The Church in the Bush

USAToday –

Wars have cost $700B since 9/11

A new Congressional Research Service report says the U.S. government has spent about $700 billion on “military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks.”

Put that in your tank….

Plug this

World Energy Use by 2030

World marketed energy consumption is projected to increase by 50 percent from 2005 to 2030, according to a new report from the United States Energy Information Agency.

Total energy demand in non-OECD countries is projected to increase by 95 percent, while OECD countries are expected to increase consumption by 24 percent.

More…

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I wouldn’t know if either God or you will approve then it shouldn’t matter if I tell you my proud moment today is a dozen thumbs of hot dog I put along the dash and I whooped in some odd glory when my good dog waited ’til the last before he tongued each gift knowing this man is no cheat.

Hoof it

I remember a story:

Richelieu was a great warrior gentleman that brought several hundred young men to America to support the Revolution. He was a loud energetic man with a creed he spoke day upon day. I visited the barracks in Newport RI where he had met each night with his little Army – still a true threat to the English nearby. He would talk hours each night to his young charges, his regalia and his stallion always with him in the great barn. My guide, a Rhode Island judge, pointed earnestly to a yard-wide medallion next to the pedestal where Richelieu spoke each night. The General’s bold white stallion had hoofed a 4 inch deep circle into the old oak planks because night after night, waiting and waiting, the stallion’s impatience circled a bowl into the hard wood floor as if to commemorate that these are the arguments and speeches and agonies and fears that make nations the horse did say.

The Last Fourth of July

We’ll meet at their office:

On the Last Fourth of July, the subjects of the new King George thought long and hard. Would they grill hotdogs, turn up the air-conditioning, cheer for militarism, and wait for total tyranny. Or would they go to the local offices of their senators and say: “If you follow through on eliminating our Fourth Amendment, we will be through with you. We do not care what you threaten us with. We do not care what faction or party you belong to. You will restore our Fourth Amendment or you will be finished in public life.” Will they go to their representatives, also home for the holiday, and say “You must now put one piece of the Constitution back where it belongs, the fundamental piece, the keystone on which all else depends. You must impeach this president, join our cause, and enjoy our gratitude, or we will end your career as court jester and replace you with a representative of the will of the Free and Independent People that our ancestors gave their lives to create.”

Spiraling creation

developing planet, photo by Greaves, Richards, Rice & MuxlowThe small spot is the formation of a new planet as it ‘collects’ gas, dust and debris, says Popular Science.

To commemorate the Hubble telescope’s 18th year, NASA has compiled 59 pictures of Galaxies Gone Wild.

Gouging at the gate

Peddlers can be so tacky.

J-Walk noticed these TicketMaster fees:

…a $17 ticket has these additional fees:

  1. $0.75 Facility Fee per ticket
  2. $2.50 Print At Home Delivery Fee per order per ticket
  3. $3.00 Convenience charge per ticket
  4. $3.10 Processing/Handling fee per order per ticket
  5. $4.25 Convenience charge per ticket per ticket

Yes, per ticket per ticket.

BT Corn Kills Butterflies

An error page at Cornell University wizened, “Some kind of unknown error occured” [sic].

I trudged along. And what did I learn?

The newly popular bio-tech corn kills butterflies!

You betcha some kind of unknown error occurred.

bt corn pollen killing butterfliesAn increasingly popular commercial corn, genetically engineered to produce a bacterial toxin to protect against corn pests, has an unwanted side effect: Its pollen kills monarch butterfly larvae in laboratory tests, according to a report by Cornell researchers.

Writing in the May 20 issue of the journal Nature, the researchers note that this hybrid crop, known as Bt-corn, has genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) spliced into the plant genes. These hybrids are very effective against the ravenous European corn borer, a major corn pest that is destroyed by the plant’s toxic tissue.

The article quickly assures us, “The engineered corn is safe for human consumption”, but continues describing the new poison:

Unlike many pesticides, the Bt-corn has been shown to have no effect on many “nontarget” organisms — pollinators such as honeybees or beneficial predators of pests like ladybugs.

But the Bt-modified corn produces pollen containing crystalline endotoxin from the bacterium genes. When this corn pollen is dispersed by the wind, it lands on other plants, including milkweed, the exclusive food of monarch caterpillars and commonly found around cornfields.

