Monday, May 31, 2010

The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Lawyers

Just wanted to mention one other issue with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. Rep Jeff Miller (R-FL) worked to get this into the bill.

During committee markup, Republicans successfully were able to force an investigation by the DoD Inspector General into the conduct and practices of certain lawyers for terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The amendment, which was offered by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), directs the Pentagon's Inspector General to identify any conduct or practice of such a lawyer that has interfered with the operations of the DoD at Guantanamo Bay, violated any applicable policy of the Department, or violated any law of the U.S.

This is what Miller had to say as a guest blogger on the Heritage Foundation blog.

Last year the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) established the John Adams Project to “support military counsel at Guantanamo Bay.” The mission behind this treacherous enterprise was to identify intelligence officers involved in interrogating Guantanamo Bay detainees and then provide that information to military defense attorneys representing the detainees so that they could attempt to call intelligence personnel to testify. Unfortunately, it appears that their efforts may have been successful, when last year photographs of intelligence personnel were found in the cells of detainees. News reports indicate that American citizens hired private investigators to surreptitiously photograph intelligence personnel and provide them to enemies of this nation. If true, the disgraceful actions by the individuals involved in the John Adams Project have created a severe security risk for our intelligence community and, ultimately, the American people. Any attempt to identify and expose to potential harm our Nation’s fine intelligence and military officers who serve as our first line of defense is deceitful, shameful, and illegal.

If true, these devious actions by the John Adams Project resulted in three things: One, it has created a significant security risk to intelligence and military personnel, as well as compromised our national security. Two, it would mean that U.S. laws and Department of Defense (DoD) policies have been violated. Third, it would have affected detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay.

It also appears that these pro-bono attorneys likely violated the law protecting classified information. The release of these photos appears to violate 18 USC 798 which prohibits the disclosure of classified information. Specifically, the release of the faces of these CIA officers to a foreign enemy is illegal.


Notice the "if true's" and "appears". Had any attorneys done anything illegal, then there would have been an investigation, charges filed, etc. But nothing of the sort took place--because no laws were violated. Attorneys, regardless of who they represent, are required to represent their clients zealously. And Guantanamo detainees need adequate and zealous representation just as much as any person charged with a crime, and yet even more so when you consider we are imprisoning people whom we are unable to try even with a military commission.

Both the Obama and Bush administration's record is pretty dismal when it comes to detainees challenging their detention.

Miller says:

Lastly, these actions may have negatively impacted detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay. The facility holds the most dangerous terrorists and foreign fighters detained during the operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism. You are not sent to this facility unless you have directly harmed or conspired to harm American troops, our allies, or innocent civilians.

During jury selection in a trial, should a juror express the belief that the person being charged must be guilty since they are being charged--nevermind the evidence--that juror would be excused. The record shows that many of the Guantanamo detainees were either innocent or presumably so because of lack of any evidence. Yes, there are some for whom they have evidence and who can be tried. Fine, then do so.

But Miller wants us to believe, like that misguided juror, that the detainees are not innocent because they are being detained. And what Miller is trying to do is chill the attorneys so they are unable to represent their clients as strongly as they should.

Getting an innocent man declared innocent after being imprisoned for so long makes us look bad. And we wouldn't want that. Like Miller, we all want to stand "strongly on the side of the American people, vociferously fighting for security, liberty, and freedom..." And screw everybody else.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name

The Republican House leaders imposed a temporary moratorium on earmarks for their fellow Republican members last March.

House Republicans in line to chair important committees want less-stringent earmark spending rules next year, when they hope to be in control of the chamber.

Senior Republicans are pushing for a policy that would allow earmarks, the provisions lawmakers insert in spending bills to fund projects in their districts, but would make the process more transparent. House GOP leaders imposed a temporary moratorium on all earmarks in March in a bid to demonstrate fiscal discipline in an election year.


Recognizing that some former recipients would get left out, Cathy McMorris Rodgers sent a letter to the Washington Grain Commission informing them of the moratorium.

Lawmakers are seeking input from the Washington Grain Commission to ensure projects receive funding after Republicans declared a moratorium on earmarks.

Mike Poulson, agriculture and natural resource policy director for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., spoke to the Washington Grain Commission board of commissioners May 19 during their annual meeting in Spokane.

In March, McMorris Rodgers sent a letter to Washington Grain Commission Program Director Mary Palmer Sullivan, informing the commission of the House Republican Conference's March 11 decision to adopt a one-year moratorium on all earmarks.

The current economic environment and a mounting federal debt drove the decision, McMorris Rodgers stated in the letter.

