Goose the Blog 2.0

"Oh, ha! Sarcasm: The last refuge of sons of bitches!"


Questions for Kerry

by Michelle at 9/30/2004 08:34:00 PM

Below are some questions that Kerry needs to answer during the debates tonight OR Why Kerry is considered a flip-flopper.

Was it the right decision or the wrong decision to disarm Saddam Hussein?

"I said at the time I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. And when the president made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him." John Kerry, May 3, 2004

Would you like to use a life line?

"Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president." Dec. 16, 2003

Would you like to phone a friend?

"Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it's the right authority for a president to have. But I would have used that authority as I have said throughout this campaign, effectively." Aug. 9, 2004

Would you like to ask the audience?

Iraq was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." Sept 6, 2004

Is that your final answer?

What is your position on troop deployment in Iraq?

"We should not send more American troops. That would be the worst thing." John Kerry, Sept 4, 2003

"If it requires more troops...that's what you have to do." April 18, 2004

"I will have significant, enormous reduction in the level of troops." Aug 1, 2004

"We're going to get our troops home where they belong." Aug 6, 2004

Is that your final answer, Mr. Kerry?

What is your position on the funding of the War in Iraq?

"We should increase funding by whatever number of billions of dollars it takes to win." John Kerry August 31, 2003

"$200 Billion that we're not investing in education and health care, and job creation here at home...That's the wrong choice." Sept 8, 2004

Is that your final answer, Mr. Kerry?
(Kerry quotes compiled by Weekly Standard Sept 20, 2004 issue)

I don't know what Marc Sandalow over at the San Francisco chronicle is smoking, but I think he might have missed these speeches by Kerry. Okay, I had a little too much fun with this one, but I just couldn't resist. I'll try to be less sarcastic in the future.


by John at 9/30/2004 11:26:00 AM

See a dog upon the road
Running hard to catch a cat
Car is pulling to a halt
The truck behind me doesn't know
Everything is in the balance
Of a moment I can't control
And the sympathetic strings
Are like the stirrings in my soul

I could go at anytime
There's nothing safe about his life
I could go at anytime

Neil Finn gets profiled in


It's good that Saddam is gone

by Michelle at 9/29/2004 09:35:00 PM

I think the judgment of a nominee who doesn't understand that having Saddam Hussein captured will make it extraordinarily difficult to be able to beat an incumbent wartime president who captured Saddam Hussein. . . . Saddam Hussein took us to war once before. In that war, young Americans were killed. He went to war in order to take over the oil fields. It wasn't just an invasion of Kuwait. He was heading for the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. And that would have had a profound effect on the security of the United States. This is a man who used weapons of mass destruction, unlike other people on this Earth today, not only against other people - but against his own people. This is a man who tried to assassinate a former president of the United States, a man who lobbed 36 missiles into Israel in order to destabilize the Middle East, a man who is so capable of miscalculation that he even brought the war on himself. This is a man who, if he was left uncaptured, would have continued to be able to organize the Baathists. He would have continued to terrorize the people, just in their minds, because of 30 years of terror in Iraq.-----oh by the way, this isn't me talking, this is John Kerry on "Meet the Press" on Jan. 11 responding to Howard Dean's position on the war.

know your rights

by John at 9/29/2004 03:25:00 PM

Number 3

You have the right to free
Speech as long as you're not
Dumb enough to actually try it

(more here from Daily Kos)

George Soros

by John at 9/29/2004 10:23:00 AM

Soros may be an evil, foreign-born billionaire who is using the money he made manipulating currency markets to influence elections in the United States*, but he also says a lot of pretty thoughtful things, e.g.:
America can play a more constructive role in the world than it is doing under the Bush administration. The Bush doctrine is grounded in the belief that international relations are relations of power; legality and legitimacy are decorations. This belief is not entirely false but it exaggerates one aspect of reality—military power—to the exclusion of others. I see a parallel between the Bush administration's pursuit of American supremacy and a boom-bust process or bubble in the stock market. Bubbles do not grow out of thin air. They have a solid basis in reality, but reality is distorted by misconception. In this case, the dominant position of the United States is the reality, the pursuit of supremacy the misconception. Reality can reinforce the misconception but the gap between reality and its false interpretation is unsustainable. During the self-reinforcing phase, the misconception may be tested. If it passes, the misconception is reinforced, widening the gap and increasing the size of the inevitable correction. The later it comes the more devastating the consequences.

Tuesday, Soros delivered a speech at the National Press Club called, appropriately enough, "Why We Must Not Re-elect George Bush"

The destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was such a horrendous event that it required a strong response. But the President committed a fundamental error in thinking: the fact that the terrorists are manifestly evil does not make whatever counter-actions we take automatically good. What we do to combat terrorism may also be wrong. Recognizing that we may be wrong is the foundation of an open society. President Bush admits no doubt and does not base his decisions on a careful weighing of reality. For 18 months after 9/11 he managed to suppress all dissent. That is how he could lead the nation so far in the wrong direction.

You can also read "The Iraqi Quagmire", Chapter 4 of his book The Bubble of American Supremacy. There is what might be a teaser for this book from The Atlantic Monthly, copied onto someone's website (illegally, I imagine, so don't read it if you are a copyright purist).

Finally, Soros wrote an article back in 1997 called "The Capitalist Threat" which has also been copied from the The Atlantic Monthly and re-published.

I'm in the process of reading both Atlantic Monthly articles now, so I can't say whether they are all that good or not - I just thought I'd share. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.