It’s not funny sprinkling surety among surprise….

Oily Crimes

The head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies reported to Congress that the chief executives of the oil companies should be charged with “high crimes against humanity”.

From a consolidated post at Daily Galaxy:

Hansen is no stranger to controversy. The Bush administration has attacked Hansen on several fronts, but the most frustrating attack is perhaps its outright attempt to silence scientific reports like the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. This multi-volume assessment, mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, included a decade of thorough scientific study. Shortly after George W Bush became president, the White House barred government scientists from using its contents or even referring to it. In a severe “conflict of interest” move that has defined the Bush administration, oil industry lobbyist Philip Cooney was appointed chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Cooney resigned from the CEQ when he was caught changing data and deleting scientific information from reports in 2005. Immediately after his resignation he was hired by ExxonMobil.

Search Google. Very strong positions here.

Unofficial goals

From Anil Dash, for those who want to understand more about Bill Gates:

“Gates’ mother Mary Maxwell Gates … how philanthropic work opened doors for a fledgling Bill Gates and Microsoft.

“Mary Maxwell Gates was deeply involved in the work of the United Way for many years before her passing in 1994, most notably as its first female chair. And one of the connections she made through that work back in 1980 was to John Opel, the chairman of IBM who was also a member of the United Way’s executive committee.

“It’s become fairly clear in the years since that at least part of the reason IBM was willing to hire Microsoft to create an operating system for the initial release of the IBM PC was because of the introductions made through that connection.”

On the other hand, Michael Masnick at Techdirt takes us down a different road:

Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO, 1991: “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today… A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose.”

If you needed any proof that Microsoft has shifted from a “young company innovates” to an “old company litigates” stance, just take a look at the massive ramp up in patents awarded to Microsoft over the last decade and a half. It’s been steady growth, with a massive leap in the past two years.

Every week, if you follow patents granted to Microsoft you see huge numbers. In the past four weeks alone, Microsoft has been granted 49 patents (June 24), 44 patents (June 17), 42 patents (June 10) and 76 patents (June 3). That’s 211 patents this month alone. Compare that to a company like Google, who was granted a grand total of 7 patents in June.

And I just found an ‘exclusive exit interview‘ of Bill Gates conducted by Michael J. Miller at PCWorld.

Media smack

By withholding a most devastating indictment of the lawless regime in power, namely illegal wiretapping of U.S. citizens, the New York Times denied citizens the option of a fully informed choice in 2004 and it played a major role in returning Bush-Cheney to power. [story from New Zealand]

Nailed research

Easter Island wood carvingLong and artificial nails are a breeding ground for bacteria.

Even after thorough washing bugs such as E.coli remain under finger nails and can be transfered to food.

“A chef has to have their nails short and clean at all times”, said David Belford, London Hygiene Center concluding new research. [BBC]


Around 90% of bacteria on the hands is under finger nails.

Infinity’s Critic

In the spirit of meeting Buddha on the road, George Carlin rants a bit in “You Are All Diseased”:

George Woodard, known by his nom de guerre, Billy Goat.I want you to know, when it comes to believing in god- I really tried. I really really tried. I tried to believe that there is a god who created each one of us in his own image and likeness, loves us very much and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize…something is fucked up. Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best god can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the resume of a supreme being. This is the kind of shit you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently run universe, this guy would have been out on his all-powerful-ass a long time ago.

When will Microsoft listen?

Coders at Mozilla are in the news because Firefox 3 seems to have set a World Record for downloads in 24 hours. Coders at Google, Facebook, Twitter are in the news because, well, they’re coding. Microsoft is in the news usually defending corporate policy, continuing dominance through acquisitions and monopoly, and general conniving.

We’re accustomed to Windows and many are impressed, though I’ve always felt it’s akin to a dump truck in the 1930s, important and useful and uncomfortable and not truly improved until the 1980s.

When you have time, this will take some weight off your shoulders, seeing that Windows/Microsoft is as kludged as we’ve been ranting about for years. I know I’m not alone in this thinking.

I enjoyed this link:

Walking 32,000 miles!

From the LATimes, a story of our grand human family.

George Woodard, known by his nom de guerre, Billy Goat.“George is the name my mother gave me,” he said.

