Byrd's Brain

Monday, September 30
Republicans Opposed to Iraq Attack

As discussed in Roll Call, not all Congressional Republicans endorse the Bush White House plans on Iraq. In fact, even Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.), who earned two Bronze Star Medals for the 19 months he spent conducting undercover missions for the CIA in Vietnam, "is deeply troubled about an impending war with Iraq."

Ozone Hole Splits in Two

According to CNN, the ozone hole above Antarctica has split into two. Scientists are unclear as to whether this is a good thibg or a bad thhing. It seems to me that one hole was bad. Two can only be worse, but I would love to be shown that I am wrong.

Saturday, September 28
Presidential or Personal ?

According to the Washington Post, on Thursday:
"at a fundraising dinner in Houston, Bush made perhaps his most personal reference to the Iraqi plot to assassinate his father in 1993, shortly after George H.W. Bush left the presidency. "There's no doubt his hatred is mainly directed at us," the president said of Hussein. "There's no doubt he can't stand us. After all, this is a guy that tried to kill my dad at one time."

Of course he shouldn't forget. Of course he can't forget. But let's hope that foreign policy decisions are presidential and not personal.

Small Investor Revenge?

And what of those small investors that the Republicans had once touted as exemplars of capitalism? A large number of those small investors have lost their proverbial shirts in the last two years. Will they, as the Note posits, turn out in force on election day and vote the Republicans out?

Friday, September 27
ABC's, The Note

The Note has surprising political commentary for a major network news outlet. An excerpt from today is a good example:
"So we'll say it again: Every day that the Democrats are fighting with the war-burnished, popular President about national security matters is a day to make the White House happy (even if they get prickly over what Democrats actually are saying about them)." This comment has a ring of common sense to it. The Dems are being played. That means that the Democrats need to talk more about the economy (stupid).

Thanks to the PatioPundit for the link to The Note.

Can one support the rule of international law by breaking international law? Is this like burning the village to save the village?

I respect Tony Blair. For that reason I trust his report on Iraq. Clearly Iraq is a threat to someone. Most likely it is a threat to other Middle Eastern nations, including but not limited to, Israel. But is Saddam a terrorist? Is he linked to September 11th? Is he a target of the U.S. was on terror?

That seems doubtful. Iraq is your typical nation state that wishes to conquer other countires. Not unlike the early British Empire. However, with the global reach, range and destructive scale of modern weaponry, a nation geared toward colonization is a very destabilizing force. So let's see if Saddam will let the U.N. freely inspect whatever it likes within Iraqi territory. If the inspectors are unhindered and nothing is found then the case against Saddam was overstated. I expect that something would/will be found, but let's try to inspect beore we decide to strike.

I respect Tony Blair. His report on Iraq makes a good case for sending inspectors back into Iraq. If "prohibited" weaponry is fiound then it should be destroyed. If destruction is prevented, then the case for overthrowing Saddam should be made at that time. No invasion should occurt before there is proof of weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair understands this. He is not a warmongerer like Bush.

Bush should have shut up a long time ago about Saddam and called for inspectors to go back in immediately. But his real agenda is different than Tony Blair's. Bush wants a dramatic and palpable victory to help bolster the Republicans and to divert attention from the languishing war on terrorism.

Thursday, September 26
A month or so ago I mentioned "trailer trash", but I didn't have a relevant link. Now I have found Missouri Trailer Trash. As Joe Bob used to say, check it out.

Wednesday, September 25

My son was born on September 22nd. My son was due to be born on September 12th. He was born 10 days late. My father died almost a year ago. His birthday was September 22nd. My son now share's my dad's birthday. Is this coincidence an example of Jungian synchronicity?

The Birth

This is the last of the new baby installments. The toddler, the baby and my wife are all sleeping and my Mother-in -law is in the guest room watching a movie (Broken down Palace), so this is my chance to finish this series.

Okay, so we are at the hospital and the midwife is at a football game. The only person on call is a doctor that my wife had never met. The nurses have confirmed that we can stay. Things have progressed enough for the staff to get the birthing suite ready. We start out with 20 minutes of walking around the hospital wing. Gravity is an amazing thing when it comes to babies, it pulls them in the right direction. That walking really helps. We had to return to the suite and stop walking when the baby had dropped so much that it hurt my wife to walk. In the birthing room a nurse started the bath water. My wife settled in for a nice long Jacuzzi, with the lights out. (As much as possible all the lights in the suite were dimmed.) The jets and hot water helped to relax her physically and mentally. Hydrotherapy is a good thing.

The contractions continued unabated and continued to increase in intensity. The bath worked wonders with our first child and helped my wife again this time. Water is supposed to be so good for labor and delivery itself that one hospital nearby specializes in underwater births! Medication free was enough for us. Water births just seem a little too extreme. (Besides our HMO doesn't have doctors at the "water hospital", so we couldn't have gone had we wanted.)

After the Jacuzzi my wife moved to a rocking chair. Sitting positions felt good and the rocking motion helped her to focus on the pain. This was important. By focusing on the pain she could mindfully breathe in and exhale out. This helped to release tension wherever the pain points were. This may sound new agey, but it works. Try it before you knock it.

The doctor arrived while my wife was rocking. He was wearing Birkenstocks. That seemed like a good sign. It meant that he probably would not try to sell medications. He talked about who he was and what he would do to help. I heard him and what he said at that point. It was all that we wanted to hear. Who did he think he was? A midwife? My wife didn't hear most of what he had to say though, He seemed to talk whenever she had a contraction and to pause between them. It is really hard to listen when you are consumed with pain.

If you haven't coached anyone through labor, let me take a moment to explain how you know when they are having contractions. Your job is to be there for the woman giving birth. You have to listen to her breathing and remind her to breathe into the pain. That is the easy part. You also have to give her your hands to hold onto. You have to comfort her and reassure her that everything is going well. This means that you let her squeeze your hands as hard as she can. I have bruises from her grip and scratch marks from her nails on my hands. At one point during
pushing she squeezed my hand so hard that I thought my thumb was going to break. I had tried to slide my thumb out from her grip without success. So I had to accept that my thumb might break. At least I was in a hospital. Someone would be able to set the break. So you know when a woman is having a contraction because the firm grip on your hand tightens more than you would have thought possible.

From the rocking chair she moved to the bed. Not to lie down, but to half squat and half sit. Laying on one's back seems to be the worst position possible for a woman. This traditional western posture was clearly chosen by a man -- someone who would never go through labor. For a very long half hour my wife pushed. I have never seen anyone in so much pain. Despite the intense pain she kept pushing and listening to breathing advice. The birth itself was utterly amazing. Watching a baby's head and body appear is awe inspiring. You can't help but marvel at the wonders of life. My wife is and was amazing. I could never have gone through what she went through. And she did this once before!

Women certainly are not the weaker sex. I have no idea where that expression came from. It certainly wasn't coined by anyone who has witnessed a birth.

Thanks for asking. Baby, mom and family are doing great. Although sleep is a thing of the past!

Monday, September 23
Old Baby Visits New Baby.

Okay for those of you following the household baby events.... My daughter's visit to the hospital was great. We sang "Elmo" songs in the car on the way to the hospital. These helped to keep her awake, since, as you should know, she hadn't napped. At the hospital she was beside herself when she saw "Momma". She ran to the bed and climbed up to hug her mom. Then she saw her brother. He was asleep in the bassinet beside the bed. He has slept more in one day of his life then I recall my daughter to have slept in the first week of hers. To the best of our recollection (thank you John Dean) she was always awake. She has grown out of that bit.

At first she looked at her brother as if he were not there. She seemed to look through him. But she quickly warmed up to him. She patted his arm and leaned over to kiss the top of his head. Very sweet!

Now that she has seen her brother and knows that mom is fine my daughter is sleeping well.

The only consistent thing about babies is that they are all different.

My daughter and I are on our way to the hospital. She hasn't seen momma since yesterday. She really misses her. Plus she is going to meet her brother. Exciting and scary at the same time. (Made additionally exciting by the fact that she hasn't napped.)

Wish me luck!

Baby Born!

I kind of misled with yesterday's title. The baby was past due until 7:58 pm yesterday -- September 22nd.

After yesterday's toddler birthday party we got home and put our daughter to bed for her afternoon nap. Then my wife and I began to time the contractions. By this time, the contractions had changed from ebb and flowing lower back pain to being true contractions. These contractions were intense. Although unlike with our first child, after each contraction my wife was fine. With our first child the period between contractions wasn't painful (when compared to the contractions themselves), but it wasn't restful. Every baby is different.

By 3 pm we knew that this was the real thing. The contractions had continued unabated. The baby was going to be born on Sunday or Monday. Our closest relatives (my wife's parents) were 2 hours away. Too far for an emergency. We had a list of friends to call on to watch our daughter. The list included each persons' available times and dates. Some people were available only on weekends, others only at night or only during the day. Bear in mind that this list was first prepared a month ago. My wife had the list ready a week before our baby was due. Needless to say, my wife had been updating the list constantly. At first, of course, everyone was available. Then as each day, after the due date, passed people's schedules began to shift. Some went out of town. Others had guests in town. How dare they. Why weren't their lives on hold like ours were?

We had two possibilities yesterday. Fortunately, our first two choices were ready, willing and with some adjustments -- able to help out. One hang-up was our daughter's nap. We didn't want to wake her up if we didn't have to. If you don't know, a toddler who hasn't gotten enough sleep is a cranky force to be reckoned with. We could deal with her lack of sleep, but we didn't want anyone else to suffer because of it. They were doing us a favor so we wanted it to be easy, if possible. One friend wanted to come over to watch our daughter, but she was going to bring her two twin daughters with her. These kids are like a tornado. They circle around nonstop, seemingly without pause. That activity didn't seem to bode well for any naptime. Besides, this friend could only help out for the afternoon.

My wife's best friend (Amy) wanted to help. Her daughter and mine our best friends too. She was our first choice. But the friend's husband's grandmother had been staying with them. Yesterday was the last night of the visit. Relatives were coming from throughout the area for a goodbye dinner. Amy wanted to watch our daughter, but she couldn't come over to get her. Understandably, she had a dinner to fix.

I loaded the car with everything that we would need at the hospital and that our daughter would need overnight. In order to prolong the naptime, my wife and I waited until the contractions were 5 minutes apart. We reached that stage at 4:15 pm.

