Friday, August 29, 2003

Maybe it's time to start an Ashcroft death watch. It's good to see Republicans coming to their senses about basic civil liberties.
Andrew Parker has an excellent explanation for the Cambrian explosion of species. It seems that before that no animal had very good vision. They found prey relatively inefficiently by smell or by touch. Neither predator nor prey needed to move very fast if at all. When some predators developed the ability to see the rules changed. Movement, camoflauge, and bodily defenses became particularly important. Under the new selective pressure there was an explosion of variations.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Salaam Pax's father gets his house searched by Americans. It's a mess over there. We are shaking down people for nothing based upon the flimsiest of information. If they didn't hate us before, they will soon.
A new idea about the Permian extinction. A catastrophic release of deep ocean dissolved methane.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Some most excellent bad news for the Bush administration. Karl Rove exposes CIA agents identity. When they come to get him it will be none too soon.
The recognition of Bush's long list of broken promises continues to grow. (Jim Wallis is one of my heroes.)
When is disobeying the law civil disobedience and when is it a simple abuse of power? Findlaw has an answer.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Add this to the list of big lies: "Conservatives are tough on terrorism, while liberal Democrats are soft."

"The failure of Bush's national security team to recognize the threat of al-Qaida, even after they were clearly warned, will rank among the most serious mistakes ever made by U.S. government officials. They had billed themselves as 'the grown-ups,' condescending to the Democrats they replaced and asserting that their experience would return steady guidance to American policy. Instead, these veterans of previous Republican administrations fumbled and fooled around with ancillary issues while an elusive new enemy prepared to strike. They weren't prepared. They had no plan. They hadn't seen what was coming. They had ignored the warnings. Their judgment was as deluded as their self-image."
Tim Noah concludes that the GOP is guilty as charged. They are subverting democracy. In Al Sharpton's words, "Let's do it again until I win."

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Alternet had some interesting stuff today.

Here's a story about a cheap, easy, effective and reversable male contraceptive. No drugs coursing through the body. One simple treatment can last 10 years. Can be reversed anytime. No more complicated than an injection.

How Homeland Security money does little for the homeland. Funds go to the toys Washington needs to spy on its citizens but local mandates are unfunded.

And how greed has become our new national role model.
Along with his trip to the Pacific Northwest to do some (hopefully precious little) fundraising Bush plans to hijack a successful forest management program and claim that it somehow relates to his healthy (read no-) forests initiative.

Interestingly enough he plans to stop in my fair community tomorrow and pontificate on one of the nearby dams. The local paper made it clear that only the high-ranking Republican party faithful willl have a chance of catching a glimpse of him. The rest of us just have to put up with the incovenience of having our local airport shut down and our commuter traffic all screwed up so he can get an essentially meaningless photo-op. I wonder if they will have all the material cleaned up from that mobile meth-lab that crashed along the route to the dam. Wouldn't it be a howl if they had to HAZMAT his limo after the photo-op?
Oh and by the way, here is another reason to hate Bush and his peeps.
Today Zogby reports that more people will vote against Bush than for him. It just keeps getting better.
Reasons to hate George. Good ones to my way of thinking.
Another reason to fund scientific endeavors.: It's good for democracy.
"That science, even 'pure' science, can strengthen democracy and promote public participation in the political process, both in the United States and throughout the world, is hardly ever mentioned. It should be. Scientific literacy energizes democracy, I suggest, and this is an important ancillary benefit of the promotion of science."

Could also go towards explaining why the same people who are intent on subverting the democratic process also find it easy to suppress science.
As if the California recall wasn't enough of a circus, research shows that candidate name order on the ballot will make a difference in the election. In the 2000 presidential race, W got a 9% bump when he was listed first on the ballot.

This opens up the issue of ballot order in all elections. Election officials are going to have to format and distribute ballots so that any name-order bias is balanced out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Well, I'm glad we finally settled this. Unfortunately unemployed astrologers may have a negative effect on employment statistics.
"The first, known Segway sting operation has gone down in New York with a 24-year-old student being arrested on felony scooter theft charges."
This may be a conspiracy theory but there have been a number of related actions taken behind the scenes by a small group of top government officials that may make Iran-Contra look like child's play.
Fareed Zakaria: Suicide Bombers Can Be Stopped

Monday, August 18, 2003

The problems with deregulation:
"Electric utilities represented a huge industry that was heavily regulated or in public ownership. How inefficient, cried the free market evangelists! Regulation and public ownership are making us all pay far too much for this commodity.
So the utilities were privatised and split up; the regulations were lifted, and markets even up to the level of spot markets were introduced.
And at first, it worked. After all, with such a cushion of overcapacity, prices had to fall, even if it was below the cost of production for many generators. Some industry insiders pointed out that surplus capacity was shrinking, as no one could justify new capacity on financial grounds, and that maintance and upgrading of transmission networks was being postponed or cancelled to keep costs down, but any company that listened would quickly find itself uncompetitive. "
TV cameraman killed

Note to cameramen: Please make your cameras look different than RPG launchers. The Palestine Hotel and now this.
Coral Reefs' Decline Actually Began Centuries Ago, New Research Shows

Humans are still the problem but we started it long ago when we began to be effective at harvesting the larger marine species. The decline can be traced to the arrival of the first humans in the area. Our oceans are in trouble and we need to do something about it while there is still time.

Friday, August 15, 2003

(via Hesiod) Yet another campaign point. Republicans are the Cause of the Largest Blackout in American History.
An alternate explanation of global warming. Could be true but needs more testing to validate.
There is a seamy side to Free Trade that needs to be addressed in future trade arrangements.

"The gap between rich and poor countries has widened, and the legal disputes that accompany new trade agreements have actually raised, rather than lowered, tensions among nations. Free market 'reforms' imposed by trade agreements on poor nations often produce a thin layer of globally connected elites, while further impoverishing and angering the poor."
This bit of technical news is oddly appropriate having been released the day after our country's largest blackout.
The development of cognitive machines may be a watershed event for our future and our children's future. They are now a reality.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Josh Marshall notes that after putting our troops into Iraq to get shot at and extended the tour of duty to a year, Bush now wants to reduce their pay. Why? So his buddies can keep their tax cuts!
Perfect diamonds at $5 a carat. Will build to suit. Time to short your DeBeers stock.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

How often do we forget this truth?:
"What Kennedy taught the doctors is that knowing the truth is barely a beginning. The real work comes in getting people to see it."
This WaPo story is getting legs so I had better link to it.
This sounds like a truly workable solution to the email problem as long as the instrument can not be counterfeited.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Excellent piece! Putting the lie to the standard Republican premises.
link via PLA
Bush nominates Pipes the Propagandist to the US Institute of Peace. Bush trashes another worthy institution.
Here's some really good news. The Florida Republican Party is in disarray.
There is a clear difference between science and speculation. Not all theories are equal. Some have been tried and refined by "withering skepticism". Others avoid the heat and little more value than idle fantasies.
Don't miss Krugman

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Gore speaks more truth at Move-On.

A gem:
After all, this President has claimed the right for his executive branch to send his assistants into every public library in America and secretly monitor what the rest of us are reading. That's been the law ever since the Patriot Act was enacted. If we have to put up with such a broad and extreme invasion of our privacy rights in the name of terrorism prevention, surely he can find a way to let this National Commission know how he and his staff handled a highly specific warning of terrorism just 36 days before 9/11.
It's nice to have what you always suspected be quanitized and confirmed.
Conservatives: The New Stalinists:
Tim Noah:"Tomasky's findings are quite striking. The percentage of editorials in Tomasky's liberal sample that criticized Bush (67 percent) was 22 points less than the percentage of editorials in Tomasky's conservative sample that criticized Clinton (89 percent). Particularly dramatic are what Chatterbox will label the Praise Gap and the Self-Criticism Gap. The Praise Gap reflects the liberal papers' general reluctance to praise anyone, ideological friend or foe. Thus the liberal sample praised Clinton a mere 30 percent of the time while the conservative sample praised Bush 77 percent of the time. The Self-Criticism Gap shows that liberal papers are well able to criticize ideological friends while the conservative papers really aren't. The liberal sample criticized Clinton 30 percent of the time while the conservative sample criticized Bush a mere 7 percent of the time. The Wall Street Journal has a particularly strong aversion to self-criticism. Of the 40 Bush editorials Tomasky surveyed, only one criticized Bush. This was an editorial arguing against Bush's support for steel tariffs, which violated the editorial page's core principle of free trade but was discussed at the absurdly minimal length of 123 words. Yes, Virginia, there is a Conintern."
Wolfowitz: “It’s hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army. Hard to imagine.”

It's one thing to be wrong. It’s another to be incapable of imagining yourself wrong. Much of what has gone wrong in the Bush administration’s postwar Iraq policy can be attributed to a failure of imagination. But there was no excuse for this particular failure. In the previous dozen years, U.S. armed forces had taken part in five major post-conflict nation-building exercises, four of them in predominantly Muslim nations. There is a record of what works and what doesn’t. Had Wolfowitz studied the record, or talked with those who had, he wouldn’t have made such a wrongheaded remark.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Get your Krugman.
No surprise. A study of one of the Bush administration's favorite faith-based social programs shows that it fails. Also no surprise the summary of the study swindles its own statistics to give the impression that the program is a success and what appears in the press are the swindled conclusions.

"The Penn study doesn't conceal the actual poor outcome: All the facts reported above come straight from that report. But the study goes out of its way to put a happy face on the sad results, leading with the graduates-only figures before getting to the grim facts. Apparently, the Prison Fellowship press office simply wrote a press release off the spin, and the White House worked off the press release. Probably no one was actually lying; they were just believing, and repeating as fact, what they wanted to believe. It's hard to know for sure what those involved were thinking: Study author Byron Johnson canceled a scheduled interview at the last moment. The White House didn't respond to requests for comment."
A mechanism has been found by which the diet of the parent influences the DNA of the offspring. Furthermore. the DNA changes can be passed on to future generations. My genetic makeup may be influenced by what my grandmother ate while pregnant with my mother.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

I think it is telling is what we found out that the relationship between the Taliban and Al-Qaida. What we actually knew beforehand was that the two were tight enough to justify go after the former to get the latter. But on the ground we found that it was much tighter than we had imagined. This is an example of good intelligence that gets proven out in the field.

Now contrast that to the WMD-in-Iraq stuff. It was the flimsiest of tissues held together by some pretty questionable threads. You would hope that the leadership of a super-power could tell the difference between the two. Sadly, not this super-power.