Saturday, February 25, 2006

[National] Bad Idea From Darlene Hooley

A letter to Congresswoman Hooley:

Your recent e-mail (click here to see) questioning the transfer of port management to Dubai Ports World is a bad, bad example of pandering, and the staffer who briefed you on this issue made a mistake.

If we don't have trustworthy friends in the Muslim world, we will never find peace with an open society based on world trade. We must avoid showing Muslims we are xenophobic, and since this is a transfer from one overseas management corporation (which also was not rigidly inspected before they took the reins) to another, drawing attention to *this* transfer tells Muslims we can't, won't, don't trust them.

Port management companies follow the procedures DHS and the Congress dictate.

If you are truly concerned with security, then provide full funding for 100% inspection, for even if we had 100% US ownership of port management, our container inspection system system inspects only 5% of all containers and only 1 % of containers are inspected overseas.

One nuke (out of how many hundreds of the tens of thousands made? out of how many hundreds of ex-Soviet suitcase nukes which are unaccounted for?) exploding on the deck of a ship in harbor, would make large portions of any city uninhabitable for decades, because water detonations create the worst possible conditions for contamination.

Add to that the likely enhancement of the device by surrounding it with metals which would become radioactive easily, like cobalt (not a controlled or tracked substance because of its industrial utility and commonality). That easy and undetectable step would multiply the lethality of fallout several hundred fold, and anyone with the time to think about the matter would see that cargo inspection has no business being performed in a metropolitan area.

I realize you're overworked and understaffed, and your staff are overworked, but insulting Muslims (which I ain't, by the way) through challenging the transfer of port management to a corporation with Muslim leadership won't make us more secure, and will have the opposite effect. It will add fuel to the fire by insulting the Arab world.

Please, instead, seek full funding for 100% inspection of every cargo container arriving, either offshore or in locations far away from high density population areas. THAT is a positive solution to this problem.

Monday, February 20, 2006

[Food]Layers of Chocolate, Best to Worst

One might want to think about the fact that chocolate triggers dopamine release in the brain. I suspect that eating a lot of 100% solids could have a mildly consciousness-altering effect. One might draw parallels with the various other civilisations that got their warriors all ****ed up on drugs before sending them out to fight...

A Brit-blogger spoke with a U.K. chocolatier and found a few things which should inform you, the consumer, about the quality of the chocolate you buy to enjoy. Apologies for his naming UK and European chocolate companies, but, well, that's what he's used to.

Now, one key element, the nature of the bean (premium Criollo, hybrid Trinitatio, or Forastero waaay down there at the bottom) is something which we probably will never get the USDA to require we be told. Right now, we're not told whether coffee comes from Arabica or Robusta beans, and coffee does not have the tie-in to the enormously influential sugar industry which chocolate does. But, if ever you see any of those words on a chocolate advertisement or label, please write back to Clackablog (e-mail address at top of the blog web page) & let me know.

However, if you see the words 'acid' or 'cacao solids' you're getting factory chocolate. The more different oils and fats you see on a label other than the original cacao butter, the more it's been adulturated.

I'll ask Mrs Clackablog, the chemist, to give this a once-over, and help with more label-reading tips.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Sen. Kurt Schrader & Rep. Dave Hunt invite you and your family to attend tonight's forum to learn how to best navigate Medicare Part D:

Monday, February 13 @ 5:30pm
Gladstone Senior Center
1050 Portland Avenue, Gladstone

This is a great opportunity to get answers from the experts:

* Cynthia Hylton from Oregon Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance Program (SHIBA), the state agency designed specifically to help educate the public about Medicare.
* Katie Gauthier from Oregonians for Health Security will lend expertise about the Oregon Prescription Drug Program, the state-sponsored program to assist Oregonians with their prescription & wellness costs.

Over 20 different companies are offering multiple Medicare Part D plans in Oregon, but are not allowed to market these plans by calling you directly. To find out which plan is best for you, gather your list of prescriptions and visit, call 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact a volunteer from Oregon SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) at 800-722-4134.

If you are unable to attend tonight's forum but would like more information about Medicare Part D, please contact Representative Hunt at or 503/986-1440.

[National] Krewe Du Vieux

The first major parade of Carnival season in New Orleans is over. Anyone surprised they have a dim view of FEMA?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

[World] Congress shall make no....

and neither shall anyone else.

[Oregon] Measure 111: Its Time Has Come

Once upon a time, medicine was a bad joke, so the Founders didn't even cover it in version one-dot-oh of the Big Contract. Nowadays, if you're talkin' unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, you ARE talking about a certain basic standard of health care with dignity. No begging in quadruplicate to drug companies and waiting months so you can get a little plastic card for a munificent discount on their drugs, drugs which have become vitally significant elements of healthcare.

There's simple stuff which doesn't require an MRI on every block would significantly improve longevity as well as make for a healthy American workforce. Heck, if Cut Off, Louisiana can do it, Oregon sure can.

Heck, we might even get below No. 47 in national longevity. Yep. We're fourty-seventh! We're fourty-seventh!

This ballot measure tells the Oregon Lege to improve things.. sure, they won't get it right the first time, but with the US longevity rate lower than 46 other countries (see list below), hadn't we better get serious about extending the world's best health care system to Americans?

Campaign organizers for Measure 111, the Healthy Oregon Plan, will distributing signature sheet packets on Saturday Feb. 11th from 9AM-11AM at 537 NE 29th Ave, very close to Tri-Met's 19 and 12 bus lines. Click here for Trimet's Trip Planner. A more general meeting will follow on Saturday the 18th, time & location TBA.

And, who's got us beat? Countries with longer life expectancy than the U.S., as per the CIA: Andorra, Macau, San Marino, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Sweden, Australia, Switzerland, Guernsey, Iceland, Canada, Cayman Islands, Italy, Gibraltar, France, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Spain, Norway, Israel, Jersey, Faroe Islands, Aruba, Greece, Martinique, Austria, Virgin Islands, Malta, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Montserrat, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, Guam, United Kingdom, Finland, the Isle of Man, Puerto Rico, Jordan, Guadeloupe, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bermuda and Saint Helena.

What have they got that we don't? Answers are welcomed. Step right up.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

[TriMet] Google Transit is the first in a rollout of Google Maps which include mass transit schedules. Here's an example of a trip from the Oak Grove library to the branch library in Hollywood. Looks pretty neat, and much faster than Tri-Met's own website. Recommended.

[National] Katrina Discussions

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs holds a series of hearings on Hurricane Katrina, as a part of its ongoing investigations into the most-warned about, and most-poorly-managed, major disaster of modern times. Click here to watch the finger-pointing live, or click here and pick the room number from the list shown for audio-only.

The Defense Department’s Role in the Response Thurs., Feb. 9, 2006, 7:00 a.m. PST.
The Roles of DHS and FEMA Leadership Fri., Feb. 10, 2006, 6:30 a.m. PST.
Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Worsen the Disaster Mon., Feb. 13, 2006, 7:00 a.m. PST.
The Homeland Security Department’s Preparation and Response Tue., Feb. 14, 7:00 a.m. PST.

Previous episodes (video downloadable for use with Real Alternative or Real Player) include:

Preparing for a Catastrophe: The Hurricane Pam Exercise (a Potemkin Village exercise in New Orleans, a year before Katrina. How could the exercise been so perfect, but the reality so atrocious?)
Managing the Crisis and Evacuating New Orleans
The Role of the Governors in Managing the Catastrophe
Evacuating New Orleans in Advance of Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina: Urban Search and Rescue in a Catastrophe
Mississippi’s Recovery
Who’s In Charge of the New Orleans Levees?
Perspectives of FEMA’s Operations Professionals
What Can Government Learn from the Private Sector’s Response?
‘Always Ready’: The Coast Guard’s Response to Hurricane Katrina
Why Did the Levees Fail?
New Orleans: A Flooded City, a Chaotic Response
How is FEMA Performing Its Mission at This Stage of Recovery?
Recovering from Hurricane Katrina: Responding to the Immediate Needs of Its Victims
Recovering from Hurricane Katrina: The Next Phase
and, another bon mot which should have been an eye-opener:
FEMA’s Response to the 2004 Florida Hurricanes: A Disaster for Taxpayers?

Also, Alabama's Department of Public Health and The South Central Center for Public Health Preparedness will present “When Every Second Counts: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina,” on Tue., Feb. 14, 2006, 10:00-11:30 a.m. PST. Register here for the live webcast after testing your readiness to run Real Alternative/RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.

Friday, February 03, 2006

[National] Energy Independence @ 2 cents / KWH

Wednesday, I stumbled across (Thank you, BoingBoing !) a discussion of airborne windmills. One tethered version posits two cents per KWH, which ain't shabby, but has to ground when thunderbumpers start sparking, or Auntie Em's house flies by. Not suited for the tropics, but better for high latitudes, places (like Oregon) which really need the power (to keep back The Ice?) Given that China's now alleged to be the cause of 1/4 of LA's smog, I certainly hope someone Over There's looking at this tech, too.

Add in microwave power transmission as the esteemed First Blogger explained in Fallen Angels, and the tether could be non-conductive; therefore, lightning nearby would not require grounding it, and availability of power from the Skymill(TM) goes up. I think this would surely benefit The Republic For Which We Stand, by reducing the opportunity for energy shortage-driven panics to lead to corporate-imperial adventurism.

At very least, this would enrich the near-space environment and makes it easier to work off the surface for long periods of time. Combine that with the incrementalist approach of JP Aerospace and their plans to use three different designs of blimps for a slow but very safe and very very cheap replacement for rockets, and we'd be far better off investing in this, rather than extracting oil at gunpoint.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

[Newspeak] Outlawing Comedy

Rowan Atkinson, one of the funniest men of our time, speaks here to Parliament on the foolishness of legislating against 'hate speech' and on the impact upon civil society were that to be enacted An excerpt:
In (other) words, you haven't committed an offence unless of course you've committed the offence, in which case I'm afraid you've committed an offence.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006