consultants are sandburs

Monday, June 30, 2008

Can you give me reliable numbers on the Bakken Oil Formation?

From the Google, and Wikipedia, you get the drift.

An extensive dolomite layer between two oil shale layers, two miles or so deep, beneath North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan, who knows, perhaps even beneath Fridley.

It is extensive. The dolomite layer is not thick but long and wide. Sideways drilling is being used. Strib has one of their typical brutally awful touchy-feely things with no facts but naming two or three farm families whose lives have been impacted.

The talk of USGS and others (e.g., here and here), is in billions of barrels; and many, many more there than estimated as recoverable by present technology. Whatever that means.

But Strib might be as sensible as anyone in not saying zip about the size of it all.

Nobody knows, many with varying skills guess. The big hoot, to go seven or so pages deep into the Google return for "bakken oil formation" or "bakken formation" and see all the oil gurus and investment advisors telling you who's hot on the speculative oil exploration/drilling market. It makes you think they're drilling and finding snake oil, not petroleum. Caveat emptor, and cleck your rings after shaking hands with some of those specialists.

It is like the definitive word on the safety and public health impact of taconite tailings in paving. Nobody really knows. But some are willing to take risks. Only difference, the ones seeking profits from the Bakken are taking the risks with their own wealth, whereas the ones seeking fees and getting rid of mining waste are taking risks with your health and mine. Hey, not all that different, or is it? Have they put that stuff on the road in front of YOUR house? Do you know? Do you know how you might find out?

So, what's the true story on the Bakken? It's been bouncing around the Internet for at least a few weeks, probably more if you go to real obscure sites, and the peak oil worriers say it will not change the scenario, only the timing. Peak oil skeptics say, what? Rigged markets? Drill here and now to pay less? We will never run out and the atmosphere can absorb an infinite amount of carbon dioxide without depleting the oxygen we breath and without messing the earth up in irreversible ways?

Say you believe that. What if they're wrong, and the global warming worriers are correct? We could screw up badly. It is like, sure you can be an atheist, but what if there is an after-life, a Heaven and Hell. Boy, will you be sorry.

Only difference, there's science behind the global worry and peak oil worries. There's millenia of mythology for the rest. So, who do you trust? And what's the actual extent and reserve capacity of the Bakken?

This headline: Oil tops $143 for the first time - Crude futures hit new trading high as traders fear the greenback's drop, tension in Iran.

That reporting is CNN, June 30, 2008, here.

Seymour Hersh has been stoking the furnace for years, e.g., in 2006, here. Most recently, here (prepublished online). McCain sings, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." To Beachboys Barbara Ann. They say he is a more experienced foreign policy candidate than Obama. They must be crazy.

What's going on now, where's the money going, see the speculation, here.

Telegraph says it knows, the IAEA knows, and Isreal knows and might do it or let George do it. Here, and here.

Guardian correctly points out, the oil market is wobbly, Iran appears problematic, and I like pistacio nuts and that market is in peril also. Here and here.

I foresee no action in the next month or two, but there could be an October surprise, or a post-election lame-duck gift for the incoming administration. And why nothing sooner? Because two key camps are still out. The global warming skeptics and the Holocaust skeptics still have not been heard from, claiming The Bomb itself is a hoax.

Newt is collecting cash and signatures, and Michele Bachmann may bring her circus props to another Twin Cities area gas station near you, staying as much a turkey as ever. See, here, here, and here. For some inexplicable reason, she ditched the pearls for the gas station gig.

So, is Newt running for Vice Pres, Michele running for photo ops, and ever going to post an easy-to-navigate, simple site map?

And what will be cooked up between now and early November besides the same old, same old?

Obama and Bill Clinton, reports differ.

But as to the official press releases being issued by the players, I see no change I can believe in. It looks more like hedging about in the same old ways, business as usual.

Here, then here.

Should I believe the Brits, or the Strib? Do you suppose John McCain is chuckling? Enjoying the unity show, as only the Democrats can script it?

A correction: I was wrong. Someone said to me, there is a space "Other." I looked, there is.

While the suggested price points begin at fifty, there is the space "other."

It is there on the screen-shot I posted.

Michael Guest's email is consistent with that, not inconsistent.

I retract my criticism, given that a person could, if he/she choses, donate 23 cents online, presumably at least, via the "Other" option. The screen-shot from this weekend does allow it:

So, Michael Guest's email is correct, and I was in error, here and here.

Now, would you prefer the "issues" be more fully addressed on the Tinklenberg website? That is my criticism, here, which I continue to feel. Same continuing "hollow content" belief, here.

However, I was wrong, there always was, as on the Franken, Sarvi, and Madia websites, the option to make an "other" donation beyond numbers solicited expressly on the several websites. Franken's contribution page indicates (at the bottom) you can use alternative payment access pages, and it looks as if the other candidates do not have or do not expressly offer that feature.

The Tinklenberg screen-shot above shows it. For the other DFL candidates I mentioned, see:




All four sites allow donations "other" than in their solicited incremental values.

And if you care to help Bob Olson reach a break-even point, and do that online, he offers no solicitation numbers, only the option of declaring an amount:


Each URL looks a bit different. Encryption is used and when you are listing or giving out a credit card number online, it might be best if you went to the candidate's home page, and toggeled from there to the contribute page, to get a fresh link.

In summary, "Other" is permitted each place. I was wrong about the Michael Guest email for Tinklenberg solicitations - it is in line with the Tinklenberg campaign website and not incompatible or unsynchronized. Tinklenberg simply solicits with a higher express starting number. Some sites are not as clear as others on the $2300 per person, per cycle limit. And my criticism of empty "issue" statement content is something I continue to believe in (apart from the contribution solicition mechanism details). Finally, I cannot really say "issue" presentation pages are handled better by candidates besides Tinklenberg. I have not looked at those sites as intently, nor have I excerpted them. I do not back away from my viewing Tinklenberg statements as weak and inadequately incomplete, on issues.

BOTTOM LINE: Other than explicitly correcting the error now, as soon as it was first noted to me, I cannot "unpublish" earlier content. I retract my criticism of Michael Guest's email. Based on seeing the "Other" option he was totally correct in his email, I was wrong. I wish that someone had pointed out my error before I published anything about the email from Michael Guest. And I can still suggest giving Tinklenberg a twenty-three cent donation, as all I think he is worth - the First Amendment is inclusive enough to allow that as premissable speech about a public person. You can disagree, and say so via a comment, or any other way you choose (short of fire bombing the house or using firearms). And you can send me money instead of sending it to campaigns. If you did that I would not refuse it. I would spend it on myself, and I would be appreciative.

Dirty Tricks Against Al Franken. Trashing the WIKIPEDIA page. Spread the Word. Stop the Coleman Supporters' Mischief.

Nobody is so crass as to trash the Wikipedia of Mr. Crash-pad, sleeps in a drawer.

It goes to show where the rudeness and crude Rovian life-style prospers, per this really troublesome comment left at Blue Man in a Red District post.

Franken opponents have been systematically editing Wikipedia entries relating to Al Franken, including his biography, the entries on "The Al Franken Show", and those on his books. Tampering includes putting problematic material on personal issues (former dabbling in cocaine, enjoyment of Grateful Dead) up in the introductory section which would normally be confined to facts like wife's name, where does he live, etc..

They also removed from his bio content that described the political expertise and passion he evidenced in his radio show. I was able to find corroboration by an outside source, so it will be harder to tamper with in the future, but not impossible.

They have inserted into "The Al Franken Show" entry lines that described it as a show which advocated liberal positions and which poked fun at conservatives. I corrected this to read progressive positions and which poked fun at the Bush Administration and some conservative radio commentators, to more accurately reflect the show (which I listened to for years). For people to read that Franken has such disrepect for conservative people in general that he devoted a major portion of his radio show to poking fun of them would be extremely unfair and damaging. So it's very important for my edits to be maintained.

I read the Wikipedia definitions of "liberalism" and "American progressivism" and determined to the best of my ability, that Franken's show and guests are better described by the latter. Liberal in many people's minds also includes lifestyle issues which were never a topic of the show, and a disdain for religion, which wasn't either, except to question Bush's understanding of Christianity.

They distorted the fact that Franken had a study group of Harvard graduate students help with the research for Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them to say that volunteer Harvard students (implying random undergrads) helped write the book.

Franken and his campaign have a strict policy of hands off Wikipedia, since there was quite a flap about an alteration he made previously to his bio, so there will be no help there. Personally, I'm brand-new at Wikipedia and many years past college, so I'm very slow at editing, and I'm not sure my reference notes are written correctly. I simply cannot keep up with constant reversals of my editing which will only accelerate as the race heats up.

For people to be assured of reading reasonably accurate information in the Franken-related Wikipedia entries, some of you will have to step up and monitor the pages. Otherwise you can be assured that voters will be getting distortions.

Poor Bill and Luke Walton. Liking the Grateful Dead will get you on the wrong side of the crowd for whom Steal Your Face was written. I am only guessing. I did not write it. Next thing, they will be altering the Jerry Garcia page. Lies and inuendo about too many corn-dogs making him portly near the end.

I took a look at the Franken page before posting this. It looks as if the effort of the dark side of the force had been undone, at least for now. Coleman people must be getting fearful. So Al, watch where you fly until you've been sworn in next January.

What a Crock.

The below email. The currency green "lightbulb" man's thing, the guy running against Michele Bachmann over what kind of lightbulbs people buy, that image, just as the bulb thingy on a currency green background is presently on the Tinklenberg website homepage - same thingy in the email.

- click to enlarge -

That "Contribute Now" red item is a hot button, to the website, where, still as I posted over the weekend, it starts at a credit card fifty bucks or take a hike.

Fifty talks, less cash walks, per the online site, and you can sign up for the hit to be on you, each and every month, automatically, with no indication how you are supposed to undo any such idiotic decision making if you come to your senses.

On the image, when you enlarge it, you lose the hotlink, but it is

this Tink webpage

See for yourself. Unless it gets changed, $50 is rock-bottom, for online giving.

And Tink's website allows poppers for fifty bucks or more that golden opportunity, auto-tithing for Tink. But, unfortunately, for less, you cannot use the page.

You want to give him twenty bucks a month? Sorry. Can't do it online.

What a shame.

However, Mr. Guest is courteous enough to give, in his email, a snail-mail address where you can send less.

Tinklenberg for Congress
9380 Central Avenue, Ste 310
Blaine, MN 55434

[send to a friend]

My suggestion, if online it is too much Tink-trouble to take your twenty-five, thirty, forty bucks, then why send it snail mail? What's been earned, really?

Why does the guy say:

Your contribution today means more than ever. We are just over $6,000 away from our online goal of $25,000. Please help us shed light on Rep. Bachmann’s backwards agenda by making your contribution now. Please help by contributing $500, $250, $100, or whatever you can afford online today. We have until midnight tonight to make our goals and show our campaign’s financial strength.

[bolding empahsis in original].

He's either blowing it all out his shorts about that online today, "whatever you can afford online today" stuff, knowing it's false, or it is endemic of a carelessness and lack of attention to voter sentiments and cicumstances that one wishing to go to Congress should not display.

What some hard-pressed people really "can afford" might not start at fifty bucks, now, and certainly possibly not for every month.

If you are one of those folks, be insulted.

It IS an insult. Sloppy too.

Moreover, "whatever you can afford" is entirely irrelevant. And very presumptive to boot.

How about, "whatever you choose to" instead? Mr. Guest, what of that?

Much less presumptive, less of an insult to those who can't afford a fifty buck threshold. I guess if you provide Internet access for your children, your family, you presumptively can [and want to] pop fifty bucks for the fabulous Tink. Something like that.

Now, my thinking - If Elwyn Tinklenberg is too high on a pedastel to provide for a way to send his campaign twenty-five, or forty bucks online, then - well don't quit just yet, consider this --

Send his campaign a snail-mail check, not for twenty-five bucks because that's been clearly disdained - not even for twenty-five cents.

Send Tink what's earned. Send Tink a snail-mail check for 23 cents.

Let the campaign process that check. Or if they're too good for their twenty-three cent's worth, let them mail the check back to you [be sure to include a return address].

They have to account for all donations, it's the law, so they should, properly do something besides round-filing your 23 cent check.

Give what's deserved, regardless of what you can afford.

Yes, I am really ragging about this. It really burns me. Triggers my hot button.

Don't YOU see it as either hubris or disorganization or both, a careless and a disdainful thing toward the little man, the little woman, the person to whom $25-$40 is something substantial, and not merely a drop in the bucket?

It is real to me. I would stoop to pick up a dropped ten dollar bill. I like Hamilton's portrait enough. Wouldn't you?

I would not say, "Hey, not a fifty or bigger, let someone else stoop."

It seems to be what we're having implied to us by Tinklenberg and folks. No time, no care, to stoop for leas than a bill with Grant's face on it. Franklin, etc., yeah, we'd stoop for that, but otherwise ---

So, send that 23 cent check. It's been earned.

What makes it even more galling, the Franken campaign email, same theme, let's get over a target hump the last day of the quarter -- but look at the man's less presumptous price points:

If you've been out on the campaign trail with us, you know how many signs, buttons, stickers, and t-shirts we go through as we spread our message at rallies and parades.

And if you've been anywhere near a TV lately, you know that Norm Coleman has even more ads on the air than the drug and oil companies he represents.

We'll be outspent in this campaign, but we'll win if we can stay close.

So, please, before midnight, can you make your most generous contribution – whether it's $100, $50, or $25 – to help us keep pace with Norm Coleman's special-interest-funded war chest?


If you are going to give, give to Al! Not Tink.

Or Sarvi or Madia. Each is a good candidate.

Al doesn't have his snoot as full of himself as Tinklenberg has. I bet Al, even the millionaire he is, would stoop to pick up a Jackson. Tink, he's proud. GOP like, that way. Al's a Democrat. He knows your money is precious to you, and asks you to give what you generously will, and it is not about mere wording - it is attitude.

A thought experiment, not a poll.

Consider two ex-Senators. Who does El Tinklenberg remind you more of, Paul Wellstone, or Rod Grams?

Can you say, "All package, no content?"

Am I alone, or do others see their intelligence insulted by this bombastic nothingness, nicely enough worded?

Tinklenberg campaign website, on "Issues" this:

* I will support a comprehensive policy shift that focuses on creating good jobs at good wages through reforms in tax, trade, economic, and labor policy.
* I will advocate for needed investments in education and infrastructure that will generate quality new jobs and improve long-term economic opportunities.
* I will work to expand the research and development of new energy technologies to create local jobs, improve our environment, decrease our dependence on foreign oil, and limit consumer energy costs.

I bet the man likes America and apple pie.

And I bet he never saw an American Flag he did not want to stand next to for a photo op, with that so very sincere smile.

I remember my mother saying, you make faces like that, your face is going to freeze. It is that kind of smile the Tink's perfected.

But back to the basics. Just this, one time, level with folks, please.

What policies?

What "comprehensive policy shift?"

He's created jobs for Tinklenberg Group, but not by any "comprehensive policy shift" that I can see. Rather he's done that by saying "Oberstar" an awful lot.

There is nothing comprehensive to that.

Nor any shift.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Elwyn Tinklenberg and the Little Guy. Trust Me, Your Plight is My Worry. And Pop Fifty, or Go Away.

I would not speak for Elwyn Tinklenberg's sincerity since he can speak for that himself. On his campaign website, Elwyn Tinklenberg says he recognizes families being squeezed by circumstances, and is not putting himself among the fit fat cats. Who would I be to doubt? Consiser the following four website snips. You can click the blurb headings, see the website, and (other than the images) it is humble but proud Elwyn quoted exactly, shooting straight, as a man to be your Congressman should do.

There's this -


Today, working American families are experiencing levels of financial anxiety not seen since the Great Depression. Wages are no longer keeping pace with the rising cost of living, and job growth has stagnated even as the need for infrastructure and other public improvements has grown. As your Representative, I will provide strong leadership in Washington to help restore balance, fairness, and common sense in our economic policies.

Rather than offer more corporate tax breaks or deficit-funded rebate checks, we can turn to American ingenuity to build lasting solutions to our economic challenges. In Congress I will prioritize the kinds of innovative, job-based economic opportunities that the current administration has failed to develop.

- and this -


Owning a home is the cornerstone of the American dream. Yet the number of “For Sale” signs on our streets point to a serious crisis in the housing market. With assessed home values on the rise and appraised values on the decline, there is less security in what, for many of us, is our single biggest financial investment.

- and this -


Healthcare coverage in the United States is exclusive and expensive. It is a major source of anxiety, not only for the 47 million uninsured Americans, but for millions more who are underinsured. Those with full coverage have watched their premiums increase an average of more than 10% per year over the past five years. Families whose wages have stagnated cannot afford these increases on top of soaring out-of-pocket and prescription costs.

In Congress, I will work toward establishing universal healthcare coverage. A universal healthcare system will ensure access, lower premiums for families, and help American businesses stay competitive. It will also improve the quality and efficiency of care by taking the burden off overcrowded emergency rooms and emphasizing prevention and early diagnosis.

- and this -


The pact we have made with our veterans is simple; our debt to them is profound. It is the unique responsibility of Congress to cut the red tape and guarantee that all our veterans have access to comprehensive services. We owe it to veterans to provide whatever assistance is needed to help them reintegrate successfully when their service is complete. In Congress I will vote to:

* Provide Veterans’ Administration hospitals with the necessary resources to guarantee veterans the best care available.

* Continue providing ample support and services for military families, who sacrifice so much for our country.

* Ensure that all servicemen and servicewomen who suffered lasting physical or psychological trauma receive all needed treatment, with a high threshold for denial of claims.

* Extend the benefits of the GI Bill to our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Wow! He wants to cut red tape even! For veterans. That sounds fair. True. Proper. All that sounds just great, and the guy is a champion against incumbent Michele Bachmann over one of the compelling issues of twenty-first century times, lightbulbs, as his campaign homepage proudly in currency green reminds us:

Hey, I am almost hot and sweating to send this guy money -- THE lightbulb man -- send him my twenty-five bucks. Today. Right now. Online. Sure I could spend it for food. I could spend it on the next payment on the mortgage, for the electric bill, but -- This is Elwyn Tinklenberg, man of the people after all, and --- But wait, -- wait, what's this -- My twenty-five bucks, he, Elwyn, it's too small a jot, go away, NO ELWYN, you can't really mean that, too proud to take twenty-five, next thing to undercut my faith in the world you'll tell me that NBA refs can cheat on calling a game -- Say it Ain't So, Joe.

