Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Friday, September 30, 2005

Going for the World Record 

Me, up close (click for detail):

my long eyebrow hairs

Until five years ago when a friend pointed out all the Old Masters have exuberant brow bristles I was a bit self-conscious about my somewhat immodest and wooly forehead. And now, aready over 4 cm without trying, my prize eyebrows are over halfway to the World Record for longest eyebrow. Until I read of the record, I would occasionally trim the 7 or 8 eyebrows which grow fast and long. I don't know if they'll fall out before they reach record length of a little over three inches, but in the words of Woody Allen, "80% of success is showing up."

Please leave my good wishes and if you care, suggest what color I ought to claim for my eyes on my next driver's license.

To Do List 


Clever (multi-MB Quicktime Movie).

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Internets 

Three recent bookmarks I really enjoy: Earth wallpaper, Prelinger Archives (public domain movies), and Richard Harter's World.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Biblical knowledge test 

Tough! I got 30 correct out of 50.

On the Separation of Church and State quiz, I got 17 correct out of 21.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Political test 

You are a Social Liberal
(80% permissive)
and an...
Economic Liberal
(18% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

The bungle of the buses 

Incompetence at all turns.

House Republicans magically produce three zeros 

Their plan to offset Katrina costs makes up dozens of billions per year in nonexistent offsets.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Freedom is messy.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Roberts nomination: Credit where due 

Although his lack of experience borders on alarming, particularly in that he's been nominated for Cheif Justice, I think Roberts is an acceptable choice for the Supreme Court.

Roberts easily comes off as more of a centrist than right-winger. And I think everybody can agree he's a sharp legal mind.

He's clearly not a Scalia, Thomas, or Rogers-Brown type. I think ther choice could have been much worse. Imagine a right winger like Scalia or a nitwit like Janice Rogers-Brown being Chief Justice. Shudder.

I believe Roberts will stand up for the Court as a co-equal branch of government, which is fortunately uncharacteristic of judges the righrt-wing likes; In my opinion wishing to dilute the power of the Judicial Branch is the most dangerous attribute of judges the right approves of.

So the Dems are right to let him through without a fight which should be saved in case Bush's next Supreme Court appointment is a right-winger.


17 November

Oops - I get September and November mixed up. The months of the year were taught in 3rd grade in the school district I lived in during 2nd grade and vice versa. In college I taught myself to recite the months in order but I still get mixed up sometimes.

Midnight snack: sage rubbed top sirloin, hashbrowns. raw carrots, honeydew 

top sirloin

Two things to meditate upon 

2002 DHS Executive Summary doesn't mention natural disasters.

German inventor develops alternative fuel and claims he gets zero miles per cat with it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A post about my week 

A week ago today, I read a few protocols on broken ribs and discovered doctors don't do anything for the injury except prescribe strong painkillers. They don't even "tape" it up anymore.

Fortunately - immediately prior to my research - I broke a rib or two. So I saved myself and other taxpayers an uninsured trip to the emergency room. Save my chronic childhood ear infections and the after-effects of a liver biopsy, it was the most severe pain I've experienced.

I'm pretty tough when it comes to lying lazily in bed for extended periods, so the first two days were spent reading in bed while doing my best to move nothing but my eyes and the pages. When I did move, I pretended the painful area was a basketball spinning on a single string of uncooked spaghetti, moving very slowly and deliberately.

By now, the pain is just an ache except when I cough ... or sneeze - which I've done once since the injury, this morning. It really hurt. Man.

I was able to carry my bike down and up the stairs just fine tonight, so the Calhoun photos will start up again tomorrow.

Friday, September 09, 2005

aeah ! !!!! 

Brownie removed,

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sixteen pages of NO 

Scroll down.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina: A uniter, not divider 

Main story same on both Drudge and RawStory ...

Editorials from the New OIrleans Times-Picayune ... & Geraldo 

The entire paper is being published in blog format. From the September 2 editorial,

Even as people from New Orleans desperately search for their family members and rescue workers patrol the region in boats, hack through roofs and try to pluck survivors out, some people in other parts of the country have begun to blame us, the victims. Our crime? Choosing to live in New Orleans.

