SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens
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SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens October 1996

(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 independance.

-- C.A. Beard


Steve Langer
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On last month's Fix;

the answer to last month's Fix,

"How do you educate the public in basic economics and history without
losing their interest?"

I honestly have no idea. Most people have a hard enough time recalling the last year,to say nothing of having the accuracy of memory needed to relate cause and effect, which is essential if one is to have any chance of detecting lies and truth in a campaign. An example, Clinton claims credit for a booming economy. Well, at the current 2.6% growth, it sort of pales to the 4.4 % we had in the final quarter of Bush's term, yet Clinton got away with calling that the worst economy since the Great Depression. Clinton says he's responsible for reducing the size of the govt. payroll. I've explained in this rag how over 80% of that was related to base closures and civilian military cutbacks initiated by a Dem Congress in the Bush term.

It doesn't matter. The vast majority of the US public is ignorant and apathetic,but I don't worry about them, because they don't vote. I worry about the merely ignorant whose baseline voting strategy is,"What will this guy give me?"

On Seattle;

Having completed nearly 1/2 month at my new job, I have learned a few things. First, a car is a definite hindrance in this town, so I've taken to using the bus to and from work. Second, people in the Pacific North West must have an allergy to straight, continuous lines. Virtually no roads (with the possible exception of the Interstates) continue in an uninteruppted straight line. Furthermore, this aversion continues into buildings as well. The UW Medical Center is a monstrous building that someone has obviously taken great pride in making completely unnavigable.An example:

This past Friday, I had the occasion to go from my office (on the minus 1 floor, Room AA120) to the machine shop (First floor, room G156). No problem, thought I. I'll just go up one floor and walk along the main corridor until I find the G section and look for room 156. HA! An overheadview of the building (which is about 2 blocks long) would look something like this;

     0     0      0                       ^
0----|---|-\-----|----\------|-----0-0	   |  N	
     0	0       0	0
where the round parts delineate various towers shooting off from the main building. However, the interior space is divided up into something far more challenging, and in fact I think can only be described in 5'th dimentional differential topology. You see, the various off shoots are all given their own name, like N, NW or E and SE. I know what you're thinking, "Steve - you moron, they're using compass points." Ah, yes you would think that, wouldn't you. Except that the NW label is actually attached to the south lobe of one of the central towers. Ok, so you abandon the compass point model, and go for something more basic, like maybe the sections go in alphabetical order A-B-C- ...with the double letter sections (like AA) being near their single letter sisters. Using that model, one would assume that my section, AA, is near A. Well, and this is the absolute truth, the section abutting mine is RR.

Ok OK. Get a grip. Breath deep. Let's at least assume that there is contiguity within a given letter so that all of G section lies together. After getting to First floor (fortunetly, the stairwells at least seem continuous), I begin walking down THE LONG HALL. This is not as simple as it sounds since walls mysteriously cut across, cafeterias sprout up and many deceptive detours are detected. I reach D section, a blank wall. Turn left, turn right, continue East into E (bad smell, animal labs), F, another twist and G. AhHA! G120, G140. Good good. G148. YES! H120.

H?!? I called the guy at the machine shop, and asked him where in the HELL he was. He came and got me. Going back into F section we cut through someone's lab, went out the back door and found G156.

After concluding our business, I asked him how he learned to navigate the insane thing around us. He confessed, "Well, when I go to lunch, I go outside and walk along the sidewalk to the back door of the cafeteria."

Another thing I've noticed is that most of the faculty dress like Carl Sagan: Argyle socks, corduroy pants, pullover sweaters and Suede leather sport coats with leather elbow patches. At first I thought, maybe they dress that way because they buy their clothes at the Salvation Army (the UW being the lowest paying PAC 10 Univ.) But with a shock I realized, maybe they haven't been able to get out of the building since 1977.

On the Wager;

One last chance before you vote, check out the latest numbers.

For those new readers out there, on the eve of Clinton's election I made a bet with the readership of this rag that the misery index, computed by adding up all the changes in the figures listed below, would be worse after Clinton's first term. The wager was that if the Misery Index (MI) got worse by x %, I would collect that portion of income from the admitted Clinton voters and divvy it up among the rest of us as an apology. If the MI was lower after Clinton, I would take that percentage of my personal income and spread it among the admitted Clinton voters. Oddly, not one Clinton voter had the courage to risk their own money as they did the nation's, but I track the MI anyway.

