wednesday, may 30, 2007
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tuesday, may 29, 2007
spoken like a true socialist
Senator Hillary ("It takes a village") Clinton reveals her true colors.
Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined a broad economic vision Tuesday, saying it's time to replace an "on your own" society with one based on shared responsibility and prosperity.
How's this for sharing: I'll be responsible for my prosperity, you be responsible for yours...and so on.
The Democratic senator said what the Bush administration touts as an "ownership society" really is an "on your own" society that has widened the gap between rich and poor.
"I prefer a 'we're all in it together' society," she said. "I believe our government can once again work for all Americans. It can promote the great American tradition of opportunity for all and special privileges for none."
I'd prefer you shut up and go live in Cuba, where they're all in it together, like it or not.
And to think that Hillary likes to compare herself to Margaret Thatcher!
burt on dennis miller show tonight
Catch Burt Prelutsky on Dennis Miller's radio show tonight. You can listen over the 'net live or via download.
Burt is scheduled to come on around 8:30 pm, Pacific time.
The head of the Hadith Department in Al-AzharUniversity [in Egypt], Dr. Izzat Atiyya, recently issued a controversial fatwa dealing with breastfeeding of adults. The fatwa stated that a woman who is required to work in private with a man not of her immediate family - a situation that is forbidden by Islamic law - can resolve the problem by breastfeeding the man, which, according to shari'a, turns him into a member of her immediate family.
let's impeach bush!
The Anchoress has a must-read takedown of Joy Behar, one of The View's resident twits. In one long quote, Behar displays the rank ignorance combined with righteous indignation that characterizes so much of the left today.
After 140 days, however, congressional Democrats left town with no significant accomplishments, one long-delayed bill finally enacted into law, and lots to make fun of. There was no increase in morality, no magically bipartisan era, no sweeping enactment of a coherent agenda for change, akin to what Republicans promised in their Contract With America in 1994. Instead, the 110th Congress has been a combination of "now I'll get mine" and "now you'll get yours!"
It hasn't been pretty. And it isn't likely to get better. Only those who were paying very careful attention last fall saw this coming.
The seeds were planted in the strategy for winning last fall. Democrats Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel saw a road to getting back majorities in the Senate and House. Their strategy built on Republican negatives: public anger over scandals involving Mark Foley, Jack Abramoff, and Tom Delay, special interest earmarks, inflated spending, and a war that - judging from the daily drumbeat of bad news in mainstream media - was going badly without clear purpose or end-game.
Rather than push hard-core liberal themes that lost elections for a dozen years, Schumer and Emanuel followed a different path. Their plan was to find moderates or even conservatives to run as Democrats in potential swing districts, criticize the Bush Administration and Republicans, talk a lot about hope and civility and bipartisanship, and let the candidates say whatever their constituents wanted to hear. The strategy worked, giving Democrats majorities in both Houses of Congress.
Frankly, if you've got a Congress controlled by Democrats, isn't a do-nothing Congress the best you can hope for?
Though he said Memorial Day shouldn't be politicized, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama used a visit to a war monument Monday to repeat his call for better services for veterans.
fred on the web
Of course, Mr. Thompson is yet to announce a presidential run and launch an official campaign website. And he has used the web to this point. For example, he recently responded to Michael Moore via YouTube and has a radio blog / podcast on the ABC Radio Networks website. Neither of these efforts show in the top five Google results.
Without an official web presence in sight, those googling Mr. Thompson have to piecemeal what he states about his policy positions and agenda.
Interestingly enough, the rest of the field is very aware of Mr. Thompson and this vulnerability. Again, turn to Google and query "fred thompson". Take a peak at the "Sponsored Links" in the right-hand sidebar and you will likely see "Mitt Romney in 2008." The Romney campaign is utilizing Google's Pay-per-Click service, which allows them to bid on keywords of their choice, with the intent of winning (and paying for) Google traffic.
Buying competitor keywords is a common web strategy and one that other campaigns (and many businesses) are also employing (e.g., "John McCain for President" is a sponsored result for the search "mitt romney"). Yet it is one that, at a minimum, requires a definitive home on the web - something that Mr. Thompson still lacks. While it is still early in the presidential season, if Mr. Thompson does proceed on the campaign trail, he is going to have some catching-up to do with his web initiatives.
Google and other search engines, which act as the primary gatekeepers for information on the web, often must be convinced of the credibility and usefulness of newly launched websites. Even if his team launches an official site, it will take some time and effort to combat the present search results and gain a prominent position on the search engines (my advice would be to purchase and utilize the www.Fred08.com domain, which is now owned by the Draft Fred Thompson 2008 Committee and ranks second for "fred thompson" on Google).
On the other hand, people may not search Google for campaign information. Rather they follow links from blogs or links sent to them via email, aka viral marketing.
an alternative theory of unions
People who worry about the increasing gap between rich and poor generally look back on the mid twentieth century as a golden age. In those days we had a large number of high-paying union manufacturing jobs that boosted the median income. I wouldn't quite call the high-paying union job a myth, but I think people who dwell on it are reading too much into it.
Oddly enough, it was working with startups that made me realize where the high-paying union job came from. In a rapidly growing market, you don't worry too much about efficiency. It's more important to grow fast. If there's some mundane problem getting in your way, and there's a simple solution that's somewhat expensive, just take it and get on with more important things. EBay didn't win by paying less for servers than their competitors.
Difficult though it may be to imagine now, manufacturing was a growth industry in the mid twentieth century. This was an era when small firms making everything from cars to candy were getting consolidated into a new kind of corporation with national reach and huge economies of scale. You had to grow fast or die. Workers were for these companies what servers are for an Internet startup. A reliable supply was more important than low cost.
If you looked in the head of a 1950s auto executive, the attitude must have been: sure, give 'em whatever they ask for, so long as the new model isn't delayed.
In other words, those workers were not paid what their work was worth. Circumstances being what they were, companies would have been stupid to insist on paying them so little.
monday, may 28, 2007
laugh of the day
A photo. As one commenter said, "that is both awesome and disgusting."
Once we knew who and what to honor on Memorial Day: those who had given all their tomorrows, as was said of the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, for our todays. But in a world saturated with selfhood, where every death is by definition a death in vain, the notion of sacrifice today provokes puzzlement more often than admiration. We support the troops, of course, but we also believe that war, being hell, can easily touch them with an evil no cause for engagement can wash away. And in any case we are more comfortable supporting them as victims than as warriors.
Read it all.
Donate your unused airline miles to Operation Hero Miles.
a memory on memorial day
During the all-too-brief time that I was fortunate enough to spend embedded with the 1-4 Cavalry in Baghdad, I met a number of truly great men. One of these was Robert Dixon, a 27-year-old Private First Class from Minneapolis with just over twenty months in the army. Private Dixon, like so many of the other young men in the Quarter Cav, was on his first combat deployment of any kind, having departed from Fort Riley, Kansas in February of 2007.
The first few months of this deployment have had their share of successes for the newly formed unit. But the cost has been high: the Quarter Cav has also suffered some devastating losses. Within the span of a week in April three men were lost in separate incidents - one to a sniper, and two to individual Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
That second IED took a terrible toll on the second platoon of Quarter Cav's Alpha troop. Striking the Platoon Sergeant's vehicle, the blast not only killed one soldier, but it wounded two others so severely that they had to be medically evacuated from the area, and eventually from the country. Sergeant First Class Gannon Edgy, the Troop's senior scout, was the only man to walk away from the wreckage, with his physical health intact, but his crew decimated.
profile in incompetence
Investors Business Daily has begun a ten-part series on Jimmy Carter, who they dub "the worst president in US history." It's hard to argue, especially when you consider his record on:
Carter inherited a tough economy, but made it much worse. When he left office:
- Interest rate, 21%.
- Inflation, 13.5%.
- Unemployment, 7%.
- The so-called "Misery Index," which Carter used to great effect in his 1976 campaign to win election, 20.5%.
- in the name of "human rights" cut off support for our ally, the Shah of Iran, opening the door for Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini established the first modern Islamic regime, a role model for the Taliban and jihadists to follow. And when the U.S. Embassy was stormed that November and 52 Americans taken hostage for 444 days, America's lack of resolve was confirmed in the jihadist mind.
- broadcast American weakness to the world, opening the door the Soviets to invade Afghanistan
- sat back helplessly as the Soviet Union was using Cuban troops as a sort of communist foreign legion to plant the hammer and sickle around the world.
- Castro sent 50,000 troops to aid the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola and fight the pro-Western anti-communist forces of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA in its efforts to foist communism in the former Portuguese colony. At one point, Cuban troops were stationed in 20 sub-Saharan African nations.
Read it all.
sunday, may 27, 2007
bad guys winning the media war
Lorie Byrd writes:
An aspect of the war on terrorism that gets too little attention, yet is as important as any other, is the media war. Whether they realize it, members of the mainstream media are participants in the war on terrorism, and nowhere is that more evident than in Iraq.
Blogger Bill Roggio, who has embedded as a journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan, says the enemy’s documents reveal that much of their strategy revolves around manipulation of the media. An enemy unable to beat us on the battlefield is employing a strategy of attacks planned specifically for maximum media coverage and effect.
Roggio recently told the Christian Science Monitor that most mainstream media reporters “display a lack of knowledge of counterinsurgency and the role the media plays in an insurgency’s information campaign.” He says al Qaeda and insurgent groups frequently choose their targets to get specific media coverage they desire.
He cited the way a suicide attack in the Anbar province was reported as an example. “U.S. success in Anbar was immediately negated when al Qaeda conducted a suicide attack in Ramadi in early May, and The Associated Press ‘reported’ that the attack dealt ‘a blow to recent U.S. success in reclaiming the Sunni city from insurgents.’ Al Qaeda conducted the attack to generate such an opening paragraph.”
maybe pinch sulzberger should embed
JEFF EMANUEL explains how the embedding program is changing the minds of hostile journalists:
While I was at the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad on my recent trip to Iraq, a pair of Spanish journalists--a newspaper reporter and a photojournalist--walked in, fresh from their embed with the 1-4 Cavalry of the First Infantry Division (the unit with which I embedded only days later). They had spent two weeks amongst the troops there, living and going on missions with them, including house-to-house searches and seizures, and their impressions of these soldiers were extremely clear.
"Absolutely amazing," said David Beriain, the reporter (and the one who spoke English), said of the young Cavalry troops. "In Spain, it is embarrassing--our soldiers are ashamed to be in the army. These young men--and they seem so young!--are so proud of what they do, and do it so well, even though it is dangerous and they could very easily be killed." Mr. Beriain explained that the company he had been embedded with had lost three men in the span of six days while he was there--one to a sniper and two to improvised explosive devices, both of which had blown armored Humvees into the air and flipped them onto their roofs. Despite this, he said, and despite some of the things they might have said in the heat of the moment after seeing another comrade die, the soldiers' resolve and morale was unshaken in the long term, and they remained committed to carrying out their mission to the best of their ability for the duration of their tours in Iraq.
It was in the process of performing that mission, of coping with the loss of loved ones, and of just being themselves as American soldiers that these young men were able to win over the admiration and affection of more than one journalist who had arrived in their midst harboring a less-than-positive opinion of the Iraq war, and of those who were tasked with prosecuting it.
"I love those guys," Mr. Beriain said, looking wistfully out the window of the media cloister in the Green Zone that is the Combined Press Information Center. "From the first time you go kick a door with them, they accept you--you're one of them. I've even got a 'family photo' with them" to remember them by. "I really hated to leave."
ants volunteer to fill pot holes
Scientists from the University of Bristol observed that, when ants were foraging on rough terrain, some of them used their own bodies to plug potholes.
They even chose which of them was the best fit to lie across each hole.
The technique provided the rest of the group, which can number 200,000, with a faster route between prey and nest.
how to retire at age 41
If you were to take 20% of your annual income starting at age 20 and put it in a S&P 500 index fund, that index fund continues to grow at the long-term historical rate (12%), and you received a 4% raise each year, you could walk away from your job and live off the interest at age 41 matching your current salary, or quit at 43 and be able to give yourself a 4% “raise” each year from the interest, which is probably the better plan because it combats inflation. Raise the amount to 25% and you’re done at age 38 and able to live in perpetuity at age 40.
Obviously, some people are going to balk at this and state that it “can’t” be done. The truth is that it can be done if you have the willingness to live below your means and authentically behave as if 20% of your total salary doesn’t exist.
what i want to be when i grow up
by Burt Prelutsky
There are two jobs I often find myself daydreaming about. One of them is being a radio talk show host. The other is being president of the United States.
Between the two, there are far more downsides to being the Commander in Chief. In fact, the main upside to my being president is that I’m the only person I know with whom I agree on all the major issues.
On the negative side of the ledger, there’s the weather in Washington, D.C. Living, as I do, in Los Angeles, I’m accustomed to wearing tennis shorts the year round. On top of which, I can’t remember the last time I put on a necktie. I’m not even sure if I still own one.
Then there’s the matter of raising half a billion dollars in order to even have a chance of getting elected. I have a certain amount of chutzpah, but, even so, I’m not sure I’m cut out to ask perfect strangers to cough up $500,000,000 just so I can get a job.
Furthermore, one can’t get around the fact that, as president, I would have to spend an inordinate amount of time in the company of such long-winded, sanctimonious gasbags as Charles Schumer, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi. And let us not overlook those mind-numbing press conferences. Just getting out of bed in the morning and knowing you’re going to have to put up with Helen Thomas later that same day must be as depressing as waking up the day on which root canal or a colonoscopy is scheduled.
Those are some of the reasons I am confounded by President Bush’s pussyfooting around with the Democrats. When the likes of Harry Reid and John Murtha announce that we’ve lost in Iraq, why doesn’t Bush denounce them as Fifth Columnists? What’s he got to lose? He’s got less than two years to go, and he continues sucking up to people who have spent the past six years calling him every name in the book. Even a lame duck doesn’t have to be that lame. He’s behaving like a high school nerd who, after three years of nonstop wedgies, is still trying to make the cool kids like him.
The best thing about me as president is that every time a Democrat accused me or a fellow conservative of doing something for political reasons -- which, on the face of it, is just about the silliest thing one politician can say about another -- I would use my bully pulpit to ridicule them. I would, for instance, point out that Harry Reid is totally beholden to Nevada’s gambling interests and the billboard industry; that Robert Byrd was a proud member of the Ku Klux Klan; that William Jefferson gave new meaning to the term “cold cash;” that Ted Kennedy let a young woman drown; and that Dianne Feinstein who, like all the other lefties, is all for repealing the Second Amendment, was once caught, like some gangster’s moll, packing a rod in her purse.
The fact of the matter is that virtually everyone in our nation’s capitol has feet of clay, and there’s nothing I can think of that would be more fun than stepping on their little clay toes.
Some of you are probably shaking your head and going “tsk tsk.” My approach, I’m guessing, doesn’t strike you as being appropriately diplomatic and statesmanlike. And you’d be right. When I hear that President Bush has called Senator Kennedy the most effective legislator in Washington, it makes me gag. You can call it tactful, but I call it shameless pandering. What’s more, when he insists that Islam is a religion of peace, I want to slap him silly.
The truth is, my chances of becoming president are even worse than John McCain’s. Besides, all things considered, I’d really prefer to have my own talk show. The hang-up with that particular gig would be having to pronounce certain names in the news. I can barely handle my own name, but I’d really need to take a deep breath and a running start in order to get through a minefield consisting of such tongue-twisters as Seung-hui Cho, Pervez Musharraf and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
malaria, ddt and me
The 2007 World Health Assembly is wrapping up and people are commemorating the birthday of Silent Spring author Rachel Carson. Meanwhile, millions of Africans are commemorating still more deaths from a disease that the chemical she vilified could help control.
I just got out of the hospital, after another nasty case of malaria. I've had it dozens of times. I lost my son, two sisters and three nephews to it. Fifty out of 500 children in our local school for orphans died from malaria in 2005.
Virtually every Ugandan family has buried babies, children, mothers and fathers because of this disease, which kills 100,000 of us every year. Even today, 50 years after it was eradicated in the United States, malaria is the biggest killer of African children, sending 3,000 to their graves every day.
In between convulsions and fever, I thought about the progress we're making – and about those who would stop that progress. I ask myself, why do some people care more about minor, hypothetical risks to people or animals than about human life?
Last year, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reversed 30 years of bad policy and reauthorized DDT to help combat malaria in Africa, by spraying it on the walls of houses to keep mosquitoes out. The World Health Organization (WHO) also came out strongly in support of DDT.
Both reviewed decades of scientific studies and concluded that using DDT this way is perfectly safe for people and the environment. So did Uganda's Ministry of Health and National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). European Commission President Barroso said Europe supports the right of countries to use DDT, in accord with Stockholm Convention and WHO guidelines.
DDT has worked in South Africa and Swaziland. USAID is now using it in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Zambia. Uganda and other African countries are preparing to add DDT to indoor-spraying programs.
We don't see DDT as a "magic bullet" that can eradicate malaria by itself. We don't advocate outdoor spraying with it. But we strongly support spraying tiny amounts on houses – as part of comprehensive strategies that also include other insecticides, larvacides and better sanitation to control mosquito populations, Artemisninin-based combination drugs to treat patients, and bednets, education, better hospitals and sound management practices.
No other chemical, at any price, does what DDT does. It keeps mosquitoes from entering homes, irritates the few that do enter, so they don't bite, kills those that land, and reduces malaria rates by 75% – all with a single inexpensive spraying once or twice a year.
saturday, may 26, 2007
bringing home the bacon
How awful has the New York Times become? In a story about disputes between Europe and the US over greenhouse gas emissions, there is this:
The United States has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because of concerns about damage to the American economy. Bush administration officials have also balked because China and India are not part of it.
Alert readers know the Kyoto Treaty was a dead issue under Clinton. The US Senate voted unanimously against any treaty that excluded China and India. Bush was governor of Texas at the time.
The version of the story on the Times website excludes an ending that was published in the LA Daily News. The DN picked up the story off the NYT wire yesterday evening. The original version contained the italicized sentence:
Both Ms. Merkel and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain have, in private talks with President Bush, pushed for the United States to agree to the European proposal. Blair, whose approval ratings in Britain have suffered enormously because of his close association with Bush and the war in Iraq, in particular would like to be able to demonstrate that he was able to extract something from the United States for his trouble.
First, the sentence is an editorial opinion in a news story. Who is to say that liberating Iraq from a mass murderer is not an accomplishment in itself? (Read the two final paragraphs of the item just below this.)
It also assumes that Blair was led by Bush to do something he disagreed with. Hardly. As Rich Lowry wrote:
Long before President Bush arrived in the White House, Blair championed the idea that the West should intervene to stop human-rights abuses in other countries, putting morality above respect for the borders of sovereign countries. It wasn’t until after 9/11 that Bush embraced a version of this expansive vision, essentially making him a convert to the Blair view rather than the other way around.
In the debate regarding the Iraq war, Blair merely applied his principles of liberal interventionism that had led him to support a war against another aggressive, human-rights-abusing dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, in the Balkans. In an April 1999 speech, Blair linked Milosevic and Saddam Hussein as “dangerous and ruthless men” who had “brought calamity on their own peoples.” Stopping one had been right, and so was stopping the other.
how funny is iraq?
“Don’t abandon us,” pleads Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister of Iraq, in Friday's Washington Post. "There is no denying the difficulties Iraq faces," he writes, "and no amount of good news can obscure the demons of terrorism and sectarianism that have risen in my country. But there is too much at stake to risk failure, and everything to gain by helping us protect our hard-won democratic achievements and emerge as a stable, self-sustaining country."
I'll quote one more passage, and then I have a question for you. "Iraqis are standing up every day," writes Zebari, "and we persevere because there is no other option. We will not surrender our country to terrorists. They have failed to cripple the elected government, and they have failed to intimidate us into submission. Iraqis reject their vision of a future whose hallmarks are bloodshed and hatred."
My question is, what's your first reaction to Zebari's words? Do you find them heartening? Do you find them unpersuasive? Do they depress you, or perhaps anger you? Whatever your reaction, I'll bet you didn't find Zebari's plea to be amusing. Yet that was just the reaction of one Arab-American academic. He dismissed it with a one-liner, mocking it by writing, "This is rather funny," and mocking Zebari by calling him an "Iraqi puppet."
That academic is named Asad AbuKhalil, and he typifies much that is repulsive about the pan-Arabist poseur. AbuKhalil has made what little reputation he has by sneering both at the West and at Middle Easterners who think that Western liberalism has any merit.
For those who didn't read Zebari's piece, here's the opening:
Last weekend a traffic jam several miles long snaked out of the Mansour district in western Baghdad. The delay stemmed not from a car bomb closing the road but from a queue to enter the city's central amusement park. The line became so long some families left their cars and walked to enjoy picnics, fairground rides and soccer, the Iraqi national obsession.
Across the city, restaurants are slowly filling and shops are reopening. The streets are busy. Iraqis are not cowering indoors. The appalling death tolls from suicide attacks are often high because of crowding at markets. These days you are as likely to hear complaints about traffic congestion as about the security situation. Across Baghdad there is a cacophony of sirens from ambulances, firefighters and police providing public services. You cannot even escape the curse of traffic wardens ticketing illegally parked cars.
terrorists have rights, too
...says the Democrat Senate.
The bill is aimed primarily at increasing legal protections for the hundreds of people captured by the United States and held for years on suspicion of terror ties without a trial. Only those selected for prosecution — typically the most high-profile suspected terrorists — are guaranteed legal counsel and other rights when they go to court.
The legislation has raised red flags at the White House as potential veto bait and among congressional Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record), who said he was concerned that aspects of the bill may go too fa
symbolism and immigration
by J.C Phillips
When confronted with complex questions, politicians have a tendency to hide behind symbolism. Posturing in the raiment of righteousness makes a certain amount of political sense in the short run. It requires little skill and less courage. The public is assured of one’s virtue and there are seldom any consequences that follow bad policy made in earnestness. It is in a sense playing with the house’s money. It is however a short term strategy, which is why symbolism is not a hallmark of statesmen.
Republicans might keep this in mind as they consider the current immigration bill sitting before the senate.
There is a mindset among some Republicans that the symbolism of passing comprehensive immigration reform is more important than the substance of that reform. The presumption is that failure to pass this legislation will turn Latino voters away from the Republican Party just as Black voters have never forgiven Republicans for their opposition to civil rights legislation.
Of course, it was the Democratic Party that opposed civil rights legislation and Republicans that broke the filibuster. Robert Byrd (D-W-VA.) was particularly adept at the filibuster and is currently known as the conscience of the Democratic Party, which suggests that the political memory of a community is not as long as Republican symbolists might imagine nor is the loyalty of any community built upon one issue.
Democrats, of course, are no better. They too are convinced that the road to political power runs through Tijuana, which might explain why the Democratic leadership made every attempt to speed this bill through the process with as few specifics as possible and with even less debate. Details tend to muddy symbolism.
If this bill fails, Republicans will be blamed. However, it is also more than likely that if this bill is passed, Democrats will receive all the credit. And Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the sponsors of the bill, will have long since left the table when the tab must be paid. It therefore behooves Republicans to remain true to conservative principles and “promote the general welfare” of all Americans as opposed to the specific welfare of a burgeoning politically powerful constituency.
Bipartisan supporters of this reform bill assure us this current incarnation will do for America what previous reform did not do. Our borders will be secured, businesses will be penalized for hiring illegal workers, English will be required to ensure assimilation and there are all sorts of triggers and rules to guarantee compliance.
We have heard it all before and familiarity with government promises breeds skepticism. It also breeds cynicism largely because with symbolism, words tend to lose their meaning.
Illegal immigration, for instance, becomes indistinguishable from immigration. Images of the huddled masses are invoked along with references to America’s noble immigrant history. Suddenly opposition to hordes of illegal’s streaming across our borders makes one a racist.
“Amnesty” is not amnesty. The day after this bill is signed into law, 12 million illegal immigrants will be granted temporary legal status that is renewable indefinitely. If the end result is the same, does it matter if in the strictest sense of the word this is not amnesty in the way bureaucrats define amnesty?
