Radically Inept
Saturday, May 22, 2004
  News from the 'Hood

Note: This post was originally posted Tuesday, 18 May at 9am, and then it disappeared.Thanks to the goole cache function, I just found and recovered it from the eather that is the internet. As origianlly presented.

To orient yourself, here are some maps: [edited 6:35pm 05/23/04 at the Wife's behest] Here is the 'Hood'and it's relation to Atlanta, and there will be a ten point quiz given at the end of this post, so pay attention.

I'll start with last Thursday, but make no promises to follow normal time. I was sitting up in the office at the computer, probably blogging, when I noticed police cars parked on the street in front of my next door neighbors' house (to my right, facing the street from my house). And, the police seemed to be concerned with a young black kid who I've seen in the neighborhood plenty of times. As a matter of fact, I usually knew the school bus had been by, because he would streak through my yard a few minutes later going for home, I guess. It seems that he is pretty good friends w/ my next door neighbor's boy, and I'm guessing 14-15 years old? I should know, and probably knew, but can't remember now, so you'll have to settle for guesses.

I went outside, and by the time I opened the door to do so, the police were pulling of, and had the young boy in the front seat (always a better sign than the backseat) and were driving off down the hill. I puttered around a few minutes until my neighbor came out. She said the boy's father had beaten him, badly. So, he had called the police from her house. He wants to go live w/ his mother (looks like a fine choice). Well, the Daddy in this case made a mistake for a domestic abuser - he did it outside of the home, in view of the neighbors. This means that the county can try him for assault regardless of whether or not the boy wants to press charges. Daddy's crime had third party witnesses.

Yesterday, the house just passed my neighbors', one over, had the County sheriff and work crew of four guys in a pick-up truck, tossing all the contents to the curb. I figured that might be why they were in the neighborhood in the first place. This house is a single story white brick ranch on a corner lot, and a few days ago, I had noticed a sticker on the front door saying 'this property secured by request of the owner'. That puzzled me for a bit, but it turns out the lady who'd been living their was a renter, and the owners were evicting her. Sad, really. Turns out, as I was talking to a couple who were scavenging the stuff, the house had been sold on the court house steps, like, yesterday morning. They also said, there had been a couple, and they got a divorced, and then she lost her job. 'Course, as my other neighbor from across the street pointed out, if she would have 'yard saled' all the stuff the county had thrown to the curb, she could paid for two or three more months, or better. And if these were just renters being evicted, why was the house sold?

There's another house, this one sits behind my neighbor's to the left of me, and faces a different road. This house has a sticker on the front door saying 'plumbing condemned' or something to that effect. It was looking abandoned, but there was a crew there Saturday cleaning the yard up. And further down this same street is another house w/ the same sticker posted, but also seems to be undergoing active renovation. A neighbor living next door to that house said the owners were using insurance money to repair damages caused by (the Wife will remember).

Well, got to get back to filling out these forms for the county, and they have a real slow server.

NOte: Repeated paragraph removed @ 8:56 pm 05/22/04 
Friday, May 21, 2004
  Learning from Mikey

WOW!? I looked up and saw Matt standing over me as he was pushing Mikey away.

Get up and out of the way quick!

How long had I been on the ground? How long could it have been? If Mikey's boots had landed to the ribs and head? Naah. I'd be gone. Matt must of moved quick. Couldn't a' been long, but he had to come around or over the bar, and I didn't know which...

I got up a little slow counting on Matt...I don't know why he stepped in, and I wasn't sure how long he'd stay between us. Matt might a' stepped in 'cause he was the bartender on duty. Might of been cause we were friends. Bar friends, anyway.

But, I moved the hell back and out of range as I got up. Took a quick look around. Yeah, still just the three of us in the place. And, it looked like Matt succeeded in convincing Mikey that I wasn't worth killing at this point in time, at least not with Matt there. Feint praise I guess, but it worked.

[Note to self: Lower threat level from 'currently taking damage' to 'don't know when its going to come again'.]

But I was learning. I don't much remember what was said. I know Matt wound up on his side of the bar, and me and Mikey sittin' at the end of the bar with fresh beers in front of us, and our backs to the pool tables and door. But Mikey and I weren't worried about the door. The threat was each other. And I was learning.

I don't know if you 'can be' dazed, and simultaneously operate on a seriously higher level of awareness or not, but I sure as hell was. My mind was racing. Hell, Id just been blind sided. Now, I knew exactly where Matt was behind the bar. I knew it was just the three of us in the place, and that I'd know the instant the air currents changed from the door cracking to the outside. I knew where each hand was relative to each beer mug, each pool cue, and each pool ball. I knew exactly where Mikey's hands were, and where his knees were. I was calculating how fast I could grab the my mug, and hit him in the face vs the time needed for a straight punch below his right set of ribs vs moving to grab a cue off the wall or a couple of balls off the table. All that training, and it was finally making sense. I was learning.

It started as a friendly game of pool, you know. A couple of bucks, no big deal. But that was before the awareness started. Yeah. 'Cause all of a sudden I'd found Mikey's button, and I knew it. And man, I played it. I never beat Mikey head to head. He was good. He was a 6 on that '7 scale' they use for bar league and I was a three. But I found a button, and I started to tease it. It was kind of the usual shit, but it was working. "Nice shot; oh man, that should have gone in", and "man, I don't believe that dropped". Then it got to the point that Mikey knew it. He knew I was Playing him and I knew it. The awareness was there way before the trouble started. I was learning.

You'd a' thunk, I'd a' been smart of enough to drop it. To play the game straight from that point on and let the chips fall wherever. It was only two bucks. It'd of been smart. I knew Mikey. Mikey was a carpenter, thug, fighter, burglar, and rumors had it that he'd done a couple of hold ups. Good rumors. I'd also seen the last guy he'd jumped in the alley out back, and that was over 'bout nothin. The guy didn't look so good, and quit coming into Dotty's. So, it wasn't like I didn't know Mikey. And I was learning.

But it was the power that seduced me. That and the beer, I guess. But I kept it up. Both of us knowing what I was doing, knowing what I was doing, I mean, I knew what I was doing. I was poking sticks at the tigers. And the tiger knew it, and there was no fence. Sounds like one of those stupid animal shows, but I just kept kneedling Mikey. And, man he knew it. Hell, I could see him starting to boil, but I couldn't stop. It was the power. And I was learning.

I won. I was wary at first. I mean, I wasn't an idiot. But about the time I took my first swig of beer that I bought with Mikey's money, I was on the floor.

So now, I'm looking at Mikey and learning, and he smiles. And, I know that he knows where my head is. We're both in tune. We both know that it can happen at any moment, and second place loses. There ain't no mulligans here. I'm learning and he knows I'm learning and I know he knows. And it goes on. Like I said, 'dazed and at a heightened awareness'.

So somehow we wind up going back to my apartment, a subdivided old shotgun, behind a fire station and on the wrong side of the MARTA tracks from a country club neighborhood. We smoked some weed. Mine I think. Finished off a twelve pack. Talked. The whole time knowing that this was what it must be like. You don't know if the guy is a friend, or waiting for an opportunity. What will it take for this situation to escalate? One of us could die tonight. It was real. I knew Mikey...

I knew I could kill Mikey, and I was thinking about it. This wasn't any class. I could kill him to avenge the slight of blindsiding me - pretty much a recognized offense on the streets since Bogart. I could kill him because I felt like it. I might have to kill him at any moment in self-defense, and I could just kill him. No big deal in its own way. I knew at that moment at the bar when we sat back down, that I could kill. And, I could kill Mikey, and live with it. I learned that night. And I knew that Mikey knew that I learned.

I only partied with Mikey one or two times after that night. It was different. I'd learned and he'd taught me. You're always vulnerable. It takes nothing to strike at a few points on the human body and do serious damage or kill outright. And, I'm capable of the same, I knew that. I knew the points of vulnerability: 15lbs pressure here does this, 15lbs pressure here does this, and you can kill a man with...I'd learned all that. But now I knew what it was like to spend time in the zone.

Besides, being around Mikey after that, was just too fuckin' stressful even if you learned alot.

  Oh, geez, would DeLay just tell me what I am allowed to say?

Pandagon points to this quote from CNN.com - Pelosi questions Bush's competence - May 21, 2004:
"Nancy Pelosi should apologize for her irresponsible, dangerous rhetoric," DeLay, R-Texas, said. "She apparently is so caught up in partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk."
But it is in the comments where you get this:
"Heh. By that standard, even voting against the GOP would be irresponsible, dangerous, and anti-American."

Yes, and your point is...?

Posted by renato at May 21, 2004 04:02 PM
Which sums things up quite nicely, I think.

