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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Empire Protest Pics from Hollywood

Howdy folks! Well, I got back from the protest about two hours ago and have been editing pics since I got back. I shot a buttload of video and now I need to go through it all and decide what is worth showing you and what isn't. My minicam is a great little gadget--compact, shoots hours of video, but the picture quality kind of sucks once the lights go down a bit and since most of this protest took place after dark, there's a lot that just didn't come out so well.

Anyway, here are some stills that I took. Want more? Check out [http://www.flickr.com/photos/thepete/tags/stateoftheempireprotest2006/|more at Flickr].

Right, well, wouldn't you freakin' know it? My Flickr plugin for WordPress isn't working. Hit the link above and check out the pics. The video clips won't be ready for another day or two--I'm too tired to begin going through them now. I need to cut together a minidocumentary and post it hopefully before the weekend.

[ThePhlog] 1/31/2006 08:00:36 PM

Is it true that if you've seen one protest you've seen them all?

Well, I sure thought so.

Listen to part three of my live-phlogging from the big State-of-the-Empire protest in Hollywood to hear more about it!

this is an audio post - click to play

[ThePhlog] 1/31/2006 06:38:23 PM

Part two of my live-phlogging from the big State-of-the-Empire protest in the heart of Hollywood. A little confusing, the protest was, and a bit disorganized, but then what protest isn't? :)

Have a listen and enjoy the fun!

this is an audio post - click to play

Ballpoint Adventures 1/31/6 pt 10 of 10

I ended up coming up with ten different jokes for the art in today's Ballpoint Adventures strip. Bush giving a State of the Empire speech is just too easy a target... Have a gander at #10:

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006!

[ThePhlog] 1/31/2006 05:43:27 PM

In this entry of ThePhlog, listen to me as I live-phlog from the big State-of-the-Empire-Speech protest in Hollywood! COOL!

It's a little hard to hear me due to all of the protesters, but you can just feel the excitement as you listen!! YEAH!!

this is an audio post - click to play

Ballpoint Adventures 1/31/6 pt 9 of 10

I ended up coming up with ten different jokes for the art in today's Ballpoint Adventures strip. Bush giving a State of the Empire speech is just too easy a target... Have a gander at #9:

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006!


Please stop back in an hour for another version of the above strip. THANKS!

AMERICANS SAVINGS LOWEST SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION

You may be too young or stupid to remember this, but back in 1929 there was a biiiig stock market crash. People lost all of their money, homes and more. It was a horrible time to be an American and the time it took to recover from the crash would become known as the Great Depression. Not only were Americans emotionally depressed, but their incomes were, too.

As a result, most Americans had to raid their savings accounts, spending said money just to survive.

It's very telling today that the current level of savings for Americans is just as low as it was in 1933, according to [http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8FF3QI00.htm?campaign_id=apn_home_down&chan=db|a January 30, 2006 article] from AP.org and BusinessWeek.com. here's a clip that explains what I'm talking about:
Americans' personal savings rate dipped into negative territory in 2005, something that hasn't happened since the Great Depression. Consumers depleted their savings to finance the purchases of cars and other big-ticket items.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that the savings rate fell into negative territory at minus 0.5 percent, meaning that Americans not only spent all of their after-tax income last year but had to dip into previous savings or increase borrowing.

The savings rate has been negative for an entire year only twice before -- in 1932 and 1933 -- two years when the country was struggling to cope with the Great Depression, a time of massive business failures and job layoffs.


Though, it doesn't go into much more detail than that as far as the "what the hell are Americans thinking" factor is concerned. It does add one thing that I believe to be a complete misinterpretation of the American mindset--here it is:
With employment growth strong now, analysts said that different factors are at play. Americans feel they can spend more, given that the value of their homes, the biggest asset for most families, has been rising sharply in recent years.

But analysts cautioned that this behavior was risky at a time when 78 million Americans are on the verge of retirement.

"Americans seem to have the feeling that it is wimpish to save," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York. "The idea is to put away money for old age and we are just not doing that."


While I agree that Wyss is right as to why we should save, I believe that the above-quoted-passage is all wrong in defining why Americans aren't saving. It's not that we think it's wimpish to save. It's not that we think we can spend more because of the value of our homes. I believe that it's because most of us don't care about anything but immediate gratification.

Seriously--what's the point of credit if you can just pull from your savings? Why wrack up debt when you just spend your savings and don't have to blow all that extra money on interest payments and eventually late fees and over-your-spending-limit fees?

Conversely, thanks to credit, no one sees the point to saving any more. Why save at all when you've got credit? It's inverted saving and it only costs just a liiiittle bit more thanks to interest payments (no one ever assumes they'll end up owing huge late fees and over-your-limit fees).

Also, America is a culture of HERE, NOW, IMMEDIATELY. No waiting, no hesitation, no resistance--just give in and buy things NOW. Why save up for a car when you can finance one and get it NOW? It'll have you driving sooner AND it'll help your credit rating so you can finance that house!

Our system is letting us down--enslaving us, even. Meanwhile those that speak for our system (financial analysts) fill our heads with incorrect information regarding why we spend and (fail to) save the way we do. Sure, they admit that it's dangerous, but they don't give us the real reasons why.

Someone might read this AP article and think "Well, if it gets really bad, I can just sell my house and move into an apartment--no big deal!"

Of course, then the floor drops out of the housing market and his house is worth a lot less or jack.

There's a whole generation of Americans who haven't noticed that our system is letting us down. They believe that housing will stay strong and that they'll always have a job. [http://thepete.com/12-of-americans-below-the-poverty-line/|Poverty in America is going up] and it's not really showing signs of slowing or stopping.

Stop buying DVDs, video games, cars, gadgets, expensive things, etc. (yes, this goes for me, too).

Saaaave, people. Save your money...

Ballpoint Adventures 1/31/6 pt 8 of 10

I ended up coming up with ten different jokes for the art in today's Ballpoint Adventures strip. Bush giving a State of the Empire speech is just too easy a target... Have a gander at #8:

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006!


Make sure to check out other comics at ThePete.Com by going here:

http://thepete.com/tag/thefunnies/

Please stop back in an hour for another version of the above strip. THANKS!

Ballpoint Adventures 1/31/6 pt 7 of 10

I ended up coming up with ten different jokes for the art in today's Ballpoint Adventures strip. Bush giving a State of the Empire speech is just too easy a target... Have a gander at #7:

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006!


Make sure to check out other comics at ThePete.Com by going here:

http://thepete.com/tag/thefunnies/

Please stop back in an hour for another version of the above strip. THANKS!

ANYONE ELSE PROTESTING TONIGHT?

I'll be taking the bus over to Hollywood to see what kind of anti-Bush fun is going on tonight. If you're in LA, join me and at least a few thousand others at the corner of Hollywood and Highland. [http://worldcantwait.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=578&Itemid=208|Read more about the event] at WorldCantWait.net. Not in LA? [http://worldcantwait.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=578&Itemid=208|Find out if there are protests in your area!]

Or just sit at home and boo and his the TV screen. :)

Which ever works for you.

Just be sure to come back here for video and audio from the event. I'll be at the protest with my minicam in hand--YESSS!

AOL POLL GIVES BUSH A FAILING GRADE

Friend of ThePete's Morgan emailed me the below screengrab from AOL earlier today. Now if AOL had only asked the question "Should Bush be impeached?"



Crazy--Bush isn't even a "C" student anymore--he's flunking out!!

Ballpoint Adventures 1/31/6 pt 6 of 10

I ended up coming up with ten different jokes for the art in today's Ballpoint Adventures strip. Bush giving a State of the Empire speech is just too easy a target... Have a gander at #6:

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006!


Make sure to check out other comics at ThePete.Com by going here:

http://thepete.com/tag/thefunnies/

Please stop back in an hour for another version of the above strip. THANKS!

The 5 Minute Show Episode 5!

I meant to post this on Sunday but I was still crazy busy with my site's traffic/bandwidth problems. Those problems seem to be fixed, so here is the episode of The 5 Minute Show that I should have posted yesterday. But first, a little intro...

Three years ago, tomorrow, the Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. I used to be tremendously into the space program and flight, in general. So, when this happened, I was very upset and felt I had to do an episode of t5MS that would depart from the format of the show and pay tribute to these people who gave their lives so that humanity could expand outward--if even just a little bit.

Released the day after the Shuttle Columbia disaster, the February 2, 2003 episode of the 5 Minute Show was titled "Departure".



It's a 13MB mp4. Depressing, but, I think, important.

Ballpoint Adventures 1/31/6 pt 5 of 10

I ended up coming up with ten different jokes for the art in today's Ballpoint Adventures strip. Bush giving a State of the Empire speech is just too easy a target... Have a gander at #5:

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006!


Make sure to check out other comics at ThePete.Com by going here:

http://thepete.com/tag/thefunnies/

Please stop back in an hour for another version of the above strip. THANKS!

Ballpoint Adventures 1/31/6 pt 4 of 10

I ended up coming up with ten different jokes for the art in today's Ballpoint Adventures strip. Bush giving a State of the Empire speech is just too easy a target... Have a gander at #4:

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006!


Make sure to check out other comics at ThePete.Com by going here:

http://thepete.com/tag/thefunnies/

Please stop back in an hour for another version of the above strip. THANKS!

NTP Vs. RIM: THE BLACKBERRY WARS

Just found [http://www.globetechnology.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060128.wxcover0128/BNStory/Technology/|this really informative article] off of [http://www.engadget.com/2006/01/29/behind-the-scenes-in-the-rim-ntp-patent-war/|a post] at Engadget.com--it's the entire backstory regarding NTP's patent lawsuit against RIM, the makers of the uber-successful BlackBerry handheld emailing device.

After reading it, I've got to side with NTP. They may be patent trolls, but the law is the law. RIM should have done better research before going forward with their technology and they also should have just settled with NTP early on rather than dragging it out just because they say they didn't do anything wrong. Patent law is about who came up with the idea first--sometimes the copycat didn't steal it, he was just late--but that's the way it goes. RIM was so against giving NTP a couple million to go away that they resorted to using American politicians and 911 as an excuse to keep NTP from winning their case.

Sound extreme? Here's a quote from the article:
RIM and its defenders in Congress played their trump card — invoking the spectre of another major terrorist attack in Washington. Several lawmakers, impressed that their own BlackBerrys had not failed on Sept. 11, 2001, while cellphones everywhere went dead, warned in hearings that shutting off the devices threatened national security.


See, this is another great example of humans failing to see the forest for the trees. RIM argued that the courts couldn't shut down the BlackBerry service because so much relied on it. What that argument misses is that RIM could avoid the shutdown by just paying up. The admittedly old, dusty patents NTP owns have been, essentially, validated in previous court cases. If RIM would just settle, everyone could move on with their lives. Because they fought--they could be eventually forced to pay NTP hundreds of millions.

Principles are great, but use them to change the law and save your company's life in the meantime. Life isn't fair, but the guy who founded NTP has died of cancer as a financially poor guy (especially compared to RIM), while RIM is immensely successful. The argument of life being unfair could be used against both parties.

For me, though--I always side with the poor folks.

Ballpoint Adventures 1/31/6 pt 3 of 10

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006 by ThePete

I ended up coming up with ten different jokes for the art in today's Ballpoint Adventures strip. Bush giving a State of the Empire speech is just too easy a target... Have a gander at #3:

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006!


Make sure to check out other comics at ThePete.Com by going here:

http://thepete.com/tag/thefunnies/

Please stop back in an hour for another version of the above strip. THANKS!

Ballpoint Adventures 1/31/6 pt 2 of 10

I ended up coming up with ten different jokes for the art in today's Ballpoint Adventures strip. Bush giving a State of the Empire speech is just too easy a target... Have a gander at #2:

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006!


Make sure to check out other comics at ThePete.Com by going here:

http://thepete.com/tag/thefunnies/

Please stop back in an hour for another version of the above strip. THANKS!

Ballpoint Adventures 1/31/6 pt 1 of 10

I ended up coming up with ten different jokes for the art in today's Ballpoint Adventures strip. Bush giving a State of the Empire speech is just too easy a target... Have a gander at #1:

Ballpoint Adventures for January 31, 2006!


Make sure to check out other comics at ThePete.Com by going here:

http://thepete.com/tag/thefunnies/

Please stop back in an hour for another version of the above strip. THANKS!

US MILITARY PROVIDES FODDER FOR SCI-TECH THRILLER

Man, the United States Government and her military are a couple of paranoid groups of people.

Last Friday I stumbled across [http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0127-04.htm|an article] at CommonDreams.Org (who else would cover this kind of story in the US?) that talked about the US military's plan for dealing with the Internets. This is some seriously stunning stuff that reminds me of a novel or two I've already written (damn, me and my inability to get those novels published sooner! But I digress). Here are some quotes from said article that will hopefully raise your eyebrow as high as they did mine:
A newly declassified document gives a fascinating glimpse into the US military's plans for "information operations" - from psychological operations, to attacks on hostile computer networks.

Bloggers beware.

As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer.

From influencing public opinion through new media to designing "computer network attack" weapons, the US military is learning to fight an electronic war.

The declassified document is called "Information Operations Roadmap". It was obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University using the Freedom of Information Act.

Officials in the Pentagon wrote it in 2003. The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, signed it.


Yehaw! I love it when these things are signed by Rummy. That usually means they're at least somewhat incriminating (not that this means anything in today's America). Here's some more:
Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military's psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.

"Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience," it reads.

"Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public," it goes on.

The document's authors acknowledge that American news media should not unwittingly broadcast military propaganda. "Specific boundaries should be established," they write. But they don't seem to explain how.

"In this day and age it is impossible to prevent stories that are fed abroad as part of psychological operations propaganda from blowing back into the United States - even though they were directed abroad," says Kristin Adair of the National Security Archive.


Nice--propaganda blowback so we have no idea if the stories we read and hear in the news here in the US are just BS created by the USG.

One of my best friends on the planet makes a joke whenever anyone he knows visits another country. He asks "have we bombed them yet?"

Well, I'm thinking about using a similar phrase. How does this sound: "Has the USG lied to them yet?"

I mean, is there anyone left on the planet that the USG hasn't lied?

Our government sure seems like the least honest government on the planet or at the very least is the least honest now than any America I've lived through.

Hang on, though--there's more from this article you should know about:
The roadmap, however, gives a flavour of what the US military is up to - and the grand scale on which it's thinking.

It reveals that Psyops personnel "support" the American government's international broadcasting. It singles out TV Marti - a station which broadcasts to Cuba - as receiving such support.

It recommends that a global website be established that supports America's strategic objectives. But no American diplomats here, thank you. The website would use content from "third parties with greater credibility to foreign audiences than US officials".

It also recommends that Psyops personnel should consider a range of technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned aerial vehicles, "miniaturized, scatterable public address systems", wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.


This is all for real, by the way. You can check out [http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB177/index.htm|the document] for yourself at http://gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/ --yep, it's just out there for anyone to see--but wait! There's more:
It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system.

"Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will 'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system," it reads.

The slogan "fight the net" appears several times throughout the roadmap.

The authors warn that US networks are very vulnerable to attack by hackers, enemies seeking to disable them, or spies looking for intelligence.

"Networks are growing faster than we can defend them... Attack sophistication is increasing... Number of events is increasing."

...

the document recommends that the United States should seek the ability to "provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum".

US forces should be able to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum".

Consider that for a moment.

The US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone, every networked computer, every radar system on the planet.


Remember, this shit was signed by Rumsfeld. They want to have ultimate control over every piece of technology that can communicate with another piece of technology. Talk about big government...

Like I said in the headline--serious fodder for a sci-tech thriller. Hm, someone should write one of those ;) or six.

From http://News.BBC.co.uk and CommonDreams.Org:
Published on Friday, January 27, 2006 by BBC

US Plans to 'Fight the Net' Revealed

by Adam Brookes

WASHINGTON - A newly declassified document gives a fascinating glimpse into the US military's plans for "information operations" - from psychological operations, to attacks on hostile computer networks.

Bloggers beware.

As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer.

From influencing public opinion through new media to designing "computer network attack" weapons, the US military is learning to fight an electronic war.

The declassified document is called "Information Operations Roadmap". It was obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University using the Freedom of Information Act.

Officials in the Pentagon wrote it in 2003. The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, signed it.

The "roadmap" calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the military's ability to conduct information operations and electronic warfare. And, in some detail, it makes recommendations for how the US armed forces should think about this new, virtual warfare.

The document says that information is "critical to military success". Computer and telecommunications networks are of vital operational importance.

Propaganda

The operations described in the document include a surprising range of military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.

All these are engaged in information operations.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military's psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.

"Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience," it reads.

"Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public," it goes on.

The document's authors acknowledge that American news media should not unwittingly broadcast military propaganda. "Specific boundaries should be established," they write. But they don't seem to explain how.

"In this day and age it is impossible to prevent stories that are fed abroad as part of psychological operations propaganda from blowing back into the United States - even though they were directed abroad," says Kristin Adair of the National Security Archive.

Credibility problem

Public awareness of the US military's information operations is low, but it's growing - thanks to some operational clumsiness.

Late last year, it emerged that the Pentagon had paid a private company, the Lincoln Group, to plant hundreds of stories in Iraqi newspapers. The stories - all supportive of US policy - were written by military personnel and then placed in Iraqi publications.

And websites that appeared to be information sites on the politics of Africa and the Balkans were found to be run by the Pentagon.

But the true extent of the Pentagon's information operations, how they work, who they're aimed at, and at what point they turn from informing the public to influencing populations, is far from clear.

The roadmap, however, gives a flavour of what the US military is up to - and the grand scale on which it's thinking.

It reveals that Psyops personnel "support" the American government's international broadcasting. It singles out TV Marti - a station which broadcasts to Cuba - as receiving such support.

It recommends that a global website be established that supports America's strategic objectives. But no American diplomats here, thank you. The website would use content from "third parties with greater credibility to foreign audiences than US officials".

It also recommends that Psyops personnel should consider a range of technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned aerial vehicles, "miniaturized, scatterable public address systems", wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.

'Fight the net'

When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document takes on an extraordinary tone.

It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system.

"Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will 'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system," it reads.

The slogan "fight the net" appears several times throughout the roadmap.

The authors warn that US networks are very vulnerable to attack by hackers, enemies seeking to disable them, or spies looking for intelligence.

"Networks are growing faster than we can defend them... Attack sophistication is increasing... Number of events is increasing."

US digital ambition

And, in a grand finale, the document recommends that the United States should seek the ability to "provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum".

US forces should be able to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum".

Consider that for a moment.

The US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone, every networked computer, every radar system on the planet.

Are these plans the pipe dreams of self-aggrandising bureaucrats? Or are they real?

The fact that the "Information Operations Roadmap" is approved by the Secretary of Defense suggests that these plans are taken very seriously indeed in the Pentagon.

And that the scale and grandeur of the digital revolution is matched only by the US military's ambitions for it.

© BBC MMVI

Monday, January 30, 2006

Good News and Less Good News Re: ThePete.Com

The good news? Jesus loves me.

or so I'm told...

The less good news? It turns out that all of that extra traffic was just comment spammers taking advantage of the fact that WordPress 2.0 has exactly jack and shit for combatting spam. Sure--it comes with the Akismet spam plugin, but all that does is stop spam from ending up on your blog--the spammers still access your site and your system files.

I had a look at my server logs and checked out the graph of my bandwidth usage for January and noticed that it spiked right around January 15th. Turns out it was just two days before when I started setting up WordPress 2.0 on my server.

COINCIDENCE?

Read the book!

So, it wasn't a doubling of my traffic, though I am happy with my current level of visitors, it was just WP 2.0 being the car sold with no windshield. Sure, it'll get you there, but you'll have loads of bugs in your teeth.

Is there a solution? I sure hope so.

At first I thought I'd add a capcha. A capcha are those little graphicky things that display text inside an image so 'bots can't read them but you can. You just enter the text you see and BAMMO you can comment. I had used Trencaspammers on my old install of WP, but it doesn't seem to work on WP 2.0, or, at the very least, my install of WP 2.0. So, I tried some other capchas. Most required I install some sort of graphics generating app on my server. I decided that was too complicated for my puny human-brain-sized-brain and kept looking.

I found this great plugin called [http://www.boriel.com/?page_id=17|CapCha!] which I really hoped would work for me just because it's name sounds like a word in Klingon :D Alas, despite the fact that it seems to work for a great many WP webmasters, it did not for me.

Finally, I found a plugin called [http://dev.wp-plugins.org/file/wp-morph/trunk/wp-morph.php|WP-Morph] that doesn't even use capchas but claims to create a bit of JS code that will mess with the 'bots and stop them from being able to spam. The instructions were so simple (just upload the plugin and activate) I figured why not give it a try. So I did and it seems to be working (knock on George W.'s cranium).

I'll be watching my bandwidth graph for the next few days to make sure it continues to work. Let's hope it does--I can't afford to pay for that kind of bandwidth explosion every month. Hell, I can't afford to pay it THIS month... (don't forget to [http://thepete.com/donate.html|take a moment to help out!] Thanks!)

So, the good news is that I think I've figured out the problem and my web host is letting me pay them for the bandwidth overage over the next 7 months.

The less that good news is, I really don't think Jesus loves me.

OH, WELL! AT LEAST THE SITE ISN'T GOING TO BE SHUT DOWN!



Oh yeah and more Otis and Ballpoint strips along with more FutureBlog posts will return later this week along with a vlog entry or three. Thanks for your patience!!

UN ADMITS COUNTRIES SCREWING UP WORLD

Wow, just read [http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/article341967.ece|an article] from http://News.Independent.co.uk that reports on a plan by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) that, if implemented, could force the world's governments to admit that they are the reason the world is so screwed up right now. The article is pretty poorly written because it doesn't directly connect the dots in anyway that makes sense to me, but the gist can still be grasped from it.

Said gist appears to be that a tiny fraction of the aid needed by poverty-stricken countries actually gets to them and that globalization is the culprit. Corporations seem to be getting all the money while the poor folks get none and the UN believes that things have to change to curb the dying of millions every year. At least, that's what I got from the article.

The UN plan, which could take years or even decades to put into motion would essentially force countries to plan ahead for catastrophes like the 2004 tsunami or Katrina.

Here are a few clips from the article that I can make the most sense from:
Inge Kaul, a special adviser at the UNDP, said: "The way we run our economies today is vastly expensive and inefficient because we don't manage risk well and we don't prevent crises." She downplayed concerns over up-front costs and interest payments for the new-fangled financial devices. "The gains in terms of development would outweigh those costs. Money is wasted because we dribble aid, and the costs of not solving the problems are much, much higher than what we would have to pay for getting the financial markets to lend the money."

The UNDP is determined to ensure globalisation, which has generated vast wealth for multinational companies, benefits the poorest in society.

...

Professor Stiglitz, the former chief economist of the World Bank and a staunch critic of the way globalisation harms the poor, said: "Globalisation has meant the closer integration of countries, and that in turn has meant a greater need for collective action.

"One of the most important areas of failure is the environment. Without government intervention, firms and households have no incentive to limit their pollution." He said a global public finance system would force countries to acknowledge the external damage their policies had, "the most important being global climate change".

...

But, the proposal is unlikely to get support from some green groups who believe that action to curb consumption, rather than market incentives, are the way to reduce carbon emissions.

Andrew Simms, director of the New Economics Foundation, said it left unanswered questions over how these markets would be managed and how the benefits and costs would be distributed. "We have nothing against markets so it would be missing the point to get into a pro- or anti-market stance. The point is how you distribute the benefits."

He said the Nineties, the zenith decade for globalisation, had seen just 60 cents out of every $100 worth of growth reach the poorest in society, compared with the $2.20 in the Eighties.

He said a pollution trading regime had the potential to deliver "enormous" benefits to poor countries, but said the UN report failed to show a detailed plan.


There's more to the article, but I think that last paragraph says it all--perhaps it's not the article that I find fault with but the plan, itself. However, you get the idea of what the UN is trying to do here.

On the surface this seems like a great idea. However, if you take into consideration human greed and those same governments the plan is critical about, the possibility for abuse of this plan or even the outright ease at which it would be to sabotage the plan, you'll see that it's ultimately not a good idea.

Sure, forcing governments to be fiscally responsible as well as humanitarily responsible (aka making them do their jobs) is a great idea in theory. The thing is that if this plan were to be put into motion, it would effectively function as a world government--telling countries what to do and how to do it. Even with safeguards and checks and balances put into place, there is no guarantee (as we have seen here in the US) that those safeguards and checks and balances wouldn't be ignored entirely and the powers of such a world government abused by greedy, power-hungry men (again, as we have seen here in the US).

Of course, the "system" that is already in place keeps the powers that be around the world happy, so this UN plan has about a donut's chance of not being eaten at Oprah's house of actually being implemented, let alone succeeding, so I suppose I shouldn't be worried. If it was implemented you know it's because corporations and governments have already started planning to take advantage of the idea of an golbally-powerful ruling body.

What is my solution? Decentralized government--break existing governments into smaller, US-state-sized "mini-countries" whose smaller populations would be easier to support efficiently. These mini-states would then work together to make sure everyone gets what they need--not what they want--no more greed in ThePete World. Though I know it would still exist. The key would be in making the mini-governments capable of doing very little without the consensus of multiple leaders--like 10 or 15 taking up the role of what would have been a president or prime minister. This way, there would be no single George W. Bush king who could make sweeping changes.

The Founding Fathers designed the US Federal Government so that little could be done quickly and huge drastic changes would take even longer. Alas, this system has broken down thanks to the party system and the belief of the executive branch that it is more powerful than it is.

Never give one person the power to control so much and he could push for more power for years and he'd still never be as powerful as Bush has become.

ThePete.Com Too Popular? Seems that Way!

Hey there, folks. Well, it looks like ThePete.Com will be shut down tomorrow because the bandwidth usage for this month is too high. Seems my traffic limit is 30GB and my actual traffic this month is just short of 60GB.

I'm trying to find out exactly how much I need to pay to keep the site going, but my host has been unusually slow in responding to me over the past few days since I had my database meltdown last Friday. So, keep your fingers crossed for me and the site and feel free to [http://thepete.com/donate.html|help out] if you don't mind. Don't worry, it doesn't have to cost you anything [http://thepete.com/donate.html|to help] pay for this site.

