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Radically Inept
Saturday, June 26, 2004
  Odds and ends, and a little rambling.

Probably a light blogging weekend. I'm getting ready to go do the weekly hunting and gathering, and then I'm not sure. The lawn needs mowing, but the recent weather pattern of rain each afternoon and evening, keeps the grass too wet to mow. We'll see.

The Pacifier and I are in the early stages of collaborating on a writing project. He's developed his own omni-verse, and we're now fleshing out major points of 'history', and developing characters. This would be a huge advantage in getting a teaching job vs a government policy job. I'd have much more time to write (and blog). Anyway, I don't know, presuming we 'complete' the project, if we'll ever get the final product commercially published, but the process is fun.

I got together w/ one of my oldest friends last night. He's back from Iraq, and had some really great photos. I'd like to get some of them to post, and I'll ask him about it, but there is a lot that he said was classified, and we were drinking, so I'll reconfirm w/ him on what's bloggable and what's not. Cool stuff, though. And it's nice to get the view of the Green Zone bars, the remote locations and the politics of dealing w/ the locals from a friend you can trust, as opposed to a govt and media, largely bereft of integrity.

A couple of quick things I want to point to:

Phil Carter from INTEL DUMP provides a pretty good analysis of the Supreme court's decision in the Larry "Dudley" Hiibel case.

Today, the Supreme Court extended the Terry stop to include "stop and ID" in addition to "stop and frisk". The case arose out of a Nevada cattle rancher's misdemeanor conviction, but it's easy to see the applicability of this case in other contexts. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the Court's majority, said these "stop and ID" searches violated neither the 4th nor the 5th Amendment rights of the defendant in this case. Here are some excerpts from the majority opinion.
On the 4th Amendment issues:

"Asking questions is an essential part of police investigations. In the ordinary course a police officer is free to ask a person for identification without implicating the Fourth
Amendment. [emphasis added]

* * *
"Obtaining a suspect's name in the course of a Terry stop serves important government interests. Knowledge of identity may inform an officer that a suspect is wanted for another offense, or has a record of violence or mental disorder. On the other hand, knowing identity may help clear a suspect and allow the police to concentrate their efforts elsewhere. Identity may prove particularly important in cases such as this, where the police are investigating what appears to be a domestic assault. Officers called to investigate domestic disputes need to know whom they are dealing with in order to assess the situation, the threat to their own safety, and possible danger to the
potential victim."
On the 5th Amendment questions:

"The Fifth Amendment prohibits only compelled testimony
that is incriminating."

* * *
"In this case petitioner's refusal to disclose his name was not based on any articulated real and appreciable fear that his name would be used to incriminate him, or that it would furnish a link in the chain of evidence needed to prosecute him. ... Even today, petitioner does not explain how the disclosure of his name could have been used against him in a criminal case."

* * *
"The narrow scope of the disclosure requirement is also important. One's identity is, by definition, unique; yet it is, in another sense, a universal characteristic. Answering a request to disclose a name is likely to be so insignificant in the scheme of things as to be incriminating only in unusual circumstances."

My take is that in the Fifth Amendment argument, they jumped the track. Starting w/ ""In this case petitioner's refusal to disclose his name was not based on any articulated real and appreciable fear that his name would be used to incriminate him, or that it would furnish a link in the chain of evidence needed to prosecute him. What if my name does link me to a crime? I have than lost my right against self-incrimination. And no, I don't think, "Answering a request to disclose a name is likely to be so insignificant in the scheme of things as to be incriminating only in unusual circumstances." I think we have lost yet more rights. Interesting. I seem to hear more and more people talking about leaving the country. A rise in ex-patriotism is not a good sign. I'll look to see if I can find evidence of emigration to support this later.

Well, I need to get moving. Later...
 
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Friday, June 25, 2004
  "GeorgeWBush.com quiz for the ignorant", or lessons in marketing failure

Okay, I admit the title of this post may be a tad harsh, but look at the questions:
GeorgeWBush.com :: Economy:
"How many working families are benefiting from President Bush's Jobs and Growth Act?
12 million
23 million
34 million
18 million"
What if I believe it hasn't even helped 12 million? What about a 'none of the above' choice?

GeorgeWBush.com :: Compassion:
"Which part of President Bush's compassionate conservative agenda is most important to you?
Fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic
Encouraging faith-based initiatives
Promoting independence & an ownership society
Reviving civic involvement & volunteer initiatives"
I'm just not sure how to answer this. It'd be nice if I actually saw him 'funding' the programs he talks about.

GeorgeWBush.com :: Health Care:
"President Bush's work to offer Americans more health care options includes which of the following?
Preventive care that keeps us healthy
Patients can choose their doctors & hospitals
Prescription drug benefit for seniors
All of the above"
If you can have an 'All of the above' choice, again, why not a 'None of the above' choice? "President Bush's work" is an odd phrase. It must have occurred during a lull on a flight from Kennebunkport to Crawford, Texas.

GeorgeWBush.com :: Education:
"Which of President Bush's education priorities and reforms is most important to you?
Holding schools accountable
59% increase in school funding
Local control & flexibility
Options for parents over low-performing schools"
Sorry, I just can't get past the "59% increase in school funding". When did this happen? Why are the schools in my area broke? I mean, 59% is huge. Do you think the economy can afford it?

GeorgeWBush.com :: Homeland Security:
"How do state and local communities use the $7.8 billion the Bush Administration has provided communities for terrorism preparedness?
Train and equip firefighters, police, and paramedics
Plan and prepare for a rapid response if needed
Improved communications for first responders
All of the above"
Last I talked to the local first responders, uh, they sort of said, uh, well, we haven't actually seen the money yet, but we're sure the promise of money is helping to save lives. Or something like that.

GeorgeWBush.com :: National Security:
"President Bush's defense budget will fulfill which of these goals?
Increase pay for our servicemen and women
Continue to eliminate inadequate military housing
Provide the next generation of weapons to assist our troops in the field
All of the above"
Again, excuse me. I must not pay enough attention. I thought Baby Bush wanted to reduce the danger pay, and has under funded VA care for soldiers, and...Oh, yeah, um, how much is these little wars going to cost?

GeorgeWBush.com :: Environment:
"President Bush's Clear Skies initiative would reduce the most harmful power plant pollution by what level?
20%
40%
70%
50%"
I hate to be a stickler, but precisely which substance is the "most harmful power plant pollution"? Oh, I know, just super nit-pickey, but by harmful, do you mean to people's health, or to the corporations' profit margins?

Anyway, I am happy to share my quiz results w/ you, here in this public forum. Though it appears that I was unable to answer a single question correctly based on the available answers and that should be pretty humiliating, but I guess I just don't get that embarressed about my ignorance anymore.

NOTE: The quiz is set up like a good sales pitch. I was taught to NEVER ask a customer a question that they could possibly respond in the negative. So, no "yes/no" questions unless you were sure the customer will answering the positive, i.e., "Sir, you care about your home, don't you?" Other than that, always provide the choice of answers, which is exactly what's going on here. This moment of business education was brought to by Un-Employed Bloggers of America (UEBA)(Pronounced 'you-ba').

