Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sonia Shah: "The Tiniest Trash Bin"

Author and independent journalist Sonia Shah's latest article for Orion Magazine is The Tiniest Trash Bin. It is an interesting albeit brief account of her personal experience with the differing notions of consumption, waste, and re-use.

About Sonia Shah:

Not On Target

Here is some bad news. Target has decided to no longer allow Salvation Army bellringers to collect money outside of its stores during the Christmas season. The Salvation Army will be accepting donations online at www.ring2help.org. Wish I could bring myself to boycott Target, but I just ... cannot ... resist ... fashionable products ... at ... discount prices ... Strength failing ...

OK, So Not Everyone Had a Happy Thanksgiving

Via The Juggler, here is some info about the National Day of Mourning.

Coles Hill Plaque -- click for story Coles Hill Plaque (photo by Nicole S.) http://home.earthlink.net/~uainendom/

Friday, November 26, 2004

Friday Pet Blogging -- CATS

[Wouldn't ya know it. I wrote this post before I left my house on Wednesday and saved it as a draft so that I could easily publish it for today. And then I promptly forgot to do so! Oh well, here is my late entry for Friday. Next Friday I will post pics of my parents' new puppies -- I just spent a good bit of my Thanksgiving Day taking digital pics of them!] Here are a couple of recent photos of our boys, Milo & Otis. First ... Milo!

Milo cleans foot -- click for larger image Milo follows good hygiene and cleans his feet after each play sesson.

And then ... Otis!

Otis looking for mischief -- click for larger image Otis: "What kind of mischief can I get into now...?"

I'm guessing that Otis is looking to jump right on Milo's head. Wouldn't be the first time.

Don't forget to check The Modulator for today's compilation of pet posts from other bloggers (as well as links to archived compilations). And you can check Prophet or Madman's previous Pet Blog posts for more Milo & Otis:

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Break from Blogging

By the way .... I am currently in my hometown of St. Marys, PA -- not my homebase of Bucks County, PA. So I might have to delay further posts until Monday, 11/29. You see, I am staying at my folks' house and they are still struggling along with dial-up access. Grrrrrrr. On the bright side ... my wife will be thankful that I am forced to spend less time on the computer for a few days. :)

Happy Thanksgiving (or Whatever Harvest Festival You Might Celebrate)!

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, a holiday with both secular and religious roots. I already touched upon this in my last post, but I hope you'll excuse me for the following ramble:
Today is a day for all of us to be thankful. Whether you express thanks to one god, or many, or to simply your own ability, you have a reason to be thankful. And I hope that, in some small way, you were able to share your bounty with others more in need.
I am thankful for my health, for my family (wife, parents, sister, etc.), friends, and for gainful employment. I am thankful for this moment in time, and for the opportunity to share it with others. And, yes, I am thankful for the Internet. The 'net is, of course, one of the reasons for my gainful employment and a tool for many of my hobbies -- like blogging! Oh, and since I mentioned sharing, I always try to support the local charity Philabundance and their comrade in arms at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission (215-922-6400) with financial donations. The SBRM has a decidedly Christian slant, but you don't have to support that aspect if it bothers you; you can specify to have your entire donation go to food. If anyone knows of some good pagan/heathen charities in the Delaware Valley, please let me know!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Over the River ...

Well, Thanksgiving is almost upon us. My wife and I will leave tomorrow morning for our annual visit to my folks in my hometown -- and we will make our annual stopover in State College, PA, for a little shopping Penn State style. According to the AP, this nation could possibly see Thanksgiving made illegal as a national holiday. Maybe in the not too distant future. It might sound ridiculous, but Thanksgiving is apparently seen as a typical part of the targeted phenomenon known as ''civil religion,'' referring to generalized acknowledgments of the national heritage of faith in God that fit as many religions as possible. However, nonbelievers, or followers of religions with many gods, or with no gods, could find reason to object, even while they enjoy roast turkey and an extra day off [Messenger-Inquirer.com]. Perhaps people with no religious or spiritual inclination do take offense with Thanksgiving. But I believe that most other religious traditions -- regardless of the number or lack of deities -- have at their heart a common cause in Thanksgiving. The oldest spiritual traditions involve celebrations of thanks for good harvests and prayers of sustenance to help the family through the coming winter. I also believe that anyone who actually has a problem with Thanksgiving is someone who actually has a gripe with the Judeo-Christian culture that seems to permeate the United States -- particularly at the commercial (one might call it "secular") level. Whatever your personal inclination, I do wish each and every person who stops by this blog a very Happy Thanksgiving. Whether or not you are a US citizen, whether or not your country celebrates a national day of thanks, I wish that you have enough: Enough food, enough love, enough liberty .... enough of whatever you need to get through the day.

Something Fun: The Ultrainteractive KungFu-Remixer!

LokiSpeak (who is still on hiatus from blogging) shared a link to the ULTRAINTERACTIVE KUNGFU-REMIXER. This thing is pretty cool. It requires flash, and there is sound, and it may load slowly on dial-up connections, but "a good fight is always worth the wait!" Once it loads, you can choose from four different sound modes (suspense, mystery, fight, and victory) and then press keys (or click the keyboard map with your mouse) to remix and play fight sequences. You can even record your work and play it back; but you cannot save your work for posterity ... yet. The designers are planning to add a database so that "users can store their results and share it with others, thereby giving Bruce a small virtual home." Go re-animate the dragon, now!

