The smartest person in Texas, Molly Ivins, died yesterday at age 62. She knew Dubya better than he did. She will be missed.
If there was one thing Molly wanted us to understand, it's that the world of politics is absurd. Since we can't cry, we might as well laugh. And in case we ever forgot, Molly would remind us, several times a week, in her own unique style.
[T]here was more to Molly Ivins than insightful political commentary packaged in an aw-shucks Southern charm. In the coming days, much will be made of Molly's contributions to the liberal cause, how important she was as an authentic female voice on opinion pages across the country, her passionate and eloquent defense of the poorest and the weakest among us against the corruption of the most powerful, and the joy she took in celebrating the uniqueness of American culture—and all of this is true. But more than that, Molly Ivins was a woman who loved and cared deeply for the world around her. And her warm and generous spirit was apparent in all her words and deeds.
The President (for no more than 721 days and 13 hours more) signed an executive order that puts a political office in each executive department for the purpose of clearing what the department publishes. In other words, factual reports generated by the government will have to go through a political hack for approval before publication, instead of just being published by the generally apolitical civil service as they are today:
In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.
Now for the laugh line:
In an interview on Monday, Jeffrey A. Rosen, general counsel at the White House Office of Management and Budget, said, "This is a classic good-government measure that will make federal agencies more open and accountable."
Let's not forget, the Administration wants to reduce the credibility of government. This may be a good way to do just that.
I apologize for the TDP hiatus, but we had a lot going on over the past week, not least of which was moving. Even though the new place is within 1500 m (0.9 mi) of the old place, Parker has still exhibited a lot of anxiety: whining, pawing, going from peacefully gnawing on a bully stick to running and barking. At least he didn't mark his territory.
When moving with a dog, it's important to make sure he has toys and other familiar items around. Parker has a towel, which he has tailored into a flattering garment:
Once we get settled in I'll resume daily Parker photos. Bear with me for a couple of weeks.
Via Talking Points Memo, this reminder that on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog...but they do know what terminal you're using:
In late August, someone with an IP address that originated from the National Institutes of Health drastically edited the Wikipedia entry for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which operates within NIH. Wikipedia determined the edit to be vandalism and automatically changed the definition back to the original. On Sept. 18, the NIH vandal returned, according to a history of the site's edits posted by Wikipedia. This time, the definition was gradually changed, presumably to avoid the vandalism detector.
People forget about this quite a bit. On the Internet, your browser must send a request to a Web server to get a Web page. In order for the Web server to respond, it has to know where to send the page; ergo, every time you hit a Web site, you tell that site who you are. Wikipedia uses this simple fact to help determine the value of contributions. In this case, it worked perfectly.
Security expert Bruce Schneier finds some cases of appropriate and helpful security theater:
Security is both a reality and a feeling. The reality of security is mathematical, based on the probability of different risks and the effectiveness of different countermeasures. We know the infant abduction rates and how well the bracelets reduce those rates. We also know the cost of the bracelets, and can thus calculate whether they're a cost-effective security measure or not. But security is also a feeling, based on individual psychological reactions to both the risks and the countermeasures. And the two things are different: You can be secure even though you don't feel secure, and you can feel secure even though you're not really secure.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association reports that an enormous block of airspace around Washington is off-limits to general aviation tonight because of the State of the Union Address:
During the president's speech to Congress and the nation, no flights are allowed to or from any of the 21 airports within the Washington, D.C., ADIZ, including pattern work. The special ingress/egress procedures for the "DC-3" airports inside the Flight Restricted Zone are also suspended. Only IFR flights to and from Washington Dulles International (IAD) and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI) airports will be allowed.
This is what security expert Bruce Schneier calls "security theater."
From my mom:
Yeshiva University decided to field a rowing team. Unfortunately, they lose race after race. Even though they practice and practice for hours every day, they never manage to come in any better than dead last.
Finally, the team decides to send Morris Fishbein, its captain, to spy on Harvard, the perennial championship team. So Morris schlepps off to Cambridge and hides in the bushes next to the Charles River, where he carefully watches the Harvard team at its daily practices.
After a week, Morris returns to Yeshiva. "Well, I figured out their secret", he announces.
"What? Tell us! Tell us!", his teammates shout.
"We should have only one guy yelling. The other eight should row."
The Bears going to the Superbowl has caused a ripple effect through Chicago karma.
I first noticed it on the train this morning. Ordinarily, an express train picks up almost a full load of people at the stop right before mine, then whisks them to the Loop, allowing the local train that follows three minutes later to pick all of us up without making us sit on each others' laps. Today, the express train apparently followed the local train, so by the time the local got to me, we were sitting on each others' laps. (It's not as fun as it sounds, actually.)
Then, it turns out I am in total agreement with a well-written statement by—wait for it—Pam Anderson:
Anderson, a staunch animal-rights activist and a vocal member of PETA, has blasted KFC for its treatment of chickens and has been part of a long-standing campaign on behalf of the feathered critters. “Honoring a man whose legacy involves breaking animals’ bones and scalding animals to death in defeathering tanks is contrary to the values of most compassionate citizens, and I hope that you’ll deny KFC’s request,” Anderson wrote in a letter to Postmaster General John E. Potter. “How about another Elvis stamp instead?”
I hope the Postmaster General agrees as well.
I'll be looking for other karmic re-balancing today, which means I'll probably find it. And I'm wondering what will happen if the Bears win on February 4th?
When I took this photo, Parker weighed just over 10 kg (22 lbs):
He's grown since then, about another 10 kg worth, until last week. Apparently he's leveled off at 21 kg (46 lbs), which makes him a perfectly normal German Rat Beagle:
I thought he would get to 22.5 kg (50 lbs), but maybe not. Regardless, he's just the right size.