Greetings from Boston

We’re up in Boston, attending a planning meeting for Noreascon IV.

During the Exhibits meeting, we came up with another rough draft on
Hall C design:

Jim and I had a fabulous dinner out at Locke-Ober last night, to celebrate our 27th anniversary. When I mentioned that to my mother, she said she’d had memorable swordfish there over 50 years ago. I can report that the swordfish is still quite memorable. Tonight, we joined friends for a dinner at a Persian place, Lala Rokh in Beacon Hill. Another great dinner (and not nearly so expensive as Lock-Ober).

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog

At Long Last – An Honest Soldier

I suppose there had to be one in the Army somewhere…

According to ABC News:

“There’s definitely a cover-up,” the witness,
Sgt. Samuel Provance, said. “People are either
telling themselves or being told to be quiet.”

Provance, 30, was part of the 302nd Military
Intelligence Battalion stationed at Abu Ghraib
last September. He spoke to ABCNEWS despite
orders from his commanders not to.

The Whole Article.

This man may wind up being one of the few heroes in thie mess.

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog

Very Proud to Be from Massachusetts Today! And, Surprised by George Will

(Yes, the title refers to two completely different topics…)

I’m happy that Massachusetts will be the first state in the union to allow gay marriages today. Way to go! This has been a long time coming.

George Will did an amazing thing in his column today – he seemed to be calling for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld! His column was a bit more obtuse than usual (and I don’t always read him as a result), but he did seem to be saying that Rumsfeld had to go for the good of the country.

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog

Well, the Smoking Gun Has Been Found – Rumsfeld SANCTIONED the Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners


Given Bush/Cheney’s hypocrisy…errhh “loyalty” (towards their cronies, not towards the Constitution or the American public), Rumsfeld won’t be fired. And he’s unlikely to resign. This whole Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal is reeking more of Watergate than Viet Nam these days.

Remember when Colin Powell was an honest man? I used to have a lot of respect for him. I read and enjoyed his autobiography. But his public behavior over the last few months does nothing but demonstrate that loyalty to Bush and Cheney is much more important to him than loyalty to the Constitution or the American public. Such behavior is no surprise from Rice or Wolfowitz or other folks of that ilk. But Colin Powell? I considered voting for him for President in 2000. Now, I wouldn’t vote for him for dog catcher.

Those of us who have expressed outrage over the whole Iraqi prisoner scandal do so because we believe in the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the UN and the Geneva Convention. In short, we have much higher standards for the behavior of our military and our government than our government does. We citizens must have higher standards and we must vote out Bush this November.

Yes, of course the Berg murder is even more troubling than the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. There’s an awful lot of disgusting behavior all over the world – in Israel, in Palestine, in Afghanistan, in the Sudan, in parts of the Phillipines, in Saudi Arabia, in Iran and in Iraq. But when atrocities are committed by Americans, supported by our government and paid by American tax dollars, as an American citizen, I am all the more outraged.

I’m also really annoyed by a pro-Bush PAC using the attack on the WTC as the opening of their ad. The spokesman in the ad says he lost a child in 9/11 and he trusts Bush to do the right thing. Invading uninvolved countries, killing and abusing their citizens, trampling the Constitution with the “Patriot Act” is “the right thing?” I feel sorry for people who can’t see through the actions of our appointed administration. I sure see through them.

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog

On the Lighter Side…

Tired of all the political wrangling in the US this year? Vote for the team that’s “Brave. Reliable. Resourceful. Well-traveled.”

Frodo and Sam in 2004


Always look at the bright side of life! (Gay whistling…) Monty Python resurrects Life of Brian!

If you missed it back in 1979, it’s one of the sharpest satires ever produced. Naturally, it was protested and roundly condemned by the people who don’t understand satire. If you do “get it,” you should really enjoy it. If you don’t “get it,” stay home. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, it will be playing out in Oakmont at The Oaks starting on May 14. Gee, I wonder when they’ll be getting Farenheit 911…? (For the curious, abcnews.com did carry the story, but didn’t add the little note that ABC is owned by Disney…)

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog

Shame, Shame, Shame – The Buck Stops Where?

[[This essay appeared in a slightly different form as a Letter to the Editor in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on 5/9/2004]]

Harry Truman would be spinning in his grave over our current administration’s inability to take responsibility for anything. No apologies, no explanations (well, it’s someone else’s fault, of course, probably those private contractors…)

I haven’t been so ashamed to be an American since Iran Contra during the Reagan administration. We’re supposed to be helping the Iraqis understand that the rule of law matters! All we’re showing them is that power corrupts; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness continue to be meaningless constructs in Iraq (and in many other places in the world)

We ought to all be ashamed of ourselves that we have a government which behaves so abominably against the citizens of another country.

Our Tax Dollars at Work...

Our Tax Dollars at Work…

The Memory Hole has many depressing photos. Albarah.Net has some even worse ones (though since I can’t believe what I hear from our government about Iraq, I’m still not ready to believe all of some Arabic group’s propaganda…yet, anyway…).

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog

There and Back Again

Thursday morning, I left for Massachusetts. I’ve done that drive solo a number of times. It takes about 10 hours, and when the weather is nice, it’s a pleasant drive. I like listening to books on tape, so I finished up listening to Stephen King’s Bag of Bones. It’s a fairly pedestrian “small town has a secret and they’re all in on it” sort of horror story, but there’s a pair of love stories involving the protagonist that are really very sweet.

Friday, my parents and I drove up to Vermont to attend my uncle’s funeral. Uncle Winslow had lived in Montpelier most of his adult life, having spent his career working for the state. As Montpelier is the smallest state capital, and the church was all of about five blocks from the state office buildings, the church was completely full of old friends and co-workers.

I want to give kudos to my cousins Anne and Mardie, who gave a very moving talk about their father, and to the minister who had the intelligence to admit that he didn’t know Uncle Winslow, but gave a great eulogy anyway (the minister had just come to the church a few months before, my uncle had been in Texas part of the time, then moved in with Anne a few months before he died).

I really love the recent funeral tradition of displaying photos at the reception. I saw a family photo I’d loved as a child and hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years:

Trask Family, Rochester, VT, Circa 1930

Trask Family, Rochester, VT, Circa 1930: (more or less clockwise) John Crawford (Sr.), John Crawford (Jr.), George, Bill, Nellie, Winslow and Caroline Trask

Between my brother’s wedding last fall and my uncle’s funeral, I remet many cousins I hadn’t seen in years. I hadn’t seen Mardie, Alan or Pam since my wedding, almost 27 years ago. It was one of those odd timing things – a bunch of my cousins got married when I was living in Pennsylvania or Ohio and had no money to travel. Some of the aunts and uncles (Alan’s parents, Anne and Mardie’s mother) died at times when work was quite insane and I just couldn’t get away. So it was good to reconnect with them, even if the situation wasn’t ideal.

After the funeral, I went up to Burlington and visited Anne and Mardie. Spending a night in Burlington was a little odd – I spent a few nights there in February, 1957 as I was born in Burlington but I don’t think I spent a night there since then.

Anne Forcier, Mardie Sorensen, Laurie Mann, April 30, 2004

Anne Forcier, Mardie Sorensen, Laurie Mann, April 30, 2004

We spent a long time up on the widow’s walk, watching the sun set over Lake Champlain. I enjoyed meeting Anne’s in-laws, the Forciers.

The next morning, I took my mother’s cousin Alice Bassett, out to breakfast. She’s probably the relative I’m most like – she’s very politically and musically active. She’s at least 78 and still sings in no fewer than three groups. She was a state legislator for a few years, and used to commute to Montpelier with Howard Dean in his pick-up truck!

The drive back to Pittsburgh was a little trickier. I’d had a migraine overnight, so I was very tired. It was cloudy and windy taking the Charlotte ferry across Lake Champlain. There wasn’t much traffic or many cops on 87 going south through New York, but I did have to stop briefly when a border patrol road block (some two hours south of the Canadian border) was checking cars for illegal aliens. I have mixed feelings about that sort of operation, honestly, but I got through quickly and continued on my way home.

While I made a few brief stops, I drove for over 12 solid hours. While Burlington, Vermont is a little further west than West Boylston, Massachusetts, it’s somewhat further north. So that was the longest solo drive I’d ever done.

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog

Some More Thoughts on the March for Women’s Lives

On assorted boards in us.imdb.com, some of the anti-choice folks have decided to decry any actor or actress who dares to be publicly pro-choice. I got a little tired of this, so I posted the following:

I think both Mel Gibson and Jim Caveziel have gone way overboard on The Passion. It’s not a movie I will ever see (well, at least it’s a movie I will ever pay to see). But will I broadly condemn every action the two do? Of course not.

Vanessa Redgrave walked way over the line with her unwavering support of the Palestinians (there’s plenty of blame for the ongoing mess in the Middle East, and all sides are parts of the problem). But I know she’s a talented actress. While I don’t agree with her politics, I respect her enormously as an actress.

I respect Julianne and Whoopi and Ashley and the 800,000 other people who were with me in DC last weekend. The 200-300 anti-abortion folks who counter-demonstrated our march are entitled to their opinion. I’m entitled to ignore them. This is still a “free” country.

There was a great political cartoon in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about this very issue (unfortunately, it’s not online yet). In one panel, George Bush is pointing at a member of Al Queda and says “The Problem with You Is You Hate Freedom.” In the second panel, he’s pointing at a Pro-Choice Marcher, and he says “The Problem With You Is You Love Freedom.”

I avoid telling people what to believe. In fact, my daughter identifies herself as a pro-life person. However, we both very strongly believe in sex education and birth control. The current administration is taking the hard line against sharing birth control and abortion information. Due to its refusal, hundreds of thousands of women, mostly in Africa, are dying. But, the pro-life people don’t seem to give a damn about the people dying from AIDS, childbirth complications and botched abortions.

The March for Women’s Lives wasn’t just about abortion. If you listened to the speakers, it was about promoting sex education. Of all kinds.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need abortion clinics. We’d have birth control that worked all the time. No woman would ever be raped. Women who became dangerously ill during their pregnancies could have abortions to save their lives without being made to feel a criminal. But this isn’t an ideal world.

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog

A Death in the Family and a Weekend With Almost a Million

I was out of town over the weekend, and came home to find out that my Uncle Winslow had died. It was not completely unexpected – he’d had cancer for a number of years, and had been having good months and bad months. We shared an interest in genealogy. I’ll miss him.

Winslow, Bill and George Trask, Spring 1992

Winslow, Bill and George Trask, Spring 1992 — At my father’s (Bill’s) retirement party

Winslow, Bill and George Trask, October 2003

Winslow, Bill and George Trask, October 2003 — At my brother Terry’s wedding


I spent the weekend in DC, partially to visit my brother Jeff and his fiance Rachel, and partially to attend the March for Women’s Lives. This was the fifth time since 1978 that I’d been to a protest on the Mall in Washington, and it was substantially larger than any previous protest I’d been to. We probably had somewhere near 800,000 people there, meaning it was the biggest national rally ever in DC (yup, even bigger than “The Million Man March”).

April 26 March:  Posters Including - If You Aren't Outraged, You Aren't Paying Attention

April 26 March: Posters Including – If You Aren’t Outraged, You Aren’t Paying Attention

I have been paying attention. And while I was one of the liberals who counseled “patience” at the beginning of the Bush administration, I am more outraged about the tactics of the administration every day. Just today, representatives from NASA were forbidden from making any comment to the media on an upcoming science fiction movie (The Day After Tomorrow) on global warning. Is there anything they aren’t going to gag?

At the March, I was working with Jeanne Clark, who was the lead PR person for the March and one of its organizers. I ran errands and moved people around, and was also put in charge of getting the lead banners assembled:

April 26 March:  Laurie Mann, Bannerer

April 26 March: Laurie Mann, Bannerer

The mall was unbelievably crowded, particularly before and after the March:

April 26 March:  Post March Rally

April 26 March: Post March Rally

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog

An Athlete Who Was an Actual Role Model – Pat Tillman

While I have mixed feelings about our government’s promotion and conduct of the war in Iraq, I think most of us who’d rather not see our military over there don’t believe in condemning the people who’ve chosen to serve. And so, I find the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan this week particularly sad. [[And it was that much sadder to learn later that his death was due to “friendly fire.”]]

Until the Viet Nam War, it wasn’t that uncommon for public figures to join the military. Look at the hundreds of athletes, actors and musicians who fought for their country in World War II. You can’t say the same about recent wars. The rich and the famous avoid military service because it’s a volunteer military and they don’t “have” to go.

Despite this, both Tillman and his brother chose to go into the Army to become Rangers. Pat Tillman gave up a multi-million dollar football contract to go fight for his country. Even more extraordinary – he graduated from college summa cum laude in three and a half years. How many professional athletes can you name who not only graduated from college but graduated with honors?

I hope we remember Pat Tillman. I don’t think we’re going to see other young and famous and rich men go to war.

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog