Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
May your 2004 be better than your 2003; if your 2003 was super, then be grateful and wish it well as it goes noisily off into the past.
Happy Birthday, Jen!
She's celebrating one of those thirtyish ones, so go over and wish her many happy returns.
Since I infected my Mom with my cold, we didn't have our traditional roast beast dinner at my sister's house till last night. We took our new DVD of Seabiscuit over there and watched it while gorging on prime rib, mashed potatoes, spinach, and Yorkshire pudding.
The movie was good after it got started, but it sure seemed to take its own sweet time telling the backstories of the three principals. Did anyone else feel that way?
This is the RF Modulator I picked up to connect the new DVD player to the old Magnavox TV. You'll have to connect the cable company's input cable to ANT-IN and a new separate cable to TV-OUT on the modulator. If you purchase one of these, be sure you get a short coaxial cable to connect it to the television, as it doesn't come with one. It gives you a good picture; the literature seems to suggest that a better picture may be gotten by using an S-Video cable to go from the DVD player to the modulator rather than the standard red, yellow, & white RCA plugs. I can't compare, but the standard looks ok to me, at least on a 13" screen.
Will no one rid me of this troublesome beast?
(Apologies to Henry II, if he never said it.)
The old catch-phrase was "batteries not included," right? The new one ought to be "unconnectible without yet another space-hogging box for the TV stand."
We have three televisions in this house. One is in the family room, one in the kitchen, and one in my bedroom. My sister and her husband bought us identical DVD players for two of them, and we got a third from someone else. Quite a surprise, and we were astonished and delighted. Delighted, that is, until it came time to plug them into the televisions. The one in the family room has multiple audio/video RCA plugs (good thing, because I got my Mom an MSN TV receiver, which also needs those plugs); the one in the kitchen is fitted only with a coaxial cable plug, so it won't accept the DVD players' RCA jacks. I guess this means I need some sort of intermediate gadget to go between the two devices. An RF modulator, maybe? Has anybody faced a similar problem? How do I solve this? Magnavox seems to think a model as old as this (1995, for cryin' out loud! Is that old?) isn't worthy of keeping in its product database on the web, so no joy from it.
Update: The gadget does seem to be an RF Modulator. Here's an example, but they're sold by a bunch of vendors, at prices ranging up from $19.99 or so. Anybody used one with an old television?
Note: This entry was originally published December 24, 2002. The photo is an addition, as is the final paragraph.
From the Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus?Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!
From The People's Almanac, pp. 1358-9.
Francis P. Church's editorial, "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" was an immediate sensation, and became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in the The New York Sun in 1897, almost a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.
Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O'Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:
"Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn't any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.
"It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, 'If you see it in the The Sun, it's so,' and that settled the matter.
" 'Well, I'm just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth,' I said to father.
"He said, 'Go ahead, Virginia. I'm sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does.' "
And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents' favorite newspaper.
Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer. Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, "Endeavour to clear your mind of cant." When controversial subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.
Now, he had in his hands a little girl's letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.
"Is there a Santa Claus?" the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply which was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.
Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in April, 1906, leaving no children.
Virginia O'Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master's from Columbia, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator. Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O'Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.
(Thanks to Barricks Insurance for the text.)
A footnote: The original letter Ms. O'Hanlon wrote appeared on The Antique Road Show a while back; I got the picture there. It was appraised at between $20,000 - $30,000.
Right click and take this little wreath. Link back to the site you took it from. Leave a message in the comments if you do it - I'd like to see where it goes!
Let's celebrate the holidays around the web!
I got mine from Neenie Claws.
Courtesy of Jon's Link of the Day, here's the most impressive compilation of year-in-review lists I've seen so far. From press stories to film, music to books, advertising to style, this one has it all. Better yet, he takes submissions for categories not yet listed.
'Tis the season for year-end lists, so here's one from American Medical News. Did you know that 18,000 doctors are also pilots? Or that the biggest US health problems are related to eating, drinking and smoking? Or that only two states have laws requiring doctors to write legible prescriptions? It's all here.