There is little reason to believe that a government that has heretofore been lackluster in enforcement of immigration laws will suddenly find religion with a thousand pages of new laws. Also unclear is why people who have shown a propensity to eschew rules will suddenly follow new rules that require cash payments and standing in line to fill out forms.
But there is a more important question: if those Republicans currently supporting the bill are correct and the true challenge is winning the political loyalty of the Latino community, why on earth would any constituency ally themselves with a party that values political expediency over its core principles. Alas, it is a question they will never have to answer. Another benefit of working in the shadows of symbolism.
friday, may 25, 2007
mother's little helper
A nitwit Congressman from Michigan, one Bart Stupak, reintroduced legislation to fight "gas price gouging" and got it passed. As he noted on his web site in 2005:
The actions were based on Stupak’s F.R.E.E. Act, Federal Response to Energy Emergencies Act
How revealing to use FREE as your acronym. We all want free gas, right? And don't we, as loyal Americans, deserve it? Durn tootin', we do. We're mad as hell and...
The legislation would penalize individuals or companies for taking "unfair advantage" or charging "unconscionably excessive" prices for gasoline and other fuels.
Opponents said the language was too vague and that the Federal Trade Commission, which would enforce the law, has not clearly defined price gouging.
"I don't know what `unconscionably excessive' means," said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas.
The bill's chief sponsor, Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, said he had no doubt the FTC would be able to determine price gouging once the agency had a law to uphold.
Apparently price gouging is like pornography: you know it when you see it.
How about tax gouging? When the federal income tax was first instituted, someone insisted it be capped at 10 percent. He was laughed off as absurd; after all, who could imagine the federal government seizing a greater percentage than what people tithed?
And who could imagine a tax system that lets half of its citizens pay effectively nothing?
The Democrats ain't done with their energy fixes. When the Senate gets the bill it plans more genius.
Senate Democrats said they would take up energy legislation — including price gouging — next month after they finish an immigration bill.
That energy measure would require that vehicles get better mileage and that 35 billion gallons of ethanol serve as a substitute for gasoline by 2022 — a sevenfold increase over today's levels.
"Our legislation will dramatically increase American-made and grown renewable fuels production," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Oh yeah, ethanol. Food for fuel. Jack up food prices on the poor.
Why not drill in ANWAR?
To understand how gas prices work, read this article from How Stuff Works. Email the link to Bart Stupak while you're at it.
I have a friend from South Africa who nows lives nearby. He introduced me to a webcam that remains focused on a watering hole called Nkorho Stream. You can drop in at any time and see what wildlife happens to be happening by. At night, they switch to an infrared camera.
To get there, visit Africam and choose the Nkorho Stream. You'll get a short commercial, but after that it's just nature.
So, anyway, my buddy works at home and likes to leave the webcam site open on his browser for much of the day. With the great climate here in So Cal, he leaves his sliding glass door open onto his back yard.
One day he was outside and heard the distinct call of a Loerie, aka the Go-Away Bird.
He assumed that call was coming from his office, but, no, he'd shut his browser down. Loeries are not supposed to live in So Cal. Intrigued, he got his binoculars and began hunting the source of the Loerie call.
He quickly found a mockingbird sitting in his tree, rattling off the Loerie routine. Apparently, he'd been tuning in the webcam feed himself and picked up some new tunes off the internet.
thursday, may 24, 2007
earth as art
NASA images of the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Click for full size.
teen outsmarts climate experts
Last week, NewsBusters readers were introduced to Portland, Maine’s fabulous fifteen-year-old, Kristen Byrnes, whose website “Ponder the Maunder” marvelously takes on anthropogenic global warming myths including those being advanced by soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore.
As will be revealed post haste, this newest – and likely youngest – member of the growing list of folks skeptical about man’s role in climate change actually walks the walk better than she talks the talk.
Yet, despite her youth and precocious scientific acumen, it seems quite unlikely that she’ll be sitting down with Matt Lauer or Diane Sawyer any time soon to discuss her research concerning one of the most popular subjects on the media’s front-burner. Why?
facts? they don't need no stinkin' facts!
"Fact-checking in publishing." It's such a quaint notion. It thrives on the belief that if publishers checked the facts, the truth would out. But on many levels, most publishers -- especially book publishers -- don't want to check the facts and, truth be told, seldom do. Book publishers are not interested in truth, they are interested in stories; stories that sell.
Having worked for more than 30 years in book and magazine publishing, I had many chances to view the "fact-checking" element at work in both fields and, although it was rigorous in magazines, it was close to non-existent in books. Even the much-vaunted "fact checking at the New Yorker" is pretty much a myth at this point; the kind of myth that lets the current phase of The New Yorker slide on by as a "dependable" source. But it really is about 50% BS now. And for book publishers it always was 95% BS.
Today's New York Sun published an article, Carter Publisher May Be Accused Of Damaging CBS's Reputation, which notes:
"A CBS subsidiary, Simon & Schuster, will be accused of damaging the reputation of its parent company by publishing Mr. Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Carol Greenwald, the treasurer of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, a CBS shareholder, plans to criticize the publisher at the meeting..... According to a statement shown to The New York Sun, Ms. Greenwald, who calls Mr. Carter's book "error-filled," plans to ask that a fact-checking system be set up to prevent material errors in books Simon & Schuster publishes and that a code of ethics be adopted for its publishing division."
I wish Ms. Greenwald well in her quest, but would advise her to pack a lunch, dress warmly, and take plenty of water on her quest because she'll be gone for a long, long time.
That's not because she's wrong. It is because she's right.
The Carter book is chock-a-block full of lies and distortions and weasel phrases that are the hallmark of the sad and irritating career of the worst President the United States has had and the worst it is likely to have. But lies are as much a part of Carter's post-Whitehouse career as the phrase "I'll never lie to you" was part of his initial appeal. That numerous associates of the risible "Carter Center" have resigned because this time the lies were too thick to be swallowed smoothly in exchange for a check is well documented.
But to think that Simon & Schuster are going to spend one penny on a "fact-checking" system or a "code of ethics" is simply foolish. Book publishers don't do that and not because, as was stated in the same article:
"It's not realistic," the editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, Sara Nelson, said. The call for publishers to have "full-on fact checking" does not make economic sense, she said, as they publish a lot of books.
Publishers won't do it because they not only don't have to (it would be costly, but not nearly as much as the millions they lavish on their pet authors), but because fact-checking our many fanciful and forthrightly lying authors would not be in the publishers' interests. Publishers know when authors are lying but, as long as the lies map to the publishing industry's internal view of itself, that's just fine with them. It's not about being "true," but being "true to your school."
carrying a big stick
Nine U.S. military ships entered the Gulf on Wednesday for a rare daylight assembly off Iran’s coast in what naval officials said was the largest such move since the 2003 Iraq war.
U.S. Navy officials said Iran had not been notified of plans to sail the vessels, which include two aircraft carriers, through the Straits of Hormuz, a narrow channel in international waters off Iran’s coast and a major artery for global oil shipments.
why, what is that
scent stench you're wearing?
The makers of the famously pungent Stilton blue cheese have launched their own perfume.
It claims to "recreate the earthy and fruity aroma" of the cheese "in an eminently wearable perfume".
The perfume, blended by a Manchester-based aromatics company, features a "symphony of natural base notes including yarrow, angelica seed, clary sage and valerian".
bastard of children of men
Mark Steyn explains why the film version of Children of Men missed the mark:
There are zillions of bad movies, but Alfonso Cuarón's film Children Of Men is bad in an almost awe-inspiring way. They should teach it in film school as the acme of adaptation. Mr. Cuarón's previous films (including A Little Princess and one of the groovier Harry Potters) were perfectly fine, and certainly different directors will approach the same property in entirely different ways. But, with Children Of Men, he's managed to spend a ton of time and money, hire a fine cast, lavish inordinate care and attention to detail on the film's design and cinematography -- and yet completely miss the point of the book. More revealingly, the way in which he misses the point portends a difficult future for Hollywood in the years ahead.
So the author would not regard the reflexive expletives as an improvement. But more importantly, she might wonder about their accuracy. In the book, the infertility of man has been followed by a declining interest in penetrative intercourse. The state frantically sponsors government porn stores promoting ever more recherché forms of erotic activity in an effort to maintain sexual desire just in case man's seed should recover its potency. It's not working: "Women complain increasingly of what they describe as painful orgasms: the spasm achieved but not the pleasure. Pages are devoted to this common phenomenon in the women's magazines." In such a world, would "fuck" survive as an epithet? As for "Jesus Christ!", that too would be less likely to pass their lips -- because in a world with no future, whether one regards global infertility as evidence of God's anger or that He is indeed dead or (for a third group) that this is a kind of slo-mo Rapture, very few are as careless about faith as we turn-of-the-century profaners are.
wednesday, may 23, 2007
sssh. don't tell a soul.
The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.
Every aspect of the current immigration bill, and of the arguments made for it, has “fraud” written all over it.
The first, and perhaps biggest, fraud is the argument that illegal aliens are “doing jobs Americans won’t do.” There are no such jobs.
Even in the sector of the economy in which illegal immigrants have the highest representation — agriculture — they are just 24 percent of the workers. Where did the other 76 percent come from, if these are jobs that Americans won’t do?
The argument that illegal agricultural workers are “making a contribution to the economy” is likewise misleading.
For well over half a century, this country has had chronic agricultural surpluses which have cost the taxpayers billions of dollars a year to buy, store, and try to get rid of on the world market at money-losing prices.
If there were fewer agricultural workers and smaller agricultural surpluses, the taxpayers would save money.
What about illegal immigrants working outside of agriculture? They are a great bargain for their employers, because they are usually hard-working people who accept low pay and don’t cause any trouble on the job.
But they are no bargain for the taxpayers who cover their medical bills, the education of their children, and the costs of imprisoning those who commit a disproportionate share of crime.
Analogies with immigrants who came to this country in the 19th century and early 20th century are hollow, and those who make such analogies must know how different the situation is today.
People who crossed an ocean to get here, many generations ago, usually came here to become Americans. There were organized efforts within their communities, as well as in the larger society around them, to help them assimilate.
For five years we have been lectured that George Bush ruined the trans-Atlantic relationship. But now we see pro-American governments in both France and Germany, and a radical change in attitudes from Denmark to Holland to Italy. The truth is that the Europeans neither hated nor loved Bill Clinton, whom they on occasion privately seethed at for not exercising leadership, or George Bush who swaggered and talked tough to them during the lead-up to Iraq and seemed to them to be rudely unilateral. Instead, after getting their teen-age anger out, they are starting to see that the United States did not fabricate Islamic radicalism nor order them to let in and then not assimilate millions of now angry Muslims.
For all the cheap shots, the European public is worried about importing half their natural gas from Vladimir Putin, who now bullies Eastern Europeans, former Soviet republics, and dissidents well beyond his borders on the premise that his oil wealth and nukes ensure Europe can’t and won’t do anything.
Europeans know they won’t or can’t stop the Iranians from getting a nuke, but hope someone—that is, the United States—will. And from the Spanish flight from Iraq after the Madrid bombing, the spectacle of the British naval personnel in Iranian hands, and the continental paralysis after the Danish cartoons and other serial Islamic affronts to free expression, Europe knows that radical Islam is both dangerous and has little respect for either European moral authority or force of arms.
This is one of those big think-piece cover stories editors send out in hopes that we'll all start buzzing about it:
Is the American era over?
For a generation raised to wave the banner of triumphant Western democracies, and nursed on the mother's milk of American exceptionalism, the very idea seems an affront. Predominance is regarded as an American birthright. Less than a decade ago, the United States was held out as the rarest of historical anomalies, a lone superpower leading the world. Today, such talk of boundless promise already seems part of a receding past.
That's an arresting first sentence, but pretty much everything that follows is the same-old same-old. James Kitson quotes various eminences - Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Francis Fukuyama... Do you sense a pattern here? Apparently, the end of the American era dates to the 2002 State of the Union Address.
But, if the jig is really up, you could just as easily make the case that it dates back to what Mr Kitson considers that golden age "less than a decade ago" - ie, America's holiday from history, when the wise old foreign-policy stability fetishists had nary a word to say about resurgent Islam, freelance nuclearization, and the demographic decline of the west which makes traditional great-power clubs like the G7 about as relevant to the future as dinner theatre in Florida. The Great Men cited by Kitson were in large part responsible for the illusions of the Nineties - for the complacency (Scowcroft), inevitablist theories of history (Fukuyama) and failure to understand long-term threats (Brzezinski). It may be that the Bush Doctrine proves the wrong answer to those threats, or that we have roused ourselves too late or too tentatively. But the idea that America could have lived in the Brzezcroftyama Golden Moment for eternity is the kind of intellectual laziness partly responsible for our present woes.
If America is over, this essay is not the autopsy.
tuesday, may 22, 2007
sympathy from the infidel
In an unprecedented effort to rally popular support, al Qaeda is apparently trying to refashion its image from an ultra-conservative, radical Islamist group with clear and precise goals — the ultimate being to implement sharia law around the globe — to what the liberal West has long had a soft spot for: a romanticized revolutionary movement of the “Ché” variety, fighting to overthrow oppression and exploitation (which, as the usual story goes, are products of U.S. greed and aggression).
Speaking to the many “under-privileged” of the world in his most recent interview, al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri declares: “That’s why I want blacks in America, people of color, American Indians, Hispanics, and all the weak and oppressed in North and South America, in Africa and Asia, and all over the world, to know that when we wage jihad in Allah’s path, we aren’t waging jihad to lift oppression from Muslims only; we are waging jihad to lift oppression from all mankind, because Allah has ordered us never to accept oppression, whatever it may be…This is why I want every oppressed one on the face of the earth to know that our victory over America and the Crusading West — with Allah’s permission — is a victory for them, because they shall be freed from the most powerful tyrannical force in the history of mankind.”
American blacks, however, are Zawahiri’s primary targets. For a traditional Arab Sunni who despises everything borne of the West, Zawahiri spends an inordinate amount of time praising and quoting Malcolm X — who, though a convert to Islam, was still very much a by-product of the U.S. Zawahiri’s interview even portrays video-clips of the political activist preaching about freedom and fighting: “Anytime you beg another man to set you free, you will never be free.
Freedom is something you have to do for yourself. The price of freedom is death.” Also included is a lengthy excerpt where X delineates the differences between “house-negroes” (an epithet Zawahiri later applies to Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice) and “field-negroes” (“real men” who fight and kill to avenge their honor). Based on this unexpected “African-American” interlude, it is clear whom Zawahiri has in mind for an audience: probably characters like D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad, who went on a shooting spree randomly murdering Americans shortly after 9/11.
Anklebiting Pundits on Gore's new book and media tour:
Basically we can sum this up in a few words: “If only those brain-dead TV-addicted polluters had elected me….”. Dare I say his rock-star…no, god-like status among the nutroots and Hollywood has gone to his head, to the point where sanity is an afterthought. He really does believe he has all the answers for everything. Arrogance, thy name is Gore.
Let’s start with his contentions about TV and the effects he alleges it has on the American electorate. If TV really is having this mind-numbing addictive effect that has allegedly tricked people into accepting the very-liberal contention that a tie between Iraq and 9/11 was made, then how does this explain why TV viewership is way WAY down lately? An addict typically doesn’t give up their addiction without an intervention of some sort to break the addiction, so I fail to see how Gore’s assertion holds any water here, or that it even does in the first place. We’re not as mind-numbed and addicted as he asserts apparently. And since internet useage is the highest it’s ever been, I think we’re taking care of his proposed solution on our own, without his or the Government’s “help”.
Then we have his assertion that he could’ve stopped 9/11 if he was President. He basically heaps the entire responsibility for 9/11 on the Bush Administration, somehow looping everything that the administration has done since 9/11 to prevent terrorist attacks into this assertion that those actions somehow distracted the Administration from stopping 9/11(the ‘unchecked power’ accusation). He then claims that analysis of the information available, not just more of it, would’ve led to the capture of the terrorists(and of course he states that’s exactly what a Gore administration would’ve done right to the letter).
Let’s be clear on something: the hijackers were entering the country as early as January of 2000, under the Clinton/Gore watch. And it was not lack of analysis nor lack of availability of data that allowed them to be here and carry out 9/11. Rather, it was a lack of communication between the CIA and FBI in the year plus leading up to the attacks. Part or possibly all of the reason for this lack of communication: the Gorelick wall, erected in 1995 under the Clinton/Gore watch. Note that none of this was brought up during yesterday’s interview, which goes to show why it’s kind of ridiculous to have a George Stephanopolous-hosted show interview anyone from the Clinton Administration. You’re more likely to get a cry, a hug, and someone saying ”That mean ol’ George Bush” in the interview than an actual challenge to any of Gore’s assertions.
edwards passes the buck on his haircut
A staffer picked the $400 barber, says the Breck Girl in this video, "I wasn't involved."
Why, shucks, where would anyone get the idea that John Edwards is fussy about his locks?
monday, may 21, 2007
jimmuh cracks corn
Best of the Web notes Jimmy Carter's latest lob at President Bush, calling him the "worst in history."
President Bush, naturally, didn't deign to answer Jimmy Carter's latest cavils, but a spokesman, Tony Fratto, did say this: "I think it's sad that President Carter's reckless personal criticism is out there. I think it's unfortunate. And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."
This prompted the following hilarious observation from Reuters:
Carter has been an outspoken critic of Bush, but the White House has largely refrained from attacking him in return. Sunday's sharp response marks a departure from the deference that sitting presidents traditionally have shown their predecessors.
In the fun-house world of Reuterville, Osama bin Laden is a "freedom fighter," and the tradition of ex-presidents to defer to the current president is flipped on its head.
The Carter problem was anticipated by Alexander Hamilton, who wrote in Federalist No. 72:
Would it promote the peace of the community, or the stability of the government to have half a dozen men who had had credit enough to be raised to the seat of the supreme magistracy, wandering among the people like discontented ghosts, and sighing for a place which they were destined never more to possess?
Hamilton was actually arguing against term limits for the president--the idea being that bitter exes, barred by law from seeking the office again, would, well, go around acting like Jimmy Carter.
But what's Carter's excuse? He served only one term, so there is no constitutional bar to his being elected again. Why doesn't Carter put his money where his mouth is and seek the Democratic presidential nomination? After all, he's only a few years older than Mike Gravel, and he may be the only guy who can beat Hillary Clinton. He's been against the Iraq war since at least 1991, when Barack Obama was in diapers and Al Gore was a neocon war monger.
As Hamilton noted, "There is no nation which has not, at one period or another, experienced an absolute necessity of the services of particular men in particular situations; perhaps it would not be too strong to say, to the preservation of its political existence." Jimmy Carter, your country needs you!
Should Jimmy Carter run for President in 2008? So far, the score is 74% yes / 26% no.
Would you vote for Jimmy Carter if he ran for President in 2008? So far, the score is 3% yes / 97% no.
Run, Jimmuh, run!
perfect job for slackers
a one-story skyscraper?
devil in the details
Rachel Carson launched the modern environmental movement and inadvertently killed millions of human beings.
Her apocalyptic 1962 novel Silent Spring imagined a world devastated by pesticides and other chemicals. Carson, who had worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service, had a hand in writing a news release with this:
"DDT may have undesirable and even dangerous effects unless its use is properly controlled," said a news release, which Carson helped write.
The hysteria that followed led to the banning of DDT, contrary to it own scientific studies, by the EPA.
By then, DDT had done its magic in erradicating malaria from the United States. (The Centers for Disease Control is located in Atlanta because that was once the heart of America's malaria zone.)
For the Third World, it meant strings attached to US aid that forbade the use of DDT, even when "properly controlled." That meant death.
In the years since her death, Carson's conclusions about DDT have remained controversial. This year, during a hearing meant to honor Carson in Annapolis, State Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Baltimore County) said her book had helped scare people away from a pesticide that could have saved numerous human lives.
"In the end, you know, people are dying of malaria that don't need to die" because of bans on DDT, Harris, a doctor, said in an interview this week.
Junk Science keeps a running clock of malarial deaths here.
sympathy for another liberal "devil"
I've long thought that Ashcroft was a misunderstood figure. One interesting example is the drubbing Ashcroft received for the following statement from December 2001, responding to critics of the Patriot Act:
[T]o those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve[.]
The media was completely clueless about what Ashcroft meant by this, and most people simply assumed that he meant that making civil libertarian objections to Bush Administration practices helped terrorists. I always thought Ashcroft meant something dramatically different. When Ashcroft made those remarks, in December 2001, he knew something that most people didn't: many criticisms of the Patriot Act had been surprisingly dishonest. It was embarrassingly common for critics of the legislation to make bogus claims about what the Patriot Act did. (Why that happened is a really interesting question; I haven't seen anything like it before or since.)
Ashcroft must have been deeply annoyed by this, because it was creating a false impression both within the U.S. and abroad that the government had responded to 9/11 by imposing a police state. So Ashcroft criticized those who were trying to scare people with bogus claims of lost rights -- that is, illusions of lost liberty, or, to coin a phrase, "phantoms of lost liberty." But the press and the public didn't understand what Ashcroft meant, so his language was completely misunderstood.
It goes without saying that Ashcroft was no card-carrying member of the ACLU. But I think his role was more complicated than many have assumed, and I'm glad to see that a more nuanced and accurate picture is surfacing.
d'oh! the simpsons are spent
Fox's The Simpsons notched its 400th episode last night, which is quite an accomplishment. Often brilliant, the show's writing has suffered for at least the past three years. Perhaps one out of four episodes is consistently funny.
The 400th was not one of them. In fact, it was awful. If the producers could not come up with a funny show to celebrate such a milestone, one must assume either they don't care or just can't get it up anymore.
The show did manage to recycle some liberal nonsense.
Kent Brockman, the show's pompous TV anchor, accidently blurts out a profanity and fears for his job until he realizes no one was watching. That is, except for religious Ned Flanders, shown combing the tube for something to get censorious about. Ned's uproar gets Brockman fired.
Again, we're being told that religious blue noses are restricting free speech. If so, who'd they get fired?
On the other hand:
- Don Imus was fired for his "hos" joke
- Radio host Dave Lenihan was fired for a slip of the tongue, saying "coon" instead of "coup" despite catching himself immediately and apologizing.
- A white staffer of Washington DC's mayor was fired for using "niggardly" in a meeting. Although the word means miserly, he was forced out for being, yep, insensitive.
- Larry Summers was forced out as president of Harvard for suggesting that innate differences might explain why there are more high level male scientists than female. Summers didn't even say he believed it; he was just raising it as a point of debate.
- The Senate Democrat caucus wrote a letter to Disney-owned ABC last year threatening trouble if ABC did not make changes to a 9/11 docudrama.
The latter is true censorship because it was government imposing limits on speech.
burt on tv today
Burt will be on Court TV at noon discussing Phil Spector, who is on trial for murder. Burt went to the same junior-high and high school as Spector.
From Burt, September 2004:
As a rule, I could be described as a totally guiltless person. It isn't simply that I make every attempt to lead a blameless life, but, on those terribly rare occasions when I do slip the tiniest bit, I tend to find truly excellent reasons why others are actually at fault. Or, as I once told my son when he attempted to use me--I being his alleged role model in this instance, although in no others--as his reason for having done something he shouldn't have: "Your grandmother was a gold medal winner when it came to instilling guilt, but even she met her match when it came to me. So, don't you even think about it."
However, no matter how much I try to twist and turn, I fear that my days as the teflon man have come crashing to a halt. You see, I hold myself partially to blame for Phil Spector's current problems. The question I can not avoid asking myself is whether he would he now be indicted for murder were it not for me and my good intentions.
As a classmate of Phil's, I was in attendance the first time he performed in public. The occasion was a school assembly at L.A. 's Fairfax High, back in the mid 50s. Although nearly half a century has passed, I remember it as if it had happened last week. But that's how it is with major disasters. I'm sure that the people who witnessed the crash of the
Hindenburg will never forget it, either. And, as disasters go, the Hindenburg couldn't hold a candle to Phil's voice.
Five hundred of us sat stunned as he strummed his guitar and sang. At least we assumed it was singing. The idea that anyone with that nasally, Bronxish wheeze would dare to vocalize outside the confines of his shower redefined chutzpah for us. The end of his performance was greeted with absolute silence. After a few moments, moved solely by compassion for a fellow human being, my best friend and I started to applaud. Soon, the other students joined in. To our collective horror, this so buoyed Phil's spirits that he did an encore!
A short time after graduating from Fairfax, Phil, who had seemed destined to be our class's Least Likely to Succeed, began making his mark on the music world, albeit not as a vocalist. When we congregated at the Ambassador Hotel for our 10 th reunion, Phil was the one who showed up in a limo that he actually owned, along with three bodyguards whose sole function was to ensure that none of us got within ten yards of the man.
Is it any wonder that I'm so guilt-ridden? If only I hadn't encouraged Phil that fateful day, I can't help wondering if he might not have become a happy, well-adjusted, accountant, and been spared the drugs, the booze and now the murder.
At the very least, we'd have been spared that really awful encore!
sunday, may 20, 2007
iowahawk channels lileks
Some background: the Minneapolis Star-Tribune took away James Lileks' column and assigned him to write straight news. Y'know, fires, city council meetings and such.
St. Paul Council Mulls Supplemental Sewer Levy
Star Tribune Metro News
“Sewers are icky.”
“Why’s that?” I whispered, looking up from my PowerBook.
“Because they’re filled with poo.”
Gnat squirmed uncomfortably on the hard maple bench in front of me and offered a stinkface. I couldn’t tell whether the face was from the thought of icky poo, or a residual miffiness that I had cancelled our regular weekly trip to Chuck E. Cheese for an evening of sparkling sewer debate at the St. Paul City Hall. Can’t say as I blame her; I’ve never made a secret of my loathing for that particular rodent-themed dining establishment, but I have to admit that even the aging ‘90s-era animatronicons at Chuck’s floor show are marginally more lifelike than St. Paul’s Public Works Committee.
I shushed Gnat gently, and she returned to her Dora the Explorer coloring book we bought on the Thursday trip to Target. The child wields a deft Crayola, I have to say, even though the latest 64-color palette leaves a lot to be desired. Whatever happened to burnt umber? I thought about the bold yet muted earthtones of Binney & Smith’s 1966 edition, and how they were dumped unceremoniously for the psychedelic Pop Art hues of Peter Max following the crayon industry’s Summer of Love. Such is progress.
“Why do sewers cost money?”
“Because someone has to build and maintain them,” I explained.
those crazy kids
...are now "flipping" backpacks.
When he returned, he found that his backpack was not where he had left it. It only took Dizio a few seconds to spot it in the far right-hand corner of the room, but the damage was already done.
His backpack had been flipped. "Backpack-flippings," incidents in which students unzip a backpack, turn it inside out, and then re-stuff it with books, have become an everyday occurrence at Charter.
why god made criminals dumb
What a cashier first thought of as a practical joke turned into no laughing matter for a Ranson man who was arrested Wednesday after using women’s underwear and a lighter shaped like a small gun in an attempt to rob a convenience store.
Steven Clay Stephenson, 34, of North Mildred Street, was arrested shortly after the attempted robbery when he was caught with another man after stealing a tire. Police found both the lighter, shaped like a small caliber pistol, and three lug nuts from the stolen tire when they searched him. He was charged with attempted armed robbery, driving under the influence, petit larceny and having improper registration.
how drycleaning works
From the fine folks at How Stuff Works.
fred thompson vs. moore
On the day of the first Southern-state Republican debate on the Fox News Channel, one undeclared GOP candidate performed a media leapfrog.
With the help of one 38-second video clip and a great sense of humor, Fred Thompson, the former U.S. senator from Tennessee who is one sock away from dipping his toe into the race for the White House, remained just as relevant as the other GOP candidates.
And thanks to Michael Moore, the Hollywood documentarian who just can't help himself, Thompson delivered what, in time, could become his watershed moment. On Tuesday morning, Mark Corallo, the undeclared Thompson's frontman, had clicked on to the massively popular Internet news aggregator, the Drudge Report, to find that Moore had challenged Thompson to a political duel, also known as a debate.
"Within the space of about five minutes we decided to do a quick video response," Corallo recalled from his Washington office. He called Thompson and asked if he wanted to "have some fun today" and respond to Moore with a quick video.
Thompson's response was "pure Fred," Corallo said:
"Give me a camera. I already know what I am going to say," said Thompson.
Two phone calls and one camera later, Thompson was ready to go. One "take" later -- with no script, no booking time in a studio and no opposition research or talking points -- Thompson was shot into cyberspace.
Thompson scorched Moore in his witty video, dangling an unlit (Cuban?) cigar alongside a civics lesson that pointed out the perils of Moore's collaborating with the fickle dictator Fidel Castro.
alternate take on france and sarkozy
The story has been all over the media: Nicolas Sarkozy might not be an easy man to like but France is the “sick man of Europe” and tough love is what it needs. If its new president’s odes to the liberating power of work
and paeons to “the France that gets up early” grate on the ears of his 35-hour-work-week nation, so be it.
Yeah, yeah, Sarko made few friends in the riot-prone banlieues when he called the locals “scum” and threatened to clean up the projects with a Kärcher power hose (a German brand, no less). But at least he promised them jobs and not more empty socialist rhetoric. Having missed the train of globalization, the French economy is collapsing under the strain of a creaky welfare system and a chronic incapacity to create jobs.
By rejecting the neoliberal creed, France has turned its back on modernity. Aware of its decline, the nation pines for its lost grandeur, a risible notion so quintessentially Gallic English doesn’t even have a word for it. The pro-US, pro-Israel, tax-cutting, union-busting Sarko is France’s best hope for breaking with the gloomy years of the past.
Nice story. Too bad it bears so little connection to reality. France faces serious problems but they are none of the above. Oddly, to get the country all wrong seems a bit of an art form in the U.S. media. On any given day, Tom Friedman can be found berating the French for “trying to preserve a 35-hour work week in a world where Indian engineers are ready to work a 35-hour day.” Friedman’s genius is to suppress in the reader the commonsense reaction—Indian engineers have no life—and improbably redirect the pity toward the French. That takes some skill.
saturday, may 19, 2007
Michael Moore, explaining the flap over the trip to Cuba in a press conference, said, "This administration flaunts the law, flaunts the constitution."
What's wrong with that? Flaunting means to display ostentatiously. Given the superiority of our constitution, we should flaunt it.
Flout, on the other hand, means to treat with contemptuous disregard. Example: I flout the polemics of Michael Moore and the PR stunts he uses to promote them.
are you a good decision-maker?
Take this quiz from Carnegie-Mellon and lead investigator Wandi Bruine de Bruin. Gotta love that name.
rules we speak by
Take a sentence like this: "In the park today, we saw six gorgeous immaculately restored antique flame-red Italian racing cars." That's quite a string of adjectives, but they're placed in order according to a hierarchy that leaves "time, manner, place" in the dust.
This whole question was the focus of the Tip of the Week from the newsletter Copy Editor a couple of weeks ago. A reader had written in: "I deal with a lot of non-native English speakers, and a question frequently arises as to what order to use for a string of adjectives or adverbs. We (editors) know to say '21 large green tables' but why not 'green large 21 tables'? or '21 green large tables'? Is there a rule for this?" Wendalyn Nichols, editor of Copy Editor, responded, "There is indeed a standard order for adjectives, and you’ll find it described in dictionaries and textbooks for learners of English as a second language."
Ms. Nichols reproduced a version of a chart showing a hierarchy of modifiers: determiner, quality, size, age, color, origin, material. She gives some examples: a colorful new silk scarf; that silver Japanese car. I've just been looking over a couple of other such charts, and I find that the hierarchy they list goes like this:
Opinion :: size :: age :: shape :: color :: origin :: material :: purpose.
Today is Armed Forces Day.
Is short for bend over and...
Seriously, when I helped my dad upgrade his TV setup, we got a DVD player that upsamples to 720p. At $79.00, and great reviews from CNET, it was a bargain. But the cable to hook it up? Circuit City wanted $89. Ditto Best Buy.
That's $89 for wire and two plugs versus $79 for a device with a laser, motor, mechanism, circuits, servo, case, remote control and packaging.
the “a” word
by Burt Prelutsky
In the old days, a rhetorical question that was popular in certain circles was whether you’d buy a used car from Richard Nixon. Whatever your politics may have been, there was no getting around the fact that with his beady little eyes, his widow’s peak and his five o’clock shadow, he wasn’t exactly the image of honesty and integrity we’d all like to see in our elected officials.
I wonder how it is that a similar question is never posed, accompanied by a photo of Ted Kennedy’s sweaty, bloated, booze-besotted face.
Every time the senior senator of Massachusetts opens his yap, I swear I hear a whirring sound I assume are his brothers spinning in their graves. They’d probably be as amazed as anyone that their idiot brother has served, so to speak, 45 years in the U.S. Senate. Which is three years longer than Robert lived and only a year less than John.
His latest achievement is the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill. I realize that Kennedy couldn’t have done it alone. But, then, I’m not sure he can tie his own shoes without assistance. There are many who had a hand in this -- Mel Martinez, John McCain, Patrick Leahy and George W. Bush, just to name a few. But since the president, himself, has seen fit to crown Sen. Kennedy “the ablest legislator in Washington,” I assume he’s the one who deserves the lion’s share of credit for pulling off this coup.
I have been hearing from a lot of people who regard this as a red letter day for America. Frankly, though, I regard it as more of a black letter day. Or, perhaps, considering who the beneficiaries are, the more appropriate color is brown.
For a long time, the most popular example of chutzpah, the Yiddish word for monumental gall, was the guy who killed his parents and then asked the court for mercy because he was an orphan. But we now have an example that at least runs a close second. We have Hispanics who broke the law by sneaking into the country, had a baby at our expense, and then insisted they have the constitutional right to remain here because their kid’s an American citizen. Talk about profiting from the commission of a crime!
Those people, both Democrats and Republicans, who are terrified of uttering the “A” word, insist this piece of legislation isn’t really amnesty. They point out that it requires that American wannabes will have to pay a $5,000 fine over a period of time. But is there anybody out there who actually believes that if they don’t come up with the do-re-mi, they’ll be deported? If so, please give me a call -- I’m looking to sell my deed to Fort Knox.
To give you some idea of what a scam this is, I heard Bush’s mouthpiece, Tony Snow, on the radio this afternoon state that there are 12 million people who are here illegally, and then announce five seconds later: “We have no idea who they are or where they are.”
So, we know nothing about them, aside from their exact number. Talk about your Snow jobs!
My own guess, based partly on the fact that there were slightly over three million of them who received amnesty way back in 1986, courtesy of Ronald Reagan, is that the actual number is upwards of 20 million. If Snow or Bush or Kennedy disagrees with that estimate, let them prove it by limiting this amnesty-in-sheep’s-clothing to no more than 12 million.
Frankly, if all it takes to turn illegal aliens into good honest Americans is for this bunch of Washington weasels to wave their magic wand, I have another small job in mind for them.
How about if they grant amnesty to every criminal in America? After all, don’t we want to bring these fugitives out of the shadows? Many of them, after all, are the fathers of children who are American citizens. I mean, do we really want to split up families by sending these hard-working burglars, bilkers and bank robbers, off to jail?
friday, may 18, 2007
how to lose friends and alienate customers
A guy buys a Lincoln Mark VIII in 1996 and babies it, racking up a mere 66,000 miles. Then the engine cooling fan stops working.
It is often said that cars have become computers on wheels. That sounds cool until you think about how difficult it is to keep a home computer running for a decade, replacement parts and software so difficult to obtain as the years pass. And the explosion of vehicle models has forced dealerships to stock more parts than ever before.
The module in Field's Mark VIII controls the cooling fan and the fuel pump through an eight-pin connector into the car's wiring harness. For whatever reason, the failure has affected only the cooling fan and not the fuel pump.
One day, the car overheated and blew out the radiator. Field put a new $650 radiator into the car. Then mechanics discovered the cooling fan wasn't turning on as the car heated up. The problem wasn't the heat sensor or the fan itself, but rather the module that switches on the fan.
So big deal, buy another, right?
A quick check with the parts department at a Ford dealership turned up an empty bin. The mechanics plugged into Ford's national parts network, which can find parts at any warehouse or any dealership. Not a single module could be found.
Tough luck, says Ford.
the world in pictures
Check out Flickrvision and watch in real time as people upload their photographs from all over the globe.
Reverend Al Gore has a new book coming out and Time brings us an excerpt. This time Al is all worked up about, oh, all kinds of stuff:
A large and growing number of Americans are asking out loud: "What has happened to our country?" People are trying to figure out what has gone wrong in our democracy, and how we can fix it.
To take another example, for the first time in American history, the Executive Branch of our government has not only condoned but actively promoted the treatment of captives in wartime that clearly involves torture, thus overturning a prohibition established by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
Hmm. Richard Clarke described this scene in Against All Enemies (pp. 143-144)
Snatches, or more properly "extraordinary renditions," were operations to apprehend terrorists abroad, usually without the knowledge of and almost always without public acknowledgement of the host government.... The first time I proposed a snatch, in 1993, the White House Counsel, Lloyd Cutler, demanded a meeting with the President to explain how it violated international law.
Clinton had seemed to be siding with Cutler until Al Gore belatedly joined the meeting, having just flown overnight from South Africa. Clinton recapped the arguments on both sides for Gore: Lloyd says this. Dick says that.
Gore laughed and said, "That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass."
Gore also bemoaned the way we went to war against Iraq. But Al said:
“Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.”
“We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.”
Both statements were made on Sept. 23, 2002, part of the Democrats' imagined "rush to war" (that took 18 months!). Gore and virtually anyone with a microphone had their say about Iraq. Even Jeannine Garafalo got airtime. Sheesh.
It would be tedious to go through Al's latest diatribe, but remember these things about Gore-Clinton
- Gore-Clinton violated campaign finance laws, both in spirit and in fact. Remember Al Gore laundering money via the Buddhist Temple?
- Al Gore headed a special commission on airline safety. If Gore-Clinton had followed through on the talk, 9/11 might have been averted.
- Gore-Clinton cynically looked away as 800,000 Rwandans were hacked to death
One more from Gore:
...our democracy is in danger of being hollowed out. In order to reclaim our birthright, we Americans must resolve to repair the systemic decay of the public forum.
Yeah, no more presidential pardons for those with oodles of cash.
We must create new ways to engage in a genuine and not manipulative conversation about our future. We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science.
Indeed. Al's own movie is a distortion of science.
We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public's ability to discern the truth.
The truth, of course, is whatever Al believes it to be, and you'd better no contradict him.
war is hell
This old newsreel video clip from the Smoking Gun recalls the rules under which the Greatest Generation won World War 2. And the phrase "martyred" at the end of the video clip has an unaccustomed application.
While people may not want to return to the methods of World War 2, it is dishonest to pretend, as it is now fashionable to do, that Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill conducted war according to some high moral standard that the Bush administration has somehow betrayed. The current rules of engagement of Bush-Hitler would be unrecognizable compared to that waged by the Greatest Generation, and more to point, compared to warfare conducted by any other country in the world today. World War 2 was the era of unrestricted submarine warfare, unlimited attacks on enemy cities, the development of weapons of mass destruction to counter threats which turned out were nonexistent and the internment of thousands of Japanese-American civilians. One may or may not like the facts, but they are the facts.
One commentator remarked that the greatest public relations mistake the US military ever made was to show video footage of smart bombs used during Desert Storm. Far from understanding it as a breakthrough in reducing the "collateral damage" endemic to previous eras of warfare, the press understood the advent of guided weapons to mean that any subsequent collateral damage was actually intentional. Accidents might happens in their thousands on the highways, but accidents of the battlefield were presumed out of existence by "smart weapons". The term "war crime" came to be applied to any civilian deaths caused by US forces 'because they could have avoided them had they chosen to'. On the other hand the enemy was never adjudged guilty of a war crime because he fought with supposedly makeshift weapons, never mind that they were manufactured with sophisticated electronics and triggering devices. "A suicide bomber is the poor man's F-16". Did they attack a nursery or demolish a mosque. That's all right because they retaliated as only poor men can retaliate, ignoring the fact that VBIEDs or suicide backpack attacks are highly planned operations of war often conducted under covering fire.
But the biggest injury to the public debate was that the real image of war came to be superseded by fantasy. Many policy makers neither understood nor cared to understand the nature of war when they voted upon it. It is now common to hear people say, "I wouldn't have been in favor of the war in Iraq had I known it would be so horrible." They expected something else. Nor are their expectations revisable. The same individuals who oppose the war in Iraq will in a heartbeat propose that US forces be used to prevent the "genocide in Darfur", as if some parade down the desert or spectacular drop of airborne troops would effect the result.
War has been trivialized. Maybe it could not have been otherwise understood by a trivial age.
dem cong takes stand against planning
An amendment to the defense authorization bill, introduced by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), a member of the armed services panel, failed Wednesday night by a vote of 216-202 with six Republicans voting in favor of the amendment together with 196 Democrats.
Andrews’ amendment, which had strong support from House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), would have prevented funds authorized in the bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from being used to plan a contingency operation in Iran.
So, 84% of the Democrats in the House of Representatives (and, I'm sad to say, almost 10% of Republicans) voted to ban the United States government from planning a military action against Iran. This is unwise to the point of recklessness. First, there are all kinds of circumstances under which we might have to retaliate against Iran. If we cannot plan an attack on Iran, how can we plan a retaliation? We have plans to invade or retaliate against some huge percentage of the countries on the planet, but 84% of the Democrats want to ban even contingency planning for a conflict with Iran.
Worse, the supporters of this bill -- who generally complain that the Bush administration has not followed the recommendation of the Iraq Study Group to "negotiate" with Iran -- would make it impossible to, er, negotiate with Iran. Why would Iran, a country that has endured thirty years of economic deprivation in the cause of its foreign policy, concede anything material in any negotiation with the United States if it knows that the consequences of building an atomic bomb, declaring unending war against Israel, and running proxy wars in Iraq and Lebanon were... nothing? Had this bill passed it would have destroyed the one method for confronting Iran that even most Democrats purport to support.
prices: the true friend of the environment
by J.C Phillips
Given the current concern about man-made global warming, I fully expected that the rising price of gasoline would be greeted with celebration. Environmentalists and politicians currying their favor have warned us of the need to reduce our carbon footprint. Higher gasoline prices will curb the use of gasoline, encourage consumers to purchase more fuel efficient automobiles, car pool and use mass transit. In short, higher gas prices will lead to the exact behavior environmentalists want Americans to engage in. However, as gas prices near all time highs nationally, the increase has been greeted not with applause, but with shouts of indignation and calls from Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for yet another investigation into oil company price fixing.
Over the last 12 years, there have been 20 hearings investigating the same question and not one of them has concluded that there has been any such gouging of prices. Still, Schumer charges – with no evidence -- that oil companies are in collusion, holding back production of oil in order to drive up prices. No doubt, oil companies are also responsible for the violence and sabotage of pipelines in Nigeria, the fires on oil platforms off the coast of Congo, and they no doubt manufactured Hurricane Katrina that took out 15% of American refining capacity. A couple questions for the senator: Who was on the grassy knoll? Is Elvis dead or alive? Just checking.
Schumer’s public indignation is actually political sleight of hand. He points the finger at oil companies to distract from the fact that government -- in the form of federal, state and local taxes -- makes almost twice as much “profit” as oil companies do. In some jurisdictions, that “profit” approaches 50 cents per gallon. Schumer is clearly not opposed to profit so long as those profits fall into the coffers of big government instead of big business.
I suspect Schumer and others wistfully look southward and see Hugo Chavez, of Venezuela, nationalizing the oil industry and think “why not here?” It was no slip of the tongue when candidate Hillary Clinton proposed to “take” the profits of big oil and invest them in federal research into alternative energy. Comrades Clinton and Schumer have clearly forgotten the primary economic lesson of the 20th century to whit: the free market is far more efficient in directing scarce resources than is a market directed centrally. And one way in which a free market achieves its efficiency is through prices.
The rising price of gasoline will spur automakers to meet consumers' increased demand for more fuel efficient automobiles and spur municipalities to improve mass transit systems as citizens begin driving less, all of which will begin to redirect investment capital towards more cost effective alternative sources of energy – the source of energy that best meets the needs of the consumers, which may or may not meet the needs of the geniuses in Washington. The environment will benefit as will our national security by easing our reliance on foreign oil. True friends of the environment should be asking, “are gas prices high enough?”
The answer is no not nearly high enough – not if we are truly interested in changing the habits of American consumers. The fact is that adjusted for inflation and costs relative to income gas prices in the United States are still relatively low, which is why as much as Americans complain about the price of gas we have not significantly altered our behavior.
Rather than point the finger at greedy oil companies, Chuck Schumer and our other political leaders that talk the environmental talk should be offering the public straight-talk about the role prices can play in actually achieving our environmental policy goals.
Unfortunately, Schumer is more an opponent of big business than he is a friend of the environment and as such, he is concerned more with wielding power than he is with actual results, and populist rhetoric about “big oil” gouging poor consumers is good for his political business. So Schumer sticks to the script: Oil companies are evil, government is good. High gas prices are bad, government confiscation of corporate profits is good. What are real policy solutions when you are doing the work of God?
thursday, may 17, 2007
Years from now, pundits and academics will surely wonder why President Bush's greatest achievement — his stewardship of the economy — got so little notice during his time in office. Yet that's how it is.
Bizarrely, polls show that many people think the economy has fallen into a recession. Or that we never left the slump that began in March 2001, a bare month and a half after Bush entered office, and that ended in November of the same year.
Last summer, a national poll taken by American Research Group showed 38% of Americans thought the economy was in a recession. By last month that had fallen to 28%, but it's still a big share. Of course, we weren't in a recession. Nor is it the case, as also has been asserted, that "things got worse" under Bush.
What factually is true is Bush faced the greatest economic challenge of any incoming president since President Reagan. Like Reagan, Bush met the challenge — something for which the media and his foes refuse to give him credit.
It's hard to overemphasize how nasty things were. But the media were too busy penning loving tributes to President Clinton to note that the economy was falling apart as he left office. Here are the facts about what Bush faced:
• The economy was already in recession. It actually began shrinking the summer before Bush entered office — by 0.5% in the third quarter of 2000.
• The stock market, as measured by the popular Nasdaq, had already plunged 46% from its peak in 2000 — the biggest drop since 1929, slicing nearly $8 trillion from Americans' wealth.
• Not until Jan. 3, 2001, a mere three weeks before Bush took office, did the Federal Reserve cut interest rates — a first step in reversing six rate hikes over the prior two years. Since there's about a one-year lag between Fed rate moves and the economy, the bank's tardy response to the slowdown pretty much doomed Bush's first year.
Click to enlarge.
sandy scissorhands gives up the law
Samuel R. Berger, the Clinton White House national security adviser who was caught taking highly classified documents from the National Archives, has agreed to forfeit his license to practice law.
In a written statement issued by Larry Breuer, Mr. Berger's attorney, the former national security adviser said he pleaded guilty in the Justice Department investigation, accepted the penalties sought by the department and recognized that his law license would be affected.
"I have decided to voluntarily relinquish my license," he said. "While I derived great satisfaction from years of practicing law, I have not done so for 15 years and do not envision returning to the profession. I am very sorry for what I did, and I deeply apologize."
In giving up his license, Mr. Berger avoids being cross-examined by the Board on Bar Counsel, where he risked further disclosure of specific details of his theft. The agreement is expected to be formalized today.
One of the first things I noticed was that rapid globalization was forcing a correspondingly rapid evolution of warfare to take advantage of the new conditions. Global systems themselves like the Internet amplifies actions in a non-linear way which creates feedback loops that can dramatically escalate the impact of violence.
9-11 is a great example of how the underlying dynamics of globalization make a radical acceleration in conflict possible. Small groups can now produce results from actions that far exceed anything in history. However, this isn’t restricted to Islamic terrorists. Warfare is evolving is across the board at a rapid rate. I see it everywhere from Brazil to Columbia to Nigeria and Iraq.
