31 July 2004

Ethical Dilemma Test

This deal is blanketed all over the internet, but I just dicovered it.

You are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for the bus:

  1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
  2. An old friend who once saved your life.
  3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car?

Think before you continue reading...
» read more

30 July 2004

Are you 10 years old?

The dvorak-bot™ sounds off on Ann Coulter and her recent implosion with a USA Today assignment to write a column on the 2004 Democratic convention. A USA Today editor chief, who must be totally unfamiliar with Ms. Coulter's scrawlings, somehow figured that Ms. Coulter would pen a piece worthy for publication. But as has been detailed, the column was spiked because of the infantile and flammatory rhetoric. Or at least that's what the press reports that I read said. I was unaware of the additional information that Ms. Coulter refused to allow her column to be edited, which was the real reason for rejection.
So Salon publishes a piece on this fiasco calling Coulter an “unhinged buffoon.” This got my attention. It was a funny phrase. But most interesting to me was the link to Coulters rant in Human Events Online (where she apparently is not edited) and feels comfortable enough to make a fool of herself. Here Coulter gives us the entire USA Today column along with the editors remarks. You immediately see that the column is crazy, daft. Maybe she thought it was cute, I don’t know. It appears to be pure Republikan hubris.

But what’s even weirder about the Human Events article, as pointed out in Salon, is that Coulter authored the piece and dissuses herself in the third person, She quotes herself and responds to her own quotes. It does not appear to be done as a gag either. Can you spell psycho? Here are a couple of paragraphs. Now remember that at the top this says ”by Ann Coulter.”

The dvorak-bot™ also details how the new Republikans have deterred it away from Republican politics.

28 July 2004

A Right Wing Surrogate

During the week of the 2004 Democratic Convention, KFNX 1100AM Bob Mohan is scraping the dusky bottom rungs of the right wing staircase of nuts in a blatant unabashed partisan stumping for George W. Bush. How else can his refusal to cite information on Ted Sampley's background and biography be accounted for? Mohan granted air time for the Sampley "Hanoi Kerry" soapbox.
Ted Sampley is head of the Vietnam Veterans Against Kerry and is responsible for the 1992 fake photo of John Kerry shooting an American MIA in Vietnam with the caption: Kerry eliminates another MIA from his discrepancy list. Sampley has a long history of working against both John Kerry & John McCain dating to the POW/MIA hearings. He even served jail time for starting a fight with John McCain's staff. Sampley was also given a restraining order.

Senator John McCain called Sampley one of the most despicable people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter.

"I strongly caution reporters who may be contacted by or are interested in Mr. Ted Sampley and the various organizations he claims to represent, and his opinions on the subject of Senator Kerry, or any subject for that matter, to investigate thoroughly Mr. Sampley's background and history of spreading outrageous slander and other disreputable behavior before inadvertently lending him or his allegations any credibility."

Mr. Mohan didn't share that with his audience, at least from what I heard on the radio today. A few callers challenged the guest and called him out calling Kerry a communist, but nobody shared the skinny on this crazed right wing operative.

Wow, Mohan, I guess you'll be turning to that same cesspoll to drudge up more bigoted right wing fantasy. Hey, why didn't you interview the woman who filed a rape lawsuit against GW Bush? Oh, I forgot, she committed suicide. Just like Vince Foster. Down the conspiracy rabbit whole we go.
» read more

24 July 2004

If cars are the measure, the standard of living of a typical American worker – 80% of the population – fell by 50%

Some insightful numbers at the Concentration of Wealth Gallery. While I don't agree the article title's premise — that "concentration of wealth" alone is responsible for a falling standard of living — the numbers indeed indicate a structural economic problem that is not being attended to. The blog author penned this piece in response to a recent NY Times article on falling hourly pay and Alan Greenspan's testimony to Congress on monetary policy.
By looking at this report from the census bureau (page 720) and this report, you can see that the median sales price of a home in 1971 was $24,800. The average annual wage in 1971 was $6,620 (see previous section). So it took 3.74 years of labor for the average worker in 1971 to buy the average home.

The median sales price of a house in 1999 was $133,300. The average annual wage in 1999 was $23,750. So it took 5.61 years of labor for the average worker in 1999 to buy the average home.

The author debunks the notion of increasing standard of living for the preponderance of Americans by looking at average wages versus cost of a home, cost of a car, and minimum wage values in years 1971 and 2000. The evidence is obvious and shatters the pollyanna naysayer counterclaims to the contrary.