Then there's the list of Ten Worst PR blunders of the year, as judged by a San Francisco PR firm. Topping the list: Fox sues Franken, boosting his book's sales. Also included: the Pentagon's terrorism betting scheme, Tyco's birthday bash, and (of course) Michael Jackson's child molestation imbroglio.
My own Christmas list is getting shorter, but it still has more on it than I'd hoped to have by December 22. And along with that "difficulty," now I have a cold to go with it! Pass the Sudafed!
While briefly back from the malls/factory outlets/rapacious retailers (How 'bout them sales?), I chanced upon this site, a tribute (I think) to kittens, or Photoshop, or creativity, or something. Link snagged from Alicublog.
I'm in trouble. If I'm gonna fulfill my familial obligations (forty-eleven presents for each) I gotta get moving. So far I have at least one gift for everyone but my sister, and there's what, four days left? I may have to run off to an island to...oh, wait.
Derek Lowe tells us what the discriminating pharma research chemist needs for Christmas is a tie depicting a nasty virus. Yup, Ebola, polio, gonorrhea, and, showing you how quickly fashion markets react, SARS! They're all there, and if you forget what the designs represent, some of them are quite handsome. I'll stick to aloha attire, myself; I'd have to take a remedial course in tie-tying if I had to wear one.
Continuing the secrecy theme, today's WaPo has an article itemizing some of the more egregious examples of the White House "scrubbing" history from its website and that of other agencies. To wit:
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, administration Web sites have been scrubbed for anything vaguely sensitive, and passwords are now required to access even much unclassified information. Though it is not clear whether the White House is directing the changes, several agencies have been following a similar pattern. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID have removed or revised fact sheets on condoms, excising information about their effectiveness in disease prevention, and promoting abstinence instead. The National Cancer Institute, meanwhile, scrapped claims on its Web site that there was no association between abortion and breast cancer. And the Justice Department recently redacted criticism of the department in a consultant's report that had been posted on its Web site.
The most obnoxious example cited is probably the headliner: the initial forecast (on Nightline) that the reconstruction of Iraq would only cost US taxpayers $1.7B. It was made by Andrew Natsios, USAID Director, and it has been deleted from the White House website. Remember all those complaints about "revisionist history" emanating from Condi Rice and President Bush? This makes those claims seem a little, um, hypocritical, doncha think?
In this season of secret-keeping, here's a nasty tale.
I used to subscribe to US News and World Report. A while back I concluded that I didn't need three weekly newsmagazines, so I let the subscription lapse. (I also felt I really didn't need annual rankings of colleges, law schools, and hospitals, since I probably wasn't going to re-enter college, apply to law school, or use a hospital anywhere but here, and that seemed to be what US News was publishing more than anything else.)
Anyway, I haven't read the magazine very often in the past five years. The other day I found a link to a story in the current issue which describes the lengths to which the Bush Administration has been classifying and otherwise preventing information from reaching the public, information we have every right to know. It goes into great detail, and it goes well beyond the well-publicized instances most people know, like Cheney's meetings with his Energy Task Force. For example:
Four years ago, after news broke that failing Firestone tires on Ford SUVs had caused hundreds of deaths and many more accidents, Congress enacted a new auto and tire safety law. A cornerstone was a requirement that manufacturers submit safety data to a government early-warning system, which would provide clues to help prevent another scandal. Lawmakers backing the system wanted the data made available to the public. After the legislation passed, officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said they didn't expect to create any new categories of secrecy for the information; they indicated that key data would automatically be made public. That sparked protests from automakers, tire manufacturers, and others. After months of pressure, transportation officials decided to make vital information such as warranty claims, field reports from dealers, and consumer complaints--all potentially valuable sources of safety information--secret.
One would think the public should be informed about the potential danger its tires might present, or any customer complaints about dealers and their products.
