Photo: Newseum Facade


Bill of Rights
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. – The Constitution: First Amendment (

Flickr photo taken in Washington DC May 16, 2008. Detail of the facade of the Newseum.

Photo: The Gettysburg Address

Washington Memorials

“Fondly do we hope – fervently do we pray – that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.”

The highlighting on this image is a trick of the light or of the stone.  The passage about the mighty scourge of war stood out from the rest of the section naturally the morning we were there, just before Memorial Day 2008.

(Click on the photo to go to its Flickr page.  The Flickr Photo Album plugin is version 1.1)

Flickr Photo Album – Back From The Dead

Flickr Photo Album for WordPress : tan tan noodles – msg free since 2005

This Flickr plugin for WordPress will allow you to pull in your Flickr photosets and display them as albums on your WordPress site. There is a pretty simple template provided, but you can customize the templates 100% to match the look and feel of your own site. And if you want, you could also hook it up with Lightbox or any other number of display libraries. – Ibid

Okay, let’s try this again. I had a horrible experience with this Flickr plugin before and thought I had it fixed, but apparently the fixes were blown away by updates and theme changes. I just realized that there were still issues with it, because I noticed someone accessing a Flickr image on my blog using the Flickr Photo Gallery plugin, and it’s from a group again, NOT one of my own photos. This is precisely the behavior that was the problem; people thought I was using their images without permission, but the default settings displayed images from ALL my public groups. I had to laboriously check a HIDE box, and it seems that all the boxes were unchecked every time I upgraded.

But I haven’t found a better photo album plugin, and and the one by Joe Tan of TanTanNoodles has been updated, so I’ll cross my fingers and see what happens.

After downloading, David will need to look at this page, because it discusses some of the problems of unwanted groups continuing to be pulled in, and offers some patches. The links to patches date from before the last update of this blog, but we’ll still have to proceed carefully. The following seems to be very well documented and the plugin author participated in the discussion. It references some of the Flickr support pages and discussions that I haunted back when I had my spot of bother.

What steps will reproduce the problem?
1. Even with all my groups disabled I am still able to display group pages
and photo pages containing images that are not my own.
2. You can generate any group page by simply entering the group ID: (I am not a member of
this group)
3. You can generate any photo page by simply entering the photo ID: (I do not own this photo)

While this behavior doesn’t expose photos or groups that aren’t already
visible to the public, I’ve seen reports of several people being accused of
copyright infringement because photo they did not own were being displayed
on their blog (see links below). I feel that if this issue isn’t resolved
it may result in people abandoning this wonderful plugin.

There should be an option in the preferences that completely disables all
group pages and all photo pages for images uploaded by other users.

The current plugin version is 1.1, and this discussion dates from when it was v.092 and v.093. The home Googlecode wiki for this plugin is here. The patches that are there relate to older versions of the plugin.

My Peekchures, Let Me Show You Them

The image in the header is randomly displayed from my Flickr sets. Go ahead, refresh! Hey, it’s from our trip to Hawaii! No, it’s Rocky Mountain National Park! Wait, now it’s family members! Yay! Click on any page, gawaaaan. I just hope there aren’t too many clinkers in there that turn out to be resized and don’t fit the frame.

No Photoshoppery needed, I just selected the best of my full size, uncropped images with a special tag, modified a Flickr “photo badge,” and the images are then re-sized to fit the background frame with CSS. Thanks, Theme Hack and Frontender, for the point in the right direction! This will help motivate me to get my backlog uploaded to Flickr.

Crossing The Finish Line

Teh awsum way to cross teh finish line:

I liked this image a lot; it showed up in my feed back on Monday or Tuesday and was apparently taken at one of the last, or THE last, campaign appearances President-Elect Barack Obama made.

