Three tons?

October 30, 2006

Shepherd’s delight
Originally uploaded by Sean BoltonFrom WTMJ:

The U.S. Coast Guard’s desire to train troops on machine guns may stick lead into environmental efforts in Lake Michigan….

Those 34 sites would put three tons of lead each year into the lakes. Environmentalists are worried about the risk of that much lead in the water supply.

Three tons a year? That’s a lot of bullets…

The FATS is looking better and better…

In the month of October, American forces in Iraq have lost at least 100 service members. This is the toll we can count; this is the toll the press pings on. But what is the true human cost? I’m not sure. And, I’m not sure anyone knows, at least right now. Perhaps it is too early. Perhaps we’ll never know. The Washington Post has an intense look at the cost of the conflict on the living, following one Marine Reserve company on their return from seven months in Iraq. The article, and the accompanying multi-media presentation, is worth your time.

My question is simple: what will we, individually, collectively, and as a country, do to support those who have worn the uniform in service in order to “implement policy by other means”? We, as a country, and our elected representatives, owe them much.

2005 Juneau – coast guard
Originally uploaded by mradulovichThe Milwaukee Journal has an interesting piece in yesterday’s edition about the Coast Guard’s efforts to establish firing ranges on the Great Lakes. The author suggests we’ve spent years building good will with the peoples of the Great Lakes only to shatter it with the plan “to create 34 massive – and permanent – firing ranges for a weapon that can shoot 10 lead bullets a second.” Hmmm….

The U.S. Coast Guard has spent its entire history building an incredible reservoir of goodwill in the Great Lakes.

From the countless rescues of distressed mariners to the ice-breaker Mackinaw’s annual Lake Michigan run with a load of North Woods Christmas trees for Chicago’s needy, people on the lakes – drunken boaters excluded – have always been happy to see the bright red ships steaming their way.

I’d have hoped the service had learned something over the years, but I guess culture sometimes is really difficult to overcome. The Coast Guard has a habit of really goofing when it comes to political initiatives… and, contrary to whatever anyone in blue might have thought, this is a political initiative. It might seem pretty straight forward — new weaponry, new course of fire, new ranges — but in the eyes of the public and the elected officials on the Hill, it isn’t so simple.

When the Coast Guard decided to move off Governor’s Island in New York, the plan had to go on hold for six or eight weeks; senior Coast Guard leaders had forgotten to work with the White House and Congressional leaders in developing and implementing the plan. “Ooops; we forgot to tell the White House we’re shutting down one of our largest bases in one of the biggest cities in the country. We didn’t think anyone would care…”

Well, care they did. In this case, the Service didn’t attempt to fly so far under the radar. There was the one announcement in early August in the Congressional Record. I sincerely doubt we called attention to it, however. And, like moving of The Rock, people do care about waterborne ranges on the Great Lakes. There are safety issues and environmental issues and international relation issues and who-knows-what-other issues.

I’m particularly fond of the environmental issues. Way back when, the Coast Guard used to toss used batteries — the ones that powered various aids to navigation — into the deep. When the battery was completely used, the ATON guys would just heave it over the side, deep six it. This was the standard operating procedure.

Needless to say, it’s not anymore, and the Coast Guard spent millions to remediate various sites to get all the batteries removed. They littered the bottom in places, piling up, years’ worth of wasted batteries jumbled together in the murky waters of rivers, bays, lakes, and the coastal environment. Yup, not good

So, I imagine some ten or twenty years into the future, when we have shot millions of rounds into the bottom of the fragile lakes, someone will figure out it’s a bad idea and ruining the environment. And then, the question will be how to clean it up. I’m not all that smart, but I’m thinking it’s going to much more difficult to clean up millions of 7.62 mm rounds than it was to clean up thousands of large car-battery-sized ATON batteries.

Maybe, just maybe, the Coast Guard needs to find another way to conduct the training: perhaps a firearms training simulator? There are simulators for astronauts and aircraft pilots and shipboard officers; why not a transportable FATS that simulates being underway. Couple that with landside shooting for familiarization and qualification, and we might be able to address the needs of all stakeholders.

Romeo & Juliet
Originally uploaded by MalladyYou’ve heard about the missing soldier in Iraq, the American Army member who went missing last week… Well, I think this is a contemporary Romeo & Juliet. From the New York Times>:

The missing American soldier who has been the subject of an intensive manhunt here in the capital since he was kidnapped by gunmen outside the heavily protected Green Zone last week was secretly married to an Iraqi woman and had been visiting her at the time of the abduction, several people who identified themselves as his in-laws said Sunday.

This is Romeo & Juliet. The Americans are the Montagues, and the Iraqis are the Capulets. This is one production I’d like to see; let’s hope the real-life version plays out with less tragedy than Shakespeare’s “Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy .”

Conspiracy Theory
Originally uploaded by PoewarI can’t seem to consistently post to this blog. Could the federal authorities be locking down on dissent? Could they have gotten to “do no evil” Google and bugged Blogger and Blogspot? Could this be the beginning of how we shut down free speech in the Internet era? Could, I perhaps, be slightly paranoid
I promise… Just wanted to provide the second page to the search warrant, so you can see what the FBI was after when they broke into Mr. Soghoian’s apartment… Er, I mean when they executed the search warrant…
Enjoying the Last Day of Daylight Savings Time
Originally uploaded by EthnoScapeIf you haven’t done it already… time to change the clocks and the smoke detector batteries…

I’m willing to bet most of us have done one and not the other.

Sweaty Senator Schumer
Originally uploaded by Atomische.comThe Senator from New York — no, not that one, the senior senator, Chuck Schumer — noted back in February 2005 about the gap in security… while he didn’t provide the php script, he did lay it all out there, just Christopher Soghoian did. From Senator Schumer’s press release:

New Yorkers boarding planes at either JFK or LaGuardia may be sitting among terrorists because of a flaw in airport security systems, U.S. Senator Charles E Schumer revealed today. The danger lies in a loophole in the Department of Homeland Security’s Terrorist Watch List and air security and leaves New Yorkers and all Americans vulnerable in the air and on the ground. Schumer today outlined a situation in which anyone with basic computer skills can print a fake boarding pass and avoid scrutiny by airport security, and laid out a detailed plan to combat this hazard.

“It’s unbelievable that after over three years of recalibrating aviation and airport security so that we can keep a close eye on suspicious individuals, this enormous hole remains in the system. It has rendered the terrorist watch list nearly useless,” Schumer said. “In this post 9/11 era, the terrorists will find our weakest link and we can’t leave any stone unturned.”

Schumer today laid out the following scenario in which someone on the terrorist watch list can get through airline security undetected:

1. Joe Terror (whose name is on the terrorist watch list) buys a ticket online in the name of Joe Thompson using a stolen credit card. Joe Thompson is not listed on the terrorist watch list.