That poses a big problem for the US military. They don’t have an historical guide to work from. Our previous experience with guerrilla groups in Vietnam, and beyond, operated substantially differently than what we see out there today. Today, there are no cohesive centralized movements to fight. No wars of national liberation. Warfare is now an open-source framework of loose organizations.
Q: So it’s like "wiki-war"?
A: Right. It is a ground-up phenomenon that challenges the Nation-state’s monopoly on violence.
Please forgive the market analogy, but it’s like Microsoft’s experience with the Internet. Before the Internet Microsoft dominated the computer industry. The arrival of the Internet changed things. Microsoft is still a player, but all the talent is gravitating away from the Windows platform towards the web. In warfare, you see the talent and innovation gravitating away from the nation state. As states decline, alternatives spring forth.
My book traces the development of these alternative non-state groups that are challenging nation-states across the world. I write about how new methods of warfare are emerging that go beyond simple terrorism. I illustrate this with examples of the campaigns against oil, the power grid, and the fuel systems in Iraq. I also show how loose groups can hollow out a state with these attacks. Under this type of assault, states can lose control and an entire commercially motivated set of groups can emerge that want to perpetuate the chaos.
Read the whole thing.
An economist named John Schmitt is quoted extensively in this Reuters news article. It seems that he is rather upset with the way we do things here in the United States. You see, we are “the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation days and paid holidays.” Mr. Schmitt says that it is a “national embarrassment.”
The article then goes on to point out that French workers are guaranteed 30 days of paid leave per annum, but only one paid holiday. Most of the other European countries force employers to provide a mere 20 days of paid leave, but the workers also are allowed 15 paid holidays.
That sounds nice on the surface, but I seem to recall that Europe is seriously lagging behind the United States so far as GDP is concerned. In fact, didn’t Europe just manage to reach the level of prosperity that the US attained a full generation ago?
It seems to me that there might just be a connection between government mandated vacation time and slow economic growth, a connection that Mr. Schmitt seems to have missed when talking about our “national embarrassment.”
hitchens versus god, the tour
Because people know I greatly admire his writing (and often, his reasoning) my email is overflowing with missives about Christopher Hitchen’s 800 word hiss over the body of Jerry Falwell. Hitchens would be surprised, I think, to hear that most of the notes are good-humored, with only a few worrying that he might cause some to “lose faith,” and the balance being sad for him, in his atheism.
I’m not sad for Hitch, and I’m not worried about folks “losing faith,” because of his latest book - entitled, God is Not Great - or his arguments. Chances are someone with shaky faith would have already capitulated and thrown in the white garment several months into the world-wide hype of The DaVinci Code, and they’re spiritual wimps if they can’t handle the scorn and debate of a gentleman who - although possessing a gift of supreme eloquence and a pleasant voice redolent of gin and honey - is simply a fellow with a big brain and arms perpetually crooked in a boxer’s stance. And he’s got issues, as have we all.
And his book-debating tour has been done before, several times, actually. In America William Jennings Bryan took on I-don’t-remember-who, and in England there was a most memorable series of debates between the great GK Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw, so this round of Hitchens “taking on all comers” like a good pub-buddy is nothing new. My Irish Aunties would love him.
I normally refrain from commenting on the antics of porn-brat Paris Hilton, but this item was too much:
Paris Hilton will serve about half of her 45-day jail sentence and will be separated from the general inmate population, authorities said Wednesday.
The hotel heiress will spend about 23 days in a "special needs housing unit" at the Century Regional Detention Center in suburban Lynwood, Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
Her sentence was shortened after jail officials gave her credit for good behavior, Whitmore said. Officials considered several factors in calculating the credit, including that she appeared for her latest court date, he said.
So showing up for a court date constitutes good behavior?
If she shows up to do her time, does that mean her sentence will be cut to 10 days?
wednesday, may 16, 2007
A Pajamas Media special report on how Islamic activists are using our legal system to silence critics and the media.
feasting on famine
Fully 65% of our food aid budget goes to overhead, leaving just 35% to directly help the poor in famine areas. Even the United Nations looks efficient by comparison; it manages to squander "only" 50% of its own food budget on overhead.
Private organizations like Save the Children spend less than 10% on overhead. Congress could write checks to such groups with effective results. If it can't do that, it can at least learn from them.
What most people don't realize is that food exists and can be bought in most famine areas. The problem is that the locals can't afford to buy it. So aid from elsewhere becomes the only answer.
High overhead exists in foreign aid because laws favor special interests. For instance, U.S. aid must come solely from U.S. farm sources, and 75% of shipping must be done on U.S.-flagged carriers. Both drive up costs.
Bush is trying to persuade Congress to allow 25% of U.S. aid to be sourced locally, aiming to feed more people faster in emergencies. He also wants to allow cash aid, which should reduce overhead.
Bush's reforms could also stop future famines. Vast tons of aid dumped from abroad can harm fragile economies, as local farmers are driven out of business by the free largesse. Studies of Ethiopia's 2005 famine found that U.S. aid actually lengthened it.
So Bush is standing up against agribusiness? I thought he was only about helping corporations.
true bloood for oil
Oil is Sudan's most economically important and politically critical product. In 2006 Sudan produced approximately 320,000 barrels a day. China bought an average of 99,000 barrels a day – which is no surprise, except that previously numerous sources had reported that China bought from 50 to 60 percent of Sudan's production. That is about 30 percent of Sudan's production, which still makes China a major importer of Sudanese oil. Japan averaged 124,000 barrels a day, or approximately 38 percent.
Together China and Japan buy 68 percent (two-thirds) of Sudan's oil. What's interesting is that Japan has for the most part escaped the international pressure China has experienced. There are several reasons for that. One is China's position on the UN Security Council. China is a permanent member of the Security Council and wields a veto.
That means China can more directly affect UN deployment (positively or negatively) of a peacekeeping force in Darfur. A second reason: China supplies Sudan with weapons and military equipment. In 2005 Sudan is believed to have imported $83 million in weapons from China and about $35 million from Russia.
While that may not look like a lot of money if you compare that to the US Defense budget, $83 million can buy a lot of ammunition for small arms and mortars. Darfur is a war of displacement, leading to death from exposure, starvation, and disease – that's how most of the killing gets done. Displace people from their homes and they die from exposure to the elements. Separated from their farms and food stocks, they begin to starve. When people starve they weaken and disease strikes more easily. In Darfur small arms carried by janjaweed militias start the process of displacement.
Which oil companies do not drill Sudanese oil? American oil companies.
wolfowitz at the door
The World Bank board meets today to consider the fate of President Paul Wolfowitz, and the truth is that the verdict may already be in. The board will consider the report of an investigating committee dominated by the same European nations that have been orchestrating the media campaign to depose him.
As almost daily newspaper leaks have disclosed for weeks--in violation of bank rules--the committee concludes that Mr. Wolfowitz violated bank rules in awarding a promotion and salary increase for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza. We've previously reported on the World Bank documents that make it clear this was at worst a misunderstanding--if not a setup by bank officials who wanted his fingerprints on any raise for Ms. Riza. Mr. Wolfowitz had tried to recuse himself, only to be told he couldn't do so and would have to be the one to give her the raise and new job. (See "The Wolfowitz Files," April 16.)
stow the wide angle
When I was in the PR business, my partner and I had a rule: if a publication sent a photographer to shoot a client and he pulled out a wide angle lens, we'd stop the shoot. It was the sure sign of a hit job.
Here we see how Time did its best to make a handsome man look odd by shooting up close with a wide lens. Symmetry is a key to beauty and the compostion insures his face is lopsided. The hard shadow from his right brow makes that eye seem hooded.
And why black and white?
As for the blurb: he looks like a president? Y'mean Abe Lincoln? Harry Truman? Ike?
Then there's the non sequitur regarding what Mitt Romney really believes.
tuesday, may 15, 2007
a job anyone can do
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the commutes in certain sections are absolutely horrendous. This guy was sitting in a traffic jam one morning watching all the people in the carpool lane drive by while he was moving at snail’s pace. He decided that he needed to get someone else in his car so that he could get to work in a timely manner using the carpool lane, and at first thought that his only option was to start a carpool.
As he thought about it more, however, he thought that he (as in himself and his body) was actually a valuable commodity and he could sell himself and that is exactly what he did. He walked to the freeway entrance and held up a sign that said,
“Traffic is bad. Spend 2 hours or pay me $10 and get there in 20 minutes”
He said the first day he was picked up within 15 minutes. When he got dropped off, he walked to the other side, held up his sign and got paid to go back the other way too. On a typical day he makes 2 to 3 round trips during the morning commute rush hour and 3 - 5 round trips during the evening rush hour. If there is an accident and traffic is really slow, his price doubles. He clears $100 - $300 a day sitting in a car so others can get to work and home faster!
Three-year-old Sarah M. is either a toddler in her birthday suit playing in the garden, or a nude temptress with a sultry look who requires protection from the culprits who took this photograph -- her doting parents.
This is the fix we're in, now that computers have opened the barn door on kiddie porn. The FBI has issued blanket requests to photo processing labs and computer repair shops in some cities to be on the lookout for pictures of kids in compromising positions, urging them to call the authorities whether they're sure or not about a picture's legality. The big national chains that have photo processing labs -- Costco, CVS, Rite-Aid, and Wal-Mart -- have company policies that compel them to notify the police about any criminal activity they see in customers' photos. And when children are involved, they're more than willing to err on the side of caution.
Then in Florida, two horny teens get convicted of exploiting themselves.
In March 2004, two Florida teens—17-year-old male “J.G.W.” and 16-year-old female “A.H.,” as court records refer to them—photographed themselves engaged in sex acts. Then they sent the pictures from A.H.’s computer to J.G.W.’s email account. It’s not exactly clear how, but the photos soon wound up in the hands of the police. Both teenagers were charged with producing child pornography.
The sex acts themselves were not illegal; both teens were over Florida’s age of consent. It was the documentation of the sex acts that was illegal, because the federal child pornography ban defines a child as anyone under 18. In essence, they were arrested for exploiting themselves.
her life among curmudgeons
AskMom has some advice about getting along.
mixed up jihadis
Why would Albanian-speaking Muslim refugees from the Balkans try to murder American soldiers? After all, the United States — not bin Laden’s rag-tag jihadists — saved Bosnia and Kosovo? And we did that by bombing the capital of a Christian European nation.
But then, why did a mixed-up Albanian Muslim in Salt Lake City, one Sulejman Talovic, go on a shopping-mall shooting spree? Five innocents were killed in the attack before the murderer himself was shot and killed.
And why, after pouring billions of dollars into Afghanistan, did poor, mixed-up Omeed Aziz Popal, an Afghan Muslim, try to run over several innocents in San Francisco near a Jewish center in September 2006?
Or, for that matter, why did an angry Muslim Pakistani gun down Jews in Seattle?
Or, again, why earlier last year, did a 22-year-old Iranian-American Muslim drive his sport utility vehicle into a crowded pedestrian zone at the University of North Carolina?
...why do these residents in our midst, who have voluntarily come to America, and some of whom have had America itself spend billions abroad on their brethren, wish to kill us?
Such questions are nonsensical. The aggrieved Islamist, whether born here or abroad, lives in a world of emotion, never reason, in which pride, envy, and a sense of inferiority always trump logic.
When, as an individual or collectively, he constructs someone or something culpable for his own — or his people’s — sense of failure, then a primordial urge to lash out follows. His mind returns to the seventh-century never-never land of scimitars and sharia law mixed in with rote chanting of “Allah Akbar!” while his body and material appetites are stranded in our cosmos of Baywatch reruns and professors on the BBC and CNN whining on about the dangers of Islamaphobia. What, then, are the catalysts for the al Qaedist that turn him from hothouse anti-Americanism to deadly violence?
"german fatties fear the wurst"
In response to a recent study which showed that Germans are fatter than all other Europeans, the German government called Wednesday for concrete steps to wage a nationwide battle of the bulge. (...) The new initiative was spurred by a study released by the International Association for the Study of Obesity. It found that among EU countries, Germany has the most overweight women and men. Among adults, the study found that 58.9 percent of German women are overweight; 75.4 percent of men tip the scales. (...)
The rates of obese and overweight Germans now match those of Americans.
Ulrich points out that "the fat American" has been a core topic in Germany for decades and many Germans have claimed that "this fatness underlines the lack of culture, together with death penality and other typical American habits. Now the Germans are as fat as the Americans. What a shock."
For a fairly recent example see Medienkritik.
In 1974, I was hitchhiking across country and got a ride from a fellow who practiced a flavor of Buddhism that involved chanting for rewards. If you want something, he explained, just chant for it. The Cadillac I was sharing with him at that moment, he said, was fruit of his chanting.
"But didn't Buddha say that all human suffering came from people's attachment to things?" I asked.
"So how can chanting for a Caddie break attachment? Shouldn't you be chanting to not want a Cadillac? That way, whatever happens -- rust, repo man, fender benders -- you will be happy."
He ignored that and went on to list all the goodies he'd gotten via chanting.
I remembered this while reading an amusing piece in Slate by Emily Yoffe about The Secret, which has sold:
...5.3 million copies of the book in print in the United States, and publisher Simon & Schuster says it is selling about 150,000 a week. A separate DVD version has sold at least 1.5 million copies. Groups have formed to discuss how to best live by The Secret's rules. It is a No. 1 best seller in Australia, England, and Ireland, and it is scheduled to be translated into 30 languages.
And what is The Secret?
There's no secret to The Secret. The book and movie simply state that your thoughts control the universe. Through this "law of attraction" you "manifest" your desires. "It is exactly like placing an order from a catalogue. … You must know that what you want is yours the moment you ask." "See yourself living in abundance and you will attract it. It works every time, with every person." The appeal is obvious. Forget education, effort, performance. Everything you want—money, power, comfortable shoes—is yours simply by wanting it enough.
There are certain caveats. Apparently the universe has a language-processing disorder and doesn't comprehend standard English usage of the words don't, not, and no. So, as the book explains, if you summon the universe by saying, "I don't want to spill something on this outfit," the universe translates this as, "I want to spill something on this outfit." If only Rhonda Byrne, the television producer who is the author of the book and creator of the DVD, had been there to counsel those negative authors of the Ten Commandments!
Read the whole thing to find out whether The Secret worked for Emily. Did she get the new kitchen floor she wanted? Before we go, we'll leave you with this, from songwriter Ned Washington:
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
If your heart is in your dreams
No request is to extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
As sweet fullfillment of their secret drowns
Like a boat out of the blue
Fate steps in and see's you through
monday, may 14, 2007
free speech curbed
In the aftermath [of the Virginia Tech massacre], officials at Hamline University sought to comfort their 4,000 students. David Stern, the vice president for academic and student affairs, sent a campus-wide email offering extra counseling sessions for those who needed help coping.
Scheffler had a different opinion of how the university should react. Using the email handle "Tough Guy Scheffler," Troy fired off his response: Counseling wouldn't make students feel safer, he argued. They needed protection. And the best way to provide it would be for the university to lift its recently implemented prohibition against concealed weapons.
"Ironically, according to a few VA Tech forums, there are plenty of students complaining that this wouldn't have happened if the school wouldn't have banned their permits a few months ago," Scheffler wrote. "I just don't understand why leftists don't understand that criminals don't care about laws; that is why they're criminals. Maybe this school will reconsider its repression of law-abiding citizens' rights."
After stewing over the issue for two days, Scheffler sent a second email to University President Linda Hanson, reiterating his condemnation of the concealed carry ban and launching into a flood of complaints about campus diversity initiatives, which he considered reverse discrimination.
"In fact, three out of three students just in my class that are 'minorities' are planning on returning to Africa and all three are getting a free education on my dollar," Scheffler wrote with thinly veiled ire. "Please stop alienating the students who are working hard every day to pay their tuition. Maybe you can instruct your staff on sensitivity towards us 'privileged white folk.'"
But after the Virginia Tech massacre, school administrators across the country were ramping up security. Flip to any cable news channel and you'd hear experts talking about warning signs that had been missed. Cho had a history of threatening behavior and stalking. And a psychological evaluation had deemed him a threat to himself.
So Hamline officials took swift action. On April 23, Scheffler received a letter informing him he'd been placed on interim suspension. To be considered for readmittance, he'd have to pay for a psychological evaluation and undergo any treatment deemed necessary, then meet with the dean of students, who would ultimately decide whether Scheffler was fit to return to the university.
The consequences were severe. Scheffler wasn't allowed to participate in a final group project in his course on Human Resources Management, which will have a big impact on his final grade. Even if he's reinstated, the suspension will go on his permanent record, which could hurt the aspiring law student.
In the Soviet Union dissidents were routinely classified as mentally unstable and packed off to asylums.
Here we have liberal academics, so unused to even considering conservative arguments, much less encouraging the free exchange of ideas on their campuses, assuming anyone saying such things must be crazy.
bush vetoes non-existent bill
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) claims on her website that President Bush vetoed the Gulf Coast Recovery Bill.
There was no such bill.
However, the Dem Cong
Defense Appropriations Iraq surrender bill did (now with 1/3 pork!) include funding for some Louisiana projects. Bush rightly vetoed the bill.
mister ba'athist goes to washington
...for a sing-along with anti-war Democrats.
For two weeks, in meetings with a score of members of Congress, Muhammad al-Daini, a Sunni Arab member of the Iraqi Parliament who says he has survived eight assassination attempts, has offered a well-practiced pitch that emphasizes the need for American troops to withdraw.
“The problem in Iraq is the American Army,” Mr. Daini told a group of attentive American legislators gathered last week in the office of Representative Jim McDermott, an antiwar Democrat from Seattle. “What brought terrorism, what brought Al Qaeda and what brought Iranian influence is the Americans.”
You may remember Jim McDermott from such films as Fahrenheit 9/11 or his ethics violation conviction.
Last year, after Mr. Daini helped expose a secret torture jail run by the Interior Ministry, his Shiite opponents accused him of having ties to Sunni insurgents. He has publicly praised the Sunni insurgency for taking on American troops, and a reporter for a Shiite newspaper has accused him of complicity in the killing of the reporter’s brother.
A central part of Mr. Daini’s pitch is the perfidy of the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, and he has brought to Washington a stack of documents that he contends prove the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is tied to death squads and takes orders from Iran. One is a letter purporting to bear Mr. Maliki’s signature pledging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to destroy 13 opponents in Parliament “by any means,” including “physical elimination.”
Another supposedly shows Mr. Maliki advising the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to hide his top militia commanders in Iran or send them to the south during the new Baghdad security push.
Mr. Maliki’s allies, however, say the documents are forgeries. The government now plans to ask Parliament to vote to lift Mr. Daini’s immunity from criminal prosecution, a privilege of all legislators, so that he can be charged with forgery.
“The documents that he has can be found on the terrorists’ Web sites,” Hassan al-Sineid, a senior Shiite legislator from Mr. Maliki’s party, said Saturday. “The Iraqi government knows all about what he’s doing in Washington.”
cutting the grass
...Hardly anyone objects to the legislation's requirement that former lawmakers wait two years instead of one before lobbying Congress. Ditto with bans on lobbying by congressional spouses and restrictions on sitting members of Congress negotiating contracts with private entities for future employment.
But the legislation may be amended on the floor to restrict grassroots groups that encourage citizens to contact members of Congress. The amendment, pushed by Rep. Marty Meehan of Massachusetts, would require groups that organize such grassroots campaigns to register as "lobbyists" and file detailed quarterly reports on their donors and activities. The law would apply to any group that took in at least $100,000 in any given quarter for "paid communications campaigns" aimed at mobilizing the public.
The same groups that backed the McCain-Feingold law, limiting political speech in advance of an election, are behind this latest effort to curb political speech. Common Cause and Democracy 21 say special-interest entities hide behind current law to conceal the identities of their donors, whom they would have to reveal if they were lobbying Congress directly. "These Astroturf campaigns are just direct lobbying by another name," says Rep. Meehan, who is resigning from the House this summer and views his bill as his last hurrah in Congress.
But the First Amendment specifically prohibits Congress from abridging "the right of the people . . . to petition the Government for redress of grievances." The Supreme Court twice ruled in the 1950s that grassroots communication isn't "lobbying activity," and is fully protected by the First Amendment. Among the groups that believe the Meehan proposal would trample on the First Amendment are the National Right to Life Committee and the American Civil Liberties Union. The idea goes too far even for Sen. John McCain, who voted to strip a similar provision from a Senate lobbying reform bill last January.
The Left sees citizen boycotts against the Dixie Chicks as an assault on free speech, but banning certain speech gets a free pass. So much for the "reality-based community."
gasoline prices 101
Next time you hear some half-baked conspiracy theory about price-gouging or GOP manipulation of the price of gasoline, point the person toward this article from How Stuff Works.
Better yet, memorize the key points so you can bore people at dinner parties.
It is the strange fate of retiring British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be called a lackey for adhering to his own deep-felt foreign-policy vision.
Long before President Bush arrived in the White House, Blair championed the idea that the West should intervene to stop human-rights abuses in other countries, putting morality above respect for the borders of sovereign countries. It wasn’t until after 9/11 that Bush embraced a version of this expansive vision, essentially making him a convert to the Blair view rather than the other way around.
In the debate regarding the Iraq war, Blair merely applied his principles of liberal interventionism that had led him to support a war against another aggressive, human-rights-abusing dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, in the Balkans. In an April 1999 speech, Blair linked Milosevic and Saddam Hussein as “dangerous and ruthless men” who had “brought calamity on their own peoples.” Stopping one had been right, and so was stopping the other.
Many of Blair’s fellow liberal interventionists, however, weren’t going to let consistency get in the way of opposing “Bush’s war.” Their support for a robustly moralistic foreign policy ended as soon as it was picked up by a conservative Republican. There were a handful of liberal interventionists who backed the Iraq War, but they dropped off when it turned from an easy liberation to a grinding counterinsurgency. Recognizing the evil of our enemy and the humanitarian stakes of failure, Blair held firm.
In this sense, he has been the last liberal interventionist standing. When passions cool over Iraq and Bush leaves the stage, the realism of the likes of James Baker will lose its fashion on the left. Barack Obama, an opponent of the Iraq War, has already given a Blair-esque foreign-policy address. But Blair will have been nearly alone in keeping liberal-interventionist priorities throughout the Clinton and Bush years. Rather than “Bush’s poodle,” Blair has been a bulldog for his beliefs.
sunday, may 13, 2007
tufts assists america's cultural suicide
The occasion was “Islamic Awareness Week” on campus, a cause to which the conservative student newspaper, The Primary Source, merrily contributed (see the PDF of the ad). That thoughtcrime, coupled with an anti-affirmative-action Christmas carol published in the December issue, earned it a hearing before the college’s Committee on Student Life.
Verdict: guilty of “harassment.” Sentence: a requirement that all pieces published henceforth in TPS carry a byline, presumably so that aggrieved parties in the future might know whom specifically to “confront” with their complaints. Oh, and the committee’s recommendation:
We ask that student governance consider the behavior of student groups in future decisions concerning recognition and funding.
That’s a veiled threat to put them out of business, in case you’re having trouble reading between the lines.
Apparently "stifling dissent" if okay in some situations.
Y'see, everyone is equal, but some people are more equal than others.
bring on the bulldozers
The UN has such a sense of humor.
Mugabe's henchmen bulldoze a shanty in Zimbabwe in 2005. His "un-development program left 200,000 homeless.
African countries sparked outrage yesterday after they nominated President Robert Mugabe's regime for the leadership of a United Nations body charged with protecting the environment and promoting development.
Zimbabwe, which is enduring economic collapse and environmental degradation, could become chairman of the UN's Commission on Sustainable Development when a formal vote of its 53 members takes place today.
If so, Francis Nhema, Mr Mugabe's environment and tourism minister, will lead the body charged with monitoring the world's pledges made at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Zimbabwe's economy is collapsing, with inflation of 2,200 per cent - the highest in the world. Households can expect just four hours of electricity a day. This has encouraged deforestation, with large areas being stripped of wood for light and heating. Mr Nhema, 48, benefited from Mr Mugabe's wholesale seizure of white-owned land. The minister, who was educated at Strathclyde University, was handed Nyamanda farm near Karoi, a once thriving enterprise producing tobacco and maize. Most of its 2,500 acres are now lying idle.