The House Republican Conference will be working to establish a "more consistent and equitable way" to fund necessary programs and projects during the moratorium, she added.

Poulson said the moratorium does not reflect a lack of support for agricultural research.

"At the time the congressmen agreed to that moratorium, it was not without recognition that we still have these much-needed areas we have to figure out a way to fund," he said.

Poulson asked for feedback from the commission on steps legislators can take to establish a new method of funding.

Commission chair Dana Herron asked Poulson and McMorris Rodgers to draft legislation to have an alternate mechanism in place to ensure programs and research priorities to receive funding.

Sullivan said several Washington programs that are annual allocations, such as Solutions to Economic and Environmental Problems, the Columbia Plateau PM10 Project and the regional Barley Genome Mapping Project, are considered earmarks. Commissioners stressed the need for an alternative to earmarks soon, and said they will respond to Poulson's request for feedback.

"In the long run, what this means is we're going to be in a better position," Poulson told the Capital Press. "Many of these things should not have had to go through the earmark process annually."

Poulson said the situation is timely, with discussions going on about the next farm bill.


Whether by earmark or an "alternative mechanism", the Washington Grain Commission projects are still funded by our tax money. While people focus on earmarks, constituting a drop in the federal bucket, the more appropriate question is, "What is the money being used for?" Money allocated for specific projects can be wasteful and an earmark can be an appropriate use of federal funds.

In the meantime, I suggest the Washington Grain Commission may benefit from this new web site developed by the Republican Party with our tax dollars.

Krauthammer's Alternate Universe

Charles Krauthammer's op-ed in the Review today comes out of left field through a tear in the space-time continuum. The blame for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico lies with environmentalists.

As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama’s tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we’ve had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Note that Krauthammer says "As production from..." Well if the oil runs out, as it does for every well, then they drill elsewhere. How many oil wells are there in the gulf? In a Wired article three years ago, they state there are over 3,500 oil production platforms. And each platform has multiple wells.

Krauthammer, continuing with his cluelessness, states:

So we go deep, ultra deep – to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

If we go back to the Wired article we find it is primarily about deep water drilling expressing capabilities that exceed that of the recently exploded and sunken oil platform.

Today, deep-sea rigs are capable of reaching down 40,000 feet, twice as deep as a decade ago: plunging their drills through 10,000 feet of water and then 30,000 more feet of seabed.

Why are they out there in such deep water?

The mother lode of oil in the deepwater Gulf is so significant that Tahiti and other successful fields in this region are expected to soon produce enough crude to reverse the long-standing decline in US oil production of about 10 percent per year. (Note: Tahiti is the name of this 30-square-mile oil field.)

They're not drilling in deep water because environmentalists pushed them out there. There's much simpler reason. That's where the oil is.

I, and I think many others, don't really grasp the complexity of deep water drilling. So have a look at the behemoth known as Perdido Spar.

Given that, I think Krauthammer may be right about one thing when he says, There will always be catastrophic oil spills.

Fiscal Responsibility

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been under development for a number of years now and is slated to become the fighter aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and Marines.

For the U.S. Navy, the JSF will be used in a "first day" of war, as a survivable strike fighter aircraft to complement F/A-18E/F. The U.S. Air Force will employ it as a multirole aircraft, primary-air-to-ground, which will replace the F-16 and A-10 and to complement the F-22. The Marine Corps will use the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft to replace the AV-8B and F/A-18A/C/D.

And let's not forget we will sell this to other countries.

The United Kingdom became a full collaborative partner in the program in 1995. Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Canada and Italy subsequently joined the program as cooperative partners. Singapore, Turkey and Israel are foreign military sales participants for this [Systems Development and Demonstration] phase.

A primary selling point in developing an aircraft with "70 to 90 percent commonality factor for all the variants" is "significantly reducing manufacturing, support and training costs." We want a plane that's more affordable in the long haul.

Duplications of efforts are being avoided, technology is more effectively leveraged, and greater economies of scale are being achieved through the joint acquisition of the F-35.

Affordability is the cornerstone of the F-35 program. It is achieved in large part through a very high level of common parts and systems across the three versions of the aircraft. Support costs are forecast to be about half that of present-day fighters, and streamlined assembly methods will cut production time significantly.


Pratt & Whitney and GE/Rolls Royce are each developing their own engine for the aircraft. The Department of Defense has now decided they don't need a second engine and wants to reduce costs by going with the primary contractor, Pratt & Whitney. GE is not happy about that because the engine contract will be worth billions over the lifetime of the aircraft.

