greeting

Please make yourself at home! Check some tags, do some reading, leave a comment.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Waterboarding is Torture

Let AFJ be crystal clear on a subject where these men are opaque: Waterboarding is a torture technique that has its history rooted in the Spanish Inquisition. In 1947, the U.S. prosecuted a Japanese military officer for carrying out a form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian during World War II.

Waterboarding inflicts on its victims the terror of imminent death. And as with all torture techniques, it is, therefore, an inherently flawed method for gaining reliable information. In short, it doesn’t work. That blunt truth means all U.S. leaders, present and future, should be clear on the issue.

From the Armed Forces Journal.

HT: Sully.

Monday, November 26, 2007

NAU

People keep asking me about the North American Union (NAU). As one of its architects, I am sworn to secrecy. Blast these Boston Globe reporters!

h/t Drezner.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Kid Fishing


With friends from Germany, at Brainard Lake near Ward. Great place to take kids fishing because the brookies are hungry! This was in July 2007.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Belgium"

Always struck me as a fictional place, especially after having lived in Brussels for a year.

Ingrid Robeyns has a great analysis.

Friday, September 14, 2007

About freaking time.

In an interview with the BBC, Professor John Marburger, Bush’s chief science adviser, said it was an “unequivocal” fact that climate change is man-made and that greenhouse gases emitted by human activity are to blame.
h/t: Think Progress.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

An American Hero ...


... who shall remain nameless. And a few buddies.

The Shadow Warrior says this: "it is very bad here on all levels from the highest policy levels to the guys with boots on the ground".

Come back safe and soon, my friend. Godspeed.

CU as "public authority"

From the Colorado Daily:
CU may take yet another step to free itself from controls imposed by the state of Colorado. The university may file to become a “public authority,” a public corporation contracted by the state to fulfill a public benefit or service. CU is currently an “enterprise,” a governmental organization that executes state power and responsibility. Moving from an enterprise to a public authority would loosen CU from limits imposed by the state.
Also found this little tidbit interesting:

"Colorado is ranked 48th in the nation for higher-education funding as a share of personal income, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Delicious Beer Alert

West Coast IPA from Green Flash Brewing Co. in San Diego is deliciously hoppy. That is all.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Summer Surge Data

Nice job, Kevin Drum.


Violence Metrics


June/July
2006

June/July
2007


Change

Iraqi Military and Police Killed

349

429

Up 23%

Multiple Fatality Bombings

110

82

Down 25%

# Killed in Mult. Fatality Bombings

885

1,053

Up 19%

Iraqi Civilians Killed
(All violent causes)

6,739

5,300

Hard to say1

U.S. Troop Fatalities

104

187

Up 80%

U.S. Troops Wounded

983

1,423

Up 45%

Size of Insurgency

20,000+

~70,0002

Up ~250%

Attacks on Oil and Gas Pipelines

8

143

Up 75%

1Methodology changed dramatically between 2006 and 2007, so numbers are highly suspect.
2Number is for March 2007.
3Numbers are for June only. No July numbers are available.

Infrastructure Metrics


June/July
2006

June/July
2007


Change

Diesel Fuel Available

26.7 Ml

20.7 Ml

Down 22%

Kerosene Available

7.08 Ml

6.3 Ml

Down 11%

Gasoline Available

29.4 Ml

22.2 Ml

Down 24%

LPG Available

4,936 tons

4,932 tons

Down 0.1%

Electricity Generated

8,800 Mwatts

8,420 Mwatts

Down 4%

Hours Electricity Per Day

11.7

10.14

Down ~14%

4No numbers available for June/July. Figure is extrapolated from May and August numbers.

h/t Yglesias, who adds that
the surge is working if your definition of "working" doesn't require a decrease in violence or an increase in the viability of Iraq's basic infrastructure.
Nicely done.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

This is just nuts

Man, shit is totally out of control. I am actually frightened. Just a tidbit from Glenn Greenwald:
McConnell clearly described that in 1978, we enacted a law prohibiting warrantless eavesdropping; the Bush administration broke that law repeatedly; and the telecommunications companies actively participated in that lawbreaking. And now -- as a matter of national security -- the Bush administration is demanding that Congress pass a new law declaring that telecom companies are immune from any and all consequences -- both civil and criminal -- in the event they are found to have violated the law. It is hard to imagine open contempt for the rule of law being expressed more explicitly than this.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sometimes I am of two minds ...

