12 July 2004

A short trip around the news this morning:
  • The Bush administration is playing politics with science, much to the disgust of the international political and scientific community (follow links). Gee, what a surprise. And also note that the NYT, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times did not give this story space on the front page—not even the LA Times with its "health" block on the front page of its online site could be bothered. In the meantime, US efforts seem to be focussed on keeping gays from getting married and kicking gays with critical skills out of the military—both activities that discourage "safe sex" and monogamy, which are purportedly the acceptable fall-back positions of the "fundamentalist Christian right." How "Christian" they are is open to question; actions speak louder than words. See, e.g., John 8:7 ("'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her'") (NIV).
  • Yet more partisan follies: Those creatures in Washington whom "we" elected can't even-handedly consider legislation. This is like doing away with the jump-ball rule when one has a short team. Wait a minute… that actually happened… so maybe I shouldn't be surprised. If you can't win within the rules, change the rules. Or, if establishing rules would be too politically dangerous to one's own reelection campaign, delegate them to a toothless administrative agency and then criticize it for not taking action.
  • Our greatest intelligence failure is in the people we elect to office, not in the intelligence community—although even there, cunning is a lot more valuable than true intelligence.
  • Gee. The American manufacturing and retailing communities appear to have admitted that maybe—just maybe, mind you—the international community's longer bar codes are a good idea. That might be like admitting that the ISBN system as it stands doesn't work because it requires a new code assignment for each trivial variation in a book, even down to which of four alternate dustjackets one might find on simultaneously published editions of The Lord of the Rings, and makes finding used books incredibly difficult because there is no relationship between an assigned ISBN and the format or age of a book. The ISBN could use about three additional digits, if only so that the number of digits devoted to the manufacturer can be standardized…