November 30, 2003


It's starting to get a little nippy (ok, it's all relative; nippy here means nights below 70 degrees Fahrenheit), so let's have a little Three Dog Night. Specifically, Captured Live at the Forum. This was only the group's third album, but it could qualify as a greatest hits compilation. AMG only gives it two stars, but I suspect that's for the recording quality, not for the verve and the songs. This collection includes Harry Nilsson's "One (is the Loneliest Number)," Laura Nyro's "Eli's Coming," and "Try a Little Tenderness." If you look at the composers of the songs on this album, you'll also find members of Traffic, Lennon/McCartney, and Robbie Robertson. As far as I can tell, the group only performed covers, but their arrangements were occasionally quite different from the originals. From the sounds of this album, they must have really put on a show.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:47 AM | Comments (2)

November 29, 2003

Politics, pollution, and baseball?

NOW with Bill Moyers aired an interview with Jim Bouton last night. Bouton is the former Yankees pitcher (and a good one--see here) whose first book was Ball Four, which absolutely scandalized the baseball owners and commissioner back in 1969. He's written a new book, in which big media and small town politics collide. It's the story of the attempts to renovate an old ballpark in Pittsfield, MA rather than build a brand-new one.

...he lines up against the economic lynchpin of pro sports: publicly funded stadiums. Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is the site of venerable Wahconah Park, home to various minor-league teams since 1892. Bouton and most of the area's citizenry feel the stadium should be repaired, updated, and preserved. The city government, however, along with various business interests, wants to build a new $18 million stadium--at taxpayer expense. This relatively small skirmish is portrayed by Bouton as a microcosm of the publicly funded sports facility battles that have been fought around the country. Typically, taxpayers foot the bill--under the pressure of team abandonment--so owners and players can get rich.

The book is self-published; the original publisher (Public Affairs), Bouton claims, backed out under pressure from General Electric, which may have been polluting the city's preferred site for a new ballpark. Both the publisher and GE deny the allegations, but Bouton stands by them. If you've ever lived anywhere where you felt fighting city hall was hopeless, you may recognize the situation described here. I want this book! Incidentally, the publicity from the PBS show can't have hurt: as of 1250hst today, it's ranked number 34 at Amazon.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2003

Flu shots

Have you gotten a flu shot yet? This might be the most serious outbreak in years, so it's strongly recommended that you do so. I got mine on Wednesday. You may have heard that the current vaccine does not include full immunization from the A Fujian strain, which is the one that's having the nastiest effect. That's true, but the strains the current vaccine does protect against offer anywhere from 30%-80% protection against the deadlier one, so I'll take those odds.

This has been an unpaid (drat!) medical announcement.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:07 AM | Comments (6)

November 27, 2003

Turkey Day 2003

No Thanksgiving would be complete without a rendition of Alice's Restaurant, right?

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and Fasha the dog.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (8)

November 26, 2003

'Twas the day before...

1955 Westinghouse roaster-oven

We've cooked our turkey in one of those since the mid-1950s; time to dust it off, wash it out, and stock up on the white bread, mayo, and lettuce! Oh, wait; I don't need that stuff till Friday, do I? Ok, then, time to break out the one-day-a-year tablecloth, the cornucopia thingie to hold the mini-gourds and Indian corn, wash the silver, get out the Noritake china...yikes, I'm tired already.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:03 AM | Comments (1)

November 25, 2003

Senate skullduggery

I usually think of the Senate Judiciary Committee as the most partisan of all Senate Committees, the one with the deepest ideological split. So I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that one of Chairman Orrin Hatch's staff members apparently "obtained" some Democratic memos from the computers used by Senators Kennedy and Durbin. Here's more from the Associated Press, and Josh Marshall has gory details from Hatch's press conference this afternoon. Senator Hatch seems a little shocked, but I don't know why. His chairmanship has been hypocritical from the git-go; he's the guy who's changed rules on blue slips for judicial nominees and denied that Republicans ever blocked Clinton's appointees. There's nothing funny about this, except perhaps that this is the Judiciary committee; presumably even more than most Senate committees, this one should promote high ethical standards. Guess not, huh? (Original story link lifted from CalPundit).

