Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

A contest (sorry, no prizes)

I've got a show tonight, so won't be watching the debate.

Here's the contest:
How often will McCain reference his POW experience?
3 or more times
If someone could leave a post-debate comment with the correct answer, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks to 'anonymous' for this reference:

As I've stated many times, my knowledge of economics could be written in big block letters on a postage stamp.

Here's a more knowledgeable take on the proposed bailout:
"Let me get right to the point. The Bush administration's federal bailout proposal, as furthered by Treasury Secretary Paulson, will not work; in fact, it will make our financial crisis even worse. Keep in mind I warned readers in 2002-03 that blazing into Iraq would result in disasterous consequences.

This solution will not be pain free. There are few good options left. The federal government must initiate a ground up rescue. By preventing foreclosures, halting bankruptcies, and restructuring homeowner debt, the paper IOUs at the bottom of the commercial credit food chain will remain viable. If the foundation remains strong, then the subsequent levels of securities IOUs will remain solvent as well. Ultimately, this is an issue of confidence. If a domino at the bottom falls, it will take others with it. As Wall Street firms have leveraged their obligations 20-30 times (or more), the fall of a single domino causes a financial chain reaction throughout the global economic community."

[Bailout Bullshit: The Robbers Are Running the Bank]
For what it's worth, it's encouraging to see our Congress balking at W's initial proposal... tho' I'm not hopeful regarding final product produced in less than a week!

Stop the madness!!!

I've seen this speech before!

On Wednesday evening, W addressed the nation to garner support for his Administration's $700,000,000,000 bailout plan for the troubled financial industry:
"... More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically. And if you own a business or a farm, you would find it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs. Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession.
[President's Address to the Nation, 24 Sep 2008...
(as noted previously, I don't watch W anymore - but I do read his speeches)]
The dire warnings regarding the potential implications of Wall Street meltdown sound vaguely familiar... hmmm.

Oh, now I remember:
"If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the violence that is now declining would accelerate and Iraq could descend into chaos," Bush said. "Al-Qaida would regain its lost sanctuaries and establish new ones fomenting violence and terror that could spread beyond Iraq's borders, with serious consequences to the world economy."
[President Bush Discusses Global War on Terror, 19 March 2008]
A leopard cannot change its spots:
What W has to sell is FEAR. Nothing else.

Stop the madness!

p.s. This is yet another admission by W that his Administration has been a failure, tho' no one seems to be emphasizing this admission!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

$700Bn vs higher risk of recession: relative risk?

Has anyone attempted a basic analysis of relative risk regarding the proposed $700,000,000,000 bail-out?

Today Fed Chair Bernanke
"... bluntly warned reluctant lawmakers Tuesday they risk a recession with higher unemployment and increased home foreclosures if they fail to pass the Bush administration's $700 billion plan to bail out the financial industry."
[Bernanke: Recession more likely without bailout]
What are the competing costs involved? Long-term cost to taxpayers/country of $700,000,000,000 bail-out versus long-term cost to taxpayers/country of recession?

Is it worth $700,000,000,000 to reduce risk of recession, or to mitigate effects of recession should one occur anyway?

I am unprepared to undertake this analysis, but it seems reasonable to ask both Congress and the Administration to provide at least a back-of-the-envelope calculation of relative risks. Who knows, maybe it'd be better in the long-run to let the financials fail.

Aside: "... in the long run":
"Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs.
In the long run we are all dead."

[John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946), British economist. A Tract on Monetary Reform, ch. 3 (1923)]
Have a nice day!


I am currently watching one of my favorite Sci-Fi B-movies: "Them!" - the story of giant mutant ants created by the first atomic explosion at Trinity Site, NM.

James Arness, James Whitmore, and Fess Parker! 1954.

It's a pretty terrible movie, and I could devote blogspace to a lengthy commentary on "how Hollywood fantasies poisoned America against nuclear energy"... but I won't.

Instead, I'll comment on the ecological error featured in the early scenes.

