October 30, 2002

Lesson For Today: Children Make

Lesson For Today: Children Make Good Slave Labor - Common Dreams brings us the following story: For-Profit U.S. Schools Sell Off Their Textbooks which reveals the tribulations of one for-profit company which an area has given up its schools to. Hard times in the economy have resulted in some... economizing.

Days before classes were to begin in September, trucks arrived to take away most of the textbooks, computers, lab supplies and musical instruments the company had provided -- Edison had to sell them off for cash. Many students were left with decades-old books and no equipment.

And the best part, put the kids to work...

As a final humiliation, Chris Whittle, the company's charismatic chief executive and founder, recently told a meeting of school principals that he'd thought up an ingenious solution to the company's financial woes: Take advantage of the free supply of child labor, and force each student to work an hour a day, presumably without pay, in the school offices.


Posted by James at 4:07 PM

You Say It's Your Birthday...

You Say It's Your Birthday... - Today's My Birthday! I'm now 35 years old. I remember the party my friends gathered together for when I turned 30. It seems like it was yesterday.

Posted by James at 9:25 AM

October 29, 2002

Saddam's Inbox hacked! - Via

Saddam's Inbox hacked! - Via SlashDot: Wired News: Dear Saddam, How Can I Help?

Posted by James at 4:06 PM

Fruits of war - Ananova

Fruits of war -

Ananova - Iraq war 'will increase risk of terror attacks' A US-led war on Iraq would heighten the risk of further terrorist attacks by al-Qaida, according to a report.

The report by the Oxford Research Group warns the civilian death toll in Iraq would reach 10,000 from conventional warfare alone.

I suppose this research will fall on deaf ears, but it's been what many people have been saying all along. Kill 10,000 people and risk more terrorism for what?

Posted by James at 12:14 PM

Got Anti-Bush Sentiment? - If

Got Anti-Bush Sentiment? - If you need to quench your anti-Bush thirst, feat your eyes on the LinkCrusader's Anti-Bush Links. He's got everything there, from BuzzFlash to Smirking Chimp.

Posted by James at 8:21 AM | Comments (1)

October 28, 2002

- Spirited Away -

- Spirited Away - Took the kids to see Spirited Away this weekend. It's a film by Hayao Miyazaki, who also has directed a number of other popular anime such as Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro.

I saw Princess Mononoke when it was released to rental stores and I didn't quite connect with it. It didn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense to me. However, I really enjoyed Spirited Away, and so did my daughters. It's got a great plot which reminded me of The Wizard of Oz just a little bit, in that this young girl becomes lost and must get back to the world she knows. However, getting back is not all she has to do; she also has to save her parents from being permanently transformed into pigs and perhaps eaten.
This is a film full of imaginative characters and a persistent, brave female main character. It's no wonder it made quite an impression on my younger daughter.
I recommend the film for peope of all ages. It may be a little frightening for younger children, but Mattie is 4 and handled it fine.

Posted by James at 2:05 PM

October 23, 2002

- Blog DIY -

- Blog DIY - I've written a review of the new O'Reilly book "Essential Blogging." Check the review out if you're interested in starting your own blog. It's a great book for absolute beginners.
And if any of my friends start a blog, please let me know so I can add you to my blogroll.

Posted by James at 2:02 PM

Posted by James at 10:37 AM

October 22, 2002

- Before you die,

- Before you die, you see the Ring - Yeah, I went to see the Ring, that new horror movie. I saw it on Saturday at a midnight show. I thought it was very creepy and definitely worth the admission price if you like weird horror films with a touch of mystery.

The film involves an urban legend regarding a videotape which, once it has been viewed, somehow kills the viewer seven days later. Is the legend true? What's going on?

You can view the actual videotape footage (which doesn't actually make much sense) at IFILM where it is called An Open Letter. I think the name of the movie changed, and perhaps that was the original title. In any case, I recommend you see the movie, then go to iFilm some night when you are at home alone and re-watch the notorious video footage. I dare you not to get a little creeped out, thinking you might hear the phone ring... (But see the movie first for maximum effect.)

Posted by James at 11:17 PM

October 21, 2002

Charles Schultz Philosophy -

Charles Schultz Philosophy - Someone sent me the following text, attributed to the "Peanuts" creator. It can be found many places on the net (just search Google and see) but I reproduce it here for the heck of it:

You don't actually have to take the quiz. Just read the QUIZ  straight through, and you'll get the point (an awesome one) that it is trying to make!

Take this quiz:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers.
They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten.

Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.


The lesson:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards.

They are the ones that care.

Pass this on to those people who have made a difference in your life.

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.

It's already tomorrow in Australia."

Posted by James at 1:12 PM

October 15, 2002

Wallace and Gromit Are Back!

Wallace and Gromit Are Back! - The story is on BBC news: Wallace and Gromit film premières. There will be 10 shorts appearing on the web in advance of a new W&G movie. Excellent news for fans!