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

Recall Thanksgiving

Wondering if those tires you bought two months ago have been recalled? Six Federal agencies (CPSC, USCG, NHTSA, FDA, EPA, and Agriculture) have collected recall data and put it up on a new website.

30 things to be thankful for, written by (I'm guessing) a mother. I particularly like this one: Catsup covers a variety of culinary disasters when the diner is under age 10.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

Nobody buys MY vote!

I have a whole lot of opinions about the Medicare bill, but I'll leave them for later. This is instructive, however:

Howard Kurtz writes in the Post:

And for good measure, I just got this email from the Center for Responsive Politics:

"House members who helped to pass sweeping Medicare legislation in an early morning vote Saturday have been among the biggest beneficiaries of contributions from health insurers, HMOs and pharmaceutical manufacturers, three industries that stand to benefit financially if the bill becomes law. . . .

"Pharmaceutical manufacturers, for example, have averaged $28,504 to the 204 Republicans who supported the bill, but just $8,112 to the 25 Republicans who opposed it. Pharmaceutical contributions to Democrats on both sides of the debate are less varied.

"The 16 Democrats who voted 'yes' on the bill have raised an average of $16,296 from pharmaceutical manufacturers, while the 189 Democrats who voted 'no' have raised an average of $11,791.

"If pharmaceutical manufacturers have been less consistent in their giving to Republicans than to Democrats, the opposite is true for health insurers. Their giving reflects a greater disparity among Democrats than among Republicans.

"Democrats who supported the bill have raised far more, on average, from health insurers ($22,376) than have Democrats who opposed the measure ($9,692). Republicans who supported the industry position have raised an average of $19,286 from health insurers, while Republicans who voted against the industry have raised an average of $13,828."

It truly is "The Best Congress Money Can Buy."

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2003

Snarls and snippets

If treating Medicare patients was such a good deal, why does it take "a special $12 billion fund to try to persuade health plans to enter" the market? Republicans, for all their homage to free markets, seem to think bribery is the best way to create those markets. Lies, lies and cash.

News you can use: This article identifies a database which contains info about disciplinary actions taken against doctors in every state (save South Dakota, for unspecified reasons).

It comes from being a librarian's son, I suppose, but archiving web material is one of my minor fascinations. Here's some alarming data: "In one recent study, one-fifth of the Internet addresses used in a Web-based high school science curriculum disappeared over 12 months." Want more? From the same article: "of the 2,483 British government Web sites, for example, 25 percent change their URL each year..." At the moment, there are various methods of trying to resolve this burgeoning problem, but none have reached the level of a standard yet.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:55 AM | Comments (1)

November 23, 2003

Bluesy Sunday

Mike Bloomfield left the Butterfield Blues Band and moved to California, forming The Electric Flag in 1967. This album, A Long Time Comin', was one of the first released by a rock band to mix horns with guitars, predating Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago by a few months. The most-recognized track is probably Howlin' Wolf's The Killing Floor, but there's plenty of other good material here. I thought of the band when I heard it mentioned during Episode 9 of The Blues, which my public radio station airs every Sunday. Thanks, HPR!

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:05 AM | Comments (5)

November 22, 2003

November 22, 1963

40 years ago today I was a 13-year old 8th grader at Edgar Allen Poe Intermediate in Alexandria, Va. It was an ordinary school day until about 2:20 in the afternoon, when we were changing classrooms, and suddenly a rumor was flying that the President had been shot. That was confirmed about 10 minutes later, and we were sent home early. I got home to find my mother in shock (Dad was in Antarctica), and we spent the remainder of the weekend, as did so many other Americans, glued to the TV screen. We were in disbelief, of course; "this doesn't happen in America," we thought. Of course, it had happened before, as we all quickly learned. That weekend I learned more about McKinley, Garfield, Harrison and other Presidential deaths in office than I'd ever learned before. I was fortunate enough to wangle a ride to Arlington Cemetery on that Monday, the 25th, where I stood about 500-1000 yards from the gravesite, along with many many other people. Neither Mom nor I have any memory of who I got a ride with, why she felt it was OK for me to go, or any other details. I just remember standing there among all those people, trying to make sense of it.

Since then this country has had similar national tragedies, of course, from the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. through the Challenger explosion to September 11. In every instance it seemed to me that time just stopped for several days as we all sat in front of television screens trying to absorb what we were seeing. To me, the different thing about the JFK assassination is that it was a double shock; first the President's murder, followed two days later by the murder of the suspected killer (on national television, no less). I think the Oswald murder was the catalyst for all the subsequent conspiracy theories; to my knowledge nobody has ever seriously espoused similar theories about the RFK or MLK murders. The killing of the principal suspect by a nobody is a plot line we've all read in murder mysteries; Ruby had no known motive for shooting Oswald, so he must have been a pawn for a larger interest. I've never bought any of the theories; despite the fact that he had been living in Russia for a while, and he had suspicious contacts with Cuba, I think those were incidental. I think Oswald acted alone.

Who else has memories of that weekend?

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

November 21, 2003

RSS Aggregators

Can anyone recommend a good free news/blog aggregator? Who uses what?

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:02 PM | Comments (6)

Dean, the Internet, and war

If you're a marketing type with a tech bent, this article at Baseline magazine is a must read. It's the backstory of the Dean campaign's adoption of the 'Net as one of its primary tools for organizing on the cheap. It's useful info for anyone wondering how to harness this medium.

Also on Dean (this space is not becoming a Deanblog, but I did find this interesting as well):

Equating Dean with McGovern is just plain wrong, says Robert Kagan in the Washington Post.

Howard Dean is no George McGovern. He opposed the Iraq war, he says, because it was "the wrong war at the wrong time," not because it was emblematic of a fundamentally misguided American foreign policy. Dean has not, in fact, challenged the reigning foreign policy paradigms of the post-9/11 era: the war on terrorism and the nexus between terrorism and rogue states with weapons of mass destruction. "I support the president's war on terrorism," he told Tim Russert this summer. He supported the war in Afghanistan. He even supported Israel's strike against a terrorist camp in Syria because Israel, like the United States, has the "right" to defend itself.

Doesn't sound like McGovern to me, either. Seems to me I've read that "wrong war" bit before.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2003

Lights! Camera! Crime!

If you're tired of the Michael Jackson "drama" on your TV screens, but your appetite is whetted for other celebrity crimes in LA, try this. You can learn about Fatty Arbuckle, Aimee Semple McPherson, Caryl Chessman, and the Black Dahlia; sadly missing is any account of the Zoot Suit Riots, though they were certainly scandalous.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:48 PM | Comments (7)

November 19, 2003

Gay marriage

Like everyone else, I've heard all this furor, and I'm bemused. It's not like this is a zero-sum game, where the gay folk gain some rights and someone else loses some. Nobody is being asked to relinquish anything. Should not one human being be allowed to visit a loved one in the hospital, have a seat at the table in estate planning, be considered a partner in healthcare plans, etc.? I know this outrages lots of people, but I (naively) don't see why it should. Who the hell does it harm?

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:27 AM | Comments (14)

November 18, 2003

HBO Programming

Frank Rich reviews HBO's "Angels in America," with a few remarks about CBS, "The Reagans", and the vociferous outcry of the Reagan supporters which caused that program to be pulled. I missed this the other day when it appeared in the paper; fortunately Jake at Political Aims did not. If you don't know the story the play tells, it's a depiction of how AIDS killed some 55,000 people during the 1980s, became the biggest public health catastrophe this country had faced in many years, and was virtually ignored by the Reagan Administration. Looks to be a show well worth watching, so check your local listings.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:36 PM | Comments (3)

Free the archives!

