Tuesday, June 29, 2004

>bt: The Clinton Legacy << Video:: I love Evan Coyne Maloney's "Brain Terminal" videos. Here are more clueless foot soldiers, this time flocking to see Clinton, few able to say why he was good. I liked some things Clinton did:

- Supported free trade (but didn't hold China accountable for human rights violations, i.e. use trade as a soft method of coercion, knowing they will capitulate)
- Few limits on the internet (though the DMCA is bad)
- Bombing the Serbs (late. Also, where were the WMD?)
- Strong efforts to solve the Israel/Palestine dispute (naive with trust in Arafat?)
- Inventing the Internet (or was that Gore?)
- Standing up to the rise of global terror (or was that Bush 43?)

It looks like I might be as confused as the folks in the video.

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Liberty, Government, Gary US, Barry, Covalent:: James Lileks is a great blogger and an excellent writer. He is also a midwesterner who believes in hard work to make it. The following is from his blog, and is a great story.
A minor political note, if you’re interested in such things. The other day a young girl came to the door to solicit my support for her presidential candidate. I asked her why I should vote for this man. She was very nice and earnest, but if you got her off the talking points she was utterly unprepared to argue anything, because she didn’t know what she was talking about. She had bullet points, and she believed that any reasonable person would see the importance of these issues and naturally fall in line. But she could not support any of her assertions. Her final selling point: Kerry would roll back the tax cuts.

Then came the Parable of the Stairs, of course. My tiresome, shopworn, oft-told tale, a piece of unsupportable meaningless anecdotal drivel about how I turned my tax cut into a nice staircase that replaced a crumbling eyesore, hired a few people and injected money far and wide - from the guys who demolished the old stairs, the guys who built the new one, the family firm that sold the stone, the other firm that rented the Bobcats, the entrepreneur who fabricated the railings in his garage, and the guy who did the landscaping. Also the company that sold him the plants. And the light fixtures. It’s called economic activity. What’s more, home improvements added to the value of this pile, which mean that my assessment would increase, bumping up my property taxes. To say nothing of the general beautification of the neighborhood. Next year, if my taxes didn’t shoot up, I had another project planned. Raise my taxes, and it won’t happen – I won’t hire anyone, and they won’t hire anyone, rent anything, buy anything. You see?

“Well, it’s a philosophical difference,” she sniffed. She had pegged me as a form of life last seen clilcking the leash off a dog at Abu Ghraib. “I think the money should have gone straight to those people instead of trickling down.” Those last two words were said with an edge.

“But then I wouldn’t have hired them,” I said. “I wouldn’t have new steps. And they wouldn’t have done anything to get the money.”

“Well, what did you do?” she snapped.

“What do you mean?”

“Why should the government have given you the money in the first place?”

“They didn’t give it to me. They just took less of my money.”

That was the last straw. Now she was angry. And the truth came out:

“Well, why is it your money? I think it should be their money.”

Then she left.

And walked down the stairs. I let her go without charging a toll. It’s the philanthropist in me.

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

The New York Times: Schwarzenegger, Confident and Ready for Prime Time:: As mentioned here, if California is up for grabs, Kerry is in for a world of hurt. Schwarzenegger will wisely stay a bit of a distance away from Bush. He will rally independents, conservatives, and undecided voters without inflaming the left in his state. This should have a fairly large effect on the swing voters and voter turn out (positive Bush, negative Kerry), both of which are key to winning an election in a nation divided 46-46 Love-Bush, Hate-Bush (the margin of Love-Kerry is below statistical significance :). Best line from the article:
Asked to describe his governing philosophy seven months after toppling Gray Davis in California's recall election, he said, "Crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women."

Josko has Tyson, I've got Schwarzenegger.

UPDATE::Miguel Drake-McLaughlin replies:

You know, I like Schwarzenegger and Schwarzenegger would like to keep it that way. If you read the article without a perspective of wanting to see Bush do well in the election, it looks like the Governor probably wants a lot of the independents in California to believe that he's President-neutral, and let partisans (including democrats) believe that he likes their candidate. Lots of his constituency is like me: they see small taxes and small government as primary political issues, but don't see that as any reason to vote for Bush.
In addition, they and I believe the President is weirdly religious and makes important decisions based on what we perceive as voodoo and not reason. On top of that, he seems to be rather incompetent in terms of the stated goals of his administration (reduce government, publicly avenge the 9-11 dead, be greeted by revolutionary Iraqis as liberators, raise level of discourse, etc.). So I predict that Schwarzenegger will make it is goal to appear at the convention on behalf of Schwarzenegger and stay far enough away from Bush that independents like myself who favor Bush's removal from office believe that Schwarzenegger feels the same way. Nowhere in the article linked did I see it suggested that California is "in play."

There is little neutral about going to the Republican National Convention and (probably) giving a speech in prime-time. The way he is positioning it, people that like him will like the option of voting Republican more.

Clearly he is interested both in his continued role as governor (reelection) and perhaps as a major player in the Republican party (future president). It is indeed a matter of balance as you described. Let’s just say that you won’t see a similar article about how Schwarzenegger will be going to the DNC and supporting Kerry.

The article linked didn’t say California was in play, it was said here, as I linked above.

As for the reasons to vote for Bush which you might be interested in, there are many.
- The economy is booming, in large part because of his tax cuts and the actions of the Fed.
- The deficit has more to do with spending than the tax cuts. If they were all repealed (including those for lower and middle incomes), the deficit would be reduced only by a third. Who is more likely to increase spending, Kerry or Bush?
- Medical Savings accounts are the most important part about the prescription-drug bill. Read more about them here.
- He is far more likely than Kerry to reform social security, both because Republicans believe in privatization and he won’t have to worry about reelection.
- As for terrorists, he has taken action which directly led to the extermination of thousands of terrorists and two regimes whose basic mission statement was the destruction of the west. He has reformed laws to make it (temporarily) easier to catch terrorists in America. He has closed funding channels to terrorists (including the Taliban & Saddam). He has done something his predecessor failed to do: take the threat seriously as reflected in policy changes.
-As for being a ‘uniter’, which is what he campaigned on in 2000, he hasn't had to veto a single bill. This implies a successful union between congress and the executive branch. I don't see the "Hate-Bush" crowd as evidence of his being a divider. I blame them, and their wildly disproportionate attacks on Bush (and capitalism, technology, along with other things). Read more about it here. After all, how can one complain about max 10,000 civilians killed on accident during the war when Saddam on averaged murdered far more yearly for the past 20 years? How can it be claimed that Iraq distracted from the “real” war-on-terror when top lieutenants in Al Queda claim Iraq is their most important battle yet? It is simply a failure to keep objectivity.
- Except for a small tariff on steel, which was quickly repealed, Bush has made no significant dent in our free market. This would change under Kerry. Kerry’s talk of the evils of outsourcing and ‘Benedict Arnold’ CEOs is frightening for a free-marketer like me.
- Bush’s religious views do not really affect public policy outside his firm moral stance in the war-on-terror. Stem-Cell research will continue, just not funded publicly. Not publicly funding things which would be funded by private means anyway is a big part of small government (though the numbers are trivial either way). Also, the funding for ‘faith-based-initiatives’ is really just a matter of not discriminating on the basis of religion. The active attack on religion in America is hidden in guise of the first Amendment, which says nothing against support, only that the government cannot restrict religion. His faith is used as another tool of exaggeration and disproportionate views. Clinton passed a ban on cloning (I think), Clinton passed the hypocritical “don’t ask, don’t tell” gays policy in the military, and he and Reagan both were deeply religious. It is only because Bush is Bush that his religion is a basis for attack.

I’ll leave the rest for another post.

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Monday, June 21, 2004

Redefining the Front Lines in Reversing War's Toll:: We need this to become more common. It helps good people become more active, could help millions of people wheel-chairs, and could also be used like this to turn an average person into this.
With sensors attached to his body and with eight high-speed, infrared cameras recording his movements, Sgt. Luke Wilson walked back and forth inside the gait and motion laboratory at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Reading the data, a computer turned him into a mobile stick figure on the screen, instantly measuring how his body is accommodating the prosthetic device that now serves as his left leg.
More of this please.

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CNN.com - Private craft heads for space - Jun 21, 2004:: NASA might not have enough funds to continue to go to space the way Bush envisions. This is great news for those who think NASA has had too much money and too few accomplishments for their own good in the past 30 years. All manned flights should be outsourced to firms like Scaled Composites, who will certainly have the cheapest boosting mechanism around. This will scale the flights so that a private industry based on space tourism will be able to lift off. This will probably be expensive, but far cheaper than the $50K/Kg price tag now.

Then, that industry will be given a boost with some reason industrial motivation to be in space: always-on, high-power, and ZERO pollution solar cell energy collection, trillions of tons of exposed valuable minerals, escape pods for extinction-level-event problems on earth, or perfect manufacturing environments to make fusion possible.

And THEN, Joe-Sixpack and I can spend a weekend in space because the flights will be affordable. If this doesn’t happen by 2020, I will be upset.

Note that the CNN article waits till paragraph 16 (at the time of this posting) to mention the company that built SpaceShipOne. This doesn’t exactly help broadcast the exceptional private nature of the flight, nor promote the company.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Building a "Droid" for the ISS:: 'Droid' is right this thing looks EXACTLY like the 'remote' from Star Wars (the ball Luke uses to test his light saber).

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Centennial Challenges Program::
Welcome to Centennial Challenges, NASA's program of prize contests to stimulate innovation and competition in solar system exploration and ongoing NASA mission areas. By making awards based on actual achievements, instead of proposals, Centennial Challenges seeks novel solutions to NASA's mission challenges from non-traditional sources of innovation in academia, industry and the public.

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

CEO Interview: Glenn Henry, founder of VIA processor subsidiary Centaur:: Here is an interview for those interested in the types of robots that are most likely to be seen in your home within the next few years. Making a cheap x86 processor, with low power and a small footprint, is ideal for mobile robots. Also, combined with Linux, you can easily make some very cheap off-the-shelf robots.

Too bad vision is perhaps the single most processor intensive method of perception, yet probably the most important step to getting a general purpose robot.

By the way, I’d be interested in taking a quick survey: what would you most like a domestic robot to be capable of within the next few years? Possible categories include entertainment, communication, security, clearing etc., but you can be as specific as you like.

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Ronald Reagan: My hero, and an eternal light for the world
When I heard President Reagan tell that story, I said to myself, ''Arnold, you Austrian immigrant, he is talking to you. He is saying that you will fit in here. You will be a real American, able to follow your dreams.''
Indeed some would say that Arnold is the ideological heir to Reagan, at least more than Bush. Either way, focus on liberty as the root of morality and success is very good as we remember WWII, the UK has what is basically a referendum for the EU (Vote UKIP), and as Iraq comes closer to autonomy.
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MSNBC - Brigitte Bardot fined for inciting racial hatred:: I'm always surprised when I read about other countries and their laws which are very far from America's 1st amendment. She wrote a book, and was convicted of a crime. France is indeed a technocrat's heaven.

"Control, control. You must learn control." - Yoda

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Monday, June 07, 2004

why-war.com?: "War is the very crudest of responses and reflects the utter failure of imagination and intelligence in foreign policy. The cycle of poverty, inequality, and hatred will grow worse. Terrorist recruiting will flourish in the aftermath."
--Prof. Thompson Bradley, Swarthmore College

"The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge – and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest."
-Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984, on the beaches of Normandy

Also, go here and listen to Condi Rice in the FNC Interviews section. The G-8 is holding a summit now which is mainly focused on democracy in the Middle East. I don't understand how people could oppose US action in the past, where we opted for security rather than democracy, and ALSO go against US action now, where we act to secure democracy and put reform in overdrive.

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Saturday, June 05, 2004

Third Party votes are never wasted:: I really think that the 2 party system in America does little more than make the majority of people disappointed in the result. The link above is to an interesting post & discussion in the comments about the effect of votes for 3rd party candidates in different systems focusing on USA & UK.

I think that a vote ALWAYS sends a message, and you should vote for the person who will best represent your ideas. A "lesser of probably evils" vote is a race to the bottom, and probably designed by the FEC, which is manned almost exclusively by Democrats & Republicans. Please use the following incomplete guide to voting in America's Presidential Election 2004 [InG 2 VInAPE 2004]:

If you want universal health care guaranteed by the government, vote Nader.

If you want an immediate pull out of Iraq and a toned-down American foreign policy, vote Nader or Libertarian.

If you want fast changes in government which will give a great deal of responsibility and tax dollars back to individuals through the reform of health care, Social Security, Welfare, omnipresent regulation, and unfair tax codes, vote Libertarian.

If you want it at a slightly slower pace (hopefully), vote Bush.

If you want an effective foreign policy in the face of terrorist strikes, and a commitment to democracy in the Middle East, vote Bush.

If you want free trade, vote Libertarian or Bush.

If you want protectionism, or "fair" trade, vote Nader.

If you want someone who has had all the views above, watered down and milquetoast, vote Kerry.

If you want to follow in lock-step with the crowd, vote for Not-Bush or Not-Kerry. They both seem popular these days.

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The New York Times > Science > NASA Weighs Robot Mission to Telescope:: I don't think CMU is in the running anymore, but a robot, even if controlled from the ground, should save the Hubble. It certainly would do a lot to improve the image of robotics in America, where The Terminator & The Matrix have simply assumed that AI will deem human kind dangerous and obsolete. This says something about the self-esteem of our species…
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Thursday, June 03, 2004

CNN.com - CIA chief Tenet resigns:: I'm glad about this. I think he should have been tossed out after 911 and after the WMD debacle. But it was for personal reasons. There is NO evidence to suggest otherwise, but CNN certainly manages to imply quite a bit in the cnn.com description:
CIA Director George Tenet, dogged by criticism over the CIA's claim of Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has resigned after seven years on the job. Tenet addressed CIA employees today saying, "It was a personal decision" to leave. During his remarks he praised the agency's "magnificent work," but added, "our record is not without flaws."
So, dogged by criticism and failures he is leaving for personal reasons after admitting flaws
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