February 28, 2006

Only In America, Dammit

I met Mark Cuban at a dot com conference back in the days when people believed that Sean Fanning could walk on water. It was the Webnoize conference in Century City, I forget the year. My job was to scout out any real players in the DRM and online music sales business and try to get them interested in a web analytics product. We already had the technology that Doubleclick was using to monetize their clicks and analyze their money, and we were building that into a full suite. I figured that anybody who was serious about making money would want to have such a tool - but I thought a lot of things back then. Of all of the people who were saying things with conviction that was born of experience, Cuban stood out. Hilary Rosen, the Diva of the MPAA knew what she was talking about too, but people weren't supposed to like such a wet blanket. I couldn't understand all the praise heaped on the guy from Grand Royal, whatever that was. I later found out he was related to the Beastie Boys. Whoop. Charlie Rose was there as was a cat who argued in support of digital watermarks. They too knew what they were talking about. As I approached with my intelligent question, Cuban vaguely suggested that no amount of analytical software is going to help people know what they should have known before the money was invested, or some such. I left dejected, but at least I discovered that the guys at Reciprocal were going broke too.

Sometime later, I found Cuban on Kudlow & Kramer demonstrating his genius. He was arguing seriously about the return of dividends as a stockholder incentive. It was perfectly clear at the time that it was a mindblowing idea. Back in the day when I used to be a road warrior and watched Squawk Box I recall only one older woman with an underproduced video about dividend reinvestment. It was clearly something that the popular capitalists didn't care about. Then again we all know the exuberance was irrational - or at least I did, and bore the scars of scorn telling people they were not motely, just fools.

So all in all, my appreciation for Cuban's savvy hadn't been disappointed. Just a week or so I think he nailed what's wrong with the theatre business. And so of all the people who made money during the craze, I think he's one of the least crazy. But today I'm scratching my head and there is piss and vinegar under my fingernails. So my head is burning with a question like WTF in response to his charity challenge:

Howie, if you can get Mr Trump to pull a rubber glove completely over his head and blow it up on your show, not only will I watch it, I will donate 1 million dollars to the charity of your choice.

This is just one more face-slapping indication that I am hanging with the wrong crowd.

When I was a kid and pretty much an honor student in prep school, I encountered the mind-numbing personna of Regis Philbin. On a boring summer morning, I watched his television show for an entire hour and realized that I had absolutely no idea who he was or who any of the people he was talking about were. It was as if he lived in an entirely different city. Many people have talked about Los Angeles in any number of ways, but I was shocked. Since then I've always marvelled at the amount of money spent on foolishness, namely in the form of television entertainment. It makes for a somewhat witty but ultimately pointless sort of complaint. Let's try it out, see if you get the gist.

The amount of time and money spent by the Bush Administration researching the provenance of the sale of P&O to Dubai Ports was less than was spent filming the 'Marsha Marsha Marsha' episode of the Brady Bunch.

See? Think of anything that's of significant importance, especially life of death matters, and you will find ultimately that some asshat-Americans have spent more money on potato chips. Mister Frito and Mister Lay don't need to give a shit. Their business model works. I used to also do this with political issues when arguing among conspiracy theorists who complained about their tax money being spent on this or that boondoggle. This one shows off the geek in my so bear with me a moment. Let's say that you're on a rampage about $500 toilet seats, and you want to throw in your extended two cents about government fraud, waste and abuse. So you expend 700 words writing a flame in a public forum that I really don't want to read but do anyway. I would calculate that the government spent a total of 3 million on that particular fraud which works out to about .004% of their annual budget. The complainer spent about .01% of one year of his life complaining about it online. The complainer could have done us all a favor, shutup and worked another hour of overtime and it calculates that he would have made ten times the fraction of his taxes spent on toilet seats working instead of complaining. I had the formulae in a spreadsheet.

Like most Americans I'd rather complain than make money. But unlike most Americans I make good money while I'm complaining. (Don't tell anyone I'm blogging at work). Still, I don't see how anybody could fault me by asking WTF when it comes to Cuban's excess. Why invest in stupidity? Easy. He can afford it. And who are we to say Mark Cuban ought to do anything serious - after all, he's in the entertainment business, and he can go talk to Trump or Howie Mandel anytime he likes. If I had his millions, I'd probably do something just as ridiculous. Surely he sees some value in that million, or maybe not. Who knows?

I have the feeling that given the right code, which I'm going to dedicate myself to even more in the face of this capitalist insanity, I could corner Cuban or some other wealthy guy interested in funding the improbable, I could have my Steve Jobs - John Scully moment. I could ask him if he wants to change the world. But that means I've got to have my code done.

Only in America are we inspired by such foolishness, because only in America do so many fools have so much money to burn.

Posted by mbowen at 05:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

My Inner Chinese

You should learn Mandarin

QuizGalaxy Language Quiz!

You should learn Mandarin. You are very practical, and enjoy setting goals for yourself. You feel very rewarded when you accomplish something big.

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

Well, that figures. I started.

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PC Mafia

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February 25, 2006

As Safe As An Oil Refinery

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February 24, 2006

Sony: Past Tense

Sony has been rolling up lame in a lot of areas, but this latest announcement reaches new heights of suckitude.

First, the PS3 is delayed. Then they say it costs 800 bucks to build. Then it's going to be either or with the HD DVD or BluRay. Now they announce this dumb thing called WA!PS3, which is sorta like XBox Live, but only for downloads. It's not online multiplayer, it's a software store accessible by console. Big whoop. I mean, XBox Live for 360 is already there. If you just look at the PS3Today website, it's bad news after bad news. God of War 2 won't be built for the PS3 but for the PS2 in '07. Yike.

Now this is my year for Hi Def. And the more people I talk to, the more they say forget Sony for flat screens. I've heard they don't even make plasma TVs any longer after getting their asses handed to them by Pioneer and Panasonic. That's a damnable shame. Sony used to be somebody. But you know who *is* somebody? Apple.

Let me take you back briefly to what used to be one of the coolest places on earth. It was the Metreon in San Francisco. Back in 1999 and 2000 in the middle of irrational exuberance, every high tech Stanford Mafia don worth his VC connections could be seen eating sushi in this joint. IBM announced their whole e-business strategy there. XPlay back when it was called something else and it was only Adam Sessler, had every other episode shot there. When the PS2 premiered, it was at the Metreon that the camera crews watched the midnight lines. And smack dab in the middle of the Metreon was Sony Style, the coolest thing since Starbucks.

Fast forward to now. Sony puts rootkits on CDs, fueling rage, hatred and alienation among former devotees. The Minidisc never goes anywhere and the usage of DATs is considered selling out in the underground of hiphop. Nobody can pronounce VAIO and nobody really wants VAIO laptops any longer. They're overpriced and they break. Sony is so over.

Apple has done what nobody thought could be done, which is they have a killer product in consumer electronics. Yes the iPod is bigger than the Walkman. The company which spawned the Walkman is on the outs and the Apple Store is cooler than Sony Style ever was, if for only one reason. Sony Style thought they were so cool (and they were for a minute) that they had armed guards walking around rousting people who weren't buying. The Apple Store allows you to rent a Genius, which sounds snooty - you have to have an appointment, but actually works out nicely.

So here's to the hope that Apple does in the next 10 years what Sony did after their Walkman success, become bigger in consumer electronics. They're the only American company with the cachet. One word of warning however Apple. Don't try gaming.

Posted by mbowen at 09:17 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Paradox of Race Relations: Circa 2006

antonio_h.jpgHey, whassup my niggas? Awww, why you leave me hangin'? Whatdya mean I can't say that? That ain't right. Can't I say nigga? Huh? Can I? Please? I just want to be down. C'mon homies. You know we're all the same underneath. No? That's wrong and you know it. OK be that way. You know what? You all are just racist. Yeah I said it. You think you're better than me but you ain't. Forget you then. Dumb niggas.

No I don't mean it. I mean it in a Damon Wayans kinda way. I want to be a dumb nigga. I mean I want to be free. You don't know what it's like to be me. Everybody expects me to be something that I'm not. But nobody expects anything from you. You don't realize how good you got it. You don't have to care about anything, you can just keep it real. It's true that life is just about money and bitches. I understand, I'm down with that.

Oh so it's still like that. Ok that's fucked up. See, now you done made an enemy. I'm hanging with Dick Cheney now. I'ma show you I'm the wrong nigga to fuck with. Yeah, straight gangsta. Watch your back, bitches. It's on. I hate you niggas.

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February 23, 2006


Kablooey is not a word you're likely to find in any of the mainstream media, certainly not associated with the destruction of (yet another) 'holy shrine' in Iraq. And my deliberate choice of that word shows how subtle is our understanding of each other as Americans and how difficult it must be to actually understand such subtleties in Iraq.

I am not under any false illusions, as I believe the Left and Pacifists are, concerning our ability to understand Iraqi passions. We can never really know exactly how holy that Mosque might have been or to whom it would actually be holy. It could be holy like Graceland. It could be holy like the Statue of Liberty. It could be holy like Crater Lake. It could be holy like Wrigley Field. Depending upon which Americans you talk to under what circumstances, the loss of any of those places in America might be cause for War or yawns. As we speak, there are men burning down churches in the American South, and we've been through this before. Nobody could ever say that it would be appropriate to judge America based upon the angry reactions some foreign journalist captured of those people closest to the tragedy. Of course that's all we've got, and in relation to Iraq, it's probably the best we are ever going to get.

This is bringing me to some interesting preliminary conclusions about the nature of war, and I think everyone is finding this war to be less satisfying than anyone may have imagined. Perhaps we are wrong to think of war in Rumsfeld's 'advanced technological' terms. Maybe war is best done as war.

What hasn't happened in Iraq is that the Iraqi people have not sued for peace. So when I think about the insurgency in Iraq and the inability for anyone to stop it there is a simple reason for this that was not the case in WW2. The nation has not been pacified. Understand that I am talking pacified in the harshest terms, ie we have destroyed their ability to carry out any war. I believe this is what we did to Germany and to Japan. We crippled them so badly and killed so many of their men outright that we left them nations of devastated women, fatherless children and wandering dogs. They begged us to stop. All they wanted was an end to the slaughter and the chance for a normal life. But we have attempted in Iraq to decapitate a despot without making war on the nation and society. It is what we have done. We have left so many Iraqi men standing that they retain the energy, capacity and desire to continue the destruction. Enough so that the question of Civil War is viable, enough so that other holy shrines are vulnerable, enough so that we ask the question seriously, 'Do Iraqis truly want peace?'.

The same total pacification hasn't happened in Palestine. As ugly as the Israelis may have been to the Palestinians, they have left enough of them standing to fight back for 30 years. Nobody sues for peace. Small weak nations, subnations, radical anarchists, and all manner of irregulars, looneys and splinter cells have somehow merited standing as combattants in War. They aren't, and we aren't really making war on them. We're battling them with slaps. We have entered an era in which the sound of war is 'Kablooey'.

