February 28, 2006


I found a link to this over at Kos, and it reminds me to look at YouTube more often. What if Microsoft packaged the iPod?

I laughed, I cried, I spilled my glass of water. Funny stuff.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 27, 2006

I like math

You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 8/10 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade Math?

The only thing wrong with this quiz is that it doesn't tell you which ones you missed. Grrr.

(Seen in lots of different places today)

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

Tinker, tinker

Phooey. I bought a new amplifier/receiver, and it powers the AM radio just fine through my speakers. Unfortunately, the little plug for the FM antenna is not receptive to the extraordinarily bendable little wire which is supposed to go into it. Rather than continue to frustrate myself with that, I'm thinking of buying an FM dipole antenna, if I can find one with the correct type of connector.

Then there's the ongoing turntable saga. I've been trying to clean the gunk left behind by the old decomposed belt off the platter's pedestal, and not much has worked. I've tried nail polish remover and #0000 superfine steel wool, but neither has had much effect. While trying to install the new cartridge into the old headshell, two of the headshell wires separated from their sheathes. Now I'm trying to find new wires.

Am I having fun yet?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 25, 2006

Let slip the dogs of war

In keeping with those two questions I asked below, try these on for size: Rumsfeld's notes from 9/11/2001 in which he clearly says

Resume Statement:

Best info fast
judge whether good enough
Hit S.H@ same time -
Not just UBL

Tasks Jim Haynes to talk w/ PW [presumably Paul Wolfowitz]
for additional support v/v Usis &
connection w/ UBL

[REDACTED (N.R. stands for Not Relevant)]

- Hard to get a good case

- Need to move swiftly -

Near term target needs -
- go massive - sweep it all up
- Things related & not

Need to do so
to get anything

You can see the documents as pdf files at the above link. In addition, they are posted at Flickr.

Think about that. The Pentagon is still burning, the plane in Pennsylvania is smoldering, the WTC hunt for survivors is going on, and the Secretary of Defense is already thinking about how to tie Saddam Hussein in with Osama bin Laden. We've known this for some time (Paul O'Neill mentions it in his book), but here's the visual evidence of the underpinnings of the war in Iraq being designed before any facts about the 9/11 attacks have been discovered.

If there were honest Republicans, the plans for impeachment would be underway. "High crimes and misdemeanors" indeed.

via Brad DeLong

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Mideast faultlines

From the Department of "I wish it, thus it will be so" comes this idiocy:

While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has proclaimed that the world has isolated Iran more than ever because of its nuclear ambitions, Iran has in fact tightened relationships with it[s] local allies as events in Iraq have played out. In recent months, Iran has been deepening its alliance with Syria and the Shiite movement Hezbollah in Lebanon, and now it appears ready to strike up a friendship, backed by financing, with a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

Is there anything these people won't delude Americans about? Worse, is there anything they won't try to delude themselves about?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 24, 2006

Media relations

Here's a sensible policy: You're a professional golf tour with aspirations toward higher awareness among the general public. You'd seem to have a lot of good things going for you, including several new young stars (Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel) and many stars who've been around a while (Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb). So what do you do to heighten that public awareness?

You insist that the Associated Press, television stations and local newspapers give up all rights to their images and stories forever.

To get credentials, media outlets must agree to hand over ownership of their photos to the LPGA and only publish or air stories about the event as news stories. Reporters covering the event can only write about the LPGA Tour, and those stories could be used in perpetuity by the LPGA for free.

Naturally, the press objected to this new policy, and so none of the local tv stations had any coverage of the current tournament other than the leader board, and the papers did the same.

I detect a media/marketing consultant's mind at work here. Way to get your event covered for all the wrong reasons, people. Rather than the golf, the press is writing about the Tour's organization and policy. Clever.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2006

Liveblogging a civil war

Zeyad at Healing Iraq is doing just that.

Another eyewitness from Samarra, who wrote to the Iraqi Rabita website, claims that 2 Iranians were arrested yesterday, and that the Al-Arabiya channel crew had filmed them. The Iranians were released when Solagh arrived at the scene. The Al-Arabiya crew was near Al-Dor, north of Samarra, surrounded by a crowd of locals, when a vehicle stopped and someone shouted: "We want the anchor," and fired a couple of shots in the air to disperse the crowd. The Al-Arabiya anchor, Atwaar Bahjat (a very well known Iraqi journalist originally from Samarra), screamed for help but the team took her and the two cameramen. Their bullet-ridden corpses appeared this morning at the outskirts of Samarra; their footage tapes were confiscated.

From Riverbend:

No one went to work today as the streets were mostly closed. The situation isn’t good at all. I don’t think I remember things being this tense- everyone is just watching and waiting quietly. There’s so much talk of civil war and yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a bigger, more ominous plan…

There's much much more at each blog. I'm sure the Bush Administration is surprised by this; how many outside observers are?

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February 22, 2006

Oil, oil on the range

While the Congress is obsessing about the UAE port deal, the Bureau of Land Management is letting oil and gas companies kill wildlife in Wyoming (Dick Cheney's home state, of course; that probably explains some of it):

Recent studies of mule deer and sage grouse, however, show steep declines in their numbers since the gas boom began here about five years ago: a 46 percent decline for mule deer and a 51 percent decline for breeding male sage grouse. Early results from a study of pronghorn antelope show that they, too, avoid the gas fields.

Yet as these findings have come in, the wildlife biologists in the Pinedale office of the BLM have rarely gone into the field to monitor harm to wildlife.

"The BLM is pushing the biologists to be what I call 'biostitutes,' rather than allow them to be experts in the wildlife they are supposed to be managing," said Steve Belinda, 37, who last week quit his job as one of three wildlife biologists in the BLM's Pinedale office because he said he was required to spend nearly all his time working on drilling requests. "They are telling us that if it is not energy-related, you are not working on it."

Belinda, who had worked for 16 years as a wildlife biologist for the BLM and the Forest Service, said he came to work in the agency's Pinedale office 20 months ago because of the "world-class wildlife." He has quit to work here for a national conservation group, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, as its energy initiative manager.

Not only that, but the BLM seems to be issuing permits beyond even the oil and gas industries' capacity to make use of them: "In the past two years, the BLM issued a record 13,070 drilling permits on federal land, but industry drilled just 5,844 wells."

Raping and pillaging the landscape isn't confined to Iraq alone, it seems. What a miserable bunch of eco-terrorists this Administration is.

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Tone-deafness at 1600 Pa. Ave.

You gotta admire Bush. The other day he went to the National Renewable Energy Lab to talk about the great work those folks were doing. Unfortunately, his advance team didn't tell him that the NREL had laid off 32 people due to budget cuts for 2006. Think that might have been a little embarrassing? Well, Hey Presto! Suddenly, those 32 jobs were restored!

Just in time for Bush's trip there Tuesday. I'm sure those cuts were just an oversight, aren't you?

Then there's the ports deal. Here's a President who hasn't vetoed a single thing in five-plus years, and now he's threatening to veto any legislation Congress passes which might cause this deal to collapse? A deal which has a lot of Congresspeople outraged?

Dumb just isn't a strong enough word.

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February 21, 2006


Grrr. What a day. I found somebody who wants my old amplifier/receiver (see below), but the USPS Parcel Post shipping rate page doesn't inform you that the least expensive rate happens to be via boat, which means a 4-6 week time lag before it arrives at its destination. So I don't know whether that's gonna happen.

Then I go to the satellite city hall (at 2:30 in the afternoon, mind you) to renew my car registration, and the line is outside the office and into the mall proper. Okay, I say, I'll come back another time.

Then I go over to get pooch food, and as I'm coming out of the vet's office (Science Diet Senior Small Bites only for Tigger) it starts pouring buckets. I dodge as many raindrops as I can, and then notice the gas gauge is on empty.

Anyone want to exchange days?

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February 20, 2006


Nothing makes quite as much racket as bathroom curtain rings falling off a tilted rod, particularly when all the carpet has been taken up to wash.

