Saturday, December 30, 2006

Carolina Blue T-bird

Carolina Blue T-bird, originally uploaded by Watts4. seen in Wallace, NC at the Christmas Parade

Yar, that's a cool site!

agcpirateb, originally uploaded by watts4u2.

Make your own get-ups at, it's good fun for the kiddies!

Let Go of the Empire

"We must adjust our commitments to reflect our capabilities and, beyond that, to defend only what is truly vital to the national security.

While our armed forces are more than adequate to defend us, they are insufficient to defend an empire. Rather than bleed and bankrupt the nation endlessly, we should let go of the empire.

Americans must learn how to mind our own business and cease to meddle in other nation's quarrels. Iraq was never a threat to the United States. Only our mindless intervention has made it so. "

-Pat Buchanan

Evidence he would have been a better President than "the CoWboy"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I Am Time's Person of the Year!

Last year Bono shared the Time Person of the Year with Bill and Melinda Gates.

This year, I was awarded the Time Person of the Year.
Thank you, thank you very much!
I will have to share the award, just like Bono did. But unlike Bono, who only shared the award with a married couple, I choose to share the award with you.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Window in the Skies Video

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a great, great video:

The song? Reminds me of this one , almost a parody, but the video really helps the song.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Declare War (or else get out)

W. Bush is not the first president to abuse the constitution when it comes to fighting undeclared wars. But, he is the most blatant, and he has no Cold War to blame. We invade and occupy a country halfway around the world, without consent from the UN or even most of our longtime allies, based on allegations that pretty much all turned out to be false. This is the problem with having one 'decider in chief'. I do not think we would have invaded Iraq had the Congress actually had to vote to Declare War, the way our founders intended.

Rep. Ron Paul from TX has this to say:

"...the notion that presidents should establish our broader foreign policy is dangerous and wrong. No single individual should be entrusted with the awesome responsibility of deciding when to send our troops abroad, how to employ them once abroad, and when to bring them home. This is why the founders wanted Congress, the body most directly accountable to the public, to make critical decisions about war and peace.

It is shameful that Congress ceded so much of its proper authority over foreign policy to successive presidents during the 20th century, especially when it failed to declare war in Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, and Iraq. It’s puzzling that Congress is so willing to give away one of its most important powers, when most members from both parties work incessantly to expand the role of Congress in domestic matters. By transferring its role in foreign policy to the President, Congress not only violates the Constitution, but also disenfranchises the American electorate. "

Thank you!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Appoint Baker President

So, turns out Rumsfeld was not fired because he was doing a poor job... it was his memo that suggested change. Looks like Rumsfeld has moved to the Bush I/Scowcroft/Baker side?

"Indeed, Bush's cavalier dismissal of the key Baker-Hamilton recommendations creates a possible framework for a bipartisan impeachment effort.

A less confrontational approach could be Republican and Democratic pressure on Bush and Cheney to agree to sequential resignations, replacing Cheney first with a new Vice President who would then assume the presidency upon Bush's resignation."

Unlikely (read the whole interesting article from Alternet, by Robert Parry), but imagine a bipartisan group of Congress going to the White House, threatning impeachment unless there are sequential resignations. I suggest they appoint Baker, give him 2 years to work his diplomatic magic...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Alan Caruba's Modest Proposal

Well, somebody had to say it:

"I have a suggestion. Let’s import Israel’s Jews. Let’s offer them all passage to America and a fast track to citizenship. The United States has absorbed an estimated twelve to twenty million illegal Mexican, Caribbean, and South American aliens with hardly a whimper. Why not six million of the most talented people in the world, one of the highest concentrations of brainpower to be found anywhere?

Yes, this means abandoning Israel to the Arabs, but Israel is so small the entire landmass could sink into Lake Michigan and never been seen again. In one stroke, America would have defused the so-called “reason” that the Middle East is in such turmoil. "

Would this be caving in to terrorists/Islamic Fundamentalists? I think so, and I don't think this will possibly happen. But, it is interesting to juxtapose illegal immigration with a solution for Middle East problems, and I encourage thinking big. Interesting article....

Update: Just heard from Mr. Caruba:
"Nice photos! And let me compliment you on your blog's link to my Human Events commentary about the Israelis, but don't you think North Carolina would be an ideal place to stick those 6 million folks? It would be a real estate boom! Throw in a couple of synagogues and you have the makings of a couple of towns. But we both know they won't leave. I worry about them. Happy Holidays!"

Friday, December 01, 2006

Blogging the Bible

David Plotz has an ongoing column on Slate called "Blogging the Bible", and it has been a fascinating read. You can catch up on the whole series here. This is what Plotz has to say about his endeavor:

"There are experts to tell you why the Bible is literally true, others to advise you how to analyze it as history, and still others to help you read it as literature. You can learn how to approach it as a Jew, a Catholic, an evangelical Protestant, a feminist, a lawyer, a teenager.So, what can I possibly do? My goal is pretty simple. I want to find out what happens when an ignorant person actually reads the book on which his religion is based. I think I'm in the same position as many other lazy but faithful people (Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus). I love Judaism; I love (most of) the lessons it has taught me about how to live in the world; and yet I realized I am fundamentally ignorant about its foundation, its essential document. So, what will happen if I approach my Bible empty, unmediated by teachers or rabbis or parents? What will delight and horrify me? How will the Bible relate to the religion I practice, and the lessons I thought I learned in synagogue and Hebrew School?"