Somehow, this New Agey combat has our respect and admiration. It certainly makes sense to a global capitalist neocon such as myself. Let's not devastate Iraq, I'd say. Let's get rid of the problem militarily. But there is perhaps finally only one thing militaries are good for and that is Total War. Beat them down until they sue for peace. And perhaps this Gulf War One and Gulf War Two are the proof, especially if there are enough men in Iraq to be humilitated but not broken, and that sustains an Iraqi Civil War.

I give GWBush all the credit. He has rightfully decided to use the military instead of the CIA to destroy the enemy. The enemy was clear - it was Saddam. And he rightly decided to stand in front of the world and say, we're going to do this, ready or not. And he rightly gave everyone a chance to get in on the action. But perhaps what Old Europe knew that we neocons didn't know was that nothing less than total destruction would lead to total peace.

The world over, foolish and superstitious muslims believe that they are in a position to challenge the might of the US and the West. They should not make that mistake believing that American neocons will play the footsie of surgical war with the next rogue state that crosses our path. We have taken the battle to the enemy and we have attempted, bravely and morally to give people in the land of the enemy a shortcut to democracy and Western partnership. But if Iraq falls into civil war, no matter what the reasons, and we walk away with a black eye for trying, there will be no moderation next time. The old conservative line about 'nation building' will have won the day, and the Wilsonian dream will be considered the exception rather than the rule.

So let us hope that the DoD retains some anti-neocon skepticism and keeps those nuclear sub contracts open. Because if the dreams of neocons go kablooey in Iraq, the next foe of Uncle Sam will not be met with the Rumsfeld Doctrine, but with the Powell Doctrine.

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Dead Homies With No Props

Bol takes 'em to task, and some of his commenters keep it real too.

Granted, 2Pac is arguably the most talented rapper on this list, but you have to admit the dude was cruising for a bruising. Shooting at cops, butt-raping chicks, pretending to be a gang banger; it was only a matter of time.

I've never heard of any but two of those. But I'm getting the idea that 'Weed Carrier' is a real job description in the hiphop world. What kind of fool would... Oh. Nevermind.

Posted by mbowen at 07:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Obligatory Seriousness on Dubai Ports

I'm with the President on this one, and I think this among a number of issues demonstrates the difference between himself, the party, various conservative ideologues and the hoi polloi of the Right. So let me say it straight out, all of the objections to the sale of P&O to Dubai Ports is reactionary bigotry hiding behind a mask of security consciousness.

Now I will grant that the idea of selling a publically traded British firm to an Arab government controlled entity would raise some eyebrows among us capitalists. But then again, who else is going to buy it? This is, in the end, global enterprise but not of the sort which should be more alarming such as the Russian Federation's nationalization of Yukos Oil. So far, I've heard no outcry from the Brits or any suggestion that this was anything other than a voluntary transaction. Then again, I wouldn't look very far considering the shaky footing upon which I think the detractors are standing.

If Homeland Security doesn't have the final word on the rules and regs surrounding the operations of the US ports involved in this transaction, whose fault is that? Are we to assume that there is some magic an Arab port manager can get away with that somebody else cannot? And pray tell me how the UAE is going to get 22,000 employees to change what they've been doing and become operationally dangerous to the USA? There aren't radical islamists working the docks in New Orleans, unless something radical has changed in the Longshoreman's business that we've been unaware of.

Unawareness is clearly the call sign for all the noise surrounding this deal. How exactly is it that Senators from South Dakota figure in to this calculus? Since when has South Dakota had expertise in ports? They're about as landlocked a state as ever existed in the lower 48.

You want an All American company to run the ports? Yeah right. We don't care. Number one is Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. Number Two is Singapore's PSA International. Number three is now DP World, post-acquisition. You can't even find out who rounds out the dozen. Go ahead. Try and find out - you've got as much internet as I do. We don't care about that maritime economy, just like we don't make the shortwave radios.

This political bigotry is a lousy way to show interest.

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February 22, 2006

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. In congue enim eget felis. Maecenas placerat. Nullam ante lacus, iaculis sed, porta ut, vehicula non, libero. Praesent ante ante, hendrerit sed, sodales varius, adipiscing quis, odio. Etiam gravida lacinia erat. Nulla at diam. Etiam commodo. Morbi at urna. Aenean vel dui. Donec eu pede. Fusce lacus risus, luctus nec, dictum vitae, sagittis quis, metus. Duis commodo faucibus lorem. Sed eu ligula non erat sodales mattis. Duis imperdiet, ligula eu placerat tempor, justo mauris tristique urna, at sodales est ante vitae ipsum. Sed pretium. Suspendisse consequat fringilla arcu. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Vivamus eu nunc.

Have you ever had the sneaking suspicion that you've seen that dummy text before? In fact you probably have. It's called the 'Lorem Ipsum', and it is actually a real text with a real history.

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Now you know. (plus you know how empty my head is today).

Posted by mbowen at 06:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stan O'Neal

Stan O'Neal, chairman of the board, chief executive officer and president. Merrill Lynch.

He heads one of the world's leading personal and institutional financial management and advisory firms, with offices in 36 countries and total client assets of approximately $1.5 trillion.

Mr. O'Neal became chief executive of the company in December 2002 and was elected chairman in April 2003. He has held a series of increasingly responsible positions since joining the company in 1986 as vice president of investment banking.

He was named president and chief operating officer in July 2001 and served as president of Merrill Lynch's U.S. Private Client group from February 2000 until July 2001. He served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Merrill Lynch from 1998 until 2000 and also held the position of executive vice president and co-head of the Corporate and Institutional Client Group (now Global Markets & Investment Banking) prior to that. Previously, Mr. O'Neal had been in charge of Capital Markets and a managing director in investment banking, heading the financing services group, which included the high yield finance, restructuring, real estate, project and lease finance, and equity private placement groups.

Before joining Merrill Lynch, Mr. O'Neal was employed at General Motors Corporation in New York and Madrid. He held a number of financial positions at the company, including general assistant treasurer in New York, responsible for mergers, acquisitions and domestic financing activities.

Mr. O'Neal received a master's of business administration with distinction in Finance from Harvard University and is a graduate of Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute).

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New Assignment

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February 21, 2006


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High Def

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February 20, 2006

Ha Ha

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Mmm Delicious

I've decided to spew off a deliberately redundant set of paths through my browsing via Delicious. I am finding that Google Desktop does not suffice and I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired of not having the sniglets of information that I am able to remember but not recall.

I'm also a bit frustrated that I haven't been able to independently find word cloud parsers other than at this T-shirt shop, which I think would be very useful if I were to want to blink-o-analyze a website or two. So if you'd like to confound yourself to an even greater extent than you do based upon what I post, you can now look at the things I observe without posting. Then scratch your head and wonder how I ever get 40 hours of work done in a week.

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February 19, 2006


Whizbang expects a bump in the polls on Cheney. So do I.

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Cheney Ballistics

I never expected the amount of detail to come out of the BDS meme of 'Cheneygate' but it just goes to show how our democracy has the capacity to flush out birdbrains. It came as no surprise that Whittington would speak up and embarrass all of those who saw 'a pattern'. But this amount of detail surprised even me.

Consequently, from the links directly above at: Essential shotgun patterning - by Dr Matt Draisma, it is more than safe to conclude that Vice President Cheney could rightfully expect a shot pattern with about 70% of his shot within a 30 inch diameter, which matches up extremely well with Whittington's injury diagram in pdf.

Seventy-percent of the 262 pellets in a typical factory load of 7 1/2 shot would be 183 pellets. The report of approximately 200 pellets having hit Whittington at about 30 yards is wholly consistent with the minimum standards one might expect under the circumstances.

So there were actually people from the Left who believed that Cheney was closer to his friend and shot him out of spite or something and they went to the lengths of doing a Mythbuster scenario on the reported 30 yard distance. Astounding. That's hate.

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Faith Based Math

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February 18, 2006

God Explained

I wonder if Daniel C. Dennett knew all along that he was going to write the book that is 'Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon'. You see Dennett along with Hofstadter and several other authors of the collection that was 'The Mind's I' in 1982 captivated me and helped me to understand that Computer Science was more than just programming machines, it was programming people. If there is one thing that has been constant in my life from that long ago, it has been my understanding of the deep resonances and bonds between Religion, Computer Science, Philosophy and Law. It is no accident that these subjects continue to be compelling to me mired as I am in their descendents, morality, IT, ethics and politics. If you ever wondered why Cobb spends so much time in front of the screen typing into the abyss, the answers are in that mix. So it comes as no surprise that Dennett has come to explain Religion in terms of Science. What surprises me is that I've lived with the same notion for quite some time, and perhaps it was Dennett who put the idea in me.

Back in about 1986 or so, I was on the verge of breaking up with my buppie brotherhood. I just didn't know it yet. Just fresh from State and Computer Science undergrad, I was eager to understand the other. That is the cultural stochastic stuff I didn't bother with while pursuing the soul of the machine. And one of my first stops on the way was reading Ishmael Reed. First stop: 'Yellow Back Radio Broke Down'. By the time I had finished about four of his books, I had been convinced to be polytheistic. In my way of seeing it, Reed, finally and convincingly in 'Japanese By Spring' made it perfectly clear that a measure of extraordinary wisdom is only achievable through a disciplined comparison and contrasting of multiple cultures, languages and traditions. I probably took him a bit too literally and my patriotism may have suffered for it, but I was convinced finally that there was room for all religions in my worldview. And so you will have heard me say in those days in response to the question 'Do you believe in God'? Yes, I believe in all Gods. For what I came to understand was that everyone had a reason to believe in God, and make order of the unknown. It has always been man's way to overcome the fear of death, to put the unknown in a very understandable position.

But it was that very same recognition that gave me a new reason to distrust reason. And so as part and parcel of my acceptance of the philosphical underpinnings of animism, I found it rather unsettling to discover a phenomenon I call 'scientific animism'. This is what I think people are talking about (especially critics of Dennett's book) when they speak of 'scientism'. The gist of scientific animism goes a little something like this. A man hears from his doctor that his cholesterol is too high. So now he eats foods low in cholesterol. But if you gave the man a microscope, he wouldn't know cholesterol from a colony of ameobae. He thinks he is being rational but he is acting on faith - faith in the test of his doctor, and faith in the labelling of the food in the supermarket.

In the end I have been satisfied by the social implications of Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem. You cannot know everything there is to know. Religion cannot be disproven without science. Science cannot be disproven without Religion. Human logic is incapable of knowing all. There was also another out for me, which was that computers or some non-human intelligence might figure it out. The answer would be 42, or some such, which humans would reject.

So that basically left me at equilibrium which has tilted towards Religion for me in the past several years for two primary reasons.

1. I deeply admire the stability of the ancient and the ritual. In the same way that Danny Hillis finds the numinous in the Long Now, I find it in religious tradition. Pollution notwithstanding. I think there is as much bad religion as there is bad science.

2. I find, like Einstein, beauty in the finite quality of life. And I find technological attempts to prolong human life and human youth quite distasteful, and somewhat unethical. Science fails utterly to give meaning to death. Next time you're on a battlefield, let me know how many people mumble the name of Stephen Hawking as they charge the enemy.

