2002 budget for the United State, some thoughts

While poking around the other day, I came across the 2002 Budget for the United States. There are all sorts of goodies contained within its 241 pages (which doesn't seem very long for something you'd imagine to be as big as the US budget). One of the most enlightening tidbits for me was the, "$14.2 billion increase in Department of Defense spending in 2002 to begin to arrest the decline in national security[.]" Decline in national security!? I had no idea we were experiencing a security decline, no wonder I've felt so out of sorts lately.

Here's another laugher, tucked into page 37 beneath the "Solar and Renewable Resources" heading in the Energy section,

Solar and renewable energy will benefit from the Administration's legislative proposal to open a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas leasing and production. This process will generate bidding bonuses for the Federal government estimated at $1.2 billion, to become available in 2004, which will be made available over a series of years to increase the funding for solar and renewable energy technologies.

Available in 2004, eh? So during the Bush-Cheney term no money derived from the infiltration and disruption of this pristine wilderness will be invested in renewable energy sources. Interesting. As long as we're "direct[ing] research toward the most critical barriers to expansion of coal use for power generation in the United States"¹ I guess we won't really need those alternative energy sources much anyway.

And of course, my dream of high-speed rail development didn't make it into the budget [ed note: not sure it was ever proposed]. It looks like the rail budget is only $521 million (see p. 69, Transportation, Passenger Rail) "to support Amtrak capital improvements and equipment maintenance." Wouldn't a high-speed rail system (like Thalys) reduce aircraft and car pollution by reducing the number of trips made by such vehicles? And improve people's travel experience? And reduce all that "air rage" we keep hearing about? Imagine a high-speed train along the west coast, all the way from Seattle to San Diego. And trains from LA and San Francisco to Vegas. How fun would that be? And fast!

It occurs to me that perhaps I should just move to Europe, where they appear to care more about the environment and the trains already exist.

I love the moon

A proposed new banner for the site, compliments of Jason:


More on the Moon today (which prompted a certain someone to remark, "you should rename your site MoonNut.") Apollo 17 was the final mission to the moon, and on December 14, 1972 Gene Cernan and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt blasted off from Taurus-Littrow to rendezvous with Ron Evans in the command module and return to earth. Sadly, we've never returned. Apollo 17 is the only mission that occurred after I was born, and for some reason that makes it feel special for me, as if I too experienced our time on the moon eventhough I was too young to be aware of it.

Check out this film of their lift-off (3.6 mb) shot from their Lunar Rover, which remained on the Moon. There is just a slew of cool images to check out from the mission. Here's Jack Schmitt with the American flag and Earth over his shoulder. Looking at them it's hard to fathom that all this really happened, it's hard to believe that men actually walked on the Moon.

Do you think we should return to the Moon for further study and exploration?


You can view the results if you'd like without voting.

Not quite there

So the end of the week is here and the site I'm supposed to have up by today is, well, about 75% there but not ready for debut. The backend is taking longer than I thought, doing a tableless, all CSS layout is proving trickier than I'd anticipated, and well, let's face it: I haven't spent enough time on it. So look for it sometime next week instead.


Need a movie recommendation? Indochine is mmmm mmmmm good. The cinematography is outstanding, Catherine Deneuve is beautiful, and Vietnam prior to Dien Bien Phu is something to behold. It left me with some curious questions about colonization. Deneuve's character has lived her whole life in French Indochina, yet is forced "home" when France finally loses possession. I kept thinking, "How sad to love and lose someplace that was never 'yours' to begin with." And I wonder, what makes a place anybody's anyway? Do you have to be the same race as everyone else? Do you have to be born there? Grown up there? Part of the power? Fighting the power? From the locals throwing beer bottles at the college kids where I grew up to the continued global hotspots Northern Ireland and the Middle East, this insistence on owning place sure causes a lot of pain, bloodshed, and death.

I'm not scared. Really.

I'm not scared today is Friday the 13th. Are you?

Allergies or illness?

Some days I can't tell if I'm getting sick or if it's just allergies. Today is one of those days.

The Wind Done Gone

I finished reading The Wind Done Gone yesterday, "The Unauthorized Parody" of Gone With The Wind. First grievance: this was hardly a parody ("A literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule.") I'm not sure if that label was some sort of concession to Mitchell's estate which enabled the book's publication or what, but I would not call it parody. It wasn't even a retelling of the same story as much as picking up where the original left off and provided an alternative view of some previous events.

Gone With The Wind is one of my favorite books ever, I even wrote my senior paper (a requirement to graduate from my high school, everyone had to write a 10 page paper on a topic of his/her choosing) on, "Scarlett O'Hara, A Study of Independence," analyzing the character of Scarlett as the anti Southern belle she appeared to be. (A working title for the paper I'm all the sudden recalling was "Rebelle." Ugh.) I was always impressed with Scarlett because she followed her gut, did not conform to the role that was dictated for Southern women, chose to run her own business, and "unsexed herself" by being "good with figures" (she could add!).

Needless to say, I knew I'd be difficult reader to impress simply because, well because. Because I'm difficult and not a huge fan of modern fiction. I loved the concept of revisiting Mitchell's antebellum depiction of the South and making it more realistic, I loved the idea of Scarlett having a half-sister, it was one of those books that in theory should have been great. But it wasn't. Somehow it fell flat for me. Partially it was just the style (it was a journal), partially it was the voice. The writer was just too aware of the story she was telling, as if she knew as much as we do about the failures of Reconstruction and about the events leading up to the Civil Rights movement. It was fun to spot the references to events in the original, but that was about the most pleasure I got out of reading The Wind Done Gone.

Storm kills mail

Storm + Trees + Wind + Rain = Phonelines fall down = megnut email ist kaputt. Hopefully it will be restored soon. In the meantime, if you need to reach me, try

Was it simply a lack of faith?

So why did fail? Why did any of the dot-coms fail? We stopped believing in the phenomenon, and once you stop believing, there's no going back.

Or so claims Shelly Powers in Death of a Dot-Com over at O'Reilly. I don't buy it. It's too simplistic to summarize what's happened as a lack of faith; heck, I don't know anyone who simply stopped believing in the phenomenon. Perhaps that's because I didn't know anyone who believed in the "phenomenon" in the first place; who believed that everything should be web-enabled; should be put up, invested in, sold, with no sustainable revenue model in place; who believed they'd just get rich after sixteen months of eighteen-hour days in new media blue shirts. The only phenomenon I believed in was the Web. And my faith is a strong as ever.

Webvan is dead

Oh boo hoo, Webvan is dead. I liked Webvan and though we didn't order from it as much as we could have (should have?), I thought it was a great service. The deliveries were always when they said they'd be, they carried the groceries into our house for us, and one could order monster-sized quantities that the local store didn't carry. Yes, the prices were a little higher, but it was worth it. It sure beat spending a Saturday morning with everyone else at the local market. And to think, I wanted to place an order this week.

Crazy about outer space

If you're crazy about outer space like I am, you might enjoy traveling to Mars, or at least looking at photos of Mars up close. Using photos taken by Viking, the Planetary Data System's Imaging Node provides "a global point and click system for exploring Mars." If you look at the photos in black and white, it looks a lot like the moon.

Speaking of the moon, I've been re-watching HBO's From the Earth to the Moon series (it's available on DVD) and once again I'm wishing I'd never strayed from science in ninth grade. Episode 5, "Spider," tells the improbably tale of the design and construction of the "LEM," the Lunar (Excursion) Module. I think that must have been one of the neatest jobs ever: to figure out how to build a ship to land on the moon. Is it too late for me to change careers?

I'm not ungrateful

Someone went to London and all I got was this lousy book. I don't really mean that of course, it's just what those t-shirts always say...I love this book! Spaceships? Robots? Can you think of anything more apropos?

Megan is Not Martha

And totally unrelated...Megan is Not Martha. Lip balm from scratch? Bath bombs? Wowzers, my homemade pasta pales in comparison.

megnut is very boring

I changed the "design" yesterday because I was tired of the orange and the robot. I've got a new design all done in Photoshop (truth be told, I have about five designs at least all done in Photoshop), but I haven't had a chance to mark it up because I've been working on another site I'll be launching (hopefully) before the end of next week. In the meantime, please enjoy the "megnut is very boring" theme. That is all.

Talking cats and dogs, oh my!

Heather and I went to see Cats & Dogs yesterday and it was silly and unrealistic and goofy and fun fun fun. I really liked it. (Who doesn't like talking cats and dogs?) It helped, of course, that the audience was filled with children who giggled like crazy at the silly predictable antics. It was contagious, and I found myself laughing along out loud as the cats drove a limo (one steering, one on brake, one on gas) and during some of the Matrix-esque cat and dog fight scenes. Salon has a pretty good write up about it as well.