			   ---- Clinton budgets* --------
			  |                             |
	      | 1992    1993    1994    1995    1996    1997
Unemployment  | 7.2%    6.6%    5.6     5.7     5.6
Inflation     | 4.7%    2.8%    2.9     2.7     2.7
Interest      | 7.7%    8.3%    9.1     7.9     8.8
Fed. Inc. Tax | 28%     48%     48%     48      48
(top margin)  |
FICA          | 15%     15%     15%     15      15
Cap Gain      | 28%     28%     28%     28      28
Gasoline      | $0.15   $0.20   $0.20   $.20   .20
(per gallon)  |  (0)    (+33%)  (+33%)
 MI (totl)      90.6    141.4   141.6   140.3   141.1

Also, Clinton is saying that he is responsible for dropping the debt 60% since he took office in 1992. Well, recall that if you are elected in 1992 and take office in January 1993, you are not the person that makes the budget for that year (1993). The 1993 budget was made by the previous Congress and Bush Admin. Also, bear in mind three more things.

  1. The S&L bailout, resulting from Reagen deregulation and the Keating 5 (a Dem.scandal), was finally paid off in 1993 and the RTC dissolved.
  2. The $24 billion stimulus package that Clinton was going to use in '94 to pay off big city mayors for their support (oh right, that was for Midnight Basketball and other crime fighting measures), was defeated by a Rep. filibuster.
  3. The military layoffs that are responsible for over 80% of the govt. staff reductions since 1990 were initiated by the previous Congress and Bush Admin.
With these caveats in mind, let us look at a survey of recent budget deficits (source Annual Report of the United States of America 1996, Meredith Bagby).
year	deficit ($billions)
1979	40.7
1980	73.8
1981	79
1982	128.4
1983	207.8
1984	185.4
1985	212.3
1986	221
1987	149.8
1988	155.2
1989	152.5
1990	221.4
1991	269.2
1992	290.4
1993	255.1
1994	203.2
1995	192
1996	196.7
So what does this tell us? Well, Reagen really pumped up the debt while he was rebuilding the military and running the USSR into the dust. But his final three years he brought the deficit to $150 billion and handed off to Bush. Bush, having neither the will nor desire to fight Congressional Dems (kinder, gentler), allowed tax rates to be raised, which cooled the economy, reduced revenues and increased the deficit. Now comes Boy Clinton, who claimes the title of Deficit Killer and says he reduced it by 60% from the 1992 $290 billion. Well, if its now 196.7, (290-196.7)/290.4 is about 32%. However, if Clinton cares to be honest about it, it should be calculated based on the last Bush budget of $255 billion. Now (255-196.7)/255 is about 23%. Of course, if the Reps had not stopped the stimulas package, Clinton's debt would have been $24 billion higher. Finally, if we give Clinton credit for all the cuts that are not military related, he is entitled to claim about 20% of the 23% budget reduction. In other words - about 5%.

Our hero.

There is an episode of "The Simpsons" where Homer, in the midst of a melt-down at the power plant, closes his eyes and does "Eeny meeny miny moe ..." and blindly stabs at a button that shuts down the reactor core and averts disaster. In the near term he is lionized as a hero, but eventually is discovered for the inept boob that he is. The episode ends with a new word in the dictionary. A "Homer" is defined as succeeding in spite of blatant stupidy.

Guest Editorial:

The Election
by Steve Langer

Well, here we are, the day after the last Clinton-Dole debate (Oct. 17). I think that in all honesty, an impartial observer would have to give the edge to Clinton. The debate format, a town hall meeting, obviously favored the Emotion President, but to be fair Dole didn't help himself. While Clinton responded directly to the questions put to him by the audience members, Dole either evaded the questions, or turned them into an oppurtunity to attack something CLinton had done. An example, a woman asked Dole how he would help stem the tide of managed health care which in her opinion was ruining the quality of patient care. Dole responded that one thing he wouldn't do was try to socialize 1/7 of the nation's economy like the Clinton Health Care Plan of 93 attempted. However, Dole never said what he would do.

