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halloween 2003 roundup (coming soon)
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  xSaturday, July 27, 2002

greetings from chicago

chicago postcard
Cecilia and I rolled into Kim's place about 11 last night. Cecilia fought hard to stay awake the whole trip--at one point, when I suggested she settle back into her car seat, she said "I'm not giving up, Daddy." She had just nodded off when we arrived,and woke up long enough to say hello before being bundled off to bed. I stayed up til about midnight chatting with Kim, her roommate Jennifer and their friend Brian, but we were all bushed and so packed it in not long after.

Cecilia woke me up at her usual time, about 7:30, and I stumbled around Kim's kitchen finding the necessary means to make coffee and get Cecilia some cereal and juice. We're waiting on Kim's young son Lydon and we'll have lunch, then hopefully I can get Cecilia to nap so she can make up for the sleep she lost last night. I don't know what we'll do tonight, but it'll be cool just to hang out and chat and maybe take in a DVD. I'm not really checking the news yet, but I may jump on a bit later. (Kim has a wireless network and at least one laptop--most L33t!)

  xFriday, July 26, 2002

off to the windy city

me and kim
I'm going to visit my friend Kim up in Chicago this weekend. She has a computer, so I'll be able to check my email and hopefully even post. I'm bringing my oldest daughter, Cecilia; Kim has a four-year-old son, and the two of them have enjoyed playing together. I don't know if Cecilia is looking forward to the trip, but I think she'll wind up having a lot of fun, and I know I'll dig hanging with Kim.


no, charles, but that column sure was...

Charles Krauthammer had a rather puzzling column in this morning's WaPo (really, what prompts a nationally syndicated columnist to churn out pointless drivel like this? Was the deadline pressure that bad, Doctor?). It begins:
To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.

Matthew Yglesias and Demosthenes have already rebutted Kratuhammer eloquently (and, in both, cases tersely; that K's column can be so easily mocked in so few words underscores its weakness), but here are a couple of points of my own.


For one thing, Krauthammer faults liberals for their cockeyed optimism about human nature:
Liberals believe that human nature is fundamentally good. The fact that this is contradicted by, oh, 4,000 years of human history simply tells them how urgent is the need for their next seven-point program for the social reform of everything...Liberals suffer incurably from naivete, the stupidity of the good heart.

[begin sarcasm tag] Which, of course, is exactly why conservatives have been clamoring for increased oversight of corporate finance over that last century. [end sarcasm tag] Seriously, the naive belief in laissez-faire economics in the face of tremendous opportunites for greed has led to many of today's corporate scandals, which, need I remind anyone, involves executives not only lying about the condition of their finances but also cashing out before the inevitable crash and leaving investors--who own the company--holding the bag.


Earlier on, there's this:
If only we could get social conditions right -- eliminate poverty, teach anger management, restore the ozone, arrest John Ashcroft -- everyone would be holding hands smiley-faced, rocking back and forth to "We Shall Overcome."

Let me run down this list as far as I'm concerned:

  1. Eliminate poverty: Of course, doing so is to almost everyone's direct economic benefit; people with more money spend more money

  2. Anger management: Got me there--I don't really care about that

  3. Restore the ozone: Naw, I'd prefer industrial chemicals to increase skin cancer. Sarcasm aside, protecting the environment is once again a direct benefit to me and my family--and isn't rational self-interest supposed to be the conservative hallmark?

  4. Arrest John Ashcroft--Not at all, but I wouldn't mind seeing him axed as the self-promoting, lying, fumbling AG he is.

Finally, Krauthammer puzzles over the press buying into Dubya's image:
The most troubling paradox of all, of course, is George W. Bush. Compassionate, yet conservative? Reporters were fooled during the campaign. "Because Bush seemed personally pleasant," explained Slate, "[they] assumed his politics lay near the political center."

That, of course, had nothing to do with the fact that Bush relentlessly promoted the image of a personable centrist during the campaign, mostly by sticking to empty platitudes and avoiding specifics whenever possible. (And yes, the "liberal" press let him get away with it.) I think Bush's true political beliefs have shown during his tenure as President, and I can't fathom him trying to sweep it all back under the "compassionate conserveative" rug when he runs for re-election.


aw no

Police are searching for a six-year-old girl apparently abducted this morning from her suburban St. Louis home.

