April 27, 2004

I checked the map...

from - smijer

...but I couldn't find any direction. I'm going to have to take a break from blogging for a while. I'm worn out. I need some time to recoup and get re-motivated before I start trying to write on a semi-regular basis again. So, everybody who is still checking on me and my little daily rants: I appreciate you being around. I'm sorry I have to disappear for a while, but I can't think of any better option. Y'all all take care.

Posted by smijer at 06:25 PM | Comments (12)

April 26, 2004

Blogging from the KDE

from - smijer

I'm sorry I ran out of steam on Friday. Things have been a little crazy around here lately. I've had a string of consecutive bad and/or crazy days. And then there is work. And I'm getting tired of doing politics.

desktop

Anyway, I am blogging to you today from the linux desktop environment KDE. I've stuck together a new machine consisting of a salvaged socket A motherboard and AMD 850 processor, a new hard drive, reconditioned dvd-rom and the best midtower case $20 can buy.

I've installed SuSE linux 8.2 professional which came to me at a discount from McKay's used books and cd's. I'm sharing I/O devices with the Windows computer.

I can see already that Linux is going to present an extremely steep learning curve. When I download free-ware for Windows XP, I just extract the zip file and install it. When I want to install GNU free-ware for Linux, most times I have to compile and link the source code from a command line. Ouch. I'm not very good at that. I don't know how to designate an output directory. I don't know what to do when "makefile all" produces nothing more useful than a list of errors and warnings. I don't even know where to stick new gcc or c++ library files to make them accessible to the compiler, if they are needed.

Fortunately, the SuSE Linux 8.2 package comes with enough neat stuff that can be set up with a shell command or with the YaST installer tool that I'll stay happy for a while. Since it seemed to detect and install all of my hardware satisfactorily, I'm good there. Well, I'm not sure whether the patch for the nvidia graphics card's 3-d acceleration took. Aleph One still looks pretty jerky, but I don't know what Linux free games are supposed to look like. When I ran the patch shell script, I didn't see any activity, but I didn't get any errors either. That's a lot like what happens when I don't successfully run other shell scripts. So there is a little problem with the hardware, but nothing too serious.

NetHack as installed by YaST doesn't play. It flashes a dialog box for a fraction of a second and never reappears. One or two other games crash with an error. Konquest (pre-installed with Linux) plays just fine, until you and your stepson have invested an hour and a half to reach turn #30, and when turn #30 is over, the game is reset so that you can never find out who won.

I'm not sure I'm cut out to be one of those geeks who can't stand Micro$oft. Don't get me wrong: I'm tickled to have a working Linux box. I want to figure out how to run it as a server and all that. But I probably couldn't ever replace my Windows system with Linux. I guess I just don't have "skillz" enough.

Posted by smijer at 07:32 AM | Comments (8)

April 23, 2004

Sorry

from - smijer

You know.

Posted by smijer at 03:14 PM | Comments (1)

April 22, 2004

It Must Be Thursday

from - smijer

I found this over at The Onion. Thought I'd share:

cheneybush.JPG

I'm sorry to see the recent increases in violence in the middle east. I'm sorry that our administration (apart from Colin Powell) was too blind (willingly or otherwise) to see that far ahead in their scheming.

I'm glad to see John Kerry getting out front of the military records "issue" early on (Link via Preposterous Universe.)
Sorry, Neal Boortz... Speaking of Neal - same link - it appears he is "askeert" of the draft issue we talked about yesterday. He protests that we don't need a draft because we already have plenty of minorities and poor willing to serve voluntarily. He just doesn't phrase it that way. What he does say is this:

Rangel and Hagel .. among others ... are upset that more young men and women from upper income families aren't joining the military. They're saying that these upper income families aren't carrying their share of the load. There are many different ways to carry the burden of defending America. You can do it by serving in the military, or you can do it by turning over the fruits of your labors in private sector to fund the military. While it may be true that many of the volunteers who serve in the enlisted ranks of our armed forces come from middle and lower income families, it is also true that almost the entire burden for funding the military comes from those in upper income brackets.

Only Neal Boortz (and maybe Grover Norquist) could equate the lifeblood of the soldiers in our volunteer army with a tax on the wealth leveraged by the owners of the American "free market".

I don't hear any of these leftist politicians saying that we must find a way to spread the burden of funding this war to lower and middle income Americans.

I know! I know! Let's let the lower and middle income Americans do the bulk of the labor and produce the products and services that help the higher income Americans make all of that money that they are so nobly sacrificing (less of, under Bush) to fund this war add the cost of this war to the national debt!