Ok, that's auto safety. How about drinking water?
A public health and bioterrorism law enacted last year requires, among other things, that operators of local water systems study vulnerabilities to attack or other disruptions and draw up plans to address any weaknesses. Republicans and Democrats praised the measure, pushed by the Bush administration, as a prudent response to potential terrorist attacks. But there's a catch. Residents are precluded from obtaining most information about any vulnerabilities.
This wasn't always the case. In 1996, Congress passed several amendments to the Clean Water Act calling for "source water assessments" to be made of water supply systems. The idea was that the assessments, covering such things as sources of contamination, would arm the public with information necessary to push for improvements. Today, the water assessments are still being done, but some citizens' groups say that because of Bush administration policy, the release of information has been so restricted that there is too little specific information to act upon. They blame the Environmental Protection Agency for urging states to limit information provided to the public from the assessments. As a result, the program has been fundamentally reshaped from one that has made information widely available to one that now forces citizens to essentially operate on a need-to-know basis, says Stephen Gasteyer, a Washington specialist on water-quality issues. "People [are] being overly zealous in their enforcement of safety and security, and perhaps a little paranoid," he says. "So you're getting releases of information so ambiguous that it's not terribly useful."
How about airline security?
Under rules the Transportation Security Administration adopted last year--with no public notice or comment--the traveling public no longer has access to key government information on the safety and security of all modes of transportation. The sweeping restrictions go beyond protecting details about security or screening systems to include information on enforcement actions or effectiveness of security measures. The new TSA rules also establish a new, looser standard for denying access to information: Material can be withheld from the public, the rules say, simply if it's "impractical" to release it.
This is an Administration which has no qualms about hiding what it's doing. The article is filled with absolute denials of this activity, even when confronted with evidence. There's plenty more of that evidence cited; have a look. This is wrong. The government is ours, not the Administration's, and it has no right to hide what it's doing behind this secrecy.
Damn! Even William Safire agrees with me! "If "freedom" is the word Bush and Cheney want as the hallmark of their administration, they should begin with freedom of information."
I've given and gotten a lot of weird gifts over the years, none more so than a pachinko game and its pieces. On Christmas morning in 1969 I opened a carefully wrapped package and found a small but very heavy box inside; opening the box, I discovered about 100 spherical things which looked like ball bearings. I had no clue what this was, but being polite, I put it aside at the time. Then, after all the other gifts had been opened that morning, I was advised to look behind the chair in which I had been sitting (subtle, huh?). I duly did so, and this is what I found.
What was your weirdest gift?
If you're one of those who's numerically literate, now is your opportunity to aid a Berkeley Economics Professor. Brad DeLong is looking for math problems to help him infuse a love of the subject in his kids. So far he's got 23 problems defined, but he's lookin' for 100. I'm a dead loss at this. If it gets beyond "two trains are heading in opposite directions on the same track, one at 25mph and one at 75mph; what happens next?" I'm up the creek. I know some of you can do this stuff; go help the guy out. Failing that, just check out the existing 23 questions; some of them are funny as hell, and some are drawn from real-life experiences, or seem to be.
This is kinda nifty. My mouse (the computer one) died over the weekend. Copying a paragraph took about three minutes rather than two seconds, so I got ticked off and went out to get a new one. I came home with some off-label brand which has two buttons and a scroll wheel. After a morning of using this thingie, I'm asking myself how I ever got along without this wheel. Moving up and down a page is so much easier when it's just pushing/pulling a wheel, rather than finding the scroll bar on the screen. Not bad for $10. Oh, and it copies and pastes easily, too.
If it's Christmas season, it's time for me to break out my Mannheim Steamroller CDs. The first one, Christmas, released in 1984, is probably my favorite, although A Fresh Aire Christmas isn't far behind. The latter adds brass to the ensemble, which is nearly always a good thing. I'm not very familiar with much New Age material, but I like this.
How does the US House of Representatives do its work, and when does it get done? Well...