Iconoclast endorses Kerry

by John at 9/28/2004 11:00:00 PM

The Lone Star Iconoclast, a newspaper in Bush's "hometown" of Crawford, Texas, endorses Kerry for President, even though it endorsed Bush in 2000. The current editor, Leon Smith, also endorsed Bush in 2000 when he was editor of the Clifton Record. (Found on Daily Kos and Jesus' General)

The newspaper's homepage seems to be down right now, but the link to the editorial was working when I posted this. Having trouble reading it? Let me know and I can post the whole thing in comments.

Fear and Laptops on the Campaign Trail

by Amy, Bill, Guillermo and Alma at 9/28/2004 05:24:00 PM

Here's an article on blogs...the intro asks, "The bloggers covering the presidential race are maverick, funny, mostly partisan and always hypercaffeinated. Are they ruining political journalism or recharging it?" Good read.


the place? space!

by John at 9/27/2004 04:21:00 PM

SpaceShipOne will (hopefully) slip the surly bonds of earth and soar into sub-orbital space in the first attempt to claim the Ansari X Prize this Wednesday, Sept. 29 at about 6 am PST.

In related news, crazed gazillionaire Arthur Fortune has agreed to license the Scaled Composites technology that will allow him to fly people into space for a nominal fee.


Peace On Earth

by John at 9/25/2004 09:20:00 PM

Hello? Hello, Dimitri? Listen, I can't hear too well, do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little? Oh, that's much better. Yes. Fine, I can hear you now, Dimitri. Clear and plain and coming through fine. I'm coming through fine too, eh? Good, then. Well then as you say we're both coming through fine. Good. Well it's good that you're fine and I'm fine. I agree with you. It's great to be fine. Ha ha! Now then Dimitri. You know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb. The bomb, Dimitri. The hydrogen bomb. Well now what happened is, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of, well he went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little... funny. And uh, he went and did a silly thing. Well, I'll tell you what he did, he ordered his planes... to attack your country. Well let me finish, Dimitri. Let me finish, Dimitri. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dimitri? Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello? Of course I like to speak to you. Of course I like to say hello. Not now, but any time, Dimitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened. It's a friendly call. Of course it's a friendly call. Listen, if it wasn't friendly... you probably wouldn't have even got it. They will not reach their targets for at least another hour. I am... I am positive, Dimitri. Listen, I've been all over this with your ambassador. It is not a trick. Well I'll tell you. We'd like to give your air staff a complete run down on the targets, the flight plans, and the defensive systems of the planes. Yes! I mean, if we're unable to recall the planes, then I'd say that, uh, well, we're just going to have to help you destroy them, Dimitri. I know they're our boys. Alright, well, listen... who should we call? Who should we call, Dimitri? The People...? Sorry, you faded away there. The People's Central Air Defense Headquarters. Where is that, Dimitri? In Omsk. Right. Yes. Oh, you'll call them first, will you? Uh huh. Listen, do you happen to have the phone number on you, Dimitri? What? I see, just ask for Omsk Information. I'm sorry too, Dimitri. I'm very sorry. Alright! You're sorrier than I am! But I am sorry as well. I am as sorry as you are, Dimitri. Don't say that you are more sorry than I am, because I am capable of being just as sorry as you are. So we're both sorry, alright? Alright.

Haiti needs your help

by Michelle at 9/25/2004 01:42:00 AM

Tropical Storm Jeanne caused significant flooding and mudslides in Haiti. It is estimated that 300,000 people are now homeless. Over 1000 dead. Many are starving -lacking food and clean water.

How can you help? Here is a list of NGOs working in Haiti to provide relief :


Insights from inside Iraq

by Michelle at 9/25/2004 01:10:00 AM


deep breath...

by John at 9/24/2004 02:00:00 PM

...and exhale. Once more.

Feel better? Okay. Try to have a good weekend.


Rather vs. Bush

by SamIam at 9/23/2004 06:33:00 PM

From Outlet Radio,

Dan Rather, CBS News Anchor
1. given documents he thought were true
2. failed to thoroughly investigate the facts
3. reported documents to the American people as true to make his case
4. when confronted with the facts, apologized and launched an investigation
5. number of Americans dead: 0
6. should be fired as CBS News Anchor

George W. Bush, President of the United States
1. given documents he thought were true
2. failed to thoroughly investigate the facts
3. reported documents to the American people as true to make his case
4. when confronted with the facts, continued to report untruth and
stonewalled an investigation
5. number of Americans dead: 1100
6. should be given four more years as President of the United States

<>PS. Jeff, be my guest to leave a 10,000 word essay on what is wrong with this post...there may be someone out in web-land who actually cares, but I don't. I've wasted too much time this year trying to decipher your long-winded but ultimately vacuous posts and I've given up. It is clear to me that you have bought into The Fear, hook, line, & sinker, and I believe that is exactly what the terrorist intended: to take way our freedom and dignity as they believe we have taken theirs. I too fear--that you and much our country will not loose The Fear before it is too late.

At What Cost?

by Weisshaupt at 9/23/2004 11:35:00 AM

In 1945, the U.S. Government was riddled with Soviet spies. Joseph McCarthy was tasked with rooting them out, and as the recently declassified Venona papers prove, there were many spies there to be found. In other words, “McCarthyism” was not the witch hunt American textbooks and Public Schools make it out to have been. McCarthy's methods may not have been the best, but he wasn't reponding to hysterical paranoia - the threat was real.

