Who the hell decided that clocks should be "smart?" I woke up this morning and saw my nicely back-lit digital readout telling me it was 5:41. Being sensible, I rolled over and unsuccessfully tried to go back to sleep. Failing, I got up and stumbled out to the kitchen, turned on the coffee pot, and noticed that the oven, microwave, and wall clocks all read 6:50.
The damned bedside clock had automatically reset to account for the reversion to standard time. Either there's no provision for the owner living in one of the few places that don't switch, or I neglected to account for it when I originally set the thing a year ago. Arrgh!
Here are a couple of additional reasons to vote for Kerry.
Speaking about bus rides from Democratic rallies directly to the polls,
William R. Scherer, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer working for the Republicans, said his party had no need for such stunts. "We don't need to bus," he said. "Most of our people have cars."
According to the literature, one of the reasons for the famous Literary Digest polling error in the 1936 election was a reliance on lists drawn from automobile and telephone registrations, and at the time only the prosperous had either. This smacks of the same sort of thing.
"I want you to stand, raise your right hands," and recite "the Bush Pledge," said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States."
That's from One Nation Under Bush, in Slate yesterday.
Billmon has some thoughts on this.
How far will they go to steal this election? When Congress passed the Help America Vote Act following the 2000 debacle, presumably it intended exactly what the Act's title said: help Americans vote. If a citizen had difficulty, he could file suit to seek redress. The Justice Department is now claiming it and it alone has the right to "bring lawsuits to enforce its provisions. These include a requirement that states provide "uniform and nondiscriminatory" voting systems, and give provisional ballots to those who say they have registered but whose names do not appear on the rolls." In other words, if you object to a poll tax or some other impediment to your ability to vote, you have to petition DOJ to get Mr. Ashcroft to take action. Now, if you're in a swing state that's very close, what are the odds that Mr. Ashcroft will agree with you?
What does a former lawyer in DOJ's voting-rights section think about this claim? "It is pretty rare for the Department of Justice to take a position that there is no private right of action to enforce a federal statute guaranteeing voting rights."
Here's more about the tactics being used by the RNC, with a little historical background. One of the favorites seems to be sending mail to newly-registered voters, and if it's returned, challenge.
In 1986, the RNC tried to have 31,000 voters, most of them black, removed from the rolls in Louisiana when a party mailer was returned. The consent decrees that resulted prohibited the party from engaging in anti-fraud initiatives that target minorities or conduct mail campaigns to "compile voter challenge lists."
Undeliverable mail is the basis for this year's challenges in Ohio. Republicans also sent mail to about 130,000 voters in Philadelphia, another heavily black and Democratic stronghold.
Now, I don't how that looks to you, but that seems to be in direct violation of the courts' rulings in the 1986 case.
Eat your heart out, Norman Vincent Peale! (Work-safe, speakers required)
Need new gift ideas? Know a budding scientist? Then you need the New Scientist Gift Guide!
Also from New Scientist, the answer to a question you didn't know you wanted to ask:
Q: The two outer panes of a passenger aircraft cabin window have a tiny piece of cylindrical metal separating them. It is always near the base of the panes, not in the centre, and is frequently surrounded by condensation. What purpose does it serve and what is it made of?
A: Airline windows typically comprise three or more layers of glass (or acrylic) to provide insulation from the very cold atmosphere at altitude. The tiny silvery cylinder is really the edge of a small hole drilled in the middle layer to allow the pressure to equalise between the layers while minimising convection.
The condensation around the hole is due to the inner airspace cooling. Ice often forms here. The position of the hole is chosen to maintain the best clear viewing area when condensation forms, to minimise the likelihood of a crack forming between the hole and the edge of the window, and to avoid excessive condensation pooling over the hole, which could freeze and block it.
It's alway fun to read the hometown papers after a big sporting event, but in this instance, it's almost cathartic. (Oh, look closely at the logo at the top of the page, too).
Pigs can fly, hell is frozen, the slipper finally fits,
and Impossible Dreams really can come true.
The Red Sox have won the World Series
After four years in the White House, George W. Bush's most significant contribution to American life is this pervasive bitterness, this division of the house into raging, feuding halves. We are two nations now, each with a culture that attacks the other. And politics, as the Republicans are openly playing it, need no longer concern itself with the most fundamental democratic norm: the universal right to vote.
The subject? Voter suppression in Ohio, Florida, Nevada, and wherever else the RNC can find people to try it.
On balance, I'd say Kerry's been more honest than Bush.
After Saddam fell it was bad enough that the Iraqi museums were looted, that the only government building deemed worthy of guarding was the oil ministry, and that the attitude towards the looters was that they were just a few "dead-enders." Now we learn that not only were regular munitions dumps unguarded, but the site which held extraordinarily high explosives which "can be used in the triggering process for a nuclear weapon" was raided. Worse, the IAEA, which had the site "under seal" prior to the war, was not told of the theft of 350 tons of this stuff. Why not?
A highly informed official offered the assessment that, "this is the stuff the bad guys have been using to kill our troops, so you canít ignore the political implications of this, and you would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information."
Read the gory details here. Then ask yourself whether an Administration so seemingly willing to play politics with munitions which have killed over 1,000 US soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines (and uncounted Iraqis), and which could be used to trigger nuclear weapons deserves to remain in office beyond November 2.
Update: The above link takes you to a specific post on Josh Marshall's site, where he quotes The Nelson Report, a political newsletter based in DC. You should probably start at the top of Josh's pages, since he's continued to cover this after I posted the original link up there, and there have been two postings since that one.
I just downloaded Firefox, and it seems faster. But why can't I import bookmarks? I ran the export function from IE to put them into a file, and I've tried to import them, but it's not taking. Do I need to run favtools.exe from Microsoft to convert the file into a recognizable format? I tried running it, but I get a 404 error from the "download.microsoft.com" page.
That's the HTML version. There's also a PDF version suitable for printing and handing out.
It's all nicely sourced, too.
Cardinals - Red Sox? Again? Yikes! Now I have a problem. I've liked the Cards for a long time, second only to the Dodgers in the National League. I remember Bob Gibson pitching for them against Koufax and Drysdale, and Gibby against the Tigers in the 1968 World Series. They've had some memorable ballplayers, going back to the Gashouse Gang in 1934. Pepper Martin, Dizzy and Paul Dean, Ducky Medwick, and Leo "The Lip" Durocher all played for that team. Later they had notables like Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter (pace, Red Sox fans!), Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock, Curt Flood and Mark McGwire. Their games on KMOX made the entire Midwest Cardinal fans long before there were any teams west of the Mississippi.
But then there's the Red Sox, sentimental favorites of an entire region as well. More names: Williams, DiMaggio, Yaz, Fisk, Pesky, Rice, Freddy Lynn, and Luis Tiant. I've read too much Roger Angell; I feel like the Sox are sort of my American League team.
What to do, what to do.
Outlined against a blue-black October night, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Schilling, Timlin, Arroyo and Foulke. They formed the crest of the Fenway cyclone before which another fighting Yankee baseball team was swept over the precipice at the House That Ruth Built yesterday afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama spread on the green plain below.
Yesterday, on a cold and misty night in the Bronx, the Boston nine exorcised some of their demons, at the same time vanquishing their hated Nemesis. Their shaggy-haired lineup, loaded with Damons and Variteks, Cabreras and Nixons, battered the New York Yankees with multiple four-baggers and a remarkable effort from their forgotten hurler, Mr. Lowe.
What a glorious comeback.
(Apologies to Grantland Rice.)
Move over, Willis Reed. Tonight, Curt Schilling duplicated your performance coming out to start Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 1970. Bad ankle and all, he managed to will his Red Sox into a Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. Mr. Foulke made it a little scary there in the ninth, but the side of good prevailed. What a stalwart effort.
If you want to read how a Red Sox fan reacts to a game like last night's, go over here. She really captures the agony of a fan.
Ladies, if you have a sister who's had breast cancer, the NIH wants to talk to you.
A new study that will look at 50,000 sisters of women diagnosed with breast cancer opened today for enrollment across the United States. The Sister Study, conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, will investigate environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer. The Sister Study is the largest study of its kind to look at breast cancer risk factors.
Women of all backgrounds and ethnic groups are eligible for the study if they are between the ages of 35 and 74; live in the United States; have never had breast cancer themselves; and have a sister — living or deceased — who has had breast cancer. To recruit a diverse group of volunteers and to ensure the results benefit all women, researchers are especially encouraging African-American, Latina, Native American, and Asian women, as well as women 60 and older, to join the Sister Study.
Sisters may be the key to unlocking breast cancer risk mysteries. Dale Sandler, Ph.D., Chief of the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS and principal investigator of the Sister Study said, "By studying sisters, who share the same genes, often had similar experiences and environments, and are at twice the risk of developing breast cancer, we have a better chance of learning what causes this disease. That is why joining the Sister Study is so important."
At the beginning, volunteers will complete several questionnaires and provide a sample of their blood, urine, toenails, and household dust. "With that, we'll be able to look at how genes, activities of daily life, and exposure to different things in our environment are related to breast cancer risk," Dr. Sandler explained.
Go to the Sister Study website for details.
Happiness is a new dryer which cuts 6 hours off the time necessary to finish doing laundry.
Anybody old enough to remember Pogo? Here's a fine discussion of the strip, brought on by a wondermous essay about Walt Kelly and his creation. Here's another discussion mentioned in the comments to the first one.
And this thread has some very funny and very bitter political jokes.
At the final Vote for Change concert Monday night.
If you know anyone who still thinks the Swift Boat Vets are telling the truth, show them this. Nightline went to Vietnam and found soldiers there who corroborate Kerry's story. Here's a preview; transcript available tomorrow. Kevin Drum relates a particularly interesting piece of the story here. Apparently some of the Swifties went to Vietnam themselves, asked about the firefight, and didn't like the answers they got. That being the case, they left the content of those interviews out of their
pack of lies book.
It's interesting that Richard Nixon, who had Charles Colson dig up John O'Neill of the Swifties, didn't think it would be right to challenge Kerry's service, but GWB did. It's also interesting that Richard Nixon was a WWII vet, while GWB was a man who didn't complete his stateside National Guard service. I wonder what Nixon would have thought of GWB?
If you thought there were more whistleblowers than usual popping up in government agencies, you were right.
The watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) reported last week that the number of official whistleblower reports has gone up significantly since 2001, from 380 cases that year to 535 cases in 2003.
Meanwhile, the backlog of pending whistleblower reports to the Office of Special Counsel, the federal the agency charged with investigating such complaints, has more than doubled to 690.
. . . a bipartisan group in Congress is pushing to strengthen whistleblower protections, an effort opposed by the Bush administration. Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Act in 1989 and strengthened it in 1994.
But critics say the law has failed to protect federal workers because of a series of judicial decisions that have undermined its effectiveness. "The reality today is that government workers who expose wrongdoing have no legal protections against being fired or facing retaliation," says Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project On Government Oversight, a private organization in Washington that investigates government wrongdoing.
One of the things we already know is that many of the leaders of these agencies come from the industries they're supposed to regulate (see below). Apparently they don't have much liking for civil service protections, either.
One of the best yet often unmentioned reasons to elect Kerry is to do a clean sweep of all the political appointees and get these agencies back to regulating the industries they're supposed to oversee rather than granting industries' fondest wishes.
If you're a policy wonk, you probably hated that exercise. If you're a 21st-century American social critic you probably loved it.
If I were king (or chairman of the Presidential Debate Commission), Bob Schieffer would never again be invited to moderate. He asked too many soft questions and not enough about the serious domestic issues, I thought.
Update: I may have spoken too soon. Aside from the Osama bin Laden "unconcerned" quote, the biggest error may have been GWB's suggestion that all the 45-year-old managers and programmers whose jobs have been outsourced should just go back to community college for retraining. That's being universally scorned. I had the same reaction when he said it, but I understimated how angry it would make people.
Britain's New Scientist has some questions for Americans and their Presidential candidates:
Go to the main story link to click these individually.
These are all provocative questions which are going to require answers at some point. Why not now, in the heat of a US election?
Flash animation at its finest, all in a good cause.
(Turn your speakers on.)
By now you've probably heard that a broadcaster called Sinclair Group is planning to run an infomercial masquerading as "news" blasting John Kerry for his anti-war activities post-Vietnam, claiming that those activities caused the Vietnamese to torture American POWs. This action raises a host of issues, but the one that really hits home is the one Reed Hundt, who is a former chair of the FCC, expounds upon in this letter written to Josh Marshall of TalkingPointsMemo.
. . .since television was invented, Congress and its delegated agency, the Federal Communications Commision, together have passed laws and regulations to ensure that broadcast television stations provide reasonably accurate, balanced, and fair coverage of major Presidential and Congressional candidates. These obligations are reflected in specific provisions relating to rights to buy advertising time, bans against the gift of advertising time, rights to reply to opponents, and various other specific means of accomplishing the goal of balance and fairness. The various rules are part of a tradition well known to broadcasters an honored by almost all of them. This tradition is embodied in the commitment of the broadcasters to show the conventions and the debates.
Part of this tradition is that broadcasters do not show propaganda for any candidate, no matter how much a station owner may personally favor one or dislike the other. Broadcasters understand that they have a special and conditional role in public discourse.
And he concludes:
Sinclair has a different idea, and a wrong one in my view. If Sinclair wants to disseminate propaganda, it should buy a printing press, or create a web site.
Makes sense to me.
Update: Campaign Desk weighs in on this issue.
American Catholics are often called "cafeteria Catholics," because they tend to pick and choose which Church teachings they follow and which they don't. Fair enough, I suppose. (Full disclosure: I was raised in the Church but fell away long ago.) How then is it any different when Catholic Bishops campaign for George Bush because of his policy on abortion while ignoring his wars and his support of the death penalty, and actively work against fellow Catholic John Kerry, whose policies on the latter two are far more in line with traditional Catholic teaching? Shouldn't they be called "cafeteria Bishops?"
The Church has gone a long way down the wrong road when it begins to actively tell its members which candidate they should vote for.
Linkmeister endorses the Astros for tonight's playoff game against the Braves. He does this not on the merits of either team, but because he gets WTBS on basic cable, and he's very tired of seeing the Braves. It's not that they don't deserve a chance at winning the World Series, having won only one in their astonishing thirteen-consecutive-year run winning their division. It's just that I'd like to see the Astros go on, since they've never done so in their forty-three year history.
The Bush administration will delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.
Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi -- where insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the greatest -- until after Americans vote in what is likely to be a close election.
"When this election's over, you'll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Once you're past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We're not on hold right now. We're just not as aggressive."
Excuse me? The US Presidential election takes precedence over military operations? That borders on treason. Putting your own political future ahead of the lives of American military forces in the field?
I'm with Brad DeLong. Bills of impeachment should be drawn up at once. This is unconscionable.
If you, like me, are wondering what the hell the Dred Scott decision had to do with anything in the debate Friday night, here's a theory. It did seem to be such a non sequitur that the possibility that it's actually code for Roe v. Wade isn't as outlandish as it might appear.
Update: It's not outlandish at all. Do a Google search for "Dred Scott" abortion and see what you turn up.
From the LA Times:
How did the debate influence your voting plans?
I was for Bush — I'm still for Bush.
I was for Bush — I'm now undecided.
I was for Bush — I'm now leaning to Kerry
I was for Kerry — I'm still for Kerry.
I was for Kerry — I'm now undecided.
I was for Kerry — I'm now leaning to Bush.
I was undecided — I'm still undecided.
I was undecided — I'm now leaning to Bush.
I was undecided — I'm now leaning to Kerry.
24859 total responses
Can the Los Angeles Times readership be that pro-Kerry, or is there something going on here? If it were the San Francisco Chronicle, I could understand these results better; after all, Baghdad-by-the-Bay is famously liberal. Los Angeles is far more conservative. California's a blue state anyway, but those undecideds now leaning to Kerry are interesting.
With the Angels out, I'm gonna have to decide which AL team to root for. My love of the underdog should dictate I root for the Red Sox, but then there's the Twins, currently tied with the Yankees. I guess I'll have to wait a little longer to figure this out.
Just heard at the twenty-minute mark of All Things Considered:
"Shock jock Howard Stern moves to satellite, and the Nobel Prize for Literature, coming up next on All Things Considered."
I assume the pairing of those two incongruous news items was deliberate.
Well now. During the debate, Mr. Cheney suggested that one could verify the facts about Halliburton at a site called FactCheck.com.
They know that if you go, for example, to factcheck.com, an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton.
Try it. It's too funny.
He meant FactCheck.org, which is indeed run out of the University of Pennsylvania. Com versus Org: a common mistake.
Thanks to Kevin Drum for pointing this out.
Update: How'd they do that? Here's the scoop.
It's unfair to blame the content provider for the headline, but still: Aspirin Can Help Keep Prostrate Cancer At Bay!
I surely hope that cancer doesn't get up.
In other health news, it looks like you ought to be sure your kids and your parents get flu shots, but if you're reasonably healthy you probably shouldn't. Roughly half of the usual supply just got taken off the market.
On a brighter (tipsier?) note, moderate use of beer and wine may strengthen bones.
My joy in the Dodgers' victory has been tempered by the failure of my dryer. Apparently the motor, when it gets too hot, trips an internal circuit breaker and shuts itself off. While this is a good thing in terms of fire prevention, it is not a good thing for drying laundry. I just bought a bag of clothespins to use while researching new combination washer/dryer units which will fit into our laundry closet.
Why, O God of Appliances, have you forsaken me?
Instead of the weak-kneed flip-flopping elitist being put in his place by the simple-talkin' cowpoke who squints ABMs in the face of terror, Giblets had to endure seeing the leader of the free world whine like an old woman with an expired aspirin coupon while Mr. Monument trounced him in rich, dulcet tones!
Giblets has a solution, but you'll have to read it over there. I hope he (it?) succeeds.
Ah. The Ig Nobel Prizes for 2004 have been awarded. Winners include the patent-holders for the comb-over, the authors of a study "exploring and explaining the dynamics of hula hooping," the Vatican for "outsourcing prayers to India," and the inventors of karaoke, for "providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other." You think I'm kidding? The citations are included at that link.
In much more important science news, the editors of Science have written an overview of Bush v. Kerry and their views of science, along with a link to the replies each candidate submitted in response to a questionnaire the magazine submitted to them.