Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise
-- Golden Gate Bridge at dawn. By Dennis Callahan.

RANDOM JOTTINGS a weblog by John Weidner

Main Page Archive

Natalie Solent
Dave Trowbridge
Betsy Newmark
Bill Quick
Suman Palit
Moira Breen
Andrea Harris
Richard Bennett
Iain Murray
Joanne Jacobs
Craig Schamp
Dean Esmay
Brothers Judd
Doctor Frank
Rand Simberg
Punning Pundit
Right Wing News
Brian Tiemann
Henry Hanks

Iraqi Democracy graphic

Powered by Blogger Pro™

Index to Krugman posts

Index to World War One posts


Saturday, November 16, 2002

divine day-dreams ...

... And yet a little story of a shipwrecked sailor, with not a tenth part of the style nor a thousandth part of the wisdom, exploring none of the arcana of humanity and deprived of the perennial interest of love, goes on from edition to edition, ever young, while Clarissa [Harlow] lies upon the shelves unread. A friend of mine, a Welsh blacksmith, was twenty-five years old and could neither read nor write, when he heard a chapter of Robinson read aloud in a farm kitchen. Up to that moment he had sat content, huddled in his ignorance, but he left that farm another man. There were day-dreams, it appeared, divine day-dreams, written and printed and bound, and to be bought for money and enjoyed at pleasure. Down he sat that day, painfully learned to read Welsh, and returned to borrow the book. It had been lost, nor could he find another copy but one that was in English. Down he sat once more, learned English, and at length, and with entire delight, read Robinson.

--Robert Louis Stevenson, A Gossip on Romance

but I suggest death for dropping it on the sidewalk ...

Found in Tim Blair:
THE BENEFITS of free trade just keep on coming:
Singapore may lift its ban on chewing gum as part of a free trade agreement with the United States.
Chew the sweet gum of liberty, brothers!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

P. Krugman
57: "Shoulders to the wheel, comrades!"

We got what we expected in Paul Krugman's "Into the Wilderness" (11/08/02)–a cathartic assessment of the last election. At first we were inclined to let the whole thing go and respect his grieving. But then we decided a couple of comments are in order.

First, the tone of the column has an amusing side despite the forlorn content. It's somewhat reminiscent of the latter years of the Soviet Union and Leonid Brezhnev exhorting the workers (read Democrats) to put their shoulders to the wheel and try harder for the great cause despite tough odds against them. If only the mainstream media weren't so biased, if only the Republicans didn't have so much money, if only talk radio and Fox News weren't so prominent, if only Bush hadn't exploited the war on terror, etc, etc. He ends up urging the Democrats to move further left promoting class warfare and opposing tax cuts for the "rich." Some things will never change.

Second, and this is why we decided to comment on the column, Krugman apparently believes, truly believes, in his heart of heart believes, that the Bush administration as a matter of public policy is intent on promoting "crony capitalism" that will further destroy faith in our financial markets.

We find this mind-boggling. It seems to us that cleaning up the remnants of the ethical mess left by the 90s bubble and restoring faith in financial markets must be the number one priority of American capitalism. To believe otherwise would require a denial of the economic mechanism that brought us from the horse-and-buggy days to the jet-age in less than 100 years. That mechanism depended on confidence–both in markets and in companies. Without that confidence capital cannot be raised, investment cannot occur and the whole process atrophies.

Krugman would have us believe that Cheney and company would risk the restoration of confidence in American industry in order to promote some fast bucks for their Houston friends. This seems to be one of his never-ending capitalist conspiracies.

Paranoia is too vague of a description for this particular malady. The scientific term is nuts. Krugman is nuts and he belongs "Into the wilderness."

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions.You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]

Thursday, November 14, 2002

misc from Bricklin

Interesting thought from Dan Bricklin:
...That moment with the cell phone brought up another image I saw earlier in the day: A woman getting out of the driver's seat in her car and opening up the back door to take her small child out of a car seat while still clutching an object in her hand that she obviously felt was important -- her cell phone. I remember thinking: More and more I see people clutching their cell phones as a major source of comfort or something. It's like they are holding onto a railing when they walk down stairs: The cell phone gives them some sense of security. I feel that it represents a lifeline to the rest of our circle of important people, and we treat it as such. It's a space warp that connects us to others we need as we go through life. In today's complicated world, we can juggle our disconnected lives and make them connected by using technology like cell phones, email, IM, and digital cameras...
I know the feeling. If I lose my phone, my children will immediately be stuck by St Vitus Dance, and I won't be able to summon help....
...In my recording industry essay, I also point out how the huge increases in use of cell phones may explain some of the drop in music sales -- increasingly you see people walking or standing with cell phones pressed to their ears instead of wearing earphones from personal music systems...
* AND, kids now play games on their phones. I was waiting for an event at a High School today and saw 5 or 6 kids hunched over their phones, beep beep beep. Who needs music?
And here's something even more interesting:
Tuesday, October 15, 2002. This morning Trellix Corporation (of whom I am founder and CTO) announced that EarthLink will be using Trellix's technology to provide web site building and weblogging to its subscribers.

What should be exciting about this to the weblog community is that the approximately 5 million EarthLink subscribers are literally just a few clicks away from trying blogging. The version of Trellix Web Express they will be using for web site authoring asks you right up front if you want to have a blog as part of your web site. It even has a "What is a blog?" link right there...

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

my heart's been broken before, but ...

... could it be that the glaciers are starting to melt? Is this a premonitory sign that the Ice Age is not going to last forever?
Bush to Allow Private Sector Bids

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush plans to subject as many as 850,000 federal jobs to competition from the private sector, administration officials said Thursday, a sweeping reform long sought by Republicans and stiffly opposed by labor unions.

Nearly half of the government's civilian work force could be affected by the plan to be published in the Federal Register on Friday. After a 30-day public review period, Bush can impose the new rules without congressional approval...

...One reform would encourage agencies to complete competitive bid reviews within a year. Under current rules, the competitive bid process can take four years - a delay that scares off private sector bids, officials said.

Rules under which the government buys goods and services will be streamlined to allow for more competitive bidding, officials said.

The Government Accounting Office has determined that public-private competition will save taxpayers 30 percent on each contract...
What makes this morsel all the more flavorfull is that Bush has been reaching out to unions (or cozying-up to them, depending on who you ask) and all he got for it was a slap in the face. You had your chance, suckers. Now go ask Nancy for help...
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Ken fiddles while ...

Another good snippet from the Victor Hanson interview...
...The rise of big government, big corporations, and anonymous suburbs have created a sort of transience and unaccountability, enhanced by enormous wealth and materialism. The Clintons on the Left and the Enron people on the Right are good examples--the lifestyles of each, the similar improper financial deals, the abuse of language, the sense of entitlement, all that is the same. Bill Clinton is the Ken Lay of politics--pampered, insincere, duplicitious, felonious, smug, and star-struck. Both are reflections of the corruptions of the time; the one mouths concern for the poor, the other for free markets, but they both like Aspen, peddle influence, and share the same values...

Wednesday, November 13, 2002


Glenn Frazier has lots of info on the protests in Iran. (via Dave T)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Good Article on Karl Rove

...For all the differences between Rove and Bush, their similarities bound them from the start. They bonded over their shared disdain for the snobbery of East Coast élites and the culture of permissiveness of the 1960s. They both share a faith in their own instincts: Bush boasts about trusting his gut and the clear simple wisdom of the West Texas oil patch. Rove, the college dropout turned academic, cultivates an intellectual version of the same, considering himself a Natural—a self-taught big brain who devours histories and political tomes and applies what he learns to the art of winning races.

