February 27, 2006

Europeans Plan Partial Bailout of Palestinians - New York Times

Europeans Plan Partial Bailout of Palestinians - New York Times:

Funding terrorists is crazy. This business of 'they haven't formed a government yet, so Hamas is not yet in power' is only a ploy to buy time.

Later in this article it states that the Palestinian Authority has 135, 000 people on its payroll, about 7% of the population ...a population in which 43% are under 14 years of age.

Is there no industry or private gainful employment in The West Bank and Gaza? The unemployment rate is near 20%.

"The acting Palestinian finance minister, Jihad al-Wazir, said there was an immediate need for '$60-80 million next week to begin to pay wages,' Mr. Wolfensohn wrote in the letter to Quartet foreign ministers, warning of 'wide-ranging consequences' for 'security and stability for both the Palestininians and the Israelis.'"

Supreme Court Set to Weigh Central Election-Law Issues - New York Times

Supreme Court Set to Weigh Central Election-Law Issues - New York Times:

I believe the Constitution's right to free speech, especially in political campaigns, trumps any artificial limits on campaign spending. Vermont's law should be overturned.
"The Vermont campaign finance case, Randall v. Sorrell, No. 04-1528, tests the court's current understanding of its watershed ruling 30 years ago in Buckley v. Valeo, which upheld limits on political contributions but determined that campaign spending was a form of political speech that the First Amendment did not permit the government to curtail."

February 26, 2006

As Canada's Slow-Motion Public Health System Falters, Private Medical Care Is Surging - New York Times

As Canada's Slow-Motion Public Health System Falters, Private Medical Care Is Surging - New York Times

I hope Bernie Sanders, and other single payer advocates in Vermont are paying close attention to the Canadian experience. This story says their system is failing. A shortage of doctors now in that public system will rapidly increase as private clinics and hospitals proliferate or Canadians continue to come south for U.S. medical care.

Meanwhile in the U.S., as we inch closer to a publicly financed system as more people enter Medicare, we need to be careful that we don't wind up n the same dilemma with a shortage of doctors and long waits for treatment.

February 25, 2006

Human Nature Laid Bare in Civil War

As reports from Iraq suggest that the country may be near the brink of civil war, I happened to read this account by Thucydides of another civil war 2500 years ago (427 BCE) on the island of Corcyra off the western coast of Greece.

In civil war with no law to restrain people, these kinds of results are inevitable. Everything possible must be done by the rational Iraqi leaders to prevent this from happening.

"At this point the Corcyrean democrats began to kill as many people in the opposing faction as possible. They then convinced fifty oligarchic supporters to be in a trial but were then sentenced to death. Others began to kill themselves in the temple, by hanging themselves and any way they could find. The Corcyreans went on killing people, some for reasons that had nothing to do with the war, such as private hatred, and for being in debt to others. Fathers killed their sons and people were dragged out of the temple to be killed and others died inside. Greece was in total upheaval, there were fights everywhere. The minds of these people at war are given violent impulses, unlike those at peace and prosperity, who don't have to do anything against their will. The people who hadn't been struck by the war, heard the stories of the earlier attacks and did even worse attacks and exceeded those before. It was like a competition and the war was getting worse.

The morals and characteristics begin to be reversed. Being bold in a dumb way was seen as loyal manliness and hesitating was seen as being a coward. Men were praised for committing an evil action before anyone else could.
Political ties became tighter than family ties and taking revenge was of higher value than never receiving injury. Piety was forgotten simplicity was laughed down and forgotten. The weakest minds had the greatest success and the more intelligent, who went unprotected were easily killed.

Most of the violence was first committed in Corcyra, such as the acts of revenge and the actions people took to escape poverty. Some attacked neighbors for their wealth, but others attacked the wealthy because of their desire for equality. Since life was pure confusion in the city, human nature took over the law. People wanted revenge on others so they destroyed the law first; although the law would be the only way anyone could be saved.

Corcyreans expressed their anger on their fellow citizens before anyone else. Eurymedon and the Athenians went back in their ships.Then refugees from Corcyra took control of Corcyrean territory opposite the island. They used this island as a base for ransacking Corcyra. They caused severe damage and a famine in the city. Meanwhile they sent ambassadors to Lacedaemon and Corinth to ask for help. They did not respond, so the refugees got boats and hired mercenary soldiers. 600 soldiers crossed into the island. When they got there they went to the highest peak (Mt. Istone) and built a fort. Then they were able to prey on the people and take over the land.

b. The end of the Corcyrean insurgents

(425) Eurymedon went back to Corcyra and attacked the fort. Oligarchs who were there surrendered only if they could be tried by the people of Athens. The Athenians said that the oligarchs had to be temporarily imprisoned on the island and were forbidden to try to escape.

The Corcyrean democrats did not want the Athenians to pardon the oligarchs, so they tricked some oligarchs by tempting them to escape. The Athenians caught them and thought the treaty had been broken. Therefore the captives were turned over to the Corcyreans.

When the Corcyreans took over the prisoners they were very violent. They beat, stabbed and whipped the prisoners. They also took some men from the building where they were at and killed them. When the other prisoners found out they refused to leave the building. The Corcyreans forced their way into the building and violence erupted. Many of the inmates killed themselves and this violence went on almost the entire night. They either killed themselves or were hit by roof tiles from above. In the morning, the Corcyreans threw the bodies on wagons and carried them out of the city. The women captured became slaves.

That was how the mountain occupants were destroyed by the democrats. The civil war also came to an end since there wasn’t anything left of the oligarchs."

Suicide Bombers Fail to Enter Saudi Oil Plant - New York Times

Suicide Bombers Fail to Enter Saudi Oil Plant - New York Times

Good work by the Saudis in providing effective security measures and aggressive action to foil the Al Qaeda attack on this oil processing facility.

Taking Spying to Higher Level, Agencies Look for More Ways to Mine Data - New York Times

Taking Spying to Higher Level, Agencies Look for More Ways to Mine Data - New York Times

Data mining is seen as a bad thing by the paranoid and those with highly principled views that may ignore the reality of our world. In an evil world with terrorists trying to do us harm and criminals breaking the law powerful data mining tools should be available to government and law enforcement to do their job.

Of course, the fear is that these tools will be misused by unscrupulous characters for personal gain. Other fears arise because the tools are not yet perfect, and someone could be wrongly tagged as an evildoer.

All this controversy swirls around one key factor: do you trust your government to 'do no evil.' The Constitution protects against unreasonable search and seizure, but in an evil world of terrorists and crooks, what is unreasonable? This is not at all like someone breaking into your house in the dead of night searching for people or things.

I am perfectly comfortable as a law abiding person to have my email and phone records part of a database that is regularly mined by my federal government, as long as I can reasonably trust that government.

February 24, 2006

Osama, Saddam and the Ports - New York Times

Osama, Saddam and the Ports - New York Times:
Krugman, my second least favorite NY Times columnist after Dowd, while agreeing with Bush on the ports sale, nevertheless continues bashing him with every ounce of ink he can muster. It's no wonder the Times continues its downhill readership and financial slide with so blantly blind hatred.

"Mr. Bush shouldn't really be losing his credibility as a terrorism fighter over the ports deal, which, after careful examination (which hasn't happened yet), may turn out to be O.K. Instead, Mr. Bush should have lost his credibility long ago over his diversion of U.S. resources away from the pursuit of Al Qaeda and into an unnecessary war in Iraq, his bungling of that war, and his adoption of a wrongful imprisonment and torture policy that has blackened America's reputation."

Violent Cycle of Revenge Stuns Iraqis - New York Times

Violent Cycle of Revenge Stuns Iraqis - New York Times

I wonder what restrains the Shia, who rule Iran, from entering the fray?

War of the Worlds - New York Times

War of the Worlds - New York Times:

Friedman is right on the ports issue as are most folks who think this through. The frenzy about the ownership of the companies that manage the ports is misguided and not a security threat.

I have little tolerance for the politicians who have decided to use this sale for purely political ends claiming a bogus national security threat.

Friedman describes the bigger threat in this commentary of the violence and hatred that is building in the world between the West and Islam, fueled and exploited by terrorists who pursue a world Caliphate.
"But while I have zero sympathy for the political mess in which the president now finds himself, I will not join this feeding frenzy. On the pure merits of this case, the president is right. The port deal should go ahead. Congress should focus on the N.S.A. wiretapping. Not this.

As a country, we must not go down this road of global ethnic profiling Ã?— looking for Arabs under our beds the way we once looked for commies. If we do Ã?— if America, the world's beacon of pluralism and tolerance, goes down that road Ã?— we will take the rest of the world with us. We will sow the wind and we will reap the whirlwind.

If there were a real security issue here, I'd join the critics. But the security argument is bogus and, I would add, borderline racist. Many U.S. ports are run today by foreign companies, but the U.S. Coast Guard still controls all aspects of port security, entry and exits; the U.S. Customs Service is still in charge of inspecting the containers; and U.S. longshoremen still handle the cargos."

February 23, 2006

Blast at Shiite Shrine Sets Off Sectarian Fury in Iraq - New York Times

Blast at Shiite Shrine Sets Off Sectarian Fury in Iraq - New York Times

Good reporting here with significant background material that tries to illuminate the religious and historical context of this mess.

There's no way that American forces can control this sort of religious and sectarian anger and violence. If mosque guards are asleep in a the back room of a mosque they are assigned to protect and the Iraqi army refrains from stopping the violence, as reported in this piece, what hope can be found? If these people cannot establish law and order for themselves, we cannot do it for them. We cannot change the culture of violence religion-based violence.

The West simply does not understand the depth of religious animosity that has developed over the centuries between Shia and Sunni. I had commented on this in this blog at the time of the invasion.

Have we bit off more than we can chew? If so, we must rethink our strategy. America cannot police terrorist inspired havoc of this magnitude.

Why Doctors So Often Get It Wrong - New York Times

Why Doctors So Often Get It Wrong - New York Times:

This is an astounding statistic! But I shouldn't be surprised because we live in an "80/20" world.

"With all the tools available to modern medicine — the blood tests and M.R.I.'s and endoscopes — you might think that misdiagnosis has become a rare thing. But you would be wrong. Studies of autopsies have shown that doctors seriously misdiagnose fatal illnesses about 20 percent of the time. So millions of patients are being treated for the wrong disease.

As shocking as that is, the more astonishing fact may be that the rate has not really changed since the 1930's. 'No improvement!' was how an article in the normally exclamation-free Journal of the American Medical Association summarized the situation.

This is the richest country in the world — one where one-seventh of the economy is devoted to health care — and yet misdiagnosis is killing thousands of Americans every year.

How can this be happening? And how is it not a source of national outrage?

A BIG part of the answer is that all of the other medical progress we have made has distracted us from the misdiagnosis crisis. "

Kicking Arabs in the Teeth - New York Times

Kicking Arabs in the Teeth - New York Times:

Once again, David Brooks nails it. His is a must read piece. One slice of his commentary is below.

The politicians in this country have gone nuts. Some Democrats and Republicans must be blinded by perceived political benefit by rolling out bogus fears and foolish arguments. Bush is taking the right position. The Empire State politicians, in particular, are nutso on this issue!
"But let's be clear: the opposition to the acquisition by Dubai Ports World is completely bogus.

The deal would have no significant effect on port security. Regardless of who operates the ports, the Coast Guard still controls their physical security. The Customs Service still controls container security. The harbor patrols, the port authorities and the harbor police still do their jobs. Nearly every expert who actually knows something about port security says the ownership of the operating companies is the least of our concerns. 'This kind of reaction is totally illogical,' Philip Damas, research director of Drewry Shipping Consultants, told The Times. 'The location of the headquarters of a company in the age of globalism is irrelevant.'"

Wi-Fi to Go: The Hot Spot in a Box - New York Times

Wi-Fi to Go: The Hot Spot in a Box - New York Times

We get closer every day to broadband everywhere.

February 21, 2006

Fathers and Dads

From a pastor friend of mine...