But the website never lies.

It is as it is. Downloaded today, the marginalia says so, looking just as on the screen.

Pop fifty, or go away. Not worth the trouble unless you surrender fifty and up.

No two ways about that, it's a fact.

What to do? Where to spend? Where should you or I go where that hard-earned sacrifice of twenty-five not spent on yourself or myself will be appreciated. Well, there's millionaire Al Franken who is not too large a thing to turn it down. He'll take twenty-five. Not too proud to, and he's been to New York and Hollywood, and still not too proud:

Franken, contribute online here.

And he wants to be a Senator, not a mere representative where we have eight of them and they stand for election every two years, Franken will take my twenty-five bucks help and won't be back asking more for SIX years. Better deal, for sure.

And if there's DFL people running for Congress who would be thankful for ten bucks, what about them. No matter what the saying about empathy and identifying with the little guy, there are two who are not disdainful of my twenty-five buck contribution. Wow. Just as humble as ET. But not as proud, I guess. Ten gets attention.

Sarvi, contribute online here.

Madia, contribute online here.

Leave the proud to their fifty buck poppers, to richer folks than you or I. To PACs.

Bottom line: Sarvi, Madia, Franken, none of the three deserving DFL'ers is too proud for a twenty-five buck contribution. And, hey, on the Congressional races, Madia and Sarvi, they won't just "Do it" for veterans. They are veterans. No divinity school while a war's going on for them. They volunteered.

It goes to show.

I only noticed while checking links, besides the "Fifty talks, less cash walks," there's a distinctively Tinklenberg feature the other three mentioned DFL worthies do not offer. I can simply check a box for Tink, and monthly there will be an automatic tithing renewal, like on the mortgage; no problem going onto payments, just like some kind municipality, I suppose, dealing with Tinklenberg Group.

________FURTHER UPDATE_________
If you are a DFL'er in the Sixth District, wanting to spend in district, there is this; in order to offer an alternative to Elwyn Tinklenberg and Michele Bachmann, lobbyist or laughingstock, there was Bob Olson who lent his campaign cash to help us have a choice. We could contribute to Bob. He has not closed the campaign to prevent that.

Check his website - he will take twenty-five - here, and here.

If you go that route, helping Bob to break even [I have not seen any sign whether Tinklenberg has risked a single cent of his own wealth on his candidacy, other people's money, etc.], you might want to try one of those Olson campaign phone numbers to see if the website info is still current and operative. I have neglected Bob, I admit it, since he bowed out after Tinklenberg got the DFL endorsement. I am only guessing that giving cash to show appreciation for what Bob Olson did is still as easy as going onto the website.

________FURTHER UPDATE_________
I will close down the post after this one last thing. I just had to jump this empty bloviating rhetoric-disdain he shows for voters, from the above quote, ECONOMY, the bit about "turn to American ingenuity to build lasting solutions to our economic challenges." The only ingenuity I have seen out of Tinklenberg regarding an economic challenge is his leaving MnDOT with the Highway 10 study finalized as far as it went a half year earlier, and using it for personal gain. I cannot dispute, personal gain is within the spectrum of economic challenge, that is true. Yet, I am uncertian in such a totality of circumstances context where exactly the line is between disingenuity and ingenuity. Any thoughts?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tinklenberg - a separate thing from the bridge collapse, inattention or indiference to toxic material.

And, no, this time it is NOT about taconite tailings. That was an affirmative plan Tinklenberg took money to promote. This is about job negligence, arguably gross negligence, while heading MnDOT, and being responsible for its hazardous materials handling.

The GOP leaning Let Freedom Ring blog in the second half of a posting about Elwyn Tinklenberg analyzes and links to a MnDOT Newsline web posting which notes among other news of the time the legislative auditor's 2000-2001 oversight of MnDOT's own internal auditing and practices. The GOP blog quotes:

In response to a recent department internal audit, Mn/DOT will improve project oversight to ensure that contractors and public agencies working under department supervision meet state and federal regulations.

The audit, which covered the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, was part of Mn/DOT’s annual review of its financial statements and federal programs. The department forwards the results of its internal audit to the Office of the Legislative Auditor each year for review. The legislative auditor publicly released its report about Mn/DOT’s findings on March 26.

“Our internal audit findings indicate we have areas in which we need to improve,” Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg said. “Fortunately, we have already defined processes to make us more efficient and accountable and are taking measures to address all of the concerns raised.”

The audit identified seven areas of concern, including suggesting that MnDOT did not provide adequate oversight to Hennepin County engineers in properly disposing of lead paint residue removed from the Washington Avenue bridge in Minneapolis. According to the original audit report, the Hennepin County contractor improperly disposed of 117 tons of bridge lead paint blasting residue at a landfill instead of disposing it at a hazardous waste treatment facility.

[emphasis added] This looks to be cutting corners, and gambling with the health of others. This is too similar a thing to the taconite tailings situation where the prudence of the precautionary principle was overridden by intent to do things a decided way, risk be damned, and with both instances evidencing an environmental unawareness and affront which are things that should be hard for voters to reconcile with a candidate suggesting he represents a more capable and sagacious choice than his admittedly problematic opponent.

Yes, there is little doubt Michele Bachmann is indeed an off the wall zealot who has done little positive for the District. But she never dumped 117 tons of toxic waste wrongly, there is that she can say for herself. Nor did she look the other way when others were up to such cost cutting mischief. She did not have both responsibility and a blind eye, her record is clear of that sort of blemish.

And this is the GOP pointing things out.

We all know the story, Gov. Pawlenty seeing the little girl with the kittens in a box, her telling him they are Republican kittens, then two weeks later seeing her again and asking how the Republican kittens are doing. And she says, "They're DFL kittens now. Their eyes have opened."

Jokes aside, how should voters weigh this recent reinvestigation into aspects of the Tinklenberg attitude toward environmental safety, especially in light of ongoing worry over taconite tailings being used in paving?

It's there. It''s a problem Tinklenberg should face and explain.

Before November will there be more of the same called again to our attention? Will that sort of thing hurt the balance of the DFL ticket in the Sixth District?

The GOP blogs are rightly picking up on Elwyn Tinklenberg's responsibilities for the I-35W bridge. But they may be missing the point.

I commented about it, with links to original MnDOT released materials and other original sources, here. It was a somewhat thorough presentation. Have a look. I shall not repeat things now.

Within the last week or two, a pair of fairly well reasoned consciously paralleled GOP blog posts are noting similar things.

Here. Title, "What Did Tinklenberg Know, and When Did he Know It?"

And here. Title, "Tinklenberg Vetoed Fixing I-35 Bridge?"

That is posing the question. What exact role and knowledge did Tinklenberg have? Did he affirmatively nix things, or was he sleeping at the switch?

Or was he prudent and proper, as he should be wanting to establish - wanting to make some affirmative showing of his tenure, and things known and done.

More briefly, another GOP blog, same theme, note this.

It is a theme the GOP blogsphere is picking up. It probably will intensify.

But are they missing one main point?

The MnDOT released emails, so far as they stood when I last looked, date of that referenced June 14 post, show lower level functionaries worried more about "today's issue" rather than the "big picture." By that I mean, issues of deicing technology on that bridge deck were bouncing around at intermediate MnDOT responsibility levels when the bridge structural integrity, per the contract proposal the two blogs mention was also tendered to MnDOT - with Elwyn Tinklenberg at the head of the organization, installed there the prior year. I did not see any released email trail about the structural proposal from the contractor in the email trail, nor about the study done by the one U. Minn. researcher saying replacement of that bridge could safely be postponed. And nothing in Tinklenberg emailings from that time has yet been released. Unless I misread the MnDOT documentation. My earlier post had the link over to the MnDOT materials.

I have two concerns that go beyond what the two GOP blogs have noted.

First, the U. Minn. researcher's report, what totality of circumstances need vetting?

Was it intended to whitewash a deficiency known in the bridge to postpone replacement expense so that light rail could be pushed as THE LEGACY ISSUE front burner, with all else, bridge safety included, back burner?

A sub-part of that question, was the U. Minn. thing inspired as a second-opinion thing to analyze the contractor's proposal, and if so, why no mention of gusset plates? Why only focusing on or primarily focusing on the decking? If the structural submission of the contractor was in hand, wouldn't the U. Minn. researcher's tasking logically have included that? If it was consciously excluded, why?

Now, second, the more fundamental question. Similar to Howard Baker's insistent Watergate investigation question that the one GOP blog renews, regarding Tinklenberg's tenure heading MnDOT. What did Elwyn Tinklenberg know and when did he know it? There's a ring to the sound of it. Sub-question, what did he choose to do and why?

However, I think an even more basic question is if Tinklenberg claims no part of the decision making then, not having knowledge or a role, why in the world was he not atop things, doing things, doing his job?

It seems to me it would be more damning of his management and leadership potential, what he wants to sell to Sixth District voters as cause to elect him, if he later will say, "It never percolated up to me, so that nothing could trickle down."

Quite simply, it should have. If it did not percolate up sufficiently but got lost in the hands of intermediaries, then the man at the top was not doing his job since his job is to set up operations so that the big questions don't get lost but reach his desk.

It is something like Harry Truman's motto, "The buck stops here."

IF you are doing the job, the buck stops at the top. If the buck stops lower, never getting there to the top, the the job's been grossly and inexcusibly mishandled.

It would be worse if a complete vetting of things shows that the only thing trickling down - and this would reflect badly on both Elwyn Tinklenberg and Jesse Ventura - if all that trickled down was "Build light rail," with Jesse telling Elwyn that and Elwyn saluting and saying, "Yes sir" with nothing else deemed important enough for Elwyn's attention.

If communication was deficient, and Tinklenberg intends to hide behind that as somehow exculpatory, he is dead wrong. It would be more damning because it would have been his job to assure that kind of loss of top-man responsibility and being in the relevant "loops" would not happen. The chief runs the tribe, not the indians.

And a major, major and serious worry - why have Tinklenberg's MnDOT emails not been put up on the MnDOT site? They indicate they are culling and sorting. Things related to the bridge are, allegedly, being found and posted.

Hey, if that is saying Elwyn had no email relevant to the bridge - what's to be made of that? Why not? Publish all his MnDOT email, to show what he WAS spending his time doing if not worrying about safe roads and bridges for the citizens. Put it all up, and do that now. Why the delay, why the "indian emails" when the first and big and relevant question leading to this November is the "chief's emails?"

And that has to mean the entire email record. Every email in. Every email out. [Also, every letter in, every letter out, every diary or calendar entry, etc.]

Ron Carey should get a brain and the GOP bloggers should also. They should be making an incredible noise - beyond what did he know, what was he doing, while his agency had information critical to the question of bridge safety? But also -- Who were his advisers, and what email advice and information were they giving him? What were his orders and requests? How did he assure he'd be "in the loop" when things clearly needed his having that status and concern?

All of that is relevant to whether it was Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

Instead of calling Elwyn Tinklenberg a liberal [false] out of touch with the mood of his district [likely true, certainly so in my judgment], Ron Carey and those bloggers should be hounding the bureaucrats at MnDOT to post the man's management history, without editing, all of it and sooner rather than later.

We voters are owed that --- to know the truth and to vote accordingly.

Indeed, Elwyn Tinklenberg should be leading the charge, "Exonerate me, show them the entire record. Show the people the truth." That's how Teddy Roosevelt would have reacted. Also Harry Truman. Any self-assured man would eagerly publish the record.

His strange silence that way suggests a knowledge or belief that showing the record might not be exculpatory, but rather an implication into mismanagement or possibly something worse, whitewashing the truth to not have to lessen the push for light rail. Light rail and the bragging rights wanted later, in politics, for the legacy.

Leadership is making the hard decisions, not the easy ones. It is passing up a shot at bragging rights if the best priorities say replace or fix that bridge, at its cost, and then look to see how money for other pet projects could be attained.

That is the difference between leadership and posturing. I expect the generals running Iraq would be more concerned with being assured the ammunition issued troops did not misfire, than with the shine on a desktop or on cerimonial brass, and having the flags pressed and staged before press conferences.

It is priorities that we should see, as they were set and managed.

And all that is public data. It should be discoverable upon GOP request, under Minn. Stat. Ch. 13. But don't just hand it over to the GOP. Post it on the MnDOT website.

Anything less is ducking the issue. What was Elwyn doing, what did he know, when did he know it, and how did he handle what he knew and assuring he would be told in timely ways of the important not cerimonial aspects of his job - running MnDOT?

Back to my earlier post. What Elwyn Tinklenberg knew or should have known. The "should have known" thing is key. It was his job, no more, no less, to be on top of his job. "Nobody told me," would be an admission of deriliction of duty. Misfeasance.

Bottom line: The one thing we know for a certainty. Elwyn Tinklenberg cashed every paycheck given him while he headed MnDOT.

Friday, June 27, 2008

CONGRESSMAN Elwyn Tinklenberg.

Everybody has a rail issue as a local transportation debate. Even people who call the bus "The Bus."

Believe it.

Last updated June 24, 2008 5:56 p.m. PT
Honolulu mayor uses campaign funds for ads against group


HONOLULU -- Mayor Mufi Hannemann has used campaign funds to pay for advertisements attacking a group opposed to the city's planned $4 billion rail transit system.

The three-quarter-page ad claims that Stop Rail Now is made up of "ultraconservative groups" that support the auto and oil industries, and very few residents. The advertisement has appeared in both Honolulu daily newspapers.

"Anti-rail protesters want us to remain dependent on things that are no longer working," the ad reads.

Stop Rail Now says Hannemann should not be using his campaign funds to attack the group, which is working to put the rail project on the November ballot. They say contrary to statements in the ad, the city has not accepted public input.

"It is wrong for this mayor to be using his huge campaign treasury to attack a citizen group ... especially when his ad is full of lies," said Dennis Callan, co-chairman of Stop Rail Now.

Barbara Wong, executive director of state Campaign Spending Commission, said Hannemann's use of the funds is legal. Candidates can use campaign funds for issues related to the office they are seeking, she said.

The ad is entitled, "Getting Real on Rail: Setting the record straight on anti-rail misinformation," and includes a note from Hannemann that lists potential benefits of the system.

The mayor's administration was criticized earlier this year by members of the city council for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of city funds on public relations for the project.

The administration argued that federal guidelines require that spending.

Hannemann has raised more than $2 million in campaign funds although no other major candidate has emerged to challenge his re-election bid.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Bulletin,

Do not let me down. If it gets built, please call it "The Rail."

Been there. Felt that.

Haven't we all had this kind of experience? The email.

Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don't drive usability issues.

Let me give you my experience from yesterday.

I decided to download (Moviemaker) and buy the Digital Plus pack ... so I went to They have a download place so I went there.

The first 5 times I used the site it timed out while trying to bring up the download page. Then after an 8 second delay I got it to come up.

This site is so slow it is unusable.

It wasn't in the top 5 so I expanded the other 45.

These 45 names are totally confusing. These names make stuff like: C:\Documents and Settings\billg\My Documents\My Pictures seem clear.

They are not filtered by the system ... and so many of the things are strange.

I tried scoping to Media stuff. Still no moviemaker. I typed in movie. Nothing. I typed in movie maker. Nothing.

So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying - where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist?

So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

They told me to go to the main page search button and type movie maker (not moviemaker!).

I tried that. The site was pathetically slow but after 6 seconds of waiting up it came.

I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download.

In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.

This struck me as completely odd. Why should I have to go somewhere else and do a scan to download moviemaker?

So I went to Windows update. Windows Update decides I need to download a bunch of controls. (Not) just once but multiple times where I get to see weird dialog boxes.

Doesn't Windows update know some key to talk to Windows?

Then I did the scan. This took quite some time and I was told it was critical for me to download 17megs of stuff.

This is after I was told we were doing delta patches to things but instead just to get 6 things that are labeled in the SCARIEST possible way I had to download 17meg.

So I did the download. That part was fast. Then it wanted to do an install. This took 6 minutes and the machine was so slow I couldn't use it for anything else during this time.

What the heck is going on during those 6 minutes? That is crazy. This is after the download was finished.

Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot every night -- why should I reboot at that time?

So I did the reboot because it INSISTED on it. Of course that meant completely getting rid of all my Outlook state.

So I got back up and running and went to Windows Update again. I forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to get Moviemaker.

So I went back to and looked at the instructions. I have to click on a folder called WindowsXP. Why should I do that? Windows Update knows I am on Windows XP.

What does it mean to have to click on that folder? So I get a bunch of confusing stuff but sure enough one of them is Moviemaker.

So I do the download. The download is fast but the Install takes many minutes. Amazing how slow this thing is.

At some point I get told I need to go get Windows Media Series 9 to download.

So I decide I will go do that. This time I get dialogs saying things like "Open" or "Save". No guidance in the instructions which to do. I have no clue which to do.

The download is fast and the install takes 7 minutes for this thing.

So now I think I am going to have Moviemaker. I go to my add/remove programs place to make sure it is there.

It is not there.

What is there? The following garbage is there. Microsoft Autoupdate Exclusive test package, Microsoft Autoupdate Reboot test package, Microsoft Autoupdate testpackage1. Microsoft AUtoupdate testpackage2, Microsoft Autoupdate Test package3.

Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable? The file system is no longer usable. The registry is not usable. This program listing was one sane place but now it is all crapped up.

But that is just the start of the crap. Later I have listed things like Windows XP Hotfix see Q329048 for more information. What is Q329048? Why are these series of patches listed here? Some of the patches just things like Q810655 instead of saying see Q329048 for more information.

What an absolute mess.

Moviemaker is just not there at all.

So I give up on Moviemaker and decide to download the Digital Plus Package.

I get told I need to go enter a bunch of information about myself.

I enter it all in and because it decides I have mistyped something I have to try again. Of course it has cleared out most of what I typed.

I try (typing) the right stuff in 5 times and it just keeps clearing things out for me to type them in again.

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that is a terrible website I haven't run Moviemaker and I haven't got the plus package.

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don't you just love that root certificate message?)

When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback.

Bitch, bitch, bitch. Go tell Bill Gates about it.

The header:

---- Original Message ----

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
To: Jim Allchin
Cc: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

Some justice in the world. He eats his own dogfood and it gives indigestion.

From Seattle PI on Gates' retirement from Microsoft.

And since everyone deserves proper retirement recognition for the milestones of life, there is this. The early days. Getting nabbed.

Google with Blogger still from time to time brain farts and earns a user's single finger salute. Ever see this on your Blogger screen:


in big letters saying the new text you just typed has been trashed, and sorry?

Just got it. Like the old days. With Wordstar. 5-1/4 inch, dual floppy. 512K.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The only nice thing about astroturf, is you don't have to mow the stuff.

And if you are unable to recognize it when it's manifestly apparent, see here. If you are unsure of how rampant stupidity is expressed, learn, here.

When did these folks show up? I had it returned in a very recent Google Alert set for "Tinklenberg." Has anyone seen them at play earlier than now?

Highlights you can forget at your peril.

photo from Google Images


FIRST: I previously posted about a systematic email management situation I misunderstood, and was overly harsh on both the Tinklenberg campaign management people for that and on an individual from the campaign who had sent out a promotional item. Two-putt Tommy informed me that the email things I noted, that a link is not a simple link directly to a site but indirectly so, was a result not of any special intent on the part of the particular campaign, or the individual I jumped on, Chase Golding, but a generic thing due to common use of a software tool within the DFL, and possibly nationwide, and that last cycle, 2004, other DFL people had used it. As a best guess without researching, Rowley, Walz, and possibly Wetterling, herself, used the same software or an earlier version in 2004.

A comment to the earlier critical post explained nearly the same thing Two-putt Tommy indicated, in better detail. It was neither Mr. Golding, nor the Tinklenberg staff in general that were acting unusually or inappropriately "off base" from what apparently had become an established DFL party practice.

My dissatisfaction with Elwyn Tinklenberg and the Tinklenberg candidacy wrongly was misdirected, off point, at staff.

Months ago, Golding properly tracked me down in the Anoka town hall hallway prior to the Anoka debate between Olson and Tinklenberg and politely confronted me over the error.

Golding was correct. I should have put an update to the post back then, March 2008. I had intended to and did not do so because of a primary attention to the debate itself, and other events.

Aside from billboards, the Tinklenberg campaign seems enamoured of technology. I spoke at the endorsement convention in the hallway a month or so after the Anoka debate with another young Tinklenberg staff person about all the "headset" people milling about everywhere in their green Tinklenberg tee shirts, etc. Like cult people having to maintain a virtual constant contact to keep the cult a living thing.

They seemed to all be routing information to back-room headquarters operatives on site, and I had an impression midway between thinking about NFL sidelines with coaches angrily throwing down headsets over a dropped pass or a penalty, and a view of the technology involved for my emails being routed through an ATT splitter to NSA operatives, the bright and dark marvels of technological capability, etc.

That dark side of the force thing, is how the other party operates, the GOP administration with the ATT/NSA eavesdropping thing. It, so far, is not the DFL.

It is how too much of DC is too permissive of civil rights and privacy abuses which the framers of the Constitution feared even back in days when messages were delivered on a less frequent basis by horseback. Sealing wax, trusted couriers and signet rings then, vs 256 or 512 bit encryption, if you really care now.

The GOP rank-and-file tolerance of its leadership's abuse of freedom that way [facilitated by too many of the Blue Dogs and other quasi-Democrats more into liking the air surrounding a fear-of-terror ethos than not] has been excellently tied to voting choices of the [strange-to-have-to-say-it] presently senior Senator from Minnesota, ex-SDS Hofstra student pot-smoking scruffy radical and present beneficiary of fine suits and tidy cosmetic makeover dentistry, Norman Coleman.

Please read this carefully written MnBlue link, for an excellent analysis of that Coleman tie-in to abuse of civil liberty situation. From its date, the MnBlue item was a Christmas present to other civil libertarians. It has already been linked to from Crabgrass, but it deserves both repeated linking, and repeated re-reading. It is about something that many of us should be incensed and much more vocal about. (Not that I doubt Al Franken will be on that message at some point between now and November).

Everyone, every individual in the ideological belief spectrum from those thinking socialism is a good thing to the Ron Paul wing of the GOP, each individual in that broad spectrum who believes privacy and freedom should be immune from heavy-booted unwarranted government intrusion should read that post.

Encroachment by the present federal executive branch upon aspects of freedom is something tyrants in other nations do regularly, and it is so very much against our Constitutional ways and aims that we should be in the streets and on our soapboxes howling about "never should have happened."

And we should blame every individual who under the false rubric of "War on Terror" allowed, facilitated, promoted or wanted such an erosion of decency and liberty.

And that clearly is a local focus on Norman Coleman.

It is something I explain in part by regarding Norman Coleman as a very, very weak and opportunistic man seeking a touch at power and willingly trading whatever level of good judgment and fairness he has for even a touch of power which is being quite greatly abused.

Part of the weakness I see in Norman Coleman is his willing, over-eager drift to affiliate with those allowing him a peripheral though obedient role in exercising abusive power. The man has just been too loyal and pliant a tool of George Bush and Dick Cheney, and he has been liking being so compromised and should be voted out resoundingly. While backtracking on two points in this post, I have absolutely no equivocation nor intent to backtrack from what I think of or say about Norman Coleman.

I also see Elwyn Tinklenberg as a weak and compromised man. Self-compromised. And I have said that more than once and will not backtrack from that. My view is across party lines and why I decline to be in the DFL party [with of course the GOP being on the whole an even less suitable fit for my personality and belief system]. Michele Bachmann is a total joke, a characture, while Elwyn Tinklenberg is a quite weak candidate and much of a poseur and characture himself.

I do not want to see nor care to see Elwyn Tinklenberg billboards that say how optimistic he feels himself to be, nor would I wholly believe it if he, as if seeing a great light while on the way to Damascus, were to suddenly start to recognize and criticize the abuses against freedom and Constitutional habeas corpus decency practiced by this Bush-Cheney-Coleman administration as strongly and cogently as Big E at MnBlue did.

Call it my own personality flaw, an unwillingness to suspend disbelief, to get beyond, "Sure Elwyn," were he to vigorously denounce such practices.

But back to the point - my dislike of Elwyn Tinklenberg should not have spilled over to attacking a common practice among other campaigns I like, or to negatively naming an individual campaign worker who was only writing and sending email promotional and solicitation material. Nor should I view use of communication technology by a campaign staff at an endorsement convention as somehow dark or inherently wrong primarily because I dislike their candidate. Nor should I view a reasonable and progressive use of communication technology as in any way at all equivalent to abusive use of intercept and detection technology by the Bushco gang or under the gang's questionable executive-order misauthorizations.

All those headset Tinklenberg staff people at the endorsement convention, to whatever degree they believed in the Tinklenberg candidacy as a good thing, were simply making it easier to manage their collective activity. The proper analogy is the coaching and teamwork and use of headset communication in an NFL context, which is justifiable and reasonable, and should not inspire any knee-jerk Luddite distrust of technology itself and those using it correctly.

I do not like [but can live with] the DFL decision to centralize its management of email contact and to have a centralized database of soft-touch people who give money as well as ideological support. The game of getting elected or not runs on money, it is how it is, and centralization is how the levers are to be operated, in the judgment of those running the DFL and having their hands on the levers. It is how the party chooses to go.

It is their party, their overall game, their decision-making, their gain or loss, and their consequences, so bless them.

Even with the occasional Elwyn Tinklenberg, their product mix has been better. For example, Mike Hatch, pluses and minuses (and even if truly as bad as Eric Black's extremist reporting of Hatch and Swanson indicates), nonetheless was a far, far better choice than Pawlenty last cycle. The best man lost.

It is up to individuals to segregate their campaign giving to individual candidates if they dislike one on the ticket, and it is the DFL party perogative to attempt to channel giving generically, where those running things can then allocate generic giving and generate due gratitude. My message being, give to the individual campaigns you support, always, not the party.

The foregoing corrects, in much detail and clearly with substantial digression, the first thing I needed to revise and extend remarks over. [Don't you love that "revise and extend" cliche? They never say "revise and shorten." Have you ever heard that? No, of course not. It is always "revise and extend." They are politicians after all.] Addressing the second matter is easier and shorter.

SECOND: NRRI, so far, has generally been very cooperative in providing requested public data when I have requested disclosure under Minn. Stat. Ch. 13. And they are busy people with other things to do, other demands on their time, so that their reasonableness that way has been appreciated.

I only hope the next request, or the one after that go as smoothly. It is and always must be an instance-by-instance thing. Yet the statute is reasonably clear on what is publicly accessible as a matter of citizen right, and what for policy reasons is excluded as expressly and narrowly outside of the otherwise overriding entitlement to gain disclosure. And each time busy people have to take time to comply. Each time should be appreciated, even with a controlling right of access by statute. Games always could be played, and so far there has been none of that from NRRI when I have requested things. Most recently personnel there have emailed me an item that fit within the range of things they have posted on their website, a January 2008 status report on the tailings-in-paving program they operate and administer. This was provided with an acknowledgement that while its public posting had been delayed the intent always was to disclose it in the identical fashion that earlier reporting of the same nature had been posted on their website.

I can carp a bit about not having as easily navigatable a website or site map as in the best of worlds they might, but my site navigation deficiencies might be more at fault than their web design - who's to definitively say?

In a post at about the same time that I was improperly critical of Chase Golding I also, here, and here, inappropriately foresaw getting data practices compliance from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, NRRI affiliates as "Upriver Into the Heart of Darkness."

For that misanticipation, I apologize. But my next request in my view will be a real humdinger, and I hope it will not be opposed or stiffled. There is a "contacts" database (that has been assembled by The Tinklenberg Group) of persons Elwyn and others in TTG contacted in promotion of the shipping and use of taconite tailings in paving, and names and contact information and context of past contacts apparently were logged. In one earlier Tinklenberg Group report to NRRI the express committment was made that the data would, in an organized electronic database or spreadsheet form, be conveyed from The Tinklenberg Group to NRRI and kept periodically updated via update e-communication from TTG.

Access to a copy of that database is my next public data request target. I have yet to write and email the request but the database was attained and assembled from public funds, for what has been characterized as a public purpose in line with NRRI mission goals, to be transferred by a retained private sector paid contractor to NRRI to there be used and maintained by public employees, and kept for public governmental purposes at a public governmental agency's facility. The quite narrow exceptions to Minn. Stat. Ch. 13 are inapplicable; and this time I approach the request with no "Heart of Darkenss" anticipation or misgivings.

As already indicated, I was wrong to have done that in the past. Things should progress this time as smoothly as in the past. That is my anticipation -- no Heart of Darkness. No stonewall. No inordinate delay. They have been busy but generally helpful and respectful people, with any delay being due to my lack of follow-up, and not any intent to avoid statutory duty. Things worked as the legislature, in passing a Data Practices Act, intended.

photos from Google Images

Monday, June 23, 2008

Norm, take out the garbage.

And while we're at it, how's the wife? Isn't it about time you did a family commercial? And, hey, what's a boy like you doing with a Weasel Meter tracking you? We do the tracking. Not them.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Elwyn Tinklenberg can you read? Elwyn Tinklenberg is the truth a stranger, or will you keep your word?

Although scrubbed from the Tinklenberg website, as noted in Crabgrass May 4, Elwyn Tinklenberg's campaign website once said:

Recently, the Star Tribune published an article that has led to some confusion regarding El's position on the use of taconite tailings in road construction. He believes that if scientific research conducted by the University of Minnesota shows that taconite tailings from the western side of the Iron Range are safe, we should find innovative, sustainable ways to recycle the by-product. Conversely, if the University finds taconite tailings to be unsafe, their use should be suspended immediately.

El has attempted to clear up these rumors in the past and will continue to do so until the voters know the facts about his position. Here is what El had to say earlier this year:

"The project I have worked on is sponsored by the University of Minnesota's Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency. [...]"

If you hear any rumors about El's position on taconite tailings or his role in their use as transportation aggregate, make sure you help set the record straight. Your grassroots support and involvement will ensure that voters will make decisions informed by the facts, not gossip.

[emaphasis added].

At the Anoka Town Hall debate Sunday March 16, see Crabgrass, here, Elwyn Tinklenberg said about the same thing, context being Olson confronted him with the question of whether the Health Department had said taconite is safe, Tinklenberg doing a glide-and-slide to the effect [parallel to the scrubbed website text] roughly, not an exact quote, "Larry Zanko of the University of Minnesota has done a study showing it is safe and if you want I can get you a copy of the study, and if you want, you can question the validity of the University of Minnesota ...". To that, Olson reemphasixed he said "Health Department" and the show went on, Elwyn Tinklenberg adding, again roughly, "Larry Zanko is a good person and I feel certain that if Larry Zanko ever questioned whether it was safe or not he would not be recommending it be used and I would react the same way, if someone were to prove it unsafe."

Note the weaseling, somebody has to prove it unsafe, or Zanko has to have doubts or something before Elwyn Tinklenberg would stop collecting and cashing checks from NRRI to promote tailings-use at trade shows and make contacts and arrangements for the material to be shipped and used in paving, with its current status as safe or unsafe indeterminate but with Elwyn on record saying he felt Larry Zanko had proven it safe. Perhaps if God would speak to Elwyn as Michele Bachmann says He does to her, that might be a factor too. Who knows? In any event, the committment, THE PROMISE, was that if Zanko expressed doubts he would seek remediatiation "immediately."

That was THE PROMISE. Elwyn Tinklenberg's position, on the record. The debate segments were put on the web, and you can review things if you feel a word of this post misstates things.

Well, gee, Elwyn Tinklenberg certainly talks the talk, does he not?


Do you wonder, is this a man who would walk the walk?

Isn't that the real question when he wants your vote?

There is this [click to enlarge]:

That's a page downlaodable from the NRRI website, here, and it says what it says.

NRRI and Larry Zanko are to be complimented for their forthright approach to the upcoming study, its present evidence of cancer distribution along the entire Mesabi area, and the implications they see as presently unavoidable conclusions based upon a preliminary view of the evidence from which the study will be starting.

They are doing the right thing, telling the truth that way. It is proper. It is a public benefit to see them having said this. It encourages trust, or at least a partial suspension of disbelief.

But that's Larry Zanko. That's NRRI. That leaves the question of Elwyn Tinklenberg begging an answer.

Pertinent things on that image page from NRRI are highlighted in Wellstone Green [not revolving-door lobbyist green, but a better shade of green].

The simple gist of things, the Western Mesabi contains primarily Phyllosilicate [who 'dat? - actually it does not matter], and what really matters is, bottom of the page, bottom line, that:

It is important to emphasize that of these minerals, only the fibrous amphiboles are currently known to cause asbestos-related disease and are regulated as asbestos; however, the cases of mesothelioma have occurred in miners who worked across the range so exposure to the fibrous phyllosilicates cannot be ruled out as a cause of asbestos-related disease.

Pure and simple, that is NRRI, Tinklenberg's touted experts, saying the western material "cannot be ruled out" as a cause of cancer.

No two ways about it. The item is quite explicit and there is no "second way" it can be cogently read. It says the stuff might cause cancer. What the taconite tailings paving skeptics have been saying all along, with Elwyn just not caring enough to listen. Now his precious NRRI says it. So, will he still play deaf?

The second online item downloadable at the NRRI website is a panel of experts critiquing the NRRI scoping proposal, and it trenchantly observes [at p.13 of 17 pages]:

The revised proposal that we reviewed consistently differentiates particles into two bins: fiber and cleavage fragment. This approach that has been taken in many previous studies typically begins by applying a strict definition to "asbestos" using its commercial properties, often blurring the distinctions between amphiboles and chrysotile, and then lumping everything else, including fibrous, acicular, prismatic, and true cleavage fragments into the cleavage fragment bin. In doing this, the "cleavage fragments" are usually tagged with a label that implies non-regulated and lower toxicity. While this overly simplistic two-bin approach to analysis until recently has been the norm, it has done little to advance our understanding of the important particle determinants of toxicity and likely inhibits an accurate assessment of the risks. The materials analyzed should be analyzed and described as completely as possible (given funding constraints) using accurate mineralogical terminology and definitions.

That is essentially the dispute that taconite-paving skeptics have with the NRRI - Zanko work on "justifying" using tailings from part of the Iron Range, west but not east, because "asbestos" [that "bin" of the "two bins" the experts described] exists for certain in the east, but so far, from quite limited and arguably insufficient sampling and analysis, has not yet been found to the west of a suggested demarcation line Elwyn Tinklenberg's scrubbed website text touted, a suggested demarcation line between "safe and unsafe."

It is this refusal to consider the simplest null hypothesis, that asbestos might be a complicating factor but not the main one; and that we should presume as a precautionary start that the main mineral material that constitute the tailings is a hazard of and by itself, and arguably not to be used in paving unless proven non-hazardous. That is the way the burden of proof should be in any event, but especially after NRRI has made that telling, above-quoted admission.

If there were to be a moritorium on taconite tailings in paving the world would not stop on its axis. Other economical alternative aggregate materials exist, and roads built with the alternative substances will not possibly have to be torn out and replaced at great expense [much as a neglected bridge fell and now has to be replaced, see Crabgrass, here].

A little precautionary attention can avoid catastrophic loss and great cost later.

Ounce of prevention, pound of cure kind of thing that for bridge and tailings were overlooked on the Tinklenberg watch; once for legacy and future opportunity while the man headed MnDOT, once for a drum-beating promotion fee from NRRI.

For more perspective: That above image page is from a 27 page scoping document for a currently pending study, funded in the recently closed legislative session, to investigate the situation of 59 Iron Range miners from throughout the Mesabi mining region [West as well as east], who have died of an extremely rare lung cancer routinely associated with asbestos exposure [with exposure to "asbestiform" materials, specifically taconite fibers and/or cleavage fragments that have a 3:1 or greater aspect ratio, length to width, particularly those in the size range of about 4 x 0.25 microns or so, possibly greater or smaller as a possible causative factor being uncertain, but likely since cancer deaths from the Western Mesabi allegedly involved no "asbestos" per se, in the mined material]. Study it and the background, if you doubt. The item the page is from is dated, Jan. 15, 2008; with a companion online panel critique of that research scoping paper dated Feb. 5, 2008, and downloadable at the same University of Minnesota at Duluth, NRRI web page, here. Accessing the page before starting this post indicated it was last updated, March 30, 2008; so that Elwyn Tinklenberg had constructive public notice of it by All Fool's Day, appropriately enough.

Actual notice, not necessarily, but constructive notice. He will have actual notice when I finish the post because I will email the link to his campaign. No doubt then, actual notice to that staff is notice to the top dog.

So, will the campaign top dog bark now? Or will it be The Hound of the Baskervilles thing, the important clue being the hound not barking?

Will the Blue Dog just sit and scratch his fleas?

This post is a public challenge to Elwyn Tinklenberg - you made promises to people you wished to have vote for you, while in the past you took about $90,000 to promote widespread use of taconite tailings in road paving in Minnesota - what's your strongest tie, to the promises or the cash flow?

Will you, Elwyn Tinklenberg now issue a press release or go on TV calling for an immediate moritorium in the use, anywhere, of taconite tailings in paving unless and until the currently pending Minnesota State Department of Health -- University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus School of Public Health -- University of Minnesota Duluth, NRRI extended joint study of taconite safety is completed and the results interpreted and made known to decision makers and the general public?

Will you do the honorable thing? Will you implore MnDOT to revise its approval of the material or impose a moritorium of its approval of the material for paving? Will you issue that press release? Or will you sit there quietly scratching the fleas, no bark, no bite?

Elwyn Tinklenberg, the opportunity is yours. Symbolically, Bob Olson yet again is handing you the microphone. He did that at the Anoka Debate. He did that saying he had promised Judge Miles Lord that he would not let this important issue drop, be buried, be glided over, slid over. He promised and delivered. He had that integrity to him.

If you, Elwyn Tinklenberg, expect a single voter to cast a ballot for you, don't you owe that voter at the least a showing that you can and will keep a promise?

How, Elwyn Tinklenberg, can you solicit votes otherwise? We don't care how optimistic you really are, or how optimistic your billborads say you are, we want you to be honest to your word. Is that asking too much?

Bob Olson's passing the mike, Elwyn Tinklenberg.

So look happy.

It's not a problem. It's an opportunity.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in St. Paul - click on the image for more detail.

Cook is reported to be both expert, and aware of the precautionary principal.

As a federal employee he does not have policy responsibilities - he is a scientific researcher. His presentation will be worth attending by anyone concerned with the situation.

If the stuff is used in paving, and a hazard, why do it? For money?

That's really crass and disdainful of all of us potentially at risk.

Is a five-figure consulting fee worth putting that risk on the rest of us?

In closing: It is doubtful that Cook will have definitive answers. It would be improper to expect that. A study that will last at least three years has just been started.

However, Cook will be able to tell the public what he knows, as background, while we keep the politicians' and researchers' feet to the fire to not compromise the health and safety of Minnesotans.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Elwyn Tinklenberg knew or should have known about the condition of Interstate 35W bridge gussets in 2000.

What does the standard - knew or should have known - mean? It means a reasonable person in the place of the individual would have perceived the situation properly. You be the judge based on evidence reported in today's Strib, online.

You judge --- The boss of MnDOT at the time; a most heavily used river crossing bridge, perhaps carrying more daily traffic than any other - suggestions of need to repair. A subsequent academic MnDOT funded "study" arguably absolving guilt. A self-declared non-candidate for office in July 2007. A dog and pony show to declare for office in August 2007. After the bridge fell. Implying all along in coming forward then and afterward that the accident somehow resulted from or could be attributed to stinginess and negligence of intervening MnDOT stewards. The NTSB initially saying failed gussets were at fault. James Oberstar immediately jumping the NTSB preliminary mention of its result. Tinklenberg saying "metallurgy" as somehow negating the overlooked fact gusset plates were half as thick as design specifications required. What pattern do you see. Straight-up truthfulness up and down the line? Something else?

Why send that pattern, (all other baggage aside), that pattern alone - to the halls of Congress? To sit on the same committee as James Oberstar, the one who immediately jumped the "gusset" explanation of those not holding any stake in the outcome of investigation - the impartial forensic experts? WHY DID HE DO THAT?

And there is the November voting question: Is Michele Bachmann really that bad so that her act needs replacement by this act? Voters in Minnesota's Sixth District will have that choice. Their choice to make. The lobbyist or the laughingstock.

Here are facts:
First, Strib's publishing the timestamped photo showing bent gussets existed and were apparent a mere eight months after Tinklenberg left MnDOT as its head [with the likelihood of the bending occuring after he left, Oct. 2002, being minimal, given the remainder of the proof]:

Strib's photo caption: "Bent gusset plates on the Interstate 35 W bridge are seen, center, in this 2003 photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board. Old photos of the bridge show two gusset plates were visibly bent as early as 2003 -- four years before the span collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people. The plates are in areas believed to be among the first points of failure, and the photos are stamped with the dates June 10, 2003 and June 12, 2003."

Strib then reports:

A Kansas City consulting firm suggested that the connectors on the I-35W bridge be examined and provided drawings of how it planned to strengthen areas around them. The firm, however, didn't get the contract. By MIKE KASZUBA, Star Tribune, Last update: June 14, 2008 - 6:50 AM

Seven years before the Interstate 35W bridge fell, a consulting firm sent Minnesota officials a proposal to shore up the aging structure that included examining its gusset plates -- the connections that federal investigators now believe likely played a role in the collapse.

The preliminary plan from HNTB Corp. of Kansas City, which was buried among hundreds of documents released at a recent legislative hearing, has gone largely unnoticed in the debate over the disaster. The company did its study at no cost in an attempt to gain a state contract for the bridge work but, in the end, wasn't hired by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

A series of follow-up memos in 2000 and 2001 featured drawings of how HNTB planned to strengthen areas immediately surrounding the gusset plates and included renderings of "supplemental plates" and a "new oversize gusset." Other drawings called for adding supplemental supports in the vicinity of the gusset plates.

Although a top HNTB official said recently that it's impossible to say whether the company would have found the critical gusset plate problems now under investigation, the proposal is a rare documented instance in which experts explicitly planned to examine gusset plates.

"You have to check connections," Ray McCabe, HNTB's national bridge and tunnel director, said in describing what the company intended. "When you say connections, you naturally are describing the connections of these [large steel] members, which connect to gusset plates," he said. "You can't separate the bolts and the gusset; they form the connection."

McCabe said the study mirrored what MnDOT was also seeking -- a plan to add redundancy to a bridge that could collapse if one critical part failed.

The plan did pique the interest of Gray Plant Mooty, the law firm hired by a joint legislative panel to investigate issues surrounding the Aug. 1 collapse.

In its report to a legislative committee last month, the law firm contrasted HNTB's proposal with one from URS Inc., another national consulting firm that was eventually hired by MnDOT.

"Importantly ... the scope of the work under the URS contract did not include the analysis of the gusset plates that had been proposed by HNTB," Gray Plant Mooty said.

In addition, according to the law firm, HNTB last month confirmed that the company's cost estimate in its follow-up proposal "includes an item for the analysis of the 'connections,'" a term that includes the gusset plates, the firm said.

Documents released to the Legislature show that HNTB's preliminary report sat for more than a year before MnDOT decided to formally award a contract to study the bridge.

When it did so in 2003, MnDOT chose URS, which only a short time before had hired Don Flemming, formerly the longtime state bridge engineer at MnDOT.

Flemming left MnDOT in December 2000, seven months after HNTB made its initial proposal. He told the law firm that he "wanted to retire at the top of my game." A month later Flemming was hired by URS.

[emphasis added] It should be noted that the Fleming sweetheart contract was awarded after the Tinklenberg watch, but the sweetheart, himself, left during the Tinklenberg watch. And as Strib reports, quoted above, the primary safety concern is that there was no safety concern, during the end of the Tinklenberg watch, "Documents released to the Legislature show that HNTB's preliminary report sat for more than a year before MnDOT decided to formally award a contract to study the bridge." No Tinklenberg committment to spend a penny on safety concern, on what HNTB noted, is shown in Strib's reporting. The report sat. Tinklenberg sat. Regularly collecting his paycheck to be doing his job.

Reporting continues:

Flemming said that before MnDOT issued a request for proposals that led to URS' hiring, he made calls to MnDOT officials and talked with them about the services that he and URS could provide.

A URS spokesman last week said the company would not comment on the HNTB study, Flemming or the company's own study of the bridge.

MnDOT spokeswoman Lucy Kender likewise declined to comment on the matter, including what role, if any, Flemming's hiring by URS played in that company being hired.

The change of leadership at MnDOT during the time is a complicating factor. Two chiefs to blame about possible favortism to one of the former tribe indians. But you don't usually blame the indians, you blaim the chiefs. Especially the one who sat when the information was fresh, and in transitioning might not have said a word. But, URS did get a contract. Somebody knew a situation existed. Somebody new came aborard the top of the MnDOT heap - and did something. Doing nothing but letting the report sit was the Tinklenberg legacy. Probably not missing a paycheck all that time.

After all, Strib did report the HNTB matter was in 2000. Tinklenber left MnDOT late in 2002, and within a month had his "consultancy" Tinklenberg Group up and running. One can guess at Tinklenberg planning and priorities near the time he left.

Will there be a coverup, excuse making? Strib reporting continues:

She [MnDOT spokespoerson Lucy Kender] said MnDOT was preparing a detailed response to the Gray Plant Mooty findings, which she said would be released soon.

Hard to gauge 'level of concern'

Bruce Mooty, a lead attorney in the law firm's investigation, said it is difficult to speculate whether state officials missed an opportunity by not hiring HNTB. He said he could not gauge HNTB's "level of concern" regarding the gusset plates.

As it studied the bridge over four years, URS settled on a complicated steel replating plan for the bridge's main members that was ultimately set aside by MnDOT. How much the company focused on gusset plates is unclear, and URS officials have generally declined comment since the collapse.

One URS memo, written in 2005, said simply: "Gusset plate buckling -- if this occurs, it is not catastrophic."

Ed Zhou, a URS official, told Gray Plant Mooty investigators that the statement was hypothetical and related to the company's study of a similar bridge in Cleveland.

Zhou told the law firm that URS did discuss how to evaluate the strength of the connections on the 35W bridge, but added that "we determined that it's not necessary for us to get into the level of details of reexamining the gusset plate if they were designed properly."

Here it is worth noting that "design" was not noted by NTSB as the problem. "Half the proper designed thickness" was what NTSB said as a clearly determinable forensic matter, after the collapse. To that, Elwyn Tinklenberg is reported as saying thickness was not the sole factor, "metallurgy," he said was a factor.

There's a clear record of that, crabgrassed about here, quoting what I will requote now, from Hometown Source, (an ECM Publishing online service, a non-Strib source).

by T.W. Budig
ECM capitol reporter

Former Ventura Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg questions whether the recent preliminary findings by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on the I-35W bridge collapse — a finding that suggested a design flaw likely brought down the bridge — has answered anything.

The NTSB’s asserts that the use of thinner connector plates in the bridge design — half-inch thick plates instead of inch thick — could have been a fatal design flaw.

But Tinklenberg explained that there’s also the issue of metallurgy.

Depending on how steel is tempered or otherwise fashioned, a half-inch steel plate can actually be stronger than an inch thick steel plate, Tinklenberg opined.

As I said in the earlier Crabgrass post, "Come on. They do not just spec a thickness. They specify a grade. If one-inch thick steel of a particular grade were specified; and 1/2 inch steel of that grade were used, well, the answer is --- what ---". The NTSB seems to have had it right,

A clear fact is that Elwyn Tinklenberg never was reported to have explained whether bridges ever are designed where thickness and quality grade of steels are not specified at the same time. He was reported only as saying "metallurgy." Without more detail, which Tinklenberg or spokesperson Wodele can easily supply, it is hard to judge whether pure, simple, dissembling excuse making is or is not at play. Strib continues:

Although the official investigation of the bridge collapse by the National Transportation Safety Board isn't expected to be completed until later this year, the NTSB has tentatively concluded that undersized gusset plates ordered in the original design of the bridge likely played a role.

Gray Plant Mooty records show that some MnDOT officials wanted to go ahead with hiring HNTB in late 2001. Notes from a December 2001 meeting at MnDOT, for example, show state bridge officials concluded that since replacing the bridge would not occur until at least 2016 "[we] decided to proceed with study HNTB/Dexter proposed."

MnDOT officials told the law firm that the delay between HNTB's late 2001 report and the decision to formally hire a consultant in early 2003 came because the agency could not hire the company without seeking competitive bids and had lingering questions about whether HNTB's plan would fix the bridge's weaknesses.

Dan Dorgan, who succeeded Flemming as state bridge engineer, acknowledged that "it appears that we made a choice not to push it that quickly." He said that MnDOT had competing priorities at the time, including building Minnesota's first light-rail line.

"They were very busy years for us," said Dorgan. "It was one of those things we intended to do, but it wasn't in our list of things."
Mike Kaszuba • 612-673-4388

[empahsis added] Wow, no. "... wasn't in our list of things." The Hiawatha line seemed to be atop that list. And in fairness to Elwyn Tinklenberg, Jesse Ventura was a big pushing factor for the light rail. He takes credit for it along with Tinklenberg. And as a pushing factor, we can all recall that Jesse could push hard. Should rumors of his contemplating a Senate run as an independent candidate prove true, unlike specualtion attributed to Norm Coleman that book promotion is a more major factor, then he would have to face the same questions about his hand-picked man, Elwyn Tinklenberg, being asleep at the bridge safety switch, because the light rail switch commanded a high degree of personal and fiscal attention.

And then that NTSB report not being expected to be completed "until later this year." Did someone with power and influence put the kibosh on any final conclusions surfacing before the November elections? The question is valid, along with the companion question, "If a hold was instructed in releasing final assessments, who would have been the one comanding that delay?" And, "If so, why, exactly?"


Bottom line: Instead of bridge safety (per Strib's reported proof), the Tinklenberg legacy priority was light rail spending. That clearly is a part of the record.

Money enough would have been there for fixing gussets but apparently no threat of derailing or delaying the light rail project - that dream - was anywhere near Elwyn Tinklenberg's front burner when he was tasked and trusted to protect the safety of Minnesota drivers on Minnesota's roads and bridges. If there is some other explanation than a high-profile politically helpful legacy planning intent, then it is up to Elwyn Tinklenberg to come forward, (something in many matters he has been reluctant to do), and give a full, cogent, and credible explanation omitting no details.

I feel there is a consistent pattern between lack of concern for the birdge safety situation, a failure to grasp the serious potentialities involved, and the comparable Elwyn Tinklenberg promoting and facilitating, for a substantial five figure total fee over time to Tinklenberg Group, the questionable use of taconite tailings as paving aggregate in Minnesota and elsewhere without being certain of its safety and with a taconite miner health study funded most recently and most recently reported by MPR as involving at least a three-year horizon to obtain reliable results from finalization of the study. I see two important instances where a man pays insufficnent attention, in my opinion, to questions of public risk and safety, while distracted by other goals and intentions. I wonder if there are implications about fitness for serving in Congress from that patterned behavior. I worry that there are.

-photo from MPR, online here, captioned, "This electron microscope photo shows a taconite fiber breaking up into smaller fibers in rat lung tissue. The state Health Department is conducting studies to see if taconite fibers can cause mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer which is usually associated with asbestos exposure. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Philip Cook, U.S. EPA)"

And, finally, make the bottom line your bottom line, not mine. The reporting can be read anyway YOU believe is fair and proper.

Go figure.

My big question --- why did James Oberstar so immediately jump on NTSB when their preliminary reporting talked about gussets? What was his state of mind, and why, in so doing? Had he anticipated "gussets" being a factor, and was thus ready to so immediately and forcefully speak? If so, what were the complete dynamics of the preparation steps and briefing he had? Had he formed his thinking alone? Had he had discussions? If so, with whom?

As a footnote, Strib deserves very great respect for wading through all the Gray Plant Mooty materials to report and summarize key facts. The report was published some time ago, available online, and I downloaded it with a full intent to sift through the evidence within it's multi-megabyte text and appendices [30 pounds of paper was reported].

Yet it was easy to put that task aside, for another day. Strib did the grunt work, their effort was a public service, and my using their work in extensive quoting is intended as a credit to their complete but tightly written analysis. Mike Kazuba, as the author, deserves some kind of public service award. It is not Woodward-Bernstein investigative journalism, it is combing through evidence and tightly but fairly summarizing what key evidence exists. Gray Plant Mooty produced the record - Mike Kazuba did a review that I had intended, but his work was of a quality I believe I would not have matched.

I tried to find the exact dates for the RFP for the contract URS eventually attained, and the date the award was made by MnDOT to URS. My understanding, which might be wrong, is as stated above - the RFP and contract were from after Tinklenberg left MnDOT, and the appearnace of directing things in a sweetheart manner was not his doing. The URS contract was put online by MnDOT, here, and p17, the signature page, shows it was signed Dec. 19, 2003, well after the Tinklenberg departure. The issuance date of the RFP is something that I have yet to pin down. With a Dec. 2003 contract date, the likely answer is the RFP was issued after Tinklenberg's departure from MnDOT, Oct. 2002.

Also, I was wrong, apparently design specifications, with missing records at the engineering firm a problem, were for 1/2 inch gussets rather than 1 inch gussets.

I say I was wrong based on Strib reporting about this in detail, here, Jan. 17, 2008, and in that same article reporting on the earliest NTSB statements along with Oberstar's jumping on that as premature, and contrary to his speculative contention that ongoing infrastructure funding neglect was the major determinant. It would be nice if Strib, in what likely is ongoing coverage, publishes online a definitive timeline, bridge related milestones along with changes in stewardship at MnDOT. Finally, there is an information-laden page MnDOT has posted, and I expect Strib's coverage will also catalog or highlight the several reports mentioned, by MnDOT here.

Finally, on this page, MnDOT links to the "University of Minnesota Study, March 2001 --- Fatigue Evaluation of the Deck Truss of Bridge 9340," which I posted about previously, here, here, and then here. I still am uncertain where that U.Minn. study during the Tinklenberg MnDOT tenure fits into things - was it a figleaf cover, or cause to say Elwyn Tinklenberg had less culpability than might otherwise appear to be the case. Finally the dog-and-pony show circumstances of the Tinklenberg reluctant-candidate-because-the-bridge-fell situation are mentioned, here.

I have added this UPDATE to tie down a few, not all, loose ends in the above post. Any reader comments or added information are welcome.