43 Things

43 Things is an interesting site where you can enter or select 43 different things that you want to do in the next year. I'm getting caught up in it, too The structure of these list items -- and perhaps even the technology behind it -- is similar to that of the Tags page at Flickr [Flickr.com]. At Flickr, the larger the link, the more popular the tag (by the way, my popular tags are here). In fact, one user observes that the growth of the collaborative pieces at 43 Things is organic like "the new folksonomy model of Flickr." Speaking of Flickr, I use it to host images for my photoblog, [sub]urban [text]ure. (Ooooh, such a subtle plug ... NOT).

Monday, November 22, 2004

EU and (Muslim) Immigration

Here are a few recent articles regarding immigration in European Union member countries. And they all seem to be coming down fairly hard on Muslim immigrants in particular. Is this a dangerous new trend, the result of overreaction, or something else? Adapt to local ways, EU tells immigrants
Associated Press European Union justice and interior ministers agreed Friday that new immigrants to the 25-nation bloc should be required to learn local languages and adhere to general “European values” that will guide them toward better integration. Dutch immigration minister Rita Verdonk, who presided over the meeting, said all countries agreed to make integrating newcomers a priority, considering the growing ethnic tensions as EU nations struggle to absorb a steady stream of poor, mostly Muslim immigrants. [Full Story]
EU' s Immigration Policy Toughens
Recurring tension throughout the continent following the murdering of Dutch moviemaker Theo Van Gogh has led the European Union (EU) to consider tough preventive measures. A similar policy to the highly criticized tight immigration policy implemented by US administration after the September 11th may also be implemented in Europe. Europe, which criticized the US for taking "anti-democratic preventive measures against terror" after the September 11th, has been gradually shifting to a similar line. [Full Story]
Integration Debate Heats up in Germany

Leading German politicians have said Muslims will have to integrate themselves better if they wish to remain in the country. This coincides with conservatives' calls to emphasize patriotism and Christian values. [Full Story]

The Haze Can Be Seen From Space

Here is a news story in sharp contrast to the nice pics I posted on Friday: New Scientist has posted clouds of pollution as pictured from space. The images were captured by two NASA satellites -- Aqua and Terra -- using MODIS. This time around, they only captured photos of eastern China and northern India. Scientists going over the images believe the smog is created by coal fueled power plants, fireplaces in private homes, and -- of course -- vehicle exhaust. Now, aren't these areas that have a high number of bikers? And I am talking about the pedal variety, not Easy Rider. Granted, the coal fires are going to have a huge effect on the atmosphere, but I would think that a lower number of vehicles would help keep the smog down. Or has their use of automobiles skyrocketed in recent years? If that is the case, then we all really need to start looking at hybrids and other alternatives to fossil-fueled transportation. But what? What could be introduced that would cause the fewest waves across economic climes? Or is that the point -- that in order to correct the problem, we have to perform radical socio-economic and political surgery?

Amazing Kreskin -- Corruption Buster??

I couldn't believe it. I read it in The Morning Call on Saturday, and then I found it WNBC.com and even a longer article at Canada.com. The Amazing Kreskin, who bills himself as "the world's foremost mentalist," wants to help his home state of New Jersey stem the tide of shady practices in government. In a letter to acting Gov. Richard J. Codey, Kreskin offered his "non-partisan services" to sniff out folks with ulterior motives. According to Kreskin:
"If a person is coming in with a strong hidden agenda, they're thinking about it. They're focusing on it. I could get a ... strong sense (of that)."
Geez. Where were his services when we needed to find those weapons of mass destruction? Why didn't he offer to help find hostages taken by insurgents in Iraq? Or, better yet, could he help train screeners at the airports?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Ow, My Blog

I just had to point you to some fine writing, including musings on Buddhism and Politics, at Ow, My Blog. The blog's own description reads:
Buddhism, Aikido, art, books, music, and other stuff that gets stuck in your head. "There is one kind of person in the world: the kind that divides the world into two kinds of people, and the kind that does not."
I also recommend that you glance at the disclaimer.

BBC News: Pupils Scared by Asteroid Spoof

BBC News posted this story about a teacher in Manchester who spoofed his students with an asteroid calamity story. Apparently, the spoof announcement (an asteroid is on collision course with the Earth and you're all going to die!) was -- and I quote -- "designed to teach 14-year-olds the importance of seizing the day." But things don't always go as planned with kids .... and this was no exception. It backfired. The kids got upset and started to cry. Man, when I was a kid, school assemblies would only bore you to tears ... or death. We were never really threatened with it.

Required Viewing: 300 Miles High

300 Miles High -- Images of Planet Earth -- Click to Enter
300 miles up is the vantage point of a typical space shuttle orbit. Kokogiak has assembled an impressive collection of the best photos that were taken of our planet from this distance. 125 of them in all. According to the info page (which also features some great viewing hints and resource links):
To give credit where it is due, all these images come from NASA, which allows free reproduction for non-profit enterprises. Further credit goes to the many astronauts who actually framed and photographed many of these amazing images. Some were taken remotely, others by automatic cameras mounted on the Shuttle or the International Space Station. Nearly all are true color images, only a few have infrared coloring (green foliage looks reddish-pink).
Do yourself a favor today. Take some time and pore over these images. Let them truly seep into your soul. You will see that they display a profound truth: Political boundaries are merely a product of the human mind, which is the source of all boundaries and limitations. Bookmark 300 Miles High and return to it whenever you need a reminder of the beauty in the world that is the world. When you need a reminder that you are a part of something much larger and wondrous. When you need hope.

Friday Pet Blogging -- Milo!

Today we are graced with two photos of Milo (... sweet ... kitty ... kat ... ). First, we have a more or less active Milo:

Milo & Backpack -- click for larger image "My bag. Mine! Get your own."

And, of course, the not so active version:

Milo catching yet more Z's -- click for larger image "Z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z ..."

I guess guarding that bag was harder than it looked. Don't forget to check The Modulator for today's compilation of pet posts from other bloggers (as well as links to archived compilations).

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Clinton -- A Presidential Center Dedicated; A Legacy Pondered

Wired News carries a brief Reuters write-up of the dedication ceremony for the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. My favorite quote in the story comes from Bill Clinton himself; addressing America's political divide, he reveals:
"I once said to a friend of mine about three days before the election... 'You know, am I the only person in the entire United States of America who likes both George W. Bush and John Kerry, who believes they're both good people, who believes they both love our country and they just see the world differently?"
Could Bubba be the person to cross that divide? I would like to believe he could. He is an accomplished politician, and he has a burning desire to leave a positive legacy. Perhaps, as some folks have whispered, Bush should make Clinton the Special Envoy to the Middle East. There is no shortage of love for Clinton overseas. And his ego would ensure that he would keep working at the peace process until he got it right. What better way to shift his legacy from a blue dress? [Added 11:34PM] -- By the way, Michael Smerconish, a Philadelphia-based talk radio host and author of Flying Blind, mentioned this very idea on his show this morning as well as in his Daily News column -- you might need a free registration to read it. I just read it in my local paper. Check it out! (I am referring to his column, not my paper).

Really Old Pit

From the story:

In the growing debate about when people first appeared on this continent, a leading archaeologist said Wednesday hehas discovered what could be sooty evidence of human occupation in North America tens of thousands of years earlier than is commonly believed. University of South Carolina archaeologist Al Goodyear said he has uncovered a layer of charcoal from a possible hearth or fire pit at a site near the Savannah River. Samples from the layer have been laboratory-dated to more than 50,000 years old. Yet Goodyear stopped short of declaring it proof of the continent's earliest human occupation.

Full AP story over at Yahoo.

Colin Powell's Resignation (It's a Pity)

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post Writers Group wrote an interesting take on Colin Powell and his resignation from his position as Bush's Secretary of State. Lots of folks are disappointed -- but not necessarily surprised -- with Powell's course of action. But Cohen here, after relating Powell to the beleagured MacBeth rather than Hamlet, writes:
The pity is not that Powell has resigned as secretary of state. The pity is that he did not do so quickly.
He comes to this conclusion because Powell, who did disagree frequently with his colleagues in Bush's administration -- and with President Bush himself -- did nothing significant about it. I can agree with him to a point. I am disappointed in Powell's performance in the State Department (but such disappointment is less than that which I feel for the Bush administration as a whole). I'm afraid now that a potentially great moderate voice will fade into history.
See also Powell Valediction, an examination of why Powell resigned and how he will be remembered [at Foreign Policy]. Note: You know, prior to the Republican National Convention, I was truly hoping that Bush would move Cheney to a different position (such as the spy czar position that was given to Porter Goss) and then move Powell in as his new Veep for the second go around. I think the election would have been a non-event largely in favor of such a Republican ticket because Powell would have pulled more moderates to it -- including Democrats who just could not rally behind Kerry. I know I would have voted for a Bush-Powell ticket over the Kerry-Edwards one. What do you think?
Not that it matters now, but, hey, I'm curious.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

ASCIIMATION -- feuerfreimovie

Today I watched a great bit of ASCII animation, which is sometimes called ASCIIMATION. feuerfreimovie.swf is a little war 'movie' that uses Feur Frei by heavy rock band Rammstein as its soundtrack. "Feuer Frei" is German, and it basically tranlates to "Open Fire!" (literal translation = "fire freely"). It's a pretty clever bit, even if you don't particularly care for Rammstein's style of music ... or war movies. Think of it as satire against a war-obsessed planet (or is that just the Bush Administration?). Just surf on over and check out feuerfreimovie.swf now. [Requires Flash.]

PETA Continues to Go Over the Deep End

From the AP via Running Scared, PETA has started a little thing called the Fish Empathy Project. Apparently, they are pushing the argument that that "fish ... are intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat." According to Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach:
"No one would ever put a hook through a dog's or cat's mouth. Once people start to understand that fish, although they come in different packaging, are just as intelligent, they'll stop eating them."
Uh, yeah. Be certain to check the comments and extra links Jazz posted at Running Scared. And I highly suggest you read the story of how Jazz was attacked by PETA.

