31 August 2005

It was a very good year for bubble gum

Time for a little web exercise that's winding its way around the net. Here are the rules:
  1. Goto
  2. Enter the year you graduated from high school in the search function and get the list of 100 most popular songs of that year
  3. Bold the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate and underline your favorite. Do nothing to the ones you don't remember (or don't care about).

I believe every year was a good year for "bubble gum" music. Here is my marked up list for the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred eighty one.

1. Bette Davis Eyes, Kim Carnes
2. Endless Love, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
3. Lady, Kenny Rogers
4. (Just Like) Starting Over, John Lennon
5. Jessie's Girl, Rick Springfield
6. Celebration, Kool and The Gang
7. Kiss On My List, Daryl Hall and John Oates
8. I Love A Rainy Night, Eddie Rabbitt
9. 9 To 5, Dolly Parton
10. Keep On Loving You, REO Speedwagon
11. Theme From "Greatest American Hero", Joey Scarbury
12. Morning Train (Nine To Five), Sheena Easton
13. Being With You, Smokey Robinson
14. Queen Of Hearts, Juice Newton
15. Rapture, Blondie
16. A Woman Needs Love, Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
17. The Tide Is High, Blondie
18. Just The Two Of Us, Grover Washington Jr.
19. Slow Hand, Pointer Sisters
20. I Love You, Climax Blues Band
21. Woman, John Lennon
22. Sukiyaki, A Taste Of Honey
23. The Winner Takes It All, Abba
24. Medley, Stars On 45
25. Angel Of The Morning, Juice Newton
26. Love On The Rocks, Neil Diamond
27. Every Woman In The World, Air Supply
28. The One That You Love, Air Supply
29. Guilty, Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb
30. The Best Of Times, Styx
31. Elvira, Oak Ridge Boys
32. Take It On The Run, REO Speedwagon
33. No Gettin' Over Me, Ronnie Milsap
34. Living Outside Myself, Gino Vannelli
35. Woman In Love, Barbra Streisand
36. Boy From New York City, Manhattan Transfer
37. Urgent, Foreigner
38. Passion, Rod Stewart
39. Lady (You Bring Me Up), Commodores
40. Crying, Don Mclean
41. Hearts, Marty Balin
42. It's My Turn, Diana Ross
43. You Make My Dreams, Daryl Hall and John Oates
44. I Don't Need You, Kenny Rogers
45. How 'Bout Us, Champaign
46. Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Pat Benatar
47. The Breakup Song, Greg Kihn Band
48. Time, Alan Parsons Project
49. Hungry Heart, Bruce Springsteen
50. Sweetheart, Franke and The Knockouts
51. Someone's Knockin', Terri Gibbs
52. More Than I Can Say, Leo Sayer
53. Together, Tierra
54. Too Much Time On My Hands, Styx
55. What Are We Doin' In Love, Dottie West
56. Who's Crying Now, Journey
57. De Do Do Do, De Da Da, Police
58. This Little Girl, Gary U.S. Bonds
59. Stop Draggin' My Heart Around, Stevie Nicks With Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
60. Giving It Up For Your Love, Delbert McClinton
61. A Little In Love, Cliff Richard
62. America, Neil Diamond
63. Ain't Even Done With The Night, John Cougar
64. Arthur's Theme, Christopher Cross
65. Another One Bites The Dust, Queen
66. Games People Play, Alan Parsons Project
67. I Can't Stand It, Eric Clapton
68. While You See A Chance, Steve Winwood
69. Master Blaster, Stevie Wonder
70. Hello Again, Neil Diamond
71. Don't Stand So Close To Me, Police
72. Hey Nineteen, Steely Dan
73. I Ain't Gonna Stand For It, Stevie Wonder
74. All Those Years Ago, George Harrison
75. Step By Step, Eddie Rabbitt
76. The Stroke, Billy Squier
77. Feels So Right, Alabama
78. Sweet Baby, Stanley Clarke and George Duke
79. Same Old Lang Syne, Dan Fogelberg
80. Cool Love, Pablo Cruise
81. Hold On Tight, ELO
82. It's Now Or Never, John Schneider
83. Treat Me Right, Pat Benatar
84. Winning, Santana
85. What Kind Of Fool, Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb
86. Watching The Wheels, John Lennon
87. Tell It Like It Is, Heart
88. Smoky Mountain Rain, Ronnie Milsap
89. I Made It Through The Rain, Barry Manilow
90. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', Daryl Hall and John Oates
91. Suddenly, Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard
92. For Your Eyes Only, Sheena Easton
93. The Beach Boys Medley, Beach Boys
94. Whip It, Devo
95. Modern Girl, Sheena Easton
96. Really Wanna Know You, Gary Wright
97. Seven Year Ache, Rosanne Cash
98. I'm Coming Out, Diana Ross
99. Miss Sun, Boz Scaggs
100. Time Is Time, Andy Gibb

Lots of John Lennon, REO Speedwagon, Neil Diamond (bleh) in that list.

