Sunday, October 28, 2007

Persona Non Grata

That’s me at the University of Arizona. I was reminded of this last week when I volunteered to take part in a reading of “How I Learned To Drive.” A member of the University’s English department had asked some of us to read for his class in dramatic literature. Happy to oblige.

Just try to park legally to do a good deed!

Readers of this blog know I’m a motorcyclist. There’s a family car that’s used by my wife, but my personal transportation is my motorcycle, and that’s why I’m not welcome at the University: Motorcycles are denied access to all University parking structures. It’s a real pain in the butt.

It’s not perfectly clear why this is, or why the university powers would prefer I drive my relatively low-gas-mileage, emissions-emitting car rather than my very high mileage, low emissions motorcycle. I guess they would rather have one big car occupy the space than three paying bikers.

The result is that living on the town side of the town and gown divide the University is as useless to me as a large box factory.
Maybe less—the box factory would at least pay taxes. The U? Can’t park so I don’t go.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Journalists’ Shield Passes

But are we journalists?

The Free Flow of Information act passed the House late this afternoon by a vote of 398 to 21. As I read the text of HR 2102 some (but possibly not all) bloggers would be covered. The bill defines ‘journalism’ this way”

“The term ‘‘journalism’’ means the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.”

Mathew Pollack, writing on The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press web site, reports:

“The bill only protects professional journalists who regularly engage in journalism 'for substantial financial gain' or a substantial part of their livelihood. Under this definition, some, but not all, bloggers will receive protection from federal investigators. Any terrorist organizations or media wings of foreign powers cannot claim protection under the shield.”

My problem, which some Lefty Blogger may solve, is that in the text of the bill on line I don’t find the ‘substantial financial gain’ limitation. Apart from that the notion of substantial gain seems fairly ambiguous.

A Blogger Shield (?)

The Free Flow of Information act to be voted on today.

Under H.R. 2102, online journalists for the first time would be afforded the same protection as their offline counterparts provided they are engaged in "gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public. ---Press Release News Wire

The Free Flow of Information act is a federal journalism shield law that protects journalists from being forced, by threat of jail, to reveal sources.

As you might expect the White House is unhappy about a law that would protect journalists and their sources. The WH thrives on secrecy, so it raises the ol’ national security bogeyman and talks veto.

Read the Baltimore Sun story:
White House recommends veto of 'shield law'

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Weekend Reading

I’ve been doing more reading than writing so I thought I’d pass some of it on.


In politics sincerity is everything…
… and once you’ve learned to fake that you’ve got it made.

Along those lines let me recommend an interesting and somewhat skeptical piece about Hillary in this morning’s Salon. According to Michael Scherer Hillary’s performance is as smooth as silk:

“President-in-waiting Hillary Clinton says she has come for a "conversation," a candid give-and-take, a sharing moment to connect the politician with the people while the television cameras roll. She sits with two New Hampshire voters, Kim Beauregard and 16-year-old daughter Ashley, on a stage under bright lights. Beauregard explains how hard it will be to pay for her daughter's college education.”

Clinton is shocked and surprised to learn that Beauregard might have to sell her house to send Ashley to college. Later she reports that she had tears in her eyes and her listeners come away impressed by her sincerity, concern, and competence

“In this context, the blatant artifice of her campaign shtick hardly registers for many voters, who brag afterward about having just shaken the hand of the next president of the United States. Who cares if Clinton's shock and emotion at the Beauregard story was planned and forced? Does it matter that Kim Beauregard volunteers at the Clinton campaign in Laconia, where Ashley works as an intern? So what if Clinton held a card laying out the details of the Beauregard story even as she expressed astonishment at the details? For the Clinton campaign, what matters is that the day's message came through: Hillary Clinton cares. And Hillary Clinton has a plan.”

To read the whole piece, click here.


Unhappy Days are Here Again?

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect. On October 2 Kuttner testified before the House Financial Services Committee. His testimony, under the title 1929 Redux: Heading for a Crash, was posted at

We’ve all been reading about the sub-prime mortgage debacle, but there has been very little coverage of the slow erosion of investor protections that made it possible. Kuttner’s article is an excellent primer on the history of the control of the investment, banking and financial services business that followed the collapse of 1929. It is an excellent analysis of the attack on those controls, and an explanation of what is called the ‘securitizing of debt’

You don’t have to be an economist to understand the Glass-Steagal act or the fine American tradition of watering stock. Kuttner’s explanation of all this was so simple even a Congressman could get it. This is information every political activist should have in hand. This article is fairly long. You may want to print it out. Click here.


The Sliming of Graeme Frost

Thanks to the New York Times’ new policy of open access we can read the columns of Paul Krugman for free. Krugman’s most recent column began thus:

“Two weeks ago, the Democratic response to President Bush’s weekly radio address was delivered by a 12-year-old, Graeme Frost. Graeme, who along with his sister received severe brain injuries in a 2004 car crash and continues to need physical therapy, is a beneficiary of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Mr. Bush has vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have expanded that program to cover millions of children who would otherwise have been uninsured.”

What followed was the conservative sliming of Graeme Frost.Krugman nails those responsible for this despicable attack. Click here

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Patient Information

Normally, when my doctor prescribes some nostrum, I simply buy it and take it. I never pay any attention to the patient information document, which is usually a narrow strip of paper printed in tiny type designed to discourage any actual reading. Take my advice and remain discouraged.

I’ve been prescribed a medicine to help with a minor breathing problem, nothing life threatening and not even particularly inconvenient. Because I’m already taking so many pills that I rattle like a seed-filled gourd I thought I ought to check to make sure this new pill wasn’t going to go to war with the others. I would read the patient info sheet.

Bad decision. I found out I would run the risk of the following possible side effects: Stomach pain, stomach or intestinal upset, heartburn, tiredness, fever, stuffy nose, cough, flu, upper respiratory infection, dizziness, headache and rash. These were just the most common possible side effects.

I might also experience ‘less common’ side effects, among which were: agitation, including aggressive behavior, allergic reactions that might cause trouble breathing or swallowing, an increased tendency to bruise or bleed, depression, diarrhea, hallucinations, hepatitis, muscle aches and cramps, tremors, seizures or vomiting.

It looks like the cure might be worse than the disease. I think that maybe I’ll just risk panting a bit when I walk up stairs.

Strangest of all was this note:

“The side effects in patients treated with XXXX were similar in type and frequency to side effects in patients who were given a placebo (a pill containing no medicine).”

Think about it.

Oh, well, since swallowing was all that was common to the two groups I guess I’ll simply avoid swallowing small non-food objects.