Tree City, USA

Yesterday I spent the day in the yard — mowing, trimming, edging, raking, hosing — and it suddenly occurred to me: my little piece of California is something like 3,000 square feet, a miniscule fraction of an acre. And yet, on this little piece of land in the middle of the third largest city in California, there are a whopping seven trees.

When pets and geeks collide

Yesterday, while doing some computing on the couch, I stepped away for a minute. When I got back, this is what greeted me.

Maybe I should give him his own account on my laptop.

On registration and pledges

I hate having to register for things. Especially websites. You’ll note that I don’t require any kind of registration for commenting here on my blog — I just moderate the comments. But so many blogs now require registration, and I refuse to do it.

Welcome to the Third Dimension

There is some chatter in the Mac world today about the potential for Apple’s new version of the Mac OS to sport what they are calling “3D interfaces.”

Realities of Planet Earth

The BBC’s “Planet Earth”, now showing on Discovery Channel, is lush and beautiful… and ugly.
Harsh realities of life and death are facts of existence, but that doesn’t mean that I want to watch them in high definition. Footage of cubs being hunted and killed by wolves, seals snatched and devoured by sharks… I am skipping swathes of this show with the remote. And just now, my heart was broken by footage of a baby elephant, separated from its mother and trying to follow her path… but going in the wrong direction.
There is absolutely no way I am going to make it through multiple hours of this.

The San Jose Story

I found a cache of old cassette tapes last night, and this morning began listening to them — an exercise in nostalgia. One of the tapes held bits and pieces of some old episodes of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion”, and I came across a segment that aired live from San Jose.

Sex Sells

I just turned on the television and some “paid programming” was on — and here’s what I heard before I changed the channel:

I just whip this thing out, then I clean up my mess, and no one even knows.

I thought for a minute that I had tuned in the adult pay-per-view channel.

The things you see when you don’t have a camera

So, there I am, sitting in front of my house yakking on the phone about my crappy day, when I hear this strange sound — a rumble, sort of like a helicopter, but not as sharp.
Then I looked up.

It’s not the size, it’s the seats

The new Airbus A380 is so huge that most airports can’t accommodate it; a double-decker that is 80 feet high and has a wingspan wider than a football field. This raises some questions in a mind such as mine.

Molly Ivins: Democracy and Diversity

A few years ago, I was working on a video presentation that featured ordinary Americans and their views on how diversity and democracy are intertwined. I wanted to include at least one “name” in the video, so I dispatched my friend Sara — who knows everyone — to Molly Ivins’ house in Austin for a quick videotaping session.
When Molly passed away recently, I started looking for the video. It took a while, but I found it on an unlabeled disc in the closet. Her voice is weak from time to time, but her conviction about democracy and diversity is strong.
Click the image above to view the video using Quicktime.

Let’s Play Parse the President!

Four years ago today coalition forces launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to remove Saddam Hussein from power. They did so to eliminate the threat his regime posed to the Middle East and to the world.

His use of the terms “coalition forces” and “they” are an attempt to deflect criticism from himself and his administration — they did it; it was a coalition, not just Americans.

Today, the world is rid of Saddam Hussein. And a tyrant has been held to account — for his crimes — by his own people.

Wonder when Bush’s own people will hold him to account?

Nearly 12 million Iraqis have voted in free elections, under a democratic constitution that they wrote for themselves. And their democratic leaders are now working to build a free society that upholds the rule of law, that respects the rights of its people, that provides them security and is an ally in the war on terror.

Note his use of the word “democratic.” In the conservative Republican lexicon, “democratic” is good. That’s why they refer to the Democratic Party as “Democrat Party.”

So with our help, Iraq’s government is carrying out an aggressive plan to secure Baghdad. And we’re continuing to train the Iraqi security forces so that they ultimately take full responsibility for the security of their own people.

This paragraph continues the semantic trend of the White House in an attempt to shift blame and responsibility to the Iraqis. This makes it sound as if everything that’s happened is the Iraqi’s fault and responsibility, and the American troops are there to “help out.”

I want to stress that this operation is still in the early stages; still in the beginning stages. Fewer than half of the troop reinforcements we are sending have arrived in Baghdad.

“After four years of disaster, I am buying myself more time by saying that things are in the ‘early stages.'”

The new strategy will need more time to take effect. And there will be good days and there will be bad days ahead as the security plan unfolds.

Things are going to continue to be horrific but don’t criticize because I already warned you.

Last month, Iraq’s Council of Ministers approved a law that would share oil revenues among Iraqi people. The Iraqi legislature passed a $41 billion budget that includes $10 billion for reconstruction and capital improvements.

See? They are democratic. They’re spending huge sums of money. And most of it will go to Halliburton — no longer an American company, unfortunately.

As Iraqis work to keep their commitments, we have important commitments of our own. Members of Congress are now considering an emergency war spending bill. They have a responsibility to ensure that this bill provides the funds and the flexibility that our troops need to accomplish their mission. They have a responsibility to pass a clean bill that does not use funding for our troops as leverage to get special interest spending for their districts. And they have a responsibility to get this bill to my desk without strings and without delay.

“Because if they don’t, they’re letting the terrorists win.”

It could be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home. That may be satisfying in the short run, but I believe the consequences for American security would be devastating. If American forces were to step back from Baghdad before it is more secure, a contagion of violence could spill out across the entire country. In time, this violence could engulf the region.

“I created a huge hornet’s nest, so don’t smack it with a stick.”

The terrorists could emerge from the chaos with a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they had in Afghanistan, which they used to plan the attacks of September 11, 2001. For the safety of the American people, we cannot allow this to happen.

I had a sudden flash when he said this: the entire Congress locked up in the Capitol, with George Bush standing outside the door doing an impression of the old phantom in “Poltergeist II”: “You’re all gonna DIE in there!! They’re gonna send planes to kill you! Only I can save you!”
Meanwhile, with one sentence, he managed to make it seem like he liberated and cleaned out Afghanistan… when in fact, it is now deteriorating into a worse situation than when he first sent troops in.

The United States military is the most capable and courageous fighting force in the world. And whatever our differences in Washington, our troops and their families deserve the appreciation and the support of our entire nation.

“If you are against me, you are against our troops and their families. Besides, they’re happy over there in Iraq. At least mold and cockroaches don’t infest their barracks in the middle of the desert.”

Thank you.

No, thank you.

To sum up: “Like I said many times before in the last four years, we’re just at the beginning of all this and things will get worse before it gets better. Stay the course. Thanks.”

Return of the bubble

I was thinking of joining Twitter, which is all the rage these days — all the cool kids are doing it! But the description of the service says:

A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?

… and I realized that we have just gone over that fuzzy line of utility with the web. Who in the hell is the least bit interested in what I am doing right now? I’m sitting in my cubicle, working, drinking tea, and reading newspaper websites.
That little tidbit of topical information was probably worth an IPO, don’t you think?