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Radically Inept
Friday, July 23, 2004
  SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

This is certainly a cool site to look around in. Lots of cool galleries,and links: SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids.

Like these sun spot photos, like: this one. If that isn't one of the coolest 'naturally' occurring fractals, I don't know what is.

Or this sun spot photo.

Anyway, I'm done sharing, I'm going back to playing...

Had to add this: Orbit Simulation. There are several, and the interface even let's you watch the different orbital paths in motion. 
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  Plastic people win wars beautifully

The Modulator: Huh! points to this, Bigger Breasts for Free: Join the Army, which states in part:
The U.S. Army has long lured recruits with the slogan "Be All You Can Be," but now soldiers and their families can receive plastic surgery, including breast enlargements, on the taxpayers' dime....

...that members of all four branches of the U.S. military can get face-lifts, breast enlargements, liposuction and nose jobs for free -- something the military says helps surgeons practice their skills.
So, will the military see an increase of ugly citizens joining the military, not out of patriotism, or even for an education, but to become one of the 'beautiful people'.

The Army can change it's slogan from "An Army of One", which sucked, to "An Army of skinny people w/ huge tits", or "Join the Army, we will make you a plastic person", or maybe "Plastic people win wars beautifully"?

I up for suggestions, and I think the military will welcome them as well.

Will the military now start making uniforms sexier to show off the new found cleavage?

Will the enemy be able to identify American military personal because they are uncommonally good to look at and well endowed. Can you win a war by 'out prettying' the enemy?

Of course, as the Modulator points out, the skills may come in real handy fixing our wounded and doing reconstructive surgery upon return, but still. This is an odd benefit for the military to provide to its service members.

I think it's obvious from the tone I've taken, that for my part, I think 'elective' plastic surgery is for those people who suffer from massive insecurities and are somehow still vain. Not the kind of people I like to hang w/ anyway. I prefer to be around people of substance, not just 'good looks'. And, if you really are so worried about your looks, how much substance can you have?

I know our culture tends to judge people by how they look, inspite of the best efforts of the naive idealists of the sixties, but that's because our culture is about as deep as a Seinfeld episode. 
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  Used cars and the CIA

I wandered over to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart via The Blogging of the President: 2004, and it reminded me of a couple of quotes that I had included in a previous paper, A look at some of the costs of secrecytoday, and now appear to be even more relevant:
"A national security system was in place, and would thereafter be on the defensive more than otherwise. It became easy to argue that the Government was hiding something. Conspiracy theories emerged to explain misfortune or predict disaster. There is nothing novel in the appearance of conspiratorial fantasies, but it could be argued that it is something new for large portions of the American public to believe that agencies designed to protect them are, in fact, endangering them."
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Report of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, 1997 (SENATE DOCUMENT 105-2 PURSUANT TO PUBLIC LAW 236, 103RD CONGRESS).

One of the most interesting points I found in the Reportwas that it also looked at the broader intelligence community distributed among various departments and agencies, the related contractor organizations and a large host of university and research institutions as a large information economy. In this light, the report views secrecy and the classification system as a set of regulations, and provides insight into how the system distorts the information economy. Of course, much of this must rely on extrapolation from the data available, as this regulatory system self regulates itself into intentional/unintentional levels of obscurity. The report states that secrecy is the ultimate mode of regulation; leaving citizens unaware that they are being regulated. Regulations of the normal nature inform a citizen about his required behavior and are therefore disseminated to inform the citizen. In contrast, secrecy regulates what knowledge a citizen may have, but does not let him know what he legally may not know.As Sen. Moynihan stated in the Chairman's Forward
Even so, "overregulation" is a continuing theme in American public life, as in most modern administrative states. Secrecy would be such an issue, save that secrecy is secret. Make no mistake, however. It is a parallel regulatory regime with a far greater potential for damage if it malfunctions.
Ah, so what you ask?

