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

The old water tanks above Clair Tappaan Lodge in the Sierra Nevada

Went for a weekend jaunt to the Sierra Nevada, with some work for the Sierra Club and some time in the red fir forest and granite. Sunday morning was cool and foggy, and I listened to the dripping inside the old water tanks on my walk before breakfast.

The International Herald Tribune reports on the newest Great Wall in China: the one protecting its citizens from the scary World Wide Web. Can you imagine screening the email for everyone in China? Officials aren't talking; maybe it's just a little congestion. (Turn your head and cough, please.)

Ironically, the regular display version on the IHT site is broken and filters out all article text in Opera v6.01.

Enough already! The market's worst quarter since '87, the DJIA at a 4-year low and the Nasdaq the lowest it's been in 6 years.

I love cargo cult references. (It's toward the end of the day if you follow that link; I guess I should have sub-day permalinks, eh?) This one from a story about the moribund PC business: "People are walking around like members of the cargo cult after World War II," said Mark Resch, a partner at Onomy Labs, a Palo Alto, Calif., technology consulting firm. "They're just hoping the planes come back."

26.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Heard a talk today from a lively woman who went into space 10 years ago this month, Dr. Mae Jemison. She went to Stanford at 16, is a chemical engineer, a medical doctor, and an astronaut, jazz dancer, Peace Corps veteran, entrepeneur. She probably has more than an hour's worth of interesting things to say... In the q&a, I asked her, "other than the motion sickness part of it, what was it like to go into space?"

She gave a nice account of being launched, and said that she couldn't skip the motion sickness part, because everybody gets it for a couple of days. Without gravity, all that fluid that's down in your legs floats up and gives you a big head for a while. And of course, she mentioned the part I wanted to hear about, what it's like to be up there above the planet and looking back at it. She said it made her feel more connected to life here.

Turns out some of the technology breakthroughs were bogus, too: Dr. J. Hendrik Schön's 17 papers were fraudulent, the NY Times reports, and he's no longer on the Nobel Prize fast track.

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

Buzz Aldrin punches moon conspiracy theorist Pretty sprightly for a 72 year old!

One of the things Idaho's giving up as it tries to balance the budget: a state historian, and its state historical journal, Idaho Yesterdays. That will make us the only state without such a journal. The ISHS site says that IY will soon be available in digital format, and that it is now only online... but there is no link to it.

In honor of National Public Lands Day, US National forests users will be able to enjoy access to their public lands without having to pay a special fee. Isn't it wonderful how the "Fee Demo" program has shifted reality?

24.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Is it the end of news as we knew it? If Google does to news what it did to search, it just might be. It's done with "no editors, managing editors, or executive editors," and aggregates stories from 4,000 online sources. I saw the story on the NY Times, but funny thing, they didn't provide a URL.

One of the stories it coughed up was "man rescued at sea returns to US." What's the story, you ask? Said 62-year-old man "survived three months adrift at sea by grilling turtles and seabirds."

The recruiting poster that was too far over the top to run as an Op-Ad in the New York Times: Uncle oSAMa wants you.

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

A school bus was turning left onto the same street I was going to turn right onto this morning, on the way to work. I took my time before giving my turn signal, not wanting the bus to turn in front of me. On the side street, it followed behind me, matching my modest cycling pace because its next stop was just ahead. A gaggle of young children with a couple of parent chaperones waited at the stop, and one 6-year-old spotted the bus with undisguised glee. "The bus! The bus! The bus!" he shouted as he jumped up and down and clapped in rhythm to his cheers. Remember when each new day brought that kind of excitement into your life?

This explains why the calls for war on Iraq seem like a non sequitur: the plan is 2 years old, written by the think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC). This week's Sunday Herald (Scotland) brought the report back to the forefront. The authors envision Pax Americana, for which we'll need what Harry Shearer called the Ernie Banks doctrine of defense: it's a beautiful day for a war, let's fight two: we should be ready to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars" as one of 4 "core missions" of the military. They decry the Administration strategists' and Pentagon planners' inability to grasp the "elemental point" of the centrality of ballistic missile defense, and call for a "space service" to augment the air, ground and sea forces we have now.

