I can’t decide

January 31, 2008

Hillary & John
Originally uploaded by mikelu128 It’s not that I can’t decide who to vote for now that candidates are dropping like flies. I can’t decide which primary to vote in come Super Tuesday.

Thank goodness here in Virginia, we have that problem.

Rabbit Proof Fence
Originally uploaded by Biro LevyAnd now this from Derek Slater, a Policy Analyst posting on the Google Public Policy Blog:

Broadband deployment in the U.S. is at best disappointing and at worst a crisis. The United States lags behind other countries in broadband uptake per capita, ranked 15th in the latest Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and Development (OECD) data. While consumers in Sweden and Japan are starting to zoom ahead with 20 and even 90 megabit/second connections delivered over fiber connections, U.S. consumers pay more for less, with only DSL and cable available in most markets. Some rural areas lack broadband altogether.

And we want to be on top in the flat world?

Not going to happen like this, that’s for sure.

Originally uploaded by JasonCrossOnly in America, the developed nation with the worst high-speed bandwidth infrastructure in the world, would we be taking a step backward like this: Time Warner Cable is trying out a new pricing strategy for users in Beaumont, Texas. The catch: pay per gigabyte used.

Oh, sweet. Rather than working to open the pipes, let’s figure out how to make the Internet experience more painful.

This is the wrong direction, folks. If we want to keep ahead (or even abreast) in this world, we need bigger pipes at cheaper prices.

Plain and simple.

… but it does make me wonder.

This is the care and transport of ballots from the recent New Hampshire primaries:

At least it’s likely more difficult to mess with the paper ballots than some pure electronic process… but I have to think that in this day and age, we can’t come up with a process that ensures the integrity of the voting process.

More information, including enough material to make sense of my ramblings and the meaning of all this, at Black Box Voting

H/T to Sam Smith at Undernews

The word on the street is that the Lincoln Property Company from Texas, which had successfully entered a proposal for the redevelopment of the Holiday Inn site in Olde Towne Portsmouth, has not been able to pull together the financing to make a go of the project.

Thank goodness, frankly.

Oh, it’s not that I don’t want to see the site developed. It’s just that I really didn’t have a good taste in my mouth about Lincoln and their proposal. I’m sure their project would have been satisfactory, but not much more.

And, I should note, this is based on nothing more than gut; I have not fully analyzed the various proposals.

Just up the street from the Holiday Inn, The Myrtles at Olde Towne is thriving. Why do I bring up The Myrtles? Well, the primary developer for that project, along with the renovation of what is now The Heights, was a guy named Daniel Aston. And Mr. Aston, so the scuttle is, is now primed to have his proposal for the Holiday Inn site accepted.

(Sidebar: The Heights was sold recently. So was The Myrtles. Both deals closed a little over a month ago.)

If you look at The Myrtles, along with the other development that Mr. Aston has been involved in in Park View and elsewhere, and you get the sense that he looks to build something of value, and he looks to add value to the community, and he looks to work to maximize the projects.

From what I’ve been able to find on the Net, Mr. Aston came to Portsmouth shortly after 9/11. If that is indeed the case, he came and poured money into the city when the economy was suffering from the reverberations of the terror attacks.

I have never met Mr. Aston, but from what I’ve found, he’s associated with the Roseland Property Company, which has projects from here to New England. He’s also a managing partner for the Olde Towne Company, which has built (and is building) fine homes in Parkview and elsewhere in Portsmouth. I don’t know which entity had put the proposal in on the Holiday Inn site, but I suspect it was Roseland; they did The Myrtles and The Heights. My understanding is that their runner-up proposal for the Holiday Inn waterfront site actually looked to link up with the marina and enlarge the marina as well as provide high end, mixed-use buildings (towers, mid-rise, and several story structures) which would fit with the character of the Norfolk/Portsmouth river front and complement the historic structures in Olde Towne.

I guess we’ll just have to see what transpires.

Comments and scuttle, anyone?

Photo lifted from Virginia Marine Structures, Inc., a company that specializes in building marine structures. Like marinas. Wharfs. Piers. You get the idea.
The Bucket List
Originally uploaded by wbmoviesSaw The Bucket List last night at the Commodore. A darn fine movie that speaks volumes. See it. Please.

text messages of love
From sean dreilingerNo, not the former president. Today the lesson comes from Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick of Detroit, brought to us from the Associated Press by way of the New York Times. Texting

I’ve been dreaming all day about having you all to myself for 3 days. Relaxing, laughing, talking, sleeping and making love.

to a subordinate is not an indicator of “romantic ties” or a “romantic relationship.”

Another fine line: sex is sex and romance is romance and never the two shall meet.

I am so glad that I have learned from politicians what the definition of is is.

See the Detroit Free Press for the details on this latest new twist on what is and what is not.

That last post was my 2,000th post here at Tidewater Musings (or so Blogger tells me), and I used it for cheap self-promotion.

