A big scientific birthdate occurred fifty years ago today; the discovery of DNA.
Here's a charming appreciation of Mr. Rogers; read the final paragraph for a lovely anecdote. I confess I never watched the show; I plead being the wrong age group. By the time it began I was already in college, and the idea of getting a bunch of fraternity boys to tune the only television to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood would have been met with thrown glasses or something.
The next time I need to have my car inspected and registered, somebody remind me that it should be done mid-month, not on the next-to-the-last day of the annual registration period. Gah! A half-hour in line at a satellite city hall for a three-minute transaction.
Author: Frank Jacobs
'Twas '80, and the Carter Bush
Did Kennedy the Brown campaign;
All Reagan was the Baker push,
And Connally did Crane.
Inflation must be trebulized;
We dare not wivvet, dwirt, or zeer;
When teckled smorts ask, "Will you glortz?"
Our answer should be clear.
The Middle East defloins with dridd,
With OPEC steeching day by day;
Unsneezed, we'll dworp Khomeini's norp,
Despite what others say.
What price atomic bandersnatch
When frangled by the smiggy grote?
I say, "Let's gorch with no more slorch";
This statement you may quote.
It's time we sneckled energy;
Our gribbish freems won't vleet away;
As Lincoln said, "To glinch is ned;"
It still makes sense today.
I duzzlekate most lomishly
With those who zunk this nurgled land;
To them I say, "The gleek will snay!"
You'd think they'd understand.
Grave questions glip us as we streep;
Will Brezhnez jub the frammissoo?
Will Arabs grot and snurb Sadat?
I'll leave it up to you.
To ablovate the Soviets
Seems noggled breep, a greemish task;
What's nurg with SALT? It's smung with gralt!
I thought you'd never ask.
What glop defense when cities snerve,
When farmers driddle wiffishly;
Our unemployed are sneep and floyed;
On this we all agree.
Alfred E. Neuman
And when the final gleek was flort,
Just two remained to zorch and vame,
Which makes no diff'rence anyhow,
'Cause each one sounds the same!
"Election Year Jabberwocky" published in MAD Magazine, Number 216, July 1980.
© Copyright 1980 by E. C. Publications, Inc.
The issue in which this parody appeared was published in the middle of the campaign period for the 1980 U. S. Presidential election. In the accompanying illustration (by Angelo Torres), each of the 8 final contenders (from both the Democrat and Republican parties; they were running for their parties' nomination as Presidential candidate) spoke one of the middle verses, with TV journalist Cronkite introducing and MAD mascot Alfred E. Neuman closing the poem.
Admittedly, this article emanates from the Genome News Network, so the author is trying to make a point, but it's still one of the better discussions I've seen about stem-cell research, cloning, and politics.
One of the stumbling blocks is a broad, deep lack of understanding of what the word "cloning" means. The word is widely used in our society and has been given a number of meanings, most of them wrong.
To scientists, cloning means making a copy of something—-anything, a stretch of DNA, a virus, a cell. To most laypeople, including many members of Congress, cloning means creating a carbon-copy organism, like Dolly the sheep or the army of clones in a recent "Star Wars" movie. It means making an exact copy of a living adult and the imagination often focuses on evil ones at that.
BREAKING NEWS: RUMSFELD CALLS FOR PREEMPTIVE STRIKE ON LOUISIANA!
Judicial news and views: E.J. Dionne lays out the case for balance on the federal courts, while the Baltimore Sun calls for Ashcroft's dismissal. Aside from ideology, the DOJ's equivalent of grade inflation might be cause for at least a reprimand; terrorism conviction statistics for fiscal 2002 have been overstated.
The full list of Grammy Winners can be found here. I was kinda rooting for Bering Strait to win the Best Country Instrumental award after hearing them interviewed on NPR and seeing them on 60 Minutes, but it was not to be.
I posted some pix over at Hawai'i Stories from the first Hawai'i Bloggers picnic, in case you're curious. Other than that, I'm having a Linda Ronstadt musicfest today, rediscovering all those wonderful songs. I have a hole in the collection I really want to fill, however: in the mid-80s she did three albums of the Great American Songbook with Nelson Riddle, and they've been compiled into a two-disc set which looks delicious.
Ok, I was gonna rant and rave some more about the flawed gentleman running the DOJ, but this idea is too good not to pass along. Go sing the praises of your favorite state. (Thanks for the heads-up, Skits!)
Eric Alterman has written a book entitled "What Liberal Media?" which attempts to refute the commonly-held belief that the media is inherently biased. He makes a pretty convincing case, citing, among other things, the number of conservative pundits who regularly appear on TV and in print, even in the so-called liberal bastions of the Washington Post and CNN. Here's an excerpt.
Here's an ambitious goal: "catalogue and preserve the country's digital information, a process expected to take up to five years." It's a $100M project undertaken by (who else) the Library of Congress.
