January 31, 2005

The New York Times > Technology > New Economy: Taking the Pulse of Technology at Davos

Gates has been proven right and is putting his foundation's $ where his mouth is.

"The rush to close the digital divide began in earnest at Davos in 1998 during the height of the dot-com era, driven by American executives like John Chambers of Cisco and John Gage of Sun Microsystems. Committees were formed, money was committed and during the next three years the idea of digital equity became a rallying cry for the world's dot-com elite.

"It was really cool, but in the end we got nothing done," one executive candidly acknowledged.

At the time, Mr. Gates was a notable skeptic, arguing that it was more important to address basic life necessities - health and food, for example - before connecting the world's poorest citizens to the Internet.

Although he was widely criticized for his remarks then, he now appears to have been vindicated. Mr. Gates was in the thick of the plenary discussions at the 2005 Davos forum - considering ways of eliminating poverty and disease that do not encompass information technology."

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Geo-Green Alternative

"Yes, there is an alternative to the Euro-wimps and the neocons, and it is the "geo-greens." I am a geo-green. The geo-greens believe that, going forward, if we put all our focus on reducing the price of oil - by conservation, by developing renewable and alternative energies and by expanding nuclear power - we will force more reform than by any other strategy. You give me $18-a-barrel oil and I will give you political and economic reform from Algeria to Iran. All these regimes have huge population bubbles and too few jobs. They make up the gap with oil revenues. Shrink the oil revenue and they will have to open up their economies and their schools and liberate their women so that their people can compete. It is that simple."

Good idea, Thomas, but you miss two critically important elements (I know you have limited column space.) in your proposal. First, China with it's exploding economy and other countries are energy-hungry and would quickly pick up the oil that the U.S. would forgo if we had an effective, reasonably priced alternative. There would be no glut. Second, the time required for your proposal to produce regime change internally would enable Iran to develop its nukes.

Because of increasing global demand, low priced oil is a thing of the past.

Perhaps the Europeans can pull this off with Iran. I hope so. The U.S. should not be offering carrots to Iran at this point. Regime change should be our policy, but from within, as Thomas suggests, not from without.

Here's a nightmare scenario: Israel, bolstered by the U.S., launches surgical air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities (probably the really important stuff is underground). Iran retaliates with a nuke or provides the capability to Al Qaeda for a dirty bomb. Ugh.

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Arab Media Focus on Voting, Not Violence

This is really good news. The traditionally Arab media chose to focus on the election, not the terrorists' efforts to disrupt it. Here is a sign of the importance of the event, at least to the media, in the Muslim/Arab world.

Expect a statement from Bin Laden denouncing the elections and inciting his terror band to more violence.

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: Message From Iraq

Grudgingly, the Times editorialists praise the turnout in the Iraqi elections. The lesson for me reading the liberal media is they do not represent the facts consistently. In the runup to the elections, most of the reporting was glum concerning likely turnout. The reality of what people will do is often missed in the frequently slanted reporting from a difficult, violence ravaged region.

We must remember, as the Times points out, this is only step one in a long process. Euphoria should be avoided.

January 30, 2005

Harvard flap prompts query: How free is campus speech? | csmonitor.com

Kudos to the CSM writers for this piece!

Ya gotta love this! Here we have the flower children and a more recent generation of professors establishing a system of political correctness that quenches the freedom of expression that should be the bedrock of a university education.

Students rebel. Professors rebel, feminists rebel, conservatives rebel, the ACLU rebels, people of faith and color rebel. It boils down to this:

People are unwilling to admit that we are unequal in abilities or that some belief systems may be terribly biased or untenable. Discussing these subjects is taboo, to the great discredit of academia.

We need to question why this foolishness of political correctness is allowed to breed on campuses and in other places. This is not healthy.

Three cheers for Larry Summers!

Bloomberg Printer-Friendly Page

Compare Soros and Gates in terms of their contributions. Gates stands head and shoulders above Soros in terms of real benefit to humanity by his business efforts and his philanthropy.

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Amid Attacks, a Party Atmosphere on Baghdad's Closed Streets

Early reports seem to suggest success in turning people out for the election. Good news!

But if the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner.

No one was claiming that the insurgency was over or that the deadly attacks would end. But the atmosphere in this usually grim capital, a city at war and an ethnic microcosm of the country, had changed, with people dressed in their finest clothes to go to the polls in what was generally a convivial mood.

"But if the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner.
No one was claiming that the insurgency was over or that the deadly attacks would end. But the atmosphere in this usually grim capital, a city at war and an ethnic microcosm of the country, had changed, with people dressed in their finest clothes to go to the polls in what was generally a convivial mood."

The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > 'Collapse': How the World Ends

These are fascinating and heady ruminations by Diamond and Easterbrook but are built on the premise of a Godless nature. If they wish to believe that, they may theorize and analyze until the cows come home, but to what end? Certainly we have evidence of the rise and fall of cultures and societies, but this history is not wholly driven by the forces of nature. Man is a rational being with free will and makes individual and collective choices about his today and his tomorrow. Nature influences, but does not rule. Yet man is not wholly rational, otherwise, with tools and resources, he would certainly not choose extermination. Or would he? That depends on how people view death and a life in the hereafter.

If one believes in a purposeful God, then these theories are interesting but not determinative. Destiny cannot be predicted with accuracy unless one believes in an omnipotent 'creative intelligence' (call it what you will) who has provided us His Word, His Son and His Spirit.

Neglect That Spells Retirement Ruin (washingtonpost.com)

Albert Crenshaw's analysis (also published today in the Burlington Free Press) portrays the complex task for each person to provide for a secure retirement. The best option is for young workers to learn how to take responsibility for their own financial future, obviously with help from employers, finacial experts, the government and educators. That people do not have the motivation, knowledge, confidence or skills to do this is very troubling, but not new.

Given the increasing levels of uncertainty, growing turmoil as industries continually reinvent themselves and frequent job changes, young people will be more secure in their later years if they increase personal financial resources rather than rely on government programs or hope for employer pensions.

The 'golden age' of financial security built on defined benefit employer pensions and government programs is ending. The powerful forces at work in our complex world will continue to accelerate the need for personal accountability.

These forces include:

Terrorism's continuing threat to Western culture, and the American way of life. To defeat this threat...and there is no option... huge financial resources must be diverted from other priorities.

Technology driven globalization, particularly in those industries that employed large numbers of Americans, disrupts traditional lifestyles and priorities. This reduces the historical security of private sector pensions as traditional jobs move elsewhere and those remaining change dramatically.

Lower birth rates in the U.S. resulting in a declining ratio of workers to retirees, reduce the sustainability of our Social Security system as presently funded. Meanwhile, effective and expensive medical technology prolongs life. Both these factors work against today's Social Security and Medicare funding formulas.

Most young people today are not motivated to think 35-40 years ahead. Our 'now' society does not encourage that, nor is it in the natural mindset of twentysomethings.

Government spending cannot keep up with these program needs unless the U.S. economy remains healthy and growing. Terrorism, the threat of climate change, the escalating costs of energy and natural resources all suggest that government or employer provided retirement security will be under increasing pressure. The only realistic alternative must be to take more responsibility early for our own financial well-being in the last third of life.

I think these factors are driving the Bush administration's push for an "Ownership Society."

January 29, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > Kennedy Calls On Bush to Begin Troops Pullout Soon

With these remarks, Senator Kennedy should consider immediately withdrawing from the Senate. To suggest that the U.S. should set a fixed timetable to withdraw troops in the face of terrorists who are determined to succeed or die is unconscionable. If the elections and the process of establishing an Iraqi constitutional government a year from now are worthy of success, then for a leading U.S. politician to set a withdrawal timetable is plain stupid.

"Mr. Kennedy said the United Nations, not the United States, should take the lead in helping the new Iraqi government get on its feet, and that the United States should disengage militarily by withdrawing at least 12,000 troops after the elections, completing the pull-out by early 2006. (There are now about 150,000 Americans in uniform in Iraq.)

Yahoo! News - Glaciers Shrinking in a Warming World

Another global warming story about retreating glaciers predicting imminent disaster.

"Chacaltaya and other Andean glaciers had been retreating since the 18th century, when the "Little Ice Age" ended locally, but the rate has picked up dramatically in recent decades, melting three times faster since the 1980s than in the mid-20th century."

Tell us more about this "Little Ice Age." What caused it? Was human activity involved? How long did it last?

InformationWeek Weblog

More analysis of the proposed ATT-SBC merger Overall a positive opinion as to effects on large customers.

The New York Times > Business > Dial M for Merger

So much change in such a short time! The reality is that we are only in the infancy of this technology driven telecom revolution. To enable the market to sort out the consumer choices, government policy at both the state and federal level should be 'hands off' to the maximum degree possible. The one clear exception should be the public safety requirements of E911.

The merger should be approved.

January 28, 2005

Older Workers: Untapped Assets for Creating Value - Knowledge@Wharton

Older folks and those soon to be may find some benefit in the synopsis of this conference held at Wharton about the issues facing older people, retirement, health care and the need to work longer if we remain healthy.

One quote:

"The result? Mitchell predicts, as conference attendees heard from nearly every other speaker at the symposium, that baby boomers will need to remain in the workforce far longer than employees in the last generation, and much longer than they themselves may have anticipated. She returned to her earlier comment: "Like I said, just don't get old, don't get sick, don't retire ... and you'll be fine." Still, Mitchell did offer some advice for future generations of employers and employees. "We need to financially educate our citizens more and earlier, outside of the company-based benefits environment, because companies will not be the nexus of benefits and pensions in the future. Cleary, this is not a good model going forward. As it changes, people will need to consult financial professionals more and will need to understand the financial choices they are faced with in order to operate in this complex environment."

Yahoo! News - Red Cross Raises Enough in Tsunami Relief

What an incredible outpouring of money for tsunami aid efforts! Enough $ raised worldwide in 30 days to support the relief effort for 10 years. And this does not count the donations to hundreds of other charities.

Now, the leaders of the International Red Cross must be held accountable for how this money is spent. With this much largesse, there is always a temptation for corruption and theft. Who will do this? This would be a great task for the world's major news organizations.

Yahoo! News - Gases Could Raise Temperatures 19.8 Degrees -Study

Scaremongering of the worst kind! Here are the facts that we should be given at a level the average citizen can understand:

What was the composition of atmospheric gases at the earliest possible time when it was measured?

Show the change in composition of atmospheric gases over time and the change in average temperature over time. Show the average temperature of the oceans over time because they are the global heat sink which are one very important factor regulating temperature.

Compare these changes with what is known about other climate changes in the earth's recent history.

It's irresponsible to churn up peoples' emotions this way. Clearly this is what these extremists are doing to move their agenda.

Their real agenda, IMHO, is growth and population control. There is certainly some limit to what the Earth can sustain, but the extremist predictions of the not-too-distant past have proven to be inaccurate and overblown.

People without scientific understanding... and there are plenty in this country, given the poor results in math and science in our schools... are easily manipulated by rash claims frequently following on the heels of natural disasters and damaging storms.

I submit that severe volcanic eruptions spewing sulfur and carbon based gases do more harm to the atmosphere than man's feeble influence.

January 27, 2005

Yahoo! News - Verizon's Horizon

Verizon has had a decent year but the competitive landscape and the mergers and acquisitions on the horizon suggest telecom will be a tough business in 2005-2006. Good for the consumer, tough on the shareowners.

BurlingtonFreePress.com :: Power Struggle: VELCO'S power line project

Update 1/29/05: Yesterday the Vermont PSB approved the NWRP...to their credit. Nevertheless, there are many conditions including the onerous requirement to bury 1.4 miles of the line in Shelburne. This seems to cause a $3+million cost increase, according to the Burlington Free Press. (note: this link will die in a few days because the BFP, to its great discredit does not permanently archive content for blog links) A question arises about who will pay for this and other increases in project cost emanating from this decision. Why should the rest of New England, paying ~95% of this project's costs, be burdened with what may be 'scenic surcharge?'

The decision is almost certain to be appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court, given the size and contentiousness of the project. I would like to see an accounting of the transaction costs for this project. I'd guess they must have accumulated in the range of 10% of the construction costs and will climb even more before any of this is built.

If the PSB is true to form it will announce its decision on the Northwest Reliability Project on Friday. Rationality suggests they will approve it. If not, Vermont will signal once more that it is unwilling to balance the needs for a healthy economy and environmental purity.

I would love to see if the same individuals who oppose the NWRP on the basis of alternative energy sources also endorse windmills. Consistency of thinking would suggest the same individuals would endorse both. What if the windmills were in the shallow waters of Lake Champlain as a public power source rather than on ridgelines?

January 26, 2005

Net telephone fees have users fuming | CNET News.com

What a wonderful turn of events. I think it's hilarious when VoIP phone company customers think they've found a way to avoid the surcharges levied by regulators for the 'public good.' Spelling out the details of charges, taxes and surcharges is the best way for watchdogs to figure out how to change the way the way telephony works to supply funds for all sorts of programs.

Governments have social goals to attend to and they like to do it with surcharges, preferably hidden in the bills. Users of VoIP have a "Great Awakening" to deal with as the details become known. Regulators and lawmakers also have to come to grips with the gravy train they have built on the backs of the former monopoly's customers.

Social programs should be funded by taxes, not hidden charges on captive customers.

Economist: China Loses in Dollar Stability

Is it conceivable that China's cities could possibly absorb this level of migration?

"Since China's economic modernization began over a decade ago, 120 million rural laborers have moved into cities, but another 200 million or 300 million people need to move into the cities from the countryside to spur development, he said."

The New York Times > Washington > Senate Confirms Rice as Secretary of State on 85-13 Vote

I find it fascinating that Senator Leahy, to his credit, and not Senator Jeffords voted to confirm Condi Rice as Secretary of State. Poor Senator Jeffords seems so frustrated and negative with his lot in life. Perhaps its time he moved on.

"Nonetheless, some Democrats who voted for her said they did so with reservations. 'My vote in favor of Dr. Rice is difficult to explain,' said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont. 'It is more a product of a belief than a cold analysis of her record. I believe that Dr. Rice is capable of learning from her mistakes and changing her ways. That she will rise to this new challenge. That she can be a good secretary of state.'"

Boxer's rebellion and Democrats' new tone | csmonitor.com

Barbara Boxer... the ultra-liberal bomb tosser from California. Perhaps she's the idol of those same reactionaries who have been bombarding Harvard's president because of his recent gender-based comments.

Boxer is ineffective and an embarrassment.

The contrast between Senator Boxer's moves and the more modulated tones of the party's new Senate leadership team is partly a matter of personal style, but it also reflects the challenge that Democrats face as the minority party after an election that left many shellshocked. They want to expand their reach into the American electorate and avoid the "obstructionist" label, while reassuring core activists that the party is not going soft.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Italy row over 'guerrilla' ruling

It's time someone squeezed the juice into 'Clementina.' If this reporting is correct (always a caveat these days), terrorists should claim guerilla status and ask for trial in Clementina's Milan court.

Yahoo! News - Pushing Liberty: What Bush Means

A bit of a 'mumbledypeg' analysis of what Bush intends, though this observation is relevant:

"Bush's rhetoric alone may prompt governments around the globe to rethink the way they treat their citizens. That would be a great achievement. But fighting terrorism, curbing nukes, preserving oil flows, and expanding trade often will override promotion of freedom and liberty in dealing with the likes of Pakistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and China. And with the military all but tapped out, don't expect either GIs or Condi Rice to be on the march for democracy any time soon."

January 25, 2005

WorldNetDaily: An American who can't say no

I hope Buchanan is wrong, but he makes a persuasive case that we are living well beyond our means. We are!

Any Food? Posted by Hello

Cell phones gaining on landlines | CNET News.com

George Gilder was right. Voice is going wireless...big time.

PCWorld.com - Is Google Planning a VoIP Service?

A free telephone service from a company with Google's stature would send that market into a frenzy.

Telecom Archaeology

Americans not to be outdone!
German scientists dug 50 meters down and discovered small pieces of copper. After studying these pieces for a long time, Germany announced that the ancient Germans 25,000 years ago had a nation-wide telephone net.

Naturally, the Russian government was not that easily impressed. They ordered their own scientists to dig even deeper. 100 meters down they found small pieces of glass and they soon announced that the ancient Russians 35,000 years ago already had a nation-wide fiber net.

American scientists were outraged by this. They dug 200 meters down & found absolutely nothing. They happily concluded that the ancient Americans 55,000 years ago had cellular telephones.

Summers Storm

Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post provides a sane perspective on the tempest created by the remarks of Larry Summers at an academic conference.

"Summers (even in his earlier, unexpurgated form) wasn't saying that no individual woman could be a stellar scientist, or mathematician, or engineer, only that overall one gender might be more inclined in that direction than the other. Indeed, if that did prove to be the case, it would be all the more important for educators at every level to nurture and encourage girls and women with scientific promise, and it would make those who achieve at the highest levels all the more valuable in a modern university, or any modern workforce conscious of the cost of gender disparities. The Summers storm might have been easy to forecast. But it says less, in the end, about the Harvard president than it does about the unwillingness of the modern academy to tolerate the kind of freewheeling inquiry that academics and intellectuals above all ought to prize rather than revile. "

This piece in the NY Times also provides good reporting and discussion of all the factors that may bear on the undeniable fact that far fewer women than men are in the top positions in the hard sciences like mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering. The feminist over-reaction to Summers' comments is predictable and unfortunate. It's sad they feel so angry thus making themselves less credible by doing so.

The New York Times > Washington > Senator Clinton Speaks of 'Common Ground' on Abortion

It's plain to see that on this issue and several others, Sen. Clinton is moderating her rhetoric so that over time she will hopes to be viewed as a moderate, mainstream Democrat.

Time will tell if her beliefs are changing or only her words. She wants to run in 2008 and she knows she has no chance of winning if she's seen as a left wing candidate, which is clearlyher history and legacy. Meanwhile, Republicans and conservatives will try to paint her bright blue.

"Several women in the audience reacted positively to Mrs. Clinton, whose remarks were interrupted by applause several times and ended with a standing ovation. But they also said her language and themes seemed politically calculated to deal with the abortion 'freak-out' among Democrats, as one audience member put it, and reach out to independent and conservative voters in hopes of broadening her base of support for a possible 2008 presidential run."

News - Climate Change Warnings

Do we really think that we can manage the immense forces of nature and bend climate change to our will? I think we're talking about human arrogance here. I think the evidence is far from conclusive.

What we do know is that we cannot continue to use the Earth's resources without replenishment or alternatives and maintain the economic growth on which so much or our future depends.

January 23, 2005

Vermont Youth Orchestra Concert

Troy Peters and the VYO outdid themselves this afternoon at the Flynn Theater in Burlington. Playing to a full house, the VYO kids were outstanding in their renditions of Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture, Tchaikovsky Meditation from Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Cecile Chaminade's Concertino for Flute and Orchestra, Daron Hagen's Emmanuel Fugue and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 in D major, Op. 107 "Reformation."

The VYO is an incredible assemblage of talent, skills, hard work and desire to do well. It's such a blessing to have the leadership and the philanthropy to keep it healthy and thriving.

I'm thankful, too, that my two grandsons have been part of it. Today, because of heavy snow and near white out conditions in southern Vermont, Estlin didn't make it. It would have been better with him .

WSJ.com - Internet and Phone Companies Plot Wireless-Broadband Push

A current summary of wireless broadband happenings from the WSJ. The WIMAX future is by no means guaranteed. It will be wonderful for some geographies, but broadband to the home on fiber is the long term technology of choice, IMHO. But it won't be ubiquitous for many years, perhaps decades, if at all. Deployment will depend on whether WIMAX or other broadband wireless is successfully deployed first and grabs market share.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: The Speech Misheard Round the World

After identifying himself as anti-Bush, these two descriptions of freedom are worth considering:

"In the 20th century two versions of freedom emerged in America. The modern liberal version emphasizes civil liberties, political participation and social justice. It is the version formally extolled by the federal government, debated by philosophers and taught in schools; it still informs the American judicial system. And it is the version most treasured by foreigners who struggle for freedom in their own countries.

But most ordinary Americans view freedom in quite different terms. In their minds, freedom has been radically privatized. Its most striking feature is what is left out: politics, civic participation and the celebration of traditional rights, for instance. Freedom is largely a personal matter having to do with relations with others and success in the world.
Freedom, in this conception, means doing what one wants and getting one's way. It is measured in terms of one's independence and autonomy, on the one hand, and one's influence and power, on the other. It is experienced most powerfully in mobility - both socioeconomic and geographic."

In the end, though, freedom is personal, not 'ivory-towerish' as this commentator describes in his first description. The lofty first definition of freedom may be enchanting to intellectuals and certainly is the underpinning of who we are as a country. But the second definition is the one that describes people where they live and how they live out freedom. Nevertheless, the second is predicated on the first, but both together describe our democracy, warts and all.

Parsing the definition of the word freedom too finely, while intriguing, holds little relevance to reality. People in other countries want both. That's why immigrants flock here, to experience freedom in all its dimensions.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Divided We Stand

Friedman understands the struggle. However, read the interview at the end of his column with the young Muslim girls. they portray the depth of the struggle and France and the rest of 'old' Europe had better get their priorities straight. Terrorists must be defeated and radical Islamism has to be reversed.

"Ever since 9/11, I've argued the war on terrorism is really a war of ideas within the Muslim world - a war between those who want to wall Islam off from modernity, and defend it with a suicide cult, and those who want to bring Islam into the 21st century and preserve it as a compassionate faith. This war of ideas is not one that the West can fight, only promote. Muslims have to fight it from within. That is what is at stake in the Iraqi elections. This is the first great battle in the post-9/11 war of ideas.

This war also can't be won with troops - only with turnout. This is a war between Iraqi voters and insurgents - ballots versus bullets. And the people who understand that best are the fascist insurgents. That is why they are not focusing their attacks on U.S. troops, but on Iraqi election workers, candidates, local officials and police. The insurgents have one credo: "Iraqis must not vote - there must be no authentic expression of the people's will for a modern, decent Iraq. Because, if there is, the world will see that this is not a war between Muslims and infidel occupiers, but between Muslims with bad ideas and Muslims with progressive ideas."

The New York Times > National > California Recall > Commandos Get Duty on U.S. Soil as Antiterror Efforts Expand

Having trained special ops forces assigned to special events and tasks is obviously the correct thing to do. Who would have it any other way? That details of these forces and operations should be highly classified is also correct. People writing books revealing details around the edges of these classified operations to make a buck is not OK in my book. But I do love the First Amendment nevertheless

Boston Weather Forecast January 23, 2005

Snow until late afternoon...then snow likely late. Visibility one quarter mile or less at times until late afternoon. Total snow accumulation of 28 to 38 inches. Very windy with temperatures falling to around 10 above by midday. North winds 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 50 mph...increasing to 35 to 45 mph with gusts to 65 mph this afternoon.

Severe coastal flooding also predicted at high tide with the full moon.

In Burlington, it's zero, snow has stopped , but still windy. We only have 2-3".

January 22, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Ideals and Reality

The ideals that Bush laid down will be enormously difficult to meet in a world where evil is master. Liberty and freedom require a self-discipline that this generation of Americans, except our volunteers in the military, are not encouraged to embrace. The materialism of our age, a product of our freedom and abundance, works against the self-discipline needed to assure the blessings of liberty for future generations.

The core ideals of this country must always be front and center and rise above the materialism we so easily embrace.

January 21, 2005

TIME.com: Shock and Awe -- Jan. 24, 2005

Krauthammer is on target for what our humanity is.

TIME.com: Shock and Awe -- Jan. 24, 2005

Krauthammer has written one of the most poignant essays of the year. Our humanity is revealed in moments of discovery and despair. Wonderful writing. Take a moment to read it and savor the reality of our fragile humanity.

New Canon Mini Camera

This from www.news.com. A really interesting new camera from Canon at the right price. Will wait for reviews, but this might be just the ticket to take to Italy in April as a supplemental camera.

"No. 3 camera maker Canon announced a new entry-level digital camera Thursday. The PowerShot A510 can capture images at a resolution of up to 3.2 megapixels and has a 4X zoom lens. Measuring 3.6 inches by 2.5 inches and weighing 6.3 ounces, the new model is 13 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter than its predecessor, the A75.
The camera uses SecureDigitial memory cards and standard AA batteries and includes a print-share button for one-click transmission of photos to compatible printers and PCs. The A510 is set to go on sale in late January at $200."

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Dancing the War Away

The sourest of grapes from one of the Times sourest columnists. For a refreshing antidote read this one by William Safire.

The New York Times > Technology > Pogues Posts > Gmail's Organic Growth

Yes, it's been obvious for sometime that this is Google's rollout plan. The question I have is: What happens when I get to my 1 gig storage limit? Will I be advised to slim down my files of will I be encouraged to pay for additional storage?

PCWorld.com - Congress to Focus on Telecom Reform

This should be the widely held position among lawmakers. Whether it will prevail remains to be seen. 911 service in the VoIP world requires strong guidance and will be a major sticking point in reform legislation. State regulation of Internet services should be de minimus because state regulators have little value to add in an IP world. Any consumer protection issues can be handled by states' attorneys general.

The really serious question will be how wireline carriers will be able to mix and match traditional circuit-switched wireline and IP facilities and services.

"The United States Telecom Association , representing facilities-based carriers including the incumbent Bells, argues that rules requiring the incumbents to share their networks aren't needed anymore, because consumers have a variety of choices, including VoIP and competing carriers that purchase access from wireline wholesalers.

"We advocate that where there's competition, there's no need for economic regulation," said Allison Remsen, spokeswoman for USTA. "There's plenty of competition out there."

Funny Enough to Post!

Analogies and Metaphors

These (allegedly) came from the annual "Dark and Stormy Night" competition to use analogies and metaphors in high school essays:

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.
9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka.
15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.
16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met. 17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.
18. Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work. 21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
23. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
26. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.
27. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan

Perhaps Peggy Noonan was distraught from her previous night's hotel evacuation. She asserts that this world is imperfect ("Ending tyranny in the world? Well that's an ambition, and if you're going to have an ambition it might as well be a big one. But this declaration, which is not wrong by any means, seemed to me to land somewhere between dreamy and disturbing. Tyranny is a very bad thing and quite wicked, but one doesn't expect we're going to eradicate it any time soon. Again, this is not heaven, it's earth.") and she's right, but there is a lot of room for improvement.

"It was a foreign-policy speech. To the extent our foreign policy is marked by a division that has been (crudely but serviceably) defined as a division between moralists and realists--the moralists taken with a romantic longing to carry democracy and justice to foreign fields, the realists motivated by what might be called cynicism and an acknowledgment of the limits of governmental power--President Bush sided strongly with the moralists, which was not a surprise. But he did it in a way that left this Bush supporter yearning for something she does not normally yearn for, and that is: nuance."

Boston.com / News / Local / Mass. / Sen. Clinton urges use of faith-based initiatives

Hillary positions herself as a candidate wherever she goes. She is obviously trying to pre-empt Republican positions because she knows that if she runs it will not be against Bush. Fascinating! She also has been reasonably supportive of the war in Iraq.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: An American in Paris

Jealousy is behind much of what Friedman describes as Europe's views. What is it they truly believe? That you can negotiate with terrorists and that the U.N. is an effective institution to preserve the peace?

The New York Times > Washington > Transcript: Inaugural Address by George W. Bush

President Bush has big ideas. Pundits on TV last night generally seemed positively disposed to his words. The devil, of course, is in the details. I think he's right, but cultural and religious forces combined with ignorance and fear conspire to enable depots and evil men to control others. Nevertheless, freedom and liberty is our best hope.

"We have seen our vulnerability and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder, violence will gather and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."

January 19, 2005

Reminder of a Better Time on this Frigid January Day Posted by Hello

The New York Times > Education > No Break in the Storm Over Harvard President's Words

A tempest in an academic teapot. These high achieving women really are off the track given the context of what Summers said. Alas, they think it necessary to rant and rave. For what? The publicity? I have little sympathy for the feminist agenda when it's played out like this. Let them do the research to prove Summers' possibility incorrect.

The New York Times > Reuters > International > Global Death Toll From Tsunami Reaches at Least 226,000

226,000 and have they stopped counting? Incredible tragedy.

January 18, 2005

Rock Harbor, Cape Cod 2004 Posted by Hello

Yahoo! News - Spacecraft Landed in Mud on Saturn Moon

What an incredible scientific achievement! Bravo to the team that put this extraordinary mission together. Think about what has been accomplished here. An instrumented probe landing on a moon of a planet 900 million miles distant seven years after launch from Earth. This probe not only recorded immense amounts of date and images, but sent them back to Earth for analysis, and we see these images on TV and the Internet. Incredible!!!

FAHC Former CEO Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy

The remaining question is: Who are the other conspirators and their role in this? When will the next shoe drop?

It seems to me that Boettcher had very little to gain financially by choosing to mislead regulators and the trustees of FAHC. 'Following the money' would suggest that other conspirators, and Boettcher also may have had something to gain financially from this.

Merely lying and covering up the facts to prevent the regulators or the trustees from denying or delaying the project seems little reward compared to the risk of the penalties involved in breaking the law. There must be more here we don't yet know.

January 18, 2005

The Offices of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont and the Vermont Attorney General jointly stated today that William V. Boettcher, 57, the former Chief Executive Officer of Fletcher Allen Health Care, Inc. (FAHC) in Burlington, Vermont pleaded guilty to the federal felony of conspiring to make false statements in a health care matter, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 1035, on charges arising from fraud in connection with the construction of the FAHC “Renaissance Project.”

In United States District Court, before Chief Judge William K. Sessions, III, Boettcher admitted to conspiring with others to conceal and cover up the true costs of the Renaissance Project. Boettcher and others entered into a conspiracy to conceal and cover up the true costs of the Renaissance Project from both the Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration ("BISHCA") and the FAHC Board of Trustees. Pursuant to this conspiracy, Boettcher and others misrepresented to BISHCA that the cost of the FAHC Renaissance Project was $173 Million, when the real capital costs to FAHC exceeded this amount by over $80 million. In addition, the conspirators also provided false information to the FAHC Board of Trustees relating to the cost of the project.

According to court records, during Boettcher’s tenure as FAHC CEO, he and others participated in a variety of frauds regarding project costs. To begin with, the conspirators agreed to, and did, create two budgets for the Renaissance Project, one for presentation to BISHCA, and one for internal purposes reflecting the real costs of the project. The conspiracy also involved the submission of a false financial model to BISHCA as part of the application submitted by FAHC in 2000 for approval to build the Renaissance Project. This financial model falsely described the total cost of the project as $173 million. During 2000, the conspirators also failed to tell the FAHC Board of Trustees the full cost of the project. Furthermore, after obtaining the BISHCA approval that had been based upon false information, FAHC continued to misrepresent the costs of the project by, among other things, claiming in an implementation report filed with BISHCA in late 2001 that the costs of the project continued to be approximately $173 million. The conspirators also sought to prevent additional BISHCA review of the project by falsely claiming that FAHC had obtained a “guaranteed maximum price” construction agreement that would allow the project to be built for the amount approved in the CON, $173 million. During 2001 and early 2002, the conspirators also falsely maintained to the FAHC Board of Trustees that the project was on budget. Finally, the conspirators concealed from the FAHC Board of Trustees the full cost to FAHC of the agreement with the University of Vermont to develop the education center component of the project.

As part of the plea agreement, Boettcher may be sentenced to up to two years in federal prison. Sentencing will be scheduled for April 18, 2005 . Boettcher also agreed to pay FAHC $733,210.21 prior to his sentencing – the same amount that FAHC paid him upon the termination of his employment in September 2002. If he abides by the terms and conditions of the agreement Boettcher will face no additional financial penalties. The plea agreement is subject to the approval of Chief Judge Sessions. Under the agreement, both federal and state authorities agree not to bring additional criminal or civil charges against Mr. Boettcher relating to the Renaissance project."

According to court records, during Boettcher’s tenure as FAHC CEO, he and others participated in a variety of frauds regarding project costs. To begin with, the conspirators agreed to, and did, create two budgets for the Renaissance Project, one for presentation to BISHCA, and one for internal purposes reflecting the real costs of the project. The conspiracy also involved the submission of a false financial model to BISHCA as part of the application submitted by FAHC in 2000 for approval to build the Renaissance Project. This financial model falsely described the total cost of the project as $173 million. During 2000, the conspirators also failed to tell the FAHC Board of Trustees the full cost of the project. Furthermore, after obtaining the BISHCA approval that had been based upon false information, FAHC continued to misrepresent the costs of the project by, among other things, claiming in an implementation report filed with BISHCA in late 2001 that the costs of the project continued to be approximately $173 million. The conspirators also sought to prevent additional BISHCA review of the project by falsely claiming that FAHC had obtained a “guaranteed maximum price” construction agreement that would allow the project to be built for the amount approved in the CON, $173 million. During 2001 and early 2002, the conspirators also falsely maintained to the FAHC Board of Trustees that the project was on budget. Finally, the conspirators concealed from the FAHC Board of Trustees the full cost to FAHC of the agreement with the University of Vermont to develop the education center component of the project.

As part of the plea agreement, Boettcher may be sentenced to up to two years in federal prison. Sentencing will be scheduled for April 18, 2005 . Boettcher also agreed to pay FAHC $733,210.21 prior to his sentencing – the same amount that FAHC paid him upon the termination of his employment in September 2002. If he abides by the terms and conditions of the agreement Boettcher will face no additional financial penalties. The plea agreement is subject to the approval of Chief Judge Sessions. Under the agreement, both federal and state authorities agree not to bring additional criminal or civil charges against Mr. Boettcher relating to the Renaissance project.

In October 2003, FAHC entered into an agreement with the United States and the State of Vermont settling civil charges that the federal government brought against FAHC relating to the Renaissance Project. Pursuant to that agreement FAHC agreed to cooperate completely, candidly and truthfully with the investigation related to the Renaissance Project. FAHC has cooperated fully and continues to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

October 2004, FAHC’s former Chief Operating Officer, Thad Krupka, pleaded guilty in state court to three counts of making false statements to BISHCA in connection with the Renaissance Project, as well as agreeing to federal forfeiture of portions of his FAHC remuneration. Mr. Krupka also agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

The investigation of the Renaissance Project remains ongoing. Paul Van de Graaf, Chief of the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office, Assistant United States Attorney Michael Drescher, and Assistant Attorney General John Treadwell, of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, have been handling the prosecution with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. Jerome O’Neill, Esq. of Burlington, represents Mr. Boettcher.

TIME.com: Is There Really A Crisis? -- Jan. 24, 2005

This TIME article is definitely worth a read if you have any interest in the Social Security (SS) debate that's shaping up. A key fact:

"At the end of 2004, about 48 million Americans--not just retired workers but also the disabled and the spouses and children of deceased workers--drew $41.5 billion a month in benefits. Even with 401(k)s and pensions figured, nearly two-thirds of those who receive benefits count on it for more than half their income; a third rely on it for 90%."

In this debate Bush and the proponents of personal accounts must take great pains to assure those receiving SS benefits now that those benefits will continue until they die. The real battle will be for the hearts and minds of those aged 35 and under. If those opposed to personal accounts are to successfully resist Bush's soon-to-be-announced plan, they'd best come up with alternatives or they will be seen as naysayers and obstructionists. I'd think the play for the hearts and minds of young people will be very important to both parties.

The New York Times > Technology > Verizon and Yahoo Team Up to Offer Broadband Service

Broadband access and portal alliances continue to heat up as evidenced by this Verizon/Yahoo! deal.

Harvard chief defends talk on women, science | CNET News.com

Seems that by being candid and provocative, Summers stepped over the narrow boundaries of gender sensitivities and political correctness, at least for some bright women at this conference.

In context, what he said and the manner in which he said it should not have offended. But the PC BS, particularly in academia, is outrageously deep.

January 17, 2005

TIME.com: Is There Really A Crisis? -- Jan. 24, 2005

Worth a read. ANother voice and analysis in the great SS debate. At least the discussion is getting a lot of traction.

Here's one of the key outfalls if Bush is successful and why the debate will stir up a political hornet's nest:

"Transforming Social Security is Bush's biggest domestic political gamble--audacious even for a President who prides himself on audaciousness--and one that could reshape far more than a single government program. Those who believe in it most deeply say it could redefine politics itself, putting Republican principles in a position to dominate for the next half-century, as Democrats were able to do after F.D.R. created the program that was the signature of his New Deal."

TIME.com: Limousine Terror? -- Jan. 24, 2005

No shortage of creative ideas from the terrorists. The Inauguration is a tempting target. Pray that our intelligence, Secret Service, security and law enforcement people can be as vigilant as we need them to be.

Limos are indeed a tool amenable to terrorists, not only in Washington, but at any major event.

"The document is believed to have been written by Issa al-Hindi, an al-Qaeda operative captured in Britain last year. It recommends concealing bombs in limos because the vehicles 'blend in' and 'can transport larger payloads than sedans ... and do not require special driving skills.' The limos can 'access underground parking structures that do not accommodate trucks' and 'have tinted windows that can hide an improvised explosive device from outside.' The document calls for the deployment of three limos, each carrying 12 or more compressed-gas cylinders to create a 'full fuel-air explosion by venting flammable gas into a confined space and then igniting it.' It suggests painting the cylinders yellow to falsely 'signify toxic gases to spread terror and chaos when emergency and haz-mat teams arrive.'"

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Paul Oneill's idea is certainly worth considering. The debate needs all ideas while the notion of SS reform is still in its formative stages. The fact that people own their 'SS' assets rather than relying on a government/political promise is the direction we need to go. Otherwise we run the risk of a larger than necessary segment of our society becoming dependent on government. This is not as it should be because the vast majority of our citizens can fend for themselves.

While we're at it, citizens should be the beneficiaries of any government wealth redistribution, not illegal aliens. But that's another story.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Depressed Press

Safire is mostly, but not wholly correct. He is reasonably balanced in his assessment. Seems to me that Okrent, the Public Editor at the Times, should be writing columns like this.

I agree with this:

"On national or global events, however, the news consumer needs trained reporters on the scene to transmit facts and trustworthy editors to judge significance. In crises, large media gathering-places are needed to respond to a need for national community."

If a journalist has a source that broke the law or compromised national security in a demonstrable way, the journalist (or blogger) should have no right to withhold that source just be cause s/he is a journalist (or blogger):

"On judges jailing journalists for refusing to reveal sources: Mainstream media have good reason to be angry about being unfairly jumped on, and no reason to be depressed and docile for fear of seeming self-interested. If the press can't promise sources that we won't rat on them, coverage would cease to be robust and uninhibited; government and corporate corruption would go unreported.

But why should mainstream media be alone in resisting this nationwide judicial assault on the people's right to know wrongdoing? Where is the legal profession, which should not only see danger in an unrestrained judiciary, but would be next in line to lose much of its own privilege of confidentiality with clients? Where are consumer groups, often reliant on whistleblower revelations in newspapers? And where are the preachers who may be threatened with contempt of court for not testifying about penitents engaged in peculation?"

Safire sees the changes coming:

"On the challenge from bloggers: The "platform" - print, TV, Internet, telepathy, whatever - will change, but the public hunger for reliable information will grow. Blogs will compete with op-ed columns for "views you can use," and the best will morph out of the pajama game to deliver serious analysis and fresh information, someday prospering with ads and subscriptions. The prospect of profit will bring bloggers in from the meanstream to the mainstream center of comment and local news coverage."

The MSM should heed this:

"On resentment of media elitism by awakened cultural and religious voices: They're not crazies. Their opinions on stem cells and same-sex marriage are newsworthy and not an assault on church-state separation. Protests at "wardrobe malfunction" and campaigns against state-sponsored gambling are neither bluenosed nor repressive."

January 16, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Empty Nests, and Hearts

Something to consider that may be healthy for women and families. (I suspect this is in response to Maureen Dowd's sad column earlier in the week where she is unhappy with her life as an accomplished professional woman in her 40's.) A sensible alternative presented, but things won't change quickly because we have institutionalized women's' life/career tracks to the model that has been in place for hundreds of years...the male model.

Filling in the Blanks on the Hot-Spot Map

Bob Tedeschi provides valuable summary of WiFi services for the traveler. My interest is that more RV parks have hot spots. The broadband convenience is simply necessary if someone wishes to stay connected. Can't live without it!

I'm waiting not-so-patiently for Verizon's 3G EV-DO service. A new multi-protocol card has recently been announced that will allow access to the new 3G service as well as existing slower speed cell service.

January 15, 2005

My Way News Titan, Saturn's Amazing Moon

Absolutely amazing what these scientists and engineers have accomplished!

Count Me Red

Of course, there's a similar bracelet for the 'BLUES'

Social Security Enlisted to Push Its Own Revision

Here's an example of reporting/editing that pushes an agenda taken up by the NY Times, i.e., opposing the Administration's efforts to create personal SS accounts and clearly choosing to use far more ink for the opposition. It's not labeled as commentary, so at best it's unbalanced reporting. At worst, it's plain bias.

China Promotes Another Boom: Nuclear Power

The U.S. should take a lesson from the Chinese. We need more nuclear power and we need to get off the dime and build the nuclear waste repository in Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

The New York Times > National > A Push in States to Curb Malpractice Costs

A serious problem that pits the docs against the lawyers. Litigation in this country is out of hand and I'm pleased to see serious efforts at reform. I wonder the position of our local medical center? and the Bar Association?

"In the 2004 campaign, the American Trial Lawyers Association political action committee gave $2.1 million to federal candidates, almost all of them Democrats. The American Medical Association's political committee contributed nearly $2 million, with 81 percent going to Republicans. The American Medical Association said that nearly 20 states were facing malpractice crises, with premiums having risen by 50 percent or more in the last two years. The group cites skyrocketing litigation costs."

The New York Times > Business > Media & Advertising > News Analysis: Future of '60 Minutes Wednesday' in Doubt

The drama at CBS continues to unfold. Rather is truly an anchor at CBS, holding CBS News firmly to the bottom of ratings, reputation and credibility. Sad, but appropriate given the magnitude of the fiasco created last year.

January 14, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > F.B.I. May Scrap Vital Overhaul of Its Outdated Computer System

Not an encouraging situation at the FBI. This must be fixed. From Lichtblau's account, a great deal or resistance and poor execution may be part of the problem, along with unrealistic expectations.

"Among other problems, officials blame technical and financial missteps, a rapid turnover among the bureau's information-technology personnel, difficulties in developing a system that is both secure and accessible to investigators, and, perhaps most critically, a resistance among some veteran agents who favor pens and pads over computers.

"I am frustrated by the delays," Mr. Mueller said Thursday in Birmingham, Ala., according to The Associated Press. "I am frustrated that we do not have on every agent's desk the capability of a modern case-management system."

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Men Just Want Mommy

Maureen tries to rationalize why she's unhappy.

January 13, 2005

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > For Wireless, the Beginnings of a Breakout

A neat primer on the third generation of wireless cellular technology soon to be available at high speeds in territories serving half of Verizon's voice customers. This is where we need to go. Now, I hope the price is right for consumers.

If it's priced right, it will beat WiFi hands down because of its ubiquity and data speeds.

"The introduction of broadband to the wireless consumer is no less important than the arrival of broadband in the wired Internet world; we will have hundreds of video updates available every single day," John Stratton, Verizon Wireless's chief marketing officer, said.

"For the business customer, especially the laptop guy, it's all about speed and ubiquity," Mr. Stratton added. "I think this really puts a hurt on the entire Wi-Fi concept for the business user."

Glenn Fleishman has a slightly different take on Verizon's statement and seems to be a big fan of SBC's strategy.

Yahoo! News - Fossil Fuel Curbs May Speed Global Warming: Scientists

On and on goes the great global warming debate. I think we don't know what we don't know about the earth's powerful forces. I'm not convinced humans cause or can prevent warming or cooling of the earth. Our impact is puny compared to the power of our planet's forces.

? Look out paid Wi-Fi: EV-DO (3G) is on a roll | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

I'll have to check out this new dual protocol laptop card from Novatel

Why bother with Wi-Fi when CDMA can do? - TechUpdate - ZDNet

An old piece, but David Berlind's on the right track when considering the future wireless internet access options. But for the casual user, the Verizon price of $80/month is too steep.

The New York Times > National > Top Aide to Teamsters Chief Is Suspended

Will the Teamsters ever be free of crooks and corruption?

January 12, 2005

MSNBC - The 'Media Party' is over

Fascinating analysis of the ongoing demise of the MSM in America. The 'Media Party' truly is over. I'm thinking smart journalists will find avenues of expression and a livelihood that does not depend on today's MSM organizations. Many news groups need to change editorially to eliminate their obvious bias or be candid with readers/viewers that they have it. I'm not speaking about the views of columnists, I believe the news itself is biased, mostly in terms of what is reported and how it is reported. The editors have enormous sway on what the news really is. If an editor has a bias (Who doesn't?), that will often sway which facts are presented. I never believed Dan Rather was unbiased and his scandalous story on Bush just before the election was motivated by much more than 'being first.' Rather's history is replete with examples of his bias. That's fine for commentators, but not for news anchors and reporters.

I'd be willing to support with $ a company or an organization with first rate journalists who provided a balanced view of the news reporting all the relevant facts, something that the Times, CBS, CNN, the BBC nor Fox does today. I find more balanced coverage at places like the Christian Science Monitor.

The New York Times > Magazine > The Girls Next Door

This is the most emailed article of the year for the NY Times online edition. It's plain to see that sex sells.

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: John Kerry for President

This is the 9th most emailed article of the year for the NY Times online edition. Too bad they missed the boat and were wrong.

The New York Times > International > International Special > Relief: Indonesia Puts Curbs on Relief in Rebel Areas

The politics of disaster. Sad.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Iceberg Cometh

The battle will rage fast and furious and the common man will not know the facts. The battle will be on of claims based on projections in the trillions of dollars.

As usual, Krugman sees a glass is half empty. The reality of all this, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other social programs is the likelihood that they are unsustainable in their present forms. Our appetites outweigh our ability to pay for the social order we entice ourselves into believing we deserve.

Here's the answer: Eliminate war and evil in the world. We could live far mor cheaply without them.

PCWorld.com - Incompatibility Threatens Digital Lifestyle

Standards, standards, who's got the standards? Nothing new here. Standards benefit the consumer in the form of vendor choice and lower prices. Standards benefit a vendor most when the standard is theirs and other vendors and consumers buy into it. These are often conflicting goals.

I'll argue that common standards are very difficult to establish in a vibrant marketplace and with galloping technological advances, don't last very long.

Open Source, here we come?

The New York Times > Technology > Free Speech, or Secrets From Apple?

The definition of journalist in the blogosphere age and the technological opportunity enabling anyone to be a publisher sets up a significant challenge to the legal system's interpretation of the first amendment.

"Bloggers are becoming a more and more critical source of news," said Kurt Opsahl, the lawyer representing the two sites and a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group based in California. "A lot of confidential tips first start out on the blogs before being picked up in the mainstream media."

Apple, however, makes a strong argument that certain information is protected and should not be published. Basically this is the same message the federal government makes in the case of NY Times reporters who outed a CIA agent.

"'Apple does not seek to discourage communication protected by the free-speech guarantees of the United States and California Constitutions,' Apple said in the suit. 'These constitutionally protected freedoms, however, do not extend to defendants' unlawful practice of misappropriating and disseminating trade secrets acquired through the deliberate violation of known duties of confidentiality.'"

January 11, 2005

IBM offers 500 patents for open-source use | CNET News.com

IBM is throwing a big challenge into Microsoft's path by its strong embrace of Linux and opening up hundreds of its patents royalty-free. They expect to make their money in the consulting arena and with their heavily business-focused product line. They are not interested in the consumer business as evidenced by selling the PC division to a Chinese company.

Microsoft, I believe, with all the legal wranglings and trouble in the EU and the challenges to Windows and Internet Explorer must make its thrust into the media and content markets, where it has many different challengers.

IBM throws down the gauntlet to those who would thwart the open source movement.

"'Through measures such as today's pledge, we will increasingly use patents to encourage and protect global innovation and interoperability through open standards, and we urge others to do so as well,' Kelly said. 'We will work with the U.S. PTO and other commentators and policy makers to ensure that the U.S. patent system continues to evolve to address the challenges of the innovation economy.' "

The New York Times > Business > Media & Advertising > News Analysis: CBS Struggles in Wake of Discredited Report

This sums it up. Jones is the director of the Shorenstein Center on Press and Politics at Harvard University. Of course politics played a part in this. Anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken and naive.

"Ms. Mapes, who lives in Texas, was also known inside CBS for her long-time aggressive coverage of President Bush, going back to his days as governor. Though Mr. Moonves and other CBS executives yesterday pointed to the panel's exoneration of the network on charges of political bias against the president, not everyone agreed that it played no role at all.

"It sounds like you had a star reporter here who fell in love with a story," Mr. Jones said. "Her previous work had given her a reputation sufficient to bowl over everyone else. It seems like it was a combination of competitive pressure, hubris and a little politics. I think it's foolish to separate this entirely from politics, no matter what the report says. All in all that's a witches' brew."

January 10, 2005

The New York Times > Business > Media & Advertising > Panel Finds CBS News Rushed Report on Bush's Guard Record

Well, the fiasco seems to be ended. CBS has rightly investigated and, based on the facts uncovered, fired 4 high level executives. I applaud CBS for finally exposing at least part of the truth of the forged documents and Rather's denial over a long period of time. While we will never know for certain the motivations of the CBS people behind this journalistic lapse or lack of ethics that has sullied its reputation, concluding that they were motivated to do everything possible to unseat President Bush fits with their reputation as liberal activists. They were blinded by bias and a desire to defeat Bush.

CBS has determined they were wrong and heads have rolled. This is as it should be.

"As far as the question of reporting is concerned, the bottom line is that much of the September 8th broadcast was wrong, incomplete or unfair," Mr. Moonves, who is also chairman of CBS, said in a statement. "We deeply regret the disservice this flawed '60 Minutes' Wednesday report did to the American public, which has a right to count on CBS News for fairness and accuracy in all it does."

CBS reports:

"The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, was also faulted for calling Joe Lockhart, a senior official in the John Kerry campaign, prior to the airing of the piece, and offering to put Burkett in touch with him. The panel called Mapes’ action a “clear conflict of interest that created the appearance of political bias.”

This contact, though it may have been requested by their informant, indicates a political bias. If no bias, Mapes wouldn't have done it.

Here's a blog devoted to the Rather-CBS affair, ratherbiased.com.

Comcast pushes VoIP to prime time | CNET News.com

The largest cable company as a result of buying up AT&T's failed cable assets, Comcast offers broad-based VoIP phone service. If they can pull this off within their total system in 18 months, they pose a threat to the traditional telcos who provide circuit switched service. However, Comcast is smart not to offer this at too low a price in the early going.

The Bells need to move aggressively to counter this unregulated competition. Obvious to anyone paying attention is the traditional landline phone service is going the way of the dodo. Still to be resolved, though, is E911 service and how it will be provided reliably over VoIP.

"The technology is cheaper for consumers because it avoids the heavily taxed and regulated traditional local phone networks built and controlled by the Baby Bells--the four regional operating companies formed after the breakup of AT&T. While other cable companies and a host of upstarts such as Vonage Holdings have been selling VoIP since 2002, Comcast is considered the most daunting for the Bells because of its size, financial backing and political muscle."

The New York Times > International > Europe > Cape Trafalgar Journal: Where Nelson Triumphed, a Battle Rages Over Windmills

The European offshore wind farm business is booming. With a big wind project proposed for Nantucket sound, can Lake Champlain be far behind?

I am impressed with the goal of 22% of the E.U.'s electricity from renewables by 2010.

"That is why many hilltops now have windmills. A farmer used to get nothing from his hill. Now he rents it to a utility or puts his own windmills there."

That may continue, he says, as long as the government pays grid operators the difference between conventional and wind-generated electricity, on average two or three cents per kilowatt-hour. Eventually, some experts think, wind power may become competitive as turbines get bigger and as pollution taxes are imposed on fossil fuel energy."

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: Exit, Snarling

"Soon, the all-news airwaves were awash with primal screams."

I think The Times has a few columnists who are primal scream writers. Dowd and Krugman come to mind.

These screamers need to be heard, though, and balanced with more rational voices of reason and thoughtful analysis so that readers can decide their own positions by exposure to fringe thinkers.

The New York Times > Washington > Diplomacy: Bush Praises Choice of Abbas as New Palestinian President

Cautious optimism for the Israel-Palestinian problem.

January 9, 2005

A natural, low-tech solution to tsunamis: mangroves | csmonitor.com

Trees and vegetation as a natural barrier as a possibility to protect coastal areas against high seas and tsunamis raises the question of what the governments can do in terms of rebuilding to keep people back from the seashore. Is it possible in Sri Lanka and Sumatra?

The New York Times > Week in Review > The Public Editor: No Picture Tells the Truth. The Best Do Better Than That.

A rational discussion of the power, editing and placement of photos by the Times Public Editor, Daniel Okrent. He's right, pictures can be accurate but not truthful in that they don't portray the whole reality of a story. The policy of not doctoring or manipulating images is one that I hope all major news providers follow.

The New York Times > International > Africa > Sudan Government and Rebels in Deal to End Fighting in South

What a horrific tragedy! Two million people dead. I wonder if this settlement is real or only another attempt at settling long standing ethnic and religious killing and all the grim effects of war at any cost?

"An estimated two million people have died in Sudan's decades of war, from starvation and disease as well as bullets and bombs. Previous attempts at negotiation have gone nowhere and this round of talks, which traces its origins back to 1997, have been close to collapse numerous times."

Open-sourcing the news | Newsmakers | CNET News.com

The wikipedia model works reasonably well because it's a reference model that does not have immediacy as a criterion. Wikinews, OTH, probably will not succeed unless there is a journalistic underground that can feed it.

However, they may add some value by creating features and context pieces rather than instant news. That would be a valuable outcome, sort of a synthesis of major news stories that have a long timeline and continuing interest and relevance, perhaps, environmental issues, financial market backgrounders, the war in Iraq, the U.N. Oil for Food mess, AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, tsunami follow-up, etc.

This Q&A excerpt is the core of this Wikinews experiment.
"Is this Wikinews project also a reflection on the state of Internet media?

"This is sort of an old cliche. But I think that we're now starting to see the Internet mature enough that we're seeing explorations and experimentation to make this a reality.
The old broadcast model, in which an elite set of scribes sends out their thoughts to world--I don't think it will ever completely go away, but it's getting challenged by a more interactive model, in which communities come together to do things that fall somewhere in the realm that we traditionally thought the media do."

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: It's Time to Spray DDT

A bold suggestion. The logic seems clear, but will people accept the benefits of a chemical that has been denigrated for its environmental effects? Tough choices. Will the 'Silent Spring' rule?

January 8, 2005

Hillary Clinton's Former Campaign Finance Director Indicted

If she really wants to run for President in 2008, she'd better find honest people to help her.

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Captured Insurgents: U.S. Said to Hold More Foreigners in Iraq Fighting

Congress may desire to consider what to do with these captured terrorists, long term. In the meantime, we are right to hold them and they should have no rights under the Geneva Convention, designed as it was for another times and wars between nation-states. Al Qaida terrorists and others are not entitled to prisoner of war treatment.

"Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination to become attorney general, noted that the Justice Department had issued a legal opinion last year saying non-Iraqis captured by American forces in Iraq are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

"We had members of Al Qaida, intent on killing Americans, flooding into or coming into Iraq," Mr. Gonzales testified. "And the question was legitimately raised, in my judgment, as to whether or not - what were the legal limits about how to deal with these terrorists."

"There was a fear about creating a sanctuary for terrorists if we were to say that if you come and fight against America in the conflict with Iraq, that you would receive the protections of a prisoner of war," he said."

Here's why its a good thing Kerry is not President. He would likely have been softer ofn terrorists. Why should we put non-citizens on trial?

"The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the suspected Qaeda and Taliban prisoners have prompted increasing statements of concern from members of Congress, who say the administration has shown little sign of willingness to put the prisoners on trial and who have questioned whether there is adequate legal basis for their indefinite detention."

The New York Times > International > Nuclear Sub Runs Aground

Oops! This is not a good thing. Some naval heads will roll over this caper.

January 7, 2005

New York Times mulls charging Web readers | CNET News.com

But, but, but... information wants to be free!

"N.Y. Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was quoted in the article as saying: 'It gets to the issue of how comfortable are we training a generation of readers to get quality information for free. That is troubling.'"

The New York Times > Business > Pension Agency Is About to Get a Rescue Plan

This arcane discussion is critically important to millions of workers with company pension plans. While the airlines are the big drain on the Pension Guaranty Corp lately, many other companies' pension plans are or will be under the auspices of the Feds.

This entity must be kept solvent for the benefit of those whose pensions it pays. I'm fortunate to have a pension from a company that has managed its pension plans very well. They are healthy and, God willing, will remain so.

January 6, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > Gonzales Disavows Torture as Confirmation Hearings Begin

I listened to some of these hearings today and there is an obvious motive behind the questions of liberals like Leahy, Kennedy and Levin. They intend to give the impression that Bush's team is ignoring the Geneva Convention protocols and other laws and are soft on human rights. My considered opinion is that this is pure politics to denigrate Bush and his people.

Gonzales did a very credible job on the stand. Al Qaida terrorists do not fall under the provisions of the Geneva Conventions which were agreed to in a different era that did not envisage terrorism outside of any state. I believe that terrorists, Al Qaeda specifically, should not be accorded Geneva Convention rights. Having said that, they should not be tortured, but all means short of torture should be used to gain information that will help us prevent terrorists activities or find and eradicate terrorist leaders.

Top News Article | Reuters.com

We need a raqtional rather than a rhetorical debate on SS reform. Wishful thinking?

"Opponents including Democrats, labor unions and senior citizen advocates say Bush is exaggerating Social Security's woes to give Wall Street a government-subsidized windfall.
'In public, the president says he will protect Social Security benefits. But in secret memos to right-wing supporters, his advisers are revealing a very different plan,' said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada."

The New York Times > Washington > Gonzales Disavows Torture as Confirmation Hearings Begin

I listened to some of these hearings today and there is an obvious motive behind the questions of liberals like Leahy, Kennedy and Levin. They intend to give the impression that Bush's team is ignoring the Geneva Convention protocols and other laws and are soft on human rights. My considered opinion is that this is pure politics to denigrate Bush and his people.

Gonzales did a very credible job on the stand. Al Qeada terrorists do not fall under the provisions of the Geneva Conventions which were agreed to in a different era that did not envisage terrorism outside of any state. I believe that terrorists, Al Qaeda specifically, should not be accorded Geneva Convention rights. Having said that, they should not be tortured, but all means short of torture should be used to gain information that will help us prevent terrorists activities or find and eradicate terrorist leaders.

Top News Article | Reuters.com

This SS debate will be acrimonious because it is such an important savings vehicle for retirement. All sides had best be cautious so as not to inflame emotions that will cloud rational discussion. It is important to fix SS but let's do it with some consensus arrived at by a full discussion of the issues.

Wishful thinking?

January 5, 2005

States battle FCC Internet phone ruling | Tech News on ZDNet

911 is a legitimate public safety issue that regulators must grapple with in the VoIP age. No more than that, however. How 911 will be provided reliably, managed and paid for must be addressed. No other regulatory involvement with VoIP or other IP services at the state level should be implemented.

The cross subsidies and fees such as low income support paid by surcharges on the POTS bill that regulators oversee should, in time, also disappear. If states want to subsidize telephone service for low income people, it should be done from tax revenues, not by telecom surcharges. State laws must be changed for that to happen.

"Burl Haar, executive secretary of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, said Tuesday the commission is acting chiefly out of concern over whether Vonage and others Net phone providers can offer emergency 911 calling, which only a few elite operators are capable of providing. "There is a lot of uncertainty about how that will be resolved," Haar said."

January 4, 2005

Phone giants give birth to Super 3G | CNET News.com

The pace of growth in wireless technology bandwidth is astounding. Two-way, full motion video on a handheld device in real time within the decade makes everyone a potential TV journalist. Dan Gillmor is right to move into the 'We Are the Media' space.

MSM (MainStream Media) had best decide its role in this brave new world. Otherwise it risks replacement by a different media model. Think about the effect if a company paid me and others who were on the ground able to gather video and audio happenings that professional editors could convert to NEWS. Mind-boggling.

Yahoo! News - Saudi triples aid for victims of Asian tsunamis

Still a relatively puny amount from the seat of Islam. This giving should not be a contest among nations, but I should think Islam should support Muslims. Perhaps there's a Sunni-Shiite issue?

DiCaprio soars in 'The Aviator' | csmonitor.com

I saw this film last night and was enthralled by it. The casting and acting are superb, so much better than Gangs of New York. See it if you can.

"Still, 'The Aviator' has to be called one of the year's best movies. Credit goes partly to the built-in fascination of its subject and partly to its excellent cast. Mr. DiCaprio is in top form here, bringing a difficult character to vivid life. Cate Blanchett is even better as Katharine Hepburn, striking an excellent balance between mere impersonation and finely tuned psychological acting."

Here's an interesting mini-biography of Howard Hughes. Whether it's 100% factual or not, I don't know. In any event, genius and eccentricity so often go together. Worth a read!

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: A Tale of 2 Systems

As he so often does, David Brooks nails it again! This is must reading for anyone who pays taxes or is interested in the financial future of this country.

Here's Europe's problem:
"To pay for all of this (public pensions and health care), taxes will rise and public debt will increase. A Standard & Poor's survey predicts that France and Germany could see their public debt grow to more than 200 percent of G.D.P. by 2050.

Europe may find itself locked into a vicious circle: an aging population means more public spending, which means higher taxes, which means lower growth, which means higher unemployment, which means more public spending, which means more taxes and even lower growth."

Here is why liberal policies, like those that John Kerry's team would have brought us, will not be in our long term best interests:

"Which brings us to the current moment. In Europe, everybody is aware of the problem, but the remedies are so bad that most countries avoid them. Meanwhile, we in the United States are embarking on our own debate over the future of Social Security. Many liberals are claiming that we don't need to fundamentally revamp our system because there is no crisis. To the extent that's true, it is because we have not been taking their advice for the past 50 years.

We have stuck with a low-tax, high-growth economic model. This gives us the resources and the flexibility to deal with the problems caused by an aging population without having to face, at least for now, the horrific choices that confront our friends across the Atlantic.

The question is: Will we leave our children a system as flexible, dynamic and productive as the one that was, fortunately, left to us? Or, by doing nothing, will we succumb to the same ineluctable pressures that now afflict Europe, and find that we are immobilized at the exact moment China and India are passing us by?"

Wired News: Sat Radio Recording Moves Ahead

Follow the money! The RIAA's positions are not moral or legally based, they are financially based, as one would expect.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: Even Einstein Had His Off Days

Well said, Mr. Singh!!
"And, as we celebrate the Einstein Year, let's also bear in mind the fact that he was prepared to admit that he was wrong. Perhaps humility, more than anything, is the mark of true genius."

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Criminals target Tsunami victims

Wickedness thrives. With these stories, how can anyone doubt that evil lurks in the heart of man.

The New York Times > Washington > House G.O.P. Voids Rule It Adopted Shielding Leader

While it was a foolish and inappropriate move to change these rules in the first place, at least Delay had the decency to propose their reinstatement.

January 3, 2005

The New York Times > International > International Special > Communications: Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate

The flaming blogs have their day everyday. Ignorant
people, thankfully, do not prevail. But here's an example of royal ignorance:

"Odd blog postings are not just for commoners. Norodom Sihanouk, the former king of Cambodia, posted a message in French to his Web site, www.norodomsihanouk.info, saying that an astrologer had warned him that an "ultra-catastrophic cataclysm" would strike the region, but Cambodia would be undamaged if the proper rituals were observed. King Sihanouk said that the thousands of dollars he spent on the ceremonies protected his nation from the disaster, and that he would donate $15,000 to disaster relief."

PCWorld.com - 2004: Big Year for Blogs

Blogs growing steadily as they become more professional and as MSM takes notice. They'd better take notice because they continue to lose influence as one of the Web's early dreams was everyone can become a publisher. Now, if everyone could become an editor, too!

"Pew began surveying Internet users about blogs in the spring of 2002, and has charted a steady growth in blog readership since 2003, from 11 percent of U.S. Internet users to 27 percent in November 2004.

Most of these readers, 57 percent, are male. Less than half of the surveyed blog readers, 48 percent, are under 30, and a whopping 82 percent are long-time Internet users, with more than six years experience online.

Internet users who were new to the medium, used the Internet less often or had less education were less likely to be bloggers or blog readers, the Pew study finds."

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: The Social Security Fear Factor

Some strong arguments for the Social Security status quo. However, unless I've missed something, the Bushies SS reform proposal the personal accounts are voluntary. Under criteria yet to be specified, people can choose the present low-return system or opt in to personal accounts for a portion of their FICA tax. What's wrong with that?

The Times is right to spotlight the looming Medicare crisis.

To their credit, the Times will present an alternative to the Bush SS reform plan rather than merely railing against it.

The New York Times > International > Secret Meeting, Clear Mission: 'Rescue' U.N.

Can the best advice save Kofi? Here, I thing is the key to his longevity:

"The official, a onetime senior government figure in Washington with close ties to the Bush administration, said he concluded that "they were not going to draw the sword against Kofi."

"Everyone I talked to, including the White House, said that if Kofi was going to go, it was going to be by the hand of the Volcker report, not by the hand of the Bush administration," the official said."

Nevertheless, the U.N. does much good work, probably with little fanfare and publicity. Nevertheless, they are less than fully effective and efficient. I've seen little leadership strength from Kofi. Those who oppose his leadership are right to keep up the pressure.

But can he escape the Oil-for-Food corruption? If crimes have been committed, what court will try the perpetrators?

January 2, 2005

The Claremont Institute: Better Unsafe Than (Occasionally) Sorry?

Seems these guys at the American Enterprise Institute are taking Professor Harris to the woodshed because of his unsubstantiated attack on law enforcement's 'racial profiling.' This analysis cuts his legs out form under him.

Profiling, whether racial, ethnic, gender, religious or any other type, intelligently and fairly applied, must be a tool in law enforcement's kit. Abuse of profiling is the bugaboo, not profiling itself.

Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism

Hey Dan,

I wish you well, old buddy! I think you're on to something big.

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: The Army We Need

The Times may be correct here, but chooses not to get into the reasons for this stress on the ground forces. I think the Pentagon is revamping the military as quickly as they can. But let's remember that when the Cold War ended, the politicians, particularly Democrats during the Clinton years, wanted an immediate 'peace dividend' thus the decision to reduce the number of people in uniform during the '90s.

Fortunately, we continued to invest in developing leading edge technology and should continue it to give our men and women the tools and edge they need for any mission.

The Times assumes we should be the policemen for the world. Do Americans agree with that, I wonder? I say let the EU share a larger role in this burden, but our dilemma is whether to broadly share our technology. I think the EU would do well to shoulder its military responsibility.

The New York Times > International > International Special > The Relief: From Heart of Indonesia's Disaster, a Cry for Help

A description of the disaster and the pain of the people, but laced with the author's reference to the the assertion that Americans didn't do enough quickly. I reject that assertion when the Indonesian government has no clue how to cope with the disaster. Should America pre-empt the Indonesian government's role here? We certainly have the capacity to more than the Indonesian government, but whatever we do should be in cooperation with them.

Next, we'll read that because Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, America purposely dragged its feet in the relief effort. When that inevitably happens, pay close attention to the source and the reporting and we'll know who we cannot trust.

January 1, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: A Time to Mourn

Well said, David. Some will argue that you are gloomy and morose, but when +/- 150,000 people are dead through forces of the planet, not of man, one must recognize that reality. Those that politicize such a catastrophe are voices to be shunned. They have no value and demonstrate man's lowest nature. It is a time to mourn.

"The world's generosity has indeed been amazing, but sometimes we use our compassion as a self-enveloping fog to obscure our view of the abyss. Somehow it's wrong to turn this event into a good-news story so we can all feel warm this holiday season. It's wrong to turn it into a story about us, who gave, rather than about them, whose lives were ruined. It's certainly wrong to turn this into yet another petty political spat, as many tried, disgustingly, to do.
This is a moment to feel deeply bad, for the dead and for those of us who have no explanation. "