Tuesday, April 02, 2002- - -
Evidence Found of Ferrous Huevos Culture.
I read often that this or that Pleistocene species 'may have been hunted to extinction when humans entered the western hemisphere.' The Clovis peoples, being the earliest generally accepted inhabitants of North America, are probably the most frequently fingered for these Terminal Pleistocene orgies of extinction.
While human predation was certainly a factor to be considered, how heavily that factor weighed in the extinction of any given species is an issue of considerable debate. I couldn't begin to sum up the current state of the debate nearly as well as Doc Frison already has. In this passage Doc employs a wit so dry that folks often miss it entirely:
Any discussion of mammoth hunting inevitably bring forth the question of mammoth extinction. Since Martin's (1967) article, Pleistocene overkill versus extinctions by natural causes has been a subject of numerous articles and debates with no indication that the problem will be resolved, at least in the immediate future. The Colby site [about 2 miles east of where I blog this] constitutes a significant part of the present data base on Clovis mammoth hunting in North America, and, being the principal investigator of the site, I claim the privilege of making comments, being fully aware they will probably serve only to fuel the controversy rather than resolve the problem.
The Colby site provides the only known evidence to date on the Northwestern Plains from which it is possible to propose an actual mammoth procurement strategy. This is because of the unequivocal association of Clovis materials in an identifiable landform, a deep, steep-walled arroyo, strongly suggesting some sort of natural trap. Juvenile animals were apparently the preferred target of long-term, systematic exploitation of a resident mammoth herd. The area was apparently capable of supporting mammoths at that time but the same is untrue today. Consequently, and based on paleoecological analyses of climatic studies at the terminal Pleistocene and beginning Holocene, we can assume that a deterioration of the area in terms of its animal-carrying capacity was in the process, which was not favorable for the mammoth populations.
At the same time, mammoths in the Colby site area which were facing problems due to diminishing forage were faced also with an intrusion of obviously successful human predators who were killing mostly young animals. For a species in which females produced young at the age of about 15 years, had a gestation period of under 2 years, and a mean calving interval of somewhere around 6 years (see Laws et al. 1975), the combination of human predation and a deteriorating environment were operating against survival of the species. Consequently, both human predation and climatic factors could have had strong implications in mammoth extinction on the Northwestern Plains.
On the other hand, deterioration of the environment was toward present conditions, which were continually more favorable for horse habitat, as can be demonstrated today by ever-increasing herds of feral horses. The archaeological record has produced little if any reliable evidence that either the Pleistocene horse or camel was systematically hunted by Clovis (see Frison et al. 1978) or any other cultural group, and both species became extinct in the area. However, the bison, which was the most heavily hunted of all the species by human predators, did manage to escape extinction along with the pronghorn, which was the next most heavily hunted species. .. We are left with the conclusion that more data are needed before the Pleistocene extinction problem can be resolved.
I might add that the African lion-sized Smilodon and the Short-faced bear, "the most powerful predator of the American Pleistocene," [think Grizzly bigger than a Clydesdale here] also became extinct about that time, and no one I've read has ever suggested that they were hunted to extinction. On the contrary, someone (who? Hmm. I can't remember.) has suggested that humans couldn't occupy the western hemisphere until the Short-faced bear became extinct.
These 'hunted to extinction' arguments certainly resonate with our modern environmental consciousness and are often the lede in news reports on any archaeological excavations that feature the remains of Pleistocene megafauna. This gives the whole argument a certain ad hoc flavor of sensation-seeking that may sometimes be deserved.
In a broader sense the 'hunted to extinction' argument is ad hoc, as climate change alone can easily explain the late Pleistocene extinctions. Either that, or there remains undiscovered the clan that hunted the Smilodon and Short-faced bear. As by some lights these folks must have existed, I think I'll jump on the naming priority by calling them the Ferrous Huevos Culture.
"Wind. Sun. Hydrogen. They are odorless, tasteless, invisible and abundant. And they can be harnessed to generate electricity, power cars and heat homes. So, hey, let's stop dallying! Replace those shameful fossil fuels with clean renewables. What is taking so long?" Says James K. Glassman, via Reason Express.
Glassman goes on to point out: "But there is a reason that renewables, despite a history of generous government subsidies stretching back to 1982, haven't made a dent in the dominance of oil, gas and coal - which together account for 85 percent of the energy used in this country. The reason is cost. As energy sources, wind, sun and hydrogen are hugely expensive and inefficient. Fossil fuels aren't.
The renewables have their own environmental costs as well. Wind turbines sparkling in the sun as far as the eye can see isn't my favorite vision of the future of southern Wyoming, but it's fast becoming a reality in some areas. They may be clean, but they're mighty unsightly. So are all the shiny power lines strung across miles of the Big Empty.
One area where renewables do have promise is in new rural development. The REA expansion of electric lines to rural customers was hugely subsidized and these subsidies are now largely ended. The cost for new rural power lines is in the close approximation of several thousands of dollars per pole. If living in a rural subdivision isn't your style, Central Vermont Solar and Wind say they can fix you up, with 19 years of experience "living off the grid." I can't vouch for them but it's an intriguing idea with cellular and broadband via satellite becoming more of a reality.
With a couple of solar panels I really could become Hermit Blogger! Live from my cave in the hills! Except that we all saw what living in a shack in the woods did to Ted Kaczinski's head. I think I'll stay here in town where folks can toss a net over me before I get nearly that bull-goose loony.
There are good environmental arguments to be made for going 'off the grid,' even where the economic argument doesn't apply. An isolated house with on-site solar and wind electric generation, and perhaps propane for heat and hot water, would be less of a visual intrusion on the landscape than the miles of power line that have been strung in the past to serve REA's rural customers. I understand that there are govmint subsidies available in Wyoming for installing these renewables in rural settings, although we here at Coyote Headquarters don't like to encourage such munificence with the taxpayer's dollars.
These certainly are isolated (no pun intended) circumstances (Ok, I intended it) and not about to become the norm until Butt Weasel Browne gets elected, divvies up the western public estate, we all get our 1.2 acres, and we're ordered to move there to disperse the threat from WMDs, since Bush II has so cravenly allowed OBL to win the war in Afghanistan.
If the date line on this was April 1st, I'd have thought it was a bad joke.
Many at the Department of the Interior are still off the internet and this is still causing wide-spread problems. Among those problems, many in Indian Country have still only received one check since early December from the Individual Indian Trust.
Glen Loveland, a spokesman for Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., one of the lawmakers upset over the disconnection, said Monday that the department's promise to speed interim payments to Indians who live off their trust accounts "is still a mess."
"Many, many of our constituents have received only one check," Loveland said. That's despite promises from Interior officials that more than 7,100 payments were in the mail to thousands of Indians who depend on the accounts.
It's definitely spring. 65°F yesterday, and it's now 15° with an inch of fresh snow. We don't every really get 'spring' here. It battles back and forth between winter and summer until finally summer wins. The skirmishes regularly extend into June. Then they have a re-match in the fall.
It does keep things interesting. I've left home in 80° weather and been trapped by a blizzard more than once. I've also started the day in long underwear and finished up in shorts. I like those days better.
And come to think of it, I've started the day in shorts, switched to long underwear and then back to shorts a few times too..
Those folks you see in Wyoming that look like street people? They're just natives who've given up trying to figure out what the weather's going to be like this afternoon and wear a winter coat all year-round.
Via Indianz.com comes the first knock-off on the Fightin' Whities, from John Potter of the Billings Gazette:
".. have you heard about this team I'm putting together?
It's open to Indians and non-Indians alike, and our goal will be to blot out racism and other forms of stupidity. I'm having T-shirts made, which I'm sure will DRAW some criticism, but who cares!
All hail, "The Combative Cartoonists!"
The pen is mightier than the mascot!"
His logo does have the Whities beat, although I note that the Whities jerseys now say "Fightin' Whites," an improvement over the original design.
Monday, April 01, 2002- - -
What a strange sensation. The sight of the Norwegian flag with hammer and sickle made my hair - or what's left of it - literally stand on end for a few seconds. Like goose bumps on the head.
George Will (not yet online) agrees with Bill Quick and me in his column today, that our government exhibits a distressing degree of disregard for the little niceties, like the constitution.
Will has one very telling point: "Just five years ago, 38 senators who supported reforms contained in McCain-Feingold voted to amend the First Amendment to empower Congress to abridge political speech." That's 38% of the pricks who would shut you up right now if they could.. Think about that.