Never before has the House of Representatives operated in such secrecy:
At 2:54 a.m. on a Friday in March, the House cut veterans benefits by three votes.
At 2:39 a.m. on a Friday in April, the House slashed education and health care by five votes.
At 1:56 a.m. on a Friday in May, the House passed the Leave No Millionaire Behind tax-cut bill by a handful of votes.
At 2:33 a.m. on a Friday in June, the House passed the Medicare privatization and prescription drug bill by one vote.
At 12:57 a.m. on a Friday in July, the House eviscerated Head Start by one vote.
And then, after returning from summer recess, at 12:12 a.m. on a Friday in October, the House voted $87 billion for Iraq.
Always in the middle of the night. Always after the press had passed their deadlines. Always after the American people had turned off the news and gone to bed.
What did the public see? At best, Americans read a small story with a brief explanation of the bill and the vote count in Saturday's papers.
But what did the public miss? They didn't see the House votes, which normally take no more than 20 minutes, dragging on for as long as an hour as members of the Republican leadership trolled for enough votes to cobble together a majority.
They didn't see GOP leaders stalking the floor for whoever was not in line. They didn't see Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay coerce enough Republican members into switching their votes to produce the desired result.
In other words, they didn't see the subversion of democracy.
Link from Scott.
Goodness me. The Pepys Project is very near to tipping the scales at 3,000 blogs. See, obesity is not limited to Americans! Quoting the proprietor:
The Pepys Project - still the smallest, most lame looking, lovingly maintained index of blogs on the internet - is approaching the big Three-Oh.
3000 entries are a mere 43 submissions away, and I don't know what I'll do but I'll do something ultraspiffilicious* for the person who submits site #3000.
C'mon, fess up!
On the Today show this morning, they had a brief interview with the curator (conservator? whatever) of the NY Botanical Gardens. The reason he was worthy of such an honor was simple; the Gardens are doing a Holiday Garden and Train Show, with replicas of city buildings made of flowers and trains encircling them. It was both beautiful and amazing to see.
More culture: a new theory posits that Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream" was prompted by the effects of the Krakatoa explosion. Could be, could be. The theorists suggest that the site where Munch stood when he drew his first sketch is one where the skies would have been affected, and here's a journal entry Munch wrote in 1893:
"All at once the sky became blood-red . . . clouds like blood and tongues of fire hung above the blue-black fjord and the city . . . and I stood alone, trembling with anxiety . . . I felt a great unending scream piercing through nature."
Unfortunately, the original Sky and Telescope article where the theory is first published is buried in the magazine's fee-based archives. Someday I'll rant about articles of public interest which should be exempted from the fee-only model.
Senator Paul Simon passed away Tuesday. I thought of him the same way I did Paul Tsongas; both were principled men who tried hard to do the right thing.
They worked within a political system which has increasingly become one of TV ads, interviews with pundits, and soundbites. Howard Dean seems to be attempting to escape that system, and Jay Rosen has some thoughts about that and what impact it might have for political journalism. Rosen is a press critic who's interested in "the ideas about journalism that journalists work within, and those they feel they can work without. I try to discover the consequences in the world that result from having the kind of press we do."
In his article Rosen calls this article the most definitive one yet on the Dean phenomenon; I linked to it back here. I'm inclined to agree with him; it sure does more to explain it than anything the NYT or WaPo have yet produced. Rosen thinks "Big Media" (my phrase) hasn't yet figured it out. It's a good essay, and if you're interested in politics and how journalists cover it, I recommend it.
The New Scientist can be a joy to read. For example, if you don't like new things in life, your life expectancy may be diminished. Also, Homer was right; men really are irrational enough to risk entire kingdoms for beauty. Apparently Helen was more rational than Paris. Damn, imagine the loss to literature had the Trojan War not been fought.
