You could knock me over with a feather. I'm amazed and know not what to say.
You could knock me over with a feather. I'm amazed and know not what to say.
My neighborhood of Duluth, known as Lakeside, was incorporated into Duluth in 1893 with one provision, that it would always remain dry. This year it was on the ballot to repeal that ban and it failed, 2858 to 2857. Lakeside will remain dry by one vote.
Hey! I picked up my mail today and look what was in it! An application for a credit card!
Oooh! Look! Washington Mutual! Maybe I should apply. Or maybe I should save it as a relic of a bygone era.
This is a mash up using footage from an ABC interview with some of the women from the polygamist sect in Texas which was raided recently. It's an eerie and somewhat disturbing look at the clash of cultures.
I was just reading about how Sarah Jane Olson (aka Kathleen Soliah, formerly of the SLA) was released from prison yesterday only to be put back in custody today. Something about someone counting wrong and releasing her from prison a year early. (Huh?)
But what caught my eye was this detail about the Symbionese Liberation Army:
The SLA started in 1973 when no more than a dozen white, college-educated children from middle-class families adopted a seven-headed snake as their symbol and an ex-convict as their leader. Their slogan: "Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people."
Clearly none of these college-educated white kids did much with composition or creative writing 'cause that sucks as a slogan. I'm glad they never wrote a jingle.
So I'm quickly clicking through my RSS news feeds, having a backlog of over a hundred stories, and this headline quickly flashes before my eyes...
What's the first thing you would think of?
Yeah, not me. The first thing I thought of was the Inquisition and who the hell did the Catholic church lock up for 5 years and what for?
Yes, I'm that big of a dork that that's the way my mind works.
Besides... what would a sports story be doing in my RSS feeds?
Just when you thought the Republicans couldn't get any more Orwellian, the Minneapolis task force formed to ensure the free speech rights of protesters at the upcoming Republican National Convention silenced attendees at their meeting today. The attendees resorted to holding up handwritten signs. You can read the full story as reported by Minnesota Public Radio which didn't miss the irony of this.
Or you can just read 1984.
According to a recent article there may be a lot more habitable planets in the galaxy than we had thought. In fact, it's thought that more than half of stars like our sun are likely to have earth-like, water-bearing, temperate planets like our own blue celestial island.
If this is true, of course, it greatly expands the possible number of potential intelligent extraterrestrial species that we might encounter according to the famous Drake equation.
Further, Javiera Guedes at UC Santa Cruz suggests that, according to computer models, Alpha Centauri is prime to have one of these habitable planets in the Goldilocks zone. Alpha Centauri, as any geek knows, is one of our closest stellar neighbors and so is the most likely candidate for humankind's first interstellar jaunt.
In light of all this political scientist John Hickman's latest article in Astropolitics entitled "Problems of Interplanetary and Interstellar Trade" might be considered more than merely an academic study. An excerpt...
Economic exchange itself might be "alien" to the aliens. Members of an alien species may not experience the same intense sense of self that is exhibited in rationally self-interested economic exchange among humans. Instead, a collective identity could be dominant. Money might not exist and without it neither would complex markets or banking. If they do engage in economic exchange it might take a form akin to potlatch, the competitive gift-giving for status solely among members of the same tribe traditional among societies in Melanesia and the Pacific Northwest. Moreover an alien species might not live in separate societies and could thus have no conception of trade between different societies with different cultures.
Then again, maybe they are Ferengi.
For my fun speculation on a possible first encounter, feel free to read Signs of Intelligent Life.
Creative bars in Minnesota are getting around the recent statewide smoking ban by exploiting an exemption for actors smoking on stage. How do they do this? They have theater nights where they declare that the bar is a stage and everyone who enters are actors.
I have to smile at this because I like people who creatively exploit loopholes but I bet it isn't as fun as it should be. I imagine a theater night at a bar where everyone who enters receives a role to play in an unfolding drama, one giant improvisation experiment.
The bouncer could be the casting director as people come in. "Okay, you are playing Buddy, a closeted homosexual who comes here twice a week to scope out the men, but never does anything about it. You are Joan, Buddy's older sister who is a single mother of three and a successful realtor but secretly wants to leave it all and start a pottery studio." And anyone who slips out of character gets bounced.
Now that would be a Theater Night.
I hereby declare today International Learn how to Pronounce "Medvedev" Day since he's officially been elected and we gotta. I have to admit that I have enjoyed listening to American announcers try to wrestle their tongues around his name and I don't blame Clinton for stumbling over it. It's tough for us Americans!
Here's the teacher...
Now I'll try...
and started a firestorm.
About five days ago I put up this post on Perfect Duluth Day about comments made by a local meteorologist on a local radio show. In the wake of Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize this meteorologist said that he wouldn't pay a dime to go see An Inconvenient Truth because Al Gore was a "left wing nut." Here is the whole conversation that was originally aired on KUWS.