Now at the risk of belaboring the obvious, it is not sufficient to provide reasons to vote against someone if in the process you don't provide a reason to vote FOR someone else. Dole's only points throughout the night to vote for him were his 15% tax cut and his honesty. He repeated that mantra no matter what the question was. When asked how he planned to simultaneously lower taxes and balance the budget, a question that should have been a slam dunk for a contemporary of Ronald Reagen, Dole's only answer was that he would do it because he promised he would. I'm sorry, but blind faith without logic is not good enough, and the fact that he couldn't answer the question illustrates that Dole learned nothing from Reagen.

So it comes down to a choice between a man with bad ideas, or a man with no ideas. I'll probably vote Libertarian again. The worst part is, most things Clinton is claiming credit for (lower deficits, smaller govt. payroll, and many other items from the Contract With America) were accomplished during the Bush years (Military layoffs) or in the last two years by a Rep. Congress, not in the first two years of the Clinton White House.

It doesn't matter. Logic is a small white bird tweeting in the meadow. Until a way is found to get the person in the street to listen to and comprehend the lessons of history and economics, con artists like Clinton will rule the day. As I wrote in the January 1996 issue;

Well, of course we all know how many balanced budgets Bill has prepared - none. And the folks who actually are trying to do so are being villified by (to put it nicely) a somewhat biased media who call Rep. plans to increase Medicaid spending by more than what would have occurred under the Clinton Health plan "... the equivalent of a death sentence for the nation's poor and elderly." So here we are. The single best chance to stave off national bankruptcy will be lost, Clinton will be reelected if Dole is the Rep. alternative and Americans will get what they deserve. Good for us I say.

Yesterday (Oct. 12) some essayist on National Public radio was trying to address the question of why honor seems to matter so little to the American voter that they look past Clinton's foibles and will probably reelect him. "Clinton," he said, "is like us. He's not perfect. He's cheated on his wife, done drugs and had questionable financial dealings. He's doing what all of us wish we could do and we relate to that."

We're doomed.


1. Sheryl just missed last month's deadline with this;
From RSC!RSC! Tue Sep 17 14:31:19 1996

Did I beat the deadline?  Sir editor, I think sometimes your seven days is not
always seven days!  That's what I get for procrastinating!

News from Rochester.
On September 16, 1996 a masked man held up a local bank in town.  The gunman
fled on foot and then they think maybe he got in a car!  They weren't real sure!
The teller pushed the 911 button to alert the local authorities.  The bank's phone
system routes all of their calls through their main branch so the 911 call told the 
authorities that the main bank was being held up.  Weren't they surprised when
our finest showed up at the wrong bank.  When they finally made it to the right
bank it was well too late.  So, they brought out sniffing dogs who made a path
from the front door to the sidewalk and then the gunman vanished!  There were
only 3 employees in the bank at the time and since they were on the floor they
didn't even see him get away.  Our local news carried this description; "Man,
about 5'6" to 6' tall, deep voice wearing a dark coat, dark pants and a ski mask,
carrying a gun!" Well, that narrows it down quite a bit!!!! ONLY IN ROCHESTER!!
Aren't you happy to be leaving?

My response to the fix:I think we should not focus on the things in life that are
bugging us so much but take some time to focus on happy things.  Just a thought!

And she adds more for this month;

To this month's fix:     
"How do you educate people in history and economics without losing their interest?"    
You tell me, I lost interest in history a longtime ago.  Thank god economics is 
math oriented or I would have been lost inthat arena too.  Nothing news worthy 
happening in MN except for the onset ofthe wonderful snow season is about to begin 
any day now.   I bet you'll missit!  Oh, there is a Sultan from some oil floating 
country in the mid-east atMayo now-name withheld for political reasons.  He has 
brought with him 43servants, 7 brothers and 8 wives (this is why they call it the 
RochesterInternational Airport).  They have remodeled two wings at St Mary's Hospital
and 2 floors at the Kahler Plaza Hotel for his entourage.  He is said to be spending 
$2000 dollars a day on groceries.  Supposedly he gripes about every dime on his clinic 
bill.  So, I've finally figured it out-the rich stay rich by not spending any of their 
money and watching every dime!

As a follow up in the paper last night it said the sheik left town and loaded one 
full cargo jet with 18 semi trucks full of furniture, clothing,and jewelry purchased 
in Rochester.  His entourage forced a local jewelerLasker's to close the store so 
he could shop uninterrupted for 2 hours.  I bet they were happy retailer's.

