November 30, 2004

TV heads-up

Mark your calendars. Here's something to watch on PBS with no pledge breaks.

In the summer of 2004, a spectacular gathering of musicians from across the guitar world performed together on one concert stage, as the culminating event of Eric Clapton's three-day Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas.

The playlist includes:

  • "Layla" -- Eric Clapton
  • "Killing Floor" -- Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmie Vaughan
  • "After Midnight" -- J.J. Cale with Eric Clapton
  • "Rock Me Baby" -- Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan
  • "Jingo" -- Carlos Santana with Eric Clapton, and
  • "Cocaine" -- Eric Clapton

It airs Wednesday night. Check your local listings.

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

November 29, 2004

Early bird gets gift

For the record (and for me it may be one), I made my first purchase of a present for Christmas 2004 today. In November. This is unsettling.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:38 PM | Comments (5)

November 28, 2004

Dreamboat Annie (and Nancy, and...)

I haven't done any Sunday music for a while, so let's do a reprise. Hmm. If I dig through the semi-alphabetized stacks I come to the "Hs" and I find Dreamboat Annie, by Heart. They had some great hits in the 70s, then fell off the map for a while, came back in the mid-80s, and then fell off my radar again. Interestingly, Nancy Wilson has evidently married Cameron Crowe, and she wrote the score for Almost Famous, Crowe's semi-autobiographical movie of a few years ago.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:08 PM | Comments (3)

November 27, 2004

Something else already!

Cranberry juice stains formica, stuffing can only be reheated so often, the peas have begun to look like prunes turned green, and the refrigerator is emitting strange bird noises.

I'd really like a steak about now.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:31 PM | Comments (5)

November 26, 2004

Lit Crit, or who gets the homage here?

I'm trying to decide which author had the greatest influence on Fafnir, judging from this post. There's a flavor of Kenneth Grahame or A.A. Milne, but I'm not sure it's either. Any guesses?

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:55 PM | Comments (4)

Oh, gimme a break

You've eaten your turkey; now have some irony for dessert. Science magazine published a story this week titled "SCHOLARLY PUBLISHING: NIH Flooded With Comments on Public Access Proposal." If you click on the link in the headlines e-letter, you are taken to a page which reads: " You do not have access to this item."

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2004

Turkey Day 2004

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

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and Fasha the dog.
Or you could read this parody, which starts:
Now it all started two semesters ago, it's on two semesters ago when
my about-to-graduate friend and I went up to read some news at Alice's server, 'cause the news didn't live on our server, it lived on Alice's server, with lots of forged messages and newgroups and rmgroups, and of course the news articles themselves.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

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

November 24, 2004

Stick it!

Here are some useful disclaimer stickers for science textbooks. The author generously offers you a link to the customization pages at CafePress, if you're inclined to have these emblazoned on t-shirts, mugs, or other paraphernalia. Sample:

This book does not contain the word evolution, the unifying principle in biology and an important component of the National Science Standards and the Scholastic Achievement Test. For an overview of what your class is missing, go to:
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

(Lifted from Inner Bitch)

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2004

Where's my stuff?

Have y'all happened to see Google Scholar yet?

The tool is targeted squarely at scientists and academic researchers wanting to find scholarly literature across broad areas of research. It searches a subset of the main Google index, open repositories, and the Web sites of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, and universities.

There is a drawback: many of the indexed journal articles that appear are still only available to subscribers. Some of the journals make their contents publicly available after a year has elapsed, but that does mean that the articles may not contain current data. However, it gives the researcher a starting point.

Most every scientist or academic I'm acquainted with has already checked it out to determine whether his or her work has been included. Alas, my best work has gone unpublished, so it doesn't appear.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:26 AM | Comments (1)

Nice work if you can get it

How come the Administration wants to limit overtime pay, while its legislative buddies in the House only want to work two days a week?

While the House typically meets for 140 or more legislative days each year -- reaching a recent historical high of 167 days in 1995, the first year of the Newt Gingrich-led GOP majority -- it has met for legislative business just 97 days this year, with only five more days of work scheduled for the year. If no additional days are scheduled, the 102 days would be the lowest in decades. And bills are given little airing on the floor.

The resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, for example, was debated just two days. The defense authorization bill, a complicated package that lays out the Pentagon's spending and program priorities for the following year, once commanded extended discussion in the House; in 1994, the last year Democrats held the majority, the measure was discussed for three weeks, and House members had several days to read the Rules Committee version before they began debating the measure. This year, the defense authorization bill was ushered through the House in two days, with members having just a few hours to examine the bill before the full House considered it.

According to the article (well worth reading; it's the first of a three-part series), the first votes the House makes in an ordinary week aren't taken until 6:00pm Tuesdays, and the members frequently finish by Thursday afternoon. How the hell is anyone supposed to understand complex legislation when it's not even available to see until Wednesday morning and must be voted on by Thursday afternoon? I speedread, but not when the material is the kind I need to take notes on.

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

November 22, 2004

A Word to the (not-so) Wise

If you have questions about your prescriptions, do not tie up the poor cashier for twenty minutes while trying to understand them. The people behind you may not want to pay $3 for overstaying the 30-minute grace period in the clinic's parking structure.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:44 AM | Comments (2)

November 19, 2004

Site finds

Here's a fun website from the NIH (oh, look, an oxymoron!): Portion Distortion! It shows you what a standard portion size for a particular food item (a bagel, perhaps?) was 20 years ago, what its caloric content was then, and what the comparables are now. Read it and weep (or say no thanks).

If you're interested in bioethics, the editors of The American Journal of Bioethics have a blog (begun in September, but I just found out about it). From a brief perusal it appears to be full of newsy links.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

Sound advice

Pistachio lovers, listen up.

Grab a handful of pistachio nuts and you will usually find several with shells that are closed so tightly they cannot be eaten. But soon you might be able to enjoy the snack without this frustration.

A gadget that listens to the distinctive pings made by nuts when they bounce off a surface could help to sort open-shell nuts from uncrackable closed ones.

So ok, using a nutcracker isn't a terrible hardship, but still...

Here's another more societally beneficial use of sound:

The same type of sound waves that pulsate from sonar fish-finders and ultrasound fetal monitors can dramatically boost the power of anti-clotting medicine and help it dissolve brain blockages in stroke patients, a study suggests.

Since tPA as a clot-buster loses efficacy rapidly, the use of sound waves might save quite a few lives if an emitter could be installed in ambulances. The problem with doing that is apparently training cost, certainly not size; the thing is a lipstick-sized wand. This study was partially funded by NIH; here's their press release.

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

This could be fun

Josh Marshall suggests a new game for those who live in a state with Republican House members (that rules me out):

Do you work for a local newspaper or TV Station? Want an easy story? Call up the local Republican member of congress to see if they supported the DeLay Rule. Believe me, this one writes itself.

Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) says a "handful" of members of the caucus opposed the rule. Let's be extremely generous and say that's 20 members. That still leaves 211 supporters. Who are they?

Not a journalist? Afraid you can't play? Fuggetaboutit ... You can play too.

Just pick a Republican member of Congress, call the number on their website and ask. Don't be rude or confrontational. Just a simple question: Did Congressperson such-and-such support the DeLay Rule in the GOP caucus meeting on Wednesday. After you get your answer, drop us a line and let us know what you hear. Did they vote for the DeLay Rule or are they members of the Shays Handful?

They refused to answer? We wanna know that too.

Here's a list of House Members, and here's Josh's mailing address: talk@talkingpointsmemo.com. If you decide to play send him an e-mail with your results.

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

November 17, 2004

Angell on Boston

Longtime readers will know I'm a great fan of Roger Angell, the hardy perennial of baseball writers. He's been making his home at the New Yorker for years, writing an annual wrapup of the World Series, among other things. Here's the latest. He's as good as ever.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)

November 16, 2004

Disgusted but not surprised

Why Condoleeza Rice should not be Secretary of State, from her testimony before the 9/11 Commission:

First of all, yes, the August 6th PDB was in response to questions of the president -- and that since he asked that this be done. It was not a particular threat report. And there was historical information in there about various aspects of al Qaeda's operations.

Dick Clarke had told me, I think in a memorandum -- I remember it as being only a line or two -- that there were al Qaeda cells in the United States.

Now, the question is, what did we need to do about that?

And I also understood that that was what the FBI was doing, that the FBI was pursuing these al Qaeda cells. I believe in the August 6th memorandum it says that there were 70 full field investigations under way of these cells. And so there was no recommendation that we do something about this; the FBI was pursuing it.

I really don't remember, Commissioner, whether I discussed this with the president.

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.

RICE: I remember very well that the president was aware that there were issues inside the United States. He talked to people about this. But I don't remember the al Qaeda cells as being something that we were told we needed to do something about. (My emphasis)

Something we were told we needed to do something about. Excuse me. At the time you were the National Security Adviser, and you didn't think that you should be concerned about this, because somebody else supposedly was? And who were you waiting for to tell you to be concerned?

Condi Rice reached her level of incompetence as NSA; there's no way in hell she should be promoted to SecState. I'm not even going to go into the idea that this appointment means there will be even fewer voices presenting dissenting ideas to the President.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:01 PM | Comments (4)

November 15, 2004

SWM Seeks TV

Anybody bought a new television lately? I'm looking for a 27" to 30" screen. It has to fit on a stand which currently holds the (dying) 27" goggle-box. Since the FCC says everything has to be transmitted digitally by 2006, I suppose I want something that's at least "HDTV Ready," but maybe not. It has to have at least two sets of A/V RCA jacks. Magnavox is selling one that incorporates DVD and VHS players, but I'm not sure about buying one like that; if one of those players fails, then the whole thing would be out of commission while repairs are made. Who's had a recent experience in the electronics shop?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:31 PM | Comments (6)

Anybody seen Beria?

Is the United States about to acquire its own equivalent of the East German Stasi or the pre-revolution Savak? When the new Director hires four former aides, many of whom are said to be highly partisan, and then refuses to talk to prior Directors, one wonders. Particularly when the Deputy Director resigns in dismay, and when several other senior officers are thinking of doing the same. Of course, if I were a senior officer and I got an edict like this:

"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."
I might be looking for other work as well.

Has truth-telling become less important than loyalty? What's next, star chambers? Oh,wait...we've been trying those in Guantanamo.

If your Congressperson or Senator is on either of the Intelligence Committees, maybe you should drop them a line if you think this behavior shouldn't be condoned.

Update: Josh Marshall has some thoughts about the professionals being tossed out by the political appointees. He notes that it's the latter who have invariably been wrong in their judgments throughout the past four years, and views this with even more alarm than do I.

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

November 14, 2004

Shiver

It's Sunday night, 8:30pm. The outdoor air temperature is 69 degrees. How are the inhabitants of this house dressed? Well, long jeans and a fleece sweater for me, sweats for Mom. Hey! Living in the tropics makes your blood thinner!

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:37 PM | Comments (4)

Out, damned spot

If one of the great fictional detectives like Holmes, Dupin, Wolfe, or Maigret were to dig through our medicine chest, he would conclude that someone in the family suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. He would be wrong. To calm her anxiety during thunderstorms, Tigger has recently been prescribed Clomipramine. For humans it's a medication for OCD; for dogs it's been approved for separation anxiety. I suppose it's useful to have around in case I suddenly develop the symptoms.

Unlike the humans, she gets her pills wrapped in cheese.

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

November 13, 2004

Count the dead

Numbers.

Schofield Barracks has practically been emptied by two wars. More than 5,200 Hawai'i soldiers are in Iraq; more than 5,800 are in Afghanistan.

Almost 1,000 Kane'ohe Bay Marines have deployed to Iraq, and the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment is fighting its way through rebel-held Fallujah. Another approximately 1,000 Hawai'i Marines are headed to Afghanistan.

Sixty soldiers with B Company, 193rd Aviation, of the Hawai'i Army National Guard have been in Kandahar since May performing helicopter maintenance for the 25th Infantry Division (Light).

