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28.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

After day 2 of her 3 day job volunteering at the Boise River Festival, one of the 5-year-olds who had talked his parents into bringing him back for the second day, and who had been an enthralled participant in the storytelling, gave her perhaps the best possible audience response imaginable. Glowing with enthusiasm, he told her "this has been the happiest day of my life!"

Matt Bivens details the trickle-down effect of the Republican tax cut; the states are taking it in the shorts. It doesn't seem terribly well-reported, but maybe that's just because this is blindingly obvious: the record millions of dollars that Bush is collecting in his campaign fund-raising is a direct payback for policies that are benefiting -- and especially, will benefit -- the contributors. The terrorist-threatened quivering mobs must just feel like it's good to be watched over and taken care of, not to mention being freely taken to the cleaners.

Scroll on down for the entry about the $3.5 million evening, and the $20 million 2 week run the Bush campaign has going.

Or House majority whip Roy Blount's attempt to slip in a little legislation for Philip Morris -- here's a surprise: his son lobbies for the company -- that got cut off at the pass by Speaker Hastert. A whole lot of such maneuvers don't get exposed. He's not calling this the Daily Outrage for nothin'.

Renana Brooks: "Psychologist Martin Seligman, in his extensive studies of 'learned helplessness,' showed that people's motivation to respond to outside threats and problems is undermined by a belief that they have no control over their environment."

Terrorism threat level Orange! But just go on about your normal living (we'll take care of things for you).

Here's something you can control: the Federal Do Not Call list paid for by your tax dollars (i.e. "free"). The signup process is absurdly simple -- give them the phone number, and your email, where you'll receive a request for confirmation. That's perhaps a little too simple, in that anyone can put any number on the list, eh? Not like that would be a calamity, but still...

The first 17 hours (yesterday) averaged 43,000 registrations/hour. They could have simplified the process by just putting ALL numbers on the list, and then had people register to be put on a "Do Call" list, eh? I don't suppose the telemarketers would have liked that idea, though. I had no trouble getting in and registering this evening, and my confirmation email came in less than a minute or two.

Dodged a bullet: No SCOTUS justices to retire, for now. It would seem. Both sides can demobilize on that, and return to the fighting over the appellate court nominees.

More of your tax dollars at work, in Guantánamo: "Each prisoner lives in a separate cell that is 6 feet 8 inches by 8 feet. The door and walls are made of a tight mesh through which it would be hard to pass anything larger than a pencil. Unless rewarded for good behavior, each prisoner is allowed out of the cell only three times a week for 20 minutes of solitary exercise in a large concrete-floored cage, followed by a 5-minute shower. Before coming out of the cell, he must submit to a shackles-connected-to-handcuffs arrangement known as a 'three-piece suit.' Guards escort him on either side."

Look out for the next Tiger Woods: Michelle Wie is 6 feet tall and drives the ball an average of 290 yards. Oh, and she's thirteen years old.

27.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Well, no glorious tennis results to be reported this weekend. I got knocked out in the quarterfinals (aka "2nd round," after a 1st round bye - sounds better than "in my first match") by the guy I beat in my seminfinal match last time, Glen Fosnacht. I ran him hard enough to wear him down, but I didn't stay in the match long enough to take advantage, losing 3-6, 3-6. Afterwards, he said with all sincerity that he'd been waiting for a chance to play me again, had his calendar marked. I'd really motivated him, and he hadn't lost since. Of course, I want him to win the championship now, so that I can pretend I'm right up there with the winner.

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition made the news today, with their report on the recycling strategies of the two largest PC makers in the US, Hewlett-Packard and Dell. Prison labor is part of Dell's method for "keeping all of our recycling offers as low cost as possible." The prisoners work voluntarily, and they're paid from 20 cents to $1.26 an hour. Is that a good and generous thing, or low-down and despicable? I don't know the answer, but it doesn't seem like terribly good PR in the New York Times news story.

The MoveOn primary is over, and the results are in. That takes care of everything but the grousing. Dick Gephardt complaining that he didn't get a fair start is a bit pathetic. You've been in Congress for years, Dick, you were the Minority Leader for God's sake. Do you really think your 2.4% showing is because you didn't get to send us all an email? On the other hand, the top three who did get to send out emails were the only ones standing out of the noise.