I thought that dismissing Al Gore as a "nut" was a silly ad hominem attack and beneath someone who was a public figure and a scientist, so I said so.
What have I wrought? The discussion got heated fast and even made the local paper, which only added fuel to the fire after that.
For a post that was supposed to be about civility in dialogue I sure brought out the worst in some people. Over 100 comments later the sniping continues even after the meteorologist himself posted to the blog apologizing for his choice of words and, having watched the film (he wouldn't have given a dime to see), he posted what I thought was a reasoned review of it from his perspective.
While I'm elated that the blogosphere can bring some accountability to public figures, I'm more downhearted by the tone of discussion.
So, Barry Bonds' career homerun record breaking baseball is heading to the hall of fame with an asterisk on it... literally. Marc Ecko, who purchased the baseball for over $750,000, had an on-line poll as to what to do with the questionable baseball and the overwhelming winner was - stamp it with an asterisk.
To me this is less of a sports story and more of an arts story. This is a creative and whimsical response to what many people find to be a ethically ambiguous situation. I salute Mr. Ecko for this foray into public art.
I first read Wrinkle in Time when I was in 4th grade and it was probably the first science fiction novel I ever read. It was a good choice for the first time out.
Bless you in your passing, Madeleine. May light perpetual shine upon you.
"I saw objects in the air that didn't belong there." - Melissa Hughes, MPR article
Oddly yesterday morning, some 9 hours before the Minneapolis bridge collapsed, I was reading about the history of London Bridge. A bridge of some sort has spanned that portion of the Thames since 60 AD when the Romans first put up a wood structure there. And we all know the song.
Objects in the air.
What strikes me is how much we operate on faith. Faith in bridges, that these objects that span water in air grounded to earth will carry us safely time after time and we don't even think about it. Why should we?
Objects in the air.
And what I love is the audacity of the human race that we impose our will on our geography. Rivers, mountains, deserts, air, space... all are daunting, but not barriers. We launch our minds to span the breech, whatever it may be.
Objects in the air that don't belong there.
[photo by ebrandt78]
Well, I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and my official review is - wow.
I just thought I'd put up a thread for my initial impressions.
I won't put any spoliers here on the front page, but "continue reading" for specifics.
To any who haven't read it yet let me say that it is a most satisfying read especially if you have read the other six books carefully because Rowling does an excellent job of wrapping up all the loose threads. I really need to go back and reread The Half-Blood Prince but she refers to all of the previous six books. Having read Deathly Hallows it is very clear that the whole series was carefully plotted out. She was not making it up as she went along.
Spoilers follow - you have been warned.
Mr. Nice is running for mayor of Duluth, Minnesota. At least, he wants to. City officials are denying him access to the ballot because they say he's not a person, he's a piece of art. As if we've never elected a puppet to office! At least with Mr. Nice we know what we're getting!
His platform includes:
There is a rally protesting his exclusion from the ballot today at 4:20pm on the commons outside the Duluth City Hall.
Here's what all good, loyal Republicans are carrying in their wallets and purses! Get your own! All you have to do is:
Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday. When I think of Kurt Vonnegut I think back on the summer of 1989 when I had just graduated from Purdue. I got a temporary job working for a county health department and I spent most of that summer reading everything by Kurt Vonnegut I could get my hands on. It was a perfect fit in many ways.
My first job for the department was to get their database up and running. Personal computers were still pretty new then and everything was on paper file. I was asked to get the database ready to receive information and teach the secretary how to do it. My supervisor gave me two weeks and then I could move on to a field assignment. Well, it was the summer and I didn't really want to spend two weeks in the office when I could be outside, so I got the job done in 2 days. When I reported this to my supervisor he was thrilled, but since I still had a week and a half left, he had me do data entry for the remainder of the time.
This is what expediency gets you.
When I finally got out in the field my job was to go around the county and inspect tile fields, a kind of off-grid septic system, to see if they were working properly. If not I was supposed to note that and try to find a connection between failures. There were a lot of tile fields in the county and I was supposed to check most of them before the summer was out. I jumped right to it and, after a couple weeks, I realized if I kept this up I would be done long before the deadline.
Now, I'm not stupid. I had already learned what beauracracies do to the efficient. So I found lots of time to read Kurt Vonnegut during long lunch breaks and found myself enjoying many of the city and state parks around the area on sunny summer afternoons.
One of the things I learned from that summer was that no matter how well manicured the lawn or how many cars are on the lawn, no matter how nice or surly the person is when answering the door, when I lifted the inspection portal, sewage always smells the same.
I think Kurt would agree.
