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Thursday, June 21, 2001
saw this wired article about jean giraud (he designed for tron!) and a movie he's doing called thru the moebius strip that looks pretty cool, not to be finished until 2003 tho.

it also linked to a sad story that never was by mark frauenfelder (of ukelele fame :) about a kurosawa-otomo collab on giraud's airtight garage. otomo's memories, which might've came out around the same time, looks really good too.

vaughn bode artwork (via boingboing). it's all good, but definitely check out rudolf! oh and war lizard...

IN A DORM ROOM dimly lit by a lava lamp, a freshman awaits the beginning of his first LSD trip. Slowly, the walls come alive and begin to dance with colour. And then he sees whirling spirals of stars that disappear into the distance. A network of cobwebs that grows across the room. An infinite subway tube, surrounded by fluorescent lights...

Across campus, his science teachers experience their own psychedelic visions--but without resorting to illegal mind-altering substances. Jack Cowan, a mathematician and neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, has built a neural network so powerful it can trip out. His computer's hallucinations match with almost spooky accuracy the visions of acid trippers, shamans and seers--visions that have always been interpreted as revelations from a transcendental consciousness.

Now, after more than two decades, Cowan and his team think they have found where hallucinations really come from. And there's nothing transcendental about it. An LSD trip is really a journey into the brain, says Cowan. "It's just the innate tendency of the brain to make patterns when it goes unstable."

Wednesday, June 20, 2001
was on yahoo reading about the suit against walmart for discrimination against women and noticed the articles on the side on women's issues. the latimes had one called the sleeping political giant about how motherhood is seldom politicized, but when it is it becomes a really powerful force (for good :) you kinda figure if you help mom out you make the world a better place, and you can't argue with that! there was also the state of the world's mothers 2001 from save the children with a mothers' index and a girls' investment index for rankings and perspective. read the executive summary.

was also on slashdot reading about using gold as online currency and there was this post that linked to this article called the end of ordinary money (which is really good :) "I additionally believed that one of our best defenses against the national security state was the perennial proclivity of clandestine organizations to piss off their own employees [2]." there's also a part II, and it turns out a wealth of information on money and cryptology! thank you j. orlin grabbe. read his mission statement.

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

nerve interview with samuel r. delaney (via boingboing)
gay orgies in the early sixties on the lower east side (at the docks), lesbian pornography : straight men :: kirk-spock slash : hetero women, the alien and the unthinkable, organizing places for desire and the possible.

an interview with greg egan (via dev null)
important new medical physical writer :)

george meyer interview in the new yorker (the simpsons archive)
wrote brother's little helper :)

more mark and mike shows! (from 0tv)
american movie cont. 12, 13, 14 - fan interaction, 15 - pilgrimage to texas chainsaw massacre locations.

Monday, June 18, 2001
saw o brother, where art thou? yesterday. boss hog was pretty funny. also there were these discovery channel shows, the ultimate guide: ants and planet storm, that were really good. cool stuff on celestial ant navigation, the medicinal properties of bull ants and caterpillar-ant relations. planet storm rocked. they showed what would happen if the great red spot (proportionally) hit miami, what flying on an airplane through jupiter's atmosphere is like and some beast of a coronal mass ejection frying earth's ozone layer.

hey, also found out they're house centipedes! btw, that outkast video for BOB is awesome :)

June 13, 2001

Page One Feature
A Coal-Fired Crusade Helped Bring
Crucial Victory to Candidate Bush

BECKLEY, W.Va. -- William Raney opened the West Virginia Coal Association's annual meeting here last month by congratulating the group for helping George W. Bush win this traditionally Democratic state.

"You did everything you could to elect a Republican president," Mr. Raney, the organization's director, told the 150 industry executives. Now, "you are already seeing in his actions the payback, if you will, his gratitude for what we did."

Mr. Raney was the middleman in an unlikely triumvirate that helped pull off a political coup and gave coal a significant edge in this year's energy debate. His partner in the effort was James H. "Buck" Harless, the union-battling patriarch of West Virginia's coal industry, who encouraged Mr. Raney and the state's coal establishment to back Mr. Bush early on and urged the campaign not to cede West Virginia to Al Gore. The third ally was Charles "Dick" Kimbler, an unemployed miners' union official who blamed Clinton-Gore environmental policies for killing his job and was enlisted by Mr. Raney to neutralize the Democrats' advantage with union voters.

With their assistance, Mr. Bush carried a state that hadn't backed a nonincumbent Republican for president since Herbert Hoover in 1928. That gave Mr. Bush West Virginia's five electoral votes -- the equivalent of his victory margin over Mr. Gore. Now, the industry is enjoying a decidedly coal-friendly president, who is reversing an anticoal-policy trend that began gathering momentum when Mr. Bush's father signed the Clean Air Act of 1990.

In its first five months, the new administration has retracted a pledge to cut coal-related carbon-dioxide emissions, backed coal advocates for key political jobs and unveiled an energy policy that includes no effort to wean the nation off the environmentally troublesome fuel. The administration also appears to be relaxing restrictions on the industry's most controversial practice -- blowing up mountain peaks to expose lucrative coal seams.

White House spokesman Tucker Eskew says the administration isn't rewarding West Virginia's coal industry for its political support. "It's always good for campaign workers to feel appreciated, but it is even better for elected officials to do in office what they said they would do in the campaign, and that's what we are doing with regards to energy and a wide range of issues," he says.

Nonetheless, Mr. Harless is pleased: "We were looking for friends, and we found one in George W. Bush," he says.

At 81 years old, Mr. Harless is the last of West Virginia's homegrown coal barons. Long a local kingmaker, he hadn't ventured into national politics much. But in April 1999, he crossed the narrow wooden bridge from his island home on the Guyandotte River to his helicopter pad, took a chopper to his private jet at the Charleston airport and flew to Austin, Texas, to meet then-Gov. Bush.

At the time, Mr. Bush's nascent campaign saw little hope of carrying West Virginia and was interested in Mr. Harless mainly for his fund-raising potential. At a luncheon for two dozen prospective fund-raisers, the governor and the coal titan hit it off immediately, with Mr. Bush dubbing his guest "Big Buck." At one point, Mr. Harless asked Mr. Bush how his views on the environment compared with those of Mr. Gore, who had advocated increasing taxes on fossil fuels in order to discourage their use.

The candidate replied that he favored fossil fuels but didn't want to let Mr. Gore paint him as being against the environment, so he planned to depict his opponent as an extremist, Mr. Harless recalls. "It was obvious then that he wasn't going to be like Gore and stop coal," Mr. Harless adds. A White House spokesman said he wouldn't confirm details of Mr. Bush's conversations with supporters.

Fueling the industry's fears of a Gore presidency was a fierce attack that environmentalists were waging against mountaintop-removal mining. The industry contends the practice is the only economically viable way to extract coal from certain locations. Mr. Harless praises the resulting flat spaces as an added benefit for this mountainous state; he owns part of an industrial park on a flattened mountain near his tiny hometown of Gilbert. His own company has blown up several peaks and plans to start work on another this year to take advantage of rising coal prices.

Critics say the practice destroys streams, disrupts wildlife and turns distinctive Appalachian hills and hollows into rolling prairie, despite rules that require mining companies to try to reconstruct demolished peaks. Environmentalists sued in 1998, temporarily stopping big new mountaintop-removal projects in the state. Though the Clinton-Gore administration didn't support an outright ban, it occasionally sided with the environmentalists.

"I believe in protecting nature as much as you can, [but] these things are put here by our maker for our use," says Mr. Harless. "I have been in business for 53 years -- built it from nothing. I worried that if Al Gore got elected, it could all disappear. I decided that I needed to fight much harder than I ever had."

So he signed up as a Bush "pioneer," pledging to raise $100,000. Bush aides were skeptical -- the whole of West Virginia had contributed just $22,154 to Bob Dole's 1996 primary campaign -- so they gave the state a short-term goal of $35,000.

They underestimated Mr. Harless. By August 1999, West Virginians had donated $200,000 to Mr. Bush. The final total exceeded $275,000 -- five times Mr. Gore's statewide take. All told, coal interests nationwide donated $3.8 million for the 2000 election, tripling their 1996 contributions; about 88% went to Republicans.

Beyond Money

Mr. Harless's contribution went beyond money. During the primary, he damped support here for Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain by coming out early for Mr. Bush. And during the general election, he regularly encouraged Bush coordinators to make an aggressive push in West Virginia. "We felt we had a chance," he says, "because of the Al Gore situation."

Thanks to his prominence in business and his philanthropy, Mr. Harless holds considerable political sway in West Virginia. He was an important early backer of Republican Cecil Underwood, who won an upset gubernatorial victory in 1996. "Buck Harless controls the thought processes of the people in the coal fields," says Democrat Ken Hechler, a former West Virginia congressman who has crossed swords with the industry.

Orphaned as an infant and raised by an aunt and uncle, Mr. Harless began his career as a coal-company laborer and later invested in sawmills and mines. Today, he controls 20 businesses -- mostly in coal, lumber and hauling-equipment. His Gilbert-based private holding company, International Industries, employs 1,800 and has annual revenue of $180 million. Though unions are active throughout the state, there are no unions in his mines.

Mr. Harless's largess has given Gilbert (population 512) a patina of prosperity that neighboring coal communities lack. To honor his late son, who complained as a boy that there was "nothing to do," he built a community center that includes a computer room, gym, fitness center, indoor track, pool and three movie theaters, even though no filmgoers show up some nights. He also financed a high-school auditorium in Gilbert, as well as classrooms, labs, student centers and scholarships at state universities.

"We trust Mr. Harless," says Sharon Lester, the community center's receptionist. "Whoever he says we should back, we do because he has done so much for us."

Among the first people Mr. Harless contacted about the presidential campaign after meeting Mr. Bush was Mr. Raney, whom Mr. Harless had a hand in picking to run the coal association. Mr. Raney enthusiastically joined the Bush effort, reaching out to both executives and mine workers. "We all felt threatened" by Mr. Gore, Mr. Raney says.

He focused much of his energy on United Mine Workers union members, who had been his allies in the mountaintop-mining fight. In July 1998, environmentalists and local residents had sued in federal court in Charleston, the state capital, to block St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc.'s plan to expand its Dal-Tex mountaintop-mining operation in Logan County by 3,200 acres. The suit sought to halt all new major mountaintop mines in the state, alleging violations of federal environmental laws.

In early 1999, U.S. District Judge Charles Haden blocked state permits for Arch's mine, and the Army Corps of Engineers ordered a lengthy environmental review, prompting the company to lay off or transfer nearly 400 UMW workers. That October, a more sweeping, statewide ruling by Judge Haden severely limited mine-related damage to streams, which typically are buried when adjacent peaks are blasted.

The industry argued that the order, which was stayed pending appeal, would kill large-scale surface mining in West Virginia. Though not involved initially, the Clinton-Gore administration filed a plaintiff-friendly brief before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, arguing that federal courts had jurisdiction in the matter. Then, when Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia tried to overturn the Haden order legislatively, the administration successfully opposed him. The Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, tried to force the state to toughen water-quality rules to protect threatened streams.

"The mountaintop-removal controversy played significantly in the electoral events of 2000," says John McCutcheon, Bush's West Virginia campaign director, citing economic worries in coal country. "For many people, this foreshadowed what would happen to the entire state" if Mr. Gore won.

That sentiment was particularly strong among unemployed Dal-Tex workers. Mr. Raney worked closely with Mr. Kimbler, the head of Dal-Tex's UMW local, to build pressure for reopening the Dal-Tex mine by demonstrating and lobbying state and federal officeholders. Mr. Raney also urged Mr. Kimbler to focus his anger on Mr. Gore.

Initially cool to the vice president, the UMW eventually endorsed him. But Mr. Kimbler, a lifelong Democrat, bucked his union's leaders. "Al Gore was an extreme environmentalist, and if he won, he'd shut down the whole state," Mr. Kimbler says. By early 2000, Mr. Raney was driving Mr. Kimbler around West Virginia to make joint pro-Bush pitches to miners and executives.

A Godson's Influence

Mr. Harless's effort to persuade the Bush campaign that West Virginia was winnable got a boost when Austin-based Bush aide Collister "Coddy" Johnson was assigned to track West Virginia. Mr. Johnson, Mr. Bush's godson, worked under Robert "Mike" Duncan, a regional captain who was pushing a strategy aimed at industrial states in the Ohio River Valley. Dubbed "cars and coal," the strategy involved reaching out to auto workers, miners and others resentful of Mr. Gore's environmental stances. Impressed by Messrs. Harless, Raney and Kimbler, Mr. Johnson urged the campaign to take the state seriously.

By summer 2000, some polls gave Mr. Bush a lead here, so his aides made a last-minute decision to hold a rally in Charleston on Aug. 1, en route to the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Mr. Harless was already at the convention -- his first -- but he flew then-Gov. Underwood and other friends back on his jet and met Mr. Bush at a monument for West Virginia veterans that Mr. Harless had financed a decade earlier. An executive who works for Mr. Harless helped arrange for the Marshall University marching band to provide music for the unexpectedly large crowd of 5,000. Mr. Harless is a member of the university's foundation board.

The Bush campaign had designated veterans and defense as the day's theme, but the West Virginians persuaded Austin officials to add coal to the mix. Campaign aides scheduled the candidate for a brief photo session with Messrs. Raney and Kimbler on the runway just before Mr. Bush left for Philadelphia -- a meeting that ended up lasting 20 minutes. The men say Mr. Bush took notes as they discussed mountaintop mining and coal country's battered economy. Mr. Raney says Mr. Bush expressed a desire to see West Virginia's unemployed coal miners back at work.

"He told me then that if he carries West Virginia he will ... get everything straightened out," Mr. Kimbler recalls. "I stuck with George Bush because he is truthful, and I could tell that the first time I met him. He's just an old country boy."

Hours later, campaign manager Don Evans, now commerce secretary, surprised Mr. Kimbler by calling him from the convention floor to say coal was important to Mr. Bush's vision of the future. Mr. Evans also called Mr. Raney. "He asked us, 'How do we put the wheels on this thing so we can win West Virginia?' " Mr. Raney recalls.

The result was the Balanced Energy Coalition for Bush-Cheney, a group headed by Messrs. Raney and Kimbler. In the early fall, the coalition held a conference call with Mr. Evans in which members complained about delayed mining permits and a recent Bush campaign statement favoring limits on power plants' carbon-dioxide emissions. The group also lobbied employers, including Mr. Harless, to send letters to workers explaining energy issues in ways that hinted that voting for Mr. Bush would be in the employees' best interest.

Mr. Kimbler also formed a pro-Bush organization in eight southern coal counties. "I would go way up into the hollows and talk to people, and they would say to me, 'This is the first time anybody's asked for my vote,' " he says. "I went on TV and told them I was the president of UMW Local 2935 and I was backing George Bush and asking all the people to vote for him. The mineworkers union got [mad] at me. But I wouldn't stop."

The Bush team became convinced that West Virginia was up for grabs. Surrogates, including the candidate's parents and running mate Dick Cheney, stumped the state. On Oct. 2, the day before his first debate with Mr. Gore, Mr. Bush returned for a rally for 7,000 at Riverside Park in Huntington. The event was staged on three barges -- one for a band, one for fireworks and a third for the candidate and dignitaries, including Mr. Harless, whose staff helped the campaign obtain two of the barges.

'Fear' of Coal

Mr. Kimbler, wearing his miner's helmet, introduced Mr. Bush with a broadside at Mr. Gore: "The Democrat administration shut my mine down, and I lost my job." The crowd roared as Mr. Bush castigated the Clinton-Gore team as "an administration that fears coal."

"When he was here, he could feel the enthusiasm," says Mr. Harless.

The candidate came back again days before the election, on Nov. 3, telling several thousand people packed in the Morgantown High School gym, "Coal is going to help energize America" and accusing Mr. Gore of being "asleep at the switch" on energy issues.

Mr. Gore visited the state twice but never effectively countered the onslaught. Though Mr. Gore carried most southern coal counties, Mr. Bush did far better than past GOP presidential candidates. In Mingo and Logan, Mr. Gore won with 61%, but that was the worst Democratic showing since 1972. And Mr. Bush won two coal counties, Raleigh and Mercer. All told, Mr. Bush won West Virginia with 52% of the vote. By comparison, Mr. Dole won just 37% in 1996. Not all Republicans fared well: Democrat Bob Wise defeated Gov. Underwood's re-election bid by 50% to 47%.

Factors other than coal contributed to Mr. Bush's victory here, including aggressive efforts on his behalf by the National Rifle Association and antiabortion groups. But state political veterans and top White House staffers concur that it was basically a coal-fired victory.

After the postelection tangle in Florida, Mr. Bush invited his coal friends to Washington. "He sent me tickets to the inauguration and asked me to join him with the first group to tour the White House," says Mr. Kimbler. During the tour, Mr. Kimbler recalls, the new president told the miner that he wouldn't forget him.

Nor did Mr. Bush forget Mr. Harless, who contributed $100,000 to the president-elect's inaugural fund and was appointed to his transition task force on energy. At a Library of Congress reception before the swearing-in, Mr. Bush told Mr. Harless he had been right about the campaign's chances of winning West Virginia, Mr. Harless says. Mr. Raney recalls a similar chat with the president when he visited Charleston after the inauguration: "He told me that he is appreciative and that he knows if not for us, he wouldn't be president," Mr. Raney says.

Familiar Faces

Months later, all three men attended an invitation-only briefing on the president's energy plan, and today they can find familiar faces throughout the capital. Mr. Johnson, the presidential godson, is the White House deputy director of political operations. Mr. Duncan, the regional campaign chief, now is the Republican National Committee's treasurer. Mr. McCutcheon, the campaign's West Virginia director, is White House liaison to the Energy Department.

On mountaintop-mining issues, the coal folks are satisfied thus far. This spring, the EPA dropped its objections to state water-quality rules it previously deemed inadequate. In April, a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Haden's antimining ruling as improper meddling in state affairs. The plaintiffs are appealing to the full court, but the Justice Department, after previously helping the environmentalists, has asked for time to reconsider the government's stance. The coal companies aren't getting everything they want: The Bush administration last month decided to defend Clinton-era rules making it easier for miners to collect benefits for black-lung disease.

Mr. Harless says he is pushing for only one favor: a job for Terry Sammons, a coal miner's son from Gilbert whom Mr. Harless has mentored for 25 years. One of Mr. Sammons's first jobs was with Mr. Harless's company. He later became an attorney and represented the industry in the mountaintop-mining suit, successfully negotiating with environmentalists to settle some aspects of it and winning their respect in the process.

Mr. Harless and others here want him to be named administrator of the EPA's regional bureau in Philadelphia. That's the same office that had opposed West Virginia's water rules as too weak. Mr. Sammons is one of several candidates the White House is considering for the post.

Write to Tom Hamburger at

Friday, June 15, 2001

the energy web (via disinfo)

pure noise (via SDB)

e-gold (via boingboing)

police state under putin (via drudge)

sitting around and getting high (this metafilter thread)

the worst place on earth (same thread via linkworthy)

Thursday, June 14, 2001
slightly sour milk in coffee and cheerios. slightly moldy bread toasted and crumbled. slightly spoiled romaine hearts, chopped. drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar. grated parmesan romano cheese. bubbly fermented orange juice. can of corn and peaches.

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

erich fromm's humanist credo
kinda like what chris rock said, "yeah, you can do it... but that don't make it a good idea." more stuff here.

playboy interview with chuck palahniuk (via plastic)
the tragic genesis of choke, dissection, marilyn manson and ron howard, (un)provoked fights, and a weird seance.

another conversation with chuck palahniuk (via dev null)
funny business proposition :)

macroknow (welcome to the machine)
stuff on the electronic control of human economic life (by the money trust), the future of science and technology, and the propagation of flaws in the machinery of the law (helpful infographic).

matthew white's homepage (via metafilter)
cool maps, real and surreal history. links!

Tuesday, June 12, 2001
tony points to the july-ish of sciam, "consciousness, they say, is an irreducible phenomenon, much like space, time and gravity."

bazooka joe comix (via sensible erection)

i think, therefore i am john ritter (jack handey? via stile project)

Monday, June 11, 2001
saw this movie about the US forest service, the ranger, the cook and a hole in the sky w/ jerry o'connell, molly parker, sam elliott (mustacheless) and ricky jay! i think i've seen it before, but it was still pretty neat.

here's a pdf of the human capital century and american leadership: virtues of the past by claudia goldin.

The modern concept of the wealth of nations emerged by the early twentieth century. Capital embodied in people human capital mattered. The United States led all nations in mass postelementary education during the "human-capital century." The American system of education was shaped by New World endowments and Republican ideology and was characterized by virtues including publicly funded mass education that was open and forgiving, academic yet practical, secular, gender neutral, and funded and controlled by small districts. The American educational template was a remarkable success, but recent educational concerns and policy have redefined some of its "virtues" as "vices."

a r c h i v e

w r i t t e n
get out
on violence
horror story
disney land
from earth
human matrix
crazy guy
US engagement

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