The story begins in New Mexico, in the desert around Alamogordo, New Mexico - near White Sands Missile Range and Trinity Site.

These desert scenes are notable for the featured vegetation: Joshua Trees.

Joshua Trees are the signature plant of the Mojave Desert, in southern California. (The signature plant of the Sonoran desert in AZ is the Saguaro cactus.) The signature plant of the Chihuahuan desert in southern NM is lechugilla... and other Chihuahuan desert plants are mesquite, creosote, and yucca. Joshua Trees? Nary a one!

This error of convenience seems perfectly consistent with the movie's central premise: that the first atomic blast created a race of giant mutant ants. A fun story-line, but little relationship to reality.

Still, I watch the movie... pretty much whenever it's on TV!

Bring on the giant mutant ants!

Monday, September 22, 2008


In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy. However, when she did not return his love, Apollo placed a curse on her so that no one would ever believe her predictions.
[Wikipedia entry, Cassandra]
Among the Cassandras among us today, one deserves praise for his prescience: Atrios (aka Duncan Black) over at Eschaton, who has been highlighting the value-free financial paper based on subprime mortgages for quite some time.

Frequently instructive, seldom pedantic... Always good-humored.
His none-too-subtle descriptor for the "wealth" created by this financial paper? Big Shitpile.

I've not done the research to discover when Atrios first coined big shitpile, but he has routinely covered the deepening financial crisis for as long as I've been reading him - at least 2 years, I'd guess.

While W, Paulson, and their minions were cheerleading for our fundamentally strong economy, Atrios busied himself detailing the coming crisis.

Forget AQA: read Eschaton!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a suggested slogan for the Dems

"Where's bin Laden?"
Simple, to the point.

... particularly useful when confronting "Dems weak against terror!" attacks.

More good news on the GWOT

Pakistan troops ordered to open fire on US raiders
By STEPHEN GRAHAM, Associated Press Writer
Tue Sep 16, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's army said Tuesday that its forces have orders to open fire if U.S. troops launch another raid across the Afghan border, raising the stakes in a dispute over how to tackle militant havens in Pakistan's unruly border zone.

It just keeps getting better!

W casts his lot with Musharraf.
The Pakistanis, exercising their rights, remove Musharraf from power. ["Who could have anticipated that???"]
W now has no friends in Pakistan.

The Pakistanis assert their territorial integrity, and dare to oppose U.S. forces launching armed attacks on Pakistan's territory.

What next?

... and: Where's bin Laden?

Stop the madness!!!

"When the Fed fails"

No, I'm not going to write a post on this topic.
I don't know enough.

It just suggests itself as a worthy topic for someone who knows more than I.

What happens when the Fed fails?

Seems a not altogether unlikely occurence, what with the U.S. stepping in to guarantee Fannie, Freddie, & AIG. When the basic insolvency of these institutions becomes obvious, what then?

Folks who know better than I have made the distinction between a crisis of liquidity and a crisis of solvency. A crisis of liquidity: you have the assets to pay your bills, you just can't get the money together today. A crisis of solvency: your debts exceed your assets - you're busted... and you take your creditors down with you (at least, those creditors who were banking on you to make good on your obligations).

The Fed seems to be betting heavily that the basic issue is one of liquidity, and is making money available to folks today to pay their debts, with the understanding that there are real assets on which to draw to make good these loans.

What if that's not the case?

Can the Fed fail?

If so, then what???

Again - my knowledge is insufficient to address this question.

I was betting against this: good news!

Oil prices slip to 90 dollars
Tue Sep 16, 2008
NEW YORK (AFP) - Oil prices fell Tuesday flirting with the 90-dollar mark to reach new seven-month lows amid turmoil on the financial markets which could spur lower energy demand, traders said.

