I weep for my birthplace, my home town of Princeton. It has been strangled to death by development, and it looks like it will continue apace, with governmental sanction. NJ blocks off Highlands, but eases other rules for builders. The “garden state” hasn’t been that for years; it will never be, again.
9/11 Report Cited No Iraqi ‘Control’ of Qaeda - Rice. It all depends on what your definitions of the words “relationship”, “tie”, and “contact” are. Well, at least we know what “is” is. This “is” being purposely obfuscated for political gain.
Aspen Vista panorama.
One more. A slight stitching error in the middle, but overall, pleasing. Big. 300k.
Shameful revelations will haunt Mr Bush. “This comes near saying that the president is above the law when acting as commander-in-chief in wartime. No other president has made such a claim. The constitution gives Congress power to ‘make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.’ This contradicts claims of untrammelled presidential authority.”
NY Times Op-Ed Contributor:
Planning for the long goodbye. I did not see a signed contract that stated the Reagan family must expose their entire family’s thoughts, feelings and actions in reference to Alzheimer’s. On the one hand, I can imagine the benefit to those who find themselves facing Alzheimer’s, and the contribution it might have made to public understanding of the illness. But this rather clinical take, and the skim over deep ethical and moral choices comes off wrong, to my ears. There’s a flavor of political/religious attack; even though pushing the Bush Administration on stem cells is a proper subject, this is a poor vehicle. Some of this medical information, to my shame, was new to me. Where are the articles in general about the challenges of Alzheimer’s? Surely we don’t need the ‘star power’ of famous individuals’ suffering to be interested in a fate that too many of us may have to face?
This is the fertile ground where the historical Life magazine would have sent photojournalists. How much poorer we are, without that magazine.
NY Times Editorial:
Time for action on Sudan. The perpetrators will be emboldened by the bureaucratic, hand-flapping delays. Here’s a rhetorical question: If our attack on Iraq was for humanitarian purposes, why are we not moving now?
SF New Mexican/AP:
Western drought could be worst in history. I would qualify it as ‘recorded history.’ If there’s wide consensus to start jigging with the historical water compacts, New Mexico will be a big loser. The surrounding states have significantly higher numbers of Congresspersons than in the 1920’s, and the proportion to New Mexico’s will have us on the losing end of the deals.
SF New Mexican/AP:
Bush nixed fire retardant study. “The Bush administration decided not to consult with government agencies on the potential harm to threatened and endangered fish from fire retardant dropped on wildfires, despite advice to do so from the agencies , according to documents emerging in a lawsuit.” The retardants contain sodium ferrocyanide, which breaks down to hydrogen cyanide, and has been implicated in post-fire fish kills. Another complexity for our drought/fire situation.
Speaking of F-18’s, one just shot by our casa, 90 degree bank, at high speed heading for Albuquerque. My ears hurt. Looking at the PDF transcript from the 9/11 panel, one can scream, shout and jump up and down at the lack of preparedness on the day. But this eventuality, hijacked planes-as-bombs, bandied about in CIA and FBI, had obviously never been seriously planned for. Our government was negligent, and it cost lives. The misdirections of 20/20 hindsight make this difficult to judge fairly, but if we don’t judge, we cannot prepare ourselves for future risks.
I wonder what Bin Laden thought, after the Pacific plane hijack scheme (“Project Bojinka”) had been foiled? After the various trials took place, and information about aircraft training became public? And no governmental security reactions? I must assume he was thrilled, reinforced in his belief that Allah was smiling on his endeavors [all religions seem to fall into this dangerous belief of lucky-circumstance-as-divine-sanction].
[I hear you, John Lennon, and have to agree.]
Looking backwards, without the heavy drapes of bureaucracy, we had ample warning that large-scale orchestrated plane-as-bomb schemes were being actively worked. Security services around the globe were considering this eventuality for large events. It seems we only gave thought to foiling the plots; we apparently had no operational logistics set up for an internal aircraft incident [from my reading, I believe NORAD expected radar warning of the approach of a target, giving time to assemble a response]. For any given internal incident, I expected a triangulation of three immediate military base responses; I was surprised that NORAD had so few resources. Cold Cold-War leftovers, not even reheated.
And that’s a valid point. This must be taken in the context of history ... we are in the post-Cold-War era, and its easy to forget how relaxed we’ve become. How far the budgets were cut, starting in the Bush Senior Administration [no Soviet Backfire bombers testing our coastline air defenses]. When the Soviet Union collapsed in on itself, it was more than a sigh of relief. It was a national stand-down for personal anxiety over getting massively nuked. Getting geared up for another threat, a terrorist one ... well, I can understand how it might have fallen between the cracks. Terrorists were considered the ‘small potato’ of international military problems. I can imagine the disbelief that terrorists could ever organize into a massive, coordinated threat. “Terrorists are too disorganized, too unprofessional, too un-military.” It would take an unprecedented event to wake up the government. A shame that noone (except maybe Russia) appreciated the glut of militarily trained jihadists we and others left in the wake of Afghanistan and Bosnia. As we now know all too well, the mix of ideology and military skill is not complacent. Add to that America’s antiquated belief that we are somehow insulated from the remainder of the world by two oceans ... we were sitting ducks. Benignly so. Unlike some others, I see no criminal intent. Criminal negligence, yes. But no intent.
I expect this will all devolve into the usual governmental whine, “Well, budgets were cut so we couldn’t do x, and so-and-so’s administration is responsible for the cuts.” Or, “We need more money for new threats.” Instead of reorganizing what we’ve got, leveraging inter-agency redundancy, and making it work. It’s clear we had the tools to prevent this. Money could make working systems better, but we need to make the systems work properly first.
The terrorists leveraged gaping loopholes; holes which we’ve closed. In spite of the orchestrated ‘terror level’ panics this Administration seems to love to broadcast, I don’t think the terrorists will ever be as lucky again. At least, not with airplanes. Yet we need to be actively looking at where other loopholes exist. We’ve all talked too many times about our ports, our border security. That Bin Laden would prod a sleeping giant into wakefulness, implies a certain amount of insanity, to my mind. And insanity’s hard to predict.
I have one request, however. Let’s not overweight computer technology this time. The CIA overemphasized computer surveillance, and look where it got us. There’s no replacement for good people, with clear operating procedures and logical layers of redundancy. At Kennedy Airport, the control tower still has one of the old-fashioned air-traffic light-guns hanging from the ceiling. Pilots are still trained to know the old analog traffic signals. If the computers go down, Kennedy can still direct air traffic. Our national safety deserves no less preparedness than this example.
As promised earlier today,
a gallery of images from my Aspen Vista hike last weekend. The trail is now closed due to fire restrictions.
Panel Doubts Claim That F-16’s Would Have Stopped Flight 93. Okey-dokey, let’s drop the BS. What about the Navy? That damned airliner flew virtually right over Willow Grove Naval Air Station. 100 miles from Harrisburg, where Flight 93 crashed. F-18’s fly at over Mach 1.8; if armed with AIM-120 AMRAAM’s, they could shoot from nearly 30 miles out. You do the math on how much warning they’d need. There are also Naval Air Stations with close proximity to Washington D.C.
Are they telling us that NORAD has no means of scrambling *any* services’ jets in defense of the United States? If so, this is a bigger debacle than anyone’s letting on, IMHO.
Later: In looking up the scramble speed of an F-18, I ran across this. Disproven, but interesting, given my questions above. I wonder if the ‘expert’ took into account the mountainous location of the measuring site in middle PA, when looking at the symmetricality of the sonic boom seismography? Some of the air-to-air missiles are also supersonic ... and I’d assume different seismological readings.
Next thing you know, I’ll be on board with the ‘black helicopter’ fringe ... (grin) ... hey, wait ... don’t wrinkle my foil hat ...
Why is art not reflecting world events? An important read, IMHO. Look at how, when and why Picasso painted “Guernica,” and try to pick out one of today’s artists who has the weight, the pull, the raw burning creativity to pull such a creation off.
Note also, Picasso didn’t attack individuals or ideologies directly; he portrayed the event, the victims, titled the piece to immortalize the town and its citizens ... and let everyone draw their own conclusions. Misfortune needs no barker; there’s also no need to restate the obvious. Style didn’t matter. Most of the current works I’ve seen, are bent on pushing an ideology, rather than the event. Hanging political views around the victim’s necks. Would “Guernica” still be famous, if it was named “Franco’s Fascist Future”, or some such title? Picasso knew better than to beat us over the head with the specifics that our news organs saturate (supersaturate?) us with.
Off on a tangent, the Santa Fe art scene here seems like creative risk is on the wane. Perhaps tied to the economic downturn; many artists are trying to make a living solely off their work, and gallery owners are trying to please a cash-poor buying public. [I have to get in one good dig: the market can only support so many Georgia O’Keeffe and Fritz Scholder variants.] Many artists have settled on a single creative ‘hook’ for maintaining market visibility, which, judging by the lack of energy in the creations, has become a cement shoe. Living in the midst of it, it’s very cloying. There’s a desire for consistency in the marketplace that I believe works against creativity; yet the galleries are forced into it by the buyers. The effect of mass-production on buyer expectations; especially in a tourist town such as Santa Fe. The Wal-Mart-ization of art. Now there’s a subject for another day. The devolving of fine art in America into couch-painting cliches. Someone’s done it already, I’m sure ...
