May 31, 2007

How many deaths will it take?

Dear God.

FORT LEWIS, Wash. (AP) - So many Fort Lewis soldiers are being killed in Iraq the Army base will no longer hold individual memorial services.

Starting next month Fort Lewis says it will hold one memorial a month for all the dead soldiers.

Headline in the Honolulu Advertiser today: More than 200 troops with Hawai'i ties dead

Where is the good in this war?

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Wealthier, or just less poor?

Found money! My driver-side car window mechanism failed the other day, and since I invariably have it down while driving, I needed to get it fixed. I took it to the local glass shop and they diagnosed the problem as a broken regulator within the door and estimated the cost for parts and labor at $236. I gulped, gave them a $100 deposit and waited till the part came in.

So yesterday they called to say they'd gotten the regulator, and I set up an appointment for today at 0830. I strolled in there, gave them the car and key, and sat down to wait. About an hour later the mechanic came back to me and said, "Nah, not the regulator. The regulator looks new. It's the bolts that hold it in place. We'll replace those."

Instead of $236, the cost was $105. How often does that happen?

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May 30, 2007

Plagiarism ain't good

Because you're likely to be caught.

Other writers don't take kindly to that kind of theft. The offending blog was discovered, evidence gathered, the author confronted. It was taken down within two hours.

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May 29, 2007

Don't ask us for help

Remember when Bush said in the 2000 campaign he wanted to restore "honor and dignity" to the White House?

If I were an Iraqi working for the Army/Marines/US government over there and there's a withdrawal from Iraq on this President's watch (yeah, yeah, unlikely, I know), I'd start looking to my hole card. This Administration has shown a willingness to throw former allies (not its really good buddies, like Libby or Wolfie, but others like John Snow) under the nearest bus when they become a nuisance, so I wouldn't expect that we'd offer the average Iraqi businessman, translator or office clerk asylum in the US when the whole enterprise collapses. What's one more opportunity to embarrass the country before the rest of the world? That wouldn't cause these clowns one bit of distress.

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May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Every year the Boy Scouts plant flags at every gravesite at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. My father and uncle are interred there, and yesterday my sister and niece went to pay their respects. They took along a camera and made this wonderful image.

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May 27, 2007

Time warp?

During the National Memorial Day Concert from the Capitol, somebody introduced songs of World War 2.

The first song was Moon River, written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini for the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in 1961.

Nobody fact-checks anything anymore.

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Sunday Shuffle

I've only loaded about a dozen CDs into iTunes, so there's less diversity here than I expect there will be when I put the other 25 or so into the library, but nonetheless:

Bridge over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
Love Me Like a Man - Bonnie Raitt
Love is in the Air - Michael Feinstein
El Condor Pasa - Simon and Garfunkel
Somebody Stole My Heart Away - Michael Feinstein
Song for the Asking - Simon and Garfunkel
Shaky Town - Jackson Browne
A Foggy Day (in London Town) - Michael Feinstein
Broken Arrow - Buffalo Springfield
Variations 1-4 - Julian Lloyd Webber
Yesterday - The Beatles

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May 26, 2007

Coup alert

Um. Does anyone else read this the way I do?

This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes "National Essential Functions," prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.


"Continuity of Operations," or "COOP," means an effort within individual executive departments and agencies to ensure that Primary Mission-Essential Functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies;

"Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;

Seems to me (and you really should read the whole thing) that Bush is setting up a scenario in which he could assume control of all government activities at any point when he or the Vice President or the Office of Management and Budget determine that some disaster has occurred.

Color me paranoid, but we've all seen how much respect the Bushies have for other branches of government and for the rule of law in general, so I think this directive deserves a whole lot more attention than it has so far gotten. I'd go so far as to say the Congress should demand it be reversed. Each branch of government has its own continuity plan already; there's no need for the Executive Branch to assume control.

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May 25, 2007


A discussion which began yesterday over at Library Thing asked:

At the end of the Elantris discussion topic (the last one), there is a short discussion about favorite familiars, and I figured that (or they) deserved a separate topic.

