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Journal Journal: Non! 2

A brilliant bit of self-directed sarcasm:

French marchers say 'non' to 2007

Hundreds of protesters in France have rung in the New Year by holding a light-hearted march against it.
Parodying the French readiness to say "non", the demonstrators in the western city of Nantes waved banners reading: "No to 2007" and "Now is better!"

The marchers called on governments and the UN to stop time's "mad race" and declare a moratorium on the future.

The protest was held in the rain and organisers joked that even the weather was against the New Year.

The tension mounted as the minutes ticked away towards midnight - but the arrival of 2007 did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm.

The protesters began to chant: "No to 2008!"

They vowed to stage a similar protest on 31 December 2007 on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris.

User Journal

Journal Journal: [SO] "Oh, hey. Let me get the scrotums off of that first." 7

This isn't, strictly speaking, a SO story. This is actually a story about my father-in-law's truck and my ex-roomate's refigerator.

See, my ex-roomate split with her SO about a year ago. She had just purchased a shiny new french-door fridge for them, and when they split he agreed to keep it and buy it from her at full price. Last month she asked him when he planned on paying for it, and he said something to the effect of "I never said that I would." So my ex-roomate called me for help moving it. We'd been shopping for just such a fridge, and offered to buy it from her. Turned into a good deal all around. But we had to haul it home ourselves.

Neither of us have a vehicle capable of moving a fridge. Therefore we asked to borrow my father-in-law's truck. Her parents live on a farm out in the boonies, the truck was out of gas, and her sister had used the last of the emergency gas can without replacing it. We had a fun time trying to siphon gas from my Subaru, and eventually we got enough in the truck to (probably) get it to the nearest gas station, 15 road miles away. (Did I mention the truck gets about 10 MPG?)

At last we're all ready to pile in the truck and go, when my FIL drops the line which demands its place in history: "Oh, hey. Let me get the scrotums off of that first." We looked puzzled, while he walked around in front of the truck. There on the hood were two fuzzy sheep scrotums lying on the hood. Apparently he had recently butchered a couple ram-lambs and needed a place to dry their scrotums before curing them into sacks..

I suggested that we should bring one for my ex-roomate as a symbol of what she'd like to do to her ex, but my SO suggested that we wait until after the scrotums were cured.

Sensible suggestion, I thought.

Updated to remove accidental apostrophe abuse. The horror!

The Media

Journal Journal: Al Ja-ZERO!

Al Jazeera English is having trouble making it in the United States. The Daily Show's Samantha Bee does her best to help.

Most amusing. A sample:

Will Stebbins, AJ-E: "We're looking to produce a... a journalistically quality product."
Samantha Bee, skeptically: "Aren't you trying to appeal to an American audience?"

Christmas Cheer

Journal Journal: Love and charity for an old friend 3

I read something this morning that has made my day. One of the local Portland weekly newspapers, the Portland Mercury, is holding a charity auction. And this year the beneficiary is the organization that taught me how to be a mediator and (indirectly) gave me my slashdot name.

May I please introduce Resolutions Northwest:

You may not have heard of RNW and their successes, because all their cases are kept strictly confidential. But I can share with you their success rate: Over 90 percent of RNW's mediations have been successful in solving the conflicts in question. Plus, 97 percent of clients would recommend the services. Here's another stat that should pique the interest of most taxpayers (even those who don't believe in conflict resolution): Mediation has been shown to be 10 TIMES less expensive and four times better in reducing future crime than the court system.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Meme Plus

1. What is your occupation?

Network Administrator for a medical clinic.

2. What color are you socks right now?

About A0A0A0.

3. What are you listening to right now?

The bookkeeping department's new Tanzanian employee ask questions, the Medical Records department discuss a chart request, and the building HVAC system trying to warm the place up too much for my tastes.

4. What was the last thing that you ate?

A clementine.

5. Can you drive a stick shift?

Tolerably well. I have some trouble switching between my SO's Honda hotrod and my neighbor's Dodge Ram with a Cummins turbo diesel, but I haven't killed any clutches yet.

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

One the baby has drooled all over.

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone?

Ummm. I dunno, it's been a few days.

8. Do you like the person who sent this to you?

Mr. Slashdot is a member of the OSTG, so who wouldn't?!

9. How old are you today?

39. No, really. 39 for the first time.

10. Favorite drinks?

Carrot juice. No, really.

11. What is your favorite sport to watch?

City youth soccer. Or maybe "Everyone pile on [stepson] and tickle him!"

12. Have you ever dyed your hair?

Not yet.

13. Pets?

Six cats: Crier, May-bell, Cole (he sees dead people), Phobia (called Phober; this cat has half a brain), and Phober's two kittens Chip and Looty (with half a brain between them.)

14. Favorite food?

Trinidadian Curried Goat from Sweetwater's Jam House in Portland. Sadly, the restaurant has been defunct for years so I'll never get more.

15. What was the last movie you watched?

The Fifth Element on DVD, Flushed Away in the theater. Flushed Away is excellent.

16. Favorite holiday?

St. Crispin's Day!

