August 31, 2005

From a Doctor Currently in New Orleans

This is a fascinating account. One part stands out especially. At the hotel he's currently staying in, there are a number of doctors from an HIV conference in town (apparently the Ritz Carleton is the "hotel of last resort" after others sustained damage in the storm):

We have commandered the world famous French Quarter Bar to turn into an makeshift clinic. There is a team of about 7 doctors and PA and pharmacists. We anticipate that this will be the major medical facility in the central business district and French Quarter.

Our biggest adventure today was raiding the Walgreens on Canal under police

escort. The pharmacy was dark and fool of water. We basically scooped the entire drug sets into gargace bags and removed them. All uner police

excort. The looters had to be held back at gun point. After a dose of

prophylactic Cipro I hope to be fine.

Sounds like some distant part of the world, doesn't it?

[9/30/05 update: I've closed comments on this post. There is an orchestrated smear campaign being conducted against the doctor who authored the quoted letter. I don't know whether he deserves it or not, but I do know that the people conducting it won't identify themselves and won't go away. Having grown tired of weighing the moral ambiguities of editing comments for libel, I've opted to nuke the comment section on this post. My apologies to readers and commenters alike. I believe that private citizens don't deserve to be attacked on the internet anonymously.]

Posted by shamanic at 9:36 PM

Photoblogging Atlanta's Gas Panic

I'm calling it a gas panic right now because at the moment there are no shortages, so this could all blow over without too much hassle for those of us outside of the immediate areas of total devastation. I include that to keep things in perspective.

The first two pictures are from a BP station at Dekalb Industrial Way and N. Decatur Road in Decatur GA, where I live. Small, manageable lines, but keep in mind that today is the first day of "looming crisis", which will soon become "impending crisis" and which might then shift to become an "escalating crisis". At least according to CNN's genius headline writers, who never met a caps lock key they didn't love to press.



Here's an example of the types of price hikes we've seen just today. I put gas in my car three days ago for $2.67, and even today I filled up my tank during lunch in Midtown, where prices are always inflated, for $2.89. By the time I left work, things had changed.


Line and price board, from a place where you could still fill up for $2.89, but I doubt that was the price for the lowest grade when I passed it on my morning commute:


My girlfriend text messaged me from Little 5 Points to say that gas was $3.89 there. Speculation does things to markets, and at the moment that's all this is. Little lines and large increases in price.

Honestly, I don't see how the pipelines can be fixed before the area's reserves runs out, in about 8 days. That's when everything will grind to a halt because the suburbs may as well be 1,000 miles away if you don't have a car. It's not like mass transit runs to Lawrenceville. Interesting times these are.

Posted by shamanic at 8:21 PM

Atlanta Gas Lines

Well, the girlfriend has a meeting this evening with some co-conspirators in the local arts scene, so I'm going to go take some pictures of the gas lines that are beginning to form around gas stations that haven't yet punctured the $3.00 a gallon ceiling all the way. Pictures in a few hours for those who are photographically inclined.

Posted by shamanic at 6:46 PM

NOLA Info, from comments

Thanks to Nolapoet, who has created these information clearinghouse sites for post-Katrina New Orleans:

General info:

Poet check-in:

Please spread these around for those who need the information.

Posted by shamanic at 9:32 AM

August 30, 2005


Just unbelievable:

Nagin said both the city's airports were under water, the Southern Yacht Club had burned to the ground, an oil tanker had run aground and was leaking, there were gas leaks throughout the city and Interstate 10's twin spans heading east over the lake were "completely destroyed."
Now they're evacuating the rescue shelters as Lake Pontchartrain slowly merges with metro New Orleans.

If you read this in a Dave Barry novel, it would be hysterical. When you read it on the news, it's incomprehensible.

Posted by shamanic at 4:49 PM

Must-Read Article

The Washington Post has a terrific piece today on the newly reinvigorated Sadrist movement in Iraq.

This, it seems, is what federalism in Iraq will mean. Notice the designation of "the police, controlled by...":

The three-story brick office served as the headquarters for Sadr's father in the 1990s, and today his followers treat it almost as a shrine. It was closed last year, but authorities in Najaf allowed it to reopen this month. That angered some residents who still blame Sadr and his men for the destruction wrought by last year's battles. About 200 of them gathered Wednesday night. Their numbers grew as the protest headed toward the office. Fistfights soon broke out; some people threw stones.

Unexpectedly, the police force, controlled by a rival Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, withdrew. Armed guards from the nearby office of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani then fired on Sadr's men, witnesses said. Troops arrived, mainly from the Interior Ministry, which is controlled by the Supreme Council. In the melee, four of Sadr's followers were killed.

Amid the chaos, some protesters entered Sadr's office and set furniture and carpets on fire. The arson enraged Sadr's men. After 10 p.m., they were working the phones, calling followers in Najaf and offices in Baghdad and southern provinces.

Muqtada al-Sadr opposes the newly drafted constitution because he believes that federalism under occupation is a bad idea. He has fashioned a nationalist, anti-occupation politics and his organization includes social services and advocacy for Iraq's many poor. More importantly, many Sunnis are loosely aligned with the Sadrist movement, and this alliance bodes very badly for the constitution in the upcoming referendum.

Factionalism and intra-sectarian violence in the Shia south. Is this the future of Iraq?

Posted by shamanic at 11:07 AM

August 29, 2005

Falwell, Farrakhan Make Small Gay-Friendly Gestures

Coming as yet another benchmark in the advances that gays and lesbians have made in fostering understanding in the wider culture, two prominent conservative religious figures have separately taken interesting, if small, steps towards acceptance of gays.

Rev. Jerry Falwell, he of multi-decade homophobic bigotry, apparently came out in favor of basic civil rights for gays:

Falwell ... told [Tucker] Carlson that if he were a lawyer, he too would argue for civil rights for gays.

“I may not agree with the lifestyle,” Falwell said. “But that has nothing to do with the civil rights of that… part of our constituency.

When Carlson countered that conservatives, “are always arguing against ‘special rights’ for gays,” Falwell said that equal access to housing and employment are basic rights, not special rights.

“Civil rights for all Americans, black, white, red, yellow, the rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, et cetera, is not a liberal or conservative value,” Falwell went on to say. “It’s an American value that I would think that we pretty much all agree on.”

In fairness, this conversation took place over the issue of Smiling White Guy's having worked on a 1996 gay rights case. While it sounds quite small to liberal ears, in truth this verbiage represents quite a shift towards recognizing the fundamental humanity of gay and lesbian people. Falwell, who frequently earns scorn from most Americans, deserves praise for this very sensible understanding of civil rights, even if it was self-serving and politically calculated.

Perhaps more surprisingly, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is reaching out to black gay and lesbian groups to be part of his upcoming Millions More Movement rally in DC. The linked article provides an overview of the political wrangling that brought this about, but I'm still a little unclear about what would make the famously forthright Farrakhan bend to acknowledge people he doesn't believe deserve it.

It's an interesting moment when two radically different but seriously traditionalist religious and social leaders make gestures toward gay and lesbian Americans. And a positive one, too.

Posted by shamanic at 1:34 PM

August 28, 2005

Hip Hop = Gun Shot

Does it never embarrass hip hop artists that some among them are such sad stereotypes of worthless living?

Posted by shamanic at 3:47 PM

August 26, 2005

US-Canada Dispute "Softwood"

I don't live in a timber region, and maybe you don't either. Read this and tell me if it makes you chuckle, too.

Posted by shamanic at 4:25 PM

August 24, 2005

Pat Robertson Should Choose to Shut Up

Interesting discussions at dinner tonight. I've been jam packed busy, but it seems that in my circle of friends and around the web, a lot of liberals want some action taken against Pat Robertson for his idiotic and amoral suggestion that the United States should assassinate Venezuela's elected president.

