Monday, July 31, 2006
Hat tip Catallarchy.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Thank God he's not President.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
In a windowless lab tucked inside International Business Machines Corp.'s Almaden Research Center south of San Jose, California, a scanning tunneling microscope stretches almost to the ceiling, dwarfing Andreas Heinrich.
Amid the snaking wires and the cut AriZona iced tea can that insulates a protruding pipe, Heinrich is viewing a particle thousands of times tinier than the width of a human hair.
"This is about looking at the properties of a single atom,'' says Heinrich, wearing a T-shirt, jeans and slip-on shoes. "We're starting with the smallest components and building upward.''
Heinrich is experimenting with ways to create semiconductors and data storage devices. Venture capitalists, lured by potential breakthroughs in electronics, medicine and textiles, are heading to the labs in search of inventions based on nanotechnology, the study and manipulation of particles smaller than 100 nanometers. A single nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter.
After decades of hype and false starts, the National Science Foundation forecasts that $1 trillion worth of nanotechnology- enabled products will be on the market by
2015. This year, corporations and governments will spend more than $11 billion on nanotechnology research, according to Cientifica, a London-based consulting firm.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Still, I think publishing the original manuscript in a scroll format is a bad idea. People who are book averse won't pick it up. Besides, how can you dog-ear a scroll? A strange way to make bookmarks obsolete.
LOWELL, Mass. --Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" will be published in its unedited original scroll version by Viking Press, the original publisher of the Beat Generation classic in September 1957.
John Sampas, the executor the writer's literary estate and the brother of Stella Sampas, Kerouac's third wife, said he signed a contract Sunday with the New York-based Viking/Penguin, and hopes the work will be out by the end of next year, the 50th anniversary of the publication.
"Incidents in the original were edited out of the published version because of the censorship of the time," said Sampas, who noted that some of the edited sections refer to drugs and sex. "On the scroll, entire paragraphs are crossed out and not included in the published version."
Sampras said the upcoming version will be in book form, but taken from the original scroll as Kerouac wrote it. Any sections Kerouac had crossed out before turning it into the publisher likewise will be excluded in the new edition.
The original, 120-foot, coffee-stained scroll that is yellowing with age was purchased in 2001 by James Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League for $2.43 million.
The original scroll is making it way around the country, with stops in select museums and libraries. It arrives in Lowell next June, to be on exhibit for three months at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, part of a "Summer of Kerouac" in the city, celebrating the Lowell-born writer's life. He died at age 47 in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1969
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
NOBEL peace laureate Betty Williams displayed a flash of her feisty Irish spirit
yesterday, lashing out at US President George W.Bush during a speech to hundreds
Campaigning on the rights of young people at the Earth Dialogues forum, being held in Brisbane, Ms Williams spoke passionately about the deaths of innocent children during wartime, particularly in the Middle East, and lambasted Mr Bush.
"I have a very hard time with this word 'non-violence', because I don't believe that I am non-violent," said Ms Williams, 64.
"Right now, I would love to kill George Bush." Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered.
"I don't know how I ever got a Nobel Peace Prize, because when I see children die the anger in me is just beyond belief. It's our duty as human beings, whatever age we are, to become the protectors of human life."
Ms Williams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 30 years ago, when she circulated a petition to end violence in Northern Ireland after witnessing British soldiers shoot dead an IRA member who was driving a car. He veered on to the footpath, killing two children from one family instantly and fatally injuring a third.
Shame on you Ms. Williams! Shame on you! Shame on the children who clapped. Is this how we teach peace today?
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Hat tip to Instapundit.
Meanwhile, the eminent William F. Buckley reiterates his growing opposition to the neocon project in Iraq.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Is immigration, I asked--especially illegal immigration--good for the economy,
or bad? "It's neither one nor the other," Mr. Friedman replied. "But it's good
for freedom. In principle, you ought to have completely open immigration. But
with the welfare state it's really not possible to do that. . . . She's an immigrant," he added, pointing to his wife. "She came in just before World War I." (Rose--smiling gently: "I was two years old.") "If there were no welfare state," he continued, "you could have open immigration, because everybody would be responsible for himself." Was he suggesting that one can't have immigration reform without welfare reform? "No, you can have immigration reform, but you can't have open immigration without largely the elimination of welfare.
"At the moment I oppose unlimited immigration. I think much of the opposition to
immigration is of that kind--because it's a fundamental tenet of the American
view that immigration is good, that there would be no United States if there had
not been immigration. Of course, there are many things that are easier now for
immigrants than there used to be. . . ."
Did he mean there was much less pressure to integrate now than there used to be? Milton: "I'm not sure that's true . . ." Rose (speaking simultaneously): "That's the unfortunate thing . . ."
Milton: "But I don't think it's true . . ." Rose: "Oh, I think it is! That's one of the problems, when immigrants come across and want to remain Mexican."
Milton: "Oh, but they came in the past and wanted to be Italian, and be Jewish .
. ." Rose: "No they didn't. The ones that did went back."
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Ms. Eagan at the Herald scrapes a little bark off the former Governor who really should know better.
Contrast that [the diginity of the Del Valle family] to the I-know-better blame game played this week by former Gov. Michael Dukakis who - another irony - heads a new Democratic group to monitor negative political attacks. Yet his Big Dig criticism has been a nonstop negative political attack on Romney/Healey and all Republicans. Worse, the man who ran for president full time while remaining our governor - that?s Dukakis - nonetheless blasted Romney for remaining governor when he?s yet to declare his candidacy.
The late Sonny McDonough once suggested that Dukakis ferry over to Harvard to teach prospects on how best to lose elections.
We think the Governor has extended his syllabus. We gather that rank hypocrisy is a perennnial lesson the former Governor teaches his students over at Northeastern.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The Bush administration has rightly refrained from criticizing the region's only democracy, Israel, for its forceful response to a thousand rockets fired at its population. U.S. reticence is seemly, considering that terrorism has been Israel's torment for decades, and that America responded to two hours of terrorism one September morning by toppling two regimes halfway around the world
with wars that show no signs of ending.
The administration, justly criticized for its Iraq premises and their execution, is suddenly receiving some criticism so untethered from reality as to defy caricature. The national, ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque to most people, but to The Weekly Standard - voice of a spectacularly misnamed radicalism,
neoconservativism" - everything is crystal clear: Iran is the key to everything.
Dean Barnett will have none of it, however.
Dean claims he is a "left of center" Goldwater conservative. Trust me John Dean is not a Goldwater conservative.
Dean, who's reinvented himself too many times to count, has now come up with a very popular meme that echoes the conservatism-as-mental-illness idea, but with a new twist -- the word "authoritarian" doesn't distinguish between conservatism and mental illness! It's a Marxist term which conflates the political and the personal into one grand evil.
A marvelous label. And a very impressive one. A masterpiece, even. While there are definitions, they really don't matter. What matters is that if you disagree with someone who believes in this nonsense, you're subject to being called an authoritarian outright, or accused of having "authoritarian tendencies" if there's still hope for you.
So, after almost three years and an exhaustive investigation by a fairly serious and renowned prosecutor involving the jailing of a distinguished reporter, it has been concluded that there was never any breach of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act to begin with. One official at the White House has allegedly been caught in a secondary or even tertiary conflict of evidence. And the hapless Wilsons have been obliged to file their own civil suit, as if the "discovery" it might afford will surpass what Fitzgerald, armed with a quiver of subpoenas and waivers, has been able to accomplish. Meanwhile, the evidence continues to mount (see my Slate columns on the Zahawie case: here, here, and here) that the original British intelligence on the Niger connection was genuine, and that Wilson missed it. And I have some more material on that, which I shall be sharing with you soon.
NEW YORK (AP) - The most high-profile blogs may be about news, politics or technology, but the vast majority of Web journals are more personal in nature, a survey found.
"My life and experiences" was cited as the primary focus by 37 percent of U.S. bloggers, with politics and government a distant second at 11 percent, according to the study issued Wednesday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
Mystery Pollster has more here.
Hat tip to Instapundit.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
BOSTON (Reuters) - Boston's $15 billion "Big Dig" was meant to inspire awe, an engineering marvel on scale with the Panama Canal that would thrust U.S. cities into a new era. Instead, it faces a crisis of public confidence after a fatal tunnel collapse that could derail plans for other U.S. urban mega-projects.
With 7.5 miles of underground highway and a 183-foot (56 meter) wide cable-stayed bridge, the Big Dig replaced an ailing elevated expressway to fix chronic congestion and reunite downtown Boston with its historic waterfront neighborhoods.
But cost overruns, leaks, delays, falling debris, criminal probes and charges of corruption plague the nearly completed 15-year project, giving ammunition to opponents of similar plans in other cities considering tearing down aging elevated highways built in a construction boom in the 1950s and 1960s.
Now, with motorists afraid to travel through Big Dig after a woman was killed last week by falling cement, those skeptics have their most persuasive case yet.
"When things leak and certainly when things fall down that aren't suppose to, clearly that undermines people's confidence in government's ability to deliver," said David Luberoff, a Harvard researcher and co-author of "Mega-Projects: The Changing Politics of Urban Public Investment."
Seattle, he said, will struggle to convince voters that replacing the earthquake-damaged Alaska Way Viaduct on its waterfront with a $3 billion to $3.6 billion tunnel is worth the cost. Brooklyn, whose waterfront could be transformed if an elevated expressway were buried, faces a similar problem.
"The risks of building an urban tunnel are huge," said Cary Moon, a director at People's Waterfront Coalition, a Seattle-based organization that wants to prevent construction of a new highway on Seattle's waterfront.
"Given the very limited use our highways have relative to highways in Boston, it's just preposterous to think taking that risk and expense is necessary," he said.
Marianne Bichsel, a spokeswoman for Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, an advocate for building a tunnel, chafes at comparisons between Seattle's tunnel proposal and the Big Dig.
"It's a straightforward tunnel project. We are also not under any structures like there were in Boston," she said.
Luberoff doubts the Big Dig would have been built at all if the full costs were known at the start, and he reckons few U.S. cities will attempt such a grand project after Boston.
Burying the highway was originally estimated to cost $360 million in the 1970s. That ballooned to $2.5 billion in the 1980s, or $4 billion in today's dollars when factoring in inflation -- meaning the real costs quadrupled.
"The project has been like a nightmare," said former state Inspector General Robert Cerasoli, whose December 1998 report found widespread safety flaws in the project's Ted Williams Tunnel similar to those suspected in last week's collapse.
"Those problems are still sitting there," he said.
Still, many Bostonians praise the Big Dig while grumbling about its execution. About 260 acres of new parks, trees and sidewalks have been freed by it. The drive through Boston is faster than ever. Tourism has been given a boost.
"Every city would love to do it and almost every city could make a case for it," said Dan McNichol, author of "The Roads that Built America."
McNichol said other cities that could benefit from a Big Dig-style underground highway system include Philadelphia, where an elevated section of Interstate 95 divides the city from the Delaware River, and St. Louis, where Interstate 70 runs along the Mississippi River.
(Additional reporting by Daisuke Wakabayashi in Seattle)
Monday, July 17, 2006
An alliance of nearly a hundred of the nation's wealthiest donors is roiling Democratic political circles, directing more than $50 million in the past nine months to liberal think tanks and advocacy groups in what organizers say is the first installment of a long-term campaign to compete more aggressively against conservatives.
