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27.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Blasted from Childhood by a Uterus Permalink to this item

It almost felt like Bill O'Reilly was going to have a reasonable discussion about the knee-jerk issue of "sex ed for kindergartners" for his interview with the Reverend Debra Haffner on the subject, but then it broke down to the same old problem he has with listening to anyone who's opinions don't match his own.

"Here's why I object to 'the uterus', There's nothing wrong with the word 'uterus', ok? There's nothing wrong with it. Here's why I object to it, and I object to any kind of specificity in this area for 5-year-olds. You're blasting them out of their childhood..."

It's too much of a "sophisticated biological term" for a 5 year-old. So... which body parts would be OK at that age? Stomach? Intestine? Epiglottis is too tricky, I'm pretty sure. Forget about Testicle, and we certainly don't want to talk about Anuses. Muscle? Bone? Brain?

Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking Permalink to this item

Tennis courts in Boise didn't make the short list for the sidebar of today's NYT story about web tools that bring map annotation to the masses, but "Illinois Yarn Stores" and "Favorite Places to Eat In Seattle While Boating" did, on our way to "creating a new kind of atlas that is likely to be both richer and messier than any other." Call it "the GeoWeb."

"Their accuracy, as with much that is on the Web, cannot be taken for granted."

The breakthrough product would seem to be Google's My Maps, lowering the barrier of entry to near zero. The previous enabling technology, exposure of the Google Maps API, launched a much smaller group into the intracasies of AJAX and the Javascript that drives it, producing tens of thousands of "mash-ups." Just since April, My Maps has spawned four million maps with a dramatically simple edit-in-browser annotation facility.

Microsoft's inevitable me-too offering, Collections, has a million more maps. And the geeky GPS crowd has been tracking themselves all over the place and leaving more than a million trails on Garmin's MotionBased. Flikr has 25 million "geotagged" photos; we all know how nice it is to have "time" stamped on a photo (but preferably not in yellow numbers on the photo itself!), this adds "place."

Congress out of control?! Permalink to this item

The Bush Administration spokespeople are being given increasingly histrionic scripts to read to reporters. Do you suppose it was Karl Rove contemplating his answer to a subpoena who was ghost writing for Scott Stanzel?

"What we are witnessing is an out-of-control Congress which spends time calling for special prosecutors, starting investigations, issuing subpoenas and generally just trying to settle scores."

This on the day that FBI Director Robert Mueller was added to the list of people giving "sharply conflicting testimony" to Alberto Gonzales' peripatetic confabulation before Congressional committees.

26.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

You mean it's not Fair and Balanced?! Permalink to this item

Certainly not when Ann Coulter is absorbing bandwidth, anyway: Check out her opening salvo on the way to ridiculing the most recent Democratic Presidential debate: "Fox News ought to buy a copy of Monday's Democrat debate on CNN to play over and over during the general election campaign." Because... it's going to be news all that time?

Selling Exploits Permalink to this item

How about these hard-working researchers finding security flaws in commercial products and then... trying to "sell" them to the affected parties. If you don't buy the bug (today's low low price of $5,000), or some of their $175 to $200/hr consulting, they'll publish the exploit, how d'ya like that?

"Releasing it is absolutely a last resort for us," Jared DeMott, founder of VDA Labs said.

No kidding; you lose your chance at ransom after you shoot the hostages.

DeMott looks like quite the player, leveraging his experience from Ferris State, John Hopkins, the NSA, Applied Security, Inc., and finally (?), Michigan State University, where he says he's "received" a "PhD (pending) 2008."

RNC's worst nightmare: Hillary Permalink to this item

That's judging by Mike Duncan's latest message to the e-team, under the subject "Stop Hillary!" She's threatening their home turf, by raising a ton of money, "a whopping $63 million" from January through June, according to Duncan. "Unfortunately, that's just the start. She is expected to raise more than $100 million before the end of 2007."

You know how to stop the juggernaut of course, and "keep the Clintons from another another extended stay at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue": send money! Go online and chip in a "vital" $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or even (a measly) $25 today to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee. Whoever that might be.

