Some photos from my high school, when I was there for my 20th (gah!) reunion, as well as a milestone anniversary for the school itself. Needless to say, it never even occured to me to take pictures of my classmates or any of the other reunion attendees…
* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *
The CD jukebox in the Snack Bar, which no longer has a TV. I have fond memories of the Saturday afternoon kung fu movies on Channel 5…
* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *
The door to the Schoolhouse (admin, classrooms, library, Study Hall).
* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *
One of the girls’ dorms, which has had a bit of an architectural makeover since my day.
* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *
The steps outside the post office. I’m not entirely sure what they lead to…
After a string of Republican defections this week — on Iraq, immigration and domestic eavesdropping — President Bush enters the final 18 months of his presidency in danger of losing control over a party that once marched in lockstep with him.First, two prominent Republican senators broke with the president on Iraq. Then, Mr. Bush’s party abandoned him in droves on the immigration bill, sending the measure to its death in the Senate, despite the president’s fervent lobbying for it.
And when Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to issue subpoenas to the White House for documents related to its domestic eavesdropping program, three Republicans, including a longtime loyalist, Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, joined them, and another three did not take a position.
For a president who once boasted that he had political capital and intended to use it, the back-to-back desertions demonstrated starkly just how little of that capital is left. With the nation turning its attention to who will succeed Mr. Bush — and Republican presidential candidates increasingly distancing themselves from him — even allies say it could become increasingly difficult for the president to assert himself over his party, much less force the Democratic majority in Congress to bend to his will.
That shakiness is reflected in public opinion polls, where Republican support for Mr. Bush has also dipped noticeably, said Andrew Kohut, executive director of the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, a nonpartisan research group.
Mr. Kohut said Republican support for Mr. Bush was dwindling across the party spectrum. Among moderate and liberal Republicans, 52 percent currently approve of Mr. Bush’s job performance, down from 63 percent in April, he said. Among conservatives, his job approval stood at 74 percent this month, down from 86 percent in April.
[A]s lawmakers look ahead to their own re-election campaigns, political analysts predict more rough times ahead for Mr. Bush. After years of demanding that Republicans work in service of his agenda, the president has “very little good will stored up,” said Calvin C. Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Texas, Mr. Bush’s home state.
With 2008 looking like a tough year for Republicans, Mr. Jillson said lawmakers would look back to their districts, rather than to Washington and the White House, for guidance on how to vote. That was abundantly clear on immigration, when even Mr. Bush’s closest Republican allies — including two Texans, Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison — openly opposed him.
“When John Cornyn defects from the president,” Mr. Jillson said, “you know the president’s mojo is completely gone.”
Of course, this is why BushCo. wanted to make sure that the executive branch stockpiled as much power as possible – so they wouldn’t be completely dependent on Congress after it became apparent what abjectly dishonest criminals they all are. But there are still things even Dubya can’t do without Congress’s cooperation, and I guess we’ll be finding out just exactly where that line is drawn over the next year and a half. I’d feel a lot better if the Roberts Court didn’t have a hand in drawing it, tho.
Some 10,000 years ago, somewhere in the Near East, an audacious wildcat crept into one of the crude villages of early human settlers, the first to domesticate wheat and barley. There she felt safe from her many predators in the region, such as hyenas and larger cats.
The rodents that infested the settlers’ homes and granaries were sufficient prey. Seeing that she was earning her keep, the settlers tolerated her, and their children greeted her kittens with delight.
At least five females of the wildcat subspecies known as Felis silvestris lybica accomplished this delicate transition from forest to village. And from these five matriarchs all the world’s 600 million house cats are descended.
The wildcat DNA closest to that of house cats came from 15 individuals collected in the deserts of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the researchers say. The house cats in the study fell into five lineages, based on analysis of their mitochondrial DNA, a type that is passed down through the female line. Since the oldest archaeological site with a cat burial is about 9,500 years old, the geneticists suggest that the founders of the five lineages lived around this time and were the first cats to be domesticated.
Wheat, rye and barley had been domesticated in the Near East by 10,000 years ago, so it seems likely that the granaries of early Neolithic villages harbored mice and rats, and that the settlers welcomed the cats’ help in controlling them.