I've been enthralled with his's so unlike Sunday School or Bible Study, to see the Bible fresh through the eyes of a "real person" has been quite enlightening for me. Call me modern and lazy, but it's a lot easier than trying to read (and understand) the actual Bible. I highly recommend reading at least one of these articles, if you try it you may find yourself reading them all!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Abe Sports Bono Shades

Paul Boutin (Slate) drives Tesla

....and loves it, I mean loves it! And why not?:

"The Tesla Roadster won't hit the streets until next year. If you see one on the street, then, you should ask for a ride. Even from the passenger seat, the car feels impossibly stronger, faster, and safer than it should be. The trick is Tesla's torque curve—the arc of the motor's strength as it revs from a standstill to top speed. Compared to gasoline-engined cars, the Roadster's torque curve feels—and is—impossible. That's because the Tesla's motor is electric."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Iraq Strategy Complaints from Marines

This article was forwarded to me by my Dad, a Marine:

US Strategy in Iraq
Honors Convocation
Newberry College
9 November 2006

Mitchell Zais

(Has a very strong resume to qualify him for writing this article)

"Many of our faculty and staff have asked me my views about the current
situation in Iraq. A few students have also asked. So I thought I
would take this opportunity, two days before Veterans' Day, to provide
you with some insights as seen from the perspective of a combat veteran
who served as the Commanding General of US and allied forces in Iraq.
I also served as Chief of War Plans in the Pentagon and have spent
considerable time study ing national security affairs, including a
fellowship at the National Defense University. So while it's true that
everyone has opinions about Iraq, I would argue that not all of those
opinions are equally well-informed. This talk will address our strategy
in Iraq. I won't talk about what the next steps should be, what the
long-term prospects for peace in Iraq are, or how we can best get out
of the quagmire we are in. Those might be other talks. For today I'm
going to focus on strategy.

Let me begin by saying that most of our problems in Iraq stem from a
flawed strategy that has been in place since the beginning of the war.
It's important that you understand what strategy is.
In military terminology there is a distinction between
strategy, operations, tactics, and techniques.

Strategy pertains to national decision-making at the highest level.
For example, our strategy in World War II was to mobilize the nation,
then defeat the Nazi regime while conducting a holding action in
the Pacific, then shift our forces to destroy the Japanese Empire.
Afterwards, our strategy was to rebuild both defeated nations into
capitalistic democracies in order to make them future allies.

An example of an operational decision from World War II would be the
decision to invade North Africa and then Italy and Southern France
before moving directly for the heart of Germany by coming ashore
in Northern France or Belgium.

Tactics characterize a scheme of maneuver that integrates the
different capabilities of, for example, infantry, armor, and artillery.

A technique might describe a way of employing machine guns with
overlapping fields of fire or of setting up a roadblock.

Our strategy in Iraq has been:
1. fight the war on the cheap;

2. ask the ground forces to perform missions that are more suitably
performed by other branches of the American government;

3. inconvenience the American people as little as possible, and

4. continue to fund the Air Force and Navy at the same levels that
they have been funded at for the last 30 years while shortchanging the
Army and Marines who are doing all of the fighting.

No wonder the war is not going well. Let me explain how the war is being
fought on the cheap. From the very beginning, Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, who thankfully announced his departure yesterday, has striven
to minimize the number of soldiers and Marines in Iraq. Instead of
employing the Colin Powell doctrine of "use massive force at the beginning to achieve
a quick and decisive victory", his goal has been to "use no more troops
than absolutely necessary so we can spend defense dollars on new
technology". Before hostilities began, the Army Chief of Staff, Eric
Shinseki, testified before Congress that an occupation of Iraq would
require hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Shinseki made his
estimate based on his extensive experience in the former Yugoslavia
where he worked to disengage the warring factions of Orthodox Serbians,
Catholic Croatians, and Muslim Kosovars.

Shinseki also had available the results of a wargame conducted
in 1999 that involved 70 military, diplomatic, and intelligence
officials. This recently declassified study concluded that 400,000
troops on the ground were needed to keep order, seal borders, and take
care of other security needs. And even then stability would not be
guaranteed. Because of his testimony before Congress, Rumsfeld moved
Shinseki aside. In a nearly unprecedented move, to replace Shinseki,
Rumsfeld recalled from active duty a retired general who was more
likely to accept his theory that we could win a war in Iraq and
establish a stable government with a small number of troops. The Defense
Department has fought the war on the cheap because, despite
overwhelming evidence that the Army and Marine Corps need a significant
increase in their size in order to accomplish their assigned
missions, the civilian officials who run the Pentagon have refused to
request authorization from Congress to do so. Two Democratic
representatives, Mark Udall from Colorado and Ellen Tauscher of
California, have introduced a bill into Congress that would add 80,000
troops to the end-strength of the active Army. Currently, this bill
has no support from the Defense Department.

When I was commissioned in 1969, the Army was one and a half million.
Despite the fact that we're engaged in combat in Iraq, in Afghanistan,
in the Philippines, and committed to peacekeeping
missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Sinai, and on operational
deployments in over 70 countries, our Army is now less than one third
that size. We had more soldiers in Saudi Arabia in the first Gulf war
than we have in the entire Army today. In fact, Wal-Mart has three
times as many employees as the American Army has soldiers.
As late as 1990, Army end-strength was approximately 770,000. With
fewer than a half-million today, defense analysts have argued that we
need to add nearly 200,000 soldiers to the active ranks. Today, the
Army is so bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq that fewer than 10,000
soldiers are ready and able to deal with any new crisis elsewhere in
the world. And because the Army is so small, after only a year at home
units are returning to Iraq for a second and even a third 12-month tour
of duty.

Let me add a parenthetical note here explaining a difference
between our services. Army tours of duty in Iraq are for 12 or 13
months. For Marines it's normally six months. For Air Force personnel
it's typically four months. So when a soldier says he's going back to
Iraq for his third tour, it means something totally different than when
an airman says the same thing.

Because the active force is too small, the mission of our National
Guard and reserve forces has been changed. Their original purpose was to save
the nation in time of peril. Today they serve as fillers for an
inadequately sized active force. This change in mission has occurred with no national
debate and no input from Congress. We have fought the war on the cheap
because we have never adequately funded the rebuilding of the Iraqi
military or the training and equipping of the Iraqi police forces. The e-mails I
receive from soldiers and Marines assigned to train Iraqi forces all
complain of their inadequate resources because they are at the very
bottom of the supply chain and the lowest priority. We have fought the
war on the cheap because we have failed to purchase necessary equipment
for our troops or repair that which has been broken
or a worn out in combat. You've all read the stories about soldiers
having to purchase their own bulletproof vests and other equipment.
And the Army Chief of Staff has testified that he needs an extra $17
billion to fix equipment. For example, nearly 1500 war-fighting
vehicles await repair in Texas with 500 tanks sitting in Alabama.

Finally, we are fighting this war on the cheap because our
defense budget of 3.8% of gross domestic product is too small. In the
Kennedy administration it averaged 9% of GDP. The average defense
budget in the post Vietnam era, from 1974 to 1994, was about 5.8% of
GDP. If we are in a global war against radical Islam, and we are, then
we need a defense budget that reflects wartime requirements.

A second part of our strategy is to ask the military to perform
missions that are more appropriate for other branches of government. Our Army and
Marine Corps are taking the lead in such projects as building roads and
sewage treatment plants, establishing s chool s, training a neutral
judiciary, and developing a modern banking system. The press refers to
these activities as nation-building. Our soldiers and Marines are
neither equipped nor trained to do these things. They attempt them,
and in general they succeed, because they are so committed and
so obedient. But it is not what they do well and what only they alone
can do. But I would ask, where are our Department of Energy and
Department of Transportation in restoring Iraqi infrastructure? What's
the role of our Department of Education in rebuilding an Iraqi
educational system? What does our Department of Justice do to help
stand up an impartial judicial system? Where is the US Information
Agency in establishing a modern equivalent of Radio Free Europe? And
why did it take a year after the end of the active fighting for the
State Department to assume responsibility from the Department of
Defense in setting up an Iraqi government? These other US government
agencies are only peripherally and secondarily involved in Iraq.
Actually, it would be inaccurate to say that the American government is
at war. The U.S. Army is at war. The U.S. Marine Corps is at war. And
other small elements of our armed forces are at war. But our
government is not.

A third part of our strategy is to inconvenience the American people as
little as possible. Ask yourself, are you at war?
What tangible effect is this war having on your daily life? What
sacrifices have you been asked to make for the sake of this war other
than being inconvenienced at airports? No, America is not at war.
Only a small number of young, brave, patriotic men and women, who bear
the burden of fighting and dying, are at war.

A fourth aspect of our strategy is to fund Navy and Air Force budgets
at prewar levels while shortchanging the Marine Corps and the Army that
are doing the fighting. This strategy, of spending billions on technology
for a Navy and Air Force that face no threat, contributes mightily to our
failures in Iraq. Secretary Rumsfeld is a former Navy pilot. His view of the
battlefield is from 10,000 feet, antiseptic and surgical. Since coming into office he
has funded the Air Force and the Navy at the expense of the Army and
Marines because he believes technological leaps will render ground
forces obsolete. He assumed that the rapid victory over the Taliban in
Afghanistan confirmed this belief. For example, the Defense Department
is pouring billions into buying the newest fighter aircraft, at $360
million each, to take on a non-existent enemy Air Force. But, for
pilots like Rumsfeld, war is all about technology. It's computers,
it's radar, and it's high tech weapons. Technologists have a hard time
comprehending the motivations of a suicide bomber or a mother who
celebrates the death of her son in such a way. It's difficult for them
to understand that to overcome centuries of ethnic hatred and murder it
will take more than one generation. It's hard for them to accept that
for young men with little education, no wives or children, and few job
prospects, war against the West is the only thing that gives meaning to
their lives. But war on the ground is not conducted with technology.
It is fought by 25-year-old sergeants leading 19-year-old soldiers
carrying rifles, in a dangerous and alien environment, where you can't
tell combatants from noncombatants, Shiites from Sunnis, or suicide
bombers from freedom-seeking Iraqis. This means war on the street is
neither antiseptic nor surgical. It's dirty, complicated, and fraught
with confusion and error.

In essence, our strategy has been produced by men whose view
of war is based on their understanding of technology and machinery, not
their knowledge of men from an alien culture and the forces which
motivate them. They fail to appreciate that if you want to hold and
pacify a hostile land and a hostile people you need soldiers and
Marines on the ground and in the mud, and lots of them.

In summary, our flawed strategy in Iraq has produced the
situation we now face. This strategy is a product of the Pentagon, not
the White House. And remember, the Pentagon is run by civilian
appoint ees in suits, not military men and women in uniform. From the
very beginning Defense Department officials failed to appreciate what
it would take to win this war.The US military has tried to support this
strategy because they are trained and instructed to be subordinate to
and obedient to civilian leadership. And the American people want it
that way. The last thing you want is a uniformed military accustomed
to debating in public the orders of their appointed civilian masters.
But retired generals and admirals are starting to speak out, to
criticize the strategy that has produced our current situation in Iraq.