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

A few weeks ago, I was moved by email about the petition concerning Iraq. Their position, which I agree with, is that "Without hard evidence that Iraq poses a clear and present danger to the U.S., Congress must act to prevent a war on Iraq." In addition to responding for myself, I sent a note to several in my family. My brother didn't agree with me, and after a few more emails, he asked for the dialog to stop. As family disputes go, this one's pretty mild, but it still hurts. I can't write all this to him, but I feel the need to say it, so I find a new use for this weblog.

I expect the government to do the right thing, to be motivated by high moral and ethical standards, and to be accountable to the public. My expectations are frequently not met, but they often are. It's the job of people in power to make difficult decisions, and I pray that they do it well. I also feel it's my duty as a citizen of a democracy to consider the issues for myself, to express my opinions to the government and to my fellow citizens, to discuss important questions, and hopefully to find common ground and to do what I can to improve things.

Embarking on an explicit policy of pre-emptive war-making is a momentous change of this country's historical behavior. I feel we should not take this lightly, or on faith that the government knows what's best, and knows how to carry it out. Our Constitution says that Congress should be the body to declare war, and yet we have become accustomed to them giving an "authorization of force" and conceding this responsibility to the Administration. That's how we becamed mired in the Vietnam War. Now Bush and Cheney tell us we are At War, but Congress has not declared it, nor do we have an identifiable enemy. Oh wait, we have Iraq, the country that we once supported in its aggression in Iran to maintain a balance of power in the mideast to protect our economic interests there. Saddam has done bad things, but by all accounts he had little or nothing to do with last September 11th. Why is it necessary for us to wage war on Iraq all of a sudden?

The doctrine of pre-emptive use of force that we are apparently formulating is most frightening. Certainly other countries will point to our action and say "we too have the right to act against other sovereign nations, if we feel it is necessary for our safety." Do we intend to deny this by virtue of our overwhelming military power? Or should this right exists only for us, and the rest of the world must trust our goverment as well? We have never been all that trusting of other governments, it seems, and this is an amazing thing for us to expect. The danger is that we may begin to believe in the righteousness which we so readily grant ourselves. This is a very dangerous path.

I sent my opinions unsolicited to you and others in my family because I think the political issues of the day are profoundly moral, and their import called me to act. I understand that not everyone agrees with me, that I'm in the minority. It's a familiar place to be in the particular state I live in.

An acorn and a half (well, maybe a tenth) from our oak

On a lighter note... the start of fall comes with the usual acorn rodeo at our house. With the oak trimmed back far enough from the eaves that you'd think a squirrel couldn't jump that far, the squirrels launching themselves from the roof to grab the nearest branch put on quite a show. Any bit of wind (or squirrel action) sends acorns banging down on the roof and gutters.

I collected this interesting pair of fruits a couple weeks ago, and the viable one has ripened from solid green to a handsome brown while sitting on the shelf above the computer. Its little buddy is hanging on, but I fear it will never become an oak tree.

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

Now it's time for post-traumatic stress syndrome: getting the medical bills. First up is the Ada Co. Paramedics, for $2 worth of morphine, $8 and change for the Ativan, $48 for the person to put them in, $71 for the hardware, 5.6 miles at $9.11 ea., and $511 for "Advanced Life Support." Holy cow, all I remember them doing was suggesting I stop hyperventilating, trying (twice) to take my blood pressure (without success) and trying to keep my spirits up while we drove.

This of course is just the warm-up to the hospital bill. Jeanette's already warned me that the CT scan is going to be in 4 figures. I wouldn't want to try this without insurance.

Some historians think that our Congress should uphold the Constitution and have a vote on whether or not to declare war on Iraq, as opposed to another "authorization of force." I agree. It's all too easy for Congress to so authorize without fully considering the consequences and without accepting any responsibility. And then there's the Constitution, too.

Running into a gospel pie on the left end of your radio these days? Here's why, it's a power play by the Christians to run NPR out of town.

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

New license plate for our Prius: VOLTAGE

I love the look of license plates off a car, and there's no better moment when they're brand new - no bends, no dirt, no bugs, just colorful graphic purity. We retired Jeanette's Finnish secret SISUSTA and moved into something special for our gas/electric hybrid Prius. (QUIET and STEALTH were taken, alas.) The application has a blank for "definition," and a warning that it's required. I wrote, "electrical potential."

