April 30, 2004

Truth in broadcasting

You may have heard that Nightline is going to devote its program this evening to a simple roll call of the dead in Iraq, and that Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns 62 tv stations, 8 of which are ABC affiliates, has decided to pre-empt the program. Sinclair thinks Nightline's airing of this tribute is a political act meant to undermine the Iraq war effort. I'll leave it to you to decide whether you agree or not; I'll merely point out that Sinclair has been a heavy contributor to the Republican party.

Anyway, one of my favorite satirists has aimed his arrows at this particular news item. It's very funny.

Update: This issue has been all over the blogosphere, but the best and most moving essay I've read can be found here.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:54 PM | Comments (2)


What do categorizing burger-making as manufacturing and counting farmed salmon as wild have in common? Why, they make the Administration look better. Yup. If all those hamburgers are counted as output from a manufacturing process, then there's barely any loss of that kind of job at all during the Bush Administration's term of office. Similarly, if you count hatchery fish as wild, then there's tons of salmon, so they're not endangered, so the Bush Administration doesn't have to regulate the farming, logging and power industry's impact on those fisheries. Gosh, do you suppose all the folks in those industries might contribute and vote for BC04?

Fuzzy math, indeed.

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

April 29, 2004

Unwanted analysis

I love it when some putative ex-liberal tries to explain the liberal "program" to his new-found friends.

The first thing you must realize is that liberals have a program. They are visionaries. They envision a world in which everyone controls the same amount of resources. Nobody is born to privilege or disadvantage; or, if anyone is, it is swiftly neutralized by the state.

He engages in psychoanalysis without a license: "Liberals, unlike conservatives, are zealous." (My emphasis) That would explain how liberals persuaded President Bush that his tax cuts needed to be broadly applied, I suppose. And he concludes:

Without power, their egalitarianism is mere fantasy. But conservatives should be careful not to dismiss it as such, for liberals have demonstrated that they will do whatever it takes to secure and retain power. We saw it in the case of Robert Bork. We saw it in the case of Bill Clinton. We see it in the case of war in Iraq. To the liberal, the end justifies the means. Take it from me, a former liberal.
Right. That's why we've now learned that the current Administration was hell-bent to go to war in Iraq, to the point of lying to Congress and the American people. Remember Wolfowitz's remark about the existence of WMD's being "the one reason everyone could agree on"? If that's not an example of ends justifying means...

Well now; isn't it fun to read such material from such a well-placed man? The author "is Associate Professor of Philosophy at The University of Texas at Arlington, where he teaches courses in Logic, Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, and Philosophy of Law." So much for the gibberish about conservatives being unwelcome in academia.

Lest you think I ordinarily cruise Tech Central Station, I want to say that I get their E-letter unsolicited, and it's like a car crash; I have to go look once in a while.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2004


Mamma mia! I thought this only happened in idiotic American school systems, but now Italy is planning to eliminate the teaching of evolution in its secondary schools.

Italian children, argues Moratti [Minister of education, universities, and research], would not understand such a complex subject at that age. She added that evolutionary biology will be taught in high schools, according to "gradual teaching criteria."
As you might expect, the citizenry, including Nobel laureates, is up in arms.
Fearing the measure will pave the way for creationist teaching, more than 40,000 citizens—and the number is still increasing—have subscribed a petition launched last week by some of the country's top scientists through the daily La Repubblica.
Will this madness ever end?

Posted by Linkmeister at 05:16 PM | Comments (1)

Pay up!

I used to live in Japan, not just on the Navy base where I was stationed but "on the economy," as we used to say. However, it didn't help me understand the culture very well. Remember those three Japanese citizens who were held hostage in Iraq? They are not exactly being lionized in their home country.

TOKYO — Three Japanese who were held hostage for a week in Iraq were billed about $7,000 each to cover their plane tickets home and other expenses, an official said Monday.

The three returned April 15 amid a storm of criticism that they had behaved recklessly by going to a country that Japan had warned civilians to avoid.

More of the "if you're a nail, you'll be hammered down" way of life in that country, I guess.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:04 PM | Comments (3)

April 27, 2004

Calling Ida Tarbell

Anybody wonder why the press failed to cover all those anti-war rallies a year ago? Why it expressed so little skepticism about the Iraq invasion? Ask no more; David Ignatius of the WaPo explains all.