We woke our up our daughter. She had napped for two and a half hours. A good enough nap, three hours is her limit. We told her that she was going to Amy's while we were at the baby doctor's. The contractions were getting more intense. My wife could not stand up during them and had to hold on to someone or something in order to brace herself. Amy and her husband could not have been more gracious. They had a busy day planned and with our toddler, the evening promised to become even busier. It is wonderful to have such great friends. After unloading the necessary child accessories from the car (clothes, diapers, food, blanket or as we call it -- "wubby", favorite stuffed animal, a stroller, and the "fold' n go") a few niceties and a couple of intense contractions we continued our drive to the hospital.

We arrived at 5pm. At first we were dismayed to learn that the midwife who we had thought worked all weekend, wouldn't be available. She had gone to a SF 49ers game! Shouldn't she have hung around in case my wife went into labor? That meant that a doctor would handle the delivery. Doctors by definition are different than midwives. We wanted a natural childbirth and knew that a midwife would agree with our choice. After a brief examination and stress test my wife was admitted. Thank God. We didn't want to be sent home.

(Right now, my daughter's schedule is off. I came home to put her down for her nap, but she hasn't been napping much at all these last two hours. I just learned that she slept some in my in-laws' car while they ran errands. A nap however short, is sometimes all that a toddler needs to resist taking the real nap. I had been playing with her in an attempt to tire her out. She is now running in circles around this. My attempts may not have been successful. I will try to nap her again. if that fails I will have to continue this blog late tonight or tomorrow. My daughter is back in her crib, but she is calling for "Daddy". This isn't promising for a nap. I'll continue this later.) be continued....

Sunday, September 22
Baby Past Due day 10.

This morning we went to a birthday party for a friend of our daughter's. It was two hours spent shepherding a dozen toddlers from the playset, to the sandbox, to the picnic tables. Our daughter thoroughly enjoyed herself. She even did her "happy dance". A happy dance is reserved for special occasions. If they were older the birthday boy might be her boyfriend, so this was a special party. Although for my wife it was different. She could do no happy dance. Today my wife was 10 days past due with our second child. It was difficult for her to stay on her feet for any noticeable period of time, much less to walk around the park and shepherd the children.

If you have children you know what this means. My wife was way over being pregnant. But she was still pregnant. To compound this, she has had pregnancy related carpal tunnel for 6 weeks. This has meant that every now ant hen she would unexpectedly drop something. Her hand muscles would just stop grasping. Then, as if that weren't enough, during the last few days she has had shooting nerve pain in her legs. These also happen without warning. What this has meant is that every now and then a leg will just go out and my wife will fall down. Fortunately, this has only happened twice and each time she was at home on a carpeted floor. These maladies just add to the joys of being pregnant.

Of course these things are in addition to the general uncomfortableness that accompanies pregnancies, especially late births. She sometimes has had trouble negotiating around corners. She hits her belly sometimes. It is large. This is to be expected. She can look like she is carrying a torpedo if you look at her from the front. (The good thing for her is that if you see her from behind, she doesn't look pregnant.) Too there is the absent mindedness that they say accompanies pregnancies. Truth be told, I think that this relates to sleep deprivation more directly then it relates to pregnancy. But then she is sleep deprived due to the baby. One who is this pregnant can't sleep on their belly, or their back, so her nights are spent turning from one side to the other. This means that she hasn't slept well for a month or two. I would be absent minded too if I persisted on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night for a prolonged period of time. Your short term memory just has to be affected.

... to be continued as time permits......

Baby Past Due

Contractions have started. They have gotten closer together. This looks like the real thing. Postings will be on hiatus until baby is here.

Saturday, September 21
Bush Jr.'s Psyche

Check out Nextdraft for an intersting analysis of Bush's psyche and the possible reasons behind his insatiable desire to get Saddam Hussein. It is always important to know what motivates someone. Especially when that person is the President of the United States. He could get a lot of people killed. In the article it is pointed out that Bush Senior fought in WWII, failed to get Saddam during the Gulf War and was the target of an assasination attempt that Saddam had organized. Each of these alone might expalin Bush Jr.'s behavior. Together they definitely do.

Endless links on the web

If you have an afternoon to while away on the web, check out kuro5hin for an article full of random and interesting links. I have just spent the better part of an hour surfing. I found this site on Wil Wheaton's site.

Baby Past Due: Day 9

Okay, now we are 9 days past our baby's due date. We were really ready for the baby two weeks ago, but still there is no baby. This waiting period has changed from being surreal to one of acceptance. Not acceptance that the baby will come in its own time, but acceptance that my wife will be pregnant for the rest of her life.

Friday, September 20
Post Honeymoon Bravado

lands British gent in jail.

Horses in Diapers!

Vienna has horse drawn carriages that carry people around its historic district. Vienna wants these horses in diapers in order to keep the streets clean. This seems a little extreme to me, but then I don't have to shovel the shit.

Falling Woman redux

C.D. Harris defends the statue of the Falling Woman, that was briefly on display at Rockefeller Center. The statue, as you recall, depicts a woman falling from the World Trade Center (see 9/18/02/ post). Harris argues that it is art. That art should evoke reactions and be felt on an emotional level. Well this has certainly been felt on an emotional level and it has evoked reactions.

His definition of art is correct, but this statue is wrong. It was created to honor those who died. This insults those who died, their families and their friends. This "art" was in the wrong place and unveiled at the wrong time. It may be art, but for the purpose for which it was intended, it is decidedly bad art.

Thursday, September 19
Unrinal Etiquette
A humorous column about men's room etiquette. Where do youlook, do you say anything to anybody and what do you do with your hands?

Not Much Magic
The entry yesterday about General Magic was confirmed in today's San Francisco Chronicle. The company, whose stock had an all time high of $315, has shut down. The last stock trade was at 5 cents a share. You win some and you lose some. Sometime you lose big.

Medical Privacy?
An article in Darwin Magazine details the lovely new ways that technology is being used, by some insurance companies, to track insureds' health and lifestyle information. The companies assert that this tracking will allow them to provide us with better health care. These insurance companies are using predictive modeling technology to forecast which patient populations, and in some cases which patients, are likely to need medical care. How nice, they are looking out for us.

The best spin on this is that the software would warn that a patient will need medical care and the insurer would arrange for that care proactively. The more likely scenario is that the insurer would use the information to identify the high risk patients and cut them from the health plan. Insurers should not be able to use this personal data for more than just paying claims. I would rather have my doctor handle the medical care decisions.

Wednesday, September 18
Falling Woman Statue
What were they thinking? I fear that they weren't thinking at all.
Today at Rockefeller Center a statue, intended to honor those who died at the World Trade Center, was unveiled. A short while later it was draped and then removed from the Center. The statue depicted a woman falling to her death. How this macabre statue was to honor anyone who died, I don't know. The unbelievability factor about this sculpture is that it was made and that many people had to have been involved in its commissioning and unveiling. Didn't any one of these people think that this might be in bad taste?

Thanks to Warren Ellis I have learned that one of my investments, General Magic, from the days, has tanked. They've closed the doors.

Baby Past Due, Day 6

We are expecting our second child any day now. The baby was due on the 12th, but has chosen to wait to make its appearance. It wants to make its entrance in its own time. Not ours and not the doctors or the midwives. Our first child was born naturally and we had hoped that that would be the case with this one. But as time goes on, the date for inducing with Pitocin approaches. That will likely happen on the 26th, if there is no birth before then. This waiting is difficult. We had been prepared for a baby on the 12th. With our first child, my wife went into labor on the due date. (The date was based on the ultrasound. It is almost uncanny how accurate it was.) My wife gave birth early the next morning. Based on that experience, and because everyone had been saying that second children come early, we had expected the baby last week.

Now, with my wife still pregnant and no sounds of a newborn filling the house, life seems a little surreal. It feels like we should be doing something other than what we are doing. I shouldn't be at work, but I am. I hadn't planned on being here this week. I planned on being with my family, but instead I still go to work. That seems wrong. My wife had looked forward to being more mobile and not having back pain. Instead, she feels increasingly awkward and has trouble picking up our toddler. We know about the doctors' appointments next week, but somehow it feels like the baby won't ever be born.

And then there are the phone calls. We are glad that people are concerned and are keeping in touch. I'm not complaining about the calls or the intentions of the callers, but the repetitiveness gets a little old. Every time the phone rings we steel ourselves for the inevitable question -- "No baby, yet?" We wish that we could say "Actually, yes baby. We are a family of four." I was even getting so many questions from people at work that a co-worker made a sign for me. I have it posted near my desk. It simply says -- in big letters -- "Not Yet".

Okay, I am just working with a slightly new look. This site is beginning to evolve. That is a good thing. Change is good. Change reflects growth. Right? If you have been here before feel free to e-mail me with your comments about the new changes.

Tuesday, September 17
Canadian ISP Spies?
I came across this in a file, I meant to post it a while back. I'll check for any updates to the story..... Canada is considering forcing ISPs to track the internet actiivites of their users. The full article is at zdnet. Another example of Big Brother at work.

Monday, September 16
Could the hidden agenda on Iraq be oil? According to Platts Guide, Iraq has the second largest oil reserve of any nation in the world, after Saudi Arabia. That is a lot of oil and it isn't exporting very much right now because of the UN enforced caps. Maybe because Congress denied Bush permission for expanded oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he has had to find another source of oil for his oil company cronies. Iraq wold clearly be a plentiful source. And you will recall at first Bush said that he could invade Iraq without Congressional authorization. So far, he has been thwarted on his ANWR efforts. Is the attitude, "to hell with Congress" let's invade Iraq and get oil there instead? This is such a cynical point of view. I hope that I am very wrong. Would he really have people killed just to get oil?

Making us less dependant on oil seems like a much easier thing to do. But I guess that not enough people or not the right people would get richer this way. I, for one, would rather that increased the fuel efficiency of our cars and that we learned to enjoy driving electric-gas hybrid cars and newly developed fuel cell vehicles These vehicles would make us less dependant on oil and less involved in Middle East politics. It seems much easier to do that then to start a war. And this way no one gets killed.

Sunday, September 15
I thought that we had to get Osama bin Laden. Did we give up on that? Is he just too hard to get? Whatever the reason, Osama seems forgotten. I guess that they got tired of saying, "We don't know where he is or even if he is alive." The enemy flavor of the day is clearly Saddam. He is in a specific country. He should be easier to get then that Osama guy who actually did attack the U.S.

Saturday, September 14
Mandela redux
Rachel Lucas, on September 12th, ranted about how wrong Nelson Mandela was about the U.S. She based her rant on his interview with Newseek online, that I linked to yesterday. I didn't say much about Mandela at the time because I thought that the article spoke for itself, but now that I have read her rant I am compelled to respond point by point.

First -- She takes issue with his statement that the United States has made serious mistakes in the conduct of its foreign affairs.

Her defense of the U.S. misses the point. She says that since we've done good things in the past (such as defeating Hitler over 50 years ago) Mandela should "leave us alone." She is right that the U.S. has done admirable things in the past. However, good actions in the past don't necessarily equate to good actions in the present. (Just as bad actions in the past don't always mean bad actions in the future.) Bush Jr. did not make those decisions that she defends. Bush Jr. is trying to get us into a war that Rachel admits may be wrong, but she feels that we are entitled to make "a few mistakes." That reposnse is too glib. People will die if we invade Iraq. Before people are killed I think that we should be certain of the rightness of our decision.

Everyone, admittedly, makes mistakes, but an ill conceived and ill timed war with Iraq would be a mistake the proportions of which we can't imagine. The repercussions will impact us for years to come. We must have both sufficient cause and international support for any military action against Iraq. Bush might be old, but my children will have to live in the world that he wants to create. I would like them to live in a peaceful world. Before we take on Iraq we need to prepare to deal with the fallout -- particularly from the oil supplying Middle East and the new breed of terrorists that we would motivate. If we go into Iraq we also need to have an exit strategy. I don't have much faith that this has been thought through by the adminstration. Only Colin Powell seems to see the big picture and he isn't in charge.

What government would replace Saddam? A U.S. style democratic government? That would be nice, but how do we guarantee that? How long would the U.S. need to station troops in Iraq to keep the peace and support the new government? There is a multinatinal force in Afganistan. If the U.s goes it alone in Iraq then the U.S. alone would staff the peacekeeping force. A new Iraqi government might be Kurdish or the Kurds in Northern Iraq might seek independance. Either of these options would likey threaten and destabilize Turkey. The Kurdish population of Turkey might be inspired to seek independence and join the new Kurdish nation. Is this wrong? Not necessarily, all peoples should be free, but we need to realize what reactions our actions may cause. Also, a pro-U.S. government in Iraq would leave Iran surrounded by U.S. "leaning" allies. This might destabilize the Iranian government. What would be the result of another Iranian revolution? Would a revolution lead to another fundamentalist muslim (anti-U.S.) government akin to the Taliban? If so, we would have conquered one enemy only to end up with another. That might be a draw if this were chess. This isn't chess, it would be a very costly and dangerous way to get to a draw.

Second -- Rachel Lucas feels that Mandela's statement that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace, is "a bunch of bullcorn." She believes that the United States is the only thing keeping the morons on the planet from blowing up everything up.

Once again she is right that the U.S. attitude has served to control and mitigate the actions of other countries. However, it is this very power that we must wield cautiously and selectively. The U.S. has so much power that it must act wisely. If the U.S. acts impulsivley and rashly and attacks Iraq without a plan and without international support, then that in and of itself is destabilizing. Morover, the U.S. as a tyrant will only cause other peoples and individuals to rebel. The U.S. as tyrant will make others feel less free. "Obey or we will crsuh you." That isn't a motto that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Third -- Mandela doean't want the wishes of the Security Council to be ignored by the U.S. Rachel Lucas doesn't think that we should care about the U.N. because the other permanent members of the Security Council (France, Germany, Russia, China) are weak and have a sordid history. I admit that the U.S. is strong, but I can't say that we have a rosy history.

If we ignore the U.N. and go it alone then we are sending a message to all all oher countires that the U.N. is irrelevant. That one need only heed what the U.N. says if one doesn't have the money or the might to ignore it. This is would be a bad precendent. Many nations might choose to ignore the U.N. The U.S. might be faced with dealing with these "rogue" nations alone. If the U.S. is to violate the sovereignty of another country it would be best if it would done under "color of law". Without a legal justification, such as U.N. support, the U.S. is acting no better than any other nation that might threaten another's soveringty. That is the message that the Bush administration is sending to the world.

Fourth -- Mandela's point about weapons of mass destruction is more that if other countrie have them, such as Israel and the U.S., then why are they per se so bad that another country should be invaded. The argument about the type of weapons is really a misnomer. The argument should be about the type of government and its motivations. The type of weapons should be secondary to the discussion, but bush had been asserting it as the primary reason. There has been such a disconnect that it has seemed that the true desire is to unseat Saddam Hussein at all costs. Oh and by the way you should support me in these efforts because he has "weapons of mass destruction".is the marketing tool.

Fifth -- We don't need to ask permission from the U.N to do anything, but it would behoove us and the world if the U.S. got U.N. support for any incursion. This support is important for two reasons. Legally it makes any action more defensible. This will help dispel anger at the U.S.. Practically, it will mean that the U.S. has logistical, military and monetary support from other nations.

Finally, I concede that the there is no doubt that we can do what we like. But we shouldn't. It doesn't matter that we don't want to colonize anybody or that we don't want to terrorize anybody. It is the perception of what we want to do that is strategically important. People will respond to perceptions as much as they will react to realities. Peopel will believe what they want to believe. The U.S. must not give them the opportunity to believe anything, but the truth.

