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SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens 
June 2001

(formerly the _Rochester Rag_, formerly the _News from Detroit_)

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 independence.

-- C.A. Beard


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On last month's Fix;

the answer to last month's Fix,
"Should politicians be allowed to be elected under one party, then change parties in office without standing for reelection (as Phil Gramm did when he went from Dem to Rep)?"


 Reader Dave Dubey writes some good point below. He says, and I concur, that voters ought to know the philosophy of those they vote for - therefore (as in the case of the Jeffords) voters ought to have know that Jeffords really votes on the Dem side most of the time anyway. Dave then goes on to say that this trick should be used by Libertarians (ie masquerade as Dems to get in, the change party in office).

Of course, the problem with this idea is, the voters don't know who they are voting for by and large. If they did, the masquerade trick could not work. In fact, it probably would work -which goes to my point. That without a handy label, most voters don't know what they are getting. They rely on that label, for better or worse, and to not have it be reliable undermines elections.

As for the closing quote Dave uses, Alexis deToqueville wrote something similar in his book "Democracy in America". He said, "democracy will work until politicians learn they can bribe the electorate with their own money."

On another late issue;
Apologies again. Searching for a house, and last week hosting the American Assoc of Physicists in Medicine Summer School on campus, etc. Hopefully, the issue is worth the wait.

Guest Editorial:

On the Immaturity of Certainty

by Steve Langer

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not much of a true believer, even the Vicar at our Episcopal church. But nor am I a total atheist - if to be so means no belief in something greater then one's immediate perceived reality. Rather, I'm a skeptic agnostic - and I believe any honest thinking person would come to similar conclusions - namely - the idea of an omnipotent personal god as portrayed in the Bible is a uniquely Western cultural perspective. This is not to say that other world religions don't believe in personal deitys or even reincarnation/resurrection. My Indian coworker believes in thousands of gods - and one is her personal protector - Kali. And of course she was a princess in a former life - sadly not this one.

And this is the prime point. If you are a real full blooded Catholic/Baptist/LDS (or other such Christian) you essentially believe that other "non-beliving" peoples of the globe are damned to eternal hell. Some groups are even more selective - in my numerous debates with Jehovas Witnesses, they say that only the 12 tribes will be saved at the end of the world. And each of those tribes contain only 12,000 people. "So you're saying," I asked my Jehova friend, "that only 144,000 people will be saved.And earlier you told me there were over 5 million members of your Church."

"Well", he responded, "if you don't join us you have _no_ chance of salvation." "Ah, I see, salvation is a lottery and if I join your Church the odds are better. Well - you better hope I don't become a better beliver than you - or you will lose your place in the lifeboat." He left my house - oddly.

Of course, other Christians are a little more inclusive. For instance, Catholics say: if you join our church, are baptized, and accept Jesus, you will be saved. And for all those poor heathens in backwaters whom the missionairies have yet to reach - whoops - "You are the weakest link - to Hell with you."

I believe it was Oscar Wilde who, commenting on the Catholic statement that pets don't have souls said, "Any religion that won't let a dog in Heaven is not for me." I think he had something there. In any case, what follows is a dialog between a reader and myself off line. You may find it interesting. First, it may help to understand that Eric forms his ideas based upon the Catechism of the Catholic Church. To whit the following sections:

338: Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator.
The world began when God's word drew it out of nothingness; all existent
beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this
primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and
time begun.

341: The beauty of the universe: The order and harmony of the created
world results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships
which exist among them. Man discovers them progressively as the laws of
nature. They call forth the admiration of scholars. The beauty of
creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire
the respect and submission of man's intellect and will.

346: In creation God laid a foundation and established laws that remain
firm, on which the believer can rely with confidence, for they are the
sign and pledge of the unshakeable faithfulness of God's covenant. For
his part man must remain faithful to this foundation and respect the laws
which the Creator has written into it.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church contain the teachings for about 1
billion Catholics world wide.


Eric writes the following points based upon the above Catechism:

> >>> Hi,
> >>>
> >>> >If matter is unable to create itself, then who created matter?

Note that the point is based on an unproven assertion (as is the entire Catechism). The editor responds with:

This is what I love about religion. The argument goes like this.
> >>1. matter could not create itself
> >>2. something does not come from nothing
> >>3. thus an all powerful, knowing being _somehow_ just exists and
> >>created everything
> >>
> >>if you cannot buy 1, then how can you buy 3??
> >>
> >>Anyway, matter pops out of the vacuum of space all the time. Its what
> >>gives rise to Casimir forces and the so called non-zero-point-energy
> >>of the quantum vacuum.