But, if we continue to fight the war on the cheap, if we
continue to avoid involving the American people by asking them to make
any sacrifice at all, if we continue to spend our dollars on technology
while neglect ing the soldiers and Marines on the ground, and if we fail
to involve the full scope of the American government in rebuilding
Iraq, then we might as well quit, and come home. But, what we have now
is not a real strategy. It's business as usual."

Interesting read, I had not seen the part about the GDP comparisons before, that's an eye-opener. I think he's right on target with his complaints, and it's plain to see that our strategy was and is a failure.

But I also think we're at a point where it doesn't do much good to complain about the mistakes we've made, and that the only patriotic thing to do at this point is figure a way out. We don't have the numbers of troops we need to make peace in Iraq (if that was ever possible), so we need to figure a way out ASAP, even if that means leaving Iraq a bigger mess (less stability, more terrorists, more of a threat to US) than it was with Saddam in power.

I complain about what we have done as much as anybody, it may be the biggest blunder in American history. But the question for us is "What do we do now?" I hope James Baker has an answer, because we're going to do whatever his commission says. I'd be interested to hear what this General thinks we should do now...

Monday, November 13, 2006

U2 vs REM, Trio of Articles

For some reason, there are three recent articles about who was the "Band of the 80's":

U2 or REM?

Slate article
Stylus article
Stereogum article/comments

The Slate article was the first, and I think the others took it from there since that one was from a REM fan's viewpoint. The comments on Stereogum are interesting....lots of folks suggesting neither band and say it was the Pixies or the Smiths or Sonic Youth, etc. To these folks, I say: "Show me the hits!" I mean, to be the band of the decade, I think you need a hit, right?

You can't go underground for greatness, and perhaps, in the end, that is what seperated U2 from REM. U2 was always reaching for the stars, trying to be popular, while REM seemed more content with their spot on college radio (at least in the 80's).

I can speak of the 80's and these bands for that is what I know, man. In '83, I got War, Boy and October and a year later I was listening to Murmur and Chronic Town and then Fables of the Reconstruction. U2 was always my favorite, but as a Southern boy, REM got to me too. I loved them both! I followed their ascentions in the eyes of Rolling Stone magazine, and I was a pusher, too. Don't try to sell me that Flock of Seagulls fandom, U2 was different, and REM was really different.

I was surprised how quickly U2 took over the throne from the Police, who were at the top. Even before the Joshua Tree came out, Rolling Stone proclaimed U2 as Band of the 80's, and then they only got bigger. REM didn't really peak until the early 90's, so I'm going with U2 on this one (surprise!) For a couple of years in the early 90's, REM and U2 were twin powers of rock, but Nirvana and grunge took the spotlight. REM never really recovered and U2 took years in the wilderness (enjoyable experiments) before coming back to be the Big Band in 2000. U2 always seems to aim higher, and that brings some disappointments (new single, many Bono duets), but it also brings greatness (Beautiful Day, Vertigo, Fast Cars). Really though, with the Joshua Tree and Rattle & Hum, U2 were having GIANT successes that built to a peak by the end of the decade, making U2 the thinking man's choice for Band of the 80's.....they dominated, man!

And I don't think U2 is done making great music....amazing as it may be, I think some of their best work still lies ahead.

Now, who is the "Band of the Aughts?" It could be U2 again, man!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bush the Elder Looms

A recent New Yorker piece mentiones Robert Gates and Brent Scowcroft several times, a very interesting read given today's announcement.

"Colin Powell told me that he was not offended by Scowcroft’s public doubts. “The concern is cost—what are we getting ourselves into? That is not an unprincipled concern.” But the White House—in particular Rice—saw Scowcroft’s op-ed as a betrayal, and as a political problem: Scowcroft has a commanding voice on national-security matters. But there was another, more personal dimension. “What makes it even more awkward is the suspicion that he’s speaking not just for himself” but for the elder Bush as well, Robert Gates, who was Scowcroft’s deputy at the National Security Council, said. "

I blogged about this before
, and I'll probably bring it up again. The elder Bush looms large. Today was a big day. W. admitted that we have a problem and he's taking steps in the right direction. Gates sounds like a great pick, just wish we weren't in such a bad place....

Slate Calls Bono Out...

...and the US just doesn't care and that's fine with me. Business is business? I don't expect that from U2, but in this case, that looks like what we get.

"U2's tax-shelter scheme caused an uproar in Ireland when the story broke there in August. But it's scarcely raised a ripple in the United States. A conservative would argue that's because in this country, we don't begrudge a man the opportunity to keep what he earns off the sweat of his brow (or even off the sweat of someone else's brow ) … even if that man spends half his time trying to goad governments into spending more to alleviate poverty. But a liberal could answer that in the United States, we are so used to seeing rich people avoid taxation that even a wealthy hypocrite who shelters his cash abroad can no longer qualify as news."

and in other U2 news, here's the link to the new single (second link here)"Windows in the Skies" from the forthcoming U218 (Best of Best ofs)
I've listened twice, and at this point I'll just say I hoped for more from U2 and Rick Rubin. Ah, well....

Monday, November 06, 2006

"One" Bad Idea

This was ONE really bad idea (link to video, don't watch it all the way through, trust me) made worse by the new, even more earnest lyrics (about a bank merger no less).
While I give the guy credit for liking U2, and for really getting into it (a-hem), that was the worst portrayal of a U2 song ever, by anyone, by far... and an embarrassmet to capitalism in general.
The thing is, guys who go out and do rediculously stupid things like this are often successful at work. Go figure. (see the comments regarding this guy's business future)

Update: From the New York Times:

"On Tuesday, a lawyer for the Universal Music Publishing Group, a catalog owner and administrator, posted the text of a cease-and-desist letter in the comments section of, a Web site carrying the video. It contended that Bank of America had violated Universal’s copyright of the U2 song.

