Archive for December 16th, 2003

Kim Jong Il, Blogger-in-Chief


my many Korean students unanimously disagree, in a typical fit of Know-it-all-ism
the Dowbrigade firmly believes that North and South Korea
will be united, a la Germany, before the end of the decade.

Part of the reason we believe this came out at last Thursday’s Berkman
Bloggers meeting when we were discussing whether any of the current sorry
crop of Presidential candidates actually read a single blog (the consensus
was no). The Dowbrigade observed, with typical hyperbole, that North
Korean President Kim Jong Il (whom President Bush described as an "irredeemable
pygmy") was more likely to be reading our blogs than any of the US pols.  That
still stands.

The New York Times has an
interesting article
on South Korea’s plans
for the coming rapprochement:

"As the prospect of a negotiated end to the nuclear crisis with North
Korea inches closer, South Koreans are now thinking seriously about the
implications. There is the potential, they realize, for a terrible lesson
in getting what you wish for."

the New York Times

Hidden Dangers of Pornography


Seventeen people were injured Monday night when a Municipal Railway bus swerved
off Mission Street and crashed into an adult video store, police said.
One of the injured, a 60-year-old man, was in critical condition with head injuries.

The accident occurred at about 10:15 p.m. at Mission and Sixth streets when a
14-Mission double electric bus slammed into the Golden Gate Adult Superstore.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

"I was in the back of the bus. The next thing I know, I’m flying
through the air," said a man who declined to be identified. "It
was a big bang. No brakes, we went full speed into the building."

the San Francisco Chronicle

Finally – Political Heavyweights



After decades in the political wasteland,
Giants once again stride over the American political scene.  The
nascent century has finally produced a Presidential confrontation worthy
of George Washington vs.
John Adams
(1789), Thomas
Jefferson vs.
Aaron Burr (1800), FDR vs. the vacuum cleaner guy (1932) or
JFK vs. Nixon (1960). This year we finally have two Americans of true
Presidential timbre on the national stage.

The lives of these two great Americans read as though they had been
written in Hollywood. After serving three terms as a U.S. Congressman
and two terms as the Governor of New Hampshire, Josiah "Jed" Bartlet
realized his dream of becoming President of the United States of America.
A deeply religious man, President Bartlet attended Notre Dame University
with the thought of becoming a priest. After deciding against that, Bartlet
received a PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics.

David Palmer, on the other hand, graduated from Georgetown, where he
was an All-American on their 1962 National Championship Basketball team.  He
later attended the University of Maryland School of Law.  Palmer
was elected to the House of Representatives after a brief stint as a
prosecutor in Baltimore.  He rose to Chairman of the House Ethics
Committee before serving two terms in the Senate.

Of course, even the greatest men have their flaws and foibles.  Palmer
is not only divorced but since his divorce has been linked to several
women of questionable histories and political connections.  Bartlet,
of course, suffers from Multiple Sclerosis.

The choice between David
and Josiah
is one between heart and head.The Dowbrigade really feels
that Bartlet has the better grasp on the issues, and the positions
more in line with the benign neglect we advocate as an overarching
philosophy of government.  But with all that bickering and clever
repartee going on in the halls of the West Wing, we wonder how they
ever get any work done.

Palmer, on the other hand, is a bit of a Neanderthal (we apologize
in advance to any Neanderthals in our readership – no special slur is
intended).  However, he seems to have the firm hand and steely resolve
so sorely  needed in these trying times.  Plus, he has the
awesome and deadly if occasionally misdirected CTU to eradicate the
enemies of America, who are seemingly spreading like wildfire.

So it is with deep appreciation for our freedom of choice and the quality
of our wonderful electoral system that the Dowbrigade announces that
he will be voting for David Palmer for President next year.

Amazing But True



Welcome to the United States


have been a happy household at the Dowbrigade lately, the lovely Norma
Yvonne has finally been granted a Green Card. Its seems that at last,
after six years of marriage, five-and-a-half years after our initial
Green Card interview, after six sets of fingerprints (they expire every
year, who knew?), dozens of days lost to endless lines and wooden-bench
waits, recalcitrant clerks and misplaced portfolios, the Department of
Homeland Security, currently In Loco Parentis for the Bureau of Citizenship
and Immigration Services, has finally come through, although only after
our feisty Immigration Lawyer threatened the agency with the dreaded
Writ of Mandamus.

Yes, fans, the Dowbrigade, thorough his legal counsel, a somewhat shady
shyster found working the rejected riff-raff outside the Tip O’Neill
Federal Building, and against good sense and sober advice, threatened
to sue the Federal Government for
neglectful inaction on his case.  And it worked! Two weeks later
the unofficial notification arrived, and the Senora Dowbrigade was able
to get a stamp in her passport declaring her a legal US resident and
allowing her to leave the country and visit her family for the first
time in three years.

So far be it from the Dowbrigade, at this stage of the game, to criticize
the DHS.  For us, the Bureau is now a paragon of American efficiency
and thoughtful, caring paternalism.  So yesterday, when the official-looking
envelope arrived addressed to my wife, bearing the return address of
the Department of Homeland Security as well as ominous inscriptions like
"Official Business" and "Return Service Requested" I was not worried.  I
have every confidence in my government. However, considering the possibility
that it contained time-sensitive material ("Should you not appear in
person to claim your Green Card within 14 days of this notification,
it will be rescinded and you must begin the application process again."),
we opened the envelope, although as a sensitive and PC spouse we do not
usually open Norma Yvonne’s mail.

It was a beautiful official certificate, printed on high-quality bond
paper, with a high relief lithographic seal reading "The United States
of America" and entitled: Notice of Action.  The action they
were notifying us of was the "Creation of Record of Lawful Permanent

This work of bureaucratic art, aka Form I 797 (Rev. 09/07/93) N, is
a real American original, to be cherished and saved as an important and
official record of one of the milestones on the path to US Citizenship.  The
Dowbrigade suspects this one will be framed and stored safely with the
family heirlooms like the Marriage and Baptism Certificates. After all,
receiving your official notice of the "Creation of Record of Lawful
Permanent Residence" only happens one in your life.  Or so
I thought.

Today’s mail, recently retrieved, brought THREE MORE letters from the
Department of Homeland Security.  This unprecedented attention did
create a moment of panic.  Has the government changed their mind?
Did they discover my radical past as an SDS organizer? Do they have a
series of new hoops we must jump through to grab the brass ring of citizenship?

Image my relief to discover that nothing much has changed.  The
three new letters contained three additional, identical copies of Form
I 797 (Rev. 09/07/93) N; all four were originals, not copies, and all
made out identically to Norma Yvonne.  Four perfect, pristine copies
of this unique government document.  Welcome to the United States
and congratulations on your permanent resident status.

Google Adds Features


looking for new ways to organize and retrieve information, Google has
forced me to rewrite "10
Things I Bet You Never Knew about Google"
I guess I’ll wait for one more good one and upgrade to "A Dozen Things…."

has released a new feature called Search by Number for users to find
information related to parcel tracking IDs, patents, and
other specialized
numbers. For example, typing "fedex" followed by a space and a FedEx
tracking number will return the latest information on a package.

Search by Number offerings include:

  • UPS tracking numbers example search: [1Z9999W999999999]
  • FedEx tracking numbers example search: [fedex
  • Patent numbers example search: [patent 5123123]
  • FAA airplane registration numbers (usually
    found on tail): [n199ua]
  • FCC equipment IDs example search: [fcc B4Z-34009-PIR]

    Google by Number is available now on to all English language
    users throughout the world. International versions will
    be made available in the coming
    months. More information can be found here:

    The company seeks suggestions for other types
    of numbers to search.

from InfoToday