From Pine View Farm

September, 2005 archive

New One on Me 0

As I was making my up I-95 (the main street of the East Coast) this morning to the Barry Bridge, in very light traffic (do the high gas prices have everyone on SEPTA?), I saw a most novel sight.

As I slid into the exit lane, the car ahead of the Perdue truck I had been following came into view. In it was a lady brushing her hair. With one hand, she smoothed her hair and with the other, she brushed it. The whole time she was in my view, at least a quarter mile, she had both hands entangled in doing her hair.

She was the only person in the car. She was occupying the driver’s seat.


Dover and Intelligent Design 0

I mentioned “intelligent design” the other day. My son asked me what it was. I replied, “Creationism in sheep’s clothing.”

Apparently, the testimony at the trial in Dover, Pa., is bearing me out:

Two plaintiffs supported testimony by earlier witnesses who said that two board members showed religious intent in promoting the policy in the period leading up to the October 2004 adoption of the policy.

Christy Rehm of Dover said William Buckingham made references to the country being “founded on Christianity.”


Plaintiff Julie Smith of York said she became alarmed when her 10th-grade daughter came home from school last year and said: “Evolution is a lie. What kind of Christian are you?”

She said she asked her daughter why she had said that, and her daughter responded that as a Christian, she could not believe in evolution.

Follow the link to read the complete story.

(Aside: Personally, I’m a Christian. And the God I choose to believe in would not sprinkle the world with fossils, carbon-14 dating, and other evidence of the great age and marvelous history of this universe as some kind of foolish test of belief that the world was created in October, 4004 B. C.

(Faith is the evidence of things unseen, not the rejection of things seen.)


Tomorrow Should Be Fun 0

I’m rebuilding the family computer. Not physically; I’m wiping the box, fdisking and repartitioning the hard drive, and reinstalling everything. It’s got so much junk on it from my son’s web-surfing it’s starting to drag real bad.

So we’re blowing it away and starting over.

I love doing that kind of stuff.

‘Course, if I had my druthers, I’d put Linux on it, but then my some of my son’s games wouldn’t work, and he’s the primary user of that box. But I might make it dual boot, Windows and Linux; haven’t decided yet.

A whole day of playing 52-pick-up with CDs! kEwL, dEwD!!!


Delay 0

There has been a lot of activity about the Tom Delay indictments in the blogosphere. I don’t frequent the nationally known “liberal” blogs all that much, but, even in the local blogs, one sees comments such as this from Daily Sally:

Okay, I admit it, when I read the news about the DeLay indictment for conspiracy to violate state election laws I did a little mental happy dance. Yes! Thank you! It’s about damn time!

And this, from Citizen Mom:

DeLay indicted.

Bill Frist is peeing his pants right now.

Or this one, from Pandagon:

You probably know that Tom DeLay has been indicted, and is stepping down as House Majority Leader. I’ll bet you didn’t know that the important part isn’t whether or not he did, but how aggressive his defense of his crimes is.

“I may be guilty as sin, but my self-defense is a blessing!”

If you visit more–how shall I put it?–combative blogs, you will find more exuberant comments.

Now, I’m not a big fan of the current Federal Administration. I find it to be in the tradition of the Republican Party–the party of Grant, Harding, and Hoover: inadvertent, venal, and incompetent.

But they have a vision. It is a vision of making the rich richer and the poor poorer; of instituting theocracy and peering into private lives; of sacrificing civil liberties to state power; of, more than anything else, consolidating the power of their Party. And to that end they are willing to sacrifice everything else, including truth, justice, and the American way.

Truth: what about those WMDs. Never were there, and evidence that they were not was systematically and intentionally ignored. Just in this Delay thing, the Republican Party is trying to paint the Texas prosecutor as a relentless partison. Yeah, right. A relentless partisan who has prosecuted three times as many Democrats as Republicans for corruption.

Justice: Willing to lock up anyone, including American citizens (however repugnant those American citizens may be), upon the word of a single man, with no evidence and no due process. There is a historical precedent for this. The Star Chamber–and it was one of the reasons the Founders fought the Revolutionary War to separate from England.