Two words, my heated liberal friends (and I think that Robertson is completely crazy and I can't fathom why anyone tunes in to his show, but hey, that's me): First Amendment.

We're the posse that stands for the right to speak freely, even when that speech is distasteful. We're the gunslingers who don't agree with what you say but will defend to the last your right to say it. Even if you're batshit crazy like Pat Robertson.

If the left lets that go, no one will be left to defend free speech, and free speech will be no more.

Posted by shamanic at 10:58 PM

August 23, 2005

Bird Flu

The Washington Post has a good, in depth article on the scientist who first discovered the link between avian flu and human flu pandemics. It also includes some terrifying statistics about the H5N1 avian flu that is causing such concern among public health organizations the world over. Among them that it is thus far 55% fatal in humans. There have been just over 100 human cases, most in south Asia.

There's a line of thinking that says that a successful virus isn't highly lethal. Notice the relatively short lived, and hugely deadly, ebola outbreaks of recent years, and compare that to HIV, which can take years to kill, or even be noticed, and can be spread widely in that time.

It's not an apples to apples comparison, as HIV is a retrovirus and I'm sure that distinction is important, but even comparing ebola to flu provides some insight. Flu is a deadly virus even in non-pandemic years, killing some 37,000 Americans in an average year. But it doesn't kill the vast majority of carriers, and because of that it spreads globally, rather than killing all the hosts who might spread it, year after year.

Spanish Flu in 1918-1919 killed 55 million people globally, and wasn't anywhere near 55% fatal. Let's hope that one sacrifice the H5N1 virus makes when it becomes easily transmissable to humans is its terrifying fatality rate.

Posted by shamanic at 10:13 AM

August 22, 2005

The Iraq Constitution Farce: Everybody's Playing an Angle

It appears that a draft of the new Iraqi constitution has been presented to Parliament, which will now have three days to debate the document.

According to the Washington Post, the charter would fundamentally reshape Iraq, and that's probably true, but only if it's adopted. Here's why it doesn't really matter whether it is or it isn't.

The three sides, Sunni (20% of the population), Shiite, and Kurd are playing a game of "run the clock out".

One of the chief issues in the constitution debate is federalism. In the US, that means the rights of states to legislate within their borders. In Iraq it means that too, but realistically it has to do with oil revenue. Iraq's oil is in the north of the country (Iraqi Kurdistan) and the south of the country (Iraqi Iran), but not in the Sunni middle.

Under the proposed constitution, the Sunnis who have ruled Iraq for generations would become paupers in their own land. Maybe this is fitting, but since the Sunnis are responsible for the majority of insurgent activity, it won't result in a peaceful transition.

For my money, that's pretty much the point. The Shiites and Kurds would, for the time being, settle for a loose confederation of regions under the name 'Iraq', but their goals (especially Iraqi Kurdistan) are independence. They all just need for us to go home so the Sunnis can blow everyone up, the Shiites and Kurds can cash their oil checks, and everyone can start shooting at each other.

The broad south of the country might just as well join Iran, but it really doesn't matter. This draft sets the stage for permanent insurgency, and either the country will break apart or the Sunnis will be subjected to a genocidal cleansing by their future Shiite and Kurd overlords.

And if you were thinking that Iran would be a nice influence in the growth of a tolerant democratic state with a strong appreciation for human rights, mull this photo of Iranian security forces hanging two teenagers for homosexual conduct. This is what we're birthing in Iraq.

Posted by shamanic at 4:30 PM

Guardian Article Points to the Future of Iraq

Read this if you want to know what the future of Iraq looks like.

Posted by shamanic at 11:08 AM

We're Better Off Without Saddam

The Iraqi constitution hasn't been completed yet, but indicators are that we're witnessing the birth of Iran-lite. 'Lite' if we're lucky.

Does anyone care to examine the oft repeated statement "We're better off without Saddam Hussein" if the other option is a Shiite theocracy with close ties to Iran?

I would posit that having a secular strongman keeping a tight lid on Iraqi society is better for the national security of the United States than having an Islamist-run Shiite theocracy.

Posted by shamanic at 10:35 AM

August 21, 2005

Operation Enduring Theocracy

Are you telling me that George Bush sent nearly 2,000 US soldiers and Marines to their deaths to create the world's newest Islamic theocracy?

Posted by shamanic at 8:10 PM

August 19, 2005

Help Out a Poet

For those who love independent voices and independent artists, please consider helping out a poet who ran into some trouble on the way home from Nationals. Big Poppa E needs your love, and he's got cool stuff to give in exchange for your PayPal tip. Every dollar counts.

Posted by shamanic at 11:19 PM

British Doctors Warned on Bird Flu

Estimates range as high as 50,000 fatalities in England from a flu outbreak, so general practitioners are being sent information packets.

Bird flu is expanding rapidly, having crossed the Urals in Russia and is heading towards Europe.

Avian Flu hasn't made the decisive mutation that allows it to infect humans, but researchers across the world believe this is a matter of when, not if.

The Nation, in a subscriber-only article, outlined the ways in which the United States has failed to prepare for the likely scenario of a bird flu pandemic.

...reporters were undoubtedly surprised that [HHS Sec. Tommy] Thompson [at a retirement press conference] was so alarmed about a peril that his department, with its $543 billion annual budget--a quarter of the federal total--had done so little to address. In the 2005 fiscal year, for example, Thompson had allocated more funds to "abstinence education" than to the development of an avian influenza vaccine that might save millions of lives. This is but one example of the way that all Americans, but especially children, the elderly and the uninsured, have been placed in harm's way by the Bush regime's bizarre skewing of public-health priorities. On Thompson's watch, HHS and the Pentagon spent more than $12 billion to safeguard national security against largely hypothetical threats like smallpox and anthrax, even as they pursued a penny-pinching strategy to deal with the most dangerous and likely "bioterrorist": avian influenza. The Administration's lackadaisical response to the pandemic threat (despite Secretary Thompson's personal anxiety) is only the tip of the iceberg. Over the past generation, writes Lancet editor Richard Horton, "the U.S. public-health system has been slowly and quietly falling apart."
Frequent handwashing is your #1 preventative against airborn contagion. I know it sounds useless, but believe me, when this happens, we are thoroughly unprepared. Roughly 80 million Americans are without health insurance at any given time, which means that a hospital is not the first place they will go and drugs like Tamiflu (or even flu shots, whose effectiveness against the H5N1 strain isn't entirely known) are out of reach.

The scale of death in the United States would be like nothing that has been experienced in two generations, and that it would happen domestically (rather than through war abroad) lands us squarely back at 1918.

Not to sound alarmist, but I don't think we have a public health system in the United States anymore. The market doesn't do that, and government has abdicated its role. This is a really big problem with potentially fatal consequences for millions.

Posted by shamanic at 4:41 PM

Wow, Cool Invention

A portable water filter good for one person for one year and retailing for $2.00?

The LifeStraw has the potential to save millions of lives annually. Get the inventors a Nobel; this could be on par with discovering penicillin.

Posted by shamanic at 12:48 PM

August 10, 2005

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Off to vacation. Laptop in hand. Could blog some, but also might not. Lovely to have choices.

I'll be attending the 2005 National Poetry Slam. It's a very cool event, and worth reading more about.

Please indulge in my links to the right. Read Shakespeare's Sister every day. It's like medicine for the thinking person's soul, without that medicine taste.

Posted by shamanic at 10:17 AM

August 7, 2005

Long-Term Increase in US Deaths in Iraq

August has been a bloody month thus far in Iraq, but in truth it only points to a larger trend of Iraq becoming increasingly fatal for American soldiers and Marines.

It took about 18 months for American fatalities to reach 1,000. That mark was passed in September 2004, if memory serves, and that time period includes the invasion of Iraq itself. One would think that the actual conquering of a country would be the bloodiest phase, but not with Iraq.

Now, in August 2005, America has lost more than 1,830 servicemen and women in Iraq. At current rates (assuming that the first week of August was an abberation and not an indication of things to come), the second thousand US dead will happen at twelve to fourteen months.

As the military prepares to remove the bulk of US forces before next year's mid terms, I have to wonder what's in store for Iraqis. Defeating the insurgency is no longer a goal for the US government. Britain has announced that Coalition forces are likely feeding the insurgency, but it's hard to imagine that these guys will lay down arms for the "political process" which will largely disenfranchise the Sunni minority.

Why did I oppose the Iraq invasion? Is it because I like dictators? No, I hate dictators, but I believe there are worse things. Long term civil war with the potential to draw a region into deadly conflict is one of them.

I don't know how many times this has to be said, but it apparently can't be said enough. There's another nation that America went into to fight a proxy war against an enemy. When that nation ceased to be useful to us, we abandoned it, better armed than it had been and with leaders better trained in killing, and a decade of chaos and bloodshed ensued. But they didn't forget our role, and on September 11, 2001, nineteen men whose hatred of America had been sharpened to a fine point in Afghanistan paid us back for our efforts against the Soviets there.

Will it take Iraq, equipped and trained by Americans and with ample foreign money flowing in, a decade to grow the terrorist networks when we know the terrorists are there already? I doubt it.

If we never pass the three thousand deaths in Iraq mark because we pull out, but in five years Iraqi-trained terrorists kill thousands of Americans, is that a victory or a defeat?

Update: PoliBlog, on the right side of the debate, has a post today about the politics of troop withdrawal. Like me, the author seems hesitant about largescale cuts in troop strength, even writing, "Regardless of all this talk of withdrawing troops, the likelihood is that there will remain a large number of US troops on the ground for a very long time to come."

That might even be the plan, but as I stated in a comment there, I'm skeptical of Bush's staying power if early rounds of withdrawal result in increased violence. I don't think that Americans are willing to let their sons and daughters get shipped off to hold back at three sides in a civil war.

Posted by shamanic at 9:33 AM

The Liberal Heritage Foundation?

Wealthy liberals are stepping up to fund a new financial clearinghouse that will be the nexus of left-wing think tanks and advocacy groups. Democracy Alliance will develop a lineup of established and proposed groups that it believes will further liberal ideas and goals. Backers are then required to give at least $200,000 a year for five years to Alliance-sponsored groups. From the article:

As alliance officials see it, many liberal groups are designed to protect an agenda that was enacted by past Democratic majorities -- as opposed to generating new ideas and communication strategies to win support from voters who do not belong to labor or other traditionally Democratic constituencies.
This is a very important development in moving the Democratic Party into the 21st century.

I won't ever discount the Democratic Party's importance in the defining issues of the mid to late 20th century: civil rights for minorities and a woman's ownership of her own body are two markers of a free society that can never be taken for granted.

That said, we have reached a point where those two issues are less at the forefront. Abortion is continually under attack, and minorities and the poor are still too often painted as "welfare mammas spitting out babies", but the growth in income and social mobility among women and minorities is incontrovertible and unlikely to move backwards.

The Democratic Party has begun to look as paternalistic on these issues as segregationists who insisted that there was a "special relationship" between blacks and whites in the south (and who were almost entirely Democrats, if you need an example of the way that politics can shift) used to.

The rights of minorities and women must be part of any package of ideals for governance, but America has come a long way in the last two generations. People--black, white, male, female, gay, straight, rich, poor, and all the other types you can present as false opposites--are seeking opportunity, good education for their children, income growth, advancement in the workplace, personal growth, stability for their families, and neighborhoods where crime can't flourish.

Poverty continues to be an issue in America, but has thankfully been relegated to an issue affecting a minority of the population. Income disparity may be the next big social ill addressed, especially with Bush's tax cuts geared towards redistributing wealth upwards.

But the biggest issue for Democrats as they wander in the wilderness of minority party status is learning how to shift the dialogue. It took Republicans decades to shift the dialogue to one where they could advance the notion that things were better in 1890 than they are now, but they had nothing better to do than fantasize about a past that was thoroughly discredited by the decades that followed.

Democrats emphatically don't believe that. Liberals are well schooled in the dark side of American history, and don't seek to move us backwards. The issues are explaining what it means to move forward, learning how to call a relatively nomadic society to service and commitment to community, and creating a new vision of America where affluence and mobility are infused with notions of service and patriotism.

Right now we only have lip service to those ideals. Patriotism isn't jingoism, and service doesn't just mean the military and isn't something that some other person's kid should provide. As I myself struggle with defining these issues and understanding what a new progressivism would look like in an era where progressive reforms have for the most part paid off and been incorporated into the American political DNA (notice Bush's smashing defeat on Social Security privatization), I look forward to the growth of liberal advocacy groups that are publishing pragmatic works and not just academic treatises.

Posted by shamanic at 8:42 AM

August 5, 2005

How Bush Can Save the Iraq Project: Threaten American Mens' Masculinity

A Cornell study suggests that if you threaten a man's masculinity, he'll "display more homophobic attitudes, support the Iraq War more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle."

Willer administered a gender identity survey to a sample of male and female Cornell undergraduates in the fall of 2004. Participants were randomly assigned to receive feedback that their responses indicated either a masculine or a feminine identity. While women's responses were unchanged regardless of the feedback they received, men's reactions "were strongly affected by this feedback," Willer said.

"Masculinity-threatened men also reported feeling more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than did masculinity-confirmed men," states Willer's report, "Overdoing Gender: Testing the Masculine Overcompensation Thesis."

I think that explains a lot, don't you?

Posted by shamanic at 1:19 PM

August 4, 2005

Nice Post on Faith, and the Lack of Faith of Fundamentalists

Readers know that I am a person of faith who is strongly anti-fundamentalist. It goes for all religions and most philosophies. It's really important to believe things, and to believe them strongly, but when your beliefs come up against my freedom, that's when you start to have a very serious problem.

Anyway, over at the Big Brass Blog, STP has a really cool piece on fundamentalism being, in truth, evidence of the lack of faith. I agree with this viewpoint.

To step into cliches for a second, faith is a deeply personal sentiment. That being said, I can tell you that as a queer person of faith, it both very important to me and very difficult to cultivate a community of faith. I've written about this before; the prevalence of atheism in the queer community is perfectly understandable to me but also hugely disappointing. Yes, you're alienated. I get it. I don't belong to a church either, but I'm not without soul or spirit, and neither is my community.

So my faith experience is one of equal amounts revelation and frustration. I'm part of a marginalized community that rightly blames religion for a good amount of its marginalization, and too often people confuse religion for faith.

Religion does a lot of good in the world and in individual lives. I'm not discounting that, but religion is fundamentally a control mechanism. Faith is a personal experience and understanding of the divine, however you see that. Faith may propel one to join a religion and seek fellowship with others who have a similar notion of the divine, but that religion is not faith. It's a community, it's a building, it's an institution, it's a corporation, but it isn't faith.

And for some reason, religion has a tendency to produce absolutist notions that will drive people to oppress and kill those who either don't believe what they believe or who stray in some way from the path that has been laid out by the religion.

Anyway, check out STP's piece on fundamentalism and the lack of faith. It's good stuff that certainly seems to have gotten me thinking.

Posted by shamanic at 7:48 PM

Bush Administration Classified Info Mishandling, Part I

Oh right, in that other instance of Bush Administration mishandling of classified information, more charges will be filed against a former Pentagon employee and leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Posted by shamanic at 2:52 PM

53% Favor Legal Protections for Gay Relationship

According to a Pew Research poll (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Public support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally has rebounded a bit after declining between 2003 and 2004. Today, 36% of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry, up from 32% in December 2004. The percentage favoring gay civil unions has risen as well. Currently, 53% favor allowing gays and lesbians to enter into legal arrangements providing them with many of the same rights as married couples; that compares with 48% last August.
The study also notes an increase in support for civil unions among white evangelical Protestants.

If you're straight and want to be part of this windfall of potential new freedom, the Parents and Friends of Ex-Straights can help.

Hat tip to Shakes.

Posted by shamanic at 2:42 PM

August 3, 2005

New Laptop Arrived

So I can dog blog. Oh yeah.

first pix 003.jpg

Moloch (front) and Shaman. Yes, I'm that narcissistic. I named my first dog after my longstanding online persona. And I named my second one after an ancient god who demanded the sacrifice of children. Because I was working in group homes at the time. Funny, eh?

It's okay. The kids didn't get it.

Posted by shamanic at 10:21 PM

August 2, 2005

Hackett Race Results Coming In

Swing State Project has insider results, and Cincinnati's WCPO has public results.

At 9:15pm EST, with nearly half the results in, Hackett is winning with 51%. Don't know if it'll hold, but this is really exciting.

Final results: Hackett lost by about 4,000 votes (48% to 52%) in a district that has gone GOP by 50 points or more in each of the last four elections. It's always sad to lose, but this is excellent news for 2006.

Posted by shamanic at 9:14 PM

Iran Ten Years from Nukes

This story is interesting in all sorts of geopolitical ways, but on a very personal level, I have to give full credit to commenter (and friend) Kirkrrt, who has been saying this for the last year or so.

Frighteningly, Kirk is also a proponent of the Peak Oil scenario, which states that we have, or will shortly, be on a downward slide of Earth's oil supply, having exhausted more than half of the existing petroleum resources. It's one of those ideas that seems too prevalent at too high a level to be bogus, but I still hope it either isn't true or that some of the miracle technologies out there get cranking at a very fast pace.

Your high tech phrase for the day: Thermal depolymerization. Oil from garbage, people. Click the link and cross your fingers.

Posted by shamanic at 7:01 PM

And now we leave Iraq

Our new ambassador to Iraq had a news conference there today outlining the planned withdrawal of US troops. Australia's The Age gives it this headline: "Marines killed as US plans Iraq exit".

Nice, huh. Here's Ambassador Khalizad:

In his first Iraqi news conference, US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said US forces were paving the way for handing over specific areas to Iraqi forces.

He declined to say which Iraqi cities US soldiers would leave first but said he had formed a committee with Iraqi leaders to draw up a withdrawal plan.

"After this transfer occurs in more and more areas, there will be a smaller need for coalition forces, and elements of the multinational forces will leave Iraq," Mr Khalilzad said.

The urgency of the transfer was underlined in London yesterday when British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the presence of British and US troops in Iraq was fuelling the Sunni-led insurgency.

In an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, Mr Straw said it was crucial Iraq's draft constitution was ready by the August 15 deadline to pave the way for a troop withdrawal.

What was that Iraq thing all about, exactly?

Posted by shamanic at 3:10 PM

Bush Calls for Intelligent Design in Schools

The President of the United States told reporters yesterday that religion should be taught in science classrooms.

Let me be clear here: science has no stance on whether God created everything. Science studies the creation. The creator, if there is a sole creator, does not bend to the scientific method or reveal itself in particle accelerators (except in the poetic minds of researchers, which is entirely valid but not, strictly speaking, science).

We are a free society, and many scientists do believe that they are studying God's creation. No one is barred from looking at geology research as a window into God's work. No one is prohibited from viewing a cell as a fundamental building block designed by God.

But science studies the mechanics of geology and the cell and everything else. Bush wants science teachers to suggest a source for this for which there is no evidence, scientifically speaking. It doesn't belong in a science class, and Bush should be ashamed of himself for pushing it.

Posted by shamanic at 10:53 AM

August 1, 2005

Bolton Gets Recess Appointment

The world now knows with certainty that the President of the United States doesn't even have the confidence of the United States government. Lovely.

Posted by shamanic at 11:01 AM


"An odd point of view to say the least."

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