Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Bait and Switch

This is how Bush does it.

Private meetings

When Howard Dean met in private with a Vermont energy group, the participants were identified. The outcome of the hardball horse-trading that went on in that meeting was notable.

The task force's work resulted in Vermont having the first utility in the country to meet energy efficiency standards. It also freed the state's utilities from their deal with a Canadian power company, Hydro Quebec, that had left them near bankruptcy but passed as much as 90 percent of those costs to consumers. Utility shareholders also suffered some losses.

Both consumers and utilities benefited from Dean's negotiations. Who benefited from the Cheney task force?

Furthermore, what is right here? If secret meetings are OK, lay off Dean. If not, go after Cheney.

Actually, this episode shows how Dean has proven that he can get difficult things accomplished. That and a balanced budget, too.

Wished I'd said that

But Bernard Chazelle said it. A concise summarization of the deficiencies of the Bush II administration. Have to keep this as a reference.

"In a mere three years, President Bush has compiled a record of disasters that Fidel could only envy. While cutting taxes for the rich, starving out federal programs for the poor, dismantling environmental protections, riding roughshod over civil liberties, and running the largest budget deficit in history, his administration has pursued a 'law of the jungle' brand of foreign policy fueled by overt paranoia and an imperious sense of omnipotence. Its shrill, threatening rhetoric, relentlessly echoed by a gang of media goons, has coarsened public discourse and alienated friends and allies.

At home, Bush has stoked the fears of a public traumatized by 9/11 and encountered rare success preaching an 'us-against-them' Weltanschauung soaked in self-righteousness. Dissent has been equated with lack of patriotism, illegal detentions have gone unchallenged, and racial profiling has been given new life. In the run-up to the war, international disapproval met with sophomoric tantrums ('freedom fries, anyone?') and vindictive hissy fits (canceled exchange programs with French high schools): hardly America's finest hour. "

The System Worked

All those folks gunning for the US cattle industry and the USDA may have to put those revolvers back into the holsters. It looks like the "animal feed" rule put into place in 1997 may have actually worked.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Mickey Kaus has a poser of a question


"..P.S.: If Ickes runs an ad Dean doesn't like, and Dean then gives a public press conference where he says 'That ad isn't very helpful to us,' and Ickes pulls the ad, is that illegal 'coordination' between Dean and an 'independent' group? If it isn't, how much more 'coordination' do you need? If it is, aren't you in effect muzzling an actual presidential candidate's actual speech on a highly-relevant issue?.."

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Now It's a Scandal

Republican SOP. Only this time they really messed up. What's up with quality control these days?

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Warning: Sharp Mind at Work

Paul Krugman:

"These days, everything old is new again. Income is once again concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite, and money rules politics to an extent not seen since the Gilded Age. The Iraq war bears an eerie resemblance to the Spanish-American war. (There was never any evidence linking Spain to the Maine's demise.) And Citizen Kane is back, in the form of an incestuous media-political complex."


Why do snowflakes tend to have a six-sided symmetry? It relates back to the geometry of the humble water molecule.

"Snow forms when water vapor condenses into a crystal. Water molecules come in a 'V' shape, with an oxygen atom at the vertex and two hydrogen atoms forming the arms at an angle of about 104 degrees apart, close to the angle that the sides of a hexagon make with each other.

So when the first water molecules link up they naturally form what Dr. Libbrecht calls a 'puckered hexagon.' As more water molecules float by to join them, they build up a lattice of six-sided segments."

Monday, December 22, 2003

Bush Tort reform

The stats say that justification Bush gives for tort reform is thoroughly bogus.

Options in Iraq

Philip Gourevitch of The New Yorker on Iraq:

"For now, we are in Iraq because the President and his most influential advisers wanted to go to war there. Having made a misleading case for the war, the Bush team drastically mismanaged the crucial early period of the occupation, and has recently responded to the Iraqi insurgency by scrapping its original plan for political revitalization in favor of a hastier schedule of "

... "The President cannot afford to lose Iraq. What is less obvious, with the guerrillas setting the agenda, is what the price would be to win it."

A Bushed Budget

Maxspeak on Bush budget options,

"The Bush administration says spending discipline can forestall the projected deficits. The fact is that high and growing deficits remain in the cards even with extraordinary spending restraint. Without tax increases or politically unpalatable service cuts, the only source of savings is a gigantic, wholly improbable 75 percent cut in so-called 'discretionary spending' -- the kind of spending used to finance rockets to the moon.

Of course, Congress just added a new entitlement -- the drug benefit. Unless they opt to pay for it by reducing benefits for the tens of millions of baby boomers who will be retiring soon, the only alternative is tax increases."

Friday, December 19, 2003

Lifelike digitized soldiers in LOTR

When the simulations were constructed for the special effects armies in Jackson's Lord of the Rings, he wanted each character to behave as if it had a mind of its own. So over 200,000 computerized agents were constructed in such a way that each one reacted individually to those around them and the enemy in front of them. But there was a problem.

"'For the first two years, the biggest problem we had was soldiers fleeing the field of battle,' Taylor said.

'We could not make their computers stupid enough to not run away.'"

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Journey of Man

I was watching an interesting show on PBS the other day with the above title. By tracking genetic markers on the Y-chromosome a researcher was able to build a plausible narrative for when the various human migrations populated the planet.

Long ago in Africa there was a revolution in the human population. While all humans were hunter/gatherers, a new type of hunter emerged. It's difficult to determine whether it was a new way of thinking or a new way of communicating was the key element since language and thought patterns are so closely entwined. Whichever the case, this new hunter had advanced deductive skills and used those to become a tracker as well. By exercising his deductive powers, this new hunter could read animal tracks and traces and successfully hunt down prey that he had not even seen. Those same deductive powers brought about an advance in hunting technology that allowed him to set aside the heavy, high-maintenance stone weapons in favor of more portable and longer-range bone-tipped weapons. These techniques and this technology has been preserved by the Bushmen of South Africa. As it turns out , the purist, unmutated form of the Y-chromosome markers is also found in the Bushmen. They are the direct descendants of that ancient African race that gave rise to every human population on Earth. They are unique in that theirs is the only language that incorporates clicking sounds.

The researcher theorizes that at some point humans divided. One group kept the clicking language and another group that was going to eventually spawn the global migration lost the clicking sounds. That is why the !Kung language is so absolutely unique. Every other language comes from a completely different branch of the tree.

Between 45,000 and 50,000 years ago the world went into a glaciation cycle that brought severe drought to previously lush areas of Africa. This event forced humans (who were indigenious only to Africa at the time) to migrate to new territories. A portion of the non-clicking group headed up the East African coast to the Arabian peninsula and beyond.

Interestingly enough the next place the early African marker shows up is in the Aborigines of Australia. All traces of the migration that brought the Africans to Australia 45,000 years ago are gone or buried under the Indian Ocean. At the time of the migration the sea level was much lower than it in now. The Africans appear to have preferred a coastal environment so whatever they left behind is now miles out to sea. It seems that later migrations overran the older coastal peoples of Arabia and India. Only the relative isolation of Australia after the glaciation recedes and the sea levels rise prevents those migrations from washing over the Abos also. However the ancient markers found in the Abos can also be found among the Tamils of Southern India and Sri Lanka indicating that the early African diaspora passed through there.

Again at around 40,000 years ago there is another push out of Africa. By this time the people carry some distinctively different genetic markers than their predecessors. And this time they are inland dwellers rather than coastal dwellers. This new migration ends up in Central Asia. From the point they spread out in all directions. To China, to India, to Indochina. When the glaciers recede in Europe, it is populated from the pool of people in central Asia. The racial label of Caucasian is actually quite accurate. And eventually the Central Asians make their way to the Americas.

Less Spam?

I don't know about you but ever since they arrested that guy in North Carolina for spamming, my spam load seems to have dropped by 70%.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Radioactive Potassium May Be Major Heat Source In Earth's Core

Recent research points to an additional nuclear heating source in the Earth's core.

As an aside, I wonder if the greenies who are generally opposed to nuclear energy actually realize that geothermal energy is nothing more than a by-product of heat released by radioactive decay.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Albright on Bush

She gives him what-fer. And does it well.

Forget the South

A strategy for a democratic victory that doesn't need Florida.

Instead of pandering to (as Howard Dean famously put it) ''guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks,'' thus alienating blacks and liberals, a Democratic nominee like Dean could aim his message at Americans who might actually vote for him.

Campaign Finance

Courtesy of TAPPED here is an interesting proposal for taking the big money donors out of the campaign contribution game.

"About 100 million voters cast ballots in the 2000 election. If they also had a chance to 'vote' with their 50 patriot dollars, they would have sent $5 billion flowing into the political marketplace, overwhelming the $3 billion private dollars spent by all candidates for all federal offices. Even if no further restrictions were imposed on private fundraising, patriot dollars would enable ordinary Americans to reclaim a large role in shaping the course of campaigns."

FBI's new rules

It will be interesting to see how the more invasive rules play out over the next few years.
"the FBI, unhindered by the restrictions of the past, will conduct many more searches and wiretaps that are subject to oversight by a secret intelligence court rather than regular criminal courts, officials said. Civil liberties groups and defense lawyers predict that more innocent people will be the targets of clandestine surveillance."

After the number of innocent people who have been confined at Guantanamo becomes more widely known there will be an eventual backlash at the current excesses. Then the FBI will most likely lose a great many surveillance tools.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Who's Afraid of Howard Dean?

From the DU. I got a real kick out of this.

The reason a Dean Presidency would be a huge disaster for the current leadership of the party is subtle but otherwise unconcealed. One need only take note of the most recent round of emails sent out by the Dean campaign to understand the danger. With an increasingly unobstructed path to the Democratic nomination ahead of him, Howard is holding out a helping hand to Congressmen in potential trouble in 2004. His activist base, unprecedented in terms of volunteer power, is likely to make a Dean victory long on coattails. The resulting shift in power could suddenly and permanently alter the face of the Democratic Party, and of course any Democrat loyal to Dean is going to be eager to toss the New Democrats out and install their own people in leadership roles.

That's why Lieberman, Daschle and the other DLC heavyweights seem so often to be singing from the same hymnal as Karl Rove and the RNC. In a sense, their interests are convergent - all of them are terrified by the idea of Howard Dean winning the Democratic nomination.

...the campaign to destroy Muskie has remained the gold standard for political smear tactics ever since.

That campaign was engineered by one Donald Segretti (who wound up doing time for distributing illegal campaign materials) and his protégé, one Karl Rove.

It's worth noting that at no time during Rove's debut caper, which was clearly designed to throw the Democratic nomination to George McGovern, did he or anyone else in Nixon's campaign say publicly "Gee, we'd sure love to run against George McGovern." You see, that would have been really dumb.

So, Dear Reader, let us consider two possibilities. Either Karl Rove has developed a Dubyaesque case of the deep-down stupids since sabotaging the 1972 Democratic Primary, or he's trying to do the same thing to Howard Dean that he did to Ed Muskie so many years ago. I leave the final decision up to you.


Get Griles:

"When the oil, coal and gas industries poured millions of dollars into George W. Bush's presidential campaign, J. Steven Griles was exactly what they were paying for. He's a perfect embodiment of the Bush administration's 'never met an energy company we didn't like' stance -- and its revolving-door connection between an industry eager to slip free of government rules and a government eager to betray the public good. But then it's no surprise someone like Griles would receive a warm embrace from the Bush team; after all, it is packed to the brim with energy-industry insiders -- from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to Vice President Dick Cheney to President Bush himself."

New Ice Age Averted

The development of agriculture 8000 years ago may have kept the world from dropping into another ice age. It seems to have caused an anomalous rise in the methane and CO2 levels when they should have been decreasing. Furthermore, when plague struck Europe the human die-off resulted in forests expanding, a greenhouse gas reduction, and then the "little ice age" of 1300.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The ex-gay movement ain't

If the leaders of the movement can't change why should we expect anyone else to? This movement is dead but it just doesn't know it yet.

"A large section of Besen's book details scandals involving ex-gay leaders who are discovered to be not quite as ex-gay as they seem. In addition to the Paulk scandal, the book tells the story of Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee, the men who helped found Exodus International and then left the ex-gay movement (and their wives) after they fell in love with each other. Besen also discusses Colin Cook, founder of Homosexuals Anonymous, whose career ended in disgrace when it was discovered that he was having sexual encounters with his male clients."

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Home Runs

The science is in. We now know what it takes to hit it over the fence.

"The most important factor in hitting a homer was the speed of the bat when it hits the ball, Hubbard said. The faster, the better."

Friday, November 28, 2003

More Iraq Incompetency Exposed

They didn't want to be called occupiers so they fumbled the ball instead. I just love this administration and its appreciation for the truth.

Why Bush went to Baghdad

He had to show that at least had the cajones of a certain traveling senator. Sad, so sad.

Ancient Maize Genetics

Early Native American farmers drastically altered the genome of corn without the precise genetic engineering methods of today.

