Sunday, July 25, 2004

Lincoln acceptance speech

Howard Reiter reports finding the following quotation from Lincoln's 1860 acceptance speech in the notes of one participant:

Later I was in the Black Hawk War. I may have never seen any action, but at least Abe Lincoln didn't dodge the draft!

I prefer this quotation from the Cooper Union speech:
"Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."

Let's hope John Kerry finds the right words.

Good advice from IBM

"All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can't get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use hammer." -- IBM maintenance manual, 1975

Worked yesterday when I installed a DVD writer in a PC.

Man with jackhammer
[Thanks to the Unofficial Samba How-to @]

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

An affordable PDA

I ordered a Dell Axim x30. It doesn't have the style of the HP, and it doesn't have a 4" VGA screen. It is about half the price, just as fast, and equipped with built-in Wifi and Bluetooth wireless networking.
Unfortunately, Intel underestimated the popularity of its new fast-PDA processors, and shipping is delayed until Aug. 5. (Wonder what Intel was thinking?)
Dell Axim x30

I shall call you "the Brick"

People from Indiana are called Hoosiers

Hoosiers basketball player dribbles ball down the court

...contrary to what the Republican party says. ("Indianans"????)

"It was a dark and stormy night", 2004 version

The winners of the 2004 edition of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest are out, and I couldn't be more excited. What is the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest? According to its web page:

An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword," and phrases like "the great unwashed" and "the almighty dollar," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

And the winner is:
She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight . . . summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail . . . though the term "love affair" now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism . . . not unlike "sand vein," which is after all an intestine, not a vein . . . and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand . . . and that brought her back to Ramon.

My favorite entry in the category of "Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mention" comes from John Brugliera of W. Lebanon, NH:
The thing that goes back and forth inside the old grandfather clock swung like a pendulum.

Do take a look and find your own favorite!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Air Traffic Controllers needed, they think

Read this graf from today's NY Times article:

Of the 15,100 controllers who do the vital work of managing the skies from control towers and in vast, dim rooms with rows of radar scopes, about 7,100 will turn the mandatory retirement age of 56 by the 2012 fiscal year, and most will have the option of retiring years earlier. The F.A.A. says that means it will have to hire about 790 a year, a vast increase from current hiring levels.

Then, a couple of paragraphs down, learn that:
[s]o far, though, the agency does not even know how many controllers it will need at each tower and radar center.

Later we discover that:
[a]ccording to a June report by the federal Department of Transportation's inspector general, which audits F.A.A. operations, the hundreds of air traffic offices across the nation use different methods to calculate how many new workers they will need, leaving the F.A.A. with no clear picture of what is coming.

FDR had a solution to the FAA's problems:
These unhappy times call for the building of plans...that build from the bottom up and not from the top down....
Planning? What a novel idea!

If you want to read the full Times article, use the member name "dailykos", password "dailykos"

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Lincoln: Don't cancel the elections

We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Tough times...if you work for a living

NEW YORK - Despite an improved economy, cost-conscious employers are granting workers limited pay raises this year, and plan only slightly larger increases in 2005.

Companies are budgeting pay increases of 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent this year _ the third in a row below the 4 percent-plus level that was routine in the 1990s _ and plan raises of 3.5 percent next year, according to a pair of surveys.

The modest raises both this year and next will keep workers' pay increasing faster than the rate of inflation. But higher worker contributions for health care could eat up much of the pay gains, analysts said.

So much for that booming economy.

"Beam me up, Scotty"

I need a PDA/handheld computer so that I don't forget appointments, birthdays, etc. (My memory grows worse every day.) It's a bewildering process to select a system that's right for me, even though I'm no stranger to the devices.

My history with PDAs goes way back to the beginnings. I was an "early adopter" of the original PalmPilot. While I liked it very much, the amount of information that could be stored wasn't sufficient for my needs. Moreover, while the PalmPilot's screen worked great on airplanes but poorly outdoors: I could improve my digital Yatzee scores on cross-country flights, but I couldn't pull information out of the little grey box the other times I needed it. So I quit using it 5+ years ago.

My second PDA was a used MessagePad 2100. It was an Apple Newton on steroids. Its handwriting recognition was very good, and its text-to-speech feature wowed other PDA owners. Unfortunately, linking it to my desktop calendar and email was forever a challenge. And it consumed batteries (which is not good, given its NiMH power cells cannot be replaced). So the 2100 now sits in the corner of a bedroom, charging its batteries in case I might need it again.

This time, it looks like I will be buying a Hewlett-Packard. HP handhelds run Microsoft's Mobile 2003 operating system, and I hate giving money to Microsoft. Still, I need compatibility with Windows, Wifi connectivity, and a decent web browser, and reliability. I trust HP to give me all of that, even if the price is slightly unreasonable.

On July 27, HP announces its new hx4700. The good news is that it has all that I want--a tiny VGA (640 x 480) screen, stereo sound, touch pad, WiFi, more memory than most of the computers I've owned, and a powerful processor. The bad news is the price and, as somebody noted, the fact that it "looks like a bad prop from Battlestar Galactica."

picture of HP hx4700

Professor Cole on W. & the terrorist threat

Professor Juan Cole listens to President Bush tell voters that his administration has reduced the terrorist threat to Americans...and disagrees:

So, no, Americans are not safer, Mr. Bush. They face the threat of substantial narco-terrorism from Afghanistan. Iraq is a security nightmare that could well blow back on the American homeland. Pakistan remains a military dictatorship with a host of militant jihadi movements that had been fomented by the hardline Pakistani military intelligence. Saudi Arabia is witnessing increased al-Qaeda activity and attacks on Westerners. And the Israeli-Palestine dispute is being left to fester and poison the world.

These are not achievements to be proud of. This is a string of disasters. We are not safer. We face incredible danger because of the way the Bush administration has grossly mishandled the Middle East.
Succinctly stated.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

"Dick Cheney is not a crook"

Paul Waldman of writes:

"Dick Cheney is not a crook." - Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC)

and adds

You can't help but think that the instant that came out of his mouth, Graham smacked his forehead and said under his breath, "Stupid, stupid..."

Monday, July 12, 2004

"The Greatest Single Event of My Life"

Mr. Pink of East Lampeter, Pennsylvania tells the story of his encounter with the President of the United States.

Adam, Brendan, and I rose our banner (the More Trees, Less Bush one) and he turned to wave to our side of the road. His smile faded, and he raised his left arm in our direction. And then, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States of America, extended his middle finger....

A ponytailed man standing next to us confirmed the event, saying, "I do believe the President of the U.S. just gave you boys the finger." We laughed probably for the next half hour, and promptly told everyone we knew. Brendan actually snapped a picture of Bushy in action, but the glare and the tint of the bus windows make it difficult to see him at all. Nonetheless, it was the best possible reaction.

We pissed George W. Bush off. We are true patriots.

Mr. Ooze provides some background on what turns out to be a most ancient gesture.

We are truly blessed to live in our country.

(Thanks to Mr. Doolittle of BadAttitudes for bringing this story to a broader audience.)

Sunday, July 11, 2004

All praise to the Whiskey Bar

I've been fiddling around for a couple of months with a blog. I've learned two facts from the experience: Blogging requires discipline, and it taxes your writing skills. (It also messes with your social and work activities!) So a couple of weeks ago, when Billmon over at the Whiskey Bar interrupted his pattern of publishing 2-3 times every day, I felt a bit of sadness even as I understood a bit of why his well had run dry.

Well, Billmon's back. While he's not going to be serving up comments from the audience, he promises to apply his intellect and progressive point of view where needed. If his July 10th essay about Ken Lay and the Bush dynasty, titled "Play It As It Lays" is indicative, I am very thankful that he's back.

Of course Billmon skewers the media:

Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't the fact that several of Enron's unindicted co-conspirators - like the Vice President of the United States and the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission - are still on the public payroll, and apparently still involved in the cover up, count for something?

Apparently not. The coverage of Lay's little perp walk was about two-third celebrity journalism (about on par with an E Channel documentary on the life and times of Morton Downey Jr.) and one-third desultory political speculation, in which the usual pundits expressed the conventional wisdom that the explosion of corporate crime that marked the final years of the '90s bubble is now just ancient history, and thus will have little or no impact on the election....
But he gives much more to chew on.

The tentacles of influence that Lay and company managed to insert into the Bush family and the Republican Party make the Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920s look like a tempest in, well, a teapot.

And yet now the talking heads seek to convince us that seeing Ken Lay briefly paraded before the television cameras in handcuffs is sufficient proof that the Bushes have put the scandal behind them - and us. We're supposed to forget, I guess, about the ruined lives and the enormous economic damage left behind by Enron and its political benefactors.

Read the full essay, and you'll learn about how the press is collaborating with the GOP to convince us that since Heinz had an encounter with Lay, everyone's guilty and there's nothing to be seen here. You'll discover how the Bush family and Ken Lay have aided and abetted one another for more than 20 our expense.

Welcome back, Mr. Billmon.

Marriage for poor women: the math doesn't work

Barbara Ehrenreich finds the Bush administration's solution for saving poor women from poverty faulty:

It is equally unclear how marriage will cure poor women's No. 1 problem, which is poverty — unless, of course, the plan is to draft C.E.O.'s to marry recipients of T.A.N.F. (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). Left to themselves, most women end up marrying men of the same social class as their own, meaning — in the case of poverty-stricken women — blue-collar men. But that demographic group has seen a tragic decline in earnings in the last couple of decades. So I have been endeavoring to calculate just how many blue-collar men a T.A.N.F. recipient needs to marry to lift her family out of poverty.

The answer turns out to be approximately 2.3, which is, strangely enough, illegal.
Reality doesn't slow down the true believers, does it?

Saturday, July 10, 2004


The headline in today's Washington Post refers to the World Court's ruling on "Israel's fence". Here is a picture of that "fence":

Here is another picture: defines "fence" as

A structure serving as an enclosure, a barrier, or a boundary, usually made of posts or stakes joined together by boards, wire, or rails.

Sure looks more like a wall to me. Like a modern version of the Berlin Wall.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Good advice is not often taken well.

Ken, I hardly knew ye...

The Poorman reminds us that Ken Lay has a long history with W.

Perhaps Ken has some things he wants to tell the American people.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Guess who?

Raised in a "working class" family. Built a successful career as a trial lawyer. Viewed as an overachiever by some; hated by others. Served only one term in Congress. Known for his oratory. Abraham Lincoln
There's some interesting parallels worth exploring between Lincoln and John Edwards.

Another reminder of Bush's OTJ training

Nick Kristoff in this morning's NY Times:

Is there a risk in choosing Mr. Edwards? Sure, Mr. Kerry might drop dead. Then we'd have a very inexperienced president — again!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Why Edwards? Because he gets it!

(From Hullabaloo, written about a year ago:)

Do you want to see a wing nut's head spin around like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist? Try comparing Bush's economic policies to socialism:

[Edwards:] "This is the most radical and dangerous economic theory to hit our shores since socialism a century ago. Like socialism, it corrupts the very nature of our democracy and our free enterprise tradition. It is not a plan to grow the American economy. It is a plan to corrupt the American economy."

Damn. That is just beautiful.

Edwards gets it. It's about changing the Left/Right paradigm and putting the Republicans off balance, without moving further to the right. This is new and it has the potential to seriously shake up the dynamic, particularly if the economy continues to sputter. This is just great -- a truly new way of coming at the Republicans, using all of their patented propaganda tags against them. It's awfully smart and I would hope that every Dem candidate keeps this in the back of his mind.

Lack of experience can be a problem

In 2000, with only 6 years in political office after a series of failed business deals, George W. Bush turned to a senior GOP politician to help pick the VP candidate. Remember?

In the spring of 2000, while still serving as Halliburton's CEO, [Dick Cheney] headed George W. Bush's Vice-Presidential search committee. After reviewing Cheney's findings however, Bush surprisingly asked Cheney himself to join the Republican ticket. Cheney resigned as CEO on July 25, and put all of his corporate shares and stock options into a charitable trust.

Just shows what a lack of experience will yield....

(Thanks to Bad Attitudes and WordIQ)

Senator McCain endorsed John Edwards

According to Daily Kos, Senator John McCain provided this quotation for the back cover of Edwards' book:

Atrios adds the following quotation from Senator McCain:
He's got the ambition, the talent and the brains to go very far, to be president of the United States.
-Charlotte Observer, 2/26/01

!Who's to argue!

Murdock doesn't know all....

N.Y. Post declares Gephardt VP choice