Mr Nhema is also in charge of Zimbabwe's national parks, where wildlife has been decimated by poaching.
jerks before jihadis
Blogger Karol at Alarming News knew two of the Fort Dix six when were they were just punk kids.
When Elvis and Dritan Duka, two of the three brothers arrested on terrorism charges in Fort Dix, were kids, they were neighborhood bullies. When they got a little older, they became drug dealers.
How do I know? They grew up in my neighborhood, my brother and his friends used to brawl with them on a fairly regular basis. My brother's best friend's mom was friends with their mom. Then they moved to New Jersey and became Jihadis. Of all possible paths for the Duka kids, that one didn't seem the most likely.
They've been here since they were kids, illegally it turns out, lived American lives, went to our public schools, and then decided to try and kill some of our troops. I don't know that I'll ever get used to this world.
super mario's collateral damage
The father of one of the six men charged with plotting to massacre soldiers at Fort Dix says the business that he's nurtured near the base for years is all but ruined since his son's arrest.
Muslim Tatar, who has owned Super Mario's Pizza for five years, said his lunchtime crowd from nearby McGuire Air Force Base and Fort Dix has largely disappeared, replaced by empty tables and nasty words from passing motorists.
"Now I am a target," Tatar, 52, said, adding that his business is "99 percent dead."
Tatar's son, 23-year-old Serdar Tatar, was arrested Monday along with five others. Authorities say the men were preparing to buy automatic weapons to use in an attack on Fort Dix when they were arrested.
They targeted the Army post, partly because one of them had delivered pizzas there and was familiar with the base, according to court filings. Authorities said the objective was to kill "as many American soldiers as possible."
It's a shame the sins of the son are visited on the father. But a dead business is better than dead soldiers.
guest worker program -- in spain
It used to be that residents of southern Spain would head to Germany as guest workers. Now, the region hosts guest workers of its own -- from Morocco. The program may become a model for migrant labor across the European Union.
Strawberry fields reach as far as the eye can see in this southeastern corner of Spain. But it hasn't always been so. When Antonio Martin González was born, this region around the small town of Cartaya was mostly barren -- and so poor his father was forced to leave in order to support his family. For 11 years in the 1960s and 70s, the elder González labored as a guest worker at a German metalworking factory, spending just six weeks at home each year.
Four decades later, the tables have turned. Now it's strawberry farmer Antonio Martin who employs the migrant labor. His preference: Moroccan mothers, who are fit and under 40. And this time things are supposed to be different. This time, the guest workers are supposed to go home.
"We don't take women without children because we run the risk they'll run away, that they will remain in Spain and not return to Morocco," González says.
saturday, may 12, 2007
The LA City Council voted last year to force hotels near LAX to pay a "living wage" of $10.64 or more to all employees.
They justified their meddling into the hotels' business by arguing they benefit from their proximity to the city-owned airport. A similar strategy was used by the People's Republic of Santa Monica, which charged hotels near the beach a view tax.
A judge has temporarily halted the airport living wage inititative, but the LA Times business columnist Rick Wartzman believes that all businesses in LA should be forced to pay the bigger wages.
Directing businesses to pay their employees at least $10.64 an hour is a smart and principled way to help the working poor. Those who insist that such a policy would trigger a huge loss of jobs are flat-out wrong.
Maybe, but a huge loss isn't the issue. Economists measure marginal behavior, and it's hard to see how raising wages by over $3/hour cannot have some effect.
I can already hear the screaming: "It's up to the marketplace to decide what people get paid." "Imposing a living wage across the city will make L.A. even more inhospitable to business."
But creating a vibrant business environment and ensuring that workers are paid a decent amount are not mutually exclusive. In many ways, the free market is magical.
A pro forma sop.
It's far from perfect, though, especially for those struggling to make ends meet.
Indeed, markets are imperfect. But they're better than bureaucrats. Witness the failure of every economy governed by central planning.
One mordant remark I get a lot is, "If having a living wage is so brilliant, why stop at $10.64? Why not mandate $50 or $100 an hour?"
The reason is that this would be crazy — as crazy as asking, "Why not pay people $4 an hour, if they're desperate enough to work for so little? Come to think of it, why not legalize slavery? That would be economically efficient." Nobody seriously contemplates these things because a civilized society has standards.
Reductio ad absurdum, Mr. Wartzman. You should be embarrassed.
Watrzman ignores the existence of an organic wage hierarchy developed by the free market.
Thousands of choices and calculations made by millions of people has created this wage hierarchy. People know what certain jobs pay and make their plans accordingly.
If a hotel maid's pay jumps from $7.75 to $10.64, won't hairdressers demand a 30% pay boost, too? And everyone else.
The ripple effect of hundreds of jobs getting pay increases would be inflationary, eating up the wage gains for the working poor, leaving them right where they started.
The only gains would be to know-it-alls such as Wartzman, who'll feel so much better having struck a blow for social justice.
optimism or pessimism
The news offers more than the usual opportunities for optimism and pessimism today, usually within the same stories. Optimism allows for a brighter outlook on the future; pessimism tends to minimize the risk of disappointment. When given the choice, in the short to medium term, it is more pleasant to take an optimistic view, but when your money is involved, it is more prudent to take th pessimistic view. In the long term it is always better to take an optimistic position since the alternative is nihilism.
With those provisos, here is an SW rundown of some disparate topics of interest, with an optimistic and a pessimist read:
who was this?
He did not talk until he was almost 4 years of age, and his self-centered behavior, hyperactivity, and relentless questioning led his teacher to blurt out that he thought this man's brain's were addled. His mother was so angry, she pulled him out of school to tutor him at home. His father bribed him read some of the classics, offering him ten cents for each one he was able to complete. He would begin to voraciously read books and recite poetry, and then he discovered he enjoyed science and was clever at mechanical things.
Who was this? This was Thomas Edison, the Wizard of Menlo Park, and one of the most prolific inventors in history, inventing the cylinder phonography, the lightblub, and motion pictures.
As Mother's Day draws near, we salute all the remarkable mothers out there like Nancy Edison who believe in their children and inspire them to succeed in their own ways. Happy Mother's Day to all of you!
take that, jacques
...before Chirac fades from the scene altogether—or before he becomes embroiled in corruption investigations—I'd like to take this opportunity to recall some of the highlights of his diplomatic career. Many Americans know him only as the man who made the right decision about Iraq, albeit for the wrong reasons. But try, if you can, to leave Iraq aside: Chirac's more important diplomatic legacy lies elsewhere.
Ponder closely, for example, what Chirac has had to say about Africa, where his country has enormous influence, in many places far outweighing ours. During a visit to the Ivory Coast, Chirac once called "multi-partyism" a "kind of luxury," which his host, president-for-life Félix Houphouet-Boigny, could clearly not afford. During a visit to Tunisia, he proclaimed that, since "the most important human rights are the rights to be fed, to have health, to be educated, and to be housed," Tunisia's human rights record is "very advanced"—never mind the police who beat up dissidents. "Africa is not ready for democracy," he told a group of African leaders in the early 1990s.
On Britain: "The only thing they have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow disease. … You can't trust people who cook as badly as that."
On Russia: "For his contribution to friendship between France and Russia," Chirac decorated Vladimir Putin last year with the highest order of the Légion d'honneur, a medal reserved for the closest foreign friends of France (Churchill, Eisenhower), despite the deterioration of the Russian president's human rights record. A few weeks later, Chirac decided to hold his 74th birthday party in Riga, Latvia, after a NATO summit. He invited President Putin, disinvited President George W. Bush, and snubbed the Latvian president in the process. As the diplomatic scandal grew, the guests all begged off, and the birthday dinner never took place.
On Saddam Hussein: "You are my personal friend. Let me assure you of my esteem, consideration, and bond."
in a nutshell
picking a fight with pacifism
by Burt Prelutsky
The main problem with pacifism is that it doesn’t work in all situations. The main problem with pacifists is that they’re convinced it does.
Gandhi persevered for years and ultimately gained independence for India, but that was because, for all its faults, England was basically a civilized, Christian nation. It was possible to arouse the sympathy and good will of the British people. Had he tried it with Nazi Germany, he would have died in an oven.
There’s no getting around the fact that being a pacifist has a nicer ring to it than being, say, a warmonger. But when I hear people such as Alan Colmes say, as he did recently, that we rushed to war in Iraq and didn’t give negotiations a chance to work, I wonder what planet he and Mrs. Colmes call home. After all, for a dozen years, Saddam Hussein had violated his 1991 ceasefire agreement, and he cynically used the profits from his oil-for-food program to bribe Russia, Germany and France, into complicity. During that period, the U.N., the last great hope of the feeble-minded, passed 17 resolutions against Iraq. I guess the member nations figured they’d shame Hussein into compliance. They couldn’t even get him to allow the inspectors to search his palaces, leading one and all to believe he had WMD stashed in his wine cellars.
But in spite of British and American intelligence, and the leading lights in both political parties, agreeing that the Butcher of Baghdad had to be taken out, the pacifists disagreed. To them, anything beyond the equivalent of giving Hussein a good talking-to and a time-out, as if he were a three-year-old who’d been acting up, was unthinkable.
It’s hard to get a grip on the way their minds work. Do pacifists simply choose to believe that evil doesn’t exist? Do they actually believe that Hitler and Stalin, Pol Pot and Osama bin Laden, Idi Amin and Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Mao Tse-tung, are or were good guys who were simply misunderstood? The question is whether pacifists are hopelessly naïve or simply cowards.
Recently, I received an e-mail from a reader who wanted me to know that we had no business fighting Germany in World War II. It wasn’t that he was pro-Nazi, but that he felt it was Europe’s war and we had no business being involved. Apparently, the notion of several hundred million people being under the boot of a madman and his gang of goose-stepping degenerates didn’t faze him in the slightest.
I can only assume that if he was your next-door neighbor and he saw your wife being attacked or your house being burgled, he wouldn’t bother calling a cop. After all, it’s not his wife, not his house.
I wouldn’t want you to get the idea that I love war. Heck, I don’t even like war movies. But I acknowledge that there are times when war is the only honorable, only reasonable option. To believe otherwise doesn’t make you wise or good; it only makes you a toad or a weasel.
Winston Churchill, who knew more about war than most men, gave strong voice to the British people at a time they were under Nazi siege, when he said, “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say: ‘This was their finest hour.’”
And what would Dennis Kucinich say to bolster American spirits if we found ourselves in similar straits? Remember, folks, to keep your talcum powder dry?
friday, may 11, 2007
I was out for a morning hike and heard what sounded like dog whining or a mourning dove. I located the source and was surprised to see a roadrunner. Normally, I see them with head erect and dashing about. They are quite amazing to observe.
But he was sitting on a rock and leaning forward, letting out the saddest sound.
zimbabwe, american style
by J.C Phillips
During my recent visit to Zimbabwe, I had the privilege of visiting a vocational school for at-risk kids located in Chitungwiza, a large city neighboring the capital city of Harare. I traveled to Harare to perform in a production of the new play, “The Blue Door.” The play, by Tanya Barfield, examines the Black double consciousness – the struggle for self-definition while treading the waters of history. While enjoying a break from rehearsal, our small company of actors was invited to tour the school and speak to the students.
For many, this school represents a final chance at something better in life. The students, ranging in age from late teens to early twenties, had all walked a rugged path – poverty, AIDS and prostitution. In this respect, they were not so different from American kids that grow up on what we call the mean streets. Nor were they so different in that they were a bunch of hams as we delightedly discovered during an acting exercise they participated in. They also resembled American kids in that during the exercise they adopted hip hop poses and rap lingo replete with DJ aliases, flashing gang signs, prison yard poses, crotch grabbing and the like.
It was fascinating to watch thoroughly African kids, most meeting American Blacks for the first time (indeed during our stay we met one African gentleman that was shocked and ultimately tickled pink to discover that there were Black people like himself living in America) adopt Americanized versions of themselves when asked to create a character. It is a testament to the power and influence of American culture but it is also an example of times ability to impact our notions of self. There I was an American soaking up the sights and smells of the land of my ancestors while the children of Shona and Ndebele tribesmen parroted images of American rap stars. Personally, I think I got the better part of the bargain.
The bad news is that the parroting did not stop at the crotch grabbing. Some of the students confessed to casually referring to each other as “Nigger.” “You know, when we are on the streets with our friends.” Of course, the word is not native to southern Africa; they adopted it from America – specifically a Black America, whose struggle with consciousness led it to adopt as its own one of the tools of its oppression. I asked about the word “Kaffir,” an ethnic slur with a similar meaning that was prevalent in southern Africa during the years of apartheid. The students recoiled in horror. “Never!” they responded.
To think here in the heart of southern Africa, in a black nation so full of art and beauty, a nation that declared its independence from apartheid, young people had adopted as a term of endearment an ethnic slur that means, “you are less than.” There are those in America that should bow their heads in shame. Is this the legacy? Minstrelsy and self-degradation? Is this what the new world hath wrought?
Bad news, indeed!
The good news is that there was a strong contingent of young people that felt very strongly that the N- word was offensive and wanted no part of it. They thought too much of themselves and would have no part in defining themselves downward.
Admittedly, there is nothing scientific in my observation. I witnessed only a small snapshot – a brief encounter with some African youth. It may or may not be representative of youth culture in Harare much less in all of Zimbabwe.
What does seem clear is that while minstrelsy remains a global money making enterprise, (Pimp juice anyone?) we will be hard pressed to stamp out the ugly virus infecting our American culture. Time will tell if the consciousness and definition of self on the African continent is robust enough to resist.
In the 1960s, prime time television was full of commercials for household products. Instead of ads for pharmaceuticals, cell phones and iPods, in those days we saw more plugs for floor wax ("eliminates that waxy yellow build-up"), window cleaner ("makes glass so clean it seems to disappear") and paper napkins ("clings like cloth!).
Pathetic, is it not, that I can recite those slogans four decades hence?
Housewives were depicted as nervous obsessives with infinite concern about cleanliness. Of course, this was the way Proctor and Gamble and other purveyors wanted women to be. They were modeling proper attitudes as defined by the marketing department.
I remember one commercial featuring a woman hosting dinner for her husband's boss and his wife. The boss-coming-to-dinner was a hot ad genre then. Because she bought the wrong dishwasher detergent, her plates had drying spots on them. Naturally, the boss and wife noticed this detail and the poor housewife was humiliated. If this had been a Japanese commercial, they might have shown her wearing a ribbon of shame or honing the seppuku knives.
In 1976, the bizarre last night comedy Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman aimed a dagger at this conception of motherhood. The show is just now out on DVD. If you decide to check it out, give it time. It has no laugh track and the humor requires getting used to. Shows such as "The Office" owe a big debt to Mary Hartman.
Weight loss was important back then, but not like today. I frequently find myself admiring the "before" photo in those diet ads and not the "after." Anorexia may have existed in the '60s, but few people knew of it.
Now those who fret over their weight and their "body image" have a new thing to fret about: internal fat.
If it really is what's on the inside that counts, then a lot of thin people might be in trouble. Some doctors now think that the internal fat surrounding vital organs like the heart, liver or pancreas _ invisible to the naked eye _ could be as dangerous as the more obvious external fat that bulges underneath the skin.
"Being thin doesn't automatically mean you're not fat," said Dr. Jimmy Bell, a professor of molecular imaging at Imperial College, London. Since 1994, Bell and his team have scanned nearly 800 people with MRI machines to create "fat maps" showing where people store fat.
In the '60s, advertisers preached concern over "hidden dirt." I never understood that, figuring if dirt was good enough to hide itself, we should be good enough to leave it be. Now we have hidden fat, and I can just hear some skeletal teenager admonishing her mom to, "Lighten up, I'm fat on the inside."
maybe he was getting his hair done that day
The hedge fund that employed John Edwards markedly expanded its subprime lending business while he worked there, becoming a major player in the high-risk mortgage sector Edwards has pilloried in his presidential campaign.
Edwards said yesterday that he was unaware of the push by the firm, Fortress Investment Group, into subprime lending and that he wishes he had asked more questions before taking the job. The former senator from North Carolina said he had asked Fortress officials whether it was involved in predatory lending practices before taking the job in 2005 and was assured it was not.
Lending money to high risk borrowers usually means charging them higher rates. Is risk/reward calculation predation? If I loan you money and you stiff me, who's the predator?
Subprime loans are aimed at buyers with poor credit histories and charge higher rates because of the risks. Some loans carry fees and large rate increases that are hidden from a home buyer.
Anyone who bought a house knows the mountain of paperwork involved. The government has very exacting rules for how loans are offered. I wonder if "hidden" means that borrowers were too unsophisticated to understand their terms.
Not long ago, lenders were pilloried for excluding people from owning homes.
Last month, Edwards announced a plan to fight predatory lending. He said that an increase in subprime loans and predatory mortgages was resulting in a surge of foreclosures that risked "devastating communities," and that "shameful lending practices . . . are compromising our strength as a nation."
Disclosure forms to be released on Tuesday will show how much Edwards was paid for his work at Fortress, which lasted until December 2006, when he stepped down to run for president. He has received $167,460 in campaign contributions from Fortress employees and their families, his largest sum from a single company.
Edwards, a highly successful trial lawyer before entering politics, said yesterday he went to work for Fortress to learn more about capital markets. He acknowledged the job provided a financial benefit at a time when his only other salary was $40,000 from the poverty center.
thursday, may 10, 2007
raping condi rice
XM radio's Opie and Anthony show demonstrate how low you can go. Warning: extreme vulgarity.
no french collapse, no holocaust?
In 1940, German forces invaded Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg by air and land. Neville Chamberlin resigned and Winston Churchill took over as Prime Minister. As the BBC reported then:
British and French troops have moved across the Belgian frontier in response to appeals for reinforcements.
Reports from Belgium say British troops have been enthusiastically received. Their guns have been festooned with flowers and the soldiers plied with refreshments.
In Washington President Franklin Roosevelt was asked at a news conference whether he thought Germany's invasion of the Low Countries would lead to US involvement in the war. He replied that it would not.
FDR lied, people died! The French quickly collapsed, although not without a fight.
If it’s an exaggeration, it’s not much of one. If France had held up to the German assault as effectively as it was expected to do, World War II would probably have never reached the nightmare levels that it in fact did reach. The Hitler regime might well have fallen. The Holocaust would never have happened. Most likely, there would have been no Communist takeover of Eastern Europe.
This campaign has never received much attention in America; it tends to be regarded as something that happened before the “real” war started. Indeed, many denizens of the Anglosphere seem to believe that the French basically gave up without a fight–which is a considerable exaggeration given the French casualties of around 90,000 killed and 200,000 wounded. But I think the fall of France deserves serious study, and that some of the root causes of the defeat are scarily relevant to today’s world.
The French expected the Germans to attack via Belgium, but instead came through the dense Ardennes forest. The fight was over almost before it started.
A major role was played by certain characteristics of French society and politics of the time–and some of these factors are spookily similar to some of the things that are going on in America today.
In her autobiography, Simone de Beauvoir reflects on the attitude of the French Left (of which she was a part) toward the rise of Nazi Germany…”there was no threat to peace; the only danger was the panic that the Right was attempting to spread in France with the aim of dragging us into war.” (Horne) A constant thread that runs through France in the 1930s is the extreme factionalism, often resulting in more fear and distrust of other Frenchmen than of the rising external enemy.
This was not only a phenomenon of the Left. Among conservative elites, for example, the phrase Better Hitler than Blum was popular. Leon Blum (Premier 1936-37) was a fairly mild Socialist, best known for his advocacy of the 5-day week. Something about him inspired crazed hatred on the part of French Conservatives and Rightists. “A man to shoot in the back,” wrote Charles Maurras, and he was by no means alone in such sentiments. As Julian Jackson puts it in his book The Fall of France: “Politics in France in the 1930s had reached a pitch of violence that had something of the atmosphere of civil war.”
Leon Blum and George W Bush are, of course, two very different men, believing in very different kinds of things. But it is hard not to hear an echo of the insane Blum-hatred of the late 1930s in the insane Bush-hatred of today.
What's the world coming to when a man stained by Oil for Food rides a high horse?
Mark Malloch Brown spoke Monday to a crowded auditorium at the World Bank's headquarters, warning that the bank's mission was "hugely at risk" as long as Paul Wolfowitz remained its president. Only hours earlier, news leaked that a special committee investigating Mr. Wolfowitz had accused him of violating conflict-of-interest rules. A coincidence? We doubt it.
Mr. Malloch Brown, remember, was until last year Kofi Annan's deputy at the United Nations. In that position, he distinguished himself by spinning away the $100 billion Oil for Food scandal as little more than a blip in the U.N.'s good work, and one that had little to do with Mr. Annan himself. Last week, Mr. Malloch Brown was named vice president of the Quantum Fund, the hedge fund run by his billionaire friend George Soros. A former World Bank official himself and ally of soon-to-be British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr. Malloch Brown would almost surely be a leading candidate to replace Mr. Wolfowitz should he step down. Not surprisingly, Gordon Brown cold-shouldered Mr. Wolfowitz at a recent meeting in Brussels.
The bank presidency would be a neat coup for Sir Mark, and not just because the post has heretofore gone to an American. He also stands for everything Mr. Wolfowitz opposes, beginning with the issue of corruption. Consider Mr. Malloch Brown's defense of the U.N.'s procurement practices.
"Not a penny was lost from the organization," he insisted last year, following an audit of the U.N.'s peacekeeping procurement by its Office of Internal Oversight Services. In fact, the office found that $7 million had been lost from overpayment; $50 million worth of contracts showed indications of bid rigging; $61 million had bypassed U.N. rules; $82 million had been lost to mismanagement; and $110 million had "insufficient" justification. That's $310 million out of a budget of $1.6 billion, and who knows what the auditors missed.
Mr. Malloch Brown also made curious use of English by insisting that Paul Volcker's investigation into Oil for Food had "fully exonerated" Mr. Annan. In fact, Mr. Volcker's report made an "adverse finding" against the then-Secretary-General. Among other details, the final report noted that Mr. Annan was "aware of [Saddam's] kickback scheme at least as early as February 2001," yet never reported it to the U.N. Security Council, much less the public, a clear breach of his fiduciary responsibilities as the U.N.'s chief administrative officer. Mr. Malloch Brown described the idea that Mr. Annan might resign as "inappropriate political assassination"--a standard he apparently doesn't apply to political enemies like Mr. Wolfowitz.
Read it all.
Camelia Suleiman of Florida International University and Daniel C. O'Connell of Georgetown University recently examined three TV interviews and two radio interviews with the former president in June 2004 and three TV interviews and two radio interviews with Hillary Clinton in June 2003. All were conducted by the same journalists: Larry King of CNN, Katie Couric of NBC, David Letterman of CBS, Juan Williams of NPR and Terry Gross of NPR.
Sen. Clinton was nearly three times more likely to use "you know" than her husband, a "hedge" phrase that downgrades or diminishes the power of a statement. Previous research shows that women use hedges more than men.
That's not a male-female distinction: it's the difference between glib and not. Bill exemplifies glib. Hill is just a wannabe.
She also used the word "so" more frequently than her husband, a word that is often used to underline or intensify what is said. This finding also goes along with previous work that shows women use intensifying words more than men and that this marks women and their language as powerless.
"Even though Hillary Clinton is a politician herself, she still follows, to some extent, the historic designation of women's language as the language of the non-powerful," the researchers wrote.
People get paid to produce such out baloney. What a country!
nests of evil
The American forces should stay in Iraq and yes, reinforcements should be sent if the situation required. Not only that, these forces should be prepared to expand their operations whenever and wherever necessary in the region to strike hard on the nests of evil that not only threaten the middle east but seeking to blackmail the whole world in the ugliest way through pursuing nuclear weapons in a feverish desire to destroy themselves along with everyone else. It's a delusional obsession with power derived from the false belief that only they possess absolute justice while denying the right to exist to anyone who disagrees with them.
We must keep fighting those criminals and tyrants until they realize that the freedom-loving peoples of the region are not alone. Freedom and living in dignity are the aspirations of all mankind and that's what unites us; not death and suicide. When freedom-lovers in other countries reach out for us they are working for the future of everyone tyrants and murderers like Ahmedinejad, Nesrallah, Assad and Qaddafi must realize that we are not their possessions to pass on to their sons or henchmen. We belong to the human civilization and that was the day we gave what we gave to our land and other civilizations. They can't take out our humanity with their ugly crimes and they can't force us to back off. The world should ask them to leave our land before asking the soldiers of freedom to do so.