30-some questions for those who are urging us to start a war with Iraq, from Ron Paul, R-Texas. Things like "Would an attack on Iraq not just confirm the Arab world's worst suspicions about the United States? And isn't this what bin Laden wanted?" I suspect Congress will find a way to capitulate without coming anywhere close to a formal declaration of war. That ensures "plausible deniability" for them, after all.

Jill Rachel Jacobs illustrates what a "slippery slope" is: after the incredulity and outrage, the next time around we just don't pay as much attention. "Bush raised $114.8 million this year at 48 GOP events, according to federal campaign reports, surpassing Clinton's record of $105 million in 2000 from 203 events." After another day of a flood of red ink on the market, I have to wonder if there is a bottom to the deep pockets of the Republican party. Mr. Bush's wild ride into the Middle East is putting a serious hurt on investor confidence back home.

OMB Watch: "The Bush administration has turned back the clock with John Graham in place as head of OMBís Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which as an arm of the White House has the authority to review and possibly reject or amend new agency regulations. Graham, whose nomination was overwhelmingly opposed by the environmental community, labor unions, and public health advocates, has moved swiftly to create new barriers to health, safety, and environmental protections, and to assert centralized control over regulatory policy at OIRA."

The page's leading graphic shows the percentage of rules changed by OIRA: more than half (277 out of 513) from 6 different departments (HHS, EPA, DOT, Labor, DOJ, Interior) in 17 months. A couple days ago, I'd never heard of OIRA. The agency is reportedly channeling recommendations from George Masonís conservative Mercatus Center, and has a priority list of regulations it wants to gut. OMB Watch describes non-scientist Graham's directives for scientific review, essentially saying "risk must be proved to be considered." The side of caution is going to have a lot of error to recover from, is my guess. Graham's operating philosophy: "Environmental regulation should be depicted as an incredible intervention in the operation of society."

Remember when we had that election a couple years ago, and who we wanted to be President was almost too close to call? Now we have someone who seems far right of people like Gary Sick, a former National Security Council staffer in the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations. "The evidence that he is going after us is limited," he said. "The evidence that we are going after him is abundant. If I were him, I would certainly be thinking about how I can pre-position myself to strike back."

"To some degree, our emphasis on going in is not only an incentive but almost an imperative for him to do something. It is actually the reverse of deterrence; we are goading him to do more." From Todd Purdy's column in the The New York Times Week in Review.

Worldcom's still tracking down all the accounting boo-boos. Looks like $2 billion more, on top of more than 7. Oh yeah, and probably $50 billion in goodwill has evaporated.

18.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Blessed rain yesterday, layers of moist grays stacked up in the sky, and a pleasant respite in the middle of the day for a not-too-damp game of tennis. All those things we forgot how to smell over the summer were there for the taking: sagebrush, fertile earth, bark, landscaping in its full bloom. This morning the sky was washed clean and my long shadow was straight ahead on the east-west streets, then straight ahead of me again on the way home. Almost the equinox. Looks like we're going to have a reprise of warm and sunny weather into the weekend, though.

One of PCWorld's newsletter guys recommended this image from the SOHO Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope and it's worth the download; the image of the solar flare alone is stunning enough but the "approximate size of earth for comparison" puts things in perspective.

Air typing for your PDA - a projected keyboard that lets you type on any flat surface. I'm really curious to see if the "electronic perception technology" that tracks finger movements in 3-D is actually effective.

A quote from Hermann Goering, of all people, is making the email rounds. The way it fits today's situation is eerie as all get-out. "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders."

HeartMath has started a weblog, which they describe as "a journal devoted to developments in how thoughts and emotions affect our health, performance and relationships." I'm curious if it'll help get their message out more effectively. I wrote about them in April '99 after taking one of their courses through work. Good stuff.

17.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Went to the urologist today, and then to the lab to leave my kidney stone for analysis. The lab's business is mostly administering urine tests for prospective employees, for which a large sign on the wall said they charge $45. ($60 for the DOT version.) I suppose that's the responsibility of the prospective employee in most cases. My employer instituted pre-employment urine testing for a while, and one of the arguments was that if they didn't do it, all the druggies would come to work there. I guess with the layoffs, that's not such a big deal now, but at any rate, they'd already done away with it before the current administration. I don't recall what the explanation was, but I like to think they woke up and smelled the coffee and realized that it was a waste of money, goodwill, and had no discernible effect on the employee population. If drug use (legal, or illegal) or other causes are affecting performance, and you can't measure it without testing urine, your organization has a bigger problem.

