December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve


of snow


to wish

on earth

good will
to men

Photo note: Kris Kringle flapping in the breeze
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Posted by Dakota at 07:03 AM

December 17, 2008

High Tech Report


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We feel it is our personal obligation to help you gear up and get ready for a high tech President

As Dan Froomkin tells us:

Here's the status quo: A president who has overt contempt for public opinion, who shields himself from opposing views and whose idea of White House Web site interactivity is a video of his dog.

And here's the change: The Obama transition team is actually soliciting public comments on its Web site, reading them and responding to them.

All of us here at Dakota are aware that dealing with new technology can be challenging in addition to providing unique opportunities for mastery .

May we be so bold as to suggest you get your feet wet by downloading some new video games from Molleinindustria whose "objective is to investigate the persuasive potentials of the medium by subverting mainstream video gaming clichè (and possibly have fun in the process)." Try your hand at Oiligarchy or Operation: Pedopriest. Perhaps you'd prefer playing virtual spiritual enlightenment to virtual sociopolitical manipulation, in which case, consider "Night Journey". The highly acclaimed "Bioshock" is a good choice for those who lust after Ayn Rand and brutality--- you know who you are.

So get with it, guys. If you plan to snail mail the new administration, you might find focusing on arts and crafts projects a better use of your time.

Photo note: Pretty high tech, huh? and just look at all those double triangles

Posted by Dakota at 08:47 PM

December 12, 2008

Hard To Disguise


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The headline on Dan Eggen's Washington Post piece reads "'My Heart and My Values Didn't Change' In Bush, Loyalists See a Good and Steadfast Man Who Has Gotten a Bad Rap". Poor Baby

In a saavy summary of Bush's attempts to tweak history in his favor entitled Lickspittle for a Pig The Poorman says "....and so it is that history’s little insurgent elves are busy at work with hammer and awl."

Yes indeedy, W. and his cohorts are dedicating their efforts to this end. Mitchell Bard on Bush's interview with Charlie Gibson:

For example, in discussing the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush claimed: "I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess." He makes it sound as if he was a passive receiver of the reports on the subject, and that the existence of WMDs was the real reason he started the war in Iraq. We know now that neither of those claims are true; that the president cherry-picked intelligence information to make his case for war in Iraq, and that the weapons of mass destruction were merely a pretense for that war..... The Iraq war must be remembered as being a result of Bush's foreign policy objectives, not as an unfortunate byproduct of Bush getting bad intelligence on WMDs.

What really bugged me about the Gibson interview was Bush's effort to portray himself as a compassionate advocate for the American people. He said at one point: "One of the things about the presidency is you deal with a lot of tragedy -- whether it be hurricanes, or tornadoes, or fires or death -- and you spend time being the comforter-in-chief." But it was Bush's disdain for government and the people it serves, as evidenced by his policy of appointing unqualified political cronies to run agencies like FEMA, that helped intensify the effects of Hurricane Katrina, the biggest natural disaster his administration faced. People died while Bush and his administration did nothing. That should be the take-away point from the Bush administration's handling of crises, not that he was some kind of "comforter-in-chief."

Similarly, Bush made wholly ludicrous claims to Gibson about trying to change how partisan Washington was. He said he "knew that the president has the responsibility to try to elevate the tone, and, frankly, it just didn't work, much as I'd like to have it work." He would have liked to have it work?

Just what has Bush been doing with his days? Leaks from the transition team tell us that he wasn't simply riding his exercise bike. Turns out, the decider has been playing war games from his virtual battlefield command post.

But several say that their biggest surprise came when they learned more about how President Bush spends his day, and how he gets his information......

..... they have been surprised to see the degree of tactical detail about two wars and a handful of insurgencies — from the tribal areas of Pakistan to Sudan and the Congo — that surrounds him. Partly this is because the high-tech makeover of the Situation Room, completed about two years ago, makes instantaneous conversation with field commanders easier than ever.

Both the transition officials and some White House insiders say it may make this communication too easy, sucking the commander-in-chief into a situation in which real-time, straight-from-the-battlefield discussions of tactics masquerade as a conversation about strategy.

Mr. Bush himself has talked about how the installation of secure video links has changed his presidency. In addition to the screens in the “Sit Room,” he has links on Air Force One, at Camp David, and in a trailer across the dirt road from his ranch in Crawford, Tex.

It seems as if the guy has substituted his drug and alcohol problem for a video game addiction played with human lives. Makes one wonder how he'll deal with his retirement.

Keith Olbermann, as is his wont, nailed up Bush's true legacy at MSNBC, for all to see, and it isn't pretty.

Photo note: A little hat does not a Santa make - a metaphorophoto - creatio by Alex of

Posted by Dakota at 04:38 PM

December 10, 2008






Photo note: metaphorophoto for current condition of sinus and nasal passages
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Posted by Dakota at 07:50 AM | TrackBack

December 02, 2008

Setting A Precedent


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As Obama assembles his team he is also setting a precedent. It seems that he expects those who join his administration to be, and to have been honest and forthcoming. He expects as much of himself. In an interview with Cathleen Falsani, which is worth reading in it's entirety if you didn't do so already, Obama said:

One of the interesting things about being in public life is there are constantly these pressures being placed on you from different sides. To be effective, you have to be able to listen to a variety of points of view, synthesize viewpoints. You also have to know when to be just a strong advocate, and push back against certain people or views that you think aren't right or don't serve your constituents.

And so, the biggest challenge, I think, is always maintaining your moral compass. Those are the conversations I'm having internally. I'm measuring my actions against that inner voice that for me at least is audible, is active, it tells me where I think I'm on track and where I think I'm off track.

He is also aware of the danger of too much moral certainty:

I think that I am disturbed by, let me put it this way: I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God's mandate.

I think there is this tendency that I don't think is healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism, or dialogue with people who disagree with them.

Obama, unlike some other politicians we know, has empathy --from the same interview

"A standard line in my stump speech during this campaign is that my politics are informed by a belief that we're all connected. That if there's a child on the South Side of Chicago that can't read, that makes a difference in my life even if it's not my own child. If there's a senior citizen in downstate Illinois that's struggling to pay for their medicine and having to chose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer even if it's not my grandparent. And if there's an Arab American family that's being rounded up by John Ashcroft without the benefit of due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

Why is it so imperative that our leader have a strong moral compass and lead with empathy and consciousness? Theoretical physicist Mark Buchanan explains the psychology of joining in in his New York Times article Chain Reactions:

.... we’ll discover that honor and dignity were sacrificed at the very top. It will be a familiar story – of a few power-hungry and largely amoral political operatives, the real drivers, whose actions encouraged and directed a small army of fairly ordinary people, the Monica Goodlings of this world, many of whom were hardly aware they were doing something wrong.

People who engage in corrupt acts often do not see them as such. This much has emerged from studies of corporate scandals and fraud at places like Enron or WorldCom. In a study two years ago, for example, business professors Vikas Anand, Blake Ashforth and Mahendra Joshi concluded that most fraud within institutions takes place through the willing cooperation of many otherwise upstanding individuals with no psychological predisposition to be criminals.....

Whether embezzling money, undermining product safety regulations, or even selling completely fake products, the perpetrators rationalize away their responsibility. They deny that they actually had any choice, saying that “everyone was doing it.” Or they deny that anyone really got hurt, so there really was no crime: “They’re a big company, they can afford to overpay us.”

Then there’s the popular appeal to higher authority, a mechanism with special relevance, perhaps, to the loyalty-rewarding Bush administration: “I had to do it out of loyalty to my boss.”

But the psychology of rationalization is only part of the story. The other element in all such cases seems to be a chain-like linking together of individual actions that can undermine social norms with surprising speed – or keep them safe, sometimes if just a single person remains strong.

n the late 1970s, Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter pointed out that the differences among people – in their willingness to engage in certain kinds of acts – can lead to surprises. Think of the dance floor at a party. Some people are more than happy to be the first out there, dancing alone, but lots of the rest of us would like some others out there first. You might be willing to go out if five or six went before you, while others might require 20 or 30. Some might not go out unless everyone at the party was out there.....

This is just a toy model, but it illustrates something about the logic of people joining not only dance floors, but riots or protests, trips to the pub in the evening, getting in with others to skim cash from the restaurant till – or violating well-known rules against taking political affiliation into account when hiring. Tiny differences in the group makeup, the presence or absence or a few people of the right type, might be the difference between a few renegade violators and division-wide corruption.

In spite of Obama's win, we are still operating under corrupt leadership. We need only examine some of Bush's sterling sychophants Henry Paulson, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzalves, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin our mortgage lenders and the general state of the world, to observe his corrosive influence.

Waaaayyyyy too much? You're probably already sorry we took off the turkey hat.

Photo note: Lonely rider balances on a straight and narrow path into the unforseeable - a metaphorophoto

Posted by Dakota at 09:08 PM

December 01, 2008



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a turkey
hat does
not lend
to writing
a blog

for a

Photo note: Poorly exposed, surreptitious metaphorophoto - an explanation of sorts for a long absence - notice the "out" sign
special thanks to the anonymous employee at Trader Joe's who was willing to wear this thing in public

Posted by Dakota at 11:20 AM