In a sense, the media were victims of their own professionalism. Because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldn't create a debate on our own.

That's it. No important political figure raised strong objections, so they didn't think it was their place to do so.

What bleeping "journalistic rules?" Holy dear mother of Gutenberg, you lazy bastards, there were several members of the upper military classes (General Zinni, for one; remember him?) saying the idea was terrible! There were a million people marching in the streets! But no, their misgivings apparently weren't worth the shoe leather they expended.

Folks, if we're counting on the press corps for honest sensible investigative reporting on anything other than scandal, we're on our own.

Link lifted from Brad DeLong, who got it from The Daily Howler.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:29 PM | Comments (4)

April 26, 2004


I have a few thoughts on outsourcing. I've seen it done on a small scale, and the biggest problem we had with it was the immediate loss of control of the work being shifted to others. I was working for a social/health club which had four public floors, three parking levels, and one floor of rental office space. One of the floors had a restaurant, and another had a lounge.

Our restaurant had done a steady business serving lunch and dinner (American staple food, nothing fancy), and our bar did a pretty good business. Then the owner got the idea that it should be concessionaired to a guy who ran a fancy French restaurant here. He changed the entire menu to French cuisine; the sales went from $100K/month to $60K/month; he got his 12% of the gross, and the club members were not happy. Since the contract was for a year at least, there was nothing the club could do about it. The concessionaire was getting paid no matter what happened to sales, so he had no real incentive (and no interest, professionally, it seemed) to go back to the style of food we'd been serving. The owner felt that the contract should run its course, and it did, but it took a long time to recover from that episode (if it ever has; I left the place after nine years and haven't seen the books since).

The same thing happened with maintenance. The owner decided that it would be cheaper to hire a professional building maintenance company to come in and keep the hallways, locker rooms, and public spaces clean. This sounded okay but turned out not to be. When some sort of cleaning emergency came up (spills somewhere, walls gouged and needing immediate paint, an accident in a bathroom) the cleaning team was either a) nowhere to be found or b) "not scheduled" to clean that area right now. There was this constant irritation that the place didn't look as good as it could and should, because the crews reported to their own bosses, not to anyone in-house.

I'm not trying to be Pollyanna here. The genie is out of the bottle, the horse has left the barn, the fat lady has sung. My story is anecdotal, and I know that it's a small sample, but I wonder how long it's going to take for some of these companies that send work offshore to have the same sort of aggravation.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)


Hmm. The Word of the Day from Dictionary.com sounds vaguely vulgar.

lucubration \loo-kyoo-BRAY-shun; loo-kuh-\, noun:

But wait! Not at all! In fact, it would appear that Abe Lincoln practiced it!

  1. The act of studying by candlelight; nocturnal study; meditation.
  2. That which is composed by night; that which is produced by meditation in retirement; hence (loosely) any literary composition.

Okay, so the "Lincoln studying in his log cabin by candelight" story might be apocryphal, or (worse) spin, but it seems to fit the first definition.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2004

Book review

Philip Gourevitch's We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families about the Rwanda genocide is horrific. It's also an indictment of the UN, the US, the French, and "Western Civilization" in general, not excluding the media and its insistence on "even-handedness." Gourevitch quotes an NYT article (obviously no hyperlinks in a book) describing

a Hutu refugee maimed in an attack by Tutsi soldiers, and a Tutsi refugee maimed by Hutu Power militias, as "victims in an epic struggle between two rival ethnic groups" in which "no one's hands are clean." The impression created by such reports is that because victims on either side of the conflict suffer equally, both sides are equally insupportable.

Gourevitch reports that that is by no means true. The Hutu government exhorted its Hutu followers to murder Tutsis wherever they were found, and they did so, to the tune of roughly 800,000 dead in 100 days. Then, when the Rwandese Patriotic Front began to push back, the murderers themselves fled into neighboring countries where refugee camps were set up, and passed themselves off as victims rather than killers. The governments and NGOs didn't quite understand this, so the killers were not recognized and called to justice. When repatriation finally occurred, these men were still armed; they remained so when they went back to Rwanda. They remain outside the law, and small-scale conflict is still going on.

It's an extraordinary book; I recommend it.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:39 PM | Comments (1)

April 24, 2004

Caveat Lector

Or, "reader beware." (I had to look it up). If you read the Op/Ed pages of your local paper, you may occasionally see guest editorials about a hot-button issue signed by someone who has impeccable academic credentials. Trouble is, those columns are often written by PR firms and sent to the professor for transmittal on to the paper. This practice seems a tad unethical to me, and to a fair number of other folks in the academic world as well. (Here's the column that appeared in the WaPo about this practice; it's a shorter version of the one previously referenced).

Landsberger says he doesn't know who actually wrote his column. He received it, via e-mail, from an employee at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. (Landsberger emphasized that he believed the employee, whom he wouldn't name, sent him the column as a private citizen, rather than on behalf of the national lab.) Nor was this the first time; when it comes to deceiving newspaper readers on behalf of a stealth nuclear lobbying campaign, Landsberger is an acknowledged recidivist. "I've been doing this four or five years," he says. "They [op-ed columns] come from Oak Ridge maybe two or three times a year, particularly when there's a hot-button issue."
Makes you think; if the nuclear power boys are doing this, who else is? From the research that's been done so far, it appears that this practice has been going on since 1977.

I'm gonna look a little more closely at the guest authors in my local papers from now on.

Found via the blogger formerly known as Calpundit.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:23 PM | Comments (2)


It is well known that a deadly warship of antiquity, the trireme, a fast galley powered by three banks of rowers pulling up to 200 oars, played a crucial role in the fierce battles. Its bronze ram could smash enemy ships, and armed soldiers could leap aboard a foe's vessel in hand-to-hand combat with swords and spears, an innovation that merged land and sea tactics in a bloody new form of combat.

Yet no wreck of a trireme has ever come to light, and questions abound about the ship's design and operation, leaving much room for scholarly debate and wishful thinking.


Last year, the team, working off Mount Athos in the northern Aegean, found tantalizing hints of what may be the first of five sunken fleets. Next month, the experts plan to return to the site and survey the seabed for the remains of ancient ships, arms and armor. Especially, they hope to find the bronze rams from trireme bows, which are considered more likely than wood to have survived ages of neglect.

Check out the graphic, too. It's got a nice cross-section view of what the trireme is thought to have looked like. I think this was the inspiration for the rowing scene in Ben Hur.

I could get up for an Aegean vacation, couldn't you?

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

April 23, 2004

RSS Feed, Part 2 (or 3)

If you got here this morning, you may have noticed that there was a notice on the left sidebar saying "Please remove this feed;" the guy that runs the feed I'd been using had bandwidth problems, and he also felt that Google has expressed some discomfort at having its newsfeeds taken, so he quit. I had to find another source or toss the idea altogether, and I found RSS Express from the UK. I wonder how long it will be before they go dark? I picked Yahoo's top stories because they're dynamic; I thought of the Christian Science Monitor's feed, but it doesn't change as often.

You may be wondering why I don't use Movable Type's RSS Plug-in. Simple. Have you looked at those instructions? That's work!

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Pepys Service Announcement

If you haven't yet done so, please add your location and price per gallon to the Gas Price Map below.

From the estimable Cooties:

I have some news for you regarding the Pepys Project: it's obsolete.

In its place I've created 'Pepys Project II' (it took me *weeks* to come up with that ingenious name). This baby is faster and stronger, and consumes a fraction of the resources.

As I can't convert the old database, I'm extending an invitation to all 3500 of you to add your URL. It also allows me to weed out the garbage left over the past two years.

The Big Changes:

  • its own domain (no! really!): www.pepysproject.org

  • personal blogs/diaries/journals only, though group blogs for a specific region will also be accepted

  • now done in PHP4 and MySQL; faster, smaller and even more cheerful.

  • new '5 Pepys' rating system (much better than the old fashioned 5-star system, wouldn't you agree?)

  • can now translate main pages into 4 other languages (more as time permit)

  • ability for visitors to report dead links

  • 'Editor's Picks' for those special blogs I'd like to bring to your attention

  • no more late night rebuilds.

  • PHP rocks!

