Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Princess Cinderelli Grace

Princess Cinderelli Grace, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

with Dub and Marley, too. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

watts4u2 U2 in Charlotte

Behind the stage and up high, but still worth it. Vertigo Tour? Check!

Jesse Helms Loves Bono

Bono stayed at the conservative patriarch's right hand, doing what he could to help. For the photographers, it would have been hard to imagine a stranger image than this delicate dance between the aging senator and the rock superstar.

"You know, I love you," Helms said softly.

The singer gave the 79-year-old Helms a hug. This private session with a circle of senators during U2's recent Washington stop wasn't the first time Bono and Helms have discussed poverty, plagues, charity and faith. Nor will it be the last. Blest be the ties that bind.

"What can I say? It's good to be loved -- especially by Jesse Helms," Bono said two days later, as his campaign for Third World debt relief continued on Capitol Hill.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bono Gates TIME Cover

My mother-in-law scooped me on this story!

What must Steve Jobs think of this?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bono dines with Jesse Helms

"Because of a delay that reportedly resulted from a... meeting between Bono and Billy Graham, U2 didn't show up until around 6:30, making Bono unfashionably late for a meeting with Jesse Helms, who had arrived earlier and waited inside the stadium.

Still, Bono and Edge got out and did a quick round of handshakes for the few fans that had stuck it out this long."

TKC & I were there, too. I'll post some aerial photos later...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Grace & Boo

Grace & Boo, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

I dug this one from the vault....taken over Thanksgiving last year.
Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Watts Dome

If you need a place to play some outdoor basketball, come see me!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jasmine Story

Click on "Jasmine Story" to hear AGC's first "podcast". I figured she was more up to the task than myself, and she proved me right with a two minute story about Jasmine's tiger. Enjoy!

Pat Robertson: another quote

God's Pat Problem:

"'I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God."...
"If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin," the television personality declared. "Maybe he can help them."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Condemn Torture

I can say with certainty that I am looking forward to a new administration... this group has proven itself to be incompetent (and worse) again and again, without apology. They seem to be trying to turn us into the monster so we can defeat a monster. Where is the hope and the faith and the love? ("...and the Cartoon Network turns into the News")
OK, let's get this straight....the conservative party of the most religious Christians in America approve of an unconstitutional, illegal invasion of a country halfway around the world for dubious reasons that turn out to be patently false, and they still defend the invasion as "the right thing to do".
Subsequent torture is brushed aside ("a few bad apples", "like fraternity initiation"), and White House officials, including the Vice President, lobby Congress to allow the CIA to torture prisoners held in secret captivity on foreign soil (as to avoid US laws). Let's step back for a second....this is America? The United States of America?
I didn't see torture as a part of the "shining city on a hill" that Reagan told us about. But this administration keeps weaseling around the torture issue, when it should be condemning it righteously....I mean these are conservative Christians after all, right? Seems to me that torture condemnation would be an easy issue to take a side on, seeing as how every other administration in US history has steadfastly stood against it. But not these guys....I can hear them now: "Hey, Cold War's over....we don't need to impress other countries with our free society and modern views on justice and torture. Geneva Convention? Doesn't apply to US. Playtime's over world, we're the boss now and if you f*** with us, we'll put you in a secret prison and torture your a**. Now, yer wid us or a'gin us, wassitgonnabe?"
This is our foreign policy.
If it's the oil, just tell us it's the oil and ....take it! Just be honest about it and get the job done. If it's not the oil, well, then, what are we doing? How does any of this help our interests? Do
we expect to kill every potential terrorist in the Middle East? How many would be enough? And how many American soldiers' lives are we willing to give up to do this?
I'm all about protecting the US from terrorists, I just don't believe that the war in Iraq has helped in this regard... if anything, it's made things worse. It''s been a giant misallocation of resources, sewing seeds that will haunt us down the road.
But it's easy to criticize....what's the solution? Well, I have a plan. Well, I have a first step I'd like to introduce anyway: Condemn Torture (for crying out loud!)