There was another sign on the wall of the lab:
I had to wonder about that one.

Having just benefited from effective drug use, the story about medical marijuana from Santa Cruz was of particular interest. How lame is the DEA guy with this rejoinder: "If I were a teenager in Santa Cruz, I would be confused." If you were a teenager anywhere, you'd be confused, Richard, that's just the way it is. But for the DEA to be positioning itself as anti-confusion is just too precious.

While we're on the subject, consider the partial conversion of Governor Jeb Bush: he thinks his daughter's drug use should be a "private, medical problem," a generosity which he does not seem prepared to extend to the rest of society. The Libertarian Party has something to say about that.

United Vision for Idaho's booth at the Western Idaho State Fair last month featured an interactive exhibit about the state budget. How would you allocate not enough money for too many programs? They had pasta counters representing $20 million each, and you decided how to sort them out to make up for what they estimated to be a $200 million shortfall. Raise taxes? Cut services? Eliminate programs?

Republican visitors belittled the notion that the shortfall would be that big. Well, most of a month later, the numbers are out, and the shortfall turned out to be... you guessed it, $200 million. Our own Little General, Senate floor leader and presumptive Lt. Governor Jim Risch says "Before we start crossing this bridge, we need to get to the bridge." In other words, let's not talk about the inevitable need to raise taxes until after the election, ok?

But given the 3.5% holdback already announced, all manner of ideas are open for consideration to balance the budget. It's a godawful mess, and yet incumbents are as likely as ever to get voted back in. No wonder Idahoans want term limits: save us from our stupidity! Somebody, please!

The fascinating thing about this plan to make a single, nationwide energy market for electricity sales is that the economics appear to have no contact with the technical reality. FERC waving a wand in Washington will not "(make) it easier to move power across greater distances than current markets can handle," but it may well make it easier to move money across greater distances. That's what 24 members of Congress from the Pacific Northwest and Montana are worried about, given our wealth of cheap hydropower up here.

We suppose this has something to do with that great energy plan the Cheney adminstration cooked up, with a cast of anonymous players. Paul Krugman writes about how well that has worked for some of the people involved, in today's New York Times.

Dan Gillmor explains how we happen to have this wonderful internet thingie. Thank goodness something works!

Dan Popkey's take on the "new" Butch Otter explains why sending nutjobs to Congress is an Idaho pastime. We don't want them to make sense, we want them to say what they think and tell the gummint to go to hell. Personally, I don't like either the old Butch Otter or the new one.

Tom Friedman's capsule summary of the common American's view matches mine: "How come all of a sudden we have to launch a war against Saddam?"

And now, after the story has gone cold for most of us, the shocking (not!) denouement: market manipulation by five energy companies caused the California energy crisis of 2000-2001.

15.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Second day in a row (for me) up at the lake, and this is the last one for a while. The wonderful late-summer high pressure that's given us 7 straight days of morning wind is about to give way to rainy weather and a front. We took some pictures of the gang after the happy session.

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

Frequently asked questions, and more about the High Lift Systems space elevator. "When can I ride it?" is one obvious question.

2nd to last day for access to Turner Gulch, and it was a dandy. More than a dozen sailors were out in the whitecaps while Boise slept under a gentle SE breeze. When the wind machine works, life is good.

The latest JOHO lays out the scoop on Microsoft's alliance with Hollywood: "Palladium would make our computers more secure. But the price is too high. And even if it is to be built, Microsoft is exactly the last company on the planet that should be building it."

"Fear makes people stupid. Unfortunately, we are all likely to suffer from the recording industry's fear."

The Register: Intel has rolled over.

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

I gained some first-hand experience on a painful subject yesterday: kidney stones. The combination of sudden onset, intense pain, and not knowing what was going on (or how to make it better) ended up bringing the emergency response team to my cube. They were followed by a gaggle of paramedics who started an IV and trundled me off for an ambulance ride to St. Luke's West. Lots of people asked me lots of questions, many of which were "on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?" It pegged the meter for a while, but had eased somewhat by the time I was in the hospital.

