Monthly Archives: June 2005

Life is music

Tomorrow morning I hop a plane to Phoenix where I'll briefly hook up with Steve and Jesse and hopefully get my magnet implanted. Then Rachel and I drive south through Mexico's mainland and take a ferry to La Paz; I'll take pictures documenting that for anyone considering the same drive… I made a few mix CDs for us to listen to on the drive (that's part of the fun of roadtrips, right?);

Set One: All (Rebel Yell), Antipop Consortium (Ping Pong), The Bees (A Minha Menina), The Beta Band (Won), The Bomboras (Land of the One Percenters), The Brian Jonestown Massacre (Maybe Tomorrow, Mansion In The Sky, The Godspell According To A.A. Newcombe), Cagney And Lacee (By The Way, Greyhound Goin' Somewhere), Chuck D (Wake up the sleeping giant), Dick Dale (Ginza Ska – Pike), El Vez (Arm Of Obregon), Fred Lane (White Woman), Fugitives (Set The People Free, White Hip Hop Youth, Young Black Male), Genesis (Harold the Barrel), The Get Up Kids (Close To Me), Goat Horn (Threatening Force), Guided By Voices (I am a Scientist), Hillbilly Hellcats (Hillbilly Cats On Speed), The Jesus and Mary Chain (Happy When it Rains, Down on Me), John Cameron Mitchell (Wig In A Box), Ladytron (the way that I found you, Seventeen), Lush (Hypocrite), The Maledictus Sound (Attention!), Mercury Rev (Opus 40), The Mountain Goats (Color in Your Cheeks), NoFX (Electricity), Pansy Division (James Bondage, Denny), Phoenix (If I Ever Feel Better, Too Young – Zoot Woman Remix), The Pixies (Cecilia Ann, Here Comes Your Man), The Pogues (Hell's Ditch, Fiesta), Rheostatics (Claire), RjD2 (Final Frontier, Ghostwriter), Royksopp (Eple, Royksopp's night out, Poor Leno – Instanbul Forever Take), Spiritualized (Do it all over again, The twelve steps), Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited (Korta Rides Again), Sunstorm (Automatic), Supersuckers (Sweet 'n' Sour Jesus), Swingin' Neck Breakers (Good, Good Lovin'), Tenpole Tudor (Swords Of A Thousand Men), They Might Be Giants (I Palindrome I), Tinypixel (Sloop John B), Ween (Bananas And Blow, Falling Out)

Set Two: Antony (Bird Guhl, Hope There's Someone), Carmen Quinones (It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World), Coldcut (Autumn Leaves), deardarkhead (Never Coming Down), Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions (Drop), Impossible Shapes (Putrefaction), Iron and Wine (Faded from the Winter), Kings of Convenience (Winning a battle, losing the war), Lupine Howl (Voodoo Raygun), Mercury Rev (Little Rhymes, In the Wilderness), Mojave 3 (Return to sender, Anyday will be fine, Prayer for the damned, Some Kinda Angel, This Road I'm Travelling), Monster Movie (Shortwave), My Bloody Valentine (When You Sleep), My Morning Jacket (Bermuda Highway), Neil Halstead (Hi-Lo and Inbetween, Dreamed I Saw Soldiers), Papa M (Sorrow Reigns, The Lass of Roch Royal, Glad You're Here With Me), Sly and the Family Stone (Time), Spaceman 3 (Che), Stina Nordenstam (I See You Again), Sunstorm (Desert Song), Swearing at motorists (Creature of Habits), The Brian Jonestown Massacre (All Things Great & Small), The Reindeer Section (Budapest), The Sixth Great Lake (27 Forever, 300 Miles), This Mortal Coil (You And Your Sister)

I think I have this year “all tripped out” with journeys to Europe (France and Spain in July and the UK in I think October), Venezuela (July), and Patagonia (December) already scheduled, but next year I really want to take the ferry from the Shetland Islands to the Faroe Islands to Iceland. Rachel doesn't really like the cold very much, but I absolutely love the North Atlantic (not that I don't like pretty much anything on the ocean). I saw some links recently to the Faroe Islands which got me thinking about it again; it reminds me a lot of parts of Eastern Canada.

The photos below of the Faroe Islands link to the source site where you can find more.

The Shetland Islands (left) and Iceland (right) are similarly beautiful.

Maybe it's having played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, which I always imagine being set in such a place, or maybe it's something deeper like some Scottish highlander or Viking genes buried away somewhere in me, but I have an incredibly emotional response to these landscapes. It could also be that one of my dreams in life is to be left alone by everyone other than Rachel and a few friends (that probably includes you if you're reading this, don't worry), so I guess these remote islands appeal to me on that level as well. Maybe one day… Gotta get skinny Rachel fat like me so she prefers the cold maybe?

I love the idea of living in a place like this, having a big garden that grows most of my food, maybe some pigs and goats, a wind and solar system that supplies all the power I need, and being able to live a life where I take less from the world than I give and live with some sense of serenity — which is not currently the case for me, nor for most people in the “modernized” nations. The thing that sucks is that we certainly have the technology already to create a society where humans improve the world rather than slowly eating it and shitting out poison in place of the beauty we consume.

The systems already exist to allow every person to generate their own power and clean their own water without pulling out any more than the water table will allow. The systems already exist that allow us to transport ourselves without polluting. The systems already exist that allow us to produce healthful and delicious food locally and without chemicals or hormones. The systems already exist to end disease, hunger, and poverty… Want to know why they're not being used?

Because they're distributed, and we live in a capitalist system that by its very design moves assets upwards and collects them in the hands of a small number of people — and these two models can not live together with any harmony as long as the average person is a sheep.

Most of the solutions that can save our species — which as I said, already exist — are small scale. For example, rather than monstrous centralized power generation systems, every house can generate its own power and other needs, feeding back what it doesn't need into the grid to balance loads. The “problem” with these systems is that they don't allow for centralization, which in turn does not allow for centralization of profit. Systems like this distribute profits, and instead of distilling assets to a small number of centralized entities, keep them local and split between many people. Thus the most powerful people and corporations on the world are threatened by them and fight against them.

Welcome to the power of advertising, which can make otherwise reasonable people commit suicide and embrace slavery.

Rich and Virile!

Somehow I don't think this particular advertising copy would be used today — not that it's not how Republicans love to think of themselves. This is from a 1966 review of the Intermeccanica Fitch Phoenix, a very rare car from a fascinating little company:

"It's something else, Mate. It handles like a cross between a late-model Porsche and the best Corvair you ever drove in your life. The bodywork is wild. It doesn't look like anything you're used to, but you know instantly that it's SOMETHING!
Rich! Virile! Republican!"

If you're wondering what the funny bulges at the rear of the front fenders are, they're storage compartments for the spare tires! I think the late sixties and early seventies are by far my favorite era for sportscars… Speaking of flashy, I wanted to point out what BMEshop just got in stock:

Most of the sizes right now are just stocked from 4ga to an inch, but in the cubic zirconia, Ryan and Corrie have a few in stock up to 1 3/4″. Pricing (whew!) is by the pair lest you get too freaked out &mdsah; they're definitely not cheap in the huge sizes, but these are really gorgeous plugs.

Sorry they're split up somewhat confusingly, but the new BMEshop finally gets unveilled on July 1st, so you can expect big changes then that will, among other things, make BMEshop much easier to use.

I am definitely going to hell for this

Got the following email:


I don't know why people assume I would have any idea what that means, especially given the incomplete cropping, but here's how I pre-booked my travel arrangements to a much warmer place than Mexico:


"Bara Zoku", which means "Rose Gang".
More information here: updated

I know it always comes as a surprise to people that I would maintain a non-political military site, but I do have family and many friends serving in active duty and I feel very strongly that it's important that there be a place that's totally clear of politics where the people involved can share their experience visually. Thus Under Mars: An online archive of soldiers' photos; I've just added another page of shots from Iraq, a mix of funny photos and work photos (many from the election).

Please be warned that while this set is all “safe” photos there are some very graphic photos on the site.

Whispers of some quiet conversation


I've just posted a whopping 4,060 image update (and I still have another seven thousand or so images left to process in my inbox). Thank you to everyone who sent in pictures, and to Braindrops Princess for the cover shot of a Kayan woman — there are lots more pictures on her page (and on BME) of her adventures in Borneo.

Most people already know about the Downing Street Memo which shows that the US was fabricating intelligence in order to go to war, but a number of other damning memos have come out recently as well. Another memo (which you can read here) shows that not only was intelligence being “fixed around the policy” — and that the government needed to work to find an “excuse” to go to war — but also says that no preparations for the long term realities were being made. Then of course there's also new new revelations that the CIA specifically blocked the FBI from receiving information about the 9/11 attacks in 2000. But that's old news, right? Who cares?

While terrorism is way up, and arrests of people on all sorts of charges via the PATRIOT act are up, convictions for terrorism are slim to none, with a total of 39 people being convicted of terrorism charges since 9/11 — and few have anything to do with terrorism of the Islamic extremist type; most of them are tied to Columbian drug cartels and so on (a problem effectively manufactured by America's insane “war on drugs”). And it's not as if the military is having much more luck, with senior officials saying that there is no long term solution to the insurgency in Iraq. With 1,700 American combat deaths (and twenty thousand wounded), and even with 60% of Americans and even Republican congressmen calling for at least making a plan to withdraw, the Bush Whitehouse absolutely refuses.

Not that voting means anything to Republicans — even internally! At a recent King County GOP convention, even though 2% more votes were cast than the entire count of voters, they ignored the discrepancy entirely. So far in the Palm Beach County audit (remember how Bush got “elected”?) is showing a whopping 44% anomaly rate. In the New Perfect America, there's no need to vote; the government will do it for you. I suppose it could be worse — in American “Ally” Saudi Arabia, not only do they not allow voting, but they don't even let their women drive cars.

As I write this their account is suspended for bandwidth overuse reasons, but there's a new “Christian Flag” being promoted for the United States, and it has growing support among Americans — “Blessed is the country whose God is Lord”, say the person who came up with it, explaining how “God” put the idea and design in her head (you see, God loves the clipart and has no sense of design).

The scripture quoted on the flag is Matthew 24:14 , which is a fucking apocalyptic call for holy war“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Amusingly the eagle holds in its beak an earlier Jesus quote from Matthew — “Watch out that no one deceives you.”

I say “amusingly” because she's selling the flags for $70 and they're protected by copyright and she's given no permission for others to use the design. Thank “God” for her that the US leads in mental illness but lags in treatment, right? She's hit a goldmine.

Via this MeFi thread, some other areas where the US leads:

  • Highest percentage of people in the world who say they are “very proud of their nationality.”
  • More assaults, burglaries, car thefts, rapes, and total crimes than any other country in the world.
  • Most people prosecuted and imprisoned, both per capita and in gross numbers.
  • Highest energy consumption (in basically all forms) both in gross numbers and per capita, coupled with the highest municipal waste generation and pollution both in gross numbers and per capita.
  • Most endangered species of any country in the world.
  • More child abuse deaths per capita than anywhere in the world.
  • Largest military in the world, including largest military exporter (ie. arms dealer).
  • Largest spender both per capita and in gross numbers on bioweapons, chemical weapons, missiles, and nuclear weaponry.
  • In terms of mortality the United States has the highest international rate of central nervous system anomalies in the world, as well as the highest rate of lung and breathing problems, heart attacks, anal abscesses, hepatitis, accidental strangulation in bed, renal failure, dog attacks, lawnmower accidents, cystic fibrosis, suicide related to mental illness, spleen diseases, eating disorders, explosions, electrocutions, falling off cliffs, influenza, and just about everything else.
  • More deaths from starvation than any other country in the world.
  • Highest cancer rate in the world.
  • Highest schizophrenia rate, depression rate, obsessive compulsive rate, and manic depressive rate in the world.
  • Highest obesity rate in the world.
  • Highest divorce rate (and marriage rate) in the world.
  • Largest amount of one-person households in the world.
  • Highest teenage pregnancy rate (and birth rate) in the world, both in raw number and per capita.
  • Largest foreign ownership of domestic assets (ie. foreign entities owning parts of the US).
  • Largest foreign debt of any country in the world.

Welcome to America, motherfucker.

That said, it's not all bad. The US is a nation of contradictions — and less people died of being bitten by a rat than any other country in the world. But seriously, it's the last two, combined with the military expenditures that get scary — did you know that at this point, over two thirds of the US budget goes to the military? For every dollar the US government receives, 68 cents goes to “defense”. So what you've got is a country that's armed to the teeth and both nationally and on a per-citizen basis teetering toward bankruptcy.

What do you think is going to happen when oil spikes (more), and America's debtors come to collect as they see their window of opportunity shrinking? America's “good buddy” the UK is already arming oil-rich African nations worried about a US invasion, and Israel is sending tech to China. America's early military recruitment program of children as young as 11 and below should give you some hint as to what is being prepared for. That said, even with lowered standards and outrageous $40k signing bonuses, they're not having much luck convincing people to become cannon fodder.

Speaking of China, Microsoft is working with the Chinese government to make sure that dirty words like “democratic movement” are censored from networks under their control. Not that it's a whole lot better in America, with anyone who pushes their dissent too far being silenced — including elected offiscians. Then of course there's the scientists in America, with a sizeable number admitting to creating fraudulent work in order to please their corporate sponsors (do they have a choice?)…

Most of America doesn't even notice this stuff because they're kept in a state of perpetual self-hate, even sending their children off to “re-education camps” (monstrous) when they turn out as something other than the cookie-cutter intended. Don't underestimate how much power these “Godly” groups have — they've been successfully boycotting advertisors of shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, convincing companies not to go near these “gay menaces” (and media censorship is far broader than just anti-homosexual fronts; broadcast this, get cancelled).

And all the while, the aristocrats grow richer.

Remember how I mentioned recently about Brazil being a major biofuel producer? Before you start feeling all warm about that, let me point out the sad fact that they're doing this at the cost of the rainforest. In other environmental news, more bird flu cases are showing up in China, who admit that all their efforts to contain the outbreak have failed. I don't think I can take this any more right now.

Anyway, I'm cutting this entry short. This is about all of this crap I can take today. I think I'm going to write an uplifting entry tomorrow, this is way to depressing to read every day.

Here's a nice picture that I took in Africa, just north of Pretoria.

Breathe in, breathe out…