Tuesday, February 26, 2002- - -
The problems at my ISP seem to have healed themselves and the down time has allowed me some serious nose-to-the-grindstone moments. I’m finishing up a major section of the project I’ve been working on all winter. I’ve finally got all the maps, photos, artifact illustrations, radiocarbon dates, feature information, and all the other minutia where it can be laid out in one place. Very interesting. Putting it all together into a comprehensive report is requiring a lot of concentration. The materials are from one of the largest archaeological excavations ever conducted in Wyoming and the final result will be worth the effort. And I will be heartily glad to be done with it.
Sunday, February 24, 2002- - -
And then it's back. The internet is being snarky and cranky today..
Hmmm. Now my ISP is gone again. Shut down just as I was starting a series of blogs. A lonely feeling losing internet access. Makes me identify with the rank filers at the BLM and BuRec & such. I imagine someone somewhere is taking advantage of the weekend ‘downtime’ to do some upgrade or repair..
Dave Barry goes to the Grand Cities
Dave Barry says: “I went to Grand Forks, N.D., in January. .. I arrived at Grand Forks International Airport on a subzero Tuesday night. I have never been so cold in my life. And that was inside the terminal. Outside it was much worse. I'm pretty sure wolves were stalking me as I staggered across the wind-whipped parking lot, wondering if there could be a colder place on the planet.”
No Dave, There isn’t any colder place. Siberia is about the same. Extreme continental climate. I saw a bull moose in the alley behind my apartment one might when I went to school there, so I wouldn’t be surprised by wolves, either..
Barry goes on: “During my visit, roughly once every four minutes a North Dakotan would remind me, in a nice way, that they have hardly any crime up there .. I can't argue with them: It does feel very safe up there, and everybody does seem to get along, despite the fact that the population is quite diverse, ranging all the way from people whose ancestors immigrated from Norway, to people whose ancestors immigrated from a different part of Norway.”
I see in today’s Red Star Tribune (020224; no link) that the BLM is supposed to be back on line. I’ll send off an email and see..
And I shouldn’t be so hard on them. Today, Levendosky says “National ID cards strangle freedom.“ A topic we can agree on. That is unusual.
That was interesting. My ISP went AWOL. No internet. For several hours yesterday. That was OK though, I spent most of the day and this morning putting up new curtains in the living room and bedrooms, and resting on my laurels.
Saturday, February 23, 2002- - -
Without having much clue how the mechanics of Blogger and the internet really work, I note that Anton Sherwood is experiencing the mysterious missing archives problem:
Says he: "While I'm up: I notice that my archive index has only one entry, when it ought to have three. I'll change the link to point to the directory, and trust y'all to find what you're after."
I've had 'disappearing archives' problems and one of the primetime bloggers mentioned a similar problem a few days ago. Of course, I can't find that link again. The gist of the problem was that the default 'Internet Options' he had set for his browser were accessing a previously downloaded version of a blog that had been saved in his 'Temporary Internet Files' folder, rather than getting a refreshed file from the net. Because the archives that make individual permalinks work seem to be in a separate file that's not downloaded and thus not available offline, his browser hacked the "#9999999" sub-reference extension and took him to the top of the blog he was accessing, rather than to the individual item link he was trying to follow.
I've noticed that I can recreate this problem by trying to follow internal links within this blog (links where I've referenced something I’ve previously written in this blog), while I'm working with an off-line version of the blog that's saved in my 'Temporary Internet Files' folder. Rather than finding the individual post, this drops the "#9999999" sub-reference and takes me to the top of the blog.
When working with an off-line version of my blog that's saved in my 'Temporary Internet Files' folder, the archives entries also disappear.
Of course, this is all complete BS because it's not science at all, It Is Magic. Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn't. If fiddling with the default Internet Options vis Temporary Internet Files doesn’t work, try threatening it with a hammer..
Friday, February 22, 2002- - -
Anton Sherwood takes on Social Darwinism and the whole silly idea of letting the state select the winners and losers in society. A wee excerpt from an excellent analysis: “In a world dominated by the ethic of trade, fit means uniquely or efficiently satisfying the desires of others. In a world dominated by so-called Social Darwinism or bureaucratic egalitarianism, fit means able to play the rulers' game.”
Yes, the lovely Game of Princes, speaking of which:
Farther along and drawing on his run-in with Tom, Dick, and Harry, Anton opines that: “I have the impression that, to the police, whatever they do to you is "no harm no foul" so long as you're not wrongly convicted, no matter what inconvenience and discomfort you've suffered meanwhile. But that impression comes largely from television shows sympathetic to the police.”
Hmm. Actually, as Anton had observed elsewhere, it’s apparently common for our law enforcement and court system to feel that there’s no foul even if they knowingly execute an innocent, so long as it’s done within the letter of the law.
We used to have peace officers. Now we have law enforcement officers. The difference is more than just semantics.
Andrew Hofer takes on that music I only hear when I accidentally turn on NPR. You know what he means, that stuff that sounds like someone beating a cat with a bass fiddle.. Says Andrew: “Musically enjoyable? not really. And I got the sense 98% of the audience was pretending to enjoy it in that "Emperor's New Clothes" sort of way. Why do we do this? Because it is "important"?
No. Having a good fly rod is important. Having a place to use it, priceless..
Kick ‘em While They’re ‘Down’
A while back I received a note from J Bowen: “Greetings from No Watermelons Allowed, where you have been linked for a while now.
I remember a few years ago there was some fuss about reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone. You're in Wyoming - how did it go over?
This is a very sore topic for a lot of people here. There's three sides to the argument: The ranchers, a lot of whom don't want any wolves anywhere under any circumstances; the wildlife lovers who want to come to Yellowstone and *actually see* a wolf; and those of us who knew there were already wolves in Yellowstone (I'd seen one just north of there near Gardner MT). Note that in the second article no one disputes that there were 'naturally occurring' wolves in the area.
Here’s the rub: The 'naturally occurring' wolves didn't seem to hunt in packs, didn't vocalize much at all, and seemed much more nocturnal than the Canadian Gray Wolves. The population of these wolves was very small and they hadn't been studied much at all, but it appears entirely possible that, based on behavior, they were a distinct subspecies.
Unfortunately, the original reports of the Dec. 1997 court case, Judge William Downes presiding, in which the American Farm Bureau Federation challenged the introduction of the Canadian wolves don’t appear to be available on line. In that case, under oath in court, some US Fish and Wildlife Service jerk admitted that they knew there were already wolves in Yellowstone and that they might be a distinct subspecies. But under political pressure from the great democratic Masses, they went ahead and introduced Canadian wolves anyway.
There were two or three possible explanations for the wolves in Yellowstone prior to introduction of the foreigners: They may have been there all along and survived due to their unusually elusive behavior; they may have been a recently developed subspecies (due to genetic isolation of the population); or they may have been introduced clandestinely by folks who couldn’t wait for the feds to do their nefarious job. As the gene pools of the 'naturally occurring' and introduced wolves have been inextricably mingled, we'll never know now.
Bottom line, under intense political pressure the US Fish and Wildlife Service may have knowingly caused the extinction of a very rare critter. All the wildlife organizations who brought that pressure to bear now celebrate this as a great victory ‘for the wolves.’
Good job, boys.
Thursday, February 21, 2002- - -
This is getting ridiculous. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, presiding in the Cobell v. Norton Indian Trust class action said today that he has been "duped" by the federal government, criticizing officials and attorneys for playing "word games" with the assets of 300,000 American Indians.
"It's beyond my belief how the court ever gets control," Lamberth added.
But Lamberth questioned whether forcing the Department of the Interior to fulfill its trust obligations would improve matters. Attorneys representing the Individual Indian Money beneficiaries have asked for a court order to do just that.
"What good would that do?" Lamberth wondered. "They haven't obeyed a court order I made yet."
Via the InstaPundit (where else?) I’ve found another delightful blog: Rich Hailey’s Shots Across the Bow. A lot of well thought out commentary on a variety of subjects.
Here’s another good one for all my fellow winos: Coastal Ridge California Cabernet, 1999. I picked up a bottle yesterday, about $6, and had a glass. It was OK. But I forgot the bottle on the counter and it did some serious breathing overnight. Now it’s very nice. Rich varietal blackberry flavor, good legs, quite full, long finish, a bit of oak, and just a hint of tannin. It probably won’t keep much longer but I called today and ordered a case. Not good for emergencies, let it breath a long time.
BTW, did I mention that at altitude everyone’s a cheap drunk? Another good reason to move to Wyoming.
The ol’ Coyote has been in business as a blogger for one month now. I’ve reached some tentative conclusions: The best part of blogging is the response I’ve gotten. I’ve received some very interesting and totally entertaining email and ‘met’ some interesting people. And I’ve gotten some very odd email and met some odd people—but so far no one odder than me .. Through Sgt. Stryker I’ve relocated an old friend I haven’t seen in 20 years. Most significantly, I’ve been forced to think very carefully about a lot of things I thought I just knew.
The tricks our minds can play on us. Earlier I’d said that my first full time job involved working with an IBM 4341 mainframe. Funny that I forgot the summer I spent pumping septic tanks..
Here’s something that makes me Bellicose
Via Anton Sherwood comes this report from Salon, who say: “Because of the urgency of the death penalty case examined in the following article, we are taking the unusual step of making this Premium story available to all Salon readers.” Mighty white of them..
Says Salon: Missouri is determined to execute Joseph Amrine for murder even though every prosecution witness and the jury foreman now say he's innocent and new witnesses point to another man. Why? A federal law says the evidence came in too late. ..
He is facing execution despite the fact that the three prisoners who testified against him at his trial have subsequently recanted their testimony. They say they were pressured by prison authorities to lie, and then rewarded for it.
Amrine's case is important because the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals used his appeal in establishing a precedent limiting the ability of criminals to introduce new evidence of their innocence. A three-judge panel held that the testimony of other inmates .. was not sufficient to require a new hearing, because the defense could have obtained that evidence at the original trial, through due diligence, but did not.
Legal experts say that precedent placed a chilling new limit on death-penalty appeals. In plain language, it means there may be eye witnesses to a murder discovered after a trial, who were never heard by a jury, who can attest to a person's innocence. But if for some reason the defense overlooked them or failed to call them at the trial, the person should die anyway.
We wouldn’t want to see a convicted murderer getting off on a little technicality like that, would we?
Apparently bellicosity, or at least reporting of such isn’t allowed in Canada. This link from the InstaPundit “.. could not be found.”
Luckily, we have another take from security at Salt Lake on bellicosity levels in the Great White North: A Canadian skater kept approaching the stairs up to the ice, only to be told that, for security purposes, we had to stop everyone, even if we knew them: "I'm not a security threat: I'm Canadian."
Gotta love ‘em.
Samizdata excerpts a press release from the London based Libertarian Alliance about an outrageous case in Britain. The release doesn’t appear to be on-line, but here’s the gist of the situation:
Says the UK News Telegraph: John Lambert, 58, of Spalding, Lincs, is understood to have been at home watching television with his wife when Darren Taylor, 29, and another man allegedly broke in and confronted them.
One of the robbers is believed to have held a 12-in knife to Mr Lambert's wife's throat and demanded £5,000. It is thought that in the ensuing struggle Taylor, of Market Deeping, Lincs, was stabbed to death.
After the incident on Feb 10 Mr Lambert, who was not injured, was questioned by police for two days before being released on bail pending further enquiries.
According to Samizdata, Libertarian Alliance spokesman and Director, Dr Chris R. Tame, says:
"It is a sign of a morally corrupt society that Mr Lambert should have been held by the police for two days and is even now facing the insult of further police inquiries. ..
Yet again it is quite clear that the police, like all nationalised industries, have no real interest in their "customers", but would rather persecute both those who defend themselves and other easy targets. ..
I understand that Mr. Lambert killed Taylor with the thug's own knife. Good thing he didn't shoot him.
The Indianz bailed out NYC?
Chris Lombardi at The Nation has an overview of the Cobell v. Norton case, with some good background on Indian Trusts. Here are a few excerpts:
The trust was set up in 1887, when Native people were judged incompetent to manage the income from their lands. The Interior Department was charged with managing the lands while the Treasury Department would oversee the trust, invest the funds and compensate the lands' owners. "In a way, the US government has been a real estate broker, buyer, bank and accounts-payable agent," says Cassandra Sweet, a Seattle journalist who has written about Indian treaty rights issues.
Says Elouise Cobell, plaintiff in the suit: "I see Native people dying every day because they can't afford health insurance .. one woman I know has seven oil wells on her property, and she gets about $1,000 a year."
Cobell's suit, a class action now representing nearly half a million Indians from dozens of tribes, made two demands. One, that the trust system be fixed--that is, made transparent and be required to operate according to generally accepted banking principles. Two, that a historical accounting be made of the money lost over the trust's 110-year life.
So, where did the money go?
Lombardi goes on to say: Funds from the lands managed by the trust were dumped into Treasury's general fund, using an accounting code not unique to those properties, and thus turned into a slush fund that was apparently used to bail out Chrysler and New York City during its fiscal crisis in the 1970s, among other purposes over the course of the past century.
"I've never seen more egregious misconduct by the federal government," said Judge Royce C. Lamberth in his decision for the plaintiffs in early 1999. In November 1996 it became clear that key documents were missing in five Federal Reserve offices. The Clinton Administration waited two years to produce the rest, leading to contempt citations against both Babbitt and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin--and shortly afterward, Interior admitted destroying 162 boxes of documents.
Lamberth then appointed both a special master, Alan Balaran, and a court monitor, Joseph Kieffer, to track the government's cooperation. Over and over again, Interior and Treasury have claimed to be fixing the problems with the system only to have Balaran and Kieffer come forward to say that they'd barely begun, Kieffer using phrases like "government malfeasance" to describe what he'd found.
What do Cobell and her lawyers want? For starters, a night or two in jail for Norton, "to get her attention." More broadly, the demand is for the trust funds to be placed into receivership with some neutral financial institution, until it functions under generally accepted fiduciary principles. Native American banking systems have grown more and more sophisticated, with a late-2001 merger creating the Native American National Bank. Under the leadership of people like Cobell, they're savvy about what's being done with their money. They're demanding a neutral arbiter, not Norton's proposed bureau, which would, according to Cobell, "just move some of the same bureaucrats into another division."
Even the right-wing Washington Times says simply, "The mystery is why Mrs. Norton, or the folks in the West Wing, don't just settle the case once and for all." If they don't, and soon, not only will Norton and her deputy Neal McCaleb be at risk of jail time or fines (which Lamberth has said will be paid out of their pockets and not government coffers) ..
Ah! Perhaps if this issue could be re-framed as a right wing conspiracy the Indianz might see more concern from the major media.
February 12th, the Department of the Interior issued this press release re Cobell v. Norton:
WASHINGTON - Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced she has authorized the Office of Trust Funds Management to begin issuing estimated oil and gas payments to Indian trust beneficiaries.
Now, via Indianz:
[U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth] overseeing the trust fund exploded in court on Wednesday, threatening to hold Secretary of Interior Gale Norton in contempt for failing to make millions of dollars in long-delayed payments to Indian landowners.
Department officials and attorneys admitted yesterday none have been made.
"I don't understand the continued delay," Lamberth said. "I just don't get it."
He’s not alone.
Via Indianz comes further proof of the widening influence of bloggerdom. In an obvious attempt to capitalize on this recent and wildly successful marketing ploy by Samizdata, Land O’Lakes has announced a $30 million advertising, marketing and public relations campaign that will carry an enhanced logo of the Indian maiden and the new slogan, "Where Simple Goodness Begins."
Wednesday, February 20, 2002- - -
A reader writes: “Blogspot is down again for the umpteenth time in 4 days...I thought they were getting their act together...is there some way that the blog-readership community could mount a campaign to suggest to them they get their act together??? If, like a lot of companies, they have failed to heed the obvious signs of an increase of an exponential factor instead of linear growth in activity, they should be spanked.
I should be spanked too, but we don’t always get what we want..
In the mean time, besides buying the header ads from blogs we like, there’s something else that at least some of us can do to avoid and relieve the clogged pipes:
Figure that most folks’ presence is requested in the workplace at 8am or 9am local time, Monday through Friday. Coffee breaks come either on the hour or on the half, mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Figure that the boss probably frowns on blogging on the job.
From this, I would predict that all the wage slaves might have a tendency to get in a little surfing and blogging in those few minutes before they are ‘on the clock’ in the morning and during their morning and afternoon breaks. Thus, the predicted highest traffic times for Blogger should be in the morning 7:45-8:00, 8:45-9:00, 9:30-9:45, 10:00-10:15, and 10:30-10:45. There might be a bit of a spike between 12:00-1:00 pm from those who eat at the oars. Then there should be spikes between 2:00-2:15, 2:30-2:45, and 3:00-3:15.
Now take a look at the Samizdata graph of visitor time zones. I would predict that Blogger usage over a 24 hour period should also conform to this graph. Thus, the highest traffic and slowest access should be at the times stated above, WST. Next busiest at those same times EST, and so on.
