Best Viewed with IE or Opera. Sorry, Firefox works, but loses some sidebar layout,
'my profile' and other stuff... Anybody with a fix, please leave a comment. Many thanks in advance.

That said, if you must use Firefox (and I don't blame you, it's become my browser of choice, too)
...get the "IE Tab" extension. This allows you to view problem pages with the IE rendering engine. Very cool!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Chris Whitley, 45, Songwriter Whose Music Blended Genres, Dies - New York Times

Published: November 24, 2005

Chris Whitley, an innovative songwriter and guitarist who played traditional blues as well as hybrids made with the sounds of electronic dance music, died on Sunday at a friend's home near Houston. He was 45 and lived in New York.

The cause was lung cancer, said his brother, Daniel.

Mr. Whitley emerged in 1991 with "Living With the Law," an album of traditional acoustic blues and some conservative blues-rock that was acclaimed by critics. A tour that year with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers introduced him to a wide audience.

But on his second album, "Din of Ecstasy," Mr. Whitley changed course, favoring loud, grungy alternative rock and setting a pattern of experimentation that would characterize his career. On later albums he played a stark blues-cabaret music reminiscent of Tom Waits, as well as combinations of blues, funk and slippery electronics; his album "Rocket House," from 2001, made use of turntable scratchings and what he called "electronic abstraction."

In recent years Mr. Whitley's music became especially dark. "With his slurred voice and the lurching propulsion of his bluesy slide guitar," Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote in a review last year of his protest album "War Crime Blues," "Mr. Whitley has come to sound like a haggard, desolate wraith, carrying tidings from some private inferno."

Mr. Whitley's changes kept critics watching him closely, and he was praised by many as a clever modernizer of the blues. Other musicians also held him in high esteem, particularly for his mastery of the slide guitar. Dave Matthews was one admirer; the label ATO, of which Mr. Matthews was a founder, released "Rocket House."

Mr. Whitley's music was challenging to many listeners. What was viewed as free-spirited creativity by some was seen by others as capriciousness, and throughout his career he remained on the fringes of both the blues and alternative-rock worlds.

Christopher Becker Whitley was born in Houston and took up the guitar at 15, inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Creedence Clearwater Revival. He taught himself slide guitar after hearing Johnny Winter's song "Dallas" and got his start as a teenager playing in public places in New York.

In addition to his brother, his survivors include a daughter, Trixie; his father, Jerry, of Red Bank, N.J.; and a sister, Bridget Anderson, of Saxtons River, Vt.



Chris Whitley, 45, Songwriter Whose Music Blended Genres, Dies - New York Times

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The Mad Scientist

"The world as we know it was created by a fortuitous collision of atoms."
-- Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, Book V

ON THE EVENING OF SEPTEMBER 24, ABOUT 500 PEOPLE squeezed into the lecture
hall at the Tate Laboratory of Physics on the University of Minnesota's Twin
Cities campus. There were none of the usual Friday night attractions� no music,
no beer, no sports. A celebrity of sorts had come to town. Dr. Michael Behe, a
biochemist at Lehigh University, is best known for his 1996 bestseller Darwin's
Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. The book made Behe one of the
leading voices of the intelligent design movement, and a hero to religious
conservatives who have long yearned for credentialed scientists to take up their
cause. At the time of his appearance at the U, Behe was just a few weeks removed
from his star turn as a defense witness in the so-called Scopes Two trial in
Pennsylvania�the highly publicized legal melodrama occasioned by a local school
board's decision to include intelligent design in its high school science

A short, balding man with the prepossessing manner of a
lifelong lecturer, Behe was greeted at the lectern with a torrent of applause.
As he began to click through his Power Point presentation, he offered a simple
declaration: ID theory, he said, is not "mystical" in nature. It is a matter of
common sense. Life on earth is simply too complex not to have been designed. A
click of his mouse then revealed a schematic diagram of a mousetrap. For the
mousetrap to function properly, Behe explained, each component must be in the
right place. The complex arrangement of parts proves that the mousetrap was
designed by some intelligent being. In Behe's view, all sorts of other
biological mechanisms�the mechanisms that allow people to talk, that enable
bacteria to swim in petri dishes�cannot be accidental or random. At that, he
dropped in the descriptive phrase for which he is best known. Life, he intoned,
is "irreducibly complex," too sophisticated to be explained by Darwinian notions
of natural selection and random mutation.

"The evidence for design,"
Behe said repeatedly, "is the purposeful arrangement of the parts." Though he
talked for a long time, this was in effect his entire argument. Ironically, his
mousetrap analogy is a direct restatement of the clockmaker analogy that was
popular among self-styled "deists" during the Age of Enlightenment 300 years
ago. But the deists were a pallid lot as believers go; they promulgated the idea
that God the clockmaker had constructed the whole thing and left it to run as
dictated by the workings of the pieces he made. Prominent deists from Voltaire
to Thomas Jefferson were, ironically, among the leading critics of religious
intolerance and superstition in their day. Evangelicals they were not�poisoned
by the then-fresh virus of humanism, they preferred to live and let live.
read the rest:
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Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online

Newton trounces Einstein in vote on their relative merits
By Mark Henderson, Science Correspondent

HIS most famous equation, E=mc², is 100 years old, and 2005 has been named Einstein Year in his honour, but Albert Einstein has been trounced in a scientific beauty contest held to celebrate his own greatest achievements.

The most famous head of hair in science was soundly beaten by Sir Isaac Newton yesterday in a poll on the relative merits of their breakthroughs, with both scientists and the public favouring the Englishman by a surprisingly wide margin.

Asked by the Royal Society to decide which of the two made the more important contributions to science, 61.8 per cent of the public favoured the claims of the 17th-century scientist who developed calculus and the theory of gravity. Among 345 Royal Society scientists who voted, the margin of support for Newton was greater still, with 86.2 per cent deciding that his work was more important than Einstein’s. The vote was closer over who made a bigger positive contribution to humankind in general. Newton was again twice the winner, but with only 50.1 per cent of the public vote and 60.9 per cent of the specialists’.


read the rest:

Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online

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The 11-Year Quest to Create Disappearing Colored Bubbles

photo by John B. Carnett

The 11-Year Quest to Create Disappearing Colored Bubbles
Chemical burns, ruined clothes, 11 years, half a million dollars�it's not easy to improve the world's most popular toy. Yet the success of one inventor's quest to dye a simple soap bubble may change the way the world uses color

By Mike Haney | Popular Science | November 2005
Tim Kehoe has stained the whites of his eyes deep blue. He's also stained his face, his car, several bathtubs and a few dozen children. He's had to evacuate his family because he filled the house with noxious fumes. He's ruined every kitchen he's ever had. Kehoe, a 35-year-old toy inventor from St. Paul, Minnesota, has done all this in an effort to make real an idea he had more than 10 years ago, one he's been told repeatedly cannot be realized: a colored bubble.

No, not the shimmering rainbow effect you see when the light catches a clear soap bubble. Kehoe's bubble would radiate a single, vibrant hue throughout the entire sphere�a green bubble, an orange bubble, a hot-pink bubble. It's a bubble that can make CEOs giggle and stunned mothers tear up in awe. It's a bubble you don't expect to see, conditioned as you are to the notion that soap bubbles are clear. An unnaturally beautiful bubble.

Kehoe made a bubble like that when he was 26, after only two years of trashed countertops and chemical fires. He showed it to toy-company executives, who called it a "holy grail." And then it broke, as bubbles always do. And when it did, the dye inside escaped onto clothes and carpets and walls and skin, staining everything it touched. The execs told him to come back with a bubble they could wash off their boardroom table.