Here's a pointer to instructions on how to avoid linkrot, aka the annoying disappearance of articles to which you've linked. Kevin got it from Lisa Williams, who has an updated item about the problem and its NYT solution here.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)

Three no trump

I heard this on All Things Considered yesterday, but a four-minute interview just didn't do it justice:

Error by Italy Helps U.S. Win Bermuda Bowl.
And what's the Bermuda Bowl, you ask? The biennial contract bridge championship of the world, that's all. Apparently the US won on the equivalent of Buckner's muffed ground ball or Fred Merkle's baserunning error.

November 17, 2003

Public Service Announcement

Somebody is impersonating this guy and leaving comments about "liberals" as follows:

Go on a diet fatboy. You f***ing liberals are all the same. Always blaming America for the world's problems. Your self loathing disgusts me. Why don't you move to Canada you f***ing pacifist.
He calls himself "Raging Dave." The link above goes to the real Raging Dave, and he's angry about it. The reason I know is that I've seen those comments at least twice, and followed them back. I don't agree at all with the victim's politics, but I don't like impersonations either, so if you get hit with those comments, let the real Raging Dave know by going to the above link and leaving him a comment, citing site and permalink, if possible.

The odd thing is the guy has hit sites which (no offense, folks) are not the most highly-trafficked on the web; it's almost like a test run.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:00 AM | Comments (3)

November 16, 2003

Tin Pan Alley Goes West

JeanNine's post title inspired this musical choice.

George and Ira Gershwin in Hollywood. There are a lot of great songs included in this two-disc set, including Fascinatin' Rhythm, S'Wonderful, Shall We Dance, and Let's Call the Whole Thing Off. The liner notes contain some inside-Hollywod gossip of the time, including a highly-opinionated indictment of the Sam Goldwyn production of Porgy and Bess. Fun stuff.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

Upscale Scam

"We are a team of venture capitalists /project finance consultants who, a couple of years ago, were assembled by our various Governments to form a "Tenders Committee" established for the provision of financial consultation services..."


"It was believed that since we would be located outside our countries we would be able to utilize and allocate for proper use loans and project sponsorships that were at the time being granted to us from international monetary bodies without bias or corruption. This was meant to curb widespread embezzlement of the fund by our governmental leaders. Unfortunately this wasn’t so, for as soon as we secure these funds for the projects identified, our leaders take the funds and use them for their own personal needs."

Not a misspelling in the missive. In fact, it sounds plausible, until you get to this sentence: "However, my colleagues and I in the "Tenders Committee" decided to over-inflate the contract sum to the tune of US$621.5m with intention of sharing the $21.5 Million Amongst ourselves to achieve our goals."

Hmm. Beware of venture capitalists sounding munificent; the nature of the business is self-interest, not philanthropy. For entire text, click "Read On."

Through the courtesy of business opportunity and after a discreet but thorough inquiry at the Foreign Office of the trade department, I write you this letter of request for partnership which I hope you will give your urgent attention. First and foremost I would like to state at this point that this is by no means a scheme of any sort and neither is it an attempt of any kind to play on the intelligence of your good self, upon contact, further proof of the authenticity of this transaction would be provided and you have my assurance that your decision to proceed will not contravene the ethics of your better

We are a team of venture capitalists /project finance consultants who, a couple of years ago, were assembled by our various Governments to form a "Tenders Committee" established for the provision of financial consultation services to
third world nation to which we are citizens. The Tenders committee was established to be an autonomous body empowered by these countries to manage their foreign resources or to provide finances for areas of need in these nations like infrastructure such as bad roads, drug shortages in the hospitals, education and portable water etc. We were also responsible for awarding contracts and sourcing contractual executors to meet these needs, in turn the countries involved would receive invoices from us for these amounts and make payments after they have been approved.

It was believed that since we would be located outside our countries we would be able to utilize and allocate for proper use loans and project sponsorships that were at the time being granted to us from international monetary bodies without
bias or corruption. This was meant to curb widespread embezzlement of the fund by our governmental leaders. Unfortunately this wasn’t so, for as soon as we secure these funds for the projects identified, our leaders take the funds
and use them for their own personal needs. My colleagues and I have decided to participate in the next political dispensation and make a difference to this present injustice. This will require resources which we are not privy to at this
time. For this we are initiating this partnership that will enable us achieve this and be profitable as well to the participants in this transaction.

