on politics, privacy, parenting, and the planet.
Everything I need to know, I will learn from my children. r.b.
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Wednesday, April 30Privacy
Seeing the Forest has seen seen the forest for the trees here --- Republicans have a problem with your privacy!
Has the U.S. become Iraq? The Patriot Act in action sure makes me wonder. A dinner out becomes the subject of a raid.
I found this link via Atrios.
What is your footprint? Find out.
Tuesday, April 29NY Times
The New York Times archives are now fee based, after 7 days. Consequently, any links from this site to NYTimes articles that are older than seven days are guaranteed not to work. Therefore, in the future, when referring to any NY Times material I will continue to link to the NY Times, but I will consciously attempt to copy the most relevant text to this site so that it is available in the Byrd's Brain archives.
State of Denial
The Sacramento Bee had an excellent special environmental section in the Sunday paper, this past weekend. The title, "State of Denial", refers to the fact that California has some of the nation's toughest environmental laws, but that its consumption patterns have devastating impacts throughout the world. I will mention parts of the special section here, but you really should read the entire expose.
The starting point for the articles is the environmental footprint that I have mentioned at least twice before on this site. If you haven't already, please go here and find out how many acres it takes to support your lifestyle. It takes 14 acres to support my lifestyle. I was disappointed that the number was so high. However, the average American needs 24 acres to support them! That is the second highest requirement of any nation. Only the Untied Arab Emirates exceeded that with 25 acres per person.
The articles discuss the environmental impacts of oil drilling in Ecuador, logging in the Boreal forests in Canada and overfishing the seas.
On oil drilling in Ecuador:
In Ecuador, the hardest-hit area is a riot of vegetation and swift-moving streams east of the Andes: the Ecuadorean Amazon. Flanked by Colombia to the north and Peru to the south and east, Ecuador's Amazon is surprisingly rich in petroleum. It also is part of a forest ecosystem second in size only to the boreal forest, which circles the globe across Canada, Alaska, Russia and Scandinavia.Picture that next time you fill your car's -- or SUV's -- gas tank. How come we never heard about this river of fire? Did the media think that this news would disturb us? It disturbs me. Where were the embedded reporters?
• Studies point to a link between oil extraction and skin rashes, miscarriages, even cancer. "The level of petroleum in the rivers, on which local residents depend, is 200 to 300 times higher than the limits set for human consumption," said Miguel San Sebastian, an Ecuadorean physician and co-author of the most recent study of petroleum's impact on the health of Ecuador's people.
On logging in the Boreal:
[Canada is a]nation where up to 90 percent is harvested through clear-cutting - the controversial mowing down of entire stands of forest - and where two-thirds of the cutting occurs in old-growth stands. And it is buying wood from a country where logging is moving more deeply into one of the planet's most important ecosystems: the boreal forest.And fortunatley, not all the news is gloomy...On Harvesting the Sea:
A decade ago, hunger for North Atlantic cod - its fillets white and flaky like rockfish - helped propel one of the most dramatic episodes of overfishing ever off the coasts of Newfoundland and New England. Some fear the same kind of market forces could one day deplete British Columbia's rockfish.
For a map of the world's comparative uses of resources go here -- global use of resources.bmp
Monday, April 28He's Smarter than Bush
and much much younger.
13-year-old Gregory Robert Smith will receive his bachelor's degree in mathematics May 31 from Randolph-Macon College, a private Methodist school 15 miles north of Richmond Virginia. (When I went to college in Virginia, this was a Women's college, I guess that that has changed.) Greg, who was elected Phi Beta Kappa, is graduating cum laude. Greg travels the world working for education and peace.
"When I was very young," Greg says in one videotaped speech, drawing laughter from the crowd of about 11,000. He waits for silence and begins again: "When I was very young and witnessed the video accounts of children suffering from disease or malnutrition, separated from their families or subjected to violence, I knew I had to act. I was just 7 years old then, but I was certain that there must be a way that I could make a difference."BushCo could learn a lot from this kid.
Another Ideologue for the Courts. According to this (password/id:"rbyrd") New York Times editorial, it seems likely that Jeffrey Sutton, a nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, will be confirmed by the Senate this week. He fits the Bush administration's plan for a right wing ideological takeover of the courts. When will the Democrats wake up? When you see everything that you believe in being destroyed shouldn't you fight for it? This should be the Senate of filibusters. The replicants certainly had no problems delaying democratic nominees.
It never stops. New health risks from man made pollutants emerge almost daily. Now pregnant women in the U.S. are being advised to be cautious about winter lettuce -- lettuce grown from November to March. Most of that lettuce is grown in California's Imperial County and Arizona's Yuba County. The irrigation water for this produce comes from the Colorado river. Sadly, the Colorado River has long been suspected of being contaminated by underground plumes of perchlorate from industrial and military sites. Perchlorate is the explosive ingredient in rocket fuel. An environmental group has tested samples of this lettuce in and found that it contained potentially high levels of perchlorate. The chemical can disrupt activity of the thyroid gland, which in a pregnant woman could upset delicate hormone levels crucial for normal development of the fetus. In addition, exposure in children could theoretically cause deficits in brain function and motor skills. It isn't even safe to be a vegetarian these days. An organic label on the lettuce wouldn't save anybody from perchlorate in the irrigation water. Clearly, the only solution is to reduce our use of toxics and to actively clean up known contaminations. These both are two things that BushCo is loathe to do. They both cost industry money. And we can't do that can we? Maybe the corporations will use the money from additional tax breaks to help clean up the environment. Why do I doubt that?
