"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Uh-Oh not good news

Justices, 5-4, Back Seizure of Property for Development - New York Times

I have to agree with the dissenting opinion on this one.
It really will open a can of worms.

"WASHINGTON, June 23 - The Supreme Court ruled today, in a deeply emotional case weighing the rights of property owners and the good of the community, that local governments can sometimes seize homes and businesses and turn them over to private developers.

In a case with nationwide implications, the court ruled, 5 to 4, against a group of homeowners in New London, Conn., who have resisted the city's plans to demolish their working-class homes near the Thames River to make way for an office building, riverfront hotel and other commercial activities.

The majority held that, just as government has the constitutional power of eminent domain to acquire private property to clear slums or to build roads, bridges, airports and other facilities to benefit the public, it can sometimes do so for private developers if the latters' projects also serve a public good.

Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said, 'Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted governmental function, and there is no principled way of distinguishing it from the other public purposes the court has recognized.' The court's ruling is certain to be studied from coast to coast, since similar conflicts between owners of homes and small businesses and development-minded officials have arisen in other locales.

Justice Stevens noted that city officials had been addressing New London's sagging economic fortunes for years, and he said their decisions on how best to cope with them were entitled to wide deference.

Of course, he wrote, the city would be barred from taking one's property and transferring it to another private owner strictly for the latter's benefit. But in this instance, he said, the city is promoting a variety of commercial, residential and recreational land uses 'with the hope that they will form a whole greater than the sum of its parts' and bring economic benefits to the general community.

In a bitter dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the majority had created an ominous precedent. 'The specter of condemnation hangs over all property,' she wrote. 'Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.'

'Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private property, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,' she wrote. 'The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.

'As for the victims,' Justice O'Connor went on, 'the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result.'

Justice Stevens was joined in the majority by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

Justice O'Connor's fellow dissenters were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas."

Rich Karlgaard on Entrepreneurs and Europe

It's the Entrepreneurs, Stupid! - Forbes.com: "Digital Rules
It's the Entrepreneurs, Stupid!
Rich Karlgaard, 07.04.05, 12:00 AM ET

A dearth of entrepreneurs explains the economic mess in Europe. What a sad turn of events: France, after all, gave us the word entrepreneur. (It comes from the French verb entreprendre, 'to undertake.' An entrepreneur undertakes a business, assuming the financial risk for the chance of profit.) France also birthed one of the giants of economic philosophy, Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832). Say's Law (1803) was popularized soon after by Scottish Enlightenment philosopher James Mill as the well-known adage 'supply creates its own demand.' Say said it better: 'Products are paid for with products.'

Whichever translation you prefer, the implication of Say's Law is clear enough. Too bad Europe doesn't get it. Growth requires production, which requires investment, which must come out of profits. You destroy growth when you destroy investment capital by way of taxation and regulation. Evidence: France and Germany. The latter has had just one year of 3% GDP growth during the last 12 years. Last year France grew at 2.1%, Germany at 1.6%.

Consumption will never lift a country's growth rate. Only new production--the work of entrepreneurs--will do that. Europe's recovery depends not on more laws or a reworked EU Constitution (or taxpayer subsidies of so-called national champions, such as the Airbus consortium EADS), but on attracting, keeping and nourishing entrepreneurs. Here's how. "

Taxes must be reasonable.

Trade and labor markets must be free.

Regulations must be light.
In Germany business startups need approval from the government, and the process takes months or years. French startups are choked by paperwork, which is why a generation of French restaurant entrepreneurs has decamped to London. In much of the world this master-serf relationship between government and citizens persists--if not in law, in mind--and the thinking is, "Who gave you permission to start a business?" How poisonous to entrepreneurship.

The rule of law must be understood and enforced.
When given a chance, large companies will manipulate the political system to their advantage. This occurs everywhere in the world (think big agribusiness in the U.S.). But where such unlevel playing fields are the norm, not the exception, the country's top entrepreneurs will say, "To heck with this!" and leave.

Entrepreneurs come in all types.
Some want to escape poverty or obscurity. Some have an urge to change the world. Others want to prove their intellect, or stick it to their former bosses. But one thing entrepreneurs rarely appear to be is their university's class valedictorian. Countries that place too much emphasis on showy scholastic achievement, such as France and Japan, will be short on entrepreneurs.

Immigration must be encouraged.
Australia, New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, the U.K. are booming because of immigration, just as America historically has. Educated immigrants start tech companies. Noneducated immigrants also boost the economy, if they are willing to assimilate. They start mom-and-pop businesses, some of which grow to be large. Memo to France and Germany: The U.S. has made a disastrous wrong turn regarding skills-based immigrants. Because of its H-1B visa plan, the U.S. is admitting only a third of the peak number it did five years ago. That's terrible policy. It will damage U.S. technology for years to come. I hate to suggest this, but now's the time for other countries to take advantage of our shortsightedness.

Waste and inefficiency must be accepted.
Old Europe has been infected with a bad idea from its Green parties. The idea is that "sustainability" is good and waste is sinful. But "sustainable" never brings the big breakthrough. For that, you need armies of entrepreneurs "wasting" time and resources in experimentation.

Honest failure must be tolerated.
One of the secrets of Silicon Valley's success is an acceptance of multimillion-dollar cock-ups. Billionaire venture capitalist John Doerr says a VC isn't seasoned until he's crashed the equivalent of an F-18 fighter jet--booted $20 million on a startup that didn't work. In countries where bankruptcy laws are too tilted toward creditors, you get fewer risk takers.

Social mobility must be applauded. Why would a French entrepreneur want to struggle for success, only to find at the head of the receiving line someone like Dominique de Villepin, a haughty mandarin eager to cut him down? One of the reasons Silicon Valley surpassed the Boston area in tech leadership is that Boston was more class-riven. Graduates of Harvard Business School, wanting to protect their social status, tended to go into white-shoe consulting and banking. Graduates of Stanford Business School felt less social pressure and gravitated toward misfit startups. In the U.S. the best entrepreneurial hives offer the most social mobility: New York City, the New South, the West.

Another storm shot

No retouching, just a bit of cropping
Looking SW, storm coming in from NNW

Same storm as shots below
Technical : all with Canon Poweshot A510
3.2 Megapixel
Full auto with some pre-setting of exposure via keying off clouds

Storm Clouds

Weather Data

Just data as to the storm coming through


With a nod to Garth Brooks ...

"And the Thunder Rolls..."

Clouds as a thunderstorm rolled through the area

Approaching Storm

And :

Roiling Clouds

First rain showing up in lower right

And :

Roiling Clouds

All un-retouched

Experiment with Flicr:
Atmospherics - a photoset on Flickr
Collection of shots from this storm.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon reviews and comments

A few reviews of L'Atellier Joel Robuchon
We liked it very much
Enought that we returned for a second dinner

Ed Alcock for The New York Times
The diner's-eye view across the countertop to the kitchen at L'Atelier du Robuchon in Paris.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon | Paris Restaurants | Fodor's Online Travel Guide

Gayot Restaurant News

NYTimes Review

Tasting menu : summary
98 Euro, but worth it.

1. Amuse-bouche of gazpacho -- unlike any gazpacho.
Pureed, smooth, creamy, not too spicy. A couple of crunchy croutons floating on top.
2. Le Tourteau -- Looks like avocado soup with almonds floating on top. But thicker than soup, totally silky and creamy, and there's a creamy crab concoction underneath. Little drops of chile oil floating on top.
3. Les Palourdes -- 3 little clams, served hot in open shells on a bed of rock salt. Much like traditional escargots -- a garilc-butter-parsley sauce with very finely minced mushrooms.
4. Le Volaille -- a deep-fried chicken wing drummette with the bone whittled down to a twig. Served with a sweet-and-sour sauce on a thin slice of pineapple.
5. La Morue -- Cube of codfish, draped in a wonton, with a beautiful leaf of some kind of herb peeking through. Art on a plate. This artful cube was set in a light broth, with parsley oil and veggies floating about. Very very delicate flavors, so in contrast to the first 4 dishes, it seemed rather bland. But in saying that the bland flavors were quite fresh. Served to cleanse the palate for what was to come.
6. LeOeuf -- Served in a martini glass, the top layer was a froth, with sauteed girolles (mushrooms) floating in it. Dig deeper, and you break into a warm coddled egg in butter, dig even deeper, and there is a parsley puree.
Scoop it all into your mouth at once, and die happy.
7. LeAgneau de Lait -- 2 little lamb choplettes with a smidge of signature mashed potatoes (nearly 50/50 butter and potatoes)
8. La Framboise -- First dessert...fresh raspberries in a thin sauce with lychee and vanilla, with both grapefruit and raspberry sorbet. A paper-thin lemon-lime cookie on top with a twig of chocolate.
Another artistic presentation with bursting flavors.
9. Le Chocolat Sensation -- A large serving of a layered masterpiece. Dark chocolate on the bottom, then layered with chocolate cookie crumbs, with white chocolate ice cream, and a milk chocolate mousse layer on top.

Full(est) Moon

Full(est) Moon June 23rd 2005

Waited until values of moon and clouds were close
About 6:20AM

And just another format:

Full Moon

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

When is it "Good Enough" ?

Seth's Blog: Great Enough!

"If you don't ship, it's not really worth doing. More important, we've only got a finite amount of time and resources to invest in anything (thanks, Chris Morris). The real issue is this: when do we stop working on something (because it's good enough) and work on some other element of the offering.

When do we stop working on making a keyboard better and start working on the packaging or the promotion? When do we accept the status quo as unchangeable because the marketplace has embraced a standard, and then put our effort into less earthshattering, but presumably higher leverage tasks?

If you riff through your top 10 great successes of the last decade (you pick your field, doesn't matter) aren't most of them areas where someone refused to accept that the industry's status quo wasn't good enough, and instead set out to change a fundamental rule of that industry?

Maxwell House settled. Howard at Starbucks didn't. American settled, Jet Blue didn't. Vogue settled, Daily Candy didn't. "

I have a different opinion...
I was involved with a small software outfit.
Partner was genius software guy, but could never finish a product.
It would have to be "perfect" before it could be shown to the world.
Ended up merging it into another company ... Polite for shutting down.
There is a (not so fine) line somewhere between getting the product out
the door and doing the MuSoft - sell it now, fix it later - approach.

Getting product out means generating cashflow which can be reinvested in
product improvements.
Besides, you can NEVER anticipate all the possible uses, misuses, etc of your product.
Get it into the hands of clients, customers, users, then listen to feedback to improve it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Confluence of events

Summer Moon Illusion


Summer Solstice

Portents ? or just "stuff happens" (I vote the latter)

Tom goes over the top

As Toyota Goes ... - New York Times

Couldn't help it, I have to comment.
Toyota execs admit that hybrids do not make economic sense in the US at current fuel prices.
Financial Times June 16 :
"Another Toyota executive was more blunt in his analysis: 'Buying a hybrind is about political correctness, it is not about the money' he said"
"Drivers of the Prius would have to do 66,500 miles a year, or see petrol prices quintuple, to $10 a gallon, before it justified the extra cost compared with a similarly-sized Corolla."
Similar calculation for an SUV, such as a Ford Escape comes to 37,000 miles a year to breakeven.

Then let's look at Ethanol - if from corn, there are petrochemical and fuel inputs that outweigh the energy derived from the crop.
Brazilian "flex-fuel" ... ok, but from sugarcane.
Sugarcane in Iowa? Noooo ... how about clearing swaths of Florida?

And is Toyota going pure hybrid?
FT.com / Home UK - Cost cuts are key to success of the Prius

"With global sales of the Prius set to exceed 180,000 this year, and the company chasing sales - Mr Yaegashi calls it a "reference point" not a commitment - of 1m hybrid-powered vehicles in 2010, cost is now central.

Every other major carmaker is scrambling to catch up, in spite of the lower profit margins of the vehicles.

In order to reach the 1m figure, one in 10 of Toyota's planned 2010 sales, the company needs to bring down the price, which means bringing down the cost of the hybrid equipment."

Read it : 10% of production within 5 years.

In the meantime, Toyota cranks out Tacoma Trucks ...
Toyota.com : Vehicles : Tacoma

Tom's Tirade :

"...Toyota has pioneered the very hybrid engine technology that can help rescue not only our economy from its oil addiction (how about 500 miles per gallon of gasoline?), but also our foreign policy from dependence on Middle Eastern oil autocrats.

Diffusing Toyota's hybrid technology is one of the keys to what I call 'geo-green.' Geo-greens seek to combine into a single political movement environmentalists who want to reduce fossil fuels that cause climate change, evangelicals who want to protect God's green earth and all his creations, and geo-strategists who want to reduce our dependence on crude oil because it fuels some of the worst regimes in the world."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Quick recap of EuroSummit Failure and problems for the Euro

Kicking the Euro When Europe Is Down - New York Times

This pretty well sums it up
Europe still adrift
Nice place to visit, but not sure I would want to do business there.

"The shared money that replaced national currencies in 2002 was always as much a political as an economic idea. It symbolized the pursuit of a European political union. Without such union, the French and German backers of the euro argued, the new money would be orphaned.

But with the French and Dutch rejection of a European constitution two weeks ago, momentum toward further political integration was lost. The time of the orphans is upon Europe. The European Union budget is in dispute, Europe's direction unclear. The 'pause for reflection' called for by European leaders last week in Brussels is an admission of paralysis.

This paralysis was evident in the suggestion from the French president, Jacques Chirac, that further expansion of the 25-member E.U. was inconceivable 'without the institutions capable of making this expanded union function efficiently.' Turkey, in other words, will have to wait because the union is rudderless.

A fundamental European conflict has taken hold between the French-German-Italian push for federation (embodied by the euro) and the British-Polish-Scandinavian stand for a Europe that is more free trade area than cohesive political entity. Because the more rigid economies of the former grouping are not as dynamic as those of the latter, Europe's unifying forces are faltering.

As a result, the euro looks like a money without any prospect of a European government to back it. 'In the long term, a monetary union without political union is unthinkable,' said Alberto Majocchi, an economist who is president of Italy's Institute for Studies and Economic Analyses.

Even in the short term, Europe's lack of political coherence can cause economic problems in the euro zone.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

International Herald Tribune on Europe as a "Sideshow"

Globalist: In U.S., a withering view of Europe as a sideshow - Americas - International Herald Tribune

From the International Hearld Tribune on trends in Europe, esp. post French and Dutch "No" (Non and Nee) on the EU Constitution.

From June 15th

"Has Europe become a sideshow? Perhaps this town of haunting but also melancholy beauty is not a bad place to pose that question, for it offers at every corner some reminder of the way that great power and wealth may pass, leaving nothing but their golden shell.

It is now just over 200 years since the 118th and last Doge of Venice, Lodovico Manin, surrendered to the slogan-touting revolutionary army of Napoleon Bonaparte, so putting an end to the Most Serene Republic in the fastness of its lagoon, a power whose often enlightened commercial sway had stretched for centuries across the eastern Mediterranean.

'Take this, I shall not be needing it again,' Manin said on Friday, May 12, 1797, as he handed the Doge's close-fitting white linen cap to his valet. Sometimes it is clear when things come to an end. At others, the lines of history are blurred, less demarcations than smudges.

So it is in a Europe today that does not know if the dominant and fruitful postwar idea of 'ever closer union' is now dead. When European Union leaders meet this week in Brussels, they will face for the first time the fact that tens of millions of Europeans have turned their back on a Union whose geography, identity and ambition seemed murky.

International Herald Tribune : If you loose, blame someone else

Politicus: A lethal ridiculousness in the European Union - Europe - International Herald Tribune

Quote : "Neither Chirac nor Schroder will die from an overload of coherence" !

Switch the subject to the Budget and when it collapses, as it did, blame Blair.

From June 14th


"There is a French maxim saying nothing kills as surely as ridiculousness. It probably goes back to the royal court at Versailles where the wrong ruffle, or faulty flounce, or stocking hue (not peach, you fool, but apricot! ) first meant hilarity, then dead men walking.

Much the same rule seems to pertain to European politics in 2005. Ridiculousness continues to look lethal.

I'm thinking of a separation from reality these days that overwhelms the acceptably contradictory and becomes grotesque - the equivalent of generals ordering their vanquished armies to defend destroyed fortifications to the death.

This is not insisting that politics should survive without contradictions and maneuvering, which, like digressions, are often the best part of the story.

But after the rejection of the European Union's constitution in referendums in France and the Netherlands, and Gerhard Schr�der's mortifying defeat in a regional election in Germany's biggest state, there is a degree of political slippage, a mortal skid, really, whirling Schr�der and Jacques Chirac at the heart of Europe in the direction of the absurd.

The two men met twice in six days, and after both acknowledged that Europe was in crisis, they came up with the command-like conclusion that the EU's summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday should be about its budget for the year after next."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Note on Photos

Shots from June 10th on taken with Canon PowerShot A510
3.2 megapixel

Auto settings

Weather, on the whole was mild and very low humidity
This enhanced the clear skys and allowed capture of deeper blues, esp. when shots were positioned away from the sun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Gargoyle on Basilica Montmartre Paril

Basilica Montmartre

Just a little playing with shapes and deep blue sky
Wonderful weather
Highest point in Paris

Interesting comparison

Perspective : Fiat (400?) 2cV and Mini (new)

Interesting little (pun intended) comparison
An old(er) Fiat, not sure of size, 300-400?, followed by a clean Citroen 2cV, followed by a "Modern Mini"

Couldn't get a good side shot, but you get the idea.
Mini not all that small, but, surprisingly, lower roofline than the 2cV...

Rodin Museum

Tried for a little different angle

Obligatory Shot of Rodin's The Thinker

Monday, June 13, 2005

A good Alsatian

After a long day of sightseeing
Time for a nice Leffe
Good Alsatian beer that hits the spot

Le Grande Charles

On the Champs-E'lysees

Le Gran Charles

At the intersection of the Champs-E'Lysees and Churchill Blvd.
Interesting that statues of "Winnie" and Clemenceau are, though larger than life, nearly ground level. Le Grande Charles is on a tall pedestal.
But then, he was the true hero of France and led her to victory in the war...

Talk about timing

We knew that the view from La Samaritaine was reputed to be among the best in Paris.

FRANCE: FIRE RISK CLOSES SAMARITAINE STORE La Samaritaine, the grand old Paris department store on the banks of the Seine, is closing for several years to modernize after a police report deemed it a serious fire risk. "We think it will take several years of work, probably a minimum of three to four years," Philippe de Beauvoir, the president of the store, Paris's largest, told the newspaper Le Parisien. He said it would cost almost $125 million to modernize the 100-year-old Art Nouveau and Art Deco complex, now owned by LVMH-Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. As employees absorbed the news, several hundred gathered outside LVMH headquarters to protest, although Mr. de Beauvoir said none of the 800 workers would lose their jobs. "They're going to pay us to stay at home for six years?" a 34-year employee asked.

La Samaritaine

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Not the best shot, but an idea of the Water Lilly pond at Monet's gardens.

Water Lillys

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Late Saturday Afternoon

Rue du Bac
District St. Germain
Late afternoon, after 5, looking north towards the Seine
Pretty quiet

Rue du Bac

Break after a day at Musee d'Orsay and before Dinner

Friday, June 10, 2005

A couple of Paris Icons

Paris Icons

Notre Dame and a Deux Chevaux (Citroen 2cV)
On our way back from dinner our first evening in Paris

WSJ.com - Monsieur Triple Espresso

WSJ.com - Monsieur Triple Espresso:

Most timely "Profile" as we headed to Paris
From WSJournal:

June 10, 2005; Page A8

Soon after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Dominique de Villepin, then France's foreign minister, came to address Paris's foreign press corps over breakfast. He did not touch a single one of the buttery croissants arrayed before him. As a long-distance runner, he maintains a lean silhouette. He took his coffee black and when he sipped it, he cupped his hand beneath his chin to make sure nothing dribbled on to his electric blue shirt. Standing amidst his rumpled audience, his skin shone a deep bronze, his blue eyes flashed beneath his mane of silver and he began to speak, softly at first but growing ever louder. His arms swept this way and that and from his lips poured a torrent of arguments about the risks of the invasion, its illegitimacy and why history would show France was right and the U.S. hideously wrong. After 40 minutes, he was all but shouting: 'We in France recognize that the fate of man is essentially tragic. Humanity is dark.'

It was a familiar display from this most unusual politician, chosen to be prime minister last week, following France's rejection of the European constitution. At a time of deep national unease, his appointment is President Chirac's Hail Mary pass, a final, desperate heave to salvage a fast evaporating mandate."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Brit review of New Map game

Telegraph | News | War game gives Washington a lesson in power

Russell was participant in Barnett's "game"
Tom's comments :""No major wars - this is the definition of a happy ending. America was losing to win."

Title was apparently a quote I gave or a statement I made at The New Map Game. Go here (http://telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/06/04/war04.xml) to read Alec Russell's story on the game entitled, "War game gives Washington a lesson in power" in the Daily Telegraph. He has a really neat style of writing. Very clean but very direct. He put in the effort at the game, which I admired, so he earned the story, and it's a solid capture of the tone.

Tom's comment

War game gives Washington a lesson in power
By Alec Russell in Rhode Island
(Filed: 04/06/2005)

The mood in the White House situation room was gloomy. Iran had nuclear weapons; the Chinese had turned North Korea into a de facto colony; and Brazil was getting uppity and refusing to take America's side.

And still the world's lone superpower was barely reacting.

'We are perceived as losing prestige, as not taking the lead,'' a US aide said. 'Not,'' she added thoughtfully, 'that we didn't get whacked around earlier for being a bully.''

The New Map is the latest war game to do the rounds of the US military and it poses salutary lessons for the Bush administration as it ponders crises over Iran's and North Korea's nuclear ambitions and the ill-will caused by Iraq."
Go to the piece for details of scenario


"But ultimately China's and Iran's internal weaknesses put a brake on their ambitions. China was awarded first place in the "game", but only just, and America came a close second. "So was the US losing?" asked Mr Barnett, who believes in conciliating and not confronting China.

"From the point of view of the American people the presidents [in the game] would be pretty popular. Americans are not getting killed in a war and are not 'meddling'.

"No major wars - this is the definition of a happy ending. America was losing to win."

Humm this looks interesting ...

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Message that was less than grossly offensive

Example of less than great customer service

When taxi driver Ashley Gibbins called the helpline of NTL hoping to have broadband installed, he was told, that all its operators were busy right now, but if he cared to hold the line his call would be dealt with as soon as possible.

So Mr Gibbins held. And held. Then held some more. Eventually, after an hour, Mr Gibbins decided he had had enough. He put the phone down and decided to wreak revenge.

By chance, Mr Gibbins discovered he could alter NTL's recorded message, and after he'd tinkered with it people seeking help were met with something altogether more blunt.

'Hello, you are through to NTL customer services,' they were told. 'We don't give a fuck about you, basically, and we are not going to handle any of your complaints. Just fuck off and leave us alone. Get a life.'

NTL did not see the funny side and called in the police. Magistrates in Teesside, however, may have had similar experience on corporate helplines themselves.

Mr Gibbins, 26, from Redcar, Cleveland, was acquitted at Teesside magistrates' court on Tuesday of an offence under the Communications Act 2003 of making a grossly offensive message.

The magistrates decided Mr Cleveland's rant was merely offensive, and did not make the 'grossly offensive' standard required for prosecution.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Crown Prosecution Service said Mr Gibbins admitted he had left the message but denied it was grossly offensive.

'He did accept that he was responsible. The main question was whether the message was deemed to be offensive or grossly offensive.

'The judiciary heard all the issues before them and they decided in this particular instance that it was not grossly offensive,' said the spokeswoman.

NTL's media centre put the Guardian on hold, suggested we try another number and then declined to comment."

Pandora's box

Top Scientist Skewers Creationism | Bayosphere

Normally I would not dip my toe in this one but ?
1) spotted it on Dan's blog
2) link to Richard Dawkins
3) slew of interesting comments

Dorthy to Toto " I don't think we're in Kansas anymore ..."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Dumb and Dumber ?

Transcript shows Kerry's Yale grades similar to Bush - Boston.com - Massachusetts - News

June 7, 2005

BOSTON --Sen. John F. Kerry's academic performance at Yale University was virtually identical to President George W. Bush's academic record, despite repeated portrayals of Kerry as being more intellectual than his Republican rival, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

The Globe, which obtained Kerry's transcript from his U.S. Navy officer training school application after Kerry gave permission for its release, said Kerry had a cumulative grade average of 76 for his four years at Yale and received four Ds his freshman year.

In 1999, The New Yorker published a transcript showing Bush had a cumulative grade average of 77 his first three years at Yale, and a similar average under a non-numerical rating system his senior year.

Kerry, D-Mass., had previously declined to release the transcript, which was included in his Navy records. He had refused to waive privacy restrictions for the full file during the presidential campaign, but gave the Navy permission to release the documents last month, the newspaper reported.

His freshman year, Kerry had an average of 71. He earned a 61 in geology, a 63 and a 68 in two history courses, and a 69 in political science. His top scores of 79 and 77 were in political science and French, respectively. At the time, Yale considered grades between 70 and 79 a C and 60 and 69 a D.

'I always told my Dad that D stood for distinction,' Kerry said in a written response to reporters' questions. He said he has previously acknowledged focusing more on learning to fly than studying. In his Navy application, Kerry said he had spent much of his college career in extracurricular activities, including the Yale Political Union, the Debating Association and the Skull and Bones Society.

His grades improved later, however, as he averaged an 81 his senior year and earned an 89 -- his highest grade -- in a political science class as a senior. He was also chosen to deliver the senior class oration, in which he questioned the wisdom of the Vietnam War.

According to The New Yorker article, Bush's highest grade at Yale was an 88 in anthropology, history and philosophy. He received one D in his four years, a 69 in astronomy, and like Kerry, improved his grades after his freshman year."

Update : Kerry graduated 2 years ahead of Bush (66 vs 68)
Must have been massive grade inflation...

Apple's shift to Intel

The New York Times > Technology > Apple's Next Test: Get Developers to Write Programs for Intel Chips:

"Mr. Jobs said the company would begin incorporating Intel chips in some Macs reaching the market next year and largely complete the changeover by 2008. For the transition, Apple will offer a new version of its operating system, Macintosh OS X Tiger, that will run on both I.B.M. and Intel chips."

Maybe we've reached the point, thanks to Moore's Law where logic gates are truely a commodity and software trumps hardware ?

If the OS is agnostic about the hardware, the hardware, with architecture not as imporant as speed and power consumption, the shift works.

Phishing and Pharming

WSJ.com - U.S. Home: "Citigroup said a box containing computer tapes with personal information on 3.9 million customers of its CitiFinancial consumer-finance unit was lost by UPS."

No need to worry about internet scams
Just get a CitiCard

Inerited IQ?

Researchers Say Intelligence and Diseases May Be Linked in Ashkenazic Genes - New York Times

Interesting hypothesis, combination of social restrictions of profession, inbreeding and genetic mutation that happens to favor "IQ"

Recap of research in NYTimes

Also here : The evolution of intelligence | Natural genius? | Economist.com:

"The high intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews may be a result of their persecuted past

The idea that some ethnic groups may, on average, be more intelligent than others is one of those hypotheses that dare not speak its name. But Gregory Cochran, a noted scientific iconoclast, is prepared to say it anyway. He is that rare bird, a scientist who works independently of any institution. He helped popularise the idea that some diseases not previously thought to have a bacterial cause were actually infections, which ruffled many scientific feathers when it was first suggested. And more controversially still, he has suggested that homosexuality is caused by an infection.

Even he, however, might tremble at the thought of what he is about to do. Together with Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending, of the University of Utah, he is publishing, in a forthcoming edition of the Journal of Biosocial Science, a paper which not only suggests that one group of humanity is more intelligent than the others, but explains the process that has brought this about. The group in question are Ashkenazi Jews. The process is natural selection."


"Ashkenazim generally do well in IQ tests, scoring 12-15 points above the mean value of 100, and have contributed disproportionately to the intellectual and cultural life of the West, as the careers of Freud, Einstein and Mahler, pictured above, affirm. They also suffer more often than most people from a number of nasty genetic diseases, such as Tay-Sachs and breast cancer. These facts, however, have previously been thought unrelated. The former has been put down to social effects, such as a strong tradition of valuing education. The latter was seen as a consequence of genetic isolation. Even now, Ashkenazim tend to marry among themselves. In the past they did so almost exclusively.

Dr Cochran, however, suspects that the intelligence and the diseases are intimately linked. His argument is that the unusual history of the Ashkenazim has subjected them to unique evolutionary pressures that have resulted in this paradoxical state of affairs.

Ashkenazi history begins with the Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in the first century AD. When this was crushed, Jewish refugees fled in all directions. The descendants of those who fled to Europe became known as Ashkenazim.

In the Middle Ages, European Jews were subjected to legal discrimination, one effect of which was to drive them into money-related professions such as banking and tax farming which were often disdained by, or forbidden to, Christians. This, along with the low level of intermarriage with their gentile neighbours (which modern genetic analysis confirms was the case), is Dr Cochran's starting point.

He argues that the professions occupied by European Jews were all ones that put a premium on intelligence. Of course, it is hard to prove that this intelligence premium existed in the Middle Ages, but it is certainly true that it exists in the modern versions of those occupations. Several studies have shown that intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, is highly correlated with income in jobs such as banking.

What can, however, be shown from the historical records is that European Jews at the top of their professions in the Middle Ages raised more children to adulthood than those at the bottom. Of course, that was true of successful gentiles as well. But in the Middle Ages, success in Christian society tended to be violently aristocratic (warfare and land), rather than peacefully meritocratic (banking and trade).

Put these two things together—a correlation of intelligence and success, and a correlation of success and fecundity—and you have circumstances that favour the spread of genes that enhance intelligence. The questions are, do such genes exist, and what are they if they do? Dr Cochran thinks they do exist, and that they are exactly the genes that cause the inherited diseases which afflict Ashkenazi society."

Monday, June 06, 2005


Only bike I'm riding at this time
1985 Honda "V665" (1100cc)
Quick enough for me - does the "ton" either top of 3rd or in 4th
Enough power that you can skip gears on the way up 1-3-5-6th.
Like all V4's... linear power, no peaks, just like a big electric motor
Shaft drive for easy maintance, but it jacks the suspension some.

Only modifications:
Wider wheels (welded up to be an inch wider than stock) with what use to be, sticky tires.
Handlebars replaced after minor spill (other driver ran stop sign)
Similar rise and bend to the stock ones.

A bit much rake for fast backroading, but that's fine.
Nice and stable

The NY Times wants fewer links - megnut.com

The NY Times wants fewer links - megnut.com

Whoops on the Times part
Coincidence that stock is hitting 52 week low ?

Meg :
As Jill Walker writes in her paper, Links and Power: The Political Economy of Linking on the Web, "Links have become the currency of the Web. With this economic value they also have power, affecting accessibility and knowledge on the Web."

Enabling more links to the New York Times would:

* increase the visibility of the Times brand
* help content reach a larger segment of readers
* increase traffic to the site

Clearly, increased traffic would drive increased revenue in the form of online advertising. And in the long term, I believe it would generate more income than charging US$49.95 for an annual subscription. Perhaps US$49.95 is, as Martin Nisenholtz (senior vice president of digital operations for the Times) says, a "terrific price point" for what they're offering -- if you happen to live in the US or western Europe. But it truly is a world wide web, with English as its de facto language.

As media brands increasingly become more global, it's hard to fathom why the Times wouldn't do everything in its power to ensure it's the world wide web's news leader. By charging for its online content, the Times reduces its number of linkable sources, and thus its reach in the online world. It's their first step towards ensuring they will play a smaller role in it going forward.

Chart from Yahoo :
One year Chart

Seth's Blog: Small is the new big

Seth's Blog: Small is the new big:

"Big used to matter. Big meant economies of scale. (You never hear about “economies of tiny” do you?) People, usually guys, often ex-Marines, wanted to be CEO of a big company. The Fortune 500 is where people went to make… a fortune.

There was a good reason for this. Value was added in ways that big organizations were good at. Value was added with efficient manufacturing, widespread distribution and very large R&D staffs. Value came from hundreds of operators standing by and from nine-figure TV ad budgets. Value came from a huge sales force."


Also patterns to blogging vs. traditional publishing

Small and quick vs big and slow.
One or few vs. many and editors.

Early mammals vs. Dinosaurs?

Long piece on the Chimera of Globalism

Australian Financial Review - The end of globalism:

Conclusion, to every thing turn turn turn ...

Consider it as Non-Barnett View (Tom Barnett : Pentagon's New Map)
Tom's Blog

"The return of the idea of national power has also meant the return of the idea of choice - choice for citizens and choice for countries. But with choice comes uncertainty, which provokes fear. The moment we entered the post-Globalisation vacuum, you could feel that fear begin to rise. And curiously enough, the greater a nation's power, the more intense the fear becomes. Perhaps power produces an expectation of certainty. Perhaps smaller countries find a certain freedom in uncertainty - the freedom to choose without being bullied. Necessity, Pitt the Younger said, is the excuse of every tyranny. For most smaller countries, Globalisation has felt like an inevitability and, so, like a tyranny.

History will eventually give all of these contradictory signals a shape. But history is neither for nor against.

It just is. And there is no such thing as a prolonged vacuum in geopolitics.

It is always filled. This is what happens every few decades. The world turns, shifts, takes a new tack, or retries an old one. Civilisation rushes around one of those blind corners filled with uncertainties.

Then, abruptly, the opportunities present themselves to those who move with skill and commitment.

John Ralston Saul is the author of Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, Unconscious Civilisation and, most recently, On Equilibrium: The Six Qualities of the New Humanism. ©2004 Harper's Magazine. Distributed by Tribune Media Services International.

More on Europe

Looney Dunes: Hugh on Europe

Hugh triggered this
Well, the French Vote and my tracking of the Euro really was instigation of immediate interest.

Other readings:

France's Rejection of E.U. Charter Emboldens Opponents - New York Times:

"PARIS, May 30 - The shock of France's rejection of a constitution for Europe reverberated throughout the continent today, with Britain suggesting that it might cancel its own popular vote on the document and the far-right in the Netherlands gaining even more confidence that a 'no' vote would prevail in Wednesday's referendum there."

Downhill from here
Rejection of Eurocrats by one of the founders of the "New Europe"
Future of the Euro in doubt.

"The most serious potential foreign fallout from the no vote in France came from Prime Minister Tony Blair, who called for a "time for reflection," saying that it was too early to decide whether a popular vote could go ahead in Britain. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he would announce a decision no earlier than next week.

"Underneath all this there is a more profound question, which is about the future of Europe and, in particular, the future of the European economy and how we deal with the modern questions of globalization and technological change," Mr. Blair told journalists during a vacation in Italy.

His tentative remarks contrasted with the bold approach taken by other European leaders, including Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany and Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, who said the ratification process must go on.

Similarly, the Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, told a news conference at the Union's headquarters in Brussels, "Life continues.". "For me, the worst that could happen is if, as a consequence of that, you or the citizens of the European Union or the leaders of the European Union enter into a zone of paralysis psychologically," he said.

"Just a few weeks ago, for example, Roman Prodi, the former president of the European Commission, predicted that a French no would mean "the end of Europe." Today he called the outcome "a disaster," but insisted that it could be worse.

"This is still better than a war of secession like the United States once had," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm serious now. We must keep this perspective in mind. We don't have a treaty, but we also don't have wars."

That is certainly true, but the lowest-common denominator approach was not what the leaders of Europe had in mind when they embarked on the drafting of the Constitution, a process that took two-and-a-half years.



Euro Bruised by Rejection of New Pact by France - New York Times:
"Few experts are predicting a full-blown crisis for the euro, which is safeguarded by the politically independent European Central Bank. France's refusal to ratify the constitution will have little impact on the running of the monetary union, or on the maze of regulations that govern the world's largest trading bloc.

Still, as Paul De Grauwe, a Belgian expert on the currency, put it, 'Something psychological has changed.'

Like many economists, he believes that the long-term viability of the euro hinges on the gradual political integration of the countries that use it - a prospect that, for now at least, is dashed. 'Can the euro survive without a political union?' Mr. De Grauwe said. 'I have my doubts.' "

Spooked by a sullen, rebellious electorate, European leaders might give up trying to force sweeping changes of their social welfare systems. Publicly, at least, they are likely to talk down American-British-style economic policy, with its emphasis on competition and untrammeled markets.

"There has been a parallel debate in Germany and France about neo-liberalism versus the social market economy," said Allan Saunderson, chairman of EuroZone Advisers, a consulting firm in Frankfurt. "That debate is going to become a lot sharper over the next few months."

At its heart, he said, the question is whether these countries can still afford to prop up costly welfare states in a global economy. In Germany, the debate has mutated into an occasionally vitriolic attack by the governing Social Democratic Party on big companies and foreign investors.

Rules? What Rules? : "France, Germany, Italy and Portugal are all in violation of the deficit limits. In Portugal, the deficit may reach 6.8 percent of gross domestic product this year - more than twice the level allowed by Brussels."

"Among other casualties of France's rejection may be the further expansion of the European Union, a process economists often advocate as a way to spur Europe's growth and competitiveness.

Some Western European leaders are likely to resist the entry of Turkey into the union because it would stir voters' fears of an influx of low-cost foreign workers. Fear of such cheap labor fueled the anti-Europe camp in France."


The peasant's revolt - more Eurodurge:

The peasant's revolt - Sunday Times - Times Online:

Conclusion : Europe is a collection of peoples with their own histories and borders. Union is very far off, if ever.

"In Brussels the “mannequin pis” winked. In Holland the boy took his finger from the dyke. In Paris Marianne bared not her breast but her buttock. The cock crowed, the lion roared, the bear growled. Bliss it was last week to be alive and in Amsterdam, the city which since the 17th century has embodied civic autonomy and global commerce. It has just perpetrated a revolution and can hardly believe it.

Two hundred kilometres to the south in Brussels, the humiliated courtiers of the European Union sat gloomy in their gilded salons, wondering how to hold off the upstart mob. Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, presiding over the EU’s Council of Ministers, tearfully suggested that Europe’s voters be asked to vote again “until they get it right”. Lord Kerr, Britain’s envoy at this court, described the referendums as a “macabre ritual”. Jose Manuel Barroso, commission president, warned of a “risk of contagion” spreading across Europe. Only in Brussels is the word democracy synonymous with disease."


If history offers any lesson from the past week it is that Europe courts disaster if it allows the politics of union to override the politics of division. Regions, enclaves, provinces and statelets are part of the European kaleidoscope. The peoples of eastern Europe, notably in what were Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, have just risked their wealth and even their lives to recover their historical identities. They want self-government to mean just that, as do the enclaves of the west. Only if they are convinced such so-called subsidiarity is genuine will the myriad peoples that make up Europe consent to the national or supranational disciplines needed to keep Europe competitive.

This past week has seen democracy explode its most dangerous weapon, a referendum. The release of energy was awesome. Power asked a question of freedom and was given a punch in the face. Such moments are rare and they are beautiful. They are also menacing and full of meaning."

Is it about Intel fabbing PPC chips?

Is it about Intel fabbing PPC chips? | �Doc Searls' IT Garage

Interesting idea
Haven't had time to dig into it, likely won't (wrapping up some legal stuff, packin for Paris etc)

Ownership : IBM/MOT/APPL
So the idea would be to trace the ownership of the IP (intellectual property)

MOT has been moving out of production (spin out of Freescale)
Would they mind INTC making the chips?

Maybe not
MOT more of a handset-systems company now (my perception)
IBM clearly moving to systems company (for big clients - sale of PC biz)
Apple moving into consumer products (tough business, but if you have the cachet, you can do it - Branding very important)

soooo - Doc's idea is interesting


The New York Times > Technology > Link by Link: You've Been Scammed Again? Maybe the Problem Isn't Your Computer:

"'I don't think many users of the Internet realize that there are virtually no rules and even fewer enforcers of rules in cyberspace,' Mr. Carroll said.

Alas, we appear to be no better equipped in the real world. In a survey conducted alongside the Infosecurity Europe trade show earlier this year, more than 90 percent of roughly 200 people approached on the street were duped into giving away enough information to steal their identities - all for the chance at winning some theater tickets.

That's worse than last year's experiment, when only 70 percent of those approached were willing to give up their computer passwords - this time in return for chocolate.

No phishing required."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Monkey Business

Monkey Business - New York Times

Capuchin Monkey behavior, when it comes to "Money" looks to be no different than for Homo "Sapiens" (quotes around Sapiens as the sapien part might be in question)

"But these facts remain: When taught to use money, a group of capuchin monkeys responded quite rationally to simple incentives; responded irrationally to risky gambles; failed to save; stole when they could; used money for food and, on occasion, sex. In other words, they behaved a good bit like the creature that most of Chen's more traditional colleagues study: Homo sapiens."

Or is it just that the capuchin's being studied are at Yale? (VBG)


Chen proudly calls himself a behavioral economist, a member of a growing subtribe whose research crosses over into psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Trump Group Selling West Side Parcel for $1.8 Billion - Top ?

Trump Group Selling West Side Parcel for $1.8 Billion - New York Times:

Did "The Donald" get it right this time?
Contrast the transaction with his claims at the "Learning Annex Real Estate Wealth Expo" that real estate is the biggest and best business.
If the prospects continue to be great - why sell?


"A consortium of Hong Kong investors and Donald J. Trump are selling a stretch of riverfront land and three buildings on the Upper West Side for about $1.8 billion in the largest residential sale in city history and in the latest example of a rocketing housing market.

The Extell Development Corporation and the Carlyle Group have a tentative deal to buy a major swath of developable land at the onetime railroad yard between 59th and 72nd Streets, which has been turned into a luxury enclave known variously as Riverside South and Trump Place, according to real estate executives who have been briefed on the deal. The 77-acre property embraces what will be a 21-acre public park that slopes down to the Hudson River.

The deal comes as the average condominium price in Manhattan has soared to more than $1.2 million and as developable land has become increasingly rare, even as some economists worry that a housing bubble will soon burst."

Friday, June 03, 2005

Defense Tech: Spray Me, Pay Me

Defense Tech: Spray Me, Pay Me

Oxytocin and effect of increasing "Trust"

How about for ads in glossies ?
Sorta like the scratch ads for cologne

Researchers had some volunteers inhale oxytocin [also known as the "hormone of love" or "cuddle chemical" -- ed.] and then examined how they and those who inhaled a placebo invested money in a mock transaction.

The transaction involved taking a risk: handing over money to a "banker" who had the option of returning the investment with a profit or withholding principal and profit, leaving the investor with nothing. The experiment was a measure of the trust that the investors had in the bankers.

Volunteers who inhaled oxytocin were more likely to trust the banker with money and risk larger sums, the researchers said in an article published yesterday in the journal Nature.

The scientists said they made sure the chemical was not merely enhancing risk-taking behavior by substituting bankers with computers. Without the interaction with a human, the hormone had no effect.

Very cool pic


Start of 500GP Imola '83

Hugh on Europe

gapingvoid: "european civilisation has sown the seeds of its own decline and fall"

"Europe is the world's most expensive luxury good," I said. "Every year it get a little more expensive, and nobody has any good ideas about how to make it cheaper."

With several trips to Europe, business and pleasure, and with "sometimes" business partner from Wien (Vienna), my conclusion is that Europe has become a "DisneyLand" with full time occupants. Maybe becoming "Disneyland" : the Old Folks Home.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Shopping: Women Shop, Men Buy

Story - prior wife, shopping
( visitors please take with grain of salt, maybe a full shaker of salt )
Women Shop
Men Buy

I walked into establishment where I'd bought "formal attire" for many
years, said I need a grey suit, they brought out 3, I picked one
(banker's pinstripe)
Wife (of the time) was put out ... "you haven't shopped"
We visited 1/2 dozen other establishments (BTW - this was not current
wife nor location)
Tried on suits etc etc etc

Went back to orginal establishment - bought first choice.
Women Shop
Men Buy

someone once did a "map" of man vs woman set with a task to buy item in
a "mall"
woman - 3hrs, much wandering (think dumb rat in maze)
man - 15 min - direct to and from vendor, no wandering

Women Shop
Men Buy

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Risky Business

The New York Times > Movies > How Personal Is Too Personal for a Star Like Tom Cruise?:

Tom over the top?
Other rumors that the whole Katie Holmes affair is a hype and a front
Fall in love with the only "avowed virgin" in Hollywood ???

Give me a break

Channeling L.RonHubbard ...

"An executive for Viacom, Paramount's parent company, said the studio had not yet decided whether to push ahead with production of 'Mission: Impossible III,' one of the company's most valuable franchises and a project on which tens of millions of dollars has already been spent. Shooting was planned to begin in Italy on July 18 and to continue on location in Europe and elsewhere.


'No definitive decision has been made; it's a discussion,' said the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared endangering the studio's relationship with Mr. Cruise. Other executives involved in the discussion said the production became an issue in recent days as the budget has climbed well over $150 million. A studio spokeswoman, Janet Hill, declined to comment.

The uncertainty comes at a critical time for Paramount as it prepares to release 'War of the Worlds,' a big-budget science fiction epic directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Mr. Cruise. The movie, jointly financed with DreamWorks, is to open on June 29.

While promoting that film over the last several weeks, Mr. Cruise engaged in an increasingly public discussion of his religion, Scientology. Then he set tongues wagging in Hollywood and elsewhere with an hourlong appearance on the May 23 'Oprah' show, during which he jumped around the set, hopped onto a couch, fell rapturously to one knee and repeatedly professed his love for his new girlfriend, the actress Katie Holmes.

Many Hollywood stars are involved with the Church of Scientology, and there is nothing particularly unusual about trumpeting a new love. But some executives at Paramount and DreamWorks have voiced concern that fans were becoming distracted from the movie, which cost some $130 million to produce.