Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sign of the times?

Fort Lewis to consolidate memorials for dead

Michael Gilbert
The News Tribune

Fort Lewis, which this month has suffered its worst losses of the war, will no longer conduct individual memorial ceremonies for soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Instead, the post will hold one ceremony for all soldiers killed each month, the Fort Lewis acting commanding general, Brig. Gen. William Troy, wrote in a memo to commanders and staff last week.

(cont'd at link above)

Fort Lewis isn't the first to go this route. Wouldn't you imagine at some point someone would DO SOMETHING about this?

I know, I know...


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I wish I could blog like some of the bloggers I'm addicted to.

I learned about Blue Gal from Ice Station Tango. And at Blue Gal's blog I found a graphic that I won't use unless forced.

For some reason I can't seem to post the link to the graphic so just go to her entry for Feb 21 and look at the second picture down.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Holy effing shyte!

While I was in Seattle we started joking about how dangerous it is to eat food originating in China. It was dark humor, mind you, because it's starting to look more and more like this is not anywhere near a laughing matter.

Fish importer announces monkfish recall


WASHINGTON -- A frozen product labeled monkfish distributed in three states is being recalled after two Chicago area people became ill after eating it, the importer announced Thursday.

Hong Chang Corporation of Santa Fe Springs, Calif.,said it is recalling the product labeled as monkfish because it may contain tetrodotoxin, a potent toxin.

While the frozen fish imported from China was labeled monkfish, the company said it is concerned that it may be pufferfish because this toxin is usually associated with certain types of pufferfish.

Eating foods containing tetrodotoxin can result in life-threatening illness or death and the toxin cannot be destroyed by cooking or freezing.

(cont'd at link above)

Want an idea how bad tetrodotoxin is? Read Wade Davis' book The Serpent and the Rainbow. The book. Forget the movie. Well, don't forget it. The movie was fascinating and while it didn't follow the book, it was nevertheless a Wes Craven masterpiece. But the explanation of tetrodotoxin in the book is what I'm talking about here. Or, if you really can't bring yourself to read that book, look for the DVD of Anthony Bourdain's show "Cook's Tour" that used to air on the Food Network until Bourdain got wise and moved it to the Travel Channel. In one of the two episodes he filmed in Japan, he discusses the specialized preparation of pufferfish, and the number of deaths annually even in Japan where the chefs are specially trained.

So now we've got toxic pet foods, toxic fish, who knows what else? I wonder if the Chinese got the idea from Tommy Thompson. You remember what he said, right?

"I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not,you know, attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do,"

Trust a Repuglican to think up something like this.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The More Things Change...

I got caught up in the 1998 mini-series "From the Earth to the Moon" (originally on HBO) being shown on the Science channel. I was caught up in it because of the rather amazing cast. I mean, future failed Senatorial candidate Al Franken has a role as a CONSERVATIVE science advisor. Both Adam Baldwin and Gary Cole got to go to space in this series. Of course, Baldwin was playing a respectable Astronaut Fred Haise, a far cry from his now-better-known portrayal of the lovable (in his own way) mercenary Jayne in "Firefly." And Cole got to be a lot of other things after playing Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, not the least of which was Capt. Gideon in "Babyon 5: Crusade." And then, of course, he was the Vice President of the U.S. where he was a relatively good guy and still the worst member of a wholly fantastical administration... And that's just three of the cast members that made me grin, nod, raise my eyebrows (Cary Elwes as an American astronaut? Jimmy frikkin' Buffet as an unnamed journalist? And the list goes on and on...)

When I was a small child ... very small ... I took my first ride on an airplane. It's been years (more than 20, actually) since I flew on an airplane with propellers and these days I'm unnerved by just the sight of them. But back then it was high tech and I was fascinated. But what fascinated me even more was that as I flew from Boston to Cleveland, high above me, Alan Shepard was flying off into the upper reaches of the Earth's atmosphere, creating the U.S.'s entry into the newly begun space race.

But the thing that really gets to me is this. We didn't go to the moon or do any of the other space related things we did because we wanted to learn, to advance our knowledge or technology, to look for fellow beings out in space, for any of those idealistic reasons. We did it because it looked good. We did it because it would help the administration get re-elected. We did it for publicity, for politics, for votes.

Maybe I'm too cynical. And it's true that throughout the late sixties and early seventies, I was more concerned with ending an unjust war than finding out if there was anything to be learned out in space. So I was perhaps as guilty as the administration of seeing the space program as something other than what it should have been. (I saw it as a deliberate distraction. Sound familiar to anyone?) But it seems to me that going to space just for the spin we can put on it is just a waste of time, money, and -- dare I say it? -- political capital.

All this aside, I still remember waking up early, early in the morning to see the shuttle Columbia land for the first time, and feeling -- not hearing or imagining but feelng -- the lines from "Roll on Columbia" in my heart:

Roll on, Columbia, roll on.
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.
Your power is turning our darkness to dawn,
So roll on, Columbia, roll on.

I'm starting to babble. Popcorn is the only good cure.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wicked Cool!

Jones Soda pulls off a Seahawks upset

Scrappy Seattle firm beats out Coke for soft-drink rights at Qwest Field


Say goodbye to a Coke and a smile at Seahawks games.

And say hello to a Jones Soda and a player to be named later.

Jones Soda Co., a small, scrappy Seattle-based firm, has sacked beverage titan Coca-Cola to acquire the soft-drink rights at Qwest Field and its Event Center for the next five years, according to a securities filing.