"'Changes being made today are probably much smaller than the ones that changed a wild grass with very hard seeds to one that is edible and useful for people,' said Nina Fedroff, a plant biologist at Penn State University, who wrote a perspective that accompanied the Science study. 'As far as a general hazard, (modern day genetic modifications) are much less hazardous than what people have done for most of the century.'

The changes scientists make using molecular biology are tiny, she said, compared with the modifications that dramatically changed the appearance and taste of corn 4,400 years ago. Scientists can manipulate a single gene, while selective breeding is much less precise."

It still behooves genetic engineers to be very careful, but most of the really big steps have already been taken.

Eat More Cinnamon

As noted in a previous post, cocoa has anti-oxidant features. Add some cinnamon to it and it can help control blood sugar as well. This also points to a reasonable first aid approach for a diabetic needing a quick reduction in their blood sugar.

Spray-on Contraception

In Australia a new female contraceptive is being tested. Because the hormone being used breaks down in the stomach, pills are not an effective delivery method. When sprayed on the skin it penetrates, pools, and then is delivered in a time-released manner. It has possibilities for nursing mothers because the baby's gut would destroy any of it that was excreted in the milk. The method could also be useful for other compounds that need to be time-released and are broken down by stomach acid.

On the other hand, the mechanism used is the same one exploited by water-resistant sunscreens. I hope they have been properly tested for the long-duration exposures they present by their persistence in the skin tissues.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Global warming 'detected' in the US

Here's the beef! A new series of models show that the warming we are seeing is attributable to human activity. So Mr. Bush, stop studying it and do something about it instead of giving money away to the fossil fuel industry.

Desktop Manufacturing

If you could build something at your desk, what would it be?

Revolution of Roses

The Serbs and now the Georgians. It's time to get the ball rolling here in the States. A stolen election and a corrupt regime. All the elements are here.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Ocean gliders

I read about these in a science-fiction context over a decade ago. Why did it take so long for the Navy to catch on to it?

FBI and new powers

It looks like the ACLU is right. You can't give the government such power and expect them not to use it. Note to terrorists: the best place to hide is in the Justice Department. They'll never look there.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Divided Over Iran

Does anyone else notice the clear difference between the evidence procured in the Iran nuclear matter and the WMD of Iraq? The international community found the evidence and is now deliberating together on what to do about it. When the decision is made almost all parties will be in it together. How unlike the Republican cowboys that is.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Sexual Orientation Is in the Brain

The evidence mounts that some sexual orientation is related to alternate brain structure and function. Those that consider it to be merely a choice continue to lose ground.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Diabetes Cure?

[Link] "Cells from an unexpected source, the spleen, appear to develop into insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells in adult animals.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Dirty business

"How Bush and his coal industry cronies are covering up one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history."

Is anyone surprised? You are? What a shame!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Zbig and Bush

As reported by Kaplan:
"The excitement that Brzezinski's speech inspired in a roomful of liberal Democrats--the American Prospect's Web site headlines it 'A Must-Read Speech'--suggests that the liberal critique of Bush's foreign policy is at one with the conservative critique. It suggests that, on a basic level, Bush's foreign policy is neither liberal nor conservative but, rather, callow, smug, and reckless."

Hot Cocoa May Be Healthier Choice

This works for me. Don't drink wine and I prefer coffee to tea but hot cocoa is second only to my coffee.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Army buries its mistakes

Fred Kaplan shows the administration continues business as usual in the removal of a lessons-learned report from the web. If it tells the truth about the Army's inefficient and shody intelligence practices, they don't dare let the world see it.

The atmosphere of honesty in the analysis world must really be chilly by now.

Stem Cell debate reveals character.

Michael Kinsley elucidates how the issue of stem cells has demonstrated the (lack of) depth of character in the current administration.

"THE DISTINGUISHING feature of modern Washington dishonesty is that it is almost transparent, barely intended to deceive. It uses true-ish factoids to construct an implied assertion about reality that is not just false but preposterous. Modern Washington dishonesty is more like an elaborate, stylized ritual than a realistic Western-style performance. The goal is not to persuade but merely to create an impression that there are two sides to the question without actually having to supply one of them."


"How can you restrict embryonic stem-cell research because it encourages the creation and destruction of embryos, and yet praise the fertility industry that creates and destroys embryos by the thousands (and would supply the embryos for stem-cell research, if that were allowed)?
But why get into tedious arguments when bogus facts can see you through?"

The Empire Strikes Out

Ausubel can be forgiven for being a bit of an alarmist because both history and the trends in today's society are real. The environment will indeed get us if we simply continue down our current path.

Adaptive Glory

In a new book, Michael Ruse weighs in on the Darwin question. He disassembles the arguments for and against Darwinism and once again the "intelligent design" argument is found seriously wanting.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Waiting for Iraq Data

We're still waiting.... tap, tap, tap, tap, tap
"As a deadline imposed by Republicans and Democrats passed, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday that the Bush administration had yet to provide all of the information the panel was seeking for its review of intelligence before the war about Iraq's illicit weapons program."

Resistance is futile

Now you, too, can be part of the network . Literally. Human bodies can function as Ethernet cables.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Niger Documents

Josh Marshall is on to something, again. What can we learn by following the forged Niger documents back to their source? It may be quite interesting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Sex and audits

Why is this no surprise?
"'Our complaint is not with getting audited,' says Advocates' president James Wagoner. 'Our complaint is with the selective and political nature of these audits. Ideology is invading -- if not subverting -- science within the Department of Health and Human Services [which houses the CDC], and we ended up on the audit table because we are one of the organizations pointing that out.'"

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

From Baghdad to Manila

Kaplan notes:
"as has been true for most of this war, his administration's words, declarations, and rationales have done more harm than good. At the very least, can't the White House hire a good historian?"

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Water sparks new power source

This looks interesting. It generates electricity by running water through microscopic tubes, pollution-free.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Keeping dissent invisible

When the white house resident visited my community this summer I was perturbed because you had to be a registered supporter to even have a chance of viewing the motorcade. It appears that this is SOP for the Secret Service these days. Carry a sign that supports Bush and you may see him. Carry one that doesn't and you get to wear handcuffs. This administration has a real problem with the Constitution. Let's see how long before the load of lawsuits makes a dent.

Filter Tips

Kinsley on a president who prefers to be clueless:

"Every president lives in a cocoon of advisers who filter reality for him, but it's stunning that this president actually seems to prefer getting his take on reality that way."

Monday, October 13, 2003

Lessons in Civility

"For there is no way to be both honest and polite about what has happened in these past three years.

On the fiscal front, this administration has used deceptive accounting to ram through repeated long-run tax cuts in the face of mounting deficits. And it continues to push for more tax cuts, when even the most sober observers now talk starkly about the risk to our solvency. It's impolite to say that George W. Bush is the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history, but it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.

On the foreign policy front, this administration hyped the threat from Iraq, ignoring warnings from military professionals that a prolonged postwar occupation would tie down much of our Army and undermine our military readiness. (Joseph Galloway, co-author of 'We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young,' says that 'we have perhaps the finest Army in history,' but that 'Donald H. Rumsfeld and his civilian aides have done just about everything they could to destroy that Army.') It's impolite to say that Mr. Bush has damaged our national security with his military adventurism, but it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.

Still, some would say that criticism should focus only on Mr. Bush's policies, not on his person. But no administration in memory has made paeans to the president's character "

Rumsfeld's $9 Billion Slush Fund

Fred Kaplan explains what's hidden in that $87 billion request.

Ancient Handedness

[Link] It seems the percentage of lefties in prehistoric peoples is about the same as it is today.

Universe Shifts Gears

[Link] It seems that the Big Bang expansion was not uniform. At one point gravity was overwhelmed and the expansion accelerated.

"So after the big bang, matter was still relatively dense in the Universe and therefore gravity braked expansion. But as galaxies moved farther apart, dark energy began to exert a more significant influence. For a brief period, two forces balanced and 'the expansion of the Universe coasted along at a steady rate, like a car in cruise control,' says Riess.

But then, five billion years ago, dark energy got the upper hand. No-one yet knows what dark energy is, but supernova observations provides some constraints. 'It gives a handle on how much there is,' says Saul Perlmutter of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California."

Friday, October 10, 2003

Hyperparsing Plame

"There's a lotta word parsing going on in Washington these days. And we all know that when words start getting hyper-parsed, it usually means something is going on...."

McClellan dodges THE question

TPM points out how McClellan dodge the direct question of whether Abrams, Libby, or Rove talked to a reporter about Plame. That tells us a bunch. Forget the document dump. The pool of potential offenders is quite small.

Copy Protection

This sounds like an excellent solution to the pirating problem. Intentional bit faults are built into the original version of a game. When it is copied the normal error-correction routines of the copy process removes the faults. The pirated game can detect that its intentional faults are gone so it degrades itself.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Reflexes Suggest Biological Basis for Sexual Preference

Pretty good evidence that there is a strong biological component to sexual preference. Portions of the brain operate differently.

Not just a predator

A demonstration of how a small change can have a large effect. The presence of wolves has resulted in an improvement of the whole ecosystem of the Yellowstone. Elk stay out of the streambeds, the willows are not overgrazed, and the beaver have returned.

Sleep and Memory

This may explain why a good night's sleep is essential to good performance on tests. It also explains why sufferers of apnea (such as myself) feel an intellectual improvement after they get treatment.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Male contraceptives

While the Australians get lots of press for a new male contraceptive that will make lots of money for some drug company, another male contraceptive originating in India gets hardly any coverage. RISUG is a cheap, effective, and reversible male contraceptive that uses an initial injection but doesn't require a drug protocol to maintain sterility. The guys with big PR departments aren't going to make any money on it so we don't hear about it.
Joshua Micah Marshall tells it the way it is. Don't be distracted by all the scurrying about. It's smoke.

"The president has said he wants to get to the bottom of this. Yet he has done nothing to get to the bottom of it. The only credible explanation is the obvious one: that he doesn't want to get to the bottom of it.

Whether the Justice Department can find the culprits on its own is an interesting legal chess game. But no more.

The president's lieutenants did this. Rather than trying to punish them, he's trying to protect them. The only thing the White House has been aggressive about is attacking the victims of its own bad-acts: Wilson and Plame.

These simple --- and I think indisputable --- facts tell you all you need to know about what's happening here.

In the end, I strongly suspect that Bush will rue the day he didn't do the right thing on day one."

Friday, October 03, 2003

People who get their news from NPR and PBS know what is really happening much more than people who get their news from Fox.

Ten Technologies That Deserve to Die
The cost of titanium is about to fall. LINK A new smelting method is about to go into commercial production. It replaces an expensive series of chemical steps with an electolysis method that converts the raw material directly into metal.

"'It was shocking to see the little pellet of white titanium dioxide, which looks like an aspirin pill, being transformed into a piece of titanium,' Fray recalls. 'We sat around asking, 'Why hasn't this been done before?''"

Actually titanium is a pretty abundant element. It's just been that the process of refining ores into metal is expensive, complex, dangerous, and inefficient. Now all that is going to change.

It's little things like this that can alter the entire fabric of how the future of technology progresses.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

In a piece dated January 2003 Ron Suskind talks about Rove.

"Sources close to the former president say Rove was fired from the 1992 Bush presidential campaign after he planted a negative story with columnist Robert Novak about dissatisfaction with campaign fundraising chief and Bush loyalist Robert Mosbacher Jr. It was smoked out, and he was summarily ousted."

Seems old habits die hard.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Good Grief! It's got me quoting the Moonie Times:

"The president should personally make it known to the public that it is his highest priority to get to the bottom of the matter. There may be traitors in his midst— even if the actors may not have appreciated the nature of their conduct. At some point, presumably, the Justice Department will be needed for prosecution. But the president should be first on the job to cleanse his own house. "

But even this is a little light on action. I'm not interested in what the president tells the public since his talk is way too cheap. I'm interested in what he does.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I would really like to grow one of these.
It seems the European grids suffers from the same problems as the American grid, ie., privatization has resulted is less attention being paid to spare capacity. There has to be a way to have the kind of efficiencies in the utilities that privatization fosters without sacrificing the reliability strong regulation fosters. As long as power can not be stored like a hard commodity it can not be properly governed by those kind of market rules.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Hat tip to The Talent Show.
It turns out that the conservative position that pollution laws cost too much is a busted myth.

"The bottom line is that the benefits from major environmental rules over the past 10 years were [five to seven] times greater than the costs," said Kevin Curtis of the National Environmental Trust. "And that's a number that can't be ignored, even by an administration that has blamed 'excessive' environmental regulations for everything from the California energy crisis to last month's blackout to job losses to the failing economy."

Slap dat puppy down, Bubba!
When thinking about Hurricane Alley, I never considered Nova Scotia.