The two employees featured in the video were the guitarist, Jim Debois, a consumer market executive for Manhattan, and the singer, Ethan Chandler, a Manhattan banking center manager, who provoked much of the ridicule with his earnest interpretation and also for straying a bit far from U2’s lyrics with lines like “Integration has never had us feeling so good/and we’ll make lots of money.”"

Friday, November 03, 2006

Luddite Voting Machine

"Mary Cooney, a Broward County Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman, informed The Miami Herald that it's "not uncommon for screens on heavily used machines to slip out of sync, making votes register incorrectly. Poll workers are trained to recalibrate them on the spot -- essentially, to realign the video screen with the electronics inside. The 15-step process is outlined in the poll-workers manual." Huh? How exactly does a computer -- one that is being used heavily for one day a year, and not a $100 PDA -- "slip out of sync" ? Further, no one in Broward County is even sure how large of a problem this is "because there's no process for poll workers to quickly report minor issues, and no central database of machine problems." Is it any wonder that major candidates are urging voters to vote the analog old-fashioned way? "

Solution: Paper Ballot, pencils
Just because we (may) have the ability to use computers to vote does not mean we should. Let's do it the old-fashioned, proven way.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Cut and Stayed?

Great line from one of the many articles like this....
"Keeping foreign troops in Iraq will not "prevent civil war", as if they were doing that now. They are largely preoccupied with defending their fortress bases, their presence offering target practice for insurgents and undermining any emergent civil authority in Baghdad or the provinces. American and British troops may be in occupation but they are not in power.

They have not cut and run,

but rather
cut and stayed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Better Voting Machine

Wired waxes on and on about how to simplify the technology of the voting booth. They propose eliminating memory cards ("To prevent someone from tampering with the cards, workers are supposed to place tamper-evident tape over the memory-card compartment. But workers often forget to install the tape or take proper action when they discover that the tape over a compartment has been broken.") and simplifying the computer code ("If you've got 50,000 lines of code, that's approaching the complexity of the U.S. tax code").

I dare to ask, can we not just use pencils? There's your hard copy!

Kite Power

"Researchers in Italy have high hopes for a new wind-power generator that resembles a backyard drying rack on steroids. Despite its appearance, the Kite Wind Generator, or KiteGen for short, could produce as much energy as a nuclear power plant. Here's how it works: When wind hits the KiteGen, kites spring from funnels at the ends of poles. For each kite, winches release a pair of high-resistance cables to control direction and angle. The kites are not your Saturday-afternoon park variety but similar to those used for kite surfing -- light and ultra-resistant, capable of reaching an altitude of 2,000 meters."

This is smart thinking, alternative sources of energy like kites will make a difference. One source of energy we could potentially tap is gravity....there's gotta be a way.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sting Gives Up

"BERLIN (Reuters) - Sting said contemporary rock music is so stagnant that he prefers to sing 16th century English ballads.

The former teacher who shot to fame as lead singer, bassist and composer in the 1970s and 80s for The Police told German newspaper Die Zeit that he prefers singing songs of Elizabethan lutenist and composer John Dowland to the rock music of today.

His album of Dowland lute music "Songs from the Labyrinth" has topped classical charts on both sides of the Atlantic and entered the UK album chart at No. 24."

Well, maybe if some of the big rock stars out there sang rock music, it wouldn't be so stagnant, Mr. Sting. But no, some egotistical rock stars quit their good band, go on to release whiny white boy reggae/jazz fluff, do commercials for upscale car companies, and brag of sexual prowess, before giving it all up and doing albums of "Dowland lute music". Sting is through with rock and he admits it....finally, 20 years after the fact.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

James Baker: Our Best Hope

James Baker....the man who does the tough jobs for George W.:

"In the face of this disaster — on the ground and in the public’s mind — someone has to tell the president the truth, and James Baker was made for the role. A Bush family loyalist his whole career, he served George the Elder as secretary of state, and then, after the 2000 election, captained the legal team that made George the Younger president.

The Iraq Study group (which Baker co-chairs with Democrat Lee Hamilton) is a strange animal, created by Congress and a bunch of think tanks. Its recommendations would probably disappear on a dusty shelf except for one thing: the widespread belief that Baker is acting with the blessing of his old friend, Bush 41.

There’s a long and complex history here. Bush the Elder refuses to criticize his son in public, but after the first Persian Gulf War, he made clear his view that invading Iraq was a dreadful idea. Baker shares that opinion, and wrote recently that deposing Saddam Hussein after the 1991 conflict would have triggered a civil war and left the United States confronting “a military occupation of indefinite duration.”

Bush the Younger obviously didn’t listen to these prescient warnings. Instead he picked a defense secretary, Don Rumsfeld, who his father deeply distrusted, and made invading Iraq the keystone of his presidency."

Look for more goodness from these guys when we can be more thruthful. You know, after the election.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bono Brings Bush Babe

Bono and Bush meet again...

"President Bush stands atop the ramp to Air Force One with rock singer Bono and former model Christy Turlington at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago Thursday, Oct. 12, 2006. They had an impromptu meeting about AIDS relief on Air Force One before Bush returned to Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) "

Sunday, October 15, 2006

British Pop Monitor

"Yeah, who are they to be charitable and do good things for people in need?" seems to be the theme running through this article in Christian Science Monitor by the esteemed staff writer Scott Baldauf.
He's not as smart as his bio suggests and this simple mistake blows his whole argument if you ask me:

"British pop singer Bono, of the rock group U2, has set up a Washington-based pressure group called DATA, which lobbies in the halls of Congress and in European capitals for debt relief among Africa's poorest nations. He's also launched high-end "ethical clothing" labels that promise fair working conditions in African textile factories."

Stick with the meaty stories, dude. British pop singer, please! Look what Bono has convinced these corporations to do....RED

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

300 Million

We will surpass 300 Million folks here in the USA this month. A couple of interesting facts:

"an analysis of Census Bureau data conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies indicates that the first half of this decade – 2000 to 2005 – has been the highest five-year period of immigration in American history and that nearly half of post-2000 arrivals are illegal."

and this can't be good for Mexico:
approximately 10 percent of Mexico's population of about 107 million people is now living in the United States, and roughly 15 percent of that country’s labor force is working in America."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Vertigo - New Orleans-style

Click here to see the Edge and a band in New Orleans give a different life to Vertigo. Hola!
And don't forget to check out Music Rising....they're bringin' New Orleans back

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ying Yang vs Short Rug

By Mark Clayton, The Christian Science Monitor:

"The US Department of Energy (DOE) is quitting the hydropower and geothermal power research business - if Congress will let it....
Declaring them "mature technologies" that need no further funding, the Bush administration in its FY 2007 budget request eliminates hydropower and geothermal research, venerable programs with roots in the energy crises of the 1970s."

The US gov't subsidizes oil exploration out the ying yang, but now, when Bush says we want to cut dependence on oil (for national security reasons), we pull the short rug from under these somewhat proven technologies?

Another Modest War

Rory O'Connor at AlterNet has some good thoughts:

"Call me a stickler for details but … doesn't our Constitution vest in the Congress the exclusive power to declare war? .... Beginning with Korea, our presidents have avoided seeking formal congressional declarations of war, instead maintaining that they have the constitutional authority, as commander in chief to use the military for "police actions."....
We've now been at (undeclared) war longer than the entirety of World War II. The war against Al Qaeda has progressively morphed into the War against Iraq, to the Global War on Terror, all the way to the "early stages" of the Clash of Civilizations. Yet it appears that the entire enterprise is not only illegal but also unconstitutional at its core.
I therefore have a modest proposal aimed at rectifying this situation: Let's declare war!"

The founders gave the power to declare war to the Congress for a reason....and I think we can all see why now. One commenter says:

"It should be known that every Congressperson who voted for giving the president the right to wage war without a formal declaration of war is guilty of violating his oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. It would be well for the American people to recognize the full complicity of every section of our government in this deliberate violation of the Constitution. They should recognize that this violation of their rights is not only killing Iraqis but killing Americans and looting our treasury."

We should have done this "war" by the book...that is, you know, the Constitution.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Yahoo! Edge by Bono

Yahoo!'s new YouTube-like service debuts today, with a short Edge "Day in the Life" by Bono. Enjoy:

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Originally uploaded by jasontheexploder.

He's at Abbey Road, with U2!... Oh, what a dream!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

War is over....

...if you want it.

Radley Balko (Cato):

"James Fallows begins in the cover story of this month's Atlantic Monthly, with what I think is the single most important article written since Sept. 11. Fallows spoke with 60 experts in foreign policy, security, national defense, and terrorism, from all political ideologies.

We should take heart in what he found: Al Qaeda is a shadow of what it once was. The group's central organization has been dismantled. Its main sources of funding have been castrated. Its leaders are on the run, and their ability to organize and communicate severely disrupted. Yes, the loose-knit groups of cells that remain can still pull off attacks, and can still kill significant numbers of people. But so can just about any nut in America with a cause and some determination.

The only real threat Al Qaeda still poses, Fallows concludes, is how it can provoke us. "[Al Qaeda's] hopes for fundamentally harming the United States now rest less on what it can do itself than on what it can trick, tempt, or goad us into doing," Fallows writes. "Its destiny is no longer in its own hands."

This is the one thing — the most important thing — our elected leaders and public officials need to learn. Because it's the only cache the terrorists still have. Americans need to realize that we, Americans, determine the success of failure of future terrorists attacks and attempted attacks. If the goal of terrorists, by definition, is to induce panic, fear, and to disrupt our way of life, the best way to defuse them is to refuse to panic, to resist irrational fears, and to retain the open society and civil liberties that make us who we are."

We are our own worst enemy at this point, but we can make it right. We're not where I wanted us to be 5 years down the line, not by a long shot, but we have made real progress against Al Qaeda. If we can stop terrorizing ourselves, we can lay claim to victory.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mack's Godzillatron

Olbermann Obsesses on Fearrorism

Keith Olbermann is my favorite newscaster these days...some of his insights are better than others, but I like his take on the news. Check out this video the see Fearrorism in action.

Scuderi Scoots

"Those models show the combustion in a Scuderi engine will be not only more powerful than conventional engines; it will also, surprisingly, be cooler. That means it will spew out far fewer pollutants than today's engines do.

The Scuderi engine could even boost mileage by recapturing energy normally lost during braking, as do hybrid cars. "Unlike current electric hybrids which store the energy in a battery, we are able to store energy in the form of compressed air," says Sal Scuderi. That can be done by simply adding a small air-storage tank, which costs far less than the generators and banks of batteries gas-electric hybrids need."

Yes! Radical new designs that can double efficiency...good stuff!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Jordi, can you give these guys a hand?

"A radical new project could permit human beings to create a "baby universe" in a laboratory in Japan. While it sounds like a dangerous undertaking, the physicists involved believe that if the project is successful, the space-time around a tiny point within our universe will be distorted in such a way that it will begin to form a new superfluid space, and eventually break off, separate in all respects from our experience of space and time, causing no harm to the fabric of our universe."

