April 1st, 2009


Out with the Bail

It looks like Obama is disinclined to keep pouring taxpayer money down a rathole. Finally.

Obama Sets Deadline to Force GM, Chrysler Overhaul
David Espo, The Associated Press: "President Barack Obama asserted unprecedented government control over the auto industry Monday, rejecting turnaround plans from General Motors and Chrysler and raising the prospect of controlled bankruptcy for either ailing auto giant."

New Webpage for The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense (Revised Edition)

ozarque has created a webpage for the revised edition of her book, The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense. It includes basic information on the new edition, an excellent FAQ list, an excerpt explaining why it's important to learn verbal self-defense, and a link for purchasing a copy.

GAVSD is one of the books I recommend the most frequently; it's wonderful to have an updated edition to recommend. If you're not familiar with this, it's a guide to defusing verbal abuse and promoting a healthy language environment. It's very useful for individuals, but it's also an essential reference for a community bookshelf. Writers can use it to display character personalities through dialogue, too. Most highly recommended.

Read "Clean Sweep" on Lorelei Signal

My science fiction story "Clean Sweep" is now posted on The Lorelei Signal. The table of contents for the current issue is here. Check out the centaur story "For Honor" right under mine, too.

The Lorelei Signal practices cyberfunded creativity. You can make a general donation, or use the PayPal buttons on every story to reward the author(s) and artist(s) whose work you admire most.

Governmental Ups & Downs

These articles caught my eye today, mapping some of the ups and downs of a rough transition between a repressive government and a more progressive one.

Jason Leopold | DOJ Watchdog "Revising" Critical Report on John Yoo's Legal Work on Torture
Jason Leopold, Truthout: "A Justice Department watchdog report that is said to be highly critical of the legal work conducted for the Bush
administration by three attorneys who worked at the agency's powerful Office of Legal Counsel is in the process of being revised after the
agency received responses on the report's conclusions from the attorneys under scrutiny, according to a letter sent to two Democratic senators by a
Justice Department's acting assistant attorney general. The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is apparently
'watering' down some of the more critical conclusions related to legal opinions on 'enhanced interrogation' policies based on responses from John
Yoo, Steven Bradbury and Jay Bybee. It's now unknown, the DOJ, said when the revised version of its report will be complete."

Three cheers for the Ministry of Truth! *razz* *razz* *razz*

Seymour Hersh: Secret US Forces Carried Out Assassinations in "A Lot of" Countries
Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!: "Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh created a stir last month when he said the Bush administration ran an executive assassination ring that reported directly to Vice President Dick Cheney. Hersh made the comment during a speech at the University of Minnesota on March 10. 'Congress has no oversight of it. It's an executive assassination wing, essentially. And it's been going on and on and on. And just today in the Times there was a story saying that its leader, a three-star admiral named McRaven, ordered a stop to certain activities because there were so many collateral deaths. It's been going in - under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or to the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving.' said Hersh."

The end does not justify the means. The means determine the end.

US to Join UN Human Rights Council, Reversing Bush Policy
Colum Lynch, The Washington Post: "The Obama administration decided Tuesday to seek a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, reversing a decision by the Bush administration to shun the United Nations' premier rights body to protest the influence of repressive states. 'Human rights are an essential element of American global foreign policy,' Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement. 'With others, we will engage in the work of improving the UN human rights system ... We believe every nation must live by and help shape global rules that ensure people enjoy the right to live freely and participate fully in their societies.' The United States announced it would participate in elections in May for one of three seats on the 47-member council, joining a slate that includes Belgium and Norway."

It's about time the United States resumed support of human rights.

Birthday News

So far, I'm having a wonderful birthday.

In the morning I spotted a thrush at the hopper feeder. Thrushes are primarily insect-eaters; occasionally they will eat berries or fruit, or suet. This one was eating seeds. I actually went back and checked my birdseed to make sure it didn't have moths, and no, it didn't. I guess he was just really hungry or something. Eventually he flew down to the ground and rummaged in the leaf litter for live food like a normal thrush. It was very amusing to watch him fluttering around the feeder and digging industriously at the leaf litter, amidst a cloud of rather baffled sparrows.

The weather was lovely -- partly sunny and barely warm -- so we decided to go out hiking for a little while this afternoon. Four of us went to Fox Ridge state park and, after some poring over the map, found two short trails connected by a road, for a total distance of just under a mile. We saw ferns, spring beauties, trillium, dutchman's breeches, shagbark hickory trees, lots of oaks and maples, redbud, and other plants. Fauna included a black squirrel, a water strider in the creek, several vultures, some cardinals, and a common flicker.

My milk chocolate cake is baked and frosted. The orange chicken is in the oven. Delicious smells are emanating from the kitchen. I am happy.