Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
To see more details, click here.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

330 KB That Will Change History

Kevin E. Cleary

Under our noses, something totally revolutionary is about to happen. Users of the Firefox internet browser will soon never have to worry about paying for Microsoft Word. A program called ajaxWrite (, must have Firefox 1.5 or better) is about to clear some serious space on our hard drives. They are also, unwittingly or not, about to make some older computers usable again, which means cheaper computers can jump on the Information Superhighway.

According to their Frequently Asked Questions Page, “AJAX is an acronym for Asynchronous Java Script and XML” Translated, that means it’s a computer programming technique that essentially allows them to broadcast an interactive program onto your computer, in this case a beta-test version of Microsoft Word. Think of it as being like Willy Wonka’s machine that sends the candy bar through your TV.

The program is a web-based application that mimics the look-and-feel of Microsoft Word but can import and export several other formats, like WordPerfect, Microsoft Works, and others. The application is only 330KB, which makes it smaller than picture files on many computers. By contrast,’s (Note: I have not downloaded and can’t comment yet on the comparison of features between them. From what I understand, OpenOffice is a full suite of programs rather than just one application) download is about 108 MB, which will take quite a while to download if you’re on dial-up.

You can save the files you write to your computer, although the program could use a “Save your changes before closing?” reminder. It was able to open most of the Word Perfect files I threw at it, and it didn’t even try to reformat my resume’, which had strange fonts and a proprietary template in it...something that has freaked Microsoft Word out in the past many times. It doesn’t seem able to open Adobe PDF files, but neither can Word. It also doesn’t seem able to handle WordPerfect documents with pictures in them, but I’m sure compatibility issues will be worked out in the near future. With its currently limited font selection and still-in-development spell check, ajaxWrite isn’t ready for prime time yet, but it’s going to be huge when it hits.

The possibilities of this astound me. Right now, the potential of this excites me more than the actual product; but the concept and execution of it are revolutionary in and of themselves... and it’s still a beta that works properly! If we could pair this with a domestic $100 laptop, every American could become computer literate within a few years, almost regardless of economic standing. Older computers that have been donated to charity can be resurrected and given internet connections for people with low-incomes. Processing-intensive applications like special effects rendering can be paired with this and distributed computing to make number-crunching a breeze.

But the real winners from this concept will be computer users, especially computer users on a tight or non-existent budget. By sticking it to the Man, and ditching Internet Explorer, users can (insert sarcastic finger quotes) enjoy using Microsoft Word for free. This would enable someone to more practically work on a resume’ (or a novel, essay, freelance piece, etc.) at a library or free computer lab if also armed with a floppy disk, or even a free email account. I certainly could have used this when I didn’t own a working printer.

Yuppies could shed some extra pounds and carry around a small USB drive. Firefox needs to add an extension to their browser that lets people open this application within the browser without having to go to the ajaxWrite website first, like how they have incorporated an optional Google search bar. Being able to quickly write a document within another browser tab will make it that much easier and faster for users to ditch Internet Explorer. And ajaxWrite should get its program ready for the spotlight, because they’re about to take center-stage in a revolution.

A Rambling Diatribe by Kevin E. Cleary

In my mind, military interventions are analogous to a sort of booby-trap. Some we have set up, and others we have stepped into. Like that trap in Raiders of the Lost Ark, we've taken the statue off the pedestal in Iraq, but now we've got to keep that same weight on the pedestal or a giant boulder will crash on us and the Iraqi people. For instance, our troop presence in South Korea acts as a similar pedestal-trap against North Korea. They know that if they knock us off the pedestal there, a giant boulder will roll over North Korea. Through the years, we've placed a number of weights in a number of different booby traps, and in many cases we calculated properly, in others we got rolled by boulders.