So, if you don't see ThePete.Com on January 31, don't worry, it'll be back as soon as I can get some money to my host.

Man, popularity comes with a price, huh?

BUSH & BLAIR BUTT-BUDDIES ON IRAQ

And guess who just might get it in the end...

Just stumbled across [http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=375453&in_page_id=1770&ct=5|this January 29, 2006 article] from http://MailOnSunday.co.uk via CommonDreams.org that reports on a new edition of the book Lawless World who's author, Philippe Sands QC, Professor of Law at London University, Mail On Sunday call a leading British human rights lawyer. I'll just have to take their word for it. Anyway, so the dude was leaked to on a meeting that Bush and Blair had together before the Iraq Attack. Here's a clip from the above linked article:
The most damaging new revelation concerns the meeting between Mr Blair and Mr Bush at the White House on January 31, 2003, during which Mr Blair urged the President to seek a second UN resolution giving specific backing for the war.

The Mail on Sunday has established that the meeting was attended only by Mr Blair, his Downing Street foreign policy adviser Sir David Manning, Mr Bush and the President's then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, plus an official note-taker.

The top-secret record of the meeting was circulated to a tiny handful of senior figures in the two administrations.

Immediately afterwards, the two leaders gave a Press conference in which a nervous-looking Mr Blair claimed the meeting had been a success. Mr Bush gave qualified support for going down the UN route. But observers noted the awkward body language between the two men. Sands' book explains why. Far from giving a genuine endorsement to Mr Blair's attempt to gain full UN approval, Mr Bush was only going through the motions. And Mr Blair not only knew it, but went along with it.

The description of the January 31 meeting echoes the recent memoirs of Britain's former ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer.

Meyer, who was excluded from the private session between Blair and Bush, claimed the summit marked the culmination of the Prime Minister's failure to use his influence to hold back Mr Bush.

Equally significantly, Meyer was puzzled by Blair's behaviour when the two leaders emerged to join other aides. Meyer writes: "We were all milling around in the State dining room as Bush and Blair put the final touches to what they were going to say to the media.

"Bush had a notepad on which he had written a form of words on the second resolution...He read it out...There was silence. I waited for Blair to say he needed something as supportive as possible. He said nothing. I waited for somebody on the No 10 team to say something. Nothing was said. I cursed myself afterwards for not piping up.

"At the Press conference, Bush gave only a perfunctory and lukewarm support for a second resolution. It was neither his nor Blair's finest performance."

In view of Sands' disclosures, Blair had every reason to look awkward: he knew that despite his public talk of getting UN support, privately he had just committed himself to going to war no matter what the UN did.


Damn... what more evidence needs to pile up before Republicans in DC do their job and impeach this son of a bitch in the White House. We know Bush lied. Between this and the [http://thepete.com/the-official-dsm-link-round-up-page/|Downing Street Minutes/Memo] we've got the goods on Bush actually lying in the literal definition.

If impeachment doesn't happen in the US, I hope history looks back on this time as a period of immense irresponsibility on the part of American (world) leaders. I hope history views this era as one of sheer ignorance and corruption. No one wants to do their job and nail Bush for breaking laws, let alone the simple betrayal of the public trust that is needed for impeachment trials to begin.

History will compare 2006 to a time period nearly ten years earlier when a president who had kept the US out of war, ushered in a time of American prosperity, and built up tremendous support among the citizenry would be impeached for lying under oath about oral sex with an intern.

History will judge the Republicans in power poorly and the Democrats out of power poorly as well for not simply putting their foot down.

I wish a threat of history's lack of approval could have more power over the powers that be. Along these lines I am reminded of the age old tradition of history being written by the winners.

From http://MailOnSunday.co.uk and CommonDreams.Org:
Published on Sunday, January 29, 2006 by The Mail on Sunday (London)

Blair in Secret Plot with Bush to Dupe U.N.

by Simon Walters


A White House leak revealing astonishing details of how Tony Blair and George Bush lied about the Iraq war is set to cause a worldwide political storm.

A new book exposes how the two men connived to dupe the United Nations and blows the lid off Mr Blair's claim that he was a restraining influence on Mr Bush.

He offered his total support for the war at a secret White House summit as Mr Bush displayed his contempt for the UN, made a series of wild threats against Saddam Hussein and showed a devastating ignorance about the catastrophic aftermath of the war.

Based on access to information at the highest level, the book by leading British human rights lawyer Philippe Sands QC, Professor of Law at London University, demonstrates how the two men decided to go to war regardless of whether they obtained UN backing.

The revelations make a nonsense of Mr Blair's claim that the final decision was not made until MPs voted in the Commons 24 hours before the war - and could revive the risk of him being charged with war crimes or impeached by Parliament itself.

The book also makes serious allegations concerning the conduct of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer and Attorney General Lord Goldsmith over Goldsmith's legal advice on the war.

And it alleges the British Government boasted that disgraced newspaper tycoon Conrad Black was being used by Mr Bush's allies in America as a channel for pro-war propaganda in the UK via his Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The leaks are contained in a new version of Sands' book Lawless World, first published last year, when it emerged that Lord Goldsmith had told Mr Blair the war could be unlawful - before a lastminute U-turn.

The new edition, to be published by Penguin on Thursday, is likely to cause a fierce new controversy on both sides of the Atlantic.

It follows recent charges against two British men under the Official Secrets Act after a transcript of another conversation between Mr Bush and Blair, in which the President raised the possibility of bombing the Al Jazeera Arab TV station, was leaked by a Whitehall official.

Both governments will be horrified that the stream of leaks revealing the grim truth about the war is turning into a flood. The most damaging new revelation concerns the meeting between Mr Blair and Mr Bush at the White House on January 31, 2003, during which Mr Blair urged the President to seek a second UN resolution giving specific backing for the war.

The Mail on Sunday has established that the meeting was attended only by Mr Blair, his Downing Street foreign policy adviser Sir David Manning, Mr Bush and the President's then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, plus an official note-taker.

The top-secret record of the meeting was circulated to a tiny handful of senior figures in the two administrations.

Immediately afterwards, the two leaders gave a Press conference in which a nervous-looking Mr Blair claimed the meeting had been a success. Mr Bush gave qualified support for going down the UN route. But observers noted the awkward body language between the two men. Sands' book explains why. Far from giving a genuine endorsement to Mr Blair's attempt to gain full UN approval, Mr Bush was only going through the motions. And Mr Blair not only knew it, but went along with it.

The description of the January 31 meeting echoes the recent memoirs of Britain's former ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer.

Meyer, who was excluded from the private session between Blair and Bush, claimed the summit marked the culmination of the Prime Minister's failure to use his influence to hold back Mr Bush.

Equally significantly, Meyer was puzzled by Blair's behaviour when the two leaders emerged to join other aides. Meyer writes: "We were all milling around in the State dining room as Bush and Blair put the final touches to what they were going to say to the media.

"Bush had a notepad on which he had written a form of words on the second resolution...He read it out...There was silence. I waited for Blair to say he needed something as supportive as possible. He said nothing. I waited for somebody on the No 10 team to say something. Nothing was said. I cursed myself afterwards for not piping up.

"At the Press conference, Bush gave only a perfunctory and lukewarm support for a second resolution. It was neither his nor Blair's finest performance."

In view of Sands' disclosures, Blair had every reason to look awkward: he knew that despite his public talk of getting UN support, privately he had just committed himself to going to war no matter what the UN did.

When, in due course, the UN refused to back the war, Mr Blair seized on the fact that French President Jacques Chirac said he would not support any pro-war resolution, claiming that the French veto was so 'unreasonable' that a UN vote was pointless. In reality, Bush and Blair had decided to go to war before Chirac uttered a word.

The disclosures will be seized on by anti-war critics in Britain, including Left-wing MPs who say Mr Blair should be impeached for his handling of the war.

However, Ministers will argue that after three major British inquiries into the war, and with thousands of British troops due to be sent home from Iraq this year, it is time to move on.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said last night: "These matters have been thoroughly investigated and we stand by our position."

Copyright © 2006 Associated Newspapers Ltd

BUSH PRETENDS THREAT ON OVERSPENDING

A screencap from [http://reuters.myway.com/article/20060126/2006-01-26T161758Z_01_WAT004729_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-BUSH-BUDGET-DC.html|a January 26, 2006 article] from Reuters.Com at MyWay.Com:


click it to make it larger


What a laugh--if there is anyone who should NOT be trusted with curbing "overspending" it is definitely Bush. The guy would wage war on his nextdoor neighbor for not watering his own lawn regularly. I mean, come on--Bush says the Iraq Attack with go smoothly and cost billions of dollars--instead, it goes just as the naysayers predicted and costs hundereds of billions of dollars.

Who's going to veto him?

The Republican Congress?

BUSH'S AMERICA: TAKE MY LIBERTY AND GIVE ME LIFE

Here's a quote for you:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


That little ditty comes to us from the Fourth Amendment of [http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.billofrights.html|the Bill of Rights]. The Bill of Rights is part of the US Constitution and it is a written record of the rights we Americans believe all humans have. Here's another quote for you:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.


That was from [http://www.law.indiana.edu/uslawdocs/declaration.html|the Declaration of Independence]. That quote above reminds us that ALL men are created equal and that only the Creator (not the Christian God, but whomever we believe to be the source of humanity's creation) gives us these rights.

Yet, Bush has taken away our rights.

He has subject an unknown number of American citizens to wiretaps that would violate the Fourth Amendment. What's worse is that he has resorted to doublespeak--a term which refers to George Orwell's novel 1984 in which the government openly contradicts itself. Here's another quote for you, this one from [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/26/AR2006012600959.html|a January 26, 2006 article] from AP.org and WashingtonPost.com:
President Bush again defended his program of warrantless surveillance Thursday, saying "there's no doubt in my mind it is legal." He suggested that he might resist congressional efforts to change or expressly endorse it.

"The program's legal, it's designed to protect civil liberties, and it's necessary," Bush told a White House news conference.


This is blatant double speak.

How can a program that violates our civil liberties (our Creator-given rights) be designed to protect them?

Ultimately, the argument the Bush Administration is using is that our rights are being violated to protect our lives.

Back in 1775 one of the founding fathers of America uttered a phrase that would echo down through history classes for the two hundred years that would follow. Patrick Henry said, 230 years ago: "[http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/henry.html|...give me liberty or give me death!]"

He said this trying to rally the American colonies to choose to rise up against the British. He was encouraging war because his rights and the rights of everyone else in the colonies were being ignored by Britain. His point was that he would rather die than live another day without his rights.

I feel the same way.

Mr. Bush, if you are unable to protect my life without violating my rights, then let me lose my life.

Living without freedom is not living.

Any true American should agree with me on this.

Of course I don't want to die.

The thing is, I don't want to live in a country that doesn't let me do what I want, say what I want, talk to whom I want, and so on.

Believe it or not, there is no crime in having a phone conversation with Osama bin Laden. There is no law on the books that says having a phone conversation with a murderer or international terrorist is illegal.

Yet, the Bush Administration tells us it is their right to listen to such conversations.

The catch is that (and this is just a guess) 99.99999999999% of us have absolutely no contact what so ever with Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. So, why the warrantless wiretaps? Why skip past the FISA courts?

Why go against the spirit (not to mention the word) of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and, at least, one of the Founding Fathers?

From WashingtonPost.com and AP.org:

Bush Calls Warrantless Wiretaps Legal

By TERENCE HUNT
The Associated Press
Friday, January 27, 2006; 1:13 AM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush again defended his program of warrantless surveillance Thursday, saying "there's no doubt in my mind it is legal." He suggested that he might resist congressional efforts to change or expressly endorse it.

"The program's legal, it's designed to protect civil liberties, and it's necessary," Bush told a White House news conference.

Democrats have accused the president of breaking the law in allowing eavesdropping on overseas communications to and from U.S. residents, and even some members of his own party have questioned the practice.

It was the president's first full-scale news conference of the new year, and the 10th since he was re-elected in 2004. He previewed his upcoming State of the Union address and fielded questions on former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the stunning victory of the radical group Hamas in Palestinian elections and the administration's cooperation with Congress on its investigation of Hurricane Katrina.

Asked if he would support efforts in Congress to spell out his authority to continue the eavesdropping program, Bush cited what he said was the extreme delicacy of the operation.

"But it's important for people to understand that this program is so sensitive and so important that if information gets out to how we run it or how we operate it, it'll help the enemy," he said. "Why tell the enemy what we're doing?"

"We'll listen to ideas. But I want to make sure that people understand that if the attempt to write law makes this program -- is likely to expose the nature of the program, I'll resist it," he said.

On the Middle East, Bush expressed concern that Palestinian elections had given a majority to the radical party Hamas, which has called for the elimination of Israel, although he noted that democratic elections sometimes produce unwelcome results.

He made it clear that any organization that has an armed wing and which advocates violence against Israel "is a party with which we will not deal."

Bush called the election results a "wake-up call" to the old guard Palestinian leadership, many of whom are holdovers from the days of the late PLO ChairmanYasser Arafat.

Questioned about a controversy swirling about disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Bush said he would cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating Abramoff and his alleged influence peddling activities, if necessary. Otherwise, the president said he saw no reason to release pictures that he acknowledged were taken of him and Abramoff.

"There is a serious investigation going on by federal prosecutors _ that's their job," the president said. "If they believe something was done inappropriately in the White House, they'll come and look and they're welcome to do so."

Otherwise, Bush said, "I've had my picture taken with a lot of people. Having my picture taken with someone doesn't mean that I'm a friend with him or know him very well. "

"I've had my picture taken with you," Bush said to the reporter who asked the question.

Pressed further on his relationship with Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his lobbying practices and has pledged to cooperate with investigators, Bush said, "I frankly don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don't know him."

He said that federal investigators should pursue all leads and "look into all aspects of his influence on Capitol Hill," and that if the path also leads to the White House, he was sure they would "come knock on the door."

He was asked if he meets with lobbyists. "I try not to," Bush replied.

Asked about assertions by some Democrats that they will take back control of Congress in this year's midterm elections, Bush said he wasn't surprised they were talking that way, but shrugged it off.

He said he was ready to hit the campaign trail one more time, not for himself, but to stump for Republican congressional candidates this year. "We've got a record and a good one, and that's what I intend to campaign on," Bush said.

The president defended his administration's level of cooperation with congressional investigations into the government's slow response to the Hurricane Katrina devastation, citing the thousands of documents the White House has provided.

Questioned on congressional complaints that more could be done, Bush said that it would have a "chilling effect" on the ability of presidential advisers to speak freely.

Bush also said that his nominee for Supreme Court, Samuel Alito, deserves to be confirmed in the Senate, where he clearly has the votes but where minority-party Democrats were speaking out against him at length.

"The Senate needs to give him an up or down vote as soon as possible," Bush said in opening remarks that also previewed the themes of his State of the Union address next Tuesday.

Bush shrugged off a recent Pentagon-contracted report which concluded the Army was overextended and the United States cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency there.

The president predicted victory in Iraq and said, "Our commanders will have the troops necessary to do that."

He said the military was focused on transforming itself to ensure the armed forces could meet its goals in the 21st century.

"After five years of war, there is a need to make sure that our troops are balanced properly, that threats are met with capability. And that's why we're transforming our military," Bush said.
© 2006 The Associated Press

Sunday, January 29, 2006

GOOGLE'S DOING SOME EVIL, ME THINKS

Here's a screencap from News.Google.Com on January 26, 2006:



Specifically, the story, in case you haven't heard, is that Google is censoring web searches done on their Chinese language website in accordance with Chinese law. The catch? According to their motto "do no evil" they are helping a government infringe upon its citizens basic human rights according to the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, two documents generally accepted as establishing and protecting the Creator-given rights of all humans everywhere.

I guess in a world where the guy in the White House is breaking with those same documents Google can roll with this new definition of "evil" that is defined excluding the violation of human rights.

"Doing no evil" is easy if you redefine evil, after all.

KIDNEY PROBLEMS? TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR AGAIN FAST!

If you're suffering from kidney problems and are being treated for them, you might want to have a look at the screencap from [http://www.news-medical.net/?id=15642|a January 26, 2006 article] at News-Medical.net below and then call your doctor fast:



Isn't that nice? Gives you even less faith in the United States Government than you already had, doesn't it?

ALITO EVEN MORE ELITO WITH DEMS SELLING OUT

A screencap from News.Google.Com on January 26, 2006:



So much for Republican accusations that Democrats always play partisan politics. Perhaps they'd like to reconsider investigations into the Ohio vote of 2004? ;)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

OPRAH CONFRONTS THE LIES

No, it's not Oprah Vs. Dubya... check out this screencap taken from News.Google.com just moments ago:



WOW!! AN AUTHOR LIED IN A BOOK! MY GOD, THE HORROR!!!

And look at Oprah in her smart-but-feminine suit-jacket and white collared shirt. She looks so serious!

So she calls this loser out on her show and basically calls him a liar to his face and he fesses up.

WOW! OPRAH SAVES THE EARTH!

Forget Godzilla, forget Superman...

OPRAH'S MY NEW HERO!!

Oprah is a TRUE AMERICAN HERO!!

COME ON, BUSH! GIVE HER THE MEDAL OF FREEDOM! (Or whatever it is you gave Aretha Franklin for her bloody insignificant contributions to American society.

Really, America. Are the lies of an Oprah bookclub author the only lies you're mature enough to confront.

Yeah, yeah, America's still the best country on the planet...

But what does that say about the rest of the Earth?

Friday, January 27, 2006

FutureBlog for January 27, 2106

27 January 2106 by Pete III

"Once again, if that wasn't a cloaking field how were you invisible to us just now?"

"It's, uh, t-trade secret, but I'll tell you!" I think my voice cracked. Yes, I must be coming across as a bit cowardly, but Sharon 360s have the ability to tear one's head off at a range of three meters. I have not had such a close view of one before that night, either. "It's called Reflective Light Shielding. Or ReLiS. Big 'R' little 'e' big 'L' little 'i' big 'S'."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah--how's it work, short-eyes?"

Yes, these men--or at least this one--were definitely from New Columbia. Only brutes like these refer to tech-jockeys like Ken as 'short-eyes'. Bleeding barbarians...

"It's an EM field that is projected by emitters in the ceiling to block visible light from reflecting off of the objects in a room. I'm an inventor, you see." I tried to smile.

"An inventor? This is supposed to be a government agent's safehouse."

I laughed. "Not a very safe house if someone like yourself is aware of it."

Condo pushed his weapon harder against my jaw. "I'm sure, it's just the wrong address. Should you try next door, perhaps?"

"Sir, I just picked something in the room to the left." It was Collins talking.

"Right--what was that? Who's in there, short-eyes?"

"Em..." I had to think fast. "My... robot."

"Is he armed?"

"NO!" I realized I reacted to dramatically for having a gun to my jaw. "I mean, I'm sorry... no--it's not armed."

"Oh yeah? We'll do a scan on it. Get it out here."

I looked at Condo and tried to look stern. "Do you really have to hold that thing so close to me? I know you could cut me in half with it!"

"Tsallright, Condo. He knows he's covered." Allbrecht seemed a reasonable man--be he was definitely from the east coast--only east coasters rolled their T and their S together like that. "Now get your damn 'bot out here."

"Right," I said, looking to the door to Ken's bedroom. "Ken 5000, come here!"

"Why do you keep a robot in a bedroom?" Collins asked.

I didn't answer as the door opened with Ken appearing from behind it. "Hello, Ken 5000. Please show these men that you are not armed."

Ken moved a bit too human-ly into the center of the room to where his coffee table once sat and then held his arms parallel to the floor. In his right hand was a small dev.

"Collins, scan it." Allbrecht said. "Very realistic robot you've got here. Of course it's yellow because you are."

I was right--barbarians. Since when are Asians called 'yellow' anymore?

"Hey," Condo said, "why does your 'bot need a dev?"

"Oh, I--" before I could finish my statement, Ken aimed his dev at Condo. Instantly, a series of convex flaps of Plecksi flipped up, creating a hemispherical reflector and flashed. As Condo fell backwards, Ken aimed the dev at the other two and before I could fully register what had happened they were on their way to the floor as well.

"Banzai! Sugoi!" Ken smiled, looking at his dev. He then looked to me "Ken 5000, Pito?"

"What? It was all I could come up with," I said as he shook his head and then looked to his dev again.

"Sugoi," he said, confidently. That word means 'incredible' or something similar.

"Uh, nandeska?" I asked him "what is that" in his native language.

"That was some trick!" Hu said exiting the other bedroom. "I don't remember seeing that feature in the dev commercial!"

"It's not a dev--it's an EMPulser," Ken said pronouncing it 'ehmpulser.'

"EM? You mean 'E-M'? Electro-Magnetic? Is that what I think it sounds like?"

"So des." Over the past few days I've noticed when ever Ken gets excited he speaks Japanese. Luckily, I know a few words so when my dev isn't translating I still know what he means.

"It is? Well, why don't you explain it to me anyway."

"It sends out a pulse of electro-magnetic energy and disrupts any electrical fields. I got the idea from the nuclear weapons countries used to threaten each other with back in the Twenty-First. Seconds before the nuclear missile would hit, it would send out an EM pulse that would shut down all electrical devices."

"Yes, yes..." Hu began, "but Ken-san--by all electrical fields, do you mean your device also disrupts brainwaves?"

"Unfortunately, yes. As you can see, these three are quite out of commission."

"You've fried their nervous systems, Ken!" Hu said moving to the bodies of Collins and Allbrecht.

"They were going to kill us, Hu."

"That doesn't mean you had to kill them does it?"

"Well, I--"

"You what?"

"I hadn't thought of it."

"Surely with all of your wonderful gadgetry you could have developed a non-lethal weapon?"

"I work for the Body Government. The thought hadn't occurred to me, Doctor."

Hu took a deep breath and seemed to suppress a curled upper lip.

"You've got to go lightly on him Ken, he took that oath doctors used to take about doing no harm or some such thing."

"How... unique, Hu. I'm impressed."

"Morals, Ken, are not so unique in our little group, I should hope."

"Just 'Ken'? Am I not honorable to you anymore, Hu-san?"

Hu took another deep breath. That's when I interrupted. "Gentlemen, please--I..."

"You?" Ken asked.

"Think it's time." I paused for dramatic effect adding, "I am sensing my directions to the rendezvous point with Ryca."

Hu stood and joined Ken's stare--both were fascinated by what I had just admitted. The chemcoding was working...

Ballpoint Adventures for January 27, 2006

Ballpoint Adventures for January 27, 2006!

UN BACKS THE $100 LAPTOP

Good news for followers of the $100 laptop being developed for kids in developing nations by Nicholas Negroponte and his team--according to [http://www.engadget.com/2006/01/26/un-to-back-negropontes-100-laptop/|a January 26, 2006 post] at Engadget.com, the UN Development Program has put its support behind the project that promises one laptop per kid in 3rd world countries. Sure, the UN's a mess these days, but this will still be helpful, the Engadget post says, because of the UN's ability to distribute the laptop around the world.

Pretty sweet--I just hope that once they're done giving these things to all these poor kids they'll let us "rich" folks pick 'em up. Hell, I'll pay $200 for one, then Negroponte can take the extra $100 he gets from me and give another kid a free laptop.

BIG PROFITS FOR CHEVRON LITTLE IN WALLETS FOR US

I gave up my car nearly three years ago--so when I filled up the tiny tank on my Honda Elite I only paid $2.70--and that was the premium stuff. The average low-octane gas price here in LA seems to be hovering around $2.50 a gallon, which is still too much, if you ask me. I think it's even more "too much" when you consider the huge profits oil companies like [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/business/3617208.html|Chevron are pulling in] right now.

I find it amazing how the American people don't seem too ticked of about this. The oil guys are getting VERY rich (they already were rich) and now average folks are wondering whether they can pay their cable bill or for another tank of gas. At least, that's what I'm thinking--only in reference to TheWife's CRV, not my Elite. I'm just glad she's got the 4-cylinder so it's going to hog the gas a bit less.

Still, this kind of excessive profit during a time of high gas prices screams of greed and immorality.

But I guess there's no such thing as immorality when we're talking about capitalism.

Capitalism is pure and perfect and we should all bow down and praise it!

PRAISE BE UNTO CAPITALISM!

Sorry, I've just had my morning caffeine and I'm FLYINNNG!

I suppose I should just "hope" that the peak oil folks are right and rest assured that the oil companies will get theirs when the oil runs out. However, I'd rather not think that positively about the end of oil because if the peak oil folks are right, we'll all be getting ours when that happens.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

FutureBlog for January 26, 2106

26 January 2106 by Pete III

As my eyes snapped open I could hear movement on the other side of the couch--footsteps by the door we came in through. I successfully fought the urge to move when I remembered Ken-san's Self-Programming Luminescence. The SPL had scanned the room before it began emitting light that would not reflect off of any objects in the room--including me. To these men, I was invisible.

Yes, there were three of them--as luck would have it, two of them passed on either side of the sofa without so much as brushing against it. As a distinct lack of luck would have it, the third gentleman bumped right up against it.

"What--" I heard him say. He looked right down at me--or through me--at the floor, I suppose. "I can't--"

He looked quite flustered--his face being the only part of him I could see clearly. His clothes were jet-black against the slightly less black walls of Ken's safehouse. He held a Sharone 360 in one hand and a palm light in the other. He panned it around trying to see what was blocking him.

"Condo! Keep up!" one of the other two said.

"I am--" my fellow said, still frustrated. "Something's weird, my light's not working."

"Shut, Condo. Collins, sitrep."

"Two rooms..." another voice said.

"Right--Condo, stay--Collins will check the rooms, I'll cover."

"Allbrecht--this light!"

"Use your Light-amps."

Uh-oh... I did not like the sound of that. If they amplified the light in the room digitally they still couldn't see me, but they could see shadows where objects really are... that's assuming I understood Ken's tech properly.

I grit my teeth as I watched him cover his eyes with nanoskin sensors. I was so close to him I could hear the skin powerup.

My guy glanced around the room. "Much better."

He then looked down, right at me.

"Hey! What's this!!"

He jumped back from my view and I froze, completely without any idea how I should react.

"Condo--what?" It was one of the others again. They were both aiming their Sharones at the doors to the two rooms. If Ken or Hu happened to get up to go to the toilet, they were sure to be dead. I had to make sure that didn't happen.

"There's something here." I watched as the man nearest me leaned over the edge of the sofa again, extending the barrel of his Sharone until it touched my ribs.

This was it.

I grabbed his hand with both of mine and yanked as hard as I was capable, pulling the very heavy man over the back of the sofa onto myself. I made sure to point his gun, with his hand still in it, toward the table as I rolled off onto the floor.

Instinctively, he pulled the trigger, obliterating the table in an instant. The loud racket from the Sharone was sure to wake Hu and Ken and alert them to the intruders. I squirmed my way out from under the man and stood up immediately, my hands in the air.

"PLEASE! I SURRENDER! TAKE WHATEVER YOU WANT!"

Of course, to them, thanks to the SPL, I was just a big black blob, waving it's blobby arms 'round in an all too threatening way, I'm sure.

"FREEZE!" one of them yelled.

I was still waving my hands showing that I was unarmed.

"Please! I don't have a weapon!" I said as loudly and as clearly as I could.

"FREEZE OR WE'LL SHOOT YOU!" yelled the one called Albrecht.

I held perfectly still. "I'M HOLDING PERFECTLY STILL! PLEASE DON'T SHOOT!"

"WHY IS HE BLACK?" Collins asked.

"DON'T MOVE!" Condo yelled.

"I'M NOT MOVING!"

"TURN OFF YOUR CLOAKING FIELD, NOW!"

"Hang on! It's not a field! One moment, please!" I yelled. "IF we could please stop yelling now!"

Finally, they stopped yelling.

"Here, let me turn on the proper lights," I said moving, still with my hands up, to the light control near the door to Ken's bedroom.

I pressed the slider upward and slowly white light brought everything into clear view. The three men pulled their light amp nanoskins from their eyes. I could see they were all Caucasoid. Judging by their accent they grew up inner-city kids from New Columbia.

"What the--?" Allbrecht said, clearly not having seen anything like SPL before.

"What kind of cloaking field is that?" Collins asked.

"Em, it's not, actually, a cloaking field, as they are illegal."

"Then what is it?" Condo pressed the barrel of his Sharone to my jaw.

This was getting difficult...

TheVlog for 1/26/6

Hey look! It's my 5th vlog entry! The THIRD in as many days! I'm on a total roll!

Too bad this was all I had time to do thanks to my database melting down earlier today. Check out the clip to find out what happened. What a mess!! But in the end, not a terrible thing...


thevlog20060126.mp4



It's a somewhat ample 24 megs in mp4 as usual. Check it out!

Feel free to check out all of my past vlog entries here:

http://thepete.com/tag/thevlog/
http://thepete.com/tag/thevlog/feed/ <--subscribe to my vlog here

KILLING MOTHER NATURE: MORE FREAK WEATHER

The idea is that sometimes when we do things we inadvertantly change things that don't seem immediately connected to our actions. However, this is not a case like that. Over the last hundred, or so, years, we humans have been spewing chemicals into the air. That air is used by plants and animals (we're one of the latter) to exist in. The air is breathed and expelled. The Earth, herself, uses the air as well for a thing I like to call "the weather".

So, if you're looking for proof that the spewage we've been doing into the Earth's atmosphere is doing some serious damage, here are a few hints in the form of headlines I found around the web earlier this week:

[http://abcnews.go.com/International/CSM/story?id=1534058|Russia's new cold war: -96 degrees F.] (ABCNews.com)

[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4643718.stm|Dozens killed in Europe's Freeze] (http://news.bbc.co.uk)

[http://www.clickondetroit.com/weather/6377419/detail.html|Snowstorm Closes Hawaii Volcano To Tourists] (ClickOnDetroit.com)

[http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1384801.cms|Mumbaikars get a taste of cold weather] (IndiaTimes.Com)

Remember, just keep watching for the KMN tag for more stories on obvious evidence of our environment changing thanks to our abuse of her.

Yes, I think of the environment as a woman--a living breathing, person whom we should show great respect and care for, but whom will ultimately tear out our heart and stomp on it.

Wait... I think that last part is about my feelings toward actual women...

Ballpoint Adventures for January 26, 2006

Ballpoint Adventures for January 26, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)

Got a Band? Got a Record Deal? Now You Don't Need One!

As a writer one of the things that bugs me is how the mega-corps decide what gets made and what doesn't. They often skip over new ideas and sink money into projects that are "proven" to work. Why take a chance?

They should take a chance because without truly new content art stagnates and stops inspiring people to bother with anything in their lives.

The good news is that the powers-that-be have yet to get a real control over this wonderful snowball rolling down a hill better known as the Internet.

Enter TuneCore.com.

It's a company that will let you get your music on iTunes and let you make all of the money from the sales of your music on iTunes. TuneCore.com charges you, the artist, $8 a year, per album and they let you keep all of the rights to your own music.

Sure, you have to deal with the marketing side of things, but hey, at least you can make some money off of being creative--which is really what we're all after, right?

That reminds me. I need to go work on some self-publishing projects over at CafePress.com and Lulu.com. :D

HUZZAH! TERRORISTS WIN PALESTINIAN ELECTION!

Wow, well, some would say we elected a terrorist to the White House and it looks like Palestinians have followed our lead. According to [http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060126/D8FCBVLOC.html|a January 26, 2006 article] from AP.org and MyWay.com, Hamas, the Islamic militant group United States authorities call a terrorist organization (and who am I to argue?) has won the Palestinian election.

Will the USG now respect the results of the election? Will Bush and Company assume that the people of (what used to be) Palestine are capable to determine their own destinies? Will the White House trust the Palestinians to take care of themselves?

What do you think?

I think naaaaaaaht...

OH and before any of you get any dumb ideas, no I do not support terrorism or terrorists. While I am disappointed in their choice for leadership, I am happy that the Palestinians were able to vote at all. I hope their choice will prove to be the best choice for them (though I'm not sure how electing Hamas will be the best choice for the rest of the world--or even to them, really).

FYI: More FutureBlogs and Comics!

In case you didn't notice, I've updated with more FutureBlog updates as well as five new comic strips in the last 24 hours. Check out the following two links:

http://thepete.com/category/futureblog

http://thepete.com/category/thefunnies

Be sure to scroll all the way down to read four brand new Ballpoint Adventure strips!

USG FUCKS UP AGAIN, MANY DIE AGAIN

Sorry to use such harsh language in the title of this post, but I'm tired of hearing the Bush Administration say they had no idea some disaster they totally screwed the pooch on could have ever happened.

After 911 Condi "Whitey" Rice said in front of cameras that she didn't think anyone had any idea that planes could be used by terrorists as missiles/bombs. Here's a clip from [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/12/17/eveningnews/main589137.shtml|a December 17, 2003 article] I just found off of Google at CBSNews.com:
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," said national security adviser Condoleeza Rice on May 16, 2002.


The [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/12/17/eveningnews/main589137.shtml|same article] then goes on:
How is it possible we have a national security advisor coming out and saying we had no idea they could use planes as weapons when we had FBI records from 1991 stating that this is a possibility," said Kristen Breitweiser, one of four New Jersey widows who lobbied Congress and the president to appoint the commission.


But there's more than even that, regarding 911. Turns out there are FAA regulations on the books that fighter planes be scrambled immediately after air traffic controllers lose contact with planes. Payne Stewart's leer jet was intercepted within thirty minutes after everyone aboard died due to a pressurization problem (I believe). Yet when questioned, US authorities explained that there was [http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/cia-simulation.htm|a drill being run by the US military that day simulating planes being used as missiles and striking major American landmarks] (source: TheMemoryHole.Org).

The fact that terrorists used planes as missiles on the very day the USMil was doing a drill for just such an event is so incredibly convenient you almost want to believe that they knew 911 was going to happen.

Flash-forward to 2005 and the Katrina disaster. According to [http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=1537584|January 24, 2006 article] at ABCNews.com:
Embattled former FEMA Director Michael Brown said, "I think we were all taken aback by the fact that the levees did break in so many places and caused such widespread devastation."

Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff said, "I will tell you that really that perfect storm of combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners and maybe anybody's foresight."

And on Sept. 1, Bush told "Good Morning America": ''I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" that flooded New Orleans.


Check out the absurd similarities between Condi's comment post-911 and George's jump of faith:

Condi: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile..."

George: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees..."

What's even more funny (in a completely tragic sense) is that George was just as wrong. Early in [http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=1537584|said ABC News article] they report:
Documents released today by Congress show that two days before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the White House received detailed damage forecasts from Homeland Security officials predicting that the city's levees might be overtopped or breached.

...

The documents provided today by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, however, showed that the federal agencies overseen by Brown and Chertoff had compiled damage forecasts for the White House at least 48 hours before the storm's landfall that predicted levee overtopping and breaches.


So, once again, we see that either the Bush 43 Administration is intentionally allowing bad things to happen to Americans or that they are first class incompetents very much deserving a pink slip.

Which is it?

Intentional killers?

Or Idiotic Leaders?

Either way, if there was a single person in government or the media willing to do their job, we'd be seeing impeachment hearings damn soon.

Sadly, we live on Bizarro World.

From CBSNews.com:

9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable

NEW YORK, Dec. 17, 2003(CBS) For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right," said Thomas Kean.

"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," he said. "This was not something that had to happen."

Appointed by the Bush administration, Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, is now pointing fingers inside the administration and laying blame.

"There are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in at that time because they failed. They simply failed," Kean said.

To find out who failed and why, the commission has navigated a political landmine, threatening a subpoena to gain access to the president's top-secret daily briefs. Those documents may shed light on one of the most controversial assertions of the Bush administration – that there was never any thought given to the idea that terrorists might fly an airplane into a building.

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," said national security adviser Condoleeza Rice on May 16, 2002.

"How is it possible we have a national security advisor coming out and saying we had no idea they could use planes as weapons when we had FBI records from 1991 stating that this is a possibility," said Kristen Breitweiser, one of four New Jersey widows who lobbied Congress and the president to appoint the commission.

The widows want to know why various government agencies didn't connect the dots before Sept. 11, such as warnings from FBI offices in Minnesota and Arizona about suspicious student pilots.

"If you were to tell me that two years after the murder of my husband that we wouldn't have one question answered, I wouldn't believe it," Breitweiser said.

Kean admits the commission also has more questions than answers.

Asked whether we should at least know if people sitting in the decision-making spots on that critical day are still in those positions, Kean said, "Yes, the answer is yes. And we will."

Kean promises major revelations in public testimony beginning next month from top officials in the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, National Security Agency and, maybe, President Bush and former President Clinton.


© MMIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc.


From ABCNews.com:

Documents Show Katrina Warnings Ignored

White House Briefed on Levee Breach Two Days Before Storm Hit
By LUIS MARTINEZ

Jan. 24, 2006 — - Documents released today by Congress show that two days before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the White House received detailed damage forecasts from Homeland Security officials predicting that the city's levees might be overtopped or breached.

Yet in the days after the storm struck on Aug. 29, federal officials, including President Bush, said the levee breaches could not have been foreseen.

Embattled former FEMA Director Michael Brown said, "I think we were all taken aback by the fact that the levees did break in so many places and caused such widespread devastation."

Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff said, "I will tell you that really that perfect storm of combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners and maybe anybody's foresight."

And on Sept. 1, Bush told "Good Morning America": ''I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" that flooded New Orleans.

The documents provided today by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, however, showed that the federal agencies overseen by Brown and Chertoff had compiled damage forecasts for the White House at least 48 hours before the storm's landfall that predicted levee overtopping and breaches.

'Die Was Cast'

From an engineering standpoint, experts contacted today by ABC News don't believe anything could have been done to shore up the levees even with the advance warning because of existing design flaws in the levee system.

"The die was cast," said Dr. Ray Seed at the University of California at Berkeley, who is part of a review team funded by the National Science Foundation that's investigating the levee breaches. "Nothing could have been done."

Emergency preparedness experts have said in the past that additional advance warning could also have been used by federal officials to press local officials to evacuate those New Orleans residents without easy access to transportation. It's been estimated that about 100,000 New Orleans residents were left behind when Katrina struck.

Seed agreed, saying the advance warning "could have been used by the federal government to stage additional resources in the city and massively improved the FEMA response."

Furthermore, he said the ongoing Science Foundation study has found that the school buses frequently seen in their flooded parking spaces could have been used to evacuate stranded residents. After the storm struck, their gas tanks were found to be full and they were used in evacuations.

No Answers From White House
On Aug. 27, two days before the storm made landfall, FEMA had prepared a slide presentation for White House officials. The FEMA slides said a Category 4 storm surge "could greatly overtop levees and protective systems." It's unclear who at the White House received this briefing or how its contents were distributed afterward.

Hours before the storm made landfall, the White House Situation Room received a report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security in which experts predicted flooding "could leave the New Orleans metro area submerged for weeks or months." The report also said that hurricane damage could cost $10 billion to $14 billion.

At a hearing today, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said the White House has maintained a "refusal to answer" stance regarding questions and document requests by congressional investigators looking at the federal government's response to Katrina.

"Almost every question our staff has asked federal agency witnesses regarding conversations with or involvement of the White House has been met with a response that they could not answer on direction of the White House," Lieberman said.

Brown has said that he notified the White House of his concerns about the storm on the weekend before it struck. Lieberman said that in a meeting with congressional investigators yesterday, Brown was advised by agency lawyers not to answer specific questions about whether he'd spoken to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in the days leading up to the storm.

Congressional investigators aren't the only ones facing difficulties in receiving information from the federal government. The National Science Foundation study researchers have encountered delays in receiving documents from the Army Corps of Engineers relevant to their review of the levee breaches.

Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Otis the Elevator for January 26, 2006

Otis for January 26, 2006!

FutureBlog for January 25, 2106

25 January 2106 by Pete III

"I'll sink my teeth into this one, Ken-san" Hu said, "Where's here?"

"My safe house," Ken said turning the knob of the door in front of us.

The door, itself, was located in an otherwise blank wall that climbed to a ceiling perhaps three meters up. The other walls in the area seemed to belong to warehouses or factories. Sprinkled throughout the area were the odd eateries or small markets meant to support the workers who were employed in the warehouses and factories. The oddness begins in that most warehouses and factories are fully automated, requiring very few humans to be maintained.

These all seemed to be run by humans.

As we entered Ken's safehouse I asked him about the people we'd seen walking around outside.

"Yes, you would think that hiring people to do what robots can do would be cost-prohibitive. However, when you're dealing with items that need to stay under the sensors of the Bodies Government and Corporate, only humans can't be hacked."

"Yes they can," Hu said.

"Well, not from a far and not without it being quite obvious they've given up secrets. A robot can be hacked into, harvested for data and closed back up again with no one having an idea that the 'bots had been hacked at all."

"Yes, yes--you've got a point there, Ken-san."

"This is your safehouse?" I asked, looking around at the large, empty room. "I cannot say that it is what I expected at all."

"You expected more of the comforts of home?" Ken asked.

"Hai," I said, suddenly remembering that he didn't normally speak English so much. He smiled and held his hand up as I passed him.

"Pito, don't take another step." I did as Ken said a he tapped at the display on his dev. Suddenly lights erupted from the ceiling of the warehouse illuminating a couch directly in front of me. I could also see a coffee table, several chairs, a large array of electronic, chemical and mechanical laboratory equipment and several other walls that, I would soon discover, hid two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen.

"Amazing!" Hu said, reflecting my own opinion.

"How did you...?" I couldn't get the question out of my mouth fully--at first I thought it was the same technology that had allowed me to see Ryca in my closet. I touched the couch and my hand did not pass through it--it was really there.

"SPL--Self-Programming Luminescence. My own design--emitters in the ceiling give off light that essentially counteracts the colors of whatever the light waves strike. If your couch reflects the red spectrum, the SPL will send out only light that will not be reflected at all at levels that are 'bright' enough to cancel out existing light sources."

"So, when the lights came on, they were actually coming off?" Hu asked.

"Exactly," Ken said.

"Now I see why Pete calls you ichiban!"

"Well, I appreciate the complement, but I'm not the number one electronics genius in the world. Make yourselves comfortable." Ken gestured toward the couch and chairs. "Would either of you like some refreshment?"

"Water, definitely water for both of us," Hu said.

"Very good," Ken said stepping into the kitchen.

"So, who is ichiban if not you, Ken-San?" Hu asked flopping down on the couch. I decided to take a closer look at Ken's lab equipment.

"I'm not sure, but I suspect that it's the person who conjured up that chemcoding system Pete experienced the other night."

"Yes, that was a very strange experience," I said sitting down on one of the chairs. Ken entered and handed us both abnormally large glasses of water.

"Thank you, Ken," I said, doing my best to empty the glass in one attempt. Hu followed suit, all of the running we had done had dehydrated us quite a bit. Ken disappeared back into the kitchen only to return with his own abnormally large glass of water. By "abnormally large" I mean these glasses were two-and-a-half decimeters tall.

"Now, Pito, you said that Ryca had mentioned seven-hundred hours as our meeting time?"

"Indeed."

"That's not for another nine hours," Hu said.

"So, we spend the night here and when Pete's 'chemcode' becomes active, he can wake us up and we can be underway."

We each took turns freshening up--we showered and ate some instameals Ken had in his kitchen. Not the most healthy food, Hu reminded us, but sustenance, nonetheless.

Ken and Hu took the bedrooms and I fell asleep on the couch--until, that is, four-hundred hours when I awoke with a start. No, it wasn't the chemcode kicking in--whatever that might be--it was a person. Someone had entered Ken's safehouse. Luckily, thanks to the SPL Ken had re-activated, that someone couldn't see me...