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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

April 16, 2004
A couple more things

There are a lot of uses for a device like this. The health-benefit one mentioned here is a great one.

NASA Device Could Be Used to Monitor Health

NASA engineers have developed a small monitoring device that can record a wearer's health information and transmit it to physicians in real time, Wired News reports. The Crew Physiological Observation Device can also alert the wearer of dangerous changes in vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure and temperature.

Users can attach the CPOD, which weighs 2.1 ounces, their waists and then plug lightweight medical sensors to the device, depending on what they want to record. Information is then wirelessly transmitted to a computer or handheld device, which physicians can monitor. The software can also be programmed to respond to certain data changes and alert a physician via e-mail.

Interesting.

But then there's this, which is a travesty of our prison systems' pretense to "rehabilitate" inmates.

And what the heck is it with "reorganizing" a class so successful that one of the participants won a national prize for their work, hmmm?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)
The saga continues

If this is true, it's an example of exactly the kind of foreign policy we need to stop pursuing.

Attention Must Be Paid to the erosion of upward mobility.

Charles Pierce, today's Alternate Altercator talks about the big press conference the other day. He disses the "I wish I had that question in advance" moment, which I think people are treating much too seriously. (Who among us hasn't floundered, brain horrifyingly blank, at a critical moment?) He also mentions the "I have some must-calls" moment which I think people are failing to understand. It wasn't a "press conference" it was a tightly scripted television appearance designed to bolster the man's presidential campaign.

Unlike others, I didn't think this was Bush's worst appearance in front of us…not by a long shot, but I also didn't think it was designed to do anything but give us the impression that Bush and only Bush is able to push through to some nebulous 'victory' in Iraq.

I'm not much worried about him being someone who 'means what he says' though. He doesn't say much beyond clichés and platitudes.

Donald Trump, blowhard.

Okay, I'm done. I was gonna do a blogaround and maybe respond to some of the thoughts posted during the New Liberal Vision project which is still spawning thoughts by new contributors, but everyone is being too profound and intelligent for me to excerpt them, either on or off of that topic.

I'll have to print all of the posts and all of the comments and take them to the mountains with me this weekend so I can give them the attention they deserve.

And write out comments that I'll curse myself for having to transcribe when I get back to town, but I'll face that problem on Sunday.

Don't stop talking before I get back, okay?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)
National Stress Awareness Day

I refuse to be aware of my stress. If you become aware of it, it feels loved and needed and then there it is, sleeping on your couch and eating all the chips, for the next six months.

Nope. I'm not encouraging that kind of thing.

No, instead I'm pretending it's tomorrow and I'm celebrating National Cheeseball Day.

Recent cheeseballs:

People who encourage killing their political opponents.

That guy in the White House, as a young man.

And, on the same person, ducking responsibility.

The infamous "Committee on Resources" site is now explaining that the Endangered Species Act is a complete, 100% failure. What endangered species' need isn't habitat, it's bioengineering or something.

If you were three dozen Russian security experts and you expected to meet with USofA government representatives for a critical talk about decommissioning chemical warheads and such weighty topics, would you feel dissed if you were met by two and only two USofA Congressional aides - each about 25 years old? I'd feel dissed. Or, not. With the combined funding, it doesn't appear this was an "official" trip. It's hard to say.

People who lie about WMD.

Oxy Corp. (The U'wa seem to be heros.)

Administrations that hire Iran-Contra schemers.

The USofA media? Acting like cheeseballs.

Administrations that fail to safeguard the people they've put at risk.

Endangering people's health for meaningless "points" qualifies you.

Gluttony for prizes in a world where children starve to death every day. Cheeseball behavior.

Corporations that pay 'protection' money.

Paranoia about wingnut conspiracies is cheesball, but sometimes you have to wonder.

And, hey, lookit this! There really is a vast, right-wing conspiracy and they have tee-shirts.