I'd dearly love to see this: the new annex to the National Air and Space Museum has just opened. I haunted the museums in DC one summer in high school, and Air and Space on the Mall was one of my favorites. This new one is huge. A 760,057-square-foot hangar? Whew! It contains a Concorde, a shuttle prototype, and an early 707, among other things, and there's a shuttle bus back and forth to the other Smithsonian museums downtown.
As flu season arrives, weather.com visitors can stay one step ahead of the virus by accessing local flu reports within the site's Health section, located here. You can always get there from here by clicking my "Home" button; I've got a weather.com button for my neighborhood over there.
Go listen to The Grinch's True End. Go now. If you aren't grinning from ear-to-ear by the time it's done, you too qualify as (gasp!) a Grinch.
It was raining buckets an hour ago; just the right sort of weather for this. I got this pernicious thing for Christmas last year; it is currently spread out all over my kitchen table. It's guaranteed to drive you crazy, but it might be just right for a snowy day (hear that, New Englanders?).
Well, this should make for some good arguments (click "Top Story," if it doesn't automatically appear). What the hell do the voters know about college football's best team? Not enough, apparently; despite getting blown out by Kansas State yesterday, Oklahoma remains number one in the BCS standings and will meet LSU in the "national championship" Sugar Bowl. USC is ranked number one by both the coaches and the writers, but the computers felt their strength of schedule wasn't tough enough to overcome Oklahoma's. What a farce. As if Schwarzenegger wasn't enough, now California gets this?
Back in August I went to the Arizona Memorial for the first time; it's an incredibly moving experience. 62 years ago today, not 3 miles from here, the events described below took place.
Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounded determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.
I went out and picked up our Christmas tree today. For at least 15 years we have been buying one from Habilitat, a local addiction-treatment program. (Click on the What's New button to see the Christmas selection; click on Products to see music and books). It seems very incongruous to pick up a Christmas tree in early December from a bunch of guys wearing t-shirts, all the while wearing one myself, but there you are. I should point out that this tree is the "family" tree, the one with all the old stuff on it. I wrote about this distinction in more detail here.
We used to string lights outside along the roof-frame, but we've gotten lazy (and besides, my brother-in-law's whacking great boat fills up half the driveway, so it would block the view of the lights anyway). Now we put a mailbox cover on the box and we place the tree in a room partially visible to the joggers on the street through the mini-blinds. It ain't quite the same as the lights Patti wrote about here, but...
Who else decorates their house?
This is the best radio lead-in I've ever heard (from C-SPAN):
"And now, keeping the pot stirred so the scum won't rise to the top, the Arnie Arneson Show!"
She does a mid-day talk show on WKXL in Concord, NH.
Bobby Kennedy Jr., now an attorney representing the Natural Resources Defense Council, was on Fresh Air Thursday, discussing his recent article in Rolling Stone. Then Terry Gross had Charli Coon of the Heritage Foundation on to rebut Mr. Kennedy's assertion that "George W. Bush will go down in history as America's worst environmental president." Her rebuttal? Environmentalists are alarmists. "I'm a conservative. I breathe air. I drink water." Therefore, I guess, we're all on the same side, huh? Don't think so, Ms. Coon.
Kennedy cites chapter and verse (and history, going back to Reagan's appointments of James Watt at Interior and Anne Gorsuch at EPA), but he really gets exercised about the current Administration.
Bush's Environmental Protection Agency has halted work on sixty-two environmental standards, the Food and Drug Administration has stopped work on fifty-seven standards. The EPA completed just two major rules -- both under court order and both watered down at industry request -- compared to twenty-three completed by the Clinton administration and fourteen by the Bush Sr. administration in their first two years.For a more complete analysis of what Bush has done (or, just as importantly, not done), go here. NRDC has compiled quite a list of quiet actions taken by various government agencies to curtail enforcement of existing laws and roll back others.
All of that activity is hotly denied by the likes of Ms. Coon and her employer, of course; said employer and others like it, unfortunately, seem to be losing whatever intellectual honesty they once had. Read this article about the American Enterprise Institute, for example, and you'll see just how far down the partisanship road it's drifted, far away from its earlier roots as an independent policy analysis shop.