That was nine years ago. In the intervening years, Kehoe continued to mix, boil, and brew with endless enthusiasm and little success. Until one day, his stubborn persistence led him to $500,000 in financial backing, enough to hire a dye chemist. Together, they took Kehoe's obsession to an outcome even more amazing than he had ever hoped, an outcome no one could have anticipated for the simple reason that no one imagined it possible. The secret to nonstaining colored bubbles, it turns out, is a dye that could unlock a revolution in color chemistry. All you need to do is make color disappear.

read the whole story:
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Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Man in Black (and the venal cowards who would co-opt him for their pitiful movement.)

  Posted by Picasa

More conservative values displayed by a �values stealing� media whore.

Perpetual crowd scene extra/actress Govindini Murtry explains Johnny Cash to all of us elitists after spending 135 minutes with The Man in Black:
The new Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line (opening this weekend) is a well-crafted, absorbing piece of Americana that conservatives should go out and support. Shocking for a movie made in today�s Hollywood, the film treats two Red State American icons, Johnny Cash (played by Joaquin Phoenix) and June Carter Cash (played by Reese Witherspoon), with affection and respect. The film also compellingly documents one of the most fertile and inventive periods in American musical history: the 1950s and 1960s. I knew next to nothing about Johnny Cash or his music going into the film, but after of listening to 136 minutes of his terrific music, I came out a fan.


read the whole piece here:


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Thanksgiving Foobar Blogging

Here's my random 10 MP3 list this afternoon:

01. Gary Moore - [Still Got the Blues #08] As the Years Go Passing By [7:44]
02. Joe Satriani - [Strange Beautiful Music #13] The Traveler [5:39]
03. David Bromberg - [The Player: Retrospective #11] Nobody's [4:57]
04. Concrete Blonde - [Concrete Blonde #00] True [6:07]
05. Cross Canadian Ragweed - [Live & Loud at Billy Bob's Texas #06] Look at Me [3:48]
06. Mojo Nixon & The Toadliquors - [Sock Ray Blue #02] The Ballad of Country Dick [2:44]
07. Greg Koch - [The Grip #17] The Grip [3:22]
08. Dinosaur Jr. - [Quest #09] Thumb (Mark Goodier session) [3:06]
09. Guadalcanal Diary - [2X4 [Bonus Tracks] #08] Where Angels Fear to Tread [3:13]
10. California Guitar Trio - [California Guitar Trio with Tony Levin and Pat (...) #13] What I Am [6:29]

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Yep, another Goddamned blog: The Gideons: �We�re to blame for America being a fucking Hell hole.�

 The Gideons: “We’re to blame for America being a fucking Hell hole.”

In a shocking revelation today, the Gideons announced on their website that for the last twenty- five years, or when Ronald Reagan was running for President, their Bibles contained omissions that have resulted in America and much of earth descending into a “fucking Hell hole.”

“Somehow, the complete deletion of the New Testament, in which God had evolved from being a total celestial psychopath into a less murderous Supreme Being, escaped our notice this past quarter century. And for that, we deeply apologize.”

The deletion of the New Testament for the more than one billion Bibles that have been published by the Gideons since 1981, handily explains how Christian evangelicals are completely ignorant of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

“We always thought that the Bibles that had been coming in from the printing press were a bit on the light side. Now we know why. And if you’re wondering how Christian fundamentalists could’ve so easily misconstrued the wisdom of God and completely skeeve Christ, well, blame us.”

Reactions from the evangelical community were immediate but mixed.


read more here:

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

No Sex, But Plenty of Lies and Videotape

by John Atcheson

Beyond smearing a decorated war hero who disagrees with them, the Bush crowd is accusing the Democrats of rewriting history when they claim they were misled by the administration in the run-up to the Iraqi War. In the administration’s version of history, everyone had the same intelligence, and reached the same conclusions.

Here’s where Bush and friends get hoisted on their own petard. History was indeed rewritten, but it was the Bush administration that did it. Between 2001 and the fall of 2002, Iraq was transformed from little more than an irritant to the single biggest threat to democracy in existence. To see how dramatically the administration tried to spin intelligence and recreate history, we need only look at their own words, beginning in early 2001.

Here’s what Colin Powell had to say about Iraq in February of 2001:

"He [Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."