In my mind, we miscalculated in Iraq, and now refuse to recalculate. We stormed into Bagdad with a fighting army, but not an overwhelming force. Therefore, we had no one to keep order once we disbanded the Iraqi army, and let them keep their weapons. If we intended to stay in Iraq, why didn't we plan for the post-war? If we didn't plan to stay, why did we disband the army who largely didn't fight us? Right now, I'm not even arguing about the morality of the war, or whether or not it was right to invade. I'm merely questioning the way we have conducted this war from the outset, and the way this administration has run things since then. We sent an underwhelming force into Bagdad using the Clinton-air strike methodology (Shock and Awe! Three weeks to Bagdad... Yay! We made it to Bagdad! ...oh shit we're stuck in Bagdad! Whadda we gonna do now?!), but with boots on the ground as well. Unfortunately, we didn't provide our troops with proper supplies like body armor, and we told our allies to screw themselves before we went into the conflict. We also fired competent translators and managers/planners, etc. because of stupid policies like "don't ask, don't tell," which Clinton, as Commander in Chief, should have had the balls to end, but he didn't.

I understand that there were mitigating circumstances that would have held up the war if we waited for the UN inspectors, such as the Oil for Food bribery scandal, etc. But at the very least, we should have had the patience to sort it out before we went and invaded. I think one of the reasons the insurgency was initially emboldened was that they felt we were vulnerable and were trying to restructure their country without help. Pre-emptive or not, I think we all know that we would have had enough time (remember "gathering threat?") to plan this thing a whole hell of a lot better than we did. He also sold Congress (mostly the Democrats) on voting for the resolution as a gunboat diplomacy tactic, and then attacked them with their votes during the campaign because they were stupid enough to believe him, and/or stupid enough to think that they could believably use that as an excuse after the fact.

Now, we're there to stay. Probably for a generation or more, and we don't really have a choice now that we broke it and bought it. I understand that we can't just pull out now, but the administration still hasn't been honest about its missteps. It's my hope that if the Dems get it together, we might see some real accountability, and some real corrective steps. If not, we'll continue to compound the problem, regardless of who we put in the Oval and the Capitol.

If I were George Bush, (which thankfully I'm not, though the money would be nice... :-) I'd throw the ball in the Democrat's court. I'd say, look, I've got two years left, we're staying, so get your hands dirty and help out. The first thing I'd do is appoint Hillary Clinton to run Iraq. Then, when she quit after six months, after giving up on the mid-term, or being unable to run because of her position, I'd replace her with McCain or someone actually competent from the Dems. That would effectively neutralize any chance she'd have of ever winning the Presidency, and it would make the Democrats also share accountability for events on the ground, which would hopefully improve somewhat. Then, to show I mean business and that I'm really sincere that I want this to work, I'd fire Rumsfeld and humbly ask Colin Powell to come back as SecDef.

Condi stays where she's at, and just for fun, we pull Bolton from the UN and put him in as Press Secretary, thus earning the Daily Show's eternal gratitude. As a bonus, we put Kucinich in Bolton's job as UN ambassador. Chertoff and Brownie each get shot in the face with birdshot on televison by Dick Cheney as a sign of goodwill toward poor people, and Karl Rove gets the bump to official Chief of Staff to satisfy the base. For consistency's sake, Andy Card (current Chief of Staff) gets a Medal of Freedom or some other BS medal like Bush gave Tenet.

If Bush wants to silence his critics, he needs to bring them to the table. Feingold should get appointed to the Supreme Court to replace Stevens, and Bush should take the heat from his base for not completely re-shifting the Court, but not until after the mid-term elections. Cheney should bite the bullet and do regular appearances on the Daily Show from now until the end of the term. If he's not running, he's got nothing to lose. He actually seems to have a decent sense of humor, so it would be a way to improve Republican numbers in the 18-24 demographic that typically leans Dem.

I would also take steps to weaken the Democrats by tapping third party candidates for important posts in the last two years. This takes a chunk out of the progressive wing of the Dems, and will increase the viability of alternative parties overall, but not enough to be an immediate threat to the Republican party, if the Republicans get the trains moving again. I'd start with the Libertarians for certain posts, like perhaps head of Homeland Security. I'd put Greens in charge of environmental policy and possibly HUD.

Then, I’d throw some ideas out there and see what sticks: For instance, we also cut a deal with Mexico to absorb them by 2015 as autonomous state(s) in the Union if the Mexicans vote to join. That way, illegal immigration from Mexico is no longer a problem. To even out the change in the House of Representatives, we admit Puerto Rico and all the US territories, and split Texas into five states. This solves the Social Security crisis and the illegal immigration crisis in one fell swoop. No need to build a stupid wall. We increase the pool of legal workers, and the standard of living evens out across the board, and we’ve got a bunch of consumers eager to catch up with their Northern brothers and sisters. We also buy all of our ports back from China and other countries, and put Mexico in charge of the ports. We offer Canada a chance to join up, and we form a North American Union with the same currency.

In the mean time, we work on getting another statue to keep the booby trap in Iraq at bay. When the Iraqi army went home, we didn’t think about the power vacuum until it was almost too late. We’ve got to get to a point where everyday feels like election days to the Iraqis. Those are the days they seem to feel secure to leave their homes. I honestly don’t know if there’s a faster or better way to do that than we are now, but we should start studying why it seems to work better on election days. Is it that we have more “boots on the ground” on those days? Is it just that men with guns are telling the Iraqis to go dip their fingers in purple ink? Whatever it is, we need to figure it out and replicate the good parts. I think the best way to do that is through honest dialogue, not more bravado. Otherwise, that dangling boulder is going to tip over the precipice and crush us.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Totally unmodified

I took this picture at 2100 Lakeside Ave., Cleveland's largest homeless men's shelter. I did nothing to enhance this picture or change the color; this picture was taken without a flash. Just thought it was odd that everything had a green tinge in the photos, but my eyes somehow color-corrected for this while I was there. -Kev

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Digitally Wrapping Myself in the Flag

Friday, March 17, 2006

Strawberry Way

Friday, March 10, 2006

This one's called, "Suck It, Warhol"

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Beach


From the Bizarre Imagination of Kevin E. Cleary

The Luminens reside in the Owl Nebula, roughly 3,000 light years from Earth. The creatures have 8 tentacles, like the aquatic octopus on Earth and the similarly aquatic Maha’ Drawi of the Pherkad System. Their exact physical composition is unknown, though they seem to exhibit bilateral symmetry. It is believed that they are photosynthetic, and preliminary communication attempts have yet to confirm or deny sentience. The scientific exploration vehicle Asimov arrived within viewing distance sixteen hours ago and their latest tach-cast expressed the crew’s excitement at their historic discovery.

The Luminens are the largest creatures ever encountered by humans or wirri. Of the Luminens observed thus far, all have been roughly twice the size of the Capital Complex, Earth’s largest structure. Dr. Lehar I’diiqwa, the lead xenobiologist aboard the Asimov said that the creatures may be communicating with each other, or may be attempting to communicate with the Asimov itself.

“When we first observed the Luminens, they had formed a of series large, interwoven chains which resembled the roots of a tree or the dendrites in human and wirri brains. Pulses of light flashed like lightning and passed up and down the chains. The chains began to pulse as one for durations of exactly 1.618 seconds, and did so for approximately fifteen minutes. The Luminens then split apart and have not been seen to interact since then. We are very puzzled and are attempting to discern whether the duration is a natural phenomenon, meant to communicate with us, or with each other,” said I’diiqwa.

Human and wirri experts on Earth, Mars, and in the Ta’ozi system believe the Luminens may be attempting to communicate a knowledge of mathematics because 1.618 is a rounded form of the golden ratio, a mathematical constant present in human and wirri mathematics. The discovery of potentially sentient life hasn’t occurred since humans and wirri first made contact nearly two hundred years ago. Continue

Liberty Weathers a Storm

Photoshop Foolery

President's Day

Jesus Enters the Cartoon Fray