6.25.2004

Awwwwwww

Puppy prevents Canadian killing spree

A Canadian man, driving a car packed with weapons and ammunition, was intent on killing as many people as possible in a Toronto neighbourhood but gave up the plan at the last minute when he encountered a friendly dog, police say.

The middle-aged man, who police say is mentally disturbed, had planned to carry out the shooting spree on Wednesday to ensure he would be put in jail permanently.

Police say he had set himself up in an east-end park to load his weapons and then planned to drive around shooting.

He told police that a dog then approached and started playing with him.

Police say the encounter melted the man's heart, and he then went in search of police to give himself up.

"He happens to be a pet lover, and decided that since there was such a nice dog in the area, that people were too nice and he wasn't going to carry out his plan," Detective Nick Ashley said.

Police have found 6,000 rounds of ammunition, two rifles, a shotgun, a semi-automatic pistol, a revolver and an air rifle in the man's car, along with a machete and a hunting knife.

The car also contains a throwing knife, a camouflage mask and netting.

James Paul Stanson, 43, has been charged with a variety of weapons-related offences and appeared in court for a bail hearing on Thursday.

-- Reuters

6.24.2004

Image of the day

In the interest of science, and by request, I give you a false color IR image of part of the Alabama coastline, somewhere near 30.30N and 88.60W.

False color IR imagery is made by combining two images recorded in the visible spectrum with one in the infrared. In this typical case, Landsat 7 spectral bands 4, 3, and 2 were combined as red, green and blue respectively. Since vegetation has a high reflectance of the near-IR spectrum, it all appears red in false color IR imagery. More on remote sensing later.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Landsat ETM+ P/R:021/039, 02-17-2001

Staying sane in an insane world

I'm over politics for a while. Pointing out the illogical rhetoric that flows from the heretical demagogues in the bush administration is just too easy and I am not malicious enough to beat up on the mentally deficient. Or to keep doing it, I should say.

They may be in charge of us, but they're not in charge of the situation and they're not even in charge of themselves, so I'm going to leave these morons alone for a while and trust natural selection to run it's course. Someone please wake me when the adults are back in town.

It looks like this next week is going to be depressing anyway, the turnover of power to the Iraqis is going to be bloody, real bloody, with lots of women and kids caught in the crossfire. We can only hope that when the dust settles they hate us a little bit less than the other guys.

At any rate, I'm over it. It's driving me insane. You may be asking yourself "how can we deal with such an insane world?"

Let me tell ya.

You have to look at the upside of things, no matter how small. At work lately I've decided to give random compliments just for the hell of it.
"Your signature on this paper was very neat and legible."

or

"You sure lifted that box well, bending with the knees in a safe manner and exhibiting a graceful efficiency of motion."

or

"When I came in this morning, I noticed that you had parked your car exceptionally straight in the parking space. Well done."
It's as easy as that. You don't try to fight the insanity, you embrace it, and pass it on to someone else.

6.23.2004

The Great Villa Straylight Gmail Giveaway

Villa Straylight is in posession of several Gmail invites to give away. The cool thing to do would be to hold a contest of some sort, but we here at Villa Straylight are a little low on the time and patience required for such a thing, so just give me a good reason why you need a gmail account and maybe you'll get lucky. I said "maybe", don't get your hopes up too high

6.22.2004

New Freedom

There is a story making the rounds at the dreaded WorldNetDaily titled "Bush to screen population for mental illness" in which, basically, Bush wants people to have access to better mental health screening and treatment.

The problem is that the drug companies have more or less bought off the government these days and it's probably going to cause more of a mess than anything.

Ho-hum. Just another day in America.

What struck me about it was the name of the commission that came up with the idea in the first place. The "President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health".

New Freedom? The New Freedom Commission? Wha...?

"New Freedom" is not an original term and was used by the progressive Woodrow Wilson, a liberals liberal, in his policies to use government to "level the playing field". The end result supposedly being that once it was leveled the government could ease off and let everyone prosper without intrusion.

Conservatives, which have the collective IQ of a shoelace these days remember him like they remember everybody except Reagan, Limbaugh and Bush; as a socialist, leftist, anit-business liberal who had a hand in laying the groundwork for the creation of the welfare state.

Oddly, many intelligent and thoughtful people (i.e. not conservatives) have equated Bush's foreign policy with Wilson's not to mention many other facets of the Bush presidency and almost everyone agrees Wilson was a liberals liberal.

But back to the "New Freedom Commission." That must be a catch phrase like freedom fries. Probably signed into law by a freedom pen on freedom paper at the freedom desk by a sheltered elite president who throws the word around like it's going out of style but hasn't even a fuzzy clue what it means.

Conservatives should hate Bush. He is the epitome of everything they say they are against but once again he has subtlely co-opted freedom as reliance on the government and I guarantee conservatives will think it's the greatest idea since sliced bread. Wilson would be proud.

I am ashamed. I don't care about Wilson, New Freedom, or conservatives, but if they want to sell out they should just do it openly. The outright intellectual dishonesty involved in the process has been a terrible thing to watch these past couple of years.

6.20.2004

The first neocon?

I have long said that Iraq is not Vietnam, it's the Philippines stupid!

In the 1890s Spain was a decrepit old empire who was having a hard time holding onto it's possessions. Have you ever seen Citizen Kane? Well, Kane was based on William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate who sold papers by sensationalizing or just making up stories of Spanish atrocities in their territories. This was called "yellow journalism" and although the subject was usually Cuba, it was enough to get the American public angry enough to fight the Spanish-American War in 1898. You could say it was a war of liberation, freeing people from under Spanish rule.

The Filipinos had been fighting a revolution against Spanish when the US won. When America sent troops to annex the nation a year later, the rebels turned their attention on us and it started a war that lasted until 1902, though some guerrillas held out until as late as 1906.

Some Americans, such as Mark Twain, were against annexation from the start and some found irony in the fact that we wanted to rule their country although we had fought to free them from the Spanish just a year earlier, but general public opinion was that the Filipinos actually wanted to be a part of the United States. I guess the public didn't think to ask what the deal was with all those guerrillas defending their homeland at first, but after news of American atrocities started coming in, support for the war dwindled.

The result was a failed attempt at annexation which cost the lives of 4,000 Americans, 20,000 Filipino soldiers, and an astounding 250,000 to 1,000,000 civilians.

Neocons have lofty ideas but are almost always poorly understand history and as a result there are many parallels between the Philippines at the turn of the century and Iraq today. Many things are different too, but one thing that has always shocked me is how closely related the things being said were during both wars. Sometimes you can take huge texts on either subject and trade the names of the countries and no one would know the difference.

Thanks to an article by Murray Polner at the History News Network I have recently become acquainted with Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge. He was Senator during the war in the Philippines and an outspoken supporter. His speeches and writings on the subject are downright frightening at times for their blatant statism, empire worship and racism. He was obviously a man who thought God had given America it's gifts and that we should use them to invade the Philippines, steal it's resources, and run the country as our own because government is a beautiful thing and the savages who lived there weren't smart enough to do it.

It is again amazing how closely the things he said are to the things being said today of Iraq. I googled his name and took a few minutes to pick out just a few quotes from the first two hits. I don't have time right now to find more than just these few, but I have heard every single one of these things from neocon apologists for over two years now.
The Opposition tells us that we ought not to govern a people without their consent. I answer, The rule of liberty that all just government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, applies only to those who are capable of self Ā­government. We govern the Indians without their consent, we govern our territories without their consent, we govern our children without their consent. How do they know what our government would be without their consent? Would not the people of the Philippines prefer the just, humane, civilizing government of this Republic to the savage, bloody rule of pillage and extortion from which we have rescued them?
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The military situation, past, present, and prospective, is no reason for abandonment. Our campaign has been as perfect as possible with the force at hand. We have been delayed, first, by a failure to comprehend the immensity of our acquisition; and, second, by insufficient force; and, third, by our efforts for peace.
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Those who complain do so in ignorance of the real situation. We attempted a great task with insufficient means; we became impatient that it was not finished before it could fairly be commenced; and I pray we may not add that other element of disaster, pausing in the work before it is thoroughly and forever done. That is the gravest mistake we could possibly make, and that is the only danger before us.
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A lasting peace can be secured only by overwhelming forces in ceaseless action until universal and absolutely final defeat is inflicted on the enemy. To halt before every armed force, every guerrilla band opposing us is dispersed or exterminated will prolong hostilities and leave alive the seeds of perpetual insurrection.
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It has been charged that our conduct of the war has been cruel. Senators, it has been the reverse. I have been in our hospitals and seen the Filipino wounded as carefully, tenderly cared for as our own. Within our lines they may plow and sow and reap and go about the affairs of peace with absolute liberty. And yet all this kindness was misunderstood, or rather not understood. Senators must remember that we are not dealing with Americans or Europeans.
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Mr. President, reluctantly and only from a sense of duty am I forced to say that American opposition to the war has been the chief factor in prolonging it. Had Aguinaldo not understood that in America, even in the American Congress, even here in the Senate, he and his cause were supported; had he not known that it was proclaimed on the stump and in the press of a faction in the United States that every shot his misguided followers fired into the breasts of American soldiers was like the volleys fired by Washington's men against the soldiers of King George, his insurrection would have dissolved before it entirely crystallized.
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It is believed and stated [by our enemies that they] have only to fight, harass, retreat, break up into small parties, if necessary, as they are doing now, but by any means hold out until the next presidential election, and our forces will be withdrawn.
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All this has aided the enemy more than climate, arms, and battle. Senators, I have heard these reports myself; I have talked with the people; I have seen our mangled boys in the hospital and field; I have stood on the firing line and beheld our dead soldiers, their faces turned to the pitiless southern sky, and in sorrow rather than anger I say to those whose voices in America have cheered those misguided natives on to shoot our soldiers down, that the blood of those dead and wounded boys of ours is on their hands, and the flood of all the years can never wash that stain away. In sorrow rather than anger I say these words, for I earnestly believe that our brothers knew not what they did.
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Mr. President, this question is deeper than any question of party politics; deeper than any question of the isolated policy of our country even; deeper even than any question of constitutional power. It is elemental. ... God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation and self-admiration. No! He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given us the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth.
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Do you tell me that it will cost us money? When did Americans ever measure duty by financial standards? Do you tell me of the tremendous toil required to overcome the vast difficulties of our task? What mighty work for the world, for humanity, even for ourselves has ever been done with ease? Even our bread must we eat by the sweat of our faces. Why are we charged with power such as no people ever knew if we are not to use it in a work such as no people ever wrought?

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