When you have a moment, please add your blog/diary/journal to the index - remember to include your city, or at the very least your state.

Thank you all for the past two years and the success of the original Pepys Project. Because of traffic, I'll leave the old version running until it dwindles down to nothing.

formerly of Pepys I.
now of Pepys II.
and of course, Cooties.

If you have a Pepys Project button on your sidebar, don't forget to change the URL it points to. Oh, and type your blog description carefully; at the moment there's no way to modify it if you screw up.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:20 PM | Comments (2)

April 21, 2004

Gas Price Map

I found another map software script besides Bravenet, so I'll add it to the sidebar. It doesn't have the pretty push-pin icons that Bravenet offers; it has little (very little) dots, but it's representative.

Gas Price Map

If you haven't responded yet, add your location and price per gallon.

You folks who've already responded below, I've added your locations to the map. If I'm too far off, I'm sorry, but I don't think the dots can be edited.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:40 PM | Comments (8)

April 20, 2004

Neurological news

Don't forget to participate in my gas price survey. If Bravenet ever gets its act together, I hope to have a gas price map up soon. (The map wants IE6.0, but they have a bug which causes my proprietary Yahoo browser to fail; I pointed out to them that backward compatibility was a good thing, so hopefully they're trying to resolve the issue). Nope, they don't give a rip. "Sorry, the Guestmap service is pushing the limits of technology. You must use the latest version of IE. I tested your Guestmap and it worked fine." Oh-kay; I'll see who else offers an interactive map, then.

Hmm. As someone in this article says, "It's putting science into political science." Does your brain react differently to political commercials depending on which party you belong to?

Here's some more brain news: Curry favor with it. Yup, "Curry triggers an enzyme known as hemeoxygenase-1 or HO-1, which protects cells from free radical damage that causes inflammation and tissue damage -- the root of various diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease..."

Expect more tandoori shops to open soon.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:06 PM | Comments (3)

April 19, 2004

Gas Price Survey

In light of tonight's revelation on 60 Minutes that in order to help President Bush the Saudis agreed to cut oil prices before the US election this November, let's do a survey: 10 days ago I paid $2.09/gallon for regular unleaded. What's the gas price where you live?

We'll do another survey six months from now to see if the Saudis kept their word.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (14)

April 18, 2004

Sports calendar Hawai'i

Current and upcoming events here include, besides the Merrie Monarch Festival, the Pacific Alliance Gymnastics Championships, which ended last night (see here for results), the Honolulu Triathlon, and the Hawaii World Invitational Lion Dance Championship next month. The winners of the Triathlon lock up two of six spots (male and female) for the Olympics this summer; the gymnasts are expected to be among the frontrunners at the Olympic trials later this year. If you've never seen lion dance, it's a sight. This is not your "one guy in the head and seven in the body dance around the street" sort of stuff; it's leaping from pedestal to pedestal, ten feet or so above ground. It's amazing. Here's a site with some pictures and video.

A good month for sports, I'd say.

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

April 17, 2004


Imagine you're sitting in a parking space at the local shopping center before getting out to go to the ATM. You're listening to Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me, and you're paying more attention to the last joke than you are to the cars around you. You don't notice that a car has pulled up on your left. The jokes end, the show goes to a break, and you get out of the car to grab your cash from the wall dispenser. As you open up the door and stand up, you see, not six inches from you, the large and furry head of a black Chinese Chow-Chow extending out the passenger window of the car to your left. Do you

  • emit a loud yelp
  • reach out to pat the dog
  • quickly step back into your car, or
  • none of the above?

What a beautiful dog! He had the characteristic ruff around the neck, and a very steady look at me as I carefully sidled out between my car and his. Unfortunately, he didn't open his mouth, so I couldn't verify how blue-black his tongue was.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2004

Hula Fest

Jennifer OyamaIt's Merrie Monarch time again. This is the biggest event in hula, and it happens every year. It's held in Hilo's Edith Kanaka'ole Tennis Stadium, which has limited seating, and tickets are sold out a year ahead of the event. Someday I hope to go see it.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:32 AM | Comments (5)

April 15, 2004

Journals of a different color

If medical journals aren't your reading material of choice, you could always try baseball blogs. Josh Levin has a nice article about them in Slate. My only gripe is that Josh doesn't mention Baseball Musings, which is a great place to start your baseball day. Trivia note: the least covered team is the Colorado Rockies, while the one with the most words expended on it is (surprise) the Red Sox, followed closely by the Cubs.

