laptop fuel cells

ok, this does sound good at first blush:

LG Chem is on the ball when it comes to fuel cell technology. They have developed a fuel cell unit for user in notebooks that can power a 25W unit for up to 10 hours. The only problem is that it is an external unit so that makes yet another accessory that you would have to lug around with you:

Different from the concept announced by Taiwan-based Antig Technology at the CeBIT trade fair earlier this year and other companies before, this product works as an external power supply connected to a notebook through a DC-in jack, LG Chem explained. The device weighs less than 1kg, and one 200cc methanol cartridge is enough to power a 25W notebook for more than 10 hours, LG Chem said. The company expects that cartridges will be priced under US$1. The base unit price will be around US$500.

but think for a moment. How are you going to get through airport security with multiple 200cc vials of methanol? I wouldn't even try.



We're home, highway speed from Katy to League City right through downtown. No flood damage, though there were a few shingles strewn about the yard. I will call a roofer to inspect and make sure that there wasn't anything more serious. The power had clearly been out for some time, given the oozed tubes of toothpaste in the bathroom, but was back on when we got home. I unloaded the car and will tackle the plywood later this afternoon when it isn't as insanely hot. My wife is already on shift at UTMB in Galveston and is on call. Back to normal :)

Other Houston bloggers are returning too - Charles had no trouble getting home from Dallas on I-45. We should throw a post-Rita blogger party :)


Khidmat is not a zero-sum game

I have been involved for nearly a decade in the development of a portal site for my religious community, the Dawoodi Bohras. We recently have upgraded servers again, planning to retire our aging boxes. The new server hardware, donated by EZZI.NET of Long Island, is running 64-bit CentOS Linux and will support SMP. One of our long term goals in this is to cultivate a skill set within our community to help leverage technology in service of our religious observance and preservation of our culture (a modernist streak that runs deep in our community, profiled by Jonah Blank in Mullahs on the Mainframe). To that end, we have launched a blog that details the technical side of maintaining our community infrastructure. I encourage anyone (Bohras or otherwise) interested in building a communications infrastructure for their own community to take a look.

Houston reawakens

The Houston chronicle has been superb - they have two Rita-themed blogs, one called The Road Home, which has latest user-supplied information about road conditions as evacuees return to Houston from Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas, and also the Rita Blog, which has tons of helpful info about gas stations, supermarket re-openings, power restoration, etc. Everything we need to know.

My home in Dickinson looks like it should have power restored by the time we get back. We plan on leaving Tuesday morning; my wife has to be back at UTMB by wednesday morning.

Also via Eric Berger, a good analysis of why the evacuation - though impressive in scope - was so painful:

Hurricane planners have a little ditty that goes, "run from the water, hide from the wind."

It means evacuate if you are in a coastal surge area, but hunker down if you are in an area that will get hurricane-force winds and rain only.

The biggest problem in Houston's painful evacuation last week was that perhaps a million people, almost half of those who left, ran from the wind. To make matters worse, the regional evacuation plan was missing a key element: pre-planned contraflow lanes that are a part of virtually every other hurricane-prone city's evacuation strategy.

This echoes Taha's comments from two days ago, IMHO. Plus, if the wind is hurricane strength and you have children, who is going to fault anyone for running from the wind?

UPDATE: Mayor White also had a similar critique:

Days after the evacuation that saw tortuous delays on Texas highways, Houston's mayor says the handling of gasoline supplies is "totally unacceptable."

Speaking to reporters, Mayor Bill White says that's a part of the state plan that needs improvement.

People trying to flee north from Houston sat in traffic all day or night, and some ran out of gas. Those who could make their way to gas stations often found the pumps empty.

we need to learn from this for next time. It went amazingly well. But it needs to be done better, especially since today's chronicle did have stories of tragedy (including the death of at least one child from heat exposure, and the infamour exploding bus) directly attributable to the titanic traffic snarls. Contraflow would have helped immeasurably, and MUST be part of the plan next time, period.

The Aggie jokes just write themselves

via Eric Berger, check out this picture of Loupot's bookstore at Texas A&M taken by Andrew McNeel.

The Aggie jokes just write themselves


sitting dry

well, we came back from masjid at around 12:30am, given that the hurricane was diverted so far to the east that it barely even rained here in Katy. Plus the hurricane was degraded down to category 1. Still, we did lose power for about 10 hours, though it just came on again about 20 minutes ago. (attn mumineen: see the Bilad e-Akhbar blog at mumineen.org for details).