Many of the responders (including the very first one) knew what was going on, and had the same diagnosis as the doctor did. A CAT scan verified that I had one stone getting close to the bladder (and relief!), and another, bigger one waiting for its turn. Something to look forward to. By the time I was wheeled off to the scanner, the pain meter had been disconnected, and I was floating off to la-la land thanks to about twice as much of whatever they were pouring in than I needed. Jeanette was there for moral support, and told me that they kept talking to me as if I were aware of what they were saying, "but I knew you were really out of it."

Indeed I was. I have tiny snippets I can recall, working the TV remote from the emergency room bed to find a soccer game, a snapshot of the CAT scanner's arch with some green LEDs showing meaningless numbers (one snapshot on the way in, one on the way out), a wheelchair ride, a moment in the car on the way home, Jeanette waking me up to tell me I should take my contacts out. (I later wished she'd suggested I brush my teeth, too. :-) Some 10 hours later, I woke up feeling like I'd been to a fantastic party the night before. My supervisor, who'd seen me on the floor yesterday, was damn surprised to see me back at work today. I toughed it out, with the help of one pill after "the pain" started up again mid-morning. Happily, it took the edge off for 6+ hours.

They tell me it's about the size of a grain of sand, sort of a Princess and the Pea story, inside out.

Thanks to all of you who helped in the last 24 hours. You were great.

Robert Fisk gives us his view from the Middle East, one year on. There's so much about America that America does not want to hear. We are not the only ones who have suffered.

"The truth is that the Arabs -- like Chileans and other people far from the new centre of total world power -- are used to mass killing. They know what war is like, and quite a number of Lebanese asked me in the days after September 11 -- our September 11, that is -- if George Bush really did think America was at war."

Wow, another botched election in Florida? The truth is stranger than fiction.

Charles Schumer (D-NY) writes of his attempt to provide for a meaningful bit of homeland security, an improved radiation detector on the cranes that handle cargo containers. (NY Times Op-Ed) It's not as glamorous as Star Wars, but on the other hand, it's a lot more likely to work.

Frank Rich: "Even those who can stomach pre-emptive war as a new doctrine wonder if we have our pre-emptive priorities straight." When even Peggy Noonan is asking questions, you know there's a problem at the top. Rich quotes her, "a number of people are evil, and some are even our friends."

Nina Burleigh wonders Why Aren't U.S. Journalists Reporting From Iraq? The Administration is leaving us desperate for verifiable facts.

11.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

PBS rebroadcast their compelling Frontline, "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero." I'd seen the pages of interviews, but didn't really know who I wanted to hear more from, but watching a bit of it tonight, I saw that Ian McEwan was one. Among other things, he pointed out that we heard many more "last words" from common people than history usually records. By far the most frequent message was "I love you."

"No amount of the worst art in the world can ever quite reduce it. That was the message. It was extraordinary enough."

Like so many of us, I can't let this day pass without some sort of commentary. My heart goes out to the tens of thousands of people who were touched directly by the terrorist attack a year ago. I wish them well in their healing.

In a year's time there are many tragic events, of course, and joyful ones. As a tribe we seem to like to rally around particular ones, even as we deal with the great wheel of birth and death and being. I don't understand it all. I appreciated the moments of silence today. I'm not so overrun by gadgets that I had to escape them, particularly, although I'm sure more time away from computers wouldn't hurt.

I remain concerned that the desire for vengeance, and the governmental turn to authoritarianism that resulted from the events will be more damaging to us in the long run. I hope I'm wrong. The anti-war movement seems very important, and I found Laura Flanders' speech from early this week very powerful: Some of us did not die.

Hard times in high tech gets closer to home with the closing of Jabil in Meridian; 500 jobs lost in the valley.

Is that a person you're corresponding with, or just a 'bot? The quality of its non sequiturs -- or unexpectedly thorough knowledge of facts may be a giveaway. The other interesting question to consider is how a computer that "serendipitously comb through troves of data to produce useful bits of information" differs from a weblogger.

The Active Recommendation Project seems like a worthwhile branch of this machine intelligence endeavor, making the tools we are coming to rely on adaptive. They don't have to "chatter" to do that, though.

More details on Belluzo's golden chariot from one big corporation to the next. Why should Microsoft let him keep his options when he leaves, much less pay him for all he won't make? He doesn't work there anymore.