2. Joe Terror then prints his “Joe Thompson” boarding pass at home, and then electronically alters it (either by scanning or altering the original image, depending on the airline system and the technology he uses at home) to create a second almost identical boarding pass under the name Joe Terror, his name.

3. Joe Terror then goes to the airport and goes through security with his real ID and the FAKE boarding pass. The name and face match his real drivers license. The airport employee matches the name and face to the real ID.

4. The TSA guard at the magnetometer checks to make sure that the boarding pass looks legitimate as Joe Terror goes through. He/she does not scan it into the system, so there is still no hint that the name on the fake boarding pass is not the same as the name on the reservation.

5. Joe Terror then goes through the gate into his plane using the real Joe Thompson boarding pass for the gate’s computer scanner. He is not asked for ID again to match the name on the scanner, so the fact that he does not have an ID with that name does not matter. [Since Joe Thompson doesn’t actually exist it does not coincide with a name on the terrorist watch list] Joe Terror boards the plane, no questions asked.

To combat this scenario, which revealed in published reports last week, Schumer today proposed a cost free solution of requiring another identification check to the boarding pass scan at the gate to ensure that the name on the scanned boarding pass, the passengers identification, and the person boarding the plane are the same. This proposal would replicate the security precautions taken immediately after September 11th, but are no longer in practice. Anybody trying to board a flight would present their boarding pass and identification together two times, upon going through the security line and then again when boarding the plane, foiling the “Joe Terror” scenario outlined above.

“The terror threat has not decreased since September 11th, it has only increased. The fact that we are less conscientious about who we are letting board our planes, boggles the mind,” said Schumer. “It’s clear that we are missing a critical step at our airports, and unless we recognize the shortcoming, and are willing to sacrifice the slightest bit of convenience, we may be left with blood on our hands. The people that are out there to do us harm are not stupid, and this loophole is a glaring opportunity for them to exploit.”

Did Representative Edward Markey call for the Senator’s arrest?

Meanwhile, I’m wondering how Mr. Soghoian is doing…

Saskatoon Airport Security
Originally uploaded by blamarYes, I’m still on this Christopher Soghoian thing…

I found an article in CSO that goes over the same ground as Mr. Soghoian, albeit without the actual boarding pass generator

As a frequent flyer, I hesitate to write this article, but as an auditor of security and information systems, it’s the right thing to do. If you’ve ever wondered whether airport security has improved since 9/11, let me set you straight: It has not. There is a gaping hole in airport security, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has done nothing despite being alerted to this vulnerability more than 11 months ago.

The TSA’s website states there are four ways to obtain a boarding pass:

* Go to your airline’s ticket counter at the airport.
* Use curbside check-in.
* Use your airline’s self-service ticket kiosk in the airport lobby (if available).
* Print the boarding pass from your airline’s website (not all airlines provide this option).

Let’s be honest—there are really five ways. The fifth is to print your own boarding pass using your computer, and it’s amazingly simple to doctor the name, date, time, flight number and even the airline name and logo. The modification process is sometimes as simple as using an html editor or even Microsoft Word.

How can this be? Because, at most airports, TSA personnel do nothing more than visually review the boarding pass. It is not checked against airline records by scanning the barcode until boarding. Moreover, there are no standards for boarding passes—each airline has a different format. Can you actually get on an airplane using this approach? Probably not, but you can certainly make it past the security screening checkpoints.

I don’t know when this was posted (perhaps back in February), but you can be sure it was before Mr. Soghoian.

I say we fix the flaw… and give Mr. Soghoian back his computer equipment… and maybe pay for a maid to help him clean up his grad student apartment.

It’s like that whack-a-mole game! Now it’s Delta!

I’d say we have a security process issue, not an issue with people exercising their First Amendment rights.

Who’s next? Let’s bring it on!

… I’d think something is amiss… Since I’ve started posting about Christopher Soghoian, my blog isn’t posting… there’s something screwed up with my Blogger account.

Coincidental? Hmmm…

About Mr. Soghoian, Boing Boing — which I usually don’t read — has been tracking the situation… Here’s a good overview. And here’s what they say about the law

Christopher Soghoian’s stated intent with the “Boarding Pass Generator” website was to illustrate a well-documented airline security weakness that airlines and government failed to address — not to commit fraud or help terrorists. IANAL, but people who are lawyers are no doubt examining the laws that may apply to his case, now that he has been visited by FBI agents bearing a search warrant, his computer and other belongings seized.

A number of legal areas may be at issue. Here’s one. If I’m reading the current Homeland Security Code of Federal Regulations accurately, it would appear that even scrawling the words “boarding pass” on a cocktail napkin in lipstick and calling it a boarding pass could be cause for an unsolicited late-night visit, though intent is key. This section of federal law addresses the forging of airline tickets or boarding documents — DHS Code Title 49, Volume 8; October 1, 2004 rev. [Page 302]:




Subpart B_Responsibilities of Passengers and Other Individuals and Persons

Sec. 1540.103 Fraud and intentional falsification of records.

No person may make, or cause to be made, any of the following:
(a) Any fraudulent or intentionally false statement in any application for any security program, access medium, or identification medium, or any amendment thereto, under this subchapter.
(b) Any fraudulent or intentionally false entry in any record or report that is kept, made, or used to show compliance with this subchapter, or exercise any privileges under this subchapter.
(c) Any reproduction or alteration, for fraudulent purpose, of any report, record, security program, access medium, or identification medium issued under this subchapter.


So, if I read this correctly, Mr. Soghoian, by writing and posting the php script, “caused to be made” a “reproduction” of a “identification medium issued under” the law. I guess it comes down to what the purpose was?

I’ll stand in the dock with him.

Earlier, I was wondering what law Christopher Soghoian might have broken… Over at Slashdot, there’s this post:

Boiling down some of the legalese, the charges (if any are filed) will be “conspiracy to knowingly present a false and fictitious claim upon or against the United States, or any department or agency thereof in violation of USC 18 (secs. , 371, 1036, 1343, 2318) and USC 49 (secs. 46314 and 46316) and 49 CFR (secs. 1540.103 and 1540.105)” (edited for brevity).

Er, can anyone tell me, in plain English, what Mr. Soghoian has done?

More to follow, I’m sure.

