Random Musings
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
CNN.com - Clark: Bush lacks will to find bin Laden - Dec. 17, 2003: "[Clark] added, 'We've got a president who will go halfway around the world for a photo opportunity but won't go halfway across town for a funeral for an American serviceman.
'I've been to those funerals. I've comforted families. ... I don't think you can make good policy at the top if you don't understand the impact at the bottom of your organization.'
Bush has on only two or three occasions met with the families of fallen servicemen and women, most recently at Fort Carson, Colorado, and he has not attended funerals or greeted caskets returning from Iraq.
A senior administration official told The Washington Post in November, 'The president believes funerals are a time for grieving families to be together and mourn their loved ones and celebrate their lives, and he has not felt comfortable intruding on that.' "

I've wondered about this a bit myself, why President Bush has given so little attention to the returning casualties, and this is the first good explanation I've heard. I would hope that the families of those casualties will at some point receive some kind of condolance from the President. However it does make sense to me that the President wouldn't want to drag an army of television cameras and the general media circus that follows him into what must be a difficult time for those families.


Yahoo! News - 13 Die, 22 Wounded, as Truck Bomb Explodes in Baghdad: "Brig. Sabah Fehad al-Obeidy said the police pulled the bodies of two men with long beards out from inside the truck's cab. "

I don't mean to be insensitive in the face of this tragedy, but does it make sense that they would send two guys to carry out a suicide bombing? Perhaps we should make available mini-vans, preferably the kind with room to seat 7. That might speed this issue to a resolution.


Tuesday, December 16, 2003
BBC NEWS | Europe | France awaits headscarf decision: "French President Jacques Chirac is expected to express his support for a law that would ban pupils wearing Islamic headscarves in schools. "

While I certainly support separation of church and state I think that the banning of items required by ones religion in school is an effort doomed to failure or unintended consequence. Muslims, for example, are muslims all the time -- not just after school. If their beliefs tell them that they must cover their heads in public then they are not likely to be swayed from that belief just because Mr. Chirac rules that they should be.

I suspect that this will only cause discord and perhaps even result in a large number of muslim girls being taken out of school rather than attend and violate their beliefs.

The same is true of jews and other groups who have proscribed clothing or symbols that they believe they must wear.


BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Aviators mark 100 years of flight: "It is 100 years since Orville Wright took to the air in the 'Flyer' for a flight lasting 12 seconds that carried him just over 30 metres. "

In conjunction with this the Discovery Channel has re-aired an episode of "Junkyard Mega-Wars" featuring three teams building "turn of the century" flying machines (http://junkyardwarsonline.tripod.com/specials/flight/flight1.html). The results were really quite remarkable. While the Americans came up with a unique design and the French made an aircraft that was quite nifty looking the British made an actual airplane that flew! And when I say "flew" I mean they made several complete laps of the lake bed at at least a couple of hundred feet of altitude.

It was entirely amazing for an aircraft built in roughly 20 hours out of junk using no modern tools. If you have the opportunity to see this episode, I encourage you to tune in.


Yahoo! News - Bush Appears to Open Door to Same-Sex Unions: "'He (Bush) always said states have the right to pass their own laws, but this president is committed to doing what is legally necessary to protect the sanctity of marriage.' "

If Bush wants to "protect the sanctity of marriage" he'd be better off outlawing these inane "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire" shows which reduce marriage to a game show prize.

Telling two consenting adults who love each other and want to make a life together that they cannot marry while simultaneously celebrating the made-for-television marriage of dim opportunists who are willing to embarrass themselves for public entertainment and the chance at fabulous prizes strikes me as an odd definition of "sanctity."


BBC NEWS | Technology | Iranian bloggers rally against censorship: "Speaking at the UN summit in Geneva, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told delegates that the key requirements of a knowledge based society are a 'commitment to ethical values, human rights and principles of democracy'. "

Sort of an ironic position to take for somebody whose country actively blocks access to political websites.

Really exciting to note that Iranians who wish to get around the limitations on free speech are turning to the Internet, and blogging in particular, as a way to get their message out and share ideas.


InfoWorld: Bush signs bill aimed at controlling spam: December 16, 2003: By : Applications

Call me a cynic but I'm skeptical that this will really have much of an effect. Enforcement will be especially tricky, especially as more and more spammers just shift their operations to off-shore mail servers who are beyond the reach of American law.


PCWorld.com - E-Voting Critics Grow Louder: "In addition to working to rally other technologists to his point of view via a Web site, Dill got involved locally, in Santa Clara County, when he heard about planned purchases of DREs. He credits that controversy with raising the alert and leading to a recent victory for his group: Late last month, California's secretary of state issued a mandate calling for voter-verifiable paper systems to be added to all polling units statewide."

I guess I don't understand why a plain-language paper receipt can't be printed by each voting machine on which the voter can plainly see what vote he or she has cast. Even the pumps at my gas station are able to print a receipt.


Friday, December 05, 2003
CNN.com - Report says missing student's blood found in car - Dec. 5, 2003: "Before his release this year, analysis found him not to be a danger, and he has not been monitored since his release. "

It appears that the analysis was somewhat off the mark. I would hope that the authorities in that state are taking a hard look at how much weight they should lend that analysis in the future.


CNN.com - Report says missing student's blood found in car - Dec. 5, 2003: "Before his release this year, analysis found him not to be a danger, and he has not been monitored since his release. "

It appears that the analysis was somewhat off the mark. I would hope that the authorities in that state are taking a hard look at how much weight they should lend that analysis in the future.


Wednesday, December 03, 2003
ABCNEWS.com : Coroner: Struggle Caused Ohio Man's Death: "'They talk about Skip like he was an animal,' said his grandmother, Bessie Jones. 'He wasn't. Skipper was just a good old, fat jolly fella. He wasn't violent.'
'Everyone he met, that he touched, loved him,' said his aunt, Diane Payton. 'He was never mean.'"

I suppose it's a tribute to the love these people have for the man that they can publicly say these things just as all of us are watching videotape of the man violently attacking police officers.

Obviusly he was violent, at least this time. It's a tragedy this had to happen, but when you do drugs and attack police officers things rarely go well for you.

I'm sorry for the family and I'm even sorrier for the city of Cincinnati which now will have to listen to the self-serving bleating of the civic "leaders" who are rushing to make racial hay out of this incident.

If the family files the inevitable civil suit against the police department then the tragedy will be complete.


Yahoo! News - Productivity Makes Best Gains in 20 Years: "In terms of productivity, 'businesses have probably stretched their current work forces about as far as they can stretch,' said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. 'If the growth in the economy continues, businesses would be required to add to their staffs, rather than expect current employees to do it all on a going-forward basis.' "

I sure hope that's true, but it seems a little optimistic to me. I can still remember an infamous claim from the early 20th century that the patent office wasn't necessary because everything that could be invented already had been. Or Bill Gates' oft-quoted statement that 640KB of RAM ought to be enough.

Have we really seen the top of the productivity or are companies simply encouraged by this news and looking to squeeze even more out of their existing employees?

November and December always see hiring surges as retail companies pick up seasonal employees. I'll be impressed if real job recovery is in evidence come February.


Monday, December 01, 2003
Mics found outside sheriff’s office: "SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Dec. 1 — Sheriff’s officials said several wireless microphones discovered outside their headquarters could be the latest of several attempts by journalists to surreptitiously get information on the Michael Jackson molestation case."

It seems as though there is a certain segment of the media that is willing to sink lower and lower in an effort to get the story. I know we've been subjected to the boorish behavior of paparazzi for years, but at least they generally restricted their activities to hounding and photographing celebrities in public places. Now the public's insatiable lust for "Train-Wreck TV" may have finally led to the total death of journalistic ethics.

First the hidden cameras on Jackson's private plane; now these secret microphones.

Whomever is responsible; shame on you.


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