Archive for November, 2005

Job Hunting

November 27, 2005

Well, I am in the process of finding a job. And not just a job, but a career. So if you know anyone looking to hire a mechanical engineering graduate, let me know.

Job hunting is a painful process. But the end result is worth it, or so we hope. I have been in college for some time to get this degree, working most of the time, trying to keep my grades up. And I think I have done fairly well.

So someone please hire me! I need work, a paycheck, benefits. Mostly, I want to be able to take care of anna the way she has been taking care of me these last two years.

Think happy employment thoughts for me everyone. That is, if anyone even reads this site anymore.

Another Holiday

November 24, 2005

Haven’t had time to post in a while. I am trying to graduate college, and it seems the closer I get to the end, the more stuff I have to do. That said, this is my obligatory generic holiday post.

Happy (insert holiday here)! This is my favorite holiday! What with everyone (insert holiday activity here), its just too much fun. Today we are going to (insert location for celebration here). I hope to see (insert relative’s name here) and catch up on our lives.

I can practically smell the (insert holiday food here) cooking, and I hope (insert relative’s name here) makes some of those (insert holiday food here) that I love so much.

Well, I hope everyone has a happy and safe (insert holiday here)! Don’t (insert sinful activity here) too much, and remember to (insert non-sinful activity here).

Happy (insert holiday here)!

cross posted at (insert blog name here).

Veterans Day

November 11, 2005

Well, I usually do a Veterans Day post, but I think this one from leftvet at DKos sums it up best:

This Veterans Day, I will think of my friend Sasha. I first met Sasha when I went to the then Soviet Union in 1988 as part of a delegation of Vietnam veterans to meet with Soviet Afghanistan veterans–Afghantsi, they called themselves. I remember the first few moments when we met at the airport in Moscow. Everything was a bit awkward and formal, neither side knowing quite what to do. Then one Afghantsi–his eyes blazing with the look I knew all too well–suddenly pulled up his shirt to show several bullet wounds. “You see these,” he said fiercely, “These bullets were fired from an American-made M-16.” One of the Vietnam veterans who accompanied me quickly pulled up his shirt. “You see these,” he said, “These bullets were fired by a Soviet-made AK-47.” The two men stared at one another briefly, then fell in each other’s arms and wept.

I remember standing in a frigid wind-swept Moscow park, my arm around Sasha, in front of a peculiarly irregular boulder, standing on end with a plaque on it. This was the Afghantsi Memorial, put up by the Afghantsi themselves when the Soviet government failed to honor their request for a government sponsored memorial. There was a large group there — Afghantsi and Vietnamsi–and the former soldiers each took turns speaking from the heart. The message from all was the same: We must honor those who died, we must take care of those who survived. We must promise to each other that our sons will never go through what we did.

Empty words, it seems. The sons of the Afghantsi are now dying in Chechnya, and the children of the Vietnamsi are now Afghantsi and Iraqsi. Yet it is the one idea I still find worth fighting for.

My first new car!

November 9, 2005

Just wanted to introduce ya’ll to the newest member of our family, Shakti.

Ain’t she pretty? I think so. And yes, this means we now own 2 XBs. This is my first new vehicle, as anna has gotten to drive the other ones. Every other vehicle I have ever owned was built in the 70’s. And this is the best damn graduation present ever!

South America Today

November 6, 2005

So Bush is tripping around South America. We all know that the Argentinians were less than thrilled to have him in their country: (subscription required-use lostinspace and password “balls”)

MAR DEL PLATA � Anti-US demonstrators who marched peacefully against the Summit of the Americas declared their weeklong efforts a triumph yesterday, saying their protests helped delay US plans for a region-wide free trade deal.

Bush failed in his efforts to push the FTAA through. Given his wonderful personality, I can’t for the life of me understand why the South American leaders didn’t fall to their knees and praise him. Oh, wait, he’s probably only seen as the second coming here. Anyway, things did not go swimmingly:

MAR DEL PLATA � Leaders from around the Americas failed yesterday to resolve key differences over how to create a US-sponsored regional free trade zone during a summit in Argentina overshadowed by violent anti-US protests. Talks on creating a Free Trade Area of the Americas, or FTAA, have been stalled. The Bush administration had hoped to jump-start discussions here to establish the world�s most populous free trade bloc.

