Since North Wall was recently repaved I thought I'd give my old commute route a try. I guess it goes without saying that it was a nice, smooth ride. (How else can you say something that goes without saying?) But I did notice the left turn lanes at Wellesley are wider. Consequently, the adjacent lane in the opposite direction is much narrower. Take the lane so those impatient drivers won't be tempted to squeeze by. Ripping down the hill on Post was great this morning. No wind, no cops and no speeding ticket.
It's primary election time and the flyers are arriving in the mail. The Washington Optometric Political Action Committee is supporting a Republican challenger for the 6th district state representative who happens to be a doctor of Optometry. "A clear vision for our community." (No doubt they worked for hours on that slogan. "Hey, I have an idea. We can use words like vision or sight or something like that. Because it's optometry, get it? Huh? Get it?") And because of the quality eye care he has provided they say he is the kind of leader we need in Olympia. I'm sorry, but I'm not convinced that being an optometrist and knowing how to do his job qualifies Mr. Sees So Good as a legislator.
The Washington Optometric Political Action Committee split 51 donations to incumbents almost 26-25 in favor of Democrats and gave to only four non-incumbents of each party.
"Optometric issues are non-partisan," said Paul Jensen, the committee's treasurer. "We're not really gut-level issues like abortion and gun control. Mainly we support candidates to remind them that we're still around."
Yes, but we elect people to make laws about abortion, gun control, education, taxes, and more. So what do you see in our future if you are elected? Don't hide where you stand in a cloud of fog. Put it all out there in plain sight where we can see it. We cannot make an informed decision if we're lost in the dark. Get it? It's optometry, get it? Huh? Huh?
Kellogg's commissioned a study that showed a breakfast of Frosted Mini-Wheats improved attentiveness in kids by 20% over a breakfast of...wait for it....water.
Children were tested prior to eating breakfast to get a base measurement. Then, children were either provided a breakfast of Kellogg’s® Frosted Mini-Wheats® cereal or water. Next, the children were given a series of tests (the same tests and measurements as prior to the breakfast) each hour for three consecutive hours. The results were taken for three hours after breakfast since this is most likely when children may start to feel hungry, which may lead to distraction.
Apparently the kids that didn't eat were quite likely just getting hungrier so they had more difficulty paying attention. That means eating breakfast is better than not eating breakfast. I had no idea.
Maybe Kellogg's will do something to address this serious development and donate Frosted Mini-Wheats to food banks so the kids who really miss breakfast won't have to. Hey Kellogg's, are you paying attention?
I doubt Congress will impeach Bush or Cheney. Nor do I think anyone in the administration will ever be held responsible or accountable for the decisions and actions with respect to torture, extraordinary rendition, going to war or anything else influenced by the encroachment of a unitary executive theory on our governmental system. Bush and Cheney have used the unitary executive argument to stonewall Congress, keep information secret, and violate laws; taking Nixon's, "Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal," to the extreme. Bush penned hundreds of signing statements stating his ability to determine the authority, constitutionality, and enforcement over all or parts of the law he was signing into effect. He willfully violated FISA by having telecom companies cooperate with the NSA and intercept innumerable electronic communications without a search warrant. He authorized high level discussions about torture.
Take notice that these infringements take place just a little step at a time. We are distracted by fear at what could happen in front of us. We yell, "Green light!" in response to an exaggerated threat we're told will attack us if we take our eyes off it. We're not crying "Red light!" and spinning around to catch the real threat that's been approaching from behind all along.
John tagged me. He did so politely so I'll play. It reminds me of a chain letter so I claim my right to be contumacious--mainly so I could use the word. So here we go...
If you could have any one — and only one — bike in the world, what would it be? One that worked.
Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you’re not working toward getting it, why not? Yes. It works.
If you had to choose one — and only one — bike route to do every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why? One that took me to my destination. So I would get there.
What kind of sick person would force another person to ride one and only one bike ride to to do for the rest of her / his life? A fever-wracked, schizophrenic worshiper of Gozer.
Do you ride both road and mountain bikes? If both, which do you prefer and why? If only one or the other, why are you so narrow minded? Yes. Neither.
Have you ever ridden a recumbent? If so, why? If not, describe the circumstances under which you would ride a recumbent. No. If I had one.
Have you ever raced a triathlon? If so, have you also ever tried strangling yourself with dental floss? No, the planet Triath is well known for breeding mean-spirited competitors who excel at poor sportsmanship. Triathlons are well known for garroting their opponents with dental floss.
Suppose you were forced to either give up ice cream or bicycles for the rest of your life. Which would you give up, and why? A false dilemma. This is not an either/or situation.
What is a question you think this questionnaire should have asked, but has not? Also, answer it. Q: Can the tagging end with this post? A: Yes.
You’re riding your bike in the wilderness (if you’re a roadie, you’re on a road, but otherwise the surroundings are quite wilderness-like) and you see a bear. The bear sees you. What do you do? If I'm hungry I eat the bear. If not, the bear lives.
Now, tag three biking bloggers. List them below. See the question that should have been asked.
The American Library Association wants us to join them in the fight for our right to privacy. After the Patriot Act was passed, The FBI used National Security Letters to obtain library records, business records, and pretty much anything else they wanted. The NSL is essentially a search warrant that doesn't have to be approved by a judge and there's a bonus--it comes with a gag order. So in the library's case they couldn't tell you your library records were taken by the FBI. Many libraries fought back. They stopped keeping records!
Privacy in the digital age is tough. Oftentimes we here there is no right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution. One of the Bill of Rights does include it. It's one we never hear about. The Ninth Amendment says:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
In other words, just because the right to privacy is not specifically mentioned doesn't mean we don't have it. Today the silence of the Ninth Amendment is deafening. Thankfully our librarians are fighting for our right to privacy. Are you going to speak up for it? Stop by the library, check out a book, and thank them for going to bat for you.
It seems Congress is working on a bill that includes a requirement for distance-education schools to verify that the person doing the work and taking the test is the person who enrolled. This gives me an idea for a new career path where I would do online verifications for schools. I think proctorologist would be a great name for this job. My slogan: "You may feel a little pressure but it won't be from me."
But it's for a good cause. Saw this young lady today with a couple other people trying to raise a few bucks to go to a national competition. Some people run. Some ride bikes. Some Highland dance. Only a select few play the accordion.
I'm just a little bit self-conscious about the snug fit and sheer look of lycra bike shorts especially when I'm around nonriders. I once had a pair of Nike brand shorts that were so thin there was nothing left to the imagination. I mean the rolled up pair of socks was pretty darn obvious. ;-)
Anyway, I ride to work this morning and I'm in the elevator headed up to work. It stops on the next floor and a woman gets in the car. We exchange good mornings and she remarks how it must have been nice weather for riding and while she's talking she glances down and then back up. I didn't want to embarrass her by saying anything so I just chatted amiably. But I was so tempted to say something like, "Hey, my eyes are up here."
The creationism vs evolutionism "debate" has always intrigued me. Intelligent Design was determined to be creationism in a federal trial in Pennsylvania in 2005. It's amazing to me how many people will put so much stock in faith and push the physical evidence aside, but that's a topic for another day. Here's a great read from a debate between a couple of Discovery Institute (shamefully based in Washington state) scientists and a couple of evolutionary biology proponents. May the Flying Spaghetti Monster bless them all. Me, I'm a spagnostic.
Remember the huge bust of illegal aliens in Iowa back in May? I was interested in how the courts set up everything to process that many people. It was a logistics challenge to say the least. But more interesting and certainly more disturbing is the perspective of the people being processed. Have a look at this article and see a view of our legal system well beneath its best.
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Perhaps it's time to remove that poem from the base of the Statue of Liberty. And maybe the rest of us should return "home" as well.
My cycling commuting experiences have taught me that paying attention to everything is a must. Although I've avoided many close calls over the years, mostly due to driver inattention or ignorance, I can still get caught off guard. This morning on the way to work I pulled up to the four-way stop at Standard and Cozza. To my right, a classic black VW Beetle is approaching and the driver is using his hand to shield his eyes from the rising sun. I wait to make sure he's going to stop. When he stopped he flipped his visor down and I am encouraged. I start off...slowly...keeping an eye on him because he still hasn't looked yet. Sure enough without a glance in any direction he hits the gas. I slow to a near track stop and he has plenty of room to cross in front of me but noooooooooo, that 's not good enough. He's turning left--where's the turn signal!--and he's headed straight for me. I'm ripping my shoes out of the pedals figuring I have just enough time to dive out of the way once my feet hit the ground when he sees me and slams on the brakes. I'm three feet away from his bumper and he has a look of surprise and horror on his face. I read his lips as he apologizes. "I'm sorry". So although I anticipated him not seeing me, he almost ambushed me with that unsignaled turn. Lesson learned. Nobody hurt. And hopefully his guilt will make him a better driver. Eternal vigilance fellow cyclers. Eternal vigilance.
If you look at things you easily take for granted you just might find something different. You know the battery of 25 and 50-cent candy machines at the stores? The ones that make your kids ask incessantly for a quarter or two quarters? This one offers an alternative for your little angels. Instead of getting a gum ball or a hand full of red hots they could buy a saint even if they aren't one.
I could tell some great stories about things I did with fireworks, flammable liquids, and lots of other stuff forty years ago. It seems some things never change.I'm not going to say what Josh mixed together to do this. Not only does it make an excellent smoke bomb but it burns extremely hot. Above is the aluminum can with the contents being lit. Below is the puddle of molten aluminum about 20 seconds later. The main difference between now and forty years ago being that Josh was under parental supervision at the time--not that it makes it entirely right. But hey, if my brothers and I had been under parental supervision at certain times we wouldn't have unintentionally knocked out the electrical power on an entire Air Force base--twice. I'm not trying to say my parents were to blame. It's just that I'm grateful my kids will ask me beforehand when they want to do something like this. Something I never would've done.
Stephanie spent the week at Camp Reed located on Fan Lake. We picked her up this morning bug-bitten, sunburned, and with lots of stories to tell about the fun she had. If your eyes are as bad as mine, you'll need to click on the picture to see what awaits the daring cyclist at the end of the dock.
Just last Tuesday the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that President Bush has the power to indefinitely hold civilians captured in the U.S. If he determines you are an enemy combatant he can hold you in a military prison for as long as he wants and you have no recourse even if you are a U.S. citizen. As usual, Glenn Greenwald has an excellent synopsis of the case involving a Qatar citizen named Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri who came to the U.S. on September 10, 2001, to return to school.
The circuit court first heard the appeal last year the opinion then(59 pages) is a much different read than the most recent one(216 pages). In last year's opinion the three judge panel carefully addressed each point of contention and applied case law to each. I found it to be a very good example of how the legal language is parsed and meaning is determined. The panel also granted an en banc hearing in which a larger group of judges hears the appeal. Last Tuesday's opinion is the result of that. It rehashes much of last year's opinion but this one is tough to follow. Each judge concurs in part and disagrees in part but all in different parts so it's difficult to figure out what their trying to say. And then there are statements like this:
"I feel firmly, however, based on the facts presented, that al-Marri’s petition should be dismissed. The executive’s decision to detain him — or any similarly situated member of al Qaeda, lawfully in this country or not — is a proportionate response targeted precisely at those terrorists who slaughtered thousands of civilians on our soil and threaten to do the same to tens of thousands more."
This seems like a reasonable statement. And granted, when you read the government's accusations, it certainly seems like al-Marri could be a terrorist. But the question is, "What does the law say?" It matters not what you feel or that you think the president gave a proportionate response. What does the law say about al-Marri's right to habeas corpus and his status as an enemy combatant? Last year's opinion addressed that quite well. This one does not. It doesn't contain as much fear of terrorism as Justice Scalia's dissent in a recent Supreme Court ruling, but it has enough.
Most disturbingly, this opinion applies not only to legal and illegal aliens in America, but to American citizens as well. Not long after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman told us that Americans "should be careful of what they say and what they do." As a nation we submit to the rule of law--more carefully than ever before.
And I stumble across the Shit Box. The web site seems to be legit but I think it's an awesome, well crafted prank. Check out how it works. Can you picture one of these on the front rack of a bicycle casually riding around downtown Spokane?
In today's paper there's an article about the House of Representatives passing a nonbinding "sense of Congress" resolution saying flags flown over federal building should be made in America. Apparently globalism and the free market are fine for all other goods, but the flag flying over the Post Office needs to be American made. Why does it matter? As long as the flag is made the correct size and design, who cares? The flag doesn't have a tag on it that says "Do not remove under penalty of law" just above "Made in China". And if this is so important, why draw the line at the flag? Should we require American-made flag pins for those federal employees and legislators who choose to wear one? To me this is an indicator of what globalism has done to us. We listen to our Chinese-made iPods, burn Venezuelan gas in our Japanese-made cars, eat Chilean apples and Australian oranges, and wear clothing made in Central America. And what has happened as a result?
We have lost our capability to be self sufficient and so we fool ourselves into thinking it makes a difference where our flag is made. Is that all we've got going for us? If you've ever looked at the Foxfire books you'll find that we used to make our own soap and cheese and wagons and fiddles. We gave birth at home attended by a midwife. We knew which plants had medicinal value and which were poisonous. We raised chickens, pigs, cows and horses and knew how to care for them. Today we throw it away when it breaks and buy a new one. Quickly, because we can't wait. We rely on corporations for food and clothing. We willfully submit to so-called experts who make decisions about our health, nutrition, and exercise. What does it say about us when we drive to a fitness center that we pay to join, where we pay a trainer to tell us what to do in order to be physically fit? Like that nonbinding "sense of Congress" resolution, it makes no sense at all.
I've always thought the war on terrorism was absolutely ludicrous and our Congress recently gave an example of why this is so. After the attacks on Sep 11, 2001, President Bush, rather than specifically going after the people who attacked us, decided to create an all encompassing war known as the Global War on Terror. Terrorist groups from all over the world were added to the list of whom we were at war with. We don't differentiate between those who fight against oppression and those who fight to impose their particular religious, political, or social views. (After all, that's depends on your perspective as well as your political and economic interests.)
As I mentioned before, Congress recently provided a shining example of why this is a farce. Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and former leader of the African National Congress, had to be officially declared not a terrorist so he could travel unrestricted to the United States. So Congress passed a bill stating the ANC is no longer a terrorist organization and President Bush signed it. Otherwise Mandela could not travel to America without special restrictions and without being certified by the U.S. State Department. And with the passing of this bill the State Department no longer has to embarrassingly certify ANC members within the South African government, including the Foreign Minister--Secretary Rice's equivalent--for each and every visit they make here.
Why was the ANC listed as a terrorist organization? I don't know. They were never listed on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. So there must be another list or means of determination where anyone who fought against their own government can be designated a terrorist or somehow associated with terrorism. Well with that line of reasoning one could determine that the Daughters of the American Revolution is an organization that's supports terrorism and the Loyalist Society are not our enemies.
I went for a walk at lunch today and brought the camera along just in case I stumbled across something which I did. Where Riverside and Sprague meet, there is a small obelisk surrounded by a tangle of bushes. I checked it out and discovered it was a monument to those who fought against Spain, fought in the Philippine Insurrection, and served in the China Relief in the wake of the Boxer Rebellion. Lands and people subdued. Empires won and lost. Ozymandias comes to mind.
Cable has crazy people like Glenn Beck telling us what to think. Here are his remarks concerning the recent Supreme Court decision that says prisoners held in Guantanamo have the right to challenge their detention in court. You know, that pesky, inconvenient habeas corpus thing our Constitution says can only be suspended when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.
Beck: This court has done some frightening. frightening things….If I’m president of the US, I would go on National television and say—’ladies and gentlemen, the Supreme Court said that we don’t have Gitmo so that is over. We’re going to release all of them, but I want you to know from here on out our policy is to not have prisoners. We’re going to shoot them all in the head.’
If we think they are against us, we’re going to shoot them and kill them—period because that’s the only thing we’ve got going for us—cause we can put them away and get information. If we can’t put them away and they’re going to use our court system—kill them.
Are we frightened enough to agree to this insane line of thinking? Could we ever be that frightened? I'm all for freedom of speech, but the reason this man has a show is because people watch and companies advertise their products on it, not because CNN is concerned about freedom of speech. That is the really frightening part.
In today's Spokesman Review there was a short article about 30,000 Atlantic salmon escaping from a fish farm in the waters off British Columbia and the provincial Environmental Ministry is going to investigate. Then it explains how the salmon got out due to an anchor slipping and pulling a corner of the net down. At first glance I joked to myself that a bunch of fish had engineered their own Great Escape. But then I wondered why this was important enough to put in the paper yet it still doesn't say much of anything. Ah, a Canadian paper has more details on the impact of the escaped fish.
"You get juvenile Atlantics, they're not indigenous to the coast and they start competing with the wild salmon and they start putting the wild salmon at risk. Everything has to be done to stop having those Atlantic salmon in the ocean," she said. "Any time you bring in an invasive species or a non-indigenous species ... it poses a threat to the existing biological diversity."
Well, these are pen-raised salmon. I refuse to buy Atlantic salmon because they create an ecologicalnightmare.
"Disease is rampant among captive salmon and shrimp, Molyneaux contends, while medications used to cure disease make bacteria disease-resistant. Are shrimp and pen-raised salmon safe to eat? Don't count on it, according to "Swimming In Circles." The book cites studies that find high levels of PCBs in farmed salmon, plus organic pollutants "10 times higher" than levels in the wild fish."
Another article about the escape says there are still 450,000 salmon at the operation where the escape took place. So nearly one-half million fish are fed in the same enclosed area and all of their waste drops to the same area of the sea floor. Once you have a look at the global scale of pen-raised salmon farming it's not difficult to piece together the rest of the story.
It occurred to me that America's foreign aid could be considered the world's heroin. We tantalize countries with it. We get them hooked on it. They crave it. They can't live without it. If we cut them off they suffer dearly. They will do anything to keep getting it. Things like lowering tariffs on goods so that corporations can crowd the locals out, accept genetically modified (patented) seeds, build factories and provide low-cost workers, etc. Just a thought.
I wonder if our police, fire fighters and utility workers will receive training as Terrorism Liaison Officers like they have in Colorado where they keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
"Suspicious activity" is broadly defined in TLO training as behavior that could lead to terrorism: taking photos of no apparent aesthetic value, making measurements or notes, espousing extremist beliefs or conversing in code, according to a draft Department of Justice/Major Cities Chiefs Association document.
Those look like fairly objective criteria that any one of us could use to spot a terrorist. Look closely and you'll see suspected terrorists are practically running rampant among us. I often see people taking pictures in public, people taking notes in restaurants, people talking about hell and damnation, and people wearing special devices on their ears walking down the street talking out loud about something I know nothing about so they must be talking in code.
As a matter of fact, every time the water and gas guys come by my house they are taking notes. Wait a minute...um...I need to make a call.
A year ago a group of high school Presidential Scholars asked President Bush to "to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants." His response. “We agree. America doesn’t torture people.” Last April we learned that Bush knew and approved of high level meetings where "harsh interrogation techniques" were discussed. This included waterboarding. This was done in order to protect the American people. I have to hand it to Christopher Hitchens. I don't agree with everything he says, but I have to tip my hat to him for this. He decided to undergo the enhanced interrogation technique--torture to the rest of the civilized world--known as waterboarding. Attorney General Mukasey says waterboarding is not clearly illegal and refused to call it torture. Vice President Cheney said using waterboarding is a "no-brainer."
Mr Hitchens's account reads like a horror story. But the video is very low key and doesn't really convey the effect, at least in my mind, of a person being tortured. I would have expected someone to be squirming and fighting. Perhaps he didn't because he knew he had an out. Perhaps he was too freaked out. I would've been.
Regardless, I have it on good authority from the President of the United States that we don't torture people. By X'ing out the definitions of torture in the dictionary and moving them under "enhanced interrogation techniques" we have legally covered ourselves. Now I can visit any foreign country and proudly proclaim that my country does not torture people. I don't know about you, but that makes me feel a whole lot better.
I received the latest newsletter from Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who continues to faithfully represent congressional district 5. In the newsletter she says that she and her husband cringe every time they fill up their tank. Gas prices have skyrocketed and everyone is affected even if they don't drive. I'm with you so far, Cathy. In response, she is one of the original cosponsors of the Americans for American Energy Act. We need to meet America's energy needs with American resources and this plan does that. Okay, I'm still listening. What does this do?
* Defines hydropower as a renewable resource * Increases the supply of affordable natural gas from America’s ocean resources by giving coastal states more freedom in whether to develop energy off shore * Lifts the ban against off shore energy exploration * Promotes safe and environmentally responsible exploration and development of ANWR * Develops America’s vast oil shale resources * Helps expedite the production of domestic coal-to-liquid fuel * Promotes renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy * Promotes greater energy efficiency by increasing and extending personal and business efficiency tax credits and deductions * Adopts common sense regulatory relief and policy reforms to streamline and modernize policies that hinder energy exploration, production and transmission
Oil is a finite resource but gas prices have not skyrocketed because of a shortage. And although offshore drilling is restricted there have been thousands of drilling permits issued. It takes 10 years for new drilling to start producing. There is absolutely nothing there that addresses the skyrocketing price of gas that is happening now. What would? Well, over the past 15 years Congress has removed the Depression-era regulations that prevented speculators from driving up the price of goods--a strong contributor to the Great Depression. Oil speculators are free to do as they please and they, along with the oil companies, are making a killing--at our expense. You'll notice that the Americans for American Energy Act does nothing about that. Most of it involves the extraction of more oil at the expense of the environment. It's enough to make you cringe, isn't it?