Paul Krugman (sub.req.) confronts the wingers who try to divert rational thought by crying "conspiracy theory:"
A conspiracy theory, says Wikipedia, "attempts to explain the cause of an event as a secret, and often deceptive, plot by a covert alliance." Claims that global warming is a hoax and that the liberal media are suppressing the good news from Iraq meet that definition. In each case, to accept the claim you have to believe that people working for many different organizations—scientists at universities and research facilities around the world, reporters for dozens of different news organizations—are secretly coordinating their actions.
But the administration officials who told us that Saddam had an active nuclear program and insinuated that he was responsible for 9/11 weren't part of a covert alliance; they all worked for President Bush. The claim that these officials hyped the case for war isn't a conspiracy theory; it's simply an assertion that people in a position of power abused that position. And that assertion only seems wildly implausible if you take it as axiomatic that Mr. Bush and those around him wouldn't do such a thing.
I can imagine Limbaugh looking thoughtful for a moment before saying: "Thanks, Paul! That sure clears things up!" But I have a very vivid imagination.
I'm still getting to know the Canon 20D that Anne gave me last month. I've introduced it to my (15-year-old) 80-200 zoom that hitherto has hung out with my old EOS Rebel film camera. Because the image sensor on the 20D has only 63% of the area as a pane of 35mm film, lens lengths are extended 1.6x, making the lens, in effect, a 128-320 zoom. Combine that with bright daylight and selectable ISO speeds, and you get 1/3200 shutter at f/5.6, which eliminates camera shake:
Sadly, after carefully examining the raw version of this photo and the lens I used to take it, I have discovered that the 20D forgives absolutely nothing. Here's a detail of the original without any processing (though at higher compression than raw). Notice the subtle blue shimmer along the branch edges, and the general lack of focus? I believe those are lens artifacts. Given the dust visible inside the lens (in the sealed parts where cleaning is impossible without dismantling it), and the aging of the visible lens surfaces, I think it's time for a new long lens.
Rocky Raccoon checked into a room. Here's the AP story:
Raccoon found atop Loop skyscraper
A wayward raccoon has been living on top of a 43-story building in Chicago's Loop.
A construction manager didn't believe it at first when a worker reported seeing the raccoon on the 36th floor of the Kluczynski Federal Building, but a cell-phone photo provided proof. The critter was climbing scaffolding at the building, where the facade is being restored.
Construction boss Tony Slavic used tuna to bait a humane trap on the roof and eventually captured the raccoon. On Tuesday, he released it into a forest preserve in suburban Chicago.
Central Intelligence Agency chief Porter Goss has abruptly resigned his post. His office swears this has nothing at all to do with the hookers-and-parties scandal inching ever closer to him.
Says Josh Marshall:
We don't know definitely why Goss pulled the plug yet. But the CIA Director doesn't march over to the White House and resign, effective immediately, unless something very big is up.
I'll be watching this story.
Security expert Bruce Schneier has a good article today about threats to your computer (hint: Sony is one):
There are all sorts of interests vying for control of your computer. There are media companies that want to control what you can do with the music and videos they sell you. There are companies that use software as a conduit to collect marketing information, deliver advertising or do whatever it is their real owners require. And there are software companies that are trying to make money by pleasing not only their customers, but other companies they ally themselves with. All these companies want to own your computer.
This essay originally appeared on Wired.com.
NHPR reported this morning that today is Moose Appreciation Day in New Hampshire. The event has outraged squirrels, who encounter cars far more often than moose with significantly worse results.
Very funny: How To Write Unmaintainable Code: Ensure a job for life, by Roedy Green.
Very helpful, even in C#: Tips for maintainable Java code, by Rolf Howarth.
Spend an hour reading them, then send them to your teams.
The New York Times editorial page today reminded everyone who values the Internet to call their representatives in Congress and demand continued net neutrality:
One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access, and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.
And over on Huffington, Adam Green has some things to say about Mike McCurry's activities helping the big telcos:
Mike McCurry knows that the free and open Internet most Americans think is the "status quo" is actually GONE in 3 months. So it's more than a little bit deceptive when McCurry asks, "What service is being degraded? What is not right with the Internet that you are trying to cure?" McCurry is implying the exact opposite of what he knows to be true.That's a lie, and it's a genuinely sad sight for those who once admired him.
It's possible that, in three months, not only will Iraq be shattered, but also the Internet. Then Iran? Maybe India? Anyone for Indiana? Why does the Administration (993 days, 21 hours) hate things that start with "I?"