I think that's fabulous. Warning: I'm a bit annoyed that all I did was visit the site and then today I wound up on their mailing list. I'd rather not be spammed, thankyouverymuch. (Later note: No, no, they're not spamming me. I forgot I'd signed up for the "Right-Wing Conspiracy Newsletter." They promised it would be funny. I'll keep you posted.)

Bored now.

The 9/11 Commission is under fierce attack by at least one publication.

And it looks like we're about done with Afghanistan. No, the job isn't done. We didn't find bin Laden, we haven't destroyed the Taliban, and the country is neither safe nor secure. Freedom and democracy? Don't make me laugh. Still. I do understand that that the numbers of soldiers on the ground might change from time to time. I'm just…well, I continue to be bitterly disappointed that we've done such an inadequate job in that country.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)
April 15, 2004
What should we oughta do?

Feed the children.

Protect the vulnerable.

Pay our bills on time.

Read the Constitution.

Safeguard the future.

Learn to be funny?

Also, we should oughta not ask our employees to take our taxes to the post office for us on April 15. Even if they are the company's taxes. (I think I'll take a book with me.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:15 AM | Comments (4)
What's that all about?

I've never heard anyone talk about "neoliberalism" before, nor had I given any thought to Iraq's impending democracy from this perspective .

Guantanamo spy scandals aren't over yet. Should I buy a six-day subscription to read about the story or wait for it to hit free news sites? I found this story and this story and this disturbing story about the family. This column asking why he's speaking out now.

I wonder if the one locked behind a subscription request has anything new? (I also wonder about the 6-day subscription. Why not a whole week?)

While I'm wondering, maybe I wonder why no UsofA outlet seems to have been carrying this complex and unsettling story?

Remember when the Bush Administration seemed to be right on the verge of adding North Korea to the states we're at war with?

Iraq Kidnappers Kill Italian Hostage

Interesting little blurb but an interesting set o'links. I really enjoyed reading this one.

And I'd read this book just for the historical interest.

Alyona is no Barbie-doll.

Your local sports team not doing so well? Liven things up with rent-a-crowd!

Posted by AnneZook at 08:29 AM | Comments (2)
April 14, 2004
The New Liberal Vision

I'm a bit uncomfortable with that title. I'm neither a visionary nor a person who thinks of new ideas. I'm more of a, "stand on the sidelines and whine when you don't do it right" kind of person.

Still. There it is.

First, let me say something very clearly. The Left hasn't "lost" the country or the voters. Time and again, polls say that traditional "liberal" positions are supported by well over half, sometimes over three-fourths, of the voting population of this country.

If you want further proof, take a look at how hard the current Administration struggles to make it at least appear that they care, and care deeply, about the quality of education in this country, about the environment, about women's rights, about minority rights, and about controlling corporate fraud. If they didn't know these things are dear to the hearts of the majority of voters, would the Bush Administration be working to hard to make funding cutbacks for things like the EPA look like increases?

The country is liberal, in a very real way. Regardless of the regressionist screams of a handful of wingnuts, this is a liberal country when you think in terms of "traditional liberal values." It's liberal in that the liberal policies and issues of thirty or forty years ago have become the mainstream concerns of most people.

Maybe that's what happened to the Left? When they were no longer on the outside, fighting to get their issues recognized and addressed, they didn't have much else to say.

You gotta move with the times, don’t you? Conservatives did. They co-opted those liberal issues that the vast center, along with the Left and a good chunk of the Right, cared about, and we just let them do it. Now those issues are in the public domain. Everyone claims to care about them and to believe in them.

We have choices.

1) Fight about it. Try to prove we really do good things for the environment and the poor and for children and those other guys don't. There's potential in this approach although it requires a lot of negativity, a lot of "did too-did not" rhetoric, and some fairly complex (and dry) statistics and scientific opinion.

I'm over the whole "go negative" thing, though. I mean, if the other side robs a bank or beats up an old person, I think it's okay, even mandatory, to make sure the public knows about it, but there needs to be more to what we are.

2) Refine the old issues. Why be so vague? Why try to "improve education" and "protect the environment" and "guard social security"?