17. What do you do to vent anger?

Flame.

18. What were your favorite toys as a kid?

Legos.

19. What is your favorite: fall or spring?

Fall.

20. Hugs or kisses?

Yes, please.

21. Cherry or blueberry?

Blueberry.

22. Do you want your friends to send this back?

23. Who is the most likely to respond?

24. Who is least likely to respond?

The three above are not really relevant here.

25. Living arrangements?

A large 1910 house, rented (gonna buy it) with SO, two stepkids, six cats, and a surprising lack of fleas.

26. When was the last time you cried?

About two weeks ago.

27. What is on the floor of your closet?

someone else's cruft.

28. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you're sending this to?

My long-time offline friends have already done this one, or something very much like it, so I'll spare them.

29. What did you do last night?

Saw the young cousins who had stayed with us over the weekend off, then collapsed in a twitching heap while enjoying blessed quiet.

Bonus item!

Media

Journal Journal: Info on Israel and Palestine 5

I listened today to a very interesting interview on the radio: Jimmy Carter on Fresh Air.

Two things struck me as interesting about this interview. For starters, Terry Gross gives what is for her a very confronational interview. It is still pretty polite, since she is not exactly a hard-hitting interviewer, but I could clearly hear what seemed to be deep skepticism and annoyance in her voice. Haven't heard that since Bill O'Reilly was on.

Second, I think what Mr. Carter has to say is something many Americans need to hear. If you're concerned about the violence in the region, I think this interview (and presumably Carter's book) contains information that provides valuable perspective on the conflict. Give it a listen if you can.

(I know this is a difficult subject to discuss in a civil manner, but sometimes I just can't resist playing my role no matter how foolhardy it seems.)

Biotech

Journal Journal: Hometown Beersterism

A list of the top ten cities for beer lovers, according to MSNBC puts Stumptown at number 8. Ahead of Prague.

If, as Franklin said, "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" then we're truly blessed around here.

Input Devices

Journal Journal: Morning Wood 2

It was a close call just south of Sandy Sunday night after a tree branch fell in the middle of a sleeping couple.

Jerry and Denise Chilson awoke at around 10:45 p.m. to discover an 8-inch-thick alder branch had punched through the roof of their home at 22215 Cottontail Lane and stabbed all the way through their mattress.

Follow link for photo.

Republicans

Journal Journal: A sad commentary 1

"We came to Washington to change government and government changed us," lamented Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., his eye on the next election in 2008. "We departed rather tragically from our conservative principles."

It is a sad day. They had a historic opportunity to work for positive change (as they saw it) and they squandered it.

The Democrats would be wise to take this as a cautionary lesson. I hope they are sincere in their statements that they want to foster a more civil relationship between the parties.

Worms

Journal Journal: Who needs audits, anyway? 6

Congress Tells Auditor in Iraq to Close Office

By JAMES GLANZ
Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces.

And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen's supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.

Mr. Bowen's office, which began operation in January 2004 to examine reconstruction money spent in Iraq, was always envisioned as a temporary organization, permitted to continue its work only as long as Congress saw fit. Some advocates for the office, in fact, have regarded its lack of a permanent bureaucracy as the key to its aggressiveness and independence.

[...]

Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who followed the bill closely as chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, says that she still does not know how the provision made its way into what is called the conference report, which reconciles differences between House and Senate versions of a bill.

Neither the House nor the Senate version contained such a termination clause before the conference, all involved agree.

"It's truly a mystery to me," Ms. Collins said. "I looked at what I thought was the final version of the conference report and that provision was not in at that time."

"The one thing I can confirm is that this was a last-minute insertion," she said.

[...]

The termination language was inserted into the bill by Congressional staff members working for Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and who declared on Monday that he plans to run for president in 2008.

Mr. Holly, who is the House Armed Services spokesman as well as a member of Mr. Hunter's staff, said that politics played no role and that there had been no direction from the administration or lobbying from the companies whose work in Iraq Mr. Bowen's office has severely critiqued. Three of the companies that have been a particular focus of Mr. Bowen's investigations, Halliburton, Parsons and Bechtel, said that they had made no effort to lobby against his office.

The idea, Mr. Holly said, was simply to return to a non-wartime footing in which inspectors general in the State Department, the Pentagon and elsewhere would investigate American programs overseas. The definite termination date was also seen as helpful for planning future oversight efforts from Bush administration agencies, he said.

But in Congress, particularly on the Democratic side of the aisle, there have long been accusations that agencies controlled by the Bush administration are not inclined to unearth their own shortcomings in the first place.

The criticism came to a head in a hearing a year ago, when Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, induced the Pentagon's acting inspector general, Thomas Gimble, to concede that he had no agents deployed in Iraq, more than two years after the invasion.

A spokesman for the Pentagon inspector general said Thursday that Mr. Gimble had worked to improve that situation, and currently had seven auditors in Baghdad and others working on Iraq-related issues in the United States and elsewhere. Mr. Gimble was in Iraq on Thursday, the spokesman said.

Mr. Bowen's office has 55 auditors and inspectors in Iraq and about 300 reports and investigations already to its credit, far outstripping any other oversight agency in the country. [...]

---

Thanks, Mr. Hunter. I'l be sure to remember this in 2008.

Republicans

Journal Journal: Senatorial Visit [Updated] 13

My Federal gosh-darn Senator, the Hon. Gordon Smith, is due here any minute. He's the Republican half of Oregon's split delegation. I respectfully disagree with him on a number of issues, of course, but he seems to be a decent fellow.

He's here to campaign on behalf of the Republican candidate for Governor, who is also going to be here. He strikes me as a complete tool, but so does the incumbent Democrat. (As one local wag put it, it's a choice between a Goldschmidt crony and a Goldschmidt consigliere. Both probably knew about the ex-Governor's rape of his babysitter and helped cover it up until the statue of limitations ran out.) I think I'll write in Ben Westlund.

Anyway, the nominal purpose of the visit, and the reason they're coming to our clinic, is that they're here to support the Reach Out and Read program by reading to a bunch of kids in our fancy new waiting room.

Staff has been asked to leave politics aside for the day. Our focus is to be on the literacy program, not the political overtones. Therefore, with some regret, I have decided to avoid the event and the surrounding media circus. I'll probably be hiding in the server room.

If his tour of our facility happens to lead him to me, he'll probably notice that I happen to be wearing my Portland Bill of Rights Defense Committee shirt. Strictly a concidence, of course - it was on top of the heap of clean laundry. Really.

But if my plans go completely awry and I happen to chat with Sen. Smith, I might suggest to him that, with all due respect, an excellent use of literacy is for Senators to read the bills presented to them before voting upon them.

Update: The managing partner steered the tour well clear of me. I expect everyone is better off.

Wireless Networking

Journal Journal: [Apple] Shhh! Don't tell.

MacBook Pros can use 802.11a with their built-in radios.

It's not just the new Core 2 Duos, either, but the older MBPs as well.

There's a nifty undocumented feature.

United States

Journal Journal: To Mr. Kerry's Speechwriter 12

Suggested remarks by Mr. Kerry:

"I made a statement last week that caused great offense. Many military people were offended by my statement that people had better get an education or they'd get shipped to Iraq. They were right to be offended by the implication that the military consists mostly of uneducated people. I am sorry. That is not what I meant to imply. That implication is simply not true anymore and hasn't been true for many years. I spoke thoughtlessly, and I did not mean to insult the military. I did mean to point out the foolishness of this administration's policies, and I don't apologize for that. I'll come back to that later.

"Some of you will not believe the sincerity of this apology. To you, I say that I spoke from my own experience in the military, which is of course decades out of date. The habits of youth can be hard to shake, and I am sorry for having spoken thoughtlessly.

"Back then, what I said would have been true. At that time, many of those in the military with higher educations were volunteers, like myself. During the Vietnam war the military had many draftees, and those draftees were disproportionately from among the poorest and least educated segments of our society. Those pursuing higher education were allowed to defer or avoid the draft. As we all know, many members of the administration took advantage of their wealth and influence to avoid combat, or even avoid military service of any kind.

"Of course, we haven't had a draft for many years, and the military has changed dramatically because of that. Since the institution of an all-volunteer military the services have become more selective, and have offered substantial educational benefits to many volunteers. Indeed, many have joined the military as a way to pay for higher education because they could not afford it otherwise. Over the years, this has resulted in a military which is even more educated than the general population, and I think all Americans can take some pride in that.

"But that's today. It wasn't true thirty-five to forty years ago when I served. And if this administration continues its reckless foreign policy, it may not be true in the future either.

"We have already seen that our military forces are being stretched thinner than we'd like, and there's talk of deploying even more troops to Iraq. And then there's the Korean problem to consider. In addition, some services are not meeting their recruiting goals.

"Will this administration continue in its recklessness to the point where we will need to reinstate the draft?"

You can take it from there.

(Unless you're the guy who put those idiotic words in his mouth to start with. If so, then do us all a favor and STFU.)

Spam

Journal Journal: [SS] An open mind about food 3

Last week my eight-year-old stepson and I had an evening to ourselves. I took him shopping for a present for his friend's upcoming birthday party, then told him we got to eat out for dinner... and he got to pick where.

"Anywhere?" he asked.

"Almost. No fast food. Pick a sit-down restaurant."

"Ummm. There's this one place... Tan-Tan?"

"Tin-Tin? The chinese buffet?"

"Yeah! Let's go there!"

"Oh man. That place kinda sucks. Great Wall is better."

"But they have rat on a stick!" he argued.

"They have WHAT?" I exclaimed.

"Rat on a stick. It's really good, and you get to use the wooden things after as toothpicks."

"Oh," I said, figuring out that this was some sort of kebab. "Is that what you call it, or what the restaurant calls it?"

"I think they call it that."

"Wow. Are you sure they're kidding?"

"I dunno."

"What if it really is rat?"

"Well," he said, "I'm pretty sure they cook it enough that all the germs are gone."

"Fair enough."

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