Remember that $15B for AIDS Bush announced in the State of the Union? Well, here come the strings. According to a leaked State Department memo,
The President is considering a requirement that all foreign NGOs certify, as a condition of receiving US funds, that they neither perform nor promote abortion as a method of family planning.
"Who could imagine that in a wartime atmosphere we would consider leaving the children of the military behind?"
The Moon Hoax (link found at Jon's place). This is not one of those "the landing was a conspiracy" sites; nope, this one proposes that the entire existence of the Moon is a hoax perpetrated on humanity by innumerable scientists, poets and romantics. Good fun. (Note: on further reading of the main site, I'm still reasonably sure the whole thing is satire, but you be the judge. The tipoff might be this line, found on the main page: "We therefore present to you with our series of essays dedicated to the manufacturing of truth through the discarding of evidence.")
Wanna get a bet down on Bush second term futures? On Saddam Hussein's date of departure? On whether there's a second UN resolution? Go to TradeSports, a Dublin-based betting shop; click on Politics/Current Events. In somewhat related news, am I the only one who thinks combining $26 billion in loans and grants to Turkey in exchange for using its land as a jumping-off spot for war smacks of bribery?
Remember the recently-dropped GAO suit for Cheney's energy task force records? It now appears that the GAO was threatened by Republican Senators as an inducement to drop the suit.
Walker did say, however, that several lawmakers have threatened in the past year to cut agency funding if it persisted with the controversial lawsuit. He also said the budget threat was among a number of factors that tipped his Feb. 7 decision to halt litigation.
In an apparent defeat, at least for now, the FCC will continue to allow states to regulate telephone company leasing rates to their competitors. Presumably this means more stable prices on the phone bill, although there will probably be an appeal. What's interesting is that it's a defeat for FCC Chairman Michael Powell (yes, Colin's son), champion of the deregulation forces.
In what may be a country-wide precedent, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that you may now sue your HMO if it denies a treatment request your doctor feels necessary. More legal news: does Ashcroft's Justice Dept. have a legal agenda, or a political one? (Link via TalkLeft).
I'll bet there was a ton of soul-searching that went on before this decision was made: scientific journals will voluntarily excise sensitive data from the papers they publish. The goal is to keep technical information out of public (read: terrorists') hands, while still allowing reproduction of trials to corroborate results. That could be a really tricky task.
Ah, the old (as in, obsolete) data storage device. Sound familiar? Not obsolete, but not necessarily useful either: feel-good security measures of little actual usefulness. Privacy International is sponsoring an international competition to discover the world's most "pointless, intrusive, stupid and self-serving security measure." It's got a catchy title, too: Stupid Security Awards.
There was a Hawaii Bloggers picnic on Sunday, with about 12-15 attendees. Photos should be over at Hawai'i Stories today. When I got home from that, we watched The Music Man and enjoyed it very much. Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth were great as Prof. Hill and Marian the Librarian. Pop quiz: which forerunner of the musical British Invasion covered "Till There Was You" on their first album?
Since Banned Books Week is over for the year, there's a new button over there on the left. It links to the UN's Population Fund Campaign, which has collected $574,055.57 through February 14.
"Their goal is to find 34 million friends to help UNFPA continue its invaluable work as the largest multilateral provider of family planning and maternal health care."
The $34M goal is to replace the $34M the Bush Administration denied the fund in its last budget for ideological reasons. The Population Fund promotes women's welfare in many ways, one of which is (gasp) contraception, and the Bushies prefer abstinence as their method of "choice."
It appears that someone in the Administration feels the same way I do:
"There are people here who are trying to destroy institutions that have served us well since World War II -- and still have some utility -- and they have no obvious replacement but raw American power," complained a senior administration official.
From the same article:
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the administration has pursued an especially muscular foreign policy, but foreign officials say anger at the administration's style set in almost from the moment President Bush took office. The administration's rejection of the Kyoto treaty to stem global warming and Bush's abrupt dismissal of South Korea's "sunshine" policy toward North Korea set the impression that the administration was not interested in listening too closely to the concerns of its allies, diplomats said. The administration exacerbated tensions by refusing to join the International Criminal Court, withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and announcing a doctrine of fighting preventive wars that surprised and concerned allies.
There's an old adage: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The Bush Administration, if its inhabitants ever knew that, appears to have forgotten. In the corporate world, when the CEO speaks, everybody jumps. Bush has read too much of his own ink; he seems to think he's CEO of the world, and the CEOs around him (Rumsfeld at Searle, Cheney at Halliburton) have done nothing to disabuse him of the notion. In fact, they may have infected him with it.