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“We are not going to negotiate something that is harmful to the interests of our people,” said Argentine Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa, summarizing the stance of Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay � Argentina�s partners in the Mercosur trade bloc � and Venezuela.

The five dissenting countries stated, “The conditions do not exist to attain a hemispheric free trade accord that is balanced and fair with access to markets that is free of subsidies and distorting practices.”

Bummer. Oh well, off to Brazil!

Lula added that it was �not opportune� to discuss FTAA before a crucial WTO meeting next month in Hong Kong where subsidies would be a key issue.

Bush � who travelled to the region to mend fences in Latin America � left for Brazil in the second part of a regional trip.

He will likely continue looking for support today in Brazil, where he will be Lula�s guest at a barbecue. He will then visit Panama on Monday before returning to the US.

The US president�s visit to Brazil is aimed at strengthening relations with Lula, who was mistrusted by Washington after becoming the first elected leftist leader of Latin America�s largest economy in 2003.

Before departing for Brazil, Bush said �it would be concerning if there is no consensus� to include the stances of the two blocs of countries in the final communique.

My favorite quote:

In comments to reporters, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos suggested that the talks between regional leaders had at times been tense.

“Something happened here that rarely happened in other meetings: the call to speak out loud was taken up by everyone,” Lagos said.

“At times, we all talked out loud, perhaps too loud, but it made the meeting that more interesting,” he added.

I bet Georgie got all red in the face and threatened to take his toys and go home more than once. As for the reception he is getting in Brazil, its about normal:

The Federal Police and Army are mounting the tightest security plan ever, declaring Brasilia’s airspace an exclusion zone, effecting anti-bomb raids at the places Bush will visit, use of canines and mobilization of hundreds of police agents and soldiers.

But the local social movement announces protests in at least eight cities under the slogan “Bush Out”, starting on Friday 4 in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Belem and Mato Grosso do Sul, on the border with Paraguay, where the US plans to build a military base.

And this:

Bush will meet privately with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, followed by a bilateral delegation session, which sources leaked will concern agricultural subsidies.

He will have the greatest security ever mounted in a Brazilian city with 1,200 military police, 500 police, and 100 soldiers, in addition to an undisclosed number of US secret service and Brazilian intelligence operatives, Federal Police agent Wilson Salles Damazio announced.

He said that all airports are on alert and will be closed for the Bush landing and take-off, while two helicopters and four launches will patrol Lake Brasilia.

It’s like a bad traveling circus. And Bush is the freak. As for his Panama trip, there will probably be less protests:

Anti-Americanism is not an important aspect of Panamanian political life these days, as it was when the US hold on the former Canal Zone was still in dispute. Nevertheless, polls suggest that by an overwhelming margin Panamanians are against the Iraq War and by lesser majorities tend to frown on such key US policies in the region as Plan Colombia and attempts to oust Hugo Ch�vez as Venezuela’s president. Free trade with the United States, however, probably has the support in principle of a plurality of Panamanians and whether an agreement would be supported or opposed by most citizens would depend on how the contents of any specific deal are perceived.

Cross posted at annatopia.

On France

November 6, 2005

I am not completely up on what exactly is going on in France right now with the riots and all. But I did find two diaries on the subject worth sharing.

First, from ameriblog, this:

For years Europeans have loved to talk about racism in America and yes, it has been a problem and continues to be a problem. One big difference as I see it is that in the US there have been attempts to address this problem. Americans also talk about the problem whereas in Europe, it’s not widely discussed or debated and people just ignore it all. Whenever I have raised the subject here, people will tell me about laws in place, blah, blah, blah but the reality is if you have color in your skin and have a name that doesn’t look European, your opportunities are very limited. Nobody is asking to be given jobs but they want fairness and hope.

Earlier this year in France there was talk of having people remove their names from their resumes because it was proven that those with Arabic sounding names had a substantially lower chance of being hired. Much like in the old south, people who are note white can get lousy, low paying jobs to sweep floors but oh no, don’t ask for anything more. There have been some fields where these people could rise above this (IT possibly being one) but in general there is such desperation within these poor areas because people do not see their situations improving. Especially now with the sagging economy and 10% unemployment, these are people who stand even less of a chance to get jobs and get ahead. Unemployment in these areas runs very high, often two or more times the national rate.

