September 30, 2003

Rove in the library with the Nokia

In case anyone is wondering why I'm not yammering away about l'affaire Plame, I have nothing to add to what CalPundit, Billmon, Josh Marshall and Open Source Politics (see particularly here for many many links, including one to the author's own blog) have been saying. There are lots of others on the other side of the issue too, of course. Many of them are defending the indefensible, in my view, but that's their business. Others are honestly appalled. You can find links to them in posts by folks I've cited above.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:54 PM | Comments (1)

September 29, 2003

Driver's Ed

Today I headed out to the dentist for a routine cleaning to be done by the charming Yolanda, whose bark is thankfully much worse than her bite. (I do sometimes wonder if one of the character traits required for dental hygienists and their bosses is mild sadism, but anyway...). I missed the freeway exit. I have no idea why this happened; I suddenly realized it as I saw the next sign. "Why am I seeing a sign for University Ave.," I said. Fortunately, there are surface streets to get from where I was to where I wanted to go. (The first time I ever heard the phrase "surface streets" was in L.A. about 15 years ago; given the number of freeways there, I suppose that makes sense. It's a useful phrase, I've decided).

This reminded me of the last time I missed an exit in this distracted sort of way. I was 16, and I'd just gotten my driver's license. My dad was recovering from a hernia operation at Bethesda Naval Hospital (in those days they held you for three days before releasing you; when I had a similar operation a few years ago it was an outpatient procedure), and I was detailed to go pick him up. This involved driving around the Beltway in D.C. from the Virginia side to the Maryland side of the District, finding the correct exit, and then getting to the hospital. Damned if I didn't miss the exit, and, being the inexperienced driver that I was, I drove all the way around the Beltway to try to find it again. I was thus about two hours late getting there. Do I need to say my father was pretty angry?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:58 PM | Comments (6)

September 27, 2003

Little help, here?

If you look over there on the sidebar, you'll see a button which reads International Lyrics Playground. A couple of years ago some friends and I decided to put together the site, hoping to provide a resource for lyrics from the era in which most of us had grown up. It's been remarkably successful, currently listing nearly 19,000 songs. The site was designed and built by a guy named Ty Smith, who did the work pro bono, just as he's done the site for his local Arts Council.

Ty recently sent us a note giving us some really bad news. Here's an excerpt; the entire page can be read here.

On September 11 of this year I was diagnosed with cancer of the neck and tonsil. Medically it is known as squamous carcinoma and it is a very aggressive and devastating disease. It is treatable with radical surgery and direct beam radiation. If these are successful I should be free of the cancer in about five years. In the meantime I am going to have serious medical bills (despite insurance) and will be restricted to bed for about 10 weeks. It also means I will be unable to reach my desktop computer.

A laptop computer is the obvious answer but I had not planned on purchasing one for quite some time yet and I certainly had not planned on trying to acquire one this way or for these reasons. I have looked into borrowing and even renting one and have had no luck. I'm running out of resources and ideas. My surgery is expected to take place in the middle of October so I'm also working with a time limit. I spend an incredible amount of time with my pc and to be without one for that extended period of time will certainly not help my recovery.

So I sincerely ask you if you can help me out a little, it would be appreciated more than words could ever express. If you would feel more comfortable having any of this information verified I would be happy to point you in the right direction, feel free to email me. Please use one of the PayPal links on this page or click here if you would prefer to donate by check.

If any of you can find a few shekels to spare, please go to that page and read more, then donate whatever you can. Ty needs some help. You'd be doing all of his friends and all of the people who regularly use the lyrics site a favor.


Posted by Linkmeister at 02:40 PM | Comments (10)

September 26, 2003

Sad day for arts and sciences

R.I.P. George Plimpton. From his website:

"There are people who would perhaps call me a dilettante, because it looks as though I'm having too much fun. I have never been convinced there's anything inherently wrong in having fun."

He did a lot of things, but the one I'll remember best is his April Fool's Day story about Sidd Finch. Who wouldn't like a guy who could write a convincing story about a reclusive pitcher who threw a 168mph fastball in tryouts with the Mets? I was a Sports Illustrated subscriber even then, and the letters written by exultant fans which appeared in the magazine the following week were riotously funny.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:14 PM | Comments (6)

Other People's Money

Who's gonna help rebuild Iraq? Why, New Bridge Strategies, of course. Who might they be, you ask? Well-connected folks like Joe Allbaugh (FEMA, Bush 2), Ed Rogers (Dep. Ass't. to Bush 1), Richard Burt (Amb. to Germany, Reagan), and Lanny Griffith (Ass't. Sec'y Education, Bush 1). What's the goal?

New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Its activities will seek to expedite the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush Administration. The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C. and on the ground in Iraq. (My emphasis)

Gosh, you don't think they'll be able to get some business based on who they know, do you? After all, there are procurement policies in place to keep the contracting process honest, right? Right?

And what sort of work will get done in Iraq? I'm glad you asked.

A new curriculum for training an Iraqi army for $164 million. Five hundred experts, at $200,000 each, to investigate crimes against humanity. A witness protection program for $200,000 per Iraqi participant. A computer study for the Iraqi postal service: $54 million.


Those details include $100 million to build seven planned communities with a total of 3,258 houses, plus roads, an elementary school, two high schools, a clinic, a place of worship and a market for each; $10 million to finance 100 prison-building experts for six months, at $100,000 an expert; 40 garbage trucks at $50,000 each; $900 million to import petroleum products such as kerosene and diesel to a country with the world's second-largest oil reserves; and $20 million for a four-week business course, at $10,000 per pupil.


Some Republican aides say the numbers may be more defensible than they sound because the budget is not quite real. They suggest the administration has inflated costs, in part to avoid having to come back next year for a new emergency spending bill, and in part so they can skim some of the money for classified military efforts.

The mind boggles. Those planned communities sound to me like American compounds for all the experts, their families, and their kids. You suppose those experts come from New Bridge Strategies and its subcontractors?

Thanks to Josh Marshall and Billmon for the pointers to the article and site.

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

September 25, 2003

Al Franken was right!

Today I was picking up a prescription at my local Kaiser clinic; they had Fox News on the tube, and it was 6:00pm EST. The promo for Special Report with Brit Hume was on. Hume was telling the audience about the upcoming discussion he expected to have regarding the questions Senators have about the Administration's $87B funding request, and right behind him was a banner which read "Carping, Day 2."

From comes this definition of carping: adj. Naggingly critical or complaining.

"Fair and balanced," huh?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:30 PM | Comments (1)


Normally I don't bother linking the NYT editorials (columns, yes; editorials, no), but today they got my attention.

On Mr. Bush's admission during his interview on Fox the other night:

But it is worrisome when one of the most incurious men ever to occupy the White House takes pains to insist that he gets his information on what the world is saying only in predigested bits from his appointees.

On the idea floating around Congress to collateralize some of the $87B the Administration wants for Iraq:

It sounds more like a punitive Versailles-style approach to the vanquished, instead of the Marshall Plan for the Middle East that the White House keeps promising.

Right on both counts. It's incredible to think that the President of the United States gets his information in Reader's Digest format from people who work for him; that's a sure-fire way to get conflicting opinions. And we all know what happened to the Weimar Republic due in part to the reparations requirements laid down by the Treaty of Versailles, right?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:22 AM | Comments (4)

September 24, 2003

Space--I need my space

A few days ago I had two 3GB hard drives, each with about 1GB available. Suddenly yesterday afternoon I got an error message that told me the C drive was full. Off into defrag land I went, having to disable any and all programs (like SETI) which try to write to disk. After much time, the C drive was defragged (the D drive remains at its 1GB available space), but the thing has only 370MB available. I've run out of ideas trying to figure out what humongous thing just ate 700MB of space. Anybody know of any easy (or not so easy) way to find it?

I should note I have gotten about 35 phony e-mails with that virus I mentioned below; I deleted all of them without opening anything, and I've also run a virus scan which turned up nothing. Any thoughts?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:55 AM | Comments (6)

September 23, 2003

Fiat and Dodge

Ashcroft thinks federal judges are too lenient, so he's demanding they sentence as harshly as possible, limiting plea bargains. I get the feeling he'd just as soon have robots administering justice in this country, using his rules without discretion. For once, Chief Justice Rehnquist and I agree on something:

The effort to bind judges to the guidelines, supported by President Bush, is opposed by many jurists, among them Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who say Congress and the executive branch are trampling the independence of the judiciary.

Then there's this one: if you're looking to go to work for a non-profit outfit run by a religious organization, you'd better be a member of the same faith or you're likely out of luck. Since the Administration couldn't get Congress to sign on to this discriminatory hiring, he's done it by Executive Order, using some fairly specious reasoning, too:

"In any employment decision, there's discrimination," said Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. "Universities hire smart people."

Um, yeah, but the law says those smart people can't be discriminated against on the basis of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation. Laws appear to apply only selectively under this Administration, though, so not to worry.

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

September 22, 2003

Assignment: SacBee

The Sacramento Bee is running a four-part series this week asking whether the Patriot Act and its hoped-for successor legislation goes too far towards limiting civil liberties. The paper gives some examples:

  • Two middle-aged peace activists from San Francisco find themselves singled out by authorities as they try to board a flight to Boston for a family visit. Jan Adams and Rebecca Gordon are held and questioned for hours before being released at San Francisco International Airport because their names apparently popped up on a secret government "no fly" list.

  • A 40-year-old public defender surfing the Web on a library computer in Santa Fe, N.M., finds himself surrounded by four local police officers, then handcuffed and detained by Secret Service agents after someone apparently overhears a political debate in which he suggests that "Bush is out of control."

  • Barry Reingold, a 62-year-old retired phone company worker, gets into an intense debate at his San Francisco gym over the bombing of Afghanistan and his criticism of President Bush, and is awakened at his Oakland apartment a week later by two FBI agents who want to talk to him about his political beliefs.

Oh, and then there's this, which you might vaguely recall from May of 2002:

Acting on a tip from a detainee at the government's prison facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, agents had learned that some terrorists might have been trained in underwater attacks.


...PADI [Professional Association of Diving Instructors] turned over CD-ROMs listing 10 million Americans and their addresses -- a database the FBI apparently is still using.

This is a series I'll be going back to for the remainder of the week; if the topic concerns you, you probably should as well. (via TalkLeft)

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (6)

September 21, 2003

Songs for a Sunday

Unless you were really paying attention, you aren't going to recognize today's musical selection: Chi Coltrane. She wrote her own songs and accompanied herself on piano, but she was way beyond the average pianist. In 1972 she had a top 20 hit with her first single, "Thunder and Lightning," the first track on this album. It's an uptempo "white soul" song, but she also understood gospel ("Go Like Elijah") and classical music as well. Apparently she has an aversion to self-promotion; she's only released seven albums in 30 years, and nothing since 1986. One of the cuts on this album had a particular relevance in 1972 (Vietnam), and might even have some today; judge for yourselves. It's called "I Will Not Dance."

Did you say you're a public servant?
Well, then let me ask you why
You're keeping the public uninformed
When you're not feedin' us with lies
Listen to our founding fathers
Sit down and read the Bill of Rights
You'd better learn how to play the game by the rules
Or you're gonna have an awful fight

'Cause I will not dance to your music
And I will not drink your wine
And I will not toast to your success
Because you're no friend of mine, oh yeah you know it
You're no friend of mine

Why do you take my brother?
And why do you take my son?
Shipping them off to another land
To fight a war that can't be won
You can't say you don't know better
Because by now the truth is out
The people are all sick of following you
Because you don't know what it's all about

So I will not dance to your music
And I will not drink your wine
And I will not toast to your success
Because you're no friend of mine, oh yeah you know it
You're no friend of mine

I'm the younger generation and I love my country land
I can't stand to watch the nation fall apart
'Cause you won't understand
God help you "public servant"
When you stand before the King
When your works are shown and your lies are known
And your wasted life won't mean a thing
So pay attention to me as I sing

'Cause I will not dance to your music
And I will not drink your wine
And I will not toast to your success
Because you're no friend of mine, oh yeah you know it
You're no friend of mine.

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

September 20, 2003

Don't bother me with facts

The AIDS work of Marie Stopes (see below) as a member of the Reproductive Health for Refugees Consortium has now been observed by Nick Kristof of the NYT. His opinion is that it's doing work the Bush Administration would admire, if it bothered to look.

It's true that Marie Stopes International operates in China — providing contraceptives that reduce the number of abortions there. If Mr. Bush were trying to do something about coercive family planning in China by denouncing such abuses, I'd applaud him. But instead he's launching his administration on an ideological war against groups like the U.N. Population Fund and Marie Stopes. In fact, these groups are engaging China in just the way the White House recommends most of the time.

But of course, that's not what Mr. Bush cares about. What he cares about is courting the extreme right wing of his party; hence the cutoff of funding for both the UN Population Fund and the Consortium. Poor people and women don't matter; politics matters.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:37 AM | Comments (3)

September 19, 2003

Virus news flash

There's a new virus out there masquerading as a Microsoft update. I think I got this one this morning, and it looks legit. I can see how the less suspicious might be fooled; it even has a purported text file attachment with the name of my virus protection software in the filename.

Be careful out there (cue Mike Post's theme music).

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:33 AM | Comments (2)

Take back the language!

"Linquistic Liberationists" Dan Gillmor and Dave Weinberger have launched a new project to "build a collective lexicon that 'the people' believe have been hijacked. Anyone is free to contribute." The site is called Word Pirates. (Note: this is separate and distinct from today's exhortation to Talk Like a Pirate!) Anyway, it looks like one of those serious things couched in a fun concept. Sample word/phrase submission: "at this time" (and the amplified form "at this point in time"). What the hell's wrong with "now?"

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2003


Do you suppose Arthur Conan Doyle knew about this, but he got the geography wrong? Anyone wanna give me odds that a new pastiche will soon be in the works using this discovery as a basis for the storyline?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:41 AM | Comments (5)

September 17, 2003

High-tech job action

He said he empathizes with those who have lost jobs but that there's no turning back. "The genie's out of the bottle on offshore outsourcing," he said, adding that 3 percent to 4 percent of IT budgets nationally are already earmarked for foreign labor.

It's up to the government, not businesses, to handle the fallout of this shift, Rock said. "Businesses will go the path of least resistance and greatest savings."

So said Gregg Rock, president and founder of Brainstorm Group. He spoke at an outsourcing conference in Northern California this week. The conference was picketed by out-of-work IT professionals, and attended by over 250 local businesspeople. "Forrester Research estimated that the number of U.S. computer jobs moving overseas will grow from about 27,000 in 2000 to more than 472,000 by 2015."

It sort of ties in with the story cited below, doesn't it? The low-wage jobs bring in immigrant workers, and the high-wage jobs leave. Both groups want protection.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

Guthrie's legacy

This story made me think of this song. Here's the chorus:

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees."

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:50 AM | Comments (2)

September 16, 2003

Throw it up there and see what sticks

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose: college textbook prices induce sticker shock. I can see why: $118 for a financial accounting book? Why, back in my day...the price was probably about $35.

Here's a sample of that opportunity cost I spoke of below: NIH funding is flat after inflation.

Yo, coffee drinkers: Georgia researchers learn that caffeine reduces muscle pain after exercising. So start already.

"Preventative". "Orientate". "Try and". All of those are words and phrases that sound like fingernails on blackboards to me.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

Revulsion & Repudiation

Everyone knows who Paul Krugman is, right? The economist who writes a twice-a-week opinion column for the NYT? CalPundit went to a book-signing affair in Del Mar over the weekend and snagged an interview with the man. I don't care what your particular political leanings are, you should read it. It will give you a really disquieting picture of American economic society and where it may be headed, if current policies remain in place. I'm not gonna quote any of it here; that wouldn't do justice to Kevin's hard work. Just go read the entire thing. It'll take no more than five minutes, and it won't be a waste of time.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:01 AM | Comments (2)

September 15, 2003


If you have any doubt that the milk of human kindness is curdling these days, go read this post from Michele; start with the two earlier ones she references, and don't miss the comments. (The first post answers some guy who railed against free lunch programs for needy kids). To their credit, most commenters seem to think kids should get free lunches if needed; however, some don't. It takes me back to the premise of the first article I posted a link to here.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:06 PM | Comments (5)

Fiscal disarmament

I know tax discussions are eye-glazing, but that doesn't make them any less important.

Bush's two swift and deep cuts changed the tenor of American politics, probably for the next decade. Instead of debating about whether or how to shore up Social Security, invest in our cities, expand prescription drug coverage and back up our military might abroad with reconstruction and aid packages, we will lapse back into the politics of relative scarcity, dominated by haggling over cuts in government spending and a game of chicken over who proposes tax increases.

That $87B number seems to have shocked a lot of folks; suddenly the economic principle of opportunity cost seems to have come alive (for those who've forgotten, that's the idea that for every economic action there's a cost of not doing something else, and that something else has value too).

But Cheney stands firm! Of course, the article points out that virtually every "fact" he lays out has previously been disproven, but that's just the mean nasty media trying to present the truth.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:49 AM | Comments (1)

September 14, 2003

Music news

Huh. This is enlightening.

Much of the stated concern over file sharing has centered on the revenue that record companies and musicians are losing, but few musicians ever actually receive royalties from their record sales on major labels, which managers say have accounting practices that are badly in need of review. (Artists do not receive royalties for a CD until the record company has earned back the money it has spent on them.)
Um, yeah. I can certainly see room for improvement if that parenthetical statement is accurate. I can hear the discussions now: "Dammit, the cover of the CD is a simple portrait shot! How much can that possibly cost?"

Today's musical pick is lighthearted AM pop from the late 1960s-early 1970s...Golden Grass, the original hits collection from The Grass Roots. The band had a history of personnel switches, and it didn't last long, but the music was good while it lasted. It was influenced by folk-rock, but it had elements of R&B and Motown as well (horn arrangements for "Midnight Confessions", for example). "Let's Live for Today" and "Where Were You When I Needed You" were also fine examples of the band's work. Some of the original members reformed to catch the oldies tour craze in the mid-1980s.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:34 AM | Comments (7)

September 13, 2003

Over the horizon...debt

Bush and his party bill themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility; this puts the lie to that spin. If the tax cuts are made permanent, as the Administration wants, the United States is looking at deficits as far as the eye can see.

The $5.6 trillion surplus once predicted for the 10 years ending in 2011 is now a $2.3 trillion cumulative deficit under the best-case prediction issued by the Congressional Budget Office two weeks ago.

The $8 trillion difference between those numbers has little precedent in American history. The long-term budget forecast has declined as much in the last two years as the total revenue collected by the United States government from 1789 to 1983. (My emphasis.)

The U.S. economy is about $10 trillion a year; that means that by 2011 the deficit will be fully 20% of the entire output of the country. That's simply unsustainable, and it will require either higher taxes or massive cuts in spending, particularly in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Should the "sole remaining superpower" have the social services equivalent of a third-world nation by reducing those programs? That's the question our politicians have to face; if they listen to the hard-line conservatives (see Norquist, below) they'll do precisely that.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:24 PM | Comments (4)

Newsreel footage

Onion News Flash, c. 2007: "It's Us v. Them!"

On a much more serious note, the Philadelphia Daily News asks "Why Don't We Have Answers To These 9/11 Questions?"

Good questions, too. Sample: Why did the NORAD air defense network fail to intercept the four hijacked jets? As the story says, for years we were told NORAD could knock down any incoming Soviet jet carrying nukes, so why didn't it knock down the planes?

Here's a link to Unanswered Questions, which is referenced in the Philly paper's article. (Link via CalPundit)

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (1)

September 12, 2003

Friday foofaraw

Paul Krugman has a new book out; one of his stops on the promotional tour was Buzzflash. It's a good interview, as is the one he did Wednesday, 9/10 on Fresh Air.

Mr. Krugman also has a column today expressing skepticism about the über-patriotism card the Administration insists on playing to defeat its opponents, even when the issues have nothing to do with 9/11.

Here's some earthshattering news; Microsoft announces there's a security hole in Office. Yeah, yeah, so what else is new? This one looks potentially nasty, though; it could allow a takeover of the box. It affects Access, Excel, PowerPoint, and Word in Microsoft Office 97, 2000, and XP/2002 as well as Word 98, Project 2000 and 2002, Publisher 2002, Visio 2000 and 2002, Works Suite 2001, 2002, and 2003, plus several Microsoft Business Solutions products that also include VBA, Microsoft said. Go here to get the patch.

Update: Krugman has a 10-page article in this weekend's NYT Magazine which is well worth reading. It's a fiscal/monetary "how'd we get here from there" synopsis of the tax-cut debate.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

Fraudulent or intentional?

I wrote a bit about electronic voting machines below. Now comes a Detroit News story about a serious voting machine snafu which took place in California during a March primary (last year!)

During San Luis Obispo County's March 2002 primary, absentee vote tallies were apparently sent to an Internet site operated by Diebold Election Systems Inc., the maker of the voting machines used in the election.

At least that's what timestamps on digital records showed.

County election officials say the unexplained gaffe probably didn't influence the vote, and Diebold executives -- who only recently acknowledged the lapse -- say voters should have confidence in the election process.

But computer programmers say the incident is further evidence that electronic voting technology could allow a politically connected computer hacker to monitor balloting and, if the vote was going the wrong way, mobilize voters to swing the election.

"If you're at the state party headquarters and you know how the vote is going in a county, you can allocate scarce resources to the county where you're losing by a close margin," said Jim March, a computer system administrator from Milpitas who examined ballot results that ended up on a Diebold site without password protection. "This data is incredibly valuable to a campaign manager."


March questioned why San Luis Obispo County's server connected to a Diebold server at all -- particularly if it dialed out while polls were open. He said the "phone home" incident could have been the work of an incompetent or malicious Diebold insider, or an outside hacker. Any astute campaign manager could have profited, he said.

Yeah, I wonder that too; why did that machine send any data to the manufacturer?

Folks, I strongly suggest calling your election officials and objecting to the use of these machines; the optical scanners which have a paper trail are far better and less subject to potential manipulation than the touchscreen ones Diebold makes. You'll no doubt hear objections that the scanners are slower for voters to use (true: they're like SAT answer sheets) and require more poll workers, but your vote should be sacrosanct. It shouldn't be endangered by questionable equipment.

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

September 11, 2003

In Memoriam



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

September 10, 2003

Commemorate no, manipulate yes

Always the political opportunist, on Wednesday Mr. Bush proposed expanding the Patriot Act to include the death penalty for terror-related activities, subpoena power without judicial approval, and suspension of bail for terror suspects.

It is unclear how the proposals will fare in a Congress where Democrats and some Republicans have raised questions that the Patriot Act went too far, but the administration is counting on the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks to generate support (My emphasis).

Mr. Bush also called for expanding the death penalty to include terror-related crimes like sabotaging nuclear centers using methods that result in deaths. Mr. Bush also said Congress had to let judges deny bail for terror suspects. Judges have that power with some drug offenses.

Over 160 cities and towns and three states have voted against fully complying with aspects of Patriot Act I, so it's obviously sensible to think those places will fall all over themselves agreeing to an expanded version of it now. Fortunately, it doesn't look like it will be as easy to get approval this time around. Unless you're this guy's boss, of course:

"This is the president talking and not John Ashcroft," said a Republican Congressional aide, "and the fact is that we have to be as supportive as we can of the president and his efforts to combat terrorism."

And to hell with civil liberties and the Constitution of the United States? Does your boss represent the Republican party and its President, or all the constituents in his/her district/state? This thinking is what gave the country Patriot I, with all its flaws; is it a good idea to enhance it? Not on my behalf, thank you.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:01 PM | Comments (1)

The 19th Century Was Great!

Alabama voters defeated a more progressive tax system (see below):

"No one's life is a complete waste. Some of us serve as bad examples. And Governor Riley is going to serve as a bad example," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

"Years from now, little baby Republican governors will be told scary stories late at night, around the campfire, about the sad fate of governors like Riley who steal a billion dollars from their people."

But wait, he wasn't done yet:

"This is a shot across the bow for next year's decision-making," said Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, who made defeat of Riley's proposal a cause of conservative, anti-tax groups. "Every Republican governor who thinks of raising taxes next year will walk past Traitor's Gate and see Bob Riley's head on a pike. The voters of Alabama have saved taxpayers from California to Maine billions of dollars."

I'd love to see that SOB survive without government services like the DMV (which licenses either him or his driver) and the DOT (which surfaces the roads and keeps the traffic flowing; roads he or his driver use), or the cops and firemen (which protect him and his property when needed) and the prisons (which house all those who take libertarian principles to unacceptable extremes) among other essential things government provides. If Social Security and Medicare survive, I wonder if the checks can be withheld when he needs them? Had Dante met Norquist...

These gentlemen have more to add.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)

Warren Zevon, R.I.P.

Confession: I have a copy of Excitable Boy, probably purchased shortly after its release in 1978. I never listened to it thoroughly; for some reason it just didn't click with me. So I don't fit in with those who have sincerely felt the loss of Warren Zevon. I intend to give the album a fair listening now, if only because I've read so many heartfelt tributes to the man on other blogs.

Some of those tributes can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (6)

September 09, 2003


I claim no originality here, but a relatively dull football game tonight caused me to wander about the link list and gather nuts and berries. A few pecans (no raspberries here!):

Josh Marshall suggests that Rummy and friends are reliving history, specifically the infamous "stab in the back" charge leveled against post-WWI German politicians by German militarists. TalkLeft has some thoughts about the revelation that DoJ is using the Patriot Act for criminal as well as terrorism investigations, despite the law's intent. Juan Cole critiques Mr. Bush's speech (see 9/8 entry). Quiddity has a new European map, redrawn with new names by the current Administration.

Jon is nattering about mosh pits and media labs, while Batty contemplates adding a minifridge to the chaos living room. Michele is collecting 9/11 stories at Voices. Shelley is the proud owner of a pink Powerbook. Solonor is soliciting votes for Zuly for Drama Queen of the Internet. Scott has found an Onion News Generator. Deborah is worrying about her Canadian immigration status. Ms. LabRat has returned from Alaska, with photos. And finally, Suzette, formerly known as "she who has the same kind of dog as the Queen of England," has renamed her husband "Mr. Coffee," for reasons that are unclear.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (6)

September 08, 2003

Self-sustaining war?

This week, international experts enlisted by the American-led occupation authorities estimated that the loss of oil revenues and cost of operating a civilian government in Iraq is projected at $20 billion for 2004.

That figure was given to diplomats from potential donor nations in Brussels this week, and by all accounts they were stunned.

"Think of it this way," said an official familiar with the Brussels session. "You'd be putting more than a third of the world's development assistance in 2004 into a country with the second largest oil reserves in the world. Imagine what that does to the rest of the poor countries in the world. All of Africa doesn't get that much money." (My emphasis)

Um, yes. Just imagine what all those poverty-stricken countries in Africa might do about health care, social infrastructure and education with even 25% of that money. To paraphrase Blofeld or Goldfinger or one of those Bond villains: "Very clever, Mister Bush."

That comes on top of this particular item, too: Gen. Abizaid published an internal report within DoD a year ago; it essentially predicted the situation the Army faces in Iraq right now (For predictions, scroll down to the bottom; I recommend reading the whole article). Was any attention given to it? Apparently not. (link via Josh Marshall.)

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2003


The Band. This was the second album the group released, after Music from Big Pink (which see). One of the reviewers at Amazon makes a good point: both these albums were released during the height of the psychedelic revolution, yet this music went back to American roots (although the group had four Canadians and only one American member) and reminded listeners that there was still a place for tightly-controlled and well-thought-out melody and rhythm. Most people had only thought of The Band as the backup musicians for Bob Dylan to that point; these two records put an end to that idea. There's not a bad track on the album; it includes "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "Up On Cripple Creek," and the lesser-known "Rag Mama Rag."

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:09 AM | Comments (7)

September 06, 2003

Sis Boom Bah!


Despite all of ESPN's efforts over Labor Day, today is really the first full day of the college football season (or, since Notre Dame didn't start until today, that's what a friend of mine [and Irish alum] would say). Thus, FanBlogs.

...a group weblog dedicated to college football. This effort is the brainchild of a couple of guys who really love football (and beer). They gathered up some people, who told some people, who invited a few people along. The result is a collective blog for fans who know that [the] week isn't over until you've posted about the big games, and the little games, and the practices, and the cheerleaders, and the tailgaiting, and...I think you get the picture.

These guys cover the ACC, the Big Ten, the Big Twelve, the Big East, Conference USA, the Pac-10, the SEC, and the NCAA. If you're a fan, they're worth checking out. If you're out here in Mountain West/WAC country, help me persuade them that those conferences need coverage too (but might be making a commitment!).

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:45 PM | Comments (3)

September 05, 2003

You're ignoring WHAT?

...Wielding its power as one of the largest purchasers of medications in the United States, the V.A. has made it possible for millions of veterans to pay just $7 for up to a 30-day prescription. Thousands are signing up for the program every month. Yet for all its apparent success, lawmakers have disregarded the V.A. model — and others like it that use the government's immense power to negotiate lower prices — as they try to give older Americans relief from rising drug costs while reshaping how the elderly get medical services.


In 2000, the National Academy of Sciences found that the V.A.'s methods had achieved nearly $100 million in savings over the previous two years.

But Congress decided not to adopt the V.A.'s approach; in fact, it was not seriously considered.

Does this make any sense? Every time I've ever priced out anything, I've looked at comparables. What could be more comparable to a prescription drug benefit within Medicare than the Veterans Administration system?

I think Congress is loony.

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

September 04, 2003

9/11 news

George Mason University (hey! I took two summer courses there between my sophomore and junior years in high school!) has been working with City University of NY to create a digital repository of reactions to the terrorist attacks that day. The project contains "more than 100,000 digital files: e-mails, instant messages, video clips, audio recordings, even PowerPoint presentations and computer-animated cartoons documenting the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon." The Library of Congress will help preserve the archive.

As was long rumored but often discounted, several Saudi nationals exited the US in the days following September 11, 2001, apparently with White House blessings. Some of them were related to bin Laden.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:54 PM | Comments (5)

Sound the trumpets

Texas gave us George W. Bush, but it also gave us Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower. The title of this essay is "Living In a Kleptocrat Nation," but it could equally be read as a call to arms.

The unforgivable transgression of today's leaders is that they have abandoned this common wisdom of the common good and quit striving for that world of enlightenment and egalitarianism that the founders envisioned and that so many throughout our history have struggled to build. Instead, whether from the top executive suites or from the White House, the people in charge today are aggressively pushing a soulless ethic that shouts: "Everyone on your own, grab all you can, and if you've got enough money, secure yourself in a gated compound."

Not only are the Kleptocrats stealing our country from us, they're stealing our democratic ideals-the very idea of America. And it's time to take them back. (Emphasis in original)

Matt Miller has a similar theme today in the NYT.

What American politics urgently needs, in other words, is not a new left, but a new center. Democrats need to refocus domestic debate around a handful of fundamental goals on which all Americans can agree — goals that in turn become the new basis for setting fiscal priorities and tradeoffs.

Yes, there will be fights over details. But if we first ask what equal opportunity and a decent life in America mean, can't we agree that anyone who works full time should be able to provide for his or her family? That every citizen should have basic health coverage? And that special efforts should be made to make sure that poor children have good schools?

Good point, Matt. Why is it "liberal" to want those things for all Americans? If the Democrats have lost their way in not embracing those few things, what does one make of the Republicans, whose way it never was? Look at the trouble Governor Riley of Alabama is having trying to sell a revised tax system which would put in an income tax floor of about $15,000, below which no state income tax would be levied. Riley, a staunch Republican of the no-tax school, is phrasing this in Biblical terms; comfort the afflicted. Yet nearly every business and Republican group in his state opposes it, including the Alabama Christian Coalition. (For more on Alabama, see Mac Thomason's work; he lives there and has been blogging about it for months.)

Why do the Republican elites hate Americans?

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

September 03, 2003

One for three

Public health? Nah, gets in the way of economic redevelopment. So let's just have EPA relax its rules. "According to an internal memorandum issued in mid-August, the agency will no longer prohibit the sale of PCB-contaminated land unless the property is severely poisoned." It's amazing what having no administrator for the agency allows you to do with all those pesky regulations, isn't it?

In another victory for those who think poor people shouldn't have access to health care or a legal remedy if they're mistreated when they do get it, "The Bush administration is relaxing rules that say hospitals have to examine and treat people who require emergency medical care, regardless of their ability to pay."

The new rule, while not a wholesale return to the situation before 1986, scales back regulations that specify when and where hospitals have to provide emergency services. Patients turned away or refused emergency care can still sue, but hospitals will, in many cases, have stronger defenses.

This could have huge implications in all manner of civil and criminal cases.

Issuing an egregiously overbroad subpoena for stored e-mail qualifies as a computer intrusion in violation of anti-hacking laws, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday, deciding a case in which a litigant in a civil matter subpoenaed every single piece of e-mail his courtroom adversary sent or received. (My emphasis).
"Fishing expeditions" may not be legal, if this stands up. If I'm the guy getting subpoenaed, I like this; if I'm the plaintiff or the prosecutor, I probably don't.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:04 AM | Comments (1)

September 02, 2003

Fone follies

Last night our phone rang five different times, but when we answered, there was no one at the other end of the line. As you can imagine, this became pretty annoying. On the sixth time, I decided to just listen for a while to see if I could identify the source of the call from the background noise (probably futile, you say? Wait for it). After about three minutes, someone laughed, and I recognized the laugh! It was my sister's voice. I remembered that she was working at her restaurant, so I called her and asked, "Where's your cellphone?" Turns out it was in her purse, which was on the floor; she'd been kicking it. Let this be a lesson to you cell users (particularly new ones); turn the phone off when you don't expect to use it, or risk the wrath of those whose numbers you've pre-programmed.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:15 PM | Comments (2)

September 01, 2003


The usual question one gets when meeting someone for the first time is "What do you do?" At various times in my life, here's how I could have answered the question.

  • Newspaper delivery (weekly): Westwood, Ca. age 10-12
  • Newspaper delivery (daily): Annandale, Va. age 13-15
  • Janitor (thrice weekly): Jefferson HS, Alexandria, Va. age 16
  • Navy Commissary grocery stock clerk, Guam, Marianas Islands age 18
  • Gas station attendant (thrice weekly): Phoenix, Az. age 19
  • Construction gopher (daily): Honolulu, Hi. age 20
  • Woolco stock clerk (daily): Tucson, Az age 20
  • US Navy Radioman: San Diego, Ca./Yokosuka, Japan age 21-24
  • DOD contract teletype operator: Kwajalein, Marshall Islands age 24-27
  • Registrar's assistant, Hawaii Pacific Univ., Honolulu, Hi. age 28-29
  • Data Processing Mgr., Honolulu, Hi. age 29-38
  • Data Processing Mgr., Honolulu, Hi. age 39-40
  • Ass't. Info Sys. Mgr., Honolulu, Hi. age 40-42
  • Accountant, Honolulu, Hi. age 44-48
  • Consultant/researcher, Honolulu, Hi. age 49-current

Who's next?

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:18 PM | Comments (7)

Labor Day 2003

In recognition of Labor Day, here's one of the most famous songs to come from the movement. It was written by a poet named Alfred Hayes in 1925, ten years after Joe Hill's execution on a murder charge in Utah. There is still no agreement on Hill's guilt or innocence; what is certain is that he became a martyr for the labor movement. This song has been recorded by such singers as Joan Baez, Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger.

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you or me
Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead,"
"I never died," says he
"I never died," says he

"In Salt Lake, Joe," says I to him,
Him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."

"The copper bosses killed you, Joe,
They shot you, Joe," says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man,"
Says Joe, "I didn't die,"
Says Joe, "I didn't die."

And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes
Joe says, "What they forgot to kill
Went on to organize,
Went on to organize."

"Joe Hill ain't dead," he says to me,
"Joe Hill ain't never died.
Where working men are out on strike
Joe Hill is at their side,
Joe Hill is at their side."

"From San Diego up to Maine,
In every mine and mill,
Where workers strike and organize,"
Says he, "You'll find Joe Hill,"
Says he, "You'll find Joe Hill."

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you or me
Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead,"
"I never died," says he
"I never died," says he

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:37 AM | Comments (1)