What a missed opportunity. Oh, well, maybe when I get to 3,000…

One possible alternative
Uploaded by andrewEver wonder what will be happening a year from now? Who will be president? How will the economy be? Well, wonder no more, as the future is playing out over at Nothing is Just One Thing, a blog by Paul and Genevra McNeil. In Nothing is Just One Thing, the year is 2009, exactly a year from now. They paint a picture no one wants to see… well, no one except for a few power-hungry inside the Beltway folks.

I’ve tried my hand at alternative history with An American War: An Alternate History. Fourteen posts in eight months. I suck. Paul and Genevra, they don’t suck. They post daily to let us know what is going on.

In short, in the McNeil alternate world, President Bush cancelled the elections and remains POTUS, with no end in sight.

I know, you think we’re not Pakistan. Well, who’d have thought that the dangling chad fiasco could ever happen in the US of A?

Perhaps you think there’s no way this is how the future is going to look; I don’t think the world the McNeils paint is all that unplausible.

Check out Nothing is Just One Thing; I’d suggest finding the bottom of the blog and working forward. At least in the McNeil universe, free speech, at least in the blogosphere, hasn’t been curtailed. When that happens, well, the missives from the future will come to a screetching halt.

And, again, some of us think that’s not possible. I say, think again.

Mitt Romney
Originally uploaded by 4PresidentOver at Snopes, there’s a tale about Mitt Romney. The claim is that Governor Romney once made a 12-hour trip with his dog, Seamus, in a cage tied to the top of the car.

Urban legend. Is it true or false?


And, now, I know three facts about Mitt Romney.

1. He’s running for President as a republican.

2. He was once the governor of Massachusetts, my place of birth.

3. In 1983 he tied his dog to the roof of the family car for a 12-hour trip from Massachusetts to Canada along the shores of Lake Huron.

I clearly need to get out more.

*Cinnamon straw
Originally uploaded by Darwin BellNo, this post is neither about pizza nor porn. It’s just that I had a conversation this afternoon with a colleague and she told me that the pizza business and the porn business were both booming and a way to make quick money.

Pizza and porn?

No, this post is really about a new online tool into which you can fall: the Center for Public Integrity’s database “of every public statement made by President Bush and his key advisers about Iraq, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction, from just after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, until after the fall of Baghdad.”

John H. Cushman Jr. notes in The Lede

For all the power of search engines and Boolean logic, and for all the foregone conclusion of the enterprise, there’s still an element of serendipity in this kind of approach to reliving the past. You never know what you’ll come up with. You might not even be all that sure what, precisely, you are looking for. Even knowing that every single document in this compilation has been published elsewhere already, it’s inevitable that you’ll find something to raise your eyebrows.

One striking feature of the material in the data base was the sheer opacity of some of what important people were saying, based on intelligence that most people now acknowledge was spurious.

Opacity? Spurious? Damn, it’s time for me to break out the dictionary.

Nah, maybe I’ll just order pizza from Chanello’s and stop by the mom & pop video rental store.

Fred Thompson
From taylorchristianjonesFrom the Associated Press by way of the Washington Post:

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson quit the Republican presidential race on Tuesday, after a string of poor finishes in early primary and caucus states.

“Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort,” Thompson said in a statement.

Okay, he was in the race, but was he running?

I’ll say this, however: He’s damn presidential, if you ask me.

Will he go back to Law & Order?

view from 425 Bixby
Originally uploaded by aroidA former president of my undergraduate alma mater seems to have found someone in the media biz who’s out to lambaste at any opportunity.

Dave Wedge writes in Dobelle prize: Next cushy job

Former Pittsfield mayor Evan Dobelle’s taxpayer-funded gravy train was generously refueled when the ousted University of Hawaii president started a cushy new gig as head of Westfield State College this week.

The Porsche-driving college prez was raking in $442,000 a year at UHawaii until 2004, when the school’s board of regents tired of his travel junkets, $40,000 in golf club memberships and other questionable uses of college funds, according to published reports.

And Mr. Wedge doesn’t let up.

Almost seems as if it’s somehow personal.

Photo by Bruce Jackson & Diane Christian
Death Row, uploaded by DERAdam Liptak writes in the New York Times, Lawyer Reveals Secret, Toppling Death Sentence:

For 10 years, Leslie P. Smith, a Virginia lawyer, reluctantly kept a secret because the authorities on legal ethics told him he had no choice, even though his information could save the life of a man on death row, one whose case had led to a landmark Supreme Court decision.

Mr. Smith believed that prosecutors had committed brazen misconduct by coaching a witness and hiding it from the defense, but the Virginia State Bar said he was bound by legal ethics rules not to bring up the matter.

Turns out the case was from just up the road a bit in Yorktown.

And I had to read this in the New York Times? Has it been in the Pilot or the Press or in somebody’s blog?

The Girls And The Tiger
Originally uploaded by Stephen Newton 47Yes, this is just one that I’m not willing to let go.

I was looking for a picture for this post, and I found two that were very appropriate, but neither had the automatic “blog this” button.

