Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Beautiful World of Red Birds

I am so grateful to Pablo of Roundrock Journal for asking if the beautiful red-headed House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) we had in a previous post might have actually been a Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus). What a great question. Well, possibly. They do have such similar coloring and size, it is easy to mistake them for each other. After a bit of research, I was convinced that we had posted a photograph of a male House Finch, but it made me keep my eyes open for another red bird to photograph. I was definitely looking for a Purple Finch, so I could compare and visualize the differences.

Today, a bird strikingly similar to the Purple Finch showed up on the feeder, but also looked different enough that it made me think it might have been something else entirely. I was already outside photographing a gorgeous black bumblebee on our coreoposis, so I just turned the camera on the red beauty at the bird feeder. I was pretty excited about photographing a Purple Finch for Pablo. When we looked at the photographs, though, I realized I really did have something other than a House Finch or a Purple Finch. The Pirate and I looked at that bill and realized we had a Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra). So, here's a Red Crossbill. Click on the photographs, so you can get a good look at the bill. It's quite a thing of evolutionary beauty.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Our First Year


this monster truck cruised along as fast as we wanted--55 mph--on the flat. there are several hills between santa cruz and port townsend. on some we could maintain 12 mph. on the steeper hills we crept up at 8 mph. no air conditioning. so old it had only seat belts, no shoulder harness. no radio. not to complain though. we arrived safely.

today is the one year anniversary of our arrival here in the great northwest in this big truck loaded with everything and towing my pickup truck on a trailer. RD's twin brother and his wife drove our car and cared for the cat. we have been happily busy here with gardening, fencing, walking, and discovering the wildlife of the area.

we had dinner from our garden and a fine bottle of wine: a gift from friends from seattle we met on the train when we came up from santa cruz to shop for a house. below is a picture of today's dinner harvest. there is basil hiding underneath the carrots, peas, yellow squash, and broccoli.

the recipe: cut tofu into small cubes, marinate it in hot pepper sesame oil, pop it into a hot wok with peanut oil. add garlic and dried hot peppers. yes, we like spicy food. let the tofu get a bit crisp on the surface. add carrots and peanuts. cook some more. add the rest of the vegetables. cook more. add fresh beet greens and cook till the greens are wilted. serve garnished with roasted sesame seeds and chopped basil. some rice is good.

mmmmm dinner

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

This Old World Must Still Be Spinning Round

Here are some of the things we've been seeing around the yard and out on our walks.

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)
The Western Tanager migrates from Mexico and Central America. This is a non-breeding male. The breeding male's head is stunningly red. Interestingly, the red pigment in the face of the Western Tanager is rhodoxanthin, a pigment rare in birds. It is not manufactured by the bird, as are the pigments used by the other red tanagers. Instead, it must be acquired from the diet, presumably from insects that themselves acquire the pigment from plants.

House Finch & Black-headed Grosbeak
Our feeder attracts a wide variety of birds. We often see house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) (male pictured here) and black-headed grosbeaks (Pheucticus melanocephalus) (female pictured here).
The red or yellow color of a male House Finch comes from pigments that it gets in its food during molt. The more pigment in the food, the redder the male. Females prefer to mate with the reddest male they can find, perhaps assuring that they get a capable male who can find enough food to feed the nestlings.
The female Black-headed Grosbeak commonly sings. The female song is generally a simplified version of the male song. Occasionally, the female sings full "male" song, apparently to deceive its mate about the presence of intruders and force him to spend more time at the nest. The male Black-headed Grosbeak does not get its adult breeding plumage until it is two years old. First-year males can vary from looking like a female to looking nearly like an adult male. Only yearling males that most closely resemble adult males are able to defend a territory and attempt to breed.

Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
The Belted Kingfisher is one of the few bird species in which the female is more brightly colored than the male. Among the 93 species of kingfishers, the sexes often look alike. In some species the male is more colorful, and in others the female is.
We love watching the kingfisher go after its food. It dives headfirst into the water for small fish and returns to a branch to eat it.

Green bee
We could not adequately identify this insect. We think it may be a metallic green bee. Anyone out there have any clues?

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Cheerleader in Chief

Born cheerleader

Tuesday night President Bush is going to lead the country in a rousing cheerleading session. It is something he has trained for since college high school. It's one of the things he thinks he does pretty well.
We've got an advance of his speech. Here's what he's planning on saying:

Give me an "F! ...F!
Give me a "U"! ..."U"
Give me a "C"! ..."C"
Give me a "K"! ..."K"!

Well come on all of you big strong men, Uncle Sam needs your help again,
he got himself in a terrible jam, way down yonder in Iraqi-land,
put down your books and pick up a gun, we're gunna have a whole lotta fun.

and its 1,2,3 what are we fightin for?
don't ask me i don't give a dam, the next stop is Iraqi- land,
and its 5,6,7 open up the pearly gates. Well there aint no time to wonder why...WHOOPEE we're all gunna die.