Legal wiretaps on rise in Colorado
The number of phones secretly wiretapped by Colorado law enforcement hit a 10-year high last year, leading to large drug busts statewide while raising concerns about the privacy of innocent people.
The increase in the court-authorized wiretaps was led by the U.S. Attorney's Office, which used 108 wiretaps in its first year under U.S. Attorney for Colorado Troy Eid. That's four times the number used in the 12 months prior to Eid's August 2006 arrival, according to data from his office.
State prosecutors, meanwhile, got permission to use 43 wiretaps in 2006 - more than in the previous nine years combined, according to an annual report by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
... but actually, I think I'd rather err on the side of civil rights, thank you very much.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mark My Words

Brandon Marshall is going to be a star receiver in the NFL.

Worried about the Broncos defense, though, I have to admit.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Potter Post

Just finished reading Harry Potter books 1-6. Have #7 ordered and will probably read it on Sunday.

Not sure where things will go. There's a great blogpost somewhere that has given me some ideas, so what little is below is probably not of my own devising. Anyway, a few thoughts.

1) R.A.B. is Regulus Black.
2) The Hog's Head barman, Dumbledore's brother, has a role to play.
3) Harry is, himself, a Horcrux. I believe he's the one from Godric Gryffindor, because I believe he is descended from GG.
4) I had thought that HP would have to sacrifice himself (Jesus-like) to get rid of the Horcrux, but it's been made clear that the 7th bit of Voldemort's soul, the bit residing in his body, has to be destroyed last, so I don't see how that will work. But I do think Harry vanquishes V and dies in the process.
5) The International Relations/diplomacy angle will figure in, as both sides compete to form coalitions with the various other kinds of magical creatures.

Really neat books, good to read them all again.

Update: here's one of the posts I cribbed from.

And this one by Russell Arben Fox.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Some Colorado Camping

Summer 2006, Turquoise Lake. Wildernet. Beautiful, to be sure. But a little overcrowded. Running water was a big plus for TW.



On the way home, K#4 got to go horseback riding on "Hawken" ... with Mount Massive in the background!

Summer 2006, Pearl Lake State Park. Wildernet. Gorgeous, serene, tranquility!!! Highly recommended if you are looking to escape for a few days. Didn't catch any fish, but lots and lots of crawdads there to keep the kids entertained. We did some canoeing thanks to TW's friend and had a great old time.

Summer 2007, Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Wildernet. I thought this would be a cheesy day-visitor type of place, since it's so close to Denver, Golden, Boulder, etc. But boy was I wrong. We were in the Aspen Meadows area, which is tent camping only, at about 9,000 feet. Beautiful spot, nice and serene. No action at all on Dude's Fishing Hole, though the views from there are pretty nice, with some especially nice rock outcroppings. Big downside, not mentioned in any guides or descriptions that I saw, was that cars are parked away from campsites. So, for our campsite (#35), we had to hoof our stuff maybe 200 yards to our campsite. D'oh! The creek isn't much either. But this was a beautiful, tranquil spot.

Summer 2007, Pawnee Campground on the shores of Brainard Lake, near Indian Peaks Wilderness, in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. Wildernet. Ahhh, the Rocky Mountains. This place is incredible. Gorgeous views of glaciers and glacier trails. Snow still on the ground at the campground (elevation ca. 10,300). Easy catching of brookies on Powerbait in Brainard Lake -- Ks 1-3 all caught, #s 1 and 2 totally on their own. K2's was actually a beatuful 14" rainbow. Massive hailstorm put a damper on our second day, but this places is truly glorious. We'll definitely be going back, if only for day trips.

Up second week of July 2007, fly fishing on the Arkansas!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

'zackly

Farls, in a long post considering various things having to do with the case some are making for invading Iran, says this about Iraqi WMD:
While the allegations about chemical weapons formed the center of the administration's case for war, the real problem is not that the administration was lying (although it was), but rather that Iraqi WMD, even if they existed, did not furnish a plausible reason for war. It doesn't excuse the administration to say that its sin was two-fold; on the one hand, it lied about the existence of WMD, and on the other it lied about the implications of WMD. Even if the United States had found a rump WMD program, it would not have justified the war, and I doubt very much that it would have affected the course of the insurgency. Like an attack on Iran for supporting Iraqi insurgents, invading Iraq for having WMD was stupid on its own merits.
Exactly. This was, in my view, the soundest reason for opposing the Iraq War at the time. It just wasn't necessary.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Battle of Algiers, again

Saw Battle of Algiers again today. Great stuff, and so resonant with US in Iraq. You've got your torture, and your generic willingness to forego legality at the altar of lethality and alleged effectiveness. You've got Mathieu telling the media to toe the line (though US MSM ca. 2007 would never dare to ask such tough questions, nor politicians to give such frank answers). You've got moral ambiguity all over the place. You've got your major power unleashing and eventually losing to forces that it seemed not at all to understand. Etc. Really strong film.

