I Watched and Listened

It’s a true shame to replace the last picture with this one. But I do like this picture of Bush. It makes his shirt and tie glow with an almost holy light. Still, it was nicer looking at the speedos with a smile.

This morning, or evening, depending on your perspective, during my workout, a Bush press conference appeared on CNN. With all the maddening things going on, I thought I’d listen to him. Intently.

I think it’s possible he might be brain damaged. Perhaps from all the alcohol and partying – I’m not sure. But it’s certain there is something unright in the way his brain works.

It is a common characteristic of brilliant people to jump and gloss through subject matter when communicating with people who do not share their frames of reference within a detailed subject. Bush exhibits these characteristics but without an indication that it’s related in the least to areas of subject depth and complexity.

I have seen similar behavioural patterns in people who speak to large groups, though. It’s usually when these people have no idea what they’re talking about yet must remain authoritative. This would also explain the narrow and repetitive subject matter.

It was interesting – one of the reporters asked President Bush a question about an Amnesty International report on the United States’ “secret” locations around the world where they continue to “disappear” people to when they need to escape US Constitutional protections.

This reporter asked, is this true? And also, is there any way that President Bush can explain or shed some light on the growing number of countries in the world, including our allies, that view America in such a harsh and distrustful light lately? Why does he think this is happening?

Bush’s reaction was to laugh, and call the Amnesty International report “absurd”. He said that Amnesty International was getting all their information from people who hate the United States and who are trained to lie.

Then he quickly left it at that – did not address why he thought our international image has slipped so far, and went on to the next question.

However, every other question he could ramble on for a very long time, mostly repeating himself over and over.

When asked if he would consider a less radical judge for nomination to the Supreme Court, he responded that we’d have to wait and see if the Senate will approve his current highly controversial appointee to the US Ambassadorship to the U.N.

I thought, this is such a petty little man. So insecure in his own sense of self that he compensates by placing his own ego as the Prime Mover instead of the larger interests of All.

He hides from questions that bring light to the darker side of things, and becomes agitated and angry when he senses it.

And to compensate for that, he touts a glorious moral center that is founded upon his respect for life and the love of God – as if simply saying these words absolves all wrong.

I have seen this often in people. It mostly comes in people who use religion as an excuse, or a pat answer when their egos need one. This is in no way a spritual thing – it is Religion utterly devoid of the spirit.

I know that we have a lot of people like this in our country. They say they are righteous while committing horrible acts. They hate and lie fundamentally while holding Truth and Love on high. They act like they’re smart and don’t need to learn a thing more, while simultaneously knowing deep down they’re so stupid.

I see this all the time.

We all know what’s really going on, and why. I was watching him, marveling at the duplicity. I kept thinking, surely we’re beyond this now… Surely there is warmth beyond such icey chill.

Macaroni and Cheese is More Courageous Than Software?

Next July will see the 7th quadrennial international Gay Games happening in Chicago. In 2002 there were 11,000 athletes participating and in 1998 13,000. For Gay Games VII they are expecting to exceed 12,000 participants.

Opening Ceremonies will be held on July 15th at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. Closing Ceremonies will be held at the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field.

Of course, corporate sponsorship plays a major role in achieving game viability, just like any sporting event. The Gay Games are beginning to get some big players backing them.

Recently, Kraft Foods, the largest producer of consumer foods in the US came under fire from the “religious right”, namely the American Family Association, in an attempt to derail Kraft Food’s support for the Gay Games VII.

As we know, when a similar tactic happened to Microsoft for their support of Marriage Equality in Washington State, Microsoft caved in immediately, withdrawing their support for equality. Microsoft, supposedly representing wonderous things for our future – revolutionary changes, etc.

But here we have Kraft Foods, an old and venerable company, standing tall and unphased by the pressure of these hate groups. In an internal memo to employees from Marc Firestone, the Executive Vice President, Corporate Counsel of Kraft Foods, Marc write:

“It can be difficult when we are criticized. It’s easy to say you support a concept or a principle when nobody objects. The real test of commitment is how one reacts when there are those who disagree. I hope you share my view that our company has taken the right stand on diversity, including its contribution to the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.”

Yay for Kraft!! And yet another reason for Microsoft to look pathetic — the strength and commitment of Macaroni and Cheese overshadowing this technology giant’s tuck-tail-and-run attitude.

But perhaps Kraft Foods is just purely evil, and Microsoft is good. After all, Kraft Foods is owned in the largest majority by the Altria Group who also own the great tabacco giant, Philip Morris.

However, as a smoker, and someone who still likes, though it’s not easy to admit, processed cheese spread on Triscuits, and also being someone who dislikes Microsoft’s products and tactics — not to mention that I like men — I have to say I side with the smoking cheese eaters who like to sweat over the grovelling little weasles.

Hmm. Maybe I’ve been living out here in Kent too long this time. Naw…

Powers Expanding Indefinitely

Toward the end of this year, many “sunset” provisions in the Patriot Act will have the sun go down on upon them, easing some of the sweeping authorities government agencies were granted by the Act.

Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration is making it a legislative priority to have these authorities not only extended, but extended indefinately and expanded.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has managed to obtain a draft of the bill that will come before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, the 26th of May, 2005 during a closed door session.

As we’ve already learned, it’s perfectly legal, and is happening, that laws effecting us can exist without our knowledge, hidden from us, yet still binding upon us.

We have also learned that government agencies can force information from people or organizations without having to go through judicial processes or oversight, and can compel these people or organizatinos to reveal nothing of the government’s actions under pain of prosecution.

This Senate Committee is now putting together legislation that can make these powers permanent, and even expand upon them. The Bush Administration desires this.

Let your voice be heard, while it can, and if you dare.

Special thanks to Dr. zZz for this piece of art which I abscondended with. If you like electronic music, icey stillness, sleep and long, deepening dreams, visit the.zzzone – we started streaming music around the same time, many years ago. He’s wonderful.

Tearing Up Pollution

Something positive – not from our doing, but the Earth’s atmosphere itself.

It’s very possible that organic compounds called methyl hydroperoxide in the Earth’s troposphere react with low spectrum ultraviolet radiation, breaking up to produce hydroxyl radicals (one oxygen and one hydrogen atom) which are very good at absorbing hydrocarbons – a big source of air pollution.

Researchers Joseph Francisco (Purdue) and Amitabha Sinha (UC San Diego), with their cute little helper Jamie Matthews discovered this using a nifty new laser technique called action spectroscopy to help them determine spectral frequencies absorbed by these lower-region ultraviolet light-absorbing methyl hydroperoxide molecules, which they believe are breaking down into OH.

The nasty hydrocarbons mostly get destroyed by rain droplets absorbing them and dragging them back down to earth or sunlight’s energy just breaking them apart, or OH ripping them up. Their research shows that a lot of OH production might be unaccounted for, at least 20% of it. This is good news!

But it doesn’t mean we can scrap the Kyoto Accords…

Speaking of which, it seems our government still thinks the Kyoto Accords are a silly idea, even though most of the world has adopted them (if not funding them). But Mike pointed out a very, very interesting thing to me a while back, and progress has been made since.

Our mayor here in Seattle is leading the way for smaller regional governments to take up the torch for saving our planet when our national government fails us. The Northwest Environmental Watch says this:

Major props to Seattle mayor Greg Nickels who recently started the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. It is becoming something of a smackdown to federal leadership that refuses to take global warming seriously. The idea is simple: if the US government won’t ratify the Kyoto Protocol, then the constituent parts of the nation will.

Now that is something for us to be proud of. The full list of mayors who have signed their cities onboard is available, and even include New York City!

Thanks for pointing this out to me Mike – it’s very, very reassuring to know that at least some people can retain some sense.

Crime Rate Down, More People In Jail

The United States of America truly does lead the world in many ways. For example, we hold the number one spot considering all countries in the world – imprisoning the largest percentage of our population.

The Federal Government has increased prison populations by 6.3 percent in 2004. The State of Texas has the most people behind bars, according to the Houston Chronicle.

To summarize, we are imprisoning people, and not letting them out, at a rate that is increasing our prison populations by 900 more people each week.

In 2003 one in every 140 people were in prison. In 2004 one in every 138 people were in prison.

Is it possible we might look at the causes of this, rather than increasing our ability to punish people? And if we look at the causes, can we look at curing the causes, rather than medicating, either literally or metaphorically, our population into a half-dead slumber?

I created this US Population, Crime and Imprisonment chart from data gathered from the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics mostly.

It should be noted that the largest and fastest growing group of people in prison are drug-related criminals – mostly arrests made for marijuana. These people represent a huge portion of the people incarcerated, often with mandatory sentences. The DOJ does not make it easy to see this, lumping people into categories of property and violent crime categories only (subdivided with more detail, of course). Drug crimes are more paternalistic than criminal.

It is a true waste of our money, and a waste of many people’s lives. Click on the graph if you’d like a bigger PDF version to view.