July 31, 2003

Little help here!

Go Read This. Then comment on it. Lee is much too valuable to let disappear into the non-blogging cosmos. She's been a big help to me in my MT setups, and I'm selfish. I like having her online thoughts available, and I just like her in general.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:58 AM | Comments (4)

Political briefs

Gary Hart has some thoughts on the declining amount of civility to be found in American politics. It's a short and thought-provoking read.

Tom Daschle (that's Satan, to the Limbaugh followers) intends to blog his annual road trip around South Dakota.

The Associated Press is reporting that Adm. Poindexter plans to resign from his job at DARPA, following the terrorism futures market fiasco. I'm of two minds: glad he's gone, but worried about who replaces him. If the Administration picks some very low-profile type, will the TIA project continue to have the kind of scrutiny it drew because of Poindexter's notoriety?

The drug lobby's activities trying to block the drug importation bill have annoyed one of the people who works in the pharmaceutical trenches.

I've said it before: the "unsafe drugs" argument is a loser. It smells, and the smell clings to people who take it seriously (or pretend to.) There are real arguments against drug reimportation, arguments that thinking adults have a reasonable chance of understanding and sympathizing with. But we can't make them while we're pretending that antihistamines from Edmonton are going to poison everyone, now can we?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2003


Last VW Bug Produced

Who's got bug stories? The first one I ever drove was a 1962 convertible, with that wraparound rear view mirror at the top of the windshield. I was 18. It was my uncle's car, and it was the first stick shift car I'd ever driven. I thought it was great. Tooling around Phoenix in 100-degree heat with the top down and my hair in my eyes? Ah, youth.

A couple of years later my roommate bought a brand-new bright yellow 1969 bug; it had that semi-automatic transmission (bad) and an eight-track (good). That car led me to my first brush with the law: he inadvertently let the registration lapse and we got stopped while I was driving it. We ended up in court, and the judge gave us dumb college kids a "continuance," since it was late May or early June and we were each headed to our respective homes for the summer. Not knowing squat, we misinterpreted "continuance" as "inform us when you renew the registration." We didn't show up for the court date. About two months after that, a cop appeared at our door at a very early hour with a summons to appear before a judge. Still not knowing squat, we were terrified; fortunately, we got there and the judge asked him to show proof of registration (this was long before no-fault insurance was required, or I'm sure he'd have to have shown proof of that as well); once the judge was satisfied the car was duly registered, he told us to go and sin no more.

Your turn.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:01 PM | Comments (7)

July 29, 2003

Caution: Roadblocks ahead

I used to be lukewarm towards term limits for legislators; California may be the primary example why I didn't support the idea more strongly (reg. req.--try bselig for login). Its example (and, more egregiously, Texas) is also why I think there needs to be a system of independent non-partisan commissions to redistrict.

Oh lovely. The Administration wants to avoid paying a damage award to former Gulf War prisoners that they sued the former Iraqi government to get. Its argument? The money is needed to pay current Iraq rebuilding costs. See TalkLeft for more details.

Here's a nice discussion with links about the Administration's propensity to believe what it wants to believe about science; what it currently wants to believe is that global warming needs more study, the current amount of stem-cell lines available for research is sufficient, and cutting down forests is the best way to promote biodiversity and prevent fire.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2003

Rock family trees

The comments about the Sunday music selection prompted me to go looking for a poster showing the progression of members of the Byrds and other bands which led to Crosby Stills Nash and Young and beyond. Unfortunately, the one I remember is nowhere to be found on the web (at least under the ten or so search terms I tried), but this one ain't bad. It starts in about 1962. Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby began in a band called The Beefeaters, and at the same time Graham Nash, Allen Clarke and Tony Ricks formed the Hollies, with others. In 1966 Buffalo Springfield began its all-too-short existence with Steve Stills, Richie Furay, Neil Young, Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer. Click the link to see what happened after that. Think Byrds, CSN, Eagles, Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco, Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, and Manassas. Oh, yeah, Loggins and Messina (Messina played in Springfield) and the Gram Parsons Project too. (Note: that link is evidently scanned from Pete Frame's Complete Rock Family Trees, which is out of print. That's too bad; it looks like another good bar bet book).

