Monday, December 22, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

CLEAN COAL PR: Standard example

"In response to the announcement from OPEC that oil producing companies will cut oil production to force oil prices to remain high, John. W Rich, Jr., CEO of WMPI PTY., LLC, issued the following statement:

"OPEC's decision to cut production is an arrogant attempt to manipulate energy prices in the United States. American families cannot afford higher energy prices and Americans cannot afford to continue to rely on OPEC countries for our energy needs. The best way to fight this kind of economic terrorism is to support homegrown energy solutions like waste coal and biomass to diesel that will create jobs here at home, develop a new energy industry and stop the export of US dollars to foreign oil barons."

This comes straight from Gilberton, Schuylkill County, one of the poorest place in the state of Pennsylvania.

"John W. Rich, Jr. has been a leader in the energy sector for decades and he is the CEO of WMPI PTY., LLC in Gilberton, PA," continues the press release.

More accurately, Rich is a leader in the waste coal industry in eastern Pennsylvania, a business scavenging the dregs out of culm piles leftover from the heyday of anthracite coal mining. To call him a leader in the energy sector is like saying the Detroit Lions are an important pro football team in the race to the Super Bowl.

However, Rich has been trying to get a Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-oil plant off the ground for some time in Gilberton. It would allow him to capitalize more efficiently on the disposal of his waste coal tailings.

During 2008 the Department of Energy (under George W. Bush) seemingly backed away from the Gilberton plant. It did this through simple neglect.

An impact statement issued by DoE at first made up some claims about what would be done with the carbon dioxide produced by the plant and then, in a later amendment, conceded that no technology now existed to dispose of the volumes of greenhouse gas produced. It seems certain that the fate of the Gilberton plant will be put off until well into the administration of Barack Obama.

The obvious arguments now for clean coal energy production are the same as they have ever been. "The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal" and the nation must get off Middle Eastern oil.

However, the price of gasoline in southern California is now under two bucks/gallon, a place it hasn't been in well over a decade in Pasadena. And the economy is still crashing.

At El Reg a few weeks ago, DD argued, in relationship to an author's claim that oil dollars increased tyranny worldwide, that:

"Cheap oil made [for American] bad government. Expensive oil made for worse. Cynically, one might be led to believe that a half decade long cratering of the US economy and the subsequent potential draw down on the price of oil might actually be a good thing for the purposes of democratization and slowing greenhouse gas generation."

It's also possible that a long economic catastrophe will lead to some form of awful government in the US, one superseding the administration of Barack Obama. However, on balance, your host's belief is that a bad economy, combined with a tight credit market for expensive building projects, are what would be the right thing -- long term -- for the creation of a rational energy policy.

Americans still believe that energy independence from Middle Eastern fossil fuel can be had by a combination technological magics (which will probably never be delivered) and increased production in the United States. All of it aimed at restoring the economy to say, what it was, in 2004. If there's an actual political will to practically and seriously deal with global warming at the Federal level, it's still far from getting out of the station.

It's politically impossible to tell the American public that renewable energy schemes and technologies for squeezing every last drop of fossil fuel out of the earth inside our boundaries, all peddled like fads on the evening news, are not solutions of the magnitude necessary to deal with our problem.

And what we really need to start getting used to is a radical contraction in energy usage, one not made nice feeling by full page Chevron newspaper ads of some bearded guy with "I Will Use Less Energy" scribbled over his face.

"Rich is proposing utilizing new technology for the gasification of existing waste coal intermingled with traditional biomass feedstock to produce an abundant supply of domestic liquid transportation fuels that will displace the foreign oil we are importing at the rate of $1 billion per day," reads the press release.

There is no usable biomass in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. And even if there were, this still does nothing to dispose of the carbon dioxide produced by the industrial scheme used to derive liquid fuel from it.

Fortunately, advertisements have started running on cable, TV spots which purport to show the technology for sequestering carbon dioxide from clean coal plants. The camera shows a smirking man in a field of rocks and trash weeds, a pretty accurate portrayal of the current state of affairs.

"A $400 million coal gasification plant proposed for the Good Spring area would join just two existing U.S. plants that use the same technology, according to the U.S. Department of Energy," reported the Pottsville Republican, a newspaper in Schuylkill County, recently.

Good Spring, like Gilberton, is another poor community, situated between the Pine Grove and Williams Valley public school districts. There is no infrastructure there nor much in the way of jobs or even a "town." It is simply near more waste coal piles in an area where just about anything which furnishes even meager employment is considered a godsend.

One can view the Republican article as a corporate fishing expedition, one aimed at getting other people to contribute heavy funding. The private backers for this different clean coal plant (and it's distinct from the still to be built but languishing facility slated for Gilberton about half a county's width away to the east) don't yet have the money for their project and are unlikely to get it from the US government.

However, a Canadian company -- one involved in digital media, Immersive Media Corp., is said to have "made a $5 million investment for start-up costs on the plant."

Does it sound like a pig in a poke? Sure it does.

The Pottsville newspaper interviews some spokesman who insists the plant will use "advanced technology" and be very clean.

"[A source] declined to name the technology providers for the plant because they had not signed contracts, but said developers had agreements with two providers that have several commercialized technologies available to them," reported the newspaper.

Reading between the lines, because the story is so based on theoretical outcomes -- plant start dates are potentially around 2011 -- one might be led to think that the potential builders and operators are desperate.
RICK WARREN & OLD TETANUS: Two of a kind, separated only by geography, relative wealth and fame

"Evolution and Darwin has taken man away from being God’s creation and placed him outside the spiritual realm," thundered Tetanus from his blog pulpit in Bethlehem yesterday.

"The fact that man is allowed to believe he came from a prime evil [sic] pool of soup and a single cell of nothing is enough to open up doors to evilness that would normally not be there."

You see, dear readers, our fall from grace has been all the fault of Charles Darwin.

"You're not an accident" is a bromide mega-famous evangelical pest preacher Rick Warren is famous for.

Google it and one finds it was put on a coffee cup by Starbucks around the time a judge tossed the teaching of creationism (sold as intelligent design) out of science class at the Dover school district in southern Pennsylvania.

But the big quote circulating today is the Warren laugher, emitted on Larry King Live:

"... [Here's] an interesting thing I have to ask. How can you believe in Darwin's theory of evolution and homosexuality at the same time? Now think about this. If Darwin was right, which is survival of the fittest, then homosexuality would be a recessive gene because it doesn't reproduce and you would think that over thousands of years that homosexuality would work itself out of the gene pool."

The antipathy of Christian evangelicals to the gay community is no surprise. Warren is vigorously opposed to gay marriage in California.

What's more interesting and deplorable is the twisted confabulation in which his homophobia is used to get at another evangelical bogeyman -- Charles Darwin.

Earlier this week the Los Angeles Times ran a story about how the Obama administration was going to restore the role of sound science's contribution to policy making.

While Rick Warren is only giving the invocation, Barack Obama could do a lot better.

Rick Warren is the modern-seeming gentle-voiced version of the weird and retro white crank demographic now dominating the Republican Party. It's America's screwed-up all too recent past, one afraid of the future and people unlike it, insisting it is fighting to prevent the downfall of everything we must hold dear in a culture war being won by the infidels. It's evidenced in the commercials for gold (shilled by trusty R. Gordon Liddy), Cristy Lane CDs and services and drugs for the old, white, decrepit and fearful which dominate Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox. The only major differences between Rick Warren and the Lehigh Valley's Old Tetanus are ones of tone, platform and bank account size.

Religious leaders like Rick Warren only make it harder for progressives with faith. He creates an impression, maybe a legitimate one, that the country -- despite a landmark election -- is still seriously fossilized when it comes to reconciling belief in God with tolerance and science.

"Evolution, Darwin, Socialism, Marxism, all do away with God, Jesus Christ as man’s savior and turns man’s life from freedom through obedience to God into slavery to the State," continues Tetanus before wishing readers a Merry Christmas and for the Lord to provide "peace and safety" to all in the coming year.


