MMS Friends

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Thursday, April 29, 2004

I Had No Idea

Photo © Associated PressCNN is running an AP story about Federal officialsseizingggiantn African snails seized from schools in Wisconsin. Apparently these buggers are a dangerous and prohibited animal in the United States, capable of devouring a variety of crops and even spreading meningitis with their slimy mucus. Several schools in Wisconsin had these snails in their classrooms before the federal government swooped in and confiscated the animals.

Sheesh. Somebody ought to tell them that Guam is chock full of these things. They are everywhere. I mean everywhere. I walk in the yard and crunch on these things. The hermit crabs (duk duk) appropriate the shells for their mobile homes, the dogsharasss the snails at night and they do eat most everything that grows outside. But I had no idea they are disease carriers. I just assumed they were one of Guam's many plagues (snails, toads, gnats, termites, snakes...). Guess I better tread carefully from now on, I sure don't want to catch meningitis.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Down The Rabbit Hole

I normally ignore Cal Thomas' columns in the Pacific Daily News, his right wing demagoguery is not to my liking. But today's column caught my eye, primarily because I just read an interesting article on Tom Paine.com about Al Smith and his disastrous 1928 bid for the presidency. Smith was the immensely popular Democratic governor of New York whose campaign was torpedoed because of his Catholic faith and Irish upbringing. Pundits and columnists questioned his fealty to the United States. "A prominent Episcopalian lawyer published an article in the Atlantic Monthly, questioning Smith's ability to function as president as long as he owed ultimate allegiance to the Pope. Smith dismissed the idea as silly. He declared he had 'never heard of those bulls and encyclicals and books.'" Yet Smith went down in crushing defeat to Herbert Hoover, losing even his home state of New York.

A curious inversion has taken place in the 21st century. Instead of Republicans questioning John Kerry's allegiance to the United States, right wing idealogues like Cal Thomas are questioning whether a man that refuses to follow Church doctrine is fit to lead the United States. Thomas states "When Kerry and other Catholic politicians say they accept church teaching but selectively deny it when it comes to abortion, they place the state above the church and man above God. They mortgage their consciences to convenience and principle to pragmatism. Should such a person lead this nation?"

Funny what a difference 76 years makes. Now Republicans are saying that Catholic Democrats are beholden to the Pope, not the Constitution. Black is White, War is Peace.

The instigation for all this furor was the Cardinal Arinze, a potential successor to Pope John Paul II, who stated on Friday that politicians who support abortion should be denied communion. While the Cardinal refused to address whether John Kerry should be excluded from the holy sacrament, pro-choice Catholic Democrats rallied behind Kerry and incurred the usual fusillade of vitriol from the right wing attack dogs, including Cal Thomas.

More than a few things here give me pause. First, Cardinal Arinze is not the Pope, the titular head of the church and infallible authority on spiritual matters. Dude's got no authority to speak for the church on this matter. Second, there are plenty of pro-choice Republicans out there, notably Governor George Pataki and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I don't hear the right wing idiots questioning their authority to govern because they support a woman's right to choose. Lastly, this show of support for the Catholic Church on the abortion issue is rife with hypocrisy. Sure the Church opposes abortion; the church also vehemently condemns the death penalty, something near and dear to Republican's hearts. Don't hear Cal Thomas condemning politicians who authorize state institutionalized murder do you? Funny how folks only pick out the things they want to emphasize and totally ignore other issues. Or perhaps the whole idea of the church trying to dictate temporal, earthly policy in the 21st century is a non-issue and we would all be better off if we took religion out of the debate?

Testing, Testing, 1 - 2 - 3

For the first time in a long time I am farting around with different weblogging software and systems. I got myself a Xanga site, a TypePad page, even a Plone site. All this on top of the Radio Userland Salon blog that I never use. Hell, I even created a blogspot blog using blogger so I could check out the features they offered with that hosting service.

Why the flurry of signing up with all these different services? I'm evaluating options for a friend of mine and her family. They are leaving Guam next month and beginning an adventure. For the next two years they will be cruising around in a boat, working down the West Coast, through the Panama Canal and the Caribbean, up the East Coast, and finally into the Great Lakes. They really want a website to share their adventures, location, information and photos with friends and family. I agreed to help set them up with something easy to use. For what they want to do, I think going with a TypePad site is probably their best option. Of course, it is also one of the more expensive options, but hey - she's a doctor and her husband is a banker. They can afford a few bucks a month for precious memories.

Gravity Probe B

Today's Astronomy Photo of the Day is one of four spheres launched into orbit last week onboard Gravity Probe B, an ambitious mission to test Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

More Troubles At Air America

A new development for Air America, the nation's liberal radio programming. The CEO of the fledgling company is stepping down to a smaller role in the company. In his place, Beloit College grad David Goodfriend, currently legal counsel for the network, will become interim CEO, according to fellow Beloit College graduate Evan Montvel-Cohen.

The other big shake-up is the departure of the programming director, Dave Logan, a long time radio professional. His duties will be assumed by the network's morning show host, Liz Winstead. I like what San Francisco DJ Rick Stuart has to say about this affair: "Doesn't seem like a good move and might be another sign of money problems dumping Logan and not replacing his salary. Clearly there was a rift with Walsh and Logan and other staffers. Do you think high paid comics take to programming direction well? Me neither."

