The Fun Never Ends
Three links from commenter
Blub at 128 on this Firedoglake thread:
Thanks, Blub, whoever you are. Now it's about time for my midnight snack, but I'm afraid to eat it...
From today's (non-organically-grown, probably GMO-laden, possibly melanine-containing, surely at least
MSG-filled) Chinese buffet meal:
When you use force
Not even your shoes fit.
Ain't it the truth.
Oh Yeah, That Should Work
WASHINGTON, May 30 (Reuters) - President George W. Bush would like to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in
Iraq like the one in South Korea to provide stability but not in a frontline combat role, the White House
said on Wednesday.
The United States has had thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea to guard against a North Korean invasion
for 50 years.
Democrats in control of the U.S. Congress have been pressing Bush to agree to a timetable for pulling troops
from Iraq, an idea firmly opposed by the president.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush would like to see a U.S. role in Iraq ultimately similar to that in
"The Korean model is one in which the United States provides a security presence, but you've had the
development of a successful democracy in South Korea over a period of years, and, therefore, the United
States is there as a force of stability," Snow told reporters.
H/T Josh Marshall,
who offers a lucid analysis of why this is the worst crack-brained idea since... well, since Bush's last
crack-brained idea. Hint: Iraq is nothing like Korea, and US involvement in Iraq is nothing like US
involvement in Korea, in any aspect relevant to such a plan. But please read what Josh wrote.
The War Prayer
... by Mark Twain, as you've
never experienced it before.
(Allow yourself some time for contemplation afterward. Not suitable as bedtime viewing.)
Frankenfood Wins A Round
... or, arguably, two rounds. Recently,
have written on the companion subjects of how organically produced food is defined (the USDA has just changed
that definition, and not for the more restrictive) and the whole large question of the potential and/or
demonstrated effects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food supply on human health. Fallenmonk and
ellroon point to
by Kirk James Murphy, MD on Firedoglake, broadly addressing those issues. The posts and the comment threads
are both worth your time (though the comments can be gritty going, as presumed food industry or pesticide
industry hostiles assault Dr. Murphy in classic concern-troll fashion). I'm not going to summarize Dr.
Murphy's posts; if you're interested in what you're eating without knowing it, you'll read them yourselves.
Though I've been a vegetarian for about 25 years, I came late to the Frankenfood debate. Questions about the
deleterious effects of many pesticides on the human organism were already largely resolved in my mind by the
time I chose to become a sprout-eater, but I, being of an age at which I've surely consumed enough DDT in my
youth to kill a large horse, continued (and continue) to eat chemically grown foods (OK, "conventionally"
grown foods, if you're a Whole Foods manager) with pesticides presumably less immediately toxic than DDT.
That's an awfully big presumption, I know, and I may live... or die... to regret it. But that's where I stand
at the moment, not in deep shit, but in deep chemical fertilizer. Over the past year or so, my diet has
migrated from mostly chemically grown food to perhaps just under half organically grown. It ain't cheap, and
it isn't always easy, but I am gradually changing my eating habits toward organic produce, dairy, etc.
Enter the question of GMOs, sometimes called "Frankenfoods." They take the question of chemical intervention
in food production to a whole new level, quite beyond fertilizers and pesticides: they splice into plants
some genes taken from other organisms altogether. The results are unpredictable, not only in the original
insertion but in later generations.
Why does this matter? It's just an experiment, right? You can still get organically grown food, right? The
answer to the second question is that the range of the experiment is the entire of agriculture on the planet,
because there is no way of isolating an organically grown plant from pollination by a nearby GMO plant. The
answer to the third question is a definite "maybe," because USDA has just introduced changes to the
regulations that would allow industrial agriculture and pesticide producers to label food "organic" even if
it contains some ingredients produced with chemicals. And even if everything is properly labeled (as I
suspect many current small growers of organic produce will continue to do, as a matter of good faith),
there's the question of contamination by cross-pollination by GMOs. Does that answer the first question for
you? Monsanto may be wreaking an irreversible change in the genetic content of all produce everywhere.
Is the transition pernicious? I do not know. I am not inalterably opposed to all uses of genetic modification
techniques; such techniques show real promise in the battle against the few remaining widespread and damnably
challenging diseases for which no cure is known. But given that we don't know the long-term results of
applying small, non-natural genetic changes to the crops we eat, it seems a really bad idea to bet the farm
(so to speak) that they will have no catastrophic effects today or next year or next century.
