Friday, August 31, 2007

Bad Rats and Sick Ships

(The Warners of Virginia)As anticipated, the articles on Larry Craig's resignation have begun. We won't have to wait long. Less anticipated is that leading Republican Senator John Warner has announced that, like Dennis Hastert, he's had his fill of Washington and will not be seeking another term. Warner is one of the Republicans I support. His departure will be a loss for the senate. At 80, perhaps he's old and tired. Then again, perhaps the state of the situation has become so intolerable he just can't do it anymore. Remember, Warner returned from Iraq recently and suggested we start getting out of there by this Christmas.

While the GOP will massacre Craig and easily retain the seat, the task of retaining Warner's seat is far more challenging. Very popular and right there we have Mark Warner, well liked former governor of the state. Hillary, suggests the grapevine, has Warner in mind as a VP. That may have just changed. If Mark Warner runs for this seat and does not slip, he will be Virginia's next Senator.

Rat Gonzo leaves in a couple weeks, and today was Rat Rove's last day at the White House. He leaves a GOP boat that is taking on water and a presidency on the brink of oblivion, referring to nuclear holocausts. Play that lunacy out. Iran gets the bomb. Who do they nuke? The United States? No.


What happens next? Spacecraft will have to be modified to navigate the chunks of Iran around the space station. Iran doesn't know this? Yeah, they have a kook in charge, but that country is actually rather intelligent if the government would get out of the way.

Sirocco posted a Congressional Exodus story recently, noting that Deborah Price, R-Ohio, and Chip Pickering, R-Mississippi, won't be seeking re-election either.

The GOP ship is not sinking, but it is infected. The president's speeches this week paint continued obstinacy and denial. He does whatever Lord Cheney tells him to do, but they keep crafting different reasons for doing it, and he is starting to lose his generals. The sequence of events follow murky forces and pressures that require time. Still, when situations meet certain tipping points, a lot can happen quickly.

In Stephen King's The Stand, one of the military characters states, "If the center does not hold, everything falls apart."

Someone much smarter than than most elected officials wrote in The Perfect Drug, "Without you, everything falls apart."

As far as I can tell, the GOP has lost its center. At a July 4th Bush rally in North Carolina on public grounds, two individuals wearing T-shirts with anti-Bush statements were arrested for "trespassing", handcuffed, and thrown in jail. They made phone calls that produced phone calls, and the ACLU got them out of jail and filed suit. The judge tossed the bogus trespassing charge, and the federal government settled for $80,000.

The topic to which Bush's entire address spoke, Freedom of Speech.

Freedom of Speech, unless of course, you want to say something our president does not want to hear.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Posting a Puzzle

Humans beings have a curious relationship with reality. The following simple puzzle points at something deeper than optical illusions.

I have three cards in a box. One card is red on both sides. One card is blue on both sides. One card is red on one side and blue on the other side. At random I pull a card from the box and show you one side. It is red. What are the chances the other side is also red?

Typically, after some thought, figuring it must be either the red/red card or the red/blue card, one answers 50/50, since it is equally likely that I picked either.


Solutions welcome. I'll provide in a little while.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Demographic Politics

Tucson, Arizona. A couple days ago I posted analysis of the growing population of Arizona, which has become the fastest growing state in the nation. As I said, Arizona is becoming the state of Maricopa. What are the political implications?

I assert one can draw many significant political conclusions based on the information from that story and will make some of them.

1. Arizona will not elect a Governor from outside Maricopa County.
2. Arizona will not elect a United States Senator from outside Maricopa County.
3. Pima County’s influence on Arizona’s state policies will continue to decline.

While the reader may at first consider the statements irrelevant, I suggest they have meaningful implications.

Starting with the first assertion, many bloggers including myself have speculated on Republican Tim Bee, currently president of the state senate, running for governor. Forget it. I recant my earlier remarks on the possibility, and I disagree with Roger (still a great guy) who has made statements on several blogs that Bee would have a decent shot.

Moving to the second, we have a young and ambitions congresswoman in CD 8. Assuming the ambition continues and she desires further upward trajectory in politics, she has already topped out in terms of Arizona. Her moving to Maricopa would be problematic given her strong comments about southern Arizona. I am not saying she doesn’t like Phoenix, but the 2006 campaign material, ads, and articles in the press paint a picture inconsistent with a move to Maricopa.

For the third, I have little to say. I am not qualified to discuss re-districting and what happens after the next census, but it bodes well for Maricopa and Pinal, not Pima.

Arguments to the contrary are not only welcome, but invited.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Time Wounds Another Heel

Cementhead Idaho Senator Republican Larry Craig bought the farm today with perhaps one of the stupidest statements ever read to the public. The GOP has got to be furious about the development. Put another notch in the wall for the blue wave. If the Republicans don’t toast him before the next election, the Democrats will. He is finished. Idaho is bright red, but the GOP will lose this seat if they don’t take him out.

Add "I am not gay" (Craig, 2007) to "I am not a crook" (Nixon, 1974) to "I am no longer gay" (Haggard, 2006) to "They will, in fact, greet us as liberators" (Cheney, 2003). I could keep going.

Craig was part of the Romney campaign, "Knowing Governor Mitt Romney is knowing somebody who first and foremost has very strong family values. That's something I grew up with and believe in."

Romney tossed him in the trash at once.

The Republicans need to do the same if they want to retain the seat.

Look at Larry holding that mike.

The Beautiful, the Bad, and the Ugly

Tucson, Arizona. The University of Arizona campus is killing me. Oh, Lolita! Perhaps Lolita is struggling with her algebra and needs some help from a kind, caring math tutor. Perhaps Lolita doesn’t have enough money to pay the tutor who so much wants to help.

I’m bad.

Just kidding. If the reader has seen American Beauty, the scene near the end captures it perfectly. After months of fantasy, the reality is completely different. He can’t do it. Neither could I.

Moving to the opposite end of the spectrum, and not meaning to be cruel or insensitive to decent human beings or judgmental, but I am sorry, a couple days ago I saw what has to be the butt ugliest human being in 18 states, an ugly that defies distinction of ethnicity or gender. If this ugly enters a restaurant, the patrons take off their glasses.

Forget the fact that the body had swelled to a size that prevented walking.

The face could scare the fleas off of a dog.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Attorney General Resigns

When I saw the headline on regarding the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, next to his picture was the statement in large print, “I want to apologize.”

Apologize? No, it can’t be! Then I looked more carefully and saw that the apology was attributed to quarterback Michael Vick over the dog fighting conviction.

The attorney hanky panky started to unfold in January. By the ides of March, while I duked it out with snakes and rats, people were calling for Gonzales to resign.

I won’t say much, except to note good riddance to a pathetic disgrace to his race, his country, and his office, the spineless puppet of a puppet of malignant filth.

On another note, the lovely Lolita "Professor?" request for direction count is up to seven. If they are attracted, they are suppressing the expression of their desire.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cloth God to Visit Tucson

Tucson, Arizona. Why doesn’t it surprise me that a roach would invite a snake to Tucson to deliver distilled cloth in the pretense of doing something regarding the economic development of our community? Next month, the terrible TREO will have its annual cloth feast at the JW Starr Pass Marriott Resort & Spa. Hundreds of well-dressed, important looking people will enter the resort for a lunch of chicken and cloth speak.

Cost: Tickets are $85 for TREO investors and $100 for noninvestors. Tickets for both the private reception and luncheon are $125 for TREO investors and $150 for noninvestors. Does the information leave you with a warm fuzzy for the people paid six-figure salaries to improve our economy? Book signing? So Roach is in the business of selling books for this guy? Roach has invited Cloth God Richard Florida to speak at the resort. What Roach is to Tucson, Richard Florida is to the economic development planet, having published cloth books that inform us that economic development has nothing to do with a workforce possessing hard skills like mathematics, electronics, engineering, computer science, finance, quality systems, or human resources.

No, instead, a community must acquire artists, high "bohemians" (WTF!), gay men, and high tech workers. The first link is to Florida’s own content, not his critics. My dear readers are welcome to check it out and draw their own conclusions. When a man refers to himself as a guru, my dander goes full tilt. He reeks of snake. The second link is Wikipedia's take on the man.

Raytheon is not looking for engineers. IBM is not looking for computer scientists. What attracts and retains high paying jobs are musicians, gay male artists, and high bohemians, whatever they are. Employers are not concerned with the ability to hire the people that can do the jobs their operations require. Ironically, Roach asserts, "Labor drives all market decisions." Then why are we selling books for a guy that talks about artists and gay men? Our visiting genius has created measures including the "gay male index" to measure the "creativity" of various cities. Let’s consider a decade of job growth produced at the top ten most creative cities per the index and the job growth at the ten worst, "least creative" cities. Don't trust me. Visit the Wall Street Journal’s article for more.

Job Growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Top Ten Creative Cities 1993 – 2003: 17.5 %
Bottom Ten Creative Cities 1993 – 2003: 19.4 %
US Average: 17.3 %

Let’s do two decades:

Top Ten Creative Cities 1983 – 2003: 38.8%
Bottom Ten Creative Cities 1983 – 2003: 61.9 %
US Average: 44 %

Of hundreds of cities ranked, the top of the top in the nation underperformed the lowest of the low. They barely matched the US average and they were below the average for two decade performance. More on the snake here (extensive) and here (an article he wrote).

I appreciate art, but art follows art consumers. Why does Sante Fe have its art economic machine? Where does Wyland sell his art (most products over $15,000)? Answer: Laguna Beach. Why Laguna Beach? Consider that maybe the musicians, artists, and "high bohemians" FOLLOW the high paid workers and tourists that can PAY THEM!!

TREO funnels public money to Cincinnati’s glossy paper people KMK Consulting. How much did we pay KMK? Perhaps we will pay them to develop a marketing strategy. Let’s produce a pink streak. What do we put on the billboard in DC?

Oh, wait, maybe it’s not gay men and musicians. Let’s build a stadium. That’ll bring ‘em to town in droves and make tons of money, just like Tucson Electric Park.

Arizona is the fastest growing state in the country. Of course people and businesses are going to come here, and of course the cloth heads will take credit and gloat as it occurs. To understand reality requires comparing performance against the rest of the state. Compare their results to what is happening in Maricopa, Pinal, Cochise, Coconino.

The wages they care about are their own.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The War over the War

As we await the big report that is probably already written, MSNBC has posted a story about the declassified part of the latest National Intelligence Estimate which suggests conditions will get "more precarious" in Iraq for the next 12 months. MSNBC states: The report represents the collaborative judgments of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organization of each military service.


As we slog along through the muck bleeding our military and financial resources, frustration has now escalated to where groups on each side are starting to produce advertisements and buy air time targeting specific members of Congress. ABC has a good story about a pro-war group, Freedomswatch and provides a link to watch the ad.

If ABC is correct, we head towards a "barrage" of ads targeting specific members of Congress.

A barriage?

Members of Congress represent their constituents, and their constituents elect them. Pushing officials into positions inconsistent with the views of their voters can cost elections. If a GOP Congressman’s district has turned vehemently against the war, and he remains a staunch supporter, an astute opponent WILL destroy him with war material in every mailing, every ad, every debate. Game over.

The tactic reeks of the Bush Administration. If the GOP wants to crucify itself by forcing its members in Congress into positions that will cost them their seats, fine with me. Let them promote the blue wave. Perhaps, in December of 2008, instead of "No Child Left Behind" we can thank Bush for "No Republican Left in Congress."

I hope the groups opposed to the war realize that trying to push officials past the sentiments of those they represent commit the same mistake. If you wish to voice your views to your elected officials, write them. Call them. Every day. Drive their offices crazy. Don't put hostile ads on television.

In today’s context, I assert that 2006 was a skirmish.

I speak in political metaphor, so I am not suggesting 1860 where our military splits in two and fights itself. That said, the technology that puts us a couple clicks away from each other will escalate the volume and volatility of the discourse to unprecedented levels. The upcoming conversation will be intense.

The War over the War is heating up. The reader already knows (or will soon) that Senator John Warner, R- Virginia, has defected from the Bush Administration by calling for the reduction of troops beginning soon. Warner has served as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

We simply cannot as a nation stand and continue to put our troops at continuous risk of loss of life and limb without beginning to take some decisive action.

Senator John Warner, former chairman and 2nd ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Warner mentioned the NIE report as corroborating his position. Of course, such words from a lightweight, weak-minded know nothing GOP Senator who chaired a lightweight non-influential committee doesn’t really mean anything.

2008 IS WAR.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Generation Next

Tucson, Arizona. Early 2007 the Pew Foundation released a detailed 69 page report regarding Generation Next. For those not aware, Generation Next refers to those who grew up with personal computers, the Internet, and the cell phone. Almost 100 percent omnivore, they have a different view of reality, and they are the ones who will save (or not) the planet from the best efforts of those currently seeking to destroy it. The reader can research for further details. I present my take. The report has interesting features.

Gen Nexters are so connected via Facebook and cell phones that peer-to-peer relationships dwarf the influence of elders. They consume alcohol and illegal drugs as much as they choose and engage in casual sex per their own judgment, armed with birth control and the knowledge to prevent STD's.

Racism, gender bias, and intolerance of homosexuality are all but extinct as acceptable conversation, and their global connectedness dissolves the xenophobic outlook leading to far less concern about immigration or the presence of other ethnicities. Even with 911 and terrorism, the young group simply does not have a "keep them out" viewpoint.

Young and generally healthy, they forego health insurance and are not overly uptight about it. As they age this will change.

Regarding political impact, two forces are competing. Generation Next is far more sympathetic to Democrats than Republicans, and to the extent they get involved, it swings blue substantially. The force that detracts from this is that they tend not to be active or vote, which dramatically reduces the actual influence. However, the trend in participation is climbing over the even less involved Generation X. If Democrats tap into this group effectively, the return will dramatically exceed an equal effort exerted by the GOP.

Both religious organizations and the GOP hemorrhage credibility profusely when they bash homosexuality or evolution, promote abstinence and sexual oppression of any kind (denial of morning after pill, RU-486, birth control, abortion), or express animosity towards illegal aliens. Since who is legal and who isn't cannot easily be recognized, while at 46 I can make the distinction, to this young group immigration positions of the "they are criminals" variety occurs as racism against the Latino population. I can promise from personal experience that to Gen Nexters, seeing a peer denied access to a university education (even if they can pay) because "they don't have papers" occurs as barbaric. Their angle, "Let Maria get an education, and she'll be a good worker in the country!"

Advice to Democrats, get out the YOUNG vote, and they are ONLINE.

How many students are at the University of Arizona? They are voting age. How many can register to vote in Arizona? (Hint: a lot.) Education. Immigration. The War. Success in the global economy. Reproductive Freedom. Blue candidates should consider universities that fall in their districts.

They defy the GOP view that government is bad and defy your humble blogger's view that corporations are bad. They are fine with both government and corporations. I need to educate these folks about corporations.

They maintain effective relationships with parents, but with far greater sophistication. Parents get continued affection and relationships for a $$reason$$. Gen Nexters highly value education and expect parents and grandparents to provide substantial help, more so than any prior age group. They want higher education and want help paying for it.

In case the categories are not clear:

Generation Next: 18 to 24 years old
Generation X: 25 to 40 years old
Baby Boomers: 41 to 60 years old
Seniors: Over 60

All face different realities. Seniors and older boomers can retire with both pensions and social security. Younger boomers are seeing pensions eliminated or reduced and the trend points to zero. Generation X can forget a company honoring any pension promise (except for the most elite) and needs to build a 401(k) if they want anything. Some social security may still be around, but checks will start later and be smaller. Gen Nexters know that independent wealth by retirement age is now a requirement, because they can forget about any public assistance whatsoever beyond a poverty level pittance.

A real treatment would disaggregate by SES. The rich are fine. The poor are screwed, but this story holds for the aggregate.

In a somewhat new development, the desire to be famous has grown significantly over prior age groups. Perhaps it's the TV they watch, and they watch a lot, and the Web sites they visit. They seek fame and fortune, but fortune is the highest priority and at an unprecedented level. They enter college for the employment opportunities it will make available. Forget about this character development stuff unless its leads to money. They want the best jobs and select majors increasingly with this objective. They use the Internet to learn about colleges and majors and consider at unprecedented levels the employment prospects associated with their choices. Once employed, they will show their employers the same loyalty their employers provide them:


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Lovely Lolita

Tucson, Arizona. I read Nabokov as as undergrad. The University of Arizona started classes yesterday. Your humble blogger is overwhelmed by the grace of thousands and thousands of gorgeous young women aged 18 to 22 wearing shorts, strapless revealing dresses, mini-skirts, and flip flops. They are everywhere except my office.

Today, a particularly stunning beauty sees me and smiles. She approaches me, and I get all excited. She says, "Dr. Professor, sir, can you point me to the Psychology building?"

Oh, my lovely Lolita, let's forget about the Psychology building and go see the nice professor's house.

Well, not too discouraged, I happily hoofed over to my only course, Econometrics 518, eager to meet some co-eds a little closer to my age, and, well, the class was not a representative sample of the university's student body. India and China provided eleven of the fifteen in the class. The two women were Chinese. The professor, serious economist/statistician, starts writing all of these equations on the board.

I smiled and got all enthusiastic. When he started writing Greek letters (epsilon, delta, beta, theta) I almost made an audible sound. When I realized that my reaction to Greek letters on a school board was that of excitement, the daughter's remarks truly hit home, "You're such a geek, daddy."

Mending Mutilated Minds

Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" Vanity asks the question, "Is it popular?" But, conscience asks the question, "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Terrorists have ambitions of empire," says Cheney. The irony was exquisite, if lost.
John Pilger

The United States currently has close to 162,000 (give or take a thousand) troops in Iraq and some 30,000 or so in Afghanistan. The number killed in Iraq now tops 3,700 and the number physically injured exceeds 30,000 or will very soon. Some have noticed that many returning from combat show no physical wounds, but they have sustained damage in many cases worse than the loss of an eye, a hand, or even a leg.

The mind can sustain injury every bit as much as the physical body. Unfortunately such terrain remains far less understood. Without getting into too long a post, let’s say that when the mind is confronted with material that crosses a line, injury occurs. We forget the jerk that cut us off in traffic, but as we ramp up the trauma, the ability to forget plummets. Past a certain point, the experience inflicts real damage. Easy to understand examples include rape, divorce, molestation, violence, betrayal, loss of loved ones (especially children) and others.

Our machinery hardwires concern for children, humanity’s future. Suffering and violence involving children produces high octane damage. You cannot process a six-year old girl walking up to your comrade and detonating a grenade, killing herself and your friend. Don’t argue. YOU CAN’T.

Skipping whether it is unconscionable to stretch our heroes in uniform to the breaking point, what is clearly unconscionable beyond all argument is our ineffective response to the psychological carnage we are both unwilling and unable to effectively address until we educate our military leadership in mental illness and the wounds our soldiers are sustaining. They are learning, but slowly. The VA Site lists some respectable details of the problem but the reality on the street of getting real treatment to real casualties is appalling. Go surf the PILOTS material and you can find lip service, but what care is really delivered?

Do you know what is happening to children in Iraq? Our soldiers do. Our soldiers have found it necessary to shoot kids. Process that. If you think you can, one of two statements is true: 1) you’re an idiot, or 2) you have no soul.

Our thinking machinery and our emotional machinery are intimately related, but just like a marriage, they are not the same entities. Damage and PTSD result when the emotional center is wounded beyond what the thinking center can process. The individual desperately tries to talk to itself, justify, explain, contextualize, rationalize, and the emotional center shakes its head, "I was there, idiot. I know what I saw. F*** off."

The traumatic memory draws psychic blood and tortures the soul. The damaged seek relief through medication, alcohol, or worse, and when the bleeding crosses a threshold, they commit suicide. Seen any recent press about suicide rates among serving or returning soldiers? Google it.

In theory, we can say the words. In practice, we are failing miserably to provide our mentally crippled veterans access to treatment that works. Because it was first distinguished using eye movement, the most advanced and effective treatment is called EMDR but it is not about the eyes. Francine Shapiro initially worked on rape victims with eye movements. The more advanced method uses hand held devices that alternate vibrations in a way that opens a gateway between right and left brain. Whether one is left brained or right brained (opposite of the hand you use), EMDR opens the gateway. With the gateway opened, a person can address past trauma and reprocess it in a way that stops the bleeding, allowing the most terrible experiences to be digested and classified in a way that alleviates the pathology. It does not erase the experience or the scar, but it stops the bleeding.

Anyone reading this is encouraged to learn more about EMDR and advocate it be made available to returning soldiers. It is not expensive or difficult, and it works. Those who understand the reality of mental health and care should advocate educating our military about the reality of PTSD and the existence of effective procedures for treating it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Junkies on Junk

The average person in the United States watches 28 hours of television per week. That is FOUR hours EVERY day. I wonder if that has anything to do with why the United States ranks 18th in mathematical literacy.

I assert it's good we rank rather low on the per capita Jehovah’s Witness list. I was not aware that such a ranking existed and will not attempt to interpret the semantics. I await the ranking of nations on per capita miniature chihuahuas to launch my analytical acumen.

So what are we watching for four solid hours every day? Ranked by number of viewers:

1. America’s Got Talent (10.8 million) stupidity
2. 60 Minutes (10.2 million) crime
3. CSI (9.8 million) crime
4. Without a Trace (9.2 million) crime
5. Singing Bee (9.1 million) stupidity
6. Two and a Half Men (9.0 million) stupidity
7. Hell’s Kitchen (8.9 million) stupidity
8. Criminal Minds (8.7 million) crime
9. CSI NY (8.5 million) crime
10. Dateline NBC (7.9 million) crime and stupidity combined

But wait, the shows all feature 15 to 20 percent of their content with advertisements that are selling what? Pharmaceutical companies have increased marketing expenditures from $11 billion (yes, billion) in 1997 to over $30 billion last year.

I like the ad that shows people having eaten greasy, horrible food, but not to worry, that’s what Tums are for, so go ahead, eat whatever you want. Pepcid, a pill that starts working ahead of time, allows one to plan to eat horrible food. Horrible food over time might damage your esophagus, a serious medical condition, so perhaps you need the purple pill, which has been shown to heal wounded esophagi.

And here’s to men! That is, men who don’t like to pee too often. There’s also a pill for women who pee too much, but that’s not due to an enlarged prostrate, so they take a different pill. Then, of course, even though one is eating correctly, because of Uncle Earnie, one’s cholesterol might be too high and require a daily statin. Better check that blood pressure.

Prescription Drug expenditures:
1990: $40 billion
1995: $61 billion
2001: $141 billion
2005: $207 billion

In other words, in 2006 the industry spent almost as much marketing drugs as the entire country spent on drugs in 1990. Now, men who have high cholesterol and blood pressure may also have other issues, but not to be alarmed, Cialis gives a guy 36 hours to woo his mate in case the kids interrupt a romantic escalation. If afterwards one finds it difficult to fall asleep, see your doctor to determine if Ambien is right for you. Dreams missing you? Try Rozerum and boost receptivity to melatonin. Do not take Rozerum with melatonin unless you know what it means.

While we eat garbage and park our fat butts in front of the tube, some of us might notice that our legs start to itch. See your doctor to determine if you have "restless leg syndrome." Yeah, we have a pill for that. My suggestion would be to put on some running shoes and jog that fat butt ten or twelve miles. I can promise that after heaving that massive arse all over town, one’s legs won’t be restless.

The most prescribed medications, even more than the statins, which almost everyone takes, are anti-depressants. We’re all depressed. How can you not be depressed if all you do is eat garbage, have heartburn, can’t have sex or sleep, pee too much, and park your butt to watch hours of crime and stupidity while you scratch your itchy legs?

At least we’ve outlawed marijuana and resolved that dangerous substance abuse issue.

At least none of us are so completely drugged up and out of it that while text messaging we walk in front of an oncoming train. Oh, wait.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Food Folly

Those interested in farming and agriculture know that a few weeks ago (July 27) the House passed HR 2419, known by most as the "Farm Bill." The following report says a lot and the USDA Web page on the bill has even more.

My brilliant friend Thalia has done some research and written a concise paper on the subject.

Thalia is a for real mathematician.

Such people are not verbose. At only a page and a half, she's produced solid work well worth the reader's time. She wrote it before the passage of HR 2419, so the paper discusses the issue, not the bill specifics.

I encourage the reader to take a look.

The issue ties to my rants about the nation's drift towards a corporate welfare state that diverts taxpayer dollars to mega-companies making record profits.

The agriculture issue exceeds my budget, but the executive summary discussion points to taxpayer subsidization of industries to inflate profits at public expense. The situation has become appalling. The only reason the general public is not foaming at the mouth in seething rage is that they don't know.

Republicans have climbed into bed with corporations to produce a "cost externalizing" racket that basically works like this: Not only will we cut your taxes, we will pass legislation that picks up the costs of your operations and allows you to keep the additional profits. For example, take some buses into Mexico, pick up a bunch of folks living in squalor, drive them to Omaha, and dump them at the homeless shelter. Hire them for almost nothing and let the taxpayers handle their medical issues, housing, and any other mess. Examples abound.

The theme involves companies migrating west to non-unionized, economically weak communities and blackmailing them for tax cuts and special breaks for moving there. In some of the ranching and meat-packing operations the public subsidy for each worker can top $20,000 per year. We, the public, pay their wages. We, the public, handle the external costs. The company keeps the profits. Get it? It's a racket.

Thalia noted that Jane Goodall's "every purchase is a vote" argument that the consumer can modify the situation by buying organic is horse puckey. I can go to Wild Oats and buy organic apples until the cows come home. Any effective solution will have to come from the political arena where sound discussion distinguishes the truth and creates the warranted outrage.

The goods news is that slowly some people are noticing. Eric Schlosser's fantastic Fast Food Nation is a MUST READ. Those upgrading to video are encouraged to check out University Channel for intelligent discussion of the subject at a Princeton University conference.

From agriculture to pharmaceuticals to energy to finance, Lord Cheney and his puppet party have become the servants of the wealthiest one percent and have implemented policies that exacerbate the growing gap between rich and poor. The gap ultimately threatens the existence of democracy. How ironic that the party started by perhaps the greatest American president who saved this nation in the 1860's, is now working to destroy it in the 21st century. The scorpions are stinging the frog.

We know what happened to the person who said, "Let them eat cake."

Lipstick on a Pig

I recently discovered Robert Stein's blog that articulates better than I could the bankruptcy of Rove's machinery and moral ruin. Let's face it, Rove and Joseph Goebbels are the same. They think the same, taste the same, and feel the same lack of regard for the blood they shed.

Karl Rove and Joseph Goebbels are the same person. They are identical sub-human demons that exist to forward malignant, brutal, unrestrained exploitation of a population to forward the most evil of ends.

The mission of the GOP is clear. Enslave the masses at slave wages to pad the pockets of the millionaire elite. Screw the poor for every possible penny that can be squeezed. If a single red cent is left in their pockets, the carnage is not complete.

Lord Cheney and his loyal subjects should own everything. The rest of us get NOTHING, own nothing, and live under the rule of the Cheney empire with no property and no assets, utter slaves to the system.

OF COURSE the above rant is hyper-rhetoric and exaggerates.

The question is how much it exaggerates.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Most Influential Ranking

(California Institute of Technology) Tucson, Arizona. No offense to the guys at Blognetnews (who appear to be more right wing than they let on), but I doubt their ranking of blogs will alter any landscapes of significance in the near future.

Another ranking, however, has a profound impact at least in the world of higher education. The 2008 US News and World Report college rankings were published yesterday with few surprises. Listing the top 40, and this applies to the four-year undergraduate context and excludes single sex schools (i.e. Smith, Scripps) and the military academies.

1. Princeton
Debbie (one year older than Lori) was the class queen by every measure. Bright, blond, beautiful, cheerful and popular as a person could be, Debbie emanated enthusiasm and love of life. Smart but not too smart, she spread her wings across student government, cheerleading, numerous clubs, and community stature based on well known parents and a very popular and successful older brother who quarterbacked the football team. Everyone loved Debbie. I imagine everyone still does. Like some women, she attained extraordinary academic credentials, but deferred them to a more ambitious husband. Her Princeton education adds to the sophistication of her children. Happiness radiates.

2. Harvard
Perhaps even more popular than Debbie, loved by everyone, Lori occurred to me as a "deeper" Debbie. Smarter but also not wacko smart, Lori had more substance and commanded more respect. She traveled to Boston to meet Harvard face-to-face. Harvard did not have to think twice. Debbie was blond and tall. Lori was shorter and brunette, but she radiated a beauty and warmth that transcended the physical and provided inspiration to all who knew her. President of her class and the prom queen, Lori’s presence created a magnet that attracted everyone, an authentically fantastic human being.

I had the honor of interacting with her one-on-one. I loved Lori as a marvelous human being on the planet. Nature can be cruel. Cancer struck Lori at 17 and took a kidney. Cancer struck again and took everything at 32. I sobbed. If there is an afterlife, a beyond where I get to approach Lori again, the feeling of her embrace defies what language can express.

3. Yale
Scott reeked of SES and played the game like a well coached golfer, hitting every shot just perfect, winning recognition and scholarships despite the generally understood but unspoken recognition that his intellect paled in comparison to the truly sharp. Though no idiot, he was not intellectually impressive. I have no idea what he is doing, but I am sure Scott is just fine.

4. Stanford
My wonderful and only child Nadina now enters her sophomore year. The school is doing its job. I visited Stanford the spring of 2007 and found myself in x4mr heaven. I am a proud daddy who cherishes his child more than anything and beams at the growth of his precious little girl occurring before his eyes.

5. University of Pennsylvania
Susan, near-sighted with coke bottle eyeglasses, was my first homecoming date. A gifted student with a love of mathematics and in particular, art and its application in architecture, Susan pursued architecture with a heart on fire. When she visited Chicago to tour all of its buildings including the Sears Tower, Hancock building, and many others, I let her and her classmate stay with me at Northwestern. We’ve lost touch, but I’d bet the buildings bearing her name are spectacular.

(The University of Pennsylvania's Contemporary Art Center features cutting edge material.)

6. California Institute of Technology
Andy was a tortured genius particularly excruciated by his insatiable sexuality. His math skills exceeded mine and rivaled Mike’s (Mike was the smartest in the class and only Andy could get near him). Andy faced demons that could rival his extraordinary intellect. He chose a gay lifestyle in the mid 80s and perished of AIDS before reaching 35.

7. MIT
Distilled overweight geek with a pure teddy bear heart that could not harm a soul, Craig featured the pocket protector equipped with geek accessories and the calculator clipped at the belt. Craig chose computer science and rumors are that he interviewed with NSA. Curiously, Craig disappeared. More curiously, his family also moved away. No one knows a thing.

8. Duke
Pete’s parents were ridiculously rich and Dad had gone to Duke. Duke got full tuition from Pete. I have no clue what happened, but given the resources of his parents, I am confident Pete found a position and sweetie to take care of him and provide some puppies.

9. Columbia
Smart and slightly geeky with long legs that gave her a killer quarter mile, Jodi got her degree from Columbia and tossed it to become pure soccer mom with the van and the four kids popped out in just over five years to a successful Columbia dad. Jodi went to college to score a husband and scored well. He makes a mint and she happily does the kids. Jodi actually called me about attending the 25 year reunion. She sounded very content and confident, fond of her children and her role in raising them.

10. University of Chicago
Dean was different, and I mean different. No conformity here. Dean took my heartthrob Donna skydiving without telling her in advance what they were going to do. Dean read Schopenhauer during lunch. Dean was probably the most brilliant individual in the building, but he had a C average. No one, and I mean no one, understood Dean. He got a 1600 on his SAT and submitted an application to the University of Chicago that worked despite his pathetic GPA. Apparently he included some unsolicited essays with his application that resulted in a phone conversation with Chicago.

Even though I was only 45 minutes to his north, we never connected. I read about his death in the paper. He walked into the emergency room of a south side Chicago hospital. A typed, signed and notorized letter was stapled with a staple gun to his chest under his shirt reading, "Take the eyes, ears, nose and throat. Take the kidneys, the liver, the heart, the lungs. Take the feet, the hands, the knees, the ankles. Burn the brain. Burn it to ashes and scatter them." Right in the middle of the emergency room, Dean put a 357 magnum into his mouth pointed upward and blew his brains against the window behind him. Your humble blogger considers it safe to conclude that Dean knew dark. What sticks most in my mind is the notary public.

11. Dartmouth
My soul mate attended Dartmouth. Thalia, the woman I wanted to marry, dumped me for a philosopher at Chapel Hill (#28).

12. Washington University
David was really screwed up in a way I am not going to even try to describe. No one will ever really know what went on between those ears. Skipping to the punch line, in his parents garage he soaked a sleeping bag in gasoline, climbed in, and set it on fire. He did not die that night. He died six months later. I will always wonder what David thought about during those six months.

13. Cornell

14. Brown

14. Northwestern
Your humble blogger’s alma mater and also that of Stephen Colbert.

14. Johns Hopkins
Paul was a nice guy completely dominated by a mother that, well, dominated. We’re talking about a kid so smothered by mommy that she probably chose his courses, his clothing, his athletics, his wife, and his career. Mom told him to become a doctor so he did. What he really wanted to do is irrelevant. Per mom’s edict he became an eagle scout, did something for a church, took easier classes instead of AP to maximize his GPA and went to the school mommy specified, whatever. An emasculated mommy toy without a pair is painful to watch.

17. Rice
Rice University is one of the few with the backbone to tell the Greek nonsense to take a hike. There are no fraternities or sororities at Rice. There are certain things Texas I can get. Rice is underrated. Check out its endowment/student ratio.

17. Emory
19. Vanderbilt
My high school sweetheart, the first woman I thought I would marry, dumped me for landscape architect. I didn’t even know landscaping was taught at universities. One can actually write a dissertation about shrubs?

20. Notre Dame
21. UC – Berkeley
Heaven on Earth second only to Stanford. Could you imagine being eighteen, the world before you, sharing a house with six or eight other students in Berkeley and riding your bike onto campus each day? Everyone is smart and there are no Republicans.

22. Carnegie Mellon
23. University of Virginia
Lonnie, an intelligent and wonderful African American woman who could DANCE, inspired many and took the stage before us to express her talents in dance, speech, and leadership. She was a remarkable human being and her fate haunts me to this day. During the summer before her senior year, she was raped, stabbed repeatedly with a screwdriver, and beaten to death over the head with a brick. The killer then threw her body down a well. Not a week goes by that I don’t think about Lonnie. Authorities found the body and the killer. He remains in prison.

24. Georgetown
25. UCLA
Mark was one of the most gifted individuals I have ever met in the overall category. Built like a fortress with a brain to match, his value on the football field attracted just about every college in the country. On a regular basis I served Mark at the Montgomery Inn where I worked as a busboy. College recruiters wooed Mark with great dinners. I got to clean the table when it was over. Mark sailed through school with an athletic free ride and then started his own business in Florida, making a fortune. Good for him.

26. UM – Ann Arbor
27. USC
28. UNC – Chapel Hill
An asshole martini soaked philosopher stole my soul mate. May the entire philosophy department at Chapel Hill be struck with West Nile Virus depriving them forever of the ability to phenomenonologically epistemate any reality whatsoever.

29. Tufts
I don’t recall the name of the guy that went to Tufts. He was smart but stayed a little below the radar, not an ego in search of limelight. Last I heard, he was worth double digit millions and owned things like Borders, half of some airline, and a dozen restaurants on both east and west coasts that serve phenomenal seafood. He dines regularly with the elected officials who favor his establishments.

30. Wake Forest
Audrey went to Wake Forest. She loved it and met a man. They are happy, wealthy, with great kids, a great life, no worries, and work for employers that stay in business, treat them well, and don’t lay them off. I don’t understand.

31. Lehigh
Louis attended Lehigh. I heard he formed his own company doing something incredibly simple (cleaning carpet, spraying for bugs) and made a fortune.

32. Brandeis
33. William and Mary
34. NYU
The most beautiful actress girlfriend in the world put my young and virile body into orbit. Then she started sleeping with her director. The loss was painful, but I would repeat the experience at every opportunity.

35. Rochester
36. Georgia Institute of Technology
37. Boston College
Kathleen. Catholic Kathleen to the chagrin of many. We got into a huge fight about Christianity (back in my more opinionated days. I don't have too many opinions anymore (!!!!)). I called her an idiot. She did not care for the remark.

38. UW Madison
Oh, Donna. I was Hank and she was Dagny. I was hers for the taking but she married some goon she thought was Galt who became violent and beat her. The devastating divorce delivered her into the arms of Johnny, Jack and a smooth-talking velvet of the black variety. Oh, Donna.

39. UC San Diego
My genius friend Mike, second only to Thalia in mathematical acumen, tried the corporate world after earning PhD’s in both chemistry and chemical engineering. The man is a walking brain. He personally improved the energizer battery and made Duracell nervous. Corporate politics turned him into a chemistry professor at a university in the mid-west. I can relate.

40. UI Champagne Urbana

The University of Arizona ranked 96 and Arizona State University (surprising me) came in at 124.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Poll Semantics, Dark Journies, and Reality

Tucson, Arizona. The press is releasing various political polls showing what everyone already knows, which is that people are upset, frustrated, and angry at levels from mild irritation to foaming at the mouth. Bush’s approval rating stinks and for good reason. Poll PDF.

We also have polls supporting my assertion that Hillary will face Giuliani.

Granted, we have a long way to go and much could occur to alter the situation. Hillary is also placing online Web 2.0 ads at various news sites.

As a poll moves from assessing an individual to assessing a group, the semantics blur. Numbers for the White House are the easiest to interpret. In general, the country disapproves of the fiasco this administration has created. For the Supreme Court, the drop in approval probably reflects its shift to the right of public sentiment, and I would speculate the public is concerned about the right to choose, and the savvy also worry about the need for progress on the right to die. In both areas, empowering the individual and loved ones to make the decision is progress. Those who stand in the way just baffle me.

Regarding Congress, your humble blogger does not see how anyone can disaggregate overall disapproval of Congress, even when language calls it the "Democratic Congress" to a single election in a single district. Perhaps if the number were low enough, incumbents have cause for alarm, but which incumbents? Perhaps one could forward an argument that incumbents perceived as "status quo" have a problem. Well, who is that? Arizona freshmen?

My radar points to a faucet metaphor. The disastrous 2000 election turned on a faucet that has spewed forth a holocaust at the hands of Lord Cheney and Darth Rove utterly unchecked and given free reign by a GOP majority in Congress. The 2006 election was a national cry: Turn it off!! Turn it off!!

My interpretation of the frustration with Congress comes from its inability to do so as quickly as desired. For the red to interpret frustration with the blue as a good thing could not be more mistaken. Mr. Red, consider that the public wants you dead. Consider that the drop in approval of Congress comes from frustration with its inability to slit your throat.

Impeaching BOTH Bush and Cheney to put Pelosi in the White House just can’t fly. Be reasonable. What is viable is turning the faucet down and starting investigations to hold the responsible to account. Congress has done this.

Only after a blue wave in 2008 can we look at how to turn the faucet off, and even then, it is going to be difficult, complicated, and time consuming. In case some aren’t following, I am talking about Iraq, Afghanistan, China, health care, global warming, poverty, China, campaign finance reform, immigration, China, globalization, North Korea, the deficit, China, social security, Iran, lobbying reform and corruption, China, corporate welfare, energy, separation of church and state, China, education, transportation and economic infrastructure, the impending mortgage crisis, China. Did I forget Al Queda?

See the news today on mortgage companies? Tipadaberg.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blognetnews AZ Blog Influence Ranking

Quite by accident I found myself at a Blognetnews ranking of Arizona political blogs "by influence." Now, I like the idea of such analysis and can appreciate keeping the algorithm unknown so it cannot be manipulated.

Let’s cut into the components we can safely correlate with the general concept of "influence."

First, traffic. How many people visit the blog how often? No traffic, no influence. Six figure hits a day, and we have influence. After learning traffic, the next cut is the nature of the visitors. Who visits? Elected officials? Local press? National press? A hit from a gamer in China doing a google search on "stupid gun" is not the same as a hit from a member of Congress. Is the blog read every day by reporters looking for stories?

Without visitor information, ranking is severely handicapped. Still, what makes a gifted statistician is not the person who gleans truth from all data desired, but from gleaning truth from imperfect, incomplete data. Lacking access to the platinum of traffic data, they still may have access to some gold and silver. Clearly they can count comments and number of individuals submitting them. While the correlation is without doubt positive, knowing its import is highly problematic with tremendous variation across content type. Vitriolic content on either fringe that solicits a fat thread of condemnation provides a juicy metric, but obviously the event influenced no one and nothing.

They can also research to the best of their ability the number of sites linking to a particular blog as well as the results of various google searches. Again we confront quantity versus quality. Some guy in Iran, based on a story months ago, links to my blog. I doubt the ranking takes this link into account (correctly!) as a factor in the blog’s political influence. However, do they know that CNN provided a link to this blog (I promise) at its main story on the resignation of Karl Rove?

All link are not created equal. I didn’t know about the CNN link until I looked at my traffic and saw people coming from CNN. I went to CNN’s piece about Rove, and my eyes almost left their sockets when I saw "Sustainability, Equity, Development" and a link to my "Switching Roles" story right there on a major page.

I like the concept of what Blognetnews is doing and hope they continue. They do, however, at least in Arizona, need to address their methodology. First of all, whatever they are doing slants the results to the right. Even among the right, sorry Thinkright, there is NO WAY your blog carries the weight of Sonoran Alliance or Espresso Pundit. You may have a swell blog, but it is not the most influential political blog in the state of Arizona.

I consider the omission of Tedski’s RumRomanismRebellion, which generates extraordinary traffic, extraordinary commentary, and substantial discussion in the brick and mortar world to cement the assertion that something is off. The algorithm is flawed until it captures Tedski as a blogosphere force in Arizona.

Finally, the ranking seems slanted south beyond what is credible. Sure, Stacy’s in Maricopa, but look at the predominance of southern AZ blogs. They don’t know how to blog in Phoenix? Also, and very fatal, is that the comment counts, at least at my place, are incorrect. At the Stupid Googling story, 16 comments were submitted. They only show one. If the facts are not accurate, credibility is history.

I like what they are doing, but they need to correct some flaws.

Anyone reading this story is most welcome to shed further light.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cheney, Hastert, Delay, & Corporations

The telekinesis image had me in stitches for several minutes. Those paying attention know that a 1994 video of Lord Cheney is making huge news at the moment because everything he says in 94 is spot on accurate of jaw drop proportions. He asserts that heading into Iraq would produce a quagmire and that after toppling Saddam Hussein the country would likely split into factions mentioning the Kurd situation as well as others. The reader can visit sites of choice to verify that the Republican spin back is that Cheney spoke in a pre-911 context and of course the Democratic response is the CORRECT observation that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 911. Last I checked our Lord still thinks that Iraq has/had WMD’s and that Iraq was linked to terrorism and Al Queda.

It is now.

(Dennis Hastert) While Cheney continues, as posted yesterday, Karl Rove is resigning and quickly, effective in two weeks. Resigning but less quickly is former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who will apparently announce this Friday that he is not running for office in 2008, but CNN is already reporting the retirement. In light of recent controversies and scandals (see link to his name), the resignation is not surprising. Hastert played key roles in all sorts of Delay, Abramoff, and Blunt hanky panky.

Then we have our master of integrity Tom Delay’s remarks yesterday at a CNN interview:

That’s the strategy of the Democrats, this whole criminalization of politics. That’s the new level of politics now that the Democrats have exhibited. They can’t beat you at the ballot box so they try to beat you in the jury box. They have no ideas and no agenda so they try to destroy you and put you in jail.
Tom Delay, August 14, 2007

The Democrats are criminalizing politics.

Unbelievable. Commit blatant campaign finance law violations. Commit perjury before Congressional committees. Ignore Congressional subpoenas. Fly to exotic resorts for drinks, women, food and other goodies at lobbyist expense in exchange for passing laws the lobbyists have written. Pass subsidies for corporations making record profits. Intimidate scientists and academics to politicize, alter, or suppress research findings. Make back room, secret no-bid billion dollar contracts for corporations run by friends. Suspend habeas corpus and the Fourth Amendment. Refuse to submit legally required reports and claim "Executive Privilege" to eliminate all possibility of any oversight and operate in total secrecy.

The innocent are not afraid of the light.

The Democrats are criminalizing politics. If that is what holding these vermin to account and prosecuting them for the crimes they have committed, place me in the cheerleader column. These crooks must be held to account or we set a horrible precedent. I want the most ruthless investigator ever born shoved so far up Cheney they share food when he eats.

When we find evidence of all that money stolen, WE SEIZE IT.

Want to really swing out? Imagine calling the CEO's of the top oil companies together before Congress (as we did with tobacco) and suggesting we nationalize the entire industry and seize all corporate assets including stock held by the stockholders. That won't happen, but imagine expanding the conversation. I only write it to make a point. Break outside of the box.

My finance mentor, Craig Steinke, Controller of Magma Metals, generated hundreds of millions of dollars for Magma by negotiating lower electricity rates. He thought outside the box, threatening Magma would build its own power plant. We knew we would never build the plant, but we drafted plans, solicited consultants and drafted estimates. We showed APS the math. They caved.

Our corporations are running amok, and in this area our politicians are pussies. I am not saying the answer is easy. TEP will not cut my rate if I threaten to buy a generator or install solar panels. I am too small. Congress does not have this problem. Congress is far beyond Magma. It has extraordinary leverage if it can reach consensus. A corporation serves itself, i.e. its board, its top executives, and its stockholders. It does not serve its employees, and it has loyalty to no nation.

Corporations and Government

In high school I wrote a novel Donovan One about a computer company that grew so large and powerful it became a nation transcending nations, having its own security, health care, education, and housing for employees. Led by Mark Donovan, a genius of a new order due to a genetic accident involving a solar flare shorly after his conception. Donovan discovered a new physics based on a new paradigm that emphasized pattern relationships more than structure relations. He stayed out of the academic community and instead went into business. Using this technology, the international Donovan Enterprises grew so powerful it started leveraging its relationship with nations on its own terms.

When the United States tried to reel Donovan in, it was too late. Always ahead of everyone, by this time, Donovan Security Forces possessed secret weapons far beyond the US military. The novel ends with the entire world coming to Donovan pleading to solve the world's problems. World hunger? Unrest in Africa? Clashes between Isreal and its neighbors? Poverty? Crime? Education? Donovan turns to Security Director Tom Ratajack, "Why are they turning to us? These matters belong to the UN and governments."

Ratajack replies, "You're the one who can."

The novel is not dark, written in the context of Ayn Rand where competence and benevolence are linked. Donovan, the competent hero, prevails over the inept bickering idiots. I was right wing as hell when I wrote that book.

Keep in mind it was 1978 with a seventeen-year-old author influenced by Atlas Shrugged. I fully foresaw the GUI and nested windows with icons, but not the mouse. My foresight navigated icons entirely by keyboard. I still question whether the properly engineered keyboard would surpass the productivity of a mouse.

The relationship between government and corporations forms yet one more challenge we face. Government can relax in a certain respect. There is no Mark Donovan, and corporations can be counted on to operate with complete selfishness and tactics alarming the population to call for governmental oversight. If we let companies run the world, Democracy is doomed.

What the novel does introduce is the notion of a brilliant and benevolent corporation operating with the full systemic awareness of the whole with managerial precision and efficiency, growing to serve millions of employees exponentially and across the globe. At some point, such an entity becomes what we have not seen before.

At its peak, General Motors presented the kindergarten of the concept. Toyota might be first grade, and Microsoft, possessing its own knowledge, might be second grade. I doubt any company will leave elementary school.

The PhD of Mark Donovan's Empire will remain unread fiction, but it points to issues that are anything but fiction.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Switching Roles

Karl Rove, considered by some to have as much influence as Lord Cheney, resigned today, stepping down at the end of the month. Obviously the news is all over it. The reader can peruse the articles at CNN, MSNBC, CBS, but I like ABC that notes the Texas Bush's Brain reputation and Rove's "I'm Moby Dick" statement, which I find intriguing given a recent story of mine.

We are talking about a guy who refused to comply with the Judiciary Committee's subpoena. In addition to the standard line about tending to his family, he said, "I need to make some money."

Excuse me?

The criminal needs to go to prison. Last I checked, our federal prisons don't charge rent. I'm pretty sure the food is free. Overweight white Republicans are prison candy. Let's provide Karl an opportunity to switch roles.

What those paying attention know is that the Rove resignation is the latest of a list of many including Harriet Miers, Andrew Card, Dan Bartlett, and Karen Hughes. So what does this really mean? The reader can search the press which has no shortage of material and angles. Here's the Note's take on the impact on the election, and it offers some other interesting links.

The White House wants to avoid the "lame duck image." Well, W, idiot, said the following in front of everybody, "Karl Rove is moving on down the road. I'll be on the road behind you here in a little bit."


Does the reader get the significance of this slip? I promise that I have been trained in a certain art. The words speak worlds.

Bush wants out.

Oh, uggh. I have been there. Readers of Something Else know that in November of 2006 I found myself cut in half and a dead man walking. Most likely, Bush wants out even more than we want him out, and I speak from experience when I say the experience is horrible. After TREO assassinated me, I only had to walk among the living dead for six months. Bush has SEVENTEEN more to go. The whole country is groaning. Hatred for Cheney escalates as Bush looks increasingly impotent, exposed as the puppet he is. Republicans squirm on the implications for their own seats. News of disintegration and disarray escalate on every front.

My bottom line for the god awful atrocity that is going to cost this country dearly, dearly, dearly, is that we allowed ourselves to elect an executive branch focused solely on building political power for a single individual without the slightest regard for serving the country. Rove shifted the agenda to political power for the White House and the White House alone, and every agency, every department, every organization, even scientific research, faced pressure to shift to that mission.

The GOP Congress, if awake, should be panicking. Watergate was five guys breaking into a room. Iraq is a trillion dollar escalating bloody disaster butchering children as other financial disasters brew and Afghanistan disintegrates along with our own domestic infrastructure. If the Democrats nominate a can of spam for President, spam will take the White House in 2008.

Through Rove and Cheney, we elected leadership that served itself and its best supporters, not the nation. They violated a most sacred bond between the governing and the governed. The word is betrayal. At the national level, the word is treason. They are indeed criminals. They will probably not go to prison, but prison they deserve.

If we are to survive, our leadership must serve this nation, not its own political power. Time wounds all heals. Ultimately, the four steps forward respond to the three steps back. It is slow and painful, but we progress.

The time has come for our political science experts and intellectuals to craft publications powerfully distinguishing what Rove has painfully illustrated. We win if the conversation produces meaningful election and campaign finance reform that provides relief for candidates truly committed to serving this nation and creates barriers for those seeking office to serve their own interests.

Democratic leadership must craft strategies for an MO while Bush walks dead and stymies progress and prepare for the post 2008 election when they gain the steering wheel and must immediately address the mess.

Blue money will dwarf red. Use it wisely to protect all blue freshman as cost effectively as possible and target all low hanging red fruit (Renzi).

The walking dead are zombies incapable of much. I have been one. The blue need to grow teeth, bite and bite hard. Draw blood. KILL. (The reader does get I mean politically.) We need to teach our political parties that if they nominate Lord wannabees that think this country exists to serve them, they will be crucified.

The time has come to switch roles regarding who serves whom.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Return of the Cloth

(Portland). Tucson, Arizona. Well, the terrible TREO of Roach, Major, and Mouch have returned from the vacation to Portland to talk about economic development in the Old Pueblo and the creation of high wage jobs in town. Sam Negri of the Star has the first article about the trip. You want to hear pure, distilled cloth?

I quote Roach directly from the article, "Portland does a really good job of planning and recognizing that you need multiple pieces working together to make the whole place work."

For this we pay the guy $150,000+.

Quoting Tucson City Planning Director Albert Elias, "The part that's missing in Tucson is the confidence and trust that, as a community, a diverse group of leaders can get together to solve anything. But I'm confident we can do it and will do it because the stakes (of inaction) are getting higher."

Negri mentions Council Member Shirley Scott's observation that Tucson residents tend to come together to complain rather than build. Elias said local frustration is reaching a tipping point.

Oh really? I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that when someone works hard to actually do something real they get their throat cut?

I think Roach is doing a swell job. After all, Lucky Wishbone is building two new restaurants in town "from the ground up."

Now that's economic development.

Bridge for Sale - Collapse II

Tucson, Arizona. Anyone driving around Tucson can see the proliferation of "Payday Loan" sharks getting rich on the backs of the poor. Lotteries across the country, which have sales exceeding $50 billion (yes, billion). Who buys these tickets? Your humble blogger is a dissertation shy of a PhD in mathematics whose specialty was probability theory. How much do you think I have spent on lottery tickets?

Payday loan sharks screw the unsophisticated. The lotteries screw the unsophisticated. But wait, there's more. For just $4.99 a day, you can RENT TO OWN this fabulous television, and for only an additional $9.99 a day, a nice leather sofa to sit in while you watch. Got financial woes? Head to the local pawn shop where they'll pay you top dollar for your goodies.

We'll skip what for-profit education institutions do to gullible students.

More problematic and a headache on the way involves the mortgage industry practice of teaser rates and second mortgages up to 125 percent of the appraised property value. Check out and look at the banner reading $300,000 for $719/month at 5.5 percent. The astute will grab the computational aid of choice and instantly realize that a 30-year loan at 5.5 percent for $300 grand has a P&I of $1700, not $719. For the years the teaser rate applies, the loan balance spirals upward at the unmet interest applied, in the above case about $700 a month.

A bunch of folks have bought a bridge (mortgage) about to collapse when the fictitious $719 becomes two grand. The reader can google around, but the punch line is that the mortgage industry fattened up on a lot of nonsense that shouldn't even be legal.

The page requires registration so I will reference the source and quote directly. From Steven Pearlstein's 8/11/2007 piece at The Washington Post:

In a matter of months, the number of mortgage loans in arrears has gone from historic lows to near historic highs, with the worst yet to come as teaser rates are reset.

This is a financial, economic and political time bomb that is likely to force families out of their homes; dump millions of houses and condos onto an already glutted market; and result in massive losses for mortgage lenders, hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and pension funds that hold securities backed by, or somehow tied to, these troubled mortgages.

Remember the savings-and-loan crisis of the late '80s?

When are we going to wake up and eradicate policies and loopholes that allow if not encourage unscrupulous behavior that exploits the vulnerable and unsophisticated? It should not be legal to loan someone $300 grand and tell them the payments are $700 a month. If someone wants to provide payday loans, fine, but the rates permitted are unconscionable. The lottery is regressive taxation and the aware know it. The rent to own shops should be shut down entirely. What possible justification exists to allow someone to get rich manipulating stupid people to pay two grand for a $400 TV?

The apparent lack of conscience in so many people is frightening. The themes are consistent. Greedy criminals see an angle, screw the system, and the rest of us end up paying to clean up the mess.

The impending mortgage fiasco is going to hurt.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wikipedia and Web 2.0 Legitimization

Those interested can read the report but I’ll jump to the punch line that in America, 36 percent of Internet users regularly use Wikipedia and contrary to the naysayers, those consulting the online encyclopedia consist of highly educated adults and current university students. Wikipedia dominates online information research, receiving almost six times the traffic of the next closest site, Yahoo! Answers. In fact, Wikipedia is one of the most visited sites on the Internet, period, and the experienced Web 2.0 user can guess why: Google. Over half of the Wikipedia hits result from a Google search. Almost all searches on a particular topic return a Wiki post on the first page.

China’s growth of online activity is the highest in the world and will surpass the United States in two to three years. They try to censor Internet content, which I consider a losing battle. Special sites provide links allowing a browser to safely visit "banned" Web pages undetected. While the Chinese may have volume of users, the presence of their language in the blogosphere pales in comparison (at 8 percent) to the two languages now neck and neck, Japanese at 37 percent and English at 36 percent.

Web 2.0 presence must be earned. I am honored that some find this place worth reading. The blogosphere contains over 70 million blogs with over 120,000 created each day. Many are whimsical endeavors that quickly peter out or contain self-centered ramblings that generate no audience. Web 2.0 features the paradox of structure and chaos. The blogosphere has no rules, except of course, for all of the rules it has.

The legitimization of Web 2.0 proceeds and blogs continue to penetrate mainstream media consumption. Omnivores, connectors, and the Web 2.0 savvy quickly toss nonsense and locate worthwhile content. From Q3 2006 to Q4 2006, blog inclusion among the top 100 sites grew from 12 to 22. I highly encourage the reader to visit David Sifry's post on the April 2007 report on the blogosphere. Like all of Web 2.0, Wikipedia earns its traffic. For an embarrassing counterexample consider the boneheads behind Conservapedia. Imagine the stupidity and sheer ignorance of anyone who thinks omnivores and connectors will consult content "screened for safety" by conservative goons filtering material on evolution, global warming, abortion, homosexuality, science, religion, and so on. Do you know anyone that would spend time reading content massaged by Pat Robertson?

Implications expand profoundly and in all directions. For now, let’s consider politics. Anyone serious about running for any significant office must consider Web 2.0 influence on elections. I would speculate the highest Web priority is the result of a Google search on the candidate’s name. What shows up had better not be a porn site. What is the Wikipedia content for the candidate? Is it on the first page of a Google search? Then we have the candidate’s campaign site and (if incumbent) office site. As elections heat up, these sites will draw traffic. Bad sites cost votes. Arrogant content, inappropriate photographs (images have extraordinary power), or other gaffes can cost in real terms.

Comfortable incumbents may have the luxury of ignoring all of this. Others do not.

In assessing the impact of a blog, the first question is its readership. Does it get traffic? If so, who visits? Extreme sites have no impact at all, drawing already decided traffic. The sites worthy of attention must 1) get a lot of traffic and 2) draw those whose vote can be influenced. I speculate few such blogs exist. Yes, I advocate a blue wave in 2008. Do I think this will change one vote? NO.

Still, the astute pay attention to the blogs that discuss them, classifying the blog and its content by relevance. Campaign staff may not have to speak, but they definitely have to listen. If you don’t know what happens when your name is Googled, you are Web 2.0 blind. By virtue of holding office, a politician is online and should pay attention.