Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pirate Papa: A Journal of Anarcho-Green D(o).I(t).Y(ourself). Parenting

Pirate Papa: A Journal of Anarcho-Green D(o).I(t).Y(ourself). Parenting:

Speaking of the Paternal Buccaneer, Sky posted this recently, and I wanted to link to it, but was stalled by technical difficulties. So here it is now.

i leave you for my books and beer with this small piece: whatever it is you want to be, forget it. it's who you are that counts, and if you're not striving with every ounce of your being at every moment to be your dreams then you aren't being honest and you won't ever truly discover them.

'“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” T.E. Lawrence

From the Stacks: September 29, 2006 (Articles) Staff

From the Stacks: September 29, 2006 (Articles) Staff

Utne Reader has graced Pirate Papa's new dead-tree artifact with a Plug

The premiere issue of Pirate Papa: A Journal of Anarcho-Green D(O).I(T).Y(OURSELF). PARENTING collects posts from Sky Cosby's Pirate Papa blog. Cosby's writings on parenthood and love are endearing, as is his wonderment at his twin daughters' linguistic additions to "their already formidable arsenal of boogadies, moes (more), nos, uh-ohs, la-las...." He gracefully puts into words the changes young parenthood has wrought -- among them, his "crumbled and reshaped" relationship with his partner -- and lightens things up with links to punk parenting sites, occasional recipes, and photos of his adorable girls (sometimes clad in pirate gear). A great resource and a fun read for parents and non-parents alike. -- Danielle Maestretti

DIY Spray Booth Part II

DIY Spray Booth Part II

This one is really ingenious. Airflow isn't taken into account, but it wouldn't be too difficult to kludge in a system based off the previous entry. The beauty of this plan is it's based on PVC pipes and plastic sheets, materials that are easily workable with a minimum of tools, and it can be easily folded up for storage once you are finished with it. Perfect for oh, say some one who just wants to paint a scooter every once in a while...

DIY Spraybooth

DIY Spraybooth

This is kinda slap-together looking in the pictures, but there are a lot of good ideas here, and since it's from a forum, good ideas and criticisms from people other than the creator.

Hi. I have just finished building a spray booth. Its driven by 4 92cm case fans, which are powered by a computer power supply. The body is made from cardboard, with a vinyl duct in the back sending fumes out the window. It took me 4 days to build.

Airbrush Blog

This seems to be mostly stories on airbrush artists from local news sources. Maybe not your cup of tea, but the Dragon digs it, so you are warned. If I turn up anything REALLY cool on it, you'll see it here.

Courtesy of Airbrush Technique Magazine

DIY Wolverine

This guy Nate went all out on his Halloween costume, not only styling his hair and beard to look like Logan, but making a suit and functioning retractable claws.
This is some pretty sweet and dedicated geekery here my friends. And of course the creation process is well documented with plenty of photos.

via Gizmodo


FLURB! Rudy Rucker has a webzine of SF-Fantasy out and it is filled with such illustrious scribes as Cory Doctrow, John Shirley, Paul Di Filippo, and of course Rucker himself. I can't wait to dive into this!

This has been out for a while now, though it has just now really got my attention.

Rudy Rucker Performs Literary Necromancy!

(sorry there's no link for just this post on Rucker's blog, but click the link and look for:)

Reading at City Lights
Friday, September 29, 2006

Man, everybody's got a blog, these days. Rudy's certainly was a welcome discovery.

It was great to be reading about Jack in this room; like being in a shrine to the man. With Jack Kerouac Alley right out the back window.

Check out his post on the reading at City Lights, and then read what he read, the abridged version of his post-cyberpunk story “The Jack Kerouac Disembodied School of Poetics.”

C'mon, ya know ya wanna... It has one of the best opening lines ever:
"I got the tape of Jack Kerouac's soul in Heidelberg, Germany, 1980."

Friday, September 29, 2006

The End of the "Summer of Diplomacy": Assessing U.S. Military Options on Iran | WesPAC

The End of the "Summer of Diplomacy": Assessing U.S. Military Options on Iran WesPAC

Folks, I know this is scary and depressing, but like a big bill coming up, it is something that can be made less intimidating by dealing with it wisely (diplomacy) now, rather than dealing with it in a mad rush at some future deadline (military action.) This is an issue in which procrastination, and uncooperativeness could make the phrase "deadline" frighteningly apropos.

US intelligence about the extent and location of Iran's nuclear facilities has serious gaps, according to a report by the House Intelligence committee cited by Gardiner. Analysts are widely divided about how many years away Iran is from being able to produce an operational bomb. "Paradoxically," Gardiner writes, "these gaps in intelligence produce not caution, but further pressure to attack."
For political cynics who believe Bush, Cheney, and Karl Rove would stop at nothing to hold onto power, a first strike against Iran would be the ultimate preelection "October surprise."

Insert Wacky Headline Here

OK, I downloaded this picture so long ago, I don't remember where it came from. I guess I was waiting to find more info on it or something. But if this don't empitomize the wacky steampunk anti-culture transportation aesthetic of the Dragon, nothing does.

Modern Vespa : Scootering is assimilating into the general population

Modern Vespa : Scootering is assimilating into the general population

This is a great summation of the joys of a scooter lifestyle. No, he's not a stalker. Yes, scooterists spend a lot of brain power thinking up errands... excuses to ride. Most folks' commutes are stressful draining experiences. Scooterists get to work and home, fresh and cheerful. A scooter is a wonderful stress reliever. You won't really believe it, until you try it.

Yes, I admit it, some of my best scooter-related links come from the fantastic scooter community, online forums. That's why I've added several to my blogroll, in my latest redesign (more on that to follow.) If you haven't checked out ModernVespa, though, you really should. It's a great group of folks, from all walks of life and all generations, they aren't snobby about scooter brands, either. OK, well most are damn fond of their Vespas, but will welcome anyone who shares a joy of step-through two-wheelers. The Dragon transmorgifies into Punkelf, when he's over there.

What I really want to do is get scooters so assimilated that we can truly realize all of the advantages. I think it should be legal to carefully filter to the front in stopped traffic. This is a reasonable wish - it is safe and doesn't inconvenience anyone. I think it should be legal to prudently lane split in certain situations. Not quite as realistic a wish. I think it should be legal to park on sidewalks and in alleys when not blocking anything. Another reasonable wish. I think there should be parking areas set aside for scooters and MC in malls and in every lot over a certain size. Perfectly feasible. If I am sitting on my scooter in a long line of stopped traffic, perhaps in the rain or cold - who will look at me and say "I should get a scooter"? But if I slowly cruise past them while THEY are stuck in stopped traffic and pull my scoot up onto the curb to park where there is no auto-parking nearby - they just may see the benefit of getting rid of their SUV._________________Christine

NSA's Cool Books You Can't Read

Someone has figured out how to find NSA publications in a list of government documents. Some of these look pretty enticing. William Gibson wants to read "NSA in the Cyberpunk Future: A Somewhat Educated Guess at Things to Come," and of course so does your humble Dragon.

"This is one of the first glimpses we have had into NSA's own library -- and it’s a safe bet there are some gems in there," said Secrecy News editor Steven Aftergood.
Titles include "NSA in the Cyberpunk Future: A Somewhat Educated Guess at Things to Come" (1996), "I Was a Cryptologic Corporal" (1983), "Inference and Cover Stories" (1993), "Handy-Dandy Field Site History: Fifty Years of Field Operations, 1945-1995," "The Fallacy of the One-Time-Pad Excuse" (1969), "Meteor Burst Communications: An Ignored Phenomenon?" (1990) and "KAL 007 Shootdown: A View From (redacted)".

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Who Wants to be a Space Cowboy?

Blogger is being cranky.
Just check out the link.

OKCupid! The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test

OKCupid! The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test

Yes, these tests are usually lame. This one was pretty on the level though. This came up on Modern Vespa, in a thread on the link between nerds and scooters. I had to keep from laughing as thoughts of how other people I know would answer.

OK, so maybe the Dragon is biased, because he scored:

Modern, Cool Nerd
95 % Nerd, 73% Geek, 47% Dork
For The Record:A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd. Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!

But you knew that already didn't you!


Oh Wow! These are some yummy sculptures!
Not much in the way of rayguns (there are a few) but this is definitely the aesthetic I'm wanting to bathe in lately...
What did Bruce Sterling call it... A Good Old-Fashioned Future?
Or that Gibsonian Gernback Continuum?
Come on, somebody out there knows what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Cool Raygun Collection Blog

I'm posting this mainly for my own reference, but I figure some retro-junky out there will think it is as cool as I do. Sadly, the project forming in my mind is going to require me to post more rayguns if I find them...

Scooter in the Sticks: Riding and Photography

Scooter in the Sticks: Riding and Photography

For some folks, motorcycling is a hobby. This goes for scooters as well, of course. For others two-wheels are a lifestyle. Something about slimming down to essentials, breaking out of the "cage" and STAYING out. Seems like scooterists are even more extreme in this regard than motorcyclists. Mainstream society GETS motorcycles, the speed, the power, the machismo, even if they don't totally agree with it. (Which why to most, the hobbyists make more sense than the lifestyle riders.) But scooters... let it suffice to say that mainstream society is only starting to realize why one might want be a fair-weather scooterist (economy, practicality, maybe an adolescent "fun" factor,) so the lifestyle or foul-weather scooterist is even more of an anomaly. (Of course on the very extreme edges of this continuum are the lifestyle moped kids, probably the baddest, most hardcore of the two-wheel freaks out there.)
Steve Williams, the author of Scooter in the Sticks, is a great example of how adopting scootering out of a sense of practicality (perhaps peppered with some unconventional style) can turn into an obsession that effects many other seemingly irrelevant aspects of one's life. He seems a fairly normal, close to middle aged man, not a hipster kid who turns to scootering out of the constraints of a bohemian pocketbook, and desire for retro-cool. So his blog is to me, a particularly interesting study in how the scooter obsession can blossom in anyone. (It doesn't hurt that he writes with an eloquent self-effacing style, and includes a lot of beautiful photographs in his blog.)
The Dragon says check it out!

My two passions and a new path. Since I bought the scooter my photography has taken a decidedly Vespa direction. My camera points less frequently at the Pennsylvania landscape except as a backdrop for a portrait of the scooter. My wife Kim appears in fewer photographs that was the case for the past ten years. I sold my 8x10 Zone VI field camera and all related gear because I could not see hauling it around on the scooter (I still had a truck mind you). The darkroom is a seldom-visited place as I now seem to be shooting digital color almost exclusively. The Vespa seems to have turned my photographic pursuits upside down.I've found the only way to get a handle on problems is just jump in and work. I often don't follow that advice but in this instance I have made a decision to write, ride, and photograph and not question the results. Already I have seen the flame of desire flicker to pick up the camera more often when the scooter is not in sight. I'll use this blog to report the results as I go. Immersion is the plan. Who knows where it will lead.

lorimarsha's Etsy Shop - Handbags- Flaming Heart Messenger Bag

lorimarsha's Etsy Shop - Handbags- Flaming Heart Messenger Bag

Scooterists love them some messenger bags! And alas! mine is rapidly disintegrating. So a combination of searching for a new one, as well as searching for ways to make a little cash off of my creative endeavors, brought me to etsy. I'd seen a few things posted on boingboing from here, but hadn't really dived in and really explored it. Now this is the new economy! It's like Ebay for creative folks (sellers) and those who appreciate them (buyers.)
They only accept handmade items (their definition of "hand-made" is arbitrary, but I think most folks would go along with it.) And they take a very reasonable cut... $.10 per item to list and 3.5% of each sale. YEAH! Folks the Dragon has had some gallery shows, and this is RIDICULOUS! Ridiculously FAIR to the artist! The art world standard is 40 to 60% for the retailer. And the quality/style of stuff they have is great. It's like a hipster's arts and crafts fair.
So, dig around, I think you'll find something you like.
Heck, in a little bit there might just be some of the Dragon's creations to had there...

(pictured above is a lovely messenger bag by lorimarsha)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why The American Media Sucks: In Four Simple Pictures -

Why The American Media Sucks: In Four Simple Pictures -

Go check out this site. 4 pictures that are worth 1000 minutes of the "Daily Show."
You know when I was a kid, it seemed like the magazine racks at the check-out counters were about a fifty-fifty mix of news-weeklies like Time and Newsweek, and entertainment/lifestyle/celebrity gossip mags like People and whatever. In the last few years it seems like the news-weeklies are disappearing and being replaced by round the clock coverage Brad and Angelina, Tom and Kate.


Syndicate Says 'Boondocks' May Not Return -

Syndicate Says 'Boondocks' May Not Return -

Why do all the best and brightest cartoonists quit? It's not a done deal, yet, but signs are good that Aaron McGruder, creator of one of the freshest comic strips to appear in years, is bowing out of the daily funnies. Looks like he is keeping the TV show going, so maybe that's just a more rewarding medium for him.

"Although Aaron McGruder has made no statement about retiring or resuming The Boondocks for print newspapers . . . newspapers should not count on it coming back in the foreseeable future," Universal's president, Lee Salem, said in the release. "Numerous attempts . . . to pin McGruder down on a date that the strip would be coming back were unsuccessful."

Daily Kos: I met with Wesley Clark last night. Iran strike very likely!

Daily Kos: I met with Wesley Clark last night. Iran strike very likely!

Mike Bailey over at Daily Kos had a chance to talk to Wesley Clark after a rally for Kentucky Congressional candidate Mike Weaver. Some scary stuff here, but not surprising, from an administration we've seen ignore uniting diplomatic measures for divisive militaristic action, time and time again.

General Wesley Clark said that Bush is painting himself into a corner on Iran. The General feels that the only chance to stop a strike on Iran is the election of a Democratic Congress in November, assuming BushCo does not manage to start dropping the bombs before the election. The only good news about Iran is that Clark feels there are clear divisions in the Administration, with Rice showing some misgivings about striking, and CheneyCo wanting war with Iran ASAP. The bad news is that with RiceCo wavering, and CheneyCo chomping at the bit, a strike is simply a matter of "when, not if."

A New Old Bus: Volkswagen Updates a 1964 Microbus with Gadgets - Jalopnik

A New Old Bus: Volkswagen Updates a 1964 Microbus with Gadgets - Jalopnik

Didn't this show up on the Simpson's episode where Homer meets his Mother?

Pretty cool though.

From the outside, the Chameleon concept looks like a pristine, classic 1964 Volkswagen bus. On the inside, it's a complete technology showcase created by Volkswagen of America's Electronics Research Lab in Palo Alto. The drivetrain is all electric, powered by lithium polymer batteries -- those surfboards on the roof are lined with flexible solar panels for extra juice. The interior is a museum of tech: an interactive digital instrument cluster with embedded touch pads, digital audio and video, a wide-angle back-up camera display and speech-activated controls. An optional titanium-lined hookah with touch and vacuum sensors and thermoelectric cooling is not included.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

No Silent Majority for Bush

"What could prove to be the most important factor in the 2006 elections is overlooked because it is unseen: The Republicans cannot try to curry favor with a "silent majority" that favors the Iraq War because a majority of Americans, both vocal and quiet, has come to see the war as a mistake.
And blame for the failures on the ground in Iraq has fallen not on some liberal coterie supposedly holding our generals back, but on the choices of civilians in a conservative administration. Those civilians, and their allies outside the administration, find themselves under increasing fire from leaders of the military and the intelligence services for bad planning, flawed analysis and unrealistic expectations.
Moreover, the tone of the opposition to this war is quite different from the tenor of some sections of the movement against the Vietnam War. Reaction to "hippie protesters," as the phrase went, allowed President Richard Nixon to pit a hardworking, patriotic "silent majority" against the privileged, the young and the media.
As the historian and Nixon biographer Stephen Ambrose noted, tiny minorities -- "they numbered less than 1 percent of the demonstrators," he wrote of a 1969 rally -- "waved Viet Cong flags . . . and even burned American flags" and served as "magnets to the television cameras." They were used to exemplify an entire movement.
By contrast, critics of the Iraq War, deeply influenced by the post-9/11 climate of national solidarity, have been resolutely patriotic and pro-military. They have often chastised the administration for offering American troops too little in the way of body armor and armored vehicles, and for shortchanging veterans."

Billy Lane charged in fatal accident


Sadly Mr. Lane only got $15,000 bail. For killing someone. While driving under the influence. On a suspended license. Which was suspended for a previous DUI. I think a case could be made that if you kill someone while driving DUI, when you have had a previous DUI, ESPECIALLY if your license is still suspended for that previous DUI, that's not manslaughter, that's murder.

Lane was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, manslaughter, driving with his license suspended and driving under the influence with serious bodily injuries stemming from the Sept. 4 accident on State Road A1A, south of Melbourne Beach.

Weird Al White And Nerdy -

Weird Al White And Nerdy -

Oh yeah!
It's all about those black market copies of the Star Wars Holiday Special!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Iran's gulf of misunderstanding with US

BBC NEWS Middle East Iran's gulf of misunderstanding with US

Don't understand what folks are talking about, when they talk about missed chances for diplomacy with Iran? Check out this BBC article, and then ask yourself, "Does this administration think it can iron out difficulties in the Middle East purely through force of arms?" Think about this story on how much "safer" we are after our handling of Iraq. Do you see any real Middle East policy here? Do you see evidence of mature leadership, leading us away from war, and guiding us toward a peaceful, safer Middle East, and world?

In the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US... In Iran, vast crowds turned out on the streets and held candlelit vigils for the victims. Sixty-thousand spectators respected a minute's silence at Tehran's football stadium. Some of Iran's leaders also sensed an opportunity. America quickly fixed its sights on the Taleban in Afghanistan with whom the Iranians had nearly come to war just three years earlier.
With a common enemy in the Taleban, the two found grounds to co-operate.
After the Afghan war, US negotiators worked closely with Iranian counterparts to form a new Afghan government.
Some of the talks between US and Iranian officials moved beyond Afghanistan and there was hope that it could lead to tentative re-engagement and eventually a restoration of relations...And just a few weeks after Iran and the US had worked so closely over Afghanistan, Iran was described by President George W Bush as part of an "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address.
Javad Zarif, now Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, said this was a big surprise at after the co-operation over the Afghan government.
"We were all shocked by the fact that the US had such a short memory and was so ungrateful about what had happened just a month ago," he said... Another potential opening came in May 2003.
America's swift march to Baghdad the previous month had led to fears in Tehran that it would be next.
So Tehran made a dramatic - but surprisingly little known - approach to the Americans.
Iran's offer came in the form of a letter... In it, Iran appeared willing to put everything on the table - including being completely open about its nuclear programme, helping to stabilise Iraq, ending its support for Palestinian militant groups and help in disarming Hezbollah... What did Iran want? Top of the list was a halt in US hostile behaviour and a statement that "Iran did not belong to 'the axis of evil'".
The letter was the product of an internal debate inside Tehran and had the support of leaders at the highest level.
"That letter went to the Americans to say that we are ready to talk, we are ready to address our issues," explains Seyed Adeli, who was then a deputy foreign minister in Iran. But in Washington, the letter was ignored.

Boing Boing: Gigantic Little Nemo book does justice to the loveliest comic ever

Boing Boing: Gigantic Little Nemo book does justice to the loveliest comic ever

I have to admit, for about the last seven or eight years, I buy a newspaper purely motivated by reading the funnies. I say this without any shame. It's not that I'm uninformed, it's just I got tired of reading stories that were supposed to be "news" months after I'd read them online. This is particularly true of science news, thanks to the geek's paradise of Slashdot.
The ironic thing is, comics as we know them, came about as an enticement to get people to buy papers. And good ole' Citizen Hearst and his ilk, weren't playing around. Those old school funnies were lavish, and dare I say, decadent. Wil Eisner's The Spirit was a small comic-book insert! And Windsor McKay's Little Nemo was a full color page! And this was when newspapers were THE major source of news.
Now, when you can get news, opinion, and classifieds, quicker and easier online, the publishers continue to shrink the funnies down into postage stamp sized panels, focusing on quantity over quality. Sadly there just aren't that many quality strips anymore. I wish the papers and syndicates would allow cartoonists to explore some the huge rambling formats of yesteryear. A comic section designed with that in mind, comprised of only a handful of features, that would make me a regular newsprint patron.

Maybe it would even entice Bill Waterson back to the craft.

But, as we nostalgically wait for the one-foot-in-the-grave newspaper industry, to pull it's head out of the sand, and realize the true potential of it's medium... we can bathe in the glories of yesteryear, in this collection of one of the true classic masters of sequential art.

I just bought a copy of the astonishing Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays!, the single largest book I've ever owned, and quite possibly the most enchanting...It's the first time I've ever seen Little Nemo pages at the size they were published, back at the turn of the 20th century, and it's also the first time I've ever really gotten Little Nemo. These strips, orginally published in breakfast-table-hogging broadsheets, were watercolor masterpieces, huge paintings that depicted the weekly dreamland adventures of Little Nemo, tripping through fantastic, surreal worlds that McKay brought vividly to life... I've seen them reproduced at generous (but smaller) sizes, and they always seemed a little goofy and uninteresting. I just couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. But when I opened a copy of the mammoth Splendid Sundays collection, the appeal of Little Nemo hit me like a shovel upside the head. Once you've seen Little Nemo at full size, you'll get it too: as generous, gentle, beautiful and wildly imaginative paintings.

Business 2.0...Big Innovations: EEStor - Sep. 18, 2006

Business 2.0...Big Innovations: EEStor - Sep. 18, 2006:

OK, OK, I know I'm just blogging snippets today, with little to no commentary. I've got a head-cold that's slowing my mind's normally eloquent verbal centers, but has left my pattern recognition intact.

This is intriguing, though...

Forget hybrids and hydrogen-powered vehicles. EEStor, a stealth company in Cedar Park, Texas, is working on an 'energy storage' device that could finally give the internal combustion engine a run for its money -- and begin saving us from our oil addiction. 'To call it a battery discredits it,' says Ian Clifford, the CEO of Toronto-based electric car company Feel Good Cars, which plans to incorporate EEStor's technology in vehicles by 2008.

Democrats Focus on Terrorism Report in Attacks on Bush -

Democrats Focus on Terrorism Report in Attacks on Bush -

A classified National Intelligence Estimate, completed in April but disclosed in news reports over the weekend, offers the U.S. intelligence community's first formal evaluation of global trends in terrorism since the April 2003 invasion of Iraq. U.S. officials said the report concludes that the Iraq war has fueled the growth of Islamic extremism and terror groups, but White House officials responded that the reports reflected a selective and distorted interpretation of the study.
Democratic lawmakers said the NIE finding undermines Bush's frequent claim that the toppling of Saddam Hussein's government has made the world more secure and confirms the need for a major change in strategy in Iraq. The findings were featured prominently at a hearing Senate Democrats held yesterday to review the conduct of the war and were cited by several retired generals offering harsh critiques of the administration's preparation for the Iraq war.

AppleInsider | Intel roadmap reveals quad-core Xeon details [u]

AppleInsider Intel roadmap reveals quad-core Xeon details [u]

Oh, boy.

The quad-core and multi-processor-enabled chips will arrive in X5355, E5345, E5320 and E5310 models clocked at 2.66, 2.33, 1.86 and 1.60 GHz, according to the report. Models X5355 and E5345 will reportedly feature a 1,333 MHz front-side bus while the E5320 and E5310 will have a slightly slower 1,066 MHz front-side bus. Each of the chips will sport 8MB of L2 cache.
taxi opening credits (french)

Funny funny funsters!
Worth watching to the end.

Wired News: Pirate Radio Challenges Feds

Wired News: Pirate Radio Challenges Feds

Wesley Clark: What We Must Do Now - Newsweek: International Editions -

Wesley Clark: What We Must Do Now - Newsweek: International Editions -

Some analysis of why we are going to have to begin "Nation building," before we can withdraw from our current hotzones in the Middle East. By ret. General Wesley Clark.

The fact is that Afghanistan was a tribal country savaged by 20 years of war and further brutalized by the fundamentalist Taliban. Its infrastructure, educational system, agriculture—all was gone. With the Taliban in retreat, traditional warlords reestablished themselves. Vital political and economic assistance never arrived. Neither did a sufficiently strong international security force. Instead, a few thousand U.S. troops were inserted to pursue the remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The government of Hamid Karzai, pieced together, was never able to extend its reach much outside Kabul. The results today are a mockery of early optimism. Despite the presence of almost 40,000 NATO troops, security has worsened. Opium has again become a major business, infrastructure redevelopment lags, schools remain closed—and across great swathes of the country the Taliban is resurgent.

ABC News: Secrets of 'South Park'

ABC News: Secrets of 'South Park'

This is a really indepth (for a web article) long look at Trey Parker and Matt Stone's recent adventures with South Park. From what I have seen of it, the last season was one of their best, and really seems like these boys are honing their chops. I mean South Park is usually funny, frequently hilarious, and generally topical. Like bitter genius class clowns from troubled homes, noone is spared from their potty-mouthed barbs. But lately, man, without losing that Junior-high "make fun of everyone equally" mentality, their social commentary has been getting sharper and sharper. They say a country gets the government it deserves, well maybe we get the satrists we deserve as well.

"A lot of people don't realize this, but probably the one person that gets made fun of in "South Park" more than anybody is my dad," he says. "Stan's father, Randy — my dad's name is Randy — that's my drawing of my dad; that's me doing my dad's voice. That is just my dad. Even Stan's last name, Marsh, was my dad's stepfather's name. So my dad grew up Randy Marsh. And he is, by far, the biggest dingbat in the entire show. And we've had him, you know, with his pants down, drunk, throwing up, you know. And my dad was a great dad. He's a great dad. And my dad is constantly like: 'Why did you do that to me?' And I'm like, 'Dad, I'm just having fun.' I hold my father very dear. But it doesn't mean I'm not going to rip on him."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ural Motorcycle featured in New York Times

From Siberia With Sidecar: Riding a Red Army Time Machine - New York Times

This is pretty straightforward, "warts and all" article on the Ural, which is one of my favorite motorcycles out there. Yes, the Dragon has that 70's/80's kid's perverse fascination with Eastern bloc tech, especially the stuff that's based one a solid basic design and hasn't really been allowed to become barnacled over with useless "bonus" features. The Kiev 120mm cameras are a perfect example of this. My main bone of contention, is that everyone knows Walter Mitty reveries about the Ural are based on Steve McQueen's ride in "The Great Escape," not "Hogan's Heroes."


