V3 (March)

What is this?
Occasional links & observations from
Steve Bogart


Nearby entries:
   13 April
  29 March
 28 March
> 21 March <
15 March 
8 March  
25 Feb   


21 March 2001

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
-- G.K. Chesterton

Boy, there's really nothing quite like breaking down on the side of a major highway late at night on a holiday known for drinking and then waiting for an hour for a tow while staring into the rear view mirror as cars are zipping past you over the speed limit only 7 feet away to really make you very, very tense. I think all the extra adrenalin's out of me now...

More details, if you care.

One problem I have with the simplistic Republican argument that "The government takes too much and you should get some back" is that after any given tax cut, you can just say it again to justify another tax cut, and then again, and so on until you hit zero taxes. It leaves out anything about what the right amount is.

While it's a cute, exaggerated position to take that there should be no taxes whatsoever, I don't honestly think the Republican Party or the Present White House Occupant (PWHO) truly believe that. That would make them capital-L Libertarians, and they sure don't seem to be that.

So what is the appropriate level of taxation according to Republicans? And given whatever it is, why aren't they making that argument: that government should only be this big instead of that big? Why are they only saying 'government should be smaller' and not elaborating on how small they really think it should get? Would the voters who put them there not like the answer? Do they think we won't understand?

My instinctively cynical answer is that they just want to wave money in our face and say 'Look, a tax cut! MUNEE. Munee for you.' and hope we'll just be so happy that we won't ask any more questions while they do whatever it is they want to distract us from. I haven't seen anything to convince me that's not exactly what they're doing.

  • You're Clear to Land by Thomas L. Friedman [NYTimes]
    [Faith-based air traffic control] will transfer tax dollars from overfed government bureaucrats back to the people. The airlines will be forced to become self-reliant, instead of depending on the public dole and publicly funded air traffic controllers listen to President Bush, you'd think our only two choices today were a tax cut that returns the surplus to the people or having it wasted by the government. He never discusses a third possibility - that government provides essential services in our lives, that we as Americans are fortunate to have the services we have, and that we constantly need to be reinvesting in them because we have a collective responsibility to our children's future...

    So when Mr. Bush repeats his mantra that the budget surplus "is not the government's money, it's your money," he's right. But the sentence is incomplete. ... "But it's also going to be your responsibility to pay your parents' nursing home bills when they get old and you find that Social Security and Medicare are underfunded..."

Not to mention the rank dishonesty surrounding the Republican estimates of the tax cut's size:

  • The Money Pit by Paul Krugman [NY Times]
    Last May, when George W. Bush was claiming that he planned only a trillion-dollar tax cut - remember the routine with the dollar bills? - independent experts estimated the actual 10-year budget cost of his tax plan at close to $2 trillion. They also warned that under Mr. Bush's plan a hitherto obscure aspect of the tax code, the alternative minimum tax, would become a major issue -- and resolving that issue would sharply increase the cost of the plan.

    Sure enough, earlier this month the bipartisan Congressional Joint Tax Committee estimated that Mr. Bush's proposal would reduce revenues over the next decade by $2.2 trillion. And the J.T.C. also produced some shocking estimates about the alternative minimum tax. ... under the Bush plan [the number affected by the AMT] would rise to one-third of taxpayers [from 1.5%]. Without question the law will be changed so that this doesn't happen -- but the fix will add at least $300 billion to the cost of the plan.

       485,650, 789,657,397, 829,309,841, 894,694,286, 137,707,442, 087,351,357, 924,019,652, 073,668,698, 513,401,047, 237,446,968, 797,439,926, 117,510,973, 777,701,027, 447,528,049, 058,831,384, 037,549,709, 987,909,653, 955,227,011, 712,157,025, 974,666,993, 240,226,834, 596,619,606, 034,851,742, 497,735,846, 851,885,567, 457,025,712, 547,499,964, 821,941,846, 557,100,841, 190,862,597, 169,479,707, 991,520,048, 667,099,759, 235,960,613, 207,259,737, 979,936,188, 606,316,914, 473,588,300, 245,336,972, 781,813,914, 797,955,513, 399,949,394, 882,899,846, 917,836,100, 182,597,890, 103,160,196, 183,503,434, 489,568,705, 384,520,853, 804,584,241, 565,482,488, 933,380,474, 758,711,283, 395,989,685, 223,254,460, 840,897,111, 977,127,694, 120,795,862, 440,547,161, 321,005,006, 459,820,176, 961,771,809, 478,113,622, 002,723,448, 272,249,323, 259,547,234, 688,002,927, 776,497,906, 148,129,840, 428,345,720, 146,348,968, 547,169,082, 354,737,835, 661,972,186, 224,969,431, 622,716,663, 939,055,430, 241,564,732, 924,855,248, 991,225,739, 466,548,627, 140,482,117, 138,124,388, 217,717,602, 984,125,524, 464,744,505, 583,462,814, 488,335,631, 902,725,319, 590,439,283, 873,764,073, 916,891,257, 924,055,015, 620,889,787, 163,375,999, 107,887,084, 908,159,097, 548,019,285, 768,451,988, 596,305,323, 823,490,558, 092,032,999, 603,234,471, 140,776,019, 847,163,531, 161,713,078, 576,084,862, 236,370,283, 570,104,961, 259,568,184, 678,596,533, 310,077,017, 991,614,674, 472,549,272, 833,486,916, 000,647,585, 917,462,781, 212,690,073, 518,309,241, 530,106,302, 893,295,665, 843,662,000, 800,476,778, 967,984,382, 090,797,619, 859,493,646, 309,380,586, 336,721,469, 695,975,027, 968,771,205, 724,996,666, 980,561,453, 382,074,120, 315,933,770, 309,949,152, 746,918,356, 593,762,102, 220,068,126, 798,273,445, 760,938,020, 304,479,122, 774,980,917, 955,938,387, 121,000,588, 766,689,258, 448,700,470, 772,552,497, 060,444,652, 127,130,404, 321,182,610, 103,591,186, 476,662,963, 858,495,087, 448,497,373, 476,861,420, 880,529,443 an interesting prime number.

Related to that, here's a profile of the guy with the Gallery of DeCSS Descramblers:

  • A Thorn in Hollywood's Side by Declan McCullagh [Wired]
    To Touretzky, his fight against the movie industry's attempt to suppress the spread of DeCSS is hauntingly similar to his encounters with the Church of Scientology, which he describes as a "rich and vengeful religious cult."

    "There are really interesting parallels between the Scientology cases and the DeCSS cases that nobody wants to talk about in public," Touretzky said. "(Both groups) use trade secret and copyright law to crush critics."

    (In fact, he says, the same attorney -- Michael Mervis -- who deposed him in a related DeCSS lawsuit once represented the church.) [!!]

What would be really excellent is if Google added the ability to search recent news articles. I know there are other such services, but I haven't found one that isn't a pain to use (and which actually finds what I'm looking for). I think Google could do a better job of it.

I haven't looked very deep into Microsoft's new "Hailstorm" strategy/product/religion, relying instead on trusted sources to parse the BS for me. These seem like insightful takes:

  • Restating HailStorm (bespoke) by David McCusker [Hack the Planet Prime discussion group]
    Microsoft observes the current tech infrastructure they fostered to date is less than ideal for presenting simplicity to users. But instead of admitting it's their fault, they claim they'll fix a mess caused by someone else.

    HailStorm is an architecture for identification of users so they can be tracked like tagged animals released into the wild. Most of the rhetoric about user control intends to obfuscate the purpose of this identification.

  • Trojan Storm [Doc Searls]
    You always go wrong when you characterize competent human beings as weak and helpless -- and then tell them your stuff is their only hope. That's exactly what Microsoft does in the very first line.

    You can't privatize what only works because it's public. Microsoft hasn't learned that lesson yet. Let's help them.

By the way, Microsoft keeps changing the text of their Hailstorm page to remove some examples and rephrase things such as what Doc quoted in his article. Oh, that inspires trust... didn't anyone check their 'message' before it went out?

  • Two Dozen Journalists Killed Worldwide in 2000 [Washington Post]
    "Local journalists are very vulnerable," [Ann K.] Cooper said. "They're writing critically about a government or an armed faction or drug lords and they can't then get on a plane and go to another country and be safely away from someone who might want to punish them."

    The [Committee to Protect Journalists]'s report also documents a wide range of attacks on journalists, including hundreds who were censored or assaulted, and 81 imprisoned for their work by the close of 2000. China held the most journalists behind bars - 22, several of them for publishing on the Internet.
  • Right-Wingers Build a Legacy Of Inconsistency by Marc Fisher [Washington Post]
    Laughing in the face of laws that prohibit building memorials to people until they've been dead for 25 years (let alone those who are still alive), the [Reagan Legacy Project] has helped put Reagan's name on an aircraft carrier, the Florida Turnpike, a freeway and a federal courthouse in California, more than a dozen schools, [etc., etc.]

    Leaving aside Reagan's mediocrity, the fact that he is alive should be enough to shame any public body into waiting to name anything for him. But we have lost the ability to muster shame, and living people are now routinely embarrassed with their names plastered on federal courthouse doorways - Sandra Day O'Connor in Phoenix, Thomas Foley in Spokane...

    It wasn't until 50 years after Washington's death that his monument was launched. Same with Lincoln. FDR asked that no memorial be built for him; at least Congress waited 50 years before defying his wishes. Reagan deserves at least that long...

Genius: Census Details at a Glance, Doo-Dah, Doo-Dah... [Brunching Shuttlecocks]

"Everyone who voted for the [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] should be publicly flogged."
-- Dave Touretzky, CMU

Previous entry: 15 March 2001 Next entry: 28 March 2001

Last modified on 1/25/01; 10:44:43 AM Eastern 
Home - Log - Services - Writing - Media - Links - About
 © 1998-2001 Steve Bogart