mr. zilla goes to town

Thursday, April 26, 2007

another day at the office for curious george

WASHINGTON - As the Democrat-controlled Congress and the White House clash over an Iraq spending bill, with President Bush vowing to veto it because it contains withdrawal deadlines, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that a solid majority of Americans side with the Democrats.



The pessimism about the war has also likely contributed to the country's overall sour mood. According to the poll, only 22 percent believe the country is on the right track. That's the lowest number on this question since October 1992, when Bush father's was running for a second term — and lost.


Houston, we have a monkey...

Saturday, March 31, 2007

it was a squash ball, not a hicksie

The Age:
Military judge Colonel Ralph Kohlmann asked Hicks if he agreed that he had "never been illegally treated by any persons in the control or custody of the United States" during his detention in Afghanistan and subsequent transfer to the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

Hicks replied, "yes."

Emphasis added, because a man shut up in a cell barely able to see his OWN lawyer for the last five years is the best person to determine whether the conduct of the US government is illegal. How this matter of fact can be determined by plea bargain is beyond me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

the accountability 10-minute-moment

Yeah yeah. Abu Gonzales, unwarranted wiretaps, radical politicization of the Department of Justice, underminings of the underpinnings of the very rule of law in the United States.

Wha'ever.

Come warm yourself by the fire and watch GSA muppet Lurita Doan feel the chinese water torture of congressional oversight. Maybe it's just because I used to have to be at Senate Estimates hearings in Canberra, so this gives me a right old laugh.

Seriously though... I just spent a three weeks in Kenya where it's been estimated that 8% of GDP gets flushed down the toilet due to corruption, and by some measures this is one of the better countries in Africa. Entrenched political corruption is the very reason DFID are about to pour GBP 100 million at NGOs - 85% of which pass to southern partner organisations - for their Governance and Transparency Fund later this year.

This video is shocking to me because we're seeing something so shameless in the USA, finally exposed to a little sunlight after over half a decade of the Republican congress's wilful ignorance and coverups. So fuck you very much for lowering the bar so far.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

with clouds

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Sky first, then shoes.


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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

excuses, excuses

Busy busy busy. Excuses excuses, take 'em as read... now stop wasting your time here and go enjoy the stunning new photography online at Ms Z's Wisteria Station.

This is possibly my favourite, but the images caught in Paris in the December archive aren't to be missed either.

Friday, January 12, 2007

a letter from guantanamo

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba —

I AM WRITING from the darkness of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo in the hope that I can make our voices heard by the world. My hand quivers as I hold the pen.


Read it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ISG report hailed

Borowitz (via Surfdom):
Just days after the Iraq Study Group issued their downbeat assessment of the war on Iraq, Iraqi insurgents announced that they have formed their own study group and have released their own report, one that offers a much rosier picture of the Iraqi conflict.

The Insurgents Study Group, a collection of ten elder insurgents charged with the duty of assessing the war from the insurgents’ point of view, today issued a 147-page report which became an instant bestseller among insurgent readers across Iraq.

“The war in Iraq is going great and is improving every day,” the Insurgents Study Group’s report begins.

In contrast to the Iraq Study Group’s report, which advocates that the United States and its allies change their strategy in Iraq, the Insurgents Study Group recommends “not changing a thing.”

“As insurgents, our strategy could be summarized in three words,” the report concludes. “Stay the course.”

Sad innit.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

black gold of the sun

Two German scientists, Dr Gerhard Knies and Dr Franz Trieb, calculate that covering just 0.5% of the world's hot deserts with a technology called concentrated solar power (CSP) would provide the world's entire electricity needs, with the technology also providing desalinated water to desert regions as a valuable byproduct, as well as air conditioning for nearby cities.

CSP technology is not new. There has been a plant in the Mojave desert in California for the past 15 years. Others are being built in Nevada, southern Spain and Australia. There are different forms of CSP but all share in common the use of mirrors to concentrate the sun's rays on a pipe or vessel containing some sort of gas or liquid that heats up to around 400C (752F) and is used to power conventional steam turbines.

The mirrors are very large and create shaded areas underneath which can be used for horticulture irrigated by desalinated water generated by the plants. The cold water that can also be produced for air conditioning means there are three benefits. "It is this triple use of the energy which really boost the overall energy efficiency of these kinds of plants up to 80% to 90%," says Dr Knies.

This form of solar power is also attractive because the hot liquid can be stored in large vessels which can keep the turbines running for hours after the sun has gone down, avoiding the problems association with other forms of solar power.


Read the whole thing. And then can someone please explain to me why there's a desperate need to spend the next 40 years building nuclear reactors in Australia?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

military jazztice

Even Military bands, although I am a pacifist, cheer me up.
Kurt Vonnegut

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
Groucho Marx

As you can see, the value of military music divides some of the greatest thinkers of the modern age. Military musicians, on the other hand, are a wholly less controversial topic - especially when you can point to the example of Salah Ragab, who double-timed as a bandmaster in the army of Nasser, as well as founding the Cairo Jazz Band. You can hear a small sample of his work on the latest textureDJs podcast. Also, other ace music.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

single-source-solution sickness

A single government enquiry designed to pave the way for the adoption of nuclear energy in Australia, rather than work from first principles to discuss the full range of options and alternatives in a progressive national energy portfolio? It's like offering a no-bid contract to Halliburton: there's no doubt they've got the capacity for large scale service delivery, but by failing to consider all options, you've boxed yourself in for a shellacking down the line.

Oh yeah, and John Howard now comes on board with the idea Australia is a part of Asia, and not in fact situated in the mid-Atlantic? Welcome to 1994, ya wally.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

we must destroy the rule of law... in order to save it!

Thick as a tin of treacle you left in the fridge by accident one night on the turps, that's Ralph Peters in the New York Post:
To master Iraq now - if it could be done - we'd have to fight every faction except the Kurds. Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to kill mass murderers and cold-blooded executioners on the spot? If not, we can't win, no matter what else we do.

Yes, yes! Because extra-judicial executions of captives is just the ticket for defeating an insurgency and bring hope of victory on the home front! You frickin' moron!


Robert McNamara, and his mea maxima culpa over Vietnam:

We failed then as we have since to recognize the limitations of modern high technology military equipment and forces in doctrine in confronting unconventional highly motivated people's movements...

...our misjudgments of friend and foe alike reflected our profound ignorance of a history, culture and politics of the people in that area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.

We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of large scale U.S. military involvement.

...we didn't recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are on a mission. To this day we seem to act in the world as though we know what's right for everybody. We think we're on a mission. We aren't. We weren't then and we aren't today. And where our own security is at stake, I'm prepared to say act unilaterally, militarily. Where our security is not at stake, not directly at stake, narrowly defined, then I believe that our judgement of what is in another people's interest, should be put to the test of open discussion, open debate, and international forum. And we shouldn't act unilaterally militarily under any circumstances. And we shouldn't act militarily in conjunction with others until that debate has taken place. We don't have the God-given right to shape every nation to our own image.

(applause)

Well, you can clap but we're still trying to do it, and that's sad.

This speech was given in 1995.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

he's back.

Part the I, Rusmfeld redux: Bush picks out of retirement a flunky of his father's who has a usefully vague memory around Iran-Contra and was known to politically massage intelligence.

Part the IIeux, seafood reflux: whale sushi is on the menu. I suspect the delusionary would enjoy the odd bite.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

from the kosophere

I know some of my 17 readers aren't quite so cut to the quick on US politics as I am, though you'd be hard pressed to live on this planet and not notice the rout (some would say: thumping) that went on last night across the pond. I mean shit, you kick George Bush in the arse and Donald Rumsfeld gets a bloody nose: who woulda thought?

I'm one lazy mofo of a blogger though, and I'll get back to referencing/linking these quotes from dailykos writers tomorrow, but here's the gist.

Not only did we take the Senate, take the House, and destroyed Republicans at the state legislative level, but we didn't lose a single senate seat, we didn't lose any House seats, we didn't lose any governorships, we didn't lose any state legislatures. It was a rout of epic proportions.

Democrats are now the one-party government in 15 states -- including New Hampshire for the first time since 1874, and Colorado for the first time since 1960. No party has controlled as many as 15 states since the Republicans achieved that exact number after the 1994 election.

When you can't get an abortion ban passed in freakin' South Dakota, America isn't trending conservative. When you can't get a gay marriage ban passed in Arizona, America isn't trending conservative. When opposition to gay marriage bans was more than 40% in 5 of the 8 bans that passed, America isn't trending conservative. When a majority of Americans choose Democrats to represent them, America isn't trending conservative.

The question about conservatism has always been could it mature enough as a governing philosophy to replace 20th century progressivism, and provide America with a true alternative governing approach? The Bush era has answered that question, and the answer is no. Given the extraordinary failure of conservative government to do the very basics - keeping us safe, fostering broad-based prosperity, protecting our liberties, balancing the books and not breaking the law - history will label this 20th century conservatism a success as a critique of 20th century progressivism, but a failure as a governing philosophy. It never matured into something more than an ivory-tower led and Limbaugh-fed correction to a progressivism that had lost its way.

Despite the many billions spent in building this modern conservative movement, history will label it a grand and remarkable failure. And we will look back at 2006 as the year this most recent period of American history - the conservative ascendency - ended.


You got it? This is a shutout to end all shutouts. The cleanest sheet since the puritans boarded the frickin' Mayflower. Not ONE Democratic incumbent got 86'ed. That is one hell of a powerful swing - think of Robert De Niro as Al Capone wielding baseball bat to the back of the head. Good night.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

an end to the clash of ciggalizations?