Just a reminder: if on 1 March 2003 we'd struck a deal with Saddam to buy all his oil for $90/bbl, we'd have paid $550,530,000,000 through September of this year.
This generously assumes Iraq's pre-war oil production to be 3Mn bbls/day. The more realistic estimate of Iraq's pre-war oil production is more like 2.5Mn bbls/day, which puts the price-tag for this imagined deal at about $460Bn.

So far on the war we've spent just under $554,680,000.

On 1 Mar 2003, oil was trading at just about $36/bbl. This deal would have offered Saddam a 150% mark-up over prevaling market prices... and we'd have the oil!... no cost to W's oil-patch buds: the U.S. taxpayers just give it to 'em as a free gift!

There's just a chance that this financial windfall would've persuaded Saddam to play nicer with us, and given us some leverage regarding his domestic & foreign policies. Who knows?

Baghdad might not today be a bombed-out jigsaw-puzzle of walled enclaves.
Who knows?

4000+ U.S. soldiers might still be alive.
Who knows?

Millions of Iraqis might be living in their homes, not in refugee camps in Jordan & Syria...
Who knows?

We might even have captured bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and Mullah Omar (like W promised!).
Who knows?

Stop the madness!

p.s. We're spending about $340Mn/day in Iraq. Barclays bought Lehnman's North American banking operations for $250Mn.

some fun numbers from the Barclays/Lehman deal

Barclays to buy Lehman banking divisions for $250M
16 Sep 2008
NEW YORK - Two days after walking away from a deal to purchase all of Lehman Brothers, Barclays PLC said Tuesday it had agreed to acquire Lehman's North American investment banking and capital markets businesses for $250 million in cash.

The British bank will also purchase Lehman's New York headquarters and its two data centers in New Jersey for $1.5 billion.

Did you catch that?
Barclays valued Lehman's physical assets (NY headquarters & NJ data centers) at six (6) times the worth of the core business ...

If I'd been quicker, I could probably have put together a small consortium of my friends and neighbors to buy the banking business for $250Mn! (Most of my friends and neighbors have pretty good credit... unlike the erstwhile financial giants of Wall Street!)

Stop the madness!

a "disoderly failure" could hurt... how 'bout an "orderly" one?

Government announces $85 billion loan to save AIG
16 Sep 2008
WASHINGTON - In a bid to save financial markets and economy from further turmoil, the U.S. government agreed Tuesday to provide an $85 billion emergency loan to rescue the huge insurer AIG. The Federal Reserve said in a statement it determined that a disorderly failure of AIG could hurt the already delicate financial markets and the economy.
[emphasis added]

Oh, this makes me feel better about the deal:
"The Fed said in return for the loan, the government will receive a 79.9 percent equity stake in AIG."
80% of 0 is ... ??? ... and I'm thinking the "80% of 0" scenario might be the bright side: could "we, the people" end up owning 80% of the liabilities in the event of an orderly failure???

I sure hope this wasn't a "zero interest for 5 years" deal... then again, this is our MBA President at work.

... and now, the number: eighty-five BILLION dollars.
... $85,000,000,000.
You know, just to tide 'em over till payday!

If Enron had waited a few years, maybe the Fed would've bailed 'em out, too.

Another suggested Republican slogan:
"Too big to fail. To efficient to regulate!"
Stop the madness!

Does McCain understand "free-market capitalism"?

McCain: Greed created Wall Street's problems
Tue Sep 16, 2008
TAMPA, Fla. - Republican presidential candidate John McCain says Wall Street's financial turmoil is the result of unchecked corporate greed.

Yes, and the Pope is Catholic.
... and a bear does shit in the woods.

What does John McCain think fuels his cherished free market? If not greed, then what???

... and, for what it's worth, what exactly has McCain in mind when he says this:
"I have spoken out against the excess of corporate executives, and I can assure you that if I am president, we're not going to tolerate that anymore. In my administration, we're going to hold people on Wall Street responsible."
[Remarks by John McCain on Reforming Our Financial Markets, 16 Sep 2008]
Is he proposing the U.S. Government sit on every corporate board in America?

Monday, September 15, 2008

A public service: "The Bush Doctrine"

Just in case anyone ever asks:
Bush Doctrine
The Bush Doctrine is a term used to describe the foreign policy doctrine of United States president George W. Bush, enunciated in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. It may be viewed as a set of several related foreign policy principles, including stress on ending terrorism, spreading democracy, increased unilateralism in foreign policy and an expanded view of American national security interests. Foreign policy experts argue over the meaning of the term "Bush Doctrine," and some scholars have suggested that there is no one unified theory underlying Bush's foreign policy. Jacob Weisberg identifies six successive "Bush Doctrines" in his book The Bush Tragedy, while former Bush staffer Peter D. Feaver has counted seven. Other foreign policy experts have taken the term to mean Bush's doctrine of preventive war, first articulated in 2002, which holds that the United States government should depose foreign regimes that represent a threat to the security of the United States, even if such threats are not immediate and no attack is imminent. This policy was used to justify the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Central to the development of the Bush Doctrine is its strong influence by neoconservative ideology, and it is considered to be a step from the political realism of the Reagan Doctrine. The Reagan Doctrine was considered key to American foreign policy until the end of the Cold War, just before Bill Clinton became president of the Unites States. The founder of neoconservatism, Irving Kristol, was himself a former active supporter of Trotskyism before becoming a neoconservative, as noted by Jonah Goldberg. The Reagan Doctrine was considered anti-Communist and in opposition to Soviet Union global influence, but later spoke of a peace dividend towards the end of the Cold War with economic benefits of a decrease in defence spending. The Reagan Doctrine was strongly criticized by the neoconservatives, who also became disgruntled with the outcome of the Gulf War and United States foreign policy under Bill Clinton, sparking them to call for change towards global stability through their support for active intervention and the democratic peace theory. Several central persons in the counsel to the George W. Bush administration consider themselves to be neoconservatives.

[Wikipedia, Bush Doctrine]
Now ya know.

Help needed (+a contest +DO SOMETHING!!!)

The past several posts have chronicled the overall failure of W's policies - foreign and domestic.

How can these failures be translated into marketable selling points for the Dems? Obama in particular, but let's not forget Heinrich, Udall, Wulsin, and all other Congressional & Senatorial candidates.

I'm not very good at translating my visceral anti-Republican sentiments into marketable copy.

Any chance any of you have suggestions?

[note: if you have wonderful ideas for turning current events into marketable copy, PLEASE: don't waste your time here!!! POST A VID ON YouTube!!!]

My understanding is that MoveOn, DCCC, DSCC, and other orgs are desperate for grass-roots-generated copy. HELP 'EM OUT!!!

Stop the madness!!!

... i've been checking news online for about 10 minutes...

... on SUNDAY evening!!!
The latest?
Wall Street awakes to 2 storied firms gone
15 Sep 2008
NEW YORK - When Wall Street woke up Monday morning, two more of its storied firms had vanished.

Lehman Brothers, burdened by $60 billion in soured real-estate holdings, said it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after attempts to rescue the 158-year-old firm failed.

Bank of America Corp. said it is snapping up Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. in an $50 billion all-stock transaction.
Honestly, it's been less than 30 minutes since I started reading today's news.

"It's the economy, stupid!" seems better and better every minute!

Stop the madness!!!

Gee, ya think?

Petraeus: more than troops needed in Afghanistan
By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer
14 Sep 2008
BAGHDAD - U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said Sunday that experience in Iraq shows it will take political and economic progress as well as military action to tackle increased violence in Afghanistan

Just for grins:
Afghanistan, Opium and the Taliban
JALALABAD, Afghanistan (February 15, 2001
U.N. drug control officers said the Taliban religious militia has nearly wiped out opium production in Afghanistan -- once the world's largest producer -- since banning poppy cultivation last summer.

[emphasis added]
Please note the date: 15 Feb 2001.