  Radically Inept, the original questions

Radically Inept started its journey with these questions:
1) Why aren't economists considered a subset of historians since they can always explain why the market/economy did something, but never seem to be able to predict with any accuracy what will happen to the market/economy in the future? � 1:38 AM

2) Why were Billy Carter and Roger Clinton issues, but no one mentions Neil Bush? � 1:35 AM

3) If cost savings are the primary purpose of outsourcing jobs, why don't corporations start by outsourcing the corporate executive salaries instead of the least cost workers? � 1:33 AM

4) Why do democrats think Hillary Clinton is electable to the presidency? � 1:32 AM

5) Where is Dick Cheney today? � 1:01 AM

6) Where is Ken Lay? If Baby Bush loses the election in November 2004, will he pardon Ken Lay on January 19th, 2005? � 1:00 AM

7) How much money is the Carlyle Group making on this war? Was oil a red herring, or was it planned to first make money on weapons sales, and then get the oil? � 12:58 AM "
And I'm no closer to answering them. 
  Lou Dobbs will have this, I'm sure

MaxSpeak, You Listen!'s titleis golden: "COLIN, BUSH, AND DICK ARE THREE OF THE CHAKRAS" for the piece, which sent me here: Bush election campaign ran from Noida call centre : HindustanTimes.com:
"The political split in the US over outsourcing notwithstanding, till very recently the fund-raising and vote-seeking campaign for the Republican Party was done partly out of India. And this was handled by two call centres located in our own friendly neighbourhood in Noida and Gurgaon.

For 14 months between May 16, 2002 and July 22, 2003, HCL BPO Services - the 100 per cent-owned subsidiary of Shiv Nadar-promoted HCL Technologies - had some 125 agents working in seven teams soliciting financial contributions for the Republican Party. US presidential elections are slated for November 2004."
Yay! Jobs!! Just not here. As Scott comments at MaxSpeak, "...[Wh]y does the GOP hate America so much?"

This won't play well in Ohio. 
  Scientific Fears Revisited.

I don't visit Chris C Mooney because I usually just get depressed. I follow enough science and policy that I know Chris is just reporting the truth. Sad.

Well, he links to one of his articles, False Objectivity in Science Reporting - Center for American Progress and depresses me yet again:
"Last week Sen. James Inhofe, a staunch conservative Republican from Oklahoma and chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, received an award for his support of 'rational, science-based thinking and policy-making.' This is the same Inhofe who has suggested that human-caused global warming is a 'hoax' - a fringe view that should hardly form the scientific basis for policy decisions. But no matter: Inhofe's award came from the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy, a group that received 80 percent of its funding from the National Association of Manufacturers as of 1997, according to a contemporary expose in the Wall Street Journal, and that today receives funding from ExxonMobil. For these guys, Inhofe is a regular Einstein.

The astonishing spectacle of Inhofe receiving a science award points to a disturbing truth of American politics today. Science is a highly partisan and politicized issue, and both sides in the climate debate claim scientific support for their positions. In fact, during last year's Senate debate over the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, Inhofe's arguments against the bill were as much scientific - or rather, pseudoscientific - as economic. You can hardly blame him: A wide range of industries, most notoriously tobacco, have realized that sowing doubt about science is a great way of preventing policy action. Given that scientific findings are never absolutely definitive and always open to subsequent revision, this game is almost too easy to play.
Unfortunately, many journalists have been slow in learning how to deal with the strategic manipulation of science to serve political ends. In fact, they're still hooked on an outmoded concept of 'objectivity' that science abusers regularly exploit to their own benefit."
Which is bad enough by itself, but he goes on to present his usual good case for quality media coverage on science, quality science for quality policy, and a more transparent process for both. And gives us this:
For example, in the past year both the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post have published op-eds by James Schlesinger, a former Secretary of Energy, Defense, and director of the CIA who has now taken to emphasizing the uncertainties of climate science (as a way of diminishing what scientists do know). In the Post, Schlesinger discussed limitations to the IPCC's analysis - a scientific critique launched not in a scientific journal but on an op-ed page. Indeed, when asked by Inhofe at a hearing to comment on Schlesinger's writings, University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann responded, "I am not familiar with any peer-reviewed work that he has submitted to the scientific literature."
But, that's really not the intent of his post. Rather, he is directing our attention to this (and, gives himself a plug in the process): Media Matters for America:
"Patrick J. Michaels is senior researcher in environmental studies at the Cato Institute; research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia; author of two books on global warming, The Satanic Gases and Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming; and editor of World Climate Report, a biweekly newsletter on climate studies funded in large part by the coal industry. According to a 1998 article by Institute for Public Accuracy executive director Noah Solomon, the Cato Institute has received financial support from energy companies -- including Chevron Companies, Exxon Company, Shell Oil Company, and Tenneco Gas, as well as the American Petroleum Institute, Amoco Foundation, and Atlantic Richfield Foundation. According to his bio on the Cato website, Michaels is a visiting scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute (GMI) in Washington, DC. The nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly calls the Marshall Institute 'a Washington-based think tank supported by industry and conservative foundations that focuses primarily on trying to debunk global warming as a threat.' According to an ExxonMobil report, the ExxonMobil Foundation donated $80,000 to the Marshall Institute's Global Climate Change Program in 2002."
And later this:
In his Washington Post opinion piece, Michaels attacked the science behind the new film; in the final eight paragraphs, he broadened the attack to a general critique of concerns about global climate change and efforts to address global warming concern through public policy. Michaels expressed hope that the movie would not undermine public support for President George W. Bush's energy policy in favor of more aggressive measures to control carbon emissions favored by Democrats. He concluded the article by citing the 1979 film The China Syndrome as an example of a pseudo-scientific film that influenced energy policy -- for the worse, in his opinion -- by souring the public on nuclear power, and then asked: "Did implausible fiction influence our national energy system? Democrats with their eye on the presidency are no doubt fervently hoping that it did."
Bet he hasn't heard of Chernobyl (maybe I'll find links to places of similar interest later).

See. Sad. We're deciding serious policy matters that directly affect the near and long term health of the American people. First principals. Government functions to provide for the health and security of its citizens. I thought. I've learned that business first principals include return on shareholder investment as second only to my annual bonus/raise and the cash I can pocket. How many companies restated earnings in the past few years? Including Fannie Mae?! That can't be allowed to happen. You can't let people with 'business ethics' decide government policy. They are not looking out for the citizen. It's not their job. Its not. At least not in the real world, here 'business ethics doesn't appear to function as 'ethical business'.

Still, it is also the point of credibility. How does the average citizen know the credibility of a news source? In fact, that should never be a question. The facts in a news story should be just that. But the citizen see more opinion than news. Most of what I've seen in the past few years is a trend to 'isn't this a nice story' or 'wow, wasn't that a bad thing', followed by the latest vacation trends and the hottest new gift items. But though the citizen might see through the obvious commercialism, they still have an expectation that the news presented is real. It has been researched. It can be trusted.

And, losing the fabric of social trust? Well, I think it better we stop the trend, rather than view the results. 
  The Water Drop Allegory

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal (2004): a Weblog has this post Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal which includes this:
It seems to me that this is not quite right. What the rightwinger needs to deny is the "original position"--everyone in their white robes not knowing who they are going to be sitting around arguing over institutions before they drink from the Lethe and descend to their places in their mothers' respective wombs--and its associated device of hypothetical consent. By denying that you ought to reason morally by putting yourself in an original position, you allow the redistributionists no handholds. And then your position--that what we have, we hold--becomes unassailable.
and proceeds to start a fairly good discussion on economics v philosophy v sociology. Anyway, it worth your time to read the post and the comments (which is often a rich source of info at the more thoughtful blogs), but in case you're not going to follow directions, I'm pasting my comment here:
When I was TA'ing a class on ethics and technology, I had my section divide up in to small groups and try Rawls' experiment for themselves. The result were pretty diverse and interesting, but my favorite was the group that started down the line of a meritocracy.

[Remember, this was like the only liberal arts class these soon to be engineers and chemists/physicists were required to take at Tech, so they truly had 'fresh' minds when approaching the subject matter.]

But, I really liked the meritocracy idea. too bad we didn't have enough class time to really pursue it and flesh it out. I mean, these kids didn't know enough about sociology, philosphy or economics to even know there was a box, much less confining their thinking to it.

As for redistribution? Well, if you ever watch a drop of water slowly form on the end of your tap, you'll notice at first, there is a great deal of movement in the droplet. Water seems to cycle around the forming bubble. As the droplet gets bigger and heavier, more of the water seems trapped in the bottom part of the droplet, and very little of the water at the bottom of the drop cycles up to the tap at the top. As the drop grows, the weight at the bottom narrows the amount of water at the top which is in contact with the tap. The bottom becomes so heavy, that the bond holding the droplet to the tap fails, and the whole droplet falls into the basin and breaks into many little droplets.

That's how I see the economy, anyway. If there's too much weight at the bottom, the top can't maintain a stable bond, and the whole thing collapses.

I just hope I start at the top in the next drop. [allegory in bold]
And, that is kind of the way I view social economics even if it isn't all that metaphysical.

[Note: Edited allegory @ 12:02pm]
  TomDispatch, Klein, and Classical Socialism, all in one post

Here's a pretty interesting look at Baby Bush' campaign travails from TomDispatch:
"No, actually, I'm not talking about the war in and occupation of Iraq; I'm talking about the juggernaut of an election campaign Karl Rove and friends planned at home against whatever scruffy Democrat might be raised up by that 'tax and spend' party of pathos. Their campaign would, as the President likes to say, 'test the character' of the Democratic enemy, which would naturally be found wanting. The President would remain way above the fray, resolutely, decisively taking care of the nation's tasks in difficult times, until he descended from the presidential heavens on New York City, that Big Apple, so badly tarnished on September 11th, 2001, and was renominated in enemy terrain with all the drama of a visit to pacified Baghdad. There, he would naturally replay -- and remind the American people of -- his triumphs, his victories in the 'war on terror' against the greatest backdrop on Earth, better even than the USS Abraham Lincoln on which he landed that jet just after Baghdad was taken. The Republicans, united to a man, would be 'on the offensive.' They would turn their individual wills into a cumulative will. And with their collective will to win, they would dominate. They would stomp.

The money was, of course, no problem, though, as in Iraq, it started to flow out far earlier and much faster than anyone in the campaign had ever imagined possible. It flowed in prodigious quantities into advertising in those increasingly aptly named 'battleground' states where the fight -- not so much against Senator Kerry, as against unknown forces ambushing the President from all sides -- had begun all too soon. And despite the multimillions spent and the copious images pixeled onto TV screens, the President's poll numbers kept dropping, not in relation to Senator Kerry but in relation to himself. He was, it seemed, battling his own past self, and somehow he was losing."
And, I think and hope that it's true. Further in Tom's Dispatch, he quotes Naomi Klein from ZNet | The Bush Doctrine: Thumbs Up, No Matter What:
"Some jobs, however, are more responsive than others to the power of positive presidential thinking. More than 82 per cent of the jobs created in April were in service industries, including restaurants and retail, while the biggest new employers were temp agencies. Over the past year, 272,00 manufacturing jobs have been lost. No wonder the President's Economic Report in February floated the idea of reclassifying fast-food restaurants as factories. "When a fast-food restaurant sells a hamburger, for example, is it providing a 'service' or is it combining inputs to 'manufacture' a product?" the report asks.

But not all of the job growth in the U.S. has come from burger flipping and temping. With more than 2-million Americans behind bars (one of the ways unemployment stats are kept artificially low), the number of prison guards has exploded - from 270,317 in 2000 to 476,000 in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Justice."
Which seems to answer the question I've been asking lately: where are all these new jobs? And the answer apparently, is exactly what I thought it would be. This does not bode well for Baby Bush' election (I guess you can't say re-election in this case), nor my job prospects. They go hand in hand...Sort of...I mean if I found a high paying job real soon, or won the lotto, I know my fortunes will have improved, but I don't think it increases Baby Bush' chance of getting my vote. So, never mind me, how about all those people now working for $2.15/hr plus tips waiting tables at the local Applebee's? Do you think their new found good fortune in having actually found a job, exceeds their disappointment in finding that financially, they still have to share an apartment with two roommates and hope the 'Yota goes another year w/o requiring major repairs? I mean, are they now Baby Bush voters?

Anyway, you should read TomDispatch and get the whole analysis.

Oh, and I'll go ahead and plug Naomi Klein's- No Logo. I found it a pretty good book and own a copy, but it appears that I just linked to an unauthorized, on-line version, with apologies to Naomi by the poster included. Oh, read enough to decide you whether you want to buy your own copy.

Besides, I think this is the first time I've linked to a self proclaimed 'classic socialist' - - Sozialistische Klassiker - Das linke online Text Archiv -, and it appears that the main site has an excellent collection of 'classic' economical and philosophical writings available for down load, including titles like Marx, Hegel, Trotzki, Jack London and Orwell to name a few. 
Thursday, May 20, 2004
  Surfing The Blogosphere Ecosystem

What a bizarre ride that was...Lot's of interesting stops...It started off benignly enough.

I just looked at the list of blogs on the list close to Radically Inept on the The Truth Laid Bear: The Blogosphere Ecosystem and saw this one:
Mental Masturbation. Well, I had to go check out a blog with a cool name like that. But from there I wandered here, Mind of Mog � Cat Fight, and found this, Mind of Mog � Argghhh!, which got me here, Welcome to Castle Argghhh! The Home Of One Of Jonah's Military Guys., which led to this, small dead animals: Dear Laura, which of course led here, small dead animals, but the surprise was here, ....kate's homepage.... because that led to this :

The Art Of The Airbrush

Which seems to me to be a pretty cool way to make a living. Oh, and pretty pictures. 
  Evolution rules! Wow, I evolved in the The Truth Laid Bear: The Blogosphere Ecosystem. I am now a proud Flippery Fish ranked at #5131, which means...I've got a long way to evolve ahead of me if I want this thing to be something. What, you may ask? I don't know for sure, but I'd settle for being popular with blog readers.

Oh, sort of related, I guess, I've learned to turn off the 'Sire Meter' for my visits, which has changed my daily visitor numbers (down, of course), but it is a more accurate reflection of activity. One of the interesting results has been watching the graphs change. Now the time zone chart is becoming more evenly distributed globally and doesn't reflect 75% of the readers coming from the US East-coast. And, my ISP/provider's share of the pie chart, as well as commercial domain visitor numbers have both dropped significantly, and provides a very different view of Radically Inept's readers. Kind of cool. 

Okay, I think maybe I've been a little remiss over the past few weeks in scanning through even the blogs I link to. There are so many, who write so much, that just trying to keep with these few is difficult. And then, I have to develop posts myself, which also takes time. And than there's that reality of life thing, since no one is paying my to do this, yet. Well, I finally went by Orcinus today, the first time in a little while, which becomes obvious when you see that I'm commenting on a post he made 15 days ago. Actually, I think I scanned it, found it interesting, but...Well, if you go over there now, his lead post is Freeing Lolita, which is an excellent piece in itself concerning the freeing of captured Orcas. I find our (human) treatment of most animals to be pretty sad, if not just immoral.

But the story I want to comment on here is Orcinus: The Media Revolt Manifesto which includes points like these:
1. The well-being of American democracy ultimately depends on a well-informed electorate. As such, the role of the media in keeping the public properly informed is not merely vital, it is sacred.

2. Over the past 20 years, American media have been in a state of serious decline insofar is it lives up to the responsibilities of this role:

-- Conglomeration and the increasing grip of monolithic corporatism has reduced the diversity of voices and viewpoints that are available to the public at all levels, from small local papers to major networks.

-- The rising dominance of television journalism has replaced serious journalism geared toward the public interest and policy with infotainment journalism that regards the value of stories almost solely for their ability to garner viewers through titillation, scandal-mongering and gore, while the perverse and demeaning cult of celebrity is elevated to the highest echelons.

-- The demise of the Fairness Doctrine has ensured that the public airwaves, controlled by a handful of conservatives given free rein to institute a hierarchy or self-interested propaganda, are now entirely the domain of right-wing ideologues who view defamation as entertainment and factuality and fairness as ratings death.

-- As a result of all these changes, reportage that remained vital to the public interest even though it may not have garnered strong bottom-line results -- especially investigative journalism, policy analysis, and international news -- became relegated to afterthought status."
And, if you read past Freeing Lolita, you will see a great number of bloggers have commented on the manifesto, and many of these comments are well worth your time as well.

The Synchronicity:
The synchronicity stems from the fact that for the past few weeks, I have been thinking in terms of a manifesto, though I'm thinking more of an information manifesto than a media manifesto, but manifesto none the less. Then, this morning when I was checking over at Drunken Monkey Style Blogging (damn, he has a lot of links - in fact, he is a blogging 'time' consumer), and got linked to DaveNet : Harvard case study on blogging: "Trent Lott and the bloggers
A milestone case study from the Shorenstein Center was released on Friday last week. It tells the story of Senator Trent Lott, (R-MS); his talk at Strom Thurmond's birthday party in December 2002, and how the news flowed through professional channels, to the blogosphere, and back, ultimately resulting in Lott's resignation as majority leader of the US Senate.

Shorenstein Center is part of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University."
. Here I followed the embedded link to "Big Media" Meets the "Bloggers":... whose written 'use' policy is severely, ironically, anti-blogger. You know, no part of this publication, yada, yada, yada, stored in a retrieval system, yada, yada, yada. And you can't copy and paste a paragraph or two from the .pdf file, and when you blog the page, they don't even have the decency to put the paper's title in the .html. But, it is synchronous event number two, since it falls right in with what Neiwert is talking about. Anyway, it is a recently released paper/study, I've only scanned it so far, but it looks pretty interesting if you're into blogging, or understanding the blogging phenomena.

Well, okay, I think I've forgot a couple of points of synchronicty, but I do want to get around to my point, and that is I view 'this thing of ours' a little differently. I see myself as living and surviving as a blogger, by this, I mean posting and having readers actually read the posts, by establishing credibility. I've posted on this, but not to any real depth.

Credibility. How do I decided to believe what you have written? One thing, I look at who you've cited, and see if your cites already established a credibility level w/ me. If not, I can start following the cites until I hit a point which establishes that cite's credibility. Then I go back to the blog and move on to the next cite. Or it could work like this, if I care enough about your argument to go through the effort. Now, over time, a particular blogger/source will develop a credibility rating w/ me. When I read MaxSpeak, You Listen!, Orcinus, Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal (2004): a Weblog, etc. they have a credibility rating after all this time, and usually only follow their cites if I want more info on the topic. Other blogs, like Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog. don't really need to establish credibility w/ me, because they are just good at satirizing on the stories I usually already know a great deal about.

Regardless, I think I have to establish my credibility with you. I can do that by providing you with good information, well presented (sometimes), well thought out (rarely) but importantly, you must feel that what I'm providing is worth your time and reflects my opinions. I am not here providing someone else's opinion as my own. I will cite opinions of others in either support of my own, or to provide contrast to my own opinions.

Sorry, I think I just got lost in writing disclaimer of my own.

Credibility. Made from credits. How does one earn credit? Through interactions with others. Hell, it dawns on me that I have a fairly lengthy piece on this over at Rogue Analyst - "Information Metric", though when I pasted this to the blog, I got a whole bunch of those squares and As w/ the boomerangs over them, and it does make it a little tedious to get through, and I probably should take the time to edit them out and replace them with the correct symbols. I will certainly make the time If I can figure out how to post my 'wu' symbol, which is a cursive style 'w' w/ a bar across the top. It sort of looks like a simple idiogram for a pair of well-endowed breasts. Might be why I chose it as a symbol for 'wu', since my concept of 'wu' as a metric for irrational judgements of credibility. I won't explain.

Back to the job hunt... 
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
  I remember the Army...

I remember the Army. I'm an Army Brat and for the first 30 years I remember the Army. I think there was a brief period, somewhere around '83, where I didn't have a dependent ID card. You don't know how much you rely on the ID until you lose it. But, worse is when you lose your right to the privileges it conveyed. So, I do remember the Army in 1971. I lived in 'Fayettenam' and new the term. I guess I was ten. It was a time when going to the 'Fort' was an event. Usually a shopping event, but it could be a Judo class or swim class, or just to hang out at the NCO club pool. There were alot of reasons for going on 'Post'. Oh, and Ft Bragg had the best 4th of July event and fireworks in NC, I'm sure. And rock and roll bands, and funk and country and etc...

And there was tension. Even at age ten you could pick up on it. Besides, the whole neighborhood was military. In hind site, it might only have been 30% percent of the household in La Grange Park, but it was military. I used to play on Chicken Road, and cross over into the army firing range to hunt brass, and get chased by motorcycle riding military police. I used to go to 'rattlesnake rock' and hunt frogs, and well, snakes. I used to here the artillery fire, and the sonic booms from planes heading to and from Pope Air force Base. I remember the Army, and the news on TV, and reading Art Buchwald, and having Christmas in November cause my Dad was going to Vietnam before Christmas. And, getting ready to go to West Berlin to live when he got back. I think I read my first Pogo then.

So, earlier I went from Brad DeLong's Webjournal to Crooked Timber: Comparisons to Vietnam, ye gods to Crooked Timber: Comparisons to Vietnam, ye gods and on a little link called 'here', found an excellent piece by Col. Robert D. Heinl, Jr., from the Armed Forces Journal, 7 June 1971
Heinl: "The Collapse of the Armed Forces" (1971). This is an excellent piece, but it brings back the memories really well. The racial tensions, the war protester who mis-packed my father's parachute to protest US involvement in Vietnam. After my Dad's incident, in which some how he came out un hurt when his chute was a streamer and he was never able to deploy his reserve. "Landed on the softest part of the land zone, and did a perfect fucking PLF (Parachute Landing Fall)." So, yeah I remember what he's talking about, and WE DON'T WANT TO GO BACK!
"In 1966, the Navy discharged 170 drug offenders. Three years later (1969), 3,800 were discharged. Last year in 1970, the total jumped to over 5,000.

Drug abuse in the Pacific Fleet--with Asia on one side, and kinky California on the other--gives the Navy its worst headaches. To cite one example, a destroyer due to sail from the West Coast last year for the Far East nearly had to postpone deployment when, five days before departure, a ring of some 30 drug users (over 10 percent of the crew) was uncovered.

Only last week, eight midshipmen were dismissed from the Naval Academy following disclosure of an alleged drug ring. While the Navy emphatically denies allegations in a copyrighted articles by the Annapolis Capitol that up to 12,000 midshipmen now use marijuana, midshipman sources confirm that pot is anything but unknown at Annapolis.

Yet the Navy is somewhat ahead in the drug game because of the difficulty in concealing addiction at close quarters abroad ship, and because fixes are unobtainable during long deployments at sea.

The Air force, despite 2,715 drug investigations in 1970, is in even better shape: its rate of 3 cases per thousand airmen is the lowest in the services.

By contrast, the Army had 17,742 drug investigations the same year. According to Col. Thomas B. Hauschild, of the medical Command of our Army forces in Europe, some 46 percent of the roughly 200,000 soldiers there had used illegal drugs at least once. In one battalion surveyed in West Germany, over 50 percent of the men smoked marijuana regularly (some on duty), while roughly half of those were using hard drugs of some type.

What these statistics say is that the Armed Forces (like their parent society) are in the grip of a drug pandemic--a conclusion underscored by the one fact that, just since 1968, the total number of verified drug addiction cases throughout the Armed Forces has nearly doubled. One other yardstick: according to military medical sources, needle hepatitis now poses as great a problem among young soldiers as VD.

At Ft. Bragg, the Army's third largest post, adjacent to Fayetteville, N.C. (a garrison town whose conditions one official likened to New York's "East Village" and San Francisco's "Haight-Ashbury") [and which soldiers called "Fayettenam"--DF] a recent survey disclosed that 4% (or over 1,400) of the 36,000 soldiers there are hard-drug (mainly heroin and LSD) addicts. In the 82nd Airborne Division, the strategic-reserve unit that boasts its title of "America's Honor Guard", approximately 450 soldier drug abusers were being treated when this reporter visited the post in April. About a hundred were under intensive treatment in special drug wards."
I remember we had this trailer in the parking lot of the PX, and it was a head shop. Really. It had incense burning, blacklight posters (my first), cool hippie digs (my brother bought this really cool, long leather fringed vest), and there wasn't anything like that off post.

But, that is just some of the problems with the military of the time that he points to in this piece, and those just happen to ring true and hit home. But there's alot there about fragging
"They have set up separate companies," writes an American soldier from Cu Chi, quoted in the New York Times, "for men who refuse to go into the field. Is no big thing to refuse to go. If a man is ordered to go to such and such a place he no longer goes through the hassle of refusing; he just packs his shirt and goes to visit some buddies at another base camp. Operations have become incredibly ragtag. Many guys don't even put on their uniforms any more.... The American garrison on the larger bases are virtually disarmed. The lifers have taken our weapons from us and put them under lock and key.... There have also been quite a few frag incidents in the battalion."
And crime, incompetent leadership,...Yeah, it's the Army I remember. I didn't understand the severity of it at the time, but yeah, remember.

And this is what I'm scared of, really, of our involvement in Iraq. The ideals are so tarnished, and they won't hold water very much longer in any circle, and then what? The Army worked hard to transform and transition itself in the '80s, and succeeded in doing a fair job. Hell, in comparison to '71, they did a great job! But it was costly in many ways. We don't want to repeat the disintergration of an Army. It's not pretty.