Well, there's this from Evan Thomas, Gaining Access to CIA's Records, Studies in Intelligence, Volume 39 Number 5, 1996:
"Polls show that nearly 80 percent of Americans believe JFK died as a result of a conspiracy, and about half believe the CIA was somehow involved. Whatever remains in the CIA files cannot be nearly as awful as the American public imagines. To be sure, I hardly saw everything there was to see, but I got not even a whiff of dirty tricks that had somehow remained hidden from Church Committee investigators or the army of historians and authors who write about the CIA. I really believe that it would be in the Agency's interest to let historians see for themselves what remains classified. I do not see why the Agency does not declassify almost any secret that is more than 30 years old."
The question now seems even more relevant, "Why the Agency does not declassify almost any secret that is now more than 40 years old?"

But the bigger point is, why should I trust our intelligence community? Their bunglings, disasters, and even their radical ineptness is well known. Ah you counter, they can't tell you about their successes.

Okay, so how do I know they had any? And besides, if you can miss the Soviets putting missiles in Cuba (which came damn close to starting a nuclear holocaust), the development of nuclear weapons by India, Pakistan, Israel and N Korea, and then mistakenly say that Iraq has WMD and allow us to go to war - what the fuck successes have you had that make up for failures of this magnitude?

Bungled assassination attempts. Moles destroying intelligence networks. The emplacement of ruthless dictators into power to serve our corporate interests?

And, why should I, as a tax payer provide you huge amounts of money, that you spend on who-knows-what, based on trust?

Our entire intelligence system reminds me of a used car sales operation. "Don't worry, this car is a cream puff. Our maintenance team has looked it over, and we're so confident, we'll give you a 90 day warranty. And, we can arrange all the financing right here. Trust me. You'll love this car."

Yeah, right. A buddy I used to work w/ told me how new and used car sales work. New car sales are for amateurs - they hire someone, promise them the world, and expect them to last about three months - the time it takes to sell a car to their mother, and two friends, 'cause after that, most fail. The real pros (best con men) are over at the used car lot. That's where the real money is.

And that's how I look at the CIA. They are the 'used car salesmen' of our government. They just keep telling us, "You don't have to look under the hood of our "intelligence vehicle"; don't worry - trust us. Our crack maintenance team, the supposed intelligence oversight committees, have looked it all over, and it's fine. Really. We'll give you a 90 day warranty on this war." And then of course, "Come back when you're ready for your next war, misadventure, etc."

The worst part of the system, is that lies and mistakes are self re-enforcing. The first person stamps something secret for; the second person assumes it must be the truth - because it's stamped secret. Why would you go to the trouble of guarding a lie? The next person in line, knows it's the truth, because now there are two secret stamps on it, so it must be true. And on up the chain of command.

On the otherhand, most of this stuff, can be found out in open sources. As Robert David Steele states at OSS.Net, Inc. in "New Rules for the New Craft of Intelligence":
002 Value-Added Comes from Analysis, Not Secret Sources
The all-source analyst can no longer rest their conclusions and their reputation on the 2% of the information they deal with, most of it from secret sources. In an era when over 90% -- some would say over 95% -- of the relevant information is readily available to anyone in the private sector, and especially in the absence of processing and translation capabilities available to the mainstream profit-making institutions, it is analytic tradecraft -- a truly superior ability to create value-added insights through superior analytical knowledge (including historical knowledge) and technique -- that distinguishes and gives value to the new craft of analysis.
And, this is where the CIA appears not to do a very good job. Hell, they couldn't predict the collapse of the Soviet Union, when I could back when I was 13 years old. All you had to do was go over to East Berlin, the pride of the Soviet Bloc outside of Moscow, and you could see their economy could not survive. Just walk into the stores, there was almost nothing on the shelves. The East German border guards would give you uniform items for a pack of American cigarettes, and the entire uniform off their back for a copy of Penthouse. Hell, they couldn't even maintain the autobahns in East Germany. They hadn't been touched since Hitler had them constructed. And yet, we were supposedly surprised by the rapid fall of the USSR in the last couple of years.

