Sort of a diplomatic version of Johnny Paycheck

Career US Diplomat John Brady Kiesling has submitted his resignation, citing the incompatibility of our nation’s current policies with our stated values. His letter to Mr. Powell is available at the New York Times (free registration required; use nogators/nogators).

The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been AmericaĆ¢s most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security.

Fred Rogers, 1928 – 2003

Mr. Rogers in red cardiganPBS icon Fred Rogers died today, after a brief battle with stomach cancer. He was 74.

While his last episode aired more than a year ago, I enjoyed just knowing he was out there, and hoped he’d somehow make it until I had children of my own. Even in retirement, though, he was still around — he taped a new segment last September, about how to deal with the frightening images on television associated with the 9/11 anniversary.

Over the last few years, Mr. Rogers was the recipient of many awards and tributes, including a Salon Brilliant Careers column, an Esquire cover (for an issue devoted to heroes), a lifetime achievement Emmy (plus 4 other “conventional” Emmys), induction to the Broadcasting Hall of Fame (4 years ago today, in fact), a Peabody Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

There’s plenty of coverage on the web, of course. I’ll call your attention to the PBS release, as well as to an editorial at CNN. The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s coverage includes a selection of quotes from Mr. Rogers. This one’s worth remembering: “There’s a generous current in the American spirit. And if we can simply give voice to that once in a while, I think it’s a good message.”

More: Salon has posted another encomium that’s worth your time.

The Holy War Continues

Herr Ashcroft’s Justice Department has started raiding online head shops in an effort to reduce the supply of “drug paraphenalia.” Excellent work, Mr. Ashcroft. I can only assume you’ve solved that domestic terrorism problem, seeing as how you have time to chase Internet bong vendors. Way to go.

100% Pure Nerd Porn

It’s not what you think. Some guy in California made his own weather balloon, which he launched and recovered. It included an on-board mini-Linux box recording (and reporting, via packet radio) altitude, temperature, and position via a GPS. Thanks to a small digital camera, it also took pictures.

If you’re anything like me, the answer to your next question is “nearly 80,000 feet.”

Coolness of Mobile Technology Redux

Danger, Inc. — the folks who make the gadget I mentioned earlier — have a facility on their site to support mobile blogging; obviously, I have to take part. There’s no much there now, but since the device can take pictures and post them, I suspect we’ll have some amusing bits later today.

Taking the idea a bit further is Hiptop Nation, a communal weblog to which anyone with a Danger device can contribute. Interesting notion; I’m interested to see how both bits pan out.

No, No, Annette

My friends and I, well, we’re concerned about our Republic. Consequently, we sought out our local chapter of the ACLU, since supporting 9 out of 10 Amendments ain’t bad. It seems, at least according to the local pseudo-alt paper, that they meet at La Mexicana for happy hours on the first Thursday of each month, so in early January, there we were.

Completely alone. Yup, nobody there. Well, we thought, perhaps they’ve taken a bye on January; it was very soon after the holidays. We’ll try again in February.

And so we did. This time, we check both the Press and their local web site. Enter problem the first: they disagree. The Press says they’ll meet at La Mexicana, as expected, but the site says Cafe Noche. Fortunately, they’re across the street from each other, so once again we set out to support our civil liberties.

There was, of course, no one at Noche. Nor was there anyone at Mexicana, and at neither place did any employees know of such a gathering.

Frustrated, I called the number supplied in the Press. I reached Annette Lamoreaux, or at least her voice mail. I left her a message including the following points:



  • We’d like to attend the happy hour;
  • But we couldn’t find you two months running;
  • We thought we might join at said happy hour; and
  • We’d like to volunteer.I closed by leaving my cell number, and asking her to give me a call back.

    A couple days pass. I hear nothing. Fearing loss of voice-mail karma, I redoubled my efforts by sending her an email including all of the above points.

    This was over 10 days ago. I have yet to hear a peep. I suppose I should feel good, since clearly my local ACLU has plenty of members, and has no need of either our time or money. Whew! That Ashcroft guy had me worried there!

  • Good Stuff.

    For years in the mid-nineties, I enjoyed a band called Morphine. It was a minimalist, laconic, jazzy three-piece made up of Mark Sandman (vocals, 2-String Slide Bass), Dana Colley (baritone, tenor, and double saxophones) and Billy Conway (drums). The odd mix of instruments coupled with Sandman’s voice made for a very distinctive sound, even without considering their songwriting talent. Here’s a sample from Cure for Pain).

    On July 3, 1999, Morphine were playing a show just outside Rome. During the second song of the set, Mark Sandman had a massive heart attack. He collapsed, and died en route to the hospital. He was 46 years old. (Obits from Boston Phoenix and Salon.) Posthumously, the band released what many think of as their strongest record, The Night.

    If you enjoyed Morphine, or just enjoyed the track I supplied above, you might look into Twinemen. Conway and Colley, joined by Laurie Sargent, are still making music. They don’t have Mark anymore, but the samples from the site were enough to convince me to order the record.

    This just in.

    Congress grows a spine. The Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness meets legislative roadblock in the form of a Senate provision prohibiting its use to monitor Americans’ email, or do further research on the program without Congressional oversight.

    Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., senior Democrat on the subcommittee, said of the program, “Jerry’s [Lewis, R-CA, head of the defense appropriation subcommittee] against it, and I’m against it, so we kept the Senate amendment.” Of the Pentagon, he said, “They’ve got some crazy people over there.”

    This is clever.

    Which of you can figure out how this works?

    I realized that a similar trick has been passed around before. It may be a little easier to figure out, but it’s also cool.

    These two sort of define a genre of “web based slight-of-hand.” It’s sort of neat to think there’s room for such a thing.

    Holy Shit.

    Ashcroft, et. al., are busy drafting a sequal to the civil liberties disaster passed in the hysteria following 9/11, the USA PATRIOT act. This sweeping new “ domestic security” law set to ride roughshod over our already endangered Bill of Rights.

    Dr. David Cole, Georgetown University Law professor and author of Terrorism and the Constitution, reviewed the draft legislation at the request of the Center, and said that the legislation “raises a lot of serious concerns. It’s troubling that they have gotten this far along and they’ve been telling people there is nothing in the works.” This proposed law, he added, “would radically expand law enforcement and intelligence gathering authorities, reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over surveillance, authorize secret arrests, create a DNA database based on unchecked executive ‘suspicion,’ create new death penalties, and even seek to take American citizenship away from persons who belong to or support disfavored political groups.”

    The link is slow; please give it time. (Via