10.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

HP Labs announces breakthroughs in molecular electronics: combining memory and logic in the densest pattern yet, fabricating it with nano-imprint lithography. As you'd expect from HP, they provided some nice images of the technology (thumbnails linked to larger versions):







HP's caption:
In this series of pictures, taken with optical and scanning electron microscopes, each image is magnified approximately 10 times more than the previous one.
A) The wafer on which 625 memories and their test structures were simultaneously imprinted (next to a US nickel).
B) An array of memories with their test connections.
C) A single test structure with the memory, which is still invisible at this magnification, in the center.
D) Nanowires leading from the test pins to the memory at the intersection of the lines.
E) The crossed-wire structure of the memory.
F) A close-up of a single 64-bit memory. A bit can be stored at each of the intersections of the eight vertical and eight horizontal wires.

Other sites carrying the news include, The Register, etc.

Pounding a square peg into a rectangular hole: the Swiss join the UN, finally. Hadn't thought about how the European HQ (in Geneva) has been in a non-member country until I read the story.

Let's see if I can summarize this NY Times story, "A Tax Break for the Rich Who Can Keep a Secret." It's about a tax loophole for people who have $5 million of stocks and bonds, less than 1 in 1,900 of American taxpayers. It allows executives to dump their company's stock without as much disclosure as if they'd actually sold it. It facilitates cheating the IRS and "to get in on these tax avoidance deals, investors must sign statements promising never to disclose the terms to anyone except their financial advisers." Brokers get to skim off as much as 3.75% of the pooled assets (which the participants are happy to pay, since their tax avoidance is much more than that).

But the best part is the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation's rationalization for keeping the loophole: if it were closed, those people would just find another way to avoid taxes. The Administration's happy enough with them, too - they're against taxes on principle (although presumably their salaries and perks are OK), so loopholes are Good Things.

Help me out on the pronunciation here, is Wachovia going to "watch over ya," or "walk over ya"? Either way, it seems kind of creepy for a bank. (I guess that's what they are, I've just been seeing their name in the news.

9.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The Wallowas, from Dan's airplane on Aug. 31st
An alpine lake in the Wallowas, from Dan's airplane.

Izzat a finger in your ear, or are you just glad to hear from me?

The thing on the wrist looks kind of goofy, but I have to admit that it's pretty clever to send sound from wrist to finger to ear. I'd like to try it out, at least.

Eldred v. Ashcroft: challenging the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, blow by blow. The latest brief in the case (PDF file) looks interesting, but I don't know how far I'll get into it... (I do note that both PDF and the form the content are put in seem particularly inconducive to examination. Footnotes running across pages? 2/3rds of the page given to white space? This is important stuff, reconsidering the purpose and meaning of laws from the 18th century, shouldn't it be as readable as possible?)

"Under both the Copyright Clause and the First Amendment, blanket retroactive reallocations of the right to speak and develop culture--to spread it, to adapt it, to extend it in ways different from the original authorís desire--merit heightened review. Under any form of heightened review, CTEA (the Copyright Term Extension Act) fails."

Bruce Perens, outspoken Linux and open-source gadfly is no longer doing that for HP. The corporation is discreet about its reasons, but he says it had to do with speaking truth to power. No doubt.

Richard Blow writes about George Bush making the case for war on; he'll be talking to the UN on Thursday. I expect his approach to continue to be faith-based: have faith in us, we're strong and have lots of information that we can't share, but we're pretty sure Hussein is a very bad man and we need to take him out. Is that nostalgia for Mutual Assured Destruction I'm feeling?

Another piece on the site mentions in passing that "100 U.S. and British aircraft took part in an attack on Iraq" 3 days ago. Missed that on the nightly news... The NY Times' search turns up 490 hits for "iraq air attack" in the last 7 days, and a few "websearch" results, including a BBC story that's on point. "...the Pentagon has moved swiftly to deny press speculation that the operation involved up to 100 warplanes." It was "probably no more than 30" according to the story.

In today's NYT, we read an AP report of the third attack in a week. Just business as usual, the Pentagon says.

I don't have the stamina for much of the retrospective flood that surrounds the one-year anniversary of 9-11, but I did watch some of Frontline's special. Their website offers more than would fit into the 2 hours, including this interesting interview with Andrew Delbanco. His description of Melville's Ahab made me think more about George Bush than Osama bin Laden. I wonder if he's considered it from that other angle?

I appreciate what sounds like a considered assessment: "the situation since Sept. 11 calls for a very delicate balance between self-criticism and awareness."

Harry Shearer did it again this week. I just about busted a gut over his phone call between 43 and 41 (Realaudio).

7.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Does your neighborhood have a buzz on? Mine does, and has had for more than a year. When I first became aware of the low bass background noise, I wasn't sure if I was imagining it or not.... (read more)

How well does Google work? Well enough that the Chinese blocked it in preparation for their party congress... in November! You can't be too careful in keeping minds closed.

I was one of many who said everything changed last September. offers a contrary view, sent in response to their solicitation for essays on the theme "Agenda Interrupted? 9/11 One Year Later." More on their home page.

6.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Just what we've been waiting for: a nuclear-powered cantilever beam.

Science Magazine's Sustainable Development Reader.

Top 10 Benefits of MS WinXP Media edition, translated. HP's participation warranted a new ream job on slashdot.

But just to show that hp is a big company, it still has its May '02 interview with Christopher "cluetrain" Locke in its mpulse archive.

Tom Friedman talked with Terry Gross in yesterday's Fresh Air, about what's next in the Middle East. (Realaudio) I love the way the web extends radio's temporal presence.

Pick your favorite irony from this NY Times article about the growing interest in open source software, and Linux, in particular. Mine was the quote from Peter Houston, a senior strategy executive in Microsoft's Windows group: "All we're looking for is a level playing field competitively."

Others liked the Chinese official saying that their government did not want one company "to manipulate or dominate the Chinese market."

The new list of best intranets is out, and it's interesting to see that no computer companies made the list. Maybe they didn't enter the contest? The other amazing fact that jumped out at me is that Wal-Mart's intranet has 900,000 users. Almost a million employees?!

On the other end of the scale, Mira Networks AB made the top ten, with a system for its 12 employees, who can update the intranet from their mobile phones.

The whole report is yours for $64, or $168 for a "site license." (So if Wal-Mart wants one, they can get it for less than $.0002 per employee.)

How public should public records be? The clerk of courts for Hamilton County, Ohio, set up a website and found out that not everybody agrees with the legal boundaries. ( NY Times story)

Back when I was hitchhiking and bicycling around the country, I thought RVs were contemptible. As the wave of baby boomers intersects with the industry, I expect any softening of my attitude over the years to evaporate. They will be a plague upon the land.

It seems like the people in them should be likeable enough, and I imagine many are. But reading the meandering essays of "full-timers" Barb and Ron, I'm struck most by the banality of it all. Troubles include no free drive-throughs and lack of satellite reception.

4.Sept.2002 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A few statistics go a long way to canning spam: "'ff0000' (html for bright red) turns out to be as good an indicator of spam as any pornographic term."

Bogofilter implements Graham's approach in a "proof-of-concept alpha release."

Nine reasons not to own an SUV.

The action plan from Jo'burg deemed a triumph of style over substance. "Sprawling over tens of thousands of words and 65 pages, the bible vows action on 163 issues of astonishing diversity, some of them instant triggers for political friction, and not a single goal is binding." But the networking was good.

The BBC reports on Colin Powell's rough ride at the summit.

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

Oxbow dam on the Snake River, from a couple thousand feet above it
Oxbow dam, Snake R.

Underground in Iran, the baby boom is overthrowing the mainstream culture. One of the tools is weblogs, where "outrageous sedition and heresy" are commonplace. This week's NY Times Magazine's feature piece.

Welcome to the WTO. Please submit your payment for $4 billion or revise your tax code.

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

In addition to blogging the World Summit in Joburg (and doing it very well), the Daily Summit also provides a nice little explanation of what a blog is. (The two-column newspaper style seems like a bad idea, though.)

The New Republic Online attempts to explain the New, New Math of the US economy and federal budget. No mean feat.

Harry Shearer brings Continental Public Radio (CPR) to live on last week's Le Show. Had me in stitches anyway...


Tom von Alten

ISSN 1534-0007

Monday, 20-Sep-2004 16:40:24 MDT