Many proponents of GMO foods belittle my concerns, saying that every species alive today has experienced
thousands (at least) of random mutations in its genetic makeup in the normal working out of evolution.
That much is true. But the resulting species are the survivors of the process... the organisms in which these
random mutations have produced beneficial, or at least neutral, changes in the ability of the organisms to
survive in their habitats and to reproduce themselves. Mother Nature has as long as it takes, with an
unlimited number of failures along the way, to happen upon mutations that confer survival advantages on the
evolutionary winners among species. We have limited time, and absolutely no slack for error, if we attempt to
introduce genetic mutations that may or may not benefit our species in particular, by enhancing or
diminishing... or even destroying... the survivability of our agricultural crops.
Putting aside for a moment (but only a moment) the potential long-term catastrophe, what about us as
individuals? Should a person in a free society at least have the opportunity to know what she is
eating, whether chemical pesticides and fertilizers were used in its production, and most especially whether
its genes have been tampered with? The EU seems to think so. The US? not so much. Not only has the USDA
introduced proposed changes to the definition of "organic," but a provision has been inserted in the farm
bill that would prohibit state and local governments from imposing additional safety and labeling
requirements on foods, beyond those approved by the Secretary of Agriculture. If these foods are so
manifestly safe, why are both the producers and our
corporatocracy federal government so reluctant to
tell us what we are eating, or allow us to impose restrictions on it?
Angle Of The Dangling Participle
It's time for something political... and silly. The following quote is from a press release by a staffer (and
blogger) for one of the best, hardest-working, most passionately dedicated Democratic State Representatives
in the whole Texas Lege, so I'll quote it anonymously rather than dwell on whose error it was. The content is
right on target, but as my late mother used to ask me, with my grandmother in full sight, "Where's your
(Austin) - House Democratic leaders lamented the close of the 80th Regular Session as another session that
failed the people of Texas. Marred by cover up, chaos, and a costly failure of leadership, many House
Democratic leaders said the session will be remembered as the "session of missed opportunities."
For the record... "many House Democratic leaders" are not "[m]arred by cover up, chaos, and a costly
failure of leadership"; that dubious distinction belongs to their opponents, who control the Texas House at
the moment. But the 80th Regular Session... we have a regular session every two years, and an irregular
special session several times a year when Gov. Goodhair can't get his work done in regular session... was
indeed a mess. Call it welfare if you like: the Texas Lege provides the poor with free entertainment whenever
the Lege is in session. You can't say Texas isn't a full-service state.
R.I.P. Carla 1956-2007
Stella's sister Carla was a generous soul with a passionate sense of fairness. (Did I mention that Carla was
a Democrat?) We miss her a lot. Her time on this Earth was far too short from our perspective, but Carla
faced many ongoing medical problems, and she is now free of her burdens. Godspeed, Carla.
In my previous post, I offered a poem by Archibald MacLeish for the war dead, written early in W.W. II. Let
me offer a very different kind of poem for Carla, this one by 17th-century poet, musician and man
of the cloth, George Herbert (the poem is probably known best through its choral setting by Ralph Vaughan
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky:
The dew shall weep thy fall tonight;
For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye:
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.
Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie;
My music shows ye have your closes,
And all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like seasoned timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.
- George Herbert
R.I.P., Carla; we miss you. The memorial service will be on the morning of June 2.
The Young Dead Soldiers
(I am reproducing my Memorial Day post from last year. It is regrettably still appropriate, and between the
ongoing needless death in the international arena and the highly personal experience of death here at home,
I do not have it in me to write a better one. Heaven help us all, I believe the Devils-in-Chief are about to
start another pre-emptive, invasive war of aggression. How many more young people must we memorialize a year
from now, if Congress does not find the courage to put a stop to the doings of two madmen? Last year's post
Archibald MacLeish, c. 1941:
THE YOUNG DEAD SOLDIERS DO NOT SPEAK
Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts.
They say, We were young. We have died. Remember us.
They say, We have done what we could but until it is finished it is not done.
They say, We have given our lives but until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave.
They say, Our deaths are not ours: they are yours: they will mean what you make them.
They say, Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say: it is you who must say this.
They say, We leave you our deaths: give them their meaning: give them an end to the war and a true peace: give them a victory that ends the war and a peace afterwards: give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died. Remember us.