Posted by smijer at 07:30 AM | Comments (13)

April 21, 2004

Small Roundup

from - smijer

Chuck Hagel has stuck his neck out and started talking about re-instituting the draft. Reactions from the opinionated are somewhat varied. I cannot find the post, but Daily Kos is in favor.

Doug McDaniel (whose book about Asheville, NC is due out very soon) doesn't make his opinion clear, but urges young men... and women... to "Saddle up!" He also quotes extensively from Hagel's own words in support of a draft.

Oliver Willis says: "I believe a draft is immoral, and doubly so for this war in this situation." Ezra at pandagon disagrees.

At my age, I would feel far too hypocritical to weigh in strongly on this. I just hope that Hagel and others don't try to play the "egalitarianist card" to get the draft, and then use it only to save the Prancer's butt - revoking it as soon as Iraq is under control (or Syria, in the event of a November re-election).

That's item one of the small round-up. Item two is just a props to Jesse at pandagon, who handily disarms David Limbaugh's recent ploy to further marginalize a certain religious minority and to advance the anti-scienctific cause of the Intelligent Design Creationists. Very well done, Jesse.

Posted by smijer at 07:31 AM | Comments (9)

April 20, 2004

Rising Expectations

from - smijer

I just noticed yesterday that David Appell of Quark Soup has ended his hiatus and is back to posting daily about concerns of popular science. He plugs several articles that he has published since he began his hiatus, among which is an interview with Aubrey de Grey of Cambridge on artificial life extension technology. Let me get this out there real quick: I'm no biologist, but I don't think any serious biologist is nearly as optimistic as de Grey about the rate at which human longevity research is likely to yield practical results. I certainly am not.

I do see it as inevitable that life extension research will one day make it possible to extend human life expectancy arbitrarily. Not in my generation, and probably not my kids' generation either. I can't help but eye my future grandchildren with suspicion, though. When the technology does arrive, it will turn the world upside down.

  • The economics of longevity will (at least at first) create a gap between the "have's" and the "have-not's" the likes of which modern politics hasn't dreamt of. Essentially, while the technology remains expensive, there will be a long-lived overclass and a short-lived underclass. How humanity copes with this economic and lifespan disparity will ultimately have an enormous impact on whether the human race survives.
  • The population growth curve will become nearly vertical, putting a premium on reproduction. It is in this way that the shorter-lived class may make longer life-spans difficult for the longer-lived class. Will humanity willingly trade longer life-spans for significantly decreased reproductive rates? I think we will find the reproductive drive may be the stronger. A great moral question: having the technology for arbitrary life-extension, can we forbid its use, in order to avoid radical measures to slow the reproductive rate?
  • The premium on human life will skyrocket. Assuming the technology spreads to every social class, job vacancies in the armed forces will be increasingly difficult to fill. Police, emergency response... will guns be outlawed? All weapons? As de Grey suggests, will automobiles be outlawed?

    This may seem to be a little bit pie-in-the-sky science fiction, but there is every reason to believe that these are all questions that humans will be asking themselves in the future. At the rate that science is advancing now, it may very well be in the lifetimes of our own second or third generation progeny. It's only a matter of time at this point before biologists will be whipping up living creatures from scratch. Meantime, other biologists are busy about discovering the chemical foundations of life and aging. How long can it be before our descendents are faced with the problems of living in perpetuity? And, will they be ready by then to handle them?

    Not if someone doesn't start talking about them soon.

    Posted by smijer at 07:23 AM | Comments (3)
  • April 19, 2004

    Cheney in Town

    from - smijer

    Dick Cheney will be landing in my town shortly.

    I wonder if he will be charging double, since we can expect him to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth?

    Update: Alice (of the Hamilton County Democratic Party) in the comments mentions a Cheney protest at Miller Park. Apparently, all of the kool kids will be there, which will leave me out - I don't get to take off work for it today.

    I hope y'all make the 6:00 news!

    Posted by smijer at 02:38 PM | Comments (4)

    Bad Weekend

    from - smijer

    The vacation is over and I'll be going back to work with unmowed grass. I was half-way finished with the mowing job when I struck an immovable object with the blade of the mower. The motor (or the entire mower) will have to be replaced before I can start mowing again.

    And Ms. Buttons died, unexpectedly. We took her to the vet Saturday night. She stayed overnight there, and we were informed Sunday morning that she would not recover. She is buried now, next to Max. She was the favorite animal of my oldest stepson.

    So, I am not on-task today. Some days, I'm just dying to say something and I can't get to the New Entry page fast enough. Most days, I just struggle to think of a thing that is of interest to anyone besides myself. Today is one of those second days. The repeated apologies must ring hollow by now, but please forgive (again).

    Posted by smijer at 07:13 AM | Comments (1)

    April 18, 2004

    Weekend Update

    from - smijer

    Democratic Congresscritter Charlie Rangel endorses The Reverend and Mrs. Moon. This is a sad day for our side. Hat Tip to Atrios.

    Posted by smijer at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

    April 16, 2004

    Weekend Blogging

    from - smijer

    To make up for my short blogging week, I'm going to pull weekend duty this time. Tune in Saturday & Sunday for updates.

    Posted by smijer at 06:28 PM | Comments (2)

    Blessed Reprieve in Time For Party

    from - smijer

    Well, the PC seems to be free (for now at least) from the spyware poltergeist that was making life difficult for me.

    I won't have time to do my daily reads this morning, though. Real life is getting to be a real pain in the neck.

    Over at Newsrack, the Rocky Top Brigade Tailgate Party is in full swing. He has a neat photo montage mapped out to the featured posts. I like it. I also notice that I like his blog. I somehow never noticed it enough to figure this out before (maybe because it is siguated in the "n's" on the RTB blogroll -- I tend to work from the bottom up & top down.. Maybe I just never reach it. He seems to have a clean, no-nonsense way of putting things that I find admirable. And unlike me, he can do political discussion without being a partisan hack. Score 2.

    Posted by smijer at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)

    April 15, 2004

    Hiatus

    from - smijer

    I will be on blogging hiatus for a while until I can find a way to rescue my PC installed software and data files from the malicious spy-ware that has taken over the operating system with the assistance of an adolescent accomplice. My apologies during my absence.

    Posted by smijer at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

    Air America Crashes and Burns... And There Was Much Rejoicing

    from - smijer

    If you've browsed the right half of the blogosphere (and Drudge) today, you have heard some of the same shouts of glee over the fact that Air America is off the air in Chicago & L.A. due to a legal dispute.

    I've long thought that the dire predictions that liberal radio was destined for failure would eventually have the right-wing prophets eating crow. Now, it seems, they are all jumping out on an even thinner limb and inviting a Mark-Twainish rejoinder about the rumors of Air America's death being grossly exaggerated. Meanwhile, they are showing that they are short on humor.

    Morat, bless him, sheds a little more light on the story. "I'm not dead yet."

    P.S. I still haven't gotten a chance to hear the OFranken' Factor (yeah, all of you righties... I know it's not funny, it's got nothing on Rush and Sean, and really is just destined to fail... I just want to see for myself, huh?) Here it is Thursday & I haven't taken the time out of my schedule to tune it in yet. Maybe today will be the day.

    Posted by smijer at 10:32 AM | Comments (3)

    April 14, 2004

    Whoever Will Do

    from - smijer

    Sorry to revisit last night's entry, but I just can't get over the fact that the President of the United States and Conqueror of Iraq knows for sure he is handing over "sovereignty" on June 30th, ... but he's still scavenging around for a friendly face who wants to take the keys.

    It's not just that this is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. It's that he can stand there with his face hanging out and tell it to the world, nonchalantly, as though he can't imagine a thing in the world wrong with it. "It's okaaaaay... Just chill. Somebody will turn up."

    And,... I'll wake up tomorrow morning and his favorability ratings will be close to unchanged. It's as though none of us even know the difference.

    Posted by smijer at 11:22 PM | Comments (3)

    None of the Above, But...

    from - smijer

    Anarchist, Socialist, Libertarian. About the only thing these three "isms" have in common (at least according to common perceptions) is that they trend radical. It might be said that Noam Chomsky could well answer to all three.*
    Even though I am neither anarchist, nor (strictly speaking) libertarian, nor socialist - all three are rooted (as are democratism, liberalism, conservatism, and most all other "isms") in core human values. Moreover, all three contain ideas that influence my own views and politics.
    Chomsky is also a philosopher and a linguist (at MIT - I suppose this would be something like trying to do high energy physics at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts). This adds a lofty element to his political writing that is, by turns, off-putting and endearing. He is, no doubt, an idealogue, which makes his various theses more compelling on the one hand, and hard for the realist to take hold of, on the other.

    And now, he is a weblogger. I've just discovered Turning the Tide, which has apparently been on-line since March 24, 2004. I recommend you take a few moments to be offended or amused at Chomsky's unique and ... challenging views.

    In another blogroll update, I have added Arthur Silber's Light of Reason page. You will note that I included him with the conservative/libertarian group despite the fact that he is decidedly unfavorable to the current "conservative" administration. His "about" page lists him as one of Ayn Rand's objectivists. It is on this basis that I add him to the conservative group. His views are far closer to my own than any of the others conservative bloggers, though. Without a doubt, Silber is strongly opposed to the intervention in Iraq.

    *Some accuse Chomsky of "anti-Americanism" to boot, though charges of anti-Americanism ring hollow to me. The label "anti-American" makes about as much sense to me as being "anti-George". The various Georges in this world do not have enough in common that one can consistently be against all of them. And, the various American personalities, views, values, and actions have similarly little in common between them to consistently hate them all. Usually, when a person is accused of being anti-American, it is because they oppose some actions or policies of the American government that are approved of by the person making the accusation.

    Posted by smijer at 10:30 AM | Comments (1)

    I'll Sleep Better Tonight Knowing

    from - smijer

    pressconf.jpg
    Won't you?


    QUESTION: Mr. President, why are you and the vice president insisting on appearing together before the 9-11 commission? And, Mr. President, who will we be handing the Iraqi government over to on June 30th?

    President Bush: We'll find that out soon. That's what Mr. Brahimi is doing. He's figuring out the nature of the entity we'll be handing sovereignty over.

    "We're going to stay the course. We aren't going to let these... these terrah people dispersuade us from our goal of turning over power to those in Iraq whom we are determined to turn power over to, very specifically by the specific date of June 30th, on which we are firm. We have very firm plans to turn over power by June 30th and it is important that we turn over sovereignty by that date, specifically. What? To whom? We're ah... looking in to that. Next question..."
    And, secondly, because the 9-11 commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting. And I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions.

    QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) I was asking why you're appearing together, rather than separately, which was their request.

    President Bush: Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9-11 commission is looking forward to asking us. And I'm looking forward to answering them.

    "And that's why Dick and I will be together. You hear me the first time? Well it's questions, for ahhh both of us. And since they are questions, we can do them all extempor.., ah cooperationally."

    Of course, I know he's just being modest. He wants them to appear together so they can fact check each other.. So if Bush let's slip with, "I put Dick in charge of a commmission charged with...", Cheney can jump right in and remind everybody that the commission never actually, technically, met...

    Posted by smijer at 04:53 AM | Comments (0)

    April 13, 2004

    But at Least Justice Covered Her Tits

    from - smijer

    Can't say I'm fond of John Ashcroft, but this report may make him generally unpopular.

    "After two such briefings, the attorney general told him he did not want to hear this information anymore," the report quoted Pickard as saying.

    To be fair, Ashcroft's aides are on record as denying he said such a thing. It will be interesting to see whether he denies it himself. What cannot be denied is that he turned down the additional counterterrorism funds and additional counterterrorism agents that the FBI asked for. Reckon the war on tits will receive its fair share of attention?

    (Edit: Forgot the old hat tip to Morat at Skeptical Notion for the more recent Baltimore Sun blurb on the administration's porn-priorities.)

    Update: Ha... amazing coincidence... it appears I may have just stumbled on the real reason for the Iraq war.

    Posted by smijer at 04:28 PM | Comments (3)

    Tuesday Morning Late: Vacation!

    from - smijer

    Update: Those of you who found this page looking for info on Senators and Congressmen's pension plans, may wish to see here. Tim in the comments had posted an (incorrect) recollection that this group received lifetime pensions at their working salary. Most likely, if you are searching Google for info on Congressperson's salaries, you received the chain letter regarding them that is debunked at the above entry from Snopes. Other chain letter propaganda is responded to at my sister-site: The Chain Letter Project. (End of Update)

    I slept in this morning. I spent the first day of my vacation recovering from a trip to the dentist. Now I am beginning the real deal. Getting away from work is great. Now that I have been at my job for over five years, I get three weeks vacation per year. What? No, not 250 days in three years (about 83 days per year). Just three weeks. To be fair, though, I don't make as much money as he does, either. And, if I make a mistake, I have to answer to someone for it. I'm just sayin'.

    So, I won't be posting at regular intervals this week. And I may slip away for a day (or even two?!) at Fall Creek Falls or some other outdoor destination, if the weather clears and I can get interest up among enough family members. And I'm going to try to enjoy myself, even if I don't get 250 days off.

    Update: Could it be coincidence? Doug McDaniel has another angle on the Presidential Vacation.

    Posted by smijer at 08:56 AM | Comments (3)

    April 11, 2004

    Monday's Entry

    from - smijer

    Monday, I will be under sedation as I take my sissy posterior to the dentist for one extraction, one root canal, build up and crown, several fillings and a root debridement therapy on what amounts to one quarter of my mouth. For this reason, I do not expect to be able to make a coherent post again until Tuesday.

    Just a note or two before I go. I have added Kevin Drum's blog back to my blogroll. I de-linked him from convenience when he got on the Washington Monthly's payroll. My goal at the time was to get the number of blogs in my blogroll down to a very manageable number. Now, I am re-thinking that theory. I would like to make the blog-roll presentable and easily browseable, but I don't want to leave out top-notch regular reads to do it. So I will keep thinking through my options.

    Speaking of Kevin Drum, the Political Animal, I want to recommend this post of his. It is a very brief critique of the Bush administration's efforts to avoid letting the nation stay united in the "war on terror(ists)" after the 9/11 attacks, and their efforts to avoid earning good will from many Americans and the world in the build-up to the Iraq invasion. It certainly is a good blueprint for how a President can be a "divider, not a uniter" even in the face of unprecedented American willingness to be united.

    I'll grant the Bush apologists (who are at a loss to explain the mass defection of Democrats from the unity of government that Bush's able leadership so ably provides) this much: even if Bush had taken the given advice on how to unite Americans and the world behind his aggression against Iraq, I would have remained part of the divided group. In fact, the war in Iraq (more than anything else Kevin discusses), is what caused me to relinquish the support I had for Bush, during the campaign in Afghanistan. In fact, I believe that Bush's dirty little war was the wedge that, more than anything else, destroyed the unity that existed for those brief few months after the 9/11 attacks.

    That's all, until Tuesday. I hope you'll ignore the continued messiness of my left-column blog-roll and use it to your best advantage while I am absent.

    Posted by smijer at 10:14 PM | Comments (2)

    April 09, 2004

    Stealing My Thunder

    from - smijer

    I notice that Jesse at Pandagon has mercilessly deconstructed the latest spin from Neal's Nuze. Thanks for putting me out of work, pal.

    Posted by smijer at 04:05 PM | Comments (3)

    Testimonium Condaleezum

    from - smijer

    condi.jpgActual Latin enthusiasts, please excuse my post title. To everybody else, I figured this one was better than "Testimionium Condum" by a long shot.... heh...
    I don't like to say "I expected..." unless I can point to a blog entry in my archives that supports the claim. Post hoc "expectations" are very tiresome to me. I'm making an exception in this case, because I really did not expect Condi to stick her neck out much during testimony. I figured she would speak in generalities as much as possible, and would not take the bait on tough questions unless the examiners pushed her into a corner: something they may not have been willing to do (or in the case of Bob Kerrey, not able to). I think that's fine. So long as she isn't perjuring herself, I don't have a problem with her going out and giving the commission the information it needs in a way that covers the administration politically. After all, she is part of the administration.

    I'm hearing a lot from my brethren on the left suggesting that she was not honest enough. So I asked myself some questions (and tried to form an opinion about the answers to them, too).

    Did her testimony largely consist of partisan spin in an attempt to defend the president? Sure, it did.

    Did her testimony undo much of the damage of the Clarke testimony? I agree with kos when he says, "not really, it did not."

    Was it perjury?

    No, I don't buy that. I have chastised everyone from Bill Frist to Neal Boortz at times in the past, because they accused Clarke (or some other Bush critic) of lying while under oath. I say such accusations are entirely hollow, unless they are at least going to have the guts to file charges of perjury and see what a court of law decides on the issue. I am not confident enough that Condi "lied" that I would consider it safe to bring a charge of perjury against her, so I won't claim that she lied - at least while under oath. I understand that she said a lot of things to reporters that are questionable, too - and that's a separate question. I hope that other lefties will join me in leaving the "lying" accusation alone, at least until someone is willing to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. Anyway, why bother? Her testimony favored Bush, but it's not a big enough shield to protect him from all of the critcism that he has received and will receive. David's sling can still find many an unprotected target on him, without having to move her out of the way.

    Posted by smijer at 07:53 AM | Comments (11)

    April 08, 2004

    My Solution

    from - smijer

    Drum roll, please...

    Put Alan Colmes on Air America, and make it Hannity & Franken!

    Where do I collect my finders fee?

    (hat tip to Oliver Willis)

    Posted by smijer at 05:37 PM | Comments (6)

    April 07, 2004

    I'm going to leave this at the top of the page for a while

    from - smijer

    Oh my name it is nothin'
    My age it means less
    The country I come from
    Is called the Midwest
    I's taught and brought up there
    The laws to abide
    And that land that I live in
    Has God on its side.

    Oh the history books tell it
    They tell it so well
    The cavalries charged
    The Indians fell
    The cavalries charged
    The Indians died
    Oh the country was young
    With God on its side.

    Oh the Spanish-American
    War had its day
    And the Civil War too
    Was soon laid away
    And the names of the heroes
    I's made to memorize
    With guns in their hands
    And God on their side.

    Oh the First World War, boys
    It closed out its fate
    The reason for fighting
    I never got straight
    But I learned to accept it
    Accept it with pride
    For you don't count the dead
    When God's on your side.

    When the Second World War
    Came to an end
    We forgave the Germans
    And we were friends
    Though they murdered six million
    In the ovens they fried
    The Germans now too
    Have God on their side.

    I've learned to hate Russians
    All through my whole life
    If another war starts
    It's them we must fight
    To hate them and fear them
    To run and to hide
    And accept it all bravely
    With God on my side.

    But now we got weapons
    Of the chemical dust
    If fire them we're forced to
    Then fire them we must
    One push of the button
    And a shot the world wide
    And you never ask questions
    When God's on your side.

    In a many dark hour
    I've been thinkin' about this
    That Jesus Christ
    Was betrayed by a kiss
    But I can't think for you
    You'll have to decide
    Whether Judas Iscariot
    Had God on his side.

    So now as I'm leavin'
    I'm weary as Hell
    The confusion I'm feelin'
    Ain't no tongue can tell
    The words fill my head
    And fall to the floor
    If God's on our side
    He'll stop the next war.

    Bob Dylan, With God On Our Side

    Posted by smijer at 08:54 PM | Comments (4)

    We Interrrupt this Hiatus to Bring you This Message:

    from - smijer

    Do Not Try This At Home

    Posted by smijer at 02:39 PM | Comments (1)

    I'm Sorry

    from - smijer

    Smijer is out of commission for a day, maybe two. The real world strikes again.

    Posted by smijer at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)

    April 06, 2004

    Heh

    from - smijer

    Maybe they were just pulling our legs. I'm going to duck now.

    Posted by smijer at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

    Blogosphere Scavenger Hunt

    from - smijer

    See how long you have to roam the blogosphere to find out who made this statement:

    Let us rid ourselves of the fiction that low oil prices are somehow good for the United States.

    First one to identify the speaker gets a brand new whatzit. Extra points for a link to a blog entry quoting this statement.

    More extra points if its one the Blogs for Bush blogs that quotes the passage and cites its author.

    Posted by smijer at 02:42 PM | Comments (3)

    Hope for Hubble

    from - smijer

    Such as it is... I'll take a slim hope over none at all, though...

    Posted by smijer at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

    Fishing is so 20th Century

    from - smijer

    I have an interesting update from yesterday's introduction of the Armstrong Files to the blogosphere. It turns out that this is going to be a father/son project, using one Movable Type installation to run two blogs... So, visit NeoDave's Entertainment Palace, and give NeoDave a nice welcome, too.

    Posted by smijer at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

    Back To Boortz

    from - smijer

    I've been toying with the notion lately of leaving Neal Boortz to his own devices. It gets tedious reading his Nuze page, and putting together a rebuttal. Part of the reason for that is that so few of his "Nuze" items are items of substance. He very rarely makes empirical claims that can be fact-checked (as he did on unemployment, for instance). Too often, he's just having day-dreams about Hillary running for President, the U.N. charging a tax on e-mail and other non-sense. It's difficult to sigh and sadly shake one's head in a way that is visible to internet readers. That's the only response that makes sense when he starts many of his rants.

    However, I don't know of anyone else out there routinely responding to Boortz, so I am going to try to address something he talks about at least once a week. And here's what we have this week:

    On Monday's Nuze page, Neal has chosen to talk about Markos Zuniga, aka Kos of daiy Kos fame. I've long had a link to the daily Kos in my "liberal" links page, because Markos is an extremely well-informed individual, who often has unique perspectives and insights on political things, shares my view of the war in Iraq, and helps me keep track of important races and how the polls are going in them.

    Last week, Markos made a statement that is very controversial. I am copying it from the Boortz page, because Markos removed that comment from his site nearly immediately when a fire-storm of controversy erupted, and replaced it with an elaboration on his sentiment. Here is the comment in its original form, as quoted by Boortz:

    Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly.

    That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

    Just so we are clear, the people Kos refers to as "mercenaries" were not U.S. military. The media billed them as "civilians", who were - at least offically - providing security to a food convoy. It is without a doubt that they were working for a private security company employed in Iraq. If that is the case, then the term "mercenary" in its modern usage may or may not apply to them.

    Boortz is up in arms about what Kos said. Frankly, I agree with Boortz for the most part. Don't get me wrong. I agree with Kos in being angry about private security and/or mercenary presence in Iraq. These men were not there to fight for their country. Instead, they were there on a voluntary for-profit mission. They were making several times what army regular make for the same job, and muddling the line between military and civilians in a way that may make life more dangerous for everyone in Iraq - our military, our civilians, and the Iraqi people. (See the Body & Soul write-up) But even so, I would never be callous in that way toward those men and their families after last weeks happenings, the way Kos was.

    My beef with Boortz is two-fold... continue reading to hear about it.

    1) Boortz doesn't tell the whole story. He repeats the official story that the men were escorting a food convoy, without any responsible hedging on the status of that story. He then attempts to lead listeners into the realm of pure speculation with the deduction that it was a "humanitarian mission". That's uncalled for, since a food convoy can go to just about anybody, and there is no evidence that this one was going to refugees or people in need. Most importantly, though, Boortz doesn't mention Markos Zuniga's side of the story. Usually, I don't mind leaving it up to both sides to tell their own side of the story, but there is a difference in this case. The dogpile is on Markos for his remarks, and he's left alone to explain that he spent large chunks of his childhood in a combat zone and has personal reasons for anger and resentment toward private foreign "security". His reaction is not, as Boortz wants you to believe, a "liberal" reaction - it's a personal reaction... and that makes a world of difference.

    2) Boortz engages in his usual 'guilt by association' tactic. Yes, Kos is friendly with some Democratic Party big-wigs. Yes, his blog is extremely popular on our side (and is likely to remain so -- most of us are not going to de-link him because he made an illegitimate and thoughtless statement out of legitimate anger)... but none of that makes him our official spokesperson. Kos isn't running for office. He isn't our party chair. He is friends with our party chair. And guilt by association is still a logical fallacy.

    Until he quits having valuable insights, quits opposing the unjust war of aggression in Iraq, quits having inside information on poll numbers and congressional and sentate race lineups, I will contine to read him often and keep that link right where it is in my own blog-roll. Self-rigtheous Neal Boortz can get over it.

    Posted by smijer at 08:01 AM | Comments (6)

    April 05, 2004

    Maybe We Should Call Him 'Mule'

    from - smijer

    We ought to just call him George "No Matter What" Bush.

    Posted by smijer at 06:42 PM | Comments (2)

    Happy Birthday

    from - smijer

    Today, the Armstrong Files are one day old. All I can say is that Armstrong really hit the ground running. He may be a little bit behind the curve on customization, but he wanted to start getting content out first and worry about the layout and look as he went along. Anyway, he has three great posts in less than 24 hours, so it looks like good things to come. Give the man some traffic. Don't hold his Atlanta Braves fixation against him. We all have our foibles.

    P.S. It's to the dentist and then to work for me today. This one will definitely have to be a "lite" one. I suggest you follow Pharyngula's lead and entertain yourself by watching Drosophila prize-fighting.

    P.P.S. Props to Tech basketball team, fans, faculty, alumni, and students on making it to the finals. I hope you'll take home the big prize.

    Posted by smijer at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)

    April 02, 2004

    Weekend

    from - smijer

    I was hoping to knock out one more post before the weekend off, but I've run out of energy and time, so I'm going go ahead and start the weekend. I'll be back Monday morning, as always.

    Hey, while you're browsing blogs whose author has a stronger work ethic, listen to this classic episode of the Whad'ya Know program, with Feldman interviewing Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

    P.S. If you've heard any jokes lately, and you think they are funny, feel free to use this as sort of an "open thread for jokes". Just add a joke or two in the comments.

    Posted by smijer at 06:00 PM | Comments (4)

    Another "Scoop"

    from - smijer

    I haven't seen Atrios & the others who are always quickest on the draw post on this yet*, so here's just a quick link to what looks for all the world like the Bush people stonewalling on Clinton documents. It's hard to say if Scotty McClellan's "sensitive" and "will be disclosed in other ways" excuse is just spin, or if it is a legitimate explanation. Given Bush's history of stonewalling and obstructing the 9/11 commission, it's easy to just assume the worst.

    *Aw shoot -- I didn't check Kos, looks like I wasn't quickest on the draw, after all.

    Posted by smijer at 07:20 AM | Comments (1)

    April 01, 2004

    More Blasted Radio

    from - smijer

    Ok, ok... this isn't supposed to be a radio blog. I know this is three posts in 24 hours about the same subject. I promise to shut up about it after now.

    That said, I am currently listening via streaming audio to The Morning Press by recommendation. I've got to give them credit: they're interesting guys. They even have a web-page which - if not a blog - is very blog-like. The only problem - and it is a big one: no permalinks!. So I've blog-rolled them (left column, under "Local Interest") and here's hoping that their web team will give some attention to the permalink problem.

    And there you have it. Keep up the good work, Jeff, Jim & Kevin.

    Posted by smijer at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

    Ah heck

    from - smijer

    I don't have much to say about it, but it wouldn't be right for me to give up what may be my only chance ever to scoop* the Panda's Thumb evolution blog. This isn't something those guys didn't already know about, but it's just now hitting Science journal and found its way into the press somewhat, and it's an interesting insight into the answer to that age-old creationist question: "what good half an arm?" And, here it is.

    This is just the latest of a number of transitional forms linking ancient fish and primitive amphibian tetrapods, each of which throws a light on a different facet of the history of tetrapod evolution.

    *Update: I'm assuming the Panda's Thumb is operating on Pacific Time. Their post on this was posted at 8:45 P.M. I promise it wasn't there yet when I posted this at 10:08 P.M. Eastern last night.. On the other hand, it is echoed from pharyngula which shows a post time of 10:37p.m. and I'm pretty darn sure PZ is on central time. My answer is that PZ started his post before I completed mine. I'm still calling myself as having scooped them.

    Posted by smijer at 10:08 PM | Comments (1)

    Support Public Radio

    from - smijer

    The local public radio station I listen to is WUTC 88.1, hosted by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. They are a staple for me. The radio in my pickup truck (no, there's no rebel flag) stays tuned to them - not because they are "liberal" - but because they cover news in depth, they cover the news you cannot find anywhere else, and their weekend entertainment programs are top notch. I listen, so I try to support them. Now is their spring pledge drive, and even though things are tight, I will be giving them what I can afford (pending Mrs. Smijer's kind approval). If you live in the area, please support them. Or support your own local public radio station. They are a national treasure. If you don't believe me, just tune into the entertainment syndicated from NPR:
    A Prairie Home Companion
    Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?
    Car Talk
    Mountain Stage
    Or the news and commentary:
    Morning Edition
    All Things Considered
    This American Life
    Fresh Air (with Terry Gross)

    Of course you will want to listen in to the excellent local programming, too. You're guaranteed not to be left with vapid and shallow news coverage doled out to the tune of the pop charts' flavor of the week.

    Listen, enjoy, and support your local public radio station.

    Posted by smijer at 09:24 PM | Comments (3)

    TailGate Party

    from - smijer

    I let this one slip past me, but Barry has the Tailgate Party over at his place.

    Have a look.

    Posted by smijer at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Air America

    from - smijer

    Air America only streams via Real Player, which does not work for streams on my Windows XP box*. I am listening on Portland's KPOJ. They are replaying the Randi Rhodes show from last night, and I honestly cannot stand to hear her voice. So far, I'm not thrilled... but I do hear, second hand, that she cut off Ralph Nader's cajones & handed them to him nicely. (Update - nope, she just shouted him down. I would have hung up on her, too) I guess I will have to wait until I have a vacation from work to hear the O'Franken Factor... or any of the other shows, either. The fun thing is that they lead into the Rhodes show from the commercial break with the Howard Dean "Yeaaaagh!" Maybe they could keep that, drop Randi, and give the show to somebody with a little more finesse.

    Anyway, the big news today is that Bush has apologized for the Iraq war, explaining that he buckled to the pressure from Cheney and Wolfowitz. He promises that there will be some real changes in the Defense department, and the he will never again let the radicals hijack the oval office.

    *Does anyone know why saving content from the internet, be it a temporary file for a .rm media stream, or be it a picture file, might be problematic? For instance, if I right-click an image to "Save Picture As...", it strips the file extension, and allows me only to save as a .bmp file... This seems to have only come about before an installation (and subsequent uninstallation) of Netscape a few months ago. Irritating as heck.

    Posted by smijer at 07:28 AM | Comments (4)