Yesterday was "assault the environment day" for the Bush Administration. It was manifested in several announcements: we'll all have the opportunity to ingest more mercury. Think of that lovely silvery material gliding gently down your throat! Ain't life grand?
Then, when we want to get away from the mercury, we can go to all those newly-cleared forests; they'll be cleared because those pesky environmentalists won't be allowed to tie logging companies up in court anymore ("it limits appeals and directs judges to act quickly on legal challenges to logging plans").
I'm so proud of President Bush, standing up to those stupid people. How dare they stand in the way of progress for Weyerhauser, Pacific Timber, and all those other fine upstanding American companies out to
make a buck save the forests by clear-cutting them?
Yessiree bob, it's a great day to be an American!
I had a recent to-and-fro with Scott in Raye's comments, regarding my misunderstanding of what sort of housing units are in the Bronx. I'd somehow thought that all of NYC consisted of high-rise apartment buildings; Scott said "not so!" It got me to wondering, just how many misconceptions do people have about where I live? For starters:
And so on. What misconceptions do all of us who don't live there have about your home?
In another example of the peculiar brand of ethics the Bush Administration admires, the guy who was in the middle of negotiating the Medicare bill with Congress is about to take a job with a company which may directly benefit from one of the many deals cut in those negotiations. He discussed his position with the HHS ethics office and received a waiver, but
Experts on the federal ethics law said they could not judge the propriety of Mr. Scully's actions without knowing the terms of the waiver, which have not been made public.
Mr. Scully said that after consulting with the ethics officer he saw no reason to disqualify himself from work on the legislation or on regulations that affected clients of the five firms. (My emphasis).
Well, we'll never know, now will we? One of the firms he's identified just happens to be Ropes & Gray. That company (surprise!) represents the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the main lobby for the brand-name drug industry. Well, gosh. PhRMA fought hard and successfully to keep the government from having the right to negotiate drug prices in the Medicare bill. I'm not suggesting a job offer would be a reward for keeping that provision out of the bill, but it sure as hell could look that way.
I'm well aware of the revolving door between government and lobbyists. I don't see a way around it, and in some respects I suppose it has value to each entity. But this case is one where it doesn't pass a smell test. Maybe we need to re-introduce civics and ethics classes into schools at the secondary level. Had they taken one, it might have taught the CEOs of Tyco, Enron, WorldCom and all the others a little more about honesty.
A local high school is discussing banning cellphones in classrooms. To show you how little I know, the first thing I thought of was the noise of the ringers, but no. What the school teachers and administrators are worried about is possible text-messaging of test answers or even photographing the test questions. My goodness; I may still have shoes with answers scribbled on the soles!
If you've got electronic gizmos on your Christmas list, here's a buying guide from the WaPo. It includes games, MP3s, digicams, WiFi, computers, handhelds and DVD players.
If you're a close observer, you'll see that the Blogshares button is gone from the right side of this page; that's because Blogshares is no more. It got to be too much for one person to take care of, it seems. If you've still got a button up...
Off to get an oil leak in the car repaired, hopefully inexpensively.
On World Aids Day I have little to add to what Alwin Hawkins says:
There is no cure for AIDS, and it is not a 'chronic illness' like asthma or diabetes. It kills, and it takes other people down who are unlucky enough to come in intimate contact with it. And the fact that the number of reported cases are rising - and being reported at later stages of the infection - should scare the living shit out of you.
It sure as hell scares the hell out of me.
Yeah, me too. And he's talking to and about Americans, who ought to know more about this disease than the citizens of, say, sub-Saharan Africa, India, Thailand, or any of the other places in the world which have seen their infection rates skyrocket. There are citizens of this country who seem to think that anti-retrovirals are a damned vaccine (they're not) and that they can have unprotected sex with impunity (they can't). Complacency kills.