If you saw the preview and thought, "Hmmm...that could be funny," I recommend you see it, especially if you like Austin Powers-type James Bond humor. You'll probably enjoy it. If you saw the preview and thought, "That looks dumb, animals can't talk," don't go. I bet it's not your kind of film. When I returned home last night, I found myself talking to my cat (a usual occurrence) but this time, honestly, I thought he might understand me. I even said, "I know you can talk too, you know."

Too many movies

I watched Zero Effect last night and found it quite enjoyable, in a goofy sort of way. It's about a reclusive great detective and of course all the detective stuff got me thinking about perception and observation. I think I could know a whole lot more if I paid more attention (not necessarily know more important things of course). So my new plan is to be more observant as I'm out and about. Purchase a coffee? Note stripes on barrista's t-shirt. Crossing street? Observe couple talking casually on corner. Observe them again at Metreon buying popcorn. Etc. etc. Hmmmm...just writing that out makes me think I may be on track to being a wacko.

Who is responsible for this recent spate of movie-viewing? Why NetFlix, of course. Trusty beloved NetFlix, who I heartily recommend if you own a DVD player and watch movies pretty regularly. In fact, I'm so enamored of NetFlix, I've mangled a famous poem in its honor. Behold:

Sonnet for NetFlix
(with many many apologies to Ms. Barrett Browning)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee for the depth and breadth and height
Your DVDs can reach, when rented on a night
For the ends of Seing and ideal Pace.
I love thee for the level of every film's
Most quiet creed, by gun and barroom-fight.
I love thee (not) freely, as stars strive for Sight;
I love thee purely, as they turn toward Praise;
I love thee and the movies that I choose
From your web site, and with my browser's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With the local store—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Webcam shame

There was a time when having my webcam on felt natural and normal, when I almost associated sitting in front of the monitor with broadcasting my image 'round the world for loads to see. Well no more. Today I plugged in the webcam, and then kept forgetting it was on. Then all of a sudden, a wave of near horror would pass over me as I'd realize its operation and I'd page through my recent memories trying to recall if I'd done anything potentially bad or embarrassing.

Thoughts on the Spanish Prisoner

The Spanish Prisoner was one of those films where I had the feeling they were trying just a little too hard to be tricky (not as bad as Basic Instinct of course). Had they done with one less twist, I believe I would have felt slightly less manipulated than I did by the end. Nonetheless, it was good, and the tension that's created at the beginning of the film gripped me throughout. I also enjoyed the retro-ish feel it had. The sets, especially the office where Joe (the main character) worked looked like something out of the 50's, and Joe kept all his work in a notebook; one notebook which would bring his company riches. How quaint.

The timely thing about my viewing of the Spanish Prisoner was the themes it dealt with, especially trust. Joe was a very honest and trusting soul and his honesty and trust got him into quite a bit of (slightly unrealistic) trouble. I've been struggling with trust issues for awhile now, questioning why I put my faith in people, why I assume people are always good, benevolent, looking out for others, etc. (Turns out they're not, but I bet you already knew this, right?) And I kept thinking, after the end of the movie, about what happens to a truster after such betrayals. I kept thinking, will Joe ever trust again? And thinking about some personal stuff I'm going through I wondered, will I?

Happy Independence Day!

225 years, but how many more?

But by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America. We want neither inducement nor power, to declare and assert a separation. It is will, alone, which is wanting, and that is growing apace under the fostering hand of our King. One bloody campaign will probably decide, everlastingly, our future course, and I am sorry to find a bloody campaign is decided on. If our winds and waters should not combine to rescue their shores from slavery, and General Howe's reinforcements should arrive in safety, we have hopes he will be inspirited to come out of Boston and take another drubbing; and we must drub him soundly, before the sceptred tyrant will know we are not mere brutes, to crouch under his hand, and kiss the rod with which he designs to scourge us."

- Thomas Jefferson, to John Randolph, Esq., November 29, 1775

Living in the wrong year

I noticed yesterday that all the permalink "dates" have been using a numeric scheme based on the assumption that the year is 2000, not 2001 (e.g. 20000627). I wonder if I've been operating under that same assumption?

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