Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Torture (and Irony)

September 29, 2006

Interesting — and one more reason to love the internet (nothing really disappears).

Today, on the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the United States declares its strong solidarity with torture victims across the world. Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. We are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.

Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, ratified by the United States and more than 130 other countries since 1984, forbids governments from deliberately inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering on those within their custody or control. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit. Beating, burning, rape, and electric shock are some of the grisly tools such regimes use to terrorize their own citizens. These despicable crimes cannot be tolerated by a world committed to justice.

Notorious human rights abusers, including, among others, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe, have long sought to shield their abuses from the eyes of the world by staging elaborate deceptions and denying access to international human rights monitors. Until recently, Saddam Hussein used similar means to hide the crimes of his regime. With Iraq’s liberation, the world is only now learning the enormity of the dictator’s three decades of victimization of the Iraqi people. Across the country, evidence of Baathist atrocities is mounting, including scores of mass graves containing the remains of thousands of men, women, and children and torture chambers hidden inside palaces and ministries. The most compelling evidence of all lies in the stories told by torture survivors, who are recounting a vast array of sadistic acts perpetrated against the innocent. Their testimony reminds us of their great courage in outlasting one of history’s most brutal regimes, and it reminds us that similar cruelties are taking place behind the closed doors of other prison states.

The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment. I call on all nations to speak out against torture in all its forms and to make ending torture an essential part of their diplomacy. I further urge governments to join America and others in supporting torture victims’ treatment centers, contributing to the UN Fund for the Victims of Torture, and supporting the efforts of non-governmental organizations to end torture and assist its victims.

No people, no matter where they reside, should have to live in fear of their own government. Nowhere should the midnight knock foreshadow a nightmare of state-commissioned crime. The suffering of torture victims must end, and the United States calls on all governments to assume this great mission.

George W. Bush(‘s Speechwriters), June 26, 2003  


Did the Ironman Ride in the driving rain in wind

May 8, 2006

62 miles in nasty wet weather is not fun. It did teach me a few things though.

  1. I hate the wind
  2. I need to work on my climbing
  3. Your feet can go numb even when it is in the upper 40’s
  4. I need to do something to keep my feet dry in the rain
  5. I love my bike
  6. The MS150 is going to be a piece of cake comparatively (very flat and warmer)
  7. I got really, really dirty
  8. I CAN do it

BTW, I need someone to ride with in the MS150. My riding partner, Jason, did two things that will preclude him from riding this year — he moved to San Francisco (which wasn’t going to keep wim away), and he broke his collarbone in two places riding last week (which WILL keep him away).

Any takers?

Another “resentment” (more about that later) – Amazon this time.

April 18, 2006

Anyway, I made another order with Amazon and have been using the free-trial of the “Prime” service. The “free” (I love how something you pay $80 a year for is “free”) two-day shipping has worked pretty well, but is it worth the dough? Not if this is how they calculate shipping info. I got the shaft on a book I ordered for a birthday present. I placed an order on Thursday the 13th. The item said “Usually ships within 24 hours”. Cool. It’ll ship on Friday and I’ll get it Tuesday.Wrong. It did ship on Friday, but delivery is scheduled for Wednesday. One day after the date I needed it.

Here is the response I got from Padvamathy to my initial concern:

The One-Day or Two-Day delivery option you choose may not directly correspond with the carrier-branded shipping service used to deliver your package. We use your desire for a specific delivery date along with our knowledge of carrier capabilities (acquired through sending millions of shipments) to select the most appropriate and efficient shipping service available to meet the delivery estimate.

I’ve got knowledge of basic math (acquired through doing millions of calculations in the past 36 years). This is bunk.

The New Camera has Arrived! (Olympus Evolt E-500)

March 5, 2006

I finally ordered the new camera (the Olympus Evolt E-500). I’ve been waiting months for this and I’m really excited. Once I had the go-ahead to order it, it still took me over 24 hours to pull the trigger. I knew what I wanted, there was no doubt about that, but I needed to obsess over who I should order it from. I considered Amazon, but after they raised the price $80 over the past month, that pissed me off enough to look elsewhere. The best price was actually Sam’s Club, but c’mon Sam’s Club?I finally chose a package on eBay from Cameta Camera that included a 1GB fast CF card, a bag (I don’t need) and a bunch of other useless stuff. The thing is, it’s a factory-demo. It’s mint condition and came with only 212 shutter movements — I’ve pushed it to over 800 in the week since it came. I got it along with two additional years of factory warranty and two OK lens filters all for less than just the camera body and the two lens kit would have cost new at Amazon. It’s turned out to be a good choice.

Why did I choose the Olympus? For a number of reasons. The reviews are undeniably good. Another thing… I’m not the kind of person who typically follows what everyone else is buying — I’ve only ever owned one pair of Nikes, and someone bought them for me. The market leaded typically doesn’t try as hard. While the Canon Rebel XT is a really good camera, I didn’t like the size of it. It felt small in my hands (I have to like using it), the kit lens was less than excellent (the Olympus comes with two solid lenses) and the price was too high (to come up with a comparable kit I would have been hundreds more and with three kids and a mortgage, that mattered a lot). To me there is also something a bit “plasticy” about the Rebel — even though it’s no more plastic than the Olympus. Toss in the memory of Agassi doing those ridiculous EOS “Rebel” ads in the early 90’s (it’s not all science) and I definitely wanted an alternative.

I have a history with Nikon and Olympus. In my pre-digital days, I had a nice Nikon setup that my dad has continued. I sold my FM2 on eBay to finance the purchase of the then-state of the art Olympus c-3000z in 2001 — a camera I still own. I gave my collection of excellent lenses to my dad who has since added a set of collector worthy bodies (an F an F3 Titanium and at least one other) so someday — opefully many, many years from now — I’ll be back with the Nikon. I love Nikon, but Olympus has had my back digitally for years (since 1999) and the quality I’ve found has been excellent.

Now for something decent to shoot. I gotta get out of town soon.

my flickr

October 30, 2005

Hey. If you want to see the pictures I’ve been taking, here’s the link:

If you’re a friend (or family), let me know your account and I’ll add you as such (NOTE: the vast majority of the photos are private for family and friends).