zen.org Communal Weblog

May 31, 2006

House Update

Filed under: — Sven @ 14:58 GMT

The kitchen is about done.  The counter came in yesterday, when I come home today the sink should be up and the dish washer working again.  The down stairs bathroom is about done too, and useable.  The last part, and the smallest of the three changes, the upstares bathroom.  Demolition started yesterday, led paint flakes flying everywhere.  So much so that Zoë spent last night at my parents house, and is likely to do so again.

The best part about tonight, I get to start moving back into the kitchen.  I’ll be moving pots and pans out of the living and dining room and into the new cabinets.  Just in time too, next week the Cherry Grove Organic Farm pickups start, at least a week earlier then last year.  It’s so exciting.

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May 14, 2006

The true use of Mother's Day

Filed under: — brendan @ 13:50 GMT

“The NSA wants to remind everyone to call their mothers this  Sunday.  They need to calibrate their system.”

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May 13, 2006

Arrogance by the Numbers

Filed under: — alice @ 18:07 GMT

From The Financial Times

Bush administration’s telephone snooping

George W. Bush assured Americans this week that his administration was doing nothing illegal by maintaining a record of telephone calls made by about 200m US subscribers. But the president has already made clear that his definition of what is legal applies to virtually anything he chooses to authorise in the name of national ­security.

The leak on Thursday to the USA Today newspaper revealing that the US National Security Agency was keeping a log of billions of calls made each year in America – in what is surely the largest database ever assembled – is troubling at many levels. It is the latest example of the administration’s habit of intruding on American freedoms – whether the right to privacy, habeas corpus or other ironclad constitutional protections – without having obtained permission from the courts or Congress.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, Mr Bush de­clared America was engaged in a war that had no apparent territorial or temporal limits. He also made it clear he believed it was the president’s prerogative to decide how, where and when to conduct the war on terror – or any other war – without recourse to Congress. Mr Bush’s doctrine, which some call the “new imperial presidency”, strikes at the heart of America’s constitutional separation of ­powers.

The implications of Mr Bush’s doctrine are too manifold to enumerate here. But it is worth restating the most egregious. Since 2001 Mr Bush has decreed that it is the right of the executive alone to decide who – whether American or foreign – qualifies as an “unlawful enemy combatant” and then to detain that person without access to a lawyer or possibility of trial for an indefinite period, until death if necessary. Likewise, Mr Bush has absolved himself from following US and international laws that ban the use of torture for certain categories of people who are determined by the executive alone. Any attempt by Congress to constrain the administration by enacting new statutes is treated as advisory rather than legally binding. Mr Bush has appended more than 500 “signing statements” to new laws that give him the right to interpret what the law means. The most shocking example was Mr Bush’s assertion of the president’s right to ignore elements of a bill enacted by Congress last December that outlawed the use of torture.

In the words of the pro-Republican Cato Institute, Mr Bush’s doctrine states that, “when we’re at war, anything goes, and the president gets to decide when we’re at war”. Any attempt to question Mr Bush’s doctrine or to divulge its operational detail to the public is portrayed as assisting America’s enemies, including al-Qaeda. The only safeguard proffered against the executive’s abuse of these extraordinary wartime powers is that Mr Bush can be trusted to do the right thing.

None of this is to dispute the fact that the fight against terrorism is different to the prosecution of conventional war and might necessitate the temporary curbing of certain freedoms, including the right to privacy. Most reasonable people, including judges, legislators and ordinary citizens, can agree on this. But Mr Bush’s actions go much further. Ultimately, they are also self-defeating. Whether or not Congress turns Democrat in November, Mr Bush faces a constitutional backlash that is probably unstoppable. In pursuit of the imperial presidency, Mr Bush has turned himself into a very premature lame duck.

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May 11, 2006

Well tcl me impressed

Filed under: — brendan @ 17:55 GMT

This has got to be one of the coolest domains ever: tcl.tk
(Tcl is an interactive programming language, and Tk is a graphical user interface toolkit in Tcl.)

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May 10, 2006

The Bush Administration at Work

Filed under: — alice @ 15:56 GMT

This story from today’s The Washington Post is a perfect illustration of way George W. Bush’s corrupt Administration operates:

Costly Words: ‘I Don’t Like President Bush’
By Al Kamen
Wednesday, May 10, 2006; A23
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson was back home in Dallas on April 28 giving a speech to minority real estate folks and offering a most interesting take on how business is done in Washington.

Jackson, former head of the Dallas Housing Authority, recounted a conversation he had in the nation’s capital with a minority publisher.

“He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years,” Jackson said of the bidder, according to an account of the speech in the Dallas Business Journal. “He made a heck of a proposal and was on the GSA [General Services Administration] list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him.

“Then he said something. . . . He said, ‘I have a problem with your president.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘I don’t like President Bush. ‘ I thought to myself, ‘Brother, you have a disconnect — the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn’t be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don’t tell the secretary.’ “He didn’t get the contract,” Jackson continued. “Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don’t get the contract. That’s the way I believe.”

Dallas Business Journal reporter Christine Perez asked HUD spokeswoman Dustee Tucker , who attended the speech, about the value of the yanked advertising contract. Perez was told that could not be provided.

“Because it was not awarded per what the secretary said, we don’t have any record of it,” Tucker said. “It was probably all verbal at that point.” Tucker didn’t return calls yesterday. But Democrats, led by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), called for Jackson’s head.

Aside from violating the Constitution’s prohibitions on government retaliation for speech, we’re told Jackson’s peculiar view may violate federal procurement law, which requires “complete impartiality and . . . preferential treatment for none.”

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The wonders of human memory

Filed under: — brendan @ 15:52 GMT

While doing some work, I was listening to “Homeward” by The Sundays. The open window behind my monitor shows a bright sunny day in Ireland, a gentle breeze ruffling the (far too many) sheets of paper on my desk. My mind quickly left the code I was trying to debug on the screen, and put me driving on Highway 17 in the hot summer of 1993.  I was on my way home to Santa Cruz on a Saturday afternoon from work. (I was single, hacked obsessively, it was Silicon Valley, of course I was working on the weekend.) There I was in my second-hand 1990 Hyundai Excel, working my way up to the summit where the temperature would drop by 10 degrees and I’d start my downward spiral on the curvy roads to get home. In the tape deck is a cassette (which I still own) with a copy of The Sundays’ Static & Silence album, playing for the 100th time.  The song finished, I left the image of the car twisting and turning its way along the many curves and came back to reality.  It’s truly remarkable how much is unconsciously saved in the depths of your mind.

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Mallard Mating

Filed under: — Sven @ 14:54 GMT

Being reminded by a recent comment by a Ms. Colleen of Tomahowk, WA to a a post I made about Wood Ducks, I was reminded of a happening last Sunday. Zoë and I where walking along the Delaware Cannel, we spent about an half hour just looking at one of the old locks, being soothed by the sound of the water gushing though. On the way back I was looking for wood ducks, but spotted three male mallards slowly swimming by.

“Look Zoë,” said I, “three ducks, mallards.” Zoë looked, and pointed and said “duck.” The first one swam over to the side, and out from under a rock hanging over the water he poked a female mallard out, and all three of them jumped on her back and starded duck humping! While one of the males quickly gave up and swam away the other two where rentless to this poor duck maiden. Quacks, water splashing, most of the time the lass was totally submerged. Zoë and I stared, am I to hide a nearly two year old of such things?

Everything worked out in the end. On of remaining two male ducks left, and the now consummated couple seemed very happy together. In all it took two or three minutes. Given the homosexual necrophilia tendencies of the male mallard, maybe such other actions should not be surprising.

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May 8, 2006

Jordie LaForge-ish behind-the-head design.

Filed under: — Sven @ 21:24 GMT

Headphones don’t last when I get them.  Usually the left earphone stops working.  I expect some nerves impuls drives me to tug on the cord, but nevertheless they still break.  I ended up geting the sleek Jordie LaForge-ish behind-the-head designed Logitech® Curve Headphones for MP3.  Now, months later, the earphones are still fully functioning, but not so the behind-the-head design.  The girth of my head have caused cracks to apear, and a few of them are nearing a split.  The duct tape will me comming out soon.

So, if you have a head that often XXL hats are too small, don’t get the Logitech® Curve Headphones for MP3 if you wish not to have a patch job.  For people with sane sized heads, I’d suggest it.

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May 4, 2006

No Doctor Who for Me

Filed under: — Sven @ 01:32 GMT

I came home today to limited basic cable. Since September 2004 I had been getting extended for free, so I’m happy. The first thing I thought was no more Doctor Who! Since March I have been reliving my childhood with Doctor Who on the SciFi channel. I guess I’ll have to wait until Netflix has the Zone 1 DVD. No more Daily Show too. As for the World Cup, I guess there is always Fútbol. Oddly enough, I get MTV2, but not MTV. Weird.

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May 3, 2006

The new kitchen is here, the new kitchen is here!

Filed under: — Sven @ 21:03 GMT

Well, it will be here tomorrow on the fourth of May.  We have all been living in a haze of dry wall dust for the past month and I feel we are about to hit the halfway point.  I think Daphne, Zoë and I will be eating out for a week or so, but we are going to have a nice new kitchen.

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