But my belated point is, correlating your particular creative hook with a political ideology, will automatically remove 1/2 of your buying public in these politically polarized times. It is not an economy in which to experiment with such things, unless you’re independently wealthy or a trust-fund child.
Chronicle of Higher Ed:
American idioms have gone missing. In a world of homeboys and bling, I have to agree with “I wouldn’t underestimate the eternal appeal of sounding classy without seeming pretentious.”
The Daily Standard:
The secret life of Newt Gingrich. No doubt, the involuntary psychological profile will be cast from his choice of books.
NY Times Op-Ed Contributor:
How much is that Uzi in the window? In our haste to reach Baghdad, we didn’t destroy stockpiles. Then when bullets flew, the military seemed to expect that it was good guys shooting bad guys. A bum-rush and naivete that has cost lives.
NY Times Editorial:
Democrats, DeLay, and Doolittle. “Still, if the ethics panel is actually listening, we say let the chips fall where they may, and, more important, don’t stop here.” Hear, hear.
House fights over Yellowstone snowmobiles. Always the false choice, yes or no. How about cleaner quieter four-stroke vehicles, in numbers limited on a daily basis, and only on roads (including fire/logging roads)? Yellowstone is too large to be seen on skis, and we certainly don’t want the skies filled with loud tourist helicopters. A compromise would be judicious, with environmental impact studies to verify soundness of concept.
With 9/11 Report, Bush’s Political Thorn Grows More Stubborn. Hopefully, we won’t have to hear this chestnut anymore ... ”It concluded that there never was a meeting in Prague between an Iraqi intelligence officer and Mohammed Atta, the leader of the Sept. 11 hijackers; in an interview with National Public Radio in January, Mr. Cheney cited intelligence reports about the possibility of such a meeting in asserting that there was not confirmation ‘one way or another’ about links between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks.” My italics, as per usual.
The revelations of this Administration should be very suspect by now ... but even yet, in the media, they’re still holding back. The recent emphasis on Zarqawi, for instance, to save face. The Jordanian idealogical mercenary with diaphanous ties to Al-Qaeda is now being cast as another AQ mastermind, instead of another dirty little terrorist boosting his ego and his following by taking advantage of Iraq’s instability. The Bush Administration, in my view, is playing right into the hands of the terrorists. One must humiliate the bastards, not help raise them into cult heros by putting rewards on their heads. Offer a dozen cubic yards of high quality dung as the reward for capture. Iraqi farmers might turn him in ...
SF New Mexican:
They’re closing down the hiking trails, due to the extreme fire danger (read: dessicatedness). Dale Ball, Dorothy Stewart, Atalaya. Bandelier’s backcountry trails. Santa Fe National Forest has closed the Winsor, Big Tesuque, Atalaya, Borrego, Aspen Vista, Black Canyon and Chamisa trails. Carson National Forest is apparently still at Stage I, which means I can still get up to Wheeler Peak (if I go soon; anyone interested in joining me?).
I was on the Aspen Vista trail last weekend; I guess I’ll post the gallery, though the photos are not up to my usual, for those who missed the opportunity to get up there before closure. I had a feeling this was going to happen. Sucks living in such a lovely outdoor landscape, and not able to enjoy it because of the risk posed by a few braindead individuals.
[Note, the SF New Mexican has split into a free site, and a subscription site. The free version now requires registration. A bit more nosey than others I’ve used, obviously harvesting statistical information for subscriptions and advertisers. Thing is, there’s nowhere else to get vital Santa Fe news. In small cities like ours, with only one news organization, registration-as-involuntary-sales-survey irks me. But the readers (like myself) have probably brought this on ourselves, by not responding to previous calls for volunteering information. One way or another, information will be gathered. This is the New Mexican’s third try, I believe, at a news-oriented CMS. I wish them luck.]
Part of a larger tutorial,
from Steve Hoffman: Interpreting your digital camera’s thumbnail image and histogram. Valuable.
Cursed by lagging perceptions. The chart on job loss/gain on the bottom right is hilarious. A Reagan effect in the Clinton years? Hardly.
Bloomsday, an unforgettable odyssey. Hell, just make each and every day worthy of prose.
WhiteBal, portable high-tech Kodak Grey cards for verifying color casts/balance with RAW shooting.
Star Trek’s transporter may need a “Quantum Leap.” Scientists Demonstrate Teleportation with Atoms.
Study: 82 Million Lacked Health Insurance in U.S. This isn’t surprising: “New Mexico was second with 42.4 percent ...”. Lovelace is, I believe, the only HMO left offering group plans. Virtually every insurance company has gotten out of the health business here. Precious few options left, and those that *are* left, have gotten very pricey for very little coverage. Very little coverage.