Two days ago the House voted on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. The purpose of the amendment was to remove funding for the second engine. Note that this is an unrequested competitive (alternative) engine for the Joint Strike Fighter placed in the bill by the Republican party. The amendment was defeated with bipartisan support for and against. Check out the arguments for and against the amendment on the GOP web site (scroll down to #80):

* Arguments in Favor of Amendment: Some Members may be concerned that the Obama Administration and Bush Administrations opposed funding the alternative engine on grounds that it is "costly and unnecessary." Secretary Gates has suggested a presidential veto if Congress funds the second engine noting that finishing development would cost $2.9 billion over the next six years.

* Arguments Against Amendment: Some Members may be concerned that competition should be a guiding principle in defense procurement and this amendment would essentially result in a sole source, 25-year contract. Additionally, through FY 2010, the government has already invested about $2.9 billion in the alternate engine development. Members may believe that a competitive engine development program would better ensure an affordable, reliable engine, and protect against the operational risk of having up to 95 percent of the entire U.S. fighter fleet dependent on one engine. The Heritage Foundation believes that a single engine contract "constitutes an unacceptably high risk."


In this case "competition" means Congress giving the military money to buy something it doesn't want or need from a manufacturer specified by Congress. The rationale that we've already spent $2.9 billion so another $485 million wouldn't matter flies in the face of reason. In the long run, having two different engines from two different manufacturers will cost a lot more than having the single source. A single source is a risk, but it hasn't proven disastrous for other aircraft. That's why they undergo years of testing before they go into production.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Burning Sunset

Back To Moderated Comments

Lousy spammers.

Be Careful What You Ask For

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers wants to know if you're ready to speak out. In an article yesterday, she expresses her concern for us being able to keep our great republic.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to stop these spending policies that weaken our economy at the expense of China and other powers. We cannot let this problem fester any longer. Action must be taken before the problem becomes unmanageable.

Every day, our survival is threatened by radical Islamic terrorists whose aim is to kill innocent men, women, and children, even at the cost of their own lives.

Vital American institutions — from our schools to our banks to our hospitals — are being threatened by more federal control and interference.

Our families are being harmed by an erosion of traditional values.

Our entire culture is under siege from a “just do it” mentality that leaves no room for sacrifice, service, or patriotism.

The spirit of September 12, 2001 — the feeling that we are one people united by our love of one country — has been lost but not forgotten.

Personally, I believe there is nothing wrong with the American government that can’t be cured by the wisdom of the American people.


So let's have a look at that wisdom. In the category of "Terrorism Abroad" these are the ideas that have received the highest number of votes:


In the category of "Life":


In the category of "Defense/Military":


In the category of "Ethics":


Welcome to the Internet. All this and more is on America Speaking Out and it is paid for with your tax dollars. Which leads to a couple of related submissions in the "Waste" category.


Hmmm, you know...it just might work.

It May Not What It Appears To Be

According to Agenda 21 Is Evil, the sustainability movement as outlined by Agenda 21 is a clever, environmental-friendly worded secret plan of the United Nations to obtain total control over our lives. They provide some helpful hints to clarify the language.

Translating UN Agenda 21 buzz-words:
* When you hear “sustainability” think “government control.”
* When you hear “equity” think “socialism.”
* When you hear “democracy” think “majority-approved theft.”
* When you hear “public education” think “government indoctrination centers.”
* When you hear “consensus” think “different opinions are not to be tolerated.”
* When you hear "growth management" or "smart growth" think "stack 'em and pack 'em housing."
* When you hear "comprehensive planning" think "deprivation of property rights."


And in exposing the duplicity of Agenda 21, they also warn:

Now many of the goals and concepts behind “sustainability” do not sound bad at all. Tyranny and government oppression is never marketed as such in the open – one always must have publicly admirable goals in order to justify any agenda that a regime is trying to promote.

Here are some of the key arguments in their exposé of Agenda 21.

The United States was founded on the principles of natural law codified in our Constitution, which formed and guaranteed a republican form of government. I am not talking about the political party, I am talking about the form of government where the rule of law governs above the whims of mankind.
...
Democracy, on the other hand, is the rule of the majority, not the rule of law. The United States was not set up as a democracy as our founders despised democracy because it undermined the very reason for the foundation of civil government: the protection of private property.
...
Unfortunately, our republic is being destroyed. Individual rights, as guaranteed by the United States Constitution, are being mocked and dismissed by our public school system. Instead of teaching the true history and intent of our country’s Founders, public education has become the most useful tool to justify corrupt Supreme Court decisions which ignore the framer's intent, and treat the document as a living, breathing entity which can be changed at will by the same government it is supposed to be constraining ....However, foundations long advocating a global socialist economy, like the Carnegie Foundation, have infiltrated our schools. They indoctrinate our children by convincing them that we are a “democracy,” where public theft is legitimized for the sake of “equity”, instead of a “republic,” where private property is respected, hard work is rewarded, and our rights are commensurate to our responsibilities.
(Bolding in the original)

That part about "our rights are commensurate to our responsibilities" reminds me of the law from Animal Farm stating "All animals are equal" and it later being corrupted to "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Back to the exposé.

That brings us back to this religion of false environmentalism. In order to get people to give up their natural rights, you have to redirect their focus on something greater than themselves. In time of war, it is patriotism – the need to defeat the other side....The answer involved creating a series of new wars against ideas, instead of actual nation-states, i.e. War on Drugs, War on Terror, War on Environmental Pollution. The most intriguing idea generated in the report was the ability to mobilize people to confront an environmental crisis by convincing them that if they did not act in submission to their government in support of these goals they risked their own lives and the lives of future generations. Such language pervades UN Agenda 21. In the Report from Iron Mountain they even suggest deliberately polluting the environment or making up a fake crisis in order for people to submit to a more powerful government. (Bolding in the original)

Note that The Report From Iron Mountain was a work of satire that was amazingly passed off as an official government panel's report.

It is no wonder that large financial interests financed Lenin's Bolshevik takeover of the Soviet Union, the rise of Hitler's national socialism in Germany, and Chairman Mao's Communist revolution in China. In none of these centrally controlled tyrannies was the lot of the poor made better; however, those in power exercised tremendous control over those below them. Those in control lived lavishly, not like the Communist dream of “equity” in the idealist literature. Socialism is the lie spoon fed to the masses, like the ideals of democracy, sustainability, and manmade climate change, to get people to go along with the corporatist takeover of their property rights. This is what we are fighting. It is “We the People”, as individuals and small business owners, against global multinational corporations who promote the sustainability agenda to increase control and corporate profits, making the average person dependent on these same corporations and the state itself.

Now if you thought what you've read so far wasn't crazy enough, check this out.

The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) is an association of local governments from around the world promoting and implementing sustainability programs at the local level.

This is David Cadman, president of ICLEI since 2007

This is Mike Fagan of the Spokane Patriots. He is antagonistic towards ICLEI, Agenda 21, and sustainability.

OMFG!!! It's the same frickin' guy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Weird Stuff

Mariah mentioned the Agenda Is Evil web site on her Facebook page yesterday. So I had to take a look.

Here is the domain name information:

Registrant:
Chris Bass
3325 Lorna Road 2-314
Birmingham, AL 35216
US

Registrar: NAMESDIRECT
Domain Name: AGENDA21ISEVIL.COM
Created on: 07-APR-10
Expires on: 07-APR-11
Last Updated on: 07-APR-10

Administrative, Technical Contact:
Bass, Chris administrator@arminarm.org
3325 Lorna Road 2-314
Birmingham, AL 35216
US
205-383-4753


I thought it odd that a site concerning Spokane would be owned by someone in Birmingham, AL. I have no idea who Chris Bass is. The site is hosted by Tierpoint LLC which is located in Liberty Lake, WA.

Bass's email address caught my attention and sent me off on a tangent. I went to arminarm.org and found a low key "grassroots" site for organizing your neighborhood, stockpiling enough food for a year, and generally focusing on preparing for the next great catastrophe.

From the mission statement:

To unite and support Americans in their local communities to prepare for any catastrophic event, be it manmade or natural, political or economic in nature--by proposing, developing, and implementing solutions to our most immediate concerns.

Interestingly, among the many resource sites on Arm In Arm, they list S.C.O.P.E. Spokane which makes me think the site owner is local.

The domain information does not list a contact name, but does reflect the site is hosted by Tierpoint in Liberty Lake.

Arm In Arm doesn't appear to have any registered users. The classified ads, polls, event calendar and forums are empty. And this is a site that's been in existence since Feb 2009.

Room To Park Now That The Branches Are Trimmed

Duly reported.

Don't Panic And Carry A Towel

Don't forget your towel today. I think the struggle to know where one's towel is is something we all have in common.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Something For Bloggers Everywhere

My Troll

My troll stays safely hidden.
You'll never know it by sight.
I wouldn't know if I passed it by
On any day or night.

It has an opinion on everything
And knows more than you or I.
My troll will say so every time,
But never look you in the eye.

The shadows give my troll the courage
To assert and pontificate.
Sadly my troll's greatest strength
Is simply to irritate.

When offered a serving of food for thought
It resolutely starves its mind.
My troll claims only it sees the truth
And all others must be maligned.