Someone with a stop watch and plenty of time on their hands could test this prediction by graphing Blogger access time at five minute intervals throughout the day. Of course, to be statistically valid you’d have to collect data for a month or more. Perhaps someone with more computer sophistication than I could find some way to derive this data from existing logs of access, if such exist. either way, have at it.
I use this reasoning to select log-in times when I blog and it seems to hold up fairly well. Figuring from my MST local time, I don’t even try to blog: 5:45-6:00, 6:45-7:00, 7:30-7:45, 8:00-8:15, and 8:30-8:45, 8:45-9:00, 9:45-10:00, 10:00-11:00, 10:30-10:45, 11:00-11:15, 11:30-11:45, 12:00-12:15, 12:30-12:45, 1:00-2:00, and 1:00-1:15, 3:00-3:15, 3:30-3:45, and 4:00-4:15. With times in bold being the heaviest due to the high west coast usage. Note also some overlaps.
So in MST, my weekday windows of opportunity are: before 5:45, 6:00-6:45, 7:00-7:30, 7:45-8:00, 8:15-8:30, 9:00-9:45, 11:15-11:30, 11:45-12:00, 12:15-12:30, 12:45-1:00, 2:00-3:00, 3:15-3:30, and 3:45-4:00. I figure that any time after 4 pm MST is toast due to heavy evening internet use.
So my 9:00-9:45 window is opening now.. Yep. Blogger is being relatively spry for its age.
Update: This reasoning derives from my experience in the bad old days of computerdom, when I noted that the geeks and the matrix mashers tended to be pale and pasty people. We'd all meet in the bowels of the CompSci building about 2am and work until dawn, then go home and crash when the proles showed.
Update #2: A reader responds— Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics!
...kinds of liars...
Your wonderful listing of times of possible usage w/possible bogdown levels is masterfully presented; howeverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr................ I don't think it even begins to explain the number of times that the damn little platelet popped up that the server couldn't even be found, according to my ISP, which usually, but not always, means that the hosting service has been pulled off-line. Also, there are not usually corresponding spike categories on Saturday and Sunday.
My very first REAL full-time job included compiling and analyzing data surrounding a particular economic activity in which the corporation was involved, because certain members of the corporate regime were absolutely certain that there was always a strong cause/effect relation, merely because the numbers seemed to run in some vague similar pattern. Right off the bat, at that tender age, I developed a HIGH level of skepticism about "statistics are always valid".
I do see a possibility that there may have been some correlation between blogspot's troubles and the Internet Traffic Report loggings out of Iowa; there's a great resource available [here]. With all sorts of more detailed stuff by clicking on through. Somewhere I remember picking up a tidbit that blogspot was located in Iowa.
I'd be the last to suggest that my statistics are valid, since I don't have any.. Only a hunch that there's a reason Blogger is so much faster at 4 am.
All I'm suggesting is that you'll have fewer problems if you try to hit Blogger and BlogSpot at times when they should be seeing lower use. It certainly doesn't account for times when it inexplicably goes belly up a 3 am, which it does. Saturday and Sunday might as well be written off. Some folks must surf all day, all weekend. And I shouldn’t talk, sometimes some of those folks is me.
However, if I'm even close to correct, the schedules of the 15 jillion users of blogger and thus, where they are located, should matter a lot more than where Blogger itself is physically located. That's why I point to the Samizdata visitor graph.. Moving Blogger to Siberia shouldn't help the situation.
Only a bigger pipe and/or higher capacity server will help and that costs $$, so buy those header ads!
As for the 'Error 404 site not found' messages, I think these are grossly overused to cover a variety of ills, including 'the pipe is full somewhere between here and there.' Note that one of the first things the message usually says is to hit 'refresh' and I've found that frequently works. I also got a 404 from every site I tried to visit one day - it turned out someone had dug up the fiber optic line outgoing from my ISP. While I could contact my ISP, they couldn't contact anyone. Yet the error message was just the standard 'site not found' over and over.
I have noted that when Blogger is down for maintenance a message comes up advising of that. Thus, I suspect that the problem is primarily one of clogged pipes and overloaded servers, possibly including some at points beyond the control of Blogger.
I advise patience. Of course, my first full time job involved working with an IBM 4341 mainframe operating in IBM OS 360, and programmed with punch cards [chad anyone?] so I’ve become accustomed to a good deal of computer-aided frustration.
But perhaps we should spank Ev, just on general principles. And he did start Blogger after all, suggesting to me that he might enjoy a good spanking..
Update #3: I'm posting this and the previous update during my 2:00-3:00 pm window. Blogger seems to be working just fine. Maybe it's just magic..
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia. An event that hasn’t happened in 891 years and won’t happen again for another 110 years. But it happens tonight at 8:02pm MST:
LONDON: Two minutes past eight on Wednesday night marks a millennial mathematical curiosity with time and date forming a rare triple palindrome - 20:02, 20/02/2002 - reading the same backwards and forwards. ..
John Cremona, pure mathematics professor at Britain's Nottingham University, said the last time that date and time were aligned in this way was on the morning of November 11, in the year 1111.
He said that the time, date and year would be palindromic again in 110 years, at 12 minutes past nine in the evening of December 21, 2112 - or 21:12, 21/12/2112.
Yep. In the notation I’ve been using to keep track of my off-line archives it will be 200202202002. Cool.
J. Bowen asks: “If life does not begin at conception, when does it begin? At what point does an individual have a life that we are obliged to honor?”
Hmmm. A lot of my friends are the ‘rents of soon-to-be teenagers, the actively teenaged, and those recently released from teenagery. I suspect that, if pressed, most would admit that at one time or another they have considered Robert Heinlein’s modest proposal that abortion be made retroactive to the age of 18. I believe that Heinlein meant the responsibility for such decisions to lie with the parents, but there are times when I wish the privilege were extended to the neighbors..
Dan Rector links to Dave Barry, who’s alive and well, and standing in a line to see the Luge.
Tom, Dick, and Harry: Anton Sherwood recounts the showdown at the South Hayward BART station.
When Heinlein suggested that ‘an armed society is a polite society’ I believe he was including the police in that polite group. Yes, most emphatically.
Tuesday, February 19, 2002- - -
I’ve noticed that you could graph when everyone on the coasts gets to work and when they take coffee breaks, just by the slowdown on Blogger.
Speaking of Cheese-eating Surrender Monkeys here’s a good example from the Northern Wyoming Daily News:
Woody Paige, the irrepressible sports columnist for the Denver Post, yes the one who called Invesco Field at Mile High the ‘Denver Diaphragm,’ (it looks like one and that’s what the people at Invesco called it secretly) has had his article from February 12th yanked. Purged. Flushed. Deleted. February 14th he apologizes, which will give you some idea what the article on the 12th was all about. (He mentioned weird underwear, among other things)
According to the Daily News, the cheese-eaters at the DP say that his article was only published in the first place because of an ‘editorial oversight. Dang! How did we let that get by?’
We called my mother-in-law, who subscribes to the DP and she confirms that it was indeed a nasty cut, but pulling it off the internet does seem a bit much after it’s seen ink. Come on guys, we want to read it too!
And now I feel guilty. I see that Bill Quick has his favorites re-organized in alphabetical order. I haven’t updated mine is weeks. Although I’ve purged one that’s defunct, I’ve got a lot of good ones that need to be added.
The InstaPundit doesn’t pussyfoot around on this one: “The drug warriors are losers and liars, to put it bluntly. Letting them anywhere near the war on terror is a recipe for defeat.” Nice to know that someone teaching law school is furthering that message.
As an attorney friend tells me, ‘It’s a victimless crime. There’s generally no complainant. Therefore, they couldn’t get a conviction without testilying at some point.’
Ah well, as an old Sergeant once told me (no, not that Sergeant, it was MSG Jon King, long, long ago), men are like street cars—there’s another one along every five minutes. Or was that women? It has been a long time. Never mind.
Good grief! I’d better have another 500ml of caffeine drip. I’ve been reviewing what I’ve blogged this am and realize that I can’t decide if I’m working with my right mind or not. half of this reads bottom up, and half top down. Tsk.
Via Sgt. Stryker, who’s gone on leave[!] comes this strange item:
WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 — The Pentagon is developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries, military officials said.
Perhaps that explains this. Looks like they’re working on Reuters [or Tom Tomorrow ... Naah!] already. But remember, you read it in the newspaper. It must be true..
And of course, about the time Reuters realizes they’ve been gooned, certain folks could make it come true and goon them again. On leave, eh?
Great minds think alike?
KABUL: Afghanistan's interim administration will establish a a special court to try journalists who violate the country's new media law, Culture Minister Syed Makhdoom Raheen said on Thursday.
