Friday, April 28, 2006

Return of Friday Night Music Blogging!

I was extra busy last Friday and I'm a bit worn out this Friday night too. So I figured something a little different was in order.... Instrumentals. Not just classical or techno or old music without the lyrics. There were a lot I wanted to add, but I selected a few. Hope you enjoy!

Nickel Creek - Ode To A butterfly - Bluegrass
Miles Davis - What I Say - Jazz - This song was recorded live! It just blows me away. I would have loved to have seen something like this.
Kaki King - Ingots - Out of this world acoustic guitar - I've had the privelage of seeing Kaki live and the recording of this song doesn't so it justice. There's some added drum and cymbols, but that main base beat is her playing it on the guitar with the palm of her picking hand. Unreal? Yes.
Alice In Chains - Whale And Wasp - Hard to imagine that's all rock baby.
Vince Guaraldi Trio - Christmas Is Coming More jazz, more mellow than old Miles.
Pavement - Range Life - Alt. Rock - You know Pavement and Stephen Malkmus as the indie alt. rockers of yor, but I don't know what you classify this song under.

And the bonus song tonight:Postal Service - Natural Anthem - Lap Pop - A bonus because it starts and makes you think it's going to be an instrumental, but those last few words at the end...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

President Bush & Prime Minister Blair comitted to war two months before the Iraqi invasion.

I was reading some of the news and politics blogs on myspace and I happen to come across this news article on BBC. I was very surprised that I haven't even heard of this until then. No news coverage, nothing. In my opinion, this is a media gold mine. It is basically a memo that states Bush and Blair had intentions of invading Iraq derived from private conversations between the two. Now this doesn't surpirse me one bit knowing Bush, it was obvious he was set on the path to war but here is the proof. What was really scary was this comment

"The US "was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours", Mr Bush said.

If Saddam fired on them, the Iraqis would be in breach of UN resolutions, he suggested."

Provoking Saddam into the open in order to justify war much better. Pretty sick, and yet this administration was re-elected. What I find unfathomable is that this administration hasn't undergone any type of impeachment. The things this administration is doing is a hundred times worse than anything clinto never did. Such a shame.

Chernobyl's Kidd of Speed

With the 20 year anniversry of Chernobyl, I figured I'd toss in my 2 cents.

I came across the Kidd of Speed site a few years ago. It has been claimed to be a hoax and I'm sure you can imagine why. The original site is here and you can read Elena's tale of events surrounding the controversy here. Look through the pictures of Ghost Town and the follow up Land of Wolves.

I was stunned when I read and looked through the site for the first time. I was doing research on large scale environmental disasters and this site popped up in one my searches. I didn't really know what to expect but I remember I spent a long time going over the material. If you want a first hand look, you'll get it on Kidd of Speed. It puts anything the MSM has put out about Chernobyl this week to shame.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Need to Move on Biodiesel

ADM breaks ground on it first fully biodiesel plant. There needs to be more of a push for biodiesel. According to the National Biodiesel Board there are 53 current biodiesel plants, 40 plants under construction with 4 plants making expansions, and 24 plants in the planning/pre-construction phase. For comparision sake, a list of U.S. oil refineries and the production. Biodiesel isn't anywhere close to comparison.

Biodiesel is beginning to get out there and I hope it's popularity continues to grow. It's not readily available in all areas. I wouldn't mind running one, but it's not exactly an everyday item. A map and list of retail biodiesel stations in the U.S. from the NBB.

It amazes me that George Washington Carver and Henry Ford first came up with the concept of using peanut oil to power diesel engines back in the 1930's. Back then, it wasn't cost efficient or practical and I don't think they were very preoccupied with eco-friendly fuels. You would think 70+ years of technology would have moved things along a little faster. I wonder why it hasn't caught on? Biodiesel Michigan has a great segment from a History Channel show about George Washington Carver, Biodiesel, and Henry Ford. I saw the show when it originally aired and this clip gives a great history on biodiesel. Watch it here.

On related news, my favorite quote from George W. Bush's speech on Energy today:
"And so we're strongly committed to corn-based ethanol produced in America. Yet there -- you just got to recognize there are limits to how much corn can be used for ethanol. After all, we got to eat some. And the animals have got to eat."
That's so eloquent. Bring on the Biodiesel!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Learn About Net Neutrality Now

The Agonist is ont top of this. Net Neutrality is HUGE. Don't slink behind your screen or keyboard. Send that email or CALL your senators and congresspeople. It dosn't matter how young or old you are, or what race you are, or what religion you are, what political party you represent, you can call your representative AND TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Iranians fire artillery at Kurds in Iraq

Link on the title and more at Khaleej Times which references this Reuters article.

