Signs Of The Times

Anger management issues aside, I think that the true ramifications of the Times’ (LA & NY) release of information on a top secret financial surveillance program are starting to become clear. The Times’ revelations have effectively killed the SWIFT program, not due to the terrorists becoming aware of the program, but rather due to the fact that the revelations spooked European banking officials that had previously been cooperating. This puts the terrorists at an advantage again, as they now have a sure fire transit point for their finances, where before they couldn’t be sure that their transactions weren’t being monitored. The Times have handed them a huge gift.
A secndary damaging effect is that such leaks will most likely have the effect of drying up future collaboration from Eurocrats, as they will be subject to having their cover blown by American intelligence agents with a political axe to grind leaking to a press obsessed with reliving their “glory” days in the early-to-mid ’70’s.
Arguments claiming that nothing bas been lost because the terrorists had to have guessed that they were being watched are stupid. Prior to last weekend, all they had to go on were vague suspicions, hearsay and some all too convenient arrests of comrades-in-arms. The Times handed them operational details of a working program and, in the process of doing so, neutralized our only real advantage against the terrorists: intelligence. We have Tomahawks that can hit targets from thousands of miles away, but we are at a loss without effective information telling us where and when to point those missiles.
It’s funny, too, that the Times chose to reveal the details on this ongoing operation, citing “privacy concerns” when none other than the New York Times wrote

Organizing the hijacking of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon took significant sums of money.
Washington and its allies must also disable the financial networks used by terrorists.
Much more is needed, including stricter regulations, the recruitment of specialized investigators and greater cooperation with foreign banking authorities. There must also must be closer coordination among America’s law enforcement, national security and financial regulatory agencies.
Though some smaller financial transactions are likely to slip through undetected even after new rules are in place, much of the financing needed for major attacks could dry up.
If America is going to wage a new kind of war against terrorism, it must act on all fronts, including the financial one.

[emphasis mine] Of course, that was written on September 24th, 2001, prior to the NYT being entirely consumed by full-fledged BDS.
While the losses to the US government’s ability to pursue terrorists has been severely compromised by these revelations, it remains to be seen what consequences the Timeses will see. The results of the damage assessment will likely prove interesting and Republicans in the House and Senate should be glad to know that a comfortable majority (read: a point shy of Constitutional ammendment territory) of Americans support prosecuting the media for their involvement in the leaks . 87% of those surveyed think that punishment for the leakers themselves is well-deserved.
Finally, in response to Andy One, I have to say that terrorism is an entirely different beast than the other dangers he mentioned (earthquakes, volcanos, hurricanes, etc.). Terrorism is man-made in its entirety and to associate it with natural disasters is a straw man of the highest order. Unless I missed something, and it was suddenly within the realm of Man’s power to interdict tropical depressions before they become full-fledged hurricanes. Natural disasters aren’t sentient things – they don’t actively seek the end of our civilization, nor do they hate the freedoms we hold dear, let alone subjugate women, drop walls on homosexuals or slit the throats of those that refuse to honor their god. (“‘There is no god but Gaia, and Al Gore is Her prophet!’ chanted the tornado as it ripped through an Oklahoma trailer park.”) To conflate the SWIFT progam with flood insurance is a cheap rhetorical trick, but I’ll answer Andy’s underlying point in any event: the program was legal, it had strict oversight and was reviewed by Executive and Legislative officials extremely frequently and impinged upon no one’s freedoms (well, except the terrorists, whose “freeom not to get arrested” was severely impeded). It did not rob Andy of any of his rights any more than my phone records being available to law enforcement officials at the drop of a warrant robs me of mine.

