Charles Oliver - Econ/Media-Boy
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Charles C. Watson - Science/Tech-Boy
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Ron Campbell - sushi-bait.
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Even a blogger needs to eat. This blog is primarily Charles' hobby. But if he is intent on continuing to woo the Hooter's waitresses in Chatanooga he needs something that pays.... wings don't come free you know. Here's a link to his day job where he works the education beat and, assuming he can't annoy enough people that way, is sometimes allowed to write opinion pieces.

Need perspective? Watson offers readers all they could possibly eat. For a unique view on current events, namely how they look from orbit, here's Chuck's Real-Time(ish) Satellite Imagery of Areas of Interest. Whenever it strikes his fancy, and there's good telemetry, Chuck will process and post near real-time images of locations in the news. Eminently engrossing.

Wanna get into the head of a Japanese salaryman? Why, for Chis'sakes?! Well, assumin' you do, feel welcome to check out the on-line journal of Campbell's English class. Everyday, a group of disaffected salarymen are required to spill out their inner-most thoughts about life, the universe and everything in broken English. Amazingly prosaic.

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[*] = updated in the last 24 hrs.

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Shoutin' across the Pacific
Chiizu taberu koufuku shiteiru saru ga kangei-saremasen.
Sunday, September 28, 2003
Even Less Class. The Bush administration didn't like Joseph Wilson's report on the Niger-uranium-Iraq conection, so someone in the administration leaked that Wilson's wife is an undercover CIA operative. Rober Novak printed that fact, blowing her cover wide open. If the Clinton administration had done this, don't you think the GOP would be calling for some scalps?

posted by Charles at 1:36 PM

Saturday, September 27, 2003
Pure Class. When I first saw this open letter from Natalie Maines floating around the Internet, I thought it was a bad parody. Nope, it seems she really wrote it.

posted by Charles at 7:19 PM

Friday, September 26, 2003
No Wonder Mother Loved You Less. Just watched the CMT "Controversy" special in "Okie From Muskogee." No real surprises. But it did confirm my opinion that Tommy Smothers is a dick and the Smothers Brothers show was really lame.

posted by Charles at 9:53 PM

Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Soaked. I missed John Stossel's latest Give Me a Break segment when it aired, but he did a good job of showing how taxpayers subsidize those who build in coastal areas at risk from hurricanes.

posted by Charles at 10:57 PM

Monday, September 22, 2003
And It's Such A Classy Departure, Too. The Dixie Chicks say they no longer want to be part of country music. The feel unwanted there, and besides the competition is higher in the rock world.

posted by Charles at 11:01 AM

Saturday, September 20, 2003
Miss America. I'm watching this show on VH-1(??) on the history of the pageant. Get past the big hair and big dresses, and the winners from the 50s through the 80s were attractive, often very attractive. But the quality of the winners seems to have been declining since the mid 80s. And it took a steep drop in the mid 1990s.

I have a feeling that after the Vanessa Williams affair, pageant officials decided that the only way to prevent it from happening again was to make sure the winner was someone no one would want to see naked.

BTW, if my life had worked out the way it should have, I'd be divorcing Ms. Williams right now and moving on to my trophy wife, Laetitia Casta.

posted by Charles at 7:31 PM

Congratulations. My former grad school colleague Pete Boettke has been selected to deliver the 2004 F.A. Hayek Memorial Lecture at the London School of Economics.

posted by Charles at 5:37 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Liberal Of Spain? Domenic points to an interesting Wall Street Journal story on Jose Maria Aznar. It's by subscription only, so I can't link, but here's an excerpt that's especially revealing:

He has transformed Spain's politics. He inherited the wounded remnants of Gen. Franco's conservatism -- insular, atavistic and Hispanically mystical in its Catholicism -- and made it classically liberal. He has also made it acceptable to be on the political right in Spain, which, when you consider the popular distaste for la derecha after Franco's death, is no mean feat. "This is the first time in our history that we've had liberal policies," he said. The approach has produced a thriving economy, one of the few in the EU still growing. "Our policies have allowed us to have a revolution of prosperity. When in a country of 40 million you create four million jobs, that is a social revolution," he added.

posted by Charles at 10:15 PM

Sunday, September 14, 2003
It's Always That Way. Who would have figured that of all the big Sun artists -- Johnny Cash, Elvis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Charlie Rich -- the final survivor would be Jerry Lee Lewis?

posted by Charles at 10:18 PM

Newlyweds. I was afraid that I was the only thirtysomething man in the world who was addicted to this MTV reality show, so I was glad to hear Jimmy Kimmel call it the best thing on television.

It centers on two young people -- Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey -- who are apparently well-known singers.

Jessica is smoking hot. But she's also spoiled, lazy, disorganized and even more stupid than you'd expect a beautiful blonde singer to be. Oh, and she's very, well, gassy. Nick seems like an okay fellow, and the joy of this show is watching him react to her latest screw up. You can almost seem him thinking "Well, she is stacked."

The most infamous is the "Chicken of the Sea" incident where Jessica couldn't figure out whether she was eating tuna or chicken, and why, if it was tuna, they called it chicken.

As Kimmel pointed out, these two allegedly didn't have sex before they were married, "And now that he's had sex, he's getting really irritated with her."

I don't give this marriage three years.

posted by Charles at 7:21 PM

Down and Out In NYC. Doesn't sound too bad.

posted by Charles at 6:47 PM

Friday, September 12, 2003
I had planned on posting a note on Edward Teller anyway, when an email from Domenic Angelone came in pointing out that there was "more coverage about Schwartzenegger's hemorroids" in the blogosphere than on Teller. I would now add that there was a longer piece on CBS Radio News about either John Ritter or Johnny Cash than Teller. Given the enormous impact he has had on the military applications of science, and the controversy he has generated in his life, you'd think somebody would have something to say about him. So here are a few thoughts:

Teller came to this country as many of our ancestors did, a refugee from one of Europe's perodic spasms of mayhem. His most controversial attitude (one I share), was that it is better for the US to posess and develop WMD's like nuclear bombs as we are more likely to use them for good than any other nation on earth. He opposed the ABM treaty and was a strong advocate of anti-missile systems. He is sometimes credited with convincing Regan to start SDI, and certainly was a strong advocate of that system, brining a lot of money in to the R&D Labs that has laid the groundwork for a working missile shield.

A couple of Teller quotes worth remembering:

I deeply regret the deaths and injuries that resulted from the atomic bombings, but my best explanation of why I do not regret working on weapons is a question: What if we hadn't?

The second half of the century has been incomparably more peaceful than the first, simply by putting power into the hands of those people who wanted peace.

I asked a few friends who worked with him for a some impressions. A common comment was that Teller was "an asshole", as one respected colleague of mine who worked with him put it. He could be self-rightous, and not much interested in other peoples views. So he wouldn't win any awards for Mr. Personality. His role in Oppenheimer losing his clearance left bad blood that remains today.

But on the whole, I would say that Edward Teller was a great American, and without a doubt one of the most important figures of the XXth Century.

Side note: I had a long talk this morning (in broken english) with some guy claiming to be Ron Campbell. Like me, he's been swamped with work and home life. (There is more to life than blogging . . .)

posted by Chuck at 3:12 PM

Colorful Stories. Mickey Kaus has an entry on a story Arnold S. told years ago on the Tonight Show about his days running a bricklaying service with Franco Columbu (whom Kaus doesn't name for some reason.)

Columbu himself has told another humurous story of Arnold's business acumen. I won't repeat it here. But let's just say that Arnold, if the story is true, is a real smooth talker.

posted by Charles at 12:48 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2003
On September 11
I'm really sick of hearing that the "world changed" Sept. 11, 2001, and it's well past time to get over it. I suppose it's because I've been involved with defense, security, and emergency management and planning for virtually all of my professional life. But by pretty much any measure I can think of, the 9/11 attacks were not as bad as they have been played up to be, and could (and probably even should) have been prevented using existing techniques and tools. Some of the below you may have seen before - I haven't had time to search the blogosphere to see if someone has already made these points (and I'd be surprised if they haven't!).

Much has been made of how good Al Qaida terrorists are, but quite frankly they are not particularly effective at direct attacks (their indirect damage through psychological impact is all out of proportion to their direct impact, but that's our own fault). In 2001, there were five times as many murders by run-of-the-mill criminals as by terrorists. Adding the 9/11 attacks to the 2001 statistics, 2001 wasn't even in the top three years for murders in the previous decade of 1991 - 2000. (from the FBI's crime statistics for 2001). There were more fatalities on interstates in 2001 (5476) than in the 9/11 attacks - and the 9/11 attacks produced less than 10% of the overall fatalities due to traffic accidents. So these attacks were not particularly effective at increasing our "non-natural cause" fatality rate. Put another way, UBL failed to do even as good a job at killing Americans as Americans are at killing Americans.

While the violent end of any life is regrettable and tragic for the family and friends involved, lets be realistic here: the attacks were not really that bad. Most of the economic impacts have been psychological, not real and were comparable to natural disasters. According to a GAO report , direct costs were on-par with events such as hurricane Andrew and the Northridge earthquake. Again, UBL's efforts to "strike at the heart of our economy" didn't even rise above the natural disaster noise level.

From a security standpoint, my opinion on the attacks is that even these pitiful efforts could have been prevented or reduced using available analysis and tools. What was missing was the will and organization to do so. Rather than take simple steps that would reduce our risk of further attack (like target islamic groups and individuals for greater scrutiny than 85 year old WASPS), we take expensive and disruptive measures that in all honestly are doing very little to improve security. All because we don't want to admit the intel and security establishment screwed up (and it did).

As usual, the greatest threat is from within. At the risk of a bit of hyperbole, the AG and his push for PATRIOT II is among the most dangerous threats to our country, even granting that his motives are really about improving security and not just a power grab. Any "C" student of recent history can point out the obvious fact that even very oppressive regimes with active, even brutal security systems had a "terror" problem (one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter - it's all perspective). Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, the PRC, etc. all had internal security problems. There is a point of diminishing returns with respect to security and freedom, and we are well past that point.

Bottom line: the terrorists failed to cause much direct damage, but we made their attack a success by over-reacting, both in fear and in cynical power grabs and exploitation by the media, government, and others.

posted by Chuck at 8:51 AM

Monday, September 08, 2003
Well, Yeah. Some people seem unduly impressed with this latest offering from James Lileks. Concerning the growing disenchantment for George W. Bush expressed by libertrians ane small-government conservatives, he write:

[W]hat are they going to do in 04, write in “Tom McClintock”? Yes, they could stay home, but I have a hard time imagining large numbers of GOPers thinking “I trust him more on national security than that Dean fellow, but I just can’t vote for a guy who co-authored an education bill with Ted Kennedy.

That's the sort of line the GOP always uses to try to keep libertarians from fleeing the plantation. We are always being told that if we don't vote Republican, we'll just get it worse. Well, that ain't always true. Can anyone seriously argue that a second George Bush pere term would have been more conservative economically than that of Bill Clinton?

Oh, Bush would have handled foreign policy better, you say. Really? Wasn't it a Bush administration official who encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait. Wasn't it Bush who ended the first Gulf War without ousting Saddam? Wasn't it Bush who got the U.S. into Somalia?

Yeah, the American public really screwed up when it ousted senior in favor of Bubba.

posted by Charles at 11:23 PM

Saturday, September 06, 2003
I Can Speak With Authority In This Matter. A video that Arnold S. made in 1983 is being re-released by Playboy, and some people think it could be another blow to his campaign.

I've actually seen the "embarrassing " video in question.

The only thing Arnold has to worry about is the pissed of guys who'll rent it after all of the hype. "Wild On Carnival" is about right. It's just like that show, only with Arnold instead of Jules Asner or Brooke Burke. There's a bit of nudity, and a lot of focus on those skimpy Brazilian bathing suits. But it's more cheesy than "racy."

posted by Charles at 8:10 PM

I've Got No Dog in This Fight. But David Frum really slaps Justin Raimondo down hard.

posted by Charles at 7:40 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2003
Straight and Narrow. Arnold is backing away from that Oui magazine interview, and Mickey Kaus seems to think he's telling the truth this time.

I believe him! The more you think about it, the more Arnold's boasting to Oui smells like pure PR BS-ing. Schwarzenegger, remember, was determined to rid bodybuilding of its homosexual image. So he comes up with a group gangbang incident--not only is he straight, but all the guys in the gym were straight!

I don't know if Arnold is telling the truth now, or if he was back in 1977. I do know that taking part in a gang bang seems, well, rather gay.

posted by Charles at 10:21 PM

Maybe The University of Georgia Has Changed Since I was There. but 20 years ago, black students segregated themselves into certain dorms and certain sections of the dining halls. They had their own fraternities and their own student union. But someone is worrried that an off-campus bar will separate the university.

posted by Charles at 9:19 AM

Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Well, That Settles It. FBI agent Ken McCabe said today on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America that evidence has investigators leaning more toward the theories that Brian Wells was either a willing participant in the robbery, or was forced into committing the robbery by someone who put the bomb on his neck.

Thanks to Ron for pointing this one out.

posted by Charles at 7:53 PM

Monday, September 01, 2003
Poppa's Got A Brand New Bag. Does anyone remember that old Saturday Night Live sketch where Garrett Morris portrayed James Brown during his early days playing clubs in his native Scotland?

posted by Charles at 9:46 PM

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