Oh, this post and the one below, are the result of directions by lies.com, including lies.com - Where's George?So blame John. 
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  The truth about John Fogerty, by John Moe

An interesting site, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, with some fun litterary play. I have to confess, I've always liked reading other people's mail: John Moe's Pop-Song Correspondences, Volume II. 
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Thursday, June 24, 2004
  Okay, on a lighter note Via Drunken Monkey Style Blogging comes a link to the =Coffee House Studio=, which provides a cool link that all my Dead Head buddies will appreciate even if, as the Wife says, "MEGO" (My Eyes Glaze Over). I happen to have liked the Dead, thoroughly enjoyed the concerts I was able to attend (just one more case where I didn't see divinity).

But bottom line, this is fun: Skeleton Keys Index 
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  You scream, I scream, we all scream for...tin foil and duct tape

Via Modulator, comes:Blinded By The Light and Page 2.

No reason. I just liked it. 
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  Wherein I confess my complete ignorance of 'common knowledge'

Or, Maybe you'll bear with me on this one II.

I am apparently one of the more ignorant members of humanity. I apparently missed out on the vitally important "Everyone Knows" course in my schooling. I apologize to everyone.

"Why Apologize?"

Well, I seem to waste people's time with inane questions, whose answer is usually a version of "Everyone Knows". I'm sorry everyone has to put up with me.

"An example?"

Okay, I have bothered many of my friends, family, and acquaintances with the question, "What do you think a spider thinks about while sitting on it's web?" The usual answer is something similar to: "Nothing. Everyone knows spiders can't think."

See. I'm Radically Inept. I just don't know these common points of knowledge (interestingly enough, a Google Search of knowledge generates "Your search - knowledge - did not match any documents")(must have been a server problem:Dictionary.com/knowledge):
The state or fact of knowing.
Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study.
The sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned.
Learning; erudition: teachers of great knowledge.
Specific information about something.
Carnal knowledge.


But I don't seem to know that spiders can't think. In my obvious naivete, I wonder if a spider thinks, "Wow, I haven't eaten in three days. Wish I could have grabbed that really cool spot that other (bigger) spider got to first. He's eaten on all three days. If I don't get bigger, I'll lose my chance to mate." But as it turns out, my ponderings are child-like, and people just wonder how I could be so ignorant.

You know, as I've blogged earlier, here I try to capture and release other, unwanted life forms that enter my environment as opposed to killing them. With spiders and insects, I've really been happy w/ using a wine glass and a plastic cd 'sleeve'. I put the glass over them, and slide the plastic sleeve under them. To me, and apparently only to me, the fact that the insects and spiders immediately know that they've been 'captured'/trapped is fascinating. In virtually every case, the captured animal senses that it is now completely confined, even though it has not physically explored their movement limitations. They just seem to know.

Recently, I captured a Giant Leopard Moth (Ecpantheria scribonia). It had landed on the cinder-block wall below my basement lamp. I put the wine glass over it, and when I slide the plastic below it, it fell 'dead'. I knew better, and because I thought it's marking so beautiful, rather than release it outside right away, I kept it to show the Wife. Then, I decided it would be best to wait until dark to release it...

Long story short, it played dead so well, that I put it, 'upside-down and lifeless' in a flower pot. It had oozed stuff out of it's eyes and I guess defecated. When I came back a few hours later, surprise, it was gone. I found it again, and released it outside.

I know, "Geez, will the story never end?"

But what I was trying to illustrate is that the Moth seem 'cognizant' enough of it's environment to know it was captured, it later "realized" the 'danger' had passed and relocated itself from the belly-up position in the pot, to a new spot on the wall. It knew when it was captured, and knew when it was free.

See, and being the less than bright person I should be, I somehow grant the moth the ability to 'understand' the environment it's in, and adjust it's behavior accordingly. I just have to realize that this is not a sign of "thinking" on the moth's part. And, well, I just can't get my head around that. I guess I'm just truly obtuse.

Similarly, everyone, but me apparently, knows that '

CUT!! This is going nowhere, start again

I try to start each day w/o out presuming that I know very much. In fact, I try to always wonder what is "knowledge". I could cite Kuhn and Popper, or say I think I live in a Aldous Huxleyan world, where questioning EVERYTHING seems pretty appropriate. In the end, I am apparently a very ignorant person. I don't know how, on a consistent basis, I can know the credibility of a source of information to be true? I am apparently retarded (note the real PC way we deal w/ the 'negative connotation of the word, retarded: "Often Offensive. Affected with mental retardation.") in the area of common human knowledge.

BREAK! Next scene.

I also seem to be the only human on the planet that thinks humans and the planet are not really important, Period. I certainly don't believe that the species is worth expending a whole lot of money and energy in saving. Let's just quit taxing anybody. That way, the rich will eventually be the only people starving on the planet.

Sorry, but I did warn you. And worse, I'll continue to develop this set of posts.

Quick Addendum: I, sometimes not all the time, wonder what the life of a water molecule must be like.

Ah, "You're complete idiot," you say.

Yeah, but it's worse, I wonder about how the changes, between the structured environment of the ice crystal, the almost unattached (free) state of steam, and the loose association in the free Water state, affect the "thinking" of a water molecule.

I know. Pretty stupid and http://radicallyinept.blogspot.com/. I just can't seem to help myself. And no amount of education seems to be enough to end my ignorance. Woe is me...

 
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  This doesn't sound like the broadcast version

I watched FOX News (only for a few minutes, and totally unintentionally) and caught them reporting on the latest Baby Bush/Kerry poll numbers. It sounded like Baby Bush was kicking butt. So I thought I'd compare polling numbers across recent polls. But then this immediately caught my eye: FOXNews.com - FOX News Polls - You Decide 2004 Poll - 06/24/04: Bush Edges Kerry. The whole tone of reporting on the poll seems very diiferent from what I thought I saw in the broadcast, though it does include some curious verbage:
Even as insurgents increase their attacks in the days leading up to the June 30 handover, the public’s belief that going to war with Iraq was the right thing to do is holding steady. Majorities believe there was a partnership between Saddam and Al Qaeda, and that military action abroad is necessary to protect from having to fight terrorists on U.S. soil. In addition, brightening impressions on the condition of the economy helped President Bush improve his standing against Democrat John Kerry this week, according to a Fox News poll released Thursday.
I wonder. Is:
"Majorities believe there was a partnership between Saddam and Al Qaeda, and that military action abroad is necessary to protect from having to fight terrorists on U.S. soil."
a good thing? Does it perhaps denote a lack of effectiveness of the FOX news cast in educating it's viewers on the truth? I mean...Hell you know what I mean.

And it's not until paragraph nine, that they mention anything negative. Fair and Balanced.

Anyway, I think it was John Gorman (scan the bios and see if you see a trend) who was on the broadcast, and it was like the answer to every question was how good Baby Bush did in the FOXNews.com - You Decide 2004 - Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll.

Oh, why doesn't FOX provide the latest Kerry poll numbers? Hmmm, odd.