Disney Animator Ward Kimball's Toys and Trains up for Auction

From the announcement:
On Nov. 19 and 20 at the Philadelphia Airport Ramada Inn, Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions, Ltd. will sell part one of the lifetime toy and train collection of legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball. A spectacular and unique collection known to enthusiasts throughout the world, the Kimball trains and toys are unmatched in their synergy of quality, quantity and diversity – so much so that it will take two separate events of approximately 800 lots each to auction them all. The second sale will be held on Memorial Day weekend, May 27-28, 2005.
If you are looking for a Christmas gift for me, or you just want to see some cool old toys, direct your browser to Toyzine.

Political Reason and Moderation

Kudos to Brian Keegan of Centerfield for posting links that "encourage understanding between the sides and moderation." In that post he provides the link to (and he quotes from) an op-ed piece, Debunking Political Stereotypes, written by Boston Globe columnist Cathy Young. Ms. Young takes issue with the left calling themselves "the reality-based community," and -- as you might have guessed from the title of her piece -- shoots down a few stereotypes on both sides of the political fence. She has previously commented on the deep division that is all too apparent after the election. My favorite lines:
"President Bush has been accused of pursuing divisive policies. But let's face it, promoting crude stereotypes of slightly more than half the electorate is not exactly the way to promote understanding."
"Democracy is great; but in a divided culture democracy means that roughly half the people will live under a government they did not elect. That's one good reason to limit the federal government's intervention in our lives and to give more of the decision-making power to local governments, private institutions, and individuals."
You can read more of Cathy Young's work at Reason Online. And I encourage you to do so.


Bill Mitchell published this great cartoon that pretty much sums up what Arlen Specter is going through -- or at least what it must feel like -- as he tries to salvage his bid for chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This whole thing is absurd to me. Specter has had a long and distinguished career, with highlights that include working with the Warren Commission and chairing the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. But now, all because of a rather simple (and, in my opinion, intelligent) suggestion he made regarding potential judges and Roe vs. Wade, he is the target of conservative GOP leaders. It's so bad that Specter felt forced to backtrack a bit. Of course, it's been said before that there is no room for moderates in the GOP. But I would like to think that there are still some moderate voices that can sway the party. Maybe that is why Specter can still count on support from a big gun like Orrin Hatch. Hang in there, Arlen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Broke Nation

Broke Nation: an essay by Henri Reynard over at WatchBlog. Henri muses about the deep division in our nation, Catholic education .... and abortion.

Blogs Illustrated -- It's Keen!

My madman LokiSpeak (whose fledling blog has fallen silent; a protest of sorts against the election results) sent this keen link to me. Blogs Illustrated is a ring of blogs that all use art -- illustration, painting, photography -- as their blogging idiom. Here are a few I checked out... Guild of Ghostwriters is a "(mostly) hand drawn blog." Blaugustine is ... I'm not going to try to explain this one. OK, well, maybe I will try. This blog features photogs and illustrations from a cartoon alter ego. Or something. Sketch Blog of the Day is ... pretty much what it sounds like. Watch Tom Draw is a journal of drawings ... you know, like "Dear Sketchbook" instead of "Dear Diary. There are currently 55 active members in the ring. Go explore!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Linked Prophet, Hyper Madman

I just wanted to let folks know that Prophet or Madman has been honored with some reciprocal linkage. I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point my blog was added to the lists maintained at Father Jake Stops the World, The Wildhunt Blog, and The Juggler. All three are well-written blogs I read on a regular basis and have found a home in my link list to your right. And on Thursday of last week, Jazz Shaw welcomed Prophet or Madman to Running Scared, an enlightening-yet-entertaining moderate -- er, "reluctant republican" -- blog. [Thanks for the nice words, Jazz!] And, yes, in case you're wondering, dear reader, Running Scared has been on my blog list since I found a link at The Moderate Republican. Things that make me go "hmmmmmm" #1 Now that there are incoming links of some stature, I'd best do some work to ensure that the quality here doesn't go downhill. Of course, with no way of measuring the current quality, it could very well be that I wouldn't have far to fall. I think I'm getting a headache. Things that make me go "hmmmmmm" #2 I just realized that The Moderate Republican is linked at my homepage -- brainwise.org -- but not here at Prophet or Madman. I might have to do something about that. [Sorry Dennis!]

Music and Literature: Sting

Two issues ago, Ode Magazine published a lovely excerpt from Broken Music: a Memoir [amazon link] by Sting, solo recording artist and former member of the Police [Stingetc.com and allmusic.com]. If for some reason you ever had any doubt as to the man's love of -- and dedication to -- the craft of musical composition, the following passage alone should assuage such doubts. Time period is somewhere in the mid-60s, the latter part of Sting's junior school tenure; looking back, he writes:
I pore over Beatles albums with the same obsessive and forensic scrutiny that I’d applied to Rodgers and Hammerstein, only now I have a guitar. I have an instrument that can reproduce the practical magic of the chord structures and the network of riffs that their songs are built on. And what songs, one after the other, album after album. I learn to play them all, confident that if I persevere, what I can’t play immediately will yield its secret eventually. I will reapply the needle of the record player again and again to the bars of music that seem beyond my analysis, like a safecracker picking a lock, until the prize is mine. No school subject ever occupies as much of my time or energy. I’m not claiming that any kind of prescience about the future is at work here, but there is something in the driven and compulsive nature of this obsession that is unusual, something in the unconscious saying, This is how you escape. This is how you escape.
Read the rest of the excerpt at http://www.odemagazine.com/article.php?aID=3953 [Note: I added the the needle and record player links to help our younger readers.]

Swinging is Liberating ... and Meditative

Turns out, some folks use swinging as a creative meditation. No, not that kind of swinging (which I will not even dignify with a link). Get your mind out of the gutter; we're talking about swingsets and playgrounds. Read a few comments from Jennifer Tschoepe regarding the swingset sutras. Or something like that. Well, not that but you know what I mean. I think. Arrrrgh. Anyway, here is the link: http://www.odemagazine.com/article.php?aID=3985

A Return Home and Bits about Movies: Classic Movies as Websites; Are The Incredibles ... Right?; and the Wrong Constantine

Harrowing journey to the retreat site aside, I had a wonderful time at the Mount Eden Retreat facility in Washington, NJ. I returned home on Sunday evening and had just enough time to drop off my stuff, kiss my wife, and then run over to the theater for a tech rehearsal. I'll be spending every evening at theater this week. So, because I will not (and have not) had time to see any movies, I offer up these few posts about them instead. if the great movies had been websites This is an older offering from Jeffery Zeldman. In this post, he laments that personal diaries seems to be the best that the majority of web creators can provide. He then wonders: What if every potentially great new medium had been filled with "content" like this? What if, instead of actually MAKING Citizen Kane, Orson Welles had simply published a Web diary? The INCREDIBLES Right Wing Via GetReligion: The Bush army praises strength, marriage and family values. The hit movie, THE INCREDIBLES, praises strength, marriage and family values. Could this movie possibly be a right-wing recruiting device? Going to Hell Can anyone, anyone at all, tell me why Keanu Reeves was given the title role in Constantine?! Even the trailer shows just how far off base this casting -- if not the whole movie -- is. For those of you who have no clue as to what I am talking about, or why it upsets me, read on. John Constantine (pronounced "KON-stan-tyne") is the title character of Hellblazer, a comic that is part of DC Comics' Vertigo line. To sum it up in one sentence, Hellblazer is a British occult horror magazine. That summation does no justice to either the character or the series. Constantine was created by Alan Moore in the pages of Swamp Thing (a Len Wein and Berni Wrightson creation). Moore's Constantine became popular and was given his own series -- the aforementioned Hellblazer. Stories range from one shots like Hold Me, penned by Neil Gaiman, to grim, multi-part tales of serial killers or other, more supernatural forces that threaten mankind. For more information, I refer you to this profile, this interview with the two writers who have penned the most Hellblazer stories, and The Ultimate Hellblazer Index. Oh well, I suppose the movie casting could have been worse. Nicholas Cage had been interested in the part, and was cast early in the game. But now it looks like he will have to settle for screwing up the Ghost Rider movie instead. OK. Judging by the amount of time and work I just put into this "third" of the post, I may appear to be a little ... overly concerned about this film. But don't worry. I know there are far more important things to worry about than a bad movie interpretation of a comic book character. I just choose to not think of any at the moment.

Friday, November 12, 2004


I'm attending a retreat this weekend, and I am pretty sure there is no Internet access there (gasp!), so I won't be able to post for a few days. But the mad prophet will be back to his virtually connected self by Sunday evening or Monday morning. Depends on how tired I am after I return.

Friday Pet Blogging

For today's pet photo, we have another excellent pic from the Otis & Milo Tabletop Series:
Otis asks Milo: "Did you see what I think I just saw?!?!"
Once you've had your fill here, check The Modulator for today's compilation of pet posts from other bloggers (as well as links to archived compilations).

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Political Bashing -- A Guide for Newbies

Over at Running Scared, Jazz has posted a Beginner's Guide to Bashing. Ever the moderate, Jazz provides newbie political pundits with guides to bashing folks on either the Left or Right. It's easy! Just pick the section of the guide that suits your personal political leaning and print them out for easy reference (Liberals will want to know how to bash Conservatives, for example). With solid examples showcasing weak and better uses of the Guide's arguments, this is one tool that newcomers to the blogosphere definitely need to have on hand.


After the articles I recently posted, you might need a little laugh. Well, I don't know how humorous this actually is, but PBF is one of the strangest comics I have seen in a while. Go ahead and stroll through the archives. There is more serious work at Cheston's homepage.

A Few Articles: Freedom & Terrorism; Bits of America; Bloggers' Influence; and Expulsion

Here are a few articles that came to my attention within the past few days. Freedom Squelches Terrorist Violence Alberto Abadie, a researcher at the Kennedy School of Government, finds no relationship between a nation's wealth and the level of terrorism it experiences. But he does find that the levels of political freedom a nation affords directly affects the severity of terrorism in that nation. The Unofficial America Rebecca Solnit believes that splendid insurrectionary things are bubbling up at the margins of American culture. Ms. Solnit wrote this feature prior to the election, so it is a particularly interesting read now in the light of that election's results. Considered "our historian of hope" [TomDispatch.com], Rebecca Solnit is an author and regular columnist for Orion magazine. Her most recent book is RIVER OF SHADOWS. Web of Influence
What kind of blog would I be running if I didn't include an article about blogs? Written by Daniel W. Drezner and Henry Farrell, this article at foreignpolicy.com examines the influence bloggers have had on traditional media ... and policymakers.
Declaration of Expulsion: A Modest Proposal Well, it's not only liberal/progressive journalists and essayists who have been spewing vitriol after the election. Mike Thompson, past chairman of the Florida Conservative Union, decides it's time to reconfigure the United States along "us vs. them" lines. He calls for the literal expulsion of "Blue States" (those that voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004) from the Union. And he outlines just how this unthinkable proposal could feasibly be accomplished. Two Americas, indeed. Warning -- this one might upset you.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Today's Waste of Time: Lost Frog

Poignant and profound...

Lost Frog ... click to see slide show

Go to http://lostfrog.org/ keep clicking for full story

Maps of Election 2004 Results ... and Wallpaper

Just because some people can never get enough of post-election analysis...
  • Robert J. Vanderbei has circulated the 2004 Purple America map. It uses County-by-County election return data from USA Today together with County boundary data from the US Census' Tiger database. Some of the maps are available as desktop wallpaper. Oh, and Mr. Vanderbei also has a purple map for the 2000 Election.
  • Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman have gone a few steps further and offer Maps and Cartograms of the 2004 Election Results. There are several types of cartograms, but for the purpose of the Gastner-Shalizi-Newman maps, a cartogram is a map in which the sizes of states have been rescaled according to their population, which means that each state is drawn to be proportional to the number of their inhabitants.
  • And here is a cool demographic map that shows the 2004 Election Results by County according to Population Density. [Courtesy of CBS and ESRI]

Monday, November 08, 2004

10 x 10 / 100 Words and Pictures That Define the Time

You must check out 10 x 10. I am serious; this thing is so very cool: http://www.tenbyten.org/10x10.html What is it? I don't even want to try to explain it; so here are a few snippets from their about page:
10x10™ ('ten by ten') is an interactive exploration of the words and pictures that define the time. ... Every hour, 10x10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time ... ...10x10 is ever-changing, ever-growing, quietly observing the ways in which we live. It records our wars and crises, our triumphs and tragedies, our mistakes and milestones. When we make history, or at least the headlines, 10x10 takes note and remembers... ...10x10 runs with no human intervention, autonomously observing what a handful of leading international news sources are saying and showing. 10x10 makes no comment on news media bias, or lack thereof. It has no politics, nor any secret agenda; it simply shows what it finds.

Shut Up?

On Friday, November 5, in the LETTERS TO THE EDITOR section of my local paper -- The Intelligencer -- a lovely gem of a letter was posted as a "memo to Michael Moore and George Soros and Bruce Springsteen." The writer of this letter was obviously relieved with President Bush's reelection and wanted to inform these three gentleman that they could "now shut up." The writer further suggested that all Bush supporters should start their own organization (a la MoveOn.org) called ShutUp.org in order "to silence the famous and not so famous Bush haters." 

First off, Ms. Gorman (the aforementioned letter writer), I should inform you someone has beaten your group of silencers to the domain you wanted. And I find it interesting that the ShutUp.org site currently sports links for Stun Guns, Pepper Spray, and other self-defense products as well as an offer for refinancing. With the exception of refinancing, these products might serve you well in your quest to silence opposing viewpoints. With regard to selecting a suitable domain name, perhaps you will have to go with the less trendy BushHatersShutUp.org or, more to your point, TheSilencers.org. As I am writing this, both of those domains are available. 

Second, not everyone who complained about the president, or who decided to vote for John F. Kerry, actually hated George W. Bush. True, many did -- and still do -- hate Bush. I myself do not believe that such hate is an effective catalyst for positive change, but at least those "Bush haters" believed something passionately and decided to do something about it via non-violent means. In addition, I should make it clear that I myself am not a "hater." I am merely disappointed with President Bush's record and I disagree with him on many points of policy. 
Third, the Bush camp can tout his 50+% of the vote all they want. But there is no reason to be smug here. Yes, it is certainly enough of a majority to win the office, but it is far shy of being a true mandate. The president won his reelection by a margin of less than 5 million votes. That is less than the population of, say, New York City. I would say that is a fairly slim margin. With such a slim margin, there must have been a fair number of opposition votes, right? Right. 55+ million people voted against a 2nd term -- that's a hell of a lot of people! And they can't all be haters. I'm sure that a high percentage of them voted against Bush because of his own faltering record. Even the paper in Bush's adopted hometown of Crawford, TX, went against him. 