"Media persons under no circumstances should stand side-by-side with criminals," Raheen said.
He said the court would start work "very soon."
The new media law also allows Afghan citizens to establish privately-owned television channels, radio stations and news agencies for the first time in history.
Damn, I hate it when that happens.
Now see what you’ve started, Suman? You’ve got me reading the Times of India. Incidentally, note that Suman has a new URL. His redirect is working, but update those links!
Ha! The gauntlet is thrown!
"I’ve heard that the emerald in the navel of the golem of Torr is the size of a tea bag. A family-size tea bag. But we’d need the Barbarian to lead that quest..
Has everyone gotten into the nitrous this morning? You be the judge:
Thanks to Tom Tomorrow we have this report:
"C-130 planes dropped white-coloured paper envelopes with a photo of President Bush and two bills of $100 each," said Abdul Hadi, a resident of Chaman on the border with southern Afghanistan.”
Says Tom Tomorrow: “Yes, you read that right. Check out the link for yourself. Since today's not April first, this appears to be on the level.
“No wonder Dubya needed to increase the military budget.”
Of course! I always believe what Abdul Hadi has to say. And now we know what all that email of the good Sergeant’s has been about. “Send some my way, Dude!”
But didn’t you see the dateline Tom? There’s a perfectly good explanation—it was Valentine’s Day! Probably more little fibs told that day than any other..
My only question: Do the bills have pictures of Bush?
We are the majority, I say! We Are! We Are!
I searched for my daily dose of aggravation in Indian Country but found only a taste of subtle Indian humor. Not much doing on Prez’s Day on Capitol Hill. So I surfed on over to This Modern World. The art of the Permalink isn’t all that seems to be beyond this guy. Yesterday he showed that he can take on the nose-pickers of the world and Win!. But like he says “.. as always, I could be wrong™.”
Isn’t that like patenting the dot in dot com? Truly a humble man with a great deal to be humble about.
Bush is in the Whitehouse. The election was over a year ago. Get over it. Or don’t get over it. Chew chad, dude.
In breaking news from Indian Country Tomorrow comes this story filed by their Washington correspondent, Brian Takes-Any-Story.
An angry Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) challenged National Congress of American Indians President Tex Hall to a traditional Indian rodeo belt buckle contest Friday. The two had exchanged jibes throughout a routine Senate hearing.
Testifying on the new federal budget, Hall insisted that a national task force of tribal leaders be convened to examine the document, which he said was developed without lengthy and meaningless consultation with Indian nations.
"Once again, this administration has ignored our right to slow things down and make sure nothing happens," said Hall, also chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.
But things turned nasty when Hall said of Campbell: "He was a white man until he decided to run for Congress. .. Then he turned back into a white man when he joined the Republican party."
Issuing the buckle challenge, "Meet me at Blackie's at noon!" responded Campbell, banging his gavel.
"I'm not a betting man," said Osage Nation Chairman Charles Tillman, "but if I were, I'd place my money on Hall. I've seen his stuff and boy, it's monstrous."
They meet today. Onion eat your heart out.
Monday, February 18, 2002- - -
I guess I’m just disorganized. The InstaPundit says he gets “.. several hundred emails a day. .. I do the best I can, but I post this stuff in between teaching classes, watching kids, and cleaning up cat vomit. It's not my life, and it shouldn't be yours.”
I don’t get anything like that much email, even counting all the spam about BS the BLTG. And Fred doesn’t do hairballs much. Short hair I guess.
But the SuperPundit might have added: Get your own Blog and you can have your name in pixels all you want!
And did I mention that it’s a lot of fun?
I knew there was a reason I liked this guy. He's younger, more clean-cut, and much less cynical, but he even looks like me.
Hmmm. I notice that Megan McArdle has gotten 24 comments on this post in less than 48 hours. Perhaps it is time to do that article I’ve been planning on industrial sex toys..
Here’s a good one. The variable speed and reversing trigger switch provides 0-500 rpm, and the 7.2V battery pack allows for longer run-time and charges in one hour.
Unfortunately, I’ve run out of time for now so I’ll have to cover the attachments in a later post.
The forward-leaning Perry de Havilland discusses the nature of democracy and sees a bright future:
“The situation has developed in which nation states forcibly appropriate over 50 per cent of a nations wealth and yet this is seen as legitimate due to a 'democratic mandate'. Yet the reality is that not only is it immoral, it is unsupportable in the long run. ..
“I see the disintergration of the politicized legal edifice over which left and right fight as being a long term economic inevitability, not necessarily from catastrophic collapse (though most likely Japan and some of Europe will do just that) but from the gradual technologically driven creeping irrelevance that will see that what follows the current order is something both familiar and excitingly different.”
This is a vision that should be shared by many more. Please go read it.
John Weidner waxes eloquent on what is also one of my favorite forms of architecture, CCC rustic. Asks he: “What does it profit us to bestride the whole world, if we can no longer build things like this?”
We could .. but starving help is hard to find these days.
Anton Sherwood weighs in on the great gun debate: “I'm not convinced that it's that bad. As I see it, if your thug shows you a knife with the implied threat to use it, he has already escalated to deadly force; if I'm wrong on that point, then your showing a gun is not deadly force either. Either way, you're not obligated to assume that he'll put his knife away if you give in. Disclaimer: That's logic, but I can't promise that it is law!”
True. A ‘reasonable man’ might well feel in immediate and serious danger in this situation. But shoot the sucker and you can be assured that in his death throes he’ll drop the knife down a storm drain..
Also from Anton Sherwood: “One of my friends is thinking of organizing an `activities day' for our circle, and invites me to run a workshop relating to my most visible hobby, mathematical beauty. Okay, I said, but what would we do?”
Divide and multiply?
Via the ol’ Bird Cage Liner (020218; no link) the AP has this story:
“Noble, Ga. — Distraught families began the wrenching task of trying to identify loved ones Sunday in this rural community where dozens of decomposing corpses were being removed from a crematory.
“Authorities said they had recovered 97 bodies — including one infant — from storage sheds and scattered in woods behind Tri-State Crematory in this hamlet about 40 kilometres south of Chattanooga, Tenn.
“Officials were requesting federal assistance and equipment to help process the remains, a task which has overwhelmed local resources .. Investigators believe the crematory had stacked the corpses for up to 15 years.
The crematory's operator, Ray Brent Marsh, 28, was charged with five counts of theft by deception, a felony, for taking payment for cremations he didn't perform. Walker County and state authorities said other charges are likely against Marsh.
When asked why the bodies had not been cremated, Mr. Marsh said the crematory incinerator was not working, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said late Saturday.
“.. authorities suspect Mr. Marsh may have provided ashes from wood chips to clients as the remains of loved ones. Authorities have asked families to return ashes for examination and have established an information center.
“Governor Roy Barnes declared a state of emergency in Walker County. The declaration makes state assistance available to local authorities for the cost of the operation.”
Speaking of Snarky and Cranky
Via Kathy Kinsley: Jonah Goldberg says that what makes him snarky and cranky are “.. the hardcore conspiratorialists, mostly on the Left but with growing company on the Right, who believe that the "corporate-controlled media" are censoring the real story ..”
I’m sure this is particularly troubling to Mr. Goldberg considering his recent in depth exposé on racism at the Westminster Dog Show.
Also via Kathy Kinsley: Mark Steyn of the National Post Online says “I was in the Canadian VIP pavilion at Salt Lake when Jamie and David were cruelly cut down ..”
They let him in the VIP pavilion? Considering the long list of illuminaries present, I guess they had to make room for one person with some wits.
Steven Den Beste asks: “When is this country going to reform product liability law?”
Probably right after all the lawyers leave congress.
I’m not so sure that a huge scoop of arrogance isn’t a necessity for a successful general. If he wasn’t absolutely cock sure of himself he’d probably melt into a weeping puddle the first time he had to make the decision to send a few thousand men out to face the enemy.
But affecting arrogance to hide impotence is a most annoying trait.
Via PunditWatch: Can there be many bigger oxymorons than Campaign Finance Reform? And I’m glad that between the axis of evil, looming war in Iraq, OBL still missing, Congress Enron-whacking, the awesome Olympic skating scandal, and Bush II’s blue tie to discuss, there was still room to work in something truly troubling—the condom blowout.
Well, if you’d had a condom blowout you’d find it troubling.
How could he keep us in suspense so long?
Barry Harkness makes an interesting observation in his comment to Megan McArdle’s post on unverified reports from Iran that Osama’s right hand man is in custody. Harkness wonders whether the always photogenic and never camera shy OBL could be alive, given how long it’s been since he put out a tape.
Suman Palit says he’s broken his writer’s block. I assume this is something like being tongue-tied. As you may have guessed, neither is within my experience. But I’m very glad Suman is over it because he’s come out with an outstanding, in depth piece that rivals anything I’ve seen from professional journalism. It also shows the potential of the blog as an educational device.
Starting with the historic and archaeological record and working up to the present, he details the nature of the Israeli—Indian relationship that explains today’s events. Finally he forecasts that Israel and India will form the two ends of the "Pincers of Democracy", to counter the "Axis of evil".
Someone should tell John Dvorak. In the mean time, read Suman’s article.
The agnostic, dyslexic, insomniac
Lying awake at night wondering if there is a dog. If there is I’m sure he looks on our antics as somewhat akin to Silly Pet Tricks, or those Funniest Home Videos programs. Conversely, we probably have as much understanding of him as a cat does of what we’re really about.
Silly Statist Tricks
Here’s a good one: The Wyoming Business Council. They must be serious, they have a Five Year Plan - announced in April 1999. The law creating the WBC was enacted with a five-year sunset. It took them two years to come up with their five-year plan, so they sunset June 30th of this year. This is a problem, as their five-year plan was to show results in its last two years.
The WBC has a corporate structure, and employs private business practices. Or at least the statist view of private business practices. Like lining their pockets with the ‘proceeds’: John Reardon, the first “chief executive officer” of the Wyoming Business Council, resigned amid controversy after 16 months on the job. He drew a $135,000 annual salary that was substantially higher than anyone else's on the state payroll, including the governor's. After a few months in office he decided that things were going so well that his staff deserved a bonus—including $35,000 for himself.
And lets not forget that Reardon was such a Wyoming booster that he bought a house in Fort Collins, Colorado and commuted to work in Cheyenne.
Things have changed a lot at the Council since then, but there’s still a few things a little odd about the WBC. For starters, there’s the leader of the organization: Bless his pointy little head, Tucker Fagan, “CEO” of the Council, spent 30 years in the Air Force. Nothing wrong with that, but from his bio I can’t see that he’s ever been employed by a private business, much less managed or owned one.
They do have some highly trained Certified Economic Development Professionals on staff to take up the slack, however. There are two sorts of Certified Economic Development Professionals: Economic Development Finance Professionals and Housing Development Finance Professionals. Each certification program is a rigorous series of four courses, each five days in duration, so you can see that they have the very best on staff.
The high staff quality has resulted in fantastic results. They shovel out the government grants and loans as fast as anyone possibly could. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this largesse is this little outfit, the Sierra Trading Post. It’s easy to see why they’d need a lot of help from Certified Economic Development Professionals, isn’t it?
So if you live in Wyoming and your congresscritter asks, please tell him not to let the sun set on the Wyoming Business Council.
Well, my email has gotten completely out of hand. I haven't gotten around to figuring out how to count hits but someone must be reading this stuff. If you’ve emailed me and I haven’t answered I apologize. In some cases it appears I may have missed some notes entirely, or I may just be running a little behind. I refuse to use some auto-answer BS, so bear with.
Sunday, February 17, 2002- - -
Thanks to Samizdata, who’ve named him (her? It?) Blog of the Week, I’ve found this character, The Blue Button. She’s stolen some of my best rants before I could even write them. If he’d whisper his name I’d curse it out loud!
Of course, she could have hammered on ELF a bit harder. When they spike trees to ‘sabotage economically’ they’re also putting the working folks at the sawmill in deadly danger. ‘Doesn’t harm anyone’ Like Hell! Spiking trees has killed people and maimed more.
Update: According to Fox News, via The Blue Button, this clown is willing to go to jail to protect the organization [ELF] from "political manipulation." Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., chairman of the House Resources Committee's Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health has subpoenaed him. The good congresscritter could make it happen. He should.
Megan McArdle has A Modest Proposal that has nothing to do with Irish babies and a lot to do with these babies. Anyone more than a year or so old can be excused for finding this a bit intimidating. But take heart, she’ll earn that wealth. I bet the backaches are setting in already.
Update: Here's the original proposal in case you haven't read it lately.
I love Steven Den Beste’s Butyl Mercaptan idea. You know what it smells like, it’s the ‘odorant’ used to make otherwise odorless natural gas stink. That’s why we produce it by the ton. It only takes a tiny bit added to a large volume of gas to accomplish this. Mixed with a heavy oil it could be applied in a coarse aerosol with little danger of fire. Diesel would be a good choice, it won’t burn without great heat and compression. That’s why it’s used as motor fuel in armored vehicles. The mix would eventually evaporate, thus it’s self decontaminating. Spray it from UAV’s and the fool who shot one down would regret his mistake. Oh, and did Steven mention that it really, Really stinks?
And then there’s the air-burst lard bomb.. How insensitive of me.
I’ve been following the “Warblogger Brain Trust” analysis of war in Iraq with considerable interest. I was particularly delighted to see that the Hungarian Barbarian has written to Sgt. Stryker. I’ll have to look him up. It’s been a long time, and no one knows better than he what a pain in the butt I can be.. There! I’ve emailed him.
I guess what particularly chaps me about the whole scenario is the well-founded assumption that Saddam will use his own civilian population as a human shield while we catch hell in the ‘court of world opinion’ if we cause any civilian casualties.
Either the chattering classes who scream ’you caused civilian casualties’ are completely ignorant, or they are completely evil. Or, they lie somewhere on the continuum between those two poles. We should treat them as if they were the later.
Regardless, I favor a modified siege scenario, and I realize that this is a gross oversimplification that does not fully answer Saddam’s NBC threat, but I don’t want to go on for pages:
In his comment to Sgt. Stryker, Emory Almasy is correct: We have overwhelming air and ground superiority on the field of battle and that isn’t going to change. Any “Saddamites” that present themselves where we can get at them are target practice. Our ground forces would do well to get to the battle before the Hogs and Apaches had all the fun.
So.. Let Saddam pull his forces into Baghdad and the other built up areas of his choice. As Patrick Phillips notes in another comment to Sgt. Styker, there’s no clean way to dig them out, so don’t try. Build a ‘fence’ around these populated strongholds. Establish checkpoints to let unarmed civilians out and make it clear that we will welcome them with food and medicine. But allow nothing in without serious negotiation. Treat it as the hostage situation it would be. Cut off all food, water, and utilities as Steven Den Beste suggests. And most important, allow the Saddamites no contact with the outside world. Propaganda is his only effective weapon—cut that off completely.
Saddam and any who want to stay in the compounds can do so. In the short-term this would essentially maintain the status quo of containment, only with a much smaller, easier to watch container. It avoids house-to-house fighting in the cities. It wouldn’t be quick, we can expect that food, water, and utilities would be horded for Saddam’s army, but we can console ourselves by looking forward to dealing with Saddam when he comes crawling out on his knees. Missile batteries, artillery, NBC assets, and such offensive capabilities shielded in built-up areas that might strike back would be the only targets in populated areas that we would take out of necessity.
With any luck the civilian population will revolt before they die of thirst and we won’t have to deal with Saddam at all. Or Saddam's army will try to break out and it's target practice.
The downside: If Saddam starts losing his human shield he may get very ugly with his own people and the chattering classes are sure to blame this on us. But we can’t win ‘em all. However..
As Sgt. Stryker notes, propaganda is Saddam’s most effective weapon. He wants to fight the war on TV. Somehow, we must find a way to deny this to him. If we can issue a ‘you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists’ ultimatum to entire countries, why can’t we do the same to the chatterers who give aid and comfort to the terrorists with their every word? At the least, broadcasting “Live from Baghdad” would have less allure if it had to be done with a bag over one’s head.
Treat shouting ‘civilian casualties’ just like shouting ‘fire’ in the proverbial crowded theatre. If someone wants to discuss civilian casualties they should put the blame squarely where it belongs.
Saturday, February 16, 2002- - -
It looks like Blogger went belly-up about 6am (Blogger local time?) this morning, at least their front page shows that time as the last time a blog was updated. They’re still toast as of 11:30am MST. I note that the independent blogs such as the USS Clueless remain on line, however. Something’s to be said for dropping a couple grand into one’s own server, I guess. At this point broadband isn’t an option here, so I’ll keep dreaming.
In the mean time, I took a look at a couple of on-line columns linked from Blogger.
Describing tech blogs, Carlye Adler of Fortune Small Business says: “Imagine Hunter S. Thompson writing about the new Mac operating system. That's the wacky spirit you can expect when you check out the online narratives known as Weblogs.” After hitting the high spots of the techy blogs, we arrive at the conclusion: “If you need more compelling personal commentary, we're sure it's out there (remember the ugly couch tour?). And it's probably raw, funny-and smart.” But do they conclude by shooting the computer? Thompson on Blogger would be interesting..