Especially heartless were U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and the writers of an editorial that appeared Wednesday in the Republican-American, a newspaper in Waterbury, Conn. Mr. Hastert was quoted by the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill., saying it makes no sense to rebuild New Orleans where it is. "It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed," he said.

The Republican-American's headline asks, "Is New Orleans worth reclaiming?" The editorial depicts our city and our people as a drain on federal coffers, and if you read it you might get the impression that New Orleans has never contributed to the economic vitality of this country. It maligns the city and our people as if we're nothing more than outstretched palms waiting for FEMA grants that only they fund.

... At least President Bush realizes how valuable we are. He flew over the storm-ravaged areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Wednesday afternoon and seems sincerely sorrowful for all the people whose lives have been irreversibly changed by this storm. His promise to send aid, and lots of it, was encouraging.

... President Bush is promising aid. The sooner we get it, the better. One thing is certain: We will rebuild. New Orleans is worth it. So are the people who call it home.

By September 3rd, the editorial board's patience wore out,

A day after a normally easy-going Mayor Ray Nagin blasted federal officials' seeming indifference to the plight of New Orleanians who are stranded and dying, President Bush stood on the lawn of the White House and conceded the point: The federal government did not move quickly enough or forcefully enough to help those people hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina. "The results are not acceptable," the president said before boarding a helicopter to go survey the storm's damage.

It's good to hear the president admit his administration's shortcomings, and it's even better to hear his promise to help all of us who are in need. But the sad truth remains that the federal government's slow start has already proved fatal to some of the most vulnerable people in the New Orleans area. Water has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of people. A lack of water to drink is exacting its toll on others.

"I don't want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences," the mayor said during a WWL radio interview Thursday. "Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city."

The mayor had obviously become fed up with federal bureaucrats' use of future tense verbs. "Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here," he said. "They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country." ...

Mayor Nagin's furious radio interview can be found here.

Geraldo Riverra - who has covered war-zones his entire career - was brought to tears during an interview pleading that people be allowed to leave New Orleans on foot instead of being forcibly barricaded in and in lieu of the transportation which hasn't showed up for those still kept in the Superdome, quite like herded animals.

UPDATE: Evacuation of the Superdome has restarted.

OK, well, then ... 

A partial explanation for the delay in hetting help to Louisiana: paperwork,

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard on Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans Internet broadcasts 

Watch and listen.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Lake Calhoun yesterday on September 1 

the lake

September 1, 2005. Dusk.

bench bench
lake lake
water water

The irony ... 

Today marks the first day of National Preparedness Month.

Giving the greatest benefit of the doubt ... 

OK, say for the sake of argument it's just really really hard to get basic supplies to a flooded city, that even at a swift rate it takes more than 5 days to get releif really rolling, this I don't think can be explained away,

Doctors at two desperately crippled hospitals in New Orleans called The Associated Press Thursday morning pleading for rescue, saying they were nearly out of food and power and had been forced to move patients to higher floors to escape looters.

"We have been trying to call the mayor's office, we have been trying to call the governor's office ... we have tried to use any inside pressure we can. We are turning to you. Please help us," said Dr. Norman McSwain, chief of trauma surgery at Charity Hospital, the largest of two public hospitals.

... "We need coordinated help from the government," McSwain said.

He described horrific conditions.

"There is no food in Charity Hospital. They're eating fruit bowl punch and that's all they've got to eat. There's minimal water," McSwain said.

The hospitals haven't moved from where they were before the Hurricane five days ago. There is no reason I can think of why supplies haven't been choppered onto the roof, and a few armed guards left to watch over things.

Downgrade of FEMA timelined 

Kevin Drum gives us a timeline showing how FEMA has been downgraded during the Bush administration and Republican control of Congress, concluding,

Actions have consequences. No one could predict that a hurricane the size of Katrina would hit this year, but the slow federal response when it did happen was no accident. It was the result of four years of deliberate Republican policy and budget choices that favor ideology and partisan loyalty at the expense of operational competence. It's the Bush administration in a nutshell.