Unlike other domestic animals, which were tamed by people, cats probably domesticated themselves, which could account for the haughty independence of their descendants. “The cats were adapting themselves to a new environment, so the push for domestication came from the cat side, not the human side,” Dr. Driscoll said.
I suspect the cats would disagree about who domesticated who.
The recipient was Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, who has been a leading advocate of the proposed legislation for changing the immigration system. His offices in Washington and across Florida have received thousands of angry messages in recent weeks, but nothing as alarming as that letter he received at his home.
“I’ll turn it over to Capitol police, and we’ll go from there,” said Mr. Martinez, who declined to elaborate on the nature of the threat.
Republicans who support the immigration bill are facing unusually intense opposition from conservative groups fighting it. This is among the first times, several of them said, that they have felt the full brunt of an advocacy machine built around conservative talk radio and cable television programs that have long buttressed Republican efforts to defeat Democrats and their policies.
While the majority of the telephone calls and faxes, letters and e-mail messages have been civil, aides to several senators said, the correspondence has taken a menacing tone in several cases.
Senator Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican who is undecided on the final immigration bill, said his office received a telephone call recently that “made a threat about knowing where I lived.” Mr. Burr passed it along to the authorities. “There were enough specifics to raise some alarm bells,” he said.
“There’s racism in this debate,” [Senator Lindsey] Graham said. “Nobody likes to talk about it, but a very small percentage of people involved in this debate really have racial and bigoted remarks. The tone that we create around these debates, whether it be rhetoric in a union hall or rhetoric on talk radio, it can take people who are on the fence and push them over emotionally.”
No-one could have predicted that a political strategy based on demonizing black and brown people would actually reinforce racism. Inconceivable.
Basically, the Southern Strategy is to immigration reform as The War On Terror was to the Dubai Ports World deal. It’s a conflict between the racist, xenophobic loonies that the GOP has cultivated for the past 40 years and the big-money interests who actually pay the bills.
Chairman Leahy issued subpoenas to the Department of Justice, the Office of the White House, the Office of the Vice President and the National Security Council for documents relating to the Committee’s inquiry into the warrantless electronic surveillance program.
Specter, Grassley, and Hatch all sided with the Democrats for a 13-3 vote in favor of subpoenas. Orrin HATCH, people!!!
And since they subpoenaed Cheney’s office, he can’t claim that because his pacemaker makes him part machine, he is therefore not subject to any human laws.
Astronomer Percy Lowe is back in the news with another startling claim. Last year, the fifty-four-year-old astronomer claimed that not only was Pluto still a planet but that it was inhabited by Irish sheepdogs. This year, he has made a claim about the Red Planet, Mars.
“Coupled with recent data from the Mars Orbiter about the planet’s sidereal rotation, I have concluded that the core of Mars is composed entirely of milk chocolate,” Lowe proclaimed.
“Not only that, but it’s molten,” he added, “meaning hot chocolate!”
Fellow astronomer Sir Chesley Bowen immediately called for the crackpot’s resignation from the Royal Academy of Space Watchers, but Lowe is undeterred.
“My theories will be vindicated when we finally land on Mars,” Lowe defiantly predicted, adding, “why else would they need polar caps made of marshmallows?”
Admittedly, I haven’t read around much today, but I think I have to give Tom Friedman the nod today:
Three years ago, I was catching a plane at Boston’s Logan airport and went to buy some magazines for the flight. As I approached the cash register, a woman coming from another direction got there just behind me — I thought. But when I put my money down to pay, the woman said in a very loud voice: “Excuse me! I was here first!” And then she fixed me with a piercing stare that said: “I know who you are.” I said I was very sorry, but I was clearly there first.
If that happened today, I would have had a very different reaction. I would have said: “Miss, I’m so sorry. I am entirely in the wrong. Please, go ahead. And can I buy your magazines for you? May I buy your lunch? Can I shine your shoes?”
Why? Because I’d be thinking there is some chance this woman has a blog or a camera in her cellphone and could, if she so chose, tell the whole world about our encounter — entirely from her perspective — and my utterly rude, boorish, arrogant, thinks-he-can-butt-in-line behavior. Yikes!
Friedman’s basic premise isn’t really all that bad: You never know who might be watching and reporting, so don’t be an ass. Which is all well and good, but he completely undermines it with that cute little opening anecdote suggesting that us bloggers are unhinged bullies who just make shit up.
On the other hand, maybe he’s been reading Malkin, in which case I would have to withdraw my objection.
One of the side effects of my laptop’s untimely death was that I decided to go through and clean up my e-mail, which dates all the way back to 1999. Much to my surprise, I found an e-mail that I had remembered writing three years ago but assumed was gone forever, about how everything Dubya claims as a strength is actually a weakness. I would have loved to see Kerry use something similar in his campaign, but obviously that was never going to happen…
One of the things that I find most incredible & outrageous that Bush continuously gets away with is that just about every single thing that he presents as a strength is precisely the opposite:
1) CEO President/Competent Manager/Strong Decisive Courageous Leader: Bush is almost completely disengaged & incompetent, is at sea whenever he has to address anything other than tax cuts or invading Iraq (and maybe outlawing abortion or anything that could conceivably validate the pro-choice position, like stem cell research – and even that took him weeks of, ahem, intense soul searching and consultation), is unable to take responsibility or hold anyone accountable for his administration’s many failures, and is afraid to ever admit error or level with the American public about the costs or consequences of his policies.
2) Man Of Honor & Integrity: Supported the war in Vietnam but still used his privilege to weasel his way out of it (and dragged his feet about releasing records, some of which still seem to be mysteriously missing); plus a litany of lies, misdirection, and secrecy that would make Nixon blush, including starting an increasingly ugly war under false pretenses (his second justification after the first justification turned out to be false is looking increasingly unlikely as well – I also like how he clearly was not at all concerned about prisoner abuse until there were photos – the *photos* were what elevated them to atrocity status).
3) Strong On Terror/Champion Of Democracy: Ignored al Qaeda to focus on taking out Saddam, even *after* 9/11 (and didn’t break off his monthlong(!) vacation after receiving *The PDB*). No urgency to secure ports, nuclear or chemical plants, or Soviet nuclear warheads or raw matericals. Zero pressure on Saudi Arabia to cut off support for terrorists; lip service only to advancing democracy in the Middle East, Russia, or anywhere else, lots of praise & support for the usual sadistic despots. No plan or urgency on North Korea, which is a far worse dictatorship & threat to us than Iraq ever was (while I don’t think even Kim Jong Il is crazy enough to attack us, when you do the math on an amoral and insane dictatorship that is STRAPPED FOR CASH AND MANUFACTURING NUKES, the possible results are pretty scary).
4) Down To Earth Joe Six-Pack Man Of The People (unlike that rich elitist New England sissy Kerry): Bush has lived a life of privilege like few of us can even imagine, has had everything handed to him his entire life, and never made the slightest attempt to leave that comfort zone (a la Kerry volunteering for Vietnam & hazardous swift boat duty).
5) Uniter Not A Divider: Only the Clintons come close to being more opposite to this, but I don’t think they actually went out of their way to alienate conservatives (I think the only way to not alienate conservatives these days is to shamelessly kowtow to them).
6) Man Of Conviction Who Ignores The Polls: Steel tariffs & farm subsidies.
Digging in his heels & then folding on Homeland Security dep’t, 9/11 Commission, releasing documents & advisors to 9/11 Commission. Rove & Cheney running the show with no apparent thought to anything other than placating/paying off the right-wing base while throwing out enough bones & spin to keep the muddled middle happy.
I think I may have missed a few, and #5 may be a reach, since it’s not so much part of his core identity as something he just said to get himself elected (like “compassionate conservative”). But these are all pretty central to his public identity & his appeal to voters, *and* they’ve all been taking a pretty serious beating. If it gets to the point where it’s obvious to a large chunk of his supporters that he’s really not the man he pretends to be (not even close), then some of them could very well stay home (they may not be able to bring themselves to vote for Kerry, & I can’t say I blame them), and even a candidate as weak as Kerry could conceivably kick his ass. Assuming everyone who wants to vote gets to vote, and that their votes are counted correctly…
Man, do I wish Clark or Edwards had a little more political experience, they would have mopped the floor with Bush.
Some of it’s a bit dated, but overall I think it holds up pretty well. The only bit I might change is the part about shamelessly kowtowing to conservatives being the only way to not alienate them…
From an NYT essay about using DNA as a data repository:
[T]he Japanese group… wrote four copies of Albert Einstein’s famous formula, E=mc2, along with “1905,” the date that the young Einstein derived it, into the bacterium’s genome, the 4.2-million-long string of A’s, G’s, T’s and C’s that determine everything the little bug is and everything it’s ever going to be.
In so doing they have accomplished at least a part of the dream that Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist and musician, and David Sulzer, a biologist at Columbia, enunciated in 1999. To create the ultimate time capsule as part of the millennium festivities at this newspaper, they proposed to encode a year’s worth of the New York Times magazine into the junk DNA of a cockroach. “The archival cockroach will be a robust repository,” Mr. Lanier wrote, “able to survive almost all conceivable scenarios.”
The essay also includes this rather sobering little tidbit:
The human genome, for example, consists of some 2.9 billion of those letters — the equivalent of about 750 megabytes of data — but only about 3 percent of it goes into composing the 22,000 or so genes that make us what we are.
That’s IT??? The entire sum total of what makes us human, the supposed pinnacle of the evolutionary process, is only 2.5 megabytes? Jeez, you could clone me from a couple of old-school floppy disks.
Well, since both virgotexand ellroon have tagged me with this, I guess I better do it – I only have to do it once, right?
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 need to 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
(For symmetry, shouldn’t there be eight rules?)
Okay, random things…
1. I have been taking pictures since I was 8 or 9. I started out with a cheap Kodak Instamatic, then got my sister’s old Pentax Spotmatic when I was 12. I took Photography (B&W prints) my first two years in high school, and “Media” (color slides) my second two, plus one disastrous photo class in my junior year of college.
2. Some things that are in my apartment: Star Trek Ken & Barbie, a lava lamp, a currently uninflated inflatable loveseat in the shape of the rear half of a pink ’59 Cadillac Biarritz, one PC, four laptops, four external hard drives (~1.5TB total capacity), five digital cameras, 16 GB of flash memory in four different formats, pink bellbottoms, and a blinking rooster-head medallion. This should be considered a representative sampling and not an exhaustive inventory.
3. I ran cross-country for two years in high school, but now I can barely jog two blocks without getting winded.
4. I don’t drive, smoke, drink, or do drugs of any kind. More for practical reasons than moral ones.
5. I love chocolate, but I don’t like chocolate ice cream at all, or even ice cream with chocolate in it. Well, okay, not counting cookie dough or cookies ‘n’ cream…
6. I used to know pi out to 300 decimal places.
7. I have appeared on Saturday Night Live.
8. I once hit Messy Marvin/Ralphie from A Christmas Story in the head with a dress shoe.
By 5 to 4, the court ruled that an anti-abortion group in Wisconsin should have been allowed to broadcast ads before the 2004 race for the United States Senate in that state. In its ruling today, the high court opened a significant loophole in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, familiarly known as the McCain-Feingold law, to curb donations to campaigns.Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that, when regulating what can be said in a campaign and when it may be said, “the First Amendment requires us to err on the side of protecting political speech rather than suppressing it.”
Shorter Supreme Court, Part 2: Free speech is dangerous! When in doubt, always clamp down on free speech!
In another 5-to-4 ruling involving free speech, the court ruled today against an Alaska high school student, finding that educators can prohibit student expression that can be interpreted as advocating drug use.
In the Alaska case involving free speech, the court found that a high school principal and school board did not violate a student’s rights by punishing him for displaying the words “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” on a banner across the street from the school as the 2002 Olympic torch parade went by.
When the case was argued on March 19, Kenneth W. Starr argued – successfully, as it turned out – on behalf of the school authorities that, whatever rights students may have to express themselves, thumbing their noses at school officials’ anti-drug messages is not one of them.
Huh. How about that. I guess corporations have much stronger free-speech rights than students or ordinary citizens. Good to know.
Apparently, scaring people about the possible consequences of global warming is the wrong way to get them to do anything about it. Algore needs to be, like, more mellow, man. Like, stop harshing our buzz, dude.
Apparently, people only take bold, decisive action on important, life-threatening issues when they feel totally relaxed and unthreatened. Who knew?
The D.C. administrative law judge who sued his neighborhood dry cleaner for $54 million over a pair of lost pants found out this morning what he’s going to get for all his troubles.
In a verdict that surprised no one, except perhaps the plaintiff himself, a D.C. Superior Court judge denied Roy Pearson the big payday he claimed was his due.
Delivering her decision in writing, Judge Judith Bartnoff wrote 23 pages dissecting and dismissing Pearson’s claim that he was defrauded by the owners of Custom Cleaners and their “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign.
“A reasonable consumer would not interpret ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer’s unreasonable demands or to accede to demands that the merchant has reasonable grounds to dispute,” the ruling said. ” . . . The plaintiff is not entitled to any relief whatsoever.”
It was a pointed rebuke of Pearson’s claim, and came with an order to pay the cleaners’ court costs. But even bigger troubles may loom for Pearson.
Financially, he could soon be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees incurred by the owners of Customer Cleaners. Attorneys for the Chungs have said they will seek such payments, as well as sanctions against Pearson for bringing the lawsuit. Bartnoff said in her ruling that she would decide those issues after both sides have filed their motions, counter-motions and legal briefs.
Professionally, Pearson could find himself out of his $96,000-a-year job as an administrative law judge for the District government.
Look, I’ve had my share of bad customer service experiences, including dry cleaners who lost some of my favorite shirts for several weeks, and I can relate to the desire to make them pay, but $54 million (originally $65 million) is literally insane unless you’ve suffered some sort of severe personal harm or lost a loved one. A (possibly) lost pair of pants from a thousand-dollar suit does not even befin to approach that kind of standard.
If the administrative law court re-ups this out-of-control jackass for a full ten-year term, then they’re as crazy and irresponsible as he is.
Have we liberal interventionists of the Balkans, members of the rapidly emptying school of “liberal hawks,” been too quick to abandon our principles out of fear of alignment with the neo-cons?
Or perhaps, more inexcusably, have we fallen short merely because of a failure of the imagination, an inability to conceive of and work for a better Middle East, as if Arabs and freedom were somehow incompatible?
I think so….
The price of “stability” safeguarded by cynicism is worth recalling at a time when the Middle East’s name is instability. Whatever else the bungled Iraq operation has been, it marked the end of American buttressing of a poisonous Middle Eastern stasis and a murderous Stalinist regime.
The global jihadists were not created by the Iraq invasion. They were thriving on American policy prior to it.
The manifold blunders of America in Iraq have made it unfashionable to recall such truths.
Or maybe, just maybe, we opposed the invasion because we knew there was no good reason for it. Maybe we opposed it because we knew it would be executed in the most incompetent and inhumane way imaginable, and that it would, in fact, strengthen Islamist terrorism.
That Cohen still doesn’t see this after 4+ years suggests that he must be hooked up to a permanent Kool-Aid IV.
Woohoo!!! Today was a most excellent day for softball: After a three-week travel layoff, I went 10-for-10 with 7 runs, 4 RBI, and a no-doubt rocket home run to left (most of the hits were hard line drives up the middle). We were playing 5-on-6 (opposite field is foul; batting team supplies pitcher, catcher and, if necessary, first baseman), and my team won 23-6, so that’s how I ended up with 10 at-bats in a 7-inning game…
In addition to the crazy hitting, I played some really good outfield defense (especially a nice running shoestring catch on a sinking liner in the gap) and all my throws were strong and fairly accurate.
So if Dick Cheney is claiming to be exempt from executive branch oversight because the Office of the Vice President is actually in the legislative branch because he’s the President of the Senate, then why doesn’t Harry Reid sic the Senate Office of Security on him?
Cheney concocted this tortured exemption for himself back in 2003, when the Senate was safely in Republican hands. Now that the Senate is controlled by Democrats, I see no reason why they can’t hoist him by his own petard. He would end up explaining why neither branch has jurisdiction over him, and it’s hard to see that going over very well.
“The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, President Bush’s office is exempt from a presidential order requiring government agencies that handle classified national security information to submit to oversight by an independent federal watchdog,” the Los Angeles Times will report Saturday, RAW STORY has learned. Excerpts:
“The executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 covers all government agencies that are part of the executive branch and, although it doesn’t specifically say so, was not meant to apply to the vice president’s office or the president’s office, a White House spokesman said.”
So… if neither Bush nor Cheney are actually in the executive branch, then who has all this accumulation of unitary executive power been for?