Shoot the Wounded Permalink to this item

Idaho Senator Larry Craig, soon to be the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Forests and Public Lands, wants to get a little headline news on the backs of firefighters, or at least BLM's fire management. If only we'd grazed more of that land, Craig says, the fire wouldn't have been so bad this year.

Who knew? But it stands to reason, just like the forest products industry reminds us: if we cut down all the trees, we can solve this darn forest fire problem, too.

But count range scientists among those who didn't know. Their opinion is that grazing lets alien species such as cheat grass invade, thereby increasing fuel on rangelands. Jon Marvel of the Western Watersheds Project said grazing is more likely to have made things worse: "There is no evidence that cattle or sheep grazing reduces fire risk, period. Any claims to that end are unverified and anecdotal. Livestock contributes to fire danger."

As the burned acreage crosses the threshold of state-size comparisons (up to "the size of Rhode Island"), I can only imagine how appreciated our Senator's "input" to the BLM must be.

Heath Druzin's report from Lucille ran under the apolitical and undeniable headline for central Idaho: on the Salmon (river), fire is part of life. Holly LeFevre reminds us that firefighting priorities are "to protect life, property and natural resources, in that order."

25.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Yo Brits! How's Your Sex Life? Permalink to this item

If you're planning on coming over here, our Department of Homeland Security would like to know. They're also interested in your religious beliefs and political opinions. We like bland tourists, I'm thinking.

Robert J. Samuelson Is a Bad Person Permalink to this item

It's dangerous to find a good blog; you can be distracted for a long time (to come) by it. Such, I think, is Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal. A quick scan landed me on the story of Robert Samuelson's intellectual three-card-monte, opposing both "strong" and "weak" incentives to easing up on our earthly impact, when each has been proposed in turn.

Economists generally prefer to work on the tax-and-subsidy side rather than on the preferences side, out of a disciplinary commitment to the idea that cash-on-the-barrelhead is strong and pats-on-the-back are weak. But we do what we can: if we cannot pass a BTU tax, telling people who fund carbon offsets or drive fuel-efficient cars that they are good, responsible, moral people is a perfectly orthodox and constructive thing to do.

24.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

"It's almost like he's from Idaho" Permalink to this item

That's the pull quote from Rebecca "Uh blara uh ecca" Greenwell, of nearby Eagle High School, reporting on the President's vocabulary limitations, from Sarrah Benoit's interview with her in today's Statesman. He smells good too, we hear.

Thanks to Jill at NewWest for the tip and commentary.

"He put his arm around me and didn't take it off when he talked to me. That was so cool. He's really nice—almost really flirtatious. I think it's the way he grew up. He's so friendly and talks like he's a little kid."

"I Did Misspeak" Permalink to this item

Andrew Cohen has laid out the case against Gonzales in 4 parts on his WaPo blog, and then we descended into comedic tragedy, at which point he's "running out of words to describe how inept this public servant is." From today's testimony:

GONZALES: I clarified my statement two days later with the reporter.

SCHUMER: What did you say to the reporter?

GONZALES: I did not speak directly to the reporter.

SCHUMER: Oh, wait a second -- you did not. (LAUGHTER) OK. What did your spokesperson say to the reporter?

GONZALES: I don't know. But I told the spokesperson to go back and clarify my statement...

So, I've been saying impeach Cheney first, but Alberto Gonzales is clearly bucking for pole position. How can the Congress let him get away with bald-faced lies under oath? At the very least, he should be cited for contempt.

Idaho is Burning Permalink to this item

Excerpt of the current national map of wildfires In one of my long-ago college chemistry courses, it was observed that if the atmosphere had just a slightly higher percentage of oxygen, fires would start spontaneously even in wet wood. We're not quite there yet, but the warming climate is lowering the threshold to the other leg of the fire triangle, Ignition. Today's Statesman headline was State of emergency declared in 5 counties, over an orange and black picture of the fire above the Snake River at Lewiston that we'd skirted in our trip up north a week ago.

