From Pine View Farm

October, 2007 archive

A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation 1

As I pointed out here.

It’s called history. It’s sort of made up by a lot of facts and some interpretation. But the interpretation has to at least give a passing nod to the facts.

The history tells us where we came from and helps us figure out where we are going.

Lying about the history confuses us about both.

But, then, there are folks who base their way of life, their philosophies, and their politics on lies.

Josh Marshall comments.


Buy the Book 1

Fair Game

Help compensate the lady for a lost career, lost retirement, and betrayal by her employers.


Never To Be Seen Again 0

Extraordinary rendition.

Involved being rendered.

Like a horse into glue.

Follow the link for the facts.

1. Rendition is something the Bush administration cooked up.

Nope. George W. Bush was still struggling to coax oil out of the ground when the United States “rendered to justice” its first suspect from abroad. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan authorized an operation that lured Lebanese hijacker Fawaz Younis to a boat off the coast of Cyprus . . . .

Beginning in 1995, the Clinton administration turned up the speed with a full-fledged program to use rendition to disrupt terrorist plotting abroad. According to former director of central intelligence George J. Tenet, about 70 renditions were carried out before Sept. 11, 2001, most of them during the Clinton years.

2. People who are “rendered” inevitably end up in a foreign slammer — or worse.

Actually, that’s not a foregone conclusion.


3. Step one of a rendition involves kidnapping the suspect.

The individual may feel as though he’s being kidnapped, but that’s not usually what’s going on.


4. Rendition is just a euphemism for outsourcing torture.

Well, not historically.


Now, though, the Bush team seems to have dramatically eroded such safeguards (torture is their pornography–ed.).


5. Pretty much anyone — including U.S. citizens and green card holders — can be rendered these days.

Not so, . . . .


In fairness, though, the ghastly case of Maher Arar — a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who convincingly says he was detained at New York’s JFK Airport, handed off to Syria and tortured — is way too close for comfort.

Proud of your government now?


Drinking Liberally 0

Tomorrow, Tangier Restaurant, 18th and Lombard, Philadelphia, Pa.

Be there or be square.


Drumbeats 0

Dan Froomkin (emphasis added):

While Cheney’s language was not radically different from what he has used in the past, Stolberg writes that “people at the conference said that, placed in the context of Mr. Bush’s remarks, it represented a significant step toward increasing pressure on Iran. The speech seemed to lay the groundwork for the threat of military action — either because the administration actually intends to use force or because it wants to use the threat of force to prod Europe into action.”

Stolberg continues: “Mr. Bush has repeatedly said the administration would not ‘tolerate’ a nuclear-armed Iran. But during a news conference on Wednesday, the president went further, saying of Iran: ‘If you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.'”

Furthermore, Stolberg notes: “That distinction — having the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon, as opposed to actually having a weapon — is one the administration has not made in the past. David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute who moderated a panel discussion before and after Mr. Cheney’s speech, said the vice president also seemed to draw a new red line when, instead of saying it is ‘not acceptable’ for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, he said the world ‘will not allow’ it.

More to the point, the challenge to keep Iran “from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon” is prima facie absurd. The knowledge of how to make a nuclear weapon is in the public domain and has been so for over 50 years. It’s called “nuclear physics.”

But as an instrument for whipping up emotions among the ignorant and the hysterical, what a wonderful phrase!


Linux in the Schools 0

Open Source beats pirated. Of course, as far as I am concerned, Linux beats Windows three ways to Sunday, but that’s another story.

By 2009, all computers in Russian schools are to be run on Linux – which means they will not have to pay for a licence for software, such as Microsoft’s Windows.

Alexey Smirnov, Director General of the Company ALTLinux, said that schools formerly tended to run illegal copies of Microsoft operating systems, but after Russia entered the WTO, the laws became much stricter and schools began to be prosecuted for doing so.

“The situation became rather serious, and something had to be done,” he told BBC World Service’s Digital Planet programme.

“One possible decision was to buy licences for all the software being used – but so much software was being used, it proved too expensive… so the decision was taken to use free software, although not immediately, but over three years.”

Via Adrian Bacon.


Mail-Order House 1

Tizzy in a teacup:

A do-it-yourself Craftsman-style Sears kit house, painstakingly assembled in 1925 by its owner, is up for grabs in Northwest Washington — not for a price but simply for the taking.

The two-story house, assessed by the District tax office at $813,950, has been boarded up for more than a decade and hardly looks like the showplace depicted in old Sears catalogue drawings. A plumber named Jesse Baltimore put it together — all 10,000 parts — with the help of a 77-page Sears, Roebuck and Co. instruction book. He was among thousands of people across the nation who bought the company’s house kits decades ago.

A plumber built this house in the Palisades neighborhood in 1925 from a kit he purchased from a Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog.

Neighbors advocating demolition declared the house an eyesore years ago. But preservationists hailed it as an important symbol of how Washington’s working-class neighborhoods developed after World War I. The preservationists wanted to keep the house right where it sits in the Palisades neighborhood.

(Aside: Northwest Washington is definitely the high-rent district.)

