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29.June.06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Charges of treason to spice up the early dog days Permalink to this item

Dan Froomkin: Nuke the Messenger. The House did its part, assembling all its Republicans to wag their resolute fingers at the damnable liberal media for cutting the legs out from under the Administration's spy programs. They must really hate America, musn't they?

Terrorists already knew the government was trying to track them down through their finances, their phone calls and their e-mails. Within days of the Sept. 11 attacks, for instance, Bush publicly declared open season on terrorist financing. As far as I can tell, all these disclosures do is alert the American public to the fact that all this stuff is going on without the requisite oversight, checks and balances.

My emphasis on that. Then there's the double standard whereby the dastardly New York Times is "disgraceful," while the Wall Street Journal gets a free pass.

It's great to be the King Permalink to this item

So you can fly your good buddies down to Graceland on Air Force One. Some things are beyond parody. The Japanese Prime Minister singing "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," to our President, for example.

Freedom to Gerrymander Permalink to this item

Well, not entirely free; the Supremes did strike down one of the Texas districts that Tom DeLay engineered to give the Republicans a 12 vote swing in the House of Representatives.

28.June.06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Gambling with your job Permalink to this item

The headline is amazing enough: 47,600 Take Offer of Buyouts at G.M. and Delphi, as is the statistic that almost a third of GM's and more than half of Delphi's hourly workers are bailing out. But this:

"Analysts said the large number of departures suggests that many workers believe that staying on the job would be as much of a gamble as quitting."

The chairman of the Lean Enterprise Institute sees it as good news (I guess), with this diplomatic statement: "This is a big, big hunk of ballast over the side."

You know things are getting serious when... Permalink to this item

a Republican economist calls for raising taxes. It's Ben Stein's letter to the (presumed) new Treasury Secretary.

Now and then, scornful fellow Republicans ask me what kind of Republican I am, since I'm for higher taxes on the rich. I tell them that I am an Eisenhower Republican, the kind who wants to leave a healthier America to posterity. That includes an economy not headed for the status of a banana republic's economy.

26.June.06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

It's a working vacation Permalink to this item

One of the photos from the Alaskan fishing trip With no second-stringers allowed (except for the resort staff, I suppose). Five-star accommodations, a thousand bucks a night, all expenses paid by... who, exactly? The rich folk who "represent" us in Congress? Their political action committee slush funds? Or the energy companies who are "gone fishin'" at the same time?

Mum's the word in many cases, but perhaps after the third episode of Marketplace's Power Trips story, some answers will have to be produced.

The cast of characters includes at least half of the once-upon-a-time quartet of Singing Senators... were Larry and John somewhere on the gravy train, too?

(P.S. Their link to the audio was broken when I visited. If you get an error, try this.)

The next best thing to being there Permalink to this item

Alan Arnette's as ready as he'll get for the summit bid for Broad Peak, and his latest dispatch got me to thinking with this:

(Our three High Altitude Porters) stood at the base of the last 100' climb and choose not to stand on the true summit. This is quite common in Nepal, Tibet, Pakistan and other countries where it is viewed as disrespectful to stand completely on a mountain summit.

He adds, acknowledging their physical accomplishment, "to be sure, (they) all summitted Broad Peak," but I was struck by this local industry wherein foreign adventure-seekers come to do something that the people who enable the feats will not do themselves.

The end of his dispatch was moving all the same; I couldn't read it out loud to Jeanette without choking up a little. I hope he makes it, or at least makes it back.

There are a thousand reasons to stop and only a few to push on. And those are personal and unique to each climber. Please accept our love of mountaineering.

25.June.06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

This new missile crisis Permalink to this item

David Sanger's light backgrounder on the sort-of standoff with North Korea, makes me think of a couple things. First, oil matters. Otherwise, North Korea would certainly have been the first leg of the "Axis of Evil" to pursue pre-emptively. Secondly, my dismissal of the chances of us shooting down their bird was probably wrong. We must know precisely where that rocket is. The launch phase is the easiest time to hit a rocket (other than pre-launch, that is), because its velocity is lowest, and its position best known.

That credible threat may well be what has kept it on the ground.

Is this a great country, or what? Permalink to this item

"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws."
–John Quincy Adams

Noam Chomsky, invited to speak to West Point Cadets, in April. We saw Chomsky interviewed on Charlie Rose just recently, talking about his new book, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. That was the first I'd seen of him speaking at length, and he turns out not to be as wild and crazed as the right wingnuts who he makes go so ballistic. How about Chomsky on the O'Reilly Factor for a little comic relief. You think? "Just shut up, will you? Just shut up." Ok, maybe not.

As for the human rights violations (of Saddam Hussein), they were horrendous. And here is one of the cases where it really is important to look at facts before you make decisions. And we know the facts. They're not secret. Yes, Saddam Hussein carried out horrendous human rights violations, in fact he's on trial for them right now.... (he's) on trial for crimes that he committed in 1982....

1982 happens to be an important year in US-Iraqi relations. This should be headlines in a free press, in my opinion. It was a very important year. 1982 was the year in which Ronald Reagan dropped Iraq from the list of states supporting terrorism so that the US could start providing him with extensive aid, including military aid, including means to develop biological and chemical weapons, and missiles, and nuclear weapons.... Donald Rumsfeld shortly after went to firm up the agreement...

Talking sense about immigration Permalink to this item

Greg Saunders, on This Modern World. On the one hand, yes it's another wedge issue (not at all pointless if you're in the re-election business), but on the other the real problems are wasting lives and do need solutions. We've been through cycles of pro- (or at least less anti-) and anti-immigration before, but with world population closing on 11 digits, the anti- trend is likely going to dominate until further notice.

The best of both worlds Permalink to this item

Apple's "Boot Camp" seems like a good lure to bring "yeah but" people over to the Mac, giving the security blanket of "you can still run a Windows app if you want to..."

The folks at Parallels seem to have set the hook with their Parallels Desktop for Mac. Walt Mossberg took it for a spin and pretty much raved. A couple of minor limitations, but for $80 $50 (through July 15) "you can run any combination of Mac and Windows programs at the same time, on the same screen. No rebooting is necessary. You can even cut and paste material between Mac and Windows programs, and share files between the two environments." (That last bit is turned off by default, for virus protection!)

(Thanks for the pointer go to a colleague promoting yet another path. Is that the 3rd world, then?)

24.June.06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bring it on Permalink to this item

Never really tested it, and not sure exactly what Kim Jong Il has up his sleeve, but we've got a Lieutenant General who's just sure our missile defense system can shoot down a North Korean bird. Extra credit for the "can-do" attitude, but the chance of him being right on the engineering seems pretty close to nil to me.

There's enough offense to go around Permalink to this item

Exoskeleton for sale cheap, by original owner We knew Dick wasn't going to like the latest exposure, and sure enough, he told us yesterday (while fund-raising), "that offends me."

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has some grounds for indignation as well. "Why does it take a newspaper investigation to get them to comply with the law?"

From the Treasury Department's point of view, just get over it: "people do not have a privacy interest in their international wire transactions," undersecretary Stephen Levey tells us.

Keeping track of your finances Permalink to this item

"There can't be any doubt about the fact that the program is an effective weapon, an effective weapon in the larger war on terror," SecTreas John Snow says. "It's for that reason that these disclosures of the particular sources and methods are so regrettable."

Is that like the "simply stated, there is no doubt" recitation from Dick Cheney, or does he really mean it this time? Can't know. Top secret. War on Terror.

The legalistic argument about why this is OK comes from a familiar genre: "Treasury officials said Swift was exempt from American laws restricting government access to private financial records because the cooperative was considered a messaging service, not a bank or financial institution.

(Swift is the Brussels-based consortium formerly known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. The NYT said it was a "banking" consortium... Treasury officials claim it's a "messaging" consortium, apparently. Like that phone system the NSA likes to listen into.)

All your base are belong to AT&T Permalink to this item

You know those "Privacy Policy" documents that you've been tossing only slightly less easily than the Click-wrap EULAs for your software? They just got a bit more "interesting." AT&T's now requires your consent, as a condition of service from them. And what you must consent to is that they own your confidential data.

Slightly different nuance on last month's statement that they have "a long history of vigorously protecting customer privacy" and that "our customers expect, deserve and receive nothing less than our fullest commitment to their privacy." Expect? Why would you? Deserve? Ha! Do you suppose the NSA supplied legal counsel as well as the staffing for their secret rooms?

23.June.06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Rule of Law, or Memorandum? Permalink to this item

The Bush Administration has attracted and nutured legal opinions that may well live on in infamy, unless they are overshadowed by the Roberts Court. John Yoo, Robert Delahunty, Alberto Gonzales, Stephan Hadley, David Addington and no doubt others whose names don't spring to mind have rendered decisions on what rights that others fought and died for should survive in the age of asymmetric warfare.

The general answer has been "not so much," and "only what we say." The Congress has been nearly supine in this affair, the Supreme Court now reshaped in the authoritarian vision of Cheney and Rumsfeld. Will we be left with Memoranda substituting for Law?