All I am trying to say here is that there must be something to the complaint. There are too many people and too many documented facts. Fourth... No, I don't want to continue this. I already wrote that regardless of the outcome and how hot one's emotions might be running right now, this is no time to be snarky. Ms. Gorman, in spite of the last few paragraphs, I think I can understand your frustration. Why? because it must mirror my own frustration with celebratory neo-conservatives and bewildered pundits. But we are both Americans, and we are both governed by the same Constitution. If there is any difference between us it is that I welcome and encourage the discourse of all Americans, now more than ever. 

Of course, I would prefer to not hear any more platitudes, curt dismissals, or cute (obscene?) phrases from either side of the political spectrum. All I desire is an exchange of facts and, yes, opinions, but not empty rhetoric or volatile emotional responses. Whether I like them or not, whether I agree with their platforms or not, and whether I have any faith in their abilities or not, the folks in the White House, in Congress, and in my State and local legislature represent me just as much as they represent you. And neither one of us should "shut up" when it comes to making certain that our concerns are being addressed. 

[Edited 11-08-2004 08:07am to be less snarky.]

Friday, November 05, 2004

Friday Pet Blogging II: Wipe Your Paws

Bonus episode!
I took these pictures last week, so I have already been holding onto them for one week. And I just don't want to put them off for another. So you get an extra helping of kitty goodness here.
Some folks just don't believe me when I tell them that Otis still can't quite grasp the correct use of the "Wipe Your Paws" rug. Now I finally have photographic evidence to prove young Otis' obsession with being under this piece of carpeting.
(Click image for larger version)
Actually, his obsession is not limited to this particular rug. He plays with and tries to get under every little throw rug in the kitchen. Why? I don't know. I just feed him and take pics of him.
Once again, I direct you to The Modulator for a compilation of pet posts from other bloggers.

Friday Pet Blogging

Time for a change of pace from politics and other weighty issues of life. It's time for Friday Pet Blogging. And this time, Prophet or Madman is going back to the cute pics. I liked doing the memorial for Simon last week, but I don't want to do anything heavy this week.
On the left, Otis has just answered the time-honored cashier question of, "Paper or plastic?" To your right, "Cool Hand" Milo is doing what he does best: relaxing.
(Click image for larger version)
As usual, I direct you to The Modulator for a compilation of pet posts from other bloggers.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Election Outcome Elicits a Wealth of Reactions

I tried to post this yesterday evening, but Blogger was having a hissy fit. So I bring it to you now. Reactions to the 2004 Presidential Election are varied and seem to run just as hot as an individual's emotions can carry them. At the far extreme of rage and disappointment we have James Wolcott saying "Good, Go Ahead, America, Choke on Your Own Vomit, You Deserve to Die" [JamesWolcott.com], and he also asks if anyone knows how to make a noose. And there is TBogg's sparkling assessment that this 2000 redux means we are all, ahem, screwed [warning, explicit language; really, you have been warned so don't blame me if you find that link offensive]. Ken Layne waxes poetic about Jesusland -- OK, so it's not exactly poetic (but I do find it humorous that the Ads by Goooooogle banner picked up on the mention of "Jesus" and so all the ads are christian in content). And there is no shortage of vitriol over at Rising Hegemon [another disclaimer here for explicit language]; I can barely select just one post. Moving on to the more positive, or at least equanimous, voices in the blogosphere. Father Jake, ever the voice of reason, writes of lessons he learned in this election. The Bull Moose offers some day after observations, and points out a few bright spots. Over at the Get Religion blog, Douglas LeBlanc tells us he is ready to take the pledge: A nonpartisan willingness to place the commonwealth ahead of ideological purity. Of course, it is easier (and maybe even more fun) to find and write posts that mourn, whine, curse, or lament the election outcome. It's also far too easy to hold a grudge because "your" candidate(s) didn't win and fall into the attitude of "I'm going to pack it in and be whiney and snarky for the next four years, waiting for the light of reason to bless our nation again." But that won't help anyone. Least of all "you" (the proverbial "you" -- not necessarily the individual currently reading this post). In spite of the negative campaign ads, the vicious attacks, and ungrounded rhetoric (from both sides, mind you), and the once-again-absent-youth-vote, this was an amazing election. Think about it. Maybe it was just me, but people as a whole seemed to be much more plugged into this election than past ones that I can remember -- of course, I cast my first ballot in a presidential election in 1988, so my political memory isn't exactly long, but ... still. Regardless of how you feel about the outcome, this is still your country. And the folks in office represent you. Make them earn their (ridiculously high) salaries! Stay calm, stay focused, and fer-cryin'-out-loud stay in the game. Things only get more intense and important from this point forward. To fire us all up, I leave you with the lyrics to Anthem:

ANTHEM No man, no madness, Though their sad power may prevail, Can possess, conquer, my country's heart They rise to fail She is eternal Long before nations' lines were drawn When no flags flew, and no armies stood My land was born And you ask me why I love her Through wars, death and despair She is the constant We who don't care And you ask me would I leave her -- but how? I cross over borders but I'm still there now How can I leave her? Where would I start? Let men's petty nations tear themselves apart My land's only borders lie around my heart

(Tim Rice/Benny Andersson/Bjoern Ulvacus -- from the musical, Chess)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


I saw this placard in the parking lot of the Borders Books and Music store on Route 309 (North Wales, PA) last night. I snapped the picture at 7:15PM. I don't know if the owner voted for Kerry -- or even if he/she voted at all -- all I know is that I was truly hoping that this discarded placard was not symbolic of the election outcome.

discarded 'Vote John Kerry' Placard

Can I console myself with the fact that my state, Pennsylvania, went with Kerry? I don't know that anything can console me right now. Oh, I know that neither candidate is the savior their campaigns (and supporters) tried to make them out to be. But there were some important issues on the line and I cannot help but think a second Bush term will do more harm than good for this nation ... and the world.