Don't forget to tune in.
Update: Whoops I forgot to mention that this cheer is exactly how Country Joe and the Fish did the song at Woodstock.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Why We Are A Second Rate Country

The NY Times lead editorial today says,

Instead of bashing China, Congress and the Bush administration should be putting money into bolstering retraining programs to help American workers whose jobs migrate overseas. American school systems, American parents and American students are going to have to focus on the fact that young people with mediocre educations are not going to be able to compete with energetic, educated young people in places like China.

Yes, but even a "C" student can become president. Why should American children try harder? Their President tells them it is not important. Consider this moment with the Bush and the Secretary of Energy:

BUSH: I appreciate the Secretary of Energy joining me today. He's a good man, he knows a lot about the subject, you'll be pleased to hear. I was teasing him -- he taught at MIT, and -- do you have a PhD?
BUSH: Yes, a PhD. Now I want you to pay careful attention to this -- he's the PhD, and I'm the C student, but notice who is the advisor and who is the President.
Lusby, Maryland, Jun. 22, 2005

Any wonder why we are in decline and falling fast? Why shouldn't we celebrate mediocrity? Our President does.

A parting comment about Bush from my mom who is flying back to California today:
"You know there was a movie called Dumb and Dumber. He could have played both parts."

Saturday, June 25, 2005

How Does Our Garden Grow

right on up out of the dirt and quite well, so far.

first artichoke

white potato white flower

yellow crook neck squash flower

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Little Man Behind The Curtain

so the current spokesliar for the white house is now karl rove, the guy who usually hides in the back room running the dirty tricks department. remember them senator mccain?

so he came out in public and made the usual sort of insult to the patriotism of half the country. well actually, to all of the country. even if half, and that group is slipping, are too dumb to see a charlatan. does that mean that he couldn't get even santorum to utter such crap?

update-bulletin bulletin bulletin. YES!!! even santorum won't utter such crap or stand behind it!!!!!

"pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain. behold the great and wondrous oz." something is slipping when the little man behind the curtain steps out front. never mind what he says.

let's keep asking:

why the great and wondrous oz is cutting the budget for veteran's services? why do you hate the military mr. president?

why he had to lie to us about going to war? why do you hate our citizens?

why his budgets are putting the country deeper and deeper into debt? why do you hate our children?

why he embraces this faux christianity of war and oppression? why do you hate jesus?

why he is trying to kill social security? why do you hate old peopls?

why he is lying even now about the conduct and lack of success of the war? why do you hate the ten commandments?

why did you stop hunting bin laden? why do you love that terrorist?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Birds of Prey and a Rail?

We've been out photographing birds. This big bird of prey, which we think is a golden eagle juvenile bald eagle, we saw on a tree just on the edge of a parking lot. When it flew to the water all the seabirds flew in a flurry of hurry to get away. The adult bald eagle we saw on a walk with my mom, who was quite delighted by it. The Virginia Rail (?) we saw on the trail. It darted from one side to the other like a roadrunner.

Bird of prey

Bald Eagle


You Can't Teach Old Dogs New Tricks

the bums turned out to be old and cranky and stressed out about lacking the patience that a young dog requires. we were extremely solicitous to a very nice dog for a night's stay. what does he know, he's a dog. he was happy to be back with his dog pals at the house where he's been. it was a trial deal and everyone is happy. what do we know. damn little and less by the day but we found out that we are no longer dog people. it has been many years since either of us has had a dog and we forgot how much more patient attention is required for a dog than a cat. oh yeah, the cat. he already had an attitiude because RD's mom is visiting and he barely tolerates us. the dog was several steps over the line.

we dropped off the dog, and he never looked back. we went out for lunch, and took a nice walk along the water. pictures at eleven.

the cat might be thinking about forgiving us. he came out of his sanctuary in the closet, checked out the house and went outside. maybe he'll bring us a mouse, if we wash our hands and get that dog smell off.

We're Going to the Dogs

Now we've gone and done it. We fell in love with a dog and brought him home. The cat has been hiding since my mom arrived on Sunday. We have just added insult to injury, as far as Bonsai is concerned. Solo is half husky and half corgie. Strange exotic mix, no? He's the gentlest and mellowest dog we've ever met. What are we going to do? How will we get the cat out of the closet? Solo is one year old, and we have been told that he is very good to cats. It wouldn't surprise us. We watched him sniff out a baby bird on the ground, and then leave it alone. We think we could give him a good home, but will the cat let us?
If anyone out there has successfully gotten an older, aloof, solitary cat to accept a dog, we'd love to hear how.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Down on the Corner, Out in the Street

"It is not enough to know the world is absurd and restrict yourself to merely pointing out that fact...It is wrong to expect a reward for your struggles. The reward is the act of struggle itself, not what you win. Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make the attempt. That's morality, that's religion, that's art, that's life."
Phil Ochs, October 1965
We took this photograph today in our little home town. One of our neighbor merchants has put a TV outside of his store and has it playing the Downing Street Memo hearing non-stop. He is making the attempt to defeat the absurdity of the world. We share his attempts with you.