On the 9th of February 2002 we facilitated several contracts amounting to approximately US$600 Million to the consortium of several foreign companies like ABB Lummus, J.G.C. Corporation of Japan, Bouygues Offshore and a Joint Venture of Spiebatignoles and Fouguerolle, for an Engineering procurement. However, my colleagues and I in the "Tenders Committee" decided to over-inflate the contract sum to the tune of US$621.5m with intention of sharing the $21.5 Million Amongst ourselves to achieve our goals.

The Governments in question have approved the total of $621.5M and are prepared to mobilize these funds to the designated company’s accounts. Since these companies will be receiving their entire contractual obligations, we intend to allocate the remaining amount of 21.5M to a trustworthy individual's company account for disbursement to us at a later date. My colleagues and I have agreed that should you agree to these conditions we are willing to look into transferring the over invoiced $21.5M to your company and a negotiable percentage will be retained by you while the remainder will be sent back to us when this has been completed. Should you however decline this offer we apologize for wasting your time and would seize contact henceforth, however should you be interested please send me a mail only to this mail box: xxxxxxxxxx stating your interest so we may commence with the necessary processes/documentation that would effect the conclusion of this mutually beneficial offer. We hope this is an opportunity that would merit your immediate consideration.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2003


"The Bush campaign fully expects it will be outspent by a whole range of special-interest liberal groups," said Terry Holt, the campaign's spokesman. "Given that, we think our fund-raising goals are appropriate."

You know, of all the barefaced lies we've heard, that one might be the most blatant.

Contributions of $1,000 or more made up 70% of all individual donations raised by the major party candidates in the nine-month reports they filed on October 15, according to an analysis by the Campaign Finance Institute.


The 2004 candidates’ dependence on large and small donors varies greatly. President Bush has raised 84% of his 2003 money in amounts of $1000 or more, compared to 78% in 1999. On the other hand, the proportion of small contributions to the Bush campaign has also increased from 5% to 11% over the last four years.

Which special-interest liberal groups might those be, Mr. Holt?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:33 AM | Comments (2)


This is very naughty. Very naughty, but very funny. Bad PFAW!

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:06 AM | Comments (1)

November 13, 2003

Media & archives

Those of you with large VHS tape libraries may want to read this; it's a guide to the basics of burning DVDs from tape.

Did you know the Library of Congress has put more than eight million images of historical documents online? If that's not impressive enough, it has now put a digitized version of the Gutenberg Bible on CD, for $80/set.

Today appears to be information-archive day: here's some background on the guy who put together The Memory Hole, the website which recently removed those obscuring bars (redaction) from DOJ's internal diversity report through a standard Adobe Acrobat feature. The article contains links to other websites which try to do the same thing.

I ran across another new blog the other day: if you're interested in science (particularly biology and medicine), check out The Loom. It's authored by Carl Zimmer, who's published several books and writes magazine articles, including one as recently as six weeks ago in the NYT about the Terry Schiavo case.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)


Now that was weird.

My e-mail client downloaded the first six of twenty messages without a problem today, and then it locked. And it locked. And it locked. And it took three long-distance calls to the ISP to get it fixed, which included accessing the messages on the server, forwarding them to myself, and then deleting the originals from the server. The best guess was that there was an unexpected character in one of the message headers, but that doesn't make sense, because I had to go through that little game a couple of times with different messages. What's the odds more than one message on the same day would have a mucked-up character? Like I said, weird.

In other news, before you trash your landline phone and service:

Verizon also said canceling a landline may also disable alarm reporting services, TiVo, satellite TV, cable pay-per-view and Internet access that depends on a phone line, including dial-up and DSL access.

So think twice. Call 911 on a cellphone and your home address probably won't appear on the dispatcher's computer screen, among other potential horrors.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (3)

November 12, 2003


Mr. Allen (all now bow in obeisance) is concerned that moving the MT-Blacklist news from his old blog to its new space caused some folks who might need updates to get lost.

Be it known, then, that the Comment Spam Clearinghouse can now be found here.

He wants these three points to be made

  • Submitting your spam strengthens the protection for everyone. Spam submission can be done here.
  • There are RSS feeds that you can (and should) subscribe to that help you stay updated on changes. Alternatively, you could simply refresh your list periodically with the master blacklist entries.
  • The Comment spam clearinghouse is NOT Movable Type specific. Spam is a community-wide problem and the blacklist can be used by anyone on any platform. More will follow in the coming weeks regarding an effort to broaden the base of protection to other weblogging platforms.

My duty is done. If I have helped but one poor spam-ridden blogger find his or her way out of the wilderness that is innumerable commercial comments imploring him or her to check out prescription drugs, viagra, or worse by clicking this site right now!!!, I shall have succeeded.

What are you waiting for?

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

November 11, 2003

War poetry

Grantland Rice is better known for his sportswriting than for his poetry, but he worked for the nascent Stars and Stripes newspaper in Europe during WW I. He wrote this in the '20s, I think. I found it at Poetry of the First World War.

Two Sides of War

All wars are planned by older men
In council rooms apart,
Who call for greater armament
And map the battle chart.

But out along the shattered field
Where golden dreams turn gray,
How very young the faces were
Where all the dead men lay.

Portly and solemn in their pride,
The elders cast their vote
For this or that, or something else,
That sounds the martial note.

But where their sightless eyes stare out
Beyond life's vanished toys,
I've noticed nearly all the dead
Were hardly more than boys.

~Grantland Rice

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:06 AM | Comments (4)

Veterans Day 2003

The Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific With gratitude to and in memory of:

Timberlake, Lewis G, b. 09/05/1924, d. 08/24/1993, CAPT USN, Plot: CT2 G-435, bur. 08/31/1993

Alford, James J, b. 03/16/1928, d. 12/20/1996, US Marine Corps, PFC, Res: Los Angeles, CA, Plot: CT3-K300347, bur. 01/23/1997

Thanks, Dad and Uncle Jim.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:10 AM | Comments (1)

November 10, 2003


We are conducting a scientific experiment with these to determine whether one box really contains 8 servings of 16 crackers apiece, as stated on the package.

Results to follow.

Update: The experiment resulted in the label's claim being accurate: 8 servings of 16 crackers apiece, although that last serving was in multiple broken pieces. We nearly had to use peanut butter to glue them together to get the final two crackers.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:22 PM | Comments (3)

November 09, 2003


Mom heard a statistic cited yesterday which I thought I could verify easily. The question was "how many Americans have passports," and the answer she heard was 44%. I went off to the Census Bureau's site to see if I could find it, and was completely unsuccessful. I eventually wound up at the State Department's site, where I found a page of stats showing me the number of passports issued per year, but that doesn't answer the question. Obviously the number issued doesn't take into account the number expired in each year, and the stats don't break out renewals.* I've found conflicting numbers all over the place, from a low of 11% to that 44% number cited above. So I thought I'd do an entirely unscientific poll of you folks. Who has a valid passport?

My passport, by the way, is no longer valid. I paid the $10 fee (it's now $55) in 1984 and used it to go to Europe that year and again in 1987, but it expired in 1994 and I've had no need for it since. How about you?

*Interestingly, State's stats show a sudden dropoff in passports issued in 1989, followed by a steady decline until 1993, when they jumped by a full one million. I wonder what that means?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:45 PM | Comments (14)

November 08, 2003

BBC Movie poll

From the BBC: The votes have been counted, the nation has decided and Film 2003 can now announce the Worst Film Ever Top Ten.

  • Titanic
  • AI: Artificial Intelligence
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Vanilla Sky
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • Batman and Robin
  • The Avengers
  • Battlefield Earth
  • Eyes Wide Shut
  • Highlander II - The Quickening

I'm an agnostic; I haven't seen any of them. Feel free to agree/disagree as you like. Click the link to see voters' illuminating and snarky comments. (I'm not sure of the parameters here: I thought maybe they were all British films, but Pearl Harbor doesn't qualify, and neither do several others. I couldn't find the rules on the site.)

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:23 PM | Comments (11)

November 07, 2003

Military votes

The current issue of Washington Monthly has an article suggesting that the military and those around them may be moving from core Republican voters to swing status, mostly due to a perception that Iraq was poorly planned, is being poorly executed, and has no end. The author cites some numbers (mostly anecdotal, since there are apparently laws against political polling of military personnel):

...the consensus view seems to be that the military as a whole votes Republican by a margin of slightly less than 2-to-1, with enlisted men and women Republican by 3-to-2, and Republicans outnumbering Democrats among officers by 8-to-1.

When I was an enlisted man on active duty (1972-1974) I can't recall a single conversation about politics with the people I worked with; nearly every single person at my level only wanted "out," and didn't much care about which President and which Congress got them there. So I don't have an opinion about the enlisted voting breakdown cited above. On the officer side, though, I can attest to that breakdown being pretty accurate.

My father spent 31 years in the Navy, retiring as a Captain (Colonel, to you Army/AF/USMC readers). When I started paying attention to politics, he was a pretty senior officer. Part of being the boss meant you had to host parties once in a while, and I was often the bartender. It became pretty clear pretty quickly that my Mom and Dad were members of a small minority of FDR Democrats in the Navy, and it remained (and still remains) that way. We still maintain contact with many of the officers with whom Dad served, and they are unreservedly Republican. We get copies of the monthly magazines put out by the Military Officers Association and USAA, and the editorial stances taken are pretty much pro-Administration. The MOAA (formerly TROA--The Retired Officers Association) has a heavy lobbying presence in Washington; it works for benefits for vets and active duty personnel. On non-personnel issues, it leans heavily Republican, and the letters to the editor are nearly all of a conservative nature. When MOAA prints a story with a conflicting view, the letters are virtually all negative. USAA is a Fortune 500 company, and it leans Republican in part because of its commercial nature.

If the author has it right, it's potentially a large shift of active voters, but the Democrats have a long way to go in understanding military personnel and their particular needs and wants. There's a telling sidebar at the bottom of the article; a tale of two letters, you might say. John Edwards and Libby Dole each had to miss an appearance at a mobilization sendoff for some National Guard members in North Carolina; each regret letter was undoubtedly written by a staff member, but the one from Dole was effusive, while the one from Edwards was perfunctory. Respect is a big deal, and the Democrats need to figure it out in a hurry. If General Clark is nominated, or is offered a post in an incoming Democratic Administration, that would probably broaden the appeal quite a bit.

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

November 06, 2003

I'm in power--buy me!

I can't stand it. I gave the President the benefit of the doubt on stem-cell research, but not on this one. EPA plans to drop its investigations of 50 power plants for pollution violations. Cui bono? Well:

One career E.P.A. enforcement lawyer said the decision, coupled with the changes in the underlying rules, could mean that the utility industry could avoid making as much as $10 billion to $20 billion in pollution-control upgrades.
Who loses? Why, the rest of us. Got asthma? Emphysema? Too bad. Your health is far less important than the financial health of my campaign contributors, the President says. CalPundit has more.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:03 AM | Comments (2)

More science

The President said federal funds could be used to fund stem cell research on "more than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines," but there's been a lot of consternation about that number. Now it turns out there are only twelve lines.

"Many of the lines sanctioned by the president are not available," says Leonard Zon, president of the International Society of Stem Cell Research and a researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston . "Some of these lines have patent issues and some were never cell lines to begin with."

For once, I'm not going to accuse the President of intentionally hampering work which would anger his friends on the right; I suspect there was a definitional problem. Nonetheless, the situation is serious and has potentially damaging impact on research into various life-threatening maladies. He ought to reconsider.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2003

Science & religion don't mix

The Traditional Values Coalition has targeted NIH as its latest enemy in the culture wars. It seems to think it knows more about what sort of scientific research should be done than the scientists do, and it's created a list of "questionable" projects and forwarded that list to its Republican allies in the House.

