September 14, 2007
In the course of just 100 intense years, comics have displayed the personalities of some deeply odd people …Why is this? Perhaps the medium combines the privacy for artists to sit alone at their drawing board– a little incubation chamber for their neuroses and quirks– with a wide daily audience for the resulting work product. Or, maybe the pressure of putting out a daily strip for decades simply drove them nuts.
September 9, 2007
The Great Global Warming Swindle, was a very popular rebuttal of the idea that Global Warming is caused by humans. … This film, which consists of a lecture presentation and commentary by Chris Merchant a lecturer in geophysics at Edinburgh University takes it apart, piece by piece.
August 26, 2007
From Newsweek: Into Thin Air He’s still out there. The hunt for bin Laden.
The frustrations of the snake eaters are well illustrated by the recollections of Adam Rice, the operations sergeant of a Special Forces A-Team working out of a safe house near Kandahar in 2002. … In July 2002, a CIA case officer told Rice that a figure believed to be Mullah Omar, the one-eyed chief of the Taliban, had been tracked by aerial drone to a location in the Shahikot Valley, a short flight to the north. The Taliban chief and his entourage would be vulnerable to a helicopter assault, but the Americans had to move quickly. Rice was not optimistic about getting timely permission. Whenever he and his men moved within five kilometers of the safe house, he says, they had to file a request form known as a 5-W, spelling out the who, what, when, where and why of the mission. Permission from headquarters took hours, and if shooting might be involved, it was often denied. To go beyond five kilometers required a CONOP (for “concept of operations”) that was much more elaborate and required approval from two layers in the field, and finally the Joint Special Operations Task Force at Baghram air base near Kabul. To get into a fire fight, the permission of a three-star general was necessary. “That process could take days,” Rice recalled to NEWSWEEK. He often typed forms while sitting on a 55-gallon drum his men had cut in half to make a toilet seat. “We’d be typing in 130-degree heat while we’re crapping away with bacillary dysentery and sometimes the brass at Kandahar or Baghram would kick back and tell you the spelling was incorrect, that you weren’t using the tab to delimit the form correctly.”
From Rolling Stone: The Great Iraq Swindle
According to the most reliable estimates, [The US] have doled out more than $500 billion for the war, as well as $44 billion for the Iraqi reconstruction effort. And what did America’s contractors give us for that money? They built big steaming shit piles, set brand-new trucks on fire, drove back and forth across the desert for no reason at all and dumped bags of nails in ditches. For the most part, nobody at home cared, because war on some level is always a waste. But what happened in Iraq went beyond inefficiency, beyond fraud even. This was about the business of government being corrupted by the profit motive to such an extraordinary degree that now we all have to wonder how we will ever be able to depend on the state to do its job in the future. If catastrophic failure is worth billions, where’s the incentive to deliver success?
Where is the American guerilla of the Revolution? Overcome, by managers driven by profit as god, who keep themselves safe from blame and risk.
In this sense, I am a Libertarian; use your own money—don’t steal it from taxpayers then bury the theft in paperwork and legal language. Climb down from the White House and pick up the landmine in your own bare hands. Living the idealogy of capitalism isn’t the same as actually doing the work.
Clearly the bureaucracy of cover-your-butt is in the way of actually getting the work done, yes, but, so clearly, those who would practice profit and capitalism have buffered themselves from actually handling the landmines, from actually taking the risks so much, that this is not capitalism, this is not actually hands on work, but this is idealogy of capitalism—all the reward and none of the risk.
This is why America will lose this war.
In this sense, I am a Capitalist; individuals have a right to profit from their own work—but don’t sit your life away as some middle management cog in the business machine and exclaim the virtues of risk and reward. Don’t mistake a salary for profit. It’s better to admit you’re a cog in the machine and not lie to yourself. A lifetime in a risk averse culture living the comfort of someone else’s profit is blindness, hypocrisy, not capitalism.
August 16, 2007
Our family just came back from a week in Whistler, admittedly a village of commercial intentions. Even there, there is pressure to sprawl and suburbs – but you can walk through the heart of the village because it was intended to be ski-able from one end to the other. But I thought even of our own flat spread out city, versus Whistler, which is confined by the mountains around it. As expensive as it is, the thoughts of living in that very human-proportioned space was constant.
Another stunning talk from TED.com that I get through Miro; heres a link to the TED site and the Kunstler talk on suburban wastelands and good design of urban spaces.
August 15, 2007
Ankor Wat was once a sprawling suburb at BBC News. The citizens themselves were architects of the demise.
The large-scale city engineered its own downfall by disrupting its local environment by expanding continuously into the surrounding forests,”
Hey! Planning committee?
June 18, 2007
I found Democracy the other day and discovered TED Talks. Democracy is a media player -Internet TV. So far I like Free Public Domain Movies – The Dancing Pirate is so stupid! – I’d probably take the first fifteen minutes of the movie and expand it to a Broadway Musical. That would be fabulous – and I like Virtual Magician and I like TED Talks. TED Talks is also available at www.ted.com.Mostly I wanted to praise this talk, the first one I have downloaded to view from the TED Talks channel. Thomas Barnett: The Pentagon’s new map for war and peace
In this bracingly honest and funny talk, international security strategist Thomas P.M. Barnett outlines a post-Cold War solution for the foundering US military: Break it in two. He suggests the military re-form into two groups: a Leviathan force, a small group of young and fierce soldiers capable of swift and immediate victories; and an internationally supported network of System Administrators, an older, wiser, more diverse organization that actually has the diplomacy and power it takes to build and maintain peace.
This is an idea that gives me hope for a better world. Win the war, and win the peace. It would certainly be better than the disastrous situation extant now, but I wonder about consequent accusations of cultural hegemony. I suppose one could worry about that when we get there. But let’s get there first.