The cost of liberating Europe was enormous in blood and treasure and thereafter it took half a century of American military presence to protect Europe's nations from subsequent threats—now if that made sense during a cold war, and it did, then I don't understand why would anyone demand a pullout from Iraq (and maybe later the middle east) when the enemies are using every evil technique, from booby trapped dead animals to hijacked civilian aircrafts to kill us and destroy the human civilization.
brit's die more from cancer
...because of socialized medicine.
Seriously, do you really think socialized medicine is a good idea? Do you really believe that the code phrase "Universal Health Care" is anything but socialized medicine? Read this article from the Telegraph before you answer. Read it all the way through because the really important information is buried toward the end. Because it matters.
British cancer patients are substantially more likely to die of the disease than those in other western European countries because of poor access to the latest drugs, according to an authoritative report to be published today.
While more than half of patients in France, Spain, Germany and Italy have access to new treatments provided since 1985, the proportion in the UK is four out of 10.
French women with cancer are 34 per cent more likely than those in the UK to still be alive five years after being diagnosed, while French male patients have a 23 per cent higher survival rate after the same period.
The report into cancer treatment in 25 countries found the uptake of newer cancer drugs was "low and slow" in the UK as well as New Zealand, Poland, Czech Republic and South Africa.
Its Swedish authors from the influential Karolinska Institute added that there was "no evidence" that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) was meeting its objective of avoiding significant delays in introducing new treatments.
Humorist Max Shulman wrote in "Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys" that they had a dog farting the Star Spangled Banner on TV, millions would watch it. This was before Letterman's Stupid Pet Tricks. Way before.
But watch bingo on TV? Yes, ABC is bringing it on. David Kronke, TV critic for the LA Daily News writes:
OK, this could get a little dangerous. I have a pretty low tolerance for stupid, boring and pointless things, but nonetheless I’m going to try to sit through the first episode of “National Bingo Night,” ABC’s stab at reality-show-as-church-social, debuting Friday, May 18.
Before I get started, allow me to quote from the press release: Blah blah blah, print your own Bingo cards blah blah blah “so they’ll not only experience the excitement of watching the on-screen competition but can concurrently enjoy the pure fun of playing bingo at home, free of charge….” Clearly, this show could be dangerous for anyone whose heart is not in tip-top shape.
Fortunately, ABC sent only a snippet of the first episode, just one game (they manage to pack three electrically charged games into an hour of TV). They also sent some Bingo cards and “The Official Bingo Dauber for National Bingo Night,” which is good, because I’d hate to have some cheap imitation knock-off go off in my hands and injure someone.
same expression, different meaning
Cultural differences determine how we read another human face.
Culture is a huge factor in determining whether we look someone in the eye or the kisser to interpret facial expressions, according to a new study.
For instance, in Japan, people tend to look to the eyes for emotional cues, whereas Americans tend to look to the mouth, says researcher Masaki Yuki, a behavioral scientist at Hokkaido University in Japan.
This could be because the Japanese, when in the presence of others, try to suppress their emotions more than Americans do, he said.
In any case, the eyes are more difficult to control than the mouth, he said, so they probably provide better clues about a person's emotional state even if he or she is trying to hide it.
As a child growing up in Japan, Yuki was fascinated by pictures of American celebrities.
"Their smiles looked strange to me," Yuki told LiveScience. "They opened their mouths too widely, and raised the corners of their mouths in an exaggerated way."
Japanese people tend to shy away from overt displays of emotion, and rarely smile or frown with their mouths, Yuki explained, because the Japanese culture tends to emphasize conformity, humbleness and emotional suppression, traits that are thought to promote better relationships.
As animator Nick Park figured out, you don't even need a mouth to convey emotion. His very expressive dog character, Gromit, has no mouth.
wednesday, may 9, 2007
did climate change kill neanderthals?
Neanderthals disappeared from Earth more than 20,000 years ago, but figuring out why continues to challenge anthropologists. One team of scientists, however, now says they have evidence to back climate change as the main culprit.
The Iberian Peninsula, better known as present-day Spain and Portugal, was one of the last Neanderthal refuges. Many scientists have thought that out-hunting by Homo sapiens and interbreeding with them brought Neanderthals to their demise, but climate change has also been proposed.
Francisco Jiménez-Espejo, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Granada in Spain, says a lack of evidence has left climate change weakly supported—until now. “We put data behind the theory,” he said, filling in a large gap in European climate records when Neanderthals faded out of existence.
...is short for "lying with Photoshop." Hezbollah did it last summer (clumsily) to advance its propaganda. Now Big Baloney is tweaking their idol's images with Photoshop. Who? Why, that Obama fella.
Is it just us or are the images of Barack Obama promulgated by the MSM in the last week getting more and more like the glowing Russian icons for sale in cheap shops in Brighton Beach?
This one adorns Sally Quinn's gushing love letter printed in today's Washington Post:
"There is something about his manner that seems to demand that he be seen for who he is and not for what color he is.
"Of course, Obama has many attractive attributes. He is charismatic and has a youthful exuberance. He is a new face and connects with both young people and key Democratic constituents. But there's something else going on here as well." (A Welcome Face)
The photo is credited to Ann Johansson - Getty Images, but anyone who knows Basic Photoshop will see the tools of blur, over-saturation, unsharp mask and a judicious use of highlighting in the eyes and the teeth at work here.
Be sure to check out the before-and-after shots.
maybe nancy can sue A.Q, too
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is threatening to take President Bush to court if he issues a signing statement as a way of sidestepping a carefully crafted compromise Iraq war spending bill.
Pelosi recently told a group of liberal bloggers, “We can take the president to court” if he issues a signing statement, according to Kid Oakland, a blogger who covered Pelosi’s remarks for the liberal website dailykos.com.
“The president has made excessive use of signing statements and Congress is considering ways to respond to this executive-branch overreaching,” a spokesman for Pelosi, Nadeam Elshami, said.
Perhaps Bush should sue Nancy for trotting off to Syria, surely an overreach for a mere congresswoman.
segolene royal and hillary
Have much more in common than just gender.
With Segolene getting only 48% of the female vote in the French election (with a 75% voter turnout) Hillary must getting cold chills down her spine.
the biggest man on the field
From Sports Shooter:
The story in a nutshell involved a rather stubborn and defiant young man by the name of Bobby Martin who was born without any legs. His three-foot tall body starts at his pelvis and that's it. Never knowing a life with legs, Bobby from an early age just adapted to using his arms and the pendulum motion of his body for movement. And after perfecting this method of locomotion for 17 years - and seeing it first hand - I can tell you this kid can move with the best of them. This is the ONLY life he's ever known.
So when he wanted to go try out for the football team that was perfectly natural to him. Like any man his age, he wants to be active and play sports. Football would be one answer. (Bobby also wrestles and is a shot putter.) The article went on to explain the absurdity of why Bobby was disqualified in his fourth game of the season (after playing in three without incident) for not wearing shoes, knee or thigh pads.
Read it all.
shortest of honeymoons
Is the French election a belated acknowledgment of reality or the latest attempt to dodge it? In other words, is itBritain voting for Mrs. Thatcher in 1979 and America for Ronald Reagan the following year? That's to say, the electorate understands the status quo is exhausted and unsustainable and that unless catastrophe is to be avoided radical course correction is required. Or is itGermany voting tepidly and tentatively to give Angela Merkel the narrowest of victories in 2005? In other words, the electorate was irritated with the incumbents but recoiled from any meaningful change, with the result that Frau Merkel found herself presiding over a nominally fresh government with no agenda and no mandate for reform.
I'd bet on the latter. Just as Frau Merkel proved not to be Germany's Thatcher, I would be surprised if Nicolas Sarkozy turned out to be France's Reagan. Not because he doesn't have Reaganite tendencies but because the French electorate, like the Germans, aren't there yet. M Sarkozy did well in the first round because he co-opted many of Jean-Marie Le Pen's concerns. I don't mean the fascism and the anti-Semitism and the oven jokes.
It's a tribute to the shriveling of the French political sphere that, by the time of the last presidential election in 2002, an antiquated perennial loser was able to catapult himself into second place. But, in an advanced technocratic state, where almost any issue worth talking about has been ruled beyond the scope of partisan politics, you might as well throw away terms like "left" and "right."
The previous presidential election was meant to be a contest between the supposedly conservative Jacques Chirac and his supposedly socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin. In practice, this boiled down to a candidate who's left of right of left of center, and a candidate who's right of left of right of left of center. Chirac and Jospin ran on identical platforms: they were both in favor of high taxes, high unemployment and high crime. Faced with a choice between Tweedleleft and Tweedleright, you couldn't blame French voters for choosing to make it a real race by voting for the one guy running on an openly stated, clearly defined manifesto. In 2002, the political class considered most of M Le Pen's preoccupations — immigration, crime, unemployment — beneath discussion.
When you mention "the French riots," most people assume you're talking about the excitable chaps rampaging around in 2005. But it was another set of riots six months later that symbolizes the trap in which the political class is caught. The fall 2005 rioters were "youths" (ie Muslims from the suburbs), supposedly alienated by lack of economic opportunity. The spring 2006 rioters were "youths" (ie pampered deadbeats from the Sorbonne), protesting a new law that would enable employers to terminate the contracts of employees under the age of 26 in their first jobs, after two years.
To which the response of most Americans is: you mean, you can't right now? No, you can't. If you hire a 20-year-old and take a dislike to his work three months in, tough: chances are you're stuck with him till mid-century. In France's immobilized economy, it's all but impossible to get fired. Which is why it's all but impossible to get hired. Especially if you belong to that first category of "youths" from the Muslim ghettos, where unemployment is around 40 to 50 per cent. The second group of "youths" — the Sorbonne set — protesting the proposed new, more flexible labor law ought to be able to understand that it's both necessary to the nation and, indeed, in their own self-interest: they are after all their nation's elite. Yet they're like lemmings striking over the right to a steeper cliff — and, naturally, the political class caved in to them.
Read it all.
We missed this last Saturday, but it's too good not to report:
...the creepy ecototalitarianism of the British state, all in the interests of "saving the planet". Among the examples she cites: $200 fines for poorly separated recycling and "microchips implanted in wheelie bins [trash cans] to weigh residential refuse - dragging Britain's surveillance culture to a new low".
Just so. It's not enough that the average Briton is captured on closed-circuit TV cameras in his car, in the street, in the shopping mall, and even in country lanes where the rural constabulary have hidden them in trees to catch illegal fox hunters. Now the government is monitoring his garbage. If they ever take up Sheryl Crow's all-we-are-saying-is-give-one-piece-a-chance toilet-paper rationing, you can bet the enforcers will mandate CCTVs in every bathroom if not microchips in the bowl.
If George Bush put a microchip in your garbage under the Patriot Act, there'd be mass demonstrations across the land. But do it in the guise of saving the planet and everyone's fine with it. Meanwhile, to encourage recycling, garbage collection has been halved from weekly to fortnightly. As a result, flies swarm and rats gambol.
a billion here, a billion there
...pretty soon it adds up to real money.
California may have to come up with an extra $47.9 billion over the next 30 years to cover health and dental benefits for its retirees and current state employees, Controller John Chiang said Monday.
But Chiang said the state could cut that bill to about $31.3 billion if it dropped its pay-as-you-go approach, invested about $1 billion a year to help cover future retiree health costs and used the earnings to ease the impact on the state budget.
"Our actuarial report shows that, annually, if we continue on the pay-as-you-go basis, we will accrue a liability of $3.59 billion a year," Chiang said in remarks prepared for a speech to the Sacramento Press Club. "But if we fully pre-fund and put that money into a trust fund, we'll only need $2.59 billion a year (from the budget) to cover this liability."
Only $2.59 billion? Just for health care of California public employees?
tuesday, may 8, 2007
The New Jersey Ledger's version
Federal investigators last night arrested six Islamic radicals who were planning a heavily armed attack against soldiers at Fort Dix as part of a jihad against America, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Six "Islamic radicals" involved in a plot to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey were arrested Monday night, the U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey said Tuesday.
One of the suspects was born in Jordan, another in Turkey, the U.S. attorney's office said. The rest are believed to be from the former Yugoslavia, "either U.S. citizens or living illegally in the United States," the office said in a statement.
See how some "innocent" quotation marks can color a story? BTW, the former Yugoslavia includes Bosnia, a modern day Casablanca for jihadi intrigue.
The men had scouted out Dover Air Force Base and Fort Monmouth before settling on Fort Dix, a base that is used to mobilize troops to Iraq, said the source. One of them, Tatar, had regular access to secure areas of the facility through his job as a deliveryman and knew "it like the palm of his hand," according to the complaint.
The men - several of whom are relatives - had videotaped their practice sessions in Pennsylvania, the source said. That videotape, in which they railed against America, led to their arrests.
The men made the mistake of bringing it to a retail store, seeking to get a copy burned to a DVD, according to one of the sources. A store employee who later watched the tape called the FBI who began immediately investigating.
Dumb da dumb dumb. Dumb da dumb dumb, dumb!
nANCY'S culture of corruption
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used her clout to get lawmakers to back a San Francisco redevelopment project near her multimillion-dollar rental properties, disclosure documents reveal.
Pelosi got House members to authorize $25 million to improve the Embarcadero port area, clearing the way for cruise-ship-dock development and other improvements to aid the neighborhood's comeback.
There is also Nancy's Presidio project.
dawg, it was a bit pitchy
Not content with earning billions of dollars, however, [American Idol’s] producers now must assert their social consciences. Like a medieval knight buying masses for his soul after a life of plunder and pillage, the show is now compensating for it riches by raising money for the poor.
Doing something about the starving children of Africa, of course, is now all the fashion with celebrities. It’s no surprise that American Idol is jumping on the media-powered bandwagon that Angelina and Oprah and Bono have ridden, picking up free good publicity along the way. So now we are seeing Simon Cowell, the show’s acid-tongued Brit judge, and the metrosexual host Ryan Seacrest journeying to Africa to gawk at the suffering and prick our overfed American consciences. The goal is to get us to contribute money so that “something can be done.”
The first point to make is that the problems of Africa are not about money. According to William Easterly — whose White Man’s Burden all wannabe do-gooders should be forced to read — the West has transferred to the Third World $2.3 trillion in aid over the last fifty years. Yet here we are, being told once again that more money is the solution to the problem. But let’s face it, alleviating the suffering of poor little Africans isn’t really the issue.
For celebrities, waxing moralistic about African suffering is a way to grab some gravitas and compensate for having made fortunes out of the pop-cultural equivalent of Big Macs and Slurpees. It’s also good for asserting moral superiority and putting on display one’s compassion and sensitivity. But there’s a deeper pathology at work here: the way the global media thrives on human suffering, one of its most lucrative commodities. There’s a creepy voyeurism at work here as we watch all this footage of cute hungry children. There’s also the cheap guilt that provides us transient emotional pleasure, one that rarely leads to anything more than dropping another few bucks into the bottomless pit of African cultural, political, and economic dysfunction. And there’s the pleasurable sensation of contemplating our own superior sensitivity. We must be good if we feel so bad.
Read it all.
Germany's Der Spiegel is a font of anti-American bunk. Now they've outdone themselves by defaming the first settlement in the New World. As David's Medienkritik reports:
Predictably, Spiegel online (SPON) didn’t let the opportunity of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown settlement slip to launch one of its characteristically distorted propaganda broadsides.
The title of this latest offering, “Battle over the Murder and Tobacco Settlement,” gives us a broad hint about the level of “balance” and “objectivity” we are to encounter in the rest of the piece.
The title certainly doesn’t deceive. SPON lays on the propaganda in generous dollops from beginning to end. With rare historical insight we are informed that:
“Today historians know exactly who they (the original settlers) were, and that knowledge is very revealing. A priest, but no farmers, along with carpenters, masons, smiths and doctors – not the occupations one would expect for a village intended to provide for itself. Plunder, robbery, exploitation. That must have been the idea from the beginning.”
Not really, SPON. The “idea from the beginning” is there in the historical record for anyone who cares to read it. The settlers hoped to acquire food by trading with the Indians. Unfortunately, they arrived at a time of unprecedented drought, and quickly found they would have to provide for themselves. The idea that they planned to rely on “plunder, robbery, and exploitation” is a propaganda fairy tale of the 21st century rather than the reality of the 17th.
SPON informs us ominously that, “The settlers raised tobacco instead of wheat.” Evidently they never took the time to read the Surgeon General’s warnings. They imported black slaves to help in the fields, negligently failing to build a time machine so they could learn that a practice that had been accepted as normal for countless centuries would be perceived as an evil 200 years later, almost exclusively thanks to the efforts of white Europeans living mainly in England, the very country that sent out the first settlers to Jamestown.
"muslim friendly" initiatives
HotAir has a video report on efforts by Muslims in America to force accommodation on the rest of us.
Muslim only dorms? Halal food in the student union? Feh!
a french lesson for republicans
Incumbent French President Jacques Chirac had been twice elected, has served a total of 12 years in office, and is very unpopular. Coming into this election, people were very tired of the Chirac government and there was a sense that there had to be change.
But the opposition on the left, the Socialist Party, failed completely to capitalize on this desire for change. They nominated a candidate of great achievement, Ségolène Royal, but she proved herself to be the candidate of the status quo, not the candidate of change. She was actually committed to keeping all the bureaucracies that were failing and all the policies that were creating unemployment. She was committed to avoiding the changes necessary for a French future of prosperity, opportunity and safety.
Normally, with the incumbent conservative government so unpopular, the left would have been expected to win the election, probably by a significant margin. But the conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, won decisively because he is an aggressive, different kind of French political leader. He is a member of the Chirac government -- the Minister of the Interior. But not only is he a man who is willing to stand up and fight for what he believes in, but Sarkozy is also a man who hasn't followed the normal French path to success by going to an elite university, becoming part of the ruling elite and fitting in.
Sarkozy: A Different Kind of Frenchman
Instead, Sarkozy is just the opposite. He was born of Hungarian parents who had fled communism in Eastern Europe. That makes him the first president of France who is a first-generation immigrant. It also means his name doesn't sound very French. And his style certainly isn't very French. He is a tough, confrontational leader -- a man who has been preaching things that don't sound very much like the French establishment.
In the campaign, Sarkozy argued that the French have to work longer hours and, in order to give them an incentive to do so, that they shouldn't pay taxes if they work overtime. He called for tax cuts to encourage investment so the private sector can create jobs. And critically, Sarkozy has said that the people must obey the law, that the creation of law and respect for the law is a central part of any civilized society.
Remember, this is a jarring message for a country that routinely accepts the burning of up to 15,000 cars a year by hooligans who, according to the elites, are simply "expressing their desire to disrupt society." It's jarring for a country that was very proud a few years back to have the first mandatory 35-hour work week in history. Yet an increasing majority of the French believes that without the kind of changes Sarkozy is calling for, France's stature will disappear in a wave of lawlessness and economic decay.
A Royal Commitment to the Status Quo and a Candidate of Change
As for the opposition in the French election, much like the American Democratic Party, it is trapped by its commitment to big labor, big bureaucracy, high taxes and social values people don't believe in. Every time French voters seriously looked at Ségolène Royal and the kind of politics she represents, she lost ground. She simply couldn't make the case that left-wing Socialist policies would work.
The result was a surprising and powerful upset by Sarkozy -- a victory by a center-right reformer, a member of the unpopular ruling party, who came to personify change.
And here's where American Republicans really need to pay attention: In France, voting for change meant voting for the party in office, but not the personality in office. And voting to keep the old order meant voting for the opposition, not for the incumbent party.
If Republicans hope to win the presidency next year, they better find a candidate who is prepared to stand for very bold, very dramatic and very systematic change in Washington. Not only that, but they had better make the case that the left-wing Democrat likely to be nominated represents the failed status quo: the bureaucracies that are failing, the social policies that are failing, the high tax policies that are failing, and the weakness around the world that has failed so badly in protecting America.
Only if we have that kind of campaign do we have a reasonable chance to expect the American people will vote for effective change for a better, safer and more prosperous future -- and that they will see that effective change as being Republican.
A Franco-American Alliance for 'Green Conservatism'?
In the meantime, Sarkozy has pledged to repair relations between France and America, and we should take him seriously in his pledge. In particular, he has called on America to lead the world in addressing climate change.
This gives President Bush a unique opportunity to change the perception of his attitude toward both Europe and the environment. The President should take up Sarkozy's call for U.S. leadership on global warming by proposing a bold new initiative on market-based, entrepreneurial incentives to help in the environment. As I outline in an op-ed that appeared in Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, using new technology to dramatically increase energy independence and reduce reliance on carbon isn't giving in to the left -- it's resisting the big government solutions that the left routinely imposes under the guise of protecting the environment and instead finding a more effective way forward to protect and renew the natural world.
Maybe that sensitive soul, Bill Maher, will sleep better knowing the French elected a pro-American president. Maher, you may remember, wrote this in March:
[Bush has] asked us to sacrifice the pride and joy that comes from knowing people all over the world look up to you. Yeah, what can you do?
Be proud, Bill, be joyful.
monday, may 7, 2007
power napping? x-treme snoozing?
A new discovery could make it possible to take a "power nap" at the flick of a switch.
Scientists have found a way to turn on deep sleep at will using a machine that magnetically stimulates the brain. A device worn on the head could in squeeze the benefit of eight hours' sleep into just two or three hours.
Scientists in the US used a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to induce slow waves - indicative of the deepest phase of sleep and essential for learning ability and mood, in a group of sleeping volunteers.
bill clinton's words of comfort
"If a nuclear bomb ever exploded in the Middle East, even if it wiped out Israel, the main victims eventually would be all the Muslims around it who would be killed in the nuclear fallout."
a theory of w
What you see is what you get with George W. Bush. He has that in common with Ronald Reagan, though W is no Reagan. He is nobody but W. This, for a conservative, is a Good Thing. It's why I voted for the man, and don't regret it for a second.
But leftishly speaking it makes no sense. For Democrats, the greatest politician of our lifetime is William Jefferson Clinton, the slick Arkansas con-man. His supreme talent for spur of the moment creative lying to any given audience is just supercool to the Left, which is betting that you can fool all the people all of the time.
Back to W. Let me bring you back to late 1999, when Bill Clinton was finishing his presidency by pardoning any crook who gave suitable donations, or whose wife he had shagged. The Oval Office carpet had visible stains on it - visible in the public imagination if not in physical fact.
Over the nation there hung a pall of dread, because Clinton had so deeply corrupted US foreign policy - imagine Madeleine Albright dancing corpulently with Kim Jong Il, while hundreds of thousands of starving North Koreans marched by in parade -- so that any sane observer simply knew we were in for some looming disaster. The Chinese were sold missile secrets that allowed them to finally get their rockets into space and have them land anywhere on earth, fifteen minutes later. They paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into the political slot machine and hit the jackpot. Clinton's White House attracted con-artists the way horse-apples draw flies.
So what kind of man do you want as President after that unholy mess? Somebody you can trust, obviously. Now you can say anything you like about W, but he does what he says he'll do --- barring Hell or high water, or an Act of Congress. He has a spine of steel, and a traditional sense of honor (taking after his Dad and Mom). He talks like Midland, Texas, because he personally identifies with that place. W owned a baseball team because he truly loved baseball, not just to get his poll numbers up. (He's also a decent baseball pitcher). He had an alcoholic past, and repented fiercely.
Read it all.
two kinds of judgement
Put yourself in the position of someone selecting players for a national team. Suppose for the sake of simplicity that this is a game with no positions, and that you have to select 20 players. There will be a few stars who clearly should make the team, and many players who clearly shouldn't. The only place your judgement makes a difference is in the borderline cases. Suppose you screw up and underestimate the 20th best player, causing him not to make the team, and his place to be taken by the 21st best. You've still picked a good team. If the players have the usual distribution of ability, the 21st best player will be only slightly worse than the 20th best. Probably the difference between them will be less than the measurement error.
The 20th best player may feel he has been misjudged. But your goal here wasn't to provide a service estimating people's ability. It was to pick a team, and if the difference between the 20th and 21st best players is less than the measurement error, you've still done that optimally.
It's a false analogy even to use the word unfair to describe this kind of misjudgement. It's not aimed at producing a correct estimate of any given individual, but at selecting a reasonably optimal set.
One thing that leads us astray here is that the selector seems to be in a position of power. That makes him seem like a judge. If you regard someone judging you as a customer instead of a judge, the expectation of fairness goes away. The author of a good novel wouldn't complain that readers were unfair for preferring a potboiler with a racy cover. Stupid, perhaps, but not unfair.
Our early training and our self-centeredness combine to make us believe that every judgement of us is about us. In fact most aren't. This is a rare case where being less self-centered will make people more confident. Once you realize how little most people judging you care about judging you accurately—once you realize that because of the normal distribution of most applicant pools, it matters least to judge accurately in precisely the cases where judgement has the most effect—you won't take rejection so personally.
doing in lileks
The Star-Tribune has taken away James Lileks' column and sent him off to cover local news. Hugh Hewitt notes:
Let's see. Your circulation is crashing. The value of your paper has plummeted. Everyone in the industry recognizes that the the future is online, and most realize that the byline has become the brand and that writers with followings will be a crucial part of the rescue of the bottom line.
So what does the Minneapolis Star Tribune do?
I kid you not: They kill Lileks' column and send him to report news. Visit www.lileks.com for details.
Imagine The New Yorker asking E.B. White to manage the restaurant listings. Envision the Los Angeles Times dropping Jim Murray from Sports and sending him to cover county governemnt. Think about the San Francisco Chronicle assigning Herb Caen to the police blotter. It is that level stupid.
For those unfamiliar with Lileks' wonderful writer's touch, visit his website.
sunday, may 6, 2007
George Tenet has a very mixed legacy. On the one hand, he presided over the two biggest intelligence failures of this era -- Sept. 11 and the WMD debacle in Iraq. On the other hand, his CIA did devise and carry out brilliantly an astonishingly bold plan to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan. Tenet might have just left it at that, gone home with his Presidential Medal of Freedom and let history judge him.
Instead, he's decided to do some judging of his own. In his just-released book, and while hawking it on television, Tenet presents himself as a pathetic victim and scapegoat of an administration that was hellbent on going to war, slam dunk or not.
Tenet writes as if he assumes no one remembers anything. For example: "There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat."
Does he think no one remembers President Bush explicitly rejecting the imminence argument in his 2003 State of the Union address in front of just about the largest possible world audience? Said the president, " Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent" -- and he was not one of them. That in a post-Sept. 11 world, we cannot wait for tyrants and terrorists to gentlemanly declare their intentions. Indeed, elsewhere in the book Tenet concedes that very point: "It was never a question of a known, imminent threat; it was about an unwillingness to risk surprise."
It was the same CIA that was responsible for Clinton bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by accident.
No wonder the Department of Defense wanted another set of eyes. Thus Donald Rumsfeld had Douglas Feith working on a parallel track. Feith writes:
Mr. Tenet resents that the CIA was criticized for its work on Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, in particular, Iraq's relationship with al Qaeda. On this score he is especially angry at Vice President Dick Cheney, at Mr. Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, at Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and at me -- I was the head of the Defense Department's policy organization. Mr. Tenet devotes a chapter to the matter of Iraq and al Qaeda, giving it the title: "No Authority, Direction or Control." The phrase implies that we argued that Saddam exercised such powers -- authority, direction and control -- over al Qaeda. We made no such argument.
Rather we said that the CIA's analysts were not giving serious, professional attention to information about ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. The CIA's assessments were incomplete, nonrigorous and shaped around the dubious assumption that secular Iraqi Baathists would be unwilling to cooperate with al Qaeda religious fanatics, even when they shared strategic interests. This assumption was disproved when Baathists and jihadists became allies against us in the post-Saddam insurgency, but before the war it was the foundation of much CIA analysis.
Mr. Tenet's account of all this gives the reader no idea of the substance of our critique, which was that the CIA's analysts were suppressing information. They were not showing policy makers reports that justified concern about ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. Mr. Tenet does tell us that the CIA briefed Mr. Cheney on Iraq and al Qaeda in September 2002 and that the "briefing was a disaster" because "Libby and the vice president arrived with such detailed knowledge on people, sources, and timelines that the senior CIA analytic manager doing the briefing that day simply could not compete." He implies that there was improper bullying but then adds: "We weren't ready for this discussion."
This is an abject admission. He is talking about September 2002 -- a year after 9/11! This was the month that the president brought the Iraq threat before the United Nations General Assembly. This was several weeks after I took my staff to meet with Mr. Tenet and two-dozen or so CIA analysts to challenge the quality of the agency's work on Iraq and al Qaeda.
Finally, there's Christopher Hitchens:
...the only really interesting question is why the president did not fire this vain and useless person on the very first day of the war. Instead, he awarded him a Presidential Medal of Freedom! Tenet is now so self-pitying that he expects us to believe that he was "not at all sure that [he] really wanted to accept" this honor.
dirty harry smacked down by hometown paper
They refer to him as "Harry Reid, D-Vichy." Ouch.
...that the Democrats are racing to get some money into the pipeline so the troops don't run out of ammo is a good thing. Their reasons are more cynical political calculus than patriotism -- they know that declaring the war lost, pulling out and leaving the Iraqis to suffer a massive bloodbath does not play well in the polls.
Remember, challenger Ned Lamont might have won his primary among left-wing Connecticut Democratic zealots last summer, but his "surrender with honor" platform promptly went down to undignified defeat at the hands of pro-war (Democrat-turned-Independent) Sen. Joseph Lieberman in the autumn general elections.
So the strategy of Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Vichy, has been to go through the motions of "trying to cut off funding for the war" so they can tell the Neville Chamberlain branch of their own constituency, "We gave it our best shot" -- all the while with no intention on God's green earth of ever really seeing it happen.
This is good, because (as President Bush has rightly pointed out) announcing to the enemy the date fixed on which you intend to surrender is not exactly a recipe for victory, or even for bolstering your own troops' morale while undermining the other guys.
What's ludicrous is that the Democrats in Washington still insist they're "trying to end the war" -- by which they mean they will now agree to a set of nonbinding, face-saving, endlessly re-interpretable "security benchmarks" that supposedly have to be met if the president wants to keep his forces in Babylon.
reading between the lines in turkey
ISTANBUL Bulent and Dogu are easygoing young Turks and unlikely authoritarians. Bulent just returned from the hippie trail in Southeast Asia, and Dogu's son is named Cosmos. But when the military recently threatened to settle Turkey's disputed presidential elections, they approved, suggesting just how hard it is to sort Turks into familiar political categories.
"Someone needs to threaten them," Dogu said. "They've gone too far."
By "they," he meant the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, which has governed Turkey for the past four years under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and which is (depending upon whom you talk to) either the hopeful face of a new moderate Islam or the moderate face of radical Islam's new hope.
By "too far," Dogu meant the AKP had chosen one of its own -- Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul -- to be the next Turkish president. Last Tuesday, Turkey's staunchly secular Constitutional Court agreed, declaring the first round of presidential voting void on the grounds that there was no parliamentary quorum when the vote for Gul took place. Of course there wasn't: The opposition had boycotted the ballot, knowing it didn't have enough votes to win.
"I don't want someone who wears a headscarf in the presidential palace," Dogu said, referring to Gul's wife. "It's okay if it's an Anatolian headscarf. But I don't want them wearing Arab headscarves."
Anatolian Turks wear headscarves because that's what they've always worn, he means to say -- but an Arab headscarf is a political headscarf, and he believes that the AKP won't be satisfied until every woman in Turkey is under one. (Note also the crucial nationalist sentiment: We Turks are not Arabs, who are backward and primitive.)
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the Turkish Republic in 1923, imposed a particularly strict secularism on Turkish society, banning religion from the public sphere. In recent weeks, demonstrators have taken to the streets in massive numbers in support of Kemalist secularism. Westerners watching the footage may be tempted to sigh with approval, imagining this as an outpouring of sympathy with liberal Enlightenment values.
They would be mistaken.
saturday, may 5, 2007
"reality based communities"
Captains Quarters dissects a Rasmussen poll and finds plenty of Bush Derangement Syndrome:
Democrats in America are evenly divided on the question of whether George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure.
Republicans reject that view and, by a 7-to-1 margin, say the President did not know in advance about the attacks. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 18% believe the President knew and 57% take the opposite view.
"it ain't my first rodeo"
Fred Thompson interviewed on BreitbartTV.
"I'm not interested in being the tallest midget in the room."
"conquistadors on the beach"
The Economist looks at the astonishing rise of Spain's economy and potential troubles ahead:
...Spanish companies' overseas adventure has been boosted by the transformation of their home economy from an also-ran into one of the star performers of the European Union. That 14-year domestic expansion has, in turn, been buoyed by low interest rates and a construction and property boom that shows signs of suddenly receding. Does this mean Spain's new global champions will find themselves beached?
As if in defiance of last week's 3% plunge in Spain's stockmarket—caused by property worries—its firms have continued their global advance: Telefónica, already the world's fifth-largest telecoms firm (and Europe's largest doing both fixed and mobile telephony), moved to become a big shareholder in Telecom Italia (see article). It already has a string of overseas businesses in Latin America and Britain. And a subsidiary of Metrovacesa, a Spanish property company, bought the Canary Wharf headquarters of HSBC, a banking group, for £1.1 billion ($2.2 billion)—the biggest-ever single-property deal in Britain
Property prices are still rising in Spain, but the rate of increase is slowing. The housing market represents about half the total construction work. Much of the property is bought as second homes by the Spanish and by other Europeans, who move to Spain to enjoy the climate or to holiday and retire there. A lot of the market is speculative. So far there has been no sign of mortgage defaults hurting banks, as with the collapse in the “subprime” lending market in America, which was also fuelled by easy credit.
what everybody knows
There are a lot of things that "everybody knows." Everybody knows that Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth, that 2+2=4, that most people have two eyes—and a lot of other things. If I were to go on, it would get tedious very fast, because, after all, these are things that everybody knows.
But there are also a lot of other things that "everybody knows," except that not everybody agrees that everybody knows them. For example, everybody knows not only that there has been significant global warming recently, but also that human beings caused this by burning fossil fuels. We know that evolution is as solidly proven as most of the rest of science, and that intelligent design isn't science at all; that Iraq never had any weapons of mass destruction (after they destroyed them); and that the U.S. government had nothing to do with the destruction of the World Trade Center. Except that, for each of these things "we all know," significant minorities insist that they're false.
Those dissenters, however, don't matter much when it comes to most journalism, reference, and education. Society forges ahead, reporting and teaching things without usually mentioning the dissenters, or only in a disparaging light. As a result, certain claims that some of us don't accept end up being background knowledge, as I'll call it. If you question such background knowledge, or even express some doubt about it, you'll look stupid, crazy, or immoral. Maybe all three.
To be able to determine society's background knowledge—to establish what "we all know"—is an awesome sort of power. This power can shape legislative agendas, steer the passions of crowds, educate whole generations, direct reading habits, and tar as radical or nutty whole groups of people who otherwise might seem perfectly normal. Exactly how this power is wielded and who wields it constitutes what we might call "the politics of knowledge." The politics of knowledge has changed tremendously over the years. In the Middle Ages, we were told what we knew by the Church; after the printing press and the Reformation, by state censors and the licensers of publishers; with the rise of liberalism in the 19th and 20th centuries, by publishers themselves, and later by broadcast media—in any case, by a small, elite group of professionals.
But we are now confronting a new politics of knowledge, with the rise of the Internet and particularly of the collaborative Web—the Blogosphere, Wikipedia, Digg, YouTube, and in short every website and type of aggregation that invites all comers to offer their knowledge and their opinions, and to rate content, products, places, and people. It is particularly the aggregation of public opinion that instituted this new politics of knowledge. In the 90s, lots of people posted essays on their personal home pages, put up fan websites, and otherwise "broadcasted themselves." But what might have been merely vain and silly a decade ago is now, thanks to aggregation of various sorts, a contribution to an online mass movement. The collected content and ratings resulting from our individual efforts give us a sort of collective authority that we did not have ten years ago.
MR. PENNER, MEET MS. DANIELS
by Burt Prelutsky
Living in L.A., as I do, I don’t have wonderful choices when it comes to my local newspapers. There’s the parochial Daily News, which focuses its attention on the San Fernando Valley. This is fine, if you happen to be more interested in the war on potholes than the war on Islamic terrorism.
The alternative rag is the L.A. Times. They slant the news so far to the left, the words almost slide off the page. A person could easily jump to the conclusion that the entire editorial board cut their teeth on Pravda and the Daily Worker. Instead of parroting the party line for Joseph Stalin, they now carry the water for the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
Speaking of the Senate’s Majority Leader, wouldn’t you think that instead of simply announcing that America has lost the war in Iraq, thus simultaneously lending aid and comfort to Al Qaeda and pulling the rug out from under our troops, he’d have made it a sporting proposition? I mean, even if his scummy behavior didn’t put you in mind of Benedict Arnold, Marshal Ferdinand Foch and Vidkun Quisling, wouldn’t you think that the man who owes his seat in the U.S. Senate to Nevada’s gambling interests, would at least have said, “The odds are seven-to-five that we’ve lost in Iraq”?
The Times is so politically correct that a hiring memo that was made public a few years ago indicated that the paper not only wanted to make certain that racial minorities be moved to the head of the line, but that gays and lesbians also be given preference.
Still, I must confess I was taken aback the other day when I opened the sports section to find an article by Times writer Mike Penner, 49, which began: “I am a transsexual sports writer. It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words.”
Mr. Penner went on to state that he’d be taking a two week vacation, and when he returned he’d be Ms. Christine Daniels.
As forthcoming as he was, he neglected to mention how he intended to spend the fortnight. Although one might presume he was going in for the sort of surgery I’d rather not think about, it’s possible he’ll merely spend the time shopping for a new wardrobe. He also failed to mention why he was changing not only his first name, but his last. I also wanted to know how his wife took the news, or whether they have children, who will have to remember to buy two gifts this Mother’s Day.
I even tried to imagine how my own wife would react to such news, but all I could come up with were gales of laughter, followed by a deadly serious “Don’t you even look at my shoes!”
According to the Times, most of the response from readers has been overwhelmingly positive. I’m not sure if that means they’re extremely compassionate human beings or just plain goofy.
For my part, being of a suspicious nature, I found myself wondering if Mike Penner was working a scam. After all, the Times, which has lost hundreds of thousands of subscribers since 2000, has been firing staff at a rate that must be nightmarish for those fortunate few still drawing a salary. So, what if this is just a clever career move? What if Mr. Penner is no more a transsexual than Alec Baldwin is, but figured if he claimed to be one, the PC bosses down at 2nd and Spring Street would never dare cut him, you should excuse the expression, from the paper.
friday, may 4, 2007
costco sells mexican coke
mullahs advertise for nukes
Among the surreal events becoming ever more frequent in the nuclear showdown with Iran was the appearance of an ad last week in the International Herald Tribune, inviting bids to build "Two Large Scale Nuclear Power Plants in Iran."
The ad ran in all editions of the paper, which is owned by the New York Times, and reaches more than 240,000 readers in more than 180 countries. Somehow this outrageous solicitation escaped the notice of major world media. That's remarkable, at a time when Iran has been flagrantly defying United Nations Security Council resolutions calling on Tehran to halt its nuclear bomb program - with both the U.N. and U.S. Treasury calling for a freeze on the assets worldwide of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, on behalf of which the ad was placed.
The ad did get noticed in Israel, a country that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he would like to see wiped off the map. Bloggers picked up the story, and a scanned version of the ad began circulating, with commentary, on the Internet. It smacked of Iranian nose-thumbing so extreme one had to wonder if it was a spoof.
what, me worry?
Large numbers of jurors being screened for the trial of Jose Padilla aren't sure who's responsible for 9/11.
“There are too many ifs, too many things going on,” one male juror said. “I don’t know the whole story.”
Others say they just don’t pay close enough attention to world events to be certain.
“I’m oblivious to that stuff,” one prospective female juror said during questioning this week. “I don’t watch the news much. I try to avoid it.”
“I’ve been surprised at the number of our jurors who don’t have an opinion about 9/11,” U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, who is presiding over the case and asks most of the juror questions, said Wednesday.
I suppose these potential jurors also remain unconvinced that the “Osama” who took credit for the attacks—and who keeps showing on audio and videotapes from time to time—is anything more than a CIA agent in a fake beard, and that subsequent attacks, be they in Madrid, or London, or Iraq, have also been part of a grand conspiracy cooked up in order to, what?—drive gas prices up to $3.00 a gallon? Create a huge partisan rift in the US? Who, exactly, is pulling the strings? Umberto Eco?
He quotes blogger Ace of Spades:
If Padilla gets off not because of insufficient evidence but because of OJ Jurors who are determined to acquit because they believe in fantastical conspiracy theroies, the blame can be laid at the feet of John Kerry, Howard Dean, Michael Moore and the rest of the crew pandering to conspiracy schizophrenics.
They’ve had chances to repudiate these lunacies. Instead, they’ve encouraged them.
Which, while true, is difficult to blame them for: when your entire base is controlled by batshit loonies and conspiracy mongers; when your public “intellectuals” and academics are convinced that the President is trying to “shred the Constitution” and assert “unprecedented Executive power” so that he can turn the US into a theocratic police state; and when the only way you can gain power, given our current primary system, is to finesse your message in such a way that it appeals to such a constituency; then you either have to pander, or else stand up to your base and try to talk them back from the abyss.
For your efforts, you’re likely to find yourself in blackface, or excommunicated from the “progressive movement.” Which is of course precisely what any principled leader would choose.
But c’mon: we’re talking about the freakin’ Democrats.
a cruel condition
One of my jobs around the house is to load and run the dishwasher. I believe I do this job very successfully. The other day, I loaded both racks, top and bottom, according to a special method that I have. Then I turned the machine on. As a result of some mishap, during the wash cycle a number of the dishes were broken, including a serving dish with a pattern of leaves and olives which my wife had particularly liked. While unloading the dishwasher, she discovered the breakage, and she brought the pieces of the dish to show me. I expressed sympathy and then began to describe my method of dishwasher loading. This did not make much headway with her, because she disagrees with my method and in fact has asked me several times not to use it. I kept trying to explain, and in the course of the discussion just for a second she lost control and said something hurtful and unkind. I will not go into details, except to say that she referred to me as an “idiot” (quotation marks mine).
O.K.; point taken.
Based on some of the things I do and their consequences, her characterization of me is not inaccurate, as far as it goes. What I object to isn’t so much that as the terminology employed. Quite simply, “idiot” is not a nice word to call somebody, and I find myself asking, as Mr. Welch did of Senator Joseph McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” Throughout my life, I have had to struggle to keep from thinking of myself in the limiting way that word implies. So, for the record, I would like it known that I am not an “idiot.” I am a person who suffers from idiocy. Nobody knows what it is like to deal with crippling bouts of idiocy while trying to lead a normal life. The last thing I need is for somebody to make it harder by pointing out what an “idiot” I am.
age against the machine
Atul Gawande is a third generation surgeon and the author of Complications, a wonderful book about the practice od medicine. In the New Yorker, he writes about the physiology of getting old and the lack of geriatric specialists to deal with onslaught of gray boomers.
...as the defects in a complex system increase, the time comes when just one more defect is enough to impair the whole, resulting in the condition known as frailty. It happens to power plants, cars, and large organizations. And it happens to us: eventually, one too many joints are damaged, one too many arteries calcify. There are no more backups. We wear down until we can’t wear down anymore.
It happens in a bewildering array of ways. Hair grows gray, for instance, simply because we run out of the pigment cells that give hair its color. The natural life cycle of the scalp’s pigment cells is just a few years. We rely on stem cells under the surface to migrate in and replace them. Gradually, however, the stem-cell reservoir is used up. By the age of fifty, as a result, half of the average person’s hairs have gone gray.
Inside skin cells, the mechanisms that clear out waste products slowly break down and the muck coalesces into a clot of gooey yellow-brown pigment known as lipofuscin. These are the age spots we see in skin. When lipofuscin accumulates in sweat glands, the sweat glands cannot function, which helps explain why we become so susceptible to heat stroke and heat exhaustion in old age.
The eyes go for different reasons. The lens is made of crystallin proteins that are tremendously durable, but they change chemically in ways that diminish their elasticity over time—hence the farsightedness that most people develop beginning in their fourth decade. The process also gradually yellows the lens. Even without cataracts (the whitish clouding of the lens caused by excessive ultraviolet exposure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cigarette smoking, and other unhelpful conditions), the amount of light reaching the retina of a healthy sixty-year-old is one-third that of a twenty-year-old.
Read it all.
gideon checked out, and he left it's no doubt...
...to make room for Al Gore's scripture.
Visitors to the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa won't find the Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. Instead, on the bureau will be a copy of ``An Inconvenient Truth,'' former Vice President Al Gore's book about global warming.
They'll also find the Gaia equipped with waterless urinals, solar lighting and recycled paper as it marches toward becoming California's first hotel certified as ``green,'' or benevolent to the environment. Similar features are found 35 miles south at San Francisco's Orchard Garden Hotel, which competes for customers with neighboring luxury hotels like the Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont.
laurie: curb your enthusiasm
Laurie David, globe trotting (via private jet) prophet of planetary doom, was interviewed the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.
2. What was it like to work with Al Gore?
By the time I was done working with him, I was begging him to adopt me. He's like a father figure to me, one of my heroes. He's so charming and lovely and smart and funny. He makes fun of himself; he's got a great sense of humor. He's dry and he laughs at other people's jokes.
Laughs at other people's jokes -- imagine that!
5. What changes have you made in your own life?
I don't believe everyone has to do everything. I don't do everything. It's about everyone doing something. I have changed as many lightbulbs as I could to (higher efficiency) bulbs. I started a new idling rule at the school carpool lane (cars dropping and picking up kids can't idle their engines more than 30 seconds). I bring a garment bag to the dry cleaners (instead of having the dry cleaners wrap her clothes in petroleum-based plastic). I drive a hybrid.
Quite a sacrifice, all that.
thursday, may 3, 2007
hat not in ring, but fred's voice is ringing
Fred Thompson is running a smart non-campaign campaign. He keeps a low profile and but keeps gets his poltical views out there via smart commentary. His latest:
You might have read the stories about filmmaker Michael Moore taking ailing workers from Ground Zero in Manhattan to Cuba for free medical treatments. According to reports, he filmed the trip for a new movie that bashes America for not having government-provided health care.
Now, I have no expectation that Moore is going to tell the truth about Cuba or health care. I defend his right to do what he does, but Moore’s talent for clever falsehoods has been too well documented. Simply calling his movies documentaries rather than works of fiction, I think, may be the biggest fiction of all.
While this PR stunt has obviously been successful — here I am talking about it — Moore’s a piker compared to Fidel Castro and his regime. Moore just parrots the story they created — one of the most successful public relations coups in history. This is the story of free, high quality Cuban health care.
The truth is that Cuban medical care has never recovered from Castro’s takeover — when the country’s health care ranked among the world’s best. He won the support of the Cuban people by promising to replace Batista’s dictatorship with free elections, and to end corruption. Once in power, though, he made himself dictator and instituted Soviet-style Communism. Cubans not only failed to regain their democratic rights, their economy plunged into centrally planned poverty.
As many as half of Cuba’s doctors fled almost immediately — and defections continue to this day. Castro won’t allow observers in to monitor his nation’s true state, but defectors tell us that many Cubans live with permanent malnutrition and long waits for even basic medical services. Many treatments we take for granted aren’t available at all — except to the Communist elite or foreigners with dollars.
i knew charles de gaulle, and you're no...
The woman seeking to become France's first female president erupted in anger toward the end of the prime-time duel with conservative Nicolas Sarkozy.
It was surprising - and potentially damaging - that Royal, not Sarkozy, proved quick to anger. During their bitter election campaign, the Socialist has sought to portray her conservative rival as too unstable, too brutal, to lead the nuclear-armed nation.