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

Medical journal news

Since health-related data seem to be high on the list of things searched for on the 'Net, here are a couple of items which might be germane.

If you've ever wanted to read an article from a scientific journal but been frustrated because your library doesn't subscribe, this article may interest you. It discusses the business models journals are using and ones they may be moving toward, because they recognize that subscription costs have become nearly prohibitive for many public libraries. "According to the Assn. of Research Libraries, prices for serial publications -- including academic journals, newspapers and magazines -- increased 215% from 1986 to 2001, while the consumer price index went up 62%."

Similarly, Medscape is celebrating the fifth birthday of its open-access general journal this year.

Most medical research articles published in the United States, and many articles published in other developed countries, result from research funded by the government, often the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). We believe (and one of us [GDL] has argued for many years) that it is inappropriate for a reader in such a developed country whose tax money has paid for the research to have to pay again to read the results of such research by having to buy a subscription to the journal that publishes them. For government-funded research to be unavailable for application in the field of public health because of financial constraints seems particularly at odds with the intent of the US Congress in funding the NIH. This idea, open-access publishing, was expressed in a speech at a conference at Harvard on the Internet and Public Health in 2000, and was supported editorially by The Boston Globe.[2]

The Medscape article lists several other sources for free journals, in case you're in need of them.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2004

The ultimate flip-flop...

From Amazing Grace: "I once was lost, but now I'm found. Was blind, but now I see."

Try that out the next time you hear someone tell you that that secular Frenchman John Kerry flip-flops.

What are the odds that the guy who caught Barry Bonds' 660th home run would also catch the 661st?

Oy. Anyone up for Margaret Thatcher's Greatest Hits? It's only available via the web. The shop which sells it has closed its only brick-and-mortar location; according to its owner, as heard on CBC's As It Happens, the congestion charge in London (5 pounds a day to drive into the city) has reduced traffic but also significantly eaten into his walk-in trade. Gosh, I wonder how many other small specialty shops have closed for the same reason? I'd hate that; I loved walking around London the two times I've been there.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:33 PM | Comments (2)

April 13, 2004

Iraq revisited

I haven't commented on the mess in Iraq, mostly because there are a lot of other folks doing so, and adding my voice to the crowd seemed pointless. If you want good analysis, go see Professor Cole; for a more angry look at it, try Billmon. If you're not sure you believe what you hear from CENTCOM (I'm old enough to remember the crap that came out of what was called The Five O'Clock Follies in Vietnam) and would rather read some facts from the ground, try Riverbend and Zayed. If you want to know how other Iraqis see it, use the links at the latter two sites. Josh Marshall is in e-mail touch with a civilian contractor over there; his (the contractor's) view is pretty dark.

A year ago I said this was the wrong war. I hate being proved right about such a thing, but it looks like I have been. There's plenty of blame to go around, but it starts at the top and moves right down to Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Libby and all their sycophants like David Brooks, Bill Kristol, and all those other folks who thought war against a country which had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of September 11 was a good idea. Now the United States is, if anything, even more fervently hated by the Islamic world than it had been a year ago, more estranged from our former allies, and deeply imbedded in a country which doesn't want us there. If we invade Najaf, we may see the equivalent of September 11 once a month. I've heard the city called "The Shi'a Vatican;" imagine what would happen if the Pope's home was invaded by an army from Syria or Egypt.

We've found no WMDs, installed no democracy in Iraq, put one murderous tin-pot dictator who was no threat to us in custody, and we have ~650 dead Americans, another ~3,500 wounded, God knows how many dead Iraqis, and a whole slew of brand-new recruits to the cause of America's destruction. That cause, by the way, was led by Osama bin Laden, in case you've forgotten; last I looked, he wasn't in custody or anywhere close to it.

Well done, Mr. President.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:31 PM | Comments (3)

April 12, 2004

Don't do that!

