January 25, 2007
Cabbage Crates Coming Over The Briny
Somebody has the opposite problem I (and I'm guessing you) have: too much time on his hands. So he built an ultra-detailed 1/5 scale model of a Spitfire fighter. I'm in awe.
Since I've Been Gone
I missed the State of the Union Address. I missed National Sanctity of Life Day. I missed the Scooter Libby Trial (I think I can join in progress, though) - although I've read enough in the morning paper to wonder what planet the press reports on. I even missed two Beauty and the Geek's in a row. But I did manage to catch some paint and fabric for the dining room though.
Other things I missed: The F-Word Controversy.
Somebody I wish I could miss: Jimmy Carter.
January 18, 2007
What's That Sound?
There was a time I laughed at colds. Not any more. This getting old thing keeps revealing more and more downside.
January 15, 2007
I Have A Dream
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."≤
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
January 11, 2007
President Bush's New Way Forward Address
I didn't catch the President's address in real time (I was out grocery shopping with the funWife), so I had to read it - which quite frankly I prefer anyway. I'm sick and tired of only getting excerpts from the media on just about everything because then its only about what they think is important. In otherwords, you get a mainstream liberal view, and only that view. So here it is:
Good evening. Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror -- and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.
When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together, and that as we trained Iraqi security forces we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.
But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq -- particularly in Baghdad -- overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause, and they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra -- in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.
The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.
It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq. So my national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review. We consulted members of Congress from both parties, our allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts. We benefitted from the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. In our discussions, we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq. And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States.
The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.
The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.
Now let me explain the main elements of this effort: The Iraqi government will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for their capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort, along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations -- conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.
This is a strong commitment. But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help. So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades -- will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.
Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents, but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we'll have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods -- and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.
I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."
This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace -- and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.
A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.
To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.
America will change our approach to help the Iraqi government as it works to meet these benchmarks. In keeping with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, we will increase the embedding of American advisers in Iraqi Army units, and partner a coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division. We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped army, and we will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance. And Secretary Rice will soon appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq.
As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad.
Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar Province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to keep up the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan -- and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
We're also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence-sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.
We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government. We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an International Compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform. And on Friday, Secretary Rice will leave for the region, to build support for Iraq and continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.
The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom, and to help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.
From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children. And they are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists, or will we stand with the Iraqis who have made the choice for freedom?
The changes I have outlined tonight are aimed at ensuring the survival of a young democracy that is fighting for its life in a part of the world of enormous importance to American security. Let me be clear: The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are without conscience, and they will make the year ahead bloody and violent. Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue -- and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties. The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will.
Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. But victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people. A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them -- and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and our grandchildren.
This new approach comes after consultations with Congress about the different courses we could take in Iraq. Many are concerned that the Iraqis are becoming too dependent on the United States, and therefore, our policy should focus on protecting Iraq's borders and hunting down al Qaeda. Their solution is to scale back America's efforts in Baghdad -- or announce the phased withdrawal of our combat forces. We carefully considered these proposals. And we concluded that to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale. Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer, and confront an enemy that is even more lethal. If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.
In the days ahead, my national security team will fully brief Congress on our new strategy. If members have improvements that can be made, we will make them. If circumstances change, we will adjust. Honorable people have different views, and they will voice their criticisms. It is fair to hold our views up to scrutiny. And all involved have a responsibility to explain how the path they propose would be more likely to succeed.
Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration; it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress. We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need for the 21st century. We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas, where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny.
In these dangerous times, the United States is blessed to have extraordinary and selfless men and women willing to step forward and defend us. These young Americans understand that our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary -- and that the advance of freedom is the calling of our time. They serve far from their families, who make the quiet sacrifices of lonely holidays and empty chairs at the dinner table. They have watched their comrades give their lives to ensure our liberty. We mourn the loss of every fallen American -- and we owe it to them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.
Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed. Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can, and we will, prevail.
We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours. Thank you and good night.
Its a nice compact address that lays out quite a lot. I think what is outlined is quite good, the question is one of follow through - will all of this actually happen? The road to hell is paved with good intentions, we need more than just plans. Our success will depend on how well we can turn plans into action.
I thought the heart of the speech, and the heart of our strategy on the War on Terror was this part: "In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region"
And don't forget the fact sheet to go with it.
January 10, 2007
Can't Get Enough iPhone
iPhone is so monumental I can't just leave it with one post.
First, I've made some nice paper gains on my Apple stock the last two days. Yes, this is gloating. See item 3.
Why did they have to exclusively partner with Cingular? Everybody I know who's ever had Cingular has hated them. Not disliked, not been unhappy, HATED them. Couldn't get off the plan fast enough.
How would you like to be Michael Dell? He gave the daily keynote speech at CES yesterday at the same time Steve Jobs was giving his MacWorld keynote. Seen any coverage of that? Yeah, me neither. Almost ten years ago, when asked about Apple, he famously said "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." Yikes! That has to rank as some of the worst investment advice ever. Still, Mr. Dell is reportedly a lot easier to work for than Mr. Jobs. Oddly enough, so was Atilla the Hun.
Apple Computer is dead. The pundits who predicted it's demise for so long are not rejoicing however, because Apple Inc. is alive and well. A rose by any other name would be just as sweet, but who am I to argue with Steve Jobs? Or Carl Howe of Blackfriars marketing who claims that Apple just changed consumer electronics nine ways. Maybe next year CES will change their dates so Mr. Jobs can speak there.
Brian Tiemann noticed that Apple dropped more than computer from the company name; Apple may have droped the Mac from Mac OS X now that it is the iPhone operating system as well and wonders if it should be pronounced "Oh Ess Ecks"? After Jobs made such a big deal about putting a phone, an iPod and an internet device into one seamless device, I predict they will rename Mac OS X as NXS and pronounce it "in excess", that way they can combine a great operating system with a great rock band, INXS. It's What You Need.
John Gruber says the iPhone screen is amazing: "166 DPI is an amazing resolution ó tiny, tiny text is amazingly legible." I'm guessing John isn't over forty, because for people of a certain age tiny tiny text is not just illegible, its unnoticable. But after springing $600 dollars for the phone, I suppose I can spend $10 on a pair of reading glasses to go with it.
Breaking Up Is Easy; Dividing Up Is Hard
As a learned laywer once told me: Divorce is simple; the property settlement is hard. The Episcopalians seems to be learning that truth now as the jockying for property ownership is starting to turn ugly.
I'll offer just one bit of advice for those who are leaving the ECUSA for its abandonment of biblical teaching: The church is not the building the congregation meets in, the church is the congregation (and in a larger sense, all of us Christians). New buildings can easily be built by vital congregations; moribund congregations can't support oversized buildings and a mostly empty building provides mute testimony for those who have ears for such things.
I understand the desire to continue to worship and fellowship in the same place you always have, but what is the witness that you stood firmer on the property than the teaching? If it comes to it, let the building be a millstone around the ECUSAs neck. What is the market for old church buildings? What will the witness be if the ECUSA keeps you out but sells the property either to another congregation or to a developer? If you really want it badly enough, you might be able to buy it back from the ECUSA rump in a couple of years. A few years of exile in the desert might even do your congregation some good as it helps you focus on Jesus and not the distractions of this world.
January 9, 2007
The iPhones Are Here, The iPhones Are Here!
A lot of people make bold claims but few can back them up, but when Steve Jobs talks, people listen:
"Well, today, we're introducing three revolutionary products of this class," said Jobs. "The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. The third is a breakthrough Internet communications device."
"These are not three separate devices," said Jobs. "This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone. Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone."
No not everything turns out like the iPod (just don't mention "Brain in a Beaker" or Newton to Steve), but Steve and Apple have been on a roll lately. I haven't even seen the thing, and I want one. Of course, I've already drunk the Kool Aid, so what else would you expect?
Keeping The Immune System On The Right Track
How's this for a mystery: You have more bacteria living in your small intestine than cells in your body, and your immune system does nothing:
For years, scientists have wondered whether the same mechanism is at work in tissues that come in regular contact with bacteria and other microbial organisms. The small intestine, for example, which absorbs essential nutrients from food and drink and protects the body from invasive microbes, is literally teeming with bacteria, which help break down waste. The presence of so many bacteria is a potential trigger for an immune system response. Why do T cells almost always ignore the small intestine, leaving this vital tissue unharmed
No, the butler doesn't do it.
Normally, dendridic cells by displaying antigens teach the immune system what not to attack. But not in the small intestine. Instead, stromal cells in the lymph node do it. Why should you care? Scientist wonder if this method to keep healthy tissue from being attacked by the immune system can't be used in autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
I admit it - I love Scooby-Doo. Not the later, lamer cartoons, but the original. So I report with sadness that his creator, Iwao Takamoto, has died.
January 8, 2007
Lawyers: Another Hazard of Research
Here's another entry in why I think our current judicial system sucks: Fast-multiplying lawsuits can stymie medical science. Actually, I was surprised by one reason why:
The lead author, Brad A. Racette, M.D., associate professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, writes from personal experience: His studies tentatively linking welding to increased risk of Parkinson's disease resulted in a torrent of subpoenas for research data. Responding to them slows or stops his follow-up research.
"Participation in the legal system can be a huge burden on a researcher's schedule," Racette says. "There comes a point where a scientist needs the right to be able to say, testifying in court is not what I'm supposed to be doing, I'm supposed to be studying disease."
And the authors are grown up to realize conflicts of interest cut both ways (i.e. both plaintiffs and defendants):
The authors note that the substantial financial interests at stake in lawsuits often leads to biased research by well-paid expert witnesses. They cite the example of a Texas doctor found to be overdiagnosing a disease known as silicosis. The doctor had a financial interest in the number of patients diagnosed.
Peer review is of course a part of the regular scientific process, Racette notes, but a knowledgeable expert can design a study with a predetermined goal of discrediting earlier studies that linked a suspected toxin to a disease.
Industries on the defensive have also attempted to impugn the credibility of researchers. As an example, the authors cite the case of Herbert Needleman, M.D., professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and the first scientist to link lead exposure to low IQ levels in children. The lead industry attacked Needleman's integrity, alleging academic fraud and triggering investigations by the Federal Scientific Integrity Board and his university. The investigations failed to find any evidence of academic fraud, and Needleman's results were later replicated, leading to beneficial changes such as the removal of lead from gasoline.
Slow, capricious, expensive, and fails to deliver justice is how I would describe our system, and on both the civil and criminal sides of the house. This is just one more example.
Full Disclosure: While I haven't met them, both authors are on staff at St. Louis Children's Hospital where my daughter has had two visits and of which I have the highest opinion.
Here's a stupid headline:
Is that a surprise? Would we ever read "Mental Health Risks Vary Within the U.S. White Population"?, or "Mental Health Risks Vary Within the U.S. Population"? Are black people some sort of homogeneous entity where no variation is expected?
This was another shocking line from the report: "He believes clinicians need to look beyond crude categories of race in order to learn more about the backgrounds of their clients in order to better treat them." That's your tax dollars at work, funding Captain Obvious.
Obesity Has Replaced Starvation
I admit it's an odd sort of good news: Obeseity has replaced starvation as the main problem with world food supply. As a onetime Guidance and Controls guy (GPS isn't guidance, its Nav!) I hope it's just overshoot until we settle into a proper caloric balance:
One of the most surprising news items of 2006, at least to me, was the announcement that there are now more overweight people in the world than hungry ones.
Say what? It was not that long ago that all the experts were predicting that our skyrocketing human population would soon outstrip its food supply, leading directly to mass famine. By now millions were supposed to be perishing from hunger every year. It was the old doom-and-gloom Malthusian mathematics at work: population shoots up geometrically while food production lags. It makes eminent sense. I grew up with Malthus's ideas brought up-to-date in apocalyptic books like The Population Bomb.
Who defused the bomb? Instead of mass starvation, we seem to be awash in food. And it's not just the United States. Obesity is on the increase in Mexico. Fat-related diabetes is becoming epidemic in India. My parents used to tell me when I didn't eat my dinner to think about the hungry children in China. Today one in five people in China is overweight, 60 million are obese, and the rate of overweight children has increased 28-fold since 1985. Everywhere you look, from Buffalo to Beijing, it's ballooning bellies.
Needless to say, reality hasn't caught up to everyone just yet, but with world population set to peak around 2050, the looming problem is aging/shriking populations (yes Virginia, even China) and how will countries deal with that?
Hat tip to TinkertyTonk
January 6, 2007
A Night At The Museum
Some of the Murphy Family saw Night At The Museum and were very pleasantly surprised. At least I was, as I didn't expect, but it was funny and enjoyable and a good popcorn movie. Yes, it is stupid, but entertainingly so, not annoyingly so. I guess I don't mind preposterous history in an unserious film (or at least a film that doesn't take itself seriously). And it's a treat to see Dick Van Dyke (I thought he was dead!) again, and to see him dance at his age in the final credits was worth whatever my wife paid. This is only the second movie Owen Wilson didn't set my teeth on edge -- so they must have done something right (like given him a supporting role).
Kerry Snubs Troops
In the lastest example of a Seinfeld scandal (the length of a Seinfeld scandal is directly proportional to the strength of its vacuum, which is why 3 years later the saga of the plastic turkey continues) it's official - John Kerry wasn't snubbed by soldiers in Iraq, he snubbed them. For a pair of reporters.
Let's give three cheers (or if Brother Byrd is reading, two Hallelujahs and an Amen) for the political acumen of John 'Malpractice' Kerry. Maybe somebody should give his staff T-shirts that read "Kerry went all the way to Iraq for a photo op with the troops and all he did was talk to a lousy pair of reporters".
You've got to know you're base. If you're John Kerry, who's more important, a whole bunch of ignoramuses who blew their schooling and wound up in Iraq, or a couple of reporters for the New York Times? Kind of a no-brainer, isn't it?
Bryan Preston actually apologizes for calling Kerry "lonely" - which rates two Hallelujahs! and and an Amen! for Brother Preston from this corner at any rate. Although I will note that since loneliness is an emotional state it can't be determined from a photograph - you can be lonely sitting at a table full of people (remember the start of Freshman year anyone?) and whatever the opposite of lonely is sitting all by yourself.
Just to get out ahead on big John, here's the next Kerry scandal of Sienfelding proportions.
January 4, 2007
585 Billion Dollars
Yikes! Does our state and federal governments spend 585 Billion dollars a year on means tested anti-poverty programs?
Moby seems to think that's how much we spent on Iraq up until 2006.
Robert Waste thinks thats how much we spend on our permanent urban crises of high levels of poverty, hunger, homelessness, crime, and low levels of funding for mass transit, infrastructure needs, and education.
Or is that how much money social security taxes will bring in in 2014 in 1997 dollars (doesn't that accounting just make your head swim).
How about the total value of service exports world-wide in 1981 (I assume in 1981 dollars).
OK, this was sparked by a Bizzy Blog post that used the 585 billion dollar number while noting that it was unconfirmed to determine:
If there are 40 million people living in poverty in the US (that would be 13.3% of the population, slightly higher than the current official rate), that would mean we are spending $14,625 on EVERY man, woman, and child living in poverty. A married family of four in poverty could live very nicely on over $58,500 tax-free dollars a year, as could a single parent with two kids on almost $44,000; but of course, the money and the value of the services isnít getting to them.
Well, I didn't a little searching (as you can hopefully tell) and back in 2001 Mr. Rector of the Heritage Foundation testified before congress that offical figures showed that in 2000 the feds and the states spent 438 billion dollars in welfare and projected the sum to rise to 626 billion dollars -- or you can check out the Heritage Report. I couldn't confirm the 585 figure for 2006, but it sure looks to be in the ballpark.
If we aren't talking about dollars, LG Electronics made a net profit o 585 billion KRW in 2004
I'm Bob Dole
I'm a 35, which puts me right under the picture of Bob Dole at this quiz. Funny, I picked that we shut cut farm subsidies, something I don't think Bob "Kansas" Dole ever advocated. Maybe we both have good senses of humor. I'm not a fan of the single axis political interpretation, and a bunch of the questions were pretty much toss ups for me (e.g. which do you distrust more, IRS or FBI). While fun, I don't think that reducing my politics to a number is useful, unlike my credit score. If it were, I suppose I could just put up a daily post consisting entirely of "35".
via Ed Driscoll
A Different Kind of Kodak Moment
Who knew Howard Beale works for Kodak?
How do you motivate a large company that had huge historical success but needs to keep up with the times? You make a video and post it on the net, of course. Maybe I should make one for the very large corporation of America that I work for. On second thought, probably not.
Their Pain, Your Gain
File this under too much time on their hands, but at least it keeps them in shape. I especially like the ice skating part.
As seen on King of Fools. And what a lovely one he is.
January 3, 2007
A Tipping Point?
Are there already more mil bloggers in country than members of the MSM?
At what point will there be more bloggers embedded in Iraq than members in good standing of the MSM? I ask because Michelle Malkin and Bryan Preston are going over, joining Bill Roggio and Bill INDC/Iraq among others.
Since Michelle has decided to go on her own nickle (donations accepted), she asked that Eason Jordan pay Kathleen "Who are you to question me?" Carroll's way instead:
"I have notified Jordan of our plans and encouraged him to move forward with his trip and his offer to bring Curt of Flopping Aces.
More importantly, I have asked Jordan to extend the travel funds and security coverage he would have spent on me to the AP's Kathleen Carroll.
Ms. Carroll, you may remember, was the AP executive who derided bloggers for sitting at home instead of traveling abroad to do their own reporting during the fauxtography debacle last summer:"Itís hard to imagine how someone sitting in an air-conditioned office or broadcast studio many thousands of miles from the scene can decide what occurred on the ground with any degree of accuracy," said Kathleen Carroll, APís senior vice president and executive editor.
Yet, from her own comfortable office, Ms. Carroll has decided that bloggers, Jordan, the U.S. military, and Iraqi government officials are all wrong to question her news organization's questionable news sources.
Questionable news sources? Pretty strong words, but the Confederate Yankee
digs into the story the way reporters in the movies do:
The only way I can do this is to take the 61 stories Curt found, Google the keywords and dates of the described events, and see if other news organizations can corroborate the details of the events provided. Those with LexisNexis access might be able to do a better job of verifying or disputing these accounts, but you get to research using the tool set you have, not the tools you would like to have. As I don't have the time to do a complete search, I'll attempt to search through roughly the first half of the 61 stories using Jamil Hussein as a source."
The result? Short answer - not pretty. Long answer - go read it yourself.
The question isn't whether (some) bloggers do journalism (this one never soils his hands that way), but do journalists do journalism anymore? Or do they just write the story a source gives them, no questions asked.
January 2, 2007
Potpourri for 100
My wife likes Christmas CDs, I like Billy Idol, but somehow I don't think it's right to mix the two. IOW, I didn't buy the Billy Idol: Happy Holidays despite the obvious temptation.
Is it just me, or do liberals only like dead Republican presidents?
Is there a downside to the Rosie Trump feud? Yes - more attention for a couple of people who need to go on a strict publicity diet.
Maybe it's time to consider a 3 state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Let's Go Crazy
Speaking of Apple, I too noticed a slow down in the iTunes store on Christmas morning when the Fruit of the Murphy Loins were trying to load up their new gifts.
Speaking of layers of editors etc. , I just had to laugh at this line:
That extravagant spending may not last forever: one analyst said that while Apple now has about 75 percent of the market for downloaded music, it could see as much as 5 percent of market share go elsewhere in 2007 because of increased competition.
May not last forever? As the once and current Prince noted, forever is a mighty long time, so one can drop the "may" part. But then the writer would be confronted with putting a real time limit on how long Apple's dominance will last, which, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, is a known unknowable.
Month of Apple Bugs
I'm a big Mac fan, and so in the interest of equal time, fair and balanced, journalistic ethics, etc. etc. etc. here is a link to the The Month Of Apple Bugs blog. Here's hoping they all get squashed.
UPDATE: Apparently there was a bug with the URL which has now been squashed.
Plus Áa change, plus cíest la mÍme chose
Microsoft handed out a whole bunch of really nice laptops to a whole bunch of bloggers. Take that, anti-blogger triumphalists. Needless to say, hilarity ensued as words like "bribe" and "sellout" and "unethical" and "PR disaster" were thrown about.
What were people thinking: Gee, I really trusted blogger x when I didn't know anything about him/her, but now that I know they are another human with all the same frailties as me, I can't fully trust them to deliver those Olympian pronouncements to live my life by anymore. I mean, what's next, companies creating fake blogs?
Full disclosure -- I'm still waiting to make my unethical sell out. And I still don't have a big plasma HDTV. (And yes, I have read Bug Jack Barron: The saddest day of your life isn't when you decide to sell out. The saddest day of your life is when you decide to sell out and nobody wants to buy.
Up, Up, and Away
Somedays I'm more proud of my Swiss ancestory than others -- and today is such a day. Yves Rossy flies like a bird, or at least as close to a bird as you can with composite wings and kerosene powered engines. It's not man powered, but it is wearable. He straps on the 10 foot wings, jumps out of a plane, and flies using his body as the control system. Yikes! Of course he has a web site: Jet-Man.com.
So I salute you, Yves Rossy, truly a Real Man of Genius.