So, we are in good shape. About to go back to masjid for afternoon prayer. Looks like the worst is behind us :)

Of corse, I hope our house in Dickinson is ok.. that is something I cant worry about right now though of course. We will cross that bridge when we get to it. Right now, we are all safe at my inlaws' place, and happy, and even comfortable - what more besides water, power, and DSL could we want?

sincere thanks to all bloggers and commenters who linked and sent their support and prayers our way.

Houston Makes It Through

(Guest poster Taha Raja is a businessman in the Sugarland area, a member of our local congregation of Dawoodi Bohras in Houston)

Hello all,

My name is Taha Raja, a close friend of Aziz. Fortunately, Rita barely touched us here in Katy at our masjid! It was a miracle to say the least considering the menace that was in front of us two days ago! I am now back at my house in Katy and this area barely received a couple of inches of rain and sustained winds around 30-40 mph. This was a non event for Katy Residents - Thank God!

I wanted to add that having experienced this from the beginning, I am truly impressed by the outstading leadership provided by Mayor Bill White, Judge Robert Eckels. The Greater Houston Area evacuated around 2.7 million people as per the press conference this morning! WOW! Yes we saw the gridlock, yes we saw gassless cars, and yes there was tremendous frustration. No doubt in hindsight we could have done better. But without any precendent, without knowing all the factors ahead of time, the simple fact that 2.7 million people got out in time was an amazing feat by our city, county and state leadership.

Can we improve on this? Absolutely! What can we do? Well I am sure there will be numerous pundits and experts that will analyze and cross analyse this event to come up with alternatives. In my humble opinion, I would say that if we are to expect everyone to evacuate in their own vehicles (for the most part) then the choices are going to be few and far between. There will be gridlock and there will be these surreal images of hundred mile traffic jam. But the Federal Government can assist. We can have prepositioned gasoline, motorist assistance, and other aid all along the evacuation routes. We can have as many busses as possible to increase density of evacuees - thereby reducing individual cars. We can have the "counterflow" planned and opened up prior to the evacuation orders. Staged zipcode evacuation may be an option as well - not sure exactly if this would work in a panic situation like we had.

So now in retrospect, we thank the Almighty for his grace on Houston. It was truly amazing to see a reporter showing young trees bent as the only damage in downtown this morning. And while she was reporting you could see streetlights all lit up! Power was still on in downtown. Centerpoint reports only 75000 homes without power. These are amazing statistics considering the doom and gloom we faced 2 days ago from Rita!

I do not want to undermine the total effect of this storm. Obviously there are many family, friends and citizens who are effected in the East Texas and Lousiana area. I am sure the damage there is greater and as of 6AM this morning this is still a CAT 2 Hurricane. My thoughts and prayers are still with them and as a concerned citizens, if there is any help we can provide after the fact, we should and we must! God Speed to all! Shukran! (Thank You!).


the power is ours

We chose to come to the masjid for one reason: in numbers, we have strength, and prayer. Such was our salvation. The storm is making landfall further east and there will be very little threat to Houston. There will be even less threat to Katy, where we are.

I am in our comunity's masjid in Katy, with a large fraction of the jamaat here. We were prepard to sit out the storm here. We will likely remain here until morning, but it definitely wont be as bad as was expected. We will hang out here tonight and if things are pretty calm (relatively) we might go back to my inlaws place as early as 8am. We have generators, water, food, etc here in the masjid (not to mention a wireless connection :) so we are all set.

shelter in place

ok, final decision. Headed to masjid for mghrib, will sta there tonight and most of tomorrow until storm passes. Last update for a while, but cell will work for a while longer so call me :) Blogging will resume after we get back from masjid, if power and DSL still remain.


the new favorite word of every broadcaster is "contraflow". I swear I hear it a thousand times a day. All it means is that they reversed the direction of traffic on the eastbound lanes on I-10 and the southbound lanes of I-45 so that traffice could expand to those lanes also. I-45 has been positively demonic; people have spent 30 hours on the freeway and barely getting past Waco. I-10 has been pretty bad too; we did hear from some friends who made it to SA having left at 7am and taking them from between 12-15 hours. The main reason we didnt leave was concern about running out of gas and being stranded like so many have been; the aforementioned friends were driving a Camry and went without AC. That just wouldn't work for us, we need to use our big SUV to accomodate everyone and we cant go 15 hrs without AC given that we have a 3yr old. The contraflow arrangement started at 4pm and initial reports are that it did start to help clear up some of the congesion, but given the storm's continuing NE-drift, we decided to sleep comfortably here tonight and eat a good breakfast.

This morning we slept in; I tried to stay up after praying fajr but was just still wiped out from the hellish drive to Katy the day before. We just woke up and I checked the advisory, and found this from advisory #23:




Overall, the storm is weaker and is even further away. The next advisory is at 1pm, so things may change, but for now it looks like here in Katy we won't have hurricane force winds. We will likely have tropical storm force winds (39mph) and significant rain. Its even possible we wont lose water or have an electricity outage longer than a few hours. I'm being optimistic :)

So, contraflow. Our plan is to stay here, not try to reach SA. We are headed to masjid this afternoon, and will simply ride it out from here. As for our house in Dickinson, it will certainly fare worse there than here; I hope that the damage is limited to shingles and food spoilage, but it's likely that there will be some flooding. I hope the preparation we did was enough, but I just cant think about that right now. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it...



took us 9 hours to go 60 miles from our home to Katy at my in laws' place. Exhausting. Rita's track now projects to pass directly over Galveston island, which means that we are out of here. Headed to San Anonio this afternoon.

If theres any silver lining, our hourse will now be in the southeast quadrant - maybe teh wind damage will be less. But Galveston is going to be hit hard, as will the medical center in Houston.

family: cell phone shoudl still work fine, will call mom/dad when we reach san antonio.

3:40PM: nevermind, still in Katy. Traffic is impossible - will never reach San Anonio on a tank of gas. Maybe leave tonight, esp now that I-10 is open ion both directions westbound. We will see, still deciding. We are in Katy house, call us here (land line number), cell phones are intermittent.

4:00PM - woah! storm tracks are pushing further east. If it makes landfall near Beaumont then Galveston will be spared, and we prolly wont even lose power here in Katy. The thing can turn on a dime, of course. Theres supposed to have been a 4pm advisory by now but it isnt out yet. I'll check again in 15 min and try to blog again around 5pm.

ah, here it is. Public Advisory #21:


Hmm. Our plan is to stay put in Katy until this evening and re-assess whether we still want to go to San Antonio depending on whether the storm continues its curving away towards Louisiana.


batten down the hatches!

Good news, my wife is not classified as E1 so that means she wont have to ride out the storm at the hospital. She is however E2 which will be on call mmediately afterwards. If all goes well, that could be as early as sunday; if not, then possibly tuesday or even thursday. She was already given her special medical car permit so that she will have access to Galveston island despite police blockades.

We are evacuating this afternoon to my in-laws' in Katy. Due to the kindness of my neighbor, a pastor at a local church, I have precut plywood for the south and east facing windows, but all stores around here are totally out of PlyLox. I just spent a pile of money at Loews on brackets, drill bits, screws, etc to see if we can jury rig something to hold the plywood in. I'll send one car with my wife and daughter ahead and will stay behind with the handyman to finish the work, then drive out to Katy early evening. Will probably hit a lot of evacuee traffic, but c'est la vie :)

As they say, if you evacuate voluntarily, you get to go in your car, to your destination of choice. Waiting until mandatory evac means you go how and where they tell you. Any Galveston county residents: get out today.

This thing will hopefully blow over, pun intended :) I wish I had plylox; will definitely buy some after the storm. Hope I dont damaege my brick too much today, but have to do what I have to do...


Rita's comin' to Texas, folks

and she might even be headed down Galveston way. It is of course too early to make definite predictions about where Hurricane Rita is going to make landfall, but there's been a lot more consistency in the predicted tracks all of a sudden.

(scroll to the end of the post for the most recent satellite imagery and track predictions)

It's important in the wake of Katrina that we all take hurricane preparedness seriously. Other Houston-area bloggers of note are Charles and Kevin - I hope that they also keep an eye on this. A hit on our region of the Gulf is very likely and we need to make sure we are ready. Here's the relevant info page from NOAA that we should be bookmarking, especially given that Rita is predicted to gain significant strength as she rounds the Keys and engters the warm open water of the Gulf.

And Houston, not New Orleans, is the real center of gravity for oil production in this nation. And that industry is very vulnerable right now...

As far as Galveston is concerned, the great Hurricane of 1900 was the proverbial hundred year storm. Well, it's been 105 years. I live in Galveston county and I have my exit route planned. My wife is a resident at UTMB however and so it is conceivable that she might be called to duty. If that happens I am staying with her and sending the baby to safety in Katy with my in-laws.

Eric Berger did do a worst-case scenario story a while back in the Chron which put the potential damage from a "perfect" storm at about ten times the cost of Tropical Storm Allison. While wind damage woudl be pretty bad in and of itself, the storm surge along Clear Lake and the Ship Channel are the real concerns:

More devastation would be caused by winds blowing over the Gulf of Mexico and pushing surface water inland -- creating up to a 20-foot storm surge. Such a wall of water would swamp most development near Galveston Bay, including Texas City, Kemah and Johnson Space Center. Varying levels of water would flood much of the area between Sam Houston Parkway and the bay.

On Galveston Island, the seawall could hold back much of the storm surge, but at some point the water would creep onto the island from the bay side. The island's highest point is just 22 feet above sea level.

Much like a river becomes deeper and more turbulent when it narrows, a storm surge also can increase in height and intensity when its source of water narrows. Dodson said this has profound implications for the Port of Houston. Some models ended with a 30-foot wall of water in the Ship Channel near the port's turning basin, he said. "It would be huge," he said. "It could overwhelm chemical storage facilities, water treatment plants and other sensitive areas."

What was wierd about TS Allison was that it essentially parked itself over Houston for a week. The article above mentions that Allison could be considered more properly a 10,000 year event rather than a 100 year event. If thats true, then the flooding from a hurricane strike should drain relatively quickly. However, there's no real way to compare the effect of a hurricane at category 4 or 5 with the TS because of the added factor of the storm surge and winds. So really it is anyone's guess.

UPDATE: Anne has posted at BlogHouston, and so have Charles, Laurence Simon, Tom Kirkendall, and Eric Berger.

UPDATE 2. The mayor of Galveston has called for a voluntary evacuation. Buses will be provided staring at 10am wednesday. By then we should know whether Rita is really going to be knockin' on our door or not.

Here are some graphics from NOAA which should be automatically updated with the latest information. Reloading the URL to this post will give you the most recent version.

5-day cone of probability

Approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow).

72-hours 75-miles strike probability

Probability, in percent, that the center of the tropical cyclone will pass within 75 statute miles of a location during the next 72 hours.

Satellite imagery (visible spectrum)


Rennaisance, not Reformation

I'm not one to insist that you must be muslim to discuss Islam, but most of the time when non-muslims do discuss Islam the result either provokes anger or amusement in the muslim observer. Which, is really the choice of the muslim observer in question. I've decided it's better for my long-term sanity to adopt the latter.

There are however times when someone makes what I consider an honest attempt at inquiry. One such is by a new jewish blogger, Dafydd ab Hugh, who makes an analogy to "Methodist" Islam. The comments devolved quickly into the usual jafi cesspool, despite a truly noble but ultimately failed attempt at restoring perspective by Dean Esmay.

I intended to leave a short comment, but am not keen on registering with TypeKey, so I'll just post my comment here and send a trackback ping. Basically, in a nutshell, Wahhabbism IS the Reformation of Islam, sort of - and we should be discussing an Islamic Rennaisance, not a Reformation, anyway.

Here are a number of posts from past archives, both here and at other sites, that I think are relevant to the discussion. I think that given how much attention has been paid to the question of an Islamic Reformation in the past by muslim and non-muslim bloggers alike, that reading these past discussions is really basic due diligence for someone honestly interested in the topic today.

Wahabism IS the Reformation?
A dialouge of unprovable assertions
Wahabis/Salafis Again (by Zack)
Reformation this

Note, Bill Allison took some exception to the Reformation/Wahabism analogy. He also has pointed out that the Reformation was NOT a "progressive" vision of faith (contrary to Dafydd's assertion). If anything, Luther sought a return to even stricter orthodoxy!

I also think that the recent Brass Crescent Links Roundup would be useful counterweight to the more hostile commentators at Dafydd's blog. And this little Primer on Islam post has even more linkage.

No I don't really expect the jafis among us to read let alone appreciate the nuances of these previous discussions. However, it may be useful to bring them to the fore, in terms of stimulating more honest inquiry. I hope that Dafydd at the very least takes an interest.

And you know what, as long as I'm plugging old stuff, here's one of my favorite posts: Islam and Freedom. Enjoy.

Note, Tarek Heggy is beginning a series on Islam at Winds Of Change that should at least be noted. I disagree with nearly all of his assumptions and postulates. I don't know if Heggy is mulsim or not and it's not really relevant, but figured I'd just mention it for completeness.


burning any house of worship is obscene

Those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And had there not been Allah's repelling some people by others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah's name is much remembered; and surely Allah will help him who helps His cause; most surely Allah is Strong, Mighty. (Qur'an 22:40, Shakir translation)

As you may have heard, Palestinians torched synagouges left behind by the retreating Jewish settlers. I am outraged by it[1].

The situation isn't as black and white as the Israelophiles insist, of course. The decision to leave them standing was a craven act of cowardice by the Jewish authorities. Judith Weiss had a prety good point about this, warning earlier that leaving them standing would be a mistake, and then observing after their destruction:

In the end, though, the Israeli Government decided that desecration by Arabs would be more commensurate with the ethics and morale of the Jewish state than destruction by the IDF’s troops.

Further, the actual sanctity of the buildings themselves was essentially zero, given that all items of religious significance were removed:

As the settlers left their homes last month, they took the Torah scrolls, prayer books and other holy items from the synagogues, symbolizing the end of the use of the buildings as houses of prayer.

(The Jerusalem Post). Really, it's desecration of the sentimental, rather than the sacred, that we are talking about here, as opposed to many tragic examples of actively-in-use synagouge-desecration in the past.

Finally, the Sharon government had anticipated that the structures would be destroyed and left them intact regardless:

Citing fears of desecration, the cabinet originally planned to destroy the 17 synagogues left standing in 21 Gaza settlements that were evacuated and demolished last month.

But the government backtracked on Sunday under pressure from rabbis who said the demolition of houses of worship by Jews would be the greater sin.

(Ha'aretz). Not just Sharon. Minister Mofaz had a convenient change of heart himself:

Speaking publicly for the first time since he flip-flopped on his decision to leave Gaza synagogues intact, Mofaz said he just couldn't bear to lend his hand to the destruction of a Jewish house of worship.

"As a Jew it was hard for me to give orders to IDF soldiers to blow up a synagogue, so I asked that it be reconsidered," Mofaz said. "I believe that there are issues where Israel as a Jewish state considers the decisions of the rabbis," Mofaz said. "We also have to take into account the decisions of rabbis abroad. We knew that the Palestinians would respond to the decision, and the rabbis decided it would be better that the synagogues be destroyed at the hands of Palestinians than at the hands of the IDF."

What a puerile fool. He desecrates these places of worship by using them as pawns, just as much as the mobs torching them.

Still, despite the Israeli and Israelophile melodrama that the act of burning these buildings has generated, it is still inexcusable.

Make no mistake in my position: the synagouges should have been dismantled, and if the Israeli government was too craven to shoot their own dog, then the PA should have stepped up to the plate. The PA had the responsibility to dismantle them in a respectful manner. However expected it may have been by cynics on both sides of the conflict, the final responsibility for the action of burning them down lies however with the Palestinian people of Gaza, and their aspirations will suffer for it as just recompense.

As Haroon wrote a while ago, most muslims want to see Islam as merciful and strong. Not barbaric and reactionary. There's really no other way to describe the burning of these synagouges. And that's why I've become increasingly hard-line in my view towards the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

For the record, though, in response to this question, mosques have hardly been immune to destruction or defilement either. I've even supported the destruction of mosques, when neccessary. It's wrong to burn down any house of worship - or perform any other fundamentally political act upon it. The purpose of these buildings is higher than our petty squabbles.

[1] I have to also agree that there was excessive excuse-making for the Palestinians in the media.


victory is possible in Iraq

The Deuce Four is a Stryker infantry battalion comprised of about 700 soldiers, and has lost 12 men and earned over 150 purple hearts in some of the most intense urban combat of this war. When the battalion arrived in Mosul, the mostly-Sunni city had already devolved into an insurgent stronghold. When the home-base for organized kidnap and beheading squads swelled with the steady stream of fighters fleeing the crackdown in Falluja, the local police simply abandoned their stations. Mortar rounds and rockets fell by the hundreds, scores of car bombs attacked Deuce Four, the ISF, and later crowds of people, and IEDs made the roads literal minefields. In December, a terrorist slipped into the dining facility on FOB Marez and detonated his explosives vest during a crowded meal, killing 22 people.

