John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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Sunday, December 03, 2006
Blogdrive and ISS upgrades

 Blogdrive upgrades!
As shown on the left, the co-founder of Blogdrive briefly explained Friday's much anticipated upgrade:

"We are installing new equipment at the data center today and will need to shut down parts of the web site. Shutdowns should be less then 10 minutes at a time."

Tiring from holding the old Blogdrive in his left hand while pointing to the new enhanced Blogdrive, he did not elaborate beyond that statement.

It was mentioned some weeks ago in the message forums that Blogdrive was experiencing some power reliability issues from their data center.  This had the effect of shutting down servers or causing them to turn off and then back on.  When that happened, Blogdrive users experienced problems while the servers had to resync the data across the servers.

California has been infamously known for its electricity problems.   One need only check the headlines or the wiki entry on "rolling blackouts."  While some of the larger issues in regulation and policy concerning the electrical grid in CA may have been addressed, the CA Independent System Operator corporation provides a day-to-day electrical grid system status page online for the public.  The CA ISO still had to issue warnings and alerts on power demand this past year, although they tuck it away in this PDF document.

All in all, things are looking very good for the future here on Blogdrive.  While the Blogdrive Team is not likely to issue any official statements on service reliability that are forward-looking and positive on Update, I certainly can.  My positive outlook about the future of Blogdrive is not simply cheerleading, but based on several factors:

  • When the problems started, the BD Team took immediate action.
  • They spent countless sleepless nights troubleshooting
  • Finding no obvious problems in their software and hardware, they re-located all their servers to a more reliable data center.
  • BD made significant capital investments in their business, buying new equipment

This tells me that the co-founders of Blogdrive and their team of professionals are committed to the future of Blogdrive.  This also tells me that they fully understand that service reliability is their number one priority.

In other power, performance and upgrade news

NASA is launching another space shuttle mission (STS-116) this next Thursday evening at around 9:30pm EST. The STS-116 mission is being described as one of the most technically difficult missions in the International Space Station (ISS) construction missions so far.

While the last mission installed a new set of solar panels, the primary task for this current mission is to basically unplug the ISS from its prototype configuration and start rewiring the ISS for its final, or permanent power system configuration.  The shuttle will also be carrying key ISS construction components: another main truss segment (P5) and some large funky thing called the SpaceHab single logistics module which is a fancy name for a closet in space.

The STS-116 Discovery crew consists of:

These brave, dedicated, and educated astronauts should not only be held up as heroes and people of stature in their own countries of birth, but also for the entire world.  Kids: do your homework, study hard, and take our human race out to the stars.


Friday, December 01, 2006
Phriday Night Phaves

It's Phriday Night!  It's time for Phriday Night Phaves!  If you have a active blog here on Blogdrive and your profile is linked to it with an image, you might be a future Phriday Night Phave.  It's very much like Blogdrive's main page of featured subscribers and profiles, except that I get to add my comments about them and so do you.  There are thousands of very interesting people on Blogdrive, so I am just going to highlight a few at a time.


PROFILE: logansackett
LOCATION: Colorado Springs, CO
BLOG: Herb Thiel
CREATED: 10/4/04

Logan Sackett is the hero of numerous novels by the great western American novelist, Louis Lamour.  Herb is a traditional family man with four daughters, but his fatherly strictness seems to be tempered by a generous amount of humor, as evidenced by the musings in one of his other blogs, Herb's Humor.  One of his entries there that made me laugh simply says, "Aliens are coming to abduct all the intelligent, good looking and sexy people. You will be safe. I'm just saying goodbye."


PROFILE: savedbygrace
BLOG: savedbygrace
CREATED: 3/26/04

I first noticed Rita's blog while surfing Blogdrive to compile my Finding God on Blogdrive list that was used for a Blogdrive main page poll, almost exactly two years ago.  Rita is a devout Christian and an active member of her Calvary Assembly of God church. She often quotes biblical scriptures and shares stories of compassion and faith.  A long-time Blogdriver, Rita has received well over 1000 comments! 


PROFILE: frisky_kittie
BLOG: eKittie
CREATED: 3/16/06

Frisky_Kittie, aka Kat, is relatively new to Blogdrive, but is no stranger to the online world, knitting needles or her many pets.  She recently moved to the Orlando area from rural northern Minnesota.  I'll be watching her blog to find out how she may react to a Winter without sub-artic temperatures and several feet of snow with which she is so likely familiar.  When you read her blog, you may discover why her header image looks suspiciously like the Napster logo.  I think I figured out why she is called Frisky, though.  *couLATEX?ghs*


PROFILE: nicolekathleen
LOCATION: Meadville, PA
BLOG: maybesomeday
CREATED: 6/11/04

Nicole Kathleen has been Blogdrivin' since the end of high school and into her first years of college.  She's young, pretty and thoughtful.  Her blog is mostly personal, but its many entries read like a version of a popular Tom Wolfe novel.  Is she Charlotte Simmons?  No, but Nicole Kathleen has her own story to tell from her experiences at college.  From just a quick glance at the characters that live with her, I think she has many tales she hasn't yet told.  This is one blog everyone will find interesting to read.

I added Malthus
to my Pheatured Phaves.
Check out his very interesting blog!

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Thursday, November 30, 2006
Iraq: A study of oil

 Iraq is no fucking video game
Well, it seems that the President's recent foreign policy trip has revealed the obvious fact that many people in the Middle East dislike Bush nearly as much as people here in the United States.  Political leaders must also sense that Bush is becoming even more irrelevant to the long term security and prosperity in the region.  Even Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki acted like GOP candidates acted earlier this month during their political campaigns and avoided being tied too closely with Bush.  Malaki has his nose in the winds of political change and is hedging his bets.

Here is an obvious observation.  Baghdad is in such chaos that Bush and al-Malaki could not meet there in the heavily guarded Green Zone.  It has been widely reported that PM al-Malaki's decision to meet with Bush in Amman, Jordan caused his own supporters in the Iraqi parliament to temporarily boycott his government.

Dan Murphy reports in the Christian Science Monitor how the Bush/Cheney administration leaked a memo to the New York Times disparaging al-Maliki and explaining options in Iraq even before the President landed in Amman to meet with the Iraqi PM.  This current Bush/Cheney administration has a foreign policy and resulting diplomacy that can only be described as schizophrenic.

Put yourself in the shoes of anyone around the world that has to deal with George W. Bush.  I can only imagine that the leaders of many nations in the world -- friend and foe -- can only pray to their individual God and beseech that they stay in office or live long enough to see the departure of this nutbag and his fellow crazies from the White House. 

If you were anyone living in the world -- besides an American citizen with no historical perspective, possessing the attention span of less than one day, and usually fed disinformation and useless fluff from our McMedia establishment -- you wouldn't trust an American president either.  Dealing with the United States for a majority of countries is like swimming naked with a great white shark whose belly is full of gold.  You hope you might get some prosperity, but you could be ripped to shreds in the process.

Do your own research

Learn about Operation Ajax: how our American CIA overthrew the democratically elected Iranian leader, Dr. Mossadeq, in the 1950s.  We installed the Shah of Iran who brutalized the population with his Savak secret police. Why did we do this?  Oil.

When the Islamic Revolution occurred in Iran, the Shah was deposed and Iranians took our U.S. embassy.  The Iranians held our citizens hostage for over a year.  We have not had normal diplomatic relations with Tehran ever since.

When Reagan was in office, we funded both sides of the Iran-Iraq war.  How immoral is that?  We sold billions of dollars of weapon systems to both governments, Iraq openly and Iran covertly.  We provided Hussein with the chemical weapons he used to kill tens of thousands.

When it became apparent that Hussein was winning the war, George H.W. Bush (41) used his Kuwaiti contacts to provoke Hussein.  That administration encouraged Kuwait to drill sideways into oil fields in Iraq. At the same time, Bush 41 didn't even suggest that Hussein's growing anger and subsequent invasion would be a problem, giving him an unspoken green light.

Why do you think Hussein was so incredibly surprised that Bush 41 launched the Gulf War?  Hussein got pwned.  We got cheap oil.

The Clinton administration maintained the no-fly zones for its 8-year-long duration, and kept the betrayed and very pissed-off Saddam Hussein in the Sunni box in central Iraq surrounding Baghdad.  Meanwhile, the Kurds in the north prospered and Baghdad suffered under U.N. sanctions. (Trivia: Saladin was a Kurd)

In 2000, Bush 43 is (s)elected.  In 2003, Bush decides to knock the entire hornet's nest out of the tree.

