Saturday, December 31, 2005

R.I.P. 2005

Arthur Miller Posted by Picasa

August Wilson Posted by Picasa

Scott Peck Posted by Picasa

Rosa Parks Posted by Picasa

Senator Eugene McCarthy Posted by Picasa

James Doohan Posted by Picasa

Richard Pryor Posted by Picasa

Michael Piller Posted by Picasa

John Spencer Posted by Picasa

Ossie Davis Posted by Picasa

Geraldine Fitzgerald Posted by Picasa

Johnny Carson Posted by Picasa

Peter Drucker Posted by Picasa

Robert Wise Posted by Picasa

Robert Creeley Posted by Picasa

Peter Jennings Posted by Picasa

Paul Winchell Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 30, 2005

Rufous hummingbird. The third likely candidate
for our backyard. Almost identical to the
Allen's. Looks like the one I watched yesterday. Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Poetry is indispensible---if I only knew what for."

Jean Cocteau
Stormy Weather

The latest tropical storm to form in recorded history is now in the Atlantic, dubbed Zeta. Good thing the year is ending, they've even run out of Greek letters. What's next? Perhaps they can sell the naming rights, like they do for stadiums and everything else. Might have problems finding sponsors, though.

The storms that are hitting us one after the other on the West Coast are officially nameless, though people here are calling them all sorts of names. At the moment, here on the far northern California coast, we're about twelve hours into the latest storm, though it's difficult to say exactly when the last one ended and this one started. And separating this one from the next one, due early Sunday, will probably be even harder.

We get very little in the way of thunderstorms here, although there were some significant rumbles a few days ago. But last night the wind sounded like continuous thunder.

These are the worst storms we've experienced here since the year we arrived, in 1996. Now as then they show us how fragile our connections with the rest of the world are, in this still isolated corner of the country. We have only one north-south highway, 101(four-lane in places but often two lane), and lesser roads through mountains connecting us with the real north-south highway 5. Right now highway 5 is closed in Oregon, and 101 north of us is closed just south of Crescent City, while 101 south is frequently closed at the aptly named Confusion Hill, which is our mainline to Santa Rosa, San Francisco, etc.

The road closings are usually due to mudslides, sometimes to fallen trees, and sometimes to flooding. Right now Humboldt County is officially in a state of emergency. Rivers are at a 7 year high, and the many creeks are the most proximate threat of flooding in most areas where people live. But the Klamath to the north is especially in danger of serious flooding.

Another feature of our isolation and relatively small population in a mostly rural and not so prosperous area is that local news is not so easy to come by. The web sites of the major local daily is down at the moment, and the site of the only local TV station with a functioning news department is way out of date. Another newspaper, about to go daily, is keeping its site pretty current. And thanks to the Clear Channelization of radio, few local radio stations have local reporting capability. Our closest public radio station is having trouble staying on the air, problems with its transmitting tower I gather.

So far only a few brief power failures. But I expect I'll be testing this laptop's battery capabilities before this is all over.
Two More Reasons Evolution is a Flawed Theory

Because if evolution were true, would the human race in 2005 really have leaders like these?

1.When asked by the Miami Herald whether he believes in Darwin's theory of evolution, Florida Governor Jeb Bush replied:

"Yeah, but I don't think it should actually be part of the curriculum, to be honest with you. And people have different points of view and they can be discussed at school, but it does not need to be in the curriculum.''

2. When asked by the Arizona Daily Star whether "intelligent design" should be taught with Darwinian evolution public schools, Senator John McCain replied:

"Let the student decide."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Monet: Impression Sunrise Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts."

Drawing the Tan Line Against Terrorism

Here's the latest on our government's war on terrorism from Reuters:

A Texas golf course, a Nevada tanning salon and an Illinois candy shop were among small businesses that may have improperly received U.S. subsidized loans intended for firms hurt by the September 11 attacks, an internal government watchdog has found.

Did terrorists secretly attack a tanning salon, and we weren't told about it? Is no one safe getting a few artificial rays? What is this country coming to when you can't tee up in peace? Attacking golf is attacking the heart attack of America!

Well, not that simple. It seems:

The tanning salon's lender blamed the September 11 attacks for hurting the Las Vegas casino industry which employed many of the salon's customers.

So do the watchdogs bark at the absurdity of compensating a tanning salon for 9-11? Not exactly. It's not the absurd and outrageous claim that bothers them. It's finding out that it wasn't even true.

However, the inspector general found the salon's business had grown by 52 percent in 2001 and 32 percent in 2002 and said there was no evidence the owner could not borrow outside of the program. The SBA guaranteed $437,000 in loans to the salon, which were used to expand.

As for the golf course:

The report's examples included the Texas golf course, whose owner was cited by a lender as saying "people were more interested in staying home and watching the attack on television than playing golf."

However, the course was owned by someone else when the attacks took place and the justification for the $480,000 in loan guarantees did not apply to the new owner, the report said.

This was all under a one-year, $4.5 billion program, the Supplemental Terrorist Activity Relief, or STAR, which provided loan guarantees to small businesses adversely affected by the September 11 attacks. Or who made such claims, however outrageous. For the agency's inspector general found that in 85 percent of the sample of loans it reviewed, a company's eligibility to receive the money through the program could not be verified.

The Small Business Administration still insists it acted properly, but added that it has told lenders it will not honor guarantees on defaulted loans that fail to document the September 11 link. Yeah, that would be too much.

Still, it's heartening to know that while sick people will be sacrificing their health for the cause as Medicaid and Medicare cuts go through, and students will sacrifice their education if they can't replace the federal loans that were cut, at least a Texas golf course is getting back the money lost when people selfishly watched their fellow Americans die and the Twin Towers come down, instead of doing their patriotic duty out on the fairway.

Captain Future's Log

The Biggest Story Never Told

Pundits and other dits are busily producing their lists of the best this and most important that of 2005. It seems likely that 2005 will be remembered, if anyone is around to do the remembering, as the year that the reality of the climate crisis became obvious, and both its speed and evolving dimensions began to horrify scientists and those few others who were paying attention. Certainly the strength of hurricane Katrina will be part of that story, and even more the evidence of civilized helplessness in dealing with its effects in a contemporary city.

But the story that haunts me at year’s end is a story that got almost no attention anywhere, and begs to be told more fully. That no news organization has seen fit to do so may simply emphasize the message it seems to send.

It happened in Texas in mid-December. According to reports posted on the websites of two local television stations---the only news stories that googling could find—the Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano, Texas, told the brother of Tirhas Habtegiris, a 27 year old woman from East Africa, that in 10 days they would take her off life support, and therefore she would die.

The woman in question had terminal cancer, but she was conscious. Her brother objected but it didn’t matter. Tirhas wanted to at least be kept alive long enough for her mother to come from East Africa to be with her when she died. But the legal process of getting her there would take longer than 10 days.

On the 11th day, the hospital disconnected her ventilator, and she died within the hour.

Her brother told reporters that he felt it would not have happened if she had health insurance. The hospital disputes this. There is apparently a law in Texas that allows such care to be withdrawn if the patient can’t pay. And there are also laws, called Futile Care laws, that mandate care be withdrawn in certain terminal cases.

If Tirhas Habtegiris was indeed fully conscious and taken off life support against her wishes because she could not pay, then it was an execution. She was given the death penalty for not being wealthy.

But is that what happened? What law was applied? What were her exact circumstances? We don’t really know. There were only two brief stories. It came to the attention of people outside Texas only because it was picked up by bloggers at Daily Kos and Booman’s Tribune, and then picked up by other blogs. Google her name and see for yourself.

Why were there only two brief stories? Is it because the facts of this case were other than those these TV stations reported? Is it because such events are so common that they are not newsworthy? Or doesn’t anyone care---in Texas, or anywhere else?

To me, that this story has not been fully reported has more significance than any story that was reported in 2005.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Lagoon Nebula Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"All that I've learned, I've forgotten. The little that I still know, I've guessed."


Sunday, December 25, 2005

What I Got For Christmas...

(not this year, of course...)

Davy Crockett socks. Bonus was the
cardboard backing to a set of them,
which had the words to ALL the
verses of The Ballad of Davy Crockett. Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

Captain Midnight Secret Squadron patch  Posted by Picasa

There's a photo somewhere of me wearing these, in front
of a Christmas tree. I was maybe five. Posted by Picasa

Once when I was sick, my father
brought me comic books he got
half price. Several were Captain
Marvel. I was marvelized.
And sad to discover that the comics
were so old, they'd been
discontinued years before. Posted by Picasa