Monday, June 30, 2003

oh. it's still here.

Imiting the inimitable style of Robot Wisdom, stuff:

bush's interesting day
memory hole video thereof

how not to make a living, via A&L daily (ie don't write)

i am john's brain (and haven't a clue what i'm doing)

interview with john maynard smith (via wired). one of those rare people who always makes enormous sense. a clarifier. evolutionary biologist.

Margaret Atwood on dystopias:
Democracies have traditionally defined themselves by, among other things - openness and the rule of law. But now it seems that we in the west are tacitly legitimising the methods of the darker human past, upgraded technologically and sanctified to our own uses, of course. For the sake of freedom, freedom must be renounced. To move us towards the improved world - the utopia we're promised - dystopia must first hold sway...

Sunday, June 08, 2003


my mind such as it is has not been into blogging of late. so if you expect incisive commentary and breaking news, expect them elsewhere.

Article on how newspapers steal from each other:
If the Tacoma dust-up is any guide, smaller papers will push the majors to admit when they simply rewrite stories already in circulation. Also, outlets like the Post and the Times will have to be more careful with attributions...

Instapundit via Boston Phoenix Media Log pointing to email re stringers doing virtually all the writing of Latin America stories - "the New York Times and other large media institutions simulate their "news" coverage from the region with "parachutists" - the "official" correspondents (desk reporters) who drop into Latin America's cities and towns briefly to be able to claim they "reported" the story from there..."

Advances in lie detectors. What will this do to politics?

Oldish but interesting - build your own [relative] skyscraper without a permit:'s the biggest, most impressive-looking structure an individual can construct without breaking the law.

...if his building didn't exceed 35 feet in height and had no more than 400 square feet of floor space, he could build it without permits -- or the fees, inspections and delays that go with them. With his tongue playfully planted in his cheek, he says that he is just an artist who has made a sculpture that happens to function like a house that happens to look like a skyscraper.

also not fresh: Buddhists have the best pattern of prefrontal cortex activity. I wonder (if both are stalled) if it's possible to jump-start the left one without first waking up the right one, which does not feel so good...

Friday, June 06, 2003


either it's me or the world has been quiet of late - aside from the BugBear worm, media ownership deregulation dooming democracy, upcoming U.S. fiscal trainwreck, cutting families of poor kids from the $400 tax credit, and saber rattling re nuclear capabilities of Iran, there doesn't seem to be much going on.

From the BBC, CIA spies shun computers:
In the movies, spies and intelligence agents are the ones with the cool gadgets and state-of-the-art equipment, but their real life counterparts are far behind
the search system of the main database is so "primitive" that analysts searching for information get better results calling other workers than they do by querying the computer system.

Dan Kennedy of Boston Phoenix on The elusive truth about those missing Iraqi antiquities ("So what happened, exactly? It’s hard to say...") - does a good job of pulling the pieces together and putting them in context.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich's open letter to Rumsfield, Does the Pentagon Have Amnesia on Lynch? on the discrepancies in the accounts of her rescue:
there is a wide gap between the facts as reported initially and the manner in which they are being reported now. As I understand the Defense Department's position, these recent accounts are "outrageous, patently false and unsupported by the facts."(3) At the same time, Defense Department officials now seem to be qualifying their earlier statements...

I believe it is time for the Department of Defense to fully disclose what happened.
First, I request that you order the public release of the unedited footage taken by the military cameraman of the military operation to recover Private Lynch.
Second, I would like you to answer formally the following questions about the health status of Private Lynch and the military operation to recover her.
Finally, I understand the Department has ordered an investigation into the facts surrounding Private Lynch's capture by Iraqi forces. I also understand, however, that investigators were not asked to examine the circumstances surrounding Private Lynch's rescue...

No word on any response.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

local stuff

Sac News & Review article on presidential candidate Kucinich, for those who missed his recent appearance up here.

SF Chronicle today on plans to reopen the Idaho-Maryland mine

haven't yet pointed to Tuesday's Mattson progress report of city response to proposed Grass Valley developments, pointing out that it's five times the amount of growth specified in the city's General Plan.

where will all the traffic go?

recent sign of "progress" - sighted a pigeon - common, not band-tailed - at my offramp. There goes the neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

compare and contrast

Chris Mooney reporting on the cultural/political differences between the U.S. and Switzerland:
In the end, I think the Swiss managed to teach me at least as much about our own country as they did about Switzerland...

...conservatism in Switzerland, such as it is, is quite different from conservativism in the U.S...

...while we Americans were sharply divided in each political debate that arose -- even to the point of heckling one another -- the Swiss came across as moderate, reasoned, conciliatory, and much more able to engage in balanced discussions. Though they disagreed very much amongst themselves about questions such as whether Switzerland should join the EU, they were far better at carrying out this disagreement in a reasoned and productive way.

...while in the end I thought quite highly of my Swiss colleagues, I can't help slightly fearing what they must have thought of us.

via Atrios, Denver post article on changing the tone in Washington:
When President Bush gave his first formal campaign speech as a candidate for re-election last week, he cited his efforts to curtail partisan rancor and "change the tone in Washington." ...

"We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship," said Grover Norquist, a leading Republican strategist, who heads a group called Americans for Tax Reform.

"Bipartisanship is another name for date rape," Norquist, a onetime adviser to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, said, citing an axiom of House conservatives.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003


Salam Pax's boss finds out. It would be a surprise...

via Dan Gillmor, tooth-gnashing article on the credit reporting agencies and how it is in their interest to include items in your credit report that may not belong to you. Social security number doesn't match? name doesn't match? no problem...     What surprises me is that nobody sues the pants off them.

Conversational Terrorism:
First, we have the Ad Hominem Variants where you attack the person as a way to avoid truth, science or logic which might otherwise prove you wrong.

Next are the Sleight of Mind Fallacies, which act as "mental magic" to make sure the unwanted subject disappears.

Then we move on to Delay Tactics, which are subtle means to buy time when put on the spot.

Then the ever popular Question as Opportunity ploys, where any question can be deftly averted.

Finally, we have the General Irritants, which are basically "below the belt" punches and cheap-shots...

Monday, June 02, 2003


Apparently Josh Marshall is being labeled a conspiracy theorist - bad move, to try that on a perceptive guy:
To say that people have been dishonest isn't the same as saying they've engaged in a 'conspiracy'. It just means they haven't told the truth... But, of course, a charge of dishonesty has to be refuted on the merits while labeling an argument a 'conspiracy theory' allows you to dismiss it out of hand.
And if you'll have a difficult time refuting the claim on the merits, that gives an added incentive to play the 'conspiracy' card.
it suddenly occurred to me: most of the characters calling me a conspiracy theorist spent a big chunk of the last decade pushing the claim that Vince Foster had been whacked in a safehouse in Northern Virginia and then dumped off at Fort Marcy Park to make it look like a suicide. And then, well ... suddenly the sun started shining a bit brighter and the blue sky sloughed off its clouds. And somehow all seemed well with the world. Or at least with my neighborhood -- I don't want to project.

Shades of Mr. Weismann...

Word for today -
Screed. 1 a : a lengthy discourse b : an informal piece of writing
Interesting that Webster's has not yet caught up with common usage, which (at least locally) has invariably been pejorative.
Update: dead tree Webster's is more perceptive (and verbose) than online Websters, and _does_ note "esp. a diatribe".

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Scare, sell, blog

NY Times SARS quarantinee account:
As the mayor of Taipei was ordering everyone to wear [masks] on the subway, the SARS czar, a very respected doctor, was politely saying that masks were medically pointless because the only people who need them are those with SARS and those treating or living with them. A mask does far more good on a sick person, keeping the germs in, than on a healthy one.

But the mayor was right: Masks are a huge psychological barrier. If you can scare everyone into wearing them, then the tiny minority who really need them aren't ashamed to.

via Michael Taht, Economist articles on the current real estate bubble
...overvalued house prices cannot regain their long-term equilibrium mainly through inflation, as they have done in the past. Instead, house prices will have to fall by at least 20% in money terms in most of the countries with bubbles.

If the housing bubbles burst, the economic consequences will be much more severe than those of the recent stockmarket crash, because more households own homes than own shares, and because home-owners are up to their necks in debt.

Keep in mind that they correctly predicted the double-dip recession.

via Tom Nadeau, Guardian's If you really want to know, ask a blogger, which handily covers (and deflates) the "weblogs aren't journalism" and "their Google page ranks are too high" claims:
Assiduous students of the print media will have noticed its practitioners becoming increasingly exercised about 'blogging' - the practice of publishing web-logs or online journals...
when it comes to many topics in which I have a professional interest, I would sooner pay attention to particular blogs than to anything published in Big Media - including the venerable New York Times. This is not necessarily because journalists are idiots; it's just that serious subjects are complicated and hacks have neither the training nor the time to reach a sophisticated understanding of them - which is why much journalistic coverage is inevitably superficial and often misleading, and why so many blogs are thoughtful and accurate by comparison.
One reason blogs show up so prominently in Google searches is because weblogs are available on the web while Big Media sources increasingly are not. Instead they are locked behind pay-for firewalls.


from today's editorial, Anti-war activists' day in court a sorry affair, re trial of antiwar protestors for blocking sidewalk -
...Please. This is embarrassing to watch...

The most embarrassing thing - to a U.S. citizen - is what was said outside the courtroom. From a friend:
when i left the courtroom for a moment...the [court official] came out too and exclaimed to the cops sitting on a bench outside the courtroom waiting [to] testify: they should have shot those fuckers.

talking about shock and awe. i was speechless. it took me a while to compose myself in the restroom, but taking a deep breath i went out and confronted the cops by saying: did you just hear the [court official] say they should have shot those fuckers? almost immediately and in unison they answered: no mam, we did not hear a thing.

this was almost worse. i felt caught and outraged and scared...

[he] actually admitted he had said those words. of course i still have cops testifying, the very ones who lied to me and closed ranks on me...