In front of millions of television viewers, Sarkozy turned the tables. Royal got furious when he started talking about handicapped children, saying he was "playing" with the issue. "I am very angry," she said.
"You become unhinged very easily, Madame," said Sarkozy. "To be president of the republic, one must be calm. ... I don't know why Mrs. Royal, who's usually calm, has lost her calm."
"the big one" is coming
Scientists have finally figured out what might have caused a series of devastating earthquakes that struck the Midwest nearly 200 years ago at a set of faults that has confused geologists for a long time.
And the results suggest the region, still seismically active today, is going to keep shaking for a long time, and another big one will hit on the same 500-year cycle that has rocked the Heartland for as far back as records, legends and memory serve.
The largest of three or four big seismic events that stretched from December 1811 to February 1812 is called the New Madrid Earthquake and had an estimated 8.0 magnitude, strong enough to cause the nearby Mississippi River to temporarily flow backward. Its epicenter was in the town of New Madrid in southeast Missouri, near the Kentucky and Tennessee state lines. Hundreds of aftershocks followed for several years.
So the entire Democratic caucus in the United States Senate — 50 senators — has sent a letter to the Washington Post attacking the dean of the Washington press corps, David Broder, for a column in which Mr. Broder dared to criticize their leader for his preemptive surrender to the terrorists in Iraq. "We, the members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, contest the attack on Sen. Harry Reid's leadership by David S. Broder in his April 26 column," the letter says. "In contrast to Mr. Broder's insinuations, we believe Mr. Reid is an extraordinary leader who has effectively guided the new Democratic majority through these first few months with skill and aplomb."
Mr. Broder's offense? The Pulitzer-prize winning columnist and reporter, 77, wrote a column criticizing the Democratic leader in the Senate, Mr. Reid, for Mr. Reid's comment that the Iraq war "is lost." Mr. Reid, Mr. Broder wrote "is assuredly not a man who misses many opportunities to put his foot in his mouth. In 2005, he attacked Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, as ‘one of the biggest political hacks we have here in Washington.'" Wrote Mr. Broder, " Reid's verbal wanderings on the war in Iraq are consequential — not just for his party and the Senate but for the more important question of what happens to U.S. policy in that violent country and to the men and women whose lives are at stake." The New York Sun publishes the column today on the adjacent page.
For this Mr. Broder won a rebuke not only from the senators but from the New York Times's Frank Rich, who ridiculed Mr. Broder in his column Sunday and who defended as "obvious" Mr. Reid's assessment that the war is lost. The episode illuminates how thin-skinned and intolerant the left is in this country of a press corps that is anything less than completely pliant. It began with the Democratic presidential candidates refusing to participate in a presidential debate that would be aired on the Fox News Channel, a network so reflexively right-wing that its regular paid contributors include Michael Dukakis's campaign manager Susan Estrich, National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, and the 2006 Democratic candidate for Senate in Tennessee, Harold Ford Jr. First they came for Fox News Channel, then they came for David Broder.
Girlie men, every one of 'em.
Why are the Democrats doing this?
Instead of trying to come up with ideas to help they try to halt the sincere effort to stabilize Iraq and rescue the Middle East from a catastrophe.
I am Iraqi and to me the possible consequences of this vote are terrifying. Just as we began to see signs of progress in my country the Democrats come and say ‘well, it’s not worth it, so it’s time to leave’.
Evidently to them my life and the lives of twenty five million Iraqis are not worth trying for and they shouldn’t expect us to be grateful for this.
For four years everybody made mistakes; the administration made mistakes and admitted them and my people and leaders made mistakes as well and we regret them.
But now we have a fresh start; a new strategy with new ideas and tactics reached after studying previous mistakes and designed to reverse the setbacks we witnessed in the course of this war.
laugh about it, shout about it...
...when you've got to choose, Ev'ry way you look at it, you lose.
Ann Coulter comments on the Democrat presidential debate:
Obama was asked to name "America's three most important allies around the world" -- a question rejected as "too easy" on Fox's new game show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" Any politically savvy 11-year-old could have named Britain, Australia and Israel.
B. Hussein Obama answered: "the European Union." Which is (a) not a country, and (b) not an ally.
What was his next guess? Epcot Center?
In addition to not being a country, the "European Union" happens to be composed of people who hate our guts. It is the continent where Moveon.org-style lunatics are the friendly, pro-American types and the rest are crazy Muslims.
Obama did eventually mention Japan as an ally -- along with China and Afghanistan -- which would have been a better answer to the question: "Who are America's four or five most important allies?" But at least he named a country that could conceivably be called "an ally."
Of course, it took Obama less time to remember an American ally than it took John Edwards to remember Jesus. Edwards was asked who his "moral leader" was -- and he was stuck for an answer.
I had time to shout "Jesus" at the TV 20 times, exhaust myself, and have a sandwich before Edwards finally coughed up "mah lowrd." Even then it appeared that Edwards was not actually naming the Savior but exclaiming, "Mah lowrd, that's a tough question!"
In fairness to Edwards, asking a trial lawyer to name his favorite moral leader is like asking the president of Iran to name his favorite Jew. (Answer: George Soros.) If you're keeping score, that's two major religions the Democrats lack a working knowledge of -- Christianity and Islam.
"blast furnaces of ostentatious compassion"
A year ago Mark Helprin summed up the illegal immigration as well as it could be.
When nations in decline are assaulted from without, even if gently or only rhetorically, they often lose not only the will to defend but the capacity to do so sensibly. They turn upon themselves in fits of self-destruction marked by truncated, simplistic and merely assertive disputation. Illegal immigration, an external pressure, brings forth arguments of this type.
Each party to the immigration debate seems to know only a single truth. One faction says that it is a mistake to conflate illegal immigration with terrorist infiltration: Of the many millions of illegal crossings only a handful are made by people of even suspect origin, and therefore the borders should remain porous. Apart from the non sequitur, this takes no account of the fact that terrorists by the handful are effective; that if one border is open, traffic blocked at the others will flow to it; and that if a nation hasn't the will to control its frontiers, and thereby disestablishes them, its sovereignty will deflate.
Not a single illegal immigrant should or need enter the United States, not one. Contrary to the common wisdom, the borders are easy to seal, and controlling entry is hardly totalitarian. This is not the same as the question of how much immigration to allow, an important matter rightly the political decision of the whole people rather than of a febrile militia of Willie Nelson look-alikes or the purposeful inefficiency of a fence. And lest the government nurture a parallel and unrepresentative authority, it would best attend to its responsibilities and displace the armed geezers who have stepped in where it has failed, though to do so with the military is wrong on half a dozen counts.
This spring's "pro-immigration" marches attempted lamely to confuse legal and illegal immigration. Of course everyone in the New World is an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants, and immigrants have built America and continue to do so. Legal or illegal, they are almost universally good people who work to better their lot and that of their children. That is not, however, license either for illegal entry or America's failure to have an immigration policy except by unregulated default.
Businesses large and small, careerists with Latin nannies, and those who want wages low, the unions suppressed and their gardens well tended have made common cause with their political opposites. The latter, who have embraced multiculturalism and bilingualism, and who, though they may be little blast furnaces of ostentatious compassion, are in their disdain for America as ruthless as commissars, would be delighted to see it changed any which way as long as it becomes unrecognizable. If you worry about the potential for California and the Southwest to calve like melting glaciers and cleave to Mexico, or vice versa, the left will mock your distress as it once mocked and reviled anticommunism. And in the same vein the equanimity of the business right is similar to the self-satisfaction of those who would have sold Lenin the rope with which he planned to hang them. This is the lobby, strange as it may seem, for illegal immigration.
wednesday, may 2, 2007
Today is Equal Pay Day, the day when -- among other things -- Democratic presidential candidates send us press releases demanding equal pay for men and women.
And Barack Obama seems to have scrambled to attach his name to the two pending pieces of legislation on the issue, in time to release his own stern statement (after the jump).
Obama's Senate spokesman, Ben LaBolt, said the Senator signed on to Tom Harkin's Fair Pay Act and Hillary Clinton's Paycheck Fairness Act today, though the sponsorship doesn't yet show up in the Library of Congress database.
So Obama is joining other Dem Congs in advocating government control over paychecks. Somehow, these busybodies think bureaucrats can better decide pay scales than the free market.
To think these are the people whining about a loss of civil liberties!
Please, someone buy a copy of The Wisdom of Crowds for this crowd.
And would someone explain why, if employers hire illegals to get a bargain on labor, they wouldn't hire women if they are truly working for discounted wages?
Asharq Alawsat writes about the 172 terrorists captured by the Saudis last week:
The hellish plot of the terrorist groups caught by Saudi security forces proves that these groups have no patriotic or religious goals and that their only mission is to disrupt peaceful communities causing death amongst them and loss of livelihood.
How else can one explain a group of people flying airplanes to destroy the sites of oil facilities, which make up the source of income for an entire community? What is the moral or religious justification for such a despicable act?
That's what we've been wondering, too.
heart attack deaths cut in half
Deaths from severe heart attack after hospital admission halved in the six years since 1999, a new study shows.
The encouraging findings are due to improved drug and more effective surgical interventions, the international team of researchers says.
bill frist cleared, but what about harry?
The M.D.'s meticulously kept e-mails provided the Securities and Exchange Commission with ironclad documentation of his innocence, showing that he began selling shares in the Tennessee-based chain of hospitals founded by his father and brother long before HCA's subpar earnings in the second quarter of 2005. His sold for the most principled of reasons: to avoid any hint of conflict of interest in handling health care legislation in the U.S. Senate.
The shady improprieties of the current Senate majority leader are another story altogether. In 2004, Reid got $1.1 million — three times what he paid for it — for residential property on the outskirts of Las Vegas even though he had not owned the land for three years.
The mastermind behind Reid's sweet deal was one Jay Brown, who brags he's been Reid's friend "for over 35 years." The one-time casino lawyer's name has been connected to federal probes of organized crime and political bribery going back to the 1980s.
Brown's scheme worked this way: Reid bought the land in 1998 from a developer and beneficiary of a federal land deal Reid supported. In 2001, Reid "transferred" the land at cost to a corporate entity established by Brown, not bothering to include it on his required yearly ethics report, and misleading Congress that he still owned the property. Brown then got local authorities to rezone the land for commercial use and sold it, slipping Reid a cool million and change.
the writing on the wall
Tony Blankley deftly sums up the differing world views between conservatives and liberals:
For those of us who support the great struggle against radical Islam, the world reality could not be plainer. The threat of radical Islam is not merely a few thousand terrorists using small explosives to kill a few dozen people at a time -- usually in the faraway Middle East. Rather, it is an historic recrudescence of a violent, conquering old tradition of Islam that almost overwhelmed the world from the Seventh Century until as recently as the 17th century. It is radicalizing the minds of increasing numbers of the world's 1.4 billion Muslims to be very aggressive culturally, as well as violent -- from Africa to Indonesia, to Cairo to Ankara, to Paris, to Rotterdam to London to Falls Church, Va.
Funded by Saudi petro-dollars, it is capable of acting on a worldwide scale and will eventually get its hands on biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. While it probably will not be able to find sufficient unity to form a caliphate, it clearly has the capacity and intent to create violent chaos, to wreak digital havoc on our computer-based world economy and to intimidate western governments to give up the very values and methods that have made our civilization so vibrant and free. Free speech in Europe is already being curtailed to protect radical Islam from even verbal criticism. The flying Imams' lawsuit attempts to intimidate American citizens from even reporting possible terrorist activity to the authorities. Iran's nuclear ambitions are being appeased. How dare the media call it "Bush's War on Terror"? It's our war -- and it was started by the radical Islamists -- not by us. Where will it all stop?
To us, no fair and objective assessment of the state of radical Islam can deny these implications. One must not see the denouement of the Iraq War outside that context. To those who disagree with our view of reality, we are quite ready to impute anything from ignorance, to willful ignorance, to moral cowardice to treason. Those who disagree with us find our alarmism as noxious as we find their willful blindness to reality.
And so the debate stands. Every political decision -- from the Iraq war appropriation vote this week, to the Patriot Act, to the status of Guantanamo Prison, to NSA intercepts, to the presidential election -- is seen through our conceptual squint of the threat or non-threat from radical Islam.
Neither side seems remotely capable of persuading the other of the accuracy of our respective foresights. Two years ago, I wrote a book on the subject. I have talked to thousands and thousands in speeches and millions on radio and TV (as have so many authors these last five years). But the net effect seems to be to re-enforce the opinions of those who already share my view, rather than persuade others to change their mind.
Thus, while others and I will continue to make our case in public, it seems probably inevitable that the correctness or incorrectness of our views will only become persuasive to the multitude when history teaches its cruel, unavoidable lessons. It was ever thus, which is why history is strewed with broken nations and civilizations that couldn't read the writing on the wall. Of course, it is also strewed with sad hulks of false predictors of doom.
tuesday, may 1, 2007
Bush did not say "Mission Accomplished." He did say:
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world. Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment — yet it is you, the members of the United States military, who achieved it. Your courage — your willingness to face danger for your country and for each other — made this day possible. Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.
Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision, and speed, and boldness the enemy did not expect, and the world had not seen before. From distant bases or ships at sea, we sent planes and missiles that could destroy an enemy division, or strike a single bunker. Marines and soldiers charged to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile ground, in one of the swiftest advances of heavy arms in history. You have shown the world the skill and the might of the American Armed Forces.
This nation thanks all of the members of our coalition who joined in a noble cause. We thank the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland, who shared in the hardships of war. We thank all of the citizens of Iraq who welcomed our troops and joined in the liberation of their own country. And tonight, I have a special word for Secretary (Donald) Rumsfeld, for General (Tommy) Franks, and for all the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States: America is grateful for a job well done.
Indeed. The left and many Democrats predicted a quagmire in our effort to topple Saddam. One week into the campaign, when American soldiers were first captured, they were already pointing fingers, demanding to know who authored "the plan." That weekend's yap shows were all about "the plan" and it's perceived flaws.
This brought some satire from Mark Steyn:
After little more than a week, is this war coverage in trouble? Already questions are being raised about whether the media's plan was fatally flawed. Several analysts are surprised that, despite overwhelming dominance of the air, television and radio divisions have so quickly repeated the mistakes of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, on the ground, rapidly advancing columns become stalled in Vietnam-style quagmires around the second paragraph.
Speaking live from his armchair, General George S. Patton says, "Look, I'm just an armchair general, but, when I lean forward, pick up the remote and switch on the TV, it seems clear these media sonsofbitches pushed ahead too fast in the first 48 hours and then found their supply lines stretched far too thin. The supply of lines just wasn't getting through. OK, it's fun to write 'embedded' the first half-dozen times, and 'shock and awe', but then what? So the bastards got bogged down, then panicked and went into a complete reverse in a desperate manoeuvre to protect their rear.''
Returning now to Bush's speech about the carrier.
The character of our military through history — the daring of Normandy, the fierce courage of Iwo Jima, the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies — is fully present in this generation. When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength, and kindness, and good will. When I look at the members of the United States military, I see the best of our country, and I am honored to be your commander in chief.
In the images of fallen statues, we have witnessed the arrival of a new era. For a hundred years of war, culminating in the nuclear age, military technology was designed and deployed to inflict casualties on an ever-growing scale. In defeating Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, Allied Forces destroyed entire cities, while enemy leaders who started the conflict were safe until the final days. Military power was used to end a regime by breaking a nation. Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war. Yet it is a great advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.
Excellent points. Given the brilliant military victory, the commander-in-chief was delivering well-deserved attaboys.
As for the Mission Accomplished banner, General Tommy Franks said he had that posted, not to gloat or suggest the war was over, but because he thought a public announcement would send a green light to countries that had balked at joining combat operations but had expressed willingness to join efforts to rebuild Iraq.
The last word goes to Bush:
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. And then we will leave — and we will leave behind a free Iraq.
they really did say this
Senator Harry Reid: "We killed the Patriot Act."
Congressperson Nancy Pelosi (2005): "The war in Afghanistan is over."
Kurt Vonnegut hit his stride as a novelist when I was in college. I remember skipping classes so I could finish "Slaughterhouse Five." From that book, I came to believe that, without doubt, the Allied bombing of Dresden, Germany was a vicious act of revenge -- that we had bombed a city with no military value.
As Vonnegut wrote:
"The Dresden atrocity, tremendously expensive and meticulously planned, was so meaningless, finally, that only one person on the entire planet got any benefit from it. I am that person. I wrote this book, which earned a lot of money for me and made my reputation, such as it is. One way or another, I got two or three dollars for every person killed. Some business I’m in."
Now a few decades later I am able to understand a few things: a) Vonnegut was a morose man whose jaded worldview colored his presentation of facts and b) there's always a market for arguments which suggest the US was "just as bad" as the evil we helped defeat.
So I looked into the Dresden bombing via Wikipedia. Ordinarily, I avoid Wikipedia for controversial subjects. But, given the nature of Wikipedia to allow cross-arguments to refine its content, I figured it was a good starting place. As usual, the story is far more complicated. Some key points:
- Dresden was part of a bombing campaign on the eastern front to prevent German forces from redeploying as the Soviet Army advanced. Underestimating the German will to fight for a lost cause cost 89,987 American casualties in the Battle of the Bulge one month earlier.
- The Soviets lost 27 million people in WWII and killed 80 percent of the German army. They deserved all the help we could provide.
- Dresden was a legitimate military target.
- The firebombing was indeed horrific, creating temperatures of Fahrenheit 2700, causing such intense updrafts that people were sucked into the vortex
- The Nazis made use of Dresden in their propaganda efforts and promised swift retaliation. They inflated the number of dead.
- The Soviets also made propaganda use of the Dresden bombing in the early years of the Cold War to alienate the East Germans from the Americans and British.
There's much more on this debate, both pro- and con. What is undeniable is that Vonnegut provided a one-side, anti-American argument that no doubt stands as fact in the minds of many.
So it goes.
George Tenet is a man of passion. One of the things he is most passionate about is never seeing unflattering portrayals of himself in the press. Hence he managed to be the second-longest-serving CIA director in history, despite presiding over massive intelligence failures.
Tenet is livid over the frequent quoting of his statement in the Oval Office prior to the war that the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a "slam-dunk." Absent his saying those words -- or, presumably, them being reported -- Tenet says he might not have written his new book, "At the Center of the Storm." Alas, Tenet felt forced to take a $4 million advance for a book settling scores against his bureaucratic enemies and putting his failures in the best possible light. Poor, poor George.
Tenet doesn't dispute that he said "slam-dunk," although he doesn't remember saying it, displaying the Washington art of never recalling anything inconvenient. He says his remark was taken out of context, the other Washington dodge for anyone quoted saying something he wishes he hadn't.
Tenet maintains that he meant that strengthening the public case that Saddam Hussein had WMD was a slam-dunk, not the intelligence itself. This is a distinction with a difference only to someone trying to slither out of what he said. Actually, Bob Woodward correctly reported the context in his original account, noting that "the meeting was for presenting 'The Case' on WMD as it might be presented to a jury." Also, as Woodward writes, "a public case for war could hardly be a 'slam-dunk' if the CIA director did not believe that the underlying intelligence was also a 'slam-dunk.'"
sticks and stones
It bothers Americans when we're told how unpopular we are with the rest of the world. For some of us, at least, it gets our back up -- and our natural tendency is to tell the French, for example, that we'd rather not hear from them until the day when they need us to bail them out again.
But we cool off. We're big boys and girls, after all, and we don't really bruise that easily. We're also hopeful that, eventually, our ostrich-headed allies will realize there's a World War going on out there and they need to pick a side -- the choice being between the forces of civilization and the forces of anarchy. Considering the fact that the latter team is growing stronger and bolder daily, while most of our European Union friends continue to dismantle their defenses, that day may not be too long in coming.
In the meantime, let's be realistic about the world we live in. Mexican leaders apparently have an economic policy based on exporting their own citizens, while complaining about US immigration policies that are far less exclusionary than their own. The French jail perfectly nice people for politically incorrect comments, but scold us for holding terrorists at Guantanamo.
Russia, though, takes the cake. Here is a government apparently run by ex-KGB agents who have no problem blackmailing whole countries by turning the crank on their oil pipelines. They're not doing anything shady, they say. They can’t help it if their opponents are so notoriously accident-prone. Criticize these guys and you might accidentally drink a cup of tea laced with a few million dollars worth of deadly, and extremely rare, radioactive poison. Oppose the Russian leadership, and you could trip and fall off a tall building or stumble into the path of a bullet.
Wouldn't it be refreshing to have a president who said such things from the bully pulpit?
more boos for blair
... if ever we needed confirmation of the old saw that money cannot buy us happiness, the Blair years provide it.
As a society, despite all this cash, today we find ourselves troubled, divided, at a loss for purposes and values, profoundly dissatisfied.
Government policies have contributed decisively to the erosion of the family.
In Blair's Britain, a relationship can be whatever you choose to make it: same sex, ships passing in the night, single parenthood.
By far the easiest way for a teenage girl to get her own home is to become pregnant without the botheration of a ring or even a resident other half.
For all the deceits peddled by examination authorities, our children are costing more to learn less. A third of secondary school pupils have some record of truancy.
Most school-leavers are tossed exam certificates without achieving real skills in literacy and numeracy, never mind knowledge.
Our great universities have fallen victim to class-war football, with Gordon Brown the foremost government striker.
More and more unqualified teenagers from state schools are pushed towards Oxbridge, while private school pupils are deliberately excluded.
Excellence drains away. Under-funded British universities, subject to relentless government meddling, slip ever further behind their American counterparts.
In the workplace, the Government has promoted employee rights at the expense of a crippling impact on productivity, in which Britain slips ever further down on the global scale.
Public sector workers have prospered. Indeed, thanks to nice Mr Alan Johnson (when he was Pensions Minister), they are almost the only ones left who can look forward to a decent pension.
The economy is now frighteningly dependent on public sector jobs - non-productive ones, funded by the rest of us - to sustain employment.
Forget the chances of getting a manufacturing job in the East Midlands. We make less and less.
If you can't get work in the City of London, your best chance of finding a cushy billet in Blair's Britain is to become a disability guidance counsellor or equal opportunities monitoring manager. The country teems with such people, the vast swarm of New Labour drones.
If the economy falters even for a moment, you and I will struggle desperately to pay their wages through our taxes.
Local government has been progressively emasculated. Blair and his ministers trust no one outside their own tiny circle to make choices, to administer even a parish council.
Democracy has haemorrhaged in the past ten years. Our ability to exercise a real say about what is done is our own communities - even, as we have seen this week, to save our weekly rubbish collections - has been stripped away.
We get what Blair chooses to give us, with only a four-yearly national referendum, sometimes called a "General Election", to rubber-stamp government's all-embracing authority.
The Blair years have been a boom time for: Ann Summers sex shops (up from 13 to 134 since 1997); free Viagra; CCTV cameras; wind farms; John Prescott; Peter Mandelson; Cherie Blair's lecture income; the prison population; Alastair
Campbell; private security guards; sales of illegal drugs; binge- drinking; City salaries; Ken Livingstone; childhood obesity; and grossly incompetent management of the rail system.
The past decade has, by contrast, been a woeful time for personal freedoms. Forget, for a moment, the excesses of government anti-terrorist legislation.
There is something mad about any government which persecutes smokers to the point where they will shortly be banned even from private clubs, yet regards marijuana with far less hostility than cigarettes.
Labour whipped many more MPs into the House of Commons to ban fox-hunting than ever turn out to debate child cruelty.
...by global warming!
Mars is being hit by rapid climate change and it is happening so fast that the red planet could lose its southern ice cap, writes Jonathan Leake.
Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.
Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena.
Could that be true for our planet, too? Not if they can help it.
The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds.
In a paper published in the journal Nature, she suggests that such winds can stir up giant dust storms, trapping heat and raising the planet’s temperature.
These are suitable for framing, as they say, and work nicely in home or office. Some favorites include this yellow rose photograph with a single drop of milk, this photograph of a white rose half-submerged in chocolate or this Cherry Parfait rose photographed in closeup and given a heavenly glow. Blog