This is my collection of random thoughts that may be here solely for the amusement of Erin
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March 2003


31 March 2003
A man's feet should be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.
     -- George Santayana
Today's walking music is Elvis Costello Spike, after all "you're nobody till everybody in this town thinks you're a bastard".

Saw a photo in the NY Times of what looked to be hundreds of US soldiers marching in the desert getting ready to do something, and the whole lot of them was wearing green fatigues. Not a single man was wearing desert fatigues. I heard over the weekend something about troops being on reduced rations of one (1) MRE a day. (I believe this has ended. At least I hope so.)

This is how we treat our soldiers?


30 March 2003

There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose.
     --John Kenneth Galbraith
Sometimes it's the little things.

I'd almost forgotten that I had picked up fresh strawberries when I found them on sale (yes, I know I should only buy organic strawberies, and even those need to be well washed if I don't want food poisoning, but I just couldn't resist) so I had strawberries, and I had cream to make whipped cream, so what was needed? Why pound cake of course! Despite the fact that cake mixes make "from scratch" look difficult, it isn't, and pound cakes are exceptionally easy. This one, the recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible turned out fantastically well. Very light, not too sweet (not that I could tell with the cup of whipped cream I dumped on, but still.)

But the point is that there is something satisfying about making a cake (or any baked goods for that matter) from scratch and having it turn out just right. And as always it makes me wonder why people don't go to the effort more often, because there is a world of difference between a cake made from scratch using real butter and eggs and cake flour, and something out of a box, or even bought at the grocery store. So I wish that everyone would be able to make a cake, or brownies, or cookies, or anything delicious really, and then sit down and just indulge themselves, even if it's only one cookie or a small piece of cake, because I think it would really make people feel better.

And we need more of that right now.


Working on my paper, I found a resource for purchasing meats grown without antibiotics. The only restaurant in WV that made it to that list, is T.G.I. Friday's. We don't have one in Morgantown, of course. Supposely Kroger's sells organic meat, but I haven't seen it, nor have I found it at Giant Eagle. (promises, promises). Of course for the most part this isn't a problem for me, since I only eat chicken at restaurants if there are no fish or vegetarian options, but it's still great that someone has complied this list.

It's hard to type a with a cat perched like a vulture over your keyboard.

Read this in my latest copy of American Heritage:
The trouble with Lott’s assertion that he liked the Dixiecrats’ other, nonracist ideas was that they didn't have any. So dedicated were they to the cause of preserving Jim Crow that the States’ Righters never bothered to write an actual party platform. Instead they issued a "declaration of principles" that asserted above all, “We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race.
But there is another problem with Senator Lott’s protest, something that the national media managed to miss completely. Way back in 1948 Strom Thurmond was a liberal.
What Trent Meant And the real secret in Strom Thurmond’s Past by Kevin Baker
Oddly enough, as much as Trent Lott comes off looking like an idiot in this article, the facts about Strom Thurmond are pretty interesting, and he doesn't come off as a complete bigot--despite the Dixiecrats.


It's snowing. One of those fluffy snows that sticks to the tree branches. I think it's pretty, but of course we also thought ahead and covered our rosebushes last night (Well, I thought ahead and Michael did the covering.) Took some pictures. Most didn't turn out, but one was nice. I wanted to get a picture of the daffodils, their heads bowed down with snow, but the picture I took didn't turn out. Perhaps I'll take some more.... Right. Got a picture of the daffodils. I'd have thought it would be much better considering I feel on my butt in the driveway--all for that picture.

The lengths I'll go to, to avoid school work.

Michael was searching for...something... and came across this computer guarding kitty


The NY Times has pictures of the American soldiers who have been killed. It's a link under "Slide Shows" in the middle of the page, and it's larger pictures with much less cropped out. I hope the keep the link and keep updating it.


Nifty! Neil Gaiman will be writing the afterward to the next Steve Brust/Paarfi novel. We have not yet picked up the first, because it's only out in hardback. Of course the fact that he's writing the afterword to the second book means that the new hardback should be coming out soon, which means that the first book should be out soon in paperback. Which means I should only have a year or so until the second book comes out in paperback. (sigh)


29 March 2003
There never was a good war or a bad peace
-- Benjamin Franklin
What I've been reading recently....

Favorite Folktales from around the World edited by Jane Yolen (1986)
I picked this up in Cincinnati, but since I'm only reading a story or two a night before I fall asleep, it's not going very quickly. This is a very good collection, with a lovely collection of tales, some of which I had read before, but some that I have not. Although some are acceptable for children, some because they mention of sex, might not be, so I wouldn't get this book for a very young child, unless you were planning on reading it to them, and skipping the stories they might not understand. It would, I believe, be perfectly acceptable for a pre-teen or teenager who understands the concept of sex however. I mean, they're not sexy stories, they just might not make any sense to young kids.
I really liked the fact that although I have read collections of Russian and Chinese folktales, there were still stories with which I was unfamiliar. And of course it's always a pleasure to read a good story again, so it is not a bad thing when there are tales I already know, it is just that it is always a joy to come across a new tale.
I love the African Tale Talk which this collection contains. It may be one of my favorites, just because it always strikes me as really funny. I also enjoyed this tale, which I've read other versions of before, but this short version is one of my favorites.
The Old Man and His Grandson
There was once a very old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his knees trembled, and when he sat at the table he could hardly hold the spoon, and spilled the broth upon the tablecloth or let it run out of his mouth. His son and his son's wife were disgusted at this, so the old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove, and they gave him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not enough of it. And he used to look towards the table with his eyes full of tears. Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke. The young wife scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed. Then they bought him a wooden bowl for a few halfpence, out of which he had to eat.
They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four began to gather together some bits of wood upon the ground. "What are you doing?" asked the father. "I am making a little trough," answered the child, "for Father and Mother to eat out of when I am big."
The man and his wife looked at each other for a while, and presently began to cry. Then they took the grandfather to the table, and henceforth always let him eat with them, and likewise said nothing if he did spill a little of anything.
I sometimes think about this story when I hear people complaining about their elderly parents or grandparents, and wonder what they will be like when they reach that age. If they will remember.
I'm about three quarters of the way through now, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I'm finished, for this is, I believe, the last collection of folktales I have left to read....No, I'm totally wrong. I forgot that I picked up three other collections in Cincinnati: Irish Fairy and Folktales by W.B. Yeats (for only $6!), The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters by Kathleen Ragan. I wasn't sure about this, but picked it up because it has an foreword by Jane Yolen, which makes me a little more hopeful. There were a couple of other collections I looked at in Cincinnati, but there was rather expensive for their size, so I decided to wait. When I finish these I'll just have to look and see what else I can find to order. (Was at the Bookshelf today, and I already own everything that interests me.)

Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino (1956)
Michael got me this for Christmas, but I'm just now getting around to reading it. This is absolutely fantastic, especially following The World's Great Folktales, which weren't really. There are many tales here that I had not read before, and that were not even familiar. The stories are sorted by region, and it's interesting to see how different regions relate with the same theme. (Musch the same way different culture relate the same theme, actually.) There are also a good number of tales with overt religious themes, which is unsurprisingly, considering that this is, after all, Italy. Although many of the tales do have "happy endings" there are many that do not, and some that are were quite surprising.
Those Stubborn Souls, the Biellese
A farmer was on his way down to Biella one day. The weather was so stormy that it was next to impossible to get over the roads. But the farmer had important business and pushed onward in the face of the driving rain.
He met an old man, who said to him, "A good day to you! Where are you going, my good man, in such haste?"
"To Biella," answered the farmer without slowing down.
"You might at least say. 'God willing.'"
The farmer stopped, looked the old man in the eye and snapped, "God willing, I'm on my way to Biella. But even if God isn't willing, I still have to go there all the same."
Now the old man happened to be the Lord. "In that case you'll go to Biella in seven years."
Suddenly the farmer changed into a frog and jumped into the swamp.
Seven years went by. The farmer came out of the swamp, turned back into a man, clapped his hat on his head, and continued on his way to market.
After a short distance he met the old man again. "And where are you going, my good man?"
"To Biella."
"You might say, 'God willing.'"
"If God wills it, fine. If not I know the consequence and can now go into the swamp unassisted."
Nor for the life of him would he say one word more.
Support the Warrior Not the War: Give Them Their Benefits!
"The House of Representatives have recently voted on the 2004 budget which will cut funding for veteran's health care and benefit programs by nearly $25 billion over the next ten years. It narrowly passed by a vote of 215 to 212, and came just a day after Congress passed a resolution to "Support Our Troops." How exactly does this vote support our troops? Does leaving our current and future veterans veterans without access to health care and compensation qualify as supporting them?...
...The Bush Administration recently ordered V.A. medical centers to stop publicizing available benefits to veterans seeking assistance. This follows discontinued enrollments of some eligible veterans for healthcare benefits as of January, 2003."
Ah yes, rally around the troops--until they come home and need care.
I'm reminded of the "bonus army" (if you remember nothing about the bonus army, this is an excellent article. Even if you are familiar you may still want to read it, as this was what lead to the G.I. Bill of WWII.) and the quote "Hoover sent the Army; Roosevelt sent his wife". We can only hope that things don't reach those proportions, but with the current push for more tax cuts (I will not rant. I will not rant) I find that highly unlikely.


The doctor who identified the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) died in Thailand.

Afer a third death following smallpox vaccination, it is suggested in some quarters that the US be more cautious in implementing smallpox vaccinations. Of course the states are still being screwed in this deal. No compensation for those who are injured, and the states get to fund this out of their own public health funds. Our president is willing to drive the economy into huge deficits to fund tax cuts, but can't be bothered to pony up money for states struggling under slow economies and their own deficits to fund federally mandated programs.

This situation just makes me madder and madder every time I think about it, so it's probably time to do something else.


US Casualties ABC News. Only US casualties, sorted by date, no pictures of the soldiers, and buried in the site. Thanks for making this important folks.

NPR does not have list of casualties and POWs and MIAs, but it does have all the stories about the casualties, POWs and MIAs gathered in one place.

The Baltimore Sun has a list in their section on Iraq, although the link is dated, so I won't link to it. Along the panel in the right, is a link that says "List of casualties, POWs, MIAs". They also have some fantastic photos.

I wasn't able to find a list at USA Today, the Washington Post, or the DoD website, although the DoD site does have updates about casualties and soldiers. There may be lists there, but not so that I could find them.

Casuality lists on the BBC contain only British deaths. But they are organized together by incident, instead of by alphabetical order. This makes it easier to recognize new names added to the list.

Just did a search, and have not yet found a better site than CNN's for a list of casualties, POW and MIA. We need to run out and purchase flowers for Michael's other grandmother who is in the hospital, so the search will be discontinued for now. Perhaps I'll search the other news services....


28 March 2003

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay

Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime's argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star, like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are, how fragile we are

"Fragile" by Sting

New study shows drivers using cell phones twice as likely to cause rear-end collisions The study also found that "drivers most often talking on cell phones were between ages 25 and 39, and a higher proportion of users drove sport utility vehicles than non-users." So I'm more likely to get rear-ended by a moron driving an SUV who talks on the phone. So my car would be totaled and they'd have not a scratch. Great.

By looking for patterns in who emails whom, a new technique can quickly identify online "communities" and their ringleaders. Of course since this was tested in HP employees, it means that those same connections can easily be built between non-criminal groups. Not that I'd worry about guilt by association here, but I'd worry about guilt by association here.

At the talk last night, I was watching two grandmotherly aged women sitting several rows in front of me. I noticed them because the one was wearing a hat, and both were dressed to the nines. Throughout the talk I didn't see a reaction from them but I wondered what they were thinking, and how the felt about the talk. They lived through a time when usage of that word was used derisively, and on a much more regular basis than today. I really wondered what they thought about the talk, about how the felt about the changing usage of that word. They didn't ask any questions, and we were in a hurry to leave after the talk ended, so I never got to see their faces. So I'll be left wondering.

Me? I agree that by banning something we give it more power than it deserves, and that is certainly a word that should not have any power, but I also think that just because you can do something, that does not mean that you should. I'm not sure that the world is made a better place by common use of that word--or to be honest many others.

He mentioned the teacher who was disciplined by her school board, for teaching them the first chapter of his book, and I wonder what is happening with her. Was she able to fight her discipline? What was it that causes people do not understand that controversial concepts need to taught?

I went to look at the US and Coalition Casualities today, because I feel like it is my responsibility as a citizen to see those who serve my country and who have given their lives, and what I find dismaying is that the numbers killed in combat seem much lower than the numbers of soldiers killed in accidents. Is it always this way? Are we more deadly to ourselves than the enemy is to us? I heard something on the radio about how the lack of sleep that is associated with combat can be deadly. Is that what this is? For all the millenia that wars have been fought, has no one come up with a way to reduce losses to friendly fire?

There is also a POW-MIA list.

I think it's great that CNN is listing these soldiers, and that they have pictures when available, but I am sort of disappointed in the quality of the pictures. I mean, these are people who have died for our country. Died so that CNN can broadcast the news all over the world. Don't you think you could make the pictures just a LITTLE bigger? Perhaps not having to cut off the tops of people heads?

Anyway, I appreciate it, but if someone knows of a better site, I'd appreciate that too.


Today's walking music was Pet Shop Boys Please
Main Entry: 1en·dem·ic
Pronunciation: en-'de-mik, in-
Function: adjective
Etymology: French endémique, from endémie endemic disease, from Greek endEmia action of dwelling, from endEmos endemic, from en in + dEmos people, populace -- more at DEMAGOGUE
Date: 1759
1 a : belonging or native to a particular people or country b : characteristic of or prevalent in a particular field, area, or environment [problems endemic to translation] [the self-indulgence endemic in the film industry]
2 : restricted or peculiar to a locality or region [endemic diseases] [an endemic species]
synonym see NATIVE
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

Okay, this is something else that has been bothering me, and no one seems to know the answer.

Why are there so many soldiers not wearing desert fatigues, but are instead wearing forest/jungle (dark green) camo? Senator Byrd discussed this in February, and it stuck in my mind, which is why I've been paying attention to it in the pictures I see in the news. Going through today's NY Times it seems if if about half the soldiers pictured--including those who seemed to be in combat--we not wearing desert fatigues.

How is it that we can send our men and women off to die without even properly equipping them?

Yet our president insists that what we need right now is a tax cut.
To say that this outrages me, would be putting it mildly, so I'd best stop now.


Not driving from Charleston to Morgantown is completely understandable.

Not driving from Morgantown to Charleston is completely unacceptable.

Whatever, asshole. I don't know why I'm surprised. It's been the same line of crap for the past three years.


27 March 2003

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun
    --Mao Tse-Tung

Tonight Randall Kennedy spoke at WVU's Festival of Ideas on Nigger: The Strage Career of a Troublesome Word which is the name of his book on that subject.

That will be the last time I type that word, simply because I am uncomfortable with its use, even in simply relating what Randall Kennedy said in his talk.

First off, he was a good speaker--not as vivacious as Arianna Huffington, but then of course his message was a completely different one, that called for a different mode of address. He chose his words carefully--Michael said he reminded him of Senator Byrd (which is a good thing) but somewhat unsurprising, considering he is a lawyer after all.

He talked about the history of the word, and its use in American society. It is derived from the Latin word for black, and probably had an innocuous meaning at first, but by the 19th century it was firmly a term of abuse, the "signature word of racism", one of the most notorious racial insults, and eventually became the "gold standard" of group insults, where if you wanted to insult another racial group, you simply added a descriptor term to the word, such as "sand" to describe Arabs, or "forest" to describe Native Americans.

It was used is literature, and later comedy, "as a mirror to show the language of bigotry" and draw attention to black racial prejudice. Tom Sawyer uses the word 225 times, and uses it throughout Huck Finn, but Mark Twain is using the word not in a derogatory sense, but to show people the language of bigotry. Later is was used by social satirists, especially comedians who again used the word in an anti-racist fashion.

He says that although there are various permutations of the word, no matter how it is spelled, it still connotes the same series of associations, even though it has been used over time in a wide variety of ways. The history of the word as a derogatory racist term is quite clear throughout history. He said that most black biographies and autobiographies will have a story about the word usually within the first 30 pages, the term, and its abuse, is that pervasive throughout American history.

He gave several "legal" examples of autobiographical stories regarding the use of the word. He talked about the lawyer Benjamin Jefferson Davis, who in the 1930s defended Angelo Herndon, who was a communist up on charges of sedition (a charge that can carry the death penalty) for organizing poor people. In the courtroom the word was used casually by the prosecution, and when Ben Davis objected, the judge instructed the prosecution to, in the future, use the term "darkie". Angelo Herndon was convicted and sentenced to death, and although the supreme court eventually reversed the conviction, Ben Davis was so appalled that he enrolled in the Communist Party, became an active member, and was imprisoned for his activities in the late 1940s.

He told another "legal story" about Paul Robeson, the singer and actor, who originally went to law school, and got a job as an associate in a law firm. He asked his secretary to come in and take dictation, to which she came in, refused, and stormed out. After this he was convinced that he had no future as an attorney.

There are two views of the word. one view is that the word has only one meaning, and that meaning is racist. The second view is that this work, like all others, is amenable to change, and that words take their meaning from their surrounding circumstances. The later is the view to which Randall Kenndy subscribes.

I was interested in his mention of the "mere words" doctrine, or whether mere words can be a mitigating factor in a crime. In DC there is no "mere words" doctrine, and thus the use of the word can not be a mitigating factor in a crime, while in California, the use of such words can be considered as a mitigating factor in a crime.

In the question and answer period, I asked him whether it was better to take ownership of a word, and remove its power to harm, or whether society is better off not using such words at all. He said that when you make something taboo, you give it more power than it ought to have, which is a problem. He also says that this word is part of our cultural inheritance, but we need to be careful with its use.

Also interesting, was the fact that in 1963 the Federal Department of Interior mandated that the word, and other such racial slurs, be removed from from all maps, which involved hundreds of places that needed name changes.

All in all it was a good talk, and I enjoyed it, despite the fact that a word that makes me uncomfortable was bandied about and, as he said, used hundreds of times in the course of his lecture.


Main Entry: ubiq·ui·tous
Pronunciation: yü-'bi-kw&-t&s
Function: adjective
Date: 1837
: existing or being everywhere at the same time : constantly encountered : WIDESPREAD
- ubiq·ui·tous·ly adverb
- ubiq·ui·tous·ness noun
I got an 97 on my Stats exam! Yeah! Of course this doesn't sound that impressive unless you know that I am absolutely terrible with simple math, and one of my errors last time was multiplying 6 and 4 and getting 36. No, I don't know how I do it, it just happens. So anyway, I'm pleased with myself, and it's nice to have good news in the middle of the day.

Yesterday's walking tape was The Replacements Pleased to Meet Me today, I get to walk to INXS Kick. If nothing else, my walks when I don't have a walking partner will allow me to listen to all my old tapes. I keep thinking about getting a new portable CD player (my old one no longer works with batteries, so it's only portability is in the car) which would let me listen to my CDs that I don't listen to now because I'm too lazy to change what's in the CD changer more than once a month, and besides that I prefer to listen to non-distracting stuff when I'm studying. But it would be nice to be able to walk to The Wonder Stuff.

I was looking for something in my blog last night, and realized that since my great reorganization (yes, that flows even into my on-line life) I had a bunch of bad links (Bad link! Bad!) and because I am the person I am, I went back to fix them (okay, at least I only fixed this year and no more than that) and in doing so, I noticed that if I spent as much time studying, as I spent talking about how much I need to go study, I'd be able to spend more time doing not studying activities without the guilt.

Scientists at the CDC believe that they have identified the virus that causes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). The disease seems to be caused by a Corona virus, placing it in the same family as the viruses that cause the common cold. Experts are also contemplating the possibility that this virus was originally an animal virus that "jumped" to humans. Schools in Hong Kong are now closed until at least the 6th of April, in an effort to control the disease.


26 March 2003

How different the new order would be if we could consult the veteran and instead of the politician
     --Henry Miller
Ivy sent me this, I'm quoting only a portion and the providing a link to the rest. But I thought it was well worth sharing.
The 70th anniversary wasn't noticed in the United States, and was barely reported in the corporate media. But the Germans remembered well that fateful day seventy years ago - February 27, 1933. They commemorated the anniversary by joining in demonstrations for peace that mobilized citizens all across the world.

It started when the government, in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack. A foreign ideologue had launched feeble attacks on a few famous buildings, but the media largely ignored his relatively small efforts. The intelligence services knew, however, that the odds were he would eventually succeed. (Historians are still arguing whether or not rogue elements in the intelligence service helped the terrorist; the most recent research implies they did not.)

But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the majority of citizens claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted. He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and internationalist world. His coarse use of language - reflecting his political roots in a southernmost state - and his simplistic and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats, foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media. And, as a young man, he'd joined a secret society with an occult-sounding name and bizarre initiation rituals that involved skulls and human bones.

Nonetheless, he knew the terrorist was going to strike (although he didn't know where or when), and he had already considered his response. When an aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious building was ablaze, he verified it was the terrorist who had struck and then rushed to the scene and called a press conference.

"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning." He used the occasion - "a sign from God," he called it - to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their evil deeds in their religion.
To read the entire essay, please visit When Democracy Failed: The Warnings of History by Thom Hartmann at Common Dreams

Also, see this
Similarly, Republicans have overtly used third-party participation on the left to their advantage. In a July 12, 2002 story in the Washington Post titled "GOP Figure Behind Greens Offer, N.M. Official Says," Post writer Thomas B. Edsall noted that: "The chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico said yesterday he was approached by a GOP figure who asked him to offer the state Green Party at least $100,000 to run candidates in two contested congressional districts in an effort to divide the Democratic vote."

The Republicans well understand - and carefully use - the fact that in the American electoral system a third-party candidate will always harm the major-party candidate with whom s/he is most closely aligned.
How To Take Back America by Thom Hartmann at Common Dreams
Thom Hartmann lived and worked in Germany during the 1980s, and is the author of over a dozen books, including "Unequal Protection" and "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight." This article is copyright by Thom Hartmann, but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached.


Yesterday was the 92nd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the fire that brought about changes in fire laws and unionization. As seemed to be common, then as today, 146 had to die before notice was taken of the conditions under which the women worked, and the dangerous working conditions under which they labored.


The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) infection may have killed as many as 34 people in China. Depsite the war in Iraq, this illness continues. In Singapore 740 people have been quarantined and schools are closed until April 6th. Despite this, China has barred WHO doctors from visiting the probable site of origin of the disease.


Main Entry: orthographic projection
Function: noun
Date: 1668
1 : projection of a single view of an object (as a view of the front) onto a drawing surface in which the lines of projection are perpendicular to the drawing surface
2 : the representation of related views of an object as if they were all in the same plane and projected by orthographic projection
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary
More on orthographic drawings.


Ivy found a hyperlink for Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. This is a very long document, but important parts seem to be (at least to me):
In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peace time, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them. (Article 2)

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. (Article 3)
I heard something interesting, in passing, yesterday or the day before, regarding the U.S. Press photographing Iraqi POWs and the gentleman (no, I don't know who) made the point that by doing so, in some instance they could be placing the families of those prisoners in danger, for the military/government/dictator might kill their families in retribution. This may not be too far out in left field for our current situation, for I remember reading something about Iraqi orders to shoot all surrendering Iraqi soldiers in the back.

So I think that although the treatment of POWs by the Iraq military is terrible and not to be condoned, I think that the US news services should be doing more to obscure the faces and identifying characteristics of Iraqi POWs.


We got take-out from the Great Wall last night. I really love their food, even if the spicy stuff is inconsistent (sometimes it will be really hot, other times it won't). I didn't want to, because we spent more than enough money in Cincinnati, but Michael said that it was to be positive reinforcement for doing well on my Statistics test.

I do well on an exam--I don't have to eat his cooking.


Calvin & Hobbes comic

I love Calvin & Hobbes.


25 March 2003

It is well that war is so terrible; else we could grow too fond of it.
     --Robert E. Lee
This is very amusing--one can almost imagine that he would sound like that. Found on Letters from Gotham.

The Coalition Casualties page on CNN has now been split into 6 different pages. I find that very unsettling.

I think I did okay on my statistics exam. I walked out with a good feeling anyway. And I finally got my midterm grade back for Environmental Health, and I did very well. I'm rather pleased, even if I do say so myself.


Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase "The ISFDB is an effort to catalog works of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. It links together various types of bibliographic data: author bibliographies, publication bibliographies, award listings, magazine content listings, anthology and collection content listings, yearly fiction indexes, and forthcoming books." Wow. Where has this website been all my life! This is far easier than doing a search on Amazon or Barnes and Noble to find a book! What a happy thing!

Wow. Cheap computer geeks the world over will be very jealous of Teh Box. Found at Boing Boing.


"Minteer and her colleagues are focusing on small-scale applications, with the preliminary fuel cells being no bigger than five square centimeters — about the size of a postage stamp. "We've tested probably 30 to 50 of the ethanol cells," Minteer says. They have successfully run their cells with vodka, gin, white wine and flat beer ("The fuel cell didn't like the carbonation," Minteer says)."

"Vegetable oil similar to the stuff you use to cook your food may one day fill your car's engine"
I wonder how different this is from the bio-diesel that is being used by some, and whether the idea came from there. Interestingly, I read a news article a couple of months ago about people in Europe getting arrested for using bio-diesel--because they were not paying all the taxes that came with regular fuel. Which is kinda dumb, if you think about it. Penalizing people for reducing pollution AND disposing of waste. (The oil that is used in bio-diesel is old oil from restaurants, so the exhaust smells like French fries typically.)

"Based on human studies, researchers have found that drinking three glasses a day significantly raises levels of "good cholesterol" in the blood and increases plasma antioxidant levels, reducing the risk of heart disease."
The cranberry industry should be delighted with this news. Cranberry juice is associated with decreased incidence of UTIs (Urinary tract infections), is high in anti-oxidants (which can reduce cancer, stroke and heart disease), and now it's found to raise good cholesterol. Too bad I can't stand the taste of the stuff.

"A program that promotes the development of new bio-pesticides, many of which can be used in organic food production" sounds like a very good idea to me. I know that you can buy insecticide made from crysanthemums (which I prefer to use, if I have to use it at all, since my cats think that they are omnivores instead of carnivores), so research in this direction for a commercial scale sounds very promising.

More on Super Tasters!


I'm cold and tired and stressing about my statistics exam.

But other than that things are going perfectly well.


24 March 2003

A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user
     - Theodore Roosevelt "Autobiography"
Something Mark said today bothered me, but I couldn't really forment a response at the time. (Things were a little hectic. That's my excuse anyway.) It doesn't matter that we have an all volunteer army. I do not believe that our soldiers join the army for reasons of brutality or violence, though some very small minority may. And it certainly isn't for the pay...
In today's military a young enlisted person serving out his or her first contract can expect to make one thousand, seventy-five dollars and eighty cents a month.

Over a forty-hour workweek,this averages to six dollars and seventy cents an hour. But most of our military personnel don't work forty-hour weeks. We all remember the famous Army slogan-"We do more before 900 a.m. than most people do all day."
     ---Representative Helen Chenoweth May 20, 1999
I believe that those who volunteer for military service do so for the same reason that people become teachers or firemen (don't forget that the ranks of WV's fire departments and emergency personnel and police forces, have been seriously thinned, for so many are reservists who have now been called to active duty) and that is to serve their country and to help others. So to say that they volunteered for military service belittles why so many are there.

Consider peacekeeping in Kosovo and the Balkans, a thankless job if ever there was one, yet a necessary job.

I've come to wonder whether the US has not made a mistake in not following countries where military service is compulsory for at least a year. It seems that we have come so far from "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" to where we are now--everyone expects everything handed to them, and the very foundation of voting--democracy--is resoundingly ignored by most, especially by those 18 to 25. Would it make a difference to the make up of the American psyche, to know that we had to serve our country in some capacity? I wonder if it would make our leaders less likely to call for aggression, knowing that their sons and daughters and nieces and nephews were the ones who would be bleeding, and not just those who volunteer for what seems to be to be a thankless task.

It's late, and I'm not sure that I'm completely coherent, but it really bothered me, and I wanted to get that off my mind.


Despite the fact that there is much else I should be doing, I'm still reading blogs. I think it's a bit addictive, partially because it is interesting to read what other people have to say, and partially because they make me think. Read an interesting point in Letter from Gotham, where she talks about the ridiculousness of warblogs and "Civilians telling other civilians what we are watching on television." Except that I do appreciate it. I'm stuck at work with no access to the news other than what I see from the BBC and NY Times websites (CNN's website grates on my nerves a bit), and that is not really what I should be doing here at work, surfing the news (or writing in my blog for that matter), and at home I do NOT have cable TV (yes, I'm a mutant, I know this) and I don't get any channels, so the web and the radio are what let me know what is going on. So it's not bad, and it does serve a purpose, but I do have to wonder how many people are in my situation? Perhaps more who don't have TV or radio at work, but not many who don't have TV. So she does have a point, but I appreciate the warblogs anyway.


As far as everything else goes, I still feel terribly conflicted, and that's probably why I've been writing here so much. I used to write long letters when I was confused about something, and frequently I didn't even bother to send the letters, it was the process of writing, of shaping my thoughts and ideas into cohesive words and sentences that allowed me to sort things out for myself. Later, at least on political and religious topics, I used the BBSes for the same thing. A forum for trying to get things straight in my mind. Sure, I could use a paper journal, except that I know that I don't keep up with one. I've tried off and on over the years, and never keep up with it. I also tend to be self censoring, even in a private journal, because there is always the possibility that someone will read it (long story) so this works. I can add to it any time, and it also serves to delude me into thinking that my friends can keep track of me if they so desire. So it's a good thing this blog.

But of course what started that is still the fact that I'm still not sure what I should be feeling about the war. Is that weird? Everyone I know has such concrete and strong ideas about how they feel, and here I am all wishy-washy. It's not like I don't have strong feelings about the individual components that make up the situation, it is just that assembling those components does not make a cohesive whole. I don't like Bush, and I don't trust him. But Sadaam Hussein is much worse, someone who has committed atrocities against his own subjects. I think that Bush has reasons for this war that have nothing to do with the welfare of the Iraqi people, yet the removal of such a dictator is a good thing. Civilians are dying in the bombings, but civilians were killed by the Iraqi regime. It's as if every negative is balanced by a positive, leaving me teetering here on the fence, fair game for anyone with a strong opinion to shoot down.

But of course what bothers me most is the fact that I believe that we have to support those who are fighting the war. The individuals who are putting their lives on the line at the word of our commander in chief. They must believe in what they are doing, because their lives may be it stake if they have doubts. I was really to young to remember or understand the aftermath of the Vietnam war, but I do remember learning about the way our soldiers, who had already suffered in Vietnam, were treated when they returned. They had no choice in what they were doing, and yet Americans were berating them. It was really inexcusable, and since then I have feared something like that happening again. I worry that those who are serving our country will see the anti-war protests, and remembering our history, feel that is they, not the war, that are being demonized. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to go to work everyday knowing that you may accidentally take the life of an innocent in the course of duty. How much harder must it be if you believe that your own countrymen are against you? Would that not lead you to self doubt and hesitation?

He who hesitates is lost.

How much more dangerous must such a hesitation be in times of conflict?


23 March 2003

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands
in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times
of challenge and controversy.
     -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life does go on, despite the war and the mayhem.

Yesterday was James and Dani's baby shower, and it was good to get away from the news of bombing and war and death and celebrate life. They received the cutest baby hat. It's knit and royal blue with the very top being green--it reminds one of a blueberry. She said she was surprised, and James managed to help surprise her without lying directly to her, so it was a good shower, on multiple counts.

And since we hadn't seen them for months, we'll be going to dinner with them, and Kim and Mike tonight. After all, they might not be getting out much after the baby is born, so better enjoy it now!


Seven Ice Cream Vices
"Vanity" is reported to be the most popular flavour in Australia.


U.S. & Coalition Casualties from CNN. It was hard enough to find. I hope they keep it updated.

And whatever caused WV Public Radio to go back to regular programming last night, it's back to all war all the time.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said television networks showing such interviews were breaking the Geneva Convention on prisoners-of-war. Then why is it that only on the BBC website have I seen the faces of Iraqi prisoners of war blocked? CNN has shown pictures of surrendering Iraqi troops and prisoners, some up close in detail. I noticed this Friday when I saw a picture on the BBC where the face had been blurred that was the exact same picture I had seen on the CNN website showing the face of the man in detail. I realize that the video footage came from the Iraqi government in this instance, but you would think that if the BBC can fuzz out the faces of Iraqis, that the rest of the media could do the same.

Just something that was bothering me.

Now, really, I am going to go back to studying.


I really do mean to get back to studying....

Very interesting piece in the NY Times of relations between Iran and the US over the war against Sadaam Hussein.

"For a decade, a Washington lawyer named Daniel Troy tried to restrict the regulatory powers of the Food and Drug Administration...He's now an insider, running the FDA's legal division." " Since taking over as the FDA's chief counsel in August 2001, Troy, 43, has held dozens of private meetings with drug manufacturers and others regulated by the FDA. He kept no notes or minutes of those meetings. A U.S. News inquiry shows he has also favored less rigorous enforcement of regulations for some products and has been lenient about scrutinizing advertising claims by companies." This is from an investigative report in U.S. News and World Report. That a Bush appointee is undermining the FDA is something that, again, comes as no surprise to me. What depresses me, is that this is all the news it has gotten.


Last night, WV Public Radio went back to normal broadcasting, so I got to hear Mountainstage.
It's something I'd been pondering--when do you leave off the 24 hour news and go back to normal broadcasting, and what does it mean that you have done so? I mean, I was about ready to turn off the radio and put on some CDs, because whether we like it or no, life goes on. My exam on Tuesday is not going to be delayed for the war, so I have to study. And I'm sure that many other people are like that. So what does this shift mean? Do they know that people stop listening after awhile? Do they feel as if they are overwhelming us? (I feel guilty typing that, for how much more overwhelming must it be, to be a part of the war?) Or have they recognized that this is not going to be a short war, that they can't keep up this constant coverage for weeks--perhaps even months--at a time? What will it now take for them to switch back to constant news coverage? Whatever it is, I'm sure it would be bad, and I hope it does not happen.

"For months, a few C.I.A. analysts have privately expressed concerns to colleagues and Congressional officials that they have faced pressure in writing intelligence reports to emphasize links between Saddam Hussein's government and Al Qaeda." Depressing, yet I am unsurprised.

On a lighter note, I've been flipping from blog to blog as a study break, and I found Dave Barry's blog (this is a good thing I think), which had a link to this page about the new signs being put out along the lines of the WWII duck and cover signs (Only slightly scatalogical).

I also came across The Command Post a joint warblog. It's basically a compilation of links to different news stories. I've found two different stories from here, about people who went to Iraq to be human shields (here and here), and came home with a different view of the war.

And for anyone who heard her radio diary on NPR, Laura Rothenberg died. You also visit Radio Diaries.


22 March 2003

While you're saving face you're losing your ass.
     --President Lyndon Johnson (1908-1973)
The New York Times, in one of it's slide shows, has a picture of "Kenneth Watersbey, 10, with a picture of his father, Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Watersbey, 29, of Baltimore. Sergeant Watersbey was one of three Americans and eight British soldiers killed when their helicopter went down in Kuwait." How many more children will there be by the end of this, here and in Iraq, mourning their parents? Will this number be fewer than the number that would exist if we left had chosen not to declare war on Iraq?

"What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomatic efforts when the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?"

"True to its traditions of service to our country, West Virginia continues to have the highest per capita rates of participation in our armed forces. Thousands of West Virginians are now carrying out missions to defeat Saddam Hussein, protect our homeland, and root out terrorists in Afghanistan," ... "Few doubt the outcome of this war. The fate of Iraq is sealed. The United States, with its awesome military might, is virtually certain to prevail decisively. But the fate of the individual soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who will carry the battle to Iraq is far less certain. We pray that every man and woman engaged in the war will return home safely and soon."


Staring at the pictures of the latest peace rallies (on the BBC website) and thinking about the other pictures I've seen recently of the same, I was struck by a particularly irreverent thought. Would it be possible to get a way with murder, but killing someone in the middle of such a rally? I mean, everyone is covered in red paint, some of which is rather realistic looking, I'd think that you could possible arrange it so that people wouldn't notice right away. Sure there are lots of cameras, but I still think that if you did it right, you could, literally, get away with murder.

Once again I wish I have the skill to write the book ideas I come up with.


21 March 2003

What luck for the rulers that men do not think.
     -- Adolf Hitler
It's Friday of spring break, there's no one around (I should have taken the whole week off. I just wasn't thinking), so I'm listening to the radio, but wondering if that is really what I want to be doing. Last night I turned off the news and played CDs, because I just didn't want to listen to any more news about death and destruction, but part of me is paranoid that I'm missing something important, though thinking logically, if something major were to happen, I am quite sure that someone would call and tell me, so it's just that paranoia thing again. Of course even the news of the war in Iraq is better than listening to nothing, which is my other alternative.

Spent a long time on the phone last night with my aunt. She says that my cousin is safe, but that the Peace Corps told them that they were told not to leave the city where they are stationed. He's not worried, because he's no where near Iraq, but I still worry, because Kyrgyzstan isn't that far from Pakistan and Afghanistan, physically at least, although it seems to be so culturally. I think it's just that he's so large and blonde that worries me. He's quite obviously not a local, and I worry that could make him a target for extremists. But knowing me it's mostly paranoia. (It's a sign that you're not seriously mentally ill if you recognize your mental illnesses, right?!)

Also talked to my grandmother. She sounds tired, but she didn't mention anything in particular, and we didn't talk much about the war, but she said cousin Margie's son-in-law is in Germany and may be shipped to the Middle East soon. She also told me that cousin Margie's husband died at the beginning of the month, which I didn't know. He'd been very sick for a very long time, but I'm sure it was still hard. I feel bad that I didn't know earlier and wasn't about to send out a sympathy card, but mom said she didn't think there was such a thing is a belated sympathy card, as people frequently don't find out right away. Aunt Chris has mentioned getting together some time, just a day trip, once Grandmom is feeling better, and I hope that's soon.

I wanted to take advantage of this being a slow day, to work on my paper, but I got next to nothing done. Couldn't concentrate. Did find a couple more articles on the web, and read some articles, but I just can't get my mind focused on what I want to say and the manner in which I want to say it. It's not as if I'm not interested in the topic--I find antibiotic resistance a very important subject--I just can't gather my thoughts together.


20 March 2003
I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.
     --Thomas Jefferson

I'm tired of playing the devil's advocate. I'm tired of being reasonable and seeing both sides. The point is that this entire fiasco just feels wrong to me, morally and ethically. Sure Sadaam is a bad guy who should have been removed years ago, but I can't buy the here and now argument for bombing the entire country to remove him. I still think that assassination is a better solution. Sadaam is the one who needs to die, not thousands of innocents. The argument against political assassination is one that seems to be by politicians for politicians. You can't open that can of worms, because if we assassinate one world leader than others may try to assassinate our leaders. Well, if our politicians are willing to place the lives of our citizens at risk, while we pay the secret service to keep them safe (not to mention the kevlar limos and everything else) I don't see what the problem is. Better that those who cause the problems be the ones to pay the price.

But despite this, I just can't conjure up the rage and bitterness I see in others. To me, this is just another political ploy, a distraction to keep us from noticing the failing economy, the scandals (when was the last time anyone mentioned Haliburton?), and the fact that our president is still catering to the rich and wealthy, while leaving the rest of is slowly twisting in the wind. I am disgusted by the fact that we are killing Iraqis to boost the popularity of a president in a failing economy, yet I am so unsurprised by this that it's hard to get mad. I saw it coming, there was nothing I could do about it, and I'm not sure what getting mad now will even accomplish.

Instead I worry about those whose lives are in danger, our soldiers, the soldiers of other countries, and the citizens of Iraq.


19 March 2003

It started.


Erin sent me this link to an Iraqi blog. I logged onto the net to study (vacation is over, back to studying), but am reading this instead.


Susan, Michael, Me, Andy, Heather


18 March 2003
The president looks in the mirror and speaks
His shirts are clean but his country reeks
Unpaid bills
Afghanistan hills
Bombs away
But we're okay
Bombs Away The Police (1980)


I think I gained about 10 pounds this weekend, but it was worth it. Friday at Uno's was good, and it was nice just to sit and relax and catch up with Susan. That, of course, started things off.

Saturday, the bistro at Joseph-Beth's was quite good. I really liked the zucchini quiche (Which I used to hate when my parents made it. Perhaps it was the cheese they used.) and the salad was very good. It was a little pricey for a restaurant in a bookstore, but the food was quite good, so that made up for it I suppose. Dinner that night was at a Greek (?) restaurant called PJ's, where I had salmon that was pretty good. Michael had seafood alfredo, which was a very spicy alfredo--I did not care for it, because it had a lot of pepper, but Michael liked it, so that is what is important. And I got baklava for dessert, which is always good (although the baklava at Mediterrean Deli is better, of course). But the best part was sitting and talking with Susan's father. We were there for over three hours, just talking, one of our only three hour dinners.

Sunday we had lunch at Wild Oats, to start off our shopping for the day. Wild Oats is a grocery store that has lots of organic goods, and they have a section in the back of ready made foods to eat there or take home. I had to different spinach-filo pastries, which were pretty good considering that I heated it in a microwave (Michael and Susan both got sandwiches made there, which were heated by the people working there.) Then we went shopping at Wild Oats. They had, obviously, a huge selection of organic foods, which was good, but they were quite pricey, so we didn't get a lot there, though I did pick two Newman's Own chocolate bars to try. We'll see how good they are. I think what impressed me most was the fact that almost every employee with whom we dealt was happy and cheerful and seemed more than willing to help. As I was wandering back from getting my (organic) chocolate milk to drink with my lunch, I realized that my hands were too full, and I dropped first one, and then the other, of my lunch items. And employee came over and smilingly handed me a basket saying that lots of people get more than they expect there. I thought that was pretty fantastic, since typically you can't even find an employee in a grocery store when you look for one, and here one popped up out of nowhere. The blueberry scone and carrot muffin were also quite good.

Then we eventually made it to Jungle Jim's. I still can not believe that he is expanding that place further. I was also surprised by the prices. My memory was that the prices were pretty expensive comparatively, but since I had already been to a couple other places (some of the cooking stores we visited had chocolate) I was pleasantly surprised to see that the prices were cheaper than much else of what I had seen earlier. Not that it stopped us from spending almost $100 on two bags of groceries (!) but $14 of that was a six pack of beer Michael picked up (think he'll ever hear the end of that?) that he thought was a much cheaper price. I also picked up honey for Erin. I didn't find sage honey like she wanted, but there were some interesting kinds of honey there--I hope she'll be pleased with them. I picked up a lot of chocolate. Since it will be a year before we come back, I had to stock up--so that in and of itself was $20 But it will be worth it. The baking chocolate choices in Morgantown are Baker's and Hershey's. That's it. And I kind of expected to spend that much, so it wasn't a surprise. I also picked up some organic Madagascar bourbon vanilla. We'll see how that is, and possible look for it elsewhere if I like it. (I picked up a different kind of vanilla for Mom.) I also picked up another bottle of Melinda's Mango hot sauce, since we're almost finished with the current bottle (I like Melinda's hot sauce, but the Mango is very good). I picked up an aged white cheddar cheese that we sampled, that I will now have to remember to eat, and a couple of other odds and ends, including a drink that I think I'll send to Bob. All in all, it was a very long shopping trip (2 1/2 hours) and by the time we were done, we were tired and still not that hungry, and opted for dinner at Ruby Tuesday's. The salad bar was just a salad bar. I'm not sure why they claim it's so fantastic, and they ran out of plates, but the salad and baked potato were just what we needed.

Monday we (finally) had lunch at Thai Cafe. I had Paad Thai, which was very good, although pretty spicy despite the fact I only got a 5.(You choose your spicy-ness on a scale of 1 to 10. I'm a 5.) I didn't finish it, because it was too much to eat, but didn't take it with me, since we were not going directly home, and it wouldn't keep in the car. Our waiter was very nice and friendly, and our food came very quickly, and it was generally a good meal. That was followed by a day of walking around. After that we had dinner at the Macaroni Grill, which I really like. I think the service is great, and to food is very good, and we just generally enjoyed our meal. They didn't have tiramisu, which made me sad, but we got canoli (no clue about the spelling) which was good, although I would have preferred tiramisu, which is, to me at least, lighter. Michael opted for the new "make your own pasta" option, and got garlic, garlic and mushroom fettuccine. He said it was very good, and he also gets it for dinner tonight. I got the vegetable ravioli, which I think I always end up getting, but I never remember that from the names. It was good, as always, although we didn't really linger over dinner like we usually do.

Today, the last meal in Cincinnati was again at Thai Cafe, since it'll be a year probably until I get Thai again. I got garlic chicken, which is very delicious, and I ate it all. Andy (who we finally got to see) got the paad thai, which he said he liked, Susan again got the crispy paad thai, which I think it okay, but she really likes. When she ordered it, the waiter commented that he was unsurprised at her order. She goes there with her lab, and orders the same thing. She really likes it. I don't think I've ordered anything there that I didn't like, so that was a very good last meal before leaving. We ended with Grater's Ice cream (I got boring chocolate) and then hit the road.

And now it's 6:45 and I'm in the car and hungry. Too bad I'm back to normal food at eating now. (sigh) Until our next trip anyway!


16 March 2003

Another busy day of shopping. I'm ready for bed and it's only 10:15. Today we have the grocery shopping portion of our trip. We went to Wild Oats, which is an organic/natural foods type grocery store (we also had lunch there) and to several stores around there, including Sur La Table, where I again saw lots of cooking stuff that I can't afford, and a Bed and Bath store where Susan found the "table" she wanted (it's wicker-y and has drawers and fits in the corner) and I also found the doormat that Grandmom wanted last summer. It's just a coconut type door mat, except that it's over an inch thick, which is precisely what she wanted, but not what we found. So now next time I see her I can give her the mat.

And then we went to Jungle Jim's.

They have actually expanded since the last time we were here, and we could see where they are going to be making the store EVEN BIGGER. I'm just astounded. It took as 2 1/2 hours, and we skipped most of the stuff at the end, because we were just too tired. But I got about $20 worth of baking chocolate, and some organic vanilla and some other random stuff. And Michael took a picture of the hot sauce aisle (you can only see one side, but the second side is more of the same) and they expended their chocolate section (but there still wasn't a lot of baking chocolate, which is okay since I was fine with what I got). All in all it was a good trip, but exhausting. We ended up just getting salads for dinner, because we were too tired for much of anything else.

Oh, the let down was that the Thai Cafe was closed, so we couldn't go there for lunch, but that is the plan for lunch tomorrow. I somehow don't think I'll manage to get to eat there twice, unfortunately, but we WILL eat there tomorrow!


Still vacationing in sunny Cincinnati. It actually has been quite beautiful--the weather anyway! We've been, unsurprisingly, shopping. Since we left early on Friday, and we were not supposed to be here until four-ish, we stopped at the outlet place between Columbus and Cincinnati. The Corning-Revere shop was the only really exciting place, but we still managed to restrain ourselves. I also got socks, some reduced price books, and note cards. The real shopping was yesterday. Susan was looking for shelves for her kitchen and living room, so we went to lots of places to find those. But the fun places were a William-Sonoma cooking store, where I found the spring-form pan I want and Michael found a very nice digital scale, both of which remain unpurchased, for they were ridiculously expensive. And we went to Joseph-Beth and to Barnes and Noble, where a great deal of time, one money, was spent. Some of my exciting purchases were: Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters Heroines in Folktakes from around the World by Kathleen Ragan, The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland, Irish Fairy Tales and Folk Tales by W.B. Yeats (for only $6!), Paper Mage by Leah R. Cutter, Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (Erin recommended her), and Favorite Folktales from around the World by Jane Yolen. That one I started last night.

And of course we ate well. Joseph-Beth had a bistro, and we ate lunch there (I had a very good zucchini quiche) and we had dinner with Susan's dad at a place called PJ's (something or another) which was also good. I had salmon and a baked potato, and baklava for dessert.

Oh, I've actually remembered to take picture, but I don't have the software on this computer, so I won't get a good look at the pictures I took until we get home. But we took pictures in her lab when we stopped by looking for a piece of paper (we went to replace Susan's cell phone, which was lost at the beginning of the year) and we took pictures at dinner last night. Hopefully we'll get more pictures as well go along--including pictures of Jungle Jim's!

But now, I think it is time for breakfast.


13 March 2003

Mark's wife took him to the ER with a stomach bug, Melissa called off because she's throwing up. Gina's stomach was upset all day, and she wanted to go home, but since she wasn't vomiting, she had to stay.

I've wiped down my computer and the phone(s) with alcohol, and washed my hands seemingly incessantly.

I still don't feel clean, either.

I will not get sick.
I will not get sick.
I will not get sick.
I will not get sick.

Oh, and there's a super flu in Asia, sweeping through Hong Kong and Vietnam. In February there was a flu outbreak in Tbilisi the Georgian capital, that closed schools.


12 March 2003

Arianna Huffington's talk was fantastic. Michael really enjoyed this talk, as did I. Of course the fact that she was speaking against corporate culture didn't hurt, but she really was very good at presenting her message, even if it was preaching to the choir so to speak. She used video clips and humor to help make her point, which kept people like Michael paying attention. :)

Much of her talk revolved around the wall street scandals and the (lack of a) penalty paid by the CEOs and heads of those companies. She stated that the corporate crimes (like the Enron scandal) were enabled by D.C. because during the 90s the checks and balances that were supposed to keep wall street and corporate American in check did not function. "We allowed the watchdogs to become lapdogs", which is probably from her book, but a nice quote anyway. She also repeated the fact that companies hide money through tax shelters, that despite the war and the call for support, companies and individuals can still open a P.O. Box in Bermuda and void paying any U.S. taxes at all. $70 billion dollars are being lots overseas, when companies like Tyco and Haliburton (you know, Vice President Cheney's company) "set up" business there, even if setting up business there means no more than renting a P.O. box. We $70 billion a year being lost overseas, yet our president can not find $6.8 billion dollars to fund his much touted "No Child Left Behind Program" and schools all over the country will have to close days and even weeks early this year, because they can not find the money to stay open. But our president and our congress refuse to plug the corporate loophole that loses $70 billion a year, and means that companies like Tyco and Haliburton pay $0 (yes, that's zero) in taxes. (Did you pay nothing in taxes last year? Despite the fact I got a tax refund, I paid a lot more than $0.) Our new Treasury Secretary, John Snow, headed a company that paid no taxes (again, that's zero dollars) for the last several years. And this is the man that is heading the treasury department. And our president has filled his administration with this ex-CEOs who spent their previous careers bilking the government out of millions of dollars.

She talked about the difference between those who are in the top of the corporate world, and those of us who are not (she described them as Upstairs versus Downstairs, and says that there are different rules and different laws for the rich versus the rest of us (like paying taxes). For instance, the fines that are paid by Wall Street firms that get into trouble? "Fines are simply calculated in the cost of doing business." In other words, it's cheaper to pay the fines then do run your business legally. And to add insult to injury, those fines are tax deductible.

She soke about SUVs. Because of lobbying by Detroit, we have a huge SUV tax credit--you can take a substantial tax credit for buying an SUV. For buying a vehicle has no trouble selling. All because of Detroit lobbying. And there is also an SUV loophole. SUVs that are more than 8000 pounds do not have to have ANY fuel efficiency standards. None. It's bad enough that SUVs only have to get 20 mpg while automobiles must get 27 (which is STILL too low! But that's another issue entirely), but if you make an SUV big enough, you don't have to follow ANY fuel efficiency standards. There rules were written by Detroit, and made law by Congress. Is Detroit ever going to make fuel efficient SUVs? Not unless the Ameican people get behind the change and force Congress to change the CAFE standards the way the American people forced Congress to put through Corporate reform, because conservation is against the bottom line of corporate America.

She ended on a slightly more positive note, with the idea that movement for change must start at the grass roots level. The Civil rights movement, the women's rights movement, all started at the grass roots level, and it is only when critical mass is reached that real changes will happen, but these changes are not impossible, they can happen, we have have to get mad enough to do something about it.


Tonight Arianna Huffington talks for WVU's Festival of Ideas. Michael gets out of this one, since he gets to stay at work and put the new network together. This is good, because it means he'll not have to use as much leave for Friday. He assures me that this won't take very long at all, but I am not as optimistic. Nothing is ever that simple when computers are involved.


11 March 2003

"The children's hit television programme Thomas the Tank Engine may be making children frightened of going on trains because of the number of crashes in its stories, according to a British psychologist."

A co-worker found this ABC news article that started off today's rant against our current government. The group, the Project for the New American Century, or PNAC, was founded in 1997. Among its supporters were three Republican former officials who were sitting out the Democratic presidency of Bill Clinton: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz....And in a report just before the 2000 election that would bring Bush to power, the group predicted that the shift would come about slowly, unless there were "some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor." Okay, I'm not impressed by the foretelling of 9/11, because a look at world events should have told us that the US was unprepared for a major terrorist attack, and was an easy target. What disturbs me is that many of these hawks are now members of the president's cabinet, and continue to associate Sadaam Hussein with 9/11, despite the fact that the two are NOT associated.

I should stop reading the news and go back to studying antibiotic resistant bacteria. It's less scary.


10 March 2003

From the NY Times, and interesting article on the ANWR. Merely requiring S.U.V.'s to meet the same fuel economy standards as ordinary cars would save one million barrels a day, more than the refuge could produce at peak volume.

An editorial in the Times by Maureen Dowd, talking about Bush's rationale (or lack there of) for the way, got me thinking.

It's almost scary, the way that Osama bin Laden has played on our fears, and the fears of our president and his fellow Republicans. Osama bin Laden doesn't like Saddam much more than he likes us, and if we take out Sadaam, we will be accomplishing one of bin Laden's goals. I wonder whether that was part of his plan? Mr. Bush repeatedly refers to 9/11 and terrorism when referring to Sadaam, even though Sadaam Hussein had nothing to so with 9/11 and has nothing to do with al Qaeda (to say that they have differing objectives would be putting it mildly).

Did Osama bin Laden purposely mention Iraq in his last recorded propaganda, knowing that Americans would use it as yet another reason to take down Sadaam? Is he laughing at the foolish Americans who will accomplish his objective of upheaval and chaos in the middle east, which better gives him a wedge into the minds of the young and disaffected? Osama bin Laden knows that as much as Sadaam is despised, the attack of Iraq will further solidify popular opinion against the U.S. and draw more youth towards his militant ideals.

Is he laughing? I think the better question is whether he's hurt himself falling of his chair laughing. We can only hope so.


8 March 2003

Busy Saturday.

Took my midterm for Environmental Health. I feel pretty good about it, I knew the material well, and nothing seemed totally out of left field, so that was very good. Also good was the fact that the lecture following the exam didn't last an hour and a half. Now I just need to start on my term paper... (sigh)

It was absolutely beautiful today, so we took advantage of the chance to be outside and took down the Christmas lights, and cleaned up a bit outside--picked up trash, removed leaves and such from flower beds. The we came in and I planted the seeds that I hope will become flowers this summer. Most of last years flowers were an abject failure, so we'll see what happens. I planted:Chinese Lanterns, African Daisies, Four O'Clocks, Lobelia, Moss Rose, Statice, Morning Glories, and then Lavendar, Oregano and Parsley. Oddly enough, now that I look closely at the seed packet for Morning Glories, they say in small letters across the front "Seed contained herein is for planing purposes only." There's a warning for everything anymore.

Then, I read Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Finally. It only took a couple of hours, so I'm not sure why I waited so long to read it, but I finally did.


7 March 2003

"Plants make good sentinels because they can't run away" Scientists from Penn state are going to attempt to develop plants that can detect chemical or biological agents, and signal there presence in some manner. The hope is to grow plants that will fluoresce in the presence of those agents. One use would be to aid in land mine removal, for plants could be developed to detect the presence of TNT in an area, thus creating a signal for those who would remove the landmine(s).


6 March 2003

Judith Miller spoke tonight for WVU's Festival of Ideas (finally!). I was quite pleased, since I had been looking forward to this since last year, when she had to cancel. (I also got my copy of Germs signed.) The topics she discussed were the war against terrorism, the war against Sadaam Hussein, biological weapons, and the middle east.

She said that the war against terrorism and the impending war against Sadaam Hussine are two very different wars.
First, the war against terrorism was thrust upon us by 9/11, and it is a war that the US has been winning. 1/3 of the top al Qaeda operatives are dead or captured, and there are 600 people in captivity from the war on terror. We were also able to easily persuade other nations to join in the fight against terrorism, even if it was in their own self-interest, for terrorism knows no borders.

The war against Sadaam Hussein, however, is quite different. There will be a great deal of collateral damage (she said she quite detests the term collateral damage, which dehumanizes the death, injury and destruction). Even if the war is quick, the aftermath will not be so. The rebuilding of Iraq will take years. The most significant difference thought is that this is also a war of choice.

She said there are reasons for going after Sadaam Hussein, and one of those reasons is biological weapons. Sadaam has admitted to having 8500 liters of liquid anthrax but has shown no proof that he has destroyed it. That is compared to the 2 ounces that were used the in anthrax attack in October of 2001. Sadaam also is known to have botulism (the organism responsible for one type food poisoning), ricin, aflatoxin (which is a carcinogen), and smallpox.

It is this fear of a biological, chemical or nuclear attack that is behind the administration's current thinking on Sadaam Hussein.

She says that biologicals will be the weapons of choice for the 21st century, for they are attractive to terrorists and rogue states for several reasons. First, they are cheap. You can build a first class bio-weapons facility for a million dollars, which is pocket change compared to building a nuclear weapon. She described how a handful of people in the US (hired by the pentagon, not random hoodlums) were able to build a first class bio-weapons facility (without the dangerous biologicals), using only open market materials ordered from catalogues and the internet, for $1.5 million dollars, and that facility and it's construction, went undetected the FBI. Second bioweapons are easily transportable. Third bioweapons are almost impossible to detect. Agents have been able to care fake anthrax and simulated botulism onto airplanes throughout the US. Fourth. expertise is readily available, from the unemployed bio-weaponeers from the former Soviet Union. 60,000 people worked on bioweapons facilities in the former Soviet Union, and they worked on bugs for which there is no antidotes and were no vaccines. Programs to reach out to these scientists is in our national interest. not only because it is a good thing to do, but because these scientists are being courted by rogue governments and terrorist organizations.

She also listed several reasons against the impending war against Sadaam Hussein.
First, Sadaam has never acted directly against us, but if we go to war against him, he certainly will do so (according to the CIA). Second, this war could interfere with our war on terror. We have had great success, especially recently, in the war on terror, but not only could we lose manpower, but we could also alienate our allies. Third, Sadaam is already contained. We already have weapons inspectors in Iraq. Fourth, do we have the staying power to rebuild Iraq?

The anthrax attacks were mentioned in a question from the audience. The FBI thinks that the person who perpetrated the attacks was an American who was attempting to connect the attacks to 9/11. She said that she found the anthrax investigation highly troubling, for the government has made no headway, but instead has named a "person of interest" which is an individual whose life has been ruined without even an indictment no less a conviction.

Another question mentioned the US taking action without the sanction of the UN, and she mentioned that the US has done so before, and it was to stop Serbs from slaughtering Muslims in Serbia, for then no one was willing to step up to defend the Muslims in Serbia till the US did so.

All in all, I was very pleased with the talk. She addressed many of the points in which I am interested, and I liked the way she attempted to address both sides of the argument (even if the arguments for war were more fleshed out. Something else that I noticed, was that she became quite animated when she talked about her travels, and she seemed to have a real affection for the areas she covered. Her face almost lit up when talking about the people of Iran, and I think that is important. I don't think that you can cover an area without feeling compassion and affection for the people who live there.

Oh, I did ask my own question, I asked her to comment or our current state of preparedness for a biological attack, considering that the government has mandated smallpox vaccination, but left state and local governments and public health facilities--which are already cash-strapped--to foot the bill. She said that she hoped that the government would pick up the tab smallpox vaccination and bio-preparedness, and she also mentioned that funding for public health is the way to safeguard people. She was quite enthusiastic about public health, which I, of course, found gratifying.


6 March 2003

It's World Book Day! But only if you're in the UK and Ireland. Here is schedule for the World Book Day Festival.

Here is the Project Guttenburg website.


Congress, which allows consumers to eat unlabelled Genetically Modified foods, is now attempting to undermine the organic food industry, by saying that producers can feed their animals food that is not organic, yet still label the milk, meat and meat organic. Which means that, in essence, those who would prefer not to have hormones, antibiotics and pesticides in our food supply, would not be able to do so by looking at the organic label. Thank you Dennis Hastert.

MRSA bacterium, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is spreading across the US, reports New Scientist. Those who are becoming infected are not just hospital patients, but are members of the community. Spread has been seen between anything from sexual partners, to children participating in contact sports. Deaths due to MRSA are not reported, so it is impossible to tell whether this bacteria has killed anyone, although health officials believe it is probable because they are associated necrotising pneumonia.


Erin probably mentioned this to me in passing by Endicott Studio has been been revamped. Check out the Endicott Studio Journal of Mythic Arts.


5 March 2003

The average body mass, circadian rhythm and temperature of various animals. Given in grams and centigrade.
Mus musculus (house mouse)
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia, Myomorpha
Body mass: 30 g
Body temperature: 36.9°C
Circadian period: 23.6 h

In case you thought Kim Jong-il was your average, everyday, dictator, this might persuade you otherwise. I'd heard about this in two different radio stories, but saw it in print in the BBC today. South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his wife, Choe Eun-hui were kidnapped from Hong Kong by Kim Jong-il's secret agents in 1978, to make films for him.


4 March 2003

Gina noticed that a certain news website posted an article that there was an Amber Alert but gave neither a picture of the missing child, nor the address of of website where the Amber alert messages can be found. That address is

You can get an Amber alert ticker for your website, that will display any current alerts:

Coming from a discussion I'm having with Andy, here is the website for Not Dead Yet.

But the question comes up over and over again -- do mice develop schizophrenia? What would a hallucinating mouse look like?

Organically grown foods higher in cancer-fighting chemicals than conventionally grown foods The research suggests that pesticides and herbicides actually thwart the production of phenolics — chemicals that act as a plant's natural defense and also happen to be good for our health. Fertilizers, however, seem to boost the levels of anti-cancer compounds.


3 March 2003

Tonight John Walsh spoke, for WVU's Festival of Ideas.

He is dedicated to his cause, that of catching criminals, and he is good at what he does. He also advocates paying police and teachers better. I could agree with him there as well. And he came to WVU because he believes in WVU's Forensic program. Another good thing.

Beyond that, however, I don't think I agreed with much else that he said. His argument for the death penalty was not persuasive, and he likes our current president and vice president. (ugh.) I didn't appreciate West Virginia being compared to former Soviet states, even if one of them was Lithuania.

He is, however, quite plain spoken, and I can see why he has such the following he does--and that was quite obvious from the attendance at the talk, which was tremendous. There were lines at the doors when we got there at 7. There are never lines at the doors for things like this. (I like to arrive early so I can a) get an aisle seat and b) get a free parking place.) So if nothing else he brought out people who would not normally come to a talk like this, so that's something.


overboard comic

RUDDY DUCK, a pushy American settler which has been blasted for being "over-sexed and over here", is passing on to the great duck pond in the sky.

Laughter clubs

Today is the day of the Lysistrata Project. (This link is just for Mark).


2 March 2003

Odd picture day

I bought this postcard a couple years ago, and it just makes me laugh whenever I look at it. The photographer's website is B&B Studios.

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