There are lots of familiars that I like, such as Merlin's string bracelet (I can't remember it's name...) from the second half of Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles, Max from Christopher Stasheff's Her Majesty's Wizard and cats from various books - Faithful from Song of the Lioness quartet, Morwen's cats from Enchanted Forest Chronicles, etc.

But my personal favorites are Philip Pullman's daemons and Anne McCaffrey's fire lizards.

Astonishingly to me, it made it through 17 replies with no one mentioning Pyewacket.

Fun fact about the movie version of Bell, Book and Candle: Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs had supporting roles. Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak played the leads, of course.

Who among you fantastic fiction readers has a favorite familiar?

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May 24, 2007

OMG Lost Recap!

It takes a seriously warped sense of humor to put this conglomeration of screen shots together with fanfic text to recap Season 3. I'm glad somebody has one.

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May 23, 2007

Lost, Season 3, Season Finale

Oh man. Three seasons of flashbacks and now the writers are foreshadowing episodes that take place in the next three seasons?

Desmond's prophecy about Charlie appears to have come true, although given Locke's return to life, Walt's showing up again, and Mikhail's recovery from a spear to the heart, I ain't takin' no bets about anybody's demise in this show.

Update: As I was making coffee this morning the scene with Jack and Kate on the airport grounds (in the future!!) came to mind again. Who among the group is/will be so loathed that no one attends his/her funeral? And the disdain in Kate's voice when she asked Jack why he thought she would attend was palpable.

More speculation can be found at The Transmission.

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War funding

The pragmatist in me realizes that the Democrats didn't have the votes to override a veto from President Bush if they left the departure timeline in the Iraq funding bill; the mad-as-hell part of me is furious that they took it out.

Politically Bush may have had the upper hand, because he could say the Democrats were holding up funding essential operations. It seems to me the polls indicate Americans want us out, but I suspect that if the President spun the veto as "they're not funding our troops!" the general population would hear that more loudly than they'd hear the Democrats' "the stupid President won't listen to the voters!"

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May 22, 2007


Joss Whedon, on the honor killing by stoning of a young woman :’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself. I’ve always had a bent towards apocalyptic fiction, and I’m beginning to understand why. I look and I see the earth in flames. Her face was nothing but red.

Read it and weep.

Via Making Light

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May 21, 2007

Yes, Virginia, global warming is here

Via Wolfrum at Shakespeare's Sister comes this useful link to the New Scientist's article Climate Change: A guide for the perplexed. It lists 26 claims the global warming deniers make and debunks each one. Here's what it says:

With so much at stake, it is right that climate science is subjected to the most intense scrutiny. What does not help is for the real issues to be muddied by discredited arguments or wild theories.

So for those who are not sure what to believe, here is our round-up of the 26 most common climate myths and misconceptions.

There is also a guide to assessing the evidence. In the articles we've included lots of links to primary research and major reports for those who want to follow through to the original sources.

• Human CO2 emissions are too tiny to matter

• We can't do anything about climate change

• The 'hockey stick' graph has been proven wrong

• Chaotic systems are not predictable

• We can't trust computer models of climate

• They predicted global cooling in the 1970s

• It's been far warmer in the past, what's the big deal?

• It's too cold where I live - warming will be great

Those are the first nine items; if you go to the article, you'll see that each is linked to a discussion, as are the remaining seventeen.

By the way, for a fictional representation of what could happen if we don't do something about the phenomenon, you could try reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capital trilogy, "Forty Signs of Rain," "Fifty Degrees Below," and "Sixty Days and Counting." I just finished the first one; the other two are on the table waiting for me. "Forty" is a precursor to later disasters; it concludes with Washington digging itself out from a weekend of rain that caused the Anacostia and Potomac rivers to overflow their banks, flooding the Mall and Rock Creek Park. The main characters are scientists trying to grapple with the idea that very few governments are paying any attention to their warnings, particularly the US government (yes, this does sound familiar, doesn't it?) and trying to find the proverbial two-by-four to get said governments off the dime.

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May 20, 2007

Philosopher jokes

Heard on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday today:

René Descartes walks into a bar. He orders a beer and chugs it down.

The bartender asks, "Want another?"

Descartes replies, "I think not."

Poof! He disappears.

Feel free to add your own in the comments.

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May 19, 2007

I grew up with this guy's music

The Library of Congress has instituted a new award.

Named for the brothers Gershwin (Ira and George):

The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will honor either a songwriter, interpreter, or singer/songwriter whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of artistic expression and cultural understanding.

Paul Simon is the first recipient of the Gershwin Prize; he'll be honored onstage at Warner Theater in DC on May 23. It will be broadcast nationally on PBS on June 27.

Performers include Yolanda Adams, Marc Anthony, Shawn Colvin, Dixie Hummingbirds, Jerry Douglas, Art Garfunkel, Philip Glass, Alison Krauss, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lyle Lovett, Stephen Marley, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder and Buckwheat Zydeco. Presenters include former poet laureate Billy Collins, Bob Costas, Charles Grodin and Lorne Michaels.

I have every album Simon released with Garfunkel, but I only have one two of the solo albums. That's a mistake. I certainly know a lot of the music contained on them.

If you're going to start a new lifetime achievement award with the lofty goal of giving it to someone who has crossed cultural borders his entire career, I'd say Simon is a good choice. From El Condor Pasa to Graceland, he's done about every kind of world music there is.

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May 18, 2007

Self-centered scanner test

Me, circa 1968.

I was seventeen, and this was taken for the school yearbook. It was part of the "Campus Life" section, and this was a meeting of the History Club. I've never again looked that handsome.

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May 17, 2007

Artemis Fowl

As a never-married and childless sort, I'd never had occasion to look for young adult books for boys, so I'd never run across the Artemis Fowl books. Until now.

I'd heard about them in various places, so I thought I'd further my cultural education and give them a shot. They're pretty good. The primary audience is the same group which likes Harry Potter; it's a series in which Our Hero (young Artemis) grows older until, in the latest one, he's reaching puberty at the beginning of the book. The end of that one contains a helluva surprise, so I won't reveal it. Suffice to say it involves time travel.

Artemis starts out in Book One as an aspirant to the title of Earth's criminal mastermind, and he wants fairy powers to help him attain that status. So he kidnaps a fairy. The fairy's bosses aren't pleased and attempt to get her back (she's no Tinkerbelle, this fairy; she's a seasoned cop in the fairy civil service), and Artemis is forced to try to outwit them.

Thus are we introduced to an amusing and often heroic cast of characters, including a centaur filling the role of Q, an M who gets away from his desk, and a kinda-sorta good-hearted dwarf who's a petty criminal. All of them evolve during the four-year sequence the books relate. I imagine if you're a twelve-year old these would hold your interest quite well, and they have the additional advantage of keeping the page count under 300 most of the time. Also, the evil encountered in these books is a little more light-hearted than the one Voldemort represents.

When I was twelve I was reading The Hardy Boys and Rick Brant; the Artemis Fowl books are worthy successors.

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Rescue me!

Scapegoat (n): One that is made to bear the blame of others.

See also: "War Czar" Army Lt. General Douglas E. Lute.

I can think of no reason for the appointment of General Lute to perform the functions that are written into the job descriptions of the Commander in Chief and the National Security Adviser other than finding a scapegoat. I even heard somebody quoted that General Lute will be doing the job NSA Hadley would be doing "if he had time." If he had time? What national security job is more important to the United States than Iraq?

This Administration is incompetent and mendacious. Every time I think it can get no lower, it finds a way.

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Horse's head, anyone?

Heh heh heh. One cartoonist's rendition of the Card/Gonzalez trip to Ashcroft's hospital bedside.

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May 16, 2007

Lost, Season 3, Episode 21

That Charlie. More guts than brains sometimes.

So was the reception committee inside the Looking Glass station composed of the formerly-pregnant women who were "studied" by Ben and his crowd?

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Omerta no longer

In case you missed it, here's the current Attorney General of the United States acting in his previous capacity as White House Counsel, when he wanted Justice Department approval on the warrantless wiretap program:

The crisis in March 2004 stemmed from a review of the program by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which raised "concerns as to our ability to certify its legality," according to Comey's testimony. Ashcroft was briefed on the findings on March 4 and agreed that changes needed to be made, Comey said.

That afternoon, Ashcroft was rushed to George Washington University Hospital with a severe case of gallstone pancreatitis; on March 9, his gallbladder was removed. The standoff between Justice and White House officials came the next night, after Comey had refused to certify the surveillance program on the eve of its 45-day reauthorization deadline, he testified.

About 8 p.m. on March 10, Comey said that his security detail was driving him home when he received an urgent call from Ashcroft's chief of staff, David Ayres, who had just received an anxious call from Ashcroft's wife, Janet. The White House -- possibly the president -- had called, and Card and Gonzales were on their way.

Furious, Comey said he ordered his security detail to turn the car toward the hospital, careening down Constitution Avenue. Comey said he raced up the stairs of the hospital with his staff, beating Card and Gonzales to Ashcroft's room.

"I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the attorney general was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that," Comey said, saying that Ashcroft "seemed pretty bad off."

Mueller, who also was rushing to the hospital, spoke by phone to the security detail protecting Ashcroft, ordering them not to allow Card or Gonzales to eject Comey from the hospital room.

Card and Gonzales arrived a few minutes later, with Gonzales holding an envelope that contained the executive order for the program. Comey said that, after listening to their entreaties, Ashcroft rebuffed the White House aides.

"He lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact, which stunned me," Comey said. Then, he said, Ashcroft added: "But that doesn't matter, because I'm not the attorney general. There is the attorney general," and pointed at Comey, who was appointed acting attorney general when Ashcroft fell ill.

And how did Comey feel about this behavior? He goes on:

Later, Card ordered an 11 p.m. meeting at the White House. But Comey said he told Card that he would not go on his own, pulling then-Solicitor General Theodore Olson from a dinner party to serve as witness to anything Card or Gonzales told him. "After the conduct I had just witnessed, I would not meet with him without a witness present," Comey testified. "He replied, 'What conduct? We were just there to wish him well.' "

Nice. This is your White House. It had no qualms about pressuring a man on his sickbed to approve a program despite questions about its legality, then, speaking to one of the people who'd been in attendance about what went on in the hospital room, trying to fudge the facts.

I find it quite telling that Comey felt he'd better have a witness to whatever Card wanted to talk about with him.

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Cha cha cha

I had no clue that Apolo Anton Ohno was still alive on "Dancing with the Stars."

I don't watch it, but I can't help seeing the promos, and even ESPN has been running segments (although it seems to me they did more when Emmitt Smith was on last year and while Clyde Drexler was on earlier this year; where's the love for short-track speedskaters?).

Go Ohno!

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May 15, 2007

Speak no ill of the dead,

No matter how hard you have to bite your tongue.

The Reverend Jerry Falwell has died.

To me it's always been a toss-up which was worse, Pat Robertson or Falwell. I've never understood how the brand of politics each happily practiced could ever be made to fit with the teaching of Jesus Christ, whom they both claimed to serve.

Now Robertson will have to flail away at the failings of American culture on his own, although I have no doubt some would-be Nehemiah Scudder will come along shortly.

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May 14, 2007

What's the point?

Mr. Bush, why are we there again?

But General Caldwell did explain for the first time why it took 56 minutes for American reinforcements to arrive at the scene of the ambush. His statement said that the two units sent to the scene discovered roadside bombs along the way.

Those two units were attempting to relieve a group of soldiers who'd come under attack. Three of them were abducted.

So not only do we lose soldiers in an attack, we can't get to them in a sensible amount of time because the roads are mined.

Screw it. Get out and get out now.

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May 13, 2007

Mom's delight

I hope all you Moms had happy Mother's Day celebrations. We fed ours a sausage, potato, peppers and onion frittata with English muffins, followed by strawberry shortcake for dessert.

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May 12, 2007


As a frequent user of Wikipedia, this discussion of its flaws and attempts to correct them fascinates me.

I don't trust the thing for any serious research, but I find it useful for two wildly different things: first, if I know absolutely nothing about something, it's liable to give me a broad overview of the topic with some external links where I can find more information. This works particularly well with pop culture. Second, when I do know something about the topic, I find the external links can often point me towards someplace that I'd have to dig through the fifth page of Google results to find.

Anyway, if you're interested in an impassioned and informed discussion about Wikipedia's merits and demerits, with guest appearances in the comments from some of its administrators, go read it. If you've got something to add to the discussion, join in.

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May 11, 2007

Lou Dobbs on 60 Minutes

This didn't exactly pass me by, but I did think it was so outlandish that nobody would believe it.

During his interview with Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes last Sunday, Dobbs made a truly bizarre claim:

Following a report on illegal immigrants carrying diseases into the U.S., one of the correspondents on his show, Christine Romans, told Dobbs that there have been 7,000 cases of leprosy in the U.S. in the past three years.

60 Minutes checked that and found a report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, saying that 7,000 is the number of leprosy cases over the last 30 years, not the past three. The report also says that nobody knows how many of those cases involve illegal immigrants.

"We went to try and check that number, 7,000. We can’t…," Stahl says.

"Well, I can tell you this. If we reported it, it’s a fact," Dobbs replies.

"You can’t tell me that. You did report it," Stahl says.

"I just did," Dobbs says.

"How can you guarantee that to me?" Stahl asks.

Says Dobbs, "Because I'm the managing editor. And that’s the way we do business. We don’t make up numbers, Lesley."

Now, I happen to live in a state which has some experience with leprosy, now known as Hansen's Disease. Our media is sensitive to stories about the disease, knowing that some members of our population had family members isolated during part of the last century because of their illness. I've seen nothing about these reputed 7,000 cases of leprosy. So was Dobbs wrong?

Take it away, David Niewert:

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Dobbs is spreading the tale that immigrants are bringing leprosy to America, and concocting numbers out of whole cloth in the process:

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) today urged CNN to acknowledge that anchor Lou Dobbs has been spreading false information about the prevalence of leprosy and its supposed links to undocumented immigrants.

"We're not talking about a newscaster who simply made a mistake — we're talking about someone with a national platform who cites wildly inaccurate data to demean an entire group of people and who, when confronted with the truth, simply repeats the lie," said SPLC President Richard Cohen. "It's outrageous, and CNN should do something about it immediately."

In a letter sent today, Cohen asked CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein to take prompt action to correct the misinformation.

On "Lou Dobbs Tonight" this past Monday, Dobbs said he stands "100 percent behind" his show's claim that there had been 7,000 new cases of leprosy in the United States over a recent three-year period, and he further suggested that an increase in leprosy was due in part to "unscreened illegal immigrants coming into this country."

Dobbs' endorsement of the claim came after CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl challenged the leprosy figure during a profile of Dobbs on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday. Stahl cited a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services document that reported 7,029 cases over the past 30 years -- not three.

... The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of leprosy cases diagnosed in the United States peaked at 361 in 1985. The figure reported on Dobbs' show is easily refuted with just a few minutes of research on the Internet.

Niewert goes on to find the source for Dobbs' numbers, and explains it further. If you're interested, you should read the whole thing.

What's the bottom line? Dobbs lied or at least misrepresented information in order to further his anti-immigrant agenda.

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May 10, 2007

Activity update

Pills or placebo having some effect. New Chinese algae eater bought to put into our fish tank.

Otherwise, as the sign in one of the Pooh books said, "Bizy, Backson."

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May 09, 2007

Lost, Season 3, Episode 20

Ben begrudgingly begins to introduce Locke to the secrets of the island, beginning with the mysterious Jacob.

That's it? That's the entire teaser from the official site?


Here's Ryan's The Transmission, although he and Jen are going to a viewing party and thus won't be live-blogging or taking notes. Go for the comment section, I guess.

Holy cow. I've been willing to believe Ben's evil, but mass murder? And Locke?

Holy cow.

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Crawling crud

It used to be that when I got a cold (about once every three or four years) I'd go find some cold medicine at the drugstore and take it as suggested until the cold went away (typically in three or four days). We all know that a cold lasts that long whether you treat it or not, so I never found a particular cold treatment which I could swear worked. I never worried overmuch about it; I think there was a placebo effect, wherein I felt like I was doing something about it.

Now, though, I take a daily blood pressure pill and a daily cholesterol pill, so I have to look a lot harder at the ingredients of cold pills, and I have fewer choices.


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May 08, 2007

Did DOJ-DC block a murder investigation?

Could the Ashcroft Dept. of Justice have deliberately dragged its feet on its hunt for the murderer of one of its own employees?

Tom Wales’s death would likely have become major national news. He was 49 years old, and he had spent the previous 18 years as a federal prosecutor in Seattle, mainly working on white-collar crime cases. He was gregarious, modest, humorous, charming, vigorous, very active in community efforts, widely liked and admired. A significant detail is that one of the civic causes for which Tom Wales worked was gun safety and at the time of his death was head of Washington Cease-Fire. This FBI’s “Seeking Information” poster issued after his killing is surprisingly forthcoming, even loving-sounding, about the background and virtues of the fellow law-enforcement officer whose murder the agency was investigating.


No one has been charged or arrested in his killing. But among the strange aspects of the case is that law enforcement officials fairly quickly began acting as if they knew exactly who they were looking for. For instance, a story last year in the Seattle Times said this about the case:

Agents have focused on a Bellevue airline pilot as their prime suspect. The pilot had been targeted by Wales in a fraud case that concluded in 2001.

Other reports over the years have emphasized that this same “prime suspect” was a gun enthusiast and zealous opponent of anyone he considered anti-gun. If – as is generally assumed – Wales was murdered for reasons related to his gun safety efforts and his past prosecutions, he would be the first federal prosecutor killed in the line of duty.

As best I have been able to tell from a distance, through the years law-enforcement and political officials from Seattle and Washington state have frequently complained that federal officials in Washington DC were not putting enough resources or effort into the case. The same Seattle Times story mentioned above goes into one of the disagreements. Everyone on the Seattle side of the story remembers that the Department of Justice in Washington DC sent no official representative to his funeral.

The above is from Jim Fallows' blog at The Atlantic. I respect Fallows' work; I've always found his stories in the magazine to be hard but fair. If he's speculating that one of the eight fired attorneys lost his job in part because he was pushing too hard on a case that worried the DOJ, then maybe we should all be speculating. He cites this story from the WaPo which relates info from newly-released documents which say

D. Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, told congressional investigators that he believes he may have recommended former U.S. attorney John McKay's removal in March 2005 because of conflicts with senior Justice officials over the investigation of the 2001 murder of federal prosecutor Tom Wales, according to congressional aides and Sampson's attorney.

You know, if Washington DOJ can reach out to interfere with a local US Attorney's investigation of a murder, particularly a murder of one of its own employees, then the rot has gone nearly beyond belief.

via Digby, who has a read-worthy opinion about the NRA's potential influence on this case.

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May 07, 2007

Musical interlude

If you find yourself short on entertainment some evening, try American Routes, a two-hour radio show hosted by Nick Spitzer in New Orleans. It airs here from 8-10pm on Sunday nights, and that's a dead zone for television as far as I'm concerned.

This week Spitzer interviewed John Prine for the full program, interspersing the chat with a lot of music spanning his 35-year career. The whole program was good, but the moment that Prine's Angel from Montgomery came on, sung as a duet with Bonnie Raitt, I was hooked. You can listen to the whole show or any part you like from that link; you can also find a station which runs it here.

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Yeah, so?

"If I tell you this," I said quietly, "it could be bad for you."

"Bad how?"

"It could force you to keep secrets that people would kill you for knowing. It could change the way you think and feel. It could really screw up your life."

"Screw up my life?" He stared at me for a second and then said, deadpan, "I'm a five-foot-three, thirty-seven-year old, single, Jewish medical examiner who needs to pick up his lederhosen from the dry cleaners so that he can play in a one-man polka band at Oktoberfest tomorrow." He pushed up his glasses with his forefinger, folded his arms, and said, "Do your worst."

Dead Beat, The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher

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May 06, 2007

Don Ho Remembered

Thousands crowded the Queen's Surf beach at Waikiki last night for a six-hour celebration of the life of Don Ho, who passed away on April 14. Click the links in the sidebar for more stories and slide shows.

There was a three-hour concert with virtually every big-name Hawai'i entertainer singing and reminiscing about Ho. Participants included Willie K, the Brothers Cazimero, Melveen Leed, several of Ho's children (including Hoku, a star in her own right), the Society of Seven, Jimmy Borges, and a bunch more I can't remember.

Selected video clips here.

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May 05, 2007


In the comments to a post Adam Felber wrote about Brownback, Tancredo, and Hunter all saying during that Republican debate the other night that they don't believe in evolution, commenter Dale sez:

I can think of no more compelling refutation to the theory of intelligent design than the current crop of Republican presidential candidates.


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Calendar reading 101

Somehow I got it in my head that tomorrow, May 6, was Mother's Day, so I scrambled around and found a card. It wasn't a particularly spectacular one, and I'm not happy with it, but hey, I didn't want to come up short.

Imagine my annoyance when I realized the big day isn't till next Sunday. Then imagine that I spent $4.49 for this card. $4.49! For a greeting card!

If I were 10 years old I'd buy some construction paper and make my own; Mom would probably appreciate it more than this high-priced thing.

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May 04, 2007

Nat'l Parks mysteries

I haven't yet read any of Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon mysteries, but if this writing is a sample, I want to.

She's describing her state of mind while writing Ill Wind, book 2 (of 13 and ongoing):

When writing this book I had just gone through a horrible divorce, so wretched, in fact, that I have come to the conclusion that those who say they had an amicable divorce weren't really married. It was in my heart to kill and tear and rend. Never underestimate the power of murderous impulses.

Yup. I've seen divorces like that.

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It looked good on TV

Anyone who's ever looked at a fast-food ad will recognize that life does not often equal art.

This phenomenon is particularly noticeable at Sizzler.

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May 03, 2007

Random acts of kindness

The prescription line at Tripler Army Medical Center has a paper dispenser with numbers (Now Serving: number XXX). I went up there today to pick up some pills and got #442. The current number was #426, so I resigned myself to a 15-20 minute wait and headed for a chair. A guy in the aisle seat said "here" and handed me a piece of paper with #432 on it. I looked at him and said "how come?" and he said he'd gotten two numbers and didn't need the second one.

Sometimes people surprise you.

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May 02, 2007

Lost, Season 3, Episode 19

It's called "The Brig."

A newly focused Locke breaks away from “The Others” in an attempt to persuade Sawyer to help rid them of a great nemesis that has caused nothing but pain in both of their lives. Meanwhile, a new island inhabitant discloses some shocking information about Oceanic Flight 815.

Locke? Newly focused? I hadn't noticed him being distracted. And what great nemesis has caused both Sawyer and Locke great pain? The title implies something takes place in a cell. Is Sawyer equally angry at Locke's old man? Am I forgetting something here?

Here's Ryan's commentary.

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Governor Good Hair likes guns, too

Ok, it's official. Texas Governor Rick Perry is the biggest loon of the week. Why?

"I think it makes sense for Texans to be able to protect themselves from deranged individuals, whether they're in church, or whether on a college campus or wherever they are," he said. "The idea that you're going to exempt them from a particular place is nonsense to me."

Among the places Perry thinks concealed weapons should be allowed: bars. Right. Because alcohol and hidden guns go so well together.

I wonder what would happen if I tried to walk into the Texas State Capitol or the Governor's mansion with a weapon under my shirt.

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May 01, 2007


Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.

A Civil Campaign, by Lois McMaster Bujold

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