First it was a tape of Justice Scalia's public speech being confiscated. (He has since apologized). Now Abbott Labs is pressuring gay magazines not to print ads parodying Abbott's PR campaign justifying a 400% price increase for an AIDS drug. The First Amendment only counts for the big guys, and only when they want it to, I guess.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:50 PM | Comments (3)

April 11, 2004


Happy Easter, everybody, particularly to Jen, who has returned to blogging from her tax-season-induced hiatus, and to Phil Mickelson, who won The Masters today. He finally gets that "best player never to have won a major" tag off his back, and good for him (even if he is an Arizona State grad).

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2004


My award for most incongruous sight of the past year or so goes to (drumroll):

The grungy, wooden-topped rent-a-tables with cages of live bunny rabbits set in the middle of the mall at Ala Moana Center, directly in front of the entrance to Gucci.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

You live where?

I heard Great Neck, New York mentioned on the radio yesterday, and it got me to thinking about unusual place names. I'm familiar with some of these from Arizona: Snowflake, (The name honors the community’s two founders, a Mr. Snow and a Mr. Flake), Christmas, Tombstone (been there), Two Guns, Double Adobe, Carefree (Hugh Downs used to live there), and Show Low. Hawai'i has many names which look odd to the Mainlander but not to the resident; I'm not familiar with any that would strike anyone from here as peculiar, but I'm willing to be corrected.

Got any funky names in your neighborhood?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:22 AM | Comments (6)

April 09, 2004

Riced, not mashed

Doctor Rice's testimony is being dissected, trisected, folded, mutilated, and, most of all, spun all over the place today. This analysis from the LA Times (try bselig/bselig as registration) seems closest to what I think about it.

...the portrait of Bush and his closest aides that emerged from her testimony, while acquitting them of ignoring the warnings, left an image of leaders detached from the practical challenges of mounting a defense.


Though the still-classified memo was entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States," Rice said, "This was not a threat report to the president or a threat report to me. If there was any reason to believe that I needed to do something or that [Chief of Staff] Andy Card needed to do something, I would have been expected to be asked to do it. We were not asked to do it," Rice said.

Asked by whom? Good grief, woman, you're the National Security Adviser; are you not supposed to recommend action? Remember when the word the Bush Administration most liked was Bold?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:57 PM | Comments (3)

April 08, 2004

Even then, opportunists

Were cats domesticated as early as 9,500 years ago? A new discovery in Cyprus seems to show that the beasties were pets some 4,000 years earlier than previously thought. So the manipulation may have begun that early? National Geographic teaches me a new phrase, too: "commensal domesticates." The phrase describes animals like mice, rats, sparrows, and early dogs, among others, that weren't raised by people but nonetheless were attracted to human habitations. Somebody on NPR described this phenomenon this way: "OK. You have food. Vermin like your food. I like vermin as food. Guess I'll hang out here for a while."

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:04 PM | Comments (3)

Who's minding the store?

Former counterterrorism officials said at least half a dozen [of their former colleagues] have left the White House Office for Combating Terrorism or related agencies in frustration in the 2 1/2 years since the attacks.

Some also left because they felt President Bush had sidelined his counterterrorism experts and paid almost exclusive heed to the vice president, the defense secretary and other Cabinet members in planning the "war on terror," former counterterrorism officials said.

The attrition among all levels of the Office for Combating Terrorism began shortly after the attacks and continued into this year. At least eight officials in the office -- which numbers a dozen people -- have left and been replaced since 9/11. Several of the officials were contacted by Reuters.

You can see what those officials have to say here.

This should worry all of us. Eight out of twelve staff members have quit? Sure, the article says they've been replaced, but how much institutional memory is left?

Meanwhile, Professor Cole tells us, Iraq is going to hell in a handbasket. Even if the population suddenly wakes up to realize just what kind of a mess Bush has gotten us into and votes him out, how hard is it gonna be for his replacement to pick up the pieces?

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

April 07, 2004

More astronomy

petitprince.jpgAntoine de Saint-Exupery's plane found! The body wasn't recovered, however, so we still don't know the fate of the author of Le Petit Prince. He was a fascinating man.