Friday, September 26, 2003

The NDOL has some good ideas on trade policy. The no-brainer is that the Bush administration has been abysmal. The more interesting part is that there has to be more of an open market with protections for dislocated workers and incentives for trading nations to improve the lot of their workers and the environment.
A clear statement of truth. Bush Lies:

"But Bush's truth-defying crusade for war did not mark a shift for him. Throughout his campaign for the presidency and his years in the White House, Bush has mugged the truth in many other areas to advance his agenda. Lying has been one of the essential tools of his presidency. To call the forty-third President of the United States a prevaricator is not an exercise of opinion, not an inflammatory talk-radio device. Rather, it is backed up by an all-too-extensive record of self-serving falsifications. While politicians are often derided as liars, this charge should be particularly stinging for Bush. During the campaign of 2000, he pitched himself as a candidate who could 'restore' honor and integrity to an Oval Office stained by the misdeeds and falsehoods of his predecessor. To brand Bush a liar is to negate what he and his supporters declared was his most basic and most important qualification for the job."
CalPundit: The Rich Really Are Different From You and Me
The effects of the an economic boom followed by the Bush tax cut have been documented. The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. Is this the kind of country you want to live in?
There's a potentially disastrous threat of global warming that is just beginning to receive attention. Is it too late?

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Friedman connects the dots.
More and more Israelis are questioning Sharon's tactics on the Palestinians. Israelis refuse to carry out airstrikes
The side of Islamism that powerful people want to keep hidden.

"Everything we know about al-Qaida's operations, as of those of Saddam Hussein, suggests that they combine the culture of a crime family or cartel with the worst habits of a bent multinational corporation. Yet the purist critics of 'globalization' tend to assume that the spiritual or nationalistic claims of such forces still deserve to be taken at their own valuation, lest Western 'insensitivity' be allowed to triumph."

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

He can't even be truthful about golf!

Update: But in all fairness this is just another case where a politician fibs a little to preserve a desired image. Unfortunately our rather unsophisticated electorate seems to prefer simpler images to realistic ones.
This an interesting method for determining public policy,
do what works. Daniel Gross tells about research that has shown how best to keep capitalist wolves in their pens.

"Their conclusion is surprising--and surprisingly practical. What works best, it turns out, is a combination of mandated disclosure (thus allowing the markets to work their efficient magic) and the ability of plaintiffs' lawyers to sue the hell out of corrupt CEOs and underwriters. In short, a more private system."
This must be a presidency in complete disarray. How many more of our young children's mothers and fathers are going to die because of Bush administration incompetence?

Or as Josh Marshall says, stuck in an infinite loop.
Kazaa fires back.

" SHARMAN NETWORKS LTD., the company behind the Kazaa file-sharing software, filed a federal lawsuit Monday accusing the entertainment companies of using unauthorized versions of its software in their efforts to root out users. Entertainment companies have offered bogus versions of copyright works and sent online messages to users.
Sharman said the companies used Kazaa Lite, an ad-less replica of its software, to get onto the network. The lawsuit also claims efforts to combat piracy on Kazaa violated terms for using the network."
Easterbrook makes an independent analysis of air pollution trends. Over all the Clean Air Act has been more effective at reducing pollutants than expected. The Bush administration's back-peddling has reduced the rate of decline but the decline remains in place. Except for greenhouse gases.

"If voters incorrectly believe that smog and acid rain are running wild, they will want attention focused on those short-term priorities. If voters understand that all regular forms of air pollution are in decline anyway, they may support shifting the spotlight to greenhouse gases, where the danger is. And voters "

In the political rhetoric both sides are misstating the facts. The Bush administration needs to be honest about the troubling greenhouse gases. And the opposition needs to be honest about how the air quality continues to improve.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

With the Bush administration, science has become just another tool for lying:

"Emails and internal government documents obtained by The Observer show that officials have sought to edit or remove research warning that the problem is serious. They have enlisted the help of conservative lobby groups funded by the oil industry to attack US government scientists if they produce work seen as accepting too readily that pollution is an issue."
"'This email indicates a secret initiative by the administration to invite and orchestrate a lawsuit against itself seeking to discredit an official US government report on global warming dangers,' said Richard Blumenthal, attorney general of Connecticut, who has written to the White House asking for an inquiry."

Monday, September 22, 2003

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

It seems that the sense of fair play is deeply rooted in our primate psyche.
Globalization is not a new thing. We live in a world that was globalized thousands of year ago.
This is a new interesting material. A ceramic that is 5 times harder, conducts electricity and (get this) conducts heat in one direction but insulates in other directions.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The current national budget practices have a strong precidence in the business world. Remember Enron?
This is an interesting point. War is much more a product of relatives fighting over the inheritance than it is conflict with strangers.

"The critical factor for the origins of war was the splitting of communities into clans which acted against each other, Marcus believes. But importantly, this happened also while living in an environment rich enough that, Kelly says, they 'can afford to have enemies for neighbours'."

Monday, September 15, 2003

Josh Marshall exposes a Cheney-lie.

"Why do 69% of Americans continue to believe that Iraq may have been involved in 9/11? Many reasons. But one of the most important is that their leaders keep lying to them."
Kaplan on the Military's Bloated Budget:

"When your kid's in the hospital, your roof is leaking, and your salary's just been cut, you should probably put off plans to build a pool or buy a plasma-screen television. The military budget is in a similar state, and it only makes sense to reopen the books, set priorities, and slash those programs that can safely be deferred."

The easy cuts include new types of stealth fighters. But current fighters only need to be used in opening hostilities. Afterwards standard fighters and B-52s do just fine. The only people we might need a stealth air superiority fighter for would be the Israelis or the French.

Attack helicopters need to be rethought. In Iraq, small-arms fire ate them up. And for reconnaissance unmanned drones are coming on. And cheap.

Really don't need to spend money on nukes.

Missile defense. Need I say more?

And that's 20-billion without breaking a sweat.
Interesting. Smallpox vaccine may fight AIDS

Thursday, September 11, 2003

ooooo! Kennewick man pops up on MSNBC.
The long-held belief that boys treble voices were qualitatively different than girls has been proven to be erroneous:

"The recordings were randomised and played to listeners who were asked to say whether the top line was being sung by a male or a female group.

The listeners were able to identify the gender of the choristers correctly only 53% of the time."
And yet another use for titanium dioxide. I've blogged a number of other uses in the past including self-cleaning windows and air pollution reduction.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Good stuff over in Policy Review.
War and Aftermath by Frederick W. Kagan - Policy Review, No. 120:
"If the U.S. is to undertake wars that aim at regime change and maintain its current critical role in controlling and directing world affairs, then it must fundamentally change its views of war. It is not enough to consider simply how to pound the enemy into submission with stand-off forces. War plans must also consider how to make the transition from that defeated government to a new one. A doctrine based on the notion that superpowers don’t do windows will fail in this task. Regime change is inextricably intertwined with nation-building and peacekeeping. Those elements must be factored into any such plan from the outset."
Fred Kaplan:
"Most significant, the European leaders of NATO, for the first time in the organization's history, invoked Article 5 of its charter, calling on its 19 member-nations to treat the attack on America as an attack on them all--a particularly moving gesture, as Article 5 had been intended to guarantee American retaliation against an attack on Europe.