Tenure!

'nuff said.

Parlez-vous EU?

This here is some classic EU-speak. Still, it's amazing and imporant to see ridiculous, artificially-precise and seemingly legalized procedural arcania representing the presumptive response to disagreement -- as opposed to, oh, I dunno, war.
In addition, until 31 March 2017, if members of the Council representing at least 75% of the population or at least 75% of the number of Member States necessary to constitute a blocking minority as provided in Article [I-25(2)] indicate their opposition to the Council adopting an act by a qualified majority, the mechanism provided for in the draft Decision contained in Declaration nº 5 annexed to the Final Act of the 2004 IGC [shall apply]. As from 1 April 2017, the same mechanism will apply, the relevant percentages being, respectively, at least 55% of the population or at least 55% of the number of Member States necessary to constitute a blocking minority as provided in Article [I-25(2)].
From Council Conclusions to the recent summit, via James Wimberley at The Reality-Based Community.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Midnight Express

Saw Midnight Express for the first time a few nights ago. I guess it looked interesting based on the Blockbuster online description.

Feh. Didn't like it. Was not persuaded or in the least moved by the main character's descent into madness. Poorly acted, phony feeling, in particular in the rendering of the Turkish as monsters, but also in Billy Hays's initial indifference to being imprisoned. Didn't really get the point of the British-educated guy in section 13 (the nuthouse part) ... whole thing just felt lame and overdone to me.

One of imdb's commentators refers favorably to it as a "delicious, homoerotic S&M-tinged slice of the 70's", which I guess is about right. (Not the 'delicious' part, mind you, NTTAWWT.)

Wait, Oliver Stone was involved? Shocking that it would be lame.

Oh well. Two thumbs down.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Judgment at Nuremberg

Saw "Judgment at Nuremberg" for the first time last week. Loved it. I wish our current regime would take a look at this and see how those accused of even the most heinous acts should be treated. The way we treat our captives expresses who we are, not who they are.

I like the way the movie builds up our sympathies for Dr. Ernst Janning, played by Burt Lancaster, only, at the end, to remind us that he was, indeed, guilty. However bad the system in which we find ourselves, and however much we try to rationalize doing bad things because alternatives are even worse, we are still responsible for the bad things we do. Janning had choices and he chose to do some very bad things.

Anyway, good flick.

Generous Americans

We give lots more in charity than Europeans do. Not at all surprising to me.

Monday, June 25, 2007

On the Road

Just read this for the first time. Loved it. Have a few quotes that I'd like to single out but don't have the book in front of me. Anyway, a neat American adventure that's utterly without a purpose, which purposelessness, of course, makes it deeply suspect in today's America.

Of course have seen it said many times, but I was struck by how much this anticipated Kesey's trip. Also read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test a few months ago, and of course it sounds like Neal (Dean Moriarty) didn't change a lick in the 15+ intervening years. What a wild man.

FWIW, I see that Naropa University is doing a Kerouac Festival next week. Looks like fun!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Takedown!

David Rieff brilliantly takes down some of Anne-Marie Slaughter's romanticism about America and its role in the world. I love the ideals she lays out, but his empirical critique is spot-on, IMO.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What's the hortatory subjunctive of "shut the fuck up"?

I was no fan of Slick Willy, and found his "depends on what the meaning of 'is' is" to be a real low in the annals of democratic (small 'd') accountability.

But this is probably just as bad.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Planet of the Apes

So was surfing this morning and caught the middle part of the first "Planet of the Apes" movie. I am sure that others have picked up on this (not that it's particularly subtle), but I love the idea that Chuck Heston is on the side of science, with the apes subjugating science to religion (with Dr. Zaeus both Minister of Science and "keeper of the scrolls"). It makes for pretty funny viewing in light of the christianist position against evolution and the general anti-science stance of a chunk of not just our population, but our "leadership".

Ha ha!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Economist on economics of immigration reform

Neat little piece in the June 2nd "economics focus" feature, entitled "Guests v gatecrashers". Bottom line:
illegal immigration might cost native-born residents some 0.07% of GDP.

But that net cost, if it exists at all, is clearly less than the price of keeping illegal workers out. Since 2001 Congress has more than doubled the amount of money spent on securing the borders and enforcing immigration laws. Mr Bush's 2008 budget proposes spending $13 billion, or 0.1% of GDP. The senators' plans would be even more expensive. A needlessly cumbersome guest-worker plan and a costly war on gatecrashers are bad ideas—even if you don't give a fig for the welfare of would-be migrants.

Yes, I think our concern about illegal immigration is largely misplaced and racist.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

the downside of globalization

OK, I know that globalization has some very real negative consequences on some people who can ill-afford to suffer them. But let me just point out another downside of globalization: all that damn flopping in the NBA. Anyone who watched last year's World Cup soccer match will recognize Manu Ginobili's technique, for example -- BAM, as if taking a close-range shotgun blast. All that's lacking are the stretchers.

Worse, blue-blooded American boys have recognized the incentive to play along and are doing the same thing, with no apparent pride whatsoever.

Give us back our game.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Beneath the Underdog

Finished it a week or so ago. Feh. Didn't really get what people see in it. That it's nonlinear and therefore somehow jazzy? I thought it was self-indulgent crap. I need to look up some info (maybe read a real biography of Mingus) to find out when it was written. It wouldn't surprise if it was ca. 1970, when what CM was playing doesn't move me much, either. But what do I know.

I just wish there were some actual discussion of, ummm, music.

Also read Theodore Roszek's The Making of a Counterculture, which I enjoyed a lot. A little heavy-handed at places, and the author seems to be trying too hard to sound profound, but his analysis, that the counterculture represented an attempted to rediscover magic and rescue life from the technocracy, made good sense to me.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Brrr ......

More chill in East-West relations (funny sounding term, huh?) as Putin says that Russia will put a moratorium on implementing the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty.

The Economist says it won't quite use the term "new Cold War", but notes the CFE withdrawal and a slip of the tongue by Condi Rice, in which she allegedly refers to "Soviet" rather than Russia.

I am glad to hear that Putin reasserted that he'll step down as Russian President, though I do wonder who will be next, and he will be like.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ségo v. Sarko

Not terribly surprising. It was definitely the safest bet, though of course "safe" is not a word one generally uses in connection with predicting French election outcomes.

The FT characterizes this as a return to the classic Left-Right confrontation, which is hard to disagree with. But my sense is that things are more concentrated around the Center, with Le Pen's poor showing and a paltry 1.9% for the PCF candidate.

CNN.com's lead story is, perhaps predictably, a little weird. In particular, there is a strongly gendered dichotomy on offer here. First, this:
The choice is now between two starkly different visions for France -- the pro-American hardline ex-interior minister promising swift change or the first woman with an honest chance at becoming the country's leader, a candidate who is promising a gentler approach to reform.
So, the man is "hard" (or some derivation thereof) and the woman is "gentle"? Hm. Then, this:
Royal, a lawmaker and feminist who says she makes political decisions based on what she would do for her children
Feminism of a sort, I guess.

Anyway, should be an interesting two weeks. If I had to go out on a limb I'd guess Sarkozy takes it on May 6th, but I don't feel particularly confident about it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Right On, Francis

The EU's attempt to transcend sovereignty and traditional power politics by establishing a transnational rule of law is much more in line with a "post-historical" world than the Americans' continuing belief in God, national sovereignty, and their military.
So saith Francis Fukuyama.

HT: Sully.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Europe: Successes and Limitations

Moravcsik has a piece in Newsweek International which I have only skimmed but which, on that basis, I largely agree with. The Europe of 2007 reflects a truly remarkable set of achievements which my Tata Madeleine (nee 1909) would never have considered possible. Let's not let its pathologies, complexities, etc. obscure this from view.

Drezner is less sanguine.

I also largely agree with what Martin Rhodes has recently written about the future of Europe.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Current Riders of the Purple Sage

Saw the New Riders of the Purple Sage in town last month and now, through the generosity of Dawg House Audio and Tim Steigler, have a chance to re-hear the show. Had a great old time that night and think it holds up well on disc. Highly recommended.

Black Gold

Just watched Black Gold: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. Despite the overbearing subtitle, it is actually pretty deft in making its case to the average 1st World coffee drinker. It starts off with the coffee side of things for the first 50 minutes or so, then spends some time on the more general issues of the developing world and the workings of the WTO. I like the latter angle, too, as it focuses less on the WTO qua IO and more on the ways in which the US and EU dictate terms to the poor all while maintaining their own ridiculous agricultural subsidies.

