luciab: (Default)
It's awfully early in the morning (before 8 AM when I started writing) to be anywhere near a dilemma, never mind an ethical one. Maybe I'm not on the horns, exactly, since this isn't an immediate-decision sort of thing. Torn. I guess I'm torn.

Half of me-- I'd like to think the better half-- is a Quaker, as much as I'm any kind of religious at all. I like to think I'm honorable, but then I guess we all do. This half believes in "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Not before they do it to you, notice; big difference there. The whole thing at Abu Gharaib was horrifying to me because we are supposed to be the good guys. We're supposed to be better than that.Read more... )
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I used to work for NC State parks, and spent a fair amount of time in many of them. I find myself following Ophelia with an eye to the impact it will have on the eastern parks. The Parks website said this morning that they've closed all of them east of I-95, which makes sense. Hammocks Beach is getting hammered right now with the western side of the storm, and Fort Macon (probably my fave) looks like it's going to be hit dead on in a few hours.

The mission statement of the parks talks about preserving the features included in the parks, and they have a slew of naturalists. The fact is that they also have to balance that with making the parks safe and inviting for the general public. The beach erosion that is inevitable with storms like this will trigger another bout of "beach nourishment"-- building the beaches back up with sand dredged from other sites where channels have to be deepened to allow safe passage for boats, both commercial and pleasure craft.

I wonder what the coast would look like if we really did allow nature to do what it does, without interference. It's ridiculous for us as humans to try to stop the forces of nature, after all. Yet we keep allowing development along the coast, and keep rebuilding when storms wash away those buildings. And yes, I admit that I enjoy going to the beach, and I am, after all, merely one of millions, and if I can go, so can they. And if they can afford to build there, they're going to do it.

The vast majority of homes that will be destroyed in this storm will be second homes, vacation homes. Yes, there are people who live there year-round, but not nearly as many as visit in the summers. And we will help pay to rebuild those homes, and we'll pay to nourish the beaches, and we'll keep going to the beaches. Because there is a deep, primal attraction there that I can't deny. It's just silly and arrogant of us to try to ignore the power of the ocean and its attendant storms, that's all.
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Yep, the fearless leader of Florida has got it goin' on, alright. I won't say WHAT he's got goin' on. Just call it an unjustified fit of politeness on my part.
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Wow. I just found out what Wikipedia is, and I am appalled. An encyclopedia that anyone can write, with no fact checking? WFT? I quit reading the Opinion section of our local Sunday paper when they replaced in-depth commentary on topics of national or international interest with pages of writing by local yokels. They said they just rolled the in-depth stuff into the regular news sections, but I never found it. It sure made reading the Sunday paper go a lot faster, though I never thought that was a good thing, particularly. The paper has a reputation locally as having a screaming liberal bent, but this "innovation" matches Georgie's "faith based" governance horrifyingly well. I mean, why doesn't anyone care about facts and research and truth? Oh, okay. I suppose it's possible that everyone who submits an entry to Wikipedia spends weeks or months researching the specific topic they write about, and only writes about stuff they've studied generally for years. Uh-huh. Youuuuuu betcha.

In other news, this showed up on a D'land buddy's page today. She thought it cute, I found it sweet in a sad way. Still interesting, though.

I have lots of things I should do today, especially to get ready for the apprenticing ceremony on Saturday. Hell, I've never done this! How am I supposed to know what to do? I am terrible at remembering this sort of thing or I could draw on my own apprenticing ceremony. Then again, my relationship with my laurel-- and the ensuing cermony-- were not really typical. Livia fed me dinner last night (delicious!) and we talked about what we want to do, both immediately and long term. "Immediate" includes some goodies for the reception/tea afterwards; I've got the Banbury tart filling soaking now, (thanks for the recipe AoD!) and my (apparently infamous) Rum balls have been requested. Heh. Or Whee! Depending on your approach to life, I guess.

I think I'll go get started now. Rum balls coming up! I hope that particular truth isn't mutable...

the n-word

Jun. 13th, 2005 01:59 pm
luciab: (Default)
You know that ugly word for black people? The one that starts with "n"? Yeah, that one. Back in the day, blacks used that word for other blacks who sucked up to whites. After reading this article, I can only conclude that Clarence Thomas is one. (I still can't make myself say/type the word, even in relation to him.)

Other than that, though, the article was mildly heartening.
luciab: (Default)
Wow. Even Exxon says we need to reduce oil use. What does that tell us?


May. 18th, 2005 10:33 am
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I'm being extraordinarily polite... this article about hearings into the "oil for food scandal" (note the quotes) was so good I wanted to cut and paste the whole article but instead I'm being good and just putting in a convenient link for you.
luciab: (Default)
Heh. Tom Tomorrow knows the answer! Or does he?


May. 13th, 2005 12:54 pm
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First a silly quiz thing... Read more... )</ </table>

Then a quick and painless request. Read more... )

And ending with a wonderful (as usual) column by Molly Ivins. I'm referring specifically to the column released May 10; this link takes you to the most recent, so if you read this later be sure to look in the archives for that date.

This entry is sure displaying strangely.... I can't find anything to edit to make it show in the correct order-- ie, the little chart from the quiz is supposed to be before the "scary" comment. But you're all smart and I know you'll figure it out.
Now I must get to work on the latest scroll. Deadline's approaching but I keep getting distracted by LimeWire. Heh.

luciab: (Default)
Sorry for the long entry but I don't know how to put in the cut thing.

A couple of articles from the NY Times caught my eye and raised my spirits yesterday morning. (Another day-late entry)

First, the Ford Motor Co says that rising gas prices have contributed to their falling sales. I’m delighted to hear that (a) consumers are smart enough to not buy cars that guzzle gas when gas costs are rising (duh!) (b) they are not doing this in sufficient quantities that someone noticed and (c) that this “news” made the front page of the NY Times.

Second, John Bolton’s nomination as ambassador to the UN “appear[s] to be in some peril.” Woo hoo! My hope begins to flicker again. Just the tiniest bit, you understand, carefully protected under a thick lantern globe of cynicism. But at least there is a bit of hope if the elected representatives aren’t swallowing every bit of crap that Georgie boy sends their way, and without even asking for ketchup to flavor it with. Wait, though, I guess I shouldn’t jump up and down for joy until the deed is done—or undone, as the case may be. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet. And lord only knows who he’d come up with next. It’s just so nice to see even a teensy bit of backbone in the folks who are supposed to represent all of us.

Nia and I have been having an ongoing conversation about the intelligence, or lack thereof, of the Great American Public. I say that whatever they are told often enough, they believe. My prime example of this is the Swift Boat campaign. Let’s look at the logic here. On one side of the balance sheet we have Kerry, a veteran who served in Viet Nam, with several medals for valor. The men who were with him at the time of the incidents in question said that he saved their lives. On the other side of the balance sheet is Bush, who didn’t serve in Viet Nam at all. There is some evidence that he may not have served the full term of his stateside National Guard duty. (I’m doing my damnedest to be fair here, and believe me, it ain’t easy.) The men who disputed the events that resulted in Kerry’s medals were nowhere near the incidents that occurred. What did the public believe? The Bush ads that repeated over and over and over the same stories with absolutely no evidence to back them up. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I was not a supporter of the Viet Nam war, then or now. However, to see the military types support a draft evader over a decorated hero was mind-boggling, not to mention decidedly amusing. It felt kind of twisted for me to be rooting for the decorated hero.) And against all the evidence from the Pentagon and the men who were actually THERE, the public fell for the propaganda of people who weren’t there, and ridiculed Kerry as a faker. Huh?

Nia counters by saying that Dubya’s plan for Social Security isn’t the shoo-in he hoped for, though she admits that it’s different when the question has a direct effect on one’s wallet. I reply, we’re only in the warm up rounds, baby.

I’ve only just now started reading political stuff again since the election- my blood pressure and my heart wouldn’t take it before. I’ve also been more interested the last couple of weeks because of the anniversary of FDR’s death. I watched the History Channel special on Sunday and Monday nights, and it was an eye opener in many respects for me. From what I’d heard about him, I’d always taken him as a hero, and never questioned enough to know of faults. I had read that he probably knew about the bombing of Pearl Harbor before it actually occurred, but also read that it was the only way to get us into the war, since popular sentiment at the time was very isolationist and no one knew about the death camps. This 4-hour special really filled out my view of him. I knew, for example, how horribly the Japanese-Americans were treated during the war, but hadn’t connected it with the obvious fact that he was president at the time. (Duh.) The writing of the show was interesting, too; every time they pointed out something like that, or that he didn’t push for an anti-lynching law, they noted that Eleanor was urging him to take the more moral stance.

So. I watched the FDR show, and read this column. And then, god help me, I started reading this article on current judicial thinking and I was aghast. What are these people thinking? They are obviously of a class that doesn’t have to worry about working for a living, nor do they care about anyone who does. I was equally appalled at the implications for the future of the country if it is ravaged by companies unfettered by any restraint on how they destroy wetlands and old growth forests, or dispose of hazardous wastes. I couldn’t believe that they wouldn’t care about what kind of country their kids and grandkids would be living in, till I remembered that James Watt says he believes the End is near enough it doesn’t make any difference. I guess if that’s the case, then why should we care about the 40 hour work week or minimum wage?

In some weird part of my brain, I must think that each of us gets the destiny we plan for ourselves. IE, James Watt’s end may be so near that it won’t make any difference to him but by god, I plan for my kids and grandkids to live long enough that it will make a difference to us.

This has been an altogether interesting week for me. Generally I'm not a big-picture sort of gal. I see what's right around me and have a really hard time seeing the connection between things that happen over a span of time. This week events have pretty much slapped me upside the head, though, and even I can't miss making the comparison between then and now.

So, now do you see why I was so heartened to read those two stories this morning? Perhaps there is the tiniest ray of hope. Maybe.
luciab: (Default)
I don't think my last entry made a lot of sense; let's just say that Turbo Tax wasn't the piece of cake I hoped it would be. With one employer, one bank paying me a tiny bit of interest, and only the standard deduction, how hard can this BE? I'm trying to file for free via the IRS link and had selected them as the lucky chumps. What with one thing and another, that just totally hasn't worked out and I'm filing through another company. It won't be totally free since I'm paying to e-file in NC. Wait. That isn't worth it. I have the form all printed out; I'll just mail the damn thing and get a check mailed. I can wait that long, and it'll save me money, which is key right now. (I have to pay the feds about half of this month's disability income, in addition to what they already withheld. It still doesn't seem right to me, but I knew Georgie was re-distributing the wealth. I guess his defense contractor-pals' kids were complaining about their low allowances.) No, wait-- I have to e-file, since K is in TX and we're still married, thus necessitating that whole signature thing. Sigh. Gotta get that divorce thing done. Damn.

Isn't it wonderful living in my mind? No wonder I'm confused. To top off this little discussion, I thought, oh, hell, I'll just go on and file and be done with it. That's the simple thing to do, and I won't have to worry about it any more. Except when I got back into the program I remembered that when I was doing Turbo Tax I authorized a debit to pay the feds, and I don't know if that will still go through, or it it's tied to the final filing via their site. Since it's to be paid on the 14th, I'll wait till the 15th and see if it cleared on the 14th, and if it didn't, I can file then. Life is never simple.

I saw the neurologist today. She was more responsive today than she has been on other visits. Hell, I know everybody has off days. Today things were clicking, though, and we hope we made some discoveries. We're trying a different approach-- a muscle relaxant at bedtime, since an awfully lot of the time my migraines start during the night. I just find that bizarre-- I have what is obviously a misconception, that the body is relaxed at night. Since I already know that I clench my teeth so tight they ache in the mornings, you'd think I'd have given up that silly notion, but I still cling to it. Today I felt more like she really wants to get rid of the migraines, is aware of all the meds I'm on and wants to keep them to a minimum, as soon as we can find something that works. I'm also considering acupuncture. My insurance will only pay if the acupuncturist is also an MD, and that combination isn't real common here in NC. Not sure it's real common anywhere-- I figure that's why they did it, but hey. There is one listed in the phone book, so I'll give him a call next month.

I'm going to go paint awhile to cheer myself up. Nothing like getting lost in a miniature for a good distraction!
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AUSTIN, Texas -- As a general rule about Bush & Co., the more closely a policy is associated with Dick Cheney, the worse it is. Which brings us to energy policy -- remember his secret task force? In the long history of monumentally bad ideas, the Cheney policy is a standout for reasons of both omission and commission. Dumb, dumber and dumbest.

Ponder this: Next year, the administration will phase out the $2,000 tax credit for buying a hybrid vehicle, which gets over 50 miles per gallon, but will leave in place the $25,000 tax write-off for a Hummer, which gets 10-12 mpg. That's truly crazy, and that's truly what the whole Cheney energy policy is.

According to the Energy Information Administration in the Department of Energy, last year's energy bill (same as this one) would cost taxpayers at least $31 billion, do nothing about the projected over-80 percent increase in America's imports of foreign oil by 2025 and increase gasoline prices. (Since every bureaucrat who tells the truth in this administration -- about the cost of the drug bill or the safety of Vioxx -- seems to get the ax, I'm probably getting those folks in trouble.)

The bill is loaded with corporate giveaways and tax breaks for big oil. Meanwhile, Bush's budget cuts funding for renewable energy research and programs, and anyone who tells you different is lying.

Now, here's the Catch-22 we get with this administration: It is using the exact language of the bill's critics -- stealing it wholesale and using it to promote its bill. It's our friend Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster who specializes in "framing" issues (framing means the same thing as spinning, and in the non-political world it is known as lying), at work again. Luntz put out a memo in January: "Eight Energy Communication Guidelines for 2005" telling R's how to talk about energy using language people like.

The Natural Resources Defense Council found a Bush speech on energy on March 9 in Ohio that parrots Luntz's suggestions to a laughable point -- threat to national security, diversity of supply, innovation, conservation and (my fave) Point 4, "The key principle is 'responsible energy exploration.' And remember, it's NOT drilling for oil. It's responsible energy exploration."

So there was Bush, as per Luntz's memo, talking about "environmentally responsible exploration" and announcing one of his top energy objectives is "to diversify our energy supply by developing alternative sources of energy." Polling shows 70 percent of Americans support a drastic increase in government spending on renewable energy sources.

I'm tired of arguing about whether Bush is so ignorant he doesn't know that he is cutting alternative energy programs and subsidizing oil companies or so fiendishly clever that he knows and doesn't care what he says. In the end, it doesn't make any difference. You get wretched policy either way.

The Apollo Project, a sensible outfit dedicated to reducing America's dependence on foreign oil, says 90 percent of Americans support its goal of energy independence. Bracken Hendricks, the executive director, points out that there is "remarkable agreement among many so-called strange bedfellows -- labor and business, environmentalists and evangelicals, governors and generals, urbanites and farmers."

Meanwhile, what we are sticking with is soaring oil prices (ExxonMobil just reported the highest quarterly profit ever, $8.42 billion, by an American company) and declining discoveries. Several oil companies are reporting disappearing reserves, and Royal Dutch/Shell admitted it had overstated its reserves by 20 percent last year.

Nor are the major oil companies spending their mammoth profits on exploration or field development -- they're doing mega-mergers and stock buybacks. ExxonMobil spent $9.95 billion to buy back its own stock in 2004. The Chinese and the Indians are now buying cars like mad, and the result is going to be an enormous supply crunch, sooner rather than later.

It is possible with existing technology to build a car that gets 500 miles per gallon, but the Bushies won't even raise the CAFÉ (fuel efficiency) standards for cars coming out now. The trouble with the Bush plan to develop hydrogen cars is that while you can get hydrogen out of water, you have put energy in to get it out, so there's a net energy loss.

Conservation is simply the cheapest and most effective way of addressing this problem. If you put a tax on carbon, it would move industry to wind or solar power. Wind power here in Texas is at the tipping point now -- comparably priced. Our health, our environment, our economy and the globe itself would all benefit from a transition to renewable energy sources.

And as Tom Friedman recently pointed out, it would do a lot for world peace, too: "By doing nothing to lower U.S. oil consumption, we are financing both sides in the war on terrorism and strengthening the worst governments in the world. That is, we are financing the U.S. military with our tax dollars and we are financing the jihadists -- and the Saudi, Sudanese and Iranian mosques and charities that support them -- through our gasoline purchases."
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In tribute to Hunter S. Thompson. Peace never seems to have been his wish in lfe, but since he did commit suicide, maybe "rest in peace" isn't an out-of-place thing to wish for him. I watched Where the Buffalo Roam today, which was about him. I was a bit disappointed in the movie, but I guess that was in light of his death and wanting to see something that put the entirety of the man in perspective. Wow. I'm not sure that it's possible to put the entirety of the man together, much less in perspective. I guess in a two-hour movie, they're pretty much going to concentrate on the funny stuff. The other moments of genius are right difficult to capture. The world will definitely be a more.... predictable... place without him.


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Susan Arthur

February 2011



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