But the President's role in their symbiotic relationship is as often about taking his adviser down a notch as it is taking direction from him—which in light of Tuesday's victory may be what saves Rove from himself. There are the now famous nicknames Bush has for Rove (Boy Genius on good days, Turd Blossom on others), and there is the evident pleasure the President seems to take in putting Rove in his place. "Thank you for that brilliant idea," Bush will say mockingly when Rove is rambling on. And Bush seems to know when not to listen to his political adviser. It was Rove who argued in the summer of 2000 against picking Dick Cheney as Bush's running mate, citing Cheney's multiple heart attacks and lack of electoral appeal. Bush disagreed, of course, and his decision has paid off so handsomely that just last week the President announced that Cheney would be his running mate again in the 2004 campaign. Which shows that Karl Rove isn't the only one planning for the next election. (via Brothers Judd)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Citizen Response

There's a great Glenn Reynolds TCS column on citizen response to terrorist attacks.

San Francisco is way ahead on that one. We're accustomed to calamity, and have a strong program called NERTS (Neighborhood Emergency Response Team.) One important thing they emphasize is HAM Radio. (Those radios, by the way, have shrunk like all other electronics; you can put them in your pocket)

My son took a HAM class once, and when I was around I kept overhearing people saying "the nerds are doing this," or "the nerds do that." Finally I realized they were talking about NERTS! Their website is here, with a manual you can download.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Charlene: "The thing I like about Dean Koontz is that his villains are my villains. In this one the villain is a bio-ethicist"

we're still waiting ...

Year after introduction, Segway continues to stir the imagination — Dean Kamen’s Segway scooter was unveiled nearly a year ago, with a promise it would change transportation. Most people still are walking, but the device has been tested all over the country, more than half the states have rewritten laws to allow them on sidewalks as the machine attracts cheers and some jeers.

Letter carriers, police officers and meter readers from New Hampshire to San Francisco have had a ball testing the Segway and believe it’s useful — but many of their bosses have yet to buy.

Thirty-one states have rewritten laws to allow the Segway onto sidewalks, but the motorized scooter remains unavailable to the public...
It's gonna be great ... someday.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Happy Blirgday to Me

Now I've been blogging for one year. Not bad, considering I was worried that I would run out of things to say in a few weeks. How did I get started?

After 9/11 we were madly hungry for information; and to hear resolute and honorable voices (well, in San Francisco we are always hungry for those, but right then the need was acute.) We rarely missed Best of the Web, and that led us to Glenn Reynolds. We've read the InstaPundit daily ever since, but it never occurred to me to try to emulate him. Still, there was the morning I called Charlene at the office to tell her she was in InstaPundit! She had sent Glenn an e-mail and mentioned that the people who stole the obscene sculptures from the Boulder Public Library were "guerilla deconstructionist art critics." (We still meet people who remember reading that.) Then I got to call her again because her remark was picked up by Best of the Web! Amazin'.

As you will imagine, that sort of thing that can be quite intoxicating.

Then, one day, Glenn linked to this post, Harry Potter and the Libertarian Subtext:
The Natalie Solent philosophical analysis hit-squad has come up with the following observations indicating a not-so-secret libertarian agenda in the recently released film.
1. Hagrid does not wear a motorbike helmet for his flying bike.
2. Dumbledore arranges an informal adoption for Harry rather than putting him in care. Admittedly, it is not the happiest placement - but we libertarians all know that perfection is not an option.
3. Hogwarts is a fee paying school, and does not follow the National Curriculum.
4. There is no indication that Harry pays inheritance tax on his holdings in Gringotts.
5. The goblins in Gringotts do not monitor large cash withdrawals, or in any way conform to regulations to prevent money laundering...
[there's more]
I was enchanted; this was light and witty, but also thought provoking. (Almost a new art form) I felt like I'd encountered a neighborhood I could conceivably move into.
The author was Natalie Solent.

