Cover image of 'Girl's Guide'

Recent read; shop Amazon from this link (or the search widget below) and support this site.

Other fortboise logs
China 2003
Reading list
Monkey Cage
Monkey Cage
O'Reilly Ideas
Le Guin
World News from:
The Conversation
arab net
The Sydney Morning Herald
Axis of Logic
Baltic Times
Boise Guardian
Community Radio
Boise Weekly
Idaho Statesman
The Telegraph
The Guardian
Information Clearing House
People's Daily
China Daily
Al-Ahram Weekly
Der Spiegel
Hong Kong:
Asia Times online
The Times of India,
The Hindustan Times
The Jerusalem Post
The Daily Star
New Zealand:
New Zealand Herald
The Rocky Mountains:
HCN Goat
New West
Tunisia Live
Saudi Arabia:
Arab News
Sun Valley:
Idaho Mtn Express
The Moscow Times
RSS feed for this blog

Search: logo
Make my day via
My Amazon Wish List


31.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The confluence of the Boise, Snake and Owyhee rivers

My buddy Dan offered me a plane ride, and it just worked out that my birthday was a good day for it. "Where would you like to go?" he asked. With a range of 150 miles from Boise, I had some great choices: the Sawtooths, the Owyhees, the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and lots more. Decades ago, I backpacked in Hell's Canyon, but have never made it up into the Seven Devils above, so I opted for a tour of the Snake River between Idaho and Oregon.

We took an early turn over Lucky Peak to see if anyone was sailing, but looks like it didn't happen this morning (or else ended well before 9am). From there, the tour included Bogus Basin, Horseshoe Bend, Brownlee reservoir and dam, Oxbow dam, Hell's Canyon Dam, the Seven Devils up close and personal, the Grande Ronde drainage through toasted basalt hills, Wallowa lake, the Wallowas and Eagle Cap wilderness (13,000 feet, and a little dizzy holding my breath to take pictures), the Powder River, and then down to the confluence of the Boise and Owyhee Rivers with the Snake. I didn't realize they come in at the same spot. The Owyhee River (on the right in the photo up above) could be mistaken for an irrigation ditch where it empties into the Snake (up the middle); it's brown, narrow, and with crops right up to both banks.

The muddy Owyhee emptying into the Snake R.

This is the neighborhood where they built the original Fort Boise, back in 1834. After it had been flooded out a few times, they figured it was not such a great choice, and started Boise City 40 miles to the east. The islands and braided channel of the Snake below the confluence are hints that the rivers were not always as controlled as they are now.

Thanks for a great ride, Dan!

30.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

To paraphrase a bad lawyer joke, What's another way to describe a $5.4 million fine for junk faxes? "A good start."

If they get what's coming to them under the law, the fines would be over $2 trillion!

29.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Now that the New York Times has reported on a Harvard Law School study of Saudia Arabia's censoring of the internet, will Saudia Arabia have to censor them, too? The list of what they don't want to let in is long and varied: access to marijuana seeds, Altavista translations, Amnesty International, The Saudi Institute, seeming every faith including their own (Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Baha'i, Islamic religious sites), along with the more traditional social evils of pornography, entertainment, drugs, bombs, alcohol, and gambling. Forget about the Saudi Institute; 400 years of history of women's rights; support and advice for women, Planned Parenthood, The Rolling Stone; Warner Brothers Records....

Imagine living your life in fear of all those thoughts. Then imagine living your life in fear of any one else having any of those thoughts.

Having trouble keeping up with your reading? (I know I am.) Put yourself in the Washington Post's position of going through thousands of pages of Worldcom documents, dredging up the "widespread internal chicanery and corruption" of their recent history.

San Antonio tops the list of sweaty cities, just in case you were wondering.

Spam, spam, spam and more spam. It's up to a third of all email traffic now, they say. At work it's running from 75 to 90% of the messages I receive. At home, Brightmail (aka Earthlink's spaminator) is filtering out most of it, and only 5-10% of my messages are garbage.

Today's quote of the day comes from Senator Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyoming): "In your country club, your church and business, about 15 percent of the people are screwballs, lightweights and boobs and you would not want those people unrepresented in Congress."

With Phil Gramm, Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond all on the way out, there may be some slack to pick up.

Tom Turner's latest dispatch from Johannesburg: the dog days, scratching for some news to report.

28.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Suppose you're hanging around with your buds 200,000 years ago, when suddenly you mutate, and you can speak. What explanation do you offer yourself for this? I'm guessing it was the first rationalization: "I'm pretty damn smart," you'd say, rather than "hey, I'm a mutant!"

Beware the face-clawing monster. Fear itself may be all we have to fear, but that seems persistent enough.

Being a mechanical engineer and all, I understand the general principle behind a solar-powered refrigerator, but how do you keep stuff from spoiling through a bout of cloudy weather? Or long nights?

27.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Be The First...Do Something New...Save the World Hmm, or at least take a poll. "PoliticsOnline is VERY pleased to announce the first Online Global Poll on the Environment and Sustainable Development, which is being conducted for the UN Earth Summit in Johannesburg being held Aug 23 - Sept 4."

I found it a bit long, but interesting to see my own responses, and I signed up to see everyone else's when it's done.

The first of what one hopes are many court rulings against this administrations usurpation of extra-Constitutional power: "The federal appeals court in Cincinnati declared yesterday that the Bush administration acted unlawfully in holding hundreds of deportation hearings in secret based only on the government's assertion that the people involved may have links to terrorism."

The telecom bubble story gets deeper and uglier. Gretchen Morgenson, reporting in the NY Times, describes incredible deals fueled by greed taken to a fever pitch. The online version doesn't include (or link to) the accompanying sidebar, titled "Bubble Beneficiaries," and listing telecom execs "net proceeds" from selling company stock over the last 3½ years... it runs the length of the page, starting with Philip F. Anschutz of Qwest at 1.45 billion dollars (head and shoulders above 2nd place John C. Malone of AT&T, at only $340 mil), on down to Blake O. Fisher Jr. of McLeodUSA at a paltry $9.5 million.

Two days later, another story by Ms. Morgenson, detailing the sweet IPO deals that the big boys sucked in. In '96 and '97 (remember "irrational exuberance"?), initial public offering allocation given to WorldCom officers and directors netted more than half a million bucks. On the first day.

It's a bit close to the deadline, but there's still time to sign the petition against going to war with Iraq. Imagine me on the same side of an issue as Brent Scowcroft, Chuck Hagel, Henry Kissinger and Dick Armey.

Meanwhile, George Bush channels George Orwell. (Reality check: if we were really at war, Congress would have declared it, right?)

25.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Sometime's it's not one bumper sticker by itself, but the combination that catches the eye:
WILD WOMEN don't get the blues
JERK Kempthorne
The last one a rhyme on our governor, Dirk.

Then there was this one:

A whacked out mullein flower spike at Lucky Peak. Herbicide?

Walking out to my car with the NY Times in hand, two birds fluttering overhead caught my eye. It was a peregrine falcon chasing down a pigeon, apparently not having finished the job with the stoop. The falcon hovered about 20 feet over my head, spread its wings and tail feathers fully, and then was gone over the cornice. Gave me a thrill!

Randy Stapilus' Ridenbaugh Press has its 2nd annual 100 most influential Idahoans list up. 16 newcomers. Helen Chenoweth-Hage is down from 21 to 97. Let's hope she's off the list next year. She could be influential in Nevada, maybe.

I suspect the list has been up for a while; the other stuff on the site seems to be from January and February, so it's going a bit stale. Too bad, because Randy's always had an interesting and thoughtful take on local events. Somebody needs to turn him on to blogging.

Access log check: this isn't a disturbing search request, but it is pretty bizarre - "q=circumlocutions OR manometers OR boise OR nipponize OR transitiveness"

Political web info is meta-political: looking at who's doing what with the web for political campaigns. The front page graph today shows more challengers for governor having websites than incumbents, oddly. They want us to come back weekly to see what's new.

The basic features that are missing in most cases are amazing: party affiliation, calendar, voter registration information, privacy policy. A quarter of the sites don't have email addresses for the campaign.

From Shelley Powers via Dave Winer: "A fantastic weblog covering the World Summit on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg, South Africa."

Comprise, comprise, comprise, comprise, I'm getting so tired of seeing this word used incorrectly. If it would stop happening, I could stop paying attention. Here's the secret, so you can share my obsession: substitue "contain" where you want to use comprise, and if it still says what you mean, you used it correctly. The whole comprises its component parts. The parts compose the whole.

There, I feel better now.

Kuro5hin offers up an interesting op-ed on the question of whether the US attacking Iraq could be a just war. Five criteria, reasons to say "yes" and "no" on each so you can make up your mind. I say hell no, as things sit. Just for the novelty of it, maybe we should require that Congress declare war this time (as the fusty old document, The Constitution, requires) before we send in the marines on one man's say-so. At least that would allow some semblance of public participation.

TomPaine's POV is that we the people need to send a clear message on election day: "attacking a Muslim country at this point in time will put us and our families in danger." To say nothing of costing $80 billion.

Another from kuro5hin: Libertarian praise for Microsoft is misguided.

Lawrence Lessig proposes a dramatic change in copyright law for software: "an initial term of 5 years, renewable once." In the climate that gave us the DMCA and the Mickey Mouse copyright act, the chances of that happening seem with rounding error of zero, but it seems like a good starting point for a discussion. When will software grow up?

23.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Jeanette came back from this year's ACTF Regionals with her own critical acclaim for The Laramie Project. The howls of protest about the University of Maryland's plan to use it for campus-wide reading are pretty interesting. "The bringing of The Laramie Project to campus sounds for all the world as if the university is attempting to impose an orthodoxy of belief in favor of homosexuality, coercing students to accept one particular side of a hotly contested political and, indeed, religious subject," said Stephen M. Crampton, chief counsel for the American Family Association, based in Tupelo, Miss.

Bringing one work to all of the campus is imposing orthodoxy? Maybe the AFA could come up with a similarly powerful work and do their own distribution. Their last publicity stunt, trying to block a book about the Qur'an at the U of N.Carolina has already fizzled.

Here's what Jeanette had to say about the play: The Laramie Project is an honest report of the community's response to the killing of Matthew Shepherd. I saw it and found it powerful drama and a powerful documentary. One of the people portrayed in the play, the chairwoman of the theater department at the university, Rebecca Hilleger, told me that the play captures not just her own experience but the changes that the community went through very accurately. Many still do not wish to see or understand that situation or others like it."

Paul Krugman: CEO pay is limited by the "outrage constraint" and boosted through the use of "camouflage" by boards of directors.

And another: savings on veteran's health care with a "don't tell" policy; Idaho did this very thing with some of their state benefits. Budget security through obscurity.

Clearing the way for our President, with riot police, rubber bullets and pepper spray. He was out in our neighborhood to promote cutting trees down before they burn.

Bill Moyers' NOW had several interesting segments tonight, including one featuring Mike Hanley, Owyhee rancher, speaking his piece on resource management, as contrast to Martha Hahn, who left her job as local head of the BLM rather than be transferred to Ellis Island, as the Bush administration guts three decades of environmental laws, from within the bureaucracy. (The transcript isn't up yet, though. They do have the transcript for a previous piece about NAFTA's Chapter 11, allowing corporations to sue US governments to have their way, overturn jury verdicts and the like. Have you heard the one about Methanex - a Canadian company - trying to force California to keep buying MTBE, or give it a billion dollar payoff?)

Next week, they'll be at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, even though our President won't be there. (Conflict with a tee time? Wasn't important enough for the leader of the free world?) Like any self-respecting summit, it has its own website, of course. (There's also this one, "the only official website of the Johannesburg World Summit Company"? The other is the UN's official site.)

22.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Opera v6 has a feature that has it start up wherever you left off; if you have no pages open, it'll open with a blank window, and if you have several pages open, it'll bring them up again. When it crashes (which happens once in a while, but not too often), it gives the option of starting where it left off, or not. Nice things.

I mention that because I found this page a couple days ago, and had got around to reading it, just carrying it forward. Today I read the Missoulian's capsule history of the Montana Power company, and found out why Ryan dam got that name: John Ryan was the president of Anaconda, and of Montana Power, and with his companies pretty much controlled the state for a good long while.

As a nice touch, the beautiful island park below the Great Falls (on which Ryan dam sits) has an electric kitchen in a small building, open to picnickers.

That page is part of a larger feature the Missoulian did in early 2001. PPL (once Pennsylvania Power and Light) bought up Montana Power's power plants and energy marketing and trading operation during Montana's deregulation, and what was left became part of NorthWestern Energy, in a deal that closed in March, 2002.

The timeline, ends with NorthWestern Energy, of which Montana Power has become a telecom subsidiary. (Touch America's latest results don't look too good, either.) The first story summarizes the big picture as: "Montana's only Fortune 500 company spun itself into something unrecognizable in a matter of months after a century of dominating the state's political and economic structure." The whole set of articles is well worth reading.

Of course, the story isn't over, with the corporate fingerpointing now taking center stage.

XML you later, with a cutting edge resume.

Bruce Schneier explains Palladium and the TCPA as best he can. "Lots of information about Pd will emanate from Redmond over the next few years, some of it true and some of it not. Things will change, and then change again. The final system may not look anything like what we've seen to date."

If he's read through all those links, he's read a lot more than me. He's undoubtedly smarter than me, too, so you should read what he has to say.

Bob Cringely tells us "Wal-Mart isn't really a retailer at all as much as it is an IT organization."

20.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

As promised, a couple pictures from the last trip:

Limber pine snag in a pahoehoe crack

At Craters of the Moon National Monument, this limber pine (Pinus flexilis) shows the minimum age of the lava flow: a couple hundred years. Other dating methods give an estimated age of the lava of 2,000 years, about the same as the eruption cycle. We're due for more cinder cones, spatter cones and lava! (Image linked to a larger version.)

A Montana farm's grain elevator, east of Great Falls

This small grain elevator caught my eye in the afternoon light, on the road to Ryan dam. It's been a long time since I've been out on the plains!

Looking for facts? The CIA's Factbook has a ton of 'em.

Reviewing the essential facts of the US turns up some gems, such as the fact that we have 29 km of "border" with Cuba at Guantanamo Bay, although since we're leasing the property for the naval base, it's really still Cuba. I thought it was illegal to do business with Cuba...

The elements selected to include in the map of the US are interesting, as is the final "transnational issues" section. That north-trending section at the small end of the Missouri river is where we were this weekend. My own map would have included the Columbia River, and the San Francisco Bay, I think, or at least a little bit more coastline detail.

The new inkwell: electrical outlets and data ports. The network may be enticing longer than Frank Gehry's aesthetic. One wonders if the teachers who will perform in the rooms described will be as cool as the technology.

19.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Where have I been? you may be wondering. I've been over the Rockies and far away, to Jeanette's high school reunion in Great Falls, Montana. We had a great time taking two days to get there, with stops at Craters of the Moon National Monument, Stoddard Creek campground in the Targhee National Forest, and the great Beaverhead County museum in Dillon, Montana.

We saw the newly enlarged Charlie Russell museum and the new Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, the Ulm Pishkun ("Buffalo Jump") and the last two dams of the Great Falls of the Missouri, Ryan and Morony, with a delightful geology lesson all along the way from Jeanette's old friend and my new friend, David Baker.

The Missouri River below the Great Falls

I'll get some pictures up tomorrow (we drove all the way from Great Falls to Boise, today -- 614 miles)... but the word picture that occurs to me is this: standing on the bank of the Missouri River below Morony dam, looking at the rapids dropping into the distant meanders, and thinking about the Lewis and Clark expedition making their way up river to that point, not quite 200 years ago... to find the Great Falls of the river, impassable cataracts that forced an 18-mile portage over the plateau above. It's an amazing thing to feel history like that.

14.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Judge Winmill (great name for a judge, eh?) says that the feds can't make high level radioactive waste go away with a magic wand and incantation; they actually have to defend their reclassification in court. Seems reasonable to the people who are hosting the waste, in Idaho, Washington and South Carolina.

Maarten Rutgers has some interesting science visuals, such as vortex streets. The pages take a while to load with a slow connection though - MBs of Quicktime movies embedded in there. (I don't have Quicktime, trying to minimize the number of things that can go wrong with my flaky old O/S... and the damn thing loads the whole 0.9MB and 1.7MB videos before telling me "whoops, do you want to go get Quicktime now?")

Another good (and much smaller) one is "Sand" under "Fun." What happens to a latex glove full of sand when you take the air out? (And what made them ask that question?!)

More science: A new, and elegant method for testing if a number is prime.

And pseudoscience: Bigfoot at 50, Evaluating a Half-Century of Bigfoot Evidence.

13.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Hadn't heard much from or about Phil Greenspun since he and ARS Digita parted ways (and then the company parted with existence). Looks like he's still teaching interesting classes at MIT, among other things. The "Writeup" section of his Internet Application course workbook is a good read. It includes his capsule summary of the rise and fall of the company.

HP and the bug hunters declare a truce.

Will apartment inspections become a way of life? This story is way over the top; do you suppose this is really going on?

The TIPS program is real enough, at least, so we need to ask who will watch the watchers? The ACLU, for one.

Now it's $7.1 billion in irregularities. That's before the write-off of more than $50 billion for "reduced value of past acquisitions." Worldcom is definitely raising the bar on corporate fraud.

If all those GOP candidates start sounding the same after a while, it might be because they're all reading from the same book. I don't suppose this is the first time (or party) this has happened...

My hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is near the top of the segregation "dissimilarity index" chart, right along with New York and Chicago. Boise, Idaho is near the bottom, right near Fayetteville, North Carolina. But our percentage of blacks (less than 0.5%) and theirs (>33%) make the 37-38 index ratings mean something very different, I imagine.

It all started with a dispute over storm door window mullions. (what th...?) Now they're headed for State Superior Court.

Maureen Dowd wonders who's going to lead the 2004 GOP ticket.

Dispatch from London: Regime Change Needed for One Rogue State. "Its government has no majority. It refuses arms monitoring. Its opponents are locked up without trial. But given time, this rogue superstate might take its place once again among the family of peace-loving nations."

Genetically modifed organisms aren't going to wait for a democratic green light before doing what they do: regulations will be moot after they take over.

12.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

For those regular readers out there (both of you?), you may be wondering where I've been. Offline for a whole week! Seems incredible, I suppose, but I actually did not use a computer from Tuesday through Sunday afternoon. When I did fetch my email, I skimmed the 80 messages for the non-list, non-automated stuff and left the rest for later. What could make me feel this way?

Music, and lots of it, at the 20th annual conference of the UU Musician's Network, in Vancouver B.C. We sang and danced, and read through a ton of choral music, we had workshops on movement, and composing, conducting, and song leading, we had studied and improvised performances, we had a talent show, we had good fun and good company, we cruised around Vancouver harbor one evening, singing almost the whole way, and we raised the roof at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver Sunday morning, with the place half full of choir, and half full of congregation. We said goodbye to many new friends (72 out of 220 of us at the conference for the first time), until we meet again.

Of all our cultural strengths, respect for our elders is not all that high on the list. But with technology, if we have ears to hear (or eyes to read), we can share the words of a 92-year-old grandmother more widely than ever before. Granny D is worth paying attention to.

"If any of you out there are tipster spies, make a report on what I just said and send it to your block captains. Let them put me in jail. It won't be the first time, and I always meet interesting people there."

The MEs at Stanford got a new lab, where they can do things like measure the adhesive force of a gecko's foot hair.

Here's a surprise: when it comes to ownership stakes in the companies they manage, "the relationship between executives' stock holdings and their companies' performance is so close to zero that it is zero in statistical terms."

In Japan, they're giving you a number and takin' way your name. Well, you get to keep the name, but I just heard the theme song from "Secret Agent" when I read this piece. Japanese cows get 10 digit numbers, the people get 11. And over here, we have to settle for only 9!

The response -- civil disobedience -- is remarkable in a culture where obedience is valued more highly than personal freedom.

One view from outside our borders: "The only safe and sensible response to American power is a policy of non-cooperation."

3.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A dip into Digital Atlas of Idaho turned up fun facts to know and tell about our watershed: the Boise river drainage comprises more than 4,000 square miles in southwestern Idaho and 240 alpine lakes in addition to its 3 big reservoirs. It starts 10,000 feet above sea level, and ends at the Snake River, 8,000 feet lower.

It was cleanup day at fortboise, and Jeanette came across the paper copy of David Brooks' review of Richard Posner's book, "Public Intellectuals." I haven't seen any reason yet to want to read the book itself, but the panoply of reviewer comments is vastly entertaining. Posner is "alarmingly prolific" and his book "has been catnip to journalists and intellectual scorekeepers, who have been bickering over the standings for weeks," according to William Grimes. Is it satire? Reputational suicide? Or "intense and studious," "brilliant with energy, commitment and proper zeal," "surgically ironic," "delightful," "limpid and muscular"? Of course, the publisher's own collection of pull-out quotes from reviewers might be suspect. They included what they could from Brooks that made it sound appealing, which took some careful editing.

His grades collected by complete-review ranged from A to F with a lot of '.'s (couldn't assess? Didn't actually read? Incomplete?) and a D+ to C- average. (But Brooks giving him a C? Must be grading on the curve.) Under their "consensus" summary, they note: "No consensus, but pretty much everyone finds it to be a nutty undertaking -- and some are absolutely horrified." Well, what the heck, go read the book and write your own review, and send me (and complete-review) a copy, would you?

It did occur to me that the list of top intellectuals (and more particularly, the flap around it) bears an uncanny resemblence to the posturing in the blogosphere and Google ratings. In fact, Google ratings are such a list, compiled and maintained more rigorously than Posner is able to. (His link to "data for projects" on the book is a dead end. Apparently his brilliance doesn't extend to website maintenance.)


Is Reddy Kilowatt an orphan? The link to the supposed "exclusive" owner, Northern States Power Company, redirects to Xcel Energy, which features nothing about Reddy that I could find, and a comparatively lifeless abstract sperm/minnow chasing thing for a logo. (Their investor information makes it clear they have more important things on their mind at the moment than where's Reddy.)

According to legend, Reddy's from Alabama, but he's been seen travelling around quite a bit, showing up in some places as unlikely as the Gallery of Regrettable Food. And shouldn't Viridian Design's makeover design contest be over by now?

The latest JOHO examines the question of whether we're in an age of information scarcity or abundance, after Hubert Dreyfus argued for the former. I would've thought the answer was obvious (and so not interesting), but it looks like I was wrong about at least one of those two notions.

Also in that issue, this useful explanation of why the near-perfect Google is not perfect: "Jon, correctly guessing that I'll be drawn to his coinage "linktoitiveness" the way an Atlantic City mayor is drawn to a hotel room with a suitcase of money on the bed and a two-way mirror on the wall, suggests that being linked-to is not the only mark of page quality. We know empirically that it's a damn successful heuristic, but we also know that the system can be gamed and that the most popular kids aren't the only ones you ever want to eat lunch with."

Arnold Kling's bottom line: blogging is not a fad.

PC Magazine's publisher, Ziff Davis, is a shadow of its former self - almost 2/3rds of its employees gone in the last year. Bankruptcy is next, in the coming week. Wonder if I'll see the end of our subscription? It started when Jeanette was given a "use 'em or lose 'em" deal for her account with United Airline's MileagePlus program, years back.

I see that RIAA has a convenient mechanism for reporting piracy. I'm doing my part as a responsible citizen, and just send this report to

It seems that your web page, seeks to redefine all copying as piracy. This itself is an act of piracy, as it subverts the Fair Use provision of Copyright law.

The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act is also an act of piracy, extending the intent and effect of Copyright law far beyond what was intended by its originators, and denying the public the value it deserves for the extending of limited protection to copyright holders for a reasonable time. Artists who are 50 years dead do not have the ability to "hone their craft, experiment, create, and thrive," and no hijacking of copyright law can give it to them.

It also appears that the RIAA and its fellow travelers have successfully boarded and scuttled Internet Radio, but it is not yet clear whether this was an act of piracy or blatant stupidity against your own best interests.

Thank you for your prompt attention to these matters.

Pull over, buddy, we need you to take a survey. I wonder if anybody invoked the 5th amendment on that one.

My site has no business model, either, but my blog is not nearly as photogenic as

The diagram that makes complete sense of everything in the corporate economy at the moment, thanks to Mark Poyser

2.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The SEC says it's OK for PricewaterhouseCoopers to audit IBM, even thought the latter has announced plans to buy the former. Excuse me?

Rick Belluzzo, whose departure as Microsoft's COO was assessed as not a "particularly significant blow" by a Gartner analyst has popped up again, slated to be the new CEO of Quantum.

Forget about 3G, let's just leap to 4G, says Rick Mathieson in the mpulse newsletter. He has some interesting ideas, with a creepy nationalistic slant to taking over the world. If wearable computers are the answer, what was the question again?

Also in that issue, a product I do understand, and want: disposable cell phones. (But it's really the "no contracts, no deposit" feature that's attractive, not that I want to "chat and chuck." Sounds like almost as much fun as the "whirl and hurl" at the carnival, eh?) I'd even buy my own phone if I could buy airtime in non-expiring chunks. I'm just too cheap to sign up for a $30 or $40/month deal in perpetuity. If I found a broadband connection that was attractive for the computer and ditched our land-line, though...

Stanley Works decided against the tax dodge of "moving" to Bermuda after all the nasty publicity. (Was it 60 Minutes where I saw that story? Dunno, if they wanted me to know, they'd have a web presence that would show up in a search.)

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse at Qwest: admissions of spelling errors.

Overpaid executives are not only to be found in corporations; some are hiding in bureaucracies. A sense of entitlement seems to be a common element, however. When the House Appropriations Committee castigated the Smithsonian Institution for having 29 (!) executives paid more than U.S. Cabinet Secretaries (that's $161,200), including its Secretary with a salary well north of half a million bucks, their spokesman said the salaries were "comparable to major universities, other museums and foundations." Except that isn't so, according to Science which reports that "in fact, according to a survey published last year by the Association of Science-Technology Centers, the average salary for science and technology museum directors is $122,444."

HP steps back from the threat of invoking the DMCA, blaming an overzealous lawyer for tacking that on to an exec's memo. Will the denizens of slashdot forgive us? Certainly not all of them.

Dahlia Lithwick asks: What Was Moussaoui's Crime? Something it would be good to find out before we put him to death, or start a trial, or whatever.

1.Aug.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The nation's biggest company joins the options accounting bandwagon. GE brings good things to light. In addition to the accounting, they'll require execs to hold the stock (for a year) after the exercise (other than what it takes to pay the strike price, and taxes).

Dodecatheon spp., a shooting star. On Skyline Drive in N. Idaho

While reading Dylan Tweney's cogent summary of the copyhack bill, I had a thought: with a license to protect their copyrighted content, what would the "church" of Scientology do? Not a happy thought.

Remember Chatty Cathy? What an annoying idea it seemed to me at the time, but then I wasn't really into dolls, other than the little green plastic army men. This Cindy Smart is something else, entirely. She hears. She sees. That seems just too weird.

And, do you remember that vague sense of alarm when you realized young people can no longer add and subtract without a calculator? Or run a cash register without a laser scanner or pictures of Happy Meals on the keys? How about when they won't be able to use a pencil and paper anymore? This sentence deep in a NY Times story about tablet PCs got me: "The National Cursive Handwriting Contest for elementary school students will not be held during the coming year for the first time in its century-old history."

Speaking of education, there seems to be something perverse about the indefatigable opponents to evolution in this country. The creationist (or divine intervention) idea has just enough persistence to show up generation after generation. I got into the discussion again after a long (and pleasant) hiatus, when a co-worker evinced some interest in it. I should have known better, should have known not to interfere with others' placebo effect, as I put it recently. But no. My antagonist is a smart guy, and enough of a scientist to realize that the most extreme elements in the religous camp are simply out to lunch, but I think he doesn't want to give up the possibility of divine intervention.

I'm not sure exactly why. It seems a frightening thought to me. If God is powerful enough to intervene whenever It chooses, we have to infer that for most of human affairs, It can not be bothered, or else It has a bizarre sense of the way things should be. There is that matter of free will, of course, letting the experiment run; but I'm reminded about the guy on his roof as the river is rising around his house.... I digress. Here's what I wrote for the next salvo, responding to some Powerpoint slide quotes from some scientists at the British Museum who objected to the notion that evolution was a fact, an observation that I had recently, and repeatedly expressed:

The talk-origins FAQ expresses better than I can what it means to say that evolution is a fact. "In science 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent.'" (Stephen Jay Gould) It's also a FAQ - because this has come up and down a hundred times in newsgroups over the past 2 decades. If I display a certain testiness about the issue, it's because the opposition is so persistent, and (in general) resistant to reason. It isn't easy to summon up years of experience, research and learning in a casual conversation, and I think that frustrates me as well.

The subject of origins, as you've noted, is different from the subject of evolution. We've trod much of that ground as well. You might enjoy the response I wrote after reading Gerald L. Schroeder's book "Genesis and the Big Bang" 8 years ago.

People found organizations when they don't trust their own tirelessness (or longevity) to accomplish a goal. Hence, the National Center for Science Education, defending the teaching of evolution in public schools. (Of all the things to have to spend energy on...) Some of the news items they find are amazing, such as this article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Is a 21-year-old junior in Biblical studies really making headway in revising the curricula for biology, physics, chemistry, earth and space sciences and environmental education? Try this paragraph for size:

Petrovich, however, said he believes that teaching creation science would not offend people's religious beliefs because nearly all religions believe in a supreme being and a significant portion of the local population is Christian. Only the Bible offers an explanation for the creation of the world, he said.

This offends my religous beliefs, my scientific beliefs, and the culture I share with the good people of Pennsylvania. Only the Bible offers an explanation for the creation of the world? Why on earth is this story in a newspaper, and why on earth is Greensburg Salem wasting their time on it?

The only reasonable way out is what the Presbyterians did: if you want to insist on a belief in a particular sort of God, acknowledge that "there is no contradiction between an evolutionary theory of human origins and the doctrine of God as Creator." If there were, It would have a lot of explaining to do.


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Wednesday, 02-Oct-2002 21:26:39 MDT