A year after its founding, Democracy Alliance has followed up on its pledge to become a major power in the liberal movement. It has lavished millions on groups that have been willing to submit to its extensive screening process and its demands for secrecy.
These include the Center for American Progress, a think tank with an unabashed partisan edge, as well as Media Matters for America, which tracks what it sees as conservative bias in the news media. Several alliance donors are negotiating a major
investment in Air America, a liberal talk-radio network.
But the large checks and demanding style wielded by Democracy Alliance organizers in recent months have caused unease among Washington's community of Democratic-linked organizations. The alliance has required organizations that receive its endorsement to sign agreements shielding the identity of donors. Public interest groups said the alliance represents a large source of undisclosed and
unaccountable political influence.
Democracy Alliance also has left some Washington political activists concerned about what they perceive as a distinctly liberal tilt to the group's funding decisions. Some activists said they worry that the alliance's new clout may lead to groups with a more centrist ideology becoming starved for resources.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
WASHINGTON, July 14 ? The Education Department reported on Friday that children in public schools generally performed as well or better in reading and mathematics than comparable children in private schools. The exception was inWell if the reports are of "modest utility" then why is the Times spinning the performance equity side of the report? Could it be because they favor the teachers unions? Here's more:
eighth-grade reading, where the private school counterparts fared better.
The report, which compared fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores
in 2003 from nearly 7,000 public schools and more than 530 private schools, also
found that conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind public schools on eighth-grade math.
The study, carrying the imprimatur of the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Education Department, was contracted to the Educational Testing Service and delivered to the department last year.
It went through a lengthy peer review and includes an extended section of caveats about its limitations and calling such a comparison of public and private schools ?of modest utility.?
Arnold Goldstein of the National Center for Education Statistics said that the review was meticulous, but that it was not unusual for the center.
Mr. Goldstein said there was no political pressure to alter the findings.
Students in private schools typically score higher than those in public schools, a finding confirmed in the study. The report then dug deeper to compare students of like racial, economic and social backgrounds. When it did that, the private school advantage disappeared in all areas except eighth-grade reading.
One can argue that public and private schools do a comprable job in the early years and that for some undefined reason, private schools take off during the middle grades. I venture to say that parental involvement has much to do with the difference.
Related Full Report (pdf).
Thursday, July 13, 2006
For those outside the Beltway who haven't been paying attention with the same diligence as those inside it, Wilson is a former minor ambassador who got sent to Africa to determine the accuracy of American and British claims that Saddam Hussein was buying uranium for weapons of mass destruction, a major justification for the invasion of Iraq. Wilson reported the allegations unsupported, angering the administration from Bush down, and setting off a furor about who sent him to Africa. In an apparent effort to refute his report, it was disclosed to the press that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and may have had a hand in his assignment.
The question then became whether an obscure never used law making it a crime to reveal the identity of a covert intelligence operative had been violated. Fitzgerald was appointed and determined fairly quickly that there was no evidence to support a prosecution on that charge. However, he seemed determined to prove that administration officials had lied to his investigators and a grand jury about their press contacts. He ultimately charged Libby with obstruction of justice and perjury. Since then it has been discovered that any number of reporters knew about Plame's position in the CIA and had talked about it.
During all this much-ado-about-nothing, a reporter was sent to jail for refusing to reveal the source of a story she never wrote; the First Amendment rights of the press have been trampled, the reputations of any number of officials have been damaged; the public has been socked for millions of dollars with more to go; the life of a dedicated public servant, Libby, has been forever altered and, of course, Wilson and his wife have become social celebrities.
All in all this has been another prime example of how zealous special prosecutors since Watergate have dipped into the treasury to carry out prolonged, politically tainted investigations of matters of dubious importance. This case never has been about a threat to national security, or even the life of an intelligence agent.
Early in the investigation, Wilson met at breakfast with a group of reporters and made it clear that he felt there was a major conspiracy at the highest level of government that blew his wife's cover and attempted to defame him _ a claim that emphasized the importance of his mission to Africa and his role in debunking the premise on which the Iraq war was launched. He later just happened to go to work for a time for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign.