Kurilla’s aggressive battle plan brought the fight to the enemy. Every new evolution in terrorist tactics was met with a ferocious counter blow that not only destroyed the immediate target, but also signaled frightened civilians that the US Army meant business in Mosul. Equally important civil affairs projects generated electricity virtually around the clock, built schools and parks, and brought top medical care to civilians. Within months, increasingly desperate to maintain control over the population, terrorists began launching attacks straight through groups of children, leaving many horribly burned. Their savagery further alienated civilians who were beginning to see the benefits of change. When top insurgent leaders were killed and captured, largely based on tips from Iraqi citizens, enemy attacks fell precipitously.

As the Deuce Four heads home this week, they leave behind a Mosul that, while not yet in the clear, is much closer to security and prosperity than anyone would have considered possible eight months ago.

Thats from Michael Yon's latest and why I sincerely believe that victory is possible in Iraq. I think that the successes of our military have been largely in spite of, not because of, the Administration's leadership - but the people of Iraq have hearts and minds that can be changed, and they can see the benefit of a future that does not involve someone's iron thumb. I go against the grain of most muslims, who are rightly cynical of Western motivations in this post-colonialist world, and most liberals, who are rightly cynical of this Administration's commitment to anything beyond their immediate political fortunes. The success thus far in Mosul is assuredly temporary if there isn't political will on both sides to see it continue.

Where my cynicism comes into play is whether such political will can be found. If not, then stories like the work and blood sacrifice of Deuce Four will be rarer and rarer still. There is a tipping point, and we are close to it - but we can tip either way.

Coins to cards

bloody brilliant:

Coinstar machines today charge consumers 8.9 percent of their coins for the service of counting it and giving it a receipt for the remaining 91.1 percent of the money.

In Amazon.com's case, though, Coinstar machines will charge nothing for the service as far as consumers are concerned. Amazon is selling Coinstar its gift cards at a sharp volume discount, allowing Coinstar to cover its costs and profit.

In other words, the gigantic vases of pennies I have in my closet can be converted in seconds to Amazon credits. Without any fees. The 9% fee that Coinstar usually charges was enough to never make me want to use their machines before, and the hassle of rolling my own coins was why I never take my accumulated change to the bank. Hence, accumulated coins in closets.

I do typically rotate coins through for sadaka in both our cars of course. This new program however gives me even more options. Especially if we can donate to the Red Cross via Amazon using these certificates. That money does no good - for me or for society - just sitting in those vases in my closet.


reforming the Senate

In many ways, the role of the Senate is the Guardian of the Republic. It's original purpose was to provide to the States what the House of Representatives provided to the citizens: a direct voice and agent for their interests. However, that role has been substantively eroded by the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution, which has essentially given us two Houses. The impact of this has been a complete eradication of the conept of federalism - such that even supposed champions of states' rights, the Republicans, pay only lip service to the concept (witness only the Schiavo case for proof that federalism, like fiscal conservatism, is long since dead in GOP circles).

I've previously written about the corrupting influence the 17th Amendment has had upon our national political discourse. Briefly, it has become an avenue for special interests to dominate the Senate as they do the House. I reject the short-sighted arguments that repeal would lead in the short term to undesirable political outcomes; most conservatives are agnostic about the repeal, but liberals tend to say that repeal would give Republicans an advantage given that most state legislatures are GOP-dominated. But the short-term impact is not my concern. In fact, repeal of the 17th would lead to more independence from the "party above country" mentality that drives modern politics in this modern (and thoroughly Republicanist) age.

Glenn Reynolds just mentioned the idea of repeal, and poses an interesting counter-proposal. His suggestion is to make Senators ineligible for President, thus bluntig most of their aspirations and focusing the Senate on the business of being the Senate rather than a grand stage. However, I think that while it has some merit, it's a symptomatic approach, which would not address the underlying issue of who Senators are beholden to when they assume office. It's the quality, and motives, of the Senators before they arrive at the Capitol, not how they comport themselves after they arrive, which concerns me and why I still favor repeal. If repeal of the 17th were to come about, I think that Glenn's suggestion would be rendered largely moot.


Blogger arrested at 9/11 Freedom Walk

Thomas Nephew is a brave man. His Newsrack blog is one of the oldest blogs on the blogsphere, four years and going strong. He made the brave but foolish decision to protest at the absurdly choreographed "Freedom Walk" 9-11 PR event in Washington DC, reprising his role as Hooded Man from Abu Ghraib. His write-up on his arrest is a must-read, so I won't excerpt it - just go to Newsrack blog and read.