About 200 other National Guard soldiers from C Company, 193rd Aviation, deployed to Iraq early this year with 14 Chinook helicopters.

Another 400 reservists with the 411th Engineer Battalion are in Iraq.

An additional 2,000 citizen soldiers from the state's 29th Separate Infantry Brigade are headed to Iraq in February and March, along with about 700 reservists from the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry in Hawai'i, Guam, American Samoa and Saipan.

13,000 and counting from this state alone. What toll has it taken?

Lance Cpl. Aaron C. Pickering, 20, was killed Wednesday as U.S. Marines fought their way into Fallujah, Iraq.

[snip]

Pickering is the eighth Hawai'i-based Marine to die in combat in less than two weeks.

Hawai'i-based soldiers with the Army's 25th Infantry Division (Light) from Schofield Barracks have suffered nine casualties in Iraq and seven in Afghanistan since deploying early this year.

For what?

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

November 12, 2004

Reach out and touch...

Found at Skippy's place:

Send prepaid phone cards to service members now recuperating at Walter Reed. Any denomination accepted.

Medical Family Assistance Center Walter Reed Medical Center 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20307-5001

That's an awfully good idea.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:37 PM | Comments (1)

This isn't right.

Hell. We expect houseguests around Thanksgiving, so we're going to have to do a major housecleaning with some help from a commercial service. That means we have to "pre-clean." Bleah.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:13 PM | Comments (2)

November 11, 2004

Janet Jackson, you'll pay for this

To honor Veterans' Day (and make a buck), ABC plans to show "Saving Private Ryan" this evening. Unfortunately, I won't get to see it. Why? Well, my local station is afraid to televise it. It's concerned about profanity in light of the new militancy shown by the FCC. And apparently there are some twenty other affiliates which are also petrified.

Can anyone say "chilling effect?" What's next on the self-censorship menu?

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

November 10, 2004

What's that mean?

Who among us hasn't had his or her blood pressure checked, been told it's "x over y," and wondered just exactly what that meant? Who's followed up to find out?

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury. National guidelines for most people say systolic pressure, when the heart contracts, should be lower than 140 millimeters. Diastolic pressure, when the heart relaxes between beats, should be lower than 90.
Now you know.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:30 AM | Comments (5)

November 09, 2004

Wide right?

So I was reading the agate type in the sports section this morning, and my eye fell upon the PGA Tour Money Leaders for the 2004 season. Vijay Singh was the leader, but look at the difference between numbers two and three.

  1. Vijay Singh $10,905,166
  2. Ernie Els $5,787,225
  3. Phil Mickelson $5,784,823
  4. Tiger Woods $5,365,472
  5. Stewart Cink $4,450,270

At that level of earnings I suppose it doesn't matter much, but only $3K? That's gotta be just a single stroke somewhere. I guess baseball's not the only sport that's a game of inches.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:06 AM | Comments (2)

November 08, 2004

Tribes

Want history? Read this.

One thing this little historical trip should show everyone is that it is nonsense to think that this cultural resentment and cultural contempt was created by Hollywood movie stars and limosine liberals from New York City. Indeed, this has been a problem since the dawn of the republic. And it isn't a problem that will be solved by the Red States gaining and maintaining power. They have held power many times throughout our history and they were still filled with resentment toward "the north" (now "the liberal elites.") And, it won't be solved by adopting different stances on "moral issues," or telling the current Democratic southern constituencies to suck it up. Maybe it's time we looked a little bit deeper and realized that this tribal problem isn't going to be solved by politics at all.

It's fascinating. Much of it is familiar to me from living in Virginia during my high school years, when my mother led a fight to get rid of history textbooks which still exalted "the peculiar institution" as benign. Take ten minutes and read it all.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2004

Classical music

Given that there is a large but finite number of "Great Composers," each of whom has a finite body of work, how does one go about selecting which performance of those works one should acquire? Does one go with "name-brand" orchestras and conductors? It's probably a good bet that Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia didn't screw up when recording Bach or Brahms, but are those recordings truly the best representation of the composer's work?

Thoughts?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:41 PM | Comments (3)

November 05, 2004

Advice

Half the talking heads are telling Democrats they need to adapt to the changing views of the country in order to win Presidential elections, and maybe they're right. But if that means abandoning the single core belief Democrats have espoused for the last 75 years, that everyone is created equal and thus should be treated equally, I won't, thank you. The game is not worth the candle.

We need to focus on communicating this very simple message:

Everyone is created equal and thus should be treated equally

We need to make it abundantly clear that when you vote for the Republicans you vote for economic elitism. You vote for overweening corporate power. You vote for complete disregard towards the less fortunate. You vote for exclusion rather than inclusion. You vote for "passing by on the other side." You vote against the principles established in the Sermon on the Mount. You cast your lot with the rich and powerful.

If we can communicate that message well, votes will follow.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:42 PM | Comments (14)

I've seen the future...

Ok, the Onion can be a little apocalyptic, but as usual, those guys never use a rapier when a saber will do.

The Museum of the Middle Class, featuring historical and anthropological exhibits addressing the socioeconomic category that once existed between the upper and lower classes, opened to the public Monday.

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

November 04, 2004

A Gracious Concession

If you're a despondent Blue-stater, go read Adam Felber's concession speech. It'll do your heart good.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:10 AM | Comments (4)

1861 Redux

smallmap

If we can get leasing rights to the Panama Canal, the East and West Coasts can secede. Those parts of the upper Midwest that come along can get seaport access through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Oh, yeah. Happy Birthday me.

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

November 03, 2004

Confusion

"One voter in five said moral values were the most important issue driving the vote, and almost eight out of 10 backed Bush."

How is it "moral" to spend the country into bankruptcy? How is it "moral" to invade a country which was no threat to us, based on lies deliberately trumped up to fit an agenda thought up by a think tank? How is it "moral" to sell out the nation's public lands to private industry? How is it "moral" to turn a blind eye to science, demanding ideological purity over empirical fact?

I don't understand my country anymore.

Update: The Left Coaster may understand it better than I do.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:28 AM | Comments (7)

November 02, 2004

Here we go...

Well, I done my duty. No big crowds at 10:45 a.m. I had the 517th ballot to go through the optical scanner; I'd guess there are about 2,500 registered voters in my precinct.

Nothing to do but wait. While waiting, spare a thought for all those candidates who've put the rest of their lives on hold to run for offices high and low in this election. From school boards to President, state Representative to US Senate, the moment of truth will arrive later this evening for all of them. It takes a lot of determination and a great deal of energy to go through a campaign, and I salute them all.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:51 AM | Comments (3)

Sleaze after sleaze

You want tales of voter suppression in swing states? Try here, here, and here.

In another bit of mind-boggling scandal, College Republicans have been accused of scamming seniors.

Many of the top donors were in their 80s and 90s. The donors wrote checks sometimes hundreds and, in at least one case, totaling more than $100,000 to groups with official sounding-names such as "Republican Headquarters 2004," "Republican Elections Committee" and the "National Republican Campaign Fund."

But all of those groups, according to the small print on the letters, were simply projects of the College Republicans, who collected all of the checks.

And little of the money went to election efforts.

Of the money spent by the group this year, nearly 90 percent went to direct-mail vendors and postage expenses, according to records filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

I guess it's good training for later life, since that's where Rove, Norquist and Reed got their starts.

Here are some useful election numbers/sites:

Vote Watch 2004
Video Vote Vigil

Election Protection Hotlines:
1-866-MYVOTE1 to report problems (Common Cause)
1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) for immediate legal assistance from a lawyer (non-partisan)

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

November 01, 2004

Command Post

I wandered over to Michele and Alan's Command Post Election 2004 blog and clicked the Hawai'i link to see what had been said about our fair state. Lo and behold, absolutely nothing. In fact, I got a 404 error. So I wrote a note to Michele to tell her that, and (naturally), got roped into covering Hawai'i for them. My initial post is here. If you're a political junkie, go over there and sniff around. All fifty states have or will have local reporters "on the ground," they hope, as well as several foreign countries. It should be a good resource.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:51 PM | Comments (2)