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Saturday, January 21, 2006

blum’s anti-empire report

Osama Bin Laden suggested Americans read a book entitled Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower by William Blum in order to understand the why of what’s going to happen (and did happen already) if the Bushies (or whatever administration is in power) don’t stop their lies and oppression.

Hmm, a book recommended by Bin Laden—it might give some insight into the origins and underpinnings of Al Queda’s war against the West. It might not, but it’s as close as anyone can get to taking the course Al Queda Philosophy 101 other than reading the Koran and trying to figure out how it might apply. Only an idiot would dismiss the book without taking a look at it.

I’d vaguely heard of Blum, and learned more about him via Salon, along with a link to one of his articles (in the Salon reader’s comments). It will take a few days for the book to arrive; I wanted to see a bit of what he has to say now. I read a bit—and noticed that he cites references and, so far as I’ve read, hasn’t said anything that isn’t verifiable. So, here is The Anti-Empire Report:

The sign has been put out front: “Iraq is open for business.” We read about things done and said by the Iraqi president, or the Ministry of this or the Ministry of that, and it’s easy to get the impression that Iraq is in the process of becoming a sovereign state, albeit not particularly secular and employing torture, but still, a functioning, independent state.  Then we read about the IMF and the rest of the international financial mafia—with the US playing its usual sine qua non role—making large loans to the country and forgiving debts, with the customary strings attached, in the current instance ending government subsidies for fuel and other petroleum products.  And so the government starts to reduce the subsidies for these products which affect almost every important aspect of life, and the prices quickly quintuple, sparking wide discontent and protests.[1]  Who in this sovereign nation wanted to add more suffering to the already beaten-down Iraqi people?  But the international financial mafia are concerned only with making countries meet certain criteria sworn to be holy in Economics 101, like a balanced budget, privatization, and deregulation and thus making themselves more appealing to international investors. In case the presence of 130,000 American soldiers, a growing number of sprawling US military bases, and all the designed-in-Washington restrictive Coalition Provisional Authority laws still in force aren’t enough to keep the Iraqi government in line, this will do it.  Iraq will have to agree to allow their economy to be run by the IMF for the next decade.  The same IMF that Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist and dissident former chief economist at the World Bank, describes as having “brought disaster to Russia and Argentina and leaves a trail of devastated developing economies in its wake”.[2] On top of this comes the disclosure of the American occupation’s massive giveaway of the sovereign nation’s most valuable commodity, oil.  One should read the new report, “Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth” by the British NO, Platform.  Among its findings: This report reveals how an oil policy with origins in the US State Department is on course to be adopted in Iraq, soon after the December elections, with no public debate and at enormous potential cost.  The policy allocates the majority of Iraq’s oilfields—accounting for at least 64% of the country’s oil reserves—for development by multinational oil companies.

More "blum’s anti-empire report"

posted by lee on 01/21/06 at 03:55 PM

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

the internet is wonderful

There is danger in a blog sometimes. People you would cross the street to avoid in the real world can hunt you down in cyberspace. But at least it’s rarely dull. I received a comment on one of my old entries (you can read it here) and in the process of figuring out what the hell she was talking about, I came across this wonderful site:

George Hammond’s Scientific Proof of God Website.

Note, please, that this site has nothing to do with what the woman commented on—I saw the reference on The Millenium Project, a site that is a wonderful time trap.

Yes, indeed. Intelligent design is piffle—George has all the answers. Here is a very brief snippet of the paper published in The Noetic Journal Vol. 4 No. 3, July 2003 (it says so at the top). In the Abstract, it says, “A causal link between Relativity and the Structural Model yields the world’s first experimentally confirmed scientific proof of God.”

... Finally, an actual scientific proof of God has been detected.  Surely it is time that the scientific community took note of these developments.

In conclusion, I would only say something about the significance of this discovery.  The proposition that Psychology is Relativistic, if true, immediately elevates not only Psychology but even Theology to the status of hard axiomatic sciences. Beyond that; from Aristotle, Descartes and Newton down to the present day no one has ever questioned the significance of a scientific proof of God.  Such a result would de facto effect an ecumenical unification of World Religion.  Current events underscore the strain on civilization caused by the conflict of world religions.

One should mention the impact of this discovery on mental health.  In my opinion a sense of the existence of a “higher power” is the mainstay of sanity.  Young people, especially children are in strong possession of this since God = Guv » ¥ at birth [3], but with growth and the stress of life this sense can become eroded.  This is the symptomatic description of chronic mental disturbance.  Normal perception according to this theory, includes a sense that there is an unknowable and supreme power.  This provides not only optimism and hope but the physical perception of an unbounded future, even to the very old.  A proof of God will therefore eventually improve the world’s mental health.

Lastly, never before in history has Man known for sure that there is a God.  If a scientific proof has actually been found, we have every reason to expect an immanent and miraculous advance in Civilization.

There ya go. Proof. Or so George says. I’ve been wrong all these years.

The internet is wonderful.

posted by lee on 01/18/06 at 09:58 PM

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

summer images on a dreary january day

Going - Three Mile Beach, Oscoda, MI, 2005. copyright 2006 by Lee Fleming, Norwalk, CT. All rights reserved.

Together - Three Mile Beach, Oscoda, MI, 2005. copyright 2006 by Lee Fleming, Norwalk, CT. All rights reserved.

But come in the water with me - Three Mile Beach, Oscoda, MI, 2005. copyright 2006 by Lee Fleming, Norwalk, CT. All rights reserved.

Waiting - Three Mile Beach, Oscoda, MI, 2005. copyright 2006 by Lee Fleming, Norwalk, CT. All rights reserved.

Still Life - Three Mile Beach, Oscoda, MI, 2005. copyright 2006 by Lee Fleming, Norwalk, CT. All rights reserved.

Today it’s rainy and dreary and yuck, so I wasted some time scanning some photos I recently got developed. Photos taken with my Vivitar T100 Focus Free—one of those throwaway cameras, I think Stanley got it from the bank for opening an account or something. Years ago.

At any rate, the photos above were taken on Three Mile Beach, on Lake Huron in Oscoda, Michigan, late August or early September 2005. I have some more decent ones to scan, of a old railroad depot in Harrisville, Michigan, but haven’t gotten to those, yet. You can click the images to open a larger view—they are all of Stanley and Ginger and it was a perfect summer day I wish I could rewind.

There have been a few things I’ve wanted to write about, but didn’t have the time. About the stupidity of poor people paying thousands of dollars a year to prosperity ministries when they can’t even afford to feed their children (in the New York Times today). About seeing Capote last week—it was so well done it left me stunned (despite some obvious prop errors). Then there’s the bullshit about Iran ... And the volcano, Augustine, spewing in Alaska—here is a great website with links to several volcano-cams all over the world: Alaska Volcano Observatory.

posted by lee on 01/14/06 at 05:13 PM

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

of roma and etruria and michelangelo

Finally, at long last, we launched a website for Martha Wakeman, a pastel artist, and her husband Robert Proctor, a professor of Italian at Connecticut College. It’s here: and I’m pretty pleased with the way it’s turning out. We have some more photos of venues and topics to add in, maybe a map or two, in the Art & Study Retreats in Italy sections.

From the hills above Settignano, by Martha Wakeman. (click image to enlarge)
We created the site using ExpressionEngine so it would be easy to maintain and update, particularly the Gallery. We plan to add in a payment system for those who want to make reservation deposits or pay for a retreat online—that will go up in a few days or so.

The planning challenge was for it to handle Martha’s artwork and the Art & Study Retreats in Italy on the same site. Placing the content for the Retreats section was fun since I did most of it while watching it snow—prompted dreams of Italy. Rome is near the top of my list for places I want to go within the next ten years. Take a look at the Retreats descriptions and see if they don’t make you want to get or update your passport and start packing.

posted by lee on 01/05/06 at 04:13 PM

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Monday, January 02, 2006

weather and not much else

We have winter storm Beverly beginning now. I still think it’s really weird to name winter storms. I think winter storms should have to EARN their names, like “Blizzard of ‘78.”

It’s not supposed to do much more than rain a lot, turn to sleet, and then snow up to four inches—along the shoreline. The rest of the state might get 10 or 11 inches. Flood warnings, again, and wind warnings. Winter in New England.

My parents are in Panama City Beach, Florida. It’s 60 degrees there now; last night, when I talked to Dad, he said it was in the 70s and muggy.

Alas, the holidays are officially over. I have just one webpage more to do and we can launch a new website tomorrow. Then I have to do a javascript quiz for one site, take a series of screenshots and do some tidying on another site to prep it for relauching as a web-based trading application (vs. “download this software” to run the application), and update some photos on another site and, last and the thing I hate to do most: do the quarterly billing.

Today we hung the new curtains in the bathroom, and Stanley steamed them so I didn’t have to iron them. The bathroom is looking very pretty, with the new wallpaper and light fixtures and new curtains. Colonial-looking. I made a bid on eBay for the hooks I want, a pretty cast-iron piece—hope I win it. And I ordered some new rugs on Overstock to replace the West Elm rugs that I love, but that the cat has managed to destroy and anyway they’re too modern for the wallpaper (I can use them upstairs for now—by the time we do that bathroom, the cat will have them shredded to fuzz puffs). Sooner or later, we’ll replace the counter, backsplash, and sink (which is in sad shape), but it’s quite nice for now.

And so it goes ...

posted by lee on 01/02/06 at 08:51 PM

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Saturday, December 31, 2005

the best list of the year 2006 edition

Here it is, the Lake Superior State University 2006 List of Banished Words. With abbreviated descriptions; read the whole thing in Sault Ste. Marie.

SURREAL – One part opiate of the masses, 13 parts overuse.

HUNKER DOWN – To brace oneself, in anticipation of media onslaught.

PERSON OF INTEREST – Found within the context of legal commentary, but seldom encountered at cocktail parties.

COMMUNITY OF LEARNERS – A five-dollar phrase on a nickel-errand. Not to be confused with ‘school.’

UP OR DOWN VOTE – A casualty of today’s partisanship.

BREAKING NEWS – Once it stopped presses. Now it’s a lower-intestinal condition brought about by eating dinner during newscasts.

DESIGNER BREED – “When you mate a miniature schnauzer to a toy poodle, it’s not a ‘Schnoodle,’ it’s a mongrel.”

FEMA – Dedicated to the memory of a great federal agency consigned to the ash heap of parody.

FIRST-TIME CALLER – “I am serious in asking: who in any universe gives a care?”

PASS THE SAVINGS ON TO YOU! – Marketing catch phrase that became a lost-leader long ago.

97% FAT FREE – Adventures in delusion.


JUNK SCIENCE – Banished from the Marketplace of Ideas.

GIT-ER-DONE – (Any of its variations) It’s overdone. [I never heard this one. Ever. Can’t say that I’m sorry.]

DAWG – No designer breed here.

TALKING POINTS – Created after PR staffers stopped attending seminars on how to put a positive ‘spin’ on their press releases.

HOLIDAY TREE – a silly name for what most folks hold as a Christmas tree, no matter your preference of religion.

They’re now accepting submissions for the 2007 list!

posted by lee on 12/31/05 at 10:00 PM

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happy new year

Well, 2005 was certainly an interesting year. Got married. Stanley got a new heart valve and a bypass. As my sister pointed out, any year that you or your beloved is saved from certain death is a good year.

Do I have resolutions for the new year? Oh, yes. Get more sleep, work less, get at least 5,000 steps per day in, play with the dog more, see more movies (we’ve been slacking off), work smarter (so I can work less), exercise and lose some weight, spend at least two weeks of our vacation without working (and take an entire month off) and, by July, be able to walk a mile without feeling like I’m going to drop dead. What else. Um. Catch up and keep up with the bookkeeping, put more into the IRA, and win the Powerball. (Well, I can hope, can’t I?) Finish redesigning our company website. And get the first floor of the house whipped into shape by April. (Or at least get the kitchen painted and the boxes out of the living room ... ) Spend less, consume less energy. Read more books. Spend more time with my photography. See the family more. (A niece’s wedding in July—so two trips to Michigan this year! Stanley is happy about that.) Take more day trips in Connecticut.

We had an interesting dinner as our last meal of 2005. Rice pilaf, broccoli, and flaming tilapia. The tilapia wasn’t supposed to be in flames—Mark Bittman is wrong—two inches from the broiler is NOT far enough away (pulled it out fast enough so it was ok). And pie soup.

Pie soup? Well, I learned something. If you use frozen strawberries in a strawberry apple pie, you need to use a thickener. It tastes really good, it’s just weird to have to eat a pie with a spoon. This is a variation on the pie I made a couple of week ago, apple cranberry with streussel topping, which was tasty but way too sour. So, this time, I decided to make the same recipe, but use strawberries instead of cranberries. And use more spice. This was the first time I’ve ever baked with frozen strawberries. Live and learn, eh? I served it up to Stanley in a bowl with a spoon, and he laughed, but ate it. At least I had some whipped cream to put on top. When I finally master this recipe (my take on it, anyway), I think I will start a new category, recipes, and make it the first entry.

Our first major event of 2006 will be on Thursday, when we get the new fridge we FINALLY ordered. The old one is, let’s see, maybe 35 years old? Maybe older? It will be interesting to see how much of an impact a new fridge will have on our electric bill. I suspect it will pay for itself in a couple of years. Especially since CL&P got a 22% rate increase (17% in January, the rest kicks in March 2006). Whatever happened to competition for electricity? We didn’t get anything fancy or expensive because we don’t have the room for anything fancy or expensive. I would have to sacrifice too much cupboard space for a big fridge. So we got a $400 Hotpoint from Home Depot, 15.7 cubic feet, about the same size we have now.

See what a boring couple we are: we watched a movie, ate dinner in, watched the ball drop and kissed, turned on Coldplay on the telly, I’m blogging and Stanley is reading Salon. The dog is done cowering since the fireworks are over. And I’m quite content with my life.

Now off to throw the towels into the dryer ...

posted by lee on 12/31/05 at 09:10 PM

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