environment { 41pounds.org

After reading EB's post about 'When Fox Attacks, Fight Back,' I followed the link to check out the site foxattacks.com (which I think is an awesome idea). While reading through I found a link to this site: 41Lbs. Its an organization that when you subscribe, it does the leg work for you to reduce your junkmail by 85-90% (and donate $15 to a charity in your name). That's a lot of paper saved. Since moving to Rochester, we don't receive nearly the junkmail we used to in St. Paul, but we still receive a lot. I've signed up for that take me off the list thing the Direct Marketing Association offers, but its only been marginally effective (and a pain in the ass). I'm thinking of signing Nerdwife and I up for this and see what happens.

The only problem I see, is in this age of mega-mergers and mega-corps, your information is sold and spread far and wide. And any company you've done business with (which many view as just looking at them) lets them get around the DMA mailing block. They of course share this info with their business partners, and thus claim prior business and eventually your junkmail is back up. Case in point, my credit card. Over the last 12 years I've had a credit card, I've had at least eight different credit card companies. In only one case, did I choose to switch myself (when I switched from my Wachovia, now Chase card to Working Assets, who had MBNA now Bank of America). Over this journey, three of these changes resulted in my ending up with Bank of America, who ties Chase for most bothersome with mailing and phone offers (though Capital One is gaining on them fast).

Seriously we need to move to an automatic opt-out system (perhaps like the European Union has), if not for the usual reasons, here's another one, the environment.

casual_friday_part2 { 'The man will die...'

'but not his ideas.'

(We should listen to the message underneath the pop goodness of this song...they're some novel ideas)

'Happy Nation' - Ace of Base

casual_friday { 'You're the one with the burden of intuition...'

'you're the one with the freedom of a blank stare.'

'A Good Start' by Maria Taylor


justice { Tripoli Six

The Tripoli Six have been freed.


movie review { 'Transformers'

Synopsis: Big robots invade earth looking for the 'All Spark' a cube of immense power that can breath life into machines. There was also the required romantic sub-plot, copious hard body shots, and heaps of car porn.

My view: Well the computer science was bad, which was not surprising. The product placement was rampant. And the romantic and hacker sub-plots were weak. The humans vs Decepticon hacking wars resulted in pretty much the only thing humans can do is 'cut the hard lines'. Seriously they were cut so many times I feel bad for the cable pullers who have to restring the cat-5. Despite all this, I enjoyed the movie. The Auto-bot characters, despite my feelings about 'Bumblebee' as a camero, were likeable. The special effects were cool. I could've used a big more backstory about Cybertron as it is framed in this movie, but it wasn't necessary. I loved the Transformers as a kid, I had many, I watched the TV show, I saw the 1986 movie...where Optimus Prime died (and I cried). While this interpretation was not like the comics or the cartoon, it stood alone well on its own. Don't expect a deep plot, and you will have to tolerate a lot of jingoism, but it was still a good overall movie.

Grade: B- (sorry Jazz was a porche, not a Pontiac solstice, Ratchet was a generic ambulance, not a hummer converted, you got points though for Starscream as a F-22, also the robots could have used a bit more screen time to develop their characters more, especially Jazz, who along with Bumblebee was the most human friendly in the old series) D as in AVOID, upon reflection, this movie really did suck. Like 300 it gets worse the farther away from it you get as you think about it more and more and the effects wear off. This movie was terrible, terrible plot, characters as deep as mud puddles (the robots had more depth), and it was a recruiting commercial for the American military, as well as product placement for the dying American auto industry (for fuck's sake Jazz was a porsche and Bumblebee a VW bug, and Optimus Prime was a cab over Mack). Granted it didn't have more jingoism than a College Republican convention, that was 300, but it had a more subtle jingoism that I found no less disgusting over time. The effects were cool, as were the transformations, but after they wore off I'm left with a feeling of severe lacking. Maybe boobies would have helped...but they didn't help 300 over time.

---UPDATE 7/23/2007---
City Pages had some good reviews here and here.

environment { another hidden cost of energy

Our water. This is no surprise, it takes an insane amount of clean water to make things we use in our lives from computer chips, to cars, to, well, more water. I assumed water would be needed in the creation of Ethanol, the much touted 'green' alternative energy source here in the Midwest, a salvation looked to by farmers who are being pressed by international competition and agri-corps. But I never knew how much water it takes to make 1 gallon of Ethanol and was shocked to learn it takes 3.7 gallons! Ethanol has been a controversial alternative fuel for decades, mostly because it takes more energy per unit to produce with current methods than can be derived out of it as a fuel source.


politcs { Too Far

I saw this on Evil Bobby. I had to read it twice. I thought it was a joke, or a cleverly crafted piece of satire. Then I saw the link to the White House.

Its not a joke.

This happened quietly. I didn't see it on the front-page of the New York Times on July 18th. I haven't seen word of this running around on the various channels I read. Either I completely missed it, or this was stealthily slipped out.

Here's the whole text:

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

RSS Feed White House News

Fact sheet Message to the Congress of the United States Regarding International Emergency Economic Powers Act

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to, (i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 2. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 3. For purposes of this order:

(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;

(b) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and

(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.

Sec. 4. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government, consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order and, where appropriate, to advise the Secretary of the Treasury in a timely manner of the measures taken.

Sec. 7. Nothing in this order is intended to affect the continued effectiveness of any rules, regulations, orders, licenses, or other forms of administrative action issued, taken, or continued in effect heretofore or hereafter under 31 C.F.R. chapter V, except as expressly terminated, modified, or suspended by or pursuant to this order.

Sec. 8. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.



July 17, 2007.

We're long past this going too far. Congress must reinstate checks and balances. The President's powers must be curtailed. Its small, subtle, yet profound actions like these that erode our personal freedoms and continue the slide towards tyranny.

What do I mean? Well read up on some history. Start with the Federalist Papers.

Why shouldn't the President have this power to seize assets or terrorists? Because he's using the draconian Executive Orders relating to the Iraq war to seize the properties of anyone he or his Administration deem as terrorists. There's been no transparency in this Administration. People are arrested and held indefinitely as 'enemy combatants' with no trial. To me this seems like a way for the current Administration to consolidate power and silence dissent. The abuses of power, the erosion of personal liberties, and lack of oversight of the Administration and the various law enforcement organizations in the name of 'national security' are too numerous to list. Anyone who has questioned these actions have been deemed somehow un-American. I've questioned them, and will continue to do so, someone has to.

Readers over at BoingBoing have cleared up some things. I've misunderstood some of the wordings/intent of the Executive Order, not surprising, I'm not a lawyer. But still it doesn't make the Order suck any less really.

White House Kisses Goodbye to 5th Amendment

Todd says:

The latest Executive Order from the War Criminal Administration facilitates and sanctions the taking away of property of anyone who is deemed to be "undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people". Left in those terms, it isn't too much of a stretch to envision this Administration deciding that any particularly vocal critic of the Iraq occupation is "undermining efforts" and thus a target for seizure of property or assets, Fifth Amendment be damned.

Big news indeed, and yet it has received scant little attention in the media. Shameful in every regard, but it troubles me even more that this latest criminal act has crossed a new threshold in reckless disregard for the US Constitution, and yet hardly a soul even knows about it.

As Wonkette sums it up: "If the White House decides that you are in any way 'undermining efforts' in Iraq, or related to Iraq or pretty much anything else, the Treasury Department is authorized to seize your money, property, stocks, etc. The pride is back!"

Link to the White House's Executive Order

Reader comment:

Robert says:

Sorry to criticize, but you screwed up on the White House Executive Order story.

The Order clearly only applies to people who have "committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of: ... (B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people"

In other words, it doesn't apply to anyone who is "undermining efforts." It requires violence + undermining efforts. You left off the first part. I'm not saying that this makes the order any better, but at least it limits it.

Further, the President cannot take away property of US citizens by fiat. That's prohibited by the Fifth Amendment. This is directed to foreign nationals who are holding their assets in the US.

Greg says:

Robert is incorrect about the scope of the executive order and who it applies to.
1) it has a broad theoretical reach, i.e., anyone who the executive branch says "pose[s] a significant risk of committing" acts of violence that "undermine efforts" in Iraq. It's like the Dept. of Pre-Crime.

2) the EO applies to "U.S. persons," a group which includes U.S. citizens, not just foreign nationals parking their money in the U.S.

Talking Points Memo has some analysis from the ACLU and other experienced voices on the topic.

The comments point to a preliminary ACLU analysis.

Representatives from the ACLU are still studying the executive order. But preliminarily, says spokeswoman Liz Rose, the order appears to expand the assets-seizure provisions of the Patriot Act, known as Section 806, to organizations linked to Iraqi insurgent groups. Much like the order, Section 806 allows the government to seize assets of banned organizations without prior notice and without a conviction of involvement in banned activity. "It is by far the most significant change (in the law) of which political organizations need to be aware," the ACLU wrote in 2002, contending that the vagueness of Section 806 potentially implicates legitimate political protest as well as material support for terrorism.

TPM Muckracker also has a response from the U.S. Treasury Department.

casual_friday { In the future there was...

'Spaceman' by Babylon Zoo (I discovered this zooming around the Tube the other day, I like it!)


music { Rochester Pipes & Drums

I had forgotten, but was pleasantly reminded on my way back from lunch that the bag pipe and drums group 'Rochester Pipes and Drums' was playing the free outdoor concert at the downtown Episcopal Church. I heard them last year and was mesmerized. I really enjoy bag pipe music and this group plays a variety of pipes from small to highland. This year they had a singer with them and sang some old folk tunes.

This is one of the perks of working in downtown Rochester, the free music concerts in the summer. The Church does one every Thursday and Mayo Clinic has one in their beautiful courtyard every Monday. Sure its hit or miss, but its free.


music { what is holding my attention right now...

Most of the stuff on the radio is rubbish as far as I can tell. I swear it is getting worse in the Twin Cities. So when I hear the occasional track that grips me in a way that says 'turn it up' and not 'turn it off', I like to make note of it. The last time I felt that way (Classical music notwithstanding) was when I heard Dan Wilson's 'All Kinds'. Today it was this haunting track (mp3) by Neko Case.


casual_friday_the_13th { Twilight Zone

Various Twilight Zone related items:

'Twilight Zone Into' - the classic TV intro

'Tone Twilight Zone' - Corneilius (one of my favorite Japanese alternative artists)

and finally an episode clip of the Twilight Zone called 'The Obsolete Man'

And finally, because I like and miss 'Newsradio':


politics { 'Obviousman'


(watch it, it sums up why free press and questioning authority is healthy in a Democracy)


amazing { something that can be done in LotR Online

You can make and play your own instruments, this blew me away:

founding { Medieval Metaphysicals

In the picture left you see my character Pernox and Krieghund when I ding'd 60 in World of Warcraft. Happy times. We were both in the guild 'Ashes of Empires', the first guild I was a member of in that game (previously I had been a member of 'Central Spike' in Planetside and 'The Flying Whirlpools of Suck' in Aces High). But Ashes is a large guild, very large, and while most people are fun to be with and good to play with, there were always a few who acted immature and soured the experience for all, and its bad when one of those people was an officer. But that is the past, anyways, last night I was finally able to collect the last 3 signatures to start a new guild, 'Medieval Metaphysicals'. Krieghund and I are co-Guild Masters and so far we have a membership of 9 (I booted the hired hands who were paid to sign the charter, as we want to be a little selective in membership). As soon as I have a good screen shot, I will post what our tabard looks like.

In other WoW news, I've respec'd my talents from 11/0/50 to 41/20/0 in hopes of doing more damage, but I'm not happy with it. I like the subtelty tree too much. While the combat tree has boosted my overall damage per second, it feels awkward and wrong. I miss certain things, so I'm probably going to respec again to 41/0/20, which would bring back the things I like most in the subtlety tree and it should compliment the deep investment in the assassination tree. I will still miss two old cornerstones of the sub tree, shadowstep and hemorrhage, but I can always go back.


politics { 4th Branch of Government?

Last Friday, Nerdwife and I went to a fascinating open panel, multidisciplinary discussion on Catastrophe and Time put on by the U of MN's Institute for Advanced Study, which was part of their larger 'Symposium on Time'. It was fascinating. People from all academic, philosophical, educational, arts, and backgrounds were present.

But that is a topic for another time, what I am asking is one of the members was mentioning Bush implemented a 4th Branch of government last week. I've tried to find some information about this, but all I could find are some vague references about 'The Administrative Branch' which is composed of the bureaucracy led by people appointed by the President. Is this the case? Please let me know. It was also mentioned as part of the latest 'constitutional crisis.'


movie review { Sicko

'Sicko' by Michael Moore.

One sentence review: America, what the fuck is wrong with us?

Seriously, why don't we have Universal Health Care, free college education and overall less of a 'me' and more of a 'we' mentality?

tagged { 8 Things About me...

Evil Bobby has in his evilness tagged me to reveal 8 random things about myself.


1. All right, here are the rules.
2. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
3. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
4. People who are tagged write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
5. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Ok here they are:

  1. I'm a coffee nut.

  2. I have dreams of writing and being a (good) writer, or if failing that a bassist.

  3. I survived cancer.

  4. I've seen way too many things on the internet...too many disturbing things...

  5. I can speak Deutsch, though I am very, very rusty.

  6. I make a wicked awesome baklava.

  7. I've known Nerdwife for almost half my life (14 years).

  8. I have to put my pen caps on a certain way.

Ok now the tagage...EB already took KnightofNothing...so Peekachoo I choose you!...uh...I mean...JGW, Celesathene, Zophorian, Avindair, GeekGoddess, Anonymous Cog (hoping to rekindle that blog spirit), Jeffrey, romunov...I CHOOSE YOU!

oddities { Bottled Water

Saw an interesting article on BoingBoing that redirected me to a Fast Company article about bottled water. Now, I drank bottle water, but usually the fizzy kind, and I don't drink it all the time. Most of the water I drink is from the tap, filtered through a Brita filter, because honestly, Rochester city tap water both tastes and smells funny unless its been filtered (this is another story about Rochester and its bad water, poor air quality, for such a small city). But I was raised on the tap. I used to drink water from fountains at the park. I do think we as a country need to re-think bottled water. I've felt for sometime a lot of the bottled water hype is a scam. As a friend once put it in regards to Dasani; 'You mean they want me to pay $1 [per bottle] for the water they won't put in Coke? Screw that!' Sadly I think what bottled water is all about greed. Which makes it a perfect icon for American opulence. I remember going to Lilith-Faire a few years back. It was August, hot as hell, the kind of day that can sun-stroke you and heat exhaust you, but they were checking everyone's bags at the entrance for cameras, guns, weapons, and containers. That was the first time I recall having my backpack searched for bottles and containers for liquids. They never gave a reason why, but when we got inside I could see why. Bottled water, 20oz bottles, were being sold for $3/bottle. We were thirsty and the group we were with had a child. So what we did (and we were not the only ones) bought two bottles, drank them, and then refilled them in the bathroom sinks. Many people complained and the medical station was full with people with heat exhaustion.

Give the article a read.

politics { Libby's sentence commuted

This morning when I read in the NY Times that Bush had commuted Libby's 30 month sentence I was instantly very angry. I had flash backs of Paris Hilton getting out after 3 days. The exceptions here of course Libby has not served any time. But during the bus ride in my thoughts cooled on the subject. After all, Libby is just a fall-guy, a distraction from the real person who leaked information and who in my opinion deserves more jail time than Libby, for a variety of reasons, Dick Cheney.

No one in this country is responsible for anything anymore and the mechanisms to enforce checks and balances and to punish infractions is corrupt. Why is Congress still sitting on its hands? Don't answer that, its almost an election year.