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August 30, 2008
Off To Sea Once More
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:46 PM * 42 comments

Last night I went to the Lancaster Fair. This is the Coös County Fair. A fine thing.

I’m not going to the Tractor Pull, nor yet the Truck Pull, because I’m taking my daughter down to college. But I did have fun out on the Midway.

First thing, a Blooming Onion. Then Fried Dough. Italian Sausage with Onion. Then more Fair Food. After that, the rides! Starship 2000 (formerly called the Gravitron), a centrifugal force ride. Then The Dream Catcher, which swings you from side to side, while spinning you around. The Twister. The Zipper (a clever thing that hauls you to the top of a thirty foot pole, turns you upside down, and tries to shake you out).

Greasy food, followed by major motion — the perfect thing for an old destroyer sailor!

That reminded me of back in the old Fleet days. We’d come up with an idea, then, of how to get rich after we got out. We’d build an amusement park called Navy Land. First thing, you pay your admission fee. You’re given a ticket in the form of an LES (Leave and Earning Statement). You get about ten feet into the park, and a hairy old DKC (Chief Dispersing Clerk) snatches it out of your hands, says “This is all f*cked up!” and sends you back to pay the admission fee all over again.

We had a ride planned, the North Atlantic Destroyer Ride. You get into an iron box. It spins you around while spraying cold salt water on you, for six months. I forget what else we had planned—on the midwatch you have a lot of time to talk. One of the ways to simulate a midwatch is to hang a couple of Coke bottles around your neck, put on a bridge coat, don’t turn on the bathroom lights, and stand in your shower with the water on full cold from midnight to four a.m.

Out in the world there’s a lot of sites that explain how to simulate Navy life if you miss it after you get out. For example:

Put on the headphones from your stereo (don’t plug them in). Go and stand in front of your stove. Say (to nobody in particular) “Stove manned and ready.” Stand there for 3 or 4 hours. Say (once again to nobody in particular) “Stove secured.” Roll up the headphone cord and put them away.

Put oil instead of water into a humidifier and set to HIGH.

Set your alarm clock to go off at random times through the night. When it goes off, leap out of bed, get dressed as fast as you can then run into the garden and break out the garden hose.

One thing I liked about the Navy (Navy, by the way, stands for Never Again Volunteer Yourself) was the fine gradations of disaster that could be described. For example, the difference between a goat roping and a clusterf*ck (a goat roping is kinda fun to watch if you aren’t involved, while a clusterf*ck is just painful for everyone). There’s AFU, SNAFU, FUBAR, and JANFU. There’s FLAPEX 1. There are the Falcon Codes and the Dolphin Codes.

Sometimes I really miss the Fleet. High North Atlantic, wintertime, in a destroyer. Boy, there isn’t a county fair in the world with rides like that.

August 29, 2008
Katrina—Third Anniversary
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 05:55 PM * 71 comments

Making Light followed this story from the beginning, from the day before Katrina hit New Orleans:

Katrina: Not your usual weather disaster story
28AUG05 O the dreadful wind and rain—They’re talking about this being the kind of storm that can reshape coastlines. Hurricane-force winds could be felt up to 150 miles inland. The Mayor of New Orleans has ordered a mandatory evacuation, and the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi have ordered that all the lanes on the interstates be switched to “outbound.” Best-case scenario for New Orleans still has the levees breaking and the city under fifteen feet of filthy water—and it doesn’t look like we’re going to be a best-case scenario. As of mid-afternoon, the storm’s stats are worse than Hurricane Camille’s—and while Camille was intense, it was also physically small. Katrina is huge.
29AUG05 “Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? ‘Times-Picayune’ Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues” by Will Bunch, in Editor & Publisher. A very strong article which lays out Bush & Co.’s consistent policy of stripping funding from levee maintenance and hurricane preparedness in the Gulf Coast area in order to reallocate those funds to the Department of Homeland Security and the war in Iraq.
Apocalypse deferred; likely damage merely “incredible”
29AUG05 Maybe there’ll be a New Orleans to go back to after all. We can hope.
Then again —
30AUG05 — we may have breathed a sigh of relief for NO too soon:
30AUG05 Footage from yesterday from a helicopter over New Orleans, with local commentary. Needless to say, the flooding is worse today.
30AUG05 Okay, which one do you have stuck in your head?
When the Levee Breaks
Down in the Flood (Crash on the Levee)
Wasn’t That a Mighty Day?
Five Feet High and Risin’
Wade in the Water
Here Comes the Flood
Throw Out the Lifeline
Katrina Info
30AUG05 Scroll down or click through to Katrina for our accumulating collection of links to check-in pages, current info sources, and background articles.
Yahoo News photos
30AUG05 I keep hearing on the news about looting in New Orleans. But what I’m seeing—everybody has digital cameras these days, especially reporters—are pictures of people slogging through filthy water with stashes of food, diapers, bottled beverages, etc.
Gulf coast status report
31AUG05 New Orleans is being abandoned for the time being, by decree of the governor. The whole city’s flooded, and in places the water is twenty feet deep. Survivors in the city’s shelters are going to have to be relocated. Hell, survivors everywhere in the city are going to have to be relocated.
Why everyone didn’t leave
31AUG05 This eye-opening rant by talented Southern writer Cherie Priest on what it’s like to have no money and no options, and no place to go, should be required reading for tsk-tsking newsreaders who’ve never missed a meal in their lives.
01SEP05 Belle Waring:
Say what you like about casting blame for the unfolding tragedy in NO, the bare facts of the matter are these: America suffered a serious attack on Sept. 11, 2001. That was four years ago. I think we had all assumed that in the meantime a lot of wargaming and disaster-mitigation planning and homeland security gearup had been going on. If this is what the Federal and State governments are going to come up with when the suitcase nuke goes off in D.C., then we are well and truly fucked.
You’re Part of Me Still
02SEP05 Fats Domino found.
Another term for it would be “lying sack of shit”
02SEP05 Michael Brown is a man who has no idea what words mean.
Imagine that
02SEP05 Amazingly, it turns out that Baton Rouge-based Innovative Emergency Management, beneficiaries of the clever plan to privatize emergency planning, have suddenly turned shy about letting the world see their old announcements and press releases.
Just a thought
02SEP05 New Orleans LiveJournaler “cobaltgreen” suggests what can be done to get help into the city faster.
1. Announce they are giving late term abortions down at the Convention Center.
2. Spread the rumor that they’re thinking about disconnecting the feeding tube of a (white) woman in a coma at one of the hospitals still standing.
3. Ask a calm, mourning, middle aged woman to camp out for peace along Canal Street.
Elsewhere on LiveJournal—
02SEP05 Say what you will about the SCA, but they do know something about dealing with large events that take place in a sea of mud.
Did you think we were just making it up?
02SEP05 “We’ve heard the warning “this isn’t about politics” over and over in the last few days. The hell it isn’t. And I don’t mean kicking Bush while he’s down, just for the fun of it, although there are surely liberals eager to do that. For the rest of us, however, we’re seeing the awful real-world consequences of conservatism play out on our television screens. This is why we’re liberals. We don’t yell about poverty and racial disparities for kicks. ”
Comedy Gold
02SEP05 “The good news is— and it’s hard for some to see it now—that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house—he’s lost his entire house—there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.) ”
Tryin’ to find out what I didn’t know
03SEP05 Chuck Taggart’s Looka is another weblog that’s been tracking events in New Orleans; we should have linked to it days ago. This day’s worth of posts includes a list of which well-known New Orleans musicians are accounted for, and which are still missing. (Still missing: Alex Chilton.)
The otters return, and they’re on fire
03SEP05 The Red Cross has been ordered not to enter New Orleans with relief.
Welcome to your dystopian future
03SEP05 The observation that the United States is best understood as a third world country that happens to have a lot of money has never seemed more correct.
God Be Praised, The System Works
04SEP05 In other news, it’s harder and harder to tell the joke fake news from the real.
04SEP05 One thing the last week has clarified is that, as far as a lot of right-wingers are concerned, self-reliance and survivalism are virtues only when practiced by people who look like right-wingers. Practiced by the rest of us, they’re grounds for summary execution.
Discover America! It’s 2700 smiles wide
04SEP05 British families trapped in New Orleans last night claimed that US authorities had refused to evacuate them as Hurricane Katrina approached the city.
05SEP05 It’s enough to make you suspect the “politics” we’re allowed to see is not much more than a stage show designed to distract us. Imagine thinking such a thing.
An Open Letter to the President
05SEP05 From an editorial in the Times-Picayune
Looking ahead
05SEP05 Via Avedon Carol, this play on Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
Mission accomplished
05SEP05 “Fox news analyst Sean Hannity praised Bush’s speech, saying, ‘I will say anything my leader tells to say…. That’s what a journalist is supposed to do.” Time magazine’s Blog of the Year concurred, writing, ‘The City of New Orleans and its residents owe the President a profound debt of gratitude for these photographs.’ ”
Not An Imaginary Story
05SEP05 Next to this, the unselfconscious depravity of Barbara Bush is small beans. It does make me want to say and do things I’ll regret. I’m beginning to think that’s its point.
Words line up in formation and fail me
05SEP05 Maybe I will have that drink after all.
Today’s Lesson (1)
05SEP05 Then said Jesus unto him, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

That’s just the first week. We followed the Katrina story for months; the posts and the comment threads (the best part is the commentary) are still here in the archives. Heck, we were even ahead of the story: From Making Light, Risk Assessment, September 15, 2004 (nearly a solid year before the disaster):

It may have been written in 2002, but Hurricane Risk for New Orleans, from the American Radioworks site, is an unpleasantly prescient look at New Orleans’ vulnerability to a major hurricane:
Think about the great cities in this country, and one of them will be New Orleans. On a recent evening, a scientist pulls up in the French Quarter. Joe Suhayda takes a plastic rod out of his trunk and he proceeds to show us what could happen the next time a hurricane hits New Orleans.

“OK, this is tool that I have a range rod,” explains Suyhayda. “It will show us how high the water would be if we were hit with a Category Five Hurricane.”

Which would mean what?

“Twenty feet of water above where we are standing now,” says Suyhayda.

No one could say, “No one could have predicted this,” except Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff did say, “government planners did not predict such a disaster ever could occur.”

Which brings us back to today: Three years on and not one bit better prepared for a hurricane striking New Orleans. And what’s this in the news? Hurricane Gustav, headed for New Orleans. Landfall sometime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning with winds up to 130 MPH. While all the Republicans are happily gathered in their convention center in Minneapolis. And right behind it, Tropical Storm Hanna.

God only knows where Hanna will go, where it’ll hit, and how hard.

Palin and McCain
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 01:27 PM *

John McCain has announced that his running mate is going to be Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.

Who is Sarah Palin?

Alaska legislature will probe Palin’s firing of state’s top cop

Monday, 28 July 2008
Alaska legislators approved Monday hiring a special investigator to look into the firing of Walt Monegan from his job as commissioner of public safety.

Meeting in Juneau, the Legislative Council voted 12-0 to spend up to $100,000 “to investigate the circumstances and events surrounding the termination of former Public Safety Commissioner Monegan and potential abuses of power and or improper action by members of the executive branch.”

Monegan was fired two weeks ago at Gov. Sarah Palin’s direction by her chief of staff. The firing was unexpected and unexplained and gave rise to accusations that it was retaliation by the Palin family for Monegan’s refusal to fire an Alaska state trooper formerly married to Palin’s sister and currently embroiled in an ugly custody fight with her.

The Legislative Council is a bipartisan, 14-member panel made up of seven senators and seven House members that manages legislative business when the Legislature is between regular sessions. Two members were not at the Monday session.

Was there anything to that? Unfortunately….

Alaska’s governor admits her staff tried to have trooper fired

Thursday, 14 August 2008
Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday revealed an audio recording that shows an aide pressuring the Public Safety Department to fire a state trooper embroiled in a custody battle with her sister.

Palin, who has previously said her administration didn’t exert pressure to get rid of trooper Mike Wooten, also disclosed that members of her staff had made about two dozen contacts with public safety officials about the trooper.

“I do now have to tell Alaskans that such pressure could have been perceived to exist although I have only now become aware of it,” Palin said.

But Palin said her decision to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan last month had nothing to do with his refusal to dump trooper Mike Wooten.

The governor said evidence of what she called a “smoking gun” conversation, and other calls made by her aides, only recently surfaced as the attorney general started an inquiry at her request into the circumstances surrounding her firing of Monegan. Palin wanted the review because a special investigator hired by the Legislature is about to investigate the firing and a legislator has been quoted in a newspaper story talking about impeachment.

The majority of the calls came from Palin’s chief of staff at the time, Mike Tibbles, according to an information gathered by the state attorney general’s office. Attorney General Talis Colberg and Palin’s husband, Todd, also contacted Monegan about the trooper.

Palin said she’d only known about some of the contacts and never asked anyone on her staff to get in touch with state public safety officials about Wooten. “Many of these inquiries were completely appropriate. However, the serial nature of the contacts could be perceived as some kind of pressure, presumably at my direction,” she said.

Palin said the “most disturbing” was a phone call Frank Bailey, the governor’s director of boards and commissions, made to trooper Lt. Rodney Dial in February. The Public Safety Department recorded the call, as it does routinely.

Palin, who said she’d only just learned of the call, released a recorded copy of it to the press on Wednesday. In it, Bailey clearly pressures the lieutenant.

Bailey told him during the conversation that Palin and her husband want to know why Wooten still has a job.

“Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, ‘Why on earth hasn’t this, why is this guy still representing the department?’ He’s a horrible recruiting tool, you know,” Bailey told the lieutenant.

Bailey made several accusations against Wooten in the call, including that he lied on his application. Dial asked Bailey how he knew about any issue with the application.

“I used to be a recruiter. I know a lot of times that information is extremely confidential,” Dial told him.

Who else is Sarah Palin?

Alaska’s Palin misrepresented state’s polar bear findings

Sunday, 25 May 2008
A newly released e-mail from last fall shows that Alaska’s own biologists were at odds with the administration of Gov. Sarah Palin, which has consistently opposed any new federal protections for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act.

The state’s in-house dispute seems to refute later statements by Gov. Sarah Palin that a “comprehensive review” of the federal science by state wildlife officials found no reason to support an endangered-species listing for the northern bears. The governor invoked the state’s own scientific work both in a cover letter to the state’s official polar bear comments, and in an opinion piece published in the New York Times.

But the Oct. 9 e-mail, which was released this month to a University of Alaska scientist who had filed a public records request seeking information on the state’s polar bear decision-making, shows that the head of the marine mammals program for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and two other staff biologists agreed with the conclusions of nine polar bear studies that the federal government was citing to justify a threatened-species listing for the bears.

“Overall, we believe that the methods and analytical approaches used to examine the currently available information supports the primary conclusions and inferences stated in these 9 reports,” Robert Small wrote.

Alaska officials have expressed concern that a threatened-species listing gives environmentalists more leverage to oppose oil and gas development in Arctic Alaska and poses risks to Native subsistence. The state’s efforts to raise contrary scientific arguments have been met with derision by some environmentalists, who liken it to efforts from the tobacco industry to raise questions about the dangers of smoking and delay regulatory action.

Palin brings strength to the Republican ticket. Her resume is solid:

Mayor of a town of nearly 6,000 people.
Governor of a state of 650,000 people for nearly two years.
PTA Member

August 27, 2008
“Can we have this for the entire Internet?”
Posted by Patrick at 08:36 AM * 23 comments

For those of you who think the comment-section moderation style around here is too lax, check out YouTube Comment Snob, a Firefox extension that filters out YouTube comments with multiple spelling errors, incorrect capitalization, excessive capitalization or punctuation (“!!!” or “???”, etc.), profanity, and other user-configurable characteristics.

Of course, YouTube being the honey pot for morons that it is, use of YouTube Comment Snob tends to yield acres of white space punctuated by occasional coherent remarks. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.

August 26, 2008
What the internet is for
Posted by Patrick at 01:11 PM * 31 comments

Via Making Light commenter Michael Turyn, who spotted it linked from SF Signal: “My Little Pony” figures dressed up as characters from Joss Whedon’s 43-minute musical film Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

As Turyn remarked, this does open the question of whether, in this alternate continuity, the Evil League of Evil is led by a character named “Bad Man.”

Crazy Creek Chair
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 02:04 AM *

The Crazy Creek Chair is a small, light, easily portable, camp chair. It keeps your butt dry when you’re sitting around out in the woods. And it disassembles to make dandy field-expedient splints.

(You’re looking for the “original” chair.)

August 25, 2008
If you use Gmail, read this
Posted by Patrick at 08:57 AM *

Via Chad Orzel: why all GMail users should use https, never http, no exceptions and no foolin’:

Before Gmail released the ability to automatically encrypt your Gmail connections, your browser/server interactions went something like this:

Your Browser: Hey there Gmail, I want in. Here’s my encrypted login.
Gmail Servers: Hey there, browser. I see your encrypted login fits what I have here. If you want to keep talking to me, I will need to see proof of your login, but don’t bother encrypting it for me. Here is your unencrypted email.
Your Browser: Great. I want to read this particular email, my Gmail login is: and my password is: monkeylove. My name is John Hanks Doe and my social security number is 123-45-6789.
Gmail Servers: Sure, here you go. I see you are leaving for vacation with the house unlocked this weekend. Say, is this your credit card information?
Guy packet sniffing your wi-fi from Starbucks: Cool!

It’s a little more complex than that (and a little less goofy and dramatic), but the theory is sound. Using encryption at login only is the equivalent of setting up a toll booth in the desert.

Of course, for 36.2% of all Making Light readers, this information is news on the order of “water is wet.” (54.9% of those are about to post a comment explaining why Gmail is a Bad Thing no matter how you use it.) This post is a public service for the remaining 63.8%, none of whom deserve to have their personal information hijacked.

Gina “Lifehacker” Trapani’s Firefox extension Better Gmail forces Firefox to always use https for Gmail, and includes a nice set of other user-choosable Gmail-related enhancements and conveniences. Of course, to encrypt your Gmail sessions, all you have to do is preface Gmail’s URL with “https” rather than “http”, or turn on “always use https” from the “Browser Connection” settings of your Gmail account.

In conversation the other day, Cory Doctorow, a guy who keeps his mail on his own machine, remarked that in fact his anti-webmail stand doesn’t actually matter all that much; if I use Gmail and hundreds of his other correspondents use Gmail, in effect he’s using Gmail too. It’s a good point, and it gets at the way that good computer security practices aren’t just a matter of autonomous individuals choosing whether or not to fortify their personal castles. Bad security is like cholera in the water supply; it affects everyone.

August 24, 2008
Open thread 113
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:03 PM *

In AD 113, the dread of all moviegoers was first released upon the unsuspecting world.

I refer not to Godzilla, nor to Frankenstein; neither to stale popcorn with insufficient butteresque flavoring nor to that peculiar tackiness of movie house floors. Oh, no; the nemesis of the moviegoer is far more subtle than that:


113 was the year that Trajan’s Column was erected in Rome. It married an exciting, epic visual narrative (in this case a frieze depicting two military victories against the Dacians) with credits in a distinctive seriffed writing style.

The inscription inspired many typographers over the centuries. Rudolph Weiss did a font based on it in 1928 and Warren Chappell one in 1939, both for the Linotype company. Frederick Goudy produced a version of it in 1930 for Monotype. But the art of the movie poster was not yet far enough advanced, and the fonts were merely used for advertising and book design.

Then in 1989, Adobe typographer Carol Twombly produced the currently popular adaptation. Rather than graft lower-case forms onto the originals from the column, she created an all-caps font. Like the lead, paper and ink typographers before her, Twombly had to adapt the letterforms for their anticipated method of reproduction. She did a good job, bringing the grace and majesty of the stone inscriptions to Adobe’s type family.

And at last the time was right. Eighteen centuries of stony sleep were vexed to nightmare by a clicking mouse, and her work was seized on by movie poster designers looking for something classic and imposing. The darkness drops, but it’s just the movie starting…with titles in Trajan.

Trajan. It’s the movie font.

August 23, 2008
August 21, 2008
The honor of your assistance is requested in a small matter of language
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:31 PM *

Gentle reader,

In the course of her duties today, this blogger was obliged to consider the vast range of input to be expected from the ladies and gentlemen who do her company the honor of using its software. In particular, she was occupied with the task of addressing the tendency of some users to express an excess of emotion, or to seek to produce an improper effect upon the unsuspecting reader, with the strength of their language.

In order to curb these unfortunate tendencies, and forestall the employment of coarse and unsuitable language, she was enjoined to produce a list of particularly crude and unsavory terms whose use would be most strictly prohibited. Nor would variants of the selected expressions be permitted; the software produced at her place of employment is of a sufficiently sophisticated nature to encompass the derivation of gerunds from the raw verbal forms &c. There will even be some discussion in the forthcoming weeks regarding the inclusion of the recently popularized “leet” forms produced by the systematic substitution of numeric characters for the letters to which they most closely bear a resemblance.

Due to the popularity of her employer’s product, this blogger’s task was further complicated by the requirement to produce appropriate lists in both the American and British dialects of the English language. Furthermore, because even within the several nations who have adopted the product there exist variations in the level of local sensitivity, it was deemed appropriate to produce two lists per dialect. The “core” assemblages contain those of the gravest offense, which are liable to shock and horrify even the most liberal-minded and worldly of readers. The “additional” lists are provided to broaden the range of prohibited speech in order to protect any more delicate-minded communities which may choose to uphold a stricter standard of decency. The selection of the list to adopt is of course entirely within the purview of the customer.

However, this blogger is sadly hampered in the execution of her duties by her sweet and innocent nature. (She will now pause in tactful silence while the gentleman in the back row endures his coughing fit; no doubt he has caught a slight chill. She hopes that he will be better soon.) After due consideration, she has decided to be so bold as to place the product of her initial efforts before this discerning crowd, to ascertain if she has perhaps omitted any words which would be better included, or indeed added to her list some innocuous term which, upon further investigation, is found to be merely a variety of orchid.

Be warned, gentle reader, that the remainder of this post contains profanity of the strongest nature. Please do not peruse this entry further if you are at all prone to offense or shock. This blogger would be most distressed to learn that she had caused any upset to an unsuspecting reader who further pursued this matter in the expectation that it would lead to a list containing anything but the greatest of obscenities.

Moose Festival
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 02:25 PM * 46 comments

So, there you are. Weekend coming up. “Ma, I’m bored,” you say. “I want to do something I’ve never done before.”

By golly! Have you ever been to Moose Festival? The 17th Annual North Country Moose Festival is starting tomorrow, and I bet you never even knew!

Now the Moose Festival has its own web page, but it’s a pretty sucky web page. Let me tell you about Moose Festival, and some things that the Official Handout won’t mention. Like “Bring Bug Dope.” And “Pack a Sweater.”

Okay, let’s start out tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. and running to 9:00 p.m., in order to mess up traffic on Rt. 3 all day: Small Town Sidewalk Sales. If you want a jigsaw Skunk mailbox cover made by gen-u-ine North Country folks with a jigsaw in the barn, this is the place. Not imported from Taiwan, no-sir, you betcha. Main Street Colebrook will be blocked off for this, and finding a place to park will be … challenging. As an added benefit, if you clutch your chest and fall to the ground while you’re at the Small Town Sidewalk Sales, I personally will come, cut your clothes off, and stick a needle in your arm! (I’m on duty tomorrow.)

After that, things will kick into high gear. At 1:00 p.m., at the North Country Recreation Center, there’s going to be an Indoor Pool Party running until 3:00 p.m. It’s for kids, grades 1-6, and will feature Diving for Moose Droppings. If you thought that we have to Make Our Own Fun up here, you thought right!

Also at 1:00, for people who aren’t up for Diving for Moose Droppings (it’s an acquired taste, after all), there’s a Quilt Show at the Trinity United Methodist Church. The Methodists are over on Bridge Street, and their church is really pretty. Way-better stained glass than the Papists have.

At 2:00 p.m. you’ve got your choice: The Moose Festival Art Show at the funeral home (not an editorial comment on the art, I promise you), or the Historical Society Open House on the 2nd floor of the Town Hall. Jenkin’s and Newman Funeral Home is on Main Street, Colebrook. The Town Hall is a block up and to the left on Bridge Street (not too far from those Methodists). Or your could do both! The Open House runs until 6:00 p.m. while the Art Show runs until 7:30.

They’ve got things there to make you laugh
A five-legged sheep and a two-headed calf….

Unfortunately the two-headed calf isn’t displayed in the window across from Hicks’ Hardware any more; maybe the Historical Society has it. Have you ever seen a stuffed two-headed calf? Hunh? Hunh?

Beginning at 3:00 and running until 9:00 p.m. we’ll have the Moose Festival Street Fair. Just to make it more likely that you’ll clutch your chest and fall to the ground, they’ll have booths selling fried dough and fried sausage and french fries. Also crafts, demos, music, and other Entertainment. Can’t say no to that, can you? The live entertainment will include Bobo the Clown, the Parker Hill Road Band, and The Folk Tree (they do Celtic music).

Over on the lawn at Colebrook Academy, the Kiwanis will be having their Chicken Barbecue. That’ll start at 5:00. Unlike last year, when the word “downpour” pretty much described the part of the barbecue that most folks remembered, the weather tomorrow is supposed to be nice. Remember to lock your car or when you come back you’ll find the back seat filled with zucchini.

Then, what you’ve been waiting for! Cruise night! (No, no! Not that. Around here, ‘Going cruising’ means ‘driving around in your car.’ We make our own fun….) That’s from 5:00 to 7:00. At 6:00, there’s going to be a Tae Kwon Do demonstration. (Dislocated knees are easy and fun to fix!)

At 7:00 comes the Guided Moose Tour to Averill, Vermont. I mean, all kidding aside, this party is all about Moose. And that’s it for tomorrow.

But wait, there’s more! Saturday, over at Canaan, Vermont, the party starts at 6:30 a.m (we get up early, us sturdy country folk!) as the crafters and vendors start to set up. Hear some genuine North Country accents. At 7:00 a.m. there’s the Moor [Correction: Moose] Watchers’ Breakfast at Canaan School. Last season, one episode of Supernatural included a visit to Canaan, VT. Dean didn’t go to the Moose Watchers’ Breakfast, and see how things turned out for him. Avoid making that mistake…. Pretty much across the street from the school there’s the town library, and during the Bad Old Days before the Civil War (we call it “The Civil War” around here because we won and we have the monuments to prove it — every town has at the least a statue and maybe a cannon or two) it was the last station on the Underground Railroad on the leg that ran up the Connecticut Valley, because Canada is Right Over There.

If you’re up here for the Auto Show, registration is at 8:00 a.m. At 9:00, yet more Crafts (mosquitoes made out of genuine moose turds … a Christmas Tree ornament like no other) , Demos, Music, Food (you may yet clutch your chest and fall over!) and Entertainment. Bobo the Clown! (Bobo’s putting in a hard weekend.) Pony rides for the kiddies! The Berlin Jazz Band! (That’s Berlin, New Hampshire, pronounced BER-lin, not that place over in Europe.)

At 11:00 a.m. comes the Bill Bromage Memorial Moose Stew Cook-Off. Bill used to run the First Colebrook Bank. Then they opened a branch in Concord, and Bill would drive back and forth. He was found one day, parked beside Rt. 3 in Franconia Notch, dead of a heart attack. He was a firefighter, a nice guy, and, well … moose stew! People who come to Moose Festival can sample moose stew. Where else can you do that? That’s followed at noon by the Moose Burger BBQ Cookout.

