Thursday, September 22, 2005

Losing Faith in 'Good Faith'

A massage therapist's 'good faith' dealings with Porky's Rib House and a fertilizer salesman. Gloria Allred serves up the punchline.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Chilled Out

Regardless of dire warnings about global warming, Palo Alto, it would seem, is an island of global cooling. Over the last 15 years, average temperatures have declined .13 degrees annually. While this year's cool temperatures are obvious to any long time resident, the press only provides space to promoting the most speculative global warming stories.

Share Cropper

Reporting on the meager earnings for the Willie Nelson led musical charity called Farm Aid, the Chicago Tribune says;
"To compare, (Neil) Young has also been involved in putting on annual concerts for the Bridge School in Hillsborough, Calif., which helps individuals with severe speech and physical impairments. That concert in 2003 brought in $1,160,115, of which $76,040 was considered expenses and $1,084,075 was considered net income. Thus the Bridge School Benefit Concert spent approximately 6.5 percent of its money on expenses; Farm Aid spent 84 percent."
One of the objectives of Farm Aid is to provide financial advice to family farmers. By now, those wishing to aid family farmers should have been alerted to Mr. Nelson's unique ability to make money disappear. In 1990 the IRS billed Nelson $16.7 million in back taxes.

UPDATE: Neil Young remembers it differently.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Stupid White Tricks

"If you've ever wandered past a New Age healing seminar, a UFO convention, or a blocks-long line for a Steve Jobs speech, you understand how embarrassing it can sometimes be to identify as a Northern California, middle-class white person. Last week in San Francisco it was mortifying."


Here's why they call it the Times Picayune.
"Some critics have questioned if the government knows what it is doing dispensing so much money so quickly - and especially whether the small and beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will administer much of the aid and reconstruction contracts, has the resources to handle so much cash."
After complaining about the slow response to the Hurricane flooding by the federal government, they now suggest that government slow down to allow them to carefully consider how to spend money for recovery. These people are nuts.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Listening to and reading about the hearings over Supreme Court nominee John Roberts can be maddening and amusing. Senators who already know how they'll be voting prior to the Judicial Sub-Committee hearings, willfully leave the impression that they're carefully weighing Judge Roberts' answers. Everyone knows that Republicans and Democrats have made up their minds. Democrats have already signalled their opposition and now must search Roberts' answers for the rationale.

For his part, Roberts has sized up his opposition and carefully crafts his responses in order provide little reason for them to articulate their desent. This was the game set in motion following the rejection of Robert Bork for the Supreme Court. Since Republicans have the necessary votes, only by making impolitic statements can Roberts prevent the inevitable. Naturally, the answers are unsatisfactory--they're only meant to get him the job.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," said Feinstein, who said his testimony showed "this very cautious, very precise man, young, obviously with staying power. ... I'm convinced you will be there, God willing, for 40 years. And that even concerns me more because it means that my vote means more."
The senior senator from California, Diane Feinstein, would like the public to believe two absurd thoughts. The first is that she doesn't know how she'll vote. The second is that it matters.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

More of the Same

The San Franciso Chronicle would like readers to believe that the Bush administration is attempting to deny viewers the right to see dead bodies in New Orleans and is using a comment by one soldier to make the case. Under a photo in the San Francisco Chronicle (website) of a body being removed from a New Orleans house is this caption:
"This photo shows a FEMA contractor removing a body from a New Orleans home, but, despite a court order, reporters are still being told "no photos, no stories" about the body recovery process or they'll be thrown out of the state."
Ask any working photographer whether they've been told not to take pictures in public situations and you'll find out how common this is. For whatever reason, uninformed individuals think they have the right to prevent photos from being taken. It didn't start with hurricane Katrina and it doesn't come from Bush. You'd think the Chronicle would be aware of this and factor it into the story. After all, didn't they write the story and publish the photos. You'd think that would put an end to it. Unfortuately, that's not helpful to their world view.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Media Logic

For some members of the fifth estate hurricane Katrina has whipped up a couple of hard to reconcile themes. On the one hand the war in Iraq was said to deplete the number of troops available to respond to the crisis. On the other hand racism was said to account for a lack of interest in saving a largely black New Orleans population from the ensuing flood. The casual observer may buy either of these claims--I'll buy neither. Nevertheless, both can't be true. Either the troops were available but not ordered to enter the city, or troops were not available regardless of motivation. Media outlets promoting both theories are suffering from depleted ranks of logical thinkers.

Incidently, there is no shortage of bizarre claims. Here's one new to me.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Compassion Tax

I don't know who determines the precise nature of compassion, but Tom Friedman seems to know. This column, referring to President Bush, has the following;
"Unfortunately, he used that mandate not simply to confront the terrorists but to take a radically uncompassionate conservative agenda - on taxes, stem cells, the environment and foreign treaties."

What struck me was equating higher taxes with compassion. Mr. Friedman has spoken out about raising gasoline to $4 a gallon through taxes. Judging from the reaction to $3 gas, I'd say that Friedman's compassion isn't universally shared.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Twice Told Tales

In the follow up to the tragic effect of hurricane Katrina much of the press has been serving their noble duty of showing the world what is going on. These dramatic reports have caused the nation to seek ways to help in large and small ways. They've also called the nation's emergency response system to account for delays in answering the call.

Along with this responsible journalism we are treated increasingly to what one blogger calls America's 'armchair first responders'. Those are the reporters who's contribution is in finding and assigning blame.

The default position in most newspapers is that racial relations in the country have changed little in the last 50 years. So anyone claiming nefarious motives is given instant respectability. One of the current messages being diseminated is that a large black population was left adrift in New Orleans because of racist attitudes. Because someone is poor and black it's always assumed that they're victims of opression. Seldom are we asked to consider the inverse--that their poverty is the result of individual behavior.

Mayor Ray Nagin is himself black. Although he pleaded with citizens to leave, he too is playing the blame game in order to deflect criticism about his performance. New Orleans could have deployed an idled fleet of city school buses to remove people from the city. Instead he points elsewhere. Sending people to shelter in the Superdome seemed like a good idea at the time. In retrospect it was a disaster. So what does he do? Blames people who didn't make his decision.

Concurrently with levee breaks came the acusations that this was the inevitable result of decisions by Congress and the president to cut levee enhancement projects. Responsible news accounts said that these projects would not have been completed nor would they have made much difference in a category 4 hurricane. Irresponsible media let the lie stand.

Responsible media challenged the notion that global warming has had any effect on hurricane frequency. Irresponsible media let the notion take hold, even going so far as to suggest that signing the Kyoto Protocols equated with an instant solution to warming. Were that the case Bush's recent agreements with China and India to affect potential human contributions to warming surely would have ameliorated such storms.