February 28, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > The Ten Commandments Reach the Supreme Court

How the Supreme Court rules on this one will say volumes about the culture of America. The Ten commandments are appropriate in all public settings as a fundamental foundation of our society, our Constitution, and our historical underpinnings as a Christian country. If the Court does not uphold their display in public/government owned places, we must move to appoint Supreme Court justices who support these principles. Those who oppose such displays are inimical to the best interests of a moral society.

Update: More this morning, 3/2/05, from NPR on the Ten Commandments case before the Supreme Court

Can't wait for the Times' editorial on this one.

"At the same event, Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a law firm established by the Rev. Pat Robertson that litigates for evangelicals and other religious communities, offered a different perspective. The Ten Commandments have acquired secular as well as religious meaning, he said, and have come to be 'uniquely symbolic of law.'"

PCWorld.com - First Look: Picasa 2 Improves Upon Original

I agree with this review of Picasa 2, particularly the photo organization frustrations. The editing features cover 90% of what most digital photographers will want.

"It would be extremely helpful to have a sorting option that is similar to Windows Explorer, complete with folder hierarchies and the ability to create subfolders. That way, folks like me who are used to the Explorer-like structure can easily find, organize, and navigate their photo albums.

True, Picasa 2 lets you rework the folder names and other details it serves up, but doing so felt a bit like redoing work I'd already done. Plus, it wouldn't let me perform tasks such as reorganizing or moving my existing folders, or creating subfolders."

Contemplating Churchill

This article about Winston Churchill in the March 2005 issue of Smithsonian contains a poignant ending that may be relevant as we contemplate the decision that Bush made to declare war on terrorism after 9/11:

The author is quoting from and then commenting on Churchill's famous 1946 "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Missouri.

"It is necessary," he argued, "that constancy of mind, persistency of purpose and the grand simplicity of decision shall rule and guide the conduct of the English-speaking peoples in peace as they did in war." Constancy of mind and persistency of purpose - those are familiar Churchillian virtues: they led him out of the wilderness and England out of darkness.

But "the grand simplicity of decision" is something else. It is a recognition that in the midst of a complex world, any act or decision will have a "grand simplicity" about it. Decision necessarily omits, rejects, determines. It could be grand, perhaps magnificent, and possibly necessary. But it may also seem too simple, imperfect and flawed, narrow and restrictive. And it will have consequences that cannot be foreseen. It will be, that is, human. Acting forthrightly with that kind of understanding in the face of Britain's greatest danger-that may be Churchill's greatest claim to heroism."

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: Don't Blame Wal-Mart

Reich is as wrong now as when he was in the Clinton Administration. He thinks the government or unions are the solver of problems with a scope and cost far beyond what Americans will tolerate. I agree with him that the the debate is worth having... right after we have the debate over a sensible energy policy, how to fix the cost of health care, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc., etc.

"The problem is, the choices we make in the market don't fully reflect our values as workers or as citizens. I didn't want our community bookstore in Cambridge, Mass., to close (as it did last fall) yet I still bought lots of books from Amazon.com. In addition, we may not see the larger bargain when our own job or community isn't directly at stake. I don't like what's happening to airline workers, but I still try for the cheapest fare I can get.
The only way for the workers or citizens in us to trump the consumers in us is through laws and regulations that make our purchases a social choice as well as a personal one (emphasis added). A requirement that companies with more than 50 employees offer their workers affordable health insurance, for example, might increase slightly the price of their goods and services. My inner consumer won't like that very much, but the worker in me thinks it a fair price to pay. Same with an increase in the minimum wage or a change in labor laws making it easier for employees to organize and negotiate better terms."

Why our broadband policy's still a mess | Newsmakers | CNET News.com

Copps thinks government can accelerate broadband deployment but never says how or at what cost. He implies broadband should be part of a new definition of Universal Service. The old social contract for Universal POTS Service required a monopoly with a hugely complex system of internal subsidies and tremendous regulatory costs at the state and federal level. Without offering a strategy for 'broadband everywhere' policy, Copps' words are nothing more than useless ranting.

February 27, 2005

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Israel 'to show Damascus guilt'

One of these days, we should expect Israel to conduct a surgical attack against the leaders of these terrorists in Syria, just as they have done several times in the West Bank and Gaza. They will if the Palestinians can't control the terrorists.

Yahoo! News - Summers' Remarks Supported by Some Experts

At last, an assessment of the issue without the feminist agenda and their often nutso diatribes. This AP piece calls upon those people who have done some research in the field of intelligence and achievement of the sexes. President Summers at Harvard was not wrong in surfacing the issue. He surfaced a topic that is clearly the 'third rail' of academic discourse. Good for him to get the subject on the table.

Kudos to Crenson for writing it.

February 26, 2005

Dave Winer's Take on the New Google Toolbar Feature

The New York Times > National > Bank Loses Tapes of Records of 1.2 Million With Visa Cards

Unbelievable that B0A procedures and people failed so miserably.

Raytheon Standard Missile-3 Intercepts Target in Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Test

Seems we have a viable ship-based exoatmospheric ABM system to defend against the crazies in North Korea and elsewhere. That's good news. The cruiser Lake Erie fired the missile.

The Japanese believe it's effective also.

"Japan has made the decision to procure Aegis BMD with SM-3 for its Kongo class ships."

Many years ago I was involved with the ABM system at Kwajelein.

The New York Times > Washington > At a Small Shop in Colorado, Wal-Mart Beats a Union Once More

Another Wal-mart story. This quote form the top labor guy at the company is pretty strong stuff:

"'The U.F.C.W. has tried to organize our associates for years,' said Terry Srsen, Wal-Mart's vice president for labor relations. 'Many of our associates are former union members. They know better than anyone that the only guarantee a union can make is that it will cost the members money. And that is why they continue to reject the U.F.C.W.'"

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Why Not Here?

A strong message of optimism and hope form David Brooks. As for Europe (old Europe, as Secretary Rumsfeld calls it), here's one realistic perspective:

"But if there is one soft-power gift America does possess, it is this tendency to imagine new worlds. As Malzahn (Der Spiegel) goes on to note, "In a country of immigrants like the United States, one actually pushes for change. ... We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow."

February 25, 2005

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > Basics: Bloggers Add Moving Images to Their Musings

Good summary from the Times about what's happening in today's blog world.

The New York Times > Technology > For a Start-Up, Visions of Profit in Podcasting

Let's see now, satellite radio, terrestrial radio and now podcasting. Do enough people have enough time to support all three audio delivery channels AND listen to their music AND chat on their cell phones AND IM and SMS each other?? A person's time is the limiting factor that argues against robust success of all three channels.

Ya gotta love America's entrepreneurs!

Wal-Mart Unit Rejects Union (washingtonpost.com)

Wal-Mart will not allow a union. It will do everything within its legal authority to prevent a union.

PCWorld.com - NTT Develops Mobile-Phone Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Don't hold your breath! We haven't begun to hear from the advocates concerning safety concerns. Imagine their yowls when they learn that these gases are right next to their brain!

"NTT has designed a hydrogen storage unit that is slightly bigger than an automobile battery that can store 50 liters of hydrogen. In the home, it could be used as a refueling station for a number of types of fuel cells, although is too big for portable use.
Building a supply and container infrastructure, creating international packaging standards and making a legal framework to allow transportation of hydrogen canisters will take about 3 years, a year longer than it will take to resolve similar issues with methanol, Akiyama estimated. Regulations to allow passengers to carry methanol fuel canisters onboard commercial airliners should be completed around 2007.
'The fuel canisters we are using are very heavy and we need to make them smaller and lighter, and safety is a big concern,' he said. "

VoIP is ready for prime time | Tech News on ZDNet

Peter Cochrane has written an insightful piece that describes s the upheaval underway for consumers and telecom companies driven by VoIP. Some of the responses are also useful reading to get a sense of what early adopters are thinking.

Crucial in this transformation will be effective business models that create the profit incentive for companies to continue to invest in the broadband and wireless technologies. And, of course, consumers must pay for the great benefits the Internet provides. Another critical element to success of the new telephony is reliability in terms of networking and device powering. The need for reliable electricity to power all our devices will be paramount. So we need the best battery technology we can develop and a reliable electric grid with solid sources of power generation.

Here in Vermont a large number of folks oppose a major power grid upgrade mostly for environmental reasons, but some use the alarmist argument, based on junk science, that EMF poses health risks. Sad that so many people do not or will not understand the science behind these bogus arguments.

February 23, 2005

SBC, AT&T say Bell breakup doesn't work | CNET News.com

The rules of the telecom game have been rewritten by technology's rapid advance. Consolidation in the industry makes sense, as long as space exists for new technologies and new companies to have a run at customers. As I've maintained for years, the only viable telecom companies in the nation's "public interest" are those that own networks. Many of the rules and restrictions established in the 1984 breakup of the Bell System and in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 no longer apply, primarily because the cable companies along with the local telcos have deployed so much digital broadband technology. It's broadband that makes so much competition possible in the wireline business as well as in the wireless arena. Hooray for digital broadband!

February 22, 2005

The Silence of Christmas and the Scream of the Tsunami: Soul-Speak in a Suicidal Culture

If you care about the cultural suicide prevalent in the West and in America, read this reflective piece by Ravi Zacharias, one of today's great Christian apologists. I have attended gatherings where he has spoken in Rome (Italy) and in Connecticut. He is a deep thinker and speaks with powerful insights to the politicial and intellectual leaders of this age.

You can learn more about Ravi here.

This essay is well worth reading and please contemplate the consequences of his words.

Here are excerpts:

"To be sure, this bigotry has come from our new cultural ethos of tolerance—something by which cultural liberals mean a society that allows only their views to be expressed in public while banishing everyone else’s views to their private chambers. And so the “Happy Holidays” rolled in on the heels of “Turkey Day” with the spirited haters of the season venting their vitriol against those whom they castigate for “audaciously claiming” these to be religious holidays. (Fortunately, most of them do not realize that the very word “holiday” is derived from the word “holy” or that would send them poring through a revisionist dictionary to re-baptize that word as well!) This microcosm is only a small portion of the bigger picture: Western civilization is on the verge of spiritual bankruptcy as it moves steadily towards cultural suicide.

As I have pondered this, I have been wondering what has happened to the West in general and to America in particular. Where has this culture lost its way? Europe, of course, long secularized, mocks America’s religious belief and wonders when we will come of age. I suppose they are delighted to see this outrage towards Christmas as at least a small glimmer of hope for them that we too will join their ranks of secularism writ large in our worldview."

"...a venomous and brazen anti-Christian attitude is now wielded in the West. We must ask ourselves an awful lot of questions to understand how this came to be. How did it come about that while so-called Muslim scholars do not hesitate to admit that Islam and democracy are not compatible, a Muslim can still have democratic rights to call his festivals by their names while Christians cannot? How is it that while Muslim radicals attacked the United States—and still set their sights on its destruction and on killing those within their own moderate ranks who would challenge them—the Koran is required reading at some academic institutions in the West, though in those same institutions the Bible is mocked in their classrooms?"

"You see, it is a bigger issue than Christmas carols being banned. Something has gone radically wrong in the West. The powers that are at work behind the scenes think they know what they are doing by pandering to the destroyers of America’s historic faith, but in reality, they don’t have the foggiest notion of what is actually at stake here. While in America we may think that by evicting the “Christian God” from its public square it is rending the arena neutral, we are ignorant of the reality that, in the long run, Eastern religions will not allow them such “no man’s zone.” "

"What the civil libertarians need to know is that God simply will not be conquered by our puny little outbursts and our juvenile pronouncements. Christmas did not end with the night of Jesus’ birth. In fact, there were those who tried to kill Him then as well. They thought they had succeeded but it was only a momentary illusion. There was a day in which the central figure of Christmas rose again from the dead. That is why death itself is not the greatest tragedy. The greatest tragedy is when we have banished God and are buried by our own questions. Christianity will never be banished to the grave because it follows a Savior who knows the way out. That is the truth for life and it is worth celebrating."

The New York Times > Fodors > Travel > A Word About Tuscan Vino

Pay close attention!

Soon to be seeing these Tuscan hill towns in person Posted by Hello

February 21, 2005

Columbia Spectator Online - NYT Journalist Talks Journalism

Keller is living in the past glory of the NYT print age. The future belongs to electronic media.

"He was optimistic about the future of print journalism. The paper, Keller said, is always looking at ways to adapt to advances in technology and the changing consumer needs. “I trust there will always be an opportunity for serious journalism,” he added."

A Telecom Capital No Longer (washingtonpost.com)

Scott Cleland is right on with his quotes in this article about why telecom companies headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area are slipping away. A key point is that regulation cannot craft contrived competition that will survive over the long haul. The creative juices of capitalism and bright people leveraging technology will leap beyond well-meaning but ill-conceived regulation every time.

The winners will be those who own networks and have the capacity to keep current with technology. That requires deep pockets and a profitable revenue stream.

"Why did Washington lose its leadership role?

Because Washington has lost its relevance.

Government regulation made Washington the birthplace of competition in communications, but the era when regulation determines who can provide what services to whom is past.

Many of those companies were taken down by the very government regulations that created their business. Cleland said misguided government policies triggered the telecom crash. Encouraged by Washington policymakers, too many firms built fiber-optic networks and too many decided they could compete against the local phone companies

"Telecom World War I is over," said Scott C. Cleland, chief executive of the Precursor Group, Washington's best-known telecom think tank. "This is the formal end to the era of managed competition" under government communications regulation.

Telecom's World War II is underway, Cleland said. This time it's a multi-front war between the phone companies and the cable companies, between the phone companies and the technology companies working on ways to make conventional calling obsolete, and between the phone companies and the Internet."

Hard News (washingtonpost.com)

Insightful piece about the complex interplay of daily (print) newspapers and other news delivery channels.

The Times and the Post probably should begin charging for Web site subscriptions sooner rather than later, but it's a very tough timing decision.

In the future, national and international news services, e.g., big wire services like Reuters, and even Murdoch's News Corp. are in the catbird seat because newspapers may have a hard time financially supporting first rate news organizations with more limited electronic outlets.

The New York Times > Technology > Federal Effort to Head Off TV Piracy Is Challenged

The battle is on and good arguments exist on both sides as described in this piece. I have not followed this debate, but if Congress needs to step in to resolve this, I'm sure they will.

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Insurgents Wage Precise Attacks on Baghdad Fuel

As John Robb has often emphasized, terrorist saboteurs can severely disrupt the infrastructure and sow chaos very easily.

"The new pattern of sabotage, he said, lays the groundwork for chaos - a deeply resentful populace, the appearance of government ineffectuality, a halt to major business and industrial activities. The second side - the suicide bombings, assassinations and kidnappings - he said, is aimed in large measure at sowing discord among ethnic and religious groups."

Whatever script the insurgents may be following, their attacks have been prolific, said Mr. Ghadhban, the oil minister. His ministry registered 264 acts of sabotage against the petroleum infrastructure in 2004 and more than 30 so far this year, he said.
No one tactic could turn back what amounts to a siege on the great circulatory systems of a nation, Mr. Ghadhban said. But he has already solicited contracts for a vast protection system that would include fences on both sides of pipelines stretching for thousands of miles in the desert, with infrared surveillance cameras, sensors, airborne surveillance and a nimble security force.

The New York Times > Washington > A New Target for Advisers to Swift Vets

The mercenaries are lining up for the Social Security battle. USA Next and AARP are two groups on opposite sides of the debate. While the battle over Social Security heats up, some smart people may preempt it with a fight over the really big gorilla, Medicare.

If Medicare becomes the focus of attention, the seniors will step up to the plate to REALLY oppose change. Tough times ahead.

February 20, 2005

Yahoo! News - Al-Qaeda number two warns West it faces thousands of dead, economic collapse

These terrorists don't give up but they will understand eradication. Let them call it martyrdom if that sooths their emotions. One of these fine days This jerk and his crony bin Laden will turn up dead or alive.

The New York Times > International > Europe > U.N. Refugee Chief Resigns Over Scandal

More scandal at the U.N. The place seems rife with bad actors. Is it time for a house cleaning?

Hawking Hi-Gain Wireless-G Laptop Card HWC54D > JiWire's Review

Unusually high praise in this review for a new WiFi PCMCIA card with a very efficient antenna at a very reasonable price.

Economist.com | Management education

I agree with the Economist's opinion. While the intense competition among students and teams in business school creates opportunities for an individual to move away from ethical behavior, the choice to do so is grounded in the individual's moral and ethical values. Successful leadership requires, first and foremost, a solid ethical and moral underpinning.

"The real problem arises when students, or their new employers, believe that an MBA is, somehow, a qualification for business leadership. It is not, nor could any academic degree provide this. Law or medical degrees are necessary but not sufficient for the making of outstanding lawyers or doctors. In a similar way, a good MBA degree can help provide a student with analytical skills and theoretical knowledge useful to a business career. But becoming a successful leader of men and women in a turbulent business world requires maturity and wisdom. Happily, there is no degree programme for those."

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Dealbook: Did MCI Get the Right Door or the Wrong Number?

Qwest's financial health is suspect with a stock price in the single digits and a load of debt. Verizon would do well not to get into a bidding war over MCI. I think they'd be better off with Sprint/Nextel.

February 19, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: In the Midst of Budget Decadence, a Leader Will Arise

A dose of reality from David Brooks. The point he ignores is whether the transfer of government spending to those over 65 matches the dramatic demographic shift that is underway. The real question is: Does the % shift match the % increase in older people? He fails to answer that.
Yet, he is correct that Medicare is heading for a fiscal train wreck faster than Social Security.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: When Camels Fly

Thomas is optimistic about the recent events in the Arab world, but this quote makes it so very clear why the radical Islamists must be exterminated.

"But we have to be very sober about what is ahead. There will be no velvet revolutions in this part of the world. The walls of autocracy will not collapse with just one good push. As the head-chopping insurgents in Iraq, the suicide bombers in Saudi Arabia and the murderers of Mr. Hariri have all signaled: The old order in this part of the world will not go quietly into this good night. You put a flower in the barrel of their gun and they'll blow your hand and your head right off."

The New York Times > Washington > In Secretly Taped Conversations, Glimpses of the Future President

Bush in private is essentially Bush in public. That's consistent with how he has behaved and is a good thing.

Gmail - Circuits: Uninstalling Woes

Pogue has my complete agreement and sympathy on this 'uninstall' pain. It should be a lot more user-friendly than it is. Why not use the word delete rather than uninstall? How about deinstall or remove? 'Uninstalling' is not in the Blogger spell check dictionary!

February 18, 2005

The New York Times > CNET > Technology > China making great leap forward in tech

One crucial area in which Chinese achievement continues. By 2010 we will be in intense competition with both China and India in most areas of consumer and industrial goods.

Yahoo! News - Astronomers Spy Monster Explosion in Milky Way

Scary stuff!!

Wireless Control and Monitoring Systems

It occurs to me that the exploding unlicensed wireless(WiFi, et al)technologies, applications and open system opportunities, ZigBee being one group pushing this notion, will make us extremely dependent on uninterruptible electricity supplies. Will this mean that we will need local generation capabilities as primary sources or backup to the power grid? If so, a new industry will expand rapidly, that of local generation, including fuel cells. Seems to me an investment opportunity looms.

Thought Gems

These showed up in my email today and I thought they deserved repeating. (Attribution not checked for accuracy)
Remember, information is not knowledge; knowledge is not wisdom; wisdom
is not truth; truth is not beauty; beauty is not love; love is not
music; music is the best.
- Frank Zappa

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge
faster than society gathers wisdom.
- Isaac Asimov

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls
and looks like work."
- Thomas Edison

Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking
educated people seriously.
- G. K. Chesterton

The New York Times > Business > World Business > 2 Big Appetites Take Seats at the Oil Table

This race for the world's petroleum resources will be where economic conflict will likely erupt first. At the rate petroleum/gas energy is being used, we may see it in our lifetime. One thing is sure; petroleum prices will not move downward in the long term.
The last thing we should be doing is burning petroleum and gas to produce electricity. The choice of nuclear for electricity generation will seem more and more attractive. Open Yucca Mountain and open our energy options.

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Twin Explosions Rock Baghdad Mosques, Killing at Least 15

Continued Shiite Mosque bombings will deepen the resistance of mainstream Iraqis against the terrorists.

February 17, 2005

The New York Times > Arts > Frank Rich: The White House Stages Its 'Daily Show'

Frank Rich is right to raise the specter of managed news and the exposure of what may be propaganda. No Administration should be allowed to get away with it.

The other side of the coin is that all reporters and anchors and editors have biases. I have come to live with that, but large media news organizations must take special care because they have a special privilege under the First Amendment to assure what they deliver to the public is 'fair and balanced. Usually it's not.

Commentary is different from news reporting, but many consumers don't differentiate between them.

I find a good source of information and commentary in The Christian Science Monitor.

February 16, 2005

The CBS Three Won?t Slink Off; Hiring Lawyers

It seems CBS continues to stew in its own juice much to the delight of its enemies. This mess portrays the pain when something goes awry in a hidebound institution.

The New York Times > Dining & Wine > Wines of the Times: Poetry and Attitude, Pinot Noir's Paradox

I like wines, I really do. But whenever I read a review by someone who professes to be knowledgable and cleverly asserts that in his/her writing, it really turns me off. The 'experts' opinions may serve to increase or decrease the price of the wines, but for the most part, these writings are mostly bs.

Dean Seen as Tempting Target

"Dean's election as DNC Chair proves that there really is a God." --Karl Rove, The White House

Dean is in for tough sledding as DNC chair. Key question is: Can he raise the money needed?

Greenspan Urges Fiscal Discipline (washingtonpost.com)

Greenspan is absolutely right (He agrees with me . See previous posts.). When will Congress take their responsibility seriously to control spending. These entitlement programs are unsustainable in present form.

"Benefits promised to a burgeoning retirement age population under mandatory entitlement programs, most notably Social Security and Medicare, threaten to strain the resources of the working age population in the years ahead," he said today. "Real progress on these issues will unavoidably entail many difficult choices. But the demographics are inexorable, and call for action before the leading edge of baby boom retirement becomes evident in 2008."

The New York Times > Washington > For Democrats, Rethinking Abortion Runs Risks

I find it fascinating that pro-abortion people will change their stripes for the sake of winning elections. Are their convictions deeply held or not? The issue is very black and white. Pro-abortion or pro-life. There are nuances, of course, but abortion on demand will be the issue that generates the sparks. Either people are for it or against it. Democrats can't mush it up like this and expect to be able to answer a straightforward question from voters. They will simply not be believed.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Fighting Moderates

Krugman makes the case in Dean's ascendancy to party chair that he's really a moderate Democrat. He is moderate on fiscal matters, but not on social matters.

The country cannot long sustain its three-pronged tax-funded social programs Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Over the long haul, if left unchanged, these programs and our other rampaging expenditures will bring the country and its citizens to an ill-advised dependency on government that will sap the financial resources and human energy needed to compete in a world where China and India dominate.

Is that what we want?

The New York Times > Technology > Executives' Thoughts on Financing Content in a Digital Age

Various thoughts about content, advertising and profit in a broadband age of digital distribution. Rapid change creates profitability dilemmas for traditional purveyors of media.

February 15, 2005

The New York Times > Business > News Analysis: With Huge Proposed Mergers, the Regulatory Maze Ahead for a Recast F.C.C.

Artificially subsidized competition was not/is not sustainable in our economy. It was bad public policy to begin with. However, now that cable competition and VoIP have roared ahead, it's NOT appropriate for a new FCC chair to begin tinkering with the rules again. President Bush will be well-advised to choose a chair carefully to replace Powell.

"Over the last four years, the commission has moved away from trying to manage competition among the phone companies by repealing or watering down rules that were intended to encourage - and subsidize - smaller rivals to the Bell companies. Mr. Powell has maintained that the regulations were no longer necessary and that enough new competition to the Bells is coming from cable and wireless businesses.
But Mr. Powell's critics say that in moving to deregulate the industry, the F.C.C. has ignored the needs of many customers who want only low-cost local and long-distance phone service.
Perhaps the most important of the deregulatory changes were ones issued last year that eliminated the relatively inexpensive access that long-distance companies had to the networks owned by the regional Bell carriers. The elimination of low access rates led to significant financial pressure on both AT&T and MCI. In AT&T's case, the change ultimately caused it to move toward withdrawal from the residential telephone business. MCI has also reduced its residential business."

USATODAY.com - Supreme Court ruling may limit rural phone options

I need to follow up on this old story. Very interesting outflow for municipalities who may wish to build communications networks.

February 14, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > For 3rd Time in a Row, U.S. Antimissile System Fails a Test

In an earlier life I was assigned to the anti-ballistic missile defense system, then Safeguard, at Huntsville, Alabama. We were routinely hitting test ICBMs fired from Vandenberg AFB to Kwajelein Atoll. There are thousands of things that can go wrong to stop a test. But 3 failures in a row is not good news.

Get your act together, people.

FCC Task Force on Wireless Broadband

A key recommendation provided by the FCC Task Force studying broadband wireless is good news! Less regulation is better than more. The marketplace of providers is the best way to expand these services.

I hope the Vermont regulators follow this lead in their approach to all digital services. The time of heavy regulation should come promptly to an end.

"Apply a pro-competitive, innovative national framework for wireless broadband services – one that imposes the fewest regulatory barriers at both the federal and state level – to wireless
broadband services. Such an approach would enable the greatest innovations, in terms of technologies and types of services, and would maximize consumer benefits. The Task Force recommended that the Commission consider several options for achieving this goal, including classifying wireless broadband either as an “information service” or an “interstate” service, or clarifying the scope of the deregulatory principles applied to Commercial Mobile
Radio Services (CMRS) – which enabled the rapid success of mobile voice and data services over the last decade."

The New York Times > Technology > Bloggers as News Media Trophy Hunters

I think the MSM is running scared. Despite the blogging hawks, the MSM should stand its ground when they are truthful in reporting and pure in motive. However if political bias on the left or right purposefully distorts the facts, that's wrong and those who do it should be called to account.

Editorial opinion is valid. Lying or failing to truthfully report facts, including the omission of facts in reporting cannot be tolerated within the ethics of journalism.

However, bloggers may choose not to subscribe to these ethics and that's a problem.

Abovitz was right to ask Easton for evidence to back up his assertions.

"It was a businessman attending the forum in Davos who put Mr. Jordan's comments on the map with a Jan. 28 posting. Rony Abovitz, 34, of Hollywood, Fla., the co-founder of a medical technology company, was invited to Davos and was asked to write for the forum's first-ever blog, his first blogging effort. In an interview yesterday, he said that he had challenged Mr. Jordan's assertion that the United States was taking aim at journalists and asked for evidence."

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Abbas Declares War With Israel Effectively Over

This is truly good news. Abbas is a refreshing change of pace from the terrorist Arafat. Too bad the the Nobel gang can't/won't withdraw his Peace Prize.

Problems remain, however, with the terrorist groups in Palestine. Will Abas be able to control them for the long term?

The New York Times > Business > Verizon Closes Deal to Buy MCI for About $7 Billion

Gobbling up the number two long distance company may open up international opportunities for Verizon and its wireless business with Vodaphone. Wouldn't it be great to be able to have wireless access wherever Vodaphone has a presence in the world with one account?

February 13, 2005

TIME Magazine: The Other Nuke Nightmare

This is why terrorists, particularly radical Islamists, must be found and eradicated.

"Among U.S. counterterrorism officials, it is the ultimate nightmare scenario: al-Qaeda detonating a nuclear bomb in a U.S. city. Osama bin Laden says it is a religious duty to obtain a bomb, and most experts believe that if al-Qaeda were to succeed, the group wouldn't hesitate to use it. Though building even a crude nuclear weapon is time consuming, the wide availability of raw material and scientific expertise means that it is plausible for terrorists someday to get their hands on one. 'The simplest nuclear bomb,' says Ivan Oelrich, director of the security project at the Federation of American Scientists, 'is very simple indeed.'
The biggest hurdle is getting the material that causes the nuclear explosion. For a basic nuclear weapon, terrorists would need about 100 lbs. of highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium (HEU).
Fortunately, manufacturing HEU is extremely difficult. Refining it requires vast industrial facilities, top-flight engineers and the kinds of resources available to a government but not to rogue terrorist groups. Unfortunately, many states have already done the hard work, creating 1,800 tons of HEU that is housed at research facilities, weapons depots and other storage sites in as many as 24 countries, according to William Potter, director of nonproliferation studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Of greatest concern is the more than 300 tons of HEU in the former Soviet Union. Some of the material may have already gone missing: since 1991, there have been seven attempted thefts reported of small amounts of bomb-grade material and more than 700 reported thefts of unrefined nuclear material. In Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 1998, Russian intelligence uncovered a plot by employees at a nuclear facility in the region to smuggle out 40 lbs. of HEU for sale on the black market."

Tech Beat: Technology Blog on BusinessWeek Online

Technology gallops ahead with plenty of good ideas from the software gurus. I have just begin using Flickr. It's really neat

Wanted...Dead or Alive Posted by Hello

U.S. Uses Drones to Probe Iran For Arms (washingtonpost.com)

Believe this and you probably think North Korea is a bustling democracy.

"Estimates vary on when Tehran could build a nuclear weapon using material from its energy program. Iran has agreed to stop enriching uranium, a key ingredient for a bomb, while it is engaged in talks with European governments."

Medicare resurfaces as entitlement titan | csmonitor.com

Medicare is the grandaddy of entitlement programs. Combined with Medicaid and Social Security, we are heading for a crisis if we can't get health care costs under control. Controlling costs is essential, but terribly tough, but personal responsibility for health expenditures is key. An attempt at this has begun with Health Savings Accounts. We need to watch closely how these are working.

"Consider these numbers circulating on Capitol Hill: If current expectations about the role of government hold, American taxpayers face a "fiscal exposure" of at least $43 trillion over the next 75 years, including $3.7 trillion from Social Security and $27 trillion from Medicare, according to the US Government Accountability Office."

February 12, 2005

ChefMoz Dining Guide -- United_States/VT/Vergennes/Black Sheep Bistro

To celebrate our birthdays, our wives took us to the Black Sheep Bistro in Vergennes, Vermont. This was by far the best meal I have had in Vermont in months. Really excellent food at a reasonable price. Highly recommended!! Easy to find right on the main street just before Otter Creek.

The New York Times > Business > Fat Substitute, Once Praised, Is Pushed Out of the Kitchen

OK, if these people don't die from this what will they die of?

"At least 30,000 and as many as 100,000 cardiac deaths a year in the United States could be prevented if people replaced trans fat with healthier nonhydrogenated polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils, according to a 1999 joint report by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston."

The New York Times > Business > World Business > Sweden's Take on Private Pensions

This piece on the Swedish personal accounts system has a bias based on the people they chose to quote. The emphasis on anxiety and uncertainty in the changed system, while real, does not necessarily reflect a poor system. Rather it reflects how people think who have been weaned in a welfare state.

The 800 pound gorilla in any attempt to move people to self reliance is the uncertainty, risk and widespread unwillingness of people to take responsibility for their own financial future. People can be helped to do this, but there are many who believe that people are not capable of these choices. I disagree.

People make choices in all other aspects of their life, why not in the financial security domain? A big barrier is that youngsters are not conditioned by parents or the public school system to do this.

BBC NEWS | Americas | CNN news chief resigns amid row

Whatever he may have meant, I respect his decision to resign, particularly after such a long tenure with CNN.

February 11, 2005

Free to Dance in Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

Iraq is a very tough road upon which we trod on faulty intelligence information. Nevertheless, Krauthammer makes the case that Iraqis do want a form of democracy. The terrorists lost big time with the large turnout for the elections.

In response the terrorists have increased their killings, kidnappings and mayhem. Having gone this far, America must continue for somewhat longer so that a constitution and permanent elections can be be crafted during the next year.

February 10, 2005

In Pyongyang, Raising the Ante (washingtonpost.com)

We should give them nothing! What's to be gained dealing with a leader who's a fool? Hem them in and be certain that we can shoot down any missile they might launch.

"North Korea has sought billions of dollars in energy, economic aid and loans in exchange for giving up its nuclear ambitions. The United States has insisted that it will give North Korea no rewards until it fully discloses its nuclear programs and allows independent verification of its report within three months -- and then has only hinted at what might follow."

Yahoo! News - Dean Vows to Lead Democrats Back to Power

Dr. Dean is a l--o--n--g way from Vermont. Can he play in the big leagues successfully? Probably, but lead the Dems to a quick win? Doubtful.

Cleaner Fuel, Less Terrorism: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The theory here is right, but requires a massive overhaul of U.S. energy policy to include far more nuclear energy in the mix. Dabbling in biodiesel fuels is no more than a 'feel good' effort.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Calling All Democrats

Another good, rational piece by Thomas Friedman describing the stakes of success in Iraq and advising the Democrats to be part of the solution rather than opposition obstructionists.

"There will be a lot of trial and error in the months ahead. But this is a hugely important horizontal dialogue because if Iraqis can't forge a social contract, it would suggest that no other Arab country can - since virtually all of them are similar mixtures of tribes, ethnicities and religions. That would mean that they can be ruled only by iron-fisted kings or dictators, with all the negatives that flow from that.
But - but - if Iraqis succeed in forging a social contract in the hardest place of all, it means that democracy is actually possible anywhere in the Arab world."

Report: Verizon makes play for MCI | CNET News.com

Now the fun begins. I think it's MCI's IP backbone that Verizon wants.

The New York Times > Washington > Senate Passes Overhaul of Rules for Class-Action Lawsuits

It would be so interesting to see how the lawyers' PACs and individuals contributed to these Senators. Passing legislation to reduce lawsuits by attorneys who see them as business cases with the opportunity for huge contingent fees and shop for the 'best' states, counties and judges to try them is an abuse of justice and the legal system.

Besides Senators Reid and Kennedy, the Democrats who voted no were Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barbara Boxer of California, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Patty Murray of Washington, Max Baucus of Montana, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Carl Levin of Michigan, Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine, both of New Jersey, Richard Durbin of Illinois, John Kerry of Massachusetts, Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, both of Hawaii, Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, both of Maryland, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Bill Nelson of Florida.

The New York Times > AP > National > Civil Rights Lawyer Is Convicted of Aiding Terrorists

Good work, prosecutors. Terrorists found guilty should be shown stern punishment. We cannot tolerate people, particularly radical attorneys with special privileges and responsibilities, consorting with our enemies. Lynne Stewart clearly crossed the line.

Yahoo! News - Genetic Barcodes Will Identify World's Species

One more immensely valuable addition to mankind's knowledge.

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > The Unassociated Press

This Wikinews effort is driven by noble motives, but is more suited to an evolving story, such as the tsunami disaster, which continuously unfolds and has many aspects that continue to need attention. For instant reporting and in-depth news gathering, I think the following comment is relevant. Nevertheless, the effort will be fascinating to watch and should be on every traditional news organization's radar screen.

The attempt to mitigate bias and include relevant facts is important work.

Above all, the central question about the Wikinews effort is its credibility. "Making a newspaper is hard," said Robert McHenry, former editor in chief of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Someone who wants to do it but doesn't really know how hasn't solved the problem by gathering a lot of other people who don't know, either."

Mr. McHenry was skeptical about Wikinews's ability to provide a neutral point of view and its claim to be evenhanded. "The naïveté is stunning," he said.

February 9, 2005

The New York Times > Education > Tiny District Finds Bonanza Of Pupils and Funds Online

This movement to online schools is inevitable and will always show mixed results among large numbers of students. This alternative is not a panacea, but a legitimate part of the educational mix, nevertheless. Continuously improving results and moving away at a measured pace from the 'industrial model' for public schools is a good thing.

"Some children have adapted to the computerized home study, mustering the self-discipline to advance academically without a classroom teacher to prod them. Others have not.

About one in four of the 1,000 students who had enrolled in Branson Online for the last school year dropped out by February 2004, and after only 5 percent of students took the required standardized tests in 2002, the state put the school on an accreditation watch list.

Of the Branson students who took the state tests last year, state records show, higher percentages scored 'unsatisfactory' in math at every grade level tested compared with students at schools statewide. At Branson, 48 percent of eighth graders scored unsatisfactory, for example, compared with 28 percent of eighth graders at schools statewide. Still, Branson authorities are convinced that the school fills a need and will continue to grow."

The New York Times > National > Some Bush Foes Vote Yet Again, With Their Feet: Canada or Bust

Goodbye, folks. Voting with your feet is a noble act.

The New York Times > National > New White House Estimate Lifts Drug Benefit Cost to $720 Billion

On and on, up and up go the entitlements. Unless we have the discipline to restrain federal spending, we will slide quickly into a federal budget that has no discretionary spending. What a horrible thought to the Congresspeople who rely on the pork barrel for votes.

Seriously, I can't understand the lack of fiscal discipline in this Republican Congress.

February 8, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: Design for Living

An example of a well-reasoned essay that will feed the fires of controversy around the notion/theory/reality of intelligent design in the natural world and life itself. If you believe in God, intelligent design follows as naturally as night follows day. If you don't believe, then the struggle to explain life in all its complexity and beauty will haunt you.

Ask Jeeves to buy Bloglines? | CNET News.com

"According to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 5 percent of Internet users in the United States used syndication technologies in 2004 to read news headlines and other content. Blog readership was up 58 percent, and more than 8 million Americans created blogs of their own."

February 7, 2005

The New York Times > AP > International > Palestinian Official Says Truce Declaration Is Expected

Time will tell and so little is predictable when terrorist organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah and others are involved, but these are signs of optimism, now that Arafat, the terrorist, is dead.

Let's pray that things can change between Israel and the Arabs. Hope springs eternal, but watch your back, Israel.

The New York Times > Technology > Smaller Than a Pushpin, More Powerful Than a PC

The very interesting part of all this discussion is that IBM is in the center of it in terms of design, development and manufacturing. Good news for IBM!

The New York Times > Sports > Baseball > La Russa Disputes Claims in Canseco's Book

The time is approaching when professional athletes will be allowed to take now illegal drugs. Because the technology moves so quickly, the professional sports salaries are so out of proportion and the amount of money in the sports scene generally will make it nearly impossible to police.

We are living in a drug culture. The line between legal and illegal is fast blurring.

February 6, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > In Montana, Bush Faces a Tough Sell on Social Security

In this debate, the young people need to speak up. That's who Bush should be appealing to. Retirees who will not be affected should be open to changes that will affect their kids and grandkids.

February 5, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Social Security Poker: It's Time for Liberals to Ante Up

Sound words about SS reform from Mr. Kristoff.

"Mr. Bush is also right to try to promote savings - though financing a savings plan by borrowing is a lousy idea. A crucial economic weakness of America is its low savings rate, and one way to address that would be to finance retirements more out of savings - with wealth creation rather than wealth transfers."

The Real Heroes

I don't normally suggest web sites other than news or commentary on which I opine, but this presentation is particularly well done.

Take a look:


The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Our Battered Constitution

The quote below describes the crux of this issue. Our freedoms are terribly important to who we are as Americans. Nevertheless, our Constitution never envisioned this sort of war with the weaponry potentially available. The consequences of terrorism are so frightful if these bastards should explode a dirty nuke or some other device of mass destruction, that dealing with suspected terrorists in the manner we have been is perfectly justified for non-citizens of the U.S. That to me is the crucial distinction that is omitted by those who advocate for 'rights' for suspected terrorists. If they're citizens, they certainly should have the right of due process. If not, and suspected of terrorism, they do not have those same rights.

"The administration is fighting for nothing less than the death of due process for anyone it rounds up, no matter how arbitrarily, in its enemy combatant sweeps. Such tyrannical powers should offend anyone who cares about such old-fashioned notions as the rule of law, checks and balances, and constitutional guarantees.

Under the procedures set up by the administration for dealing with the detainees, we have no way of distinguishing between a terrorist committed to mass murder and someone who is completely innocent."

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Iraqi Police Use Kidnappers' Videos to Fight Crime

Of course this complaint will be raised by those who are soft on terror. This use of vidoe seems a very appropriate way to fight terror and sway the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

"The broadcast of such videos raises questions about whether they violate legal or treaty obligations about the way opposing fighters are interrogated and how their confessions are made public."

The New York Times > National > Appellate Court Backs Companies in Tobacco Case

This is a good thing. These enormous settlements are inappropriate and I'm pleased that a court has seen fit to negate this one. But the game is not over as this trial proceeds.

Don't you love the New York Times reporting here that is clearly designed to feed the present and upcoming controversies over the appointment of federal judges? The Times is quick to politicize the decision in this case as shown below:

"The requirement that companies give up profits might be acceptable under the criminal section of the RICO act, which has far higher burdens for proving culpability, Judge Sentelle wrote, but not under the civil section, which the government used in the lawsuit.
He was joined by Judge Stephen F. Williams;
both judges were appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge David S. Tatel, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, said Judge Kessler had properly ruled the companies could be forced to give up their profits. He said that evidence in the case had shown that forcing the companies to relinquish profits would, in fact, "prevent and restrain" them from committing future violations because they would know to expect severe penalties for repeating such conduct."

The implication is clear for the Times. Republicans are soft on corporate crime. Democrats are the good guys. What nonsense!

The New York Times > Business > MCI and Qwest Still in Talks, but the Air Cools

I'm waiting to see what Verizon's play will be. Verizon is a healthy company with a good reputation. Neither MCI or Qwest has that advantage with customers or regulators.

Will Verizon place its bets on wireless and building last-mile fiber broadband to its present customer base or do they think they need more long distance assets and the large enterprise customers? Perhaps they will wait to buy the result of the Sprint-Nextel merger. The wireless technologies used by Sprint Wireless (CDMA) are the same that Verizon Wireless uses. Gaining these wireless customers while simultaneously building fiber to the home and letting the traditional circuit-switched long distance business atrophy may be a good alternative. Meanwhile, if they bought Sprint , they could invest their capital in rolling out EVDO (3G wireless) and expand the broadband revenue from a very large base of wireless customers.

The wild card is the rate enterprise customers adopt VoIP. The profits in long distance continue to shrink because of the price wars and the looming technology change out. Why would a company want to buy switching assets when the world is changing rapidly? With VoIP, enterprise customers become less dependent on the circuit switched network providers.

February 4, 2005

Stunned by rebels' ingenuity

Here's a specialty we should be thankful we have in Iraq. These guys and gals deserve great admiration for the tough and dangerous job they perform.

Sensors drafted to turn off lights nationwide | CNET News.com

This makes a hell of a lot more sense than a few dozen windmills on Vermont's mountain tops! When this technology is perfected, assuming a reasonable cost for installation and maintenance, This will be a tremendous benefit.

Couple energy savings technologies with a few well designed and well placed nuclear plants and we've made a big dent in electricity capacity.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Gambling With Your Retirement

How is it that Federal employees have a plan that has a personal account component that works well? Why aren't they screaming for a chance to get into Social Security rather than the plan they have? Could it be they do much better in the plan they have?

Krugman is a fear monger.

February 3, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: A Day to Remember

Thomas has it right. (It is not a tribute to a formerly great newspaper that Maureen Dowd occupies space with a columnist of Friedman's caliber. Dowd should go to work for Howard Dean at the DNC. She'd fit right in.)

"Because the Iraqi people have now made it clear that they are the authentic carriers of their national aspirations, and while, yes, they want an end to the U.S. presence, they want that end to happen in an orderly manner and in tandem with an Iraqi constitutional process.
In other words, this election has made it crystal clear that the Iraq war is not between fascist insurgents and America, but between the fascist insurgents and the Iraqi people. One hopes the French and Germans, whose newspapers often sound more like Al Jazeera than Al Jazeera, will wake up to this fact and throw their weight onto the right side of history.
It's about time, because whatever you thought about this war, it's not about Mr. Bush any more. It's about the aspirations of the Iraqi majority to build an alternative to Saddamism. By voting the way they did, in the face of real danger, Iraqis have earned the right to ask everyone now to put aside their squabbles and focus on what is no longer just a pipe dream but a real opportunity to implant decent, consensual government in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world. "

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Inherit the Windbags

Dowd is so far away from reality, she may drop off the edge of the earth.

Picture this: A new breed of cameras | CNET News.com

The beat goes on as digital camera technology gallops ahead. Consumers will have incredible options. This development is a biggie. I hope Canon is leading the pack on this. My Canon camcorder can take a 1.3 megapixel photo, but I'd like at least a 4 megapixel option.

"An even more ambitious type of product is planned for the end of this year and next: a new breed of hybrid camera that can capture full-motion video and high-resolution photos at the same time, without the user having to toggle back and forth between different function modes."

The New York Times > Technology > It's Maybe a Bubble, but a Selective One

This is a story about investor/analyst over-exuberance for Internet companies. However, this gem of an example raises my hackles as lawyers pay exorbitant AdWord rates advertise for asbestos clients. Shameful!

"Yet it is Google that raises Mr. Hickey's voice an octave or two. The crucial number for those analysts in awe of Google was its advertising revenue, up 122 percent from the previous year's fourth quarter. The bulk of that is from Google's AdWords program, in which it lets advertisers bid on key words - 'asbestos' for lawyers, say - with the highest bidders having their ads appear whenever someone performs Web searches using those words. The bidding can run from 5 cents to $100 a click, according to Google.
'Basically what we're seeing is a temporary land rush going on where legal firms are paying something like $35 a click for words they see as valuable,' Mr. Hickey said. 'Whether that's economical or not, we don't know. But I suspect it's not because I hear lawyers say it's not worth it at that price."

February 2, 2005

Thank You, Sergeant Smith!

Sgt Smith will receive the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Bush. Thank God for men who will stand in the gap with their lives for others.

A superb narrative by Alex Leary!

"In combat, when every natural instinct tells them to flee, men so trained will stand and fight, so as not to let down their buddies. The payoff comes at storied places like Little Round Top, Bastogne and the Ia Drang Valley. For the men of B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, the payoff would come in a small courtyard outside Baghdad."

"Sgt. Smith volunteered to create a holding pen inside a walled courtyard. Soon, Iraqi soldiers, numbering perhaps 100, opened fire on Smith's position. Smith was accompanied by 16 men.
Smith called for a Bradley, a tank-like vehicle with a rapid fire cannon. It arrived and opened up on the Iraqis. The enemy could not advance so long as the Bradley was in position. But then, in a move that baffled and angered Smith's men, the Bradley left.
Smith's men, some of whom were wounded, were suddenly vulnerable.
Smith could have justifiably ordered his men to withdraw. Lt. Col. Smith believes Sgt. Smith rejected that option, thinking that abandoning the courtyard would jeopardize about 100 GIs outside - including medics at an aid station.
Sgt. Smith manned a 50-caliber machine gun atop an abandoned armored personnel carrier and fought off the Iraqis, going through several boxes of ammunition fed to him by 21-year-old Pvt. Michael Seaman. As the battle wound down, Smith was hit in the head. He died before he could be evacuated from the scene. He was 33.

Decoding Why Few Girls Choose Science, Math (washingtonpost.com)

Here's a sensible discussion of the 'gender thing' in math and science. The choices that girls want to and do make tend to move them away from math and physics. The reasons are varied, but they are real, nevertheless. On an individual basis, women and men are equally capable of excelling in math or science. If the sexes are different in their choices, then genetics and envronment both play a role, IMHO.

AT&T buy shows how far voice calling has fallen | CNET News.com

A sensible piece with only a bit of exaggeration. The big companies will make the switch, only the pace is uncertain. Regulators need to get the message to keep hands off the IP business. There is good precedent for open markets in the cellular business. The only significant regulatory influence, for the better, was the number portability ruling.

Experts: Zombie trick set to send spam sky-high | Tech News on ZDNet

If this story is true, we're in for big trouble unless ISPs can thrash this latest threat into oblivion.

The spam filter in Gmail is pretty good. Very little gets through and very few good messages are trapped in error.

Congress proposes tax on all Net, data connections | CNET News.com

The option to apply the excise tax to all services, including Internet access and IP services should be summarily dismissed. These services should NOTbe taxed. While this option may be a ploy to gain support for other taxes, all users of the Internet should oppose any excise taxes on Internet services.

The New York Times > Business > Companies Get Weapon in Injury Suits

This is a flagrant example of the the need for tort reform. Given half a chance, unscrupulous lawyers and people looking for 'free money' will abuse the legal system. All this drives up costs, creates unnecessary litigation and is plainly wrong and unethical.

This behavior is in the same league with the Enron and WorldCom frauds. Lawyers guilty of it should be disbarred. The people particpating ought to know better.

There are, of course, legitimate cases of workers receiving injuries or contracting diseases in the course of their employment. They should recover money for bad corporate behavior.

Remember this when you see the lawyers' ads on TV trying to recruit people for class action suits. Shameful conduct!

"Jared S. Garelick, a lawyer at the Claims Resolution Management Corporation, a trust that processes asbestos-related claims, says the discovery of the other suits came after defense lawyers in the Texas case provided a list of plaintiffs to the trust. It ran the names of 8,629 plaintiffs through its database and found that 5,174 had already filed asbestos claims, probably recovering money."

The New York Times > Washington > Dean Emerging as Likely Chief for Democrats

If he is chosen as Democratic Party chair, he will have demonstrated that he is a skillful politician. During his time as Governor of Vermont, Dr. Dean was a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Fiscally, he was good for Vermont in a time of financial difficulty. He also signed the civil unions bill.

Howard is capable, energetic and smart. His challenge will be to unite the Democrats and raise money. People should remember that Dean was not the 'Internet guy' who raised the money. That work was orchestrated by Joe Trippi, who Dean later dumped from his campaign.

An interesting take by the Republicans. Yet they would be wise not to underestimate Dr. Dean.

"Richard Bond, the former head of the Republican National Committee, said: "He's a very capable guy, he's got high energy, but he will reinforce all of their worst instincts. His style and message is one that will narrow his party's options rather than expand them."

The real question is: What is his relationship with Hillary and Bill?

February 1, 2005

'Extreme Weather': You Do Need a Weatherman

We should maintain perspective amid the global warming hype foisted upon us by the zealots who claim we must radically revamp our world in order to save it. The period of weather record keeping is short, relative to climate change and many factors influence the data now recorded.

''In the United States,'' Burt writes, ''weather records have been maintained by the official weather services since about 1870. In the 50 preceding years, records were kept intermittently by individuals and by some institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution.'' The figures we have ''represent only a fraction of human experience with weather,'' but may be used as a ''yardstick'' to determine climatic trends. By this yardstick, the weather is not becoming more extreme.

Stepping Out of the Tar Pit (David Brooks)

"Every person has realized that he's not fighting alone in this battle," one voter wrote. "I moved to mark my finger with ink. I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants."

A statement of freedom. What is the Arab press writing about the Iraqi elections?

Many Unhappy Returns

Krugman continues to oppose SS reform. He is obviously one of the front men for the Democrats with the NY Times backing him editorially and philosophically.His statement below may not be true. A vibrant economy in and or itself will not increase the payroll taxes that fund SS unless the working population increases or the tax rate is increased above 12.5%. A growing economy may not produce more jobs. It may be growing because we are more efficient in our use of U.S. labor.In any event, ANY projection by either side out 75 years is absurd. Let's be realistic here!

"They can rescue their happy vision for stock returns by claiming that the Social Security actuaries are vastly underestimating future economic growth. But in that case, we don't need to worry about Social Security's future: if the economy grows fast enough to generate a rate of return that makes privatization work, it will also yield a bonanza of payroll tax revenue that will keep the current system sound for generations to come."