And from DKos:

What’s real is that social budgets for these cit�s (those that allow the associations to run sport activities, literacy classes and the like) have been cut in the past 3 years, because, as always, this is the easiest thing to do politically.

What is real is that local police forces have been reduced (in Clichy, where it all started, the police has 15 officers vs 35 in the past) and replaced by national police who do not know the neighborood and are pretty aggressive in their behavior – and especially in their overuse of id controls which target only people of color.

What is real is that France made a choice 30 years ago to preserve the jobs of those already integrated, and made it difficult to join that core. Thus unemployment, or unstable employment (temping, short term contracts, internships) touches only those that are not yet in the system – the young and the immigrants, or those that are kicked out – the older and less educated blue collar workers in dying industries. So in neighboroods where you have a lot of young immigrants, the problems are excerbated.

And finally, what is real is that everybody is aware that nothing serious will be done before the 2007 presidential election. With a lame duck, aging, corrupt President fighting it out with his ambitious interior Ministry (Sarkozy), policy is forgotten to spin, politicking and the like and nothing happens – but people are crying for solutions, and not everybody is willing to wait another 18 months for someone to have a clear mandate and do something. The feeling of fin de r�gne is pervasise and highly corrosive today.

The only thing I would add to this is that I have always wondered why when I read about slavery no one ever seems to bring up Europe’s role. The Europeans brought slaves here first. They created the slave trade. But I never hear that mentioned.

And Europe, especially Germany, has plenty of racists. Hell, the continent has a history of racism, just go read about colonialism and how native peoples were viewed.

So I guess I am not at all surprised by any of this. Europe has a history of bigotry and persecution, and today’s events just show that much of the old attitudes are still in effect.

On A Different Note

November 5, 2005

Me and the wife have taken to watching bull riding. Yes, bull riding. We mainly watch to see the bulls take people out, kinda like watching car racing for the wrecks. But we akso like to see people go the 8 seconds.

So here is the link to the Professional Bull Riders site. The world finals are wrapping up this weekend. Justin McBride is still in the lead, but has been bucked off his last two rides.

Anyhow, here is our favorite bull, Reindeer Dippin.

Big, nasty beast indeed.

Just A Couple Of Posts To Share

November 5, 2005

Been following the diaries concerning Venezuela, the Summit of the Americas and Chavez. Here are a few to check out.

From DKos, this one:

The Most Dangerous Man in the World

Communism and socialism has floundered worldwide, and not just because Ronald Reagan said mean things to them. Though “from each according to their ability, too each according to their need” is a beautiful motto, it ignores the innate selfishness of most people. Traditional communism would make a great government for angels; it’s not so hot with fallible people.

Even so, Chavez seems on a path to avoid the pitfalls that have brought down communist governments worldwide and turned China into the home of dictatorial capitalism.

1) Efficiency — without as much incentive for individual gain, people just don’t seem to work “according to their ability.” More like, according to their ability to get away with it. If nothing else, capitalist systems are fiercely good at milking worker productivity to obscene levels.

So how can Chavez hope to compete? First, unlike most governments, Chavez appears to be plowing the bulk of his resources into the health and education of the citizens. And it’s working. Already literacy rates have soared, and the health care system is garnering praise from around the world. Chavez might just be able to improve his work force enough to more than overcome losses in efficiency.

2) Religion — anyone on the winning side of the Cold War should be very glad Marx was an atheist (not that there’s anything wrong with that). By setting himself and his movement in opposition to religion, Marx cut many people off from their traditions, left his movement feeling stale and artificial, and generated a ready source for internal strife. If Marx had been a nice Catholic boy, we might all be humming along today like a nice little hive of Mormon bees (no offense, Senator Reid).

Chavez is not an atheist, or at least he has gone out of his way not to attack religion. He’s met with Catholic leaders — even though several had sided with the coup plotters — in efforts to reassure them he doesn’t want to become a dictator, he’s kept his hands off church property, and he frequently uses references to God or biblical themes in his speeches. Chavez emphasizes the call for community action and community property among Christians. This alone should make him an ultimate boogeyman to anyone who fears commies under the bed.