Juvenile Amusements are still the best kind
Dr. Weevil liked my reference to Harry Butt Weasel Browne. But I must admit I didn't start out to make a play on words. The 'Butt Weasel' part came along originally in reference to The Rat and was orphaned when it became apparent that beating on pathetic Johnny Taliban was just too easy.
Later the topic of Browne came up and 'Butt Weasel' attached itself to him as if by its own volition. I'd realized this would betray my generally juvenile sense of humor and I'd tried to avoid using the full appellation, but it eventually got away from me.
What can I say? Harry is to politics as Jim and Tammy Fay are to religion, except that Harry could use a little more makeup.
Update: The original Butt Weasel is a friend's cat - so fat it has to sneak up on its own butt.
Sunday, March 31, 2002- - -
Things are coming to a boil in the Middle East, in typical modern media fashion. The Israelis have Arafat's compound surrounded while Arafat's giving interviews to FoxNews. It's as if the plot were scripted in Hollywood. Strange editing on this Fox article, too. They've transcribed Arafat's speech and then edited it as if it were a written document.
I think it's safe to say that for better or worse, things are going to change a great deal in the Middle East in the near future.
Joanne Jacobs says she's never gotten a dime from Enron. Fortunately, I can't say the same.
She has some very interesting observations on education majors from one of her readers. I have thought the education curriculums I've seen have been a little odd. Great emphasis on the vocational aspects and mechanics of teaching, teachers aids (I recall a class on felt boards and three dimensional props for pre-school instructors) and little emphasis on the traditional broad university education.
I took a graduate course in multivariate statistics given through the graduate school of the education department once upon a time. About a dozen education grad students, two math grad students, one biology grad student, and me. Most of the education grads were teaching at local schools and taking this class during a free period, while the rest of us were more or less full time students, which probably makes a difference, the teachers were working more or less full time and attending class on the side. Regardless, the class required a good deal of work. Each week we employed different statistical techniques to explore the "High School and Beyond" data set, with the purpose of learning the intricacies of analyzing data containing multiple variables. In 16 weeks of class we blasted through the top ten of multivariate statistics. The professor had done his Ph.D. at Oxford, on principal components analysis I believe, in about 1940-1950 B.C. (Before Computers) and demanded that we be able to work the stats by hand as well as by dumping data into the computer hopper - the sort of thing that made you hate him then and remember him fondly now. He also graded on a strict 90%, 80%, 70% or some such scale that didn't allow much wiggle room.
The course was intensive and extensive. It was also a graduate course, in which only A's and B's count toward the degree. You've usually got to have a 3.0, a straight B average, to receive an advanced degree, so a C can only hurt you. Yet our education majors showed a remarkably lax approach to the class, some coming unprepared when they attended at all - yet they stayed in the class. In the end, two B's and two A's were awarded - to the two math students, the biology student, and me.
I've pondered the implications of this experience ever since. My initial reaction was to be shocked that would-be educators would avail themselves so poorly of an educational opportunity. I temper that with the realization that the education majors were attending the class for considerably different reasons than the rest of us. For them it was 'continuing education' or whatever the catch phrase of the time. They were more or less required to be seeking advanced degrees as a condition of their job, and even that particular class may have been required of them. They were also out in the 'working world' and oddly enough education wasn't the center of their existence.
Another observation: Even in studying multivariate statistics, the focus was on the "High School and Beyond" data set. In graduating to advanced work these folks had gone from studying teacher's aids and how to give a chalk talk, to analyzing educational statistics. The vocational education emphasis was still there. Perhaps this is a holdover from the days when my grandmother graduated from the North Dakota State Normal School. "Normal School," you've got to love that. It's what they called the teacher's college. Was that normal? [Sorry, couldn't resist] But seriously, teaching was treated as a vocation, like welding or diesel mechanics. Teachers didn't go to a university, they went to a vocational school. Much of this view of teacher training apparently still persists. Whether that is good or bad is an argument for another day.
Saturday, March 30, 2002- - -
".. the past should be left to the historians." Gerald Ford, as quoted by Robert Asprey in his book War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History. Asprey's book gives an outstanding overview of guerrilla warfare since the days of the Scythians. It also illustrates why you shouldn't believe everything you read..
Discussing the build-up for the Vietnam war during the Johnson years, Asprey says (pages 814-815) In addition to standard arms and equipment, troops received rapid-firing Armalite rifles, at first the controversial M-16, later the improved M-14 which fired a lighter, 7.62-mm. round.
Yes, the M14 fires a 7.62mm, .308 caliber cartridge, but the M14 is an improved version of the WWII M1 and predates the M16 considerably. The M16 was controversial and the basic design was by Armalite, but the M16 fires the much lighter round, the 5.56mm, .223 cartridge. The controversy was at least partially over the adoption of a .22 caliber as a fighting rifle. Col. Jeff Cooper still refers to the M16 as a "poodle-shooter" and prefers the earlier and much more powerful 7.62mm round. Supposedly there were also a lot of problems with jamming at first with the M16 but these were supposedly remedied with cleaner-burning ammunition and chrome-plated chambers and bores. Some folks really liked the M16. It doesn't kick much so you can do a lot of shooting very fast. The ammunition is very light so you can carry a lot of it.
Some folks didn't care for the M16, however. They took the M14s away and gave me an M16. After firing it on the range I decided I wasn't a happy camper. The sights were rudimentary and the trigger was awful. 300 meters became a very long shot. The thin black plastic stocks broke when you whacked them on a tree. The loudest noise they made when you fired them was the sound of the recoil spring rattling as it compressed in the guide tube under your ear. They simply didn't instill a lot of confidence in me.
I must say that the current issue M16A2 is vastly superior to the original M16, with much better sights and trigger and a much stronger stock, and the new heavy bullet ammunition and faster rifling is supposed to extend the range to 500 meters or better. However, 300 meters would seem to be a long shot for any .22 caliber weapon in any sort of wind. I'd like to say I'd still prefer the old M14, but there is something to be said for the lighter rifle if I'm lugging it all day.
So how did I get off on that tangent? I guess I started pointing out that practically everything said about the modern US Infantryman's basic weapon in this passage is wrong in this well-received and generally excellent history book. This seems like a trivial issue, but the logistics are simplified by the weight savings of the lighter, more compact rifle and ammunition. That's not so trivial when you're fighting in a remote area half-way around the world. It's not so trivial for the light infantryman who has to pack the rifle and ammunition, either. The lighter cartridge produces substantially less recoil, requiring substantially less training for basic familiarization and making the rifle more usable by smaller statured people. This is significant not only to our arming of South Vietnam, but to the increased numbers of women entering our own armed forces at that time, and to the increased urbanization and decreased familiarity with weapons of US recruits of both sexes. The adoption of the M16 in the 1960s and its subsequent evolution parallel vast changes in our military and in our military thinking, not trivial things at all.
So OBL is traveling through the mountains on horseback with 300 bodyguards, eh? Mullah Omar And Ayman Al-Zawahiri are with him, too. Chief Joseph was the last one to move that many people through the hills on horseback and get away with it. The cavalry didn't have helicopters back then, though.
Says FoxNews There have also been reports that bin Laden this week sent an e-mail to an Arabic newspaper in London slamming a Saudi peace plan adopted at an Arab summit in Beirut. Like the bin Laden sightings in Afghanistan, however, those reports could not be confirmed.
If bin Laden were alive we'd have another tape by now. I've got to believe he'd do that to maintain his position of power with the al Qaeda and the Arab world, as much as to taunt us.
Friday, March 29, 2002- - -
Visiting space aliens won't get this. I'd like to restage the scene with the next bunch of Junior High kids who wander through the yard on their way back to school from MiniMart. Fortunately, I suspect they know this..
Ah yes. the Game of Princes in action. We've been here before. You didn't seriously expect them to pay any attention to technicalities like the constitution, did you?
Some friends must have been having a day much like many of mine of late, when they wrote this into an official document:
A brief perusal of a number of recent contract reports has resulted in the compilation of a list of some commonly used archaeological terms. This list includes component, occupation. activity area, assemblage, episode, cultural strata, natural components, tradition, stage, phase, and horizon. In most cases, explicit and well conceived definitions of these critical terms were not included in the text. Apparently a misconception is that these terms are self-explanatory and convey only one distinct impression to the reader. In fact, this is not the case.
