until I found a new job". He was very easy going and very permissive, but the key thing was that we were WAY overloaded with work and keeping me around, even for a few more months, would still help him. However, what happened was that I dialed in from our new home in Illinois and I kept up with the work that I usually did...and this impressed my boss to suggest "why not just keep doing what's your doing and stay with the company?" So that's how it started. I did NOT explicitly started working from home because I sought a "work from home" job. The work from home job found me.

2) How can I find a "work from home" job? - If you hadn't been paying attention and skipped most of #1, please read the above again. It's not so much finding a "work from home job", but finding a "job that has the possibility of working from home". Typically, though, these kinds of jobs are jobs that you can do from a desk at home and have connection either through the Internet or to a direct connection into your current company's computer. So a lot of the time, those are Fortune 500 companies, but not exclusively. My current company has made changes over the last half dozen years, though, so that MOST employees have the ability to work from home, but this is mostly because this makes the employee more accessible and that he can connect in to the company and work on problems or emergencies at all hours of the day or night, 24/7/365... So that may be a side effect that you DON'T want.

3) What are all these "WORK FROM HOME" ads referring to for "work"? Are they real jobs? - Most are scams, going as far back as "envelope stuffing" as many of them were long ago, but have now included multi-level marketing programs or scams, or instructions on how to sell crap on eBay, or a combination of both. Don't go there. Don't even bother. Even more are just sales jobs, in which you're not doing face-to-face sales, just putting up a cheap website and hoping that somebody responds. No, the REAL work from home jobs are real jobs, they just happen to be jobs that can be performed with a connection to the company's network. Of course, there are traditional "work at home jobs", such as private accountants, tax preparers, some real estate agents, etc...

4) If I find a work from home job, I can "work" and watch TV, and/or clean house, or surf the web, right? - Only if you know you can accomplish that much. I have to keep a certain level of productivity and responsiveness at work. Do I have time to surf? Sometimes. Can I start a load of laundry and maybe get that done over the work day? Maybe. As for TV, I intentionally DON'T have a TV in my home office as I know that would be WAY TOO distracting for me. My boss's honest opinion is that if I can do everything that's expected from me every day, he doesn't mind what else goes on in my house while I'm doing it.

5) I can work in my pajamas, right? - Sure. If your idea of "working at home" apparel happens to be a pair of Depends, a set of Mickey Mouse ears, kneepads, and flaming pink bunny slippers, then fine. (We don't do video teleconferencing, so I don't have to worry about that...) Honestly, you just wear whatever you are most comfortable for wearing at your desk at home. I mostly work in t-shirts and either sweatpants or athletic shorts. It IS indeed cheaper than having to wear suits, dresses, makeup, or other more formal clothing. Some "work at home" articles suggest that you "dress up" to work at home, so that you feel more professional. Yeah, right...spppppt! Dressing in your dingiest scruffy, but comfortable, clothes is far cheaper and more comfortable. I haven't bought pants in four years.

6) If I work at home, I no longer need daycare for my kids. I can have the kids stay at home with me while I work! - Uh oh. No. NO. NO! A big, freakin', NO! It is NOT possible to work at home, work proficiently eight hours a day, and take care of small children at the same time. Especially with infants. Even more so with toddlers. Or even worse, infants and toddlers! You may get onto a conference call with several high muckety-mucks from the main office, but in the background, the kids have spilled grape juice all over the living room, played doctor with the kitty using a pencil, painted the dog green, turned on the stereo up to eleven playing Slipknot, and are now running around the house wearing condoms on their heads like party hats. (Do not ask me how I know this.) Work is a full-time job. Taking care of kids is a full-time job. You cannot do both at the same time.

7) Will I save money, gas, and time by not having to commute by car if I work at home? - Yes and no. Yes, I burn less gasoline and have less wear and tear on my Aztek by not having to drive every day. My Aztek is classified as a "recreational vehicle" by my insurance company because I don't drive it every day. It is indeed cheaper to eat at home than it is at work. However, your entire pantry and refrigerator are there, though, meaning, if you feel so inclined, you could probably down a quart of Haagen-Daas or a bag of Oreos in the middle of the day. The other bad thing is that you'll also be heating or cooling your house mostly at the same level all day and all night every day and using that much more electricity. In effect, you gain some, but not a LOT, by working at home.

8) Do you have to buy your own computer to work at home? - In my case no, my company provides me with a laptop, docking station and monitor. I have to provide the internet connection (cable, DSL), but my company does reimburse me for my monthly ISP bill. Not every company does this. Also, my connection to the company's computers is through a VPN connection (virtual private network), so it's fairly secure. The thing is, though, is that if you try to surf the web at the same time on the company-provided computer, your personal internet usage can or will be monitored. So, I have my own personal computer (a Mac) connected and sitting next to my work laptop. So while my company laptop is sitting on an Outlook screen, on my Mac, I'm happily surfing TMF and posting here, unmonitored.

9) Do you get any tax breaks or tax advantages from working from home? - Yes, but I can only say that you have to follow the IRS's guidelines. My home office is explicitly set up as a home office to do nothing but "work", which is what the IRS wants. I can therefore take a fraction of the floor space of the office and have some of my utilities taken off as expenses from my taxes. YMMV and all that. I also record and save the receipts for anything that pertains only to my home office as well (paper, desk, chair, printer supplies, whoopee cushions, etc...). Again, check with your own tax preparer. This is also why I set up a home office, as opposed to some who would feel more comfortable in working from their kitchen table or the couch.

10) What about being sick? - Caution. If you're well enough to sit upright at a desk and type on a keyboard, you're well enough to work, in the minds of some employers who allow telecommuting. So that's a big plus to your employer. You're too sick to come work, threatening co-workers with cooties, but you're too well to just NOT work. That's something that you might have to watch for. Another sickness problem, though, is that of your kids being sick and can't go to school, or your local school has a snow day. Even though I mentioned up in #6 that you can't take care of kids and work at the same time, at least you can be in contact with your work and be somewhat available. This is better than if you weren't at home and working in a typical office, you'd have to take a take a full day off with almost no contact with work, a condition some employers don't like. If Duckling1, my nine-year-old daughter, just has a mild fever and sniffles, I can usually work almost a full day and she's usually self-maintaining. So it varies.

11) Any other drawbacks to working from home? - Yeah. In no particular order, lack of "water cooler" social interaction, loneliness, lack of physical activity, loneliness, weight gain, and knowing TOO much about your FedEx guy's private life!

As of today, it's been about six years, three months and a couple days that I've been telecommuting, working from home and all that.

I hope this has been informative, feel free to ask questions.

Now excuse me while I look for my bunny slippers.

Duck

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Random Thoughts Worthy of Consideration


Date Night at the Track

"Bread and circuses” has come to be a derogatory phrase that can criticize either government policies to pacify the citizenry, or the shallow, decadent desires of that same citizenry. In both cases, it refers to low-cost, low-quality, high-availability food and entertainment that have become the sole concern of the People, to the exclusion of matters that the speaker considers more important: e.g. the Arts, public works projects, human rights, or democracy itself. The phrase is commonly used to refer to short-term government palliatives offered in place of a solution for significant, long-term problems.
~ Wikipedia


"It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same — everywhere, all over the world, hundreds or thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same—people who had never learned to think but were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world."
George Orwell, "1984"


"All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting."
George Orwell


"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."
Mark Twain


"In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office."
Ambrose Bierce

How Can it be Great if it Doesn't Work?

A really good friend of mine wrote me a sad note. It was part of a larger dialog but to isolate it does not remove any significant context:

He said:

"As for the Constitution corruption.....Bush's gang wins. I have grown to despise Bush and especially Cheney. Haven't researched this matter so can't comment on the Dems. Don't have enough time in the day as have to be out making a buck. I don't trust either side.

Can't stand the bullshit slung in DC, nothing ever gets done in a timely and thoroughly thought-out manner to benefit the majority of people slugging it out day-to-day.

So far there is no one I would vote for on either side."


I wrote the following in response:

If you can't trust either side; if all government is ineffectual and nothing ever gets done in a timely and thought out manner ... it would seem to me to stick in the throat to say this is a great place to live and that we have a great country. Those two ideas are diametrically opposed.

We've been told by the Right since Ronald Reagan that government doesn't work and that government is the problem. We look around and see things that do not satisfy us and think, the SOB was right and things here really suck. Then our knee jerk patriotism kicks in. We wave the flag, beat the drum and proclaim our greatness ... though fewer and fewer seem to be listening.

Our real problem is that so many of us have bought into the "government is broken and is the problem" argument and, rather than trying to get involved to help fix it, we elected those people who told us "government is broken and doesn't work". I'm not sure what we expected from people who believe government (of THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE) doesn't work, can't work.

Firm in their belief that government IS the problem, they've not lifted a finger to try to fix anything that might actually be broken. Their approach is to "starve the beast" ... spend like crazy, lower taxes and borrow from the Chinese in such a way that the tax-and-spend, pay as you go lefties sound down right rational ... AND give no-bid contracts to cronies ... because .... well, because GOVERNMENT is broken and GOVERNMENT doesn't work and beacuse GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM.

But GOVERNMENT, in a democratic republic such as our nation, IS THE PEOPLE! WE are the government!

I suppose the old saw has some truth in it ... the ultimate test of intelligence is the ability to hold two conflicting thoughts in one's head simultaneously without going crazy. "This is a great country" on one hand and "our government doesn't work" on the other hand would certainly qualify. For our country to be great, we must have a government that works for us. If it doesn't work for us, it cannot be a great country. Third world countries have governments that don't work. Nations that are first rate world leaders are countries and governments that DO work.

Our country works because we have the ingenuity of the Constitution ... that body of rules by which we run our country - a series of checks and balances that distributes power in such a way that neither the executive branch, the legislative branch nor the judiciary can function without compromising with the other branches Remove those checks and balances and one branch becomes more powerful at the expense of the other branches .. and at the expense of the people ... US.. If someone is dismantling those rules that make us great ... not only are they the ones who are responsible for our government not working ... THEY are the ENEMY and we must fight them!

If you cannot find someone to vote for, does that mean you'll not vote? If you can't find a candidate to work for and you won't vote, does that mean you've given up? If you've given up ... how can you give up on a great country? You don't give up on winners. You give up on losers.

I have not given up. I believe this country has been great and can be great again. I believe our government is broken but that it can be fixed. I believe that our government and our form of government can work for us if we're willing to protect and defend it from all enemies both foreign ... and domestic.

Don't give up the ship. We have only begun to fight!


I wonder. Maybe I should polish that one up a little.

What'd'ya think?

The Redirecton

by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?
Issue of 2007-03-05
Posted 2007-02-25

A STRATEGIC SHIFT

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coƶperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

In the New Yorker


In the meantime, the Sunni Insurgency (remember them?) have been responsible for the deaths of MORE American soldiers in Iraq than the Shiites ... by a factor that can be measured in orders of magnitude.

The Moon is Down

a novel by John Steinbeck published in 1942

One fine Sunday morning, German (read "Coalition") soldiers arrive in a Norwegian (read "an Iraqi") town, and make short work of the defending troops. Boarding with the mayor, the commanding officer hopes that the two can retain order as the Germans go about their business of extracting coal from the local mine (read "oil") to further their war actions. Yet the mayor will not betray his people, even to save them. As the occupation continues, the townspeople, begin to fight the occupiers with devastating consequences on both sides. And as the resistance increases, the German (read "Coalition") soldiers find themselves despairing of victory.

A hauntingly familiar story.

The Moon is Down Again.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Shutdown Day

March 24, 2007 ... be there or be square!

Can YOU live without a computer?

Tonight's Dose of ... of ... Horse Pucky

  • Iraq's Superbombs: Home Made?
    Where are Iraq's superbombs coming from, really? The Pentagon is claiming -- again -- the the Iranian government supplied the deadly "explosively formed penetrators" (EFPs). But the more you study these devices -- which use an explosive charge to a convert disc-shaped metal 'lens' into a high-velocity slug capable of smashing through thick armor at an extended range –- the more likely they seem to be home-made in Iraq.

    Follow up on that thought?

  • Fox News Sponsoring Democratic Debate; Fur Council and PETA Merge

    ... and other fantastic possibilities.

  • Report by the Pentagon's Inspector General Concludes That Douglas Feith Cooked the Books on Pre-war Intelligence

    Will Feith get the Medal of Freedom?
    Like Franks, Douglas Feith went along.
    He did just what Wolfowitz said to.
    He was, just like Tenet, dead wrong.

    So what's with this snub of our Douglas?
    No medal? What's this all about?
    He lied even more than the others.
    So why has Doug Feith been left out?

  • Calvin Trillin in The Nation

    Articles of Feith

  • Honeybees Vanish, Leaving Crops and Keepers in Peril

    What do you suppose bees do for a living? Better eat up those fruits and veggies now while you can. Remember Rachel Carson?

    It's probably just more junk science.

    Actually, as stories go, it's huge compared to Anna Nicole Smith ... but its such a downer. No wonder it isn't getting any coverage.

The Ruins of a Lost World


Gila Ruins near Silver City, NM

Somehow it just seemed appropriate to include this.

Rewriting history

The White House website is getting scrubbed
Sun Feb 25, 2007 at 12:39:00 PM PST

On March 16, 2003 Dick Cheney went on Meet the Press. His absurd claims in that interview have since become politically embarrassing to the White House. For example, he declared...
"I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."
You won't any longer find a link to this transcript on the White House website—nor, indeed, are there links to most of Cheney's interviews from before 2006. Don't believe me? Just do a search for that infamous sentence at www.whitehouse.gov.

Check it out ...

"If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say this or that even, it never happened—that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death."
George Orwell, 1984

"Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary."
George Orwell, 1984

Journalism - The High Water Mark

Wolfie, baby! Where is your dignity?

Comparing Wars

Vietnam & Iraq: From Quagmire to Quicksand
by Paul Abrams
from The Huffington Post

The Bush Administration insists that the Iraq War bears little resemblance to the Vietnam War. As with most of Bush Administration assertions, this claim bears little resemblance to the truth. Indeed, the similarities between Bush's Iraq War and Vietnam are many and granular. Incredibly, as if they denied all the lessons of the first tragedy, the generation that was itself stuck in the quagmire of Vietnam has mired its own children in the quicksand of Iraq.

The contexts were similar. We may not recall today the depth of fear of the "red menace" that pervaded the country in the 1950s/60s. People built bomb shelters. School children ducked under desks in civil defense drills. Television programming was interrupted with testing of an emergency warning system. Civil liberties came under fire as purported "communists" were outed. [Today, substitute terrorism for communism, duct tape for bomb shelters, color-coding for television instructions, destruction of civil liberties for blacklisting, and the differences are small. The communists were described as ruthless, inhumane, unreasonable, and harboring a world view antithetical to democracy and human dignity.]

If you're looking for a reasonable and rational comparison between Iraq and Vietnam, this would seem to be as good as any I've seen.

As a side bar, I remember the Red Menace and the air raid drills of the 1950s. As little children, we were told to hide under our desks at school, "Duck and Cover"! The fact of the matter was, if there had been an atomic explosion, it wouldn't have mattered one bit. We would have been toast.

It was all a fantasy and there were people behind it who knew it was a fantasy.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

We've got your back

US generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack
Michael Smith and Sarah Baxter, Times On-Line
Washington

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

Finish it here ...


Besides, it's the Saudis, stupid!!!



Why are we not threatening an attack on Saudi Arabia?
by Bob Johnson on The Daily Kos
Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 10:37:05 AM PST

One of the most troublesome aspects of American foreign policy, and, indeed, of the lack of resolve and clarity displayed by most of our elected leadership, post-9/11, has been the seeming immunity given to Saudi Arabia.

The fact of heavy Saudi financial backing for everything from the bulk of the 9/11 attackers, to the Wahabist schools that preach anti-Western hatred, to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, worldwide, is not in doubt.

Of course, we all are well aware of the close ties Bush and Cheney share with the Saudi royals, but this latest p.r. blitz to link the Iranians to attacks on American forces in Iraq really begs the question.

Get the rest here ...

While Everyone Was Watching Anna Nicole Smith Rot

Allies pressure Iraq to hand over oil
New Zealand Herald
Feb 25, 2007
LONDON - Baghdad is under pressure from Britain and the United States to pass an oil law which would hand long-term control of Iraq's energy assets to foreign multinationals, according to campaigners.

Iraqi trades unions have called for the country's oil reserves - the second-largest in the world - to be kept in public hands. But a leaked draft of the oil law shows that the Government would sign away the right to exploit its untapped fields in so-called exploration contracts, which could be extended for more than 30 years.
More on O(peration) I(raqi) L(iberation) here ...

In the meantime ...

Record Profit For Exxon And Shell
New York Times - Feb 2, 2007
DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - Oil prices have fallen, but Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell left their smaller competitors in the dust and reported record annual profits Thursday. By making $180 million a day between them, the two largest publicly traded oil companies displayed their ability to ramp up production worldwide over the ...

Its the New York Times so you have to subscribe to get the rest ...


And you thought the war was because Saddam had weapons of mass distruction? NO?

OK ... so you thought the war was because Saddam had ties to al Qaeda?

hummmm ... ok .. so you didn't buy into that either.

You thought we were going to bring the Iraqi people democracy, right?

We switch you now to our man on the street interview:

Reporter: Mr Hasan Jumah Awwad al-Asadi, you're the leader of the country's oil workers' union. What to you think about foreign oil companies and their legalistic slight of hand that lets them say the oil belongs to Iraq but while they claim ownership of the "extraction rights" in a kind of international oil business equivalent of "droit de seigneur"?

Mr. al-Asadi: History will not forgive those who F%&# with the wealth and destiny of a people."

Reporter: Uh ... no ... I don't imagine it will ...

There you have it, folks. Operation Iraqi Liberation is in full swing. One might even say, "Mission Accomplished"!

Honestly, I sincerely believe that anyone who gets their news from television or any of the rest of the Main Stream Media hasn't got a clue whats going on.

Getting to know myself

The person I am from the inside looking out is no always a reflection of the person I see in the mirror.

Here's another one from a series of self portraits I'm doing as I try to figure out who I've become.



I think I like it. But I know it will be replaced by another soon enough.

Here are some more from the series.

University of Arizona Annual Indian Arts and Crafts Sale


Among the Tables
Candy is the one with the black cowgirl hat.


There's no question that it's the biggest in Arizona. I have no reason to doubt them. Candy and I have gone for the last three years and it's gotten bigger and bigger ... well, at least more crowded every year.

This year we were a little disappointed. Given the increase in the number of people attending, we would hope they would spread the show out a little more. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. The result was more people pressed into the same space. We found it hard to see the stuff for sale and, if you got close enough to one display to actually look, you got pushed and shoved by others trying to do the same.

I guess the other disappointment is that we simply can't seem to keep up with the prices. The first year we went I though we could maybe spend $50 for something "nice" only to find that anything "nice" had a $100 price tag. This year I went with the thought that we might spend $100 for something "nice" only to find that the going rate for "nice" is now $250 or $300. The up-side is that going to the show only cost us the entry fee; eight bucks a head.

Maybe the real problem is that, the longer we're here, the better we understand what we're looking at.

The Arizona State Museum (adjacent to the show and a show sponsor) was nice though ... great exhibit of photographs of Mission San Xavier de Bac, it's history and restoration as well as a photo essay on Indian chapels taken in the early 1990s.

There was also an exhibit of the Mexican mask tradition along with a little personal epiphany ... I finally made the tie in between the mask tradition and Mexican wrestling!! (Only to be informed by Candy that she's recently seen a TV presentation on the subject. I must have been vacationing on my other planet that day.)


Desert Little Bear - museum consultant,
cultural adviser, artist and huckster.
Ask about the 13,000 year warranty.

Caught my eye ...

so ... here for your amusement:

Jesus: Tales from the Crypt
Brace yourself. James Cameron, the man who brought you 'The Titanic' is back with another blockbuster. This time, the ship he's sinking is Christianity.

In a new documentary, Producer Cameron and his director, Simcha Jacobovici, make the starting claim that Jesus wasn't resurrected --the cornerstone of Christian faith-- and that his burial cave was discovered near Jerusalem. And, get this, Jesus sired a son with Mary Magdelene.

No, it's not a re-make of "The Da Vinci Codes'. It's supposed to be true.

Now, this should be a real lightening rod for controversy. The rest of the item is here ...


Chimpanzees 'hunt using spears'
Chimpanzees in Senegal have been observed making and using wooden spears to hunt other primates, according to a study in the journal Current Biology.

Researchers documented 22 cases of chimps fashioning tools to jab at smaller primates sheltering in cavities of hollow branches or tree trunks.

We like to think we're somehow different from or outside of the rest of nature. Now, one more reason to think we're extra special seems to be falling by the wayside.

The rest of the article here ...


World's hottest chili pepper a mouthful for prof
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (AP) -- Paul Bosland recalls taking a bite of a chili pepper and feeling like he was breathing fire.

He gulped down a soda, thinking, "That chili has got to be some kind of record."

The Guinness World Records agreed, confirming recently that Bosland, a regents professor at New Mexico State University, had discovered the world's hottest chili pepper, Bhut Jolokia, a naturally occurring hybrid native to the Assam region of northeastern India.

The name translates as ghost chili, Bosland said.

"We're not sure why they call it that, but I think it's because the chili is so hot, you give up the ghost when you eat it," he said.

Bhut Jolokia comes in at 1,001,304 Scoville heat units, a measure of hotness for a chili. It is nearly twice as hot as Red Savina, the variety it replaces as the hottest.

By comparison, a New Mexico green chili contains about 1,500 Scoville units; an average jalapeno measures at about 10,000.

The original piece is here ...