I’m not real bright… I was thinking that maybe Mr. Soghoian’s breach of law came that he posted a boarding pass… I mean, that’s what it looks like and everything…

So I went to Google… or, as President Bush would say, “I went to the Google…” and I searched “boarding pass” in images… and I swear to you, like the first bloody image was from Northwest Airlines… complete with the boarding pass you see with this post, which I lifted from this page of their website; the boarding passes are here

So, let me see, even low tech, I could print this out, get my white out, put in the info I want, photocopy it to remove the visible white out, and voila… I’m all set…

And, if I were a little more tech savvy, I could use my computer… or, hey, I could write a php script… I’ll bet I could find a book on how to do it… or, hey, maybe even on the Internet I could figure out how to do it…

I know I sound alarmist, but I’m slightly worried. I guess that’s better than Christopher Soghoian, the doctoral student who recently posted a php script for generating a fake, but fairly plausible-looking, boarding pass. I posted about him yesterday. Anyway, as Mr. Soghoian noted in his blog, slight paranoia — I note the irony here and also think it may be time for Mr. Soghoian to upgrade from “slight” — he was visited yesterday evening by two federal agents. Later in the evening, agents returned executing a search warrant. As Mr. Soghoian noted,

I didn’t sleep at home last night. It’s fair to say I was rather shaken up.

I came back today, to find the glass on the front door smashed.

Inside, is a rather ransacked home, a search warrant taped to my kitchen table, a total absence of computers – and various other important things. I have no idea what time they actually performed the search, but the warrant was approved at 2AM. I’m sincerely glad I wasn’t in bed when they raided the house. That would have been even more scary.

Now, here’s my question. And, this seems a fair question, especially considering I am not an attorney. What law is Mr. Soghoian alleged to have broken?

Did he break a law when he wrote the php script allowing anyone to generate a boarding pass? Come on. While I can’t write a script to do it, I could certainly gin one up using what little computer expertise — as a user — I have with photoshop or maybe even just Word.

Did he break the law when he provided a road map for skirting airport security? Well, plenty of other people — including me — have made various rumblings, and some of us have been as direct and forthright, or more so, than Mr. Soghoian.

Or maybe providing scenarios is against the law. In which case, we ought to arrest nearly every writer of terrorist fiction, including Tom Clancy who provided the textbook idea of flying a jumbo jet into the Capitol during a joint session of Congress. I’ve provided ideas of what I’d do here in Hampton Roads; my focus has been on taking out the tunnels.

Anyway, I’d be interested to know what law Mr. Soghoian actually broke. And, if the agency acted purely on the demands of a Congressional representative, well, pity the Republic, frankly.

In the mean time, see this post in Washington Post’s blog and keep up with Mr. Soghoian’s status via Google News and his own blog, which hopefully he will continue to use as an outlet of speech.

And, speaking of technology and free speech, I found this from InfoWorld Tech, after quoting our President who said in an interview earlier this week that he uses “The Google,”

And just today, Rep. Edward Markey called for the arrest of security researcher Christopher Soghoian, who created a Web site, called Northwest Airlines Boarding Pass Generator, on which users could print up a forged boarding pass for Northwest Airlines flights. That, to me, is yet again indicative of a politician who is missing entirely the big technology picture of airline security. (There’s also a question there about freedom of speech, but this entry is more about politician’s knowledge of technology, not Constitutional law.)

In the mean time, keep up with Mr. Soghoian; let us not let him be disappeared… er, not that that would ever happen here in the United States… well, er, ah, anyway… And, while you may call me a commie, let us hope the ACLU and the EFF jump in on this case, and let us support both of these organizations that seek to support our civil liberties and keep our government transparent.

Oh, and the bit about the jack-booted authorities, that was just editorial license, metaphor, if you will.

with laptop
Originally uploaded by genome4hirePerhaps you have heard about the doctoral student at Indiana University Bloomington who has identified (albeit not for the first time) flaws in our airport security system. Christopher Soghoian, a student in “Informatics” (and, if you’re like me, surf here to find out what informatics is), has not only walked through the process, but provided a little iinternet-magic to allow the casual computer user to actually print a bogus boarding pass.

Of course, this has not made him all that popular. As reported in Wired, Congressman Edward Markey (D-Mass.) wants him arrested. I’m not sure what the charge is, but he wants him tossed in jail. I’m not sure “too smart for his britches” is actually a valid charge (were it, I’ll be sharing a sell with Mr. Soghoian). As Mr. Soghoian notes here in his blog, slight paranoia

In addition to calling for my arrest, the congressman may want to call for the arrest of Senator Schumer (D-NY). In April of this year, he posted rather detailed instructions for the exact same attack. See: here. Sure, he didn’t produce a php script that’d do it for you, but he provided detailed enough instructions that a terrorist or evil-doer with basic computer skills could do it.

Ah, I think that Congressman Markey had better get on the right track and work to make the system safer. Tossing Mr. Soghoian in the slammer is not only a bad idea, but will merely rile-up a slew of folks. Perhaps it is time to institute real security screening and other processes at airports and other public transportation hubs. As Mr. Soghoian notes, what we have now may look good, but it’s not really doing us any good.

In the mean time, you can surf here to make your own boarding pass. Do; it’s fun!

Hmmm…. Do you Yahoo? Just make certain you don’t Google… Seems the lawyers over at Google want to make certain that Google remains a proper noun.

Now, I’m not sure Google isn’t also a verb… but who in their right mind would say, “I googled him on Yahoo…” Clearly, a person can only Google on Google; we Yahoo on Yahoo, of course.

Who cut off my head?
Originally uploaded by Stephan SchleimThe more I read about the brain, the more I’m certain we don’t know much. Today, I read an article in Wired about prosopagnosia, or face blindness. People who suffer from prosopagnosia dont’ see faces. From the Wired article:

For most of his childhood, Choisser thought he was normal. He just assumed that nobody saw faces. But slowly, it dawned on him that he was different. Other people recognized their mothers on the street. He did not. During the 1970s, as a small-town lawyer in the Illinois Ozarks, he struggled to convince clients that he was competent even though he couldn’t find them in court. He never greeted the judges when he passed them on the street – everyone looked similarly blank to him – and he developed a reputation for arrogance. His father, also a lawyer, told him to pay more attention. His mother grew distant from him. He felt like he lived in a ghost world. Not being able to see his own face left him feeling hollow.

He didn’t recognize faces? He’s evidently not along… at all… There’s a research center housed at Harvard and University College London.

Anyway, I recommend the Wired article and this piece by Bill Choisser. And I’m sure there’s more. Fascinating stuff.

Will we ever figure out the brain?

Certainly makes me sit up, take notice, and think.

And the ad is having some affect. Rush Limbaugh claimed Michael J. Fox was “either off his medication or acting” during the ad. And Mr. Limbaugh, well, we know he is personally a great proponent of prescription drugs, their use, and their abuse… what he knows about Parkinson’s, however, is likely much less. Jack. Arrived 0805 EDT today, 23 October 2006. 8lbs 1oz. 19+ inches.

Both mom and baby are doing well. Posted by Picasa

It’s huge. Watch the video.
Rescued Swimmer
Originally uploaded by Box of LightFound the following article about a rescue this week in Alaska… could have been plucked straight from THE GUARDIAN.