So, personally, I view the CIA as either criminally inept, or criminal. I'm not sure which would be worse, but I'm sure as hell tired of my tax dollars going to fund a bunch of largely elitist cronies playing war games with my money, and showing me any return on my investment.
 
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Thursday, July 22, 2004
  Rick - Bush is not Hitler.

I should first point out that I'm a huge fan of jbc's over at
lies.com. In fact, it was his blog that got me interested in blogging, and is still one the first places I go.

However, here recently, this past Sunday to be specific, he posted this piece: Why You Should Vote for Bush which opens with:
This should more-properly be titled "Why I should vote for Bush," it being my good-faith effort to convince myself that I should do just that.

Why am I doing such a thing? I guess because I want to make sure I'm considering the question as objectively as I can, divorced as much as possible from my preconceptions. Also, I'm interested in how the arguments I would make to myself differ from the arguments that are made to those actually likely to vote for him."
And he concludes with:
So that's it. Those are all the reasons I've been able to think of that seem like good reasons to me to vote for George Bush. I've done my best to present them fairly and honestly. They're not strawmen (though Bush opponents are welcome to knock them down, should they wish to). After considering all those reasons as objectively as I can, am I willing to vote for Bush?

I don't know. Probably not. But I'm going to do my best to keep an open mind going forward. I probably won't make my final decision until election day.
Which for some strange reason, it has grated on me.

In my initial comments to the post, I pointed to these items:
Oh, one more element to the positive, if something were to happen to Baby Bush, then we could have Cheney. I'm sure he's all about sizing the middle east oil, and keeping us at war for profit, and cheap gas to peddle to the SUV drivers.

Oh, and just think how much better local communities will be in four more years of Baby Bush' environmental policies. I hope your kids don't have asthma.

Oh, and under this administration, you won't have to worry about maintaining any personal privacy.

If arrested you won't have to worry about ever paying a lawyer, as you probably will never see one. But that will save court costs, and surely the savings will be spent on something worthwhile like a missile defense shield and nuclear bunker busters.

Americans won't have to worry about using their first amendment rights, since the zones are so far away, no one ever sees them, you can stay home, and save on sign making.

Oh, and we can have more torture and child molestation, which will engender us to pass, er, nothing, I guess.

I’m w/ you! I didn’t ever want to work again anyway, and w/ four more years of Bush, I won’t ever have to worry about finding a job.
And a_stupid_box stated in reply to mine and a couple of other commenters:
"If you're talking about writing a "case for Bush" then I'm not surprised. The ability to play devil's advocate and understand the opposition is the mark of an educated man and a fair critic.
To which I pointed out, that many of the same justifications could have been used by the Germans to rationalize Hitler. To which the a_stupid_box replied:
Rick - Bush is not Hitler. Simple as that. If he were you'd probably be in a camp right now based solely on your last name. People who compare Bush to Hitler are completely ignorant of the attrocities which happened in WWII.
And, since then, I've been worryin' the issue like my dog tries to chew through her knotted rope toys. Persistently.

Well, a couple of things came to me. One is, that for me, personally, it would be like someone tortured and murdered my brother, and then my attempting to to justify the murders actions and continued existence, and my willingness to support him. I can't do it. You say, "But Baby Bush did not murder your brother." "Ah, but how many Iraqis and US soldiers have died due to Baby Bush's idiocy, and I'll argue greed? Negligent homocide at best and I am somehow supposed to forgive him? As I've made clear, I'm no christian. I don't have to forgive evil people. Even if the evil people do not believe their evil, but are in fact the voice of god on our planet. I doubt many jews forgave Torquemada. I don't know which god told this idiot that now would be a good time to start a religious crusade, but I certainly don't have to give him nor the voices in his head the benefit of doubt.

Further, I see no reason to even entertain re-electing this corporatist swine. None. And every reason to want him to stand trial for war crimes.

And as not to being like Hitler, think about the fascist military state that is being set up here in our own country - for our own protection. This piece, from TomDispatch, "Will the President Escape From New York? by Nick Turse points to a great movie similarity:
The tagline for John Carpenter's 1981 cult sci-fi classic Escape From New York went 'New York City is now a maximum security prison. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane.' In that movie set in a then-unimaginable, futuristic '1997' Gotham, criminal Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) was charged with rescuing the President of the United States, whose plane had been downed in the walled-in, armed and angry prison island that Manhattan had become. With his life and freedom riding on saving a man he holds in contempt, Snake eventually fights an epic battle in world famous Madison Square Garden in his bid to save the president.

Today, as in the movie, many New Yorkers are angry at the president, and as in Carpenter's grim vision of the future, at least parts of New York City will be in a state of lockdown for the President's arrival -- with a major showdown due to take place somewhere in the vicinity of Madison Square Garden (MSG). In Carpenter's future, Manhattan was a walled-in fortress island under high-tech government surveillance, guarded by heavily armed security forces, with helicopters perpetually overhead -- a futuristic Alcatraz Island of epic proportions.

In our 2004, the authorities have an eerily similar vision of how the city should be. Madison Square Garden will be walled in by a fence or "other physical barrier" with additional "movable barricades," complete with checkpoints reinforced with heavy weapons. A new "closed-circuit surveillance video system" will be introduced; armed federal agents and police officers will be keeping watch; and plenty of helicopters will be circling overhead. In Carpenter's future, however, the government was in control and New Yorkers were locked down. In our present, the Bush administration and the Republican Party are the ones retreating into a fortified bunker."
A similarity he deftly throws in later in the article:
To contain protesters and "protect" GOP'ers and fellow travelers, New York City is engaging in some of the same sorts of permit games that typified the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Mayor Richard J. Daley's Chicago. For example, Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office has, with a helping hand from the city's parks department, thwarted efforts of the national coalition, United for Peace and Justice, to secure a permit for a march ending in a large-scale demonstration in Central Park. Officials have cited fears that the park's grass, home in the past to large demonstrations and huge concerts, would take a beating. Just recently, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly decreed that the Park would be off-limits, as would Times Square. Instead, UFPJ was told it could utilize the sure-to-be-sweltering, distant West Side Highway. Even in Snake Plissken's Manhattan, Central Park was open!
And after he goes threw the extensive list of security measures to be put in place - Secret Service, the DoD, Homeland Security, etc., and the similarity gets in yet again in his conclusion::
The President, who continually tells us that our world is safer due to him, aims to arrive in an alien "New York City" out of some lock-down sci-fi movie -- a place specially prepared to make him the safest man on Earth. And yet New York isn't a stage set and the best laid plans of frightened and controlling officials do have a way of coming undone, just as they did last February in New York when, having been prohibited from marching, hundreds of thousands of protesters, directed toward police "pens" snarled traffic and literally took over large portions of the city. Who knows in what strange ways life will burst into New York despite official efforts to empty the city and lock down Madison Square Garden? For as the folks at the RNCNotWelcome.org Collective note:
"If we are diffused throughout the city, we will have a much better advantage. After all, the real target is not Madison Square Garden, the stage of the spectacle, but the various events where deals are made - where the lobbyists wine, dine, and bribe Bush & Co. [T]he RNC has promised to stage events and photo ops in every borough of the city, not just in Manhattan. If we are truly everywhere in this very big city, the police cannot be concentrated in one area..."
In John Carpenter's vision of the future New Yorkers had lost their war against an American police state. In our present, it's up to the rest of us to make sure that doesn't happen. Only we can burst Bush's bubble!
Actually, I can play devil's advocate. Really. All I have to do, is approach the issue as if I was going to get a job as a storm trooper, who would be able to have massive power over my fellow citizens. I could then justify voting for Baby Bush. But , I don't have such ambitions. I never wanted to rule anyone else. I kind of liked living in a free republic rather than in some misbegotten dictatorship/empire.

