SeaViews: Insights from the Gray
(formerly the _Rochester Rag_, formerly the _News
Motto: The surest way to get a reputation for
being a trouble maker these days is to go about repeating
the very phrases that the Founders used in the struggle for
-- C.A. Beard
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On last month's Fix;
the answer to last month's Fix,
"Should the feds fuse disparate databases for use of
furthering public safety and health?"
No. Of what conceivable use is it to the Center for
Disease Control to track a fast-moving outbreak of ebola to
know the tax status or pending fish and wildlife fines
against an individual? If any of you have saved a copy of
the 1040 Tax instruction booklet from the late 80's, the
opening "Letter from the Commisioner" says things like,
"Last year, your cooperation made our voluntary tax system
the most admired in the world ... blabla And I want to
assure you that Federal Law requires that the IRS keep
private all the information that you send us and it will not
be shared with other departments."
Of course, few people believe anymore the Income
Tax is voluntary (that was a fiction used to pass an
otherwise unConstitutional ammendment), and neither should
you believe that information the govt has on you is held in
a tight little vault that does not communicate with other
tight little vaults. In fact, on Capitol Hill the past few
weeks, we've already heard how "local and federal law
enforcement are sharing information to help track down
terrorist suspect. So Congressmen, please spare us the
heartrending, soul-searching sob stories on the Hill about
whether or not we should shed more liberty "to gain a
temporary safety". The choice is already made and another
link forged in the shackles.
By now, some of you already know, but this will serve as a
general announcement. I have been offered a position back at
Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN. Sheryl and I will be leaving
Washington in May and I start work at Mayo the first week of
Second, Oakland University (my Ph.D. alma mater) was kind
enough to disable and delete all alumni email accounts on
Feb 13 - without any warning. The upshot of this is that I
have lost all personal emails that any of you have sent me
since May 2000 (which was, foolishly, the last time
I backed up the Oakland account to a local store). I'm
hoping that the bulk of you will read this and help me to
reassemble my email list.
Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Johnson has been kind enough to offer this as a
email forwarding address. The guest editorial below was sent
by me to the newspapers in the town around Oakland U.
OU's Students/Alum Deserve Better
by Steve Langer
Current and future alumni of an institution should be
aware of how they can expect to be treated by their alma
mater after they've graduated. This letter details Oakland
Prior to the year 2000, OU held out the carrot of
email accounts to those who would join the alumni
association (and pay the annual dues). In fact, the OU IT
web pages still claim that they carry this service. Many of
us took advantage of this offer, since it can be very
convenient to have a fixed email account by which friends
and family can always find you, regardless of where one
lives or works.
But on 5 April 2000, Linda Oliver (Alumni relations) sent
an email to all OU alumni email account holders that
effective 30 June 2000, all alumni association internet
privileges would be canceled. A part of her letter
On Wed, 5 Apr 2000, Linda Oliver wrote:
> <bold><underline>Internet/E-Mail Access
Privilege to End </underline></bold>
> The University must end the Internet/e-mail access
> homepages now on the Alumni Association or any other
OU site. If you use
> the privilege, you need to identify and secure your
own Internet Service
> Provider (ISP) before that time.
> <bold>>>Alumni Association
members:</bold> Your access ends June 30,
> The university made this membership privilege
available when the
> enrollment and the numbers of alumni was much
smaller. ... As
> the number of students, faculty, staff and
alumni has grown, and the
> number of distance learning and off-campus
instructional sites has expanded,
> resources have been stretched to the limit. ... At
the same time, the University's ISP has
> changed its billing structures, making the alumni
> impossible for the University.
A group of alumni performed the following analysis on the
Saturn cluster user statistics from 15-24 May 2000.
Total number of defined users: 23016
total number of login sessions: 10472
number of dial in sessions: 1611
number of distinct users: 1707
number of "alumni" sessions: 52
number of dial-in "alumni" sessions: 15
We sent the results to Vice President David Disend,
and pointed out that alumni impact on the Saturn cluster was
at most 0.5%. His response basically parrots the
Oliver letter without answering our points, but adds a new
Wed, 03 May 2000 16:19:38 -0500
"David S. Disend" <email@example.com>
>>>As you know, as of May 5, 2000, the Internet
>>> including email and web homepages, will be
closed to all but OU students,
>>>faculty and staff. ... The privilege was
initially offered to Alumni
>>>Association members when student and alumni
numbers were much smaller. ...
>>>At the same time, the university's own Internet
Service Provider, the Merit
>>>Network, has changed the way it bills us.
They now charge per packet of
>>>information going through the network.
Thus, the cost of providing the
>>>service to alumni far outstrips the income from
Alumni Association dues.
>>>Finally, any benefits the university provides
for the $30 tax-deductible
>>>Alumni Association dues must take into account
IRS regulations. With the
>>>value of the Internet access, the
tax-deductibility of the dues comes into
>>>question. Additionally, we cannot raise
the fee for OUAA membership to
>>>cover the cost of Internet access. Not all
OUAA members are interested in
>>>the Internet benefit and at this time Oakland
University is not able to
>>>act as an Internet Service Provider.
>>>David S. Disend
The Disend letter makes three claims.
1. Email will stop on May 5, 2000 (Oliver said June
2. Merit Charges OU by the packet
3. Free email endangers OU's tax exempt status with the
The claim that Merit (OU's internet service provider)
charges OU "by the packet" is patently false, as a May
2000 phone call to Merit's sales group revealed. An
institution of OU's size would use one or two T3 data lines
for on site connections, for an annual flat fee of $50-100
thousand. For dial in users we have
"MichNet dial-in affiliates pay for dial-in lines at
any of MichNet's dial-in sites. Dial-in affiliates pay a
$1,000 annual fee (this fee is waived for organizations that
are Merit direct connect affiliates); dial-in line pricing
depends on location."
So OU, being a direct connect affiliate should pay
_nothing_ for dial in support.
Point three, that OU cannot offer "free" internet
services because it would endanger OU's tax exempt status
with the IRS, is a red herring. There are numerous free ISPs
(see http://www.all-free-isp.com), demonstrating that OU
does not have an unfair price advantage. And, free email
forwarding services are offered by both Michigan State (see
http://www.msualum.com/membership/benefits.cfm#cool) and the
University of Michigan
In any case, both the May 5, 2000 and June 30, 2000
deadlines came and went - and nothing happened. Two
weeks later - a year - my account was still active. So, this
author came to believe that OU had reversed itself. I
was still using the OU account until on February 13, 2002 -
over twenty months after the deadline(s) - when it was
disabled without warning stranding all email in it.
Calling the IT Helpdesk, the Manager indicated that since
I was no longer a student or employee, it would violate OU's
academic computing software licenses for my account to
continue (ah, so now it's the license excuse ... these
people need to get on the same play book). I gave up,
and requested a simple account archive. The response: "We
cannot provide the tar file for your home directory. This
would require the email account to be open."
Anyone with a shred of experience with the UNIX
"tar" command knows this is absolutely false. And even those
without such experience may ask, "If it is so
imperative to kill alumni accounts that OU cannot risk even
two minutes to archive them due to licensing violations -
why did OU's IT staff wait over 20 months from their
announced deadline to do it?"
Somehow MSU and UM manage to offer email services to
alumni. And while Vice President Disend was concerned
about OU's tax exempt status being at risk by offering
cheap email, somehow OU offers over 50% discounts on its
golf course rates to alumni (see
http://www.ougolf.com/accessdw.htm). Yet that does not
violate Disend's concerns about unfair competition and
IRS rules for exempt organizations
The excuses have gone from consuming too many resources,
to violating IRS tax exempt regulations, to licensing
violations. Of these excuses, two are provably false, the
other is applied inconsistently. The OU administration,
alumni association and IT groups demonstrate complete
contempt for the intellect of the very students that their
institution trained. But to be fair, the OU alumni page does
warn us about this kind of treatment.
Membership benefits are subject to change without
notice. Please revisit this site occasionally for the most
Steve Langer, OU PhD 1994 Medical Physics
Associate Professor of Radiology
University of Washington - Seattle
1. David Gay writes;
from: Gay, David [firstname.lastname@example.org]
to: Tue 2/26/02 9:07 AM
Senator "I will serve no more than 2 terms" Wellstone has
kicked off his campaign for a THIRD term in the US Senate.
He has attempted to acquire voter sympathy with the
announcement that he has had a mild case of MS (multiple
sclerosis) for the last few years. It shouldn't effect his
ability to perform his duties as a Senator...
Meanwhile our Governor (no new taxes) Ventura has decided
that legislators who won't vote for his tax increase are
unpatriotic. Ventura does not want to touch the $2 billion
surplus in the bank. I suspect these surpluses have
contributed to the current recession.
For this month's fix;
"Should the US fuse it's different databases to more
easily track people's movements - all in the name of public
health and safety - of course?"
Of course this is a pretty obvious infringement on
personal freedoms. Just going to the doctor could start a
law enforcement investigation of you. Just as stopping at
the gun shop or picking up a pack of cigarettes at the local
convenience store. Combining this with the I-chip could be
worse. Were you go and when you go could become a matter of
public record. I would think this actually violates the 5th
amendments protection against self incrimination.
Now, if the US Government actually did this, I don't
think they would know what to do with all the information.
It would end up being filed just like the Lost Ark of the
Covenant in "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Although, others
outside the government might find ways to accessing the
information for their own purposes.
2. David Gersten encourages us to support the Patriotism
From: David B. Gersten
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2002 4:16 AM
To: Steve Langer
Subject: Check This Out
Give a look :~)
Quote(s) of the month:
"Langer's Law Number 7: Liberals are most generous with
other people's money"
-- In relation to item 1 under Virginia, see below
Fix of the month:
"Should the minimum wage be nationally tied to the
1. Olympia, Feb 20: Gov. Locke is faced with a budget
shortfall, businesses are leaving the state, and we have yet
to repair the cracked viaducts that are barely standing
after last year's "Nisqually" earthquake. The answer: raise
the gas tax 8 cents.
