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2006 February 17 — Why Now?
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My Wild Life

Just before noon my Mother called and asked me to go to her friend’s house because there was injured animal in her bushes and it wouldn’t leave. Why Miss Thelma didn’t call Animal Control is beyond me, but I drove over to her house.

She pointed to low bush in her backyard where I found a red fox vixen lying on her side. The fox appeared to have an injury to her fore legs and was not able to get away. If the vixen had been at all aggressive I would have put her down, suspecting rabies, but she acted defensive so I called Animal Control as she was too large for my carrier.

The laws about animals are really confusing. You have to have the proper license to deal with the specific animal. For alligators and bears you have to call a licensed trapper, migratory waterfowl belong to the Feds, but red foxes are a non-native wild animal so Animal Control will deal with them.

In about 15 minutes a young woman drove up in a white van, and Miss Thelma showed her age: “My goodness, they’ve sent a girl!”

Despite being “a girl”, she made a quick capture with a minimum of force and removed the animal from Miss Thelma’s yard. They are probably going to have to put the vixen down because the forelegs looked broken, but there’s a chance.

So, I go out and am feeding the cats at 5pm and suddenly it’s raining feathers. Just about three feet above my head a sharp shinned hawk has caught a dove. The hawk wasn’t much bigger than the dove and it struggled to fly away with it. Because of the awkward flight I was able to see the distinctive tail banding that confirmed my initial identification.

Wild animals have shown great resilience to the intrusion of man.

February 17, 2006   Comments Off on My Wild Life

Cheney and Classification

By now you’ve heard: Cheney Says He Can Declassify Information.

In comments Steve Bates pointed to an article by Steven Clemons at The Washington Note who identifies the basis for the claim as Executive Order 12958, which was written under the Clinton administration.

I’m with Clemons based on personal experience: Cheney has been given the authority to classify information, but the only information he can de-classify on his own under the order are those he classified.

Protecting classified information is expensive, so it has a time span. Based on time limits, documents are reviewed periodically for declassification. The key is that the decision to approve declassification is made by the authority for the original classification. NSA cannot declassify CIA documents.

The President can request declassification, and that request would probably be honored, but the form has to be signed by the original classification authority to be legal. Every classified document has a paper trail.

As I’ve mentioned it in the past here is the text I’ve been referencing in Executive Order 12958 – Classified National Security Information:

Section 1.8. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations.

(a) In no case shall information be classified in order to:

(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;

(2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;

(3) restrain competition; or

(4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of national security.

Just so we’re clear on this.

February 17, 2006   Comments Off on Cheney and Classification

Algebra? We Don’t Need No Stinking Algebra!

P.Z. Myers has a post, Richard Cohen, advocate for ignorance castigating Mr. Cohen for saying that people don’t need to understand algebra, and that language and history are more important. According to Mr. Cohen, you can buy a calculator to deal with math. Others have been less strident, and some agree that there is some logic to Mr. Cohen’s claim.

First of all, it is algebra that provides the logic and rules you need to enter the numbers and symbols into a calculator to get a meaningful answer to anything more complex than addition or subtraction.

If you believe that financial institutions will automatically give you the best rates on your loans and savings, making comparisons unnecessary, you don’t need algebra.

If you think politicians always tell you the truth about what they are doing with taxes and spending, you don’t need algebra.

If you believe that contractors always provide accurate estimates, you don’t need algebra.

If I have a complex problem I will write a computer program to solve the problem. Without the logic of algebra I can’t write that program. I don’t have to do the addition, subtraction, etc. but I do have to understand the logic involved.

You have to make a lot of decisions in life that are based on numbers: job offers, purchases, spending, etc. If you don’t understand the logic involved in making meaningful comparisons, you might as well flip a coin. It’s your choice: luck, or learn the logic required to make an informed decision.

You really need to experience a range of things in high schools. Reading and writing are the most important skills that need to be developed because everything else depends on it, but you need to understand numbers and science in today’s world or have the money to buy the knowledge.

English, social studies, science, and mathematics are not a lot to ask from people who are going to be allowed to vote.

February 17, 2006   Comments Off on Algebra? We Don’t Need No Stinking Algebra!

Friday Cat Blogging

[Kevin Drum]

Sox Needs Scratch

Friday Cat Blogging

Stop with the cat treats and bright lights! I need my tummy scratched, Neow!

[Editor: Sox can get vocal when he’s looking for attention.]

Friday Ark

February 17, 2006   Comments Off on Friday Cat Blogging