Rumsfeld had this to say on Fox news on February 12, 2001:

"Iraq is probably not a nuclear threat at this time."

CIA Director George Tenet concluded in a report to Congress on February 7, 2001:

"We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its WMD programs."

Or listen to Condoleezza Rice on July 29, 2001:

"But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let's remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

In little more than a year, this relatively sanguine assessment of Iraq and Hussein was replaced with hysterical renderings of mushroom clouds, immediate threats, and al Qaeda links. And no, it was not 911 that changed things. As Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill revealed, 911 provided an excuse to launch a war the administration had been spoiling for all along, but it was not the reason for the Iraq invasion.

So what changed? Not much. Basically, the administration stopped telling the truth and launched a sophisticated psyops (psychological operations, essentially propaganda) campaign directed at Congress and the American people. As with any psyops effort, they withheld information, distorted it, and when necessary created it. In short, they rewrote history and lied while doing it.

The key components to this effort were creation of the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon, and the White House Iraqi Group. OSP provided cherry-picked and distorted intelligence; WHIG used it to conduct the propaganda campaign.

The case for war rested on two assertions. First, we "knew" Iraq had links to al Qaeda; and second, we "knew" they had WMDS and were likely to use them. Let’s examine each in turn to see who knew what and when they knew it.

The al Qaeda Link that Wasn’t

In trying to make the case for a link between al Qaeda and Hussein, the administration relied heavily on two stories. It’s now clear they knew the intelligence didn’t support either one, they knew it didn’t as early as February of 2002, and they hid that fact from Congress and the American people.

The first "proof" they used was the testimony of one Ibn al-Shaykh al Libi – a captured al Qaeda commander who claimed Iraq was training al Qaeda in the use of chemical and biological weapons.

A Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary (known as a DITSUM in governmentese) cast strong doubts on al Libi’s claims in February of 2002. Reportedly, al Libi flunked a lie detector test, and he has since admitted his testimony was false. A CIA memo in January of 2003 also debunked al Libi’s testimony, yet throughout 2002 and 2003 the administration continued to present what they knew to be unreliable fiction as fact with Congress, at the UN and in statements to the American people.

Perhaps it was not a coincidence that the OSP propaganda effort was set up shortly after the White House received the DITSUM undercutting their claims.

The administration’s only other bit of "intelligence" linking al Qaeda with Iraq was the purported meeting in Czechoslovakia between Mohammad Atta and "senior Iraqi officials." This was shown to be phony nearly as soon as it was reported. The FBI and the CIA had evidence that Atta was in Florida at the time the meeting was supposed to have taken place.

But Cheney and others in the administration continued to hawk the meeting as gospel. Interestingly, when the 911 Commission confirmed that the meeting never took place, Cheney – who now claims "we all had the same intelligence," sang a different tune. He said then, that he "probably" had more information than the 911 Commission.

The Bush administration used this "if you knew what we knew" theme throughout the run-up to the Iraqi war, but now, suddenly, we were all operating from the same song book. Well, if we do a quick logic check, there are only three possibilities here: either they were lying then, or they’re lying now, or they were lying then and they’re lying now.

The WMDs That Weren’t

Let’s start with chemical and biological weapons. The administration relied heavily on a source known as Curveball, an Iarqi expatriate who turned himself into German intelligence and was never directly interviewed by American intelligence. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the German intelligence agency, BDN, characterized Curveball as emotionally unstable, and told the US that his information was second hand, vague, and unreliable. Yet the administration presented Curveball as a reliable source, and presented his concoctions to Congress and the American people without caveats. While it’s true that the US was not alone in believing Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, prior to the 2002 psyops campaign, both the US and our allies heavily caveated their findings, and – more importantly – most believed Hussein would not use them for fear of reprisals. Indeed, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) prepared at Senator Bob Graham’s request, concluded that Hussein was unlikely to use any WMDs (unless he was attacked).

Or consider the case for a nuclear threat. In the 2002 run-up to Iraq, the administration had two primary pieces of "evidence" they used to convince Congress and the American people that Hussein posed a nuclear threat: the Niger yellow cake story and the aluminum tubes they claimed could be used as centrifuges to enrich uranium.

Neither Congress nor the American people knew that the Italians had warned us the Niger yellowcake story was phony, nor did they know that Ambassador Joe Wilson had cast doubt on the whole thing after his trip to Niger, until after the invasion. They were also unaware that CIA Director Tenet had warned Bush against using the story in a major speech on Iraq the President gave in Ohio in October 2002. When the President was warned by the CIA yet again that the intelligence did not support the yellowcake story prior to his 2003 State of the Union Address, Bush didn’t drop the Niger fabrication, his response was to keep the reference and attribute it to British intelligence, even though the Brits were using the same documents the CIA refused to endorse.

The Niger story was based on forged documents that were so crude that UN analysts were able to show they were fakes within a few hours of receiving them, using nothing more than a Google search.

The administration’s deceptions surrounding the aluminum tubes were even more egregious. For example, when a mid-level CIA analyst sought to send up a report raising doubts about whether the now infamous aluminum tubes could be used to enrich uranium, he was told by his superiors not to bother because the decision to invade had already been made.

In fact, it turns out that the notion that the tubes could be used to make centrifuges was being advanced primarily by one analyst, against the weight of most of the rest of the intelligence community and most of the nation’s nuclear experts. Indeed, the tubes were anodized – which would have fouled the uranium enrichment process – they were too small, Iraq was known to have blueprints for a superior centrifuge design that could not have used the tubes in question, and the Iraqis were known to use the tubes to make defensive missiles allowed under UN sanctions. Yet the unclassified version of the hastily prepared and barely vetted 2002 NIE, flipped the story and gave weight to the minority viewpoint, and reduced the many more qualified skeptic’s concerns to footnotes.

Despite the fact that they knew the data didn’t support their statements, Bush, Cheney and Rice hammered home the danger of a nuclear Iraq and characterized the intelligence as conclusive, using such phrases as "... we now know...", " ...there is no doubt ...", "we know where they are ... "it [Baghdad] could make a nuclear weapon within a year ..."

It Was a War of Choice, and It Was a Bad Choice

The problem with the administration’s argument that we all had the same intelligence is not simply that it’s not true – it’s that only Bush chose to go to war with that intelligence.

Let’s suppose, for the moment, that this particular lie was true and everybody did have the same intelligence.

Here’s the thing, and there’s no getting around it. Virtually no other country, nor anyone but the Bush chicken hawks, advocated an immediate preemptive invasion of Iraq. Not Clinton, not Blair, not Congress, nor any of our allies. That decision was Bush’s and Bush’s alone. Bush used the bully pulpit to bully Congress into it, and to instill fear in the American people. At the end of the day, the best that can be said about his decision to invade Iraq is that it was a war of choice, it was Bush’s choice to wage it, he went in precipitously and without a plan, and it has turned out to be one of the worst blunders in the history of America.

The plain fact is, he had at least two alternatives to war, and he had time to let them play out. With the UN inspectors in Iraq, Hussein could not have launched an attack without our having advance knowledge of it, even if he’d had WMDs.

On the one hand, Bush could have insisted that our intelligence agencies get better information before launching a war. Simple, and prudent.

Alternatively, he could have relied on deterrence, diplomacy and containment to keep Hussein in line, as we did with the far more dangerous Soviet Union for fifty plus years, as his father and Clinton did with Iraq, and as we are doing now with North Korea.

We now know that two of those efforts were successful, and the third is likely to be. The Soviet Union was defeated. As the 911 Commission and the Duefler report confirm, Iraq was deterred and contained. And North Korea appears to be heading toward a favorable outcome since we started using diplomacy.

But the President didn’t choose any of those options. He chose instead to immediately send our young men and women to war on the flimsiest of evidence, and that war – in execution and concept – has been the single greatest foreign policy disaster in the history of the nation. And he misled Congress and the American people in order to do it.