Let me conclude at my most uneducated, ignorant, intolerant worst:
Baby Bush' policies are destroying our economy, our scientific community, our military, our freedoms, our form of government, our environment, our world stature...Our country. If you can honestly consider voting for Baby Bush in November, you are either in line to profit on his policies, you've been decieved by his lies, or you haven't been paying attention and don't care. The first and the last are criminal.






 
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  Admin: Some links, and a pretty funny video

I don't have a clue as to how I got here. I've been waiting since yesterday to access blogger, and I just finally got in. Worse, it may have been my own fault (cookies somehow got disabled for blogger.

These are links I will who either have or are well on their way to rating a link here:

Not blogs:
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
Blogs:

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
Anyway, this appears to be a great site, Alex Jones' Prison Planet.com: The Earth Is Being Turned Into A Prison Planet and it has this link to:

Funny Video Here---> AtomFilms - This Land.

If you ever need to reboot or find out serial numbers, codes, whatever, that your computer is running, you can try running Belarc. I run it, print it out, and in case I have problems, I have all the specs. 
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004
  Admin: Gone to apply for substitute teacher position

I have a fair amount to report on a couple of campaign victory parties I attended last night, but right now, the Pacifier and I are going over to the DeKalb county school board to apply as substitute teachers. I'll also go into a little detail on the subject.

Anyway, expect posts w/ a little meat in them to come later today... 
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Tuesday, July 20, 2004
  The CEO market place

The Modulator pointed to this post by Kevin Drum over at The Washington Monthly:
"Supply and demand. Yes indeed. The labor market is a slave to supply and demand just like any other market, right?

Odd, then, that CEO pay rose 27% in 2003, isn't it? Did the supply of CEOs shrink last year? Did demand skyrocket?

What's more, compared to average workers, who remain stuck in the invisible grip of Adam Smith, CEO pay has increased about 3x since 1990 and about 7x since 1980.

Is this the free market at work? That's what I'm told. So I have a contest in mind: a prize for the least laughable explanation for why CEO pay has gone up 7x since 1980 based on supply and demand. At a minimum, winning entries should explain the following:


Why the supply of CEOs has decreased.


Why the demand for CEOs has increased.


Why the elasticity of the CEO demand curve is apparently steeper than for any other commodity on the planet.


Please keep your entries under 100,000 words, and restrict your econometrics to fields no more complex than differential topology.
The question appears to be so intrigueing that in excess of over a hundred posts are vying for the prize - to be disclosed later.

I couldn't resist putting in my 7.5 cents worth, though I doubt my analysis will win. Here it is anyway (though I think I'll go ahead and edit it. Oooh, I didn't think it was that bad):
Someone above also said something about compensation v risk. However, too many of these CEO's have done very little to improve their companies. In fact, many CEO's preside over losses, and still receive way too much compesation.

Continuing the use of sports as an analogy [many of the commenters did at TWM], let's look to baseball. The Yankees and the Braves, consistently have the highest payrolls in baseball. Yet, frequently, it is teams like Pittsburgh, the Twins or the Expos that win with salaries at the bottom of the rankings, with players that other teams failed to see talent in. Of course, the following year, the high payroll teams 'steal' the lower paid players.

This doesn't happen in the CEO market. No one looks to see who is doing well at smaller companies. The CEO market actually is very large, but the major corporations seem to look only at other major corporate CEOs when trying to fill the position from the outside. There is therefore a 'self inflicted' narrow market and I'd argue, a huge opportunity cost that major corporations incur.

So, it would appear that most major corporations operate with self-inflicted market asymmetries.

But the real reason is it's a monopoly market that restricts itself to a 'good ol' boy' system, and refuses to look outward as well as inward for a more economical product.

A different, and perhaps better, analogy, might be the AMA. The AMA through various processes restricts the number of doctors that come out of the American medical education system. Only so many schools are allowed to be accredited, and only so many positions available in each school. If there were truly an open market, than anyone who passes the MCAT would get into med school. And anyone who passes med school would get an ooportunity at a residency, and anyone that successfully finished their residency, would be a doctor. Of course, if you opened the medical profession like that, the market would have so many doctors, that they would proabably have to go back to making house calls at plumbers/electrician rates. Wouldn't you love to have a doctor make a house call for $150 minimum plus $60/hr?

Note that the trades, especially here in the South, where most states are right-to-work states (read: right to fire employees on a whim), their rate increases have largely followed inflation.

So, the markets for CEOs and Doctors are intentionally inefficient, and the cost burden is shifted to the consumer and shareholders.
Anyway, that was my Radically Inept attempt at explaining the obscene salary packages that CEOs are getting lately. 
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  Voting in the Georgia Primary today - And it SUX

And I hate it. I love voting. I just hate the primary system we have here in Georgia - many other states have similar systems.

Why do I hate this system? Well, I am an independent. I have voted dem, repub, green, libertarian, and independent. I try to vote for the individual I want, not the party. I really hate the party system, especially as the two parties that dominate government here in the US, have consolidated all the corruption. They both suck.

Thomas Jefferson knew it would suck, but was 'forced' into becoming the father of the party system here in the US:
"After the election of 1796, Jefferson realized that the American political system was on the verge of a major change. Even though the Founding Fathers had not intended for there to be any political parties (and George Washington had tried as hard as possible to be non-partisan for that very reason), political parties were going to be the wave of the future. Due to his great respect throughout the country, Washington had been able to levitate above the partisan factions. But no one else would ever be able to repeat that bipartisan performance. No subsequent president would credibly claim to be above the fray. Jefferson was the first American leader to realize that the president must forever after be the head of a political party. It is for this reason that Jefferson deservs to be regarded as the Founding Father of the two-party system in America."
Not enough of an explanation?

Well, I live in a county/district that will not elect a republican to any office for the forseeable future at a local level. So, if I don't vote in the democratic primary today, come the general election in November, I will have no choice in my local government. These races 'will' be decided today. Come November, in most local races, those that directly affect me and my family the most, will moot.

My first experience voting here in the primary, I chose to declare myself an independent, and to my surprise (I confess, I was naive about the Georgia system), my ballot consisted of a judgeship and a referendum. Then came November, and I looked at the general ballot, and all the local races were decided. All the candidates in the local races by that time were unopposed. They would win whether anyone showed up at the polls for the general election or not.

And if I want to help decide who my congressional rep will be - there is one republican running for, I guess, show. Unless our computer ballots are fixed, she has no chance in this district - 4th District seat - so again, I should choose the dem ballot.


The reverse is also true many years, and probably this one. The next Georgia US Senator is in all likelihood going to be a republican:
Although there have been few polls commissioned for Georgia's open Senate seat, the conventional wisdom is that the seat is a GOP lock. One increasingly cloudy piece of wisdom is that retiring US reps Mac Collins and Johnny Isakson will face each other in a runoff.
So, if I want a real choice in who my US senator will be, I should choose the republican ballot, because come November, the republican candidate will in all probability (barring the predicted run off, which I doubt will be needed - the smart money is on Isakson) be decided today.

The biggest choice I face today, is do I want to have a say in who my US senator is, or my congressional rep and local county officials will be, or stick to principal and take the independent ballot.

If I stick to principal and take an independent ballot today, I pretty much give up my voice in the political system.

Final comment: If we must have a party system, I'd at least like to have 5 or 7 different parties. Not because I'd like that much choice, though I would, but because it would force corporations to 'bribe' lots of people, instead of just two. Let's at least spread the corporate graft around a little. Open the market and deprive the repubs and dems of the dualopoly powers.
 
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  Admin: Haloscan problems anyone?

I made a couple of comments yesterday at scratchings: A Must Read and Inspector Lohmann, Rondo I, and today when I check back, they're gone. I can't even comment on some blogs that use Haloscan. I hit the link and nothing happens, for instance over at Orcinus.

I use Haloscan here, but I've also provide the reader the option of using 'blogger's' comment system - the small subscript 'comments' next to the time stamp - in case readers are having difficulties posting comments here. I also found out, that by integrating the 'blogger' comment system, it's easier to 'link' to specific postings.

So feel free to use either system. It may wind up w/ me having to review two different sets of comment threads, and you might think I should just use the 'blogger' system, but I like the Haloscan interface...when it works. 
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Monday, July 19, 2004
  What looks to be a pretty good blog

I'm sure others are already familiar with this site, Public Domain Progress, but this is the first time I've visited. I like the content, and I think I'll wind up adding it to the links list.

Besides, the site has an excellent set of links, including a lot of foreign media links.  
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  New search engine alternative, Blinkx

Via the KurzweilAI.net Newsletter comes info on a new web search system called Blinkx. Supposedly, it's growing real fast. and may eventually be a major competitor of Google.

I'll have to use it a few times before I can really comment on it's utility, but here's the Guardian Unlimited's write up on it, All eyes on Blinkx:
"Blinkx has two selling points. First, it doesn't only search the web but simultaneously scours news sites, emails, attachments and your own hard disk. It does all this unobtrusively in the background until you pass your cursor over icons at the top or bottom of the page, when it reveals a digest of related sites as well as material from Word, Excel or PDF files. If you are working in a word processing document, it provides the same service.
And, I guess I'll have to check their privacy policy, though. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable w/ it searching MY harddrive, though there's really nothing on it. sort of the principal, I guess.

Anyway, the article goes on to say:
It also searches blogs. This function has just been added because Malik suggested it would be a good thing to do. 'I didn't appreciate the significance until he wrote the article and then I thought, 'Right, I get it',' she said disarmingly. Blinkx can also search digital TV on the internet, which, in practice, means video output from the BBC. Why? 'Because the BBC posts its digital TV free on the internet.'

Both Google and Microsoft are working on unified engines that search your desktop as well as the web, and some others already do it. But Rittweger believes Blinkx is the only one that offers all these facilities including video search now. So the company has a window of opportunity in a market where consumers can switch allegiance with two blinkx of an eyelid.

The second selling point is that, unlike Google, it uses artificial intelligence to rate stories, not page rankings. 'What it is trying to say,' she explains, 'is that all words are not equal in a sentence... Quite critically, if you are looking at a document and trying to figure out what it means, Blinkx reads everything you are reading and sorts out what are the key ideas.'

Blinkx's planned business model involves getting advertising revenue from contextual adverts, product channels and white labelling, but she emphasises that the search is independent: it is mathematically based and just looks at words and their context. She adds: "It is clean, but users don't know that so we show our advertisements in a different colour". "
So we'll see, but I'm all about have different search options. I've found Google highly functional, but...

Oh, and let's see how their policies develop over time.

Cross posted at American Samizdat under the same title

Up Date: 1637 hrs EST.
Ah, Harry suggests KartOO visual meta search engine as a search engine. And after having looked at it, I think it's pretty cool. You will have to have Flash Player loaded for the site. 
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  Trying to start the Monday Mornin' off on a positive note

Okay, from my Center For Public Environmental Oversight newsletter, came this interesting story/memo sent by Susan L. Gawarecki, Ph.D., Executive Director
Oak Ridge Reservation Local Oversight Committee, Inc.:
Subject: Highly Selective, Regenerable Perchlorate Treatment System

The Highly Selective, Regenerable Perchlorate Treatment System,
developed by Baohua Gu, Gilbert Brown and David Cole of Oak Ridge
National Laboratory (ORNL) and Spiro Alexandratos of the University of
Tennessee won a R&D 100 Award. The awards are presented annually by
R&D Magazine in recognition of the year's most significant technological
innovations. ORNL's total places it first among DOE laboratories and
second only to General Electric.


The Highly Selective, Regenerable Perchlorate Treatment system uses a unique, highly specific resin to trap the perchlorate, or ClO4, destroy it, and regenerate itself so it can be reused. Perchlorate, the primary ingredient of solid rocket propellant, is increasingly being discovered in soil and water. The chemical disrupts function of the human thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism in adults and physical development in children.

The system created by ORNL uses a process known as selective ion
exchange, which is the preferred treatment technology for removing
contaminants such as perchlorate from water. However, the resins often
absorb chemicals other than those targeted for cleanup. They also become
contaminated and must be disposed of, destroyed or stored, which is
costly and often impractical.


The reaction in the ORNL treatment system that destroys the perchlorate
also produces a chemical that regenerates the resin, breaking the
perchlorate down into harmless chloride and water. The result is an 80
percent reduction in costs over other ion exchange procedures and
elimination of the problem of secondary waste.


From a July 1, 2004, ORNL Press Release, see http://www.ornl.gov/news.


MEDIA CONTACT: Mike Bradley
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Communications & Community Outreach
(865) 576-9553
Which, if you've been paying any attention at all to defense site clean-ups, you know this is a good thing, especially if you live out west, and probably even more so if it's California. Unless you don't use the water, I mean.

If you are not familiar w/ the issue, try EPA NCEA - Perchlorate Environmental Contamination: Toxicological Review and Risk Characterization (2002 External Review Draft). Be aware though, so far the EPA has failed/refused to set a standard for perchlorate. I doubt it will happen under this administration.

There is also a lot of perchlorate pollution here, back east, though so far it doesn't seem to have hit the water supply as bad as it has in California, or at least the media isn't reporting it. But, I think the really big surprise (or maybe not), is how much perchlorate contamination we are going to find in Alabama.

Boy, howdy! Here is a potential for a class action suit. Many of you may not be aware, but think NASA, Redstone Arsenal's "Firsts" and Missilery. If any place will probably benefit from an effective treatment of perchlorate, it could well be Huntsville and North-Eastern Alabama. Odd, no mention of Redstone Arsenal on the map, maybe the Army thinks they can hide it? Notice the major river systems in the area.

Oh, one more item of potential interest here, maybe the reason the people of Alabama are not concerned about perchlorate in their water supply is that they don't know about it! Ah, ignorant Alabamians, you say? Well, if you'll look Environmental Information (R), the Public Release Approval Sys (R), and Regulations | Policies (R), are restricted; hence the (R). See. Our government is making sure that the terrorists don't know about the environmental problems, and the poor citizens suffer, I guess?

Or maybe, just maybe, no one wants the Arsenal on the Superfund list, cause I'll bet the bill for clean up is more than a month's wages. Hell, I can almost guarantee, that a 'real' clean-up, will cost more than we've spent on Iraq so far.

You have to love this administration.

Anyway, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge ORNL) has a pretty good site, and there is some decent info available at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: News, and ORNL in the News on their web site.

Still trying to end on a positive note, if there is a safe, effective method of cleaning up the perchlorate, so much the better; the sooner we do it.

NOTE: sorry, I tried to stay positive, but it's just so hard now-a-days. 
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Sunday, July 18, 2004
  You have to be SMART to be republican

Jesus' General has posted a guide on how difficult the mental gymnastics are to be a good republican:
"Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddymade war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a 'we can't find Bin Laden' diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing UN resolutions against Iraq.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton."
I mean, I thought I was fairly smart, but I couldn't keep all those points straight. I get confused; I admit it.

NOTE: The comment below Jesus' General's poost said this was all over the internet. Okay. Now it's hear. 
|
GEORGE W. BUSH - TOUGH ENOUGH TO TORTURE CHILDREN
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