Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It Can't Happen Here

Yes, I should be starting to pack for Spain, or I should be reading my library book 'Python Programming for Win32', or I should be doing several other things.

Yet, this morning, I curled up on the living room couch, and finished reading "It Can't Happen Here", Sinclair Lewis' 1935 novel of Fascism in America.

The parallels with today are many. Here's a summary.

Lewis' tale commences with the 1936 election - at the time of writing, a future event. Today, the book reads like the Alternate Histories of Harry Turtledove and others.

Very chilling.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

interesting philosophical article...

...about Web site design.

I came across this while doing research on web-development tools using Python (which may be my next big project - anyone out there have any direct experience with this?).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ken and Jeff convicted

Big deal. As someone who worked for Enron, I remembering seeing the Insider Trading reports on Yahoo!, that showed those two, Lou Pai, and the execs of our division continually selling tons of shares, and we had such convincing rationalizations about that activity.

In a way, I see Ken and Jeff as victims of the same hubris that permeated the company. We were the 'New Corporation' - ushering in something so damn innovative that there was no way to compare Enron with old corporations.

As late as mid-August 2001, just a couple of weeks before I was laid off, I remember getting the company-wide email from Kenny, assuring everyone that the company was fundamentally sound, and the stock price would certainly rebound.

Was he deluded or lying? I say deluded.

Were crimes committed? Yes, I believe so, in the use of 'Mark-to-Market' accounting, and in the California energy manipulations.

Will I ever see a penny from the pending class-action suits? Yes, a penny sounds about right.

Am I bitter about my Enron experience? Nope, I worked with spectacularly clever and fun folks (you know who you are), on exciting (if ultimately-meaningless) projects, and I emerged from those years a better programmer than I was when I signed up.

In the meantime, I have a treasure-trove of Enron clothing and assorted motivational chotchkes, that I hope to bundle up and take to 'Antiques Roadshow', in about 20 years.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

a clever thing

Linked to in a casual comment in a blog - amazingly well done.

Truly amazing

Here is Tom Delay's web site, where he urges his supporters to 'get involved' (i.e. send money) to aid his defense.

Note the video prominently presented at the very top: a Stephen Colbert interview with filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Apparently, Delay's team (like the misguided folks who recommended Colbert for the White House Correspondents Dinner) also confuse Colbert's antics with genuine Conservative Media. Hysterical.

You'd think that, after the past couple of weeks, someone would have the sense to modify the Home Page here. Guess not.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Great parody web site

This is hysterical - I laughed and laughed. I suppose there is some danger that some visitors may not understand that it's a clever put-on...

Nah - who could be that stupid? It's clear this is a brilliant fund-raising plan, from someone who is an admitted compulsive gambler. Way to go, Melanie!

The case AGAINST impeachment

From Molly: concentrate on the Congress.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Wake-up Call to all Patriots!

This morning, the Senate voted (63-34) to declare English the official 'national language'. I, for one, am outraged at this shocking act.

I simply can't believe that our leaders would sanction the use of another country's language for us. Everyone knows that our national language is AMERICAN! What were these guys thinking?

Yes, I understand the argument that immigrants ought to learn the majority language in order to assimilate, but, consider this:

Picture the Roman Emperor, say around 450 AD, issuing an Imperial Decree that Latin is the national language of the Empire, while the Visigoths are heading south. My point is that, when it gets to the point where a government has to assert something as fundamental as requiring the people speak one particular language, rather than accede to a threatened change, the demographic reality of change-in-the-air is already present.

The History-challenged among us fail to understand that, excluding the Atlantic Coast, the rest of this continent was occupied by folks who spoke many languages besides English, and, three score and ten years after 1776, the majority language in what is now California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas sure wasn't English!

However, I do take some comfort in the reassurances from Senator James 'Global Warming is the greatest hoax of all time' Imhofe, that this measure is NOT to be construed to be aimed at Spanish speakers.

Spreading Iraqi-like Democracy to Louisiana

Why go all the way to Iraq, when you can have effective crony capitalism right here at home?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nice try, but where were you in 2000?

a confession from a conservative. Woe is us.

Meanwhile, Feingold continues to show that his spinal chord is firmly in place, as opposed to the rest of the Democrats. Go, Russ!

Remember: Gore/Feingold '08. Keep repeating...

Important news about the 'DaVinci Code' movie!!!!!!!!

Ron Howard has always made boring, conventional movies, and it appears he has done so again.

Monday, May 15, 2006

From Steve Soto at 'The Left Coaster'

As you listen (or avoid listening) to Bush pander to his right wing tonight by redirecting 5,000 burned out National Guard troops to patrol the southern border “temporarily”, remember that it was this same president who eliminated nearly 10,000 new border patrol agent positions because there wasn’t enough money after his tax cuts.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Funny or not funny - you decide

I know everybody in the blogosphere will link to Al Gore's SNL bit from last night, but I must do it anyway. Just wonderful, and totally sad.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

get caught up on Wind Power

Here is a concise summary of facts and myths.

At a recent neighborhood meet-and-greet for local candidate Dan Salzman, Dan spoke about his vision of building massive wind-farms in Central Oregon (delivering jobs and associated income to that depressed region, and energy to the still-growing West-side). It was great to hear a politician who gets it, and Dan got my vote (Karen voted for an opponent, for other reasons).

One of the things I found interesting is that, on the question of 'are wind farms ugly', the local folks who have them in their communities sure don't think so - an interesting reversal of the usual not-in-my-backyard syndrome, that affects most big public projects.

Friday, May 12, 2006

More news to come next week

Here's a story about another guy who should not take any rides in a small plane this weekend. Actually, it would be a good idea not to answer the door, either.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Stalinism in Ohio - Must read

Mark Crispin Miller's blog has a story you have got to read. Absolutely chilling.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

does it get any better than this?

Sitting in my back-yard, connecting to my WiFi with the laptop. Listening to birds and enjoying the spring colors.

Not only that, but I am far enough away from the teenage musicians in the basement, that I can barely hear the drumming, strumming, and 'singing'.

Life is good, from time to time.

All the news at your fingertips

The Associated Press has a story about a recently-discovered letter related to the purported possession of Geronimo's skull by the (infamous) Skull and Bones frat at Yale. What I find most interesting is that, in the AP's list of 'some prominent' Bonesmen, John Kerry tops the list, followed by a few vague categories implying well-connected government figures.

You'd think it would be noteworthy to mention that, in addition to Kerry and President Taft (who is frequently in the public consciousness), there is yet another Bonesman who most readers would probably recognize. I'd say you can file this one under 'corporate timidity'.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Thoughts about Watergategate

Yes, that's what Randi Rhodes has dubbed the growing scandal over 'poker parties', hookers (of currently indeterminate gender), Duke Cunningham, Porter Goss, and others.

Here's an angle that one of the bloggers on DailyKos pointed out, that makes sense to me. Forget about the hookers for a minute, and let's concentrate on the poker.

The 'games' were between high-ranking congressional and other government people, and contractors/lobbyists for big defense companies. I'm just guessing that, if I were on the government end of that relationship, and had input into appropriations and contracts that would financially benefit certain companies, I would, on average, finish most poker evenings being a 'big winner'.

I wonder if there is any reporting requirement, for legislators to report money 'earned' at 'poker parties'? None dare call it bribery - yet.

What's amusing is that these folks have already admitted being present at 'poker parties', supposedly to distract us from the sex angle. The possible corruption of these sanctimonious bastards being up to their asses (so to speak) in gay hookers just adds a nice frosting on the cake of their (as yet only implied) financial corruption in dealing with companies with an interest in influencing decisions related to their public role in running the People's business.

In other words, it's no wonder that the major news this week was Patrick Kennedy's substance-abuse problems. I say it's also time for another white girl to disappear.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

How often do you get a chance to amaze a teen-ager?

Dylan was moping and subdued when he got home from school. Didn't really tell me what was wrong. Eventually, Karen found out that he'd misplaced his satchel, containing such things as school books, CD player, favorite CDs, and his cell phone. She did the standard 'where were you when you last remembered holding it?' routine. He did mention going to a local chicken place with a friend, but was absolutely sure it couldn't be there.

He wouldn't eat dinner and headed for his room, to brood in the dark.

Meanwhile, Karen and I had a couple of places to go tonight. While in the car, she called the chicken place on my cell, and, of course, his bag was there. We swung by, picked it up and went home.

I walked upstairs to the room of darkness and sadness. It was one of those moments that make parental life worthwhile, to be able to say to your kid 'here, this will improve your day'.

Josh Marshall nails it

From today's 'Talking Points Memo' blog:

It is with a special anguish that I now read George Packer's New Yorker dispatches on Iraq. But I thought George captured the moral dimension of our current national predicament in one sentence in his piece in this week's Talk of the Town, where he describes the president's strategy as "muddling through the rest of the Bush Presidency, without being forced to admit defeat, until January of 2009, when the war will become a new President's problem."

This really is the issue. Brazen it out, burn off men and money, not admit there's any real problem and then pass it off on the next guy who will take the blame.

The president lacks the courage to change course. The whole country is paralyzed by his cowardice.

Indeed. The dollar is falling, the icecaps melting, and the daily bombings in Iraq are no longer newsworthy. Many of us just want Bush and his people to go away, so that we can begin to clean up his astonishing messes.

But, like the unwanted guest who stays and stays, he sits in our Living Room, night after night, knowing how 'impolite' it is to throw him out.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Haven't written in a few days - between work and various pet emergencies, there has been little time for reflection.

I am still feeling warm and fuzzy over Stephen Colbert's masterful turn at the Washington Correspondents Dinner. If you haven't read the transcript, do so - it's pretty darn wonderful. Common Dreams had it posted on their site.

Starting to plan for the Memorial Day camping trip, with the usual group of friends. We are heading back to Rock Creek reservoir, on the east side of Mt. Hood. It's been a great place for springtime camping - no bugs and low enough elevation to be pretty mild. Our group had several very wet camping trips up the Clackamas a few years ago, and we resolved never to do Memorial Day on the west side again.

Karen has been having a lot of minor health problems lately, and is going to a cardiologist soon. It's some concern, but always better to get an expert opinion.

At the moment, Dylan and his friend Jordan are rattling the foundation, between drums, guitar, and 'vocals'. They are really into the Wall of Sound effect. The animals lie low when the music starts.

I hear Al Gore is in Seattle, doing some advance work on his film, which should go into general release in a couple of weeks. I'll be astonished if he doesn't emerge as the front runner for '08. The bumper-stickers practically write themselves.

So the Mainstream Media today reports that, contrary to the right-wing spin, it turns out to be confirmed that, not only was Valerie Plame actively working undercover, but, as many of us have known for a long time, she was actively involved in monitoring the Iranian nuclear program (until her entire operation was exposed). Pretty soon everyone will dare to call it Treason.

Heard a suggestion on some news program that the dollar may go into total freefall any day now, as China and Saudi Arabia decide their holdings would be safer converted into something else. Not only that, but hurricane season is about to start up again.

Outlook not so good.