Crossing borders, active fighting, in an international powder keg. Iran has a right to defend their country, but by crossing its borders into another country? Would Iran have done this while Saddam was in power? Is this considered part of "War on Terror"?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Trump Park

That's a pretty amazing plan. If Trump bought that land for $2 million back in the 90's, imagine it's current value. All I can say is that I'm impressed. In today's age, you'll get a story about the wealthy donating large sums of money to a charity. You don't really hear about people donating entire parks. For someone who normally develops land, I applaud Trump in maintaining green space.

Another Reason to Like Costco

It's too bad the rest of big business and the federal government isn't taking notes. They could learn something.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

McClellan is Out, Rove's Job Switches Focus

White House Press Secretary has to be one of the most frustrating jobs out there. I'm really amazed that McClellan lasted so long admist so much controversy.

The part of this article that intrigues me is:
"As for Rove -- the powerful architect of Bush's two presidential campaigns -- a senior White House official told CNN that Rove will no longer focus on policy but will be involved in long-term strategic planning as a deputy chief of staff and a senior adviser."
Long-term strategic planning? How do you focus on long-term strategic planning and are not involved with policy?

And I'm not sure what to make of the rumor mill surround Tony Snow as the replacement. Makes sense since Fox News Radio is already the mouthpiece for this admin.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Night Music Blogging

Tonight I figured I'd link to a few great videos. With all the money the music industry throws at videos, it's amazing how generic and repetative so many turn out.

Tool's Sober and Aenema. That's some dark claymation/stop motion animation. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but the little guy in Sober does some freaky head and hand shaking in the video. I remember seeing this in a Marilyn Manson video a few years later. And a few years after that, that effect turned up in House on Haunted Hill. It's been in other places, but that Tool video is the first I remember seeing it.

Pearl Jam's Do The Evolution. They had Todd McFarlane do the animation on this one, after the movie Spawn came out. It's still pretty cool.

Run DMC Vs. Jason Nevins It's Like That. All right, it's cliche. West Side Story started it out. The horrid You Got Served a few years ago. But that song is awesome and it reminds me of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo".

Two from Kenna: Hell Bent and Free Time. I'd only seen each on TV a handful of times, but they're both great videos. Funny how they both kind of have the same message.

And last up, the White Stripes' Fell in Love with a Girl because I was never that skilled with Legos. As a bonus, this live clip from when the Stripes hosted an entire week of Conan O'Brien back in April 24th, 2003. I remember watching it on TV and came across the clip, so enjoy: Let's Build a Home/Goin' Back to Memphis/John the Revelator.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

White House stands by Rumsfeld in light of Ex-Generals' Comments

See how easy it is? Remeber how this guy did it?

I don't quite understand how you can tender a resignation (twice?) and then not have it accepted. If you quit a job, then you quit a job. You give your two weeks notice and then you stop showing up. This isn't the first time people have spoke out against the war. You'd think that the opinions of those who were involved with the act of carrying out the operations and overseeing their completion would carry some weight.

UPDATE: More generals are speaking out against Rumsfeld.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Iran Announces Uranium Enrichment

Well, it's official. Iran was not developing it's nuclear technologies for energy purposes, as they claimed less than a month ago. All this just after their announcement of developing a super torpedo.

I'm a bit speechless. What now? I'm sure tomorrow this will be all over the news and every pundit and talking head will have a viewpoint, but the airwaves are pretty much silent after this announcement. Maybe that's a good thing.

Another Conviction in NH phone jamming

Another conviction in this election day phone jamming scandal that took place in New Hampshire in 2002. I'm a bit floored at the lengths taken to stop people from voting.

Does this really point to the White House involement? It's a little hard to not think there is some level of attachment, but simply stating that phone calls were made between the Republican New England Regional Director and the White House on Election Day isn't very damning evidence. Now, if someone has records of what transpired in the phone conversations, you may have something. Yes, it's very coincidental seeing as how the man was just convicted. Plus it looks bad that the RNC paid for Tobin's legal expenses.

The White House phone records weren't used in this latest case, so I'm curious as to what the next step is in this set of proceedings and IF there is going to be another step.

