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Radically Inept
Saturday, August 21, 2004
  I want a sign just like this

No drugs, no nukes 
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Friday, August 20, 2004
  When it's SNAFU and FUBAR, rely on humor

Alright. This in from Spock. Yes, it's full of military acronyms. Those of you who get it: Get it. Those of you who don't: Google. I found it hysterical.

"I finally figured out that when a Turkish officer tells you, "It's no
problem," he means, for him." Maj (EUCOM)


"Never in the history of the US Armed Forces have so many done so much
for so few..." MAJ (Task Force Warrior) on the "success" of the Free
Iraqi Forces (FIF) Training Program, where 1100 Army troops trained 77
Iraqi exiles at the cost of, well, way too much...


"Our days are spent trying to get some poor, unsuspecting third world
country to pony up to spending a year in a sweltering desert, full of
pissed-off Arabs who would rather shave the back of their legs with a
cheese grater than submit to foreign occupation by a country for whom
they have nothing but contempt." LTC (JS) on the joys of coalition
building


"OSD will continue to drive this cart into the ground long after the
wheels have been sold on E-bay." MAJ (JS) on the progress of FIF


"Please don't laugh. This is my job. Maj (EUCOM) from Protocol,
explaining in great detail the approved procedures for dropping off VIPs


"I guess the next thing they'll ask for is 300 US citizens with
Hungarian last names to send to Iraq..." MAJ (JS) on the
often-frustrating process of building the Iraqi coalition for Phase IV


"If we wait until the last minute to do it, it'll only take a minute."
MAJ (EUCOM)


"The only reason that anything ever gets done is because there are
pockets of competence in every command. The key is to find them...and
then exploit the hell out of 'em." CDR (CENTCOM)


"Working with Hungary is like watching a bad comedy set on auto
repeat..." LCDR (EUCOM)


"Between us girls, would it help to clarify the issue if you knew that
Hungary is land-locked?" CDR to MAJ (EUCOM) on why a deployment from
Hungary is likely to proceed by air vice sea
"We are condemned men who are chained and will row in place until we
rot." LtCol (CENTCOM) on life at his Command


"Right now we're pretty much the ham in a bad ham sandwich..." GO/FO
(EUCOM)


"So, what do you wanna do?"..."I dunno, what do YOU wanna do?"..."I
dunno,
what do YOU wanna do?," etc. COL (DIA) describing the way OUSD(S)
develops and implements their strategies


"Let's face it: Africa sucks..." DOS representative (Bureau of African
Affairs) at a conference on Africa


"One of the secrets to maintaining my positive attitude in this job is
this: I complete no tasker before its time..." MAJ (EUCOM)


"It is nothing for US soldiers to be in the desert for a year without a
woman. It is different for us, though, because we are Latin..." LTC
(LATAM country) on one of the differences between Latin American
soldiers and their US counterparts


"I'll be right back. I have to go pound my nuts flat..." Lt Col (EUCOM)
after being assigned a difficult tasker


"I guess this is the wrong power cord for the computer, huh?" LtCol
(EUCOM) after the smoke cleared from plugging his 110V computer into a
220V outlet


"OK, this is too stupid for words." LTC (JS)


"When you get right up to the line that you're not supposed to cross,
the only person in front of you will be me!" CDR (CENTCOM) on his view
of the value of being politically correct in today's military


"There's nothing wrong with crossing that line a little bit, it's
jumping over it buck naked that will probably get you in trouble..." Lt
Col (EUCOM) responding to the above


"I may be slow, but I do poor work..." MAJ (USAREUR)


"Great! What we really need are some more 0-5s around here..." MAJ
(EUCOM) on the release of the list of 0-5 promotables


"Don't ever be the first...don't ever be the last...and don't ever
volunteer to do anything...." CDR (EUCOM) relating an ancient Navy
truism


"Hey, somebody should really do that..." CDR (CENTCOM) on the CENTCOM
tasking process


"Are you sure they aren't writing about us? Hell, at least we should
jump on that wholesale desertion thing..." Maj (CENTCOM) on the
following report from a newspaper: "(The Iraqi military was crippled
by)...a multitude of erratic orders and strategic miscalculations, while
its fighting units barely communicated with one another and were
paralyzed from a lack of direction...these woes were
compounded by incompetence, poor preparation, craven leadership and
(the) wholesale desertions of thousands of soldiers..."


"Cynicism is the smoke that rises from the ashes of burned out dreams."
Maj (CENTCOM) on the daily thrashings delivered to AOs at his Command
"WE are the reason that Rumsfeld hates us..." LTC (EUCOM) doing some
standard, Army self-flagellation


"South of the Alps and East of the Adriatic, paranoia is considered
mental equilibrium..."
"The chance of success in these talks is the same as the number of "R's"
in "fat chance..."" GS-15 (SHAPE)


"His knowledge on that topic is only power point deep..." MAJ (JS)


"We have no position on that issue. In fact, your position IS our
position.
Could you tell us what our position is?" CDR (TRANSCOM) at a policy SVTC


"Ya know, in this Command, if the world were supposed to end tomorrow,
it would still happen behind schedule." CWO4 (ret) (EUCOM)


"Even if Al-Qaeda nuked this place, the Chief of Staff would approve a
4-star visitor the very next day!" GS-12 (EUCOM)


"Never pet a burning dog." LTC (Tennessee National Guard)


"It's basically announcing to the world that I've completely given up."
LT (USN F-14 squadron) on his initial feelings behind the wheel of his
brand
new minivan


"A staff action is like getting an out of state check, countersigned by
a fraud on a phony ID: some of the time it clears, but most of the time,
you're screwed." Lt Col (USAF)


"I need intelligence, not information." Maj (EUCOM)


"Ah, the joys of Paris: a unique chance to swill warm wine and be
mesmerized by the dank ambrosia of unkempt armpits..." LCDR (NAVEUR)


"'Status quo,' as you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in...'"
Attributed to former President Ronald Reagan


"We are now past the good idea cutoff point..." MAJ (JS) on the fact
that somebody always tries to "fine tune" a COA with more "good ideas"


"Who are you talking to? ...Hang up the phone!" Lt Col mentoring MAJ
(EUCOM) on how to stay in his own lane...


"The hardest thing about having a third child is switching from 1-on-1
to a zone defense." MAJ (EUCOM)


"Nobody ever said you had to be smart to make 0-6." Col (EUCOM)


"I haven't complied with a darn thing and nothing bad has happened to me
yet."
"Whatever happened to good old-fashioned military leadership? Just task
the first two people you see."
"The first question I ask myself when tasked to do something that's not
obviously and overwhelmingly in my own best interest is, 'Exactly what
happens if I don't do it?'"


"Accuracy and attention to detail take a certain amount of time."


"No need to tip our hand as to how responsive we can be." CDR (EUCOM) in
a passdown to his replacement


"I seem to be rapidly approaching the apex of my mediocre career." MAJ
(JS)


"I think that my next set of orders will take me to Iraq. My career's
going so badly that I'm considered a 'dead-ender.'" Lt Col (EUCOM)


"I just realized that this War on Terror might take a little longer than
we thought, so I am developing a new system of hanging charts on walls
to solve our problem and win the war." LTC (EUCOM) after a review of
long range Counter Terrorism (CT) plans


"Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure
to make any progress." "None of us is as dumb as all of us." Excerpted
from a
brief (EUCOM)


"Things are looking up for us here. In fact, Papua-New Guinea is
thinking of offering two platoons: one of Infantry (headhunters) and one
of engineers (hut builders). They want to eat any Iraqis they kill.
We've got no issues with that, but State is being anal about it." LTC
(JS) on OIF coalition-building


"It's not a lot of work unless you have to do it." LTC (EUCOM)
"I'm gonna have to leave work early today and probably stay home
tomorrow. I'm fighting off a cold and I want to beat it before I start
my leave in two days." MAJ (EUCOM)


"Creating smoking holes gives our lives meaning and enhances our
manliness." LTC (EUCOM) at a CT conference


"Interagency is a process, not a noun." Anonymous (EUCOM)


"Eventually, we have to 'make nice' with the French, although, since I'm
new in my job, I have every expectation that I'll be contradicted." DOS
rep at a Counter Terrorism Conference


"Everyone should have an equal chance, but not everyone is equal."
"I am so far down the food chain that I've got plankton bites on my
butt."


"You can get drunk enough to do most anything, but you have to realize
going in that there are some things that, once you sober up and realize
what you have done, will lead you to either grab a 12-gauge or stay
drunk for the rest of your life."


"Once you accept that a dog is a dog, you can't get upset when it
barks." Lt Col (USSOCOM), excerpts


"That guy just won't take 'yes' for an answer." MAJ (EUCOM)


"Let's just call Lessons Learned what they really are:
institutionalized scab picking." "I can describe what it feels like
being a Staff Officer in two words: distilled pain." CDR (NAVEUR)


"When all else fails, simply revel in the absurdity of it all." LCDR
(CENTCOM)


"Never attribute to malice that which can be ascribed to sheer
stupidity." LTC (CENTCOM)


"They also serve, who sit and surf the NIPR." CPT (CENTCOM)


"I hear so much about Ft. Bragg. Where is it?" "It's in the western part
of southeastern North Carolina." LCDR and CPT (EUCOM)


"I've become the master of nodding my head and acting like I give a
sh!t, and then instantly forgetting what the hell a person was saying
the moment they walk away." Flag-level Executive A$$istant


"Mark my words, this internet thing is gonna catch on someday." LTC
(EUCOM)


"You're not a loser. You're just not my kind of winner..." GS-14 (OSD)


"He who strives for the minimum rarely attains it." GS-12 (DOS)


"I'm tired of waiting on somebody who I know is just going to ignore me
once they arrive." Lt Col (EUCOM), while waiting to start a brief for a
visiting VIP


"If I'd had more time, I'da written a shorter brief..." Derived from
the writings of Mark Twain
"Vision without funding is hallucination." Maj (EUCOM)


"I work at EUCOM. I know bullsh!t when I see it." LTC (EUCOM) in a game
of office poker


"You only know as much as you don't know." GO (EUCOM)


"I'm just livin' the dream..." EUCOM staffer response to the question,
"How's it going?" or, "What are you doing?"


"I'm just ranting...I have nothing useful to say." LTC (EUCOM)


"Why would an enemy want to bomb this place and end all the confusion?"
GS-14 (EUCOM)
"How soon before we can give this guy a medal, a good OER, and send him
on his way?" GS-12 (EUCOM) referring to his boss
"Other than the fact that there's no beer, an early curfew and women
that wear face coverings for a reason, Kabul is really a wonderful place
to visit." LTC (CENTCOM)


"It was seen, visually." LTC (EUCOM) during a Reconnaissance briefing


"Let me tell you about the benefits of being on a staff..." "This
should be a short conversation." LtCol to Lt Col (EUCOM)


"If you want to take down a country, gimme a call. We'll get it done."
GO/FO (EUCOM) to a gathering of US Amba$$adors


"Hello gentlemen. Are we in today or are you just ignoring my request?"
GS-15 (DSCA) in an email to EUCOM staffers


"After seeing the way this place works, I bet that Mickey Mouse wears a
EUCOM watch." Maj (EUCOM)


"Your Key Issues are so 2003..." CPT (CJTF-180) in January 2004


"USCENTCOM commanders announced today that they intend to maintain their
presence in Qatar "until the sun runs out of hydrogen," thus committing
the US to the longest duration deployment in human history. When asked
how they planned to maintain the presence in Qatar for a projected
length of 4 to 5 billion years, planners said "we're working on a plan
for that. We don't have one yet, but not having a plan or an intelligent
reason to do something has never been much of an impediment for us in
the past; we don't foresee it being a big show stopper for us in the
future either."


Among the options that were being discussed was an innovative program to
"interbreed" the deployed personnel. "We are going to actively encourage
the military members in Qatar to intermarry and raise children that will
replace them in the future. Sure, it may be a little hard on some of our
female service members, since there currently are about 8 men for every
woman over there, but we expect that to be OBE as the sex ratios will
even out in a generation or two. In any case the key to the plan is to
make these assignments not only permanent, but also inheritable and
hereditary. For example, if you currently work the JOC weather desk, so
will your children, and their children, and their children, ad
infinitum. We like to think of it as job security." CPT (CJTF-180)


"That's FUBIJAR." COL (CENTCOM), Fu--ed Up, But I'm Just a Reservist...



"As far as I'm concerned, I'm the only one that matters in here."
COL(CENTCOM)
"No matter how hard this Command beats me down, I am still able to get
it up." Maj (EUCOM)


"I keep myself confused on purpose, just in case I am captured and fall
into enemy hands!" GO/FO (CENTCOM)


"Cheese-dickery abounds at this Command." LtCol (EUCOM)


"Does anybody around here remember if I did anything this year?" LTC
(EUCOM) preparing his Officer Evaluation Report support form


"This is all happening because we had the sympathetic detonation of a
stress grenade." Maj (EUCOM) after an insignificant issue became a
theater focus because somebody used the "Reply all" function
"I'd be happy to classify this document for you. Could you tell me its
classification?" GS11 (EUCOM) in an email from the Foreign Disclosure
office


"Nothing is too good for you guys...and that's exactly what you're gonna
get..." LTC (EUCOM) describing the way Army policy is formulated


"The only thing that sucks worse than being me is being you..." LTC
(EUCOM)


"Why should I worry? Nobody here outranks me by that much." MAJ
(SOCEUR) briefing a group of 0-6s


"I have to know what I don't know..." Col (CENTCOM) during a shift
changeover briefing


"No. Now I'm simply confused at a higher level..." Foreign GO/FO when
asked if he had any questions following a transformation brief at JFCOM


"I'm planning on taking the weekend off...notionally..."LT (EUCOM)
midway through a huge, simulated command exercise


"'Leaning forward' is really just the first phase of 'falling on your
face.'" Col (MARFOREUR)


"I've heard of 'buzzwords' before but I have never experienced a 'buzz
sentence' or a 'buzz paragraph' until today." Maj (EUCOM) after
listening to a JFCOM trainer/mentor


"We've got to start collaborating between the collaboration systems."
"Our plan for the Olympics is to take all the ops and put it in the
special room we have developed for ops." GO/FO (EUCOM)


"Did you hear that they're canning Bob Edwards on NPR?" "Why? Did they
catch him standing up for the National Anthem or something??" COL to
CDR (EUCOM)


"Not to be uncooperative, but we're just being uncooperative." CDR
(EUCOM) in an email response to a request for information


"We're from the nuke shop, sir. We're the crazy aunt in the closet that
nobody likes to talk about ..." Lt Col to GO/FO (EUCOM) in briefings


"We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the
ungrateful. We have done so much for so long with so little, that we are
now qualified to do anything with nothing." Anonymous, but classic...


"The 'L' in CENTCOM stands for leadership..." "At this Command, we have
written in large, black letters: DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) on the back of
our security badges." Maj (CENTCOM)


"He cloaked himself in an impenetrable veneer of terminology." Lt Col
(JFCOM) describing the Jiffiecom alpha male


"Transformation has long been the buzzword for those that are
dispossessed, dispirited and disillusioned..." Chaplain (EUCOM),
allegedly talking about the Disciples...
"There are more disconnects on this issue than CENTCOM has staff
officers." GO/FO (EUCOM)


"Is that a Navy or a Marine admiral?"MAJ (EUCOM)
ROFLOL.

Damn, I truly miss being there.

 
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  We hired Dr. Mengele

You think I'd lie about something this cool? Hell no! I was finally getting around to trying to get back to at least visiting all my 'dailys', and like the third one I hit, 'cause I hadn't visited in a while, was The Corpus Callosum. Anyway, he obviously does not have my refined sense for inflamatory titles for postings, as his was Abu Ghraib: its legacy for military medicine.

But the point is, we are out doing Hitler, we hire not just one Dr. Josef Mengele, we hire a couple Mengeles and some sick shrinks to make sure we torture well, and cover up any, er, problems. Or so says Reuters:
U.S. military doctors working in Iraq collaborated with interrogators in the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, an article in the British medical journal The Lancet said on Friday.

Professor Steven Miles, the report's author, cites evidence that some doctors falsified death certificates to cover up killings and hid evidence of beatings.

"The medical system collaborated with designing and implementing psychologically and physically coercive interrogations," the University of Minnesota professor said.

One detainee, who collapsed after a beating, was revived by medics so that the abuse could continue, Miles said.

"Army officials stated that a physician and a psychiatrist helped design, approve and monitor interrogations at Abu Ghraib," he wrote in his study based on evidence from U.S. congressional hearings, sworn statements of detainees and soldiers, medical journal accounts and aid agency information.
And they are quoting The Lancet, which as The Corpus Callosum points out, may well be the world's most prestigious medical journal (not that I trust people with stethoscopes and god complexes, and with apparent good reason).

so, hell, everytime I compare Bush to Hitler, rather than finding myself doing greater exaggerations, I'm getting closer to the truth. Woohoo!!

"Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi party!"

 
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  TRUE ANARCHISTS SUPPORT THE BUSH/CHENEY TICKET

Well, at least sort of. They are not anarchist in that they believe in anarchy as a goal, but they are anarchists in the fashion of creating and utilizing anarchy as a tool to achieve their goals of greater profits, and hence power.

Think about it. The global political situation was largely stable until their administration. One knew who America's allies were, and pretty much what to expect in our relations with them. Now, we know longer know who are our allies and who are our enemies.

Really. In Afghanistan, under the Taliban, we knew who the enemy was, where they were, and they actually ran a stable government. Despotic and theocratic, but stable. Now we don't know where the Taliban is, and no one is in charge in the country. Total anarchy.

In Iraq, there was a stable government, we knew who the enemy was, and pretty much how to successfully mitigate their ability to cause harm. Now the country has fallen into anarchy, we have no idea who our friends and enemies are, and the anarchy keeps growing.

Venezuela, prior to this administration, was largely stable, a decent trading partner, and moving toward greater stability. This administration has changed our relationship with the Venezuelan to one of deep distrust, caused huge civil unrest, riots in the street and an unstable oil supply. Anarchy.

Europe was an ally. We knew we could count on them for helping to maintain global stability. Now our relationship is at best unstable, and at worst hostile. And while they will not confront us directly, we can rest assured that they will take advantages of opportunities to harm our position in many areas. Not quite so anarchic as other situations, but hardly the stable, friends across the Atlantic we once had.

North Korea, South Korea, in fact all of our relationships in Asia, are in disarray. These countries have no idea what to expect from our government anymore. Troops in - troops out. A strong no nuke policy, suddenly changed to one that propagates nuclear proliferation due to increased fears. And a region that has no idea what to expect next, as there is now a lack of a stable approach to the region. Anarchy.

Domestically, we had a set of stable bureaucracies in charge of protecting our borders, enforcing our laws and investigating crimes, that while not efficient, did trundle along with some success. Now, after the 'great re-alignment', they operate in a confusing maze of relationships that will take years to resort itself, if ever. And it won't succeed as long as guidance from on high keeps changing. Anarchy.

For thirty plus years, our country was progressing in a somewhat orderly fashion to improve the environment and health of our nation and it's people. Now, huge environmental changes which are resulting in a huge number of law suits, from a whole host of players, which will tie up the federal courts for years, as there is no longer any clear guidance for the courts to follow; all precedent has been stood on its head. Even the military was making great strides in learning to deal with preserving its environment and working with its neighbors. Now all the rules are null and void, and the systems that had been put in place prior to this administration, are stumbling around trying to re-orient itself to a new operational environment. Anarchy in the government.

Oh, science at one time operated under a thing called the scientific principle, used the scientific method, and was a staunch adherent to scientific empiricism. Now, they can't be sure when they are supposed to use science, and when they must adhere to theoracy. Worse, they are unsure which passage of the holy bible applies to any subject. They was wait until god's personal spokesman in the White House tells them what god approves of. Anarchy.

Four almost forty years, our citizens had learned to be ever more secure in our legal system. Not perfect, but the legal system had slowly put in place a host of provisions for protecting the rights of the citizenry. Now, no one knows when they will be picked up and hidden away, and no one knows where the missing are. Citizens, prior to this administration, had felt comfortable in being able to protest the government, and pretty much knew where the guidelines were. Now, no one is secure. No one is sure of their rights. Anarchy at home.

Hell, come to think of it, no one even knows what the current division of powers is in our government. If any. But, you don't know. You can't predict what is allowed or when your elected official will find themselves on an enemies list and be destroyed. No security here. Just anarchy.

You might argue that we all know where the power lies, it lies in Bush/Cheney. But you can't predict what they'll do from one day to the next. One day this is good and patriotic, the next day it is evil and terroristic. Besides, they have created so much anarchy, they cannot really control anything any more, just influence it. And as time progresses, I argue they have sown so much confusion, that nothing will get done. We won't achieve stability, just ineffective stagnation and confusion. Who's in charge of this? Whose responsible for that? Who the hell knows?!!

No, I will argue a vote for Bush/Cheney is a strong vote for greater global anarchy. Soon, no one will be able to predict anything. If you truly believe in anarchy, well, I think these guys are your ticket. I think they are single handedly capable of destroying all government, social, economic and even religious institutions. And based on the record, they are too incompetent to stop the anarchy from growing. They've open Pandora's Box, and now they will be incapable of controlling the aftermath. Soon we will achieve the utimate - Complete WORLD DISORDER!!

Sigh.... 
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Thursday, August 19, 2004
  Questions I ponder, and perhaps a little progress

First of all, I seem incapable of letting some questions go. They nag at me. I go to sleep at night thinking about them. Also, I will ask everyone I know what their opinion is on the question. Hell, I'll ask strangers what they think. You never know where you may find the answer, or a new approach to the question. This seems to drive a lot of the people I know crazy or at least to become very exasperated with me. Many people seem to think that since we discussed the topic, and we reached 'X', that the issue was settled for conversational purposes. I don't. I'll ask again, often in the naive expectation, that they too had pondered the question further since last we spoke. But nay. More often than not, they performed a mental dump, and haven't thought about the subject again.

As for me, I just keep going back to them. Even if we supposedly arrived at an 'answer'. I'll think about the answer. Test it mentally over and over to see if I can spot a weakness. If not, I will than see if I can then apply the 'answer' to a higher level of question, again, a test.

Well this past week, I had the opportunity to explore some of these questions with new people. This is always good for the reasons I mentioned above, and I did come away with some different ideas on old questions.

So, here our three questions in three sections.

The first subject was Morality vs Ethics.

Probably one of the oldest questions in history, at least philosophy, and came away with a different angle. I was visiting Bruce from The River, and over a few beers our conversation moved across a hundred topics, but ended here (at least for Saturday night). My position, which is not original, but does make it easy to define the distinction between ethics and morality, is that 'ethics' apply only if the position can be expressed and defended on logic alone. The example I used the other night, was that I could use economics to defend the position that lying is unethical.
If the beauty of a 'free market' is it's ability to efficiently determine 'value', and that asymmetrical information flows lessen that efficiency, well than lies cause inefficiencies. If the goal of capitalism is efficient markets, than lies are contrary to the ethics of capitalist system.
This holds well by definition, though I don't think we'll ever see it in the 'real world' we live in.

On the other hand, 'Morality', as I define it, can not be defended on a purely logical basis as it always depends on a 'truth or absolute' outside of the problem statement. 'Value' is based on something outside of the system in question.
Killing is bad. It can't be defended on pure logic alone. As I've stated previously, something must die, or be aborted, in the case of seeds, eggs, etc., for me to live (I doubt I could live, on say, milk alone). In fact, my mere existence causes death. So killing, in and of itself is not 'bad', or my existence is 'bad', which seems to be very counter-intuitive.

So then the statement must be, "Killing is bad when..." And at that point, you move off the scale of logic, and must now bring some 'truth' from outside of the observable system to bear. It's okay to kill to survive, but it's not okay to kill to achieve...?
So, Bruce and I are going through these questions, and I provide some examples of slippery slopes and the like, and to make a long story short, Bruce brought up the idea that 'exploitation' could be the basis for a moral argument against many activities. Exploitation is also subject to many of the same slippery slope arguments, but I do like it. It does provide a handy term, and allows for a nice distinction between activities that may be purely survival based, in opposition to activities that harm others for 'personal' gain beyound survival.

I'll have to refine the definition of 'exploitation' to make it less ambiguous, but I do think it will make a fine demarcation point.

Anyway, my point, which may be poorly expressed, is that morality is not logically defensible, but a matter of choice and free will. Why do I state my position in this manner? Because I am an atheist, and hence lack the ability to cite any first principles as 'absolutes'. God has not told me what is good or bad. I must decide these questions on my own. Interestingly enough, I do often tend to arrive at similar positions based purely on the 'logic of ethics', but ultimately, I must recognize that in other cases, it is based on 'feeling'. An intuitive, non-logical feeling.
I believe that raping small children is 'bad' and even morally wrong, but I can't defend that position on a logical basis. It is something I feel. I believe a purely 'logical' argument could be made based on the necessity for expediency in gathering intelligence for our war effort to 'ultimately save lives', and can be made to justify our actions in Iraq. But I feel that it is wrong. There is no argument that you could provide which would change my feelings on the subject.

If you are devoid of these feelings (like I think this administration is), I can make no logical case against the act. Well, I could, but I'd have to resort to expanding the picture beyound the immediate war, and would have to rely on ephemeral things like global good will, and engendering a greater hate and resistance on the part of our friends and enemies. But, while I think these are valid, I can not make a causal relationship with out resorting to subjective analysis. And, if the supposition is that this is truly an effort to build a US empire, well, these arguments can again be ignored on the basis of expediency.
Well, that may have been a wee bit tangential to my ponderings, but...

Dealing with existence.

Well, the conversation with Bruce was followed the next night with another intriguing conversation. This time with Freelancer. I won't use his real name, for while he may personally not object to being associated with my writings, I'm sure professionally it would do him disservice. Which, in many ways was a major part of our conversation. The fact that so many people would be highly resistant to the ideas that I express here, to the point where it could result in harm on a professional basis. It's a risk I have chosen to take, but not one I feel comfortable in forcing others to take. I won't 'out' people and expose them to the potential bias engendered by my comments.

The point we hit on, that I found intriguing, was based on a question he asked me.
Paraphrasing here, 'Why are other people so resistant to new thoughts or alternative ways of viewing information/the world/the universe/etc.?'

And I think in a brief moment of insight, I found an answer. Not THE ANSWER, necessarily, but an answer. My reply was that, again paraphrasing from memory, 'If you do not fear death, you do not fear questions and their answers. You have no need to cling to an outside source for internal strength. You have the confidence to in yourself to be able to handle the challenges of intellectual curiosity. If you are scared of dying, you fear ambiguity.'

To which he smiled and replied, 'I'm sort of looking forward to finding out what comes next. I'm in no hurry, but I am truly curious.'

And I said something to the effect of, 'I love facing ambiguity, and have no need for absolutes. And, yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next, regardless of what it is. It may be blackness, that would be okay. But, based on experiences I have had, I think there is something more. And it will be an adventure.'
Wish I had a tape recording of the conversation. I would like to have been more accurate, but the conversation in reality did not flow quite so succinctly. I do think, however, that I am providing an account that is true to the 'spirit' of the conversation.
Toward the end of the conversation, Freelancer said, 'I really like exploring existence.'

To which I immediately fired back with the question, 'The meaning of existence or the nature of existence?'

He smiled and replied, 'The nature of existence'
And I guess that was the point. I, too, ponder the nature of existence, but I don't ever really consider the question of purpose. I don't think there is a PURPOSE, and I don't find that I have the need for one. I have chosen to spend my time pondering the nature of existence, and in trying to improve the existence of those around me. But, this is not in compliance to some mandate from on high, just choices I have made; for good or ill.

The value of aethetics.

Last point, and in some ways related, but maybe not so much. I ponder a very specific economic transaction question. One that I have pondered for few years.
What was the first time that someone was willing to trade useful tools or meat or other survival apparatus for a pretty rock? What was the motivation on the part of the first guy to trade two chickens for a hunk of gold? Or however the first economic transaction occurred...
I am drawing a distinction here between the barter of 'useful things' between agents, and the first time someone gave up something useful, for something else. Easy question you say. And perhaps, now that I've rephrased the question in my mind, the answer may indeed be 'obvious'. At first, I was trying to start with the first 'monetary' transaction. Not necessarily minted currency, but the idea that a gold or silver nugget was worth something utilitarian.

On Tuesday night, I got in to seperate conversations with Tom Walker of the AJC and Barry Levine at Manuel's Tavern on Tuesday night. Tom pointed out that the first transaction would have occurred in pre-history, and that it was unlikely that I would find anything in the history or economics books on the subject, but he did suggest some titles that might prove worthwhile. Barry too, offered some suggestions, but it was during our conversation that I realized I now understood the question better, and think I've found my answer. It was when I pointed out that the Mayans and the Incas apparently valued gold, but the Maori valued fish hooks as a method of exchange. It was then that Barry pointed out that the first gold rush on this continent occurred here, and that the Seminole Tribes never thought of gold as valuable.
The answer lies in Aesthetics. I know, it is obvious now, I was just being obtuse. The first exchange would have been based not on utilitarian values, but on aesthetics. The rock is pretty, and it's worth my exchanging a utilitarian object to possess that 'pretty' object. Even then, I first wanted to argue that the person who accepted the 'pretty' object in exchange for a utilitarian object, must have felt the it would be valuable to a third party. That a third party would value the object as highly or higher than they did. But it dawned me, that I was making the situation too complicated. It may indeed have been considered during that first exchange, but it really wasn't necessary for that exchange to have happened. Certainly over time it would have progressed from there to a point of shared community values of pretty objects, but it was not required for the first exchange. Though it would be interesting if in that first exchange, it was two males and one of them was thinking about how much his mate would appeciate the bauble, but it is not a necessary element for the exchange.
So, if I'm anywhere close to the truth on this, than the basis for our global economy may ultimately be traced to aesthetic appeal, and not a purely utilitarian one. I will probably get around to coming up with some simple equation to express it, like y(AV) = x(UV), where there is no fixed relationship between x and y. Or something similar, and somehow express the values as entirely/largely or to some smaller extent subjective on the part of the agents involved

Of course, now that I've gotten to this point in my thinking, I'll probably find whole books on sociology dealing with this. But, I still like pondering these types of things, and just finding the answer in a book, isn't always that entertaining. If I had found the book answer first, I would have missed out on the joy of teasing this subject for the past couple of years, and stumbling on what might be a better way to look at the question on my own. And, I got to practice removing all my preconceived baggage and looking at a subject from a fresh perspective.

Of course, now I have even more things to ponder. Why would evolution favor the development of aesthetics? You might say, 'But Rick, only humans have the ability to appreciate aesthetics.' Though I think most of you won't. You'll remember that there are a great deal of examples in the rest of the animal kingdom which also seem to appreciate aesthetics, and enough so, that they are willing to take risks to collect objects of what appears to be purely aesthetic appeal. Ravens come immediately to mind, as to certain monkeys, and I'm sure there others that do not occur to me at this instant.

Regardless, it does not change the question I now get to ponder - Why (presuming there is a 'why') would we evolve with an aesthetic value? How does it enhance our survival? Is it purely derived in some way from mating and breeding advantages? From what I know of the behaviour of Ravens, I don't think so. I'm sure I can now find some definitive research in the area, and I may look to some to further my thinking, but than, how definitive can any explanation on the motivations of animals truly be? They usually just result in more questions,so maybe I will or maybe I won't pursue a review of the literature on the subject, but either way, I'll have more to ponder.

Well, I think I'm done posting for now. I've got some chores I can do, and there are mindless chores like dishes and sweeping up dog fur. The good thing about mindless chores - I get to ponder some more... 
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  Testing Einstein yet again...

Looks like the closest 'pure' science story I'm going to post on for the week. Much of what I've read lately are more incremental improvements than any real science break throughs, but this one, well, it is SCIENCE. Via KurzweilAI.Net comes Wired News: Probe Set to Test Einstein Theory:
"NASA's Gravity Probe B spacecraft could begin testing Einstein's general theory of relativity as early as this week, according to mission controllers at Stanford University.

The probe, said to be one of the most precise scientific instruments ever assembled, was initially scheduled to begin taking measurements within 45 to 60 days of its April 20 launch into Earth orbit. But mission controllers were forced to delay operations time and again after discovering minor malfunctions in the spacecraft's microthrusters and observing unexpected behavior from its four gyroscopes."
But they were able, through excellent redundancies built into the probe, overcome these issues.

And now we are ready (okay, they are ready) to further test Einstein's Theory of Gravity:
Though many of the theory's underlying concepts have been tested and proven in the 89 years since Einstein first published them, the proof for two concepts has remained elusive.

The first concept suggests that Earth -- and almost any body in space -- creates a dimple in the universe's so-called space-time fabric. The second suggests that the rotation of the Earth twists that fabric.

Gravity Probe B will attempt to measure those effects by aligning itself with a distant star and then measuring tiny changes in the direction of its four spinning gyroscopes with respect to the line of the star. If Einstein was right, the twist in the space-time fabric should push the spinning spheres at the center of the gyroscopes ever so slightly off their axes. According to project scientists, the angle of that shift would be so small that if the spheres' axes were a kilometer long, the ends would only move by the width of a human hair.

To make measurements this small, Gravity Probe B engineers had to ensure that the spheres in each of the spacecraft's four gyroscopes would not wobble enough to ruin the measurements. To do this, they designed and developed some of the most perfect spheres ever created by humans. Composed of fused quartz, the objects the size of a Ping-Pong ball have no imperfections greater than 40 atomic layers in height. In other words, if the spheres were the size of the Earth, there would be no hills or valleys taller or deeper than 12 feet.
The engineering is awesome, but now I look forward to the results. I will certainly post here as soon as I find them.

Proving Einstein correct, yet again, is a good possibility, but perhaps the more intriguing results would be if they turn up something unexpected. I don't think negative results would 'disprove' the theory, as they would more likely look to a lack of experimental precision as an explanation as opposed to an out right refutation of the theory. But, what if there's more effect than currently thought possible, or even more fun, the movement is measured in the opposite direction than predicted. Ah, then we would see some headlines breaking through the Kobe/Peterson crap. 
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  He wasn't even asked to sign a loyalty oath

Via The Blogging of the President: 2004 by Barry Ritholtz

No comment. Just doing my part to spread the meme.

Mediocre Law Studentwrites "So much for free speech..."
I received the following e-mail tonight, and find it to be a sad state of affairs that's very revealing about how the Bush team really feels about diversity of viewpoints and their contention that they listen to all of the American people's voices.
I just wanted to tell you all about my experiences last Saturday. I found out last week that John Kerry was going to speak on July 31 in Wheeling, and so I went to get tickets. In addition, I made a general offer to pick up tickets for anyone at my work that wanted them. In response, some people noted that George Bush was also speaking in Cambridge, OH (which is not too far away) earlier the same day. Since it is not often that one gets to see both candidates for President on the same day, I went and got a ticket for the Bush rally as well.

On Saturday morning, I went to Cambridge with a friend. Wanting to see the President, but not wanting to be seen as supporting his policies, I wore a Kerry/Edwards T-shirt. I want to emphasize, however, that I was not there to protest, only to listen to my President. We stood in line in the rain for an hour an a half in the rain just like the other 10,000 or so people. And while I did get a few curious or dirty looks, very few people said anything to me, and I said nothing to the other people at the event outside of occasional small talk.

As I approached the security area, one low-level security person asked me to turn my shirt inside out. As I said, I was only there to hear the President, and so I complied. When I got to the main security area, however, the same man came up to me again, told me he had checked with his superiors, and that I would not be allowed into the event with the Kerry/Edwards T-shirt. I had been a little afraid of this eventuality and had brought another non-political T-shirt just in case. So I agreed to change shirts. The man took my other T-shirt and put it where I could find it after the speech.

Thinking that was the end of that, we went inside and tried to find a place in the crowd where I could see the President. I had no intention of heckling the President or causing trouble of any sort. I just stood with the rest of the crowd waiting for the speech. After a few minutes (maybe 10-15), the first security person came up to me again, this time with a second burlier gentleman. I was asked to stand with the second man in an area somewhat away from the main crowd, and again I complied. A couple of minutes later a third man who told me he was with the President's advance team (or something like that) came up and escorted me out of the event. Still not wanting to cause trouble, I went out as I was asked, and waited for my friend who was allowed to stay. Incidentally, while outside, I did get to do what I came for. I got to see the President briefly waving from his motorcade on the way into the event.

Now being the curious sort, I obtained a Bush shirt to see what would happen at the Kerry rally in Wheeling. Still not wanting to be perceived as a Bush supporter, I waited and put the Bush shirt on about 10-15 minutes before we reached the security checkpoint. This time no one said anything to me, and I was allowed to enter with no questions asked. After entering, I put on my Kerry T-shirt, and listened to the speakers as I had planned.

Now I don't know what others will make of this experience, but you should feel free to forward this email to anyone that you would like. I would ask that you include my name, however. Too many people spread lies and rumors on the internet anonymously. What I have said is true, and I am not afraid to sign my name to it.

Sincerely, John Prather

P.S. If you would like to see a newspaper article written about this, you can access it by going to http://zanesvilletimesrecorder.com. Then click on local news. At the bottom of that page is a calendar for previous stories. Click on August 1. The story is titled "Rally draws only few with opposing views."
Okay, I lied. I do have a comment after thinking about it. My follow-up re-action was that I wouldn't have gone so quitely. And then, I knew that any protest he would have made, would have been absolutely futile, and probably only resulted in his being in jail for wearing an opponent's T-shirt to a rally.
Resistence is futile. You will be assimulated.
BUSH/BORG 2004 
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Wednesday, August 18, 2004
  The next economy?

What comes next? It's a question pondered today in the comments to UN-AMERICAN INACTIVITIES, on an article on Corinne Maier's Bonjour paresse: De l'art et de la necessite d'en faire le moins possible en entreprise that appeared in "The Slacker's New Bible," by Jo Johnson in the Financial Times, posted by the Sandwichman over at MaxSpeak, You Listen!.

Anyway, now I've found this seemingly relevant interview,Howard Rheingold's Latest Connection, which begins with
Rheingold is worried that established companies could quash such nascent innovations as file-sharing -- and potentially put the U.S. at risk of falling behind the rest of the world. He recently spoke with Robert D. Hof, BusinessWeek's Silicon Valley bureau chief. Here are excerpts from their conversation:

Q: Where do you see the social revolution you've been talking about going next?

A: It's too early to say. The question is: What does it point toward? Some kind of collective action...in which the individuals aren't consciously cooperating. A market is a great example as a mechanism for determining price based on demand. People aren't saying, "I'm contributing to the market," [they say they're] just selling something. But it adds up.

Q: Can you give me some specific examples of what you mean, beyond the market?

A: Google is based on the emergent choices of people who link. Nobody is really thinking, "I'm now contributing to Google's page rank." What they're thinking is, "This link is something my readers would really be interested in." They're making an individual judgment that, in the aggregate, turns out to be a pretty good indicator of what's the best source.

Then there's open source [software]. Steve Weber, a political economist at UC Berkeley, sees open source as an economic means of production that turns the free-rider problem to its advantage. All the people who use the resource but don't contribute to it just build up a larger user base. And if a very tiny percentage of them do anything at all -- like report a bug -- then those free riders suddenly become an asset.

And maybe this isn't just in software production. There's [the idea of] "open spectrum," coined by [Yale law professor] Yochai Benkler. The dogma is that the two major means of organizing for economic production are the market and the firm. But Benkler uses open source as an example of peer-to-peer production, which he thinks may be pointing toward a third means of organizing for production.

Then you look at Amazon (AMZN) and its recommendation system, getting users to provide free reviews, users sharing choices with their friends, users who make lists of products. They get a lot of free advice that turns out to be very useful in the aggregate. There's also Wikipedia [the online encyclopedia written by volunteers]. It has 500,000 articles in 50 languages at virtually no cost, vs. Encyclopedia Britannica spending millions of dollars and they have 50,000 articles.
and the interview moves on from there.

Personally, I've never been all that hot at slacking, but I'm learning. I think the other option is to find a way to get paid for something you love to do. Make checks payable to...

Also via KurzweilAI.net
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  Science Fiction - Is Science Moving Faster Than Fiction?

I've have spent some time trying to write science fiction, and this statement:
Modern science fiction is facing a crisis of confidence at it attempts to visualize life after the Singularity.
is and accurate reflection of what I've been dealing with. It is the unbounded future racing toward us at breakneck speed from all directions.

And this article deals with the question and two writers who are far more successful at it than I am,Popular Science | "Is Science Fiction About to Go Blind?":
Ah yes, the Singularity. A very real term, although the scene above is taken from a soon-to-be-published novel, Accelerando, by British writer Charles Stross. The idea was conceived by Vernor Vinge, a computer scientist and science-fiction writer who’s now a professor emeritus at San Diego State University. We’re living through a period of unprecedented technological and scientific advances, Vinge says, and sometime soon the convergence of fields such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology will push humanity past a tipping point, ushering in a period of wrenching change. After that moment—the Singularity—the world will be as different from today’s world as this one is from the Stone Age.
I've actually had more than a few conversations on the singularity; is it real and what might it mean?
Yet there’s plenty to get excited about: Vinge’s vision of the Singularity springs from his own field, computer science, but change is afoot throughout science and technology. Cosmology is undergoing fundamental revisions, genetics is giving researchers the tools to rejigger the building blocks of life, and nanotechnology has begun creeping from fantasy into reality. “Several lines of progress [are] converging,” says physicist Stanley Schmidt, editor of Analog magazine. “You can’t lock in on one field in isolation because you’ll miss how other fields affect it.”
These guys write it:
A new kind of future requires a new breed of guide—someone like Stross, whose first novel, Singularity Sky, was recently nominated for a prestigious Hugo Award, or his frequent collaborator Cory Doctorow, who in 2000 won the Campbell Award for best new science-fiction writer. Both are former computer programmers. They are computer geeks and gadget freaks. They follow engineering and materials science and biotech, not to mention politics and economics. And they have latched on to the Singularity as the idea that symbolizes our era’s rush of new discoveries. Whether their stories will usher in another golden age or inspire a new generation of dreamers remains to be seen, but their focus is dead-on. “Right now is an extremely exciting time because there’s an explosion of knowledge in biology, an explosion of knowledge in technology, an explosion of knowledge in astronomy, physics, all over the place,” says David G. Hartwell, a senior editor at Tor Books. “Right now it’s quantity, and Doctorow and Stross are the writers who are principally concerned with all this stuff.”
And that is the crux. Which areas will dominate the change and which will lag behind. Here lagging behind becomes totally relative, but it will make a difference in the direction of change.

Anyway, read the whole article, and you might to decide to add a couple of the titles mentioned to your reading list.

Via the KurzweilAI.net Newsletter.

 
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  The Candidates: The God of War vs a pussy.

Damn, I think I really like KEN LAYNE. I like anyone who can put together prose like this:
"'And you guys, you formerly cynical guys who now worship the incompetent Bush simply because you were told to do so, you're only making it easier for the Kerry people to win.'

Blair, too drunk to follow the entire convoluted sentence, caught on at the end and whimpered, 'How so?'

'Look at you people with this Vietnam boat nonsense. Every day, you're pounding home the fact that Kerry fought in Vietnam. You jackasses started this stuff so early -- with the 'Oh he protested the war' and the Jane Fonda photoshops -- that the Kerry people turned the whole Democratic convention into a celebration of the Vietnam War. Nobody even remembers being against Vietnam anymore. The next Vietnam movie will be a buddy comedy starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, and all they're going to do is kill Charlie and win medals and dance with beautiful girls. It'll make $300 million on the opening weekend. They're going to tear down that bummer memorial in Washington and put up a 1,000-foot statue of a smiling American soldier proudly standing on a stack of golden skulls. You morons have made Vietnam the Democrats' favorite memory and greatest victory. Then you scream hooray when a gang of addled old Nixon bagmen show up in a teevee commercial to bitch about Kerry fighting in Vietnam, and once again the normal people with lives only remember, again, that Kerry fought in Vietnam and Bush didn't.'

'But,' Tim sputtered, 'Kerry clearly claimed he was in Cambodia several days before he was in Cambodia. It was seared--'

'Stop that,' I said, poking his neck with the corkscrew worm. 'Listen to yourself. What are you doing, again? That's right, you're reminding people that the other guy fought in Vietnam. Have you become so brain dead that you think this helps your girly boy Bush? Do you honestly believe the coward boy can beat the War Monster?'
And, I'll be damned. He's right. Some how, for whatever reason, the GOP keeps making a point of the fact that Kerry was in Vietnam.

And for a truly spiteful re-visionist history, I like this passage:
"Ha! Your girly Bush killed nobody. He signed off on lethal injections. He's a middle manager in a cubicle at the suburban branch of the Bank of Death, initialing memos he doesn't even know how to read. What kind of Texas oilman is your little girl? You ever see 'Dallas'?"

Blair nodded. Everyone has seen "Dallas," all over the world.

"Then you know how a Texas Oilman is supposed to act. What do you think J.R. would do if his wife told him to stop drinking?"

Visibly wilting, Blair stepped deeper into the shadows.

"That's right," I said. "J.R. would've thrown his glass of scotch at her goddamned head, and then he would've laughed and poured a fresh double on the rocks while she whimpered behind the sofa, fearing for her life. Laura Bush tells your beloved wuss to stop drinking and he just stops drinking? Who's the wife here? Not Laura Bush."
See. That's the Baby Bush I see. A total out and out pussy (I know, I know, not PC, but fuck it). I just hope the rest of Amerika actually does catch on. And every time someone makes a comment about Kerry's WAR RECORD, they'll ask, "Hey. Where WAS Baby Bush?" That's all I want. Just for people to ask themselves that question. Where was our gutless leader when the shit hit the fan? Probably reading children's books to kiddies like the most recent display of sheer, Radically Inept pussy-hood.

Anyway, you should go read "The God of War, Death & Madness" by Ken. He writes, I rant.

Oh, and thanks to Ezra Klein from Pandagon: Things You Should Be Reading, for pointing me to Ken's site.

 
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  "get your war on" needs a mailing list

I've been so busy I forgot to go by recently and see if the guys at "get your war on" had added anything. Yeah, like three weeks ago!

I want them to put me on a mailing list. I check every few weeks, and there's nothing new. I forget for a while, and there's all kinds of stuff. Bastards. They probably wait until they don't see my server making hits for a couple of weeks, and then they post a rash of stuff, cause I missed page 37 too.

Check 'em out... 
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  Lock your doors, grab the tin foil and your copy of "Catcher In The Rye", then read this

I'm still trying to get around to posting Science Monday posts, but I keep getting distracted. You can blame this distraction on Michael Miller from over at Public Domain Progress. The bastard has a good sight, and I just kept reading there, instead of doing Science Mondays. It may be Friday at this rate, before I do the science postings. Damn all you bloggers w/ good material...

I've posted here before (and no, I'm not going to try to find the links), that coincidences are curious. And the more the coincidences pile up, the more interesting and humorous they get. And Jeff at Rigorous Intuition has really compiled a great list of coincidences; the kind that make you laugh at just how silly the world is, Rigorous Intuition: The Coincidence Theorist's Guide to 9/11.

Rick Eddy has a different take on it, "Osama's Hair Stylist". He also said sorry about the errors, but he was drunk when he wrote it, and now he doesn't feel like going back to edit it, and he won't let me touch his work, no matter how bad it is. 
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  We must poison you to save you...

I've touched on this issue before, Be scared of the terrorists and don't look at what DoD is doing and else-where (but I am tired of looking). And you'd like to think it couldn't get worse, but than you find this,
Grist | Muckraker | Polluting the village | 12 Aug 2004:
"The Bush administration has proposed yet another list of environmental sacrifices that it believes America should make for the War on Terror.

Last year, President Bush pushed through legislation that exempts military training bases from cornerstone environmental protections mandated by the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, in the name of 'military readiness.' Despite howls of protest from the environmental community and government officials alike -- the unprecedented, sweeping wartime request was unaccompanied by any evidence that America's military strength is at odds with environmental protection -- the Department of Defense insisted on the rollbacks and got much of what it asked for.

Now the Bush administration may be weeks from implementing more environmental exemptions for the sake of 'national security,' which critics find equally preposterous. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed a directive [PDF] that would enable a raft of agencies under its domain -- including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Coast Guard, Border Patrol, and more than a dozen others -- to eschew environmental reviews and assessments of their operations, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, if agency officials feel such reviews are impinging on their efficacy. The directive, which does not require congressional approval, would also allow the agencies to conceal information they consider sensitive from a national-security standpoint.

Enviros are aghast, of course. A whole conflux of groups -- including Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Audubon Society, and Ocean Conservancy -- have submitted exhaustive comments criticizing the proposal for its potential impact on the environment and public health. Members of the public can also submit comments on the draft directive through Aug. 16. (Fax to 202.772.9749.)

'What they've proposed is outrageous,' said Sharon Buccino, a senior attorney at NRDC, 'not just from the point of view of exploiting the issue of national security to bend the [environmental] rules, but because it inhibits Americans' democratic right to the freedom of information -- in this case, information that the American public could use to protect itself from potentially considerable health risks.'"
and you realize, well, no, actually it can get worse. Much, much worse.

Via Center For Public Environmental Oversight newsletter. 
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Tuesday, August 17, 2004
  GOP finally speaks and appeals to minorities

I AM Radically Inept, and I approved this message...Just wish I had something to do with it.

If you're under the age of 18, you shouldn't be here anyway.

If you are here and under the age of 18, good for you. Might as well learn how to sneak computer time from your parents and libraries now, as in the future they'll probably rig the machines so's ya can only see AOHell crap.

Anyway, here's a prez speaking real, and ya know what, I can respect it:
fucknewyork.mov

Via The Blogging of the President: 2004 via Joe Hill Dispatch 
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  Team MilCom continues its dominance of Team Soldier

TEAM MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX CONTINUES ITS RECORD WINNING STREAK
In the latest matchup between Team Military-Industrial Complex (MilCom) and Team Soldiers, MilCom persevered in the 13th inning to hand yet another defeat to the Soldiers.

In this latest contest, Team MilCom was contracted to provide Team Soldiers a High Utility, Multi-use Vehicle/Weapons Platform easily deployable to anywhere on the globe on short notice:
Formerly known as the Interim Armored Vehicle, the Stryker Light Armored Vehicle III [LAV III] is at the center of the Army’s Interim Brigade Combat Teams. The IBCTs will be lighter and more mobile, yet offer firepower no enemy can hope to match. Strykers are being deployed to units at Fort Lewis, WA. In all, six brigades will receive the vehicles. Each brigade will have more than 300 Strykers apiece...

...One of the Army’s transformation goals is to be able to deploy brigade combat teams anywhere in the world within 96 hours, a division in 120 hours and five divisions within 30 days, according to Army Chief of Staff GEN Eric K. Shinseki. The LAV III is considered an “interim armored vehicle” because it is not the final vehicle that will equip the transformation “objective force” of the future. This is not an experimental force, rather it represents a force capable of meeting the needs of regional commanders in chief, while concurrently assisting the Army in developing doctrine to meet 21st-century threats.
Hence, one of the requirements was
All of the LAVs will be deployable by C-130 and larger aircraft.
So the game began, but Team Soldier was no match for Team MilCom, and Team MilCom was not only able to avoid ------------, but also the prime deployabilty requirement. The soldiers sent in veteran relief pitcher
Newt Gingrich, who tried to hold back Team MilCom in the ninth,
Sent: Tuesday, September 17, 2002, 11:26 PM

Subject: Re: Stryker Transportability

I appreciate your email and I am delighted to take advantage of your offer to discuss Stryker issues.

I am a little surprised by your email assertions. There may be good cases for Stryker, but C-130 transportability is not one of them.

Is it not true the Air Force had to issue 14 waivers to fly the Stryker on a C-130 (my source is a senior Air Force officer.)?

Is it not true you cannot fly a Stryker on the C-130 without offloading parts because the weight of a fully loaded Stryker is beyond the C-130 capability?

Is it not true that even the reduced weight partial-Stryker is so heavy only the J model C-130 can carry it into Afghanistan (70 of the 1700 C-130s currently available) and that is the partially unloaded version?

Is it not true the Observer report for the Army on the Fort Irwin experience indicated it took all the scales of a Brigade and four hours time to weigh the two Strykers because the partial-Stryker is still so close to the C-130 margin of safety?

Finally, isn't it true the ammunition and half the crew have to fly on a second plane because the C-130 cannot carry the partial-Stryker and them?

On the non-C-130 side, is it true the Army's 105 gun does not work on the Stryker and a new gun is being mounted?

Is it true the new 105 will not be able to use the Army ammunition currently in stock, thus leaving us with $1 billion in 105 ammunition already on hand that will not fit the Stryker (which means logistics had better make sure they send the right ammunition to a Stryker deployment)?

Is it true the 120mm mortar cannot be fired from the mortar version of the Stryker, even though it can be fired from the M113?

I have some other questions, but answers to these would be very helpful.

Thanks for offering to help.

Newt
but, since Newt lost his fast ball, and has been forced to throw junk pitches, he was only able to buy Team Soldier extra innings.

This is part of Team Soldier's problems. They have been unable to find a true, championship calibre pitcher from w/in their own farm system, and can't seem to find a strong free agent willing to work under the salary cap imposed by collective bargaining w/ the team owners.

This is just one more example of how difficult it is for smaller market teams to compete against teams with wealthy owners, like those of Team MilCom, who are able and willing to pay top salary for players. In fact, as soon as small market teams like Team Soldier find a great player, they are only able to hold on to them until the player achieves free-agent status and is picked up by wealthy teams like Team MilCom.

Further, there are rumors circulating among sports writers everywhere, that Team Soldier management, the pentagon and DOD, are willing to settle for lackluster performance on Team Soldier's part, in exchange for television broadcast and concession revenues, while they look to find a buyer for the team. This apparent exit strategy on the part of the Pentagon and DOD suffers since the Team Soldier franchise is burdened with many long term player contracts, no fixed game schedule, and is currently not achieving the success expected in their series of exhibition games against overseas minor league teams.

Many fans of Team Soldier feel that it is not a lack of talent on the part of players on Team Soldier, but Radically Inept management on the part of Team President Baby Bush, and Team Personnel Manager Donald's Rump'sFilled. Many long-term, loyal Team Soldier fans are hoping that a share holder revolt on the part of minor share holders, often called 'citizens', might be able to replace current team management, and even possibly buy the team from the current owners; much as the citizens of Green Bay were able to buy the Packers in football.

Regardless, Team MilCom has been able to soundly defeat Team Soldier in late innings:
The Stryker, which weighs an average 38,000 pounds (17,100 kg), and is already deployed in Iraq, could be flown only about 860 miles (1384 km) by the C-130 under nearly ideal flight conditions, the GAO report said.

"Adding just 2,000 pounds (900 kg) onboard the aircraft for associated cargo such as mission equipment or ammunition reduces the C-130 aircraft's takeoff-to-landing range to only 500 miles (805 km)," said the GAO.

Limits on transporting associated equipment also curbs the ability of Strykers to engage in combat operations immediately upon arrival, the report added.

About a year ago the GAO said it could take much longer than hoped and vast airlift resources to deploy the new Stryker brigades of troops into action around the globe, mostly using bigger C-17 and C-5 transport planes with jet engines.

The cost of the Stryker vehicles has jumped from $3.34 million a piece to $4.13 million between November 2000 and December 2003 while the overall program costs have jumped to about $8.7 billion from $7.1 billion in that period, the latest GAO report said.

General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE:GD) began delivering the first Stryker vehicles to the Army in February 2002, 14 months after it first awarded the contract to the company.
Resulting in a final score of 2,131 overpiced and below spec Stryker 8-Wheel Drive Armoured Combat Vehicles and the associated profits for Team MilCom, and a one more in a series of logistical head nightmares for Team Soldier.

And this does not answer the question of whether or not the Stryker improves on previous vehicle/weapons platforms:

Stryker 8-Wheel Drive Armoured Combat Vehicles

Stryker vehicle weight limits C-130 range-U.S. GAO

M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank


M60A3 Main Battle Tank



 
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Monday, August 16, 2004
  "Ignore the man behind the curtain" of War

Okay, Chocolate Morphine brought this article to my attention,
The New York Times > "Out of Spotlight, Bush Overhauls U.S. Regulations", which answer the question, "Hey, as long as everyone's attention is diverted to the war effort and terrorism, I wonder what we could do here to make things better:
"April 21 was an unusually violent day in Iraq; 68 people died in a car bombing in Basra, among them 23 children. As the news went from bad to worse, President Bush took a tough line, vowing to a group of journalists, 'We're not going to cut and run while I'm in the Oval Office.'

On the same day, deep within the turgid pages of the Federal Register, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a regulation that would forbid the public release of some data relating to unsafe motor vehicles, saying that publicizing the information would cause 'substantial competitive harm' to manufacturers.

As soon as the rule was published, consumer groups yelped in complaint, while the government responded that it was trying to balance the interests of consumers with the competitive needs of business. But hardly anyone else noticed, and that was hardly an isolated case.

Allies and critics of the Bush administration agree that the Sept. 11 attacks, the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq have preoccupied the public, overshadowing an important element of the president's agenda: new regulatory initiatives. Health rules, environmental regulations, energy initiatives, worker-safety standards and product-safety disclosure policies have been modified in ways that often please business and industry leaders while dismaying interest groups representing consumers, workers, drivers, medical patients, the elderly and many others."
Here's the White House line on it:
Scott McClellan, the chief White House spokesman, said of the changes, "The president's common-sense policies reflect the values of America, whether it is cracking down on corporate wrongdoing or eliminating burdensome regulations to create jobs."
Yes, you see, it is better that people die, than businesses lose money. Aren't your values such that you'd rather that you and your family are dead, but you died employed, than alive and unemployed? I mean, isn't that the logic. Better that corporations make money, than you make an informed decision on your purchasing? I know this flies in the face of the concept that markets operate best when information flows freely, but ignore that.

Watch the news on Iraq, and pay attention to the latest terrorist alert. Don't look here, this is good.
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, filed suit, saying consumers needed the data to inform themselves about unsafe vehicles and tires. But Ray Tyson, the chief spokesman for the highway safety agency, said: "The suggestion that the American consumer is missing out is off the mark. I can't believe this information would be of much interest to the general public."
See, you don't care if the vehicle you spend a year's wages on, or the tires your wife uses to take your children back and forth to school and after school functions are safe. You'd buy them anyway, right? Hell, let's face it, knowing something is unsafe, would in no way change your purchasing decision.

But why stop with just auto and tire regs, right? As long as we're insuring the balance between economics (corporate profits) and safety (you and yours), we should go further, right? It just makes sense.
The administration, at the request of lumber and paper companies, gave Forest Service managers the right to approve logging in federal forests without the usual environmental reviews. A Forest Service official explained that the new rule was intended "to better harmonize the environmental, social and economic benefits of America's greatest natural resource, our forests and grasslands."

In March of 2003, the Mine Safety and Health Administration published a proposed new regulation that would dilute the rules intended to protect coal miners from black-lung disease. The mine workers union called the new rules "extremely dangerous," while a mine safety administration official contended, "We are moving on toward more effective prevention of black-lung disease."
Hey, you know, miners, and if you don't, you really don't want to. What kind of people become miners anyway?

And really, do you care if the rivers get polluted? Really, does it matter to you that you have to pay more for clean drinking water due to clear cut runoff, as long as America's corporations function at economic efficiency? Of course not. It is the economic benefits of corporations that you lay awake worrying about, not whether your children are getting sick from an unhealthy environment.

And, who cares about animals, anyway?

But wait. Let's really make ensure that there are more jobs being created. We have a huge, unmet demand for health care workers in this country. What could be better than killing off the ones we have, so that we'll need more? Health care jobs for everyone!!
In May 2003, the Bush administration dropped a proposed rule that would have required hospitals to install facilities to protect workers against tuberculosis. Hospitals and other industry groups had lobbied against the change, saying that it would be costly and that existing regulations would accomplish many of the same aims.

But workers unions and public health officials argued that the number of tuberculosis cases had risen in 20 states and that the same precautions that were to have been put into place for tuberculosis would also have been effective against SARS.
See, not only does this save money, it increases the demand for domestic jobs. It's a win-win game.

But let's go back to that pesky information thing.
The next month, the Department of Labor, responding to complaints from industry, dropped a rule that required employers to keep a record of employees' ergonomic injuries. Labor unions complained that without the reporting, it would be difficult to identify dangerous workplaces. But the department, in a statement, argued that the records "would not provide additional information useful to identifying possible causes or methods to prevent injury.
See, information on how people get injured isn't useful in determining how they get injured. And think of the saving in eliminating reporting that doesn't...I get so confused, but I'm sure you understand this better than I do. Where is my prozac when I need it? Things always make so much more sense when I'm medicated.

See, when I'm medicated, and watching the news form Iraq, or the Kobe rape case coverage, I can read this:
In one little-known case, litigants say the administration managed to turn a Congressional mandate on its head. In 1995, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a startling study on fatal truck accidents. Thousands of people die on the highways each year in collisions with heavy trucks. The board studied 107 crashes in which the truck driver survived and found that more than half resulted from truck-driver fatigue. Nineteen of the truckers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel.

As a result of that report, Congress the same year ordered the government to revise driving-hour rules for truckers. Under regulations unchanged since 1939, truckers could drive 10 hours at a stretch and then had to rest for eight hours. The rules, Congress said, were to be changed to "reduce fatigue-related incidents and increase driver alertness." At that time, both the Senate and the House were under Republican control, and lawmakers began debating what to do.

The truck-related accident death toll hit a new high in 1997; 5,398 people died. Congress went further in 1999 and created a new federal agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Clinton administration set a goal of reducing truck-related accident fatalities by half over the following 10 years.
And this:
Consumer and driver-safety groups, including Public Citizen and Parents Against Tired Truckers, started lobbying the new agency to shorten the number of hours drivers could stay behind the wheel. But trucking industry officials argued that shorter shifts would disrupt delivery schedules, which in turn would raise prices on thousands of products delivered by truck.

Last year, the Department of Transportation finally issued a new rule, saying in a prepared statement that it would "save hundreds of lives" and "protect billions in commerce." The change would increase allowable driving time from 10 hours without a break to 11 hours. But after 11 hours, drivers would have to take 10 hours off instead of eight.

Trucking companies said they were satisfied with the rule while truck drivers deplored it, saying the added hours of driving time would increase driver fatigue.
And I know that all is right with the world. In fact, I just know my life is better spent (literally) when I read that:
Still, the administration is pleased with its overall record of regulatory change. Mr. Graham, the budget office official, eagerly acknowledged that the regulatory tilt had been toward business. "The Bush administration has cut the growth of costly business regulations by 75 percent, compared to the two previous administrations," he said.
Wow, my forth prozac tab is kicking in, and I finally get it. It's truly a farsighted and brilliant jobs policy!! If you can't create jobs, get rid of the people. Less people, means a higher employment rate as a percentage of the available pool of labor. It's pure genius. Here I thought the administration had a bad jobs creation policy, when it turns out, they fooled me. They have a solid people reduction policy. I'm just so Radically Inept, it took developing a serious addiction to anti-depressants to figure it out. And, hey! Guess what? My addiction also helps the American economy. The pharmaceutical companies, and my addiction counselor are now all safely employed. Well, at least until me and my family take the new silly-Ass Useless Vehicle out for a Sunday drive, and the shoddy tires I bought blow out, and the on coming truck driver has fallen asleep and kills me and my family. On the bright side, you can have my job. 
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  Admin Notes - Odds and Ends

I will get to some posting later today. I'm getting ready to go to my third job interview in a week, so send me good karma. Since I don't believe that our linear perception of time is reflective of 'reality', feel free to send the karma when ever you should read this post.

I was in training classes on Saturday and Sunday for 6 and half hours each day, which is why you didn't see any new posts over the weekend. Well, the classes and the fact that I went over to Bruce's from The River on Saturday night for beers and conversation, and wound up hanging out talking to my future boss (part-time teaching) for an 2 hours after class ended yesterday. Both converstaions covered a wide range of topics, and I think I'll comment on both a little later today.

Anyway, suit and tie time... 
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GEORGE W. BUSH - TOUGH ENOUGH TO TORTURE CHILDREN
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