Yes, Bush says he wants to nip Saddam Hussein in the bud before he nukes us. That sounds pretty simple. It is a "Little sumpin' called preemptive self-defense". If the U.S. can do it, why can't Saddam or any other nation or nut that thinks that the U.S. is gunning for them? The problem with uniliateral pre-emptive self defense is that it leaves every nation out for itself. He who strikes first wins. Or so the theory goes.

As a parent I a reminded that part of being an adult is not acting entirely on your emotions. Sometimes it is necessary to think before one reacts.

Damn straight.

Using Gates' Money to Learn Mac
I love the irony of this. Spencer Katt in an eWeek column pointed out that Maine is using a million-dollar grant from the Bill Gates foundation to purchase computers for its public school system. The state is buying 36,000 Apple iBooks (what I use at home)! The Apple laptops are to be provided to all 7th and 8th graders in the state. "That's like Ford paying people to learn to drive VWs."

Okay. I know that I am a little link happy...

Friday, September 13
FasTrak redux
As I have said in previous postings, the use of the FasTrak toll system to monitor the movements of individual cars is a violation of privacy. The goal of the system is to allow transportation officials to pinpoint traffic jams and analyze traffic patterns. In Europe some cities already use a electronic monitoring system that achieves the same results without invading anyone's privacy. The vehicles tracked are totally anonymous. David Pogue briefly described the system in his column in this week's NYTimes Circuits section. The cities use detectors in the road's surface to measure the speed of the traffic. This automatically relays news of traffic jams to the authorities -- and, is transmitted to radio stations. We should use this system, although I am sure people will argue that it will be costly and take longer to implement.

California: Solar and Wind Power
In a move that could make California a world leader in harnessing the sun and wind as sources for electricity, California Gov. Gray Davis on Thursday signed legislation that will dramatically increase the state's use of renewable energy. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle explains that the new legislation with require California utilities, like PG&E, to buy 20 percent of the megawatts they need, to power the state, from sources like wind farms and solar power under the new law. Only time will tell, but consumers shouldn't see higher bills under the legislation. If there aren't too many exit clauses for this it should have a large positive impact on alternative energy generation.

Soda or Pop?
The great debate. Do you call it "Soda" or "Pop". What is the word in your locality? Join the research and take the great soda pop survey.

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela calls the U.S. a threat to world peace. Mandela is refreshingly outspoken in a Newsweek web exclusive interview.

Thursday, September 12
The Patriot Act and Freedom
Are you any less a "Patriot" if you disagree with the Patriot Act? Its very name would imply that. You are either with us or against us...

The Patriot Act and Freedom
A recent Newsday article listed changes in the law that were brought about by the USA Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was enacted on October 26, 2001 as a response to the terrorist attacks last September. Here is the Newsday list of some of the fundamental changes to Americans' legal rights that have been brought to us by the Bush administration, a weak Congress and the USA Patriot Act:

* FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Government may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity to assist terror investigation.

* FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Government has closed once-public immigration hearings, has secretly detained hundreds of people without charges, and has encouraged bureaucrats to resist public records requests.

* FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation.

* RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION: Government may monitor federal prison jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.

* FREEDOM FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES: Government may search and seize Americans' papers and effects without probable cause to assist terror investigation.

* RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL: Government may jail Americans indefinitely without a trial.

* RIGHT TO LIBERTY: Americans may be jailed without being charged or being able to confront witnesses against them.

Prior to the Patriot Act the government needed probable cause to conduct searches, seize documents and carry on investigations. Also, conversations between lawyers and their clients had been sacrosanct. No one could lawfully intrude on the attorney client privilege. Finally, an American's right to a speedy trial had been guaranteed. These are very broad and sweeping changes. (If you like to read and are so moved, EPIC's website has the text of the Patriot Act.)

Maybe curtailing our freedoms and our rights is necessary to protect U.S. citizens. Maybe. To date no one has been tried as a terrorist. But over 300 people are being held in secret in the U.S. Maybe those 300 some odd people are terrorists. Maybe not. Maybe it doesn't matter because you and I aren't being held in seclusion. Is this loss of our freedoms worth our safety? Will it matter more when someone we know is "detained"? Do you feel safer because of the Patriot Act?

Maybe these changes are okay. Maybe we won't know for some time. Maybe we won't know until we learn whether they actually helped to thwart further attacks. A danger here is that as we get used to these changes we are more likely to accept additional restrictions in the future. We regrettably may be on the proverbial slippery slope. In a year or two a few additional restrictions on our freedoms may seem insignificant. So we will go along with them. In ten years we may find that we have slid quickly down quit a slope. If so, it will be very difficult to climb back up and regain our freedoms. Our view of freedoms then may be greatly different than our view now.

Wednesday, September 11
I wasn't sure if I would post anything today, but then I found James' Lileks daily bleat.

Monday, September 9
We remember: Simply Americans. The heroes of flight 93. The Dave Barry piece is very moving.

According to a new poll by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the nation is evenly divided on the question of tradeoffs between civil liberties and security. However, a small but statistically significant number of Americans have shifted toward the civil liberties side of the issue since last year.

I know that we all want to be safe. But how comfortable are we really with the terrorist "round-up"? There are more than 300 people who are being held in U.S. jails for allegedly terrorist related activities. Most of these 300 have yet to be charged with a crime.