Scott is tired. Josh Marshall is alarmed. I am disgusted. I'm disgusted with the Democrats for having no cojones, but mostly I'm disgusted with the current occupant of the White House and his crowd of bullies. The litany of alliances and treaties they have done their best to destroy goes on and on; my country, led by this pack of fools, has become one of the most feared and disliked nations on the planet. Surely not even the 50,456,167 people who voted for GW Bush wanted or expected him to govern as though the world was his to trample on, yet that is precisely what he's done and continues to do.
Kyoto? Who cares whether the planet suffers? My contributors in the extractive industries got theirs. ABM treaty? Gotta take care of the aerospace and defense contractors. The UN? A debating society; who needs it? NATO? Outlived its usefulness, and besides, the French and Germans belong to it. American civil liberties? The damn people whine too much; let's spy on 'em and see who we can get the goods on; then we'll take away their citizenship. American forests, air and water? Hey, my industry buddies'll clean up after themselves; all I gotta do is ask. Oh, and about all those programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security? All the people who get that help should have
worked as hard as I did to get rich been born wealthy like me, then they wouldn't need it. Besides, those programs are BIG Government, and I don't like BIG Government, so if I can spend the country into a big enough hole, those programs will have to be cut way back. That'll please all my anti-tax buddies.
I keep reading statistics telling me that relatively few people have even $50K saved up for their retirement; I wonder how many of them are included in that 50 million people who voted for this. Do they still expect to collect Social Security as a supplement to their retirement income, or to have Medicare help pay for their parents' medical bills? As the deficit grows, they'd better not count on it. This is a train wreck, and we're all in the caboose.
What's wrong with this picture? Referring to the fiscal 2003 budget, it's a "1,100-page spending package — which most members of Congress have not seen..." I grant you that Congresspeople are busy, and trying to grasp the details buried in an eleven-hundred page document might take weeks, but it ain't no way to run a country.
Apparently the tax code is too big to read, too: Enron (remember Enron?) managed to (quite legally, apparently) avoid paying taxes four of its last five years in business, and the IRS is befuddled.
Don't I recall Shelley blogging about kissing? Ok, that's the hard science version; here's the breezier buzz on osculation. If you have a .wav or mp3 file of As Time Goes By, boot it up while reading.
The threat TIA posed to civil liberties has suddenly awakened the House leadership. A conference committee has blocked its use against American citizens.
Off to find English-language copies of ennabling legislation for the Norwegian and Danish National Health Services; wish me luck.
Bush to raise rent for public housing tenants: An assistant secretary of housing and urban development, Michael Liu, said today that the minimum rent proposal was "a reasonable way to promote work and responsibility." Full disclosure: Liu and I worked for the same company at the same time in the early 1980s.
Brian Eno weighs in on 21st century America. Unlike some other celebrity spoutings, Eno seems to have given this subject some thought.
It pains me to report (NOT!) that Tom Delay (R-TX), illustrious former exterminator and House Majority Leader, has opened his mouth once too often and gotten himself into trouble with the Teamsters, about the only union which tolerates the Bush Administration. He's essentially endorsed the view that unions are unpatriotic, allowing a letter espousing that idea to go to an anti-union organization over his signature. E.J. Dionne tells the tale. If you go look at the website of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the outfit on whose behalf Delay wrote the letter he's now apologizing for, it looks more like a hate site than a responsible business lobbying organization. There's some really nasty stuff there.
Here's a new spin on "my grandpa can lick your grandpa." Some 16 million men can probably claim descent from Genghis Khan.
"Long, long ago, in a previous century, when the Internet was young, people discovered both the power and danger of mass e-mail." That's from the NYT Magazine this weekend; if you want to know the how and why of spam, it's informative.
Also, there's a new product rollout taking place at Batty's; go look.
I certainly had a couple of weird dreams last night. The more ego-gratifying of the two took place on what looked like a giant dinner barge of some sort, with a grand promenade deck. It had multiple levels with three or four steps between them, and an admissions desk of some sort at the front. It was some sort of a testimonial dinner, and I was the guest of honor. There were people attending whose names and faces I haven't thought of since about 1968, and there was much glad-handing and rejoicing. Go figure. Of course, maybe it was a premonition of death, and that was the reception to be expected at the gates of heaven (or hell, given what I recall of some of those people in attendance). Since I'm not fully recovered from the crawling crud, I suppose that argument has some merit.
The second dream was much shorter and weirder. I was standing next to the sliding glass door between the outdoors and the playroom, and looking back towards the middle of the house I saw the 40-pound Tigger-beast enter the interior wall and emerge outdoors on the other side. Immediately subsequent to this, a cat which looked exactly the same as one we'd given away in 1968 did the same thing. Anybody know a dream analyst?