Update: The Christian Science Monitor has more details on how Saint-Exupery and his plane were lost.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:05 PM | Comments (1)


This is just too funny not to share. Fox has found Live Journals from various space objects, including Spirit, Opportunity, Pathfinder, Hubble, Beagle (Ha! You thought it was irrevocably lost, didn't you?), and Cassini, among others. Go check 'em out. She's got links for all of 'em, and I'll be damned if I reproduce them. While you're visiting her, read her essay on gardening.

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

April 06, 2004

A Nation of Pilltakers

Here's an interesting essay.

There are concrete results of the medicated life, however. Dr. Isaac Schiff, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said he found that "most people, men and women who are in their 50's, are taking something every day."
Ain't it the truth. I had my first attack of gout when I was 33; after getting it resolved (with the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin), I was offered the option of taking a daily dose of colchicine. I didn't feel like getting on to a daily pill-taking regimen at that age, so I said no. Then about ten years later I was diagnosed with both high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and at that point there was no longer a choice. "You will take these pills," I was told, "unless you want to have clogged arteries and hypertension and die young." So here I am, ten years later, taking daily doses of Diltia for the BP and lovastatin for the cholesterol. They seem to be working, but it's a habit/necessity I never expected to get into.

Anyone else surprised by this development?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:56 AM | Comments (6)

April 05, 2004

Adventures with Jenn-Air

I was cooking a small roast on our Jenn-Air rotisserie Sunday night when Tigger wandered into the room and suddenly began to bark, for no discernible reason. I looked at her eyes, and I realized she was looking at the tied roast rotating on the spit above the grill (this thing is stovetop, not oven-contained). It took several minutes to explain to her that this unusual sight wasn't dangerous, but I finally succeeded. I'm thinking of renaming her "She Who Barks at Meat."

This episode reminded me of my sister's birthday four or five years ago, when I bought a couple of lamb racks and cut them into chops. Each chop was about an inch thick, and we cooked them on the indoor grill. Now, this thing sits in a cutout on the stovetop; you put "rock" elements into it, plug the heating element in, place grates over the top and cook away. Any juices drip down through the elements, into the cutout bin, and down a little drain into screwtop jars located under the stovetop. With fourteen lamb chops for six people, there was an awful lot of grease that drained off. The following day, when reaching for my stash of paper plates, I discovered that both jars had filled to overflowing. You never saw such a mess in your life.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:46 AM | Comments (5)

Querying Dr. Rice

Unless you've been under a rock or on vacation in Nepal, you know that Condi Rice will testify Thursday in front of the 9/11 Commission, under oath. Here are Fifteen Questions for her. A selected few:

  • Mr. Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism director, has said that of the 100 or so meetings held by cabinet-level officials before 9/11 only one was about terrorism. Is this true? If so, was this emblematic of the Bush administration's posture on terrorism?
  • The Bush administration's position, and your own, has been that it would not have been possible to conceive that planes might be used as missiles against the United States. Yet during the 1996 Olympics countermeasures were taken for just that eventuality. How do you reconcile this discrepancy?
  • Looking back on 9/11, were your priorities appropriate for the threat based on what you knew? Did you take the necessary precautions given your perception of the threat at the time? Press reports indicate that before 9/11, you believed that the use of ballistic missiles against United States was our most pressing national security vulnerability. What precautions were taken to ensure that Al Qaeda militants in Kashmir did not provoke a ballistic missile exchange between India and Pakistan?
  • Why was Iraq viewed by the president — and others — as a likely, if not the most likely, perpetrator of 9/11?

Those are all good ones, but I've got several too:

  • Why the hell did you think ballistic missile defense was more important than terrorism?
  • Was this an attempt to satisfy some leftover dream Ronald Reagan, beloved hero of the Right, had espoused?
  • Did you really think that China was liable to lob ICBMs at the United States, when it was busily building a huge trade surplus with us, thus making potsful of money?
  • Or was it just that it was what you knew, so you didn't think other national defense problems might be worthy of your attention and that of your boss?

I await your reply.

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

April 04, 2004

Tin Pan Alley, Baghdad office

Is the Coalition Provisional Authority's press office trying to soft-pedal bad news and "accentuate the positive?" The Guardian's reporters seem to think so, and on the face of it, if you look at the backgrounds of its staff, you'd be hard-pressed not to wonder whether they work for the CPA or for the Committee to Re-Elect.

