November 30, 2005

Poisonings From a Popular Pain Reliever Are Rising - New York Times

Poisonings From a Popular Pain Reliever Are Rising - New York Times

A nasty outcome of our American drug (legal and illegal) culture. However, I note in the article that nearly half of the reported liver failures are due to suicidal overdoses using "handfuls" of drugs.

November 29, 2005

Simple Explanation of Long Term Care Insurance

An excerpt from a Fidelity online newsletter.

"...The need for long-term care is based on a person's cognitive abilities and/or a decreased ability to perform a specific number of what are called activities of daily living, such as: dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, continence, and transferring (getting in and out of bed, the bathtub, chairs). When it becomes too difficult to perform two or more of these functions on your own, long-term care insurance pays benefits that help pay for the assistance needed.

How much do you need?
A good starting point is to look at long-term care costs in your area, as they vary widely. For example, average nursing home costs are $36,135 in Shreveport, La., but $113,880 in New York City, with a current national average of $70,000, according to CareScout, a Massachusetts company that specializes in elder care provider databases.

For example, to pay the current national average cost of nursing home care, you'd need about $5,800 a month in benefits. And the cost of nursing home care is almost sure to rise over time. Many policies provide benefits that escalate to account for inflation, which may be worth considering, since it is possible you may not use long-term care insurance right away, if at all.

"Think of a policy as a pool of benefits," explains Miller. "For example, if you have a policy that pays a maximum benefit of $5,500 a month for five years, you have a total benefit amount of $330,000—so if you spend less, it will last longer. Spend more and it will run out sooner...""

Net phone operators reach E911 deadline | Tech News on ZDNet

Net phone operators reach E911 deadline | Tech News on ZDNet

I have little sympathy for the VoIP providers. If they offer telephone service for a price, they should be required to offer 911 because it is considered part of basic telephone service. The FCC is right to demand compliance.

Reading X-Rays in Asbestos Suits Enriched Doctor - New York Times

Reading X-Rays in Asbestos Suits Enriched Doctor - New York Times

A keen piece of investigative reporting that shines a light on a possible scam in the asbestos damage claim industry.

Here's an idea for another investigative report. What is the % of damage claims in the U.S. that goes to plaintiffs attorneys in these huge litigation cases. I'd guess it's >35%.

Money Is There to Aid Rural Internet, but Loans Are Hard to Get - New York Times

High speed Internet service to everyone is the 'holy grail' of telecom these days. But to make that happen will require $Billions more in infrastructure. The Department of Agriculture loan program, akin to the REA of last century, is a reasonable way to proceeed, but the last thing needed is poor management of that big honeypot with loan defaults ("...$30.4 million in loans for high-speed Internet access, or broadband, are in default now").

November 28, 2005

What Google Should Roll Out Next: A Privacy Upgrade - New York Times

Privacy may turn out to be Google's soft under belly.

"Google says it needs the data it keeps to improve its technology, but it is doubtful it needs so much personally identifiable information. Of course, this sort of data is enormously valuable for marketing. The whole idea of 'Don't be evil,' though, is resisting lucrative business opportunities when they are wrong. Google should develop an overarching privacy theory that is as bold as its mission to make the world's information accessible - one that can become a model for the online world. Google is not necessarily worse than other Internet companies when it comes to privacy. But it should be doing better."

Thanksgiving Turkey Carvers

Son Karl and Scott Barnet, Karl's brother-in-law, preparing to carve the Thanksgiving turkey.

Just Try to Sleep Tight. The Bedbugs Are Back. - New York Times

One more thing to worry about...bedbugs.

Great for Craigslist but Not for Newspapers - New York Times

Online advertising growth portends the inexorable decline of print newspaper revenue. How will small local newspapers make up the difference? Will they increase subscription rates or somehow join the online classifieds fray themselves.

November 27, 2005

Calling Out the Cable Guy - New York Times

The Telcos are making big bets that they can capture a profitable share of the cable companies' customers while preventing defectors to the cablecos. It's a big bet to invest billions in fiber to the home, acquire the programming/content at a reasonable price to fend off the competition, and deliver wireless broadband, too.

This is a huge bet that people will choose broadband fiber or broadband wireless from the telcos rather than from the cablecos. Blogs From the Road - New York Times Blogs From the Road - New York Times

At the end of this article several travel blogging sites are listed with a brief description of their features.

November 25, 2005

States' Coffers Swelling Again After Struggles - New York Times

You don't suppose the tax cuts had something to do with this do you? Why is the economy humming along so well? Is Federal spending juicing he economy?

Why don't we hear the Democrats saying the economy is good? Smart Republicans running for election in 2006 should tout the economy, assuming it remains strong for the next year.

The looming cloud I see is the enormous deficits and the national debt. There will be a time topay the piper when Medicare and Social Security costs gallop skyward when the Baby Boomers retire in force.

November 24, 2005

Which Plan? The Answers Are Out There - New York Times

Competition and many choices do not always provide the easiest path to decision-making. The Medicare PArt D drug plans are numerous and their prices continue changing. My coverage includes Merck/Medco which seems a better alternative as long as I continue to receive medications by mail.

November 23, 2005

George Bush's Third Term - New York Times

I don't agree with all Thomas has written here, but I do agree that this Administration and this Congress had better stop dithering and get it's high priority issues on the agenda for real action. Here they are (energy crisis, the deficit, health care, climate change and Social Security.) as Friedman quotes another author:

"We are entering the era of hard choices for the United States - an era in which we can't always count on three Asian countries writing us checks to compensate for our failure to prepare for a hurricane or properly conduct a war," said David Rothkopf, author of "Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power."

Given that we can't do everything at once, Bush needs to collaboratively decide with other leaders in this country what issues have priority. The issues above will take at least one or two decades to resolve, if the crises wait that long.

Why the United States Should Look to Japan for Better Schools - New York Times

Mr. Staples may be right, but here are some realities to be faced in the U.S. if we were to attempt radical change:

In the U.S. we do not have a culture of learning Our pop culture is focused on sports and entertainment

Education funding is a patchwork affair given the historic and Constitutional 'states rights' legacy

We spend too much on educational process with little positive incentive for good outcomes

Teachers' unions are focused primarily on their members' financial welfare and only secondarily on teacher excellence

For a site covering education policy issues, click here

Delphi Chief Fights Battle of Detroit - New York Times

$64/hour! The good times are obviously over when the sum of all previous labor negotiations, driven in no small measure by the cost increases in health care and the desire to keep labor peace, has produced compensation for factory workers at this rate. Can it be any secret why foreign auto companies are eating the lunch of GM and the other major U.S. auto manufacturers?

"'Somebody had to do this,' Mr. Miller said in an interview last weekend. 'If I have ended up where I am, the one who has to be a leader for change, I'll keep talking.'

He is doing plenty of that. Next month, Delphi is expected to ask a federal bankruptcy judge for permission to terminate contracts paying $64 an hour in wages and benefits combined, so that it can impose sharply lower rates.

Otherwise, says Mr. Miller, a veteran turnaround expert who took over Delphi in July, all of Delphi's 34,000 hourly jobs in the United States are at risk."

Make no mistake, Miller, if he's successful will make barrels of money personally...aah, the capitalist system at work.

Ellison to pay $122 million in settlement | CNET

Trust Ellison as far as you can toss him with one hand. But can you imagine attorney's fees of $24 Million! Incredible...25% of the settlement.

What a way to get rich. File a lawsuit against billionaire. Settle for a 122 Million and walk away with tens of million is attorneys fees. What's wrong with this picture. The charities do well with a deal like this. Do you suppose the attorneys serve on the boards of the non-profits?

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish

4 cups whole, fresh cranberries
1 whole orange (seeded, skin on)
2 cups sugar

Grind cranberries and orange together in meat grinder or food processor. Stir in the sugar and mix well. Pour into covered jars or bowl an refrigerate for at least two days before serving.

Each 1/4 cup serving contains 149 calories an 0 grams of fat.

Power Hunger Electronic Toys

112205power_chart200x430.gif (GIF Image, 200x430 pixels)

Those who argue against new power sources and new power lines will find that we cannot conserve ourselves out of the appetite for electricity generated by our electronic toys.

The Deal That Even Awed Them in Houston - New York Times

A tale of profiteering, this? Clever capitalists will always find ways to make money, but as described in this article, extraordinary profits have been made by the private equity groups who put $900 million of their capital at risk. Many factors worked to make this possible. The rapid rise in the price of natural gas coupled with the deregulation of electricity and Texas' tying the cost of electricity to the price of natural gas all contributed.

The fact that Texas produces 75% of its electricity from natural gas is a big factor in this profit.

I'm sure we don't have all the facts in this article, but those we do have should be an alert to how big money can be made when energy prices spike.

This clever statement:"This part of the deregulation process has transferred billions from ratepayers to investors," said Clarence L. Johnson, director of regulatory analysis at the Office of Public Utility Counsel, a state agency in Texas created to represent the interests of homeowners and small businesses on utility issues. "It seems extraordinary, doesn't it?" is an oversimplification and , but plays well in the political 'sound bite' arena.

November 22, 2005

Ray Ozzie: Really Simple Sharing

This is an important development form Ray Ozzie and others at Microsoft. When this specification is implemented in products, which won't be long, calendars and other applications requiring bi-directional synchronization will be a boon to people. Synching up calendars is the obvious first application, but there may be several others. Some that come to mind are draft documents residing at different sites that could be changed by multiple authors. However, Writely (in beta) does basicaly the same thing now, but requires an upload of the document to their site.

All this made so much easier with always-on broadband connections. The 'mesh' web inexorably becomes part of the fabric of life in the Internet age.

November 21, 2005

Iran Parliament Votes to Close Atomic Sites to U.N. Monitors - New York Times

Not good news. The radical Iranian leadership cannot be trusted in their quest to develop nuclear weapons.

Continental Drift - New York Times

Continental Drift - New York Times

This French philosopher seems to enjoy talking to himself since he has little to say about reality. I'm assuming the interviewer did not cut/edit the answers.

Journalist, Cover Thyself - New York Times

The media has begun 'eating their own.' Perhaps this is the way they see to make themselves pure.

November 20, 2005

The Importance of Staying With Iraq - New York Times

The Importance of Staying With Iraq - New York Times

Now is the time for American resolve in Iraq. Cutting and running as many Democrats advocate is the wrong course at this critical juncture. The Democrats think they have an election issue by calling for withdrawal. When will they stumble on the right thing to do? Withdrawal out of frustration is the wrong answer.

No one wants to see the carnage created by the terrorists, but I am not willing to give this effort over to the possibility of civil war.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Influential family spurns Zarqawi

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Influential family spurns Zarqawi

More of this is needed in the Muslim/Arab world. The terrorists must be ostracized by family, governments and their financiers. This banishment, in concert with eradication of terrorists when found, will reduce their influence.

Network Error - New York Times

Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer fired over the "forged documents" scandal is taken over the coals by Jonathan Alter critiquing her book about the mess. (I find it deplorable that bad actors like Mapes try to turn their bad decisions into a money-making opportunity.) When will creative big-ego media people and journalists realize the world does not revolve around them?

In his critique Alter fails to examine the liberal anti-Bush bias that was the primal impetus for CBS action in the first place. It is telling that Mapes own father publicly accused his daughter of that bias.

November 19, 2005

Why Should the Boss Pay for Your Health Care? - New York Times

The only health care plan that will work in the long run is one that has the person responsible for their health and for the cost of their health care. Compensation in the form of dollars in a paycheck to help cover those costs may be very appropriate.

In essence, an employer provides real dollars to an employee and health care coverage meeting some minimum standard would be mandatory along with catastrophic coverage. Whether the government should allow a tax deuction for those health care dollars is a really tough question. I think they must unless a single payer plan existed.

For a G.M. Family, the American Dream Vanishes - New York Times

For a G.M. Family, the American Dream Vanishes - New York Times

It's true that the social contract that GM and its workers/unions had arrived at over the years is ending with a shock. There are two lessons here: 1./ Short term thinking and actions that create large future liabilities cannot be traded for labor peace and short term profits; 2./Globalization has huge ramifications particularly for industrial era companies.

We'd best understand the long term ramifications for the welfare and financial security of Americans as we offshore intellectual capital and property. I envision a not too distant time when America will not be the leader of the civilized world. Too many others want to eat our lunch.

Alito's Record Recalled - New York Times

Alito's Record Recalled - New York Times

Once again, a critical reviewer finds that attorneys generally give Alito high marks for his brains and hard work. We need the best we can get on the Supreme Court, not ideologues. Alito gives no evidence that he is an ideologue.

He should be confirmed.

Googling Literature: The Debate Goes Public - New York Times

Googling Literature: The Debate Goes Public - New York Times:

The publishers and authors are right. Any program of this sort must be 'opt in' for those holding copyrights. Copying a complete book, even though only a small amount of text would be shown in a search result jumps beyond fair use. When one considers Google's extraordinary efforts to create or have others create for them, e.g., Google Base, massive searchable databases, caution is important.

Information does want to be found, but who pays for what is the unanswered question.

"If there was any point of agreement between publishers, authors and Google in a debate Thursday night over the giant Web company's program to digitize the collections of major libraries and allow users to search them online, it seemed to be this: Information does not necessarily want to be free.

Rather, the parties agreed, information wants to be found.

But when it comes to how information will be found and who will share in the profits, the various sides remain far apart - not surprising, perhaps, since the issue has already landed in federal court.

Publishers and authors are suing Google over its Book Search program (formerly called Google Print), which lets users search for terms within volumes. Though users will see only a few lines of text related to the search term, Google is planning to digitize entire copyrighted works from the collections of three university libraries. The publishers and authors contend that without their approval, that is a violation of copyright laws"

Oddly Enough News Article |

Kudos to Arthur Spiegelman for exposing the bullshit language that passes as 'political correctness.' Those who would avoid offending people by watering down language are of the same ilk as those who believe smooth and warm-fuzzy process is more important than outcomes. They are 'misguided thinkers' who in their fuzzy thinking choose fantasy over reality. They are the adults who offer low standards and spineless role models to our kids.

BTW, Reuters does not use the word 'terrorist' in their news reporting either.

Uproar in House as Parties Clash on Iraq Pullout - New York Times

I watched the last hour of this debate on C-SPAN and I come away with less respect for politics than I had before. Where have all the statesmen gone? Where are the rational people debating real issues in a logical way? Here we had Republicans and Democrats congratulating each other or sniping at each other wasting time and energy and accomplishing nothing.

It would be foolish and irrational to hastily pull our troops out of Iraq. Politics be damned.

November 18, 2005

G.O.P. Tries to Split Democrats With Vote on Iraq War - New York Times

Why is the name of the game always politics, in the negative sense of the word? The Democrats are playing politics with this war and the Republicans are responding in kind. Congress seems unable to have a rational "best for the county" debate about anything. Very frustrating and not what a healthy democracy requires.

The 'millennials' usher in a new era | CNET

The 'millennials' usher in a new era | CNET

This what sets our kids apart from most of the adult world:

[...] "'What sets millennials apart is that they use technology to push the boundaries of the values that have been associated with their generation in ways not possible before.'

By only their seventh birthday, most children in the United States will have talked on a cell phone, played a computer game and mastered a TV-on-demand device like TiVo, much to the amazement of technically challenged parents. By 13, researchers say, the same children will have gone through several software editions of instant messaging, frequented online chat rooms and downloaded their first illegal song from BitTorrent.

College-age millennials will likely own a laptop and take for granted ubiquitous broadband Internet access. They may also be intimately familiar with the feeling of 'highway hypnosis'--the ability to drive or multitask with little memory of the process of getting there.

Their inevitably short attention spans are the reason Seymour Papert of MIT's Media Lab coined the term 'grasshopper mind' five years ago, for the inclination to leap quickly from one topic to another. A mathematician and founder of artificial intelligence, Papert addressed the effects of this behavior as far back as 1995 in congressional testimony about technology and learning."[...]

New taxes could run rural broadband | CNET

If subsidies continue for social policy goals, this time for broadband deployment in rural areas, then the money should be extracted from as broad a base as possible and not be limited to the wireline telcos as has been the case previously.

Seems to me a new definition of Universal Service will soon emerge from all this that will include access to broadband, either wireless or wirleline.

Building a Better Boom - New York Times

Building a Better Boom - New York Times

The new Web evangelists have taken hold and people are now excited again by the potential that Web 2.0 offers. Some very nice apps are emerging like Writely and Google Base and Gmail

mparent7777: Wash. Post's Woodward's misleading, disingenuous statements on Plame investigation

Woodward finds himself on the hot seat. One more nail in the coffin of MainStreamMedia. What a fascinating game we play with the First Amendment! Who can be trusted? No man/woman.

Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes | Linux Journal

Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes | Linux Journal:

One tiny excerpt from a long exposition (rant?) by Doc Searls, one of the authors of the cluetrain manifesto who argues that Hollywood and the telco-cable oligopoly want to take over the Internet and make it their new transport (pipes) system and charge for the flow of packets. If you are interested in the battle for the soul and arteries of the Internet, read the complete piece.

This battle has been raging since the birth of the Internet and the Web. Despite the free-wheeling frontier notion of the Internet as everyone's playground and the idea that 'information wants to be free,'popularized by John Perry Barlow in 1994, there is a price to be paid for access. That fact cannot be denied. Someone will collect the access toll to pay for the Net's plumbing.

[...]"Advocating and saving the Net is not a partisan issue. Lawmakers and regulators aren't screwing up the Net because they're 'Friends of Bush' or 'Friends of Hollywood' or liberals or conservatives. They're doing it because one way of framing the Net--as a transport system for content--is winning over another way of framing the Net--as a place where markets and business and culture and governance can all thrive. Otherwise helpful documents, including Ernest Partridge's 'After the Internet' fail because they blame 'Bush-friendly conservative corporations' and appeal only to one political constituency, in this case, progressives. Freedom, independence, the sovereignty of the individual, private rights and open frontiers are a few among many values shared by progressives and conservatives. All are better supported, in obvious ways, by the Net as a place rather than as a transport system.
This is especially true of the Net as a place where free and open markets thrive. This is the Net that we built, where we have sites and locations and domains."[...]

November 17, 2005

Flat World Competition - Why the U.S is Losing its Edge

Worth a gander. Bad news for America and what some tech policy gurus would do about it.

Competing in a flat world by ZDNet's Dan Farber -- ?We a?re creating a country where people outsource their intellect to other countries, expecting the Indians, for example, to do all hard work while they sit at home and watch TV on broadband.? That'?s what Esther Dyson, CNET's Release 1.0 editor, had to say about the U.S. falling behind other countries in innovation. She cited inventor Dean Kamen[...]

[...]the National Academy of Sciences that outlines the issues and offers some solutions. Following are highlights from the report that illustrate the depth of the problem.

For the cost of one chemist or one engineer in the United States, a company can hire about five chemists in China or 11 engineers in India.

Last year chemical companies shuttered 70 facilities in the United States and have tagged 40 more for closure. Of 120 chemical plants being built around the world with price tags of $1 billion or more, one is in the United States and 50 are in China.

U.S. 12th-graders recently performed below the international average for 21 countries on a test of general knowledge in mathematics and science. In addition, an advanced mathematics assessment was administered to students in 15 other countries who were taking or had taken advanced math courses, and to U.S. students who were taking or had taken pre-calculus, calculus, or Advanced Placement calculus. Eleven countries outperformed the United States, and four scored similarly. None scored significantly below the United States.