And yes, I cherish typing that phrase. But I’m not going to get all triumphalist about the win, the way GOP commentators and bloggers did back in 2000 and 2004. We got a clean, solid win and a number of formerly “Red” states were in the “Blue” column, purely because of a lot of hard work by Obama volunteers and due to the hunger for change (and competence) of a majority of voters (those who were not fooled by smears, frightened by push-poll robocalls, and blinkered, irrational religious fanaticism).

Yeah, I probably read more Huffington Post than I should, and soon enough the novelty of an Obama Administration will wear off and I’ll tire of reading “cheerleading” posts, but this item had to be shared: Gun Sales Soar On Obama Victory.

Really. Some people apparently think that a Constitutional lawyer is going to try to change the Constitution. So it’s a good idea to stock up on assault weapons? Right.

People, we’ve got bigger problems: a crap economy. If the thought of an Obama Presidency scares you, think of this: a McCain Presidency would at this moment be engaged in childish infighting, struggling to keep the conflict between Palin, campaign staffers, and McCain’s aides from becoming public knowledge. Newsweek’s article is just the tip of the iceberg:

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin’s shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

A Palin aide said: “Governor Palin was not directing staffers to put anything on their personal credit cards, and anything that staffers put on their credit cards has been reimbursed, like an expense. Nasty and false accusations following a defeat say more about the person who made them than they do about Governor Palin.”

McCain himself rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign, and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were sure he would be offended. Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech Tuesday night, but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.

I would love to know

  1. who was the wealthy donor that paid for more clothes?
  2. who are the staffers dishing the dirt?
  3. why some bloggers leave out Palin’s aide’s quote defending her
  4. what Palin is wearing right now. A towel? An Alaska sweatshirt?

Some of the second page of the Newsweek “now it can be told” article contain details I hadn’t previously seen in my blog/Googlenews feed. I’d seen the bit about the towel (at least Palin’s a hoopy frood) and Michelle Obama’s distress at the “spike” in threats against her husband and family. But I hadn’t seem some of these nuggets:

On the Sunday night before the last debate, McCain’s core group of advisers—Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, adman Fred Davis, strategist Greg Strimple, pollster Bill McInturff and strategy director Sarah Simmons—met to decide whether to tell McCain that the race was effectively over, that he no longer had a chance to win. The consensus in the room was no, not yet, not while he still had “a pulse.”

I hadn’t heard this before – wow, what a revelation. Imagine if this news had leaked out on Monday morning… we’d have a much bigger Senate and House majority, the precise reason why all this stuff was deliberately kept “off the record” until after the election was final.

The Obama campaign’s New Media experts created a computer program that would allow a “flusher”—the term for a volunteer who rounds up nonvoters on Election Day—to know exactly who had, and had not, voted in real time. They dubbed it Project Houdini, because of the way names disappear off the list instantly once people are identified as they wait in line at their local polling station.

Interesting only to geeks, but I actually made calls on behalf of Kerry 4 years ago with my friend Jill, and we both had similar experiences: kept calling people who had already been called, but not removed from the “Democratic voter may not vote” lists. I didn’t volunteer this time, although I was given abundant opportunities via near-constant emails and text messages from the Obama campaign. We had the free time in October, but were working on the floor/painting project and trying to stay on track. Also, we didn’t feel like driving to Indiana or Missouri. Maybe we could have, but we didn’t We suck. But the third bedroom looks great, and we did our bit for the economy with our frequent trips to Lowe’s.

McCain also was reluctant to use Obama’s incendiary pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as a campaign issue. The Republican had set firm boundaries: no Jeremiah Wright; no attacking Michelle Obama; no attacking Obama for not serving in the military. McCain balked at an ad using images of children that suggested that Obama might not protect them from terrorism. Schmidt vetoed ads suggesting that Obama was soft on crime (no Willie Hortons). And before word even got to McCain, Schmidt and Salter scuttled a “celebrity” ad of Obama dancing with talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres (the sight of a black man dancing with a lesbian was deemed too provocative).