Sunday, April 27The real issue
It is early, I've been sitting up with the baby.....
The real issue for me this morning relates to civility. There are no simple answers, but whatever happened to respect and consideration? When was the last time that a stranger said "please" or "thank you" to you"? When was the last time that you said "please" or "thank you". When I was a kid these were taught as being the magic words. These words greased the wheels of civil society. These simple words connote respect for and consideration of other people. I don't hear these words very often. On a personal level, my pet peeve is when you hold a door open for someone and that person struts on through without any acknowledgement of your existence. Is it so difficult to make eye contact and say "thank you?" Are we all afraid? Whatever the root cause we certainly have have become less civil.
Pay for Performance
In the U.S. last year, despite massive layoffs, CEO earnings were up 10% over the previous year. What is wrong with this picture? Could viable corporate reform ever happen in the U.S.? In Britain they are getting set to address CEO greed by limiting the amounts that CEO's of failing coompnies can earn.
Friday, April 25Wrong Reasons
The U.S. invaded Iraq for all of the wrong reasons and the negative ramifications of the U.S. show of power will be felt for years, but when you read stories like this and this (password/id: "rbyrd") you can't help but be glad that that bastard Saddam is out of power.
Now, despite the "excellent" U.S. intelligence to the contrary, there don't seem to be any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Now the real reason for the war is coming to light. (Not that those of us who were opposed to the war ever bought the WMD mantras.) It seems that the U.S. invaded Iraq, a nation with a paper military that collapsed on contact, in order to show the world how big and mighty it is. Iraqi's were killed so that BushCo could thump its collective chest. Kind of makes you feel good to be an American, huh?
Thursday, April 24Surveillance
They are everywhere. They've been popping up like mushrooms over the past few years. Look around you when you enter or leave a building. Do you see the cameras? How many are there? Drive into a parking garage. Do you see the cameras? How many are there? Drive to a shopping mall. Do you see the cameras aimed at the parking lot? When you go into a store look for the half dome shapes on the ceiling. Those are cameras. In a department store, those half domes may be spaced every 10 or 20 feet. There may be dozens on any floor, in any one store. Everywhere you go you are recorded.
You expect to be watched when you go to a bank. You probably realize that there are cameras mounted at every ATM. You now expect to be watched at the airport. But have you realized how common video surveillance has become? As an experiment try counting the number of surveillance cameras that you see on any given day. Look for the cameras mounted on traffic signals. Your image is being recorded along with the date and time of the shot.
You say that you have nothing to hide and that this surveillance doesn't matter. Fair enough, most of us don't have anything to hide, but do we still want our movements recorded?
As this article (password/id: "rbyrd") explains, the age of recording images on video tape is long past. These images are now stored on hard drives. These digital images are easily reviewed and accessed. Using digitized images also allows for the use of biometric information. Your face can be matched to a database of faces of known terrorists or criminals or perhaps, suspected terrorists or suspected criminals. You may be barred from boarding a plane or entering a sports stadium if there is a match. At this stage, biometrics is in its infancy, there are many false positives.
In addition, this electronic data can be easily transferred and shared. Theoretically, a person with access to numerous private and/or public surveillance databases could recreate where someone has gone on a given day. You may not care if the bank knows when you withdrew money from a specific ATM or whether MACY's has video of you shopping or whether Burger King has video of you eating at one of its franchises. But would you care if someone had video of you at the bank, at MACY'S and at Burger King? Would it make you uncomfortable if someone, John Ashcroft for instance, had video of your comings and goings throughout any given day? Would it make you more uncomfortable if they also had video from the bars that you went to and if they knew how long you were there? Or what if there was video of your visit to an adult bookstore? Do you want someone to know all of this about you? Again, you probably don't have anything to hide.
In a free society we expect to be exactly that, "free". Free from interference. Free to generally do as we please. If we have the feeling or the knowledge that we are being watched, are we truly free? Would you go into that gay bar or adult bookstore if you knew that you could be identified? Would you choose instead to go to a different bar and a more acceptable bookstore? Would the knowledge of the surveillance cause you to moderate your behavior? If so, then you aren't free.
Our understanding of privacy has evolved. Much of what passes for "privacy" is really "anonymity". Much of what we do is not really private -- the adult bookstore salesperson sees us, for instance -- but for the most part our shopping is "anonymous". The adult bookstore salesperson may handle a sale for us, but they need not know who we are. We could pay with cash. We don't shop in private, but we can shop anonymously. Electronic surveillance takes away that anonymity. Every credit card transaction is recorded and is ripe for datamining.