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied... Until Now

In memory of James Cheney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner-- We never forgot you.

Killen Guilty of Manslaughter in '64 Civil Rights Killings

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. -- An 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman was convicted of manslaughter Tuesday in the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers -- exactly 41 years after they disappeared.

The jury of nine whites and three blacks reached the verdict on their second day of deliberations, rejecting murder charges against Edgar Ray Killen.

Killen showed no emotion as the verdict was read. He was comforted by his wife as he said in his wheelchair. He was wearing an oxygen tube. Heavily armed police a barrier outside a side door to the courthouse and jurors were loaded into two waiting vans and driven away.

The verdict was 41 years to the date after James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were ambushed, beaten, and shot.

Prosecutors had asked the jury to send a message to the rest of the world that Mississippi has changed and is committed to bringing to justice those who killed to preserve segregation in the 1960s. They said the evidence was clear that Killen organized the attack on the three victims.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Visit with RD's Mom

My mom is up for the week. We went into Seattle yesterday (for the first time since we've been in Washington) to pick her up at the airport. We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island, then came home. This is her first visit to Washington, and her first trip since Sam died.
This photo was taken in 1955. I was three. I'd like to say we haven't changed much since then. Still hip as ever!
So maybe there will be light posting this week.

Bush Lied and People Died

Here is a quote from the president's radio address on Saturday:

"As we work to deliver opportunity at home, we're also keeping you safe from threats from abroad. We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens. Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror. These foreign terrorists violently oppose the rise of a free and democratic Iraq, because they know that when we replace despair and hatred with liberty and hope, they lose their recruiting grounds for terror.

Our troops are fighting these terrorists in Iraq so you will not have to face them here at home. We mourn every one of these brave men and women who have given his or her life for our liberty. The terrorists know they cannot defeat our troops, so they seek to weaken our nation's resolve. They know there is no room for them in a free and democratic Middle East, so the terrorists and insurgents are trying to get us to retreat. Their goal is to get us to leave before Iraqis have had a chance to show the region what a government that is elected and truly accountable to its citizens can do for its people."

EXCUSE ME? We went to war because we were attacked?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Our Father's Day Card

pirate & dad
John 1918-1987, picture circa 1945

don't ya just love that pirate cap? we lived in redwood city, ca then. though one might not guess it from this picture one of the greatest gifts my father gave me was a love of outdoors and nature. we fished every stream in the coast range between half moon bay and santa cruz. we hiked and camped in the high sierra.

Bill, father to RD
1918-1992, picture circa 1985

This photo captures the joy my father felt when he was around his children. It was taken when we were having a family reunion, and my father completely lit up to be photographed with his four kids and the love of his life, his wife -- our mother. We were lucky to know him.

1910-2005, picture circa 2003

Sam married RD's mother and became a stepfather to both of us. He was a kind and sweet old man who reminded us of the best of our own fathers.


Everytime I see your face
It reminds me of the places we used to go
But all I've got is a photograph
And I realise you're not coming back anymore

I thought I'd make it
The day you went away
But I can't make it
Till you come home again to stay

I can't get used to living here
While my heart is broke, my tears I cry for you
I want you here to have and hold
As the years go by, and we grow old and grey

Now you're expecting me to live without you
But that's not something that I'm looking forward to

I can't get used to living here
While my heart is broke, my tears I cry for you
I want you here to have and hold
As the years go by, and we grow old and grey

Everytime I see your face
It reminds me of the places we used to go
But all I've got is a photograph
And I realise you're not coming back anymore

Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey)

Island Universes

Island Universes
One of the ways we start the day is to check out the daily picture from Astronomy Picture of the Day. It helps us keep things in proper perspective. As much as the political situation in the country is demoralizing and driving us crazy, we find that if we remember that we are on just this one little planet swirling through space, it helps keep our blood pressure down and our spirits ever so slightly lifted. This lovely photo is a "tantalizing assortment of island universes." Doesn't that sound great? Maybe we could launch the entire Bush administration and family out there. Whoops, there I go, raising my blood pressure again!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Hearing Afterthoughts

John Bonifaz
The Dharma Bums would like to thank those people who participated in the Downing Street Memo hearing yesterday. Most especially, we'd like to offer our sincere gratitude to John Bonifaz who has done very serious work on this memo, and offered the most cogent and thoughtful analysis of the issues.

Here are our top 10 questions we think need to be answered:

1. Who participated in Cheney's Energy Task Force in 2001?

2. Was the invasion of Iraq raised and discussed by that task force?

3. Did the US and Britain increase bombing raids after July 2002 and before March 2003?

4. Who actually supplied the WMD intelligence data that the US used to preemptively strike Iraq?

5. If the intelligence was wrong, why did Tenet get a medal?

6. Do we have permanent military bases along an oil pipeline in Afghanistan?

7. Will there be permanent US military bases in Iraq?

8. Which oil companies have controlling interest in the oil fields of Iraq and Afghanistan?

9. Who did Sir Richard Dearlove meet with in the US, when he was apprised that, "There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

10. Did George W. Bush knowingly deceive and mislead Congress when he sought and received their support for the power to order the invasion of Iraq?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Virginia Rail, Grosbeak and more!