You may hear my troll shout out at times
With fury or with malice.
A blunderbuss whose repartee
Is with feelings hard and calloused.

So when you hear it agitate,
Don't let it dark'n your day.
If we all pretend that it's not there
Maybe it will go away.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

'Cause The Kids Might See

Going through this morning's Spokesman Review, I was digging through the ads trying to find the comics. A photo of a large-breasted woman wearing a red bra could not help but catch my eye. The Lane Bryant ad was for "The lingerie TOO HOT for TV!" It turns out some networks have been refusing to air certain Lane Bryant commercials.

We all know kids don't read the paper so it's okay to put the ad there. :-)

Another Reason To Ride A Bike

Here is an excerpt from IBM's patent application for a 'System and Method for Controlling Vehicle Engine Running State at Busy Intersections for Increased Fuel Consumption Efficiency.'

BACKGROUND

Vehicle fuel consumption is a major component of global energy consumption. With increasing vehicle usage, there may be more traffic and longer wait times at traffic signals (e.g., at a traffic intersection or a railway crossing). Fuel may be wasted when drivers keep their vehicles running while waiting for the traffic signal to turn "green" or waiting for a train to pass at a railway crossing. Most drivers may not switch off their engines in these situations. Drivers who do switch off their engines may do so inefficiently. For example, a driver may switch off the engine, only to start it up a short time later. In such cases, more fuel may be consumed in restarting the engine. Some traffic signals may have clocks that indicate remaining durations before the signals change. However, drivers in vehicles waiting at the back of the queue may not be able to view the clock.

SUMMARY

The present disclosure is directed to a method for managing engines in response to a traffic signal. The method may comprise establishing communications with a plurality of participating vehicles; responding to a stop status indicated by the traffic signal, further comprising: receiving a position data from each participating vehicles; determining a queue comprising a list of participating vehicles stopped at the traffic signal; determining a remaining duration of the stop status; sending a stop-engine notification to the list of participating vehicles stopped at the traffic signal when the remaining duration is greater than a threshold of time; responding to a proceed status indicated by the traffic signal, further comprising: sending a start-engine notification to a first vehicle in the queue; calculating an optimal time for an engine of a second vehicle in the queue to start when the first vehicle starts moving; and sending the start-engine notification to the second vehicle in the queue at the optimal time.


On the bright side, we could take down the photo-red cameras since the traffic signal will be shutting down car engines. Hmmm, but it's only for "participating vehicles".

Necessary Medical Tests

After Josh staggered across the finish line, he collapsed on the track. He was taken to the medical tent. He was pale, light headed, and very tired. He said he just wanted to sleep. The paramedics were called over to check him out and they recommended he go to the Emergency Room and get some fluids in him. There was no way he was going to make it to my car so he went in an ambulance and I drove to the hospital.

At the ER I found that the ambulance crew had started an IV and Josh was beginning to look and feel better. Blood was drawn for testing and they ran an electrocardiogram. Then the doc told me they'd also like to do a chest X-ray. Curious about that, I asked what he was looking for.

The doc asked if I had ever heard of athletes who suddenly drop dead. Yes, I had. He said there's a rare heart condition that affects about three or four athletes every year. I remarked that there are a lot of athletes to which he agreed. (Let me note that I was looking at the rationale and logic for ordering a test to rule out a very rare condition, but I apparently didn't come across that way. I need to work on explaining myself better.) Misinterpreting what I was getting at, he asked if this was going to be an extravagant personal expense. Not at all, my insurance was going to cover this ER visit and all tests the doctor felt were necessary.

"No," I said, "I wondering if this is a necessary test." Again, I'm not explaining myself well. The doc's demeanor iced over. He got defensive and said he was not trying to churn tests to generate revenue. I missed the clue to reassure the doctor that I did not think he was trying to rip me off.

Here's what I was thinking but not saying: If this is something that affects three or four out of millions of athletes, then we're talking about minuscule odds. Heck, even even if we're only talking about athletes in Eastern Washington, the odds are still extremely small.

I (poorly) explained again that I was questioning the need for the chest X-ray since the purpose of it was to rule out something that's extremely rare. To that he replied, "Well, maybe I overstated the rareness of it." And to that I left unsaid, "If you're not sure of what you're talking about, how can I be?" But I thought that.

The doc reassured me that if it was his child then he'd want the X-ray done. Dang! He nails me with the guilt trip. Because "What if..." and "just in case..." The scene of explaining to Kathy why Josh suddenly dropped dead when I could have had that X-ray done popped into my mind. Totally unfair. But the deal is, I wasn't stopping him from doing the X-ray. I was trying to get a clear and logical reason for doing it. After all, the evidence we had before us was that Josh was very dehydrated and had obviously overexerted himself. The fluids being pumped into him were obviously bringing him back to a normal state. His color returned and he was alert and pretty much back to his normal self.