Third Retired General Wants Rumsfeld Out

WASHINGTON, April 9 — The three-star Marine Corps general who was the military's top operations officer before the invasion of Iraq expressed regret, in an essay published Sunday, that he did not more energetically question those who had ordered the nation to war. He also urged active-duty officers to speak out now if they had doubts about the war.

The article is continued in today's New York Times.

Not many will speak up. Just like the article says, it's not a good idea to do that if you have or are wanting to make a career in the military. And, as the article also says, it's just not part of the military culture to speak out against civilian leadership. Even though I'm against the war, I kind of have to agree with that.

But when these guys really disagree with what's going on, they have the right (and, in my opinion, the obligation) to leave the military and speak out about it. These people deserve our respect, because it's not easy to what they're doing.

The military is a decidedly top-down paradigm, and that's why it's essential that we, the people, elect only the very best among us to lead. While there may be a few heated meetings scattered around during the planning of a debacle such as Iraq, there'll never be a serious challenge. War is a political decision, and while the Pentagon can certainly throw down in the political arena (the budget process in particular comes to mind), they are not one challenge broad policy decisions such as this. Their job is to execute.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

New fossils

Tiktaalik is an amazing find, no doubt. But I take issue with the media dubbing it a "missing link." That term is a complete misnomer. Anyone who has studied evolution knows that there isn't going to be one sole fossil that describes the entire process of evolution or bridge the gap between Classes or Orders. The scientific community understands this, but the MSM wants headlines and controversy. Now maybe with genetic screening there will be the possibility to draw some very strong conclusions about lineage, but nothing that could match the hype of the MSM.
Tiktaalik roseae.

Another important fossil was also found recently. Not as romantic as Tiktaalik, but Hagryphus is an important find. Not only because it's a new giant species of oviraptor, but because of the region it was found in; the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. If predictions are correct, hopefully this area provides more interesting finds in the near future. I'm curious if either of these fossils can provide DNA samples as well.

And I really think a different conceptual artist sould have been used on the Hagryphus. That pic is really out of this world:
Hagryphus giganteus.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday Night Music Blogging

Time to have some fun and GRS and time to talk some new music.

Palms Out Sounds has to be one to coolest music blogs I've come across lately. I now know I simply enjoy Massive Attack. These folks are Massive Attack FREAKS. I also enjoy the concept behind their "Sample Wednesdays" where they hunt down the original beats and songs that have become the loops in sampled music. All that plus more cool stuff.

Pearl Jam has a new CD coming out in May and you've probably heard the new single Worldwide Suicide. I can't say that I'm feeling this one too much.

Dixie Chicks also have a new album coming out in May. You can heara their new song "Not Ready To Make Nice" and see the video on their site. Seems as though they're still pretty pissed over the fallout from their politcal spatter, and rightfully so.

David Gilmour also has a new CD that came out in March. I couldn't get the samples to run for me on his site, but I found some here. I wouldn't mind hearing more.

And I'd been looking for this next song online for quite some time. Ben Lee's "Cigarette's Will Kill You." And I found it here. Also found the The Kings of Leon's "King of the Rodeo" here. Their embedded players looks a bit bulky, so just click there if you're intrested. Check out both Ben's and the Kings of Leon's website for a few of their videos.

More than a name

I thought this was a really interesting article. I didn't have the chance to go to the live reading, but what a concept for an english composition class.

More Than A Name

A class assignment at Tidewater Community College makes the war in Iraq more real.


April 6, 2006 VIRGINIA BEACH -- Jade Chandler-Haag knew she needed to make the call.

Weeks earlier in an English composition class at Tidewater Community College, Haag's professor, Rachel Blue Ankney, passed out a 24-page list of names.

The assignment: Pick one, and through an essay or a poem, write about the person's life. Make them real. Make people remember them.

When Haag selected Rachel K. Bosveld, she had no idea that on Oct. 26, 2003, the private first class was killed in a mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib police station in Baghdad.

Nor did Haag realize how little information about the 19-year-old soldier from Wisconsin would be available on the Internet or in newspapers.

It soon seemed, Haag said, that to preserve Bosveld's legacy as something more than one of 2,300-plus American men and women who have died in the war in Iraq, she'd have to talk to Bosveld's family - something her professor had suggested, but didn't require.

Haag knew she needed to make the long-distance call. She just didn't know how.

"I held the phone in my hand," Haag wrote in her essay. "Looking at the number ... I felt my stomach flip with nerves. I wondered what I could say to the mother of a girl who had died."

Haag thought of her own 6- and 2-year-old daughters.

"Would I want to or be able to talk about them and their lives if they were taken from me," she wrote.


"I would want everyone to know how wonderful they were, no matter how painful it would be to talk about them."

Haag dialed, introduced herself and hoped for the best.

She never brought up the war. She only asked about "Rachel, the person - Rachel, the young girl from Wisconsin."

When Haag hung up from what turned into an hour-long conversation, the tears she'd kept inside sprang free.

She learned that Bosveld was buried on her 20th birthday. That she wrote letters to three elementary school classes back home. That she'd earned a Purple Heart in another attack before getting killed. And that in her free time, Bosveld was so thoughtful that she hand-wrote letters to members of her unit so they, too, could get something in the mail every now and then.

Haag still gets visibly emotional when she talks of "Rachel, a girl I would have hung out with.

"But tonight at 6 p.m., she and several other students given the same assignment will read their work as part of the college's annual literary festival.

The war was already very real to Haag - her husband and many of her friends are in the military. "But to be able to tell people about Rachel, people who may have never known her name before, well, I'm honored to do it."

Some students opted not to make that call, even when they had the phone number.

Tut Geth, who selected 20-year-old Marine Pfc. Juan Guadalupe Garza Jr., just "didn't have the heart to call them and ask them anything," he said. "I probably would have gotten more information. But it felt like a selfish act."

He used the only story he could find about Garza as the inspiration for his work.

According to the Defense Department, Garza was "killed in action" on April 8, 2003.

In Geth's poetry, Garza passed out toys and candy to Iraqi children before he died, even though he was told not to.

I reach out to you,
You feed me sweets to eat
And toys for when I play,
A man of honor in armor,
Has come down from the bed where angels lay.

Darren MacMartin, chose several names from the list, including a young Army specialist.

Officially, Paul J. Sturino died from a "non-combat discharge" on Sept. 22, 2003.

But according to the introduction to MacMartin's poem, "those who served with him remembered him for his humor and charm, and his uplifting spirit even in the roughest of times."

Man, you made it
easy, fighting
dust, on the brink
of exhaustion

MacMartin also crafted a poem about Army Pfc. Bryan N. Spry, with whom he shared the same age.

Nineteen year
be cruisin'
down the boulevard
listenin' to some
rock song.

But Spry, a "paratrooper on a mission" in Baghdad was, while in a Humvee, "forced to swerve" around a civilian vehicle. The Humvee flipped off the road and landed in a water-filled ditch, bringing Spry "into the blue, into the white."

MacMartin will remember this English class, and this assignment - and that was the point."I want my students to have assignments that mean something," Ankney said. "I could hand them an assignment to analyze a poem. But I'm not sure what that does for you once you walk out of the classroom."

I had a history course at Western Michigan University called "American History during the Vietnam Era" And part of my final was to interview a Vietnam vet and write a term paper on it. It was a truly amazing experience and an extremely difficult one. I basically wrote verbatum what was said in the interview. I didn't memorialize anyone, I didn't ad lib, I didn't impose my opinion, I didn't enhance with emotional, flowery rhetoric. I tried to write down the experience as the man I interviewed laid it out for me. My writing skills couldn't match the magnitude of the words he was speaking. I'm no Phil Caputo and I was quite embarassed at the time at my attempt.

I'm sure the students in the above article took time and care with their assignments and I'm most assured that they wrote with passion and emotion. More importantly, this assignment will share these soldiers as people and not just as a statistic on the nightly news. What a writing assignment indeed.

Cheney's Aide Says President Approved Leak

From the NY Times.

My question: Why? Why did the president declassify and leak the info? Why has he let this whole charade continue for SO long at the taxpayers' GREAT expense?

  • President Bush, Sept. 30, 2003:

    "Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of."

    "Listen, I know of nobody — I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.

  • Scott McClellan White House Press Secretary, Oct. 10, 2003:

    "The President has made it very clear that the leaking of classified information is a serious matter, and he takes it very seriously. That's why he is saying that we need to get to the bottom of this, and the sooner, the better."

  • July 11, 2005: On the leak investigations:

    "No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States."

  • UPDATE: More from the NY Times after McClellan's briefing. I watched the briefing. I really hope the media keeps pushing on this. No one actually asked THEE question though: Why?