One, titled Kid Taunting a Tiger had this for a cutline: “The tigers were kind of chasing and lunging at these two kids that kept running alongside the glass. It was kind of disturbing. They even growled at the kids. ”

A the other, Don’t taunt the tiger…., the cutline was “This was shortly before he jumped up and thew his body against the glass… ”

But those aren’t what this post is about. This post is actually about Mike Nizza’s piece over at The Lede: Taunting Evidence Intensifies the Tiger Case. Mr. Nizza reports,

Was the tiger taunted? The San Francisco police’s first answer was found in a court document obtained by The San Francisco Chronicle:

“As a result of this investigation, (police believe) that the tiger may have been taunted/agitated by its eventual victims,” [Inspector Valerie Matthews, the lead investigator in the case] wrote in the affidavit. Police believe that “this factor contributed to the tiger escaping from its enclosure and attacking its victims,” she said.

“… This behavior may be consistent with a tiger that has been agitated and/or taunted.”

The evidence apparently includes statements made by Paul Dhaliwal, one of the three young men attacked by the tiger at the zoo on Christmas Day, to the effect that the trio — Paul and his brother Kulbir and a friend, Carlos Sousa Jr. — were “standing on the railing” and “waving their hands and yelling at the tiger” before the attack. The brothers suffered head wounds; Mr. Sousa was killed.

What I find even more fascinating than Mr. Nizza’s writing are the 117 comments posted by readers. Do check it out: about half the folks agree with this poster,

Some stoned guys acting inappropriately. This is roughly the same as playing with fire. You already know it can burn you but you stick your finger in it anyway.

The other half blame the zoo. Nobody seems to be blaming Tatiana.
Four days after visiting the Port of Philadelphia, President Bush visited Camp Lejeune. It was April 3rd, 2003, and the color of the day was green, Marine Corps green.

See this series of photos by Logan Mock-Bunting; I have yet to be find someone (other than the President and the First Lady) who isn’t uniform.

Cross-posted at An Unofficial Coast Guard BlogCDR Salamander has suggested, based on a photograph of a group of senior Air Force officers, the Navy is no longer top on the list of “service with uniform issues.” Issues. You know. Uniforms are supposed to make members of the service uniform, but there are so many variations on uniforms that members are never uniform.

I think CDR Salamander forgot about President Bush’s visit to Philadelphia in March 2003. This was a major photo event for the Coast Guard, and you’d think we’d look are best. We did. Sadly, this is our best:
Where two or three Coasties are gathered together… are two or three different uniform variations.

Cross-posted at An Unofficial Coast Guard Blog.
Euros 50mm f/2.8
Originally uploaded by nathangibbs… although I’m not sure exactly what.

Sewell Chan from the New York Times asks, “Staying Current on Currency: Another Day, Another Euro?” He reports,

East Village Wines, a liquor store at 138 First Avenue (New York, New York), accepts payments in euros as well as dollars.

That’s right: They take euros… I’m thinking that it was once that US dollars were the international currency… and now right here in the US of A, euros are accepted. I don’t think we’re the lead dog anymore.

meh… clouds…
Originally uploaded by jpstanley… and that may (or may not) include us, here on earth.

Dave Finley at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is a facility of the National Science Foundation, tells us it’s going to be fireworks.

A giant cloud of hydrogen gas is speeding toward a collision with our Milky Way Galaxy, and when it hits …. it may set off a spectacular burst of stellar fireworks.

“The leading edge of this cloud is already interacting with gas from our Galaxy,” said Felix J. Lockman, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), leader of a team of astronomers who used the National Science Foundation’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) to study the object. The scientists presented their findings to the American Astronomical Society’s meeting in Austin, Texas.

Don’t pack your bags and look for a ride off this rock just yet… It’s not due too soon… not for another 40 million years or so.

Originally uploaded by sdanos07Sometimes, we’re just called to go against the book.

In the case of the Missing Marine

Onslow County District Attorney Dewey Hudson said he has no plans to step aside for a military prosecution. That makes it unlikely that Laurean would be prosecuted under the federal fetal homicide law passed in 2004 during the height of attention to the California trial of Scott Peterson, who was accused of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci. The law makes it a crime to harm a fetus during the assault of a pregnant woman.

The military could seek charges at the same time as civilian authorities, said Scott Silliman, a former military lawyer who is now director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University. But a joint prosecution is not recommended by the military’s manual for courts-martial, Silliman said.

I say this might be a reasonable situation for a joint prosecution.

And yes, this is a case where justice trumps mercy.

Ninja Tunes
Originally uploaded by dElayI need to start moving; perhaps this is what I need: fartlek on steroids, or parkour.

Any other takers?

Photo by rcreno1 (at) verizon dot net.
Charles Darwin
Uploaded by CATRBetter than the new phone book, the latest Darwin Award recipients have been named.

The stories include “Coitus Interruptus” and “The Enema Within.

Perhaps you thought the premise of I AM LEGEND, currently playing in theatres and featuring Will Smith, was far-fetched. I mean, come on, a cure for cancer in 2009?

From the University of Florida

A Brazilian berry popular in health food contains antioxidants that destroyed cultured human cancer cells in a recent University of Florida study, one of the first to investigate the fruit’s purported benefits.

Published today in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the study showed extracts from acai (ah-SAH’-ee) berries triggered a self-destruct response in up to 86 percent of leukemia cells tested, said Stephen Talcott, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

I hope we have a real Richard Matheson ready to save humankind.This Associated Press report by Lara Jakes Jordan and Matt Apuzzo, FBI finds Blackwater trucks patched: Repairs to Blackwater Convoy Vehicles Could Complicate Baghdad Shooting Inquiry:

Blackwater Worldwide repaired and repainted its trucks immediately after a deadly September shooting in Baghdad, making it difficult to determine whether enemy gunfire provoked the attack, according to people familiar with the government’s investigation of the incident.

But of course. This is just a page from the play book of certain agencies within the federal government. What would we expect?
Regent University Front
Originally uploaded by Parnelli_97When I saw this, Maybe He Shouldn’t Have Spoken His Mind and glanced at the first line, T. Hayden Barnes opposed his university’s plan to build two large parking garages, I was certain I knew what university Mr. Barnes attended. I was wrong:

T. Hayden Barnes opposed his university’s plan to build two large parking garages with $30 million from students’ mandatory fees. So last spring, he did what any student activist would do: He posted fliers criticizing the plan, wrote mass e-mails to students, sent letters to administrators and wrote a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper. While that kind of campaign might be enough to annoy university officials, Barnes never thought it would get him expelled.

Rather than ignore him or set up a meeting with concerned students, Valdosta State University, in Georgia, informed Barnes, then a sophomore, that he had been “administratively withdrawn” effective May 7, 2007. In a letter apparently slipped under his dorm room door, Ronald Zaccari, the university’s president, wrote that he “present[ed] a clear and present danger to this campus” and referred to the “attached threatening document,” a printout of an image from an album on Barnes’s Facebook profile. The collage featured a picture of a parking garage, a photo of Zaccari, a bulldozer, the words “No Blood for Oil” and the title “S.A.V.E.-Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage,” a reference to a campus environmental group and Barnes’s contention that the president sought to make the structures part of his legacy at the university.

Oh, wait, I have a prognostication. I see the future… of reporting here on the southside… from our local newspaper:

Ronald Zaccari, president of Valdosta State University, expelled sophomore student T. Hayden Barnes, an opponent of the university’s plans to build two needed parking garages. At issue is the funding of this project; the funding stream is the student parking fee, assessed to all students. Parking is free for everyone, including guests of students and visitors to the university. He did what many student activists have done in the past, and then some. He posted fliers criticizing the plan, wrote mass e-mails to students, sent letters to administrators, and wrote a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper. Unlike the civil rights protestors of the 1960’s, Barnes’s fliers, emails, and letters used threatening language. While that kind of campaign might have been enough to annoy university officials forty years ago, in today’s violent world university’s must ensure threats are not a part of the campus environment. Barnes was “administratively withdrawn” effective May 7, 2007.

In a letter, Ronald Zaccari, the university’s president, wrote that Barnes “present[ed] a clear and present danger to this campus” and referred to the “attached threatening document,” a printout of a cluster of photographs on his Facebook profile. The collage featured a picture of a parking garage and other scenes around campus.

Hey, perhaps I could get a job at the paper!

It’s a Slippery Slope
Originally uploaded by OpenThreadsEver see those sci-fi movies that show a bleak future? You know the ones, where totalitarian states rule and citizens are nothing more than cattle. I remember one movie where everyone had an id bar code tattooed on their wrist.

We may be headed that way; we are no longer at the top of the long, slippery slope.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who unveiled final details of the REAL ID Act’s rules on Friday, said that if states want their licenses to remain valid for air travel after May 2008, those states must seek a waiver indicating they want more time to comply with the legislation.

After requiring federal ID for air travel, it’ll be bus and train travel. Then it will be crossing state boundaries. Then using interstate highways. Pretty soon, we’ll have checkpoints like my fictional, alternative history.

I’m waiting for Secretary Chertoff to post on his blog about today’s announcement.

Today is the six-year anniversary of the first arrival of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse… is likely more difficult than it appears…

Received yesterday from Unity 08

One of our principles at the outset of this audacious project was transparency and openness. Too often in our recent political history, what you see has not been what you get.

For this reason, we are writing you today to lay out the current status of Unity08 and its possible paths going forward.

First, however, it’s important to reflect upon what we have accomplished together in shaping the current political discussion and building a sense of what is possible in this crucial election year. Two of our core ideas, the importance of a centrist, bi-partisan approach to the solving of our nation’s problems and the possibility of an independent, unity ticket for the presidency, have already come from far-out to mainstream.

Barack Obama, for example, has made the theme of unity and the necessity of bridging the partisan divide an absolutely central theme of his campaign. And just last week, a group of former and present national office holders comprised of independents, Republicans and Democrats met in Oklahoma for the sole purpose of stating their belief that at the present perilous moment, a unity government is the only hope of solving the nation’s mounting problems. When you find agreement between the likes of former RNC chairman Bill Brock and Gary Hart, you’re onto something.

And, of course, waiting in the wings should the divide persist, is the potential of a serious non-partisan candidacy in the person of the Mayor of New York (two of our founders, Doug Bailey and Gerald Rafshoon, have stepped down from the board and may have more to say about their plans in the near future).

Can Unity08 take full credit for these remarkable developments? Of course not. But through this website, your active involvement, innumerable news stories, op-eds, and public appearances by friends like Sam Waterston, we certainly have helped to bring these ideas to the forefront of the current political discussion.

So in a larger sense, we have accomplished a major portion of what we set out to do. But in the specifics and logistics, we have fallen short.

At the current moment, we don’t have enough members or enough money to take the next step toward achieving ballot access in 50 states, reaching the goal of establishing our online convention, and nominating a Unity ticket for president and vice president this coming fall.

The past year has taught us that it’s tough to rally millions for a process without a candidate or an issue. In the past, third party movements that have broken through the monopoly of the established parties have always been based on a person (Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 or Ross Perot in the last decade) or a burning issue (slavery in the case of the insurgent Republican party in 1860). Motivating people to fix a broken system that drives candidates to the extremes by creating something more inclusive and sensible has proven to be a lot harder than we expected.

And the Federal Election Commission hasn’t helped. The Commission has taken the position that we are subject to their jurisdiction (even though two United States Supreme Court decisions hold exactly opposite) and, therefore, that we are limited to $5000 contributions from individuals (even though the Democratic and Republican Parties are able to receive $25,000 from individuals). Needless to say, this position by the FEC effectively limited our fundraising potential, especially in the crucial early going when we needed substantial money fast to get on with ballot access and the publicity necessary to build our membership.

We were caught in a peculiar catch-22; we wanted to break the dependence on big money by getting lots of small contributions from millions of members, but needed some up-front big money to help generate the millions of members to make the small contributions. And the FEC (in effect, an arm of the parties) didn’t let that happen. We have challenged this ruling in the federal courts, but are still awaiting a decision and time is running out.

And so reluctantly, especially given the volatility of the present situation, we’re forced to scale back, but not cease our operations, and suspend our ballot access project. Our website will become less interactive (it takes staff to answer hundreds of e-mails a day) and we can’t in good faith make the $5 million commitment necessary to make a serious start on ballot access.

But we’re not closing our doors. We believe it is important to see our case against the FEC through (both for Unity08 and any similar movement in the future) and be ready to gear up if (when) we win our case and political circumstances warrant later this spring. Unity is in the air right now, and Mayor Bloomberg seems poised to run on his own campaign (and the fact is that two independent candidacies wouldn’t work) if the parties leave the sensible center open. But all this could change in a matter of weeks.

We still believe strongly that we have the right idea, but it just might (emphasize “might” because who knows what can happen in the next month) not be the right time. In the meantime, a sincere, profound thanks for your help, involvement and support so far and please keep pushing for the simple, but very powerful, idea that solutions to our nation’s problems are going to take ideas and hard work from all Americans, and that a political system whose stock-in-trade is division may well be the biggest problem of all.

Please know that you have already made a difference and are at the forefront of a movement that may yet save the country.

Robert Bingham
Angus King
Peter Ackerman
Zach Clayton
Lindsay Ullman

Board of Directors, Unity08

This text is also on the Unity08 website. And, now, there’s nothing else on the site.

I’m still not sure what this means. I’ll have to mull it over.

Comments, anyone?

U.S. war games meant to send Iran message
Originally uploaded by Kier42Seems I might have been wrong about the Pentagon fabricating that video with the Iranian speedboats: U.S.: Voices on Recording May Not Have Been From Iranian Speedboats: Chilling Threat Could Have Come From the Shore or Another Ship, Navy Says.

Are we still certain the video is from this past weekend?

Check out the comment on The Lede made by a former Navy SWO (surface warfare officer); in part he says:

All ships at sea use a common UHF frequency, Channel 16, also known as “bridge-to bridge” radio. Over here, near the U.S., and throughout the Mediterranean, Ch. 16 is used pretty professionally, i.e., chatter is limited to shiphandling issues, identifying yourself, telling other ships what your intentions are to avoid mishaps, etc.

But over in the Gulf, Ch. 16 is like a bad CB radio. Everybody and their brother is on it; chattering away; hurling racial slurs, usually involving Filipinos (lots of Filipinos work in the area); curses involving your mother; 1970’s music broadcast in the wee hours (nothing odder than hearing The Carpenters 50 miles off the coast of Iran at 4 a.m.)

On Ch. 16, esp. in that section of the Gulf, slurs/threats/chatter/etc. is commonplace. So my first thought was that the “explode” comment might not have even come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility.

Hard to maintain the high ground when we have a huge credibility problem.

Anyway, I guess not only we destroy video, we create video, too.

The water in Portsmouth is pretty darn powerful, let me tell you.I try (really, I do) to keep away from the ad hominem attacks. However, this afternoon, I’m compelled.

From Katherine Sayre, staff reporter for the Press Register in Mobile, AL: Man says he threw tots off bridge

An Irvington man has confessed to killing his four children by throwing them off the Dauphin Island Bridge into the waters below, authorities said Tuesday.

Lam Luong, 37, was arrested on four counts of murder and was being transferred to Mobile County Metro Jail late Tuesday evening, police said.

Bayou La Batre police said Luong confessed to killing 4-month-old Danny Luong, 1-year-old Lindsey Luong, 2-year-old Hannah Luong, and 3-year-old Ryan Phan on Monday morning.

I’m not a proponent of the death penalty, but I’m thinking I could easily be convinced this afternoon.

As to why he tossed his children over the side of the bridge: “The acts appeared to be revenge aimed at Luong’s wife after the couple had a dispute.”

And, gentle reader, if you took offense at my comments about Cory Byron — and I know that at least one anonymous reader did — don’t even come to Mr. Luong’s defense. I don’t want to hear it. Anonymous wrote, about Cory Byron who jumped off a bridge killing a police dog,

were you there? do you know the whole story? no. you dont even know him, his mental condition, or his motive. how could you say such horrible things about a person based on what you have heard from the media…. where they are great at making stories one-sided.

Please, dear Anonymous, don’t comment here coming to another sicko’s defense. If you’re going to comment, at least stand up and post in the clear… so then I can really bring on the ad hominem attacks.Well, the Iranians have asserted that the U.S. Government fabricated the video of Iranian naval vessels harassing U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz. From Nazila Fathi at the New York Times, Iran Accuses U.S. of Faking Persian Gulf Video:

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard accused the United States on Wednesday of fabricating video showing armed Iranian speedboats confronting United States Navy warships in the Persian Gulf over the weekend, according to a report carried by the semi-official Fars news agency as well as state-run television.

“Images released by the U.S. Department of Defense about the navy vessels, the archive, and sounds on it are fabricated,” an unnamed Revolutionary Guard official said, according to Fars.

First off, the Iranians need to learn something: our government doesn’t fabricate video; our government destroys video.

The (Iranian) official said the sounds and the images on the video did not go together. “It is very clear that they are fake,” the official said.

The video and audio were recorded separately and then matched, Naval and Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

Sometimes we just don’t use our heads. Why did the Navy condense a 20 minute incident to 4 minutes and overdub the sound? Release the full, uncut and unedited video (removing anything that is classified). Don’t make sound bites. Be transparent.

Fabricated? I don’t think so. We do better destroying video.

Blue Star Moms
Photo by Gabby_WhiteFrom the most recent Military Handbooks newsletter:

The Blue Star Flag first appeared in 1917, when Captain Robert L. Queissner, who had two sons serving on the front line, designed it as a tribute to their dedication and service. He proudly displayed this flag in the front window of his home and the flag quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in the service. Also known as a Service Flag, the blue star stands for hope and pride. Order a complimentary Blue Star Flag to honor your loved ones in the service.

Notes the Grantham University offer,

Today, families who have a loved one serving in the military display a blue star flag in the inside front window of their homes to show the family’s pride in their loved one who is serving and to remind others that preserving America’s freedom demands much.

For more about the Blue Star Flag, see Blue Star Mothers of America.

Cross posted at An Unofficial Coast Guard Blog

bear on ice
Originally uploaded by Marlis1As if a decision is really going to make a difference. From Reuters we learn, “The United States delayed a decision on whether global warming threatens polar bears.”

Either it is. Or it isn’t. But, we know something is happening to the climate, otherwise why would the government be spending energy in gearing up for open maritime voyages in the Arctic region?

Less ice. Fewer weeks of ice. Less food. Those are observations already made.

Colbert Roasts Bush
Originally uploaded by tangentAside from the fact that the only television show I’ve found intriguing in years, NBC’s Journeyman, is going to die in part because of the writer’s strike, I don’t give a hoot much about the Writers’ Guild strike. I agree that they’re likely not getting a fair shake when it comes to new media and the conglomerates are taking advantage of them, but isn’t that what for-profit mega-businesses do?

The late night shows are coming back on the air, either under a bye from the WGA or without writers. The Comedy Central line-up reappeared last night.

An interesting tidbit from Bill Carter and Jacques Steinberg in the New York Times, Comedy Central Hosts Return to TV

Like the other hosts whose shows have been picketed by the guild, including Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien on NBC and Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert had been paying the salaries of nonwriting staff members out of their own pockets.

I wonder how long that sort of support will be coming to the writers. And aren’t they lucky that their bosses are so supportative. Not everyone is in the same boat, I’m sure.

Meantime, I’ve decided not to stop writing. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who wish I would stop and the WGA would start.

I wanted to pass along two videos I came across recently that I think would be of benefit to all the folks in the ever-shifting blogsophere. They’re both from Randy Pausch from Carnegie Mellon.

Well, he’s actually on a leave of absence from Carnegie Mellon and has moved to Chesapeake, Virginia, with his family.

