Friday, January 07, 2005

In the "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" category, here's a story about a law professor [whoever said they were savvy], who got scammed by the same Nigerian get rich quick scheme we have all received in our email.

Note: I've got this great bridge in New York for sale....

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I just scanned [quickly] Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds' long post on torture. What it boils down to for me is: what are we, as a nation and a people? One of his emailers asks, "If we have to do something that would heretofore have been considered barbaric in order to extract information that will save innocent lives, so be it." I disagree. Because our opponent tortures and horribly murders its captives, that in no way justifies us using torture tactics for those opponents in our custody.

This begs the question, of course, "what is torture?" We have operated for many years under the definitions set forth in the Geneva Convention, which definitions the Administration apparently seeks to change, via the policy memo written by AG nominee Gonzales. I still have not heard a convincing rationale to change that well-established definition. On the contrary, abusing our prisoners cheapens us internally and in the eyes of the world, and it places our people in greater danger; our abandonment of humane treatment standards will inevitably lead to other nations doing the same.

We are a nation of laws, committed to the rule of law in the way we live and conduct ourselves. When it is most difficult to remember that, such as now, is when it is most important to adhere to our basic values: good faith, fair play, and the law. If we slide down the slope to where the enemy wallows in the muck, we will soon have as much mud on our face as the enemy.

It's gut check time, and the United States is in danger of failing the test.
I'm playing around with a new browser, called Firefox, created by Mozilla. It's pretty cool, and apparently deals with a lot of the security holes present in MSIE. The best part so far is that you can open multiple browser tabs [different web sites] in one window. Apparently, lots of functionality, it seems significantly faster than MSIE in opening and drawing pages, and it's open source code, too, for those who don't think much of the Microsoft stranglehold on the cyber-world.

UPDATE: I learned of Firefox from this NPR Morning Edition Story.
For any fans of the rock group Chicago, here's a review I did on Amazon [with links inserted for this blog] for Robert Lamm's 2003 album, Subtlety and Passion:
Robert Lamm is one of the creative voices behind Chicago, the band that revolutionized pop/rock music in the 1970s. While Chicago has not released an album of original music since 1991 (the unreleased, yet still awfully good 1994 Stone of Sisyphus is widely available online as a bootleg), Lamm has become a de facto solo artist, releasing several albums in the past decade. None, however, had that stamp of Chicago, which endeared him to legions of fans. Although members of Chicago are quite close-mouthed about the rationale, it appears that there will be no new new album of Chicago originals for quite some time, if ever. Lamm makes up for it, however, with his 2003 collection, "Subtlety and Passion."

Featuring several members of Chicago, this album is, more or less, what a new Chicago release could have been. Opening with "I Could Tell You Secrets" Lamm sings that "All things are connected, much more than we suspected, nothing is by chance, how would you know." True words, here. Reading between the lines, and reviewing the online session notes, reveals that several of the S&P tunes were demoed for a Chicago release in 2001. Clearly, when the group failed to get its act together, Lamm went ahead and did his own thing.

Other highlights of this collection include "Somewhere Girl," which includes a nifty horn break with some some 6:8 measures thrown in for good measure, "Another Sunday," a wistful look at dreams once had and still hoped for, "Gimme Gimme," a biting and gutsy look at the plethora of awards shows and competitions, and "For You Kate," a sweet but not sappy love song to his daughter.

Lee Loughnane, Chicago's trumpet-meister, plays throughout the record, with appearances also by Walt Parazaider and James Pankow, Chicago's reed and trombone men. The horn arrangements, although often written by others, are pure Chicago in style, tone and composition. And, in a techno-achievement reminiscent of the Beatles recording new songs over old John Lennon demos, Lamm and producer-co-writer-co-performer Hank Linderman have taken a 1972 Chicago demo called "Intensity" with a Terry Kath guitar break, and constructed a contemporary song around that solo. Touches in this song remind the listener of Chicago in its best period, with horn riffs straight out of Chicago VI and VIII, and even an audio artifact at the beginning of the song that sounds just like the beginning of "What's This World Coming To," off VI. Definitely cool.

The best part of S&P, however, is that -- finally -- one of the sources of the Chicago sound has given us the next best thing to a Chicago-in-its-heyday album, full of hope, full of musicality, and full of promise of things to come. At this late date, and with the principals approaching and passing age 60 (scroll down), we may never see or hear the Chicago that got us excited years ago. Robert Lamm's "Subtlety and Passion" comes close, however.This is the best composition, performance and horn work on a Chicago (or proto-Chicago) record since Chicago XIV, released in 1980. Any fan of Chicago, or horn driven rock and roll, must have this album.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Others, i.e., Instapundit, have commented on the Administration proposals for lifetime imprisonment of suspected terrorists. Call me a raging radical if you will, but when I hear of things like lifetime -- or indefinite -- imprisonment, without due process, right to counsel, burden of proof, adnd the like, I think two things: (1) ridiculously unconstitutional; and (2) gulags/concentration camps.

What we've been hearing is that the idea has come about because these are terrorists; we just can't prove it. Not to be too skeptical, but shouldn't we have to prove it?

Fortunately, Senators from both sides of the aisle seem to agree.

Instapundit thinks it's an Administration trial balloon. OK, if it is, and the Administration pretty much knows it'll get shot down, then what is actually on thir collective minds? Even so, it sticks in my craw that the President of the United States is floating a trial balloon suggesting establishment of an American version of some of the worst that the Nazis or the Soviets ever perpetrated. That we can treat it so lightly is -- or should be -- of great concern to us as a society.
In the wake of the extraordinary disaster in Southeast Asia, help is coming from all quarters:
Four doctors from the Hadassah Medical Center at Ein Kerem left Israel for Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday to aid victims of an undersea earthquake that struck off the coast of Indonesia.

Prof. Avi Rivkind, Head of General Surgery and the Trauma Unit, Prof. Dan Engelhardt, the Head of Pediatrics, and anesthesiologists Prof. Yoel Donchin and Dr. Yuval Meroz were sent at the request of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and will use their vast experience and expertise to provide medical services to those suffering in the aftermath of the catastrophic tidal wave.

Israel and the Hadassah Medical Organization have a long history of sending rescue missions to parts of the world affected by natural disasters and war, most recently including the Turkish earthquake and the war in Kosovo, where Drs. Engelhardt and Donchin set up a Macedonian mobile medical unit to treat refugees from the war.

Every little bit counts.