I saw the video of Obama dancing as he walked on the set of Ellen’s show. It’s cute, and he’s a great dancer. The embarassment of “OMG, a Presidential candidate might be making a fool of himself” was overcome by “OMG, he looks so cooooool dancing. I’d dance with him in a heartbeat.” But yeah, it could have played against him in a negative ad… but I expect a fair number of people would have liked his moves and nullify the ad.

Obama was never inclined to choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, not so much because she had been his sometime bitter rival on the campaign trail, but because of her husband. Still, as Hillary’s name came up in veep discussions, and Obama’s advisers gave all the reasons why she should be kept off the ticket, Obama would stop and ask, “Are we sure?” He needed to be convinced one more time that the Clintons would do more harm than good. McCain, on the other hand, was relieved to face Sen. Joe Biden as the veep choice, and not Hillary Clinton, whom the McCain camp had truly feared.

It was because of Bill that I didn’t want Hillary as Veep, too. I did not want him moping around the hallways of his old home, I did not want him buttonholing people or trying to play “The Man” or get himself inserted into policy meetings. And I most definitely didn’t want him setting himself up as an easy target for the Right.

On the night she officially lost the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a long and friendly phone conversation with McCain. Clinton was actually on better terms with McCain than she was with Obama. Clinton and McCain had downed shots together on Senate junkets; they regarded each other as grizzled veterans of the political wars and shared a certain disdain for Obama as flashy and callow.

The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”(emphasis added)

Holy Crap!! Obama dropped the F-bomb! Correctly! In a non-sexually-charged way that indicates massive irritation, and questions the intelligence of the questioner!

I LOVE this… why haven’t I seen this in my feed before? I apologize if this offends anyone, but I f—ing love this. And I do so agree with his thought “…this is a stupid question,” because so often the questions ARE stupid, insubstantial, and a waste of everybody’s time.

Meanwhile, one of John McCain’s last campaign appearances was in Grand Junction, Colorado – my home town. I was born under the shadow of the red sandstone cliffs of the Colorado National Monument. Mt. Jefferson, the gracefully eroded bluff on the far side of the Grand Valley, overlooks the area of the airport, and the airplane hangar where McCain’s speech took place. I can imagine that old Thomas Jefferson, the landmark’s namesake and a proto-lefty, did not look with favor on McCain’s presence practically at the feet of “his” mountain.

Local papers previously predicted that more than 10,000 people would show up for the rally at the airport; but on the last day of the campaign, while McCain pleaded for their help, 4,000 were there to hear him. He drew fewer people than Cheney did on a visit during the 2004 campaign

It sounds like the rally was less than peppy, and in fact rather bittersweet:

But Mr. McCain, in a race that he insisted was tight, went out for one final rally in Colorado.

As he got through his stump speech, complete with references about “Joe the Plumber” and “Joe the Biden,” some in the crowd wiped their eyes(emphasis added).

Chuck Oleska, a semi-retired man from Grand Junction, said he had a mix of energy and sadness(emphasis added).

“It’s exciting because of the possibility that he will win,” he said. “By the grace of God he will. I just wish he had started hitting Obama on the issues earlier.” .

WTF? Issues? McCain was dodging the real issues: the economy, immigration, and differentiating himself from the Bush Administration’s incompetence. This guy wanted to hear more about Wright, abortion, and Teh Gays.

Check out this image, a screenshot from a local TV station in Grand Junction. This is how McCain crosses the finish line:

KREX-TV McCain Live

KREX-TV McCain Live

This is how it ends: volunteers waving pom-poms, Cindy McCain cracking a smile for once (is she thinking “it’s almost over?”) and Sen. Joe Lieberman’s face obscured by the teleprompter stand. A woman with a terribly sad face is glimpsed in the background behind McCain’s right shoulder. And John McCain tries heroically to look like an energetic winner.

I’ll let the Grand Junction Free Press have the last word (ironic title, eh?).

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — At a Mesa County Democrats party at Mesa Theater & Club, Democrat Rich Alward was encouraged by an elbow-knocking packed crowd of people celebrating Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential win over Sen. John McCain.

“The excitement is just over the top,” he said. “Is it even legal to have this many Democrats in one place in Mesa County?”

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln In Shadow

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

On this day in 1922, the Lincoln Memorial
was dedicated.

(This photo was taken May 17, 2008, with many more to come).

The East Coast Trip, Part I

I’ve been saying for more than a week now that I’d post about the big trip to the East Coast we made, and it’s reached the point where if I don’t make a start, of any length, it’ll never get done.

I’ve downloaded photos but haven’t yet had a chance to upload them to Flickr… until now. I’ve made a start at last.

I Heart Maine

And can I just say, “I Heart Maine?”

It’s a beautiful state. And it’s a beautiful state of mind.

We flew into Boston after work on a Friday a couple of weeks ago, and overnighted at an anonymous Holiday Inn not far from Logan Airport. As it happens, it turned out to be on the main route (heh) north to the Maine coast. We had packed fairly lightly, with just one checked bag each and a carry-on; the point was to avoid paying the extra baggage charge. I managed to pack what I really needed for the first two days in the carry-on, so I wouldn’t have to dig into the bigger bag.

One thing that made us kick ourselves, figuratively, was that we could have brought one of the tollway transponders with us; they would have been compatible with the ones all the way up the coast and back. Oh, well.

We drove somewhat randomly, with not much of a plan. I had a couple of guidebooks, and one of them mentioned the knowledgeable people at the big welcome centers along the main highway, and how they knew a lot about local routes and things to do. Well, that turned out to be a hot tip; we stopped at the first big center and after browsing a bit, I walked up to a friendly, greying lady at the help counter and inquired about local sights and things. She asked me if we wanted to meander along the coast, or go faster and more directly via the main highway.

Hmm. “Meander,” was my reply.

Out came the local maps – the kind that come with tiny cartoon drawings of footprints to show where a walking tour or cliffside path patters along. She brought out a marker and lined out a route through several villages and townships, linking about 6 maps (front and back) together. We had only the vaguest idea of how far we’d get, and she agreed that at this time of year, we probably wouldn’t have much trouble finding something – it was before the tourist season starts, but the weather was glorious, so there would be some things operating and open for business.

So we meandered. We found our way to a little cliff path along the shore (David took all the photos there, I just puttered along and watched the surf). Then back in the car for more meandering. We drove out to points where there were lighthouses, vaguely looking for someplace nice to have lunch.


This looks like a nice place to stay, right?

Well, not exactly:


It’s probably a bitch to get to in the winter, but you’d never have to worry about sightseeing rubberneckers trying to poke their noses into your business.


Or maybe not.

We meandered some more and found a funky little restaurant that included something called a “lobster pound.” We had a huge bowl of steamed mussles in a wine broth; the waitress showed us we were missing a trick by not sopping up the broth with the fresh baked sourdough bread. Oh, lumme, that was some good eatin’!


It looked like this out back – I took it to be the “local color” quaintness that is meant to attract tourists like me. Well, it worked, the food was great. It was a little place in Port Neddick.

After some more wandering, we decided to give Hyannisport a complete miss and found our way to a beautifully serene nature preserve dedicated to Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring.


It was a nice walk in the woods, very quiet. That’s where I took the picture of the fiddleheads.


Finally, we decided to make for Boothbay Harbor, because the guidebook said it was a pretty village and it was far down a fingerlike peninsula. Also, I’d read an article in the Boston morning paper about Mother’s Day festivities at the new Botanic Garden there, so it seemed like someplace we’d like to spend some time.

I didn’t get any pictures of the area that night when we found our way to a sort of hybrid old-fashioned hotel right on the inlet. But this is what it looked like via my iPhone at sunset.


More later.

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