Two men died and a third was missing after a commercial fishing boat capsized south of the Alaska Peninsula. A fourth crewman from Lynchburg was plucked from the North Pacific and was in critical condition.

The 49-foot, 50-ton Ocean Challenger, whose home port is Adak in the Aleutian Islands, disappeared about 60 miles south of Sand Point, a community on Popof Island off the tip of the Alaska Peninsula.

Kevin Ferrell, 28, was the only person wearing a survival suit, the Coast Guard said. He was assisted in the water by a rescue swimmer and hoisted to safety Wednesday by a Coast Guard helicopter.

The bodies of skipper David ”Cowboy” Hasselquist, 51, of Hoonah, Alaska, and crewman Walter Foster, 26, of Westport, Wash., were pulled from the water.

The missing man, a 26-year-old Kodiak fisherman, was not wearing a survival suit, the Coast Guard said.

The Ocean Challenger had been fishing for black cod near the Sanak Islands and was traveling back to Sand Point when it disappeared, vessel owner Barry McKee said.

Officials said they did not know what caused the boat to capsize. Residents in Sand Point, a city of 940 about 570 miles southwest of Anchorage, said the weather has been severe. The Coast Guard reported 29 mph winds with 20-foot seas and an air temperature of 48 degrees.

Just before 10 a.m. Wednesday, a 600-foot car carrier, the Overseas Joyce, on a trans-Pacific voyage, heard a nearby boat send out a mayday, the Coast Guard said. The freighter was close enough to see the Ocean Challenger capsize and the crew throw a lifeboat out, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard sent a helicopter, a C-130 airplane and the 378-foot cutter Munro to the location. The first helicopter, a Jayhawk, arrived about an hour after the distress call.

The Jayhawk lowered a basket and hoisted Ferrell and the bodies of bodies of Hasselquist and Foster. Ferrell was taken to the Cold Bay Clinic about 50 miles away, then to an Anchorage hospital.

Coast Guard C-130 pilot Lt. Jerred Williams told the Anchorage Daily News he arrived on scene in the afternoon with a second crew to look for the missing man.

“’The waves were so high you actually got white caps at the top of the wave,” he said. “And, then, with the wind streaking across the blue water, and the white turbulence everywhere, it made it very challenging to find a person in the water.”

Yup… straight from the cutting room floor…

Livin La Vida Vayner
Originally uploaded by aospixSeems that Mr. Vayner might be able to land a job afterall… As reported in The New Yorker, advertising executive Donny Deutsch said on MSNBC that he was impressed, noting “I would hire this guy sight unseen.” (You might be able to see the interview here.)

Of course, we’ve all seen Mr. Vayner, even if Mr. Deutsch hasn’t… and if you are one of the six or seven people left on the internet who haven’t seen him, you should.

Anyway, back to Mr. Vayner… I loved what The New Yorker had to say:

On its face, Vayner’s C.V. may be the world’s greatest, which raises the question of why he’s looking for an entry-level finance position—the fallback for so many unremarkable Ivy Leaguers who lack dual backgrounds in espionage and Eastern medicine.

You can see is resume (although, at 11 pages, it’s not really a resume) here. Read the resume soon, as, according to the New York Post, Mr. Vayner is crying foul.

In the mean time, Mr. Vayner might want to consider advertising with Donny Deutsch rather than investment banking with UBS

Originally uploaded by The_skepticleDavid Wessel of the Wall Street Journal has bad news; his article is titled Why It Might Take A Doctorate to Beat Inflation:

The typical American worker with a four-year college degree earns a lot more money than a similar worker who didn’t go beyond high school — 45% more.

Education does pay. But in today’s economy, getting a bachelor’s degree is no longer a guarantee of raises big enough to beat inflation.

Although the best-paid college grads are doing well, wages of college grads have fallen on average, after adjusting for inflation, in the past five years. The only group that enjoyed rising wages between 2000 (just before the onset of the last recession) and 2005 (the most-recent data available) were the small slice with graduate degrees.

I knew there was a reason I kept going to school… perhaps it will all pay off…

And, I’m no longer sure the slice with graduate degrees is small… seems like I know a slew of people who are working on masters or doctorates… and not just my classmates…

Inside NEW Bookbag
Originally uploaded by geremologyThis from the ideas-that-aren’t-all-that-practical department:

A candidate for state superintendent of schools said Thursday he wants thick used textbooks placed under every student’s desk so they can use them for self-defense during school shootings.

I can see it now. First, we judge textbooks by their size; content, well, content is secondary. Second, we require students to lug the large textbooks with them, no matter where they’re going. Need to use the restroom? Take your big biology book. Third, we’re going to teach students how to move the big book quickly into the path of an oncoming bullet.

You go, Republican Bill Crozier of Union City, Oklahoma, a teacher and former Air Force security officer!

DreamWorks Pictures and Warner Brothers Entertainment

Clint Eastwood’s new movie, Flags of Our Fathers, opens this weekend. Manohla Dargis has a great review in the New York Times. Extremely insightful, as the movie is, evidently. I was particularly struck by this observation:

If “Flags of Our Fathers” feels so unlike most war movies and sounds so contrary to the usual political rhetoric, it is not because it affirms that war is hell, which it does with unblinking, graphic brutality. It’s because Mr. Eastwood insists, with a moral certitude that is all too rare in our movies, that we extract an unspeakable cost when we ask men to kill other men. There is never any doubt in the film that the country needed to fight this war, that it was necessary; it is the horror at such necessity that defines “Flags of Our Fathers,” not exultation.

We extract an unspeakable cost when we ask men to kill other men. No kidding. And who, I ask, asks others to go off and enforce policy by other means, to paraphrase Clausewitz? It is, perhaps, the policy makers and other news makers, the privileged, the Ivy League educated elite.

On Thursday on NPR’s All Things Considered, Ken Harbaugh, a 9-year Navy veteran who is now a student at Yale Law School, spoke about service and what it means to serve in the military. His colleagues in law school suggest to him that the poor and middle class serve in the military for the money. Mr. Harbaugh has other notions, however. He suggests, “The real reason we always send the poor is because the privileged refuse to go.” Not that they haven’t gone before, but now, today, the privileged are unwilling to serve, don’t know what honor, respect, and devotion to duty mean. This essay is well worth a listen.

So, how to we make it so everyone, the privileged, the poor, the middle class, all serve for the greater good? How do we ensure that the next generation of policy makers understands service and sacrifice, knows what it is to serve in uniform, knows what it is to go off an be the hammer of international policy?

I don’t seem to remember Halloween being like this in years past. Did I miss something along the way?

From the New York Times

IN her thigh-highs and ruby miniskirt, Little Red Riding Hood does not appear to be en route to her grandmother’s house. And Goldilocks, in a snug bodice and platform heels, gives the impression she has been sleeping in everyone’s bed. There is a witch wearing little more than a Laker Girl uniform, a fairy who appears to shop at Victoria’s Secret and a cowgirl with a skirt the size of a tea towel.

Seemingly innocuous characters have a sexy edge in costumes, which evoke male fantasies and reinforce a larger cultural message: younger is hotter.
Anyone who has watched the evolution of women’s Halloween costumes in the last several years will not be surprised that these images — culled from the Web sites of some of the largest Halloween costume retailers — are more strip club than storybook. Or that these and other costumes of questionable taste will be barely covering thousands of women who consider them escapist, harmless fun on Halloween.

“It’s a night when even a nice girl can dress like a dominatrix and still hold her head up the next morning,” said Linda M. Scott, the author of “Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism” (Palgrave Macmillan) and a professor of marketing at the University of Oxford in England.

What was that? It’s a night when even a nice girl can dress like a dominatrix and still hold her head up the next morning. I’m going to have to think about that.

In the mean time, where’s Goldilocks?


You can find Little Red Riding Hood, and all her friends, at

President Bush
Originally uploaded by Brian RayI found this to be striking:

President Bush said in a one-on-one interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that a newspaper column comparing the current fighting in Iraq to the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam, which was widely seen as the turning point in that war, might be accurate.

“Wow,” thought I. According to the article,

Stephanopoulos asked whether the president agreed with the opinion of columnist Tom Friedman, who wrote in The New York Times that the situation in Iraq may be equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam almost 40 years ago.

The President’s response?

He could be right. There’s certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we’re heading into an election…. My gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we’d leave, and the leaders of al Qaeda have made that very clear. Look, here’s how I view it. First of all, al Qaeda is still very active in Iraq. They are dangerous. They are lethal. They are trying to not only kill American troops, but they’re trying to foment sectarian violence. They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw.

Just what we need, another morass…. and as to the American people growing sick and tired, well, count me in… I’m sick and tired…

Oh, where have I heard that before

Originally uploaded by Juan FreireI’m amazed… but I ought not to be… Aleksey Vayner has a Wikipedia entry. No, not one that he posted himself (although, I bet now he wishes he’d thought of that before those Wiki scoundrals did). This entry is all about Mr. Vayner’s infamy… and it turns out there’s more than just the video. Seems he’s done some extreme fabrication on his resume. Check out Wikipedia here and follow some of the links cited as references. Great reading for when you’re looking for a something to do while you procrastinate falling through the Internet’s rabbit hole.
Details of how 9/11 is part of a conspiracy hosted by the President and others.

An alert, albeit deemed not creditable, of a dirty bomb attack this Sunday.

Word that James Baker, “who has a long history of trying to help the Bush family out of tight spots,” has suggestions on what to do about Iraq.

Or, maybe, just maybe, they are related… hmmmm….

… by developments online…

But I was wrong.

Turns out that Reuters, the international news service, is opening a bureau in Second Life, the make-believe world on the internet. And they are opening a news center on the Internet to report on news in Second Life.

Got it?

Reuters Group Plc is opening a news bureau in the simulation game Second Life this week, joining a race by corporate name brands to take part in the hottest virtual world on the Internet.

Starting on Wednesday, Reuters plans to begin publishing text, photo and video news from the outside world for Second Life members and news of Second Life for real world readers…

Now I’m certain I’m not going to be able to tell the difference between reality and cyperity… Is it real? Or is it sim?

I’m so confused. 😉

Yale University
Originally uploaded by omerkaI love this… a Yale senior decided to share a video with prospective employers. Now, on the one hand, this sounds like a good idea. Well, I thought so, buy I guess I have as much sense as young Aleksey Vayner… From Forbes:

Another recruiting year, another job applicant humiliation. This season, Yale senior Aleksey Vayner went far beyond the usual misaddressed e-mail or keyboard-in-mouth embarrassment.

Vayner, an aspiring investment banker, sent a video titled “Impossible is Nothing” along with an 11-page résumé and glamour shot to financial services powerhouse UBS. Within hours, scores of investment banks noticed his application, as bankers e-mailed the seven-minute video and turned Vayner into the biggest joke on Wall Street.

As long as there have been job applicants, there have been application gaffes. Today, with e-mail as the preferred mode of corporate communication, that embarrassing camera phone picture or salacious IM to a co-worker quickly travels far beyond company walls. So too can a boastful résumé or cover letter.

If the veoh link doesn’t work, Forbes has a little clip.

Is it total disaster? Well, not according to Forbes:

If you do make a mistake, own up to it and move on. Apparently, that’s not Vayner’s style. He recently sent cease and desist letters to Web sites showing his video, but bloggers piled on more mockery. “If you stand by the fact that you are the greatest thing since sliced bread, it is going to turn people off,” says Castellini. A better idea is to suck it up and start kissing up with a sincere apology.

That worked for law firm summer associate Jonas Blank. The Harvard Law School grad mistakenly sent an e-mail about his summer job to the 40 or so members of Skadden’s underwriting group. “I’m busy doing jack s—,” he wrote. Blank quickly sent a second e-mail, apologizing for the first, which, “showed a total lack of discretion, responsibility and judgment, and undoubtedly did my reputation and my future here no favors.” His begging worked: Blank now works full time at the firm, making over $150,000. Company policy forbade him from commenting on his e-mail.

Well, it is for young Mr. Vayner, I guess… had he just bowed out or begged forgiveness, I’d likely have never taken the bait and blogged.

So, I wonder if I’ve gone too far in my search for a new job? Feedback, anyone?

2006-08-20 – Road Trip – Day 29 – United States – Arizona – Biosphere 2_7.jpg
Originally uploaded by Colin Gregory PalmerOne of the great things about the Internet is coming across interesting tidbits… of course, that’s the curse, too, particularly for those of us who are easily distracted…

Anyway, Wired has an interesting interview with a person who lived in Biosphere 2 for two years…

Jane Poynter entered the world’s first hermetically sealed, manufactured ecological system in 1991 with seven other people.

Biosphere 2 — the 3.15-acre, almost-airtight outpost in the Arizona desert that was to be their home for two years — proved impressively stable, although low oxygen levels and disappointing crop yields made survival a daily challenge. Eventually, pure oxygen had to be added to the system, and the team had to supplement its diet with food from an emergency stockpile stored before closure.

Throughout their stay, short tempers, depression and even the specter of insanity kept life interesting for the “biospherians.” In her new book, The Human Experiment: Two Years and Twenty Minutes Inside Biosphere 2, Poynter gives an insider’s view of the famous experiment. She spoke with Wired News about cult rumors, Biosphere 2’s unique usefulness to climatologists and her time inside the bubble.

Hmmm… two years locked in a 3 acre facility with 7 other people… Sounds like boarding school… 😉

You can visit Biosphere 2 on the web at or in Arizona some 20 minutes north of Tucson.

