Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Want my Money Back

Have you followed what we've been up to in the US Congress recently? We've done gay marriage, flag burning, line item veto, and a resolution on the war that nobody thought had any chance whatsoever of passing. Just what is going on there? Have they lost their clipboards? I am sure that everyone must have had some fairly extensive to do lists, and any legislator with their eye on actually governing would not have had any of those items on their list.

Weren't we right in the middle of some huge debate over immigration and border security? Did they just decide that was going to be too hard and leave it go? Congratulations everyone, I think we've officially entered the fall election period - so much for governing. Now we only have time for posturing.

It must be possible to look at what an individual pays in a given year in federal taxes and break it back to what percentage goes for what services. Just like I want to call the cable people and demand a pro-rated refund whenever my service gets all Comcastic (you know, sucky), I really feel like I would like to see a pro-rate refund of whatever I paid for the last two weeks of congressional operations. Whomever they were working for this last little while, it certainly hasn't been me.

Don't these guys know there's a war on? Or at least some kind of un-officially declared but congressionally sanctioned military intervention. You would think we have important things to do. Weren't they going to save social security? Did they get around to that yet? I seem to recall something about education reform. I don't recall anything actually happening. I think we were supposed to be going to Mars. To my observation nobody is packing or anything. Wasn't there a Medicare emergency? Rebuilding the gulf coast? Fixing FEMA?

Gay Marriage...
Flag Burning...
Line Item Veto...
War Posturing...

I don't have the congressional agenda, but can partial birth abortion be too far off? I understand this fall they are going to add a harmony to the gay marriage debate and take up gay adoption. With all the time legislators spend talking about it you would think that the country was like 75% homosexual. I haven't talked to everyone, but I am fairly certain that's not really the case.

I find at work now that things have really shifted to a service mentality. How is it that attitude hasn't gotten to government - you know: public servants? At the moment I feel like the service sucks. Respectfully I think I would like a refund. I bet I'm not alone.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I am in love with the Discovery Channel. It is something I will just have to work on. Recently, the show Dirty Jobs has caused me to consider something I never thought I would: What is the best use for table leavings?

A few weeks ago Mike Rowe introduced us to a gentleman in Las Vegas who has come up with an innovative way to run his ranch. Well, I say ranch, but I guess its really a farm. Really what it is is some kind of pig factory. I think it is getting difficult to tell the difference between a farm and a factory. Anyway, whatever words you use this guy grows pigs. Naturally if you grow livestock you need feed. I assume that typically feed is one of the more expensive things you have to provide for you animals. He's solved this in a fairly interesting way.

Have you been to Vegas? To a Vegas buffet? Do you wonder what happens to the food at the buffet that doesn't get eaten? Really with all the buffets and even with all the visitors, when I lived in Vegas I was always under the impression that an awful lot of food must wind up in the dumpster. Turns out there are people making good use of the waste. This guy goes to get the leftovers from the casinos, hauls it off to the farm in the desert, filters out all of the non food waste and turns it into hog feed. The process is filthy, and I guess this is the only way we find out about it because it very much was a dirty job.

The scale we're looking at here is fairly small, and they didn't say so, but I got the feeling that we were only looking at the leavings from a couple of hotels. But the thought is sound, and actually it seems that the grade of food the animals got was probably better than standard animal feed, since hours before it was people feed - fairly high end people feed at that.

But animal feed is only the beginning. Someone else has thought of a somewhat larger scale way to deal with food waste. Another dirty job as it turns out and so another segment on the same show. The city of San Francisco has created what for lack of better terminology is a giant mechanical digestive track. They do the same kind of sorting process - although here it was interesting to see that cardboard cartons are just as much food as food is, but they did sort out other things: palettes, phones, cutlery and the like.

They take the food material that is left and make farts. Farts to power generators.

You know the kids joke "save gas, fart in a jar?" They've taken it to heart, and seriously, and made it work.

The food matter is run through a pulverizer and then is trucked to a chemical vat - the "stomach" where they produce vast volumes of methane gas, something we all do on a somewhat smaller scale. That gas is then burned for energy. They didn't talk about that part of the operation but I assume we're talking about boilers for turbine generators. What they showed as about a semi trailer full of waste food apparently can power 1000 homes for one day.

Actually, I am not sure how good an energy source that figure turns out to be. But, it must pay for itself, and it is by far better than rotting away in a landfill. Where I grew up there was a landfill we used to drive by every now and then. At night you could actually see blue flames burning from pipes they'd sunk into the ground. They were burning off the naturally occurring methane before it built up and exploded.