Well for a different view, I found this out today, Election 2004 Presidential Tracking Poll. Very different tone. And here:Weekly MT Handling econ Free story. The tone is, well just different.

Here the tone is different, yet again: ABCNEWS.com : Poll: Bush Loses Ground on Terror Fight.

Wow, I missed this one: Bush Camp: L.A. Times Poll Loaded With Dems

I can't find much else poll-wise published published in the last couple of days, but now I no longer have that sinking feeling I had when watching FOX. I should know better. At one time I listened to Rush daily (not by choice).

In the end, all of these polls demonstrate one thing: 40%+ of Americans are idiots. You decide.

Very odd pop-up, Trail Blazer Campaign Services - Politcal campaign management software. Interesting 
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  U.S. Drops Plan to Exempt G.I.'s From U.N. Court

More on same, sort of. I mean, it just keeps coming.
The New York Times, U.S. Drops Plan to Exempt G.I.'s From U.N. Court:
"The United States bowed Wednesday to broad opposition on the Security Council and announced it was dropping its effort to gain immunity for its troops from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
'The United States has decided not to proceed further with consideration and action on the draft at this time in order to avoid a prolonged and divisive debate,' James B. Cunningham, the deputy American ambassador, said on emerging from the Council chamber."
Wow, a reversal. Well, let's look further:
The outcome, while a political defeat for Washington, will have no effect on the vulnerability to prosecution of American soldiers in Iraq. Neither the United States nor Iraq is a member of the tribunal, and its jurisdiction is limited to countries that do not themselves prosecute crimes by their military.

The setback for American diplomacy at the United Nations came just two weeks after the Bush administration was praised there for demonstrating flexibility and a willingness to compromise in securing a unanimous vote on a resolution affirming the arrangements for the transfer of power in Iraq.

This time American diplomats, who had been confident of obtaining a routine "technical rollover" of the measure, appeared to have miscalculated the impact of the publicity given the American mistreatment of Iraqi detainees.
Oh wait,
The Bush administration has said it needs the troop-protection measure to prevent people from using the court to bring politically motivated war-crime prosecutions against Americans abroad.
"When the United States voluntarily commits its armed forces to participate in peacekeeping missions around the world, we believe it is wholly inappropriate to subject them to a tribunal which cannot provide adequate guarantees of due process," he said.
Oh, that's right. Due Process:
"Generally, due process guarantees the following (this list is not exhaustive):
Right to a fair and public trial conducted in a competent manner
Right to be present at the trial
Right to an impartial jury
Right to be heard in one's own defense
Laws must be written so that a reasonable person can understand what is criminal behavior
Taxes may only be taken for public purposes
Property may be taken by the government only for public purposes
Owners of taken property must be fairly compensated "
I wonder if the Iraqis, the Afghans and others we are fighting, are feeling the benefit of American Due Process?



 
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  How to win friends and influence people, or not...

TomDispatch does his usual excellent job in his latest
Dispatch:
"Or take another subject. Just days ago, an American plane or helicopter fired two missiles into a residential neighborhood of Fallujah (itself a war crime as Juan Cole recently pointed out at his Informed Comment website). The Bush administration explanation went like this: Based on 'strong, actionable' intelligence or 'multiple confirmations of actionable intelligence,' our military hit a 'safe house' used by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terrorist network. Reports from Fallujah were that 22 people had died, mostly belonging to a single extended family and including a number of women and children. Our spokesperson in Baghdad responded: Not at all; we 'killed key figures in the network of suspected terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.' (How, given our notoriously dreadful intelligence in Iraq, we can be sure of this in out-of-bounds Fallujah, I leave to your imagination.) The destruction and civilian deaths, the claims and counterclaims, the reassertion of even more specific claims and counterclaims (often followed by the promise of an investigation) - anything seem familiar here? Not, probably, if you read the American press.

On June 13, the New York Times had a striking piece (Errors Are Seen in Early Attacks on Iraqi Leaders) by Douglas Jehl and Eric Schmitt reporting that, of 50 air strikes meant to take out the top figures in Saddam's government with 'precision munitions' over a month-long period beginning on the eve of the war, and based on our best intelligence of that moment, we were an across-the-boards 0-50. What are the odds against that, even blind? ('It was all just guesswork on where they were,' they quote 'a senior military officer' as saying.) Of course, we were anything but 0-50 when it came to killing significant numbers of Iraqi civilians since, as in the recent Fallujah missile attack, many of these strikes took place in heavily populated urban neighborhoods. Perhaps there is a little formula here: smart bombs plus dumb intelligence equals civilian horror. Then again, as the Israelis have shown, precision munitions plus good intelligence still equals civilian horror.

Now, you might think that the Times piece would have provided a little useful context -- with the Fallujah strike taking place only a week later, with the U.S. Air Force once again attacking an urban residential area, once again using precision munitions based on hot intelligence tips, and once again claiming to have precisely taken out the bad guys (as, for instance, during the war we claimed incorrectly to have taken out General Ali Hasan al Majid, aka "Chemical Ali"); or you would think that a number of other similar and similarly contested bombing incidents and U.S. claims might be brought up. But no such connections are made in the American press."
You should read the entire Dispatch: which includes these passages in "God Bless America", by Renato Redentor Constantino, sub-titled 'Coincidence, pattern, and memory. Tricky things these three':
"In 1901, in the course of interrogating 'treacherous' Filipinos who did not have the good sense to accept America's seizure of the Philippines, Lieutenant Frederick Arnold and one Sergeant Edwards were accused of torturing Filipino prisoners. Their acts of 'prisoner abuse'? Stripping a young man naked, then subjecting him to the water cure (the essential memory-recovery medication of the occupation army's battle kit and predecessor to today's 'water-boarding'): The prisoner's mouth is forced open to respectfully facilitate down his throat five to ten gallons of water (or whatever his bloated stomach can endure). Once filled up, the interrogators politely step on the prisoner's tummy until the prisoner blurts out the desired information.

For data validation purposes, the same prisoner is interrogated once more by his American liberators and 'whipped and beaten unmercifully with rattan rods' and 'then strung up by his thumbs.' Efficiency is everything.

Another feat of the imagination -- before questioning, a strip of skin is cut from a Filipino prisoner's ankle and attached to a piece of wood. Then 'the flesh' is coiled 'with the wood.' Think can-opener.

'When I give a man to [my troops],' said Lt. Arnold, 'I want information. I do not know how [they] get it, but [they] get it anyway.' Filipinos 'had no feelings other than physical, and should not be treated as human beings.'"
See, we're just following a tried and true method for bringing democracy to foreign lands. Just keep killing wedding parties, women and children, and use torture liberally.

I'm Proud to be an American:
"If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I'd thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away.
And I'm proud to be an American where as least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.
From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee,
across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea,
From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA,
Well, there's pride in every American heart,
and it's time to stand and say:
I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A"
Wow, I wonder if I can be proud to be an American? What would it take? For starters, putting Baby Bush in The Abu Ghraib Prison with some of America's finest.

