30 June, 2005

Cleaning up at the ACLU

Today has been a day for cleaning up the trash, moving furniture, and reorganizing at the Pittsburgh office of the ACLU. Lots of volunteers. Lots of hamburgers to place on the grill. Lots of rain. I hope that isn't some kind of metaphor.

More seriously, it seems to me that there is lot of ground between groups that usually don't talk to each other. The ACLU has a lot of common ground with the LP, for example. I'm a member of both of them, don't entirely agree with either of them, and can work with either. So why do they ignore (or worse, belittle) one another?

I'm orthogonal to the "left/right" axis. From where I am, I can barely see the differences.

Now, back to the party...

29 June, 2005

Playing by the local rules

As many of you know, I have an interest in the commodification and privatization of the use of force (i.e., mercs, Private Military Companies, etc.). It looks like at least one former hostage in Iraq has decided to play by the local rules.

I wonder who he's found to take the job? Local or outsider? Amateur or professional?

Branding and marketing

There are a number of pundits trying to figure out why the Democrats lose so many elections. I suspect the analysis would improve if more of the pundits leave the cities and talk to people in the "blue counties". Meanwhile, Jane Galt has stimulated an interesting dialogue on applying market metaphors to political movements. Take a look.

Another speech. Not much change.

No single speech is going to change the politics of the Iraq war overnight, and the administration is correct in noting that wars don't operate according to timetables.

I find myself of two minds on this. I opposed the war. in large part because I could see this coming. (I also have enough experience with intel to recognize when it is being slanted in favor of a policy already decided upon.) But now we're there. The United States, its leaders and its people, have a moral and a practical duty to repair much of the damage. Iraq is now a training ground for terrorists, and leaving the field to them before the Iraqis are able to take care of themselves would be a blunder akin to how we left Afghanistan when the Soviets pulled out. Although I still believe the odds of building a unifed (undivided territory), liberal democratic (non-theocratic) Iraq are low, they are worse if the new government is abandoned.

An interesting observation from the Strategypage: the Iraqi Civil War has already begun. It has taken the form of Kurd and Shi'a volunteers operating as police in Sunni-dominated areas. This has been an opportunity for lots of people to settle old scores. I'm amazed the pro-government forces have been so restrained, considering what they went through under Saddam and what they deal with from the Sunni insurgency today.

For a grounds-eye view of the fighting, I recommend this. For a good analysis of the editorial reaction to the president's speech, look here.

27 June, 2005


It will be interesting to see just how far local governments and privledged developers will go in taking advantage of the recent Supreme Court ruling expanding the power of eminent domain to take private land for a wide range of "public goods"--including higher tax revenues. The Washington Times reports

The Supreme Court's ruling that local governments can take private property for commercial use is expected to bring a number of contested local projects -- including the District's plans to build a baseball stadium -- closer to fruition.
The ruling angered property owners who could be displaced, including those who have fought plans to build the Washington Nationals' new baseball stadium in Southeast near the Anacostia River waterfront. The court said a commercial venture that brings tax revenue or jobs to the city is a public good and, thus, is eligible to benefit from the power of eminent domain.

How far will it go?

UPDATE: Freeport, Texas, joins the (gravy) train.

24 June, 2005

Where the time goes

For those with an interest, here's a summary of what's been going on. People with something better to do, skip this post.

Susan's at work during the day, and immediately into bed when she gets home. A painful skin rash, with swelling, is beginning to get better. Recovery from NF is a long process, and she hates to allow people to see just how sick she is. Sometimes, when she's having a very good day, I can fail to see her pain myself. But it's there. All the doctors told us this would be a long recovery, and so it has.

The house we thought we had sold last August, only to have the bottom drop out of the deal, we think we will be able to sell next month. Meanwhile, we still have an unwanted "country house" in another town. Damn time sink. Doesn't help the finances, either.

My five-year review was due at school. I put off writing it for as long as I could. I didn't want to look back, and in particular I didn't want to look back on the past year. But it's done, and it some ways the report has been cathartic for me. A lot of anger boiled up in what was to be an administrative exercise. Most of it never made it past the first draft, but putting the anger on a page helped (a little).

The new neighborhood, a mile or so from the Pittsburgh Zoo, is everything we hoped for. I'm glad we made the choices we did, even if some of them have been harder to implement than I had imagined. I'll be especially pleased when my final ties to the old town (Butler, PA) are cut. After nine years, neither of us felt at home there. This is home.

I alternate between working too hard and hardly working at all. I need to find a balance between mania and exhaustion.

Please pardon the absence

Three months?