Bald Eagle Picture

1.11.2003

11:02 PM
Brock Yates has little faith in future cars powered by fuel cells.

Perhaps the economy of scale will produce a potential, affordable fuel-cell by 2020. So, too, may science cure cancer and the common cold, develop cold fusion and an efficient, quiet, super-sonic transport, atomic energy, perpetual motion, monorails, and cheap desalinization. But my bet is, the Honda FCX theatrics notwithstanding, the automobile fuel cell will be a member of that bevy of broken dreams for decades to come, if not forever.

Yates notes a major problem with the Honda FCX being an environmentally-friendly vehicle: lots of electricity is needed to make hydrogen for the car. That could come from nuclear power, but greens wouldn't like that. How about solar power? Sure, but in California it costs $40,000 just to fuel up a FCX.

"Hocus Pocus" [via Right Wing News]

Sean Hackbarth |



10:43 PM
Courtesy of Progressive Racine (good luck in your alderman race, Pete), Racine prosecutors and the ACLU are in discussions on settling a few hundred cases from last year's busted rave party.

"Court Dates for Ravers Canceled"

Sean Hackbarth |



10:06 PM
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has their story covering the car crash. Lauria Lynch-German fills in how the driver, Lawrence F. Spittel Jr., stole a car and caused a chase by police. As for the rest, it matches my account except Lynch-German doesn't mention if the car caught fire. No mention is made of how Spittel died. Was it because of the crash or fire?

I have one big regret from reporting on the car crash: I wish I had kept my digital camera charged up. I haven't had great luck taking outdoor night pictures, but if it would have worked, it would have really topped the AP and Journal Sentinel.

I wonder if our communications infrastructure could handle mass amateur reporting. When the World Trade Center was attacked, land-based and mobile phones systems were clogged with traffic or damaged in the attack. If enough people with PDA/cell phone/notebook/digital camera devices were all trying to get pictures and raw news coverage to the world at the same time, would that clog communications lines even more? In a case like that, big media with the ability to send reports to the world via satellite might have an edge.

"Man, 39, Dies After Car Chase"

Sean Hackbarth |



9:53 PM
Today, Illinois Gov. George Ryan gave the death penalty a big smack in the face. He declared his state's execution process "arbitrary and capricious, and therefore immoral." He then commuted all Illinois death row inmates' sentences to life in prison.

For the most part, I'm pleased. The state shouldn't be in the business of deciding life and death. It has a duty to punish criminals and keep them away from society, but doesn't mean it has to engage in revenge for victims' friends and family.

However, Ryan's reasoning is based on what he calls "arbitrary," full of error, and possibly racist. Would Ryan approve of the death penalty if it was adjudicated fairly? Even under perfect conditions, I would still oppose the death penalty.

"Gov. Ryan Clears Illinois' Death Row"

Sean Hackbarth |



12:34 AM
Cory Doctorow is a first-time novelist. Since first-time novelist have trouble getting attention, he's taking advantage of his Internet lust by giving his book, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom away for free. He must figure that by getting his book in front of enough eyeballs there will be a market for future books. Maybe people who read the book via download will buy a dead tree copy for a friend. Or more likely, future novels will only be available as a bound book. Who knows? That's why it's called an experiment. Unlike Napster and the the music trading scene, I have no problems with what Cory is doing. He's the author, it's his book, and he can do what he wants with it. Good luck to Cory. I downloaded my copy and will dig into it after I finish David Frum's The Right Man. And that's after I finish Dinesh D'Souza's The Virture of Prosperity. My book pile just grows and grows and grows and....

UPDATE: Uncle Bill points out that John Scalzi has let the world download a couple of his novels. Old Man's War was just picked up by a publisher and isn't available, but Agent to the Stars is available for everyone's reading pleasure.

Sean Hackbarth |



12:11 AM
From the How Fitting Department:
The typeface the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel uses in its dead tree edition is called Nimrod.

Sean Hackbarth |

1.10.2003

10:27 PM
So, my coverage of the car crash beat the AP by almost six hours. The wire story may have been more succinct, but I didn't miss any basic facts of the story. The only thing I didn't know was the car was stolen.

With this comparison between professional and amateur reporting, I have plenty of confidence that an "average Joe" reporter can detail events nearly as well as a pro.

"Man Dies After Stolen Car Crashes into Home During Chase"

Sean Hackbarth |



1:36 AM
Here's a little bit of real reporting almost live from the scene. This should beat the Wisconsin AP Wire. Don't worry about the local streets and highways; it's only important to readers aware of the SE Wisconsin area. I was driving west on Hwy 33 a few miles out of West Bend. I noticed in my rear-view mirror the flashing red and blue lights of a police care. "Damn!" I said to myself. I wonder what law I broke. As I was about to pull over to the shoulder of the road, the headlights on a car behind me came way too close for comfort. I really got over to the side of the road and let the car pass me. It was going pretty fast and I then knew the police weren't after me. A chase was on. Within a minute four police cars passed me in hot pursuit. Now, this isn't California where high speed chases happen regularly and are spectator sports. This is rural Wisconsin at 11:00 at night.

I figured my minor bit of excitement was over, but I also knew that if the chase continued for very long at that speed someone was going to get hurt. A few minutes later as I drove into Allenton, I saw police cars by a white house with a small hill. The "chasee" didn't make a small curve, went up the small hill, flew into a duplex, slammed into a wall, and then crashed into a garage.

Fearing the impacted car set the house on fire, police broke into the building. Firemen soon came on the scene and helped an elderly woman out of the house through a second-floor window. When the car hit the house, it took out a stairwell.

Highway 33 was closed down while fireman went through the house checking for fire. Other than the the car, nothing appeared to be on fire. Police needed only fire extinguisher to handle the car.

The crash occurred only a few thousand feet from my home. I got within a few hundred feet of the car. I could only see a mangled white car with its front portion bent up at a ninety-degree angle. As for survivors, I don't know. The Jaws of Life weren't called in, and police and firemen weren't rushing around the car attempting to get anyone out. But I didn't see anyone from the county coroner's office either. From the looks of the wreckage, no one survived. The passenger compartment was crushed, but I didn't see any body taken away or anyone arrested, nor did I hear of any deaths.

I'll keep you updated.

Sean Hackbarth |



12:43 AM
The Ottawa Senators have become only the third team in 29 years to file for bankruptcy. A large debt and the declining Canadian dollar are both factors in the team's financial woes.

"Senators File for Bankruptcy from Creditors"

Sean Hackbarth |

1.9.2003

12:06 AM
Jonathan Karl reveiws David Frum's The Right Man. While Frum's description of the events surrounding the September 11 attacks is full of "wit and style, and with an eye for detail," Karl thinks Frum's analysis for President Bush's transformation into a war President is lacking.

"Exceeding Expectations"

Sean Hackbarth |

1.8.2003

11:28 PM
Max Boot advocates spending a lot more on the military ($100 billion more per year). He writes that President Bush is taking the diplomatic route with North Korea because we have most of our forces tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan. Part of Bush's approach with North Korea is the lack of available military muscle, but don't forget South Korea isn't real fond of a war with their Communist brothers. Seoul would be severely hit with U.S. military estimates of 1 million South Korean casualites.

"Korean Crisis Reveals U.S. War Flaws" [via Right Wing News]

Sean Hackbarth |



11:17 PM
Ron Marr with a funny defense of KFC:

Because of this insidious boycott against the legacy of the Colonel, I plan on eating at KFC as often as possible. They offer a dandy buffet for about seven bucks. It features not only all the batter-fried chicken skin you can swallow, but also their famous mashed taters, gravy and a host of other Epicurean delights. PETA's rationale that KFC's "crude and ineffective electric stunning and throat-slitting of chickens" is inhumane will only lead me to order more Extra Crispy.

Frankly, that electric stunning bit strikes me as an awful lot of unnecessary work. When I was a kid we would just slap Henny Penny on a stump and whack her head off with a hatchet. It's fairly interesting work, as the decapitated fowl nearly always makes a mad, spurting, flapping dash of 30 or 40 feet before succumbing to the noggin-ectomy procedure. Nature is a teacher, and the lesson learned from acephalous poultry is that you really don't need a brain to run around like a dang-fool idiot making a spectacle of yourself.

I'm certain the PETA people can relate.

I'm hungry, and I don't mean salad.

"Do Vegetarians Taste Like Chicken?"

Sean Hackbarth |



9:12 PM
Science fiction writer William Gibson just started writing a weblog. Who's next? Stephen King? J.K. Rowling? J.D. Salinger? (What is that hermit doing anyway?)

Sean Hackbarth |



8:59 PM
Bill Maher's back with Real Time. It sounds like another attempt to have celebrities talk about politics. Like Politically Incorrect it will be entertaining for about three weeks, at least until Alec Baldwin talks about stoning more Republicans. The show will be on HBO, so I won't have to bother TiVo-ing it.

"Bill Maher Returns to TV With HBO Show"

Sean Hackbarth |



6:10 PM
A thought popped into my head after reading this paragraph about publishing interviews on the Web:

Readers aren't the only ones who benefit from this type of transparency, says Jonathan Dube, publisher of CyberJournalist.net. Dube considers the U.S. Department of Defense's Web site (defenselink.mil) a "journalist's gold mine" of speeches, briefings--and transcripts of every media interview given by top DoD officials. The site is a prime venue for what he calls interview voyeurism--journalists can not only spy on the techniques of their colleagues, but pluck quotes for their own stories since the interviews are public record.

I get the Defense Department interviews e-mailed to me almost daily. I mostly use it to find bits of insight from Donald Rumsfeld.

The thought that popped into my head was this: is it possible to cover the Pentagon without being there? Sure, you wouldn't be able to get those unnamed sources the big newspapers and networks do, but you could do basic coverage of press conferences and events.

"Every Last Word" [via InstaPundit]

Sean Hackbarth |



5:47 PM
A Danish committee declared Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist to be scientifically dishonest. However, because they didn't claim Lomborg intentionally mislead readers and noted no specific problems with the book, they only condemned the book and not the political science professor himself. Lomborg responded:

You can't say I'm scientifically dishonest or in breach of good scientific conduct unless you point the finger and say this is the smoking gun. It's like saying you committed murder but we won't tell you who you killed. It's impossible for me to defend myself.

"Environment and Science: Danes Rebuke a 'Skeptic'"

Sean Hackbarth |



5:30 PM
Alfred A. Knopf stopped printing Michael Bellesiles' fraudulant book, Arming America. It's the first book taken down by the Internet--especially the blogosphere.

"Publisher Stops History Book Publication" [via The Corner]

Sean Hackbarth |

1.6.2003

8:04 PM
If you were someone who knew little about movies, but a lot about technology companies, would you get the wrong impression when you discovered Apple had a web page titled "Kill Bill"? I knew Steve Jobs had his run-ins with Bill Gates, but this is ridiculous. [via Daypop]

Sean Hackbarth |



7:43 PM
So far, I've gotten no ripping over the worst post-season loss in Green Bay Packers' history. I'll assume my football-inclined readers (especially those in Minnesota) are just too busy.

Sean Hackbarth |



6:44 PM
St. Cloud State College Republican got an apology from a university vice president over the CRs pro-Israel display. What's still up in the air is any disciplinary action again a professor who allegedly assaulted a student.

Sean Hackbarth |



6:39 PM
Packers fans: Don't fret, we still have Brett!

Brett Favre isn't retiring. I knew he wouldn't. He can still play at an extremely high level; with the right personnel decisions (bye bye Terry Glenn) they can't compete for the Super Bowl next year; and he's too loyal to the team. Brett retiring now would create salary cap havoc for the Packers and leave them without a replacement at QB.

I'll let Brett have the final word:

I never once came out and talked about retirement. I can't even remember when the question was asked first. My response then was, 'This is 12 years, at some point it's going to happen. I'm closer to retirement than I was five years ago.' And from that statement it just took off.

I feel like the last two years I've played as good a football as I've played my 11 years here. I've always said my formula for returning is how I play, the injuries that so far I've been able to overcome ... or if it gets to a point where a business decision (is made) from the Packers' standpoint ...

If any of those things occur, then my decision, or the Packers' decision, will be made clear. But right now, I'm playing great. This team has a chance (to win the Super Bowl) and I'm having fun. So that's how I'm going to leave it.

"No Surprise: Favre Will Return In 2003"

Sean Hackbarth |



6:28 PM
The new year brings Washington back to work. Tomorrow, President Bush will announce his tax-cutting plan in Chicago. Then the new Congress will have to finish passing appropriation bills that didn't get done last year. With the Islamist War and national security requiring plenty of money, other federal programs will *gasp* "have to make do with the same as or less than they had in previous years." Government workers and big-spending liberals will scream, but "regular people" (hello, Sen. Edwards) like me yawn. Domestic spending grew 40% during Bill Clinton's second term, and it sure didn't shrink with President Bush. Washington Post reports that

Spending on the Federal Aviation Administration, air safety, Amtrak subsidies, the Coast Guard and other annually funded transportation programs grew by more than 50 percent between 1997 and today, for example. But it would grow by only 7.3 percent between now and 2007.

Oh, the horror! Washington has lots and lots of money--much of it wasted on inefficient or unconstitutional programs (we're still paying for Amtrak). Maybe we should have wars more often if it could keep Washington's spending in check.

"Lid Put on Domestic Spending"

Sean Hackbarth |



5:40 PM
The Clonaid baby is a hoax. At least that's what it looks like. The baby's parents haven't let a research team get DNA samples so the team has stopped their work.

"Overseer of DNA Clone Tests Suspends Effort"

Sean Hackbarth |



5:26 PM
New York City gets the 2004 GOP convention. Despite Mayor Mike Bloomberg turning into a RINO (Republican In Name Only), Karl Rove wants the public to remember what President Bush did in fighting the war on terrorism. That's why the convention will be within a few miles of Ground Zero. If the Islamist War is being won, Saddam is gone, and terrorists won't attack the West for fear of retribution, then President Bush is a shoe-in for re-election. But if it's 2004, Saddam's still in power, North Korea has nukes, and the U.S. suffers another massive terrorist attack, then having the convention in NYC could be Rove's nightmare.

Having the GOP convention where the Islamist War began was too much symbolism for Tampa, FL to compete with. But look for the 2008 convention to head to Florida. Jeb Bush might still be governor looking to replace his brother as President, and with continuing immigration and emmigration Florida may be toss-up state.

"Republicans Pick New York City for 2004 Convention"

"Republicans Choose New York for '04 National Convention"

"GOP Chooses New York over Tampa for 2004 Convention"

Sean Hackbarth |



3:58 AM
President Bush will call for the end of taxing dividends. One official told Time, "If it is wrong to tax dividends, it's still wrong if you only tax 50% of them." It's wrong to tax dividends because that income was already taxed on the corporate level. It's bold, and it will enrage Democrats who spent all weekend bashing Bush's economic plan before they've seen it.

"Bush's Tax Surprise" [via Drudge]

Sean Hackbarth |



3:28 AM
Peggy Noonan wonders why we love President Bush:

Mr. Bush doesn't bring his dramas and mess with him. He doesn't bring a sack of dysfunction on his back when he enters a room. He keeps his woes, his emotions, his private life to himself. An example of what I'm getting at. He recently fired his Treasury secretary and his chief economic adviser. He wasn't happy with them; he wanted someone else; they didn't leave; he fired them. Boom. Next. If he feels personal bitterness, anger, or arrogance toward them, we don't know.

This is wonderful. If it had been LBJ or Richard Nixon firing Paul O'Neill, we'd all still be talking about the personal elements in the marriage gone bad. Or we'd be talking about whether "the boss is in love" with someone else, as Nixon's old hands used to say when Nixon became enthralled with the thinking of someone. Sometimes he fell in love with this intellectual, sometimes he soured on that adviser. He fell in love with Pat Moynihan, and John Connally. And then the love died. It was a regular "Peyton Place" in that White House. And Bill Clinton's White House was, it hardly needs be said, another hothouse, though of a different kind.

But with Mr. Bush things aren't a big emotional drama. He seems stable. This is a relief. You get the impression he's like what he of course was, a businessman. When things work, good; when they don't, change. It's not personal. It doesn't have to be messy. It's not Shakespearean.

Which is good. The world is quite dramatic enough. It's good especially at this time to be led not by the emotionally labile but the grounded and sturdy. They can see Mr. Bush is grounded. They're glad.

She sums her thought up:

Because he's not complicated and perhaps not even especially interesting as a person. We just love that.

I don't think President Bush would be insulted with Noonan's answer. You know Bill Clinton would be.

"Human, but Not to a Fault"

Sean Hackbarth |



2:41 AM
Movable Type is installed. Now, begins the playing. I'll be digging into how to operate this monster, get templates put together so TAM looks gorgeous, and import Blogger Pro entries. I have a feeling that once I go MT, I'll never go back. I'll have something else to do today on my day off.

Sean Hackbarth |

1.5.2003

11:48 PM
Want to know where the Culture of Death could lead America?

YOU MAY HAVE MISSED IT in all the Raelian cloning news, but Channel 4 of British television began the New Year with a broadcast about a Chinese performance artist who eats a baby's corpse. Described by executives of Channel 4 as a "thought-provoking film about extreme art in China," the documentary features a man named Zhu Yu, who displays photographs in which he washes a stillborn child in a sink and then consumes it. Just for luck, the program, called "Beijing Swings," also features a man drinking the wine used to preserve an amputated penis and follows hard upon Channel 4's showing last month of a live-action autopsy. Insisting he could not "find any law which prevents us from eating people," Zhu Yu suggests, "I took advantage of the space between morality and the law and based my work on it."

Then there's this horrific ditty:

A few years ago, the London Daily Telegraph reported that "doctors at the state-run Shenzhen Health Centre for Women and Children hand out bottles of thumb-sized aborted babies to be made into meat cakes or soup with pork and ginger. Zou Qin, a doctor at the Luo Hu Clinic in Shenzhen, said the fetuses were 'nutritious' and that she had eaten one hundred herself in the last six months. 'We don't carry out abortions just to eat fetuses,' said Qin. '[But they would be] wasted if not eaten.'"

J. Bottum then connects this to legalized abortion:

Once upon a time, we built hedge after hedge of protection around the deep things about life and death a culture must maintain. The hedges themselves are not all that important, but when they fall they weaken our defenses--however much those people who knock them down insist they are only clearing away a single hedge.

"Eating Babies"

Sean Hackbarth |



10:59 PM
Mike Sherman can claim all he wants about an official telling him he couldn't challenge the muffed punt. He still should have called for an instant replay review. The worst that could have happened was the officials would have denied him his request. If he would have challeneged the call, the Pack might have gotten the ball back with an opportunity to get some momentum. Sherman made a ball call. It's a simple as that.

Now, WTMJ radio in Milwaukee is reporting on a rumor that Brett Favre will announce his retirement tomorrow. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel doesn't agree. A press conference is scheduled, but the Packers usually have press conferences on every Monday of the season. This either could be just an review of the season or the biggest sports story in Wisconsin since the Packers last won the Super Bowl.

"Sherman, Officials Disagree"

"Favre's Return Expected"

Sean Hackbarth |

ABOUT
When I'm not pondering the fate of the universe, I'm reading, writing, or selling books. Here you'll find comments on politics, culture, books, and music. Not necessarily in that order.

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