And today?
Another Huge Opium Harvest in Afghanistan
February 06, 2008 | Kevin Whitelaw | Permanent Link
Along with forecasting another near-record opium harvest in Afghanistan this year, the United Nations says that cultivation of cannabis, or marijuana, is also on the rise.
Just one "success" after another for W's resume!

If the idea was to undo all that the Taliban had achieved, W is on the right track! From eliminating opium production to producing a record crop!!!

Hmmm... maybe he actually made use of his Harvard MBA!

Stop the madness!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

... more SUNDAY news!

Lehman rescue fails, BofA buys Merrill for $50B
14 Sep 2008
NEW YORK - A failed plan to rescue Lehman Brothers was followed Sunday by more seismic shocks from Wall Street, including a government-brokered takeover of Merrill Lynch by the Bank of America for $50 billion.

A forced restructuring of the world's largest insurance company, American International Group Inc., also weighed heavily on global markets as the effects of the 14-month-old credit crisis intensified.

Again, once-upon-a-time, critical economic/financial news broke Mon-Fri. With W and the Republicans in charge, one must now pay attention on Sunday!

Is Greenspan advising McCain?

Let's see... oil at > $100/bbl. Gas at > $3.50/gal.
The subprime fiasco is percolating thru the larger economy.
... threatening the liquidity of VERY BIG PLAYERS, and the availability of credit to keep the economy afloat.

Who managed to undermine the largest economy in the world?

Does anyone seriously believe the REPUBLICANS can get us out of the hole they dug???

Remember that budget surplus? Remember $2/gal gas? Remember $30/bbl oil? Remember your last raise? These were called "The Clinton Years."

Stop the madness!!!

Why is this always SUNDAY's news?

Fed moves to deal with financial crisis
14 Sep 2008
WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve announced late Sunday several steps to cope with the worst credit crisis in decades, including broadening the types of assets that investment banks can put up to get emergency loans from the Fed.

Time was, critical financial/economic news broke Mon-Fri.

These days, if you don't pay attention on Sunday, you miss it!

Aside to all Dem candidates:
When your respected Republican opponent tries to tar you as a tax-and-spend liberal, kindly suggest that tax-and-spend makes a whole lot more sense than borrow-and-spend...
... and that regulation of markets ain't really all that bad!!!
The Republicans dug us into this hole.

Who really believes they're competent to get us out of it???

Stop the madness!!!

an anniversary of sorts...

THE PRESIDENT: "They will try to hide, they will try to avoid the United States and our allies - but we're not going to let them. They run to the hills; they find holes to get in. And we will do whatever it takes to smoke them out and get them running, and we'll get them."
[President Urges Readiness and Patience, Remarks by the President, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft
Camp David
Thurmont, Maryland, 15 Sep 2001]
"... we'll get them."

Not too long after this, we heard from a different leader:
[Mullah] Omar: "I am considering two promises. One is the promise of God, the other is that of Bush. The promise of God is that my land is vast. If you start a journey on God's path, you can reside anywhere on this earth and will be protected... The promise of Bush is that there is no place on earth where you can hide that I cannot find you. We will see which one of these two promises is fulfilled."
Wednesday September 26, 2001, The Guardian]
Now - SEVEN YEARS LATER - we know whose promise is stronger.

W: our wartime President!

Stop the madness!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

... again from my very conservative friend (paraphrased)

A few months ago, during lunch conversation with my very conservative friend, politics raised its ugly head.
[note: my very conservative friend & I actually manage to conduct fairly civil political discussions - both of us are sufficiently cynical to allow this.]

... anyway... during the conversation I said something to the effect that McCain would be W's 3rd term. His response? (paraphrased, from memory):
"If I thought McCain would be four more years of Bush, I'd vote for him. But I think he'd be worse!
I mention this now only because this sentiment now aligns my very conservative friend with Paul Krugman!
"... the Obama campaign is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse."
[Blizzard of Lies, Paul Krugman, NYT, 12 Sep 2008]
I'll send my very conservative friend this thought via email as soon as this is posted!

