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Radically Inept
Saturday, May 01, 2004
  A diary entry, or how to make a short story really, really long

Well, The Wife [ : ) ] is sleeping. After three weeks of working overtime daily, she's decided she deserves a rest. And I whole heartedly agree. So, I have some time to post afterall, and I thought today's events might interest some. Besides, the news is pretty dismal, and most blogs have covered it. Hopefully, you'll like the change in topics.

Woke up late this morning, so I didn't get to do my usual Saturday errands. On a normal Saturday I gather and sort all the recycles, and take them to the Dekalb Farmers Market. They get all our office paper, phonebooks, cans, office paper, junk mail, corrugated cardboard (no pressed cardboard) and our number 1 and number 2 recyclable plastics (mostly milk jugs and plastic coke bottles). I have friends who say they don't recycle 'cause the county doesn't provide the service. I figure, I'm going to the Farmers' Market anyway, cause they have an excellent selection of fresh foods, and a whole lot of ethnic fare. Plus, they carry a good selection of organics, and I just plain don't like the idea of hormones and genetically modified foods. Yeah, Yeah, I know. They say there safe, but they said that about lead in gas, asbestos, and 40 rads/per x-ray. So, I don't really give their claims of safety much credibility. If I have to ingest poisons, I think I'd at least like them to be naturally occurring so my body might have a chance in the fight. I'll have to make the run tomorrow.

Oh, I do the regular canned goods, toothpaste and stuff mostly at Publix, because Publix is where I take my plastic bags and 'egg carton' type styrofoam recyclings. Besides, as many of you know, The Wife and I have been on the quest for Free Range Chicken, and Pasture Raised Beef, and other 'organic' meat products, and it turns out that Publix carries those products and even pork! So, we've decided to pay the premium to feel a little better about how our food is treated while its alive. We have no desire to become vegetarians, that's sort of saying only mobile food stocks deserve protecting, and besides, as I've stated previously, something has to die for me to live. That's just the way of our existence.

So, I now that I've told you what I didn't do today, I'll finally get around to today's events. First thing was I checked our emails, and found a couple from a really great guy who lives in Australia, by the name of Brian Taylor. I'm going to go ahead and use his real name, 'cause I figure there's more than one or two Brian Taylors living on the continent of Australia. If he is the only one, well, damn, I apologize Brian. Anyway, he sent me a couple of just great audio files that he had taken from old LPs and put to digital. One is "Heart Full of Soul" by the Yardbirds and recorded to CD from a 1966, and the other is Jazz Guitarists - Charlie Byrd, Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis from a track recorded from a mid 80s
LP titled "Great Guitars at the Winery". Absolutely awesome stuff. Both recordings are just crisp and clear, and I'll confess I'm looking to find a copy of "Great Guitars at the Winery", and as it turns out, they made a few others, and I think I'll try to collect them all. So, that's a great start to the morning in my opinion. In fact, I think I'll listen to some now.

So, I wound up dealing with the dogs and be largely unproductive until I woke The Wife up at 11am. We were actually able to get out of the house and on the road on time. I should probably mark the date on the calendar in red.

Well, we made great time to Macon 'cause she fell asleep, and I was able to manage 80-90mph most of the way there, except for one slow down. And that was the result of rubber neckers. Geez, they're just hoping to see carnage, and I'm trying to get where I'm going. Bastards. Well, it was raining almost the whole way, but it wasn't to heavy. And when we got there, the rain had stopped. And it turned out to be a great day for an outdoor wedding. The service was in a cute little fenced in garden area, with an 'Efficient' conducting the service. I have absolutely no idea what an 'Efficient' is, but the service was christian.

After the service, they had food set up in a little bohica type thing, next to a cute little pond.

Oh, quicknote on the wild life and other features. The minnows were actually leaping out of the water to feed. I'd never seen minnows do that. Also, we spotted about 8 or 9 turtles in the water. There were lots of birds, and I even found an whole egg next to some shells below a tree. About an inch long or so, and I figured the sibling kicked the competition out of the nest. Ah, nature is a tough master. And The Wife saw her first red-tailed squirrel. We only have greys up here. The were some other points of interest: next to the pond was a huge plague (like serious sized gravestone) dedicated to workers who died from injuries and diseases resulting from the work place dedicated by the AFL-CIO. Then, also close to the pond, was a fairly large bell. No explanation, but it was cracked on one side, and the other was embossed with USN. It had a wonderful tone (I reached underneath and grabbed the clacker and hit it against the side lightly, and it resonated for a pretty good spell). There was also an old coal fed steam locomotive in one corner of the park. It was the 509, and dedicated to the fireman who'd made the last run. I think it was in the 80s, but wish I'd have tried to remember the tidbit.

So the food was good, the bride looked wonderful, and we weren't invited to the beer party later. Turns out, the park was an alcohol free zone, and the kids planned to party later. Our son informed us we had intentionally been omitted from that invitation list because the kids didn't want to compete with professionals.

Anyway, moving on, the ride back to Atlanta was pretty uneventful, but there was more traffic from all the snowbirds heading North. Florida must lose 25% of its population this at time every year. The Wife slept again, so I was able to maintain 80-85mph most of the way. And, there was one more rubber necker slow down. Bastards.

Got home, and I took off for the Saturday beer run, which I usually combine with my Saturday errands. Got to the Toco Giant, which is oddly enough enough, located in the Toco Hills Shopping Center on N. Druid Hills Rd. More oddly, is the neighborhood it's located in. Back in about '97, one of the intersections (Clairemont Rd and N. Druid Hills Road) was rated as the center of the highest population of advanced degrees in the country. Which sort of makes sense as it is close to Emory University, Emory Hospital, the DeKalb Medical Center, the VA hospital, and the largest populaton of Orthidox jews in Atlanta (which I figure must mean the largest population of Orthidox jews in the South). again, this is interesting, because they live in a neighborhood with street names like 'Holly", Merry, Christmas. Go figure. Than add in the fact that somebody named a major road 'Druid'. And the big Jewish country club is called "Druid Hills Country Club. Well, maybe it wasn't originally jewish, and I'm not gooing to take the time to do the research right now.

So, what does any of this have to do with a beer run, you are impatienly asking? Well, when I pulled in, there was a huge used book tent sale getting ready to start, and people were camped out!!! The buddy at the Giant said they had started getting there at 11:30, and set up lawn chairs and sat through the rains for a use book sale that costs $10 dollars to get into! Now that's a cool neighborhood. In most places they do this for concert tickets, here they do it for a used book sale.

Well, The Wife is up, and we're heading out for cheese dip at the local mex place, Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant. They don't know us there ; )

Big night out.

As usual, reserve the right to come back and correct any and everything. 
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Friday, April 30, 2004
  It's going to be, probably, a no post weekend

Got a wedding to go to in Macon tomorrow. In a park. Truly, not traditional, and some really great people.

And the Wife may have her first day off in three weeks on Sunday (she even worked her birthday), so if she's off, I think I'd rather spend some time with her than blog.