So I started...
A war begins. It's like rolling over a rotting log, the sun suddenly shines on a miriad of things both beautiful and creepy. We suddenly have a lot to say.
"They ought to have reflected . . . that as there is nothing more desirable, or advantageous than peace, when founded in justice and honour, so there is nothing more shameful and at the same time more pernicious when attained by bad measures, and purchased at the price of liberty."
Abigail Adams, in a letter to John Adams, August 19, 1774.
There was another guy new to blogging at that same time, Dawson. We would exchange e-mails, trying to puzzle out how to make these cranky blogs work. "Where do you get them counter things??" Dawson is warmhearted and impulsive, and I felt right away like he was an old pal. He was always falling in love with smart+beautiful+conservative women like Ann Coulter and Claire Berlinski ... and they seem to go for him! Admirable, admirable. We both blogged on the joys of feasting on crabs, and someday we'll do it together...

And then there was the first Fisking I ever encountered, by Moira Breen, thrashing some goop in the Guardian:
Monday's New York plane crash - and the Bush administration's desperate wish to brand it as natural

Oh for cryin' out loud.

- revealed the extent to which Bin Laden, even if militarily defeated and even if and when dead, has won a victory over the western mind.

In your dreams, Guardian boy.
Perfect...Ohhh, to be able to come up with a line like that ...

Later, my homespun economics led to making a friend who was a real economist, and he and his pals began publishing as the Krugman Truth Squad. An honor.

Well, I haven't done too badly, at least by my own lights. My weblog will never be very popular. The truth is, I find my fellow humans fairly mysterious, and really haven't a clue how to be popular and appeal to them. But that takes a lot of the pressure off; I can write things I like, and if only a handful of folks read them, well, you are the happy few. Thank you.

If I find time I'll add some links to my own favorite RJ posts...

Monday, November 11, 2002

return of the prodigal ...

Good news, Doctor Frank is back from a vacation from blogging, exacerbated by a rock tour in Japan. I've met him, he's a regular guy, and you would never guess he's a high-voltage punk-rocker.

'Course, lots of people are probably like that. When the Bishop takes off his mitre and settles in front of TV with a snack, he probably seems charmingly un-episcopal. (Or maybe not; perhaps he pops peanuts into his mouth with gestures of the utmost unctuous orotundity...)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Poets (a species once common, but now likely extinct)

The Spires of Oxford
(As seen from the train)

Winifred M. Letts

I saw the spires of Oxford
As I was passing by,
The grey spires of Oxford
Against a pearl-grey sky;
My heart was with the Oxford men
Who went abroad to die.

The years go fast in Oxford,
The golden years and gay;
The hoary colleges look down
On careless boys at play
But when the bugles sounded—War!
They put their games away.

They left the peaceful river,
The cricket field, the quad,
The shaven lawns of Oxford,
To seek a bloody sod.
They gave their merry youth away
For country and for God.

God rest you, happy gentlemen,
Who laid your good lives down,
Who took the khaki and the gun
Instead of cap and gown.
God bring you to a fairer place
Than even Oxford town.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

don't forget ... don't forget ... don't forget

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Bill fiddles while ...

I loved this bit from an interview with Victor Hanson ...
John Hawkins: There have been frequent comparisons of late between the United States and the Roman Empire. How valid do you think those comparisons are? Why so?

Victor Davis Hanson: Politically they are absurd. We do not send proconsuls to demand taxes to pay for basing troops. In fact we do the opposite--pay lavishly for bases that protect others. The imperial senate was impotent, and civil war was common after AD 200 -- we have a stable Congress and little strife. For all the European venom, George Bush is not a Caracalla or even Diocletian.

The classical topos of luxus, decadence brought about by affluence and leisure -- read Petronius, Suetonius, or Juvenal -- well, that is a real concern. Self-loathing and smug cynicism from an elite are the first symptoms and we see that clearly among those pampered and secure, who nevertheless ridicule the very system under which they operate in such a privileged fashion -- most notably in the arts, on the campuses, and in the media. A Jessica Lange or Barbra Streisand is right out of a Petronian banquet or perhaps sounds like a Flavian princess spouting off at dinner before returning to Nero's Golden House. Norman Mailer is a modern day Eumolpus bellowing on spec, and a Michael Moore a court-jester brought in to stick his tongue out at his benefactors for their own sick amusement.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Way to go!

TEL AVIV — Israel has assassinated a Palestinian regarded as the leading planner of Islamic suicide bombers in what the military proclaimed an intelligence victory.

Israeli troops killed Islamic Jihad military leader Iyad Sawalha on early Saturday in the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Military sources said a unit from the elite Golani brigade found Sawalha and his wife in a cave underneath a house...

... The 28-year-old Sawalha, known as 'the engineer', was being held responsible for the deaths of at least 31 Israelis. He planned a series of suicide bombings over the last four months in Israel, Middle East Newsline reported.

Sawalha also helped plan suicide attacks by the ruling Fatah movement, led by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Arafat condemned the Israeli killing of Sawalha as a "crime."

The latest bombing was near the Israeli town of Karkour last month when a car filled with explosives rammed into a passenger bus. Seventeen people were killed...

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

David Frum writes

You know the old joke--usually ascribed to Prince Schwarzenberg, prime minister of Austria in the 1850s--about the diplomat who hears that some cunning antagonist has died. “Hmmm. I wonder what he meant by that.”

People have the same trouble with President Bush. In January of this year, he said about Iraq:
"We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."
What could be plainer than that? Yet all through the year, we have been hearing about the inscrutability and inconsistency of Bush’s Iraq policy....

...Now here we are, eleven months later, exactly where the president always intended for us to be: troops in place, the public persuaded, authority granted by both houses of Congress, a UN Security Council resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter (that’s the one that counts--the anti-Israel resolutions are voted under Chapter VI, the blather chapter), and all right on time for the Persian Gulf fighting season, which begins in December ...
I think some people are so steeped in the spirit of the Clinton era, that openness and candor are assumed to be plots more deep and inscrutable than any that have come before.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

but where should we draw the line?

Australian John Ray discusses the possibility of School Vouchers in the US.
...“but where should we draw the line?” Some of my US correspondents have even asked me that. Should the US taxpayer support wacko schools that (for instance) teach Muslim fundamentalism? One is inclined to say “No” but if we do say “no” the danger is that we will give the green light for Leftist bureaucrats to set up another vast layer of bureaucracy that will end up withold funding for schools that the Leftists disapprove of: Which will effectively give them the last laugh. So the only safe rule is: “Draw no lines”. Fund the lot. It’s a pity that we cannot be more selective but ANY selectivity would be sure to have even worse results than giving open slather. If some fanatical parents use the chance to indoctrinate their kids into some wacko religion, the kids will probably just end up rebelling sometime in their teenage years anyway and modelling themselves on Homer Simpson instead. And as Clayton Cramer points out, the schools are ALREADY heavily politicized (in a Leftist direction) so we really have nothing to lose.

Here in Australia and New Zealand, schoolkids at the moment get fed a lot of nonsensical Greenie propaganda about global warming and the like. My impression, however, is that this serves mainly to bore the kids to death: Which I regard as not too bad an outcome. In the end propaganda is no substitute for real education.
I suggest that the only regulation needed is to require openness. Schools should be required to make available test-scores and curricula, and to provide reasonable access for private-sector companies that publish guides for choosing schools.

* I asked John about a certain curious expression: Yes. "open slather" is a common expression here. I am rather embarrassed to have inadvertently used an expression that will not be familiar internationally. I try to avoid that. But I guess the context makes its meaning clear. We have a very vigorous and vivid slang here so it is hard to avoid using it at times.-- I love it. Let stalk Strine...