I'd like to see more of them get grilled the way Howard Dean did on Meet the Press last Sunday; I thought his performance was impressive. (And unlike Andrew Sullivan, I did see it.) The questions were tough, and not all the answers were perfect, but the ones that matter to me were good. Is he an "intemperate, arrogant bully"? Maybe we'll learn more about that, but the things that bother don't bother me quite so much.

10 big whoppers we were told about Iraq, summarized.

26.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Pekka Parviainen says he's got 50,000 or so photographs of the night sky in his Polar Image collection from way up north in Finland. He's got some knock-outs, as you'll see in a moment if you navigate to the Oct. 3/4, 2002 Aurora Borealis page. Thanks to Science magazine's NetWatch feature for the tip.

Not only is Gray Davis not going to get to make a run for the presidency, it's not clear he's going to hold on to the job he's got now, with the recall campaign gathering steam. How much of the post-bubble economy and state budget debacle can really be blamed on him, or did he just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Some of both, maybe, but the Republicans back in Washington must be chortling about California's situation.

With the the Vatican Museums Online, you can now get a personal tour of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, without the jet lag.

I'd seen used to cut through URL cruft before and appreciated it, but then I actually used it myself today to make some tiny URLs. What a great service, and what a wonderfully simple user interface. I thought this little touch was especially clever: Note: For IE 4+ on Windows, the TinyURL is automatically copied to your clipboard and is ready for pasting.

While looking up some newly historical documents on the case against the Sony Bono copyright deal, I came across this little ditty on Happy Birthday. My father used to sing the first couple lines of "Good morning to you" to his children in the morning, did he hear it in kindergarten, I wonder? Anyway, if you need an example of the absurdity of how copyrights have been extended, consider this song from the late 1800s with some new words tacked on -- by someone, we don't know who -- in the 1920s or 1930s, which will remain protected until 2030.

But does that protect something of significantly greater creativity as the laugh-out-loud READ THIS FIRST! by Dave Barry? Nooooo. (I looked, I really did, for one that looked like it was sanctioned by the author, but maybe he didn't want to just give it away.

25.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Hard to believe, but the Boise River Festival is going on for the 13th year. It was nip and tuck there for a while, and they have had to trim the Nite-Lite Parade. One of the most prominent links on their home page is to a request for contributions. Jeanette is back, donating her services as an Irish storyteller. I guess the stories are going to be Irish, in keeping with the "featured country" theme.

One of the attractions is a local troupe of kids doing Irish dance, which was coincidentally also the entertainment at the Transducers conference banquet in Boston a couple weeks ago. I'm definitely getting a "been there, done that" feeling about Irish team stomp dance. Great for exercise, but I think I've had all the entertainment I'm going to get out of it.

One thing's still working - the weather is picture perfect today, with the forecast for more of the same as it warms up into the weekend. The balloons were out en masse in the cool, still morning air, under a perfectly clear sky.

William Gibson, on The Road to Oceania: "It is becoming unprecedentedly difficult for anyone, anyone at all, to keep a secret. In the age of the leak and the blog, of evidence extraction and link discovery, truths will either out or be outed, later if not sooner. This is something I would bring to the attention of every diplomat, politician and corporate leader: the future, eventually, will find you out. The future, wielding unimaginable tools of transparency, will have its way with you. In the end, you will be seen to have done that which you did...."

The USTA tournament site finally shows my win in the Men's 3.0 Singles flight of the 2003 Idaho Open, although they got the score wrong, oddly. I've been keeping my own detailed notes, and they say it was 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, rather than 6-4 in the second set. "It wasn't that close."

The Riverfest tournament (no discernible connection with the city-wide, contemporaneous celebration of the same name) is up next, and I'm signed up for both singles and doubles this time, we'll see how that works. I've got a first round bye and "a target on my back," as my buddy Rob put it, seeded #1. So far I'm on track, with my warmup match with my teammate Scott tonight going in his favor, as it did before the last tourney. Now I'm motivated. (And a little scraped up, crashing and burning for a set point that I should have conceded.)

24.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

In case I wasn't sure about it being election season already (for 2004!), there's the MoveOn primary for a Democratic nominee. I just cast my vote. I liked that they had two categories: one a single vote for your favorite candidate, and the other for any or all of the candidates you'd support. They also provided "easy" links for making a donation to your candidate's campaign (strike while the iron is hot!), or for volunteering, but I'm not quite ready for all that yet.