Why not set real standards for all schools? Cut the current drop-out rate by 50%. Equip all schools with computer labs (if not classroom computers) by 2008.

Cut (proven) harmful corporate air pollution by 25% by 2008. Cut water pollution by 50%. Increase recycling of recyclable materials by 50%.

Find real targets. Aim for solid, significant numbers. You can't reach a goal you haven't set.

Let the Republicans match that, if they can. (Of course, if they do, that's great. We care more about the issues than the labels on them, right?)

Let's make the fight less about who can promise more and more about who delivers more.

Minorities do not yet have full equality in this country. Nor do women. There's debate out there today about whether or not the current methods for 'legislating equality' are working or not. Let's be honest enough to take a look at them. If they're not working, let's come up with a new plan.

How about gays and lesbians? There's a move afoot, as we all know, to legislate inequality against them, to actually make a constitutional amendment that mandates 'separate but (sort of) equal.'

I'm not done yet. There's another choice.

3) Define new issues.

How about the militarization of space? Do you want a sky full of bombs or not?

As far as that goes, let's take a good, hard look at all the many kinds of weapons-based military research this country supports. Which technologies potentially offer important civilian benefits and what technologies are purely about killing someone?

How about free trade versus tariffs (protectionism)? Which, in the long run, is really (and I mean really, so go do some research) better for the country?

What's our long-term foreign policy going to be? Are we done supporting tyrants when it's expedient for us? Have we yet learned that someone has to pay for that expediency in the long run, and almost always with blood? What should our role be in helping combat disease, poverty, and human rights around the world? Some vague, against, against, for agenda isn't good enough. Specifically, what do we want our role to be?

And how much should we do unilaterally and how much only in conjunction with significant allies? (Bush isn't all wrong, you know.) The U.N. has been ineffectual, largely because the veto power of the Permanent Security Council was used as a weapon in the UsofA vs. Evil Soviet Empire war and that war, (in a more general, Them versus Us fashion) hasn't entirely ended. We're partly responsible for the difficulty the U.N. has in acting like a world force for good. Is it time to reform the U.N.?

It all ties together, you see. Fear of the UsofA's plans to militarize space and fear of what weapons our obscenely large military research will turn up causes other major countries to do their own research (which we then have to stay on top of), to reach for space (so we can't send up boatloads of weapons willy-nilly), and to ally with each other in wary defiance of what they fear we might be planning. All of which leads them, and us, to make alliances of temporary convenience with repressive, totalitarian regimes as we use smaller countries around the world as pawns in the struggle.

How about old age? We, or at least I, grew up in a world where at age 65, people retired to their rocking chairs or to a little house in a warm climate and lived out the rest of their days pottering in the garden and watching their grandchildren grow. Today, at 65, you're no longer (necessarily) old. You might want to keep working, to retire and travel on your accumulated wealth (I wish), or go back to school, or start a second career in a new, less financially rewarding but more satisfying field. What is "old" any more? At what age should retirement benefits kick in? What's "young" retirement and what isn't?

What about the Boomer Bump? We've got a record number of "retirees" headed toward their social security benefits and a rocking chair or a classroom. What happens to the generation after them?

I'm talking long-term plans, here. What happens in this economy when this huge pool of labor moves itself into the "leisure" category? Well, if they've planned right, the leisure travel and amusement industry in this country will be in clover, but what about the next 30 years?

What I'm saying here is that we think we should be in power in this country, but we're not doing a very good job of showing people why.

I had more to say. For instance, how do you reconcile people claiming, in polls, to care deeply about the quality of education their children receive with ballot initiative after ballot initiative for raising school funding failing? How do you reconcile a stated concern for the environment with the multi-billion dollar industry selling "use once and throw away" convenience products?

Those and other issues were on my mind today, but I set myself a time limit of 30 minutes, so they'll have to wait.

Go here and read Jeff's two posts. Follow the links and read the posts of those smarter than me.

Everyone concerned about the future we should take in this country should join the debate over what it is we want. What do we believe in and what are we going to do about it?