The American Way: I won’t go into detail. I suggest you go here, then think about what is going on today.

But I caution those who exult about the current travails of the Federal Administration. The loyal opposition (and it is, indeed, loyal, despite the attempts of at least some members of the Republican Party to mutate opposition of specific policies into opposition to the Nation) has no vision. It is reactive. It knows what it doesn’t want, but either does not know or cannot articulate what it does want.

Until the Loyal Opposition can articulate a vision of what should be, rather than rail against what should not be, there is little likelihood that the current reign of venality and corruption will be halted.


My Little Gas Price Survey, 9/30/2005 0

Changes today, but no pattern. Some up, some down. More went up than went down, but the one that went down, went down a lot.

Penny Hill, Del., Exxon and BP, $2.79.

Holly Oak, Del., Mobil, $2.79, no change.

Claymont, Del., Exxon, Sunoco, $2.79, up two cents.

Claymont, Del., Getty, $2.79, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., Gulf (Cumberland Farms), $2.77, down 12 cents.

Claymont, Del., BP, $2.89, up eight cents.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.82, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., Wawa, $2.79, up two cents. This is worth noting; generally, where the Wawas with gas pumps open, they are the lowest prices around. That certainly hasn’t been the case with this one.


My LIttle Gas Price Survey, 9/29/2005 1

Changes today, but no pattern. Some up, some down. More up than down, though.

Holly Oak, Del., Mobil, $2.79, no change.

Claymont, Del., Exxon, Sunoco, $2.77, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., Getty, $2.79, up two cents.

Claymont, Del., Gulf (Cumberland Farms), $2.89, up 15 cents.

Claymont, Del., BP, $2.81, up two cents.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.82, down two cents.

Claymont, Del., Wawa, $2.77, up three cents.


Globalism 1

This is a fascinating story of the positive side of the internet and globalism, persons from the other side of the world helping persons they have never seen.

Indian Center Handles Hurricane Rita Calls

Associated Press Writer

September 29, 2005, 2:12 PM EDT

GANDHINAGAR, India — Until last week, Madhavi Patel came to work each evening at a western India call center, put on her headset and American accent and spent the night taking calls from Americans about their credit cards. Then, Hurricane Rita happened.

The call center, run by Effective Teleservices of Lufkin, Texas, set up a hot line for victims of the hurricane, and Patel and more than 240 of her colleagues began long days and nights fielding thousands of calls from frantic, scared people affected by the storm half a world away.

Click the link to learn more.


Tom Delay 0

I’m not going to wade into the fray on this, but I have to cite, courtesy of Suburban Guerrilla, the single wittiest comment I’ve seen on the topic, for our political discourse could use far more wit (it has precisely half what it needs):

Tom DeLay found the one law about fundraising in Texas and broke it.

Molly Ivins


It Has To Be Here Somewhere 0

I never threw away or sold a book in college. I majored in history and took enough sociology to have a second major, if my college had granted them (which it didn’t at that time).

(No doubt, that, plus 24 years on the railroad, is what prepared me for my present career training persons in how to install and use enterprise-level industrial-strength security software and, when I’m not working on training stuff, providing telephone technical support for my company’s applications.)

Consequently, the books I was required to read were usually pretty interesting and well-worth keeping (I read somewhere, any book worth reading once is worth reading twice–that’s certainly true for anything by Rex Stout). Granted, anything by Emile Durkheim or Max Weber was pretty heavy slogging, but the end result was well worth wading through the snowdrifts of their reasoning.

This book I’m looking for is worth reading twice. It’s time to read it again, for history is repeating itself.

I know that book is somewhere. It must be up in the attic in one of those boxes. I’ll have to go looking for it this weekend, when I have enough time to dig through dusty boxes in the attic.

In the meantime, you can read about it here.

And consider why it has become relevant again.


How Many More Mike Browns? 0

What a scary show!

Here’s the description from the website:

Fresh Air from WHYY, September 28, 2005 · Journalist Mike Allen is a White House correspondent for Time magazine. He co-authored a new investigative piece for the magazine into how the Bush administration appoints the officials who run vital government agencies.

The article grew out of concern over Mike Brown, the former head of FEMA, who was removed from his position because of widespread criticism about how Hurricane Katrina was handled by the agency.

Brown was a political appointee who brought little experience in disaster management to his job when he was first appointed. The article in this week’s issue is, “How Many More Mike Browns Are Out There?”

Listen to it here.


My Little Gas Price Survey, 9/28/2005 0

Not much movement in the prices, but a little.

Holly Oak, Del., Mobil, $2.79, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., Exxon, Sunoco, $2.77, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., Getty, $2.75.

Claymont, Del., Gulf (Cumberland Farms), $2.74, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., BP, $2.77, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.84, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., Wawa, $2.74, unchanged.


My Little Gas Price Survey, 9/27/2005 0

Not much change today. A couple of prices dropped a couple of cents, but most were unchanged from yesterday.

Penny Hill, Del., BP, $2.87.

Penny Hill, Del., Exxon, $2.79.

Penny Hill, Del., Getty, $2.83.

Holly Oak, Del., Mobil, $2.79, decreased from yesterday.

Claymont, Del., Exxon, Sunoco, $2.77, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., Getty, $2.75, decreased.

Claymont, Del., Gulf (Cumberland Farms), $2.74, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., BP, $2.79, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.84, unchanged.

Claymont, Del., Wawa, $2.74, unchanged.


Blame the Victim, Reprise 0

Give me a break. From Reuters:

My biggest mistake was not recognizing (in time) that Louisiana was dysfunctional,” former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown, who was pulled from the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort and resigned after chaos and destruction in New Orleans.


In New Orleans, Nagin said, “I think it’s unfortunate. I think for a FEMA director in Washington trying to deflect attention off his performance is unbelievable.”

But Nagin expressed compassion. “Mr. Brown is under a lot of pressure, I feel sorry for him,” he added.

The facts clearly establish that, even with a less than coherent state and local response, the Federal Administration could have taken many actions to ensure that relief supplies and personnel were available in a timely fashion after Katrina passed.

I’ve already considered the lines of responsibility.

Mr. Bush doesn’t want to play the blame game.

No wonder.

He and his administration would lose.

Maybe a nice horse show will help the residents of the Gulf Coast forget their troubles.

Unfortunately, Mr. Brown is not available to organize it. He has a new job.

(CBS) — CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that Michael Brown, who recently resigned as the head of the FEMA, has been rehired by the agency as a consultant to evaluate its response following Hurricane Katrina.

Dodecahedron suggests Brown should provide his consultancy on a skill he knows: tying a half-windsor. Personally, I think he might do better consulting on a four-in-hand; windsor and half-windsor knots are complicated.


My Little Gas Price Survey, 9/26/2005 1

Prices seem fairly stable still. We will see what happens in the next few days.

Penny Hill, Del., BP, $2.87.

Penny Hill, Del., Exxon, $2.79.

Penny Hill, Del., Getty, $2.83.

Holly Oak, Del., Mobil, $2.83.

Claymont, Del., Exxon, Sunoco, and Getty, $2.77.

Claymont, Del., Gulf (Cumberland Farms), $2.74.

Claymont, Del., BP, $2.79.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.84.

Claymont, Del., Wawa, $2.74.

Paulsboro, NJ, BP, $2.99

Paulsboro, NJ, Exxon (TA Truck Stop) $2.97


Recreation in Iraq 0

A rather horrifying little news story in The Register. I haven’t followed the link in the story yet (I’m at work), but the Register, for all their sarky, cheeky attitude, doesn’t make too many mistakes. Here’s what they report:

When you’re not getting shelled or shot at, war can get deadly dull. Fortunately, America’s gals in uniform overseas appear to be having a rollicking good time, and no doubt enjoying numerous material perks as a result of being in short supply and high demand, and naked.

The evidence is visible at now that’s f**ked up, an online trading post for amateur porn and grotesque gore pics from the front lines of freedom in Iraq. It’s got everything, from soldiers posting photographed sessions with partners in country, or their girlfriends and wives back home, to the most appalling shots of what war looks like when the fragile human body confronts the power of mass, mechanized destruction.

My newly-wed son is over there. Sheesh.


Putting the Military in Charge 0

Reuters reports

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Reuters) – U.S. President George W. Bush said on Sunday that Congress ought to consider giving the U.S. military the lead role in responding to natural disasters, as he heard one general describe the Hurricane Katrina rescue effort as a “train wreck.”

Hmmm. Why was it a train wreck, indeed? Because Mike Brown had no experience in disaster relief and Mike Chertoff really didn’t know what to do anyway.

Even Robert Novak, best known for outing CIA employees and then letting others go to jail over it, has turned his back on Chertoff.

So now Mr. Bush suggests putting the military in charge. This would turn a two century tradition of civilian control of the military on its head, a tradition that many historians hold partially responsible for there never having been even an attempted military takeover of the United States government.

FEMA has shown in the past that, with competent leadership, it can respond effectively to disasters.

What’s the difference between now and the 1990’s? The president in the 1990s gave FEMA qualified leaders, then let FEMA do its thing. The president since 2000 has used FEMA as a dumping ground for political hacks and cronies, stripped its budget, and buried its autonomy in the vast wasteland of the Department of Homeland Security. (He wasn’t alone in this. Indeed, he was a reluctant endorser of the DHS, but he did eventually endorse it and appointed the aforementioned hacks and cronies to lead it.)

DHSs job is to protect the US from external threats; it is not surprising that an agency chartered to respond to natural disasters did not get much attention. That’s the way large organizations work.

Similarly, the military’s role is to protect the US from external threats. Certainly, the military has logistical expertise and resources unmatched by any other organization on US soil. Indeed, they were ready to move in response to Katrina at the request of civil authorities, but those requests were sorely delayed.

But they have no expertise or training in planning responses to natural disasters and certainly no training in law enforcement.

This proposal is a non-starter on every level, but it does have the virtue of creating an appearance that Mr. Bush is doing something.

Now, the interesting question is what these different organizations have in common. Good problem-solving techniques recommend following problems till you find a common factor, then looking at that factor. Organization charts are frequently useful in this:

So let’s look at the chart:

US Government Organization Chart

What do the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Department of Defense have in common? I submit it is at that confluence you will find the root cause of the problem. Everything else is but a symptom.

Moving lines on the chart won’t change anything so long as those lines ultimately still point to the same common factor.


My Little Gas Price Survey, 9/24/2005 0

I haven’t messed about with checking gas prices for several days, because they have remained fairly stable.

Nevertheless, I drove to Pine View Farm yesterday, to take care of some family business and visit my mother in the home. I tracked the gas prices on my drive down. I started at Wilmington, Delaware, and ended up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Along the way, I passed through the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I returned along a different route through Maryland and lower Delaware.

In Delaware, gas prices were in the mostly in the high two dollar range, but with a wide variation. Prices in Maryland were the lowest I saw; Virginia prices tended to be in between Delaware and Maryland prices.

These prices were sampled along US 13.

Shell, North Wilmington, Del,. $2.99. (This station is just inside the city line and tends to be higher than suburban stations.)

New Castle, Del., two Wawas, Sunoco, Hess, Citgo, $2.79; BP, $2.89; Shell, $2.94; Exxon, $2.82.

Red Lion, Dell, Valero, $2.95; BP, $2.89.

South Dover, Del., two Valeros, $2.75.

Woodside, Del., BP, Valero, and Exxon, $2.79.

Felton, Del., Shell, $2.79; Mobile, $2.84.

Harrington, Del., BP, $2.86; Valero and Citgo, $2.75; Sunoco, $2.84.

Greenwood, Del., Valero, $2.73.

Bridgeville, Del., BP, $2.79; Valero and Royal Farms, $2.73.

Seaford, Del., Exxon, $2.75; Tru Blu, Royal Farms, $2.73.

Laurel, Del., Royal Farms, $2.73; Citgo, $2.79; Sunoco, $2.85.

Delmar, Md., Shell and Mobile, $2.69.

North Salisbury, Md., Wawa and Exxon, $2.69; Chevron, $2.71; Shell, $2.74.

Fruitland, Md., Valero, $2.69; Shell, $2.74.

Princess Anne, Md., Shell, $2.75; Exxon, $2.79;

Pocomoke, Md., Sunoco and Citgo, $2.79.

On the Eastern Shore of Virginia, all but a handfull of stations were charging $2.75. The exceptions were:

A no name at T’s Corner was charging $2.85.

Stuckey’s in Mappsville, $2.73.

Keller, Valero and Chevron, $2.74.

Belle Haven Station, Valero, $2.74.

Exmore, Chevron, $2.74.

A no-name at Wierwood, Va., $2.76.

Along US 113 in Maryland and Delaware:

Newark, Md. (yes, there is one), $2.69.

Shelbyville, Del., Exxon, $2.84; BP, $2.99; Shell, $2.89.

Frankford, Del., Mystik, $2.95; Amoco, $2.83; Royal Farms, $2.73.

Millsboro, Del., BP, $2.89 at one, $2.99 at the other.

Georgetown, Del., Exxon, $2.85; Shell, $2.94.

Ellendale, Del., Exxon and Citgo, $2.85.

Milford, Del., Royal Farms, $2.79; Shell, $2.94; two Valero, $2.85 and $2.87; Mobile and Shell, $2.97.

Frederica, Del., Valero, $2.79.


Rita 0

As I write this, New Orleans is flooded again and Rita is bearing down on Texas.

Rita has already claimed its first victims.

And the pictures of traffic streaming north and west from the Texas coast have filled the news and the web.

Tomorrow will tell us whether Rita lives up to her billing, but already she has already caused her share of hardship.

God be with those in her path.


Bill O’Reilly Out-Bullied (by, of all persons, Phil Donohue) 0

Bill O’Reilly is the true wearer of the mantle of Joe Pyne. Whenever Joe was losing an argument, he would start shouting, “I was in the Marines!” and drown out his guests and callers. Bill, of course, just keeps shouting. Apparently, he wasn’t in the Marines.

His rudeness catches a lot of people off guard, just as Joe Pyne’s did. People who are normally courteous and used to dealing with courteous persons don’t expect to be yelled at and don’t usually react coherently or effectively. Terry Gross, of NPR’s Fresh Air, an experienced and accomplished interviewer, was one of his victims; this exchange shows his tactics as effectively as any you might hear.

But when he meets someone who stands up to him and cites evidence, he seems to have trouble reacting.

You can watch it here
and read the transcript here.

Here’s a portion of the transcript.

DONAHUE: Let’s understand what’s happening here. Once again we have a woman who got to be just a little too famous for the people who support this war, a minority of the American population, by the way, and so the effort to marginalize this woman is underway and you’re helping out.

O’REILLY: I’m the leader of the pack!

DONAHUE: You’re suggesting …

O’REILLY: I’m the leader of the pack!

DONAHUE: First of all, Cindy Sheehan is one tough mother and nothing you say or anyone else is gonna slow her down.

O’REILLY: That’s fine. She has a right to …

DONAHUE: You can’t hurt her. She’s already taken the biggest punch in the nose that a woman can take.


DONAHUE: She lost a son.


DONAHUE: She’s lost a child.

O’REILLY: But look – I’m not puttin’ words in her mouth …

DONAHUE: And by the way, she is going to be at the center of one of the largest rallies since the Vietnam War. Proud, patriotic Americans who will show up in Washington this week for one of the most massive, largest demonstrations – protest demonstrations …

O’REILLY: OK. And we’ll cover it.

A number of sites refer to this exchange, but thanks to Blinq for the links.


An Honest Whife House Briefing 0

Truth has broken out in the White House press room.

(Thanks to Suburban Guerrilla.)