Friday, September 30, 2005

It's Scooter

I predicted this and discussed it with a Slate reporter last winter.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Scopes II

"You can dress up intelligent design and make it look like science, but it just doesn't pass muster," said Mr. Stough, a Republican whose idea of a fun family vacation is visiting fossil beds and natural history museums. "In science class, you don't say to the students, 'Is there gravity, or do you think we have rubber bands on our feet?'"

That a Republican would say this gives me great hope.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The 1st Annual Ernest Hemingway Festival

Great time in Sun Valley if you like literary scholars talking about the local legend EH. Good insights by those who knew him best: the friends he ran with, like rancher Bud Purdy of Picabo, Idaho where I worked next to Silver Creek and lived in the fall of 1987 at the Hayspur fish hatchery. I also interviewed William L. Smallwood who wrote the local book The Idaho Hemingway for his own small press. He makes several previously unnoticed observations including Hemingway's "speech impediment, (that improves somewhat with alcohol) and his chronic shyness" in the two Hemingways thesis.

"The 'Pamploma Hemingway' was a drunken boaster and braggart," Smallwood said, "who had people punch him in the gut to test his manhood." This, he claimed, was Hemingway on scotch and only a small part of the character most saw in Idaho. They got a friendly, caring teacher and close friend. Hard to beat that.

I poked around and a good number of quotes support heavy drinking all over town right to the end. Still, what a great character he was and what a talent. He was also the 'Papa' of 'show don't tell' in his writing. That's why it has endured.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Dumbed Down and Tarted Up"

Dan Rather says of today's newsworld and he's right. It's corporate infotainment and not much else.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Katrina Administration

Says John Kerry and the facts back him up.
The Katrina Administration
Katrina is a symbol of all this administration does and doesn't do. Michael Brown -- or Brownie as the President so famously thanked him for doing a heck of a job -- Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq; what George Tenet is to slam dunk intelligence; what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad; what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy; what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning; what Tom Delay is to ethics; and what George Bush is to "Mission Accomplished" and "Wanted Dead or Alive." The bottom line is simple: the "we'll do whatever it takes" administration doesn't have what it takes to get the job done.

The Wingerville News

They just get right to it don't they? No wondering what the angle is here in Rhinoville. Of course in contrast contrary to the myth supported by this crowd nothing is this black and white in real news. Commentary is a different animal though. It requires a POV.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Fog of Law

Gov. Howard Dean's op-ed tomorrow in many ways reflects my sentiments after watching John Robert's performance. It's still foggy. He's a winger by his own design and history. Although younger than I by a year, he's far and away more likely to support repressive versions of the law that ultimately rule against the least fortunate among us. I can't support him.


For his book that is printed by Xlibris. Rip Rense a longtime music reviewer has fallen into the vanity press pit because of agent rejection of his concept. Sometimes your angle just isn't saleable. You have consider that possibility at the very least. What a shame when seasoned media journalists fall into this trap.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Science Thing

Chris Mooney has many fans here, and I've written about the politicization of science by conservatives right along on this blog. As a scientist myself, even moreso than Mooney, I understand what's going on from the inside. Gee, you'd think I could publish a book on this topic? But there's no Yale on my resume. I recommend it nonetheless. The thesis is sound.

Back in April I wrote about the Lysenoist solution. Mooney ends his intro with that angle. Like I said, solid thesis.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Critical Moment

"A the critical moment, " Pres. Bush said today, "there was a sense of relaxation." I get the idea that it takes very little to bring this sensation on in this particular man.

Kiss of Literary Death

I had an agent in NY hang on to my Patriot manuscript since February and so I decided to give little poke inthe form of informing her of my competition coming out in December and a bit of the controversy surrounding the stories. Mine was rejected the next day. Overnight, my writing was judged "I think this is a great idea and that there is a solid market for this type of book, but I’m afraid I just didn’t feel strongly enough about the writing to be the best advocate for your work" less than stellar. Yeah right.


"Don't answer any question that could prevent you from doing your job," cautioned former judge Sen. John Cornyn described by Molly Ivins as a "Senator-looking sumbitch."

