Friday, August 12, 2005
Jamie Gorelick turns out to be responsibleIt turns out that the Intelligence folks wanted some of the folks (including Atta) involved in 9/11 deported a long time before it happened. Ms. Gorelick's "wall of separation" prevented that from happening. I wonder why the staff working for the commission chose not to brief the commission on this little detail? Actually, I don't wonder, I am just happy to be vindicated in my assertion at the time that she should not have been on the panel due to the utterly obvious conflict of interest.
giving up one of my favorite toolsI am sorry to report that I have confirmed this story about Google being completely juvenile and putting their personal feeling ahead of their primary business mission.
For the next year, or until Google publicly apologizes for being so childish and reverses course I will not use Google under any circumstances. I have continued to use Google through their documented political moves in accepting some "offensive" ads but not others. This is America and even corporations are allowed to have a political opinion/slant. Technology sites are not, however, allowed to blackball useful information feeds because someone working for that feed chose to illustrate a point by publishing what that technology site itself turned up on one of its own executives in a search any of us could have done.
Live by the sword, lose my business because you can't deal with the consequences. Back to the much inferior technology but much less immature business of www.yahoo.com for me for the near future.
Time to feel inadequateIf you are male and can read this post on blackfive and not feel at least a little inadequate you are either:
1. Someone who either has earned the Medal of Honor, your nation's equivalent thereof, or should have.
2. You are an unrealistic pompous ass.
I am definitely not the former and despite the fact that I may be that latter, the story of Marine Sergeant Eddie Wright made me feel inadequate.... and proud.
Great Dilbert postOnly a fellow techie can truly appreciate this, but the rest of you might find it amusing as well.
Latest banking fraud scamI would like to start this post by saying that I am not picking on the bank in question. I am not a Wells Fargo customer and haven't been for a very long time. The following should not be seen as a knock on that bank but a reflection of the latest techniques to rip you off and make your life miserable. I assume that similar frauds are being perpetrated on my bank and yours.
This afternoon I received an email supposedly from Wells Fargo stating that my account may be in a bad state and that I needed to click on the link below and update my personal info to be able to send out checks from their home banking site. My first clue that this could be a fraud scam: I am not a Wells Fargo customer. I looked at the extended headers and determined that the email did not originate from Wells Fargo (my handle is mailgeek remember).
I then clicked on the link (this is not recommended for Windows users, or in TV speak, do not try this at home) to investigate. It took me to a site http://www.wellsfargo-now.com/.... which asked me to log in. I did with utterly bogus info and was handed a clearly (to the trained eye) bogus questionnaire asking me for my check card info and a bunch of other info that I am sure they really wanted to have.
Next, I went to http://wellsfargo.com. It looked exactly like the screen I got from the link in the email. I brought them up side by side and did a little analysis. The only difference was where the login screen was going to send me. These guys are good.
I sent email to the standard addresses at wellsfargo.com letting them know and then poked around their site and found a fraud report phone number. I called it. The gentleman I spoke with confirmed that this was a fraud spam message, took lots of details from me and had me forward the email to him. This is apparently the latest banking scam. Please don't fall for it.
If your bank needs you to do something you will find out via their standard site login. They will not send you to any non-standard domain to fix it. If you get an email like this and you use home banking please go login the same way you always do. If you don't get a notification that there is an issue that way, call them. You have probably been the attempted victim of a fraud artist. The gentleman at Wells Fargo was very appreciative of the fact that a non-customer was trying to help their customers. This is as it should be and gave me a big smile. It really feels good to do the right thing to help out your fellow citizens for completely selfless reasons. Try it!
TiresThe factory tires on my Camry wore out after about 30K miles. I then bought some HR rated tires from Goodyear and really liked the performance of them but they went out after 30K miles. I called my Goodyear guy and he recommended a new A rated tire. I know it is a sedan, but I actually like to drive. I don't like coming to a crawl to do a turn. I called several other places and they recommended the same tire. I gave in and bought a set.
Let me say that this is not your typical A rated tire. The performance in tight corners on dry pavement is much better than the factory tires. Also, the tire is the quietest thing I have ever run on any vehicle. At 75 mph (we can do that legally here) on the highway if you turn off the radio and the air you can hardly hear the tires for the wind noise.... Amazing. It finally rained here so I can now tell you that this tire's performance on wet pavement is much better than either the factory tires or the HRs I had been running. Further still, they are warrantied for 80K miles.
If you have a sedan or a minivan and are looking for tires I would highly recommend looking at Goodyear Assurance tires.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Where are the War Heroes?I have seen several posts on the inadequacy of the media's coverage of the war and the folks who are fighting it for us. Rantingprofs has one of the best I have seen. It is heartening to see the blame for the lack of coverage of the bravery of our soldiers placed where it belongs. Agree or disagree with the politicians on the strategy but the lack of coverage of unbelievable individual heroics is appalling.
Rantinprofs on pollsRantingprofs had a great post on how to look at a poll. This is tantamount to "lies, damn lies and statistics". Definitely worth a read for you political junkies out there. Dick Morris does the best explanation of this phenomenon that I have ever seen but this article is a close second.
ABA disqualifiedProfessor Brainbridge give us a great article on why the ABA rating should not matter:
In today's WSJ ($), ABA member and section leader Joseph Smith argues that the American Bar Association's rating of SCOTUS nominee John Roberts:
... should be viewed no differently from an opinion expressed by any other special-interest group. Yet that is not how ABA ratings are received by the public or used by politicians. The ABA knows this and takes advantage of it. That's why when the ABA releases its rating on Judge Roberts, it will do so without acknowledging political motives.
Democrats' new strategy: Almost winningMark Steyn hits the nail on the head again.
Yes, indeed. It was "nearly the biggest political upset in recent history," which is another way of saying it was actually the smallest political non-upset in recent history. Hackett was like a fast-forward rerun of the Kerry campaign. He was a veteran of the Iraq war, but he was anti-war, but he made solemn dignified patriotic commercials featuring respectful footage of President Bush and artfully neglecting to mention the candidate was a Democrat, but in livelier campaign venues he dismissed Bush as a "sonofabitch" and a "chicken hawk" who was "un-American" for questioning his patriotism.
Go read the whole thing.
Who?Captain's Quarters picks on a defenseless droid from the Des Moines Register. She is a sports reporter whose justification of why the MSM is more important/credible than the blogosphere:
Today I'll be talking with Dan McCarney. The bloggers won't.
I'll also be posing questions during Iowa State's media day to Bret Meyer, Todd Blythe and Jason Scales.
The bloggers won't.
Monday, I'll be chatting with Kirk Ferentz.
The bloggers won't.
I'll also get in a word at Iowa's media day with Drew Tate.
The bloggers won't.
Tuesday, I'll interview Mark Farley at Northern Iowa's media day.
The bloggers won't.
Read the whole thing for a laugh.
another good article on the 14 marinesWizbang hits the nail on the head about the stupidity of the coverage of this tragedy.
Wolfe Blitzer still talking out his buttA great post from iraqnow on MSM coverage of the tragedy of the IED killing 14 US service men. The key quote:
That's right. The explosion flipped a 31-ton APC.
And what is Wolf Blitzer's argument? That the military didn't provide good vehicles in the Al Anbar Province. And that -- and I quote verbatim, -- "an up-armored Humvee would have stood a better chance."
Do the math. If the explosion flipped vehicle weight 31 tons (plus another ton and a half or so of marines and gear), then what are the survivability chances of a 4-ton uparmored Humvee?
Clue #1: Journalism majors don't do a lot of math classes..... or in Wolfe's case math classes and logic classes.
Female sports reports in male locker roomsI posted the following in the comments section for this post from Vox.
I was in high school sports when this stupid court ruling came down. I was thrilled. You obviously can't let female reporters in a high school boys locker room, so all reporters were banned from the locker room. This is as it should be at all levels of sports for men and women IMHO. The locker room should go back to be a place where only the team, coaches and staff are ever allowed.
Reporters would ask for interviews with certain players who would go outside the locker room either before hitting the showers or in their street clothes immediately after.
Just my $0.02.