No it's not. But we don't usually say so quite so explicitly, as often as I'd have liked to.
Incidentally, the Concha y Toro Chilean Cabernet/Merlot is nice for a cheap swill. Peppery with some blackberry flavor and good body, but a little weak on the finish.
It seems we have a problem with prairie dogs in Worland. Along with all the other critters, they're probably under a lot of stress due to the drought and they're moving into town. This causes the neighbors to complain. They are rats and carry some lovely diseases, including plague. Then the exterminators come to really give them something to complain about. It seems their method of extermination is to flood the holes with propane gas, give it some time to reach the optimum fuel/air mix, and then drop in a match. I imagine if the explosion doesn't kill them it would burn all the oxygen from the air. The neighbors complain about the noise. And it makes me wonder if the folks clearing all those caves in Afghanistan know about this..
Via Bill Quick, an interesting piece in the NY Post on the end game in Afghanistan. As much as I'd like to agree and like to see the al Qaeda exterminated, there's a problem with this scenario.
John Ringo equates the al Qaeda with North Vietnamese troops, when it might be more apt to equate them with the Viet Cong. The al Qaeda aren't uniformed troops. They won't necessarily quit and go home when Mullah Whooziz says so. Just like the Viet Cong, it will be very hard to identify them unless they can be caught with weapons in hand, and it will be damn difficult to find every cache of weapons in those mountains. Our friends the Brits have had a similar experience with the IRA. A fresh batch of lunatics is apparently not difficult to find and you don't need a lot of suicide bombers to pose a problem. Nor will stopping one source of weapons stop guerrillas for long - gasoline and a match are weapons. We're a long way from declaring a quagmire, but Afghanistan could become one if we don't find a better exit strategy than "they're all dead, we can go." We could be a long time at that job.
Early morning is the best time to study turkey hunting lore. As one old guy said on a calling instruction tape, "Turkey hunting isn't a sport, it's not an addiction, it's a disease. It can't be cured. It can barely be controlled.
There is a lot of thought involved. First, where to go? I've got 1:100,000 scale maps showing the ownership of all of northeastern Wyoming. I'm eyeing an area of about 250 square miles of Forest Service and BLM land with various degrees of accessibility. One area has a paved road running though it. I think I can count on that area being pretty well hunted on the weekends because of its accessibility. Other areas are more difficult access and require greater navigation skill to find. If an area is well off the nearest road in terrain that's difficult to hunt, it's a good bet the turkeys will take refuge there if there's much hunting pressure. At least difficult terrain stops the folks who hunt from a quad-runner.
For the areas I select I'll also produce a set of 1:24,000 scale maps that show the topography clearly enough to navigate through the area and avoid trespassing or becoming lost. I suppose this would be a lot easier if I'd spring for a GPS receiver, but I've always wondered what happens when you rely on GPS to find your way home - and the batteries go out. I'll stick to the old map and compass, thanks. But a GPS would be handy nonetheless. I'm relatively familiar with the area, I've worked and played in the Black Hills all my life, but I like to see some new country, so I intentionally look for areas I haven't been, as well as scoping out all the areas I've known to hold turkeys.
All that's before I even start thinking about what gear to take. A wonderful way to beat the cabin fever.
Thursday, March 28, 2002- - -
Cabin fever is setting in bad. I must finish these damnable reports and get outside soon. Too many hours in front of the computer spent for work and not enough time left for play is making me a dull boy.
Bill Quick says the blog bubble will burst: "Tens of thousands of folks are getting a charge out of creating and maintaining blogs, with absolutely no financial rewards - except for a handful of bloggers so tiny their numbers are statistically meaningless noise. The charge is enough for now, but it won't last, and the blogosphere, currently in full expansion, will shrink like a popped balloon in another year or so, as hundreds of thousands of blogs go dark and dead.
"The problem is simple: it requires too much work and talent to maintain a good blog, work and talent that brings in nothing tangible for the creator. "
As neither work nor talent go into this blog I should be safe for now. Although perhaps I should bring in some porn just to liven things up..
It looks like Anton Sherwood may have found the job of his [bad] dreams, complete with evil HR director and pointy-haired boss no doubt.
For all the fellow winos, I've been enjoying Corbett Canyon's California Cabernet Sauvignon. A nice long finish is its best characteristic.
Wednesday, March 27, 2002- - -
Wake up, Moonshine; the sixties are over! Between Megan McArdle and Stephen Green, there's not a lot left to be said this evening. No particular post, just a double roll. Go read them.
Blue glowing moon crystals from the nether regions of the emailbag:
If you are a time traveler or alien disguised as human and or have
the technology to travel physically through time I need your help!
My life has been severely tampered with and cursed!!
I have suffered tremendously and am now dying!
I need to be able to:
Travel back in time.
Rewind my life including my age back to 4.
I am in very great danger and need this immediately!
I need as close to temporal reversion as possible, as safely as possible.
To be able to rewind the hands of time in such a way that the universe of
now will cease to exist.
I know that there are some very powerful people out there with alien or
government equipment capable of doing just that.
I am aware of two types of time travel one in physical form and the other
in energy form where a snapshot of your brain is taken using either the
dimensional warp or an electronic device and then sends your consciousness
back through time to part with your younger self. Please explain
how safe and what your method involves.
I have a time machine now, but it has limited abilities and is useless
without a vortex.
If you can provide information on how to create vortex generator or
where I can get some of the blue glowing moon crystals this would also
be helpful. I am however concerned with the high level of radiation these
crystals give off, if you could provide a shielding or other crystals
which give off a north polarized vortex field just as strong or strong
enough to make a watch stop this would be great.
Only if you have this technology and can help me exactly as mentioned
please send me a (SEPARATE) email to: ..
Please do not reply if your an evil alien!
If you have a spare vortex lying around, or some blue glowing moon crystals, let me know and I'll pass the info along.. But don't bother replying if you're an evil alien or your method isn't proven safe and effective. OK?
Let me get this straight. According to Deirdre Davidson, writing for the Legal Times, forty former and current government employees are facing possible contempt charges in Cobell v. Norton, ".. the contentious case over the government's handling of Native American trust funds."
Davidson quotes Dennis Gingold, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs: "If they hadn't destroyed documents or violated the law, they wouldn't have anything to worry about, .. There isn't a single person given blanket immunity to violate the law. Government officials are public servants. They have a duty to follow the law."
In an attempt to gain control of the situation, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth is considering personal fines for Norton and Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb. He has also been asked to consider jail time for the top officials. The judge has reasoned that there's no point in imposing fines if the government is going to pick up the tab.
Judge Lamberth believes he's been mislead by former TAAMS project manager Dom Nessi and others, who "knew" that the newly instituted Trust Asset and Accounting Management System (TAAMS) wouldn't work, but allowed him to rule to institute the system regardless. "They let me rule in ignorance," Judge Lamberth charged. Three months later he says he discovered that the system was becoming an entirely different monster: "I knew TAAMS was never going to work the way they told me," Lamberth said.
"That's when I knew I had been duped," he said. "That's when I knew this case was going to go on forever."
Now according to Davidson, Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), suggested at a House hearing March 14 that the government pay the costs for any government employee working on the trust, effectively neutralizing any threat Judge Lamberth could make short of jail time. The judge may be right. At this rate Cobell v. Norton could go on forever.
Tuesday, March 26, 2002- - -
Will wonders never cease. I was actually able to conduct business with the Department of the Interior over the internet yesterday. For the first time since December 7th. It's such a relief to be back to normal, that it's easy to forget that it was business as usual that prompted the Cobell v. Norton class-action lawsuit that eventually shut down the DOI's internet systems in early December.
I've been working on a lengthy piece outlining the current state of affairs, but it's obvious that I can't do it justice in a couple of hours this morning. Suffice it to say that when all is said and done there's going to be a lot more said than done in this situation.
Through this internet shutdown the DOI has successfully demonstrated that they could make things a lot worse if they were so inclined. Over five years of legal wrangling and there's still no adequate accounting system in place. The lawsuit that set out to demand reform of the system is seen by the DOI as ".. hampering their ability to fix the trust and is taking a toll on the work force. Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles recently told Congress that some employees have refused to work on the trust anymore -- and that those still working on the case have taken out insurance policies to protect against potential judicial sanctions. Yes, it's all the Indians' fault for suing, don't you see?
Monday, March 25, 2002- - -
Gee guys, how could you have missed Harry Butt Weasel Browne? The Weasel's recent WorldNetDaily article: This just in: Bin Laden wins Afghan war, should be good for a nomination to the Academy of Drivelling Idiots.
Says the Weasel: The root fallacy in the War on Terrorism is the idea that we have no choice but to fight people who won't rest until they destroy us.
I rest my case.
Update: Odd, the link to Samizdata doesn't appear to be working at present. You can find them in my favorites though.
The ranks of the professionally offended are well represented by Shelter Inc., who found reason to complain about a Hardee's restaurant chain placemat promoting their new "Six Dollar Burger for $3.95." The placemat lists 38 suggestions for how customers might spend the $2 they save by buying the Hardee's sandwich instead of a more expensive one. The sixth suggestion is, "Make a homeless person really happy." It follows the fifth item on the list, "Replace your shoelaces."
"Is this to say that you can make a homeless person really happy for the same price as it takes to replace your shoelaces?" people associated with Shelter Inc. wrote in a letter to the paper. "We insist that this placemat be immediately rescinded and a formal apology be issued."
So A Beautiful Mind won a bunch of awards. It sounds like they didn't dare ignore it.
Nick Gillespie at Reason Online wonders whether Randy Cohen, who writes the "Ethicist" column for The New York Times Magazine, is willfully mistaken or simply delusional.
Another sunrise, another sunset, more dreams turn into ashes.
Good one, Suman.
I'm doing some behind the scenes renovations on the blog this morning, so if something in my Favorites list, or links elsewhere throughout this site are rickety, please let me know.
Saturday, March 23, 2002- - -
Looks like I'm not the only one with cabin fever. Suman Palit is going fishing.
Here's one good reason to support a World Tax: Andrew Hofer says he'll buy some guns and move out west if the idea gets traction.
Looks like the InstaPundit is out playing golf with his clone this morning..
Some days nothing in the news particularly trips my trigger and then there are days like today.
I loved this article. The guy should argue that by operating a neighborhood strip club he's saving the neighbors from driving drunk on their way back from the bad side of town.
One of my occasional clients is dismissing Arthur Andersen.
The obvious answer to this sort of thing is to whack idiots who leave guns lying around where 3-year-olds can get their hands on them, and those who leave 3-year-olds unsupervised in any event. Unfortunately, what we'll probably see is a push to outlaw .25 caliber handguns.
It's doubly cynical of me, but I should point out that according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 'unintentional injuries' was the leading cause of death for children aged 1-4 in the United States during 1999. A total of 1898 children aged 1-4, of both sexes and all races, died from unintentional injuries of all kinds during that year. Of these, 564 deaths were motor vehicle related, 490 were from drowning, and 12 were firearm related. All of these deaths are surely tragic, most of them could have been prevented, but we only hear about the last 12.
The low cost of living is one of the advantages of Wyoming. One can live fairly well here on the proceeds from a modest clientele. Perhaps the low cost of living is what makes the area attractive for aspiring artists as well. Or maybe it's something in the water. But there are an amazing number of good, if sometimes undiscovered artists in all media who live here at least part of the year. Sculptors and painters, crafters of furniture and firearms, and screeds on freedom. Musicians and entertainers of all sorts who rely on an audience are less common, but frequently hide out here when they're not on the road.
Maybe it is the water.
Friday, March 22, 2002- - -
A friend of mine has a somewhat unusual hobby. He's a farmer by day, sugar beets, barley, silage and feed corn, and Sunday afternoons he's a team roper. The gentleman's rodeo sport. Riding rough stock is for the teenagers - baby boomers don't bounce well any more. But team roping is a finesse game: two men rope a steer, one on the head to hold the animal and a 'heeler' who ropes a hind foot to throw the critter. This is a more necessary skill than one might think: How else would you vaccinate a cranky old range cow? It's also a sport.
They practice in an arena south of town, Sunday afternoons. It's not a cheap sport, you bring your own steer. Not to mention your horse and tack. Eventually the steer will learn that it doesn't like to be tripped and laid on its side. It starts to dodge the ropes. That takes all the fun out of it and you need a replacement steer. The one who's wised up gets fattened up, leading to the obvious conclusion: Sometimes it doesn't pay to get too smart.
I've got to start doing a little map reconnaissance for the turkey trip. I'd hoped to draw here in the Bighorn Basin, where I know the landowners and the lay of the land, but such was not to be. Fortunately, this year they've opened up most all of the Powder River Basin for general licenses, meaning you can buy a license over the counter at the hardware store rather than entering a lottery for a limited number of licenses.
This suggests that the turkey population is becoming large enough that it can sustain a considerable number of hunters. Of course, if the hunters are all as successful as I usually am the turkeys are pretty safe. There's also huge tracts of land that are inaccessible to the public, either due to terrain, to the Forest Service road closures, or to private landowners who don't allow access, so there are many de facto refuges for the critters.
Turkeys are interesting. A hen turkey lays a bunch of eggs, one a day pretty regularly just like a chicken, for over two months. I've heard of up to 75 eggs in a single nest. After an incubation period the eggs begin to hatch, also about one per day. At the right time of year you can walk through the woods and come on hatchlings at all stages of development, from peepers to near-adults fledging out. And all the coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and other predators are lying around with distended stomachs.
Some folks think turkeys are wily, smart critters, but they are just birds. There's not enough room in that cranium for much thinking apparatus. But of every 100 turkey eggs that hatch, only three or four make it to adulthood. The ones that survive are the ones that put their heads down and run at the first hint of danger and don't stop running until they're in the next county. They're not smart, they're paranoid.
An old friend of my sister's who's living in Kaycee found this. As usual with these things when they start circulating on the internet there's no attribution, but it's a variation on an old theme and it was to awful to resist:
Two attorneys boarded a flight out of Seattle, one sat in the window seat, the other sat in the middle seat. Just before takeoff, a physician got on and took the aisle seat next to the two attorneys. The physician kicked off his shoes, wiggled his toes and was settling in when the attorney in the window seat said, "I think I'll get up and get a Coke." "No problem," said the physician, "I'll get it for you." While he was gone, one of the attorneys picked up the physician's shoe and spat in it. When the physician returned with the Coke, the other attorney said, "That looks good, I think I'll have one too." Again, the physician obligingly went to fetch it and while he was gone, the other attorney picked up the other shoe and spat in it. The physician returned and they all sat back and enjoyed the flight.
As the plane was landing, the physician slipped his feet into his shoes and knew immediately what had happened. "How long must this go on?" he asked. "This fighting between our professions? This hatred? This animosity? This spitting in shoes and peeing in Cokes?"
I got another 1.5 Mb antivirus download from Norton this morning. Actually it looks like most of it is an online registration of some sort. They'll want money of course and they do need it to keep churning out those virus definitions.
It's springtime in the Rockies!
I've finished the spring shearing and I'm pleased to report that the same good-looking young guy appeared from under the mass of facial foliage. I'm always a little afraid that I'll shave off my beard and find my father under there, but not this year.
I may have been a bit premature, as it's about 20°F outside and the weather channel is predicting snow and cold with high winds through the weekend. Given my usual luck we're sure to have a major spring blizzard now that I've been shorn. However, if I really thought it would tempt the weather gods to dump snow or rain on us I'd shave my head to boot, because we desperately need the moisture.
Update: Yes, I am this far behind in my blogging. I wrote this yesterday about this time Dreadfully busy right now, with 16-hour days in front of this infernal contraption. Makes me want to run away and become a hunter-gatherer. But the season doesn't start until April 1st.
Incidentally, I notice that FoxNews.com's Wednesday Guest Blogger feature is trolling for Guest Bloggers:
Editor's Note: Wednesdays is Guest Blogger Day at Fox Web Logs, whereby Foxnews.com expands upon its effort to provide a forum for the aspiring pundits of cyberspace. If you keep a great log, send us an email with the URL and some samples of your best work. (Only submissions with "Guest Blog" in the subject line will be considered.)
Cool. Give 'em a shot. I'll have to do some good work first, though. That is, of course, work.
I still haven't heard back from GoStats. This is an Internet World, dammit. Where's my instant gratification?
It's probably my fault, I guess I'll try again. Hmm. Perhaps I should have read the fine print more carefully. There's more information required to sign up than is indicated by the asterisk-marked 'required' fields. Hopefully it will take this time, before I get cold feet.
Thursday, March 21, 2002- - -
"Sane Gun Bill in Sight"
An interesting editorial in today's Denver Post heralds the possibility that a modified 'shall issue' concealed weapons licensing law will pass in this session at the Colorado legislature.
Don't get me wrong. In matters of public policy I'm pretty much an incrementalist. I think we make more progress when we take small steps than when we demand great leaps. To many, passing a 'shall issue' CCW is a small step in the right direction. However, I disagree with the whole concept of licensing constitutional rights. When it’s licensed by the state it’s not an unalienable right, it’s a privilege granted by the state. That is no small step. That's hanging ten off the edge of the abyss.
Today's DP editorial illustrates some of the problems with licensing rights:
Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, and House Speaker Doug Dean now seem close to a compromise that makes sense to us: Law enforcement will be able to deny permits if there's documentable proof of instability under a so-called "naked man" provision. That would apply to people who have done weird things but avoided being charged with crimes.
Dean says he'll support that provision if there's a way to appeal denials.
Who defines 'weird?' Is blogging weird? What if you just look weird? What if the denial appeal process doesn't make it into the law? The People's Republic of Colorado is flirting with the concept of denying someone their constitutional rights although they've been charged with no crime, much less convicted. And potentially denying them the right of appeal. That is a frightening power to hand to a bunch of bureaucrats.
Some might argue, as does the DP, that the proposed CCW legislation is an improvement on the current situation. They may be right:
We have long supported a uniform concealed-carry law because some sheriffs pass permits out like candy, while in other jurisdictions like Denver, no ordinary citizen - even one in grave peril - can get one.
Some folks feel that licensing one's rights from the State is preferable to having no rights at all. This is understandable. But where does this lead?
I hesitate to blog on this for reasons that will become clear, but he who hesitates is a weenie. Via the InstaPundit, Andrea Harris hammers Harry Butt Weasel Browne for his recent WorldNetDaily article: This just in: Bin Laden wins Afghan war.
My problem with Butt Weasel Browne has been that he's discovered he can make a good living being a perpetual political candidate. Raise money. Pocket money. No problem. It's bad enough that some of that money must be spent to raise more. It would be a horrible waste to spend more than a token amount actually running a legitimate campaign. He's going to lose anyway, right?
Of course, when the Butt Weasel does make an appearance it's calculated to create the maximum controversy, as his WorldNetDaily article surely has. I suppose that's the 'no such thing as bad publicity' concept in action. And free publicity is the best kind. In writing this, I'm aware that I'm doing my little bit to keep the Weasel in business. But good god folks, can anybody take him seriously after he's written this?
The root fallacy in the War on Terrorism is the idea that we have no choice but to fight people who won't rest until they destroy us.
I think it was Kathy Kinsley whom I first noticed distinguishing between those 'on their own' and 'still on BlogSpot.' Bill Quick explained his reasoning for the distinction. It makes a lot of sense.
But I still feel so ghettoized.
Wednesday, March 20, 2002- - -
"Archaeology is the imaginative recapture of the past within the hard boundaries of the evidence, the steering between the Scylla of fantasy and the Charybdis of unrelieved fact .." Gordon Willey An Introduction to American Archaeology
Of course, some days you don't so much steer as ping around like a pinball. In the literature, it's truly amazing how a fact most unrelieved can morph into fantasy in the retelling.
I don't think I was nearly as aware of this phenomenon before I became a blogger. Now I've become acutely aware of how difficult it is to give an accurate brief synopsis of someone else's ideas. Many times I've done the 'link, summary, comment' routine only to go back and reread the original article and realize that I hadn't captured its essence and thus, that my comment had in some fashion missed the mark. Usually a little tweaking will fix the problem [I hope. Only you can judge.], but I've occasionally dumped the whole thing rather than post on something I simply didn't have a handle on.
Thanks to this newfound awareness I've become considerably more skeptical of what other writers say that someone else has said. Of course, this makes me even more glad for the blog format that allows one to effortlessly read the original author. While blogging may yet be proven a passing fad, at the least the on-going adoption of links in online publications should bring a more measured and consciously honest discourse to the mainstream media. In some cases, that in itself is revolutionary.
How about that. Cathy Young's Reason Online take down of Nicholas Kristof's guns and terrorism article, which I linked yesterday, has been picked up by the Boston Globe of all places. (Via the InstaPundit.)
That just gladdens the cockles of my heart. Perhaps things are changing.
Update: I've read the Boston Globe article and it looks like they printed it straight up as it appeared in Reason Online. The Globe article also notes that Ms. Young is a regular contributor to the Globe. How interesting.
Yes! This is an area of great promise for the developing internet. To provide an education beyond that offered by our education establishment. Or despite it as the case may be.
I see that Mrs. Sese-Seko is getting desperate. Would someone please take her $30 Million so she'll quit spamming me? Or at least get a more original scam going?
Oh Oh. Must have been something I said. I see I've been summarily purged from the up-front favorites at Samizdata. I'd have thought they'd put me in their "Havens of fluorescent idiocy" category from the start, so I guess I shouldn't complain.
Actually, I suspect that their favorites list was becoming terribly unwieldy, so I'll forgive them - someday.
Today's Christian Science Monitor has a good outline of the Cobell v. Norton Indian Trust case, with a brief bio of Elouise Cobell.
Have you ever wondered what the IRS would do to you if your accounting was on par with that of the Department of the Interior? What if you just refused to keep records on Millions of dollars in income? They'd be on you like spots on an Appaloosa.
Now consider this: The DOI manages the mineral estate of enormous tracts of land out here in the 'empty quarter.' Only a small portion of those holdings are held in trust for the Indianz and the proceeds from the Indian Trusts supposedly amount to roughly $½ Billion per year. The vast majority of the mineral estate is held in trust for all of us. With that much cash flying around and DOI accounting procedures being what they are, the potential for corruption is clearly enormous.
Why do you suppose that the DOI is so very reluctant to provide an accounting?
Where does the money go?
Sylvia Machamer weighs in on the Fightin' Whities in a letter to the Denver Post. Says she: "Even in California, we know of Eaton High's offensive mascot. What a great idea the American-Indian students at the University of Northern Colorado had. I am so proud of those young men."
Even in California.. I think that pretty well sums it up.
Quick Sylvia: Where is Eaton? What's their major industry? Ok, you can look at a map..
The Denver Post Doofus of the Month Award goes to the Hurst, Texas, public schools for expelling a 16-year-old honor student after a bread knife was found in the back of his pickup truck. The knife apparently fell from a box of household goods that had belonged to his grandmother, when he hauled it to Goodwill. "This is a serious offense," a school official told the boy.
Another good deed well punished by the morons at Zero Tolerance, Inc.
Tuesday, March 19, 2002- - -
Anthony Woodlief asks why bathroom doors are exempt from the 'open outward' fire codes. This may be the last triumph of common sense over bureaucracy - when was the last time you were in a hurry to get out of the bathroom?
This is my rifle. This is my gun. This is funny and probably too close to truth. Via just about everybody, but I finally got around to reading it.
Via Sand in the Gears comes a pointed quote from Frederic Bastiat's book, The Law. "It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder .. it erases from everyone's conscience the distinction between justice and injustice."
There's got to be a better way than these class action suits where the plaintiffs get discount coupons and their attorneys pocket millions. Makes you wonder whose interests were being represented..
Hmm. I never did hear back from the folks at Bravenet when I signed up for their hit counter. I'd thought their site was behaving oddly. I guess I'll give it another try - if only I could get a connection to my ISP..
Update: Well, dummy, that's because you signed up for GoStats. But you haven't heard from them either. (The mouse in your pocket)
Excellent! Looks like Sgt. Schultz is an armored cavalryman. Can't have a real party without the heavy metal.
Thanks to Bill Quick I've discovered Anthony Woodlief's Sand in the Gears. It is indeed laugh-out-loud funny with turns of a more biting wit.
Woodlief takes a whack at Sovietski.com. Absolutely right. Don't buy anything from those filthy Russian capitalists. Especially their cheap, simple, but well-made amber jewelry. They should be punished forever for their government's misdeeds and their bad taste in merchandise.
One more time
Marc Herold Afghan casualties
Herold Afghan casualties study
Afghanistan civilian casualties
Herold collateral damage
Marc Herold Afghanistan study
Afghan casualty figures
Marc Herold Afghan casualty figures
Herold Afghan WTC casualties
Herold study Afghan casualties
Herold Afghan casualties study
Afghan civilian casualties
Afghan collateral damage
Herold collateral damage
Marc Herold Afghanistan study
I'm honored! I've just received a very special email:
I AM MRS. SESE-SEKO WIDOW OF LATE PRESIDENT MOBUTU SESE-SEKO OF ZAIRE? NOW KNOWN AS DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC). I AM MOVED TO WRITE YOU THIS LETTER, THIS WAS IN CONFIDENCE CONSIDERING MY PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCE AND SITUATION.
Her situation? Well, she's got $30 million bucks she needs to put in my bank account, if only I'll give her the account number. Too bad I can't remember it right off..
Cathy Young's take down of Nicholas Kristof's guns and terrorism article is now available at Reason Online.
Jacob Sullum writes Editor's Links today at Reason and has some interesting news: The drug warriors have discovered the internet.
The [National Drug Intelligence Center] concedes that actual drug dealing is exceedingly rare online, so the Threat consists mainly of inconvenient facts and dissenting speech. Fortunately, the NDIC has discovered the First Amendment as well as the Internet. In a section on "Challenges Facing Policymakers and Law Enforcement," it explains there is precious little the government can do about people who refuse to join the crusade for a drug-free America, even if they use the National Information Infrastructure to spread their heresies.
Incidentally, notice that Editor's Links has, yes links! Reason is one of the few print media that is beginning to employ links on a regular basis to enhance it's online articles. Of course, you get the best of both worlds if you subscribe to the magazine.
I see by the supermarket tabloids that Rosie has come out. I assume this means she saw her shadow?
According to Nando Times: At a conference for women entrepreneurs, President Bush has announced that he wants billions of dollars in new tax breaks to spur America's small businesses. This will be in addition to the business tax cuts Bush signed into law earlier this month.
While other elements of the proposal remain vague, Bush has revived a proposal to increase the depreciation and section 179 expense deduction for small businesses from $25,000 to $40,000 per year.
According to the boilerplate in a federal solicitation for bids that I've got here, Section 52.219-01(a)(2) The small business size standard is 500 employees. By that standard I'm a microscopic business, as I've never employed more than five people. A $15,000 increase in the amount of the section 179 expense deduction could be a great help for me but I wonder how much it will help all those 490-employee 'small businesses.'
Update: Notice that throughout the Nando article linked above the 'cost to the government' of these tax cut proposals has been calculated. One might only wish that the cost to the citizens of government actions were taken as seriously.
No shit, Sherlock
From the Denver Post: Current law makes it "much easier for the government to seize property than to convict you of a crime," said [Colorado Republican State Rep. Shawn] Mitchell, a Broomfield lawmaker. "I have the firm belief it's a dangerous power subject to abuse, and it needs to be restrained." ..
Cash, cars, boats, firearms - even a hot tub - are being confiscated from citizens before they're ever charged with a crime.
And few people know where the money or property is going because most law enforcement agencies aren't reporting it. Police have used the cash to pay for everything from pizzas to Christmas parties and use the cars for undercover work.
Via Indianz.com, it looks like Mr. Roadless had better stick a little closer to the road.
Fightin' Whites T-shirts and sweats are now available. Where? CafePress of course. All proceeds go to the Fightin' Whites Scholarship Fund, Inc. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that they actually say 'Fightin' Whites' on them.
According to Indianz.com: "The Fighting Whities will be the subject of a Native America Calling broadcast today at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time."
Here's more of the story. The effort is raising consciousness across the country, but it seems folks aren't as offended as some might have hoped. Indianz says that if Rush LImbaugh likes it it's becoming passe and pointless.
Monday, March 18, 2002- - -
Jeez. I spent the better part of the morning rescuing a bunch of old WordStar text files from an ancient DOS machine. Boilerplate stuff I should have translated and backed up years ago but haven't needed until now. First I used the WordStar Convert utility to translate them to WordPerfect 5.1. Then I used MS Word to translate the WP5 files to MS Word format. Then I can use MS Publisher to translate them to Publisher files. What a pain. But the result is fairly clean and it beats retyping 150 pages of stuff.
I've spent the afternoon summarizing and updating all this old info and it gives me a good leg up on the next installment of The Big Project. I can see this will occupy a good deal of my time and concentration for the next couple of weeks, though this is much more straightforward than the last little job.
I'm dealing with the Bureau of Land Management on this job again and it appears that they're again, or still incommunicado. I received an email from the Wyoming State Office March 6th, and nothing in or out since.
Megan McArdle recently wrote about grade inflation and grade 'compression' at the university level. Here's a little scandal that underlines another side of the problem - out and out grade fraud.
But what would you expect? Major sport college athletes are a big investment. Couldn't have them become academically ineligible. I have friends who teach at various universities and I've been astonished at the stories they've told. Serious pressure can be brought to bear on any academic who's grading threatens the athletic department, frequently the university's biggest cash cow.
Well there's the problem, the economic "Recovery remains reclusive." No that's not a typo. At least not on my part.
The Denver Post has an article today on Dennis Gingold, plantiff's attorney in Cobell V. Norton. One government lawyer calls him 'The Terrorist.' Not surprising considering he's ".. forced the Justice Department to send in a replacement team of lawyers after he questioned the ethics of the first team." I bet they loved that.
His explanation for the government's decision to fight the case is backed in part by the testimony of a Treasury official, who said government officials long have viewed the trust funds as a "government slush fund" that could be used to lower the national debt.
More bad science at the EPA. What a surprise. This time it's a sample size of one and they diddled the test to boot.
We seem to have a lot of illness going around today and I see I'm not the only one who suspects it's not all due to bad tunafish.
423 DUI arrests in Colorado over the St. Pat's weekend last year and shaping up about the same this year. Looks like a lot of people believe in the luck of the Irish.
After my 'fix it' day yesterday it is gratifying in a 'misery loves company' sort of way to see that Evan Williams has problems with Outlook Express.
Evan Williams has a note about time stamps on blog posts that's true here as well. I often save up a few posts and then paste them up all at once. You might also note from the link that Ev doesn't host himself on BlogSpot..
Andrew Sullivan has an article on Bush II today that's well worth the read. Bush and I sound a lot alike in the goofy jokester department, although I'd have gone for the sushi. I've always been pretty slow-spoken. I think about what I say, I don't just repeat the sound bites I've been fed. But this leads some folks to assume that I'm not very bright. I learned long ago that being 'misunderestimated' can confer a certain advantage and I wonder if Bush II hasn't cultivated this same tactic to a degree I can only dream of.
During the presidential campaign I wondered why it was that a Harvard MBA was being billed as a dummy while the journalism major and divinity school/law school dropout was Mr. Science Guy. I wrote it off as wishful thinking and 'tell a Big Lie' tactics by fellow journalism majors at the time and still do. If Sullivan is any indication, Bush II won't be getting another bye in the brains department for the next election.
Ok, everyone who ate their corned beef and cabbage yesterday, raise your hands. Not bad as far as ethnic 'soul food' goes. My wife says 'this is to remind us that we can do much better now.' Of course, it's been on sale for the last couple weeks, but at the regular price it's right up there with New York strip, so I'm not so sure we can do much better.
Sunday, March 17, 2002- - -
The Mythical honest man has been found! The DailyPundit, Bill Quick, lists the DailyPundit among his favorite blogs.
Via Bill Quick comes this, from a Time.com article: At a recent dinner for Democratic fund raisers in Manhattan, [Al] Gore ripped into Bush's handling of the presidency. The President's philosophy is "speak loudly and carry a small stick," he said.
If that was the 'small stick,' Saddam ought to be very, very afraid.
This has been a most productive day. First I learned about "smart quotes" - although I still don't know what a smart quote is or why anyone would want one, at least I now know how to get rid of them. And now Anton Sherwood has told me how to beat the blasted disappearing archive number problem that's been plaguing me since day one. Just add a ?/ as I've done in that last link.
One thing I've learned from all this—the interconnectivity of the internet isn't quite seamless. My blog looks just fine to me, the links work and the quotation marks look like quotation marks. Apparently this isn't the case for some of the readers, however. And it's bloody impossible to fix a problem you can't see or recreate. Especially if you don't know you have a problem.
My original goal for today was to set up a hit counter. I'd been reluctant to do so. I don't know whether I'm more afraid to find out that no one reads this drivel, or that everyone reads it. But I've signed up for a hit counter through Bravenet, I think..
If my signup with Bravenet works I'll have learned three new tricks in one day. Not bad for an old 'yote.
Now I'll probably find out that my "fixes" have caused a whole slew of new problems somewhere else. Computers. Gotta love 'em. But why is it that we seem to love the things that cause us the most aggravation?
Update: Drat! I notice that getting rid of smart quotes doesn't do a thing for the "smart hyphens" or whatever is causing that little black box some of you are probably seeing right after "One thing I've learned from all this.. Tsk. If you're expecting perfection you'll have to look elsewhere. But please do let me know if you see any more problems!
Many many thanks to those who've emailed with comments and suggestions.
Update Dux: Ah! I get rid of the smart hyphens the same way I got rid of smart quotes. Of course. Now I need to know why I would want a hyphen smarter than I am..
Ask and you shall receive!
Reader Matt Harris writes: "This may seem like a simple question, but if Publisher is giving you such a hard time with smart quotes, why not turn them off? I checked the help files for MS Publisher 2000 for "smart quotes" and turning them off is fairly simple."
Cool. I've just tried it, let's see if it works..
It works!! Outstanding! Thanks, Matt Harris!
This morning I'd never heard of a smart quote. I guess you can teach an old dog the occasional trick.
Sigh. As you can see in the post below, I have enough trouble with the Queen’s English, without fighting with computerese. For the time being I’ll try to eschew quotation marks wherever possible, and fix those I must use. If anyone out there sees any other problems with this blog, other than my shitty attitude, please let me know! Please.
Let me know if you don’t like my attitude too. Although I doubt there’s much I can do about that.
Finally, someone tells me!
When I started this blog I had the very devil of a time trying to figure out how to create links. I dutifully typed the HTML code character for character as Steve Den Beste had explained them to me, but they didn’t work. Finally, I did a "View Source" to see exactly what I was sending Blogger and discovered that the quotes characters I was sending to Blogger appeared as little squares in Blogger’s text editor. The only way I’ve found to correct this is to manually retype the quotes in Blogger’s text editor before publishing to BlogSpot.
Almost two months later I’m still doing that. A tiny nuisance, but it works and given my magico-religious approach to computers, I generally don’t mess with what works. Until now. Anton Sherwood informs me that my "smart quotes" don’t look so smart from his point of view:
"I decided not to bother urging you not to use "smart" asymmetric quotation marks in your blog, because it would be mere whining about the incomplete font in which I read the stuff. But
(you knew there had to be a 'but')
Then I found your link to A Boy and His Blog, which is broken because - ta daa! - the tag contains "smart" q rather than dumb ones."
Oops. I forgot to retype the quotes in Blogger. They're fixed now. And apparently, although the non-HTML quotes marks in my text look fine to me, they don’t look so good to some folks. I don’t wish to give up composing in MS Publisher. I’m working in Publisher all day anyway and sticking with a single text editor is easier on my head than switching back and forth. I also desperately need a spell checker. However, I don’t want folks to read my blog and see a bunch of @$#%@ instead of elegantly composed prose. (Or is it semiliterate gibberish? I’m not the one to judge.)
However, MS Publisher does provide a couple of 'Unicode' fonts that appear to me to be pretty much straight ASCII code. I’m composing this post in Unicode to see what happens when I blog it. In the mean time, please don’t be bashful about emailing me if you have any problems reading my blog or anything is coming through garbled on your end. I can’t promise I’ll fix the problem, as I have no clue how to make any of this compatible with Apples, Unix, Linux, or what have you, but if I don’t know about the problem it’s a sure bet it won’t get fixed..
Hmm. Unicode quotes characters still come through as little black boxes in Blogger's editor. I've manually retyped all the quotes in this post, but that is a huge pain. Ah well, I'll keep working at it.
Saturday, March 16, 2002- - -
Great minds think [somewhat] alike?
Personally, in times of indecision I always ask ‘What Would Machiavelli Do?’ I’m beginning to suspect similar thought patterns from the Bush II administration.
Local Blogger Makes Good!
Outstanding! I see that we have a new ‘semi-pro’ in the ranks. Megan McArdle writes about Netscape’s Folly in Thursday’s Salon.
Via Anton Sherwood, I’ve noticed these quasi-libertarians cropping up in letters to the editor at Reason and Liberty (no active website). A frequent argument of this set parallels that espoused by Bill Bennett a couple years back—that the public school teacher’s First Amendment rights ought to trump your right not to have your children proselytized in school by their teachers.
Regardless of the issue, the message seems always the same: “Freedom for me, but not for thee.” I would hope that most folks see this as the perversion of the libertarian ideal that it is.
Friday, March 15, 2002- - -
Bill Quick unleashes his trademark caustic wit on Reuters. But I always thought it rhymed with hooters, rooters, as in ‘little pigs.’
Hmm. Yes, although their tactics were reprehensible and despicable, the donkeys did save us from Bob Bork.
Tipper should be committed as a public service.
Yep. Lure all the tourists in so they’ll spend their money. That’s a great way to build your economy. and your kids will be able to get good jobs at those resorts. Making beds, waiting, tables, and cleaning the pool.
Yes, but. Those governments don’t want their people partaking of the fruits of the 21st century. Socialism, communism, reactionary Islam, and tyranny are all defunct strategies in the 21st century. They don’t want to go there.
Some hopeful noises are finally being made on the Indian Trust issue
In response to questions posed by lawmakers who expressed skepticism that the broken system could ever be fixed, senior officials said Indian Country probably won't accept an effective termination of the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust. "I don't personally think that the individual Indian allottees would think that is the right idea," said Deputy [Interior] Secretary J. Steven Griles. ..
Why, of course not. Who would want to be let alone to manage their own affairs?
"But that doesn't mean it isn't the right idea," he quickly added. ..
.. Griles and Swimmer told members of the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee that certain problems could be avoided if Congress stepped in. If the land remained free of local and state taxation, stayed within reservation boundaries and was kept out of non-Indian hands, they said eliminating the IIM trust might work.
"I think there obviously is some value . . . if there were a way to having less than a full trust duty to those properties," said Swimmer.
Made during an oversight hearing on trust reform, yesterday's remarks were the first concrete admission that the Bush administration would accept some sort of dismantling of the individual system. The issue was raised briefly last month by Associate Deputy Secretary Jim Cason, who told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee the idea was rejected in favor of reorganization of trust duties.
Yep. Gonna have to pry their sticky fingers off that money one at a time. But perhaps it can be done.
Incidentally, check out the Lalo Alcaraz ‘your visa is denied’ cartoon at Indianz.com. Your tax dollars at work, indeed. Check out the rest of the site too. A very different perspective and concerns with a lot of other issues you won’t hear about every day.
Finally someone asked a key question in the Indian Trust case
"The Department of the Interior has not placed a dollar value on the amount of the problems that have come from the mismanagement," [Interior Secretary Gale Norton] said in response to a caller who wanted to know where the money has gone.
Say what? The question: “Where did the money go?” Gets the answer: “We don’t know how much money has been lost.” Sounds like some boot-scootin’ side-stepping going on down in DC. A lot of fiddlin’ too.
Secretary Norton goes on to say that "most" of the payments to Indian beneficiaries have been made. "We've had to make some estimated payments for some types of those transactions because we didn't have the complete computer system going," she said.
Norton made her comments during a half-hour appearance on the C-SPAN program "Washington Journal." She was asked two questions about the Indian trust debacle.
Over a month has gone by. Another month. And still some people are waiting.
Says Elouise Cobell, plaintiff in Cobell v Norton: "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."
Yes, and that’s when she gets it. How would you like to have gone without a check of any sort since early December? This is the only income some of these folks have. $1000 a year. In the heart of the USA.
Hey! It hasn't been 12 months yet. Where did that ad come from? Of course, I'd gladly pay $12 a month. This has been very entertaining.
Oh baby, I’ll make the earth move for you!
Drop a burrowing bomb this big and it’s going to rattle the dishes 100 miles away.
Frankly, despite accusations of squishiness, given the ordnance we’ve expended already, I think Bush II is probably wise to start preparing people for the fact that we may never find the remains of OBL’s vaporized butt. But he’s got to be dead or we’d have gotten another tape by now.
Via His Unholiness, Incorrigible I, aka Stephen Green comes some unsurprising news: Harry Browne [Butt Weasel!] is at it again. Is there anyone left out there that doesn’t realize that this guy is a snake oil salesman of the first order?
Update: But please Stephen, don’t give up on the libertarian ideal. Harry Butt Weasel Browne doesn’t speak for all of us. He’s just a conman who’s hijacked a small part of the Party of Reason.
Yeah! The InstaPundit is weakening! ‘Senator Reynolds’ does trip right off the tongue..
Hmmm. I wonder if anyone’s told Tipper about what you hear when you play a CD backward?
The latest in PC
In this morning’s Red Star Tribune (no link to article) we have an article about the “Fightin’ Whites,” the UNC Greeley intramural basketball team. They’re now selling ‘Fightin’ Whites’ T-shirts! Cool, I think I’ll order one.
What’s so amusing? Well, here’s the original article, word for word with what the Star Tribune prints, except that somewhere between the original author, the AP, and my print addition, a slight spelling change has taken place. They’re actually the “Fightin’ Whities”! I've got to have one of those shirts.
Update: I notice in the article that they have to check the University guidelines before they can sell the shirts. I'll bet they're required to 'correct' the spelling..
Update II: Now I'm covered with embarrassment. It looks like this was the original article. Although it didn't appear in my google search it was linked at the bottom of the first article I linked, above. The article also states: "The intramural basketball team's official name is "Native Pride." But the team calls itself the "Fightin' Whites" - and is widely known by the more in-your-face "Fightin' Whities" - as a jab at nearby Eaton High School." So there's some question about the 'official' spelling of their unofficial name.
Gonzaga thought they got no respect before.. Chortle. Snigger. Guffa.
No one ever pleads permanent insanity, do they?
My first post on the Andrea Yates case was probably as incoherent as anything I’ve written, at least from my point of view. I stand by what I said, I think it’s all probably correct, but it was also entirely off the point of what I meant to say.
My original intent in writing the piece was to point out that we can never really get inside someone else’s mind. We can’t know for a fact what was going through Ms. Yates mind when she killed her children. In my humble opinion we shouldn’t care. While I think her behavior provides an operational definition of insanity, I think driving a jetliner into a crowded building is [almost] equally insane. So what?
I wouldn’t argue for the death penalty in either case, but I will argue that for the safety of all the rest of us, anyone who does something like this should be removed from society forever. For this reason, I really don’t believe in the insanity defense. Especially because it’s always ‘temporary’ insanity and often of the sort that’s already been ‘cured.’
I can see a place for an insanity plea in sentencing, as Ms. Yates would appear to belong in a rubber room. But that rubber room should have no exit to the outside world. Not ever.
From a can of spray solvent: “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer.”
And we all know that the State of California is an authority on the subject.
Thursday, March 14, 2002- - -
Who cares who put it up, as long as they come down, that’s not my department ..
Dang! I’ve been so concerned with my computer ‘bombing’ that I almost forgot about the Google bombing!
The pissant pedant in me requires that I point out that although folks are crediting Megan McArdle with the idea, Megan’s post links an earlier post by Ben Sheriff, who appears to have constructed the first google bomb at the instigation of Charles Johnson, and has since been on a one man google bombing mission. None of this is important as long as the bombs keep dropping, so here’s mine.
Marc Herold Afghan casualties
Herold Afghan casualties study
Afghanistan civilian casualties
Herold collateral damage
Marc Herold Afghanistan study
Afghan casualty figures
Marc Herold Afghan casualty figures
Herold Afghan WTC casualties
Herold study Afghan casualties
Herold Afghan casualties study
Afghan civilian casualties
Afghan collateral damage
Herold collateral damage
Marc Herold Afghanistan study
Update: It’s entirely understandable that the history of the event ended with Megan. BlogSpot was being very flaky about the time all this occurred and I got a 404 the first couple times I tried the link to Ben Sheriff.
Sgt. Stryker is starting a spin off blog for all ‘the personal shit.’
I’d taken something of this same tack when I set up A Boy and His Blog for all the serious quasi-professional stuff. I’ll still make use of the little humanitarian when I have photos available and can post some of the interesting stuff I do, but I haven’t been over to the ‘Boy’ myself in quite awhile. I should drop the link in my favorites here until there’s something there worth reading.
I’d given thought to creating more blogs to sort the serious from the zany, but I decided that folks who read only the serious stuff would think me one grim sucker while folks who read only the zany would think .. well, probably what you all think anyway. Ah well, I decided to leave well enough alone for now. I can’t decide myself sometimes if I’m being serious and there’s times when I must laugh to keep from crying.
Just as I suspected. Glenn Reynolds is off to California and there’s just as much activity on his blog as usual. Did anyone attending that speech yesterday take note of which side the good Professor is parted his hair? The peepul have a right to know..
Halleluiah! Blogger recognizes my cookies!
Oops, no it didn’t and still doesn’t. My server had taken a ‘time out’ so the silly computer fixed me up with a previously saved ‘temporary internet file.’ Sure fooled me for a couple minutes, though.
I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now .. The Byrds
But Professor, doesn’t a mother killing her own children pretty much define “Insane”?
Rather than a subconscious view of ‘child as chattel,’ there may be a deeper, indeed instinctive reason why fraternal and maternal filicide are viewed differently. Ms. Lithwick touches on it when she says “.. the law treats individuals who burn down other people's houses as criminals and institutionalizes those who burn down their own.”
From a sociobiological perspective, maternal filicide is certainly not a rational behavior in terms of genetic survival and, except in very unusual circumstances, we would consider it highly aberrant behavior for females of any species.
On the other hand, for the male, killing children he knows or suspects are not his offspring can be rationalized as a pro-genetic survival trait—reducing competition for one’s own offspring—thus rational rather than aberrant behavior. In fact, we do see fraternal filicide throughout the animal kingdom, including the remainder of the hominoids, but only very rarely do we see maternal filicide.
It’s pretty much beside the point, but the statistics in the Slate article are as sloppy as any I’ve seen. First, what is the sample size? Given the media hysteria over the Yates case, I suspect it’s exceedingly low. What is the nature of the sample? Do these ‘murder’ statistics include the horribly sad ‘shaking the baby’ deaths that come more from ignorance than malice? None of these numbers mean a thing without this information.
Given this, only a newbie blogger would be forgiven for the link provided in the Slate article: “A 1969 study by Dr. Phillip Resnick, the "father" of maternal filicide .. found that while mothers convicted of murdering their children were hospitalized 68 percent of the time and imprisoned 27 percent of the time, fathers convicted of killing their children were sentenced to prison or executed 72 percent of the time and hospitalized only 14 percent of the time.”
The link doesn’t take you to Resnick’s study supporting the statistics, but rather to a CBS News article on Resnick’s testimony in the Yates case which neither presents nor defends any statistics whatsoever. The link only gives the appearance that Ms. Lithwick is linking her source for the stats. Furthermore, these statistics only show that the courts can be more sympathetic for filicidal mothers than for their male counterparts. Neither they, nor any of the other statistics in the article go to the question of whether Yates is ‘insane’.
Ms. Lithwick asks: “While it may once have been true that women were the sole—and often frustrated—caregivers of small children, mothers now work, yet they don't kill their colleagues; they kill their babies. Why?” This is just silly. If I wanted to be flip I might suggest that Ms. Lithwick has never been around children much. But frankly, I suspect that it’s just a hell of a lot easier to kill an infant or child than it is to kill another adult.
Finally, note that in the CBS News article it does state that: “.. Yates confessed to killing her kids and even prosecutors concede that she was mentally ill back then.”
I’ll leave this with one last thought: No one ever pleads permanent insanity, do they?
As everyone who uses Windows 98 and Internet Explorer 5.5 is surely aware, Microsoft has announced this morning [now yesterday] that Internet Explorer 6 is now available for download for users of Windows 98. Frankly, considering the number of problems I’ve been experiencing with the internet in the last few days, and I know I’ve been comparatively lucky, all I need is another batch of bugs. I think I’ll ride with IE 5.5 until I hear some reviews on the new product.
Via Steve Den Beste, this is just plain unbelievable:
Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida, has been notified this week that the Immigration and Naturalization Service has approved applications for student visas for Mohamed Atta, and Marwan Al-Shehhi.
Approved them? OK, I guess they can start their flight training now..
In case anyone could possibly have forgotten, Atta and Al-Shehhi trained at Huffman in July 2000 and were aboard separate flights that struck the towers of the World Trade Center.
This sounds like a disgruntled INS employee trying to make trouble for the agency. If it’s not a disgruntled employee There Had Better Be Big Trouble.