Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Grand National

Ok steeplechasing fans, it's Grand National time again.

Stations of the Boss

It's stuff like this that make me happy I work for normal people.

Friday, March 26, 2004

No More Condi?

As Josh Marshall points out the New York Times seems to be implying that Condi Rice may be leaving at the end of this term.
The White House may have sent a phalanx of top officials to Capitol Hill this week to be grilled by the Sept. 11 panel, but the one official who did not appear publicly has turned out to be the official the panel wanted most: Condoleezza Rice.

As she prepares to leave her job at the end of the year, Ms. Rice, the president's national security adviser, now finds herself at the center of a political storm, furiously defending both the White House and her own reputation.

But her effort to blunt the criticism by spending the week on television and in news media briefings may have had the opposite effect. She has infuriated some members of the panel, who wonder why she has time for CNN but not for them. On Thursday they questioned again whether she should be subpoenaed to testify if she does not appear in public to answer questions about the Bush administration's handling of Al Qaeda before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Well, it was news to me.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Mark Cuban Has a Blog Now...

Yes, that Mark Cuban. Even if you're not a basketball fan, Mark's new blog has lots of good stuff. Sports, tech, whatever. Go visit. Have fun.

Thursday, March 18, 2004


I'm too ill to do much blogging for now, but these guys are funny. Put me into a nice coughing fit. What an endorsement. And, as Brad Delong says, they're a bit over the top. But sometimes that's what you need.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Spanish Elections

Kevin Drum at Calpundit has put together a convincing argument that the Spanish election results are better attributed to the ruling party's cynical manipulation of the bombing than to anything like appeasement:
Randy Paul at Beautiful Horizons has an email today from a Spanish friend that fairly convincingly makes the case that the vote turned against Aznar and the PP not because of any sense of appeasement — decidedly not, in fact — but because it had become so transparently clear that Aznar was playing an unusually cynical game of politics with the bombings:
The PP knew that their antiterrorist policy (against ETA) was one of its main winning cards, and they didn't hesitate to blatantly manipulate the 11-M attack, suppressing information, calling people to demonstrate against ETA, knowing all the while that the Antiterrorist Information Brigade had as good as discarded ETA authorship a few hours after the attack. The antiterrorist police heads even threatened to resign at the madness of it all, and this was leaked to the opposition and the press.

And all the while the state TVE showing documentaries about ETA activities right until late Saturday night, on the eve of the election, and failing to report live on Minister Acebes informing about the Al-Q line of investigation which he had been forced to acknowledge — forced by his own angered police heads and by the media which had all the information but was withholding it just long enough for the Minister to do the decent thing. This heartless manipulation of the dead for political gain clinched it.....

Yesterday I wrote that I thought this explanation probably accounted for most of the change in sentiment among the Spanish electorate. Today I'm getting steadily more willing to discard the "probably" and the "most" from that sentence.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

ACM Queue

Tomorrow's computing, today.

Martin Fowler

Martin Fowler, of refactoring fame, has his own site up at martinfowler.com. Lots of good stuff there including articles, development links, and, of course, a blog.

Online C++ Guides

Frank B. Brokken has made his C++ Annotations available on the web. It gives good coverage to the basic C++ features and is handy as a beginning tutorial or if you've just got to check that odd bit of syntax.

Bruce Eckel also has a downloadable version of Thinking in C++ available.

Read. Learn. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

BlackMamba Case Study

Ashwin Jayaprakash uses the BlackMamba spam filter as an introduction to using the MVC with Java Swing.

Friday, March 12, 2004

At Least They Didn't Lie About Sex

The administration's $100M price bump on the Medicare drug benefit seemed fishy and duplicitous at the time. But according to Tony Pugh over at Knight-Ridder, the books were cooked with threads and intimidation:
WASHINGTON - The government's top expert on Medicare costs was warned that he would be fired if he told key lawmakers about a series of Bush administration cost estimates that could have torpedoed congressional passage of the White House-backed Medicare prescription-drug plan.

When the House of Representatives passed the controversial benefit by five votes last November, the White House was embracing an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that it would cost $395 billion in the first 10 years. But for months the administration's own analysts in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had concluded repeatedly that the drug benefit could cost upward of $100 billion more than that.

Withholding the higher cost projections was important because the White House was facing a revolt from 13 conservative House Republicans who'd vowed to vote against the Medicare drug bill if it cost more than $400 billion.

Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, one of the 13 Republicans, said she was "very upset" when she learned of the higher estimate.

"I think a lot of people probably would have reconsidered (voting for the bill) because we said that $400 billion was our top of the line," Myrick said.

Five months before the November House vote, the government's chief Medicare actuary had estimated that a similar plan the Senate was considering would cost $551 billion over 10 years. Two months after Congress approved the new benefit, White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten disclosed that he expected it to cost $534 billion.

Richard S. Foster, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which produced the $551 billion estimate, told colleagues last June that he would be fired if he revealed numbers relating to the higher estimate to lawmakers.

"This whole episode which has now gone on for three weeks has been pretty nightmarish," Foster wrote in an e-mail to some of his colleagues June 26, just before the first congressional vote on the drug bill. "I'm perhaps no longer in grave danger of being fired, but there remains a strong likelihood that I will have to resign in protest of the withholding of important technical information from key policy makers for political reasons."

It's the Other Guy's Fault

Paul Krugman calls the administration on their continuing excuses on the economy:
As job growth continues to elude the U.S. economy, we're hearing two main excuses from the Bush administration and its supporters: that the real situation is much better than you're hearing, and that to the extent employment is lagging, it's the result of factors outside the administration's control. But after three years of extravagant promises and dismal results, the time for excuses has passed.

Let's start with the real job situation. A number of readers have asked me about what Marc Racicot, who heads the Bush re-election effort, told Don Imus the other day. He claimed that those miserable job numbers are misleading, and that another survey presents both a more accurate and a much happier story. You can find the same claim all over the right-wing media. But it just isn't so.

It's true that there are two employment surveys, which have been diverging lately. The establishment survey, which asks businesses how many workers they employ, says that 2.4 million jobs have vanished in the last three years. The household survey, which asks individuals whether they have jobs, says that employment has actually risen by 450,000. The administration's supporters, understandably, prefer the second number.

But the experts disagree. According to Alan Greenspan: "I wish I could say the household survey were the more accurate. Everything we've looked at suggests that it's the payroll data which are the series which you have to follow." You may have heard that the establishment survey doesn't count jobs created by new businesses; not so. The bureau knows what it's doing — conservative commentators are raising objections only because they don't like the facts.

The question still remains though: just what will it take for George Bush to reevaluate his economic policies?

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Yellowstone Less Likely to Blow Sky High

ATSNN interviews some folks at the USGS and come to the conclusion that Yellowstone is not, in fact, poised to blow up taking the western half of the US with it:
Our job at YVO is to provide adequate warning of volcanic activity at Yellowstone. The USGS Volcano Hazards Program has this responsibility at Yellowstone and at all other US volcanoes, nationwide. We also provide information on the present state of seismicity, ground deformation and other measurable parameters. We are not a civil defense agency. Such planning is left to the park and to the surrounding communities and states.
As an aside, Yellowstone has erupted about 30 times since the last caldera-forming eruption, 640,000 years ago. Nearly all these eruptions produced relatively smaller lava flows than the notorious three giant eruptions that formed the calderas of Yellowstone. If this sort of eruption were to occur today, as would be the most likely scenario for a Yellowstone eruption, there would be minimal effects outside the Park. Thus, the supposed radius of damage you quote is only for an extremely unlikely kind of volcanic eruption.

That's a relief. OTOH, I live on the East Coast. :>

K Chronicles

Kieth Knight, who's always fun to read, has some good stuff to draw regarding Bush's reelection strategery.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Mia Farrow's Atomic Secret

Read it right here.

Home Servers, The New Home Computer?

In The End Of The Laptop, Kevin Laws at VentureBlog talks about the next generation of home computers:

Home servers and smartphones will eventually replace notebook computers for most users

First, people had computers at work. Next, they got them at home. Eventually, the work computer became a notebook, or one was added. This allowed mobility, and a scan of any airport will tell you how successful the notebook has been.

The next step is to eliminate the notebook and go back to a home pc with access via your smartphone. Several trends are behind this transition: more home applications require the power and constant availability of a home computer, while mobile technology and wireless data networks are evolving to meet the needs of notebook users.

Welcome to the age of personal servers.

Read on for the full article.

XML Diff

Jon Udell has some great pointers to new XML diff tools. If you need that, you know who you are.

White House involved With Pilfered Senate Memos?

Well, there's nothing conclusive yet, but as Josh Marshall shows, there are certainly some reasons to be suspicious:

Now, last week I called the Committee for Justice and asked Executive Director Sean Rushton whether he or anyone else at the Committee had known about the accessing of the Democratic staff memos prior to last November when the first published reports surfaced. He answered with a flat "no".

I also asked whether any of the memos had come into the Committee's possession prior to last November. And he again answered with a flat "no".

But yesterday Gonzales responded to the Democratic Senators' letter and he was far more equivocal when he spoke for the Counsel's Office and the White House staff. If it's not a classic example of a non-denial denial, it's definitely the well-chosen phrasing of someone who's far from ready to deny that his office was involved in the theft of these files.

The Boston Globe this morning reported Gonzales' response thusly ...

Gonzales, replying yesterday in a letter to Leahy, said he was aware of no "credible allegation" of White House involvement in the incident, so no investigation has been made. He said he "respectfully, but categorically, reject the statement in your letter" that administration actions contributed to the atmosphere around the files controversy.

But I think that doesn't do justice to the full measure of equivocation and obfuscation.

Here are the two paragraphs from Gonzales' letter in which he responds to the Senators' detailed questions about possible White House involvement ...

As I explained, I am not aware of any credible allegation of White House involvement in this matter. Consequently, there has been no White House investigation or effort to determine whether anyone at the White House was aware of or involved in these activities.
As I also advised you, I have no personal knowledge that any such computer files or the documents they may have contained were provided to our office or to others at the White House. So far as I know, moreover, neither my staff nor others at the White House were aware of activity by the Judiciary Committee staff or other Senate employees such as they alleged in public reports on this matter.

I have no personal knowledge ... so far as i know ... rather less than unequivocal, isn't it?

It's enough to make one wonder...

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