Billy Goat has hiked more than 32,000 miles — which would have taken him around the world and a third of the way again. He has walked across the South and the Southwest, the Northeast and the West. He has crossed the Rocky Mountains on four occasions, twice in each direction. He has conquered the so-called triple crown of American hiking — the Appalachian, Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails — multiple times.

He has a wife, his third, and a home in Nevada. That is where George, the 69-year-old retired railroad worker, would live if Billy Goat cared to be George. Billy Goat lives more than 10 months of the year outdoors, drinking unfiltered water from streams, eating vacuum-sealed meals he prepares himself, sleeping under the stars without a tent. He carries what he needs in a backpack weighing less than 10 pounds.

“I’m not on vacation. I’m not out for a weekend,” he said, settling in for the night under a fire-scarred tree next to a gurgling creek and surrounded by the rugged granite outcroppings of the Dome Land Wilderness. “This is where I live. When you do that, all the other trappings of life fade away.”

McBush Economics

The “Enron Loophole” that Gramm and McBush took through Congress has truly cost our nation.

Part of the rapid spike of costs recently is the runaway activity of Wall Street – subprime, food commodity and oil prices – that’s aided by Phil Gramm’s and John MCain’s Commodities Futures Modernization Act that stopped regulation of electronic trading.

Obama is acting to close this loophole fast. [news search]

These days, radical jingoist Texas Senator Phil Gramm is the ‘economic brain’ of McBush.

Awhile ago both he and McCain were implicated in America’s largest bankruptcy, the much too forgotten fall of Enron. It was the year 2000 when Enron – “with Gramm’s wife Wendy serving on its board of directors” – was found criminally pushing up electricity costs in California while hoping to rescue itself from cash collapse.

Consortium News published a report on these shenanigans May 19, 2008.

It’s tough to look behind the scenes to learn what seasoned politicians can do with slogans that favor their buddies and shape our opinion rather than reveal the truth.

McBush is stumping for extra billions to pipeline into the coffers of energy giants while, typically, he cuts away at the Farm Bill and many other domestic programs and incentives, because, they say, Phil Gramm is against introducing any “regulatory language” that will spill onto market traders.

Follow FEMA

It can be done. We can do it. All things can be better.

Up and down the Big Muddy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is being commended for responding quickly and surely.

“The lessons we learned from Katrina we’ve taken very seriously,” said Glenn Cannon, FEMA assistant administrator for disaster operations.

“We’ve changed the way we do business.

“We don’t wait to react.” [NewsVine]

Forced agony

Initiative 1000 [pdf],

The proposed Death With Dignity Act

“When death is inevitable, we shouldn’t force people to endure agonizing suffering if we don’t have to,” says Former Gov. Booth Gardner.

“We have all made tough decisions throughout our lives, and we should be trusted to make tough decisions about the end of life. It’s about autonomy, personal choice and respect. I was in control of my life.

“I should be allowed to be in control of my death.” [LA Times]


Update:

Washington State is moving ahead with a Death With Dignity Initiative, and these are humane steps. Their link is It’s My Decision.

next-million-mozillians

an open web’s firefox filosophy:

If Mozilla stepped into the movement building game, it would clearly have a head start: 170 million people who use Firefox and a killer track record building community.

However, there is also a critical piece missing: the ability to help large numbers (millions?) of people make the shift from being a consumer to being contributor. Not contributors to Mozilla Project code. Or even to documentation or marketing. Rather, imagine 170 million contributors to the project of making the open web stronger, better understood and more resilient. This would be very cool movement indeed.

First flag, No cross

1680 Massachusetts flagRoger Williams is a founder too. The 1680 Massachusetts colony agreed they should design any flag they wanted and, “without exception, they removed the cross from their flags.”

This is the first de facto Massachusetts flag, red with a white canton.

The 1780 Seal of the State of Massachusetts carried the inscription:

Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem

By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty

[link] [link]

I left a comment at Daniel Burka’s Delta Tango Bravo saying that early flags say so much about the founding of America, but we let creepy pundits and politicians argue until we forget the dedication and strength and hope under these flags.

Flags teach.

first flag used in Canada by 1816 Metis fighters

This 1816 flag is the oldest flag in Canada.