It's Not What You Say, It's What They Hear Dept.:
A Korean mother was talking to her son's kindergarten teacher at the North Avenue Christian School. Sometime that morning, the teacher had explained to her students that only Christians go to Heaven. The five year old heard the word 'Korean' instead of 'Christian'. He then went home and told his mother that dad wasn't going to Heaven because he's not Korean and his teacher said only Koreans go to Heaven. Both mom and the teacher had a good laugh over it.
"Pastor Doug, did you know there's a difference between a dad and a father?", an eleven year old girl asked me. "A dad is someone who's there for you, you can depend on him. But a father is someone who's hardly ever there and is really no fun to be with."
I knew the girl who was talking to me. Her biological father had been a very angry and abusive person. Mom left him years ago and eventually remarried. Her stepdad loves her and her younger brother as if they were his own. Being a little older and a little bolder now, with a greater understanding of who she is in Christ, this girl had recently confronted her biological father, asking him over the phone why he never comes to see her. His response was to get angry and blame her mother for "poisoning her mind against him". She didn't see anything wrong with asking him what she did. I didn't, either.
"Okay," I replied, "But if that's your definition of a father, then what do you do with the fact the Bible says God is our Father?"
"Oh," she said without hesitation, "He's a dad, not a father."
Yes, there's a 'father ' side to God. He can be very staid and serious, a righteous judge who doesn't fool around with evil. Definitely not 'fun'. But aren't you glad He's also a 'dad'; merciful, caring, faithful to His kids no matter what? May we have the wisdom to know how to present both to a world which desperately needs to hear both.
Light on,

February 19, 2006

The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005 (web2.wsj2.com)

The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005 (web2.wsj2.com)

A site worth watching to stay abreast of the latest in 'Web 2.0' apps. I have found Writely and CalendarHub worthwhile and use both often. I'm sure other apps are out there, too, but how can a mortal keep up with all of them?

Blargon - New York Times

Blargon - New York Times

William Safire takes up the jargon of blogging.

February 18, 2006

Hamas and Abbas Clash Over Path for Palestinians - New York Times

Hamas and Abbas Clash Over Path for Palestinians - New York Times:

Abbas is saying all the right words, but will he live long enough for Hamas to be willing to listen? They are certainly not listening now.

How Hamas will fund itself when the U.S., the E.U. and Israel stop providing money will be interesting to watch. And will Hamas permit and enable other terrorist groups like Al Qaida to set up shop in Palestine?

"Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman and legislator, said negotiations with Israel 'are not on our agenda.' Like many Hamas leaders, Mr. Haniya and Mr. Masri consider the Oslo accords a dead letter and often cite Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel as having said the same thing.
Still, on Saturday, Mr. Haniya, like Mr. Abbas, promised to deal with their differences 'through dialogue and understanding, to preserve the national unity of the Palestinian people and promote their higher interests.'
In warning the legislators not to reinvent the wheel of Israeli-Palestinian relations, Mr. Abbas seemed intent on showing a strong hand: in effect, reminding the group that even though it had won 74 of 132 parliamentary seats, he remains in the top Palestinian post and still has a range of powers, including his role as commander in chief of Palestinian security forces.
That message was underscored later Saturday by a statement from his spokesman, Saeb Erekat, who said that if Hamas did not cooperate, Mr. Abbas would consider replacing the group's chosen prime minister or, in the event of complete stalemate, even calling new elections."

CNN.com - Chavez threatens to cut off oil to U.S. - Feb 18, 2006

CNN.com - Chavez threatens to cut off oil to U.S. - Feb 18, 2006:

This nutcake's threats will surely send up the price of oil and gas futures, along with yesterday's rebel threat to drive foreign oil companies out of Nigeria. And our own Congressman Bernie Sanders is doing business with Chavez! A travesty.

"'The government of the United States should know that if they go
over the line, they are not going to have Venezuelan oil,' Chavez said.
'I have already taken measures regarding this. I'm not going to say what because
they think that I can't take these measures because we would not have any place
to send the oil,' Chavez said.
Chavez has threatened to halt oil exports to U.S. ports before, but Friday was the first time the former paratroop commander mentioned having made contacts with other crude buyers as part of a contingency plan."

That Which We Call a Blog... - New York Times

That Which We Call a Blog... - New York Times:

Some thoughts on blogs and MSM from Mitchell at the NY Times.

"But it isn't the data or the rankings that matter most here. More interesting is that it's becoming hard to tell what is a blog and what is mainstream media.
Mr. Sifry calls Boingboing a blog — and so it is. But it also does some original reporting, and has professional journalists on its staff. And oddly, Mr. Sifry calls Slashdot (slashdot.com), a technology site with material created mostly by users, a mainstream site.
Meanwhile, more and more mainstream media sites are blogging. In the end, users are most likely drawn to sites for the quality and trustworthiness of the material presented. "

February 17, 2006

Man in Line of Fire Expresses Sorrow for Cheney's Troubles - New York Times

Man in Line of Fire Expresses Sorrow for Cheney's Troubles - New York Times

Seems to be a fairly reported piece which should put an end to the foolish, ridiculous frenzy the media has created over this accident. One more stike against the relevance of mainstream print and electronic journalism when they go off the reservation as they have in this case, in my opinion.

Spreadsheet whiz tackles wikis | Tech News on ZDNet

Spreadsheet whiz tackles wikis Tech News on ZDNet

This is an important development. As more applications move to the Web and as broadband penetration increases, Sun Microsystems' long standing slogan "the network is the computer" moves closer to reality.

2007 Microsoft Office System Packaging

2007 Microsoft Office System Packaging

Microsoft's Office 2007 component packaging. And here's the pricing.

Aspen Communications Offers City Wide WiMAX Infrastructure in Dallas and Fort Worth — WIMAX

Aspen Communications Offers City Wide WiMAX Infrastructure in Dallas and Fort Worth — WIMAX

WiMax is finally happening in the U.S. In 5 years if incorporated into automobiles, your car becomes a rally fast Hot Spot.

February 16, 2006

PressThink: Dick Cheney Did Not Make a Mistake By Not Telling the Press He Shot a Guy

PressThink: Dick Cheney Did Not Make a Mistake By Not Telling the Press He Shot a Guy

Read this. Read this post from PressThink. It is fascinating, particularly the lo-o-o-ng question in an interview with a senior person at the Washington Post that never was released or published. The journalism community is finally waking up to the fact that they do not control 'the news,' nor should they.

"You wrote a book about Clinton, and you have covered junior Bush, and so you
are more than qualified to dispute my thesis in this next question, which is a
little long (but then this is PressThink.)I think the Bush years have been a
disaster for the Washington press. In my view, the White House withdrew from a
consensus understanding of how the executive branch had to deal with
journalists. It correctly guessed that if it changed the game on you, you
wouldn’t develop a new game of your own, or be able to react. I believe this
strategy is still working, too.
The old understanding, which lasted from Kennedy to Gore, was that the
White House has a right to get its message out, and the press has a right to
probe and question, and so there will always be tensions in the relationship.
There will always be spin. There will always be stonewalling. There will
always be attempts to manipulate the press.
Likewise, there will always be pack journalism. The press will always
exploit internal conflict and make juicy stories from it. Because of its
appetite for anything it regards as the “inside” story, the press will always be
vulnerable to manipulation by leak. It will always seize on miscues and call
them missteps.
But despite all this, and the struggles and complaints, the
parties would end up cooperating most of the time because presidents “need to
get their message out” (that was the phrase) and communicate with the country,
while journalists need stories, pictures, quotes, drama— news from the power
center of the world.
And so a rough balance of power existed during that
era; people could even imagine that the press had a semi-permanent or
quasi-official “place” in the political order. It was known that White Houses
tried to manage the news, which was part of governing. It was also known that
there were limits on its ability to do so.
But where, John, is it written that these limits will always be observed?
What prevents a new understanding from coming into power in the White
House, one that withdraws from the earlier consensus? In fact, there
is nothing to prevent it; and I would argue that the Bush forces have
done exactly that. They sensed that the old press system was
weakened and they changed the game on you. They knew you wouldn’t react because
to do so would look “too political.”
Other White Houses had a “line of the day” they wanted to push. None had a spokesman like Scott McClellan who, no matter what the question, will mindlessly repeat the line of the day as a way of
showing journalists that they have no rights to an answer. That isn’t “spin,”
although it may superficially look like spin. That’s shutting down the podium
and emptying out the briefing room without saying you’re doing it.
Williams isn’t business-as-usual, it’s changing the game. Not meet the press— be
the press
! But at least the contract that paid Williams $240,000 was
undisclosed. Look at the disclosed picture: The Bush team has openly said they don’t
in the fourth estate role for the press. They have openly said: big
journalism is a special interest. Bush has openly denied that journalists
represent Americans’ interest in anything, including the public’s right to know.
Bush is openly hostile to questions that aren’t from friendlies.
Dick Cheney
will look into the eyes of a journalist on television and deny
what he’s on tape saying! And when the first tape is played on the
air, then the second, it doesn’t prompt any revision from his office. That too
suggests a new game, in which flagrant factual contradiction is not a problem,
but itself a form of cultural politics. Different game. On top of that, the
Republican party gains political traction and excites its base through the act
of discrediting journalists as the liberal media. I don’t recall the Democratic
Party developing any coalition like that. The liberal media charge is part of
the way the GOP operates today— routinely. On top of that secrecy by the
executive branch has reached levels beyond anything you have dealt with in your
Aside from the coverage of weapons of mass destruction, which is
seen to have failed, my sense is that you and your colleagues think you have
handled the challenge of covering this government pretty darn well. (Correct me
if I am wrong.) The game hasn’t changed, you contend. We’re still in a
recognizable, fourth-estate, meet-the-press, rather than beat-the-press
universe. Those—like me—who accuse Bush of taking extraordinary measures to
marginalize, discredit, refute (and pollute) the press are said to be
exaggerating the cravenness of this Adminstration and ignoring the parallels and
precedents in other White Houses, including the Democratic ones.
Actually, I
may have understated the magnitude of the change Bush and company have brought
to your world, because I didn’t connect the pattern we can find in journalism to
the Bush Administration’s treatment of science,
its mistreatment of career professionals and other experts in government, and of
course its use
and misuse
of intelligence. All have to be downgraded, distorted, deterred
because they’re a drag—also called a check—on executive power and the Bush
team’s freedom from fact. To offer one more example, there’s no precedent that
I’m aware of for what’s happened to public information officers
under this Bush. These are the government’s own flaks who have to be brought to
heel by the political people, who want to erode any trace of professionalism.
That’s changing the game; and to say in response, “well, there have always been
flaks, Clinton had flaks, Carter had flaks” is just pointless and dumb.
[You’ve said you believe in a] mainstream press that is detached from the
fight for power, and I would like to believe in that too. I think it’s noble. I
think it’s necessary. How can you have an independent press without that kind of
distance? But power—the executive power under Bush—hasn’t “detached” itself from
the press, John. Not at all. It is actively trying to weaken journalism, so that
it can over-ride what the newspapers say, and act like they don’t exist.
Finally, then, here are my questions for you: Do you ever worry that Bush
might have changed the game on you, and put in practice a different set of
rules? And if you don’t worry about that, why the hell not? And why shouldn’t
you guys—the Post and the press corps at large— change the game on Bush and

» Google to provide email hosting? | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

» Google to provide email hosting? Between the Lines ZDNet.com

Some interesting thoughts by David Berlind about the possibilities presented by Google's offering to host Gmail services to businesses and institutions under that entity's own domain name. With the merge of chat and GoogleTalk with Gmail for individual accounts, Google obviously has something cooking for this email hosting service.

But we should always remember that Google's strategy is to keep its competitors constantly guessing about it's strategy by offering free services, yet always relying on the advertising business model for its revenue stream. How Google will monetize some of its now free services/tools is anybody's guess. Given their resources, they so far have been successful in releasing many new tools and applications without divulging a future business model.

Transcript of Cheney’s Fox interview - Politics - MSNBC.com

Transcript of Cheney's Fox interview - Politics - MSNBC.com:

"Cheney: Well, Scott does a great job and it's a tough job. It's especially a
tough job under these conditions and circumstances. I had a bit of the feeling
that the press corps was upset because, to some extent, it was about them. They didn't like the idea that we called the Corpus Christi Caller-Times instead of
The New York Times. But it strikes me that the Corpus Christi Caller-Times is
just as valid a news outlet as The New York Times is, especially for covering a
major story in south Texas."

Cheney's comments about why he chose to release this story to the press. This is the key point that has the Beltline media upset...they weren't notified first. It once again shows the Washington media for what they are...ravenous, elite, thinking more highly of themselves than they ought.' Cheney did the right thing, whether the media agree or not. By providing his interview to Fox News exclusively, he basically tells the MSM, 'I don't trust you to properly report this story.' He's right. They are out for his hide because they don't like him.

And, true to form, David Brooks hits the nail on the head:

Meanwhile we in the regular media have our own stereotypes to guide us. We are assigned by the Fates to turn every bad thing into Watergate, to fill the air with dark lamentations about cover-ups and appearances of impropriety and the arrogance of power. We have to follow the money. (So was born the stories of the potentially missing $7 hunting license.) We are impelled to elevate horse race over substance and write tales in which the quality of the message management takes precedence over the importance or unimportance of what's being

Then, rushing to the footlights, come the politicians, with their
alchemist's ability to turn reality into spin. It would have been natural, and probably smart, for some politician to put politics aside and say simply that Cheney and his friend were to be sympathized with at this moment. But life is a campaign, and they are merely players.

"The refusal of this administration to level with the American people in matters large and small is very disturbing," Hillary Clinton declared. Nancy Pelosi added, "Open government would demand that the vice president come clean on what happened there."

Finally there is the Office of the Vice President, inevitably failing to
surpass expectations. The vice president's role, on this as on all days, is to treat the press and the Washington community in general as a plague-ridden horde, from whom it is possible, upon the merest conversation or contact, to catch some soul-destroying disease. So, of course, the vice president was compelled to recreate his role as Voldemort, Keeper of the Secrets.

We have, when you put it all together, created a political climate impeccably sterilized of spontaneity and normal human response. We have our roles, dear audience. Ours is not to feel and think. Ours is but to spin or die.

February 15, 2006

Blog This: » Mitch Kapor: Why Wikipedia is the next big thing | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

Mitch Kapor: Why Wikipedia is the next big thing by ZDNet's Dan Farber -- At the close of the first day of the Open Source Business Conference, Mitch Kapor explained why he thinks Wikipedia is the next big thing. He first deconstructed the online encyclopedia, which is one of the top 20 Web sites, and punctured holes in myths, such as “someone has to be in charge of things [...]"

I think Kapor is correct. Wikipedia is a model that can be applied to other bases of knowledge, both small and large. The difficulties in building these systems is acquiring and managing the core of enthusiasts to to it and persuading them that they may need to rethink the hierarchical knowledge management model that so many of us have grown up with.

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan

The era of media as the mouthpiece of Democrats is over. Some argue this amounts to virulent partisanship. Others say it's other, more rational voices being heard. Whatever, a new era is upon us.

Her larger point, though, is that conservatives, now that they have found their voice in America, must lead well.

The Economist, January 7, 2006

"The problem for America's left is not the lack of justified complaints about Mr. Bush. It is their propensity to exaggeration and conspiracy-mongering and its inability to distinguish between justified complaints and hysteria, means that their cries are seldom listened to except by people who suffer from the same affliction." --The Economist, January 7, 2006

February 14, 2006

Verizon BroadbandAccess Coverage 02/06

Service Availability:

BroadbandAccess and V CASTsm are available today in the markets listed below. When outside these areas, we offer NationalAccess wireless Internet service at average speeds of 60-80 kbps and bursts up to 144kbps. Now get the broadband-like speed you require to work efficiently outside the office. Using our wireless PC card with your laptop, you can connect to the Internet, corporate intranet, and your email and attachments while you're away from the office at typical download speeds of 400-700 kbps*, capable of reaching speeds up to 2.0 Mbps. BroadbandAccess will give you the freedom to stay productive and connected whether you're on the road or in a meeting across town.


Athens, GA
Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Baton Rouge, LA
Boston, MA
Charlotte, NC
Chicago, IL
Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
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U.S. Has Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies - New York Times

U.S. Has Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies - New York Times

Big, big, big bucks at stake here. Who's right will likely be decided in the Supreme Court. As usual, the Times plays this as though the Bush administration is giving the oil companies an undeserved break. The situation is too complex for the casual observer to draw that conclusion. What is clear is that this is an issue that involves years of legislation, rules, regulations and wrangling.

Blaming the Bush administration is unfair, but I'll bet $10.00 that's exactly what the Democrats will do. Watch and see.

U.S. and Israelis Are Said to Talk of Hamas Ouster - New York Times

U.S. and Israelis Are Said to Talk of Hamas Ouster - New York Times

Leakers have planted this strategy to scare Hamas and the Islamic qorld. If it is the strategy, Europe, the U.S> and Israel better be ready to enforce it before the Palestinian territories become a haven for all kinds of terrorists. The West cannot allow Hamas to remain in power and must not negotiate with groups they have labeled as terrorists for their beliefs and their behavior.

Let's see how this plays out. Big stakes here, particularly if Iran or the Saudis creep into the picture.

Here's Friedman's take on it:

"I don't think it will be so simple.

The sense I got from Hamas officials here is that Hamas will be low-key
and patient, trying to rule as long as possible without money from abroad,
working on improving Palestinian governance and hoping that Palestinian society
will remain steadfast — and that the Arab world and Europe will somehow
intervene to keep Israel and the U.S. from depriving Hamas of its legitimate

As Farhat Assad, the local Hamas spokesman, remarked: "I thank the
United States that they have given us this weapon of democracy. But there is no
way to retreat now. It's not possible for the U.S. and the world to turn its
back on an elected democracy."
But Hamas will have its hands full managing the West Bank, where it doesn't have as many people or arms as Fatah. As the Israeli strategist Gidi Grinstein put it, Hamas "is like a snake that swallowed an elephant." It has a lot to digest before it can move sharply in any direction."

Microsoft to launch Office Live beta | CNET News.com

Microsoft to launch Office Live beta CNET News.com

This service could be a boon to many small businesses who want and need a web presence yet want it simple and reasonably cheap. Hosting included for $50/month along with the other services will be attractive and affordable.

Kyocera - Accessories -- Kyocera cell phone accessories

Kyocera - Accessories -- Kyocera cell phone accessories

Pricey, but a cool tool for connecting multiple devices to Verizon's BroadbandAccess EV-DO network. Why, I could even create a LAN in the RV for use travelling. Or how about setting up in an RV park and renting airtime to others? HaHa.

February 11, 2006

Europe Can Take Pride in Defending Cartoons - New York Times

Europe Can Take Pride in Defending Cartoons - New York Times: A thoughtful article on the Islamic rioting in the Muslim world. Westen peoples must wake up and repel these murderous Islamic fundamentalists. They must be restrained at all costs at every turn. The civilized world cannot condone terrorist and murderous riots by these fanatics, otherwise it will cease to be civilized.

"It is against this backdrop that the decision of Jyllands-Posten, and later other European papers, to publish the depictions of Muhammad must be seen. If the initial publication was a provocation, it was also a willed one, an act of defiance, a statement that Europe will not be cowed by fear into putting such sacrilegious images off limits.

As Denmark's principled prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has put it: 'I will never accept that respect for a religious stance leads to the curtailment of criticism, humor and satire in the press.'

Rasmussen is right; Europe has to make clear where it stands on its freedoms. And what, say critics, of anti-Semitic cartoons, or insulting depictions of Roma? Why are they not published, too? Are images offensive to Muslims not just a reflection of Europe's disdain for Islam?

These arguments might carry more weight if radical Islam were not one of the most potent global forces today, its fanatical followers invoking precisely the words or traditions of the Prophet to justify heinous acts.

By what right can such acts, and their supposed holy inspiration, be ruled unfit material for the political caricaturist or satirist? If moderate Muslims will not rise in unison against this abuse of their religion, it is inevitable that Western observers will seek to express their unease."

February 9, 2006

PCWorld.com - Bush Signs Digital TV Transition Bill

PCWorld.com - Bush Signs Digital TV Transition Bill

February 17, 2009 is the date when all analog TV broadcasts will end. This is BIG news for the wireless and the TV industries and we should see an explosion of mobile broadband capacity and services after 2009.

The American Thinker

The American Thinker -Strange New Respect

This full piece is well worth contemplating by everyone including the 'antique' media as the author describes the MSM.

"With the sole exceptions of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Riverside
Press-Enterprise, and New York Sun, no significant American newspaper has dared
to publish the 12 cartoons at the root of the protests, embassy burnings and
deaths roiling the Islamic world. Despite intense public interest in this major
story, Americans who do not view their news on the internet have almost no
chance to actually see these key images. Such remarkable restraint is a rather
new phenomenon in American journalism.
The new standard has been set and is already being observed with a remarkable degree of unanimity. None of the broadcast television network news have shown the cartoons, with the exception of ABC’s Nightline*. CNN did televise them but obscured the images
with dancing pixels. Fox News Channel has shied away, even when commentator
Michelle Malkin
brought along her own visual aid to the Hannity & Colmes broadcast on Tuesday, February 7.
Imposing current day politically correct standards on historic figures is all the rage these days, when the names of slaveholders Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are deemed unfit to grace the names of schools in some circles.
Perhaps it is time we re-evaluated Charlie Chaplin’s famous movie
The Great
, which mercilessly and insensitively mocked Adolf Hitler. At the
time of its theatrical release in 1940, millions of Germans worshipped Der
Fuhrer with religious passion, and the United States enjoyed peaceful, if
strained relations with Germany. The pain which many Nazis must have felt at
seeing their beloved leader denigrated and made to look ridiculous must have
been searing.
If sensitivity to the spiritual feelings of believers in great leaders were the real criterion by which media gatekeepers decided what to and broadcast, then Andres Serrano’s
would never have been seen, and universal media condemnation would have greeted the theatrical release of The Last Temptation of Christ.
Let’s be honest about the current sudden new respect the antique media exhibit toward religion.
It is physical intimidation which is at the heart of the media’s new-found principle of tender sensitivity to the feelings of certain religious believers. The assassination of Theo Van Gogh sent a message loud and clear to everyone contemplating a critical look at Islam or
Muhammad. For all their brave talk of speaking truth to power, most people in the media with established careers, families, and lives will sacrifice principle to save themselves from possible harm or death."

February 8, 2006

Bush Urges World Leaders to Halt Violence Over Cartoons - New York Times

Bush Urges World Leaders to Halt Violence Over Cartoons - New York Times:

Condi Rice is absolutely correct in pointing a finger at the rogue regimes of Iran and Syria if they are inflaming passions and exhorting Islamic violence. It's plain to see that we are in a decisive culture war with radical Islam. Terrorism is one manifestation of it, but it must be resisted in all its forms at every turn.

Wake up, world! Radical Islam's vision of a worldwide caliphate must be thwarted at all costs.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeated that assertion today. 'I
don't have any doubt that given the control of the Syrian government in Syria,
given the control of the Iranian government — which, by the way, hasn't even
hidden its hand in this — that Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to
inflame sentiment and to use this to their own purposes,' she said.
'And the world ought to call them on it,' Ms. Rice said after a meeting with the Israeli
foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, at the State Department"

Who's Hormonal? Hillary or Dick? - New York Times

Who's Hormonal? Hillary or Dick? - New York Times:

My least favorite NY Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, skewers Hillary thus:

"Hillary's problem isn't that she's angry. It's that she's not angry enough. From Iraq to Katrina and the assault on the Constitution, from Schiavo to Alito and N.S.A. snooping to Congressional corruption, Hillary has failed to lead in voicing outrage. She's been too busy triangulating and calculating to be good at articulating.

The Republicans can't marginalize Hillary. She has already marginalized herself."

Yet, Dowd encourages Hillary to be angrier and lead at the same time; to be tougher and more an articulate leader. I don't think Hillary has it in her to become a different person. What you've seen is what she is.

Some Democrats Are Sensing Missed Opportunities - New York Times

Some Democrats Are Sensing Missed Opportunities - New York Times

The simple answer is the Democrats have no credible mainstream leadership and no positive agenda that they all embrace, let alone articulate. People want to vote for something and the Democrats have failed to establish alternative ideas, either domestically or in foreign policy, that provide hope, enthusiasm or optimism. Mainstream America will not trust its future to the party of Michael Moore, Howard Dean, Hollywood and Ted Kennedy.

February 7, 2006

NSA eavesdropping: How it might work | CNET News.com

NSA eavesdropping: How it might work CNET News.com

Smart politicians will not go anywhere near the issue of what the NSA does and how it does it. Exploiting or exposing the nations clandestine capabilities for political gain is a losing position in my book for any politician or journalist.

Attorney General Gonzales was right in his testimony before the politicians (who favor power over security) as reported here.

"Our enemy is listening," Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told the
Judiciary Committee at the start of a day-long hearing into the National
Security Agency's warrantless monitoring of Americans' phone calls and e-mails
with foreign-based people suspected of terrorist ties. "And I cannot help but
wonder if they aren't . . . smiling at the prospect that we might now disclose
even more, or perhaps even unilaterally disarm ourselves of a key tool in the
war on terror."

Balancing Act by Democrats at Hearing - New York Times

Balancing Act by Democrats at Hearing - New York Times

The balancing act is more political that legal. They want to score points for the upcoming 2006 and 2008 elections. I believe the NSA surveillance program is right on target. Some of the best minds n the world work at the NSA and we should support the job they're doing.

Oh, and where is the harm that has been caused by this electronic surveillance? Answer: None.

Rioting Radical Islam

Here's a cartoon that tells the real story of radical Islamists who would destroy Western culture. Thanks to Cox and Forkum for the use of their cartoon.

February 6, 2006

Protests Over Cartoons of Muhammad Turn Deadly - New York Times

Protests Over Cartoons of Muhammad Turn Deadly - New York Times

Ah, yes, tell me about Islam being a religion of peace.

TIME.com: A Right to Offend? -- Feb. 13, 2006 -- Page 1

TIME.com: A Right to Offend? -- Feb. 13, 2006 -- Page 1

When religious demands collide with the free speech culture of open democratic societies, friction is inevitable, but the Muslim reaction should not be permitted to intimidate governments or the media. To allow that is a slippery slope in a world where Islam is the fastest growing religion along with high birth rates. There is much more at stake here than religious sensitivities.

What we are witnessing is the underlying violence of Islamic radicals who use this opportunity to fan the flames of hatred against the West furthering their goal of the West's destruction. Here are the cartoons that are causing death and destruction by rioting Islamists around the world.


More on the controversy here:


We should not mollify them.

Tony Blair has it right.

"On Monday British PM Tony Blair criticized the behavior of the demonstrators as "completely unacceptable." He also condemned attacks on European interests.
Blair said he spoke Monday morning with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark, where the cartoons were first published, to offer Britain's full support and say that they stand together in solidarity.

"The attacks on the citizens of Denmark and people of the European community were completely unacceptable, as is the behavior of some of the demonstrators in London over the past few days," Blair said in a statement read by his spokesman.

A range of British Muslim organizations condemned the London protest, including the moderate Muslim Council of Britain to the more radical Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which Prime Minister Blair wants to outlaw because of claims it supports terrorism."

Pentagon Widens Program to Foil Bombings in Iraq - New York Times

Pentagon Widens Program to Foil Bombings in Iraq - New York Times:

So, we learn that Iran has a hand in killing Americans and Iraqis by furnishing IEDs and know-how to Shia in Iraq.

"Some of the most deadly bombs use shaped charges, which penetrate armor by focusing explosive power in a single direction and by firing a metal projectile embedded in the device into the target at high speed. American intelligence officials say the most potent of these new weapons have been designed in Iran and shipped to Iraq from there.
'Tehran has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anticoalition attacks by providing Shia militants with the capability to build improvised explosive devices with explosively formed projectiles similar to those developed by Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah,' Mr. Negroponte told senators last week.
The American military adviser team to Iraqi special police forces in Salman Pak, 12 miles southeast of Baghdad, said it had been seeing more sophisticated shaped-charge explosions since last spring. A senior Army intelligence officer said the charges were being used mostly by Shiite militia groups, but added, 'Our fear is that the technology will migrate to Sunni insurgent groups.'"

Venture for Sharing Wi-Fi Draws Big-Name Backers - New York Times

Venture for Sharing Wi-Fi Draws Big-Name Backers - New York Times

A novel idea, but complex and with many pitfalls, not the least of which is the random distribution of hot spots which may make the idea feasible only in dense population areas. Nevertheless, the telcos will pay close attention because of the companies, e.g., Skype, and venture groups that are sponsoring it.

February 5, 2006

February 4, 2006

Protestors in Syria Set Danish, Norwegian Embassies on Fire - New York Times

Protestors in Syria Set Danish, Norwegian Embassies on Fire - New York Times

Overreaction and destruction are hallmarks of radical Islam. They are wired to be irrational. If thses cartoons were published in September, why the long-delayed reaction? I have not seen that covered in the Times.

Of interest, here is the BBC's statement of what they are doing and why.

Postage Is Due for Companies Sending E-Mail - New York Times

Postage Is Due for Companies Sending E-Mail - New York Times

This proposal has good arguments pro and con. Trying it can't hurt, but many Internet oldtimers will resent the change because it cuts across the grain of 'information wants to be free,' the mantra of many and an underlying theme in the Cluetrain Manifesto.

Bush to Propose Curbing Growth in Medicare Cost - New York Times

Bush to Propose Curbing Growth in Medicare Cost - New York Times:

Something has to be done to control the costs of Medicare and this as well as the other proposals to reduce them will cause many beneficiaries to snarl. I hope I'm wrong but I doubt Congress has the stomach to reduce the benefits or increase the premiums in an election year, if ever. The longer we wait, the larger the fee for the piper.

"Under the 2003 Medicare law, any beneficiary with more than $80,000 of annual income will have to pay higher premiums in 2007 and later years. For people with incomes of $100,000 to $150,000, premiums would more than double. Under the law, the income thresholds are increased each year to reflect inflation. Mr. Bush's proposal would eliminate these adjustments, so that more people would have to pay the higher premiums each year."

February 3, 2006

Tens of Thousands Protest Cartoon in Gaza - New York Times

Tens of Thousands Protest Cartoon in Gaza - New York Times

Plenty of time to protest because there are no jobs, no work ethic and no jobs for too many people. The West should not be intimidated by these demonstrations. Hamas may be only trying to change the focus away from their terrorist beliefs and roots.

When Trust in Doctors Erodes, Other Treatments Fill the Void - New York Times

When Trust in Doctors Erodes, Other Treatments Fill the Void - New York Times:
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had complete confidence and evidence that these alternative approaches work? Unfortunately we don't.

"The most telling evidence of Americans' dissatisfaction with traditional health care is the more than $27 billion they spend annually on alternative and complementary medicine, according to government estimates. In ways large and small, millions of people are taking active steps to venture outside the mainstream, whether by taking the herbal remedy echinacea for a cold or by placing their last hopes for cancer cure in alternative treatment, as did Coretta Scott King, who died this week at an alternative hospice clinic in Mexico.
They do not appear to care that there is little, if any, evidence that many of the therapies work. Nor do they seem to mind that alternative therapy practitioners have a fraction of the training mainstream doctors do or that vitamin and herb makers are as profit-driven as drug makers.
This straying from conventional medicine is often rooted in a sense of disappointment, even betrayal, many patients and experts say. When patients see conventional medicine's inadequacies up close — a misdiagnosis, an intolerable drug, failed surgery, even a dismissive doctor — many find the experience profoundly disillusioning, or at least eye-opening"

FAQ: When Google is not your friend | Tech News on ZDNet

FAQ: When Google is not your friend Tech News on ZDNet

A simple, readable, understandable piece on the search engine/personally identifiable information controversy. Worth a read.

February 2, 2006

Temperatures Rise Over Cartoons Mocking Muhammad - New York Times

Temperatures Rise Over Cartoons Mocking Muhammad - New York Times

The Muslim jihad includes more than violence, war and bloodshed. It includes intimidation of the culture. The EU should take the stand, as should we in the U.S., that free speech in a free society includes the publishing or all sorts of political and religious speech and keep on doing it. If they halt these cartoons, they will be caving in to intimidation.

Robert Powell: Older Americans' report card: Needs improvement - General News - Personal Finance

Robert Powell: Older Americans' report card: Needs improvement - General News - Personal Finance

Comments (above) on the recently released AARP report on Americans 50+. Result is a mixed bag based on the indicators in the AARP study.

Much Talk, Mostly Low Key, About Energy Independence - New York Times

Much Talk, Mostly Low Key, About Energy Independence - New York Times:

A comprehensive view of factors inherent in an oil economy in this piece from the Times. Conclusion: there are no easy answers. All will take time and national commitment, the same intense commitment and discipline we must begin to forge to prevent the Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid entitlement programs from overtaking our national budgets.

We lack the political and national will to get these mega-problems under control because the inertia of the "will of the people" and the politics of power cannot forge a consensus for action. This is NOT like putting a man on the moon, the comparison that is so frequently touted. Why? Because there is no pinnacle point of success that is visible and that we can celebrate. People don't pay any attention to the fact that we reach a point after several years where we import no oil. They could care less in a 'me' culture saturated by entertainment and sports.

The Sierra Club and others advocate for increasing the vehicle mileage standards to 40 mpg by 2010. A worthy goal not likely to happen. Another proposal they sponsor is a federal bail out of U.S. auto companies on condition that they build cars to the new standards. Always omitted from these proposals is the cost and price of these new vehicles. Nevertheless, these policy proposals serve a valuable goal to encourage the national debate.

"Most eye-catching among the new measures was the call to replace 75 percent of imported oil from the Middle East by 2025. Such an objective is nonthreatening to the oil industries controlled by the regimes of that region, given the rising economies of China and India. Oil is a fungible commodity that is bought and sold on a global market, so other countries could easily take the place of the United States as buyers of Saudi oil.
In fact, the administration may have avoided measures to aggressively curb oil consumption because it understands such moves might end up weakening American and European oil companies. Since each barrel of oil enters into a global pool that is traded daily, higher-cost producers — in places like the tar sands of Alberta, the North Sea off Britain or Norway, or the Gulf of Mexico in the United States — would be the first to halt production if the United States were to lower its oil purchases and thus ease market prices."

Pixel Counting Joins Film in Obsolete Bin - New York Times

Pixel Counting Joins Film in Obsolete Bin - New York Times:

What an amazing future is ahead in digital photography! Read Pogue's complete article for the full picture.

"Some of Nikon's CoolPix models already contain face-recognition software, a feature that supposedly assists focus by scanning the scene for human facial features. And Canon is working on even more sophisticated recognition software. One, called Blink Shot, would prevent the camera from taking the picture when your subject's eyes are closed. A companion feature, called Smile Shot, waits to fire until your subject manages a grin."

The Nation of the Future - New York Times

The Nation of the Future - New York Times

For all you pessimists out there, a must read by David Brooks. One sample:

"Is the United States becoming a less important player in the world economy? Not yet. In 1971, the U.S. economy accounted for 30.52 percent of the world's G.D.P. Since then, we've seen the rise of Japan, China, India and the Asian tigers. The U.S. now accounts for 30.74 percent of world G.D.P., a slightly higher figure."

February 1, 2006

Addicted to Oil - New York Times

Addicted to Oil - New York Times

Must reading from Friedman on the fundamental reason that oil regimes do not or cannot or will not enable free societies to develop. This is the best analysis I've seen on the frailties of Middle Eastern societies and cultures.

» Mashup ecosystem poised to explode | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

» Mashup ecosystem poised to explode Between the Lines ZDNet.com:

David Berlind's take on the explosive growth of a new ecosystem of the Internet, APIs and mashups. I think he's right given the great apps that have been created like writely, flickr, calendarhub and dozens more

"Finally, why might this ecosystem snowball the way none before it has (not to say that the ones before it haven't been unbelievably successful)? Because, with mashups, fewer technical skills are needed to become a developer than ever. Not only that, the simplest ones can be done in 10 or 15 minutes. Before, you had to be a pretty decent code jockey with languages like C++ or Visual Basic to turn your creativity into innovation. With mashups, much the same way blogging systems put Web publishing into the hands of millions of ordinary non-technical people, the barrier to developing applications and turning creativity into innovation is so low that there's a vacuum into which an entire new class of developers will be sucked. It's already happening."