However, I don't believe that an overly heavy distribution of wealth at the top is necessarily bad in itself. That's a flaw that presupposes that the amount of total wealth in the world is a constant static quanity. This is simply not true. Aggregate wealth can expand and contract, depending on environmental factors brought on by man or mother nature. Simply, there can be more cake and more pie, and efforts that attack wealth generation are not prudent measures.

Still, there is a major structural problem and it's not even being acknowledged, let alone addressed. The nature of work is changing — it takes less workers to provide the same level of productivity as in past times. Computing and robotics technology advances stifle the need for manpower. And in those enterprises where manpower is still paramount, a global economic model now moves those numbers offshore or imports workers from developing nations who lack the negotiating power and rights that citizens are entitled to. The net effect is to suppress wages and salaries for the bulk of the citizenry. A shift in our paradigm of work and compensation is most needed, yet few even are aware of this social wave and its negative ramifications.

While U.S. rapidly and carelessly opens U.S. market, Chinese government is brazenly protectionist

According to Douglas Bartlett, president of Bartlett Manufacturing Co., other countries are providing all types of subsidies and are playing under one set of rules and we're playing under another and our businesses don't stand a chance..
U.S. printed circuit board makers didn¹t suddenly forget how to compete, said Bartlett, whose company's revenues have declined from $20 million in 2000 to $9 million in 2003. Instead, Chinese companies have been able to produce comparable products at half the price due to unfair export subsidies and currency manipulation. "In high-tech industries, low-cost labor alone cannot create such price advantages," Bartlett said. "The implications are clear: China is using predatory trade practices to destroy our PCB market and because of Washington's indifference -- and sometimes encouragement -- China is succeeding."

One glaring example of the military cost of this indifference is in the production of sonabuoys, which are used to detect submarines. Bartlett Manufacturing has been making the printed circuit boards used in this military product for 15 years, but the company was told recently by its customer USSI in Ft. Wayne, Ind., that its prices were not competitive.

"My long experience in the business tells me that these prices could be established only in China or [another] similar Southeast Asian country," Bartlett told the Small Business Committee. "It should be obvious to members [of Congress] that it does not make sense to have the Chinese build products that go into the products for our national defense. The implications for national security and homeland defense should be obvious." (When adjusted for Chinese currency rates and export subsidies, Bartlett says his company¹s prices are competitive.)

But the corporatists and globalists are not interested in things like national sovereigntry or protecting domestic interests. Or even, Good Gates, the plight of hard working Americans who have been commodotized and marginalized as insignificant.

20 July 2004

George W. Bush wasn’t bashful about how he was being pushed upward by Dad’s connections

According to one of his old professors at Harvard Business School who is speaking out against his ex pupil.
“I vividly remember that he made a comment saying that people are poor because they’re lazy,” Tsurumi said.

Tsurumi also said Bush displayed a sense of arrogance about his prominent family, including his father, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

“[George W. Bush] didn’t stand out as the most promising student, but...he made it sure we understood how well he was connected,” Tsurumi said. “He wasn’t bashful about how he was being pushed upward by Dad’s connections.”

Tsurumi said that the younger Bush boasted that his father’s political string-pulling had gotten him to the top of the waiting list for the Texas National Guard instead of serving in Vietnam. When other students were frantically scrambling for summer jobs, Tsurumi said, Bush explained that he was planning instead for a visit to his father in Beijing, where the senior Bush was serving at the time as the special U.S. envoy to China.

He referred to Bush as a "sarcastic, mediocre student". Hear Professor Tsurumi speak about his former student.

15 July 2004

Oh yeah, it's for you

Daryl Miller expresses his frustration with the airport screening process in Minneapolis.
Airport police said a security screener was waving a metal-detecting wand over Miller's pants area on Friday when Miller pulled his shorts down to his ankles. He wasn't wearing any underwear.

Miller then said, "There, how do you like your job," thus ending the screening, according to the police report. He was charged with indecent exposure and released on $300 bail.

14 July 2004

Job Loss/Gain by President and Party

Look at these numbers.

Souce is US Department of Labor reporting, or so the graphic creator has captioned. I dug around at the official United States Department of Labor online home, but could not verify the factoids presented.

If true, it's an amazing graphic and contrary to the popular misconception about the parties and the American economy. And still, George W Bush is on target to become the first president since Herbert Hoover to end a presidential term with a decrease in total employment.