Inside, a map of the 17 major fires in the state, with the largest, the Murphey Complex, now surpassing half a million acres in Idaho and Nevada. That's more than two-thirds of the 1,300 square miles that have burned so far in Idaho.

The fire season around here usually—or used to—peak in August. Maybe this year the wildlands will be too burned out for that.

The folks across the northern plains states—Montana, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Minnesota—don't need a headline to know about the fires out west; same as we can, they can just look out the window and see the smoke.

The forecast is mixed: cooler weather and a "northward increase in monsoonal moisture," but coming with dry thunderstorms and gusty winds. ("Monsoonal moisture" in Idaho is not the drenching inches of rain that the tropics get, but often nothing more than in increase in humidity, moving up as high as 50% at night.)

23.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

It's Not Working Permalink to this item

The Constitution (and all that Common Law that came before it) was supposed to protect us from the arbitrary whim of a monarch and the military that answered only to him. Yes, yes, we're told, but that was before the threat of terrorism appeared.

So we have indefinite imprisonment ("detention") of suspects ("enemy combatants") found in the wrong place at the wrong time, with what little that passes as a judicial proceeding nothing but a sham with a preordained outcome. Colonel Abraham's testimony on Thursday should be interesting; whether the Congress can marshall some action in response to this abuse will be moreso.

Mitt Romney has 29584 friends. Permalink to this item

if i could vote, u would definetly have it. i think ur campaign is on the rite track. and i think many of the mormons will vote for you because u would obviously have several of the same beliefs. good luck on ur campiagn!!

A friend tipped me off that TBogg is following the Romney boys and I'm thinking could this possibly be real? Yes, Virginia, it could. Mitt Romney has a MySpace page, too.

Wife (and "CFO") Ann has a MySpace page too, with kewl video clips like the one of Mitt & I on Larry King Live.

Every now and then, one of my five daughters-in-law (and hopefully my sons as well) will post a favorite family recipe. For the inaugural recipe, I thought I’d post one of Mitt’s favorites which is meatloaf cakes. I received this recipe when we were first married and he’s loved it ever since....

Just say No! No! No! Permalink to this item

If we just look the other way, cover our eyes and say "la la la la la" loud enough, I'm sure that will solve all our problems with "the filthy waters our kids are swimming in."

No, Mitt Romney's not talking about the Charles River basin in his current home state, or the good news that it's (just barely) clean enough to swim in, but rather about his horror at the very idea of age-appropriate, science-based sex education for kindergartners. Is it the basis in science that bothers him, or the sex, we wonder?

21.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain Permalink to this item

Not sure if they're letting Billy Kristol pull any levers these days, but Dan Froomkin quotes the best advice I've heard yet from him, in response to the question from Greenbelt, Md.:

You have been wrong about every important prediction you have made about the outcome of this war and this presidency -- why should anyone pay attention to you now?

"Feel free not to!" writes Kristol.

"The charitable view is that he's lost his mind." –Arianna Huffington

That's after he opines that we're "on course to a successful outcome"; he didn't specify which universe he was referring to. I guess it's the same Bright Side universe, in which George W. Bush's presidency will be a successful one.

20.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The Engine of Self-Justification Permalink to this item

The Talk of the Nation Science Friday segment with Elliot Aronson, co-author of Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), made that sound like a fascinating book. The NPR site has a nice excerpt from it, describing what cognitive dissonance is, and how our complex brains deal with conflicting information.

A More Decent Executive Order? Permalink to this item

I don't see it on the White House site, but the BBC News reports that President Bush has signed an executive order banning the cruel and inhumane treatment of suspects detained and interrogated by US authorities, including use of sexual acts or attacks on the detainee's religious beliefs.

Some of us thought that the Constitution and existing laws (to say nothing of our moral compass) would have already provided for this prohibition, but events during this administration proved that notion false. The Executive Order spells it out for those who couldn't stay awake in High School Civics class, I guess.

Re-establishing the trust, and the benefit of the doubt our nation used to enjoy, and its stature as a beacon to the rest of the world is going to take considerably more than this Order, however. Actions speak louder than words.