3) Corruption — The real downfall of every communist government so far has been the home-grown worms that always show up to consume the apple. The idea of a single party state ruled by a strict hierarchy makes it just too tempting for members of the apparatchik to gather in more power and loot. Single party systems have to either constantly sit on their own populace, or distract them with external threats. Combine this with the efficiency factor, and the attacks on traditional religion, and you get dispirited, disgruntled, disappointed workers. That is not a long term formula for success.

Though Chavez’ party now has a majority control at all levels, Chavez has at least said the right things about maintaining a competitive, open democracy. So long as they follow through, the forces that have crumbled previous states may be held at bay. Should Chavez start bringing more powers into his own office (and he’s already done so to some extent), it’ll be a bad sign. Should he decide to stay past the time limit he helped pass, it’ll be the death knell.

And this:

Chavez wins the first half of the match.

Chavez walks around without a single bodyguard. Who appears in control?

And from the Booman Tribune:

Re: The Summit

Bush has just arrived to Argentina to take part of the Americas Summit. I am sure you will be hearing of this all over the news, so I decided to write about what you wont probably hear: the Security for the Summit, and the Peoples Summit.

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Bush�s intention is to sign the FTAA agreement. My opinion is that this is crucial because if he does, he will earn some political capital, which we all know is so desperately needs when his image bottoming down. During his trip to Argentina, Condoleezza Rice and her argentine counterpart, Rafael Bielsa had a phone conversation that lasted about half hour. Those conversations have been described as tense. Apparently, Bielsa explained her The Mercosur�s position and what is blocking the advance of the treaty. Apparently Rice was not to understanding, and said that the US wants that some concrete advance in these negotiations. According to some versions, Bielsa had accepted some points. According to others, he said that it was a matter for the Mercosur, and that it was out of his hands. Apparently, there might be two different documents, which would be a first: One would express the majority version, and the other the Mercosur�s positions. This would be very unusual, because it would indicate the strong division of the continent. And Bush, with all the problems that he has at home, has to present himself as a leader of the group. What the Latin-American opposition is looking for is an end to American subsidies of agricultural products, so they can have a chance of introducing their products into the US. If he does, he will face strong opposition of those red states, which are the agricultural zones. After maintaining his arrival in secret, due to security reasons Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived to Mar del Plata . His first comments were against the FTAA, He will be staying in a hotel OUTSIDE the exclusion zone. For him, the FTAA is dead and �we are going to bury it here,� and pointed out that the American empire is weakened and that proof of that is that the Presidents will sign a document that will not mention the FTAA. He also said: �only the peoples union will save this land.�

There is much more in these diaries, their comment threads, and in other diaries. Since I am still reading, I will update this post as I go.

What A World (Update)

November 2, 2005

First, from VHeadline, we get this:

Writing on National and Homeland Security in today’s Washington Post, William M. Arkin says that the Pentagon has begun contingency planning for potential military conflict with Venezuela as part of a broad post-Iraq evaluation of strategic threats to the United States.

The planning has been precipitated by general and specific directives issued by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his civilian policy assistants.

…………………………………………..

Military sources ascribe Venezuela’s emergence on a list of actual military threats as a reflection of an important post 9/11 war reality: The events themselves of September 11 provide justification … and perceived need … to take risks in thinking about unanticipated threats. “The Global War on Terror is rightfully our near-term focus, but we certainly don�t want to be caught flat-footed by a series of other possibilities,” says one Defense Department planning document.

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There is another bureaucratic reality of Venezuela as the pop up threat and recipient of contingency planner attention: US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which is responsible for Latin America, needs something to do. Since 9/11, the Miami-based command has been robbed of much of its responsibilities for homeland and maritime security, relegated to doing little more than fighting the war on drugs. The al Qaeda terrorist threat in Latin America, which Rumsfeld’s office was trumpeting in 2001 and 2002, has also proven to be a bust.

And then this, from BBC:

President Hugo Chavez has warned the US he could give some of his country’s F-16 fighter jets to Cuba or China.