I remember the last time. 
  MaxSpeak, You Listen!: GET ON THE BUS, GUS Woo Hoo.MaxSpeak, Congress listens.. Well sort of. But he does a good job of teaching the concept of Marginal Costs in "MaxSpeak, You Listen!: GET ON THE BUS, GUS:
"Similarly, the bus company operators reflected outrage that their local governments would pre-empt their own business ambitions. They too wanted the Big Fed Gov to come down like a corporativist ton of bricks.

It remained for MaxSpeak to hold high the banner of communist-libertarianism. We said the Federal government had no business telling Sacramento how to do bus service unless they were using buses to run over Christians, and that as far as economic efficiency is concerned, governments are perfectly well-advised to consider creating monopolies that run private busines firms into the ground. There is no economic reason to automatically afford a business firm a contracting opportunity.

The Amador owner characterized transit agencies as 'predators,' desiring the extermination of private operators. Ha ha. Of course Adam Smith pointed out that business persons desire the annihiliation of their competitors, including public ones we would add.

The potential merits of a government monopoly go to whether it does what people want at acceptable cost. Acceptable means not excessive and better than alternatives, including contractors. Usually, cost narrowly considered is an inadequate basis for judging who should do the work. Public services differ from private ones.

Even so, evidence on higher costs is less real than it might appear. Some of the cost studies employ a controversial model known as 'fully allocated costs' (FAC). Under FAC, the marginal cost of a specific activity is supplemented by some proportion of the agency's fixed cost. Fixed cost is what you need to spend before you can provide one unit of service output, or serve one customer. Marginal cost is what you spend by producing that unit, or save by not doing so.

In research, long-run FAC comparisons of public v. private often favor the contractor. Short-run MC comparisons favor government."
I think local government needs to keep as much flexibility as they can in issues like these. What happens in the event that things change? And they will. Sacramento, and the citizens there of, should be able to make a decision on a topic like this, far better that any federal govt including ours'. 
  News from Chocolate Morphine

I've commented previously about Bob Edwards here, Bob Edwards? Gone form the airwaves?
. And I'm sure I've posted my feelings about NPR and Newt before, but I can't seem to find that particular post.

Regardless, Chocolate Morphine sent this missive into Inept HQ (though I've done a little editing).
"Bob was being interviewed on local radio and I happened to flip over during one of NPR’s underwriter [spots] (read commercial) and they said if you have a question for Bob call in, I was the first. I asked him (as he had earlier spoken about news becoming an entertainment, profit, venture as opposed to real news) about what Newt had done in gutting the funding for public broadcasting and the increasing underwriting that they all lean on now… Bob replied basically saying, 'yep, Newt had done that and as we all know had his head handed to him for various reasons and has since sited NPR as a source and even has a coffee mug.' Anyway, he’s speaking at Oglethorpe University tonight as part of his book tour. I was later admonished as the previous caller asking such a serious question… oh well.
Damn, how dare you ask a serious question on a Commercial Rock and Roll radio station? What were you thinking? This is a station proud of its banality. It knows its listeners are demographically morons, and you go and ask a serious question? You're lucky they didn't DF your position and send out the attack dogs.

Anyway, I do hold Newt personally accountable for what I consider a steady decline in quality at both NPR and PBS.

  The argument against Tort Reform

I've never liked the idea of Tort Reform as I've heard it argued. All it seems to guarantee is that Joe/Jane Average Citizen will have no chance at redress from corporate malfeasance and other activities. And, The Gadflyer: Ammo Dump does a good job of presenting the arguments. Here's one:
Argument: What kind of system do we have when a woman who spills her coffee can sue for millions from McDonald's? Frivolous lawsuits are out of control.
Response: First, let's deal with the McDonald's story, since it's such a staple of the tort reformer's arsenal. Before that suit, McDonald's used to heat their coffee to over 180 degrees, just short of boiling. The 79-year-old woman in question got third-degree burns from the coffee, requiring skin grafts. She asked for the relatively modest sum of $20,000 from McDonald's. The corporation refused to settle. With no other options, she pursued the lawsuit and won. She was awarded $160,000 in compensatory damages. The jury also awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages, due to the fact that McDonald's policy was to heat their coffee to a level that was far too hot to drink and would cause severe burns if it came in contact with human skin, a fact of which they admitted they had been aware for more than ten years (hundreds of people had been burned by McDonald's coffee, and a number had filed suit before).

And what happens to truly frivolous lawsuits – like the one in which a woman sued McDonald's for making her fat? They get thrown out of court. When a jury comes up with an outrageously large judgment, it gets reduced on appeal. The system is easily able to handle it.

So the question is, does a frivolous lawsuit that will get thrown out of court anyway so offend you that you're willing to deny everyone the right to sue even when they have legitimate claims?
Anyway, thanks to pandagon.net - half the age, twice the smart for directing me there. 
  How did I get this email?

I received an email from "Eric Smith" {thank you Eric}. At first I was hesitant to post his info w/o contacting him for permission as a courtesy.
I should do something with this page, but then I found this Clockwatching.net, which appears to be his very own web site and includes this info:
"Eric A. Smith is a freelance journalist, editor and IT instructor living in Tokyo, Japan. An activist for over 25 years, he has worked with such diverse publications as the RTP Beacon, Common Ground and Adbusters magazine.

Smith is currently volunteering to assist Bev Harris of Blackboxvoting.org, Attorney Phillip Berg in 9-11 widow Ellen Mariani's RICO suit against Bush, et al, and is a charter member of the Open Voting Consortium.

Smith earned his BA at the University of North Carolina in 1992, and holds MCP, field service technician, A+ and Network+ certifications from Microsoft, COMPTIA and the Control Data Institute.

He can be reached for comment at 81-03-3959-5371 or snowdog@juno.ocn.ne.jp"
So, I'm guessing he won't mind this post. And it still leaves a little mystery, but it might also clear one up. I get hits from Japan on a fairly regular basis, so it may be Eric, and that could explain my popularity in Japan. On the other hand, I don't know why he'd email me the info he did. I can only wonder if Eric and I have met before? Regardless, I think the info is worth posting here, though I'm not sure of the proper etiquitte for inclusion, nor have I vetted the info, yet. But it does play right into my don't trust our government mindset, so, in the risk that Eric is not going to appreciate this (though he might, or might not care), I am going to paste the entire contents below:
Terrorist mastermind Zarqawi has announced his name but hidden his face. The CIA has said it is indeed Zarqawi, but he appears to be reading his own speech from a paper.

The person holding the knife -- allegedly Zarqawi -- has a Black hood at the video's beginning, but there is an edit (the camera time signatures change) and the knifeholder is then wearing a WHITE hood (and no bulletproof vest).

You'll also find the following oddities in the heavily edited video, which was heavily edited, presumably in a lab or on a pc:

WM-----|-----Video Clock-----|-----Screen Shot
0:00 ---|--- nothing ---|-------Arabic letters
0:05 ---|--- 13:26:24 ---|--- Nick Berg speaking
0:09 ---|---- 2:18:33 ---|--- Nick Berg sitting
0:20 ---|---- 2:40:33 ---|--- Speech in Arabic
4:36 ---|---- 2:44:56 ---|--- Speaker pushes Berg over
4:38 ---|--- 13:45:48 ---|--- Decapitation begins
4:43 ---|--- 13:45:52 ---|--- Picture lost
4:44 ---|--- 13:45:59 ---|--- Picture returns, decapitation continues

So, if we are to assume the timestamps of the two (?) cameras are accurate, this means Berg was beheaded at 13:47:49 (1:47) but at 2:44, nearly an hour later, he is sitting with his head intact.

Zarqawi has also been reported to have an artificial leg; this is definitely not apparent in the video. Nor is his Jordanian accent, according to experts. Also note the gold ring on the "sinister" (toilet-using) hand -- a definite no-no for muslims.

Then there's US consulate Beth A. Payne's emails to Berg's family saying their son was in "US military custody" for 13 days:

April 1, 1:26 a.m. (To Michael Berg, Berg's father)
I have confirmed that your son, Nick, is being detained by the U.S. military in Mosul. He is safe. He was picked up approximately one week ago. We will try to obtain additional information regarding his detention and a contact person you can communicate with directly.

April 1, 5:23 a.m. (To Suzanne Berg, Berg's mother)
I have been able to confirm that your son is being detained by the U.S. military. I am attempting to identify a person with the U.S. military or FBI here in Iraq who you can contact directly with your questions.

And, according to CNN, Berg himself had contacted a friend -- Chilean reporter Hugo Infante -- saying he was in US custody:

The US Administration denies this, saying he was in Mosul Iraqi police custody, BUT "...police chief Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair al-Barhawi in Mosul insisted his department had never arrested Berg and said he had no knowledge of the case. ''The Iraqi police never arrested the slain American,'' al-Barhawi told reporters. ''Take it from me ... that such reports are baseless.''

And of course there are the American orange prisoner jumpsuit and white plastic chair and yellow walls which appear in the video -- exactly as they do at Abu Ghraib, the now-notorious site of the American torture of Iraqi POWs:

Next, the hosting website was reported to be in Malaysia, but was discovered to actually located in London:

Says Jackblood.com, which ran a trace:
"...www.al-asnar.net and www.al-asnar.biz have apparently been disabled by 'authorities.' ...the publishers for these sites are located in London, England and Nurnberg, Denmark.

"The addresses began to disappear from the internet listings as we reported this development on The Power Hour Radio Show. Apparently, "Big Brother"; had been listening to the show and didn't like the news at all. The location of the publishers for al-ansar.net appears to be at an Arab Press Building, which appears to be shared by different Arab newspublications. The name of the organization is the Arab Press House. Thebuilding is apparently the headquarters for news magazines such as, AlJamilla, Sayidaty, and Al Majallah among others.

The London address is the following:
Arab Press House
Abdel Rahman al-Rashed
184 High Holborn, WCIV78P, London
tel. 020 78318181

The other address is located in Nurnberg, Denmark. It apparently belongs to a man named Omar AbuOmar. His email address is:alansar_alansar@hotmail.com .

The complete mailing address is the following:
Omar AbuOmar
New Dream St. 33
Nurnberg, Denmark, 42114
Phone: +965.15441211
Email: alansar_alansar@hotmail.com

...these same websites (www.al-asnar.net and www.al-asnar.biz) were the ones that posted the latest Bin Laden audio recording, weeks ago. Despite knowing the website addresses, and potentially the addresses of their respective publishers, the CIA, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security did not make any apparent efforts to monitor the websites for uploaded files or internet traffic. Therefore, no arrests were made."

Next, the AK-47 carried by one of the men is a "Gilal" -- an Israeli weapon that improves on the AK- 47. Feyadeen and other insurgents almost universally use AK-47s. The man in the left of the video is standing in the American military stance known as "parade rest", and several of the apparent terrorists are wearing white tennis shoes ad bulletproof vests.

At frame 13:46:27, there is an edit and a person with a white ear and a green cap is seen entering from the right. Then the video is re-edited.

Matt Drudge reports that "The statement in the video was signed off with Zarqawi's name and dated 11 May" , but Berg's body was reported found on May 10th -- the day before the video was apparently made!

Pay attention. This one is definitely a setup.

More details here:Nick Berg Video : detailed breakdown - Forums powered by Reason and Principle
Okay, like I said I haven't vetted this, but now I have a reason to go over to Drunken Monkey Style Blogging and watch the 'Lest We Forget' Nick Berg death video, and decide for yourself if it makes any sense at all.

So, thanks Eric, hope you're not offended.

I've gotta go let my white dog in. She's such a pain in the ass that though her name is Friday, we often refer to her as PITA (pain in the ass). It doesn't matter to her, she's deaf. Yeah, I have a white, deaf pit bull. Turns out deafness is common in white dogs/animals. I love her, even if she is a PITA. 
  The Ecology I Expect

In contrast to the optimism of the post below, comes this vision of current reality. Via Center For Public Environmental Oversight newsletter comes this News, "Bush holds his summit amid the toxic waste sites:
Georgia beauty spot chosen by President for G8 summit lies along one of America's most polluted stretches of coast", by Michael Williams in Sea Island, Georgia and Geoffrey Lean:
"President George Bush is to bring leaders of the world's richest to Sea Island next month to showcase his 'environmental stewardship'.

But the island - the most beautiful of the sub-tropical Golden Isles off the Georgia coast - is in one of the most polluted areas of the American South. Glynn County, which contains Sea Island - the site of next month's G8 summit - is home to 16 hazardous waste plants.

A nearby polluting paper mill is being closed down while the leaders of the world's richest countries, including Tony Blair, are in the neighbourhood.

Of the 16 hazardous waste sites within 10 miles of the island, four are so contaminated they have been designated for government treatment programmes. They include a tidal creek and landfill dump full of a banned pesticide; a former chemical factory that dumped toxic mercury in local creeks; and a defunct wood preservatives factory.

Before the clean-up began, shrimpers used to dock their boats in one of the creeks so the pollution would kill the barnacles on their hulls.

The most visible sign of pollution is the Hercules factory, emblemised by its two tall stainless steel chimneys gorging large clouds of vapour over the causeway leading to Sea Island. Its smell - a cocktail of glue and stewed cabbage - hangs like a pall.

The factory makes a variety of things, including paper and resin products, but the G8 leaders won't smell it, since it will be closed down during their stay for "holidays".

The locals are resigned to it. Emerson Gay, a retired policeman, says: "Some folks say the smell is the smell of money, which is why it's lasted so long. At least the stuff they're burning in it now is not as nasty as it was."

But the summit - and George Bush's boasts - are unlikely to make things much better. Virtually none of the millions spent on the G8 will find its way into environmental projects. On the road approach to Sea Island last week they were busy stuffing in mature palm trees and erecting quaint lighting. But there isn't much else."
And, I just got news from somewhere that congress is trying to let the dept of energy to leave nuclear waste material along the Savanah River in SC, just North of Sea Island. Ahhhh, the ecological conservation of Baby Bush and Co. It makes me proud.

Updated: 10:31am

The very next piece of mail I look at, also from Center For Public Environmental Oversight has a link to IEER | The Savannah River at Grievous Risk, which is the information I was referring to above, so for your reading pleasure:

Takoma Park, Maryland, May 17, 2004: A new analysis by the Institute for
Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) concludes that a Senate budget
amendment allowing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to abandon highly
radioactive wastes in tanks next to the Savannah River poses severe
risks for the environment and public health. DOE wants to attempt to
grout, or cement, residual wastes in place rather than spend additional
funds to pump them out.

According to IEER President, Dr. Arjun Makhijani, "Calculations show
that if only ten percent of the strontium-90 presently in the tank farms
at the Savannah River Site were left behind and grouted, the grout would
have to work nearly perfectly for hundreds of years to prevent the
Savannah River from becoming polluted above the present Safe Drinking
Water limit. There is no experience with grout that can allow
containment projections of this magnitude. On the contrary, experience
with grout so far has been unsatisfactory.

Leakage of even a small fraction of the strontium-90 at Savannah River
Site (SRS) into the Savannah River could be disastrous, environmentally
and economically.

"In 1991, major economic damage occurred when the drinking water
standard for the Savannah River was exceeded for only a few days due to
a tritium leak," Makhijani noted, "even though the standard is
calculated as an annual average and there was no annual violation."
That should help make Sea Island an even bigger magnet for wealthy people. On the bright side, at least the wealthy can afford to have their drinking water trucked in. 
  A eco positive vision of our future

From TomDispatch comes: "The Froggy Love-Tunnel Vision Quest
By Chip Ward
Imagine America in 2104. From the air, what you see is a largely unbroken, green, and fluid realm with graceful and permeable natural boundaries -- all those geometric grids we were so used to faded away when we tapped out too many aquifers before we switched over to sustainable farming. There are still dams, but only a few. Water is stored the way nature stores it in regenerated wetlands, recharged aquifers, and along recovered flood plains that are also refuges for wildlife. The restored river valleys also serve as corridors for cougars, wolves, and bears moving between huge habitat reserves that are spread from one end of the continent to the other. In the Northwest, salmon teem in pristine streams that also provide clean drinking water for nearby cities. On Midwestern plains on a great, restored, natural 'commons,' the buffalo roam again. Across a mostly rural continent, the howling of wolves can sometimes be heard at night."
It's is a good dispatch, and you should read it for yourself. It is a positive vision, and what Ward writes makes some sense.

I'm just scared because it requires Americans to become more 'aware' and that doesn't appear likely. And it would require some honesty from our government on the actual causes and costs of pollution, and I've not seen much that supports the idea that our government tells the truth to each other, much less tell the truth to the 'people'. But, it is indeed a hopeful vision, and one that I would like us to pursue. Before it's too late, would be a good too. 
  Yesterday, the really bad tech day

Just a quick bitch about tech. Yesterday I had problems accessing the internet, it seemed slow all over. Then I couldn't access this blog, the site meter, or any of the sites hosted by blogger. Then I got some weird virus/worm/something that seized control of my key board until I re-booted the computer. Then I noticed that at least two, I think three, posts disappeared from the blog yesterday. And finally, a single post wound up posting four times {I've deleted three of them}.