    I'm kind of amazed that the transcript isn't up yet on the White House's website.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    Today on Fresh Air

    The executive producer of The Daily Show was interviewed today on Fresh Air. I was very interested to hear the story on how they framed their coverage on the Dick Cheney shooting down here in Texas. I didn't know this, but it appears Cheney went on what's called a "canned hunt". Apparently it's where you go to a ranch that raises birds to be hunted. You pay for them up front and even ride in the same truck with them when you go out to the range. Then some guy releases them pretty much right in front of you as you pick them off.

    I've heard of big game safari operations that import exotic animals for the wealthy to kill without having to go to those nasty, developing countries, but never anything quite like this. For fifteen dollars you can buy a bird that you could kill for free if you wanted to. Quail and Pheasants are everywhere down here!

    Anyway, this is my first contribution to Granite Rock Sound, and although it's not much, I'll try to bring some good things to the table very soon.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Frank Zappa on CNN's Crossfire: 1986

    I thank Crooks and Liars for posting this video clip of vintage CNN's crossfire with guest Frank Zappa. I was able to be a member of the studio audience of Crossfire in it's last year of production. The partisan hackery seems to have been the same, but I'm glad Zappa put things in check then and I'm glad Jon Stweart puts things in check now.

    Partisan TV needs more people like Zappa and Stewart to represent the common person. Zappa and Stewart had/have thier professional lives and work those arenas. However, when they were/are subject to common discourse in public light, they both articulate with a common sense that is rarely seen in ratings grabbing television.

    Virginia DGIF

    For this next story, I need some context about the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. I'm a recent transplant to Virginia, and it's sad this is my exposure to a gov't agency that I know employs many hard working, intelligent individuals.

    First the safari and the audit. Second, the Lewis Ginter Beaver. And third and the most devestating the Maymont Bears. Here's a great site which chronicles the events of the tragedy. Unrelated cases, but they add up to one cluster of a department.

    Now for my 2 cents. I'm working on a construction site that was closed for a few weeks. When we returned, a pair of killdeer had nested and laid a clutch of four eggs.

    Not wanting to plow over the birds, I wanted to know the best way to move the nest and have the parents still recognize and accept the nest. I didn't have a phone number to the VDGIF, but I did have a few fishing magazines with ads for conservation groups. After trying a few numbers, I got in contact with a man with experience with quail. He gave me some great general info on moving bird nests and a funny story about his friend succesfully moving an owl nest. He also supplied me with the VDGIF's phone number.

    I made several calls and left a few messages to the VDGIF. None of my messages were returned. Tired of leaving messages when we needed to work, I dialed the VDGIF receptionist. I was a bit suprised when I asked for a biologist in the ornithology department that the receptionist sounded confused, no worries, I explained my scenario and was assured a biologist would contact me.

    And a biologist surely did contact me. He informed me that the killdeer was a protected bird. Really? And started informing me I needed permits to move the nest the 30-50 yards I wanted to move it so it was out of harms way. Nevermind the symantics I was interested in physically moving the nest and if the parent birds would still care for the eggs; he said he'd call me back and let me know about the permit, which should be easy to obtain... over the weekend. He said he'd call back with more info now that he knew the situation.

    Well he did call back, and he then told me it was out of his jurisdiction and that I needed to talk with an agent U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and gives me contact info. Really? So I call this gentleman at the U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and explain the situation and he asks, "He had you call me? Why?" I'm scratching my head too. So he tells it's fine to move the nest and gives me some info on the best way to do so and all works out in the end.

    I'm amazed once again by the VDGIF.

    Environment in the Presidential Budget

    This is a photo I took of the output being released from an oil refinery in Louisiana. I'm about 15-20 miles away from the refinery

    With all the problems facing our nation, I'm glad there are people out there that still keep thier eyes on the environment.

    Jean Schmidt and her degrees

    I don't give two hoots about the Jean Schmidt-and-her-fake-degrees story. But what gets me is her chief of staff's explanation for the problem:

    "The reason for the discrepancy, explained Schmidt's chief of staff Barry Bennett, is that the Miami Township Republican has completed the hours required to earn a second bachelor's degree, but she didn't collect it."

    Speaking as someone who persued a college degree, took time off while I had "enough hours to earn a bachelor degree," and returned to school to actually obtain my degree, let me tell you, there's a HUGE difference between having that piece of paper and NOT having that piece of paper. "But she didn't collect it?" You don't "collect" a degree, it is granted to you by the university. Either you finished the coursework and earned it or you didn't.

    While applying for jobs, I never put down that I HAD a colleege degree even though I had 1.5 times the needed credit hours for a degree. Yes I explained that in interviews, but I never misrepresented myself. What a silly thing to do but it says a lot.