But now the doctor had to have me say "uncle" by asking me to allow the X-ray. I did. After all, what if, right? Unsurprisingly, the X-ray showed nothing wrong.

Set aside reactions to my side of the story--I'm not looking for validation or anything--and ponder this instead. Do we evaluate and respond logically to the risk factors in our lives? With or without the X-ray and even with all the safety features built into vehicles today, Josh has a far greater chance of dying in a vehicle accident than of this rare heart condition. And yet I allow him to drive a vehicle as well as ride in other vehicles. Instead of three or four athletes, we're looking at over 40,000 people dying every year. Would it be just as prudent, if not more so, to keep Josh off the road as it is to have that X-ray done? Maybe, but hardly practical.

And there's the conundrum we're faced with. At the hospital we often want everything done regardless of the likelihood of success or failure. It's easy to see why when you consider the leading causes of death. All of them involve a disease or some type medical condition except for accidents. And when you think about it, that's normal.

But how do you know when you reach the point where you say stop? Whether it's a test or a procedure, regardless of the expense, do we look at the need or likely result and recognize the odds are so small that there's really no sense in having it done?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Giving It All And Hitting The Wall

I drove back to Yakima this morning to watch Josh in the 1600 meter race. This being the regional meet, there was a very strong field of runners. For 3-1/2 laps Josh held his own staying in the front four on a blistering pace, yet again faster than he's done before. About 20 meters from the finish line Josh ran out of gas. Staggering the last bit in he slipped from fifth to seventh place and yet still finished at 4:20 or 4:21. He gave it everything he had. It was awesome.

*** Update

Josh's time was 4:20.36. He would've finished at 4:18 had he not run out of gas.

Wind Power

I haven't been on I-90 beyond George, Washington, for quite some time. There are a huge number of huge wind turbines along the road as you're climbing west out of Vantage.


I'm Gonna Be So Frickin' Rich

I received this letter in the mail yesterday. The envelope was addressed to my name and address, complete with ZIP Plus Four and "United States". The stamp on the envelope is pictured here on the right. It's from South Africa and has "International Airmail Small Letter" on it. There's no return address. What a surprise, right? Above my address is the text "REACH YOUR CUSTOMERS DIRECTLY : CONTACT OUR DIRECT MAIL CENTRE". Note the non-American-English form of spelling "centre".

The horrible grammar and spelling, all capital letters, tempting me to share information in order to get 25% of "ONE HUNDRED AND EIGTHEEN MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS", and keeping it secret so I don't blow the deal scream of it's authenticity--as a scam.

So don't tell anybody about this, okay? I want to get what's coming to me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Flying Irish-Full Moon Fiasco Duathlon

The stars have aligned to bring two events together for one night. Show up at O'Doherty's at 5:45 pm on Thursday, May 27. Run with the Flying Irish Running Club. Hang out for a bit and then head over to the Swamp by 8:00 pm where you can join the FBC for their Hawaiian Luau-themed Fiasco. A run and a bike ride all in one night. It doesn't get any better than that--especially with beer.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Comment Change

Since traveling and work tend to create lag time for comments to get moderated I'm switching to the word verification. Maybe that'll also stop that nasty spammer whose comments I keep rejecting. Don't worry, you anonymous commenters can still remain so.

KHQ Wants To Know

KHQ has an online poll--and we all know how accurate those are--on their main page that asks, "Do you think it's right for states to boycott Arizona businesses based on Arizona's immigration law?"

Maybe if we were less whitebread and/or more progressive....

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bike To Work Week Kickoff Breakfast

What a great morning to ride to Riverfront Park for some pancakes, coffee, juice, music, water bottles, tire tools, and more.

It was impossible to count the cyclists since they came and went at will. Well, it is bike to work week.

Bill Bender has to be the most impeccably dressed cyclist in Spokane. That's the "czar of Spokane bicycle riding" to Bill's right.

We don't need no chairs.

Guess who?

All in all, lots of happy cyclists. Kudos to Barb Chamberlain, Erika Henry, Lucas McIntyre, Josh Hess, and many more on the BTW committee for their hard work.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Irritatingly Helpful

I replied to an email in my Gmail account and when I clicked the Send button this message popped up.

The sentence it keyed on was, "I'm including their responses here."

So I thought I'd play around.

"See the attached sign on your back that says "kick me" for more information," garnered this response:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I See A Better Marriage Snuggie In My Future

In the world of stupid advertising we now have a blanket that claims to make your marriage better--by absorbing your farts. It uses "...the same type of fabric used by the military to protect against chemical weapons." Yes, that is exactly what they say.

But what I'd like to see are the testimonials. Put on a husband and wife lying under the covers together. Have one of them rip a good one--why does it always have to be the guy?--and make sure the blanket flutters.

Have one of the kids yell from the living room, "Nice one, Dad. We could hear that out here." Then to his siblings, "Remember, twenty minute rule. The big hand is on the 3 and the little hand is on the nine, Sally. So when is it safe to go in their room?" Hey, the kids are learning how to tell time.

Go back to the bedroom where the smiling couple talk about how well the blanket works. Mom can mention the money she'll save on air fresheners and point to all the cans on her nightstand. Dad can get rid of all the matches in his nightstand and not worry about the kids playing with them any more. Pan the camera across the scorch marks. Dude, on the ceiling? You're sick!

Well, no worries now. With the Better Marriage Blanket dad can eat all the deviled eggs he wants right before he goes to bed.

Or he could get a pair of underwear that does the same thing for the same price. Great for farter who's always on the go.

Pot Calling The Kettle Black

In his latest column in the Inlander, entitled "Bipartisan Disgust", former Congressman George Nethercutt highlights the low voter confidence in elected officials, the less than civil discourse on their part and the ugliness of politics in general resulting in a severely divided electorate. And who is to blame? Why President Barack Obama, of course. Go figure. I want to focus on the path Mr Nethercutt takes to reach that conclusion.

Unethical behavior is not unique to either Democrats or Republicans. Both parties have had their share of those who have committed crimes, abused their position, etc.

It’s clear that voters can change their minds as frequently as Barack Obama can propose new government takeovers, but the disturbing trend in all political polling is that most Americans are disgusted with the state of government and quality of elected officials who make decisions for us in Washington, D.C. Sadly, voters are rightly skeptical of their motives, ethics and integrity.

How appropriate for Nethercutt to mention that voters are skeptical of elected officials' motives, ethics, and integrity. As a part of Nethercutt's successful effort to unseat Tom Foley, he emphasized Foley's opposition to term limits and promised to serve three terms. A promise he broke. Idaho's Helen Chenowith (R), also elected in 1994, made the same promise. She kept hers.

Despite the hard rhetoric of the past, the time-honored practices of respectable discourse, compromise and accommodation with opponents over tough issues, and the ultimate resolution of political and philosophical differences for the public good, have given way to the abuses of power that now dominate the halls of government.

Let's have a look at the time-honored practice of respectable discourse, compromise and accommodation that Mr Nethercutt and his fellow Republican congressmen took part in back in November of 2003. It was the Medicare Part D legislation. From the legislative history:

The bill came to a vote at 3 a.m. on November 22. After 45 minutes, the bill was losing, 219-215, with David Wu (D-OR-1) not voting. Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay sought to convince some of dissenting Republicans to switch their votes, as they had in June. Istook, who had always been a wavering vote, consented quickly, producing a 218-216 tally. In a highly unusual move, the House leadership held the vote open for hours as they sought two more votes. Then-Representative Nick Smith (R-MI) claimed he was offered campaign funds for his son, who was running to replace him, in return for a change in his vote from "nay" to "yea." After controversy ensued, Smith clarified no explicit offer of campaign funds was made, but that that he was offered "substantial and aggressive campaign support" which he had assumed included financial support.

About 5:50 a.m., convinced Otter and Trent Franks (AZ-2) to switch their votes. With passage assured, Wu voted yea as well, and Democrats Calvin M. Dooley (CA-20), Jim Marshall (GA-3) and David Scott (GA-13) changed their votes to the affirmative. But Brad Miller (D-NC-13), and then, Republican John Culberson (TX-7), reversed their votes from "yea" to "nay". The bill passed 220-215.

The Democrats cried foul, and Bill Thomas, the Republican chairman of the Ways and Means committee, challenged the result in a gesture to satisfy the concerns of the minority. He subsequently voted to table his own challenge; the tally to table was 210 ayes, 193 noes


Mr Nethercutt pines for those days of respectable discourse, compromise and accommodation. They weren't like today's abuses of power that now dominate the halls of government.

But the overwhelming subliminal message is that Barack Obama is to blame.

Skewered By Colbert

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Friday, May 14, 2010

GSL District Track Meet

Today was the second day of the Greater Spokane League District Track Meet held at Spokane Falls Community College. Josh ran in the 4A 1600 meter race.

That's Adam Thorne of Ferris next to Josh leading the pack after completing the first lap.

