The Citizenship and Immigration Services Agency released a new set of 144 questions of which a person applying for U.S. citizenship must answer six of ten questions correctly to pass the test.

The New York Times reports that Emilio Gonzales, the Director of the agency said:

“When you raise your hand and swear your allegiance to the United States, you really ought to know what you are swearing allegiance to.  You ought to internalize by that time, the very values that make this country what it is, the very reason why you are raising your right hand. … Citizenship is not test taking.”

And speaking of civil wars, question #109 asks:  Name one problem that led to the Civil War. (Answers:  Slavery, Economic reasons, States rights.)

I also found a two good questions to ask of presidential candidates before they are allowed to file for candidacy:

Why do we have three branches of government?

Name one example of checks and balances.

Given the way things have been going for the past six years, those are questions that ought to be asked of the new president before the swearing-in ceremony, and at least twice a year thereafter for as long as he or she remains in office.

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America:

…I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 30, 2006, as National Methamphetamine Awareness Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate programs and activities.

A little advance notice would have been appreciated. He just issued the proclamation on November 28, 2006. As stated in the proclamation we should”observe this day with appropriate programs and activities”. Two days is nowhere near enough time to plan for such an important day. Not even enough time to plan a quick party…
Check out the Department of Justice’s meth awareness page to learn more.

I am tolerant of drug use, but would recommend people pick another drug of choice. Methaphetamine is definitely the number one drug to avoid.

As a rule of thumb, if a ‘friend’ smiles and offers you Meth, run…
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Smile if you like meth!!!

Most people who watch the news or read the reports of what’s going on in Iraq are pretty sure that the conflict there has become a civil war even if they aren’t really sure how to define “civil war.”

The New York Times ran a piece on Sunday that includes definitions by people who specialize in the study of civil wars:

The common scholarly definition has two main criteria. The first says that the warring groups must be from the same country and fighting for control of the political center, control over a separatist state or to force a major change in policy. The second says that at least 1,000 people must have been killed in total, with at least 100 from each side.

American professors who specialize in the study of civil wars say that most of their number are in agreement that Iraq’s conflict is a civil war.

“I think that at this time, and for some time now, the level of violence in Iraq meets the definition of civil war that any reasonable person would have,” said James Fearon, a political scientist at Stanford.

“It’s stunning; it should have been called a civil war a long time ago, but now I don’t see how people can avoid calling it a civil war,” said Nicholas Sambanis, a political scientist at Yale who co-edited “Understanding Civil War: Evidence and Analysis,“ published by the World Bank in 2005. “The level of violence is so extreme that it far surpasses most civil wars since 1945.”

Monday’s White House Press Conference included this exchange:

Q Do you maintain it’s still not a civil war in Iraq?

MR. HADLEY: Well, it’s interesting, the Iraqis don’t talk of it as a civil war; the unity government doesn’t talk of it as a civil war. And I think the things they point to when they say that are, one, that at this point in time the army and the police have not fractured along sectarian lines, which is what you’ve seen elsewhere; and the government continues to be holding together and has not fractured on sectarian terms.

MR. SNOW: — (inaudible) — civil war? No, but you have not yet had a situation also where you have two clearly defined and opposing groups vying not only for power, but for territory. What you do have is sectarian violence that seems to be less aimed at gaining full control over an area than expressing differences, and also trying to destabilize a democracy — which is different than a civil war, where two sides are clashing for territory and supremacy.

Oh really?

From the same NYT article:

“You need to let the world know there’s a civil war here in Iraq,” said Adel Ibrahim, 44, a sheik in the Subiah tribe, which is mostly Shiite. “It’s a crushing civil war. Mortars kill children in our neighborhoods. We’re afraid to travel anywhere because we’ll be killed in buses. We don’t know who is our enemy and who is our friend.”

And today, Colin Powell spoke at a forum in Dubai and pretty much said Iraq is in the midst of a civil war:

… according to David Hellaby, who organized the “Leaders in Dubai Business Forum.” No cameras were allowed in to record the talk, but Hellaby was present and issued a press release quoting Powell.

During his speech, Hellaby said, Powell said the Iraq war had three phases. The first, the invasion phase, went as planned. But the second phase, the military occupation, was “badly handled,” Powell said, according to the conference organizer.

Mistakes during the second phase led to the third, “which could be considered a civil war,” Powell told the conference, according to Hellaby.

Call it what you want Mr. Bush, but the rest of us will call it a civil war, and we’re all wondering what the hell we’re doing there.  We think it’s time get the hell out.  So do the Iraqi people.  71% of them.

Tom Waits a 3-disc album titled Orphans – Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards.  I’ve been listening to it every day since it came out, and I must say it’s an incredibly great collection of songs.  The “Brawlers” disc is made up primarily of noisy, stomping rock songs, the “Bawlers” disc holds the quieter ballads, and the “Bastards” disc is a mish mash new stuff, songs he’s done in the past including his rendition of “Heigh Ho” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in which he “takes the spring out of their step.”  (Go listen to this NPR interview for more about that.) and some stories that only Tom can tell.

Tom was on David Letterman Monday night.  Watch Part I of the interview here and watch his performance of “Lie to Me” below.

Tom was on The Daily Show Tuesday night, and you can watch the interview in two parts here and here.  During the interview Tom and Jon discuss how the problems in Iraq might be solved with a 2X4 guitar.   The show closes with a truncated performance of “Day After Tomorrow” from the 2004 album Real Gone.  Watch it here.

If you haven’t bought Orphans yet, well go get it already.

Our weather is driving our homeless into the warmth of the library. Apparently this is not ideal for some people. But without adequate facilities for the care of the homeless, indigent, and mentally ill, how do we solve this problem?

Put them to work! They could work in a factory producing food for themselves and others! And those too ill to work, well…they can be the main ingredient!