Just found this via Billmon's Whiskey Bar: Sovereign Illusion II, which included a link to this (and it's what billmon points to) US to extend immunity for its troops in Iraq - After Saddam - www.smh.com.au:
"The Bush Administration is to take the unusual step of granting its troops and personnel immunity from prosecution by Iraqi courts for killing Iraqis or destroying local property after the occupation ends and sovereignty returns, US officials said.

The Administration plans to achieve this - the most contentious remaining issue before the transfer of power - by extending an order that has been in place during its year-long occupation.

Order 17 gives all foreign personnel in the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority immunity from 'local criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction and from any form of arrest or detention other than by persons acting on behalf of their parent states'."
Cool, how many women can I rape while I'm immune form prosecution? I mean raping Iraqis is not a crime in America, right?

I'm soooo disgusted. 
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  When you feel something yellow, warm and wet on your head

You'll understand the "trickle down theory"

Via lies.com - The Incredible Shrinking Recoverycomes this link (w/ a great graph) to When do workers get their share?:
"Corporate profits have risen 62.2% since the peak, compared to average growth of 13.9% at the same point in the last eight recoveries that have lasted as long as the current one. This is the fastest rate of profit growth in a recovery since World War II.
Total labor compensation has also turned in a historic performance: growing only 2.8%, the slowest growth in any recovery since World War II and well under the historical average of 9.9%.
Most of this growth in total labor compensation has been accounted for by rising non-wage payments, like health care and pension benefits. Rapidly rising health care costs and pension funding requirements imply that these higher benefit payments are not translating into increased living standards for workers, but are rather just covering the higher costs of health care and pension funding. Growth in total wage and salary income, the primary source of take-home pay for workers, has actually been negative for private-sector workers: -0.6%, versus the 7.2% gain that is the average increase in private wage and salary income at this point in a recovery."
But really, it's okay. I have a plan.

"Wash your windows, sir?" "Sir, do you need a shine?" "Anything I can do around the house or yard for you, Ma'am?" Followed by, "Yes, Officer, I know I'm not allowed to go through the dumpster, but I'm hungary."

Ah, the future w/ 4 more years of Baby Bush and the complete transfer of all wealth from the citizens of the US to a hand full of corporations and friends of the Bush family will be complete. And once the citizens of the US no longer have any income to be taxed, the government will be able to cut all those stupid programs (the ones that don't help the wealthy get wealthier) on the idea that there's only twenty people left who can afford to pay taxes, and their exempt.

Update: 11:25am, Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal touches on this issue in "Tax Shifts", Not "Tax Cuts", where in he cites this paper by the Tax Policy Center
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Wednesday, June 23, 2004
  Uh, okay?? So??

NIC.COM - Meta-Whois Error 403: "BW Whois � Error 403
BW Whois has detected a condition which may be an automated request. Access is forbidden."

Could you possibly provide a more 'kryptic' message?
"BW Whois has detected a condition which may be an automated request."
What?! I'm supposed to mail you a letter? What the hell does this mean? I'll even accept responsibility. It's my fault. So, now what do I do? Is this a permanent problem? Can I never get information on that particular IP number?

NIC.COM - Meta-Whois Universal International WHOIS server, for those who've always wanted to know alittle more about those numbers in the 'address' box. Oh, and you can try IP Address Locator - Enter an IP address to find its location - Lookup Country Region City etc.

Thanks to Harry for this link: DNS Stuff: DNS tools, WHOIS, tracert, ping, and other network tools. 
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  A different take on the torturers

You know, it dawned on me a few days ago, that I don't want any of those people (and sadly, I mean the soldiers and civilian contractors) in those Abu Ghraib Prison Photos living next door to me. Can we not call this what it is? Organized and condoned sex crimes, and the people in the Photos (not the victims) are sex offenders! When they return to the USA, I want them all to be subject to Megan's Law, Registered Sex Offenders.

You protest that this is too harsh or unfair to the soldiers involved? Why? I, personally, might not feel this way, if they weren't smiling. Even if they were 'ordered' by their chain of command (and following orders is no defense), they enjoyed it. No one ordered them to 'enjoy' it. Look at them. Really, look at them. They enjoy torturing people.

I do not want these people living next door to me and my family. I don't want these people in my work place. These are the kind of people I do not want my grand children around. They scare me. Not me personally, I think I can take care of myself, but I worry for my family.

So, hell yeah! I want these people on the list of Registered Sex Offenders. I want to know if they ever move into my neighborhood. I want to know anytime a sex offender, and especially one who enjoys torturing, moves into the hood.

Now, how far up the chain can the list go. I don't know. If you gave the orders, but were not present, than I would argue for your culpability as a sex offender, but if you weren't present to 'enjoy' the torturing, well maybe you aren't quite as sub-human. Still, I'd like to see Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and Bush on the list of Registered Sex Offenders. I mean, I want to be warned if these individuals even move into my state. They might not have been there to 'enjoy' the activity, but they certainly condoned it, and may have actively ordered it (waiting for a 'full release' of the documents (visit the Whiskey Bar: Document Dump for the latest details on this) to decide their level of guilt, but I don't think it looks pretty.

Besides, I like the idea of Baby Bush being the first president ever to be put on the list of Registered Sex Offenders. Now that would be a Bush Legacy.

In fairness, I should point to the fact that CBS News | Challenge To Megan's Law Under Review | May 20, 2002�20:36:32:
"The Baby Bush' administration sided with Connecticut, as did each of the other states with similar laws, in asking the Supreme Court to restore or preserve public access to information about former sex offenders.

'Megan's laws serve vital government interests by assisting law enforcement and enabling American communities to better protect themselves, and in particular their children,' the administration's top Supreme Court lawyer wrote in court papers."


 
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Tuesday, June 22, 2004
  No reason, just because

NIC.COM - Meta-Whois Universal International WHOIS Server: "Request: 152.17.52
unable to connect to whois.arin.net (9: Bad file descriptor)


The registrar Network Solutions Incorporated (NSI) is not permitting nic.com to forward your whois query to their server. If you see a message above beginning 'The IP address from which you have visited Network Solutions Registrar WHOIS database . .' and do not see ownership information about the domain, you must contact NSI (US toll free telephone number 1-888-642-9675, from outside the USA (703) 742-0914, or email whoisquery@networksolutions.com) for ownership information about that domain."
I must? And if I didn't see, "If you see a message above beginning 'The IP address from which you have visited Network Solutions Registrar WHOIS database . .'", but instead saw:
Request: 152.17.52
unable to connect to whois.arin.net (9: Bad file descriptor)?
Now what do I do? Do I call anyway? Do I care?

I think I'll go w/ 'I don't care enough to put in the effort'. Really.



 
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  Maybe you'll bear with me on this one

It's interesting. I know that something dies, due to my existence, constantly. I walk, I kill. I breathe, I kill. I exist, I kill. The scale of my existence, ensures the death of so many creatures; many so 'microscopic', so ubiquitous in my environment, and my relationship/life - kills.

Let's start from that as a proposition. Something must die, in fact many things must die, during my existence. I am, to the best of my knowledge, unable to prevent this. The defense systems in just my mouth and nose kill millions/billions(?) of living being with each breath.

I know: "Move on. I get it already."