We took a walk the other day along our favorite trail and saw a bird we could not identify. We checked our Washington bird book, but there were no dark birds that looked like the one we had seen. Later in the week, we went to the Wild Bird Store to buy some black oil sunflower seeds (the kind all the birds just love) and to check out other birding paraphernalia. While we were there we talked with the most knowledgeable employee -- who said she thought she could identify the bird by the way we described it. She said she thought it was a Virginia Rail. (It's not even listed in our birding book.) When she showed us the picture, the bird had the right shape, but not the right color. And, that's when we realized we had seen a juvenile. Sure enough a photo of the juvenile absolutely clinched it. A Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola). It's an interesting looking marsh bird. Quite secretive. So, it was great that we had the presence of mind to photograph it.

Virginia Rail
Later on the way back on the trail we noticed a mama duck and her babies. Oh boy, were they ever cute. They were cuddled up underneath her, peaking out while she slept. We took a picture of that too.

Mama Duck
At home, the birds have been enjoying the black oil sunflower seeds. Our lawn is littered with the shells. One of our favorite visitors is the Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus). He's quite beautiful, and his mate is as lovely with a more light yellow chest, and streaks above her eyes. Here is the male.

Black-headed Grosbeak
And finally, our sweet hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) continue to dart about and fan the air before the feeder, as if alighting upon a flower.


Chez Bums Update

rainwater in the tank

the little arrow is a photoshop artifact added to point to the water level in the clear plastic tubing, which is open to the tank at bottom and top and should therefore be at same level as the water in the tank. you may have to click on the picture to enlarge it before you can discern the water level. one of the black plastic pipes is the feed from the pump and the other is the overflow. the tank holds 2800 gallons when full and looks to me to be maybe 3/4 full so we have about 2000 gallons of rainwater ready to use. it rained lightly last night. today, june 15, is sunny and moderate. the garden is well mulched everywhere so i've got several days to get the dispersal system up and running.

update to the update: data i should have gotten before i posted.

our annual rainfall is about 20 inches. there has been about .72 inches of rain since we installed the big green tank. i use the qualifier "about" because these figures are for port townsend, about 6 miles away and weather here is VERY local. what's that you say? get a rain gauge? yes, that is a good idea. weather science.

working backwards with the data we have: 1 inch of rainfall on 1000 sq feet of collection area yields 600 gallons. we have 3000 sq feet so 1 inch yields 1800 gallons. 2000 gallons is therefore the result of 1.1 inches of rainfall!

blue potato blue flower

we planted blue potatoes. we did not know that the flowers are also blue.

swallowtail on coreopsis

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Our Greens Pan Their Greenspan

Here's a "pan" of greens from our garden. Given the dire straits of our economy, we think it is time everyone consider growing their own.

The following article "Rich-Poor Gap Gaining Attention" by Peter Grier is reprinted in its entirety (with editorial comments). It is an article from today's Christian Science Monitor on Greenspan's statements to a congressional committee on the state of the our economy. Particularly, it is Greenspan's admission that the inequality and imbalance between the ultra rich and the rest, " not the type of thing which a democratic society - a capitalist democratic society - can really accept without addressing..." that caught our attention. Can he really be saying that there is a troubling gap between rich and poor?

Well, not if you ask the conservatives, who say that the whole inequality debate is a liberal myth. Don't believe? Read it for yourself.

The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself.

Is that a liberal's talking point? Sure. But it's also a line from the recent public testimony of a champion of the free market: Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

America's powerful central banker hasn't suddenly lurched to the left of Democratic National Committee chief Howard Dean. His solution is better education today to create a flexible workforce for tomorrow - not confiscation of plutocrats' yachts.

But the fact that Mr. Greenspan speaks about this topic at all may show how much the growing concentration of national wealth at the top, combined with the uncertainties of increased globalization, worries economic policymakers as they peer into the future.

"He is the conventional wisdom," says Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. "When I'm arguing with people, I say, 'Even Alan Greenspan....' "

Greenspan's comments at a Joint Economic Committee hearing last week were typical, for him. Asked a leading question by Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record) (D) of Rhode Island, he agreed that over the past two quarters hourly wages have shown few signs of accelerating. Overall employee compensation has gone up - but mostly due to a surge in bonuses and stock-option exercises.

The Fed chief than added that the 80 percent of the workforce represented by nonsupervisory workers has recently seen little, if any, income growth at all. The top 20 percent of supervisory, salaried, and other workers has.

The result of this, said Greenspan, is that the US now has a significant divergence in the fortunes of different groups in its labor market. "As I've often said, this is not the type of thing which a democratic society - a capitalist democratic society - can really accept without addressing," Greenspan told the congressional hearing.

The cause of this problem? Education, according to Greenspan. Specifically, high school education. US children test above world average levels at the 4th grade level, he noted. By the 12th grade, they do not. "We have to do something to prevent that from happening," said Greenspan.

Education? Is he kidding? This is just not believable. The rich have gotten absurdly rich because our students are not being educated well enough? Well, there actually might be some truth to that, but not the way he would understand it. An educated mass might object mightily to being looted by these tyrants.

So are liberals overjoyed by these words from a man who is the high priest of capitalism? Not really, or at least not entirely.

For one thing, some liberal analysts prefer to focus on the very tip of the income scale, not the top 20 percent. Recent Congressional Budget Office data show that the top 1 percent of the population received 11.4 percent of national after-tax income in 2002, points out Isaac Shapiro of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in a new study. That's up from a 7.5 percent share in 1979.

By contrast, the middle fifth of the population saw its share of national after-tax income fall over that same period of time, from 16.5 to 15.8. "Income is now more concentrated at the very top of the income spectrum than in all but six years since the mid-1930s," asserts Mr. Shapiro in his report.

For another, some Democratic analysts believe that Greenspan's emphasis on education as a cure ignores other causal factors of inequity. Data show an income gap widening among college graduates, says Mr. Bernstein. The quality of US high schools has nothing to do with that, he says. Instead it's partly a function of overall monetary and fiscal policies. "Greenspan takes a very long term view of the situation," says Bernstein.

On the other hand, some conservatives label the whole inequality debate a myth. The media's recent focus on the subject stems from its liberal bias and clever press management by Democrats, they say.

Inequality studies often ignore the wealth created by rising house prices, for instance - and homes represent the most substantial investment by many, if not most, Americans.

Nor do US workers necessarily perceive themselves on the losing end of a rigged capitalist game. A recent New York Times survey found that while 44 percent of respondents said they had a working-class childhood, only 35 percent said they were working class today, points out Bruce Bartlett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. Eighteen percent said they grew up lower class, while only 7 percent said they remained in that societal segment.

I once read a study that also said most people perceive themselves as much smarter and more attractive than they really are. "America, when can I pay for my groceries with my good looks?"

When Democrats today raise the inequality flag, they are simply trying to attack President Bush's tax cuts, albeit indirectly, says Mr. Bartlett. "A lot of this is driven by the estate-tax debate," he says.

And as Greenspan himself points out, by many measures the economy is doing well. Unemployment is down, GDP is up. Inflation still slumbers. Current standards of living are unmatched.

"So you can look at the system and say it's got a lot of problems to it, and sure it does. It always has," Greenspan told the JEC last week. "But you can't get around the fact that this is the most extraordinarily successful economy in history."

Yes, well that might very well be true, but the most extraordinarily successful economy for whom?

Hijacking Catastrophe

Please check out the video clip from the hour-long documentary Hijacking Catastrophe. It shows excerpts from a stunning interview with Karen Kwiatkowski. The documentary "zeroes in on the very conditions that produced the Downing Street Memo and the Bush administration's drive to 'fix' pre-war intelligence."
Two thumbs up from the bums.
Thanks to Cervantes for his link to Information Clearing House.

On Civility, A Modest Proposal

intentionally mixing allusions in the title of this post, i want to comment on recent intramural spats on the left. several bloggers, thersites in metacomments, a while back, and pz myers at pharyngula, recently, (i am sorry i can't find the relevant posts at either place, but check them out if you haven't already. i recommend both) have suggested that we lefties are losers when we respond civilly to political jerks on the right and ID idiots. i am all for it. i am not for incivility to our own however.

Howard Dean, chairman of the democratic party, recently made some strong statements about republicans. Senator Biden undertook to clarify those statements and was a bit less than supportive of the chairman, in stark contrast to statements by raging asshole cryptotheofascist dobson's comments about republican senators caving in to democrats on judicial appointments. see now, i used Senator Biden's title of office and spoke moderately about his statements and took the opportunity to insult a jerk on the right. (there, i did it again!)

here on the internets Mr Markos recently ran an ad i consider to be in dubious taste. my comment to him would be/is "Mr Markos. you are running an ad that many men and women will find demeaning to women. i realize that not all your readers will find it so or even notice it, but i do think that the left, roughly speaking, should be supportive of equal rights and dignity for all and i urge your consideration on this matter. your blog is a source of information and inspirition for many and a place of vigorous debate. the righty blogs are full of hate-filled venom and lockstep agreement with sexist, racist, anti-immigrant, corporate toadying crap, some of which emanates from that drug addled lying sack of shit rush limbaugh. truly a big fat idiot, thank you al franken." there i go again, respectfully asking markos to consider the big picture, plugging al franken, and insulting both freepers and limbaugh. a twofer. this is fun. give it a try.

crossposted at the dialogue.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Karen Kwiatkowski

i am indebted to the Dark Wraith for mentioning the name Karen Kwiatkowski. i read daily several newspapers and quite a few blogs that cover politics, news, and especially the perfidy of the present administration. i had not heard this name before. a google search turned up two repositories of her commentaries, one in and one in, an article in Salon, an article in LA Weekly, a piece in The American Conservative and many other links. she describes herself as conservative. she offers yet further confirmation that the administration of dear leader "fixed" the intelligence information about iraq to present a false picture.

this brief bio is at and the quotes are from her biweekly column there.

Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col. USAF (ret.)

Karen Kwiatkowski recently retired from the active duty USAF as a Lieutenant Colonel. Her final assignment was as a political-military affairs officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Under Secretary for Policy, in the Sub-Saharan Africa and Near East South Asia (NESA) Policy directorates.

During Col. Kwiatkowski's time at NESA, she worked the North Africa desk, in the sister office to the Office of Special Plans. Prior to the Office of Secretary of Defense assignment, she served on the Air Force Staff, Operations Directorate at the Pentagon, the staff of the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade, Maryland, and served tours in Alaska, Massachusetts, Spain and Italy.

Col. Kwiatkowski has an MA in Government from Harvard, and MS in Science Management from the University of Alaska, and has completed both Air Command and Staff College and the Naval War College seminar programs. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Catholic University in World Politics (ABD), pursuing a dissertation on Overt/Covert War In Angola: A Case Study of the Implementation of the Reagan Doctrine.

Col. Kwiatkowski has authored two recent books on African issues, African Crisis Response Initiative: Past Present and Future (US Army Peacekeeping Institute, 2000) and Expeditionary Air Operations in Africa: Challenges and Solutions (Air University Press, 2001) and several papers.

What would Jesus do? 23 dec '04

"The American invasion of Iraq was based on lies, as has been the continued American occupation of her major cities. The lies put forth by the administration ought to remind Christians of those lies the Devil told Jesus up on that mountain in the wilderness. Promises of peace, whispers of wealth, visions of total control of the earth."

Of Mice and Men 05 may '05

"The modern era offers three legal rationales for war. These include self-defense, aversion of a humanitarian catastrophe, and the authorization of war under the United Nations, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The justification for invading Iraq was never self-defense or prevention of a humanitarian catastrophe. Instead, it was a strained legal interpretation of preexisting UN resolutions, combined with a persistent, but ultimately false, Bush administration insistence that Iraq was already – permanently, irrevocably, impossibly – in material breach of UN resolutions."

Just Say No ... to Empire 31 march '05

"What we really need to cast away is an unseemly fear of "enemies" that leads to our own criminal lawlessness, at home and abroad. We need to drop wrongheaded ideas of terror as only conducted by evil people, and pay more attention to that conducted by the state – ours and theirs (our torture-buddy allies comes to mind)."

Eliot Cohen, Confused Again 24 may '05

"General Myers graduated from Kansas State University and earned a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Auburn University in southern Alabama.

General Pace graduated from the Naval Academy and holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration from George Washington University.

General Abizaid graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and is distinguished by having earned a Master of Arts degree in Area Studies at Harvard University, and completing a tour as an Olmstead Scholar.

General Franks, Abizaid's predecessor was initially commissioned in 1967 without a college degree. Several years later he attended the University of Texas at Arlington and studied Business Administration. He also earned a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania."

I particularly like Master Degree in Business Administration as proper education for military leaders. good enough for the prez, good enough for the generals. she goes on to point out that the study of history is probably a better backround for military leadership.

the following article may be the most chilling, particularly in hindsight of fallujah.

The Iraq Solution--Coming Sooner Than You Think 16 Nov '04

"One solution is based on a Syrian case. In 1982, Asad put down a revolt in the city of Hama. The Syrian army killed 20,000 citizens and flattened the city. The Hama solution was a "demonstration" intended to deter other cities from getting similar ideas."


"The Shia political leadership is ready, able and willing to govern their share of Iraq. Kurdish Iraq insists on at least the same self-government it had under American sponsorship since 1991, and it dreams of more. These emergent states will both grant American military basing rights, and welcome American political help as a hedge against undue neighborly influence in their formative years. Their silence at the American destruction of the heart of Sunni resistance is both deafening and educational.

The neoconservatives – ever Machiavellian – envision two Iraqs, both incredibly weak and inwardly focused, both politically vulnerable, both owing their existence to American policymakers, both agreeing to long-term American military bases and economic investment and arms sales, both bound by friendly treaties with each other and Washington, both helping mop up the Sunni Triangle in years to come."

from jon carroll at the san francisco chronicle today:

"Why are the Democrats such weenies? Howard Dean makes the unremarkable statement that the GOP is the party of white Christians, and other Democrats run and flee and say, "Oh no, oh no!" And a Republican yahoo accuses Dean of "political hate speech." Neither "white" nor "Christian" is an epithet. A glance at the videotape from last year's Republican convention indicates that both characterizations are entirely fair."

there is more. check it out. brother carroll is right on.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Hummingbird's Tongue

Hummingbird tongue
DPR suggested that I check out Via Negativa to read Dave's post on hummingbirds. It's a great post, and I highly recommend it. I learned something I had always wondered about-- how hummingbirds eat. It is easy to look at their bill and assume that they must use it as a straw. Certainly the way they dip into the feeders to drink the sugar water would suggest such behavior. But, as Dave points out, hummingbirds drink with their tongues. He writes,
"Contrary to popular belief, a hummingbird's bill is nothing like a drinking straw. It opens just wide enough to allow the bird to lap up nectar with its brushy-tipped tongue, which zips in and out at the rate of thirteen times per second. The hummingbird tastes little of the flowers, other than their relative concentration of sugar, and he smells nothing at all." How interesting. It also explains this photo I took (before the new camera). I wondered what was coming out of the hummingbird's bill. I thought it might be a stream of nectar. It is most likely its tongue.

Another Leaked British Memo

Even if you have suspected "fucking knew" (thanks to Cervantes for the appropriate level of rage) all along that President Bush was hellbent on invading Iraq and was willing to "create the conditions for it" when you have it confirmed for you again and again, it is still rather chilling. Another British Memo has been leaked and the London Times is reporting it:

"The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.

The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.

This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action.


The document said the only way the allies could justify military action was to place Saddam Hussein in a position where he ignored or rejected a United Nations ultimatum ordering him to co-operate with the weapons inspectors. But it warned this would be difficult.

“It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject,” the document says. But if he accepted it and did not attack the allies, they would be “most unlikely” to obtain the legal justification they needed.

The suggestions that the allies use the UN to justify war contradicts claims by Blair and Bush, repeated during their Washington summit last week, that they turned to the UN in order to avoid having to go to war. The attack on Iraq finally began in March 2003.


There has been a growing storm of protest in America, created by last month’s publication of the minutes in The Sunday Times. A host of citizens, including many internet bloggers, have demanded to know why the Downing Street memo (often shortened to “the DSM” on websites) has been largely ignored by the US mainstream media."

Ah, there seems to be a fine Deep Throat loose in London, and Americans should be grateful. Let's show our gratitude by impeaching the President.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

World Naked Bike Ride Day

Naked Riders
Today is World Naked Bike Ride Day. I don't know how we missed it, but we did. The bums are bike riders, so we might have participated, had we known. Not sure how naked we would have dared to be, but it is a cold rainy day in the northwest. It is hard to imagine riding naked on such a chilly day. But this is an important event, one that we don't want to miss next year. Why ride naked? From their webpage:
We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms non-renewable energy."
How many of you rode naked today? Or even knew about it?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Heading Toward Solstice

It's Friday, and the clouds have rolled back in. We're having a wet and cool spring. Washington had twice the average rain fall in May, and we've had one sunny day, so far, in June. It's not bad for us-- we have sweaters and rain gear--we just worry about the corn and tomatoes. They're braving it as best they can, but they definitely need a couple of hot sunny days to spur them on.
We're heading towards the summer solstice. Days are incredibly long in the northwest. The sky starts to get first light by 4:30 am. The songbirds are in full-throated glory by 5:00. The sun doesn't set until 9:30, when the frogs close the day with their croaking symphonies.
Here's what we've been seeing lately.

Singing Female Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus)

Hawk very high in the sky (Buteo jamaicensis)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Rabbit Trickster

She thinks we don't see her
Rabbits have suddenly made an appearance in our well-fenced yard. The pirate has checked the entire perimeter for possible breaches. He has reinforced places that looked like they could be entry points. He piled rocks in those places that still seemed penetrable. Still, they managed to come in. Last evening, while I was practicing with the camera-- taking shots of faraway roses, freehand (no tripod) in preparation for a day of hiking and photographing, I noticed some movement at the gate. The gate, which is right next to the kitchen window, is a homemade construction of framing and lathe. The lathe has openings that are approximately 3.5 inches at the widest point. Certainly did not seem possible that rabbits would be getting through there, but that's exactly what I saw-- a rabbit squeezing itself through the lathe gate and into our backyard. Next project: wire mesh on the bottom foot of the gate. We'll see how that works.

For any rabbit fans out there (of which I count myself) here are some fun rabbit facts.

Few animals are as content to sit unmoving for as long as rabbits are. As prey animals, rabbits go to extremes not to advertise themselves as available to be eaten—but that isn't to say they don't let their guard down once in a while. If lucky, the patient observer may see them in the early morning or evening hours in spirited and spontaneous chases of other rabbits, or energetically hopping and leaping about—revealing this animal's playful nature. While rabbits lead lives full of concern and fear, they sometimes display a joie de vivre that we can envy.

Rabbits are commonly misunderstood to be rodents, but they actually belong to their own order and are properly called lagomorphs. Lagomorphs are found in both the Old and New Worlds, with the New World species distinguished between "true" rabbits (genus Sylvilagus) and hares and jackrabbits (genus Lepus). While many people mistakenly believe that wild rabbits and domesticated pet rabbits are the same species, the truth is that the domesticated rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) belongs to another genus entirely and is only distantly related to his wild brethren.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

New Camera

We bought a new camera to indulge this crazy new passion we have for photographing all the beautiful things we see. It's a Panasonic DMC-FZ20. It's a Point and Shoot Camera with a Leica telephoto lens. It has 12X Optical Zoom and a 4X Digital Zoom. This first example was shot from the back door. Each of these photos was taken from the very same spot-- the camera was on a tripod.

No zoom

The second example is shot with the full 12X optical feature. This purple lupine is about 80 feet from our door.

12X Optical Zoom

The third example additionally magnifies the image 4X digitally. We are very satisfied with the results.

Digital Zoom 4X

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Juvenile Hawk (Sharp-shinned or Coopers)

Juvenile hawk
This bird is either a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) or a juvenile Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii). It flew in to the yard this morning and landed next to the pond. These hawks hunt birds, and with our new feeders, we have a yard full of their favorite meals. After the pirate took this photo, the hawk flew to the top of the bird feeder and waited. There wasn't a goldfinch or grosbeak to be found. It left. Later in the day, all of the birds scattered in a wing blurring hurry, the hawk did a fly by just above the ground. We suspect we'll be seeing more of this beauty in the future.

we're back!

we switched isp from msn to a local called olypen (olympic peninsula). qwest only took (if they started at 12:01 am of june 7) 16 hours to switch our dsl service!! a tough day for the bums. poor us! no internet, neither of them!

hello world.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Dharma's Dominion

Last week there was an interesting discussion on Rurality about American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) and what they like to eat. We already had one birdseed feeder in the yard that we filled mixed seeds, but we learned Goldfinches liked Nyger seed from a thistle seed feeder. The finches had been enjoying the mixed seed, but we thought we'd try this new feeding option. So, on Saturday we picked up a feeder and seed that the finches would like, and while we were at the store, we bought another hummingbird feeder that would seat six birds. Our two-seater was working out just fine, but there were more hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) coming by, and we thought we'd feed them too.

We were astonished to find out just how much the goldfinches like Nyger seed. Sometimes the new feeder has six birds munching away, while two more wait in the wings, so to speak. The pirate took the opportunity, after hanging the new feeder, to repair the mixed seed feeder. There is often a lot spilled seed under the feeder, but this repair and jostling spilled a lot more. Later in the day, while all the birds were feasting away, we noticed a rabbit under them also enjoying a meal. We were delighted with the results.

Bunny (another camera/binocular shot)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Red White & Blue



I am often torn about what to use this blog space for. We live in the beautiful, cloudy paradise of the Olympic Peninsula. We watch eagles soar; rabbits hop around our 2 1/2 acres; our greenhouse overflows with edibles. We have a lush garden, a rainwater collector, and dreams of more self-sufficiency. We photograph the hummingbirds at our feeders, and hang a new thistle-seed feeder for the American Goldfinches that have adopted our backyard as their own. But, this beauty always seems a stark contrast to the world outside. I often want to rant about that world. Its bloody, torturous reality floods us from every other blog and news report we read.

Kathy over at Freshman 44 often constructs the most inventive list of ten things, and I have been so inspired to scream my ten requests to my country:

1. Turn off the reality shows and gaze at the staggering reality around you.
2. Demand an end to torture in our name.
3. Demand an explanation of the Downing Street Memo.
4. Demand that automobiles be made with higher fuel efficiency, and stop complaining about the price of oil. We are fighting a war so you can drive your SUVs to Walmart.
5. Protect your environment, even if it means accepting a "lower" standard of living.
6. Ask questions about the national deficit, and why we have tax cuts during a war, and what the deficit means for the economic future of our country.
7. Pray in your churches and stop preying on the constitution.
8. Demand a single-payer national health care system.
9. Let our gay brothers and lesbian sisters get married.
10.Impeach the president and imprison the rest of the criminals (the Nixon legacy lives on) in his administration.

Often I am reminded of the line from the NY Times Magazine article by Ron Susskind where some sinister Bush insider says that they are busy creating reality, while we are left to contend with it. I say, let's create a reality that has these psychopathic sycophants behind bars where they belong.

Okay, rant over.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The June Tomato Report

basil and tomatoes, the same plants pictured last month. that's a yardstick propped up behind the plants. may was a very wet month here, double the average rainfall. we set tomato starts out in the weather last week. they are alive, but not yet growing vigorously.

love the greenhouse

lettuce, marigolds, carrots, and beets. off to the left in the other bed are red bell pepper starts from seeds from actual red peppers from the grocery store and creole tomato starts from seeds from a friend in louisiana.

garden in june

from the foreground: russet potatoes, garlic, bush peas with flowers and pods!, carrots and eggplant, blue potatoes, white potatoes, and yet more garlic. the mulch in the bed to the left has carrots, squarsh, basil. unseen to the left in that bed is kale, broccoli and beans.