Sunday, December 31, 2006
Why is Freddie Mac granting all of these illegal campaign contributions? Could it be, say, to perpetuate pernicious policies promoting private property purchase?
Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.It's nice to read! This is more or less the gospel that I've been spreading through the country when encountering news of Mr. Hussein's death. This is really a wonderful blog.
Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
You wouldn't know it from the media coverage, but the science on the dangers of trans fats is still being debatedYou have to love the "I'm lying to you, but I expect you to not notice" formulation. Anthropogenic Global Climate Change is being debated. The Holocaust is being debated. This just means that somebody feels obfuscation is in their interest.
But, margarine -- like all these 'low fat' substitutes for real foods -- has always been suspect. And here's the official word from the New York City Department of Health:
Trans fat is the most dangerous fat. It increases LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and lowers HDL ("good") cholesterol. Based on conservative estimates, trans fat is responsible for at least 500 deaths from heart disease in New York City each year. Trans fat has no known health benefits. Unlike saturated fat, there is no safe level of artificial trans fat consumption.
Suzanne Ohmit of the University of Michigan School of Public Health and her colleagues found that in the fall of 2004, Sanofi-Pasteur's FluZone vaccine was 77 percent effective and MedImmune Inc.'s Flumist worked in 57 percent of the cases even though the flu strain making the rounds that year was not selected for the vaccine.
Bird flu is expected to be so novel nobody will have any immunity to it, said Monto. As a result, people are going to need two doses of the vaccine, just as children who have never been exposed to regular influenza need two doses of the flu vaccine to be protected.
That he questioned all things, even the most simple, to the extent that when someone passing him on the street raised his hat and said, "Good day," Litvinoff often paused so long to weigh the evidence that by the time he'd settled on an answer the person had gone on his way, leaving him standing alone.I can tell you, this is a paralyzing way to live. But, I like to think, in a Lemony Snickett way, it makes it harder for your enemies to find you.
"The main problem we are facing is the American forces more than the other forces," Dr. Karbouli told reporters in Geneva. "The insurgents, they are Iraqis, a lot of them are Iraqis, and they respect the Iraqis. And they respect our [the Red Crescent's] identity, which is neutrality."Dec 17: Gunmen Carry Out Mass Kidnapping At Baghdad Red Crescent Office
"We have flags, we have everything, we have [the] logo, so [U.S. forces] know everything, but unfortunately they come again and attack us many times," Dr. Karbouli said. He complained that U.S. forces broke doors and windows at the Red Crescent headquarters "and they didn't find anything, and they left."
Gunmen in Iraqi army uniforms burst into Red Crescent offices on Sunday and kidnapped more than two dozen people at the humanitarian organization in the latest sign of the country's growing lawlessness.Well, OK. Please stop attacking the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The New York Times, typically trying to toe the administration line while hinting it knows better, suggests in its headline that the Iraqi Resistance attached the IRC, which has now suspended operations, which pointing another way in its text, to wit
In the latest violence, gunmen in five pickup trucks pulled up at the office of the Iraqi Red Crescent in downtown Baghdad and abducted 25 employees and three security guards from an adjacent building, police said. A Red Crescent official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of safety concerns, said the gunmen left women behind.
The Red Crescent, which is part of the international Red Cross movement, has around 1,000 staff and some 200,000 volunteers in Iraq. It works closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross, which visits detainees and tries to provide food, water and medicine to Iraqis. "We don't know who they are. We don't know why they did this," said Antonella Notari, a Red Cross spokeswoman in Geneva.
She also said the organization was in contact with the Iraqi Interior Ministry, which denied any involvement and had assured that they were searching for the abductees.
Dr. Jamal Al-Karbouli, the vice president of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, ... told reporters. “[The insurgents] respect our (the Red Crescent’s) identity, which is neutrality.”Yeah, well, OK. Do you still think the good of our staying outweighs the good of our leaving?
And then, as if on cue (and only to prove him wrong), gunmen wearing police uniforms — easy to come by on Iraq’s black market, Marc Santora and John O’Neil note in today’s Times — raided the headquarters of the Red Crescent yesterday, kidnapping more than 30 employees.
Now, we hear that a lot. It was a seller's market, it's now a buyer's market. But, really, does it have to be either? If the property values have only started to slide down, isn't it not really a buyer's market? I'm waiting until prices absolutely crater. It's a 'somebody else's money' market now, I'd think. If you're trying to sell in one of the regions that has started to deflate, your best bet would seem to be to get elected to office.
And they're very clear that they won't tolerate their platform being used as a platform for prostitutes.
But, the line. I don't see the line.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Recently, the card stripe reader at Grand Central hadn't been working, which is how I found out about the dogs. Today, I slipped in at about 8:20 and tried my card. Nothing. I tried it in various configurations, speeds and with special patterns, pretty much what you'd do if your magnetic card stripe reader was ignoring you. I melancholically accepted my fate, and began to trudge out of the building when an incoming woman confronted me. She was there to fix the machine! It had to be reset every morning because of a network problem! This had been going on for a month!