Anyway, there are two talks he gave this past fall. Devout members of the blogosphere have likely seen one or both of them, or at least heard about them.

One is called “The Last Lecture” which is a Carnegie Mellon lecture series: if you had one last lecture to give… In his case, it is nearly his last lecture as he is dying from pancreatic cancer. It’s an awesome lecture about living life and succeeding at goals.

The second lecture is one that he evidently gave somewhat frequently, but gave again at UVA (where he was a professor before going to Pittsburgh) in November.

Both of these are worth the time to watch.

  • The Last Lecture
  • Time Management

For those who would like more information about Randy and his life and work, there’s plenty on the web. Here are a couple of sites.

  • A site by one of his mentees at UVA
  • Randy’s own site at CMU


Cross posted at An Unofficial Coast Guard Blog, A School to Call Home, and Coast Guard Performance ExcellenceHere we are, just days into the New Year, and I, like many of us, am wondering what the future will bring. Politics? International relations? Economy? Housing market?

How about transportation?

For some dreamers the Aeroscraft ML866 is the future of air travel.

From their website

The Aeroscraft is a buoyancy assisted air vehicle with a rigid structure and gas cells. The latest Aeros proprietary technologies – full authority direct organic lift control (FADOLC), dynamic buoyancy management system, innovative structure design and low speed control capability have resulted in the generation of a fourth type of air vehicle. The exceptional features of the Aeroscraft, such as vertical takeoff and landing, the capability to hover for extended periods of time, independence from airports, large size payload compartment, all weather operations and superb safety characteristics, demonstrate its unique place in the market.

No, I have now idea what all the mumbo-jumbo means, but it sounds great. And, it’s not all pie-in-the-sky dreaming. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awareded Aeros a Flight Demonstration Program contract.

Perhaps another couple of years, and these behemoths will be plying the skies in military, commercial, and civilian use.

In the mean time, I can see into the near future. In 12 hours, I’ll be back at work after 3 weeks out of the office.

Originally uploaded by soldiersmediacenterIs it possible to be covert if it’s covered in the New York Times… before it happens?

By Steven Lee Myers, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt: U.S. Considering New Covert Push Within Pakistan

Originally uploaded by Wally TortaI was breezing through Brian Stelter’s Noontime Web Video Revitalizes Lunch at the Desk when I stopped short:

The midday spike in Web traffic is not a new phenomenon, but media companies have started responding in a meaningful way over the last year. They are creating new shows, timing the posts to coincide with hunger pangs. And they are rejiggering the way they sell advertising online, recognizing that noontime programs can command a premium.

In 2007, a growing number of local television stations, including WNCN in Raleigh, N.C., and WCMH in Columbus, Ohio, began producing noon programming exclusively for the Web. Among newspapers, The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., and The Ventura County Star in California started posting videos at lunchtime that have young journalists as hosts and are meant to appeal to 18- to 34-year-old audiences.

Wow. The New York Times said something nice about the lil’ ol’ Virginian Pilot. And just in time as Landmark wants to unload the Pilot.

Voting booth
Originally uploaded by jeffclavierI look at the situation in Pakistan, and I think that a delayed national election could never happen here. Paul McNeil doesn’t have a difficult time imagining it. His blog, Nothing is Just One Thing, is an alternate history blog. Well, not really. It’s an alternate futures blog. He blogs as if it is a year from now, and in his vision of the America of twelve months from now, Bush is still president, and the elections have yet to be held. From the entry for Monday, January 5th, 2009:

Now that the holiday season is finally over, folks are starting to notice that they’ve gone a full two months without our scheduled elections. The media is getting over their holiday fluff pieces and stories bemoaning the poor Christmas sales. Congress is back in session and promises hearings, investigations, and legislation on the Halloween attacks, delayed election, and treatment of the Mall protesters.

Maybe, just maybe, we can get some more movement about all this.

At this point it is too late to hold elections and get a transition team in place before the 20th. It sounds like Bush has succeeded in extending his term by at least a little bit. A lot of Cantabridgians are staring at their Bush countdown calendars and and bumper stickers and key-chains with with increasing shock that Inauguration Day just may not be coming this year.

Read Nothing is Just One Thing, and you’ll likely feel as if the future isn’t that far away; we’re too close for comfort.

Let’s hope that Mr. McNeil is way, way wrong.

Mosque and Church
Originally uploaded by inkfeather
All rights reserved by inkfeather@aol.com
Used by permission.
Christians, Muslims, and Jews all worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But, Patrick J. Lyons at The Lede tells us in Malaysia, only Muslims may call the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “Allah.”


Allah is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

My God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

There is but one God.

My God is Allah.

I am not a Muslim, but my God is the same God as for a Muslim, and as for a Jew. We may worship differently. We may pray differently. But, for all of us, there is but one God, and this is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Keyed car door
Originally uploaded by klucniks… I read a post over at Scott’s Morning Brew about a Chicago attorney who keyed a Marine’s car because he was in the military.

From John Kass at the Chicago Tribune

Mike says, “Hey, what are you doing to my car? Open up your hand!” … And Grodner goes, “Fuck you! Just because you’re in the military you don’t run the roost!”

So, being the inquisitive guy that I am, I find his website address (http://www.jaygrodner.com/), and I get a Server not found error message, and I realize that I’m not the only inquisitive person who would like to learn more about this “Jay R. Grodner, 55, of Chicago.” His server must have been slammed.

The Way Back Machine has a copy, without the associated pictures, of his website. I don’t exactly understand what that The Price of Children story has to do with being an attorney. Perhaps he’s trying to show he’s not the “typical lawyer scum” that graces courtrooms around the world.

Well, I’ll take all those other attorneys as they at least wouldn’t disrespect a member of the armed forces.

Red Savina Habanero
Originally uploaded by Up Nort
From the Chicago office of Reuters we learn,

A Chicago tavern said on Thursday it will begin selling chicken wings coated in one of the world’s hottest peppers — a dish so hot that patrons first have to sign a waiver agreeing not to sue for injuries.

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap said the wings made with Red Savina pepper will be served with an alarm bell for patrons to summon waiters with sour cream, milk sugar and white bread if things get out of hand.

Of course, next time I go to Chicago, I’ll be headed to the Corner Tap to prove how manly I am.

Jumping Siberian Tiger, Tatiana
Originally uploaded by MumbleyJoeMike Nizza at The Lede at the NY Times asks, “Did a group of young men taunt a Siberian tiger before it escaped from its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day and attacked them?”

Of course not. The young men involved in Tatiana’s escape are totally blameless. Tigers escape from zoo enclosures on a daily basis. Tigers want nothing more than to escape from their enclosures and attack totally innocent people.

On a non-sarcastic note, Mr. Nizza writes that a witness has indicated that perhaps Tatiana ate the wrong person:

He wasn’t roaring. He wasn’t taunting them. He kept looking at me apologetically like, “I’m sorry, I know we are being stupid.”

One lesson from this story we could all learn: Choose your friends wisely.

Of course, the other lesson to learn is Don’t taunt the animals, particularly the ones that can eat you.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich
Originally uploaded by Cheshire County DemocratsScrolling through my massive RSS-fed reader, I saw a posting for Glassbooth, a site that promises to “connect you to the 2008 presidential candidate that represents your beliefs the best.” Indeed.

Perhaps you’ve taken other political “tests.” This instrument is a little different in that first you identify those issues that are important to you, and then you answer a series of questions.

My results: Dennis Kucinich shares a 88% similarity with your beliefs.

Says the Glassbooth website, “Glassbooth is a nonprofit organization that is creating innovative ways to access political information. An informed and interested democracy is a powerful thing.” Indeed.

h/t to Nicholas Fiedler from nicholasfiedler.com who calls Glass Booth the Best Political Website Ever


Plain and simple.

From the Associated Press

A man being chased by authorities grabbed a police dog and leaped off the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, taking the animal with him into the frigid ocean water 200 feet below.

The fall killed the dog. The fugitive survived and was hospitalized Tuesday.

Stryker, “a six-and-a-half year old Belgian Malinois, had been with the police department for more than five years as a partner of Officer Kedrick Sadler.”

Perhaps they ought to take Mr. Byron to the zoo for a visit to the lion grotto…

Jose Can You See?
Originally uploaded by taylorkoa22Last week, one of my many reads posted about a Spanish teacher at Olentangy Liberty High School in Powell, Ohio, who has her students role play as immigrants from Central or South America. I can’t remember which Virginia-based blogger brought the article to my attention, but, if memory serves me, the blogger took offense.

I don’t.

Okay, certainly the project isn’t traditional, but it is educational and it is learning based on experience. In some ways, it reminds me of the blue eyes and everybody else experience which helps students learn about racism.

This is extraordinary teaching on the part of Erica Vieyra, a Spanish teacher at Olentangy Liberty High School

From Holly Zachariah’s article in the Columbus Dispatch

The students had to go to real businesses and ask for Spanish-language job applications. They had to visit a bank and ask for new-account documents written in Spanish.

Vieyra promised them that the process — even in make-believe — would frustrate them. But they would gain, she hoped, an understanding of what is one of the most important political and humanitarian issues facing the U.S. government today.

After three weeks of work, the students presented their projects yesterday and discussed their conclusions. Most said it was a grueling experience to even pretend to walk in an immigrant’s shoes.

“I can’t begin to fathom how they can survive here,” said Yana Lyon, 17. “Everywhere you turn if you try to become legal or help yourself, there’s a roadblock.”

I suspect that ten or twenty years from now Ms. Lyon and Ms. Vieyra’s other students will likely not remember much in the way of speaking and reading Spanish… but they will remember what they learned through this project.

I wish all teachers were so creative in their facilitating learning.

Best of Swiss Web 2002
Originally uploaded by BOSWTime Magazine has posted a list of 50 Best Websites 2007. I actually like their 5 Worst Websites where they give MySpace and Second Life two thumbs down.

What will 2008 bring?