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February 19, 2006

Turntable update

I found a Shure M91ED cartridge (sans stylus) in one of my dresser drawers, still in its packaging ($18.50, for the inflation historians among you). I can only assume I bought it and cannibalized the stylus to put into the Shure M75ED cartridge that's currently in the tone arm. That one looks to have part of a stylus broken off inside, so it's a good thing I've got the replacement M91ED. I found a place called Garage-a-records whose service and inventory is fortunately a lot better than their website (the frames! the frames!); I ordered an M91ED stylus from them last Saturday and it arrived yesterday. Now I'm awaiting a replacement belt from Elex Atelier, also ordered last Saturday.

To power this up, I just bought an Onkyo TX-8011. I gave up on having my old Sansui 5500 repaired when the two audio shops I called said "I don't do that" or "It would cost $300-$400 by the time I was done." The Onkyo is a 50 watt-per-channel amp with a phono input and the right kind of speaker connection (spring clips, not banana plugs); that ought to be more than sufficient for the size room I have the system in. It also has a CD input plug and two tape inputs. It'll power the Pioneer 88 speakers just fine.

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February 18, 2006

"The Inner Sanctum" returns

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that there are horror blogs, but I was. Carnacki pointed this out. It's got old time horror radio shows in mp3 format and a discussion of the show he links to. Fun stuff.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 17, 2006

Blogger's lunch

I just got back from the annual lunch with Bunny and her husband. We went to Anna Millers, which is a 24-hour coffee shop with dynamite pies. It's an easy trip for me; not so much for them, since they're coming from the Windward side of the island. Fortunately, they had an errand to run at See's Candies out this way.

This is the fourth time I've met up with Bunny, the third with both. It's always a fun experience.

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Spam lite

This may be the most succinct e-mail scam I've ever gotten.

From Collins and Joy Catim urgent assistance
Dearest one
Good day and God bless you
we are Collins and Joy Catim Please we need your urgent assistance to assist us to tranfer us$18.3m to your account and we will offer you 15% for you total help, and this money is from our late father, please kingly get back through this email address ( collins_joycatim@yahoo.com )or call us +22508550706 for more details
Best Regards
Collins and Joy Catim
Accédez au courrier électronique de La Poste : www.laposte.net ; 3615 LAPOSTENET (0,34 €/mn) ; tél : 08 92 68 13 50 (0,34€/mn)

Short and to the point. I like that.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

America the Beautiful?

If you've got a fast connection, go watch this.

It gives one pause, that's for sure.

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

February 16, 2006

Food wars

News Item:

Iranians love Danish pastries, but when they look for the flaky dessert at the bakery they now have to ask for "Roses of the Prophet Muhammad."

Bakeries across the capital were covering up their ads for Danish pastries Thursday after the confectioners' union ordered the name change in retaliation for caricatures of the Muslim prophet published in a Danish newspaper.

Right. Ok, I hereby decree that calves' liver will henceforth be named Bush's Brain.

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

New Abu Ghraib photos published

As I'm sure you know, a new set of photos has surfaced, first on Australian TV and now in Salon.

Old news, old news, says Rumsfeld.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, testifying Thursday on Capitol Hill, said the soldiers responsible for the Abu Ghraib abuses have been "punished for the behavior that was unacceptable."

But who created the climate in which those soldiers thought the abuses would be tolerated, Rummy? The "bad apples" argument is wearing a little thin, in light of stories like this.

Waivers, which are generally approved at the Pentagon, allow recruiters to sign up men and women who otherwise would be ineligible for service because of legal convictions, medical problems or other reasons preventing them from meeting minimum standards.

The article goes on to document instances of soldiers with drug convictions, assault, and other crimes being recruited into the Army. This isn't exactly "the few, the proud, the Marines" anymore.

(Both of those stories are from Salon, so watch the ad to get to them.)

Update: If you can't be bothered to watch the ad at Salon, some of the pictures are here. Don't click that link if you've got a weak stomach. The pictures are graphic, they're ugly, and they make me ashamed to be an American, and even more ashamed that the clowns that did this wore a similar uniform to the one I once did.