Posted by AnneZook at 03:04 PM | Comments (5)
Produce or die

The Right really has co-opted the debate in this country, and moved it farther to the right than most of us would have wanted, hasn't it? Take this "productivity" thing. When in the heck did we become about single-minded, mechanized "productivity" to the exclusion of everything else?

I mean, that is just so WWII, isn't it? In a time when pretty much all of the country's resources were actually needed to help wage a war against a powerful alliance of enemies, productivity was king. That's understandable.

News flash. That war was over a long time ago.

Why, in a year when people are dismissing a 2-1/2 year-old memo as "history" and witless idiots others are scoffing at Vietnam as "ancient history," are we still living in a World War II-model economy?

Me, I say it's the wrong tactic to be what the Right considers an "anti-business liberal.

What happened to the dream that living could be about more than stacking up shekels and that contemporary civilization could be good for more than burning fossil fuels and building better landfills?

One major wrong-turning was defining corporations as "people."

I categorically refuse to accept that IBM and Monsanto have a constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, okay? That's just stupid and I'm sick of hearing people try to defend it. A corporation is not a sentient entity and consequently has no capacity for happiness. A corporation is a legal fiction, an artificial construct created for a single purpose…to generate wealth. It has no "life" and can have no "liberty" except within very narrow boundaries.

I'm not saying that corporations shouldn't be entitled to legal protections. They should be. They just shouldn't be legally on a par with human beings.

There's an important nugget somewhere up there.

Probably that bit about "more to living than making a living." I'll have to think about it and post more later.

Right now, I'm scraping together something that pretends to be a well thought-out essay that I thought deeply about and worked on for several days. Because I said I'd do it and I don't like not living up to my commitments. I'd like to post a good faith effort, if nothing else. After all, if you have 30 minutes to spare one day, you might as well spend the time changing the world as playing computer games, right?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:40 PM | Comments (6)
AWOL

No, me, not Bush.

Don't you hate it when someone disappears without explanation or warning?

Well, the explanation is a series of meetings over the last couple of days and evenings that are continuing into today. And the warning...well, I didn't get any warning, so you didn't.

Also, Morford lives! Mostly, anyhow.

After a savage tussle with Lawyers and Corporate Representatives, his column lives on. The fate of the Morning Fix is still in limbo.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:32 AM | Comments (2)
April 12, 2004
Go ahead. Label me.

I'd be a conservative, if the relevant party in this country wasn't conservative about the wrong things.

That's small 'c' conservative there above you know. The 'resistant to change' sort of conservative. I've always been very conservative.

When I was young, I was conservative.

I grew up in a world where people argued, passionately and convincingly, against war, for equal rights, against the mushrooming military-industrial complex, and in favor of living lives that were about more than having a 9-5 kind of job. It was a world where people explored the potential of non-traditional families, investigated non-traditional careers, and tried to redefine "success."

I'm all about going back to those good old days.

Yeah, there were the other guys, but when Tricky Dick exited stage right, we sort of figured they were a spent force.

And then we got Reagan and Bush I and Bush II.

In the middle, there was Clinton, fighting tooth and nail to keep the Republican machine from subpoenaing the paper clips in his desk and the dust on his carpet and anything else they could think of doing that might prevent the Clinton Administration from focusing on doing the job.

I've come to the conclusion that a large part of the Right's pitbull attack on Clinton was because they were desperate for headlines to bury the frauds and scandals of the Bush and Reagan Administrations. Not to mention Nixon.

They were desperate, I think, to try and convince the public that it wasn't just the Republicans, it was that all politicians were crooks. Browsing the land o'blog, I see that they've pretty firmly convinced the Right that Nixon, Reagan, and Bush weren't anything special when it came to political malfeasance and that inappropriate inquiries into Clinton's sex life were on a part with the Iran-Contra investigations.

Me, I think the Republican leadership should be billed for what they cost the country during the Clinton years. I mean, they're always nattering on about the importance of "productivity" aren't they? What about all of the productive hours they sucked out of the Clinton Administration?