Sunjay & Bono

Lucky fan! Got to get on stage and play "Angel of Harlem":

"'Once we started, I felt so much encouragement from the band. They were all smiling. I looked at each one of them. I had Bono on my left. He's smiling, singing the first words to the song. I turned to my right and Edge, who's one of my inspirations, is sitting there smiling and playing with me. Adam Clayton is jamming with his bass, and Larry Mullen is having a great time. So I just felt this encouragement from the band, and that really allowed me to ease up and I really didn't feel frightened after that.'

Sunjay says that Bono noticed him singing the words as he was playing and motioned for him to come up and share the mike with him during the next chorus. What followed was a scene many rock fans had seen from the greats: Paul and John, Mick and Keith. And now Bono and Sunjay.

'It almost seemed natural in the beginning. And once I finished it really hit me,' Sunjay said. 'And that's when I got on my knees and was doing the we're-not-worthy bow. Because, I'm not worthy. Let's get real here. I am not worthy of that.'

As the song came to a close, following Sunjay's solo singing turn on the last chorus no less, there was just one last part of the mission to complete: Snag Bono's signature wrap-around shades to fulfill a promise he had made to his brother.

So after receiving a congratulatory hug from the singer, Sunjay asked him if he'd make the trade, which the singer obliged. Sunjay walked off with Bono's rose-tinted Armanis; Bono donned Sunjay's Eckerd sunglasses.

A perfect end to a perfect night. And a dream come true.'"

Some guys have all the luck! Sunjay, I salute you!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bridge Open

carshadowweb, originally uploaded by Watts Carr.

The Porter's Neck area has a new bridge on Hwy 17 for the future I-140 Bypass. I took the bottom photo a while back when it was under construction.

Poverty Champion(s)

"These folks need a champion--and not just me. They need you. You can make ending poverty... the cause of your generation. It's the right thing to do. This is not about charity--it's about justice!"

Sounds like Bono

"I never thought I'd see this many kids coming to listen to a speech about poverty,"

Sounds like someone talking about Bono

"He's raised poverty to a presidential-level conversation for the first time in forty years,...You've got to give him credit for that. And given the shallowness of his experience... the way he vaulted right over the lower rungs of the ladder--it's an amazing story."

Sounds like Bono again, right? Not this time. This time we're talking about an American: John Edwards. And I like what Edwards has to say here:

Lesson One: Stop thinking small. "I think in our effort to be elected, we've become minimalists, tinkering around the edges--Our tax cut is better than yours, or, We'll give you smaller class sizes," he says. "That's not what the country wants. We've got to give the American people something big and important to be unified by. Republicans use big things to divide America. I think we can use big things to unite America."

Sound familiar?

Bono from T.S. Eliot

"When good does evil to fight evil, it becomes -- in T.S. Eliot's words -- indistinguishable from the evil it is fighting. War blurs the lines between good and evil so they are hard to recognize and traps those who launch them in Big Muddies of self-destruction."

or as Bono wrote in 2000:
"And you become a monster, so the monster will not break you"....

and continues "but it's already gone too far, who says that if you go in hard, you won't get hurt? Jesus can you take the time, to throw a drowning man a line, Peace on Earth"

Despite rhyming "hurt" with "Earth", it's still a monster couplet from an album, "All That You Can't Leave Behind", that still resonates. (link is to a far left article, but the quote was interesting to me)

Update: "he who fights monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. When staring deep into the abyss,the abyss stares deep into you" Friedrich Nietszche

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"Age of Inundation"

Linguistics students take note, "pop" quotes sell the sizzel:

"The use of 'slam dunk' by George Tenet was interesting.

A lot of people knew that George Tenet, the former CIA director, said that finding WMD would be a 'slam dunk.' The build-up as to how he came to say that is even more intriguing, though. This all comes from Bob Woodward's book, Plan of Attack. George Tenet's deputy made a detailed presentation in the Oval Office with George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and chief of staff, Andrew Card. He convinced them that they could convince the American public that there were indeed WMD in Iraq and that they would find them. Apparently -- it's not entirely clear from the book -- the CIA wasn't trying to prove to Bush and company that there were WMDs, but that they could make a case to the American public that there were.

It was a marketing meeting.

It was totally a marketing meeting. And in fact, Bob Woodard says in his book, it was a 'flop marketing-wise.' It was detailed, it had satellite photos of trucks moving around, numbers, projections, little bits of conversation, but nothing that was very persuasive. And then George Bush himself, according to Woodward, said, 'Is this the best you've got? I don't think that this is something that Joe Public would understand.' And then George Tenet, who had been quiet up until that point, jumped up off the couch, made his arms and hands go into sort of a dunking-the-basketball gesture (he's a big basketball fan) and said 'Don't worry, it's a slam-dunk case.' Bush said, 'Are you sure about that?' And Tenet said, 'Definitely, it's a slam dunk.'

According to Woodward, Bush later told him that if it had just listened to the deputy's presentation, it wouldn't have sold anybody on the idea. But once George Tenet said that, they definitely felt better about it. And the people in that room, their mood shifted from doubt to confidence. In a way, George Tenet was speaking in terms that Joe President would understand. [laughing]"

Bush's critics should note that Bush asks Tenet twice, directly, about WMD, and he's told "slam dunk". Still, that just covers his ass, and doesn't make things right, but you can't blame George W! He asked twice!

Victory Strategy

"It does a grave disservice to our men and women in uniform to command them to risk their lives, day in and day out, in service of a plan that amounts to "keep hope alive."

If the administration has a strategy for going forward, it needs to convey to the American people—with numbers and measurable goals—how to define victory, and what we intend to change to help us get there. It needs to show that there is a plan, and that we are not simply engaged in a slow bleed, with little hope of success.

Based on the administration's public statements, they have no realistic plan for victory in Iraq. And without a victory strategy, there is only one alternative: an exit strategy. It is past time we develop one."

What's the

Friday, November 11, 2005

Snow White Eats Apple

snowwhiteweb3, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

Among the most gullible of fictional characters, I'm always amazed when Snow White takes the poisioned apple through the window after the dwarfs warn her to be careful. And the comb, for cryin' out loud! But I digress, here's a picture of the fair-skinned maiden that stuns mirrors with her beauty. (This picture is from Halloween, duh!)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Watts Playin' Now

Led Zep, Cream, James Gang, Smoke & Fire...some of my old favorites. Did I menion I quit smoking 11 days ago? I'm trying not to think about it too much....
That explains the Reagan picture with the smoke below. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

@U2 Contest Loser

Well, my "Vertigo" video didn't win, heck, I didn't even get a mention. The link to the winning video is having problems, But you can still see my video (with many shots by and of AGC), just click on the picture:

Progress at light speed |

Progress at light speed |

"That humans will alter their bodies, or commune with artificial intelligence, won't seem so strange when we get there, Kurzweil says. 'We're not going to make this grand leap into the world I describe,' he says. 'It's going to be one small incremental step at a time - thousands of little steps, each one of which is benign, small, modest, conservative, and market-tested. But you get thousands of these coming at increasing speed, and you get some profound changes.'

One such change will be a profoundly different attitude toward the human body as our identity. 'Ultimately, the nature of our identity is going to change,' he says. 'When you get a new computer, you don't throw all of the files away. The software has a longevity that transcends the hardware.... The hardware can die, but the software lives on.'"

Sounds like a Celine Dion song... and reminds me of the "Lawnmower Man" movie. Hear that phone ringing?

You're no Ronald Reagan

A (True) Conservative Case for Exiting Iraq (from an October 7 speech delivered on the House floor by Representative Ron Paul, a maverick Republican from Texas):

"In truth, our determined presence in Iraq actually increases the odds of regional chaos, inciting Iran and Syria while aiding Osama bin Laden in his recruiting efforts. Leaving Iraq would do the opposite-- though not without some dangers that rightfully should be blamed on our unwise invasion rather than our exit. Many experts believe bin Laden welcomed our invasion and occupation of two Muslim countries. It bolsters his claim that the U.S. intended to occupy and control the Middle East all along. This has galvanized radical Muslim fundamentalists against us. Osama bin Laden's campaign surely would suffer if we left....

We should heed the words of Ronald Reagan about his experience with a needless and mistaken military occupation of Lebanon. Sending troops into Lebanon seemed like a good idea in 1983, but in 1990 President Reagan said this in his memoirs: "…we did not appreciate fully enough the depth of the hatred and complexity of the problems that made the Middle East such a jungle… In the weeks immediately after the bombing, I believed the last thing we should do was turn tail and leave… yet, the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there.""GWB ain't no RWR. Reagan could admit mistakes because he made them earnestly and with conviction. And that's part of what made him great, and made people love him even if they disagreed with his politics. I'm not sure how we can get out of Iraq, but it is interesting to ponder Paul's opening salvo:

"Supporters of the war in Iraq, as well as some non-supporters, warn of the dangers if we leave. But isn't it quite possible that these dangers are simply a consequence of having gone into Iraq in the first place, rather than a consequence of leaving? Isn't it possible that staying only makes the situation worse? If chaos results after our departure, it's because we occupied Iraq, not because we left."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Scowcroft: Right and Correct

"When a frustrated Scowcroft published his warning against invading Iraq in August 2002, Rice telephoned him and asked, according to another source, 'How could you do this to us?'

'What bothered Brent more than Condi yelling at him was the fact that here she is, the national security adviser, and she's not interested in hearing what a former national security adviser had to say,' according to the source.

At the time, Scowcroft was serving as chair of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), which should have been consulting regularly with the White House but was apparently kept in the dark about the preparations and rationale for going to war.

Scowcroft was dropped from PFIAB earlier this year, and efforts by George H.W. Bush to arrange a meeting between his son and Scowcroft have been unavailing, according to The New Yorker account."

Like father, not like son in this regard. George W. should have listened to people like this, real patriots.

Tinkering Toward Utopia

"Visions can be dangerous, of course. Marx's dream became, for millions, a nightmare. In the 90s, all ideas of radical social transformation came to be regarded with suspicion. It was as if humanity had finally grown up, and left such adolescent fantasies behind.

But if idealism without a dose of reality is simply naive, realism without a dash of imagination is utterly depressing. If this really was the end of history, it would be an awful anticlimax. Look at the way we live now, in the west. We grow up in increasingly fragmented communities, hardly speaking to the people next door, and drive to work in our self-contained cars. We work in standardized offices and stop at the supermarket on our way home to buy production-line food which we eat without relish. There is no great misery, no hunger, and no war. But nor is there great passion or joy. Despite our historically unprecedented wealth, more people than ever before suffer from depression.

The major political parties are reduced to tinkering with the details of our current system. Their only objective seems to be: more of the same, only perhaps a little bit more cheaply. They have no grand vision.

It is this complacency, this lack of idealism, that is in part responsible for the repugnance with which Muslim extremists view western society. When George Bush speaks of exporting democracy to the Middle East, he should realize that liberal democracy on its own is a limp, anemic idea. If the west is to provide a more inspiring ideal, then it is time we devoted more thought to the questions that Plato, More and Marx placed at the heart their utopias; the question of how to make work more rewarding, leisure more abundant, and communities more friendly."

The "tinkering" by politicians is a good point....don't we have any grand visionaries out there (but not too out there)?

interstellar 'chocolate'

"To solve the mystery of life's origin, scientists can no longer focus solely on Earth. They must take the entire universe into account. Reason: the discovery of nitrogen-carrying aromatic hydrocarbons throughout the universe.

Prior to their recent discovery in space, scientists had thought these biologically important molecules were unique to Earth. One type is the main ingredient in chocolate. Others carry genetic information in DNA.

The existence of these molecules in interstellar space "was considered impossible" 20 years ago, explains Louis Allamandola, who carried out this research with colleagues at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. "Now, we know better.... As a class, they are more abundant than all other known interstellar polyatomic molecules combined."

The finding has profound significance for the occurrence of organic life. These kinds of molecules are key ingredients in the primordial chemical soup from which scientists think organic life may have arisen.

"Seeing their signature across the universe tells me they are accessible to young planets just about everywhere," says Douglas Hudgins, lead author of the report on this research published in the Astrophysical Journal earlier this month.

In fact, you don't even need a planet to get the organic-life game going."

And, chocolate is health food, yay! We all win (until the aliens come and take our chocolate, boo!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bird Dots

birdsky420, originally uploaded by Watts Carr.

Flocks of birds stirring near I-40 at sunset, beautiful!

U2 for Kids

AGC really enjoyed this flash movie spoof and your kid will, too. "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" done in a style like "Beautiful Day", it's almost as clever as a "Weird Al" cover, and once again, The Edge's vocals make the song. Click on the "U2 for Kids" link and Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Nuclear Genie

"We have become too attached to our double standards, to a world of nuclear “haves” and “have-nots.”

We spend on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems what it would cost to feed the world’s hungry, shelter the world’s homeless, care for the world’s sick and infirm, and educate the world’s children.

In our comfortable reliance on our military might, we have failed to grasp that nuclear weapons are a far more powerful tool in the hands of the weak than in the hands of the strong.

We have failed to grasp that America cannot afford to again use nuclear weapons, but extremist groups are eager to obtain these weapons and use them against us.

We have failed to grasp that there is no defense against nuclear weapons, as we throw money into missile defenses like a helpless giant.

America stands at increasing risk that its great cities will be destroyed by nuclear weapons. "

These are some interesting points to ponder from an article that otherwise borders on "Chicken Little".

Saturday, October 22, 2005


"Irish rocker and human rights activist Bono addresses the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, October 21, 2005. The council on Friday honored Bono with the International Statesman award. Previous award winners include Mikhail Gorbachev, Yitzak Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan."

"I even wore an f'ing tie!"

Update: Bono took Amtrak from DC to get to this speaking engagement in Philly.

Watts Playing U2

Thursday, October 20, 2005

An Audience with B

"Bono may not have had to sing for his meal, but the U2 rocker had the ear of President George W. Bush over lunch on Wednesday.

In town to perform a concert, Bono was invited to the White House to follow up on discussions he and Bush had at the Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in July, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Volvo Bumper

volvofrontagc, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

A US Mail truck did some damage on the ol' Volvo while T & AGC were in the grocery store. Ug!

heart gitmo bumper

gitmobumper, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

I saw this on a car at the corner of Market & Kerr. I'm still amazed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

John Paul Shades

They said it would never be seen, but here it is: The Pope in Bono's shades! Hallalujah!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Limbaugh wonders: Am I an 'ubersexual'?

WorldNetDaily: Rush Limbaugh wonders: Am I an 'ubersexual'?

Sorry Rush, but wanting to be on this list automatically eliminates you from consideration. A-hem. That and insinuating on national radio that Bono has a mistress....yeah, women diiiiig that kinda talk. Look who's at #1:

1. U2's Bono (aka Paul Hewson): He's global, socially aware, confident, and compassionate, and he commands a huge base of followers who are fans of his music – and his humanitarianism.

Rush Outs Bono (and the Edge!)

Today's New York Post (Page Six column) reported on it with a reply from U2's publicist:

"October 12, 2005 -- RUSH Limbaugh seemed a little irked yesterday he wasn't named to a list of "ubersexuals" put out by an ad agency that decided "metrosexuals" are passe. The radio motormouth doesn't generally engage in scurrilous gossip (that's our purview). But yesterday, Limbaugh cited Pierce Brosnan, Jon Stewart, Ewan McGregor, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Bono as making the list - and then declared out of the blue that Bono has a mistress. The U2 frontman has been married for 23 years to high school sweetheart Ali Hewson, the mother of their four children. When a caller demanded to know what basis Limbaugh had in making his accusation, he replied cryptically: "You people are just going to have to trust me on this." U2's publicist told us: "This is so absurd it doesn't deserve a response. However, Bono and Edge have been spending a lot of time together in New York lately . . ."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Big-Ass Crow Bar

More goodness from Conan

Bono: "I'll be honest with you, nobody promotes peace as well as I do. If I don't win that Nobel Peace Prize, I'm gonna grab a big-ass crow bar and I'm gonna whoop me some Norwegian skull."

"Fast Cars", 10\08\05, Madison Square Garden

I really hope they play this song "Fast Cars" when they come to Charlotte in December, it's my fav of favs!
"IIIIIII Know these Fast Cars....(stop) won't do me no good"

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I Feel Safer Now

"Jarvis had assigned her senior civics and economics class "to take photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights," she says. One student "had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and tacked the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head. Then he made a thumb's-down sign with his own hand next to the President's picture, and he had a photo taken of that, and he pasted it on a poster."

According to Jarvis, the student, who remains anonymous, was just doing his assignment, illustrating the right to dissent. But over at the Kitty Hawk Wal-Mart, where the student took his film to be developed, this right is evidently suspect. An employee in that Wal-Mart photo department called the Kitty Hawk police on the student. And the Kitty Hawk police turned the matter over to the Secret Service. On Tuesday, September 20, the Secret Service came to Currituck High.

"At 1:35, the student came to me and told me that the Secret Service had taken his poster," Jarvis says. "I didn't believe him at first. But they had come into my room when I wasn't there and had taken his poster, which was in a stack with all the others."

She says the student was upset. "He was nervous, he was scared, and his parents were out of town on business," says Jarvis. She, too, had to talk to the Secret Service.

"Halfway through my afternoon class, the assistant principal got me out of class and took me to the office conference room," she says. "Two men from the Secret Service were there. They asked me what I knew about the student. I told them he was a great kid, that he was in the homecoming court, and that he'd never been in any trouble."

Then they got down to his poster.

"They asked me, didn't I think that it was suspicious," she recalls. "I said no, it was a Bill of Rights project!"

No comment on this one. I don't need a visit, and don't want to waste the Secret Service's time & resources.

Break Up the Congress!

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. , and he writes:

The House Republican leadership must go. Even if that means the GOP loses control of Congress. Democrats spent decades practicing the policy of spending lavishly to win elections. Republicans refined the practice in just a few years.

More fundamentally, it took the Democrats four decades to fully succumb to the temptations of power, ruthlessly abusing their control of Capitol Hill. After only one decade the Republicans are proving to be even worse.

Joey Scarborough basically says the same thing nightly on MSNBC. It's enough to make me miss Newt....

Friday, October 07, 2005

U2 Does Conan

Conan O'Brien dedicated the whole Late Night show last night to one guest, our beloved U2. That beats the Nobel Prize in my book....

Happiness is...

"Does the United States strike you as a happy country? July 1776, when Thomas Jefferson claimed the pursuit of happiness as a basic human right, might have been the last time that happiness was officially proposed as a national objective. But in Bhutan - as reported in the Science Times on Tuesday - the question of national happiness is still up for discussion, thanks to a monarch who insisted, nearly a generation ago, that gross national happiness is more important than gross national product."

We need more thinking along these lines...let's look at the big picture. (This photo is the new nickel, we'll be seeing these soon.)

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Other Black Gold

"Most people are surprised to learn that we can produce gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum products out of coal. Indeed, the process was used in America as early as 1928. In World War II, 92 percent of Germany's aviation fuel and half its total petroleum came from synthetic-fuel plants. South Africa has used a similar technology for 50 years, and now makes 200,000 barrels per day of synthetic gasoline and diesel.

"Synfuels" have remarkable properties: they are high-performing substances that run in existing engines without any technical modifications, and they burn much more cleanly than conventional fuels. The synfuel process, which is nothing like conventional coal use, removes greenhouse gases as well as toxins like sulfur, mercury and arsenic. And the technology has other applications: a synfuel plant can generate electric power, make synthetic natural gas, and produce the hydrogen that many (including President Bush) believe is the energy source of the future."

The article goes on to say we can make the synfuel for $35/barrel, so it finally makes economic sense. It's this kind of "reality-based" solution that will work.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Outsourcing Ourselves

"A few miles away from the French Quarter, another wealthy New Orleans businessman, James Reiss, who serves in Mayor Ray Nagin's administration as chairman of the city's Regional Transit Authority, brought in some heavy guns to guard the elite gated community of Audubon Place: Israeli mercenaries dressed in black and armed with M-16s. Two Israelis patrolling the gates outside Audubon told me they had served as professional soldiers in the Israeli military, and one boasted of having participated in the invasion of Lebanon. "We have been fighting the Palestinians all day, every day, our whole lives," one of them tells me. "Here in New Orleans, we are not guarding from terrorists." Then, tapping on his machine gun, he says, "Most Americans, when they see these things, that's enough to scare them."

The men work for ISI, which describes its employees as "veterans of the Israeli special task forces from the following Israeli government bodies: Israel Defense Force (IDF), Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, Instructors of Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, General Security Service (GSS or 'Shin Beit'), Other restricted intelligence agencies." The company was formed in 1993. Its website profile says: "Our up-to-date services meet the challenging needs for Homeland Security preparedness and overseas combat procedures and readiness. ISI is currently an approved vendor by the US Government to supply Homeland Security services."

Unlike ISI or BATS, Blackwater is operating under a federal contract to provide 164 armed guards for FEMA reconstruction projects in Louisiana. That contract was announced just days after Homeland Security Department spokesperson Russ Knocke told the Washington Post he knew of no federal plans to hire Blackwater or other private security firms. "We believe we've got the right mix of personnel in law enforcement for the federal government to meet the demands of public safety," he said. Before the contract was announced, the Blackwater men told me, they were already on contract with DHS and that they were sleeping in camps organized by the federal agency."

Outsourcing is a problem for the US whether we like it or not. Even technology jobs and more are leaving our country everyday, being outsourced for cheaper labor and less restrictive working and environmental regulations. While this is alarming, it's understandable in economic terms. But why the government and military are hiring these private companies for security in Iraq and Afghanistan is questionable. (and hiring an Israeli service? to protect a subdivision in New Orleans?)

These companies hire away our best soldiers, pay them more money and then we the taxpayers end up paying more money, so they can do the same work our military should be doing, at a much higher price. These private companies happen to be pals with the politicians and military folks, and it all may seem rather ordinary, but I can't help but think that this is unconstitutional. And certainly, it is costing us more money.

But worse than being in Iraq and Afghanistan, now these private companies are working here in the "Homeland", "protecting" us from ourselves and the ever-present dangers of terrorism and floods and drugs and whatever else they can think of to scare the public. There's a lot more to this story than we can already see, and I submit that Congress should commence investigations into companies like Blackwater immediately. It's not that I think the folks in Blackwater are bad people, but rather we need to look closely at this new system to be sure everything is on the level, and taxpayers and civil rights are protected. This is not a sound or sustainable policy.


"Genetically altered mice discovered accidentally at the Wistar Institute in Pennsylvania have the seemingly miraculous ability to regenerate like a salamander, and even regrow vital organs.

Researchers systematically amputated digits and damaged various organs of the mice, including the heart, liver and brain, most of which grew back.

The results stunned scientists because if such regeneration is possible in this mammal, it might also be possible in humans.

The researchers also made a remarkable second discovery: When cells from the regenerative mice were injected into normal mice, the normal mice adopted the ability to regenerate. And when the special mice bred with normal mice, their offspring inherited souped-up regeneration capabilities.

The mice, known as the MRL strain, were genetically engineered and inbred to develop lupus. But researchers don't know why exactly the animals' injuries heal so well."

This could be important stuff, folks.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Kot dismantled

Greg Kot, writer for the Chicago Tribune, dissed U2 pretty hard on the first leg of the Vertigo Tour, but now... he's hip to the third leg:

"Conclusion: So long, Dinosaur Act. The art-rocking, risk-taking U2 is back with a timely reminder of why this city embraced the band in the first place, 25 years ago."

conversion complete, next!

That scraping noise?

"That scraping noise you hear? It's the sound of sheepish voters creeping out to the garage late at night, furtively removing "Bush-Cheney 2004" bumperstickers from the back of their SUVs when no one is looking.

Meanwhile, as the scales fall from the eyes of the hoi polloi, even the one constituency which could plausibly make the claim that Bush has been good for America (read: their wallets), is speaking the unspeakable as well. Robert Novak, of all people, wrote a column last week chronicling his experience watching rich Republicans at an Aspen retreat bash the idiocy of Bush administration policies on Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, stem-cell research and more."

Friedman spoke about this on "Meet the Press" as well. For some reason, I feel like I'm seeing more Kerry/Edwards stickers lately (and a tad fewer "W" ones. I did see and "M" one....beneath it, in small letters, it said "The Moron") I don't hate him like some people do, but you'd be hard pressed to claim he's been good for the country.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

BS to Power Fuel Cells

"But hydrogen is difficult to use since it must be stored under high pressure at low temperatures. It also takes a lot of fossil fuel to produce it. Other research aims to develop different types of fuel.

That's where cow manure comes in.

Various laboratories are studying the potential of certain microbes to run fuel cells using such raw material as sewage. The Ohio State team takes its inspiration from one of nature's most efficient microbial processing systems - the main stomach of a cow. Microbes in a cow's rumen fluid release electrons as they break down cellulose in the cow's feed. The team has used this fermenting fluid as the source of electrons for a fuel cell's electric current."

Is this BS? Well, yes and....

GWB Drinks?

"Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster.

His worried wife yelled at him: "Stop, George."

Following the shocking incident, disclosed here for the first time, Laura privately warned her husband against "falling off the wagon" and vowed to travel with him more often so that she can keep an eye on Dubya, the sources add.

"When the levees broke in New Orleans, it apparently made him reach for a shot," said one insider. "He poured himself a Texas-sized shot of straight whiskey and tossed it back. The First Lady was shocked and shouted: "Stop George!"

"Laura gave him an ultimatum before, 'It's Jim Beam or me.' She doesn't want to replay that nightmare — especially now when it's such tough going for her husband.""

OK, it's the National Inquirer, but still.....

AGC Runs

wagcrunsmile, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Watts Playing

It's been a long while since I posted my "now playing on the Clie" list, so here goes:

Friday, September 23, 2005

Bono and Eddie Vedder at a Pearl Jam Concert

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A Marine's Plea

An Honest Victory - New York Times (I miss the free op-eds, what a shame!)

"President Bush has the power to change the United States' prospects in Iraq. But doing so requires the courage to admit errors, and the willingness to embrace good ideas. A break with the past can be Hurricane Katrina's positive legacy."
-Nathaniel Fick, a former Marine captain who led infantry platoons in Afghanistan and Iraq, is the author of 'One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer.'"

Powerful op-ed...I agree that Bush needs a reality-check.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bono and Jesse Helms

The Statesman - New York Times: "In mid-2000, Bono received an audience with Senator Jesse Helms, viewed by Bono's fellow lefties, including members of the band, as the archfiend himself. Bono quickly realized that his usual spiel about debt service and so on wasn't making a dent. So, he recalls: 'I started talking about Scripture. I talked about AIDS as the leprosy of our age.' Married women and children were dying of AIDS, he told the senator, and governments burdened by debt couldn't do a thing about it. Helms listened, and his eyes began to well up. Finally the flinty old Southerner rose to his feet, grabbed for his cane and said, 'I want to give you a blessing.' He embraced the singer, saying, 'I want to do anything I can to help you.' Kasich, who was watching from a couch, says, 'I thought somebody had spiked my coffee.'"
Ha! I had not heard that tidbit before, funny stuff! Still an amazing moment in history, kudos to Bono and Jesse Helms, too. Read, hear and see more at my trusty ol' U2 site