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February 15, 2006

While waiting for car repairs

I was stranded at the shop yesterday for about 2 hours, and the TV in the waiting room was set on Fox News. Good thing I had a book.

I'm about one-third through with The Handmaid's Tale, and it's amazingly close to James Dobson's desired reality (see the post below about evangelicals and the US Air Force).

Slouching toward Gilead, we are.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The USAF is afraid of evangelicals

I'm getting really tired of Focus on the Family and other religious zealots forcing their views on the rest of us, but apparently the Air Force doesn't have a problem with it.

The Air Force, under pressure from evangelical Christian groups and members of Congress, softened its guidelines on religious expression yesterday to emphasize that superior officers may discuss their faith with subordinates and that chaplains will not be required to offer nonsectarian prayers.

I don't know about you, but if my superior officer started asking me if I'm saved or I've accepted Jesus, I'd be a little uncomfortable telling him to buzz off.

These "revised" guidelines essentially soften ones issued earlier this year after an outcry by several secular students at the Academy.

More on this at Balloon Juice, and earlier posts about it from me here, here, and here.

Here's a very well-written piece deploring this action from a Baptist pastor.

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February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!


  • Auto registration: $132.63
  • Vehicle Inspection: $ 14.75
  • Front Brake Overhaul: $374.61

  • Effect on wallet: Painful!

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Puff pieces paid by people

From a GAO report on media buys by the government between 2003 - 2005, we learn that seven departments in the Bush Administration have spent $1.6 billion dollars on advertising and public relations. In two-and-a-half years.

The federal government contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, media organizations, and individual members of the media to provide, among other things, messages about its programs and services. As we have reported, there is a lack of accurate governmentwide information on these contracts.

Seven federal departments account for nearly all the obligated federal dollars for public relations and advertising activities in fiscal year 2003—Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs.


The departments reported a total of 343 media contracts, for which they incurred obligations of $1.62 billion during the period of GAO’s review. Specifically, the departments reported 137 contracts (40 percent of the total contracts) with advertising agencies, 131 contracts (38 percent) with media organizations, 54 contracts (16 percent) with public relations firms, and 8 contracts (2 percent) with individual members of the media. For 13 contracts (4 percent), departments did not report on type of media firm.

The departments incurred obligations of $1.4 billion with advertising agencies (87 percent of the obligations), $197 million with public relations firms (12 percent), $15 million (1 percent) with media organizations, and $90,000 (less than 1 percent) with individual members of the media.

Some of this is undoubtedly reasonable. HHS was running TV ads for its Medicare prescription drug plan rollout (not that the ads seem to have done much good), the Defense department had to increase advertising to try to boost recruitment, and Interior likes to advertise its national parks. But why public relations? Could it be that the government has been doing such a bad job that more flackery was required?

Via Think Progress.

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February 13, 2006

Isn't this going overboard?

We've all seen that the Bush Administration likes to offer up distractions when bad news is about to be reported or an unfavorable report about its ineptitude is about to be issued, but surely shooting a man accidentally is over the top.

The report in question concerns government's response to Katrina:

What is most disturbing about the hurricane response, the draft report says, is that the entire catastrophe was so easily foreseen — given the weather reports and the precarious position of New Orleans as a below-sea-level city in a major hurricane zone — yet still the response was so flawed.

"It remains difficult to understand how government could respond so ineffectively to a disaster that was anticipated for years, and for which specific dire warnings had been issued for days," the report says. "This crisis was not only predictable, it was predicted."

Ah, but never mind; the Prez is on top of it.

"The president is less interested in yesterday and more interested with today and tomorrow," Mr. Abney said, "so that we can be better prepared for next time."

Right, because "yesterday" makes me look like a detached manager whose hiring skills are, shall we say, questionable.

I've worked with a few Ivy League MBAs; frankly, I'll take spinach.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 12, 2006

I've always said these guys can't shoot straight

In what appears to be a case of mistaken identity, Vice-President Cheney shot and wounded a lawyer yesterday.

There's no word yet on whether the lawyer was lobbying against tort reform at the time of the shooting.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:32 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Take me to your bandleader

What would you tell an alien from the planet Z9R2K if he/she/it asked you what pieces of music he should listen to if he wanted to learn about American culture?