But The NY Times' version makes me think that the Order is not as close to re-establishing trust as the Beeb's made it sound. (For starters, is this Order classified, I wonder?) Under the headline C.I.A. Allowed to Resume Interrogations, their lede is that "the White House said Friday that it had given the Central Intelligence Agency approval to resume its use of some harsh interrogation methods in questioning terrorism suspects in secret prisons overseas."

Thereby overriding the Supreme Court's ruling that prisoners in American captivity be treated in accordance with Geneva Convention prohibitions against humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees?! What the hell?

The End of Constitutional Democracy? Permalink to this item

Something chilling about the whole concept of Executive Order, even without one such as this, arrogating emergency power against "certain persons who threaten stabilization efforts in iraq."

Does "undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people" include criticism of the Bush/Cheney war policy? Who's to say it doesn't? Not the Congress or the Supreme Court; just our Unitary Executive.

Economist Paul Craig Roberts, once Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, associate editor of the WSJ editorial page and contributing editor of National Review says we need to impeach now, or accept the consequences of this nascent dictatorship.

He has no conceit that his call will be heeded; and in his discussion with Thom Hartmann, he ends with a hopeful notion that the military will be the force that finally checks the power. Interesting idea.

18.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

WE CARE Permalink to this item

The half we got back from the Post Office That's what the back of this window envelope says in big print. "Plant Manager" extends his or her "sincere apology" for the inadvertent damage to the enclosed document. As it turns out, we got the return address half, and the addressee got the other half, with just enough information in it for them to identify who it came from and call us to ask what was supposed to be in it.

Did half get lost in a machine for a while? Were there hundreds of letters torn in half, and Plant Manager decided they couldn't take the time to match them up? We're not going to know, but at least we know they care.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy Permalink to this item

The news of the assessment of top counter-terrorism officials sounds rather recycled. The central nexus of the threat to our security is in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden remains at large, managing the Al Qaeda network. As it has been for a decade.

We declared the "central front in the war on terror" to be Iraq, because Donald Rumsfeld felt there were better targets over there, and by acting as if it were so, we made it so. Bin Laden probably agrees with George Bush at this point; Iraq is where the mighty armies of the infidel have been drawn, where their fighting capability is being worn down and where David v. Goliath strategies can be refined by trial and error. Our dead are shipped home and mourned. Their dead are celebrated as martyrs in a great cause.

Our strategy to support a military dictator in Pakistan is looking increasingly shaky, with no viable plan B in sight. Democracy?! We're not interested in such an uncontrolled experiment, I think.

(If you get Times Select, you can read Maureen Dowd's version of this opinion, which is a hell of a lot darker and better-written than mine. But that's why you have to pay for her, and you get me free. Scott Shane's news analysis is better too, and that's the same price as mine.)

10.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Anniversary Permalink to this item

I thought I remembered something about this date, but exactly what was escaping me until one of my former co-workers reminded me: 11 years ago today, HP announced the closure of its Disk Memory Division, where I was working at the time.

As the article accurately reported, we had evaluation units (a lot of evaluation units) of our 9GB drive out. And I was working on the follow-on product with twice the capacity, back when 18 GB was a unimaginably huge for a disk drive, and worth something in high 3 figures, back when that was a lot of money.

One at a Time Permalink to this item

Poll: 54% (±3%) of all adults favor, and 40% oppose beginning impeachment proceedings against Dark Branch leader Dick Cheney. For voters, it's a little closer: 50 to 44% (and 6% still undecided). More are undecided about impeaching Bush; perhaps they want to see how the first trial turns out. And Bush's favor/oppose balance is within the margin of error, for both "all adults" and "voters."

9.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Captive Audience Permalink to this item

Jeanette used to instruct her new students that she insisted upon "real or simulated respect" in the classroom. The lighthearted humor helped break the ice, even as it provided a firm expectation that helped establish the environment for learning.

We don't have thought police—yet—but we are working to enforce that simulation. I'm always happy to honor the flag and sing along for the national anthem, but I've never felt compelled to pledge allegiance to the treacly and theologically suspect "God Bless America."

Astoundingly, the fans at Yankee stadium are being corralled, with chains so they can properly show their respect for George Steinbrenner's notions of patriotism. Even more astoundingly, this has been going on since October, 2001.

Obstruction of Justice Permalink to this item

The Weekend Watchdog didn't get his question answered, which was: "Does the commutation of Scooter Libby's jail sentence amount to obstruction of justice on the part of President Bush?"

I think no one on a Sunday talk show wants to be quoted as saying "well, duh!" This Presidential prerogative runs in the family, of course: GHWB put a stake in the Iran-Contra affair with his last minute pardons... and lookee there, Elliott Abrams collected one of those before coming back for another run.

It seems that the White House is haunted.

Ready to Go Permalink to this item

The Articles of Impeachment for Dick Cheney are already drawn up, and consponsors are still signing on, the most recent a week ago. H.R.333 is currently in the House Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

Your Lyin' Eyes Permalink to this item

"Executive privilege" is now needed to ensure Bush's aides won't be testifying under oath in the matter of firings of U.S. Attorneys. But hey, here's a sop: Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor will be "available for private, off-the-record interviews."

Will they be together, the way Dick and George chatted with the 9/11 Commission?

Bush's lawyer's response is convoluted, but gets to the point well enough: hell no, we won't let you have testimony from our aides. (Wouldn't want to impair that "candid advice" and "free and open" communication within the Branch.) is hoped you will agree, upon further reflection, that it is incorrect to say that the President's assertion of Executive Privilege was performed without "good faith."

Paying More for Less, and Fewer Permalink to this item

We haven't gone to see SiCKO, but have heard the criticism: it's propaganda. (What, from Michael Moore? We are shocked, shocked.) This distinguishes it from what the industry provides for counterpoint in what way, exactly?

Somewhere between the battle of the anecdotes and the industry lobby that has had a stranglehold on Congress since before it killed Hillary's attempt at action in the 90's, we need to face facts. Paul Krugman offers two arresting ones:

8.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

FIVE! Permalink to this item

One for the ages. Federer finally had to play 5 sets in a championship, how appropriate that it should be for his fifth straight Wimbledon title. Nadal finally showed a hint that he is human after 7 straight days of the best tennis in the world, his knee giving in ever so slightly as he was dominating the world #1 player in the 4th set. Through the first four games of the final set, it looked like Nadal would grind Roger down...

OUT! Permalink to this item

Fourth set, Wimbledon final, a phenomenal contest between two of the best athletes in the world, almost perfectly matched. And it's time for a discussion of technology. (Unless you're a Nadal fan, I suppose, in which case the technology works just fine, thank you.)

I've got great respect for the linespeople at a match like this, making the call in an instant with the ball going by at a hundred miles an hour or more. Depending on humans to make the call is tough, but what's the alternative?

"The obvious question is, how accurate is it?" John McEnroe asks. "If it's 90%, that means it's wrong 10% of the time." I heard Hawk-Eye was good within 5mm, but Ted Robinson says they deem "3mm" to be acceptable. (The company says "ITF testing in 2006 [showed] an average error of only 3.6mm.") Some of those zoom-in closeups are called in or out with less margin than that; the virtual ball mark is deemed razor sharp, tangent is OUT, anything inside tangent IN.

Hawk-Eye's uncertainty zone How does the system deal with uncertainty, and how should the system show the players, fans and officials what's uncertain?

Here's one idea: add a "gray zone," plus or minus whatever the best system calibration under the playing conditions shows. If the ball is "close," and the gray zone is over the edge of the line, the linesperson's call (or chair umpire's overrule) stands as called.

(And props to Wikipedia for that entry on Hawk-Eye; checking it at the start of the 5th set, someone had already written about that overrule in the 4th set.)

7.7.7 Permanent URL to this day's entry

It's your lucky day, maybe?

A Real Estate Agent's Dream Permalink to this item

David Marshall is still out of breath from his frequent visits to China, frothing about the forest of high-rises still sprouting in Shanghai. None of that fussy regulation to deal with over there, thanks to the "benevolent" dictatorship, happy to move people out of the way for a couple hundred bucks, or a well-placed bribe.

He sees their planning as "masterful." Democracy is "wonderful and the best form of government, but maybe not the best form of government for everybody." We get bogged down in those silly things like protecting our environment. And quality control.

Yes, it is Hot Permalink to this item

Temperature graph from this week at the Boise airport And smoky, as things start to combust in the dryness. Boise's runup to an expected high of a record 107°F yesterday attracted international attention (especially with the cool feature of the Boise River). Some late afternoon clouds came in to take the edge off ever so slightly. Nothing like the one-teens in Las Vegas or Phoenix yet.

Nearly 1 out of 5 Permalink to this item

Those are the apparent odds of getting "substandard or tainted" food or consumer products from China, according to that country's report of some of its inspections, as reported by David Barboza in the NYT.

"Food was laced with industrial chemicals, formaldehyde, industrial wax and dangerous dyes; baby clothes were contaminated with dangerous chemicals, children’s snack food had excessive amounts of preservatives; and old food waste was repackaged and sold as new."

Sold as new "food," I suppose, rather than as "new food waste." Yum.

5.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Big Bang Boom Permalink to this item

I rigged our tandem for night riding yesterday, and we wove our way through the crowd converging on Ann Morrison Park for the return of Fourth of July fireworks in Boise, some years after the River Festival came, sucked the energy out of the holiday, and then went, with sponsorship moola and volunteer energy dried up.

Gathering with a few thousand of our neighbors, eating watermelon in the twilight and bouncing on blankets, I remembered going to Lincoln Park along the Milwaukee River as a child... And jaded though I may be by expensive shows over the years, last night's was very nice, with a "best ever" finale.

I'd been noticing a rather quiet run-up this year, not much lit off last weekend, or Monday and Tuesday. Apparently because the locals were saving everything for last night. (Or at least we can hope that was everything.) The "private" celebrations went on well past midnight, and we kept the house closed against the noise and stink, in spite of the need for cool air as temperatures topped 100°F and keep climbing today and tomorrow.

No one lit our house on fire with anything, happily, but that wasn't universally true, in Boise, and Middleton.

Postcard from Utah Permalink to this item

Charles Uibel's 14 images of "The Great Salt Light" on NewWest are definitely worth viewing an ad at the entrance, and if the Rocky Mountain School of Photography helps you do work like that, more power to them! Outstanding work from Uibel.

Independence Day Permanent URL to this day's entry

Long-term Planning Department Permalink to this item

Ray Kurzweil's buddy (AFAICT), Vernor Vinge, poses the question What If the Singularity Does NOT Happen? The choices he offers are: (1) an afternoon and a few years fall to exinction; (2) the Golden Age; and (3) the Wheel of Time, cycles of megadisasters and recovery. If we get door #3, will we have the resources to re-mount industrial revolutions, or will it be the Middle of Ages, forever? Many commenters think not.

The Automotive Statement Permalink to this item

If you look at the graph in the sidebar of the NYT article about Prius owners' attitudes, over on the left in that low foothill, you can see our purchase, in November 2001.

Our 2001 Prius, at sunset Why was it, exactly, that we bought one of these new-fangled things before they were the rave, were in short supply and priced a little on the high side? It was green (technically, "Aqua Ice Opalescent"), but I don't think color was the deciding factor. Good economy appeals to me, as does good engineering. Low emissions (technically, Super Ultra Low emissions). It was a little bigger, more comfortable, quieter, and peppier than the 1983 Nissan Sentra we were finally ready to replace. (That purchase, in 1987, was based on the Consumer Reports [in]frequency of repair data, and a very comfortable price.) And it was a bit of an impulse decision, to tell the truth, even though no one ever surveyed me on exactly which component of the impulse was most important.

Mary Gatch saying "I felt like the Camry Hybrid was too subtle for the message I wanted to put out there" reminded me of a different message I got out on the road today, when one of the local monster trucks sped past me, and I saw the big number on the front fender (2500, I think it was. Wow! A 2500!) and noted that its bumper was just about at the same level as my head.

That would work really well in a crash, eh? At least for him.

It's not like the bumper needs to be up there, I thought, looking underneath the thing. There is plenty of hardware down closer to the ground, and no "high clearance" purpose served by the thing up at decapitation level. The NHTSA helpfully explains that a bumper is not a safety feature intended to prevent or mitigate injury severity to occupants in the passenger cars. (Their emphasis.) They're designed to protect cars. Maybe at the expense of the safety of occupants of passenger cars, but hey, those big trucks cost a lot of money!

The NHTSA also helpfully suggests "individuals contact their local or state agency responsible for motor vehicle regulations" if you have a problem with that.

But anyway, I'm a granola crunching liberal, just like Peter Darnell, and I like the idea of minimizing the impact on the environment, but I didn't buy the car to tell everyone that. I bought the car because I liked it, and discovered to my delight that it's the finest piece of automotive engineering I've come in contact with.

The competitors struggling to get brand recognition (as listed in the NYT piece) for their me-too hybrids might consider looking a little deeper than the warm fuzzy feelings of buyers, and do their homework on the nuts and bolts.

3.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

With Liberty and Justice for One, Anyway Permalink to this item

Mr. Libby scooted to the head of the line, past 2,500 commutation and 1,000 pardon requests awaiting action from Fearless Leader. George W. Bush has been the stingiest President in history on acting on such requests. He's granted just 3 other commutations, all for people who had already spent 10 years in prison.

And we're told that a pardon hasn't been ruled out. That'll be rolled out on a suitably slow news day, presumably.

2.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Contempt of Court Permalink to this item

There's no mystery about guilt, here. Lying under oath is hard to squirm out of, with that court reporter writing down everything that's said. Libby didn't want to 'fess up though, so no possibility of a pardon? That's the mechanic that's been reported, but given all the other supposedly inviolable rules that our Unitary Executive and Vice-Executive have shown themselves willing to ignore, I expected the prediction to come true.

Bush decided to Commuter Scooter instead , 30 months in jail "too harsh" for someone who was just doing the Vice-President's and President's bidding, after all.

This is the same man found none of the Texas death sentences too harsh while he was governor of that state. A real fan of unitary Justice.

1.July.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The Fun and Profit in Utilities Permalink to this item

I've only finished three of the 8 chapters, but Greg Palast's book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy looks well worth my recommendation, whether or not you follow my Amazon Associates link to obtain a copy and trickle down a few pennies for support of the blog. (As I've said, I like Amazon's reader reviews for their unfiltered, sometimes informative, sometimes entertaining commentary; this time I read the one-stars to see what their complaints were, and found none useful. Trust me, it's not about the referral fees.)

A red Hollyhock flower Chapter 3, "California Reamin'," is about the worldwide corporate takeover and deregulation of utilities, and triggers that sick fascination of watching a horrific accident in slow motion. Except this is no accident, but rather a long-term project designed to transfer wealth from the many to the few. Competent, regulated and inexpensive utilities are almost all I have ever known in my 50-some years in this country, and for as bad as the California experience was, my operating assumption was that things would surely return to "normal" in short order. After reading Palast's account, there doesn't seem to be much reason to make any sort of assumption.

"...Although the idea of allowing for-profit electricity companies to run free of regulation was a poor idea proved worse in practice, virtually every nation adopted England's goofy Thatcherite system. In California, deregulation's victory, though greased by political donations, was won chiefly through an expensive campaign of lobbying and propaganda. In poorer nations of the Southern Hemisphere, privatization and deregulation spread the old-fashioned way: threats, coercion and cash in offshore bank accounts.

"Resistance was futile. The IMF and World Bank made the sale of electricity, water, telephone and gas systems a condition of loans to every developing nation. Since a loan cutoff meant economic death, it was sell or die." (my emphasis)

Enron's spectacular implosion is far from the end of the story, and it seems certain that things will get much worse before they get better on the consumer's end of the utility business, if they ever do.


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Thursday, 09-Aug-2007 08:06:08 MDT