Privacy must now be understood as an expectation of a limit on the degree of accessibility of information. We may feel anonymous as long as the numerous video images of us are not connected. But once these images are connected -- and they are increasingly connected as these functions are handled by security firms and not the individual stores -- we have lost our anonymity. Increasingly, we are losing our right to privacy. Count those cameras.
Wednesday, April 23way to go Bruce
Bruce Springsteen defends the Dixie Chicks in a statement published on his website.
BushCo folks are expressing surprise at the strength of the Iraqi Shiites. BushCo is surprised that it is possible that an anti U.S. fundamentalist government could be created in Iraq. BushCo can only be surprised because the administration didn't listen to anyone who voiced a hint of dissent. It doesn't do any good to say "we told you so". But you can't help but feel that a little, despite the overwhelming feelings of despair.
As Iraqi Shiite demands for a dominant role in Iraq's future mount, Bush administration officials say they underestimated the Shiites' organizational strength and are unprepared to prevent the rise of an anti-American, Islamic fundamentalist government in the country.(Here is the whole story.)
Tuesday, April 22Kid Prisoners
Someone said that the U.S. wouldn't do this. Someone said that the U.S. would treat children differently. But the U.S. is doing it. Children under the age of 16 are imprisoned at camp Xray in Cuba.
Peanuts compared to my wife's Amaxon.com credit, but twice what BushCo spent getting "elected" the first time around. BushCo plans to spend $200 million campaigning prior to the Republican convention in 2004. This is campaigning like we have never seen before. This money will be spent during the campaign when BushCo has no opposition. It is intended to highlight BushCo while the democratic nominee hasn't been chosen. In this way BushCo is intended to stand out from the inevitable democratic horse race. In addition, the Republican convention will be a full month later than he Democratic convention. Federal spending limits of $75 million take effect between the nominating convention and the election. By delaying the convention itself, BushCo is able to spend more money than any democratic candidate.
In addition, the Republican convention will be in New York City in early September. BushCo will certainly highlight that fact. Then on September 11th BushCo will focus on the memorials in new York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. This way BushCo hopes to dominate the airways in September. It will be free airtime. If this Republican strategy works, then the only time that the Democratic nominee will get any airtime will be in October. At that time the Republicans will spend the $75 million election funds and attempt to drown out the Democratic nominee. This is a bold and smart strategy. This is Karl Rove at his finest. Fox of course will play along with the entire plan. The other networks may play along too since that will be the easiest "news" course to follow.
The democrats had better get their ducks in a row quickly. Or else we will all be hailing, "Emperor Bush."
The good news is that the republicans could still trip themselves up on their own rhetoric and xenophobia. For example, many of BushCo's advisers see Senator Kerry, as the most likely Democratic nominee. One Bush adviser allegedly said that Kerry, "Looks French." As if that would be a reason not to vote for him. If the voters are that simplistic in 2004 then the U.S. is really in trouble. (Read the whole story here. "rbyrd")
I don't have one of those Amazon wishlists or donation accounts, but you might think that my wife did or that she had made some incredible purchases. She called to tell she had a $1,202,590,819.32 credit in her Amaxon.com account. That's right $1,202,590,819.32! Do you want us to buy you anything? Do they real estate on Amazon? My wife telephoned Amazon.com customer service to tell them about this amazing credit. The customer service representative was nonplussed. She merely stated that that happens sometimes, it is a "computer glitch". Some glitch. The amount is still listed as a credit. This apparently has happened to other accounts too. I wonder if anyone ever spends down their computer glitch credit?
Today is Earth Day. (Forgive me, but I feel preachy today.)
It may not mean much to you, but it is important to me. I remember when Earth Day was first celebrated. In the '70's the environment seemed like one of those things that we could protect. The '70's were a time full of hope and infinite possibilities. Decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels, driving more efficient cars, using fewer toxics and increasing our reliance on alternative fuels didn't seem like a pipe dream. However, under BushCo each of these goals seems further and further away every day.
Instead of Gore, who would have been our most environmental president, we have BushCo. The most corporate, most anti-environmental president that I can imagine. And he is succeeding swiftly with his pro business policies. National forests have been opened to extensive logging, ANWR may be opened to drilling, mountaintop mining rights are being expanded, air and water pollution standards are being relaxed, fuel economy has not improved in years and PVC's are still in some toys -- to name but a few of the setbacks. It seems that for every step forward that the U.S. has taken in the past decade BushCo has been able to take the U.S. two steps back in just a couple of years.
It is necessary for each of us to take stock of where we live and what we are doing, or by our passivity, allowing to be done to our home -- Planet Earth. All too often in our busy lives we don't realize where we live. Sure we know that we live in a house in a city and that we go to work in a tall building. But that isn't what I mean. Do you know what plants are native to where you live? Do you know where the water that you drink comes from? Do you know what existed where you live before your house was built? We are stewards of the earth. We must preserve the earth for the next generation. (Okay I have been preachy enough.)