I'd start with Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," add Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" followed by "Appalachian Spring" or "Rodeo," Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," George M. Cohan's "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues."

What would you say?

Idea borrowed from Tart at Shakespeare's Sister.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 11, 2006

Opening Ceremony

That was quite a show, I thought. NBC has a group blog written by producers and commentators. I especially liked the slightly snarky entry talking about the 70s-80s music which accompanied the Parade of Nations. One I don't think they mentioned was The Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star; how incongruous is that?

The main NBC Olympics page is here. It's chock full of video links, photos, and a handy tool for determining what's on which NBC-affiliated channel in your zip code.

Update: I did wonder why Brian Williams was paired with Bob Costas, and so did the New York Times.

Bob Costas was once again the NBC host, but he had a new partner at his side, the anchorman Brian Williams, stiffly dignified even though he wore a navy sweater over his shirt and tie. Neither man mentioned Couric, who played host to the last three opening ceremonies with Costas. Couric, star of "The Today Show," was also in Turin, but banished to network purdah.


NBC long ago perfected the art of pumping every Olympic moment with glycerin tears and swelling music, bringing Lifetime bathos to the world's most intense sporting competition. Costas, however, has a caustic, almost cerebral take on the Games, and Williams's Sgt. Joe Friday commentary did not provide much of a contrast.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:54 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 10, 2006

Web tricks

I just ran across this in Brad DeLong's comments. It's a free (for now) service called Furl, and it allots each user 5Gb of storage space to save web pages for future reference. Unlike Google's Desktop, it allows you to save only what you decide has value.

I can see a use for this if you've been led to a website you wouldn't normally go to and found something interesting you'd like a copy of.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rabbit to be named later now

As revered as Al Michaels is for his four Emmy awards, his wonderful call ("Do you believe in miracles? YES!") of the US Olympic hockey team's win over the Soviet Union team in 1980, and his broadcasts of Monday Night Football for the past twenty years, he is forever going to have this deal associated with him:

He was just traded to NBC Sports for a cartoon rabbit.

At least it's a real (well, visible) rabbit, unlike Jimmy Stewart's Harvey.

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

February 09, 2006

Fear sale

So the Bush Administration claims to have foiled a plot to hit a skyscraper in Los Angeles four years ago. Maybe I'm dumb, but reading that story, I don't see how his Administration and its policies had much to do with it. An unnamed country in Southeast Asia flipped a terrorist and they passed the word along to us. I'm very glad they did, but I suspect that might have been the case even had there been no September 11 and subsequent changes in policy.

We can count on our boy George, always trying to scare the public into believing he and his party are our true saviors.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The rant of the day

What he said. In spades.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 08, 2006

It's B-a-a-a-ck

Remember Social Security privatization? The proposal Bush put forward last year (with no details)? The one that got shot down by the public?

It's in the new budget.

Last year, even though Bush talked endlessly about the supposed joys of private accounts, he never proposed a specific plan to Congress and never put privatization costs in the budget. But this year, with no fanfare whatsoever, Bush stuck a big Social Security privatization plan in the federal budget proposal, which he sent to Congress on Monday.


Nevertheless, it's here. Unlike Bush's generalized privatization talk of last year, we're now talking detailed numbers. On page 321 of the budget proposal, you see the privatization costs: $24.182 billion in fiscal 2010, $57.429 billion in fiscal 2011 and another $630.533 billion for the five years after that, for a seven-year total of $712.144 billion.

In the first year of private accounts, people would be allowed to divert up to 4 percent of their wages covered by Social Security into what Bush called "voluntary private accounts." The maximum contribution to such accounts would start at $1,100 annually and rise by $100 a year through 2016.

Thus setting himself up for Miserable Failure, Social Security Division, Part II.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Remember young Mr. Deutsch, who insisted that "Big Bang" should have the word "theory" appended to it when it was used in NASA documents?

Apparently he never graduated from Texas A&M as he claimed. Worse, he falsified his résumé to say that he had. So, he's resigned, no doubt to spend more time with his family.