The Daily Snap photoblog nicely sums up many conflicting emotions with this entry.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day! -- Part III (Citizen Journalist)

It's official. I am a Citizen Journalist. MSNBC.com posted one of the photos I took this morning. To see it, go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6364765/ and click through the pics until you find the pic of a voter booth with two pairs of legs (mother and daughter). Earlier today, it was the fifth pic in the series. Last I checked, it was the second to last shot. It is attributed to Brian Weis in Sellersville.

Election Day! -- Part II

One of my colleagues, Scott, is voting in his very first election. He lives in the Horsham, PA area, and he agreed to let me come along and photograph him. On the way we talked about the election, and he told me that the Vietnamese vote seems to be deeply entrenched in the Republican party. So much so that Scott's father would be very upset to find out that his son is a Kerry supporter (hence no last names here). We tried to get Scott to wear a Kerry t-shirt at home, but he wouldn't do it.
Scott's polling place is Simmons Elementary School at 411 Babylon Road in Horsham. Here we see the entrance to the polls, Scott signing in, and then Scott getting some instruction on the electronic voting booth:
Polling Entrance, Simmons Elementary in Horsham -- click for larger image Scott signs in -- click for larger image Getting last minute instructions for the electronic voting booth -- click for larger image
As I stated in my previous post, my polls are still using the mechanical booths. So I wanted to get a closer look at this machine. Unfortunately, that was not to be. I asked permission to take a quick photo, and the election volunteer checked with the on-site judge, but the answer was no. Actually, there was no clear-cut answer -- they didn't have guidelines either way. So, when in doubt, deny. But they did let me take a picture of the sample ballot:
the ballot -- click for larger image

Election Day!

It's finally here: Election Day 2004! I voted first thing this morning, so I am feeling very civic. And I thought I would share a few images of the process with you. I've already emailed copies of these pics to MSNBC for their Citizen Journalist project, but just in case they don't use them ... well, here they are.
First off, here is the very special bin I set out for political mailers:
Political Mail Bin -- click for larger image  closer look at Political Mail Bin -- click for larger image
This cute little bin sits just below my mailbox. Sorry Mike, I never read your flyers!
Second, here is the entrance to my friendly neighborhood polling place in Sellersville, PA (St. Paul's United Church of Christ on Green Street):
Polling entrance at St. Pauls -- click for larger image
We are still using the old lever-style voting booths. But that just means we won't have to deal with hanging chads or computer meltdowns. Here, a woman brought her 2-year-old daughter into the booth with her:
teaching the next generation -- click for larger image
I hope that you, too, took care and pride in exercising your right and responsibility to vote. Informed voters rule! (At least that's the theory.)

Monday, November 01, 2004

World is Watching the U.S. Election

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that the whole world is watching the U.S. election. But you might be surprised to know that folks abroad are doing their best to be involved. Here is a sampling of URLs... Tell an American to Vote www. tellanamericantovote.com Purpose: Help people around the world convince their American friends to vote. Overseas Vote www.overseasvote.com “Overseas Americans have different experiences and access to different media sources. so they have a different view of foreign policy this election.” The World Votes www.theworldvotes.org A global, albeit merely symbolic, election with more than 8500 participants on five continents, casting a ballot for either Kerry or Bush. They hope Americans will see it and think about the rest of the world. Talk to U.S. www.talktous.org The founder of this site, William Brent, lived in China for 16 years working as a journalist and filmmaker before returning to the U.S. two years ago. Upon returning, he was surprised to see how many Americans lacked curiosity about what’s going on in the world. The TALK TO U.S. website features thoughts of people in 19 nations, from Bolivia to Sweden to China, on themes ranging from terrorism and the spread of HIV to how much people around the world have in common. The World Speaks http://www.theworldspeaks.net A new portal for all the websites that are getting Americans and non-Americans talking about the presidential election in November.

The Amazing Potato Plate

There is hope for our disposable society. Potatopak, Ltd., a firm in New Zealand, now makes biodegradable dinnerware. It is made from the starch produced when potatoes are processed into french fries. Seriously! http://www.potatoplates.com Now ... try to imagine how many french fries are made and consumed in the U.S. alone. That's a pretty healthy production supply!

OLCD: Obsessive LEGO Construction Disorder

Once again, fellow madman LokiSpeak has directed me to a true wonder on the World Wide Web. Behold, the Abston Church of Christ by Amy Hughes!
[Update 11-01-2004 3:25pm] OK. If you see a broken image, it merely means that I cannot directly link a pic from her site on my page. Her site is up and running. Go look at it now!