1. St. Paul, Feb 23: Govnr Ventura is taking
ongoing heat from liberal press that the state's financial
short falls are due to his "Jesse Checks" (check refunds
that he sends out every tax season). However, the pundits
neglect to mention that the state still has a $2 Billion
rainy day fund, and other states that don't have tax refunds
are having even greater budget deficits. In fact, all the
states are losing revenue these past 2 quarters. That's why
they call it a recession.
1. Feb. 23: State govnr. Huckabee took alot of heat for
reducing taxes. The liberal arm of his state are convinced
that services will fail - and in the aftermath of 9/11 the
state revenue is off. Well the Govnr. heard those cries. He
has ordered the state IRS group to put up a web page for
donations above and beyond the state required income tax.
Since it's activation in Jan, the voluntary tax web site has
collected just over $300.
1. Feb 20: A bi-partisan piece of legislation called the
Campaign Finance Reform bill is threatening to get to the
president's desk, and he has threatened to sign it. This is
not good. Among the points in it are that candidates would
not be allowed to spend money on adds within 60 days of the
election, thereby crippling challengers, while incumbants
could simply call a press conference to maintain their face
time with the voters. Hence, some wags have come to call it
the "Incumbant Protection Act".
It is clear why incumbants would like it, also the media.
After all, the media can become "king makers" by picking who
they will give free air time to. It is not clear why Bush
would want to sign it. It may be that he wants to deprive
Dems of the issue and hopes the Supreme Court will strike it
2. Feb 25: Another bill is afoot that would quietly kill
numerous people and ban SUVs. Of course, it's not called the
Murdering and SUV Banning bill (there is, after all, no
truth act for law naming), but this will be its effect. The
bill is set to raise the CAFE (Corporate Average Fleet
Economy) to 37.5 mpg. The last time such a bill was
introduced (under the Clinton Admin) the CAFE standard was
raised to 28 mpg but pickup trucks, vans and SUVs were
exempted. The National Transporatation Safety board
said that as a result of bulding lighter, less strong
vehicles that complied, an estimated additional
1800-2500 people have died each year in accidents since its
enactment. This time, the authors intend to include pickups,
vans and SUVs to there will be no loopholes for those who
want safer vehicles.
Some deep thoughts to ponder ...
Subject: Carlin Chuckles
>> 1. If you take an Oriental person and spin him
> > several times,does he become disoriented?
> > 2. If people from Poland are called Poles, why
> > people from Holland called Holes?
> > Why do we say something is out of whack? What's a
> > 3. Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults
> > adultery?
> > 4. If a pig loses its voice, is it
> > 5. If love is blind, why is lingerie so
> > 6. When someone asks you, "A penny for your
> > and you put your two cents in . . . what happens
> > other penny?
> > 7. Why is the man who invests all your money
> > broker?
> > 8. Why do croutons come in airtight packages?
> > they just stale bread to begin with?
> > 9. When cheese gets its picture taken, what does
> > 10. Why is a person who plays the piano called a
> > but a person who drives a race car not called a
> > 11. Why are a wise man and a wise guy
> > 12. Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite
> > 13. Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety
> > 14. "I am" is reportedly the shortest sentence in
> > English language. Could it be that "I do" is the
> > sentence?
> > 15. If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen
> > doesn't it follow that electricians can be
> > musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models
> > tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners
> > 16. If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they
> > Fed UP?
> > 17. Do Lipton Tea employees take coffee
> > 18. What hair color do they put on the driver's
> > of bald men?
> > 19. I was thinking about how people seem to read
> > Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it
> > on me . .they're cramming for their final
> > 20. I thought about how mothers feed their babies
> > tiny little spoons and forks so I wondered what
> > Chinese mothers use? Toothpicks?
> > 21. Why do they put pictures of criminals up in
> > Office? What are we supposed to do, write to them?
> > don't they just put their pictures on the postage
> > so the mailmen can look for them while they
> > mail?
> > 22. If it's true that we are here to help others,
> > what exactly are the others here for?
> > 23. You never really learn to swear until you
> > drive.
> > 24. No one ever says, "It's only a game" when
> > is winning.
> > 25. Ever wonder what the speed of lightning would
> > it didn't zigzag?
> > 26. Last night I played a blank tape at full
> > mime next door went nuts.
> > 27. If a cow laughed, would milk come out her
> > 28. Whatever happened to Preparations A through
> > 29. Do people who spend $2.00 apiece on those
> > bottles of Evian water know that spelling it
> > is NAIVE.
> > 30. Isn't making a smoking section in a restaurant
> > making a peeing section in a swimming pool?
> > 31. OK...so if the Jacksonville Jaguars are known
> > "Jags" and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are known as
> > "Bucs", what does that make the Tennessee
> > 32. If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea...
> > that mean that one fifth enjoy it?