3. Paul writes from the Keeweenaw;

>From Sat Oct  5 11:55:49 1996

>1. Sep. 9, NPR: The Feds are beginning to worry about the thousands of IBM
>compatible PC's that they have which will be subject to the so called
>Millenium Bug. The bug in the BIOS firmware, only counts 2 significant
>figures of the year. Hence, in the year 2000, such PCs will think it's the
>year 1900, and sorting documents by date and all other time sensitive
>functions will be screwed up. Apple Macs and other non-brain-dead computers
>will not be susceptable to the problem.

Try again. Actually, most of the others (not sure about Macs) rely on the Unix
method of keeping track of dates. Unix boxes count the number of seconds since 
1970 in a 32 bit long. That means that 10 years later, they will also flake out. 
The only solution is to go to a number which is sufficiently large that you
won't have to worry  about this unintended "glitch" until long after the original
software author is a 40 bit long would be just fine. But since 64 bits is in 
vogue, that will put the horrible deadline at a size larger than the lifetime of the 
universe  in seconds, I think (need to dig out that number to find out for sure).

Those of us who exist in the world of reality will probably trim the "64 bit"
standard down to say 40 bits when storing it in files. Instead of appending
an extra 3 bytes of zeroes.
Ed: Well, to be really accurate, I said other "non-brain-dead computers". Nowhere did I mention UNIX, and not all Nixes are the same. But to continue ...

Yes, the UNIX systems usually count seconds from 1970 and store it in a 32 bit register. Let's see now

2^32 = 4294967296
secs in year = 31636000
# of years = 2^32/(sec in year) = 136.2
Break year = 1970 + 136.2 = 2106.2

If the system uses a signed integer, the break date
would be the year 2038.
I could live with that. However, even though the computer may know the date, the applications that run on those systems, and I'm thinking here of MS-Office products (particulary the data-base Access) only keep the last 2 digits of the year. Since Access will perform all operations (such as sorts and queries) on the internally stored 2 digit year, you could still be in big trouble even if your computer knows what year it is. But of course, Gates won't call this a bug, it's a feature.

Quotes(s) of the month:

"Election '96: Vote for the liar: he's promising more."

--Bumper sticker.

Fix of the month:

"As I predicted in Jan., and am about to be proven right on, assuming that Bob Dole becomes the Rep. candidate and Clinton gets reelected in a land-slide, how will you and your's avoid the imminent financial collapse of the country?"



1. Seattle, 10 Oct. : An interesting bumper sticker that is making its way around campus. "Support Plant Amnesty. Vote Clinton/Gore in '96, Roll/Hemp in '97."

2. Oct. 13: The SeaTac airport was closed yesterday due to a bomb threat. The airport, which has been cited as having some of the poorest security measures of any US airport, was also shut down a week ago for a similar theat. A man hunt is underway.

3. Seattle, 29 Oct.: "Jack in the Box" strikes again! E. Coli outbreaks have three area toddlers in the hospital with severe diarrhea, fever and weight loss. Actually, it is not yet proven where this outbreak has started, but fast food sales are waay down.

4. Seattle, 28 Oct: Much has been made in this election about Cinton's crime fighting measures, including his crime bill to put 100,000 new police officers throughout the country. In fact, Clinton and Janet Reno point to this measure as the reason why violent crime has decreased in the last 5 years. Well, neglecting for the moment the fact that the money was only approved two years ago, and that most cops take at least 2 years to be trained before they hit the streets, there is another subtle problem.

Seattle's mayor says that the city will not be able to afford the positions that have been allocated for the city, becuase the bill only funds startup costs for officers for two years. After that, the city is expected to pick up the full fare. In other words, had Seattle created the positions immediately after the Crime bill passed Congress, the money would have run dry in Jan. 1997. By sheer coincidence, just after the 1996 Presidiential race.

New York;

1. Oct. 14, Nightline: Appearing on Ted Koppell's show to commemorate the 1'st anniversary of the Million Man March, the Rev. Louis Farrakhan was asked by Ted if he believed in the existence of a large space ship orbiting the earth called the Mother Plane.

"Mr. Koppel, I tell you right now that such a craft exists and it will rescue the blacks one day, rain destruction down on the white man and return African Americans to their ancestral homes in Africa. Even Pres. Carter in 1976 said he believed in it. Why do you think Independance Day was so popular?"

Koppel looked into the camera and said, "For you viewers at home, Pres. Carter said he believed in the existence of UFOs and the movie Independance Day was a work of fiction."


1. St. Petersburg, 9 Oct.: During tonight's VEEP debate, it was clear that Kemp was not well prepared, and missed numerous oppurtunities to take Al Gore to task on Clinton policies. Even so, the NBC post debate camera coverage was nothing less than fawning over Gore. Close ups of Al, Tipper, their daughter and friends were interupted for only 10 seconds to show Kemp and his family. Then the camera resumed its adulation of the media's hero.


1. Atlanta, Oct. 28: The man the FBI indentified as the prime suspect in the Olympic pipe bomb incident was notified by letter that he was no longer a suspect. The man, Richard Jewel (whose mother pleaded on national TV to Clinton to see that her son would get justice), held a press conference and has announced his intention to launch several law suits against the media, and possibly the FBI as well, for deformation of character. Jewel alledges that the day after the bombing, when he was still being cheered as the hero who discovered the bomb and limited casualties by starting an evacuation, the FBI approached him to help them make an instructional video. The "video", according to the FBI, was to be a training film that would be based on Jewel's clever thinking in the handling of the bomb. In the course of the video's production, FBI agents convinced Jewel that he should sign a Miranda release. From that point on, everything that Jewel said during the video's "interview" scenes would be used as evidence against him in court.

And the FBI needed all the confessions it could get from Jewel, because despite impounding his truck, his mother's Tupperware, and his collection of Disney movies, the FBI had a tough time finding any physical evidence that could be linked to the bomb. And worse, it seems that Jewel was not a member of an evil militia.

Ed: There were many in July who expressed the belief that to restore confidence in Olympic security and keep the games on track, the FBI was not above using a fall guy.

People ask me why I'm so cynical. Because it works.

Wash. D.C. ;

1. October 16: Men, in case you didn't know this, October is National Breast Awareness Month. So, like, if you needed an excuse.

2. October 10: The Clinton campaign, caught in the scrutiny of a Washington Times article on shady campaign practices, returned $425K in contributions to an Indonesian billionaire, and another $250K from Korean businesses, who made no pretense that they were trying to buy access to American markets through the White House. Spokesmen for the President said it was a simple misunderstanding.

Ed: Right. The Seattle papers damn Dole for being in the pocket of American business, but Clinton gets millions from non-American businessmen and that's described as "Building a bridge to the 21'st century."


1. Calcutta, 9 Oct.: A herd of 85 thirsty elephants, sensing moisture, stampeded into an illegal brewery 30 miles West of the city. After demolishing 6 large brew kettles and drinking the contents, they disappeared back into the forest.

Net News;

1. Medical humor:
 A woman wakes up to find to find her dog is not moving. 
Concerned, she takes it to the vet. After a few moments, the vet says, "Madam, your 
dog is dead."  
Isn't there anything you can do?  The vet walked into a back room 
and came out with a cat in a cage. Setting the cage next to the dog, he opened it. The 
cat walked out, sniffed the dog,and unconcernedly started grooming itself. 

"Well", said the vet, "that confirms it. Your dog is dead."  Wiping back tears, the 
woman resignedly open her purse to pay. "How much do I owe you", she asked the vet.  
"That will be $330", he replied.  "What", the client blurted.  "$30 for the office 
visit and $300 for the cat scan."
2. A public service.

Periodically, I publish the email addresses of the readers of this rag as a public service to keep people in touch. The following are verified as current as of25 Oct. 1996.

People I met through my Michigan days 

chuck  scripter'' 
reg  ronningen '' 
reman pfaff  '' 
jeff  karn '' 
lawrence heilbronn 'gunner%wsvax3.hepnet@Lbl.Gov' 
jim clayton '' 
mike grimm '' 
john johnson '' 
rooster '' 
paul rutt '' 
pete markowitz '' 
mike_mohar '' 
brenda sandberg '' 
kevin flynn '' 
doug wilken '' 
paul campbell '' 
dave gay ''

People I met in my Wisconsin days

bob langer jr '' 
bob langer sr '' 
mike redman '' 
renee sanger redman '' 
steve schauer 'chem011@uabdpo.bitnet' 
rafe donahue '' 
jim smith '' 
brian donahue '' 
tom (THAT's id) hall '' 
jeff thorne '' 
kerry neef '' 
eric lozada ''

And from Minnesota 

sheryl quimby 'rsc!rsc!'

Please note the Steve Langer "Sea Views" is available on the web at: