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»  June 27, 2007


Not Enough Lasers: An Interactive Fable: The first alien spaceship appeared over Blair House in 2001, followed quickly by others that positioned themselves above the White House, the Pentagon, the Capitol (there were a lot of spaceships over the Capitol), the State Department, and most other government institutions. One sneaked up very low -- under the radar, although they couldn't actually be picked up on radar -- to a spot above CIA headquarters.

Once people realized what they were, they started seeing them in places where they'd actually been for a couple of years, just somehow unnoticed, in Atlanta and New York City where giant media "news" conglomerates had their operations. One was seen flying low and slow across the Atlantic to take up residence in the airspace of Downing Street.

A flurry of concern and trepidation passed over the world when humans first realized they were not alone. They didn't know why the aliens had come. They didn't know why they just flitted about the cities they appeared in. The one over the White House would disappear frequently, and eventually its absences from Washington, DC were linked to the appearance of a spaceship in Texas.

A variety of attempts were made to contact the spaceships, with no results. Their obvious unearthly origin was apparent but nothing could be discerned of their secret inner workings. While a few generals suggested attacks on one of the outlying spaceships to see what would happen, cooler heads prevailed and no aggressive action was taken. The fears of most people settled down and a lot of people just grew to accept the spaceships.

Then, just under a year after the spaceship over Blair House showed up, things started happening. A few spaceships would take off to nobody knew where and in a short time word of incredible damage to a city or country would make its way back. There appeared to be no rhyme or reason to the attacks. Nobody actually saw the spaceships attack, they were so fast when they moved, but people figured out soon enough that when certain of the spaceships got together that there would be trouble to follow.

After years of the attacks, the generals who had suggested a test strike on the spaceships were given the go-ahead from people concerned that the next target would be in the US. They debated the best course of action. The spaceships -- except for the one that visited Texas so often -- spent all of their time over populated areas. That made the use of the most powerful weapon -- a nuclear-tipped guided missile -- problematic. Even if the population of a city could be evacuated without alerting the spaceships over that city, by the time all of the spaceships were eradicated with nukes, most of the major cities of the nation would be radioactive ruins, and the majority of the country's population would be homeless.

An attempt to shoot down one of the spaceships with a squadron of planes equipped with air-to-air missiles resulted in the destruction of the squadron even before the missiles were launched. At that point, one of the missiles was tried, and while the city of Minneapolis was destroyed, the spaceship just zipped around in the air -- somewhat querulously -- then almost seemed to shrug its shoulders before heading off to the east.

One of the generals overseeing the operation had participated in the development of a secret weapon, and he'd been ready with a Plan C. He had truly hoped not to have to suggest a test of his project, because the last time he had, it had blown up in his face. Well, not literally. Literally, it had blown up in the faces, torsos, and legs of about fifty engineers and scientists working on the project, but it had been nearly ten years since that fiasco.

They tested the weapon, a giant laser, on a spaceship above San Francisco. The beam blinked on, the spaceship turned into a cloud of fine dust, and the dust fell to the ground.

The general and his crew were celebrating their success and their continued existence when news reached them that the spaceships had gone on a rampage to destroy missile silos and missile submarines around the world. They cut their celebration short, and dispersed to a variety of locations, except for the general and a driver who stayed with the mobile laser. They waited for many hours and nothing happened. This attack at least had taken the aliens by surprise.

In the corridors of power, however, things were happening. For the first time, the aliens had contacted the humans below them. They were hideous creatures with big, clacky mandibles and grasping claws that which their demand only too believable. They had been content, they said, with the status quo, but now that their ire had been aroused they were demanding nothing less than the flesh of the children of the human race. Round them up, the order went, and put them in open fields in exactly one month's time. We will take care of the rest. Sluuuurp!

You have a month. You have one laser and there's no possible way to build enough of the beasts to knock out all of the spaceships. What do you do?

  • Capitulate. There's not enough lasers. Say goodbye to the kids.
  • Compromise. Make a sumptuous counteroffer of half the children and offer to host a BBQ.
  • Fight. Build lasers like crazy and hope that you can manage to take out enough of the bastards to make them think that maybe they've tried to bite off more than they could chew.

Dedicated to the memory of Damon Knight, who was always a gracious host to an aspiring writer.


»  June 25, 2007


Perlstein vs. Gravel: Pulitzer-winning author Rick Perlstein, in a round-up of his posts from the Take Back America conference:

In this one I call out presidential candidate Mike Gravel for his open disdain for the Constitution.
Speaking truth to power!

Yeah, I'm not so sure I'd be all that proud about having this exchange.



The White Zone Is For Loading XML: A question on DIRECT-L about sending a command from ActionScript to Lingo using a URL beginning with the string "lingo:" made me think that perhaps a post about the interrelationship between Flash and Director might be useful, since I hadn't done anything on the subject for a while.

The question involved trying to trigger a Lingo handler with the XML.sendAndLoad in order to load data into a Flash sprite from the host Director movie. The intention was to get XML content and specify a destination for the data within the Flash movie in one operation, I assume.

The thing that's important to understand here is that the ActionScript getURL function that supports the "lingo:" and "event:" functionality doesn't actually tell Flash to do anything, it's a command that passes data to the Flash movie container, whether that's Director or a Web browser.

When you execute a getURL with a string beginning "http://" in a movie embedded in a Web page, the message goes to the browser and the browser loads a page. Flash does nothing with the command.

Likewise, when you use getURL in a Flash sprite in Director, it's passed directly to the Flash Asset Xtra, which is then in charge of doing something with the string data. The movie itself is finished with the command.

The loading commands (for MovieClips, XML, etc.) on the other hand are completely internal to Flash. They actually return data to Flash and therefore do not send a message to the container application.

It's not incredibly difficult to get XML-formatted data from Director into Flash -- the last several applications I've worked on read faux-Unicode (you don't want to know how screwy that is) Japanese XML files from the hard drive for manipulation in Director and display in Flash -- but the only conduit for passing messages through from ActionScript to Lingo is that getURL command.



Sometimes You Have to Assume All the Eggs Are There: Digby introduced the FDL Book Salon with Glenn Greenwald this afternoon, and naturally the topic of impeachment came up.

As usual in these things, comments were made along the lines that impeachment wasn't an option because there was no way to get Republicans senators on board: "To think that a significant number of gooper senators would vote to kick out a gooper president is beyone fantasy. Ain’t a gonna happen."

The Democratically-controlled House Judiciary committee started formal consideration of impeachment in February 1974, by discussing what types of offenses impeachment covered and what grounds might exist to impeach President Nixon. In May, the committee began to hold impeachment hearings. This is an excerpt out of TIME from mid-July 1974 after two months of Judiciary committee hearings, and about three weeks before Nixon resigned:

Impeachment Vote. The impeachment question may preoccupy the House for most of the summer, but the Democratic leadership believes that, barring some dramatic turn in favor of the President, the outcome is virtually decided. After an informal member-by-member analysis, the Democrats concluded that the House is now disposed to vote for impeachment by a margin of at least 55 votes. The lineup, according to the Democratic count: 245 (including 210 Democrats and 35 Republicans) for impeachment; 190 (38 Democrats and 152 Republicans) against. "That's our minimum figure," declares a ranking Democrat, insisting that the leaders counted only the sure votes for impeachment.

The survey indicates that the House will probably vote to impeach Nixon by more than a narrow margin. On the other hand, it suggests that the vote may not be spectacular enough to move the Senate to convict the President by the necessary two-thirds majority and thereby remove him from office. In any event, the mood in both chambers of Congress will be greatly influenced by the historic decision now facing the Supreme Court.


»  June 23, 2007


The Last Truth of the GOP: As long as we're dredging up 2000 election history, I just ran across a couple of transcripts that made my point in another conversation.

NewsHour, 7 August 2000

FORMER SEN. DAN COATS [R-IN]: First of all, Joe Lieberman's a terrific fellow, and I'm a good friend. It's hard to say anything negative about him, but I do think it raises the question about Al Gore, why he chose Joe Lieberman, because their positions on some of the key issues in this campaign, Social Security reform, education, national defense -- Joe Lieberman's much closer to George Bush than he is to Al Gore and how he's going to finesse that or answer that I'm not exactly sure. And how Al Gore's going to explain that, whether it's another attempt to reinvent Al Gore or another attempt to cover both sides of the issue, I think is going to be a question, because there are very fundamental issues where Al Gore has attacked Governor Bush for taking that position, and yet it's exactly the same position or very close to what Joe Lieberman has done and said on the Senate floor.

Larry King, 7 August 2000

KING: Governor Dukakis, Ari Fleischer, spokesman for the Bush campaign, said: "Al Gore has chosen a man whose positions are more similar to Governor Bush's than his own. The fact that Al Gore is willing to select a running mate whose positions he attacked throughout the campaign will cause many to question Al Gore's commitment to the position he takes." What's your response?

Now, the Republicans were going to attack Gore's VP choice no matter who it was, but the fact that they were attacking him for being too much like their own candidate? It may have been the last thing they told the truth about.



No 9/11: Robert Farley at LGF makes "Hopefully My Last Nader Post Ever" (which would be something considering that "nader" appears 4,280 times on the site in a Google search while "bush" shows up only 2,920 times) and dismisses the possibility that a Gore administration would have gone to war in Iraq.

No 9/11, no Iraq War.
The breakup of the 9/11 plot would have had to be 100% in order to prevent "9/11". They would have had to know about, find, and capture or kill all four groups of hijackers in order to stop something from being referred to as "9/11". If they'd been 75% successful and one of the towers had fallen, or if just the Pentagon had been hit, or whatever the target of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania had been hit, there would still be a 9/11.

Even if they'd been prevented from doing any major damage, the very knowledge of the plot would have been a rallying cry to do something about Muslim extremists. Remember the "Millennium" bomb plot that was foiled by border agents in Washington state? You've heard of it? Well, imagine if the country had found out that Osama bin Laden had four teams of guys in the US who were foiled in an attempt to hijack planes and crash them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House? Would people have just said "Hunh" and gone about their lives? Or would we have gone into Afghanistan as we did?

And just for fun, imagine that the Vice President was a guy who had a hard on for Iraq since before he was in Blair House. The guy who picked him is a member of his centrist political club. A bunch of the people in their club think that Iraq's a problem for a lot of reasons. Then the Republicans -- a rowdy lot -- start saying that there's some sort of connection between the guy who almost blew up America and Saddam Hussein (who everyone knows is a bad guy). Ex-military and geopolitical strategists that the administration and its supporters listen to all say they think a war with Iraq might be a good idea. Newspaper columnists and radio and cable talkers start questioning the manhood and resolve of an administration that won't take on the obvious threat from Saddam. The people in the President and Vice President's club know Iraq's not a real threat to the US -- particularly since Iraq's been under sanctions for a dozen years and they don't have any real technology -- but they do have oil. And while we're in the region....

In Bizarro universe, where a total moron and his robot Frankenstein took control, the Vice President remained a Senator and he and almost all of his friends from the club supported a war with Iraq. In that universe, the would-be President broke with his former club members and came out against the war after conceding a close election that he won "for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of our democracy" and watching what then happened for a couple of years. Of course, he didn't have to run for office then.


»  June 21, 2007

What the...?  

Simply A Little Bit Different: Reed College sent out an electronic newsletter linking to Die Zeit's article on quality US schools ("Die Wundertüte"), which mentioned Reed right up front.

The translation in the newsletter provided by a German professor said the school was right for students "who are highly intelligent or simply a little bit different" ("für die hochintelligenten oder einfach ein bisschen anderen Studenten"). I guess I know by now which category I fall into.


»  June 18, 2007


The Region: Inspired by "Today On Holden's Obsession With the Gaggle":

Q But before the war, the President said that taking out Saddam Hussein would help stabilize the Middle East. Do you think that's turned out to be true?

MR. SNOW: Hard to say. I mean, what you saw, for instance, was very swift change of behavior on the part of Libya. Certainly we continue to work closely with our other allies in the region.

Someone needs to get the White House some maps. Libya may be a neighbor of Egypt, it may be a country with an Arab population, but one thing it's not is the "Middle East". It's in North Africa.

In fact, a few minutes with a copy of Google Earth or a quick trip to timeanddate.com's distance calculator would show that Tripoli -- the capital of Libya -- is more than 1800 miles from Baghdad. Here are some other calculations:

Baghdad, IRAQ to miles
Athens, GREECE 1205
Kiev, UKRAINE 1383
Moscow, RUSSIA 1588
Warsaw, POLAND 1755
Tripoli, LIBYA 1801
Rome, ITALY 1830
New Delhi, INDIA 1968
Berlin GERMANY 2035
Helsinki, FINLAND 2060
Copenhagen, DENMARK 2174

Taking Out Saddam: Bringing Change to Libya, Finland, and India aka "The Middle East".


»  June 15, 2007


A Rock:

I, for one, am amazed at the total lack of humor shown by people who normally pride themselves on being funny. I can understand that "serious" political commenters with no pretense to a sense of the absurd might be befuddled by Mike Gravel staring into a camera for a minute, then walking away to grab a big rock and drop it in the water, or a couple of minutes of a fire burning with the campaign web address superimposed over it, but there seems to be an awful lot of people so invested in seeing Gravel as some sort of nutcase that their comedic radar is turned off when someone else is coming in over the horizon.

I don't agree with Gravel on any number of issues (direct national balloting and national sales tax, for example) but I can still recognize that that the guy doesn't seem to be too puffed up with self-importance to poke some fun at himself.


»  June 14, 2007


Let Us Proceed: When impeachment proceedings were started against Richard Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee in February 1974, there weren't enough votes in the Senate to convict him. It took several months of Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski fighting with the White House and a Supreme Court decision to get the White House to turn over tapes that implicated Nixon in the Watergate cover-up.

What many members of the House would really like, of course, is for Nixon to resign, taking the House off the hook. That, too, is true on both sides of the aisle, though no House Republican has thus far dared publicly voice the feeling. (On the Senate side, the only Republican to call for resignation so far has been Massachusetts' Edward Brooke.) Democrat [Representative] Frank Thompson Jr. of New Jersey puts it bluntly: "Most guys hope and pray for a resignation. I can think of 25 Republicans I know who will have to vote for impeachment to save their skins."
There was concern then about referring the case to the Senate too early, but the decision was made to begin an investigation of grounds for impeachment:
Fully aware that the resolution would carry by a large margin, Republican House leaders made no effort to challenge it. They discouraged amendments because they knew that such attempts, too, would fail and the votes might be interpreted as a test of actual impeachment sentiment-to Nixon's disadvantage. Thus G.O.P. attempts to set an April 30 cutoff date for the inquiry were opposed by such Republicans as Minority Leader John Rhodes. Also arguing against an arbitrary cutoff, Judiciary Committee Democrat William Hungate of Missouri said wryly: "We must not find ourselves in the position of the sky diver whose chute failed to open and he found he had jumped to a conclusion."

Summing up the predominant mood of the House, Rodino solemnly and eloquently declared: "Whatever the result, whatever we learn or conclude, let us now proceed, with such care and decency and thoroughness and honor that the vast majority of the American people, and their children after them, will say: That was the right course. There was no other way."

The ball doesn't start rolling by itself.


»  June 12, 2007


Swampland Lite: Late last month, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post wrote a column ("See You in September") about the emergency appropriations bill in which he said progressives just need to simmer down and wait, that they should take a chill pill, and remember how long it took the Goldwater conservatives to take power in the Republican party. He provided this quote neat the end of the column:

Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said recently that no one remembers how long it took to reverse the direction of American policy in Vietnam. Obey is hunkered down for a lengthy struggle.
I wrote Mr. Dionne, and mentioned that -- considering the Vietnam War began under a Democratic president during a period when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and was prosecuted by a Republican president for five more years, again with a Democratic Congress -- that perhaps the problem with reversing the direction of American policy at the time was that most of the Democratic leadership had been invested in the war from the beginning and wasn't exactly opposed to the war.

I was mildly surprised a week-and-a-half after I sent my message to get a response, until I saw that it was a form letter:

Dear Darrel

Many thanks for your recent comments on my column. I'm grateful when people are kind enough to take time out to offer generous thoughts, though I also appreciate the passion and concern of those who disagree.

Opinion pages are supposed to spur debate, and my readers keep me on my toes. That's why I read my e-mail and have on occasion written columns replying to readers. I hope you will understand that it is often difficult to reply in detail to every note and letter I get. But please know that I am paying attention. If you would like, please visit my new discussion board on the Washington Post website: E.J.'s Precinct.

Best wishes,
E.J. Dionne

How special. A discussion board with minimal interaction from Dionne (11 posts between 5/22 and 6/11).

And then there's this. A piece titled "Replying to Blogger Friends", with the tag line: "Posted by EJ_Dionne at 6/3/2007 9:44 AM" that has a paragraph near the end that starts out referring to himself in third person, apparently:

Please feel free to join earlier debates on which E.J. has expressed his view.
Is he even writing the few posts his name is on? Or reading the comments of others? Is it "Swampland Lite"?


»  June 11, 2007


A Bridge Twofer: From an MSNBC.com report on the second bridge bombing in Iraq in two days:

Targeting all transit systems

Paul Kane, a fellow with the International Security Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, said the attacks on bridges are an extension of earlier insurgent attacks on "electric generation sites, infrastructure for water and also the obvious target of oil pipelines."

Kane noted that Iraq does not have railroad service so insurgents "may be at the end of the transit list. If anything, it means they’re trying to be creative and they’re running out of targets."

Riiight. They might not know what else to bomb! Finally, they're getting around to the bridges. Once they're done with those final targets, they'll be stumped and give up.

Now, I've never attended or taught at or been a fellow of anything with an "International Security Program", but I always heard that the best way to impede the movement of your enemy's ground forces was to control or destroy the bridges, what with rivers being natural impediments to the movement of infantry and most vehicles.

It's one way to prevent forces and supplies from being brought to the front. Alternatively, if bridges behind an enemy can be taken out, you can cut off retreat.

But I'm sure in this case it's just a lack of targets for the insurgents.


What the...?  

Six Years Ago Today:

Margaret Baker, 1918-2001

A word from my cousin Roxana about our grandmother:

I have spent many years in a volunteer capacity working against domestic violence, so I was shocked when my grandmother was shot and killed June 11 in the White Salmon area. My grandmother was bedridden, blind, and has suffered many strokes over the years. I did not expect her to die in this manner.

She died because her caregiver, Toni Stencil, was the target of an angry man.

There is not room to write all the details Toni has given me, and Toni has her own story to tell. I am not a legal expert, or an expert in domestic violence. I am simply a granddaughter asking questions and looking for answers on why my grandmother had to die so violently.

Through my questions, I have found out that the state of Washington has a Mandatory Arrest Law, as does Wisconsin, where I now live. This law does vary from state to state, and I'm not clear on the stipulations in your law. What I have been told by Toni is that she called 9-1-1 on the Thursday evening prior to the (Monday) shooting because this man had bound her and held her against her will for over three hours. She talked her way out of this dangerous situation and did call 9-1-1.

I wonder why he was not arrested on that evening. Certainly this will be determined, and police in White Salmon have declined to answer my questions concerning this issue at present.

Why should you care about this law? Remember that my grandmother was an innocent victim of a dispute between two people that she had absolutely nothing to do with. This was a dangerous man. Are the laws you have in place working for you? If not, why?

These are the questions running through my head that keep me up at night. There is another state law that interests me as well that I'm checking into concerning self-help information that is to be given to victims of domestic 9-1-1 calls. Three days passed between Toni's initial call for help and the shooting; she needed professional help. I have found out that you have the Programs For Peaceful Living. This program could have offered Toni some very needed support in a number of ways.

I pose these questions and tell this story because it is my way of helping and healing. On my own, I cannot look into your laws and check into the rapport between your police force and your programs in place to help people. You need to be concerned because you care about the health of your community. I believe domestic violence issues are so important, because the health of a whole community starts in the home.

Please support your local law enforcement and program such as Programs For Peaceful Living in working together against domestic violence.


»  June 8, 2007



Question for Edwards II: There's an updated version of my question for John Edwards about the advisors who counseled him to vote for the Iraq war resolution in the queue at blog.johnedwards.com.

It's kind of sad. Of the three major candidates for the Democratic nomination, I think that I'm probably more disposed toward Edwards for his populist economic message. But there's no way anyone is going to be able to address deep structural issues in the US economy if they let themselves get drawn into a quagmire like Iraq when advisors tell them they need to do something to "look strong", despite evidence that there's no threat, and despite the fact that most of the members of their party in Congress aren't convinced there's a threat. Edwards made that mistake once, and he's admitted it was a mistake, but if he's still listening to the same advisors there's no reason he won't make a similar monumental mistake. The people who keep pointing out that he's changed his mind on Iraq don't seem to get that. Of course he's changed his mind on Iraq. He'd have to be a moron not to have changed his mind on Iraq. What I want to know is: What is he doing to make sure he doesn't get screwed over by the same advisors again?


»  June 7, 2007


Bad Math From David Sirota?: I just watched David Sirota's "Democrats' Innocent Bystander Fable" video, and while I agree with its point, the screen near the end saying "Two weeks ago, roughly 80% of Democrats in Congress voted to help continue the Iraq War" is absolutely incorrect. While that figure's true for the Senate, the overall percentage of Democrats in the Senate and House who voted for the supplemental funding bill is 44%. There are 232 Democrats in the House and 49 in the Senate. 86 Democratic Representatives and 39 Democratic Senators voted for the supplemental. That's 125 "yea" votes out of 281 Democrats, and it's nowhere near 80%. (It's 44%.) While that's still appallingly high, the figure of 80% in the video is wrong. Even if you gave equal weight to the House and Senate and averaged their percentages, with the vote in the House at 37% and the vote in the Senate at 80%. the figure would only be 59%.

UPDATE: In an email, David Sirota says that his figure refers to a procedural motion in the House that "made passing the blank check possible" which passed by 90%. I replied that given references on previous screens to a "bill" (i.e. the supplemental spending bill) that point was unclear, although I certainly agreed that the Democrats should have cut off funding. He said he should probably have put in roll call numbers. I agree that would have made the calculation of the 80% more transparent.



Call From the DCCC : I just got off a phone call from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asking for money. My current policy -- even before I was laid off last week -- is only to give money to targeted candidates. I don't have to agree with everything the candidate says or does, but they have to at least be willing to deal with the war in a rational and consistent manner and not knuckle under to either the administration or the Democratic leadership.

When I explained my stance and rationale to the woman on the phone, she brought up the Iraq war supplemental and told me that "we" couldn't leave our troops over there without supplies, which was why some sort of funding bill had to be passed. I responded that she shouldn't be using Republican talking points and from there the conversation got a little bit heated, with her telling me that the troops in Iraq would "starve" without the money from the supplemental. Really. That's what she told me. The troops would "starve".

I said that any any President who would leave the troops to starve rather than bring them home sounded like someone who ought to be impeached, and she said that there weren't enough votes to impeach him. I thought that there probably would be if there were actually 150,000 troops starving in Iraq, but said instead that the House -- with a 30-vote Democratic margin -- could conceivably pass impeachment articles at any time. She responded that the Senate would bottle up the conviction. Again, I thought of the 150,000 starving troops and the various Republicans (or Democrats or Independent Democrats) who would have to get on board to let that happen, but right about then the conversation ended.

I do feel sorry for the woman. I don't know where she was from, but it sounded like the Midwest. And I can't help but think that even for a Democratic fundraiser it might not be a particularly great time to be hitting donors up for money, but I might have been suspicious that Democratic fundraisers have picked up the RNC callers laid off last week if I hadn't already heard the same damn arguments from long-time Democrats.


»  June 6, 2007


No Need To Ask:

At Sunday's Democratic presidential debate, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates if they would be willing to kill innocent civilians in order to kill Osama bin Laden.

Blitzer posed the question directly to Rep. Dennis Kucinich first. Kucinich said that he did not approve of using assassination as a tool, which I think can be taken as a "no". Sen. Barack Obama said that he didn't "believe in assassinations" but a "military target" like bin Laden should be taken out.

Blitzer called for a show of hands. It's difficult to tell from the video in Part 3, but it looks as if everyone on the stage but Kucinich raised their hand. Biden made a comment about the number of civilians, Sen. Hillary Clinton pointed out that the abstract nature of the question made it difficult to answer (and then mentioned President Clinton's attempts to kill bin Laden). Former Sen. John Edwards said there wasn't enough information.

But really, there was no need to ask the question of people like Edwards, Clinton, and Biden, who were serving in the Senate when the Iraq authorization to use military force was passed in October 2002. They all voted for it. There was no way that an attack on Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein would kill even just a handful of civilians. Thousands of Iraqi civilians were going to die in any invasion, no matter how smart our bombs were. The votes of those three Senators -- based on their own gullibility, their pathetically incorrect assessment of the threat Iraq posed, their acquiescence for reasons of geopolitical strategy, or their political gamesmanship to look strong -- doomed not just thousands of American soldiers but tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to death. Of course they'd be willing to kill innocent civilians to get Osama bin Laden; they were more than willing to authorize the deaths of civilians to kill Saddam Hussein, who had never attacked the US.


»  June 4, 2007

What the...?  

Thank God I Don't Get A Lot of Traffic:

100,001 Hits

Although I launched this site in February 2004, I didn't put the Site Meter up until mid-August of 2005. It's been slowly climbing its way up to the 100,000 mark -- with volume going from 4,000 page views last June to 14,000 last month -- and when I checked it this morning, there it was at 100,001.

A thread of commentary elsewhere led to one participant saying:

Hey Darrel,

Ever wonder no one reads your stupid blog?

And the short answer is: no, I really don't.



Extraordinary Correlation: It's one of those odd series of coincidences you pick up from too much extended contact with facts.

Russell Defreitas, the Guyanan-born US citizen accused of recruiting three others and suggesting a strike on JFK airport in New York City, was identified by two Portland television stations as a former employee of McMinnville's Evergreen International Aviation.

These days, Evergreen operates a number of ventures, including the Evergreen Aviation Museum, where you can go to see Howard Hughes's Spruce Goose, and the EAGLE ground handling service that Defeitas worked for, but until the late 1980s, Evergreen was more known for not being known. It operated as a front for the CIA. It extricated the former Shah of Iran from Panama just ahead of an Iranian extradition request in 1980. CBS said it was running guns to contras in Central America in the mid-1980s. The Oregonian ran a series of articles in 1988 tracing business connections between Evergreen and the CIA, including the purchase of the site of a maintenance center in Arizona.

When stories about private CIA planes flying terrorism suspects to "black site" prisons or for extraordinary rendition appeared, Evergreen was a natural suspect. Particularly when an executive jet identified by reporters as involved in the flights was bought by a company that used an Oregon lawyer's office as its only address. The lawyer, who says he simply filed paperwork for the company though he never met the owners, had a complaint filed against him with the Oregon State Bar which was dismissed.

To recap: Evergreen Aviation used to/still does work for the CIA. Evergreen runs services in airports around the country. A guy who used to work for Evergreen is now said to have incited a few other guys to consider an attack on JFK.

I don't know, it all sounds vaguely fishy, somehow. I sure hope this doesn't turn into one of those "trying to reel in the big fish we caught our own bait" stories.


»  June 1, 2007


Happy Birthday, Hopper-ex: I was laid off from what I called "the last Director job in the Portland area" last week. Not that there aren't people working in Director in Portland (there's still a Director programmer at my old office), but I don't expect to see any advertisements for Director programmers in the metro area in the near future.

Coincidentally, today -- my last day on the Director job -- is the tenth anniversary of the inception of Director's worst-kept secret: hopper-ex.

In the spring of 1997, the Director 6 beta (codename: Hopper) had finished and boxes were shipping out. The listserv for the beta testers (hopper-l) was about to be shut down. Several people on the beta test group wondered if Macromedia might keep the listg running, as it had provided a unique chance to interact with the Director team, from management to the engineers, away from the incredible noise (as hard to imagine as it might be nowdays) of DIRECT-L. The powers that be declined, but I had a Mac web and mail server in my office and some rudimentary listserv software, and in a few minutes I had created hopper-ex and invited everyone on the list to join, if they wanted.

I was able to move fast because I'd already been contemplating creating a list for Director book authors. At the time, I'd been working on The Lingo Programmers Reference, and I had a lot of questions about commands I hadn't used that I didn't really want to ask in a public forum, for fear of looking like a complete doofus. At least not until the book came out. So I was ready.

At first, I thought the list should only be for authors, Macromedians, and ex-beta testers, but within a few days I made two promises to myself: I wouldn't give out the names of the people on the list and I wouldn't restrict the list in any way. I told people to feel free to invite anyone they wanted to to join but asked that they only invite people they felt would add something worthwhile to the mix. Each successive beta has brought new people, and others have joined in periodically, but the number of subscribers has been stable at about 200 for a long time.

I've asked people to pull links to the signup page and references to the list in books without any fuss. While there have been clashes of personalities and a few people who've signed off in disgust, the self-policing "don't shit where you eat" philosophy has worked remarkably well for a decade.

I'm not going to invite everyone who reads this to join hopper-ex. The secret that was never really a secret has been referenced on the Web for nearly as long as the list has been in existence. But I'm taking this opportunity to let people know that the list is out there. It's not a great list, it's not a huge list, but it's a part of my Director history that I'm proud of. And if you know someone who's been a Director developer for a while and you're interested in dipping your toes into the hopper, ask them if they're on hopper-ex and if they'll give you the login address.

As for myself, I'll probably keep an ear to the ground while I'm freelancing again, but I suspect I've done my last Director contract. Unless you count a project I'm looking at that's converting an ancient Director application to Flash CS3. Fortunately, I've got a Mac capable of running every version of Director since 4 and they're all installed!