Now, in Bush’s latest draft of history, he claims we went to war to bring democracy to the Middle East. If that’s true, why didn’t he wait until we were ready? Are we to believe there was an emergency democratization crisis?

For all the talk of honoring our troops, we can do them no greater disservice than to send them into a war before every other alternative has been exhausted. And honoring our troops means giving them all they need to wage the war in terms of equipment, international and domestic support, and a plan for winning the peace, as well as waging the war. Mr. Bush had time for all of that, but he chose not to take that time, and he put our young soldiers at risk as a result.

The real rewrite of history is what the administration did to bring us to war – what’s happening now is simply what usually happens with history – the cobwebs of deceit are being swept aside as the clarifying lens of time and distance reveals the truth.
John Atcheson's writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, as well as in several policy journals. He is currently completing an eco-thriller novel; 'A Being Darkly Wise.'


No Sex, But Plenty of Lies and Videotape

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War on Brats - 11/20/05

Hmmm, very interesting. The main reason I won’t go to movie theaters any more than I have to is because of public rudeness. So, while I may miss the big screen experience of a blockbuster movie, it is usually ruined anyway by kids and adults, talking or kicking my seat, and kids running up and down the aisles. Restaurants are no different, and while the child bearing adults may feel they have the right to take a break, too, they don’t have the right to invade my rest and recreation by inflicting their ill-behaved kids on me. It’s the old argument about individual freedom. My freedom to swing my fists stops at the end of your nose, or considerably farther away than  that because ‘assault’ is crime and it is not the same as ‘battery’ which is actual contact.

So, what’s your opinion? Comments are welcome. —pseudolus


Cafe's move to boot bad kids kicks up skirmish between the childless and the child-centered.
By Jodi Wilgoren / New York Times

CHICAGO -- Bridget Dehl shushed her 21-month-old son Gavin, then clapped a hand over his mouth to squelch his tiny screams amid the Sunday brunch bustle. When Gavin kept yelping "yeah, yeah, yeah," Dehl quickly whisked him from his highchair and out the door.

Right past the sign warning the cafe's customers that "Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven," and right into a nasty spat roiling the stroller set in Chicago's changing Andersonville neighborhood.

The owner of A Taste of Heaven, Dan McCauley, said he posted the sign -- at child level, with playful handprints -- in the hope of quieting his tin-ceilinged cafe, where toddlers have been known to sprawl between tables and hurl themselves at display cases for sport.

But many neighborhood mothers took umbrage at the implied criticism of how they handle their children. Soon, whispers of a boycott passed among the playgroups in this North Side hamlet, once an outpost of edgy artists and hip gay couples but now a hot real estate market for young professional families shunning the suburbs.

"I love people who don't have children who tell you how to parent," said Alison Miller, 35, a psychologist, corporate coach and mother of two. "I'd love for him to be responsible for three children for the next year and see if he can control the volume of their voices every minute of the day."

McCauley, 44, said the protesting parents are "former cheerleaders and beauty queens" who "have a very strong sense of entitlement." In an open letter to the community, he warned of an "epidemic" of anti-social behavior.

"Part of parenting skills is teaching kids they behave differently in a restaurant than they do on the playground," McCauley said. "If you send out positive energy, positive energy returns to you. If you send out energy that says I'm the only one that matters, it's going to be a pretty chaotic world."

And so simmers another skirmish between the childless and the child-centered, a culture clash increasingly common in restaurants and other public spaces as a new generation of busy, older, well-off parents ferry little ones with them.

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Scalia: "The Election Was Dragged Into The Courts By The Gore People. We Did Not Go Looking For Trouble"...

This is just maddening! While the admin is busy ranting about the Democrats ‘rewriting’ history, they are busy doing just that. Here’s their favorite Justice spewing nonsense about Gore being the cause of the 2000 election having to be settled in the Supreme Court. Funny, you’d think a man with the least bit of legal knowledge would know that a case called ‘Bush v. Gore’ meant that Bush was the plaintiff not Gore. But what do you expect, it is the same ol’ crap they have been dishing out since Dec. 2000;  “Gore is the troublemaker.” “Gore won’t be satisfied by a Florida recount.” “Gore is just a sore loser.” 

You can read a fine analysis of the election, at the link below, by a man no one can accuse of being a ‘squishy liberal’, Vincent Bugliosi. (The prosecutor most famous for bringing down Charlie Manson.)

None Dare Call it Treason



AP/Sang H. Park

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the high court did not inject itself into the 2000 presidential election.

Speaking at the Time Warner Center last night, Scalia said: "The election was dragged into the courts by the Gore people. We did not go looking for trouble."

But he said the court had to take the case.

"The issue was whether Florida's Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court [would decide the election.] What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn't important enough?"

The conservative justice, who grew up in Queens, contended there would have been a difficult transition had the court not stepped in.

The New York Post | Posted November 22, 2005 09:44 AM

you can read the whole thing here, if you want to waste the nickel:

<a href=””>NY Post</a>

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Langa Letter: A Complete PC Maintenance Checklist > November 21, 2005

Fred Langa offers a comprehensive plan for keeping your PC in absolute top-notch condition.
By Fred Langa

Thwack! That was the sound of me slapping myself in the forehead.

It happened the other day, while I was working through the normal monthly maintenance on my primary PC. Everything was going smoothly; routine maintenance tends to prevent many problems from developing in the first place; and can catch any others when they're small and easy to correct.

I'll admit I'm a bit of a fanatic about maintenance because I depend on my PC to make a living; I probably go further than most people would need or want to. But odds are you use a PC at work or in a home office or recreationally, and the smooth, trouble-free operation of your PC is either essential to getting your work done, or is an important part of your after-hours life. Some level of routine PC preventative maintenance would be good for your PC, too. That's why we've covered many of the separate steps and techniques of PC maintenance in this space and in my newsletter.

But the "thwack" moment came when I realized I'd never stitched all the pieces together into a comprehensive whole for you -- I'd never itemized the steps in checklist form to make it easy for you to select exactly which maintenance steps you want to follow, and when. Let me correct that oversight today.

In this article, I'll tell you all the maintenance steps I take on a daily, weekly, monthly, semiannual, and annual basis.


read it all here:

InformationWeek > PC Maintenance > Langa Letter: A Complete PC Maintenance Checklist > November 21, 2005

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US Corporate Excess Under Fire as Unions Go On the Attack

US unions, weakened by public apathy and internal splits, are fighting back with an online database that accuses corporate supremos of lining their own pockets while grinding down their employees.

US corporate excess under fire as unions go on the attack
Business leaders are deeply unhappy at the online initiative of the AFL-CIO workers' federation, accusing union bosses of taking a cheap shot when complex issues are at stake.

But the AFL-CIO affiliate behind the site, Working America, says there is nothing cheap about the pay packages on offer to the favoured few while millions of blue-collar Americans fret about losing their jobs and benefits.

"The public should be able to question the outrageous pay of CEOs at a time when jobs are being outsourced every day and their health and safety is endangered every day," Working America deputy director Robert Fox told AFP.

The site at has information on more than 60,000 US companies, detailing their violations of health and safety legislation, their outsourcing of jobs overseas and the pay deals for chief executives.

The group says it had to fight hard to prise health and safety data out of the government, resorting to the Freedom of Information Act only to find the data was kept on reel-to-reel computer tapes or decades-old IBM cartridges.

"It's been virtually impossible for normal people to gain access to this kind of information, certainly not on an easily accessible site like this," Fox said.

Citing a study by compensation consultant Pearl Meyer and Partners for The New York Times, the AFL-CIO says that in 2004, the average CEO of a major company received 9.84 million dollars in total compensation.

The average shop-floor worker, in contrast, earned 27,485 dollars.

The highest paid CEO of last year, according to Working America, was Yahoo's Terry Semel, who earned 109.3 million dollars in salary, stock options and perks.

For that kind of money, the AFL-CIO said, more than 53,000 uninsured workers could gain health coverage or just under 27,000 working mothers could receive daycare for their children for one year.