Is war inevitable? is it part of human nature? I don't know. Even if it is, there is a lot of human
nature we put aside in the interest of civilization. We have laws against murder, rape, robbery and
other heinous crimes, all of which are arguably products of human nature.
People who start wars in the absence of physical threats against themselves... terrorists and neocon's
alike... are engaged in uncivilized behavior. War, absent a legitimate casus belli, is another
heinous crime. So are some of the more extreme practices of war: we have laws against that sort of
uncivilized behavior, too; they are embedded in international treaties and conventions to which the
U.S. is legally and constitutionally committed as surely as to its own domestic laws.
The only way we can give meaning to the deaths of the fallen is to take our grief and anger and redirect
them into a re-establishment of civilization. Civilization entails freedom, democracy, and peace... or at
least the absence of meaningless war... as a steady state. There is no victory in a preemptive, invasive,
endless war of the sort our current administration has inflicted upon us, and may again inflict upon us.
There is only chaos... and more young dead soldiers and civilians.
As to those who have died already, remember them. Give their deaths meaning. "Give them an end to the war
and a true peace."
Incivility warning: this post contains propane language!
Spare tank? No thanks... for a number of years, I had a spare tire, and I am happy to be rid of most of that.
The Texas Bible Bill Revisited
(This post started life as a comment in reply to
jams o donnell's comment
on the bill the Texas Senate passed permitting or requiring the teaching of academic classes about the Bible
in Texas public schools. jams discusses the system in the UK; it is worth your time to read his comment
I have absolutely no problem with teaching the Bible... whichever of the 157 varieties suits you... in
private religious schools. Indeed, it is an American citizen's constitutional right to do that... in private
religious schools. It is also that citizen's right to pray, individually or in groups, in public schools...
as long as the prayers are not state-sponsored, e.g., as long as the school doesn't read prayers over the
public address system to classrooms full of captive students.
It is the notion of state sponsorship... or suppression... of religion in general or any religion in
particular that our founders were so wary of. That's what the very first clause of the First Amendment is all
about. Madison and Jefferson both wrote about the necessity of separating church and state in a religiously
pluralistic society such as ours; Jefferson used the metaphor of a "wall of separation" between them. From
the founders' era forward, there have always been Americans eager to breach that wall. Some of us see it as
our task to stop them. Indeed, more than a few Christian ministers want to see the wall undamaged.
To a UU like me, the Christian Bible is an interesting document, containing some questionable history, some
good (and some not-so-good) moral advice, some good (and again some not-so-good) fiction, and a lot of sex
and violence that some Christians choose to ignore. Yes, we study it, but it is no more and no less a holy
book to us than, say, a volume of Shakespeare's complete works. If the purpose of this bill were to teach the
Bible... and the Torah, and the Quran, and a dozen other religions' holy books... as literature, I would have
no objection... but that is clearly not the intent of the bill or of its sponsors. We UU's live here, too,
and most of us are unwilling to see public sponsorship of any kind of Christianity or any other religion,
especially in the public schools. If the First Amendment doesn't prohibit such taxpayer-funded proselytizing,
then it doesn't mean very much.
I think it is unlikely this bill, presuming it becomes law, will pass constitutional muster. But those things
take years to determine. It troubles me greatly that there is an entire movement dedicated to turning the
U.S. into a "Christian nation"; our founders are surely turning in their graves at the notion.
ellroon offers a video
about the intent of the dominionists regarding the U.S. government. The presentation is rather drab, but the
content is terrifying. You might want to view it.
Correction To Dell Story
According to Jeremy Reimer of
(which has a splendid slogan on its new web front, "New Face. Same Ars."), Dell is selling its new Ubuntu
Linux machines at $50 less than comparable Windows machines. The YDD is uncertain why Wired said otherwise as
below. The Ars Technica article mentions specific models and prices, apparently taken from the Dell
announcement. The YDD regrets the error. What kind of world is it, when you can't trust Wired.
Friday Family Drinking Blogging
Why, yes, we all share drinking glasses; why do you ask?
I know, I know: we shouldn't encourage the children in bad habits. But they seem convinced that the water in
those glasses is somehow superior to the very same water in their bowls.
(The real challenge was taking this picture with my right hand, arm extended to gain a suitable distance.)
Bible Thumping In Public Schools
Well, OK, the Texas Senate
the legislation authorizing (mandating? no one seems sure) academic study of the Bible in public school
classrooms, and it's headed for Gov. Goodhair's desk. One can well imagine where else this is headed.