Why? Oil.

While George Bush's father called on the Kurds in the north and the Shia in the South to overthrow Hussein, now that the idiot son has Saddam Hussein weeks away from an appointment with the exectioner, he is now courting the Sunni Arab nations in the region to save his Democrusader ass.  It's not going to happen.  He's lost Iraq to al-Qaeda Sunni extremists and extremist Shia loyal to Tehran.  Good job, fucktard.

George Bush and the PNAC neocons who were jobless after the end of the cold war with the Soviet Union now have to live with the results of their ideological, illogical and schizophrenic meddling in the affairs of other nations.  Friends and foes are now simply watching the reaping of the seeds sown by the PNAC poster boy in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Iraqi PM al-Maliki is also a politician.  He knows he has to swim with the great white shark, but he also knows that Bush will be long gone before the hundreds of thousands of Moqtada al-Sadr supporters and his growing Mahdi militia will be gone from Iraq.

When the Bush/Cheney administration was publicly making their case to invade Iraq, all I could think about was how long the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has endured. America is not liberating anyone.  We have an occupying military force in Iraq because the neocons want Iraq to eventually evolve into a government that will be our friend, sell us cheap oil, and oppose the Iranian influence in the region.

Here's the core problem with Bush's victory in Iraq plan, other than it seems to be failing miserably.  People basically don't like to have their country invaded or occupied.  Whenever any repressive Middle Eastern regime has power, they generally only allow their citizens one outlet of freedom.  Whereas westerners have freedom of speech and expression to vent their disagreements with their government, the sole outlet left to many communities in the Middle East to express their outrage lies in the religious sector.  This has the effect of secret, private radicalization of religious adherants.  This religious extremism has occurred in a dozen repressive regimes.

What can we do? Let's leave the Shia-Sunni historical battle for them to work out. They don't need Americans in the middle.  Our presence in Iraq only unites them against our troops.

How many U.S. Marines' lives is it worth to you for driving that gas-guzzling SUV, mini-van, or pickup truck?  If only a fraction of U.S. consumers made smarter choices, our demand for foreign oil would be dramatically reduced and the Middle East would not be the "strategic national concern" that it currently is.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006
GooTube Twosday

Many people are aware of the vast differences between our western concept of law and justice and that of nations using various interpretations of Islamic Sharia law.  Not all nations with muslim populations use Sharia as law, but some nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia are quite strict and even have Religious Police to enforce a strict interpretation.

The following short video concerns one young woman, Nazanin Fatehi, who faces death by hanging very soon under Iranian law.  Visit for more information.

This video is a film documentary (48 minutes) that was recently produced concerning another young woman in Iran, Atefah Sahaaleh, who was sentenced to death simply for unchaste behavior.  Either through mistake or a corrupt judiciary, Atefah was thought to be 22 years old, when in fact she was only 16.  Unfortunately, this fact didn't seem to come to light until after she was killed.


Sunday, November 26, 2006
Iraq: No magic bullets

It appears the Bush/Cheney administration has started to wake up and smell reality concerning Iraq.  What was the alarm clock that awoke the White House from its dream of a Middle East subsidiary of BushCo?  Personally, I think it was millions of Americans expressing their opinion at the voting booth.  It's just extremely unfortunate that Americans waited until 2006 to send a message to its leaders that should have been sent in 2004.  Smart leadership in 2004 really would have improved the chances for a successful outcome in Iraq.  Staying the course has only allowed Iraq to spiral downward into further chaos.

Now that the very idea of a unified Iraq is about to fly off the edge of a cliff, and now that Bush and Cheney are no longer busy campaigning everyday for the Republican party, the White House can now focus their attention on what really matters.  Everyone would like a positive outcome in Iraq, but is it too late?

The Iraq Study Group

The release of any information from the much anticipated Iraq Study Group report was purposefully delayed until after the November elections and the ISG report is not expected to be made public until the end of the year.  Nonetheless, the ISG did meet with the Bush/Cheney administration and cabinet members on November 13th.

Some speculation about some of the ideas that the ISG may have given the administration has focussed on possible diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria.  From previous statements, James Baker and Robert Gates both seem to share this approach.  I don't hold out much hope for direct diplomatic talks from Bush/Cheney neocons, but I do see some opportunity for third party intermediaries to accomplish some success in this approach.

Certainly, if the Iraq Study Group suggested to the White House to start to engage Iraq's neighbors, the administration has started with their allies in the region first.  As the South African based Mail and Guardian reports, Vice President Dick Cheney flew into Saudia Arabia for a one-day meeting with King Abdullah, and another key ally, Jordan, is hosting a meeting between Iraqi PM al-Maliki and President Bush next Wednesday -- but getting all the players to focus singularly on Iraq without everyone dragging in other issues will be difficult.

The Levin Plan

About two months ago, the much-respected and current Republican Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner (VA) and the incoming Democratic Chairman, Carl Levin (MI) visited Iraq.  They met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, and other cabinet ministers in the Iraqi government. I watched their press conferences when they returned.  VA Senator Warner could not echo the positive proclamations coming from his political party's White House. You could see the anguish on his face and hear it in his voice.

On November 13th, MI Senator Carl Levin gave a press conference, obstensibly to outline the priorities of his upcoming term as chairman.  You can watch the entire press conference with RealVideo via C-Span, here.  Iraq is the obvious first priority, and about six minutes into his statements, Senator Levin got unusually animated when he spoke about the way forward in Iraq:

The American people are not accepting the Presidential view, which is that we are, quote, "we are absolutely winning," a view expressed by the President just a few weeks ago. They're not accepting the Vice President's view of a few weeks ago, "full speed ahead in Iraq."

Those sound like statements that were made years ago in Iraq. Those were statements made just a few weeks ago -- ignoring the obvious reality on the ground in Iraq -- that we're getting deeper and deeper into a hole; that we should stop digging; and that we should look for alternatives in order to promote the chances of success in Iraq.

As many of you know, it's been my belief, which is shared by about forty Senators in the Senate who voted for the Levin-Reed resolution, that the way in which we can promote the chances of success in Iraq is by putting pressure on the Iraqi leadership to reach political compromises which are essential to ending the violence, and ending the insurgency, and avoiding civil war. They, and they alone, are going to decide whether they're going to have a nation or whether they're going to have an all-out civil war.

We have given them the opportunity at huge cost of blood and treasure to have a nation, should they choose it. But it is up to them, not us, not our brave, and not our valiant troops. It's up to the Iraqi leadership. Do they want a civil war or do they want a nation?

And, to just to continue to tell them that we're going to give them whatever protection we're able to give them in a Green Zone does not promote the decision which only they can make. It does not force them to take steps to resolve those differences.

They've made promises to each other. They've made promises to the world. They were supposed to consider amendments to their constitution within ninety days of the beginning of the assembly. They did not keep that promise.

They adopted a very formal, signed, plan to reduce the violence in Baghdad. It was a plan which the Prime Minister gave great promotion to, he talked about in public, just a few months agos. When we there on our last trip, the prime minister told us that it was going to be signed that night, and it was, on October 3rd.

Just a month ago, there was a signed agreement among the factions that they would act to end the violence in Baghdad, and in Iraq. They have not kept that agreement.

And so, I've reached a conclusion -- which again, I reached long ago -- that as long as the Iraqis believe that we're there in some open-ended way, that we're then taking the pressure off them to make some very difficult decisions about sharing power and resources; ending this insurgency; ending this connection of their police to the militias; and ending, even yes, the connection between the army, apparently, and the militias, of which there was evidence just in this last weekend's New York Times.

These are significant, damaging characteristics of the current police and army. It's got to end. But, it's not going to end, if they think we're an ongoing, unending, security blanket for them in the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad.

It's very much worth it to watch the entire video from this press conference in order to understand the transcript segment I've made for you, to hear the emphasis in his words, and to listen to the media question-and-answer segment in which he also speaks about the Iraq Study Group, aka the Baker-Hamilton Commission.

Senator Levin's other main priority is oversight.  This should be interesting to observe over the next few years, as Senator Levin will be Chairman of the Armed Services Committee and sit on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  Those future hearings are sure to make some headlines.

Audio Clip Info

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