Posted by James at 7:33 PM

My Peace Pumpkin -

My Peace Pumpkin - Here's the pumpkin I've got hanging out in front of my house now. It's a little bit hippy, but I liked it better than the stark "NO WAR" stencil. I think it gets the message across fine. (Click the image for the full picture)

We may be heading off full steam to war, but I don't have to like it.

If you've been feeling like all our questions haven't been answered or that the country is being steamrolled, this is a pretty easy way to make a statement regarding what sort of activity you think the Bush administration should be engaging in.

Posted by James at 7:26 AM

I've been duped! - That

I've been duped! - That prostitute story is an urban legend. I should ahve known, but I was blinded by the BBC. Can't you trust any news source anymore? Dammit!

Link: Urban Legends Reference Pages: College (Close Relations)

Posted by James at 7:22 AM

October 11, 2002

Worse Than Getting The Wrong

Worse Than Getting The Wrong Pizza Delivered - When you call out for a prostitute, it's best to make sure your daughter isn't "on the menu." Sheesh. Read: BBC - Father's surprise: call-girl daughter

Posted by James at 11:44 AM

Mysterious Guantanamo Disappearance - Two

Mysterious Guantanamo Disappearance - Two weeks ago, Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Foraker put on his civvies, grabbed a flashlight and disappeared into the night.
The only trace of him found was his T-shirt, wallet and civilian shorts. Where did he go? Did this man, reported to be afraid of heights and none to fond of ocean waves, climb down a cliff to take a swim in the shark infested waters of the Carribean? It's definitely a puzzler. Read: Guantanamo Prison Guard Vanishes.

Posted by James at 12:47 AM

October 10, 2002

Say something with your pumpkin

Say something with your pumpkin - The Peace Pumpkin Project is urging people to carve the words NO WAR. in their pumpkin and put it out for display. I think a nice alternative would be to use the peace symbol.

Posted by James at 1:25 PM

October 8, 2002

Toilets of Japan - Talking

Toilets of Japan - Talking toilets? Water and air jet toilets? Toilets that guard your health and report your vital statistics to a central location? It's all in the cards, and some of it is already in place. This story is a must read: Japanese Masters Get Closer to the Toilet Nirvana

This quote is especially funny:

Toilet jet sprays, which sometimes confuse foreign visitors with disastrous results, are now in nearly half of Japanese homes, a rate higher than that of personal computers.

To some, this is a sign of a nation gone perilously soft. They worry that the cosseted Japanese youths of the future, sitting dreamily on air conditioned thrones, will be no match for their squat-toilet neighbors — the worker bees of industrial China or the spartan soldiers of North Korea.

Posted by James at 5:36 PM

On Preventive War - I

On Preventive War - I thought the following statement, made by our senator on the subject of preventive war was worth posting in its entirety.

October 7, 2002


We face no more serious decision in our democracy than whether
or not to go to war. The American people deserve to fully understand
all of the implications of such a decision.

The question of whether our nation should attack Iraq is playing
out in the context of a more fundamental debate that is only just
beginning -- an all-important debate about how, when and where in the
years ahead our country will use its unsurpassed military might.

On September 20, the Administration unveiled its new National
Security Strategy. This document addresses the new realities of our
age, particularly the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and
terrorist networks armed with the agendas of fanatics. The Strategy
claims that these new threats are so novel and so dangerous that we
should "not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right
of self-defense by acting pre-emptively."

But in the discussion over the past few months about Iraq, the
Administration, often uses the terms "pre-emptive" and "preventive"
interchangeably. In the realm of international relations, these two
terms have long had very different meanings.

Traditionally, "pre-emptive" action refers to times when states
react to an imminent threat of attack. For example, when Egyptian and
Syrian forces mobilized on Israel's borders in 1967, the threat was
obvious and immediate, and Israel felt justified in pre-emptively
attacking those forces. The global community is generally tolerant of
such actions, since no nation should have to suffer a certain first
strike before it has the legitimacy to respond.

By contrast, "preventive" military action refers to strikes
that target a country before it has developed a capability that could
someday become threatening. Preventive attacks have generally been
condemned. For example, the 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was
regarded as a preventive strike by Japan, because the Japanese were
seeking to block a planned military buildup by the United States in
the Pacific.

The coldly premeditated nature of preventive attacks and
preventive wars makes them anathema to well-established international
principles against aggression. Pearl Harbor has been rightfully
recorded in history as an act of dishonorable treachery.

Historically, the United States has condemned the idea of
preventive war, because it violates basic international rules against
aggression. But at times in our history, preventive war has been
seriously advocated as a policy option.

In the early days of the Cold War, some U.S. military and
civilian experts advocated a preventive war against the Soviet Union.
They proposed a devastating first strike to prevent the Soviet Union
from developing a threatening nuclear capability. At the time, they
said the uniquely destructive power of nuclear weapons required us to
rethink traditional international rules.