But, I 'choose' to take a 'catch and release' attitude to many of the creatures I encounter. I make an effort, for the most part (which demonstrates a real lack of 'fanaticism', I think, in my approach to this), to try and capture creatures, and physically remove them from my environment, rather than cause them 'direct' harm.

Quick aside: I caught a moth or something, that was in my way, I think I was painting a house at the time, and tossed it out of my way, and a bird just swept down and ate it. Cause and effect?)

But, "Why?"

Well, I sort of view it this way: I know I can kill that copperhead, rat, mouse, spider, bug, camel-backed cricket, or whatever. I just lack the desire. To the degree that I can, w/in some narrow parameters w/ lots of exceptions, I choose to expend a little energy to remove, rather than kill.

"Yeah," but, "Why?"

Well, I reply in a very haughty manner (which lets you know immediately, I don't have a clue), "I choose to live life in a manner that causes 'least (again, w/in parameters)' damage/disruption to my environment, and will expend energy to improve the health of the ecosystem I live in, knowing full well that my choices depend on my world view.

"Ah, situational ethics," you say.

No, not at all. I believe I am perfectly capable, and do, choose deep lines in the sand. I recognize that some situations, Inuit for example, where harsh conditions led to seemingly extreme cultural norms, environmental ethics ,

Cut! Let's start again from an Introduction To Activistic Atheism:
The definition for atheism that we use, put simply, says that atheism is the lack of a god-belief, the absence of theism, to whatever degree and for whatever reason. The one thing that all atheists have in common, according to this definition, is that they are not theists. One either believes one or more of the various claims for the existence of a god or gods (is a theist) or one does not believe any of those claims (is an atheist). Though we do not recognize any "middle ground," we do acknowledge the agnostic position, which spans both theism and atheism: a theistic agnostic thinks one or more gods exist but can say no more on the subject than this (is a theist); an atheistic agnostic doesn't know if any gods exist (lacks a god belief, and is thus an atheist). Noncognitivists think all god-talk is meaningless, and thus lack any god beliefs (are atheists).
Just found that. Wow. I like it, and the site.

I tend to believe - SURPRISE! In the teachings of Jesus and Buddha. Yep. Next proposition: There is nothing incongruous between the teachings.

Not like the incongruities that are rampant between the 'old testament' god, and the 'new testament' god. The 'old testament' god is Stalinesque, Maoist, Pol Pot, etc. I mean, "sacrifice your only son on the alter to prove your loyalty to me?" I don't want part of a theism that makes Saddam look half-ass. So, the 'old testament', the talmud, and the koran, if true, are truths I still want no part of.

The new testament god, is by contrast, Willy Wonka. Just too damn good to be true.

Oh, and how can Jesus say "our father, and yet be the only son, unless I'm sort of...Some kind of...errrr...transexual?

Yet, I buy totally into many of the statements of both Jesus and Buddha. I do not except the divinity of either. But, I think philosophically, both are dead on. It's just too bad that so many people accept their divinity, but so few live by their teachings.

wow. I think I'll leave it there for now. I think that is actually a decent start to trying to express why I am an atheist, and why I still feel moral and ethical in my world view.

Maybe not. If you see huge holes, please let me know.

Oh, and I think I understand some of the lack of flow in the documents supporting most belief systems: How do you concisely explain everything?

I don't know why, when the corrections I made last night did not take. But I changed 'definite' to 'divinity' last night. Definite does not make sense, but I don't think the reader could necessarily jump to the conclusion that I meant divinity. Apologies. 
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  The importance of blogging?

Orcinus also has this piece: "A little bit about blogging" on the importance of blogs and blogging.

I'd like to agree w/ him, and for the most part I do, but I don't think the demographics are there. Most people still don't have internet access, and many of those that do, the ones you'd like to reach, have a tenth grade literacy rate and spend their time on line in first-person-shooter games, or tracking NASCAR.

It is the very nature of blogs that the readers are a self-selected sample, and are hardly representative of much more than those w/ computer access, who like to read blogs, and usually choose them based on already agreeing w/ the content.

It's a good article, despite my criticisms. 
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  "that smug little homunculus" Tucker Carlson

The title, courtesy of a friend of David Neiwert. Why? Because that truly is how Tucker Carlson comes across. But the purposse of this post is to direct you to Orcinus to read "The hate these days". He does a good job of pointing out the violent and hate filled rhetoric of the right, accusing the left of being "violent and hate filled". David points us to this tidbit by poochie:
Not saying anything in specific, mind you, but we'd be damn careful about showing our face in public if we were you. You just never know who that perfect stranger behind you in that alleyway might be. Could be a sibling or other relative of one of the fallen soldiers that you just took a dump on the grave of, and G-d only knows what might happen then.

Eric may not be famous enough to be a pick for the 2004 Dead Pool, but there's another signed Imperial Mug for the first LC to inform me that Eric Blumrich has died in a "tragic" accident.

Accidents DO happen, you know, and that's the kind of news that would definitely make my entire day.
--[Emperor Misha]
Funny, huh?

Suggesting to people you'd like someone killed...Well, okay. I could make a list of people that I'd like to see removed from public discourse or office, including Tucker, but I don't think I'd advocate 'killing' them. More like having them sent to a cute little Gulag, w/ amenities, so long as they never come into the public again. Besides, as nice as the people are who I'd suggest for inclusion, they'd wind up killing each other after a few weeks of close quarters. And, I think that would work for me.

By the way, if things to get bad, and it does look like we're heading in that direction, I'm at least trained and armed. And, due to what I see developing, I've almost come to the conclusion that I should change positions on the Assualt Weapons Ban. I think it might be helpful that I'm as well armed as the rightwing, totalitarian govt coming our way.

Hell, if we do go totalitarian, maybe Misha will have to be a little more careful himself. I think my Pitt can take his Rottie, and I'm real sure I could take Misha. He sounds like one of those pussies who doesn't have the guts or ability to take of himself. And, I think it would be fun. I wonder if he has any training as a sniper? Do you think? I mean, wow, can you imagine the shock on his face as he feels the projectile penetrate? He'd never even here the sound.

Sorry, didn't mean to go into that, but I'm just tired of this crap. If it comes down to it, 'let's rock'. Read "The hate these days", and maybe you will understand my reaction.
 
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  This won't help in reducing obesity

Missed this item the other day:Demo: Wearable Robots:
"Stories about superhuman strength permeate popular culture from Atlas to Zeus, Superman to Schwarzenegger. But now, says University of Utah robotics expert Stephen Jacobsen, it's time to deliver in the real world. With funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, Jacobsen's Salt Lake City-based company, Sarcos, has built a robotic suit that does just that. A person wearing this powered 'exoskeleton' on his or her legs can carry massive loads without getting tired. Exoskeletons could enable soldiers to haul heavier equipment over greater distances, allow rescue workers to carry survivors more safely, and eventually help disabled people get around."
I mean, if the exoskeleton becomes affordable, how many lazy people will buy them?

Well, it is a cool site, and it does talk you through a bit about how it was designed and developed. Worth checking out.

 
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Monday, June 21, 2004
  I dooon't seee youuu!!!

This is not the type of governmental transparency I advocate, BBC NEWS, "Inventor plans 'invisible walls'"
The inventor of an "invisibility" cloak has said that his next project will be to develop the technology to allow people to see through walls.
Susumu Tachi, who showed off the cloak at an exhibition in San Francisco earlier this month, said he was hopeful of providing a way to provide a view of the outside in windowless rooms.

"This technology can be used in all kinds of ways, but I wanted to create a vision of invisibility," he told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"My short-term goal would be, for example, to make a room that has no outside windows appear to have a view to the outside, then the wall would appear to be invisible."

Use and misuse

Professor Tachi's cloak works by projecting an image onto itself of what is behind the wearer.

A computer generates the image that is projected, so the viewer effectively sees "through" the cloak.

The key development of the cloak, however, was the development of a new material called retro-reflectum.

"This material allows you to see a three-dimensional image," Professor Tachi said.

"This material is the key to our technology."

There are many potential uses of the cloak, ranging from espionage and military purposes to helping pilots see through the floor of the cockpit to the runway below.

However there are massive questions of potential misuse too, particularly surrounding the huge crime implications.

It would become incredibly difficult to spot a thief, for example, if the items they were taking were simply disappearing under the cloak.
But ever since I first played a thief in my first Dungeons & Dragons game, I've always wanted my own "Cloak of Invisibility". Looks like it may be as expensive and rare in real life as it is in the game.
 
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  For when you want your information transferred quickly, try teleporting.

PhysicsWeb - "Teleportation breaks new ground":
"Physicists in Austria and the US have independently demonstrated quantum teleportation with atoms for the first time. Until now, teleportation had only ever been observed with photons. The results could represent a major step towards building a large-scale quantum computer.
In quantum teleportation, the sender, normally called Alice, instantaneously transfers information about the quantum state of a particle to a receiver called Bob. The uncertainty principle means that Alice cannot know the exact state of her particle. However, another feature of quantum mechanics called 'entanglement' means that she can teleport the state to Bob.
Entanglement allows particles to have a much closer relationship than is possible in classical physics. If two particles are entangled, we can know the state of one particle by measuring the state of the other. For example, two particles can be entangled such that the spin of one particle is always 'up' when the spin of the other is 'down', and vice versa. An additional feature of quantum mechanics is that the particle can exist in a superposition of both these states at the same time."
Super cool, but let me know when I can beam off this planet. 
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  Honey, you're just not the same person you were when we first met -

Eight minutes ago
Science And Consciousness Review:
"Do you know the half-life of a microtubule, the protein filaments that form the internal scaffolding a cell? Just ten minutes. That's an average of ten minutes between assembly and destruction.

Now the brain is supposed to be some sort of computer. It is an intricate network of some 1,000 trillion synaptic connections, each of these synapses having been lovingly crafted by experience to have a particular shape, a particular neurochemistry. It is of course the information represented at these junctions that makes us who we are. But how the heck do these synapses retain a stable identity when the chemistry of cells is almost on the boil, with large molecules falling apart nearly as soon as they are made?"
Yeah, that's what I want to know.
Myelin and RNA molecules seem to last months. And DNA is of course fairly hardy, though it still needs continual repair. But on the kinds of figures that are coming out now, it seems like the whole brain must get recycled about every other month. And certainly everything points to the synapses as being about the most dynamic part of the whole system.

Clearly the shape of the synapses IS somehow maintained despite the molecular turmoil. But there is an issue here that demands some specific theory. The stability of brain circuits cannot simply be taken for granted. Princeton University's Joe Tsien - famous for making mice smarter by splicing in slower-closing NMDA receptors - is one of a number of researchers pursuing the idea that synaptic structure may be stabilized by pressure from both above and below.
Oh, that explains it. Sort of. Maybe.
We'll have to watch this area of science.
 
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  Just call me a "chemical genius"

Also via KurzweilAI.net Newsletter, but just seemed deserving of it's own post.

How smart do you want to be?

csmonitor.com, "Strange food for thought":
"The brain-enhancement revolution is already under way. The drug Ritalin, first given to control hyperactivity in children, now is routinely used by healthy high school and college students to sharpen their thinking before taking exams. The long-term health effects are unknown.

Modafinil was developed to treat narcolepsy, a rare condition causing daytime sleepiness. But now it is used by those who simply want to be wakeful and alert, and recently seven American track and field athletes admitted to using it to boost their mental preparation. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, used for nearly two decades to treat depression, has also been found to enhance problem-solving abilities in normal individuals.

Improved brain imaging, or mapping, is yielding new techniques such as 'brain fingerprinting,' which purports to be able to locate memories within the brain, raising troubling possibilities for invasion of privacy. 'There's nothing more private and personal than a person's memories,' says Richard Glen Boire, codirector of the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics in Davis, Calif."
Well, then what about the ethics?
As in the case of Ritalin, most of the current techniques for enhancing mental abilities come from efforts to treat diseases. In the 2002 book "Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution," influential thinker Francis Fukuyama called for governmental regulation of using such technologies for neural enhancement.

But even others with ethical concerns say drawing such a "bright line" between the use of a drug or other technology for therapy or for enhancement is problematic.

Pharmaceutical companies are going to want to produce and market drugs that appeal to 100 percent of the population, not just the minority who are sick at any given time, Mr. Boire points out. After all, many people would like a better memory, to be able to think a little more quickly, or to forget troubling memories.

Yet a number of issues of personal liberty are being raised, he says. "What rights does the person have to manage their own thought processes?" Boire asks. "Thought is not just something that is changed by reading a book or hearing a speaker. Now, and more and more, as time goes on, thought will be changed by pharmacological agents."

How will we be able to say yes to therapy but no to enhancement? Professor Caplan asks. He balks at the idea of telling someone "you can take a pill if you have dyslexia, but you can't take a pill if you're just a poor reader. It's very tough. It won't work."
And, you still have to dea with questions like these:
Even enhancement advocate Hughes agrees that safety remains important. The Food and Drug Administration needs to certify drug safety "and it needs to be independent of the biomedical industry in a way that it hasn't been," he says.

Mapping the brain brings its own set of concerns, Caplan adds. He foresees brain scans someday being used at airports to screen passengers. Do you have to give informed consent to have someone look at your brain? he asks. What if it can be done at a distance without your knowledge? And who's going to be allowed to keep information about your brain?

Some kind of regulation will be needed. "You don't want people just setting up machines on the sidewalk saying 'I'll tell you if your spouse is cheating on you,'" Caplan says.
Geeez. Talk about setting the stage for the Thought Police. And, is it like saying 'there is no Santa?'
The concept of a "self" does not make much sense in the framework of neuroscience, "where you and I are just big networks of neurons that can be changed by a drug or other procedure," Farah adds. On the other hand, she says, "I feel I have a self, I feel that other brains are persons, and even though this may be an illusion, it is part of my understanding of life that I am not ready to dispense with, no matter what neuroscience tells me!
A brief point on this 'mind v brain' argument. I no longer buy into the deterministic side of this argument. The reason for this, and I can't find the particular link I'm looking for, so this will have to do for now, BioEd Online: "Split personalities probed":
"One human brain can have two different personalities dwelling in it, according to a new imaging study - and each personality seems to use its own network of nerves to help recall or suppress memories.