Alger Hiss was accused by McCarthy of being a Soviet spy. Evidence from the Venona papers and from his trial collaborate this accusation, though a
definitive answer on the matter will probably never be reached. This alleged Soviet Spy served as the first Secretary General of the United Nations, and represented the United States in the writing of the U.N. Charter. Other evidence also suggests the original purpose of the U.N as a tool of the Soviet Union. If this is true, serious reform should be undertaken or at least considered before giving them control of a large military force.

The United Nations’ charter begins with “We the People of the United Nations”, parroting the U.S. Constitution. However, the constitution of the United States was ratified by the people of the United States in special conventions held in each state. The U.N. charter can make no such claim to legitimacy, and the principles espoused within the U.N. Charter have more in common with the
Constitution of the former USSR than the Constitution of the United States. Did the U.S. Ratification of the U.N. charter subordinate the U.S. Constitution and the rights espoused therein to a (communistic view of) “World Government” capable of overturning the U.S. Constitution? Probably.

From this “World Government”, unelected and unaccountable, without any provision or a separation of powers, or checks and balances upon them, we get the concept of “
international legitimacy”, that coinage liberals claim is so urgently needed by the United States. However, a quick look at the U.N membership shows this body to be composed largely of countries led by despots and dictators, unelected by their people, who typically find it in their best interests to vote against the United States. The infant E.U., trying to attain Super-Power status, also finds thwarting the United States to be in their best interest. U.S. Coalition building in this environment is difficult to say the least.

This “World Government” is
usurping our court system, trying to levy taxes (taxation without representation) and imposing new laws. We may even loose control of our own National parks

In the meantime, liberals within the United States believe the U.N is the best organization to oversee the fledgling democracy in Iraq, despite the U.N.’s own
report of a dismal track record of Peace-Keeping (War is Peace new-speak) , and the potential corruption with the Oil for Food program and the potential interference of the self-interest of member states. Regardless of who makes a proposal (Kerry or Bush) for giving this body a military force by which it can enforce its resolutions, it is a really bad Idea. The United States has the military might to oppose such a force if it were applied to the U.S., but many other nations do not. Anyone who believes in the separation of powers and accountability of government officials should recognize the inherent danger in the structure of this institution, and realize that in its present form, it is not an appropriate vehicle for pursuing a World Government while protecting the rights of the people. Culture plays a huge part in why The United States has succeeded where many other democratic forms of government have failed. This is why the plan in Iraq is very risky, and why the U.S. should not subjugate our beliefs and system of government to a system that is an anathema to its principles

time warp?

by Yuris at 9/23/2004 11:34:00 AM

This morning, at 8AM... I got a note from Apple saying my new iBook had been shipped- I should receive it within the next 2-3 days. At 10AM... it was on my doorstep!
A wormhole in the space-time fabric of the Universe?

It almost arrived before it was shipped!
I looked at the tracking info... the package left Taiwan (yes, Taiwan) the day before. Made it to Alaska by that evening, and eventually to Wilmington, Delaware (8:30AM), via Indianapolis.

I'm almost tempted to complain, because I was not in my apartment at the time (10AM), so they left the package in the lobby. Generic gray cardboard box, no Apple logos... good! with a shipping sticker saying it contained an item with 512MB RAM, 40GB hard disk, and the xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx Ethernet address! humm... I wonder what could id be??? 8)

yes. Its my fault, I signed the FedEx delivery waiver but...
then again, I expected to be home, when the laptop came in.

A Republic or a Democracy?

by Weisshaupt at 9/23/2004 11:09:00 AM

The Founding fathers put the electoral college in place for a reason - it makes our process more stable by weighting the vote, and preventing a large but distributed minority from having "undue" influence, while giving smaller states (like Colorado) more of an equal voice with the more populated states.

But the Democrats have successfully put a ballot initiative into the mix here in Colorado. This initiative will make the Colorado electoral vote proportional to the popular vote, throwing out the winner takes all system. This will remove Colorado from consideration in any future election. Of course, Democrats don't seem to be calling for such democratic solutions in California, New York or other places where it would hurt them.

The United States is a Republic, the voting members of the republic are the States, not the people. That is why electoral vote allocation is a State issue and NOT a Federal one. There are those who want a Democracy, and they want it to change in THIS election. The questionable legality or retroactive legislation is sure to put this election back into the courts. A more full account of why this will probably happen can be found here.

Thanks to our liberal educational system that does not require reading of the Federalist, and the fact that teachers (my teachers at least) express the idea that the electoral college is obsolete, this measure is sure to pass. So yes, we will all be able to yell about stolen elections again, and all the U.N. inspectors and lawyers in the world will not be able to stop it, thanks to the Democrats.

If this isn't tampering with a Federal Election, I don't know what is. If we want to convert the nature of our government, it should be done by Constitutional Amendment that removes the electoral college from the process, and not carried on in a State to State battle purely for the political gain of one party or the other.

cool and spacy

by John at 9/23/2004 09:39:00 AM

When we were in LA, Wendy picked up a CD by Grandaddy called The Sophtware Slump. It is cool and spacy alt-pop that reminds me a bit of The Flaming Lips, only less psychedelic. I say check it out.

Also, I got Chutes Too Narrow by The Shins. I like it. It is bouncy - I haven't deciphered the lyrics yet, so it may not be as fun as it sounds. I always enjoy that kind of sneaky oppostion. Is Oh, Inverted World as good?

Finally, we got Medúlla, Björk's new album. Intense and innovative - maybe too innovative. The album is built on mostly human voices (I was going to say noises, but that's unfortunately limited to human beatbox, not armpit sounds or otherwise!). It's weird, sometimes scary, and not catchy, but I plan on listening to it again and again. Maybe it is like a tough novel - not easy to get into, but worth it in the long run.

world army?

by John at 9/23/2004 09:20:00 AM

Bush proposed a permanent world army for peacekeeping activities in his UN speech Tuesday.

"Because we believe in human dignity, the world must have more effective means to stabilize regions in turmoil, and to halt religious violence and ethnic cleansing. We must create permanent capabilities to respond to future crises.

The United States and Italy have proposed a Global Peace Operations Initiative. G-8 countries will train 75,000 peacekeepers - initially from Africa - so they can conduct operations on that continent and elsewhere. The countries of the G-8 will help this peacekeeping force with deployment and logistical needs." [my emphasis]

The Group of Eight (G-8) are the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, the USA, and Russia, plus the EU (G-8+?) . Does Bush think that he will have better luck getting them to agree with us than he has had with the U.N. Security Council? Maybe on an issue like Darfur (although Russia is still not on the correct side there).

Nonetheless, I think something like this is probably a good idea (since I'm one of those anti-American, multilateralist naives), but I doubt that many conservatives would feel the same way. I can easily imagine what they would say if Kerry proposed such a thing.



by John at 9/22/2004 09:11:00 PM

I just watched the first half of the pilot of "Lost". Pretty good. My guess? Answer here (not really a spoiler, but I dont want to ruin it for anyone).

Prescription for doubt

by Bill at 9/22/2004 04:26:00 PM

Yesterday at the office something interesting happened. I saw a patient whom I deemed as sick and in the need of antibiotics. In the interest of confidentiality I will leave out the details. He/She had the symptoms of a URI (upper respiratory infection) that meet the criteria for a probable bacterial infection, hence the need for antibiotics (most URIs are viral and you only need to treat the symptoms until they resolve). So, this patient looked pretty sick to me and I excused myself from the room to get a prescription pad. When I began writing I experienced a moment of self doubt (I believe that self doubt is a very good thing to have in medicine) and wondered if I should precribe the patient a "stronger' antibiotic; stronger can be construed to mean newer, more expensive and broader spectrum. I thought to myself, "wait, the severity of the patients supposed bacterial infection should guide me whether to use a antibiotic or not, not whether to use a newer one". I consulted the Sanford Guide for my choice. As the patient had no history of recent antibiotic use or treatment failures there was no indication to use a newer drug. But the act of doubting troubled me. Was it because I am working with colleagues that rarely use older generic drugs, was it because my patient base mistakenly demands the newest drugs, or am I the victim of too much pharmaceutical detailing? I am visted by drug reps at least three times a day, and ther constant quotation of industry sponsored studies must have some effect. Or perhaps I am just an average American that assumes that newer and more expensive must be better?

if America were Iraq

by John at 9/22/2004 11:21:00 AM

What would it be like? (from Juan Cole)


share and enjoy

by John at 9/21/2004 01:13:00 PM

Why not take an evening off from hating your life and listen to the first of six new episodes of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on BBC Radio 4, starting, well, right about now.

If you are out of range of BBC 4, you can listen to each of the episodes on the web live (RealPlayer required), or for seven days after the repeat airing on Thursdays.

Share and Enjoy
Share and Enjoy
Journey through life
With a plastic boy
Or girl by your side
Let your pal be your guide
And when it breaks down
Or starts to annoy
Or grinds when it moves
And gives you no joy
Cos it's eaten your hat
Or had sex with your cat
Bled oil on your floor
Or ripped off your door
You get to the point
You can't stand any more
Bring it to us, we won't give a fig
We'll tell you, 'Go stick your head in a pig'.


invitation to another game

by John at 9/20/2004 04:29:00 PM



by John at 9/20/2004 01:27:00 PM

I'm back with a blogging vengeance today, as my helpful computer assistant runs thousands of simulations, using a home-grown genetic algorithm coupled with more traditional nonlinear least squares (interior-reflective Newton method) to try to find a global optimum on a five-dimensional error surface. I don't think it is going to work. Maybe I should try Levenberg-Marquardt or Gauss-Newton instead?

While waiting, I read two fascinating articles in the UC Berkeley News about George Lakoff. Lakoff is a professor of linguistics and cognitive science at Cal and is an expert on "framing." He describes it:
Language always comes with what is called "framing." Every word is defined relative to a conceptual framework. If you have something like "revolt," that implies a population that is being ruled unfairly, or assumes it is being ruled unfairly, and that they are throwing off their rulers, which would be considered a good thing. That's a frame.

If you then add the word "voter" in front of "revolt," you get a metaphorical meaning saying that the voters are the oppressed people, the governor is the oppressive ruler, that they have ousted him and this is a good thing and all things are good now. All of that comes up when you see a headline like "voter revolt" — something that most people read and never notice. But these things can be affected by reporters and very often, by the campaign people themselves.

Here are some excerpts from the articles:

"Framing the issues: UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language to dominate politics"

Back up for a second and explain what you mean by the strict father and nurturant parent frameworks.

Well, the progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as governmental protection in form of a social safety net and government regulation, universal education (to ensure competence, fairness), civil liberties and equal treatment (fairness and freedom), accountability (derived from trust), public service (from responsibility), open government (from open communication), and the promotion of an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values, which are traditional progressive values in American politics.

The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline — physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world.

So, project this onto the nation and you see that to the right wing, the good citizens are the disciplined ones — those who have already become wealthy or at least self-reliant — and those who are on the way. Social programs, meanwhile, "spoil" people by giving them things they haven't earned and keeping them dependent. The government is there only to protect the nation, maintain order, administer justice (punishment), and to provide for the promotion and orderly conduct of business. In this way, disciplined people become self-reliant. Wealth is a measure of discipline. Taxes beyond the minimum needed for such government take away from the good, disciplined people rewards that they have earned and spend it on those who have not earned it.

"Linguistics professor George Lakoff dissects the "war on terror" and other conservative catchphrases"

You've said that progressives should never use the phrase "war on terror" — why?

There are two reasons for that. Let's start with "terror." Terror is a general state, and it's internal to a person. Terror is not the person we're fighting, the "terrorist." The word terror activates your fear, and fear activates the strict father model, which is what conservatives want. The "war on terror" is not about stopping you from being afraid, it's about making you afraid.

Next, "war." How many terrorists are there — hundreds? Sure. Thousands? Maybe. Tens of thousands? Probably not. The point is, terrorists are actual people, and relatively small numbers of individuals, considering the size of our country and other countries. It's not a nation-state problem. War is a nation-state problem.

What about the "war on drugs" or the "war on poverty"?

Those are metaphorical. Real wars are wars against countries, and in the "war on terror," we are attacking countries. But those countries are not the same as the terrorists. We're acting at the wrong level. Meanwhile, by using this frame, we get a commander in chief, as the Republicans keep referring to Bush — a "war president" with "war powers," which imply that ordinary protections don't have to be observed. A "war president" has extraordinary powers. And the "war on terror," of course, never ends. There's no peace treaty with terror. It's a prescription for keeping conservatives in power indefinitely. In three words — "war on terror" — they've enacted vast political changes.

His words are almost hypnotically convincing to me, evidence that he is framing the terms in ways with which I naturally identify. A progressive svengali, if you will. I'm definitely going to look for his books on my next trip to the library. They are Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think and Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.

nigh unbelievable

by John at 9/20/2004 11:45:00 AM

Story time, so get comfortable.

Those of you following the insubstantial minutiae of my life may recall that a little over a month ago I broke Wendy's laptop during a game of ball with the dogs.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I found out that it would cost $1173.25 to fix the darn thing and decided that we were just going to buy a new laptop instead, and that it would probably be a super-cool Apple iBook or PowerBook. We even looked at some models at the Apple store, and were only waiting for the new Apple store to open at one of the malls in Delaware (late Sept or early Oct, they said) so we could buy one sales tax free. I know, we could have bought one at Best Buy or Circuit City or CompUSA, but for some reason we wanted to get it at an Apple store. It might have been the cool, minimalist decor.

Anyway, because it cost too much to fix the old laptop, I told them to just send it back to me without repairing it. I wanted to make sure the hard drive was wiped clean of our data, and I thought I might use it as a backup drive in my desktop if I could figure out how to mount it securely. I was willing to pay return shipping for that.

Two days later FedEx tried to deliver it, and because my signature-waiver-on-file wasn't good enough for this package, I had to rush over to the FedEx shipping center near my house to get it the night before we left for our trip to Los Angeles. Short for time, I just popped open the box to make sure everything was inside and that they hadn't tried to charge me a lot of money for not fixing it. I had expected to pay their shipping cost and labor (someone had to work on it to figure out why it was broken) so I was surprised to find that there were no charges at all. I still half-expect to get a bill from them, so we will see how that turns out.

One week later, a day after returning from LA, I finally took the old laptop out of the shipping box, got out my littlest Phillips screwdriver, and prepared to take out the hard drive. On a lark, I thought I'd press the power button, as I had done fruitlessly so many times before.

Holy crap - it turned on! LEDs flashed, fans came on, and things spun up. The BIOS showed the Vaio logo on the screen and sang it's short song. Then it stopped - "Operating system not found." Well, that wasn't great, but holy crap, it was on. I ran upstairs to show Wendy.

I don't remember our conversation. I remember that we were both disappointed that if it worked, we might not be getting a cool iBook after all. But first I had to see if I could get it to boot up.

I grabbed the system repair DVDs that Wendy had intelligently made a few days after we originally purchased the computer, and went downstairs to work on it again. Sony had warned us that the technicians would probably erase any data on the drive during their repair attempts, but I expected that they would have re-installed the factory image after that. I figured that maybe my repair refusal had aborted all action on my computer except putting it in a box and shipping it back, and that explained the blank drive. I put the repair DVDs in the drive and went through the repair process. First time, I used an option that was supposed to reset only the C partition to the factory image. That didn't boot. Next, I used the option that restored the factory image on both the C and D partitions, but that didn't boot either. Finally, I decided to repartition the whole thing and install the factory image. That also didn't boot.

Maybe we would get an iBook after all. I thought that the drive wasn't being recognized because some part of the motherboard got fried by the coffee spill (I knew the drive had been okay because I was able to get the data off it and onto my desktop before sending it out for repair). I went to the BIOS setup and sure enough, the only IDE device was the secondary DVD drive - the primary hard drive wasn't showing up.

So, I got my littlest screwdriver again and opened up the hard drive cover on the bottom of the laptop. It looked like all the pins were okay, so I unscrewed the mounting bolts and took the drive out. I knew then that the motherboard was probably okay and that I had unnecessarily erased all the old data on the drive in my attempt to reset (and repartition) it to get the computer to boot. Can you guess the problem? I know I haven't spelled it all out here explicitly, but the solution is there.

Give up? I left the jumper in the slave position on the hard drive when I put it back in the laptop after rescuing its data to my desktop. Because the desktop already had a master drive, the laptop hard drive had to be the slave, and I had to put that little jumper on it. Because of the jumper, the laptop BIOS couldn't find the primary IDE device it was expecting. This may also explain why the repair techs thought nearly everything was wrong with my laptop when they tried to fix it. Nothing they did worked! They couldn't even reset a factory image on the drive, so the DVD must also be broken, too!

Anyway, to make a long story less long, after removing the jumper, everything booted up nicely, and I copied all our old data and a few apps back to the nice, clean Sony, single partition install. By Friday evening, everything important was back in place and the computer was fully functional.

The bad news is no cool iBook for us (yet). The good news is we saved a couple thousand dollars.

Yet, a mystery remains: why did the laptop not power up when I sent it away, yet it powered up with no problem when it came back, reportedly without any repairs being made? I feel bad because I think the repair technician might have accidentally left a new power supply (or even more, like the motherboard and DVD drive they wanted to replace as well) in the computer before shipping it back. I think I can live with my guilt though. Perhaps it is a big dose of instant-karma for all the times I gave back the extra change a cashier had over-returned.


Where Have I Been?

by Wendy at 9/16/2004 10:55:00 PM

Philadelphia Dragon Boat FestivalLately, if you've needed to find me on an evening or weekend, the best place to look would be on the river running through downtown Philadelphia. I've been in training because for the second year in a row, I will be paddling in the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival. Dragon boat racing is an ancient sport that can be traced back thousands of years to early China. In this modern version, along with a team of 19 other people and one drummer, I will be paddling down the Schuykill River in a thrilling race against more than 100 other teams.

While Dragon Boating is great exercise and a heck of a lot of fun, I am doing this for one simple reason - to fight cancer. According to the CDC, cancer is the second leading cause of death among Americans, causing 1 in every 4 of the deaths in this country. In 2004, over 1500 people per day - that's about 1 person every minute - are expected to die in this country due to cancer.

The Dragon Boat Festival benefits the Fox Chase Cancer Center . Not only has Fox Chase established a 100 bed cancer treatment facility near Philadelphia, it has also benefited cancer patients worldwide through an almost 70-year history of innovative cancer research which continues to this day. The money raised from the festival will go to support Fox Chase in all its efforts to fight cancer in the wide-reaching areas of education, prevention, and treatment.

Please stop and think for just one moment. Without a doubt, you know personally someone whose life has been touched by this devastating disease. Please show your support to them by visiting my personal pledge site and pledging your support. My personal target is to reach $200 in pledges. Even a donation of $5 will help me reach that goal. If you wish, you can make anonymous pledges (though I won't be able to thank you personally for them) or contribute offline by check (please contact me for my mailing address).

Lastly - if you, like me, believe that fighting cancer is of utmost importance, please pass the link on to others you think might be interested in supporting the cause.

Thank you!

ING Lionhearted


Liberal Pop Quiz

by Weisshaupt at 9/15/2004 06:19:00 PM

Hi All,

You'll be glad to know that I am reading Reason: Why Liberals will Win the Battle for America. I tried to get it from the library, cuase I hate giving guys like this money, but it was checked out and already had a hold on it. Just as well, now I can highlight and write snide comments inside it to my hearts content. Reading it is little like being the poor helpless computer that Captain Kirk is talking to death. Luckily, I don't have to accept Captain Kirk's statements as truth, or I would be in trouble.

Anyway, While I am only halfway I couldn't wait to comment on this one (pg. 135-136).
Here he describes the Ike and Mike $10 Experiment, where two students are offered $10 by a hypothetical 3rd party, but Ike gets to decide how much the other student gets, otherwise the two of them get nothing. Even though something is better than nothing, Mike usually will take nothing over a low offer, because it isn't "fair"

Now translate this to the national economy and ask yourself the following questions:

Where do the $10 bills ultimately come from?
Why did the donor have the $10 in the first place?
Who is making the offer to share the money?
Why does the party offering the money have the right to make the offer?
What did the receiver do to deserve his share of the money?
What incentives does it create for the source of the $10 bill?
What incentives does it create for the person who receives it?
What will be the long term effects of this system?
What do property rights and choice of economic system have to do with this example?

Extra Credit:
Why is a study about monkeys that trade tokens for cucumber and get upset when one monkey gets a grape(deemed a better prize)instead not relevant to this discussion?


Buckaroo Bonzai

by Bill at 9/12/2004 03:23:00 PM

Amy and I just finsihed watching The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension; still a fantastic movie. But What about the sequel? Buckaroo Bonzai Against the World crime League, turns out the script for that became Big trouble in Little China. I think that twenty years later it is time for the sequel to be made. they could have the same cast, only older or hire a new cast. What about Vince Vaughn as Buckaroo, and Owen Wilson as Perfect Tommy?


changing the debate

by John at 9/09/2004 01:09:00 PM

From Reuters: U.S. Declares Genocide in Sudan's Darfur

"We concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility and genocide may still be occurring," Secretary of State Colin Powell said in testimony prepared for delivery to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In the context of history, these are profound words. While the U.S. does not consider the declaration of genocide to impose significant legal obligations, the use of the term should influence the debate.

On the Security Council, I think that China is the only nation putting up serious opposition to U.N. intervention in Sudan. We have leverage over them in the form of oil and trade, and we should use that leverage to get the Security Council to agree on action. Australia, the UK, Nigeria and Rwanda have already expressed their desire to provide peacekeeping forces and logistical support for the same.

What happens next is up to us.

Keep up with developments at Sudan: The Passion of the Present

Update: You can read the official text of Mr. Powell's testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee here.

You can send a comment to Mr. Powell here.


The most dangerous job in the world?

by Bill at 9/08/2004 07:28:00 PM


laptop update

by John at 9/08/2004 04:23:00 PM

Good and bad news.

Bad news first. It will cost $1173.25 to repair Wendy's coffee-damaged 6-month old Sony VAIO. They want to replace the keyboard, motherboard, powersupply, and DVD-RW, among a couple of other things (like thermal sheet for the CPU). This is in addition to the money I paid to insure it and to ship it to them. (I can't believe a few drops of coffee killed the whole thing - I have my suspicions, especially since no coffee actually touched the keyboard...)

The good news is there is no way I am paying that much to fix it, so we are getting a new laptop! The top contenders right now are the Apple 14" iBook (with Superdrive upgrade) or the 12" PowerBook ("It's cute."). I'm not ruling out a PC either, and we have looked at the Sony Vaio A and S series. Prices for the two Apples seem comparable to a similarly fitted-out PC notebook.

Wrapping up, I'd appreciate any recommendations on other laptops we should consider.


Invitation to a game

by Bill at 9/07/2004 01:53:00 AM

I one the sandbox.


Right Between the Eyes

by Michelle at 9/04/2004 10:26:00 PM


fictious speech from Momamar Al-McCain

by Bill at 9/03/2004 09:49:00 PM

So it is, whether we wished it or not, that we have come to the test of our generation, to our rendezvous with destiny.

And much is expected of us.

We are engaged in a hard struggle against a cruel and determined adversary.

Our enemies have made clear the danger they pose to our security and to the very essence of our culture — liberty.

Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war. Like all wars, this one will have its ups and downs.

But we must fight.

We must.

The sacrifices borne in our defense are not shared equally by all Muslims.

But all Muslims must share a resolve to see this war through to a just end.

We must not be complacent at moments of success, and we must not despair over setbacks.

We must learn from our mistakes, improve on our successes, and vanquish this unpardonable enemy.

If we do less, we will fail the one mission no Muslim generation has ever failed — to provide to our children a stronger, better country than the one we were blessed to inherit.

just a matter of opinion

by John at 9/03/2004 04:31:00 PM

I guess.

George Bush, 9/2/2004:

"Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home base of al-Qaida, Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups, Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fundraising, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat, and al-Qaida was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks. Today, the government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror, Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders, Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests, Libya is dismantling its weapons programs, the army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom, and more than three-quarters of al-Qaida's key members and associates have been detained or killed. We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer."

MSNBC, 9/2/2004:

"Of the roughly 2,929 terrorism-related deaths around the world since the attacks on New York and Washington, the NBC News analysis shows 58 percent of them — 1,709 — have occurred this year.

In the past 10 days, in fact, the number of dead has risen by 142 people in places as diverse as Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel. On Tuesday, the number of civilians killed by terrorists totaled 38 — 10 at a subway entrance bombing in Moscow, 16 in a bus bombing in Israel and 12 Nepalese executed in Iraq.

Moreover, the level of sophistication is increasing. Terrorism experts point in particular to the attacks apparently carried out by Chechen rebels during that 10-day period. The rebels, whose top military commanders have been Arabs, are operating at a whole different level."


Judicial Activism

by Weisshaupt at 9/02/2004 06:35:00 PM

This is a brilliant article by Thomas Sowell that describes what Judicial Activism is and provides a good, working defintion for it. I humbly ask those of you to disagree with me on the subject to read this, as it does a far better job of describing my concerns than I can with my stunted communications skills (I am an engineer)

Judicial Activism is NOT merely the disagreement with whatever decision was handed down (as some have asserted) but is in fact a problem with the leeway being taken in the process of judicial review. The leeway that is being taken establishes precedent for further acts of usurpation, and should be a concern for everyone in this country. While by and large, the self-righteous left is in control at the moment, it could be the Self-righteous right tomorrow and it is a serious threat to our liberty. The judiciary should not be setting public policy, it is the purview of the people and their duly elected legislatures.

If you believe there are problems that should be corrected or new rights that should be protected by the Constitution, the founding fathers gave the people a method of modifying the document. Its called an amendment, and the amendment process ensures that the protections and powers given to the government are placed there by the people and for the people. Allowing a small group of jurists to modify the meanings of the document to suit modern tastes opens a door to add provisions to our government that were not placed there by the people, and there-in the usurpation lies.

Do you have any Hard Evidence of that?

by Weisshaupt at 9/02/2004 03:48:00 PM

There are a number of factors which affect economic performance. President Bush inherited an economy in which Corporate and Big Labor Scandals were out of hand, and an economic downturn was in progress. September 11th caused huge economic damage on top of these factors and growth is still depressed by fears of terrorist attacks. However, Real Wages didn’t fall over this period (But growth in real wages did) as would have been expected. The BLS has also revised its GNP numbers so that there now was no Textbook Recession in 2001. Unemployment numbers are at/near the historical average (5.62%) And the number of jobs lost/gained depends on which Government survey you are looking at. One says good jobs are being created, the other shows a divergent lag. Some argue for the household survey being right, others for the Payroll survey. The BLS compared the two and recently decided which one was right, and admitted it had overstated job losses by 251,000. I wouldn’t count on hearing that from the Democrats or the National Media. In 1Q2004, only 2% of the jobs lost went to overseas workers via outsourcing . Outsourcing is a reflection of market forces and the economy is not a closed system. A Job outsourced is not a job lost. Compared to Europe, even impoverished Americans live well, and Europeans have “lost” more jobs to outsourcing than Americans have.

The “
poor” in the United States pay no federal income tax, and the “rich” have the majority of the burden. It is therefore impossible to give a Federal Income Tax cut to the poor. You can subsidize other taxes through the use of Federal income tax credits, but as this is welfare in disguise and it is extra cost, not extra revenue. As for Bush’s Tax cuts for the “Rich”, they affected many who earned under $50,000 and seem to be a factor in spurring the economy (it could have been worse). As for the recent CBO report and the increasing burden on the middle class, well, someday reporters might learn to read….

Demographics enter into the picture
because tax liabilities differ by household and households differ from each other (number of children, married single etc). For instance, if you are “rich” chances are you are married or own a business. Then there is the whole question if a tax system’s goal is to fund the Federal Government or to redistribute the wealth of its citizens. Even if it is the latter, the demographics involved need to be accounted for in order to have a clear picture of who is impacted by a taxes and how. It should also be noted that “Class Warfare” is virtually non-existent in the United States. Everyone seems to assume that the impoverished are the same people from year to year, where in reality, very few people remain “poor” in the United States for even a few years, while very few of the rich are born into that “class” and remain there.
Different measures of poverty do not always take into account other forms of wealth (houses and stocks) , tax rebates, welfare, and other factors such as time worked (most College Students will be counted as in poverty even though their parents are still caring for them as well as those who work only part of a year due to a job loss)

Changes in Taxes influence the revenue of the federal government, but also influence future revenues depending on how the tax changes (as well as dozens of other factors) affect the future economy. The Economy is a
chaotic function with many variables. We are trying to maximize one variable (tax revenues) over a period of time. Being Chaotic, the economy does not follow simple rules and lowering taxes may spur the economy on with better revenues the next year, or it may cause interest rates to soar (via increased public debt) and slow the economy so revenues the next year are poor. This all depends on multiple factors ( tax laws, current economic status (boon or bust) , the actions of individuals, other countries, acts of god, and the speed of butterfly wings.) most of which are outside of governmental control

Spending is entirely a different matter. The key to not having a deficit is to stop spending money that isn’t collected. Both Candidates are trying to deal with the Deficit and Public Debt problems via the manipulation of tax code (
educated guessing and intuition) but what is needed is to reduce the spending (on which Bush has an abysmal record). Most of the deficit is due to a shortfall in revenue projections and increases in spending that have nothing to do with the Bush Tax Cuts and even if Kerry gets his way with taxes, very little will happen to the current level of the Deficit (Can anyone show me in the “Plan For America” where Kerry plans to cut?) Meanwhile, Kerry’s proposed increase in the Minimum Wage, ignores the demographics of who earns minimum wage, (for instance teenagers) and will decrease the number of jobs available. (A little supply and demand lesson anyone?)

Headline Bias

by Weisshaupt at 9/02/2004 03:43:00 PM

This is a cool little example. Click on the picture to get to the original article.

Still not as good as the one I saw in my paper last week where wages were both stagnant and falling at the same time...


by Bill at 9/02/2004 02:53:00 PM

turning the corner
stay the course
flip flop
turning the corner
stay the course
stay the course
flip flop
flip flop
flip flop
turning the corner
stay the course
stay the course
stay the course
stay the course
stay the course
turning the corner
turning the corner
stay the course

repeat for four years and vote Republican

Putting the Ture Back in Architecture

by Bill at 9/02/2004 02:19:00 PM

I don't know what the title means either, I just couldn't think of anything else.

I have been really interested in alternative home designs, probably becuase I'm a renter and don't have first hand knowledge of the pitfalls of home ownership. Amy came across this in Sunset magazine and we both thought it was cool. And of course there are earthships. Earthships are cool, of course they aren't insanely cool like Kaiju Big Battel, but cool nonetheless. Anyone else know of cool alternative home designs?

Kerry for President

by John at 9/02/2004 08:32:00 AM

The Seattle Times, despite backing Bush in 2000, endorses John Kerry for President.


Just in time for Christmas

by Bill at 9/01/2004 02:26:00 PM

A new version of the Hitchiker's Guide To the Galaxy game will be relaesed.

insane. cool. insanely cool?

by John at 9/01/2004 11:08:00 AM

Kaiju Big Battel!

Kaiju Big Battel is a modern conflict of epic proportions. Planet Earth is under threat: scattered throughout the galaxy is a monstrous mob of maniacal villains, menacing alien beasts, and giant, city-crushing monsters that are waging war against one another. Presiding over this mayhem is the Kaiju Commissioner, an enigmatic human-arbiter appointed by a clandestine cadre of world leaders to regulate Kaiju rage. If the Kaiju Commissioner doesn't do his job perfectly the entire world could get caught in the crossfire.

Xeni Jardin from BoingBoing explains it here.

"It's their job to ensure that these events continue as a safe form of monster therapy," says Woods. "Monsters who have legitimate grudges need to work things out without destroying Cleveland in the process."

Unfortunately, I will not be in Los Angeles until September 10, so I will miss it. I already missed the Philadelphia show due to regrettable ignorance.

More on sources

by Bill at 9/01/2004 01:41:00 AM

Okay, I'm probably being a jerk right now but I have a lot of free time. I'll start back up at work next week, I promise.

There is a fundamental fallacy in condemning the source, rather than the information itself. Bias is NOT falsehood. Some of what is reported may be true, some of it false, some of it in the grey area in between.