Goose the Blog 2.0

"Oh, ha! Sarcasm: The last refuge of sons of bitches!"


Zoos Gone Wild!

by Bill at 8/31/2004 10:04:00 PM

Or: Another good reasons For Bike Locks!

Or: What About The Children?

From the bbc news

A little humor, courtesy of ZNet...

by Yuris at 8/31/2004 06:09:00 PM

"For those unable to attend the huge August 29 "No to the Bush Agenda" demonstration in New York City, here is a small sampling of some of the posters and banners on display.

Not rich
Not selfish
Not stupid
Not Republican

I really don't like George Bush

2 Layoffs, 2 Years
It's Your Turn, Bush

I want to believe in democracy again

Moses 4 Burning Bush

Bush is a really crappy president

Suburban Moms for Regime Change

Bye Bush
65 days and counting

Four more years?
Forget about it!

Frat boys for truth

11/2/2004: The End of an Error

Four More Months

Fire the Liar

Dude, where's my surplus?

George W. Bush is proof that you don't have to grow up to be President

America is a free speech zone

Don't assume your freedoms are assured

[Beneath pictures of Bush, Cheney, et al.]
Fossil Fools

Republican National Committee:
Bringing the Empire State to the Empire State

[Grinning Bush Photo]
Darn Good Liar

Don't "misunderestimate" our votes

Thanks for teaching us the value of a vote

New York Hates Bush

Worst President Ever

Nixon was better

GOP Out of NYC

The World is Tired of Being Bushed Around

America: Wake up and smell the catastrophe

Texans Against Bush
He ain't no damn Texan

End Errorism
Delete Bush

Bush Go Home

We the people
Not we the corporations

[Picture of Bush and Saudi officials]
Fahd Bless America

Who would Jesus bomb?

Repent GOP
The End Is Near

He doesn't care to house the homeless.
Let's remove him from the White House.

We Are Not Safer

Vote and Live

Let's not elect him this time either

Honor the Fallen
Impeach the Profiteers

Osama bin Forgotten

"There is no sure foundation set on blood."
--William Shakespeare

[Pictures of Bush Sr. and G.W. Bush]
Dumb and Dumber

Why Is the NYPD Protecting the GOP From Us, Not Us From the GOP?

Our Parks, Our Streets

This is what you get for electing a Republican mayor

Not in Our Town

These Helicopters Are Making Me Crazy

Bush or the Constitution:
You Decide

Bush's UN Charter:
UNwelcome in NYC

Liar, Liar, Iraq's on Fire

CONservative GovernMENt


Mission Accomplished:
Halliburton Got the Oil

One Person, One Vote*
May not apply in certain states

When they don't like the outcome, they change the rules

The elections were honest
(in Venezuela)

Abstinence in 2004: No Bush, No Dick

I wasn't using my civil rights anyway

If you can read this, you aren't the President

The Son of Sam did what God told him to, but he only killed 5 or 6 people

[Cardboard constructed pink elephant]
Drunk on Power

Bush: Always Wrong, Never in Doubt

Get Out of Iraq
Get Out of NY

Redcoats Go Home

Oh, so that's what a Republican looks like.

I'm marching for my grandma, and she's pissed.

Cheney Controls His Bush, I Control Mine

Carried by kids:

Bush starts it, we end it

My Daddy doesn't want me to get drafted"

and my favorite... (was not included for obvious reasons)

Bush is just another name for c**t!

Source: ZNET

As Compared to What?

by Weisshaupt at 8/31/2004 01:17:00 PM

I keep hearing it repeated that Iraq is a disaster, a quagmire and “another Vietnam”. But the death tolls in Vietnam were far higher, without any demonstrable gains. What is the Metric being used to compare them? (No, that isn’t a rhetorical question.)

1000s of Americans Dead after over a year of fighting is bad? In Comparison to any other American conflict, or World Conflict in recent history the War in Iraq is an exceptional result. Or, if you want, compare it to the “peace” in the U.S. with 658 murders in Los Angeles (L.A. Has roughly a 3rd of the population of Iraq). On the Dick Cavett show, Kerry argued there would be no bloodbath if U.S troops were removed from Vietnam (he was very wrong), and that ONLY 4000-5000 people would be killed. These were acceptable losses to Kerry given the death tolls and refugee situation in Vietnam and Laos at the time. Of course there are valid criticisms to be made, as no human endeavor is perfect. Overall the cost is far lower than anyone would reasonably have expected.

The abuse at Abu-Ghraibe is lamentable and unpardonable, but compared to what happens in our prisons here at home or the abuses of Iraqis under Saddam’s leadership, how bad is it in perspective?

WMD is hailed as being THE reason the U.S.A. went to war, but there wasn’t just one Reason. Re-reading the State of the Union Address should make that clear. As to the discussion of Niger and Yellowcake, the Senate Intelligence Report shows that Joe Wilson lied in many of his statements, his trip to Niger added to the evidence that Iraq had attempted to purchase Yellowcake, and the Bush Administration did not coerce a particular result from the CIA. Likewise, Lord Butler’s report shows the presence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq prior to the war and vindicates Bush’s statements in the State of the Union Address. Not that the DNC will admit it….I guess the democrats on the commissions are liars too? Meanwhile the 9/11 Commission report was widely mis-reported to conclude that there was no connection between Al-Qaeda and Iraq, when in fact it presents quite a bit of evidence for a non-collaborative co-operation between the groups and only concludes that Iraq did not take direct part in the planning of 9/11. (just like Germany did not take part in the planning for Pearl Harbor) Meanwhile evidence has surfaced that something was moved into Syria just before the War. The Real criticism of President Bush should be his inability to find and secure the weapons, rather than the assumption that an absence of proof is proof of absence.

Unilateral (adj) : action taken without the okay-doky of Germany or France. The U.S. “unilateral” coalition includes the following countries: Australia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (until terrorism threatened at home) , and the United Kingdom

Also commonly overlooked in the war on Iraq are the cost of enforcing the no-fly zone and Saddam Hussein’s frequent attacks on our Air Force. More importantly the effect sanctions had on access to food and medicine was devastating. For instance, 40,000 more children under the age of 5 died per year after sanctions from lack of proper medical care. Of course this situation was made worse when humanitarian aid was impeded by corruption in the U.N. via the “Oil for Food” program. The Kay report shows that Saddam had intent to develop WMDs and an end to sanctions with Saddam still in power would have allowed him to do so. The war ended sanctions and removed Saddam. The U.N. imposed Sanctions also increased the difficulty of rebuilding the country, though significant progress has been made.

Meanwhile, many complain that the War has resulted on a trampling of our civil rights via the Patriot Act, and Free Speech zones.
The Price of Freedom is viligence, and we should always treat each new piece of legislation of this nature with suspicion,. However compared to the measures taken during World War II against the Germans, Japanese and Italians, or with what Lincoln did during the Civil War, the Patriot Act seems very mild. The Free Speech Zones have removed protestors from those they are protesting, and potentially violated their right of free speech. However, if one wants to condemn the practice, even when it is upheld by law, they should be condemning it whenever it is used : By President Bush, By the Democratic National Convention this year, or its rampant use within our institutions of learning where they are used to enforce politically correct speech codes. Of course, it is possible the removal of such protest zones to remote locations may in fact protect the public order as the 2000 DNC Convention and its aftermath illustrate.

watch out for your vote

by John at 8/31/2004 08:26:00 AM

I seems as if Republican kleptomaniacs can't keep their hands off our votes in this election either.

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes is facing sharp criticism for her decision to hire a law firm with close ties to the Republican Party to represent the nonpartisan supervisor's office in the upcoming elections.

Snipes, who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, hired the four-lawyer firm Blosser & Sayfie in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., several months ago to represent her in any election-related litigation.

Name partner Justin Sayfie is a former spokesman for Gov. Bush and currently is co-chair of the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign in Broward County, Fla. The other name partner, James Blosser, was the local finance chair for Jeb Bush's 1998 gubernatorial campaign and is a top fund-raiser for President Bush's re-election campaign.

Intimidating black voters; uninspectable, unverifiable e-voting machines; disenfranchised "felons"; now rigging the election resolution process by hiring partisan legal representatives.

A personal aside: I had my own experience with Republican attempts to disenfranchise voters. I was a grad student at UCSB, and Santa Barbara county was about equally divided between the conservative, rural north and the liberal, suburban south. The main body of liberal sentiment in the south part of the county was the student vote - some 20,000 possible voters in a county with about 400,000 residents. Year after year, there were problems with moving polling places and incorrect voter rolls in Isla Vista, a community populated primarily by undergraduate students. Furthermore, frustrated by this liberal voting block, Republicans floated the idea that students should only be allowed to vote in the district where their parents lived, because students, by their very nature, where non-property-owning "transients" in the community and had no personal stake in local politics. Taking a quick peek at UCSB's paper, The Daily Nexus, demonstrates that this idea was still around as recently as October, 2002.

And just as I was ready to publish this, I saw this article on It's not just Santa Barbara county...


