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»  January 27, 2007


Eleanor McGovern Is Dead: If you've ever read any of the books of 1972 Democratic Presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator George S. McGovern, you know the amount of love and affection he had for his wife Eleanor (nee Stegeberg). She was one of a pair of twins on his college campus, a cheerleader, and she'd tied for the high score with him on a current events test. They were married on Halloween, 1943 while he was on a three-day pass from bomber flight school, and spent their first night at his parent's house before he had to report back for duty.

Eleanor McGovern died Thursday at 85.

Last year, I bought a copy of McGovern's autobiography Grassroots which. oddly enough, is inscribed: "For Eleanor, from her friend, George McGovern."


»  January 25, 2007


Legislative Nuancing: Sen. Russ Feingold on non-binding resolutions to stop the escalation in Iraq.

"This is not a time for legislative nuancing," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.). "This is not a time for trying to forge a compromise that everybody can be a part of. This is a time to stop the needless deaths of American troops in Iraq."



1,408 Days: It's been 1,408 days since the invasion of Iraq. In fifty more days, the Iraq war will have lasted as long as the American Civil War.



Freedom Is on the March: A viewer comment from "The Cafferty File" segment on CNN's "The Situation Room":

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question this hour is: How can there be any progress in Iraq, when most of the members of parliament don't bother to show up for work?


And Jay in Birmingham, Alabama: "Looks like our efforts to bring American-style democracy to Iraq are finally succeeding: corruption, poor border control, a do-nothing legislature. All they need now is a war-mongering president, and the transformation will be complete. Freedom is on the march."


»  January 24, 2007


Randy Newman in The New York Times: Another take on the State of the Union: "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country."


»  January 22, 2007

What the...?  

Two Decades in Portland: This month marks my 20th year in Portland. I moved here to go back to school five years after I dropped out of Lane Community College when the economy in Eugene hit a low in the early 1980s. Reed College used to have something called the Eliot Scholars Program, for students 25 years of age and older who hadn't finished their undergraduate degree, and they accepted my application, due in no small part to the recommendation letter of my younger brother. Also, there was Barbara.

I've only had two homes here in Portland. One was the rental house Barbara was living in when I first moved, the other is the house we've lived in since 1990. They're only about four blocks apart. With the exception of a two-month summer course at NYU, I've never been away from Portland for longer than a couple of weeks of vacation since I got here.


»  January 21, 2007


If You Prick Us, Do We Not Have DNA?: Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project and born-again Christian is interviewed in the February 2007 issue of National Geographic on the topic of reconciling science and religion. Asked what he thinks about "Darwinian explanations of altruism," he responds:

Many would argue that altruism has been supported by evolution because it helps the group survive. But some people sacrificially give of themselves to those who are outside their group and with whom they have absolutely nothing in common. Such as Mother Teresa, Oskar Schindler, many others. That is the nobility of mankind in its purist [sic] form.
Now, far be it from me to defend evolutionary psychology -- I think that altruism is much more simply described as a self-gratification mechanism based on personal goals and beliefs -- but I'd like to think that the guy in charge of mapping our DNA realizes that any human helping any other human has something in common with the object of their altruistic actions.


»  January 20, 2007


Obama: Three Men and No Tie:

In an opening salvo from the mainstream press in the 2008 Democratic primary race last month, the first strike against Barack Obama was on the first-grade-level, where someone's name is compared to a homophone with bad associations (deduct points if you laughed when you read the word "homophone"). It quickly progressed to the point where fashion-sensitive children begin to make fun of the wardrobe of their chosen targets.

So it was last month, when CNN's senior dick analyst Jeff Greenfield appeared on "Teh Situation Room" to spend two-and-a-half minutes talking about Obama's clothes. If you didn't see it, he mentioned Obama's appearances before Christmas wearing "a jacket, a collared shirt, but no tie." He calls it a "striking contrast" with the John Kerry look of 2004 -- which looks pretty much the same to me in the video -- but which Greenfield says is a "blazer, the kind of casual wear you see at country clubs, and lawn parties in the Hamptons."

I should say at this point that I've made it through 45 years of life without having to know the difference between a "jacket" (presumably a sports jacket) and a "blazer." But then I'm not the fashion plate Greenfield is.

Greenfield then shows George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan in jacket-less mode talking about their "rancher" look, before moving on to wonder who else on the world stage doesn't wear a tie with their jacket. Of course, he comes up with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Much kerfuffle was made.

But that was last month. This week, though, I saw a different politician on TV, with a jacket (or maybe a blazer) and no tie. But I haven't heard any snide remarks about it from Greenfield or anyone else. The guy's name is George W. Bush. He was on CBS's "60 Minutes". Maybe it was a blazer.


»  January 18, 2007


1,401 Days: It's been 1,401 days since the United States invaded Iraq. In 58 days, the Iraq war will have lasted longer than the American Civil War.



Clinton on Withdrawal, Getting Tough on Iraqis: Sen. Hillary Clinton, in an interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR's "Morning Edition" (not all of her comments are in the article accompanying the audio, transcripts are my own).