Mr Chavez accused the US of breaking a contract to supply spare parts for the jets it sold to Venezuela in the 1980s.

He suggested that Washington would be less than pleased if military rivals gained access to the advanced planes.

The F-16s were sold to previous governments that had better relations with the White House. The US sees Mr Chavez as an unfriendly head of state.

All of which is leading up to this:

Shouting “Yankee, get out!” and singing protest songs, thousands opposed to President Bush held a massive rally at a basketball arena just days before Bush arrives at this seaside resort for the Summit of the Americas.

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On Tuesday, organizers of the so-called “People’s Summit” gave fiery anti-Bush speeches that echoed through a drab concrete stadium several miles from the site where leaders of 34 Western Hemisphere nations will meet Friday and Saturday.

The protesters included Argentine Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who won the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for opposing his country’s military regime.

“We’ve had enough of Mr. Bush, who has committed crimes against humanity,” Perez told reporters. He called Bush a “murderer” for his actions in Iraq and elsewhere.

Activists say they not only will protest Bush’s actions in the Middle East but also free trade policies they say enslave Latin America workers. They are hoping to draw 50,000 people for their highlight event _ a protest Friday.

The main subject of the Summit of the Americas is the poverty reduction, but for Bush its really about the failed FTAA.

In response to the 1980s debt crisis, many Latin American countries adopted far-flung economic reforms centered on trade liberalization. The capstone of their efforts occurred in 1994 when 34 Western Hemisphere nations met at the first Summit of the Americas in Miami. There, under U.S. leadership, they proposed a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) to integrate the economies of the Americas, and planned on signing it by January 1, 2005. Since 1994, however, there have been four summits and eight trade ministerial meetings, during which the shape of the proposed FTAA has advanced gradually through rounds of practical negotiations. As a result, three versions have since been created. In 2002, a second text was drafted at the Quito Ministerial Meeting which created a clause whereby the United States and Brazil would become the new, permanent co-chairs of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC). The third and most recent draft FTAA text was completed at the 2003 ministerial meeting in Miami.

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In his address at the United Nations, President Bush declared that �The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same.� In another venue, the U.S. has offered to slash its agricultural subsidies by 50%. However Washington must go through the difficult task of resolving the agricultural subsidy question in Congress and by engaging U.S. public opinion, if it is to have a prayer of a chance of challenging the current standoff over the issue. Statements by President Bush will continue to reek of hypocrisy until that issue is frontally addressed with no secret agenda using substitute para-subsidy methods near at hand. By continually insisting on equal terms for such controversial issues as the service trade, IPR, and government procurement, while remaining unwilling to eliminate up front its farm subsidy programs, the U.S. stymies the one predictable trade area where Latin America otherwise might have a comparative advantage.

Ok, so far we have covered contingency war plans, weapons trade, protests and free trade. Something is missing. Oh, wait, here it is:

Chavez recently said he is interested in working with Iran to explore peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Chavez has insisted Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy despite opposition from the U.S. government, which fears Tehran may be developing a nuclear weapons program.

Venezuela has asked for technical help from Argentina to develop nuclear energy….

Bush’s response:

Despite tense relations with Venezuela, President Bush says it might be OK for the South American nation to have a nuclear reactor for peaceful energy uses.

Not up for a fight I guess what with the summit coming up. Still, the Iran connection is interesting. Let’s see, we already have the nuclear issue. War plans, check. Weapons trade, check, although flipped since Iran was our “enemy” at the time. Protests, check. And free trade issues, check.*

Which brings us to what this is really about, oil. Plain and simple. They have it, we want it, and this shit will continue until we get these folks out of Washington AND Americans learn to conserve.

Both of which require the truth coming out. Good luck on that happening.

Update- Well, things are heating up.

Chavez, who often spars with the United States, claimed the American delegation is trying to “to revive the FTAA.”

“They aren’t going to revive it even if they produce a 100,000-page document,” he told the Caracas-based television channel Telesur.

I will be watching the news for new developments. In the mean time, check out the Summit website for more info and history.

* Oh, and I almost forgot to add that our government has been “involved” in the electoral processes of both Venezuela and Iran.