Oh, and remember when I transcribed all the artist/title info on those vinyl albums into a spreadsheet? The result can be found here. Hold the laughter; look upon this list as an archaeologist would. "Ah," the archaeologist says, "we've gotten down to the late 1960s-early 1970s era now. Hmm. From the quantity, I deduce that this was a profligate society, of less than fully discriminating taste." "Save the editorializing for the scientific journals," says the second archaeologist. "What I find interesting is the quantity of petrochemicals used in producing this material." And so on...fill in the remainder of the conversation yourself.
Hoo boy. If you thought Patriot Act I was an infringement on civil liberties, take a look at excerpts from Patriot II. Dump poison into rivers? Well, you don't have to tell the public about it, because that could be a "roadmap for terrorists." Ever correspond with a group later deemed a "terrorist organization?" Lose your citizenship. (Note: if the Center for Public Integrity site is hard to access, try PBS' Now program. You can download either low or high-res PDF files there). The WashPost has picked up the story, too.
I swear I'm not trying to find these male-oriented stories, but they keep showing up on the radar. Whirlpool is not just your father's washing machine company anymore; meet Gladiator! Just the thing for your garage! And in the final paragraph you'll find a treat for football fans, too; an all-in-one tailgate system! Woo-hoo!
If you want to find Edgar Allan Poe's works online, go directly to the Edgar Allan Poe Society. John of Linkworthy mentioned the heightened senses of the protagonist in The Telltale Heart, and I went looking for e-texts of Poe, because it's far easier to find those than my copy of Poe's Collected Tales on these shelves. (Oh, in case you've forgotten, he's got really sensitive hearing).
Bush and secrecy. There's nothing new here, but it serves as a reminder notice to those who may have forgotten. More secrecy: the GAO (henceforth known as Congressional Rollover Office) has decided not to appeal its case against Cheney and his Energy Task Force. In current psychotherapy jargon, this makes the GAO an "enabler."
What is it with the Republican party? In December it was Trent Lott speaking wistfully of what might have been if that good ole boy Strom had won in '48; today it's Rep. Howard Coble of N.C. speaking approvingly of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War 2. I grant you The Guardian is a pretty lefty newspaper, but I don't think it would risk libel by printing something which it couldn't corroborate.
If you're a frequent online buyer, you may get a surprise shortly; some of the biggest e-tailers are beginning to charge sales tax. The PR is amusing;
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Cynthia Lin said that voluntarily collecting online sales taxes was the right thing to do. "Many states are struggling with tax revenue shortages that affect funding for everything from schools to fire and rescue. This is our effort to help customers and the states they live in," she said.
I get a serious cold about once every three years, and apparently it's here. I really didn't want to go downtown with Mom to see a neurologist at 8:00am today; I wanted to stay under the covers. Oh well.
Here's a verbal memory test the doc gave us. Remember these five things:
Now fill out a four-page form, and at the end of it write down those five things. Mom got two correct, I got four.
There's yet another distributed computing project like SETI; this time it's screensavers for smallpox.
You may have heard of the Library of Congress's new archiving project called the National Recording Registry. The 2002 list of additions has just been released. As with all these lists, you may have your own view of whether these were the right choices; two of them are baseball-related (Casey at the Bat and Who's On First).
Is the Bush budget Reagan re-hashed? Some say no; it goes far beyond what Reagan tried to do.
If you're interested in whether your particular ox got gored in the process, here are two looks, department-by-department. One of those oxen, Medicaid, seems to be a particular target of Mr. Bush's ire: "many poor people, including some in nursing homes, will no longer be guaranteed benefits." Dammit, man, get off that IV and go to work!
For links to the thing in all its stultifying splendor(?), visit the White House OMB.
Senator Bill Bradley has some questions he thinks went unanswered in the SOTU. One finds other unanswered questions in the new budget released today; no projection for an Iraq war is included, and oh, social program costs will be flat. Given that health care costs seem to be going up at nearly double-digit rates, that seems like willful ignorance or deliberate obfuscation.
Oh, my word. The Middle Earth mail scam.
And finally, if you want a synopsis of what happened with the Bloggies this year, I suggest you read this. It reads accurate, anyway.
To: the reasonably well-dressed twenty-something with the $30 backpack who accosted me today asking for "a few dollars"
A. Just because I'm reaching into my wallet to get cash out to make a purchase doesn't mean I intended to offer it to you.
B. Appearances count, part 1. With cigarettes at $5 a pack, you shouldn't be smoking when begging. It causes the beggee to doubt whether you are really destitute.
C. Appearances count, part 2. Read this story to learn the finer points of dressing while panhandling.
D. Don't stand on a sidewalk begging 30 yards from a dry cleaning establishment with a Help Wanted sign in the window. It causes the beggee to immediately think of the phrase "get a job."
Official NASA site. Links to NASA TV. Probably very hard to access.
In addition to the seven members of the crew, there are three people on board the International Space Station. The shuttle is the primary but not the only source of supplies to the ISS as well as the primary means of getting those astronauts down from there.