The plucky Ural has attracted a devoted, if tiny, worldwide following from riders drawn to its go-anywhere, do-anything toughness and the ubiquitous sidecar. Urals also offer a unusual two-wheel drive ability; with a flip of a couple of levers, the wheel on the sidecar joins the motorcycle’s rear wheel in delivering power. Together, they can pull a Ural out of terrain nasty enough to snag a four-wheel-drive truck.
“People used Urals as work-horses,” said Madina Merzhoyeva, one of eight employees in Ural’s American office in Redmond, Wash. “To haul stuff around, commute, haul potato sacks on farms — young families could afford Urals as their inexpensive but practical transportation.”
Among motorcycle journalists who have some history with Urals, the view of the new models mimics what many of my old neighbors in Detroit say these days: “Oh, it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be.”

"even rocky had a montage"

A montage (can anybody hear that word and not think of Team America?) of Wes Clark clips and pics, set to Montgomery Gentry's "Something to Be Proud Of." With a bonus how-to from Wes on how to do pushups in a suit without getting your pants dirty.
Lambretta Scooter and a Mod tune to boot

Some classic tunes and classic scoots. If you are thinking about customizing a bike, there are some pretty specimens here. The Dragon was especially pleased to see all the airbrushed cowls, legshields and gloveboxes. Taste and the accountability thereof being what it is, I'm sure you'll see some bikes here that you think are gawd-aweful.But there are certainly some beauts as well
vespa + moteur 750cc

Some crazy French kids put a 750cc motorcycle engine into (onto?) a Vespa.

Nice video of an all original 1966 Vespa.

MAKE: Blog: Steam bicycles

MAKE: Blog: Steam bicycles

Cool photo essay on MAKE about steam bicycles.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Lambretta AD

What could be better than a cheesy sixties Sci-Fi Lambretta Ad? If it was in Italian and was a musical, perhaps? What if we threw in a bunch of multi-cultural riders, INCLUDING a guy in a kilt?

Yeah, I thought so.

(Heck, the Dragon has been known to wear a kilt and ride a scooter, but doesn't know you well enough to tell whether or not he's ever combined those two activities.)
Scooter Cam (Beta version) Honda Metropolitan

Ok so maybe you already have to be one of the scooter converted to appreciate this. But it's a cool video shot from a digital camcorder mounted to a scooter's handlebars. At work? Stressed out, but there are hours til you can ride your scoot home? Watch this on your next break, for a little vicarious stress-relief.
Vespa Song

warning loud annoying music.
if you don't like metal, you should watch with the sound turned down. BUT WATCH. This is like a slide show of some of the coolest mopeds EVAH! Of course the Dragon likes his music loud and annoying, but his two-wheeled transport not so much so, so this is perfect.

MySpace For The Sandlot Set

MySpace For The Sandlot Set

Ok, I know I just posted about the importance of social networking sites in the coming world, but the old school part of me just thinks that maybe this is going too far.

Lee is big into his membership in Club Penguin, one of the new sites aiming to be the (NWS ) for 8- to 12-year-olds. Officially launched in March, it clocked in 2.1 million unique visitors during the month of August, up from 899,000 in March, according to comScore Networks Inc.'s Media Metrix. It joined sites imbee and, where kids can craft personal pages with videos, photos, and blogs. Some of these sites also offer educational games for kids, joining a growing online community of sites that give parents a break and kids a chance to learn. "Addressing young kids is very difficult because of privacy laws, but it seems these companies have figured out a model that works," says David Card, vice-president and senior analyst at JupiterResearch.

Beaker Street

Beaker Street

Ah, this has me all misty-eyed with nostalgia. Clyde Clifford's legendary Beaker Street is something of a family tradition. My Mom used to regal me with tales of tuning in the Arkansas station on AM radio as teenager in 60's Kansas. Clyde was like her Wolfman Jack, I suppose. I myself, have some great memories of hanging out in the parking lot of USF&G, kicking a hacky sack around with loser kids who are now sys-admins and trauma surgeons... Besides who couldn't love a burnt-out sixties DJ who is still kicking out the jams, and quotes that lovable old Bull Moose Patriarch on his opening page?

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official,save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else" ...Teddy Roosevelt

Treehugger: More Clinton Initiative Funds For Renewable Energy

Treehugger: More Clinton Initiative Funds For Renewable Energy

I don't understand why the venture capital isn't lining up for this stuff. Growing oil? Solar fabric? SOLAR PAINT?! For the long term investor (think ten or twenty years) alternative energy is gonna be a gold mine. Don't get me wrong, oil isn't going away as soon as the "peak-oil" folks are doom-saying, but hell, have you taken a look at solar panels lately? For about $2k for a total system (provided you install it yourself) you could provide half to three quarters of the average American home's greedy electricity consumption. That would pay for itself in three years, and after that it's gravy, baby!

The total of 4 billion in Clinton Initiative commitments is on the same plane as the US Federal Government’s collective budgetary allocation for research into mostly coal and nuclear energy alternatives, as was also announced this week (huge pdf file at link). Besides the focus on renewability, what most distinguishes the Clinton commitment from the US Department of Energy's plan is the phrase “while getting returns on capital invested.” The Green Fund is seeding not merely money but a philosophy of pragmatism and near-term outcomes.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Probe into 'Bin Laden death' leak

BBC NEWS Europe Probe into 'Bin Laden death' leak

I just don't know what to think about this. Even if he is dead, ultimately I don't think it means that much. He was a figurehead, a PR spin doctor for fundamentalist hatred. Someone will take his place, unfortunately. Hell, zealots love martyrs, it could even up Al-Qaeda recruitment.

In its report, French regional daily L'Est Republicain said it had obtained a copy of a DGSE foreign intelligence service report dated 21 September.
"According to a usually reliable source, the Saudi services are now convinced that Osama Bin Laden is dead," it read.
"The information gathered by the Saudis indicates that the head of al-Qaeda fell victim, while he was in Pakistan on August 23, 2006, to a very serious case of typhoid that led to a partial paralysis of his internal organs."
Mr Chirac said: "I am surprised that a confidential memo from the secret services has been published, therefore I've ordered the defence minister to start an inquiry.
"As far as the information itself is concerned, it's not confirmed in any way. Therefore I have no comment at all."

Young voters -- a wild card in 2006 U.S. elections | Tech&Sci | Technology |

Young voters -- a wild card in 2006 U.S. elections Tech&Sci Technology

I'll say it again, we just saw the tip of the iceberg in 2004. Hell, was friendster even around then? I mean what are social networking sites, but virtual "3rd places", community commons, where a lot of the real politickin' goes on? Do you think there is a prom queen out there who doesn't have a myspace page? Who doesn't organize her campaign through texting? Dean's showing in 2004, and the "draft Clark" campaign, heh heh heh, the Dragon says you ain't seen nothin' yet.

"We have to start thinking positively and we have to stop attacking Republicans," the 21-year-old student in Minnesota said in one posting. "We just need to stand up for the Democratic Party," he says in another.
As Republicans fight to keep control of Congress, both parties hope to mobilize young voters who turned out in record numbers in the 2004 presidential election and are considered one of the wild cards in November's congressional races.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Comics and Micropayments: An Interview with Todd Allen

Confessions of an Aca/Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins: Comics and Micropayments: An Interview with Todd Allen

Comics and Micropayments, it just won't go away. Everybody wants to make some money off the internet (hey, the Dragon wouldn't mind...) and the webcomics/micropayments debate flash up every now and then like 5 year olds arguing over whether the Hulk could take Superman. This is a pretty good summation of how webcomics and micropayments have evolved since Scott McCloud got Gary Groth all in a tizzy about it, right as the dot com bubble bombed.

When McCloud spoke at MIT last week, he told me that Reinventing Comicswas designed to be a book about the future when it was published more than five years ago and it was still a book about the future now. We are just moving towards the future at a slower rate than any of us might have imagined. The success of iTunes suggests that people are willing to pay small amounts of money online to consume content they want (and thus suggests that some micropayments model might still make sense). At the same time, they are doing so through a central distribution channel which could easily become a gatekeeper locking lots of content producer out.

via /.

How to Build a Bicycle Cargo Trailer - WikiHow

How to Build a Bicycle Cargo Trailer - WikiHow

This is a pretty simple project and a pretty simple trailer, but maybe just the thing that somebody out there is wanting to do this weekend. Or maybe the springboard for something even cooler... Now, we can only hope that somebody reads the Dragon...

Ain't no Pope-mobile

Richard Hammond rides across water in Jeep

Richard Hammond, that infectiously squirly Brit who hosts the Carver clip I posted recently, recently sustained some serious head injuries trying to break the British landspeed record. currently listed as in stable condition, the Dragon is hoping maybe posting this near-miraculous clip will send a minor miracle or two his way.
I guess there are a lot of clips from Hammond's BBC show Top Gear on You Tube out there, so you might be seeing more of him here in coming days. Sounds like he might be a little speed obsessed, which isn't the Dragon's normal cup of tea. Heck, that's why I like scooters, a safe traffic speed feels like flying, when you're comfortably perched on 150ccs. But I gotta admit, Hammond's enthusiasm for freaky transportation makes me feel like a kid again.

thanks to Jalopnik for turning me on to this. Jalopnik seems to be keeping up pretty well with the unfolding of Hammond's condition, so check there for updates

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Moonbeam

Sweet home built light vehicle based off two honda scooters. Gets 100 mpg. Think it's cool, but you could never do it? Well check the link, Jory Squib has the instructions there to tempt you.

Thanks to Treehugger
Retired General Wesley Clark

When the Dragon was in High School, he HATED pep rallies. Well some of this video is a pep rally for Texas Democrats. If you don't live in Texas, the first 10 minutes of this will drag. Go grab a beverage and let some of the video load, then come back and speed it ahead. Once Wes gets rollin', ain't no stoppin' him. Most of this is a pep rally for the average American, frustrated, scared, and disappointed to the point of apathy. Wes Clark shows us that there is hope, and that hope is us. If there is to be a change in this country, WE have to make it happen. WE have to speak at the ballots in a voice clear enough to rise above intimidation, and the noise of electoral "pecularities," that we do not agree with the course this country has taken. We can't vote the Republicans out of the Whitehouse (yet) but we can take away their rubber-stamping cronies in Congress. We can, and the Dragon (who hates pep-rallies)is going to become cheerleader enough to say, We MUST.
I just get more and more impressed with Wesley Clark. He is a clear enough speaker, a dynamic orator, able to distill complicated debates into language that I believe every American can understand. Which I think was a lot of Bush's initial appeal in 2000, he was the guy you'd take fishing, while Gore was the guy you'd ask to help with your taxes. But I think Clark is the guy you'd take fishing, and then ask about taxes. He's smart, thoughtful and unpretentious.

radsciencegeek on youtube said this:
Great quotes in his speech throughout!!
"My heart aches when I see where Republicans led by George W Bush has taken this country"
"We went to war in Iraq to cover up the command negligence that led to 9-11! That's the truth!"

"Enough is Enough! ...2006 is not local! It's NATIONAL!"

To which the Dragon will respond with pom-poms in full salute-- "Don't stop believin'!"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Vespa Aficionado

The Vespa Aficionado

From the title, what else would you think it was? A nice little personal site by a Vespa fanatic.

- Biodiesel Tanker Truck! -

- Biodiesel Tanker Truck! -

Well, Blogger is not cooperating with loading a photo right now. But check out the link. It should suffice to say that this is the Dragon, so it may not be quite what you expect...

I'm Taking My Country Back

Honkey Tonkers for Truth, now there's group the Dragon can get behind! Their website seems to be down, but the video is on Google and YouTube. Hmmm... I guess we are seeing it in this mid-term election, but I think 2008 is gonna be the Web 2.0 election, with YouTube and MySpace, and test messaging playing at least a big a role as print, television, and static websites.
Thanks go out to WesPAC and the Hillbilly Report (Another right fine name!)

UPDATE: I changed the embedded link to YouTube, as Google is now saying the video is unavailable. I'm not trying to be paranoid here, but it's strange that it disappeared off Google in a matter of hours, and now the only comment on YouTube is derogatory. Something's sketchy here, even if it is just a server overload.

Video of the new Piaggio MP3

Yes, the quality of this video is bad, but I think it communicates the handling of this bike(?) quite well. Towards the end of it, watch the front brake braking power! The stability of a trike, and the handling of a bike (maybe even better, I've heard this thing corners like you wouldn't believe.)

Ok, so it's kinda fugly, but the concept of how it performs is really starting to get under my skin.

You could always strip off the panels, and make the ultimate mutant rat-scoot.

The Carver

There are no phrases in the english language to communicate how freaking cool this thing is! Hyperbole?

Did you watch the video?

"Who could possibly need something like this?... Me! Actually, definitely!"

Indeed, mate. In-bloody-freaking-deed.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19

Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19

Arrr! I know it be a little late, but ye still have time to speak proper at yer favorite public house whilst swillin' yer grog.

(note this does not apply to Eamon, who is a real sailor, and sick to death of faux-pirates)

Memorial for Scooterist

From Florida Today

For those of you who aren't hardcore scooter web addicts:

Gerry Morelock, 56, died on impact Sept. 4 when his moped was hit head-on by a pickup truck driven by well-known motorcycle builder Billy Lane. No charges have been filed, but officials are awaiting tests to determine if alcohol was involved.

The scooter community is really up in arms about this incident. Gerry was hit head-on when Mr. Lane, well known from the cable show Monster Garage, and for owning the shop Choppers Inc., tried to pass by crossing over a double yellow line. For once, the scooter riders aren't upset because Mr. Morelock's vehicle has been routinely misidentified as a moped. No, we are upset that a driver can kill someone, and injure his own passenger by illegally crossing over a double yellow line, and yet no charges have been filed. Indeed, two weeks later, the authorities do not yet have results of Mr. Lane's blood alcohol test. The last the Dragon knew, these were tests that could be administered in the field, with almost immediate results.
This is a disgrace.
The Honky-Tonk Dragon extends its deepest condolences to Mr. Morelock's family and friends, and is heartened that he recieved a fine memorial. And the Dragon hopes that this will be one instance in which an individual's celebrity does not defend them from facing the consequences of their actions.

Monday, September 18, 2006 - Unfinished Tolkien work to be published in '07 - Sep 18, 2006 - Unfinished Tolkien work to be published in '07 - Sep 18, 2006

Christopher Tolkien has spent the past 30 years working on "The Children of Hurin," an epic tale his father began in 1918 and later abandoned. Excerpts of "The Children of Hurin," which includes the elves and dwarves of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other works, have been published before.

via /.

Why we can't win the "war on terror"

Why we can't win the "war on terror":

Salon has an interesting synopsis of a new book by one of the few "experts" on terrorism who existed before 9/11. Now, I'll start out by saying that just about anybody will find something in this article to disagree with. BUT, if read calmly, with an open mind, I believe you will find that there are some lessons to be learned here. Richardson has obviously done a lot of research and thinking on this hot-button issue, and to ignore all of her points out-of-hand, would most certainly be throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Indeed, Richardson points out that the Bush administration's absolute, holier-than-thou reaction to 9/11 bore a disturbing similarity to bin Laden's. 'By using the extreme language of conviction that bin Laden uses, by declaring war, even a crusade, against him in response to his war against us, we are mirroring his actions. We are playing into his hands, we are elevating his stature, we are permitting him to set the terms of our interactions. Given that he has a very weak hand and we have a very strong one, we should not be letting him set the parameters of the game.'
For its part, the Bush administration has been highly effective at setting the parameters of the game -- and intimidating the cowering Democrats -- by claiming that it is 'tough' on terrorism while the Democrats are 'weak.' Richardson cuts through this posturing by arguing that the only point that matters is who is effective.
It is an obvious point, but to convince voters of it, Democrats will have to overcome decades of GOP rhetoric that paints them as the 97-pound weakling. But with the tough-guy approach discredited, and the prospect of an endless and unwinnable war looming, Americans may finally be ready to wise up.

Techdirt: Diebold e-Voting Machines Can Be Opened With Standard Hotel Key Available Online

Techdirt: Diebold e-Voting Machines Can Be Opened With Standard Hotel Key Available Online

As Diebold continues to try (weakly) to defend itself from yet another batch of evidence that their security isn't particularly secure, Ed Felten points out another weakness in Diebold's defense. The company likes to claim that on top of the computer security aspect (which study after study has found is lacking) they have "physical" security. Avi Rubin's report from the field last week showed that the "security tape" and "security tags" on the machines aren't particularly secure at all (removing them and replacing them without anyone noticing is easy -- and apparently done quite often). However, a colleague of Felten has also noticed that the "lock" on the box uses an off-the-shelf standard key seen for things like hotel minibars. Apparently, it's quite easy to buy an identical key online or at an office furniture shop. In other words, the physical security isn't so secure. It's just designed to look secure, so they can say it's secure.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | UN chief warns of Iraq civil war

BBC NEWS Middle East UN chief warns of Iraq civil war

Another sheikh at the meeting, Sattar al-Buzayi, told Reuters that the tribal leaders had decided to take the fight to the Islamist militants who control parts of Ramadi and Anbar province.
"We have now entered a real battle. It's either us or them," he said.
"We just want to live like everyone else. We're sick of all this bloodshed," said one Ramadi resident, voicing anger at al-Qaeda.
However, a young al-Qaeda leader called Abu Farouq told Reuters that the fight would go on until an Islamic caliphate had been imposed across Anbar.
"This tribal system is un-Islamic. We are proud to kill tribal leaders who are helping the Americans," he said.

American Politics, Mythology, and Comic Books

Suddenly a Southern General: Wes Clark Is The Last Best Hope .... WesPac Securing America Community

So, I'd like to start this post off with a big "Howdy!" to all the Clarkies who have been blowing up my counter lately. I hope y'all will hang out a spell, and enjoy the quirky 21st century Americana that is Honky-Tonk Dragon. And I hope you won't think me too forward, if I ask of you a little open-mindedness. Poke around abit. Try and see past my thick scaly hide, and see that beneath is a big ole heart that wishes the best for America and the world.
I'm not a political beast, by nature. I'm more interested in ideas, and geeky things like comic books, motor-scooters, and computers. But Wes has lit a fire under my butt, as they say down south. So you will be seeing more serious content on here in the future, as well as rants and raves about viral internet videos, and the latest scooters to roll out of Italy. Until recently, I saw promoting fuel efficient two-wheeled vehicles, and electric vehicles as the best thing I could do for the world.
Ok, self-indulgence aside, if you haven't checked out this essay on WesPAC, you should. Because it touches on a psychological truth which the Republicans have been expertly exploiting for the last six years. It's not quite "history is written by the victors," though that is a facet of it. This nation is so big, so mind bogglingly huge, that the only way to really think about it, is to think in terms of symbols, icons, MYTHS. (For you lapsed Bill Moyersesque intellectuals, feel free to brush up on your Joseph Campbell, now.) And it seems that for most of my lifetime, this is a mode of thought, a type of public language that the Republicans have been getting better and better at speaking. And many people, who should really know better, rather than learning how to speak this language, have refused to, have taken what they take to be the moral high ground, and spoken only in FACTs. We have debated them, but we have let them define the terms used in the debate. And Wes Clark, who I'm sure studied his Sun Tzu at Westpoint, I think could tell you, this is the rhetorical equivilant of letting your enemy choose the battlefield. Not a strong strategic position.
Now, you might ask, what does this have to do with comicbooks? Well, I'm certainly not the first to propose that those spandex-clad weirdos fulfill many of the functions of mythology in our society. It used to be Paul Bunyan, Mike Fink, Johnny Appleseed, and Davy Crockett. Now it's Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Wolverine, and Capt. America. Indeed, comicbook geeks will frequently refer to the overarching world story of a publisher as a mythos, as in the "DC Mythos" or the "Marvel Mythos." They are a kind of sandbox, or shorthand for exploring moral questions, like "What if I had near infinite strength and power? How could I remain ethical, under those circumstances?" Questions very similar to what we face, right now, as people and as a nation.
And for this discussion, I think there is no better Super-hero to examine than Captain America. Cap' is seriously "old school," as the kids say. First appearing in 1941, battling Nazis, towards the end of the war, he falls into the North Atlantic and is frozen, held in a state of suspended animation. He is revived in 1964, a strange super-powered Rip Van Winkle, and some of the best of his contemporary stories deal with his struggle between his ideals and political realities. Recently, Marvel Comics has been doing a storyline in which the federal government want Superheroes to be registered with them, basically govertment employees. Those that don't will be considered outlaws. Cap's conscience, and old school adherence to what he sees as constitutional law, force him to be the first to go renegade, and buck the system. Which is interesting, because of all heroes in the Marvel Mythos, he has always been the one with the deepest government ties, gaining his powers through the US Army.
Sure, since the sixties, there have been "underground" comics, which question the status quo, and engage in more indepth studies of civil liberties. And even since Watergate high level government corruption has been an occasional plot point in mainstream comics. But for Capt. America to rebel against the government that made and defined him, well the only equivilent I can think of is goody-goody Superman taking the Lord's name in vain. This isn't R. Crumb folks. This is on the level of bearded Uncle Sam appearing on a poster saying, "Don't join the Army, they'll promise you the moon, and you'll end up emotionally and physically scarred and living on the streets."
So, to tie this back to Gen. Clark... my intuition is, (and intuition is your best guide to the world of the mythic) that he's a man who does his best to marry the mythic, the ideal with the factual. I even think he has an understanding of how that translation process works. Unlike Bush, who can speak some homegrown "good ole boy" in order to sell you a used truck, even though his thought processes are in Yale preppie businessman who's really thinking about how much oil and gas he's gonna be able to sell you down the road. I think Clark is a leader who is just as at ease talking to an E-2 high school dropout from Tennessee, as a Sergeant Major from Massachusetts with a Masters in Business Management. Or even a Prime Minister. And he'll boil the facts down into quicker to grasp symbolic language, not in order to pull something over on you, but because it speeds up the process of communicating with large numbers of people. I also think he understands this process, this tactic of distilling facts into symbols enough to hopefully beat the Republicans at their own game. I don't think he is going to let them choose the battlefield. Heck, that's part of what is really growing my respect for the man. He is already defining the battlefield, for whoever the Dems run in 2008.
Check out this video. It's long and the first 10 minutes or so will be meaningless to you, unless you live in Texas (It's from a recent Texas Democrat convention.) But listen to the man speak, in the language of American Myth, about the Facts of what is going on in this country today. And ask yourself... for every bill of goods the Republicans have sold us in the name of Safety and Freedom, do you feel any safer? Do you feel any more Freedom?
Listen to Clark, and then read the essay that started this rant.

General Clark encouraged us to go out and work for Kerry and Edwards in this most critical election.
And this is what he said to us: “The Bush administration does not really represent the will of the American people. But if he is reelected, in five years it will.”
It was a chilling thought and a lucid observation of cultural passages as they trail through political opinion and processes.
It came to mind yesterday morning reading about President Bush’s attempt to “redefine” treatment of prisoners and pass legislation that would create special military tribunals to try terrorist suspects and continue secret interrogations in clandestine prisons abroad.

Thomas Paine's Corner: Veteran's Plea to Fight to Take Back America

Thomas Paine's Corner: Veteran's Plea to Fight to Take Back America

A Missouri Marine who served in Vietnam rants about the coming election and the fickleness of elected Republicans who "Support" our troops. One part cutting vitriol, and one part even more damning facts.

What even astonishes me more is: where are the veterans of Missouri? We of all citizens should be able to see the things we were willing to lay our lives down for have disintegrating right before our eyes. We watch in disbelief as our sons and daughters continue to die and become maimed for life in a War of Choice, based on manufactured intelligence, lies, deceit, and the quest of profit and oil. Only to return home to slashed benefits, long waits for treatment, and a life of emotional trauma that will sever family and friends. Many will end up homeless, committing suicide. These things are already happening. The very administration that sent them into harm’s way has abandoned them upon their return. ... Fact: On March 16, 2006, Senate Democrats introduced Amendment 3141 which would appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2006 and 2008 through 2011. The purpose of this amendment was to provide an assured stream of funding for veteran’s health care that would take into account annual changes in the veteran population and inflation. This bill would have been paid for by restoring the pre-2001 top rate for income ever $1 million, closing corporate loopholes and delaying tax cuts for the wealthy. The bill was defeated by a vote along party lines. Nay votes 53 Republicans, 1 Democrat, Yea Votes, 44 Democrats, 2 Republicans.

via WesPAC

What's Really Propping Up The Economy

What's Really Propping Up The Economy

This is a very interesting, and well documented article on the silent boom in the health care industry.

Take away health-care hiring in the U.S., and quicker than you can say cardiac bypass, the U.S. unemployment rate would be 1 to 2 percentage points higher.Almost invisibly, health care has become the main American job program for the 21st century, replacing, at least for the moment, all the other industries that are vanishing from the landscape. With more than $2 trillion in spending -- half public, half private -- health care is propping up local job markets in the Northeast, Midwest, and South, the regions hit hardest by globalization and the collapse of manufacturing (map).Health care is highly labor intensive, so most of that $2 trillion ends up in the pockets of workers. And at least so far, there's little leakage abroad in terms of patient care. "Health care is all home-produced," says Princeton University economist and health-care expert Uwe Reinhardt. The good news is that if the housing market falls into a deep swoon, health care could provide enough new jobs to prevent a wider recession. In August, health-services employment rose by 35,000, double the increase in construction and far outstripping any other sector.

via /.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

THERECORD.COM | INSIDER | World leaders need code of behaviour, retired general says

THERECORD.COM INSIDER World leaders need code of behaviour, retired general says

Yes, I'm blogging a lot about Wes Clark. I think you'll have to get use to it. No, I'm not endorsing him for president. We don't even know if he'll run, yet. But I agree with what I hear him saying. It gives me hope for the future, and inspires me to find ways to help bring that better future about. So I'm going to share those quotes with you. Because, yes there are other people saying all of this, but I believe there is a certain clout when he says it. This is from his keynote speach at the Centre for International Governance Innovation's second annual conference focused on the world's largest growth economies, including China and India, and issues facing fragile states., yesterday.

"We all understand that when war starts between two states, it should be stopped," he said. "But when states collapse, do we know how pragmatically to intervene?
"Can you live on a small, crowded planet and tolerate not only the inequities, but the injustices and the crimes that occur in some places in the world without being affected and infected by it?"
After the soldiers get control of a troubled country, Clark said, there should be equal priority on a force of non-military people "who go with the guys with the guns" to spur rebuilding and create stability.
"Somehow after 15 years of the post-Cold War, we've been unable to package those missions, whether it's in NATO or the United Nations," he said.
"I can't understand it. We've got to fix it."

Oh, and on another note, I just found out that Wes's job before his 2004 bid for the Democratic nomination, was as CEO for Wavecrest Laboratories, makers of the Tidalforce electric bike, among other EV projects. I just knew I liked this guy.

The Geek Chic not too Meek to Freak Heck on Wheels: Governor's Commission on Outlaw Moped Gangs: Final Report

Ok so this is like 16 months old but it is hilarious as all get out, and is approved by the Dragon for the comedic enjoyment of Homo Sapiens Sapiens ages 12 and up.

Operating on the fringes, weaving in and out of traffic with reckless disregard for their own safety and the safety of others, these moped mafiosi belong to a loose network of organizations that converge every year in New York for "Gotham Rally." The gathering, which brings together members from rival scooter groups, includes all the ingredients for a potentially explosive situation.
Although billed as an opportunity for scooter riders to show off their custom-made and modified "scoots," Gotham Rally is, for all practical purposes, a two-day bacchanalia of sexual innuendo, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and lite rock-'n'-roll. Though the event has not yet achieved the notorious reputation of the motorcycle "Bike Weeks" in Daytona, Sturgis, and Laconia, participants sometimes stay out drinking until 7 p.m., and each evening culminates in a "wet sweatshirt competition," fueled by white zinfandel and pousse-caf├ęs, in which women compete for cash prizes by flashing their midriffs.
ALTHOUGH ONCE considered merely quirky or romantic rebels -- an image popularized by movies such as "Roman Holiday" and "Amelie" -- members of moped gangs sometimes engage in hard-core criminal activity (e.g., riding on the sidewalk, flouting helmet laws) and have developed increasingly sophisticated means of thwarting or evading law-enforcement. These include, but are not limited to, affixing license plates to their vehicles with Velcro, in order to enable easy removal and permit scootophiles to park their scooters in loading zones, bus stops, and other off-limits areas with impunity. Scooter gangs now include not only construction workers and florists but also lawyers, accountants, and diversity-workshop facilitators, which makes it possible for them to cloak their operations with a facade of respectability.

Hugh Jackman Wolverine movie

Wolverine (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Well, I'm sure the serious comicbook geeks have been all over this already. But for those of you who were unaware...

The film has been hinted to be a prequel adaptation of Chris Claremont's and Frank Miller's Wolverine limited series.

Vote Today for the Next President of the United States

Vote Today for the Next President of the United States

Yes, this is one of those cheesey polling sites that dwells at about the same evolutionary internet level as those "punch the monkey win an iPod" banner ads. And even a reputable poll performed two years before the election is dubious at best. So with all those disclaimers and caveats, we can at least derive some entertainment value from this.

Out of 24 potential candidates from both the major parties, Clark is the current front runner with 16% of the vote (326 out of 2026 cast.) The second runner-up is Massachusetts governor, Republican Mitt Romney, with 13% of the vote (273 votes.)

Remember, this is purely for entertainment.

Electric and Biodiesel Harleys

JS Online:The hog that hums

This article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiles a couple of different alternative fuel tinkerers who are committing that ultimate sacrilege, muting the trademark Harley sound. Heck, if I could get an electric Harley, stuffed into the scooter hawg custom frame, I might actually consider owning a Harley. (Yes, I know, I blaspheme, a biker must be a rebel, a non-conformfist who rides the same bike as every other biker.) There are some good ideas in this story, though. Like the guy who runs a biodiesel generator in a sidecar. I'm surprised I haven't seen that, or an electric Harley trike before.
... Hmmm... Electric Harley Scooter Trike... with a camper trailer covered in solar panels, with base 1 foot deep with batteries...

Carl Vogel of Long Island, N.Y., says forget the sound. He has modified a Harley-Davidson chassis so that it houses 560 pounds of lead-acid batteries and an electric motor - capable of reaching 85 mph, but sounding like an electric golf cart.
Vogel, an inventor-entrepreneur with a passion for alternative fuels, said he was afraid that other Harley enthusiasts would snub his bike because it was so odd. It resembles a regular motorcycle, but the lack of a gasoline engine, and the electric solar panel behind the seat, are immediate signs that it's a very different animal.

via TreeHugger

Wireless Brakelight System

Wireless Brakelight System

Another jewel from hanging with the bikers at the Motorcycle Safety Class. This is a system consisting of an LED brakelight replacement bulb that has a wireless transmitter. Everytime you brake it is transmitted to an adhesive strip of LED's, probably best stuck to your helmet. With all new cars now having those rear-window brakelights, I bet the average cager would notice this a lot quicker than they would your normal brakelight. Having once been rearended at a stoplight, I can tell you this is one $40 safety device that just might save you the cost of a new bike (amongst other things.)

Reversible Trike conversion for your Maxi-Scooter

Official Hompage of Tow-Pac, Inc. InstaTrike / MiniTrike

It looks like this is primarily for the Japanese Maxi-Scoots, but give them a call if you are really interested. It involves the installation of an attachment hitch, and then the extra wheels can be attached and removed as the mood strikes you. They claim you will lose 2-3 mpg fuel efficiency and the bike will be about 20% stiffer. Available with 8" or 12" wheels, I think these look pretty slick on the "rolling lazee-boy" style Maxi-Scooters. Sounds like a good deal for those foul-weather year-round riders like myself. When the weather and roads get nasty, just throw on the "training wheels" for some extra stability and peace of mind. Of course then you will have to deal with the "training wheel" jokes, but hey, you've already developed a tough skin from riding that "moped", right?

Cagiva Gran Canyon 900cc


So my instructor at the MSF BRC had this unique, beautiful dual sport bike that I'd never seen before. He kept talking about his "Kajiva," and I thought it was just sport bike speak, like a "Gixxer" or something. Then, of course when I saw this bike on the range (with all it's decals and labels removed,) I didn't know whose it was. Anyhow, the Cagiva is one pretty bike, in my mind up there with the larger BMW and Triumph dual-sports. According to the instructor, it is really a gear-head's bike, since parts are hard to find, but mechanics who know how work on them are even rarer.

Bajaj to re-launch scooters

Bajaj to re-launch ungeared scooters

What in the world is going on with scooters in India? LML is in deaththroes, leaving Genuine to seek new scooters from Tiawan. Not that that is necessarily bad, those new Genuine scoots are getting some great reviews, and we in the US are getting some great alternatives to higher priced Japanese and Italian imports and lower quality Chinese disposable bikes. And Bajaj announced awhile back that it was gonna quit making it's Vespa-clones, around the time that every local news source stateside starting running articles about how "hot" scooters are becoming. Had the Indians been paying attention and played their cards right, they could have been a major player in the US scooter market. Now they will have to play catch up. Not complaining, just observing, there will be more scooters on the market, and that's (in Martha's words) "a good thing."

Two-wheeler major Bajaj Auto Ltd, which discontinued production of its only ungeared scooter Wave, will re-enter the segment with a set of ungeared scooters ranging from 75-125 cc in the first quarter of next fiscal.
Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj confirmed to FE the company's move to launch ungeared scooters. Analysts say Bajaj is also working on a 150 cc-ungeared scooter.

via 2StrokeBuzz

Comic Strip Artist's Kit

Temple of the Seven Golden Camels: Comic Strip Artist's Kit (Redux)

Finally! A new comics post!
This is pretty cool, some sage advice on panel and page layouts. Everybody just starting to do comics or cartooning should study these pages. They address some of the most common pitfalls you face when just charging in to create a comic.

The other day I got an e-mail from Carson Van Osten, a famous Disney artist who did many Disney Comic Books and created the famous "Comic Strip Artist's Kit". It was created to help beginning comic artists deal with perspective problems and other drawing difficulties. I scanned my old xeroxes a while ago. It's probably the best thing I've ever seen about practical staging and drawing for storyboards or comic books.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Election 2008

Election 2008

Some polling reports from July on "what if the 2008 presidential election was today?"
Looks like Guiliani has a strong lead amongst the Republicans, with Condeelza Rice coming second, and Newt Gringich coming in third.
My main man, Gen. Clark comes in sixth, after Edwards, Hillary, Al Gore (who has expressed in no uncertain terms that he is not interested in running again), and Biden. Personally I think that Clark is not only more "electable" than any of these, he's better equiped to do the job than any of the above, especially considering the situation we find ourselves in, internationally.

Vespa Ape

For those of you who thought the MP3 was Piaggio's first three wheeler, the Dragon presents you with the Ape The Vespa Ape, an enigma wrapped in a conundrum in the transportation world, is back. Vespa, which of course is Italian for "wasp" has been making the Ape, which is Italian for "bee", betraying it's worker drone aesthetic, a three-wheeled urban utility vehicle for nigh on 50 years. They went away for awhile, but now they are back with a diesel version as well. Wrap your head around that, you eco-hipster! An Urban Utility Vehicle, made by Vespa that you can run on biodiesel! How cool is that!

thanks to The Scooter Scoop for turning the Dragon on to this.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Oldest' New World writing found

BBC NEWS Science/Nature 'Oldest' New World writing found

"I think it's a hugely important and symbolic find... It's new and further evidence that [the Olmecs] had writing and had text."
The block was carved from precious serpentine rock, suggesting it was probably a holy object used by high orders of society for some kind of ritual activity, she said.
The inscription is indecipherable but scientists hope that further excavations at the site could give clues to its content.

US unveiling of Piaggio's MP3

Powersports Business

So it looks like Piaggio is showing off the already legendary MP3 in San Antonio soon. I wonder if this means that we'll actually get some imported to this side of the pond. I also wonder if you'd have to get a trike/sidecar endorsement to ride it in Washington State.

Piaggio Group Americas plans to show its three-wheel scooter, the MP3, October 3 at the 2006 Piaggio Dealer Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Piaggio says the first demo units recently arrived from Italy. Look for reviews of the unit in upcoming issues of many of your favorite consumer magazines - the company invited select media outlets to test ride the vehicle during the dealer event.
American Son: Wes Clark

Just did a check on Wes Clark's Youtube profile. There are three videos, the Body Armor ad, an ad for Clark Casts, and this 18 minute 45 second promo from the 2004 primary. Funny thing is this biographic film with a decidedly "look what great president this guy would make" air about it, was only posted a couple of days ago (on 09/13/06).
Which made me think two things: A)hopefully Wes is getting ready to make that "announcement" in a couple of months when the 2006 election is over, and B)if his blog took a spike in hits in any proportion to what mine did on the 5th anniversary of 9/11, maybe he's got an even better chance than I thought.

VoteVets call Senator George Allen to task.

Body Armor: VoteVets AD

If only all political ads were this straightforward and adhere to the three C's: Clear, Concise, and Concrete. Whatever your views on our current military actions in the Middle East, I think you'll agree that we shouldn't allow politicians to wrap themselves in the flag while sending troops to foreign shores, whilst cutting funding for necessary equipment and promised benefits when noone is looking. If there is a Republican incumbent Senator up for reelection in your district, I urge you to consider these facts.'s new ad features Peter Granato, a brave American who served in Iraq in 2003. Peter went to war with an obsolete flak jacket from the Vietnam era because the Bush Administration and Republicans in Congress failed to ensure that he -- and thousands of others -- had the right equipment.

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) offered an amendment to give the Guard and Reserve $1 billion to procure additional equipment, including body armor, in April 2003. But every single Republican, including George Allen, voted to kill that amendment.

I cannot overstate the importance of that failure to support the troops. Young men and women continued to go into harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan without the right protection because the Republicans didn't think it was worth spending the money. Yet George Bush and the Republican Party were all too willing to pass billions of dollars of tax cuts for the wealthy.

This vote is a disgrace, and has launched the bluntest ad of the entire political season to hold George Allen accountable for his foolish -- and deadly -- vote. Please watch it, and then let's keep it on the air.
-- From Gen. Wes Clark at WesPAC

The Electric Unicycle

The Electric Unicycle

um... yeah. This falls under stuff I think is cool, and I'm glad there are people crazy... er um, creative enough to actually design it, but I don't think I'd even want to try it. If YOU think it's the greatest thing ever, and just have to have one, there are instructions on the linked page.

The Electric Unicycle's only control is the on-off switch. The rider controls everything else by shifting his weight. You lean forward to accelerate, lean backwards to brake, and gyrate your arms wildly to turn. With a little practice you can get more graceful and keep your arms mostly by your side.

Wandering Wheels Seniors - Kymco 50cc Scooters - Motorcyclist Magazine

Wandering Wheels Seniors - Kymco 50cc Scooters - Motorcyclist Magazine

File under: You are never too old to do something crazy!

Kymco's reviews just seem to get better and better. But I have to say that when Jes and I were shopping for boots at a local Suzuki dealership, we killed some time sitting on the available scooters. They had pretty much the whole range of Kymcos, and while I like the lines of the Peoples, I found there wasn't enough room for my long legs on the floorboards. I can't see riding for long in barstool posture that the tall seats and short floorboards force you into. The Xcitings were much more comfortable, if I could just get over my prejudices against maxi-scooter styling.

On July 7, when 23 scooters, mostly KYMCO 50cc models, pulled into Myrtle Beach, SC, the jubilant group of riders organized by "Wandering Wheels" celebrated a dream come true. They had just successfully two-wheeled across the USA on back roads: 3500 miles in 20 days.
It was a truly amazing feat made more incredible by two other facts: nearly all of the riders were between 65 and 80 years old, and the large majority had made the trip with only 50cc displacement engines!

Motorcycle Safety Foundation

Motorcycle Safety Foundation

I've seen several articles lately about the disproportionate
rise in motorcycling fatalities to motorcycle riding. So I don't feel too square doing another post about two-wheeler safety. If you are going to be riding TAKE ONE OF MSF's safety classes! Heck, you might even be lucky enough to live somewhere that has scooter classes. If not, you can always check out the handbook here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

All Hail Eris!

BBC NEWS Science/Nature Astronomers name 'world of chaos'

Personally the Dragon is gleeful that Pluto has been knocked down a peg and Eris dances (as she always has) with the stars.

The SOCRATIC APPROACH is most successful when confronting theignorant. The "socratic approach" is what you call starting an argument byasking questions. You approach the innocent and simply ask "Did you know that God's name is ERIS, and that He is a girl?" If he should answer "Yes." then he probably is a fellow Erisian and so you can forget it. If he says "No." then quickly proceed to:
THE BLIND ASSERTION and say "Well, He Is a girl, and His name is ERIS!" Shrewedly observe if the subject is convinced. If he is, swear him into the Legion of Dynamic Discord before he changes his mind. If he does not appear convinced, then proceed to:
THE FAITH BIT: "But you must have Faith! All is lost without Faith! I sure feel sorry for you if you don't have Faith." And then add:
THE ARGUMENT BY FEAR and in an ominous voice ask "Do you know whathappens to those who deny Goddess?" If he hesitates, don't tell him that hewill surely be reincarnated as a precious Mao Button and distributed to thepoor in the Region of Thud (which would be a mean thing to say), just shakeyour head sadly and, while wiping a tear from your eye, go to:
THE FIRST CLAUSE PLOY wherein you point to all of the discord andconfusion in the world and exclaim "Well who the hell do you think did all of this, wise guy?" If he says, "Nobody, just impersonal forces." then quickly respond with:
THE ARGUMENT BY SEMANTICAL GYMNASTICS and say that he is absolutelyright, and that those impersonal forces are female and that Her name is ERIS. If he, wonder of wonders, still remains obstinate, then finally resort to:
THE FIGURATIVE SYMBOLISM DODGE and confide that sophisticated peoplelike himself recognize that Eris is a Figurative Symbol for an IneffableMetaphysical Reality and that The Erisian Movement is really more like a poem than like a science and that he is liable to be turned into a Precious Mao Button and Distributed to The Poor in The Region of Thud if he does not get hip. Then put him on your mailing list.

Eris' discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, told the Associated Press that the name was an obvious choice, calling it "too perfect to resist".
In mythology, Eris caused a quarrel among goddesses that sparked the Trojan War. In real life, Eris also caused strife, forcing scientists to produce a strict definition of the term planet - and that eventually led to Pluto losing the status it had held since its discovery in 1930.
-- from the BBC article

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