So, I chatted with the guy behind me about industrial art (we were actually in the Whitney Museum Annex in the Altria building, across the street from the actual train station) while she fixed the machine, and I deposited my check.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Now, one of my more controversial recent posts -- and I have to warn you again to think twice before following the video link -- dissed the idea of pets as being dishonorable to the status of free animals. I get my politics from Wicked. But, this point is important, too. That our affection for pets -- robot or otherwise -- is something that wicked overlords can use against us. It's just a thought. But, if we can train dolphins to shoot divers, why can't we train a puppy to seduce a cabinet secretary into snapping the neck of ... well, I won't say whose. I don't want to end up in Gitmo.
And speaking of controversy! I had dinner tonight with the volunteer coordinator for the local Red Cross. I told her I had a blog, and she said she'd never seen one. When I told her mine was "Fears and Frets," she corrected herself, as she'd seen this.
This blog! For at least one person, the only blog she recalls seeing. It's not nothing! I believe it was this post, inviting you all out to Staten Island. But, the point is, at least one large sovereign body is aware of me. I'll try not to let it get to my head.
One more point! This is my first post with Blogger's new interface. It's almost exactly the same, both for you and for me. But, let me know if there are any problems.
Now, the New York branch of Jews for Jesus is between my apartment and the subway. So, every day I walk past while they harrass passersby, "Have you heard the good news?" or whatever they say. But, they never talk to me. I figured it was a lost cause to try to make myself look Jewish, so I was just sort of hoping to get hit at random, maybe by somebody new to the game.
I explained all this to the guy in the park, and thanked him for finally including me in being possibly chosen. It was super important to him that I understand he was not with Jews for Jesus, but a regular Jew for Judaica, but once he felt he communicated that he said that made him feel good, and thanked me for sharing.
I don't know why that made him feel good, but I''m glad it did. It was our Christmas miracle.
Later that same day, I was visited by what would in the movies have been an angel. A panhandler asked me for some money, and I demurred. He persisted, and I asserted, "I shan't help you." He wanted me to explain why.
I didn't really have a good reason. But, I didn't see a reason to help him. He told me that as a Christian (this one guessed correctly) I had an obligation to help him. This is correct, but it's never seemed workable. I pick and choose how I'm going to help the poor and contribute to the community -- but I don't know if I get to. While on the one hand it seems arbitrary to give money to whosoever asks me, I'm back to pondering the question. Which is probably a good thing.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
It's amazing! "CNN Money requests the attentions of pigheaded husband Brian Schuett to this part of its website and magazine."
So, keep those lines of communication in your marriage open. Otherwise, this could be you!
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Is it still a digression if you lead with it? This post is really about CorpWatch. You know I think Bunnatine Greenhouse and Stuart Bowen are two of the real heroes of Iraq. If the occupation is about funneling money to Bechtel, CH2M Hill, Halliburton, SAIC and their ilk, then we lose as long as that goes on. It's fine to talk about all the disasters we create there and in Afghanistan, but the reason why we did it persists.
I saw this today in Talking Points Memo (it's from The Nation):
[In] New Orleans ... [f]ederal dollars are flowing to corporate bailouts and disaster profiteers, not to affected citizens, revealed an August analysis by CorpWatch, a San Francisco-based organization that previously investigated profiteering in Iraq and Afghanistan.And now I'm all hot on CorpWatch. And I'm going to go get me a deck for WTO Loteria.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Fellowships for Writers [and thinkers] at UNLV
This is new opportunity for RPCV writers [and thinkers] this was set up by Richard Wiley (Korea 1967-69) and others at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, check it out.
Founded in 2006, the Black Mountain Institute (BMI) is an international center dedicated to advancing literary and cross-cultural dialogue. Named after the long defunct Black Mountain College in North Carolina and Las Vegas' own Black Mountain, it is composed of the Forum on Contemporary Cultures (The Forum), the North American Network of Cities of Asylum (NANCA), and the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML). A center of excellence in modern letters, BMI provides an environment where thinkers and writers from all segments of global society can fight against entrenched perspectives, whatever their political or cultural source.
Beginning with the academic year 2007–2008, the Forum on Contemporary Cultures at the Black Mountain Institute (BMI) is pleased to offer from two to five nine-month fellowships to published writers and public intellectuals. Fellowships will be awarded to candidates whose work ranges away from the American experience and into international terrain, and who have an ongoing project that would benefit from a period of sustained immersion. The program accepts applications from novelists, poets, playwrights, historians, political scientists, independent scholars, and anyone else whose work is meant for a general, intelligent lay audience. The Fellows Program will offer its first fellowships in August of 2007.
The Forum awards from two to five fellowships each year to outstanding writers who have published at least one highly acclaimed book before the time of application. Foreign nationals conversant in English are welcome to apply. There are no degree requirements.
Terms and Conditions
Fellows receive a $50,000 stipend, an office, a computer, and full access to the UNLV Lied Library. They remain in residence at BMI for the duration of the fellowship term (approximately August 27, 2007 – May 16, 2008) and work on-site, daily, at the BMI offices. Fellows are required to give a talk on their work-in-progress to other fellows, as well as to a wide range of invited guests, and to take part in BMI programs. Additionally, fellows must make themselves available, on occasion, as visitors to UNLV graduate classes in fields related to their own work.