The first step to protecting the earth is knowing the impact that each of us has on the earth. We that knowledge we can act to reduce our impact.
Measure your Ecological Footprint. Learn how many acres it takes to support your lifestyle. (I think that we are fairly frugal and conscious about the resources that we use, but my family needs 15 acres to support us. We'll learn to do better.)
Sunday, April 20Train Wreck
It is late in the day and you may have read this already, but if you haven't you must read today's New York times editorial. Here are the first few paragraphs:
While President Bush pursues the fight against terrorism and the military effort in Iraq, he's also staging a new battle on the home front for his domestic programs. Last week he began by stumping the country for his tax cut plan, a cornerstone of his presidential ambitions. Mr. Bush's successful prosecution of the war in Iraq does not mean that Americans must now fall in line behind his misguided domestic agenda. On almost every front, it is a disaster, a national train wreck that must be headed off for the country's well-being.Go here to read the rest. (password/id "rbyrd").
(Self-serving note: Before you go, check the box on the left to open links in new windows so that you can get back here easily to read more Byrd's Brain!)
Friday, April 18Civilians face health risk after latest use of depleted uranium
Hundreds of tons of depleted uranium used by Britain and the United States in Iraq should be removed to protect the civilian population, said the Royal Society, Britain's premier scientific institution, contradicting Pentagon claims that its removal was not necessary. What harm is a little uranium in your playground? It is depleted after all.
this isn't how I define "honor"
According to Pakistan's main human rights body, at least 461 women were killed by their family members in "honor killings" in 2002.
Organic Victory is Personal
My wife and I were lacto ovo vegetarians until a year ago. At that time our daughter wasn't eating much of what we offered her. Tofu and most faux meats (tofu again) weren't very interesting to her. But she needed protein from a nondairy source, so we decided to try adding chicken to our diet. Fortunately, from a parents' perspective (or unfortunately from a vegetarian's perspective) our daughter took to "chicken meat" like a duck to water. We are concerned about the hormones (which I believe are the cause for the increasingly early onset of puberty in girls) and antibiotics (which are leading to drug resistant diseases, such as the growing recurrence of tuberculosis) that are in commercial meat products and the effect that they might have on our daughter's health. Therefore, she only eats organic (hormone and antibiotic free) chicken. Many of the reasons that I become a vegetarian have to do with the ecological effects and health impacts of factory farming, so this compromise, eating organic chicken, isn't too far a stretch for me.
We were concerned though, in February, when we read about a particular rider had been added to a budget bill. That rider was written for the benefit of a specific Georgia poultry farm. The legislation would have allowed farmers to label meat and dairy products as organic without using 100 percent organic feed if the price of organic feed was more than twice that of conventional feed. The only policy behind this arrogant legislation was to save money. It would have destroyed the true organic poultry market.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, were among the leaders of a bipartisan effort to repeal this rider (Section 771) by amending a supplemental spending bill. BushCo signed the repeal Wednesday.
Once again "organic" means "organic". (Read the whole story here.)
P.S. If our 7 month old son continues with his current habits we won't have any problems getting him to eat, once he has teeth. Right now he will eat anything that we offer him.
Thursday, April 17Fear Controls
A fearful people lose their ability for critical thinking.
"We are busy trying to educate people, but the worried mind doesn't always hear."
This certainly explains the bizarre post Iraq invasion support for BushCo.
Wednesday, April 16A Most Different View
The staff at the hospital where Jessica Lynch was treated have a distinctly different view of the events surrounding her rescue. The U.S. does not come off very well in this version of the rescue. According to the account, the soldiers terrorized the staff.
THE rescue of Private Jessica Lynch, which inspired America during one of the most difficult periods of the war, was not the heroic Hollywood story told by the US military, but a staged operation that terrified patients and victimised the doctors who had struggled to save her life, according to Iraqi witnesses.(Read the whole story -- TimesOnLine "rbyrd")
the fall of France
Afghanistan,Iraq, Syria, Iran and then France....
The fall of France was astonishingly swift. After regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, it was only a matter of time before Tony Blair and George W. Bush said that they had “no plans” to attack France. The detested Jacques Chirac had long been a thorn in their sides. He was a past friend of Saddam Hussein, welcomed Arab exiles and had a suspiciously large Muslim population. Above all, he refused point-blank to disband his force de frappe weapons of mass destruction. As Donald Rumsfeld had said back in 2003: “Things mean consequences.” France posed a clear and immediate threat. The coalition acted in pre-emptive self-defence. It was a pity about the Louvre.(For the whole story -- TimesOnLine "rbyrd")
Coming to a health club near you?
Do you punish yourself if you don't meet your exercise goals? Go easier on yourself, let someone else punish you. No pain, no gain! Slavercise.
My wife and I have had cell phones for 6 years. Somehow they have became an indispensable accessory to our lives. We have used three different wireless companies and may change carriers again when our current contract expires. We have chosen carriers based on the company's coverage in our area and price. Like everyone else, we want to pay as little as possible and we don't want calls dropped. Each time that we have changed wireless carriers we have had to get new phone numbers. This has been a nuisance. With landline phones we expect to have the same phone number for the foreseeable future and maybe to "take it" with us if we move locally.
Since 1996 the The Federal Communications Commission has sought to encourage competition by letting cellphone users move the same number from one wireless network to another. This "portability" rule has been delayed 3 times due to objections from the wireless industry. The industry realizes that there is very little brand loyalty. For the most part, each of us will try to use the cheapest carrier with the best service. If we can keep our phone numbers when we switch there will be much less hassle to the transition. Clearly, the FCC portability rule is consumer friendly. It will encourage price and service competition by removing the primary obstacle to changing carriers. In its latest salvo to stop this rule the wireless companies have taken the FCC to court. An opinion is expected from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia within 45 to 60 days. If the authority of the FCC to issue the rule is upheld by the court -- and no other delay tactic is tried -- then come November we will be able to take our cell phone numbers with us when we switch carriers. Consumers may actually win one here. (Full story, NY Times passord/id:rbyrd.)
The final frontier for plastic surgery -- Hand Work. You've had everything else altered, but your hands give you away. Now for just a couple thousand dollars you can get plastic surgery for your hands.
Five ways to take years off your hands.
Tuesday, April 15War Distraction
I have said it before (and here) and I'll say it again -- the war is a distraction. It turns our focus to the war and away from Osama, the economy and domestic politics. And as Paul Krugman (password/id:rbyrd) points out, the distraction is very effective.
But back to the amazing spectacle of the war's opening, when the House voted to cut the benefits of the men and women it praised a few minutes earlier. What that scene demonstrated was the belief of the Republican leadership that if it wraps itself in the flag, and denounces critics as unpatriotic, it can get away with just about anything. And the scary thing is that this belief may be justified.Let's not all be "good patriots".
Monday, April 14Chicken Parts
People need to know where their food comes from. People need to know how animals are treated. Factory farming is cold, cruel and merciless. All that matters is the profit margin. The care of the animals being bred is secondary, if it is considered at all. How else to explain this! I eat eggs. There an effect to everything. Gross me out.
We knew this was coming. We feared that this was coming. BushCo has a hit list.
North Korea is too hard to attack and besides, they blinked first (Password/id: rbyrd). So BushCo will stay focused on the Middle East. This is in keeping with the Project for the New American Century which calls for U.S. domination in the Middle East. Iraq was only the first step. We've known that Iran is on the list, after all it is part of the "Axis of Evil". Well Syria has officially just moved up to the top of the BushCo hit list.
The White House branded Syria a "terrorist state" today and accused it of stockpiling the nerve agent sarin.The good news is that respected Republican Lawrence Eagleburger, who was Secretary of State for Daddy Bush, and others, are declaring that if George W. Bush were to take military action against Iran and Syria, that he should be impeached. (Link via Tom Spencer.) The left and the right are coming together on this issue. Enough is enough.
But not for BushCo. Impeachment is a high standard to meet. Maybe a serious threat of impeachment would be enough to curtail BushCo's plans? Maybe not. Maybe they expect to be around a long time.
FOr instance, we learn from Blah3 that on January 3rd a resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President. But this was was introduced by Democrat -- Rep. Serrano (D-NY). Oh what a tangled web we weave.
Saturday, April 12Have They No Humility?
If the invasion wasn't for oil then why are the oil fields secured and antiquities destroyed? The U.S. didn't have any soldiers to guard a museum or to try to restore order? Clearly, there was no post Saddam planning. The planning was only to secure the oil fields and take control of Iraq. I bet that they don't even care that much about finding Saddam any more. They've got the nation, why fret over that tyrant? There was no plan to protect Iraqi citizens or Iraqi culture. Why be bothered by a little anarchy? People and culture are of no importance to the lucre of BushCo.
Friday, April 11
A federal judge in San Francisco has blocked BushCo's bid to loosen standards under which tuna sold in U.S. stores can be labeled "dolphin safe". But the case isn't closed, the issue will be resolved at trial later this year.
My daughter is 2 and half years old. I have nieces and nephews and I have been around young children often during my life, but until I had children of my own I had never really noticed the stages of growth. The last month for my daughter has been marked by a language explosion. She has spoken for more than a year. Like all children, she began by picking up key words here and there. “Mommy”” and “Daddy”, of course, “milk” and other important words. Then she slowly strung words together. But in the past month her language skills have exploded.
She now speaks with complete sentences. She knows pronouns and adjectives and verbs. If you aren’t a parent you have to understand that no one taught my daughter these nuances of language. We taught her words. For the most part, individual words. We always try to explain things to her and have talked to her as if she understood everything that we said, but we haven't taught language per se to her.
Instead, she and her friends absorbed what they noticed around them and just picked up how to form sentences. My daughter and I can now converse. The feeling of carrying on a conversation with your child for the first time can’t be adequately described. You are both elated and amazed. In your head you are thinking, "This is cool, but how did she learn this?" Like all of her accomplishments, we have congratulated her on her new skills. We want her to know that she is doing well, we are proud of her, but we don't want to make to big a deal about her progress.