I fervently hope little Cassandra "Casey" Williamson is able to pull an Erica Pratt, or in any case is reunited with her family safe and sound.


as a matter of fact

Dodd at Ipse Dixit commented on a Washington Times story he found on Flyover Country Today that seemed to indicate Senator Joseph Biden wants to amend the Posse Comitatus Act to expand the military's police powers, and that Homeland Security emty suit Tom Ridge opposed the idea. (Dodd made other, typical, Coulter-esque comments in his post that I don't care to dignify with a response.) I pointed out in a comment that the AP story I'd read lent itself to a different interpretation--it cites Bush as urging the law be reviewed and indicates Ridge and Biden are both mulling the role the military should have in reacting to a terrorist incident--and then dug up a Reuters story that seems to support the AP account.

To his great credit, Flyover Country's Kevin McGehee noticed the thread and ran a correction, and even credited me. Props, Kevin, and thanks!

(By the way, I'm not saying that alleged Constitutional expert Biden isn't contemplating some disturbing changes in the law--he certainly is.)

Update: I really don't mean to pick on Dodd, but I noticed Ramsey of Literal Politics posted a lengthy refutation of another of Dodd's posts defending Cheney over Haliburton.


// update //

anna kournikova
Anna Kournikova wins again...

(via FARK)


// update //

The House of Representatives has approved an amendment to the Homeland Security bill that would give the President power to waive, in writing, certain worker protections under "dire circumstances."


appeals court considers college newspaper limits

The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering a legal challenge to a move by a college administration to approve the school's student newspaper before publication. The Associated Press Managing Editors Association and the American Society of Newspaper Editors have weighed in on the issue, fearing that the case could extend to college newspapers a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision that gives high school principals power to control student publications.

The heart of the controversy is a telephone call placed by Governors State University Dean of Student Affairs Patricia Carter to the printer of the school's student paper, ordering that the printing be halted until a school official had reviewed the stories. The call came too late and the paper was published, but the printer, fearing the college would refuse to pay for newspapers it considered controversial, has declined to print further issues. Student editors Jeni Porche and Margaret Hosty had launched investigations of what they claimed were improprieties on campus, including grade inflation and overly generous student stipends. Relations with the administration soured, leading to Carter's call in October 2000. The paper has not resumed publication since then.

The administration contends that censorship never took place, but the student editors claim that the dean's office urged that positive stories appear and they refused.


rage against the machine

Talking Points Memo and Matthew Yglesias both address the President's threat to veto Homeland Security legislation because it doesn't contain his proposal to strip Federal worker of civil service job protections. TPM notes that many Federal workers currently involved with domestic security enjoy these protections and posits what would happen if Gore were now in the White House and had attempted to force through something like universal health care as part of his proposed anti-terrorism legislation:
I assume editorialists would see this for what it was: a craven and disreputable attempt to bootstrap in the Democrats' workplace policy agenda under the guise of a critical homeland security measure. The White House would be cynically calculating that they could snag an interest group goody on the sly since Republicans wouldn't have the stomach to vote against. It wouldn't matter if you happened to support universal health, long-term care insurance, and ergonomics regs. The White House just should not use the terrorism card to muscle through an ideological wish-list that it lacks the courage to push on its own terms.

So why no similar outrage at the Bush White House for doing just the same thing?


Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias notes, correctly, that civil service protections were instituted as a reform against the patronage system and machine politics.
Whether or not someone is doing a good job is a highly subjective question, and whereas a private firm has a very objective criterion by which to judge overall performance (profitability), the government does not. Hence, before the days of civil service protections it was common for the dawning of a new administration to herald mass firings of current government employees and their replacement by hand-picked "friends" of the new president's political allies in local political machines. This was judged to be A Bad Thing and the only remedy the people of the era could think of was to make it hard to fire government employees.


He goes on to point out that these reforms led to the rise of powerful civil service unions, which allied with Democrats, which set the stage for the current partisan wrangling. He notes, however, that there are potential pitfalls either way:
Both sides are seeking partisan advantage. Partisans on both sides will probably endlessly point out the hypocrisy and low motives of the other side. Nevertheless, I want to insist here that the motives of both parties are irrelevant. There are perfectly good high-minded arguments on both sides of this debate. If you relax the civil service rules, you might get more efficient management of the department. On the other hand, you might get less efficient management as current employees are replaced with totally unqualified patronage picks. You'd also get more of the overall corruption of the system that comes with patronage politics, but less of the corruption of the system that comes when powerful unions can support the election of candidates who use public funds to back the unions thereby essentially funneling the money back into their own reelection campaigns.