Before the smoke in New York had settled in 2001, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel had rendered the classified opinion that "the president's authority to wage preemptive war against suspected terrorists was virtually unlimited, partly because proving criminal responsibility for terrorist acts was so difficult." (Washington Post, Jan. 5, 2005; my emphasis)

In Shafiq Rasul, et al. v. George W. Bush, President of the United States, et al., the Supreme Court finally imposed some small modicum of law, "struck down indefinite detention without legal process" in the assessment of at least one press release. That was June, 2004. Two years later... (read more)

22.June.06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bamboozled Permalink to this item

Hard to believe Turd Blossom's going to come out of this smelling like a rose, but we're a ways down that road: David Corn, on The Perfect Stonewall.

Of, for and by some people Permalink to this item

It shouldn't be a surprise that the folks running the House of Representatives and the Senate are more sympathetic to dead millionaires than the working stiffs pulling down minimum wage. Congressional salaries have a nice automatic boost built-in (it's great to be in charge of your own salary!), legislated 18 years ago.

The rank and file members of the House pull down something north of 15 times the minimum wage: $165,200, with a lot more time off, the pension and on and on. Hard to relate to the $10,500 annual salary from that perch.

The minimum is now down to its lowest point in buying power in 50 years.

Three and Out Permalink to this item

After all those yellow and red cards, the ref finally let 'em play; tough luck for the US side and captain Claudio Reyna, taking a knee to the inside of the shin on a foul tackle from Draman, losing any chance to help his keeper against the 1 on 1 and what turned out to be the first of two goals for Ghana.

But wait, there's more! A penalty awarded for... a clean header by Onyewu?! Not that he doesn't commit a lot of fouls, but that was a horrible call. He had position, he went up for the header and the attacker fell down. Where's the foul?

That's 2 for the man in yellow, and 1 for the USA. Italy took care of the Czech Republic for us, but we couldn't get our part done, working with the 11 on 12 disadvantage.

Well, only scoring one goal in 3 games hurt our chances, too.

Listening to Old Europe Permalink to this item

In a unilateral world, with one hyperpower, it's a concern to some of us on the inside that our Head Man doesn't have the ability to see himself as others see him. After perfecting the Cowboy persona and polishing it with a whiff of flyboy, strutting around the world stage with a bandolier of nukular weapons, he finds it "absurd" that anyone would feel threatened by our program to "spread peace and democracy."

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel stepped up to his—our—defense, based on gratitude for our WWII performance. Not without qualification, however; Schüssel's statement on the subject of "victory" struck me as profound. I hope George Bush was listening:

"We can only have a victory in the fight against terror if we don't undermine our common values. It can never be a victory, a credible victory over terrorists if we give up our values: democracy, rule of law, individual rights."

It might also be good news that Bush wants to shut down Gitmo, even if our credulity is strained to think the holdup is him waiting for the Supreme Court to decide how the prisoners should be tried.

20.06.2006 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Studying what we already know dept. Permalink to this item

It's all about me: Why e-mails are so easily misunderstood. Mostly because they can't carry emotion the way tone of voice and body language can: "Not only do e-mail senders overestimate their ability to communicate feelings, but e-mail recipients also overestimate their ability to correctly decode those feelings." We tend to "assume others experience stimuli the same way (we) do."

Fair and impartial Permalink to this item

That's the military solution to "excessive" press coverage: since everybody can't cover the story, let's have no one cover it.

18.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Paying attention will save lives Permalink to this item

Some kind of horror flick, from instrumenting the cars of 241 drivers for a little over a year, and watching what caused the crashes and near-crashes. "(D)river inattention was the overwhelming cause of the crashes in the study."

"The study found that drivers were overconfident or very poor at predicting when it was safe to look away from the road to perform another task. Driving situations can change abruptly, but many drivers seem to be lured into thinking the world outside the moving car can be put on hold while they pay attention to other things."

And as if you needed a scientific study to confirm this, they also found that "leased cars were driven more carelessly than personally owned vehicles."

17.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

No beasts in OUR system Permalink to this item

While doing a little legislative research, I came upon information for electronic data record developers, listing the numbers that the Social Security Administration won't issue. It includes all 0s, all 1s, etc. Numbers starting with 000, with 00 in the middle pair, and ending with 0000 are excluded. Starting with 900 is n.g.

And no numbers issue that start with 666. They say 999 is OK, but it seems kind of risky to me.

16.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Boom, bust and reclamation (busts) Permalink to this item

warning sign, from the Center of the American West's report Nicholas Collias writes in The Boise Weekly about The Six Million-Dollar Watershed around Idaho City, and a new effort to restore it to some semblance of natural health.

If you've seen the miles of gravelly tailings piles alongside the town, you'll recognize this as a Big Job. But imagine this: the US Bureau of Mines reportedly estimated "that the West contains 500,000 abandoned mines, and that 40 percent of western watersheds are contaminated by drainage from mines, as are 180,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs."

The report that cited that mystery estimate noted it might be an overestimate.... and the Bureau of Mines went away in 1996, its funding used to balance the budget. So... groups like Trout Unlimited can clean up what's left, if they like. One of our thousand points of light.

That uncomfortable discussion you need to have Permalink to this item

Regina Lynn: The Naked Truth About Sex Ed. Any chance we can move beyond the culture of parental denial (Just Say No! Forever!) and discuss this calmly? The promise of the book's subtitle is indeed alluring: "A Guide to Intelligent Sexual Choices for Teenagers and Twentysomethings."

"As a physician, I can no longer trust government sources."
– Ruther Shaber, MD

In the context of the "incredible daily bombardment of hypersexuality through pop culture" and "easier access to pornography than any previous generation," the conservative response of No Sex Discussion is an absurd denial of reality at best, damaging lies at worst. Pre-sex discussion. What a concept.

Instead, we have religious zealots doing their damndest to make us better Christians. The subheads from the Glamour article, The new lies about women's health, reads like Pandora's Box:

It's going to take more than just scientists fighting, however.

Queue the nostalgia Permalink to this item

Joel remembers his first BillG review in honor of the announced retirement (or something) of BillG. Amusing tour back to the "old" days of the early 90's, and to the epoch.

(Just as with Microsoft's products, Gate's announcement came out long before the promised delivery date. More vaporware?)

15.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

This nose thumb's for you Permalink to this item

Take your beery award and keep it, the Saudis say. Not because they don't want to be tools of advertising, but because they don't want to be tools for advertising that. What would they do with the mug anyway? anyone found in possession of alcohol in the kingdom faces flogging."

Who's cutting and running? Permalink to this item

The Democrats called for a debate about the war in the House of Representatives. (That would be the one Congress didn't want to declare, and just delegated to the Bush hawks.)

The Republicans delivered... a resolution, that honors, congratulates, declares, and "calls upon the nations of the world to promote global peace and security" by standing with us. And declares we will prevail.

10 hours of speechifying. Speaker Dennis Hastert telling us that his first-hand experience shows the troops' moral--er, morale--to be "sky high." We need to do more than just support our troops, we need to support the mission. No matter how misguided, no matter how much it was based on mistakes (at least) and outright deception, no matter how expensive?

No, I'm sorry, that isn't he way it works in my democracy. We support the troops by only asking them to put their lives on the line for the right mission.

Hastert warmed to his task, stuck out his lower lip, and fully conflated the attack of 9/11 with the misbegotten war in Iraq. What an embarassing substitute for true patriotism.

John Murtha stepped beyond the sound bites and spelled out the facts of the situation. They're not good. He proposes we "redeploy and be ready." Cut and run?

Rep. Henry Hyde followed, reading his script considerably less ably, after this profound preamble: "I yield to myself such time as I may consume."

14.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

It's cheap for a reason, eh? Permalink to this item

If you want cheap ink refills, you no doubt know where to go. But you'll get what you pay for, and you're not paying for the engineering that goes into making a durable product.

"We're not talking small difference either. WIR found that HP cartridges and paper, for example would last somewhere around 75-100 years (framed under glass and exposed to light, printed on various HP Papers) where Office Depot refills would last only 0.4 years and Rapid Refill Inks about 1 year under the same conditions...."

The Mehlman delivers on Comedy Permalink to this item

RNC chairman Ken Mehlman on The Daily Show (get your copy in WMV or QT) cracks 'em up with this howler:

JS: Do you think the President and Vice-president will be more open with the American people?

KM: Well I think they are pretty open right now, and I think they'll continue to be open.

San Franciscophobia Permalink to this item

Garrison Keilor fires for effect in his Old Scout column, with a NOTE TO REPUBLICANS: THE PARTY'S OVER.

You might not have always liked Republicans, but you could count on them to manage the bank. They might be lousy tippers, act snooty, talk through their noses, wear spats and splash mud on you as they race their Pierce-Arrows through the village, but you knew they could do the math. To see them produce a ninny and then follow him loyally into the swamp for five years is disconcerting, like seeing the Rolling Stones take up lite jazz. So here we are at an uneasy point in our history, mired in a costly war and getting nowhere, a supine Congress granting absolute power to a president who seems to get smaller and dimmer, and the best the Republicans can offer is San Franciscophobia? This is beyond pitiful. This is violently stupid.

