Friday, July 29, 2005

Friday text-only cat-blogging

A while back I posted a tip about using silica crystal litter in the perimeter of your litter box to extend the life and reduce the ammonia smell that comes of wet litter.

Forget it.

I have discovered the most amazing product at Wal-Mart. It is called "Feline Pine" and is the best cat litter in the universe. It lasts five times as long as anything I've tried, and smells like wood shop instead of perfumed cat pee.

I have no ownership or relationship to the company and simply provide an endorsement based on my personal experience with the product.

I can say it in two words:


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

another activist judge

My nominee for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after Rehnquist retires:

U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour, who made a statement during Wednesday's sentencing hearing for Ahmed Ressam, the man detected a few years ago by an alert Border Patrol guard while trying to enter the United States from the Canadian border with the plan of bombing LAX airport.

I'll simply let Judge Coughenour speak for himself.

"Let me say a few things. First of all, it will come as no surprise to anybody that this sentencing is one that I have struggled with a great deal, more than any other sentencing that I've had in the 24 years I've been on the bench.

I've done my very best to arrive at a period of confinement that appropriately recognizes the severity of the intended offense, but also recognizes the practicalities of the parties' positions before trial and the cooperation of Mr. Ressam, even though it did terminate prematurely.

The message I would hope to convey in today's sentencing is twofold:

First, that we have the resolve in this country to deal with the subject of terrorism and people who engage in it should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in confinement.

Secondly, though, I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.

I would suggest that the message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.

Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.

Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel.

The tragedy of September 11th shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism.

Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won.

It is my sworn duty, and as long as there is breath in my body I'll perform it, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We will be in recess."

It would appear that there are at least a few people in government who still understand what made this country great to begin with, and what we must preserve to ensure that it remains a great nation. Thank you for restoring a little bit of my faith, Judge Coughenour. You are a true American patriot.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday text-only cat-blogging

THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

- Carl Sandburg

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

one small step and farewell

Thirty-six years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first two humans to set foot on another world.

This morning, James "Scotty" Doohan passed away at his home in Washington state.

"Second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday text-only cat-blogging

Here's a tip for you indoor-cat owners. I have two busy litterboxes, and changing and cleaning litter has long been a real time-consuming part of the joy of being a servant to my feline masters. One day, I saw one in the litterbox, and it occurred to me that there was an interesting pattern that I had never consciously noticed. When cats pee, they tend to plant their rear ends close to the side of the litterbox, which leads to the litter at the bottom and around the perimeter of the box getting wet faster than the rest of the box, and not being disturbed by digging as much as the inner portion, meaning it just stays soggy and is hard to clean out of the box and also more conducive to ammonia smells. I now pour my usual clay litter into the box when I change it, but I put a small layer (about 2-3 pounds) of the blue crystal litter around the top of the clay at the top of the box, basically a line about two inches wide and an inch or so deep around the perimeter of the litter box. I now only have to change litterboxes twice a week, and it has significantly reduced the effort to keep the house smelling uncatty. Now, if you will excuse me, the Masters need food and clean water.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

oh, goodness no!

A lot of people are beating up on poor prezdint Dark W. Helmet, saying that he promised he would fire anyone who was responsible for leaking the identity of a covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame, in order to discredit her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for daring to denounce the propaganda that the administration was dispersing to drum up support for the Iraq "liberation."

Unfortunately, the primary quote being bandied about was little w. saying clearly that the person responsible, if discovered, would be "taken care of."

"Taken care of." That sounds really harsh, doesn't it?

Monday, July 11, 2005

I've been meaning to ask...

The longer our tragic national escapade in the Middle East continues, the more frequently I stumble upon one inescapable question.

Now, I'm not going to take pages of dissective analysis to explain why I keep thinking of this question, and if you're familiar with the subject of the question you'll understand why I continue wondering about it. Conversely, if you're not familiar with the topic of the question, you should become familiar with it as soon as possible, for a multitude of reasons.

This is the question:

Hasn't anyone in this administration read "Dune" by Frank Herbert?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Friday text-only cat-blogging

Got Taz fixed today - funny how they say it that way, isn't it? Is it that one is broken as a result of possessing testicles? Taz. I know, not a creative name, but you had to see him as a baby. The boy had a head the size of a softball, he's covered with spiky gray hair and never seems to have really grasped the whole concept of "grooming."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

very clever, Mr. Bond

Roskosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, has accepted American businessman Gregory Olsen to become the third civilian passenger to ride in space, scheduling him for an October launch to visit the International Space Station. Mr. Olsen's shuns the label of "tourist" for his excursion, explaining that he will be doing extensive research and experimentation on the effects of the free-fall "weightless" environment on the growth of crystals during his stay.

Does that mean that he will be able to write off the entire twenty million or so dollars that one of these journeys costs as a business expense? If so, good move, Gregory! Have a safe trip, and may civilians travelling in space become as ordinary as civilians travelling in automobiles.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

double your pleasure!

Wrigley has announced that they hold a patent for Viagra chewing gum.

Needless to say, it goes in hard and dry and comes out soft and wet.

Thanks, try the veal. I'll be here all week!

well, of course

Karl Rove, speaking at a luncheon with reporters and dscussing the search for the new Justice of the Supreme Court that will replace Sandra Day O'Connor, explained that his puppet, er, uh, boss, little Dark W. Helmet, doesn't listen to criticism that comes from members of his own party. We already know that he doesn't listen to criticism from people outside of his political party, so it seems to me that what the pudgy little sociopath Rove is saying is that the ONLY people that the president of the United States of America listens to are people who agree with him.

That should certainly lead to a successful administration, huh?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

why they hate us



Manufactured Outrage
Nationalistic Hubris


Look closely. No "for our freedom" there. No "for our way of life" there. Until our country eradicates these mental disorders and the people who tout them as correct behavior, we will never be free again, and the "American way of life" will become spying on our neighbors and living in continuous fear.

Happy 229th, everyone.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


I haven't read this since high school. I don't think I understood it until today. There's much at stake. Stay strong.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. --And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

--John Hancock
New Hampshire:Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts:John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut:Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York:William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey:Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania:Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware:Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland:Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina:William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina:Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia:Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Saturday, July 02, 2005

my country, 'tis of thee

I don't quote others very often, but this post from Riverbend blog is too powerful to not spread around. I'd sure like to be proud of my country again.

Happy Independence Day.

“Not only can they not find WMD in Iraq,” I commented to E. as we listened to the Bush speech, “But they have disappeared from his speeches too!” I was listening to the voiceover on Arabiya, translating his speech to Arabic. He was recycling bits and pieces of various speeches he used over two years.E., a younger cousin, and I were sitting around in the living room, sprawled on the relatively cool tiled floor.

The electricity had been out for 3 hours and we couldn’t turn on the air conditioner with the generator electricity we were getting. E. and I had made a bet earlier about what the theme of tonight’s speech would be. E. guessed Bush would dig up the tired, old WMD theme from somewhere under the debris of idiocy and lies coming out of the White House. I told him he’d dredge up 9/11 yet again… tens of thousands of lives later, we would have to bear the burden of 9/11… again.

I won the bet. The theme was, naturally, terrorism- the only mention of ‘weapon’ or ‘weapons’ was in reference to Libya. He actually used the word ‘terrorist’ in the speech 23 times.He was trying, throughout the speech, to paint a rosy picture of the situation. According to him, Iraq was flourishing under the occupation. In Bush’s Iraq, there is reconstruction, there is freedom (in spite of an occupation) and there is democracy.

“He’s describing a different country…” I commented to E. and the cousin.“Yes,” E. replied. “He’s talking about the *other* Iraq… the one with the WMD.”“So what’s the occasion? Why’s the idiot giving a speech anyway?” The cousin asked, staring at the ceiling fan clicking away above. I reminded him it was the year anniversary marking the mythical handover of power to Allawi’s Vichy government.“Oh- Allawi… Is he still alive?” Came the indolent reply from the cousin. “I’ve lost track… was he before Al Yawir or after Al Yawir? Was he Prime Minister or did they make him president at some point?”

9/11 and the dubious connection with Iraq came up within less than a minute of the beginning of the speech. The cousin wondered whether anyone in America still believed Iraq had anything to do with September 11.Bush said: “The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror. The war reached our shores on September 11, 2001. ”Do people really still believe this? In spite of that fact that no WMD were found in Iraq, in spite of the fact that prior to the war, no American was ever killed in Iraq and now almost 2000 are dead on Iraqi soil?

It’s difficult to comprehend that rational people, after all of this, still actually accept the claims of a link between 9/11 and Iraq. Or that they could actually believe Iraq is less of a threat today than it was in 2003.We did not have Al-Qaeda in Iraq prior to the war. We didn’t know that sort of extremism. We didn’t have beheadings or the abduction of foreigners or religious intolerance. We actually pitied America and Americans when the Twin Towers went down and when news began leaking out about it being Muslim fundamentalists- possibly Arabs- we were outraged.

