February 24th, 2003 § One comment § permalink
My brother asked a friend in Japan about the heating oil trucks that play music. His friend wasn’t familiar with them, but he told my brother something horrifying:
In the city where he lives (between Tokyo and Osaka), when trucks back up, they don’t beep to warn others. Instead, they play “It’s a Small World.”
February 22nd, 2003 § Comments off § permalink
In Japan, heating oil trucks solicit customers the same way that ice cream trucks do in the United States: They play music as they drive past people’s houses.
Some of the songs they play are melancholy. Other companies prefer a more cheerful approach.
February 20th, 2003 § Four comments § permalink
Okay, that’s it: No posting about current events until March 31. I have a serious case of outrage overload, and if I keep writing about how awful the Bush administration is, I’m only going to make it worse.
If you enjoy reading about the sorry state of America’s leadership, I recommend Tom Tomorrow‘s weblog. It’s leftlicious.
Also, I reserve the right to rescind this ban if circumstances warrant it. Even if that happens, I’ll try to write something more thoughtful than a pithy comment followed by a link to a newspaper’s Web site.
February 20th, 2003 § Three comments § permalink
President John F. Kennedy, 1963: “What kind of peace do I mean? …I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. …I now declare that the United States does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other states do not do so.”
New Scientist, 2003: “A leaked Pentagon document has confirmed that the US is considering the introduction of a new breed of smaller nuclear weapons designed for use in conventional warfare. Such a move would mean abandoning global arms treaties.”
February 15th, 2003 § Comments off § permalink
The weblogger Rebecca Blood has summarized my thoughts on the coming war more eloquently than I would have:
…Saddam is a monster. But the United States adopts a policy of preemptive attack against its real or perceived enemies at its peril.
Whatever moral authority we may have to allow or disallow other nations to possess weapons of mass destruction rests on our inviolate commitment to use our weapons only in self-defense. Whatever safety we have in this world derives not from our military might, but from whatever good will and trust we have earned from other nations and their people. If, by our actions, we sanction a policy of attacking whomever we deem to be dangerous, we open ourselves to the same. Our nation will be less safe if we attack any other sovereign nation, except in response to a direct attack.
Even the Bush Administration, in its unending attempts to link Saddam with al Qaeda, recognizes this most basic principle: that it is wrong to kill others, except in self-defense. The American government, the one I grew up believing in—the one I believe in still—does not attack other countries except in self-defense, or in the defense of its allies. I know it’s more complicated than that, but at the bottom, that’s the principle.
February 14th, 2003 § Comments off § permalink
President Bush, October 2001: “Ultimately, one of the best weapons, one of the truest weapons that we have against terrorism is to show the world the true strength of character and kindness of the American people. Americans are…united in our concern for the innocent people of Afghanistan.”
BBC News, February 2003: “The United States Congress has stepped in to find nearly $300m in humanitarian and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan after the Bush administration failed to request any money in the latest budget.”
February 12th, 2003 § Two comments § permalink
Before the bombs start falling on Iraq, let’s get one thing straight: Osama bin Laden’s latest message to his Iraqi supporters does not prove that Saddam Hussein is in league with Al Qaeda. If anything, the tape discredits that theory. Bin Laden refers to Iraq’s leaders as “infidels” and “hypocrites,” and he tells his supporters, “[F]ighting should be for the sake of the one God. It should not be for…championing the non-Islamic regimes in all Arab countries, including Iraq.”
Of course, that hasn’t stopped the Bush administration from claiming otherwise. Yesterday, Colin Powell cited the tape as evidence of a connection, saying it proved that bin Laden is “in partnership with Iraq.” Ari Fleischer, the President’s press secretary, told reporters today, “If that is not an unholy partnership, I have not heard of one. …This is the nightmare that people have warned about, the linking up of Iraq with Al Qaeda.”
I have no idea whether Iraq has official ties with Al Qaeda; surprisingly enough, the CIA hardly ever sends me its classified intelligence briefings. If there’s a case to be made, though, I wish the Bush administration would make it through means other than lying.
February 8th, 2003 § Three comments § permalink
From the New York Times: Britain Admits That Much of Its Report on Iraq Came From Magazines.
The British government admitted today that large sections of its most recent report on Iraq, praised by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell as “a fine paper” in his speech to the United Nations on Wednesday, had been lifted from magazines and academic journals.
But while acknowledging that the 19-page report was indeed a “pull-together of a variety of sources,” a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair defended it as “solid” and “accurate.” …
But critics of the government said that not only did the document appear to have been largely cut and pasted together, but also that the articles it relied on were based on information that is, by now, obsolete.
The report’s title, incidentally, is “Iraq—Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation.” Replace “Iraq” with “Britain” and you’ve just about summed up the matter.
February 5th, 2003 § Five comments § permalink
After three weeks of daily cappuccinos while I was in the UK, I decided when I got back that I might as well continue the habit. I’m now the proud owner of a Guido Bergna stovetop espresso maker, purchased from EspressoPeople. Now I can
feed my sick, sick addiction twenty-four hours a day enjoy delicious coffee in the privacy of my own home.
Just for clarification, though:
Don’t be fooled by the grounds that I got
I’m still, I’m still Jeffy from the block
Used to buy espresso, now I have a pot
No matter how I brew, I know my barista
February 5th, 2003 § Comments off § permalink
The Tofte Project is a brilliant chronicle of the renovation of a Minnesota cabin, built in 1947 on the shore of Lake Superior. Every aspect of the renovation reflects the owner’s commitment to sustainability; many of the construction materials were salvaged from other buildings, and the building’s designers took pains to integrate their work with the cabin’s surroundings and the community’s history.
More importantly, the building is beautiful, and the people who designed and built it took well-earned pride in their craftsmanship. Beauty and joy are the best fringe benefits of sustainable design.