I made and posted the above comic nine months ago and today I found out the ironic truth. Mel Kay, head of the Golden State Fence Company, plead guilty on charges of hiring undocumented workers. This firm was contracted by the U.S. Government to help build the Great Wall of Bush along the southwest border in order to keep undocumented workers out.
The slogan of the Golden State Fence Company is "Home of the American Dream."
Comedians have to get more and more outlandish because the truth gets weirder and weirder.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed apparently confessed to more than two dozen acts of terrorism in a censored interrogation transcript that the Pentagon released today. In it he apparently confessed to planning the September 11 attacks, beheading Daniel Pearl, plotting the Bali nightclub bombings, and many aborted or unsuccesful attacks, including the Richard Reid shoe bombing, a planned assassination of Bill Clinton, and an aborted attack on Big Ben and many other prominent sites.
But that's not enough for this fiendish mastermind of evil, he also confessed to...
10. causing the Irish potato famine,
9. shooting JR,
8. producing Gigli,
7. putting the bop in the bop-she-bop-she-bop,
6. sinking the Titanic,
5. mixing #5 plastics with #1 and #2 plastics in his recycling,
4. changing Daylight Savings Time,
3. shooting Greedo,
2. causing Global Warming,
and the #1 censored thing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed to be responsible for is...
Yesterday Al Franken officially announced his candidacy for the Minnesota U.S. Senate seat presently held by Norm Coleman. This reminded me that I blogged about this on my old blog, so I decided to find that old post and resurrect it. I stand by what I said then. I think Al will make a great senator and I look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail.
Say it isn't so, Chewie!
Chewbacca was arrested this weekend in Los Angeles for headbutting Brian Sapir, a tour guide, after Sapir tried to get him to stop harrassing Japanese tourists. The enraged wookiee was heard to exclaim, "Nobody tells this wookiee what to do!"
Superman, nearby, witnessed the whole exchange, and used his superpowers to call the Jimmy Kimmel Show so they could get footage of it.
Captain Jack Sparrow was not surprised by the wookiee's behavior. "Things like this happen around Chewbacca all the time. I saw him in a fight with a music vendor. They knocked over a baby stroller," Sparrow said.
Today in an interview with NPR's Juan Williams President Bush defended Vice-President Cheney's continued optimism about Iraq because he has a "half glass full mentality." This totally makes sense to me as the whole Iraqi campaign has been a half glass operation from the start.
When they were planning (and I use the term loosely) the invasion of Iraq they half glassed it by predicting we would be greeted as liberators. When we were figuring out how we would pay for this thing they half glassed it by saying that the oil revenues would more than take care of it. When they defended our continued presence there they half glassed it saying we were leading an international contingent consisting of us, Great Britain, and, oh, lots of folks really! Let's face it. Timelines, strategies, world opinion, everything this administration does in Iraq is half glassed.
Oh, and it doesn't stop there. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina? Half glassed. After all, wasn't Brownie doing a hell of a job?
Bush's health care plan? Half glassed. It is the only health care proposal that has ever united labor and business in opposition.
Bush's economic policy? Half glassed. Not only does he cut revenue by slashing taxes for the rich, he grows government spending more so than any president since FDR supposing that the next generation will be rich enough to pay for it.
And thanks to this interview we finally understand the underlying principle behind these policies. They are all half glassed.
Since this is the dawning of the year of 007 I thought I'd make some New Year Resolutions to match. So, with James Bond as my role model, I do resolve:
All right, I have to ask the question - Does anyone actually stand around a water cooler and have conversations with their coworkers?
I must have heard this tired old saw used three or four times this last week. We supposedly have water cooler conversations about sports, about television, about politics, and today I was told we are having water cooler conversations about OJ Simpson's new book.
Well, in my place of work we don't even have a water cooler. And, while I'm not typically a literalist about these sorts of things, I have to wonder - Do these conversations really exist around said water coolers?
Donald Rumsfeld was finally fired today after a long record of gross incompetence. But I liked his poetry. Maybe he has a literary career in his future. I will say farewell with one of my favorite poems, er, press briefings of his.
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
February 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing
And here's a recitation!
Not only do I think this is a great question, it is one that I have used in an interview. Back in 1992 we were putting together an ensemble drama group for a summer camp and the final question of the interview was "Are you any cool?" The best answer, by the way, was from Liz who said, "No!"
Potential Oxford philosophers take note.
The GAO has recently completed a study on the effectiveness of the government's Anti-Drug Ad Campaign, and after 1.4 billion dollars over 18 years not only has the War on Drugs not reduced drug use, it looks like it may have actually increased drug use.
So, let's recap -
War on Drugs = More Drug Users
War on Terror = More Terrorists
Given this track record of success, what shall we declare war on next?
Or, perhaps, just maybe, declaring war, even as a metaphor, is a losing proposition. Hmmmm...
I feel no need to comment further on this data, but perhaps you do.
Generals John Abizaid and Peter Pace delivered a sobbering report to the Senate on the state of affairs in Iraq. (Can we call it a quagmire yet?) They described increased sectarian violence and said that not only could we not withdraw troops, we may need to increase them and redeploy those that we have there to supress those wiley insurgents in a military strategey that Senator John McCain called "Whac-a-Mole."
In other news, the Bush administration has declared war on Space Invaders warning against marauding Asteroids and has alerted the Missile Command to prepare the Battlezone. Critics call this nothing but "a Tempest in a Tea Cup" and that the administration has finally gone Berzerk. Bush, however, claims to have special intelligence from his head Spy Hunter and the Vanguard of the Moon Patrol living high above the earth in their Star Castle.
"Oh, and if you hear any additional sounds, like pops or clicks or whistles, don't worry. That's the sound of freedom. That's the sound of our NSA listening in on our conversation. And we don't have anything to hide... right?"
What to do with the crazed, fanatical, lunatic fringe of Christianity like the Westboro Baptist Church? You can't reason with them. You can't shout them down, that just encourages them. This is why I love satire. That's why godhatesshrimp.com is so brilliant. It takes the message of the enemy (and, yes, I think these lunatics are the enemy) and takes it to the absurd conclusions. It won't stop the fanatics, but it will show the absurdity of their argument to onlookers. As a former hoosier, I particularly like the pictures of a God Hates Shrimp (counter) demonstration in Indianapolis last week.
Not as high and mighty as we all thought, eh, Lord Nelson?
Since its unveiling in 1843 it has been reported that Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, London was 185 feet from street level to the tip of his jaunty hat. Well, as the column was being restored it was found that that figure wasn't quite right. In actuality the monument was only 169 feet 5 inches, a full 15 feet shorter than had been documented for years.
Consider: Thousands of visitors every day. Millions, perhaps billions of people passing by this monument in the last 160 years. No one thought to question the fact of how tall this statue really is. And we're not talking inches here. And, on top of that, the column had been restored twice before.
My takeaway, don't take facts at face value. Question and then measure for yourself. I think I'm going to march into my bathroom right now and check if there really are 500 sheets of toilet paper in a roll.
I had two big takeaways from watching An Inconvenient Truth:
2) Al Gore is a very good preacher.
The second point came to me when I was leaving the film and my friend mentioned how good the film was and how she appreciated that Al Gore wasn't "too preachy." And I realized that while he wasn't preachy, he was, in fact, preaching in the best sense. The whole film has a sermonlike quality and structure to it.
So my kids and I went and bought bikes last weekend celebrating the end of school and the official beginning of summer. I was pleased to find our local store had Huffy bikes because I knew they were made in Celina, Ohio, near where I grew up, and I told my kids this. Emma looked at the tag on the bike and said, "Papa, where in China did you grow up?" Yep, Huffy outsourced.
Senator, Treasury Secretary, and former Vice Presidential Candidate Lloyd Bentsen died today, but mainly I knew him for the biggest political debate knock out punch ever given on prime time television. I was a college student and living in Oregon at the time. It was the first time I was old enough to vote in a presidential election so I was following it fairly closely.
On the evening of October 5, 1988 a bunch of fellow students and I gathered in a professor's living room and we watched the debate live. Bentsen's debate opponent was the very easy to ridicule Dan Quayle - but looking back on it, Quayle's political obituary was written that night when Bentsen retorted to Quayle's predictable comparison of his youthfulness with that of John F. Kennedy -
Well, next week will be the 29th anniversary of the release of the very first Star Wars movie, and George Lucas announced that he will, for the first time, release the Original Series on DVD as we saw a long time ago in a cinema far, far away. (Well, okay, about 750 miles away for me, but that's far enough.) Of course, he famously swore that he wouldn't do this.
So, here's the question:
Has George Lucas -
a) seen the light and realized that we liked the old version warts and all and it made Han Solo that much cooler that he shot Greedo first, or
b) realized that he can make a lot of money and that suckers like me will scoop this up faster than you can say, "Chewie! Hit the hyperdrive!"?
George Bush said last night that he is sending 6000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border but that he is not "militarizing the border."
Oh yes, and Black is White, Freedom is Slavery, War is Peace, and Ignorance is Strength.
As the years go along I am coming to believe that the best practical preparation for the real world, or the world as it has come to be, I got in public school was from reading George Orwell's 1984 in Sophomore English. At the time I thought it was a ridiculous novel and that no one would be dumb enough to fall for the bald faced lies of the state. Welcome to 1984, folks.
The Ministry of Reshelving seem to agree with my general assessment and are going to local bookstores moving Orwell's book to Current Events.