Monday, February 28, 2011

Social Media and Civil Society

I don't know The Daily, but I do know (or rather, am familiar with the work of) Ann Marlowe.  I think she writes an important message here:  "Antisocial networking:  New media leave brutish, sexist values untouched in Mideast".
Democracy doesn’t develop just anywhere. It’s nourished by certain kinds of civil society. It’s hard to imagine a strong democracy in a country where, say, 50 percent of the citizens routinely abuse the others. And Egypt seems to be this sort of place. An oft-cited 2008 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights found not just that 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women in Cairo had been harassed, but that 62 percent of men admitted to perpetrating this abuse.
While democracy can grow in such an environment, it takes a very long time—decades.  Ponder that it took a century from the Emancipation Proclamation until we really started to break down racial barriers in this nation.  Worse, things got worse in the late 1800s before they started to get better in the 1940s.

Ms Marlowe makes a very important point when she says "technologies are fitted into existing social forms, benign or otherwise".  We should not forget the power that Leni Riefenstahl brought to the German Government in 1934 with Triumph of the Will.  It wasn't for good.

Regards  —  Cliff

Space is the Place

Jeff Frost of The Space Review notes "Suborbital back out of the shadows" and back in the news.

In these times of tight Federal budgets it is good to see private enterprise stepping up.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Future

Quote from a retired Navy SEAL:
Yeah, well...nobody's got enuf Windex to tell what next year will look like
Regards  —  Cliff

Looks and Politics

From a team of Swedish and Finnish economics comes the news that parties on the "right" tend to have physically better looking candidates.

I read the analysis in the news article and it tends to confirms that left wing analysts are both not better looking, but also more prone to rationalization.  Your mileage may differ.

Hat tip to Tom Smith of The Right Coast

Regards  —  Cliff

  Whatever that means.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The King's Speech

My wife and I just saw The King's Speech.


Regards  —  Cliff

Is Your Car Missing?

Is this your Corolla?
If it is, contact Michael Yon, who is the photographer in this case, and let him know.  If not, send Michael Yon some money at his tip jar, if nothing else, for a great chance to ask yourself how a Tennessee plated car got to Afghanistan.

You might also look around his site to see what Michael is seeing in Afghanistan.

Hat tip to Michael Yon himself.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Back to Madison

Blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse comments on the people "occupying" the Rotunda of the State Capital in Madison.  "Is it viewpoint discrimination under the First Amendment for Wisconsin to permit the protesters to use the Capitol building as it has over the past 10+ days?"

She starts off referencing Donald Downs, a UW political science professor, who asks at a "teach in":
... whether it should be considered viewpoint discrimination for the protesters at the state capitol to be permitted to post signs and sleep overnight when other groups are not going to be given the same treatment.
This leads us to a US Supreme Court case, Clark v. Community for Creative Nonviolence, which holds a neutral rule regarding protestors and public parks, etc.
Assuming that overnight sleeping in connection with the demonstration is expressive conduct protected to some extent by the First Amendment, the regulation forbidding sleeping meets the requirements for a reasonable time, place, or manner restriction of expression, whether oral, written, or symbolized by conduct.  The regulation is neutral with regard to the message presented, and leaves open ample alternative methods of communicating the intended message concerning the plight of the homeless.
Reasonable rules and restrictions are OK.

And then Professor Althouse give us an essay exam:
At Christmastime, there is a big tree in the rotunda. The Freedom from Religion Foundation doesn't like that.  This week's anti-Scott Walker people are banging on drywall buckets and chanting "This is what democracy looks like."  How about a hundred atheists in the rotunda for a week in December banging on buckets and chanting "This is what stupidity looks like"?  (Okay, there's a conlaw exam for you. Submit your answers and I'll grade.)
Anyone have any thoughts?

And, do we agree that the Republican Governor and legislators in power are acting wisely by letting this play out in a natural and unforced way?

Regards  —  Cliff

Contacting Senator Kerry

I sent a message to our Senior Senator, regarding the Internet.  I sent it about one o'clock today.

I received this response, with a DTG of February 26, 2011 1:01:57 PM EST:
Thank you for contacting my online office. I always appreciate hearing from you, whether you're getting in touch with us for help on a constituent matter or weighing in on the issues being debated right now in the United States Senate -- whatever the reason for your email, please know that we read these emails diligently and please be assured that our office will work in a timely manner to respond to your comments and concerns. If this matter is time sensitive, I'd encourage you to also call my offices in Massachusetts or Washington and speak with a member of my team so there's no waiting and we can begin to help you today. DC 202-224-2742. MA 617-565-8519.

Two quick notes:

First, this email account is not technologically able to receive a response to this email, it is only an outgoing account -- so please submit any additional comments through my website at -- I always want to hear from you, and I always want to make sure that your feedback and comments are properly received here.

Second, please sign up for my electronic newsletter by visiting -- it's free, it doesn't cost the taxpayers a dime, and it doesn't waste paper -- but it's another way for us to stay in touch and for me to update you on the work I'm doing and all the issues that affect Massachusetts which are being debated and voted on in the United States Senate.
The question is, when will I get an actual response?

My message was:
Dear Senator

I have been getting EMails saying that the FCC has taken actions to control the Internet through something called "Internet Neutrality" and that the Commerce Department is working on some sort of national Internet ID.

Is the Internet slipping out of the hands of our US Congress and into the hands of the bureaucrats in DC? That is to say, if the current freedom going away?


Regards -- Cliff Krieger
I tried to keep it fairly generic, so that the Senator and his staff could work with it and give me the larger picture as seen from his office.  Incidentally, his website page for sending questions and comments had this note:
Mail Delay
Although mail delivery to the United States Capitol offices has resumed, the delivery process is still very slow and not yet back to normal. Until the mail process is more timely, the best way to contact me or my Washington, DC staff remains either by phone at (202) 224-2742 or via the contact form on this page.
Time will tell.

Regards  —  Cliff

Slip in Higher Education?

Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education we have an interesting book review.  The book is Academically Adrift:  Limited Learning on College Campuses, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa.&; The review doesn't leave me in an optimistic mood.  There is also a hint for or own School Committee.
Lack of student preparation.  Increasingly, undergraduates are not prepared adequately in any academic area but often arrive with strong convictions about their abilities.  So college professors routinely encounter students who have never written anything more than short answers on exams, who do not read much at all, who lack foundational skills in math and science, yet are completely convinced of their abilities and resist any criticism of their work, to the point of tears and tantrums:  "But I earned nothing but A's in high school," and "Your demands are unreasonable."  Such a combination makes some students nearly unteachable.
Is this us here in Lowell?

On a personal note, I now have to wonder if my current fairly good grades are actually no better than my lousy grades in the early 1960s (2.76 or so, as I recall).  It is all just grade inflation.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff


My youngest sent this along.

The lettering on the side is "MOG". That makes sense in that drivers of Morgans are sometimes known as Moggies.

Yes, in the first photo that does looks like just outside the factory, in Malvern.

For a long time we has a Plus 4, until we moved to two station wagons when we lived in Naples.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 25, 2011

Not Just for Women

"Can nylon stockings prevent blisters on marches?"

The "Rumor Doctor", Jeff Shogol, of Stars and Stripes, gives us the answer.

Short answer is yes.  As for myself, I wear a very thin wicking sock under my regular sock, even with my street shoes.

On the other hand, there are those who say, "You use sox"?

Regards  —  Cliff

"Europe is Powerless"

Not my words.  From a web site that looks at issues in France. This is background to the imminent departure of the French Foreign Minister (by Monday, or so I have heard).  From a linked article in The International Herald Tribune we have this:
All this has come against a background of simmering discontent among France’s professional diplomats — traditionally known for discretion and aplomb. On Tuesday, an anonymous complaint signed by several diplomats appeared in Le Monde, criticizing Mr. Sarkozy’s foreign policy as more show than substance.
It looks like Michèle Alliot-Marie is on her way out.  To the right is a 2009 picture of the Foreign Minister (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic).  Will it mean anything different for the United States?  I doubt it.

But, it is true that Europe was slow off the mark on the current unrest.  To the article in the The International Herald Tribune, by Reporter Katrin Bennhold:
Only after Colonel Qaddafi gave a televised address, vowing to fight the rebellion until his “last drop of blood,” did Mr. Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany call for sanctions.
We were not alone in not anticipating the extend of unrest on the South shore of the Mediterranean.  I except certain academics, such as Professor Richard Bulliet, of Columbia.

Regards  —  Cliff

NEO in Libya

The following report has been has been added to the OSAC website.
A U.S. Government chartered aircraft will depart Tripoli to Istanbul, Turkey, from the Mitiga Air Field near downtown Tripoli, on Friday, February 25. Processing of passengers will begin promptly at 12:00 p.m. local time. U.S. citizen travelers wishing to depart should proceed directly to Mitiga Air Field as the U.S. Government is unable to provide ground transportation for U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to persons with medical emergencies or severe medical conditions. The aircraft will depart no later than 5:30 p.m. local time.
In popular culture NEO (Non-combatant Evacuation Operation) is thought of as the Marines landing and taking off the American citizens.  This is not normally the case.  The US Ambassador in the nation makes the call and it is usually commercial assets.

But, things are bad in Tripoli and it is time to get our citizens out of there.

I have been pulled out of Libya, but it was a long time ago and the half of the squadron at Wheelus Air Base just launched our F-4Ds and flew away.  As we banked left to join up with the lead aircraft and head out across the Mediterranean Sea I looked down and saw what I thought was a man pointing a broom handle at us.  Or, maybe, it wasn't a broom handle he had to his shoulder.  But, no lead.

Regards  —  Cliff

  About 1 September 1969.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Uncalled For in Indiana

Per MSNBC we have this item.

I think the Indiana AG was correct to remove this particular deputy AG.

Regards  —  Cliff

RIP Jean Lartéguy

It was strange to read that French author Jean Lartéguy, nom de plume of Jean Pierre Lucien Osty, had died.  Granted, he was an old man, but still, I knew that Jamie Hailer, who also died within the last day or so, had been trying to get permission to reprint his 1960s novel, The Centurions.

It turned out that Jamie lost the race to another publisher, as told here in Slate.

I had the book assigned as a text in one of my courses in college, a course on Counter-Insurgency.  Later the book became a movie, with Anthony Quinn, The Lost Command.  My professors in that course—team taught—were very prescient.

An insightful journalist and novelist has passed away.  Not everything out of France is bad.  Some is very good.

Regards  —  Cliff

He said What?

It has been suggested that US Rep Mike Capuano told a rally in Boston yesterday that a little blood in the streets is a good thing, sort of like Professor Francis Fox Piven did a little while back:
“I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an email to get you going. Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary,” Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Ma.) told a crowd in Boston on Tuesday rallying in solidarity for Wisconsin union members.
The source is the NH Journal.  Haven't the Republicans gotten the Memo from the President about the "new civility"?  Uh, ah, I mean Democrats.  The good news is that he doesn't represent the Fifth District.  Representative Tsongas has a little more class.

On the other hand, in today's on-line edition of The Boston Globe the Representative does regret his remarks, which are not in keeping with his comments after the shooting of the Federal Judge and his colleague Rep Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson, last month.  To quote or not to quote, that is the question.  Move on or drag it out while giving due respect to the Congressman's later comments.
“I strongly believe in standing up for worker rights and my passion for preserving those rights may have gotten the best of me yesterday in an unscripted speech,” the Somerville Democrat said in a statement released this afternoon. “I wish I had used different language to express my passion and I regret my choice of words."
In today's Sun the article by Correspondent Johanna Kaiser made no mention of this little faux pas.  It did quote United Teachers of Lowell President Paul Georges
What's happening in Wisconsin is a blatant attempt to eliminate collective bargaining, and certainly concerns all people concerned with fairness.
For a few weeks the whole Sun article can be found here.

I was pleased to see that Ms Barbara Klain, the current head of the Greater Lowell Tea Party was quoted.  She represented the counterpoint at the rally down in Boston.
We support the governor in his budget. Everybody's got to do what they can to bring sanity back.
It is the opinion of this humble blogger that at the core of this fight is the question of if Civil Servants should be allowed to form unions with collective bargaining rights, as opposed to having their wages, benefits and working conditions set by their respective legislatures.

While not at the Federal level, but some have suggested that at the local level, where union members are often among the most active voters, those unions are electing to city councils and school committees the people who will then turn around and negotiate with them, thus setting up something less than the normal give and take of bargaining.

On the other hand, if others don't turn out to vote they should not be whingeing about the outcomes.  Democracy is a participatory activity.  If you don't vote, if you don't support candidates, if you don't check out the candidate websites and literature, you are definitely part of the problem.  A single vote can make a difference, as the current imbroglio in Worcester shows us.  But, it is not a single vote.  If you don't vote what are the odds you know someone, perhaps even a relative, who also doesn't vote?  Now it is two votes, and with a little talking up of the subject it could be three or four votes.  Go vote and then go to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee together before you go to work, or before you go home after work.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Confirmation from The Boston Herald, for what it is worth.
  I think this may be over the top rhetoric.  While the Wisconsin Governor may be trying to kill collective bargaining on the part of public sector employees, he doesn't seem to be trying to do so for private employees.  Such would be a very bad thing in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rumor Control

The Lowell Sun reports that Saints Memorial Hospital has resolved its problems with the Feds.  This suggests that mergers and the like are now in play.

I am thinking that Saints Memorial is ripe for a takeover by UMass Lowell.  It is the Meehan way, is it not?

More dorm rooms and also an addition to the nursing program and maybe a shot at displacing UMass Medical out in Worcester.  Tomorrow Saints Memorial and next year the second oldest college in North America, down there in Cambridge.  After that, the White House.

Regards  —  Cliff

Date and Place to Think About Making Things Better

The City Council Rules Sub-committee has set a date for their next meeting—Tuesday 8 March.

That has triggered a small group of citizens to gather on this Wednesday evening, 23 February, at 7:00 PM (1900), at the Dunkin Donuts on Fletcher Street to talk about improving voting and access to voting in our Fair City.

Who might go to such a meeting, besides YOU?

How about John McDonough or Victoria Fahlberg or Jack Mitchell or Tom Wirtanen or John Nappi or Ryan Berard or Cliff Krieger?  And, since John McDonough can't make tomorrow night there is a place for YOU.
Please come and join us and talk about how to get more folks involved in our City Government and in voting.


Regards  —  Cliff

  What can I say.  Lord Kitchener it isn't, but it is clean copyright wise.

RIP Jamie Hailer

This afternoon I received an EMail telling me that Jamie Hailer had passed away after a brief illness.

You probably don't know of Mr Hailer, but if you were looking for a new copy of a formerly out-of-print book on a military topic, especially one dealing with COIN, you could do a lot worse than to check out his store on line.

Book publishing was a sideline for Jamie, but it was part of his broad and yet deep interest in national security affairs.

He and I were members of an on-line discussion group of four hundred some people interested in national security issues.  Some were lurkers and some were activists.  Jamie was an activist.  And, he was always there with a private comment of support or a suggestion.

I will miss him and from EMails I have seen so will many others.

It is very sad for his family since Jamie was still a relatively young man.

May you Rest in Peace Jamie Hailer.

Regards  —  Cliff

White Rose

I missed this:
Today marks an anniversary of true bravery for the cause of liberty. On February 22, 1943, Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and Christoph Probst were executed by guillotine in Munich, Germany. Their crimes? Anonymously distributing leaflets criticizing the German government at the University of Munich. They were members of the White Rose, an underground student group that should inspire every American who loves the cause of liberty.
To those who think the Wisconsin Governor is like Hitler, this anniversary suggests that it isn't even close.

But, yet, it does suggest that we need to be ever vigilant.
Everywhere and at all times, the demons have waited in darkness for the hour in which mankind is weak; in which he voluntarily abandons the position in the world order that is based on freedom and comes from God; in which he yields to the force of the Evil One, disengaging himself from the powers of a higher order.
What can I say, the White Rose protestors came from a religious background.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sounds of New Jersey

My Middle Brother, Lance, who was born in Woodbury, NJ, sent along this video:

Regards  —  Cliff

  We lived, at the time, in Wenonah, NJ, a "planned community" of about 2200 residents.  When our family lived there we were, best I could tell, one of two families that rented, one of six Catholic families.  A "Sun Down" town in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  In 2000 there were 25 African Americans living in Wenonah.  The world is not perfect, but in these United States there is progress over time.  And, there is always Francis Albert Sinatra.

Althouse Raises Questions re Madison Protest Reporting

The Althouse blog is a little testy about The New York Times this AM.  About the NYT and its coverage of the protests in Madison, Wisconsin.

And, a little testy about the White House and its in again, out again approach to the protests and the NYT coverage of the White House actions.  Let it be noted that Professor Ann Althouse voted for President Barack Obama back in 2008.

The blog posting is asking all the right questions.  For example, about what news reporting the NYT is really doing re the teachers and when they will and won't be back in the classrooms.  (Right now it is Tuesday vice Monday.)  A real fisking.

But, while Professor Althouse does point out that the NYT doesn't tell us about the TAA
Does the NYT know or care what the TAA even is let alone its role in organizing the protest?
she doesn't tell the rest of us outside of Madison who or what is the TAA.  Think of Teaching Assistants.

To cue off of a post at the Dick Howe blog, "Egypt?  No.  Lawrence in 1912?  No.  Madison, Wis., Now" (Paul Marion), let us go from Cairo to Madison to Lowell.  Let us, for a moment, project this back here to Massachusetts.  Where do we think our Teaching Assistants and UAW Adjunct Professors would stand if it was Governor Patrick and the General Court looking at cutting benefits and curtailing organizing rights for government employees?  Not to make it personal, but it is too bad City Life is not live this week, so we could all call in and ask the host where he and his fellow Adjunct Professors stand on this issue.

But, back to Madison.  Reading the Althouse blog gives one a quite different view of what is happening in her home town from the view one gets from reading newspapers home-based several states away.  And, keep in mind, she voted for Barack Obama and is a government employee in the system and facing about a $10,000 pa pay cut under the proposals from Governor Scott Walker.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Is this UAW Local 1596?  I think so.  I remember them going around last year and doing their organizing.  I passed some material to one adjunct professor for them.

Tweeting the Revolution

Here is an article on Governments vs Social Media, by Mr Evgeny Morozov, in The Wall Street Journal of 19 February 2011.

The article tells us that governments around the world are adapting to the new social media, often creating their own, to maintain control, as in China and Russia.  His "bottom line"
Triumphalism about recent events in the Middle East is premature.  The contest is still in its early stages, and the new age of Internet-driven democratization will endure only if we learn to counter the sophisticated measures now being developed to quash it.
Then we get this input from Abu Muqawama, which points out that when a government shuts down the social media (and cell phones) may matter as much as the act of doing it.  As they say, "timing is everything".
One interesting piece of analysis I have now heard from several smart observers is that by shutting down the Internet and the cellular phone networks, the Egyptian regime actually *increased* the number of Egyptians on the streets protesting.  Not only did shutting down the Internet force people to leave the house and physically connect with their fellow protesters, but one friend noted that if you really want to piss off all of Egypt, a good way to do so is by shutting off cell phone service.  More than Facebook or Twitter, cellular phone service unites Egyptians in a virtual community.  And by shutting down cellular phone service, you're sure to anger Egyptians of all generations and classes -- and not just the college kids with Facebook accounts.  So score one for the enduring power of 20th Century technology, perhaps.
Someone noted, and I have misplaced it, that the Chinese Government recently had a situation where two police beat to death someone and it went viral on social media and the Chinese Government went out and asked people on the social media to join a panel investigating the case.  A very smart move on the part of the Chinese Government.

None of which should take away from Dick Howe's excellent post on Twitter, here.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Mr. Morozov, is noted in the article as a Stanford University visiting scholar, and as the author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, which was reviewed by Lee Siegel in the New York Times Book Review, under the title "Twitter Can't Save You", from 4 February 2011.
  Yes, Abu Muqawama is a real person, and informed.  I wish I had a neat nom de plume.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NYT and the Defense Budget

The Editors at The New York Times today gave us their views on the Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 2012.  They make some very good points, but some other points leave me wondering if they understand defense planning and budgeting.  For example,
The $300 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has already seen costs per plane nearly double from the amount originally budgeted. It should be cut back.
Cutting back a program like the F-35 only runs up the cost per aircraft produced.  If you think we don't need this aircraft, recommend it be killed, now.

Then there is the whinging over the US Marine Corps EVF
Mr. Gates’s proposal to cancel the Marine Corps’s costly and unworkable Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle will save $11 billion in future costs. But $3 billion has already been needlessly spent.
Sunk costs don't count.  They are already spent and gone.  The $3 billion are not part of the equation and should not be thrown up to obfuscate the problem.

Later on, after saying
Air and sea power that can be readily mobilized are vital to American security.
The editors call for this:
Updating the formula to reflect a more realistic division of labor would wring significant savings from the Air Force and the Navy while protecting the Army and the Marines from the multiple combat tours that have strained service members and their families over the last decade.
The problem is that the editors fail to appreciate that it takes a lot longer to crank out a Navy Battle Group or a couple of Air Force Wings than it does to create a new Army Division or Marine Regiment.  We should not mortgage our future by foreclosing future options by scrimping today.

But, most important, the comments and cuts are presented without ANY suggestion of what the forces are for.  Strategy is about
matching objectives, threats and opportunities in a resource constrained environment
What are the objectives and threats that the New York Times envisions?

Regards  —  Cliff

  On the other hand, we have made commitments to other nations regarding this aircraft, and some have provided money for the production, which suggests this is not just something for us alone.

The New Civility in Action

Today New York Times Columnist Frank Rich said: "...civility has had a mini-restoration in Washington."  But, apparently not in the hinterland.

Here is a blog post from Blogger Ann Althouse:  "Smile when you wield that swastika."

The sign holder says that she does equate the Wisconsin Governor with the Nazi regime in Germany.  Do we really see the Brown Shirts out marching?  Do we believe that soon Government "Death Panels" will be clearing out the institutions were the crippled and mentally insane live?  Will Jews be driven from college faculties?

To focus on today, frankly, I am all for unions occupying the State Capitol for ever, if they want to.  What I wonder about is stripping them of Civil Service protection if they are Government employees.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Early Bird Notice

In my mind the "Early Bird" will always be the "Yellow Bird", which was the color of the top sheet of the Pentagon Clipping Service, when it was run by the Air Force.  But, this is a different "Early Bird"
Early Bird Notice - Save the Date for The 4th Annual Lowell Film Festival

"Lowell on the Churn:  The American Civil War, 1861—the Present"

Thursday, April 28 - Saturday, April 30, 2011
Prof. Robert Forrant, of the UMass Lowell Dept. of History, is promising us a great look at the US Civil War, via film.

Since my wife and I are currently taking a UMass Lowell Continuing Education course titled French Cinema and Culture, this might be even more interesting for us than just the 150th Anniversary of the US Civil War.

Make a note of the dates and look for further announcements.

Regards  —  Cliff

  For those who are Vets or 60 years old or older, a course is $30 plus the books, vice the near G Note for other students.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Presidential Primary?

This news should make Kad Barma happy, or at least a little happy.  Our Secretary of State says he lacks the money for a Presidential Primary next year (2012).

I would think the political parties can attend to this business without needing support from state government, and it furthers my view that non-party members should not have a say in the party's nomination process.  Like with most things in life, if you want a say, commit.  Bystanders should hold their peace.

Regards  —  Cliff

How to Disagree, Politely

Here is a Blogger (and lawyer), Randy Barnett, disagreeing with the New York Times and getting his letter published.  In reading this blog post I admire the smooth way he says the NYT is wrong, while treating them with professional courtesy and also educating The rest of us about how to Fisk the paper.

This approach does not always work.  When it doesn't, one has the option to walk away and one has the option to melt down, like TMI.  Of course there are many options in between.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 17, 2011

To Twitter?

Dick Howe Twitters.  So does Nir Rosen.

I state up front that I know Dick Howe well enough to recognize him on the street or in John McDonough's City Life studio and that I have exchanged a number of EMails with Nir Rosen, whose book I am presently reading, when I am not studying for my French Cinema and Culture class at UMass Lowell Continuing Education.

Mr Rosen, earlier this week, Tweeted in response to what has apparently turned out to be the gang rape of CBS News reporter Lara Logan in Cairo, Egypt, last Friday.  Ms Logan was rescued by some Egyptian Women and about 20 Egyptian Soldiers, who reunited her with her CBS News crew.

Let's be frank.  This was a terrible thing to happen to Ms Logan.

Journalist Nir Rosen, early on, sent out some Tweets that made light of the situation.  He has since been allowed to resign from his position at NYU and has been dropped from membership in at least one discussion reflector.  And, he went on Anderson Cooper's News Show to talk about what a "Jerk" he was.

The defense from Mr Rosen is that he fired off half cocked and that raises a question.  Is Twitter just too much of a hair trigger operation for serious people to use?  What do we owe those we talk to over the internet?

A reporter commented in another venue that he had been sent to cover the Article 32 Hearing against Major Nidal Hansan and was told to Tweet what was going on.  The problem was, one could not use the Internet while inside, listening, so there was an inherent conflict between collecting the news and Tweeting it.  This article from The Army Times talks to the Internet restriction at the Hearing.  Tweeting seems an inherently un-reporter like activity.

Then there is the question of the time sink that the Internet represents.  My wife from time to time comments to me about my being addicted to the Internet.  A friend of mine noted:
comments only reinforce the idea that the most precious resource, time, is being diverted by the new technology.
Curse you, Al Gore.

Regards  —  Cliff

Power Point

I have put hours into a Power Point Presentation for Class this evening.  The subject is the Elderly in France.  A lot of research and a lot of work.  But, informative.

And, I found this quote:
Power corrupts and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.
Vint Cerf
Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Coming Education Bubble Collapse?

The TaxProf Blog (Paul L Caron) talks about what is happening at UNLV—the possible discharge of TENURED faculty.

At the same time, Texas Governor Rick Perry is calling for a $10,000 college degree, including books.  The book thing is the real challenge.  I heard recently that European nations are considering a three year bachelors degree.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Happy Birthday

Today is Dear Leader Kim Jong-il's 70th Birthday.

The Dear Leader has been the ruler of North Korea for 16 1/2 years now, through most of the Clinton Administration, all of the Bush Administration and now the first two years of the Obama Administration.  The Dear Leader stands as a major example of why there should be, if not term limits, at least a chance to vote people out of office.

Regards  —  Cliff

  aka Kim Chong-il

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Globe Says

The Globe says that Move Lowell Forward is having an open forum, with Assistant City Manager Adam Baacke talking
about on-going projects in Lowell, including the Hamilton Canal District, Tanner Street, and downtown plans.  Other topics will include the city’s master plan, sustainability initiatives, and development services.  Baacke will be available to answer audience questions at the forum
The venue is Market Mills, 256 Market St, at 7:00 PM.

And, of course, the MLF Web Site.  Free snacks.  I have been seeing the EMails fly back and forth on that issue.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bush and Egypt

I ended up tracking down the below linked Boston Globe article for an EMail discussion with one of my Daughters-in-Law.  It is nice to be able to talk politics with the Daughters-in-Law.

The gist is that the Bush Administration (George W Bush, that is) initiated efforts that helped create democracy in Egypt.

"Bush program helped lay the groundwork in Egypt:  Vote monitors trained with funds from US"

I wonder what Pacifica thought about that?  Does everyone switch off Local Access after City Life?

Hat tip to the Instapundit for the original news article.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Economic Future

Blogger and Futurist Virginial Postrel has an article in The Wall Street Journal titled "Would Bogie Wear Gore-Tex?"
The hardest economic question is, What comes next?  What, in other words, are the new sources of economic value? How can businesses grow and our standard of living rise?

Sometimes the answer is simply more of the same.  Growth comes from rolling out existing goods and services to new markets, until there's a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.  This kind of progress may be hard to achieve, but you at least start with a clear notion of what it would look like.

That's why catch-up economies like China today or South Korea in the past can grow so fast.  Their businesses don't have to figure out what to make or sell.
For us, it is figuring out what is next, not what we have to do to catch up with the Joneses.  That is why innovation is so important to a City like Lowell.  Our economic future is not just about producing more of the same—that work has moved to other markets.  It is about creativity.  For that creativity to flourish we need to welcome immigrants to Lowell, be they from Calcutta or Chelmsford.  But we also need to awaken the juices of creativity in our own young people.

Ms Postrel talks about the "Economic Frontier"
There are occasional headline grabbers, of course, like the Web browser and all the disruptive enterprises that followed from it.  Even these are surprises. The president [at his State of the Union speech] could extol Google and Facebook as examples of American innovation only because they're already everyday experiences. Nobody saw them coming.  The same is true of Starbucks and FedEx, hip-hop and Nike, Wal-Mart and Pixar.  They aren't the future we imagined.
Not what "we" imagined, but what someone imagined and that someone could just as well be in Lowell, a graduate of a local Lowell school.

So who is YOUR next School Superintendent?

Regards  —  Cliff

Drug Killings in Mexico

When I was a kid there was a line that went
If you can remain calm while those about you run around in panic, you just don't know how serious the situation is.
And so it is with Mexico.

Here is a recent report on the situation, "Drug Violence in Mexico:  Data and Analysis Through 2010".  Twenty-eight pages in PDF format.

The authors are Viridian Rios, of Harvard (she drew the short straw) and Dr David A. Shirk, of the University of San Diego de Acalá.  In his cover letter to colleagues Dr Shirk notes:
According to Mexican government data, more than 34,550 killings were officially linked to organized crime during the administration of President Felipe Calderon (2006-12).  Based on several years of monitoring drug violence in Mexico, the 15,000 organized crime killings that occurred in 2010 set a new record as well as an increase of nearly 60% from the previous year.

Our report underscores the dramatic increase and geographic concentration of violence, with 84% of all homicides from organized crime in 2010 occurring in just four of Mexico’s 32 states (Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Guerrero and Baja California), but also the spreading and intensification of this violence due to the emergence of three splinter organizations—the Beltran Leyva, La Familia Michoacana, and Zeta drug trafficking organizations—that have broken with the major cartels over the last two years.
I find the number 15,000 to be impressive.

In the opening pages of one of his books on Viet-nam, author and reporter Bernard Fall talks about starting to write the book by sitting in a sidewalk cafe in Saigon for several weeks, reading the newspapers, to include the obituaries.  Finally he goes to meet a high ranking member of the Viet-namese Government security services, where he suggests that South Viet-nam has an ongoing insurgency, which the Government official denies.  Mr Fall produces a map he has created based upon the deaths of mayors, doctors, nurses and teachers, out in the villages and small towns.  At this point the Government official reaches back and pulls out a very similar map and says, yes, in fact we do have an insurgency ongoing.

While the Mexican Government took exception to a US Department of Defense official recently referring to what is happening in Mexico as an "insurgency" there is a certain problem in Mexico and as a minimum it reminds one of Prohibition in the US.

This is not a problem that can be solved in Washington or by the US Department of State, Department of Homeland Security or Department of Defense, alone or in combination.  It is a problem for Mexico to solve and one wherein we should be supporting that Government.  The Mythical Marginal Dollar should be going not to Afghanistan, but to Mexico.

There are no quick fixes.  Several people have recently noted that legalization of drugs is not going to make this problem go away.  Others have noted that this problem is spilling across the border into the United States.  Then it becomes a problem for State Governments, assisted by Big Sis, if she can figure out how to do that.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Secretary of Homeland Security, the Honorable Janet Napolitano.

Predator Drone Kills

Here is a Newsweek article on the CIA's Predator Drone killing operation.  It is really an article about Mr John A. Rizzo, esq, recently retired from the CIA.

In the article it is noted that:
From 2004 to 2008, Bush authorized 42 drone strikes, according to the New America Foundation. The number has more than quadrupled under President Obama—to 180 at last count.
One thing about targeting killings is that there is usually a lot less "collateral damage" than when one bombs some suspected enemy training camp, or conducts an attack on it with troops charging down some hillside.

As an aside, the second photograph in the article was well designed to get attention, but seems not to have anything to do with the article.  It is a photo of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, who was caught in a South Vietnamese Air Force napalm attack.  That would be the "local host nation" and not the United States.  I just found it ticky-tacky.

The first "on-line comment" posted on the article is about that second photo.  Besides the points made in the comment by "unclesmrgol", I would note that napalm is actually very scary, but not very good at killing people, which is why the US Air Force eliminated it as a weapon decades ago.  (Full Disclosure, I was the contracting officer on a napalm R&D effort back in about 1972, which failed to produce a more effective product).

And a hat tip to a Professor at the National War College.

Regards  —  Cliff

Snow Stuff

On Saturday the City Manager talked about the logistics of dealing with snow.

Nothing happens by magic and understanding the complications helps to understand the problem.

Thus, Mr Bernie Lynch gives us some facts.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I will grant you prayer, but not magic.

Lowell School Committee Meeting, 7 Feb 2011

Lowell School Committee Meeting of 7 Feb 2011

I went to the School Committee Meeting on Tuesday evening.  Frankly, I had put forward a suggestion, via EMail, to all the members of the School Committee via EMail.  Thus, I felt invested.  On the other hand, this blog post, which has been blocking all other blog posts, has been a little difficult as I have sorted through this stuff.  Now back to the meeting of the School Committee.

After the preliminaries there was a long, drawn out process, approving the minutes.  A number of errors were pointed out.  I believe this was noted in The Sun’s “The Column” this week.  Sorry, folks, no link.

Then a discussion of money for special education and some memorials.

Then we had comments from the public, starting with Ms Judy Flood, a Guidance Counselor, who talked about her experience at the Molloy Alternative [High] School.  The gist of her presentation to the School Committee was that some students are seriously challenged by life circumstances, and recently some of those slipped through the cracks.  At the end of June 2010 some 40 students were assigned from the Molloy to Lowell High.  21 returned and 11 have dropped out.  Today there are no grade 12 students and only 4 grade 11.  It was a fairly grim picture Ms Flood painted and one wondered about how this would reflect back on her at work.

Mr Edward Rozmiarek—Headmaster—spoke.  He stated that the school system used in-place procedures and worked with the house masters.  They treated each case separately.  He did note that they are discussing new procedures and trying to expand out programs.

Ms Catherine Keane (Principle of the Molloy) spoke and said that all of the procedures were followed.  “Students are our priority.”

Then we move on and Ms Alison Laraba makes a point that text books are falling apart, per a parent.  Mr Lehey asks about a book’s lifespan and notes that his observation is the same?  He asks if we could re-bind the books?  Mr Conway asks about using Kindles, noting that this had showed up in an article in The Sun several months ago.  (Here is an article about such a step down in Clearwater, Florida.  Spoiler alert—I used to live in Clearwater, for a year.) What I wonder about is how Clearwater got around the ADA objections as outlined by DOJ a year ago, as shown here?  The problem is that while the Kindle will read the book to you, the controls to get there are not friendly to the blind or visually impaired.  On the other hand, your average textbook won’t even do that, so what is the issue here?  Mr Jay Lang, Assistant Superintendent, noted that the Kindle is a good idea, but the obstacle is that text book companies not catering to electronic versions.  As market grows, it will be re-examined.  (Which is to say that we will let others break trail for us on this.)

Ms Jackie Doherty, who is also a Lowell Immigration Commission member, asked for help with the adult education issue.

It was suggested, in the form of a motion that Lowell goes with an interim Superintendent.  The rational is that it seems like a tight timeline.  Mr Martin admits the timeline is daunting.  He prefers to move forward, but acknowledges it might not yield us a superintendent at the end of April.  Ms Laraba notes it will buy us time, especially given the budget cycle.  Ms Doherty notes that down the road we always have the option of going to an interim.  Mr Leary wants to see what the market yields.  The motion fails six to one.

Then a motion, a combination of motions, to set a timeline, agree to advertise the position in The Sun, The Boston Globe and Education Weekly.  Also, a Blue Ribbon Commission will be established to assist in the search. The motion passes with six votes.

The next subcommittee is Monday, 14 February.

There was an issue regarding loaning sick days and it was agreed to continue the current procedure but to look into the process.

End of the School Committee notes and the beginning of the analysis, such as it is.

The issue of the Molloy School was taken up by Reporter Jenn Myers in Sunday’s Lowell Sun, found here, for a while.

While Ms Myers presents a balanced view, she leaves us hanging as to a conclusion.  It seems to me that the Molloy School is a serious issue between the School Committee and the School Superintendent.  What we have here is, at best, a failure to communicate.

The Molloy School is the place that those who are having trouble at Lowell High School are assigned in a effort to salvage their high school career and equip them to reenter high school on a path toward graduation.  Apparently, back in August a member of the School Committee moved to shut down the Molloy School as a way of freeing up money for other needs in this tight budget period.  On the advice of the School Administration this motion was voted down, based upon not having a plan in place for such a transition.  But, shortly thereafter (School Committee member Jackie Doherty cites a 24 August EMail) the School Administration starts to shut down the upper grades at the Molloy.

Per the Myers’ article:
Committee member Connie Martin said the transfer rate from five to seven students per year to 44 students per year is a "dramatic change."
Dr Scott says:
No child will be turned away.  We do sincerely believe the work that has been done over the last 12 months was the work the committee expected us to do to provide each student the best education possible.
In moving to reduce the side of the Molloy school Dr Scott got out in front of the School Committee.  That is not necessarily a bad thing—I have always agreed with the management approach that “It is easier to get forgiveness than permission”—but she seems, in the minds of the majority of the members of the School Committee, to have been somewhat parsimonious with the truth regarding this matter.  This, in turn, seems to have led to the School Committee loosing faith in Dr Scott.

How else do we explain six meetings of the School Committee in executive session where it could not bring itself to make a counter-offer to Dr Scott?
  1. 1 Nov 2010—Acknowledgement of Superintendent’s request to negotiate a new contract and agreement on revision of evaluation form.
  2. 10 Nov 2010—Review of the proposed evaluation form and agreement for City Solicitor Christine O’Connor to draw up a draft proposal of an offer for review before she and Mayor Milinazzo present it to Dr Scott.
  3. 12 Dec 2010—Discussion that Mr Galllagher, Dr Scott’s Attorney, wanted a written offer rather than a face to face negotiation.  This was not accepted by the School Committee.  Then there was a proposal to withdrawn the offer of a three year contract, that died three to three with one vote of “present”.
  4. 29 Dec 2010—Here the record is a little confusing, but basically the School Committee voted to rescind a three year offer and discussed a one year offer, but did not agree to it.  The approved motion was “[t]o authorize Mayor James L. Milinazzo and City Solicitor, Christine O’Conner to report to the Superintendent and her attorney that as of yet, there has not been a counter proposal that has gained the support of a majority of its members.”  It was approved.
  5. 6 Jan 2011—There was a discussion of a two year and a one year contract, but no agreement.  It was agreed that the Mayor and Solicitor would be authorized to meet with the Superintendent and her attorney on the 10th of January “to continue negotiations” but it is unclear from the minutes what that means.
  6. 29 Jan 2011—There was a motion “To return to Executive Session, concluding its recess, for the purpose of discussing and deliberating a Successor Control with the Superintendent of Schools, public discussion of which would be detrimental to the Committee’s position”.  But, the minutes suggest that once in Executive Session it was about the School Committee meeting “for the purpose of developing a strategy for taking the next step in the protection of the district as it relates to a search for a new Superintendent of Schools.”  Approved seven to zip.
Regardless of what one thinks of the current School Superintendent, the School Committee was not prepared to offer her a three, two or even one year contract.  This suggests a breakdown in communication between the School Superintendent and the School Committee and, in effect, a vote of no confidence on the part of the School Committee.  It appears that the School Superintendent picked up on that and elected to terminate her pursuit of a new contract. 

One of the things that surprises me is that we have no process in place to deal with this awkwardness.  The Superintendent will remain for half a year, even though she knows the School Committee has, in essence, fired her.  The School Committee will retain as School Superintendent someone in whom they have lost confidence.  Should there not be a process in which the School Committee buys up Dr Scott’s contract and fleets up, for a time, one of the Assistant Superintendents, perhaps with a small pay kicker?

This is not a happy time.

As an aside, one wonders to what degree the "Open Meeting" law has made this more awkward than it needed to be.  Which makes me think of Saturday evening's homily.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Left in Lowell has put up the minutes here.  Thanks, Mimi.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was my Middle Brother's birthday.  Apparently, today is Sarah Palin's Birthday.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Working the Problem vs Taking Credit

In the military there is this list, known as the six phases of planning:
  1. Enthusiasm.
  2. Disillusionment.
  3. Panic.
  4. Search for the guilty.
  5. Punishment of the innocent.
  6. Praise and honor for the non participant.
When I saw this quote from Indira Ganhdi, it reminded me of them.  I am not sure why.
My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there.
UPDATE:  I meant this for tomorrow and was going to save it, but apparently "published" it instead.  Thus two quotes in one day.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sources for News

This, from Ann ALthouse pretty well sums it up.Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

LBJ and Harvard

In another venue we were having a discussion of President Eisenhower's Farewell Address and his mention of the MIC, the Military Industrial Complex.  One person suggested that Academia should be in that term, which resulted in a short discussion of what constitutes acceptable academic credentials.  Thus, when I stumbled across this quote it resonated with me.
I don't believe I'll ever get credit for anything I do in foreign affairs, no matter how successful it is, because I didn't go to Harvard.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Regards  —  Cliff

"Keep Your Hands Off Our Bodies"

Law Professor Ann Althouse is on a roll today.  This is her THIRD post on Constitutional Law Professor Lawerence Tribe's OpEd in today's New York Times.

In the OpEd Professor Tribe is talking about what will happen when the Health Insurance Reform Law (often mistakenly called Obama Care) gets to the US Supreme Court.

In this Post Professor Althouse talks to Professor Tribe's careless use of the word "choice".  She does link to her earlier posts on the OpEd.

The question Professor Tribe is trying to address is the "Commerce Clause".  Is the any limit to what the US Congress can regulate under it?  Can they eventually regulate nail clippers, and from there, how I clip my finger nails?

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, February 7, 2011

White Papers and Newspapers and Lowell City Council

Blogging has been a little slow today, because Martha and I have papers due for the Course we are taking at UMass Lowell.  They are to be submitted to "", which is a new experience for us.  But, it is done and now we are out from under that burden.

Over at The Sun today was an article by Reporter Lyle Moran (who was on City Life today, along with the Managing Editor of The Sun, Kathleen (or MK) Guzda) on the City Political Action Committee "Move Lowell Forward" (MLF), on a "white paper" submitted to the City Council through the Vice Mayor, Mr Kevin Broderick.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am the Chairman of Move Lowell Forward, and have been since it was formed, just under two years ago.  For those who think that only left wing radicals are in MLF, I am the Republican Ward 1 Chairman here in Lowell, and ran against Democratic State Rep David Nangle, twice.  (As an aside, anyone want to tackle that task in 2012?  Please let me know.)

But, to the article.  I think the Reporter, Mr Moran, did a good job of covering our submission.  You will note, if you read the article, a quote from Mr Joe Smith.  Credit for the paper should go to Mr Smith.  He developed the concept and fleshed it out.  And, he did a great job.  Joe is a local kid, born here in Lowell, and now retired, here in Lowell.  He is a font of knowledge about economic development in this City.

Reporter Moran also reached out to a number of City Councilors, and of those most seemed to appreciate this or that aspect of the paper.

From the perspective of Move Lowell Forward, it is unfortunate that our submission of the paper got caught up in the brouhaha surrounding the City Council's decision not to allow Andover resident Sean Burke to speak before the full City Council after his presentation to the City Council Sub-Committee appropriate for his issue.

City Councilor Rita Mercier made this point to Reporter Moran.  Unfortunately, I have not been following the Sean Burke case, but it is obvious Ms Mercier feels strongly that he has been denied his right to properly petition the City Council.  She notes"  "That is setting back the city 30 years." I, for one, appreciate it whenever someone speaks up for free speech.

In the article it is noted that Ms Mercier did not receive an endorsement from Move Lowell Forward last election.  My recollection is that she, and several others, did not return our questionnaire.  Our recommendation was based on answers to the questionnaire.  Without that questionnaire, one could not get the points needed to score high enough for an endorsement.  One of the things we of Move Lowell Forward agreed to before we started scoring was that it didn't matter who had the highest scores, THOSE were the people we would endorse.  I encourage Ms Mercier to return our questionnaire this summer, as we run up to the next City Council elections.  That said, she is a great and tireless campaigner and attentive to the needs of the voters, so she will almost certainly have a high vote count with or without our endorsement.  Put another way, we recognize that we are but one voice among many.

About the "white paper", the thought piece we submitted to the City Council, I would like to be clear.  It is not the be all and end all of approaches to bringing increased economic growth to our City.  We are not the only people with ideas.  We hope that our submission will encourage others to think about, talk about and propose ideas for moving Lowell forward.

The Lowell of 2021 will not be the same as the Lowell of 2011.  I hope it is a better place, with more jobs and lower unemployment.  I hope it is a place where those born here join with those who want to move here to bring prosperity to all.  That means we all have to work together to move things forward.

And, here is a shameless plug for Move Lowell Forward's Open House on Thursday, 17 February, where Assistant City Manager, Planning & Development, Adam Baacke, will talk about economic development in Lowell.  Time is 7:00 PM and location is Market Mill/Lowell Art and Design Center.  Free.

In conclusion, we are all in this together.  Let's find what we have in common and make it work.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Vets and those over 60 can take class in the classroom (not on-line) for $30 plus books.
  Or, as Mr Gerry Nutter, over at Gerry Nutter's Lowell, has it, LMF.
  The Vice Chairman is Ms Lynne Lupien, a local business woman and one of the two bloggers at Left in Lowell.  Do we agree on much?  Not above the local level.  On the other hand, we are united on doing our very best for the city we chose to call home.  Incidentally, Lynne blogged on this newspaper article here.
  Remember, articles in The Sun go away after a while, to a different place.  I will not be updating their links unless I am bedridden and have read every book in the house.
  In the article he is listed as a Lowell resident.  I am not sure about the rules for folks from out of town speaking to the City Council, but I would hope that our City Council would be as liberal as possible in allowing people to address them, in keeping with proper decorum.

City Life on Monday

Did you know you can watch LTC on your computer.

This AM 41 folks were watching on the Internet.

And, yes Sarah was there, but no air time.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Picking a Retirement Date

"When are you going to retire, Justice Ginsburg?"  That is what Nina Totenberg asked.

Seems like a great answer to me.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  Part of this Blog Post is a test to see if I can embed a video.

Wing and a Prayer

This training film demonstrates specific techniques for landing B-24 Liberators that have sustained a wide variety of damage in differing conditions, including water landings.

Regards  —  Cliff

State Holiday in California

I missed it, but LAST Sunday was Fred Korematsu Day in California.

Here is a link to why it was Fred Korematsu Day and why we should all pay attention to him, and to Justice Robert Jackson's dissent when Mr Korematsu's case made it to the Supreme Court of the United States.

For those wondering, I find the suppression of evidence by the prosecution to be inexcusable.  The US Solicitor General at the time, Mr Charles H Fahy should have been prosecuted for this, although God's statute of limitations probably intervened before he could be brought to trial.

Sometimes they do something right in California.

Regards  —  Cliff

Protecting Everyone's Rights

Gee, I thought it was just that "Right Wing Nut Case" up in New Hampshire or wherever that was on the case of the Canadian Government.  Apparently not.

Here is Commentator Rex Murphy of the National Post, talking to "Human rights meets their match: The microwave oven".

In this article we have two levels of government action, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, which was overruled by the Ontario Superior Court.

Let us not kid ourselves.  There are some rather nasty employers out there, companies or people within companies, who abuse their employees.  This, however, was a case of an employee who was abusing her fellow employees and her supervisor—and then sued.

I am with Mr Murphy,
Thank God for the Ontario Superior Court.  Or, if you’re a Dawkins man, thank Providence, or Fate, or whatever benign anonymous forces silently preserve the common sense of things.
Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Good News In Tunisia

Well, at least per National Review.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Stephen Hawking at the Theater

With a hat tip to Ann Althouse, here is a blog post on Stephen Hawking going to a play about ALS—Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Trivia fact:  In WIkipedia's list of the top 100 movie quotes, Number 38 is Gary Cooper playing Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees speaking the words:
Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
The actual speech can be found here.

Attitude counts.

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  There are those who would have no truck with Ms Jane Fonda, regardless of the activity.  Forty some years ago she did things that I thought were reprehensible.  But, I believe in redemption and forgiveness and she has apologized.  Time to move on and accept her for the artist she is.

Impact of Higher Food Prices

Higher food prices could lead to more unrest.

The link was from the Overseas Security Advisor Council, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, United States Department of State.

You can sign up here; for the notices, not for more food.

Regards  —  Cliff

Senator Kerry for SecState?

Yesterday Boston Globe Columnist Joan Vennochi was touting Senator John Kerry for Secretary of State (is Ms Clinton enroute to the Pentagon?).

Someone commented "disaster", but I don't think so.  For one thing, the position of Secretary of State is not what it used to be, although it could be revived, but it would require the proper SecState and the proper President.

And, Senator Kerry moving on would free up the ice jam that is still the Democratic Party dominated Massachusetts Delegation down in DC.  And, with Rep Barney Frank saying he will run again, much hope of movement there is gone.

On the other hand, Ms Vennochi quotes Senator Kerry as writing, in a New York Time OpEd:
President Hosni Mubarak must accept that the stability of his country hinges on his willingness to step aside gracefully to make way for a new political structure.
She then goes on to say that was what President Obama should have said—NOT!

The President of the United States needs to stay out of appearing to meddle in the dynastic decisions of other nations.  Under the counter may be OK, but with today's press and Wikileaks that is a dubious avenue.

In today's Wall Street Journal is this item, U.S. Pressure on Mubarak Opens a Rift With Arab Allies.
President Barack Obama's attempt to abruptly push aside Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in favor of a transition government has sparked a rift with key Arab allies Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, which fear the U.S. is opening the door for Islamist groups to gain influence and destabilize the region.

Vying to influence the outcome of events, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. have sent public and private messages of solidarity to Mr. Mubarak and his vice president, longtime intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, diplomats said. The messages amount to support for the president and Mr. Suleiman to oversee the transition and to ensure that Islamists can't fill any possible power vacuum.

The support from Arab states has provided a measure of comfort to Mr. Mubarak, who announced he wouldn't take part in September's election. It may in part explain why the Egyptian president rebuffed Mr. Obama's call for an immediate transition that includes the opposition.

The backlash shows how the turmoil in Egypt is rapidly reshaping U.S. policy in the region. In deciding to set itself against Mr. Mubarak, a U.S. ally for decades, the U.S. is now facing the disquiet of other friendly Arab governments, who have long provided support for American policy goals. Meanwhile, Islamists in the region, including Hamas and Hezbollah, believe they are on the ascent as U.S. allies falter.
It is reported that even Israel is unhappy.

Regime change is tricky and we should not be playing our hand with our cards face up.  I don't think Senator Kerry's OpEd was a good start for the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  That said, if the Administration had been holding a more quiet line, Senator Kerry might have been a good stalking horse, but that is not the case here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, February 4, 2011

Profiling and Security

I am all for using "profiling" to improve security at airports.  It is just that I am against racial profiling.  While it might work for a while, it will, at some point, fail due to those criminals we are trying to thwart figuring out why "type" of person can pass freely through security.

Put another way, what I am against is the idea that profiling means focusing on people who look like they are from the Middle East or are Muslim.  I am against the suggestion that the TSA should ignore little kids, people in wheel chairs, people dressed as nuns and women who look Nordic.

As this news report points out being blond doesn't mean you aren't part of some world-wide terrorist conspiracy.  Meet Colleen LaRose, aka Jihad Jane.

On Monday, per the news report by AP Correspondent Maryclaire Dale, Ms LaRose pleaded guilty to terrorist activities and in particular "to her role in a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had offended Muslims."  Unacceptable activity; killing cartoonists because you don't like their cartoons.

Ms Maryclair Dale, the reporter, gave us this heartstrings pulling paragraph
Both LaRose and Paulin-Ramirez [a co-defendent] led troubled lives, LaRose having survived a suicide attempt and Paulin-Ramirez, according to her mother, an abusive first marriage and a childhood marked by bullying.
And continued to lead troubled lives.  Now there is something a profiler could make something out of.  Quickly moving Ms LaRosa along because she looks like anyone else from Texas would have been a big mistake.

While the Israelis use racial profiling, they also look for other telltale ticks.  Doing that second kind of profiling is fine with me.  But, to just pick out people whose physiognomy puts them in a suspect category is bad police work and it is un-American.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Double Log In

Where I work they went to "Single Sign In", which, of course, means you have to sign in twice for certain things.  I get that.  Life is tough, as John Wayne says, and the job of Tech Support is to make sure you don't forget it.

But, when you are in College, life is already tough, so why the added lessons?

Why, when I log into my UMass Lowell EMail and then go to check the Parish Notices do I have to log in again?  Why can't the EMail contain the information or at least the links that go right to the information.

I will admit I don't often go to the Parish Notices because I am a mere Continuing Ed student, but there was one on parking, which caught my attention.  That double log in.  And, since the last time I changed my password I didn't do it via the official password page, I didn't change my password in all the locations it is registered.  Thus, my problem finding out about parking.  But, a very nice young woman at the Help Desk pointed me in the proper direction and I now have a new password and have checked on the parking thing.  Turned out to be a reminder of a reminder and not something governing me going to class.

I wonder if I could get someone to put Internet Services at UMass Lowell under "Bricks and Works"?

Regards  —  Cliff

Ugh—The Truth

Over at End of Nihilism is a post that suggests a hard truth.  And does it in a way that is humorous.

Regards  —  Cliff

Productivity per BLS

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics we have this news:
Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased at a 2.6 percent annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
You can find the full report here.

But, what we need is for unemployment to go down.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Situation in Egypt

This morning's EMail had the view from the Night Watch and it is that we are now at the interesting stage (my words).  The report provides five "Epiphanies":
  1. In Tahrir Square, the atmosphere changed from euphoria to fear in less than 24 hours.  The anti-government demonstrators were outnumbered and surrounded by pro-Mubarak supporters, trapped.  They discovered that Army tolerance of their street displays also extended to the pro-Mubarak activists.  The Army showed that it was strictly neutral, supporting neither side.
  2. The second epiphany was that the anti-government demonstrators were, in fact, not an outpouring of universal opposition to the Mubarak regime.
  3. The third epiphany is that Mubarak has flushed out his opposition.
  4. The fourth epiphany is that pro-Mubarak and anti-Mubarak activists both look to the Army to stabilize the situation.  The Army got what it wanted from Mubarak and is now living up to its promises and responsibilities.  It is in control now.
  5. The fifth epiphany is that the Army has not sided with the anti-government demonstrators.  It appears the Army tolerated and used the demonstrations to ensure no dynastic succession.  Every Egyptian leader since 1952 has been a military officer.  The Army's action protected that precedent.  The Army all along appears to have acted in pursuit of its own parochial interests, which are negative towards Gamal Mubarak as the next president, but positive towards letting Hosni Mubarak serve to the end of his term of office.
Per the Night Watch Report,
One well informed, Brilliant Reader suggested that the next leader of Egypt will be announced this week, after Friday prayers.  He is the Chief of the Armed Forces Staff.
But, what do I know?  To quote my youngest:
Who knows, I'm not a real Arabist, I just sit near one at dinner on the occasional Thanksgiving.
But, this report does suggest that we are not going to get the democratic revolution we were expecting.  It didn't really happen in Lebanon (Cedar Revolution), it didn't happen in Iran (Green Revolution) here recently, and it doesn't look likely in Tunisia (Jasmine Revolution).  The best shot for a new, sustainable, democracy in the neighborhood is still Iraq.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Archers

Drudge Headlines aren't always correct.  Today he has "Prince Charles's wife to appear on BBC soap opera...".  The Duchess of Cornwall will appear on The Archers.  The show is NOT a soap opera.  It is a "farm show".  It is about getting out farm news and has been for decades.  It just happens to center on the village of Ambridge and the Brookfield Farm
The BBC announcement can be found here:
Archers role for the Duchess of Cornwall

The Duchess (r) will feature in the show in her role as president of the National Osteoporosis Society

The Duchess of Cornwall is to appear in BBC Radio 4's long-running rural drama The Archers, listeners have heard.

On Wednesday's episode, regular character Caroline Sterling revealed that the Duchess was to pay a visit to the Grey Gables hotel.

Camilla's brief appearance - recorded in early December - will be broadcast on 16 February.

She will feature in the programme in her role as president of the National Osteoporosis Society.

It is not the first time a member of the royal family has appeared on Radio 4's "everyday tale of country folk".

In 1984 the late Princess Margaret appeared in an episode marking the centenary of the NSPCC, of which she was president.

The Archers celebrated 60 years on air on 2 January, an anniversary it marked by killing off one of its characters.

On 16 February Camilla will visit BBC's Birmingham studios to meet members of the Archers cast and attend a reception.
Regards  —  Cliff

  Here is the story line for 2 January of this year.
The Archers celebrates its 60th anniversary with a thrilling double episode.

Nigel and Elizabeth welcome family and friends to Lower Loxley but Helen’s got a headache. When Amy sees her swollen ankles, she advises Helen to get to hospital.

The doctors diagnose pre-eclampsia. While Tom and Tony wait for the baby to be delivered by emergency caesarean section, Tony’s distraught that he’s not been supportive of Helen. His fear turns to joy when Pat comes out and announces they have a beautiful grandson, Henry Ian Archer.

As the party guests await news of Helen, David suggests he and Nigel take the New Year banner down, to save him having to come back tomorrow. Elizabeth won’t hear of it, and when Brenda receives the good news from Tom, Elizabeth sends Nigel off to get Champagne from the cellar.

David persuades him that they’ve got time to get the banner down, while the women discuss the news of the baby. Nigel’s confident he knows all the footholds on the roof. It’s secret Pargetter knowledge passed down from his father. But he loses his footing when the wind blows the banner into his face. Nigel clings on as David desperately tries to reach him but it’s too late, the wind carries a terrified Nigel over the edge.
Needless to say, Nigel doesn't make it.

Here is the 'gen on Nigel
Born: 08 Jun 1959
Status: Married
Occupation: Stately home owner / manager
Nigel died in a fall from the roof of Lower Loxley on 2 Jan 2011.

Being born of country gentry isn't always an advantage in life, as Nigel found out when he inherited the dubious charms of Lower Loxley Hall. More used to playing the loveable fool, he discovered that funding the house's upkeep is a full time job, and he's happy and grateful to have efficient wife Elizabeth alongside him at the helm.

Some of his schemes have been a little bizarre, but most pan out well, with Elizabeth's sensible guidance to iron out some of his eccentricities.

Like a over-eager puppy Nigel bursts with enthusiastic ideas, some of which are indulged and some squashed. Luckily Elizabeth gave the seal of approval to both his wine production and "green wedding" plans.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cold Weather

This day in the year 1046.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Text Messages are Dangerous

From a week or so ago we have this item out of Canada (The Leader-Post) on the accidental death of a terrorist bomber in the Moscow area.  Remember the 24 January 2011 attack on Moscow's Domodedovo Airport?  Apparently the same crowd.  She died when she got a Text Message on her cell phone.

She was getting rigged out in her suicide bomb outfit at her Safe House when a text message came in.  It appears the trigger for her bomb was set up to act upon receipt of a text message.
Security sources believe a message from her mobile phone operator wishing her a happy new year received just hours before the planned attack triggered her suicide belt, killing her at a safe house.
Bad luck.  Well, actually, good luck for almost all of Moscow, including tourists, but bad luck for the woman bomber.

Note that the suicide bomber was a woman.  Looking for terrorists has to include looking at both sexes (or is that both genders?).

Regards  —  Cliff

What Drives the Near East?

Here is one take on the current events in Europe.
OK, for years, people who claim to be my intellectual betters on foreign policy (and pretty much everything else), and particularly about the Middle East, have been telling me that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is the “occupation” of disputed territories in the West Bank and Gaza, and that we won’t be able to make any progress without solving that issue.  It is what motivates Arab anger, and animates their protests.  Well, surely if this is the case, with all of the apparent anger and ongoing revolt in Cairo, we should be seeing many reports on the ground of protesters with angry signs against the Zionist entity, right?  Or have I just missed them somehow?

Rand Simberg
I know, I keep calling it the "Near East", but that is because if names are going to mean anything, that can't be too broadly applied.

While I don't think a successful democratic revolution in Egypt will make the Israeli and Palestinian issues go away, it will help clarify that it isn't all about Israel and Palestine.

Hat tip to Samizdata.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bush-Obama Continuity

This news item over a Yahoo News, "The State Department's School for Revolutionary Bloggers".

This was an activity that started during the Bush Administration and has continued into the Obama Administration.

Should we be doing this kind of thing?  While I am for non-intervention in most situations, I do think that providing tools for democracy to those willing to come here is a very good idea.  While not everyone sees "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" in the same way, everyone deserves a chance to pursue their vision thereof.

Regards  —  Cliff

Words Should Have Meaning and Carry Value

The Headline from an article in The Boston Globe:
Cleanup tactician lays out strategy
Does this even make sense?

Perhaps the solution would be to term-limit headline writers.

Here is the story.  I do not blame the reporter, Andrew Ryan, for this.  It is those headline writers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A New Look At Terrorism

NPR had an item a few days ago on the new National Security Council Terrorism Expert, Quintan Wiktorowicz.  Mr Wiktorowicz's research has given him new insights into Islam and terrorism.
As part of his research, Wiktorowicz interviewed hundreds of Islamists in the United Kingdom. After compiling his interviews he came to the conclusion that — contrary to popular belief — very religious Muslims were in fact the people who ended up being the most resistant to radicalization.

Fair, who has done a great deal of work on radicalization in Pakistan, said Wiktorowicz's work stayed with her forever. "It really was revelatory for me," she says.

Revelatory because, as it turns out, Wiktorowicz found that it was people who did not have a good grounding in the religion who were the most likely to be attracted by radical Islam.
We still have a lot to learn about terrorism.  We need open minds and a curiosity that will ask those stupid questions that reveal insights.

Regards  —  Cliff