On her fellow Democratic legislators (beginning at 1:52):

INSKEEP: Do you think the Iraqi government really isn't trying hard enough? Or are they being asked to do the impossible here?

CLINTON: Well, I think that, uh, there has been a, uh, a lack of attention and focus on, y'know, dealing with the, uh, problems that exist, uh, that keep the Sunnis an insurgency, and they have also refused, uh, to attempt the disarmament of the militias which keep the, y'know, the death squads operating. And in thinking about this there are some of my colleagues, as you know, who say "cut off funding for American troops." I think that is, uh, y'know, not appropriate at this time until we get more of our troops out of harm's way, and frankly the President has the money to do this if we can't stop him.

Now, maybe I'm mistaken, but I didn't think any of Sen. Clinton's colleagues were calling for defunding troops already in Iraq -- those in harm's way -- but maybe she's heard too much FOX News while she was in Iraq.

On the Iraqis (beginning at 3:19, I've bracketed a couple of words that seemed slurred on the recording).

INSKEEP: Are you saying that withdrawal is an option, even if that would be seen by some as failure?

CLINTON: Well, I think that [what I've] called for, for more than a year and a half is , uh, a phased redeployment that is tied to certain conditions being met by the Iraqis. I think you've got to get tougher on them. Y'know, in this part of the world, unfortunately, uh, the reality is that people respond to pressure and to threats. We have no -- we have not made any credible threats. Y'know, we are providing security for the Iraqi government. I think that is leverage that we can use....

Ahh, yes, the old "get tougher" routine. Because once you've shocked and awed the heck out of someone's cities; destroyed their electrical, water, and other infrastructure; occupied their country for four years; turned the old dictator's torture prison into your own torture prison; enabled foreign terrorists and just about anyone else with a few pounds of explosives to set off multiple bombs each day in the capital; driven more than a million of the inhabitants to flee the country; and fostered conditions where 100,000 to 650,000 people have been killed by your troops, terrorists, militias, or other armed people, then it's time to get tough. Because really, living in conditions where there are people using power tools on the heads of their friends and family or where they might get shot by soldiers at a roadblock or just assassinated isn't enough pressure or threat to get them to do anything. Damn lazy Iraqis.

Isn't it nice to live in a part of the world where people don't respond to pressure or threats? Truly, like Hillary Clinton, I think we're a better class of people for it. EXTRA BONUS POINTS if you noticed that the sentences the Senator managed to get out without an "uh" or "y'know" were the ones where she talked about her colleagues who were killing the troops and how we'd been coddling the Iraqis. Wonder if she's been practicing those parts of the speech?


»  January 17, 2007


Get Your Paws Off My Foreign Policy, You Damn, Dirty Hippy!: The online dust-up between one-time liberal supporters of the Iraq war like Jonathan Chait and Kevin Drum and, well, people who were unconvinced by the administration's arguments that an invasion of Iraq was necessary is pretty fairly summed up by tristero's post today, Part III of which was titled: "The Chuckle-Headed Flakes Were The Bush/Iraq Hawks. The Rest Of Us Had Both Feet On Planet Earth."

To defend themselves, the liberal hawks have to contort themselves into making statements like:

If anti-war liberals were right about the war from the start, how come they don't get more respect? Here's the nickel version of the answer from liberal hawks: It's because they don't deserve it. Sure, the war has gone badly, but not for the reasons the doves warned of.
The problem for the liberal hawks is, of course, that it wasn't just "doves" warning against war with Iraq. It wasn't just scary old George McGovern and his demented followers. No, the reason the United States has taken so much international heat for the invasion was that most of the rest of the world -- despite the administration's claims that "everybody's intelligence" said Saddam had WMDs -- didn't see Iraq as a real threat. They were unconvinced by the "evidence" put forward by Bush, Cheney, Powell, and others, which is why they chose not to support the war, with the exception, of course, of the UK, Spain, Italy, and let us not forget Poland.

Wasn't that just Old Europe (and Old Asia and Old South America and Canada and...) talking? Why, they're no better than the stinking hippy doves, are they?

Well, how about the fact that there were some Democratic politicians who didn't think the war was such a hot idea? As I've pointed out before, the 2002 Iraq war resolution failed among Democratic Representatives on a vote of 81-126, and most of those House members are still in office.

In the Senate, 21 of the 50 Democrats voted against the resolution (42%). At the time, the Democrats had control of the chamber, there were nine of them on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and five of those Intelligence committee members -- privy to the best information on Iraq that was provided to Democrats in the Senate -- thought that giving George W. Bush authorization to go to war in Iraq was a bad idea.

Now maybe somehow Kevin Drum and Jonathan Chait and Peter Beinart and all of their buddies had some info about the immediate threat from Iraq that wasn't available to Senators Carl Levin, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Durbin, Robert Graham, and Ron Wyden. Or the other sixteen Senators who took the same position on the resolution. Or 60% of the House Democrats. Perhaps they're more "serious" than those people were. Or maybe to Drum and Chait all those Congressional Democrats were right for the wrong reasons, just like the dirty hippies were.


»  January 14, 2007


I'm In a Show Me State: The New Yorker article by Jeffrey Goldberg on last week's crop of Democratic presidential contenders has quite a bit on the various personalities and their stands on Iraq.

The article mentions that the top two positions in a December poll of Iowa Democrats went to former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama, each with 22% (Sen. Hillary Clinton came in fourth, with 10%, after Iowa governor and DLC chair Tom Vilsack, who had 12%).

The article quotes from Obama's recent book where, as has become his wont, he uses the same arguments that the neo-conservatives do to vilify people who oppose the war in Iraq:

Obama is discomfited by those on the left who, in his view, minimize the threat of terrorism. In his recent book, he even scolds those who put the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and the improvement of relations with Americaís allies, ahead of national-security concerns. "The objectives favored by liberals have merit," he writes. "But they hardly constitute a coherent national security policy." He adds that "the threats facing the United States today are real, multiple, and potentially devastating." But when he writes that itís "useful to remind ourselves, then, that Osama bin Laden is not Ho Chi Minh," itís hard to imagine who would confuse the two.
And here I thought that not continuing to expand the mess the administration created in Iraq and getting back to dealing with terrorism by international cooperation would be a good national security policy. By all means, let's continue bombing people we shouldn't have been bombing in the first place.

I'm also disheartened by the tack Edwards is taking.

Edwards is genial in conversation, but he became almost testy when I brought up his vote, in 2002, in favor of the Iraq-war resolution. Edwards has repudiated his vote, unlike Clinton, who has not renounced her own support for the war despite demands from her backers that she do so. Edwards worries that his vote will be seen as evidence that he was somehow fooled by the Administration into giving it his support. "I was convinced that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and was doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons," he said. "There was some disparity in the information I had about how far along he was in that process. I didnít rely on George Bush for that. And I personally think thereís some dishonesty in suggesting that members of the United States Senate relied on George Bush for that information, because I donít think itís true. Itís great politics. But itís not the truth."
Here we are, nearly four years after the invasion of Iraq. We've had ample opportunity for any evidence from any source that was convincing to be produced by the administration as they've try to bolster their reasons for going to war. Nada. Whatever evidence there was that was provided to the full Senate still didn't convince two-fifths of the Democrats in the Senate to vote for the AUMF. It didn't convince Sen. Jim Jeffords or Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, either. It didn't even convince four of the eight Democrats who were on the same committee Edwards was on during the fall of 2002: Carl Levin, Ron Wyden, Richard Durbin, and Barbara Mikulski all voted against the Iraq war resolution. [UPDATE] My mistake, I missed the name of Bob Graham -- chairman of the Intelligence committee at the time. He also voted against the AUMF, making it 4-5, not 4-4.

So what, exactly, was it that convinced Edwards that the vote was a good idea? You'd think that even if it was a secret then that secret evidence of WMDs that didn't exist wouldn't really be of much use, no matter how convincing it was. Show me. Or tell me why you really voted for it.



The War on MLK Day 2007:

The War On MLK Day 2007

In honor of the day, I'm resurrecting my December 2004 post "The War on MLK Day."

O'REILLY: All right. Well, what I'm tellin' you, [caller], is I think you're takin' it too seriously. You have a predominantly Christian nation. You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And you don't wanna hear about it? Come on, [caller] -- if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel live in some skinhead compound then. I mean because we live in a country founded on Judeo -- and that's your guys' -- Christian, that's my guys' philosophy the principle "All men are created equal". But overwhelmingly, America is Christian. And the holiday is a federal holiday honoring the philosopher Jesus Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So, you don't wanna hear about it? Impossible.

And that is an affront to the majority. You know, the majority can be insulted, too. And that's what this anti-ChristmasMLK Day thing is all about.

January 17, 2005 is the third Monday of January, a day nationally-recognized as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. King -- as you may be aware -- was a minister who rose to prominence in the late 1950s and 1960s during the struggle for African-American civil rights. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. This year's observance will be a day off of work for some senior politicians who opposed his cause of racial justice when he was alive. They and many more younger lawmakers later opposed the establishment of the MLK holiday, which was first proposed by Representative John Conyers (D-MI) four days after the assassination and resubmitted by Conyers and Representative Shirley Chisolm (D-NY) repeatedly over the next decade and a half.

Although President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation authorizing the holiday in 1983, and it went into effect in 1986, several states refused to honor King. Arizona approved it only after a threatened tourist boycott in the early 1990s.

As a slap at the very ideals King was honored for by his Nobel Peace Prize, Arkansas, for instance, chose to make the day a combined tribute to King and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, a man who did his professional best to preserve a nation in which civil rights were not a goal. So did Mississippi. Georgia, at least, being King's home state, shifts the observance of Lee's birthday to November this year, although this almost makes the fact that it's being observed at all more of a travesty.