But as readers of Cobb (aka Lucifer Jones) know, I am analytical and cannot simply accept a simple explanation of things, including the very religious traditions I uphold. So I am not put off at all, as a believer, in Dennett's provocation. Indeed, I hope with some fervor that I might be able to engage theologians at this very level. It is the direction in which I am turning my attentions.

I also want to throw in a dig at Christopher Hitchens, whose impeccable logic is rather annoyingly wrong when it comes to religion. He is fond of the axiom that we all learned in symbolic logic which is that if you assume a false premise to be true, you can prove anything. It has rather nice implications to undermine the authority of anyone whose religious premises are supernatural. I've always had a problem with this argument, and now I know how to express it. Religion is not supernatural, it is natural. In that regard, God is a theory which is just about as explainable as the Universe. QED.

I don't have time to read Dennett, and so I probably won't. The annoying fact of the matter is that I have three children to raise and not quite so much time to blog and read as I would like. There it is.

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Hedrick v Davis

Just when you thought it was safe to talk about the Winter Olympics, Shay at Booker Rising drops a bomb.

I was trippin' this morning at Olympics coverage. When asked by NBC if Shani Davis was the clear favorite to win the race, Chad Hedrick - who only skated the 1000-meter event five times in his life, prior to the Olympics - touted Joey Cheeks (who just got the silver medal; Mr. Hedrick was in 6th place). Excuse me, but when someone is the world recordholder in an event, has dominated the event in your sport's World Cup series, and hasn't lost a race this season at the distance, he is clear favorite and own up to it.

When asked after the 1,000-meter event if he was happy for Mr. Davis (a rival off the ice), Mr. Hedrick replied:"I'm happy for Joey." Foul. This is white folks not wanting to give a brother due props for his merit in something (note: Mr. Davis got racially charged messages to his personal Web site, "people saying they hoped I would fall, break my leg, using the n-word" after he declined to join the team pursuit event). Or rather, white Americans because apparently the mostly Dutch crowd packed into the arena (Mr. Davis is famous in Holland, where speedskating is very popular) went crazy.

It is in fact true that I do remember the name of Eric Heiden and as a cyclist I still envy speed skaters their thighs. But this smells something like the mess my boy Moe Greene had to deal with. Yike. How much does anybody want to bet that Davis ends up on Bryant Gumbel's show. Won't that be a hoot.

Tim Dahlberg takes Hedrick to task.

Davis spent 17 years as an outcast in a primarily white sport, hoping the whole time that someday he would be able to hold an Olympic gold medal. He did, and was joined on the podium by a guy whose idea of glory is being able to help kids who can't help themselves.

The Olympics don't get any better than this.

There was no reason for Chad Hedrick to try and spoil the whole party.

Hedrick, if you haven't heard, doesn't think much of Davis. Thinks even less of him now because Davis declined an invitation to skate in the team pursuit earlier this week and may have cost Hedrick — who already has one gold medal of his own — another medal by doing so.

So while Davis and Cheek were still celebrating, Hedrick was beneath the stands griping. Not about his own sixth-place finish, because the 1,000 wasn't his best race, anyway. He was griping about people who don't do everything they can to be a part of a team and help the United States win more medals.

He didn't call Davis out by name. He didn't have to.

Now that's drama.

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Call & Raise

Just when it looked like a boring weekend, I see that Jeff Goldstein has been fortifying his battlements on the matter of Bryant Gumbel's apparent gaffe over the Winter Olympics. There's nothing like a good debate to warm the typing fingers, so I imagine that I'll blow off some time and engage.

The argument has three dimensions, the way I see it. The first is the dimension of race, or more appropriately the politics of anti-racism. Anti-racism is, of course, the proper principle to invoke, and quite frankly is the most important matter to be discussed, whether or not we want it to be. Are the poltics of anti-racism effective, and if so how are they displayed relating to this 'event'?

The second dimension is that of Sport. In this context what is a sport and to what degree does that sport merit the attention of thoughtful people? Granted there will be fans of any number of bizarre human activities, including reality television, but are those activities worthwhile?

The third dimension is the actual nature and form of debate between bloggers, and in particular between these two. Is JG a mealy mouthed chattering squirrel, am I a sloppy Technorati stalker?

I'm going to focus on the first dimension in contradiction to what I said in Snow Foolin'. Why? Because I have to have the last word, and I believe I have a more nuanced appreciation for the problem than does JG, and I'd hate to leave the blogosphere with only his attempt.

In summary I say that first of all, it's difficult for me to take any debate on Hannity and Colmes seriously. Firstly because I knew that second-rate radio hack Sean Hannity from the mid 90s in Georgia when his greatest claim to fame was defending Bob Grant of WABC. As for Colmes, I don't know jack about him, but who would play second fiddle to Sean Hannity? So if Goldstien is riffing off Hannity and Colmes... what am I supposed to do, listen attentively? But the meat of the subject is the old canard that a black man can't be racist, therefore Bryant Gumbel's 'objectively racialist' comments cannot be racist. Well, I suppose that's worth debating. Also

Assume the worst. Bryant Gumbel is a racist and he honestly believes that the Winter Games are not worth watching because of the paucity of blacks. Assume that is his single point (when in fact he made three). The crippling impact of this comment, indeed his most vile direct suggestion of the night was basically this: Don't watch the games. But there's a second implication if we are to assume the worst which is that the Winter Games are racist discriminators against black atheletes.

But let's take the implication even further. His assertion that the game were as lily white as a GOP convention suggests that the Republican party itself is as racist. This should really burn me up as a Republican (read the masthead). I should be really insulted. But I'm not. The reasons why are fairly simple. As JG notes, I am the final authority, not because I'm black, but because I've done my homework - homework I don't expect any of you to check, but homework done nonetheless.

So here's where I make my stinging point. It happens to be a point I didn't bother to make before but it was in the back of my head.So my stinging point is this: Why should white people make a big deal about a comment that is nothing more than a racist insult by a black man? Well, considering the responses I've gotten here and read there are several reasons.

1. There's a double standard. Blacks get to make racist comments but whites don't.
Blacks also get to call each other 'nigga' and whites can't. And of all the blackfolks on the planet, you complaining whitefolks want to be like the niggas that call niggas niggas? Fine, nigga. But seriously, anyone who reads Cobb knows that I dismiss Class Three Racism all the time. So for the first time in their lives perhaps, readers of Protein Wisdom may be finding that they are accused of whining about racism. That's right. I'm accusing. No double standard here. You're all playing victim of the Evil Racist and Moronic Two Horseman of the Black Supremacist Apocalypse, Colmes & Williams. That is mealy-mouthed, petty, small minded and simply wrong.

What ultimately is the price paid by the existence of a double standard when it comes to public speech about race? Is it that because (some) blacks are saying one thing and (some) whites are saying something else that nobody can really know what is racist or not? I think that's a pathetic and lazy excuse for not reading a book or walking outside of your front door and observing reality. I would take conservatives to task on this matter especially. It doesn't matter what people say, there is no moral relativism.

2. Well it's really racist and we should stand against racism in every form.
We should stand against mathematical incomepetence in every form as well. It's one thing when your kid fails to put her decimal points in the right place, it's another when NASA engineers make the exact same mistake and crash a spacecraft into Mars. So where is your sense of proportion here? Is Juan Williams the enemy?

Aside from scoring points in a debate over the semantics of race (which this boils down to if we're not actually talking about sports in the full context of Gumbel's complaint over the Winter Games), serious people have to determine who itis worth castigating and for what reasons. It's not something I saw in the 5 minute clip of Hannity's show, but we can do that here in the 'sphere.

Nevertheless, I don't think any debate about this gaffe or that gaffe contributes in any significant way to an effecive anti-racist politics in America, and if I sound like a grumpy self-righteous curmudgeon about it, then sobeit. I grew up black in the city, so riding dirtbikes without helmets or playing street football doesn't bother me. I grew up in California, so chicks from Texas do nothing for me. I wrote the Race Man's Home Companion in 1995 so this little episode about the implications of a sportscaster's snarky remarks aren't all that deep. However, it does make for fairly interesting blogging.

Other Sniglets
a). If you absolutely positively want to go there with race, then I can quickly tell you that I think the world's foremost authority is Adrian Piper.
b). I didn't troll Technorati on this matter, Protien Wisdom has been on the blogroll for a while
c). I really really do want to see a video of that Lindsey Jacobellis blooper.
d). I will continue to blow off racial whining, white, black or otherwise.

Posted by mbowen at 12:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Feminism, Evolutionary Biology & The Cellphone Shopper

Over at Booker Rising I read an interesting bit of speculation as to whether or not women select for patriarchy in contemporary American society. The answer is, only hot women do.

You know the saying. Good girls go to heaven and bad girls go anywhere they like. It's true in our society but only near the top and the bottom. That's because in the middle, life is so easy. Why indeed would a women choose a dominant male if all of her needs could be met by a sensitive new age guy with a 75,000 salary?

I've tried to critique feminism in the contexts of evolutionary biology, conservative philosophy and cultural traditions but I never seem to get a handle on the whole thing. It only comes through to me in short examples that make perfect sense. For example, most guys (and speaking for myself, definitely me) feel quite manly going to Home Depot to buy some lumber or power tools in order to build something for the house. You know it's a job for a man and you know that you're doing the provider thing. It feels like hunting and gathering. You get home, you sweat, curse and build the damn thing and when it's done the family marvels and hands you a beer. Manly. On the other hand there is nothing quite so un-manly as the poor schlub in the supermarket being told to get some radicchio by his wife over the cellphone.

Another element of suburban life that leaves me gobsmacked is seeing Mercedes sedans parked in the handicapped zone. If our lifestyle can be so comfortable as to give essentially crippled people 300 horsepower chariots, then we are really flipping evolutionary biology on its head - at least while the oil lasts.

And so while we have crafted out an economy of rewards where women can do most everything men can do, is it any wonder that both women and men are more highly sexualized than ever before? The great failure of feminism is that it doesn't really tell women what to do with all that 'freedom' and 'equality'. It hasn't really created a new woman, merely women who do what men used to do, which is make enough money and have enough mobility in society to take care of themselves. Feminism hasn't changed how women actually raise children when they do, it suggests that child-rearing is just an arbitrary selection among many. The revolution is in contraception, fertility and virility drugs, but feminism doesn't adequately modify our understanding to prescribe what to do with all that. What works? Still the same old basic drives. Women want to be hot, men want hot women. Women want to be wanted by men who can get hot women (as opposed to men who want hot women but don't stand a chance). This is as it ever was, except that it has accellerated in this country to levels of public obsession and obscenity.

Of course I have no problem with the idea that women should have money and mobility. The question is whether the amount of money and mobility should overturn patriarchy. Should a woman be the breadwinner in a married family? Should she wear the pants and let the dad raise the children? I think that in a society as wealthy as ours with a white collar middle-class so full of cellphone shoppers that the inverted model could be stable. But it certainly could not and should not upset the norm. I worry about a suburbia filled with single women and small dogs.

I have no real conclusion here. The territory to cover is vast. I'm merely observing that a certain amount of middleclass cushion is taking us into an area where our entire lives can be led by fashion, wrecked and even recovered by yet another fashion. This is not what we have evolved to be. It is more temporary than the warm spot in this Ice Age.

Posted by mbowen at 08:09 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

February 17, 2006

Snow Foolin'

Some (loser) folks have gone off on mini-tirades against one of the last honest men in broadcasting, Bryant Gumbel over his remarks against the Winter Olympics. I'll give what I've seen of his entire quote, you can guess which part mealy-mouthed crybabies are whining and cracking wise about.

"Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don't like them and won't watch them ... Because they're so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention. Try not to point out that something's not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what's called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won... So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they're done, when we can move on to March Madness - for God's sake, let the games begin."

Now if you're like me and not particularly interested in finding stupid sniglets of 'racism' under every rug, you get to the heart of the matter. Byrant Gumbel's show is called 'Real Sports'. Righteous. When I grew up we used to have debates about whether or not something was a sport or an activity. Remember that? Well I'm sure Gumbel had that in mind when he named his show. Now consider some common sense observations:

bowling, darts, golf..anything that lacks defense is not a sport

I consider golf a sport, I guess I would consider sand and water the "defense". Poker and gymnastics are not sports. Definitely anything that has judges deciding the outcome is not a sport(gymnastics, ice skating, cheeerleading). Those are more competitions than sports.

Running is not a sport. Nor is NASCAR.

Wrestling, boxing, kickboxing and other types of indivdual fighting are the only true sports.

No aparatuses aiding the athlete.

All that makes sense and we could get a discussion going here. But I think the question has already been settled by ESPN when they did their Degree of Difficulty study. In that famous evaluation, 60 sports were ranked in ten categories: (Endurance, Strength, Power, Speed, Agility, Flexibility, Nerve, Durability, Hand/Eye and Analytic Ability). I happen to think it takes more nerve than 4.38 to play Lacrosse, but other than that I find the results very satisfying.

Take the word of our panel of experts, a group made up of sports scientists from the United States Olympic Committee, of academicians who study the science of muscles and movement, of a star two-sport athlete, and of journalists who spend their professional lives watching athletes succeed and fail.

They're the ones who told us that boxing is the most demanding sport -- and that fishing is the least demanding sport.

In that list, Ice Hockey and Alpine Skiing make the top 15. Also Figure skating and Speed skating make the top half as do Bobsledding and Luge, just ahead of Badminton. Ski Jumping is in the bottom half, but it is rescued by the second highest score when it comes to Nerve. (The highest goes to Rodeo). Snowboarding didn't make the list, nor did Skeleton. And Curling is right near the bottom where it belongs, below Cheerleading.

Now I don't follow Hockey close enough to know whether or not anyone takes Olympic Hockey seriously as compared to the NHL, but my guess is that other than the US vs Russians, nobody cares. So when it comes to keeping it real, Gumbel is dead on it. Now I suppose we could go ask the Nielsen people if more people watch March Madness than the Winter Games, but my guess again is no contest and the NCAA wins hands-down, not to mention the NIT. (According to my Google Toolbar 'NCAA Basketball' gets 7.5million entries and 'Winter Olympics' get 2.8million Case Closed).

I'm not going to dignify the squirrel chatter about Bryant Gumbel's remarks being racist, just like I'm not going to ask what kind of beer Dick Cheney drinks. Some people need to grow up. As for the Winter Olympics.. eh. I'd rather watch the new Tour of California.

Posted by mbowen at 09:48 AM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

Blogrolling.com: Cut Off the Head

You know the old saying.. Cut off the head of the snake and the body follows. Apparently, Blogrolling.com is the head of the blogospheric snake. And right about now, ie 0039 -8GMT, somebody or something has cut off the head of Blogrolling.com and all of my precious blogs take forever to load.

Verry interesting.

Posted by mbowen at 12:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Black White: A Prediction & Some Advice

Much of my FX viewing has been interrupted of late by promos for an upcoming reality show called 'Black White'. The premise is basically an unfunny rendition of an old Eddie Murphy joke. What happens when a black man (or family in this case) dresses up in whiteface, and vice-versa. My prediction? Not much, just about as much as one could expect from several episodes of a reality series.

Reading the preview somewhere in the news, I figured as much. It's somewhat interesting that the original white guy in blackface expected to be called a nigger, and wasn't. Big surprise there. No white person has called me a nigger to my face since highschool, as in the late 70s. In fact, the last time it happened was somewhere around 85, from a passing car. Whatever to that.

As usual, Ice Cube and the rest of the usual suspects are going to tell us how good it is for us to share and bond and express our deep innermost feelings on this most sensitive of subjects. I say phooey. Is it just me or is all this 'constructive dialog' starting to sound boring, repetitive and self-serving?

My advice? Go rent Sounder.

Posted by mbowen at 12:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 16, 2006

My Sucky Canon

My Canon A75 just went belly up. I have the dreaded E18 error.

My problem first appeared in December of 2005 when my camera was just over a year old. I purchased it at the end of October 2004. I had used it for a short time one morning and the batteries ran out very quickly. So I replaced them and began shooting pictures. Without warning, the camera failed. I got the E18 error message. The camera was no good all day.

That evening I looked up the problem on the web and saw material suggesting it might be related to a stuck lens. I blew dust off it with some compressed air and manually jiggled the lens. I put in fresh batteries and the camera worked again.

I had no problems until the past few weeks. It has started to run through batteries very quickly - I can barely get through 30 flash pictures before it asks to replace batteries. Yesterday it went E18 again and is completely out of commission.

You'll find many complaints like mine here. It looks like class action to me.

Posted by mbowen at 10:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Second World Tech

What is technology? What is high tech? Think about it for a minute. Now read this:

If you had the opportunity to look into the radio room of most ocean going commercial ships, chances are the integrated bridge, radar and Inmarsat equipment would be made by the Japan Radio Company. This company founded in 1915, is clearly the leading manufacture of top quality commercial maritime radio communications equipment in the world. The JRC NRD-545 DSP is the latest receiver in this very long and very proud tradition. And the '545' may be the finest receiver they have ever offered. The substantial size and ergonomic layout, make this receiver a pleasure to operate. Intuitive knob layout, a conventional keypad, and separate buttons means that this receiver is comfortable and straightforward to operate. You won't find a button on the NRD-545 with six different functions! The multicolored display, is the clearest and most attractive in the industry.

Like me, you probably can't think of the last time you thought about shortwave radio. When I was a kid, I spend tireless hours listening to god knows what on Pops' EMUD. But it was that same fascination that brought be to the internet. Nobody I know thinks about radio tech. As far as I can tell by looking at some of these radio websites, there are few or no American companies thinking about making money in it either.

Bringing this back to current events, I was thinking about this for a hot minute listening to Chertoff complain about his inability to communicate during the Katrina crisis. I mean where would he turn to for his radio equipment? It's not like you could make a Best Buy run for some transceivers. A couple years ago when I went to the Miramar Air Show, I got into a snit about the traffic. It basically took about two hours to get off base. I had some walkie talkies and I was all over the place trying to figure out what was up including calling 911 on the cell and relaying information back to the adhoc network of folks on the citizens' bands. Needless to say, I think most Americans would be in a very serious pickle without the 110V flowing day and night.

Just something to think about.

And one more thing. You'll notice that the latest BDS meme is all about how morally suspect people are when they are not broadcasting every trivial detail about themselves 24/7 on the proper network with the proper spin. Pathetic.

Posted by mbowen at 09:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

MechAssault Jihad

Posted by mbowen at 07:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2006

Cartoon Nostalgia

My wife and I just made the ultimate podcast, except we didn't record it. But we walked all the way back down memory lane thinking about all the old TV shows and cartoons we used to watch when we were kids.

But we had to turn to the internet when I rattled off a few of my all-time favorite characters some of whom were unknown to her. The one that I have had countless controversies over was Super President. Nobody but nobody remembers Super President, who was pretty much the most invincible superhero ever. See, most of the superheroes have some weakness. When Super President got rid of his costume, he was still the President of the United States. He could change the molecular structure of his body, and even when I was a kid, I knew this was the coolest power around. I had figured out the periodic table and realized that gave him over 200 elemental powers, plus unlimited molecular powers. So if he wanted to defeat Superman, he could just turn himself into Kryptonite. If he wanted to defeat Green Lantern, he could turn himself into wood.

The other great cartoon that the Spousal Unit didn't remember was Gigantor. Gigantor, of course, had one of the three coolest theme songs in all of children's television. The other two being the theme song for the Amazing Three and the mod jazz of Hoppity Hooper. What? You don't remember Hoppity Hooper? Next to Snagglepuss, another favorite, Hoppity Hooper was one of the coolest of the hokey characters. I preferred them straight, which is why like many of my geek bretheren who grew up in Atomic America, I am in agreement that the greatest cartoon of all was Johnny Quest.

Oh but those hokey characters. Remember when cartoons went all soft? I mean we started off with cool superheroes like Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Ironman and the Flash. Then they gradually got softer. First they added sidekicks, which wasn't so bad if they were like The Mighty Mightor's flying dinosaur. But then they sprouted families with half-powers. On the one hand it could be great like with the Herculoids because most of the time even the gloopy characters could do cool things, on the other hand it could be completely ruinous. This is where I part company with the fans of Space Ghost. I say Space Ghost was lame because of his dependence on those dumb kids and their monkey. What was the point of them anyway?

It reached complete lows by the 70s when you had doofus 'heroes' like Hong Kong Phooey and Inch High Private Eye, and by the time we were beyond cartoons our poor baby brothers sucked up reprocessed French cheese like the Smurfs. But even in the early days we got goofballs like The Impossibles, who were fun to watch, but no contest to The Amazing Three or The Fantastic Four. Then finally the whole thing died at the birth of Super Friends with the Wonder Twins. Holy crap, Batman. Super Friends? You call that the Justice League of America?

Anyway, I wasn't all hardcore. I mean I could dig the irony of Jay Ward so I did like Super Chicken, Tom Slick, George of the Jungle and Roger Ramjet. Even though there was no greater whipped character this side of Pepe LePew, I actually did like Underdog. But whatever happened to the great off-beat cartoons like Winky Dink?

You realize of course that it took the Japanese to bring back power and justice to cartoons. And what did that better than Space Cruiser Yamato? Once we decided to go limp with our heroes what could top the moral clarity of Kimba the White Lion, or the upbeat grit and determination (as well as homage to hijinks) that was Speed Racer? Also, if you ask me, I'd take Marine Boy anyday over Aquaman.

I could go on and on, but I have to push the G button in my own Mach 5 and hop to work (if you didn't realize what that graphic was all about). Meanwhile, psychoanalyze yourself over at Toonopedia. I guarantee you will waste half your day.

Posted by mbowen at 08:50 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

February 14, 2006

Finally, a Plausible 360 Excuse

Dean Takahashi finally comes with the hardline.

One of two companies supplying the Xbox 360's storage memory chips, Infineon, has had trouble making enough of the chips at the right speed for the game console that debuted last November, according to the sources. As a result Microsoft has not been able to meet the demand for the console.


Specifically, the sources say Infineon wasn't able to make enough GDDR3 (graphics double data rate) memory chips for the Xbox 360. Each box has 512 megabytes of GDDR3 that stores a game's data. Both Infineon and Samsung supply GDDR3 chips to Microsoft.

Some Infineon chips ran slower than 700-megahertz speed that was required, according to the sources. This was a big problem because the Xbox 360 has only a single highway (dubbed unified memory architecture) connecting memory with two processors, the graphics chip and microprocessor. When either of those chips can't access memory as needed because of the slow memory chips, then the processing within the entire system bogs down.

As a result, Microsoft has had to start sorting the slow GDDR3 chips from the fast ones, adding a delay to the production of the boxes and limiting the total numbers it can build.

I think that if we would have been told this a while ago, we (meaning techie folks) might have pointed a bigger finger at MSFT for backing away from IBM. It was hard for me to believe that Flextronics and Wistron would both have serious problems meeting demand.

Bottom line, all of these demand planning excuses were a smokescreen to cover Infineon's ass.

Posted by mbowen at 01:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BDS Meme: Cheneygate

It didn't take long for the latest BDS Meme to raise its ugly head and start spewing all over the 'sphere. But before I punch the carriers of this latest virus in the nose, I'd like to be thoughtful for a moment.

I take the Left to task more and more these days because if they get too stupid, we'll vote ourselves into straightjackets. The reason Hitler won was because his opposition was simply too stupid. Since we are a two party system, we can't really afford for the Democrats to get too stupid. I'm still in favor of a third party. But here's the thing that hit me this morning. It was Fishbone.

Way back in 1986 or so, Fishbone's kicking album was called 'In Your Face'. So I played it this morning in the car and there was a great song on it called 'Give It Up'. From the moment the song came on, you knew it was a spirited upbeat celebratory song. And while the the political principle was simpleminded at least it was joyful and humorous. Maybe my mind is haunted with the wrong ghosts, but I think that the Left has not only gone bonkers, but it has lost its sense of joyfulness.

In pursuit of this Cheney scandal, you get the feeling that the Left really wishes poor Mr. Whittington dead. Not only that, you really have to wonder about people who want to report that Cheney hadn't paid a 7 dollar hunting fee. That this is considered multi-day newsworthy is just another thing to wrinkle my brow.

Considering all the ghastly details that are coming out of FEMA's mouth over the death of New Orleans, you'd think some sense of perspective would be in order from Democrats - like maybe the message "we could do a better job, here's how". Nope. They're just savaging the VP. It's like Vince Foster all over again. When will people get stuff through their thick heads that democracy is not about petty jealousy?

Posted by mbowen at 12:42 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Getting Started

I'm going to keep a small journal as a subpart of the blog to keep myself up to date on what I'm building and writing. Tonight I reinstalled MySql 5.0 (seems like I've done this before) on my main home computer. I installed it as a service and hope it doesn't hog much memory. I've got SQLyog hooked up and that works, so I can see what it does nicely.

I also got Rails installed I think. Just ran the gem package and left it at that. So far so good. That's enough for tonight.

Posted by mbowen at 12:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 13, 2006

Container Nukes

An interesting discussion about recently confirmed cold fusion is going on over at Slashdot. Here's a real gem that puts some nuke fears into perspective. I never really thought about what quality nukes a terrorist might actually get their hands on.

Modern nuclear weapons are around 1 MT, usually a bit less, as that's the optimal size for a weapon you can target accurately. The larger nukes of old were designed to crack silos with a near miss, were extremely expensive for their mission, and were taken out of service long ago. If a terrorist gets a nuclear weapon, it's either going to be a sub-MT military weapon, or a quite a bit smaller "home made" fission only device (modern nukes are pretty sophisticated fusion-pumped-fission devices).

Let's do the math [nuclearweaponarchive.org]. A 1 MT nuke detonated at optimal blast height will knock down residential structures at a radius of 10 km, more solid buildings at 7 km, and at 5 km knock down reinfored buildings and kill people outright from the blast (and all other effects, such as high doses of radiation, have smaller radii). A surface blast would have a far smaller effect. The only real point of a surface blast is to generate radioactive fallout (an air blast generates surprisingly little, though it would still hinder clean-up and rebuilding).

So yes, in theory, a terrorist with a high-quality military nuke (let's imagine a few were sold out of the old USSR armory, and somehow still worked today (the tritium would have to be replaced, which is quite technical, but lets imagine a scientist came with the bomb)) could sit a couple of kilometers off the coast and destroy some structures along the coast. Good for psycological impact, but not much else, and insanely expensive to carry out. A 50 kt fission bomb, a far more likely scenario for a terrorist, would have less than 40% of the blast radius of the high quality military bomb, and would probably need to be within 1 km to be effective.

A surface blast over *land* is what a terrorist wants, because the radioactive fallout would cause a world of hurt. You'd get very little of that even 1 km off the coast, and even a ship at a dock would produce far less fallout than a bomb 1 km inland. It's *definitely* worth checking for nukes at ports of entry: the threat just goes down very fast as the bomb moves away from land.

The Nuclear Weapon Archive is extrarodinarily cool.

Posted by mbowen at 05:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What Do You Mean We?

For the past several months, there have been race riots all over California inner-city highschools and jails. This is no coincidence, the link between the two is fairly well established. They are the facilities charged with the care and feeding of thousands of blacks and hispanics who have no other distinguishing characteristics as humans other than that they actually represent the ugliest stereotypes.

You would think that this is a matter of urgent concern. It's not mine. These are not 'my people'.

My people are in close proximity to millions of other Americans in the gap between mystery and understanding. The mystery and the myth are the second and third degree accounts of ultimate success in America. Understanding is defense of that ultimate success. Most of the American middle class, if not all of it, lives in that gap.

This is something of an extension of what I've written about before in 'Assume the Position' because it is that assumption we have to deal with when looking to the connection between the putative 'black community' and those African Americans now rioting with their fellow inmates in jail or ghetto highschools.

But enough of that pontification. Right now I just want to give the Biggest Bitchslap Imaginable to Bol for his completely craptastic defense of 'stop snitching'. His bottom line, in order to protect your stash of weed from the cops, it's worth it not to assist them in finding a killer.

Busta Rhymes didn't want to talk to the cops because he's smart. He knows that the hip-hop police's feigned interest in the identity of this bag handler's killer is no more than a simple ploy to glean the contents of The Bag itself and its exact whereabouts. Cooperating with the police in this case, as in most cases, would serve no purpose other than to give them the drop on your stash.

Now that you know what a load of methane has passed through his brain in defense of hiphop, go curse him out on his website and tell him I sent you. He's lost his frickin mind.

Posted by mbowen at 02:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Daddyman Weekend

Friday my back was killing me. I slept on the sofa last Tuesday and the pain in my lower back was getting progressively worse. Friday morning I had to engineer, as if I were wrestling, some escape from bed. If I moved this leg out, then twisted that much, I could flip over without much pain and then scoot out this direction. I had to get assistance to put on my shoes and socks. It was, without question the second worse back injury I'd ever suffered. The first was gotten the same way, falling asleep on the couch. Well, it's more like crashing on the couch in a position that could only be gotten to unintentionally and sleeping so soundly that you're stuck in that position half the night.

The Sprite, aka F9 had baseball practice on Saturday, and despite my incapacity, I am assistant assistant coach. Her best friend had been over since 10 in the morning and by 1 we were supposed to show up for practice. The problem is that there are too many teams and not enough fields in town for every team to practice. But Coach Brian has a familiarity with odd spots in the community and found us a lovely diamond in a secluded part of the South Bay. I've lived there for about a total of 7 years and I've never been within half a mile of this particular neighborhood which is really stunning considering how close it is to everything. It's just a turn that nobody makes, there's no reason to drive through this area unless you live there. It's a fabulous little area. So after a few McBurgers and several wrong turns, we found the secret spot.

It turns out that F9 has a great swing and won 2nd place in the hitting derby behind the Coach Brian's own daughter who is a chatty prodigy. But she definitely needs some help on catching. It's partially the glove's fault. We're going to have to beat it to a pulp so it will close nicely. Mink oil is supposed to be the cure. I'm just going to run over it with my car, that's what we used to do back in the day and baseball is all about tradition. This is softball though, and watching the Coach teach it is reminding me of several things. One, how much we had to figure out for ourselves when we were kids. Two, how fundamental the fundamentals are. Three, how lousy my own baseball coach was when I finally got one.

F10's clarinet tutor didn't show up, so she continued working on deconstructing the life of Phyllis Wheatley for her school project. She's tooting along OK but gets rather screechy every once in a while. I was happy to not have to deal with hearing much more of that. As long as she shows interest, we continue our parently duties. We found her and the other F the avatar maker that I used to craft the face of 607 on my left sidebar so they continued to dress virtual dolls and create characters and people.

This was a big weekend for the boy. Sunday was Scout Day at the local United Methodist, and he was invited to do a couple things. First, he and his best friend did their now famous rendition of the theme from Veggie Tales on flute and trombone for the children's procession. He then led a call to prayer and then performed a solo at the end of the service. Some cat named James Swearingen is extraordinarily famous if you're in Band, but if you want to download an MP3, you're out of luck. I think this is music only public school music teachers and church musical directors know. Anyway, his rendition of 'Follow the River' was perfectly amplified in the sanctuary and got a big hand. Outside on the front grass, they continued to play for coins.

Then we had a four-way family lunch down at the retro burger cafe in the Riviera. The eight of us adults rambled for a good 90 minutes about New Orleans, international business, children and some other stuff I probably should have paid attention to but didn't while the various widescreen TVs blasted and children took up two other booths. The clam strips were perfect.

Later in the afternoon, sister came by and my dad and I hooked up. He's looking to learn to play piano, so we jetted over to Sam Ash to check out the keyboard selection. It turns out that you can get some very nice feeling Casios for 600 bucks. Makes me want to play. But maybe I ought to stick to bass guitar. Not that I have one, but I miss the fact that I used to be pretty good and now I suck completely. I can't even do 'Good Times' which is your basic staple. Then we swung by Borders to pick up my Ruby books and headed back to the pad.

When we got there, I worked for a while to help F10 plan the garden we're going to build. She's picked out several types of marigolds and sunflowers including a stunning chianti hybrid we found at Burpee.com. Next week we head to Home Depot for the planter boxes and various tools. This should be a great project.

I got in some good ripping and added another 500 tracks or so to the collection. I've decided to up the ante and use 320 kpbs for M4a for any song I think I might burn to CD to play in the car. The difference is audible and I've got disk space to burn.

Finally, we all watched Nausicaa, which is a fabulously good tale. Miyazaki does it again. This one is a bit darker than his other works and not quite as nuanced but still excellent. These are a class of stories we simply don't approach for American kids. I don't know why not, but I do know why my kids prefer The Avatar over all other kids' programming.

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Coroutines and Codeblock Callbacks in Ruby

I have decided that nobody is going to help me write the great system of my dreams, nor am I going to get rich enough in my lifetime to have time to do it full time. So I have chosen Ruby to be the language for implementation of XRepublic. It looks very close to exactly the kind of language I would have written. It's lovely.

But the last time I saw coroutines was an Ada class in 1984, and I think I got that part wrong. So this whole

reciever.each { |iteratedParm | [parm1..parmn}
construction is a little freaky. Especially if I can put yeilds in any place in the recieving class method. I mean it kind of makes sense at a high level, but when you do it with seemingly atomic objects, it's a little mind bending. I'm sure that I'll get used to it as time goes by, and writing about it helps. Still.. I want to get it and I don't want to not use it because of its weirdness.

Having had to think primarily in Perl and ksh for the past 5 years has twisted me into a particular shape. So I bought both the Ruby books yesterday: the Pragmatic Programmer's guide and Agile Development with Rails.

What this is all about is XRepublic. I've already got several classes designed and I'm going to build the whole thing from scratch. So politics is really becoming tiresome to talk about and I'm getting deep into the geekery. Of course in the end it's to build XRepublic which is all about politics. So we'll be back around to more of that next year some time. More later.

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February 12, 2006

That's About Right

Your Five Factor Personality Profile

You have high extroversion.
You are outgoing and engaging, with both strangers and friends.
You truly enjoy being with people and bring energy into any situation.
Enthusiastic and fun, you're the first to say "let's go!"


You have high conscientiousness.
Intelligent and reliable, you tend to succeed in life.
Most things in your life are organized and planned well.
But you borderline on being a total perfectionist.


You have low agreeableness.
Your self interest comes first, and others come later, if at all.
In general, you feel that people are not to be trusted.
And you're skeptical that anyone else really feels differently.


You have low neuroticism.
You are very emotionally stable and mentally together.
Only the greatest setbacks upset you, and you bounce back quickly.
Overall, you are typically calm and relaxed - making others feel secure.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is medium.
You are generally broad minded when it come to new things.
But if something crosses a moral line, there's no way you'll approve of it.
You are suspicious of anything too wacky, though you do still consider creativity a virtue.
The Five Factor Personality Test
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February 11, 2006


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February 10, 2006

Axe Jeeves

Ask.com is a great domain name. Ask Jeeves was a clever marketing campaign. Now Jeeves is getting heaved. Fine with me.

As a moderately large fan of the Jeeves & Wooster series both on radio and on DVD, I've never quite believed that the search engine was up to the standard of its namesake. Most of the time, I get four advertisements and a referral to About.com. Weak. I'm afraid that I abandoned the electronic Jeeves a long time ago.

Reviewing it today, I rather like the narrowing of questions on the right sidebar. It's too bad that the returned websites aren't quite as direct as you'd expect, which is part of the problem. When I'm asking a specific question, I want a specific answer, so if you're going through the trouble of refining the question, which is quite a clever act, why not deliver a series of direct answers instead of a whole freaking website?

Ask Jeeves might have been, and yet still can be, an auto FAQ. But if it is to be, it will be without Jeeves.

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Krauthammer Nails It

As you may have surmised from the tone and content of my recent comics, I think the entire reign of chaos surrounding the satirizing of Muhammad is ripe for comedy. Nothing quite mocks a moralist like a satire of his revulsion to satire. But into such chaotic times the voice of moderation is too worth of mocking, and nobody nails it like Charles Krauthammer in today's editorial.

A true Muslim moderate is one who protests desecrations of all faiths. Those who don't are not moderates but hypocrites, opportunists and agents for the rioters, merely using different means to advance the same goal: to impose upon the West, with its traditions of freedom of speech, a set of taboos that is exclusive to the Islamic faith. These are not defenders of religion but Muslim supremacists trying to force their dictates upon the liberal West.

And these "moderates" are aided and abetted by Western "moderates" who publish pictures of the Virgin Mary covered with elephant dung and celebrate the "Piss Christ" (a crucifix sitting in a jar of urine) as art deserving public subsidy, but who are seized with a sudden religious sensitivity when the subject is Muhammad.

I have no particular soft spot in my heart for the eternal smirk. The fact that Charlie Hebdo has managed to get itself sued a dozen times by Christians is a strange distinction indeed. Freedom of speech is different from freedom of spite or freedom of spit. Nobody likes a wiseguy. So agents provocateur are not blameless. Nobody in their right mind loves an equal opportunity offender. But it does seem that the rowdy minions are going out of their way to be outraged. You've got to be really looking for trouble to find it in Denmark.

I'm all for the conflict. Let's get it out there. If there are people who are willing to die over matters as pathetic as this, I think we're well rid of them. I mean we suffer through Ted Rall without coming apart. Days like this, I wish I was king of a small island nation whose primary business was that of an international prison colony. Business would be brisk, and I would oblige those civilized nations.. You know, maybe I'm a little carried away here. I'll stick to ribaldry in comic form.

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February 09, 2006

Vanity of the Physical Word

Back in the days when the only people who knew the Internet were people who had read Ed Krol's book we all understood something to be true: All information could be digitized and searchable. Back in the glory days of Panix.com, the first ISP, we would WAIS and Gopher and Archie ourselves into a pleasant oblvion of treasure hunts through the then sparsely populated and scantily indexed 'net. It wasn't even the world wide web (that's what 'www' means, by the way) because it didn't even span the globe. So when Project Gutenberg came along, we knew we were on the edge of a new world.

Of course, nobody took us seriously. Nobody believed that money could be made or attention could be maintained. It has taken roughly a dozen years, and now the implications of the thing we all knew, Moore's Law, has made the improbable, reality. And so today Google blows people's minds. It shouldn't. We've wanted this all along.

So their spat with publishers was entirely predictable, but here's the thing. Books don't move. Books are for sitting still, taking your time, working alone in relative quiet. Knowledge and information are useful all of the time, and those restrictions limit the usability of books. There was a time when it didn't matter that books didn't move, because nobody did business any other way. But now we in the IT /Software/Telecom industries require that information previously jailed in books move. The information outside of books now dwarfs that inside.

What I am doing with music, I expect soon to do with books. What am I doing with music? I am buying it piece by piece and recalling it at will. Today I can listen to The Family, George Duke, and St. Etienne on the same CD, in my car, from my laptop, from my phone or over my home theatre. When I want, how I want. I manage a huge library. I'll do the same with written material in the future. When I want to recall that passage from 'Dry September' or from 'Battle Royale' that intrigued me in highschool, I can bring it up. Maybe it costs me a nickel. Maybe it costs me a dollar.

Remember. There was a time, just 10 years ago, when eBay didn't exist. The very idea seemed impossible. People scoffed at Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com. Right now, people doubt the poltical influence of the blogosphere. There are certain fights not worth fighting. It doesn't make sense to fight the digitization of the information in books.The very crux of this matter is this - did Shakespeare write, "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well"?. No, but that is the most popular adaptation into television. Chances are more people have learned it the wrong way. Some may not even know it to be Shakespeare. One of these days, coming soon, we will consume cultural knowledge from around the globe the same way we sample food and music. If the authentic producers don't get with the digital program we will live in a world of Chef Boyardee info.

The obvious lack of mobility for non-digitized documents can be an asset or a liability, as folks on the Google Blog note:

"Nature, politics and war have always been the mortal enemies of written works," she said. "Most recently, Hurricane Katrina dealt a blow to the libraries of the Gulf Coast. At Tulane University, the main library sat in nine feet of water -- water that soaked the valuable Government Documents collection: more than 750,000 items -- one of the largest collections of government materials in Louisiana -- 90 percent of it now lost."

A book is a form of a document, and document is a loaded word, coming as I do from Xerox. Don't fence it in.

I enjoy the vanity of the physically printed word. I would love to be able to order books printed to spec, just like those custom collections they used to sell on TV like so many KTel album collections. Dear Barnes & Noble, I would like to order a fresh printing of a leather bound 'Gullivers Travels' and a new paperback copy of 'Oliver Twist'. James Frey's book, I'll take as a PDF.

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We Have A Spying Problem

OK so I was wrong. It only shows I don't quite understand the law. Apparently, if you have a warrantless search, anything you find from that appears to be completely inadmissible, even for the purposes of obtaining proper warrants. I was under the impression that was not the case. According to the WaPo

Twice in the past four years, a top Justice Department lawyer warned the presiding judge of a secret surveillance court that information overheard in President Bush's eavesdropping program may have been improperly used to obtain wiretap warrants in the court, according to two sources with knowledge of those events.

The revelations infuriated U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly -- who, like her predecessor, Royce C. Lamberth, had expressed serious doubts about whether the warrantless monitoring of phone calls and e-mails ordered by Bush was legal. Both judges had insisted that no information obtained this way be used to gain warrants from their court, according to government sources, and both had been assured by administration officials it would never happen.

So there's a conceptual difference that needs a great deal of explaining with regard to wartime powers and 'the battlefield' when such things are mixed in with the infrastructure of peacetime civilians. I mean, I know that we are in a state of war against certain elements of various worldwide organizations, but I don't feel like I am at war personally.

I worry we may not be able to resolve this without some kind of reform. I don't want to see our system crash. Not that on this particular matter of warrantless wiretaps is more than a minor tactic in a major offensive. Everybody knows this, which is why no injuctions have been sought, but lets see what we see.

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February 08, 2006

Just Another Wednesday

The Brother's Cup
This morning I've been wasting a lot of time reading and writing when I should be studying MDX so I can write some cool database extracts. And I've taken a tree-lined bourgie path amongst the black blue bloods. Namely I've been checking out the 100 Black Men websites as well as those for Jack & Jill. All of this following up on reminescences about the Wilfandel Club which I mentioned this week.

I thought about whether or not I should attempt once again to launch The Brother's Cup, a black men's social club in LA. (And I'm bending towards that considering the age of some of those 100 black men, damn I ain't that fogey yet.) There are several difficulties with this idea, most of them logistical. Most of the fellas I know who aren't married don't want anything to do with hanging out with brothers who aren't active wingmen. Most of the fellas I know who are married can not, repeat can not, get away from the wifeandkids, much less cough up 50 bucks or so for the monthly dinner. So where does that leave me? Humph. Blogging and programing the Tivo. But it's a new year and I'm going to give it another shot.

My Son the Geek
I always thought it was in him, but now that he's expressing it the effect is a bit startling. My son actually bored me stiff with his excitement over a Discovery Channel mockumentary called Supervolcano. He has been learning plate tectonics and so every time we get into a fun game of trivia, I have to answer unanswerable questions about slipstrike faults, fracture zones and harmonic tremors.

Reading Time
I have instantiated reading time chez moi. Two of the kids stay up after 9pm. So they have to read now. No idiot box, no Walkman, no phone calls. Just reading. If you don't want to read, go to bed.

All About the Bits
I've set my iTunes rip dial all the way to the max on AAC. 320 is the magic number and it's really a whole lot better. I'm going to re-rip my favorite tunes and re-reap the benefits. If you haven't tried the making M4As instead of MP3s, you ought to try it.

Fires in my Hometown

The weather out here is all bizarre. There is no reason for thousands of acres in eastern Orange County to burn and then for Malibu to catch on fire in February. This isn't fire season, but suddenly the temperature is high and the winds are blowing and crap is burning down. Just as surely as it stops being foggy and rainy, I feel like it's safe to wash The Transporter and sure enough now it's covered in ash. I live thirty miles away from all this, why should I suffer?

I haven't been so challenged with work in a mighty long time. It's really cutting into my blogging and thinking and everything else. I am accustomed to being underemployed. But all the other things I want to be doing, like keeping the TCB portal moving forward, learning Ruby so I can start building XRepublic (I have given up on building a sweat equity collective - eff y'all, I'm taking all the credit), and watching all that crap I recorded on my Tivo. It's not as if my customer is grateful for my blood... Oh well, at least it's not roofing or some other Dirty Job.

Time to listen to some Eric Sardinas.

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Second & 10

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February 07, 2006

Message of the Prophet

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Spying on You and Me

When I was a California teenager, I used to roller disco. In fact I was about as good in that as in most things I do - the lower upper middle class. Which means that I was good enough to be an extra in a first rate deal. Always mindful of such matters at the ridiculous age of 19, I often made it a habit to hang out at Venice Beach and Hollywood Blvd. As a measure of my own vanity and success at roller disco, I would perform and get people to take pictures of me. These would be tourists of course, locals would recognize me, and I would always be welcome to hang out with the cool guys and girls as we skated our way into that particularly Californish oblivion. Somehow I am reminded of this by the Cameo song 'Shake Your Pants' as well as 'Gloria' by Laura Branigan.

But I was also reminded of this by my trip to Hollywood the other night as I found myself in the viewfinder of half a dozen folks with digital cameras. And I wasn't even showing off. Everybody has got digital cameras it seems. Outside of your home, it's the big bad public boys and girls. Be prepared for reality TV. I'm quite adjusted to this reality because I recognize my ability, abetted by Google and you lovely trackbackers and readers, to create a self-portrait which is better than the average Joe. That is to say while it would take a bunch of you a while to figure out what my zipcode was in 1993, it's actually published somewhere in mdcbowen.org. And because mdcbowen.org has been growing steadily for over a decade, it would take quite a bit of disinformation to destroy the public record I have created about myself. I'm not saying that it would be impossible, but that it would have to be a professionally done job, a contract of non-trivial figures would be required to undo what I have done in public.

Since I am a member of the Bear Flag League and the Conservative Brotherhood, for example, it would be particularly difficult to make the case against my character as a domestic terrorist. Hell, people believe that I follow and defend George W. Bush blindly.

But what if? What would I have to do in order to be the target of the kinds of extra-FISA spying that is going on these days? What kind of finger has to point me out? It would certainly be more than a random happenstance. What keeps me safe from the prying eyes of the government? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I understand this. I know that every code I know everything I am could be put under a microscope. You might say that I am paranoid about it, but I think it would be more appropriate to say that I am Jewish about it. I understand that there is an almighty power that certainly capable and willing to judge everything I have ever done in my life. Whether it is God or the Government makes little difference to the extent that I discipline myself to be exactly what I intend to be. That is to say, my belief that I will ultimately be called into account for my life is a self-directed kind of thing.

It's facile to say that only terrorists should be afraid. We should all be mindful of whether our laws are just and whether they are followed whether or not our own personal privacy is at risk. I'm all for the disclosure that Congress is forcing upon the Administration. It's about time that they do their job, and while they're posing and being shrill, they are doing a decent job in giving us all something more to chew on. Nevertheless what is at the bottom of all this war on terrorism is a matter of character. Some people who believe they are only accountable to God and not to their neighbors have decided to hide their character and intent. They are, not like young American teens, shameless and wanting to be seen and admired by everyone. No they carry secret burdens and secret shames and are trying to conduct their business in secret. But we're all watching and listening and trying to ferret out those who would destroy our society and peace. Everybody has a camera. Everybody is being watched. What if the enemy is us?

In the end there's only one way to find out. Follow your suspicions and clues and expose the motives and intents of your suspects. It means everyone may be called into account. There's no better case for improving one's character than that.

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The Hijack Begins

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February 06, 2006

EO 12333 & The Meaning of Death

I try not to go through life with my jaw dropped, but I have to admit there are some awesome things to marvel at. Today I have marvelled at the pretense of objectivity by Nina Totenberg and the whole NPR staff that pre-empted Terri Gross with their idiotic 'Special Report' on the Intelligence Hearings. I marvelled at the arrogance of those Congresscritters who do nothing all day but suck up to lobbyists and their wacko constituents instead of really bothering to get into the guts of understanding how the President is actually approaching FISA. The nerve of their speculation!

Not too many people are blogging about E0 12333 (in plain sight), but I hope some (like Bloggledygook) get into the thick of it. Because if Leahy isn't going to moderate his mouthing off about the NSA professionals and Administration lawyers blindly breaking the law, and if NPR isn't going to be reasonable in their coverage we're going to have to do some fisking. The way they were pushing Gonzales all over the map like W had gone apeshit was really embarassing.

But there are astonishingly good things to marvel at as well. Today I found this essay which I hope people all over the 'sphere gang-tackle. It's great! O would it I were Instapundit. Hmm.

The only point to death is a point you make yourself. You make your death have meaning by giving your life meaning. You give your life meaning by choosing a project to accomplish, or by accepting as your own a project given to you by others or by God. That's it; but that's everything. The young marines who have died in Iraq did not die pointless deaths or meaningless deaths.

Definitely read the entire piece and find a way to spit once again in the face of Joel Whatshisname. You see we live in a country where there is a huge population of loud people with access to mass communications who are mentally and morally incapable of understanding the honor due soldiers who fight in defense of our liberty. So you can hardly expect them to see the value in electronic surveillance. If there is a sliver of a law they could use to decapitate executive leadership, they'll use it.

I wonder if they would dedicate their lives to it.

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Muhammad or Jesus?

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In The Beginning

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I don't remember if it was last year or the year before when Janet Jackson did her thing, but I do know that people are still talking about it. I sincerely hope that Gray's Anatomy got the ratings boost it deserves from all that advertising. Oh yeah, and there was a Super Bowl game yesterday too wasn't there?

The single most significant event that I can imagine coming from the victory of the Steelers is that Lynn Swann will get more votes and eventually win the election this year. All of us dark Republicans are squirming in our seats. Other that what is there to be said but trivialities?

I'm rather astounded at the pro-forma feeling that his SB had. I think it takes a lot of nerve to do the Avedon portraits of the players done with the trophy before the game is over. I wouldn't even let the players touch it before the game much less have artistic photo shoots with it. Even as Bart Starr marched the Lombardi up to the pedestal after the game, they touched it before Tagliabue awarded it. Not only that, the whole rehearsing the "I'm going to Disneyworld" thing was really 30 feet over the shark. When are we going to get tired of that?

Here's what I would do. And let the world know I said it here first. Make something really big out of the GoDaddy girl. Maybe get a third set of cheerleaders - the Go Daddy Girls. Run up to the winning quaterback and ask him what he's going to do and he'll say "I got a date with the Go Daddy Girls". Or if he's married, have his kid run up and ask him, "Where are you going to Go Daddy?", and he gives a knowing wink, and he says "Disneyworld", but you know what he's thinking.

As for me, my brother says I look like a football coach. I do. I don't understand what a little hair manipulation can do. We chilled out at his new pad way out in the boonies. He's got the big project HD DLP but dammit the Super Bowl is not presented in HD. What's up with that? Well if it was, it didn't look like HD to me. Maybe bro was lying about the HD. He wasn't lying about the 919 though. Yeah. He let me take a spin on his new Honda 919. I want one. What was amazing to me was the brakes. I almost stoppied just with a few pounds of squeeze on the right caliper. It felt amazingly light and... well I haven't been on a motorcycle in a while. The technology is stupendous these days.

Riding the 919 was definitely the highlight of the day. That and the cocktail franks. I also liked the FedEx commercial. You know you can see them all at Google Video. Cool.

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February 05, 2006

The Man Who Thinks He Can

If you think you're beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you've lost;
For out in the world we find
Success being with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are;
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself
Before you can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late, the one who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

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February 04, 2006

Re-Undoing Reverse Anti-Racism

I don't know what the title of this post actually parses to mean, but I'm going to hazard a guess. Racism is racism, anti-racism is the fight against racism. Reverse anti-racism is the leapy thing because it's like reverse racism. Except there is no such thing as reverse racism, it's simply a euphemism for black people 'being racist towards' whites. 'Being racist towards' someone is an overblown way of saying that something insulting happened that could possibly be construed as racist... and thats about as much patience as I or anyone should have for this mumbo-jumbo.

People without a logical bone in their body have been trying to wordsmith themselves into a fairy-ring of colorblind nirvana for generations in this country. Dollars to donuts Harriett Beecher Stowe didn't get it right herself. That doesn't stop Americans from trying - but since there is no justice, all we can do really is comfort ourselves with the notion that our consciences are OK. And for the sake of salve, opportunists find their ways into the public every once in a while.

My buddy Dave Hoggard put his foot down on some such nonsense which I haven't the patience to investigate. Since he's my pal, I trust his judgement, but since I'm something of a hardass on the subject, I think I'm in decent enough proximity to the subject to say 'Undoing Racism' is yet another farce. The conversation started off something like this:

In today's print edition of the Rhino Times, editor John Hammer takes my councilwoman, Dr. Goldie Wells, to task because she (ed: allegedly) called him a racist. Hammer reports that Wells, " ... said that I was a racist because I'm white and my parents are white, and my parents taught me to judge people by the color of their skin because my parents are racists."

So that means I must be a racist, too. Right? My parents are white ... just like John's. So logic tells me that Dr. Wells is calling my parents racists... just like John's. But the problem is, my parents are not racists. Just as John says of his parents in his column, mine did not teach me "...to judge people by the color of their skin..." as my councilwoman accuses without having ever having met them. To the contrary, I believe it was my dad who coined the phrase "... but by the content of their character" several years before Dr. King uttered those famous words. Calling my parents racists is offensive. Moreover, it is just an outright baldfaced lie.

How can it be that it is acceptable for a black person to stereotype me and my parents, and all white people with white parents, by labeling us all as racists when no evidence exists to support such a claim? I'll tell you why. Because many otherwise intelligent black people, and many white ones as well, are buying in to a bunch of revisionist horse manure.

And in the comments I heard something like this:

Our Undoing Racism workshop group (large and racially diverse) couldn't come to an agreement on the definition of "racism," so it doesn't surprise me that the small and less diverse group of commenters on this thread can't agree either. I don't believe there is a public consensus on the definition of the word.

And if we can't agree on the definition of the word, then it's difficult to discuss or debate a person's use of it without confusion and conflict, both of which we have here.

Horse manure indeed.

According to a survey I started about four years ago, about 14% of people surveyed are straight up racist. It doesn't bother me to know if they are black or white. In fact, the way I wrote the test, it doesn't matter. I designed it according to some fairly strong definitions which well researched. You can take my word for it, or you can read 'In My Father's House'. OK let's not be extreme, I'll give you a two shortcuts. The long shortcut is here, the short shortcut is as follows:

The belief that there are differences between human beings which are inherited such that they can be ordered into separate races in such a way that each race shares traits and tendencies which are not shared by members of any other race. Each race has an 'essence'.

All forms of racism build from the premise of racialism. Notice that racialism is not saying anything 'good' or 'bad' about races just that mutually exclusive races absolutely exist and divide the species. The racialist would argue that you could trace the bloodlines of Jews throughout history and that you can definitely determine the 'jewness' of any human being according to his racial 'essence'.

A racialist does not necessarily believe that the races, as we understand them in America are complete. He may say that there are, in actuality, 37 races. We just don't know what they are yet. The racialist's point however is that race, whatever it turns out to be, is deterministic of human behavior and that we need to know.

extrinsic racism:
The extrinsic racist says that there is a moral component to the 'essence' of a race which warrants differential treatment. These differences are, to the extrinsic racist, not particularly controversial. The extrinsic racist, while maintaining the belief for example that Jews are greedy, might not feel anything wrong with befriending a Jew. The extrinsic racist might very well applaud the Jew who proves himself not greedy and call him a credit to his race.

intrinsic racism:
The intrinsic racist says that the moral 'essence' of a race establishes an incontrovertible status for the race. No matter what an individual member of a race does he should be treated just like the rest of his race. the extrinsic intrinsic racist would argue that the Jew is so greedy that he would hide his greed in order to gain other's confidence or that this generous person is simply not a Jew.

So the very idea that people would be willing to pay 250 bucks to participate in a seminar that doesn't have definitions that are this good is prima facia fraud as far as I'm concerned. But the various failures of anti-racism don't really surprise me. We have endured two generations of liberal politics cowed by various radical sentiments and fuzzy wishful thinking and swallowed it whole. It's no wonder that we're barfing up garbage. I could take that metaphor even further, but I'm not really upset by the pervasiveness of idiocy. I just call it as I see it. I dont' think much has changed since the last time I called it.

So here's the quick answer for people who get confused over the matter of power and racism. Racism is a moral error. So long as a person is in moral error it doesn't matter what they do. It matters what they think. Most Americans are powerless anyway. What matters is their intent. Free your mind and your ass will follow. If you want to know how, you can start with the Survey and then on to the Race Man's Home Companion. I'm not going to link you to it. Find it yourself.

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Now It Makes Sense

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The Dog Whisperer

Yesterday, something hit me like a ton of bricks. It was about Americans and their dogs.

Now I'm not the kind of person that goes around looking for things that are wrong with Americans, but I did grow up black. That means I've had the 'natural' opportunity to look at things like an outsider and smirk. As a critical tool, the outsider looking in can be very powerful. It can also be overused, but listening to this dude talk about who we are as Americans was something from straight genius. His name is Cesar Millan, and you've got to absorb him.

He said that if you ask a person from the Third World about their dog, they say it's a dog. You ask an American and they say it's their baby.

Here in the United States, we often refer to our dogs as our children, our brothers and sisters, and even our soulmates! So if they ever display severe aggression towards another animal, we’re shocked, sad, or may even feel betrayed. We think of that dog as a “bad seed.”

That's so wrong, and this man is so right. He says he doesn't even speak much to dogs - that people talk to their dogs as if they were people. He said that in Europe, people regularly bring their dogs into cafes and restaurants and they never fight with other dogs. Why? Because Europeans know how to treat their dogs like dogs. Who is the dog and who is the master is clear, whereas here most Americans don't know who's the boss. He said America is run by dogs and children. Funny, I was just cartooning about the children part. Now I'm encouraged.

Catch his show on the National Geographic Channel. This is better than Dr. Phil

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Getting Situated

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February 03, 2006

Music Marathon

Right now I am listening to my whole collection of Bobby McFerrin music. I had unchecked all of the songs in iTunes so as to somewhat skew my Last.fm stats and lay off the McFerrin for a while. Now I'm back with a passionate vengeance. It's not that I had fogotten what his Medicine Music could do for me, it's just that I was in need of stress. Now that I have it in spades, Bobby is equalizing my spirit, putting me back at ease.

The bad news is that after all this time (since 2002) there has yet to be another McFerrin album. He's overdue right about now. The majority of folks have no idea what McFerrin is capable of, which is a shame.

In addition, I have discovered the genius of Keith Jarrett. Apparently, I have the patience now that I never had for that which rambles. I got about 2/3 the way through the documentary DVD about him, and I'm not surprised that some of Jarrett's early work would have turned me off. See I remember crawling through Tower Records Sunset in the bad old days desparately seeking some solo jazz piano. With my limited vocabulary I was trying to find something unboring. So the skinny geeks pointed me towards Jarrett and Cecil Taylor. Then they would throw in Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman just for kicks and I got ill. What I really wanted to hear was Bud Powell and Art Tatum. something crisp and dripping with virtuosity. What I got was some Jarrett with Charles Lloyd banging random shit and some Cecil Taylor that actually registered something on the verge of comprehensibility. And Liz Story. Ain't that a blip? The year was 1987. I went back to Starfish & Coffee. Now Jarrett's renditions of standards makes perfect sense to me and I plan to get my hands on some more.

Also on the straight up tip, I am so loving Nancy Wilson that my head hurts. There's nothing you can do but cry when you hear the purity and sweetness of her voice. I begin to think that there will never ever be another you Nancy and I weep for my country thinking she might die broke. If I were the millionaire I should have been by now, you would find Nancy singing at my club, Mr B's.

Someday. Someday in the future, in New York City, there will be a joint on 57th Street. Maybe on the very spot of the Russian Tea Room, I'll have my club.

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Lynn Swann

It's almost freaky that two of my all-time favorite footballers have turned out to be conservatives. When I was a kid, it wasn't enough just to play sports, you had to play with style. And when it came to football, the coolest thing possible was to catch the long bomb. In my own pantheon of football heros there wete three giants who were all wide recievers, they were Jack Snow, Gene Washington and Lynn Swann. I also have to give props to Billy White Shoes Johnson, but Washington and Swann were just IT. Lynn Swann even had a sweet name.

Swann is now making another name for himself in Pennsylvania politics. If you didn't know, he's leading the race for Governor as a Republican. Support him if you can.

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February 02, 2006

Link Storm

It's still the beginning of 2006 and I have not yet broken any of my resolutions. I don't miss Pringles and I haven't eaten any french fries. But what I haven't done enough of is link up to people I ought to, including blog readers and league-mates. So. On the off chance that any of you all have accounts on LinkedIn, get in touch with me via my email and we'll extend our network. There's a lot of business opportunity out there and I said I wanted to get networked for real. Now is the time and LinkedIn is the right place.

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Mining the Mind of Steve Krause

Back in the days when I was complaining that 30 year olds were running corporations, the gang of us at Hyperion eCRM had to deal with the equation hype + money - common sense = success. At least that's the way it was in the days of irrational exuberance. As one who always likes to review history in the light of renewed appreciation or scorn, I find it fascinating to find out whatever happened to.. along the lines of my career path and pointed pontifications. It's for that reason that I started my little jag on Xerox History. In the meantime, as the F500 slouches towards real security, BPM and data mining, I have fun digging up data on my own industry.

Steve Krause is my latest find. He puts up a nice practical post on Last.fm and a competitor that I never heard of or paid attention to. It fits rather congruently with my 'Do As I Say' theory. Note that the ultimate judge of the appropriateness is aesthetic consistancy, an entirely human creation.

It also turns out that Krause was a competitor at Personify. It's amazing that they were able to burn through half a billion dollars. If those happy days ever come back, never give a sucker an even break.

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In The Hizouse

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New Schools in New York


Rod Bowen on the left of the podium, is helping lead the charge to reinvent education for the youth of New York City. I wasn't able to get a transcript of his keynote address to Mayor Bloomberg's ceremony yesterday but I have some snippets from the NYT:

The schools announced yesterday will start with 100 students in the sixth or ninth grade or both, and will eventually grow to between 300 and 600 students — a size that will, it is hoped, foster a sense of intimacy to make it more difficult for students to slip through the cracks.

Among the new schools are the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism High School, which will join a collection of small schools that have replaced Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn; the East-West School of International Studies, which will open in Queens and teach children proficiency in Asian languages; and the DreamYard Preparatory School, whose principal, Rod Bowen, said he planned to use visual arts and theater to make math and other academic classes come alive.

Yes this is the same Rod Bowen of Rising Circle. Yes he is my cousin. We're all very proud.

Also the event was covered by the city government's website. The press release can be found here.

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February 01, 2006

State of the Union - Open Thread

Here's an open thread - first time at this egotistic blog. Now, my mellow is on you, what you gonna do?

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Wednesday Fragments

Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Jabbar. The very name associated with dominance. In an interview in the LA Times which has disappeared he made some great points. What he says about the state of the game is very interesting - that there isn't really enough talent for 30 teams. It does explain a lot.

African Chemical Analysis
"The African origin of the slaves was determined by studying a chemical in their tooth enamel that reveals plant and rock types of their native land. The chemical enters the body through the food chain as nutrients pass from bedrock through soil and water to plants and animals. It is an indelible signature of birthplace, the researchers said, because it can be directly linked to the bedrock of specific locales."

Lord of the Halo
This is a brilliant parody of Lord of the Rings and Halo done with deft editing. If you didn't know either you might not get the joke, but there's a gut buster in the middle of it.

What a lovely bunch of coconuts. A bunch of short films, which while most are silent, are inimitably British. Lighthearted humor for a change.

Shutup Tavis
Tavis Smiley is one of those people who shouldn't get on my nerves but does. Why? Because he's country. But seeing as I don't really have to have a good reason not to like somebody, I don't see why I need to be so logical about it. On the other hand there's this: Tavis Smiley's 21 Things African-Americans Need To Do. Now, one of Cobb's Rules is that you don't second-guess blackfolks. You just take them as they are. You don't try to improve them, denigrate them or explain for them, you simply take them at their word.

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time
If you want some, buy some. Support your local troop. If you don't want to eat the calories, you can have them sent to the troops overseas.

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Wednesday Meme Blogging

What is your reaction to waking up and seeing snow?
I must be still asleep. I live in Southern California.

What’s your favorite dessert to order out? to make at home?
Chocolate Mousse when I'm out to dinner, apple pie ala mode at the crib.

Do you file your taxes early or late?
Early. Mr. Bowen doesn't f*k with the Feds.

Do you usually get a big refund? If so, what do you do with it?
I usually use my refund to pay back taxes. Not that it ever gets to my own hands.

How do you handle your bills? Are you really organized, really laid back or somewhat in between. Describe.
Whenever I get paid, I handle all the big bills right away. I get zero interest on money laying around in the bank. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to my expenses though. Twice a quarter I get anal, and do them to the penny. In the meantime I have a shoebox full of reciepts.

How important is money in terms of your happiness?
Money and computers are the only logical things in my life. Everything else is stochastic. Money is indeed how I keep score. However I think like Boyd. Reducing my needs to zero is just as fun as being rich.

What did your parents teach you about money?
Not much. But my dad gave me a dollar a day for doing my chores. I saved up enough to buy a mini-bike. I still remember that it cost $136.

What do you wish your parents had taught you about money?
I find it difficult to imagine that they knew much more than I did. So, basically everything. Their idea of investing went no further than buying savings bonds.

What are your plans for the weekend?
I'm going shopping for a bicycle or a new pair of eyeglasses. I haven't decided which yet.

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