Like the linked to post that spurred this entry, I have no recollection of many of these songs. Some people say that the age of 13 is where a young American could more likely recall and relish the tunes of the times. So allow me to markup the 1976 list.
» read more

Economics of disaster

From an email attributed to a NOLA rescue worker:
The poorest 20% (you can argue with the number -- 10%? 18%? no one knows) of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn't leave. The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in new orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn't be able to get out. The resources -- meaning, the political will -- weren't there to get them out.

Entire teams are working on nothing but evacuating the hospitals. All four of the major hospitals are beginning to flood. Critical patients have to get out or surely they will be lost. Generators cannot run forever; that's just the way it is. There are limited facilities to take those that are rescued and those that need to be evacuated. Anything that leaves by air leaves by helicopter. There are no runways for planes that aren't under water. Only one drivable way in and out.

Water everywhere and more keeps coming. Until they can do something about the three levees that are broken, more water will come and more water will kill. The water poses major health threats. Anyone with even a small open cut is prone to infection. Anyone who touches this water and touches his eyes, nose or mouth without find a way to "clean" himself first will be sick with stomach problems before long. It's bad and it's getting worse. It's not going to be anything better than devastating for days or weeks at best.

Meanwhile, during the greatest natural disaster in American history, the president is playing guitar and sharing cake.

And while much of the Louisiana National Guard has been yanked away to a foreign land, there are serious questions posed on why we weren't better prepared to deal with the impending Katrina emergency.

Point: The first thing I don't understand is why there isn't a line of Chinooks and Sea Kings bringing food to that god-damned dome, and taking people away. The sky should be black with them. There should be a line of helicopters from Atlanta to New Orleans.

Point: Why is FEMA, the one Federal agency that was once beholden to no one, and able to tell everyone from the Army on down what to do, now under control of the Dept. Of Homeland Security? Now, instead of being able to order goverment agencies to comply under their logistical control, they have to ask. As a result, the Coast Guard and National Guard, which used to have to drop everything at their behest, are now kind of operating on their own with no logistical advice.

Point: Why are the national guards of, say, North Dakota and Utah still sitting in their houses watching CNN?

25 August 2005

The engine of American foreign policy has been fueled not by a devotion to any kind of morality, but rather by the necessity to serve other imperatives

Famed television evangelist and past Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson incited a media fracas over his over-the-air comments on his desire to have a democratically elected leader of a South American country "taken out". Of course, it's not the first time Robertson has committed such an egregious verbal gaffe, compiling a colossal compendium of such "foot in mouth" moments. I reckon when you can leg press 2,000 pounds, all of that brawny mass starts to interfere with one's cognitive capacity.

Besides illustrating what a blasted hypocrite Robertson is, in lieu of his support for autocratic dictators in other parts of the world, and showcasing himself to be a total embarrassment to Christians all around the globe, there's something more sinister at stew here. That being the underreported history of the United States engaging in such activity on a regular basis in recent times.

Any surprise at the notion of killing foreign leaders expressed by U.S. officials is certainly to be questioned -- since World War II, the U.S. has plotted to assassinate more than 40 foreign political leaders, most recently Saddam Hussein and his two sons. Of course, the U.S. attempted to overthrow Chavez in a failed coup attempt in 2002 and, through the National Endowment for Democracy, tried to remove him through referendum, so assassination is only one of the ways the U.S. government illegitimately interferes in the affairs of other states.

Not all of those targets were dastardly tyrants, and more than a few were democratically elected populist leaders, who angered the ranks of the wealthy and powerful. And it's a great part of the "blowback" that goes unheeded by a grossly misinformed American public.

So, what imperatives do these covert (and overt) campaigns serve?