Using table scraps to power methane generators is a fairly interesting application. But is it better than using the food for, you know, food? I guess I am fairly at a loss to decide whether electrical power or animal feed is a better outcome here. Really, the other dimension to the whole discussion is whether either use is good when there are so many people who don't have enough to eat. One would think that before we come up with innovative ways to use waste food we ought to try to minimize the actual amount of waste food. Banana peels and apple cores are one thing, but at least in the Vegas instance of this discussion a goodly amount of what was being used was actually wasted food, rather than food waste.

So I guess based on that I vote for methane since that seemed to use a wider range of material, some of which nobody would ever eat for food.

Interesting stuff though. Food for thought, if you will.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Peg Wants More Kittens

Here's Petra and Bean relaxing in the kitten chair. They've put on some weight, but both have the sneezes. So for the time being they remain segregated from the rest of the family.

Probability that we are keeping them is now fairly high.

Woohoo Mrs. B!!!

News from the "Real World": Stage Review: Troupe opens with a fine 'Oedipus'

Hits or Comments?

I am trying to write often so as to drive the blogsound off the page...

Speaking of, the occasion of my 30,000th hit has caused a question to form in my mind: Which is better, lots of hits or lots of comments?

I guess like all things it depends on the index. Certainly if you have a commercial site then it is all about hits. Even if it isn't a commercial site, having a large number of steady hits is nice - good for the self esteem. But does it really mean anything? Are these hit repeat readers that care about what they might see, or are they people that have stumbled onto your site as a mistaken part of a net search or simply by hitting the "next blog" button?

In my head, I like to think that the 55 hits per day I average at this site are mostly repeaters. I'm probably mistaken. The referral display on its own shows many more random hits every day. Mostly its people that follow the link to my page while searching. Often it seems like it is people searching for "Tom Lycus" or for "Wicked Weasel." I don't pay the surcharge on my counter to see what the most searched term is, but I would bet on "Wicked Weasel." That's cool, because I like promoting their product, it's why there's a link on the page. Interestingly, the other reference is a misspelling. It should be "Leykis." I wonder how many hits that correction will generate. Sometimes the referral is a search by the name of someone I have mentioned at one time or another on the page. I am officially starting a policy with regard to this. Each time I see a hit from a referral like that I am going to write to that person. Seems like a good way to keep in touch. The referral thing doesn't show the hits from the "next blog" button, the blogger domain is excluded. If I look through the stats on the counter I see those though. Something on the order of 10 per day.

So what, 55 average hits less 10-15 referrals, less 10 nextblog equals what, 30 other hits? Could we call them subscribers? Repeaters? People with a lot of time on their hands? Its not the New York Times, is it?

Still, a year ago I only averaged 30 hits per day, and the year before that 18; and those probably had proportional contributions from the other sources too. So, I'm up. That's nice.

This blog has never had real comment traffic. I don't know what to make of that. Perhaps I simply always present a complete argument. Perhaps the people reading think that commenting: "shut up you total moron" wouldn't be productive. Part of it is I think that Blogger isn't really as conducive to comments as some of the other net destinations. MySpace and LiveJournal are both more comment friendly. They encourage the development of response threads. Blogger mostly just dead ends. Here I get one or two comments every third or fourth post. Its nice to hear from people.

I have a friend who's blog I read gets something on the order of 15 comments per post. People comment almost every post, and sometimes they comment multiple times. It's amazing and I am jealous. I doubt that site has 30,000 hits, but somehow I think the bounty of comments says more than a counter in the margin.

Do you think people on TV or writers for papers and magazines are the same way? Does getting a letter from a viewer mean more to them than their Nielson rating? Or is this strictly a creature of the more personal blog world?

At what point does a blog become a mass media thing and not a personal correspondence thing? That would seem easy to answer. I would imagine it happens about the time you have to turn off your comments because you are getting too much from too many people. Certainly it isn't about hits, about bandwidth. It would seem that a person writing a blog would get irritated be tangential comments long before a host would get bothered by the total transfer.

Would that prove comments are the more desirable? At least until there are too many to manage, and then you switch over and measure success by hits?

Actually that would seem to be something worth thinking about as well. What defines success for a blog site, and does it have anything at all to do with hits or comments or is it more just about having a place to put one's thoughts? That would certainly divorce it from TV or other mass media. Very few TV shows are made just for the process of making the show. That has to be the case with the majority of blogs.

Around and around with no real conclusion I am afraid. To my 2 or 3 commenters every third post or so, thank you for commenting. And to my 55 per day average hit people, thanks for the regular attention. Whatever the measure, I'm enjoying the typing.

Friday, June 23, 2006

More About That Frontline

Its a couple days later now and I am still buzzing about that episode of Frontline I watched the other night. One of the things that has stuck in my head above all others was the story of one of the early "reditions" from Afghanistan.