All in all, a nice piece of work. Recommended.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Comfort Women Apology Withdrawn

Via Farls at LGM I read that the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has withdrawn the Japanese government's official 1992 apology for atrocities to "Comfort Women", enslaved into sexual servitude by the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII.

Celtic Dragon runs a longer entry on this, including some gut-wrenching, absolutely nauseating first-hand testimony. What a horrible, horrible thing.

What a world.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

GD 19710621 Chateau d'Hérouville

edited 20110903
In January 2007, Hanno Bunjes made a post at his now defunct blog at yurk.net describing the joy of discovering some almost-unseen video footage of the Grateful Dead playing at Chateau d'Hérouville near Paris, France, on June 21, 1971, from the French government's archival copy (Vive la bureaucracie!).

I had a link to that post here, made in February 2007, but linky-no-worky for the defunct blog. So, with Hanno's permission, I am just reposting his post, for posterity, Hanno's original post to posting to yurk.net from January 16, 2007:

I feel like I'm one of the first deadheads in the world to watch this.

The film footage from the legendary Grateful Dead concert in Hérouville (6/21/71) has finally surfaced. For decades it has existed only as a rumor, nobody in deadland claimed to have seen the footage.

How did this come to light now, 35 years after the fact? The French Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA) keeps archives of everything (more or less) ever broadcast on French television and radio. They have started to sell the contents of their archives online. Among them are three editions of "Pop Deux" from 1971 that contain footage from the Hérouville concert*. It's that simple.

You can watch short snippets online, but only € 18 will get you the real thing: high-quality, copy-protected DivX video downloads. You'll only be able to watch them with special players and "authenticated" DVD players. The files are watermarked so that INA will be able to trace any copies to your credit card. I don't think we will see this footage on bt.etree.org anytime soon.

It is worth the hassle though. The footage is a deadhead's wet dream coming true. There are several full-length songs** shot with two cameras in colour, with an interview with Jerry Garcia in between. The stage in Hérouville is set up in what looks to be the inner courtyard of the Chateau d'Hérouville. The small audience seems to consist of French villagers who very likely have no idea of who is playing (the gig was never advertised). They do the right thing and dance - probably not least to fight the cold nighttime air that makes the singers' breath condensate. In short, the film is very well done and captures a unique atmosphere. The finding of this footage is a major event in the dead's long history of taping. The footage should be somehow "liberated" and distributed for everyone to see. For now, unfortunately, it looks like that's not going to happen.

[note 2011- I was obviously wrong about that part]

(Wait until the lawyers find about this one - Pop Deux had some really big names on their show.)

* July 24, October 9, November 27 are the relevant dates that come up when you search for "grateful dead". The other search results do not contain Hérouville footage as far as I can determine from the description.

** Loser, China Rider, Hard to Handle, Deal, Sugar Magnolia and Sing Me Back Home, and others

P.S. After I finished the post I found "http://paris70.free.fr/auvers71.htm">this excellent account of the events at Château d'Hérouville. Read it. Garcia calls it "the group's most exotic gig".

I will be making a full-on post about this gig at some point. In the meantime, thanks Hanno!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Yes, we torture

According to Col. Stuart Herrington. Via Sully.

IOs and Politics

Henry notes that Putin is pushing back against the OSCE.

First, I am less sanguine than Henry about the pure-drivenness of the OSCE's motives. Makes perfect sense to me that it should be anti-Russian. Power --> institutions.

Second, Putin is a scary man. "Spook spooky spook" -- hilarious!

Third, sure is getting chilly in East-West relations. Brrrr.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Battle of Algiers

Finally saw Battle of Algiers last night ... magnificent! It will reward repeated viewing. Of course, the torture and counterinsurgency techniques depicted seem, with certain exceptions, relatively mild compared to what we are surely doing in Iraq and in connection with the GWOT. With certain exceptions (the bombing of occuped houses, execution), a sense of civilization and restraint, however vague, still seems to permeate things. And this notwithstanding Mathieu's denial (really, evasion of the question) of constraints imposed by law.

Check out Farls on The Dark Soul of Colonel Mathieu. Brilliant stuff. Not the banality of evil, Farls claims, but more a statement about how humans can be mere technologies of domination. For whom or for what may be irrelevant.

I plan on posting on some of Joy Gordon's related ideas at some point.