  • making the world safe for American corporations

  • enhancing the financial statements of defense contractors at home who have contributed generously to members of congress

  • The bad idea behind our failed health-care system

    Here is an excellent article on how the health care mess is the deliberate consequence of the way in which American policymakers have come to think about health insurance.
    One of the great mysteries of political life in the United States is why Americans are so devoted to their health-care system. Six times in the past century — during the First World War, during the Depression, during the Truman and Johnson Administrations, in the Senate in the nineteen-seventies, and during the Clinton years — efforts have been made to introduce some kind of universal health insurance, and each time the efforts have been rejected. Instead, the United States has opted for a makeshift system of increasing complexity and dysfunction. Americans spend $5,267 per capita on health care every year, almost two and half times the industrialized world's median of $2,193; the extra spending comes to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. What does that extra spending buy us? Americans have fewer doctors per capita than most Western countries. We go to the doctor less than people in other Western countries. We get admitted to the hospital less frequently than people in other Western countries. We are less satisfied with our health care than our counterparts in other countries. American life expectancy is lower than the Western average. Childhood-immunization rates in the United States are lower than average. Infant-mortality rates are in the nineteenth percentile of industrialized nations. Doctors here perform more high-end medical procedures, such as coronary angioplasties, than in other countries, but most of the wealthier Western countries have more CT scanners than the United States does, and Switzerland, Japan, Austria, and Finland all have more MRI machines per capita. Nor is our system more efficient. The United States spends more than a thousand dollars per capita per year — or close to four hundred billion dollars — on health-care-related paperwork and administration, whereas Canada, for example, spends only about three hundred dollars per capita. And, of course, every other country in the industrialized world insures all its citizens; despite those extra hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year, we leave forty-five million people without any insurance. A country that displays an almost ruthless commitment to efficiency and performance in every aspect of its economy — country that switched to Japanese cars the moment they were more reliable, and to Chinese T-shirts the moment they were five cents cheaper —has loyally stuck with a health-care system that leaves its citizenry pulling out their teeth with pliers

    Those numbers just don't add up to a healthy health care system and efforts to address the mess are held captive, due to the erroneous application of the concept of "moral hazard" to health care. And Health Savings Accounts are a terrible idea — the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States is unpaid medical bills.

    22 August 2005

    Meet the new boss – worse, in many respects, than the old boss

    Justin Raimondo asks "Why are we still in Iraq", considering that we are killing innocents, decimating the country, and enabling tyrants.
    Cindy Sheehan is camped outside George W. Bush's Crawford ranch, demanding to know why her son — and 1,800-plus other American soldiers, as well as tens of thousands of uncounted Iraqis — had to die in this bitter war, and the answer is: to install sharia law in southern Iraq and deliver the country over to parties for whom the Ayatollah Khomeini is a hero.

    The criminality of this war is exacerbated by the utter evil of the cretins we've catapulted into power. During World War II, the massive bombing campaigns – including the gratuitous nuking of two Japanese cities and the firebombing of Dresden – involved massive loss of civilian lives, yet the victors could at least claim that an imperfect means was utilized to achieve a desirable result. Not so in this instance: the "liberation" of Iraq is turning out to be a cruel joke.

    The main argument against an immediate U.S. withdrawal is that our absence would have to mean civil war: but that is preferable to the imposition of the tyranny that is taking shape under the suzerainty of the U.S. occupation. In any case, civil strife has already begun in Iraq, with the Shi'ites and Kurds firing the first shots, albeit under the color of state authority. The Shi'ite party militias, merging into the Iraqi "police," have become death squads. The "El Salvador option" is now fully operational. The longer we remain in Iraq, the more we become complicit in the consolidation of at least two vicious tyrannies, and a reign of terror that can have no moral or political justification.

    It's a question I keep posing to my fellow Americans too.

    17 August 2005

    Bring back the real Republicans

    An excellent, on-target assessment of the neoconservative cabal currently in power.
    No, seriously. Remember Republicans? Sober men in suits, pipes, who'd nod thoughtfully over their latest tract on market-driven fiscal conservatism while grinding out the numbers on rocket science. Remember those serious-looking 1950's-1960's science guys in the movies -- Republican to a one.

    They were the grown-ups. They were the realists. Sure they were a bummer, maaaaan, but on the way to La Revolution you need somebody to remember where you parked the car. I was never one (nor a Democrat, really, more an agnostic libertarian big on the social contract, but we don't have a party ...), but I genuinely liked them.

