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April 24, 2005

Web Clippings--20050422

What I would write about if time were infinite:

http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2004/11/who_made_steve.html:slacktivist: Who made Steve?: In the third grade at Timothy Christian School, we learned a variation of the children's catechism. I don't remember most of it any longer, but I've always treasured the first three questions. Recently, however, I've come to realize that these three questions do not accurately represent what it is that many American Christians believe. I have amended them to bring them into line with current practice and teaching:

Q: Who made you?
A: God made me.
Q: What else did God make?
A: God made me and all things -- except Steve.
Q: Why did God make all things except Steve?
A: God made all things except Steve for His own glory.

'Steve' has emerged as a central figure in American theology. He even played a significant role in the recent national elections. Yet despite his enormous influence, we know little about Steve aside from a single reference to him in our holy texts. This reference is, like the catechism, extra-canonical but considered authoritative: 'God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.' This oft-quoted text presents a mystery. If God did not make Steve, then where did this uncreature come from? How did Steve come to be? God did not make Steve, therefore we must also assume that Steve was never born. If Steve had been born, after all, then he would be 'begotten, not made.' Surely we are not meant to conclude that Steve is a little-known fourth member of the Trinity. Thus again we come to mystery. Steve was neither made nor begotten; yet Steve is. What can we do in the face of such mystery? It is beyond our ken. We cannot hope to understand, we can only drop to our knees to sing a bewildered hymn of praise to the Creator of all things except Steve. I have taken to doing exactly this whenever anyone recites this particular sacred text in my hearing.

http://ezraklein.typepad.com/blog/2005/04/point_counterpo.html: Ezra Klein: Point, Counterpoint:

Krauthammer writes: "Have that independence and supremacy been abused? Grossly. What other advanced democracy would radically legalize abortion by judicial decree rather than by democratic will expressed through legislatures or referendums? What sane democracy allows four unelected robed eminences in Massachusetts to revolutionize the very definition of marriage, the most ancient institution in society?"

Matt responds: "Obviously, no nation other than the United States would allow robed eminences in Massachusetts to make decisions about the legality of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in marriage, but provincial Supreme Courts in such far-off lands as Canada have likewise been ruling on such matters. And if you want to know what other advanced democracy would have judicial decrees legalizing abortion you, again, don't need to look further than Canada. All of which would merely demonstrate ignorance on Krauthammer's part were he not, well, Canadian."

http://www.bigbrassblog.com/2005/04/special-announcement-compleat.html: Big Brass Blog, in association with The Dark Wraith Forums, is proud to announce that the Bloggrrrlz Gallery slate of blogs has now been completed. That's right: the very best blogs by women can now be read at one meta-site portal where you can spend a minute, an hour, or an entire day working your way across the freshest, most dynamic, most interesting voices in the Blogosphere. If you haven't visited the Gallery yet, you have no idea what you've been missing. Creative coding architecture makes the Bloggrrrlz Gallery something unique on the Web. We think you'll agree.Although every effort has been made to include all of the best of the women bloggers, if you know of one we've missed, send Shakespeare's Sister an e-mail message...

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/22/opinion/22krugman.html?hp: Paul Krugman: Passing the Buck: Think about how crazy all of this is. At a rough guess, between two million and three million Americans are employed by insurers and health care providers not to deliver health care, but to pass the buck for that care to someone else. And the result of all their exertions is to make the nation poorer and sicker. Why do we put up with such an expensive, counterproductive health care system? Vested interests play an important role. But we also suffer from ideological blinders: decades of indoctrination in the virtues of market competition and the evils of big government have left many Americans unable to comprehend the idea that sometimes competition is the problem, not the solution.

http://www.athenaalliance.org/weblog/archives/2005/04/innovation_rese.html: Ken Jarboe: The Intangible Economy: Patents and innovation research: One of the most interesting papers is by Adam Jaffe of Brandeis University and Josh Lerner of Harvard University. The paper 'Innovation and its Discontents' is an extension of the 2004 book by the same title: Innovation and Its Discontents: How Our Broken Patent System is Endangering Innovation and Progress, and What To Do About It. Their thesis is simple: "In the last two decades, however, the role of patents in the U.S. innovation system has changed from fuel for the engine to sand in the gears. Two apparently mundane changes in patent law and policy have subtly but inexorably transformed the patent system from a shield that innovators could use to protect themselves, to a grenade that firms lob indiscriminately at their competitors, thereby increasing the cost and risk of innovation rather than decreasing it." Some of their recommendation, especially concerning business methods, software and biotechnology patents, will likely generate debate. Others, such as pre-grant opposition and re-examinations of granted patents, seem to be part of the building consensus on patent reform...

http://crookedtimber.org/2005/04/21/i-am-in-awe/: I am in awe. Posted by Kieran Healy. It takes a long, long apprenticeship laboring the Augean stables of Globollocks to write a sentence like this: "The walls had fallen down and the Windows had opened, making the world much flatter than it had ever been--but the age of seamless global communication had not yet dawned." Amazing. Tom Friedman is a God. No, not a God so much as a moustachioed force of nature, pumped up on the steroids of globalization, a canary in the coalmine of an interconnected era whose tentacles are spreading over the face of a New Economy savannah where old lions are left standing at their waterholes, unaware that the young Turks--and Indians--have both hands on the wheel of fortune favors the brave face the music to their ears to the, uh, ground.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/22/business/22cnd-wendys.html?ei=5088&en=aa9c2a1cbe86691c&ex=1271822400&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print&position: At CSI: Wendy's, Tracking a Gruesome Discovery. By MATT RICHTEL and ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO: Denny Lynch sat at a booth at a Wendy's restaurant, finishing bites of a chicken sandwich between cellphone calls. Mr. Lynch, a Wendy's executive, was one of only a few lunchtime patrons at the normally buzzing restaurant, where lately business is off by half. That's because, in the same booth where Mr. Lynch sat, a patron claimed on March 22 that she dipped into her cup of beef chili and found part of a human finger. Since then, Mr. Lynch, Wendy's senior vice president for communications, and the rest of Wendy's executive team have been on a ceaseless treadmill trying to manage a public relations crisis that has consumed and frustrated the company. Mr. Lynch still does not know whose finger it was or where it came from. But some of the many questions surrounding the incident may be resolved once the police receive the results of lab tests, possibly as early as Friday.... The troubles began for Mr. Lynch when the phone rang just after 11:30 p.m. on March 22. He had been sleeping at home in Dublin, Ohio, where Wendy's has its headquarters. The caller was Bob Bertini, the chain's media relations manager, explaining that Anna Ayala, a Las Vegas resident visiting family in San Jose, had bitten down on the finger in a spoonful of Wendy's chili. For the 52-year-old Mr. Lynch, there was no time to prepare a sophisticated plan of action. The news media, he was informed, knew about the gruesome discovery, and wanted a statement. He did not wake John T. Schuessler, Wendy's chairman and chief executive, that night, but sent him e-mail messages explaining the news and the steps he had taken...

http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001345.htm: THE BRAD BLOG: AP: Republican Chairman of Voting Reform Panel Resigns!: Another intellectually-honest Republican is found! Just in from AP... "The first chairman of the federal voting agency created after the 2000 election dispute is resigning, saying the government has not shown enough of a commitment to reform. DeForest Soaries, a Baptist minister, said Friday that his resignation from the commission created by Congress would take effect next week .Soaries, 53, cited personal reasons... but he added the decision was prompted in part by a lack of support for the commission from Congress and the federal government. 'All four of us had to work without staff, without offices, without resources. I don't think our sense of personal obligation has been matched by a corresponding sense of commitment to real reform from the federal government,' Soaries told The Associated Press. Soaries is a Republican who was the White House's pick to join the Election Assistance Commission, which was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to help states enact voting reforms...

http://www.cjrdaily.org/archives/001464.asp: CJR Daily: Amtrak executives have simply thrown up their hands as problems with their only profitable operation sent more than 10,000 regular commuters scrambling for alternative rail transportation this week. And for the slacker media's part, the whole event has been a yawner. Cover a press conference, rewrite the news releases, attend a Senate hearing, maybe dole out some data. But, for heaven's sake, don't ask any tough questions. On Wednesday, Amtrak officials announced that the Boston to Washington Acela Express trains... will be out of service at least until summer because of problems getting replacement brake parts.... Acela's manufacturer, a consortium of Montreal-based Bombardier and France's Alstom S.A., has only 80 replacement brake parts in stock because neither Amtrak nor the consortium expected them to wear out as quickly as they did, according to officials.... After testing some high-speed trains from Sweden and Germany in the early 1990s, Amtrak officials decided to design their own version and to have the equipment built by the consortium -- a $1.1 billion deal that was largely driven by financing the cash-strapped railroad received from a bank set up to promote Canada's exports.... Amtrak executives decided to move straight from design to production and to skip building a prototype.... Maybe it's time to go beyond the news releases and press briefings and do some reporting...

Posted by DeLong at April 24, 2005 10:04 PM