The group's call for Justice Department intervention is the latest volley in an escalating war of words and actions in recent weeks between the Washington-based religious group and the NIH and its congressional and institutional supporters, who see the attack as part of a larger effort to foist conservative religious values on the federal scientific enterprise.


The agency is internationally renowned in part for its system of scientific peer review, in which committees of established scientists decide which grant proposals have the scientific and medical merit to deserve funding.

Naturally, the coalition's Republican friends also seem to think their scientific knowledge needs no enhancement, so they want to attach strings to NIH. Most of these studies pertain to human sexuality and the possibility of disease transmission, and are used to devise public health policy and strategy, but what the hell. The Christian thing to do is to condemn people to lives of sickness and worse, because "those people" aren't "our kind of people" anyway. Sometimes I think the Traditional Values Coalition might be happier living under sharia law in Teheran. Of course, that sort of belief is part of the reason why many Middle Eastern societies are economically and socially under-developed, but since the Coalition really wants to move American society back to, oh, 1950, not a problem, right?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:16 AM | Comments (8)

November 04, 2003



Edited to Add: Other notable events of the day can be found here. Growing up, the one historical event I always associated with my birthday was the exposure of The Gunpowder Plot in 1605, when a group of Catholic dissenters attempted to blow up the English Parliament with King James in attendance. Later events have overtaken that in historical standing, as you'll see if you click the first link.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:34 AM | Comments (23)

November 03, 2003

A Linkmeister book review

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, by Simon Winchester (The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed The World).

Absolutely fascinating. (Oh, more required? Ok, then.) Winchester tells the story of the volcanic explosion of Krakatoa, a six-cubic-mile island in the Sunda Straits, between Sumatra and Java (note: West of Java, not East, as the movie told you). It killed nearly 40,000 residents of coastal villages on both those islands, and was the first major disaster which occurred after the world had been interconnected by telegraph; the author makes a persuasive case that this was the first manifestation of that global village McLuhan talked about. He explains how the theory of tectonic plates came to be and who developed it, introducing the reader to a compelling cast of characters while not burying him/her in geologic strata. He doesn't dwell on the details of the disaster (despite the complaint of one reviewer at Amazon), but rather explains the impact of it on societies worldwide; did you know that volunteer firefighters in Poughkeepsie tried to find a fire which turned out to be a sunset? Or that the air shock wave circled the earth seven times? Those are just a couple of the things you'll find in here.

It's wonderfully readable and highly educational at the same time. Don't skip the footnotes; Winchester's got a wonderfully Puckish sense of humor, and those are where it's manifested.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)

November 02, 2003

LOTR madness

I saw this over at Solonor's place, and it needs whatever further dissemination I can give it. What if The Lord of the Rings had been written by someone other than J.R.R. Tolkien? Suggested authors include Douglas Adams, Poe, Lewis Carroll, James Joyce (shudder...Ulysses-style?), Hemingway, and on and on and on...

Go dip into it at random. Some entries hit the mark perfectly, some don't, but most are hilarious.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:01 PM | Comments (5)

November 01, 2003

Remembrance of things past

Back in January of 1974 I was on a month's leave from the Navy here at my parents' home in Hawai'i. I spent much of it excavating a hole in the side yard large enough to fit an aluminum-sided pool, and much of the rest of it waiting on the side of various roads to get into a gas station. The latter was caused by the 1973 Arab oil embargo, and it was about as frustrating a way to spend free time as I can remember.

What brings this up is my trip to the store today. I stopped at a gas station, only to learn that the place was out of gas! Unlike 30 years ago, there was no sign out front reading "No Gas," I suspect because it undoubtedly makes as much money from its attached convenience store as it does selling gas. Since the needle was nearly on "E," this was a small crisis. Fortunately, there were enough fumes left to get on down the road to the next nearest fuel dispenser, but it surely brought back memories.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:34 AM | Comments (5)