Yeah, I know, it might not be the kind of decision ya'll would like, but I think she's worth it. On the otherhand, I aint planning to wake her up on Sunday, not after three solid weeks of overtime on night shift, so I may put put a in short post on Sunday morning, but I wouldn't count on it. Something about priorities comes to mind. 
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  AP Wire | 04/29/2004 | More Agents Track Castro Than Bin Laden Via MaxSpeak, You Listen! comes a link to: AP Wire | 04/29/2004 | More Agents Track Castro Than Bin Laden:
"The Treasury Department agency entrusted with blocking the financial resources of terrorists has assigned five times as many agents to investigate Cuban embargo violations as it has to track Osama bin Laden's and Saddam Hussein's money, documents show.

In addition, the Office of Foreign Assets Control said that between 1990 and 2003 it opened just 93 enforcement investigations related to terrorism. Since 1994 it has collected just $9,425 in fines for terrorism financing violations.

In contrast, OFAC opened 10,683 enforcement investigations since 1990 for possible violations of the long-standing economic embargo against Fidel Castro's regime, and collected more than $8 million in fines since 1994, mostly from people who sent money to, did business with or traveled to Cuba without permission."
Yeah, and last I checked, they still hadn't froze the assets of bin Laden's Yemen bank. 
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  A self proclaimed centrist blog

I have now finally followed the trail to the current blog Paul Helgesen is keeping: CenterPoint - A Centrist Weblog. Now you may ask why this is a big deal. Well, it's probably not, but one of his sites has a link to Radically Inept, and I always want to see who's linked to me, and why if possible. But when I hit the link at the blog ecosphere at The Truth Laid Bear: The Blogosphere Ecosystem, I wind up at a blog that hasn't been updated since June of last year. Though the link to Radically Inept is there.

So, I follow the links at the top of the page to his alternate web sites, and those have not been updated in several months either. Well today, I finally followed the trail to his current web site, updated 27 April of this year. It seems pretty interesting. I like his bio. So with that, coupled with a sense of reciprocity, I've added him to the links here.

By the way, I think of myself as a Centrist as well. Though it is the result of being so extreme on a host of issues, that in every test I take, usually I wind up about a point from center. I think that happens when you're pro-choice, support euthanasia, but support the death penalty in limited cases (no, I don't think it's a deterrent, I just feel it's a 100% effective in combating recidivism). When you're pro decriminalizing all drugs and letting people make decisions for themselves, but also support factoring in environmental externalities into production costs. Or being anti-war, but pro military. It's a real mixed bag, and you wind up in the center.

Anyway, go ahead and visit CenterPoint - A Centrist Weblog, and check it out for yourself.

Note: I've also noticed that the The Truth Laid Bear: The Blogosphere Ecosystem does not pick up all links. I know of at least three for examples of this. Still, it is the best yard stick available to bloggers for measuring their 'broadcast' ratings. And just like Arbitron, it's not a 100%, but it's the best game in town. 
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  Torture in Iraq

Alright, I've run across references to this article, Guardian Unlimited | US military in torture scandal, at several blogs. I'm just going to link to Atrios' post at Eschaton:
"Truth

I'm not one who puts the UK press on a pedestal - I've lived abroad enough to know that it too occasionally has an on-again off-again relationship with the truth. But, it is pretty sad that we have to turn to the Guardian to learn a key detail about the prison torture story:
A military report into the Abu Ghraib case - parts of which were made available to the Guardian - makes it clear that private contractors were supervising interrogations in the prison, which was notorious for torture and executions under Saddam Hussein.

One civilian contractor was accused of raping a young, male prisoner but has not been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him.
So, there you go. We hire people to oversee our security and interrogation operations, and they're completely outside the law.

Rape rooms indeed."
Now, I'm going to say this, and probably catch a little hell for it, but cest la vie.

What did anyone expect? We are at war, inspite of the 'Mission Accomplished' banner, we are at war. And we've gotten ourselves in the dirtiest kind of war: fighting guerrillas on their home turf. And guess what people? Their are no rules in war. Oh, we say there are, and we pretend there are, but there aren't. You can't win a war fighting under the Marquis of Queensbury rules of engagement. And, importantly, we never have. The idea that America has ever fought a war following all of the treaties we've signed is a self propagated myth. Even during WWII, the one most people think we fought by the rules, we broke countless in its prosecution. An easy group to point to is the Bombing of Dresden in World War II, and the nuking of Japan. We targeted civilians. It was against the 'rules'. We also violated many of the rules during Vietnam, including the Napalming campaigns.

But the point is, there really are no rules in war, and you foolish if you expect any army to follow rules and win. Is torture of prisoners a violation of the rules? Yes. But we do it. War is a filthy, dirty business, and Americans have watched too many movies that make it out to be some glorious hero fest of white hat Americans beating black hat 'anybody else's'. And, since we most often win, we write the history books the way we want to. And, we sure don't bother to read anybody else's account of them. Besides, it is as Jack said in a 'Few Good Men', "You Can't Handle the Truth!" Right before Tom Cruise gets to do his part to propagate the myth. It's not true. But it is true that most Americans can't handle the truth, and are more than happy to let the media present a rose colored view of the war. We don't want to know, we'd rather live with our myths.

I expect to hear a lot about this over the next few days, possibly weeks, with lots of hand wringing by the press, but then it will disappear off the radar screen of the public, because they don't want to know. and, they certainly will resent being reminded of it over and over.

When I was younger, I had a few dealings with a Hap Kido (sp) martial arts school. And I remember one of my friends relating the story to me about how one day he asked the sensi (sp), 'what defined the Hap Kido (sp)? And, how was it different from other forms of Hap Kido?' The Sensi (sp) replied, "You see that rock over there? If you pick up that rock, and bash someone's head in with it, that is Hap Kido. Anything you do in a fight that allows you to defeat your opponent is Hap Kido."

Well, anything you do that helps you defeat an opponent is the essense of war. However, Sun Tzu said it best a few thousand years ago, paraphrasing here, 'the greatest generals are not famous for winning great battles. In fact, they are likely not to be famous at all, for they win wars without fighting.' And, if we really had any great leadership in this administration, we could have (and were) defeating Saddam Hussein without having to fight battles. This administration decided it wanted to do battle, to go to an active war. It was dumb. And we are now and will continue for years to come, to pay for their stupity. But, we also continue to use those tactics that we think will help us win. Torture, is often such a tactic. Having the enemy know that you will resort to torture is a related tactic. Allowing the American public to know you are resorting to torture, was probably a serious mistake. But, I doubt it will do much to change policies in the long run. Americans don't want to know the truth. Americans can't handle the truth. 
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  Hits to the Inept archive

It has come to my attention, that lately I'm getting a fair amount of hits to my March archive, which is excellent, I just wish I know what was the specific post (if it is a specific post), so I could provide a link to it on the front page. Might make it easier for people.

Still trying to learn how to manage a blog, so...But, as I've said before, "We here at Radically Inept are committed to the philosophy of continuous improvement." We're just a little slow.

Update: 1:31

I thought there was a good chance that Eyeballing Series post might be the one generating the interest, so I've gone ahead and linked it under information sources.

For those that haven't played their yet, it's a site full of satellite photos and maps to some wild places. Ever wonder where Karl Rove, John Ashcroft, George Tenet, and Valerie Plame live and work? Check it out, but know before hand that this is a high graphic content site (naturally), so downloads take a while even using DSL, but it least you can scroll down the page as the new info loads: Eyeballing Karl Rove, John Ashcroft, George Tenet, Valerie Plame 2

Disclaimer: Should I be informed that there is something classified about this, I'll remove the post.  
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  How can the Iraqi's be so ungrateful for all we've done for them? Okay, this is a pretty circuitous route, but well worth the surf. Start with The Fafblog Fraction Grows: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal, follow to Electrolite: Your Monday morning dialogue. which leads to here www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish, where Sullivan writes this concerning Iraq:
"This country became a welfare state under Saddam. If you cared about your well-fare, you towed the line or died. The state did your thinking and your bidding. Want a job? Pledge allegiance to the Ba'ath party. Want an apartment, a car, etc? Show loyalty. Electricity, water, sewage, etc. was paid by the state. Go with the flow: life is good. Don't and you're dead. Now, what does that do to initiative? drive? industry?

So, we come along and lock up sugar daddy and give these people the toughest challenge in the world, FREEDOM. You want a job? Earn it! A house? Buy it or build it! Security? Build a police force, army and militia and give it to yourself. Risk your lives and earn freedom. The good news is that millions of Iraqis are doing just that, and some pay with their lives. But many, many are struggling with freedom (just like East Germans, Russians, Czechs, etc.) and they want a sugar daddy, the U.S.A., to do it all. We refuse. We don't want to be plantation owners. We make it clear we are here to help, not own or stay. They get mad about that, sometimes."
As if he truly believes it, or maybe the dosage on his meds needs to be reduced so he might have some concept of reality. Oh, and logic. Sad.

Ah, but then go down the rabbit hole at Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog. to acheive true enlightnement:
"Damn straight! Giblets for one is sick of these pampered Iraqi welfare moms and their 'ohhh feed my family' and their 'ohhh rebuild the infrastructure you blew up.' Learn some gratitude, Iraqis! We come halfway around the world and take the time to give weapons to your dictator, start a war with him, crush your economy with sanctions, start another war, blow up your power plants and your cities and disband your police, and we did it all for you, so you could grow up to be as mature and developed a nation as we have become. And this is the thanks we get!

Freedom is not free, Iraqis! It has a price. And that price is being invaded crippled and occupied by a foreign military. If you cannot handle freedom we'll just have to hand you over to a 'democracy-minded strongman.' And this one might not be the sugar daddy that Saddam was."
I am now adding Fafblog to the links. It is as Ulterior (who I suspect is a fafblog shill) wrote me - "Fafblog is indeed *smooth* and *bright*..."

Oh hell, you should go over to Fafblog and read like a weeks worth of posts. Tis fun, and not as dreary as all of those 'serious' blogs. 
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  Pi explained.

If you've been away from geometry or math in general for a while, here's a nice tutorial on Pi, it's value and how it was derived: Going in Circles: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal. Brad does a good job; wish he'd been one of my teachers.

Oh, and check out the comment by CSTAR. Makes sense to me ; ) 
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  How safe is your money?

Via Modulator comes this pretty fun link, Interactive $50 Bill, which allows you to explore the security design features in the new fifty dollar bill. Oh, and you can look at the twenty. 
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Thursday, April 29, 2004
  Wow, I've been labeled!!

First of all I'm excited. It turns out that the guys over at Ricky's North Georgia Dogma have finally given me a semi-permanent link at their site. Semi-permanent, because of course, the can delete it at their whim. The interesting thing though is that they slotted me under 'commies and pinkos'. And I'm not complaining. Hear that Ricky, Oberon and Guy? It's a great slot. Right at the top of your blog! So, the following is by no means an argument for you to move what I consider stellar billing.

I first noticed this monumentous event last night, and I've been thinking about it. What does it mean to be in the category? I'm in there with some great company. I mean I'm on the same list as Max Sawicky of MaxSpeak, You Listen! (actually a serious complement in my mind), who I read virtually daily and Oliver Willis: Like Kryptonite To Stupid who I often wind up linked to on my daily trek through the blogosphere, and I like his work also. The other blogs on the list, I don't know that I've visited, but if their on the same list as me, how bad can they be?

But it was the category heading that got me thinking (ricky is usually good at instigating a rush to post), and so I gave it some thought. When I take those 'where do you fall on the political spectrum tests' (I'll put a couple of links here later, so you can do them yourselves), I usually fall just off of dead center, by like a point or two, in the libertarian, and yes, I admit it, slightly left of center quadrant. So, the commie part of the tag intrigues me.

Ah, I plan on coming back to this posting and making it a clearer presentation, but for now, it's late, and I'm in the middle of drinking the second to last beer in the house. There's no way I'm not saving the last one for the Wife, so when I'm done, I'll quit posting for the night. The result is this will be a quick initial post, without much attempt at editing for anything.

Communism. Well, the way I figure it, there's never been a nation state that has been communist. Oh, there's been and there are still a couple, that we popularly refer to as communist, but largely these are self proclaimed labels, and have nothing to do with reality. Most of these self proclaimed nation states are totalitarian oligarchies with centrally planned economies. That's not communism. I don't even know if we have a label for these states that reflects any real truth about what they are, except maybe failed or failing states. The only places that I can think of that come close to the ideals that Marx expressed lie in possibly some small tribes and in the Catholic Church. For all the Catholic Church's screaming against communism, monasteries and convents are about the closest systems I know of to meeting the communist ideals.

Now why is that? Well, I've been thinking about the communism v capitalism argument a lot in the past few years. I don't have a lot of answers, certainly I haven't come p with a manifesto or anything, but I do have a few observations. Mostly the observation are on capitalism because as you can gather from the above, I don't have any real experience with communism. On the other hand, I was speaking to Tom Walker, a business writer for the AJC, and we were discussing exactly this topic. He pointed out something that I hadn't considered (probably because to this day I've never actually read Karl Marx - Das Kapital), that the one of the truths that old Karl had hit upon, was that a capitalist system has to constantly grow, that at no time can it reach a point of stability. A light bulb went off in my head, capitalism is inherently non-sustainable over the long run. I'd sort of reached that conclusion, and as usual somebody had gotten their a hundred years before I did, but the point made sense.

But, this left an entirely different problem in my mind, and that was this - capitalism had the distinct advantage of being an inherently incentive based system. You don't produce, you don't survive. But (I know, too many buts. I'll try to clean this up in the morning, or not) this seems to lead to the Easter Island effect: use up all your resources, society perishes and all that's left is a bunch of stone heads looking out over an empty ocean. So, how to reconcile this? Well, I most certainly don't have THE answer. I just have some thoughts. For what they're worth.

The first one is: We most certainly don't want to lose an incentive based system. I think. I know I don't want to work my ass off so someone else can sit around on their dead ass. But, that means I hate the idea of wealthy kids getting a pass and moving ahead of me in the line cause their daddy's did something they could never do.

The second is, I consider the assets of the country to be like the assets of a corporation. and all of the citizens of the country are shareholders. And, just like any good capitalist, I expect my board of directors to uphold their fiduciary responsibilties and work for the greatest return to the shareholders. This means, no giving away assets like the public lands, the public electronic spectrum, or anything else tht we 'shareholders' own, without a good a counting and receiving a fair price. If a company wants to mine public lands, they should pay fair market value, including any environmental damage done during the process. Any private land holder would demand the same. I want to be properly and fairly recompensed for the land. All this crap about 'if that was done, the prices would be higher', is just that - crap. I want the prices, as closely as possible, reflect real costs at current market condition. Screw all forms of welfare. Let's get the accounting down right, so that decisions can be made which account for true cost/value.

A quick third point for now, as it's getting really late, and I'm not going to be able to do it justice right now, so I guess I will have to come back to this post tomorrow, or over the weekend depending on time available (so, please check back), I believe in the social contract. I see no reason as a citizen to support policies that benefit others at my expense. Yeah, that sort of sums it up. But, let me add this, and this is the point I'll most certainly have to come back to and clear up, but I think a system that generates wealth across class lines, is good for everyone in the system. If conumers at the lowest wrung of the economic ladder are earning enough to buy a lot of products, well that is good for the system overal. And it is based on this, that companies fail when their consumer base disappears, that I support Henry ford's old idea of paying employees enough so that they can become consumers of the products they are producing.

Anyway, it is now late. I'll come back to this post. But, I'm going to leave it to you, the reader to decide if I'm communist, or just pinko. Or, maybe I'm an aqua, a mauve, beige or a turquoise. but you know, I like the billing.

Oh, and I'll try to get into states rights, and for that matter, community and neighborhod rights.

Yawn, later...

 
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  Bob Edwards? Gone form the airwaves?

Alright, while I can't say I grew up listening to him, I know I've started my day listening to him, probably more that any single news source over the past ten years, so this info shocked me. I mean
Bob Edwards was the Walter Cronkite of public radio at a minimum.

I'd provide a direct link to the article, but I refuse to fill out the crap questionnaire that the Washington Post now demands to view their pages. So these are quotes from the article, and I'll have to leave it up to you the reader to go to the source. And, I won't blame you if you don't. Fuck the Post and wanting to know how old I am and what I do for a living, and how much I make. They aren't that good.

So, here is a portion of the article:
He has been told, more or less, that he is a dinosaur. No one used that specific word, of course, but it's out there, the subtext to NPR's announcement that after nearly 25 years, Edwards, 56, is being removed from the "Morning Edition" anchor chair. The show, network executives have said, needs to move in a new direction, with dual hosts who also report from the field, a quicker response to breaking news and more diverse voices. To quote from an online chat by Jay Kernis, senior vice president for programming, the Edwards model "is no longer sufficient to bring the weight of credible, in-depth reporting that we are demanding of ourselves."

And so this particular morning -- "Tuesday, April 27th," as Edwards intones at the top of the hour -- is one of his last behind the microphone in the second-floor studio at NPR's Massachusetts Avenue headquarters. Tomorrow will mark his final show. After a three-month break, he will return to NPR in late July as a senior correspondent.

"My feeling is, you have people in the field and you have people here," Edwards says. "I thought they had it right. The childless and single would go out and cover wars, and the rest of us would be here at the microphone. But I guess that's not what they want anymore."

That's what he's been told?

"Yes, but that's the explanation of the week," he says.

He's gotten more than one?

"Well, yeah, haven't you?" he says. "You can follow them if you read the papers." The decision to remove Edwards -- whose deep, smooth voice draws 13 million early-morning listeners to NPR every week -- has been a publicity disaster for the network. Made on March 23, the announcement generated widespread criticism in the media and an avalanche of mail from angry listeners, many of whom felt that the network had proven itself to be out of touch with -- or, worse yet, indifferent to -- community opinion.
I was surprised when Louis Rukhyser (sp?) left PBS for CNBC, but I figured it was for the money, and was disappointed in him. But then I found out that PBS fired him!!! Well, there's a time slot they lost me for, and I'm not sure how much of an opportunity I'm going to give NPR now that they've decided to 'fire' Bob. I mean, it's not like he was screwing an intern, or led the country in to a war on false pretenses or something.
 
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  Slackin' and likin' it

I'm off to meet Chocolate Morphine in Decatur (sorry, can't disclose the exact location). I still have at least one more post left in me for today, but it will have to be later.

But, really, you need to follow the link in the post below. It's guaranteed to give you chuckle. 
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  Feel the rage

From lies.com comes this: "Open Letter to the Crackhead Who Stole the Tops Off Matt's Motorcycle's Sparkplugs - Hey Crackhead". 
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  Hey Everybody! Come to Bush World for your family vacation!

Actually you don't have to travel far, as you are already living in it. Sort of. Anyway, another find by Chuck over at UNELECTABLE-BUSH is this article by MAUREEN DOWD, The New York Times: The Orwellian Olsens:
"In Bushworld, we can create an exciting Iraqi democracy as long as it doesn't control its own military, pass any laws or have any power.

In Bushworld, we can win over Falluja by bulldozing it.

In Bushworld, it was worth going to war so Iraqis can express their feelings ('Down With America!') without having their tongues cut out, although we cannot yet allow them to express intemperate feelings in newspapers ('Down With America!') without shutting them down.

In Bushworld, it's fine to take $700 million that Congress provided for the war in Afghanistan and 9/11 recovery and divert it to the war in Iraq that you're insisting you're not planning.

In Bushworld, you don't consult your father, the expert in being president during a war with Iraq, but you do talk to your Higher Father, who can't talk back to warn you to get an exit strategy or chide you for using Him for political purposes."
Chuck says he has mixed feelings about Maureen. I don't know enough about her to have any feelings toward her at all, but I like the fact that she's usually coming down hard on Baby Bush. And this article, well...Just read it. 
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  Maybe you should consider Canada for your summer vacation instead of Holland?

I know Rick Eddy is.

From Chuck at UNELECTABLE-BUSH, comes this piece:
"Starting in the fall, pharmacies in British Columbia will sell marijuana for medicinal purposes, without a prescription, under a pilot project devised by Canada's national health service. The plan follows a 2002 report by a Canadian Senate committee that found there were 'clear, though not definitive' benefits for using marijuana in the treatment of chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and other ailments. Both Prime Minister Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, leader of the opposition conservatives, support the decriminalization of marijuana.

Oddly, the strongest criticism of the Canadian proposal has come from patients already using medical marijuana who think the government, which charges about $110 an ounce, supplies lousy pot. 'It is of incredibly poor quality,' said one patient. Another said, 'It tastes like lumber.' A spokesman for Health Canada promised the agency would try to offer a better grade of product."
See, now if the supposed free market conservatives currently in power were truly free market, they'd let all those growers in Northern Alabama and Northern Georgia sell their 'Sense' to the Canadians. It's obviously better grade than what they are currently getting, and both states could sure use the trade. Hell, it might even help to make it safe to walk in the mountains without fear of running into booby traps when stumble onto somebody's dope plot.

Updated at 11:44, cause:

Damn, I went over to Drunken Monkey Style Blogging and clicked on the pretty marijuana picture and found myself transported toBBC NEWS| Canada 'sells US high-grade pot':
"White House 'drug czar' John Walters says new cultivation methods mean marijuana sold today in the US is much stronger than in the 1960s.

'We have a growing problem with the expansion of particularly high-potency marijuana coming from Canada,' he said.

Last year the drug produced in British Columbia alone was worth $9bn and most of it was exported to the US, he added.

High-grade marijuana is grown in nutrient-rich solutions rather than soil, and sells for as much as cocaine, according to Mr Walters, who heads the Office of National Drug Control Policy."
Which totally screws up my idea of exporting our weed to them, and worse, we're importing. Well, at least one point still holds true. The supposed free market conservatives in charge are still screwing America's domestic growers with their ridiculous policies.

Of course, it does bring the question back to 'why is the Canadian government supplying their citizens with cheap shit, when they grow some of the best in the world'? 
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Wednesday, April 28, 2004
  A rant and a Prediction

The following is a contribution by Rick Eddy. I personally take no liability for the following remarks.

Well, it's late and I'm on my last good beer, the liquor is about gone 'cept the tequila, and man, I just don't feel like a tequila buzz right now. So I'll probably take a break at some point, and wander over to the renter's cabin and get some more near beer. Kinda of like real, but it's really near beer. You know, no flavor, no color, just alcohol in yellow tinted water. The renters are almost always a bunch of yuppies from Atlanta that think Budweiser and Miller Lite qualifies as beer. On the plus side, if I don't get too drunk, I can make it the quarter mile around the ridge in the dark, and take what they left in the cooler on the deck. They always leave a cooler on the deck. Then, after I'm done drinking their beer, I can piss in the bottles, screw the caps back on (I'm glad they went to screw tops), put 'em back in their cooler, and they won't ever admit they can tell the difference, and they probably can't. The down side is, hell, they could'a pissed in the bottles, put 'em back in the cooler, and I couldn't tell the difference.

What's really got me pissed tonight though, is I gave money to Shorty last night, and planned to be trippin' the lights fantastic tonight. Aint seen him since I gave him the money. And, hell, tonight's a great night to be trippin'. The stars are out. Anyway, if and when Shorty finally shows up, I got a good mind to let the dogs have him. They don't much like him anyway, never have, and I figure between the pit and the chow, there won't be much left to bother burying. And, what they don't get, the beagle will (she's a fuckin' chow hound in her own right). Whatever those three don't finish, the blackbears will. Pretty damn ecological the way I see it. And man, you don't appreciate what they can do, until you give them one of those huge ass bones you buy at the grocers to these dogs, and see the whole thing disappear right quick. 'Sides, I never liked Shorty all that much anyway. Don't really like renters either, so I don't think it's real immoral to take their beer, and whatever they left on the grill when they passed out. Course, I think if I let the dogs have 'em, someone might notice. Not like Shorty. Life aint easy up here in the mountains. Jeremiah Johnson and all that.

Well I promised his 'Ineptness' a prediction, so here it is. I expect to see a revolution in the next few, maybe ten years, but probably less. This country hasn't been this divided since the 'War of Northern aggression'; which by the way, was really about the fact that we had cheap labor (see slavery), which made all their machines less economical. They won, and then instead of slavery, we wound up with mill towns, which was slavery lite, and the KKK, but they made the money, and could sit up there and poo-poo the South. Hell, growing up I almost bought into that crap, well I did buy into that crap, until I saw the Yankees in Boston were the ones turning over the busses. Yeah, we used fire hoses and dogs, but by that time, we were cowed. A lot of us really bought into how progressive the North was, but it turns out they were only progressive 'til their kids had to go to school with the coloreds. All hail being rich enough to send your kids to private school. All Hail!

But the point being, there's not a shit load of difference between what's happening now, and what I remember from back in the sixties and early seventies. Matter of fact, I listen to my record collection, and, man, you can listen to "Drug Store Truck Driving Man" by Gram Parsons and Roger McGuinn, or just about anything by Steppenwolf, or the sound track to 'Hair', or CCR, etc. And, man, they all make sense today. Shit, they are today.

Well, I'd probably post more, and if Shorty had shown up, my posting would be a hell of a lot more colorful, if just as incoherent. Maybe not, you never know. If you know Shorty , he don't show up for you, don't look here, you won't find nothing. I guarantee that.

Oh, I'll be adding a line to my bio, sort of my own job hunt, "Currently seeking a country to rule". Cause why not? All the other kids are doing it.


 
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  The thing about Muslims is... And, a book review.

On the issue of Muslims
I was going to blog on this today anyway, but had been procrastinating until I visited Orcinus and found him pointing to this:
"Jay Severin, attempting to defend his indefensible suggestion that we should just kill Muslims:

Severin, who on his show yesterday afternoon vehemently defended the comment, said that anyone who listened to his show for 'any length of time longer than 10 minutes has heard me say that Muslims are not our enemies, that all Muslims are not terrorists.'

'But, thus far, all the terrorists killing us are Muslims, and that distinction is one I have made every single time, including last Thursday, and every single time that we have discussed the topic of Islam and the war on terror, as those of you who listen, at least most of us who listen know,' he said on yesterday's show."
So, here it goes.

Last night, at my usual attendance of the 'Democratic Town Hall in Exile' at Manuel's Tavern, I ran into Major General (Ret.) Larry Taylor, USMC. He's a regular and a fellow Georgia Tech alumnus, besides being a seriously well informed individual (it's not likely you can achieve that rank w/o being a pretty damn intelligent guy). We largely share the same views on the military, but we do not necessarily align on politics. He's more conservative (yeah, I found it odd that he shows at Manuel's, but...), where as I tend to be more contractarian. I should move to the point.

I asked him where he'd been the past couple of weeks, and he informed me he had been in Turkey with some other retired military types who'd achieved similar career heights. There were for of them all told, there at the invitation of the Turkish government. I asked him a few questions about what he had come away with, besides shopping, which he said they didn't have time for. But, when I posed the question about how the new party in power, which is more religious than the previous party, felt about Turkey's policy of being a secular government, he told me that exact issue had come up at a dinner hosted by the two major parties. He said at the dinner, there was a large banner with the word Merkez, meaning center, which he took to mean as the opposite of extreme. And, that while at that dinner, their hosts were a little distraught that in the previous week, Colin Powell had referred to Turkey as a Muslim Democracy. They asked this delegation to go back and try to impress on the American government that they were not a 'Muslim Democracy', but rather a 'Democratic country' with a large Muslim population similar to the US being a 'Democratic country' with a large Christian population. In fact, Larry (I call him that not out of disrespect, but since I no longer in the military, I prefer first names) said that the Turkish constitution is even stronger with regards to keeping religion out of government, than ours is. I also asked, and he responded fairly emphatically in the affirmative, if he thought that Turkey was a strong US ally. So, going back to Severin's idiotic remarks, he is doing a great disservice to our Muslim allies, albeit we don't have many, which is the reason we shouldn't be alienating those we have. Same goes for Colin Powell. In fact, this whole administration, especially with Baby Bush's repeated use of the word 'crusade', seems intent on doing exactly that: Alienating the few Muslim allies we have.

book review
Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, I wanted to let you know about a great book I recently read. Ah, you may ask, "Just how is this related to what you've posted above?" "You'll see," I respond.

About three weeks ago, again at the 'Democratic Town Hall in Exile' at Manuel's Tavern (see, first connection), I wound up seated next to Robert Coram at the bar. At that time, I too did not know who he was. But after we had introduced ourselves, I found out he was a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and he found out I was ex-military. One of the things he did, and at that point I began to hold a grudge against him, is ask me the difference between low intensity conflict and fourth generation warfare, or something to that effect. Well, doing my best, I come up with a couple of ideas, and then I find out, he knows the answer. I hate people who ask me a question, allow me to stumble in trying to come up with an answer, when they already know it, and know it better than I do.

Regardless, he eventually he pops the question, "Have you ever heard of COL John Boyd?" I have to admit to total ignorance, and he proceeds to tell me he was the greatest military thinker since Sun Tzu, and the most influential unknown military thinker of our time (do you understand why I began to resent him). Well, as it turns out, he had written a biography of COL Boyd, called aptly enough "BOYD - The Fighter Pilot Who Changed The Art Of War". Well, I may have been proven a complete ignoramus, but I wrote down the title, and proceeded to check it out at my local library (I'd be damned if I'd give him the royalty benefit of buying the book). Sadly, it's an absolutely excellent book. Robert pulls no punches on Boyd's often negative personal qualities with regards to his family life and abrasiveness, and does an excellent job of presenting a man of great character, who truly did much to change American military thinking and doctrine. Though, the bureaucracy that is the Pentagon, changed as little as it could, and resisted almost everything Boyd tried to accomplish.

It also turns out, that it was the US Marine Corps which most readily changed it operations and tactics based on Boyd's work (note second connection). So, I asked Larry (remember him, ala third connection about Boyd and his influence), and Larry flatly stated that he considered himself a Boyd acolyte. Now that is high praise. He agreed that Boyd had indeed had a major influence on how the Marine war fighting doctrine, including Boyd's "Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) Loop, and his work on aerial combat. MEGEN Taylor was a Cobra Helicopter pilot among other things, and stated that Boyd's work demonstrated that it was possible for helicopters to actually defeat fixed wing aircraft in combat.

And, now I have to admit defeat, I'm going to go out and buy "BOYD - The Fighter Pilot Who Changed The Art Of War", copyright 2003, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, New York, London, by Robert Coram. The book is that good, and I want my own copy for reference, especially I want a copy of the bibliography on had to google search the references and read much of the material myself. Here's a guy who directly or indirectly got the F-16 and the A-10 Built. Who was a great fighter pilot, and who apparently was the greatest military theorist since Sun Tzu. It's worth the read, and even the price: $27.95 US.

Note: I'll probably do more stories from Manuel's over time, and as long as I continue to hang. It is a great place to meet people, and have intelligent conversations on a host of subjects. And, since they don't have a juke box, nor play the radio or it's equivalent, you can actually here what someone else is saying. Though, there are enough political junkies there, that you'll almost always have the TV on for a debate or major political speech, and enough sports (primarily baseball), that the game will usually be on one of the TVs. anyway, if you come to Atlanta, and you're here on a Tuesday, and if you like politics. you'll like Manuel's. 
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  Even children know the proper strategies needed to take over the world

Also found via lies.comMcSweeney's Internet Tendency: An Open Letter to William Kristol, Richard Perle, and President Bush's Other Neoconservative Puppetmasters. The letter rocks. And it poses some very solid questions concerning their plans for empire. 
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  Wow, FOUND this

From lies.com: comes this really intriguing website and magazine: FOUND Magazine. As JBC (at least I think he posted this one) explains -
"You see a few years ago, Davy found a strange note on his car (it was a case of mistaken identity) that spawned a fascination with 'found items', the random snippets of paper, photos, and other objects that litter the streets everywhere we go, telling a tale about society and the people in it. He turned his hobby into a magazine, and from there it's spawned a new Book and a 50 state tour in which he's driving all over the country, hosting parties to show of cool stuff, and encouraging people to bring in their own finds."
Well I had a good time rummaging there, and kind of enjoyed looking at the found photos and notes. 
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  A Skateboarding Bulldog
Via the Wife's Joke mail Newsletter comes a Skateboarding Bulldog. No, really...It's a video of a skateboarding bulldog: Skateboarding Dog!!!

Turns out, the download speed through Blogspot appears to be way too slow for the impatient, so my suggestion is go to his site MyJokeMail.com - Downloads and click his link. And, I bet he would not mind if you browsed around his site. It's a pretty good collection of some pretty funny and/or odd stuff.

And, damn, he's (the dog) so much better at it than I am. I spend most of my time falling, and very little time riding.

And, now the Wife is demanding her billing be changed to The Wife! Hell, soon she'll probably want to be all capitals, in bold, italics and underlined! 
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  Adding links

I need to clear my desktop of some icons, and since these are places I go frequently, I might just well put the links here, and free up space on my desktop, so that I can see my really cool wallpaper. So, the first on the list is Drunken Monkey Style Blogging. He has a very different format/layout form most blogs, so check it out. Oh, and I think the photo at the bottom of the page may be him and his family, but I have yet to ask.

Another one is TCS: Tech Central Station - Where Free Markets Meet Technology, which should really read, "where corporate PR gets passed off as news". I'm not adding this one because I like it, so much as it such a great source for easy material to bash. I've dissed them before here and here. Logical arguments and PR don't seem to mix very well, but you can stay fairly current on conservative (read corporate) talking points here. I'm going to put it under the 'Excellent Sources of Information' Heading, cause it is at least informative.

Still another non-blog link I'm adding is ajeeb, News. It's good to get the perspective on current news, especially Baby Bush's War (I've decided not to refer to it as the Iraq War as I think Baby Bush's War is a more accurate phrasing), form a place like the United Arab Emirates.

I'll add more later. 
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  Billmon does it again!

Since I started going over to Whiskey Bar, aka Billmon's, I've learned that he has a real talent for comparing current events with historical events. He did a really great one a couple of weeks ago comparing Vietnam and Iraq. Well, yesterday (and for some reason I didn't stop by there yesterday) he posted a just awsome compare and contrast (mostly compare) style posting of the coming US 'handover' of authority to the Iraqi's with the Imperial Japanese hand over of authority to Manchukuo. Here's a teaser, but you owe to yourself to go over to Whiskey Bar: and read "Puppet Acts":
The Bush administration's plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on its sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact new laws, according to administration officials.
New York Times
White House plans limits to Iraq sovereignty
April 24, 2004

In 1932 Manchukuo was proclaimed an independent state. The last Qing emperor was brought out of retirement and made Manchukuo's ruler, but the state was actually rigidly controlled by the Japanese, who used it as their base for expansion into Asia.
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
Manchukuo"
Oh, and you should browse through the comment section, he has some pretty astute readers. 
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Tuesday, April 27, 2004
  Usual Tuesday Night/No more posts until tomorrow

Getting ready to go to the 'Democratic Town Hall in Exile' at Manuel's Tavern. If you are in Atlanta, come on by.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to post some stuff on info theory over at Rogue Analyst, which I've been pretty negligent in keeping up w/ the past couple of weeks. It's just easier to post and rant here, where as there, I try to be a little more thoughtful, logical and academic. And, I'm still supposed to work on the atheist manifesto somemore. Well, I mean all I have done so far, is to post a few defintions.

Anyway... 
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  Making up for Science Monday omissions

The following articles come via the KurzweilAI.net Newsletter.

The Mozart Effect
New Scientist:
"Rats that heard a Mozart sonata expressed higher levels of several genes involved in stimulating and changing the connections between brain cells, the study showed. The team, including the researcher who first proposed the Mozart effect, hope the results will help them design music therapy treatments for people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

The Mozart effect first came to light in a 1993 paper in Nature (vol 365, p 611), when Fran Rauscher, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, US, and colleagues showed that college students who listened to Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major for 10 minutes performed better on a spatial reasoning test than students who listened to new age music or nothing at all...[

]...The researchers found that these smarter rats had increased gene expression of BDNF, a neural growth factor, CREB, a learning and memory compound, and synapsin I, a synaptic growth protein, in their hippocampus, as compared to control rats who had listened to equivalent amounts of white noise.

"The findings are intriguing," says Howard Gardner, an IQ expert at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and sceptic of the Mozart effect. "It suggests stimulation in general has measurable neurochemical effects. But whether this effect is due to music, let alone Mozart, still has to be determined." Other experiments have shown that enriching a rat's environment with toys can spur growth of new neurons...[

]...Patients with Alzheimer's disease perform better on spatial and social tasks after listening to the sonata. And playing Mozart for severely epileptic patients quietens the electrical activity associated with seizures, while other kinds of music do not.
Damn, and I'm listening to the Cure.

Communicating at Light Speed
Arutz 7:
"Israeli researchers working at Intel's plant in Israel have developed a new chip technology that will speed up the flow of information to the speed of light. The Israeli-developed electro-optical chipsets are based on silicon wafers capable of converting electronic signals to optic signals within the chips. The new chip will enable communication to be conducted at the speed of light - some ten times faster than the present speed.

The development could potentially revolutionize computing and telecommunications as we know it. Intel has not yet completed its planning for production of the new optical devices, but it is considering doing so at its Kiryat Gat facility (located in Israel's southern region). The mass production of the electro-optical chipsets is not expected to cost any more than that of the standard electronic chips."
Sadly, I'm sure the first people to use it will be advertisers and marketers. Oh, and I guess Intel is at least one company that is investing in Israel. I wonder if their employees get paid danger pay, and if Intel is planning to open up any facilities in Iraq?

Molecules to replace human laborers on the assembly lineBW Online | May 3, 2004 | Online Extra: Getting Molecules To Do The Work:
"MAKING HEADWAY. For now, making such complicated things this way is obviously science fiction. But the idea behind self-assembly is very much here, right now. Mother Nature has used self-assembly for eons to create and foster life. Mankind already uses it to make nonwrinkle trousers, fragrances, and silver polish. And it's used in microelectronics and for making anticorrosion coatings. And even in drugmaking, it's about to take off, says Mihail Roco, chair of the Nanoscale Science, Engineering & Technology Subcommittee of the National Science & Technology Committee, which coordinates the federal government's nanotech research and development efforts.

That's because scientists recently have made so much headway in designing artificial molecules that self-assemble in a predictable pattern -- an outgrowth of steady increases in research funding for such projects worldwide.

About one-quarter of the 2,000 or so nanotechnology projects the National Science Foundation now sponsors involve self-assembly -- and funding for nanotechnology should grow about 20% year-over-year, to $305 million, in fiscal 2005, says Roco. Total federal nanotech funding through a program called the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which Roco helps coordinate, should reach nearly $1 billion next year.

NO LONGER IMPOSSIBLE. Even that figure is likely to be overshadowed by private funding. Everyone from drug companies such as Merck (MRK ) and Pfizer (PFE ) to tech whizzes 3M (MMM ), IBM (IBM ), and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ) is investing heavily in self-assembly.

Their interest is easy to understand: Self-assembly can make manufacturing fast and cheap. In theory, anyway, humans will be able to simply design artificial molecules that assemble in a desired pattern -- and let nature take its course. A bonus is that because self-assembly devices will be made from the bottom up, there'll be less waste, says Christine Peterson, president at the Foresight Institute, a nanotechnology-policy think tank in Palo Alto, Calif."
Really, why hire humans when these things can reproduce themselves. On the other hand:

Here comes the grey goo
Responsible Nanotechnology: Killed by Goo!:
"Here are three different ways gray goo might kill you, in ascending order of probability:

3. Tiny nanobots swarm over and disassemble your body, atom by atom. Chances of this occurring? Probably less than being struck by an asteroid. Theoretically it could happen, but don't worry about getting life insurance to cover it. We've written before that goo-type machines not only will be very difficult to design and build, but also that other malicious kinds of nanotech will be easier to make and more efficient to use.

2. Public worries over gray goo, fanned by ill-advised critics like Britain's Prince Charles and immoderate organizations like the ETC Group, lead to a ban on the development of molecular manufacturing technology in the United States and most of Europe. Predictably, this only allows nations with fewer scruples to develop and make use of the technology -- eventually selling ultra-lethal weapons capability to transnational terrorist organizations, who attack without warning. Instead of making a cumbersome gray goo, they simply send hundreds of millions of miniature super-computer-guided stealth aircraft to devastate every major city in the developed world. And that's how you die. Chances of this occurring? Higher than you might think.

1. Authoritative U.S. scientists and nano policy makers persist in their ridicule of gray goo scenarios and their dismissal of nanobots as 'impossible'. As a result, no policies dealing with the consequences of molecular manufacturing are debated and no attempt is made to cooperate on an international level with other potential developers of the technology. When, a few years later, it is discovered that a heretofore secret program in a non-aligned nation may be on the verge of a breakthrough, other major powers decide to jumpstart their own programs. Before long, several countries find themselves involved in a new, highly unstable, upwardly spiraling arms race. The next war -- truly the war that does end all wars -- ends your life, and billions of others. Chances of this occurring? Probably high, if present trends continue.

So goo itself won't kill you, but extreme reactions, whether of hysteria or of denial, just may.

Mike Treder"
I think I might have more immediate concerns.

And, speaking of more immediate concerns
Wired News: Flaw Could Cripple Entire Net:
"Researchers found a serious security flaw that left core Internet technology vulnerable to hackers, prompting a secretive effort by international governments and industry experts in recent weeks to prevent global disruptions of Web surfing, e-mails and instant messages.

Experts said the flaw, disclosed Tuesday by the British government, affects the underlying technology for nearly all Internet traffic. Left unaddressed, they said, it could allow hackers to knock computers offline and broadly disrupt vital traffic-directing devices, called routers, that coordinate the flow of data among distant groups of computers...[

...]The public announcement coincides with a presentation Watson expects to make Thursday at a popular Internet security conference in Vancouver, where Watson said he will reveal full details of his research.

Watson, who runs the Terrorist.net website, predicted that hackers will understand how to begin launching attacks "within five minutes of walking out of that meeting."

"It's fairly easy to implement," Watson said. "Someone walking out of the conference would immediately understand. No matter how vague I am, people will figure it out."
Great, just great.

Well, that's enough for today, got to track down a job.

 
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  How broadly is/should aid to terrorism defined?

I won't comment much on this piece right now, because I am still trying to decide what I think on this subject - The New York Times> Computer Student on Trial for Aid to Muslim Web Sites:
"Today, that graduate student, Sami Omar al-Hussayen, is on trial in a heavily guarded courtroom here, accused of plotting to aid and to maintain Islamic Web sites that promote jihad.

As a Web master to several Islamic organizations, Mr. Hussayen helped to maintain Internet sites with links to groups that praised suicide bombings in Chechnya and in Israel. But he himself does not hold those views, his lawyers said. His role was like that of a technical editor, they said, arguing that he could not be held criminally liable for what others wrote.

Civil libertarians say the case poses a landmark test of what people can do or whom they can associate with in the age of terror alerts. It is one of the few times anyone has been prosecuted under language in the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, which makes it a crime to provide 'expert guidance or assistance' to groups deemed terrorist.

'Somebody who fixes a fax machine that is owned by a group that may advocate terrorism could be liable,' said David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who argued against the expert guidance part of the antiterrorism law this year, in a case where it was struck down by a federal judge...

...In the indictment, the government charged that Mr. Hussayen provided "computer advice and assistance, communications facilities, and financial instruments and services that assisted in the creation and maintenance of Internet Web sites and other Internet medium intended to recruit and raise funds for violent jihad, particularly in Palestine and Chechnya."

And they have argued that Mr. Hussayen's technical assistance, even if he did not share the beliefs of the groups he helped, were like providing a gun to an armed robber.

Most of the facts are not in dispute. Mr. Hussayen's lawyers said that he gave money to legitimate Islamic charities and that his Web site work was protected by the First Amendment. The Web sites he maintained also posted views opposing jihad, they said.

The government has argued that Mr. Hussayen, a Saudi citizen who is the son of a retired Saudi minister of education, does not have all the protections of an American citizen. They said he abused his privilege as a student by working for computer sites that advocate terror. His friends in the Idaho college town may have known one side of him, the prosecutor, Kim Lindquist, said in his opening remarks to the jury, but they seldom saw "the private face of extreme jihad."

The Saudi government is paying for the defense of Mr. Hussayen, his family said.

One of the charities that Mr. Hussayen supported, Islamic Assembly of North America, still operates out of Ann Arbor, Mich. On its Web site, the group says its mission is to promote the spread of Islam, and the group solicits money from the public. Mr. Nevin said the charity has never been classified as terrorist by the government.

But the government said the Michigan charity was one of the Web sites that "accommodated materials that advocated violence against the United States."
Is helping someone set up a web site aiding a terrorist organization? Is advocating violent acts on a web site terrorism? If so, couldn't some of the stuff espoused at Little Green Footballs: new world odor be considered calling for terrorist acts (largely on anyone who does not blindly support the current administration), and that by continuing to allow people to make such comments on their blog, they are supporting terrorists? Where do we, as a free society, draw the line?

Well, as I said, I'm not certain, but I will certainly be following this case.

Note: Besides, I just like comparing the hate and violence espousers at LGF with Jihadists and terrorists.
 
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Monday, April 26, 2004
  Science Monday

The following articles are the result of the Google News Alerts that I have set up, specifically on Zero Point Energy. I have errands to run, so I will probably do a couple of seperate Science Monday posts today scince I'm not sure how the Site Feed process works, i.e. 'do people get notified if I just update a post, or only if I generate a new post?'.

The idea of Zero Point Energy, and especially the ramifications this would have on geo-politics, markets, society, space exploration and just about everything else. But, since contol of energy has been the source of power and riches, the idea that it suddenly would become abundant, well, I just hope I survive the upheaval. Anyway, on to the stories:

ZPE Speculation
ZPEnergy.com - Zero Point Energy: Can it become a practical, near-term, alternative?:
"March 1st, 2004, Aviation Week and Space Technology published an article headlined: "Aviation Giants Eye Zero Point Energy". The next line reads: "Zero Point Energy emerges from realm of science fiction". The article goes on to suggest that ZPE might result in "Mach 4 fighters, quiet 1,200-seat hypersonic airliners that fly at 100-mi. altitudes as far as 12,000 mi. in about 70 min., and 12.6-hr. trips to the Moon."

ZPE is still not widely known or understood. It emerges from experiments that demonstrate that seemingly empty space, sometimes called the "quantum vacuum", is teeming with energy. According to Tom Valone at IRI, data from the NASA Wilkinson Probe suggests that it should be possible to extract about 20 times more energy from the Zero Point Field, per unit of surface area on earth, than can be derived from solar energy -- approximately 20 kilowatts per square meter -- 24 hours per day.

ZPE has been investigated as a potential power source since a 1984 paper, by the late Dr. Robert Forward, appeared in Physical Review. Physical Review has also carried several articles stating that it is theoretically possible to tap this energy for power and propulsion. ZPE is present everywhere in the universe. The late Nobel physicist, Richard Feynman, once remarked that enough was present in the volume contained within a light bulb, to evaporate the oceans of the earth...

...Dr. Hal Puthoff, Director of the Institute of Advanced Study at Austin, is quoted in the Aviation Week article: ”I’d say our confidence level [of a breakthrough] is 50% or better. If our [research] is successful, almost assuredly there’d be no problem with small units—a few cubic centimeters of ZPE—providing enough energy to power spaceships.”
I specifically sited Dr Puthoff's work because he impresses me as the kind of scientist that is willing to take risks in unusaul areas of research, and stand behind his findings. See Fortean Times - Dr Hal Puthoff for more information.

ZPE for speculators?
ZPEnergy.com - Formation of Archer Energy Systems, Inc.:
"Dr. Robert Langgons of IceFire Systems, Inc. and Mark Tomion, president of Archer Enterprises and inventor of the patented Electrodynamic Field Generator, are pleased and excited to announce the recent formation of Archer Energy Systems, Inc. as a formal vehicle for the funding and implementation of the co-developers' planned 24kW EDF Generator Prototype Project.

Heretofore, the inventor's individual efforts to prototype the EDF Generator, an exotic variant of the Faraday disk dynamo which produces electric power with no generated retarding torque by electrostatic induction and stimulated thermionic emission means, have been hindered by the lack of adequate funding or any significant governmental or academic support. The new corporate support structure should alleviate this situation and allow a coming demonstration of what may be the world's first self-sustaining over-unity power plant which taps the zero point energy on a large scale. [Detailed information about the EDF Generator technology may be obtained by visiting: www.stardrivedevice.com/power_plant.html.]"
I'd suggest going to ZPEnergy.com and following the links from there. I'm certainly not sure about the claims, but if true, hold on cause we'll be in for a wild ride.

Off to do errands (have to return the fish tank filter for a smaller one. Ugh! Wal-Marts again). Will post more but it may not be until this evening as I have to devote time to the great job hunt. This evenings will wander further afield in the realms of science, though I'm not sure you can truly go further than ZPE.
 
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  Whatever happened to Chernobyl?

This is Science Monday, and this might oughta qualify, but I think it's powerful enough to deserve its own post.

Wow, found this via Modulator, who himself found it via a couple of other stops, and it is a fascinating site.
Kiddofspeed - GHOST TOWN - Chernobyl Images - Elena's Motorcyle Ride through Chernobyl:
"I travel a lot and one of my favorite destinations leads North from Kiev, towards so called Chernobyl 'dead zone', which is 130kms from my home. Why my favorite? Because one can take long rides there on empty roads.

The people there all left and nature is blooming. There are beautiful woods and lakes.

In places where roads have not been travelled by trucks or army vehicles, they are in the same condition they were 20 years ago - except for an occasional blade of grass that discovered a crack to spring through. Time does not ruin roads, so they may stay this way until they can be opened to normal traffic again........ a few centuries from now."
There is not much for me to offer, except to say the photographs are amazing, the information is still startling, and maybe it will remind us of the dangers of nuclear power when things go wrong. It's worth your time...
 
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GEORGE W. BUSH - TOUGH ENOUGH TO TORTURE CHILDREN
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