Saturday, July 30, 2005

An odd and slightly disturbing little "trick" my 11 year old nephew showed me last night was how to fold a $20 bill so that it shows a picture of the twin towers burning on 9/11. The trick also works with a $10 bill, but with not as accurate a depiction, and to lesser extent with a $5 (*see conspiracy theory below for explanation).

Before taking the time to scan a bill to show here, I figured if I googled "20 dollar bill twin towers burning" I'd find somebody who's already done the scan. Here's what I found:

The full illustrated instructions on how to fold a bill into this sick picture can be found at It turns out that if we'd looked at the front of the bill, we'd have also seen the Pentagon burning on 9/11 too.

Now, if simple instructions to a parlor trick are not enough for you, and you want the full conspiracy theory of why the image is there (there are no coincidences, only conspiracies with clues that only the highly intelligent can decipher), the site you want is On this site I learned that the old-style $20 bill had a picture of the Oklahoma City Federal Building on fire. Coincidence? These guys think not...

So, why do the twin towers images on the $10 and $5 not look as clear as the one on the $20? Because you must put them into sequence: The $20 bill represents impact, the $10 is burning, and the $5 is the remains.

Friday, July 29, 2005

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed..."

And so begins Dan McKay's winning entry into the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest sponsored by San Jose State University, which rewards the worst opening sentence of an imagined novel.

My favorite among this year's honorable mentions was this little gem, submitted by Lawrence Person:

"Inside his cardboard box, Greg heated a dented can of Spaghetti-O's over a small fire made from discarded newspapers, then cracked open his last can of shoplifted generic beer to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his embarkation on a career as a freelance writer."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." - Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President (Republican, 1901-09)

A few weeks ago we noted the passing of Admiral James Stockdale, who was a POW in Vietnam, and later Vice Presidential Candidate running-mate of Ross Perot. Stockdale, who had been in Vietnam from the start of the war, later called the Gulf of Tonkin incident a "false pretense" for war. My posting here noted the similarities of our current war based on false pretenses.

A few days ago another early leader of our efforts in Vietnam died. General William Westmoreland commanded our forces during the crucial early years of the war and was largely responsible for the escalation of it.

Each time he got more troops he'd tell President Johnson, "If we can just have a few more, we can win this thing." The lie of his leadership was shown to the public in 1968 when U.S. forces were surprised by the Tet offensive. As a child I remember hearing the saying, "Westmoreland or Peace." After Tet, he was relieved of his command in Vietnam with a promotion to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Years later, a CBS news documentary suggested that Westmoreland knew that the Viet Cong were stronger than he let on, and lied to get the President and Congress to commit more troops. Westmoreland sued CBS for libel and the case was settled out of court.

Once again, as with the Stockdale story, I'm reliving the history and noting the parallels to the situation in Iraq. Each time we're told that the insurgency is almost under control, another wave of violence erupts. Each new suicide attack being a tiny Tet, exposing the lie of the Generals.

General William Westmoreland has been laid to rest at West Point. "The season of war is gone," an academy chaplain said at the memorial service. "Now he will experience a season of peace."

I hope we can all soon experience a season of peace in this life.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

According to a recent poll, Americans are more likely than others to believe that World War III is coming in their lifetime. Many people believe that WWIII has already begun. What's interesting is that those who hold such beliefs are not critics of the administration, but conservative columnists [example 1, example 2] trying to emphasize the importance of why we must stay in the fight and win the war in Iraq.

Your choice: Do you want this to be the third world war, or do you want this to end now?

In other end-of-the-world news: Tomorrow is my 44th birthday.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"... and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the Supreme Court..." - U.S. Constitution, Section 2, Clause 2, the powers of the President

Okay, Bush's first Supreme Court nominee is a little-known fellow called John G. Roberts. No surprise: he's fairly conservative. We wouldn't and shouldn't have expected anything different. And, if he's not confirmed by the Senate, we won't get anything terribly different from the next nominee.

And so the conservatives on the TV and the radio and in the papers are already screaming about the "obstructionists" in the Senate who will drag their feet by extending the confirmation process. They would like the Senate to simply rubber stamp any nominee the President sends them.

Except for this pesky little thing called the Constitution. Democratic Senators are not obstructionist: they are doing their job. The President did not heed their advice, but he still needs their Consent. That's the law.

Roberts is comparatively young - only about 50. He could be on the bench for the next 30-40 years. The American public deserves to know who he is, and where he stands on a few issues, before we give him a job that will last a generation.

Yes, Abortion is the big one that most pundits are talking about. We won't get a pro-choice nominee out of this President. Not going to happen. That's not the main thing I'm worried about.

Some of the other things I've heard that concern me more regard Roberts' views on school prayer (he thinks it's a good idea) and flag burning (he thinks it's unconstitutional). At this point it's only bits and pieces. It's the Senate's job to ask the tough questions, put the puzzle together, and find out exactly what kind of man the President has sent them.

Only after they've given it their full and complete consideration can they give their Advice and [perhaps] their Consent.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Back from vacation... three-and-a-half days in Portland... driving up the historic highway through the Columbia Gorge... visiting with J.D. Chandler, author of Mud Bay and member of the Morro Four.

In the news on our return: FBI Monitored Web Sites for 2004 Protests []. The agents doing the "monitoring" weren't just any agents; they were members of the Bureau's coutnerterrorism unit.

When did peaceful protest, once allowed under the 1st ammendment to our constitution, become a terrorist act? Oh, yeah, that's right: when the Patriot Act became law.

"It's one thing to monitor protests and protest organizers," said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice. "But quite another thing to refer them to your counterterrorism unit."

(As always, if you need a password to get into, or any other site, please visit

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Kansas' "BTK" killer, Dennis Rader, confessed to his crimes last week in matter-of-fact testimony that I'm sure you've all read or heard by now. Today, his house was auctioned off, and was purchased by a local bar owner for $90,000 - far more than the assessed value of $57,000.

Some read this story as shocking because of who lived in the house. They're sickened by the idea of buying a part of this type of history. They're even more disgusted at the idea of living in the former house of a mass murderer.

I was shocked when I read this too, but for different reasons. Living, as I do, in California's Silicon Valley, my reaction is, "A three bedroom house for $90,000! And that's over the assessed value? Maybe I should move to Kansas?!" Hell, for a $90,000 home I'd let a mass murderer stay in the extra bedroom.

"Kan. Club Owner Buys BTK Killer's House" - Washington Post
While politicians and pundits argue about replacing the progressive income tax with a flat tax, the dirty little secret of recent reforms is the flat tax is already here. Thanks to Bush's latest cuts benefiting only the wealthiest Americans, the top fifth of taxpayers now pay 19 percent of their incomes in taxes, while the bottom fifth pay 18 percent.

The result of the Bush tax cuts, combined with Republican budget cuts aimed at services to the poor and middle class, levels of income inequality in America are at their highest levels since 1929.

According to David Cay Johnston, NY Times tax reporter for the past 10 years, and author of, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich, and Cheat Everyone Else, "The tax system is becoming a tool to turn the American dream of prosperity and reward for hard work into an impossible goal for tens of millions of Americans and into a nightmare for many others."

Read more about it: COMMENTARY - Rich Pervert Tax Code for Themselves (

Monday, July 11, 2005

Personal notes: This past weekend was mostly spent at the hospital with my mother. Actually, it started on Friday when I took Leslie (my wife) in for a previously scheduled procedure and ended with both my mother and Leslie's grandmother each in the hospital.

Leslie's procedure was for an ultrasound-guided needle aspiration. That is, to have the fluid drained from a cyst that was causing a breast lump. Everything is good, the procedure went well, and there's extremely little chance that this incident is a sign of anything like breast cancer developing.

My parents happened to be visiting as well, mostly to see our nephews (their grandsons) who are out for the summer. On Saturday morning, when we thought we were meeting them for brunch, came the call to meet them in the emergency room instead.

My mother had woken up shaking violently and unable to eat or drink anything. At the ER, they discovered she was de-hydrated and that her temperature was too low. They brought up her temperature and gave her fluids and started working on the cause. At first they thought maybe a kidney infection, and by about 6:30 PM - after nine hours in the ER - they checked her into a regular room for observation "over night."

On Sunday they concluded that the infection was in her blood, and decided that she should stay there "for a few days" until the infection is completely gone, and be sure it does not lodge itself into any other organs. She's looking much better, and feeling good, but not having a great time there.

Meanwhile, back to Saturday, Leslie called her parents (in Malibu) to tell them what was going on, and they told her that her 92-year-old grandmother had just gone into the hospital with "a touch of" pneumonia. She's got advanced Alzheimer's already, so this does not look good at all.

We had been planning to go on vacation later this week, but will likely cancel that so she (or we) can go down to L.A. and (hopefully) see her grandmother before it's too late.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I found out about this morning's terror attacks in London at about 7 AM when I arrived at my first meeting of the day. "Have you heard the news yet?" I was asked when I walked up. And so I've been picking up bits of information all for the past seven hours as I've been running around in a busy day.

"The heroic mujahideen have carried out a blessed raid in London," an Al Qaida web site apparently has posted on it. "Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters."

Fortunately, that message is a lie. The British, unfortunately, have lived through much worse and came together today to help their fellow citizens get through this attack with their resolve unshaken, and [perhaps] even strengthened.

Far from "burning with fear", Britons are fighting back. One statement I just heard on the radio (I'm sorry that I didn't catch who the speaker was) came from a critic of the Iraq war and the Blair government, but he stood up for Britain. "We don't like our government either," he said. "But we have better ways of dealing with it."

Now, as we did on 9/11/01, the civilized world stands together on this point. We may not agree on many things, but what we do agree on is the power of the ballot over the bomb.

London will survive long after the war on terror is forgotten.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Who was he? Why was he here?

Retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral James Stockdale has died at age 81. Stockdale is best remembered as Ross Perot's 1992 running mate, but it's the reasons why Perot chose him that had already earned him an important place in U.S. history.

Stockdale was an early critic of LBJ's handling of the Viet Nam war, and the reasons for it. In statements foreshadowing our current war, Stockdale disputed the official version of events at the Gulf of Tonkin (an attack on a U.S. Navy ship was our excuse for going to war; the attack is now widely accepted to have been a lie). "I literally led the initial strike of a war I knew was under false pretenses," he later said.

Stockdale was taken prisoner and spent more than seven years at the notorious "Hanoi Hilton" POW camp, including four in solitary confinement. In a show of inner strength reminiscent of Papillon, he prevailed, and helped an underground resistance of American soldiers in the POW camp that probably saved many of their lives.

You know I'm not a militarist type of guy, but you don't have to be a right-winger to recognize the heroism and importance of Admiral Stockdale. RIP.

Read the full story at Reuters

In the lighter side of the news, Bono gets his trousers back.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Yesterday we went to Monterey for the big fireworks spectacular with my nephews. A bit of a crazy scene there at the beach, with a few too many drunken teenagers aiming bottle rockets at the back of my head, but the [official] fireworks were great and it's always nice to spend the day with the boys.

And so, today's links are to my nephew's web sites...

The Official Frostbyte Web Site tell the story of the band, Frostbyte. You haven't heard of them? You just aren't going to the right Connecticut middle school talent nights, are you? Well, Frostbyte's broken up now, but the members are still ranting at each other through the guestbook. Andy (guitar, vocals, songwriter) is my nephew who'll be 14 this summer.

Keith's Site also has some of his musical accomplishments featured in the pictures, but also has a bit of politics featured. The new phrase he's coined and is trying to get into general usage is "Don't Bush me." Did somebody lie to you, get in your face and do something really stupid? The new response is, "Don't Bush me!" Other uses: "I've been Bushed," or, "Watch out, he'll Bush you every time." Keith will be 10 this summer.

It's great when they're out in California for a visit.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

In the news: Official secrecy reaches historic high in the U.S. (International Herald Tribune) - Our government is now keeping secrets from us (classifying documents) at a rate of 125 per minute. Meanwhile, the rate of de-classification of old secrets has "slowed to a relative crawl, from a high of 204 million pages in 1997 to just 28 million pages last year."

Sure, security issues in war time drive a large part of this, but that's just the start. In 2001 Dubya extended the power to classify documents to the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Agriculture. "At the Agriculture Department employees can visit the agency's Web site and easily print out a bright-yellow 'sensitive security information' cover sheet."

Just what do you think the USDA or the EPA want to keep from you? In what new and creative ways are they letting industry destroy our environment and poison our food supply with genetic modification? Now we may never know.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

For your holiday weekend reading enjoyment, I've posted a new article in my column at

Some Thoughts on July 4, 2005 - "On this July Fourth I will be celebrating the radical ideas that shaped our constitution and the founding of our nation, not the current actions of our government. What do I think the true patriot should be doing for the next year? Read and see."

Friday, July 01, 2005

Taiwan bowled over by toilet-theme restaurant

"It may take a strong stomach to eat curry or chocolate ice cream out of a toilet bowl, but a commode-themed restaurant in Taiwan does booming business serving up just that."

You just don't want to know about their urinal soda fountain.
July First - The start of a new Fiscal Year!

Okay, so that's not a very exciting way to begin after not posting for nearly two months, but that's about it.

Since you've last heard from me I've been budgeting hell. We lost a few people in the cutting necessary to make it to this FY (that's short for Fiscal Year), and I had to be in on a few of those.

I've also acquired a few more duties in that shuffle (but no additional pay - it was budget cutting, after all), moved my office to another site, discovered some minor bit of corruption at that site, and started to clean it up.

So, I was understandably busy and a bit depressed over the whole mess.

But, today is New Year's Day, as far as the accounting department is concerned, I survived it with my income intact, and it's time for a fresh start. Happy New Year to you, and have a wonderful summer.

I'll be back shortly with something interesting to say. Meanwhile, I've done some minor re-designing of the web site, so start clicking on the main menu to the left.

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