I can see dinosaurs from my back porch!

Liberals believe in ghosts -- because their faith in an awesome God is insufficient.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CATCHING UP AT EL REG: Recent pieces

World at Risk, the final report of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, received a good build-up. Its publicity stretched from reports outlining a draft of it in the Washington Post over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, with more news and private and public briefings the following week. We are, the general consensus went, in deadly danger.

The Houston Chronicle was one newspaper which took the grim pronouncement and made it worse, amplifying the fear and claiming, a little imprecisely, that the commission's message was "The United States can expect a terrorist attack using nuclear or more likely biological weapons before 2013 ..."

Read the rest of the analysis at el Reg here.

On a theme related to DD's posts on the genus -- obsolete white American crank (and/or Ted Nugent) -- you'll surely enjoy "Tell Santa to bring more assault rifles" -- here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TED GUNS DOWN UNION MEN: All chances of Michigan governorship kaput!

Since Ted Nugent's main public career is now as one of the most vocal right wing cranks of the GOP, it comes as no surprise that -- like most Republicans -- he's profoundly anti-union and against the working stiff, while pretending to be the opposite.

Naturally, Ted still refers to himself as the Motor City Madman. (Although some think he should quit that.)

And although the Nuge professed to be interested in running for governor of Michigan as late as 2006, realistically, he has about as much chance now of making friends and influencing people in Detroit as Kentucky nutcase Jim Bunning. [1]

"Filing Chapter 11 protection protects [General Motors] from itself," writes Nugent equably in his regular column at the official journal for white Republican crazy people, Human Events.

The Nuge is adamantly opposed to bailing out Detroit because Chapter 11 "could free GM from costly labor contracts, provide them the opportunity to restructure hugely expensive pension programs, and renegotiate health benefits."

"While the UAW may believe GM, Ford and Chrysler are in business to provide automotive workers a salary and other costly benefits, the reality is that car companies are in business to make a profit. Period. Write that down."

Such sentiments doubtless play well in Michigan's Keewenaw and Luce counties where John McCain handily beat Barack Obama. However, between the two, they only bring in about 1500 votes.

On the other hand, Wayne, Washtenaw and Genesee counties went roughly 70-30 for the Democrat. Detroit, Flint and Ann Arbor cannot now be fond of Ted. And that's the whole ballgame.

Ted knows this and one presumes it's why he now lives in Crawford, where he contributes weird but amusing opinion pieces for the Waco Tribune in between the oldies tour circuit.

Nuge, long known as an excessive horndog -- in other words, a sex addict of sorts -- writes rapturously of his wife as a bow hunter in a recent column for the newspaper.

"Now, add to this inspiring setting, that same special light glimmering upon the flowing blond locks of a svelte young woman next to me. I am here to tell you that I am not sure I can control myself," states Ted. "... I simply must look to the heavens and pray. Truly, I am not worthy."

"This is how I know conclusively that God must love me madly, for I get to repeat this dream numerous times each fall and winter as the humble guide, servant/vidcam dude for the world's sexiest bowhunter: Mrs. Backstrap, my gorgeous wife, the queen of the forest, Shemane."

While Ted may think he is so lucky as to not be worthy of his wife's attentions, like many famous people he is not above sampling a little sub rosa or even in flagrante poontang.

"Strange salute: Ted Nugent, who performed a guitar solo for the national anthem, expressed his patriotism in an odd way," wrote a Dallas Morning News journo recently.

"The gals who held the huge American flag marched by Nugent on their way off the field at the end of the performance. He gave the last lady a firm pat on the posterior."

"As recording artists experiment with all manner of digital media to reach their fans, a few are engaging in a centuries-old practice -- writing books," went a recent piece from Billboard magazine, addressing Ted's "Ted, White & Blue," published by the right-wing crank bookmaker, Regnery.