In 1999 only 41 percent of U.S. eighth-graders had a math teacher who had majored in mathematics at the undergraduate or graduate level or studied the subject for teacher certification Â? a figure that was considerably lower than the international average of 71 percent.

Last year more than 600,000 engineers graduated from institutions of higher education in China. In India, the figure was 350,000. In America, it was about 70,000.

In 2001 U.S. industry spent more on tort litigation than on research and development.

Wise Guy Reviews

The View | From the University of Vermont

My son, Mark, has recently written Wise Guy - The Life and Philosophy of Socrates. The book is published by Farrar Straus Giroux and went on sale earlier this month. This wonderful article, written by Lee Ann Cox, was published yesterday in The View, University of Vermont's news publication.

You can read another review by Seven Days, a Vermont weekly paper, here.

If you want a copy of Wise Guy signed by the author, please leave a comment with your contact information on this post and I'll get in touch with you.

November 16, 2005

Top Senate Democrat Voices Concerns About Alito - New York Times

Here we go. The liberal refrain has begun from Senator Reid. Expect the crescendo to rise as we approach confirmation hearings in January. The good news is the Holidays will divert people's attention to more important personal matters like faith, family, and friends.

Meanwhile the zealots on both sides of the aisle will spin Alito's nomination like a top.

He's the right man for the Supreme Court.

RealEstateJournal | Hurricane Wilma Leaves Thousands Homeless in Florida

RealEstateJournal | Hurricane Wilma Leaves Thousands Homeless in Florida

Where is the TV media on this issue? They have provided little coverage of the aftermath of Katrina, Rita and Wilma. They do a disservice to us as they race from story to story without the needed followup that print media provide. The people in the areas devastated by these hurricanes still need a tremendous amount of help to get their lives back together.

Thanks WSJ for this piece.

November 15, 2005

Rice Brokers Israeli-Palestinian Agreement on Gaza Passage - New York Times

Rice Brokers Israeli-Palestinian Agreement on Gaza Passage - New York Times

Three cheers for Condi for getting into the middle of this. I will reserve judgment on success of these negotiations until it's apparent that both sides are honoring the terms.

The Google Story -- An Excerpt From David A. Vise's Book

The Google Story -- An Excerpt From David A. Vise's Book:

A new book about Google and a sample chapter about Google and genomics. Big players are coming to the Google table. Microsoft is right to be worried.

The BIG question is: AT what point in Google's growth does it become too big, too critical and too powerful so as to require regulation? The analogy with the Bell System monopoly of last century I'm sure rings in their ears. But who would regulate it? Some international group because of its reach and influence?

"One of the most exciting Google projects involves biological and genetic research that could foster important medical and scientific breakthroughs. Through this effort, Google may help accelerate the era of personalized medicine, in which understanding an individual's precise genetic makeup can contribute to the ability of physicians and counselors to tailor health care treatment, rather than dispensing medications or recommending treatments based on statistics or averages. New insights, new medicines, and the use or avoidance of certain foods and pharmaceuticals for people with specific genetic traits are among the possible outcomes."

Wikis allow news, history by committee | CNET

While arguments proliferate that building by a community of an encyclopedia or a news analysis by amateurs lacks the authority of a professionally produced equivalent, the community built product can only become better.

While a fad factor may account for the early burst of enthusiasm, enough people are online and comfortable with the easy tools to create wikis, I believe they have staying power and will get better with age.

Parents Carry Burden of Proof in School Cases, Court Rules - New York Times

As emotionally painful as the whole issue of special education is to the families involved and as costly as it is to the school systems involved with supporting and funding it, I think the court made a correct decision, the burden of proof should be on those bringing lawsuits. That being said, a recalcitrant school official or committee should not easily be freed form offering an adequate plan for a student.

An enormous amount of money is spent on special ed. Defending unnecessary lawsuits should not add to the already high costs.

If Books Are on Google, Who Gains and Who Loses? - New York Times

The debate rages and it is more ideological than practical. This article summarizes the underlying issues succinctly.

"In part, the ideology of liberation evolved out of libertarian and utopian hacker culture (which also gave birth to recreational piracy). An international counterculture developed around the new technologies sometimes spurred by figures who had also been active in the political counterculture of the 1960's and 70's. That spirit led to advances - like the development of 'open source' software in which programmers have contributed their energies to shared projects. It has also led to well-traveled mantras like 'Information Wants to Be Free' and to arguments more focused on restricting those who attempt to control than those who attempt to copy."

Vermont's Political Conundrum

This from today's Dwinell Political Report:


As Governor Douglas pointed out to DPR, in ten years the student population is going to decrease eighteen percent. The Free Press surveyed the towns of Chittenden County. In 1980 sixty-one percent of Jericho’s homes had children at home, in 2000 only forty-six percent did. In Milton fifty-nine percent had children at home in 1980 and in 2000 only forty-two percent. In Winooski children at home fell 35 percent. The numbers in 2005 must be even lower than in 2000, in spite of older children staying at home because of the lack of affordable housing.

Enrollments are declining, precipitously. Yet unbelievably, the number of educators in public schools has increased substantially. Wages have increased, benefit costs too. The State of Vermont has not paid the required pension monies into the Teacher Retirement Fund. A looming train wreck, but who dares take on the education lobby, the third rail of Vermont politics?


According to our sources, Governor Douglas will take on the teachers, head on. The governor has win/lose choice: unsustainable education costs or unsustainable health care. Which one can he win? Health care is a loser for Douglas and the Republicans. Who can be against universal access and lower costs? Right, nobody. That it is unaffordable is irrelevant; the Democrats and their cheerleaders in the media will spin their program as the right thing to do.

On the other hand who can be against a fifteen percent reduction in your property taxes? Right, nobody. But whose ox is gored? Vermont’s overstaffed schools and overpaid teachers. Douglas's strategy puts the Democrats in a quandary. Much of their success and thus effort for the past twenty years since the Democrat legislative era began is to take care of their own, the Vermont NEA's needs at the top of the list.

For Douglas to succeed he must take on the teachers and their union. Will the Democrats protect the teachers or the taxpayers? If the NEA gets its way in South Burlington, the top-tier teachers will earn $81,415 in the last year of their contract. Not bad for 190 days of work in a job with no risk of layoff or defenestration, with full benefits, long holidays, professional development, sick days, personal days, and nice workplace environment.

Douglas is betting that the Democrats will dish the taxpayers and support their ideology, universal health care. Douglas is betting that the public will support him. He is betting that his plan will help recruit and elect legislative Republicans.


The Governor has found that governing without either legislative body in his corner is no fun and not successful. The Republicans in the legislature have found that running for office without a coordinated message with the governor is no fun and not successful.