Now, where else can I travel on Al Gore’s highway this afternoon?

Please note, the photo posted here is by Colin Gregory Palmer

I wasn’t going to weigh-in on this issue, but I’m compelled this morning. No, there was nothing that set me off, but rather the building buzz.

On the ballot come November here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we will have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to the Constitution of Virginia. Here’s the ballot question:


Question: Shall Article I (the Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to state:

“That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.”?

I’m not going to get into a discussion of gay marriage… but I will go here: this ammendment goes too far. It would be one thing if the ammendment stopped at the first sentence. Perhaps I’d have heartburn with that, even, but the way it is written, it goes to far. As I read this, and as plenty of other people read it, two unmarried people, under this construct, cannot have agreements about health care or finances or property. Partnerships would be at risk. As noted elsewhere, the ammendment would “prohibit the state and its localities from providing any legal recognition to any relationship between unmarried individuals.”

This is, I believe, a case where those who wrote the measure had too much law school training (although perhaps not; these lawyers see the holes) and too much ambition. Keep it simple.

In the mean time, join me and Vote No on Number One

For information, see the Commonwealth Coalition, this op-ed piece in the Daily Press, and a great article in the Cavalier Daily. For up-to-minute on talk about the ammendment on the web, search Google

In the mean time, vote no, and send those who favor an ammendment to ban same sex marriage to go back to the drawing board and craft something that doesn’t go over the top.

Originally uploaded by ‘Scratch’Well, turns out that Jack is not going to be number 300 million… the clock at the Census Bureau turns over today in less than 2 hours.

The nation’s population is scheduled to officially hit 300 million at 7:46 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, when the Census Bureau’s population clock rolls over to the big number.

But don’t expect wild celebrations, fireworks or any other government-sponsored hoopla to mark the milestone. Why bother? Many experts think the population actually hit 300 million months ago.

And here is my favorite line of the story: “This year, there’s a good chance the 300 millionth American has already walked across the border from Mexico.”

Note to self: This isn’t your parents’ America any more. The times, they are a changing… for sure.

My MySpace friends
Originally uploaded by tr1stanGreat read over at Wired about an undercover operation to catch sexual predators.

The computer crimes unit of New York’s Suffolk County Police Department sits in a gloomy government office canopied by water-stained ceiling tiles and stuffed with battered Dell desktops. A mix of file folders, notes, mug shots and printouts form a loose topsoil on the desks, which jostle shoulder-to-shoulder for space on the scuffed and dented floor.

I’ve been invited here to witness the end-game of a police investigation that grew from 1,000 lines of computer code I wrote and executed some five months earlier. The automated script searched MySpace’s 1 million-plus profiles for registered sex offenders — and soon found one that was back on the prowl for seriously underage boys.

Kevin Poulsen’s code compared registered MySpace accounts, along with associated zip codes, with names in the national sex offender database. As such, he was able to only hone in on offenders who used their real name on MySpace, and he was able to only target past offenders.

Of course, this is more than MySpace has been able to do. They wring their hands and wait for the laws to change.

Nothing like being proactive, eh?

In Poulsen’s reporting, he notes that the offender, Andrew Lubrano, a 39-year old living on Long Island, has been in conversation with Jacob, a gay 14-year-old high school student in Virginia, who reports his age as 16 in his profile.

But, with all the possible bad with MySpace, Poulsen does note some good.

In the final analysis, I still believe MySpace is good for kids. Jacob, the boy Lubrano most flagrantly courted, provides a clear example of the site’s benefits, as well as its flaws. When the teen recently got in trouble with homophobic bullies at his high school, he came home to MySpace, and quickly garnered an outpouring of sympathy and advice from his friends. Any reaction to the incidents of MySpace predation that would rob Jacob and other children of the promise of such self-expression and support is suspect.

Watch our children. And keep the predators off of MySapce…

Originally uploaded by ‘Scratch’Stinson Boy Number Four, when he arrives in about a week, could be American Number 300,000,000…

From the Washington Post

Clicking upward at a rate of one person every 11 seconds, the U.S. population will officially surpass 300 million in the next week or so.

And, now, the photo is not of JGS: he’s still in the oven. The photo is Benjamin Charles Gregory — born October 12, 2006, weighing 8lb 12oz, at 20″ — of Edmonton, Canada. Ben doesn’t count in the 300 Million as he remains north of the border.

2005 Juneau – coast guard
Originally uploaded by mradulovichWell, if you can’t get an agency to do what you want, make the money talk, I guess.

The Coast Guard recently started a program whereby all boat crews with mounted weapons must shoot an underway course of fire for qualification. This is a pretty big change for the Coast Guard; as the caption on this phone notes, “Uncle Sam now comes armed with a big machine gun.” The hope, of course, is that Uncle Sam knows how to shoot it safely without killing any good guys.

The Coast Guard was going to implement more than 30 safety zones for firing on the Great Lakes. This has people up in arms; who wants live firing all over the Great Lakes, anyway? Well, the Coast Guard does, at least to get people qualified and current. There’s an uproar.

Now I read that Congress, while not stopping the practice, has decided to ensure the Coast Guard gets the word out before any live firing underway.

From the Bay City Times:

The U.S. Coast Guard will have to do more than just broadcast notice of live-fire training exercises on marine band radio under a new Department of Homeland Security bill, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, has announced.

This year’s funding bill for the department includes a provision requiring the Coast Guard to provide public notice of training exercises on marine band radio, and also notify harbor masters and the local media, a Stupak spokesman said.

Stupak worked with U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wis., to have the provision inserted. Both congressman said they think the change will help keep the public safe.

The bill has been passed and signed into law by President Bush.

”Many recreational fishermen do not have the radios, so it is imperative that the Coast Guard provide as much notice as possible,” Stupak said in a statement. ”This legislation will ensure that, at minimum, the Coast Guard employs other methods of communication to put out the word that they will be conducting a live-fire exercise.”

The Coast Guard wants to establish 34 permanent ”safety zones” throughout the lakes that will be used periodically for training exercises with machine guns.

Well, that’s one way to get my attention: attach measures to my wallet…

Turns out the plane crash earlier this week was captured on film by Coast Guard video cameras operated by the Vessel Traffic System in New York. From WABC in New York:

The video of the impact from the fatal plane crash on the Upper East Side is from a camera that, until now, has been secret. It turns out the Coast Guard quietly installed several security cameras and trained them on the waterways surrounding Manhattan.

One of those cameras captured the crash impact. Now, we take you on a rare look inside the Coast Guard command center to see those monitors.
When a barge exploded just off Staten Island three years ago, a vast network of Coast Guard cameras captured everything — just as they captured dramatic video of Cory Lidle’s plane plunging into a Manhattan high-rise.