Krugman, on Denial and Deception: "There is no longer any serious doubt that Bush administration officials deceived us into war. The key question now is why so many influential people are in denial, unwilling to admit the obvious."

Nicholas Confessore in the Washington Monthly analyzed why why Krugman is hot: "His columns aren't about trade theory or stochastic calculus, but about flagrant deceptions and fourth-grade arithmetic. What makes Krugman interesting, in short, is not just why he writes what he writes. It's why nobody else does." (The URL says 2001, the piece is dated Dec. 2002, and the copyright notice is for 2003; go figure.)

These guys are way out there: Dirk Kempthorne's not conservative enough for them. Too cozy with industry. (Huh?!)

23.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

While we're destroying computers owned by people who violate copyrights, should we start with Orrin Hatch's server? "That's ironic," as Hatch's spokesperson said.

WinXP and Office for $36: that ought to put a dent in Linux sales. And Microsoft can still make money with a 90%+ discount, nice trick, huh?

With all the negative press about executives these days, it's nice to know there are still some good ones. Business 2.0 lines up its Dream Team.

22.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

42°F this morning, this is summer?! The sun worked all day but could only manage to push us up into the mid-60s.

I curled up with Ann Patchett's book, "Bel Canto," because it's Boise's selection for the "What if Everybody Read the Same Book" project, and Jeanette managed to check it out of the library before the rest of the town caught on. Well, she grabbed it because it's the selection, I started reading it because she handed it to me, and because it's about the love of beautiful singing (aka Bel Canto), something I share.

21.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

It's summer up here now, although the cool day provided camouflage for the solstice. That celestial event happened shortly after we returned home from...

Dedicating the 'Terra Firma' terrazzo floor at the Boise airport

the grand opening / open house for the new Boise Airport terminal, and the dedication of two major works of art in it, "Terra Firma" in terrazzo, and a painted mural, "River's Edge." The photo here is from the drumming and dancing that some of the natives did for the dedication of the floor, and I've put up a photoessay of the event as well.

Email from Alan Arnette prompted me to read the final dispatch of his second attempt on Everest and also his editorial, When Good Guides Turn Bad. Great reading for lowlanders as well as mountain climbers.

20.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

My weblog would probably be more interesting if my life were more difficult. Given the difficulty of living in post-war Iraq, Salam Pax's blog remains excruciatingly interesting. "What do you do when you are in a car with someone who asks you about the best place to hide a hand grenade?"

Cringely deconstructs SCO v. IBM, sorting out the legal arguments and the winners and losers. He thinks IBM's legal team will dispatch David Boies without breaking a sweat, and that you-know-who will be the big winner. "Microsoft is smart and quick. They are no doubt angling to take advantage of this new chaos in the software industry. If history repeats, Microsoft will make very good business decisions. Everyone else will make very poor, if not stupid business decisions."

(Last week's edition had a different avenue of speculation, along with some interesting stuff about ultra-wide band (UWB)'s outlook after the FCC limited its power. "With gigabit speeds, it isn't enough to say that UWB is Bluetooth on steroids. UWB is thermonuclear Bluetooth.")

19.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Happy Juneteenth!

We don't often get to see the buying and selling of influence quite as well-documented as this story of Westar investing in Tom DeLay and his pals for legislative gain.

"We have a plan for participation to get a seat at the table, which as been approved by David the total of the package will be $31,500 in hard money (individual), and $25,000 in soft money (corporate). Right now, we have $11,500 in immediate needs for a group of candidates associated with Tom Delay, Billy Tauzin, Joe Barton and Senator Richard Shelby."

John Ashcroft didn't think there was anything worthy of investigation in all that.

40 companies reshaping the global economy, according to Wired. We've got direct investments in 4 of them, but also in 2 of the "unlucky 13" that used to be on the list. Ya win some, ya lose some.

The EPA's report at the end of Ms. Whitman's watch is looking a little dumbed down, with only Republican science making the grade.

Lessig: "If the public domain were as young as it was for most of our history (30 years old, max), then losing it would mean something to most people. If the work of the 1960s and 1970s could easily be built upon, then taking that work away would excite a revolution. But the (brilliant) strategy of the copyright extremists has been to slowly remove the public domain, by slowing extending copyright. (Remember Hal in 2001, as Dave turns off his brain?) They have succeeded in making it irrelevant to most. The question now is how to make it relevant again."

