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4/04/09 / Eyewitness

7:17 PM Found on Digg:

I’m feeling a bit unpatriotic today. I found my blood boiling inside – something that happens less than rarely with me as a reaction to news and articles – when I read this article on yet another failure of the Bush administration.

This particular article is about the Department of the Interior. It specifically addresses a branch of it called the Mineral Management Service, which deals, among other things, with collecting royalties from big-oil for drilling on federal lands.

From the article (bold mine):

Instead of negotiating tough deals with the oil companies, officials in the royalties office indulged in what an internal investigation later termed “a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity.” A third of RIK staff members, the investigation found, accepted illicit gifts from the industry. Others “used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relations with oil and gas company representatives.” One pair of government-employees-gone-wild, celebrated among oilmen as the “MMS Chicks,” partied hard during corporate snowboarding trips — one got so drunk at a ski resort that Shell had to put her up for the night in its “Dutchman Haus” chalet — and repeatedly had sex with representatives for Chevron and Shell. The “Chicks” did not recuse themselves from negotiations with the companies. Worse, they allowed Chevron and other firms to revise the terms of 118 contracts that had already been finalized — favors to the industry that cost taxpayers $4.4 million.

Separately, I watched part of a recent 60 Minutes episode about Bernie Madoff. A certain whistle-blower was onto the Madoff’s scheme as far back as 2000, and informed the SEC on five different occasions – and nothing happened. The only thing that brought Madoff down was the crumbling economy, not any regulatory enforcement from the SEC.

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4/1/09 / Fool

10:51 AM A silly idea that came to me while at the gym yesterday:

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3/28/09 / Grab

12:04 AM I sat there, in the rental car in the strange parking lot, waiting. And as I waited, I wondered what I was doing here, in this foreign city, waiting for a foreign body, someone to share a few days with and then never see again…

It has occurred to me that memories are exactly like slides – the kind made from slide film like Fujichrome Velvia. That trusty Kodak carousel projector inside our heads plays them back for us (if only without that convoluted-sounding switching mechanism in play every time the slide changes).

But what if the slides fall out of order and get randomized in the projector in our minds? Slides from an event two years ago get mixed up with one from ten years ago, etc.? The mind becomes confused and disoriented; if the memories are strongly emotive it gets dragged into a cesspool of which it is sometimes hard to come out of; a cesspool of reactive emotions and regrets and (less frequently) pleasures. Longings for what was, what has been, what could have been, and so on and so forth.

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3/27/09 / Dance

12:43 PM New study reveals that crabs feel pain when they are boiled alive. Researchers used wires to shock hermit crabs, who then scampered out of their shells “indicating that the experience is unpleasant for them.”

Quoted from the article:

“Millions of crustacean are caught or reared in aquaculture for the food industry,” he said. “There is no protection for these animals (with the possible exception of certain states in Australia) as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain. With vertebrates we are asked to err on the side of caution and I believe this is the approach to take with these crustaceans.”

Michael J., then and now

Michael J., then and now

9:44 AM Ever since I was a kid I never really understood the appeal of one Michael J. Fox. He was made out to be funny, charming, and just plain cool. I always thought he was overrated.

But recently I’ve been watching Family Ties, and I’m seeing why he’s considered so likable and funny. He’s hilarious in that show and he’s a great actor. It’s unfortunate that he’s struggling with Parkinson’s disease now, and it’s a bit unsettling to see the actor from thirty years ago alongside the activist he is today, because it’s a reminder of the mutability of not just life but also our role in it.

On that note, yesterday I happened to see the documentary below:

It’s about a 30-year old crack addict in Toronto. What’s interesting is that she went to university and worked as an account manager at an ad firm, and now she entertains men to feed her crack habit. She mentioned a friend of hers who used to be a nurse and is now a crack addict like her.

I guess the point is that anything can happen at anytime, with any of us.

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3/26/09 / Girl I’ve been hurt

11:27 AM The view out of my window this morning:

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  • blizzard-like conditions
  • 6 inches of snow every 3 hours

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