Archive for August, 2005

The City of New Orleans

August 31, 2005

I haven’t been able to get this song out of my head for the last couple of days.

Half way home, we’ll be there by morning
Through the Mississippi darkness
Rolling down to the sea

If only it were so, for about a million people…


Feeling old…

August 29, 2005

I was having lunch at the PSU Subway this morning and enjoying the music, particularly “Heart of Glass” by Blondie.

Then I realized that the kids working behind the counter probably hadn’t been born when that song was released.

Ah well. At least the sub was good.

Intelligent design

August 26, 2005

I retain vivid memories of the astonishment and disbelief expressed by the architecture students to whom I taught urban land economics many years ago when I pointed to medieval cities as marvelously patterned systems that had mostly just “grown” in response to myriads of individual human decisions. To my students a pattern implied a planner in whose mind it had been conceived and by whose hand it had been implemented. The idea that a city could acquire its pattern as naturally as a snowflake was foreign to them. They reacted to it as many Christian fundamentalists responded to Darwin: no design without a Designer!

— Herbert A. Simon, quoted by Philip Ball in Critical Mass (New York: FS&G, 2004), pg. 154.

Bicyclists and the rules of the road

August 24, 2005

I walk quite a bit because I don’t own a car, and I was looking forward to moving from Houston to Portland in part because the drivers here are better.

And the drivers here are better.

Unfortunately, a lot of the bicyclists are insane.

A day rarely passes when I don’t see a bicyclist do something really foolish on the road. Last night, I almost got run over in a crosswalk at Belmont and 34th by a bicyclist who didn’t even slow down (much less stop) for a red light—he missed me by inches.

I would be more sympathetic to local bicyclists’ complaints about local drivers if I weren’t having to dodge bicyclists on a daily basis.

President’s character questioned by mourning parent

August 18, 2005

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (AP)–A father of two sons killed in Korea said today he refused to accept the Medal of Honor on the ground that President Truman is unworthy to bestow it “on my boys or anyone’s boys.”

The 65-year-old father, Halsey McGovern, said he based his objection on Mr. Truman’s “record” and the fact that he doesn’t believe in the idea of awards for heroism.

“Boys are dying by the thousands,” McGovern told newsmen. “Perhaps some receiving awards for their gallantry did not measure up to some whose deeds went unnoticed.”

The tall, white-haired father said he not only rejected the Medal of Honor awarded posthumously to one of his sons but also the Silver Star awarded to another.

“I don’t want any part of it,” he said, “if it infers that Truman is a proper person to honor these boys and other boys who died over there.”

from “Heroes’ Father Rejects Medals—‘Truman Unworthy'”; San Francisco Chronicle; January 12, 1952; page 1.

Learn more about the valor of the McGovern brothers.

Unpopular war blamed on President

August 18, 2005

Blame for the “wanton spilling of American blood in Korea” was placed upon the shoulders of the Truman Administration by the delegates to the State convention of the California Republican Assembly yesterday. In the concluding session of the convention at the Hotel St. Francis [in San Francisco], the delegates approved a plank declaring that “a strong, consistent foreign policy would have prevented the Korean war. Now that we are in it,” the resolution declared, “appeasement of the enemy must stop.”

“America’s position in the world,” continued the statement, “must be strong, dignified and respected by other nations. We will protect our citizens and the interests of our country from arrogant, blackmailing foreign countries.”

It further declared that “the Republican party was inspired by the aims of the United Nations in a program of world co-operation to secure world peace” but added that the delegates believed that the United States now is “carrying an unfair burden” in the U. N. program. Insistence was made that all other U. N. members “assume their full share” in carrying out the “mandates” of the U. N.

from “GOP Assembly Blames Korea War on Truman” by Earl C. Behrens; San Francisco Chronicle; January 14, 1952; page 1.

Spandau Ballet fans unite!

August 18, 2005

Mark Hasty dares Spandau Ballet fans to “go public”.


Salt Lake 4, Beavers 2

August 17, 2005

Went to my first Portland Beavers game tonight, at PGE Park. What a great place to spend a beautiful summer evening! I’ll have to fit a few more games in before the season ends.

The game got off to a fast start, with Salt Lake scoring three runs in the top of the first. Portland loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the frame, but only scored one run out of it. After that, the game settled down into a pitcher’s rhythm, and Portland went down fairly quietly.

I can’t believe more people don’t go to Beavers games. Nine bucks buys a seat behind first base and nine innings of high-quality baseball—a pretty good deal—but the announced attendance was only about 4900, and there couldn’t have been half that many people actually in the park.

“Criminalizing business” and the public trust

August 7, 2005

Tom Kirkendall has posted several score times this year on the subject of how certain prosecutors, aided by the post-Enron political environment and the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley law, have been interpreting questionable business practices as grounds for criminal charges.

I agree with Tom that the Enron Task Force has been wrong to coerce defendants into guilty pleas and into declining to testify for other defendants. I also agree that the collapse of the Arthur Andersen firm after its conviction markedly reduces competition in the area of major corporate audits, and that this reduction in competition will have serious lasting negative effects.

I have a question for Tom about the Arthur Andersen case, though:

As accounting professionals and Certified Public Accountants, the partners comprising the firm of Arthur Andersen were supposed to serve as independent defenders of the public interest, ensuring that the accounting practices of their clients were within the bounds of generally accepted standards.

As the auditors for Enron, the firm of Arthur Andersen appears to have become dependent on income from the consulting work it did on the side for Enron; and, as a result of that dependence, its managing partners were signing off on unacceptable accounting practices.

Faced with a situation in which an accounting firm has been corrupted into ignoring its responsibility to the public, leading to the loss to stakeholders and pensioners of several billion dollars, what course of action (if any) would you have recommended that the federal government take?