    How did they become the party of fairy dust and make believe? How did they become the anti-science guys? The anti-fact guys? The anti-logic guys?

    Against stem cell research, against separation of church and state, overseeing of biggest surplus to biggest debt (not counting war, even), failure to plan post-invasion, fraudulent deceptions floated about WMD to justify an illegal immoral war, anti-conservation, inadequate troop armor, denial of consensus of scientists on global warming, over costly missle shield expenditures, etc.…

    16 August 2005

    Fitzgerald's investigation appears to be in its final stages

    Murray Waas is still in relentless pursuit of the PlameGate story, penning this piece on the cozy Attorney General Ashcroft relationship with Karl Rove and its impact on the investigation.
    Several of the federal investigators were also deeply concerned that then attorney general John Ashcroft was personally briefed regarding the details of at least one FBI interview with Rove, despite Ashcroft's own longstanding personal and political ties to Rove, the Voice has also learned. The same sources said Ashcroft was also told that investigators firmly believed that Rove had withheld important information from them during that FBI interview.

    During his initial interview with the FBI, in the fall of 2003, Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed Plame with Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper, according to two legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter. Federal investigators were also skeptical of claims by Rove that he had only first learned of Plame's employment with the CIA from a journalist, even though he also claimed he could not specifically recall the name of the journalist.

    As the truthfulness of Rove's accounts became more of a focus of investigators, career Justice Department employees and senior FBI officials became even more concerned about the continuing role in the investigation of Ashcroft, because of his close relationship with Rove. Rove had earlier served as an adviser to Ashcroft during the course of three political campaigns. And Rove’s onetime political consulting firm had been paid more than $746,000 for those services.

    In response to these new allegations, Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the current ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and former chairman of the committee as well, said in a statement: "There has long been the appearance of impropriety in Ashcroft's handling of this investigation. The former attorney general had well documented conflicts of interest in this matter, particularly with regard to his personal relationship with Karl Rove. Among other things, Rove was employed by Ashcroft throughout his political career, and Rove reportedly had fiercely advocated for Ashcroft's appointment as attorney general. Pursuant to standard rules of legal ethics, and explicit rules on conflict of interest, those facts alone should have dictated his immediate recusal. The new information, that Ashcroft had not only refused to recuse himself over a period of months, but also was insisting on being personally briefed about a matter implicating his friend, Karl Rove, represents a stunning ethical breach that cries out for an immediate investigation by the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility and Inspector General."

    Sort of like telling an obese person not to eat those doughnuts.

    What are the odds that the corrupt Bush cabal can outstonewall Mr. Fitzgerald?

    14 August 2005

    Cindy has lit a spark where Americans can identify with the human costs of the war

    Cindy Sheehan has stolen President Bush's "frame" in her Crawford, Texas vigil, that asks what noble cause her son died for. Crawford, Texas is now the epicenter of the anti-war protest, complete with counter-protestors in support of the President.

    Sheehan is prominently featured in a new television ad sponsored by Gold Star Families for Peace that continues to probe the President for the truth about the reasons for the illegal, immoral Iraq invasion.

    He was only 24 and he died in his best friend’s arms," Sheehan says in the ad, directed at President Bush. "Casey was so good and so honest why can’t you be honest with us?"

    "You were wrong about the weapons of mass destruction-you were wrong about the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda—you lied to us and because of your lies my son died," she adds.

    Sheehan has handled herself admirably, despite the onslaught of neconservative attack poodles who salivate for the blood of a grief stricken mother.

    This story continues to heat up, and you can follow along with Cindy's online diary or local KXXT 1010 AM radio producer Ernie Hancock who's journeyed to Crawford and is posting frequent audio updates. Or the Lone Star Iconoclast, local Crawford newspaper, and their coverage of Camp Casey.

    9 August 2005

    Portland's top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage — so we grabbed theirs

    A story about perusing your rubbish. Residents of Portland, Oregon discovered recently that the contents of their trash was not protected once it is "put out".
    The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office doesn't think so. Prosecutor Mark McDonnell says that once you set your garbage out on the curb, it becomes public property.

    "She placed her garbage can out in the open, open to public view, in the public right of way," McDonnell told Judge Jean Kerr Maurer earlier this month. "There were no signs on the garbage, 'Do not open. Do not trespass.' There was every indication...she had relinquished her privacy, possessory interest."

    Police Chief Mark Kroeker echoed this reasoning. "Most judges have the opinion that [once] trash is put's trash, and abandoned in terms of privacy," he told WW.

    In fact, it turns out that police officers throughout Oregon have been rummaging through people's trash for more than three decades. Portland drug cops conduct "garbage pulls" once or twice per month, says narcotics Sgt. Eric Schober.

    So these muckraking journalists decided to turn the tables, and deliver the same treatment to the region's District Attorney and Police Chief.

    6 August 2005

    Consider the implications if the Bush administration escapes accountability

    Paul Craig Roberts issues a scathing indictment of a "watchdog media" that is serving as propaganda shills for the Bush administration. After making the point that the current scandals dwarf those of Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton, he targets the concentration of media and its acquiescence to the corrupt powers in American government.
    The executive branch will have established itself as above the law.

    The executive, armed with a compliant media, will have war-making power subject only to successful PR spin. It means the final end of the people's right to declare war via elected representatives in Congress.

    The few remaining restraints on the executive's ability to detain people indefinitely without charges will be removed. This power will silence the Internet.

    Spiteful neighbors, employees, former spouses, whomever will gain the power to report any disliked person. The anti-terrorist apparatus needs victims to demonstrate its effectiveness, and as warrants, hearings, and evidence are no longer required, Americans will simply disappear like Soviet citizens in the Stalin era.

    While it is debatable that mainstream media outlets have ever had a greater than rare thread of independence inherent in them (of recent note, see the story of a NY Times Pulitzer Prize winner, writing on the subject of Hiroshima atomic bombing, was actually on the payroll of the War department), Americans should be rightfully alarmed over the erosion of civil liberties, justified for the pursuit of the "global war on terror".

    On the speculation of "silencing the Internet", note that broadband providers are becoming as concentrated as mainstream media and frequently pull the plug on any content deemed questionable, and it's definitely not a matter of "innocent until proven guilty". That, in conjunction with warrantless detentions could conceivably put a deep freeze on freedom of expression.

    A letter by Army Sgt. John Bruhns

    An Iraq war veteran writes that President Bush has deceived the American public both about the reason for going to war in Iraq and the status of affairs in the invasion aftermath.
    I participated in the invasion, stayed in Iraq for a year afterward, and what I witnessed was the total opposite of what President Bush and his administration stated to the American people.

    The invasion was very confusing, and so was the period of time I spent in Iraq afterward. At first it did seem as if some of the Iraqi people were happy to be rid of Saddam Hussein. But that was only for a short period of time. Shortly after Saddam's regime fell, the Shiite Muslims in Iraq conducted a pilgrimage to Karbala, a pilgrimage prohibited by Saddam while he was in power. As I witnessed the Shiite pilgrimage, which was a new freedom that we provided to them, they used the pilgrimage to protest our presence in their country. I watched as they beat themselves over the head with sticks until they bled, and screamed at us in anger to leave their country. Some even carried signs that stated, "No Saddam, No America." These were people that Saddam oppressed; they were his enemies. To me, it seemed they hated us more than him.

    Saudi Arabia will in coming decades be unable to maintain its current level of oil production, with large-economic repercussions

    Matthew Simmons, author of Twilight in the Desert participated in an online Washington Post live chat session on the topic of Saudi Oil and the World Economy. Simmons has been writing for the last few years on how the Saudis have over represented their oil reserves.
    The biggest worry I have as a result of doing the research on Saudi Arabia's oil is that there is a real risk that they have already exceeded sustainable peak oil production and the longer the produce at current risk the higher the risk that they could start into a production collapse. If that turns out to be true than the odds are 95% that the world has then exceeded sustained peak oil production. What the people that get into the peak oil debate often don't think about is that peak oil is not the maximum amount of oil you could produce in a single day, it's realistically the amount you could produce per day for at least a half decade. Therefore it could already be happening. And we'll never know that until we get better data.

    Simmons responds to a recent Washington Post article by Daniel Yergin, of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, who paints a much more rosy picture regarding global oil reserves.

    I'm one of three co-authors of an op-ed piece that we have just submitted to The Washington Post that hopefully will get published. What the three of us collectively feel is that it is a very unrealistic assesment, it is not a detailed, bottom up field by field, they ignore by and large depletion issues, and it's based on an enormous belief that technology and enthusiasm and urgency will create new oil supplies. That is precisely the same logic that CERA used very loudly in 2001 and 2002 to dispute the critics views that natural gas in North America was running into trouble. And it took less than 24 months after they had dismissed any problems in natural gas before they made a discovery that we had a natural gas crisis. I think what they're doing being as casual on future oil supplies, let alone predicting we're headed toward another oil glut, is doing the world a great disservice.

