Monday, December 15, 2003 Weirdness/ Cult/ Humor
Welcome to the homepage of BloopWatch, where the Mythos meets Reality. This webpage was founded in tribute to H. P. Lovecraft, the Providence-born writer of "weird tales" who has sometimes been called the father of modern horror. The mission of this page is to document ways in which Lovecraft's writings intersect, or seem to intersect, reality.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Wal-Mart Collapses U.S. Cities and Towns
by Richard Freeman

During the last 20 years, Wal-Mart has moved into communities and destroyed them, wiping out stores, slashing the tax base, and turning downtown areas into ghost-towns. This is accomplished through Wal-Mart's policy of paying workers below subsistence wages, and importing goods that have been produced under slave-labor conditions overseas. Often, communities will even give Wal-Mart tax incentives, for the right to be destroyed.

Wal-Mart both reflects, and is, a major driving force for America's deadly implementation of the Imperial Rome model. Unable to produce physical goods to sustain its own existence, the United States, like Rome, sucks in imported goods from around the world, using, in this case, a dollar that is over-valued by 50-60%. America has been transformed from a producer to a consumer society. From the 1940s through the early 1960s, through its technologically-advanced manufacturing-agricultural economy, America produced new value that contributed
to mankind's advancement. Through a "post-industrial society" policy, the bankers have pushed Wal-Mart to the top of the heap, so that it is now the world's largest corporation, with $245.5 billion in sales last year. Wal-Mart,
which produces no value-added whatsoever, dominates the geometry that governs the U.S. consumer society. America consumes goods that others produce, which Wal-Mart markets. Wal-Mart dictates, through its demand for low prices, that its suppliers outsource their production to foreign nations, further ripping down America's battered domestic manufacturing and agricultural capability, in a self-feeding process.

Here, we look at how Wal-Mart has laid waste communities from Iowa to Mississippi, from Ohio to Oklahoma.

Destroying Iowa
Iowa represents the paradigm of Wal-Mart's destruction of a state and its communities. Iowa is a leading agricultural state, with an industrial center in its northeast. In 1983, Wal-Mart opened its first store in the state. Since that time, the number of other retail stores that Wal-Mart has forced to close in Iowa, in communities of
5,000 or fewer people, is immense.

Sam Walton started Wal-Mart in his home town of Bentonville, Arkansas in 1962. At first he concentrated on Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, along with a few other southern states. Beginning in the 1980s, he spread Wal-Mart out as a national chain, shifting from discount stores with 40-70,000 square feet of sales space, to increasingly building Sam's Club and supercenters, which typically have 150-200,000 square feet. The idea was to use its ability to sell a huge volume of goods, its sweat-shop pay to American workers, and its flood of cheap imports, to blow apart any competition. In the October 1996 issue of Wal-Mart Today, an internal company newsletter, Tom Coughlin, executive vice president for operations, summed up the approach: "At Wal-Mart, we make dust. Our competitors eat dust."

In looking at Iowa, we encounter a myth: that when Wal-Mart opened a store in Town A, it may have hurt by a small amount the sales of stores in other towns neighboring Town A-as the people from the other towns went to Wal-Mart to do some of their shopping; but nonetheless, Wal-Mart so increased the volume of sales at its own store and other stores in Town A, that the stores in the overall region experienced significant sales growth and job growth. Wal-Mart hired compliant research and marketing firms to "prove" this point. This is a lie.

We look at what happened to Iowa communities of 5,000 or fewer people. Significant research has been done in this area by Prof. Kenneth Stone of Iowa State University, which we draw upon. Since it is difficult to see what effect occurred after only one or two years, we look at the effects after ten years or longer.

Using sales tax records, Professor Stone compared the change in sales volume at stores located in towns where Wal-Mart opened one of its stores (a "Wal-Mart Town"), and in the neighboring towns where Wal-mart did not open a store ("Neighboring Non Wal-Mart Town"). In cases selected from the study, the sales at Wal-Mart stores themselves are not included, since the focus here is to measure the "Wal-Mart effect": Once Wal-Mart opens a store, what happens to all the other stores in the neighboring communities, in Iowa communities of 5,000 or fewer people?

Figure 1 presents the change in sales volume for Iowa home furnishings stores (furniture stores, major appliance stores, drapery stores, etc.). One year after Wal-Mart opened a store in a town, in the Neighboring Non Wal-Mart
Towns, at home furnishing stores the sales volume collapsed by 14%. People from the Non Wal-Mart Towns travelled to the towns where a Wal-Mart had opened, to purchase a share of their home furnishings at the Wal-Mart store. However, by the tenth year after the Wal-Mart store had opened, in the Neighboring Non Wal-Mart Towns, at home furnishing stores the sales volume had fallen a stunning 31% below the level it had been ten years earlier. A large number of home furnishing stores were forced to close.

In the Wal-Mart Towns, by the tenth year after the Wal-Mart store had opened, the sales volume at home furnishing stores had declined by only 1%. Clearly, the home furnishing stores located at Neighboring Non Wal-Mart Towns, had suffered the brunt of the damage.

Figure 2 presents the change in sales volume for Iowa specialty stores (sporting goods stores, druggists, jewelry stores, card and gift shops, florists, etc.). In the Wal-Mart Towns, by the tenth year after the Wal-Mart
store had opened, the sales volume at specialty stores had plunged by 17%. In the Neighboring Non Wal-Mart Towns, by the tenth year after the Wal-Mart store had opened, the sales volume at specialty stores had tumbled by 28%.

Figure 3 presents the change in sales volume for Iowa apparel stores, showing a 28% decline by the tenth year in both Wal-Mart Towns and Non Wal-Mart Towns. The Wal-Mart Towns had not escaped the Wal-Mart effect.

Thus, Wal-Mart's assertion that the sales by a range of stores in Neighboring Non Wal-Mart Towns would fall by a small amount, and that the sales volume by a range of stores in Wal-Mart Towns would rise significantly, is completely false.

Putting aside this myth, Figure 4 shows the catastrophe caused by the Wal-Mart effect in Iowa, inclusive of towns that did and did not have a Wal-Mart store. The period under consideration is 1983-96, three years longer than the
earlier study, giving three more years of the devastation. By 1996, 13 years after a Wal-Mart had opened in a town, the volume of sales at department stores, which includes Wal-Mart and other large discount chains, rose by 42%. However, since 1983, sales at grocery stores fell by 11%; sales at drug stores fell by 32%; and sales at men's and boys' stores dropped headlong by 59%. Iowa's retail and grocery stores, which form the underpinning of communities, had been ravaged.

Table 1 shows the second phase of the Wal-Mart effect: the closing of stores whose revenues had collapsed. All told, a staggering 7,326 stores closed in Iowa communities of 5,000 or less people (the table covers a ten-year period through 1993; were it to cover the longer period through 1996, the number of store closings would be even greater). The health and vitality of these communities, including employment at rising wages and benefits, the generation of taxes, etc., will not be restored.

Nationwide Blood-Letting
Wal-Mart destroyed other communities and cities. For example:

Toledo, Ohio. Author Al Norman describes the effect of Wal-Mart and Home Depot (another outsourcing chain) on Toledo: "When I went for a walk in downtown Toledo, I passed the old Lamson dry goods store: 9 stories of empty retail space. Each floor is the size of a football field. The building served as the home of a Macy's Department store from 1924 to 1984. For the past fourteen years, the store has been empty. The City now owns it, which means the taxpayers of Toledo are paying the freight for its upkeep."

Nowata, Oklahoma. In 1982, Wal-Mart opened a store on the outskirts of Nowata, a town of 4,000 people. Half of the small businesses in downtown Nowata shut down. Then in 1994, Wal-Mart abruptly closed this store, as well as another in a nearby town, and opened up a supercenter in Bartlesville, which is 30 miles away, leaving Nowata prostrate.

Mississippi. A study found that in small towns in the state, five years after the opening of a Wal-Mart, the dollar volume of grocery store trade had collapsed 17%.

Vermont. In an attempt to stop Wal-Mart from becoming large in the state, various towns passed restrictions that would halt Wal-Mart construction. Wal-Mart built stores in the neighboring New Hampshire and New York, which
sucked business out of Vermont.

Collapsing Tax Revenue
Despite all this, many states and communities are using taxpayers' money to finance subsidies to Wal-Mart, to come in and rape them.

In 1999, it was reported that in Olivette, Missouri, a developer received a tax incentive of up to $38.9 million for a construction project including a Wal-Mart and a Sam's Club-more than a third of the projected total cost of the
project. In 1998, it was reported that the city of Chesterfield, Missouri was supplying $25.5 million in tax incentives toward the construction of a $100 million-plus mall, anchored by a Wal-Mart. In 2001, Ohio approved $10 million in tax credits and other assistance for Wal-Mart to build two distribution centers and an eyeglass-manufacturing facility.

These insane subsidies draw down the public finances. At the same time, Wal-Mart decimates the tax-base through other methods:

* Many stores which, unlike Wal-Mart, did not get tax breaks, are closed.
This causes the loss to many states of sales taxes, and to all states of corporate profit taxes.

* Workers at established stores that have been closed by the Wal-Mart effect, who were paid higher wages than workers at Wal-Mart, have been fired,causing a drop in state income taxes.

* Wal-Mart's outsourcing caused the loss of 1-1.5 million manufacturing production jobs, and thus the taxes that these workers and the manufacturing plants that they worked at, would have paid.

* States and cities often have to finance downtown revitalization programs for the areas devastated by Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart certainly produces a wealth effect: the loss of wealth. Just walk through any community downtown with its empty or boarded-up stores, to see the workings of the Wal-Mart effect.

This article appears in the Nov. 21, 2003 issue of Executive Intelligence
Pretty women scramble men's ability to assess the future Science/ Psychology
Science confirms that men can't think rationally when confronted with a beautiful woman.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

New Scientist: Fear of New Things Shortens Life Science/ Longevity
Animals with an innate phobia of novelty have higher levels of stress hormones after a new experience and die significantly younger than their braver kin, new research has found. The work suggests that a lifetime of fearful stress can take an accumulated toll on health.
Curiosity leads man on trip to Baghdad Politics/ Iraq
Report from Baghdad by member of the Global exchange delegation. He says things are much WORSE than what is being shown on TV.
Give Me Toys Popular Culture/ Toys
Just in time for your Solstice giving! Lovecraft Plush! Dead Parrots! Godzilla Statues! Living Dead Dolls! Killer Bunny Rasbbits! Oh Rapture!

Sunday, December 07, 2003

fimbrethil: Unbelievable Politics/ 9/11/ Fucking Government Incompetance
This person blogs about a letter her husband has received from the National Institute of Standards requesting his aid with their investigation into the collapse of the towers during the attack on the World Trade Center. They are requesting reports from all tenants of the building. Only one problem. He died in the collapse. Are these people complete and utter fools or what? Didn't they even consider crosschecking the tenant list against the casualty list? UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE!!!!
Molly Ivins: The Uncompassionate Conservative Politics/ Ruling Class
Miss Molly on why W seems unable to see the connection between his actions and the damage done by them.

Saturday, December 06, 2003 Popular Culture/ Weirdness
Looking for the perfect place to take the new date you just met over at Check out this great resource. 100's of gross and disgusting bars from all over the world, from Moscow, Russia to Bellefonte, PA. Sure to impress.
Guardian: Christopher Priest's favourite slipstream books Popular Culture/ Science Fiction
Slipstream does not define a category, but suggests an approach, an attitude, an interest or obsession with thinking the unthinkable or doing the undoable. Slipstream can be visionary, unreliable, odd or metaphysical. It's not magical realism: it's a larger concept that contains magical realism. Some familiar recent slipstream examples: Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale, the films Memento or Being John Malkovich, the opera Jerry Springer. Other novelists who have from time to time carried the slipstream torch include Anthony Burgess, Haruki Murakami, Don DeLillo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Banville, John Fowles, Paul Auster and Dino Buzatti.
Ecological Footprint Quiz Politics/ Environment
There are only 4.5 arable acres of land per person in the world. The US average lifestyle usage is 24 acres. Mine is 16 (One advantage to not owning a car) How many arable acres does your lifestyle require?
Making Light: Namarie Sue Popular Culture/ Writing/ Fanfic
Teresa Nielson-Hayden on the art of the Mary Sue. A nice intro to the hidden complexities with many good links. Especially good on the use of Mary Sue-ism as lit-crit. Is "The Left Hand Of Darkness" really a Mary Sue? Who'd have thunk it? The Prince of Darkness in Trouble Again Politics/ Neocons/ Ruling Class
The Grand PooBah Sleeze of All Sleezes among the neocons has outdone himself. His financial chicanery has been so blatant this time that even BushCo might have to act against him. Tsk...Tsk...Tsk...
Cthulhu Chick Tract Popular Culture/ Lovcraftiana/ Humor
A Chick Tract crossed with The Old Ones. It's a Truth that had to be told.
Globalisation: a sceptic's view - Politics/ Globalization
View from Australia of the general cultural failure of globalization.
MSNBC: New tapes on al-Qaida-linked site Politics/ War on Terror
The terrorist group that BushCo forgot (so that they could go after Saddam) has returned with a vengence. Scary footage of a training camp and new views of the 9/11 attacks that prove these guys aren't a bunch of pathetic amateurs. These guys are the main threat.
The New Yorker: The Great Election Grab Politics/ Elections/ Ruling Class
Good article on the use of computers in the Republican gerrymandering effort in Texas and elsewhere. Scary stuff.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Arthur C. Clarke Interviewed Popular Culture/ Science Fiction/ Writers
Clarke on the future of communication, from OneWorld.SouthAsia
BBC - BBC 7 Homepage Popular Culture/ Comedy/ Cult
A BBCinteractive channel webcasting classic BBC Radio comedy, drama, and book intepretations. A spoken word lover's dream. The Goon Show, Dr. Who, Terry Prachett's Wyrd Sisters, Pickwick Papers, 39 Steps and more this month. A real feast.
BBC: Python's Grail hits the stage Popular Culture/ Comedy/ Cult
OH HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! Mike Nichols is planning to bring "The Search for the Holy Grail" to the Broadway, of course, "Spamelot." At last, a reason to think past next year's fearsome elections. A reason to carry on regardless...
Tonight's Computer Written Verse From Poetry CreatOR 2
(and about an hour of editing by the poster...)

On my Harley Davidson I ride
Dear Persephone at my side,
Thanks to plans well thought and laid
For the easy smighting of sweet Hades.

Beginning past our castles dear.
Swiftly diving into lakes of drear
Slowly now appears the sea.
No silk'd ever known arranity,

We're idly watched by distant kin,
So sound of mind, yet not true in.
'Til then I had never been a madman
Made of shiny uncontrolled abandon,

Singing loudly of my soul's contempt,
Of hair brushed dreams I'd sadly dreamt,
Yet how easily did those dreams depart,
When shown the opium den of your heart.

O Love profound, what strange thing are ye?
Clearly now thou doest unnerve me.
Upon fresh bellflowers dripping dew
I cry hard now, the loss is you.

Quickly then, claw doors held closed
Cast in circles--pain exposed
But hope for me no morning dove,
Rather sits here a mourning love.
Christie's:A Roman Glass Gaming Die Popular Culture/ Gaming/ Artifacts
This will sure rev up that 18th level half-orc assassin you've been playing lately.

Circa 2nd Century A.D.
Deep blue-green in color, the large twenty-sided die incised with a distinct symbol on each of its faces 2 1/16 in. (5.2 cm.) wide
Estimate: 4,000 - 6,000 U.S. dollars
Provenance: Acquired by the current owner's father in Egypt in the 1920s.
Lot Notes: Several polyhedra in various materials with similar symbols are known from the Roman period. Modern scholarship has not yet established the game for which these dice were used.
Back to Iraq 3.0 Politics/ Iraq/ Free Speech
Christopher Allbritton is returning to Iraq as an indepedent journalist. This is A VERY GOOD THING. We will have a source we can trust for information on how the war is going. He is looking for donations to help pay his way to Baghdad.
Poetry 180 - Home Page Poetry/ Tools/ Education
Welcome to Poetry 180, a project from Billy Collins, Past Poet Laureate of the US. Poetry can and should be an important part of our daily lives. Poems can inspire and make us think about what it means to be a member of the human race. By just spending a few minutes reading a poem each day, new worlds can be revealed.
Lycos News | No Doubts Global Warming Is Real, U.S. Experts Say Science/ Global Warming
Top US climate scientists say (listen up BushCo) there is no doubt about the human cause of global warming.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Byrd to Block Omnibus Funding Bill ( Politics/ Ruling Class
Once again, the totally surprising Robert Byrd proves why he is becoming known as the conscience of the Senate.
Bravo, Senator! Bravo! - How To Politics/ Protest/ Free Speech
Website promoting the art of freeway blogging, using large signs on overpasses as protest venues. Lots of examples and a decent how-to section. Good Stuff.
RedNova News: Huge Turnout for 'Return of the King' New Zealand Premiere Popular Culture/ Film
Peter Jackson returned home for the triumphant premiere of the third LOTR film.
RedNova News: Oldest Male Fossil Discovered Science/ Paleontology
Well, now there's hard evidence that males have been around for at least 425 million years. Lots of time for us to have gotten into trouble...
PNC Bank - Twelve Days of Christmas Economic Index Popular Culture/ Holidays
Thanks to a swan dive in the price of swans, the 12 Day Index is sharply lower this year.
Wired News: Shedding New Light on Fuel Cells Energy/ Science
This is good news indeed. It means that we may be able to replace our use of oil as a fuel and use a greater part of our remaining oil reserves as material for manufacturing instead.
Locus Online: David Herter on SF Operas Popular Culture/ Science Fiction/ Music
A blending of two of my favorite things, SF and opera. Sadly, the great SF operatic masterpiece has yet to be written.
Taxing The Trekkie - Paying for Space Exploration with Star Trek Politics/ Science
A congressional candidate in Alabama, Michael Williams, has a unique proposal: Create a Science Fiction tax.
Bookselling This Week: The Lion's Share -- Griffin Poetry Prize Pays Big Money Poetry/ Prizes
A nice fat monetary prize for poetry.
Tonight's Computer Written Verse From Poetry CreatOR 2

So, scoff not, thou ticklish fiend
Fetched like this bone,
That the fair dog gripped in his teeth.
Solstice hunted, but did not find thee,
Tossed and turned, his lustful eye useless,
For, as ever, thy beak had taken its toll.

Washinton Post: U.S. military ousts gay linguists Politics/ War on Terror/ Idiocy
The US military has discharged nearly 40 Arabic translaters because it has found out that they were -GASP- gay. So this rabid homophobia serves as a justification for weakening our fight against terroism. Of course, we have so many Arabic speakers in the military already that losing a few shouldn't matter, right? It is to weep.
LATimes: Political Fireworks Possible in 2004 Politics/ 2004 Election/ War on Terror/ Ruling Class
Kevin Phillips on the hidden dangers to the Republicans of having their convention in New York. And the opportunities that a vigorously fought primary season could present to the Democrats
Dean for America: Clean Air Politics/ Environment/ 2004 Election
As an asthma sufferer, I take BushCo's attacks on the Clean Air Act personally. Here is Dr. Dean's position paper on the issue. It's another in a growing list of reasons I will vote for him for President.
Plum Crazy: The Current State of Most Political Debate Politics/ Contemporary Discourse
Lesley at Plum Crazy reminds us that even on the best of days life is merely a Monty Python skit.
Washington Monthly: Armchair Provocateur Politics/ Iraq/ Neocons
Peter Bergen on Laurie Mylroie, the Neocons' favorite conspiracy theorist. She seems to find it easier to believe in the existence of a vast cabal of thousands of bureaucrats in the US government dedicated to protecting Saddam rather than overwhelming evidence showing al Qaida to be a loose organization of independent terrorists.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

NYTimes: U.S. Proposes Easing Rules on Emissions of Mercury Politics/ Environment
In the latest attack on the Clean Air Act, BushCo proposes loosening the standards on mercury emissions from power plants.
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, particularly dangerous to pregnant women, babies and small children.
NYTimes: A Miracle Revisited: Gains in Houston Schools: How Real Are They? Politics/ Education
It has become obvious that the only thing miraculous about the performance of the Houston school system was its ability to teach kids how to take the Texas Achievment Test. Most graduates do no better, many in fact even do worse, than their national counterparts when in college. The kids are scammed on two counts. They are cheated out of an education and they are set up for failure in the real world.
Al-Ahram Weekly | World Domination, Inc. Politics/ Neocons/ Ruling Class
A perspective on BushCo from one of the more 'liberal' Egyptian newspapers. This view is shared by most in the Middle East and many people are even harsher in their rhetoric. It's information I'm certain the Resident is not being given by his news screeners.
Al-Ahram Weekly | Vegetal and mineral memory: The future of books Popular Culture/ Books/ Information Technology
Umberto Eco on the future of the book and why we will always want and need it.
From Altercations, Eric Alterman's blog comes this Reader comment, to which I can only add BRAVO and AMEN.

Correspondents' Corner, if this were still Friday:
Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA
Eric - Because Every Day - even Thanksgiving Day - is Slacker Friday. Part XXIII.
During the extended JFK obsequies last weekend, I had one of those toss-the-remote moments when I heard Gerald Posner explain the stubborn persistence of conspiracy theories concerning the events in Dealey Plaza. It happened when Posner's speculated that conspiracy theories survive because We - you know The People, see Madison, James: The Collected Works - find it hard to believe that a nut with a $12 rifle can take down a major historical figure.

I'm sorry, but this is all bollocks, as my cousins say. It is a perfect statement of the kind of infantilization that is central to our devalued national discourse. You heard the same sort of thing during the extended mishigas in Florida three years ago. 'We' had to short-circuit the constitutional process because 'We' couldn't stand the length of time those processes would have taken. This, despite the fact that the country was doing just fine, and it had a president who, you know, really liked the job and likely would have worked the extra couple of hours it would have taken for Tom DeLay to steal the election in the House, the way the Founders intended. Instead, we had Tim Russert holding our binkies for us while Nino and Silent Clarence threw the Constitution under a bus.

Look at the pathetic doings in Washington this week. The Republicans passed a campaign commercial.There is not a single serious person who believes that the new Medicare feedbag - Subsidies for HMO's and the Democrats couldn't beat that? - will affect no change on any public problem at all. (And I will bet Bill Frist a dead cat that, when the prescription drug benefit is supposed to kick in in ?06, 'budgetary considerations' will call for it to be 'postponed.') It has to do with positioning for the 2004 race, because all 'We' are interested in is the horse race. The Congress passed a myth, a fairy tale, the equivalent of a Sense Of The Senate resolution that Unicorns Shall Be Preserved On All Federal Lands. But we got coverage of The Big Win and The Big Loss.

Bad things are making themselves permanent, and it's time for people to notice. Barney Frank, who does not easily panic, has looked around himself and has seen the 'end of parliamentary democracy' in America. HRC sees it, too. A general says one more bad terrorist episode and we're Pinochet's Chile. Mainstream political journalism is bad kabuki theater at best. We are spoken to like children, and we deserve (and should demand) better. Grow up, the lot of you down there. We're already there, waiting.
TIME: Inside "The Wire" Politics/ War on Terror/ Human Rights
Time reports on the hell that is Guantanamo. A place where attempted suicide is branded "manipulative behavior" by those administering the base, where innocent men who have been sold to the US by Afghan warlords out for the al-Qaida bounty wait years for "a politically propitious moment" to be released, a place in Cuba where the US does all the things to its prisoners that we have accused Castro of doing to his. It makes you proud to be an American. .... Gag......Retch.
Kevin Kelly -- Cool Tools Tools
The founder of the Whole Earth Catalog is back, this time on the web.
Asia Times -Oil on the flames of civilizational war Politics/ War on Terror/ Neocons
A review of a new collection of the work of Franz Rosenzweig, German theologian and teacher of Leo Strauss.

From the review: "The coming millennium will go down in world history as a struggle between Orient and Occident, between the church and Islam, between the Germanic peoples and the Arabs," proclaimed Franz Rosenzweig in 1920. These ominous words appear in a collection of the German-Jewish theologian's writings about Islam, published in Berlin earlier this year. It is the most dangerous book I have read in a generation, for Rosenzweig (1886-1929) considered Islam a pagan "parody", "caricature" and "plagiarism" of Christianity and Judaism.
BBC: Neanderthal 'face' found in Loire Science/ Anthropology/ Art
Object shows that neanderthalers were sophisticated enough to produce 'art.' - Idioms and Sayings Popular Culture/ Language/ Tools
Get your mojo working. Origins and usage of some familiar idioms.
NYTimes: Hack the Vote Politics/ 2004 Election/ Electronic Voting
Paul Krugman on the electronic voting machine scam.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Guardian: Bottom of the barrel Politics/ Environment/ Peak Oil
The imminent and inevitable decline in world oil production is leaving politicians speechless. None of them want to talk about it.
The Village Voice:Dean Looks for New York Love by Kareem Fahim Politics/ 2004 Election
New York is a major battleground for the SuperTuesday primary on March 2.
The Village Voice: Attention, Wal-Mart Voters by Rick Perlstein Politics/ 2004 Election
With jobs running for the border and their bravest coming home dead and wounded from Iraq, are the "red" states really that secure for BushCo? Never underestimate the common sense of the American middle.
Technology News: Public Libraries Use Internet to Sell Old Books, Help Budgets Internet/ Bookselling
Is this the end of the local community booksale? Will used bookstores lose one of their traditional sources of stock and will local donators lose the chance to keep books in their community?

Monday, December 01, 2003

What Kind of Dictator Are You? Politics/ Humor
Ah, that's much better. Another web quiz reveals that I am actually Fidel. Light me up a nice cigar. The truth at last....
Revolutionary Dictator
Revolutionary Dictator - Down with the System!

What Kind of Dictator Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Which Tin-pot Dictator are you? Politics/ Humor
I'm so utterly embarrassed to report that the best I could do was being Tony Blair. I'm terribly sorry, Mom. Don't let Grandad throw me out of the Wobblies. I'll do better next time.

As dictators go, you're kind of pathetic! Instead of military coup or systematic persecution to get power, you just happen to be the head of the only party in the UK that isn't totally worthless! While not very impressive it is none the less effective! You can do whatever the hell you like without any chance of getting voted out of office! People know that the only alternative would have them eating their children if they ever got back into power! However, you still think that you are as loved as you were when you were first elected into power… News flash for you: You're not!

What tin-pot dictator are you? Take the "What Dictator am I?" test at

Bushies v. Downie Politics/ Ruling Class
To the outside world, Post executive editor Leonard Downie is a mild-mannered working stiff who will never be Ben Bradlee. Inside the Bush White House, he's a journo-terrorist. One senior administration official called him "Osama bin Downie" and said the Post was "leading a jihad against the Bush administration."
Once again, the Bushies show that they want to dish it out, but are unable to take it in return.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Guardian Unlimited:Scared of spiders? Take this pillScience/ Medicine/ Psychotherapy
I look upon this report with much skepticism. As a lifelong sufferer of a true phobia (birds, of all the stupid things), a sometime claustrophobe, and a person decidedly uneasy when near the edges of high places, (not to mention dozens of competing and conflicting neurotic tensions), I've tried just about everything in the therapy arsenal to try to get a grip. Now they are telling me I just have to take a pill? We'll see.

Saturday, November 29, 2003 - Death of the Lightbulb Science/ Energy/ Invention
Soon the horribly inefficient lightbulb will be a thing of the past. Imagine lighting a room with 4 watts of power, using a bulb that will last 60 years, and costs about $3.

The Bush II Success Story: A Global Tragedy in the Making Politics/ Ruling Class/ 2004 Election

1. Successfully catered to heavily bankrolled special interests and giant multinational corporations while totally ignoring the needs of working Americans, retirees, and the environment.

2. Successfully squandered the entire stock of worldwide empathy and goodwill that accrued to America following 9/11 by invading Iraq under false pretenses and without the approval of the United Nations.

3. Successfully told all other nations 'you are either with us or against us,' thus reducing the art of American diplomacy to the language and tactics of schoolyard bullies.

4. Successfully avoided his military responsibilities by deserting from the U. S. Air Force, and then used his father's connections to avoid prosecution.

5. Successfully attended over 40 political fundraisers in 2003, but did not attend any of the funerals for the hundreds of U.S. soldiers who lost their lives.

6. Successfully rammed a prescription drug program through Congress that promises to destroy Medicare by providing windfall profits to drug companies, HMOs, and insurance companies, and hardly any benefits for seniors.

7. Successfully presided over more executions than any other governor in America's history.

8. Successfully rammed the USA Patriot Act through an unwary Congress, thus dealing the greatest blow to civil rights ever experienced in America.

9. Successfully expanded the role of the military to spy on Americans, a mission unprecedented in American history.

10. Successfully ignored the statement of General Tommy Franks, the man appointed by Bush II to plan and execute the disastrous American invasion of Iraq, that any future terrorist attacks on the U.S. would lead to the suspension of the U.S. Constitution and military rule in America.

11. Successfully used counterterrorism law to chill free speech and the right to peaceably assemble by directing the FBI to investigate individuals and groups protesting his pre-emptive military doctrine and elective wars.

12. Successfully smears all those who disagree with his new American militarism as unpatriotic.

13. Successfully ordered American reserve units into action in Iraq without upgrading their equipment to the level of protection afforded regular Army units.

14. Successfully parades as a deeply religious Christian, yet he daily ignores Jesus as he pursues war instead of peace.

15.Successfully looted the U.S. Treasury of nearly $3 trillion to provide payoffs to the 1% of Americans who are already wealthy, effectively saddling 99% of us, and future generations, with new debt of $125,000 to $250,000 per person.

16. Successfully labeled his looting of the U.S. Treasury as tax cuts for for everyone. Actually, the zero to $200 in tax relief that low and middle-income groups did receive was more than offset by increases in local property and state taxes, tuition hikes, and increased energy costs, all made necessary to offset Bush II budget cuts and military adventurism. Meanwhile, the average millionaire (Bush II campaign contributors) received payoffs averaging over $90,000.

17. Successfully transfigured the huge federal budget surplus created by Democrats into an endless sea of Republican red ink (deficits).

18. Successfully cut federal funding for the delivery of vital state and local services to disadvantaged and needy people, deviously labeling the cuts as necessary to reduce the Republican-created deficit.

19. Successfully ignored intelligence reports warning that a 9/11-type attack was imminent, and refuses to cooperate with legally constituted commissions that are investigating what really happened on and before 9/11.

20. Successfully avoided responding to the inquiries of the families of the 9/11 victims, calling their unanswered questions unimportant and unnecessary. By and large the mass media, with only rare exceptions, ignores the unanswered questions.

21. Successfully leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent (a felony) to the press, and has refused to cooperate in the continuing criminal investigation of White House personnel to find the leaker.

22. Successfully expanded weapons spending (including vast new funding for the research and development of new nuclear weapons) beyond anything needed for real national security for the sole purpose on enriching family and friends.

23. Successfully ignored the needs of 45 million Americans, mostly women and children, who cannot afford health insurance.

24. Successfully staged a chauffeured landing on an aircraft carrier to announce victory in Iraq, thus falsely portraying himself as a hero when in fact no such victory had obtained.

25. Successfully promised to find bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but failed to deliver on the promises.

26. Successfully protected approximately 20 members of the bin Laden family by secretly spiriting them out of the U.S. the day after 9/11.

27. Successfully stalled an investigation into whether or not NORAD received orders to stand down on or before 9/11.

28. Successfully drafted a Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East, but has instead pursued a policy of war, war, and more war.

29. Successfully told hundreds of lies to the American people.

30. Successfully aided and abetted the consolidation of the mass media so that a few billionaires now control what is euphemistically called America's free press.

31. Successfully created heightened global instability and insecurity by withdrawing America from important longstanding treaty obligations.

32. Successfully encouraged anti-democratic campaign fund-raising and special interest lobbying practices that are really nothing but outright bribery.

33. Successfully waged a continuing war on women by aggressively trying to restrict a woman's right to choose.

34. Successfully waged war on the environment by dismantling sections of landmark environmental legislation including the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

35. Successfully waged a continuing war on working Americans by promoting the export of their jobs overseas and hindering the rights of workers to form unions and receive overtime pay.

36. Successfully waged a continuing war on the elderly and on future generations of Americans with efforts to cripple Medicare and Social Security, and failed to do anything protect employee pension plans from unscrupulous employers.

37. Successfully waged a continuing war against the bedrock American principles that separate church from state by attempting to transform our public schools into houses of worship and funding faith-based organizations with taxpayer dollars.

38. Successfully curtailed the development of cures for major diseases by overly restricting stem cell research.

39. Successfully violated two international laws (The Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the US Army code of war) by ignoring the Iraqi Constitution which forbids the privatization of key state assets and bars foreigners from owning Iraqi firms.

40. Successfully aided and abetted the expansion of the anti-democratic powers of giant multinational corporations, and failed to prosecute gross corporate criminality.

41. Successfully destroyed America's credibility in the United Nations and throughout the world by opting to pursue elective wars, thereby creating conditions favorable for the intensification of terrorism, and removing America from the world's family of nations.

42. Successfully introduced an inept economic program that failed to create a single American job, lowered wage rates, and lost 3 million American jobs.

43. Successfully implemented schemes (phony tax cuts and excessive weapons spending) that served as means to transfer large chunks of our national wealth from working people to the 1% who are already wealthy.

44. Successfully transformed America into the target of choice for ridicule from abroad.

45. Successfully created a Department of Homeland Security to protect Americans from terrorist attacks, but did not provide the funds necessary to do the job.

46. Successfully invaded Iraq without any exit strategy, a catastrophic planning blunder that is now costing hundreds of American lives, thousands of American casualties, thousands of Iraqi lives, and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.

47. Successfully created near total chaos in Afghanistan by installing a puppet regime whose authority is limited to Kabul (the capitol city), allowing the rest of the country to fall into violent anarchy and become the world's # 1 supplier of heroin and safe haven of choice for terrorists.

48. Successfully handed global terrorism victories by failing to destroy al Qaeda and the Taliban, and by curtailing the civil rights of every American. Al Qaeda is regrouping and stronger than ever. The Taliban are regrouping in Afghanistan and positioning themselves to topple the American installed government.

49. Successfully cut funds for veterans' health care and raised eligibility requirements.

50. Successfully reduced hazardous duty compensation for veterans.

51. Successfully created an energy plan that entirely fails to address America's strategic need to become energy independent, while providing substantial tax relief to the full array of Republican-run energy companies. Fortunately, the plan failed to win Congressional approval.

52. Successfully aided and abetted the recall of Governor Gray Davis for the purpose of delivering California in 2004 presidential election.

53. Successfully elevated the sophistication of political rhetoric by calling environmentalists 'green, green, lima beans.'

54. Successfully portrays himself as a Texas rancher when even his wife refers to him as a 'windshield cowboy.'

55. Successfully promotes himself as a self-made rugged individualist when, in fact, his entire education and career was built on the use of his father's name to gain entry into Harvard and Yale and to attract large sums of investment capital.

56. Successfully promised to leave no child behind (educationally speaking), and then delivered nothing but an unfunded mandate that thwarts all efforts to level America's educational playing field.

57. Successfully destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq and then committed hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to rebuilding it; meanwhile, the rebuilding of America's crumbling infrastructure is all but ignored.

58. Successfully created numerous opportunities for Republican-run companies to profit from his disastrous pre-emptive war policy (the invasion of Iraq was based on pre-emption even though Bush knew Iraq posed no threat to the U.S. or its neighbors). An example of Republican war profiteering is Halliburton (Cheney's old company), which charges the U.S. Army in Iraq nearly $2.00 a gallon for gas that they could purchase from Iraqis for five to ten cents a gallon.

58. Successfully but unnecessarily put our troops in harms way in Iraq.

60. Successfully announced a series of false terrorist threats that unnecessarily spread fear and loathing throughout America for the sole purpose of promoting Bush's elective wars and fooling the Americans into thinking their government was hard at work protecting them.

61. Successfully transformed the executive branch of government into an operation more secretive than the CIA and far more threatening than organized crime or any terrorist organization ever could be.,
Chicago Tribune | Rare look at Dean the man Politics/ 2004 Election
A more intimate look at Dean, a candidate who refuses to use the personal for the political.
Critics in Vermont Rally Around Dean ( Politics/ 2004 Election
Many of Dean's staunchist political opponents in Vermont none the less will support him for the Presidency.
GOP pulled no punches in struggle for Medicare bill Politics/ Ruling Class
Even the normally loyal Robert Novak is taken aback by the viciousness of the methods used by the leadership to pass the medicare fraud. Republicans and Republic Politics/ Ruling Class
More on the tactics used by BushCo to win approval of the disgraceful medicare payoff to the pharmo-industry.
spiked: Does al-Qaeda exist? Politics/ War on Terror
Article discusses how the West has cast al-Qaida as a mythical multinational all encompassing centralized organization. In fact it is not even a formal alliance of groups. It is a range of groups united more by commonality of ideology rather than control. And not recognizing this fact makes fighting it so much more difficult
Star-Telegram:Molly Ivins--A Couple of Real Turkeys Politics/ Ruling Class
Molly uses her normal tact to discuss the Medicare bill and the big energy company welfare act.
NYTimes: Scholars of Twang Track All the 'Y'Alls' in Texas Popular Culture/ Regional Speech
Nice article on the regional flavor of Texas dialect.
Moscow Times: Global Eye -- Naked Gun Politics/ Ruling Class/ Civil Liberties
The view from Moscow on the latest Ashcroftian maneuvers against our freedom. Particularly useful to read in light of Putty-Put's recent actions against the oligarchs of Russia.
The Century of the 'Son of a Bitch' Politics/ Ruling Class
Erik Alterman on that prize war criminal, Robert McNamara.
The Spectator: How to scare a US marine Science/ Medicine/ Military
American troops in Liberia refused to take malaria pills, because they feared the side effects more than bullets. How rumor, myth and official indifference led to over half the Marines in Liberia contracting serious cases of malaria.
BBC: Fossil fools: Return to Piltdown Science/ /Frauds & Hoaxes/ Anthropology
Fifty years after being proclaimed a forgery, the Piltdown Man still raises a controversy. Who actually perpetrated the fraud?
Science News: Protein Portal: Enzyme acts as door for the SARS Science/ Emerging Diseases
A protein implicated in hypertension may be the point of attack used by the SARS virus.
Independent: Billionaire Soros stakes fortune on 'matter of life and death' - defeating George Bush Politics/ Iraq/ Ruling Class
George Soros continues to put his money where his mouth is. The world's most leftest billionaire strikes again.
Queens Chronicle: Queens County Democrats Give Nod to Dean for President Politics/ 2004 Election
Howard Dean receives endorsement of the powerful NYC Queens Boro party leaders.
NYTimes: Name That War Politics/ Iraq/ Ruling Class
Nicholas Kristof suggests that part of our problem in Iraq is the lack of a catchy title for the war. His readers respond.
John Holt: Blue Light: Battle for the Sweetgrass Hills Politics/ Environment/ Native Rights
Another bit of the spiritual heart of Native America is targeted for destruction. The reason, why thar's gold in them there hills!
National Post:Killer flu plans call for 'fever hospitals' Science/ Emerging Diseases
Hard on the SARS outbreak, Canada plans for a difficult flu season.
BBC: Fiji's 'extinct' bird flies anew Science/ Endangered Species
The Fijian long legged warbler, thought extinct for over a century, reveals itself to birders cataloging the forrests of Fiji.
BBC News Taleban chief 'seen in Pakistan' Politics/ War on Terror
Interesting. The BBC seems to be able to find information on Mullah Omar. Why can't we?
Guardian: Fiachra Gibbons meets Intermission writer Mark O'Rowe Popular Culture/ Film
The New Big Thing in Irish cinema.
CIA Press Release - Iraq's WMD Programs: Culling Hard Facts from Soft Myths Politics/ Iraq/ WMD
The official response from the CIA to the criticism of US intelligence efforts prior to the start of the war. Most interesting to read in light of the strong efforts by the neocons to lay the blame for the mess at the feet of the CIA.
Looking to Lasers, Microwaves and Anti-Matter for Space Travel Science/ Space
Article on research into advanced space propulsion systems. Most interesting.
Wired 11.12: What Would Jesus Play? Popular Culture/ Gaming
The latest thing, religious fantasy epic rpg computer games. A couple of them don't sound half bad...
BBC News: Europe puts France up for reactor Science/ Energy
The scientific consortium trying to develop fushion power has narrowed its choices of reactor locations to two, France or Japan.

Friday, November 28, 2003 - Public Opinion Online Politics/ Tools
This site collects opinion polls from all over the net. Very Useful.
subversive cross stitch: mind your fingers Weirdness/ Humor
The perfect solstice gift. So many to choose from....
The Universal Translator Assistant Project Popular Culture/ Science Fiction/ Languages
More Galactic languages fun.
The New Galactic Phrasebook Popular Culture/ Star Trek
For your next apperance before the High Council.
Welcome to! Popular Culture/ Humor/ Low Weirdness
Ahh, the joy of fractured English. All you base is ours!
Steve Quayle's World: It's a Blast! Paranoia/ High Weirdness
The mother of all paranoia sites, Steve Quayle tracks everything. Aliens, Mad Cow Disease, missing microbiologists, terrorism, suitcase nukes, unexplained natural phenomena. A modern day Charles Fort with enough scientific information to make his stuff disquieting in extreme. Delightfully full bodied paranoia.
FilmWise Popular Culture/ Film
Quizzes, contests, and trivia about all things filmic. A great time waster.
CBC News: UV light may zap 'sick building' complaints Science/ Environment
'Sick building syndrome' may literally be caused by bacteria.
HTI American Verse Project Poetry/ Tools
The American Verse Project is a collaborative project between the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative (HTI) and the University of Michigan Press. The project is assembling an electronic archive of volumes of American poetry prior to 1920. The full text of each volume of poetry is being converted into digital form with access provided through the WWW. A great resource.
EarthTrends: The Environmental Information Portal Environment/ Tools
Absolutely the best environmental information/statistics site on the web. LOTS of maps and graphs. Just the place to start research on an environmental question.
Guardian Unlimited Mini-turbine brings 'green power for all' Environment/ Daily Living
British firm develops affordable home based wind generation power units. Units cost about $1200 and generate 750 watts of power at 240 volts with as little as 3 mph of wind.
German Propaganda Archive History/ Politics/ Anti-Semitism
An academic archive of the important documents, visual and written, of the Nazis. Most of Goebbels' major articles and speeches are presented here in translation. A scary and dreadful assemblage. Read. Learn. Remember. Never again.
The Simple Living Network Environment/ Daily Living
Tools for reducing your footprint on the Earth.
Oilcrash: We live in the age of exuberance Energy Policy/ Peak Oil
Many links to material on the peak oil scenario. This is the big one folks. The one that's going to change things more than anything else in our lifetimes.
Poetry CreatOR2 -- Java! (Computer Generated Poetry) Poetry/ Humor
Need a quick bit of verse? Feeling uncreative. Use the handy poetry creator. Enter a few words, hit generate, a bit of judicious editing and viola!

Not bad for five minutes work, eh?

The Swift Meow

She progressed,
Eating sharks as snack food,
The purring for each slaying
Briskly done
Like Semper Fi in the eye,
Or Hermes humming to his scale.
Then onward, watching her sweet Jesus cry,
As he tiptoed homeward in the blood,
And her ghost was stifled in its fit of rage,
Just as the brittle leaf has maimed the tree.

Heads whip back when crushed,
Against The Crab Exploded,
Leaving in its wake
A litter of shiny unused subway tokens.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Barnyard Brutalities Popular Culture/ Humor/ Cartoon Violence
HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAH. Delightfully sick.
Gay Bar from electric 6 Politics/ Humor
Rather clever and well done video of The Resident singing a luv anthem to his main squeeze, Tony bLiar.
George W. Bush Speech Generator Politics/ Humor
Write your own speech for The Resident and have him read it to you. Try not have it make too much sense or the realism will be lost.
ONE: A Space Odyssey Popular Culture/ Humor
2001, animated with Legos. What more could you ask for?
NationStates Politics/ Games/ Humor
Found your nation today. You know you can do it better than anyone else. Give it a try. The urge to rule must not be denied.
Scouring the Globe to Give Shoppers an $8.63 Polo Shirt Politics/ Trade/ Wal-Mart
How Wal-Mart's clout makes life more difficult for workers in their suppliers factories.
Howard Dean for President Politics/ 2004 Election
Ted Rall, Green Party stalwart, calls for a Dean presidency and urges all ABBers (Anybody But Bush) to vote Dean.
Molly Ivins: What's that nasty smell? Politics/ Ruling Class
As the stench of corruption grows, BushCo doesn't even try to spray a bit of room deodorant about.
BBC: King's grave mystery may be unearthed Science/ Archaeology/ History
Has Harold II's grave been found at last?
The Uncivil War Politics/ Free Speech
Paul Krugman on the odd "pot calling the kettle black" nature of the recent Republican call decrying all criticism of the Resident as uncivil.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The Atlasphere Weirdness/ Politics/ Popular Culture
Just in case you last ex wasn't selfish enough, try looking here at the new dating service just for followers of Ayn Rand. Frankly, I didn't know that Objectivists even acknowledged needing any relationship other than the ongoing one with themselves.
Scientific American: Does Race Exist? Science/ Health/ Politics
If races are defined as genetically discrete groups, no, race does not exist. But researchers can use some genetic information to group individuals into clusters with medical relevance.
Scientific American: Ink Analysis Smudges Case for Forgery of Vinland Map Science/ History/ Exploration
More on the continuing efforts to authenticate the "Vineland" map.
Food for Thought: A Forget-Me-Not Dietary Supplement? Science/ Health/ Memory
A diet high in choline may clear the middle aged fuzzies.
Penn State trustee and RIAA lawyer denies conflict of interests Popular Culture/ Music/ Law
Ah, the Glory of Old State. The Trustees still have no accountabilty.
Craving more juicy reasons to offer up profound gratitude this T-day? Politics/ Ruling Class
14 reasons to be thankful this year, on Thanksgiving Day. Amen to all that.
Grocery Unions Battle to Stop Invasion of the Giant Stores Politics/ Community Development
WalMart vs. Unions in southern California. Long article on the growing battle.
Boston Globe / Op-ed / Undermining the Rx benefit Politics/ Medicare
More on the repercussions of the badly flawed Medicare drug "benefit." - The Dean You Don't Know Politics/ 2004 election
Howard Dean is not a "tax and spend liberal" no matter how hard his opponents try to tar him with that brush. In fact, his record in Vermont shows him to be a determined fiscal conservative. More power to him. I say.
Some Experts Foresee Revolt by Elderly Over Drug Benefits(NYTimes) Politics/ Medicare
Will retirees scream bloody murder once they realize the fraud Congress has committed in the new drug "benefit" law? Only time will tell.
Student Group Lists Professors It Considers Too Politicized ( Politics/ Ruling Class/ Education
The next step in the free speech war. Don't be too liberal, Mr. Scholar, or you will end up on our little list.
AlterNet: Scheer: For the GOP, Criticism Is Next to Cowardice Politics/ Ruling Class
Once again, the Bushies show their fear of criticism. Ideas with merit stand up to questioning. Only people unsure of the truth of what they are saying react so strongly. Key Component of VICTORY Act Passed Politics/ Ruling Class
Ashcroft tightens the information gathering web another notch. Getting harder to breathe free by the minute.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Historic Tale Construction Kit Weirdness/ Art
Build your own Bayeaux Tapestry. Jolly fun.
The Wrong Bananas by Joel and Alex Veitch Weirdness/ Music
Catchy little tune about the horrors of buying the wrong fruit.
Acme Klein Bottle Science/ Humor
A delightful site. Own your own Klein Stein or the fantabulous Klein Cap. The perfect solstice gift.
With a tip of the old one surface manifold to Frank Gasperik for the listing.
Liberated gnomes are condemned to a life on the shelf Popular Culture/ Weirdness
French police chief gloats as he locks up recaptured garden gnomes who had been thought freed by the Gnome Liberation Front. Politics/ 2004 Election
Nice graphical site full of info and comparisons on the fund raising aspect of the presidential election. Info down to the county level for each candidate and a combined map showing which party has done the best on a county by county level. Also has the same info mapped state by state.
BBC- Doctor Who - Scream of the Shalka - Episode One Popular Culture/ Cult
The first part of the new animated Dr. Who episodes are available on the BBC website. Quite nice, and I say that as one not particularly disposed to seek out The Good Doctor.
NOVA | The Elegant Universe Science/ Cosmology
PBS has made the entire three hours of this wonderful program available for viewing on the web. If you haven't seen it, take the time to do so. It's a great overview of modern particle physics and cosmology.
Investigators pin origin of blackout on FirstEnergy failures Politics/ Energy/
It's official. The cause of the summer blackout is laid squarely at the foot of FirstEnergy, the Ohio based utility that is one of the largest contributors to the Resident's campaign.
A millionaire marcher among the anarchists Politics/ Iraq/ Ruling Class
The Resident was welcomed with open scorn from hundreds of thousands of British citizens, who urged him to return home and clean up the mess he had made in Iraq.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Dual Eligibles and The Drug Benefit Archives Politics/ Health Care
Hope on Appalachia Alumni Association links to two reports discussing the proposed changes in Medicare. As written, the seniors with the most need for help would see their fees escalate. Compassionate Conservatism strikes again.
Public Opinion On Iraq Politics/ Iraq
Hope on Appalachia Alumni Association links to results from a new and damning poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes of public opinion toward the Iraq War. It is not good news for the Resident. Links also to the questionaire used and a discussion on survey methodology. A very useful site.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Computers to Reveal Shakespeare Science/ Linguistics/ Literature
Computers to aid in the study of word patterns and usage.
Gamma-Ray Mystery SolvedScience/ Astronomy
Linked to the collapse of supernovae into black holes.
Strange events on distant Pluto Science/ Astronomy
More exciting events from the outer reaches of the Solar System
Huge rock-ice body circles Sun Science/ Astronomy
Another place discovered for the setting of your Kuiper belt SF novel.
Bush To Veterans - Drop Dead Politics/ Iraq/ Veterans
BushCo continues its relentless attack on the puny rights of those now serving in or with past service to our military. Bush, who will receive a pension of $200,000 a year upon leaving the White House, is trying to lower medical and pension benefits for war veterans. Everything for the Men he has stated. Apparently by this he meant Halliburton execs, not people serving in the Armed Forces.
Get mad - and get even Politics/ Iraq/ Ruling Class
Tony Blair is likely to pay a high price for his support of The Resident Idiot. It's our job to see that The Bush Baby is also put out on the unemployment line come next November.

$28 Million to get DRAFT READY BY JUNE 15, 2005!!

Oh, so there are "no plans" to re-instate the draft? No, there are just EXERCISES and $28 million extra to get the whole Selective Service ready and open for business by June 15, 2005!

Read this official budget carefully and you will see that Bush is gearing up the draft--there is no longer any doubt about it. Selective Service must report to Bush on March 31, 2005, that the system is ready for activation within 75 days. So on June 15, 2005, expect the announcement that the first draft lottery since Vietnam will be held for 20 year-olds.

To put this all into context, the SSS has lain basically dormant for decades and now in the 2004 budget, Bush has added $28 million to get the whole thing ready to fly in 2005. The 4 performance goals below basically make the system ready for activation.

This FY 2004 APP identifies the activities and strategies that will take place during the fiscal year to achieve Agency goals and objectives. It also identifies relevant performance
measurement target goals to be achieved. The performance goals for FY 2004 are:

1. Develop an Area Office Prototype Exercise that will test the Health Care Personnel Delivery System (HCPDS) work flows and support programs.

2. Redefine Agency infrastructure based on a Quinquennial Workload Study.

3. Prepare and conduct an Area Office Prototype Exercise which tests the activation process from SSS Lottery input to the issuance of the first Armed Forces Examination Orders.

4. Ensure 90% of people tested are capable of implementing activation procedures.

5. Ensure that 95% of the predefined readiness objectives are attained and validated during an Area Office Prototype Exercise.

6. Train 90% of assigned State Directors (SDs) and Reserve Force Officers (RFOs) on HCPDS and Timed-Phased Response (TPR) functions and responsibilities.

7. Attain a 92% or greater compliance rate for men 18 through 25 years old.

8. Attain and appoint Registrars in 85% of the Nation’s high schools.

9. Obtain 75% of all registrations electronically.

10. Maintain an average systems change request implementation time of 39 days.

11. Maintain a functional proponent and customer satisfaction level of 87%.

12. Have a telephone call completion rate of 93% or higher.

13. Answer correspondence in less than 10 days.

14. Train 90% of assigned SDs and RFOs on Alternative Service plans and procedures.


An annual report providing the results of the implementation of these performance measures will be submitted by March 31, 2005. This report will address attained versus planned levels of performance, explain unattained target levels, and identify where and how strategies, performance goals, and performance indicators should be changed to ensure that the SSS reaches its strategic and annual goals and objectives.
Bush pulls out of speech to Parliament Politics/ Iraq/ Ruling Class
"Embarrassed" by questions shouted to him by MP's during his speech at the Australian Parliament, The Bush Baby has decided he can't face the questioning he would receive in Britain.
Climate change will allow Scotland to develop wines Science/ Global Warming
Somehow, there's just something fundamentally wrong with the idea of Scottish wines.
Climate change: The human connection Science/ Global Warming
Two new studies strengthen the case for human modification of the climate during the second half of the 20th century.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Racial prejudice makes you stupider, new research finds / Encounters with another race made whites perform worse on cognitive test Science/ Prejudice
This has major implications. I wonder if it holds true for sexist attitudes, homophobes and religion as well?
Perfect math and never surly Economy/ Jobs
First the well paying union manufacturing jobs disapear, now the lowpaying service jobs are going. What's left eBay and blood plasma shops?
Rare Infection Threatens to Spread in Blood Supply Science/ Emerging Diseases
Ahh, a nasty little bit of paranoia for you today, kiddies. Nothing to worry about immediately, this one is rarely fatal during the initial infection. But 30 years or so later your heart and liver literally explode. Happy dreams.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Apple - Trailers - The Triplets Of Belleville Popular Culture/ Movies/ Animation
This just looks wonderful.
Who's who in the Middle East conflict Politics/ Middle East
Having problems keeping things straight without a scorecard? Here's a guide to the 20 odd factions, parties, and governments tangled up in the Palesinian/Israeli morass.
Soldiers battle pay delays, salary errors Politics/ Iraq
One more bit of shabbiness from the government that 'says' the soldiers come first. I'm sure Rumsfeld's checks came on time.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Keeping Watch for Interstellar Computer Viruses Science/ Astronomy
Will the ET's try to take over our keyboards? Lord knows, if they're using Windows XP themselves, they'll be lucky if they don't end up spamming themselves to death.
'Queen of smiles' unleashes wrath on Indian media Politics/ Press Freedom
The Tamil State Prime Minister who took on the press comes out swinging. Other papers In India call her a 'fruitcake." Oh what will she do next?
FBI Documents Explore the Marxist Background of Groucho Popular Culture/ Politics/ Blacklists
Once more, Hoover's Boys defended us against the Marxist threat. Internet/ Music/ News/ Tools
Access to the websites of public radio stations from all over the world. A music and talk radio fan's salvation.
Ancient Maize Genetics Amazing Science/ Genetics
The evolution of corn from a grassy weed to a usable food source was both quick and deliberate, according to a new study from Penn State's plant biology dept.
Nazi Chemical Giant Declares Bankruptcy Politics/ The Holocaust
The infamous Nazi poison-gas manufacturer IG Farben is insolvent, possibly leaving thousands of former forced laborers trying to claim compensation out in the cold.
Bush in the Air National Guard: A True History Politics/ Ruling Class
Since it's the time of year we honor those who have served our country by defending it from external enemies, I thought it would be useful to remind ourselves of the true extent of Resident's role in that defense while in the Texas Air National Guard.
Anti-Iraq war veterans pulled from parade Politics/ Iraq/ Free Speech
Ahh, the land of the free apparently isn't the home of the brave as anti-war vets find out when they are ejected from a Veteran's Day parade in Florida
In a Police State Atmosphere, Fascists Will Rise to the Top Politics/ Ruling Class
Long article detailing AG Ashcroft's lifelong history of ties to racist organizations. Many links.
Relations between journalists and U.S. troops in Iraq sour Politics/ Media/ Iraq
Despite proclaiming official policy to the contrary, in the past two months the military has sharply increased its harassment of journalists in Iraq .
Information Clearing House News Headlines Politics/ Media/
A GREAT source for progressive news. Sign up for their free daily news email.
Bill O'Reilly Says He'd Consider Presidential Run Politics/ Media/ Weirdness
And people on the right are worried about Dr. Dean's temper? Oh the humanity!
Borders Readers United Politics/ Unions
The next big unionization fight will be between the big box retailers and their underpaid, underinsured employees. Since the big boxes operate on a cut staffing costs to the bone, then cut below that basis, it promise to be a bitter battle. This is a link to the blog of the union that is fighting for representation at the Border's home store in Ann Arbor.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Despair, Inc. Humor
One of my favorite internet sites. A work of near genius. I'm usually in helpless laughter within minutes, no matter how often I visit it.
Berklee Shares: free music lessons, mp3, quicktime and pdf files download Popular Culture/ Music/ Tools
A great idea: free lessons from a great music school. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Why America is losing the intelligence war Politics/ War on Terror
Essay on the "tragic flaw" in the American character that makes winning the intelligence war against terrorists so much more difficult. Quite insightful, and to the point.
Row over Bush security as Blair defends visit Politics/ Iraq/ Ruling Class
The Mayor of London has made it clear to his police chief that he wants no interference with the exercise of free speech during W's London visit. The Americans have made it clear that all demonstrations are to be kept at maximum distance, perhaps in Moscow or Capetown. Who will prevail?
Ex-dictator faces poll oblivion Politics/ Dictators
Wee, at least something went right in the world this week.
Faux Hunting In Pennsylvania Politics/ Environment
New proposal would ok fox hunting (complete with hounds) on private preserves in Pennsylvania. What's next, a PA upperclass twit of the year competition?
'Fagging' for Charles? Politics/ Ruling Class
Did he or didn't he? Only his valet knows for sure.
And, frankly, why should it matter to the rest of us, anyway?
Howard Dean Rises Again Politics/ 2004 Election
Confederate flag flap or not, many African American leaders see Dr. Dean as a strong candidate on their issues and are urging him to form an alliance between their concerns and the concerns of poor white Southerners.
Support the Troops Politics/ Iraq/ Neocon Lies
Paul Krugman discusses the 'truth' behind the Bushies' pledge to improve the lives of Amerca's Armed Services and their families.
Libby Brooks talks to John Simpson Politics/ Iraq/ Media
'I feel guilty to be alive'
The Iraq conflict was John Simpson's 34th war and, thanks to the American bomb that killed his translator, it was nearly his last.
US wants ban on protests during Bush visit Politics/ Iraq/ Ruling Class
Another country's citizens see their right to peaceably assemble denied so that Our Dear Leader won't be seen in the same TV frame as the protestors, thereby saving his image of being universally loved.
UK cuts rainforest funding to meet Iraq costs Politics/ Iraq
Another hidden cost of the war is revealed.
Families of Iraq war dead condemn Bush visit to UK Politics/ Iraq
Anti-war groups plan protests in London, which have contributed to a decision by Downing Street to cancel plans for the (P)Resident to address both Houses of Parliament.

Hey, that's not fair. We had to listen to that fatuous idiot Tony Blair speak before Congress. They should have to listen to our fatuous idiot mumble before Parliament as well.
Soros's Deep Pockets vs. Bush Politics/ 2004 Election
Nyah, Nyah! Our Billionaire can beat your Billionaire!
Al-Qaida threatens more attacks Politics/ War on Terror
Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the attacks in Riyadh and warned "those 'who work and live with Americans', adding that 'their killing was permitted' according to religious edicts."

Frist Freezes Senate Probe of Prewar Iraq Data Politics/ Iraq/ Intelligence
Looks like the Republicans really do intend to take their ball and go home.
In the midst of war, key family benefits face cuts Politics/ Ruling Class
Once again, Rummie is trying to pay for the growing cost of the Iraq War by cutting the pitiful benefits given the families of service personal. Have they no shame at all? And I'll lay odds he's still riding around in a DOD limo.
The 25 of the most provocative questions facing science Science
Science Times ask the what are the 25 most provocative questions?
Back In The Day Calculator Weirdness/Internet/ Humor
Select the year you were born, press submit, and via computers on the "internet" we will tell you your own individual time frame for "back in the day".

Monday, November 10, 2003

The Gematriculator Weirdness/Internet
Determine the level of good or evil inherent in a website by textual numerology. The Daily Blatt sadly proved too complex for this little engine to parse, but it determined that our sister rantblog, Ruptured Spleen, is 45% evil. A bit light, if you ask us.
U.S.-Appointed Iraqi Council Leader Killed Politics/ Iraq
God, are we starting to shoot the 'collaborators' ourselves now? Is this just some new way to save time?
Why A Duck? Popular Culture/ Humor
A GREAT website about my favorite Marxists. Hail Freedonia! Politics/ Low Intensity Warfare
Good explanation of weapons being used by "insurgents" in Iraq and elseware
Liberal views force soldier out of military Politics/ Dissent/ Ruling Class
Heaven forfend that the Dear Leader should be questioned. String this guy up by his toes. Flog him!
St. Reagan's Song, a political song parody about the Ronald Reagan movie, CBS, and rightwingers, Politics/ Ruling Class/ Humor
Hah, I say! Hah!
Alternatives to Iraqi Council Eyed Politics/ Iraq
The Bushies' pet Iraqis on the Ruling Council aren't turning out to be as useful as planned.
Cheney expanding even faster than the economy! Politics/ Ruling Class/ Humor
Creates 20,000 Jobs for Halliburton in Last Quarter
Bush's Politics of Fear Politics/ Ruling Class/ Paranoia
Bush's use of fear as a tactical political weapon is enough to take the fun out of Paranoia.
Southern White Male Democrats, Where Ya At? Politics/ Democrats
This piece asks a good question, where have all the white Democrats in the south gone? And if you are one, why don't you say so?
Business improvement districts don’t fit our ordinary categories Politics/ Downtowns
Where do BID's belong on the public/private spectrum?
Biosecurity & Bioterrorism Science/ War on Terror/ Paranoia
Another useful online journal, full of paranoia inducing information.
Emerging Infectious Diseases Science/ Medicine/ Paranoia
The online archive of the CDC's journal on new infectious dieases. A marvelous source of both usable information and paranoia.
Four Popular Diets Equally Effective for Weight Loss Science/ Health
Results indicate that any of the major plans can yield good results. Since the issue becomes your ability to stick to a diet for a sufficient period, the best indicator of success would seem to be picking the diet which you "like" the most.
Vast digital health archive opens Science/ Medicine/ Tools
The entire run of the medical journal Lancet is now available online.