Employment: 131.2 million Americans on business payrolls in May, an increase of 1.4 million employed since last August but still 1.2 million below the level when President Bush took office in January 2001.

Some economists believe it's going to be a "banner year" while others contend a "housing bubble" burst may "chill the economy".

The most troublesome aspect of the price runup is that many recent buyers are squeezing into houses that they can barely afford by taking advantage of the lower rates available from adjustable-rate mortgages. That leaves them fully exposed to rising rates. In fact, the rise in one-year adjustable rates since late March has already raised annual borrowing costs for new buyers by 25%. And data from the Federal Housing Finance Board show that the most expensive markets tend to have the highest share of buyers with adjustable-rate mortgages.

10 July 2004

I wish I could tell him the person who killed his mother was in jail, but . . .

Officer Dan Lovelace is acquitted. Even though three eyewitnesses testify that he chased after Dawn Rae Nelson's fleeing vehicle to shoot her and the jury foreman stated that he believed the shot "traveled from the rear to front".
"I see him run with the car. The car takes off and he runs with the car. He takes out his gun and from the side I see him shoot," Brandi Gonzales testified.

Her sister Jennifer Gonzales-Maytorena agreed.

"He was running, going really, really fast," she said, explaining that the officer was trying to catch up with the car.

Both celebration and outrage over the verdict.

I am disinclined to second guess jury decisions, especially when I haven't sat in the courtroom and heard all the testimony and pored over evidence presentations, but the case here sure looks like a "O.J. Simpson" type deal. Perhaps some of the other jurors will speak out on the rationale behind their judgment.

Basically, the word of a police officer who possesses a checkered past trumps multiple eyewitnesses and forensic testimony.

Lt. Thomas Blaine, the city's pursuit expert, concluded that Lovelace didn't declare a pursuit, didn't broadcast the fact that he was going 100 mph, didn't use his lights and siren as required and didn't follow a supervisor's order. That order: "Don't push it; let's get you some help."

Despite that, an internal investigation exonerated Lovelace. His only mistake, the report said, was that he didn't run his siren. For that, he got the minimum punishment, a letter of admonishment.

7 July 2004

How vulnerable the Valley's power supply is

Power shortage in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Residents and businesses can brace themselves for weeks - maybe months - of voluntary power conservation and possible blackouts as a result of a massive fire at a power substation near Sun City.

And those raging wildfires may knock out other supply lines.

Wildfires are threatening two other key transmission lines that supply the Valley. The "Jacket" fire near Flagstaff and the "Willow" fire near Payson both have lines in their paths.

Today is the average start date of the monsoon in Arizona so hopefully rain is on the way. But then again, monsoom storms can bring dry lightning too.

State route 87, south of Payson, closed due to the Willow fire.

5 July 2004

Rate George Bush and John Kerry on the Homeland Security issue

Well, at least on the security of their official web site "homes".
  1. Both the Bush and the Kerry Web sites have cross-site scripting errors (XSS). These errors can allow a prankster to create fake Web pages which load from the Bush or Kerry Web sites but additional content can be supplied from a different Web server belonging to a prankster. A prankster could then say anything they want on a Bush or Kerry Web page using a XSS error. Examples include fake news stories, slogans telling visitors to vote for the other candidate, and doctored photos of a candidate.

  2. Error trapping at the Kerry Web site isn't very good. Typing unusual characters into Web forms at the Kerry Web site causes Web server applications to fail and a visitor is shown very cryptic error pages. These problems might be a sign of SQL injection errors which can be quite serious. An SQL injection error can sometimes be used by an outsider to break into a backend database at a Web site and then to make off with private information from the database.

  3. The Bush Web site has hired a company called Omniture to track users at the Bush Web site. Omniture uses hidden Web bugs to do this tracking. Perhaps this Web site feature was requested by John Ashcroft? ;-) This relationship with Omniture is not spelled out in the Bush Web site privacy policy. For more about information about Omniture, check out their Web site at

  4. Both the Bush and Kerry Web sites encourage visitors to add banner ads for the candidates to their own Web pages. The Bush banner ad uses JavaScript supplied from the Bush Web server (See The Kerry banner ads use an embedded IFRAME (See Both banner ad schemes allow the campaigns to track visitors to any Web pages where the banner ads appear. In addition, the Bush JavaScript scheme allows the Bush Web server to run any script code inside of other people's Web pages. This scheme doesn't strike me as a very good idea from a security standpoint.

  5. Both candidates have good Web site privacy policies. The Kerry Web site privacy policy is also certified by Truste and BBBOnline. I didn't realize that Truste is now offering a trustworthiness rating service for politicians. The Bush campaign probably should get their Truste logo ASAP. ;-)

  6. It appears that the open source vs. closed source debate has also entered the presidential campaign. The Kerry home page comes from an Apache Web server running on a Red Hat Linux box. The Bush Web site on the other hand is hosted on a more corporate Microsoft-powered IIS 5.0 server and uses ASP.NET. I did not check to see if this IIS server is up to date with Microsoft security patches.

I'd have to say the UNIX based server environment is probably much more secure than the Microsoft powered solution, but that depends a great deal on the server administration folks.

4 July 2004

Creativity Machines can solve just about any problem in any field

Stephen Thaler and his Creativity Machine

But you can wager that an early primary focus will be on waging more effective warfare. To kill with greater precision.

Thaler, too, is engineering independent robots. A glossy, black, plastic cockroach named H3 could be the prototype for swarms of bunker-busting robots that could seek out, explore and use collective intelligence to defeat an enemy target. The U.S. Air Force has contracted Thaler to create such robots.

Robots, including Mars rovers, have been programmed with artificial intelligence before, Thaler said. But those robots require human engineers to program in leg movements and rules for getting around obstacles. Each unique encounter requires new programming, new rules, and time.

H3 gets no tutelage from Thaler at all. A sonar beacon beckons the robot, and H3's legs begin to flail. Every time the robot makes a movement that carries it closer to the signal, it learns the value of the move. Within a few seconds, the cockroach coordinates enough good moves to scuttle toward the signal.

Read about Imagination Engines Autonomous Targeting System or the bleeding edge of machine vision technology.

I think information, art and ideas should be shared

Michael Moore has no problem whatsoever regarding free downloads of Fahrenheit 911.
“I don’t agree with the copyright laws and I don’t have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labour. I would oppose that,” he said.

“I do well enough already and I made this film because I want the world, to change. The more people who see it the better, so I’m happy this is happening.”

Reportedly, director Quentin Tarantino is another in Moore's court on this matter.

Knowledge and artistic works should be shared freely – crass tenets of shallow materialism should not prevail here. Unless an entity wishes to profit financially from such a distribution.

2 July 2004

That doesn’t square with statistics reported by State Rep. Russell Pearce

Are the quoted statistics on crime and illegal immigrants accurate?
Scottsdale political analyst and campaign strategist Bob Grossfeld hurled some “cherry- bomb” charges against Maricopa County Attorney candidate Andrew Payton Thomas on The Sunday Square Off program on KPNX-TV. Grossfeld called Thomas’ slogan, “Stop Illegal Immigration,” xenophobic and accused him of pandering to voters at the expense of the illegals. “Now,” Grossfeld points out, “many people suspect, of course, that this is just good old-fashioned racism in fear of brown people dressed up in red, white and blue.” Grossfeld claims that, for the most part, the illegal immigrants “play by the rules.” That doesn’t square with statistics reported by State Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa last week. Eighty percent of violent crimes in Mesa are committed by illegals, as are 60 percent of homicides, Pearce told a stunned audience. Let the fireworks begin.

Pearce has made this claim before but I've not seen where that statistic was derived. A cursory search of web resources failed to turn up anything, but that doesn't necessarily invalidate the quote.

Read the Protect Arizona Now petition that was turned in yesterday with nearly 200,000 signatures.

1 July 2004

It’s just a gravy train

So says Marie deYoung, a former Army chaplain who worked for Halliburton, who charges her former employer with massive waste of taxpayer money, though I prefer the use of the term fraud.
DeYoung audited accounts for Halliburton’s subsidiary KBR.  She claims there was no effort to hold down costs because all costs were passed on directly to taxpayers.  She repeatedly complained to superiors of waste and fraud.  The company's response, according to deYoung was: "We can be as dumb and stupid as we want in the first year of a war, nobody’s going to care."

DeYoung produced documents detailing alleged waste even on routine services: $50,000 a month for soda, at $45 a case; $1 million a month to clean clothes — or $100 for each 15-pound bag of laundry.

"That money could have been used to take care of soldiers," she said.

DeYoung also claims people were paid to do nothing.  Mike West says he was one of them.  Paid $82,000 a year to be a labor foreman in Iraq, West claims he never had any laborers to supervise. "They said just log 12 hours a day and walk around and look busy," he said. "OK, so we did."