Sunday, September 8
That was disturbing. We were changing television channels and paused on a scene of the World Trade Center Towers on fire. We thought that they weren't showing video of of the last minutes of people who died. I guess that we were wrong. We had never seen shots of people at windows, trapped in the buildings. Now, just for a few seconds, we have. I would rather that we hadn't. We don't need those images to be melancholy or reflective about September 11th 2001.

These images, and others that I hope never to know about, seem very exploitive. I wouldn't want to see a shot of someone that I lost that day waving for help. In some ways, you can't help but look at these images. It is a dark side of human nature. In German there is a word for it -- "schadenfreud". It means pleasure at someone else's misfortune. These video clips can't serve any real purpose other than to boost ratings. I'm sure that tens of thousands of people will look at these images over the coming days. They might be better off if they don't look. We don't need to see any more new images in order to be reflective. We saw enough last September. We don't need to see these images in order to remember.

I neglected to mention, with yesterday's last posting, that someone has said the things included in the list to either my wife or one of her pregnant friends. You can't make this stuff up.

Saturday, September 7
Ten Things Not to Say To a Pregnant Woman

1. Can I touch your stomach?
2. Are you sure you're not having twins?
3. Let me tell you my (sister's/wife's/friend's) "horrible" labor story....
4. If you think that you are tired now, wait until the baby comes.
5. You look like you are about to pop.
6. Haven't *you* had that baby yet?
7. Don't worry those stretch marks will fade.
8. It must be a girl, you're carrying in your butt.
9. At least your boobs are bigger too.
10. Oh my God!

The baby is due any day now. It is these last few days, waiting for labor to start, that are the hardest. For the last month my wife has been ready for the baby. "It can come out whenever it wants." At this point no time is too soon. I'm a little more anxious with this baby then I was with our first. Labor with our first child was 7 hours. They say that the labor with the second child can be quick. At most it should be no more than 3 - 4 hours. If labor starts when I am at work, I hope that I can get home in time take my wife to the hospital. Last time we weren't as anxious because we "knew" when the baby would be born. And we were almost right. My wife went into labor on the day we had expected, but our daughter wasn't born until early the following day I am sure that it will all work out. We'd just like it to be soon. Today or tommorrow would be nice since the midwife that my wife likes the best is on call both days....

Friday, September 6
Advances in technology put us all on the dangerous and slippery slope of having our privacy invaded. Technology advances more quickly than our minds and concepts can adjust. The law changes glacially and will always be a few steps behind bleeding edge technologies. What is private and what is public? When does something public become something that should be more private?

Think about court records. Sometimes people get sued. Sometimes people sue someone. Sometimes people get divorced. People's otherwise private lives are revealed in the pleadings. In a divorce there may be allegations of infidelity or abuse. In a personal injury lawsuit there may be allegations that someone's sexual functions were impaired by an accident. Once upon a time, not too long ago, all of these documents were on paper -- only paper. You filed your (paper) pleadings and these documents were put into a file and filed on a shelf at the court. Yes, they were and are public documents.

For the most part in this country (there is the Ashcroft exception) we have an open judicial system. That means that trials are open to the public. That means that the papers filed in a matter are available to the public. With a paper based system that meant that if I wanted to read about my neighbors' divorce, and the potentially salacious goings on, I had to go to the courthouse. Once at the courthouse I had to research microfiche to find out the file number for the case. With that in hand one went to the counter and requested the file. A clerk would go to a vast file room in order to locate the specific file. One would sign out the file. You were free to read the file for as long as you wanted. You could take notes on what you read and you could pay to have copies made of any documents. You could not take the file itself out of the clerk's offices.

Now court's are scanning paper files. Now court's are beginning to accept electronic filings. The days of paper files are quickly waning. Now in some jurisdictions instead of requesting the file you can browse through a complete file at a computer terminal in the court clerk's office. That system still requires you to go to the courthouse in order to read the court papers. But now the records are electronic. It isn't much of a technical leap to take those very same electronic files and put them on the internet. And this is where the privacy tires hit the invasive road, so to speak.

These public documents, that could only be read by someone who cared enough to go to the courthouse to get them, now might be read by a nosy neighbor or a total stranger who is surfing the internet. People may read about others private lives while sitting at home, with their feet up and drinking a beer. The ease of access to these records is what takes us across the threshold of privacy concerns. It makes sense that the records are public. It doesn't make sense that they should be so easily available. This ease of accessibility makes them so public that privacy rights are violated.

In Cincinnati Ohio the Clerk of the Courts has put filings on the internet. You can read the allegations in Cincinnati divorces and personal injury and other lawsuits from the comfort of your sofa. That is an invasion of privacy. Technology has changed how we have to view privacy.

No longer is the analysis related only to the type of information. Privacy now also relates to the means of accessing information.

I love this image. This is a satellite photo from above Dubai. Satellite imagery shows how beautiful and awesome the earth really is. Wonder through this site. There is an amazing series of photos of the World Trade Center.

Satellite photos reveal the earth's magnificence and the unbelievable structures that man has built. They also show how small and inconsequential each one of us really is. And talk about invasion of privacy. As these images get better and better the movements of individuals can be tracked by satellite. With satellites we have no idea whether or when anyone is following us. As these images show the satellite that is watching you may be commercial -- it might not be the government doing the watching. The fact that we can take these pictures, like most things in life, is a double edged sword. I for one like them for the beautiful pictures that they take.

