Friday, June 30, 2006


A few days ago the NYT printed a story about the US getting access to international money movement from SWIFT, in company headquartered in Brussells who provides banking communication services to facilitate the movement of money.

I've been out of banking for 20 years. I knew about SWIFT back then. It's not a secret organization and never has been. The nature of it's business is that it must have close working relationships with Government owned or controled central banks all over the world. Anybody with any knowledge of banking knows this. It's not a big deal.

If someone wants to move large amounts of money around the world through the traditional banking system they aren't going to be able to keep it secret from the United States, or the government of any other country that houses major banking institutions.

So it may have been classified, and before the NYT learned of it the fact that we were taking advantage of available information may have been secret.

But, even if terroists worldwide assumed the US is stupid and that they could use SWIFT to move money secretly, it's just not possible for the NYT to reveal a state secret. If they know it, then it's not secret anymore. They might have revealed classified information. But, it wasn't a state secret.

They told the US government they knew the secret and it was no longer a secret. The US response was basically to suggest that if they didn't print it we could all pretend it was still a secret.

They decided that's not really a good idea. I kind of agree with them. It's not a question of whether the public has a right to know. At least some of the public did know, and the US should not stick their head in the sand and pretend the public didn't know.

The point supporters of the Bush administration seem to miss is that it's not in the best interest of the United States to pretend something is secret when you know it's not secret.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ad for business cards

I get my own business cards from them and it's a legit offer. They just charge for postage and it's quality work.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pushing and Pulling

The tendency in America is to look at the world as if everything is reflected in our belly buttons. It's all internal to us, in our mind the rest of the world defines themselves in comparison to us.

Of course that's not really the way the rest of the world looks at things, they, like us, tend to look at themselves as the center of the universe. It's human nature, but for some reason Americans tend to just understand that we aren't the only people who think of ourselves as central. That's why we can't solve the Mexican immigration problems.

Theory of Migration proposes two kinds of factors creating migration -- push and pull. There's characteristics of Mexico that cause people to want to leave, pushes them, and then characteristics of the US that pulls them here. There are push forces in Mexico that make leaving a strong motivation for a poor Mexican trying to support a family. And as all the TV talking heads keep telling us, there are forces in the US that have a strong pull force on those Mexicans, drawing them to us.

There is no strong pull into Guatamalo, pretty much their only other option if they're going to leave.

So there's nothing we can do to keep them out by just trying to reduce pull forces here. They will come because they can't find an alternative. We can make it really hard for them. But they're still going to come.

Years ago Mexicans would come over, make a little money, go home, come back, go back and forth. They'd work here months at a time, but they lived in Mexico, had a family in Mexico. We wanted to stop that. So, we made it harder for them to go back and forth. So now they bring their family, and just stay, because once they get here they know it will be hard to get back here if they visit Mexico.

If we really want to do something about immigration from Mexico we need to do something to fix those push factors in Mexico that will just keeping pushing them right into the bayonets of those soldiers on the border.

Anybody have an thoughts on this?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Airport security

I friend of mine was given somebody elses ticket at the airport ticket counter. She had to hand the ticket and her ID to 3 different professional security officers at the security checkpoint maze. None of them questioned the name mismatch.

These are the people tapping your phones to moniter your contact with nutcase terrorists.

I feel secure.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I bought into the myth

I'm a child of the 50's in America. I bought into that myth, I accepted it, it became the defining characteristic of America to me. And I feel betrayed.

The myth was one of reinvention. It was what film noir was all about. Society would allow you to reinvent yourself. You'd probably fail, but you'd fail because of flaws in yourself, not flaws in society.

Film noir exibited that. The great westerns of the 50's had clashes between man and society as central themes -- Shane, High Noon, The Searchers. And them, along with the previous decades film noir classics such as The Postman Rings Twice, had heros or anti-heros who really didn't quite fit with society. But, they still had a chance. They usually failed when they took that chance, but the failure was there failure to mesh with society, not societys failure.

Today we don't look at things that way. Today society doesn't even give you a chance to fit. If you don't fit you go to jail, or you're shunned in some other way.

We put a higher percentage of our citizens in prison than any other country in the world, probably in the history of the world. We don't even give people a first chance anymore, much less a second chance.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

They never give up in Texas when there's somebody to kill

Texas is going to retry Andrea Yates. She killed her kids, and she's clearly insane. But in Texas that insanity part tends to make people nervous. She's a religious nutcase, she killed her kids because of God. And she was serious about that. Texas juries don't like thinking about the implications of that for religious belief. So they'll just focus on the she killed her kids part.

And the prosecutor will just focus on the they can get a jury to convict part.

Of course Texas is also going to try Penry for the fourth time. Those guys really just don't give up. Penry v Lynaugh 1989, Penry v Johnson 2001, Penry v Johnson 2001, the supreme court recently denied cert to that 2001 5th circuit ruling. Back for a new trial. They've been trying to kill an obviously retared man for 28 years and they aren't going to give up now.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, June 16, 2006

Even Republican nutcases have had enough nonsense

I hadn't heard about this very silly vote in the house until I read this Salon Article.

There's just a severe lack of honesty, intellectual or otherwise in the United States government. It's just sad.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Fat kids

When I was a kid the TV was full of ads for Sugar Pops and Hostess Twinkies and other such good foods.

Kids ate this stuff. Lot's and lot's of it. My mother used to make me sugar sanwiches all the time -- white bread, heavily buttered, table sugar spooned over the butter, fold the bread. Give it to me and shove me outside.

We were not fat.

It's lifestyle issue, not a diet issue. It was the shoving outside part that made the difference.

The same people who whine about what parents feed kids would whine if parents shoved kids outside to roam the neighborhood unsupervised.

One of the reasons modern man lives longer than in days of yore is that we're
fatter. The fat insulates us from extremes of the weather and we live longer. I don't know for sure that's true, but it's certainly a correlation. Everybody that whines about kids being too fat stake their arguement on a correlation, why isn't one correlation just as good as another?

If you want to bitch about how other parents raise their kids you should look to those who don't raise their kids as christians. Such parents should be stoned for dooming their children to an eternety of damnation. There's no excuse for that kind of thing.


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Bush is saying that it would endanger the US for us to pull out of Iraq now.

He's right, it would.

It will also endager the US for us to stay in Iraq.

The question isn't whether or not pulling out will endanger us, there are no more good options. The question is which option will cause the least harm.

I don't know the right answer to that. But, Bush doesn't seem to even want to face the right question.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


My mother is an immigrant. A war bride from WWII. She came to the US, with my daddy, in 1948. My daddy went into the seismograph business, oil exploration.

It meant a lot of traveling. He wasn't wildcatting, he was just going around the country drilling holes and sticking explosives into the holes and blowing it up to see how the earth shook, under contract for various oil companies. I was born in 1949 and we moved alot, back and forth from Texas to Montana, all over the plains states, often just staying in one town for a couple of weeks. My momma, my daddy, and me, an infant baby.

My daddy was in business with his uncle, so there was some family visiting going on. This particular event I'm fixing to tell you about happened at rented Kansas farmhouse when my grandparents were visiting from Texas.

It was 1951. I was way too young to remember it. But it's been described to me often by both my parents and my grandparents. So, I know what happened.

My mother was a registered alien. It was the law that anytime she changed her address she had to go to a Post Office and fill out a little change of address from for immigration authorities. She did that. Pretty often. Sometimes two or three times a month, from two or three different states. The law said that's what she was supposed to do, and she did it.

One Sunday afternoon during my grandparents visit, the four of them were in the yard of that Kansas farm house, sitting under a shade tree eating watermelon. Four cars came roaring into the yard, with FBI agents pouring out after they stopped. They took each of the four adults off separately for interrogation. Every one of my relatives who's told me about it told me they were very, very scared. These FBI guys had guns and they were nuts.

It seems that my mother had been moving too much, whatever that means. It was 1951, the war had been over 6 years, and the Nazi's were all either dead or in Argentina, but, hey, maybe she was a Nazi spy. I mean, the FBI had to protect those ports in Kansas from Nazi saboteurs.

These people were Americans. Clearly Americans. Except for my mother, lifelong Texans. No possibility of confusion. My daddy was a WWII vet. My grandparents both grew up on west Texas ranches. Even my mother had worked for the US Army for 3 years during the occupation. Cowboy hats, hard hats, horses, and Chevy pickups.

Imagine what it's like to be an Arab in the United States today and have turbans and camels rather than cowboy hats and horses.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Go to the World Series of Poker

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Tradition and marriage and relationships

The traditional view of marriage, what normal decent people used to believe, never was about marriage, it was about relationships and gender social roles.

When I was a kid I recall overhearing many comments made by normal decent adults referring to a homosexual couple by wondering which was the "man" and which was the "woman" (I grew up in Austin which was always kind of commie, even before the Dixie Chicks). People simply couldn't accept that two people could have a loving, romantic relationship that didn't involve male and female gender roles.

Most normal decent adults have learned a little bit since the 1950's and now realize that not everything they always believed about gender roles is set in biological stone. Some of it, maybe, but not all of it.

The religious right just can't keep up. They insist that traditional male/female gender roles were set in stone by God and that all this nonsense from feminists and gays is coming straight from the mouth of the devil.

I wonder if Ann Coulter realizes that women writing political books isn't at all what God had in mind for women and that she's just being a Godless liberal.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Burning Books

I was in the first or second grade when I first started to learn to distrust the American government. That would have been 1955 or 56. Something like that. Maybe it was 1957.

We lived in Austin, Texas. My daddy was a 4th or 5th generation Texan, my mother was a German national who had come to the US in 1948 as a war bride. She spent the occupation years of 1945-1948 working for the US Army as a translator, which is where she met my daddy. He was a soldier in the occupation forces. They were both 21 years old in 1948.

One day my teacher referred to Hitler as a book burner. That was puzzling to me because just the year before my mother had inherited a lot of old furniture and oil paintings and books from an Aunt in Germany. The books were of course all written in German, and I wondered how they survived if Hitler had burned all the books.

So when I got home I asked my mother why Hitler hadn't burned those books.

She told me that the only books she'd ever seen burned in Germany were burned by the US Army. She said at the beginning of the occupation they came thru neighborhoods going house to house and seizing "Nazi paraphernalia". In some cases that meant anything written in German or any photographs that included images of military uniforms or flags. The US Army piled such stuff up in the street block by block and burned them. The reason those books she had didn't get burned was that they'd been moved to a barn in the country along with old furniture and art work to protect them from the bombing (She'd grown up in Mannheim, an industrial city not far from France that got a lot of bombing).

So I guess the lesson I was supposed to learn was that book burning is bad if done by a bad person, but it's not bad if it's done by a good person.

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