I grew up on the Sears and Montgomery Ward Catalogs. On Pine View Farm, they were our link to shopping. The nearest cities were 90 miles away (north) or 40 miles and an hour-and-a-half ferry ride (south).

A house in a box is certainly a curiosity, but really not much different from the McMansions being thrown up now (I have seen the kits from a leading McMansion manufacturer heading down the road on the backs of flat-beds–don’t remove the scaffolding until the Ty-Vek is up), but, given that, as the story later points out, “(a)bout 90 percent of the estimated 75,000 Sears houses sold across the country still stand,” this house is hardly a historical site worthy of preservation.

More a historical curiosity.


Put Your Hands on the Computer and Feel the Power! 0

Or click here.

Via Phillybits.


Back from Williamsburg 0

It was good to see First Son and First Daughter-in-Law.

The campus of my alma mater has not changed much. A few new buildings, a couple of new statues, and co-eds a lot younger than I remember them.

Colonial Disneyland is still as nice as ever.

And the wireless cloud in the hotel did not reach our room, but, in all other ways, the hotel was top-notch.

First Son will be on the way back to Afghanistan early next month, hopefully to end his S(pl)urged ™ tour next spring.

He reckons that, after that, it will be back to Iraq.

I just can’t think of anything more to say.


Gonzo Gonezo? 0

Time served?


Good Grief! 0



Stark Comments 2

The Honorable Pete Stark:

He went on to say, “in his previous job as an actor, our governor used to play make believe and blow things up. Well, the president and the Republicans in Congress are playing make believe today with children’s lives. The truth is that Bush just likes to blow things up, in Iraq, in the United States, and in Congress.”

The scathing comments drew immediate condemnation from Republicans, who demanded he retract it. “Congressman Stark’s statement dishonors not only the commander in chief, but the thousands of courageous men and women of America’s armed forces who believe in their mission and are putting their lives on the line for our freedom and security,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

When asked if he would take back any of his statements, Stark told KCBS “Absolutely not. I may have dishonored the commander in chief, but I think he’s done pretty well to dishonor himself without any help from me.”

Fairly typical on the part of the Republicans, actually.

Rather than deal with the substance of the comments, they resort to ad hominem attacks.

Ad hominem attacks–the first resort of those who have nothing going for them.

Via Susie.


Dodd on FISA 0

End the waterboarding of civil liberties.

More here.

Go here.

Via Brendan.


Uh-Oh 10

My SOSO is reading the “This Old House” website.

This cannot be good.

That’s a show and a site I have always successfully avoided until today. I’ve done enough Harry Homeowner stuff to know that it never goes the way the “experts” say it will.

Once you start ripping stuff apart, you always find surprises. Only once have I met a 15-minute plumbing job that actually took 15 minutes (and that was because I was following behind my own work, as opposed to the Previous Owner’s).

All the other 15-minute plumbing jobs in this house have taken at least three hours and four trips to the hardware store.

Personally, I think the whole thing is a crock(pot).


The Bomb 0

I wonder whether the Revolutionary War would have turned out differently if the Continental Army had known about this tactic:

The Burmese military is facing an unexpected threat from female opponents to its regime – a deluge of panties dispatched to the country’s embassies in a “in a culturally insulting gesture of protest” against its recent crackdown on protestors.

According to AP the Panties for Peace initiative is not merely symbolic, since the the group behind the campaign – Lanna Action for Burma – claims “superstitious generals, especially junta leader General Than Shwe… believe that contact with women’s underwear saps them of power”.

We might be remembering Betsy Ross in a whole nother way.


Klutz 0

I have stop kicking the plug for the hub out of the UPS.


The Oral Majority 3

One of the neat things about the golden era of porn in the 1970’s and the 1980’s (before the internet made porn accessible to everyone) was the titles of the movies.

I remember walking up Market Street from 30th Street Station to the office at 20th and Market and passing the theatre (right next to the massage parlor where once I saw a very happy looking guy in a wheelchair exiting) advertising “The Oral Majority.”

Well, the majority seems to have become a minority.


‘Nuff Said 0

Ever since 9/11, we have watched Republican lawmakers help Mr. Bush shred the Constitution in the name of fighting terrorism. We have seen Democrats acquiesce or retreat in fear. It is time for that to stop.

Succintly put, the Current Federal Administration betrays the ideals of the Founders and, clearly, has no clue as to what the United States of America is about.

It is not about making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

It is about a dream of liberty and equality and a government of laws, not men.


Pine View Farm Supports Chris Dodd 3

Because he stands up for the Constitution with deeds.

Get your credit cards out.

Go here.

Listen to an interview here.


Good-Bye Joey Bishop 0

Joey Bishop, the long-faced comedian and the last surviving member of the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra’s celebrated retinue of the 1960’s, died Wednesday night at his home in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 89.

His death was of multiple causes, said his longtime publicist, Warren Cowan.

Mr. Bishop was the least flamboyant of the Rat Pack and no match for the others — Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Sinatra himself — in their dedication to hell-raising.

For you youngsters out there, here’s more on Joey Bishop.