Stuart also posts an article taken from the Chicago Tribune about the changes at the network, and focuses in on Evan Montvel-Cohen:
With Walsh's departure, Cohen has become the liberal network's key spokesman and public advocate. He has an unlikely past for the role: He began his career as a Republican operative in his native Guam, serving as spokesman for Guam's Republican Party and as chief of staff for Sen. Tommy Tanaka, a pro-life Republican legislator.

Tanaka pleaded guilty to corruption charges last year.

'I am a progressive,' said Cohen, adding that Guam's political climate is quite different from the mainland's. 'Republicans in Guam are to the left of [late Democratic Senator] Paul Wellstone,' he said.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Kirghiz Light

And a man cannot be the same
After seeing the Kirghiz Light


I wonder if that applies to hearing the Kirghiz Light as well?

Out Of The Frying Pan, Into The Fire

As if been captured and threatened with knives and immolation wasn't bad enough, freed Japanese hostages face the scorn of their nation upon their return. They are even being billed by the Japanese government for their airfare home. The public opinion is that the hostages brought shame upon the nation.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Beach Boys

Spent the day at Ypao Beach Park in Tumon, working the drink concession stand for the Beach Boys concert that Atkins Kroll put on. It was volunteer work, 50% of our sales go to the American Cancer Society. Unfortunately the beer ran out just as the Beach Boys took the stage. For the next three hours we had to deal with surly crowds bitching about the lack of beer. Seems traffic was so bad getting down into Tumon that the second beer truck couldn't make it down to the park.

Anyway, it was a fun afternoon listening to the Beach Boys and watching people get progressively drunker and stumble around. If I hadn't been working, odds are good I would've been stumbling around with them. And Guam certainly has no shortage of beautiful women. Seemed like everywhere I looked I saw bikinis today. And that's a good thing.

I'm pretty tired now. We were supposed to work four hour shifts, but somehow I got corralled into working all day, including set up in the morning and break down after the concert. My dogs are really barking right now. I think I will actually take a nice hot bath tonight before turning in early.

Some Earth Day Related Links

To celebrate Earth Day this year, I posted a few links. First read this article about sustainable lifestyles and ecological footprints. Then take the test. You will be surprised by the results. I know I was.

Here's a new site I found, the Coral Reef Report, focusing on coral reefs and conservation efforts undertaken to preserve what's left. It's good stuff.

Finally, here's a snippet about how the US Air Force is complying with EPA pollution regulations by replacing the rocket motors on nuclear ICBM's with more environmentally friendly propellants. However, "EPA regulations do not apply in foreign countries, so no changes are being made to reduce the harmful environmental effects of the nuclear warheads."

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Happy Birthday To You

It's the 14th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.

And while I'm at it, last week was the second anniversary of me writing this blog. Never thought it would last this long.

Former NFL Player Killed In Action

Pat Tillman, former safety for the Arizona Cardinals, was killed in Afghanistan. Tillman, an Army Ranger was killed in action on Thursday in southern Afghanistan.

After finishing out the 2001 football season, Tillman gave up his NFL career to join the Army in 2002, along with his younger brother. At the time, his decision to abandon his 3 year, $3.6 million contract was derided by teammate Simeon Rice, who told sports talk show host Jim Rome that Tillman really wasn't that great of a player, and probably had watched too many Rambo movies. Yeah, whatever dude. He showed more character and resolve than any other NFL player. His decision set him apart from most professional athletes, and now he's paid the ultimate price.

My condolences to his family and those that knew him.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

A couple days after having most charges dismissed against former governor Carl Gutierrez and several other defendants, Gutierrez, 3 former officials re-indicted by a grand jury yesterday.

Leptospirosis Cases Traced To Sigua Falls

Earlier this month the Air Force advised that three military personnel contracted leptospirosis on boonie stomps during March. The Air Force has now traced the lepto cases to Sigua Falls. Can't say I am surprised, there's a lot of carabao wandering around in those hills off Cross Island Road.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Local Protests Against Increased Military Presence

It's funny how a story like this one about native Chamorros protesting US military increases on Guam get no coverage in the island's only newspaper. Funny because the publisher of the newspaper is the president of the chamber of commerce, the same chamber of commerce agressively pushing Guam to the Pentagon. Funny when a person has to read about important issues affecting the island from media located on other islands and even different countries like Australia. Makes a person think that perhaps a certain newspaper is pushing an agenda and ignoring valid protests. I wonder.

PostgreSQL vs. MySQL vs. Commercial Databases: It's All About What You Need

Interesting article for those so interested - PostgreSQL vs. MySQL vs. Commercial Databases: It's All About What You Need

Gas Prices Rise Again

Just a couple weeks after rolling the price back from $2.25 to $2.20 a gallon, all three local gas companies raised the price of gasoline back to $2.25 a gallon this week. Lovely.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

3 Of 13 Charges Against Gutierrez Dismissed

One day after most charges were dropped in the street light case, 3 of 13 charges against Gutierrez were dismissed in the Urunao case.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Charges Dismissed Against Gutierrez

Most charges dismissed against Carl Gutierrez and co-defendants in the street light case involving Cliff Guzman and T. Ann Perez. Whoops.
According to Benson's decision issued yesterday, several of the charges were dismissed because they were "insufficient for failure to charge crimes" and since the "people have failed to properly allege crimes, there can be no conspiracies."

Meteor Plummets Towards Chicago

Here's an interesting write up on a meteor that exploded in the air above Chicago last year. I remember hearing about this when it happened, but Steve Simon, a geophysicist at the University of Chicago calculated the size and speed of the original object and it's trajectory into Chicagoland. Cool.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Adios NetFlix

I cancelled my NetFlix membership last night. Over the weekend they had the gall to send me an email announcing that because of competition they were raising my monthly rates over 25%. Sorry, that just doesn't jive with me. Maybe an increase of a buck or two, but 25%? Come on.

It's a shame too, because I had an enormous queue of over 400 dvd's, many of them movies that just never make it out to Guam. Just over the weekend I watched the Battleship Potemkin, the Acid House, and the Last Picture Show, all great movies that I really enjoyed. It's a shame they got to do this, I imagine they'll lose a lot of business to Wal-Mart and the nascent Blockbuster dvd by mail operation.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Tis The Season

It's that time of year, when Samuel "Marshmallow" Pepys makes his annual appearance. Love that photo.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Links

This is for me:And this is for you:

Regional Roundup

Here's some stories of interest in the last few days:
  • Mining Issue In Northern Marianas - Seems a plan is afoot to lease the island of Pagan to an Arizona mining consortium interest in extracting the ash deposits that abound on Pagan. This has raised the ire of the former residents of Pagan, many of whom wish to return to the island, but are blocked by the government of the CNMI because the island is deemed unsafe since eruptions in the 1980's.
    Ex-Pagan residents want to be consulted in mining venture

    By Gemma Q. Casas
    Variety News Staff


    FORMER Pagan residents are opposing moves to grant an Arizona-based investor the permit to mine and extract pozzolan from the volcanic island unless they are consulted and an environmental impact study on the proposal is made.

    "Do not approve any mining activities on Pagan for Azmar or any other firm until all options have been thoroughly explored and an environmental impact study has been conducted. We urge you to be sympathetic to the needs of our people," said the members of the United Northern Mariana Islanders Association in a letter yesterday to Marianas Public Lands Authority Chairwoman Ana Demapan-Castro.

    UNIA also criticized MPLA for holding a board meeting on Tinian to discuss Azmar's mining request.

    Demapan-Castro and Juan Nekai were the only board members physically present during the meeting.

    Board members Manny Villagomez and Benita Manglona reportedly "joined" the meeting through teleconference.

    "The MPLA board's decision to hold its meeting on Tinian...to discuss commercial mining interests on Pagan is outrageously irresponsible. Many of us are wondering why Tinian? Just how many former residents of Pagan and the other Northern Islands actually live on Tinian that you know of?" UNIA stated in its letter to Demapan-Castro.

    The Arizona-based firm of Azmar International wants to mine pozzolan ash on Pagan.

    Pozzolan is said to have a very strong adhesive quality ideal for creating cement.
    Azmar said it is willing to infuse at least $40 million in capital to begin the mining of 4.55 million metric tons of pozzolan a year.

    Azmar pledged to give MPLA a royalty fee of 3 percent for every metric ton extracted in addition to business gross receipt tax and ad valorem tax.
    UNIA told MPLA's board that it would be an "injustice" if the permit is granted without their members being consulted.

    "How would you feel if you and your people were forced from your homes by a natural disaster? How would you feel if you and your people begged to return home but were told year after year that you don't belong there anymore? How would you feel about being treated like second-class citizens by your own government officials?" UNIA members told the board.

    Members of UNIA were forced to leave Pagan when the volcano there erupted in 1981.

  • Last Dive For WWII Veteran - 86 year old veteran Tomimatsu Ishikawa dove the wreck of the oil tanker Iro in Palau. On March 30, 1944, Ishikawa was the chief engineer onboard the oiler when it was bombed by U.S. forces in Operation Desecrate One. Ishikawa survived the airstrike, though the rest of the engine room crew were slain. He is now the last living survivor and dove the wreck on the 60th anniversary of the sinking.
  • Eyewitness Account of Typhoon Sudal - I wanted to post this story up before it is gone from the Marianas Variety web site
    Eyewitness: 24-hour nightmare in Yap

    By Olivier Wortel
    For Variety


    YAP - Starting as a tropical storm off Chuuk and heading toward Guam and then abruptly cutting south and down toward Palau before moving southeast, Typhoon Sudal made an unwelcome stop over Yap, pounding the island mercilessly for nearly a day and leaving the worst devastation in its wake that this FSM state has seen in recent memory.

    With sustained winds at its peak of 140 knots per hour and gusts up to 170 knots, with maximum significant wave height estimated at 36 feet, Sudal destroyed 99 percent of Yap's power, water and communications infrastructure.

    Hundreds of people are living in schools, shelters, community houses and other government buildings, their homes completely ripped from their foundations.

    According to an eyewitness report: "Yap got blasted. Typhoon Sudal rolled right over poor little Yap, and smashed it. Ninety-five percent of all residences destroyed. People are living in schools, shelters, community houses, and other government buildings. The vegetation is severely stressed. A 24-hour nightmare."

    As of Sunday afternoon, April 11, only the disaster command office had a working telephone line, but efforts were being made to re-establish phone connection to at least some phone lines. Sudal's powerful winds crushed nearly all power and phone lines.

    The same witness described some of the destruction left by Sudal: "Winds up to 155 mph. Seas at 30 feet. One of those moved the Manta Ray restaurant to its new location, almost on top of the new Waab hardware. This place is hurtin'. The people are handling it real well, for the time being. I'm sure the shock of it will hit in a day or so. Most are lucky to be alive, and know it. I've never seen anything like it. We stayed at the house, and rode it out in relative comfort. Scared all right, but safe. The house held up real well. We are very fortunate."
    Reports indicate no death or serious injury as a result of the typhoon.
    Thankfully, help is on the way. Potable water seems to be what is needed most. It's funny though, how some people can still find time to bitch and moan.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

The Meme Progresses

(via Caterina)

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

And the winner is:
The liberal party maintained that marriage was an obsolete institution and that it was necessary to reform it, and indeed married life gave Oblonsky very little pleasure and forced him to tell lies and dissemble, which was so contrary to his nature.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina. I can't claim to be reading this right now, it was simply the closest on my bookshelf.

Oof-duh

Spent most of today manhandling furniture around my apartment. Dresser goes here, tv goes there, empty out this closet here, move the entertainment center there. I'm a little worn out and hungry. But I don't feel like cooking. Guess it's time for a run to the border.

As for the home redesign, I got a couple more pieces of furniture to move around and then moving all my books from one room to another. I'm not looking forward to that - I got lots of books.

Baby Steps

Myanmar government allows opposition offices to reopen. Aung San Suu Kyi still under house arrest, but other NLD (The National League for Democracy) officials can reopen the party's headquarters in Rangoon.

The Buhu Boys

Here's another story on Air America's broadcasting woes. AlterNet: Liberal Radio Goes Dark

And to the laddies that read this and know what I mean; check out who's Air America's general counsel.

Iyebuhu.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Japanese Hostages Released In Iraq

The three hostages taken last week in Iraq were released Thursday to Islamic clerics, who then turned them over to the Japanese embassy.

While those three were released, they were only part of a growing trend in Iraq. Over the past week, hostage-taking became became commonplace, with almost 40 people snatched and an Italian killed by his captors earlier this week.

Pacific Volcano Threatens Air Travel

First I've heard of this: Yahoo! News - Pacific Volcano Threatens Air Travel, U.S. Says

I mean, it erupted last year, but I thought it was quiescent now. Local media hasn't mentioned anything about Anatahan lately.

Air America Radio Is Dropped From Stations in 2 Big Markets

Well that was quick. Air America was dropped by stations in two markets after the check bounced. Like nobody on Guam saw that coming.

Whoops, looks like Air America is back on the air after a judge's order. I hope they stay on the air.

MCI Exits Guam

Last week we got new long distance calling cards at work. At the time I groused about switching for no apparent reason to a different company. Turns out there was a valid reason; MCI is exiting the Guam market on May 31, 2004. They are retiring their voice switch on that date, and not installing a new one. Though the article does not mention it, I imagine they will remain in the data circuit business.

When I first arrived on Guam, MCI was a major player in long distance. Back then, long distance rates were astronomical, something like $3 - $4 a minute. I rarely made calls home back then, but when I did, I used MCI. MCI is still a major player in long distance on Guam, so I suspect the decision to terminate the voice business lies with MCI's global troubles and much publicized bankruptcy. This is an inconvenience for Guam customers, but the long distance business is full of competing companies right now.

Homeless On Yap

A reporter from the PDN interviewed a couple families on Yap that lost their homes in last week's typhoon.

Boy, I can really feel for these people, I know what it's like after a typhoon devastates an island.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

American Prospect Online

Jimmy Carter's got something to say about Republicans and the Christian right.
...Christ reached out almost exclusively to the poor, suffering, abandoned, deprived -- the scorned, the condemned people -- including Samaritans and those who were diseased. The alleviation of suffering was a philosophy that was enhanced and emphasized by the life of Christ. Today the ultra-right wing, in both religion and politics, has abandoned that principle of Jesus Christ’s ministry.

More On That Betelnut Shortage

At least the Saipan Tribune gets the idea of permalinks.

CNMI, Guam face betel nut shortage

Betel Nut Scarce After Disaster In Yap

I was going to give a hyperlink to this story, but the Marianas Variety doesn't understand the concept of permalinks.

Marianas Variety On-Line Edition: Prices of betel nuts have more than doubled

By Gemma Q. Casas
Variety News Staff
PRICES of betel nuts in the CNMI have more than doubled due to the ban on imports from Guam and fears of a possible shortage of betel nuts after Typhoon Sudal struck Yap.

Betel nuts now sell 25 cents a piece or $1 per package of four, said Isidro Cabrera, agricultural consultant of Northern Marianas College's Cooperative Research, Extension and Education Service.

Before the ban, a piece of betel nut cost 10 cents or lower.

Cabrera said the CNMI produces approximately 4.8 million betel nuts a year. Yet it still imports about 100,000 betel nuts from Yap every month and several thousands from Guam.

But since last week, betel nuts from Guam had been banned due to the fungal infection plaguing the island's southern betel nut farms.

The ban will last until August, unless extended or rescinded.

"If Guam continues to have a declining production because of the disease that it is experiencing nowadays, it's going to be a big problem for betel nut chewers. Another big problem right now is Yap. Yap supplements the betel nut consumption of the CNMI but as you know, it was struck by a typhoon," Cabrera told reporters.

"Unfortunately, with the big typhoon that came to Yap, I don't think we will get enough supply of betel nuts," he added.
Guam's betel nuts are said to be affected with a fungal infection called phytophthora meadii that thrives in rainy weather and can be carried by the wind.

The fungus can easily wipe out an entire plantation of betel nut trees in a short period of time, said Cabrera.

Those who violate the emergency ban face $100 to $1,000 civil fine or a criminal penalty of up to $2,000 or six months in jail or both.

Inspection

Because it is the nearest CNMI island to Guam, Rota's betel nuts will be inspected, Cabrera said.

"We have to make sure that the betel nut trees there are not infected," he added. "If they (are infected) at least we could do something to prevent it from spreading to other islands."

Cabrera said the Department of Lands and Natural Resources and NMC-CREES are collaborating on this survey, which is set for the next two weeks. DLNR said should the disease spread to the CNMI, there is no method to control it other than to cut down the infected trees and burn them.

Growing betel nut trees is a thriving industry in the CNMI.

Cabrera said about 55 percent to 65 percent of the local population chew betel nuts.

"Every year, more people chew. Small kids learn it from adults. Culturally, we will never stop it," Cabrera said.

It takes about six months to harvest fruits from a betel nut tree, Cabrera said. Thus, sellers import from Guam and Yap during the lean period to keep up with local demand.

Palau also used to export betel nuts to the CNMI but it has stopped to meet the island nation's own demand.

Although growers only harvest betel nuts twice a year, it still brings in profit. Cabrera said a piece of land with 2,000 betel nut trees can bring in an income of $50,000 to $60,000 a year.

Scientific studies show chewing betel nut could lead to diseases, especially when it is mixed with lime, pepper leaf and tobacco. (With reports by Haidee Eugenio)

if monks had macs...

My copy of If Monks Had Macs... arrived this week. It is not quite the revelation that the original HyperCard version was so many years ago, but it is a worthwhile updating of the idea. I am especially intrigued in the e book software included in the package. Sophie is pretty cool; a nice, clean interface for reading texts on the computer. I've already paged through several of the included texts, and I think I will try loading a couple Project Gutenberg texts into the reader and see what happens.

Yap Needs Donations

More on Yap, and how to help: Agencies need cash for Yap aid - guampdn.com

Hundreds Left Homeless In Yap

Sorry for the lack of updates. Been in a seminar all day & night the last couple days.

Here's the latest on Yap in the aftermath of typhoon Sudal.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Free Willy

Holy moly. Check this monster out.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Yap Digs Out From Typhoon Sudal

Today's PDN article has some photos of the damage wrought by Typhoon Sudal on Yap. Tourists on Yap during the typhoon arrived on Guam yesterday, and brought firsthand accounts of the storm and the damage it left in its wake.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

More On Yap

My friend Dianne posted this email to Rodale's Diver to Diver message board. She received the email from Pete Peterson, owner of MDA, a dive shop on Guam. Sounds like things are really bad on Yap.

Relief Aid Arrives In Yap

Typhoon Sudal is a massive storm now, with winds of 150 mph and gusts to 190 mph. Thankfully it is expending its fury on nothing but the waves, whirling about in Philippine Sea. The storm track places it well away from any further human habitation as it spins poleward over the next week. Good riddance.

For the people of Yap though, it is an unmitigated disaster. Telephone, power and water systems all took heavy damage in Kolonia, the capital city of Yap, and the roof of the hospital was severely battered too. Emergency officials from FEMA are on Yap after a Coast Guard C-130 flew down yesterday. Relief aid arrived in Yap yesterday too, and more relief flights are scheduled by the Ayuda Foundation and Continental Micronesia. At this point it is hard to assess damage in the outlying areas because the roads are impassable and communications are down. It was a nasty storm for Yap, and they are going to need lots of help to get back on their feet. I understand completely, typhoons are terrible things, and living conditions in the aftermath are difficult.

HOW TO HELP
Relief supplies and donations will be accepted at the following place:
  • The Ayuda Foundation in Tiyan will be open this weekend. Call Ayuda at 671-473-3003.
  • The Office of the Consulate General of the Federated States of Micronesia will open Monday. Call the consulate at 671-646-9154.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Indonesian Election Results

Well actually not. The results are too close to call at this point. Final results will not be released until April 28.

Horace Bristol Exhibit

Today is the last day for a special exhibit of photos taken by Horace Bristol. Bristol was one of the original photographers for LIFE magazine, and is well known for his photographs of WWII. The exhibit, sponsored by the Guam Humanities Council, features a set of never before exhibited photos taken by Bristol on Guam in 1944. He took the photos just a month after the liberation of the island by US forces. The exhibit ran for a couple months, first at the Infiniti Gallery in Upper Tumon and then in an available store unit at GPO.

I waited until the exhibit moved to GPO, primarily because viewing at exhibit at a shopping mall seemed a bit more pleasant than going to a car dealership to look at pictures. The photos were excellent; prominent position was given to Bristol's "Grapes of Wrath" photos, which served as the basis for Steinbeck's classic novel. I found the Asian photos much more interesting, particularly Japan in the post-war years. And the war pictures provided some of the best photos, like this one below.

© Horace Bristol, PBY Blister Gunner, Rescue at Rabaul, 1944


This small reproduction doesn't really do the photo justice. The man is stark naked and surrounded by the steel, plexiglass and weaponry of a warplane. On the actual print you can see he is drenched in sweat, which is probably why he is stripped naked in the belly of the beast. A look at the caption offers some explanation, Rabaul was in New Guinea so the heat was probably intense sitting in tropical sun of the blister gun.

Tucked in a back corner of the exhibit, behind the war pictures, was the prize of the collection: Bristol's never before exhibited photos of Guam, taken in August of 1944, only a month after US forces recaptured the island from the Japanese. Bristol only spent a couple days on the island, but he managed to get photos of the ruins of Agaña shelled into oblivion by the US Navy prior to the invasion, kids playing baseball in Agat, families building emergency huts out of nipa palm fronds, and the people of Talofofo village getting their first beef since the Japanese occupation. The photos were found by Bristol's son after his death in 1997, and this is their first exhibition.

Big Blue Marks Birth Of Big Iron

IBM introduced the first mainframe 40 years ago, and celebrated the anniversary at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

Typhoon Sudal Batters Yap Island

Typhoon Sudal passed just south of Yap yesterday, bringing sustained winds of 125 mph for over 9 hours. Relief crews are mobilizing on Guam as reports filter in about the devastation wrought by this typhoon.

Good Friday

The faithful erect a cross atop the mountainYesterday was Good Friday, and the usual crowd of penitents made the pilgrimage up Mount Jumullong Manglo. Every year the faithful climb the mountain, performing the stations of the cross along the way and erecting a giant cross at the summit. This year's unusually large crowd was attributed to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. This year's crowd was actually much larger than last year's, a fact attributed not only to the movie's influence but the fact that last year was the first time Good Friday was not a GovGuam holiday.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Extra Extras - Read All About It

Oh yeah, one more thing before I sign off for the night: Max Havoc is looking for Wanted: fit, tan girls in bikinis and other assorted types for bit parts as extras in the upcoming shoot. Casting call is Tuesday April 13th at the Acanta Mall in Tumon. Maybe I should get a bikini wax this weekend?

Guam's Rising Star In The Pentagon

The PDN ran a story today about Guam's image boost with the military. And that's no fluke. Check out the New York Times article (sorry, password required) about Rumsfeld's interest in developing Guam as a larger base of operations. A rotation of B-52's was recently deployed to the island, and more development is planned. "Away for more than a decade, the B-52's, the United States' largest bombers, are back in Guam, part of a wide-ranging drive by the Pentagon to make this island, an American territory, a 'power projection hub' on the edge of Asia."

Ten years ago people were clamoring for the military to get out of Guam, tourism was the wave of the future. Now the local government and businesses are pushing the case for more bombers, a fighter wing, and even a carrier group to be stationed here. Guess eight years of economic stagnation will send you mewling for the government teat.

The Face Of Terror

AP Photo of Japanese hostagesA new and disturbing development in Iraq. In the past week the violence escalated from ambushing and murder of four civilian security force contractors into full scale battles between US forces and Iraqi militia. And now a previously unknow group, the Mujahideen Brigade, has taken three Japanese civilians hostage in southern Iraq and demanded the immediate withdrawal of all Japanese Self-Defense Forces in Iraq, or the hostages will be killed.

On Al-Jazeera, an announcer read a statement he said came with the video declaring a three-day ultimatum for Japan to announce its withdrawal of troops.

"Three of your sons have fallen into our hands," the announcer read. "We offer you two choices: either pull out your forces, or we will burn them alive. We give you three days starting the day this tape is broadcast."

Let's repeat that again, they are going to burn them alive.

The BBC's Jonathan Head, in Tokyo, says that in safe and orderly Japan, pictures of three terrified Japanese civilians being held hostage by a group calling itself the Mujahideen Brigades are a source of nationwide anguish.

Television networks repeatedly aired dramatic video of the two aid workers Noriaki Imai, 18, and Nahoko Takato, 34, and photojournalist Soichiro Koriyama, 32. " Armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the kidnappers shouted "Allahu akbar" -- God is great -- in the video and held knives to the throats of the Japanese, who screamed and whimpered in terror."

In a seperate incident, two Arab residents of east Jerusalem -- one an Israeli citizen working for a U.S. aid group -- and seven South Korean Christian missionaries were also detained Thursday, though the Koreans were released. The South Korean missionaries were stopped by armed men at a checkpoint on a highway from Amman, Jordan, to Baghdad. The eight Koreans were traveling in two cars to attend the opening of a missionary school near the northern city of Mosul, Seoul officials said.

The gunmen dragged seven of the missionaries from the vehicles and seized their passports. The eighth said she escaped when the Iraqi driver of her car drove off before she could get out.

Iraq is not on the road to demcracy, it is slipping into chaos. Pitched battles between US forces and militias, almost daily bombings of 'soft targets' like the UN, and now aid workers being taken hostage so they can be burned alive; it doesn't sound like democracy to me. Sounds like the situation is rapidly escalating out of control.

From Bomb Maker To Bank Executive

Interesting article on South Africa. South Africa 10 Years After Apartheid - How Dipak Patel went from bomb maker to banker. While he might be a banker now, old habits die hard. He took time out from vacationing in Latin America to train Zapatista rebels in southern Mexico.

Eye Of Typhoon Sudal Stares Down On Yap

Typhoon Sudal is big and slow, never a good combination for a typhoon. It is headed straight for the main islands of Yap. You can't even see Yap on this satellite photo.

That's Purty

Check out the cherry blossom photos at Antipixel:

Thursday, April 08, 2004

A Couple Time Killers

My DSL was giving me fits last night and this morning. It seems to be back up and functioning, so let's visit some fun little links:

Gasp! Hooooo.....

Omigod: Browse Top Level > Audio > Live Music Archive > Grateful Dead

Sweet Jesus.

Scarlet Begonias
Well I ain't often right but I've never been wrong,
It seldom turns out the way it does in the song.
Once in a while you get shown the light,
In the strangest of places if you look at it right.


Ooooo....

Guam Is Spared, But Yap Is Not So Lucky

Typhoon Sudal passed well south of Guam yesterday. In fact, the storm veered to the southwest and is not bearing down on the main islands of Yap. The typhoon will pass over Ulithi sometime this afternoon, and that is not a good thing. When I was in New Zealand last November, Typhoon Lupit followed a similar storm track and wreaked havoc on Ulithi on November 25th. The island is still recovering from that disaster.

Guam never got much of the storm though, and the sun is shining again today. I took the shutters down last night and enjoyed the fresh breeze throughout the house overnight.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Rollin' & Tumblin'

It's windy this morning. Typhoon Sudal is passing to the south of Guam today, and the winds outside are about 30 mph right now. Not too much rain so far, just wind. Typical for the outer reaches of a tropical cyclone. Feeder band activity.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

1882 Transit Of Venus

Sky & Telescope has a very cool video made from digitizing photographic plates taken in 1882. On December 6th, 1882, the planet Venus passed across the face of the sun. Astronomer David Peck Todd photographed the event from the Lick Observatory in California. A group of scientists discovered the 147 forgotten photographic plates and digitzed them into this amazing video of something no living human being has seen.

It's been 122 years, but on June 8, 2004, Venus will again transit the sun. The prime location for viewing this event will be parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia. Portion of the North America will be able to view the transit in progress at sunrise, while my side of the world can catch the beginning of the transit before sundown squelches the fun. So I am planning on enjoying a bit of this momentous event that no living person has seen before. I could go to India in a couple months - or maybe China.

Good Vibrations

The Beach Boys are coming to Guam! Sunday, April 25th. Atkins Kroll is celebrating 90 on Guam by bringing in the Beach Boys for a concert at Ypao Beach. Free admission no less. Expect a large crowd.

Shinohara Co-Defendant Takes A Plea

Breaking news last night about Goto submitting a guilty plea and agreeing to testify against former Gutierrez chief of staff Gil Shinohara. Goto admitted to helping Shinohara defraud a local bank. No sentence was handed down yet, pending his cooperation with federal authorities.

Tropical Storm Update

Latest satellite loop shows typhoon Sudal turning west well south of Guam, but residents can still expect strong winds tonight or Wednesday as the storm makes its closest approach. I closed some shutters last night, just to make sure they were working properly. Better safe than sorry.

Monday, April 05, 2004

April Showers

Guess what? Looks like Guam might get a drenching. There is a tropical storm winding up out over Chu'uk State right now. Looks like it is giving the low islands like Satawal and Puluwat a drenching right now, and it is heading our way. Nothing to get worried about yet, but that red swirling on the satellite loop always catches my attention. Maybe I better stock up on candles and water...

The Passion Of The Christ

I finally saw The Passion Of The Christ yesterday. I figured I needed a little religion on Palm Sunday.

Well, it was bloody. Bloody bloody bloody. The scourging was particularly brutal, with bloody spraying everywhere, and gobs of flesh being torn from Christ's back. He looked like a piece of meat after that.

Anti-Semitic? Well, the Jews are certainly not portrayed in a positive manner. The priests, King Herod, the crowd of hook nosed peasants braying for Christ's blood. Not a great day for inter-faith relations. The Roman centurions are not much better, showing a sadistic glee in tormenting Jesus. However, pains are taken to portray Pontius Pilate in a positive light, showing time and again that he did not wish to condemn Jesus. And several of the centurions executing the crucifixion behave humanely, stopping torments or allowing the Virgin Mary to weep at her son's feet. I'm pretty sure the Roman that impales Jesus with his lance is weeping at the end of the movie, while the Jews are wailing and gnashing their teeth as the temple is split asunder. Not exactly a veiled subtext there.

It was also a chance for me to flex the memories of my Catholic upbringing and that oh-so-useful art history degree I graduated with. 'Look! Mel Gibson's recreated the pieta!'

All told, I don't think it is a bad movie, but I don't think it's a great movie either. It is pretty one dimensional; the god-awful suffering Christ endured for mankind's sins. Mel Gibson tells a simple story of blood sacrifice, and his fetish with blood, pain and torment is disturbing. Thinking back, he has always been an actor obsessed with torment and pain. Mad Max is beaten to a pulp, he gets tortured numerous times in the Lethal Weapon movies, and William Wallace achieves his apotheosis on the rack in Braveheart.

I prefer The Last Temptation of Christ, or even the flawed movie adaptation by Martin Scorsese. They both offered a more interesting interpretation of the Passion and suffering of Christ, his life and the nature of divinity. Is that blasphemy? It was certainly a more respectful and insightful exploration of Jesus than Gore Vidal's attempt. But both approach the idea that Christianity is as much the teaching of Jesus as it is the proselytizing of Paul to the Gentiles. Gibson's interpretation of the Passion unwittingly reflects that. The Gospels were written to appeal to a certain audience, specifically Roman converts. Pains were made in the Gospels to portray Romans in general, and Pontius Pilate in particular, as bystanders forced by the blood thirsty Jews into the slaughter of the Messiah.

I think Kanzantzakis' The Last Temptation of Christ is a marvelous book, one that prompted me to read Scripture and try to gain a deeper understanding of Christ. Gore Vidal's Live From Golgotha sparked my reading into early Church history. But I doubt Mel Gibson's gore-fest will evoke such a reaction in me. The first two encouraged reflection and further study, the film bludgeons with a bloody fist.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Google's Original Hardware

Check out this page from the internet archive Wayback Machine: Google Hardware circa 1999.

Oops

Looks like I spoke to soon about Myanmar releasing Aung San Suu Kyi. Now they are saying that the National League for Democracy (NLD) will be invited to talks about drafting a new constitution in May, and retracted earlier statements made by the foreign minister that Suu Kyi was about to be released from prison. The NLD, led my Suu Kyi, won 1990 elections by a landslide but the military junta refused to give up power. The Nobel Peace prize winner spent most of the last fifteen years under house arrest.

Testing From Camino

Just testing this post about Tibetan refugees from Central Chronicle using Camino. It works, but not as well as FireFox. If we weren't forced to use Internet Explorer (5.0 no less!) at work, I would say goodbye to Microsoft's crummy browser.

More On 'Max Havoc'

Here's another shill job for this movie that starts filming on May 3. 'Havoc' brings jobs - upwards of 300 local people will be employed by this movie production.

I don't know. Somehow I am reminded of that Simpson's episode where a big Hollywood movie, 'Radioactive Man', is filmed in Springfield. I can sense the $$$$ in our leader's eyes. Anybody for a tax on puffy directing pants?

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Myanmar To Free Suu Kyi

Myanmar's Foreign Minister told reporters in Bangkok that Myanmar's government will release Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi after almost a year in custody. The troubled history of Burma is rife with violence, hopefully this is a step towards democracy in the troubled country.

For further reading on Myanmar, I found this article by Mark Jenkins from October's Outside Magazine fascinating. Go read it now.

Bacteria Saturday

Since I am on the subject of bacteria, how about a bacteria powered fuel cell that runs on waste water?

The Air Force issued a warning about bacteriological contamination in two popular hiking destinations yesterday. "Maj. Lynn Shinabery, Andersen Air Force Base chief of public health, said two people from the base got sick last month with symptoms of lepto after hiking in the Sigua Falls and Lost Pond areas in late February."

Probably all those carabao running around in the hills off Cross Island Road. Back in 2000 some friends of mine took part in the inaugral extreme adventure race on Guam. They all got leptospirosis after swimming through Fena Lake, which is ground zero for feral carabao on Guam. They were all really sick for quite some time, they stopped paddling for almost a month as I recall.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Shanghai Circus Coming To Town

Shanghai Circus set to swing into Guam this weekend. There was some trouble with visas for the troupe, but it looks like they will arrive in time for this weekend's performances. I am still debating whether I will go...

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Liberal Talk Radio Network Launches

It looks like Air America, the new liberal talk radio network, launched yesterday in select markets around the country. This is the radio station that Rex Sorensen and Evan Montvel-Cohen are involved with. It features personalities like Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo taking back the airwaves from right wingnuts like Rush and that loathsome Savage guy.

Gas Prices Drop 5¢

Mobil Oil Guam dropped their price per gallon of gasoline 5¢ effective today, April 1. This is in response to the rollback on the Gross Receipts Tax from 6% to 4%.

I am happy to be paying less for gasoline, it sure seems suspicious that all the gas stations on Guam raised their prices by 5¢ last Friday, only to roll it back now that they are paying less taxes. Seems like they realized people were willing to pay $2.20 a gallon for gas so why not fix their prices at that level once the tax rate is reduced? What are we going to do - stop buying gas?