We woke up early this morning. Probably we are anxious for the arrival of our new baby -- due next week. But then our daughter woke up too. She and mom went back to bed. I stayed up. The early morning now is amazing. The air is crisp. It is now dark at 5:30 am. I miss the long daylight hours of early summer. But the darkness does hold its own wonders.

The stars in the sky this morning were amazing. The sky was filled with them. Each star shone brightly and crisp. We are very lucky to live away from the bright lights of a city. In fact, our town was one of the first U.S. cities to pass a "dark sky" ordinance. Unnecessary light in most cities pierces the night sky and makes star gazing difficult. The stars are too amazing to be blotted out by man's lights.

The sky is the ultimate art gallery above us. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

For star gazing edification, check out the NASA picture of the day.

Thursday, September 5
Whew. We just finished the birthday party for our two year old daughter. Eight of her two year old friends came to the party. It was three hours of two year olds running everywhere. There was never a time that they were all in the same area. They were inside. They were in the family room. They were in the living room. They were trying to go upstairs. The party was exhausting. I was impressed by the moms. They all took it in stride. My wife, for instance, was unfazed by the pandemonium. I on the other hand could use a nap.

The party was great. Everyone seemed to have a good time. But at one point three kids were hurt and crying in rapid succession. First a boy poked another boy in the eye. That sent the first boy crying to mommy. Then the first boy did something (it was too fast for anyone too see) to a girl's mouth so that it bled. She ran and cried for mom. Then the first boy hit another girl and scratched her neck. The mothers of the injured children responded immediately and tended to the injuries. What amazed me was the mother of the little brute. She never reprimanded her son. She didn't make him take a time out. He probably has no idea that what he did was wrong. So he'll certainly hit again. That's bad.

What's worse was that the boy's mother showed no remorse for what her son had done. There were three children in tears and her son was left to play. She never apologized to the other mothers or asked about how bad the injuries were. What's up with that? Here behavior sure isn't a very good role model for her son to follow.

Wednesday, September 4
Thai Food. I ate lunch at a Thai restaurant* near my wife's office. An elderly couple (late '60s) sat at a table beside the window. They sat for long periods of time without talking. There would be 5 minute silences punctuated by 30 seconds of conversation. (At some points the wife kept looking around the room. That made me think that the silences were uncomfortable to her. Or maybe my staring at them made her uncomfortable.)

Do you think that they just had nothing to say? Do you think that after years of marriage they had run out of things to say?

* Sauteed spinach, broccoli and tofu in a peanut sauce. As my daughter would say, "Yum."

Tuesday, September 3
This is a very small thing for Apple and few would have noticed if they hadn't included it, but the fact that they did speaks volumes for the culture of the company. (Here is an article from the associated press. I couldn't find a deep link to it, so I have copied the article.)

Associated Press
HONOLULU -- Apple Computer's latest operating system doesn't say "aloha" on startup, but it still speaks Hawaiian. Hawaiian language educators and preservationists are applauding the Apple OS 10.2 (aka Jaguar) software because of a feature that allows users to type two characters essential to the Hawaiian written language as it is now taught.

"We want it so that people simply turn on a computer, they know it will have Hawaiian," said Keola Donaghy, a spokesman for Hale Kuamoo Hawaiian Language Center at the University of HawaiiHilo. "For our kids, the biggest thing is to show them the language is still viable and living."

The new version from the California-based company adds an option to the computer's "internal keyboard" that allows users to type in the kahako and the okina.
The kahako is the little dash appearing over vowels, a diacritical mark signifying a stressed vowel sound. The okina, or glottal stop, signals a halting of breath between vowel sounds.

Donaghy for years has lobbied corporate technicians for a built-in Hawaiian language keyboard, similar to options that support alphabets of other languages.
"There wasn't any interest on their part, because they thought it would have been a considerable amount of work for them to do it," he said.
Donaghy said he hopes to bring about similar changes with the more prevalent Windows operating system for PCs.

The language nearly became extinct when the United States banned schools from teaching students in Hawaiian after annexing the then-independent country in 1898.

We would all benefit if more companies designed products from a cultural point of view. Products that are well designed enhance our experiences and our culture -- Hawaiian et al. For instance, how can you not smile when you see the new Apple iMac? I use an iBook and am happy whenever I use it. It is pretty. How many PC users can say that about their computers?

In order to protect our privacy, as new procedures are undertaken to "secure cyberspace", Bush Jr is expected to recommend the appointment of a privacy czar. I don't know about you, but my confidence is not high. In fact, I expect that the privacy czar will pay lip service to privacy advocates concerns and support the collecting of whatever private information the government wants. Then, when the government doesn't want to release information, the privacy czar will assert that the information can't be disclosed because of privacy concerns. This is very much like having the fox guarding the henhouse.

Monday, September 2
Today we learned to be less judgmental. We went shopping at a store (a national chain) that has a "trailer trash" image. Well weren't we surprised. The store had what we wanted and more. And it was clean. Everything that we found was cheaper than we had paid elsewhere. I expect that we'll be shopping there in the future. Now I guess we need to get a trailer.

Sunday, September 1
"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
What is essential is invisible to the eye."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery