Blacknell.net

Politics, technology, and society. And the seasonal incursion of pro cycling.

Month: September 2007 (Page 1 of 3)

The Nation’s Triathlon

Checked out the first running of "The Nation's Triathlon" this weekend.  A chilly Potomac swim, a ride down Ohio Drive to Hains Point and back, and then a run around the western end of the Mall.   More pictures to come.

Arguing on the Internet is like . . .

well, I won't finish that, because even I'm a little ashamed of how amusing I find the punchline.  But the punchline has everything to do with this:
Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) will be introducing a resolution in the House of Representatives on Monday condemning Rush Limbaugh for his "phony soldiers" remark.
On one hand, I'm quite happy to see this - I am tired of Democrats (both elected and rank and file) with their milquetoast reluctance to forcefully condemn the asinine statements that come out of the GOP and its surrogates.   So it's nice to see some of the GOP's own medicine being flung back at them. But that's exactly what turns me around on the issue - this is a total GOP move.  Seriously, who gives a shit what Rush Limbaugh's ignorant ass said?  Really, does anyone think that there's a segment of the population out there that will say "Yeah, go Rush!" and then rethink that position once this resolution is passed?  No.  There are those people fundamentally stupid enough to sign on it, and no resolution is going to change that.  And the only other group of people paying attention to it are those who are fundamentally immoral enough to not really give a damn about the implication of the statement, and will stand by it no matter what.  So why sink down to the GOP's level when it will do no good?

Watching Burma

It struck me how easy it was to find photos and accounts in realtime during the coup in Thailand last year, compared to the dearth of information about what's going on in Burma now.  Listening to NPR just now, a caller made a claim that some of the army had split - if true, that would be extraordinary.  Yet no one seems to have the first way to confirm it.  One of the very first things the world could do to help is get a crateload of satellite phones and portable data stations into the country.
  • The BBC is printing personal accounts here.  Read a few.
  • There's a flickr stream from someone inside Rangoon here.
  • A Burmese blog reporting on the ground (mostly in Burmese, but good sections of account in English) here.
  • An aggregator of Burmese news here.  This is the source of the photo below.  (If it's your photo, I'll credit it or take it down, though I hope to be able to leave it up.)

Burma

Tomorrow is Clarendon Day

Clarendon Day

Tomorrow is Clarendon Day, one of my favorite annual local events. Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards are closed from Irving to Garfield Streets, and there's something for everyone. Sidewalk chalking for the kids, local music for the adults, and lots of food for all. Runs from noon to 7p.

MP3, Easy As . . .

1 2 3 (4). Well, that was a pleasant surprise.  The commercial for the new iPod Nano came on just a minute ago - you know, the one with the great theme by Feist?   On a lark, I decided to check whether Amazon's new DRM-free MP3 service offered this track for sale.  And, one text search and about 5 or 6 easy clicks later, I've purchased this Apple theme from Amazon for 89 cents and am listening to it as I type this.  And the icing on the cake is that I don't have to bother with "authorizing" another machine or otherwise worrying about how I'll transfer this track from this laptop to my desktop or other MP3 players. Well done, Amazon.

Ken Burns’ The War

Like many other people, I've been watching the new Ken Burns series - The War. Yes, it's about World War II, which is probably among the most documented events in history. What more is there to say? Well . . . plenty. Without taking away from many of the existing efforts at examining WWII, I think that The War does an excellent job of zeroing in on the most important thing - the human cost of war. Please give it a chance. Update: I happened to be watching Ken Burns get interviewed on the Daily Show, and he just said that he doesn't think he could have made it 10 years ago, because the WWII vets didn't really want to talk about it, and that he wouldn't be able to make it 10 years from now, because so many of them will be gone.  It's his experience that right now, at this point in time, a lot of WWII vets are willing to talk.  I bring this up because it fits with something I was shocked to learn a couple of days ago - my own grandfather is watching this series.  It's shocking not just because he's never been one for documentaries or history, but because the subject of his time in the Pacific in WWII (and esp. in Nagasaki, immediately after the atom bomb was dropped) has rarely been a subject he was willing to broach, nevermind discuss or let others examine.  I hope this series doesn't disappoint him.

What’s my favorite *Bible* verse, Tim?

Tim Russert asked the Democratic candidates which Bible verse was their favorite. Any one of them could have won my vote by simply saying "Ezekiel 25:17":
"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."
And if the candidate had capped Tim Russert to underline the point, I would have supported him/her for King or Queen.

And I thought DC Metro Buses were bad . . .

Goodness.

Use the Custis Trail in Arlington? Meeting Wednesday Night

If you use the Custis Trail that runs along I-66 in Arlington, there's a public VDOT meeting at 7:30p on Wednesday (Sept 26th) at Washington-Lee High School (in the cafeteria).  This meeting is being held to discuss three specific widening proposals.  It's my understanding that it's not regarding the larger (asinine) idea of widening I-66 by a lane, but limited extensions of entry/exit lanes.  However, it still has the potential to have a detrimental impact on the Custis Trail, which is a high-traffic alternative transportation artery.   For more details about the meeting and the take of the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation, click on the "more" link below.  I've pasted an email from cycling advocate Allen Muchnick to local listsevs in its entirety.

Read More

Hope for Burma

The appalling state of human rights in Burma is largely overlooked on the world stage. But it means a lot to those who live there. And it's those who live there that are risking much to take a stand. The New York Times is reporting that:
The largest street protests in two decades against Myanmar’s military rulers gained momentum on Sunday as thousands of onlookers cheered huge columns of barefoot Buddhist monks and shouted support for the detained pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
While it gives me hope for Burma, it also worries me. The same article notes that:
The public display of discontent in Myanmar mirrors that of the previous uprising — anger over a brutal and incompetent military government that has turned one of Southeast Asia’s best-endowed and most-sophisticated nations into one of its most-repressed and poverty-ridden.
That previous uprising - in 1988 - resulted in a bloodbath. I wish I could do more than this. I wish the world would do more than nothing.

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