Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jilll Carroll freed

Thanks for all your efforts. I knew if we all pulled together, we could make this happen.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hey! eBay's Right!

Again from the Journal, which I love -- I'm careful to stay away from the editorial pages, which by all accounts are stone crazy.
While patents may be property, the San Jose, Calif., Internet auctioneer argues, Congress never intended to give patent holders who don't use their inventions nearly insurmountable leverage over companies later found to infringe.
I've been such a tool! You know how you're told when you're a kid that the Big Auto Companies buy patents for improvements in safety, fuel efficiency and so forth just to keep competition from arising? That seems a little fishy, but hey, patents are property, right?

And then, one day, someone tells you why patents are property: to encourage innovation by guaranteeing an inventor monopoly profits for some time. And you see that the whole pharmaceutical industry is actually built around this. And this kind of intellectual structure around patents just fades into culture, and you accept it. Like I accepted my sister's assertion that if one stared at an object long enough, she or he would burn a hole in it. I finally reconsidered this as an undergraduate senior Physics major (it's not something I tried to use a lot.) It was just this crazy thing I believed in, like congressional oversight. Or patent law justifications.

Now, if we do strip patents from people who fail to use them, this will incite large companies to interfere with usage of threatening technologies until the whatever time frame we set expires. And there are probably a few other problems. But, really, why can't we let eBay win?

Tribeca Film Festival coming to town

Not that the Tribeca Film Festival was anywere else in the interim. Anyway, it starts on my birthday! I'm a little miffed that I'll be in Utah for the last bit of it, but such are the tradeoffs that we make.
I hope to make up for last year, in which I got as far as the Tribeca Grill. Let me know if you hear good advance buzz about any of these movies. Well, any that are playing before the second.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Score another for Carter

Guinea worm's going away. Link thanks to Slate.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Man eats Dog

Bush Blasts Democrats on Economic Issues
Now, I just read this headline in Salon. I haven't read the article ... while I spend an inordinate amount of time reading articles, I end up getting most of my news from headlines. Yesterday, the New York Sun had a photo on the front page headlined "Australia sinks North Korean Vessel", and until I read the rest of the caption (target practice on previously impoundedd freighter) I thought we were sliding into World War III. It was a bad few minutes.

But, this is priceless. I know a trick of the Bush Administration is to attack their critics for their own sins. Senator Kerrey served dishonorably, Saddam Hussein doesn't value dissent, environmentalists want to destroy our way of life, and so forth. But, President Bush attacking anyone on 'economic issues?' All right, let's see what he has to say...

The remark drew robust laughter. "I don't know why that's funny," Cheney said.

I guess that sums it up.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Blood and Fire

Nice turn of phrase from Joshua Micah Marshall.
Working with experts on post-war reconstuction was no more than pissing away time and expense on a tribe of effete paper-pushers. [HBS MBA Dan Senor]'s unperturbed and oblivious to the fact that the product of his cocky assuredness has descended into blood and fire.

The French are storming the White House!

So, this story bothered me for one simple reason. What would a non-suspicious package thrown over the White House wall be like. "Cyrille Y. Morotte, 36, threw a packet of papers bound with a rubber band over a gate at the White House, arousing no suspicion whatsoever."

So, it's probably some sort of manifesto or indictment -- I'm looking forward to hearing what it was. And I totally concur with the Secret Service's decision to investigate it with a bomb-sniffing robot. But, adding the redundant word 'suspicious' here is just siding with the president against his detractors, which we have had totally enough of from the press.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

9/11 Conspiracy Theorists still out there

One of the surprising things about Saturday's Iraq War protests in New York was that the most vocal group were the "9/11 was an inside job" marchers. This meme isn't going away. As a moderate -- which means I'm a LIHOP (the Bush Administration created opportunities for a large terrorist attack, ie, they "let it happen on purpose") rather than a MIHOP (m for "made") -- I haven't seen anything particularly compelling.

There's an irony in the inside-jobbers, which is that many of their arguments are just bad engineering -- in the linked article the argument seems to be that steel is proof from fire, which would have left us in the Iron Age a little longer. This is ironic because I believe nefarious republicans intentionally gutted public education so they could elect people with ideas that wouldn't stand up under scrutiny.

So, ha! There's a downside to having an ill-educated, fuzzily thinking body politic! Take that!

John Snow's Efficient Star System

Now, the Wall Street Journal editorial page loves the Bush Administration. And I think this is because the Bush Administration loves the Wall Street Journal. And I further think that this is because, while the stories they write do make the administration look ridiculous, as any honest analysis must, they have the good grace to keep it out of internet searches and make people pay to read it.

This is a little experiment. Until Next Monday night, you should have access to a Wall Street Journal interview with Treasury Secretary John Snow, which is probably the most inane thing I've read since the last interview with a Bush Appointee.

What's got me all in a tizzy is that the Treasury Secretary, the fomer CEO of CSX, a hella big company, is richer than me, and says stuff like, "We've moved into a star system for some reason which is not fully understood. Across virtually all professions, there have been growing gaps." This is of course a fine thing to say. But, to him it's a defense of his economic stewardship! It's not okeh! The man has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Virginia!

And this is what I love about the Journal:

Mr. Snow's case relies on averages, which can be skewed by big gains among the wealthiest. Other data suggest the typical family has seen little advance in income or net worth since Mr. Bush took office. Census Bureau data show median family income -- half of families have income greater than the median, half have less -- fell 3.6% from 2000 through 2004. Incomes for the poorest families fell even further. The only group to gain was the family at the 95th percentile -- that is, richer than 95% of all families. Data for 2005 are unavailable.

Alan Krueger, a labor economist at Princeton University who served in the Clinton administration, cited Labor Department data that showed the real median wage rose 3% from 2000 to 2005. Gains were smallest for the lowest-paid workers and largest for the best-paid. "From the standpoint of the work force, it's been a very weak recovery," he said. Wage data don't incorporate the effects of taxes, investment income or government payments.

As for net worth, a triennial Federal Reserve survey found that the net worth of the median family rose 1.5%, after inflation, from 2001 through 2004. That is far less than the 17% increase from 1995 to 1998 and the 10% increase from 1998 to 2001. The survey wasn't conducted in 2000 or 2005.

Friday, March 17, 2006

What the world needs now is a movie of Cloudsplitter

Thank goodness that George Clooney has made the world safe for political movies. Somebody famous had to take on the risk and punishment, and he did. Good on him.
So, now let's have more. I'm hoping that a movie version of Cloudsplitter is in the works. Remember "Cloudsplitter"? Alienated abolitionist turns to terror? I saw Russell Banks read from it at the Elliott Bay Book Store in Seattle, and he explained that when he told blacks that he was writing a book about John Brown, they asked "the hero?" and when he told whites, they responded, "he went crazy, didn't he?"

The story's told from the point of view of John's son Owen, and Mr. Banks read what became one of my favorite lines. "The difference between my father and myself is that I had him for a father, and he had someone else."

But, to the point. Terrorism is very bad for wealthy people, and for people in control. They would prefer that you become wealthy and powerful yourself before entering into a genteel dialogue about the way things are run. But, John Brown was a terrorist -- my second favorite line from the book is when he growls, "we must become terrible" -- and slavery (at least as we practiced it here) was bad. Sure, our well beloved president Ronald Reagan felt that terrorists were the moral equivalent of our founding fathers, but recently the pendulum has kind of shifted the other way.

What with Clooney creating an environment for political pictures and Mr. Banks compelling writing, I think this movie could really be great.

Hold on -- remember the professor and the frisbee in "Rescue from Gilligan's Island"? Let's do a brief search on who has the film options... Martin Scorcese? To be directed by Rauol Peck for HBO, written by Paul Schrader. I'm not sure if it's been made or not. Oo! Let's check the IMDB. Hmph. Not listed. Let's hope this film comes out of the can and gets a theatrical release soon!

New Story Posted at the Spoof

Check it out.