Now that you’re fully laden down with moose products, at 1:00 p.m. comes the 17th Annual Moose Calling Contest. We make our own fun….

At 2:00 p.m. comes the dog show, and at 3:00 p.m. the Rubber Ducky Race at Leach Stream. (That’s leach, not leech. What were you thinking?)

That’s just the stuff in Canaan. Pittsburg (the largest town in New Hampshire (in land area)) has its own events on Saturday. At 1:00 p.m. comes a guided tour of the 4th Connecticut Lake. (That’s the very start of the Connecticut River. Connecticut means “long river” in the local native American lingo, and it surely is. The Connecticut starts here, forms the border between New Hampshire and Vermont all the way down, then bisects Massachusetts, then runs through the state of Connecticut until it empties into Long Island Sound.) The tour starts at the Canadian border crossing on Rt. 3. While you’re there, you can see the eighteen inches that don’t belong to either country, or you could go a little farther north to Magnetic Hill up in Quebec. That’s a place where if you put your car in neutral it’ll roll up hill. Internationally famous! Spooky!

From 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. you could see “A Day at the Farm” at the Amey Farm on Tabor Road in Pittsburg.

2:00 to 5:00 p.m. is an open house at the Pittsburg Town Hall Museum with the Historical Society. Pittsburg was a separate country once, right up into the early years of the 19th century (but we probably won’t see “Six Flags Over Pittsburg” any time soon).

If you missed the Chicken Barbecue in Colebrook on Friday night, you’ve got another chance at Pittsburg School at 5:00. Also at 5:00 (until 7:00) it’s Mini-Cruise Night (and it still means “driving around in your car”). We make our own…fun.

From 7:00 to 10:00, there’s a Bluegrass Concert at the Amey Farm. Bring your own blankets. And parkas. And bug dope.

If that doesn’t appeal, also at 7:00 (and leaving from Pittsburg School (site of the Chicken Barbecue), Guided Moose Tours through Moose Alley. The trick is not seeing a moose. Best way to avoid seeing a moose in Moose Alley is to drive with your eyes closed.

Sunday, things’ll be winding down. At 8:00 (until 11:00) there’s a Festival Breakfast for the North American Martyrs at St. Albert’s Parish in West Stewartstown (across the river from Canaan, Vermont). The Feast of the North American Martyrs is usually on October 19th, but we make our own fun up here.

At 11:30 comes the Blessing of the Autos at the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in Columbia (on Rt. 3 — there’s a drive-through Stations of the Cross), and with that, the 17th Annual Moose Festival will come to an end.

We make our own fun. And we sing our colorful Tourist Squeezing Chanties while we’re doing it.

Roaming in Moose Country (New York Times, Sunday, May 7, 1995

Folk Radio
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 11:58 AM * 18 comments

WUMB Boston is my favorite radio station. Folk music! Hurrah! They’re on the internet, too!

Mama’s Little Babies Love Zucchini
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:51 AM *

Mama’s little babies love zucchini bread.

So there I was, reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, when M. Poirot comes on scene, throwing vegetable marrows over the wall.

“What the foo,” says I to myself, “is a vegetable marrow?”

It turns out that a vegetable marrow in Merrie Olde is what we in the USA call zucchini. (So this stranger comes to a small town, and he’s talking with one of the locals, and he says, “I bet this is the kind of place where folks don’t even lock their cars.” “Nope,” says the local. “Everyone’s very careful to lock up in summer.” “Why’s that?” ” ‘Cause if you don’t, you’ll find your car is full of zucchini.”)

One plant produces an awful lot of zucchini. I can see why Poirot was throwing them over a wall.

But if you don’t have a handy wall, and no one’s left their car unlocked, you can also bake them into bread.

  • 3 cups (400 g)bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • ½ cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
  • ½ cup (125 ml) applesauce
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (200 g) brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (about 500 g) grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 C).
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  3. Cream the eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and sugars. Add the sifted ingredients a little at a time. Beat well. Stir in zucchini (and nuts if used) until well mixed. Pour the batter into greased and floured 8 x 4 (20cm x 10cm) loaf pans.
  4. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (usually fifty-five minutes). Cool in the pan on a rack for twenty minutes. Turn out the bread from the pan, and allow to cool.

If bread doesn’t appeal, here’s a recipe for Zucchini Carpaccio.

(Updated to add metric measures—AS)

[Recipe Index]

August 19, 2008
Carl Drega, Part III
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:17 PM * 59 comments

Pictures, taken 19 August 2008.

Below the cut.

Carl Drega, Part II
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 02:42 PM * 122 comments

I wrote this some years ago, 11 September 2002, on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and e-mailed it to myself. It has to do with another terrorist attack. Not the one on New York and Washington; an attack on another town. The events I’m talking about took place on 19 August 1997. Later I posted the letter in our newsgroup over at sff.people.doyle-macdonald.

Make no mistake: This was a terrorist act. When Tom Tancredo came around preaching about the danger of an armed attack by Muslims unless we put up a barbed wire fence along the Canadian border, you could feel the few people in the audience, at least the ones who were here that day, bristle. Someone already brought that act to town, and he wasn’t named Mohammed.

Continued below the cut.

I am not a programmer, but …
Posted by Teresa at 02:05 PM *

XKCD nailed this story, but as straight text I favor John Brownlee’s version from Boing Boing Gadgets, quoting the news story in Information Week:

Facing down a Ohio lawsuit against Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold) for selling the state voting machines that habitually lost votes, Diebold has responded with an intriguing defense: it was anti-virus software that ate the votes.
Brunner said that Premier’s system dropped votes when memory cards were uploaded to shared servers. Election staff recovered the votes hours later, she said.

Election workers notified Premier of the problems and received a product advisory notice in late May. The notice explained that an antivirus program that operated on the server simultaneously had caused the problems. Premier instructed users to disable the antivirus software on vote tabulation servers when uploading votes from memory cards.

Um. I haven’t had to think about this stuff in years, so please forgive me if my terminology or concepts are out of date; but wouldn’t that disable the users’ intrusion detection systems, and their ability to detect stuff like self-modifying code? Which is exactly what you want to be doing when you’re working with Diebold.

Carl Drega, Part I
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:30 AM * 65 comments

Today is the 11th anniversary of the Colebrook Massacre. The first two murders were a mile north of my house at the store where I shop. The next two were fifty yards south of my house. The people involved were (and are) my friends. Dennis Joos, the newspaper editor…his wife liked our books. Vickie, the judge, was also a Notary Public…she’d notarized some papers for me. Scott went to my church. Les…his son was in my EMT class.

There was a major effect on the town. Marriages broke up. You can still feel the ripples.

There’s more. I may talk about it in the comments. You can see the echoes in my own reactions to clear-eyed, freedom-loving libertarians, for example in Keep Your Head Down.

So far as I’m aware there were only a few printed reports on this event. One was in the local newspaper (The News & Sentinel). Life Magazine did a photo spread. The Boston Globe and the Union Leader ran some stories. WMUR covered it when it happened, but WMUR wasn’t available up here — folks who wanted to know what was being reported had to call friends and relatives down below who could watch TV.There was a TV special a few years later. Then there was Vin Suprynowicz’s mendacious book. Since it’s the only source that’s widely available on-line, the Wikipedia article on Drega is based entirely on it.

Part II (forthcoming) is a letter I wrote to myself five years later, on the first anniversary of 9/11. {art III is some photos taken around town to give you an idea of what things look like.

From the archives of sff.people.doyle-macdonald:

Article: 929
From: (Debra Doyle)
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 01:20:12 GMT
Subject: Life in the North Country
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Just a note to say that if anybody was watching the news tonight on CNN —we weren’t in Colebrook when the shootings went down, we were on the road bringing the kids back home from Bedford. But we were bracketed by the crime scenes — the IGA grocery store where it apparently started is just up the road from us, and the newspaper office where two more people got killed is about two-three blocks from us the other way.

This is serious not-good stuff. Two law enforcement officers, a judge, and the editor of the News&Sentinel. And now we have news vans all over, and any moment now some idiot reporter is going to start yammering about “violence comes to this sleepy New Hampshire town.”

Debra Doyle

Article: 940
From: (James Macdonald)
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 13:40:36 GMT
Subject: Re: Life in the North Country
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Yog stirred in the depths when (Michael Chesley Johnson) uttered:

What possessed this madman? At age 67 and bungling a robbery, he
decided he had nothing left to lose?

No bungled robbery. He drove up to the IGA where he shot and killed a cop and took his car. He shot and killed a second cop at the scene. Speculation is that he was trying to create a diversion to draw the local cops (all four of them) away from the law office which is across the street from the police station/town hall.

He drove the police car down to the law office (in the same building as the newspaper office), and went in hunting a judge. He shot and killed her.

The editor of the paper tried to take his gun away. The editor was shot and killed.

Events after this are unclear. Sometime during the proceedings, the man’s house burned down—and word is that the local fire-fighters weren’t able to approach due to exploding ammo.

Five more people were shot and wounded. Several of them were law enforcement personnel. The perp himself was shot and killed. He was using a full-automatic rifle, and wearing a bullet resistant vest. Last night the cops were trying to contact everyone with whom the man had a grudge. He was out of sight and location unknown for about an hour between the beginning and end of the affair.

This is mostly rumor based, and details could change.

Read Groogleman by Doyle & Macdonald

Article: 946
From: (James Macdonald)
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 23:05:47 GMT
Subject: Re: Tragedy in Colebrook
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

The latest is that the police/firefighters will be doing a controlled burn of the gunpowder/nitrate fertilizer/fuses found in the barn and in apparent tunnels on Drega’s property, sometime in the next couple of hours. Also found bomb-making books.

The story is that he was not part of any militia group.

The shot that took Drega down was apparently fired by law enforcement. We were there at the time, but didn’t know it—we passed by the back of the cordon around where the last gunfight was about to occur.

The whole town is in shock. Both of the pay phones in town have lines of people in suits with blow-dried hair. We’re out of cell-phone range from anywhere. The paper managed to come out on time, despite the editor being shot while doing final paste-up, and the newsroom being part of a crimescene.. New lead story, of course.

More on this story at

Article: 954
From: (James Macdonald)
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 01:53:12 GMT
Subject: Re: Tragedy in Colebrook
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Yog stirred in the depths when (Sherwood Smith) uttered:

Was this a mistake, or is there a
county called Columbia? (They did mention the Colebrook FIre Dept)
further on.
The town of Columbia, NH is directly south of Colebrook. Kids from Columbia go to school in Colebrook. The main industries are tourist cabins and hayfields. It’s tiny — but Drega (the shooter) lived there.

Or, more accurately, he kept his summer home there. He was one of the summer people; his main residence apparently was in Bow, NH (just south of Concord), and he was apparently originally from New Haven, Conn.

Today was cold and rainy. The suits and their cameras and microphones have gone home. Everyone still bummed out.

Article: 955
From: (James Macdonald)
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 18:08:37 GMT
Subject: Re: Tragedy in Colebrook
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Local people are putting up the 3,000+ police expected to come to the officers’ funerals tomorrow.

During the hour Drega was missing, it looks like he paid a visit to another of the selectmen’s houses — the gent got home from a dentist’s appointment to find that his front door had been kicked in, and neighbors saying that a police car had stopped there. Drega was driving a police car, and wearing the hat of one of the officers he’d killed.

It turns out that Drega had 86 pipebombs, ammonium nitrate, nitro methane, gunpowder, fuses, another AR-15, a .30-.30 rifle, two shotguns, one fitted with a night-vision sight, and another rifle on his property. He also had armor-piercing ammo. The tunnels under his house still haven’t been searched.

People are speculating on what he had in mind to do with all that stuff.

Support the Jayne Hitchcock HELP Fund

Article: 970
From: (James Macdonald)
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 12:20:21 GMT
Subject: Re: Bad Week In NH
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Yog stirred in the depths when Scott Rosenthal <> uttered:

Another police officer was shot and killed yesterday, routine traffic
stop and two guys shot him.

Bummer. Hadn’t heard.

Read Groogleman by Doyle & Macdonald

Article: 972
From: (James Macdonald)
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 14:59:44 GMT
Subject: Re: Bad Week In NH
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Yog stirred in the depths when TechSupport@SFF.Net (Jeffry Dwight) uttered:

Not cool. That’s pretty much it for your police department, then? Only the
switchboard operator left.
No, this fellow was from down below, in Epsom. He’d been at our guys’ funeral the day before he was shot. He was wearing his bullet-resistant vest, but it didn’t help. Found still holding the license and registration of a gent now in custody.

Support the Jayne Hitchcock HELP Fund

Article: 977
From: (James Macdonald)
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 23:33:09 GMT
Subject: Re: Bad Week In NH
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Yog stirred in the depths when Paula Lieberman < uttered:

Radio news in the morning said there’s a call for the perpetrator’s
Yeah, they’re talking Capital Murder.

In other news, the bill that would have provided support for the families of police killed in the line of duty was tabled last spring, on the grounds that it wouldn’t be needed since such deaths are so rare.

Read Groogleman by Doyle & Macdonald

Article: 999
From: (Debra Doyle)
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 1997 14:18:21 GMT
Subject: Re: Bad Week In NH
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald (Robert Rogoff) wrote:

I seem to recall they took the motto “Live Free or Die” off the license plates. Did they put it back on again?
Periodically somebody complains about it, but the complain never gets much of anywhere. I kind of like the motto, actually … it’s a lot more memorable than the bland alternatives the folks who are agin it come up with, like “Vacationland.”

Some people will complain about anything. Somebody in Maine complained once, or so I’m told, because the lobster on that state’s license plate was red, rather than green, and was therefore a cooked lobster and endorsing cruelty to animals.

Debra Doyle

Article 14434
From: Debra Doyle
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 08:11:31 -0500
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 02:38:55 -0500, Lawrence Watt-Evans <> wrote:

killing two state troopers, then two or three other assorted people, before he finally got taken out by a cop’s bullet.
Two others — local selectman/judge Vickie Bunnell and Dennis Joos, editor of the local newspaper. Vickie Bunnell delayed her own exit from the building where she shared offices with the News and Sentinel in order to warn the others inside, and Dennis Joos — a man who’d at once point been a Franciscan novice before he decided his vocation lay elsewhere, a man who would carry spiders outside rather than stomp on them — died trying to wrestle the rifle away from Drega out in the parking lot.

This all went down in a town of about 2500 people. Nobody was unaffected by it, and the aftershocks lasted for a year or more.

Debra Doyle
newsgroup sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Article 14438
From: (James D. Macdonald)
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 18:11:50 GMT
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

The Ballad of Carl Drega was an article by Vin Suprynowicz, a jerk from Nevada. It’s collected in a book of his columns, under the same title, and it’s published on websites all over the place.

This September 11th, I was moved to fully comment his article. Shall I post my commentary here?

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 11:38:09 -0500, steve miller <> wrote:

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 02:38:55 -0500, Lawrence Watt-Evans <>

Incidentally, he burned down his own house to hide the evidence of
whatever he was planning. This succeeded. No one really knows what
he’d intended to do.

This is part of the core of the conspiracy theorists — the ones who
say Drega’s home was torched by the state cops to hide evidence/proof
of his innocence. There’s even a “Ballad of Drega” out among the


Local Custom and Scout’s Progress
Prism Finalists, 2002


Article 14439
From: Debra Doyle
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 13:18:44 -0500
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 11:38:09 -0500, steve miller <> wrote:

This is part of the core of the conspiracy theorists — the ones who
say Drega’s home was torched by the state cops to hide evidence/proof
of his innocence.
Yeah, right. Half of Coos County was listening to that incident on police scanners. It’s real hard to pull off a cover-up in a small town.

Debra Doyle
newsgroup sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Article 14442
From: (James D. Macdonald)
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 00:01:39 GMT
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 15:05:17 -0600, Elizabeth Moon Please do.


In a bit. Be advised that it’s quite long.


Article 14445
From: (James D. Macdonald)
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 01:40:06 GMT
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

On 26 Nov 2002 00:26:13 GMT, Mitch Wagner < wrote:

Everyone is entitled to competent and engaged legal defense. But I suspect
that may not be what you are talking about.
The “defense” in this case is that Drega was right to have shot down four people.


Article 14447
From: (James D. Macdonald)
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 02:37:21 GMT
Subject: Re: EMS
Newsgroups: sff.people.doyle-macdonald

Wait’ll you get to the Pornography of Violence segment. Coming up in just a moment…..

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 20:18:06 -0600, Elizabeth Moon <> wrote:

Oh my. What is the “defense” of the defender? Or can we call down some
quality karma on his/her head?



To be continued….

August 18, 2008
Tying It All Together
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:45 PM * 50 comments

CNN reports, today, on cyber-war in Georgia:botnet somebody clicked accept

Experts say last week’s attack on the former Soviet republic of Georgia, in which a Russian military offensive was preceded by an Internet assault that overwhelmed Georgian government Web sites, signals a new kind of cyberwar, one for which the United States is not fully prepared.

Web sites and computer networks have been targeted by hackers for decades, although large-scale, coordinated cyberattacks are still a relatively new phenomenon. Some Internet-security experts believe that the Georgia conflict marks the first time a known cyberattack has coincided with a ground war, but others said that similar computer attacks have accompanied military operations in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The challenge to U.S. security experts is that such attacks can be mounted anonymously, and relatively cheaply, from anywhere in the world. Georgia’s attackers employed “botnets,” or malicious automated programs that take root undetected in far-flung computers and barrage their targets with useless data. By last Friday, some of those botnets were originating from Comcast Internet addresses in the United States, Burling said.

So. Let’s look at a few more things, and a bit of a timeline.

  • 4/5 August (or earlier) 2008: Recruiting begins for a massive botnet. It’s so extensive that it makes the international news.
  • 7 August: Georgia provokes Russia in South Ossetia
  • 8 August: Russia invades Georgia. One component of the invasion is a DDoS attack on govenment, media, banking, and transportation, powered by a massive botnet.

I believe in many things, but when it comes to combined-arms attacks I don’t believe in coincidence. The Russian invasion was planned, prepped, and ready to roll a week before the provocation was delivered. Setting up the botnet is the clue that the events of 8 August weren’t a reaction to the events of 7 August.

See: Making Light: CNN Spam? Making Light: Russian Invades Georgia; Making Light: The Bombs of Georgia

Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:50 AM * 15 comments

A simulation game, simulating bipolar disorder.

No, really. The author calls it “a video game about mania, melancholia, and the creative process.” The graphics are simple, the controls are easy (left arrow to move left, right arrow to move right, spacebar to jump, and esc to exit), and the point … well. The gameplay is the point.

Urer’f n uvag. Fcraq nf zhpu gvzr nf lbh pna ng gur ortvaavat cynlvat onyy jvgu gur yvggyr tvey. Vg jvyy freir lbh va tbbq fgrnq. Abg gung vg jvyy uryc va gur tenaq fpurzr bs guvatf, ohg vg’f tbbq gb qb. Fur jba’g nyjnlf or gurer.

A free download (donationware). Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.


See also:
  1. Making Light: Internet Time Wasters
  2. Making Light: Internet Time Wasters II

August 17, 2008
As promised—
Posted by Patrick at 05:24 PM * 14 comments is now up-to-date once again. Whew.

Lost clarity
Posted by Teresa at 03:10 PM *

While helping Patrick find a word today (salonnière is the current candidate), I found a surprisingly well-written article on literary salons in’s encyclopedia section. A good reference source is a joy forever, so I clicked through to the main page of the encyclopedia, intending to bookmark it. I was very surprised to discover it was a mirror site for Wikipedia.

The reason it surprised me was that I’d already summoned up the Wikipedia entry on that subject, read its cloddish opening paragraph, and moved on to see whether I couldn’t find something better elsewhere. Here’s the first paragraph at

A salon is a gathering of stimulating people of quality under the roof of an inspiring hostess or host, partly to amuse one another and partly to refine their taste and increase their knowledge through conversation and readings, often consciously following Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, “to please and educate” (aut delectare aut prodesse est). The salons, commonly associated with French literary and philosophical salons of the 17th century and 18th century, were carried on until quite recently in urban settings among like-minded people of a ‘set’: many 20th-century salons could be instanced.
I have no problem with that, aside from the bit about “until quite recently.” The article that follows it is clear, decisive, and well-organized.

Here’s the first paragraph of the current Wikipedia version:

A salon was a reunion of men and women of intellect, gathered in the salon (drawing room) of a private home to participate in formal and informal discussions centered around a specific topic. A salonnière, the hostess of the salon, decided upon its central preoccupation which may include politics, literature, art, fashion or business.[1] The participants sought to increase their knowledge through conversation and readings, often consciously following Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, “to please and educate” (aut delectare aut prodesse est). The term salon is commonly associated with French literary and philosophical gatherings of the 17th century and 18th century, though the practice continues today in many cities around the world.
More words, much less said.

A little poking around soon revealed that the NationMaster.Com entry was the Wikipedia entry until this past spring. The worst damage was done on 02 - 03 April, when one Tkehinde, using what appears to have been a shoehorn and an undergraduate research paper, rewrote the initial paragraph, added bits, rewrote other bits, re-ordered some sections, and added a lot of footnotes. Most of the “facts” are still nominally present, but it’s remarkable how much less clear and comprehensible the revised version is overall.

If it turns out that any of those responsible are people I know, I’ll apologize.

I’ve given up formally despairing of Wikipedia, so I’ll just recommend the difference between the two versions as an illustration of how little it takes to break a well-engineered piece of exposition. Maybe they won’t seem all that different to you. For me, reading the later version is like watching the last act of Noises Off.

What the Email Fairy Brought
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:01 PM * 31 comments

Oh, goody! Look what I found in my spam filter!


Par votre hôte:   IKEMBA OKOYE  


I felt very sorry and bad for you, that your life is going to end up like this, I was paid to eliminate you and I have to do it within 10 days.

Meanwhile, I have sent my boys to track you and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation, but I ordered them to stop for a while and not to strike immediately so get

Back to me via this email (

Ikemba Okoye.

  Date:   vendredi 8 août 2008
Heure:   17h 00 - 18h 00  (GMT+01:00)
  Viendrez-vous ?

Répondre à cette invitation
Copyright © 2008  Yahoo! Tous droits réservés. | Conditions d’utilisation | Données personnelles

Goodness! I’m certainly quaking in my shoes! Shall I get back to this fellow? What shall I say?

Ah, I have it! Dear Ikemba: I’m so sorry that your career as a 419 fraudster didn’t work out the way you wanted. Best of luck in your new line of scam! Your friend, Jim

Air Farce One (movie review)
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:00 AM *

From the Unpublished Archives of Red Mike


Let us talk, dearly beloved, about Air Force One (1997). Harrison Ford, Glenn Close, Gary Oldman.

I bring this up because it shows what the popular culture take was, ten years ago, on:
a) The President
b) The Russians
c) Terrorists
d) What to do, as a passenger, in the event of an airplane hijacking

Continued below the cut

August 16, 2008
Last-minute Whisperado announcement
Posted by Patrick at 10:55 AM *

When the server hosting Making Light tanked at the beginning of May, I had just (the day before!) put in a bunch of time and effort updating and improving the home page. Thanks to Google and the quick help of Readers Like You, almost everything else was recovered, but the updated home page wasn’t, and while it’s silly of me, I could never quite summon the will to do it all over again.

One consequence of this is that I’ve completely fallen out of the habit of updating that page, and Making Light proper, to announce upcoming Whisperado gigs. I promise to get back into that habit, starting with this last-minute note that we’re actually appearing outside of New York City tonight, at a bar-and-restaurant in Mahopac, New York called the Dockside Pub. Yes, way up in impossibly faraway Putnam County.

Starting at 7 PM, this will entail two or possibly even three sets, which suits me since I generally feel like I’m just starting to play well about forty minutes into our usual one-hour bar routine. Also unlike our usual gigs, this appearance will feature guest vocals, guitar, and keyboards by the excellent Elisa Peimer. No cover charge, but you should expect to eat or at least drink. We’re told there’s an upper level with a view of the stage for patrons who aren’t ordering a meal. So if you happen to be in the Hudson Valley and you were just now thinking “Say, I could stand to spend an evening listening to an underrehearsed but amusing New York City band,” you are so in luck.

August 15, 2008
The Bombs of Georgia
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:33 PM * 40 comments

Over at CNN, Glenn Beck is saying:

“This is for America. This is for NATO. This is for Bush.”

These were the phrases that the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvilli, told me were on Russian bombs falling before, during and after the numerous cease-fires that have come and gone since the Georgian-Russian conflict began.

I have a question for Mr. Beck: How does Mikheil Saakashvilli know this? Don’t the bombs blow up when they hit the ground, making the writing on them hard to read?

The Ludington Librarian
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:26 PM * 45 comments

On 23 June, 2008, a review was posted at Amazon by someone called “Speakthe truth.” It was Speakthe truth’s first and so-far only review at Amazon.

The five star review, labeling the book “insightful,” says:

A must read! New ways of thinking and looking at the world. You will not believe the funny, crazy & demented people at the library.

The book being reviewed was The Library Diaries by Ann Miketa. The Library Diaries had come out on 9 June, 2008, from PublishAmerica. The reader may be forgiven for suspecting that the review was written by the author herself. Few others would have known that it existed.

So far it’s an old story: Vanity press author fights hopeless odds to drum up publicity. Then things got interesting. Two days after that review appeared, on 25 July 2008, a librarian in the town of Ludington, Michigan, was fired.

Let’s turn now to Ludington, population 8,000. Here’s a bit from the Ludington Daily News, dated August 9, 2008:

Sometimes a pen name isn’t cover enough, Sally Stern-Hamilton has learned.

The publication of her controversial book, “The Library Diaries,” written under the pen name Ann Miketa, resulted in her termination as a Mason County District Library employee after 15 years on the job. She is appealing that firing.

Written in the first person and set in what she calls a fictitious Lake Michigan town of Denialville, “The Libraries Dairies” is a series of vignettes about mostly unsavory characters encountered daily at the library

Not that the pen-name was particularly obscure: “Miketa” was Ms. Stern-Hamilton’s maiden name, PublishAmerica had sent a letter announcing the book to Ms. Stern-Hamilton’s family and friends, she’d sent a copy to the newspaper for review, and, as one commenter on the newspaper story said, “I was able to pick out every character in this book.” In addition, a photo of the Ludington Library appeared on the book’s cover.

District Library Director Dickson, in a letter to Ms. Stern-Hamilton, said, “… Each chapter is devoted to a specific library patron or patrons. Your book portrays these people in a very unflattering manner. You describe individual patrons as mentally ill, mentally incompetent, unintelligent, and unattractive. You label several as ‘perverts.’ While you stop short of naming the individuals you targeted in your book, your detailed descriptions of their unique characteristics and mannerisms make them easily identifiable in our small community.”

That sort of thing does get attention in a small community, you betcha. Observe the book’s description at Amazon:

Open this book and you’ll meet the naked patron, the greedy, unenlightened patrons, destination hell, the masturbator, horny old men, Mr. Three Hats, and a menagerie of other characters you never dreamt were housed at your public library.

Let us turn now to a local forum, Ludington Talks (Photos, videos, blogs and more. Join in.) The same day the newspaper story ran, 9 August, a discussion started. The top post reads;

I can’t put this book down. This book is a cut to the quick, tell all about OUR little hamlet we call home. If you read this you don’t you in a whole new way, YOU do live in Denialville!!! Ms. Miketa, you did a great job! Thankyou

That forum is up to eight pages of comments now and still gaining steam. While many of the comments are questions on where one can get a copy of the book, others are … more heated.

The author herself hit the web to give her side of it on 11 August, over at iReport (Unedited. Unfiltered. News.):

Library worker fired from library job for writing a book. After working for fifteen years at a public library in the rural midwest, I wrote a fictionalized account of a woman’s experiences working in a public library. My director found the book offensive, probably because it doesn’t show the director in the book in such a bright light, but ostensibly I was fired because my little 150 page book might make, “some of our patrons uncomfortable” or “some patrons may not come to the library anymore because of my book.” Nevermind the fact that the particular patrons he is referring to would come to the library even if it were burning down to access their porn, terrorist groups, pedophile, or alien sightings sites.

Uh-oh. Alien sighting sites.

She laments that she is unable to find a lawyer to take her case. The comment thread there is only four posts long right now, with half of them from the author herself.

We’re up to 11 August now, when WorldNetDaily printed a condensed version of the Ludington Daily News story. Should the WorldNetDaily or Ludington Daily Press stories vanish from the web, they’ve both been reprinted at the SafeLibraries blog, “Educating people and politicians about public libraries and who controls them. Hint: local citizens should, not the American Library Association. If your local library is run by ALA acolytes applying ALA policy, this blog will provide examples of what can be done to reverse that.”

Interested in how The Library Diaries is doing saleswise? Here’s a graph of the book’s Amazon Sales Rank starting on 13 August.

I learned about this story from a thread, started on 13 August, called PA author, a librarian, gets fired from job because of book, in a forum where folks who think that PublishAmerica is the worst thing since mangel-wurtzel bread gather. PublishAmerica is well-known for not bothering to read submissions before they offer contracts. Possibly relevant: The $200K judgment against AuthorHouse

Like many places on line, if you don’t read the comments at the various sites you’re missing half the fun.

The Library Diaries by Ann Miketa.

Gnomic Verses
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:27 AM *

My father had some words of advice for me, and now I pass them on to you:

  1. Once you have a car you never have any money ever again.
  2. Go first class or go steerage.
  3. Never drink rotgut.

August 13, 2008
Paperblogging the Worldcon
Posted by Avram Grumer at 11:19 PM * 63 comments

Back in March, a graphic designer named Mike Rohde took a pocket Moleskine sketchbook along with him to the SXSW Interactive conference and took these great little visually-intense notes he called “sketchnotes”. They caught my eye, and I immediately decided to do the same thing for the next SF convention I went to, which turned out to be Denvention 3.

Drawing of overcast Denver skies
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This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

So here are the notes. I’m not as prolific as Rohde, and not yet as good at the graphic notes, but some of the more illustrative pages are pretty good.

I think, for next time, that I need to write bigger, and feel free to let the notes for a given panel sprawl across multiple page spreads. And do more sketches at parties and meals.

The Ball of Kirriemuir
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:38 PM * 188 comments

Tuvok the Vulcan he was there
Standin’ at the bar,
Sayin’ “This isn’t logical
An’ I’m not in pon farr.”

An’ it’s who’ll slash ye this time
Who’ll slash ye noo?
The lass who slashed ye last, lad,
She no will slash ye noo.
Agent Mulder he was there
Suckin’ on a beer
Asking all the passers-by
“Is Alex Krycek here?”
An’ it’s who’ll slash ye this time
Who’ll slash ye noo?
The lass who slashed ye last, lad,
She no will slash ye noo.
Agent Scully she was there
Standin’ on her head
Provin’ tae a’ the boys an’ girls
Her hair is really red.
An’ it’s who’ll slash ye this time
Who’ll slash ye noo?
The lass who slashed ye last, lad,
She no will slash ye noo.
The Buffy-bot sure she was there
Lookin’ round the place
A can o’ lube-oil in her hand
An’ lust upon her face.
An’ it’s who’ll slash ye this time
Who’ll slash ye noo?
The lass who slashed ye last, lad,
She no will slash ye noo.
Vampire Willow she was there
In her leather vest,
Sayin’ “First I’ll do the lassies
An’ then I’ll do the rest.”
An’ it’s who’ll slash ye this time
Who’ll slash ye noo?
The lass who slashed ye last, lad,
She no will slash ye noo.
An’ when the ball was over
Then everyone expressed
While the ballin’ was exquisite
The slash-fic was the best.
An’ it’s who’ll slash ye this time
Who’ll slash ye noo?
The lass who slashed ye last, lad,
She no will slash ye noo.

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This work by James Macdonald is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

August 12, 2008
Posted by Patrick at 11:35 AM *

Back from Denvention. Our flight was delayed to oh-god-o-clock this morning, and both Teresa and I have urgent things to deal with today, so if you’re waiting for either of us to answer something from the last few days, it may be a little while longer before we catch up to it.

Some Worldcon photos are here—including a few from the never-to-be-forgotten Making Light party. You guys rock.

Nicholas Whyte observed in his LJ that Elizabeth Bear is only the second person born in the 1970s to win a Hugo for fiction. I was so stunned by this that I teased out some more statistics along these lines and posted further observations at

Off to the office now.

August 11, 2008
Tales of the Big Advance
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 01:04 PM * 47 comments

When did vanity POD AuthorHouse start giving out million-dollar advances?

AuthorHouse is a “self-publishing” service:

For a modest financial investment you can choose what you want for your book. Our products and services vary in price and can be tailored to your specific needs.

Authors pay up front (that “modest investment” is generally in the mid-three-figure to low-four-figure range) to get their books set up for Print-on-Demand publication. AuthorHouse doesn’t mention advances anywhere on their web page because … they don’t give them. Instead of the natural order of things, where money flows from the publisher to the author, at AuthorHouse money flows from the author to the publisher.

The last time AuthorHouse hit the news for giving big money to an author was in August of 2006, when they were forced to pay $200,000 in punitive damages to Rebecca Brandewyne.

The judge acknowledged that, based on its business model of dealing in volume, AuthorHouse “cannot read every book cover to cover,” and that the company, to a certain extent, is entitled to hold authors responsible for the content of their work.

Now comes a news story, widely reprinted, about how 93-year-old Lorna Page published her novel through AuthorHouse (it came out on 12 July 2008) and has bought a $600,000 house on the advance, into which she intends to move her friends to save them from the horrors of nursing homes.

Sun Aug 10, 8:51 PM ET

LONDON (AFP) - A 93-year-old debut novelist has used the proceeds from her book to move her friends out of nursing homes and into her new country house, she said in British newspaper reports on Monday.

When Lorna Page hit the jackpot with “A Dangerous Weakness”, a raunchy thriller set in the Alps, she traded in her flat for a 310,000-pound (400,000-euro, 600,000-dollar) five-bedroom house in picturesque Devon, southwest England, and invited her contemporaries to move in with her.

The touching story continues with details of how the old lady’s daughter-in-law found the manuscript in a suitcase, sent it off to a publisher, and to her great joy got an acceptance. That she got an acceptance isn’t a surprise: With any vanity the only question on the publisher’s mind is whether the author’s check will clear. This says nothing about the quality of the book: A vanity press will print a good book as fast as it’ll print a bad one. But the good book’s author should expect the same sales as the bad book’s: 75-150 copies, depending on how many friends and how big a family the author has.

The book has not been reviewed anywhere that I can discover. The paperback version is currently out of stock at, while the hardcover version has a 8-11 day wait for delivery. This is typical for POD books, which by their nature can’t handle volume sales, far less best-seller volumes.

My thoughts: There was no “significant advance” for this book. Even if the book was selling gangbusters, even if AuthorHouse paid royalties monthly, even if it sold a ton of copies, there’s no way that a book that came out a month ago on 10 July (hardcover) and 12 July (paperback) would have delivered a check in time to put a down-payment on a house and for the author to move in.

Someone is fibbing.

Classifying the Novel
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:01 AM *

Novels may be classified in this manner:

(a) Those that are best-sellers, (b) those that were assigned to you in school, (c) those that you feel you have already read even though you have not, (d) classics, (e) those that are not read as the author intended, (f) those that many intend to read “some day,” (g) fantasy trilogies, (h) those that are otherwise not flawed, (i) those that were written on manual typewriters, (j) those that can be judged by their covers, (k) those that were padded by their designers during production to appear longer than they are, (l) those that are only called ‘novel’ by courtesy, (m) those that have been condensed by Readers Digest, (n) those that look well upon the shelf.

August 10, 2008
CNN Spam?
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:58 PM * 61 comments

Over on the so-called “CNN Blog” we find this entry:

August 8, 2008
Fraudulent spam about
Posted: 07:45 PM ET

Earlier this week, a spam message purporting to be from CNN began circulating the Internet. We decided to blog about this to alert those of you who hadn’t yet received it to be on the lookout for it; and also to assure those of you who did receive it that the message was NOT, in fact, from CNN.

As you may know, spammers often disguise or forge the source of their e-mail to give recipients the impression that the message derived from another system, especially one tied to a recognizable brand. In this instance, the spammer chose to use the CNN brand.

The message, claiming to contain CNN’s Top 10 news stories and videos of the day, is fraudulent and did not originate from CNN. If you have received it, we suggest that you delete it from your mailbox. Further, we recommend you delete any e-mail message from your mailbox that you believe may be illegitimate.

Thanks to all of you out there who alerted us to the existence of this spam purporting to be from CNN.

Posted by: CNN Public Relations
Filed under: marketing • technology

CNN is being mighty coy about exactly what this spam says, other than that it purports “to contain CNN’s Top 10 news stories and videos of the day.”

Under normal circumstances when there’s a new spam going around I find about 180 copies in my spam filter. But nothing that seems to match that description has shown up.

The bulk messages that purport to be CNN Alerts, that direct you to click here for more information about some likely keyword, but really take you to a website in Lower Slobistan where you find your computer recruited into a bot net faster than you can say Java Script, have been around for a while, and don’t match this description.

So, anyone know what’s up with CNN Spam?

August 09, 2008
Obama 666
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:20 AM * 123 comments

I’d been wondering about all the wingers who were calling Obama “the Messiah.” It seemed like an odd kind of slur.

Now much has become clear.

It seems that dog-whistling on Obama-as-Antichrist is gaining ground, including a commercial spot from the McCain campaign.

From Time Magazine:

Perhaps the most puzzling scene in the ad is an altered segment from The 10 Commandments that appears near the end. A Moses-playing Charlton Heston parts the animated waters of the Red Sea, out of which rises the quasi-presidential seal the Obama campaign used for a brief time earlier this summer before being mocked into retiring it. The seal, which features an eagle with wings spread, is not recognizable like the campaign’s red-white-and-blue “O” logo. That confused Democratic consultant Eric Sapp until he went to his Bible and remembered that in the apocalyptic Book of Daniel, the Antichrist is described as rising from the sea as a creature with wings like an eagle.

Do read the entire Time article.

Over at Slacktivist, Fred Clark, who has been doing a brilliant anaylsis/takedown of the Left Behind series from the conservative Christian point of view, has picked up on this story. Read his commentary too. (And read his critique of Left Behind while you’re at it.)

August 08, 2008
Tor party logistics
Posted by Teresa at 11:57 AM * 16 comments

Greetings from Denvention!*

If you’re at the worldcon and feel like lending a helping hand this afternoon, Tor has a logistical bottleneck. We’re shorthanded this convention, and Denvention doesn’t have the kind of clearly delineated relationship with its hotels that makes it possible to drive up to the Furengba Hotel’s main entrance, bestow advance tokens of esteem on the bellhops, and have them carry all the supplies up to the party suite.*

The other difficulty is that we’re not yet sure when we’re going to arrive at the Furengba with our supplies. Obviously, we don’t expect anyone to keep their entire afternoon schedule clear; you’d be volunteering to help if our arrival time coincides with the time you’re available.

To volunteer, email your cellphone number to and We’ll also try to post info updates in the comment thread.

Russia Invades Georgia
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:15 AM * 341 comments

Breaking news: Russian tanks are rolling south. Georgia (whose army has US trainers) appears to be surprised and is calling up the reserves.

Preemptive defense is a nasty precedent, isn’t it?

August 06, 2008
Graphing the Novel
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:47 AM *

I claim that all novels can be plotted in 3-space along the following axes:

x: True to Beautiful

y: Realistic to Symbolic

z: Dinosaurian to Sodomistic

August 05, 2008
Scenes From The Lives Of The Great Moderators
Posted by Patrick at 09:28 PM * 129 comments

You really have to read the first seventy or so comments to this innocuous Boing Boing post, tiresome though many of those comments are, in order to grasp in full what follows. At #72 TNH is still trying to talk sense to the insensate. At #80 she’s inventing a whole new universe of discourse instead. Flee, puny Earthlings.

All Singing
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:56 PM * 60 comments

It is a time of civil war in the galaxy…

Actually, it isn’t. The war’s over and the browncoats lost. Captain Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds and his crew on the Firefly-class freighter Serenity have a long transit between worlds, and they’re frankly getting a little bored in space. So they decide to put on a musical, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!.

The crew and passengers of Serenity:

  • Captain Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds: a defeated but unrepentant browncoat.
  • Zoë Washburne: Mal’s comrade in arms during the war; now his executive officer
  • Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburne: Pilot of Serenity; Zoë’s husband.
  • Inara Serra: A companion, who travels with Serenity, she rents space on one of the shuttles.
  • Jayne Cobb: A weapons specialist.
  • Kaylee Frye: Ship’s engineer
  • Dr. Simon Tam: A passenger; ship’s doctor
  • River Tam: Simon’s sister; a stowaway on the run from the Alliance
  • Shepherd Book: A passenger. A preacher. A man with a mysterious past.
Major characters from Oklahoma!:
  • Curly McLain: a cowboy, the romantic lead (“O What a Beautiful Morning”)
  • Ado Annie Carnes: a young lady, comedy secondary romance (“I Can’t Say No”)
  • Will Parker: a cowboy, comedy secondary romance (“Everything’s Up To Date in Kansas City”)
  • Aunt Eller Murphy: an older lady; Laurey’s aunt
  • Laurey Williams: a young lady, the heroine (“Many a New Day”)
  • Ali Hakim: a peddler (“It’s a Scandal, It’s an Outrage”)
  • Andrew Carnes: a farmer; Ado Annie’s father
  • Jud Fry: Aunt Eller’s hired hand; the villain (“Lonely Room”)
  • Gertie Cummings: Friend to Laurey and Annie; a flirtatious young lady

The question is: who plays what roles in Serenity’s production of Oklahoma!?

August 03, 2008
Iran again
Posted by Teresa at 10:10 PM * 209 comments

Last April, I discussed the basic problems of going to war with Iran: (1.) We can’t even pacify Iraq, and they want to start another war? (2.) The rest of the world is not going to believe a word we say about WMDs. (3.) Iran’s a bigger country than Iraq, with a bigger military, and they like us even less than the Iraqis do. (4.) All the foregoing problems, plus any others you can think of, are secondary to the fact that no sane commander-in-chief would pick an unnecessary fight with a country that’s got the kind of geography Iran does.

At the time, I assumed that Bush, Cheney & Co. had been thinking of using smallish tactical nukes. For one thing, they kept playing up the “Iran + nuclear” angle, which I took to mean they were manufacturing a justification for preemptive retaliation. For another, what else were they going to use? The National Guard can only stretch so far.

Since B&C seemed to be putting the idea behind them, I also assumed it was a dead issue. That was optimistic. They’ve kept at it. Why? I have no more idea now than I had before. The idea makes no sense. Even the Rand Corporation has said that “declaring war on terror” is not the way to go.

Still, I was honestly shocked when I read in Think Progress that Seymour Hersh, who recently reported that we’re already conducting covert operations against Iran, has now said that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in Cheney’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran. One idea that was considered at the meeting was to build some fake Iranian PT boats, have Navy SEALs dress up as Iranians, send them out into the Gulf of Hormuz, and stage a shoot-out with them. This was ultimately rejected—not because it was grossly dishonest, but because it might result in Americans killing Americans. Apparently, even Dick Cheney knows that’s bad press.

Hersh’s editor at The New Yorker didn’t want to publish the story because the meeting in Cheney’s office didn’t accept the idea. This astounds me. It isn’t worth reporting that they even considered such an idea? …Go read the story. It’s short. They’ve got a transcript of Seymour Hersh talking about the meeting, and it’s short too. So go look.

Kevin Drum commented on the story in the Washington Monthly, and added:

If this story sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In one of David Manning’s famous memos describing a prewar meeting between George Bush and Tony Blair, he says that Bush admitted that WMD was unlikely to be found in Iraq and then mused on some possible options for justifying a war anyway:
“The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours,” the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. “If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”
In the end, of course, we didn’t do this. We just didn’t bother with any pretext at all.
One more piece of evidence that Bush was lying all along. I don’t know why his hapless lackwit supporters keep defending him.

I do know why Iran would want a nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein got rid of his WMDs, and we invaded his country, trashed the place, killed quantities of its civilians, and executed him. North Korea still has its whatever-it-has, and we’re being very polite to its Beloved Leader. I’ll bet a lot of other countries have reached the same conclusions.

What I’d really like to know is why the civilized world hasn’t stopped us. If this misbehavior of ours goes on much longer, they’re going to have to stop us for their own sake, not just out of abstract justice. Why not get started now? And while they’re at it, they can send in some election monitors.

Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:35 AM * 117 comments

Think of any number from one to 10.

When you have it, multiply it by 9.

If it’s a two-digit number, add the digits together. For example, if your number is 24, 2+4=6

Now, subtract 5 from the number in your head.

Now, think of the letter in the alphabet that corresponds with the number you are thinking about. For instance, if you are thinking of the number “1”, it would be “A”. Number “2” would be “B”. “3” is “C”, and so on.

Do you have the letter in your head? Good.

Now, think of a country that starts with the letter you’re thinking of. Good. Spell the country in your head.

Fine… think about the second letter in that country’s name. Now, quickly think of an animal whose name begins with that letter.

Now, think of the animal’s color.

Click Here….

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