Saturday, September 08, 2007

Meleagris gallopavo in Saranac Lake

The American Turkey is now a common site in the Tri-lakes area. My neighborhood has a large flock consisting of two adult females and about 10-12 chicks, teenagers (poults) now. This bird is native to N. America. These birds can fly surprising fast (up to 88 km/hr) and for distances up to 1/4 mile. And yes, Ben Franklin did prefer the turkey over the bald eagle as the national bird. Life expectancy for these birds is 1.3 - 1.6 years. Female turkeys are known to sometimes share nests and to lay their eggs in the nests of other birds such as grouse and pheasant.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Osama bin Laden - Fear or Anger?

Our government has obtained the latest video starring Osama bin Laden.
Several intelligence agencies were looking at the video - the first new images of the terror leader in nearly three years - but no details or conclusions about its message were immediately available, the counterterror and intelligence officials said.
Here is a good conclusion we can easily draw. Bin Laden is still at large! Six years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the guy responsible is still free! At least Iraq is now free.

So will Bush use the video to scare people as he usually does? Or will US citizens be outraged that Bin Laden is still at large after because we are bogged down in Iraq?

Independent Reports on Iraq

Four independent reports on the current conditions in Iraq are briefly reviewed by Steve Benen.

General Accounting Office report that can be read here (pdf).

Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq (a commission of retired military officers).

Congressional Research Service.

U.S. Embassy in Iraq (soon to be released).

Oh, and let's not forget that letter to the NYT written by seven enlisted soldiers who just finished a tour in Iraq.

Not one of these independent reports paints a pretty picture of the current military and political situation in Iraq. But soon we will have the report from General Petraeus. What is the likelihood of a military General telling his commander in chief "hey boss, we're losing this war"? That is not going to happen.

Political Quiz Fun

Here is a cool Danish website that provides links to political identity and knowledge quizzes. Some of them are short like the libertarian quiz at the Advocates and others are more extensive, like the one at political compass. It doesn't seem to matter which type of quiz, concerning political identity, that I take. I always end up near Ghandi in my political views.

I also like the "News IQ" quiz at It only asks nine questions but they seem like pretty easy questions to me.

If you really want a chuckle, take "Falafel Bill" O'Reilly's quizz. I answered 9 out of 10 questions correctly in many cases not because I knew the answers but rather because I know how Bill O'Reilly's mind works.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Will the American People Be Bamboozled Again?

We all know that G.W. Bush can't be fooled. But he was pretty good at fooling the American people about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and committing our country to a war based on a lie. The question now is....will the American people be fooled again? I agree with Josh Marshall. A majority of Americans will fall for the Bush line that things are much better in Iraq and that we should continue with the strategy of the last 5 years. Luckly, Sept. 11th is just around the corner. It's a great opportunity to remind everyone how afraid they need to be. And, how only G.W. Bush can protect them.

When Cheney tells Bush it's time to invade Iran, I'm pretty sure a majority of Americans will go along with that idea also.

After all, we can fight them over there or we can fight them over here. [Hmmmmmm, seems like I remember that argument from about 40 yrs. ago.]

Current Non-Fiction Reads

Prof. Thomas Huxley

Bishop Samuel Wilberforce

I read about one book a week and it's always fiction. I generally just browse non-fiction. However, I picked up a couple of bargain books at B&N while I was in DC and I'm reading them cover to cover.

"Great Feuds in Science" by Hal Hellman. This book describes and discusses ten great feuds in science. I'm not reading them in order. Course, the first feud I had to read was between Darwin supporters (Thomas Huxley and Bishop "Soapy Sam" Wilberforce. I really love the elegance of the arguments and insults that were made.

Bishop Wilberforce pointed out that Darwin's theory was merely "an hypothesis, raised most unphilosophically to the dignity of a causal theory." He also commented how extremely uncomfortable he would feel if someone could show that an ape in the zoo was his ancestor. He then turned to Huxley and asked whether it was through his grandmother or grandfather that he claimed his descent from a monkey.

When it was Huxley's turn to speak, he ended his speech with "lastly, as to the descent from a monkey, I should feel it no shame to have risen from such an origin. But I should feel it a shame to have sprung from one who prostituted the gifts of culture and of eloquence to the service of prejudice and of falsehood."


The second book is "Jack the Ripper in London" by Richard Jones with photographs by Sean East. Jones is the owner of the "Discovery Walks" London tour company. Sean East is a retired UK Metropolitan police officer, now a professional photographer.

This book does not attempt to guess the identity of Jack the Ripper. It's a straight forward account of what living conditions in East End London were like in 1888 and the 5 murders (or more) that occurred between August 31 and November 9, 1888.

You can get the details of the Jack the Ripper case straight from the horse mouth here at the Metropolitan Police Service history site.

Leaf Color Diary - Mt. Baker, Saranac Lake, NY

I think I will publish a photo of Mt. Baker every few days to follow the leaf color changes. These pictures will be taken from my computer room window. When I left for Wash. DC last Monday there was barely a hint of color.

Mt. Baker, 11 AM, Sept. 6

Torture Boy Tom Tancredo

Here is what Tom believes: "Yes, I would certainly waterboard," he says. "I don't believe that that is, quote, torture."

He doesn't believe waterboarding is torture. I'd have a lot more respect for guys like Tancredo if they just came out and said they were in favor of torture. Maybe Mr. Tancredo should be required to undergo a course of waterboarding to get a real evidence-based personal opinion on whether waterboarding is torture or not.

In fact, I suggest that we get a panel of neoconservatives, Republicans, and theocrats, that believe various techniques are not torture and require them to undergo the "not torture" treatments. Then when they say a certain technique is not torture it will be more believable.

L. Paul Bremer - I Didn't Do It

In todays New York Times L. Paul Bremer explains how he didn't disband the Iraqi Army....but it was the right decisions.

General Pace says the Joint Chiefs were not consulted.

G.W. Bush can't recall why his administration disbanded the Iraqi army.

Can we find a single person in the Bush administration that will accept accountability or responsibility for their actions?

Luciano Pavarotti Dead at 71

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Healthcare in America

Marc Cooper is in the hospital for 20 hrs for some cardiac procedures. The total bill was $116,749. That is what he would have paid had he not been insured. But he was insured and the hospital accepted $4,730 from the insurance company as payment in full.

Just what kind of a country are we living in?

Another Mile Post

The 15,000th visitor (141.149.26.#)is currently checking out this blog (10:55 PM). Thanks.

Oh No!

Nuclear Bombs Over America

Does it bother anyone else that some airforce commander has the authority to load up five nuclear-tipped advanced cruise missiles onto a B52 bomber and fly them across the continental United States?

UPDATE: Does this whole incident have something to do with Iran?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Washington, DC Yet Again

I'm in Washington, DC again for a couple of days. This time on a business trip (so no comment). Blogging will resume late Wed.

Monday, September 03, 2007

President Bush and Torture

President Bush saying "We do not torture" is like Bill Clinton saying "I did not have sexual relations with that woman....". It depends on how you define torture and sexual relations.

There is an extensive article reviewing the secret prisons and torture approved by the Bush administration in the New Yorker called "The Black Sites" by Jane Meyer.

Where is John McHugh (R-NY23)?

A letter in todays Press Republican asks a good question. Where are the public meetings with John McHugh?

Here are the first couple of paragraphs.

TO THE EDITOR: It was very interesting to read that Kristen Gillibrand is hosting a "town-hall meeting" in Lake Placid, inviting members of the public to share opinions and concerns on local issues.

Wow! What great representation our neighboring congressional district has. Does anyone remember Rep. McHugh ever having such a public meeting?

Mr. McHugh represents a huge area of the North Country, but unlike Rep. Gillibrand, he can't seem to find the time to meet with his constituents. Maybe he doesn't want to answer questions like "why are you consistently opposed to withdrawing troops from Iraq", "why are you opposed to stem cell research", "why are you opposed to a hate crimes bill" or "why are you opposed to increasing accessability of health care to our troops" (see here and here)? Mr. McHugh is in favor of protecting wild horses at least.

Here is one question that I would ask. Mr. are opposed to the right of women to seek an abortion. If abortion were to be made illegal....what criminal penalty should be set against the women who chose to abort her fetus?

You can find a whole list of John McHugh's political stances at McHugh Watch (a Bob Johnson production). It's more than likely that Mr. McHugh only has one reason for the way he casts his votes. He is a strong supporter of G.W. Bush, arguably the worse President in history.

Mr. McHugh cannot hide his record. Maybe you can even argue that his constituents support most of his votes. But I doubt it. The only way we can be sure that Mr. McHugh is actually representing his constituents is by meeting face-to-face with them in public meetings.

How about visiting Saranac Lake, NY and defending your record Mr. McHugh?