He finished third just a squeak behind his teammate, Andrew Gardner, and a second behind Adam Thorne. Josh's time was 4:20 which is a yet another personal best for him. The boy is on fire!

He moves on to the regional meet being held in Yakima a week from now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lewis Black Rules

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A Bike Lane Blocker Twofer

Yard salers. Recognize the freshly trimmed tree?

They Just Want Your Money

A person I know received a 2010 Congressional District Census commissioned by the Republican Party much like this one that came out last February.

Strengthening our Party for the 2010 elections is going to take a massive grassroots efforts all across America.

Have a look at the definition of grassroots and you'll find it's "People or society at a local level rather than at the center of major political activity." A letter from the Republican National Committee would not fit within the definition of a grassroots effort.

Your registered Census is one of a select few being mailed into Washington's 5th Congressional District.

Because of your high level of political involvement and steadfast commitment to the Republican Party, your personal input on the questions presented in your Census Document is critical to our Party's future.


Hmmm, one of a select few who happened to participate in the 2008 Democratic Party caucuses. That's pretty select.

Your completing and returning this Census today is central to our Party's ability to devise a winning Republican strategy in your area -- especially as we take on the Democrats in the fight for the future of our nation. It is absolutely critical that we act immediately to build a state-of--the-art grassroots organization in every district around the country.

Apparently Michael Steele is not aware that Cathy McMorris Rodgers is a safe re-election bet. And there's that top-down grassroots thing again.

And when you send back you completed Census, I urge you to also demonstrate your committment to the Republican Party by including a generous donation of $25, $50, $100, $250 -- or even $500.

Or even? Now we're cutting to the chase. The letter asks for money three times. The so-called Census Document asks for money twice and even includes a craven option. They ask that you enclose $15 to help defray the cost of processing the Census Document. It's like they're an unregulated financial institution or something.

Your opinions will represent literally thousands of Republicans in your Congressional District...

According to the Washington Secretary of State web site, (Excel spreadsheet dated Mar 2010) there are 389,781 registered voters in the 5th Congressional District.

It's difficult to say exactly how many voters are Republican so I'm going by the election results for Cathy McMorris Rodgers which have ranged between 56 and 65 percent. So let's say 60 percent of the 389,781 registered voters are Republican. That gives us 233,869 Republican voters in the 5th District.

So if this one person represents thousands of Republicans, then the RNC mailed this to, what, maybe 100 people in the entire 5th District? I think the meter just red lined.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ignorance More Frequently Begets Confidence Than Does Knowledge*

There's an interesting study (PDF) about how difficulties in recognizing one's own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments by Justin Kruger and David Dunning. This is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. The paper is barely 16 pages in length.

Here are the essential conclusions:

1. Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill.
2. Incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
3. Incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy.
4. If they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill.

From the study:

Perhaps more controversial is the third point, the one that is the focus of this article. We argue that when people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.

...

In short, the same knowledge that underlies the ability to produce correct judgment is also the knowledge that underlies the ability to recognize correct judgment. To lack the former is to be deficient in the latter.


In a self-deprecating concluding paragraph the authors note:

In sum, we present this article as an exploration into why people tend to hold overly optimistic and miscalibrated views about themselves. We propose that those with limited knowledge in a domain suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach mistaken conclusions and make regrettable errors, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Although we feel we have done a competent job in making a strong case for this analysis, studying it empirically, and drawing out relevant implications, our thesis leaves us with one haunting worry that we cannot vanquish. That worry is that this article may contain faulty logic, methodological errors, or poor communication. Let us assure our readers that to the extent this article is imperfect, it is not a sin we have committed knowingly.

I see this all the time--even in me.

* Charles Darwin

All Done With School?

On the way to work this morning I found someone had scattered books and notebooks along the roadway. The blue book in the distance is a textbook and there's another one next to it. That's an easy $200 replacement cost right there. I guess they're not concerned with getting their final grades. Or the cost. Of course, Mom and Dad might have something to say about that.

Fixed

Rode right by this yesterday and I had a nagging feeling something was different. Then I realized I didn't have to swerve into the roadway.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bike To Work Week Is A Week Away

The Sky Is Frickin' Fallin'

Desperate to make an issue that gets her on with the cable talking heads, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has become the Chicken Little of Washington State's 5th District.
Or haven't you noticed?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's Prom Night

Early one morning a few weeks ago, Josh and his friend Cory went to a girl's house. They marked off the driveway with yellow caution tape. Josh laid down on the pavement and Cory drew a chalk outline. Evidence markers were placed and Josh wrote, "Ashley, I'm dying to go to the prom with you."

And she accepted.