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Meditations - ta eis heauton

Location: Austin, Texas, United States

I'm a software engineer / partner working for a young company in Austin, Texas, USA. I spend most of my free time hanging out with friends and family, eating out, and partying in the Warehouse District. I should spend more time working on my house....

Thursday, July 28, 2005

After re-reading the second Statesman post on the "turd-blossom" issue I wanted to make an additional comment. Censorship is not just " function of the state, not a newspaper", that is simply a more well known form. The first definition according to the The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 2004 for censor:
A person authorized to examine books, films, or other material and to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable.
This case would obviously apply.

To Pledge or not to pledge

There is an article in Wednesday's Statesman about a Wimberly city council member that does not recite the pledge to the Texas flag. They mention in the article that in "2003 the Legislature required all public school students to say the U.S. and Texas pledges daily". This annoys the heck out of me. What is the point of performing these pledges? This just wastes valuable teaching time. We should be using those 2-5 minutes everyday to teach something about US government or Texas history. Wouldn't that be more valuable. I bet the kids in India and China that our kids are going to be competing with aren't wasting time on such jingoistic clap-trap. Don't get me started on the idiocy of the Moment of Silence that is mandatory as well.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Austin American Statesman has decided to pull the two most recent Doonesbury comic strips due to their use of the term "turd-blossom". The Statesman is not the only paper that decided not to run the strips. See this post on the Editor's blog for more info. They ask for comments in the blog on the issue and I posted a note:

I would have published the strip, but I don't think "turd" is profanity. I must have a degraded sense of the language.

Has anyone done a lexis-nexis search on the use of the word in the Statesman and print generally? I would be very curious to see the results. I know the name was mentioned in a Time magazine profile of Rove.

This isn't something that would be difficult for someone on the staff to do. Almost every reporter and certainly every major news paper has a subscription to the Lexis-Nexis service and would be skilled enough to perform just such a search to determine what number of actual uses of "turd" there have been in their paper in the last 5/10/25 years and do a similar search amongst all newspapers and then generally in print media. At least I think this is easy. I haven't done a Lexis-Nexis search in about 8-10 years, but it seemed pretty easy to use back then.

Note that according to dictionary.reference.com turd is considered vulgar.

Update: The Statesman Editorial Blog has put up another post on the issue. Apparently most of the readers disagree with their action.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Letter printed!

My letter to the statesman was printed on Saturday. See this post for background. They took their sweet time posting it, but who cares. I had to pare down my original version from about 350 words to 150, but amazingly it took very little away from my letter (which shows it was much too long to begin with). Anyhow if you are interested here it is posted in the Statesman's Letters to the Editor website. It is the 4th letter, about half way down the page with the title "Blame was premature", which isn't nearly as good as my title,"When you assume...", but whatever. ;-)

Thursday, July 14, 2005


I have read media reports of both my Senators showing support for Karl Rove in his revelation of a NOC CIA agent. This bothered me so I sent Senators Hutchison and Cornyn a letter:

I am very disturbed that you felt it appropriate to defend Karl Rove for his actions in revealing the identity of a NOC CIA agent. Regardless of Mr. Rove's intentions in this matter, and I am not certain they were ethical either, the revelation of this information borders on treason. Mr. Rove put the CIA operative, her family, other agents using the same cover and US allies with whom she had contact in danger by revealing this information. Additionally, he made it much more difficult for other agents to recruit informational assets in the future, and made it more difficult to recruit and keep NOC agents for the CIA itself. This is an enormous amount of damage that goes directly to the heart of US national security. I hope you will reconsider your support of Mr. Rove in this affair and will instead call for his dismissal and possible criminal prosecution. In light of 9/11 America's national security must be protected.

If you agree send your Senator a letter as well. Texans should start here.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

When you assume...

After reading this editorial in Friday's online Austin American Statesman, I felt it deserved a letter in response, so here is what I sent:

After reading today's editorial "Britain won't be defeated by terrorists" I am concerned that you jumped to conclusions about the source of the attack and the goals of its vicious perpetrators.

In the editorial you specifically cite al Qaeda as the perpetrator and then go as far as to assume the goal of the bombing. Most suspected al Qaeda when the bombings occurred in Oklahoma City too. We were wrong. We shouldn't assume we know the perpetrator of this incident until an investigation leads to evidence giving us a basis to make such claims. Accusations before that time only serve to muddy the waters. Also, please remember just because some group makes a claim to have done this doesn't mean it is true. We should follow the evidence, and then make educated decisions about who is the culprit.

After making the assumption that al Qaeda is the culprit you write, "Terrorists might be disappointed if they expect the government in London to react like Madrid's did last year and pull its troops out of Iraq.", and, "If all foreign troops left Iraq today, al Qaeda would make other demands..." We don't know what the perpetrators goal was. It is not illogical to assume that this attack could have been performed for demented reasons that have nothing to do with the war in Iraq. It is even possible that this attack was intended to refocus us on Iraq, to keep us from focusing on North Korea, Iran or Afghanistan. Making such assumptions is a serious problem. It tempts people to respond to ideas that might otherwise be reasonable with the response, "We can't do that because that is what the terrorists want!" It encourages everyone to play pop psychologist guessing what the terrorists want us to do, so we can do the opposite. It makes rational debate impossible.

Neither Britain nor America will be defeated by terrorist. We will respond to this attack by finding those responsible, holding them accountable, and working to prevent such attacks in the future. Throwing out unfounded accusations and making assumptions about the purpose of the attack only makes that job harder. You may turn out to have been correct on both counts, but that will not justify the mistakes made in the editorial.

I don't care if they print it or not, I just hope they read it and realize the mistake.

Update: Minor spelling mistake fixed and one sentence added.