Eric replies;

> >Hi Steve,
> >
> >Matter "popping" out of the vacuum of space doesn't answer the question of its creation. It is likely that the matter you refer has already been previously created and is moving from one part of space to another. As far as the forces themselves. They only indicate that matter already exists and are influencing it's surroundings.

>> I'm unable to comment on non-zero-point-energy. Please define. Is this related to a conversation a couple of years ago as to the exact moment in time/space of creation? That science has come close to measuring the exact moment of creation. But is unable to get to exact zero? If so, I hope they keep counting down. But when and if they reach "zero" what does that prove? That creation started at "zero" time. It too doesn't address who initiated creation.

>I like your analysis of 1, 2, and 3. If you disagree with your own
> >analysis please provide proof or shall we just look away and ignore
> >the
> >answer? Ignoring the answer is a very easy thing to do.....or shall
> >we
> >just keep counting to zero?

It doesn't matter if the item is a quark or energy, etc...all things were
> created at time "zero". Otherwise why even start counting? The
> existence of an infinitely complex (maybe he's simple, maybe we're the
> ones who make him complicated), all knowing, all seeing being was, is,
> and always will be. He exists both past, present, and future.
> Furthermore, I don't believe this being only exists in man's limited
> conception of normal time and space. In fact, this being is totally
> incomprehensible by man. This being is beyond man's limited
> understanding. But we can sense this being's presence in creation. For
> example, when we look and the night sky with all the stars and gaze in wonder. When we look at a beautiful sunrise and are unable to put into
> words what we're seeing and all we can say is WOW! In these moments, we
> are made aware of this being's presence. Not because we sought this
> experience, but because this being chose to touch our lives.

Whew, there is so much muddled thinking here - but let us try to sort it out point by point.

1. Matter popping out of space does not answer the question of its creation

This statement is absolutely true, and one of the reasons we still study physics. But we will come back to this. If we were truly satisfied with the biblical accounts, we'd have no reason to study further.

2. It is likely that the matter you refer has already been previously created and is moving from one part of space to another.

Background: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle shows how virtual particles come into existence and pop out again, the caveat being that the net energy/mass of the ensemble does not change. An offshoot of this effect allows a real particle to pop out of space-time in one place, and show up somewhere else. This effect is actually practically used all the time, for instance in quantum tunneling diodes. This would seem to go with Eric's point but ...

This has been demonstrated to be _not true_ in this case of the Casmir (and other) effects. The National Inst of Standards, CERN and SLAC have all done experiemnts that show if you put 2 conducting plates very near each other, they feel a net pressure to push together and this is not gravity but is an addition to it. The proof of this is that gravity falls off with the square of the distance between the plates whereas this force drops with the 6'th or higher power.

It is thought that the origin of this is caused by the unequal distribution of virtual particles which are created between and on the outside of the plates. As the distance between plates shrinks - the allowed wave functions and hence virtual quantum particles that can exist between them is less than the number on the outsides of the plates. Hence there is a net force to push them together. Heisenburg is not violated becuase the existence of the particles is not long enough to add mass to the experimental chamber - whose mass is verified to a fraction of an electron mass to remain constant.

But, it is not my job to try to educate 8 years of college physics in one article, for further reading lookup Casmir at for a discussion on zero point energy go to

3. But when and if they reach "zero" what does that prove? That creation started at "zero" time. It too doesn't address who initiated creation.

"Who"? Talk about a loaded and skewed perspective.

Eric, you demonstrate a breathtaking ability to miss the point. Do you really think that thousands of people would spend their lives and billions of dollars to prove that the Universe started at time T=0? They can just define that moment as zero.

The point of that discussion was _not_ to find the exact age of the moment of creation.

The point was that physics can now explain to the Planck Time (when the universe was 10 ^-40 seconds old or so) every process that unfurled the structure of the universe as we know it today.

The point is - we are very close having a model of _why_ the universe in fact exists - and it has something to do with the fact that at the Planck scale, there is a sharp increase in the cosmological constant which give rise to an asymetric anti-gravity force in the false vacuum.. See and and

The point is, we can _today_ explain from the age 10^-40 seconds to the present why atoms, light, galaxies, stars, and planets exist as they do - all without resorting to God.

The point is, the need to resort to God to explain the creation of the Cosmos is now shrunk to a circle whose radius is 10^-40 seconds, and that circle is shrinking more every year (at the beginning of 1900 that radius was about 300,000 years).

The point is, if physics can finish off this last zillonth of a second, we will have a complete explanation for the origin and evolution of the Cosmos - without resorting to a God.

The point is, when that day arrives, you can rip out the book of Genesis from the family Bible.

There - hopefully that was not too subtle.

4. I like your analysis of 1, 2, and 3. If you disagree with your own analysis please provide proof or shall we just look away and ignore theanswer? Ignoring the answer is a very easy thing to do.....or shall we just keep counting to zero?

Can anyone explain what this means?

5. It doesn't matter if the item is a quark or energy, etc...all things were created at time "zero". Otherwise why even start counting? .... He exists both past, present, and future.

So everything exists at time zero? Oh, you mean everything but God does - he just is.

How convenient. You cannot believe that matter comes from nothing, but you find it easier to believe some old white guy with a long beard somehow just is/was/will exist and is all knowing, all loving, cares about all of us (except pets and those the missionaries have yet to reach) and set it all in motion?

This - to me is the pinnacle of self delusion, and is the hallmark of most religions. The inability to believe that a particle can spring into existance without a precondition - but that somehow this infinetly complex being can. This line of reasoning posts two key inconsistencies:

a) everything has a start except God (ie God just is, but somehow the Universe cannot just be)

b) everything in nature starts from the simple and evolves to the complex, except God who comes out full force omnipotent.

6. In fact, this being is totally incomprehensible by man. This being is beyond man's limited understanding.

Eric, be so kind as to explain to our readers how it is that _you_ personally know what is comprehensible to every human that has, does or will ever live. Is it in the Bible? The Catechism?


What it boils to is that most modern day religions at bottom are no different than ancient pagan religions that in ignorance appealed to a Sun god, Wind god, fertility goddess, etc. What cannot be understood is ascribed to magic/religion.

The problem is, different people understand different things to differing amounts. If one can explain the origin of the universe without resorting to the ignorant crutch of a deity - then by Occam's Razor why would one invoke the extra complexity? [But maybe that same person does not understand procreation and ascribes pregnancy to the fertility goddess.]

There is an insidious arrogant ignorance to many religions and their zealots which is - if science is wrong/incomplete on any point -- then religion must be the answer. Furthermore, if the zealot does not understand the science argument, then it must be wrong and again - religion must be right. Of course, since the zealot already knows the answer, why would they bother to learn anything new? Eric hinges this particular argument for the existence of God on the statement that matter cannot create itself (an approximation that works on present day earth) and thus God must have done it. Of course, this only replaces one origin question with another - but magically at that point religios zealots are content to say that God just is.

What I have tried to do in this article is to present ideas that are linked to experimental fact. Things that other people have written about and duplicated. You don't have to take my word for these things - or words that were written by people over 2000 years ago who have been subjected to over 100 generations of subsequent rewrites and translation (all error free to be sure). And even better, if you don't trust me (and why should you?) or thousands of other researchers, you can in fact train yourself and duplicate these findings in your very own lab.

Science is not perfect and we don't have all the answers yet - and that is why it exists. We observe, model, predict with our models and test the predictions. We repeat as required to get the desired prediction accuracy. And most importantly - others should be able to duplicate our results. Anything less is not science. Does this mean that the models are "Truth." No! Any honest scientist will tell you the current theories are just the sum of experimental knowledge to date - subject to updating if a better model is found.

But religion cannot say that. By definition, if the Bible is the word of God, then that's it. Bam, over. You cannot update the book and say, "Well you know, maybe women can be priests or sure - homosexuality is OK." You cannot test God, you cannot make an experiment, stand back and watch a miracle and have others duplicate it. By definition - religion is faith unchanging.

Now, does the argument outlined here (ie if science can demonstrate all the processes that gave birth to the Cosmos) prove the non-existence of God? Well, as rational people know it's damn near impossible to prove a negative outside of pure math. But I would posit that an internally complete scientific explantion of the Cosmic origin points to one of the following;

a) Either God had nothing to do with the creation of the universe, and a God shorn of the creation story is sort of impotent or

b) God is just another word for the creation force, and is not a sentient/omnipotent being

It seems B is more likely. As for personal immortality, I wish it did exist, but there are numerous problems with it (see the Nov. 1999 Scientific American or ). Who would not want the certainty of an afterlife with their loved ones at hand? I would love to know that I will be rewarded for leading a moral life, that the people who I turned the other cheek to will get their just reward, and that the knowledge gained over a lifetime will not leak out of my head as worm food. But I don't have that certainty.

I grew up.