Now 9/11 is getting old. Now, 100,000+ Iraqi lives and 1700+ American lives later, it’s becoming difficult to summon up the same sort of sympathy as before. How does the death of 3,000 Americans and the fall of two towers somehow justify the horrors in Iraq when not one of the people involved with the attack was Iraqi?Bush said:“Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. … The commander in charge of coalition operations in Iraq, who is also senior commander at this base, General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said, "We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us."

He speaks of ‘abroad’ as if it is a vague desert-land filled with heavily-bearded men and possibly camels. ‘Abroad’ in his speech seems to indicate a land of inferior people- less deserving of peace, prosperity and even life.Don’t Americans know that this vast wasteland of terror and terrorists otherwise known as ‘Abroad’ was home to the first civilizations and is home now to some of the most sophisticated, educated people in the region? Don’t Americans realize that ‘abroad’ is a country full of people- men, women and children who are dying hourly? ‘Abroad’ is home for millions of us. It’s the place we were raised and the place we hope to raise our children- your field of war and terror.

The war was brought to us here, and now we have to watch the country disintegrate before our very eyes. We watch as towns are bombed and gunned down and evacuated of their people. We watch as friends and loved ones are detained, or killed or pressured out of the country with fear and intimidation. Bush said :“We see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who exploded car bombs along a busy shopping street in Baghdad, including one outside a mosque. We see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who sent a suicide bomber to a teaching hospital in Mosul…”

Yes. And Bush is extremely concerned with the mosques. He might ask the occupation forces in Iraq to quit attacking mosques and detaining the worshipers inside- to stop raiding them and bombing them and using them as shelters for American snipers in places like Falluja and Samarra. And the terrorists who sent a suicide bomber to a teaching hospital in Mosul? Maybe they got their cue from the American troops who attacked the only functioning hospital in Falluja.

“We continued our efforts to help them rebuild their country. Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard and rebuilding while a country is at war is even harder."Three decades of tyranny isn’t what bombed and burned buildings to the ground. It isn’t three decades of tyranny that destroyed the infrastructure with such things as “Shock and Awe” and various other tactics. Though he fails to mention it, prior to the war, we didn’t have sewage overflowing in the streets like we do now, and water cut off for days and days at a time. We certainly had more than the 8 hours of electricity daily. In several areas they aren’t even getting that much.

“They are doing that by building the institutions of a free society, a society based on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and equal justice under law.”We’re so free, we often find ourselves prisoners of our homes, with roads cut off indefinitely and complete areas made inaccessible. We are so free to assemble that people now fear having gatherings because a large number of friends or family members may attract too much attention and provoke a raid by American or Iraqi forces.

As to Iraqi forces…There was too much to quote on the new Iraqi forces. He failed to mention that many of their members were formerly part of militias, and that many of them contributed to the looting and burning that swept over Iraq after the war and continued for weeks.“The new Iraqi security forces are proving their courage every day.” Indeed they are. The forte of the new Iraqi National Guard? Raids and mass detentions. They have been learning well from the coalition. They sweep into areas, kick down doors, steal money, valuables, harass the females in the household and detain the men. The Iraqi security forces are so effective that a few weeks ago, they managed to kill a high-ranking police major in Falluja when he ran a red light, shooting him in the head as his car drove away.

He kept babbling about a “free Iraq” but he mentioned nothing about when the American forces might actually depart and the occupation would end, leaving a “free Iraq”. Why aren’t the Americans setting a timetable for withdrawal? Iraqis are constantly wondering why nothing is being done to accelerate the end of the occupation.

Do the Americans continue to believe such speeches? I couldn’t help but wonder.“They’ll believe anything.” E. sighed. “No matter what sort of absurdity they are fed, they’ll believe it. Think up the most outrageous lie… They have people who’ll believe it.”The cousin sat up at this, his interest piqued. “The most outrageous lie? How about that Iraq was amassing aliens from Mareekh [Mars] and training them in the battle art of kung-fu to attack America in 2010!”“They’d believe it.” E. nodded in the affirmative. “Or that Iraq was developing a mutant breed of rabid, man-eating bunnies to unleash upon the Western world. They’d believe that too.”

Friday, July 01, 2005

that explains a lot

"America loves hot white jailbait ass." - television's "The Family Guy."

Friday text-only cat-blogging

Purdy is all right! I won one!