That tragic crash was witnessed by members of the United States Coast Guards’ Vessel Traffic Center.

Located at Staten Island’s Fort Wadsworth, this is a nerve center where highly trained civilian and uniformed members of the Coast Guard monitor cameras and remote radar sites along New York and New Jersey’s waterways.

When the plane hit …

“The USCG was the first to respond,” an official said.

Coast Guard officials say they responded by sealing off the waterway near the scene and notifying other law enforcement agencies.

Patrick Mannion, United States Coast Guard: “The plane was flying low enough that we were able to see it approach the building and actually strike the building.”

Check out the WABC article and watch the newscast report which includes the hazy images captured by the Coast Guard cameras.Here’s a tale of two guys who are lucky.

East Greenbush geologist Mark Zdunczyk found himself on unfamiliar ground five days ago — stranded on a deserted beach, surrounded by miles of water and countless other featureless, sandy islands in the ocean.

He and his pilot had survived their twin-engine charter plane crashing into the clear, subtropical waters off the Bahamas. But Zdunczyk was hurt and their rescue hinged on a mayday call uttered by the pilot, John Bettencourt of Miami.

Sure, I’ll give the controllers kudos… and the pilot for getting off a quick Mayday. However, they’re lucky, too. You can find several articles, with different pictures, here.
# 355/11 Hear no evil see no evil speak no evil
Originally uploaded by breeherneNo doubt about it.

Charles Carl Roberts IV, after barricading the doors and dismissing all but the 10 Amish girls, pointed his gun at the children.

“I’m going to make you pay for my daughter,’’ state police said Roberts told them.

Police believe Roberts intended to sexually assault the girls, based on lubricating jelly they found in his belongings that morning…

And if there is evil in this world, then surely there is good, too.

They stood strong and defiant until the end. The older Amish girls bravely supporting and encouraging one another in the face of an irrational, angry gunman….

There was fear in the schoolhouse, but also a protectiveness, with the older girls looking out for the little ones…

This morning, in an attempt to help bring closure to the terror, the school house where the attack took place was torn town. Built by hand, the building was leveled by machinery.

Workers with heavy machinery rather than hand tools moved in before dawn Thursday and demolished the one-room Amish schoolhouse where a gunman fatally shot five girls and wounded five others.

Construction lights glared in the mist as a large backhoe tore into the overhang of the school’s porch around 4:45 a.m., then knocked down the bell tower and toppled the walls. Within 15 minutes, the building was reduced to a pile of rubble. By 7:30 a.m., the debris was gone, leaving just a bare patch of earth.

According to the wire article, the plan is to leave a quiet pasture where the schoolhouse stood.

May goodness and peace be in that pasture… and in the hearts of all who were touched by this horrific event.

Dollar bills
Originally uploaded by Martin KusslerI’m a huge fan of transparency… and I just stumbled onto this new website, Want to know where your tax dollars are going? Cruise FedSending and get lost in the details. Here’s what the website says:

You have a right to know how the federal government spends its money.
This website, created by OMB Watch, is a free, searchable database of federal government spending. To begin searching, select either the Grants or Contracts tab at the top left side of this page. You can easily switch back and forth as you search.

The data below on total federal spending was taken directly from the database. With over $12 trillion in federal spending, this more open and accessible tool for citizens to find out where federal money goes and who gets it is long overdue. We believe this website is a good first step toward providing that access.

I think it’s a darn good first step… And I really liked the next bit from the website:

We hope you will explore this site. But mostly we hope you will use the data to hold our elected leaders and government agencies accountable for their actions.

Hmmm…. Anyway, surf on over and check it out… and see where the money for your favorite federal agency went…

I came across this article in the Washington Post, In Marine’s Death, Clues to a Son’s Life: Mother Finds Answers In Effort to Understand Sergeant Killed in Iraq, and was deeply touched. This is worth a read. In part, the message for me is clear: there is no black and white, only shades of grey. Read about Gilda Carbonaro and her son Alessandro and his fellow Marines. No easy answers, particularly for those serve in uniform and their families. Frankly, I think our elected officials think there are easy answers and that the world is black and white. They’re wrong.
Amish funeral procession
Originally uploaded by 70stangCame across this article, The Amish Response to Terrorism, and was struck by this:

If there is a greater purpose to be salvaged from this otherwise shattering act of violence at the Amish school, it is to dramatize before the world that there is a truly Christian – indeed, an enlightened – response to acts of terrorism which puts to shame our official national response of bitter, endless war justified in stunning hypocrisy by jaws flapping with empty Christian rhetoric.


Do check out D. D. Delany’s piece in Portfolio.

Washington DC Sniper 2
Originally uploaded by Bill RiniFrom the wire today, about Lee Boyd Malvo who is seeking to reach a global resolution all legal problems. He’s got a vision.

Turns out his former mentor, John Allen Muhammad, had a vision, too

In May, while helping prosecutors win convictions against Muhammad, Malvo gave two days of riveting testimony that provided the first insider account of the duo’s three-week rampage across the Washington region, shooting random victims with a rifle while using a beat-up Chevrolet Caprice as cover.

Malvo said Muhammad wanted to use it to extort $10 million and wreak havoc. He described how they mapped out shooting sites and worked as a team — one spotting random victims, the other firing the .223-caliber rifle.

He also laid out Muhammad’s grander scheme to shoot as many as six people each day for a month, target school buses and police with explosives, and set up a camp in Canada where homeless children would be trained as terrorists.

Set up a camp in Canada where they would train homless children as terrorists? Wow; vision. Maybe before the Commonwealth of Virginia fries Muhammad, he could offer workshops on visioning.

Originally uploaded by POONDOGI find this of interest. Remember back a few years ago? “You’re either with us or against us…” That was President Bush in November 2001 in a joint news conference with French President Jacques Chirac. In church a couple weeks ago, the Gospel was from Mark. See 9:40: “Whoever is not against us is for us.”

Hmm…. Was the President looking to quote — or misquote, as it turns out — Jesus? Or were we just seeing into President Bush’s paradigm of the world?

Originally uploaded by nidhingpoothullySometimes I come across a news item that seems so far-fetched I have a difficult time believing the story:

Indians flee as elephants search for dead friend… Thousands of people in eastern India have fled their homes in fear as elephants crash through villages looking for one of their herd, which fell into a ditch and drowned over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

Marauding, pissed-off, grieving elephants? I don’t think I could make that up.

Black Dresses V – Finale
Originally uploaded by LightscapesSometimes the news just hits me in a quirky way, and I wonder if if there’s synchronisity or if the items aren’t related.

From the New York Times, this gem on a former high school guidance counselor

Many in this gray, insular city are at a loss to explain why Diane Cherchio West was allowed to continue working in the public school system for two decades after she was caught in 1980 kissing and groping a 13-year-old student at an eighth-grade dance.

Why, after her promotion to guidance counselor at Bayonne High School, no one alerted social services, school officials or the police when she became pregnant by an 11th grader she supervised, Steven West, and married him upon his graduation in 1985.

Or why, when that baby, Steven Jr., grew to be a teenager, no one balked as his 15-year-old friend moved in with Ms. West, who then seduced the friend with Scooby-Doo boxer shorts and evening jaunts to sports bars and used her school authority to rearrange his classes around their secret trysts.

And then from Reuters, this report on dressing to impress:

Women dress to impress when they are at their most fertile, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday in a study they say shows that signs of human ovulation may not be as mysterious as some scientists believe.

A study of young college women showed they frequently wore more fashionable or flashier clothing and jewelery when they were ovulating, as assessed by a panel of men and women looking at their photographs.

“They tend to put on skirts instead of pants, show more skin and generally dress more fashionably,” said Martie Haselton, a communication studies and psychology expert at the University of California Los Angeles who led the study.

Writing in the journal Hormones and Behavior, Haselton and colleagues said their findings disproved the conventional wisdom that women are unique among animals in concealing, even from themselves, when they are most fertile.

I’m not sure this is news, however… I’m wondering what Ms. Diane Cherchio West wore to school, she with her “fashion sense and fluency in pop culture” which “made her a hit with students.”

A note on the picture with this post. This is from a photographer on flickr; her flickrname is Lightscapes. This is what she had to say about this photograph:

With the models all dressed up nicely, the shoot took on a different feel–they seemed to have more confidence and a different aura about them. Usually dressing up does that to people. That’s why I rarely if ever do casual shoots because there’s usually nothing special about them.

Most models I’ve worked with actually like dressing up for a shoot because it’s something they don’t do that often. When the extra effort is put in the results almost always end up amazing. 😉

Here’s one path I’m not going to walk down: “more confidence and a different aura about them” and “They tend to put on skirts instead of pants, show more skin and generally dress more fashionably.” Nope. Not heading down that path…

George Allen
Originally uploaded by ruddykThe good news for George Allen is that the whole macacca thing is behind him… as is the issue of his geneology… and the whole did-he-use-the-N-word…

The bad news is that now it’s his ethics which are in question

For the past five years, Sen. George Allen, has failed to tell Congress about stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. The Virginia Republican also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options.

Congressional rules require senators to disclose to the Senate all deferred compensation, such as stock options. The rules also urge senators to avoid taking any official action that could benefit them financially or appear to do so.

For me, however, the thing that really tasted bad was buried way down toward the bottom of the article:

As Virginia’s governor, Allen took representatives of Xybernaut and Ericsson on trade missions. He helped steer $4 million in tax-exempt bonds to Commonwealth for new headquarters and announced an $800,000 state grant to help Lynchburg, Va., prepare a site for an Ericsson expansion.

Then he went to work for those companies.

Bet Senator Allen is just wishing he were still dealing with an American of Indian-descent born in Northern Virginia.

Looking Down (Field)
Originally uploaded by O CaritasI was never a big fan of aritificial turf. Perhaps that marks me as an old man, I’m not sure. Perhaps it dates me. In either event, seems that artificial turf is making inroads at high schools.

But Centerville has joined the growing ranks of high schools around the nation that have replaced grass fields with a new generation of synthetic turf that sheds water, requires little maintenance and can be used around the clock by football, soccer and field hockey teams as well as bands and clubs.

Even though they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time when most school budgets are under pressure, schools from Ohio to California are putting in the new turf as a long-term investment. In many cases, they’re getting help from boosters and other private donors.

I remember that turf in the old days was rock-hard; or maybe that was cement-hard. Whatever; it was not a pleasure to play on.

Crushed stone provides the base for the newest generation of artificial turf. Small porous mats, to which the grass-like fibers are attached, are laid out and sewn together. Sand and tiny rubber pellets designed to simulate soil are poured over the top and settle at the base of the fibers.

Perhaps the days of ruined knees and ankles are over?

Avery Point
Originally uploaded by eclectic echoesFor as long as I can remember, the Coast Guard has had offices in Groton, Connecticut. Currently the R&D; Center, the Ice Patrol, and the Marine Safety Lab are at Avery Point in Groton, located on UCONN’s campus. Looks like the CG may be consolidating forces in New London, headed to Fort Trumbull where I served eons ago at Station New London.

The General Services Administration issued a request for proposals Thursday for the relocation of the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center from the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus in Groton to New London.

The GSA request is a sole-source procurement –– a non-competitive process –– that specifically seeks to locate the R&D; center to the Fort Trumbull peninsula in Building 2, an office building formerly part of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. The Coast Guard is interested in leasing 50,000 square feet of the 90,000-square-foot building for the R&D; center for 15 years, New London Development Corp. President Michael Joplin said Friday.

The request for proposals indicates that the Coast Guard has targeted Building 2 for its new location, but it is not a commitment to locate there, Joplin said. The GSA would have to reach a lease agreement with developer Corcoran Jennison, which has a 98-year ground lease with the city for the property. The company must respond to the GSA request within a fixed period of time.

But Avery Point is so pretty…

I loved this… the mayor of New London has said the move “would be another win for the city’s intellectual community.”

New London? Intellectual community?

Did I miss something, somewhere?


Originally uploaded by a_man_da_3880All I can say is this: I’m just glad his cap doesn’t read “USCG.”

Originally uploaded by Tidewater MuseFound this family-oriented review of THE GUARDIAN by Jane Horwitz:

“The Guardian” offers a salute to the U.S. Coast Guard and its elite Rescue Swimmers (who earned much praise in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina). The movie blends harrowing portrayals of high-seas rescues and rigorous training exercises with an utterly cliched story. Luckily, the protagonists are played by likable lugs Kevin Costner, whose weathering features and laid-back acting are always a kick, and Ashton Kutcher, who exhibits, at long last, some grit as an actor. Many teens will appreciate the movie’s sincerity and action. “The Guardian” is about angry seas and the heroes who pluck people out of them – nothing more – with a surprisingly corny (even for this film), pseudo-mythic ending. In addition to the nongraphic depiction of drownings, near-drownings and injuries, the film shows a fiery helicopter crash, bar fights, implied overnight trysts, a comic bedroom scene with very muted sexuality, beer drinking and midrange profanity.

Mid-range profanity? Costner’s character speaks like a Senior Chief who forgot how to cuss… Once, he utters the f-word. Last time I sat through a conversation with a Senior Chief he was able to use that word as every part of speech, including an adverb.


Sorry. I digress… Anyway, I went to THE GUARDIAN with my twelve year old son; it was plenty appropriate.

The pic with this post is from Atlantic City and is an official CG photo taken from the front page of the USCG website, today, at