The Governor is committed to a plan that will become the Republican Plan, not just his plan. He will recruit the candidates. He will coordinate the message. He will deliver the message. He will raise the money. He will ask the overtaxed for support. He is betting that money talks.


The wheels are coming off America's second most happy city, so nominated by Self magazine. The rats are leaving the ship and that includes Mayor Clavelle. No wonder he wanted to be governor. He saw the birds coming home to roost.

Socialist turned progressive turned Democrat (now where have we heard that before) Clavelle admits that maybe Burlington’s pension plan commitment in 2000 was a bit more generous that Burlington could afford. Felt good at the time, but now unsustainable.


For Douglas to succeed he must take on the teachers and their union. Will the Democrats protect the teachers or the taxpayers? If the NEA gets its way in South Burlington, the top-tier teachers will earn $81,415 in the last year of their contract. Not bad for 190 days of work in a job with no risk of layoff or defenestration, with full benefits, long holidays, professional development, sick days, personal days, and nice workplace environment.

Douglas is betting that the Democrats will dish the taxpayers and support their ideology, universal health care. Douglas is betting that the public will support him. He is betting that his plan will help recruit and elect legislative Republicans.


The Governor has found that governing without either legislative body in his corner is no fun and not successful. The Republicans in the legislature have found that running for office without a coordinated message with the governor is no fun and not successful.

The Governor is committed to a plan that will become the Republican Plan, not just his plan. He will recruit the candidates. He will coordinate the message. He will deliver the message. He will raise the money. He will ask the overtaxed for support. He is betting that money talks."

November 14, 2005

Control the Internet? A Futile Pursuit, Some Say - New York Times

The technical experts say 'hands off' the Internet. I agree that international 'control is a recipe for a horrendous mess. With some small glitches, it operates just fine the way it is.

Natural Gas Poses Threat to Economy - New York Times

The imbalance of supply and demand for natural gas is a BIG problem. We better get our act together because there'll be more wailing an gnashing of teeth. Why is it that most of our solutions to energy needs are thwarted by environmentalists. They offer opposition, but no solutions beyond 'use less.'

"Our limited capacity to import liquefied natural gas effectively restricts our access to the world's abundant supplies of natural gas,' Mr. Greenspan said in June 2003. 'If North American natural gas markets are to function with the flexibility exhibited by oil, unlimited access to the vast world reserves of gas is required.'
The United States currently has five terminals for importing natural gas. Regulators have approved the construction of eight more; all but one are planned in coastal areas of Louisiana and Texas that are prone to hurricanes.
Rooted in fears over accidents or terrorist-induced explosions, opposition to terminal projects in other parts of the country raises the possibility that the United States might lose access to natural gas sources to other nations where governments can easily override local objections."

Web savvy seniors embrace blogs - Tech News & Reviews -

Yes, blogging is for seniors. Statistics show minimal usage, but blogging continues to grow. Now, does anyone read them?

"Three percent of online U.S. seniors have created a blog and 17 percent have read someone else's blog, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Compare that to online 18- to 29-year-olds: Thirteen percent have created blogs and 32 percent have read someone else's blog, according to Pew."

Internet Matchmaking: Those Offering Help and Those Needing It - New York Times

Internet Matchmaking: Those Offering Help and Those Needing It - New York Times

One more reason the newspaper advertising revenue will dry up.

More Find Online Encyclopedia Is Handy - New York Times

Wikipedia is good and getting better. Some will argure that it will never be as good as the professionally produced Britannica, but I disagree. Over time it will continue to improve, stay current and be relevant by virtue of how easy it is to edit. I have edited it a bit myself. Nothing major, but it's a fun experience.

November 13, 2005

The Democrats and Judge Alito - New York Times

The Democrats and Judge Alito - New York Times

The battle over the composition of the Supreme Court rages. In this editorial, The Times essentially declares itself against Alito, for the Democrats, against Bush, for the powers of the Judiciary (as long as a liberal bent remains) to accomplish what cannot be done legislatively.

The Alito nomintaion fight will be intense. I hope he has the fortitude to see it through. From all I've read, heard and seen so far, he'd make a good Justice.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Curfew fails to stop French riot

This French 'war' has measurements. Rather than body count, as is typical in a shooting war, here we have burnt auto and arrest numbers to determine progress.

France has a major issue to deal with here which will not go away. Those youths who have been part of the rioting will be seen as heroes by the even younger generation. Sad.

November 12, 2005

Trying to Wean Internet Users From Free - New York Times

I am an online only TimesSelect customer. Paying was a tough decision after receiving the columnists and alerts service free for so long. I seldom use the archives, but it's good to know I can without additional charges.

Peter Drucker, a Pioneer in Social and Management Theory, Is Dead at 95 - New York Times

A great loss of an undisputed leader of management and societal thinking of the Industrial Age. Who will take his place in the Information/Internet Age? Many of his writings and principles are still valid. I remember reading and being deeply impressed by the Age of Social Transformation, a 1994 Atlantic article in which he laid out the revolution underway and the implications to society, workers and management. I thought so much of it, I still have paper copies (grin).

A quote:

"In the knowledge society knowledge for the most part exists only in application. The central work force in the knowledge society will therefore consist of highly specialized people. In fact, it is a mistake to speak of '?generalists.'? What we will increasingly mean by that term is people who have learned how to acquire additional specialties rapidly in order to move from one kind of job to another. But '?generalists'? in the sense in which we used to talk of them are coming to be seen as dilettantes rather than educated people. But knowledge workers, whether their knowledge is primitive or advanced, whether there is a little of it or a great deal, will by definition be specialized. Applied knowledge is effective only when it is specialized.
Indeed, the more highly specialized, the more effective it is. That knowledge in the knowledge society has to be highly specialized to be productive implies two new requirements: that knowledge workers work in teams, and that if knowledge workers are not employees, they must at least be affiliated with an organization. With knowledge work growing increasingly effective as it is increasingly specialized, teams become the work unit rather than the individual himself. Only the organization can convert the specialized knowledge of the knowledge worker into performance."

November 11, 2005

Thanks, Veterans, for Your Sacrifices

Here's a letter to the editor in today's Burlington Free Press from a Vermont soldier in Iraq.

On Veterans Day
A letter home

Dear Mom & Dad,

I haven't told anyone back home much about the danger we face here, because I don't want folks needlessly worrying about us. However, I have been hearing and reading reports of the protests and anti-war campaigns that are on going. While I fully support their freedom to openly disagree with the President's strategy, I am concerned that they don't realize that our battlefield here could change to a battlefield inside the boundaries of the U.S. if we don't continue this conflict. The resources of the insurgency are great. Their funding and munitions supplies are plentiful. The advantage we have over them is they can't move large numbers of men around without our security nets picking up on it. This same issue, if it were to happen in the U.S., would be worsened. ...

The financial cost, as well the cost of lives lost, would be much higher if we were to fight this in our homeland. At this point I am getting a little tired of people saying they support the troops, but don't support the war. ...In order for us to be successful, people need to understand, they must understand, that unless we knock the legs out from under these bastards here, we are going to begin living the same life style of the citizens of Iraq.

Iraqis constantly fear reprisal from the insurgents. They can't openly speak of their dislike of the insurgency without fear of being killed. They can't travel their own highways without staring down the gun tube of a tank or some other form of weapon system. They never know when a gunfight may erupt right outside their door. Every facet of their life is built around time tables handed down by our military, i.e. curfews. These rules we lay down are as much for their protection as it is for ours. How would the citizens of our country like to live like that?

Losing loved ones far outweighs the financial cost of this war. We have all been affected by loss of life here. It is imperative that we finish this battle, so that not only will we be able to come home, but so that the Iraqi people will have a stable enough government and society that they can manage their own affairs. As well, so that our way of life can continue at home. The killers we face are the most vile forms of life that exist today. They kill without regard for anything. They send their own relatives out in vehicles laden with explosives to kill not only soldiers, but innocent civilians, as well. Then they celebrate their relative's death as a victory. It is a twisted mentality, and not one I spend any time trying to understand.

All I know is that this fight will never end without our country staying the course of freedom for all. We can't close our borders and we can't close our eyes, hoping it won't affect our society and our way of life. It already has, and it will continue to do so, if we don't stop the bastards here.


All the news that's fit to blog | Perspectives | CNET

All the news that's fit to blog | Perspectives | CNET

It's true and inevitable that the readership and paid subscribers to print media will continue declining. The real coffin nails in the demise of Big Media, though, are the gradual loss of advertising revenue and increasing costs of printing and distribution. They cannot sustain their infrastructure amid these cost and revenue pressures. Recall that the NY Times recently announced hundreds of layoffs. They must reinvent themselves or risk further decline, particularly as they face the threat of the Google/Yahoo/Microsoft online ad machine. Mainstream media had best re-read the cluetrain manifesto.

Nevertheless, in a democracy, we all stand to lose if the big ($)bucks needed for newsgathering and reporting by Big Media dry up without being replaced by other worldwide, trusted sources. Except in a few circumstances, bloggers are not news gatherers. They are overwhelmingly amateur commentators and analysts. We continue to need competent, professional news gatherers.

"Markoff and Swisher are smart cookies who are clued into the technology business. But there's a shift under way in which authority is being transferred to authors with no accountability other than to themselves and their readership. Does it matter? Should it matter? The mainstream media can look down its nose at the blogosphere, but the numbers tell a different story. More people than ever are reading blogs because of shared affinities and it's coming at the expense of print newspapers."

The Doc Searls Weblog : Wednesday, November 9, 2005

The Doc Searls Weblog : Wednesday, November 9, 2005:

An interesting insight into Doc Searls' (one of the authors of the cluetrain manifesto) spiritual journey.

"About ten years ago I took a few days off to chill in silence at the New Camaldoli Monastery in Big Sur. One of the values the White Monks of the monastery share with Quakers in Sunday meeting is confinement of speech to that which 'improves on the silence'. (Or, in the case of the monks, fails to insult the contemplative virtues of silence.) It was there that I had an amazing conversation with Father John Powell, who told me that any strictly literalist interpretation of Christ's teachings 'insulted the mystery' toward which those teachings pointed � and which it was the purpose of contemplative living to explore. 'Christ spoke in paradox', he said. Also metaphor, which itself is thick with paradox. Jesus knew, Father Powell said, that we understand one thing best in terms of another which (paradoxically) is literally different yet meaningfully similar."

the cluetrain manifesto

the cluetrain manifesto

I hadn't read the cluetrain manifesto in a few years. Intriguing to re-read it and think about the companies and products that have been formed since... like Google, Flickr, and a host of others building upon the power of the internet and communities forming, reforming, twisting and turning within it.

Thou Shalt Not Destroy the Center - New York Times

Friedman is frustrated. I am, too. When will we have the will as a people to remedy the terrible fiscal problems ahead of us? I'm afraid crisis is the only word we understand. Shameful that we won't elect enough people to 'do the right thing.'

"Well, you get the point. At a time when we are busy lecturing others about the need to adopt democratic systems, ours and many others seem to be hopelessly gridlocked - with neither the left nor the right able to generate a mandate to tackle hard problems. And it is the yawning gap between the huge problems our country faces today - Social Security reform, health care, education, climate change, energy - and the tiny, fragile mandates that our democracy seems able to generate to address these problems that is really worrying."

Gangsta, in French - New York Times

Brooks nails it again. what exasperates me and I would guess many people is why white teens in this country emulate this culture.

"In other words, what we are seeing in France will be familiar to anyone who watched gangsta culture rise in this country. You take a population of young men who are oppressed by racism and who face limited opportunities, and you present them with a culture that encourages them to become exactly the sort of people the bigots think they are - and you call this proud self-assertion and empowerment. You take men who are already suspected by the police because of their color, and you romanticize and encourage criminality so they will be really despised and mistreated. You tell them to defy oppression by embracing self-destruction."

Senate Approves Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees - New York Times

I hope the provision passed by the Senate remains and that the house will also pass it. Foreign terrorists and suspects should not access to U.S. courts.

"'It is not fair to our troops fighting in the war on terror to be sued in every court in the land by our enemies based on every possible complaint,' Mr. Graham said. 'We have done nothing today but return to the basics of the law of armed conflict where we are dealing with enemy combatants, not common criminals.'"

November 9, 2005

Attacks at U.S.-Based Hotels in Amman Were Minutes Apart - New York Times

Attacks at U.S.-Based Hotels in Amman Were Minutes Apart - New York Times:

Can anyone deny that these radical Islamic bastards must be eradicated?

"Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher gave the casualty estimate during an interview with CNN, in which he also said a car packed with explosives approached one of the hotels attacked in the heart of the capital. He said there was no claim of responsibility, but Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist group, was a 'prime suspect.'"

France Says It Will Deport Foreigners for Rioting - New York Times

Now the French seem to be slowly understanding that these thugs, whatever their condition, do not deserve to live in their country, socialist as it may be, that functions under the rule of law.

"PARIS, Nov. 9 - France began implementing emergency curfews in trouble spots across the country today and stepped up its crackdown on urban violence, announcing that all foreigners convicted in the rioting would be summarily deported"

Internet Services Crucial, Microsoft Memos Say - New York Times

Internet Services Crucial, Microsoft Memos Say - New York Times

Fascinating to observe the media and industry obsession with Microsoft and whether Billy G and his team have the capacity to turn their battleship in the direction of Web 2.0. Maybe the recent uptick in the stock price signals what real people think.

Ballmer has been signaling that their product pipeline is as full as it's ever been. Let's hope the products are as good as the prediction.

November 8, 2005

A Doctor for the Future - New York Times

A sensitive, if long, piece from the Sunday Times describing a doctor's commitment to the Amish and Mennonite people in Lancaster Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Dr. Morton and his team are deeply involved in the genetic mutations that cause various diseases and syndromes of the closely inter-married 'Plain People.' Morton is both a researcher and a practitioner who understands and sets a standard for the practice genomic medicine.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Australia foils 'terror attack'

Good work, Aussies!! These folks are strong allies in the war on terror. I'm pleased they had the guts to pass the law they needed to get these terrorists.

"Police raided 23 houses in Sydney and Melbourne early on Tuesday, as part of the country's largest counter-terrorism operation.

"The raids involved about 500 police officers and followed a 16-month investigation, officials said.

"I'm satisfied that we have disrupted what I would regard as the final stages of a large-scale terrorist attack, or the launch of a terrorist attack," Mr Moroney told Australia's ABC radio."

Earlier in November, they had received good intelligence.

November 7, 2005

World's next fuel source could be designer organisms | Tech News on ZDNet

Let's hope this line of research produces a cheaper alternative to some of our energy needs.

World's next fuel source could be designer organisms | Tech News on ZDNet: "'Rapid advances in high throughput DNA sequencing and synthesis, as well as high performance computing and bioinformatics, now enable us to synthesize novel photosynthetic and metabolic pathways,' Venter said in a statement earlier this year. 'We are in an era of rapid advances in science and are beginning the transition from being able to not only read genetic code, but are now moving to the early stages of being able to write code.'"

Court Choice Is Conservative by Nature, Not Ideology - New York Times

Court Choice Is Conservative by Nature, Not Ideology - New York Times

This piece suggests that judge Alito is the kind of person we need on the Court. I note that Senator Biden on the Senate Judiciary committee said that he thinks no filibuster is in store for this nomination. However, another ultra-liberal, Sen. Durbin was less certain

Nevertheless, the left will oppose Alito, if only because the right is so enamored of him.

Time Magazine has this to say:

"Federal Appeals Court Judge Samuel Alito Jr., 55. The Princeton and Yale Law--educated career public servant may have the most solid conservative judicial record of any Supreme Court nominee since Bork. It's more than enough to satisfy most Republicans looking for as close to a sure thing as possible on hot-button issues like abortion, the death penalty and the roles of religion and race in American society. But like John Roberts, the Bush Supreme Court nominee who sailed through confirmation hearings in September, the unassuming, affable Alito is far from the partisan flamethrower Democrats were itching to fight over.

The fact that so many in the legal community, on both sides of the political aisle, laud Alito as a serious, fair legal thinker not given to overarching theories or ideological tantrums is bad enough for the Democrats. And his record of protecting freedom of expression doesn't help matters. Also, it's pretty hard to demonize a man who regularly donned a uniform when coaching Little League and once spent a week of vacation at the Philadelphia Phillies fantasy baseball camp. The White House, says Democratic strategist Joel Johnson, "has accomplished the task of getting beyond the base problem in a way that has not completely lit the opposition on fire." A disappointed Democrat summed up the problem this way: "He's a nice guy, and he doesn't drool."

That doesn't mean some sort of battle won't be waged, especially now that both sides have two months before Alito's confirmation hearings begin in early January. On the contrary. Far from a stealth candidate like Miers, who only a month ago was being praised by Bush for not being from the "judicial monastery," Alito has "more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years," as the President noted. Alito's voluminous record, including some 300 opinions, offers a wealth of material for both sides to pick over. Within days of his nomination, his dissent argument for upholding a Pennsylvania law requiring a woman to notify her husband before having an abortion and his opinion supporting a city hall religious-holiday display had become some of the reasons to set up the barricades."

10 Officers Shot as Riots Worsen in French Cities - New York Times

10 Officers Shot as Riots Worsen in French Cities - New York Times

The French riots have now become a serious threat to civil order and the government's response must be to crack down on the violence now that it involves shooting and injuring of police and firefighters. We have here a precursor to a growing problem in Europe as immigration without assimilation creates conditions of poverty, unrest, discrimination and now wanton destruction of private and public property.

Chirac has a real problem on his hands. With this unassimilated Muslim underclass, his country is threatened by internal terror.

Here's what Time Magazine has to say:

"Muslim and Arab newcomers arrive, they are officially French and do not need special treatment to guarantee their equality. While in theory the children of immigrants have the same rights as their white counterparts, many suffer persistent discrimination when it comes to jobs, decent housing and upward mobility. They have virtually no political leaders--just one current Cabinet minister is Algerian-born--to carry their interests into the halls of power. Many of France's estimated 5 million Muslims feel the country has promised more than it has delivered. Not surprisingly, despair and anger run deep.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité are ideals that France has nurtured over the centuries. But they were in little evidence last week around Paris. Changing that will require the French to confront the widening disparities between those in the banlieues (suburbs where the Mulims live) and the rest of the country. Until then, the rage and resentment inflaming the streets will surely continue to smolder."

November 6, 2005

Usher Mobile Blog: BOTC Rally - Carol & Jesse

Usher Mobile Blog: BOTC Rally - Carol & Jesse

Experimenting with cell phone camera posting to a mobile blog

The New York Times > Business > Image > Paradigm Shift?

The New York Times > Business > Image > Paradigm Shift?

(Click on headline to see graphic)

No surprise that oil prices have increased over time. Demand is always running a bit ahead of supply. The industry's exploration budgets tend to be dependent on the short range price of oil and the cost of extraction and distribution.

Today's Energy Stocks May Well Be Tomorrow's - New York Times

An interesting analysis of the energy industry through an investment lens. I agree that long term, large global energy companies will continue to do well in the investment mix.

"Shareholders may wish to take their profits before the prices erode further, but many investment advisers make a persuasive case for holding firm. In this view, cyclical ups and downs will continue, but they are mere blips that do not fundamentally alter a very long-term upward trend in prices for energy commodities and stocks.

Demand for energy keeps rising while new sources of supply grow scarcer, a reality that is unlikely to change, some fund managers and market strategists say. Fossil fuels will eventually become too expensive for everyday use, but there will be good money to be made from producing whatever power source comes next, they predict. And many of the producers, they say, will be the same companies pumping oil today. The energy industry's knack for playing a long game, plotting strategy based on assumptions of economic, political and technological developments many decades ahead, makes energy stocks worth holding onto, the investment advisers say."

November 5, 2005

The Forgotten of Africa, Rotting Without Trial in Vile Jails - New York Times.

One more indicator of the failed African states, a frightful morass that will take generations to remedy. So sad, but no amount of money will fix this because we are seeing the results of cultures having no basis in morality or the rule of law. Instead, we have tribal and ethnic forces at work combined with rampant corruption that will not succumb easily to what we in the West consider rational. Even the power of the best education system they might create is limited in the face of the enormous forces of darkness.

Click here for a good summary of the issues faced by sub-Saharan Africa.

CBS News | New Turbine Design May Boost Wind Energy

CBS News | New Turbine Design May Boost Wind Energy

With this innovation possibly on the horizon, Vermont would do well to postpone any ridgeline wind energy development.

November 4, 2005

BBC NEWS | UK | Trio charged with terror offences

Good work by Scotland Yard.

Want 'War and Peace' Online? How About 20 Pages at a Time? - New York Times

Some successful business model will emerge that includes micropayments. When consumers want part of a book, the type of book will determine whether print or download capability will be needed. I think printing and downloading would be needed for such things as cookbook recipes or technical how-to reference books. Some textbooks can be purchased a chapter at a time now. Other books, particularly novels, won't lend themselves as easily to micropayments. Poetry or collections of essays would be a natural for one-at-time purchase.

November 3, 2005

Governors' Paths Diverge After Katrina - Yahoo! News

Governors' Paths Diverge After Katrina - Yahoo! News

This piece describes the difference between a leader (Barbour) and a politician (Blanco) with little leadership to offer. Blanco and Mayor of New Orleans, Nagin, are not what Louisiana and New Orleans need in this time of crisis.

Western Values Must Be Preserved Against Terror

Today, I came across my response to an Australian in 2003 who was opining that America's war on terror was ill-conceived and that Bush had made serious in invading Iraq.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are the tenets of America's Declaration of Independence. However, I submit that people in today's Western culture, including Australia, America's strong ally, now subscribe to what was then a radical notion that spawned a war(and the French were on America's side). If we can agree we have these shared values, we can certainly disagree on the means to preserve them.

However, millions do not share these values, particularly extreme Islamists, who instead are driven by a radical theocratic worldview that believes America, and by implication the Western world, must be brought to defeat by any means possible.

While we can disagree on the means to preserve our shared values, if we truly believe that they undergird our cultures, we should be able to keep ourselves from each others' throats.
Many of us who have served in the military or traveled extensively realize that the democratic values we share are not self-sustaining. They require vigilance, action, patience, strength, perseverance and, yes, even war.

We cannot change the world of fanatics to our views by reasoning and dialogue alone. In fact, it's foolish to think the world will see things our way. The differences in history, culture and religion are much too stark, not to mention the evil that lurks in the hearts of ALL men (and women).

Nevertheless, when our values are threatened as they surely are now, we must act to preserve them. This is not a political argument, it is a cultural and societal imperative in the face of terrorism by those who would destroy us.

Democrats defeat election-law aid for bloggers | CNET

Honest bloggers should have the right to political speech on the Internet without entanglements from Federal Election laws or regulations. This is a complex issue, but political speech in the form of dollars or words is a right guaranteed in the First Amendment, IMHO.

The Harry da Reid Code - New York Times

Hilarious! Brooks masterfully exposes the Democratic charade that accuses Bush of lying about the WMDs in Iraq. Read and Senator Reid.

November 2, 2005

Detainee Policy Sharply Divides Bush Officials - New York Times

The treatment and interrogation of suspected terrorists who have been captured is a fascinating look into the values that underlie the policies of the Bush administration and the opponents. My take on this is that we are fighting an unconventional war on terror and the methods used have no basis in the Geneva Conventions enacted in a former time under conditions that prisoners were from a city-state and warfare had more humane rules.

Terrorist do not operate under any rules or conventions. They intend to destroy our society and our country using any means. While I respect Senator McCain and his legacy as a Vietnam prisoner of war, I side with the present Bush policy.

"Advocates of that approach, who include some Defense and State Department officials and senior military lawyers, contend that moving the military's detention policies closer to international law would prevent further abuses and build support overseas for the fight against Islamic extremists, officials said.

Their opponents, who include aides to Vice President Dick Cheney and some senior Pentagon officials, have argued strongly that the proposed language is vague, would tie the government's hands in combating terrorists and still would not satisfy America's critics, officials said."

BBC NEWS | Africa | E Africa army build-up alarms UN

Wake me up in 50 years and I'll be pleased to comment on the African disaster. Nearly everywhere you look you see chaos in the form of famine, despots, ethnic cleansing, AIDS and other diseases, corruption, drought, war and you name it, they've got it...BAD.

Some find it easy to blame the colonial legacy for the problems. Perhaps this is a contributor, but foremost I see a failed sense of values and tribal politics combined with those common human sins of greed, vengeance and exploitation.

Microsoft Introduces Web Services, Competing With Google and Yahoo - New York Times

Microsoft will soon be offering serious competition to Yahoo! and Google for web services. Evolution of the Web made possible by 'always on' broadband services, particularly ubiquitous wireless access, will create a true digital lifestyle for many consumers and small businesses.

"At Tuesday's event, which was marred by several technical glitches, Microsoft announced the immediate availability of a test version of its new Internet portal

The company called the service a 'personalized starting point' for a variety of Web services like e-mail, instant messaging, and a new set of Internet-based software called gadgets. These are small Internet-based applications that provide mail, stock prices, weather forecasts and other simple functions.

The company also demonstrated its new Internet mail service, called Windows Live Mail based on an Internet technology known as AJAX, which will be as responsive as a desktop e-mail program. The service will initially be offered in a limited form.

The company demonstrated several new features available as part of a new instant messaging service called Windows Live Messenger, including the ability to make Internet voice calls directly to standard telephone numbers. Internet phone providers like Skype currently offer that service. A Microsoft spokesman said the company planned to offer the service by subscription, not free."

November 1, 2005

Supreme Court rejects cell phone radiation appeal | CNET

These are 'junk' lawsuits based on 'junk' science designed to enrich attorneys. If radiation from headsets is a problem, we'd be seeing the effects by now in tens of thousands of people among the millions heavily using cell phones. The same junk science is used by foes attempting to stop cell service antennas when their real concern is usually aesthetics.

Bush Nominates Alito for Supreme Court Seat - New York Times

The battle begins. Can filibuster be far behind? This nominee will trigger a knock down drag out fight in the Senate.