Fun with Bush

by Bill at 8/30/2004 08:44:00 PM

Or at his expense anyway.

bad news from the medical front

by Bill at 8/30/2004 03:20:00 PM

the amont of uninsured just keeps growing. Just last year when I prepared a lecture on medical social justice issues it was at 43.4 million; now it is even higher. The rate of the uninsured has been grwoing at nealy 1 million per year over the last decade, the rate has increasaed slightly over the last four years. The fact that this has been a ongoing problem for a long time attests to it not be a partisan issue. I am for universal coverage. The amount to be gained by better health care coverage is staggering. And the amount of waste in our current system is also staggering. We already have a rationed system, but one based arbitrarily on income and insurance coverage instead of evidence based need. but i conceed that there are many possible solutions, from the right, left and fringes. anyone else have anything to add to our collective pot?



by Michelle at 8/28/2004 01:57:00 AM

What Would Veterans Do?

As reported in the Washington Post: "veterans say they trust President Bush more than Kerry as commander in chief, 56 percent to 38 percent, according to a report released yesterday by the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey."

Bonus Quiz - Who said the following:

Ho Chi Minh is the "George Washington of Vietnam"?


antidote to summer blockbusters

by Bill at 8/27/2004 05:54:00 PM

If you are like me you have seen your fair share of movies this summer; and you would be pressed to recall what you watched an hour after the film was over. But hope is on the way. Amy and I recently saw Garden State. Highly enjoyable coming home story; written and directed by Zach Braff from "Scrubs" fame. I found myself thinking about the film long after it was over. The film also has a wonderful soundtrack with songs by the The Shins., whom you all should check out.

The time has come to send The Moron home...

by Yuris at 8/27/2004 03:18:00 PM

and make this world a better place.

ponder this

by John at 8/27/2004 03:14:00 PM

Manifesto: A press release from PRKA.

"This is PRKA. To those who would oppose us, I would simply say: We are many. We are worldwide. We, in fact, outnumber you. Though you are louder, though you create a momentary ripple on the water of life, we will endure, and prevail.

Join us.

Resistance is futile."

I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers. - Khalil Gibran


new gmail invites

by John at 8/26/2004 11:43:00 AM

Everyone knows all the hip kids are using Gmail nowadays. Wouldn't you like to join the cool crowd for the first time in your miserable life? I've got 5 brand spankin' new Gmail invites for anyone who wants one. If you missed out before, now's your chance!

Gmail comes with a personalizable username, secure login, threaded message interface, and 1000 Mbyte of storage, enough for all your email needs.

What's that you say? There must be a catch? There's no catch* - and I'm not crazy**! That's right, these Gmail invites are totally free! Yours for the asking***!

Get one now for yourself or your friend!

* Some restrictions may apply. Limit one per customer. Gmail invite has no cash value. Void where prohibited. Inviter assumes no responsibility for the actual usefulness or coolness of Gmail. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, like maybe we think you are mean.

** Not legally.

*** If I already sent you one and you didn't use it, why didn't you use it? You can't have another one unless you have a very good reason.


Perspectives on Poopie slinging

by Michelle at 8/24/2004 11:15:00 PM

The swift boat vets for truth are getting more media play this week. Luckily, I think this will begin to shed light on the real story behind 527s and soft money donations leading up to this election. What the media does not report: Swift boat vets for truth is a very small fish in the pool of special interest groups. Democrats have a near monopoly on 527s.

Of the top 50 special interest (527) groups, only 6 are Republican - Progress for America, Club for Growth, Repub. Leadership council, College Repub Nat'l Committee, GOPAC, Nat'l Fed of Repub. Women. Two give to both Dem/Repub campaigns - Nat'l Assn of Realtors, Amer Dental Assn. Two others seemed non-partisan - Floridians Uniting for Stornger Tomorrow, Arkansans for 21st Century. The remaining 40 527s were special interest groups for Democrats.

Of the 50 top donors to 527s by individuals, only 2 (Carl Lindner and Paul Singer) donated to conservative special interest groups.

Some comparisons:

Joint Victory Campaign 2004: $42M in total receipts - Democrat (D)
Media Fund - $28M (D)
America Coming Together - $27M (D) - $9M (D)
Club for Growth - $5M (Republican)
Swift Boat Vets for Truth - $0.159M (R)

solid ground!

by Bill at 8/24/2004 02:37:00 PM

I'm back! It is so nice to be on land. My entire world was moving for the last 4 weeks. Still trying to get my land legs back, last night I could feel the bed moving back and forth in my sleep. It wasn't that unusual for us to be pitched 30 degrees back and forth on the Mitchell. No big injuries though and all the test went well. I read a lot and stared out at the sea most days, otherwise played cards. I have some photos I'll send out shortly, I will also post some excerpts from the medical officer's log (aka ramblings of a very bored PA). The ocean is a strange mistress, tedious but I will somehow miss her.

I'm Bill Bomberger and I approve this fact I think it's awesome.

reservoir dogs of war

by John at 8/24/2004 01:59:00 PM

(click to make bigger - inspired by TBogg)

10 commandments for the idle

by John at 8/24/2004 09:30:00 AM

From Bonjour paresse: De l'art et la nécessité d'en faire le moins possible en entreprise (translated to Hello Laziness: The Art and the Importance of Doing the Least Possible in the Workplace), a summer best-seller in France:

10 commandments for the idle
  1. You are a modern day slave. There is no scope for personal fulfilment. You work for your pay-check at the end of the month, full stop.
  2. It's pointless to try to change the system. Opposing it simply makes it stronger.
  3. What you do is pointless. You can be replaced from one day to the next by any cretin sitting next to you. So work as little as possible and spend time (not too much, if you can help it) cultivating your personal network so that you're untouchable when the next restructuring comes around.
  4. You're not judged on merit, but on whether you look and sound the part. Speak lots of leaden jargon: people will suspect you have an inside track
  5. Never accept a position of responsibility for any reason. You'll only have to work harder for what amounts to peanuts.
  6. Make a beeline for the most useless positions, (research, strategy and business development), where it is impossible to assess your 'contribution to the wealth of the firm'. Avoid 'on the ground' operational roles like the plague.
  7. Once you've found one of these plum jobs, never move. It is only the most exposed who get fired.
  8. Learn to identify kindred spirits who, like you, believe the system is absurd through discreet signs (quirks in clothing, peculiar jokes, warm smiles).
  9. Be nice to people on short-term contracts. They are the only people who do any real work.
  10. Tell yourself that the absurd ideology underpinning this corporate bullshit cannot last for ever. It will go the same way as the dialectical materialism of the communist system. The problem is knowning when...
From the Guardian:
The book... pledges to explain why it is in your interest to do the least work possible and will tell you how to damage the system from within "without appearing to do so".

An antidote to the recent rash of US-import, career-enhancing self-help books by business management gurus, it rails against corporate culture and preaches a philosophy of active disengagement.

It is an elegantly written call to arms to the "neo-slaves" of middle management and the "damned of the service industry", condemned to dress up as clowns all week and waste their lives in pointless meetings.


darfur update

by John at 8/20/2004 01:25:00 PM

I've been keeping track of the developments in and about Darfur, Sudan at the website Passion of the Present. I haven't been keeping you updated lately, but today there is an excellent, detailed summary by Eric Reeves on the prospects for intervention (humanitarian aid or peacekeeping) in the region.

It looks very bad. I am ashamed.

It will always be easy for us to say "Never again." It is much harder to say "Not this time."

Consider this: if you are reading this right now, you are most likely safe, with a full belly, and reasonably secure in your prospects for the future. You probably didn't earn that lofty position - you were fortunate enough to be born to it as a member of the planet's aristocracy. Never forget how lucky you are.

gmail helper apps

by John at 8/20/2004 07:57:00 AM

It's a little bit of a pain to have to log in to Gmail just to see if you have new messages. Thankfully, some folks have tried to fix that.

Boing Boing has a post up about Gmail helper applications that will check for incoming messages, open a Gmail window, or even direct mailto: links to Gmail. Cool! I'm using the Firefox extension called Gmail Notifier, and I like it.


which is worse?

by John at 8/19/2004 02:54:00 PM

I'm thinking of not voting for Kerry.

Why? Well, it's obviously not because I think that George Bush has done a good job as President or that he would somehow manage to turn around the botched work he has already begun, and it's not that I think he is in any way good for our nation. Nor is it because I fear the bogeyman of John Kerry's immoral liberalism or his exaggerated (if not imaginary) ethical difficulties. It is, rather, because I've started to ask myself a brand new question. It is a variation on the problem of choosing the lesser-of-two-evils.

The Question
Which is worse for the United States of America:

four more years of Bush-Cheney and their wrong-headed policies and unaccountable cohorts


four more years of the right-wing slime machine's* endless innuendo, obfuscation, and calumny about President John Kerry as it attempts to derail and disable the already limited democracy we practice?

A vote for Bush is a vote for not having to listen to these vile reprobates until 2007*!

* This is, not coincidently, the same reason I didn't feel too badly for Al Gore when he lost in 2000. At least, I thought, he and his family would be able to live the rest of their lives with a modicum of peace, and we would all get a hiatus from the fecal storm until the next election cycle.

But perhaps this very response is why the Republicans keep winning. Maybe the unquestioning faithful don rain gear and turn out to vote in full force, while the otherwise thoughtful either stay indoors or arrive with their hands over their mouths and noses, tired of the taste and smell of shit, and are unable or unwilling to pull the lever for the better candidate.

Whatever. It still stinks.

* Update: There are, of course, left-wing slimers as well. At times I have been one. And while the difference between the right- and left-wing slimers may not be black and white, it is at least dark gray and light gray. If you can't tell the difference, I suggest a visit your optometrist.

with a bullet?

by John at 8/19/2004 11:38:00 AM

Fluffy is number 3 on the Google image search for "fluffy" (SafeSearch off or Moderate SafeSearch on)!


more 30 second book reviews

by John at 8/17/2004 10:21:00 PM

Pattern Recognition - William Gibson
This is not your regular Gibson cyberpunk novel. In present day London, a woman with an interesting talent for marketing gets involved in a plot to discover the source of some remarkable video clips found on the web. Adventures follow. What struck me while reading this book is that Gibson writes about everyday stuff (email, encryption, discussion boards, web browsers) with the same detachment he has when writing about neural implants and cyberspace in his older cyberpunk novels. It seemed to me that perhaps he had never actually used the mundane things he was writing about. I find that hard to believe, so I guess it is just his style. Go ahead and read it - all the cool kids already have.

Reason : Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America - Robert B. Reich
I hear Reich a lot on NPR while driving in may car. He was the first Labor Secretary for President Clinton, and is a moderate liberal (I expect some are saying "He is a far-left liberal!" right now). He makes some interesting points in this book, and makes the hard to deny case that most Americans hold the moderate liberal values of tolerance, diversity, government safety nets and the like. He also does a good job describing how we got to the current state of political demonization of one side by the other, and lays most of the blame on the Republicans. But in a sense this book failed; I have no additional confidence that, given the apathy of the majority of Americans and the rightward tilt of modern political speech (did you ever wonder why it is that "liberal" is a dirty word and "conservative" a badge of pride?), that liberals will win (whatever that means) in the end. So what if we don't win? We go on anyway.

Supermen: Tales of the Posthuman Future - edited by Gardner Dozois
This is a collection of short stories that focuses on one of my current favorite sf genres, transhumanism (or posthumanism, the Singularity, whatever you want to call it). The stories are generally by well-known authors, and because they are arranged chronologically by publication date, they demonstrate the development of posthuman fiction in the last five decades. Most of the stories are quite enjoyable, although a couple are stinkers. I found the following works particularly interesting: "Mortimer Grey's History of Death" by Brain Stableford, "The Wedding Album" by David Marusek, and "Border Guards" by Greg Egan.

Supertoys Last All Summer Long: And Other Stories of Future Time - Brian Aldiss
Another short story collection, this time the work of a single author. "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" was the inspiration for Kubrick's/Spielberg's film "Artificial Intelligence: AI". The author worked with Kubrick on the screenplay, but was eventually fired, more or less. During that time, he wrote two sequels to "Supertoys" that were not really incorporated into the film, but they are included here. Aldiss also uses several stories to explore an optimistic transhumanism that pleased me - if I recall correctly, in one story the key technology was a pause button built into the brain that forced you to stop and think in times of crisis instead of just acting. Some other stories were unimpressive, and his writing style is a bit unusual, but overall I enjoyed the collection.

The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. LeGuin
This is a classic sf novel first published in the early 1970s. I had often heard about it but never read it. So, trying not to give too much away, it is an allegory concerning the inability of those who pursue social justice to implement it. I just wrote a few sentences summarizing the plot, but then deleted them because they were too revealing. I also wrote a sentence that describes what I think is real the moral of the story (it is not really about social justice), but then I deleted that too because it gives the ending away. How's this: it's about a guy whose dreams can change reality. I think this is an OK book, but I only halfway recommend it.

Jupiter - Ben Bova
This story is set in the same "universe" as his Mars novel. He has written, in fact, a whole string of novels named after planets in our solar system. In this one, a young man is (supposedly) sent to work as a graduate student on a large space station orbiting Jupiter. Actually, he is sent there spy on the scientists on behalf of the fundamentalist religious organizations that control Earth politics. It seems the scientists might have discovered something that would shake the foundations of Jewish/Christian/Islamic religion. If this story had been written in the 50s it would probably be called a "juvenile", which is not necessarily bad. But in this case, this was a pretty predictable novel. You're not missing much if you don't read it.

Heal Your Headache - David Buchholz
If you or someone you know gets headaches regularly, you might want to read this book. Dr. Buchholz's (he's an M.D. and neurologist at John Hopkins) first premise is that all normal headaches (tension, sinus, migraine) are caused by the migraine response, which is when blood vessels swell in the neck, face, or head. His second premise is that there is a three step plan for controlling these kinds of headaches, perhaps without medication. Step 1 is to give up all painkillers that cause rebound, which is when blood vessels dilate drastically after being medicinally constricted. Step 2 is to remove all the common dietary triggers, like caffeine, chocolate, MSG, and just about any aged or fermented food. Step 3 is the optionally one (if 1 and 2 don't do the job), and it involves taking medicine to raise the migraine threshold so that triggers don't activate the response. I've been trying step 1 for a couple of weeks (plus the no caffeine, chocolate and MSG rule) and I am having moderate success preventing what had become regular weekend headaches. We'll see. Most annoying thing? He doesn't think science has the capability to demonstrate the efficacy of his method. This is a prime indicator of quackery.

Forty Signs of Rain - Kim Stanley Robinson
"Wow". After I finished this short novel, that's what I thought. I really liked it, much more than any other fiction I've read recently. It takes place maybe five or ten years from now and concerns a married couple who work in Washington DC. She's a director for the NSF and he's an environmental consultant for a liberal senator. The backdrop is rapid global climate change due to the greenhouse effect. Mostly, though, it is a story about friends and family and minor epiphanies. Robinson's politics usually infect his work, and because he is sort of a socialist (or at least an anti-capitalist), this frustrates many of his readers. Me? I like it. Anyway, I thought this story was very touching because it is more about the little things than the big things, and it's about going on anyway. Update: I just went to to read other reviews of this book, and I found out it is the first part of a trilogy. That is, actually, a little disappointing, because I liked the ending the way it was.

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software - Steven Johnson
This book is about the fairly modern science (art?) of emergent systems. Emergent systems are systems that display complex, usually adaptive, behavior based on individual agents operating under simple rules. Typically, emergent behavior is not designed, it is discovered. He talks about some of the current applications of emergent systems in the world, and draws comparisons to natural systems and organisms to fit it all together. Having played around a bit with agent-based modeling in the past and having at least a passing familiarity with emergent systems, I enjoyed this book. It is certainly not written for the expert, but gives enough detail to, I think, draw interest in the subject from the lay reader. There is also a nice bit about why large internet discussion boards usually fail, but why Slashdot still works.

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning - Chris Hedges
This book is a very personal meditation on war by a long-time war correspondent. His presence in battle zones gives him the authority to write on the subject without the messy confusion of justification or guilt. To Hedges, war is an addiction that affects people, and even whole nations. It changes everything about the societies it overtakes. His thesis is well supported by the evidence he draws from fifteen years experience covering wars in Central America, the Balkans, and the Middle East. To me, his thoughts ring true - but what do I know about it? A lot, for I am also at war, or so my government tells me. The book was published in 2002, but any person with the capacity for reflection will be able see parallels with what he describes as the typical responses of people and nations at war and what has occurred in our country since September 2002 (no, that's not a typo). It is not flattering. If you read only one book on the list above, I think it should be this one.

Remember, you can find all these books and more at your local library - I did!

genius needed

by John at 8/17/2004 03:40:00 PM

This weekend I screwed up big time. I spilled coffee on Wendy's laptop during a game of indoor fetch with Goose and Diva. I was showing off, trying to make an over-the-coffee-table shot, when I hit her coffee mug with the soccer ball that shouts "He shoots! He scores!"

Anyway, the laptop was closed and in standby mode, and I quickly wiped the coffee off the cover and the sides. I didn't think any had gotten inside the case, but I let it sit for an hour or so to be sure before we tried turning it on.

When we did, nothing happened. No lights or HD or fan sound. It just sat there insolently uncommunicative, as still it does to this day.

I figure that I probably need to send it out for repair. First, though, I want to backup it's HD to another computer, so I bought a converter that will let me plug the laptop drive into my desktop IDE and power cables. I should have the converter Wednesday.

Anyone know any possible quick fixes before I send it off? I read something about removing the CMOS battery to get the laptop to restart, but I think I'll have to take the whole computer apart to get do that. I also tried just hitting the secret reset button on the bottom of the case, but no luck. It is in warranty (limited), but I'll have to tell them that I broke it with coffee, so I imagine it won't be a free repair. The laptop is a stock Sony Vaio PCG-FRV37.

blogger navbar

by John at 8/17/2004 03:18:00 PM

Look away, if you can, from the photo below and glance at the top of the window. See that? That's a new feature, the Blogger Navbar. It does three things: 1) link you back to, 2) allow you to do a Google site search on this blog, and 3) link you to a random "next" blog with a recently published post. It comes in four colors (blue, tan, black, and silver). There's no option for turning it off within Blogger itself, but it replaces the ads that used to appear.

I think it is OK because I was planning on putting in a site search link anyway, but (listen closely - I'm going to whisper) I know how to make it go away if you don't like it there.


Also, I've set up my Blogger User Profile - it's a pretty neat tool. It says I have 121 posts, 18936 words, and 291 outbound links. It's missing my two most recent posts, however. You can check it out by clicking "John" over on the right.

Who Cares what Happened 30 Years Ago? John Kerry Does.

by Weisshaupt at 8/17/2004 12:38:00 PM

Now, I personally do not believe that John Kerry’s four month tour in Vietnam 30 years ago qualifies him for anything, much less Commander in Chief, but the DNC and John Kerry for some reason think it is relevant, and have made his service a centerpiece in his campaign, which invites reflection on the following:

These honors were a disgrace to him 30 years ago when he threw (didn’t throw) his (someone else’s) medals (ribbons) over the White House Fence. In senate testimony, Kerry’s own statements portrayed his 4 month service as consisting of nothing but war crimes. Kerry also did (or did not) break international law by crossing into Cambodia, Christmas Eve, 1968

Numerous Vietnam Veterans groups, such as Swift Vets (No, no one recanted, the press misquoted and failed to retract), Vietnam Vets against Kerry , Veterans against Kerry, and POW/MIA Family Members Against Kerry, feel he is not suited to lead, partially because they question the honors that he received, but a larger motive would be his perceived betrayal of U.S. Soldiers after the war (see below). Kerry will not release the complete military records to prove his valor, stating the fact that he was in fact decorated as proof enough that he deserved them. President Bush released all of his military records (the missing ones were found, and they do not prove or disprove charges he was AWOL. Bush was Honorably Discharged from the Service indicating that, to the same degree that Kerry was in fact decorated by the Navy, the military establishment felt both men did their duty)

After returning from Vietnam, Kerry became active in a group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). The VVAW boasted “Hanoi” Jane Fonda who aided the enemy while in Vietnam, and liar Al Hubbard, as members, both of which had strong communist leanings, and the whole group was closely monitored by the FBI. Kerry’s memories of his activities while with this group seem somewhat fuzzy, but the FBI files suggest Kerry illegally met with representatives from North Vietnam, Obtained funding for the VVAW when they were broke, and attended a meeting where the VVAW contemplated the assassination of U.S. Senators. Kerry finally resigned from the organization over the latter matter (though some say immediately and some say a few months later)

As part of the VVAW, Kerry may have lied (or perhaps he was just given bad intelligence?) when he testified before the Senate as to the statements made at the VVAW organized Winter Soldier conference. A reputedly lost NIS report requested by Senator Mark Hatfield claims that many of the soldiers at the conference refused to co-operate with investigators (as instructed by VVAW), were imposters, or were never deployed to Vietnam. At best, the Winter Soldier testimony is hear-say. It has neither been discredited (except in the missing report) nor independently confirmed. Regardless of its veracity, Kerry’s testimony was used as part of the torture routine applied to our POWS to obtain admissions of war crimes in the “Hanoi Hilton” for years after the war.

Kerry’s anti-war activities eventually earned Kerry official recognition from the North Vietnam Government, where his picture hangs , with Jane Fonda’s, in the American Protestors section of the War Remnants Museum in Saigon. A former staff member of the North Vietnam Army admits to the critical role the American Anti-War movement played in expelling the U.S. from South Vietnam and allowing North Vietnam to Win the war. As a result of the U.S. defeat, 65,000 Vietnamese died, and millions of others emigrated to other countries. Many of these settled in “Little Saigon” where most residents are against Kerry. As a senator, Kerry fought against pressuring Vietnam with a Civil Rights Bill that may have helped the natives who served as U.S. Allies during the war and abandoned POWs in favor of normalized relations with North Vietnam.. These normalized relations resulted in Kerry’s cousin’ Forbes’ company, Collier International landing lucrative contracts. I don’t think this last point proves anything, but there are those who think acquaintance means collusion.


at last - chicken update

by John at 8/15/2004 10:13:00 AM

Like I said I would, I took some photos of the chickens and chicken coop.

I finished the coop earlier this week, after putting together the frames for the run last weekend. The finishing touches included staking the whole thing to the ground and putting together the wire fence roof. The house has been done since early last week, when the chickens first moved in.

For some background on the chickens, see this post.


still here

by John at 8/13/2004 11:35:00 AM

Sorry I haven't posted anything this week. I'm still around, but I've been busy with work and other things and I just haven't felt inspired to put anything new up.

This weekend I hope to take some photos of our growing chickens and their new chicken house, and I'll probably post them up here when I've done it, so you have that to look forward to.

In the meantime, Amy sent this link to a funny short film starring Will Ferrell. It is... awesome. Pretend I said that like Will Ferrell imitating George Bush.


"There's another ship coming in."

by John at 8/06/2004 01:35:00 PM

"Maybe they know what happened."

"It's an Imperial fighter."

"It followed us!"

"No. It's a short range fighter."

"There aren't any bases around here. Where did it come from?"

"It sure is leaving in a big hurry. If they identify us, we're in big trouble."

"Not if I can help it. Chewie...jam it's transmissions."

"It'd be as well to let it go. It's too far out of range."

"Not for long..."

"A fighter that size couldn't get this deep into space on its own."

"It must have gotten lost, been part of a convoy or something."

"Well, he ain't going to be around long enough to tell anyone about us."

"Look at him. He's headed for that small moon."

"I think I can get him before he gets there...he's almost in range."

"That's no moon! It's a space station."

"It's too big to be a space station."

"I have a very bad feeling about this."


panopticon power to the people

by John at 8/04/2004 12:57:00 PM

So-so science fiction author David Brin (he also writes nonfiction, but I haven't read any) has a fairly optimistic take on the panopticon society (from With new surveilance technologies, he thinks, ordinary citizens can have greater power to "watch the watchers" because we will each be an "omniscient spy." Among other things, the article discussses some upcoming technologies and the potential benefits and drawbacks of each. He also makes a very good point, and it is that the future is coming whether we like it or not.

An aside: I met David Brin once. He is a Caltech grad, and he occassionally visited (still visits?) the campus for one reason or another. I met him when he spoke to a class on short story writing that I took to fulfill some of the required humanities credits.

Update: Some people are already taking advantage of technology to bridge the gap between what "they" know and what we know:
Update 2: readers respond to Brin's article.


news from the sea

by John at 8/03/2004 09:57:00 PM

Amy sent me another update today:
The ship left Astoria for Alaska on Monday night at about 9pm. They had a rough ride to Oregon during the weekend and a lot of people ended up getting seasick. Bill was able to take Benadryl and it seemed to work, but others weren’t so lucky. He said he was very busy on Saturday with seasickness and minor cuts and scrapes as well as a little mishap with the captain (during the rough seas, his swivel chair swiveled into the control room desk and he thought he broke his rib [he didn’t, luckily]!).

Still no email address for Bill. At least he is keeping busy - after all the devil's hands are idle playthings.

Update: I have Bill's email address now. If you'd like to write him a letter to help keep his devilish hands occupied, let me know and I'll send it to you.


The Death of Cerebus

by Weisshaupt at 8/02/2004 05:10:00 PM

As John posted a little while back,

Dave Sim recently completed his 26 year project, a 6000 page black and white graphic novel (comic book) about an aardvark named Cerebus. I, being cheap, have not been buying the monthly serial, but instead buy the "phonebook" at the end of each "chapter" or "storyline" which collects all of the serialized issues into one volume. Typically this volume comes out about 3 months after the serialized version, and being self-published the deadlines are prone to slip, leaving me to wait until just now to read the conclusion to Cerebus. (I've been waiting periodically since 1988, so it hasn't really been a hardship)

The first 4 volumes are certainly VERY funny, and definitely worth reading for everyone. The next 4 volumes begin exploring the nature of feminism and the relationship of men to women in general, and are decidedly less funny.. Then, with Volume 9, Dave reaches some definite conclusions, and decides its time to voice them. However, failing to alienate his entire audience (because many, like me were giving him the benefit of the doubt) he wrote Tangents which pretty much cleared out everyone who chose to be offended. I, for one, can refuse to take things personally, and get great entertainment out of exaggerated political hyperbole, so I continued blissfully forward. Finally Dave presents a new interpretation of the Bible based on his theories of male/female interaction (at the level of the Deity) which I have to concede, in many ways make more sense of the Bible text than the conventional interpretations. In the end Cerebus establishes a (short-lived) ideal male-dominated society, and finally Dave ties it all together with an analogy to quantum physics and embryonics.

Dave started out a well-behaved Canadian Human-Secularist, started investigating the tenents of feminism, found them lacking, and went right on to inventing his own form of maleism, which he believes to be the god-given underlying reality of all things. Cerebus traces this progression, including the re-working and refinement of certain ideas, so in many ways, the thing works well as a story, as long as you can read it without becoming offended. (If you read tangents and are offended, then this is not for you past the first 4 volumes, which is okay, Dave already tells you how it ends by that point) There are certainly some interesting ideas to think about (kind of like the Illuminati Trilogy) as long as you don't take it all too seriously. Anyway, take a moment of silence to honor the completion of an epic task, and the death of a furry, grey misogynistic bastard.