Wacky, raw, funny, and smart, eh? Sort of like my favorites <—– over there (but I’m not saying which are wacky and which are smart).
This makes quite a contrast with John C. Dvorak’s rather supercilious comments on the blog phenomenon. Dvorak concludes that there are five general reasons for blogging:
“Ego gratification. Some people need to be the center of attention. It makes them feel good about themselves to tell the world what important things they've been doing and what profound thoughts they've been having. Curiously, while this looks like the most obvious reason for a Web log, I think it's probably the least likely reason, since it's too trite and shallow.
“Antidepersonalization. When people begin to think that they are nothing more than a cog in the wheel of society, they look for any way to differentiate themselves. ..
“Elimination of frustration. Day-to-day life, especially in the city, is wrought with frustration, and the Web log gives people the ability to complain to the world. ..
“Societal need to share. As a cynic who gets paid to write, I have a hard time with this explanation. But it seems some people genuinely like to "share," and this is one way. ..
“Wanna-be writers. A lot of people want to be published writers. Blogs make it happen without the hassle of getting someone else to do it or having to write well—although there is good writing to be found. Some is shockingly good. Most of it is miserable.”
Ok. I’m probably guilty on all counts. On the other hand, I bet my income from 'writing' is more than Dvorak gets.
Mark Kraft, the Business Manager of LiveJournal.com responds, noting that Dvorak failed to mention LiveJournal.com in his article although it is “.. probably the largest weblog/online journal service out there, with approximately 450,000 users.” He goes on to maintain that Dvorak is misinformed in many additional ways.
Kraft notes: “By my estimates, there are now over one million active weblogs on the Internet. .. This kind of "anonymity through numbers" environment creates an ideal atmosphere for the creation of intentional communities based upon shared interests. ..weblogs will allow people to easily create dynamic and compelling online communities, allowing people to interact in a much more efficient and targeted manner.
“Almost certainly, weblogs and the related technologies that are growing around them will find their ways into businesses, bringing the same kinds of advantages, allowing people to easily find and interact with the people (and the information) that effects them.
“So, yeah... we're out to fundamentally change the nature of the Internet by empowering the average Joe and Jane. All revolutions should be so much fun!”
Here! Here! I might add that the distributed nature of web logs creates a situation where there are many more eyes on events than one could ever expect from the mainstream, or even the backwash media. Nor are these eyes driven by advertising revenues to spend their time dwelling on ‘what’s hot.’ we don’t see a lot of bloggers ‘mugging for the cameras’ in hopes of a promotion either.
Tony Adragna makes essentially this same point but says it better than me, in his response to Dvorak:
“This treatment of "blogging" overlooks the most recent trend - the proliferation of web logs that engage in serious critique of the media, analysis of issues, and even some original reportage. There is some good amateur (though not amteurish ) journalism going on in blogland, and I don't understand why every story I've read so far has failed to pick up on this phenomenon. We're not all "diarists" or "journalers" - some of us really have something of value to add to public discourse on important issues. You can find a good sampling of the web logs I'm talking about here on the "Blogs of Note" page of the website/blog run by myself and Will Vehrs - QuasiPundit
“And, lets not forget what "The Hyperblogger" himself -- Glen Reynolds -- has done for the concept.
“Of course, some members of the professional media -- Matt Welch, Ken Layne, Tim Blair, Andrew Sullivan (the list of media professionals is growing) -- have caught on to the potential of "blogging", and have been using the blog format for quite some time. Why does most of the professional media blow off web logs?”
Why indeed? Why would anyone not want to welcome more competition?
John Weidner quotes one of my dad’s favorite poems, The Deacon’s Masterpiece, and draws some interesting corollaries..
It looks like the Bureau of Reclamation is toast, too. From my morning's email:
----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
----- Transcript of session follows -----
451 gp.usbr.gov: Name server timeout
Message could not be delivered for 5 days
Message will be deleted from queue
Also via Sean McCray, according to Yahoo News [how appropriate] an Associated Press computer analysis has found that the Environmental Protection Agency has given more than $2 billion to nonprofit groups since 1993, often without competitive bidding.
Yahoo News: “The AP analysis of EPA grants and grant extensions to nonprofits found that six of the top 10 recipients between 1993 and 2001 weren't environmental groups or researchers, but rather seniors groups that received tens of millions of dollars to hire older Americans as temporary workers for environmental projects. About 1,800 seniors are currently employed under the program.
“The AARP Foundation topped the list with $98.5 million, followed by the National Older Worker Career Center at $90.6 million, the National Senior Citizens Education and Research Center ($74 million), the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged ($72 million) and the National Association of Hispanic Elderly ($43.9 million).
“The grants, created by Congress, cover the workers' pay and benefits as well as the groups' costs for arranging the employment.”
Let’s see. $98.5 million plus $90.6 million plus $74 million plus $72 million plus $43.9 million equals $379 million dollars. To employ 1800 seniors. That’s $210,555 per person. Not a bad wage. Of course, you’re paying for a lot of experience.
But wait. Further along in the Yahoo article: “Larry Anderson ran the seniors program for AARP until the senior lobby dropped out, and he now works for the Career Center. He said workers 55 and older were recruited for EPA jobs ranging from clerk to scientist, but few earned more than $30,000 a year.”
Even if with a mean $30,000, that’s about 85% overhead. That is mean. How could you expect a non-profit organization to get along on that?
Sean McCray weighs in on airport security, noting that the feds will be in control soon:
Says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution via Mr. McCray: “The new Transportation Security Administration takes control of screening contracts at most of the nation's 429 commercial airports this weekend [as in today] in a first step toward a fully federalized screening work force. ..
“To gear up for the transition to a federal work force, the TSA has appointed interim security directors at large airports, TSA spokesman Jim Mitchell said. They are mostly security managers from the Federal Aviation Administration, he said. They will serve until the TSA recruits 81 top federal security directors, who will coordinate all aspects of airport security.
“The agency has already received 9,500 applications for the $150,000-a-year positions. ”
Says Sean McCray: “Same screeners, same companies doing background checks, with a huge dose of government incompetence. Feel any safer?”
No. This is a fortress built of smoke and mirrors.
Last night I visited friends who live on a farmstead south of town. As I was leaving a Great horned owl dropped by. I couldn’t see it in the dark, but the sound is unmistakable. It’s an improbable noise, more like someone blowing across the top of a beer bottle to imitate an owl than a sound an actual bird might make.
Grab your beer bottle. Blow across the top: “Hooo oo’o ooo ooo!” With a little stutter on the second syllable. But don’t do it outside in the dark—they’re very territorial.
Fritz Schranck at Sneaking Suspicions! asks: “What’s all this talk about Champaign Finance Reform? What's so important about a small Illinois city that the rest of us should care so much? .. What? .. It’s Campaign Finance Reform?” .. What a scam“.
I wish I had the finances for Champagne, but someone keeps picking my pockets..
Farther along, Fritz Schranck explains “.. what some call The Law of Continuous Dealing.
“It’s not really a law; it’s more an expression of enlightened successful dealmaking.
If I’m in a situation where I’m sure I’m only going to have to deal with you once, and you feel the same way, either of us may decide it’s in our interest to screw the other person. Think of what happens at used car lots, for example.
“At the other end of the spectrum, where you both know you’re going to have to deal with each other many times, perhaps over a course of years, there’s a tremendous incentive to be honest and straightforward. ..
“There’s a saying at The Hall--the first time you lie to a legislator is the last time you’ll ever get anything from them.”
Probably true. But the issue usually isn’t us lying to them.
And what’s all this about a $2 million government funded poultry waste facility? ‘Millions of tons of pungent stuff’ indeed. So they’ll be installing one in DC soon?
Yesterday’s NYT has a correction: “An article yesterday about a court- ordered shutdown of Interior Department computers to safeguard an accounting system that manages money for Indians misspelled the surname of a woman who initiated the lawsuit that resulted in the order. She is Elouise Cobell, not Cabell.”
Sigh. The issue is sure getting a lot of attention when they can’t be bothered to get the name of the plaintiff right. No wonder I didn’t find anything at the Times when I did a keyword search on Cobell+Norton.
Says the misspelled Times:
“The Indians point out that the checks are not government handouts, but money owed individual Indians from land leased to outside business interests and managed by the Interior Department. ..
“The tribes say the government has lost up to $100 billion over the last century because of mismanagement and poor accounting. ..
“In ruling three years ago for the Indians, Judge Lamberth [presiding in Cobell v. Norton] wrote, "It would be difficult to find a more historically mismanaged federal program." His ruling was upheld last year by a federal appeals court in the District of Columbia, which wrote, "The trusts at issue here were created over a hundred years ago, and have been mismanaged nearly as long."
So by some accounts there’s ‘up to $100 billion’ missing. But still no one asks why, in this new millennium, these paternalistic trusts continue to exist at all, why the DOI is fighting so hard to retain control of them [obvious I suppose], and most important:
Where did the money go?
From the InstaPundit, Ken Lay may have been duped by the other Enron execs. My nomination of him to head the investigation into government corruption in the Indian Trust case is looking better already. If this is true, his righteous indignation wouldn’t have to be faked. No, not at all.
Friday, February 15, 2002- - -
I see in the latest edition of the Society for American Archaeology Editorial Policy, Information for Authors, & Style Guide produced in 1999 (I believe) that they request electronic submission of papers in “.. DOS-compatible formats (WordPerfect 6.1 or lower, or WordStar 4.0 or lower) ..” I knew there was a reason I kept those old WordStar Disks.
Incidentally, their own written policy doesn’t follow their required style. And where is section 3.11, guys?
My two favorite books as a child were Lost in the Barrens by Farley Mowat and Secret Sea: Close-hauled adventure in a search for sunken gold by Robb White. What these two books have in common is people acting alone in a hostile environment and thriving. I guess I was brainwashed early.
Pondering further Bill Quick’s post objecting to laws limiting the use of deadly force:
“This raises all sorts of libertarian warning flags with me. The notion that one cannot protect one's property with deadly force, if necessary, essentially means that the entire concept of property ownership is a farce. It means that if a man with a knife demands my car, even though I am armed with a firearm, I must allow him to take my vehicle. Even worse is the enshrinement of state-ordered cowardice inherent in the notion that you have a "duty" to retreat from "situations that might escalate into using deadly force." This places the balance of social power entirely in the hands of any lawless desperado willing to threaten to use deadly force.”
It would appear that this places the balance of social power in the hands of those who made the law. Probably the intent.
From Steven Den Beste, ASIMO is way too cool.
But what if the atom bomb hadn’t been invented, Steven? I guess this is why a lot of historians say there are no ‘what ifs’ in history. There’s no point to wondering about what didn’t happen, it leads to reductio ad absurdum..
The Thai word for an armored unit is Mammuk. However you spell it, it means literally ’elephant.’ There’s very little we can teach the Thais about bringing terror to the battlefield, the historic role of armor.
A styrofoam-filled oil tanker to troll for mines? How ingenious. And I bet a big tanker could take a lot of hits.
Virginia Postrel has a very few copies of her book left for sale. If you haven’t read it you should.
Update: I see she’s also advertising CDs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. How appropriate. Ms. Postrel has taken on more than her share of vampires.
An interesting bit on EU noise regulations from Samizdata. Unfortunately, the regulators would probably just walk up to the owner of the establishment and threaten him with loss of permits & licenses & such. It would become the establishment owner’s job to tell the bands to turn it down.
Of course, someone handy with a soldering iron could start selling those stereo sound-amplification ear muffs that shooters use, with the auto-cutoff excised. They even have a tech look that might appeal.
Incidentally, when the northern lights get cranking they are an incredible sight. Woke me up one night during hunting season last fall. I thought the cabin was on fire for a minute. Nope. Just bright shimmering curtains and swirls of green and red dancing among the stars on the peaks to the north.
From Megan McArdle, I wonder if this is where the nature lover’s ‘tread lightly’ came from?
Further proof of speciation
Here’s an excerpt from another poem with an astral theme:
“There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Labarge
I cremated Sam McGee. ..
[in the boiler of an ice-locked steamboat]
.. And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.
I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread but I bravely said: “I’ll just have a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked and it’s time I looked”; . . then the door I opened wide.
And there sat Sam looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm -
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, It’s the first time I’ve been warm.”
Robert Service The Cremation of Sam McGee
Suman Palit sounds more like one of those forward-leaning* libertarians every day! I enjoy reading about anything I know very little about and I know nothing about politics and the general doings in Asia. Thus, I greatly enjoy Suman’s blog.
*We don’t lean to the left, we don’t lean to the right..
Damned if you do..
“Bearing in mind all these things, then, I praise anyone who builds fortresses and anyone who does not, and I criticise anyone who relies on fortresses, and does not worry about incurring the hatred of the people.” Machiavelli The Prince
And to think that airplanes hadn’t been invented yet.
For what it’s worth, I think the ISU (International Skating Union?) should say: ‘There’ve been allegations made and we’ll thoroughly investigate. Until then, you don’t get your way by throwing a tantrum. And no do-overs either.’
Anything else and the protests will become an inevitable part of the competition in that cutthroat sport. As if they weren’t already. The whole press conference business reminded me of a bunch of little league parents grilling their kids’ coach: ‘How could you let our darlings lose?’
Update: I see that the medal of the Canadian figure skaters was upgraded to gold— through one of the most outrageous displays of poor sportsmanship I can recall. Not on the part of the competitors or their team, but on the part of the Little League audience, mostly grandstanding news media talking heads.
This little squabble allowed the media personalities to embark on an orgy of camera mugging that would make Fox’s Bill O’Reilly proud. Why show actual sports when we can enjoy their mock gravitas. At least one or two of them probably expect to get promotions back at the studio by turning a minor whine into a major ‘scandal.’
Update to the update: The worst part? All this camera-mugging took so much time that we didn’t get to see the US men take on France in Curling!
If you’re like my wife: wondering where to get a ‘stone,’ check out this site and follow the links to everything you ever wanted to know about curling.
This link was sent in by Warren Szkolnicki of Ottawa, who says he’s never curled himself. Umm .. well .. Never mind.
Top 10 Reasons Why Curling Is Better Than Sex
In curling, you don't have to fake it when you're not having a good time.
In curling, when it gets out of hand, you can quit.
It's OK to curl on national TV in front of millions of people.
In curling, you can score up to 10 times in one night.
A really good curling game lasts two and a half hours.
In curling, size, looks and age are all irrelevant.
In curling, you don't regret a mistake nine months later.
When you're finished curling, someone else has to clean the sheets.
In curling, you're expected to yell, "hurry, hurry, hard all the way!"
In curling, there are four positions to know, but you only have to be good at one of them.
Cheers and Best Regards,
Ottawa, Ontario Canada
Thursday, February 14, 2002- - -
A little Outrage, please
From the InstaPundit: “WHILE EVERYONE'S FOCUSING ON ENRON, this major accounting scandal has gotten little attention, even though it seems to involve the systematic fleecing of the less-fortunate. Wonder why?”
Is it? Could it be? Why yes, it is. It’s Cobell v. Norton! The Indian Trust Case.
Says Norton in District Court Wednesday: ‘In general terms, trying to piece together all the information since 1887 is going to be a very difficult job. It will be blocked in some cases because a particular piece of information has been destroyed. .. In some cases, documents were not stored properly and they “crumbled with age.”’
She says her agency has tried to follow a judge's order to fix management problems with the trust fund system. Progress has been made, though more needs to be done.
"We have tried to use appropriate standards and aspire to a high level of accounting responsibility," Norton said. "I'm not sure if in every instance we have met that standard."
Does anyone besides me notice the outrageous Paternalism inherent in the very idea that the government should hold the Indian’s funds ‘In Trust’??
I remember it well
Years ago I worked on a project inventorying the archaeological sites in a small area of the south Black Hills, in South Dakota. I remember one of the sites we found very well. It was a Middle Archaic (+ 4000 BP) McKean Complex campsite that contained many interesting artifacts. We found the site one evening just before time to head for the barn, so we left everything where it was until the next morning. Unfortunately, a grass fire burned through the area that evening and through the night, pretty well destroying everything we’d found. This shows that you can’t have your Archaic and heat it too.
Great Priorities in Reviewing our Nation
And to think that Jonah Goldberg finds dog shows Repugnant and Racist.
These folks are chapped! Is anybody listening to them? The problem extends far beyond one lawsuit. This is a huge cookie jar with no visible lid.
Where does the money go?
We’re all Indianz to the feds
I try not to hammer on the same topic every day, but I’ve been following this one for awhile now and I think I’ve finally boiled over. Here’s a summary of the situation from the Denver Post:
“More than a century ago, the government took control of Indian assets such as oil royalties and grazing leases, promising to manage the properties on the Indians' behalf. But the government never kept proper records, so the Indians understandably believe they have been shortchanged by billions of dollars.
“Over five years ago, the Boulder-based Native American Rights Fund and former Denver lawyer Dennis Gingold sued the government to get a thorough accounting of the trust funds. Yet under two presidential administrations, Interior has chosen to fight the lawsuit rather than fix the problem. [emphasis added]
“About three years ago, Interior officials told U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who is hearing the case in Washington, D.C., that it was cleaning up the mess. It wasn't. Two and a half years ago, Lamberth issued a strong order to blast Interior into action. Nothing changed. In the meantime, Interior got significant sums from Congress to implement a new computer system to do the work. The system failed miserably.
“At every turn, Interior has lied to the court and misled Congress, all the while dragging its feet on trust fund reform.”
Yes, folks, they’re missing Billions and Billions of Dollars. It’s not paper money. It’s money that ranchers and energy companies and all the other developers in Indian Country have been paying in to the system. This isn’t a Bush Administration problem. It isn’t a Clinton Administration problem. It is a problem that has been on-going at least since the Grant Administration.
The DP: “If Interior sincerely wanted to fix the Indian trust fund mess, it would have engaged in this basic bookkeeping work long ago. As it is, Interior's broken promises and wasteful expenditures have demonstrated plain bad faith.
It looks like the Indians may win their law suit.
Yet no one in authority asks the really pertinent question:
Where did the money go?
Suman Palit asks: “Has anyone suggested an IRS audit of employees who may have been directly or indirectly misappropriating some of this money ?”
That would be a good start. Unfortunately, the problem probably isn’t just low-level federal employees buying yachts. We’re talking Billions and Billions of dollars over a period of 100 years or more. I suspect high level systemic corruption. I suspect that the IRS solution would be another round of the government investigating itself and announcing a clean bill.
How about Ken Lay? He’s unemployed, or nearly so. He and Andersen could convene an inquiry and call a few congressmen on the carpet. I bet they’d enjoy that.
There’s still a lot of rocks to be turned over in this case. And there’s still a lot of sandbagging going on.
A good blog header from Anton Sherwood:
"If nobody said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth." ---Sir Alan Herbert
I know I certainly resemble that remark.
And Anton gets referrals from me??
Happy VD, all!
Wednesday, February 13, 2002- - -
John Weidner is righteously indignant and certainly with good cause.
“I'm painfully angry and bitter thinking about the Indian Trust Fund Scandal. I got angrier as I wrote about it, and then Charlene read my post and hit the ceiling (she hadn't heard about the mess), which set me off again...
It makes me furious to think of our government self-righteously dragging Enron bosses over the coals, probably sending them to jail, while at the same time losing billions of dollars belonging to some of the poorest people in the country. And here's our President blathering about the Mother Of All Volunteer Programs, so we can be led by wise bureaucrats out of our squalid selfishness into the ways of charity. Phoooey. If I ran the circus a whole bunch of Interiocrats would be heading out to the reservations for some real volunteer work. Let 'em live in a hogan for a while. (And I might contract with Fidelity Funds to handle the trust.)"
It would be very nice if a few Interiocrats found this a hair-raising experience.
But what, pray tell, is the Washington Monument ploy?
Bill Quick objects strenuously to the idea that we should not be allowed to use deadly force to protect property:
“This raises all sorts of libertarian warning flags with me. The notion that one cannot protect one's property with deadly force, if necessary, essentially means that the entire concept of property ownership is a farce. It means that if a man with a knife demands my car, even though I am armed with a firearm, I must allow him to take my vehicle. Even worse is the enshrinement of state-ordered cowardice inherent in the notion that you have a "duty" to retreat from "situations that might escalate into using deadly force." This places the balance of social power entirely in the hands of any lawless desperado willing to threaten to use deadly force.”
I agree. It’s a shitty situation. But this isn’t a question of competing ideals. It’s real life. It happens all the time. In real life, it’s not enough to survive the confrontation with the cretin. Then you have to survive the confrontation with the state’s prosecutor, and the very real possibility of a civil suit by the cretin or his survivors.
The state is very jealous of its prerogatives—particularly its monopoly on the use of force. They may argue that car theft is not a capital crime. By shooting some goblin stealing your car you are exacting a far greater penalty for car theft than would any court in the US.
If my or someone’s life is genuinely and immediately threatened I would far rather ‘be tried by twelve than carried by six.’ I think a human life is worth that. But my car isn’t worth potentially being impoverished by legal fees, and/or spending time in lockup. Neither is some C-store’s cash bag. If that’s cowardly, then I’m a coward.
It’s up to each of us to decide how far we will go in such situations and the issue is a very complicated one. For some more horror stories you might want to consult another book by Massad Ayoob: The Truth About Self Protection.
#1 Red Dye #5!
February 11th, Sgt. Stryker announced his Red Dye #5 award for “.. week's most noteworthy blog.” This morning he tells me I’m the first awardee! See what a little sucking up* can do for me??
*Incidentally, I meant what I said. Thanks Sarge, and good luck on that Tech test!
Bill Quick says the Bush whackers may meet their own Waterford. .. or something like that. “Sometimes a stogie is only a petard and, as everyMonica knows, it's the exploding cigars that make the deepest impression.”
Don’t forget the bonus in the Big Bambu album!*
There are so many issues in this post by Steven Den Beste that I don’t know where to start.
Wonderful old typist-friendly and compatible WordStar* used to offer ‘pardons’ for pirates. ‘Want the new upgrade at a discount? Send in your pirated copy.’ Who knows what they did to anyone who’d been so foolish as to register their copy before they copied it..
Vinyl was becoming expensive to produce. CDs are incredibly cheap by comparison and the cost in unadjusted dollars of a music CD today isn’t substantially more than the cost of vinyl 20 years ago. In adjusted dollars, music has never been so cheap. I too miss the jacket art, but the digital quality more than makes up for this.
Of course, when I say that music has never been so cheap, I’m not a starving student anymore. At the moment anyway.
*What ever happened to WordStar? I suspect it had something to do with the feds picking the abominably typist-unfriendly WordPerfect as government standard.
*I've still got mine..
You wondered why I lean forward?*
There are many considerations that may be in play here.
One of them: For several years now the DOI has been increasingly restricting ‘signatory authority,’ the number of people in each office who may sign and send out official letters on agency letterhead. It is understandable that the DOI does not want every flunky in the agency putting out documents that appear to have the weight of official writ.
That I know of, they have not restricted their employee’s access to email, nor have DOI employees been required to seek approval before sending out emails. I’ve received a few emails myself that were very interesting. Several very nasty flames, and at least one that was probably legally actionable as libel, or possibly just slander depending on the weight given email as a written document (it wasn’t meant for me, someone hit the wrong key ‘Big Time’). Of course, I'm still terribly traumatized by this and the statute of limitations hasn't nearly run out..
How convenient.. A lot of government employees are chapped at the Indians for cutting off their access to the internet and email. But it wasn’t the Indians that pulled the plug, was it?
This is the new millennium?
It was a Gale Norton Christmas in Indian Country. The US Department of the Interior “.. has not only shut down all Internet access to its web sites. It has frozen payments to individual Indian trust beneficiaries - just in time for the holidays. At the moment, Interior is sitting on 43,000 checks that a lot of people in Indian Country were counting on at this time of year.
“Because Interior wants to shift the blame for its own gross mismanagement of the trust onto the Cobell plaintiffs - those of us who have been fighting for five and a half years to force Interior to clean up the mess. Interior Secretary Norton also seems to want to embarrass the judge in the Cobell v. Norton case.
“What's going on? A recent investigative report to U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth demonstrated that there is no computer security in place to protect IIM trust accounting data from hackers or other unauthorized intrusions. In fact, tests done by the Special Master, Alan Balaran, revealed that from the Internet - essentially anywhere in the world - any mediocre hacker could break into the database that holds trust information and modify, corrupt, delete or otherwise compromise that data. What's more, any such manipulation would not be detectable - the computer system leaves no audit trail.”
What’s doubly odd is that instead of throwing up a firewall around this database, the DOI has taken themselves almost entirely offline. This causes problems far beyond Indian Country.
There’s an entire web site devoted to this issue from the Native American point of view. It’s sponsored by the Blackfeet Reservation Development Fund, Inc ©.
Across the country, these folks have the poorest education, highest unemployment, highest alcoholism, and highest suicide rates of any ethnic group in the US. They have their reasons. If you’ve been looking for something to get outraged over, this is it.
Update from yesterday’s LA Times:
“The Interior Department will issue checks to tens of thousands of Indians for royalty payments from oil and gas leases which have been hung up since a judge ordered the department to shut down its computers.
Interior Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday that the checks will go out "as soon as the system can cut them."
February 12th they're getting ready to issue checks 'one of these days'? I guess Christmas was just a little late this year in Indian Country.