Friday, February 28

"But until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer."

U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation. (username: opensewer; password: iswatching)

Monday, February 24

One of my favourite writers, George Orwell, seems to be in the news an awful lot lately, generating so much controversy you'd swear it was the 1930s. Last year, Christopher Hitchens published Why Orwell Matters, a biographical essay on the continuing relevance of the novelist, essayist, broadcaster, activist. That seems to have triggered a debate in cultural magazines as well as daily newspapers. About a month ago, Louis Menand wrote an intrepidly obtuse piece of criticism in The New Yorker, and it wasn't long before an editor at The New Republic presented his rebuttal: "He [Menand] derides Orwell's linguistic contributions to modern liberalism--'Big Brother,' 'doublethink,' 'thought police'--as 'belong[ing] to the same category as "liar" and "pervert" and "madman." They are conversation-stoppers.' But why should some conversations not be stopped, not concluded with the demonstration that a man who was called a liar actually lied?" Then, a few weeks ago, I caught this remark in Canada's National Post, in a column arguing that Orwell's importance has fizzled now that the iron curtain is down: "Lacking a real-world reference point, students will in time find 1984's perfect dissection of the totalitarian state befuddling, nonsensical, a little bit silly even." I guess this guy doesn't bother reading any political satires that are now "out of date." Don't anybody tell Jonathan Swift.

Thursday, February 20

"Candeo Glacia is powered by hydrogen. Its residents submit to regular iris scans for security purposes. And the leaves on its bioengineered trees turn purple at any sign of radiation."

What the kids dream of - the city they design for the future. A mix of environmental concerns and terror inspired hyper-security nightmares. Kids in the 1980's dreamt of the world ending from nuclear war; kids now dream of environmental decimation and terrorism. Just some of the differences that divide generations...

Wednesday, February 19

This is interesting. Regan revisited in the age of Dubyah. Well, maybe it's just a speech comparison. "Evil Empire" vs. "Axis of Evil." The contrast in rhetoric is notable for both the difference in eloquence and content.

Tuesday, February 18

Bush said that the size of the protests against a possible war was irrelevant.

I suddenly have this picture in my mind of a child blocking out his parents' voices by putting his hands over his ears and shouting, "Nah nah nah! I can't hear you!"

Monday, February 17

Mayor Bloomberg, you suck.
Robert Byrd, America's Loneliest Senator.

Here is his outstanding February 12, 2003 speech which he delivered to the Senate; please read at least the first few paragraphs: Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences, by US Senator Robert Byrd. Thanks, Cousin Steven, for the tip.

Sunday, February 16

Remember, kids, “patriotic hacking” is still a crime.
Nobody cares anymore. It’s all about making the big bucks.

"With all these supermarkets, we'll be a cold city, like in England," he said. "We'll lose that human dimension. My customers chat with me. Supermarkets don't have time for that."

Warning: semi-sweeping (but nonetheless accurate) generalization ahead.

We” view the state of the world one way, and “the rest of the world” views it a different way.

The growing chasm between our cosmology and that of the many of the other nations of the world, particularly those who reside in that deplored tranche referred to as “the third” world, is, in my humble opinion, the greatest threat to a peaceful earth.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Can you imagine what we'd be able to do if half of what we invested in war, we invested in peace?”

Friday, February 14

The Wordsmith word for today is Rubicon:

Rubicon (ROO-bi-kon) noun: A point of no return, one where an action taken commits a person irrevocably.

Is it a mere coincidence or a subtle warning that this is the word of the day on one of the most decisive days in the pending war on Iraq?

Thursday, February 13

Put your city or town to the test with an interactive quiz developed by Carnegie Mellon Professor Richard Florida, author of The Rise of The Creative Class. How does your city or town add up?

Wednesday, February 12

Hey, it's a start. Andy in Boston, you might have to start car shopping soon...
Ted Rall sums up some of my thoughts on the student loans most college kids are forced to acquire in the United States. I have also always thought that these loans should be interest free, too - it seems like they are about the best possible investment the Federal Government can make in the future, even in simple economic terms. Not only are they among the least defaulted on of any loans, in general, college grads = higher incomes = more taxes paid and less social-services needed.
yup, we're blogging at 3:30am here. the sewer is open all night.

Monday, February 10

Tired of U.S. news sites? Well I check this site out everyone once in a while, and if you go to their "News Bulletin" page this morning, take a look at the story headlines (I will list them as they may change as the day goes on):

Turkey Seeks Nato Consultations on Defence [sic] of Iraq

Confusion Surrounds German-French Plan for Iraq

Chinese Dissident Sentenced to Life in Prison (he is an American), and

South Korea Says No Proof of North Korea Atomic Bomb.

Read the articles, and see if you don't agree with me when I say, "Hello, Bush - wake up! The entire world continues to turn against us and all you want to do is make war."

The Justice Department has planned a new bill that is being called a sequel to the freedom-devouring USA PATRIOT Act. It's been on a couple of news sites, but I thought it bore mentioning. Here's the full text in PDF format.

Friday, February 7

German interior minister, Otto Schily, noted that Rumsfeld's ancestors came from a region of northern Germany noted for rough speech, which he said might help explain his acerbic comments about old Europe.

How to win friends and influence political enemies, by Donald Rumsfeld.

Rose - skip the dinner, but go for the jerky. I love jerky. Jerky Rules! High in protein, low in fat and sugar, it's a great healthy snack (a little salty, that's all). But buying retail jerky certainly can be expensive. However, you can do it at home, even without your own smokehouse! Recipies vary, but you really get to individualize your dried meat. And there are products, too, you can order for your jerky making. Beef, pork, deer, even emu is perfect for jerky. Just remember to use the proper safe temperatures in your jerky making. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 5

Well, I don't totally agree with John's take (below) on the WTC finalists...I don't really like Libeskind's design; it lacks clarity. But I do like Raphael Vinoli's. I love Norman Foster's proposal--it's my favorite. I think it's elegant, respectful and full of the human spirit without being defiant. All of the proposals, however, are missing something quite important--just a dash more practicality. At least that's what Larry Silverstein thinks.

My take on it is this: Thirty years down the road, I'd like to visit a structure full of life and economically vital--not just a mostly-empty monument, regardless of its architectural and cultural merit. The original towers were working towers; the new structure should also be a noble laborer.

The two finalists have been chosen for the WTC site replacement design, and I will say they both have a hefty dose of awful in them. (NYTimes login: opensewer; password: iswatching.)

Tuesday, February 4

The always excellent Paul Krugman is a bit more articulate today than I was yesterday. (login: opensewer; password: iswatching).
Principal to teacher - "This morning I observed that during the morning news program, you and your students were engaged in activities other than watching television." - Put the books down, kids, and watch the tv! Yeah, a skill the kids really need to work on.

Monday, February 3

The first to fly is the second to go... Columbia is gone, taking seven more lives in the process. A marvel of technology, the space shuttle(s) also succeeded in making space flight normal, less exotic, and regular. There are a lot of articles on the disaster and its implications, from straight news to personal accounts to vaguely political (for example, looks at the event from its free markets or die perspective).
If you are like me, you probably didn't know why they were on this flight. You might have heard there was an Isreali astronaut, but really, why was it necessary this time to have people flying up there? What were they doing? That's half of the shuttle fleet that has been destroyed during its "normal" usage now. This article I found (via metafilter) written in 1980 brings a lot of perspective to the situation. I am not one to question the value of science for science, but when something of this scope, scale, and cost doesn't mean anything to the average citizen unless it fails spectacularly, it leads me to question the nature of the shuttle missions.