Addendum: granted the link is from a Japanese website, but with all the music those people put out, wouldn't you think the site-owner would have put a recognizable song on when the page is opened?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:44 PM | Comments (6)

Monday miscellany

If you're not ready to take the plunge for a full-on digital camera, either because you're not feeling wealthy (that's me) or you don't take enough photos to think it's worthwhile (that fits me too), Ritz Camera is offering a disposable digital camera. Walgreens and Walt Disney World are soon to follow. It's got no USB connection and no LCD image screen, but you can get prints back in 15 minutes, and you get a photo-CD.

Could this be the way it will be on NFL Countdown on ESPN this year?

My brush with history, Bob Hope edition: In 1969 Hope toured Berlin, Italy, Turkey, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, and Guam. Accompanying him were Neil Armstrong, Connie Stevens, Romy Schneider, The Golddiggers, Teresa Graves, Suzanne Charny, Eve Reuber-Staier, Les Brown, and Hector and Ted Pierro. I don't remember seeing the show, but I was on Guam at the time. Maybe I was in classes at the University that day? Dunno. At any rate, rest in peace, Bob. Here's the USA Today obituary, with a whole slew of links, both audio and video.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:00 PM | Comments (2)

July 27, 2003

Sunday afternoon music selection

There's a break between NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and the start of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, so I think I'll start picking an album from my collection to listen to during that hour. This week's selection: Hollies Sing Dylan (that's the import; the American release was called "Words and Music by Bob Dylan"). This was apparently not well received at the time (1969), and if you believe the reviewers, it may have been the album that drove Graham Nash out of the group. I don't know how true that is, but if so, it was good for CSN fans, but not so good for the Hollies. I think it's a collection of dynamite interpretations. The tracks include: "The Times They Are A-Changin'," "I Shall Be Released," and "Just Like A Woman."

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:48 PM | Comments (7)

July 26, 2003

Blog for charity


Today is Blogathon III. There are (at least) three folks over there on the blogroll who are participating: Michele, Cooties, and Faith. While I can't participate, I can applaud them and all the others. There are a lot of worthwhile charities being supported, so pick one or more and please help if you can.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2003

Friday folderol

If this technique were applied to garage bands, would they no longer be allowed to call themselves that?

Next time you bite into a lobster, take note of the rubber bands on the claws. One of them may have a URL written on it. The idea is to have the diner report where the lobster was consumed, in order to show the lobstermen where their catch went, and also to show the consumer where the crustacean came from. Taking this the next logical step, can we expect URLs in that FDA blue ink reproduced on the fat on NY strip steaks? (Just kidding, folks, just kidding!)

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:42 AM | Comments (5)

Planning and Pryor

Goodness. The Post has studied the planning for post-war Iraq and finds it wanting, to say the least. So does USA Today.

If you think Alabama A-G Bill Pryor (whose nomination for the 11th Circuit Court just made it out of the Judiciary Committee on a straight party line vote, with charges of anti-Catholicism being thrown around) isn't a radical judicial activist, go read these posts, all written by an attorney who has met the man in court. He's got citations, copies of briefs, and other material.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2003


It is with mingled pride and shame that I announce that this blog has been acquired by the evil munificent FanapCo. Note that I held out for a long time, and was in fact the last in a long string of takeovers. The offer was simply too good to refuse.

Longtime readers should notice no change in content, despite FanapCo's edict (see comments) that I shall blog nothing but the glories of FanapCo and Tex-Mex cuisine.

As noted above, in defiance, here's one for all the code geeks out there: Darwinian poetry. Huh? Well, it's "a program that allows a poem to evolve, to see if people with diverse tastes in poetry can work together to create attractive verse." Start out with 30,000 words and fit them into a four-line stanza, each containing five words.

Those of us who are coffee-drinkers will be pleased to hear that three cups a day appears to reduce the incidence of liver cirrhosis, according to a Norwegian study of some 51,306 people.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2003

No, really, it's true!

The Dalton Gang at Coffeyville

Did anyone else have a memory of this photo when hearing about photos of Uday and Qusay Hussein being distributed as evidence of their deaths? (Photo from Coffeyville, KS official pages.)

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:33 AM | Comments (7)

July 22, 2003


Over there on the right I added a link to my Gallery. It's pretty empty, since I don't own a digital camera (yet), but I'm working on it. I need to get a CD-RW installed in this machine so I can upload pictures from film after it's developed and digitized; the last time I did that Kodak didn't even give me a diskette option.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:24 PM | Comments (6)

Database news

The Senate eliminated funding for Total Information Awareness. Now it comes down to negotiations with the House.

Google has updated its news feature to allow searches by date, location, exact phrases or publication. It's called Advanced News Search, and I can see a use for it immediately. Suppose you see a reference to "an (insert publication name here) article" but have no idea when it appeared; the original news search only allowed you to look by date, so this is a big improvement.

More bar bet fodder, if you take your wireless laptop into a bar: Amazon is working with publishers to allow text searches of non-fiction books. I can hear it now: "It was FDR!" "Nah, that was Gladstone!" "Wanna bet?"

How pervasive is high-speed internet access in hotels? This article gives a heads-up. The answer seems to be: if you believe the marketing, it's everywhere; if you listen to the surveys of business travelers, it's not. The neatest nugget in the story? A list of Internet-friendly hotels, at Geektools. It's sorted by country, and you can submit your own findings to the provider.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:03 AM | Comments (4)

Drugs and dentists

Medicare as metaphor? Can the differences between conservatives and liberals be resolved? The article argues that there's no such thing as a win-win solution in this argument and that it's the primary battlefield between the big government/small government forces in Congress.

The current House and Senate bills differ a lot, including who's eligible for drugs and who pays, pitting the below-poverty line people against those marginally above it.

In an interesting twist, despite the House Republican leadership's distaste, apparently many of their subjects are leaning toward voting to allow the cross-border importation of drugs. Of course, this hasn't pleased the drug manufacturers at all, and they are huffing and puffing and spending on ad campaigns, so we'll see. Another part of this is that Rev. Louis Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition has been advocating against the bill, on the grounds that it might make RU-486 "as easy to get as aspirin." That tactic, however, appears to have backfired; several of the most conservative members of the House support the bill, oppose abortion, and call the TVC's issue "bogus." That may be the first time in recorded history I've ever agreed with Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, by the way.

For something slightly different: if you need a root canal, talk to your dentist about sealing off the offending nerves. It's an underutilized procedure, and apparently much cheaper and less painful.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

July 21, 2003

Human rights and wrongs

Remember that internal Inspector General's report from the Dept. of Justice a few weeks back that accused the department of serious civil rights violations against immigrants? Well, now comes another one. The charges are levied against the Bureau of Prisons, the FBI, DEA, and INS (again); they include such behavior as beatings of prisoners and even a case of threats of execution from a doctor. You know, I used to wonder how guards in totalitarian regimes could behave so inhumanely towards their prisoners, and I thought that democracies wouldn't do such things. It's beginning to look like I was either wrong or hopelessly naive.

Reconsidering Aussie and Brit detainee military trials looks good to the citizens of Oz and the UK, no doubt, but I suspect Al-Jazeera will be playing up this decision as yet another example of "the West" attacking Islam. An Administration so conscious of its image might want to rethink the tribunal idea for all detainees.

In family planning news, the House once again has ignored the Administration's own findings and refused to pass a bill funding UNFPA. The anti-abortion crowd in the House doesn't seem to understand that by refusing to fund the UN's efforts it only increases the likelihood of abortion and/or the death of both mother and child; ideology and vote-pandering have once again overtaken sense and pragmatism. If you'd like to contribute to UNFPA, click the "34 million friends" button over in the right sidebar.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2003

Geeky fun

In case you are unaware, Jon and Batty are on a road trip to San Diego. That in itself is unremarkable, but Jon, being the self-confessed über-geek that he is, is updating the map via GPS and his cell phone. It's a hoot.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:36 AM | Comments (3)

July 19, 2003

Bar bets and Pell Grants

The soon-to-be executive editor of The American Prospect has a theory that a goal of the right wing has been the politicization of American life. He cites faith (God-fearing Christians), love of country (dissent equates to a lack of it), geography (Northeastern elites), and now sports, as exemplified by ESPN's hiring of Rush Limbaugh for its NFL pre-game show. It's an interesting idea; he may be mistaking the symptoms for the disease, but it ought to be good for an argument in a bar.

Leave no child behind, huh? Except for the 84,000 or so who won't get Pell grants any more, or the thousands of others who will have their grants reduced under a new formula. The Administration argues that the pool of money will rise, conveniently forgetting to mention that it will be spread more thinly as the number of students rises.

I don't have a dog in that fight, by the way; I paid my way through my last two years of college with savings and a job as a work-study student. But it seems to me that these days the college degree is nearly as much a requirement for a good middle-class life as a high school diploma was 50 years ago, and limiting the number of people who can get financial aid, particularly when state college tuitions are rising and state aid is falling, in essence shuts the door to some low-income kids and their families. Given the targeted tax cuts we've seen, that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:36 AM | Comments (1)

July 18, 2003

Delusions of grandeur

The LA Times (reg. required--use bselig for both userid and password) has the most comprehensive story I've yet seen on Administration post-war planning. The final paragraphs offer this chilling remark:

"We're going to get better over time," promised Lawrence Di Rita, a special assistant to Rumsfeld. "We've always thought of post-hostilities as a phase" distinct from combat, he said. "The future of war is that these things are going to be much more of a continuum.

"This is the future for the world we're in at the moment," he said. "We'll get better as we do it more often."

As we do it more often? Who do they think they are? Napoleon? Alexander the Great? As a nun in "Bells of St. Mary's" might have said: "Saints preserve us!"

John Dean (yes, that John Dean) thinks a special prosecutor is required. My caveat is: yeah, right. Special prosecutors must be appointed by the President.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:26 AM | Comments (2)

'Net bits

The dark side of having your fridge connected to the web:

"and we're going to need something like 100 IP addresses for each human being."

I've been getting timeout errors when pinging Weblogs; my MT activity log is growing exponentially. I had no idea why, but this explains all. In essence, Weblogs gets pinged and sends a confirmation back to MT, but if MT doesn't receive the confirmation within its expected time frame it gives you the timeout error. The solution is to add or modify the time parameter within one of the MT files.

In other internet news, the Brits are being advised to make e-government semi-compulsory for the computer literate, in hopes of freeing up personnel to serve the non-geeks. One hopes they do a better job than the current inhabitants of the White House, which has just implemented a new e-mail system which requires (wait for it) up to nine Web pages before your message can be sent. Oh, and did I mention you have to specify whether you agree with Administration policy or not?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

July 17, 2003

Dialing for dollars

Here's a look at the nuts and bolts of the Bush fundraising machine. If you look at the Pioneers and Rangers, the phrase cui bono comes to mind.

More possible sleaziness: An association of Republican Attorneys General routinely solicited contributions from companies they might later be required to prosecute for things like product liability. Bush's nomination of Alabama AG William Pryor is likely to be delayed because of this; Pryor said he had no connection to fundraising, but a whistleblower has come forward and shown documents intimating otherwise. The vote is being delayed.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2003

Analyze this

The former intelligence guys referenced below have written an open letter to President Bush suggesting that 1) Cheney resign; 2) General Brent Scowcroft (former Nat'l. Security Adviser to George Herbert Walker Bush) head up an independent commission to investigate the use/misuse of intelligence in the decision to go to war in Iraq; and 3) UN inspectors be immediately allowed to enter Iraq to continue their work.

I doubt that the President will take their advice, but it's interesting to see how angry the intelligence pros are. Ray McGovern is a member of the group's steering committee; on NPR yesterday he said the group now had more than 30 high-level former intelligence analysts as members; they formerly worked at State, the CIA, and the FBI.

And now the current intelligence folks are getting into the act: the Administration seems to want to say Syria is doing terrible things, and the CIA has objected.

Congressman Ron Paul's speech thoroughly blasted the neo-cons on the floor of the House July 10, 2003. He's coming at them from the libertarian point of view, but as far as I know this is the first full frontal assault on the group by a member of Congress.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:28 PM | Comments (2)

July 15, 2003

Baseball and blogging

The Christian Science Monitor has an All Star Game story about a couple of new museum exhibits:

Dressed to the Nines is the Hall of Fame's authoritative account of 150 years of baseball fashion. All the weird and wonderful uniforms you'd ever want to see (remember the White Sox in their black shorts?).

The other exhibit is at the Library of Congress; it's a display of Baseball Cards from 1887-1914.

Here's an idea: British MPs are encouraged to blog by a group so large the organizers have had to hire a bigger hall.

Another new use for blogs: a Virtual Book Tour. The concept is to have authors whose publishers have limited marketing budgets guest-blog for a day. The site-owner gets a copy of the book and has to review or excerpt it. Hmm.

Oh, if you're a baseball fan and wonder if your favorite team has somebody blogging about it, go look at Baseball Musings; David Pinto has an entertaining take on the game (be sure to read the pun-filled correspondence about sausage-gate), and his sidebar is about as comprehensive as you can get.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:38 AM | Comments (4)

July 14, 2003

The Know-Nothings redux

Congress wants to pick and choose the projects NIH researches?

Toomey's amendment would have instructed NIH to shut off and redirect funds for four sexual behavior studies: a study on San Francisco's Asian prostitutes and masseuses, a study of sexual habits of older men, a study on mood arousal and sexual risk taking, and a study on American Indian and Alaskan transgendered individuals. The four grants total around $1.5 million in FY 2004.

Ok, those sound, um, off-the wall. Consider this, however:

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), ranking democrat on the appropriations committee, recalled how years ago his former democratic colleague, Sen. William Proxmire, created the "Golden Fleece Awards" to ridicule scientific research studies that appeared to be worthless wastes of government funding. "One year he made a whole lot of fun of a study on Polish pigs. They had a field day with it—funny name, strange-sounding grant. Well, guess what? That study led to the development of a new blood pressure medicine which millions of people use today," Obey said.

"The one thing I came to understand very quickly is that the day that we politicize NIH research… is the day we will ruin science research in this country. We have no business making political judgments about those kinds of issues," he said.

Be sure to read the Golden Fleece link; it's quite a history of the awards, including lawsuits, stupid science, and equally stupid Senatorial tricks.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:34 PM | Comments (3)

July 13, 2003

We don't need no stinkin' hearing

If you're hoping that Congress will thoroughly investigate the Niger yellowcake "misstatement," have another think.

Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years, serving seven Presidents. He's on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which has been arguing that CIA has been politicized in this Administration. He's interviewed by Will Pitt of truthout.

All I’m saying is that you’ve got Porter Goss on the House side, you’ve got Pat Roberts on the Senate side, you’ve got John Warner who’s a piece with Pat Roberts. I’m very reluctant to be so unequivocal, but in this case I can say nothing is going to come out of those hearings but a lot of smoke.


It seems to me that you can have endless arguments about the correct interpretation of this or that piece of intelligence, or intelligence analysis, but a forgery is a forgery. It’s demonstrable that senior officials of this government, including the Vice President, knew that it was a forgery in March of last year. It was used anyway to deceive our Congressmen and Senators into voting for an unprovoked war. That seems to me to be something that needs to be borne in mind, that needs to be held up for everyone to see. If an informed public, and by extension an informed Congress, is the necessary bedrock for democracy, then we’ve got a split bedrock that is in bad need of repair.

I have done a good bit of research here, and one of the conclusions I have come to is that Vice President Cheney was not only interested in “helping out” with the analysis, let us say, that CIA was producing on Iraq. He was interested also in fashioning evidence that he could use as proof that, as he said, “The Iraqis had reconstituted their nuclear program,” which demonstrably they had not.

What I’m saying is that this needs to be investigated. We know that it was Dick Cheney who sent the former US ambassador to Niger to investigate. We know he was told in early March of last year that the documents were forgeries. And yet these same documents were used in that application. That is something that needs to be uncovered. We need to pursue why the Vice President allowed that to happen. To have global reporters like Walter Pincus quoting senior administration officials that Vice President Cheney was not told by CIA about the findings of this former US ambassador strains credulity well beyond the breaking point. Cheney commissioned this trip, and when the fellow came back, he said, “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know what happened.” That’s just ridiculous. (My emphasis)

Now, we know that the 9/11 Commission is being stonewalled; is there any reason to believe that any hearing headed by Roberts, Goss, and Warner might not even need to be stonewalled, if McGovern is to be believed?

Read the entire interview. It's enlightening, horrifying and historically fascinating. Link via CalPundit.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (4)

July 12, 2003


If you're into the Tour de France, VeloNews has riders blogging it. (Well, they don't call it blogging; they're daily diaries. Ok by me.)

Updated: Oskar in comments points to a wonderful source of Tour information including blogs/tour diaries and much more.

They just don't make television mysteries like they used to. This episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents has been in our family memory forever, for reasons I don't understand. Sheer quirkiness, I suppose.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:41 PM | Comments (4)

July 11, 2003

Yassuh, Master Delay

Let there be no doubt whose side the House is on: individual states' securities regulators' right to initiate action against financial impropriety would be outlawed if this bill gets through. At the same time, overtime eligibility would be drastically limited if the Senate goes along with this one. The thing that boggles my mind about these actions is how willing individual House Republicans are to follow their leadership mindlessly; they have to know that many of their own constituents may well be hurt by passage of this kind of stuff.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2003

Let them eat cake

Remember the low-income tax credits the House Republicans don't want to give to people who need it? The ones which would probably stimulate the economy, since people who are broke spend money, while people who are wealthy save it?

Both the House and Senate have passed bills to extend the credits to the low-income families, but many senators have said they cannot accept the extra tax cuts in the House version, which would add about $82 billion to the deficit in the next decade. Thus, the two bills have stalled; a conference committee supposed to work out the differences has never met.

Some of you may recall that Tucker Carlson of "Crossfire" said that if Hillary Clinton's book sold a million copies, he'd eat his shoes. Well, it has. She showed up on the set of the program yesterday with a cake in the shape of a shoe. That's amusing, but what really caught my eye was the list of suggested topics the reader might want to follow using the Times' subscription news tracker service (you suggest topics; it will send you an e-mail with links to stories pertaining to those topics). The list included Senator Clinton, Books and Literature, Simon and Schuster (the publisher), and...Bakeries and Baked Products.

My first Liberian scam letter arrived today.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

Science News

A robot in Australia is controlled by a Petri dish full of brain cells in Atlanta. The thing draws pictures; the description of them equates the quality to that of a three-year-old, or maybe early cubism.

Remember the microdots spies used in all those Cold War espionage novels? The technology has been updated: now DNA has been encoded into the pages of a book for easier transmission. (OK, OK, it's just an experiment.)

If you haven't a cubicle to call your own, new software which allows you to log on with laughter might be for you.

The giant Chilean blob is being carved up for DNA samples. Note that these samples are apparently not being transmitted in books (see above). The Center for Cetacean Conservation is not in that loop, I guess. (Or maybe the DNA doesn't translate into Spanish, which is the language of the CCC.)

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (5)

July 09, 2003

Got any 409?

Now really. Can you see the mess this would create if you cooked a burger on it?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:17 PM | Comments (1)


Argh. I understand the need for specialization in city services sometimes, but...yesterday, three weeks after I replaced it, I put an old air conditioner out for pickup; it seemed logical to put out a couple of other "bulky" items for removal as well. Nope. Yesterday was apparently "freon-device only" day. I have to call to make an appointment (!?!) to have my other bits of lawn furniture taken away. None of the charitable organizations wants this stuff, they tell me, so unless somebody wants to import a bunch of tubular aluminum and vinyl strapping for their own art, I have to have it hauled off to the landfill. Any takers?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:53 AM | Comments (3)

July 08, 2003

Pry, pry, pry

There stands the Administration, like a stone wall! Yup, that's a good representation of this behavior. The 9/11 Commission continues to have all sorts of trouble getting copies of documents out of the Administration, and it's got a deadline. What embarrassing facts might be revealed that so concern all the President's men?

One area where the wall may be breached is the Energy Task Force (remember the Energy Task Force?) An appeals court ruled today that "sufficient safeguards were already in place to prevent the disclosure of genuinely privileged information." That may lead to more disclosure of just who it was that met with the Vice-President to write that business-friendly energy plan.

In an effort to get more public information collated in one place, a new website called Government Information Awareness has been launched. Here's a related story.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

Dangerous days

Keep your hand on your wallet, your parents and your children. Headlines from the NYT Politics section today include:

Bush Seeks Big Changes in Head Start. He wants to set up a pilot program turning responsibility for Head Start over to states; it's warmed-over block grants with academic accountability (for three-year-olds).

White House Seeks Revised Pension Rules. Basically it wants to change the interest rate companies have to use when calculating their pension liabilities; that would improve the corporate balance sheet.

Plans Improve Federal Workers' Drug Benefits. I especially like the sub-head on that one: "The House is expected to pass legislation ensuring that federal employees will have benefits better than those available through Medicare when they retire." Seems to me that Mr. Bush has been trying to sell his proposal by saying all Medicare recipients should receive care equal to that of federal employees; it's nice to know the House Republicans want to be sure that won't happen.

The G.O.P. Still Pushes Forward on Malpractice Cap Bill. That sub-head ain't bad either: "Republicans concede that the malpractice legislation, which would cap jury awards for pain and suffering at $250,000, is headed for defeat." But hey! It makes us look good to our corporate contributors!

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:54 AM | Comments (4)

July 07, 2003

Book recommendation

This is free ground. All the way from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow. No man born to royalty. Here we judge you by what you do, not by what your father was. Here you can be something. Here's a place to build a home. It isn't the land--there's always more land. It's the idea that we all have value, you and me, we're worth something more than the dirt. I never saw dirt I'd die for, but I'm not asking you to come join us and fight for dirt. What we're all fighting for, in the end, is each other.

Who? What? It's from chapter 2 of The Killer Angels. The speaker is Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Regiment of Infantry, Maine Volunteers. He's speaking to a bunch of mutineers from Second Maine on the day he gets orders to move towards Gettysburg, June 29, 1863.

I'm not ordinarily a big fan of historical fiction, but this Pulitzer-prize winner is easily the best I've ever read. Sadly, Michael Shaara died after writing this marvelous book. His son Jeff carried on and wrote two more books to complete a trilogy about the people and the battle. Michael's book was the basis for the movie Gettysburg. If you're in need of a post-Harry Potter, post-Independence Day book with depth and great characters, this is a great choice.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:20 PM | Comments (5)

Science and spies

I'm not selling subscriptions to it, but the July/August issue of the Washington Monthly has a couple of really good articles: one called Science Friction argues (as I have) that the Administration is putting politics and ideology ahead of scientific fact; another (authored by Josh Marshall) called Counterintelligent makes the case that politics has interfered with reforming the FBI to preclude future cases like Ames, Hansen and the current Leung fiasco.

I don't recall that magazine being around when I lived there back in '06 the 1960s; it seems to go a little beyond the normal "city" magazine's focus on the best restaurants, gardens, and little-known "secrets" of the metropolis.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2003


Senator Gary Hart has posted some of his thoughts about patriotism and its hijacking by some of the more right-wing Republicans.

What is required is for the vast majority of Americans not swept up in this fundamentalist narrow-mindedness to assert their own patriotism, one intelligent enough to acknowledge the right to dissent, to question authority, and to challenge dogmatic right-wingers who have no more right to the flag than anyone else.
He asks (in an obvious reference to Ann Coulter and her new book), "Are you prepared to have some dumb-bell judge your patriotism or accuse you of treason? I’m not."

I've been trying to say the same thing here for a while, but I haven't been able to come up with the right language; he does. Recommended reading, I calls it.

Updated: Frank Rich has similar thoughts on the subject.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:23 AM | Comments (1)

July 05, 2003

The glorious Fourth

Here's a fun Independence Day fact: Ben Franklin is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. From the citation:

Benjamin Franklin was a competent swim coach and teacher; he advised on water safety, lifeboat rescue escape from shipwrecks, and the advisability of universal learn-to-swim classes. One of United States first "ornamental swimmers", on a Thames River excursion in 1726, he swam from Chelsea to Blackfriars (3½ miles) "performing on the way many feats of activity, both upon and under water, that surprised and pleased those to whom they were novelties".

He invented the swim fin; his version was worn on the hands. You never thought Ben Franklin and Jacques Cousteau could sensibly be mentioned in the same sentence as diving innovators, did you?

I was terribly disappointed in CBS's one-hour presentation of the Boston Pops last night. The "finale" was long on fireworks and short on live music; what in the world were they thinking? No "1812 Overture" with cannon? That's been a tradition for years and years! Fie upon you, CBS! Bring back A&E!

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:22 AM | Comments (7)

July 04, 2003

"We hold these truths..."

click to enlarge
Note: The image above is the way the Declaration appeared after being typeset by John Dunlap, printer to Congress. It was in this form when sent to the colonies.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 PM | Comments (7)

July 03, 2003

Bill of Rights (and Wrongs)

What the hack? This weekend there may be a hacker's contest to take down web sites. "The contest is scheduled to take place on Sunday 6 July, says US company Internet Security Systems (ISS), with points being awarded for each individual web site that is defaced."

...during contests of this type groups will sometimes try to block competitors' access to key network resources, which can have a knock-on impact on ordinary internet users. An alert issued [by] ISS's X-Force research team says: "Due to the large scope of the contest, normal internet activity could be disrupted."
Here's additional info. It appears to be aimed at commercial websites, but individual sites could be "bycatch," to borrow a fishing term. Back up!

First Amendment news: Bloggers gain libel protection. That's nice to know, huh? "Here, the court basically said that when it comes to Internet publication, you can edit, pick and choose, and still be protected," said Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The Freedom Foundation announced that a new online research source for First Amendment issues has been launched. One of the most useful areas of the First Amendment Center will probably be a massive library of some 1300 Supreme Court cases that relate to the First Amendment.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2003

I Ain't No Snob, but...

This is not good. I just got back from my neighborhood Waldenbooks, where I was looking for the July issue of The National Review. I wanted to read this article, which purports to be a fairly definitive chronological history of the decision to use WMDs as the pretext for going to war with Iraq. It pulls together a lot of previously-dispersed information into one place, and indicts Rice and Cheney in particular for outright deception.

However. In 25-30 linear feet of space allocated for magazines at the store, I couldn't find a copy of the magazine. Not only that, I could find only two general-interest magazines (no, not Time, Newsweek, or US News): Harpers and Atlantic Monthly. Now, I've got nothing against hobbyists and their reading material, nor do I have anything against men or women, but when the floor-to-ceiling shelf space is taken up entirely with women's fashion magazines like Elle, Vogue, and Cosmo, and with men's (lad's?) magazines like FHM and Maxim, and with every damned craft/auto/bodybuilding/health magazine currently still in existence during the current ad slump, there's something mildly disturbing going on. I asked if they ordinarily carried magazines like The New Yorker; I was told that the space dictated what they carried. The unspoken fact is that they also carry what they expect to sell, of course; I can only hope my neighbors all subscribe to the newsier publications.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:18 PM | Comments (7)

Harried skies

Quel horreur! France's best-seller list has been topped for the first time by a book in English! No surprise; it's the latest Harry Potter novel.

More lies and obfuscation: EPA has withheld "key findings of its analysis showing that a Senate plan to combat air pollution would be more effective in reducing harmful pollutants -- and only marginally more expensive -- than would President Bush's Clear Skies initiative for power plant emissions."

They never stop trying, do they?

Then there's this bit of corporate kowtowing:

As PC makers prepare a new generation of desktop computers with built-in hardware controls to protect data and digital entertainment from illegal copying, the industry is also promising to keep information safe from tampering and help users avoid troublemakers in cyberspace. (My emphasis)

Can you say sellout to Hollywood and the RIAA?

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:17 AM | Comments (2)

July 01, 2003


If you buy one of these, be prepared to be surprised when moving things into it. I learned that I have several varieties of pliers, vise grips, tin snips, planes, files, rasps, and probably 50 socket and crescent wrenches. I can only surmise that some of these tools have been mislaid or borrowed in the past, and a need arose to have the use of one immediately. Why else own so many of the same thing? Sheesh.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:30 PM | Comments (2)