Saturday, October 30, 2004

Where Signs Go to Die

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Sunset at the Station


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

School Children Threatened with Explulsion for Supporting Kerry

From dailykos.

An email from Wisconsin.
A friend with a child in the Richland County,WI high school where George Bush appears today reports the following. Students were told they could not wear any pro-Kerry clothing or buttons or protest in any manner, at the risk of expulsion. After a parent inquired, an alternative activity will be provided, probably a movie being shown in an auditorium. (The school secretary reportedly said that students had the choice of just staying home if they didn't want to attend the Bush rally, but the principal subsequently offered an alternative.)
If Bush comes to a high school, how dare his campaign dictate what students can wear?

This is out of control.

Update: Rachel Schultz is the superintendent of Richland Center School District in Wisconsin (where students were told not to wear any Kerry regalia during Bush's visit). Turns out Rachel is married to Dale Schultz, Republican candidate for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District in Wisconsin.

Wombat Haiku #3

Cuddly summer pet
Playful wombat moves slowly
Twisted rim, roadrash

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Crack for Votes

At least the Dems are offering something a man can use. But, I suppose crack for a hundred obviously fake registration is much worse than tearing up thousands of registrations of people who checked the Democratic Party box.

Seriously. Republicans...I mean crack kills.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Mafia Soldiers Support Bush-Cheney

Well, I suppose they know which side their bread's buttered on. It'd be funny if it weren't so sad.

Cat-tossing in Zero-G -- Seekrit Air Force Movie

I know I should feel sorry for the cat, but it's just too damn funny not to laugh.

Shamelessly stolen from boing.boing.

Ed. - The Air Force took this site down (gee, wonder why?), but it's now mirrored here.

Friday, October 22, 2004

NYT: Pentagon Reportedly Skewed C.I.A.'s View of Qaeda Tie

Gee, what a surprise.

As recently as January 2004, a top Defense Department official misrepresented to Congress the view of American intelligence agencies about the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, according to a new report by a Senate Democrat.

The report said a classified document prepared by Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, not only asserted that there were ties between the Baghdad government and the terrorist network, but also did not reflect accurately the intelligence agencies' assessment - even while claiming that it did.

Still Life with Books and Gun

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Turkish Store in the Netherlands

Possibly the most unorganized blog I've ever stumbled across. You can almost hear the accents:

hı thomas

we are waitıng for you..........come here please... need to comminicate..
did u like the pespectives? are they help to understand the atmosphere. ıf you want to know more detaıl tell us.

??? to deniz, tuna, grietsje

where are our friends???? we are waiting for you for 1 hour...
why don't you answer our messages??? because we can't do anything without you...
please come hereeeeeeeeee :)

(ece & gülhan)

Rido& gerard where are you

rido & gerard i am waiting u ?

The Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket

I have to admit; after giving it up to the current regime like the girl with the bad rep in high school in the back seat of a Volkswagen, the Congress looks a little silly now expecting to exercise their oversight.

That said, it's still shameful and endemic of the deep structural problems I'm afraid not even Kerry's ascension will aleviate.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Extreme Mapage

I was looking for a site that might have a map of what the Earth would look like in 20,000 years or so and found this instead. Tres cool, but too far in the furture (or past) for my dire purposes (cue mad scientist laugh).

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Raisin farmers meet yak herders? Must be the Slow Food fete

Now this would be some holiday!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

A Touching Tribute to the TSA

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This story came up on Fark recently, and they posted it as a kind of throw away article of mainly prurient interest. The story is about a 36 year old woman leaving Denver to return home to San Diego with her 3 month old daughter:

Ava Kingsford, 36, of San Diego said she was flagged down for a pat-down search at Denver International Airport last month as she prepared to board a flight home with her 3-month-old son. Kingsford objected when a female screener with the Transportation Security Administration told her, "I'm going to feel your breasts now…." Kingsford said when she told the screener that she was uncomfortable with it, more security agents and police officers arrived. They told her that she couldn't board her flight without submitting to the final step of the search.