"Ted Nugent's 'Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto,' a polemic about politics, has sold 24,000 copies since it arrived October 7 and is No. 28 on the New York Times' Hardcover Nonfiction best-seller list."

However, while sales of 24,000 copies may seem great, it's a drop of lukewarm urine compared to the millions of records Nugent sold in the Seventies. And this writer is certain there's little crossover between people who actually buy books "written" by Ted and those who bought his records or now attend his ag fair shows.

"The book sales haven't translated into increased record sales ... " adds Billboard.

The Billboard piece article maintains that book contracts are modest by the standards of former arena rockers.

"A typical advance for an established musician is a few hundred thousand dollars," a publishing source told Billboard's reporter. "The advance is generally about 20 percent of what the publishers expect a good book will generate."

This still seems like a fair amount of money for what amounts to a novelty item very few people will 'fess up to having read a year or two after buying it.

(I used to catch my dad reading trash like Mandingo and "Masters of Falconhurst" in the early Seventies, books he'd hide away in a closet whenever the neighbors were about to come by. Although something like "Ted, White and Blue" is non-fiction, it's a book of quality in the same way that Fifties-made fiction for white men about sex between plantation owners and slaves, fisticuffs and torture made for books of quality.)

Approximating $25/hardback, Regnery has then made about $600,000 gross on "Ted, White & Blue."

Sales of 24,000 would have merited Nugent being summarily dropped by a major label in the Seventies.

Another publication for right-wing nutjobs feigning sanity, the City Journal, featured an article by a conservative book reviewer who admitted to some heartburn over the success of "Ted, White and Blue."

"William Regnery once told his publisher son, 'If you ever begin to make any money in that business you are going into, you can be pretty sure that you are publishing the wrong kind of books,"
writes the reviewer

"Regnery is now highly profitable, and the elder Regnery’s words loom over such titles as Chuck Norris’s Black Belt Patriotism and Ted Nugent’s Ted, White, and Blue."

However, Ted's entertainment value -- if we are to ignore his music and focus on his life, which is what his book writing career implies fans ought to do -- is still great simply because he's a riotously amusing hypocrite.

Perhaps the best laundry list of Ted's contradictory life was compiled and published in the British newspaper, The Independent, two years ago before a Nugent concert in Milton Keynes, Britain.

The newspaper took the full measure of the Nugent experience, noting dryly that Ted was even too far right for the Daily Telegraph. The article pointed out that Ted is a former draft dodger who advocates for war as well as a family man fond of professing fidelity while paying child support to a woman he had a productive affair with ten years ago.

"British police who don't want to carry firearms are, Nugent says, 'out of their minds," reads the newspaper interview. " 'I say if somebody robs you, shoot 'em. I'd like all thieves killed. And all rapists. And carjackers. No more graffiti. No more...' - this next phrase is a Spoonerism, rather than some Texan term for gross indecency - 'snatch-pursing.' "

"Snatch-pursing" -- perhaps picked up from Ted's Crawford, Texas, neighbor George W. Bush. (The interview was conducted in Texas.)

One thing is absolutely certain: Without a sense of humor, you can't survive Ted Nugent.

"The more you see of Nugent, the more the question presents itself: how did he get to be like this?" the reporter asks himself.

"We sit down to talk on his front porch. Ted fetches iced tea, and - I think because this feels too civilised, and British - takes off his shirt."

By the end of the trip to see Ted, the reporter admits to liking him despite the lorry full of nonsensical contradictions rolling about in the guy's head:

"... [In] some odd way, I find Ted Nugent impossible to dislike: I think because I consider him to be a psychotic - by the classic definition that he does not perceive the world as others do."

Ted Nugent -- off his rocker.

The Nuge's child support payments.

1. "Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) had a Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Tigers, but he is not welcome in Michigan these days," USA Today reported yesterday. "After helping to derail an auto-industry loan package in the Senate on Thursday night, the Kentucky senator was kicked off the schedule Sunday of a sports-card show in Taylor, Mich. Fans would have paid $35 for Bunning to sign a baseball and $55 to sign a bat."

Ted on terrorism -- Our defenselessness is all the fault of pussy bureaucrats in New York City

Terrorism and security experts all expect America to be hit again soon. While I salute President Bush, our intelligence agencies and lawmen who have prevented these monsters from attacking us for eight years, we all know such an event is not a matter of "if" but "when." Therefore, it is incumbent for our laws to allow us the means to protect ourselves from these terror monsters ... Imagine terrorists simultaneously attacking a number of hotels in Manhattan, or an event at Madison Square Garden or Central Park. As good as they are, it would take hours or days for the New York City's finest to kill or capture all of the terrorists ... Thanks to its well-body-guarded mayor and other anti-freedom bureaucrats, New York City residents would be as helpless as the victims in Mumbai.

Ted Nugent -- from the archives.

Friday, December 12, 2008


In the mid-Eighties DD recorded an album -- called Arrogance -- entirely on a 4-track cassette machine called the Fostex X-15. It was a bit larger than a standard dictionary and employed the two stereo sides of an audio cassette as a small format four-track tape reel.

At the time, it seemed quite a bit of technology to pack into a box. Along with two Scholz Rockman headphone amps -- one for guitar and one for bass -- it was the basis for a recording studio you could fit in a satchel.

In the Lehigh Valley in the mid-Eighties, there really weren't any recording studios that could be trusted with your money for the recording of rock 'n' roll. While some were professional businesses, they mostly survived doing commercial work and non-rock projects. They would, however, gladly take any rock band's money and return something substandard.

Even the two most popular independently made records -- Steve Brosky's "Do the Dutch" and Daddy Licks' "I Got Wheels" suffered slightly at the hands of the local recording pros.

Chalk it up to lack of incentive.

In the Eighties, in theory, major labels had incentive when they sent their new signings into studios to make records. Most of them, most of the time, wanted to make their money back and then some, thus ensuring the artist wasn't entirely jobbed during the recording process.

Local studios had no incentive, particularly when their bread 'n' butter work wasn't popular music. Their incentive was in the opposing direction: Getting you out of the place as quickly as possible while getting the least done.

Ergo the popularity of things like the Fostex X-15 and Rockman headphone amps among struggling musicians. The Fostex became perhaps the most popular portable cassette recorder/musician's notebook ever. The Rockman headphone amps, which delivered studio-produced sound, sold like hotcakes.

While you still couldn't get Dark Side of the Moon pro recording studio quality at home, with a lot of patience and careful work you could get much better results than any of the usual local professional nuisances provided. And any shortfalls in hi-fidelity could be made up, or exceeded, with the enthusiasm that comes from making music in an environment where you know the paid help isn't out to subvert you.

Now we've almost come full circle. Since most young people have decided they don't want to pay for music, ever, once again the major labels are one of the only places one can get rock 'n' roll recordings that don't sound like crap done. For instance, the labels still have (an even more desperate) incentive to make the artists sound good. To your host, this is baldly obvious on almost everything that comes out of Nashville. Even if one doesn't like the tunes on the CD, the recordings always sound fantastic.

On the other hand, a lot of independent music making has suffered at the hands of the freetard mentality. While the ease of recording it has been put into the hands of everyone, there's no longer any incentive to buy individual artists other than in small handfuls. And that's become mostly dependent on who is the most effective at social networking and logrolling.

Nevertheless, in twenty plus years the technology of making music has changed so much for the better that if you'd told young DD what was going to be available by 2008, he would have thought you were crazy.

The Fostex X-15 cost something over three hundred dollars over two decades ago. Both Rockman amps -- for guitar and bass -- in their earliest forms cost a bit over two hundred a piece, I think.

Now, thanks to digitization and 'made in China' slave labor you can have orders of magnitude in capability well in excess of what was possible in 1985. And a lot more cheaply.

Which brings us to a demonstration, courtesy of something called the Korg Pandora.

DD has two of these boxes -- the PX4D and the newer PX5D. They are the size of cigarette packs, the first made of black plastic, the latter made of brushed aluminum.