Alternative personalities are typically developed by children who suffer severe trauma or abuse. The condition, called multiple personality disorder, or dissociative identity disorder, appears to help people cope by cutting off difficult memories, making them seem as if they happened to someone else."
I was looking for a source describing how even the gamma and beta waves of the brain changed during these personality disorders, and specifically an article I remember about how a person who had one personality that was physically allergic to something (with all physical symptoms and treatment), and yet another personality was immune, and all affects would disappear when this personality was dominant. This is what convinced me that the 'mind', and not the 'brain', is the more powerful.

Also,while reading "Strange food for thought", that I recalled something I'd heard briefly on the news:SignOnSanDiego.com, "UCSD scientists study electrical stimulation to brain":
"Their study, which appeared this month in the journal Nature, suggests that chemical imbalances in the brain that lead to depression, phobias, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other conditions could be alleviated not by drugs but by direct electrical stimulation to specific areas of the brain.

'These drugs have side effects, and they don't work in all cases,' said Nicholas Spitzer, a UCSD neuroscientist whose lab conducted the study. 'We are beginning to think . . . that there might be another way.'

Neuroscientists have long believed that the connection between a brain cell and the neurotransmitter it generates is hard-wired in the genes.

A host of drugs, including Prozac and others, are designed to artificially boost or slow down the flow of neurotransmitters between neurons.

Depression, for example, is associated with low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. And there is strong, although not conclusive, evidence that schizophrenia is fueled by the flood of the neurotransmitter dopamine between neurons.

Other treatments to alter the flow of neurotransmitters have included electroconvulsive therapy, called ECT, and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS - both of which induce the flow of electrical currents through the brain in an attempt to alter the flow of neurotransmitters.

But researchers are not certain why these treatments work, said Spitzer."
So, yes these are most certainly interesting times, with some very interesting questions to be answered. What will the abuse rate be when a person can have a micro device planted that provides continuous stimulation to the pleasure zones? Do wind up the problem of people getting addicted because it's Better Than Life? And, if you try a prohibition, how do you enforce it? Seems like as the devices become nano-sized, enforcement becomes virtually impossible.

 
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  The not every Monday, Science Monday

Though I did blog on to science stories last Monday, here and here, I did not do the usual Science Monday effort.

So, here is this week's Science Monday, as usual and unless otherwise stated, the stories are drawn from the KurzweilAI.net Newsletter, but I will use seperate posts for the ideas. First up:

I guess this is an Area of Science where we are willing to concede leadership
EducationGuardian.co.uk "Human embryo research plan is first of its kind"
Members of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority met yesterday to consider the first application to clone human embryos.

If it is approved, the team of researchers at Newcastle University, led by Dr Miodrag Stojkovic, will clone human embryos and use them as sources of embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to form any of the hundreds of different tissues found in the body. The researchers hope their work will lead to huge advances in medicine, among them novel treatments for disease.

"Our aim is clear: to use these stem cells to find a solution to diabetes," said Dr Stojkovic, at the university's institute for human genetics.
Smart idea. If they find effective therapies for diabetes, they'll have a huge market in the US based on current obesity trends.
If the HFEA approves the application, as many scientists expect, Dr Stojkovic's group plans to take unfertilised eggs, which would otherwise be discarded as surplus from IVF clinics, and remove the genetic material inside them. The hollowed-out eggs will then be filled with genetic material taken from the skin cells of diabetics.

Nurturing the eggs for six to eight days produces a tiny ball of around 100 cells, from which embryonic stem cells can be extracted. By treating the stem cells with various growth promoters, Dr Stojkovic plans to turn the stem cells into pancreas cells.

Because they are genetically identical to the other cells in the person's body, the newly created pancreas cells can be implanted without being rejected by the immune system. Once there, they should start producing insulin, potentially curing the condition.
Seems like a cool plan, but then England has their share of nay-sayers -
The push to begin research on cloned human embryos has reignited a storm over the necessity, ethics and safety of therapeutic cloning

Patrick Cusworth, of the anti-abortion group Life, said: "This is a profoundly dehumanising process. It attempts to change the status of the human embryo as the beginning point of human life into little more than a pharmaceutical product.

"It's also giving diabetics false hopes. You would need around 35m human eggs to treat everyone in the UK with diabetes. It's totally unfeasible.".
But at least they don't have Baby Bush and Ashcroft deciding what science is.
 
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Sunday, June 20, 2004
  Probably done for the day

Getting ready to head to a funeral over in Alabama for an old college friend. It seems that I've hit the stage of life I've always heard about - at every gathering of old friends, there will be less and less old friends.

Such be life. Nay, tis death. Ah, tis both.

So, Good-bye Michael 'Dookie' Coleman. Today, we'll drink in your memory.

Usually, we just drink. 
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  It's time to send the Bastards to Jail

I stumbled onto this while updating "Make mine an ENRON with a Halliburton chaser, Barkeep" Lansing State Journal:Business digest:
"Archer finds lawsuit not so sweet
DECATUR, Ill. - Archer Daniels Midland Co. will pay $400 million to settle a federal antitrust lawsuit that claimed the company conspired to fix the price of high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener used in products from soft drinks to pasta sauces."
Didn't ADM get in trouble for fixing the price of Niacin or something just a few years back? If so, slapping ADM w/ fines doesn't seem to discourage them from engaging in this behavior. I continue to argue for criminal prosecutions of corporate officers in cases like these. With very stiff sentences in places where the genteel white executives will know they are a very small minority, and will have to become bitches to bubba, or have Rufus give 'em a shank. That, my friends, is deterrence. Not petty fines for a company that gets more in government subsidies in a single year, than the pittance that is $400 million in fines.

A quick Google Search: ADM price fixing niacin turns up this little gem amongst many others: The Agribusiness Examiner Issue #53: "U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: 'TURNING LADY JUSTICE INTO A STREET PROSTITUTE'
While the U.S. Department of Justice might be fond of perpetuating the myth that it is diligently ferreting out corporate criminals like ADM, its recent actions leave many in doubt of such a claim.
In a February 3, 1999 letter to Reno, David Hoech, of ADM's Shareholders Watch Committee and a persistent critic of the government's handling of the case, charged an 'ADM cover up engineered by the Department of Justice.' In the letter to Reno, Hoech recalled that as early as October 14, 1996 his committee asked the Department of Justice to use the ADM case as an opportunity 'to insure that justice be delivered and send a message to corporate America that corporate crime doesn't pay.'

'Instead,' Hoech continues, 'your office gave credence to the fact that if you are white, rich and influential, or work for a politically-connected company, you can break the law with impunity.' Hoech promised the Attorney General 'from this day forward we will be making more and more information available for the world to see just what your department tried to cover up.'
In a conversation, for example, he had with Ray Goldberg, a former ADM board member, and the man who originally coined the term 'agribusiness,' Hoech recalled that Goldberg, who now serves on the Smithfield Foods and Pioneer Hi-Bred boards of directors, told him 'that the deal cut with the Justice Department could only be accomplished if all the board members kept their lips sealed as demanded by the Justice Department.'

But, Hoech told Reno in his letter, 'people are talking . . . showing how your department has turned Lady Justice into a street prostitute with Justice for sale.'"
So, I guess prostitutes don't send criminals to jail, they just get paid (oh, this is a pretty good article in it's entirety).

Think maybe anything is changed?

Hell, thought I was going to move on, but then I sumbled on to this:ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND:
PRICE-FIXER TO THE WORLD by John M. Connor

The purpose of this paper is to describe the operation of several large price-fixing conspiracies involving wet-corn milling products and to analyze a number of legal and economic issues raised by these events. The paper begins with a brief description of the markets for and market structures of lysine, citric acid, corn sweeteners, and vitamins. A short profile of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) indicates a company with a leadership and corporate culture well suited to reckless collusive behavior and well positioned in markets that had nearly all the features necessary to carry out such a scheme. The next section chronicles the operation of the three conspiracies as far as that is possible from the public records. The final section of this paper examines the legal and economic issues surrounding the proper estimation of antitrust damages.
The importance of these topics is demonstrated by the paper's six major conclusions:

C ADM was at the center of at least two international price-fixing conspiracies
involving wet-corn-milling products, circa 1992-1995: lysine, citric acid, and
allegedly corn sweeteners. Buyers in the U.S. were overcharged $220 to $345
million for the first two products alone.

C Collusion began in the market for bulk vitamins in late 1999 and spread through the Hoffmann-La Roche and ADM companies to citric acid and lysine in 1991 and 1992, respectively. By the time that collusion ceased in early 1999, nearly $40 billion in global commerce had been affected.

C In terms of the monetary damages paid, these are by far the largest price-fixes in antitrust history. The huge fines paid by ADM and its co-conspirators were unprecedented; future fines and damages could reach more than five times the overcharges generated by a conspiracy.

C The events have spurred the Department of Justice (DOJ) into investigating more than 30 international commodity cartels for criminal price fixing. Since the ADM cases, four more cartels have been uncovered and prosecuted.

C ADM management practices have been called into question; ADM=s board of directors changed over night; the AAndreas= Era@ at ADM may be over; and three ADM managers were found guilty of criminal price-fixing.

C These events demonstrate that import competition is no longer sufficient condition for good domestic competition and that companies with vastly different corporate cultures and globally dispersed operations can easily learn to conspire. The extraterritorial reach of the antitrust laws is more needed than ever.
Why do companies conspire to raise prices, divide markets, or restrain production? The answer is that all such actions boost profits to levels significantly higher than those that would be generated in the absence of collusive behavior. The impact on profits from even a modest increase in price (assuming costs remain the same) is quite large. Aristotle, perhaps the world=s first economic thinker, recognized that small changes in price or output levels would have large impacts on corporate income.1 For example, if a conspiracy causes prices to rise a modest ten percent, the percentage increase in net income will be enormously larger. The average pre-tax profits of semiprocessed food ingredients have historically been about 3 percent of sales. In the organic chemicals industry the comparable return was 6 percent of sales. Thus, a 10 percent price elevation translates into an increase of 167 percent to 333 percent increase in average profits for firms in those industries.

Why individuals conspire to fix prices, often in the face of legal or corporate proscriptions, is more complicated. Senior managers may receive bonuses that depend on their profit-center's financial performance, so personal greed may well play a role. More commonly, price fixers are trying to fix looming financial problems. The prospects of slow market growth, declining market share, or squeezed profits can be magically reversed by an effective price-fixing arrangement. Perhaps the sheer thrill of participating in a secret, dangerous activity motivates some. Merely moving markets, a power allegedly reserved for the Chairman of the Federal Reserve System and few other mortals, may be reason enough.
And, no I did not read this entire paper, but I probably should. 
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GEORGE W. BUSH - TOUGH ENOUGH TO TORTURE CHILDREN
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  • A rant and a Prediction
  • Rick Eddy on NASCAR and 'Bidness'
  • The continuing saga of Rick Eddy on The Temple of Doom:
  • Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part One)
  • Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part Two)
  • Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part Three)
  • Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part Four)
  • Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part Five)


  • The Dailys:
  • lies.com
  • MaxSpeak
  • pandagon.net
  • The Blogging of the President: 2004
  • Modulator
  • North Georgia Dogma
  • The Corpus Callosum
  • Drunken Monkey Style Blogging
  • Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog.

  • As time permits:
  • Intel Dump
  • Orcinus Fair and Balanced
  • FuturePundit.com
  • Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal a Weblog
  • Marginal Revolution
  • How Appealing
  • Chris C Mooney
  • Kevin Drum
  • Cyborg Democracy
  • Cursor.org
  • Iraq Now
  • butterfliesandwheels.com
  • Atrios
  • Talking Points Memo
  • Roger Ailes
  • The Panda's Thumb
  • corrente
  • WorldChanging: Another World Is Here
  • The Truth Laid Bear
  • Fables of the reconstruction
  • Oliver Willis: Like Kryptonite To Stupid
  • Kieran Healy's Weblog
  • Happy Furry Puppy Story Time with Norbizness
  • TheAgitator.com
  • Paperwight's Fair Shot
  • Lotus - Surviving a Dark Time
  • thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse
  • The River
  • Mind is Moving
  • commonSci
  • dr. menlo: promoting people over profits since 2000
  • Where We're Bound
  • Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things
  • NET POLITIK
  • Public Domain Progress

  • Infrequent, but worthy posters:
  • Rogue Analyst (My other blog)
  • CenterPoint - A Centrist Weblog
  • scratchings
  • Inspector Lohmann


  • Excellent sources of info:
  • Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin
  • TomDispatch
  • KurzweilAI.net
  • Open Government Information Awareness
  • SPACE.com
  • Agnosticism / Atheism - Skeptical Inquiry, Freethought, & Religious Philosophy
  • Defense and the National Interest
  • Google News
  • TCS: Tech Central Station - Where Free Markets Meet Technology
  • ajeeb, News
  • Corp Watch
  • Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments
  • GlobalSecurity.org
  • Moving Ideas: Connecting You To The Progressive Community
  • The Memory Hole [rescuing knowledge, freeing information]
  • The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
  • -:| CHINA TODAY |:-
  • Alex Jones' Prison Planet.com: The Earth Is Being Turned Into A Prison Planet
  • Alex Jones Presents Infowars.com to Fight the New World Order --There's a War on For Your Mind
  • THE WAR IN CONTEXT:: Iraq, the War on Terrorism, and the Middle East Conflict - in Critical Perspective


  • Fun and off the beaten path:
  • GHOST TOWN - Chernobyl Pictures - Kidofspeed - Elena
  • Cooperative Extension Service (GA)- Publications
  • MEGA START PAGE
  • The Vaults of Erowid
  • Eyeballing Series


  • What I'm listening to:
  • Radio Paradise - eclectic online rock radio
  • Shameless plug
  • Big Rock Studio Technologies


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