Totally unacceptable workplace environment

I had a bit of a scary moment this morning – I walked into the office, and suddenly the unmistakable smell of cat urine hit me like a ton of bricks.  At first I thought maybe it was me.  I mean, I do have an occasionally salty cat who quite possibly might decide to urinate on some of my clothes.  Although she’s never done it.  She usually likes to express her displeasure by just barely missing the litter box.

But no, it’s not me.  It’s the office.  My office smells like cat urine.

How this happens is beyond me.  I don’t work in a place that should ever contain a cat.  I don’t think a cat could pass the security clearance.

We really need a solution for the immigration problem

Secret Immigration Raids in the D.C. Subway – NAM

I may be a little unsure of what I think should be done about the immigration problems in this country, but picking out Latinos on the Metro and asking for “papers” is not the answer.  It’s hard to fathom who might have thought that was a good idea.

I understand that many immigrants are coming in illegally, and many aren’t paying taxes, but still benefit from American tax dollars.  And I understand that I’m not one of the citizens being noticeably hurt by the fact that they’re here.  But whatever solution we come up with has to start with the fact that these are human beings, and this is the United States.  This is not a country where people of any color should have to worry about being stopped and asked for papers.

We need a solution.  We need to stop politicizing this, like we do everything else, and figure out what is best for the country, and what is best for people looking for better lives.  And then we have to implement that solution.

Depressing politics

I was writing a lot here about politics before the elections, and since then I’ve written almost nothing.  Partly this is your fault for not holding me to my promise to write a letter to Jim Webb as soon as Novel Writing Month was over.  You all are such slackers.

But partly I just find myself depressed by the state of politics.  I was about to write something about a Wash Post article that celebrates Bush’s first admission that we’re not winning the war in Iraq, but as I was reading it, I lost heart.  I mean, what do I say at this point?  We’ve made a huge mess over there, and we show no signs that we’re close to having it cleaned up.  Bush is going to send more troops, but the article thinks that will take years.  That’s comforting.  Are we really spread so thin that we can’t scrape together a few hundred thousand troops?  What if something else happens that requires our attention?

I realize I don’t really know what I’m talking about here, and that’s part of my frustration.

On a lighter note, I can already see someone on SNL making a joke out of Bush’s “We’re not losing, we’re not winning.”  If I were funnier than I am, I would think of a new word that means something in the middle.  And then I would say it in my best imitation of someone imitating Bush.  Then people would laugh.

Were just going to take our God and go over here

Episcopal Churches To Vote on Departure –

Many Episcopal churches are voting very soon on whether or not to leave the umbrella of the U.S. Episcopal church because the U.S. church has allowed a gay bishop in New Hampshire.  I’m a little torn.  First, I fully support the right of a church to decide that they want to leave the organization because the organization did something they don’t believe in.  But it’s sad that two churches in Fairfax County, VA, where I live, are so upset over a gay bishop that they want to ally themselves with an African Reverend, Peter Akinola, who thinks holding hands with your gay partner in public should be punishable by jail time.

I assume that most people voting to leave will say that it’s not just one gay bishop in a state most of them will never visit, but rather the direction the church is heading by allowing him to become a bishop, and that’s certainly valid.

I wish some positive stuff about religion would make the news.  I know there are religious groups doing good things out there.  But the only ones that make the news are the intolerant ones.

I’m going to stop here, because I’ve lost my train of thought.

Michael Chertoff doesnt understand what better off means

Homeland Security to require passports for U.S. entry –

“Each of these steps raises the bar to an attack. None of this is perfect. None of them is foolproof. But we’re always better off when we build higher levels of security,” [Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff] said.

It becomes increasingly clear that Chertoff seeks to lull the entire nation into a false sense of security.  Requiring everyone entering the country to show a single document so that security officers only have to worry about recognizing that one document does not make us safer.  In fact, it makes us less safe.  It’s like taking all the passwords you have for your bank, your credit card, your email, your whatever, and making them one long, random string of characters.  It’s really hard to break that string.  But if someone breaks it, or steals it, they know everything about you.

It doesn’t matter how hard it is to forge a passport.  It’s not necessary to forge one.  Just steal one.  All terrorists are Arab guys with beards and turbans, right?  And don’t they all look the same?  How do you know that the guy coming through your security checkpoint, most of his face concealed by a beard, is actually the guy pictured on the passport he hands you?  And do we honestly think that no one is capable of recruiting someone with a clean passport to blow up a plane or something?  We can’t possibly believe that we have a list of everyone who might ever wish to do the United States harm.

Someday, I hope people look back on this time in our history and realize how stupid we’re being.  And I hope it happens before we’ve done irreparable harm to the country.

Listening to NPR makes me cry

Charlie’s Diary: Playing the Genocide Card

The Lancet isn’t just any medical journal, it’s one of the big three that you used to — and probably still do — find in common rooms in hospitals all over the UK (along with the British Medical Journal and sometimes the New England Journal of Medicine). It is not noted for publishing random speculation, agitprop, and crank letters — it’s the top journal of record in its field. Getting an article into The Lancet is like getting one in Nature, or Science: it’s a big one.

This morning, for example, I heard President Bush and one of his big shot generals dismissing this report because they’ve never heard a number bigger than about 50,000, so this 650,000 estimate MUST be wrong.

Now, before you go doubting my source, I know Charles Stross is an author, not an expert in military excursions or whatever.  But we are bringing the qualifications of The Lancet into question here, not Stross.  The Lancet was founded in 1823.  When a scientific journal is that old, one guesses that it has not made a habit of inventing numbers more than 10 times the number we’d heard previously just for kicks.

So, NPR followed that with a little bit telling how Bush has made absolutely sure that we associate North Korea with terrorism.  The only thing North Korea has in common with Al Qaeda is that they have been making a nuisance of themselves (And by “making a nusiance” I of course mean “testing nuclear weapons”) at the same time as we are fighting a war that we like to think has something to do with Al Qaeda.

I suppose it is fair to lump North Korea in there with Iraq, though.  There’s probably just as much chance of finding Bin Laden in North Korea as finding him in Iraq.

I was a Republican during the Clinton administration.  By the end of this administration, I expect to be huddled on the floor in a corner, rocking back and forth and mumbling something about “the days of yore”.

OPEC cutting oil production

OPEC to cut 1M bpd oil supply, says OPEC delegate – Oct. 5, 2006

Wow, what a shock.  OPEC is acting to protect their interests.  I haven’t seen a backlash against this yet (And maybe I’m just not paying attention), but the first time I hear someone complain about gas prices because of this, I’m going to smack them.  Let’s see . . . many of these countries get a huge amount of their revenue from the sale of oil.  Oil prices are dropping.  Basic economics says to cut back on the supply to keep the prices up.

It’s nothing personal against the United States.  Well, maybe it is to some extent, but not really.  It’s just business.

Anyway, I want to see gas prices hit $10 a gallon.  Maybe $20.  How long before we’re all driving cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells, or biodiesel hybrids, when it costs $900 to fill up your Escalade?  For the record, I drive a Mazda 3.  I get between 23 and 32 miles per gallon, depending on traffic and amount of highway driving.

He says what were all thinking – Chavez calls Bush ‘devil’ in U.N. speech – Sep 20, 2006

This article scares me.  Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is supposed to be a lunatic, but the article makes him sound like a mildly loopy Democrat.  Am I so tired of the stupid things our President does that the ravings of a madman start to sound normal?  Or is Chavez made out to be a little crazier than he really is by the media (Impossible!)?

Five years ago yesterday

On September 10th, 2001, I moved to Northern Virginia.  I was a few months out of college and unemployed, looking for a job in computers, and some friends were renting a place in Fairfax, so I went along with them.  I brought a bed and some odds and ends.  On the 11th, I was heading back to my parents’ to pick up more stuff.  I had arranged with a friend to help me load my truck.  I had just left the house when I heard from Howard Stern about the WTC towers.  At first I thought it was a joke until the WHFS morning show confirmed it.  My roommates were both off at work, and we didn’t have a landline, and of course my cell phone wasn’t working because of all the stress on the system.  My dad worked in DC at the time, and I had no idea how far he was from the Pentagon.  And I couldn’t get a hold of anyone.  I finally managed to get through at the pay phone at Wendy’s (Although the calling card I had and rarely used decided not to work.  Luckily by that time I had memorized my dad’s calling card number).

It was an interesting welcome to the DC Metro area.  And now, five years later, where are we?  We’ve destroyed the beauty of much of Washington DC with jersey walls and iron fences.  We’ve made flying in and out of the US completely ridiculous.  We’ve given our President an excuse to spy illegally on our citizens and to deny basic human rights to prisoners of war because we’re calling them “enemy combatants” instead.  The site of the WTC is still a big hole.  We haven’t found those responsible for the attack.

It’s been a great five years, huh?  I hope this will be the legacy of the Bush administration.  They were quick to put a nice bandage on the wound cause by 9/11, and tell everyone that things would be okay.  But then they embezzled insurance money for expensive plastic surgery, and accused those who complained of being unpatriotic.  Patriotism is not a flag sticker on your car and blindy supporting every action of the President, no matter how misguided or illegal.