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Monday, January 31, 2005

Story behind the story of the Iraqi elections...

I found this off of Cursor. Like I said, I'm not insensitive to the needs of the Iraqis and I do desire them to have their liberty -- I think we owe them at least that after all we've put them through. If I had my way, we would not have been in Iraq in the first place. Now that we're there, I would definitely be going about things in a much different way.

So what went wrong with the Iraqi elections? Ken Sanders over at Politics of Dissent enlightens us with the help of Electronic Iraq.
Iraqi Elections: Bush's "Resounding Success"
On Sunday, President Bush declared Iraq’s first “free” elections a “resounding success.”Perhaps that is true on a political level for the Bush administration. Perhaps it is true symbolically for the people of Iraq and even for the greater Middle East. However, beyond the political rhetoric and symbolism regarding the elections in Iraq, were they really a success, much less a resounding one?

First of all, there is serious question about how democratic the elections actually were. There were over 7,000 candidates on the ballot. Many of those candidates, for security reasons, were not even named on the ballot. Instead, candidates were grouped into lists, such as a “main Shia list,” several other Shia lists, Kurdish lists, and so on. In other words, Iraqi voters were more or less compelled to vote for an ethnic group, national group, or religious faction. The make-up of the ballot essentially prevented Iraqis from voting for a particular person or political party.

Second, Iraqis do not and will not select their prime minister or president. Instead, Iraq’s elections created a 275 member National Assembly. The National Assembly will select a 3 member presidency council. The presidency council will then ultimately decide who will be Iraq’s prime minister. Although it is not set forth anywhere in Iraq’s “transitional law,” the presidency council and prime minister will be selected from the 275 member National Assembly.

Third, the elections in Iraq will not result in local representation for Iraqis. Under Paul Bremmer, the U.S. decided that rather than divide Iraq into localities, the entire country would be a single constituency. Thus, any candidate who receives a 275th of the nation-wide vote will get a seat on the National Assembly, regardless of how many other candidates are elected from the same locality. This system creates a distinct likelihood of over-representation at the national level for groups with high voter turn-out. Theoretically, therefore, Kurds may end up being over-represented nationally since security in northern Iraq is much better than in other areas of the country. While this would be good for the Kurds, who have been oppressed for decades, it would not sit well with either the Shia or Sunni populations.

Fourth, while exit polls of questionable accuracy indicate a 60% turn-out by registered voters, there are entire regions of Iraq that never had the opportunity to register. As of January 29, the eve of the elections, neither the residents of Falluja nor Mosul were registered to vote or even provided with the forms to do so. Iraq’s third largest city, Mosul is home to nearly three million Iraqis. With at least three million disenfranchised Iraqis, and with millions of Sunni Iraqis boycotting the elections, the legitimacy of the elections comes into serious question.

(Remember the animosity and divisiveness that resulted from the United States’ 2000 Presidential Election? Imagine the millions of democrats who disavowed Bush as their president. Imagine the millions of republicans who condemned these democrats as sore losers and against the democratic process. Now imagine both sides armed to the teeth and, partly as a result of deep ideological differences, willing to kill and die for their respective causes. Now amplify that by a factor of ten and you have just imagined the tip of the iceberg in Iraq.)

Fifth, the Independent Iraqi Electoral Commission, whose members were appointed by Bremmer before the U.S. handed over “power” in June, set the rules for the elections. The Commission has absolute power to bar any candidate or organization and has done so. Those who have been barred by the Commission received neither due process nor an explanation why. Thus, the U.S., through its proxy, established the rules for the election and determined who could and could not be a candidate therein. Additionally, the International Republican Institute (IRI), an offshoot of the U.S. Republican Party and advocate of “democracy building,” has funded certain Iraqi campaigns, giving a distinct advantage. (The IRI’s board of directors includes Senators John McCain and Chuck Hagel, Congressman Jim Kolbe, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and former Secretary of State Larry Eagleburger. The IRI has been linked to financial support provided to coups in Venezuela and Haiti.)

Sixth, and most significantly, a new Iraqi government does not mean a free Iraq. There is no free press in Iraq - stories must favor the government’s point of view. Press “disrespect” for U.S.-appointed prime minister Allawi is prohibited. Both Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya have been banned for their nonconformity. Furthermore, any new government is already bound by the laws enacted by the U.S. before handing “power” over to Allawi. For example, as with Sunday’s elections, the next plebiscite, to establish a permanent constitution, must proceed under Bremmer’s laws. Moreover, all of Iraq is to be privatized, open to 100% foreign ownership or leasehold for forty years. “All” of Iraq includes resources (think oil), amenities and public services. Additionally, the U.S. has made it perfectly clear that it will not permit Iraq to become a theocracy like Iran, regardless of what Iraqis might want. Having already invested over $100 billion and over 1,400 lives in the invasion and rebuilding of Iraq, the U.S. will not permit an Iraqi government that is contrary to U.S. interests.

Were the elections in Iraq a “resounding success?” Sure, if you are President Bush or someone who stands to make a buck (or a million) on a new stable, “democratic,” and completely privatized Iraq. If you happen to be an average Iraqi citizen, however, prepare to be disappointed.

(Special thanks to Jo Wilding at electronicIraq.net.)

Those who do not study history...

Needlenose has found something interesting from the daily kos journals...
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

. . . A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam.

Something else interesting over on A Star From Mosul's blog:
thanks to the stupidity of the election commission, is that the indelible ink on the hands of voters will stay for a few days. So if some terrorist really wants to murder voters he doesn't have to do it on Election Day. He can just wait until the security cordon clears and then "inspect" fingers at random and murder at will.

Look, I want this to have been a successful election. I want Iraq to be well on its way to becoming a self-sustaining, vibrant democracy full of giggling children and dancing adults that can feed itself, filter its own water, and provide security for its own people. What I'd like more than anything is for Bush supporters to be able to give me a big old "I told you so". The fine folks over at Get Your War On said it best:

Click the picture to make it bigger if you can't read it

See the thing is that the propoganda pushers will have you believe that every last thing is a major accomplishment, that Iraq is getting better and better and that democracy is right around the corner. That our troops will be coming home soon, not sure when exactly, but definitely soon. The truth is that the facts belie all of that. The general consensus with everyone that I've talked to who has been to Iraq (and don't forget, I work in an office full of those types of people) is that the situation is stagnant or getting worse. We are not getting the whole story here folks.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Newsflash! Bud gets pants!

Bud, my brother-in-law and owner/operator of Miller Pottery, has taken the unprecidented step of actually buying not one, not two, but three pairs of pants. We took him to the BX and got him two pairs of khakis and one pair of jeans along with two collared shirts, two pairs of dress shoes, dress socks, and undershirts. With the belt that I gave him, he is now all good to go!

For those readers who don't know Bud (aka James) you should know that he never ever wears anything but shorts. Ever. Well he does have a suit that he wears when he has to. He wore that suit to our wedding for example. But other than that, no matter how cold it is, James is always in shorts.

Or at least he was until now.

And, just in case it doesn't last for whatever reason, I decided that I needed to blog a picture so that all of the friends and family could look back in fondness at the fleeting moments when James actually wore something other than shorts on a day that wasn't a special occassion. Click on the thumbnail below to see a larger image.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Friday, January 28, 2005

So this is how Bush is able to push his programs...

Well, we are slowly finding out that the Bush administration has its own group of journalists that are paid to push the Administration's agenda. First it was Armstrong Williams who was paid $240,000 for peddling the No Child Left Behind Act, then it was Maggie Gallagher who got $41,500 for pushing marriage policies, now it's the syndicated columnist Michael McManus pushing the Bush marriage initiatives.

This is just the tip of the iceberg I bet. It will be interesting to see just how far and wide this illegal activity has spread. It will also be interesting to see the adminstration's reaction to that activity and how they ultimately wriggle out of having to admit any culpability.

This administration is absolutely unbelievable.

The Christian Coalition would not approve...

For Christmas Beth got us some tickets to see the Scissor Sisters. We've gone to a bunch of concerts since we've been here in the Seattle area but they've all really been Beth concerts. We've seen the Indigo Girls twice, OAR twice, Simon and Garfunkel, and it seems like there was another one. I'm more than happy to go to a concert with Beth but I can't say that I really like the Indigo Girls all that much. She would say the same thing about Radiohead.

Before Christmas we had been hearing the Scissor Sisters' song "Take Your Mama Out" all the time on the XM radio and thought it was fun and funky enough to get the whole CD. The rest of the CD is kind of odd, a bit like Pink Floyd meets the Bee Gees type of thing. Not really my cup of tea but hey.

Well what I didn't know is just how large their homosexual male fan base was. Seriously, the Scissor Sisters are to gay men what the Indigo Girls are to lesbians (and let me tell you, I have never seen so many mullets, vests and birkenstocks as I have at an Indigo Girls concert). There were all kinds of boys with boas and sparkles and makeup and multi-colored fauxhawks. One guy went all out in sort of a Boy George kind of look that included a sequined eyepatch. The Scissor Sisters definitely embraced that crowd and took the time to shun the religious right for a bit in their show which got a large reaction from the audience.

Oh yeah, and the opening act was a group called "Hey Will Power". They were pretty fun ... really, really gay but pretty fun none the less. All in all it was a good evening. Now, if we could just get Radiohead to go on tour in Seattle before Beth has to PCS.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

New openphoto.net post up...

I posted some new pictures and have done a new post over at my openphoto.net journal. Check it out and leave a message if you'd like.

Miscellaneous goings on....

It isn't like there hasn't been anything interesting happening recently. It isn't like I've even been taking a vacation from the news. There has been several things that I said to myself, "I need to blog that." So in order to catch up, I think I'm going to post some of my more memorable thoughts from the past week or so.

We had the President get sworn in (for the last time hopefully) and in his inauguration speech he said:
The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
The title of this post would have been something snippy like "Paging Mr. Orwell" and I would have said something to the effect of Bush is actually saying, he has broadened his foreign policy to: "War is peace." I cannot think of a time when any other policy maker wanted to sell that ideology. Simply amazing.

We had Condoleezza Rice (yes, I needed Google's help to spell her first name) get promoted but not without a bit of grilling from one Barbara Boxer. If I knew Barbara Boxer, I would give her a big hug and tell her great job and that we need more Democrats like her. There are far too many people (*cough* Joe Lieberman *cough*) who when faced with the decision to vote in a liar to one of the most important government positions on the planet would say something like "But I hope and believe that the Senate today, across partisan lines, will resoundingly endorse this nomination and send the message to friend and foe alike that while we have our disagreements, ultimately what unites us around this very qualified nominee in this hour of war is much greater than what divides us." Note to Joe, Dr. Rice has been among the most divisive, duplicitous, awful figure in this administration. If there is anything that deserves to be a divisive issue it is the confirmation of Dr. Rice to the position of Secretary of State.

I'm sure there were other things that I was thinking of posting last week that I was going to talk about in here but in the middle of this post, Beth called and I went to lunch with her and by the time I got back I completely forgot what they were. Oh well, maybe I'll just try to keep up with the news and stuff this week instead of trying to consolidate it into one blog post.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Openphoto is progressing...

Damn it I hate to lose posts. Blogger can be so crappy sometimes. Trying again...

I've been talking a lot about the openphoto.net project that I found with the help of Fark recently. As I mentioned, the site has a bunch of problems (it is still designated an alpha) but it seems that progress is being made. I have been emailing back and forth a bit with openphoto's site designer, Michael Jastremski, for a couple of days and I have volunteered my services with writing the site's documentation and help files and with any html work. I'm obviously not a pro at html but I can do some stuff (I did build this site after all) but I think I'm a decent enough writer and I can pretty much figure out how to use something if I fool around with it enough. Michael has written back that he would be interested in my help with the wiki and the html so I'll be doing some work on there.

I'm kind of excited because there really isn't anything else like it on the net anywhere (I spent a lot of time looking for free places to store and display my images recently so I know). I'm not sure what his situation with servers or storage or whatever is, I'm not sure how he's paying for everything or what his plans for growth are; however, I do know that it needs some love and the bugs need to be taken care of or people won't use it. Dave mentioned that he had some complaints with openphoto (bugs and such) and if anyone else who reads this has any other complaints or suggestions, please let me know and I'll pass them on.

Anyhow, there are a lot people posting a lot of great photos on openphoto so you should definitely go check it out. You can search my username (lanemik) to see my photos but for now you will only see 12 of them because you get a broken link when you click on the "more" button (another bug). You can also search out the word "tacoma" because all my pictures so far have been of Tacoma and I have set that as a keyword.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Search Goodness...

Big couple of days for surfers of the interweb thingy to end up on my site. Here are a few of the search terms that got people to at ease in the past couple of days:
Yes, that's right, I am the numero uno, the top dog, the first result that you get when you go to MSN search and search out the term sex slaves. Sex slaves. Nice.


Yes! Portishead is going to be putting out another album soon!

Sgt. Falafel O'Reilly takes on Central America...

Well, Falafel Bill takes on a guest on his radio show that has the audacity to state the fact that Loofah boy has never been in the military and never been in combat. As to be expected, Capt. Heavy Breathing cuts off the caller and tells him to shove it in pure no spin style.

Have a listen!

Gah! I'm being so lazy right now...

I don't know what the deal is. I can barely get myself out of bed in the mornings these days. The house is a wreck, I really haven't done much with my master's class that just started, and I haven't worked out in a week. I am making sure that the other living things in the house (you know ... the cats) are being taken care of, cleaned up, fed, and loved. Other than that I just sat around and watched the Sopranos all weekend long. Well, I'm done with the 4th season so I guess I got that out of the way. I'm not depressed or anything, I'm just ... blah.

Seriously, I've got to get my act in gear. The housekeeper comes tomorrow afternoon and ... ironically ... I don't want the house to be a complete and total disaster when she comes. I also want to get our room straightened out and the downstairs all put back together after all the Christmas excitement. Oh and I need to get my butt in the gym. I keep telling myself that if I've got the time to sit around for hours watching the Sopranos, then I've got the time to go to the gym for an hour. Maybe that'll get me moving today.

What else? The openphoto site still has a ton of bugs. I can tell that there have been some improvements, and I think that it could be great eventually, but it just isn't yet. I just now found out the link for my gallery (here) but the thing is that you can see the first 12 pictures and when you click on "more" all you get is an error page. Until the site builder gets more stuff in order, I'm going to have to post my images elsewhere. The thing is that I don't want people to have to log on to view the images, I want them to be able to see relatively large pictures, and I want it to be easier to upload the pictures. So I think that my chore right now will be to find another site.

I suppose I should talk about politics for a second. I got an email asking me to partake in various Bush inauguration protests on my blog. There are a ton of different protests out there. Some blogs will be blacked out on that day, some blogs will change their background to blue. It just all seems so ... passive aggressive. I guess it's an actual visible action so it isn't passive aggressive. Maybe it just seems childish. Like the turn your back on Bush protest or the not one damn dime protest. I don't know, it just seems like it won't really accomplish anything except give ammunition to those who would like to protray the left as crybabies or losers. It's just frustrating. There are so many people out there that really don't know the issues at hand. There are so many that just don't understand that the protesters are doing what they are doing because they have something meaningful to add to the discourse. I guess I just think that it is more effective to engage people rather than to try to shut them out.

I think I may have found a way to visually protest the actions of the President and his cabinet (not the inauguration, protesting the inauguration seems childish) in a way that may stir up a dialog. I read about someone who always wears a blue paper clip on his lapel. When people ask him if he knows that he has a blue paper clip on his lapel, he says "yes." When they ask why he says that he wears it in protest of the actions of the administration such as... I don't know if I'll wear an actual blue paper clip on my clothes (frankly, I'm much more adept at discussing things via writing than in person) but I think I could design one to put on the blog somewhere. I should maybe do that before the election.

So that's my political commentary for the day. Now let's see if I can get myself to do anything else. Anything at all. Anyone got any good way that they get theirselves motivated out there? I don't usually ask my readers for input, but maybe I should more often.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The iRod...

The iRod

Coming soon to an abusive household near you...

The General found this (also here) which inspired Tbogg to say this which inspired Hairy Fish Nuts to create the advertising that I posted above.

People, this is why I love the internets.

I found the image site I'll be using to learn...

Okay, given that I have a brand new dSLR and that I am brand new to the world of the dSLR, I am going to be going through a definite learning process. Obviously, I would definitely like to get as much feedback about my pictures as I can so I want to post them online. As reader and fellow Progressive Blog Alliance member Cosa Nostradamus pointed out in a previous comment thread, posting obscene amounts of images on my site is a major detractor for all of you dial-up folks out there. That, combined with the fact that it's a pain to transfer images to a hosting site and input them into the blog means that I have been looking for better ways to do it.

Well I think I've found the better way. From Fark I learned about a site called www.openphoto.net. When I went to the site I found that they had an OpenPhoto Wiki that said:
The Open Photo Project (http://openphoto.net) is a free stock photo community devised and supervised by Michael Jastremski (http://oldtimeynerd.net).

Owing largely to years of prior research, the goal of o2 is to unite photographers and users through Creative Commons licensing.

* free image storage
* free stock photo library
* integrated licensing
* syndication tools
* open source
* your own (username.openphoto.net) website

Well, for my learning purposes I decided that was right up my alley. I can post photos, as many as I want, to the site where people can search through them, comment on them, and use them subject to the Creative Commons liscense that I want. Essentially the photos are free to download and display as long as I am credited and they are not used for commercial purposes. Everyone can choose their liscense for their own photos. So far there are around 1300 photos on the site but it is growing every day.

The other great thing about it is that it lets me set up a journal. The journal entries are tied to a thumbnail of a picture that will take you to an image that is a bit larger and includes all the EXIF information automatically (nice!). From there you can download the full resolution image and you can find other, similar images (based upon the keywords input by the person that uploaded the image).

If I do find myself selling my images eventually, I won't be putting them up on OpenPhoto.net; however, any images that I'm not planning on selling and any of the photos that I take while I'm still learning the ins and outs of the 20D are definitely going to be on there.

So check out my openphoto journal at http://lanemik.openphoto.net and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A flurry of posting...

I guess it's just been too long since I've posted anything political. Maybe my political juices are flowing. Maybe it's because there is just so much audacity within the administration that I feel that I just have to comment on it. Bear with me either way.

I've been blogging for a few months now and honestly there is a post or two that I'm particularly proud of; however, my posts pale in comparison to this post by Rude Pundit. Rude Pundit's post would be my blogosphere post of the week in serious contention for post of the month or even post of the quarter if I had such a thing as post of the week, month, or quarter. It is everything that blogging should be: intriguing, naughty enough that the New York Times wouldn't print it using the New York Post's printing presses, and has a very important message. It is, in short, entertaining and enlightening all at the same time.

I'd consider reading it if I were you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

I love it...

The mega right-wingers over at Free Republic (that's Freepers to you and me Danny) have just heard that St. Mel (Gibson) has praised eeek! Michael Moore (the Devil incarnate) and has also committed the sin of sins by questioning the war in Iraq. It's difficult to tell which is worse since in their eyes apparently one reinforces the other; however, the discussion is priceless. It goes something like this:
NuttyWingerName: Did anyone hear that Mel said good things about Michael Moore and bad things about the war in Iraq?

UltraWinger: No way dude. I'm totally boycotting him!

UltraMegaWinger: Mel can't fool us with the Passion, he's a dirty liberal. Boycott Mel!

And on and on. It's just funny how they couldn't get enough of Mel for the whole "Crouching Jesus, Hidden Agenda" thing, but now that he's said two sentences that they don't like, they want to see that he never works in this town again. Just goes to show that if you don't fall in lockstep they want to keep you from saying anything at all.

"Grown accustomed to"?

Profile of Tom Ridge's replacement Nominee Michael Chertoff on ABC News:

Chertoff, 51, has been a federal judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2003 and was the director of the Justice Department's criminal division from 2001 to 2003.

He has been concerned with the terrorist threat against the United States for a long time, and in 1996 argued in an article published in the New Jersey Law Journal titled "Tools Against Terrorism" that law enforcement and prosecutors need greater leeway in their pursuit of suspected terrorists, even if that involved a limiting of some of the civil liberties that Americans have grown accustomed to.


See, it's funny, I was thinking that we have our civil liberties simply because we exist. Thomas Jefferson put it this way:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Why is it that the neocons are more than willing to quote that line when it comes to trying prove that the United States is a theocracy and are uninterested in the meaning of the sentence. We are endowed liberty merely because we exist. We are free because we are. Mr. Chertoff, I am not merely accustomed to civil liberty, I revel in it. I am glad every single day that I have the liberty that the founding fathers granted me and my fellow Americans (or have since been granted in the system the founding fathers built). Our society is based upon our freedoms and our government must acquiesce to them not the other way around.

Anyhow, this is just another unfortunate example of the kind of clones that Bush is filling his administration with. It is proof positive that Bush is completely uninterested in "reaching across the aisle". I'm not a big fan of Clinton partly because I felt that he reached too far to the right; however, he did work for bipartisanship in Washington: Clinton fought for NAFTA for example and he appointed a Republican Senator to be his Secretary of Defense. Bush has shown for the past 4 years that he is only interested in appearing bipartisan insofar as it will get him re-elected. This nomination is another in the long line of padding his cabinet with yes men and women.

The first of many EOS 20D pictures...

I am really going to have to set up a photoblog. I know that I said that the pictures were going to ease up, but I figured that people would be interested in seeing my first EOS 20D posting.

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Beth and Reid posing for the crazy camera guy.

The 20D is great. Very quick startup, very fast focusing ... and very big. I'm definitely not used to the size of the thing but I'm certain that I'll get used to it eventually. I've got it at work with me today in the hopes that I'll have a chance to sneak some pictures in later on. I even brought my new tripod with me. If I'm here until sunset, I'll get to have some sweet views of Rainer here on post. The colors are wonderful generally. If not, I'm going to head straight for the narrows bridge and see what I can get. I may head downtown and get some shots there too. I may not be able to get all of that in one day granted.

Anyhow, I'm excited.

Monday, January 10, 2005

I finally got it! My Canon EOS 20D is here!

My new camera!

Find out more from Digital Camera Preview

Super-sweet. My 20D (see picture above) has arrived! I have all kinds of plans for what I want to do with it in the future. The plan is to take about 6 months to really learn all about the camera, to really delve deeply into all of its features and its limitations. After that, I'm going to get serious about shooting and selling pictures and doing photo contests. Ultimately, I want this to be a self-sustaining hobby or even something that I can make money with.

But for now, I've got the camera and I'm hella excited. I'll post links to pictures as I take them for a while I'm sure. I have to wait for the battery to charge first.

P.S. If there are any camera nerd types lurking around, that isn't the lens that I've got. It came with the EF-S 17-85mm IS lens.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

When one cat just isn't enough...

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Meet Cat Stevens!

Well we thought that since we got one cat, we may as well get two! Beth stopped by the pound one day (actually the same day that we were going to meet Sierra from LaTricia who we met on Craigslist) and called me to tell me about a cat that she fell in love with. It was a little boy kitten that the pound said was about 2.5 months old. Of course, since it was a stray it had no name. And what better name for a boy cat is there than Stevens? Get it, Cat Stevens.

Anyhow, Cat Stevens has had a pretty bad case of roundworm and has had diarrhea since we've known him. We took him to the vet right away and they looked him over and kept him for a night. As it turns out Cat Stevens is a very scrawny 5 month old kitten with lots of worms. The vet was afraid that he may have Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). Since both roundworms and FIP are infectious to other cats the vet said that we should keep Stevens quarantined for a couple of weeks. There isn't any good way to test for FIP apparently and the test that the vet did do was inconclusive so we're supposed to just keep an eye out for signs. Among them are listlessness or loss of apetite. Believe you me, Stevens eats enough for two regular sized cats (he's got to feed the worms you know) and he responds to catnip as if it were speed: chasing his tail, running, jumping, playing, and just generally going nuts.

So, our thought is that we have a cute cat with worms. Well, we think he's cute anyhow. Hopefully Sierra will agree.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Argh! I can't stand Michael Medved!

So it's my first political post in a while. I may be disappointing the good folks over at the Progressive Blog Alliance due to my lack of posting; however, Beth is very glad my blog has taken a turn for the non-political. Just so you know, my plan is to start up a photoblog that will, in part, be political. The catch is that, as I see it in my head at this point, there won't be any words on the as yet un-named photoblog so the pictures will have to speak for themselves. At ease is destined for a smattering of politics now and again, but it will mainly be about my life.

Anywho, I simply can't stand Michael Medved. There is a guy in my office that plays the Seattle AM conservative radio station all day long. It's just soft enough to barely hear which means you unconsciously tend to try to tune it in for some reason. I get to hear the drug-induced bloviating of Limbaugh; the inane, pseudo intellecutal drivel of Medved; and the insane, spittle-flinging rants of Michael Savage (who thinks the tsunami that killed 150,000+ people wasn't a tragedy) on a daily basis. If I were to work late, I could hear the falafel king and the vapid, sophist philistinism of Laura Ingraham. Is it any wonder I try to leave the office as soon as possible every day?

Anywho, the only Medved snippet that I can think of was when I was voluntarily listening to him on the "America Right" channel on the XM radio. He was debating a homosexual on the issue of homosexual marriage. Basically Medved's position was that homosexual marriage was the slippery slope toward NAMBLA legitimacy. He argued (presumably straight-faced) that if two consenting adults of the same sex were allowed by the state to marry, then the state would not be able to disallow a man and a boy from getting married. My presumption is that if you agree with Medved (or worse if you think that homosexual marriage is the precursor to beastiality or marriage to inanimate objects -- "do you Tom take this hubcap to be your lawfully wedded ... uh ... thing?") then any arguments to the contrary won't matter. That said, there are legitimate reasons that our government does not allow marriages with children not the least of which is to protect children -- who wouldn't necessarily know any better -- from sexual predators or being reared as sex slaves. Of course marriage is a contract and the last I checked one couldn't enter a contract with an animal or an inanimate object. Medved was, of course, not interested in logic; rather Medved was interested in finding a particularly emotional way of arguing a hot-button topic prior to the election so as to play on the fears of his listeners.

He's a fraud and an ultra-conservative of the worst kind.

Oh yeah and here's another thing that pissed me off. Medved argued with all of the seriousness that his trademark matter-of-fact tone could muster that since the members of the US military were volunteers they automatically became complicit in any ongoing military operations and therefore criticising said military operation is equivalent to criticising the troops. So it shows that Liberals hate America QED. I think my response was a very loud "Fuck you!" and to turn the radio. Medved was (and still does) use the people in the military to advance his arguments. If anyone on the left were to argue in a similar way they would immediately be labled a traitor and sentenced to the wrath of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders. That this particular argument of Medved's and many others like it are fallacious is hidden in a shroud of über-patriotism and a smooth, matter-of-fact tone. If you disagree with his argument you are either an America hater, an ultra-crazy liberal, stupid, or a combination of all three.

At any rate, I don't like him. Thank goodness for streaming radio stations and good headsets!


You may have noticed some squirly stuff going on with my layout recently. Note to self, do not put the following on the #main class in the stylesheet: overflow:hidden. Just that one little snippet caused me a couple of hours of tweaking my code to figure out what was wrong.

Stupid CSS.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Where oh where could my little Canon Be?

According to the fine people over at UPS, my camera is in (drumroll please)...

Hodgkins, Illinois!

Hodgkins, IL

Hodgkins, Illinois rated better than Hodgkin's
disease by 4 out of 5 people!

Dispite unfortunately sharing the same name with a cancer of the lymph system that is diagnosed in 7100 people each year in the United States alone I'm sure Hodgkins, Il is a very nice town. It is a suburb of Chicago (and really, what suburb isn't a wonderful place) located off of interstate 55 just 13 miles southwest of Chicago. As it is a suburb directly off the interstate near a very large city, I'm certain that Hodgekins, IL is absolutely chock full of fast food and sit down chain restaurants (a la Applebees...mmmm Applebees). In fact, rumor has it that if you were to visit all the fast food and chain restaurants in Hodgkins, you would travel nearly half the distance to the moon!

Additionally, Hodgkins has everything you'll need to satisfy your burning shopping desire. There is a Wal-Mart (who doesn't love Wal-Mart?), a Sam's Club, a Dress Barn and even a Dress Barn for Women! In fact there are so many stores and restaurants (nearly a dozen of each!) that it would be ridiculous to even try to mention them here. Instead, you should saunter on over to the Hodgkins Illinois Restaurants and Shopping page that the kind residents of Hodgkins have set up. Thanks Hodgkinites!

While you're in Hodgkins enjoying your McGriddle or your Applebees Riblets you would probably be remis if you missed out on the opportunities that await you in the hustle and bustle that is Chicago. Make sure to get started early particularly on a week day. If you catch the traffic at just the right time, those 13 miles to Chicago will fly by in 2-and-a-half hours flat! Once you're in Chicago, you should definitely take a ride on the El (that's elevated train to you and me Danny). Those trains take you to all kinds of fun places like Cabrini Greene and the Robert Taylor Homes. Why, you could spend all day just walking around mingling with the locals there! Golly, what a good idea those block grants that Nixon Gave to Chicago for "interstates" was. Thanks Dick!

Nixon meeting with a very important dignitary,
the King of Rock and Roll.

Once you've had your fill of Cabrini Green or the Robert Taylor Homes you should go and check out the bastion of higher learning, the veritable wonder of the western world, the modern-day ... um ... temple of education (and my *cough* alma mater *cough*), the Illinois Institute of Techonology. Stroll down the tiny urban campus and gaze upon the wonderful architecture of Mies van der Rohe.

Can you imagine what kind of genius it took to design a building like Perlstein Hall? Mr. van der Rohe, I salute you!

When you're done contemplating the intracasies of buildings shaped like boxes (wowee wow!) you should be sure to check out some of the food options you'll find in Chicago. Some say that Chicago pizza is the best, and I'm not one to argue with them; however, most people that say that like Pizzaria Uno or Giordanos. Go to one of these mediocre pizza joints if you want, but know this, the college students (the kings of finding the best pizza at the best prices) always get their Chicago pizza from Connie's. I should know, I was one of those college students. If pizza isn't your style, you should bravely head over to a burrito joint called El Faro for a burrito the size of a horse's head (I'm sure there's no horse parts in them either -- at least I pretend there aren't). After a massive meal you'll want to do what any other Chicagoan would do, get a 64oz pitcher of milkshake and gorge on a massive 10-scoop ice cream dish called the earthquake at a place called the Zephyr Cafe on the near North side of town. I can't imagine why I gained weight in college.

You'll need several days to digest all that food so you'll miss all the other sites. The aquarium is okay, the Field Museum is so-so, the art museum is neat if you like lions, and the Museum of Science and Industry is ... well that one's pretty cool. But you've got digesting to do and by the time you're done, we'll have to move on. So check in tomorrow to find out Where in the world is my new Canon!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Miller Pottery Pot of the Week!

In an effort to show a little solidarity with my brother James (that's Bud to you and me) and maybe to drive a few sales over his way so he can maybe buy some luxuries (like food for example) I've decided to post on at ease the pot I find most compelling as the Pot of the Week.

A Christmas Pitcher

Bud gave this pitcher to my Mom for Christmas. Isn't it wonderful?

You too can own your very own pot from Miller Pottery. And remember: Buy this pottery and nothing need happen to your family*.

*Not a real threat, just a joke. Please don't come and cart me away to jail. Actually, I'm just quoting Bud so if anyone should be headed for the slammer, it should be him. Come to think of it, that would ensure that he has a roof over his head. But I digress.

Where in the world is my new Canon?

Just yesterday I received confirmation that my new Canon EOS 20D camera (with EF-S 17-85mm lens, 1GB CF card, and misc extras) has shipped. While it is certainly fun for my wife and I to track the package together, I thought it'd be a lot MORE fun if I blogged its journey. I also thought that it'd be fun to post a little about each of the towns that my new camera visits.

So where in the world is my new Canon? Today we have confirmation from UPS that it's in Farmingdale, New York!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

As of 4 Jan 04, my new Canon EOS 20D is in Farmingdale, New York!

So what exactly is there to do in Farmindale? Good question. I should think that first of all, if you are in Farmindale, NY you would be excited to be so close to the famous horror movie town of Amityville, NY. If you're ever in Farminton, maybe you should saunter on over to 112 Ocean Ave in Amityville and gaze upon the Dutch Colonial house that some have called "one of the most documented paranormal cases ever brought to the public eye". Man, that just screams fun, but you'd better do your research first. Try going to either The Amityville Horror - The Cover Up or to The Amityville Horror Online (which bills itself as "the World Wide Web's Largest Website on The Amityville Horror" - it's a no-brainer).

After you've gotten your pants back on (since they were scared off over in Amityville) perhaps you can go "change your life at Farmindale State." With over 78,000 alumni you can rest assured that you will find a legacy of excellence? Wait, a college is patting itself on the back for 78,000 alumni? Wouldn't any number of massive universities have millions or maybe even 10s of millions of alumni? Well I guess that means that those bigger schools have a legacy of excellence that is several orders of magnitude larger than Farmingdale State. You may as well skip that measly little college.

If you're an airplane buff, you can go to Republic Airport in Farmingdale and revel in the fact that you are standing in the very place where Erik Lindbergh (the grandson of another famous Lindbergh) took to the air at precisely 12:15pm on 1 May 2002 in a rickety $289,000 carbon composite, GPS enabled plane to follow in his Grandfather's footsteps and land in Paris. As you wipe the tears that are sure to form in your eyes after you realize just how death-defying a feat this brave soul took upon himself to accomplish, realize that because of him, you may well be the limber, mobile geriatric you always wanted to be some day for Erik Lindbergh flew that "epic" flight partly to raise awareness of rheumatoid arthritis. Perhaps now that we're aware of it, we'll someday find a cure. Thanks Erik!

No problemo!

That's a full day's worth of activities for sure! So go and reast your weary head and stay tuned for our next Where in the World is My New Canon adventure!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Buddhist Temple

One last test should just about do it. I think I'm really going to like this flickr thing. It lets you post pictures easily and in the exact format you want. Methinks atease will morph into a photoblog eventually.


Self-Portrait, originally uploaded by Mike Lane.

Testing with a landscape photo.

Testing 2

Seattle Fireworks 2
Seattle Fireworks 2, originally uploaded by Mike Lane.

I'm not sure if I like this if I can't adjust the size to be as large as I want.
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