1. Dave Dubey's first entry.

Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2001 13:52:59 EDT
Subject: Question of the month

In response to "Should politicians be allowed to be elected under one party,
then change parties in office without standing for reelection (as Phil Gramm
did when he went from Dem to Rep)?", the answer is yes.  People are supposed
to be voting for a person, not a party.  (But how many people know anything
about who they are voting for?) Anyone who knew Jeffords knew he wasn't
really a Republican anyway.  The question of whether it is ethical is
entirely different.

Besides, this way all libertarians could switch to the Dem party (or
whichever party is dominant in the district) before the election, and then
after elected, switch back.  Incumbants always win, so then there would be a
third party in congress for a while.
Also, an interesting quote I ran into today:

"A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only
exist until voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the
public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the
candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result
that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, followed by a
-- Lord Alexander Tyler on the fall of the Athenian Republic

 - Dave

2. Dave Dubey writes again.

Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2001 21:34:45 EDT
Subject: Global Warming

[ The following text is in the "ISO-8859-1" character set. ]
[ Your display is set for the "US-ASCII" character set. ]
[ Some characters may be displayed incorrectly. ]

This article by Philip Stott was from a speech given in England. It hits the
one point nobody ever seems to notice - That it would be unusual if our
climate wasn't changing (warming or cooling). There is an additional article
on the website where this came from that explains all the players in Kyoto
and why they're pushing it. It's titled "The Baptists and the Bootleggers",
and makes an interesting comparison to the outlawing of selling liquor on
Sundays. I don't know if you've seen this or heard his yet. If you have,
then disregard.

- Dave Dubey

Global Warming
Essay No. 1
'Global Warming: A Debate for All Seasons'
© Philip Stott 2001

The turn-of-the-Millennium discovery that climate changes surely tells us
more about ourselves than about climate.

An unusually sultry day, a summer conflagration in an Athens suburb, bursting
riverbanks in China or Honduras, a Tex-Mex heatwave, or even a
vice-presidential utterance, can all send the world's media into a frenzy of
unalloyed Millennium ecohype. From The Washington Post, through BBC Radio 4's
'Today' programme to The Guardian, journalists who should know a great deal
better revel with abandon in the forthcoming doom of Planet Earth, mapping
floods, fire and fear across a burning globe. And what is more, it is all our
fault (especially the Americans, of course)! Self-flagellation can proceed
apace, as we pump out greenhouse gases, cut down rain forests, burn up Brazil
and Indonesia, and greedily gas-guzzle our dusty way to death along choking
and clogged-up roads. The Garden of Eden is polluted beyond belief, the airy woods of our Golden Age destroyed, and the flames of Hell are licking at the
very door. Oh what a lovely global disaster! How we need it!

In this increasingly self-obsessed, event-driven, 'New Age', we appear to
have lost any ability to see beyond our own brief hour upon the stage. There
is no time for cool reflection about our very transient place in the long
history of the world. We are so bombarded by news, minute on minute, that
each and every reported disaster takes on a vital global significance and
seems to be part of that inexorable environmental Armageddon facing the
Earth. In the 1980s, we were plunging back to an Ice Age or a Nuclear Winter;
currently, we are thermally challenged by this or that degree Centigrade or
Fahrenheit of overheating, and it all ties in with a deep desire for human
guilt with regard to the causes. Somewhat arrogantly, we want it to be our
fault; hence, of course, the recent focus on the gas, carbon dioxide.
Everybody can seemingly blame everybody else's emissions and carbon stores,
with pious Europe (the United Kingdom and Denmark to the fore) pointing the
finger at the USA, the South at the North, or - and the morality here is
frankly disgraceful - the North at the South. We can even bring in those
great 'Green' shibboleths of rain forest destruction, biodiversity loss, forest fires, Brazil and China.

In truth, of course, all this is intrinsically self-indulgent and very
dangerous for the longer-term debate that should be taking place with regard
to environmental change. The climate change question is complicated beyond
imagination and to reduce the arguments to what we are now witnessing is both
to devalue its essential seriousness and to cloud the issues involved. From
the very start, the whole discussion - or perhaps more properly rhetoric -
has been flawed, above all because of the remarkable failure to recognise
that climate change is the norm, and that climate varies at all scales, all
the time, and not just in our 'ever-so-important' lifetime or under human

If climate were not changing, then we really would have something of note to
report. There is no such thing as a stable climate, as the different climate
cycles, ranging from less than a second to tens of thousands of years in
length, impinge constantly one on another. Some 20,000 years ago, we were at
the most recent glacial maximum; things then warmed up, but with lots of
fluctuations; 7,500 years back it was all warm again; then Europe had its 'Little Ice Age'; and so on, ad infinitum. Most recently, scientists at the
prestigious Weizmann Institute in Israel found evidence of a 'natural' global
warming in equatorial Africa that took place between 350 BC and 450 AD;
luckily humans survived this even though The Guardian wasn't around to report
it. And just remember, circa 1200 A.D., it was 2 degrees Celsius warmer than
it is now!