Fortunes come and go Permalink to this item

The old IBM campus in Tucson, AZ, 1997 In the late 1990s, while participating in one of the last great leaps of a storage technology I had occasion to visit more than one aging monument to the earlier days. Some were the anonymous shells housing bit players (ar, ar); one had lost enough inhabitants to have changed hands and turned the landlord into a tenant, as it searched for some sort of new life.

All this comes to mind upon reading of the pending demise of Bell Labs, once a technological icon, now a null set for generations named with letters.

We stand on the shoulders of giants, even if we demolish the buildings they used to conjure magic. There are new buildings to build, in new places. Tucson may still be trendy, but Holmdel, N.J.? Definitely old school.

Whereas The Dalles, Oregon would be new school.

11.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Ho hum, more identity theft Permalink to this item

And this time it was "only" information for 1,500 people. Is the fact that "the data theft occurred in a computer system at a service center belonging to the National Nuclear Security Administration in Albuquerque, New Mexico" significant, do you suppose?

Names, SS#s, date-of-birth, a code where the employees worked and codes showing their security clearances.... stolen by someone who "penetrated a number of security safeguards in obtaining access to the system," as opposed to say, found a laptop in a restaurant without knowing what was on it.

Oh, and this happened last September but senior officials were notified only last week.

No Plan B Permalink to this item

Dana L.'s story of what happens when there's no Plan B is just one of many to come, following the campaign to outlaw abortion, contraception and the enforce a notion of "sanctity" that violates human rights. Because teenagers might have sex?! Horrific as it may seem to some in this country, teenagers will have sex. Get over it. Teach them about sex, commitment, abstinence, contraception, honesty, morality, and they will be able to make mature decisions. Without coercion.

Going downhill Permalink to this item

Martin Schram:

A diabolical plot has been uncovered to severely damage America's once-proud image as a global superpower that is also a beacon of civility and humanity. And it looks like our best (and maybe only) chance for halting the damage-doers before they shatter what is left of America's global image is to hope that the nation's most patriotic conservative hard-liners will be so outraged that they will rush into battle...

That's because the men behind the plot don't listen to the half of the country that didn't elect them. The military, our place of respect in the world community, any pretense to the moral high ground... what's next?

9.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

NASA cancelling earth science satellites Permalink to this item

It used to be that denial took the form of "we need more study." The latest round of cuts at NASA sounds like the Bush administration is moving to beyond passive aggression. Earth science, who needs that? It's nowhere near as cool a sound bite as going to Mars.

But isn't stewardship the Christian thing to do? Of course it is, but the religion of acting out our highest ideals, is not the easier-to-come-by religion of show piety and magical thinking that is more the rage these days.

Immigrants suggest he go first Permalink to this item

Bush suggests immigrants learn English.

Professional Golf Management Permalink to this item

While driving home late yesterday evening, chopped arcs of spray from big fairway sprinklers at Fairmont Junior High, backlit by the setting sun, caught my eye, and gave me a shot of nostalgia for my brief experience as Night Waterman at the UofI golf course in Moscow, Idaho. It was fun while it lasted, but not something I imagined you could make a career of. I know there's a lot of money at attention given to the sport, but a college degree for looking after it?

The Nut Feed goes on Permalink to this item

Officially known as the Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed, everyone in the neighborhood uses the more direct Anglo-Saxon approach to naming a spade a spade. The AP sent out the news under a poetic Testicle Festival headline, and it's for a good cause and all (the Eagle Volunteer Fire Department)... but why would you want to eat those? Sheesh.

Admonished, rebuked, resigned Permalink to this item

Tom DeLay gets a few digs in on his way out the door. Nice and early, so his Party can come up with an appointed replacement who can be an "incumbent" in time for the fall election.

I imagine if he stays out of jail he'll find plenty to do in Virginia, and can probably get paid much larger sums than he got as a Congressman, with no need for illegal or unethical fundraising. Maybe his wife and daughter can find PAC work too, just like the good old days.

You can't go home again Permalink to this item

That pithy observation had to do with the changes in "you," rather than in your home. It might be the same place, but you're different. In Ika Septihandayani's case though, she really can't go back to the home she knew because it's gone, as a result of the earthquake in central Java. The good news is that none of her family were among the nearly 6,000 people who were killed.

Exchange programs for high school students seem to me to be one of the great hopes for peace in the world, through the deep understanding that can only come from experience of different cultures. Brad Hem's story about Ika in The Idaho Statesman gives plenty of examples.

7.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Best software writing Permalink to this item

Sounds like an oxymoron, even if any category has to have a superlative. (New marketing slogan: You don't have to be good to be the best!) But actually, it's the title of what sounds like an interesting book, if we can believe the introduction from Joel Spolsky, which his writing leads me to believe I can. Believe, that is. That it's a good book. Of course, Joel ought to think all the examples assembled in the book are good ones; he chose them.

Why am I dredging up this year-old item, besides the fact that I've added it to my wish list so you can send it to me for Father's Day? I was making a point about getting someone's attention in email versus other channels... and reported that my Inbox currently has 472 unread items. The email pointer to this Joel On Software entry was the oldest, received not quite one year today.

Turns out it was worth saving, and reading, after all. Now just 471 to go!

Overloading Permalink to this item

In time of roses Not sure why thought to republish the article about "road rage" from the June Archives of General Psychiatry, but I do know that the shrink team should have come up with a name that didn't compress down to "IED." The Iraq war has given IED over to "improvised explosive device" leaving "Intermittent Explosive Disorder" to play permanent catch-up. Intermittent Temper Tantrums would've worked. You can charge more for diagnosing a "disorder," than a tantrum, I'm sure. And put some fine points on it: you need "three separate incidents in one's lifetime," with incidents "involv(ing) damage or harm to property or other people."

They didn't say exactly how much damage or harm, but they did report a statistic or two: "Researchers also found the average number of incidents over the lifetime of someone who suffers from intermittent explosive disorder to be 43, resulting in $1,359 worth of damage, according to the Associated Press."

That's a little more than $31.60 per incident.

You'll be pleasantly relieved to find out that there's a pharmaceutical solution to your problem: just have some of these selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and you'll smooth right out. Oh, and some "cognitive-behavior therapy teaches people how to handle feelings of frustration or threat that often lead to explosive episodes."

Leave this to the professionals, though: study co-author Emil Coccaro says: "If people think these explosive outbursts are just bad behavior, they are not thinking of this problem as a serious biomedical problem that can be treated." Someone's lawyer will be telling that to the judge, very soon.

Incredible little spinning things Permalink to this item

It'll be 10 years ago next month that HP announced that DMD in Boise was Done Making Disk drives. Back then, I was working at the bleeding edge of the technology, trying to maximize the gigabytes in packages that always seemed too small. We were closing in on double-digit's worth of GB, with about one per 3½" disk, hoping to get triple digits of dollars at retail for one of our machines. (Yeah, and back then, the dollar was worth something.)

We were a relatively small player in that market segment, and our demise was but a blip in the larger scheme of things. Technology marched ahead, dollars-per-gigabyte continued its inexorable downward slope and each new product announcement seemed more amazing than the last.

Today's is of course no exception: 200GB jammed into two little platters in a 2½" HD. The science and engineering going into these things is nothing short of astounding, and we have come to take it all for granted. The utter lack of any durable price premium for the products is even more astounding (and why we take them for granted). Drives are dirt cheap; how do the companies making them stay in business?

6.6.6 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Omens? Permalink to this item

If I believed in such things, getting into the car and seeing the trip odometer sitting on 66.6 this morning might have unnerved me, but of course it was just a humorous coincidence. I didn't even make the connection with the Mark of the Beast until a buddy brought it up in an email yesterday evening.

5.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Civil War as a Good Thing Permalink to this item

Edward Luttwak sees the way forward for Iraq as "especially atrocious" but necessary, to bring about peace. All part of the big neocon plan?

Other than camping out in the Green Zone and their desert bases, the US military is just "interfering with Iraq's civil war," delaying the peace that only war can bring.

Just how far does this support for marriage go? Permalink to this item

Senator Crapo (or at least his staffer) apparently isn't willing to say what he would and wouldn't do in defense of marriage. Presumably he will participate in this week's circus though. Good for the Party. Takes the rubes' mind off more important matters.

Thank You for Eating Permalink to this item

Big Tobacco and Big Food are rather close bedfellows, with "insatiable" always on the menu. Michael Pollan describes the "reverse hook" of attacking the messengers with the label "Food police," the same sort of tactic that gave political correctness a bad name. (In case you missed that previous fight: there's nothing wrong with civility.)

Astroturf groups such as the Center for Consumer Freedom, and the Heartland Institute are working hard for the freedom of big corporations to practice abusive marketing without the unseemly business of fact and reporting getting in their way.

In an interview with the trade publication Chain Leader a couple of years ago, Mr. Berman explained that one of the best ways to "push back" against criticism of the industry was to "shoot the messenger."

(Works well in the political sphere, too.) The C for CF thinks Harriet Brown's recent essay in the NYT is "fantastic," presumably without irony.

Learning from history Permalink to this item

Ted Sorenson has some experience with averting crisis. Is there anyone in Washington leadership today who has the ability to take advantage of it?

The crucial question is in the minds of the men at the top. They've shown more favor toward the notion that war is swell than in only using the military as a last resort.

The War on Poverty Permalink to this item

Paul Krugman asks "Congress has already declared that the budget deficit is serious enough to warrant depriving children of health care; how can it now say that it's worth enlarging the deficit to give Paris Hilton a tax break?"

But he answered his own question further up the column: it'll be a procedural vote. And if that won't get the job done, I'm sure a conference committee packed with Republicans can take care of things.

3.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Electronic Lynching Permalink to this item

Matt Drudge's got nothing on the Chinese: "Within days, the hundreds had grown to thousands, and then tens of thousands, with total strangers forming teams that hunted down the student, hounded him out of his university and caused his family to barricade themselves inside their home."

The Chinese call it "Internet hunting, in which morality lessons are administered by online throngs and where anonymous Web users come together to investigate others and mete out punishment for offenses real and imagined."

Just in time for the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution.

The New Math Permalink to this item

I wonder if my most recent math student was a victim of "constructivist" math?

All kids, regardless of their individual strengths, weaknesses or styles, learning specialists say, need to be grounded in the basic building blocks of math and language skills before they can take the next great leap into creative thinking or abstract thought or more advanced mathematics.

I'll second that.

Judith Warner's NYT blog entry includes a link to Bas Braams' links, articles, essays, and opinions on K-12 Education.

And something from the natives Permalink to this item

The traveling Lewis and Clark Bicentennial exhibit was in Boise for the week leading up to the Memorial Day weekend, with lots of interesting and free events. This version of history is considerably more mult-faceted than the story that came back from the wild West in the early 1800s, however. We're hearing more than one version now, "many voices."

Next stop is Lewis and Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, from June 5th through the 17th, culminating with a national signature event: the Summer of Peace among the Nimiipuu. Couldn't come at a better time.

Calling you emigrants Permalink to this item

Send Money Home The news is out: we need current and former Idahoans to rally for the first Congressional District race this fall. You don't want to have to keep hiding the fact that you came from here, do you? Send money.

When worlds collide Permalink to this item

Dark purple iris, after rain showers It's the Clash of the Titans, over the Portable Document Format (PDF). For the press, Adobe says they publish the standard standard "in its entirety and make it available for free, without restrictions, to anyone who cares to use it. No one needs permission from Adobe to build their own product with the PDF standard."

In the private meetings with Microsoft, they apparently say "take it out, or else." Apparently the warm embrace from Bill Gates didn't make up for him picking their pockets?

When worlds really collide Permalink to this item

They leave a big dent: as in a crater the size of Ohio. Big rock might explain the greatest show on Earth, the extinction event of 250 million years ago that marked the Permian-Triassic boundary, and created the ecological opportunity that became the Age of the Dinosaurs.

They ruled the roost for a long time, until the "Tilt!" light came on again, 65 MYA. One might say God works in mysterious ways, but solar system pinball seems more brute force than mystery.

2.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bushlandia Permalink to this item

Those wily Brits sent a reporter to find out what the waning heartland of support for our President is like, on the occasion of the mid-year inauguration for SecInt Dirk Kempthorne's replacement.

Just when I was thinking I could possibly take a liking to Jim Risch, I hear he's popping inanities such as this: "President Bush is one of our greatest presidents, and he's one of our bravest presidents. People know what's in his heart." That's like one of those Sunday puzzlers—how many things wrong can you find in this short quote?

All I can tell you Oliver is that it's just as incredible and mystifying to some of us who live here as it is to the outside world.

Cover Art Permalink to this item

Boise Weekly is getting its web act together, including a year's worth of the original artwork they've select for their front cover.

When looks can kill Permalink to this item

Male murderers with stereotypically "black-looking" features are more than twice as likely to get the death sentence than lighter-skinned African American defendants found guilty of killing a white person, Stanford researchers have found.

Bank robber in the hood Permalink to this item

We were alerted by Boise's automated phone calling system, describing the guy and where he was last seen; headed south on Cole, the next street over! Except we got the call at 4:30, and the bank robbery happened at 1:00. Presumably (and hopefully) he'd made plenty of tracks out of the neighborhood by that time. Anyway, we didn't see him, but heard about the thing on news. Shots fired! Glad we didn't happen to have business at the bank today.

The Big Bee Permalink to this item

That national Spelling Bee was WAY over the top. Where did they dig up these words? Holy cow.






I'm a pretty good speller, but any one of those would have bounced me. Wehrmacht I would've got, having studied German. We've come a long way since knack was the winning word. Those five words bounced 3 of the 5 who were eliminated in round #8. Nine left.

Hawai'ian is easy: hardly any letters. But how do you hear that extra 'a' in there? I would've missed that one, too.

Another German one, I can do that. (As if it would matter after I missed "mithraeum."

Lophophaetosis? Nope. Lophophytosis. Gotta study some more Greek.

Babism - no revelation is final. Persian. Missed it.

Hey, our hechscher misspeller got back in. Hechsher close enough?! No, she had it right, and they had it wrong on their word list.

Towhee - missed that. "Also called 'Chewink'." Imitative?! The bird says "towhee," and then it says "chewink," apparently.

Coryphaeus - no way. Weak in Greek.

Colereum? Nope... Collyrium.

Nidharshan Anandasivam. Let's see one of those judges spell this kid's name! But he and I couldn't spell paillon, even with a little French.

Croquignole?! finished round 10, with five left.

Heiligenschein. What a great word. (And it's German.) Holy light. The bright spot of light around the shadow of the observer's head, cast on dewy grass.

Hukilau. More Hawai'ian. Sounds like a good time. (But I missed it.)

Austausch. More German, and more atmospherics, and we're into the final words.

Icteritious. Right. Down to two.


Maieutic. Man, all those extra vowels in there!

Aubade. Oh bawd!

Poiesis. I actually got that one. Fifteen championship words left, and now it's a battle between the girls and the word list.

Kanone. An expert skier, Italian to German.

Tutoyer. Is that English?!

Izzat. Arabic to Hindi. Is it?

Koine. Rockin'! These two are amazing.


Weltschmerz! Ah, the world is too much with us. "Sentimental pessimism." Only one German pronunciation. Aren't we supposed to be spelling English words? She missed the 'w' for the 'v' sound.

Kundalini. Use the force Katherine! Sanskrit. One word away from the championship.

Ursprache. Ok, I could've done that. (Had I not missed 20 words before that.) Ausgezeichnet!

1.June 06 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Contempt for Congress Permalink to this item

Bill Sali wants to bring the same high caliber performance to the Big House that he delivered to Idaho's House. Idahoans don't mind refreshing candor, and our past performance has demonstrated we're happy with low expectations.

"Much of the time in the Legislature, critical-thinking skills are not necessarily needed," Sali dryly noted , figuring that even with "brain fade" and impaired memory as a result of a car wreck he had a leg up on most Idaho legislators.

It's possible, just possible, that voters in this state are ready to aim higher and vote for a legitimate candidate in the first Congressional District.

The other thing in Larry Grant's favor is that the main force behind Sali, the Club for Growth, would appear to hold the state Republican party in similar contempt, extolling the "great victory" from his garnering one-quarter of the vote in a 6-way race. They helped. A lot.

The Cash Flow Virus Permalink to this item

A senescent Gazenia flower head Reading about Microsoft's bid to take over your anti-virus, anti-phishing, and firewall tasks for the low, low price of $50 a year makes me think about lock-in. A merchandising dream, especially when the "merchandise" is bits that take some doing to put together but then replicate for free. 40 or 50 million subscribers and there's a nice $2 billion cash flow. For stuff they ought to be doing anyway, right? There's a Windows firewall now, for example, and of course most of the virus exploits have to do with flaws in the operating system you're renting from Microsoft.

But I'm paid up through October, and unless the incumbent does something really stupid I'm not going shopping before then. I'll keep the competition in mind (and expect that Trend-Micro's price/performance will be better for it, at least).

Who else has you locked-in to their services and sending monthly cash? Some spawn of Ma Bell, of course. And her red-headed mobile stepchildren. The cable (or dish) guy. Water, sewer, trash, electricity, gas. ExxonMobil! Well, you can buy or not buy their product in any given month, but most of us are buying at least that regularly. Insurance. Health insurance. Uncle Sam. Your bank loans.... Everybody's got a racket.

The best of them would seem to be those you pay for things NOT to happen, like "anti-virus." In the best possible outcome, NOTHING WILL HAPPEN, and you'll be glad, to the tune of $50/year. Insurance is like that too, but the difference is that when something bad DOES happen, there's some non-zero chance that your insurance company will return some of your investment. (You may even get more than you put in.)




Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Sunday, 02-Jul-2006 07:47:46 MDT