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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2003
McClintock the spoiler
Tom McClintock gets conservative support here, and John writes:
McClintock is nothing but a spoiler. There is no plausible scenario in which he can finish better than 3rd place. Voting for McClintock in the Calif Recall is like voting voting for Buchanan in 2000.

Calif. is overwhelmingly Democratic. Arnold cannot win unless he gets a lot of Democratic votes. That would be true even if McClintock dropped out, and it is especially true with him still stubbornly staying in. Arnold's positions have been about as conservative as possible, and still get Democratic votes. You may like McClintock better, but he will not get any Democratic votes.

This is probably true, and would be a strong reason for supporting Arnold if - IF - the only purpose, or even if the main purpose, of the recall election is to determine who will be governor of California.

Roger overlooks the other consequence of the election, which in the minds of many conservatives is equally important, and perhaps even more important, than who will be governor Who will control the Republican party in California?

Arnold may not be able to do that much as governor, but he will be able to install his people - which means Pete Wilson's people - to control the party and purge conservatives.

Apparently Roger does not appreciate how intensely and bitterly California conservatives hate Pete Wilson and all of his works and pomps. Most people remember only Pete Wilson's late endorsement of Prop 187 (a last-ditch Hail Mary play to save his otherwise losing campaign), and forget his largest tax increase in California history and his systematic effort to purge social conservatives from elective office and party positions.

The California Republican Party was a bastion and driving force for conservatism nationwide - responsible for Goldwater and Reagan. Now the grassroots have been purged from party leadership, which is firmly controlled by Bush's money man, Gerald Parsky (who opposed the recall, BTW). The election of Arnold will probably lead to the continued exclusion of true conservatives from all positions of leadership.

Not being a Californian, I don't really care about who is governor since, let's be honest, the state is pretty well lost anyway. For those of us in the other 49 states, it would be worse to have a liberal Republican as governor of California than a Democrat.

Meanwhile, McClintock is now getting most of his financial support from indian casinos. The indian casinos hate Arnold because he says he wants to make them pay taxes. The Indian casinos support McClintock because he is anti-tax, and support McClintock is the best way to defeat Arnold.
What troubles me about McClintock isn't the Indian money he is taking (which isn't all that much; it's only a fraction of what the Indians are giving Bustamonte). It's the fact that McClintock endorses and supports the Indian political and legal demands, the perpetuation of the outrageous loopholes they enjoy. Apparently McClintock has supported (and been supported by) Indian casino interests throughout his career, not just in the recall.

For more info, see John Fund's two articles, Indian Givers and Indian Givers II.

If so, so much the better. Those controlling the Calif. Repub. Party have been a disaster. They have turned a predominantly Republican state into a predominant Democratic state. They have lost every single statewide office, and 2/3 of the legislature. It is time to purge the losers, and bring in new blood.
This is not the fault of conservatives.
I think that Wilson said that tax increase was his biggest mistake. But, as Arnold says, Wilson will not be on the ballot next week.
Since Arnold staffed his campaign with Wilson's people, one can assume those are the people he is likely to use in his administration and move them into control of the Republican party.
Now we get to the core of your argument. You'd rather sacrifice California for the sake of some dubious national goal. That is unacceptable to us Californians, of course, but I fail to how it benefits Republicans in the other 49 states to have Gray Davis as governor. I realize that there were some pro-Bush people who thought that Bush is more likely to win California in 2004 if Davis is governor. But those people are morons. Bush stands no chance of winning California as long as Davis is governor.
My purpose is not to help Bush carry California in 2004, which is next to impossible. Even assuming that Republicans can't win statewide for the foreseeable future, Republicans still control 20 of California's 53 seats in Congress. That is a decisive block since Republicans only control Congress by a 12-seat majority. We would hope to get conservatives elected to these 20 seats as well as the state legislature from Republican districts. Pete Wilson tried to eliminate conservatives from all such positions.
McClintock is nothing but a spoiler. There is no plausible scenario in which he can finish better than 3rd place. Voting for McClintock in the Calif Recall is like voting voting for Buchanan in 2000.

As this article points out, Arnold could well be hurt if McClintock drops out. The reason is that every McClintock voter is certain to vote Yes on the recall. If McClintock's supporters stay home next Tuesday, the recall could fail.

Did you see Arianna on Larry King tonight? She is now recommending No on Recall, and then voting for whomever is most likely to cause Arnold to lose!

Listening to her argument should persuade any conservative Republican to vote for Arnold.

Moore revises Columbine
Spinsanity likes to skewer both right and left wingers with facts. This time it points out that Michael Moore has corrected some lies in the Bowling for Columbine DVD. Or rather, changed some lies, to be more precise. The changes only show that the misrepresentations are deliberate.

There is also a piece on some of the silly attacks on John Ashcroft. He is demonized in ways that make no sense at all. The Left really hates him for reasons that have nothing to do with the Patriot Act, or any of the other attacks on him.

Bustamante dropping out?
Besides being a racist leftist idiot, Lt. Gov. Bustamante has some wacky personal connections. His brother manages an indian casino, and her sister is a really strange performance artist.
Wesley Clark's vision
Wired magazine reports:
Wesley Clark: Rhodes scholar, four-star general, NATO commander, time-travel fanatic? ...

"We need a vision of how we're going to move humanity ahead, and then we need to harness science to do it," Clark told a group of about 50 people in ... New Hampshire ...

"I still believe in e=mc², but I can't believe that in all of human history, we'll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go," said Clark. "I happen to believe that mankind can do it."

"I've argued with physicists about it, I've argued with best friends about it. I just have to believe it. It's my only faith-based initiative." Clark's comment prompted laughter and applause from the gathering.

So Clark wants to be president in order to implement his vision of doing things that science has shown to be impossible? What a kook! This is even crazier than Jimmy Carter claiming to have seen a UFO.
Bustamante ad
Bustamante's new TV ad says:
Arnold doesn't share our values. He won't fight for our health care, our neighborhoods, our jobs. He doesn't live in our world. He lives on Planet Hollywood. There is a long list of candidates, finding my name won't be easy, but I need you to do it, because I need your vote for governor.
The choice of words is very curious. It doesn't make much sense, unless you assume that he is only appealing to illiterate Mexican-Americans. Who else has trouble reading the ballot? Why else would he be using code words like "share our values"?

Bustamante appears to owned by the Indian casinos. He is spending millions of dollars of casino money on pro-Bustamante ads, in defiance of a court order. His brother is an Indian casino manager. McClintock appears to be also dependent on Indian gambling money. This shows how crooked California politics has become.

Imagine if McClintock belonged to a racist organization with the motto: For the race, everything. For those outside the race, nothing. Imagine if he ran a TV ad saying:

Cruz doesn't share our values. He won't fight for our neighborhoods or our jobs. He doesn't live in our world. He lives in Aztlan, the fictional result of repatriating California and Texas to be part of Mexico. Please vote for me, as my supporters can actually read the ballot.

Sunday, Sep 28, 2003
LA Times backs Davis
An LA Times editorial recommends keeping Gov. Gray Davis in office because:
Davis is a leader of intellect but of no soul. He is a competent policy wonk who can speak at length about budget subventions (don't ask) but can't get legislators of his own Democratic Party to, as he once put it, "implement my vision." For one thing, nobody knows what that vision is. Love them or hate them, former Govs. Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan knew where they wanted to take this state. Davis' modest ideas of where he should steer the ship of state have been those of the overnight helmsman, not the captain. He has spent too much time avoiding issues: not dealing with the energy crisis and not providing relief for small businesses until it was almost too late; not cultivating legislative relationships that could have made him an effective governor.
Do you see anything positive here? In spite of the above, it is against the recall because:
The implications of this recall go far beyond whether the abysmally unpopular Davis stays or goes.
It is amazing how Davis's core constituency has such a hard time saying anything positive about him, even when endorsing him. What really scares the leftist media is the possibility of direct democratic election of a populist Republican.

Saturday, Sep 27, 2003
Popular programming languages
A source code repository lists its open source projects by programming language. C, C++, and Java are the most popular:
  • Ada (38 projects)
  • APL (3 projects)
  • ASP (26 projects)
  • Assembly (177 projects)
  • Awk (40 projects)
  • Basic (15 projects)
  • C (5517 projects)
  • C# (45 projects)
  • C++ (2481 projects)
  • Cold Fusion (10 projects)
  • Common Lisp (29 projects)
  • Delphi (50 projects)
  • Dylan (2 projects)
  • Eiffel (21 projects)
  • Emacs-Lisp (33 projects)
  • Erlang (11 projects)
  • Euler (1 project)
  • Euphoria (2 projects)
  • Forth (16 projects)
  • Fortran (45 projects)
  • Haskell (28 projects)
  • Java (2396 projects)
  • JavaScript (235 projects)
  • Lisp (66 projects)
  • Logo (2 projects)
  • ML (26 projects)
  • Modula (7 projects)
  • Object Pascal (10 projects)
  • Objective C (136 projects)
  • OCaml (22 projects)
  • Other (163 projects)
  • Other Scripting Engines (85 projects)
  • Pascal (38 projects)
  • Perl (2764 projects)
  • PHP (2060 projects)
  • Pike (3 projects)
  • PL/SQL (61 projects)
  • Pliant (1 project)
  • PROGRESS (2 projects)
  • Prolog (8 projects)
  • Python (1198 projects)
  • Rexx (7 projects)
  • Ruby (128 projects)
  • Scheme (79 projects)
  • Simula (1 project)
  • Smalltalk (21 projects)
  • SQL (293 projects)
  • Tcl (357 projects)
  • Unix Shell (554 projects)
  • Visual Basic (15 projects)
  • XBasic (1 project)
  • YACC (11 projects)
  • Zope (34 projects)
    School tracking works
    Today's NY Times Magazine says:
    And now a study published last month by the Public Policy Institute of California could well add fuel to the fires on both sides of the issue. The study concludes that students' performances are demonstrably affected by those of their peers. ''One of the more consistent findings,'' as Julian Betts, a professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-author of the study, put it, is that ''an individual student's rate of learning appears to be strongly, and positively, influenced by the initial achievement of students in his or her grade, and with somewhat less consistency than that of students in his or her classroom.''
    No conservatives allowed on campus
    David Brooks says that conservatives are not welcome in academia, and many have to keep their views in the closet.

    George writes:

    Sure, there aren't that many conservatives in academia, but there aren't really that many Marxists either.
    You act like a department is balanced if it has equal numbers of Marxists and conservatives! Marxists are extremists on the fringe, no matter how you look at it. Conservatives such as Ronald Reagan supporters are squarely in the middle of the American political mainstream.

    Thursday, Sep 25, 2003
    Msft is a security threat
    John sends this story about a CCIA report that claim governments are taking a risk by increasingly relying on Msft. C-Net reports that the lead author was fired from his job, apparently at the request of Msft.

    The report does make some interesting points, but I think that it overstates the threat to having a dominant OS supplier.

    Phil writes:

    There's no conceivable benefit to the authors of the so-called OS to release it littered with exploitable holes. Yet they did.
    None? Msft would very much like to reposition its OS products as services that are leased, rather than products that are bought. It would like business to just pay an annual fee for every computer running Windows, and get regular updates as part of the deal.

    The proliferation of Windows worms and viruses makes people dependent on Msft for regular updates. It convinces everyone that an OS is inherently unstable, and needs to be updated regularly.

    Msft may not have put in those holes deliberately, but it does appear to benefit from them. And the way the law works, Msft has no liability for its bugs.

    Rich trial lawyers
    John sends this study claiming that trial lawyers such $40B out of our economy every year. What a waste of money. If all those judgment could be divided by 10 somehow, most of us would be better off. More details here.
    Do-not-call list
    Congress is acting to save the Do Not Call list. 50M people signed up. The House voted 417-8. Now what can be done about the activist federal judges like the one in OK who issued an injunction against the list? His reasoning was idiotic.

    Update: I pay my phone company to block telemarketer calls, but occasionally some slip thru from Oklahoma. I guess the telemarketers own the judges there.

    Update: Now another judge has gotten into the act. Call Judge Lee R. West at +1-405-609-5140, or Judge Edward W. Nottingham at at +1-303-844-5018.

    George writes:

    Are you suggesting that people make harassing telephone calls to these judges?
    Harassing is a pejorative word. I am suggesting that people exercise what these judges regard as their 1A rights. Apparently people have already done that, as the AP reports:
    West's home and office telephone numbers were posted on the Internet, and consumers angry with the ruling were encouraged to call. Calls by The Associated Press to West's home seeking comment were blocked by busy signals.
    I also tried West's home number of 405-348-0818, but only got busy signals. Is he getting the message?

    Meanwhile, the leading vendor of electronic voting machines is trying to shut down a site that points out security problems with the high-tech voting machines. Check it out, and you'll want those punch-card ballots back.

    Wednesday, Sep 24, 2003
    Some people sure got hysterical about a trivial little privacy violation on the part of JetBlue airlines. I agree with Slate Chatterbox that complaints by the NY Times and others were seriously overblown.

    Monday, Sep 22, 2003
    ACLU slip-up
    The 9th Circuit hearing on canceling the California recall election ended with the ACLU lawyer getting an extra 30 seconds at the end and saying he'll just make 3 points. He ended by saying this:
    That is, your honor, the strongest case that has ever been in this Circus. (laughter)
    The NY Times has an especially illogical editorial:
    Critics of the Ninth Circuit ruling have tried mightily to get around Bush v. Gore. Some argue, as the district court that first heard the recall case did, that it should be "limited to its unique context." But in our system, legal principles apply equally to all Americans. It cannot be that George Bush got a different level of equal protection than everyone else. Critics of the appeals court ruling have also tried to argue that the facts in California are very different from those in Florida. But if anything, those differences make the case for intervention stronger. Ruling that legal votes will not be counted, as the Supreme Court did in Florida, is a far greater intrusion on democracy than delaying an election.
    The Supreme did not rule (and could not have ruled) that legal votes would not be counted. All of the Florida 2000 votes were counted at least once, and some of them several times. Even after a one year newspaper investigation, no one found a single legal vote that was not counted.

    Nor has anyone ever argued that G. Bush is entitled to some protection that is not available to others. But that is really illogical is that the NY Times attacks the Bush v. Gore decision at the same time that it urges the 9C to apply it to this recall election!

    I don't think that this recall issue has much relation to Bush v. Gore, but if it does, then I say that Bush v. Gore should be strictly applied. The federal courts should stop any lower appellate court meddling with statutory election procedures unless, at the very least, it has been proven that it won't unequally disenfranchise others in the process. But a delay will disenfranchise the 500k voters who have already voted, and the rest of the voters who wanted a recall this year.

    Gov. Davis has announced that he now favors having an election without delay, so I assume that the Democrats on the 9C will rule that way this morning. They were strangely silent during the hearing.

    Update: The 9C just ruled that the recall election can proceed as scheduled. The vote was 11-0.

    Rhodes scholars
    Andrew Sullivan says:
    To my mind, the most important thing about [Wesley] Clark is that he was a Rhodes Scholar. Almost to a man and woman, they are mega-losers, curriculum-vitae fetishists, with huge ambition and no concept of what to do with it.
    Josh Chavetz says that Sullivan is a jerk for saying that, and then lists a bunch of famous and accomplished Rhodes scholars.

    Check the list yourself. I say that every single one of them is vastly overrated, if not a mega-loser.

    EBay spying
    In case you thought that you had any privacy on eBay, read this report on how it cooperates with govt investigations.

    Saturday, Sep 20, 2003
    Hitler's home
    Found this:
    In November 1938 the English fashion magazine Homes & Gardens profiled on page 193-195 the home of Adolf Hitler ...
    The magazine publisher has tried to suppress putting this on the net, but there is no stopping it now.

    George writes:

    Why are you linking to a neo-nazi holocaust denier who glorifies Hitler?
    David Irving is none of those things. He is a respected historian who has written some WWII-related books. He has had some obscure disputes with some other historians, but they are uninteresting to most people.

    Besides, I sometimes have links to commie sympathizers, so why should anyone care if I had a link to a nazi sympathizer? This particular link is to an uncontroversial and non-ideological article.

    Copyrighted code
    ISO wants to collect money for use of some standard codes, like US=USA, CA=Canada, FR=France, etc.

    Here is a lawsuit from some company that claims to own the Dewey Decimal system for classifying books.

    First cancelled election
    500k absentee votes are already in, and it would be a radical move to cancel the Calif. recall election and throw out those votes. The Si Valley paper reports:
    California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley and recall advocates welcomed the decision to rehear the case with the 11-judge, or en banc, panel. Shelley again warned that a delay would be ``devastating'' because it would force some 500,000 absentee ballots already cast to be discarded and require officials to reopen the filing period for candidates.

    ``Never in the history of this country has an election been halted after the electoral process, specifically voting, has begun,'' Shelley said.

    Very persuasive point, but not true. New York City was holding a primary to elect a new mayor on Sept. 11, 2001, when the WTC collapsed. According to this article, NY Gov. Pataki issued an executive order cancelling the election, and at least one judge issued an oral order.

    But that exception will be of no comfort to the 9C. It only shows what sort of emergency it takes to justify cancelling an election. If Mexico cancelled an election because some partisan 3-judge panel declared that they didn't like punchcards, then everyone would conclude that the Mexican govt is corrupt and the system lacks respect for basic democratic functions.

    The 9C is sure to reverse the 3-judge panel, and let the recall election proceed. Look for a vote of at least 9-2. They want to avoid another SC reversal.

    Conventional wisdom says that the US SC won't want to hear the case. The ACLU lawyer says:

    it's clear that a court could not rule against us without effectively reversing Bush versus Gore. That's the principle of Bush versus Gore that all voters are to have an equal opportunity to have their votes counted.
    I think that all 9 judges on the SC would happily make the point that Bush v. Gore stands for the principle that judge should not interfere with elections.

    George write:

    What do you mean? It was the Supreme Court that stopped the 2000 Florida recount, and meddled in the election.
    No, all the statutory recounts took place as required. All the US SC did was to block the FL SC from canceling the election certification and doing a blatantly partisan recount of its own choosing.

    Friday, Sep 19, 2003
    Unanswered 9/11 questions
    John sends this list of unanswered 9/11 questions. Yes, we need answers.
    Mail-bombing attack
    The email address on this page is rapidly becoming useless because of relentless mail-bombing. I have no idea who is doing it. If it doesn't stop soon, I'll close the account and open a new one.

    Thursday, Sep 18, 2003
    John sends this story about Microsoft wanting to improve its search engine to compete with Google. I expect Msft to do this, as most of what Google does is known technology that Msft can imitate. Google is the king now, but another strong competitor will be Yahoo, which has bought Overture, Inktomi, AltaVista, and AllTheWeb. Those each have some advantages over Google, and if Yahoo can put them together, they will be competitive.

    Meanwhile, people are complaining about the huge $521M Eolas patent judgment against Msft. I agree that the patent is dubious, but Msft should have never copied it anyway. The patent only covers using a web browser to load and run a multimedia file automatically (like Flash), without the user being able to do anything about it. I never liked web pages that did that, and I hope Eolas forces Msft to eliminate that feature. It is an obnoxious feature, and we'd all be better off without it.

    Gov. Davis bought votes
    John sends this LA Times column. It rebuts MoveOn.org's argument that Issa spent $1 per signature on the recall petitions, by pointing out that Davis spent $20 per vote in last year's election.

    The SF paper quotes Gov. Davis as admitting that he has lost touch with voters, and saying, in response to a query about his vision for the state:

    My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state.
    Next he'll want to give drivers licenses to space aliens.

    Meanwhile, law prof. Larry Tribe shows that he is just a partisan hack by defending the crooked 9th Circuit decision cancelling the Calif recall election. He concedes that Republicans are being consistent by advocating that elections follow statutory schedules, but argues that using punchcards discriminates against urban minorities.

    George writes:

    How can you call the 9th Circuit "crooked" when L. Tribe and others came to the same conclusion? They could sue you for libel.
    I am not calling the whole 9th Circuit crooked. Just judges PREGERSON, THOMAS, and PAEZ. They could not possibly honestly believe what they say in their opinion unless there were total morons. They appear to be driven by some partisan political agenda.

    Tribe says what he says because he is a paid lobbyist for certain left-wing political interests that happen to like the decision. He is just another idiot lawyer writing a goofy legal brief, because his client paid him to do that. The 9C judges have lifetime tenure, and are blatantly corrupt and partisan. They should be impeached, and Bush should appoint right-wingers to replace them. There are no examples of right-wing judges issuing such partisan, activist, and extreme decisions.

    George writes:

    Now you are slandering Tribe. How do you know he has been paid to take his positions?
    His WSJ column today says:
    Mr. Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, is co-counsel for the parties challenging California's procedure and represented Vice President Al Gore in Bush v. Gore.
    Update: The 11-judge panel will include 1 Carter appointee, 2 Reagan appointees, 1 GHW Bush appointee, and 7 Clinton appointees. It does not include ACLU goofball Reinhardt or any of the 3 judges who wrote the wacky opinion. I can only hope that Kozinski will keep them honest (although it seems pathetic that I have to hope that a Romanian will explain fair elections to a bunch of Americans).
    California recall delay
    I am glad to see most commentators recognize the foolishness of the 9th Circuit decision to cancel the recall election, but Slate's idiot legal columnist Dahlia Lithwick says:
    The logic of the panel (and of the original Bush decision) would hold that any election with differing voting apparatus is inherently unconstitutional. And that renders every election, past and future, illegal.
    Of course Bush v. Gore said nothing of the kind, and all 9 SC judges would disagree. The majority said:
    The question before the Court is not whether local entities, in the exercise of their expertise, may develop different systems for implementing elections. Instead, we are presented with a situation where a state court with the power to assure uniformity has ordered a statewide recount with minimal procedural safeguards. When a court orders a statewide remedy, there must be at least some assurance that the rudimentary requirements of equal treatment and fundamental fairness are satisfied.
    The whole point of Bush v. Gore was to limit judicial intervention in an election. There is no way it can be read to encourage such intervention. And especially not to say a state election in progress cannot follow state election law.

    Tuesday, Sep 16, 2003
    Beef consumption is up
    Slate's lead article says that people are eating more beef and eggs and other foods on the Atkins diet, while sales of products recommended by competing diets are down. But it tries to debunk the popular explanation that the Atkins diet is the cause. Why? Because there are not enough people on the Atkins diet to account for the large shifts.

    But there is a simpler explanation. For years, everyone has been subjected to propaganda from the Amer. Med. Assn. and others that beef and eggs are unhealthy. So millions of people cut back on beef and eggs, whether they were dieting or not. But now Atkins has proved the AMA wrong, and people are free to eat beef and eggs again. So Atkins could be responsible for a huge shift, far beyond the people who actually stick to a strict Atkins diet.

    Another Slate column label this John Ashcroft statement Whopper of the Week:

    No one believes in our First Amendment civil liberties more than this administration.
    Why is this wrong? For it to be wrong, then someone must believe in our First Amendment civil liberties more. But whom?

    The only support is a reference to Bill Maher being fired from ABC, and Rumsfeld saying that a healthy debate won't interfere with the war on terrorism.

    Remember that it was the Clinton administration that wanted to radically expand wiretapping, and to prohibit the private use of encryption. That was an attack on First Amendment civil liberties far beyond anything currently contemplated. I prefer the Bush administration.

    Mexifornia drivers license
    Here is a sample of the new license.
    Watson on DNA
    I just finished the audio version of James D. Watson's new book on DNA. It has good layman explanations of genetic research of the last 50 years or so. It works fairly well on audio, except that the reader has an annoying accent. Surely they could have found someone who doesn't talk funny.

    Watson have various dubious opinions sprinkled among his explanations. He is against NIH applying for patents on genes. He complains about a private company (Celera) doing private genetic research, and holding up some info for 3 months before publication. He complains about universities having to pay to use patents. He once favored tight restrictions on genetic research, but now wants no restrictions on genetically modified food and other controversial gene uses. And most controversially, he wants everybody to submit DNA samples for a national or worldwide database that would be used for police work and maybe insurance fee adjustment as well.

    The book also presents an exaggerated view of his own accomplishments. He keeps referring to his double helix paper as if it were one of the greatest discoveries of all time. In reality, his contribution (with Crick) was minor. Avery had already shown that the genetic info was carried by DNA, although not everyone believed it. Linus Pauling had worked out the theory for figuring out the molecular structure of dozens of biological compounds, and had conjectured a specific helical structure for DNA that was close but not quite right. Others had figured out the constituents of DNA. Rosalind Franklin had done the crucial x-ray crystallography experiments that showed the helical structure more precisely. All Crick and Watson did was to use Franklin's data to publish an improvement to Pauling's model. It might have been done by others, but Franklin's pictures were unpublished and Crick and Watson managed to steal them from her lab. Later scientists figured out the significance of the base pairs in the Pauling-Franklin-Watson-Crick model.

    Monday, Sep 15, 2003
    Leftist activist court intervenes in recall election
    The 9th Circuit decision to postpone the California recall election is an abomination. It is nothing but a partisan political attempt to subvert a democratic election process.

    The opinion says:

    In this case, Plaintiffs allege that the fundamental right to have votes counted in the special recall election is infringed because the pre-scored punchcard voting systems used in some California counties are intractably afflicted with technologic dyscalculia.
    Huhh? Technologic dyscalculia! That's a new one to me. Until now, there hasn't even been one web page in Google with that phrase.

    It gets worse.

    Plaintiffs’ claim presents almost precisely the same issue as the Court considered in Bush, that is, whether unequal methods of counting votes among counties constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. In Bush, the Supreme Court held that using different standards for counting votes in different counties across Florida violated the Equal Protection Clause. 531 U.S. at 104-07.
    I bet you didn't realize the Bush v. Gore 2000 election case was all about an intractable technologic dyscalculia affliction!

    The main lesson from the Bush v. Gore election dispute is that it is absolutely essential that elections are run according to pre-election rules. The Supreme Court did not hold that using different standards for counting votes in different counties across Florida violated the Equal Protection Clause. It said that a judicially-ordered recount that departs from the pre-election rules must satisfy minimal equal protection standards. Eg, see this WSJ essay.

    It is virtually undisputed that pre-scored punchcard voting systems are significantly more prone to errors that result in a voter’s ballot not being counted than the other voting systems used in California.
    I dispute that. The reason that punchcard voting was thought to be error-prone was that some voters leave hanging chads, and the machines don't always read a hanging chad as a vote. But after the 2000 controversy, voters now know that they need to check their chads, and I would expect punchcard voting to be as accurate as other methods.

    OTOH, putting in some new voting technology, that will be used for the first time in an area, creates its own problems. Voters and poll personel will be unfamiliar with it, and errors are apt to happen.

    Then the court denies that the public even has an interest in having the election follow the rules!

    We agree that the Secretary of State has an interest in complying with state election law, and that this interest must be accounted for in the balance of hardships. However, the district court erred in treating this state interest as if it were a large part of the public interest. ...

    The appropriate examination of the public interest in this context will instead place heavy weight on the principles underlying state law. Those principles of fair and efficient self governance belong in a court’s assessment of the public interest regardless of the presence of state election laws motivated by them. ...

    In sum, in assessing the public interest, the balance falls heavily in favor of postponing the election for a few months.

    So we have unelected judges rewriting our democratic election procedures because of their own personal political opinions about the "public interest"? It is clear that they are politically partisan, and they view keeping Gov. Gray Davis in the public interest. I say that the public interest requires getting rid of Davis as soon as possible.

    I almost vomited when I got to this:

    In addition to the public interest factors we have discussed, we would be remiss if we did not observe that this is a critical time in our nation’s history when we are attempting to persuade the people of other nations of the value of free and open elections. Thus, we are especially mindful of the need to demonstrate our commitment to elections held fairly, free of chaos, with each citizen assured that his or her vote will be counted, and with each vote entitled to equal weight.
    Do these (liberal Democrat) judges really think that the California recall election is so chaotic that it is setting a bad example for Afghanistan and Iraq? If anything, the 9th Circuit has set the bad example by showing that corrupt judges can derail an election at the last minute, and make the March 2004 election much more chaotic.

    If the punchcard ballot is really racist and illegal and unconstitutional, as the court maintains, then what is the justification for Gov. Davis using punchcard ballots to re-elect himself last year? That would be another reason to have a recall election as soon as possible.

    Other problems with the decision: The plaintiffs didn't even have standing, because they already litigated and settled the case. There are other elections scheduled for November, including an LA recall election, and it is not clear why they should be allowed to use punchcards. The Sec'y of State is misquoted in the second sentence. The absentee voting has already started, and the chaos will be much greater if the election is postponed.

    Update: Some of these points are made in Ted Costa's brief.

    Update: This report says:

    the core logic behind the ruling was indeed based on the Berkeley study, but added that the study was funded by Sequoia Voting Systems, a major provider of touch-screen voting machines, now actively seeking additional contracts to install its equipment in California counties.
    So the judges were snowed by a sales pitch for a more expensive product!
    Jonathan Pollard's remorse
    Bill Clinton refused to grant a pardon to convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, despite immense pressure from Israel and Jews, because he said Pollard was an "unrepentant spy".

    Pollard has a web site in he claims to have expressed remorse many times. However, he doesn't really express remorse. I get the impression from his web site that he only regrets getting caught, and that he would betray the USA again if he thought that he could help Israel and get away with it. (And if someone offers him $350k again, I guess.)

    Sunday, Sep 14, 2003
    Overpriced music CDs
    The Denver Post says:
    The best-selling "Chicago" movie soundtrack is available on CD starting at $13.86.

    The actual movie, with the soundtrack songs included, of course, plus additional goodies ranging from deleted musical numbers to the director's interview and a "making-of" feature, can be had for precisely $2.12 more.

    Therein lies the problem for a critically wounded music recording industry: The "Chicago" CD looks like a rip-off, and the DVD looks like a steal.

    Yes. Music is grossly overpriced. The fact that the big labels are still able to sell music CDs at such high prices shows that they are still making way too much money.

    Making a major Hollywood movie costs millions of dollars, and requires the creative input of dozens of people. Making a music CD just requires a couple of musicians and a few thousand dollars in equipment. Music should be selling for about 10 cents a song.

    George writes:

    Are you opposed to the law of supply and demand? Apparently people are willing to pay $18 for a music CD, so that must be a good price.
    Yes, some people are willing to pay. Enough to make a lot of rich music executives. But I prefer to get my music online. Maybe the music labels are maximizing their revenue by selling $18 CDs and refusing to accept money for online music, I don't know. I don't care. If the music labels don't want my business for online music, then I am happy not to pay them.

    Saturday, Sep 13, 2003
    Fewer engineers
    I just ran across this factoid:
    In 1986 college students earned about 24,000 degrees in electrical engineering and about 5,000 degrees in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness. In 1996, they earned nearly 14,000 degrees in each of these fields. Only two years later 4,000 more students were earning degrees in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness than in electrical engineering.
    I guess we don't need American engineers anyway, since we are importing so many from India, China, and elsewhere.
    Bustamante is dumb
    The LA Weekly reports:
    Bustamante, a former Assembly speaker, does not know what caused the state’s record budget crisis. In his speech, he claimed that the power crisis caused the budget crisis.

    “We had a $10 billion budget surplus and they [power generators] stole it from us,” Bustamante declared. “Now 50,000 kids can’t afford the higher college tuition we have to charge.” That is simply flat wrong. The budget crisis was caused by the state spending more money than it was taking in, not by money being “stolen” from the state’s general fund by power generators. Thanks to the deregulation scheme that Bustamante co-authored, the generators made off with a lot of money from consumers. But not from the state budget.

    Gov. Davis and Bustamante pretend to be allies, but they actually hate each other. Bustamante clearly wants to recall Davis, but he wouldn't have a clue about running the state.

    Friday, Sep 12, 2003

    I just heard a child psychologist plugging his book: Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me: The Solution to Sibling Bickering. He says to just forget about trying to resolve some petty dispute between siblings, and don't even listen to their arguments. I agree. If one kid is beating the other one up, I just tell her that she should learn some self-defense.
    Eudora 6.0
    I just upgraded to Eudora 6.0, an email program for Msft Windows. The main new feature is a spam filter that works pretty well. It works like a filter that puts messages in a Junk mailbox. The program is still free if you use it in Light mode, where you are limited to one account, or you use it in Sponsored mode, where it calls home to put ads in the corner of the Eudora window.

    Now here are my gripes.

  • The spam filter doesn't co-exist with the existing filters very well. It is as if they licensed the filter from some other company, and just slapped it in.
  • It still forgets passwords occasionally. If the programs fails to connect with the mail server for some reason, it decides that maybe the password might be at fault, so it erases the password and asks me to type it in again!
  • It has some new icons that are really ugly.
  • If the Sponsored mode fails to call home at get new ads, after 24 hours or so the software cripples itself and switches to Light mode. If you have more than one email account, the program is fairly useless at that point.

    The ads never get thru to my machine because I am behind a firewall that blocks ads.eudora.com. It is a regular http connection thru MSIE. If ads.eudora.com is blocked, then the Sponsored mode doesn't show any ads.

    The good news is that I still had a copy of Eudora 6.0 Beta 10. It doesn't have the ugly icons, and if ads.eudora.com is blocked, then it happily runs in Sponsored mode without showing any ads.

    George writes:

    How do I get Eudora 6.0 Beta 10? And how do I block ads.eudora.com?
    You can block any site by putting a line into your HOSTS file. The HOSTS file is an ordinary text file that keeps a cache of IP addresses.
    On my machine, it is at C:\WINNT\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS, but it might be somewhere else. Eg, you can add " ads.eudora.com". That will tell the OS to look for ads.eudora.com at, the so-called loopback address. This will just look on your own machine, and won't find any Eudora ads.

    If you are running a firewall or similar program, you can sometimes block ads.*.com to block any site of that form. Those are usually pop-up or other undesirable ads.

    I don't know where you can get the Eudora beta. It used to be a freebie on Eudora.com, but it is not there anymore.

  • Tuesday, Sep 09, 2003
    Iron-based life
    This science story says several new discoveries about life in improbably places on Earth. It says life can exist in water hotter than 212F; life can be independent of the Sun's energy; life can have an iron metabolism; and magnetite on ocean floor has biological origin.
    Ed Teller
    Obituaries of Edward Teller in NY Times and AP variously blame him for Hiroshima, the H-bomb, the Cold War, McCarthyism, revoking Oppenheimer's clearance, and SDI. The strongest criticism is usually his testimony against J.R.Oppenheimer. But the JRO docs are online, and the evidence against him is overwhelming. Teller's testimony was relatively innocuous, and it doesn't look to me like it played a major role at all.

    Since then, there has been much more evidence that JRO was a commie, and in contact with spies, and lied about it. The obituaries don't mention that.

    The Si Valley paper obituary says:

    In 1954, when Oppenheimer's patriotism was called to question by Sen. Joseph McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee, Teller testified. Oppenheimer was not disloyal, Teller said, but ``I would like to see the vital interests of this country in hands which I understand better and therefore trust more.''
    No, it was the US Atomic Energy Commission that decided that Oppenheimer was a security risk. Senator McCarthy did not have a House committee, and did not have hearings on the subject.
    360 degree change
    Michelle Pfeiffer said in Parade Magazine:
    I spent alot of timefumbling around, not trusting my feelings, but when I decided to stop needing the approval of other people and just move forward and trust my heart, my life changed 360 degrees for the better.

    Sunday, Sep 07, 2003
    Gray Davis attacks Arnold with anti-immigrant slur
    The Sac. Bee reports:
    Whipped into an anti-Schwarzenegger frenzy at the picnic, one crowd member screamed, "He's a foreigner!" as Davis criticized Schwarzenegger, who hopes to succeed him as governor in the Oct. 7 recall election.

    The man later approached Davis and apologized several times for making the remark. Davis told him not to worry, and added with a smile, "You shouldn't be governor unless you can pronounce the name of the state," in an apparent reference to Schwarzenegger's Austrian accent.

    Meanwhile, businesses are moving out of state because workers compensation in California has soared to $29 billion in 2003 from $9 billion in 1995, and other anti-business policies. Davis's response was to force businesses to offer paid family leave (effective in 2004, I think).

    An SJMN columnist is perplexed that conservative Republicans would support Arnold.

    The record, such as it is, shows that Schwarzenegger is no conservative -- at least not as conventionally measured by positions on the usual array of social issues. Schwarzenegger says he is pro-choice, pro-gun-control, pro-gay-rights and in favor of reasonable environmental regulations.
    Schwarzenegger is also against partial-birth abortion and against gay marriage. His gun-control position position is similar to G W Bush's. All conservatives are in favor of reasonable environmental regulations. But these issues are all just smoke-screens, and not politically significant. Davis is being recalled because of disastrous economic policies, and we need a fiscal conservative to save the state. Arnold promises to be exactly that, and he can win.

    So why didn't conservative rally behind Riordan last year, because he was considered more likely to win than Simon?

    I am not sure Riordan was more likely to win. He had donated substantial amounts of money to Gray Davis, and appeared unwilling or unable to confront Davis on the major issues. He was 73 years old, and according to rumors, was no longer able to run a vigorous campaign. I think that he would have done worse than Simon.

    Santa Cruz wackos
    John sends this story about the lunatics who dominate Santa Cruz politics. Now they want to impeach Bush for lying to us about the Iraq war.

    Update: Another story.

    Friday, Sep 05, 2003
    Direct electronic voting
    Politicians are rushing to electronic voting machines because they would supposed solve problems like hanging chads. Academics complain that the electronic machines are subject to worse frauds.

    This article suggests that the leading vendor of electronic voting machines may have already allowed remote fraud to occur.

    Simson Garfinkel writes this article saying that electronic voting could be a big improvement, but the USA is going about it in the wrong way.

    I happen to believe that it is possible to build secure and reliable electronic voting machines with today's technology. But I doubt that any exist today. Even if they did, there would still be the problem of convincing the public to have confidence in them.

    More evidence that California schools have too much money
    A California high school teacher has collected six criminal misdemeanor charges in the last five years, and is currently sitting in jail for one of them. Besides those problems, he is on probation for inappropriate behavior with his female students, and a judge requires him to have an adult chaperon in his classroom when he teaches girls.

    This SJMN story says that he is still collecting his $74,516 a year salary! He is on paid leave while he sits in jail. He also continues to collect benefits, and the taxpayers will probably pay for his alcohol treatment program when he gets out of jail.

    George writes:

    He hasn't been convicted of some of those charges. Doesn't he have some due process rights?
    He is entitled to his day in court, but the school shouldn't pay him unless he is able to show up at work and do his job. And he should be able to do it without a chaperon, also. If the school is paying this guy in jail, then it must have money to burn.

    Thursday, Sep 04, 2003
    Handedness may be genetic
    John sends this Nature article saying that being right-handed is correlated with hair whorling clockwise on the scalp. If so, maybe there is a genetic explanation for both.

    Wednesday, Sep 03, 2003
    Bustamante is a moron
    It is hard to believe that a moron like Cruz Bustamante could be Lt. Gov. in California, and be considered a serious candidate for governor. I just listened to his prepared closing statement in the debate today. First he says that twice (ie, in 1998 and 2002), 5 million people voted for him. But he only got 3.5M votes in 2002.

    Then he advocated price controls on gasoline by complaining that it is refined in California and shipped to Nevada where it costs more. He meant to complain that gasoline is cheaper in Nevada, but he said it backwards. The audience laughed at him, and there was an embarrassing pause. Then he said it again, and said it wrong again! He was puzzled as to why the audience was laughing at him again.

    Tuesday, Sep 02, 2003
    Why save Davis?
    The arguments for retaining Gov. Gray Davis are amusingly pathetic. Consider this SJMN letter:
    Californians might want to think about this recall election for Gov. Davis. During his first term, Davis spent, as we all know, very little time being governor and most of his time raising money for his re-election campaign. He did, however, get a little experience on how to be a governor.

    I think that in the three years he has left on his second term he might be a fairly decent governor because he will not need to spend any time fundraising for another public office. I think everyone knows that he can never be elected to another public office. Ever.

    I am afraid that if Davis devotes more time to being governor, then he'll do even more damage to the state. He is not learning from his mistakes.

    Monday, Sep 01, 2003
    Feinstein like Helmsley
    I knew that Gray Davis always ran nasty negative campaigns, but I had forgotten this 1992 ad against fellow Democrat Feinstein:
    Flashing side-by-side photos of the two women, the TV spot's off-camera announcer intoned:

    "Leona Helmsley and Dianne Feinstein? Hotel queen Helmsley misreported $1 million to the IRS. Feinstein misreported $8 million to the Fair Political Practices Commission. Helmsley blames her servants for the felony. Feinstein blames her staff for the lawsuit. Helmsley is in jail. Feinstein wants to be a senator? Truth for a change. Gray Davis, Democrat for U.S. Senate."

    It is hard to believe that guy is governor of California.
    Dead astronauts
    Dave Stafford's blog says we need more dead astronauts.
    J Robert Oppenheimer
    A NY Times obituary says:
    In the mid-1950's, at the height of American anti-Communist fervor, ... Dr. Oppenheimer was accused of being a Communist and branded a security risk by the government, and his security clearance was revoked.
    This is misleading. First, Oppenheimer did not have his security clearance revoked because of accusations that he was a commie. Here is the testimony against him, and no one accused him of being a commie or a spy. The complete 1954 decision is here. Oppenheimer's security clearance was revoked because of at least 6 serious documented lies, including lies about contacts with commies. Normally any one of these lies would be sufficient to withdraw a security clearance. He was also shown to be a commie "fellow traveler" who even donated money to the Communist Party.

    Second, there is now convincing evidence that Oppenheimer was indeed a commie. Last year, the NY Times reported:

    Adding a startling chapter to the long historical debate over the secret laboratory that developed the atom bomb in World War II, a new book concludes that its leader, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, belonged to the American Communist Party in the late 1930's and early 40's.

    Contrary to his repeated denials, Oppenheimer belonged to a cell of the party that discouraged members from disclosing their membership, says the book, "Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller," by Gregg Herken, a senior historian at the Smithsonian Institution. It is being published today by Henry Holt.

    The book rests its case on a cache of newly discovered letters, Oppenheimer's reaction to work on an accusatory memoir and the discovery of Communist literature the author links to Oppenheimer. Most of the letters are from Haakon Chevalier, a colleague of Oppenheimer at the University of California at Berkeley.

    There is also evidence that Oppenheimer was a commie spy, from a 1994 book by KGB agent Pavel A. Sudoplatov and from the NSA Venona Project. Most historians think that the evidence of betrayal is inconclusive. However there is no doubt that he was close friends with Chevalier, that Chevalier was a commie spy, and that Oppenheimer covered up and lied about the connection for most of his life.