It'd be truly nice if proposals could be debated on their merits, without all the posturing. I just don't see that happening, and there are many factors, not the least of which is that soundbite journalism utterly precludes rational debate.


more permalinkage

I've just noticed that The Last Page has permalinked me on the new site. You have our gratitude.

Update: I've taken this opportunity to enhance my own permalinks.


watch the skies!

(it gives me such a warm feeling to be able to write a hed like that!)

This is cool: the International Space Station will be visible to North American observers as the brightest object in the night sky save the moon. Although specific details won't be discernable to the naked eye (but are with a telescope), its motion will be obvious as it crosses the sky in three to six minutes (the station travels at 17,000 mph, orbiting Earth once every 90 minutes).


more raving luncay spotlights another scary anti-rave bill--this one in the House and ostensibly intended to combat meth use, it proposes criminal penalties for promoters of musical events if someone promores an event where drug use of any kind is a reasonable possibility. Here's a key clause from H.R. 3782:
Whoever knowingly promotes any rave, dance, music or other entertainment event, that takes place under circumstances where the promoter knows or reasonably ought to know that a controlled substance will be used or distributed in violation of Federal law or the law of the place where the event is held, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned for not more than 9 years, or both. [emphasis mine]

(via InstaPundit via The Hamster)

Dude. Back when I attended rock concerts (which is to say, before ticket prices became $50 a pop), it was sure-fire to see at least a couple of people fire up a spliff. Under this rational, nearly any concert promoter could be busted. (Protestations by supporters of the bill that it's just to give law enforcement a tool to support their discretion just raise equal protection concerns.) It occurs to me that if the Grateful Dead were still touring, this law could be used to bust every single one of their concerts; I'm not hip to the current scene, but don't groups like Phish have the same sort of deal at their shows? I've only been to one Phish concert (and my pal Sparky and I really went to see Sheryl Crow open the show), but that was the general vibe I got.

I'll also point out, as AlterNet does, that H.R. has one of those catchy acronyms--in this case, CLEAN-UP (Clean, Learn, Educate, Abolish, Neutralize and Undermine Production of Methamphetamines). The use of catchy and misleading legislative titles is anothersad trend of politics today; I miss the old days when bills were called stuff like the "Hawley-Smoot Tarrif Act."

By the way, would someone please tell me what the deal is with the glow sticks?


check your hotmail account!

Microsoft, in an effort to drive users away from its free services into more revenue-friendly fee-based ones, has begun deleting all sent messages older than 30 days from its Hotmail email system. A number of users seem to have been caught unawares by the policy and complain of having lost archived writings with no chance of recovery. Microsoft claims a notice was sent out a notice about the policy in mid-June, but a repeat warning just before the deletion would have been helpful.

(via Cut on the Bias)

Hey, I've got a basic economic lesson for the suits at the revenue-hungry dotcoms: If you don't want to give your users free services, don't give them free services. If you give your users a free service, don't be surprised if they refuse to pay for it. (Microsoft claims more than 110 million Hotmail users, but fewer than 300,000 of those have opted for a fee-based extra storage feature.) Simple. It's called Supply and Demand.

(arrggh...Blogger just ate the second half of this post. Scuse me while I try to reconstruct it...)

  xThursday, July 25, 2002

"barbie girl" ruled protected parody

There's a lot of intellectual-property stuff I plan to comment on, from a German court decision on "deep linking" to a company's patent claim on the ubiquitous JPEG digital image format, but all I have time for now is to observe that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the song "Barbie Girl" by Danish pop group Aqua is a parody enjoying First Amendment protection, dismissing a claim by Mattel, maker of the famous doll.


it seems...

I am

a dedicated law enforcer who believes that law
must be obeyed black and white. fighting bad guys
with cool drunken style and feared by crime organizations
throughout the world. unfortunately, my life isn't
as bright as my reputation as a cop. FWEEZE!!

take Which Tekken Character Are You test!


what a coinkydink

In citing a series of Fortune articles criticizing the accounting fictions surrounding stock options (hey, here's a thought: if they don't want to treat 'em as expenses, don't let 'em deduct them), I used verbiage something like this: which lefty pinko socialist rag ran these? Mother Jones? The New Republic? Try Fortune...

Reading Letter from Gotham via Meryl Yourish today, I came across the following post:
WAS HARKEN ENERGY a CIA front company?

What kind of far-left rag would make such an allegation? The Nation? Nope. Mutha Jones? Nope. Zmag? Guess again.

Fortune Magazine. Yup. Fortune. The article is careful to say that this was just a rumor, but it is interesting that the person floating is was quite willing to be quoted by name. He is a securities analyst.

I wonder.

I like her style.


mirabile dictu: i agree with andrew sullivan

Speaking of Letter from Gotham, she linked to this priceless column by Andrew Sullivan, written during the early days of the 2000 Republican primary system. Key quotes:
Bush spent the week deploying a private company to call thousands of South Carolinians at home to spread what can only be called malicious lies about his opponent.

Like his father before him, Bush combines inarticulate high-mindedness in office with ruthless demagoguery on the campaign trail.

The ugliness of his tactics, his willingness to consort with the most unsavoury characters in a notoriously unsavoury state and the sheer vacuousness of his message have revealed him to be not merely hollow but also malicious and unwise.

...and Mr. Sullivan concludes:
In the past few weeks Bush has gathered around him, with uncanny efficiency, the unprincipled lowlife who have poisoned the Republican party for a decade or more. You can tell a lot about a person by who his friends are. If these hatchet men and bigots are Bush's friends, then deliver us speedily unto his enemies.

I heartily agree.

  xWednesday, July 24, 2002

it's an honor to serve

Posting tomorrow may be light, as I've been called to appear for jury duty. This will be a first time for me, and I'm looking forward to it; I'd love to actually be empanelled. My group is to report at the City-County building tomorrow morning; I'll learn later, apparently, how long I'll need to stick around. I'll report on the experience as opportunity allows.

Update: I'm back; we were dismissed a few hours ago. To my diasppontment, I was not selected to be on a jury, so it basically amounted to four hours in a movie-theater-style auditorium with no movie (I did have a book, at the recommendation of my lovely wife). I'm catching up with much stuff, so postings will be few and/or terse at best for the next few hours.


rave on!

InstaPundit's Glenn Reynolds tees off on the ludicrous RAVE act, which followed the efforts of nitwit New Orleans prosecutors to apply crack house laws to the all-night dance parties known as raves as part of a failing effort to combat ecstasy use. Judges basically laughed them out of court--a little thing called the First Amendment, you know--so Senators Joseph Biden--who's an expert at Constitutional law, I'm told--Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Patrick Leahy, and Richard Durbin are sponsoring a bill that cites the dread specter of such "drug paraphenalia" as glow sticks and bottled water.

Update: As I've mentioned before, annatopia has a lengthy rant on RAVE, and she's added more thoughts on the raves she's attended (I've attended nary a one, myself).

(more later...)


cinematic excellence...

...well, not really. I just concluded a very satisfying viewing of the Golan-Globus ninja flick Enter the Ninja. My lovely wife didn't show much interest, especially since she missed the opening ninja-training scene. There are really only two scenes of what you'd call traditional ninja fare--guys with masks and ninja suits sneaking around--and they bookend the film, with the middle part being largely standard chop-socky film stuff: Franco Nero and his mustache, having graduated from ninja school by proving he can kill a whole platoon of red-shirts (they target ninja really do wear red uniforms) out in the jungle withour getting a speck of blood or dirt on his sparkling while ninja tunic, goes to hang with his friend in the Phillippines. This worthy--an old army buddy, natch--owns a plantation that's sought by greedy land barons with thugs who chase away his workers, etc etc. There's also the obligatory unsatisfied wife just dying for a touch of that ninja lovin'. The film's climax is pretty neat, as ninja film veteran Sho Kosugi (wearing traditional black garb) and fight coordinator/stuntman Mike Stone (who also wrote the original story) face off in a duel to the death in a Manila sport arena. Tasty stuff.

I plan to write a review, but in the meantime you can chew on this lengthy examination at Teleport City, which provides lots of juicy history not only about ninja movies (key quote: "When your two best entries in a genre both come from Cannon Films, you're in trouble.") but their real-life inspiration. Check it out.


good news

The Dow enjoyed a good day today, closing up 488.95 points at 8,191.29, the second biggest one-day gain in history. Since I've been kvetching about the precipitous drop, I felt it only fair to note an uptick as well.

Meanwhile, a House and Senate conference committee has reached agreement on a coprorate fraud bill, indicating the legislation could pass prior to the upcoming August recess. No details were available on the final bill's form, but legislators indicated it contained many of the provisions of a stronger Senate version. The House bill included stiffer criminal penalties, but as several have pointed out, the problem is securing a conviction in the first place.


salon gets on blogwagon recently debuted a daily journal by writer Joe Conason. Now it'll host your blog, too. The first 30 days are free, after which there's a US$39.95 monthly fee. Salon also maintains a list of updated hosted blogs .


it seems...

I am linus

Which Peanuts Character Are You Quiz


(via BarCodeKing)


noticed in my referrer logs

I'd like to shout hello and give m4d props to Bill Dennis, who has me permalinked on his site, Bill's Content. If I ever tire of the slogan "It's time for this town to get down" (and can anyone name the source?), I'll borrow his annotation for the link to this humble blog: "It's not as dirty as it sounds."


tuesday rentals

Last week was pretty L4m3 movie-wise; I didn't get around to watching four of the six videos I rented last week. So I checked 'em out again, along with two new ones:

  • Night of the Hunter

  • Record of Lodoss War Vol. 6 (dubbed)

  • Bound (redux)

  • Enter the Ninja (redux)

  • Genocyber Vols. 2&3 (redux)

  • My Neighbor Totoro (redux)

I sat down and watched the conclusion of Record of Lodoss War last night; I was really pleased with the series as a whole. I have some projects ahead of it, but I really do plan to sit down and write a few more reviews.


anna kournikova
Anna Kournikova has won a first-round singles victory at the California Bank of West Classic, defeating eighth-seeded Israeli Anna Smashnova 6-3 6-2. The win was Kournikova's first singles victory in nearly two months.

(via FARK)


clerks part 2

randal in clerks
If you've seen the movie Clerks, you may remember there's a hilarious scene where a mother with a toddler asks Randal, the ne'er-do-well video store employee, for a children's video while he's on the phone with the distributor, and he proceeds to rattle off a lengthy order for a series of porn movies with increasingly explicit titles, capping it with a request for "Happy Widdle Fluffy Bunnies" or whatever.

I was reminded of that scene by this online journal, which chronicles the experiences of a young Illinois woman who works as a clerk in a video store--specifically, her experiences with the customers of the pr0n section. It's called "True P^rn Clerk Stories," (name altered in an obvious way to avoid errant Google hits). Not safe for work or the kiddies, of course.

(via MegaTokyo)


all right!

erica pratt
Hero of the day: A 7-year-old girl was abducted from her Philadelphia home Monday night, but freed herself from the duct tape binding her and shouted for help, drawing the attention of young passersby who summoned police. She was in protective custody by 9 pm Tuesday night and reported in good shape. The child had been held in the basement of an abandoned building by two men who had demanded ransom shortly after she had been dragged kicking and screaming into a car. Police are on the lookout for two men they've identified as suspects.

Although recent high-profile abductions may have created an impression that America's 60 million children are facing an epidemic of kidnappings--and such an occurance really is a parent's nightmare--FBI statistics indicate the crime has been in decline in recent years.

Update: Young Erica Pratt and her family rejoice as they are reunited. Meanwhile, the defense has rested in the trial of a man charged with kidnapping and murdering sever-year-old Danielle van Dam.

Update 2:The two suspects identified by Philadelphia police have been arrested, with more arrests expected.

  xTuesday, July 23, 2002

hamas leader killed, but not alone

I shed no tears about the death of Salah Shehade, leader of the bloody military wing of the Hamas movement, in an Israeli airstrike. I do mourn the nine children, which included a two month old baby, who died as the Israeli rockets slammed into a Gaza City residential area.


it seems...

Click to take the quiz!
click here to find out which asian action superstar you are!

You are Bruce Lee.
you like to take charge. be an individual and leader. you have the abilities
to do mind boggling feats,

yet you are forever cursed by ur ancestors. you are as wise as the dragon and
as fierce as the tiger.

you also enjoy practicing martial arts and kicking ass!


w00t! Say yeah!

(via Destroy All Monsters forums)


permalink quasi-update

Jen of Planet Jen is on hiatus; in the meantime, guest bloggers are filling in for her.


the silver spoon factor

Eric Hallstrom of The Chilicheeze Weblog pulls an interesting quote from an article I cited in passing in an earlier post:
What kills the President is that every time Harken comes up, Democrats get to retell the story of how he made his money. And this, basically, is the story of the spectacular unfairness with which moneymaking opportunities are lavished on the politically connected. It is the story of a man who has been rewarded for repeated failures by having money shot at him through a fire hose. It is the story of a man who talks with a straight face about having "earned" a fortune of tens of millions of dollars, without having ever done an honest day's work in his life.

Hallstrom comments:
I, for one, enjoy constantly iterating Bush's "silver spoon saga." It reminds me that no matter what he may or may not say, Bush is not like us. He is a member of something slightly worse then the pure political elite (e.g., Al Gore). Bush is the result of a confluence of crony capitalism and crony politics. Will the U.S. learn that this is not the best way (although it seems to be the default way) to select qualified leaders?

As I've said in the comments, whenever a politician touts his business experience or says government should be run like a business, I hold on to my wallet with both hands.


Meanwhile, an article Hallstrom cites in the same post has this to say about the chink in Bush's much-hyped business acumen:
[the author of the New York Press article] is obviously not a Bush man, so I'm certain the story can be told in a less-damning way, but nonetheless, how many people have had a white knight ride to their rescue EVERY SINGLE TIME disaster has been impendent? How many sweetheart deals does one guy get in a lifetime? However many he needs appears to be the answer here.

With the downturn in the economy and the stockmarket racing its own ass down the toilet - spurred ever downward by revelations of egregious corporate cupidity and misuse of privileged information allowing insiders to avoid the bath in which those less fortunate have been forced to wallow - people seem a lot more sensitive to issues of fairness and privilege right about now.

Exactly. As I've said before, this isn't about a "correction" or--what was it-- that some "companies stretched the truth" (a nearly US$4 billion stretch, in WorldCom's case); it's about many real Americans seeing their nest eggs vanish at the same time their economic future come into doubt, while the privileged insiders who presided over companies that lied about their earnings cash out to the tune of millions.


double feature

As you know, I rented a batch of movies last Tuesday, as is my habit. With one thing and another, I hadn't gotten around to watching any of them until last night, when my lovely wife and I sat down and watched Local Hero, a charming comedy about a Houston oil man (Peter Rieger, who played Boon in Animal House--I knew that dude looked familiar!) dispatched to a Scottish village to buy up property for an oil refinery. (Speaking of "That dude looked familiar": The local inkeeper/negotiator is played by Denis Lawson, none other than Wedge from the Star Wars trilogy!)

record of lodoss war
Anyway, when that was done, Crystal went upstairs to sleep and I hung out to watch Episode 5 of Record of Lodoss War. I'd run out of subtitled versions of that anime at the local video store, so I had to get the dubbed version to continue the story (which I've found fairly engrossing). It was wierd watching the dubbed epsiodes after becoming familiar with how the characters talked in the subbed version. It was also different because not having to read the subtitles allowed for a lesser level of concentration on the screen. Frankly, that was good, because it was about 11:30 by the time I was done and my eyelids were starting to droop. I've had to re-watch tapes I'd taken in late at night because I realized that I'd nodded off from time to time and had little notion of what had transpired. I'm really enjoying Record of Lodoss War; now that I've watched Episode 5, I hope to rent the final tape in the series (dubbed, of course) when I do my video pilgrimage tonight. I'll renew four of the six tapes I picked up last week, so that'll be one of only two new ones.

  xMonday, July 22, 2002

red scare

NewsMax reminds us of 45 goals of the Commies from a 1961 list.

(via MetaFilter)


murtaugh on harken and the dems

Charles Murtaugh has a couple of interesting things to say about why the public (finally) cares about Harken:
So here's the beauty part for the Democrats: it doesn't matter whether or not Bush broke the law in his insider trading. The scandal here is moral, rather than legal: Bush was intimately connected with a corporate accounting scandal precisely akin to those now in the headlines, and costing tens of thousands of jobs. If the Democrats focus solely on the legalistic question of how Bush made his eight hundred large, they'll be making a Starr-esque error. It really didn't matter whether or not Clinton lied to the grand jury about his affair, the real Lewinsky scandal was that he'd been having the affair at all. The conservatives were right: character matters.

In Harken-gate, it makes little difference whether Bush broke the law by waiting thirty weeks to alert the SEC of his stock sale, instead of the required two or three (yawn... eyes... glazing... over... must... follow... the money...). What will be harder for Bush to shake off between now and 2004, particularly if the corporate accounting scandals continue to drag down the economy, is his guilt-by-close-association with a book-cooking energy company.

He also has some choice words for the Democrats about their foolish opposition to a key point of proposed Homeland Security legislation: removal of job protection for bureaucrats.


apologies on behalf of enetation

Just as I posted the last few pieces, I noticed that once again enetation's comment system is down. I'm sure some of my readers have something to say about the last post or two; I apologize, and can only urge you to return a little later.

Update; They seem to be working now, so fire away...keep it clean, kids.


interesting magazine articles

Some interesting reading on the outrage regarding ever-increasing CEO salaries, even in the cases of failing companies.

The Great CEO Pay Heist (Key quote: "The American public isn't angered by big pay. It's angered by perceived injustice.")

"This Stuff Is Wrong" (anonymous interviews with members of compensation committees)

The Amazing Stock Option Sleight of Hand (Hint: it isn't simply that executive salaries above US$1 million are taxed; it's the accounting fiction that doesn't treat options as expenses) which lefty pinko socialist rag ran these? Mother Jones? The New Republic? Try Fortune...


stocks continue plunge despite bush optimism

Today President Bush expressed confidence in the economy; Wall Street begged to differ; with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (which, mind you, is supposed to be blue-chip stocks) down 139.84 points at 7,879.42, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index 26.23 points lower at 1,292.92.

I've said before that the display of minute-by-minute stock ticker during a Presidential speech is disturbingly misleading, with which the WaPo's Howard Kurtz agrees. But the current free-fall on Wall Street--the term "crash" is begnning to appear; it's certainly not a "correction"--continues. Even if the market's plunge were due to the Democrats ginning up gloom and doom, you'd think that Mr. Wartime Popularity Bush could overcome that in a heartbeat. (Pop quiz: If the Dow spiked up after a Bush pep talk, would Republicans shirk from claiming credit...?). And he probably could, if investors had any confidence in the economic philosophy or business acumen of George Herbert Hoover Bush. Instead, the numbers speak for themselves.


i need to make this clear, apparently

Speaking of referrer logs, it seems I need to emphasize that there are no nude Cowboy Bepop pictures here, people! I don't care what Google says! Jeez!


kidnap suspect charged with murder

Alejandro Avila, who was arrested last week in connection with the kidnap and slaying of five-year-old Samantha Runnion, has been formally charged with her murder. Due to special circumstances connected with the murder, Avila could face the death penalty if convicted. Here's CNN's coverage of the decision to arrest Avila.


internet royalty decision casualty

Interent radio station KPIG has announced that it will cease its live webcast, citing a recent royalty decision by the US Copyright Office The article includes a concise summary of the situation and suggests ways listeners can offer feedback to their representatives in Congress.


squid pro quo

Australian scientists are examining the 550-pound corpse of a rare giant squid that washed up on a beach Saturday. The 60-foot-long corpse may prove to belong to a previously unknown species of the elusive beast, which has been spotted only 50 times in the last century but was known to leave calling cards in the form of huge sucker marks on whales.

Fun fact: A giant squid's high ammonia content makes the beast inedible. The ammonia-impregnated flesh is a key plot point in the Peter Benchley TV movie The Beast, which is dissected at Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension.

Update: A scientist has determined that the squid specimen's appearance is the result of damage, not an indication of a new species. The discovery of a giant squid is a rare event in any case.


where it all began

w00t! Action Comics #1, the 1938 issue featuring the origin of Superman!

(via MetaFilter)


noticed in my referrer logs

A big hello and m4d props to rowdigrl, who has me permalinked.


no surprise

WorldCom files for bankruptcy...I have a WorldCom coffee mug I got at some trade show...I ought to auction it off on eBay.

Update: According to Forbes, a shareholder lawsuit detailed much of the accounting chicanery used to disguise massive losses as a nonexistent profit more than a year ago, but a judge threw out the suit, claiming that the charges--which closely resembled a later SEC inquiry. The story also examines the political connections of the judge who dismissed the lawsuit.


stress test, sanrio style!

Are you stressed? Let Sanrio's über-kawaii (ultra-cute) mascot Hello Kitty tell you! The Hello Kitty Stress Test is a nfity little app that presents a series of clickable multiple-choice questions and determines your stress level from your answers.

(via MetaFilter)


stuff from the weekend...

Here's a quick rundown of a couple of Items I noted but never got around to posting over the weekend.

The World's Smallest Website I mentioned earlier has been surpassed--if that's the world--by an even smaller one. (via MetaFilter)

C00L! Scientists believe they have identified a gravitational "superhighway" that runs through the Solar System. If the observations pan out, spacecraft could take advantage of zones where gravity is nearly absent to travel with a much lower energy cost than currently possible. Interplanetary probes currently use the gravity of moons and planets to "slingshot" themselves forward. By contrast, calculations have revealed a complex series of pathways where gravitational forces are in almost total balance, meaning spacecraft would not have to expend enrgy to overcome those forces. NASA scientists have already used these calculations to compute an efficient flight path for its Genesis spacecraft, which collects particals of solar wind. (via MetaFilter)

Nice guys finish last--and they should, according to this (via FARK)

C00L! Having trouble telling your Harkens from your Haliburtons, your WorldComs from your Enrons? Corporate Scandal Trading Cards might be for you! (via FARK)

Susanna Cornett has returned from vacation. Welcome back, Susanna!


a pleasant weekend

The just-past weekend was sunny and hot, but still very pleasant and even somewhat restful.

Friday evening we took the girls to the YMCA. They played in the nursery while Crystal and I got to work out. Crystal's been going on a semi-regular basis, but I haven't lifted weights (other than my daughters) in at least six months, and it showed. I worked out to fail on several upper-body machines (it just came earlier than I'd have liked). I was pretty sore on Sunday and still slightly so, but that's good; it means I got a benefit from the session. After about 45 minutes on the weight machines we took the girls into the pool. Cecilia stood up in the shallow end of the big pool for the first time--she was so proud of herself! By the time they were done splashing around, it was too late to cook so we had dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant. When we got home, the girls were way tired so it was striaght to bed with them, after which Crystal and I watched a movie (Men In Black).

Saturday I meant to get a haircut, but I forgot. My hair is by no means long but I'm in dire need of a trim. Cecilia watched My Neighbor Totoro and really liked it. Along with Kiki's Delivery Service, Cecilia seems to be developing a taste for Hayao Miyazaki's excellent anime, which of course is my plan (although it'll be awhile before I lay Princess Mononoke on her--too many decapitations). After we got the kids settled, Onye came over for dinner, coffee and conversation. We spent a pleasant several hours just chatting. Unfortunately, by 11 pm or so I was really drooping despite the strong Hawaiian coffee, so after Onye departed I crashed. Crystal was not so lucky; the caffeine prevented her from sleeping until after 4 am.


Sunday morning I brought the kids downstairs so Crystal could get some sleep. I spent the day mostly with chores and looking after the girls. We made it out to our realtor's office to sign some additional paperwork on the house we're selling. We're supposed to close Friday; let's just say right now that it might not happen after all. Anyway, after that and the hardware store, Cecilia was late for her nap and massively tired but making an admirable effort to hold it together, so she got an ice cream. When we got home, she and Crystal went straight to nap while I put on the roast. After dinner and the girls' bedtime I did the week's grocery shopping; unfortunately, by the time I was home and it was all put away, I was too tired to watch a movie or anything, so I pretty much went straight to bed. I have hardly looked at any of the videos I rented last Tuesday, so I'll probably have to check 'em out again this week.

Over the weekend, I took note of a couple of items I intended to blog, but I never got around to it, being involved with chores and the kids. I'll post 'em up ASAP.