Lessig also has a proposal for increasing customer satisfaction with service calls: make it easy (and legal) for us to record the conversation as needed. I started taking notes when doing business over the phone years ago, after an incident of someone denying having said what he'd said led to an impasse and extra work. Now we have technology that could do much better than that.

A candidate for president with a blog -- that could be interesting.

In case you're still figuring out this blogging thing, you have to first understand that the world is set in motion by the "A-List" bloggers. What are those, you ask? Here is your simple guide. Its need for editing is all part of the humor, I guess.

It's unpleasant to imagine my hometown without libraries and librarians, but youngsters all across the country are going to have a new experience. Maybe they're all moot now that we have the internet (not hardly!), but it seems the world will be poorer for losing them. All part of the plan to eliminate the evils of big government.

18.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Mr. Kempthorne's no stranger to Washington, D.C., having served as a senator before taking the top job in Idaho. Now it looks like he might be going back there, as head of the EPA to succeed Christie Todd Whitman. It's hard to know which to fear most - another non-advocate for the environment in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, or the man who would replace Kempthorne back here: the inimitable Jim Risch. I'd rather have Kempthorne stay home, although I don't know anything about the others considered for the EPA post.

Capitalism comes to China complete with a burden of abuse of worker's lives. "The factory failed a safety inspection by the Huizhou Center for Disease Control as recently as last summer. The center's report shows that some work stations had ambient silica concentrations as high as 70 times the standard allowed by the Chinese safety code, which is less strict than related American and European standards by a factor of 20."

Lynne Cheney's Q&A:
John, from Stapleton writes:
Where are the weapons of mass destruction?
Lynne Cheney
Be patient. We'll find out.

Handicapping the viceroy's performance: the Washington Post collects opinions from Lebanon, Pakistan, the UK, Hong Kong, Korea and down under. No one seems to be warmly positive and optimistic.

"What we are seeing here is a fundamental reassessment of the situation in Iraq in terms of political and military stability," said Daniel Goure, a Pentagon adviser at the Washington-based Lexington Institute. "We have been operating on two assumptions: that once the war was over the Iraqis would rapidly move into peaceful mode, and second, that there would be a new political and economic spirit in the country. We discovered neither of these assumptions is true."

17.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The best we've been able to come up with on the WMD front -- those two trailers -- have pretty much been ruled out at this point. They were most likely just what the Iraqis said they were - mobile setups for generating hydrogen for artillery balloons.

"I am concerned about the canvas sides. Ideally, you would want airtight facilities for making something like anthrax. Not only that, it is a very resistant organism and even if the Iraqis cleaned the equipment, I would still expect to find some trace of it," said the chair of the (UK) Royal Society's working party on biological weapons.

Thanks to Harry Shearer (RealAudio) for the tip.

For the least charitable interpretations, visit Robert Scheer's Column Left. "What did the President know and when did he know it?" And when will Congress hold the Executive branch accountable?

Paul Krugman, on the Bush administration's dereliction of its duty to homeland security. Where is funding for the protection of our ports? Where is our commitment to secure our victory in Afghanistan?

Tales of despair from Guantánamo.

SCO v. IBM escalating: SCO Revokes IBM's Unix license.

What women want, or might want, when it comes to computer games: so far the assumptions look like the wrong (and self-serving) answers.

Building a new Library of Alexandria, creating an internet Bookmobile and preserving the history of the internet in the Wayback Machine: talking with Brewster Kahle. It also involves running up against the legislated expansion of copyrights. "Ninety-percent of all books controlled by copyright are out of print."

How about this idea? Dealing with the Taliban to restore order in Afghanistan.

15.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Examining invertebrates dredged out of the Owyhee River

It's been a little spotty here of late, with most of a week in Boston to attend the Transducers '03 conference, followed by a long weekend over at Three Forks for the 5th Owyhee Rendezvous. Interesting phase transitions, going from the intricate details of silicon microfabrication techniques, to a much-too-quick tour of MIT's Media Lab to an introductory comparison of invertebrate ecology of the main and north forks of the Owyhee river in the space of 48 hours.

Seven tricks that Web users don't know. No doubt there are more; not much surprises me about what people can't find in user interfaces. Everytime I look over someone's shoulders and see the Mighty Morphin' Menus of Microsoft's latest O/S, I ask them "do you like having your menus change all the time?" I haven't had anyone answer "yes" yet, so I always follow-up with "Would you like me to show you how to fix that?" About half seem interested in a simple adjustment to the user interface that would make it closer to their preferences.

Don't go wading in this fountain!

I'm in the half of all American internet users who didn't use file-sharing software last month to copy music without paying for it. I just haven't got around to it yet. I'll probaby be interested in buying good tunes for less than a $1 a song, but I haven't got around to that, either. I do have an occasional interest in using and/or arranging compositions for our choir, and a recent interaction with Warner Bros. Publications illustrates how unsatisfactory the existing system for selling such things is. As the copyright owner, WBP sent me some clear messages: your time is not important to us, you have no negotiation power, and "all your base are belong to us."

First phone inquiry: recording, saying "call back at our convenience." Second call routed to a recording (gee, couldn't we have done this the first time?) telling me to fax my request to them. I sent them a succinct, 1-page fax describing what I wanted to use, and for what, and to please tell me their conditions. A week later, the fax came back with a note handwritten on it, asking me to tell them exactly what song(s) I wanted to use. I wrote my own note on the fax, pointing to the first sentence wherein I had stated just that. Two more weeks pass, and I get US Mail with a cover letter and 2 copies of their "standard Arrangement Permission" form.

This form grants me the right to arrange, perform and duplicate for the sole use [sic] of "THOMAS VON ALTEN/CHOIR," the song in question. I cannot distribute or sell the arrangement without (further) written permission, and (this is my favorite part) the arrangement will be a "Work Made For Hire" with all copyrights owned by the copyright holder of the original song, i.e. them. I pay them $50 for the privilege of making some property for them.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. deconstructs a recent Tom Friedman column mentioned here. It is a good idea to keep concepts of Power and Market distinct, but I would not dismiss market power so easily. Dominant players in markets get to usurp "mind share" and can eliminate competition just as surely as dominant countries can overrun weaker ones.

I'm also guessing that Rockwell doesn't have to write for deadlines; he certainly doesn't appear to be edited for length on the Ludwig von Mises Institute website.

12.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Still looking for those WMDs; this is getting a little awkward, at best. Fortunately for the Republican administration, Congress is controlled by the same party, and the Legislative branch has just said no to investigative public hearings. "The administration welcomes the review," Ari Fleischer says; at least the closed-door review by their buddies. The documents that are already in the sunshine don't appear to support the Administration's case, at least by the analysis of John Prados at the National Security Archive.

Somebody who knows a thing or two about impeachment - John W. Dean - has thoughts about Bush's current problem.

9.6.3 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Scenes from the big city: grocery store in the middle of downtown a few blocks from Copley Square. I'm in line between two lovely young mocha-colored ladies whose accent is impossible for me to place. As I put my goods down on the belt behind theirs, one of them glances back at what I'm buying, then me, then again at the groceries. She looked more closely at the small bag of granola. "What's that?" she said, picks it up for a closer look. "Granola," I offered, giving no help. "Uh, rolled grains, toasted..." Still nothing. "Oats." "Ah!" That made sense.

At our evening event, a private opening of the Museum of Fine Arts, we enjoyed a couple free drinks, and a look around at the new Gainsborough show (not yet open to the public), a gallery of Impressionists, and a show of one man's selections from the permanent collection. That included a couple Impressionists, too, and after taking off my glasses for an up-close inspection of Van Gogh's brush strokes, I stepped back and started to take a no-flash, hand-held (impressionistic, don't you know) photo of it, and the guard slipped up to my side faster than I could get it set up. "Excuse me, there's no photographing in this exhibit, Tom, thank you very much, Tom," reading my name off my conference badge hanging from around my neck. I'd shot a photo of a Gainsborough, a Pisarro, and a Monet, and some guy had taken a flash photo of a Picasso in the other room. But this exhibit, from the permanent collection is no-go? What's up with that?

Oh well, a few minutes in the presence of the brush strokes of Claude, Vincent, Pablo and were a tonic all the same.

8.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The Fairmont on Copley Square in Boston is a nice hotel in a great location, and I've got a lovely quiet room on the 4th floor. The room service menu footnote is not to my liking, though:

For your convenience a cover charge of $2.50 per person, 15% Gratuity, 4% Administrative Fee and 5% Tax will be added to the menu prices listed in your copy of the In-Room Dining Menu. Consuming raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish and or eggs may increase the risk of food born illness.

Pretty darn convenient. The prices are through roof to being with and they don't have any good beer on the menu, either. I won't even spend someone else's money on that deal.

Had a good all-day class, and a good long walk this afternoon/evening, around the Commons, up Beacon Hill, down along the Esplanade. Thought of sailing on the Charles River basin there, August, 1976, with my brother. The sun peeked through a bit at first, no rain today, but then back to cool, gray. I didn't bring a sweater. D'OH! Or enough long-sleeve shirts. D'OH! I found a TJMaxx in the neighborhood, went to buy a shirt and didn't remember what SIZE I am. Sheesh. Went into the dressing room to look at my label... Calvin Klein says "M". :-*

6.6.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Jeanette Ross and Chris Binion at their Portal / Portale

The opening of Jeanette's and Chris' show went well. There was a small but enthusiastic -- and interactive -- crowd. We shared food, stories of what moved us in the exhibit, ideas about windows into other cultures and doors that open into change. One refugee family from Iraq was there, just one week into the experience of a new culture and foreign land. The exhibit itself can draw you in and hold you for a while if there are no distractions. It'll be open Wednesday through Saturday, 1-5pm, through June 28th. If you can, check it out at the BSU Hemingway Gallery.

We had a bit of a wild west story yesterday, with a runaway train and a brave Idaho State Police officer saving the town of Nampa. Deconstructing the events gives a slightly different slant, though. First of all, it wasn't a train, but rather a locomotive. It was a runaway, and was headed for Nampa, and might have run into trouble had it got there. The trooper did hop on a moving locomotive, that was daring. He made a go of at 20mph or so, and decided that wasn't smart, got back on his motorcycle and followed it until it had slowed down to 5 or 10mph -- between a jog and a run, but with all that stuff on your belt, eh? -- and then succeeded in climbing aboard. Now what? I get the impression whoever was kibitzing over the radio didn't know, either, but look for the "emergency" lever. "Prescott then found a lever that said 'reverse.' The locomotive stopped, then, and started to go backward."

Hmm. The engine wasn't running, so it probably wasn't the reverse lever that made it stop or reverse. It reportedly had been going as fast as 40mph, then 20, then 5 or 10, then it stopped and started going the other way. Sounds a lot like the influence of gravity, going up the grade to Nampa. By this time, a couple of unnamed railroad employees were on board as well, and after one figured out there was no air pressure to actuate the brakes, they went out to use the brake wheel, and to wedge a railroad tie behind a wheel before the locomotive rolled back down the way it had come.

"It really wasn't a big deal... I just got lucky," Prescott said. I used to "get lucky" when I was a kid hopping freights, but I never had to try stopping one. Fortunately, I never got my name in the paper for it, either.

While reading a story in Science News this morning about the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, "scheduled to view some 100 million galaxies over the northern sky by 2005," I got to thinking about what it means to live in a universe with 100 million (plus) galaxies. If you spent half an hour contemplating one galaxy, it would be 5,700 years from now before you finished thinking about that survey. Even at just a minute per galaxy (which seems like short shrift for a collection of a couple hundred billion stars), you'd be at it for 190 years. Then it would be time to start on the southern sky.

And speaking of counting things, just who are you, anyway? This gut check makes us wonder: "In people, some 500 to 1,000 kinds of bacteria reside in this part of the gastrointestinal tract, and these gut microbes outnumber all the cells in your body, perhaps by as much as a factor of 10." You may think you're in charge, but when that community isn't happy, no one is happy.

Charges of "class warfare" are supposed to end arguments. steps up to the challenge: "Letís have a real debate about class in America. Thatís just what the people screaming 'class warfare' fear most, so bring it on."

5.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The Guardian has issued a retraction about their interpretation of Wolfowitz' comments regarding the US' reason for going to war with Iraq. The DOD says he says "The ... difference between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil," so go figure.

Occupational hazards: "Iraq is still a mess, and U.S. troops are still being killed. Can America's new man in Baghdad turn things around?"

An NDTV poll says most Iraqis welcome US as liberators, if not as an occupying force. The Indian Express also reported something that regular readers of his weblog figured out a while ago, that Salam Pax is for real: Peter Maas' testimony on Slate.

4.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Overheard at the door to the stairwell: "...before the money was gone, I was so bored..."

Take a tour of Earth's impact craters, organized in an impressive database.

Is Wolfowitz a loose cannon, gone off the deep end, or what? If his revelations have the blessing of the Bush administration, we have to wonder what they're thinking. Get the shocking truth out of the way now so that by November 2004 it'll be old news and we've all moved beyond that?

"Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

Jim Lobe Asia Times Online forecasts a long, hot summer in Washington DC after "editorials spluttering outrage" from the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal.

I think this would qualify as burying the lede in the New York Times story, "Iraq Arms Report Now the Subject of a C.I.A. Review":

"When Mr. Graham, then the intelligence committee's chairman, finally saw the report, he asked that its findings be declassified in time for the Senate debate on a resolution to support the war in Iraq. When Mr. Tenet provided a letter to Mr. Graham that included some of the report's findings, Mr. Graham complained that only those findings that supported the administration's position on Iraq had been declassified, while others that raised questions were not."

That was the last paragraph.

The Directory of Open Access Journals lists "free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals."

It's Leo Harris' turn, and he wants to talk about bringing classical music to African-American kids who would otherwise never hear it.

Connecting the dots (and slashes) on Justin Frankel's departure from AOL. At 24 and with a few million$ in his pocket, I suppose he'll land on his feet.

Joel on Software and why he doesn't want VC: "(A)s an entrepreneur, you're going to be forced at gunpoint to bet on three cherries again and again and again. You know you're going to lose, but the gunman doesn't care, he's got bets on all the slot machines and one of them is going to pay off big time."

If you don't like his point of view, he's got some great references for further reading.

Technological irony: bad cell phone coverage on Sand Hill Road.

I guess I should mention the name of Jeanette's and Chris' show: Portals / Portales. That might make the excerpt of the P.R. (below) make a little more sense.

3.June.3 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Purple Salsify, up close and personal

Jeanette has an art opening this Friday evening, at the BSU Hemingway Gallery. From the City of Boise Arts Commission press release:

Created by artists Jeanette Ross and Chris Binion, the installation literally opens doorways -- portales in Spanish -- to the universal experience of leaving someplace familiar and settling somewhere unknown. Focusing on Mexican American migration, past and present, the artists weave stories, artifacts and a degree of mystery into two rooms. Passing through the portals, viewers are asked to revisit their own memories and emotions, then leave words behind to inspire the "migrants" who follow in their footsteps.

The reception's at 5:30pm, June 6th, with a "facilitated civic dialogue session" from 6:30 to 8pm. On Saturday, June 7th, families are invited to take part in a shrine-making workshop from 2 to 5pm: "All ages are invited to create a collage display that celebrates a favorite person or memory. Materials and guidance will be provided." The exhibition will be open for the month of June.

Harsh brown potatoes, waiting will be prosecuted, and other funny translations from

2.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

How much electricity do you use in your house or apartment for lighting? A couple of compact fluorescents, an incandescent here and there, maybe a half dozen for decoration, mood or security? I'd guess the local average is a few hundreds of watts to over a kW for people like our next door neighbor who keeps 5 outdoor lights on all night, every night. Can you imagine being in circumstances where one watt could change your life?

"We make no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks," said Barbara Comstock, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department. The implication is that the Justice Department has no plans to make apologies for the side effects of the broad sweep of suspects after 9/11, either.

1.June.03 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Ari Fleischer says that people in the lowest tax bracket would "benefit the most" from the new tax bill. This of course is another Big Lie. The people who benefit the most are in the highest tax brackets. Who do you suppose the message is for? My guess is the broad middle who will see some small benefit and be made to feel good about the fairness of it all. The Bush team does not care about and does not have any use for voters in the lowest tax brackets, except perhaps as extras in crowd scenes.

As Eleanor Clift reports one Republican staffer put it: "(T)he people who just got screwed werenít at the presidentís dinner last week when Bush raised $22 million for Republican campaigns."

Tom Friedman's Theory of Everything: "This is where the story really gets interesting. Because suddenly, Puff the Magic Dragon -- a benign U.S. hegemon touching everyone economically and culturally -- turns into Godzilla, a wounded, angry, raging beast touching people militarily."


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

Sunday, 06-Jul-2003 15:15:50 MDT