Stop the madness!

... from one of my very conservative friends

In response to my question, "What are your thoughts regarding Palin":
"Well, she’s cute, she runs almost as many miles as I do, and she hunts caribou, so she can’t be all bad. Obviously I would be more comfortable with someone who had been governor a little bit longer (I’d guess that being governor of Alaska during an energy boom isn’t the strongest test), but in general I’d prefer someone who had been a governor for 5 minutes over someone who had been in the Senate for somewhere in the interval (0, Robert Byrd]. The bottom line for me is that:

a) I’d prefer a random homeless person to McCain, Obama, or Biden

b) I’d prefer Palin to a random homeless person

c) Therefore, I don’t have a big problem with her"
A slogan for the Republicans:
"Better than a random homeless person!"
Thanks for asking.

In response to commenter 'takoma park'

Please realize that I am NOT an impartial observer.
The Dem candidate could be a one-eyed, hairless, gap-toothed ogre with halitosis,... and I'd still prefer him/her to McCain!

... what's more: I don't understand folks who don't share my position!!!

[Full disclosure: in past petulant moments I have declared my unwillingness to vote for Dem candidate who says xyz or espouses position abc... in my saner moments I realize that I no longer have this luxury. I am committed to any/all Dem candidates for national office this election cycle... even if they be one-eyed, hairless, gap-toothed ogres with halitosis!]

There are a number of McCain signs up in my neighborhood.
(There are also a number of Obama signs.)
The McCain folks? I just want to slap 'em up the side of the head!

One more note: I am fairly successfully avoiding Prez Politics. Family & friends have made reference to "lipstick on a pig"... I only today learned the relevance of this reference - from Krugman's NYT column.
My inattention to this blog accurately reflects my recent inattention to the current news.

I'm pretty sure we're not at war with anyone new, but that's about the extent of my knowledge.

Sing a song!

Wow! I've been away a LONG time!!!

To loyal readers: my apologies for such infrequent posting!
I hadn't realized i'd been absent a full week.

I've several really good excuses, but they're just that: excuses!

Sing a song!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Meanwhile, back on the ranch...

Unemployment, mortgage delinquencies soar in worrisome sign for slumping economy
By Scott Duke Harris and Sue McAllister
Mercury News
Article Launched: 09/05/2008 05:00:42 PM PDT
The nation's unemployment rate jumped to a five-year high Friday as mortgage delinquencies rose, stoking fears that America's slumping economy could get much worse before it gets better.

If the Dems don't win overwhelmingly in Nov, it's time to disband the Party!

Stop the madness!

Freddie & Fannie in receivership!

Sources: Gov't takeover of Fannie, Freddie expected

The meltdown continues...

Republicans really HATE regulation of financial markets, but seem ever so ready to bail out those "too big to fail".

Stop the madness!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another one!

Reuters freelance photographer detained in Iraq
Wed Sep 3, 2008
BAGHDAD - An Iraqi freelance photographer working for Reuters has been detained by U.S. and Iraqi forces south of Baghdad, the news agency said Wednesday.
The U.S. military spokesman Lt. Patrick Evans said Jassam was detained because he was "assessed to be a threat" to Iraq and coalition forces. Evans did not provide more details.
Assessed to be a threat. By whom?

From Bremer forward, none of our viceroys in Iraq have had much use for the press... particularly the Iraqi press.

Just for a moment, imagine the screaming from Washington that would have ensued had the Russians detained U.S. cameramen in Georgia.

Stop the madness!

Hurray for our Federal Courts!

Judge says gov't must produce waterboarding memos
Wed Sep 3, 2008
NEW YORK - A federal judge has ruled in New York that the government must either produce memos on waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods used by the CIA or explain why they should be kept secret.

The ruling came in a case brought by the ACLU in 2003.

... so, while we're cheering: Hurray for the ACLU!

Sing a song!

more reminders of a distant past...

McCain says knows how to capture bin Laden
"... I know how to do it and I'll do it."
At least some of my readers are old enough to recall Nixon's 1968 campaign promise that he had "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam.
Turns out, the secret plan was to expand the war into Laos & Cambodia, and keep U.S. troops actively engaged for another 5 years... then to declare victory and walk away. (The distraction of Watergate left Nixon little time to pursue the war.)

Just out of curiosity: if McCain knows how to capture bin Laden, why hasn't he shared that information with the Administration? Seems to me that keeping this certain knowledge from our current leaders is tantamount to disloyalty... perhaps even to treason. [Okay - I'm getting carried away here... but still...]

Have a nice day.

p.s. I DON'T know how to capture bin Laden, but I'm pretty sure looking for him in Iraq is as pointless today as it was 5 years ago.

I've been invited

I got a call today inviting me to a McCain-Palin victory party in Albuquerque.

... it would probably be more correct to say that I took a call today inviting us to a McCain-Palin victory party in Albuquerque... my wife is a registered Republican.
(We recently celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary: politics ain't everything!)

It would have been more fun if the call hadn't been a recorded invitation... you know, to have had a real person on the other end of the line with whom to chat.

Oh, well.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

enough is enough

Nicolaus Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543) was the first astronomer to formulate a scientifically based heliocentric cosmology that displaced the Earth from the center of the universe. His epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy and the defining epiphany that began the Scientific Revolution.

Although Greek, Indian and Muslim savants had published heliocentric hypotheses centuries before Copernicus, his publication of a scientific theory of heliocentrism, demonstrating that the motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting the Earth at rest in the center of the universe, stimulated further scientific investigations and became a landmark in the history of modern science that is known as the Copernican Revolution.

Among the great polymaths of the Renaissance, Copernicus was a mathematician, astronomer, physician, classical scholar, translator, Catholic cleric, jurist, governor, military leader, diplomat and economist. Among his many responsibilities, astronomy figured as little more than an avocation — yet it was in that field that he made his mark upon the world.

[Wikipedia entry, Nicolaus Copernicus]

For a delightful if somewhat dated read, see Thomas Kuhn's The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought.

Me? "Politics as usual" is getting very tiresome!

Read a good book.

p.s. the '1543' in Swordfish1543 references the year of Copernicus's death & the publication of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. For what it's worth, this is also the publication year of Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica, another ground-breaking work in the history of science.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

There is something fundamentally wrong here...

Oil steady in Asia but risks seen in new storms
By EILEEN NG, Associated Press Writer
1 Sep 2008
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Oil prices hovered around $111 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as the threat of Hurricane Gustav dissipated but traders predicted further risks with new storms on the radar and concerns over slowing demand.

I'm sorry, but when seasonal weather patterns drive oil prices dramatically, something is wrong with the system!

Is this usual?


an old, semi-relevant joke

With the latest flap(-s) about Palin as McCain's running-mate, I can't help but recall a very old joke about McGovern & his first VP pick:
McGovern is 100% behind Eagleton...
... and 30% behind Nixon!
Fun times.

an innocent question

Palin says daughter, 17, is 5 months pregnant
By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer
Mon Sep 1, 2008
ST. PAUL, Minn. - John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, said Monday her 17-year-old unmarried daughter was five months pregnant, the latest in a string of disclosures that left the McCain campaign defending the thoroughness of its background check of the little-known Alaska governor.

My innocent question:
Was Bristol Palin enrolled in an abstinence only sex-ed class?
Just asking.

Have a nice day.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Any aspiring historians out there?

I've long had in mind two books, but realize that I'm unlikely to start - let alone finish - either:
50 years of revolution: Columbus, Luther, and Copernicus
The Jewish Century: Marx, Freud, and Einstein
Each has the advantage of focusing on a short period of time, with three central figures.

I've imagined these projects as both books and mini-series.
I am unlikely to complete either.

Please, someone - accept my gift!

Have a nice day.