Political hacks are sprinkled all through Federal agencies. There used to be civil service laws to keep that from happening. Not any more.

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

February 07, 2006

Looking for compatibility

Pioneer PL-50A
Why is there no such thing as a phono cartridge/stylus compatibility chart at most of the current manufacturers' sites? All I want is a 1/2" mount cartridge for a 35-year-old turntable; is that too much to ask?
Posted by Linkmeister at 04:03 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 06, 2006

He wouldn't lie, would he?

I don't understand this. At the outset of the NSA surveillance hearings, Gonzales wasn't sworn in to testify under oath?

When Mr. Feingold pushed to have Mr. Gonzales sworn in, Mr. Specter called for a vote. The committee voted, 10 to 8, along party lines not to have Mr. Gonzales sworn in.

Good Congressional oversight, Republicans.

Live blogging here, among other places.

Digby wonders about the self-emasculation of Republican Senators too. Party über alles!

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:28 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Not-so-memorable ads

Here's a link to the Super Bowl ads, for those who didn't watch the game or want to confirm that they saw what they thought they saw.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 05, 2006

Super Bowl XLI - 1

The zebras stunk up the joint. (No, not the ones in Pearls Before Swine.)

On the other hand, the crab dip went over very well, even with only four attendees.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The One True Science

Before you scratch your head too much about Muslims rioting and burning down buildings over a bunch of tasteless cartoons, consider this:

In October, for example, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times.


The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements.

In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."

It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."

I deplore the actions of mobs in the Middle East, but we seem to live in our own glass house, or at least have an awful lot of picture windows.

Seen first at Pharyngula

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February 04, 2006

Super Bowl XL

On the theory that one shouldn't muck with success, I'm offering up last year's dip (oops; a newly-made bowl of the dip I made last year) for my annual trek across town to watch the game.

  • 6 oz. can crab
  • 8 oz. block cream cheese
  • 10.5 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • .5 cup mayonaisse
  • Garnish with something green

Heat cream cheese, soup and gelatin, mixing till fully combined. Stir in balance of ingredients and chill.

As for the game itself, I guess I'm gonna root for the Seahawks, since this is their first trip to the big game. Also, they're on the West Coast, much closer to me than Pittsburgh.

You won't find that kind of scintillating analysis on ESPN, CBS, or ABC.

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February 03, 2006

"Ridin' that Train"

Ooh! Once a long time ago there was a poster trying to show musical family trees; now there's one which attempts the same thing, but using the London Underground as the schematic.

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He never ceases to amaze me

Holy biomass, Bushman! Remember how Bush was gonna pump up research into biofuels? Not so fast!

The Energy Department will begin laying off researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the next week or two because of cuts to its budget.

A veteran researcher said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol. Those are two of the technologies that Mr. Bush cited on Tuesday night as holding the promise to replace part of the nation's oil imports.

The budget for the laboratory, which is just west of Denver, was cut by nearly 15 percent, to $174 million from $202 million, requiring the layoff of about 40 staff members out of a total of 930, said a spokesman, George Douglas. The cut is for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.

Amazing, ain't it? We're gonna focus on...whoops! No we're not!

To quote Brad DeLong, "Impeach George Bush. Impeach him now."

Via Suburban Guerilla

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February 02, 2006

Git your RPGs here!

News Item:

A former contract official for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq has pled guilty to conspiracy to steal over $2M and award contracts to a particular businessman in exchange for $1M in cash and goods.

If you're gonna take kickbacks...

Stein, who has an earlier federal fraud conviction, used the money he stole or was paid by Bloom to buy a single-engine Cessna airplane, a top-of-the-line Porsche and other cars, grenade launchers, machine guns, diamond rings and other jewelry, and property in North Carolina, he said in his signed statement.

Now that's eclectic taste! Machine guns? Grenade launchers?

Stein said he helped steer more than $8.6 million in contracts to companies controlled by Bloom, a U.S. citizen who has lived in Romania for many years. The contracts were for less than $500,000 each, the limit of Stein's authority as the top contracting official in Hillah, 50 miles south of Baghdad.