(In case you were wondering, yes, sometimes I do post things like this just to be annoying.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:49 PM | Comments (5)
And So It Begins

Remember what I said about expecting some revision in that March "new jobs" figure? Well? What about those 308,000 jobs, anyhow? Scroll down to the bit beginning, "I've seen a lot of dishonesty in government, but this is ridiculous" (Via Suburban Guerrilla.)

Is this what's really happening in Fallujah? (Via TalkLeft.)

Tom Englehardt on hubris and the collapse of Iraq.

A CIA veteran decodes that all-important PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing) and decides George and Condi were napping on government time. Andrew disagrees. Sort of. But not entirely. Mostly he says we don’t have enough context to decide one way or the other. He brings up some very good points. And over at Elayne's site, they're debating the length. Was it 1-1/2 pages long or a whopping 11-1/2 pages?

You should read this. (Via Gary Farber.)

Appeasing tyrants is poor policy. Victor Davis Hanson writes about The Fruits of Appeasement.
(Via Atlantic Blog.)

Greg Easterbrook writes a pretend scenario, an "alternate history" of Bush taking action, pre 9/11. (Via VodkaPundit.) Very funny reading, but I'm sure that's unintentional.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:27 PM | Comments (2)
It Was Just A Little One

It's disingenuous, even dishonest, to dismiss the violence in Iraq as a small uprising as though a handful of malcontents were running around with posterboard slogans, throwing rocks.

To call it "small" is to trivialize it. Shelve the matter as unimportant.

There was a small uprising in Afghanistan on Sunday. (All of that freedom and democracy we brought to the country seems to have gone to the warlords' heads.) 3 reported deaths. Move on.

There was a sort of small uprising on the Gaza Strip. Israelis and Palestinians exchanging fire after some Palestinians 'infiltrated' the Gaza Strip. Ho hum.

There was a small uprising in Somalia. There was a fire, there were looters, there were traders trying to protect their goods. Six or more dead. Far away, foreign country. Small matter, who cares.

There was a small uprising at Baghdad University. Little is known about the situation. Just a handful of kids. Boring.

There was a small uprising in Uzbekistan. Some new Islamic terrorist group killed about 47 people. Can't even find the place on the map. Whatever.

There was a small uprising in India. Nothing serious. A stampede at a birthday party and about 21 people dead. They were promised free clothes. Irrelevant.

There was a small uprising in Vietnam over the weekend. Looks like religious persecution but it's difficult to be certain in a country where the media is controlled by the state. Still. Vietnam. So 20th century.

The deaths of an estimated 70 soldiers and 700 Iraqis? A small uprising, but thanks for the sacrifice and stuff.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:29 AM | Comments (2)
Miscellany

Seven more hostages were seized in Iraq.

Happily it appears that the threat of burning alive some or all of the original hostages was not carried out yesterday. There's been no news but I think in this case, if they'd carried out the threat, they'd have publicized it.

This is not an interesting article until you get to the spook-speak at the end.

Environmentalism is for everyone.

Excuse me. I need more healthful coffee to face this day.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)
It's Not All Blogging

It's nice that Arianna Huffington loves the world o'blog, but let's not any of us forget that if it wasn't for the actual journalists out there unearthing nuggets of information for bloggers to into more extended stories, blogs would still be personal diaries documenting what we eat for breakfast and the weather. (Coffee. Cold.)

For instance, read Molly Ivins on Texas political corruption. It's still Tom DeLay and he's still accused of some fairly serious misdeeds, but you wouldn't know it from the media headlines. No, you have to read Texas newspapers or Texas columnists (like Molly) to know what's happening.

Somewhere out there, there's a blogger scanning all the columns and the news headlines and maybe even the televised news and posting it on-line.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:57 AM | Comments (2)
The Twelve Days

It's nice to know that Ottawa, Canada has banned killing baby seals.

Yep, now the seals have to be more than 12 days old before you can slaughter them.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)