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Monday, September 1, 2003

Christopher Charles points up the main problem with the California recall with a one liner from the California Journal:
"The doomsday question is whether Governor Gray Davis is being recalled for failing to govern a state that is no longer governable."
The problems that face California will still be there on the morning of Oct. 8, and gov. Bustamante, Bly-Chester or Schwarzenegger will find themselves in the unenviable position of leading a state that has so many voter mandates as to render them virtually powerless. The legislature cannot agree on anything and the budget requires that two-thirds of them agree on it. Voter initiatives are the law of the land, nevermind that they may make no sense. The governor must sue the state in order to override one of these idealogical time bombs.

Which is exactly what California's unpopular governor did in 1999 about a particularly divisive initiative. At that time the recall was started, but most people either didn't care about or opposed proposition 187. As you know, the recall succeeded four years later, after Davis was re-elected, and rich Vistan, Darryll Issa paid nearly two million for the signatures.

Mandates push the government from the left and the right, spending money the state just doesn't have. In fact there are two initiaves on the ballot along with the recall, one that would require masking everyone's ethnicity and another that would triple the spending on roads and beaches.

I cringe when I read the platforms of many of the candidates because they are so sweeping. A lot of them have great ideas for California. Unfortunately, the governor does not rule the state - the governor is an administrator who must impliment the collective wills of the battling legislators and 35 million of the most diverse people on the planet.

Someone, and (damn my lax surfing style) I can't say who, looking for specifics on the picture of Gray Davis with two assault pistols. The guns are Intratec Tec-9 Mini Pistols, and Davis is holding them at a ceremony with Diane Feinstein when those weapons were banned in the state of California.

I don't know who took the photo, nor where it was originally published, but I found it on this girls and guns website. That picture is gone now, replaced by the one at left, which I have included totally for gratuitous purposes. The Liberty Belles gun club is backing right wing senator, Tom McClintock, for California governor by the way.

Disclosure: I dimmed the background of the photo so Davis would stand out better in a web environment.

I cannot believe what I was forced to do!

Ok, I knew it was coming because my ISP, Qwest had warned me. Today they were going to switch over all of the DSL software on their end to require a different, longer, login name in order to provide a more secure system. When they switched their software at about 1 am, I was knocked offline. At first I thought Safari had crashed, so I tried MSIE. No luck. I checked my mail, couldn't connect. Then I remembered that I would have to change some settings and dug up the instructions.

The procedure required me to 'program' my Cisco DSL router via it's serial port, a simple and straight forward task - usually. Back when I installed it, I had a serial port on my computer so I could hook up to the router, use a terminal program such as ZTerm and do it all in comfort. Now I have a modern computer with neither serial port nor floppy drive.

So first I had to get out my old computer, an original Macintosh (which had been upgraded to a Mac Plus), hook it up to a hard drive and boot it up. Ok, that part went smooth, but where was the ZTerm disk? The one Qwest had sent me was a CD, and the original Mac didn't have a CD drive (cause they weren't invented in 1984!) So I had to search for a terminal program, but first I had to find my floppies. After about an hour of searching, I found Kermit 0.92 and installed it.

Then I had to find the cable to physically connect the router to the Macintosh. I found two, but the connector was a D9 type, instead of the little round thing the Mac wanted. Another hour of searching found one. It fit.

So I booted Kermit and whatdyaknow, the screen was asking:


Password!?!?!? Ok, I knew a lot of passwords, so I started trying them, hoping this was one I put in, rather than some randomly generated string they would have preinstalled. On the 178th try, I hit the jackpot and got the 'cbos>' prompt. I really felt like celebrating now.

But when I typed in the string that would get me back online, I got an error message. Fortunately the message said something about being disabled and I didn't think they were talking about deuteranopia. So I typed "enable" and was greeted with a slightly different prompt, 'cbos#'.

This time the string worked, but not until I rediscovered that command-h means backup in terminal talk. So here I am, back online. Thank you old Mac, you still da machine!

Robert Park's The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science provides some simple guidelines to help you evaluate if a subject is real science, or just someone using the mantle of science to promote misinformation. This is an important skill, but you will need to be careful. Park's own caution that "they are only warning signs -- even a claim with several of the signs could be legitimate" looms small compared to the task.

The best way to tell if an experiment or observation is real is to repeat it yourself, or if that is not practical, see if anyone else has repeated it. Even this can fail though, because some phenomenon are so transient that there just isn't enough luck to be able to repeat the observation. The discovery of martian microbe fossils in a meteorite from Antartica comes to mind - it would be very difficult to find a second rock to bolster that claim.

So does even science need to be faith-based? No. Unfortunately even legitimate claims which cannot bear scrutiny by scientists willing to repeat the experiment must remain short of acceptance. Even if they are truely scientific and not just hoaxes, like Manifold Theory (formerly string theory) and the Many World Interpretation of quantum mechanics. [from Der Schockwellenreiter]

© Copyright 2003 by Chris Heilman.