January 2004

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Posted January 30, 2004
Top 10 Names for Mars Rovers Rejected by White House

10. Equal Opportunity
9. Space Missions of Mass Distraction
8. Mars Rover Sponsored by 1-800-DIAL-ATT
7. Liberal Relocation Project Advance Scout
6. Sununu Spaceways
5. Hey European Space Agency, lose your Beagle? Nyah nyah nyah!
4. Capricorn 2 and 3
3. We've Got Spirit Yes We Do
2. Holy Spirit
1. Karl

Sidebar: Check out this article about the Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft: I Don't Do Windows, as well as the reporter's extra notes on the story.

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Posted January 23, 2004
The Worst Bicycle Tires That Ever Lived

OK, I don't ride as many miles a year as I used to. When I was working in lovely Downtown Seattle and living in the south end, my annual mileage was in the neighborhood of 3000. Now that I'm living in the north end, and only 2 miles from work, I estimate that I'm down to about 1500 miles a year, including shopping and weekend jaunts.

So it pains me to report that in the past month I've gotten SIX flats, all from glass punctures, and all since switching to Specialized's "Turbo Pro Classic ATB." I had been using the "Racer" road tire by Primo, a few of which I'd picked up cheap in 2002 for $10 apiece at Nashbar. They were great, I got maybe two flats during 2003. But I haven't been able to find any more Primos locally, so I decided to try the Specializeds.

I estimate that I rode about 120 miles during the four weeks in question, meaning one flat every 20 miles. So the Turbo Pro Classic ATB just sucks; at $60 for the pair of them I was basically paying Specialized $10 per flat. I can only hope that it's not Specialized's strategy to go for the lowest cost-per-flat. But we'll never know, because I just picked up a pair of Ritchey "Tom Slicks" from Phat Tire, we'll see how those work out. Also, I found some recumbent specialty shops and wheelchair suppliers who carry Primos, so I can always go back to those.

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Posted January 22, 2004
State of Duh Union

Allow me to pile-on with some comments about Bush's Tuesday night tap-dance routine, carried on all the major networks as well as CBS. My impression (and I don't normally do impressions), now 48 hours removed from the actual event, is that this State of the Union was probably cleared by an army of lawyers, likely ones who specialize in exceptions clauses. Try to grasp some meaning in the speech, and all you get is a fistful of polluted air. It was filled with shading, conditions and escape hatches. Here's my list of forehead-slappers, and I've included a wordcount in observance of the 16-word LIE in last year's speech.

  • "Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations." (26) 'Related'? 'Activities'? 'Equipment'? Where are the gas, germs and nukes W and Dick said were there, that they KNEW they had? Dick even said they knew WHERE the WMDs were, in Tikrit. But now W is claiming that wanting WMDs is the same as having them, so the war was justified. I guess it's the armaments equivalent of committing adultery in your heart.
  • "...hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are deployed across the world... making America more secure." (17) The Army War College begs to differ.
  • "And my administration, and this Congress, will give you the resources you need to fight and win the war on terror." (21) But when you get home from Iraq and you need health care and other veterans services, you're on your own.
  • "The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is working." (13) But for whom is it working?
  • "Exports are growing. Productivity is high, and jobs are on the rise." (12) I guess he's talking about trade with foreign countries abroad. I think we all know productivity is high partly because we're all overworked. And even though several million jobs have been lost, W decides to just take credit for the few he's accidentally created.
  • "A government-run health care system is the wrong prescription." (10) When in doubt, lie about your opponents' position. No one wants government-run health CARE, we want nationally-managed health INSURANCE. It doesn't even have to be government-run, it could be a nongovernmental public corporation, preferably a non-profit. Get Big Insurance out of my health care!
  • "The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids... sends the wrong message-- that there are shortcuts to accomplishment" (18) Like getting a cheap loan to buy Harken stock? Like getting preferential treatment to buy the Texas Rangers because your daddy was President? Like bilking taxpayers to realize a 25-fold return on investment when selling your share in the team?
  • "Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage." (8) Because if you desanctify marriage, only cousins will get married. I nominate noted GOP philanderers Henry Hyde and Newt Gingrich to lead this top-priority crusade.

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    Posted January 16, 2004

    Oops, Bush does it again

    Item: Bush proposes $1.5 Billion to promote marriage.
    (Reuters)-- Bush administration officials are planning a $1.5 billion election-year initiative to promote marriage, especially among low-income couples, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
          Administration officials have worked with conservative groups for months on the proposal, the paper said, and are weighing whether President Bush should promote the plan next week in his State of the Union address.
          The plan would provide at least $1.5 billion for training to help couples develop interpersonal skills that sustain "healthy marriages," the paper said.
          According to the Times, the officials said they believed the measure was timely because they were facing pressure from conservatives eager to see the federal government defend traditional marriage, after the highest court in Massachusetts ruled in November that gay couples had a right to marry.

    Announcer: Here's Britney Spears, for Marriage®!

          “Thanks Don Pardo!
          I love marriage. It's the bedrock of our society. It's important to me. I want to have as many marriages as I can, and I know you do, too. That's why when the people at the government's new Strategic Marriage Initiative asked me to be their official celebrity spokesperson, I replied ‘The Answer’? ‘OutRAGEous’!
          I got to meet President Bush and his friends Karl, Pat and Jerry, and they explained to me how poor people need the kind of pro-marriage information that rich people already know. Did you know, for example, that an aspirin in Coke doesn't prevent pregnancy, or that some states require blood tests and a waiting period? Gosh, I sure didn't!
          $1.5 B-as-in-Britney BILLION is available! Qualifying marriages receive federal funds that can be spent in the Housewares, Home Furnishings and Infant/Toddler departments of Wal-Mart and Target stores, nationwide.
          You can't be turned down for this offer as long as you're a man-woman American couple. While this is bad news for the dancers and choreographers working in my current national concert tour, that's just the price we have to pay to keep our nation one, under God, and free.
          Here's an artist's depiction of what the Strategic Marriage Initiative hopes to accomplish [holds up storyboard]. Imagine an idyllic suburban neighborhood with good shopping, low taxes, convenient mass transit, the schools are in the 90th percentile, spacious homes starting at $35,000, and everyone votes GOP.
          So call today for your free Strategic Marriage Initiative Starter Kit. You'll get 3 condoms (expiration date 1997), a case of Andre's Cold Duck, and, of course, a King James version of the Bible. All the parts about ‘lying with,’ ‘knew his wife,’ and ‘seed’ are already highlighted in yellow for easy reference. What could be easier? Call 1-800-TIE-KNOT, operators are standing by!”

    Announcer: Not all lifestyles qualify for federal recognition;
    all federal grants carry a 1:1 matching funds requirement

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    Posted January 13, 2004
    Home of the Whopper

    I normally tend to steer clear of the tabloids, but our friend Generik alertedme to Lloyd Grove's Lowdown column in the New York Daily News. In it, Dubya triesto pass himself off to the New Yorker's Ken Auletta as having the best human rights record of anyUS President: "No President has ever done more for human rights than Ihave."
          But the icing on the cake is how Dubya's men heap scorn on the 4th Estate ingeneral. Yeah, how dare they spit out the spin that Karl Rove et. al. socarefully spoonfeeds them.

    Rove: 'the job of journalists is "not necessarily to report the news. It's toget a headline or get a story that will make people pay attention to theirmagazine, newspaper or television more."

    Andrew Card:"[The media] don't represent the public any more than other peopledo. In our democracy, the people who represent the public stood for election."

    Right, Andy. And most of the time the ones who get the most votes win.

    True, journalists are not part of government, they're not elected, and they represent not the people, but (mostly) private corporate news outlets. But Karl and Andy hope that everyone forgets that the press is enshrined in the Constitution just the same. Yup, in the Bill of Rights. Freedom of the press.

    The press provides something very important to the operation of a free society and free market. Information. The framers set up the press in this role because, geniuses that they were, they recognized that people in a republic or free enterprise system need accurate information to make decisions-- and how can you trust those with a vested interest in shading the truth, be they government, industry, or whomever, to tell you the truth? Whether you're choosing between Candidate A or Candidate B, or between brands of mouthwash, you need a marketplace of competing information sources.

    Reporting is a job, but it's a job where they attempt to deal in facts. True, for every St. Petersburg Times there's a NewsMax. But that's why it's a marketplace.

    Need proof that we need an independent press? Andy Card basically told Auletta he's not obligated to tell the truth, "It's not our job to be sources... Our job is not to make your job easy."

    Sidebar: New progressive voice on the air. With a Limbaugh-like on-air sound, KFGO's Ed Schultz is actually billing himself as a 'liberal voice from the heartland' (Fargo, ND in this case). He used to do a conservative show, but hey-- the left opened its arms to Arianna, so give Ed's program a chance in streaming audio, weekdays from 3-6PM Eastern (WMP format).

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    Posted January 9, 2004
    Iraq and Mars and Rockets and Stuff

    Dubya moves in mysterious ways. The US of America's Mars landers are spot on target. Huzzah! But then the Barton Gellman expo-zay looks bad for #43. Dubya cries "Omigod American people, look over THERE!" by announcing plans to announce a new space race to the Moon and Mars.
          But is it really only a diversion? Read the Gellman article again, and this time marvel at the compelling rocket drawings by this Tamimi person. JFK and LBJ had Werner Von Braun-- I suggest that Tamimi is Bush's Von Braun. So what if he scribbles his plans on cheap notepaper-- Arthur Laffer used cocktail napkins, and I read somewhere that Nils Bohr's medium was Elmer's glue & tissue paper.
          And on that great day when Tamimi's rocketship is launched to Mars, I hope Dubya has a good seat up in front-- because they'll need somebody to conduct diplomacy with the Martians. I can't wait to read the joint communique.

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