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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Justice Department Investigating Couric Price Gouging

DLMSY has learned that there is an ongoing investigation in the Justice Department into whether Katie Couric's $15 million salary for her new job at CBS constitutes price gouging by Couric. Privately, some CBS officials have been grumbling about the dramatic spike in the cost of news anchors, fearing it it could prove to be a millstone, deep-sixing the company's profits for years.

CBS, desparate to restore credibility and ideological balance to its news team, decided early on that a strong, liberal voice was essential for the new anchor. Unfortunately, the network ran directly into a severe shortage of liberal views in the major media. "Air America basically sucked up all the liberals. Now who knows where they are?" opined industry analyst Stewart Smalley. With such a small pool of media liberals remaining, CBS was caught in a squeeze and forced to pay an outrageous price for Couric's services.

There can be little doubt CBS is overpaying as a result. Even assuming no vacations or holidays, Couric will receive over $40,000 per night of news. The actual value of her services has been estimated at no more than a couple of hundred a night, tops.

Some question how an indictment, let alone a conviction, could possibly be obtained for "price gouging," a crime with no definition. However, the recent US Supreme Court decision in the Texas case, Earle v. Ham Sandwich, has given prosecutors much more lattitude in making up the law as they go along when a high profile defendant is involved.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Iran Nukes Holland. European Leaders Warn Against US Overreaction

European leaders appealed to the US not to "inflame the situation" after an Iranian nuclear bomb was exploded in Amsterdam today. President Bush condemned the bombing and promised a swift response. French President Jacques Chirac called for an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council to condemn any American use of force.

Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed for calm, "It's critical that all parties exercise restraint, so that the crisis can be defused."

A spokesman for Russian President Putin added, "Any retaliation would just make the Iranians harden their position and drive them away from negotiations." The Russians are said to be working on a proposal to supply Iran with long range missiles in exchange for the elimination of Iran's own missile development program.

It appears the attack was meant to be in retaliation for last year's publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons satirizing Mohammed. Instead the attack hit Holland, when the Iranian Supreme Ayatollah became confused about the difference between Dutch and Danish.

A highly placed EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed shock at the attack, "We really thought they'd hit Israel first, so naturally we weren't all that concerned. We knew the Israelis would take out Iran in response, essentially solving the problem for us. Now those Jews and the Americans have screwed us again."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad apologized profusely for the mistake and indicated flexibility and a desire for reconciliation. "Death to all the Zionist Crusader nations," he said. He also denied that the Israeli promise to "turn Mecca into a 100-mile wide crater" if attacked, had anything to do with the decision to attack Denmark/Holland instead of Israel.

The Dutch government could not be reached for comment.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Word Play

Awhile back Monica, aka Grizzly Mama, said on her blog that she was "incorrigible." I replied in a comment that actually she's quite corrigible. Corrigible is a real word, although much less commonly used than the negated form.

I thought that was amusing, so I began looking for other word pairs like that. You may hear someone described as disgruntled, but was he ever gruntled in the first place? Could be, because gruntled is a word, although it was derived from disgruntled fairly recently.

If your friend is disconsolate and gets better, is she consolate? Nope. No such word. For awhile I was unnerved by this kind of thing, but now I'm nerved again.

Some might say Jimmy Carter is a person of ineffable stupidity. Others would argue that his stupidity is, in fact, effable.

Then there are the words where the negative prefix appears to have no effect whatsoever. Flammable and inflammable are the best known example of this, although etymologically they have different roots. Ravel and unravel are another.
On a largely unrelated note, a personal pet peeve of mine is the term "quantum jump" or "quantum leap," used to indicate a major advance or change, especially in technology. Nothing could be further from the truth, since a "quantum" change is the smallest possible change between two states.

Quantum theory holds that even things we perceive to be "continuous" functions, like the speed your car is traveling, are actually not "continuous." That is, not all values are possible for the car's speed. As a made up example, your car may be able to go at 60.5982345690442805953422 mph, but the next fastest allowed speed might be 60.5982345690442805953424 mph. As you accelerate, the car jumps right from the first speed to the second without ever passing through the speeds in between, because there are no speeds in between.

Here in the macroscopic world the number of allowed speeds is great, and the spacings between the allowed speeds, those "quantum leaps," are infinitesimally small. So it appears that all speeds are allowed. At the level of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles the consequences of quantization are important (and easy to discern).

The next time someone tells you he is going to take a quantum leap forward, just yawn and ask him to make a significant change instead.

AP Discovers Blogs in Iraq

The AP's Mariam Fam has made a startling discovery: There are actual blogs by Iraqis. She writes:
Zeyad is a 27-year-old dentist. He works for a government clinic with broken dental chairs and no anesthetics. At home, when gunfire rattles his neighborhood, Zeyad's family cowers in one room murmuring prayers while he types away on his computer.

Zeyad is a blogger.

Blogging was rare in former president Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the now-famous "Salman Pax" an important exception. Today, however, blogging is providing many ordinary Iraqis with a voice -- a chance to vent and reflect on the changes reshaping their country.
Well, better late than never, we suppose. It's not a bad article, reasonably balanced. It is mostly about Zeyad's blog, Healing Iraq, but it also mentions a few others: Hammorabi; Bagdad Burning; and Mesopotamian. This just scratches the surface, of course, and leaves out the original, Iraq the Model. The ITM blogroll alone has 34 links under Iraqi blogs, and that's just the English ones.