Um, yeah, can we maybe not do this? How sure are we about the "causing no harm to the fabric of our universe" part? That sounds important...


"Then I came across an article -- penned in 2004 actually -- that brought up a few things I don't remember seeing in my frantic hunt for information in the past several days.

According to the piece, lightning strikes, accidents caused by deer and allergic reactions to peanuts have killed more Americans than terrorism has. And, the number of U.S. citizens that drown in bathtubs each year is more than those who die annually worldwide because of terrorism.

You don't hear stats like these too often, and I'm not sure how relevant they even are ..."
From Alternet

I know it's like comparing apples and oranges, but these stats are worth noting.... Maybe we have overreacted and attacked the wrong enemy? Maybe it is better to stand tall, defend our own borders and take care of our own security first, while setting a "shining city on the hill" example for the rest of the world?

And the nukes....that's the thing that could mess up the aformentioned stats....

That's why the people and Congress allowed the Iraq invasion...fear of the nukes. But they didn't have them, at, it was their neighbors who were about to get the bomb. Oops.
Oh, and Pakistan has it too, but that's OK for them and oh yeah, India too, yeah, they're in. Israel anyone?
I fear the genie has escaped the bottle, and I fear that one day, terror will overtake bathtub drownings.

HumanCar for "Flintstones" of the future

Weeeee! This looks like fun and, bonus, it's enviro-friendly. Batteries included. Did I mention they're going over 60 MPH! Yeah, it's downhill, but still....
Click the link
and watch them row this thing...

Thanks Engadget

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Transforming Grid

From CSM:

"" Long accused of dragging its feet on raising energy-efficiency standards for products, the Bush administration has proposed its first such standard.

Its proposal attracted little attention, since it didn't mean better dishwashers or more fuel-efficient cars. Instead, it deals with transformers - those ubiquitous gray canisters that hang from utility poles and could save the nation billions of dollars if they were upgraded."

Well thank goodness! This is a great way to save energy and upgrade the grid at the same time. Bush is brilliant....well, I've got to give him credit here, this is a smart step in the right direction.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Barber-Carr: Champions!

Check out this link to read about Uncle Freeman and Watts III winning the Bald Head Island Member-Member Tournament. Wow!

Courthouse Cafe

Courthouse Cafe, originally uploaded by Watts4.

Live from Burgaw

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Oceanic Thinking

"There is an inevitable hypnosis in watching the waves arrive and depart, and, equally inevitable, there is a confrontation with the fact that this flowing and ebbing goes on with sublime indifference to your every measure of time or meaning. How long has this been going on? And what could ever stop it? Normal notions of past and future simply do not apply at the water's edge, which makes your prevailing obsession with yesterday and tomorrow seem petty, all at once. The present is your only absolute, but the radical transience of the waves makes you see that the present, too, is an act of your imagination. The boundlessness of the ocean is a sacrament of timelessness. "

Deep thoughts from a beach lover...

Over It


At a law school Supreme Court conference that I attended last fall, there was a panel on “The Rehnquist Court.” No one mentioned Bush v. Gore, the most historic case of William Rehnquist’s time as chief justice, and during the Q. and A. no one asked about it. When I asked a prominent law professor about this strange omission, he told me he had been invited to participate in another Rehnquist retrospective, and was told in advance that Bush v. Gore would not be discussed.

The ruling that stopped the Florida recount and handed the presidency to George W. Bush is disappearing down the legal world’s version of the memory hole, the slot where, in George Orwell’s “1984,” government workers disposed of politically inconvenient records. The Supreme Court has not cited it once since it was decided, and when Justice Antonin Scalia, who loves to hold forth on court precedents, was asked about it at a forum earlier this year, he snapped, “Come on, get over it.”"

Interesting read from the "dreaded" NYT, but that case certainly made its mark on history. Did you know the justices stipulated that the case could not be used as a precident? What does this mean, exactly, and do they have that power? Read the article for more...

Pre-fossil Fuel to the rescue?

"Farmyard animals are not being yoked together to pull cars but the fat in their bodies is being converted into biodiesel to drive fleets of the future.

The fat, or tallow, from one poor deceased sheep will produce about eight litres of biodiesel.

That's about 6 1/2 sheep to fill the tank of Holden's Astra diesel hatchback, meaning you'll get about 105km out of one animal on Holden's published fuel economy figures.

Pigs are better for travelling longer distances, with one unfortunate beast giving Astra drivers about 140km. "

This is pushing biodiesel to a whole new level.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sure, we got yer WMDs...

"I nearly fell off my chair while reading the local newspaper two days ago. There it was. Newsflash headline:
Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq had WMD"

Amitabh Pal had a similar reaction to mine when he (she?) came across this story. Makes me glad more people don't vote.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Clinton>Bush on Budget

"Cumulative growth in federal expenditures, adjusted for inflation, during the Clinton years actually shrunk by 1.1 percent. Yet, in the Bush first term, it rose 15 percent. "During President Bush's first five years in office, the federal government increased by $616 billion," Viguerie writes. "That's a mammoth 33 percent jump in the size of the federal government in just his first five years! To put this in perspective, this increase of $616 billion is more than the entire federal budget in Jimmy Carter's last years in office. And conservatives were complaining about Big Government back then! How can Bush, (Dennis) Hastert, (Bill) Frist and company look us in the eye and tell us they are fiscal conservatives when in five short years they increased the already-bloated government by more than the budget for the entire federal government when Ronald Reagan was assuming office?" "

A-hem. what manner, Mr. President?

Tidal Power

"How shall we ever slake our ever-growing demand for electricity? Even as concerns about global warming escalate, are we doomed to create more of the same old polluting, coal- and oil-dependent power plants? Or can common sense — and some radically new technologies — serve us better?

There's much talk of wind and solar power. But how about the oceans and their massive tidal and current patterns? Driven by the gravitational force of the sun and the moon, tides and currents represent a source that's as infinite and everlasting as any force on Earth."

This makes sense. There's plenty of "free" power out there to tap into, and that's why power storage (batteries) and delivery (the power grid) are integral to weaning away from fossil fuel.

Our Greatest Achievement...

"Call it "one small mistake by somebody, one giant loss for mankind."

The original magnetic tapes that recorded the iconic images of man's first footsteps on the moon are missing and scientists fear they are in danger of deteriorating into dust unless they are found quickly and converted to digital format.

Australian scientists at the Parkes Observatory and the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station in Australia have launched an intensive effort to find nearly 700 boxes of original, high quality slow-scan TV tapes used to capture the Apollo 11 landing on July 21, 1969. "

Um....hello? Mankind's greatest moment yet....and we lose the "original" video. At least we'll always have the rocks...

clie drawing

clie drawing, originally uploaded by Watts4.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

George Watts Carr Jr. dies at 87

My Grandfather was a mighty good man:

" The eldest son of the renowned Durham architect of the same name, Carr's civic involvement reached into almost every corner of Durham, notably during the turbulent civil rights era.

The six-year City Council member had just lost the 1963 mayoral election to Wense Grabarek in the midst of sit-ins across Durham when the new mayor asked him to chair a Committee for Racial Conciliation to help ease local tensions.

Within a few weeks, Grabarek remembered, Carr had helped facilitate voluntary desegregation across Durham, a year before the federal Civil Rights Act passed Congress and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

"He had a very special intellect, tenacity and diligence," Grabarek said. The race the two ran for mayor was forthright, issues-oriented and stayed pleasant through countless debates across Durham, he said.

"We always shook hands after each debate," Grabarek said. "Watts Carr was the consummate gentleman."

Carr spent nearly three years in the Pacific Theater as a Marine during World War II, emerging with two bronze stars and an eventual rank of colonel in the Inactive Reserve.

He and his first cousin and lifelong friend, Al Carr, joined the Marines at the same time but were placed in different units. Although Al Carr remembered being ready to talk about their war experiences at war's end, his cousin was never very forthcoming about it, something Al Carr attributes to modesty that extended throughout his life.

"He never bragged about a damn thing," Al Carr said. "He just never wanted to expound on what his accomplishments were."

The 1940 UNC graduate retained a passion for the school, leading the General Alumni Association after having served as class vice-president and playing basketball as a student.

"He loved basketball as good as anyone," Al Carr said."

Click these links for more:



Monday, July 31, 2006

Ped Power

From Wired:

"We can harvest between 5 to 7 watts of energy per footstep that is currently being wasted into the ground," says Claire Price, director of The Facility Architects, the British firm heading up the Pacesetters Project. "And a passing train can generate very useful energy to run signaling or to power lights."

Like solar and wind proponents, vibration harvesters argue that abundant, clean energy is all around us and goes to waste. The challenge is how to store the power efficiently so it provides a continual output even if the vibrations from footsteps or passing trains temporarily taper off."

Energy is abundant, if we can harness the vibrations of feet walking, just think how much power we could generate from say ocean waves, gravity...even about lightning? Energy is all around, it's just a matter of harnessing and storing it. Battery technology and the power grid are two areas where we should spend more money and make revolutionary improvements that will set us free from fossil fuel.

Bono Blows for Murdoch

July 28, 2006
posted by: m2

Bono will deliver the keynote address next week at the annual management conference put on by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The event starts Sunday in Pebble Beach, California -- not open to the public, sorry. Other speakers on the agenda include California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator John McCain, former Vice President Al Gore, and Bill and Hillary Clinton."

Impressive list of speakers, and of course the Bono is the keynote. Line them up!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Friday, July 28, 2006

3rd try

3rd try
Originally uploaded by watts4u2.

for the watts4u2 blog

Who's a Hero?

"Thomas Carlyle, the 19th-century Scottish historian, said: "Society is founded on hero worship." Historically, that may once have been true. It may even be true of other societies today. It certainly isn't true of America. We are a society of celebrity worshipers, voyeurs of the rich and famous. We are infatuated by celebrities. We idolize them. We grovel in their presence. We try to look and be like them. We mistake them for heroes. To most of us, who you are and know is much more important than what you do or stand for.

Celebrities, though, are qualitatively quite different than heroes, markedly inferior to them in fact. The celebrity is nothing but a person of celebrity, well known for his well-knownness (as historian Daniel Boorstin put it), famous for being famous. Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, and Walter Cronkite are celebrities. Michael Jordan, Barry Bonds, and Tiger Woods are celebrities. So too Bill Gates, Ted Turner, and Donald Trump, Bob Dole and Jesse Jackson, even John McCain and Colin Powell.

Heroes, in contrast, are transcendent, mythic, seemingly superhuman figures who combine greatness with goodness. They may have charisma, presence, and "gravitas"; they must demonstrate courage, vision, and character—selfless character. Heroes have stature, if not size. Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel come quickly to mind."

Interesting read on our culture of celebrity. I couldn't help but e-mail the author and suggest Bono.... here's the reply:

"Indeed, Bono is more than just an entertainer. He's doing good deeds. Not sure he's of heroic stature--yet, anyway--but maybe that will come.

Thanks for the thought,

Greg F."