The same is true of her potty training. She has learned to use the potty during the past two weeks. She seems to have waited until she was ready and then one day was tired of diapers. I'll spare you the details, although with other parents it seems that I can talk about the most intimate aspects of potty training at length, it is not relevant for this discussion. Years ago I never would have imagined that I would talk about a child’s progress on the potty and her progression from diapers. Everything in life is relative. What seems absurd at one point in our lives may become the focus of our lives at a later time.
Our daughter has grown up a lot in the past month. She has learned to use the potty and she can converse. These are big events in a toddler's life. My wife and I have decided that it is time for another milestone.
I am going to remove the railing from one side of her crib. I’ll convert it into a toddler bed this weekend. We have kept her in a crib for our sakes. We haven’t wanted her roaming the house at all hours. But that seems unfair to her. We’ll have to learn to deal with her independence and hope that she doesn't come into our room or her brother's room at all hours of the night.
My son is 6 months old. A month ago he began scooting across the floor. Actually scooting sometimes forward, but more frequently backwards. To scoot he would push himself up onto his hands and knees, kind of rock back and forth and then launch himself. If his feet held he would launch forward, but most often his feet would slip and he would move backward. My son is not an example of patience. He found this very frustrating. When he realized that he had moved several feet backward, and that many feet further away form his goal --- a toy or one of his sister’s books-- he would stop and cry. Not just any cry mind you, but a wail.
Last week he progressed from scooting to crawling. He crawled slowly at first, but now he zooms. He delights in each of his accomplishments. He smiles and laughs when he has learned a new skill. When he crawls he makes a "thump thump" sounds as his hands and knees move on the floor. He loves to crawl around the house, but since he is teething too we have to be very careful about what is on the floor. He will put anything and everything into his mouth. Fortunately for us, his Sister is quite good at her self appointed task of keeping small objects off of the floor. Although, even with her vigilance, some things are missed. Often items are missed simply because they appear to be too far away for him to reach -- they are outside of his likely roaming area. However, we have all learned the hard way that nothing is outside of his territory. His sister will sometimes find him chewing on one of her toys or her books. She will take (rip) the coveted item from his clutches, but she also has to give him one of his toys as a replacement. Also, he loves paper, so we have to be careful about leaving the mail or a newspaper on the floor. Last night I was reading the town paper with my son crawling toward me on the floor. When he hot to me I would pick him up and move him back across the room. Undeterred, he would crawly quickly back to me. If I was fast enough he would grab part of the newspaper and tear and chew on it. We repeated this three times until I gave up trying to read the paper. Each of the sections was balled up, torn in places and wet from his chewing. That might explain why I get most of my news from online sources.
Thursday, April 10The Congo
We seem to know only what we learn from television, so we don't know that much. The war focus in the U.S. was on Afghanistan -- remember that-- and now it is on Iraq. Lest we forget, Afghanistan and Iraq aren't the only wars happening in the world. Unfortunately there are conflicts all over the frigging planet. Today's war of special note is that in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That war has killed more people than any conflict since World War II, according to a report released this week.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has completed a mortality study that estimates the number of dead caused by the five-year-old war in the Democratic Republic of Congo at more than 3.3 million, the largest toll of any conflict in recorded African history.
Targeting Post War Iraq
Directors of the Carlyle Group (which I have written about here, here, and here) -- one of the world’s largest armament companies -- are planning on meeting in Lisbon in three weeks. The agenda? Business opportunities in post-war Iraq. The Group is managed by Frank Carlucci, former deputy director of the CIA before becoming Defense Secretary and James Baker II, who was Secretary of State under BushCo's dad. Daddie Bush and John Major, former British Prime Minister, represent the company overseas.
Poppie (directly) and Shrub (indirectly -- remember that he wants to get rid of the inheritance tax...) personally profited from the Iraq war because, "The American based Carlyle Group is heavily involved in supplying arms to the Coalition forces..." Carlyle Group weapons were used to destroy parts of Iraq. Now the Carlyle group seeks to benefit from that destruction by being paid to rebuild what was destroyed.
Along with several other US companies, the Carlyle Group is expected to be awarded a billion dollar contract by the US Government to help in the redevelopment of airfields and urban areas destroyed by Coalition aerial bombardments. The Portugal NewsThere is something unseemly about this arrangement. The Carlyle Group benefits before, during and after a war. How tidy. Moreover, the fact that the family of the man who ordered the invasion of Iraq benefits from the war and its aftereffects is quite troubling. Do you think that more was bombed so that there would be more to rebuild? Is that too cynical a view? When you take into account the human toll, the carnage, that this war has wrought, the profits earned by the Carlyle Group and the Bush family are disgusting and ill-gotten. Will there be more wars -- with Syria or Iran, for instance -- so that the Carlyle Group and the Bushes can profit?
P.S. The Carlyle Group -- and Poppie and Shrub perhaps -- also has close ties with the Saudi Binladen Corporation (SBC) and Osama Binladen's family. Find out more here, and here.
P.S.S. For more incestuous connections between war and profits read this. (NYTimes password/id: rbyrd)
Mark Fiore suggests that we let RummyCo handle all of Iraq's post-war needs.
Musings on the train
The sun is coming up. The train whistle is blowing as we roll past intersections. We can see sheep peacefully grazing in a field. Now we are passing a pasture full of cows. The ground everywhere is full of promise. It is green with new growth. A fine spring morning in Northern California.
I wonder what it was like this morning in Iran? In Afghanistan? Or in Eritrea, for that matter.
I look out the large window of the train car. Scenery passes quickly by. It is almost as if the window is a big screen television. What is the reality? What I see outside the train or what I am experiencing inside the train?
Which is more real? Which affects more? I look at my my fellow train travelers. We are variously working at our laptops, sleeping or reading the newspaper. In this reality everyone is oblivious to the reality in Iraq. Most are even oblivious to the scenery outside the train. Reading about war is not the same as experiencing it. Seeing war on television may make it seem real, but we don't experience it. Our viewing is passive. All war is very far away. It seems surreal.
War seems even more distant and unimaginable as I look out the window at the animals grazing. Is that why it is easy to support a war whose reality one doesn't experience?
Tuesday, April 8travelling
Tomorrow I will be travelling for work and unable to post any updates. Don't you hate it when work interferes with life? But then is blogging "life"?
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General during the Johnson Administration, has drafted articles of impeachment setting forth high crimes and misdemeanors by President Bush and other officers of his administration. Read the Articles of Impeachment here and notes on the impeachment power here.
End of the World As We Know It
SARS may have been spread by cockroaches.
The Carlyle Group is set to buy Fiat's aerospace unit in order to expand its defense industry market share. War is good for Bush and Shrub.
Hon, where's the baby?
Don't eat Australian beef -- Australia just approved more antibiotics for cattle industry.
Why worry about solving the underlying issues, when you can just lock 'em up? The U.S. has a record high jail population -- 2 million!
Monday, April 7
Photos from the Robot Exhibition.
Why do people believe that Iraqis were the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks? Why have most Americans forgotten about Afghanistan as if it were under control and on its way to democracy, instead of heading toward anarchy? Why do most Americans believe Saddam is public enemy number one and why have they forgotten about Osama bin Laden? Why do most Americans refuse to believe that the U.S. has invaded Iraq as part of a master plan to control the Middle East and its oil? Why do Americans believe that the U.S. is killing Iraqis in order to free them? Why do most Americans support the war? How in the hell do most Americans think that BushCo is doing a good job?
I am frustrated by this and afraid that it is summed up all too well in what is called the Wizard's First Rule, from a series of fantasy fiction novels by Terry Goodkind.
"People can be made to believe any lie because they want to believe it is true, or because they are afraid that it is true."Americans are generally ill informed and many are so afraid of their own shadow that BushCo can manipulate them to believe almost anything. Just as long as Americans think that their safety is at stake they'll accept what is fed to them. Hence we are on an "Orange Alert" -- Americans better be wary until we get that Saddam guy. I wonder what scare will be created come presidential election time? Maybe North Korea or Syria will be threatening national security. Or do you think that Osama will be resurrected then?
Saturday, April 5Anti War Protestors = Terrorists?
Obviously, the intent of any protest is to influence the actions of an organization, people in general and/or the government. Antiwar protests are intended to affect public opinion about the invasion of Iraq and to influence government policy. Depending on one's view of the antiwar demonstration itself, one might feel intimidated by the large numbers of protestors. One might even feel coerced if one is unable to get to work or is unable to travel freely during the protest.
Section 802 of the Patriot Act defines "domestic terrorism" as activities that:
This is a very broad definition. In order to control public opinion and curtail dissent Commandant Ashcroft could use this section to jail protesters. That might seem far fetched today, but what about protestors a few years hence? We are on the proverbial "slippery slope".
We might have grown accustomed to the Patriot Act by then, we might be held in check by the threat of terrorism, we will want stability in our lives. We might not complain when protesters are arrested and held incommunicado. Without the protestors in our faces we can go about our lives. We can rely on Fox News and remain oblivious to the realities in the world. There will be few voices of dissent. We are embarking on a Brave New World.
If you think this is too farfeteched, check this out. A proposed Oregon law would jail street-blocking protesters as terrorists. The jail sentences would be for at least 25 years.
Friday, April 4The toll of the war
The Independent has detailed the toll of the war:
130,000 British and American troops are in action in Iraq from a total force of 250,000 in the Gulf. The Allies have launched 725 Tomahawk cruise missiles, flown 18,000 sorties, dropped 50 cluster bombs and discharged 12,000 precision-guided munitions. There have been an estimated 1,252 Iraqi civilian deaths,57 Kurdish deaths and 5,103 civilian injuries. 88 Allied troops have been killed in the conflict, 27 of whom are British. At least 12 Allied soldiers are missing, 34 Allied soldiers have been killed in 'friendly fire' incidents or battlefield accidents. 9 journalists have been killed or are unaccounted for. There have been 2 suicide attacks on US troops, killing 7 soldiers. 8,023 Iraqi combatants have been taken prisoner of war. So far, 0 weapons of mass destruction have been found. 1,500,000 people in southern Iraq have no access to clean water. 200,000 children in southern Iraq are at risk of death from diarrhoea. 17,000,000 Iraqis are reliant on food aid, which has now been stopped. 600 oil wells and refineries are now under British and American control. 80bn dollars has been set aside by US Congress to meet the cost of war. A capital city of 5,000,000 people now stands between the Allied forces and their 1 objective: the removal of Saddam Hussein.BushCo is probably proud of these numbers. Unlike the rest of the world, BushCo probably sleeps well tonight.
Record Co's Sue
In the first actions of their kind, record companies have filed suit against four people for infringing the companies' copyrights by sharing mp3 files through peer to peer networks. The full text of one of these lauwsuits is here.
Talking about war
I got this from Wil Wheaton and then found it again on Ruminate This.
How many have had conversations like this over the past few months? I know that I have had some.
PeaceNik: Why did you say we are we invading Iraq?There is much more. Read the whole conversation here.
Thursday, April 3Iraq attack, almost in 2001
BushCo apparently wanted to attack Iraq after the September 11th attacks. BushCo came into office wanting to attack Iraq. September 11th would be a good excuse for an attack. However, there was no connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, but BushCo didn't care. Tony Blair cared. According to the BBC, Blair convinced BushCo to focus on Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Afghanistan first.
But, said Sir Christopher Meyer, when Mr Blair met the US president at his Camp David retreat a few days [after 9/11] he successfully argued for al-Qaeda and the Taleban regime in Afghanistan to be confronted first.Rebuilding America's Defenses called for an attack against Iraq. The Project for a New American Century suggested that a catastrophic event was needed in order to mobilize public opinion to support at invasion of Iraq. For BushCo the attacks on September 11th were that event. It apparently didn't matter who committed the crimes. It didn't matter to BushCo if the perpetrators were punished. All that really mattered was that the U.S. establish a base in Iraq in order to protect oil interests.
Day of Action
It may not matter, but then again it might. If we do nothing there will be no change. If we do something we may create change. Take direct action against the war. This Monday, April 7th, is a National Day of Direct Action and Civil Disobedience to Stop the War at Home and Abroad. The forms of the protests will vary from place to place, from locality to locality. In San Francisco, Monday will be the "Day of the Wooden Spoons".
Activists will gather at the San Francisco Federal Building. They will drum with wooden spoons to express their opposition to the war against Iraq
We have chosen simple wooden spoons as a symbol of the daily domestic life of ordinary people, cooking for each other, sitting down to eat meals together. What the war against Iraq is really about is the disruption and destruction of the lives of all those mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. They are killed directly by bombs, bullets and missiles; or indirectly by thirst, starvation, water-borne diseases, lack of medicines and medical care because the infrastructure designed to deliver food and clean water and medical treatment have been targeted and destroyed by U.S. and British bombs.
Give me a break
Wednesday, April 2Pathetic
Shrub is depressed? This is news? He should be. He has gotten men, women AND children killed for his vainglorious dreams of empire. Thanks to Daily Kos for the link.
Do you think that this is supposed to make us feel sorry for him? Feel sorry for BushCo? Pathetic.
Over the next 3 years manufacturers of SUVs will have to increase the fuel efficiency of the vehicles by a whopping -- are you sitting down? -- get this, 1.5 miles per gallon. That will sure ease our dependence on oil imports. The industry says that achieving that gain will be difficult, but they'll do it. How patriotic. This will save the U.S. a mere six million barrels of oil a year -- less than three percent of what had been imported from Iraq. SF Chronicle
Repressed sexual desires, sodomy, fear, the reasons for war and how Texas is just like Iraq. Check it out.
Tuesday, April 1Pay Pal
A federal prosecutor in Missouri has accused Pay Pal, which is now owned by eBay, of violating the Patriot Act.
The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. Did you know that spaghetti grows on trees in Switzerland? If you don't know about this great April Fools spoof check it out.
a crazy rollercoaster ride
BushCo has targeted its so called "Axis of Evil". We haven't heard that term much these past few months, but it hasn't been forgotten. BushCo has plans. The foundation for the next step in those plans was laid last month when resolutions were introduced in the House and Senate "on behalf of the people of Iran." The resolutions warn of Iran's weapons of mass destruction, cite a growing democratic movement and call for regime change in Iran. The war in Iraq isn't over, but Condoleeza Rice now has publicly labelled Iran as the next target (and then North Korea).
When war ends in Iraq, the Bush administration will give ``extremely high priority'' to halting a secret nuclear-weapons program in neighboring Iran, a senior administration official said Monday.BushCo won't negotiate directly with North Korea and it doesn't speak with Iran. BushCo feels that it doesn't need to. It carries a big stick, or more accurately, a huge stock of precision guided cruise missiles.
It sure is the end of the world as we know it....Do we feel fine?