The Forum on Contemporary Cultures Fellows Program is Deadlines
Application deadline: February 28, 2007
Notification of selection results: May 1, 2007
end application and materials to:
Coordinator, Forum on Contemporary Cultures
Black Mountain Institute
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV 89154-5085
Program and application queries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Richard Wiley
Associate Director, Black Mountain Institute
Director, Forum on Contemporary Cultures
Richard Wiley is the author of five novels: Soldiers In Hiding (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for best American fiction), Fools' Gold, Festival for Three Thousand Maidens, Indigo, and Ahmed's Revenge. His most recent novel, Commodore Perry's Minstrel Show, will be published next year in the new Michener Series at the University of Texas Press. In addition, also next year, Hawthorne Books will reissue Soldiers In Hiding. Wiley has been a member of the UNLV English Department faculty since 1989
Sunday, December 10, 2006
That took me, what? Thirty-eight years?
Mr. Pinyan, the linked story relates, inspired an anti-bestiality law. This is probably because it would be hard to hire regulators (is it a job you'd want?) and it's the Washington State legislature's job to regulate things that can kill people.
But, I'm now thinking about bestiality. And I don't know that it's wrong. I'm sort of against pets, as it seems cruel to keep this degraded animal forms around us to amuse us and reassure us that it's OK nobody likes us. I'm for breeding animals for tasks, but I think it's just indulgent to breed animals as emotional crutches or ornamentation.
However, once we allow that, why not breed animals to have sex with us? Or even allow animals bred for other uses to be dual-purpose? I'm not suggesting a specific business here, I just miss what I suspect is an obvious argument against bestiality.
They're getting worse!
Variations up and down within 1 year are as large as the changes seen from one snapshot to the next during the past few decadesThe story is that the first result was from an instantaneous reading from a ship. Before they did that, they also lay in some long term instruments in the same area, and they've started to collect data from it. So, now they can see the variability, and they'd like to mitigate the panic.
The upshot is, some of us might live. I'm going to bed more hopeful than I was when I woke up.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
It takes a little bit of cognitive dissonance, but on top of being a party organ, the New York Times has a lot of fine news in it.
Two issues I've been following got an update in the newspaper. One, trans fats are now banned, and 'restaurants with static menus' have to publish calorie information. I know that's two things, but they're both implementations of the same set of recommendations.
In other news, I've been foiled again! Apparently, the government uses birth certificate gender for separating prisoners and other useful things. Private institutions segregate hospital beds and so forth. It was, I'll grant (as does the City Health Commissioner), a not "fully thought through" plan. However, it means I can't have a same sex marriage.
You win some, you lose some, I guess.
The press release for the World Institute for
Development Economics Research of the United Nations University's new study on The World Distribution of Household Wealth goes on to talk about why economic stratification is such an obsession with me: I'm an American
The concentration of wealth within countries varies significantly but is generally high. The share of the top 10% ranges from around 40% in China to 70% in the United States, and higher still in other countries.Our stratification is worse that China's. Well, we can be comforted to think that China has a lot of poor, and there might be a fair number of them in the top 10 %.
The Gini value, which measures inequality on a scale from zero to one, gives numbers in the range from 35% to 45% for income inequality in most countries. In contrast, Gini values forwealth inequality are usually between 65% and 75%, and sometimes exceed 80%.Man, why are those Finns always dumping on us? Do they hate Freedom? Gini's 89 % globally, so we're marginally better than nature red in tooth and claw. Of course, we have an edge...
Two high wealth economies, Japan and the United States, show very different patterns of wealth inequality, with Japan having a wealth Gini of 55% and the USA a wealth Gini of around 80%.
The authors go on to note that `many people in high-income countries have negative net worth and--somewhat paradoxically--are among the poorest people in the world in terms of household wealth.'Ha! Take that, Japan.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
So, I'm thinking about how this metaphor works.
In the 2006 survey, 28 percent of the respondents agreed that it is a serious problem and immediate action is necessary--up from 17 percent in 2003. All together, almost 60 percent of the 2006 respondents agreed that there's enough evidence to warrant some level of action.I could not explain to you what was going on with the other 40 %.
In 2003, people were willing to pay on average $14 more per month on their electricity bill to "solve" global warming. In 2006 they agreed to pay $21 more per month--a 50 percent increase in their willingness to pay.As the guy says, that's $25Billion dollars, which is enough to buy every last Senator and Member of Congress.
On the topic of Al Gore's role in all this, I read a Slashdot comment today that irritated me.
if anyone else had tried to get congress to act on Global Warming, there would have never been An Inconvenient Truth. Had Gore been more successful in convincing congress to join the Kyoto treaty or strengthen EPA guidelines, I don't believe there never would have been the movie.Now, Senators do hard things -- enriching yourself without crosssing any standing laws is trickier than you think, as is stovepiping legislation written by corporate malefactors. But, getting Congress to join the Kyoto treaty? Is anyone out there trying to think of an argument that would finally bring Senator Inhofe around? It was really a tough crowd -- the idea of starting at the top showed a little too much institutional bias; it was the people that needed to hear the message the whole time. But, having chosen to convice Congress instead, it's disingenuous to suggest Gore failed because of a lack of commitment or charisma.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Hmph. I wanted to lead the Manhattan seawall boondoggle. I mean solution.
Among other things, [New York City's Department of Environmental Protection] was concerned by the damage storm surges might inflict on a city surrounded by water. Although city officials declined to discuss concrete solutions for this article saying they were still in the "assessment" phase, scientists foresee potential fixes ranging from raising key infrastructure and building dikes, to flood gates and temporary seals over tunnel entrances. One group proposes raisable flood barriers large enough to protect all of Manhattan Island.
Sea levels have risen almost a foot in the past century, partly because of ice melt and thermal expansion (warmer water has more volume), and partly because of naturally occurring land subsidence of the Northeast. In the same period, area temperatures have risen nearly 2 degrees F. About two-thirds of that increase occurred in the past 30 years and sea-level rise has accelerated in the past decade. "The core body of knowledge has solidified" on climate change, says Cynthia Rosenzweig, the lead GISS scientist on the climate-change task force. "We're moving into a solution phase."
By which ball I mean crystal.
But, I'm happy to hear it's in the zeitgeist. The faster we start responding to climate change, the more we should be able to mitigate the damage. Well, that's the whole argument for prudence. But, I'm curious as to where the ten-year figure came from. James Hansen believes we have no more than ten years to act meaningfully, not that Manhattan will be underwater in ten years.
Does anyone have this reference? What magazine is this?
1. Expected Activity - 75% chance above normal, 20% chance near normal, 5% chance below normalNow, things with a 5 % chance do happen, roughly one in every twenty times. But, shouldn't we have expected some Bayesian updating? They told us "For the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, the expected ACE range is 110%-170% of the median... A value of 117% of the median corresponds to the lower boundary for an above-normal season." So, we expected above normal to way, way above normal.
This concerns me, because I can't shake the feeling that there are a bunch of potential hurricanes still out there, and that the tropical ocean has to relieve itself. Also, last hurricane season went into January, and this year's much warmer, at least in Manhattan. Generalizing about the rest of the world from what's happening in Manhattan is a core value of American writing, so it can't be wrong. So, I think that maybe the whole seasonal evolution thing is badly skewed enough that hurricane season is still kind of stuck in the middle.
I'm a little worried that January 2007 will be like September, with one tropical depression after another growing to hurricane status, half of them major. It's really important that hurricane season end by mid-February, because I'm going sailing in the Virgin Islands.
All I'm saying is, it'd be nice to have a new update from the NHC.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
And I think I'm using 6.0sp2 or some such thing. What's the point of the '.0' if they're going to call their minor releases service packs?
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
THIS IS A DRILL. THIS IS NOT A REAL EVENT.
The message below is part of an ARCGNY drill to assess the availability of our volunteer base to respond to an event with similar conditions and timing. Please give your availability as if you were now being asked to respond to this event, taking into consideration your real-life schedule and commitments; however, nothing beyond you’re email response is required for this simulation. The data collected from this request will be used in a tabletop drill tomorrow.
*** DRILL STAFFING REQUEST***
An incident has just occurred at Indian Point Energy Center in . Over the next several hours and the days to follow the American Red Cross in Greater may be called upon to assist in any necessary evacuations of the areas surrounding this nuclear facility with the establishment of shelters in our northern counties. At this time we are asking disaster volunteers of all areas of training to submit their availability and standby for more information.
Transportation will be available from 520 W 49th Street leaving/returning at the following times: 6am-6pm, 2pm-2am, 10pm-10am.
For volunteers able to stay in the northern counties for several days, lodging will be provided.
Please let us know the following:
- Phone number:
- Area(s) of training:
- Are you able to stay for several days?
- Dates/Times available:
REMEMBER: THIS IS ONLY AN EXERCISE; NO STAFF IS ACTUALLY BEING MOBILIZED.
Thank you for your participation.
The Staffing Team
Monday, November 13, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
But, there are secrets. I've come to believe, for instance, that only tourists pay to see comedy. And I've joined the $30 opera ticket club. So, now I'm starting to crack the code around play acting. I've just joined Audience Extras -- for $115, I can get ten tickets, alone or in pairs, over the next year. And I can keep adding money, at $3 per ticket. It certainly sounds like a good deal. For example, there's a concert Wednesday selling on the venue website at $40, to which I could get two tickets. Granted, it's all public domain music ;)
I'm looking forward to this!
Nothing suspicious there....
Thursday, November 09, 2006
So, I just wanted to point to David Dill of Verified Voting's statement that part of the problem of the vulnerability is that you wouldn't know it was happening. A cracker would just flip enough votes to ensure his side won, so in a squeaker, the black hat's candidate probably got fewer actual votes.
Since most of the close races went to Democrats....
Oh, one more thing. All Hail Micheal Young!
The Democratic legislature does have to come out swinging on climate change, gun control, universal health care, deficit elimination, financial services regulation, Iraq, trade policy, environmental protection and a host of other policy topics. They also have to aggressively pursue investigations into corruption and abuses of power, especially regarding Iraq reconstruction, lobbyist-written legislation and electoral shenanigans in 200, 2002 and 2004. Really, they have a full plate. I can't see them succeeding, being Democrats, but this is what the country needs.
But, this is all continuous stuff that we can't expect them to actually solve in the next two years. But, what President Pelosi needs to get done by March is the impeachment and conviction of Richard Bruce Cheney and George Walker Bush. There's no way the body politic will see that as anything but an insane power grab, so they'll need as much time as possible to adjust. A year later, she'll be in the middle of a reëlection campaign and it will be too late. This will anger Senator Clinton, but I've never seen quite why she thinks she should be president. It'll anger Tom Vilsack and other presumptive candidates, as well as delusionals like John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. I imagine Wesley Clark will be relieved.
The President and Vice President will clearly be an ongoing hindrance to any positive change in this country, and you have to imagine anyone who put some effort into it could find some high crimes and misdemeanors. The Democrats will not be able to stay united in purpose past, say, May. President Pelosi needs to step up early to take advantage of this unity and to get some solid governing history before she gets swallowed in the electoral cycle.
Get to it, Dems!
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
George Bush, the demigod love child of Aphrodite and GHW Bush, is given a choice -- Love, Wealth or Power -- by Artemis, Hera and Aphrodite. He demands all three, and gets spurned. Hera later relents, and offers to grant him a desire, which is to make George Bush president. When she interprets that as his father, Dubya gets a little testy. Artemis secretly sends her son by an underworld monster, Richard Bruce Cheney, to play on his ambitions. And you know the rest.
Oh, the humanity! Four Chairs Theatre was only doing a reading tonight, as they're trying to get enough money to stage it. But, it was a well spent 2 1/2 hours. While the gods were in a Greek tragedy, the humans (including renamed daughters Cass and Sandra) speak in iambic pentameter, which is cool. Not enough playwrights use iambic pentameter anymore! And it forwards one theory on one of the great mysteries of the Bush Admininstration, which is what happened to Colin Powell.
We know the Democrats will disappoint us if they do take power, but if we in our hole can't stop digging, at least we can dig more slowly. And we can hold hope in our hearts, at least through this evening, and maybe through, say, March.
Best of luck to the Dems!
Sunday, November 05, 2006
But, this National Republican Congressional Committee ad playing in Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District is just delightful. It accuses the Democratic Incumbent of being "funded by an organization[that would be the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] that used an image of flag-draped coffins in a commercial. Now, if you don't like images of flag-draped coffins in campaign commercials, that might speak to you. But, it's kind of undercut by the fact that they illustrate it with the same image of flag-draped coffins. To both watch TV and vote Republican, I guess you have to be able to say:
"I am a moron, and I accept this message."
Friday, November 03, 2006
The NYT fronts word of a provision tucked inside a military authorization bill that orders the termination of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Now lawmakers from both parties are saying they did not realize the provision was slipped in and want to reverse the decision.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Just a little laudatory note.
Monday, October 30, 2006
It was Soap Opera Digest, and there was some subtitle suggesting it was talking about a television character. This is a pretty normal mistake, and I wouldn't mention it (I do have some standards) but for the cover of the Globe, which was actually at my register. "The Bush Divorce Papers: An Angry Laura is ready to leave."
So, I got the gist of a totally different headline! It's all part of the cosmic unconciousness.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
So, we dated for several months, I fell in love with her, and the relationship eventually collapsed under the stresses we put on it. This was unfortunate, and made me quite sad. I still have a suitcase she asked me to bring on a trip, which I have filled with things to return to her. I called her yesterday, to try to arrange a drop, and it turned out it was still too early. My Hallward sobbed madly.
I get home (I was out buying wood expanding solution -- I know that sounds like an ED treatment, but I was just fixing some furniture) and who has spammed me? Join the Build-a-Bear Workshop® Friends Club.
Spam! My old nemesis. This round is yours.
Fox trot cartoon -- Jason is wearing a computer user interface on his head, and talking with his brother.
Jason: Like my costume?
Peter: What is it?
Jason: I'm a touch screen electronic voting machine. Computer experts have been warning for years that these things can be easily hacked, and without a paper trail there's no way to verify the vote counts weren't tampered with.
Here we are nine days before the election, and reportedly one third of all precincts will use them. Seriously, can you think of anything scarier?
Peter: Jason, most people don't care about this stuff.
Jason (musing afterward): Hmm. That was a pretty good answer.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
So, that's David Letterman's take on Bill O'Reilly. And this is largely true. But! During this interview, O'Reilly notes that if we leave a non-stable Iraq, Iran will take it over. So, the choice is:
- Keep enough troops in the middle of that bloody chaos to deter an Iranian invasion
- Pull out and let Iran stabilize the country.
Wouldn't you rather help fund an Iranian restoration of Iraq than keep throwing lives and money into a worsening situation? This is a great idea.
Pass it on.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Dean G. Popps, the director of Iraq Reconstruction and Program Management Office for the Army, wrote in a congratulatory e-mail to the Army's reconstruction teams: "Never has so much been done, so well and so quickly, by so few."So, the Army's apportioned all its money for reconstruction, so it figures Iraq's all reconstructed. And that they've done a great job. Do you ever get a pat on the back that rings false? So, OK, you feel like a miserable failure, which is normal enough, and some authority figure praises you. If you have trouble accepting the praise, recall that you didn't spend 15 billion dollars to
[raise] production capacity levels in the critical areas of oil and electricity to exceed pre-war (2002) levelsThis is a country that was under sanctions for a decade by 2002. Despite whatever oil-for-food scandals you may have heard about, Iraq's oil market was curtailed, and their infrastructure was failing. And that's the level we've done such a great job climbing back up to that we can pack up and go home.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
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your brain works. Using your brain works. Using the embarrassment of thinking
Head First Design Patterns that you can hold your
Head First Design Patterns and why everything Head First book, you know also want to learn
look "in the wild". on your team.
be wrong (and what
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
How does that help you in life? Obviously, it gives you practice at piercing ellipticallity, but as a spam connosieur, I have discovered an application for being good at describing things with indirectly related terms.
TIRED OF STARING AT PLAYBOY TRYING TO GET HARD?
I was just cleaning out my gmail spam filter, and that subject line from some sleazeball selling strychnine over the internet as an erectile dysfunction cure caught my eye. Really, it's clear what he means, but you'd never phrase it that way if you were trying to subvert UCE solutions. I'll be that guy's pretty good at Scattergories.
Now, as far as I know, The Bush Administration abandoned terrorism as a priority when they took office, busy as they were inventing stories about keyboards. So, when the Secretary of State says "What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years," I just pray that somebody ask the follow up question, "What was that?"
This is where the political debate belonged after 9/11, and what should have dominated the terrorism part of the 2002 midterm election cycle. Since then, we should have been evaluating the current administrations skill at execution, but its failure in preparation for attack should have been the question of the hour for many, many hours. And it took five years and an ex-president to bring it up.
Well, we'll see if this catches fire. I can't wait.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Now, if you enjoy difficult and unrewarding tasks, you can check in online 24 hours before your flight. More sensibly, you can stick your credit card into a kiosk, push a touchscreen a handful of times, and be on your way to cracking bomb jokes in the security line.
I still have no idea what the business was with the keyboards.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
"If you're chasing the chicken around the chicken yard and you don't have him yet and the question is, 'how close are you?' the answer is, 'it's tough to characterise because there's lots of zigs and zags.'"
The words of the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld just weeks after the 11 September attacks when asked how close his government was to catching Osama Bin Laden.
So, everything turned out great. But, it's not clear how resonant that phrase "at least Mussolini made the trains run on time" is to the average Italian until you experience exactly how unreliable their train system is.
Well. Netscape Mail is no more. I'm not sure there'll be a lot of mourning of its passage, but I still used it for the occasional mailing list. AOL has merged it into AIM mail. When I tried to log in today, I got the registration screen shown here.
I hate passwords as much as the next guy, but isn't this stupid? Maybe I'm particularly disloyal, but my favorite song, town, food and book change from time to time. I don't think they'd be a super good way to recover a lost password.
But, it's nice to see people thinking outside the box.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
"Oh, I think I dated her."
"I doubt you dated anyone called that."
So, if you think New York is overrun by meanies, I'm here to assert that arbitrary strangers do sometimes give you superficial reinforcement. So, come to Manhattan.
- The read rates are going to be unexpectedly low
- Maintenance costs for the readers are going to be unusually high
- There'll be a public announcement of someone having tricked a reader, shelving any staff reduction plans
- Privacy concerns will force the State Department to offer RFID-less passports as an option
- The chips themselves will prove vulnerable to things like laundry, storage in hotel safes with electronic equipment, begin driven over, and other things that passports go through. I might have unusually unlucky passports, but I don't think so.
But, why are we then buying our chips from Germans? I expect our contracting process to be somewhat corrupt, but it should definitely be buying American. Alien, Impinj, Avery Dennison and Texas Instruments, just to name some chip vendors off the top of my head, would love to get a piece of this action. Buying chips overseas totally does not keep the money on shore!
Somebody needs to read up on his Reaganomics.
Monday, August 28, 2006
three quarters of Iraq now gets twice as much [electricity] today as it did before the war.Do you suspect that maybe the major cities are all in that last quarter? I'm assuming they're quartering by land mass, not by population or pre-sanction energy consumption.
The reporter didn't write about the Water Treatment Plant he visited that will provide fresh potable water to more than half a million people in southern Iraq in just two more months.That's funny. Two more months was always the amount of time my Master's Thesis was going to take. You have to wonder why they didn't show a completed one.
The Corp of Engineers planned to complete three thousand two hundred reconstruction projects. Today they are focusing on the completion of three thousand seven hundred projects. The Corp has also started three thousand five hundred of those projects and completed almost twenty eight hundred and the work is continuing.Could there maybe be a rollover project or two? It seems like the number of projects is increasing.
I'm not suggesting we're doing no good in Iraq. We're doing far less good than we're doing harm, but I expect that there are little patches of incremental immediate benefit. But, the statements of it are designed to make it sound better than it is. It's quite dishonest, whether the author is an Army Sergeant or a thinktank intern. I think that explicitly identifying things that are dishonest or crazy wrong was a large part of what Congress and the media failed to do in the run up to the war, so I'm trying to model good behavior.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
As far as I know, Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics is the only well-known economist flatly predicting a housing-led recession in the coming year.A major economist agrees with me!
Natascha Kampusch was 10 when she vanished in 1998 while walking to school in Vienna.
Yesterday she leapt from a black BMW and ran into a nearby garden....
Police spokesman Erich Zwettler said she seemed to have had "Stockholm syndrome", a psychological condition in which long-held captives begin to relate to their captors.
I don't think that's Stockholm Syndrome. That's being raised from the age of ten -- it's supposed to create a certain amount of affection. And, in this country, end at the age of eighteen. You don't normally jump out of a black BMW, but you can look at that like a metaphor. In fact, the whole thing has 'opera' written all over it.
Michael Lutin, columnist for Vanity Fair, considers UB313 really too far away to affect our day to day life. You know? Of course it won't. The thought that it could is absurd! But, can you take that thinking one step further?
Now, you're aware that the University of Utah began its push to be the premier American department of Atmospheric Sciences by hiring Nephologist Tim Garrett in 2002. In that vein, they've now released an update to their popular Mesomaps tool. Really, it kept me from building one of my own.
Check it out -- you, too, can make pictures like this, too.
It's important to remember that although we may worship it as a God, what the National Hurricane Center specialists do is look at a bunch of divergent model solutions and trust their respective guts to form a consensus track and intensity forecast.THE INTENSITY FORECAST IS HIGHLY CONTINGENT UPON A COMPLICATED
UPPER-LEVEL PATTERN FOR WHICH THE GLOBAL MODELS PROVIDE DIFFERING
BOTH THE SHIPS AND GFDL MODELS INTENSIFY THE CYCLONE TO
A HURRICANE WITHIN 3 DAYS.
That image I just stuck in by directly editing the HTML.
Now, earlier discussion of TD-5 mentioned a nearby cyclone that would take over when TD-5 failed to evolve. But, their keeping mum now. Ah, the politics of hurricane forecasting.
On another topic, does it look like somebody corrupted this poll?
I had an unexpected moment of fellow feeling with the repugnant supporters of oppression today when Pluto lost its status as a planet in the eyes of the International Astronomical Union. I'm a post-Enlightment guy -- I was a deist in college -- and I have an affection for consistency and order for its own sake. So, I get that it would have taken a lot of semantic acrobatics to make Pluto a planet and exclude Ceres, Charon and Xena. But, still, I say, 'why not leave well enough alone?'
In stark contrast to Fair Marriage, nobody benefits from this new consistency in celestial taxonomy. And 'planet' to my mind didn't really need a consistent definition -- the dynamical properties of bodies aren't going to change with their labels, and they're not going to play a different role in our lives. Planetary status didn't get Pluto a tax break. So, I would let custom rule over consistency in this instance.
All of which leaves me eager, as I always am when I see a chance for me and the biodiesel president to agree on something. Because the IAU is an international decision making body, and which rocks you refer to as planets is really up to you, I expect President Bush to publicly and boldy refer to Pluto's continuing status as a planet in the weeks upcoming.
The NAHB released data, and I made charts. Housing affordability in the Wayne-White Plains MSA (which includes Manhattan) spiked after 9/11 and is now half its previous nadir for the years since Q191. It's plotted against the ratio of median income to price to show the impact of interest rates.
The second plot shows how afforability nationally has fared over the same period. It's plotted against the percentage of adjustable rate mortgages, which has been dropping, although not fast enough to keep us out of the crapper. Anyway, I said a bunch of predictable things based on those plots and the associated data tables.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
If you saw the Al Gore movie, you'll understand that the next few days over cold water will only provide a temporary respite. On the plus side, it's starting to look more and more like Debby will hold off until I get out of the City.THE NHC FORECAST BRINGS DEBBY TO HURRICANE STRENGTH IN 4 DAYS...WHICH
IS VERY CLOSE TO THE CONSENSUS OF THE GFDL AND SHIPS
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I was hanging out this morning reviewing satellite pictures of Hurricane Debby (really the water vapor animations from the Eastern Atlantic) and I noticed a similar scale storm coming out of Niger in the Funktop.
Can these things come out of Africa to get us, like africanized killer bees? We really don't need two in a row.
Can you slow the 'tropical wave' down a little bit? I get on an airplane in Newark bound for Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris next Friday night at 10:00. Can we ask Tropical Depression Four to bounce around the Carribean Sea for a few days before smashing into Manhattan as a Class V Hurricane? I'd really prefer that the bulk of the immediate cleanup be done before I get back.
Thanks.I AM NOT TOO ENTHRALLED WITH THE MODEL SOLUTIONS...AND WE MAY
SEE THE CYCLONE TURN OUT TO BE MORE OF A WEST-RUNNER THAN A
RECURVER THROUGH THE STRONG SUBTROPICAL RIDGE LOCATED TO THE
NORTH...THEN THE CYCLONE WILL LIKELY MISS THE WEAKNESS IN THE
RIDGE THAT ALL THE MODELS FORECAST TO DEVELOP.
Monday, August 21, 2006
To paraphrase Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a Cape Verde-type hurricane can rain destruction on Manhattan. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Is this some attempt by the liberazzi at the NWS to suggest that there's more carbon dioxide in the air?CURRENTLY, WE BELIEVE THAT THE WET SPRING AND OVERLY GREEN
CONDITIONS IN CENTRAL PARK ARE CONTRIBUTING TO THE SLIGHTLY COOLER
READINGS WE HAVE SEEN IN THE PARK DURING THIS RECENT HEAT WAVE. THE
BACKUP TEMPERATURE GAGE IS TOTALLY IN LINE WITH OUR ASOS TEMPERATURE
EQUIPMENT WHICH WAS RECALIBRATED JUST BEFORE THIS RECENT HEAT WAVE
BEGAN, SO THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT THE READINGS ARE CORRECT.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Maybe he got the low price goods off of other people's trucks?
Saturday, August 12, 2006
The theoretical Northern
δ-Aquarid maximum on August 8, and the major Perseids (whose maximum is most likely between 23h— 1h30mUT on August 12— 13, though other peaks on August 13 around 2hand 9hUT are also possible from recent past results), both suffer badly from August's full Moon.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Estimated monthly changes in the mass of Greenland's ice sheet suggest it is melting at a rate of about 239 cubic kilometres (57.3 cubic miles) per year.
This figure is about three times higher than an earlier estimate of the mass loss from Greenland made using the first two years of Grace measurements.
But, then the article goes on to say
This would amount to a contribution to global sea level rise from Greenland of about half a millimetre (0.02 inches) each year.Now, my 20th hig school reunion is this weekend, so I'm reminded of the big ugly box I went to about 180 days out of the year for two years. They had a little class there they liked to call 'Physics.' And in Physics, we learned that accelerating phenomena don't proceed at constant rates. Remember the little triangle to show how much ground an accelerating car covered?
I think we need a new estimate of when the sheet will be gone.
There are a couple of problems with this
- We don't exactly know where the new coastlines will be. Is all of the ice going to melt? As humid as it gets, the water in the atmosphere shouldn't make that much difference to the sea surface height, so this is all about ice.
- If all the ice does melt, there's some disagreement about when this would happen. The official forecast is something like a decimeter SSH rise by the end of the century. This is because climate scientists, as much as they make fun of financial analysts for doing this sort of thing, seem to favor a stable year-over-year rise in global average temperature.
- We won't get beaches right away. We'll have to suffer through possibly decades of extreme wetlands. Good for the mangrove farmers, bad for beach tennis. If you knew where the coastline would be when the ice was all gone and when that would happen, it wouldn't be sandy for another several decades.
- Climate change will cause crop failure and major disruptions in transportation and probably communications, as well as pandemics and surprise effects like these beach bacterial infections we have now and (pet theory alert) tsunamis. It seems unlikely our challenged democracy will survive, and we should end up in a more pronounced plutocracy, where the private army of some rich person will just take whatever property that rich person wants.
And I'm all like, "Link exchange is cool."
So, as careful readers will note, I now have a links section.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
No real pattern leaps out, but we'll wait and see.
- If no one was taxed, no revenues would be raised
- If taxes took everything, no one would bother to generate wealth, and no revenues would be raised
- We're between 0 and 100 % taxation
- Some tax revenues are raised
- Since we have two zeros with an non-zero number in between, the dependence of tax revenues on taxation is a parabola
- Since more than half of all economic wealth is absorbed into taxes, reducing taxes would increase revenues
But! Two kind of crazy otherwordly things happened, as reported in Slate.
- Dick Cheney ordered a study to see how true this was
- A report was released debunking the Laffer Curve nonsense
Here you are. The introduction seems very line-toeing, but turns around into brutal irony the deeper you read.
Extending the remainder of the tax relief – the 10 percent rate, the expansion of the child tax credit, and the reduction in marriage penalties – stimulated economic activity during and immediately after the recession and served other purposes, such as making the tax code more progressive. However, these elements of the tax relief do not have positive growth effects in the longer term in ways that this type of model can measure.
Which is to say, tax cuts are only good for the rich.
Second, the initial steady state assumes that current law polices are fiscally sustainable.Zing!
If the revenue cost of that tax relief is offset by reducing future government spending, the increase in output is likely be about 0.7 percent under plausible assumptions. If, instead, the tax relief is extended only through the 14 end of the budget window (i.e., it is temporary), the tax relief would increase national output in the short run, but long-run output would decline as future tax rates increase.Well, OK. But, if Mr.-Tax-Cut president can't get spending down with a friendly Congress, I think we'd best keep an eye on our revenues.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
- Inadequate sleep -- this can apparently make you fat.
- Chemical contamination -- the environment is contaminated with endocrine-like substances.
- Heating and air-conditioning -- you don't burn off calories to stay warm, and the heat doesn't kill your appetite.
- Smoking cessation -- well, if you've quit...
- Medications -- Prozac, birth control pills and more promote weight gain.