In the Fark discussion of the story, a user wrote:

“Good God something like this almost happened to me coming back from DFW. I got picked out for a double screening and this totally butch screener starts waving her wand all over and such. After removing my shoes and jewelry, we were still getting beeps. Sure enough, it was my navel ring. Now consider this: I was wearing a dress at the time. Not a top and a skirt, a one-piece dress. The only way for the screener to actually see this would be for me to flash the entire farking airport.

When I assured her that it was my navel piercing, she had to call over her supervisor and they both had to explain to me how the security officer was going to "feel my abdomen area." I stood there, arms spread out, feet shoulder-width apart, and in front of everyone the s.o. started rubbing my belly back and forth….. So now I pose this question (in all seriousness): What if it had been a clit stud instead of a navel ring?” - americandecadence

Humorous, eh? Silly girl should have left the old rubbly nubbly alone. That’s what you get…etc.: when you live in a police state.

OK, we may not be living in a fully functioning police state yet (although the legal work necessary for one has been accomplished). Still, a cursory internet search will reveal literally thousands of stories like these stashed among the blogs and discussion groups. Steven Yates at has a good essay about this called, “Why I Avoid Airports.”

Lately I’ve been checking out allegations of women and girls being "searched" rather zealously, shall we say, at security checkpoints in airports. Incidents of overly intimate touching and fondling have been reported at Phoenix, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Portland, and elsewhere. Perhaps three dozen such cases have been reported. I don’t know that they happen everywhere. There is no way to know what hasn’t been reported, of course. A few of these cases involve children. In the Atlanta case, a 9-year old girl was frisked. In yet another, from Orlando, a 3-year old girl was patted down. There are related cases of absurd levels of paranoia among security personnel. At Kennedy Airport in New York City, a woman was forced by a security guard to drink from three bottles of her own breast milk to "prove" that the white liquid posed no threat to anyone. The dominant news media have been mostly silent about these cases except for a tiny handful of local news stories.

He goes on to make the case that, “When federal employees can bully citizens with impunity, including getting cheap sexual thrills out of it, the citizens cease to be citizens and become subjects: subject to arbitrary federal power.” It would be one thing if these searches or programs like CAPPS, CAPPS II, the Trusted Traveler et al., offered some reasonable protection from terrorism, but they demonstrably don’t. Witness the number of guns, knives, fake explosives, etc that have made it through our “screening” process post 9/11.

Noted security expert Bruce Schneier makes a succinct and convincing case the most recent incarnation of these programs will not make us safer for one simple reason:

What the Trusted Traveler program does is create two different access paths into the airport: high security and low security. The intent is that only good guys will take the low-security path, and the bad guys will be forced to take the high-security path, but it rarely works out that way. You have to assume that the bad guys will find a way to take the low-security path… Airport security is best served by intelligent guards watching for suspicious behavior, not dumb guards blindly following the results of a Trusted Traveler program.

I don’t know why this all pisses me off so much, makes me want to find one of these screeners at a bar and preemptively clean his clock. Reading about incidents like the two above, I shake with adrenalin I forcefully ignore the screams of my lower brain. Perhaps I share with Yates an “intense dislike of anyone who abuses power.” Mrs. Primate and I have encountered a, thankfully, lesser cousin of this kind of treatment in the States. Those of you who know me know that I understand more than the average Joe about actual security; I have a bit of a temper on me; and I've got just an tinsy insy problem with authority; I'm a veritable TSA perfect storm. I’m not sure what I’d do if some uneducated, uncouth and unctuous TSA employee gave my family a hard time. Hopefully and probably I’d be smart. But the fact that there’s a bit of doubt in my mind, that I can easily imagine a trip to the airport landing me in prison, tells me something is very, very wrong with this system. When normal people can be driven so, something is good and fucked.

But, even worse than substituting the illusion of security for real safety, even more crucial than the loss of civil rights and the decay of civil behavior, is the tragedy that has become of the American character. When we accept - in the main without question - that it’s normal for strangers to violate our persons against our will on a regular basis and on behalf of what is ostensively our own government, we’ve entered an advanced and perhaps terminal decadence.

It was never in the American character to let folks, much less bullies and certainly not governments push us around. The coup of 2000 is symbolized most aptly by the subsequent and possibly related attacks on the Twin Towers: just like the New York skyline, we’ve been neutered as a people. Lured with succulent treats to the front hall, wrapped gently in old blankets, pushed suspicious but still trusting into the back of the station wagon, dragged irresistibly through the animal din of the veterinarian’s lobby to await the inevitable.

But this bit of hyperbole highlights the regime’s greatest - and possibly only real - weakness. It’s one thing to illegally arrest foreigners or our own more marginalized citizens. "Eh," most people will say, "I'm sure they had it coming." And that only if they notice at all. Even excepting the occasional arrest of an apparently “regular” person, like Brandon Mayfield, as of yet the regime hasn’t interfered with most folks’ lives even as it robs and tortures and kills out of sight of mainstream America. But if we’ve haven’t passed the terminal juncture yet - and we probably have - ultimately only visceral interference with the lives of Americans will wrench us from our induced and diseased slumber. I just hope, and if I prayed I would, that this wasn’t, really, the founders’ intention when they penned the Second Amendment.

...and I'm hoping that this First Amendment expression hasn't just landed me on the No Fly list.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Just Passing This Along

Daily Kos :: RNC funds voter supression efforts

[sigh] At least, you'd think they'd have learnt how to not get caught by now. I can't believe these cheating numskulls have outwitted us again.

Maybe we don't deserve democracy anymore.

Monday, October 11, 2004

As if we had any doubt about which way the media were biased.

Wombat Haiku #2

Friends, Sunday barbie
'neath eucalyptus in bloom
Wombat is ready

Friday, October 08, 2004

Travels Through the Blogosphere

Image Hosted by imagehosting.usEvery few days I take a 15 or 20 minute totally random tour through the Blogosphere, at least blogspot’s appreciable corner of it, using their “next blog” button to visit other blogs at random. I’ve only found a handful that were interesting and only one worth revisiting (I’m not sure how well my modest blog would fair on some stranger’s random blog trip!) It's also been fun to note how quickly memes spread through the blogosphere, especially the good kind, like how the White House backed off about outsourcing torture and about President Bush the Younger being wired during the debates. In the latter case, I'm sure the attention in the blogosphere generated many letters to Congresspeople and putting pressure on the administration to confirm or deny their support; in the latter case, hopefully some brave (and soon to be deceased) reporter will question Bush the Younger before the election.

Anyway, with no further ado and keeping in mind that the methods leading to the following observations are less than rigorous, here’s a few things I’ve noticed so far:

  • There are numerous blogs in Spanish and French and many from Singapore.
  • I see one new blog (say, less than a week old) for nearly every two or three established blogs.
  • There is a surprising number of evangelical Christian blogs that appear to be well linked to each other. This ascary me.
  • Right wing blogs appear to outnumber progressive blogs.
  • There are very few smutty blogs. At least ones worth visiting.
  • I can understand about 50% of the blogs written by people under 18. In other news, I’m officially fucking old.

Thanks HTTF.

The Corner Near the Bank

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This guy along with a buddy (not pictured - he walked off following some Catholic High School Girls (tm) was recruiting at the corner near my office where the crazy Jesus man usually stands and sometimes shouts. I wonder if they suckered anyone or if they were just hoping Michael Moore would wander around and make them famous.

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The next day, this guy set up shop. Lyndon LaRouche for Kerry for President. Strange days indeed.

I kind of miss the crazy Jesus man.

Wombat Haiku 1

Augmented Wombat

A marsupial divine
Burnt rows, summer grass

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Going Postal

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These are the hard core special delivery guys. The convocate every morning at the deli where I get my two eggs with ham and cheese on a roll with pepper and a little bit of salt cooked just under medium with the roll heated on the griddle. I say "Hello Fellas," and they say, "Good morning," and sometimes we talk about the weather or strange police activity.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

More Memes for the Blogsphere

Daily Kos has some good photos/videos refuting Cheney's best shot, the "...I'd never met you until you stepped on to the state tonight."

First blog entry:

Second blog entry:

Is Bush Wired?

Stolen from boingboing.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Defacing a Sign, Part II

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It looks like the folks who keep putting up Bush/Cheney signs on public property in my neighborhood have run out of official signs (or money to buy official signs). Their most recent effort is displayed above in a grainy, shaky phone camera picture shot in artificial black and white to make it look more journalistic.

I elected to liberate this particular sign rather than deface it (as was my initial intention). We’re in the home stretch now, so it’s vital to understand the mind, such as it may be, of one’s enemy. In this spirit of inquiry I showed the sign to my good friend and noted graphologist, Dr H. Xavier J. Prius, PhD, DDS, CPA. His analysis of the lost soul who penned this unfortunate plea is telling.

A partial transcript of our conversation by satellite phone follows:

[static…sound of surf, a mariachi band playing on an AM radio]

Xavier Prius: Prius here, just a minute. Turn that damn thing down, you godless savage, and bring me another of these poisonous concoctions you call a cocktail.

Digitalprimate: Um, Xavier, it’s the Primate. I was wondering if you had a chance to look over that photo I sent you?

XP: What, oh, yes, the photo. Yes indeed.

[the metallic clink of a Zippo…a deep exhale]

DP: Any thoughts?

XP: Well, clearly the poor chap who scrawled this is in bad shape. Bad shape indeed.

DP: Because he supports the Republican ticket or because of something else.

XP: Ah, if only supporting Republicans were his sole problem. Where’s that damn drink? Yes, well, you see it all begins with the “B.”

DP: Um, yes…?

XP: Well, don’t you see? Clearly the author, if we may call him that, has a low IQ with very little capacity for higher reasoning. Probably about as intelligent as precocious eight year old or a well trained boarder collie.

DP: Why on Earth would you say that?

XP: Note how the two semi circles of the “B” close on an upward angle – that’s a sure sign of impaired mental facility.

DP: OK, well, you’re the expert.

Yes, indeed.

DP: I’m curious, though, you keep referring to the sign maker as a “he.” How can you be so certain the writer was male?

XP: [laughs] That’s easy. The thing’s in all capital letters, yet it’s not proportionately spaced as it would be had it been drawn by the hand of the fairer sex.

DP: Isn’t it more likely that the author was just trying to mimic the official printed signs?

XP: Not at all. The author is clearly a man, although that disproportionately tiny top on the “Y” indicates deeply seated gender identification issues.

DP: Yeah…I’m not so sure I see that….

XP: Then you probably also missed the tall, skinny “H’s.”

DP: I noticed there was an “H” in “Bush” and in “Cheney.”

XP: But the meaning, man, the meaning. Clearly these inordinately skinny “H’s” represent an author of particularly rigid thinking. This, combined with the problematic “B” indicates to me that this chap was most likely affiliated with one of the more loony of the Protestant sects.

DP: That sounds like a bit of a stretch to me.

XP: Not at all. It’s elementary graphology; this case is so clear it could be used as a text book example.

DP: Well, all right. What else?

XP: Just a moment…Armando, that drink – now - or I’ll set the modified iguana on you, I swear to the gods.

DP: Everything OK there Xavier?

Yes, all’s well, except it’s always hot as all Hades here.

DP: Where exactly are you anyway?

Never you mind that. Now, the most disturbing aspect of this little snapshot of the heart of darkness is the truncated “C.” Notice how the ends of the letter don’t come down nearly far enough, only suggesting a real “C?”

DP: Not really, it looks normal to me.

Well, perhaps to the untutored eye it looks normal, but to my trained eye it can only indicate a casual, perhaps even sadistic disregard for the welfare of the scribbler’s fellow man. It suggests, I dare say, a capacity for violence, and you’d be well advised to steer clear of this man’s territory.

DP: This is actually a pretty peaceful neighborhood. I doubt anyone here would get physical over a political sign.

XP: I wouldn’t be so certain of that. This wavy, uneven “U” indicates severe sexual dysfunction, and you know even the best of men can get a bit testy when he’s not feeling, shall we say, his best? Eh? And that’s not to mention the elongated bottom curve to the “S,” a sure sign of incontinence.

Well, I appreciate the, uh, insights. I’ll be sure to be more careful next time.

XP: Right, you do that.

DP: Thanks again, and if you need anything, don’t hesitate to contact me.

XP: Now that you mention it, I could use some woolen blankets and a small Tesla coil.

DP: I…I’ll see what I can do.

XP: Very good. Got to run. Nice chatting with you.

[meringue music, surf…static]

Driver Calls Police For Help When Cruise Control Gets Stuck At 120 MPH

Stolen from /. Man, and I thought my suspension was a problem.

Leech found in Salem County may be scientific breakthrough

Baby Jesus in a blender - a footlong leech that lives on land!? Just more evidence that God hates NJ.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Space and Why We Should Go There

Folks were talking about SpaceShipOne winning the Ansari X Prize today in one of the forums I regularly visit, and some one said, essentially, "That's all fine, but why do actual humans need to go into space at all?"

I think the short answer is: because we can.

I often hear people say that the money the government, and by extension, private enterprise puts into manned space exploration could be better spent on Earth or at least on vastly more productive unmanned missions.

There is no shortage of things here on Earth that need money more right now than space flight; there's no denying it. But I think that manned space flight is akin to basic science. A new polymer is just a new and relatively useless polymer until someone discovers it can be used for, say, contact lenses. Applied science always depends upon the basic science that precedes it.

Now, I realize that manned space flight is about the most applied and least basic science one can do. Still, I think that it shares a critical trait with basic science: you don't know what is really out there until you go there yourself, just like you don't really know what these two chemicals will do until you mix them. Our probes and telescopes can tell us many things about the universe far and near, but they cannot substitute for an inquisitive primate on the spot.

Until we have completely immersive telepresence systems and probes capable of doing everything that a human hand can or until we have probes with A.I.s with brains just as fast and imaginations just as sharp as ours, the most basic facts of what it's like for humans to go just around the corner, say to the Moon or Mars or even Europa, will be at best well funded speculation.

Why should humans want to know what it's like to be in space or to visit another planet at all? In part because the only other endeavor humans regularly undertake that has produced as many breakthroughs in materials science, applied mathematics, computer technology or extreme human physiology would be war.

Also, sooner or later (and admittedly, possibly very much later) some of us at least will need to leave this planet. May as well get in the game early.

But most abstractly and I think most importantly, we need to go to space to inspire us here on Earth. Think of the early photographs of Earth from space, how before then no one had ever seen the whole planet without geopolitical lines or symbols standing in for real places and ecosystems. Think of the thrill of being able to do something so completely different, to go to a place - and come back - so alien that even a second's exposure to it would kill you. Think of making and using some of the most sophisticated and advanced technology to do something Just Because We Can. These things inspire us to do more here on Earth and even to see the world, sometimes literally, in a different way.

And, let's admit it: it's about the coolest thing you can do. Well, ok, the second coolest, at least until someone develops hydrogen powered sex toys.

Coffee is Essential to Light Control

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The Agonist | From the Middle of Texas, Where the Center's on the Right

The Agonist | From the Middle of Texas, Where the Center's on the Right: "'People who have been accustomed to stability can't bring themselves to believe what is happening when faced with a revolutionary power, and are therefore ineffective in opposing it." - Henry Kissinger