Tuesday, May 31, 2005

e-Nuff Fluff...here's news

Fluff Stories Crowd Out News the Nation Needs

"Official reports bragged about Cpl. Tillman's bravery("The fact is, investigators determined fairly quickly that Tillman died of so-called "friendly fire"; he was accidentally killed by another squad of Army Rangers and died yelling, "Cease fire! Friendlies!"), just as a year prior they disingenuously advised us about Pvt. Jessica Lynch firing her weapon at the enemy until she ran out of ammunition. Unfortunately, these stories were grossly embellished.

Underreported story two: A Senate committee led by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., accused George Galloway, a member of the British Parliament, of improprieties regarding the U.N. Oil-for-Food program in Iraq. Sen. Coleman subpoenaed Mr. Galloway, apparently assuming Galloway would roll over for his committee the way Democrats in this country usually roll over for Republicans these days.

To everyone's surprise, Galloway roared into Washington and proceeded to make a fool out of the unctuous Sen. Coleman. When Coleman questioned Galloway about allegations that he had been advancing the interests of Saddam Hussein, Galloway responded: ''Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.'' Galloway's Senate testimony was simply bombastic, but if you want to read it in its entirety, you'll have to look it up on the internet. It received scant coverage in the press.

Underreported story three: We also have ''The Downing Street memo,'' which nearly caused Tony Blair to lose his government. In this memorandum, British foreign-policy aide Matthew Rycroft summarized a July 23, 2002, meeting between Blair and his top security advisers. Rycroft also analyzed a U.S. visit by Richard Dearlove, who then led Britain's intelligence service. The Dearlove visit occurred while President Bush was still promising Americans that no decision had been made to launch a war against Iraq. The memo said that ''the intelligence and facts were being fixed'' by the Bush administration to support its previous determination to invade Iraq. According to the memo, the British attorney general also seriously questioned the legality of the war. U.S. media have given short-shrift to the Downing Street memo, which essentially affirms that Americans were lied to in the fall of 2002 about the decision to invade Iraq.

There is a fourth story, still unwritten. It should examine exactly what has happened to the U.S. media. Many vital news events now receive minimal coverage. This is a shameful development. We should demand more hard news coverage, because we have a right to be well-informed. It is not unpatriotic to print stories unfavorable to the Bush administration."

I wonder how many Americans like the way their tax dollars are used:
Many voters and our elected representatives hardly bat an eye over the fact that half the federal discretionary budget funds the military. This will be $438 billion in 2006 -- excluding the costs of action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the National Priorities Project, the average San Francisco household, for instance, paid:

$13,139 in federal income tax in 2004, of which

$5,097 funded the military (including interest on its debt),
$2,664 for health care,
$482 for education, and
$52 for job training.

Hafta CAFTA? Nah

AlterNet Mobile Edition:

"Meanwhile, in the U.S., the AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, the Citizen's Trade Campaign, and just about every other human rights, labor, environmental, family farm, and development organization opposes CAFTA. Even the major Latino civil rights groups, many of whom had favored NAFTA ten years ago, oppose CAFTA. It seems that the only sector advocating for its passage is big business.

Bush had tried to sell CAFTA on the grounds that it will help build democracy in Central America, and help in the fight against terror. But the biggest threat to hemispheric security -- the leading cause of death in the region -- isn't terrorism, it's poverty; lack of access to clean water, enough food, and affordable medicine. So Latin Americans find it hard to believe that the privatization of public services like health care and water distribution, or opening up their industries to foreign investment, will make them more secure. That is especially true at a time when the U.S. government has -- with breathtaking hypocrisy -- refused to extradite Posada Carriles, the most notorious convicted terrorist in the hemisphere."

Friday, May 27, 2005

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

Mom & Dad, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

Your daughter's present, Mary Callie, will be better than your son's present this year. Still no pictures from Pook, but I have been told that she's here, she's over 8 lbs, and beautiful. Anna Grace can't wait to play with a girl cousin. Congrats Libba & Pook, and Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Smiling Grace Face

Smiling Grace Face, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

Doggie Grass

Doggie Grass, originally uploaded by watts4u2.


Amazement, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Voyager LP

WN: Wired News:

"'Voyager 1 has entered the final lap on its race to the edge of interstellar space,' said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology, in a statement released Tuesday.

Voyager watchers theorized last November that the craft might be reaching this bumpy region of space when the charged solar particles known as the solar wind seemed to slow down from a top speed of 1.5 million miles per hour.

This was expected at the area of termination shock, where the solar winds were expected to decelerate as they bump up against gas from the space beyond our solar system. It is more than twice as distant as Pluto, the furthest planet in our system.

...Wherever they go, the Voyagers each carry a golden phonograph record which bears messages from Earth, including natural sounds of surf, wind, thunder and animals. There are also musical selections, spoken greetings in 55 languages, along with instructions and equipment on how to play the record."

A phonograph record? Ahhhhhhhh! I'm already embarrassed for humanity. When the first aliens find this thing:
"Grooves and a needle?? Have they invented the wheel yet? Ha Ha Ha"
Bastard aliens.

Asteroid Mission

WN: Wired News:

"The proposal calls for a $300 million mission to land a transponder on the asteroid, a 1,050-foot-wide body known as 2004 MN4. Signals from the transponder would be used to pinpoint the asteroid's trajectory and determine whether it will strike Earth or simply zoom past.

To date, scientists at NASA's Near Earth Object program have maintained that the likelihood of a strike is miniscule. In 2035, the probability is just 1 in 23,000, according to their calculations. In 2036, that probability rises to a mere 1 in 14,000.

However, those numbers could change after 2004 MN4 passes between Earth and the moon in 2029. At that point, astronomers will have a chance to make extensive observations of the asteroid and will be able to calculate the risk more precisely -- for better or for worse.

Finding out in 2029 that the chances of an impact were actually on the order of 1 in 10 or worse would be disastrous because it would be too late to launch a mission to deflect the asteroid, argues Schweickart."

Sounds like a good idea to me. We must defend our planet from asteroids. I mean, we know they have caused mass extinctions before, and that would be nice to avoid.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Smoke Sauna

An American Barbecue Pilgrimage - What's wrong with Memphis? By David Plotz:

"In a normal sauna, the smoke vents out of a chimney while the hot coals heat the room. But in a smoke sauna, there is no chimney. You light a fire right in the middle of a stone chamber that has a couple of windows. When the fire has burned down to coals, the room temperature has dropped to 200 degrees, and much of the smoke has been vented out of the windows, you can go in. My friends and I would sit naked on the wooden benches, wreathed in smoke, drink Estonian beer, and whip ourselves with willow branches (all part of the tradition!) until it got unbearably hot—which usually took about 20 minutes. At that point, we'd race outside and wallow in a pool of cold water till we cooled down. Then we'd go back in. We did this for three days.

For two weeks afterward, I took to sniffing my arm, just to enjoy the incredible, delicious smokiness of it. Once, after a particularly yummy whiff, I actually licked my wrist.

What happened in Estonia? I had been barbecued."


Blogger Photojournalism 101

Watch where you point that camera | csmonitor.com:

"In general, photojournalists have no more rights than ordinary citizens to take pictures.

If you're standing on public property, you can shoot anything the naked eye can see, explains Ken Kobre, professor of photojournalism at San Francisco State University and author of one of the seminal textbooks on the subject.

What you can't do, he says, is use a telephoto lens and take shots through office windows or into private residences, where people would have a 'reasonable expectation of privacy.' That would be like eavesdropping or surreptitiously taping someone, he says.

But if a story is newsworthy and in the public interest, then taking photos even on private property is usually permissible, he adds.

Photographing the outside of buildings - schools, hospitals, and even government buildings - is also legal. It's when you go inside that you need permission."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Top(less)sail Beach?

StarNewsOnline.com: The Voice of Southeastern North Carolina:

"The only pertinent laws in effect at Topsail – and North Topsail, Caswell Beach and Bald Head, for that matter – are federal and state ones. Whether male or female, bare chests are considered lawful, if not necessarily tasteful or attractive. "

The Star-News, with tongue firmly in cheek, makes light of the recent, um... uncovering of a lack of a law against topless sunbathing. Funny!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Watts Car

Commuter Cars

"As far as performance goes, the Tango is no slouch. Since electric cars--especially small ones--are generally thought to be slow and weak performers we set out to blow some minds by designing the Tango to accelerate through the standing 1/4 mile in 12 seconds at over 120 mph and travel from 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds."

Check out this sweet ride! Battery technology has been overlooked as a way to wean us from fossil fuels, and I think it's the most promising route. New batteries get an 80% charge in 10 minutes. Battery technology is our future.

Meanwhile, in our back yard...

A Castro ally with oil cash vexes the US | csmonitor.com:

"Name calling is nothing new to this story. The Venezuelan leader has called President Bush a 'jerk,' the US government a 'mafia of assassins,' and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice an 'illiterate.' Just this week, Cuba and Venezuela have lambasted the US for not immediately turning over Luis Posada Carriles, who is wanted on suspicion of blowing up a Cuban airliner in Venezuela in 1976, killing 73 people. They accuse the US of 'harboring terrorists.'

'The US is a very ideologically oriented administration and has a lot of animosity toward us,' says Andr�s Izarra, Venezuela's minister of information. 'But we can ally ourselves with whomever we want.' Since the so-called misi�n barrio adentro, or mission inside the neighborhood, was started in 2003, some 60 percent of the population have received healthcare at one of the 300 clinics, and 2,575 lives have been saved, says Mr. Izarra. 'What is the cost of 2,575 lives saved?' he asks. 'Cuba is our ally in the war against poverty and illiteracy. We are thankful to them, and we can show it in any way we please.'"

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Super Water Kills Bugs Dead

WN: Wired News:

"A California company has figured out how to use two simple materials -- water and salt -- to create a solution that wipes out single-celled organisms, and which appears to speed healing of burns, wounds and diabetic ulcers.

The solution looks, smells and tastes like water, but carries an ion imbalance that makes short work of bacteria, viruses and even hard-to-kill spores.

Developed by Oculus Innovative Sciences in Petaluma, the super-oxygenated water is claimed to be as effective a disinfectant as chlorine bleach, but is harmless to people, animals and plants. If accidentally ingested by a child, the likely impact is a bad case of clean teeth.

Oculus said the solution, called Microcyn, may prove effective in the fight against superbugs, crossover viruses like bird flu and Ebola, and bioterrorism threats such as anthrax."

It's like Star Trak or something! That guy on "House" with the flesh eating virus on his leg could have used this stuff...


Jellies, originally uploaded by Watts Carr.


Fish, originally uploaded by Watts Carr.


Gators!, originally uploaded by Watts Carr.

Gators in the tank

Gator, originally uploaded by Watts Carr.

The aquarium at Fort Fisher is amazing, and this gator tank was SO cool. More pictures on the way...

Monday, May 16, 2005

Base Closing Savings

The last I heard from Donald Rumsfeld, the proposed base closings will save $50 Billion over the next 20 years. He says this like we're supposed to be impressed by the great savings we will have as we transition to more effective military. I think the changes are necessary, and the military needs to adapt to the current threats to America. What really sticks in my craw is the fact that we will save, over 20 years, less than half of what the Iraq War has cost us in the last year alone. The supplemental bill this year was for $87 Billion, that's much more than we'll save in 20 years with these 'draconian' cutbacks. I know that deciding to go to war is about more than money, but I don't think the American people fully realize the costs that we all bear for this war. The kind of money we have spent (and have yet to spend) is enough to fund entire entitlement programs for a generation (or Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, take your pick). So, while our military will cutback to save us $50 Billion over 20 years, it also asked for and received $87 Billion EXTRA just this year for the war in the middle east. The ONLY way this makes any kind of economic sense is if our leaders are far-sighted enough to see that the near future of world order lies in fossil fuel. Russia has plenty, introspective China has made nice with many countries (including many in our hemisphere like Venezuela), India is planning a pipeline despite our objections, and since the 70's America's oil needs have depended on foreign sources. We are there to secure our oil needs for the future. That is the only way this misadventure makes sense economically. I guess you could still argue the 'humanitarian' reasons (wait...we've been the torturers and murderers sometimes), or the WMD (wait...nevermind), or....what else was there? Oh, the terrorists, that's right. And when will we be leaving? When they're good and ready? Something tells me the $50 Billion we're saving over the next 20 years has already been spent. Will the cost of the Iraq War be worth the money we've spent (not to mention the lives)? The only way it could begin to be worth it is if we secure enough oil for our needs, and the administration wants us to believe that oil has nothing to do with it. I'd rather they just be honest that oil was a major reason for the invasion, and that securing an oil supply for US is important for our national security...just as important as stopping terrorists and evil dictators. We depend on oil and have not made progress on creating new sources of energy, so we have to use our greatest power (military) to secure it. What if instead of invading Iraq, we had decided to spend that money on alternative fuel sources? Heck, we'd probably have fusion now if we'd poured that kind of money into research. But I digress, the real issue here is the huge savings from cutting military bases....that savings is tiny compared to the costs of this war, and I hope the American public can see these numbers together and recognize what a drain the Iraq war has been on our country.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

A week ago today...

I see this picture and think:
dang! that cake was good!
Thanks Tracey

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Weather Changes

AlterNet Mobile Edition:

"In recent years, however, something has been amiss in Martin's idyllic setting. The weather is changing in strange ways. And for a farmer that's bad news.

'I don't know if you can talk about predictable weather anymore,' Martin said on a recent walk through his three-acre plot. 'Each of the last ten years has been anomalous in one way or another. The weather here used to be like clockwork. Around March 15 it would stop raining. But all through the '90s we had rain into April, May and even June. If you talk with farmers and gardeners, oh yeah, they think there's something off.'

Martin is right. From New England to the Midwest to California, farmers and scientists are noticing that once-dependable weather patterns are shifting, and concern is growing that those changes will have a significant impact on our agriculture system. Farmers in the United States and around the world are likely to face serious challenges in the coming decades as new kinds of weather test their ability to bring us the food we all depend on.

The culprit is climate change, caused by society's burning of fossil fuels. When it comes to global warming, farmers--who are more attuned to weather patterns than most people--may be the proverbial canaries in the coalmine."

Ahem, uh....weather changes...wow, you guys should be scientists! "Society's burning of fossil fuels" is a part of "global warming", but we don't have much reason to believe that is a main cause, or even a significant contributor to global warming. We also don't know if the warming may be helping....wouldn't we be worse off it if were cooling 1.8 degrees over the last 100 years? The weather has been changing on our planet....since it was formed. Climate change is normal, and weather patterns change. It is part of nature. Earth has been much cooloer and much warmer in the past, we've also had "volcantic winters" as recently as the 1800's (Summer never came one year). We're gonna be out of fossil fuel in the next 100 years or so anyway, a blink in time for our planet. Why do humans always think that we have such control over nature?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Power of Wood

Will wood help fill US energy needs? | csmonitor.com:

"Forget corn processing. Don't wait for switch grass. The real key to producing enough ethanol for America's cars and trucks this century is wood.

That's the contention of researchers at the State University of New York (SUNY). By revamping the way paper is made, they've found an economical way to extract important energy-rich sugars from the trees and then convert these sugars into ethanol, a gasoline additive, and other useful chemicals.

It's a process the researchers call a biorefinery. Installed at the nation's paper mills, biorefineries could produce 2.4 billion gallons of ethanol a year, they estimate, or 80 percent of the nation's projected need this year.

'We know our sources of fossil fuel aren't going to last forever,' says Thomas Amidon, a professor at SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry. 'Biorefineries allow us to substitute a sustainable energy source: wood.'"

Friday, May 06, 2005

This is conservative?

Interest-Group Conservatism - George Bush's philosophy of government. By Jacob Weisberg:

"In this, the third year that Republicans have controlled everything, a variation on the old interest-group liberalism has emerged as the new governing philosophy. One might have expected that once in command, conservative politicians would work to further reduce Washington's power and bury the model of special-interest-driven government expansion for good. But one would have been wrong. Instead, Republicans have gleefully taken possession of the old liberal spoils system and converted it to their own purposes. The result is the curious governing philosophy of interest-group conservatism: the expansion and exploitation of government by people who profess to dislike it."

It's enough to make me miss Newt Gingrich. This article pretty much sums up why I vote 3rd Party whenever possible...

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Charlotte Observer | 05/04/2005 | Sports calendar and notes: "New arena might sell out with new team name

It was announced recently that U2 was coming to Charlotte in December to play at the new Charlotte arena. It seems that this Bono fellow can certainly draw a crowd and, not only that, sell out quickly. I went to a few Bobcat games this year and noticed a lot more empty seats than those occupied.My suggestion to Bob Johnson would be to draft Bono as a point guard. Have him sing the national anthem before the game and a few songs at halftime. It will do wonders for the attendance. He may not help them win too many games, but they were not winning many games without him. Bono won't come cheap -- but I think offering to change the name to the Bonocats while he is in uniform could clinch the deal."

I found this @ @U2, and had to post it....NC related and all.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Wa-llah!, originally uploaded by watts4u2. !

Now for my next trick

Now for my next trick, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

Sing it one time for Elvis!

Sing it one time for Elvis!, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

Monticello Explorer

Monticello Explorer

Hey T.J. fans, here is a fancy schmancy website that gives a better tour of Monticello than the man himself. One of the most detailed history sites I've ever seen, this site makes field trips unnecessary.