But the Bush administration brushed aside these supportive gestures--and that may loom as the greatest tragedy of Sept. 11, apart from the tolls taken by the attack itself."
Farewell Doctor Teller.
Oil companies can be good citizens when they want to. The biodiversity in a Gabon oil field is actually greater than in nearby national parks. The key is to go in with the intent of minimizing impact instead of trying to clean up a big
mess afterwards.

Shell and the Smithsonian are now working on an international code of practice for sensitive areas with other energy majors including BP, Statoil and Chevron Texaco.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Josh Marshall said it and it sure rings true.
"It's everyone's fault but theirs. 'The terrorists', domestic enemies, cultural declension, the French, perhaps tomorrow the decline of reading, the end of corporal punishment in the schools, permissive parenting, bad posture, rock 'n roll, space aliens. The administration is choking on its own lies and evasions. And we have to bail them out because the ship of state is our ship."
Saletan on Bush's War or terra. He's not buying the Bush revisionism. But he does think the war was justified in response to disregard of UN resolutions. In light of that he thinks we should have turned Iraq over to the UN as soon as Saddam was toppled.
The administration was warned. But in their arrogance they ignored the warning.
"Although general in nature, the sources said, the intelligence agencies’ concerns about the degree of resistance U.S. forces would encounter have proved broadly accurate in the months since the ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his inner circle."
It's tragic enough that people ruin their own lives with drug abuse. But the tragedy is compounded when these same people produce children. As a society we are barely keeping up with the numbers of foster children that come into the system from parents that are incapable of caring for them. There is one organization that offers voluntary sterilization to drug addicts. While similar sterilization programs in the past have targeted various "undesirables" based upon some wrong-headed ideas, this program actually seem to make some sense.

As currently set up the sterilizations are permanent and that is the source of most of the controversy. But wouldn't it be helpful if a long-term but reversible sterilization was used? Like this? It's a new method that injects a sperm-destroying material into the vas that has a 10-year effectiveness and is easily reversible.
Another article on the Baja skulls that may be evidence that the first Americans were from South Asia and were eventually supplanted by the North Asians known as Amerindians.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Hopefully this is the beginning of the end for a blight on civilized society.
Josh Marshall's take on the president's speech.

The president has turned 9/11 into a sort of foreign policy perpetual motion machine in which the problems ginned up by policy failures become the rationale for intensifying those policies.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Ya gotta love this: "In short, Rummy and his crew placed their bets not just on the wrong man but--worse still, in an administration that claims to value hard-headed power politics above all--on a wispy dream. So now, it seems, the chiefs are coming to collect on those bets. And Colin Powell, the retired-general-turned-top-statesman, is corralling the collectors."

Thursday, September 04, 2003

This is what is really wrong in this world of ours.
All the work has finally paid off. Estrada Drops Out of Judicial Race
My old friend from down the street, Kennewick man, is in the news again. It looks like the Americas were populated by two migrations, one around 14,000 years ago and one around 11,000 years ago. The older migration came from south-east Asia and they had longer, narrower skulls. The more recent migration was from northeast Asia and had short skulls as do modern native Americans.

By the way these modern native Americans have laid claim to the remains of Kennewick Man on the ground that he his one of theirs. Evidence has become more certain that he is much more likely to have been one of the people that were here when the current native Americans arrived.
Science marches on and provides more solutions to seemingly intractable problems. And now something that may have a significant impact on Superfund sites, nanoscale iron particles.
"Laboratory and field tests have confirmed that treatment with nanoscale iron particles can drastically lower contaminant levels around the injection well within a day or two, and will all but eliminate them within a few weeks--reducing them so far that the formerly polluted site will now meet federal groundwater quality standards. The tests also show that the nanoscale iron will remain active in the soil for 6 to 8 weeks, says Zhang, or until what's left of it dissolves in the groundwater. And after that, of course, it will be essentially undetectable against the much higher background of naturally occurring iron."

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Some new thinking about the war on drugs by the people who have been waging it.

Prohibition has been a disaster. By making the drug business risky it has enriched criminals and made more of them. It's time to look at alternate models for dealing with the problem.
The unPATRIOT act:
"The PATRIOT apologists will have none of this. The default, as they see it, is to grant new powers unless there's proof that they'll lead overnight to tyranny. The presumption of liberty is replaced by a presumption of power. The sad reality, though, is that even a police state can't guarantee total safety: Whatever we do, the coming years will see more terror, more attacks. If we conclude, each time, that the culprit must be an excess of domestic freedom, a lack of government power, we are traveling a road with no end."

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Another Friday Outrage noted by Paul Krugman:
"When the E.P.A. makes our air dirtier, or the Interior Department opens a wilderness to mining companies, or the Labor Department strips workers of some more rights, the announcement always comes late on Friday— when the news is most likely to be ignored on TV and nearly ignored by major newspapers.

Last Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, announced settlements with energy companies accused of manipulating markets during the California energy crisis. Why on Friday? Because the settlements were a joke: the companies got away with only token payments. It was yet another demonstration of how electricity deregulation has gone wrong. "
TAPPED on what the GAO says about the malpractice crises:

"There is no crisis, folks. Doctors just don't like being sued -- and seem unwilling to take steps to discipline the handful of butchers actually responsible for most malpractice payouts."

It's just another conservative smokescreen so big corporations get more of a break with the torts.
As a Johnny-come-lately Buffy fan, I have to agree with Virginia about the things one can learn from Buffy.
There they go, over playing their hand once again.:
"The Rice-Rumsfeld depiction of the Allied occupation of Germany is a farrago of fiction and a few meager facts."
Talk about an incredible journey! A bunch of floating plastic toys that were lost overboard on their way from China to Seattle may soon make their appearance on the Eastern seaboard. It seems that the currents head north up the Bering Strait and the polar ice slowly moves east in the Arctic Ocean. In 11 years the rubber ducks are nearing the completion of that journey and may begin popping up along Greenland and points south.

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.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Fred Kaplan:
Two recent signs suggest not only that postwar Iraq is going badly but that top Bush officials, finally, know it
I really enjoyed Bill Maher last night. It was great to see him back on the air again. He interviewed Sen. Bob Graham and I was impressed how Bob held his own in that tough arena. He even got in a few zingers himself. Pundits are predicting that he would make a strong vice-presidential candidate even if he does come out on top in the Democratic donkey race. A Dean-Graham ticket would certainly have my whole-hearted support.

Something that Sen. Graham said that I found quite interesting is that there is tacit agreement with the Saudi regime that the US will provide for the defensive needs of the Saudi kingdom. In return they have agreed to make sure that the oil spigot stays open.

It could be compared to a deadly embrace. We dare not leave the Saudi family to hang in the wind for fear of catastrophically disrupting the world economy. They dare not move to limit oil supplies too much or we might remove our support of their regime. By the same token the Saudis in the early days made an agreement with the Wahhabi clerics to support their claim to the ascendant position in the Islamic world in return for the clerics blessing of the Saudi family as the legitimate rulers of Arabia. The Saudi rulers are now caught between all these competing interests. They are obligated to fund Wahhabi charities and madrassas lest the clerics turn on them and they are obligated to pump oil for the world's economy lest the US turns on them. Interesting times for the Saudis these days indeed.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Remember the blue dog artwork of George Rodrigue? The dog pops up in all kinds of strange places. I happen to own a blue heeler. And he insists on being in the same room I am so he follows me around the house just to plop down and go to sleep. When he is not asleep he tracks me with just that expression that Rodrigue gives his dogs.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Daniel Gross points out why the deficits will remain even if the economy grows.

"Don't believe it. The Bush administration has been woefully off-base when it comes to projecting federal revenues and expenditures. Even if economic growth meets its expectations, the recovery in federal revenues won't. They have changed the rules too much. "

Thursday, July 17, 2003

So where does the deficit come from? It ain't the war. It ain't domestic programs. It's the tax giveaway to the rich! Don't you forget it.
What he said. Edward Kennedy says all the things I'm thinking about the Iraq situation.
Tim Noah and the Bush Lie, part 2. Ari proves to be incompetent because he just happened to have a truthful moment.
Tenet fingers the White House Aide Behind Uranium Claim:

"Earlier today, Mr. Durbin said on ABC's 'Good Morning America' that Mr. Tenet, in an closed appearance before the intelligence panel on Wednesday, named the official responsible for pushing for the line about uranium in the speech. But Mr. Durbin said he could not disclose that person's identity. 'It should come from the president,' he said."

Watching now to see how the W is going to dodge this one.
This is another case in which evolution is proven to be a fact not a theory. But more than that it can be used as a research tool.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Arianna on George's little yellow lie.:
"The bottom line is: This canard had been thoroughly discredited many, many times over, but the administration fanatics so badly wanted it to be true they just refused to let it die the death it deserved. The yellowcake lie was like one of those slasher movie psychos that refuse to stay buried no matter how many times you smash a hatchet into their skull."

Friday, July 11, 2003

How the White House creatively lies via statistics. The thought of four more years of this makes me physically sick.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The respected UN organization, the WMO on the recent weather worldwide:

"It is possible that 2003 will be the hottest year ever recorded. The 10 hottest years in the 143-year-old global temperature record have now all been since 1990, with the three hottest being 1998, 2002 and 2001.

The unstable world of climate change has long been a prediction. Now, the WMO says, it is a reality."

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Watch out. It seems the right-wing spin/scare tactic on the Lawrence v Texas decision is that by acknowledging a right to privacy in matters sexual that the door is opened for child molestors and rapists to use that right as a defense. In order for that scare tactic to work the courts would have to do more than cut down a sodomy law. They would have to strike rape and age-of-consent laws down as well. I am sure the courts can make a distinction between acts that have victims and acts that don't.
I've been reading Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion on Lawrence v. Texas. His logic is quite good and I can say nothing against it. Basically, he lays out what the reasonable and logical consequences of the decision are and then rails about them. Personally I think that is a miserable way to construct law. It's like a spoiled child that can't make the case for getting what he wants and just throws a tantrum instead.

Scalia is right in that the Lawrence decision puts a reversal to the Bowers decision after only a mere 17 years. He is right in that one would hope that the Court would not be that inconstant. But the fact that he can not face is that Bowers was a flawed decision and it needed to be set right. In Bowers the court ruled that the states had the right to forbid certain sexual acts among consenting adults. In Lawrence the Supreme Court faced a natural consequence of the Bowers decision and found that it was objectionable. This demonstrated the flaws in the Bowel decision that Scalia simply refuses to accept. He posits that there may be consequences of the Lawrence decision that will be equally unpalatable.

Let's see what those might be and judge for ourselves.

” State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding. "

It is reasonable to me that these state laws are absurd and they should be called into question. It's about time. The majority opinion describes this as an "emerging awareness".

Scalia argues that the only rights that are protected by the 14th amendment are those that have a long tradition in this country. It took an amendment to eliminate slavery. I think only an amendment would convince Scalia that discrimination based on sexual orientation should be eliminated. Maybe he's right. Basically he is saying that we have always discriminated against homosexuals and lacking explicit language in the constitution otherwise we should be allowed to continue such discrimination. [Common decency is not a consideration unless you happen to agree with him on what that constitutes that decency.]

Scalia complains that the Lawrence decision means the end of the legislation of morality. Personally I hope that he is right about that. The legislation of morality has always been repugnant to me.

Scalia rightly points out that the Lawrence decision makes laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples at risk. He succumbs to the irrational fear that same-sex marriage will somehow bring some imagined harm to opposite-sex marriage. Just because you believe it don't make it so, Tony. Give us some evidence, please. He even tries to put words in Justice O'Connor's mouth by twisting her assurance that traditional marriage is a legitimate state interest into a equivocation on her part. In Scalia code-talk "preserving the traditional institution of marriage" means moral disapproval of same-sex couples. But I think Sandra is not into that kind of code-talk and simply means what she says. Traditional marriage has nothing to fear from any relaxation of homosexual discrimination.

It's clear that Scalia thinks that homophobics are in the majority in this nation and until they are defeated at the polls and old, generally ignored, portions of the penal code are actively purged of discrimination the Supreme Court should stay out of this fight. Somehow I don't think he would be so passive if he were bucking traditional prejudice instead of preserving it.

In fact it may turn out that Scalia is more correct than the framers of the majority opinion that this decision bring same-sex marriage closer to a reality in this country. This case may be like the one in Canada in which the court was "backed-in" to accepting same-sex marriage because that's where the logic of their decisions led them. May such logic prevail here as well.

I think the majority actually tried to soft-pedal the probable consequences of the decision while Scalia (much to his chagrin) actually has them right.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Bush Administration: "Science? We don' need no stinkin' science!":

The mutual incomprehension and distrust between the Pentagon and the Clinton White House, especially in its early years, led to such debacles as Somalia and the clash over allowing gays to serve openly in the military. The Bush administration's dismissiveness toward scientists could also have serious consequences, from delaying vital new medical therapies to eroding America's general lead in science. The Clinton administration quickly felt the sting of the military's hostility and worked to repair the relationship. It's not clear, however, that the Bush administration cares to reach out to scientists--or even knows it has a problem.


Ignoring expert opinion on matters of science may never cause the administration the kind of political grief it is now suffering over its WMD Iraq policy. But neither is it some benign bit of anti-elitist bias. American government has a history of investing in the capabilities and trusting the judgments of its scientific community--a legacy that has brought us sustained economic progress and unquestioned scientific leadership within the global intellectual community. For the short-term political profits that come with looking like an elite-dismissing friend of the everyman, the Bush administration has put that proud, dynamic history at real risk.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The backscatter X-ray method delivers a detailed image in a walk-through scanner. This image appears to be better than those produced in the scanners in the movie "Total Recall". The only problem is that we are going to have to become much less sensitive about our bodies if they are to be used. Basically this thing is pretty close to what one would see if all passengers stripped down to their hair follicles at the checkpoints. The scanner is much faster though.

This also parallels my proposed solution for suicide bombers, an on-the-beach dress code throughout the country. Hard to hide much of a bomb in a thong.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Here's something for those looking for a real boost in brain power.
Hooked up to the machine, 40 percent of test subjects exhibited extraordinary, and newfound, mental skills. That Snyder was able to induce these remarkable feats in a controlled, repeatable experiment is more than just a great party trick; it's a breakthrough that may lead to a revolution in the way we understand the limits of our own intelligence -- and the functioning of the human brain in general.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Constantine's vision that changed the course of history was likely a meteor strike in Italy. Fascinating.
Thanks to Jody.
This modest proposal to break the deadlock on judicial nominations is ill-considered. Tim Noah proposes that the minority party give up the right to filibuster nominees in return for one, just one, acceptable appointment. Gives away the farm.
Fred Kaplan explains the inadequate thinking of the American Imperialists.

The larger point is that empire is a tough, bloody business. It is also a business requiring immersion. The British willingly took, and dealt, thousands of casualties for the sake of its preservation. They set up whole ministries devoted to the study of their holdings (the India desk, the Arabian desk, and so forth). And yet, as David Fromkin points out in A Peace to End All Peace—his ceaselessly fascinating (and, at this moment, vital) book about Britain's attempt to remake the map of the Middle East before and during the First World War—they still bungled the whole enterprise, badly misreading major events, and allowing themselves to be led disastrously down primrose paths by local, power-hungry charlatans. Sound familiar?
I'm falling behind. Tim Noah answers the question, Can Bush Be Both Ignorant and a Liar?
My company has sent me travelling this week. As I drove around central Virginia I became aware once again that it's not enough to be correct about public policy. Given the complexity of social problems and economic theory, having it right or even close to right is plenty difficult. But the real genius is being able to convince the man and woman on the street that the ideas have value.

The opposition has proven that it is absolutely without scruples. We should learn to expect that from them. The media is more interested in sales and ratings than truth. I guess that's to be expected, too. Unfortunately it seems that the combination of these two features make for a tough combination to beat. It's easier to generate a lie that is "sexy" in a journalist sense than it in to attract equivalent attention for the truth. In our short-attention-span world the counters to lies struggle to be noticed. By the time they are out there, the common attention has moved on. Basically it becomes a contest of who can tell the most instantly believable lies. If you are really good (Karl Rove is a Jedi Master at this) you can build the next set of lies on the last set while it still has some life. So what do you do.

First of all, be absolutely scrupulous about what you say and do. Don't provide the opposition with easy ammunition. And second, be very sensitive to what the opposition is saying. Counter quickly and directly. Don't let the lies have any oxygen to thrive on. One must not let the media off the hook either. As they try to slant their stories for mass appeal, be prepared to counter the slant with honesty and directness.

I don't know how long it is going to take to break through to the popular consciousness. But when it happens we all will win, both on the right and on the left.

I'll confess that I have been enjoying the quasi-reality TV show, "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here". It's been interesting to watch the interplay amongst these characters. It was nice to see Bruce Jenner comporting himself well. He has come a long way from that small church college in Iowa where we shared a year. (full disclosure: he was in the jock crowd and I wasn't, so I doubt he ever knew I existed.) It's only a coincidence that I share a name with his daughter.

It's been nice to see folks step up and face difficult situations in a constructive manner rather than go cut-throat as the survivor series encourages them to. It was nice to see some "get it" that cooperation was more useful than command. Furthermore, it was nice to see that those were the ones the voters saw as deserving.

One who particularly didn't get it was poor Tyson. It was clear that he saw the experience as a competition that he could game somehow. The contributions he made as a solid team member became over-shadowed by fairly lame efforts to distinguish himself. He ended up trying too hard. Not only that he began to display an unwillingness to be self-critical. Whenever he got crossways with anyone he could not genuinely accept his share of the responsibility for the problem. This lack of humility put me off and apparently put others off as well.
Microgrids: reliable power in a small package

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Giving Joshua Micah Marshall some well-deserved linkage.
"But when you begin to see people pushing the evidence that is almost certainly bogus and disputing the evidence that is almost certainly valid, you, at a certain point, just realize that you need move over into the vernacular and call things as they are. Those folks are lying. "

Monday, June 16, 2003

Some quotes from resigned White House counter-terrorism adviser Rand Beers. He's now working with the John Kerry campaign.

The focus on Iraq has robbed domestic security of manpower, brainpower and money, he said. The Iraq war created fissures in the United States' counterterrorism alliances, he said, and could breed a new generation of al Qaeda recruits. Many of his government colleagues, he said, thought Iraq was an "ill-conceived and poorly executed strategy."
He thinks the war in Afghanistan was a job begun, then abandoned. Rather than destroying al Qaeda terrorists, the fighting only dispersed them. The flow of aid has been slow and the U.S. military presence is too small, he said. "Terrorists move around the country with ease. We don't even know what's going on. Osama bin Laden could be almost anywhere in Afghanistan," he said.
Within U.S. borders, homeland security is suffering from "policy constipation. Nothing gets done," Beers said. "Fixing an agency management problem doesn't make headlines or produce voter support. So if you're looking at things from a political perspective, it's easier to go to war."

This guy knows where the bodies are buried and he's beginning to talk.

A word to my faithful but few readers. I shall be travelling quite a bit during the next couple of weeks so blog entries will be intermittent. But I hope to be back in force thereafter.