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The Tesla Roadster:

  • 100% electric
  • 0-60 in 4 seconds
  • 135 mpg equivalent
  • 250 miles per charge
  • about 1 cent per mile

Check out the Tesla Roadster website and get your order in for a 2008 model.

Martin Eberhard, the Tesla’s inventor, explains to Slate why the Tesla Roadster is different from previous electric cars:

Eberhard says traditional carmakers have failed with electrics for two reasons. First, they market them as “penalty boxes” for environmental do-gooders and gas-mileage-obsessed penny-pinchers. Second, they just don’t understand batteries. The Tesla’s giant lithium-ion battery pack gives it the power to hit 60 in four seconds, to run 250 miles without a recharge, and to charge rapidly at its home charging base (a one-hour charge will take you 80 miles; it takes a 3.5-hour charge to go 250 miles). You can even plug into a wall socket at a roadside stop in a pinch. That makes the Roadster a viable commuter car and weekend day-tripper. The company claims energy costs as low as a penny per mile.

Plans are already underway for a sedan to compete with BMW 5-series cars.  I can hardly wait to see what the big car companies decide to bring to the game.

Back in July 2006 I posted regarding a news story of a group of zombies being arrested for possession of “simulated weapons of mass destruction.”

The police in Minneapolis were really at the top of their game on this one.  Who knows what could have happened had the zombie dance party been allowed to continue.  By the time of the arrests, their numbers had grown to nearly 8.  Not nearly a mob, but definitely more that a few, almost enough to be considered a group.
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It was obvious at the time that the zombies were:

  1. Not Al-Qaeda operatives
  2. Not in possession of WMDs, simulated or otherwise (unless a stereo in a backpack is a WMD)

I really thought I would never live to see a second coming, but I was wrong. The zombies have arisen again and this time they want…… JUSTICE.

That’s right, justice. According to Minneapolis TV station KSTP Channel 5, the zombies are suing, arguing that the arrests violated their freedom of speech and that they were discriminated against.

According to the story:

Police alleged that wires protruding from the zombie’s backpacks could have been bombs or were meant to imitate bombs. It was later learned the wires were actually radios.

The adult zombies were jailed for two days before police and city attorneys said there was not enough evidence to charge them.

So, it took two days to figure out that the wires were not bombs and that the “wires were actually radios”?  How long did it take to figure out that they weren’t really zombies?

I bet it took exactly 2 days.  I think someone was fearful of another zombie takeover like the one documented in Dawn of the Dead.

What are you thankful for?

Me?

I am most thankful that my dog Lucy made it back home from her wild adventure yesterday.

Yesterday, Seattle was surprised by a midafternoon thunderstorm. Lucy hates thunder and lightning even more than than taking a bath. I only heard a couple of thunder claps and was comfortable knowing that Lucy was safe at home, probably sleeping on my bed.

Upon arriving home I discovered that she was not in the house.  At first I thought that I had forgotten to lock up the dog door that goes into the backyard (the door was on the floor) and that she was in the yard.   When I went to reinsert the door, I found that it was binding on the runners.  At that point I knew that Lucy must have been quite scared, as she somehow ripped the locking dog door out of the runners.  (I have since tried to pull it out of the runners, myself, and can not.)

After getting out of the house, she found herself in the backyard and broke through the fence (a first) to the front of the house. She must have been totally terrified…

Lucy was running down the middle of the street when a very nice woman, Pam, saw her and stopped. Pam had never seen Lucy before, but knew that Lucy was scared and needed her help. Lucy did not have her collar and tags (remember, she was locked in my house on the bed when I left), so Pam stopped by the vet and had her scanned for a chip. Bingo… She now knew Lucy’s name and my name. But she was only able to get that far, as I am not listed and my personal information related to the chip was out of date (my bad).

After running errands with Pam for a couple of hours (Lucy loves hanging out in cars), Lucy found her way to the pet walking/sitting services of Furhead Riviera. A massive thanks goes out to Amy at Furhead Riviera for keeping Lucy safe for a few hours until I could get her back home.

These two women, who did not know Lucy or me before yesterday really made my year.

Thanks for making this a great year!

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After a long day Lucy loves a nice Pinot.

For the Kids:

A long time ago, when the first Americans came from Europe, they had a really hard time surviving their first winter. The next year, they worked really hard and made friends with some of the Native Americans that lived near them.That fall, in 1621, they celebrated their hard work with a harvest festival. The settlers invited their Native American friends to join in the feast.The first Thanksgiving lasted for 3 days and everybody had plenty to eat, including turkey, cranberries and pumpkins.Every year, we celebrate Thanksgiving as a time to be thankful of all the things that we have in our lives…

More can be found here.

For the Adults:

The settlers at Plymouth, Massachusetts had a very tough first winter, with nearly half of the settlers dying. The next year, they remaining settlers worked very diligently to establish food stores to get them through the next winter.
In the fall of 1621, these settlers held a harvest feast which lasted 3 days. As they had recently signed a peace treaty with a nearby Indian tribe, the Indians were invited and brought a lot of venison to the feast.  The next several years found the Indians more likely to be murdered by the settlers than to be invited to the fall harvest feast.

Over time the tradition of thanksgiving feasts ebbed and flowed, but the slaughter of the Native Americans grew until 95% of all Native Americans were murdered, nearly 12 million innocent Native Americans.

The tradition of murder continues, the United States kills 300 million turkeys each year, 45 million are murdered to celebrate Thanksgiving alone.

What you can do:

It is no wonder that the United States and Americans in general are considered to be agressive and violent by much of the world. The United States is built upon the killing of innocent people and animals.

Fortunately you can make a difference. Say no to the killing and choose a vegetarian option. Think different, think Tofurky.