Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If we can't do it at home...

...let's try it out on our subjects abroad. With No Oversight, US Army Amasses Biometric Data in Afghanistan | reveals that the US military is employing biometric data gathering to build a database of identifying information about Afghanistan citizens, for the Afghan government.

Barred from deploying such technology in the "Homeland," the United States government is perfecting the technology and procedures in occupied Afghanistan. US soldiers are busy recording iris patterns and fingerprints of goat herders, bakers, women and children, amounting to hundreds of thousands of records to be handed over to the Kabul government.


How long will it take before the technology comes home to roost on the streets of the United States? How soon will "Papers, pliss?" be replaced with the Voight-Kampff machine of our Blade Runner nightmares?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

California Coastal Commission Waffles

Unfortunately, we have learned that the California Coastal Commission process is cooked in favor of developers. (See article here) Any developer can resubmit a project every six months until a mix of Commissioners is sitting who can be convinced to approve it. All it takes is buckets of money, political influence and patience.

This is why development projects have been approved in Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas in the past. The Coastal Commission does not prevent development in sensitive coastal habitat, it regulates such development.

That being said, we do not roll over and accept this. We will communicate our objections to this special consideration for the City, which has already received one extension on the project from the Commissioners. How far does the Coastal Commission have to bend over backwards for the City of Santa Cruz?

When the City resubmits its application, we will be there, personally, no matter where the hearing takes place, to register our disapproval and lobby for a true Master Plan that does not violate the California Coastal Act and does not diminish critical habitat for the Santa Cruz tarplant, the Tidwater Goby and Steelhead Trout, and all other species that call Arana Gulch Home.

No Compromise!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Friends of Arana Gulch Reacts to Commission Staff Report

Friends of Arana Gulch Reacts to California Coastal Commission Staff Report

On October 14, the California Coastal Commission meets to consider the application by the City of Santa Cruz for approval of the Arana Gulch Master Plan, which contains the Broadway-Brommer Bicycle-Pedestrian Connection project, a 8 foot wide, paved, Class 1 bike route to be built through critical habitat for the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant.

Although the Conditions of Approval by Coastal Commission staff are quite strict and mean it may be years before the City can build its transportation project through Arana Gulch greenbelt, we are once again appalled that staff has recommended approval of a project that violates Sec. 30240 of the Coastal Act.

It is unfortunate that years ago the City deliberately insisted on incorporating its Broadway-Brommer project into an otherwise well-conceived Master Plan. In stubbornly ignoring Coastal Commission staff's January 2000 recommendation, that it do the Master Plan first and then return with a specific project, the City thumbed its nose at staff and basically declared a show down with the Coastal Commission, daring it to vote against a Master Plan for a greenbelt. The City deliberately confused the issue and the hearing in March is proof positive, with all discussion about Broadway-Brommer and little about the basic goals of managing a remnant of California's unique coastal terrace prairie.

Worse, the City has consistently lied to the CC by saying that Broadway-Brommer funding was needed to recover the endangered tarplant. All documentation proves otherwise, that tarplant recovery and management is, in no way, tied to Broadway-Brommer. But who listens to facts these days?

Paving the Broadway-Brommer bicycle route through an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA) is so 1980s. How much pavement are we going to rationalize for recreation for humans at the expense of the living soil? This is the U.N. Year of Biodiversity and some still act as though we can go on forever ignoring the folly of more pavement and less natural habitat.

Could the City have designed real interpretive trails in Arana Gulch, enhanced for visitors of all capabilities? Yes, if it had wanted to do so. Instead the City re-branded its transportation project, which must pass through Arana Gulch, as an interpretive trail and pasted on some signage, like dressing it up for Halloween. No matter how the City disguises the wide, paved, bicycle commuter route, to this day it derives its funding from the County Regional Transportation Commission and will be built by the Public Works Department. Transportation. Public Works.

We can only hope that at this month's hearing the Coastal Commissioners enforce the law of the land and vote to deny approval of a transportation plan through an ESHA and suggest that the City return to it with a Master Plan that it can easily approve, under the law.

If you live in California, this directly affects your coast, your Coastal Commission and your Coastal Act. Go to the Friends of Arana Gulch website, HERE, for contact information on how you can comment on this important Coastal Commission decision.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Obscene War Pictures

The Beeb hired a fashion photographer to produce this photo essay BBC News - Today - David Bailey's Bastion of the obscenity of war.

This is what happens when war becomes fashionable.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Thought Police: Twas ever thus!

Lydia Howell points out in Is Progressive Dissent Public Enemy #1? | that the Thought Police are once again engaged in their favorite sport of obstructing the course of free speech in that bastion of freedom and liberty, the United States of America.

Nothing new here. The government constabulary and their hired thugs have always been used to neutralize those who dare to oppose the status quo and point out the inequities of the corporate oligarchy.

Meanwhile, the lies and obfuscation emanate from the hallowed halls of Washington. The New Hope President continues to provide Old Despair. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has expanded into the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, and now Pakistan. Mission Creep seeps under the doors of the White House as the First Creep gives in to Pentagon demands for totalitarian control of all of the Middle East. The Corporate Oligarchy is firmly in control of the seating arrangements in House and Senate chambers. Now with Corporate Personhood firmly in their clutches, there is no limit to fascist control of the United States government.

History may not exactly repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Get some Goats!

This article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel Pasatiempo launches Operation Landscape Goat to help with restoration work details how the smart folks at the Pasatiempo Golf Club are employing goats to help remove out of control invasive species at the edges of the golf course.

There's a lesson here for Santa Cruz City Fathers and Mothers - no need to deploy an industrial scale cattle operation to remove invasive grasses from the Arana Gulch greenbelt, grasses that are retarding the livelihood of the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant. Just import a herd of goats and their canine protectors. No need for fences and fence posts strung across critical habitat. All the goats need is a portable solar powered electric fence to keep them corralled and attentive to their gustatory duties.

Here's a lesson for both the City of Santa Cruz and the California Coastal Commission: Less impact to fragile coastal habitats, and the goats provide fertilizer to boot.

Besides, they're kinda cute!

One Nation, Under Surveillance

Although the Surveillance State is nothing new, as pointed out in Surveillance, America’s Pastime |, it has reached new heights in this age of computer monitoring, street corner video cameras with face recognition software and government agencies infiltrating protest groups at the slightest whim. It's so easy to keep track of targeted individuals and groups, it hardly needs a court order to implement. Spy first, then ask forgiveness.

The big advance in the surveillance industry nowadays is... the fascist surveillance industry. It's no longer necessary to cry "national security" in a crowded protest meeting. Corporate expediency will do just fine as protests against corporate pollution and eco-rapers are sufficient justification for computer monitoring, infiltration and proscriptive incarceration. The greedy desires of Corporate America come first. What's good for Monsanto is good for America.

An America under the constant gaze of Big Brother is no democracy. Citizens in fear of speaking or acting out can never be fully informed participants in their own government. Citizens under the thumb of Big Business can never make intelligent decisions about how their consumption affects the world they live in and depend on for their own lives and well being.

There is only one response to such overt fascist oppression: Unplug the Global Economy. Stop consuming. Stop driving. Grow your own. Fix it yourself. Make do with what you have. Do without. Make it last. Make it local.

Take care of yourself and your own and withdraw from the corporate madness making a graveyard of the globe. Build local community with decision making and political power spread among all community members. Give up no power to any central authority.

There are 300 million people and counting in this country. Even with all their electronic jiggery-pokery, they can't watch each and every one of us all the time, especially if we reject their eye candy and glittering honey traps.

Citizens of America unite. You have nothing to lose but your toys!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Free All Captive Wild Animals

This article:
A Fate Worse Than Death | details just one egregious example of the cynical abuse of wild and domesticated animals for economic gain and base entertainment. There are no noble goals here for educating people about wild animals. This is solely for pecuniary gain, managed by investment companies for maximum return.

Not that abusing animals for economic gain is any worse than abusing animals for entertainment. Both are disgusting violations of basic principles of dignity and respect for all life. Human rights are merely a specific extension of our basic relationship with all living things. We can never achieve full human rights until we first embrace the right of all living things to freedom from human exploitation.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” Mohandas K. Gandhi

Friday, October 01, 2010

WUWT and Climate Change Analysis

Anthony Watts has maintained a blog on Climate Change, What's Up With That? that I've enjoyed for some time. He not only presents good science analysis, of his own and his guest bloggers, but also maintains a light touch. Sometimes a bit too light, I think, obscuring the data and analysis in popular rhetoric.

However, this article: AMO PDO= temperature variation – one graph says it all | Watts Up With That? is bang on!

In my other life as an archaeologist, I worked with dendrochronological time series a great deal, attempting to sift prehistoric climate change data out of tree rings from drift wood and archaeological wood around the Bering Strait and the Yukon River. My experience with these statistical analyses matched Anthony warnings about the limitations of time series smoothing and the dangers of using smoothed data as inputs in further analysis.

Smoothing data introduces intentional error into the datatset, with the expectation that the simplified dataset will more clearly reveal meaningful underlying patterns. In dendrochronology, we seek to eliminate the normal growth curves of different tree species in order to reveal the climate influenced growth variations.

It's important to keep in mind that a smoothed dataset is not real and cannot be used for further data manipulation. Each iteration of data analysis must begin with the raw data, and analysed with an increasingly complex set of parameters in order to achieve more complex flights of analysis. When a smoothed dataset is statistically manipulated, all manner of artifacts and false patterns can be introduced into the results, which cannot be distinguished from "real" outcomes.

I see the same types of results occurring in climate data that I witnessed in over manipulated tree ring data in dendroclimatology.

In statistics, as in all walks of life the KISS admonition applies: Keep It Simple, Stupid!