Link from Professor Cole. If you want an interpretation of today's gun battles and the potential disaster lurking behind them, you should read today's postings over there.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)


Daylight Saving Time may be all well and good for an agricultural society, but my freakin' clock shouldn't automatically shift for me! I happen to live in a state which doesn't go on DST, but does Timex care? Hah! I woke up this morning, looked over at the clock display, and read 7:30. I leapt out of bed and headed for the kitchen to turn on the coffee, where I was greeted with shock by my mother, who said "What are you doing up so early?" I blearily looked at the three clocks in the kitchen, all of which read (more or less) 6:30. Argh! It even took the silly Java Sparrows (which normally wait impatiently for the feeder to be filled) about ten minutes to figure out the damn thing was outside waiting for them.

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

April 03, 2004

Of course we're serious!

The Bush administration has scuttled a plan to increase by 50 percent the number of criminal financial investigators working to disrupt the finances of Al Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist organizations to save $12 million, a Congressional hearing was told on Tuesday.

The Internal Revenue Service had asked for 80 more criminal investigators beginning in October to join the 160 it has already assigned to penetrate the shadowy networks that terrorist groups use to finance plots like the Sept. 11 attacks and the recent train bombings in Madrid. But the Bush administration did not include them in the president's proposed budget for the 2005 fiscal year. (My emphasis)

But we're trying very hard to dry up the terrorists' financing, don't you see? (Link from Suburban Guerilla via The American Street).

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:36 AM | Comments (2)

April 02, 2004

Land for sale?

This is not your ordinary comment spam, although I did find it on a post 600 entries back:

For Sale Agri and Aquva Farm

40 acres of fertile Agri Land with fish farms , coconact and teakwood planations. connected with power and full water supply . Sicuatied in thanjavur dist, tamil nadu south India

America is outsourcing jobs to India, and in return India is outsourcing farmland?

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:37 PM | Comments (4)

April 01, 2004

Blogs, Ads, & Euro-Employment

Are you ready for yet another blog indexing tool? Here's Kinja, which compiles a digest of blogs by subject area. It's in beta, thus the categories are limited at the moment, but give 'em time. If you're so inclined, and you use Blogrolling, you can export your blogroll to your hard drive and then upload it to the Kinja site. Kinja wants an OPML file, and that's the format Blogrolling uses to export, so you're good to go. (Note: this presumes Blogrolling is up, something I had a problem with all morning).

Oh good grief. There's an award for everything, so there might as well be a Hall of Fame for everything too, I suppose, but for Direct-to-Consumer Marketing? Yessiree bob, the people who have filled your TV screen with Claritin ads will be inducted into PhAME May 6. "The PhAME Awards are the first and most comprehensive award ceremony focusing on DTC marketing and communications -- 'creating a better informed and healthier world(TM)'. The award was created to recognize creative excellence, results and innovation in strategies, media and integrated campaigns." Bleah.

This one's more fun. If you can translate from Maltese to Finnish, the European Commission would like to hear from you. It's not all fun and games, though: "The cost of the Union's translation service is expected to rise from 500 million euros (611 million dollars) currently, with the existing 15 members and 11 languages, to 800 million euros (978 million dollars) when the 10 new countries join." The EU projects it needs 110 new translators.

If you're a scientist you should also go East. "If Europe is going to achieve its oft-repeated target of spending 3% of gross domestic project on research by 2010, it needs to recruit something like an additional 500,000 researchers."

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:23 PM | Comments (1)


I didn't understand the "whys" of the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, and I sure didn't understand the Rwandan catastrophe, so I'm reading Tim Judah's book The Serbs, after which it's on to Philip Gourevitch's We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families about the Rwanda genocide. This article about the Fallujah murders yesterday could have been the foreword to either book. Here's the lead paragraph:

Surgeons, pathologists, embalmers and even the corner butcher know about the little click, in the brain, that lets them look dispassionately at a living or once-living being and see, instead, just flesh, a thing, or meat. Without this shift in the moral vision, we could not heal the sick, bury the dead or eat a steak. And yet a closely related power of objectification is also the root of cruelty. To see a human being only as an object -- an enemy, an occupier or an animal -- unlocks the possibility for war, revolution and genocide.

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