A rendition is where the CIA takes someone captured off the battlefield and then moves them to a place of unknown disclosure for questioning. I'm not saying its just we who don't know, the person being moved doesn't know; and I'm not talking about around town, I mean across the globe. Many of these journeys have ended for prisoners in Cuba, but this particular story was about someone from before we had really set up there (although I did think I understood from what was presented that the detainee base in Cuba was on the board prior to our even going to battle - I hadn't known that).

This story was about someone captured during at Tora Bora, I think it was operation anaconda. It was the time that listening now you can be fairly certain that we knew where Bin Laden was, but made an insufficient troop deployment to get the capture. People rage on and on about this incident, about how if we had been focused on Afghanistan instead of already leaning toward Iraq that we would have captured or killed him there. I am not sure if I believe that. We can't secure the border between Arizona and Mexico. I think that trying to secure the terrain between Afghanistan and Pakistan may just be asking too much, of anyone, with any amount of resources.

Anyway, Bin Laden, injured, slips into Pakistan and leaves some number two level guy in charge and he is eventually captured. He is pulled aside from other captives and is subject to a rendition to Egypt. In the episode they say:

He was sent to Egypt to be tortured, everyone who had ever worked on Egypt knew he would be tortured.
This really bugs me. On the one hand, it bothers me because we're the good guys and we're not supposed to do that sort of thing. But, ok, we're at war, new kind of war, whatever, President authorizes, blah blah blah. Fine. Except, over and over again people have been in front of the public to say we don't torture people and we don't send people into the custody of other countries to be tortured.

Why is it necessary to lie to us? Why not just refuse to answer on the grounds of national security. There's some word parsing game going on here I am sure... "We transferred those prisoners because of an overcapacity problem in our holding areas, that they would be tortured was never our intent" or something, fits the denial. Its sick.

If you are going to be an international hard ass, then you should really own up to being an international hard ass. "We're doing what we believe is necessary within the limits as set by the President in time of war." Likely the press won't let you stand on that, but we're all adept at spin these days. There's plenty that could be said without issuing a flat denial of something we actually were doing. In fact, I think it would actually help perception of prisoner treatment in our own facilities if people would know that we had to go to someone else for mistreatment. As is, I am much more likely to believe that this sort of tragedy is happening in our own facilities.

Eventually intelligence yielded from the torture investigation of this individual yielded the link between Al Queda and Iraq that the administration wanted. He was the one that asserted that Saddam had offered chemical weapons training to Al Queda operatives. And of course, he later recanted - after the administration used that item to help bulldoze their path into Iraq.

What was it that Picard said we had learned about torture by the 24th century? That it had never been a reliable means for gaining of information. When Harry Callahan stood on Scorpio's wounded leg on the 50 yard line the girl was already dead. I wonder just how useful this sort of thing really is. And, if it actually is useful, and we actually are doing it, then I think we should be up front about what we are doing and do the "ends justify the means" thing - talk about all the lives that have been saved. Justify it and defend it rather than do it and deny it.

Problem there is likely that nobody can really make a good case to justify it right? And that it leaves our own troops subject to the same treatment if captured in the future. But does simply denying it protect them from it if in the end it is an open secret that we did it? And really, when people from our side are just as likely to be murdered as prisoners rather than held, does it matter? Hard questions. But if we truly are at war, these are the sort of things we ought to be sorting through aren't they?

I am sorting through them, and all I did was watch a TV show.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


My folks have made an addition to their front lawn...

We have a lot of landscaping to do at our house as well. Do you think I should go to them for advice?

Mandatory Viewing

I have a confession to make. In my heart of hearts I am still hoping Bush & Cheney were right. I hope every day that there will be a newscast that reports that someone like the Israelis have uncovered and destroyed an enormous cache of chemical weapons that were smuggled from Iraq to Syria at the top of the war. Really I do. It would be a good thing I think for them to be able to stand on national television and tell us all that they really were right all along.

Unfortunately, the cynical person in me thinks that there would be nobody more surprised at making that announcement than Bush & Cheney. Which, really is too bad.

Tonight while once again trying desperately to be interested in the NBA, and mostly because it was in high definition I caught an episode of Frontline: The Dark Side. Now certainly there will people that will say that PBS and Frontline have some kind of liberal bias. Those people are entitled to their fantasy life just like the rest of us. But for anyone who can be convinced that Frontline is in fact news and not commentary, this episode should be mandatory viewing.

Actually, I found myself thinking that they should put it on film and run it in movie theatres. That way people could pay the proper amount of attention rather than flipping every few minutes to try to catch the score.

From the Frontline Page:

After 9/11, Vice President Richard Cheney seized the initiative. He pushed to expand executive power, transform America's intelligence agencies and bring the war on terror to Iraq. But first he had to take on George Tenet's CIA for control over intelligence.
Basically it is the story of how Nixon era people around the President have manipulated policy, politics, the press, public opinion, and intelligence to take the office of the President and our country in a direction concurrent with their vision. The show lines out with glaring clarity how all of the tentpoles of Colin Powell's speech to the UN were fundamentally flawed, and demonstrates through people that were involved in the work the there was absolutely no way we could not have known at that time that they were flawed.

Someday it will make a wonderful outline for a prosecutor or even a House Manager.

Interestingly, Cheney & Rumsfeld aren't portrayed too badly. Its almost like they are a known quantity, so what were you expecting? Bush comes off pretty well too, as far as not being clueless, and not really being any kind of devious either. The real disappointments in hindsite seem to be George Tenet and Colin Powell, moreso the former than the latter. Somewhere along the way the head of the CIA drank the coolaid and any chance the country had for honest discourse went right out the window.

Anyway, its very well done although sad and depressing. Something everyone should have to see, if only to know who to be afraid of in the future. The connection to the Nixon era legacy was new to me and very interesting. Be sure to catch the episode yourself - soon you'll even be able to watch it online.

Unless, of course, I get my news report afterall and PBS turns out to be wrong. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006



Play the Blogsound!!!

All I Have To Say Is

God Forbid!

Clearance Sale

Your Final Quiz Score: 33 right out of a possible 60
The Monkey's Final Score: 11 right out of 60
You asserted your intellectual superiority brilliantly! The monkey is now left contemplating his own inferiority. Where others have failed to claim the mantel of unequivocal dominance over lesser species, you have truly succeeded! Congratulations on besting the ape and reaffirming the capabilities of the human mind. You have done mankind proud.
You scored in the 79th percentile.
(79% of quiz takers scored worse than you)

Your score: 9
Monkey's score: 2
-- Quite a sufficient job.
Your score: 5
Monkey's score: 2
-- You might have done better.
Your score: 10
Monkey's score: 4
-- Well done.
Random Trivia
Your score: 9
Monkey's score: 3
-- A handy defeat of the monkey.

Link: Try to Defeat the Monkey

how jedi are you?
:: by lawrie malen
You Are Guinness

You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.
Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.
When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.
But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.

You Are 56% Open Minded

You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.
Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.
But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.
You're open to considering every possibility - but in the end, you stand true to yourself.

Your IQ Is 110

Your Logical Intelligence is Below Average
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Average
Your General Knowledge is Above Average

Which quiz are you ?
This pointless quiz was made by TMO

You are most like:


You are bold with a dark side. You make clear lines wherever you go, though you color outside of the lines. Many people may just see the surface of you and think you are merely plain, but you have a lot of depth to you as well.

Take this quiz: Which Crayola Box of 8 Color Are You?

Your Stress Level is: 68%

You are prone to stress, and you're probably even pretty stressed right now.
Life's problems seem to pile up on you, and this often makes you feel depressed and burned out.
Learn to take time to relax and enjoy life, even if things are stressful. It's the only wa you'll get through the bad times.

Your Life Path Number is 6

Your purpose in life is to help others
You are very compassionate, and you offer comfort to those around you.
It pains you to see other people hurting, and you do all in your power to help them.
You take on responsibility, and don't mind personal sacrifice. You are the ultimate giver.
In love, you offer warmth and protection to your partner.
You often give too much of yourself, and you rarely put your own needs first.
Emotions tend to rule your decisions too much, especially when it comes to love.
And while taking care of people is great, make sure to give them room to grow on their own.

Your Job Dissatisfaction Level is 59%

Well, you don't have the worst job in the world, but it's not great.
And don't worry, you're not the problem - your company is.
Start looking around for another job, even if you're not totally fed up.
Because in time, you're going to be dying to quit!

You Are Bobby Brainy

Ultra competitive, you will do almost anything to win. From pull ups to pool sharking, you're very talented.
And while everyone is aware of your victories, they still (affectionately) consider you to be a little brat!

You are 80% Scorpio

I am nerdier than 34% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!
Your results:
You are James T. Kirk (Captain)

James T. Kirk (Captain)
Will Riker
Geordi LaForge
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Jean-Luc Picard
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Mr. Scott
Deanna Troi
Beverly Crusher
Mr. Sulu
You are often exaggerated and over-the-top
in your speech and expressions.
You are a romantic at heart and a natural leader.

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 46%
Lifer: 41%
Mandarin: 54%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

Which Eddie Izzard line are you?

"This is a fresh shop! Everything here is fresh! ... I will do well here."
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |
| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

You are most like:

Your cranial ability differential has a strong left bias

You're a real purist nerd. Not distracted by the 1337 wannabe's. Face it - you probably even got the joke in the title of this result.
Keep up the nerd factor - it will likely land you a great job one day or at the very least help you take over the world in less time than you had originally predicted.

Take this quiz: How Nerdy Are You?

Your Birthdate: October 26

You lucked out the the skills to succeed in almost any arena.
Put you in almost any business or classroom, and you'll rise to the top.
You're driven and intense, but you also know when to kick back and cooperate.
Your ability to adapt to almost any situation is part of what's going to make you a success.
Your strength: Your attention to detail
Your weakness: You can be a little too proud of your successes
Your power color: Turquoise
Your power symbol: Arrow pointing up
Your power month: August

Your results:
You are Green Lantern

Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Win the War on Terror

I have gotten pretty used to the President and the other White House people using that phrase, which is to say, when they use it I don't get apoplectic. The other day I heard it come up a couple of times in reporting from the floor of the Congress. We got ourselves passed a bill that said they wouldn't put a deadline on troop removal.

They are going to have to work a lot more hours if they are going to pass a bill for everything they aren't going to do.

But, my apoplexy...

"Win the war on terror." How?

What capitol needs to be taken? What territory needs to be occupied? What icon needs to be captured? What person needs to be toppled? What person needs to be killed? What government needs to be overthrown?

How can we ever win the war on terror?

When one goal is achieved, another will slip in to replace it. Capture Saddam, in comes Moussoui. Pacify Afghanistan, here's Iraq... Iran... Sudan...

It is not a war, it is "whack-a-mole," and anyone who has played that game knows you don't win, the game just ends.

I am all for keeping our country safe, but I really resent the rhetoric designed to froth us up for a process that is illusory. There is no war on terror. There is a military action against the Taliban. There is a military occupation of Iraq. I'm sure there is a clandestine effort against Al Queda - at least I hope so. But the Taliban, Iraq and Al Queda are not "Terror."

Jason Vorhees is terror. Freddy Kruger is terror. And if we learned anything about the embodiment of terror from the movies is that it can't be defeated, on deferred.

What's wrong with identifying real goals and then working to achieve them?

We were struck by terrorists on 9/11. A reasonable outcome from that occurrence:

1. Strike back at those who struck at us.
2. Improve national intelligence efforts.
3. Improve law enforcement practices with regard to terrorism.
4. Work globally to diffuse terrorism.

It seemed like for a while we were going this way. We launched a war against Afghanistan, which we knew to be the government that was harboring the leadership of those that struck at us. We rejiggered our intelligence and first responder communities. And then, then I think things went sadly awry.

I guess the invasion of Iraq can be placed under the heading of diffusing terrorism globally. But really its sort of a messy approach. There were plenty of identifiable terrorist organizations that could have been worked on. The problem is that none of those groups could be invaded. There simply couldn't be a war on terrorism. There's nothing to attack with a navy. Its boring.

A war on terrorism would be a global engagement against insurgents. It isn't really war, its intelligence and law enforcement - and every now and then you might get to blow something or someone up.

There are bodies that have been engaged in "terror wars" for decades without much improvement. Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Israel, they could all tell us something about the mechanics and the possible successes of a war on terror - or the total lack thereof.

Remember when someone prominent was scoffed at for saying it is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time. Well, they were right. A war in Iraq is only a prima facia war on terror. Prior to our destabilization of Iraq they didn't have much of a terrorist population - and there were certainly places that could have been identified that did, if only to go after another existing terrorist organization, or finish up in Afghanistan for that matter. And we went too early, which is not to say that there would never be a right time, but the urgency with which we pressed ahead is really indicative of doing something for the sake of doing something. There was plenty to finish that we had already started abroad. There was plenty to finish in our reconfiguration at home. There was plenty of cause to invest in intelligence gathering before deploying.

That is the genesis of the war on terror.

So if we don't really make headway into a pacification of terrorists around the world in this way, what is it that we do get? Well, we get action for one thing. We're doing something and it is visible. I guess that's worth some points. Although I am perfectly willing to believe that our intelligence assets and special forces are pounding away in the dark, but others may not be. It certainly doesn't make the news in the same way.

The cynical person in me thinks that what we're after here though is hysteria. The opportunity to govern in an environment of elevated energy, impatience, and urgency. This administration has been all about urgency from the beginning. Along with the terror crisis, we've had an education crisis, a social security crisis, a Medicare crisis, a North Korea crisis...

Really it seems like the only thing they didn't really approach as a crisis was the flooding crisis. Probably because that was an actual crisis, not a crisis of their creating for the purposes of moving public policy.

Having "the war on terror" and an elevated sense of national threat has allowed this group to virtually ignore all the things they said were important ages ago, and not so many ages ago: education, national intelligence, disaster preparedness, gas prices, social security, Medicare. This way it can be all war all the time. Every bit of legislation can be "in time of war," every erosion of our rights and privacy can be "we're at war," every contract written can be rushed with the urgency of "there's a war on."

How much easier it must be for them.

As a group, we should all treat the "War on terror" as what it is: sloppy. I would never have accepted it as a thesis proposal. I can hear the conversation in my head: "What are the deliverables?" The same thing should be true of this effort. "We will stand down as the Iraqis stand up" is a great slogan, but it doesn't get us closer to the accomplishment of an identified goal. I don't need a timetable, but I would like to see a list, and I would like my representatives to have a part in composing and priortizing that list. That process ought to cast the objectives in out world wide campaign to reduce the threat of terrorism (not as catchy as "war on terror" I know) within the context of the other national priorities that cannot be forgotten, and deserve the time and scrutiny of the full weight of the government - not just a quick glance because there's a war on.

If you spell out "war on terror" into world wide campaign to reduce the threat of terrorism I believe you get fairly unified support for the concept. Its a bipartisan winner. However, the actual nuts and bolts of the process deserve more than rhetoric and hysteria. Mucj more than "whack-a-mole."

Friday, June 16, 2006

God Bless Family Guy

3:00AM is too late to be up. However the bonus to being nocturnal is that Family guy runs on Adult Swim at that time. Yes, yes I know it is also on hours earlier - but I have things to do, like type this drivel. Anyway, last night they ran the "PTV" episode. If that show has not won some award something is really wrong. It is probably the best episode of the show ever done. It starts with a really funny Osama Bin Laden bit, rolls right into a "Police Squad" takeoff, and then spends the rest of the episode shamelessly ripping on the FCC - sort of like "Fine me, I dare you!"

The high point of the episode is the FCC Song, which I have placed below, although I don't know how long it will be there as the first source I found disappeared pretty quickly. If you haven't seen it, you should watch right now.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Anyone Know Anything About Outlook?

Spent a goodly amount of time today doing away with Mulberry and trying to get up to speed on Outlook. After what seemed like too long I got just about everything working except...

Anyone out there got any idea how to get Outlook to put a sent item into an IDAP remote folder instead of into the "Sent Items" folder it wants to use?

I found the option to put it in another folder when sending, but it won't allow a folder that isn't part of the default tree. If I want to be able to see things I send both from the home machine and from the work machine then I need something that will send the messages to the server.


Sunday, June 11, 2006


Three plus two equals five. What does five equal??? There ought to be a law against promo advertising, whatever the deal they should have to tell you the cost after the deal... Ok, I get it, he's dead. Part of me thinks its a little weird we're all so stoked about it... The word "liberal" has no meaning. Now it's just shorthand for "someone's opinion I dislike"... With what it costs to take a stray to the vet, those pet adoption prices don't seem high any more... I think that it is certain that as a society we were better before drug advertising... How much better would Pittsburgh be if the bus were free for everyone? Couldn't cost all that much... Is it me, or is there way more advertising for financial services companies than there can possibly be a market for their use??? Really I think I have come to the conclusion after going for like two years that truthfully I am not all that excited about any of the menu choices at Panera... The news is starting to say the economy is cooling off. For one, I have pretty much thought the economy for real people has been pretty crappy all along... I know I have a job, but for the past few days I have been feeling monumentally unemployed. Or, at least I have been behaving a lot like I did when I was unemployed... There ought to be something structural in the law to limit the length and investment the President can engage in a military action without a true declaration of war. Some kind of "Undeclared War Management Act"... Looks like I am not playing summer league this summer afterall. I was waffling anyway, and then they really made me feel unwelcome... What should be the next movie made into a musical? That Thing You Do? Empire Records??? You know when Ripley washed Newt's face? "Made a clean spot, now I have to do the whole thing." I feel that way about yard work... With what the Senate worked on last week, I really feel like putting in for a refund of the portion of my taxes that goes for Congressional operation...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Aw Mom, Can We Keep Em? PLEASE!!!

Today, on the way into the office we saw a guy on the side of the road. When we came back from the office, we saw a kitten in the same spot. When we went back to the spot with tunafish we found two kittens. At this point we felt it was our duty to capture the kittens, which we did.

They are now living in our garage pending a trip to the V-E-T. We had to put cardboard around the kennel as they are small enough to wiggle out. We don't want that, one of these escape artists bit me pretty good while being recaptured.

So, of course, the question is, if they get a clean bill of health from the vet, do they join our clan? Do we want to be the people with 5 cats? Dear readers, what do you think?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Jobs Americans Don't Want

Do you hear that refrain when people are talking about the illegal immigration problem? That all these people are only here taking jobs "American's don't want" or "American's won't do." How many ways is that wrong? Or if it isn't wrong, how many ways is it ultimately bad for everyone? Are we this stuck up, that there are jobs we just won't do? Are we so complacent that there are jobs that if they are available we won't take? If so, I think that bodes poorly for us.

Haven't these people seen Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel? Sure seem to be a lot of Americans doing some really crap ass gigs. Really I think this is about something else, where the jobs are, or what the jobs pay, but not flatly jobs American's won't take.

Recently on NPR they reported that in the industry with the absolute highest penetration of illegal workers, agriculture, 25% of all people working were here illegally. What does that mean? Well, for one thing it means that in every single possible job in the United States, at least 75% of the workers are American. That should just about wrap it up for the idea that there are gigs Americans won't do.

So really is it "wages Americans won't accept?" That would seem to be a little closer to the mark.

Maybe it has something to do with location and transportation. It does seem like someone motivated to come to say Detroit from Honduras would be more likely to get up and take a bus than someone just trying to go across town. Still, there's an element of enabling here.

I think maybe I don't see this like the majority of Americans. I've relocated for work four times now, lived in four different states. If I lost this job I would probably relocate again. People that do what I do go where the work is. I do think there's a certain amount of entitlement to work where the labor is in this country. Is it fair to expect people from one state to move to another state for work? For unskilled work? Does that assessment change when you figure in that there are people willing to relocate from another country for that work?

At the moment we hear two major solutions being offered to what is currently being perceived as an illegal alien crisis. I say perceived because it has been this way for a long time and its only recently that people have seems to get up in arms about it. At that rate, next week nobody could care again. Two solutions, first securing the border, and second provide for guest workers.

Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

How well exactly has securing the border worked with respect to the "war on drugs?" There is a whole lot of border there. One would assume that as long as there is a good reason to try to run it that people will, or tunnel under it, or come in on container ships, or jump out of airplanes, or FedEx themselves. For the right reward people will do just about anything. Hasn't "Survivor" proved that? Do we really want a hermetically sealed country, with armed guards and electric fences that go hundreds of feet underground? This seems to be a case where we must focus, long term on stemming the tide, not patching the dam.

Just how long do you think it will be until we see the investigative news report on mistreatment of guest workers, and how they feel they can't say anything for fear of being deported? A guest worker program just excuses the employers for what they are doing already. How much more work is it going to be for the government and employers to separate guest workers from illegals? Will there be a quota for guest workers? If so, I can't see how it will possible reduce illegal immigration.

By the way, what about the other end of the skill scale?

At the same time we're hearing that there is nobody to pick lettuce or wash dishes (or at least 25% of nobody) we're also being told that there's nobody to be tech workers or nurses. That employers need many more H1-B Visas to allow more skilled workers into the country.

If Americans won't pick lettuce or do other low level gigs, and they can't program computers or do other high level gigs, just what is it that Americans can do?

Its got me thinking of Hitchhiker's. Remember the Golgafrinchams? At this rate, we're all going to be on the second arc: real estate salesmen, security guards, management consultants, telephone sanitizers. Are all Americans slowly degenerating into a completely useless class of people? That would be a sad direction for a country with such a can-do past.

On the whole I think what we're hearing now is just so much noise. Its all probably calculated to still things up and make people feel worse off. Since we really were worse off all the time, just like with terrorism, I guess the recognition is a good thing. But also like terrorism, any kind of a quick fix is going to be a bandaid on a bullet wound. That's what we're most likely to get though: noise and then reflex legislation - usually with lousy enforcement and pork barrel financing. Its become the American way.

What will help? Nothing popular of course.

Enforcement of current employment legislation, prompt deportations, fines for employers - oh yeah, and the requisite rise in price of everything that is now subsidized by people making less than minimum wage because they can't complain. By the way, most of this is already on the books.

Transportation subsidies and relocation allowances so that people can go where the work is, probably with some smart planning with regard to housing values too so that people can live near the communities they need to work in.

Of course those things will also make prices go up. But really, if prices are low on the backs of illegals, shouldn't they go up?

H1-Bs? Education, education, education. More money, more money, more money. But isn't it worth it to keep the work here and to have the jobs filled with Americans?

These are infrastructure problems, they must be addressed with a long view. Our very way of living is changing. How Americans relate to their jobs will need to change as well. If we're not eager to make the effort, there are apparently millions of people in other countries that are.

None of this by the way makes me isolationist or anti-immigrant. I am certain that the immigration policies in place are just as convoluted, inefficient, and outmoded as the employment policies. They almost certainly need to be looked at together. But that the legal immigration process is obtuse is not an excuse to turn a blind eye to illegal immigration and employment violations.

Fix the infrastructure, eliminate the demand.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Award Ceremony

Here we have Kate in her Shoe Winning Shirt...

She quipped that now she has a shirt to wear when cutting Tina's lawn - causing me to wonder if its been cut yet.

Perhaps if Tina were giving away shirts.

Congrats again to Kate!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Its Official

More Crazy Scheme...
Think you'll be the first to complain? Too late.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday Scanning

Another Sunday, another photo album. This time 1977-78. Like 300 photos in one book. This album is home to another couple of seminal David pictures. This one has been up on the wall in the hallway of my folks house for more than a decade...

I thought this was such a good picture of my cousin Dayna that I just had to share it with everyone...

This, I believe, is a Christmas morning shot; in pajamas, enjoying some candy...

Here is family friend, baby sitter, and all around cool person Ildi, helping out at Jessica's birthday party...

And finally here we have another all around cool person, Ildi's brother Frank, with Jessica in what I believe was her performance debut with the Eileen Boevers Traveling Troupe at the Whitehall Nursing Home in a presentation of "Free To Be, You and Me."

My recollection is that Frank would do the Baby skit and was William's Father. Jessica, I believe, started out in the ensemble.


There ought to be a law... I thought the DALEKs were all supposed to be dead... I would like cake and ice-cream... Nothing like turning on the air to make it rain for a week... Still haven't really laid out those projects I need... Think $200 is too much to have to buy for summer camp materials??? What ever happened to that "no child left behind" thing??? I am no good at the eBay thing... What ever happened to the "terror alert level???" On TV it says Americans have accepted the price of gas, although paying it, this American has accepted nothing... What happened to going to Mars??? I wonder if someone at the NSA actually gets paid to read this blog??? I wish I hadn't dented my truck... Thanks to the stumble people for fixing the google toolbar interaction on the new release... I never knew one of my students was actually the Big JC... I wonder what Tina's lawn looks like... Mostly I think I would just like to putter around the house... Perhaps I should read a book... Good day for theatre articles in the New York Times today... I fixed the blurry text on my screen, although I never got a follow up from the video card people... Yesterday I got proof that when Verizon says the DSL in all of PA is out, they are possibly lying, ok maybe just mistaken... My filing system at home leaves a lot to be desired... My office filing system isn't that much better - I think I feel a summer assistant job coming on... Blogging has really slowed down on the sites I stalk... I wonder if Mr. Hines is on this continent... Is it ok to simply ignore email that COMES ALL CAPS??? What happened to the scourge of anabolic steroids??? I wonder if I lived in New Orleans, if I would still live in New Orleans??? Guess I should make that t-shirt...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Spring '06 Shoe Champion


A very tough decision this semester, with Emily pounding down a close second - espeically since her shoes matched the color scheme of the site. Perhaps this is a bit of a makeup for not remembering to take a current crit photo, or maybe it is because Emily has additional chances to win. These were very nice at crits (but actually a little worn looking at commencement).

But none of that really matters today. Congrats to Kate! Your TANBI t-shirt is in the works.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I Think I Need a List

I spend a goodly amount of time in my job asking to see student's lists. It goes something like this:

How are you doing on this project?

We're a little bit behind, but I think we'll be ok!

Oh, really, I think I need to see your list.
Usually its about 6 in 10 and pick 'em if there even is a list. If I were a preacher instead of a professor, I would be a decibel of the Church of The List.

With that in mind, I am sure you understand how odd it has been for me for the last few days to be so wholly and completely without a list. It has, quite literally, left me listless. In fact between late night television and no list; if Anne Rice wrote me into a book I would be the Vampire List'less.

This needs fixing.

I know there are things out there, things for precollege, things for the book, things for ESTA. I need to be working on my binder, I could be exercising. There are things for my sister's wedding. I need to go to the dentist. There very much is list material available, and yet in my sort of end of academic year lounging mode it has been difficult to get the components to properly coalesce into an actual list.

The one exception has been email, except there I actually failed in my task. There was a window right around Memorial Day where the fabled inbox zero was a real possibility. At the end of classes I had dumped my entire "to do" file into my "inbox" and started to chip away. The dwindling incoming mail provided a rare opportunity to get down to nothing. I worked my way all the way down to two messages. Routine correspondence from someone who unexpectedly no-showed on the wedding, and an email from a CMU alum that had been kicking around unanswered since the end of December as I had never found the time.

I was so close. But then the mail started coming in again.

I am still hoping to retire those old messages, as well as maintain as close to a clear inbox as possible for the entire summer. So "answer old email" is on the newly forming list, a core upon which to build.

The listlessness has really hit my motivation though, so I could use your help. If you're out there, and you have something that goes on my list, shout it out and let me know. Squeaky wheel and all that, right? Maybe I can get myself into gear again.