But thanks to the inimitable CEWDEM's Democratic email list (CEWDEM is Carl Whitmarsh), we have a wonderful
commentary by State Democratic Executive Committee member Sheryl Roppolo. I trust none of the parties
involved will mind if I reproduce Ms. Roppolo's unofficial response, as received on CEWDEM's list:
I believe that the Bible Class legislation may be the single most important law passed this session.
We will have a ready base to pray for all the children left off the CHIP roll.....hey some of them may be
praying for themselves.
We will have a ready base to pray for all the elderly folks who have to choose between paying for thier
medicines and paying for electricity.......since the electricity bill relief legislation was severly diluted.
We will have a ready base to pray for the protection of our borders.
We will have a ready base to pray for all of the people for whom stem cell research may have brought relief
from their pain.
We will have a ready base to pray for a wizard who might bring hearts, brains and courage to Bush, Cheney,
Perry, Duhurst, and Craddick.
God help us all.
Channelview, Harris County, Texas
You got that right, Sheryl... God help us all!
Book Blogging: The Annotated Sherlock Holmes
This one will be brief. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes needs no introduction. And among Sherlockians (amateur
enthusiasts like me) and Holmesians (serious Holmes scholars) alike,
William S. Baring-Gould,
arguably the finest Holmes scholar of the 20th century, likewise requires no introduction.
Baring-Gould contributed his own Holmes fiction in an unusual form: a fictional biography of the great
detective, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. And he wasn't above a bit of fun, offering us The Lure
of the Limerick as well.
But there is no doubt that Baring-Gould's magnum opus is The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, a
gigantic two-volume work from 1967 comprising all the novels and short stories of "the canon" with
Baring-Gould's own copious annotations in columns beside the text. (See LibraryThing, right column, for a
link.) Baring-Gould died that same year; draw what conclusions you wish from that.
Needless to say, I've coveted this work for years. Recently I found a set in good condition in a local used
book store for half-price... half the 1967 price. I know they're not rare or scarce, but I can tell you now
that for a Holmes enthusiast, there is nothing quite so fine as holding in one's hands a large, lovely pair
of... hardbound volumes like these.
Researching this post, I ran across an assertion that there is an intentional
between Sherlock Holmes and Gregory House, M.D. Oh, really? All I can say is that it takes a heap o'
limpin' to make a House a Holmes. (Steve runs for the door very, very fast...)
This Does Not Look Good
AP via Houston Chronicle:
WASHINGTON ó President Bush said he supports a $120 billion war spending bill on track to pass today, ending
weeks of wrangling with Democrats on whether to end the war.
The House voted 218-201 to advance the measure, paving the way for a final vote later that day. Democrats,
who said they were disappointed with the White House deal, agreed not to block debate so long as the House
would vote later this year on a separate proposal to bring troops come home before July 2008.
"I hate this agreement," said Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
So do I. As I noted in comments, the Democratic leadership has managed to do what Bush, in all his hostility
and partisan ranting, has been unable to do: split the Democratic caucus on the continuation of the Iraq war.
Thanks a lot, guys 'n' gals; you may be sure that I won't forget this when I receive requests for campaign
Dell Behaves Like Dell
Is anyone really surprised? Dell
its new laptops running Ubuntu Linux 7.04... and they are priced the same as comparable Windows machines,
despite the fact that Ubuntu Linux is free, Ubuntu Linux support is free, and the usual office software
and web software shipped and installed with Ubuntu Linux (OpenOffice.org 2.x, Firefox, Evolution
email/calendar) is free. So... where does the money you would have paid for Windows go? Right.
Please understand: there is nothing illegal about this. There's not even anything antithetical to
open-software principles about this. From the get-go, Linux and associated software were released under
licenses that let you copy it, modify it, add to it, package it... and sell your modified version of it for a
profit... as long as you do so under a similarly permissive license. Dell isn't doing anything wrong, except
being assholes. There is nothing new under the Sun. Um, I mean, at Dell.
If you want a laptop running Ubuntu Linux, and you're even a little bit of a tinkerer at heart, google on
"Ubuntu Linux" laptop
and you'll find the info you need to do it yourself. If you're contemplating installing Ubuntu Linux on a
laptop that is a few years old, include the model name and number of the laptop in your Google search; you'd
be surprised how many people have gone to the trouble of sharing their experiences. Or look for a similar
One of my clients runs Windows and Ubuntu Linux on his laptop daily, though I don't have details. Apparently,
it isn't rocket science, or even computer science, if you're comfortable tinkering with your computer. One
word of caution: if you attempt a dual-boot system like that, please back up everything; it is possible to
lose your Windows partition and everything on it.
Depending on my success or failure at resurrecting Windows on an older laptop using the restore disk (from a
friend, for a friend), I may be pursuing the Linux laptop experience myself soon. I'll let you know.
If you do it yourself, some things may not work, but on the whole, based on what I've read, the news
is good. Then again, you may need something that works out-of-the-box, in which case the premium that Dell
charges for a Linux laptop may be well worth it to you. I can't say with certainty that Dell is just picking
your pocket, but based on their past behavior and well-documented bad attitude, I wouldn't put it past them.
... speaks for me
in the matter of the Democrats' caving in on Iraq.
(H/T to ellroon
for alerting me to Olbermann's special comment.)
(Afterthought: actually, I would never have said "To he or she," and Olbermann's doing so made me cringe.
Where was his editor? But I agree with the substance of everything he said.)
House Liberals To Vote NO?
morning roundup at TPMCafe Election Central, we found Mike Soraghan of
reporting that liberals in the House are likely to vote NO on the new, improved, 100-percent timeline-free
Iraq spending bill.
And why should they not vote NO! What's the point of voting for funds that Bush will use merely to escalate
and extend the war? If this is some arcane strategy by Pelosi and Reid, if anything good can come of it, I
certainly can't see it. Among other things, the Democratic leadership will now have to go to Republican
members, hat in hand (figuratively), and ask their support for this misbegotten bill.
I'm sorry. Giving away the farm is not a strategy.
agrees, and has a pledge you might want to sign. I can't sign it because I am already pledged to support
Democratic candidates in the next election, but it is a good pledge; please take a look.)
City Council Runoff June 16
Please vote for
for Houston City Council At-Large, position 3. Stella and I happened to dine
at a restaurant at which Ms. Noriega spoke to a group of supporters last night; Stella, whose hearing is
better than mine, reports that her presentation was most impressive... and Stella is not easily impressed by
politicians and other speakers.
If you happen to be a GOPer who insists on thinking of this race in partisan terms (by law, City Council
races are nonpartisan; we won't talk about actual practice), please note that Noriega's opponent is
a Republican who doesn't even pay his bills to other Republicans!
What kind of Councilmember would he make?
Early voting for the runoff begins June 4. As noted before, be sure to check for changes in your polling
place; some polls have been combined for this special election. And please remember... in a short-ballot
runoff, the impact of every single vote is magnified. Please help out, and do yourself a favor at the same
time: vote for Melissa Noriega on (or before) June 16.
A frustrated note: the Harris County Clerk's office web site does not mention this runoff, nor does its
companion site HarrisVotes... they still refer to the May 12 special election. This is unconscionable. When
regular county elections come around again, please vote us a real County Clerk; the one we've had
for decades is scarcely competent and (in my opinion) has had clear conflicts of interest regarding county
purchase of eSlate voting systems for which she also made an endorsement video. Lacking official confirmation,
I obtained the information about this runoff from
and confirmed it with Noriega campaign staffers at her appearance last night.
doesn't make it any better. I am thinking more along the same lines as
that guy Feingold.
that he is the Commander-Guy-in-Chief in any kind of emergency. And the mainstream media takes no notice.
Continuity of constitutional government, MFA: Bush is establishing a basis for proclaiming himself dictator
at some future time, during some unspecified catastrophe. Any bets on whether that will happen shortly before
the 2008 elections?
I, for one, won't go along to get along.
Crooks and Liars.)
A Linux Day
This has been primarily an Ubuntu Linux day. It felt like a lot of work because as a "newbie" I have to find
everything from scratch, but the process has been educational.
For the record: Firefox 2.0 works fine in Ubuntu Linux 6.06 LTS. Just google on
"Firefox 2" "Ubuntu Linux"
and you'll find a recipe and some shell commands to ease the task.
I decided to put off installing any of the usual web standard TrueType fonts, mainly to see if I prefer a
plain sans serif font over Comic Sans MS for the YDD body text. Comic Sans MS was more
appropriate when the site had a different purpose, namely, silly rude doggerel. As I seem to have turned to
weightier matters, perhaps a more conventional font is appropriate. You'll know right away if I change it.
Much of today was spent trying to get a fully working network connection between the Ubuntu Linux box and my
local Microsoft Windows Network, using Samba. Viewing files from the Linux machine was possible almost
immediately, and editing a text file on the Windows machine from the Linux machine didn't take much longer.
Entering some identifying info for the Linux machine made it visible... but not really accessible... from
the Windows box. For that, I had to go to the Samba web site, find the appropriate code for the config file,
and adapt it to this system. Everything had to be done through the terminal and the (actually rather nice)
text editor; very little could be done through the graphical interface. I began to understand why Linus
Torvalds said a few years back that the GNOME interface is not powerful enough for his purposes; I might try
the other one (KDE, available with Kubuntu) next time I install a Linux system.
Here's the simple message: Ubuntu is quick to install and easy enough for an office worker to use if s/he is
familiar with MS Windows and MS Office. And I suspect networking multiple Linux machines isn't rocket
science. But if you're going to mix Windows and Linux on your local network, and you're not a wizard, you'd
better find a wizard. And I suggest Gandalf, not Rincewind.
UPDATE: I forgot a couple of things. One, it is possible but messy to install
codecs to allow you to view .wmv and .mov video files, so you don't have to do without Crooks and Liars. And
Ubuntu Linux ships with wicked cool screen savers!
Are We China's Dumping Ground?
It's enough to make you sick... literally. The melamine discovered in pet food, then hog feed, then chicken
feed was just the tip of the iceberg. The more one reads, the more one gets the feeling that China is
dumping any inedible or unhealthy thing on the U.S. market, through legal channels or by smuggling. From the
Tainted Chinese Imports Common
In Four Months, FDA Refused 298 Shipments
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 20, 2007; Page A01
Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical.
Frozen catfish laden with banned antibiotics.
Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria.
Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.
These were among the 107 food imports from China that the Food and Drug Administration detained at U.S. ports
just last month, agency documents reveal, along with more than 1,000 shipments of tainted Chinese dietary
supplements, toxic Chinese cosmetics and counterfeit Chinese medicines.
And now the FDA is set to approve importing chickens from China. Why? Because America's beef producers want
access to China's markets, and China has more than hinted that our chicken market is the price for allowing
that. Beyond chickens, so much of the American economy is intertwined with China's that it is very difficult
to put in place any regulations that inhibit immediate importation of anything:
"So many U.S. companies are directly or indirectly involved in China now, the commercial interest of the
United States these days has become to allow imports to come in as quickly and smoothly as possible," said
Robert B. Cassidy, a former assistant U.S. trade representative for China and now director of international
trade and services for Kelley Drye Collier Shannon, a Washington law firm.
As a result, the United States finds itself "kowtowing to China," Cassidy said, even as that country keeps
sending American consumers adulterated and mislabeled foods.
On top of all that, there's a smuggler's market in Chinese meats that cannot be legally imported. You'll
never know it's smuggled in from China. But you might guess so if it makes you sick.
I don't know an easy solution. It's a big world, with lots of people, and somebody's gotta feed 'em. But
there is a lot to be said against importing any great quantity of staple foods. Health risks are one thing.
Fuels burned in transporting the foods are another.
In any case, the health issues, which affect even vegetarians, will lead me to think twice about eating
foods imported from China. That's sad, but until China is willing to cooperate in establishing effective
means of inspection, that's reality.
To my regret, the Russian General was not in when I last visited, nor does the store actually sell Russian
generals. It does sell excellent locally baked Russian-style bread, very tasty chocolates from Russia and
eastern Europe, tea (strong tea!) and wines from those regions and others, deli items (some
of which I can actually eat), and of course those little nesting dolls. This is a thoroughly enjoyable place
to shop, even if I never get to meet the Russian General. (For more information on Russian generals, please
HaloScan comment popups are still empty as I write this. Maybe this is Jeevan's way of telling us to just go
McCain ourselves. (Please pardon the obscenity.)
GOP Civility In Action
Senators McCain and Cornyn had a disagreement over judicial appeals for illegal immigrants. Fortunately,
following the example of Mr. Cheney, they demonstrated for leftie bloggers everywhere just how civil
discourse should proceed.
Steve Benen, guesting at Talking Points Memo,
gives us a credible (though second hand) report:
Apparently, McCain accused Cornyn of raising petty objections, and Cornyn accused McCain of having dropped in
without taking part in the negotiations. "F**k you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room,"
McCain reportedly shouted. Paul Kane added that McCain also "used a curse word associated with chickens."
According to Benen, who has links to reports, this is far from the first time McCain has dropped F-bombs...
on other GOPers. Imagine what he would do... no. Don't. Just put it out of your mind.
Stella is working most of the weekend on some contract work that has a rapidly approaching delivery date.
I am doing basic household stuff that got put aside for a while when Carla died, and trying to learn more
about Linux. I am still not back up to my usual "strident" self in the political arena, though as I read the
news, I do feel the urge to scream again, so I should resume political blogging before long. I do have a
Saturday sign for you, which I will post presently.
(Parts of HaloScan are defunct on this site at the moment. I can see the Manage Comments page, and the
Recent Comments display works, but comment popups are served as completely empty pages. Apologies if it's
still that way when you get here.)
Friday Made-You-Look Blogging
One might think Samantha has spotted a bee (though not Samantha Bee) near the patio ceiling...
... but in fact she's playing the same game we all did as kids...
made you look!
Houston, We Have
No, this is not posted from my newly minted Ubuntu Linux installation, but the latter does work. Linux is
ready for prime time, but I'm not ready for prime time on Linux. Blogging will take place from here on this
Windows machine for a while. (If I weren't so stubborn about not using a blogging service or blogging
Very first impression (and I'm not the first to say it): Ubuntu is brown. The default desktop wallpaper has
brown swirls. It is uncluttered and does not visually shout at you.
Actually, that was not my very first impression: that was the ease of installation. I wish all
software installed that straightforwardly. The
librarian's little movie
of her own Linux installation does not exaggerate. It really is that easy.
Second impression, a blogger's impression: the usual fonts common to Windows PCs and Macs, the ones I
depend on for consistency of appearance of the YDD, are not there. I suppose somebody owns them and
somebody else licenses them, but the version of Firefox shipped with the distro causes displayed fonts to
descend to the last-ditch sans-serif backstop. The YDD does not look the same. There may be something I can
do about this on the browser end; it's on the list of thousands of things I need to learn.
Ubuntu as distributed found my Windows network right away, and gave me read-only access to the shared part
of the filesystem on the new Windows box. The Windows machine did not reciprocate. One direction is better
My biggest laugh: Ubuntu Linux discovered my ancient LaserJet 5L, suggested a reasonable driver for it, and
at my request printed a test page... assuming the paper size was A4. Here I sit, guilty as charged of making
a blatant cultural assumption.
Thank you, one and all, for your kindness to Stella and me in these difficult days. Apologies for not
answering each and every kind comment individually, but now that the original flurry of activity after
Carla's death is over, we are trying to catch up on work and other stuff that continues to pile up even
when real life intervenes. We now have a date for the memorial service, plane reservations for family,
and last but not least,
a suitable shelter for the rat terrier.
The photo was taken by the officer who recovered her from Carla's apartment; she's presumably a little
cleaner now, and has had shots (Carla almost certainly had gotten her shots already, but the papers couldn't
be found at the time), and... get this... a microchip for location in case she wanders. I can't say
this dog was lucky... I'm sure she is grieving for Carla as we all are... but I think she landed in a pretty
good place. Say, if you live near Conroe... (Actually, you might have to fight Stella's brother for her, if
he can figure out a way to get her back home to Georgia.)
Background Info On Software Patents - UPDATED
Many of you are better-read than I am about software patents, the underlying topic of my recent
regarding allegations by a Microsoft lawyer that Linux and other open software may infringe some Microsoft
patents. For the rest of us, here are some useful links on the general topic of software patents:
Via Dwight Silverman at the Houston Chronicle's
I found a couple of articles on eWeek a few years ago which give one serious pause concerning the content of
Microsoft's statement regarding a third party's (self-interested) assessment of how many potential Microsoft
patent violations could be argued as occurring in the Linux kernel and other open source software:
Please note that both of these articles are from 2004, so the underlying issue is not new at all. The
third-party study is said to have found 283 potential patents violated; on the other hand, the
CNet News article
which I linked earlier says Microsoft's lawyer claims 235 violations. Sen. McCarthy, just how many
Communists did you say infiltrated our government?
For the record: I am not a lawyer, let alone an intellectual property lawyer. Nothing you find on
this site should be construed as legal advice. It's just me, talking through my Red Hat. Uh, I mean...
(Still no new word from Stella this morning. And I'm still in no frame of mind to poli-blog. I'll keep you
Bryan of Why Now
emphasizes the primary point, the one I intended to make with my quip about Sen. McCarthy, much more clearly
than I made it: Microsoft is not bringing suits based on specific patents it owns and alleges are violated by
the Linux kernel or any other piece of open-source software. Instead, Microsoft is doing metaphorically what
McCarthy did physically: holding aloft and waving a fistful of papers, claiming that they contain
names of 235 Communists the numbers of 235 Microsoft patents its competitors are violating. Asked which
patents are infringed, Microsoft says its competitors should examine their own works for infringements and
negotiate license deals with Microsoft. This is both an attempt to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt)
among its competitors, and a kind of "fishing" for license fees. Bryan quotes another
CNet News article
in which Linus Torvalds himself (he originally created Linux many years ago) addresses that issue: "If
Microsoft were to actually tell people what patents they claim we violate, we could either laugh in their
face and show prior art, or just show them to be obvious, or we could do things differently[.]" Microsoft
is not protecting its intellectual property rights; it is just engaging in a sort of patent poker and raw
OT: I spoke to Stella briefly; she is dealing with finding a humane no-kill shelter for Carla's terrier. Most
family members who would otherwise take the poor thing are allergic to dogs, and Stella's and my apartment
complex disallows dogs as pets. Tabitha and Samantha also have made it clear they would disallow a dog even
if the apartment complex management did not. Stella has found a shelter in the neighborhood that guarantees
it will not euthanize the dog (what an inappropriate term... this terrier is basically healthy; putting it
down would not be euthanizing it in any meaningful sense of the word) and was headed there when I spoke to
her. She is coming home this evening for a bit of a break and some time with her own dear cats (and me, if
I'm lucky), and will head back in a couple of days to resume helping her family.
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Death In The Family - UPDATED
UPDATE, Tuesday night, almost midnight: Stella is at her father's house, with
several other family members, dealing with such details as can be attended to at this early stage. I am back
at home... someone has to look after the cats. Many details about Carla remain unknown. Stella sounded very
sad when I talked to her late tonight. Anyone who has been through this herself or himself knows it is harder
to bear at some moments than at others. Thanks to all of you for your kind wishes, good thoughts and prayers;
Stella will appreciate them, and please know that I do as well. I am in no condition to do serious blogging
at the moment, but I may do some visiting on other blogs. Thanks for your patience.
(Original post follows.)
Stella's sister Carla (not her real name) is dead. She was several years younger than Stella, and had a
number of chronic and sometimes severe health problems that caused her to be frequently hospitalized. She
died at home, alone, apparently while Stella was out of town visiting other family members last week and
weekend, but her death was discovered only today. We know essentially nothing at this point about the
cause of her death. More information should be forthcoming tomorrow. Stella is devastated; I've never seen
her so crestfallen before in the approximately 23 years I've known her.
Tomorrow we are going first to Stella's father's home, possibly 30 miles north of here, then another 10
or so miles further north to Carla's apartment, to begin the inevitable long process of dealing with
Carla's estate. It would be sad in any case, and it is made sadder still by the untimeliness of Carla's
death... she was, by most reasonable standards, simply too young to die. I knew her only tangentially,
the way one knows one's partner's siblings, but even I feel keenly the tragedy of her dying too young.
I do not know how the next few days will play out. I am taking my laptop with me, and we are taking two
cars so that Stella can deal with returning Carla's car to their father's house, but apart from the
question of when each of us gets home, I may or may not have the ability to concentrate adequately to
do serious political blogging. I'll keep you informed.
Gaining By Threat...
Melissa Noriega In Runoff
Doing The Honorable Thing
Rep. Doggett Shows Us How It Is Done
Friday Kissy-Cat Blogging
May 12 Voter Information - Correction!
Blog Maintenance Note
Sell CDs? Your Firstborn, Please!
Parental Government: The Anti-Drug
Houstonians: Vote For Melissa Noriega
Of Shoes And Ships
Those Damned Democrats Again
Maintenance: Push Comes To Shove
Friday-Somewhere Patio Cat Blogging
Well, That Didn't Take Long - UPDATED
Cough 'Em Up, Gonzo
Me And Mah Buddy Veto
Blog Maintenance Matters - Again
Blog RSS 0.91
Better the occasional faults of a government that lives
in a spirit of charity than the constant omissions of a
government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.
I belong to the Democratic Party wing of the Democratic Party.
- Paul Wellstone
I am a Democrat without prefix, without suffix, and without apology.
- Sam Rayburn