The site's new "Jobtracker" function names 71 companies in Michigan, in the US industrial heartland, that have outsourced jobs to cheaper bases and another 1,951 that have violated health and safety regulations in the state.

Employers' groups are scathing about the database. They note the AFL-CIO has been losing members for decades and earlier this year, suffered a split when seven of its unions formed a rival group called the Change to Win Coalition.

"It's a desperate act by a desperate group that's slowly disappearing and slowly losing relevance," said Pat Cleary, senior vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers.

"They've been on this anti-business beat for 20 years or so and it's not resonated with the public yet, so I don't think it will start to resonate any time soon," he added.

About 12.5 percent of US workers were union members in 2004, according to government statistics, down from about one-third a half-century ago. In the private sector, unions represent only about eight percent of employees.

University of Maryland business professor Peter Morici said the unions were shooting themselves in the foot.

"It's unfortunate that the AFL-CIO has resorted to mudslinging at corporate leaders instead of espousing a coherent view of what it intends to do to safeguard American workers' jobs," he said.

"If they continue down this road, all they're going to do is encourage more American companies to up stake and outsource their jobs overseas."

Working America is unapologetic. "We want to shine a spotlight on behaviour that damages the quality of life of American workers," Fox said.

© 2005 AFP

US Corporate Excess Under Fire as Unions Go On the Attack

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Why We Should De-Couple Health Care From Employment

Why We Should De-Couple Health Care From Employment

Published on Friday, November 18, 2005 by
Why We Should De-Couple Health Care From Employment
by Robert B. Reich

Wal-Mart and General Motors have been in the news recently for their efforts to cut the costs of their employee health insurance. They singled out mainly because they’re so large. As health costs soar across the economy, every company that once provided full heath coverage to its employees is actively paring it back.

So why not go all the way? Let’s de-couple health care from employment.

The reason employers ever got into the business of providing their workers health insurance in the first place is it’s a form of payment that’s not taxed. That made it attractive to both employers and employees, before medical costs skyrocketed.

Yet even though employer-provided health care is now shrinking, it still constitutes the biggest tax break in the whole federal tax system. According to recent estimates, if health-care benefits were considered taxable income, employees would be paying $126 billion a year more in income taxes than they do now.

Think of employer-provided health care as a kind of back-door, $126 billion-a-year health insurance system. But what a bizarre system it is. First, you’re not eligible for it when you and your family are likely to need it the most – when you lose your job. And these days, that’s happening more and more. Employers are slashing their payrolls. No job is safe. Why add to employees’ anxieties by ending their health insurance just when they’re shown out the door?

Second, the system distorts the whole labor market. It prevents lots of people from changing jobs for fear they’ll lose their health insurance, or won’t get the benefits they do now. And it invites employers to game the system by seeking young, healthy employees who pose low risks of ill-health while rejecting older employees who are likely to have more costly health needs. It also encourages employers to try to push their married employees onto their spouse’s health insurance plan so that the spouse’s employer bears the cost.

Finally, the system is upside down. The lower your pay, the less coverage you’re likely to have. Workers in the lowest paying jobs have no health insurance at all. But the higher your pay, the more health coverage you get – with top executives getting gold-plated plans guaranteeing top-notch medical attention for just about every health risk you can imagine.

This means that the $126 billion tax subsidy goes mainly to upper-income people. Lower-income workers are losing their employer coverage. And the loss is happening at exactly the same time the costs of private health insurance are going through the roof.

For all these reasons, it’s time for the nation to wise up. Instead of condemning companies for looking for ways to cut their health bills, we ought to be instructing companies to stop providing health benefits altogether. Eliminate the current $126 billion tax subsidy. Use the money instead as a down payment on a universal and affordable system of health insurance – available to everyone regardless of how much they earn, where they work, or even whether they have a job.

Robert B. Reich, a professor at Brandeis University, is the author most recently of "Reason" (2004, Alfred A. Knopf). He was secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.

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