His post starts with this:
Because for a long time, the myth has existed that female sports reporters are able to conduct themselves inside a male team's locker room more professionally than men could do inside a women's locker room. And that's stupid.
I largely agree with this, but then Vox goes on to say:
Male reporters, generally speaking, don't have unfettered access to women's locker rooms. The reason is simple and obvious: For the most part, we're perverted scum. We couldn't handle it.
That I totally agree with. It isn't our fault but it is true :-)
Is your sense of humor as strange as mine?SlagleRock posts The 213 things Skippy is not allowed to do in the US Army. It took me 20 minutes to read it because I kept having to find tissues to wipe the tears from my eyes from laughing so hard. Your mileage may vary but I loved it.
Bill Press continues to prove he skipped schoolBill Press's "article" titled "Intelligent design ... isn't" is a hoot for anyone who didn't skip science class. Evolution is one of those hot button issues so I will start, for the sake of clarity, with my own opinion before quoting Mr. Press.
Darwin posed essentially two separate theories on evolution, micro-evolution and macro-evolution. When lay people talk about Darwin's theory of evolution they are usually talking about macro-evolution as micro-evolution is not controversial. Micro-evolution is considered proven scientific fact. Darwin posed the postulate, it was eventually accepted by the scientific community and has been not only proven to be possible in a lab but observed outside of the lab many times. There are no other competing theories to micro-evolution to explain those observations and it is accepted by everyone I know of who didn't sleep through high school biology. Individual species change in small ways over time. Some genetic freaks turn out to be stronger than their "normal" peers and survive to spread that new characteristic. Other genetic freaks turn out to be weak and die off before reproducing. Survival of the fittest (or Darwinism if you prefer) at its best.
Macro-evolution, as described in Darwin's "Origin of the Species", on the other hand is not accepted scientific fact. Darwin himself stepped away from the theory before his death and there is little evidence to support it. The idea posed by Darwin is that all life forms, both plant and animal, evolved from a single source. All species have a single common ancestor from which new species evolved. This is a very controversial statement for a lot of reasons. There is no observed instance of this outside of the lab and to my knowledge nobody has managed to even make it happen in a lab with a surviving result. We are not talking about modifying a segment of a species population, we are talking about making a new species through the normal reproduction processes of that species.
The trick here is two fold. First, we have no competing scientific theory to explain the existence of the vast numbers of species on the planet. Intelligent Design does not explain how this could have occurred. My understanding is that it does not attempt to. It merely says that there is substantial evidence that however all the species came to be it must have been guided by an intelligent source because the odds of it happening randomly are so unbelievably small. Either of these theories COULD be proven to be correct without disproving the other. Likewise, either could be disproven and not prove the other correct. They are not mutually exclusive. Many scientists, like many people, have a hard time with "I don't know" and this explains the blindness that has people who did well in biology class defending macro-evolution instead of putting it where I do. It is a quaint little unproven theory from a brilliant guy who denounced it later in his life. It hasn't been proven or disproven and isn't likely to be in my lifetime. We simply do not know how the species came to be from a scientific point of view.
The second trick here is religion. Many people, apparently including Mr. Press, believe that not wholeheartedly supporting macro-evolution and teaching it as scientific fact to kids in school is somehow an imposition of religion into science. These people are very small minded. God could have created all of the species through the process of macro-evolution as Darwin originally envisioned it. Mr. Press claims to be a believing Roman Catholic and he, wrongly, believes that macro-evolution is proven scientific fact. So why is it such a leap for people like him to make the leap to not teach either macro-evolution or the existence of the Hebrew God as fact in science class? I believe in the Hebrew God and Mr. Press claims to as well. I do not believe macro-evolution as Darwin envisioned it will ever be proven to be fact. Mr. Press has a misguided belief that it already has been. He is not right, but I could also be wrong on this topic. Neither of us probably finds either reality at odds with the Bible. Many of us just believe that presenting the reality to children will not lead to bringing out Genesis in biology class. I believe that Jesus turned water into wine. A bunch of people saw him do it. I haven't a clue HOW. I don't let that alter my belief that he managed it somehow. I wouldn't teach it as scientific fact in a chemistry class.
Let me make one more point before giving you the highlight quotes from Mr. Press. I stated above that God could have created the species via evolution which would make the Bible, Darwin's macro-evolution, and Intelligent Design all correct. Likewise, we could learn that we were created as a big science experiment being conducted by a highly advanced alien race (I seriously doubt this but nobody can prove it isn't true). That would make Intelligent Design correct and my Bible a fallacy. Evolution may or may not have been used by the alien creatures to create us. Scientifically, I have no problem with that. I BELIEVE that there is a God who made all of this happen but it isn't a scientific theory yet alone a scientific fact. It is based on a belief system not any evidence. While I believe Intelligent Design is still somewhat weak, the basic premise has much more evidentury support than macro-evolution at this time.
I have no particular position on teaching Intelligent Design within the bounds of it's scientific scope in high school biology. I do strongly believe that we have to teach micro-evolution as fact and macro-evolution as unproven. And then we have to say that this is one of many things in nature that we just cannot completely explain with science at this time.
Before leaving for another five weeks on his Texas ranchette, Bush told a clutch of Texas reporters that he believes the so-called theory of "intelligent design" should be taught in public school science classes, right up there alongside evolution. Demonstrating what little intelligence he has himself, Bush said: "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought."
No, Mr. President. What education is all about is teaching students the facts, and teaching them the truth. It is not about confusing fact with fiction. Nor is it about mixing science with religion. And make no mistake about it, the bogus doctrine called "intelligent design" has nothing to do with science. It is nothing but poorly disguised religion.
I agree with Mr. Press that we should teach students facts. But we should not teach them things are facts when they are not. That is poorly teaching religion, not teaching science well. A big part of teaching science is, in fact, teaching "different schools of thought". Much of science is unproven. In some cases there are competing theories. In those cases you teach multiple theories along with their strengths and weaknesses.
According to intelligent designer backers, certain higher forms of life Â like cell structure, molecular design or the human eye Â are too complex for us to understand. They couldn't have just evolved that way. They must have been set in motion ahead of time by some intelligent designer: namely, God (unless you believe in space aliens).
This is, first of all, a ridiculous theory. There are a lot of things we don't understand. I don't know how my TIVO works, but that doesn't mean God made it. Besides, throughout history, our understanding and knowledge have grown with the advance of science Â which is one good reason for not derailing science by replacing or confusing it with fairy tales.
The first part of this is just a lie. Again, having clearly slept through biology class, Mr. Press may not know that, but it is a lie. No scientist I know of, whether they support Intelligent Design or macro-evolution or both or neither, claims that we don't understand cell structure, molecular design, how the eye works, etc. We don't know how that structure came to BE but we certainly understand how it all works at a biological and chemical level.
The second part is a classic head fake. Not only do I understand how my TIVO works (I am a computer geek after all), I understand how it came to be. He doesn't understand how it works but certainly understands how it came to be (unless he believes that space aliens brought it to some guy in garage in CA). Further, nobody in the Intelligent Design lobby is asking to replace Darwin's unproven theory with theirs. They are asking that both unproven theories be taught as such. To teach macro-evolution as fact is to derail science by changing the threshold of proof for political and anti-religious reasons.
The main argument made by intelligent design proponents is that evolution is still not 100 percent proven. Which is ridiculous. Maybe we haven't yet discovered physical evidence linking every single step in the growth from slime to slug to sloth to sleuth. But there is zero physical evidence for intelligent design. It's just a zany theory. Period. I'll take 98 percent over zero any day.
Just in case you thought I was kidding when I said he thinks it is proven. And by the way, Mr. Press, 98% isn't good enough in the scientific world to call something a fact (not that macro-evolution is anywhere close to that level of proof). We call such things accepted theory rather than proven scientific fact. Macro-evolution does not even rise to the level of accepted theory due to the very high percentage of scientists who do not accept it. It is a theory accepted in some circles and not in others.
Go ahead and oppose teaching Intelligent Design to high school kids. I have no dog in that fight having not studied the theory in great depth. Stop teaching kids that things which are not only not proven but rejected by a large percentage of the scientific community as scientific fact. I don't even accept that kind behaviorour in my bible study.