The idea that climate change can be attributed to just one or two politically
chosen factors, such as the so-called 'greenhouse gases', like carbon dioxide
and methane, is simply very bad science. Climate change is controlled by
millions of interlinked factors, ranging from the swish of a butterfly's
wing, through 11- and 22-year solar magnetic cycles, volcanism,
ocean-atmospheric linkages, sunspot activity, shorter duration wobbles of the
Earth, to 96,000-year orbital changes and even intermittent meteor impacts.
The intrinsic complexity of all these myriad links still totally defeats our
climate modellers, many of whom cannot even account for the variation of
water vapour, the most important greenhouse gas of all, and this means that
climate change remains largely unpredictable. Moreover, this inherent unpredictability should warn us that, when, God-like, we try to adjust one or
two of the factors involved, such as greenhouse gas emissions, our very best
intentions may bring about results we neither expect nor want. We have no
knowledge of how the tiny changes we initiate may interact with all the other
ever-changing cycles.

But perhaps more importantly, we have forgotten that causality is not a law
that Nature obeys, but the way in which the propositions of science and
knowledge are cast. Unfortunately, in the somewhat heated greenhouse-warming
debate, the propositions are largely based on comparison and association, and
association between 'facts' and figures is notoriously dangerous as a key to
understanding 'process'. One person's correlation is another person's
nonsense; this group of scientists will claim a close association with the
rising curve for carbon dioxide, another with changes in cloud cover linked
to sunspot activity. The arguments can go on endlessly, each proponent
espousing their ultimately untestable association and positing this or that
degree of climate change. We talk earnestly about finding which factor is
'forcing' change, but the very short climate record for which there are any
meaningful statistics further compounds the problem, so that there is no realistic chance of isolating the influences of the many different factors
involved. Under such circumstances, protagonists simply seek the association
that best supports their initial prejudices and they argue this to be 'fact'
under all circumstances. In television debates, extreme environmentalist
speakers seem prone to chant a near religious mantra of "3 degrees, 3
degrees" whatever points the other participants in a discussion are making.

Above all, however, there has been a total failure to grasp that prediction
and climate 'control' are not the traditional ways by which human beings have
coped with climate change. In the past, humans have survived change by
adaptation and movement, and, whatever happens to greenhouse gas emissions,
we will have to do so again in the future, developing new crops through
biotechnology, new forms of engineering and habitation, and by recognising
that we will not be able to afford to defend all our human habitats against
change. British MPs in Committee rightly concluded that the economics of our
long-term defences against sea-level rise were simply not tenable. I wonder
how they will cope in Santa Monica?

What is desperately needed now is not the cartoon rhetoric of Al Gore, or Greenpeace mantras, or the uncritical agenda set by sensation-seeking or politically-motivated reporters, but the development, at a local, national,
regional, and global scale, of radical and innovative approaches to risk
assessment in the face of all environmental change, and not just climate
change. In making this assessment, we must accept that unpredictable,
gradual, and sudden change all constitute the very essence of things, and
take into account the fact that such changes so often affect the poor and the
disadvantaged differentially from the rich. When the tidal wave hits Seattle,
we won't all be able to survive it along with Frasier in his penthouse
apartment - how he must hope that Niles is in the coffee shop below! We must
also acknowledge that there is no such thing as stability, that, in the end,
climate 'means' are largely 'meaningless', and that what we regard as
'extremes' are probably the 'norms' of a disequilibrium world.

Climate will always change, warming or cooling, becoming drier or wetter,
while rivers flood, volcanoes erupt, and seas rise or fall. How, and in what
practical ways - as a world community -, can we help the human populations
facing such changes? How can people migrate when confronted by a sudden or
catastrophic change in a world that has increasingly fixed and protected political boundaries? How can we deal with the human consequences of inevitable change, from the disadvantaged souls living below a Caribbean
volcano in Montserrat to the movie stars of Malibu, as their dollar-rich real
estate finally slithers and slides into the Pacific Ocean?

All this is why the current debate on greenhouse warming is so dangerous. The
crass and simplistic agenda is both wrong and unhelpful. First, it prevents
the science from being discussed in a rational and sensible manner, with all
the lines of evidence taken into account; more importantly, it distracts us
from facing up to the serious economic, social, and political issues that
ultimately need to be addressed with regard to the management of risk in the
face of change.

We desperately need a debate for all seasons, hot, cold, wet, or dry, and one
that focuses, not on humans as the evil forces behind change, but on humans
as the victims of change, especially the poor and the oppressed. By contrast,
from Kyoto onwards to this November and The Hague, our media have given us
only fire and flood, doom and despair. I have increasingly felt like that old
6th Century BC philosopher, Heracleitus, as he looked down on the folly of the Ephesians from his cave high in the mountains: remember folks, "All is
flux, nothing is stationary."

Quote(s) of the month:

"When you take that many long-suffering, war-torn groups and put them in the same place, how can you not
have peace?"
-- Jimmy Carter (see Net News below)

Fix of the month:

"Our local Indian reservations sell fireworks. The interesting thing is, the fireworks stands are decorated with US Flags. Odd?"


New York;

1. NY City, 6 July: The Wall Street Journal reports that despite drops in interest rates, markets and housing starts continue to slide. A recession is certainly underway.This would seem to indicate the need for speed in adopting atxt cuts.

2. July 2: Over 40 states are proposing to ban the use of cell phones by drivers while driving. Bans have already gone into effect around NY CIty and in Ohio. While statistics are still thin, it appears that cell phone use is a cause of at least as many driving accidents as drinking, although MADD has yet to call for the ban.


1. Pensacola, July 7: An 8-year-old boy remains in critical condition after surgeons worked through the night to reattach his arm, which was bitten off during a shark attack in Pensacola, Florida yesterday. A park service official said the boy's uncle dove into the water and pulled the boy and the 250-pound, six and a half foot shark to the shore. The uncle then wrestled the shark on the beach where a park ranger shot it three times in the head.

Shark experts say shark attacks on humans are rare, but bull sharks, the species that attacked the boy, are one of the most aggressive sharks and are responsible for some of the most serious injuries because of the way their jaws are constructed. There were 79 recorded shark attacks worldwide last year, with nearly half taking place in Florida. Only ten of those attacks were fatal

New Hampshire;

1. 3 July: A man rented a car from ACME and when he recieved the resulting charge card bill was surprised by an extra charge of $450 dollars. Unbeknownst to the renter, the GPS equipped car also radioed back to ACME whenever the vehicle exceeded 77 MPH, to the tune of $150 per incident. Confronted, ACME spokesperson responded with, "It's company policy to help the state police enforce speeding laws - it's speeled out in the contract." [In the extra fine print part.]

The renter ran this through the state supreme court and they found that a private business dod not have the right to charge fines in place of police. However, the court was silent on the issue on whether the cars could be made to radio police of their location and speed once a speeding incident was under way.

Washington D.C.

1. 5 July: The national average price of fuel has dropped over $.10, and this at a time when the proce usually peaks for the summer vacation season.
Ed: Since the press was quick to point out that Bush Jr. was pro-oil and his friends in the industry would benefit from higher prices, I wonder if they will be as quick to note the proce downturn.

2. July 3: In Europe for another leadership meeting, Bush Jr. continues to decline that that the US willl not participate on the Kyoto pollution accords. However, this is not news, as the Congress under Clinton already voted down the proposal and only one European country voted in favor of it. The world now waits to see how Japan will vote.

3. The McCain-Fiengold incumbant protection Act, excuse me, Campaign Finance Reform Act, got another boost when the Supreme Court last month upheld the "right" of states to limit the amount of $$ that a state party can spend in the election support of its candidates. This clears the way for McCain-Feingold to copy the language of those state bills, and get away with limiting free speech.

Net News;

1. From the Onion

  UNITED NATIONS--In a bold gambit hoped to resolve dozens of conflicts around the world, the U.N.
announced Monday the establishment of Ethniklashistan, a multinational haven in the West Bank that will serve as a
new homeland for Irish Protestants, Hutus, Serbs, and other troubled groups.

      "For far too long, these groups have been locked in prolonged strife with their former
neighbors, unable to achieve a lasting peace," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. "Now that
these various peoples have a new homeland where they can find refuge, all the years of fighting and
bloodshed can finally be put behind them."

      Former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, now presiding over a Serb settlement near the
Jordanian border, was optimistic about the future. "All Muslim scum must die," he said. "Death to all
enemies of Serbian purity!"

      The various groups, transported to Ethniklashistan by a massive U.N. airlift, will share
their new homeland with the roughly two million Palestinians and Israeli settlers who currently
occupy the region. U.N. officials say the West Bank site was chosen for its centralized location,
opportunities for tourism, and comfortable desert climate. These factors, combined with the already
diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious composition of the area, offer "a unique opportunity for many international groups to live together in peace."

      "This is truly a win-win situation," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said. "War-ravaged peoples from all
over the world finally have a place they can feel safe. And, for the Palestinians and Israelis already there, the
presence of additional ethnicities should reduce any pre-existing stresses. Arabs and Jews will enjoy exposure to a
glorious, multiethnic stew, and they will, in turn, have the opportunity to lead by example, serving as role models of
peaceful coexistence."

      Hutu leader Kagabo Ndadaye, who between 1994 and 1996 personally oversaw the machete deaths of more
than 10,000 Tutsi Rwandans, echoed the positive outlook. "The glorious Hutu are the one pure race," said
Ndadaye, speaking from a Hutu settlement near Hebron while eyeing a nearby Kurdish settlement. "All inferior
mongrel peoples shall be put to the blade."

      Though hopes are high for Ethniklashistan--a name created by a team of linguists who combined 17 different
languages' words for "sanctuary"--the establishment of the new homeland has proven rocky. Of the more than
500,000 people relocated there so far, approximately 97 percent have responded with violent resistance, swearing
oaths of eternal vengeance against U.N. volunteers conducting the forced relocations.

      Bloodshed also marred the "Festival Of Human Brotherhood," a weeklong, nationwide event celebrating the
founding of Ethniklashistan. On Monday, 11 people were killed in a skirmish between Basques and Sikhs near
Nablus. The same day, six were killed and dozens injured on the streets of Bethlehem when Somalis and Greek
Cypriots exchanged gunfire and grenades.

      Dozens of shifting alliances have added to the confusion and chaos. In a pre-dawn border raid Monday,
Burmese Karen rebels attacked a Tamil settlement. By late afternoon, the Karens were driven back by the Tamils,
who were newly armed with Israeli anti-personnel missiles smuggled into the West Bank by Zionist fundamentalists
who had allied themselves--some say only as a temporary ruse--with the Tamils.

On Tuesday, guerrilla fighters made up of an uneasy Palestinian-Papuan alliance attacked an Irish Protestant church near the Golan Heights, killing 121 Irish worshippers with nerve gas before  being repelled by a nearby faction of Protestant-sympathizing Zapatista rebels from the Chiapas region of Mexico.

The violence continued that evening, when the severed heads of 20  Chechens were paraded through the streets of Jericho by Azerbaijani  extremists. The killings are thought to be in retaliation for rocket attacks  by a band of pro-Armenian Chechen rebels, who have thus far evaded   Azerbaijani attempts to flush them out of their encampments in the hills   with prolonged shelling.

Alarmed by the new nation's growing pains, world leaders have launched a large-scale international-aid effort to help Ethniklashistan get  on its feet. Great Britain has pledged 12,000 peacekeeping troops,
vowing to "pummel with rubber bullets, tear gas, and billy clubs anyone who dares threaten the Sons of Ulster."
China has pledged 40,000 soldiers to supervise the 2,000-plus Tibetan Buddhists relocated to the region. Indonesia,
Cambodia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan have also sent troops.

      "There is always a period of transition and upheaval in the founding of a new government," President Bush said.
"That is why an international humanitarian consortium of nations, including the U.S., France, Russia, Iraq, and North
Korea, has pledged $2 trillion in military aid to the new nation. This way, all Ethniklashistanis, regardless of race,
color, creed, or economic background, will have equal access to the state-of-the-art ordnance they need to defend
themselves and their families during this initial period of instability."

      Encouraged by such aid efforts, experts are confident that a lasting peace can soon be established among the
rival Ethniklashistani groups.

      "When you take that many long-suffering, war-torn groups and put them in the same place, how can you not
have peace?" asked former president Jimmy Carter, who will lead talks among the various Ethniklashistani groups.
"This hatred cannot possibly last long."

2. From the Wall Street Journal

Court Ruling  Was No Victory
For Microsoft King Pyrrhus, meet Bill Gates.

 Thursday, July 5, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDT

                      While trumpeting last week's "victory" in the Court of Appeals,
                      Microsoft executives would do well to recall the words of King
                      Pyrrhus after his famous battle with the Romans: "One more
                      such victory and we are lost." The truth behind the spin is that
                      Microsoft's victory was not even pyrrhic. A quotation from
                      George Armstrong Custer would be more appropriate, if only
                      he'd been available for a press conference after Little Big Horn.
                      The government won on the central issue in the case:
                      Microsoft was held to have monopolized the operating-system
                      market in violation of the Sherman Act.

                      On no count, moreover, was Microsoft's behavior found lawful.
                      The charge of attempted monopolization of the browser market
                      failed only because the government did not offer readily
                      available evidence that browsers constituted a relevant market
                      and that barriers to entry existed. Microsoft won not because it
                      was innocent but because the government did not carry its

                      Much the same is true of the court's reversal and remand for
                      trial on the issue of whether Microsoft's bolting of its operating
                      system and browser into a single package was an illegal tying
                      arrangement. Noting that the integration of products often
                      benefits consumers, the court rejected a rule of per se illegality
                      and remanded for trial under the rule of reason. The
                      government will have to prove that the anticompetitive effect in
                      the browser market outweighs any enhanced efficiency. Since
                      Microsoft has never been able to articulate a plausible
                      efficiency from the bolting, the government seems likely to

                      For no discernible reason, much of the press has
                      unquestioningly accepted Microsoft's jubilation that the Court
                      of Appeals vacated the trial court's order that Microsoft be
                      broken into two independent companies. Nobody, including
                      the government's lawyers, expected that order to stand up.
                      Microsoft was denied even the most rudimentary hearing on
                      the appropriate remedy. Now there is to be a hearing, and there
                      are compelling reasons to take divestiture seriously.

                      But when the court addressed the charge of monopolization of
                      the operating-system market, which was the core of the case,
                      the news was all bad for Microsoft. The company was found to
                      have destroyed the nascent threats to its operating system
                      monopoly posed by Netscape's browser, Navigator, and Sun
                      Microsystems' Java, a technology designed to work with any
                      operating system. Singly or in combination, these could accept
                      applications and thus threaten Microsoft's monopoly by
                      making users and application writers indifferent to the
                      operating system used. The attacks on Navigator and Java
                      were exclusionary tactics without benefit, and promising
                      ultimate harm, to consumers. This was a violation of the
                      Sherman Act.


                      Microsoft officials and lawyers are no doubt pondering the
                      ramifications of that holding. There are a lot, most of them
                      gloomy, if not cataclysmic. There is, to begin with, the trial on
                      remand, which will consider whether the integration of the
                      operating system and the browser was an illegal tie-in, as well
                      as whether the remedy for monopolization of the
                      operating-system market calls for structural alterations in
                      Microsoft or only a forest of restraints on its future conduct.

                      The latter question may be greatly influenced by evidence that
                      Microsoft is continuing the same pattern of behavior with
                      respect to new products that was found illegal on this appeal.
                      The company is, for instance, bolting products and
                      services--for example, tying video and audio streaming to one
                      or more of its three monopolies (Windows XP, Office EXP and
                      Internet Explorer 6.0). Microsoft appears impervious to law. It
                      seems an unrepentant recidivist. That is a major reason to
                      consider a breakup seriously.

                      Microsoft will continue to argue that any serious remedy
                      would damage innovation. But Microsoft suppressed the
                      innovation of Netscape, Sun and Intel. In any case, Microsoft
                      is hardly a leading innovator. It bought the technologies for its
                      major products. Its genius has been in business and predation,
                      not innovation.

                      Microsoft's response to the legal threat it continues to face is
                      to unleash a swarm of lobbyists and lawyers upon the
                      administration and Congress to urge a quick settlement.
                      Judging from its past negotiations with the Department of
                      Justice, the company will not accept any settlement that
                      seriously inhibits its ability to engage in predation.

                      If the administration is gulled with the argument that a quick
                      and easy settlement would help the economy, it will make a
                      serious mistake. The economy's problems, including poor
                      corporate earnings, have nothing to do with Microsoft's legal
                      troubles. Such a settlement would be bad economics and bad
                      law. Particularly after a 7-0 government win from judges of very
                      diverse views, an easy settlement would be seen as blatantly
                      political, a capitulation to a money-heavy lawbreaker left free to
                      continue its monopolizing rampages.

                      Even a settlement favorable to Microsoft would not end the
                      company's peril. The state plaintiffs would remain, and an even
                      greater danger lurks: private triple-damage actions by injured
                      companies that, as the court said, will "deter those firms
                      inclined to test the limits of the law." Those plaintiffs can rely
                      upon the appeals court's ruling and need do little more than
                      prove they were injured and by how much to collect damages
                      running well into the billions of dollars. Such companies would
                      have to answer to their shareholders if they do not reach for
                      what one lawyer has described as "low-hanging fruit." That
                      may be Microsoft's final punishment for its egregious