Idiot right-wingers so wildly off the mark, it's funny 

Jimmy Glassman writes,

Giant hurricanes are rare, but they are not new. And they are not increasing. To the contrary. Just go to the website of the National Hurricane Center and check out a table that lists hurricanes by category and decade. The peak for major hurricanes (categories 3,4,5) came in the decades of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, when such storms averaged 9 per decade. In the 1960s, there were 6 such storms; in the 1970s, 4; in the 1980s, 5; in the 1990s, 5; and for 2001-04, there were 3. Category 4 and 5 storms were also more prevalent in the past than they are now. As for Category 5 storms, there have been only three since the 1850s: in the decades of the 1930s, 1960s and 1990s.

Scientifically-minded people like to know where the data being cited comes from. In this case, the National Hurricane Center cites that data from a NOAA report titled (emphasis added) THE DEADLIEST, COSTLIEST, AND MOST INTENSE UNITED STATES HURRICANES FROM 1900 TO 2000, Updated October 2001. The first sentence of the report reads, (more unnecessary emphasis),

This version of the Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Hurricanes from 1900 to 2000 extends the work of Hebert et al. (1997) through the 2000 season.

Yes, indeed, the hurricanes Glassman refers to in "and for 2001-04, there were 3" cite the three category 3, 4 or 5 storms in the 2000 hurricane season alone. Those were,

  1. Hurricane Alberto, category 3, August 4-23, 2000
  2. Hurricane Isaac, category 4, September 21-October 1, 2000
  3. Hurricane Keith, catregory 4, September 28-October 6, 2000

Since the 2000 season, we've had 4 category 3, 4 or 5 storms in the 2001 season,

  1. Hurricane ERIN, category 3, 01-15 SEP
  2. Hurricane FELIX, category 3, 07-19 SEP
  3. Hurricane IRIS, category 4, 04-09 OCT
  4. Hurricane MICHELLE, category 4, 29 OCT-06 NOV

Two in the 2002 season,

  1. Hurricane ISIDORE, category 3, 14-26 SEP
  2. Hurricane LILI category 3, 21 SEP-04 OCT

Three in the 2003 season,

  1. Hurricane FABIAN, category 4, 27 AUG-08 SEP
  2. Hurricane ISABEL, category 5, 06-19 SEP
  3. Hurricane KATE, category 3, 25 SEP-07 OCT

Six in the 2004 season,

  1. Hurricane ALEX, category 3, 31 JUL-06 AUG
  2. Hurricane CHARLEY, category 4, 09-15 AUG
  3. Hurricane FRANCES, category 4, 25 AUG-09 SEP
  4. Hurricane IVAN, category 5, 02-24 SEP
  5. Hurricane JEANNE, category 3, 13-28 SEP
  6. Hurricane KARL, category 4, 16-24 SEP

And so far in the 2005 season, we've so far had three category 3,4 or 5 storms,

  1. Hurricane DENNIS, category 4, 05-13 JUL
  2. Hurricane EMILY, category 4, 11-21 JUL
  3. Hurricane KATRINA, category 5, 23-31 AUG

So, to correct Glassman, he ought to have wrote,

The peak for major hurricanes (categories 3,4,5) came in the decades of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, when such storms averaged 9 per decade. In the 1960s, there were 6 such storms; in the 1970s, 4; in the 1980s, 5; in the 1990s, 5 ...

... but now, just halfway through the decade of 2000's we've already had 21 such storms.

Embarassingly, Glassman finishes off his wildly distorted article by exploiting his misuse/misunderstanding of data to try to score political points,

But environmental extremists do not want to be bothered with the facts. Nor do they wish to mourn the destruction and death wreaked on a glorious city. To their everlasting shame, they would rather distort and exploit.

Over at Powerline, Assrocket cites Glassman's idiocy and concurs,

Of course, facts have never stood in the Left's way. But there is something especially repellent about efforts by left-wingers like Robert Kennedy Jr. to make political hay out of the current natural disaster.

Editorial pages are not happy 


So far, the federal government's immediate response to the destruction of one of the nation's most historic cities does seem commensurate with the scale of the disaster. At an unprecedented news conference, many members of President Bush's Cabinet pledged to dedicate huge resources to the Gulf Coast. The president's decision to release a part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to compensate for the loss of Gulf Coast refineries may represent one of the first truly appropriate uses of that facility.

But over the longer term, it will be extremely important to better understand the causes of this long-predicted disaster and to determine what, if anything, could have prevented it. This administration has consistently played down the possibility of environmental disaster, in Louisiana and everywhere else. The president's most recent budgets have actually proposed reducing funding for flood prevention in the New Orleans area, and the administration has long ignored Louisiana politicians' requests for more help in protecting their fragile coast, the destruction of which meant there was little to slow down the hurricane before it hit the city. It is inappropriate to "blame" anyone for a natural disaster. But given how frequently the impact of this one was predicted, and given the scale of the economic and human catastrophe that has resulted, it is certainly fair to ask questions about disaster preparations. Congress, when it returns, should rise above the blame game and instead probe the state of the nation's preparation for handling major natural catastrophes, particularly those that threaten crucial regions of the country.

NY Times,

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast ...

Right now, hundreds of thousands of American refugees need our national concern and care. Thousands of people still need to be rescued from imminent peril. Public health threats must be controlled in New Orleans and throughout southern Mississippi. Drivers must be given confidence that gasoline will be available, and profiteering must be brought under control at a moment when television has been showing long lines at some pumps and spot prices approaching $4 a gallon have been reported ...

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?

It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America "will be a stronger place" for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.

Manchester Union-Leader,

AS THE EXTENT of Hurricane Katrina's devastation became clearer on Tuesday - millions without power, tens of thousands homeless, a death toll unknowable because rescue crews can't reach some regions - President Bush carried on with his plans to speak in San Diego, as if nothing important had happened the day before.

Katrina already is measured as one of the worst storms in American history. And yet, President Bush decided that his plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of VJ Day with a speech were more pressing than responding to the carnage.

A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource to rescue the stranded, find and bury the dead, and keep the survivors fed, clothed, sheltered and free of disease.

The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, has vanished. In its place is a diffident detachment unsuitable for the leader of a nation facing war, natural disaster and economic uncertainty.

Wherever the old George W. Bush went, we sure wish we had him back.

Arizona Republic,

I'm guessing that Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, will not be remembered as the day President George W. Bush stopped by a retirement community in El Mirage to discuss prescription drug benefits for seniors.

As nice as it was to have the president visit the state we live in, I believe it would have been OK with us if Mr. Bush had canceled or at least postponed his plans in order to monitor the progress of Hurricane Katrina and to review federal relief plans.

As it is, however, the president decided to visit El Mirage. Life goes on. He spoke briefly about the hurricane, promising disaster relief. Then, after urging Americans to pray for those most affected by the storm, Bush said, "I also want to talk about immigration." I've got a feeling that historians looking back on this day will not describe that transition as a particularly shining presidential moment.

Biloxi Sun Herald,

We understand that New Orleans also was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but surely this nation has the resources to rescue both that metropolitan and ours.

Whatever plans that were in place to deal with such a natural disaster have proven inadequate. Perhaps destruction on this scale could not have been adequately prepared for.

But now that it has taken place, no effort should be spared to mitigate the hurricane's impact.

The essentials -- ice, gasoline, medicine -- simply are not getting here fast enough.

We are not calling on the nation and the state to make life more comfortable in South Mississippi, we are calling on the nation and the state to make life here possible.

Yet where is the National Guard, why hasn't every able-bodied member of the armed forces in South Mississippi been pressed into service?

On Wednesday reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics.

... We need the president to back up his declaration of a disaster with a declaration of every man and woman under his command will do whatever is necessary to deal with that disaster.

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