    On Friday, crude oil prices settled at a new high, $62 a barrel. Next week, oil prices are expected to "…break the all-time record…". Still, it would have to rise to $90 a barrel to equate the inflation adjusted high set in 1980.

    5 August 2005

    Four-year non-stop album-rock block!

    I'm definitely no expert on radio or rock & roll. But I knows what I likes when I hears it ... and I likes KCDX 103.1 FM out of Florence, AZ!

    Everyone knows that the playlists of most "classic rock" stations these days are pretty tired: Zeppelin. Floyd. Stones. Aerosmith. Repeat.

    Well boomer-era rockers, point your browsers at, click the "Listen Online" link, and prepare to hear songs you haven't heard since at least the Carter administration.

    I first read about KCDX in a September '03 Phoenix New Times article called "Ghost Radio." Sounded cool ... way cool! Problem was, the station is situated in the Sonoran desert about halfway between Tucson and Phoenix, and their signal just plain don't reach up into my neck of the Valley.

    I don't know if they were broadcasting online back then, but it wouldn't have mattered. I didn't have suitable computer equipment or high-speed internet back then. So KCDX fell off my radar.

    Fast Forward to about a year ago, when we finally got a cable modem connection for our newer Mac. I was working at the computer one day, and suddenly recalled that magical mystery transmitter I'd read about a year earlier. After a quick Google search, BAM! I was receivin'!

    A repertoire that's so classic it's fresh ... no commercials or announcers ... and of course, an online playlist (to help you recall the songs and artists when those "senior moments" hit you) ...

    Go on and check it out, rock and roll fan ... Now!

    8:15 am on Aug. 6, 1945

    60 years ago, the United States dropped an atomic bomb code-named "Little Boy" over Hiroshima, Japan.

    Some perspectives on this historic event that changed the world forever.

    Was it the right call? Do you accept that civilians are acceptable targets in a war between nation states?

    There are billions of people who want your job, and your government is doing all they can to see that you lose it to them

    I have written in the past on the industry lobbyist desire to subvert American workers, but in this posting, I wish to share a personal story. It may well result in me not getting the job, but I believe that it's of utmost importance to spill the beans here.

    Recently, I've been engaged in negotiations with a large multinational corporation for a job position of critical systems importance. Well, not exactly — it's a post with an "offshore vendor" firm but my candidacy is predicated on past relationships with those still gainfully employed by this company I shall not name. My application, despite strong backing from a cadre of management sources, appears to be in weak status because I am unable to consent to the low salary offered and the offshore vendor is reluctant to deviate from a dictated rate maxim that stipulates a blend of offshore and onshore programmers not exceed a figure set far below the industry average commiserate with such a position.

    It's so sad and disheartening to see friends struggle to accomodate such a clusterfuck of organizational vertigo. Many of my former colleagues confess that their primary goal is impending retirement, and only self preservation is paramount. Yet I am a fish swimming in uncertain waters too, all too eager to sacrifice principles for a steady paycheck. I listen to a company offical admit that a big reason he dials my cell phone is the cap on foreign worker visas that has him concerned over support of computer systems he oversees. Then I think of all the young Americans seeking a career in Information technology or those older Americans displaced by the influx of immigrants and offshore workers, and it angers me greatly. Furthermore, my own Senators cherish the unfettered destruction of my profession.

    Yet, still, I must read drivel about how our young are unwilling to pursue careers in engineering and science, when it is painfully obvious why this is so. To add another cruel insult, even when displaced engineers and programmers go back to school to get education degrees, they face competition from the recruitment of imported teachers.

    Some will say that this is just plain economics, the forces of supply and demand, and affected professionals will have to deal with this reality just like manufacturing workers in the 1980s or that old refrain about horse and buggy drivers. The first half of the assertion is true — all have to play with the cards dealt, and know when to fold and pursue a career in a different field. The last part is pure nonsense, however, as these skilled jobs requiring math and science educational backgrounds are not being rendered obsolete — they are being shifted to foreign centers and/or non-immigrant visa workers. And conceivably, the labor supply in any work discipline could be flooded with enough foreign substitutes to drive wages down to minimum wage levels. Sadly, our government leaders and industry lobbyists support the removal of all caps and restrictions on such corporate behavoir. Is that really good for America, to embrace a nihilist strategy that diverts all of our research and production offshore? All we will end up with are careers in law, sales, marketing, soldiering, and military procurement.

    3 August 2005

    Freedom in jail

    After the senseless destruction he observed while stationed in Iraq in 2003, US Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman became a conscientious objector to war, applied for CO status and refused to return to Iraq with his unit for a second tour last January.

    The Army charged the 10-year veteran with Desertion and Missing Movement by Design. Last week, Sgt. Benderman was found not guilty of Desertion, but was convicted of Missing Movement and sentenced to 15 months confinement.

    Although I do not agree with the pacifistic basis of Sgt. Benderman's decision not to return to Iraq, I support fully his decision to obey his conscience. And I greatly respect his willingness to stand and face his accusers, to make his best case, and to take the legal consequences of his decision, rather than going AWOL or fleeing the country.

    As a Christian I am convinced that, just as the Bible permits an individual to use deadly force to defend himself or his family from criminal attack, it also permits a nation's rulers to go to war to defend their nation when another nation aggresses against them. Thus, I believe that across-the-board pacifism — the general philosophy of "non-violence" — is unbiblical. But because the Bible also teaches that God alone is Lord of a man's conscience, I support Sgt. Benderman's actions, which he has taken out of obedience to his conscience.

    I had once hoped to counsel my three sons (ages 17, 14 and 12) to serve our country by doing at least one hitch in the Marines or the Army. (I'm a USAF vet, and didn't think the USAF was "military enough.") But over the last several years, I've come to realize that the chances they would be ordered into an unjust military action were too great to take that chance, and our invasion of Iraq is but the latest example. So now I'm counseling my boys not to volunteer for military duty — unless we go to war because of an actual or imminent attack by an enemy force. (And if that ever happened, I'd be right behind them, asking the recruiter if they could still use a 40-something jet engine mechanic who also knows how to shoot!)

    Re. Sgt. Benderman's sentence, Debbie Clark writes:
    Cpt. Gary Rowley, the ... company commander who had been flown in from Iraq to testify against Kevin, was quoted as saying, "He got what he deserved. He's doing 15 months in prison. We're serving 12 months in Iraq."

    I have to admit that Cpt. Rowley does have a point there and, in that respect, Kevin has definitely got the sweeter deal. How much better to serve 15 months in prison as a free man of conscience than to serve 12 months in Iraq fighting an illegal war.
    I'm grateful for Sgt. Benderman's honorable service and moral courage, and I hope that he will ultimately prevail against the Army. Keep him and his wife, Monica, in your prayers. Our nation desperately needs more conscientious men and women in the ranks of her military. May Sgt. Benderman's desire to do what is right, rather than what is merely expedient, inspire scores of others.

    2 August 2005

    The Under-reported Purge of the U.S. Officer Corps

    Scientist and popular author David Brin believes that the "ferocious and relentless political purge" of the U.S. Officer Corps is the most critical issue of our time. And the liberals who are complicit in this matter for their very reluctance to address it.
    Today, only a few Democratic politicians will even comment on flagrant efforts by right-wing forces to politicize the intelligence and military communities. Nor are many members of those communities speaking up. Most are forbidden to do so until they retire. And even retirees (a rapidly growing group, as top officers resign) are reticent out of habit.

    Still, they will speak, if you ask. If anybody bothers to ask. And I've had recent opportunities. As a frequent consultant on issues of "future threats to national defense," I was recently invited to speak at conferences on "Future WMD Dangers" and "Terror Threats to Soft Targets". (The latter was especially frightening, as we studied vulnerabilities of our schools, airports and shopping malls, charged to come up with imaginative ways to defend them.) At such conferences I get to listen to intelligence and military officers after hours, in the bar, when they can let their hair down. Off the record, of course. And even after a few drinks, they are still generally more guarded and circumspect than a civilian would be at any time. So I'll respect them by not naming names or even places. But they do talk, in general terms, about plummeting morale.

    And make no mistake, things are getting VERY bad, boys and girls. The Officer Corps is being assaulted from both ends.

    While radical congressmen are stocking the military academies with young fanatics, filling the pipeline with extremist zealots...