Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Been Real

This is my final post. Shallow Cogitations is done and I'm going to direct my energy elsewhere. Thanks to everyone who dropped by to visit.

****** Update

I appreciate the positive sentiments and I apologize for any disappointment. I also apologize for not providing much of an explanation. I've had some writing ideas percolating for some time now and I going to focus my time on them. I'm going to miss doing this.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Misinformation In The Modern Age

If you haven't checked out the report on Misinformation and the 2010 Electorate (20-page PDF), please do so. But please remember one thing. Misinformation is not new. Regardless that Fox News is highlighted as presenting the most misinformation, what I get from the entire report is that we're increasingly lacking truly impartial and ethical journalism across the board.

For a recent example, have a look at how the media and our political leaders are reacting to the "devastating" leak of State Department cables.

FBC Festivus 2010

The obligatory circling of the Browne's Addition roundabout.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Even Rudolph obeys the City of Spokane's helmet law.

We had feats of strength like the ring toss...

...and an intense obstacle course...

...and slow races.

There were quite a number...

...of decorated bikes.

Prizes and free stuff were handed out.

Lifetime members for life...

...just hangin' out...

...and having a great time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Using "Distraction" As A Distraction

General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, thinks the repeal of Don't Ask-Don't Tell will result in more casualties.

"When your life hangs on the line," said Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, "you don't want anything distracting. . . . Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines' lives."

When our soldiers' lives are threatened and they have each other's back, they can't afford to be distracted. It's intuitively obvious that unit cohesion and effectiveness suffers when one member is different from the others.

Obvious for the general. Why do so few see that?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Seeking A Worldwide Ban On Shallow Cogitations

A partial copy of a confidential cable sent on April 17, 2009, from the US Embassy in Madrid. The one that talks about the efforts of the Obama administration and members of Congress to keep Spain from indicting former members of the Bush administration responsible for the authorization of torture.

2. (C) As reported in REF B, a Spanish NGO - Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners - in March 2009 requested that the National Court indict six former U.S. officials for creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture. The six accused are: former AG Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to the Vice President; William Haynes, former DOD General Counsel; Douglas Feith, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former member of Bybee’s staff. The NGO claimed that Spain had a duty to open a “universal jurisdiction” case because five Guantanamo detainees are either Spanish citizens or were/are Spanish residents. Although he seemed displeased to have this dropped in his lap, Chief Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza on April 1 privately told Embassy officials the complaint - at first glance - appeared well-documented and in all likelihood he would have no option but to open a case.
¶3. (C) Following revelations by the Spanish press that the complaint had been filed, the Acting DCM on March 31 and April 1 phoned FM Moratinos’ Chief of Staff Agustin Santos, and MOJ Director General for International Judicial Cooperation Aurora Mejia about the matter. Both expressed their concern at the case but stressed the independence of the Spanish judiciary. The A/DCM stressed to both that this was a very serious matter for the USG and asked that the Embassy be kept informed of any developments.
MADRID 00000392 002.2 OF 003
¶4. (C) As reported in REF A, Senator Judd Gregg, accompanied by the Charge d’Affaires, raised the issue with Luis Felipe Fernandez de la Pena, Director General Policy Director for North America and Europe during a visit to the Spanish MFA on April 13. Senator Gregg expressed his concern about the case. Fernandez de la Pena lamented this development, adding that judicial independence notwithstanding, the MFA disagreed with efforts to apply universal jurisdiction in such cases.

Soon, Air Force members around the world will try to access Shallow Cogitations only to have their browser display "ACCESS DENIED. Internet Usage is Logged & Monitored".

Monday, December 13, 2010

Appreciating The Little Things

We have a new microwave at work. I miss the old one. The old one's arrival predated my first day of employment by a number of years and had been repaired twice before breaking down for good. One thing I appreciated about it was that the turntable rotated once every ten seconds. Exactly ten seconds. That meant that when I put my mug of water in to make tea and the time I entered was divisible by 10, then the handle was always facing out. So I'd punch in three minutes and when the beeper beeped I'd grab the handle as easy as pie.

The new one is not like that. The turntable doesn't rotate at a constant speed. Regardless of the time I enter or how much fine tuning I try, when it's done I have to reach around the hot mug and turn the handle towards me where I can safely pick it up. When I told Steph about it she rolled her eyes and told me to just let it go.

Maybe I will. But I don't have to like it.

Laughing Stock

At the end of my run today--I went without shoes--I passed by a group of fifty or so kids, presumably on a field trip, returning to their school bus. They looked to be around 8-10 years old. My shoeless condition quickly caught their attention and for some reason they thought it was very funny. By the time I got by them they were all laughing hilariously and pointing at me like I was the strangest thing they'd ever seen--like I was a carnival freak or something.

It was almost enough to hurt my feeling....

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tasty Treat

Steph did a practice run of making Bavarian Spiced Apple Rings for her German class. They were delicious.

Anything that's battered and fried and then rolled in cinnamon sugar has got to be good for you, right?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

But No Laughing

If the Inlander is to be believed--and why wouldn't it be?--The Runner's Soul is selling Vibram Five Fingers now. Hey, wait. I'm pretentious?

Drum Roll(er) Please

Today was appliance repair day at my house. This time, the dryer. It's making a loud squeaking and rumbling sound. I donned my wife beater t-shirt and scootched my jeans down low to help get fully into character and commenced to disassembling. I actually like working on dryers because they're so easy to fix. It's been about 17 years since the last time I worked on a dryer but they haven't changed much. After pulling it out so I could get to the back I learned that Maytags open up from the front so I could have left it in place. That's okay. I still looked like I knew what I was doing.

I removed the front panel, the drum cover, and the drum.

A drum roller had gone bad. That called for a trip to buy the new part.

Steph went with me so we could stop by a couple of thrift stores and buy some hideous looking sweaters to wear to school the week before Christmas break. While she looked for sweaters, I searched for some records. And I found some keepers. Tango Serenade, a set of 45rpm records, performed by the Tango Serenaders (who else?), a 45rpm record by The Knack with My Sharona, and Shaving Cream by Benny Bell. And then there's this one from Art Linkletter's House Party.

Because there's nothing as funny as House Party howls...and boners...and shockers. I'm such a juvenile.

The new drum roller cost me $30. I had the dryer back together in just a few minutes. It runs as smooth and quiet as when we bought it about 14 years ago.

Now to rip some vinyl and add the music to my computer.

Footlocker Cross Country Championship

Andrew Gardner, a sophomore at Mead, finished fourth in a field of forty top cross country runners from across the country. I watched the race online. The course at Balboa Park in San Diego is hella tough. The winners of both the girls and boys race were absolutely incredible athletes and dominated the competition. Andrew will have two more opportunities to qualify for Footlocker Nationals. He has quite the future to look forward to.

There are two cross country championships for high school runners, the Nike Team National and the Footlocker National. North Central and Lewis & Clark competed at Nike Team Nationals which, as the name indicates, is for teams. You can read more about then at Spokanarama. The downside of competing at Nike Team Nationals is that some top runners miss out on the individual competition at Footlocker. With a sense of relief, for me anyway, we don't necessarily get to see who the top runner is. Besides, as good as these young athletes are, the answer changes almost every month.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Computer Buddy System

The U.S. military has reportedly banned all removable media from use on classified systems. It's not that I disagree with the policy as much as I wonder why they waited so long and how well they can enforce it.

Many years ago when I was in the Air Force, they had a Two Man Rule which I'm sure they continue today. Areas where people had access to nuclear weapons, or nuclear weapon control systems, were designated as No Lone Zones. The idea was that if one person tried to do something unauthorized, the other could stop them or call for help.

First of all, systems containing classified information are in restricted areas--as long as things haven't changed since I got out in '98. I understand military ID cards are actually Smart Cards used for logging on to systems nowadays, too. But even so, with as many computers the military has it seems they almost have to designate each one as a No Lone Zone if they truly want to ensure nobody uses removable media around them. After all, it's not like you can easily identify all removable media. You can fashion one to hide inside a wall jack, buy a watch, a credit card, a pen, and even have them made inside a toy or knick knacks.

And then there's the human factor where someone is allowed to do something "just this one time".

Nobody wants to be the first person prosecuted for violating this order. They will be made a public example and the consequences will be severe in order to instill fear of those consequences in everyone else.

Either Way, We Get The Short End

Denial of service attacks against Master Card, Visa and others in support of Wikileaks is just crazy. I don't understand what these people think they're trying to do. These criminal acts give ammunition to those who would impose more control over the Internet. By the same token, extra-legal actions against Wikileaks taken by Master Card, PayPal, Visa and Amazon indicate complicity with, and influence by, our government.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Minority Man Experiment Has Failed

George Nethercutt has one heck of a column over at the Inlander. (Note: I logged into the Inlander and wrote a lengthy comment only to be prompted to sign in again, thus losing all my work. Rather than risk doing that again, I'm posting it here instead.)

Mr Nethercutt looked at the numbers and saw that women outnumber men in our country--apparently a rare phenomenon to him that's been true for 60 years now--and has somehow divined that 2012 is the year women can influence a national lying dormant for three generations. Plus, it's been two centuries so aren't we about due?

By the way, four women governors of note were elected in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Carolina which are states representing the fastest growing demographic, Latinos. Mr Nethercutt makes no further mention of Latinos. For some strange reason he's pointing out that there are more and more Latinos every day. He has nothing else to say about all those Latinos. So...many...frickin'...Latinos. Lots and lots of Latinos. Fastest growing demographic. Latinos every-fuckin'-where. Almost scary, isn't it?

Okay, back to electing a female president. Mr Nethercutt, a serious look on his very concerned face, slowly--no reluctantly--turns over a presidential prediction tarot card. It's an experienced diplomat and senator of acceptable age. (Yes, he said "acceptable age". Read the stupid column.) Hilary Clinton! He turns the next card. Good looks and an everywoman resistance to sophistication. (I told you. Did you read the stupid column?) You betchya! I mean, Sarah Palin! And she's a political rock star. OMG!

Neither woman is Mr Nethercutt's choice, but it IS time for a female president because women outnumber men and it's been two centuries. Apparently he can think of no other women who have the experience, the good looks, the acceptable age, the ability to raise money, the good looks, the total ignorance and incuriousness behind a pretty smile, the ability to raise money, and those ever lovin' good looks. Mr Nethercutt can't think of any other women other than the two he wouldn't choose. But the cards have spoken.

I almost skipped over the good part. Mr Nethercutt informs us that "Americans have tried the Barack Obama experiment — the election of a liberal, minority president with no real-world experience and a thin resume — and found it wanting."

I'm afraid it's not for the reasons he lists. You see, Republicans wouldn't allow minority man to get anything meaningful accomplished unless minority man used the majorities he had in both houses--just like non-minority presidents have done. The nerve of that minority man. Plus he tried to talk to Republicans like he was their equal. He tried to include Republicans in discussions and negotiations. He reached out to them he was just as good as them. Sometimes he came across like he was superior, even making Republicans look bad at a get together they invited him to. These last two years have been a struggle for Republicans and their patience has been sorely tested. Why one Republican even called minority man a liar. To his face. On TV! It's not like he didn't have it coming. Numerous Republicans don't believe minority man was even born in America and you'll find that in publications more reputable than the National Enquirer. Even Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who succeeded Mr Nethercutt, said "I'd like to see the documents," when she was asked about it.

From the tenor of Mr Nethercutt's column, it's apparent we've done the minority man experiment--which has failed--and now we're obliged to do the non-minority woman experiment. And we must choose between two non-minority women who are not of his choosing. For his sake, let's hope it's the pretty one. And then after that we can return to having a non-minority man in charge, you know, just like the founding fathers.

Mr Nethercutt says America is leaning right and minority man's attempt to move us towards the left just won't do. Nope, our country needs to lean to the right until it falls down. Face plant, America! Face plant! But wait until we complete the non-minority woman experiment. Then we can get down to business.

And don't forget to watch out for all those Latinos.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A (Mostly) Free Flow Of Information

Wikileaks has not committed a crime and yet numerous actions have been taken against the organization in order to prevent it from releasing more leaked information. Point of order - providing classified information to Wikileaks or anyone else is a crime. Publishing the leaked information is not. One example of action taken against Wikileaks is the attempt to cut off funding by PayPal, Master Card and Visa who are now refusing to process payments for them. By the way, you won't find similar actions being taken against the newspapers who have published the leaked cables. Senator Lieberman wants to investigate The New York Times for espionage so maybe they're not completely in the clear.

Please remember that the United States believes in a free press and what better way to mark that than to host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event on May 1-3, 2011. From the State Department's press release:

New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.

Censoring and silencing individuals. Restricting the free flow of information. What kind of monster does that? Not us. We support the free flow of information in this digital age.

Now you may wonder what you are going to do with the money you wanted to donate to Wikileaks but now find your options for doing so very limited. Well there are other causes you can support if you subscribe to the constitutional protection of free speech and a free press. One that probably won't appeal to you is The Knights Party where you can keep The Andrew Show on Klan TV.

Because in a society where free speech and a free press is so strongly desired, we have to allow those we disagree with to participate as well regardless of how vile, contemptible or misguided they are.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Festivus Blasphemy And General Disgust

Representative Eric Cantor--who believes extending the tax cuts will create jobs even though they haven't for these nine years (and thank you for selling out knuckling under, President Obama)--is hosting a Festivus Reception as a fund raiser. And you know there isn't enough money in politics, especially for Republicans.

According to the invitation, you only have to pay $500 to personally attend and air out your grievances. The invitations also mention feats of strength. For this I imagine a game a wack-a-barack. Plastic Obamas pop up from holes displaying campaign promises that were not kept or were successfully stifled by Republicans. Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell, close Guantanamo, end the Bush tax cuts, make it more difficult for people to move back and forth between public office and special interest organizations, increased government transparency, etc.

Oh the hilarity that could ensue. Nail that bastard! There you go! Look out for--damn! You broke the tax cut! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

And if you're a maxed out donor, your attendance is complimentary.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Are You Heightening?

I got the beater ice bike out yesterday and today. I was hoping the frozen snow would hold up my weight but that wasn't about to happen. I could almost walk across the snow but one foot would fall through the crust half the time. When I put all that weight on two tires, I wasn't going anywhere.

It was awkward, ridiculous and funny while I tried getting on a bike that was resting on top of eight inches of snow while I was standing on the ground. It's like I was trying to get a leg over Bill Walton's bike. Not in this lifetime.

So I kept it on the roads during my riding. It's not as fun and adventurous as riding through fresh powder like we did on Black Friday, but at least I was rolling.

Easy As Pulling A Curtain To Block A Scenic View

Try as they might, the powers-that-be can force Wikileaks to move, block access to it, warn people they are breaking the law by looking at it, and come up with legislation to criminalize them--although no mention of repercussions for newspapers helping Wikileaks--and the information still proliferates. So if you can't get to Wikileaks you can find the a mirror here, here, here, here...and...actually there is no shortage of sites to choose from.

An American Propaganda Film Prescient Of 21st Century America

Horribly acted but the similarity to today is just as uncanny as it is disturbing.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Someone Has Been Eating The Linens

A couple years ago Newt Gingrich started up a site called The Americano for the purpose of offering smart information on all the important aspects of Hispanic life.

The Americano is a bilingual site that offers a different take on news and opinion. It looks to offer a more balanced view on all the issues that concern American Hispanics today, while celebrating the richness of Hispanic Heritage.

I wouldn't put it past Gingrich to think El American would celebrate the richness of Hispanic Heritage just as much as The Americano.

An article that caught my eye today is entitled The Nightmare that is the Dream Act by Luis F. Rodriguez. Essentially his argument against the DREAM Act is that it would result in our country being awash with illegal immigrants. He cherry picks sections of the Act and presents them out of context. For example:

* In General - Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1623) is repealed.

Rodriguez's comment: The federal law mentioned above prohibits illegal aliens from getting instate tuition. I would like to take the time to point out the irony that any state that allows illegal immigrants to get instate tuition is violating federal law, this would be the perfect example of Preemption, unfortunately the federal government won’t stop this practice.

From the first paragraph of the Act (20 page PDF):

To amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to permit States to determine State residency for higher education purposes and to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children, and for other purposes.

It makes sense that if you have a federal law prohibiting something then you must repeal it to allow it. Next he picks on SEC. 4. CANCELLATION OF REMOVAL AND ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS OF CERTAIN LONG-TERM RESIDENTS WHO ENTERED THE UNITED STATES AS CHILDREN, again pointing out bits out of context and comes to this conclusion:

This act would allow anyone who is 5 years plus one day who was brought into this country as a newborn to be eligible. Later in the act it stipulates that the “alien” can be not older than 35 years old to apply. Has anyone thought about how many people we are talking about? And once all these people are rewarded with citizenship they can proceed to legalize all of their relatives.

Rodriguez either can't read and understand English very well or is being intentionally deceptive. Taken as a whole, Section 4 does nothing of the sort. Next he takes one sentence from Section 4.

(B) the alien has been a person of good moral character since the time of application;

And he concludes: This essentially forgives anything the alien has done up to the point of application. So, technically an alien could apply and there would be no consideration of any previous criminality, this might also include DUI, and any other previous arrests and/or convictions.

Actually, that is one of a list of requirements--check out (A) through (F)--that the alien must meet. Previous criminality is definitely considered.

And so on. Rather than correct each of Luis Rodriguez's inaccuracies, let me just say I think he is full of sheet.

The Sun Came Out Today

So I thought I'd get some winter photos this morning before the frost disappeared.

The great thing about digital is you can take a zillion consecutive pictures and sometimes you luck out and get what you were looking for.

Gone for the winter.

Hanging on until the bitter end.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Next Time I Travel...

...I think I'll bring along an empty toner cartridge.

Toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces will be prohibited on passenger aircraft in both carry-on bags and checked bags on domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States. This ban will also apply to certain inbound international air cargo shipments as well. Further, all cargo identified as high risk will go through additional and enhanced screening.

Hey, is that 16 ounces in volume or weight? Is that the capacity of the cartridge or the total? I just want to make sure I'm following the rules. If I have a part to play in security theater, I want to play it well.

TSA -- Preventing yesterday's threats and desperately praying nobody smuggles an explosive butt plug onto a plane.

Well...When You Think About It

Why can't we extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans? Sometimes you just need to have these things put into perspective.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fleeting Love

A couple weeks ago I received this email:

How are you? i hope all is well with you, i hope you may not know me, and i don't know who you are, My Name is Miss Sussan Khalifa, i am just broswing now i just saw your Email it seams like some thing touches me all over my body, i started having some feelings in me which i have never experience in me before, so i became interested in you, l will also like to know you the more,and l want you to send an email. to my email aaddress so l can give you my picture for you to know whom l am..
I believe we can move from here!
I am waiting for your mail to my email address
(Remeber the distance or colour does not matter but love matters alot in life)
miss Sussan

After reading that heartwarming email it seems like something touches me all over my body, too. But that's a whole 'nuther story. Hoping to get to know Miss Sussan Khalifa better, I answered with a short noncommittal email.

What a surprise. She answered back!

Hello My Dearest One,
I am more than happy when i read your mail now, How are you over there in your country? I hope you are fine. My name is Miss sussan Khalifa. I am 23 years old but age is not matters what matters is love and understanding, i am a second year medical student before the incident that lead to my being in this place. I am hoping to further my education in this career. I am not married and don't have children. I am chocolate in complexion and of average heigth, my picture will explain to you better.
I am from Liberia in West Africa and presently i am residing in the refugee camp here in Dakar Senegal as a result of the civil war that was fought in my country,
My late father Dr Wilson Khalifa who was one of the most sucessful enterpreneur in my country and my mother was a senior accountant at the Eco Bank Of Liberia, before the tragic war which claim their lifes and now living me as an orphan and i was the only child so i managed to make my way to near by country Senegal where i am seeking asylum now. I haven't finish up my education and i need a man who will make use of my fathers wealth and get me through in life.I would like to know more about you.Your likes and dislikes. Your hobbies and what you are doing presently.

I will tell you more about myself in my next mail. here is my picture for you, though I am not all that photogenic, i am wait to hear from you soon, please write me back because i have something important to tell you ok and try all you can to send me your own photo ok, i am waiting for your mail,

Your sussan,

She called me her dearest one. And she told me her name---again. She also included a photo.

Oh, sussan. Sussan my beauty not all that photogenic, of chocolate complexion and average height. With my heart pounding and blood racing, my flushed face reflecting in my monitor, my fingers adoringly replied.


I'm sorry to hear of your hard times being in a refugee camp. And being an orphan, too. That is very sad. Medical school is a great goal and I wish you the best. What country do you plan to seek asylum in?

I am a successful entrepreneur as your late father was. My company is called Sprocket Cluster And Mechanical. It's a small company but we're doing very well. I manufacture customized gears for bicycles, mostly racing bikes. So it only makes sense that one of my hobbies is bike riding. I also enjoy coin collecting, going to plays, and photography.

You look very nice in your picture. You have a sweet smile.

That's funny you should ask for a picture of me. I take pictures all the time but never of myself. I'll see if I can dig one up for you.

Take care, Sussan.

Sadly, I have yet to hear back from sussan. Or Sussan. Perhaps she was wise enough to figure out what Sprocket Cluster And Mechanical really means.

A Fitting Solution

Keeping the Washignton Monument safe from terrorist has proven to be aesthetically problematic. Otherwise known as an ugly temporary structure.

Bruce Schneier has a great idea that would solve the problem. Close the monument.

The empty monument would symbolize our war on the unexpected, -- our overreaction to anything different or unusual -- our harassment of photographers, and our probing of airline passengers. It would symbolize our "show me your papers" society, rife with ID checks and security cameras. As long as we're willing to sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety, we should keep the Washington Monument empty.

The ideal irony in honoring the general and president who fought so hard for the liberties and freedoms we now deny ourselves because we're so damn scared.