In consolation for their dashed hopes, Democrats and others who regard Rove as an evil presence in the White House _ after all he got that dastardly Bush elected twice _ can take solace in their belief that his credibility has been severely compromised, having denied early on through the press office that he had anything whatsoever to do with talking to reporters about Plame. He in fact had. He should apologize to then-White House press secretary Scott McClellan, they argue.
Some wag even suggested that Rove's detractors wouldn't be satisfied until he went before the cameras to make that apology in a frog suit. Perhaps that honor should go to Wilson, also. Maybe Fitzgerald should join them.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Ryan Sager has a new book coming out. His thesis, as I read it is the following: The interior Western states may be the next battleground for Repubilcans even though they hold most of the Congressional seats there. Why? Because Sager suggests that the exodus of "blue" voters from California will transform not only states like Colorado and Arizona but Idaho and Montana. These interior Western transplants (which mostly went for Bush in 2004) have little in common with the Southern states that have dominated Republican politics since 1994.
This may be an opportunity for Democrats to create a wedge between libertarian and traditional conservatives, a development seized upon by Sager.
The interesting question is whether all this choice along The Long Tail is an unalloyed good. "I think it's a net positive, but there are definite tradeoffs," Anderson told me, when I called to ask him. "Do we lose something as a society if we have less in common? How do we define ourselves as Americans if we are not sharing the same culture impacts?"
He said we may lose some superficial ties to one another as the culture fragments, but that we gain deeper ties to smaller, virtual communities made possible by the Internet as we pursue own passions.
I think the explosion of choice has left us poorer in at least two arenas. The first is journalism. (Yes, as a Fortune writer, I've got a stake in the health of the mainstream media, which bloggers call the MSM.) The network evening newscasts, big-city newspapers and the national news magazines once had the money, access, skills, commitment and power to deliver lots of original reporting and put important issues on the national agenda. Today, they are all diminished.
To pick a single, timely, example, The Tribune Co. announced just the other day that its newspapers would be closing foreign bureaus in Johannesburg, Moscow, Lebanon and Pakistan. This is happening all over newspaperdom and it happened years ago at the broadcast networks.
Yes, there is more information available to us than ever, but I don't think we are better informed. Niche media will, inevitably, continue to weaken mass media.
Meanwhile, Instapundit has a podcast interview with Anderson.
For more on the idea see www.thelongtail.com.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
The "eighth wonder of the world," the Big Dig cost a woman her life today. Yet the Big Dig juggernaut and its troupe of cheerleaders appeared not to back the Governor's call to remove Matt Amorello, the controversial chairman of the Massachsuetts Turnpike Authority.
Update: The legislature cabal's faith in Amorello is "shaken." There's still a lot of sympathy. The Globe calls for Amorello to step down.
Meanwhile the latest is here.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Some wireless users sneak in their own food with their laptops. Others buy one cup of coffee at 9 a.m. and surf the Net until closing time. And the truly audacious sit for hours without making any pretense of a purchase.
In and around Boston, cafe owners who installed wireless signals to draw customers say they also are drawing Internet users who tie up seats for hours, buy little or nothing, and make coffee shops feel like the office as they tap away at their laptops. Now some owners are fighting back by charging for wireless access, shutting off their signal at peak business hours, or telling loitering laptoppers to shell out or ship out.
"There comes a time when you have to tell people, 'Look, you've been here for three hours, and you've bought only a cup of coffee and it's time to move,' " said Adam Goldberg , owner of Emack & Bolio's in Jamaica Plain. "We had points in time when people would sit for six or seven hours and not buy anything."
Goldberg, whose shop offers all-day free wireless, has tried to set time limits for customers to use the Internet. He has considered shutting off the signal during busy hours. Instead, he has chosen to keep a vigilant eye on the seating area and confront Internet idlers.
Will the owners get the upper hand? Or will government step in and require mandatory wi-fi with purchases?
Saturday, July 08, 2006
The leave us alone coalition is a good operating principle that liberals --no matter how hard they try -- cannot replicate.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
A provocative ad for a new Sony PSP is causing a little fuss on the Continent. Because of its nature you can't really say "It's just a game!" The issue of racial domination is conjured up by this exercise in "disruptive marketing." There's a lot to chew on judging from the imagery and yes it got my attention. But what about the race issues? I guess they're hard to tackle, if the main vehicle is a shil for a stupid, stupifying videogame. It's a cheap turn to use race to sell crap knowing that all sides can't handle the truth.
That said what really caught my eye and raised my blood pressure was this passage from the Guardian's coverage
Importantly perhaps, the ads are for the European release of the white PSP and are appearing on billboards in Amsterdam rather than in the US where racial tension remains a fraught issue.Leave it to an idiot writer from the reflexively anti-American Guardian to pen this foolishness. I make no excuses for America's race problem, but I'm glad to hear from the smug Guardians that Europe's solved its race problems in light of overbearing immigration, neo-nazi agigtation, failed assimilation and a few nights of Paris burning to vent about those awful unemployment rates. All with good social democratic flair.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
They may not be making a lot of babies in Italy but there are certainly still making great soccer teams. The Germans suffer the indignity of their first loss in Dortmund. Ouch! Italy brilliantly 2-0 in overtime. Defense does win games.
Italian defenders seemed to materialize from nowhere to block shots and clear other balls when the Germans pressed the attack. Even in the air, where Germany had a decided height edge, Italy more than held its own.
Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro was everywhere in the first half. His sliding clearance of a loose ball in the box in the 15th minute came with three Germans pursuing the ball, and he did it again to Podolski in prime scoring range moments later.
Still, Germany got its opportunities. Podolski shot over the net from the 18 meters (yards) and Bernd Schneider, alone on the right side from 12 meters (yards), barely put one over the crossbar.
Bring on the victor of the France-Portgual match. No matter the opponent, I trust the final next Sunday will be a great game.
Mr. Lieberman's troubles also reflect the force of the evolving antiwar movement. His support for the Bush administration's Iraq policy initially galvanized the opposition of left-leaning Internet habitués, focusing national attention on Mr. Lamont as a viable antiwar alternative to the senator.
A flood of money then poured in to the Lamont campaign, both from grassroots
donors and from big-money backers like George Soros and Barbra Streisand, allowing him to mount a vigorous advertising
"We think it's outrageous that Lieberman would hold himself above the democratic process with a small 'd,' " Eli Pariser, executive director of the liberal group MoveOn.org, which is backing Mr. Lamont, said in an interview yesterday. His group reported raising $267,000 for Mr. Lamont last week.
Democratic antipathy toward Mr. Lieberman is nothing new; his support for both Persian Gulf wars, free trade, and religion in public life has long made him suspect among some liberals, and he has clashed with teachers' unions in his support for limited experiments with school vouchers.
Yet with Iraq a dominant issue this summer, Republican leaders could not be happier to see a Democratic incumbent, even a sometime ally of theirs, hoisted on that one issue. Nothing would delight Republicans more than having Lieberman and Lamont candidacies split the Democratic vote this fall and possibly help Republicans cement their control of the Senate ? although polls show the Republican candidate for the Connecticut seat, Alan Schlesinger, far behind.
Markos Moulitsas, the founder of a widely read blog, the Daily Kos, and a supporter of Mr. Lamont's, cut to the chase in a posting yesterday about which of the two Democrats would draw support from the national party this fall.
"An interesting kind of 'Democrat,' Lieberman thinks he is," he wrote. "One who doesn't respect the wishes of his state's Democratic voters, one who will split his state's vote on the left and potentially hand the election to a Republican."
Monday, July 03, 2006
Ms. Hirsi Ali became partly the victim of her own success. Exaggerated fears of colonization by Islam have lent great support to Ms. Verdonk's tough stance and literalist reading of Dutch immigration law. What goes for an anonymous asylum seeker should also go for a celebrity politician.
And Ms. Hirsi Ali's tough secularism, partly modeled on French republicanism, alienated the more conservative faction within her own liberal party.
More generally, Ms. Hirsi Ali lost the support of a part of Dutch public opinion. Some even said they would not regret her departure. Even though most of them agree with her views on Islam, they seemed to grow wary of their constant repetition and of the media attention lavished on her. The murder of Theo van Gogh -- a film director who was shot and stabbed by a radical Muslim for collaborating with Ms. Hirsi Ali on "Submission," a movie about Islam's treatment of women -- convinced many Dutchmen that she created more problems than she had solved.
Ms. Hirsi Ali has always been more popular among intellectuals than with ordinary Dutchmen. Reports and pictures of her dining with high society in Washington and New York met with a populist backlash against her. "Act normal" is still very much a feature of Dutch self-image, even if Holland is in fact the most liberal country in Western Europe, sometimes extravagantly so.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
EL CAMPO, Tex. -- Even though Donald R. Matthews put his sprawling new residence in the heart of rice country, he is no farmer. He is a 67-year-old asphalt contractor who wanted to build a dream house for his wife of 40 years.Read on and weep.
Yet under a federal agriculture program approved by Congress, his 18-acre suburban lot receives about $1,300 in annual "direct payments," because years ago the land was used to grow rice.
Matthews is not alone. Nationwide, the federal government has paid at least $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all, according to an analysis of government records by The Washington Post.
Some of them collect hundreds of thousands of dollars without planting a seed. Mary Anna Hudson, 87, from the River Oaks neighborhood in Houston, has received $191,000 over the past decade.
For Houston surgeon Jimmy Frank Howell, the total was $490,709. "I don't agree with the government's policy," said Matthews, who wanted to give the money back but was told it would just go to other landowners. "They give all of this money to landowners who don't even farm, while real farmers can't afford to get started. It's wrong."
The checks to Matthews and other landowners were intended 10 years ago as a first step toward eventually eliminating costly, decades-old farm subsidies. Instead, the payments have grown into an even larger subsidy that benefits millionaire landowners, foreign speculators and absentee landlords, as well as farmers.
Most of the money goes to real farmers who grow crops on their land, but they are under no obligation to grow the crop being subsidized. They can switch to a different crop or raise cattle or even grow a stand of timber -- and still get the government payments. The cash comes with so few restrictions that subdivision developers who buy farmland advertise that homeowners can collect farm subsidies on their new back yards.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
However if they rely on a strict defintion of blind drunk, I can think of only one haymaker that will do the nasty trick: moonshine. I speak from experience on the ilicit brew but rest assured that I remained in the confines of my home --keeping my indiscretion at bay.
Study: Even one drink can be dangerous
SEATTLE, June 30 (UPI) -- A University of Washington study warns that even a single strong drink can make a person "blind drunk" and impair the drinker's driving abilities.
The study, appearing in Friday's issue of the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, found that those who were mildly intoxicated -- which is half the legal intoxication limit -- were heavily compromised in their ability to notice an unexpected visual object while being focused on another simple task.
It has been known that the so-called "inattentional blindness" phenomenon causes salient objects appearing in the visual field to go undetected. But the current study seeks to show these visual errors become even more likely under the influence of alcohol.
The research did not directly test driving aptitude but noted implications for driving could be serious.
"We rely on our ability to perceive a multitude of information when we drive (speed limit, road signs, other cars)," said Seema Clifasefi, the study's lead author. "If even a mild dose of alcohol compromises our ability to take in some of this information ...then it seems likely that our driving ability may also be compromised."
Please drink responsibly.