Retroactive Self-Consciousness

I’ve noticed something about the way people talk to me over the last few years and it’s started to bug me a bit.
First off, some context: I am what you might call a “person of size”. It’s not that I’m fat, per se, it’s just that I’m big. I’ve got a bit of a belly and carry a few baby fattish pounds in the face and I could definitely stand to hit the gym a lot more often, but I’m not “fat” (at least, I don’t think so). I think I’m pretty realistic about my body morphology – the extra pounds are a health risk, so I really do need to get down to business and shed a good 25 lbs. or so and get svelte again.
What’s getting my goat is the fact that friends and relatives have taken to saying “Oh, have you lost some weight recently? You look so thin!”, a complimentary statement on its face, but one that implies “Hey, until recently, you definitely looked like you could drop a few pounds.” I know that the people probably have the best of intentions, but I just don’t know what to say to “Have you been working out? You look so good!” I mean, I do a fair share of bench and Army presses slingin’ Will around, but I haven’t hit the weight benches since well before he was born.
So how am I supposed to respond to those types of comments? I’ve tried the “Why thank you very much” route, but it always feels a bit disingenuous to take credit for stuff I haven’t done (i.e., lost weight). Thoughts?


My wife and I headed to AndyII and Sara‘s wedding this past weekend. Brad came up for the wedding as well, which was great.
Sara made a beautiful bride and Andy looked just about ready to burst with pride. The ceremony was beautiful, although short, and Reform Jewish (well, I’m assuming as such, since a female rabbi officiated). Andy’s little nephew was the ringbearer and elicited coos and titters of laughter from the guests as he fidgeted beside the chuppa. 1 Corinthians 13 is a standard invocation at Christian weddings, so it was cool to hear it referenced at the service (although only obliquely, and the officiant attributed it to “as Paul said” – not “St. Paul” or “the Apostle Paul”, which sounded a bit strange). Everyone seemed to be having a great time at the reception as well, as the bar line was long for the duration, the dance floor was full for much of it and the cake was great. Wait staff forgot coffee, though… *grin*
So congratulations are in order. Here’s to the both of you!

Dear West Windsor-Plainsboro High Class Of 1996

How are you all? I’m assuming you know that there’s now another high school in the Dubbya Dubbya Pee, “North”. My, how things have changed, eh?
So, like, is there a 10 year reunion or something this year? ‘Cause I’ve heard nothing about it if there is one and I’ll be darned if I’m going to pay the extortion money Reunion Dot Com demands.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing who ended up being used BMW salesmen, real estate brokers, radio DJs and/or vicious government-trained hitmen.

Doug Stewart

P.S.: Has Victor Chang been elected regent of some obscure subcontinental Asian country, which he rules with an iron fist, yet? I always had him pegged for a Junior Machiavelli.

Beat. Happy, But Beat.

Sleepy Will...
I’m still recovering from the weekend. ‘Twas a good wedding and a good weekend, but tiring in the extreme. Regular posting will most likely resume tomorrow.

Doin’ A Papa Proud

Will & Gabe

Will with Aron and Heather’s wee one, Gebu-san

I know that every parent is supposed to think that their child is the absolute best, so I’m probably coming at this from a highly biased position, but I think Will is just about the best kid ever. He’s turning 7 months old this week and he actually crawled for the first time yesterday, a feat which is as scary as it is impressive to myself and my wife. “Hooray! He’s mobile! He’s mobile!?! Hide the electrical cords!” is a rough approximation of the thoughts that coursed through our minds. He can pull himself up on furniture and even will manage to balance for about a half-second before losing any semblance of control and plunking to the floor.
These next few months are going to get interesting, I tell you whut. Best be hiding the car keys, methinks…

A Course Reversal At Lehigh?

My alma mater, Lehigh University, has been creeping away from its engineering roots for years, thanks largely to the efforts of C. Montgomery BurnsGregory Farrington, the evilformer University president. Apparently, Lehigh’s board of trustees has named a successor:

Alice P. Gast, a world-renowned researcher with a passion for teaching, has been named Lehigh University’s 13th president.
Gast has served as vice president for research and associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for almost five years. She will succeed Gregory C. Farrington, who announced last fall that he would conclude his eight-year term at Lehigh’s helm in June.

A researcher… from MIT? Is it too much for me to hope that this selection is the board’s way of trying to reverse Farrington’s idiotic policies, designed to keep Club RauchRauch Business School afloat sheerly at the expense of the P.C. Rossin School of Engineering?
I might reconsider my non-recommendation of LU to my little brother if that ends up being the case.