So, I'm hoping for a better day today.

I'm still miffed about losing those posts, though. 
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
  Okay, now something is missing.

This morning I made a really good post called 'News from the 'Hood'. It's gone. I remember shortly after I posted it, it seemed all of blogger had gone down. At least those sites tied to blogger.com. I couldn't even access this web site for, well, I don't actually know for how much time, but at least twenty minutes, say.

And now I see that my first post disappeared. And, come to think of it, I know I posted a couple of more pieces. Short ones. They're gone. Vanished into the aether that is the? Well, anyway, I'll spend a few minutes in the morning seeing if I can somehow recover them, but...They're gone...

Okay, wierd things are happening again...Now I can't post this post. 
  Screw teaching, I want to spend money to become a Motivational Speaker

Thanks to Drunken Monkey Style Blogging for this nice little link: Motivational Speaking - Become a Motivational Speaker - Motivational Speaking Jobs - Professional Speaking - Career as Speaker. Please note, you can't copy and paste text, i.e. quotes. Yes, I apologize in advance to any reader who is moronic enough to send these people money.

"Industry secrets, Inside tips" my ass. If you want a business plan, start your own web site promoting a book on tips on how to get rich. In the meantime, scout the web, cut and paste garbage platitudes from CEOs, call it a book, and deliver that when the orders for the book comes in.

Oh, did I mention that I have an Uncle in Zambewe that has a fortune tied up in foreign banks? And if you would provide me your financial data, I'll have them forward CHOOSE ONE: $5 million dollars,

Wow, just got hit by something like a virus, maybe

I was in the midst of the comment above when the keyboard went dead. I looked down and noticed an odd icon in my tray. It looked like a 'stop watch', though a somewhat crude rendering, and Symantecs Norton's icon had disappeared. When my curser drifted over the icon (the curser kept working), a label came up saying "FilterKeys", and I could not right click on it.

I ran SpyBot - Search and Destroy, but came up clean. Called a buddy to see if there was any word out on this virus, and he said the chatrooms seemed dead. Well, he's the techie guru, and he said try turning off and on the computer. Geez, the only thing worse than starting with that old trick is that it seems to have worked. The Icon of Death is gone, and obviously, I'm using my keyboard. However, I pose this is a warning, but also, if you should suddenly find no new postings at Radically Inept, well, the stop watch may have struck again, or still. I'm getting ready to shut down for the night, and I'll run a Norton's check with the latest update. Hope for the best.

For those interested: Spybot - Search & Destroy - Reviews and free downloads at Download.com 
  A teacher? High school? Yeah, I guess so

I think I've pretty much finished the on-line portion of the application procedures for the county school system, now I have to get through the state stuff. But it appears that Georgia has made it easy for career changers to start teaching while pursuing educational certification.

I hadn't ever considered teaching below college level before, and hadn't thought much about that until I was a teacher's assistant at Tech for two semesters. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience, so we'll see. I'm sort of thinking of shooting for middle school where you tend to have the same students most of the day, but teaching poli sci or history or something at the high school level could prove to be fun. I used to be real good at math. I was even on the high school math team, but I think a couple of less than stellar math teachers in trig and geometry killed the career of a brilliant mathematician. Or, it just got beyound me.

Anyway, I'm getting a little excited about trying it, and I hope I like it. One thing a career in teaching definitely does, is allow the teacher a whole lot of geographical flexibility in deciding where they want to live and work. Don't be surprised that if I truly enjoy teaching, that I talk the Wife into selling the house and moving up into the North Georgia mountains, and teaching in a system up there, away from the Atlanta traffic. Or somewhere away from the Atlanta traffic. I may not be a farmer or a hermit (though the Wife and I seem to have a pre-disposition for the latter), but I've pretty much decided I don't like huge sprawling cities based on suburban land use plans. And, I kind of would like to see the Milky Way once in a while.

Back to teaching. It doesn't appear "to pay all that well, but you're also not putting in the 60 - 80 work weeks that are often required in 'salaried' jobs, and there is significant vacation time built in. The Employee Benefits look pretty good, I especially like the look of the retirement plan:
Teachers Retirement Plan: DeKalb's Teachers Retirement Plan is one of the best in the nation with 9.25% of salary paid by the DeKalb Board of Education with teachers contributing only 5%.
That's a pretty hefty contribution by the county.

Well, I got some other stuff I want to post before I head to Manuel's Tavern for the Tuesday Democratic Town Hall in Exile Night, so... 
Monday, May 17, 2004
  Fafblog! For when you realize someone farted in the box, and you need someone to punch airholes in the side

I sorta of meant what I said, but let me tightin' up the link, but main link is: Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog.: "How to get out of Iraq: A Fafblog Special Series" and, oh, here read all above, for three posts, this How to get out of Iraq: A Fafblog Special Series, which includes the immortal lines:

Yknow this is the time during your standard drawn out occupation when people start talkin about 'blah blah exit strategies' and 'bloobity bloobity peace with honor.' So here at Fafblog we are each gonna make a bold an excitin proposal about how the US can get itself out of the predicament, the difficult or precarious situation, the land with a soft muddy surface it finds itself in with Iraq.

Giblets goes first because he has the bow tie with the least amount of Buddha nature, I go last because I have the bow tie with the most amount of Buddha nature, and the Medium Lobster goes in the middle because his bow tie transcends Buddha nature."
I still owe everyone a follow up to the buddhist post below, but know in true PC ineptness, I owe comments on catholics, pagans, jews (zionist v non-zionist), church of god, 7th day adventists (which, I don't remember the significance, but I know I should), baptists, all of ya'll... 
  Kynn lied.. I thought only jbc lied.

Anyway, it turns out, that Kynn really can't get past his blogging addiction. It's pretty sad. Proudly announce you are leaving the field of battle, and then just to lack the personal conviction to able to sheath the sword.. Sad...But, here is Shock and Awe, still, if certainly not back. Just missed that whole re-incarnation thing, and certainly not a re-surrection. Still, a sort of leftist, pacifist, christian voice will help confuse the mix some more.

Well, glad you're still here, Kynn, and I guess I'll start stopping back by. 
  A Time for Truth - by Pat Buchanan

Also via lies.com, comes this startling piece, 'A Time for Truth - by Pat Buchanan:
"The neoconservative hour is over. All the blather about 'empire,' our 'unipolar moment,' 'Pax Americana' and 'benevolent global hegemony' will be quietly put on a shelf and forgotten as infantile prattle.

America is not going to fight a five- or 10-year war in Iraq. Nor will we be launching any new invasions soon. The retreat of American empire, begun at Fallujah, is underway.

With a $500 billion deficit, we do not have the money for new wars. With an Army of 480,000 stretched thin, we do not have the troops. With April-May costing us a battalion of dead and wounded, we are not going to pay the price. With the squalid photos from Abu Ghraib, we no longer have the moral authority to impose our 'values' on Iraq.

Bush's 'world democratic revolution' is history."
And, like jbc, I always find it interesting when I agree with Pat Buchanan. And often times I find his data credible whether or not I agree with the issue. Anyway, I hope he's right on this. Another nice find for lies.com 
  Strangelets. Science has, at least verbally, gotten far more fun

Via lies.com is a link to Telegraph | Earth punctured by tiny cosmic missiles:
"Formed in the Big Bang and inside extremely dense stars, strangelets are thought to be made from quarks - the subatomic particles found inside protons and neutrons. Unlike ordinary matter, however, they also contain 'strange quarks', particles normally only seen in high-energy accelerators.

Strangelets - sometimes also called strange-quark nuggets - are predicted to have many unusual properties, including a density about ten million million times greater than lead. Just a single pollen-size fragment is believed to weigh several tons.

They are thought to be extremely stable, travelling through the galaxy at speeds of about a million miles per hour. Until now, all attempts to detect them have failed. A team of American scientists believes, however, that it may have found the first hard evidence for the existence of strangelets, after scouring earthquake records for signs of their impact with Earth.

The team, from the Southern Methodist University in Texas, analysed more than a million earthquake reports, looking for the tell-tale signal of strangelets hitting Earth."
See, you let scientists have a little range in naming things, i.e., no more emphasis on latin, and latitude to use moderns terms, and science just starts to sound fun. Strangelets. I don't know, but all that comes to my mind right now is Dr. Strangelove, the whole cast, including those not named Peter Sellers. Sounds about right, don't you think? 
  Nuclear weapons suck

Chocolate Morphine brought this to my attention: PSR Security Action Network Action Center:
"Congress is about to vote on key nuclear weapons programs in the Defense Authorization bill. Congress will mark up the Defense Authorization bill during the second half of May. The Defense Authorization bill may reach the floor of the Senate around the end of May and the House at about the same time. These dates may slip into early June. In June and July votes on specific spending items will occur in the Energy & Water Appropriations bill. The President has requested the highest budget for nuclear weapons since the all-time record set under President Reagan during the Cold War. Congress needs your support to cut this radical program of offensive nuclear capabilities and cut the nuclear weapons budget. These programs send a clear 'do as I say, not as I do' message to the rest of the world and threaten to undermine the nation's attempts to stem the world's appetite for weapons of mass destruction."
Come on. This has got to stop. These weapons don't make sense in the long term no matter what side of the equation you are on. Here's a fairly centrist group that does a great job of laying out the same argument I'd use, About NTI, and check-out who's on the roster, NTI: Board of Directors.

Oh, also fromPSR Security Action Network Action Center, this might be worth a look, too: New Nuclear Weapons & Strategy: "These developments come in three papers issued by the Bush administration: the Nuclear Posture Review [Excerpts], The National Security Strategyand the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction."

Anyway, I think the only way you can be pro-nuke war is to seriously discount some huge 'externalities', and hell we can't control the worlds' supply of the old stuff, how in the hell are we going to prevent others from doing the same. Our history of protecting nuclear secrets is well away from stellar in it's brilliance, and might be suffering from 'global dimming'
  Job hunt time

I've got several things I'll comment on later, but right now, I need go over all this info on getting certified to teach here in Dekalb County. This is truly the part of the process that I hate: Paper work. And it seems like, with the government, anywhere in the government, there is always more paper work.

  Still, science, but,...

I sort of wanted make a comment on this one. The New York Times > Science > Globe Grows Darker as Sunshine Diminishes 10% to 37%:
"Defying expectation and easy explanation, hundreds of instruments around the world recorded a drop in sunshine reaching the surface of Earth, as much as 10 percent from the late 1950's to the early 90's, or 2 percent to 3 percent a decade. In some regions like Asia, the United States and Europe, the drop was even steeper. In Hong Kong, sunlight decreased 37 percent.

No one is predicting that it may soon be night all day, and some scientists theorize that the skies have brightened in the last decade as the suspected cause of global dimming, air pollution, clears up in many parts of the world.

Yet the dimming trend - noticed by a handful of scientists 20 years ago but dismissed then as unbelievable - is attracting wide attention. Research on dimming and its implications for weather, water supplies and agriculture will be presented next week in Montreal at a joint meeting of American and Canadian geological groups.

'There could be a big gorilla sitting on the dining table, and we didn't know about it,' said Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at the University of California, San Diego. 'There are many, many issues that it raises.'"
Yeah, and I'll confess that this is the first I've heard of 'global dimming' raised as an issue. Kind of makes sense, that it would raise a great deal of issues, and pretty damn significant ones even if the rate is the much lower rate:
Dr. Beate G. Liepert, a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, has analyzed similar information and arrives at a smaller estimate of the dimming than Drs. Stanhill and Cohen. Dr. Liepert puts it at 4 percent from 1961 to 1990, or 1.3 percent a decade. "It's a little bit the way you do the statistics," she said.
Yeah, and it is all about how you do the statistics, and that's why I'll reserve any judgement until I get a little more info. And I'm a little puzzled by the closing:
But clearer, sunnier days could mean bad news for global warming. Instead of cloudiness slowing rising temperatures, sunshine would be expected to accelerate the warming.
Does that mean I should crank the fireplace, idle the car up, and burn my lawn clippings? Probably not; probably I'd bet on this being one mean wicked problem if the rate of change in light fall is as cited. 
  Science Monday
Yeah, it's science Monday, and it's actually happening on a Monday. Mark your calendars.

As usual, most of what comes below I found following links in my KurzweilAI.net newsletter.

The Parallel Universe Home Detection Kit *batteries not included

A Home Test for Parallel Universes
by Sam Sachdev
"Why, you may be wondering, if thereis a detectable parallel universes around us, why don't we detect, or notice it, more often? David Deutsch writes, the answer, "...can be found in the quantum-mechanical laws that govern them." Every particle, for instance, has counterparts in other universes and is only interfered with only by those counterparts. Any other universe, therefore, can only be detected when the particle in, say, our universe converges with its counterpart in another universe. The path of the particle and its counterpart have to be exactly right. They have to separate and join together again, as in this experiment, and the timing has to be right. If there's a delay in the particles or any interference, the particles won't converge. Also, a parallel universe is only detectable between universes that are very alike. In short, because these events are extremely rare, so is the detection of parallel universes is difficult.

It should be added that most physicists disagree with Deutsch's conclusion that what is detected in this experiment is another universe. For brevity's sake, the argument against can be summarized as, there is something interfering with the light in this experiment, why does it have to be a parallel universe? Why can't it be just be left to something that we don't yet understand?

If you're interested in how Deutsch answers his critics, I recommend the "The Fabric of Reality" for his answers and reasoning."
Well as long as I can use shadow money to pay the taxes in the alternate universes,...I'm not sure what I think, but I do have a basement and a laser pointer, so I guess I'll at least see if it works as laid out.

Happiness is a warm gun-toting robot
Wired 12.05: VIEWasks us this quetion:
"The prospect of autonomous weapons naturally raises ethical questions. Who is to be held morally accountable for an unmanned war crime? Are machines permitted to give orders? In a world of networked minefields and ever-smarter bombs, are we blundering into mechanized killing fields we would never have built by choice?"
And includes this cute tidbit:
"Frontier number four is social: human reaction to the troubling presence of the humanoid. Sony created a major success with its dog-shaped Aibo, but the follow-up may never reach consumers. The new product, known as the Qrio, is technically good to go and would be hopping off shelves in the Akihabara district right now - except for one hitch. The Qrio is a human-shaped, self-propelled puppet that can walk, talk, pinch, and take pictures, and it has no more ethics than a tire iron.

In his 1950 classic, I, Robot, Isaac Asimov first conceived of machines as moral actors. His robots enjoy nothing better than to sit and analyze the ethical implications of their actions. Qrio, on the other hand, knows nothing, cares nothing, and reasons not one whit. Improperly programmed, it could shoot handguns, set fire to buildings, and even slit your throat as you sleep before capering into a crowded mall to detonate itself while screaming political slogans. The upshot is that you're unlikely to be able to buy one anytime soon."
That's what the world needs, a million programable 'Chucky' dolls. Sleep well...

This is for the Pacifier
The New York Times > How It Works: Building Character, Wrinkle by Wrinkle, in a 3-D World:
When normal mapping is used, game artists can first create a richly detailed model - a hero's dimpled face and wrinkled clothing, say, or a bullet-riddled prison wall - by using millions of polygons, the basic construction elements of a video game. Then special software is used to translate, or map, all that rich detail onto the same object in a model made with far fewer polygons. The result is a realistic-looking object that, because it is made up of few polygons, does not require much computer power to manipulate. (Conversely, Mr. Wanat said, if a game's polygon count is too high, the game could grind to little more than a slide show without the fluid motion of movies.)

The benefit is two-fold, game designers say. Not only are game environments and objects vastly more realistic than games developed even a few years ago, but the reduced amount of processing power required also allows game resources to be redirected to other visual effects. That may include smoke and fog or background actions like the occasional bird flying by or palm trees swaying in a make-believe tropical breeze.

"Now artists are no longer handcuffed by the constraints of the machine running the game," Mr. Wanat said. In the not-so-distant past, he noted, artists often had to narrow their vision of game worlds and characters. The artist might want a brick wall to be pitted and mottled, say, but the lack of normal mapping and the low polygon limit would usually result in a flat geometric pattern of uniformly smooth, red bricks with no texture to them.

Sunday, May 16, 2004
  Buddhism revisited

For once I am fulfilling a promise to return to a previous post: NPR : New Religions, Part III: Soka Gakkai. The reason the Wife brought this to my attention, and why I pursued the info, is that I consider myself to be philosophically a buddhist, small 'b'. I'm not professing to believe in any of the religious tenents of any 'Buddhist' religion, I just belive that the philosophically, buddhism seems to be far more in line with, like, quantum theory. And, I think it provides a rational view of energy exchanges.

I am very contractarian. And, I'm not even going to look up whether someone else has used and defined this term. It's the label I apply to myself. It does...[incomplete] 
  Fungus Identified (?)
The Wife found this:
Mutinus elegans/caninus (MushroomExpert.Com)
This one seems closest to what we have seen in the yard.: This one 
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