Excuse me? Prevent you from doing whose job? The ones who know the answer to the question and whose agenda they serve? We don't want a judge who serves anyone but the law. That's the gig: Objectivism insofar as we can get it. And that's what Madison, Jefferson et al had in mind. Advice and consent with the Senate. That's what prevents a political coup, yet today's Republicans don't seem to grasp that concept. To their ilk, it's to the victors go the spoils. That's what the founders sought to prevent with this structure. "Legislating from the bench" is only bad when laws they like are struck down. They're more than happy to do it as long as it's in their favor. So transparent.

Bye Bye Brownie

Heck of a job! Brown quits.

Presidential Leadership

The expert on this, Opinionjournal editor James Taranto even without a college degree for preparation thinks, surprise, Bush will be judged well if his disastrous policies ever prove up. Of course they haven't so far or ever will in my view. This is a my response that probably won't be published:

Jim he's failed at every level. Bush is a hard right ideologue and sock puppet from the largest and richest businesses in the country. They profit from his farflung ventures and everyone else loses since we didn't have the money to pay them: he borrowed it. Sort of like looting isn't it?

As with the rest of the Bush family war profiteering is the family business and has been since WWI. He will be known as a colossal bungler and dismantler of the American dream. He has no control over the weather. That assertion is a weak straw man. Bush just doesn't know enough to get out of the rain. That's what history has already shown us.

Update: They published the comment. Salute, Jim.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

And How Bout That FEMA Staff

"The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents FEMA employees, wrote to Congress in June 2004, complaining, "Seasoned staff members are being pushed aside to make room for inexperienced novices and contractors."
Mr. Brown is a lawyer who came to the agency with political connections but little emergency management experience. That's also true of Patrick J. Rhode, the chief of staff at FEMA, who was deputy director of advance operations for the Bush campaign and the Bush White House.

Scott R. Morris, who was deputy chief of staff at FEMA and is now director of its recovery office on Florida, had worked for Maverick Media in Austin, Tex., as a media strategist for the Bush for President primary campaign and the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign. And David I. Maurstad was the Republican lieutenant governor of Nebraska before he became director of FEMA's regional office in Denver and then a senior official at the agency's headquarters.

This is typical of how a Republican administration operates, whereas Democrats actually put experienced scientists in charge of federal agencies after spending careers in those fields such as Michael Dombeck at BLM, the first fishery biologist to be US Forest Service Chief, and the expert wildlife biologist he replaced, the indomitable and irrepressible Jack Ward Thomas now a professor at the U. of Montana.

It's night and day folks in the competence department. We've just seen the results of those decision processes.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Roadless Rebellion

By western governors in Oregon, New Mexico and California that is, unexpected by the Bush administration who crafted the "neutered" Clinton Rule protecting 58 million roadless areas. Others may follow.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Douglass Brinkley

Brinkley, the official biographer of Hunter Thompson and historian extrordinaire really skewered the federal effort on C-Span today with some great firsthand on-the- ground experience from his own efforts in the rescue. He went back after relocating to Houston. This testimony refutes everything Bush et al have said all through this debacle.

Brownie Cont'd The Final Act

Brown is out at FEMA. Well not quite. They sent him back to washington to preapare for the next hurricane looming off Florida. That should make them feel better.

Through a Howling Wilderness Preview

The excerpt of my rival Thomas A. Desjardin's book on the Arnold expedition is up at. St. Martin's

One of the patriots who lived along this route, a shipbuilder named Reuben Colburn, who was a member of the Committee of Safety up in the Province of Maine, happened to be in Cambridge in mid-August and met with General Washington. Having lived for more than a decade along the Kennebec, Colburn was in a position to provide highly useful intelligence about the region and its native inhabitants, some of whom he had introduced to Washington. Washington, who had decided that sending an additional force through Maine to act in concert with Schuyler was at least something to consider seriously, gave Colburn money to saw planks “for the purposes of building bateaus for the use of the Continental Army” and sent him to meet with Benedict Arnold.27

Colburn then traveled to Watertown, where he received more detailed instructions from Arnold, who now held a commission as colonel in the Continental Army. There Arnold instructed Colburn to find out how long it would take to build two hundred bateaux “capable of carrying six or seven men each, with their provisions and baggage (say 100wt. To each man) the boats to be furnished with four oars, two paddles, and two setting poles each.” Thorough as he was, Arnold wanted Colburn to be sure he could obtain enough nails for the building, and discover the amount of fresh beef he could purchase on the Kennebec. He asked that Colburn scout any British vessels in Newburyport on his way back to Maine, and then any that might be on or near the Kennebec. He wanted to know the length and number of portages on the route to Quebec, how deep the water was at this season, and any other intelligence that Colburn could gather.28

Returning to Maine at the end of August, Colburn sought the knowledge of Samuel Goodwin of the Kennebec region, who had been “traveling, surveying, and settling this part, ever since the year 1750.”29 With three weeks to prepare them, Goodwin supplied Arnold with a chart of the Maine coastline, including the passages into the Kennebec River, as well as a map and journal describing the route up the Kennebec and Dead Rivers to “Ammeguntick Pond” (Lake Megantic), including the falls and carrying places. He also dispatched a scouting party of local patriots and a native guide to travel this route up the Kennebec River to its western branch, called by the natives the “Dead River” because of its slow current, and then on to the lake that made up the headwaters of the Chaudière River. Once he had made preparations back home, Colburn returned to Cambridge one last time. After reporting the latest news to the general, Washington had made the decision to go ahead with the expedition. He sent Colburn back to Maine with orders to engage a company of twenty men to build bateaux for the trek and “to assist in such service as you and they may be called upon to execute.” In addition, he needed Colburn to acquire “five hundred Bushells of Indian Corn all the pork and flour you can from the inhabitants . . . sixty barrells of salted beef of 220lbs each Barrell. You are to receive Forty Shillings lawful money for each Batteaux, with the Oars, Paddles, and Setting Poles included. . . .”30

The intro of Simon Fobes' homecoming is a good David McCullough technique well-executed. I have one too with a different character. The "Fourteenth Colony" is straight from Justin Smith who has a book by that title. This title "Howling" is from Shakespeare, and titles aren't protectable legally anyway.

I can't look at the endnotes but I recognize the sources from the George Washington papers and the two letters written to my Great...x7... Grandfather Reuben Colburn that I have original copies of. What I see is a nice generic overview of the lead up to the expedition, but just a quick skimming of the Colburn role where mine is much more in depth and focused on the intricacies of Colburn's mission.

The money Colburn recieved was 26 pounds. That's all he recieved in his life and for several generations beyond. I've requested a review galley from the publisher and the rest will come from that if I get it. More to come.

History Lesson

Jim Macdonald has a great history lesson over at Making Light. This Bush outfit loves comparing recent events to WWII, falsely so, in my view. Here is evidence why and what the differences are in cause, effect and results.

Brownie Cont'd

Paul Campos U of Colorado Law prof (and formerly Bernard Shakey at writersnet) eviscerates Mike Brown's resume in the New Republic.
When Brown left the iaha four years ago, he was, among other things, a failed former lawyer--a man with a 20-year-old degree from a semi-accredited law school who hadn't attempted to practice law in a serious way in nearly 15 years and who had just been forced out of his job in the wake of charges of impropriety.

The "connected guy," as Campos puts it so appropriately, rose meterorically to the head of FEMA as the incompetent crony in chief. That's how it is in Bushworld.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Simon Winchester gets it. There sure is someting missing in our society now that is unprecedented.

Meet the Editor

I had an interview last week at the second largest paper in Idaho for an entry level reporter. I obtained it by e-mail responding to a prickly ad on journalism I looked up the editor's e-mail address and fired off my resume and clips. I got a response, and later in the week told I made the short list, and arranged an interview for the following week. I went, driving 150 miles after a week of work surveying streams, for the Friday afternoon meeting.

I passed the faded facade of the building thinking it abandoned, but pinned it down just in time to be five minutes early. The city editor was nice and soon the managing editor came in with questions in tow: favorite book-Coming into the Country; TV show- 7 days (which I was in and drawing a blank after saying I watch news shows); movie-A River Runs through It; magazine-Outside, (should have said New Yorker since I read it), and so on.

"Newspapers like ours are losing readership nationwide. This is who we write for," he said, pointing to a cardboard cutout of a thirty-something brunette with two kids that resembled my last recollection of Lindsey Wagner.

Really I thought desperately trying to grasp what he wanted.

"She's really busy, and only wants the pertinent facts, delivered so she can absorb them during her busy day ferrying kids to dental appointments, school and soccer practice. Can you write for her so she doesn't go away?"

"I don't see why not, but I can't say for sure what that is," I said trying to be honest. No memorable comment but notes taken.

"I'm not afraid of nontraditional hires," he said.

"He makes them all the time," said the city editor trying to be supportive of my unfortunate age bracket.

Yeah, I'm sure some young dimwit is more adept at handling Lindsey's literary needs I thought.

Soon, after positive responses about my current work measuring rocks and fish as a scientist for the BLM, writing an essay about Hemingway, two books, and John McPhee as a role model, I was shown to a cubicle with a computer. Happily it wasn't an Apple. The city editor gave me a press release for a story they hadn't had time for what with the shortage of reporters and all of late. Pretend it's real, I was told. Call sources and write the story.

"OK," I said, and off I went calling three sources, penning a quick lead and folding in the quotes. "I'm done," I told her after an hour in which I met reporters coming to call all during this process telling me of the beats they didn't want that I could take off their hands.

"Really!" she said exremely pleased."Come on over we're having our budget meeting."
"Great," I said.

I went to the story budget meeting in which my story was factored in a priori to editing. Cool I thought.

After three edits it was a done deal. I was released and signed a voucher to be paid $50 for my efforts.

"We don't want you to think we're cheap," the Managing Editor said in full CYA mode.
I grinned, looking at the others and said, "He just doesn't want me to blog it," trying to be real.

"When will I know?" I asked.

"By the end of next week."

"Most people don't like going right to work like that," he said. "Thanks for doing it, it gives me a good idea of what to expect."

"It's a bit of a surprise," I said, "but why not dive right on in?"

The story made the morning paper and I never heard a word in a week.

That's the verdict. Don't let anyone say age isn't a factor in employment. You may not be able to prove intent legally, but it's always the reason for non-selection.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

And Now the Cobra

"But now that the people of New Orleans need an ark, we have to question the president's arc. He's stumbling in Iraq and he's stumbling on Katrina.

Let's play the blame game: the man who benefited more than anyone in history from safety nets set up by family did not bother to provide one for those who lost their families."

Maureen Dowd

Let Them Eat Cake!

Barbara Bush's welfare comentary in Houston is damnable. The Bushes make me want to wretch they're so self-servicing, pious and arrogant. Christ, Millie is the brains in the family and has all the manners to boot. For background read Kevin Phillips' Bush family history: Old money; self-interest: espionage and war profiteering that still is a successful formula for them. Regular folks are just another matter to be squelched.

Blame Game

This is a federal issue. That's who failed all the way through until they were embarassed into acting albeit belatedly.
Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal showed how the Bush administration had systematically stripped power and money from FEMA, which had been painfully rebuilt under President Bill Clinton but had long been a target of Republican "small government" ideologues. The Journal said state officials had been warning Washington - as recently as July 27 - that the homeland secretary, Michael Chertoff, was planning further disastrous cuts.

Government's bad as long as we in charge aren't the ones getting the profits is how they seem to think about this matter. Blame us? How dare they.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Damage Control Inc.

So FEMA officials were in Greece for a wedding of a colleague and Bush is perpetually on vacation, as Garrison Keillor pointed out in Salon, like the French and unlike most of us here in America. Why did the Washington Post and now Newsweek continue to blame Louisiana Gov. Blanco for not declaring a state of emergency when records indicate she did? Who is this anonymouse leaker of lies? Rove at play? Ah... Work again? Seems so according to the New York Times.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

To Court the Nearly Extinct

"They have faced all the tedium of normal biological research, plus the added burden of not knowing if it is all a gigantic waste of time."

Sing it brother.

"Hartfield explained it by paraphrasing a quote from biologist E.O. Wilson, a leading expert on biodiversity.

"The first rule in good tinkering," Hartfield said, "is 'Save all the parts.' "

This quote is attributible to Aldo Leopold , the father of modern wildlife biology. That's Wilson's source. It's the correct one. Saving the near extinct is an effort in futility that, for some of us, must be done regardless of that futility, but with the cost of that knowledge nonetheless. I know it all too well.

The Polls

72% believe gas scalping is occuring beacuse of the storm reports the Washpost. Is it? The public preceives many things some of which are clearly false. Is this one of them, or is it market econ working its magic on us? Newspapers are liberal and dishonestly biased is another of these. I think they're right on the former.

Blame Gov. Blanco

Even my landlady fileted the Gov. but it was misplaced blame.

Heck of a Job

Yeah boy how bout that Brownie? Another incompetent Texas shill unqualified to run a weenie roast yet elevated to run a Bush agency, and like the others incompetent.

Josh Marshall picks at the newly-formed administration scabs. In "BushWorld" federalism is a bullheaded detached juggernaut out for itself only. The evidence just keeps piling up like the national debt under this pack of marauding rich hyenas.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

BLM Director and the Cattlemen

No surprise here really. BLM Director Kathleen Clarke sides with ranchers in Utah not wanting to swap grazing allotments with environmetnal groups who pay to keep them off the public land. No fair! implies Clarke encouraging ranchers to sue her agency. This trade is a dangerous precedent and must be stopped at all cost according to communications from Clarke to the ranchers.
Bush always places an industry shill at the head of all his agencies.
BLM director, Kathleen Clarke, in reaction to the award of grazing permits to the Canyonlands Grazing Corporation (CGC), encouraged ranchers to sue, going as far as to tell the former chairman to “Go get them” and that she “was rolled” by superiors in the Interior Department.

Friday, September 02, 2005

What sould Have Been Done in Louisiana

Build a new navigation channel from the Gulf into the Mississippi, about 40 miles south of New Orleans, so ships don't have to enter the river at its three southernmost tips 30 miles further away. For decades the corps has dredged shipping channels along those final miles to keep them navigable, creating underwater chutes that propel river sediment out into the deep ocean. The dredging could then be stopped, the river mouth would fill in naturally, and sediment would again spill to the barrier islands, lengthening and widening them. Some planners also propose a modern port at the new access point that would replace those along the river that are too shallow to handle the huge new ships now being built worldwide.

Erect huge seagates across the pair of narrow straits that connect the eastern edge of Lake Pontchartrain, which lies north of the city, to the gulf. Now, any hurricane that blows in from the south will push a wall of water through these straits into the huge lake, which in turn will threaten to overflow into the city. That is what has filled the bowl that is New Orleans this week. But seagates at the straits can stop the wall of water from flowing in. The Netherlands has built similar gates to hold back the turbulent North Sea and they work splendidly.

Mark Freshetti from Scientific American

The Anti-9/11

That's what David Brooks is saying about the abysmal response of his government to the people of New Orleans. Maybe he got it here? When government fails to serve us, it loses its purpose. They work for us, both great and small. In this tragedy we can really see the difference between the two.

John Fund On C-Span

I wrote Brian Lamb at Washington Journal on C-Span over calling John Fund of the Wall Street Journal a "graduate" of Cal State Sacramento. He isn't. Attended is what they say when you didn't make it. Other conservative journalists aren't either like James Taranto at the same paper. Their naive illogical views reflect that, such as nimbyism being the reason for more refineries not being built since the '70s. That's total BS. Profit, or the lack of it is the real cause of this shortfall and guess who profits from that? What a surprise.

Dawkins On ID

Two sides of an argument only works if one is valid as a premise. This ID equivocation isn't.

Dawkins On ID

Michael Moore Questions President Bush

Can anyone answer these charges? Validly?

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.


Michael Moore

Thursday, September 01, 2005

NO Charity

The Environmental Webring
The Environmental Webring
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