Essentially, they're both a rock 'n' roll band in a box. They do guitars, bass and even reasonably righteous sounding drum loops if you have the patience to stitch it all together by pushing very small buttons while squinting at a small liquid crystal display.

DD could go on forever about how much he enjoys them and what they can do. But it's just easier to post an example.

The tune is called "The Heevahava Overture." Split into three parts, it goes from a thumping Foghat riff straight from the early Seventies, to a whimsical bit of Emerson, Lake & Palmer ... and finally winds up with a country jam. Lots of different guitars were played, but only Korg Pandoras provided amplification, bass, drums and effects.

The Heevahava Overture. Running time: About two and a half minutes.

Make a DD EP! Use these other tracks made in the recent past, as well as one from the old Fostex X-15.

Hooray for the Salvation Army Band.

Highway Patrol -- twenty years ago on the Fostex X-15.

I Think We Should Make a Carla Sandwich -- made with another band in a box, The Roger Linn Adrenalinn.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A NEW LOW: LA Times publishes drivel from Discovery Institute

Perhaps in a lame attempt to shake things up and appear edgy, today the Los Angeles Times' featured guest editorial was a piece of rubbish on ghosts and faith, delivered by David Klinghoffer, a fellow at the Discovery Institute.

Readers should know the Discovery Institute is well-known haven for right wing cranks intent on trying to shove the teaching of creationism into public schooling and generating "controversies" disputing Darwin's theory of evolution.

Of course, they don't see it quite that negatively.

This recent opinion piece pretty much sums up what the Disovery Institute is about:

"To the chagrin of the science thought police, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law an act to protect teachers who want to encourage critical thinking about hot-button science issues such as global warming, human cloning, and yes, evolution and the origin of life," writes some Discovery Institute ninny for the National Review Online, another haven for right wing crankery.

"Opponents allege that the Louisiana Science Education Act is 'anti-science.' In reality, the opposition’s efforts to silence anyone who disagrees with them is the true affront to scientific inquiry."

Yeah, sure.

At one time or another, the Discovery Institute has probably been condemned by every legitimate scientific organization concerned with education in the United States. And it's fair to say that the Discovery Institute has been a menace to the teaching of science and critical thinking in this country.

So what does the Times opinion piece deal with?


Here's the nut of it: If your faith is "pallid," writes Klinghoffer, you're more likely to believe in them. That's because your religious life isn't up to snuff and since humans need to believe in something, when the true faith is lacking, one is more likely to believe in ghosts and the paranormal.

"Indeed, US polling data from Gallup, reported by Baylor University researchers, shows that belief in the occult is more common among non- or infrequent church-goers or those belonging to liberal Protestant denomination than it is among frequent churchgoers and conservative evangelicals," claims Klinghoffer.

It's worth mentioning that Baylor University just happens to be one of those venues known to be chock full of frequent churchgoers and conservative evangelicals. (Who used to hate dancing, too.)

"Religious leaders representing respectable faiths, intimidated by secular prejudice, may wish to take note as they scan the empty pews," pronounces Klinghoffer.

Put another way -- insufficiently religious secular scum liberals believe in ghosts, the paranormal and the occult because their churchly life isn't rich, it's "pallid." Clear?

"The company that owns the Los Angeles Times, KTLA Channel 5 and the Chicago Tribune filed for bankruptcy protection today, seeking relief from $12 billion in debt that largely stems from last year's leveraged buyout of the media firm," read a story on the Los Angeles Times website minutes ago.

"Tribune Co. directors approved the action to seek Chapter 11 protection in a meeting today, saying they want to restructure payments to banks and other creditors ..."

The full story is here.

(Reader beware: DD doesn't recommend the LA Times website. In the company's unsuccessful efforts to squeeze blood from stones in cyberspace, it's erected one of the worst reading experiences on the Internet. This particular story will shove one of those vexing ads that inflates under your mouse pointer, blocking the text, through your browser. And the next time your mouse accidentally drifts over it, back it will come. Talk about symbolically signalling one's desire to annoy as many people as possible with bad news about your state of health.)

The Los Angeles Times is owned by Sam Zell, a bona fide rich creep from Chicago who doesn't appear like LA much anymore. Zell and his cronies were all about lording it over the Times when they took over, publicly berating employees, cursing them out and informing them of unobvious things like it's "un-American not to like pussy."

Zell, who has thought of himself as something of an ace mega-businessman, has not even been able to sell one of Tribune's most valuable properties, the Chicago Cubs.

Since the coming of this very small man, the Times has been in a race to the bottom. It has purged employees in a string of firings/layoffs and been divested of its Washington bureau. (The latter happening just after the election.)

In compensation for giving up on things like, well -- control over how future elections and national news coverage of stuff coming out of Washington, it has gone whole hog for character-driven personality pieces which its journalists can option to Hollywood and inflated its features section with meaningless fluff on the latest science-fiction blockbuster movies and the hottest news of goings-on at nearby comic book conventions. It has either driven off or fired many of its best investigative reporters. But it has kept most of the trivial hagiography-writing rock and movie critics, showing readers that some of its own editors seemingly think very little of it, viewing its future as one in which the newspaper is to be transformed into a cheap shopper as quickly and nastily as possible.

Now there may not even be long-term hope for that.

Previously -- on bad happenings at the LA Times.
SO MANY WARS: And we're losing them all

US Losing Global Cyberwar! That's the headline on a mostly ignorable story by Businessweek and others here.

Last week, a catastrophic bioterror attack was guaranteed by 2013, courtesy of another report from a bipartisan blue ribbon commission made up of annoying people.

And the war against obesity? Boy, every week, another thrashing. It's getting so one almost can't get out of bed in the morning.

Almost exactly one decade ago DD wrote about "electronic Pearl Harbor" for Issues in Science and Technology, a publication of the National Academy of Science. It is truly astonishing that so little has changed.

And when your host speaks of change, he doesn't mean the kind advocated by such reports. Rather, there's been little change in the nature of the professional expert business of issuing regular reports on threats, often greatly exaggerated or totally imaginary, which the nation is said to face.

"We need to begin to deal with this cancer," it is claimed in the Businessweek story.

Unintentionally funny, that.

However, the one thing preventing such stories from having the same impact they did in 1998 is this: The upside down economy, on the frontpage everyday. Nothing so focuses the mind as the potential collapse of Detroit and surging unemployment rolls.

One reader astutely notes that this particular report seemed timed to coincide with December 7. (Go ahead, browse this mind-numbing collection of stuff. I dare you.)

Some laughers -- sorry, we mean excerpts from the story:

"The U.S. faces a cybersecurity threat of such magnitude that the next President should move quickly to create a Center for Cybersecurity Operations and appoint a special White House advisor to oversee it. Those are among the recommendations in a 44-page report by the U.S. Commission on Cybersecurity, a version of which will be made public today. The bipartisan panel includes executives, high-ranking military officers and intelligence officials, leading specialists in computer security, and two members of Congress.

"[Someone named] Kellermann describes a behind-the-scenes effort by several members of the commission, five of whom are advisers on President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, to convince him of the need for action "to stop the hemorrhaging of national secrets, proprietary information, and personal data. We need to begin to deal with this cancer."


"The report mentions some of the most severe threats, such as those being faced by U.S. war fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan, only hypothetically. It notes, for instance, that 'the U.S. has a 'blue-force tracking' that tells commanders where friendly forces are located, and then goes on to posit a scenario under which an opponent could turn some of the blue signals to red, a color used to flag adversaries' forces. The implication is that an intruder might, for instance, provoke a so-called friendly-fire incident in which U.S. fighters mistakenly target U.S. personnel.

"Kellermann and other computer security consultants declined to discuss the threat to the U.S. military, though several said they were intimately familiar with it. But Kellermann said it was yet another example of how 'the cyber security threat has really gotten out of control. But it's not only a national security threat. It's an economic security threat.' "