Considering the fuss people like Bill O'Reilly have made about Christmas this year, and how it deserves more attention (is that possible) because it is, after all, a national holiday, I'm ready to hear him make the above declaration.

And I'm ready to see everyone urge their local newscasters, national networks, magazines, and -- yes, especially FOX News and Bill O'Reilly -- to do something more than a 30-second retrospective of King's life. I'm ready to see some build-up over the next three weeks, as everyone joins in the conversation about what King stood for, what he did, and how people today can honor his goals. Don't let the bigots and neo-segregationists pretend it's just a second-rate holiday; another day off for federal workers; or a bone thrown to African-Americans to keep them quiet. Make sure people know why MLK deserved this type of recognition.


MLK Day of Service

The King Center: "The Meaning of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday"

Infoplease: The History of Martin Luther King Day


»  January 13, 2007


Is Late Better Than Never?: A lot of locals seem to be impressed by the conversion of state Senator Ben Westlund from Republican to Independent to Democrat over the course of 2006. There's talk of him running against US Senator Gordon Smith in 2008.

In the interview mentioned in the Blue Oregon post linked above, Westlund talks about how he "grew weary of the intolerance" of many of his fellow Republicans. I certainly can't fault him for that, but I do wonder why it took him so long to figure that out: the religious right has been ascendent in the Republican Party for mor than a quarter-century now; Pat Robertson had enough delegates at the national Republican convention to make things uncomfortable for Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988.

And yes, I'm a skeptic. I like evidence. I want proof. I prefer a record. A party switch two years before a Senate seat comes up when many of the Democratic potentials seem to be sitting it out? That seems a little calculated. I'd love to see someone who was a Democrat before the November 2006 elections actually in the race.

Most important to me if he decides to make a try for the Senate is, what stand did he take on Iraq? Because that one issue is draining the country for hundreds of billions a year. Someone with common sense -- say, Senator Wyden, or Congressman Blumenauer, or Congressman DeFazio, or Congresswoman Hooley, or Congressman Wu -- might have expressed some doubts about the reasons for going to war in Iraq by, say, voting against the October 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force. Senator Westlund wasn't in Congress, so he didn't vote on the issue, but I found a letter he wrote nearly two years after the invasion of Iraq and posted it in my comment on Blue Oregon.

Ben Westlund, almost exactly two years ago (8 January 2005), my emphasis added:
To The Troops and Caring For Troops:

Right up front. . . . . let me just say I love you guys and wish I were speaking these words to you in person. BJ, Taylor and I would like nothing better than to spend the morning packing care boxes with all of you as we have proudly done before. But the truth is weíre doing something I wish each and every one of you and your loved ones in Iraq could be doing. . attending a long-scheduled family football outing. . . yes, weíre watching the Seattle Seahawks beat up the St. Louis ďBad guyĒ Rams.

I donít say that to heighten your pain of separation from your loved one. . . but to underscore what theyíre fighting for . . . itís our freedoms: moments at the movies, school plays, our right to vote, and yes Saturday football . . . itís our way of life. They are protecting our very existence.

What you are doing is so important. . . sending a little bit of home to our troops in Iraq. I canít tell you how inspired I am by each of you.

Volunteering a few hours of your day will mean so much to each member of G Troop . . . these packages will lift their spirits and let them know how much we care.

Thank you and carry on!!


I'm not about to vote for anyone in the Democratic primary who was gullible enough to fall for the tissue of lies that got the US into the Iraq war. I don't think we need to replace someone like Gordon Smith with someone else who would make the same mistake -- one that none of the Democratic members of the Oregon Congressional delegation made -- of green-lighting a similar military operation or other misadventure, no matter what their stand on health care, because so long as those kinds of wasteful mistakes are made, there's not going to be enough money left to fund any kind of comprehensive plan for anything.

Have any of the people impressed by Westlund bothered to ask him about his stand on Iraq? Or why anyone should trust him on that type of issue any more than you'd trust, say, Gordon Smith?

In comments about Senator Smith's post-election cris-de-coeur over Iraq, Westlund is quoted saying "If you come to an enlightened position late, that's better than not coming to it at all," which might explain his own situation as well, but it's still better not to make the incredibly stupid mistake in the first place, when it involves the deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands of people.



Letter to an Impotent Commie Loser: For the record, more correspondence from someone I shall not name, just in case I disappear under mysterious circumstances (I wonder how knowing about this letter -- and any that follow it -- would influence my decision to work for the author if I was a freelance Web developer, Flash designer, or Director programmer working in the Portland metro area):

Dear Mr. Plant:

It has been brought to my attention that like your friend Peter Sylwester, you seem to feel you have been ordained with a universal license to take liberties with other folks copyrighted/trademarked stuff. That is a real bad concept.

You are instructed to immediately remove the link to my Poetry website and all references to it and myself from your pathetic, commie, Loser website forthwith (that means now idiot). If I see it there Monday (January 15, 2007), you WILL find yourself in the receiving end of a Federal lawsuit in the Multnomah Federal court, and having the distinct displeasure of meeting my attorney, Mr. James Buchal, who is a trial attorney.

If you "guys" actually had anything on-the-ball, you would have more to do than play with Barbie dolls and whine like little babies to each other about your sad pathetic tales.... boo hoo. If Peter doesn't comply per the Letter I sent him, we will tango. And this applies to you now.

There's no "alleging" anything dimwit;

The U.S.C. is very clear on the statutory penalties for trademark/copyright and patent infringement and about what happens to the imbeciles like you who use ģ-ô-© materials without expressed consent, which neither you and/or Pete have ever had. The fun starts with a fine for "each use" of $1,000.00 (Federal fine). If either one of you wood-heads had even as much as a brainstem inside the space you think is your head, you could look it up; it is after all, online now.

Further, prior to sending Peter the Letter, we collected dated videos of the unauthorized Greetsģ materials that were seen/found on Peter's site (again with your complicity and help), which have been preserved with the ones from 2002, for use as needed in Federal Court. The U.S.C. provides statutory fines (Federal) and attorney's fees to the holder of the abused tradmark/patent/copyright. My friend Mr. James Buchal (also admitted to the Washington State Bar) will quite happily purse this matter if there is any timely failure to comply with my instructions. Costs me nadda, since the government (that you apparently hate) provides that; YOU will pay ALL my attorney fees and all the costs to kick your sorry asses in a court of law. We need only to show the court proof of the unauthorized usage (which we have in Spades), and unless you have a get-out-of-jail-free card, or a letter of consent signed by me (which you don't have), YOU PAY.

And my warning now extends to you Mr. Darrell Plant (dba: Moshofsky/Plant - 3635 SE Alder St. - Portland, OR 97214); Mr. Buchal will effectively drain some chlorophyll from your wallet as well, if needed. You are hereby given notice that you must not link ANY of your web sites to ANY of my trademarked/copyrighted materials and/or any of my web sites (all inclusive). This applies to any and all sites that you host and or control. YOU DON'T HAVE ANY CONSENT WHATSOEVER FOR ANY SUCH USAGE.

You two Stinking Commies give honest programmers a real Bad name.... When you Work For Hire, you don't get to Steal stuff away under any circumstances. It's just NOT YOURS, AND IT NEVER BECOMES YOURS, EVER. Furthermore MORONS, things that are copyrighted, trademarked or patented ARE NOT YOUR THINGS TO USE FOR ANY REASON, or at ANYTIME; unless you have PRIOR written permission. What part of this don't you mental-midgets understand??

And, if Pete had any honor (honesty), he would have asked for permission before his first unauthorized use in 2002, which was with your assistance, making you complicit in that crime..... yep, it's a crime, look it up dummy!

IF he had the common sense of a house-cat, he would have done as most normal people and asked for consent to use MY STUFF at his site back then, and I would have most likely granted the consent. But NOT NOW. You want to play games and you'll loose.

IMHO, your so-called "Blog" reads to me like a mutual admiration club for socially dysfunctional and impotent Commie losers like you and Pete. And you are clearly identified by Dr. Roseman's article cited herein below. Here's a link that YOU should use at your site and label it "All About Us". (of course you'll need permission from Mr. Roseman)


Here's the Key paragraph for you and Peter:

Most often I see this in terms of software programmers or engineers who go off with an idea for a business. They are blinded by their brilliance at programming, or mechanical problem-solving because that comes easy to them. But try as they might, they can't relate to people. They keep failing and don't know why. And they will keep failing until they see that they have a blind spot with people and get somebody in there who is talented in that area.
© (Jack Roseman, who taught entrepreneurship for 13 years at Carnegie Mellon University, is director of The Roseman Institute, a subsidiary of Buchanan Ingersoll, and president of computer firm On-Line Systems. Contact him via e-mail at rosemanj@rosemaninstitute.com.)

Have a Nice Day {:-)

William Simpson

"They keep failing and don't know why. And they will keep failing until they see that they have a blind spot with people and get somebody in there who is talented in that area." Wow. I guess I should check in and see how successful the rich-media greeting card on a disk concept was. Or the idea of putting grocery store coupons on disks.

I've heard of Multnomah County court. I've heard of US District court, which is a federal court. But I've never heard of "Multnomah Federal court."

Trademark infringement occurs when someone utilizes the mark of another party to deceive a third party. Copyright infringement takes place when you duplicate or make widely available content belonging to another party in part or in whole. Posting examples of your work at a private web site address for the purpose of showing it to potential employers? I think that would be stretching the concept.

Linking to someone's site on the World Wide Web? Well, if the site's out there, there's nothing legally stopping anyone from linking to it (as opposed to framing it within other content) for any reason. If you put it out on the Web where search engines and anything else can find it, you really can't complain when someone links to it.

You'd think that if he was going to file papers he could at least spell my name correctly. It must have been difficult to find my address, what with it being on my web site and all. And I really don't understand his obsession with Barbie dolls.


»  January 11, 2007


Protest On Wry: As what TV reports later described as "several hundred" protestors were preparing to gather for a protest at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland Thursday evening, Oregon Public Broadcasting's local news report during the 5:30 break in "All Things Considered" made note of the nationwide, coordinated protests by referring to the "wry" smile they gave to a soldier from Fort Lewis. He was smiling because -- and I have to paraphrase here because OPB doesn't have their news reports archived online -- he was going to be going to Iraq next spring as a part of the "surge" strategy to protect the right of the protestors to protest.

No indication was given as to why that particular soldier was chosen to speak. No voice of any protester or protest organizer was heard during the piece. No opinion was presented apart from that of the soldier.

And, of course, there wasn't any questioning of exactly how 25 million Iraqis were supposedly impinging on the rights of 300 million Americans to protest or anything else, or how a war in Iraq was preventing that.


»  January 9, 2007


Flapping: Letter to Joe Klein, TIME:

Were you hoping for the US to lose when you declined at the age of 20 to join the armed services at the height of the Vietnam War, Mr. Klein? Is this whole "liberals want us to lose" thing just some sort of projection of your own failing of 40 years ago? I'd be perfectly willing to accept that you didn't think Vietnam was a war worth fighting for if you'd give up this stupid line about liberals wanting Iraq to spiral into violence. Heck, that's why I was against the war in the first place; I thought it would get a lot of innocent people killed. But once you jump off the cliff, no amount of flapping your arms is going to make you fly.


»  January 8, 2007


Permanent: Just for fun, I passed along a Director job for a full-time position in Europe to the other developer in the office I work at, Nathan Pryor, and he responded:

I don't think anyone should be allowed to use the word "permanent" in regards to a Director position. Who do they think they're kidding? :)



With Little Power Comes Little Responsibility: Skippy. Will. Not. Beat. Me.

I will have the last link.

Surrender Spocko's Brain!


»  January 7, 2007


Greetings!: My friend Peter Sylwester has bad luck. Specifically, he has the bad luck to know me, because I bear full responsibility for hooking him up with a couple of people who went beyond the average bad-client/employer mark while he was working as a free-lance Flash developer.

In one case, a woman I'd done some Shockwave games for hired Peter to create Flash casino-style games. He wasn't in charge of the backend programming, though, and when the various people who were supposedly doing that work fell through time after time, Peter was the one getting harassing calls and emails.

Then there was the time I referred Peter to an honest-to-God job. I hadn't taken it, because the concept looked a little shaky to me. I told Peter up front about that, but he needed something to pay the bills, interviewed, and took the job, developing interactive animations and content for a heavy-media CD-based greeting card company (I told you it was a little shaky). Pete poured his heart and talent into it, though, and they got more than they could have hoped for in terms of quality work under the kind of personally abusive conditions that would have sent me out the door. In fact, they got more than they paid for, because when they eventually closed the doors (in the spring of 2000), they stiffed Peter for about several thousand dollars in pay.

Peter put some of the files up on his site as an example of his work after the original site (which hadn't been shut down) went through enough changes that it didn't represent anything he'd done. Then, in late 2001, he and I got a series of wack letters from his old boss demanding that the files be taken down, alleging "very significant fines and jail terms, which may be levied against you and Mr. Plant." That was, mind you, over five years ago.

So here we are, nearly seven years after the company shut down. In the meantime, Peter's moved (physically) his site's moved a couple of times, and yes, he put some of the screens up to show to students and prospective employers, without a link to them. The original site is like one of those parked domains, giving "information" about various vendors on a particular subject. And at the address Peter had the files stored is the letter he got.

Supplemental reading: poetry by the same author.

With friends like me, who needs that guy?



Spocko, He Used Me When: San Francisco-based blogger Spocko's Brain has been waging a very public fight to inform advertisers on Radio Disney's KSFO of the violent and racist language used by on-air "personalities" Melanie Morgan, Brian Sussman, and Tom "Officer Vic" Brenner. It got him a cease and desist letter from ABC/Disney's lawyers (reproduced at Daily Kos by Calling All Wingnuts's Mike Stark) and his web host shuttered the blog. A lot of movement has been taking place on his case the past week.

I know that any of the dozen or so of you reading this have likely already made up your mind about whether or not you'd take action to support Spocko, but I'd just like to mention that Spocko wrote me back in April last year to let me know he'd used one of my Photoshop creations in a post he did in response to Sy Hersh's article on plans to nuke Iran.

The attribution's still there, but his image links are broken (because of the site move, I suspect). Here's the graphic and my own post containing it:



darrelplant.com Around the Blogosphere: I got a whole posting from an offhand comment to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.

poputonian -- writing over at digby's place -- bumped a comment of mine up to an update in the main post.

And back in December, another link from "Mike's Blog Roundup" at the incomparable Crooks & Liars (look for "brand of cluelessness").


»  January 6, 2007


Logic and Cats: A letter to NPR's All Things Considered:

In his story on bird predation by cats, John Nielsen talks to Stanley Temple from the University of Wisconsin, who says he got multiple death threats from critics of his plan to declare open season on homeless cats last year. Nielsen follows a recording of one by saying: "Temple says the woman who left that message on his answering machine is now a convicted felon." I'm surprised, however, by what Nielsen doesn't say. He only claims that Temple "says" the woman was convicted, he doesn't claim to have verified the fact. Nor does he say that what woman was convicted of, leaving the implication that her statement of declaring "open season" on Temple was the basis of the felony. Nielsen simply repeats what he's told by Temple without giving the listener verification that the woman was convicted or that she was convicted of threatening Temple.

Nor does the other obvious logical conclusion get addressed. If there were indeed numerous death threats similar to the one that resulted in a felony conviction, either there should be more felony convictions or the call that Temple played for Nielsen is not representative of the group. Where are the other legal actions (assuming what Temple said about the call he played is true)? If there aren't any, why was the one call played as representative of the rest?


»  January 2, 2007


What the DLC is Proud Of: From a three-and-a-half-year-old news article posted on the Democratic Leadership Council's web site:

New York Times | Article | July 29, 2003
Centrist Democrats Warn Party Not to Present Itself as 'Far Left'

By Adam Nagourney

PHILADELPHIA, July 28 -- The moderate Democratic group that helped elect Bill Clinton to the White House in 1992 warned today that Democrats were headed for defeat if they presented themselves as an angry "far left" party fighting tax cuts and opposing the war in Iraq.

How'd that work out for those guys back in '04? And what's going on these days with that Iraq thing?

[UPDATE] Oh, I almost forgot the word of the day! From the DLC's Blueprint Magazine just a couple of months back, in an article by Will Marshall:

America needs a new spirit of shared sacrifice.



exit for updateStage: Despite conversations I heard from the old days, Xtra development was never a route to riches and wealth. The market was never that large, and with a few exceptions, Xtra developers and distributors tended to be individual programmers trying to stay on top of poorly-documented Xtra SDKs, multiple development platforms, and bug reports that didn't always have a lot of context. As Director's developer community has dried up, I've been concerned what that would do to the Xtra community, which requires a certain critical mass to make it worthwhile just to keep Xtras up-to-date with Director and new operating systems.

And so, I heard today through the grapevine that updatestage.com, which picked up the pieces after a certain Xtra distributor imploded, has closed its doors. I would just like to take this opportunity to say that Gretchen Macdowell, who was updatestage, who wrote code, distributed and supported the Xtras of other developers, maintained one of the most complete lists of Director quirks and another of Xtras and associated tools, and helped out in many forums over the years, is one of the nicest, most pleasant people I've ever met and corresponded with. I have extremely fond memories of a dinner with her after a day at a UCON long ago, many emails, and a few phone conversations. I, for one, will miss her presence in the Directorsphere.


»  January 1, 2007


The Invisible Hand of Saddam Hussein: In their post-execution rantings about how Saddam Hussein should never have been executed on the day of the Sunni Muslim observance of Eid al-Adha or during haj when pilgrims from around the world visit the holy city of Mecca or at all, liberals and the Islamosymp media have attempted to hide their tendencies behind a veneer that "recognizes" the crimes Saddam committed.

Of course, even in this seeming acknowledgment of reality, the Saddamites have a hidden agenda. In addition to the valid claims of widespread murder, torture, and genocide (for which Saddam will now, regrettably, not pay the ultimate price) the why-don't-you-take-a-Ba'athites managed over the years to sneak in their attempts to undermine capitalism by claiming that Saddam was building palaces for himself with Iraqi oil revenues. The campaign to spread this dangerous philosophy started -- as so many dangerous things did -- during the Clinton years in the White House (I feel dirty just typing those words in the same sentence). It's a campaign of deceptive argument that began so long ago even staunch and true neo-conservatives and President George W. Bush used them to attack Saddam's regime, without understanding the serious blow to the American economic system they were helping to spread.

Outlined in a 1999 State Department report titled "Saddam Hussein's Iraq," the basic premise is that money earned by the sales of Iraqi oil (both legal and illegal) was siphoned off into Saddam's private coffers, those of his family, and the bank accounts of his friends. Instead of spending the money to provide for the care and well-being of the people of Iraq, buying food and medicine and other essentials, he spent the money on palaces with "extensive security facilities" and "elaborate gardens" (the latter of which use enormous amounts of water in desert areas).

My question is: What exactly is the problem with that? Sure, there were United Nations resolutions and sanctions restricting the use of monies earned from oil sales, but nobody pays any attention to UN resolutions; our own latest ambassador to that "august" body called it irrelevant and said that the Secretariat would function no differently if it lost the top ten floors. Nobody would expect anyone to actually comply with those kinds of restrictions, would they?

The very idea that Iraq's oil money should have been used to directly purchase humanitarian supplies for the people of that country is antithetical to the concept of Adam Smith's "invisible hand" mechanism. To wit:

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.
This is a basic tenet of conservative and libertarian free market economic theory, under attack by godless Islamoliberals. By acceding to the charges that Saddam perpetrated horrible acts of bodily harm against his citizens, the enemies of the free market have managed to sneak into the tent of rational thought a camel's nose of enormous proportions, namely that governments, the people who make up those governments, and those who operate businesses within the countries they govern, better serve their people by providing them with food and health services than by spending profits on their own creature comforts -- golden plumbing, marble bathrooms, crystal chandeliers, swimming pools, deer parks, aquariums, waterfalls -- and allowing the wealth to trickle down to masses.

It was perhaps due to the level of disgust for Saddam's actions during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidencies that this stab in capitalism's back went unnoticed for so many years. Only after Saddam's execution when the cable networks were running repeated viewings of shows produced back in 2002 and 2003 which they pulled off the shelf for the occasion (more interviews with Judy Miller than I'd seen for a while, I wonder why?) did I myself -- a noted free-marketeer -- realize what was happening.

Now that the Democrats are in power in Congress, it's only a matter of time before this insidious Clinton-baked plan to deny the wealthiest Americans of the blood and treasure their families have built up over the decades is launched.

Situated on over 60 acres of rolling farmland ... remarkable waterfront compound ... Golf Course ... designed by renowned golf-course architect ... The Gardens, 14 in all, include a traditional English cottage garden, a crabapple allee, a lily walk, a potager (French for vegetable gardens) as well as hydrangea, butterfly and world class rose gardens. Green carpeted grounds are punctuated by three pristine ponds stocked with bass, perch and pickerel. The 75 ft. flush edge pool with its own pavilion and the grass tennis court are the definition of leisurely living. ... the highest caliber of materials ... Outbuildings include a beautiful guest cottage on 4 acres, pool house, storage silo, barns, pro shop and a unique fish house and Orangerie.
A Saddam palace? No, it's just a little 20,000 sq. ft. $75 million home in The Hamptons, one of many such homes. It's the kind of home that is sure to go the way of the dodo, once the liberal loonies start squawking about fifteen percent of the people in the United States without any insurance, and lots of the rest of the people scared to go to the doctor for little things in case they can't get insured somewhere else for something major, or all the families of servicepeople in Iraq who have had to go on food stamps, or the New Orleans refugees who have worn out their welcome with relatives and friends in other cities after sixteen months and would just like to go home but don't have anywhere to go home to. Because once the UN starts thinking it can tell anyone in a country -- even Saddam -- how to spend their money, it's only a matter of time before they use the same precedents and set their sights on the fortunes of America's elite in their misguided wealth redistribution schemes.



Fear And Honor Are Not The Same Thing:

People fearing you and giving you honor are not the same thing. Here, do your calligraphy. Otherwise your father will punish you again.

Quicktime, 3.7MB

Jet Li's Fearless (aka Huo Yuan Jia) came out on DVD just before Christmas, and I picked up a copy at the rental store the other day because I'd seen some good reviews. It's a well-worn tale of an ambitious man -- a practicioner of wushu martial arts, in this case -- brought low by hubris, who falls into despair after losing everything he cherishes, given the opportunity to redeem himself through selflessness and the kind actions of a blind person, set at the end of the nineteenth and very early twentieth centuries, a period when Japan, American, and European powers occupied and controlled portions of China.

If you're expecting a beautifully-shot martial arts film with lush, colorful scenery, you get that, but Fearless is also quite nationalistic. The protagonist of the story, Huo Yuanjia, is a folk hero in China for reportedly challenging and defeating a series of foreign fighters, bringing honor to the occupied Chinese. His life and stories about his life are the inspiration for the movie.

One scene from Huo Yuanjia's early story caught my eye, particularly. It's almost as if the screenwriters had a certain someone not from China in mind when they wrote this movie a few years back. I think a lot of people in this country should see this scene over and over again. Huo Yuanjia doesn't take his mother's words to heart -- which is why he fails and must redeem himself -- but then, he just manages to get his own family killed.

Here's a transcript for those of you who don't want to download the clip:

YUANJIA'S MOTHER: My son, why are you angry?

HUO YUANJIA: Why won't Father let me learn wushu?

MOTHER: You know your father loves you. You have bad athsma. You're weak. Wushu is too strenuous.

YUANJIA: It makes you stronger, wushu training.

MOTHER: Your love for wushu is just to make you strong?

YUANJIA: No, I really want to make the Zhao Clan see that their wushu's not as good as the Huo Clan.

MOTHER: My son, wushu is not just winning. The most important part is self-restraint and having discipline. Whatever happens, never forget to be the kind person you are. Wushu is to help you be strong so you can help others. It's not for getting even or getting you into trouble. The way to have a good relationship with all people is to understand that, and give kindness to others and treat all with respect and honor.

YUANJIA: I'll get honor if I'm great at Wushu.

MOTHER: People fearing you and giving you honor are not the same thing. Here, do your calligraphy. Otherwise your father will punish you again.