Peter van Stolk, Jones Soda's chief executive, told the Seattle P-Ion Wednesday that his company will sell fountain drinks and sodas in plastic bottles throughout Qwest Field, and canned soft drinks in suites. The bottles will feature pictures of Seahawks players.

(cont'd at link above)

While I will grant that turkey soda was kind of gross and I couldn't work up the nerve to try any of the others, when Jones Soda does so-called normal flavors they're extremely good. And a local phenom like Jones doesn't happen every day. But, still, this is way cool for them.

It's not going to get me to any events at Qwest Field, but still ... good for Jones Soda.

I still want to kick Dem butt but this is at least a good try

House OKs 'outrageous gas prices' bill

WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday passed legislation authorizing the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and punish gasoline price gouging.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., said the legislation would help stop "the truly outrageous prices we are seeing at the gas pump," The Detroit News reported.

"Today, every member has a choice," said Stupak. "Side with big oil or side with the consumers who are being ripped off at the gas pump."

(cont'd at link above)

And, of course, His Royal Monkeyness, Preznut Ash ... er, sorry, George the whatever ... says he'll veto it. He'll only veto GOOD things. I think someone needs to give him a bottle of Old Crow and let him get wasted so we can somehow get rid of all the people who let him boss them around.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I can't believe not a single US news source has any of this

I found this in half dozen Canadian and British articles and it's referenced at Alternet, but had to go to a dot org to get anything of substance about it from within the U.S. Why is this being played as a non-event?

Democrats unlikely to fund abstinence-only education programs

WASHINGTON - Underlining the shift in the policies between a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democrat-controlled one, it is being reported that the Democrats are unlikely to extend funding for abstinence-only education programs. The funding for the currently existing programs under Title V is to expire on June 30.

Democrats feel the programs have not worked at all and hence there is no meaning in funding ineffective programs. Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee has called the program a huge failure and his comments seem to point to the premise that funding for these programs is likely to be halted.

(cont'd at link above)

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Death Toll They Never Talk About

Death Toll for Contractors Reaches New High in Iraq

Published: May 19, 2007

WASHINGTON, May 18 — Casualties among private contractors in Iraq have soared to record levels this year, setting a pace that seems certain to turn 2007 into the bloodiest year yet for the civilians who work alongside the American military in the war zone, according to new government numbers.

At least 146 contract workers were killed in Iraq in the first three months of the year, by far the highest number for any quarter since the war began in March 2003, according to the Labor Department, which processes death and injury claims for those working as United States government contractors in Iraq.

That brings the total number of contractors killed in Iraq to at least 917, along with more than 12,000 wounded in battle or injured on the job, according to government figures and dozens of interviews.

(cont'd at link above)

I have no words.

Mistakes were made. Again.

US to replace Wolfowitz 'swiftly'

The US has said it will move "swiftly" to find areplacement for Paul Wolfowitz, who says he plans to quit as head ofthe World Bank on 30 June.

Mr Wolfowitz will step down after he was caught up in abitter row surrounding the promotion and salary of his girlfriend,Shaha Riza.

The World Bank said that Mr Wolfowitz had acted in good faith, but admitted that a "number of mistakes" were made.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has been mentioned as a possible replacement.

Cont'd at link above.

And, you know, that last sentence I quoted really comes as no surprise. I don't necessarily like it, but I bow to the inevitability of it.

Oh, fer the love of...

May 18, 2007 – 1:32 p.m.
"Republicans Seek Reprimand of Murtha for Alleged Earmark Threat"

House Republicans plan to force a floor vote next week aimed atembarrassing Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., for an alleged threat toretaliate against a GOP lawmaker who sought to eliminate one of hisearmarks.

Minority Leader John A. Boehner,R-Ohio, said in a written statement last night that he would support aprivileged resolution that Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., is expected tooffer Monday.

(Cont'd at link above.)

And if the parties had had their roles reversed, they'd be crying fowl for this exact same situation.

MAN, I hate sore losers almost more than I hate sore winners!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Oh Sweet Gods and Little Fishies!

Judge to prosecutor: 'So what's a Web site?'

During Internet terrorism trial, judge asks attorneys to keep it simple

By Mark Trevelyan
Updated: 2 hours, 7 minutes ago

LONDON - A British judge admitted on Wednesday he was struggling to cope with basic terms like "Web site" in the trial of three men accused of inciting terrorism via the Internet.

(cont'd at link above)

How is justice supposed to be served by this?

I don't care that it's us that has the Constitution and them that has the Magna Carta. It's still clear that something is just wrong here.

Oh the irony!

Ron Godwin, the university's executive vice president, said Falwell, 73, was found unresponsive around 10:45 a.m. and taken to Lynchburg General Hospital. "CPR efforts were unsuccessful," he said. Godwin said he was not sure what caused the collapse, but he said Falwell "has a history of heart challenges."

(italics mine)

Falwell had heart "challenges?" His heart was coal black and diamond hard. Was that a challenge? Who was being challenged?

I think it's possible the cause of the collapse was his god deciding that enough was enough and it was time for a personal intervention.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Anyone notice a country MISSING from this?

U.N. Climate Talks Down to Wire

BANGKOK (Reuters) - U.N. talks on ways to fight climate change are on track to approve a blueprint for governments on Friday, but major differences are still being thrashed out, delegates say.

(cont'd at link above.)

Gods DAMN! China's there! Why aren't we? This is AMERICA, people. We're supposed to be at the FOREFRONT of saving the world.

Rant over. Must go drink something other than coffee.