The first round of that debate ended in 1950, when President
Truman ruled out a preventive strike, stating that such actions were
not consistent with our American tradition. He said, "You don't
'prevent' anything by war...except peace." Instead of a surprise
first strike, the nation dedicated itself to the strategy of
deterrence and containment, which successfully kept the peace during
the long and frequently difficult years of the Cold War.

Arguments for preventive war resurfaced again when the
Eisenhower Administration took power in 1953, but President Eisenhower
and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles soon decided firmly against
it. President Eisenhower emphasized that even if we were to win such
a war, we would face the vast burdens of occupation and reconstruction
that would come with it.

The argument that the United States should take preventive
military action, in the absence of an imminent attack, resurfaced in
1962, when we learned that the Soviet Union would soon have the
ability to launch missiles from Cuba against our country. Many
military officers urged President Kennedy to approve a preventive
attack to destroy this capability before it became operational.
Robert Kennedy, like Harry Truman, felt that this kind of first strike
was not consistent with American values. He said that a proposed
surprise first strike against Cuba would be a "Pearl Harbor in
reverse. "For 175 years," he said, "we have not been that kind of
country." That view prevailed. A middle ground was found and peace
was preserved.

Yet another round of debate followed the Cuban Missile Crisis
when American strategists and voices in and out of the Administration
advocated preventive war against China to forestall its acquisition of
nuclear weapons. Many arguments heard today about Iraq were made then
about the Chinese communist government: that its leadership was
irrational and that it was therefore undeterrable. And once again,
those arguments were rejected.

As these earlier cases show, American strategic thinkers have
long debated the relative merits of preventive and pre-emptive war.
Although nobody would deny our right to pre-emptively block an
imminent attack on our territory, there is disagreement about our
right to preventively engage in war.

In each of these cases a way was found to deter other nations,
without waging war.

Now, the Bush Administration says we must take pre-emptive
action against Iraq. But what the Administration is really calling
for is preventive war, which flies in the face of international rules
of acceptable behavior. The Administration's new National Security
Strategy states "As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America
will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed."

The circumstances of today's world require us to rethink this
concept. The world changed on September 11th, and all of us have
learned that it can be a drastically more dangerous place. The Bush
Administration's new National Security Strategy asserts that global
realities now legitimize preventive war and make it a strategic

The document openly contemplates preventive attacks against
groups or states, even absent the threat of imminent attack. It
legitimizes this kind of first strike option, and it elevates it to
the status of a core security doctrine. Disregarding norms of
international behavior, the Bush Strategy asserts that the United
States should be exempt from the rules we expect other nations to

I strongly oppose any such extreme doctrine and I'm sure that
many others do as well. Earlier generations of Americans rejected
preventive war on the grounds of both morality and practicality, and
our generation must do so as well. We can deal with Iraq without
resorting to this extreme.

It is impossible to justify any such double standard under
international law. Might does not make right. America cannot write
its own rules for the modern world. To attempt to do so would be
unilateralism run amok. It would antagonize our closest allies, whose
support we need to fight terrorism, prevent global warming, and deal
with many other dangers that affect all nations and require
international cooperation. It would deprive America of the moral
legitimacy necessary to promote our values abroad. And it would give
other nations -- from Russia to India to Pakistan -- an excuse to
violate fundamental principles of civilized international behavior.

The Administration's doctrine is a call for 21st century
American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept. It is
the antithesis of all that America has worked so hard to achieve in
international relations since the end of World War II.

This is not just an academic debate. There are important real
world consequences. A shift in our policy toward preventive war would
reinforce the perception of America as a "bully" in the Middle East,
and would fuel anti-American sentiment throughout the Islamic world
and beyond.

It would also send a signal to governments the world over that
the rules of aggression have changed for them too, which could
increase the risk of conflict between countries such as Russia and
Georgia, India and Pakistan, and China and Taiwan.

Obviously, this debate is only just beginning on the
Administration's new strategy for national security. But the debate
is solidly grounded in American values and history.

It will also be a debate among vast numbers of well-meaning
Americans who have honest differences of opinion about the best way to
use U.S. military might. The debate will be contentious, but the
stakes - in terms of both our national security and our allegiance to
our core beliefs - are too high to ignore. I look forward to working
closely with my colleagues in Congress to develop an effective and
principled policy that will enable us to protect our national security
and respect the basic principles that are essential for the world to
be at peace.

Posted by James at 11:34 AM

October 4, 2002

Blue Man Running - For

Blue Man Running - For office, that is. Stan Jones, a Montana business consultant is running for a senate seat and, oh yeah, he's turned his skin blue permanently by ingesting a quack antibacterial remedy in 1999 for fear of Y2K problems. WOW.

Posted by James at 11:34 AM