The statement includes frank e-mails between Stein and Bloom about payments and phony bids for contracts. "I love to give you money," Stein wrote after approving a $200,000 contract for the police academy in January 2004.

If there were any honest Republican Congresspeople (yes, yes, an oxymoron, I know) there'd be a special prosecutor looking into war profiteering in Iraq.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bloody Marys

I like Bloody Marys, although I no longer drink booze. I'll happily drink the bottled mix, but if you want to jazz up a batch of them for the Super Bowl, the LA Times has several recipes. Most sound good, but they've got one with Scotch. Scotch? With tomato juice?

Highland Mary

Total time: 2 minutes

Servings: 1

Note: From the Blvd. at the Regent Beverly Wilshire

  • 1 1/2 ounces premium Scotch

  • 3 ounces tomato juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon prepared horseradish

  • 2 to 3 drops Tabasco

  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • Pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 sprig rosemary

Combine the Scotch, tomato juice, horseradish, Tabasco, Worcestershire and salt in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour over ice in a tall glass. Garnish with the sprig of rosemary, slightly bruised.

You might have to hold me down to get me to try that.

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

5,549 payroll screwups?

"Four months," he said. "I didn't get paid for four months."

"My first instinct was to jump farther back into the Humvee, you know, for protection," Simpson said. "But in doing that, I opened my back up to all the scrap metal and debris, which hit my spine and severed my spine, paralyzing me."

He was soon on a plane home.

Fast-working, skilled Army doctors saved his life, as they have so many.

Slow, bumbling Army bureaucrats would make his life miserable, as they have so many.

"And the military basically is, like, they turn their back on you, you kind of feel that you've just been used," Simpson said.

It started with a phone call from his wife, home with their four children. She didn't have enough money to pay the bills.

"And she was like, well, we haven't been paid," Simpson said. "And you know, instantly I was like, I don't know what to do. You know, I'm still in the hospital. I can't actually get up and go around and talk to these different people."

And until "Nightline" inquired at the Pentagon, Simpson said he could not find out what happened.

"Every day is something different," he said. "Well, this person isn't in. I'll have them call you back, give it a couple days. Couple days go by, I call back, well I got somebody else for you to talk to. And days lead to weeks, and weeks lead to months."

It turns out the Army had mistakenly continued to pay Simpson a combat duty bonus while he was in the hospital.

He had been overpaid thousands of dollars, and the Army wanted the money back.


[Colonel] Shrank could not name an exact number, but the Army told "Nightline" that 5,549 soldiers, or about one out of five soldiers who were removed from battle for medical reasons later had payroll problems.

The fabled $600 toilet seats were bad enough, but when you screw up your people's pay this badly, it can't even be blamed on the procurement system.

Is it any wonder there's a wee bit of skepticism about Donald Rumsfeld and his people's abilities to manage complicated things like war?

In 1974 the Oakland Athletics were on their way to a World Series. In June of that year they had a particularly frustrating loss, and Sal Bando said of his manager, "he couldn't manage a meat market."

Neither can Rummy.

Via Julia

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

February 01, 2006

I'd rather switch


During his speech last night, Mr. Bush talked about various types of energy, including ethanol made from switchgrass. What the hell is switchgrass? Well, somebody has actually thought of using it as a biofuel.

Biofuel is fuel derived from plants. One biofuel, ethanol, is primarily made from corn and grain sorghum and blended with gasoline, but ethanol also can be made from other plant matter, waste dairy products and grasses such as switchgrass. Research has shown that, with the right infrastructure, ethanol could be produced from switchgrass more efficiently than from corn.


"Ethanol is blended with petrofuels to increase combustion and decrease pollutants. The problem is, most ethanol now in use is made from corn, and the total energy output/input ratio is about 1.2. This means the net energy gain from corn ethanol is about 21 percent. The energy output/input ratio for switchgrass is estimated at 4.4, representing a net energy gain of 334 percent."

Personally, I think is pie in the sky (or in the dirt) compared to the amount of energy which could be conserved by upping the automobile fuel economy standards, but I thought you'd like to know.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack