Saturday, June 15, 2002

It's the weekend so of course we are spending the last moments of our Saturday night imbibing Scotch and rereading the blog postings.

Honestly I had only a vague idea of what blogging was ten days ago. Now this site is my home page. It better be, because several times a day John asks me whether I've seen the latest blog entry. I know the names of other bloggers John & Max follow now (btw I have more degrees than Ms. Galt and our cats out-cute her dog any day, but she has a good site), and I may become a regular blog contributor here at some future date. So I just wanted to say, thanks for pulling me into this forum most excellent for the 21st century.

I leave you with two things about John: (1) He is always right. (2) He believes that minimization of personal energy output is the highest state to which man can aspire.

The children were my idea.
Speaking of Michael Lewis, everyone should check out his great series in Slate about being a new dad again. My youngest is almost 4 so my memories of this time are rapidly fading but it's always fun reading about it (as long as it's happening to someone else).
The Minuteman and Jane Galt also take on Prof. Krugman. I especially like the quote from the Minuteman:

“How many trees must die before Krugman’s space is given to Michael Lewis?”

Friday, June 14, 2002

There is a good Op-Ed in the WSJ today on the whole Jose Padilla issue. The author raises a couple of issues:

"The international law of armed conflict permits the victim of aggression to detain enemy combatants until hostilities are over. The purpose of the detention is not punitive, but rather to keep the enemy's operatives from returning to the fight. Libertarians must ask what would restrain runaway use of such power. Habeas corpus remains available in our courts, even in this unorthodox war. Congress has not taken the extraordinary step of suspending it, and the president has not asked them to. Habeas corpus allows a court to inquire into the authority by which any American citizen is detained, even an al Qaeda recruit. The courts will have occasion to confirm whether the president enjoys a constitutional power to detain American combatants in this new kind of war waged by nonstate actors."

I guess the big question is that if we are fighting an unconventional war where the enemy combatants don't wear uniforms but are obviously soldiers, what set of rules are the POW's going to be held to? Intuitively the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard seems to be too high in this type of case to me. This is war after all. If you think about it, the U.S. military has already sentenced many innocent civilians to death in Afghanistan, they couldn't have all been Taliban/Al Qaeda, and they didn't get due process. And I'm sure there must have been an American or 5 in there somewhere. I miss college. I could be an idealistic anarcho-capitalist and not worry about the details.
Boortz has a good piece on the unconstitutional detention of Jose Padilla and the slippery slope.
Didn't they used to sell glasses like this in the back of comic books?
Good WSJ Op-Ed on the current state of PC.
Here is a nice commentary in the National Post on the war.
The Best of the Web has a hilarious list of wimpy sounding team names:

Poca (W.Va.) Dots
Benson Mighty Bunnies, Omaha, Neb.
Key West (Fla.) Conchs
Dunbar Poets, Baltimore (California's Whittier College, Richard Nixon's alma mater, also calls its teams the Poets)
Effingham (Ill.) Flaming Hearts
Kensington (Kan.) Goldbugs
Teutopolis (Ill.) Wooden Shoes (the girls' teams are the Lady Shoes)
Jordan (Utah) Beetdiggers
Mount Clemens (Mich.) Battling Bathers
Fort Collins (Colo.) Lambkins
Hickman Kewpies, Columbia, Mo.
Rhode Island School of Design Nads (as in Go Nads!)
The main Krugman watchers haven't posted anything yet, so let me take a crack at it. Krugmans latest bash the rich article is based around a single statistic from a table in Kevin Phillips book "Wealth and Democracy" which says that the average pay for the top 10 CEO's in 2000 was $154mm versus an average of $3.5mm in 1981. The first misleading item is the word *pay*, in 1981 before the widespread use of stock options as compensation the $3.5mm average cited actually did represet *pay", ie. salary and bonus. During the 80's and 90's there was a widespread movement to make corporate directors more attuned to shareholder interests by making more of their compensation in the form of stock and stock options, directly linking their income to the performance of the stocks. This was an attempt to get around the well-known agency problem of having corporations run by "agents" of the actual owners who will tend to increase their own well being though perks and salaries at the expense of the shareholders. With that in mind lets examine the top 10 CEOs in a little more detail. You can see this info for yourself for the last 5 years on Forbes website. According to Forbes the top 10 CEO's in 2000 with their total *compensation* were:













rankCEOtotal comp ($thou)company
1 Charles B Wang 650,048 Computer Associates
2 Bobby R Johnson Jr 230,544 Foundry Networks
3 Mel Karmazin 201,939CBS
4 Millard Drexler 172,816 Gap
5 John T Chambers 121,700 Cisco Systems
6 Stephen M Case 117,090 America Online
7 Louis V Gerstner Jr 107,216 IBM
8 John F Welch Jr 106,855 General Electric
9 Reuben Mark 97,150 Colgate-Palmolive
10 Peter Karmanos Jr 87,521 Compuware

I actually get a average compensation of $188mm/CEO. Let's examine the compensation numbers in a little more detail however.












CEOSalaryBonusOtherStock Gains
Wang $1MM 3.6MM $645MMNA
Johnson $140K NA $230MMNA
Karmazin $1MM $3MM $2MM $195MM
Drexler $2.1MM $5.6MM $158MM $6.5MM
Chambers $300K $600K NA $120MM
Case $575K $1M $115MMNA
Gerstner $2MM $7.2MM $10MM $87MM
Welch $3.3MM $10MM $45MM $48MM
Reuben $1.2 $2.9MM $17MM $75MM
Carmanos $600K $1.6MMNA $85MM

Now the stock gains represent gains from sale of company stock which may have been held for any number of years. The "Other" category mostly represents gains from sale of granted stock options. Both of those were very high in 2000 because we were at the end of a 20 year bull market. If we just look at bonus and salaries the average for the 10 CEOs in 2000 was $4.7MM. Which in 1982 dollars using the current CPI of (179.5 1982 base=100) would have been $2.6MM or less than the then average quoted by Phillips as $3.5MM.

Now Krugman may think that CEOs unfairly inflated the stock prices or that there is something fundamentally wrong with compensating corporate managers based on their stock performances (presumably he would prefer it done Soviet-style, having compensation decided by some central government board), and he probably thinks that paying $4.7MM to CEOs is too much in a boom year (no mention of what Mr. Krugman makes through writing, speaking and other engagements but if the $50K he received from Enron is any indication he must make a fair piece of change himself). But to claim there is some vast, anti-egalitarian trend at work or as implied CEOs stealing the company income from poor working stiffs is disingenous at best.
Atom-sized transistor created by scientists
Maybe I was premature telling my daughter there are no monsters.
Eric Raymond posts a great list of what's wrong with liberals and conservatives both. I think these labels are worn-out and useless anyway and we need to note that the real difference is between statists (those who believe that investing states with ever greater powers is for the common good despite, I might add, extraordinary historical evidence to the contrary) and individualists (who believe that individuals should be left to do whatever they please as long as they don't infringe the rights of others).
A very funny skewering of Dr. Laura's postion on homosexuality on Curmudgeonly & Skeptical.
So this is where all my tax money is going.
Amnesty International also demands release of Charles Manson and Hannibal Lechter. Seriously, I still give money to these folks because I think they still do valuable work but like Greenpeace and NOW which I stopped giving money to years ago they do seem to get nuttier every year.
Exactly the reason why sending more aid to Africa before there are serious reforms in African regimes is just like pouring it down a huge sinkhole. Bono take notes.
I have decided to start the day with a Lileks-like personal anecdote:
I have not been getting very much sleep lately. I have been woken up almost every night in the last two weeks by one or both of my daughters (aged almost 4 and almost 5). Last week we had a series of thunderstorms which frightened them causing me to get up and calm them down and during one particularly violent one sit with them for and hour and a half in the middle of the night. I am a very light sleeper and my wife and heavy sleeper so if the girls get up during the night I get up with them (this was very awkward when they were still breast-feeding...just kidding). When the thunderstorms stopped my older daughter started getting up multiple times worried about monsters despite our repeated assurances there were no such things (when she was about three we told her there were no monsters, she replied "You mean they're all far away?", "Yes" we agreed, "You mean in England?" she asked since we had told her during a viewing of Mary Poppins that Mary came from England and it was far away). So now we are trying to convince her that there are none even in England even going so far as telling her that 5 year olds didn't believe in monsters and if she kept waking me up in the middle of the night we might have to postpone her birthday next month (yes parents can be cruel). So last night at about 4:00am she wanders in the wake me up and then goes back to her room. After I got out of bed and followed her to find out what was wrong she informed me that she just said she was getting a drink of water and then went back to bed. I of course remained awake until my alarm rang. (If anyone feels the urge to write me and tell me how cute this is, be sure to include your number so I can call you the next time it happens).

Thursday, June 13, 2002

The entire period of technological change from 1995-2000 was just a scam. More Luddite nonsense, yes there was a bubble and yes things were overdone as they always are during periods of massive technological change. Similar events occurred during the railroad booms (multiple periods in the 1800s), car and radio booms (1920s), satellite booms (1960s), PCs (mid 1980s), biotech (early 1990s), biotech (late 1990s), etc... They all however left in their wake, large, dominant industries, as has the Internet. Has anyone noticed the irony of a book reviewed in an online ezine (Salon) which will probably get most of its sales through an online bookseller (Amazon) by people using PC's bought online (Dell) and ranted about in one of thousands of online blogs (me) calling the dot.com buildup a scam?
John's previous post reminds me of a Sam Kinison routine on the true cause of world hunger:

"I'm like anyone else on this planet -- I'm very moved by world hunger. I see the same commercials, with those little kids, starving, and very depressed. I watch those kids and I go, 'Fuck, I know the FILM crew could give this kid a sandwich!' There's a director five feet away going, 'DON'T FEED HIM YET! GET THAT SANDWICH OUTTA HERE! IT DOESN'T WORK UNLESS HE LOOKS HUNGRY!!!' But I'm not trying to make fun of world hunger. Matter of fact, I think I have the answer. You want to stop world hunger? Stop sending these people food. Don't send these people another bite, folks. You want to send them something, you want to help? Send them U-Hauls. Send them U-Hauls, some luggage, send them a guy out there who says, 'Hey, we been driving out here every day with your food, for, like, the last thirty or forty years, and we were driving out here today across the desert, and it occurred to us that there wouldn't BE world hunger, if you people would LIVE WHERE THE FOOD IS! YOU LIVE IN A DESERT! YOU LIVE IN A FUCKING DESERT! NOTHING GROWS OUT HERE! NOTHING'S GONNA GROW OUT HERE! YOU SEE THIS? HUH? THIS IS SAND. KNOW WHAT IT'S GONNA BE A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW? IT'S GONNA BE SAND! YOU LIVE IN A FUCKING DESERT! GET YOUR STUFF, GET YOUR SHIT, WE'LL MAKE ONE TRIP, WE'LL TAKE YOU TO WHERE THE FOOD IS! WE HAVE DESERTS IN AMERICA -- WE JUST DON'T LIVE IN THEM, ASSHOLES!"
--From an appearance on Rodney Dangerfield's "It's Not Easy Being Me," 1984.

Guess what? Rich, developed countries are now responsible for African droughts.
"To those who live there, it is as if the rich have stolen the rain." ... because some guy came up with a complex computer model indicating that this may be a possible scenario the Independent reports it as stone fact. Other explanations aren't explored: Natural climate variation, reduced vegetation due to massive overgrazing, sunspot activity, no mention of the long pre-industrial cycle of droughts in Africa. ... no, it must be caused by western pollution, despite the fact that the emissions blamed have been declining for the last 20 years during which the time the droughts have continued. Note also that this is not a Kyoto/Global warming argument, this guys model has us cooling the northern hemisphere causing the southern hemisphere to absorb the excess heat. Well, I guess Bono's right we should just tons of cash to the various African kleptocracies to atone for our evil ways. Mugabe si, US no!
(These little rants are so refreshing)
There has been a lot of debate lately on the legality of detaining the "dirty bomber" without giving him the benefits of due process, presumption of innocence etc. I'm not against the debate I just get annoyed that so many are so shocked that the government would bend the rules as it has. Have these people been in a cave on Mars all their lives? There are enough loopholes in the constitution that the government can pretty much do what it wants and has for much of this country's existence. The civil libertarians can cry about us stomping on a US citizens rights all they want but I kind of think that its pretty pointless. Let's say they sue and the supreme court forces the government to give this guy due process. All the government has to do then is have an ally who is more "liberal" about due process, like Israel or something, accuse him of a crime (like conspiracy to attack Israel or something, heck the evidence doesn't even have to be real, all we need is an extradition treaty) in that country and have them lock him up indefinitely in their jails. All perfectly legal. We can even have their intelligence agencies torture him for information, which we are not allowed to do.
Okay so let me get this straight. Pakistan props up the Taliban, supports and shelters terrorists, almost starts a nuclear war with India and the World Bank gives them $500 million?
Very disturbing piece by David Tell in the Weekly Standard (thanks to Little Green Footballs for pointing it out) . It includes this exchange between TV host of "Muslim Women Magazine" and a 3 year old:

"Our report today will be a little different, because our guest is a girl, a Muslim girl, but a true Muslim. Allah willing, may our God give us the strength to educate our children the same way, so that the next generation will turn out to be true Muslims who understand that they are Muslims and know who their enemies are. This girl will introduce herself immediately. She is the daughter of my sister in faith and of the artist, Wagdi Al-Arabi. Her name is Basmallah and we will ask her as well."

The camera then begins a low pan downward and to the right as Ms. 'Amer offers a "peace be unto you" welcome to her guest. Who turns out to be . . . a toddler.


Toddler: Allah's mercy and blessing upon you.

'Amer: What's your name?

Toddler: Basmallah.

'Amer: Basmallah, how old are you?

Toddler: Three and a half.

'Amer: Are you a Muslim?

Toddler: Yes.

'Amer: Basmallah, are you familiar with the Jews?

Toddler: Yes.

'Amer: Do you like them?

Toddler: No.

'Amer: Why don't you like them?

Toddler: Because . . .

'Amer: Because they are what?

Toddler: They're apes and pigs.

'Amer: Because they are apes and pigs. Who said they are so?

Toddler: Our God.

'Amer: Where did he say this?

Toddler: In the Koran.
...
It gets worse, read the whole article. And this is started before these kids are out of diapers. There is something horribly wrong with any culture which would create this mindset in 3 year olds and encourage and rejoice in 10 year olds blowing themselves up for the cause if they manage to take a few Jews with them. Blech!
Apparently Israeli police are investigating whether there is a gambling ring where people bet on the location of the next suicide bombing. Of course I'm disgusted but I'm also thinking that there really is no point in making gambling illegal. People want to bet on absolutely everything.
Last night I went to my first class of Krav Maga which is Israeli street fighting. Its really cool and a great workout. Its definitely worth a try. Plus the looks and comments I get when I tell people about it are priceless. They usually have a scared look and then say something like "Oh my god, ISRAELI street fighting?" One of my socialist colleagues of course asked if they shipped in Palestinians for practice.
I'm sorry John but I couldn't possibly use those lines you referenced to pick up women in bars because even I don't get some of them. Plus, I'm not a big fan of Peter Frampton, Steely Dan, Golf or Scotch. I prefer Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, NFL and Vodka tonics (not necessarily in that order). Also, I thought it was understood that we weren't allowed to use this blog to make fun of each other. Warmonger.
Very funny guide for women by John Cole. I being old and happily married can only dimly relate to most of the points, but my co-blogger Max may wish to print the list to give to women he meets in bars. Good Luck, Max.
This book caught my eye and has been added to my summer reading list. I didn't know it had any culture.
Finally a Communist action I can support.
Warren Rudman and Gary "Bimini" Hart have an opinion piece in the New York Times today about restructuring the US intelligence community. In it they ask the question:

"And while bureaucrats within the existing agencies may be reluctant to share turf, can anyone seriously imagine the director of some office or the chairman of some Congressional committee arguing for personal political prerogatives when the security of 280 million Americans is at stake? It would be too embarrassing."

Too embarrassing? That is what bureaucrats do. Try to get more turf and defend the turf they already have. Even though these two have been in government for decades, it is almost as if they are completely clueless about what goes on (walk through the Pentagon one day and look at all the acronyms they have for all the different departments/task forces they have, all those fiefdoms belong to somebody). Okay okay, maybe I'm a little harsh, not all bureaucrats are that overly ambitious. There is always Patty and Selma on the Simpsons who work at the DMV. One time when Bart was visiting them they commented, "some days we don't let the line move at all. We call those weekdays."
Here is an article in the Wall Street Journal about Greg Stock! Unfortunately, you need a subscription.
What would Martha's Prison Everyday Collection look like? Check the New York Post.
Taken to task by Curmudgeonly & Skeptical for having a quote by Keynes at the top of a self-described libertarian site. Actually I think Keynes is much misunderstood because politicians have made him their patron saint because they think he gives them free reign to do whatever they please (he doesn't). But he will always remain in my affections if for no other reason than the impassioned pamphlet he wrote about the idiotic Treaty of Versailles, at which he was a participant. That said, he is not a great libertarian voice, I just liked the quote. But I have added a few more for balance.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

This commentary is why I am so glad I left Northern California. This guy is lambasting Bush/Cheney for their promise to strike at terrorists first before they can hurt Americans. His argument seems to be that there are alternatives but then doesn't go beyond lip service to "UN police action" and "reassessment of our oil policy." I guess he just has too much fun making fun of people who actually are trying to do something about terrorism. God forbid he actually be constructive.
Okay now this is too funny. It seems the Beijing Evening News, the capital's largest-circulation newspaper, ran a story that the US Congress was thinking of moving out of DC unless a nicer Capitol was built. They got the story from the May 29th issue The Onion. I guess Communists aren't terribly familiar with the idea of satire.
Here is a funny satire of how the media treats the issue of homeschooling titled "Homefeeding Children: Threat or Menace?".
An endorsement? from the Minuteman (thanks just the same):

When I see a new blogger with a question, I am always happy to help. And I knew The MinuteMan was needed when Common Sense and Wonder put this question right up there at the top:

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?"
--John Maynard Keynes

C'mon, man, open your eyes. What does anyone in the blogosphere do? Talk LOUDER, change the subject, cite an irrelevant expert, declare a vacation and come back under a new ID, anything! Never give up, never surrender!

But the rest of the site looks pretty good. Who knows, this writer might be able to ride the "Calm Voice of Reason" pony a long way.

[Actually I intended the quote as a guide to the readers of the site]
Cool piece about software that can convert existing 2D films into 3D by analyzing depth information in the frame. The resulting movie can then be viewed on existing 3D viewers. Unfortunately these currently cost upwards of $25000, but if it catches on the cost will quickly drop to affordable levels.
Buchanan (who I usually disagree with) takes on Hentoff (who I usually do agree with) and I have to say I think Buchanan has a point here. His fawning over Hoover may be a little over the top but comparing current proposals to let agents attend *public* meetings and look at *public* websites to past Hoover abues is a little over the top too.
Good Walter Williams piece on the need to profile.
The Onion, one of my favorite papers, asks the question in their What Do You Think? section "Canada's relatively lax immigration policy has drawn criticism from U.S. leaders, who say the country provides an easy home base for terrorists. What do you think?"

My favorite response is:

"My God, we could go to war with Canada over this. I only pray there's an army platoon with the afternoon free."
According to Stratfor, one of the resistance groups in Iraq we may support is called the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq or SCIRI. The article says they have been "distancing themselves" from Iran, but with a name like that, I mean, come on. Didn't I just see this movie?
There is another good Thomas Friedman piece today, this time on the subject of Iran. There is a growing number of Iranians who are clamoring for better relations with the US and apparently Bush's Axis of Evil designation for Iran has actually strengthened their cause. Jimmy Carter and the Left were the ones who initially lost Iran to hard line extremists. I think its time W and Rummie won it back.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Thanks to IBM scientists you can now fit 1 terabit of data on a postage stamp-size piece of plastic. That is essentially the equivalent storage capacity of a 100 GB hard drive. I can't wait till they put that into an MP3 walkman!
Curmudgeonly & Skeptical is making fun of this story about a 14 year old girl suing the Miami-Dade school system because her teacher wouldn't give her a bathroom pass which made her do a #2 in class. Apparently the teacher even said "If you can't hold it, you should be wearing Pampers.'' I actually think this lawsuit has merit, maybe it will even change the system. I mean really, don't children at least have the right to go to the bathroom when they need to? I don't remember the constitution saying that children have zero rights. They are human beings and should be treated as such. There are a great many teachers who are quality individuals, who inspire, who care. But then there are those other teachers, who have become raging alcoholics, who used to like going to work, who used to like kids, but are now warped and frustrated and take it out on the children. We've all had those really mean teachers. Some are mean in order to push you to do your best, some are just sadistic (especially gym teachers). And unfortunately, there is currently no check on their power. And I think there definitely needs to be. After all how good of an idea is it to let these DMV workers have total control of every action your kids take from 8-3 every day?
Go Rupert! Drudge had a link to this nice piece which talks about how Rupert Murdoch is going to fight the UK joining the Euro if any referendum is called. Here is a quote:

"Europe is made up of so many diverse cultures and histories that to slam it together with a government of French bureaucrats answerable to nobody. . . I cannot see anything but benefit by waiting."

Couldn't have said it better! I guess that's why he has a global media empire and I don't.
Here is a nice piece on global warming by the irrepresseable Thomas Sowell.
Very funny commentary by Jane Galt, taking apart the NY Times (and Taliban execution methods.)
Thanks to Gammaholic for our first endorsement.
WSJ piece on the State Department and our "good friends" the Saudis. When I read stories like this I start to think we should really exercise the great US Imperial powers that the Chomskyites constantly accuse us of and march into the Kingdom of Saud, take over the oil fields (which we largely run), use the proceeds to develop the infrastructure and educational systems in the country, kick out the Saud family and hold the country in a old British style protectorate until we can convert them from a third world backwater and arrange free elections. Where's Janet Reno when we need her? Oh wait, she would have taken the girls away to send them to her father so he wouldn't have to go to the trouble of kidnapping them. I forgot she likes sending children to live in despotic regimes. Rant over, better now.
A very good non-technical overview of global warming and the Kyoto treaty.
The finest toilets in the world. Make up your own jokes.
The great Mark Steyn chimes in on the neverending stupidy of officialdom:

"The good news is we're up against idiots. The bad news is we're also up against the suppler idiocies of current Western orthodoxy. Thus, the U.S. government's new plans to photograph and fingerprint visitors from countries "believed to harbour terrorists" have already been attacked by Mary Robinson, the UN Human Rights honcho who's never met an Arab dictator she didn't like. Islamists want to kill us in the name of Islam. Regrettable, but there it is. If we pretend otherwise, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Canadian Islamic Congress and the Islamic Society of Britain might be nice to us. But, speaking personally, I can't say I care. If Islamic lobby groups throughout the Western world really want to hitch their star to a bunch of psychopathic morons, good luck to them. It's a free country. Hey, we'll even give you a government grant to tell us how racist we are."

Another reason not to hold out great hope that the massive reorganization of the Federal police forces will actually do anything to make us safer.
Excellent Daniel Pipes piece on the militant Islam and the West and the reasons why a continued strong response is required:

"For two decades – from the time Ayatollah Khomeini reached power in Iran in 1979 with "Death to America" as his slogan – U.S. embassies, planes, ships, and barracks were assaulted, leading to hundreds of American deaths. These attacks took place around the world, especially the Middle East and Europe, but also in the United States itself. In the face of this persistent assault, Washington barely responded. The policy through those years was to view the attacks as no more than a sequence of discrete criminal incidents, and not as part of a sustained military assault on the country."
...
As Muslims watched militant Islam hammer away at Americans and American interests, they could not but conclude that the United States, for all its resources, was tired and soft. Not knowing the nature of democracy – slow to be aroused but relentless when angered – they marveled at the audacity of militant Islam and its ability to get away with its attacks. This awe culminating in the aftermath of September 11, when Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leader called openly for nothing less than the "extinction of America." At that time, this did not seem beyond reach.
...
The pattern is clear: So long as Americans submitted passively to murderous attacks by militant Islam, this movement gained support among Muslims. When Americans finally took up arms to fight militant Islam, its forces were overwhelmed and its appeal quickly diminished. Victory on the battlefield, in other words, has not only the obvious advantage of protecting the United States but also the important side-effect of lancing the anti-American boil that spawned those attacks in the first place."
Gee, most Palestinians want to eliminate the state of Israel. Who would've guessed?
I liked the "Girl Poem" posted on the Sweet but Nasty blog site.
There are more holes in the myth of the "successful" Swedish welfare state than a in piece of aged Jarlsberg.
Good piece by Arnold Kling on the war on Terrorism.
Boston Globes Alex Beam takes to task the increasing indifference to plagiarism and lying of late:

"Gates credited Robbins's discovery, and said he had known all along that the book contained ''echoes'' of other writers. His author, Gates explains, hadn't plagiarized, but rather had ''emptied out a rhetorical template and filled it with particulars of her own ... "

Once again Tom Lehrer explains.
The Philosophy of Punctuation. (I always use too many commas.)
Good arguments refuting some of Jeff Jacoby's points in favor of the death penalty on Eugene Volokh's blog. But I think both Jacoby and Volokh fail to see what is probably the main reason for the rise in violent crime between 1965 and 1980: demographics. Most violent crime is commited by males aged 15-30. The official start of the baby boom was 1948 making a huge bulge in the 15-30 year old population from the mid 1960's through the mid 1980's (and also explaining a good part of the drop in crime in the 1990's). As the echo boom population bulge hits the 15-30 year old sweet spot in a few years I would expect a related increase in crime rates again. This is not to say that anti-crime efforts in big cities (NYC particularly) have not had any effect, in fact the drop in crime in NYC during Giuliani's administration has been so spectacular that it is hard to argue that administration policies didn't have something to do with it, but it was certainly helped by the age makeup of the city population.
James Lileks has a hilarious rant on HBO's new show, The Wire. Here is my favorite part:

"Last night I watched the second episode of “The Fucking Wire,” on HBFuckingO, and it was just like the first episode: more fucking profuckingfanity than any fucking show I’ve ever seen. (Fuck.) I hate this. I really fucking do. It’s as if the producers and writers are so fucking worried I’ll think I’m watching broadfuckingcast TV, so they have to make everyone swear as fucking much as fucking possible. At one point I considered taking note of the fucking number of fucking fucks, which I could divide into my HBO bill, just to see how fucking much each fucking fuck fucking costs me. But it was too much fucking work."
The Guardian (UK) is really becoming to anti-semitism what Pravda was for Communism. Today they have a commentary from a writer who, of course, lives in France in which they lambast the latest book by Oriana Fallaci, one of the few defenders of the US and Israel amongst the European left. One line from the commentary/review says it all: "In contrast to her anti-Muslim hysteria is her equally hysterical fervour for Jews." Hysterical fervour for Jews? I'm just blown away. Thanks Instapundit.
Some anecdotes of anti-semitism in France from the France Helsinki Commission Testimony. But Woody says they're nice guys. I think Tom Lehrer may have a had better grasp of the subject than Woody. (He was funnier too!)

"As I left synagogue, 3 young North Africans surrounded me screaming 'Dirty Jew, f--- your mother, we'll burn your synagogues'…they then threw stones at me as I ran away. I went to the Police Station, where I was told that they do not take complaints of this type...." -- Yves Sellam

"Two of the schools officials were attacked by Arabs.They screamed, 'Vive Hitler... Death to the Jews... To the (gas) showers'." -- Alliance Jewish High School

"My son, Noam, is a member of a municipal sports club... on arrival at the pool he was refused entry and told by the official that no Jew could enter or practise sport. This was followed by death threats. The child is in shock." -- Fabienne Dahan

"I took my husband home by taxi from the hospital... The driver called me 'Dirty Jew' and drove off fast with me in the car, leaving my husband in the street... She said 'I am taking you to my son who will kill you'... All my family perished in Auschwitz, I survived." -- Josiane Friedman
'Smart Bandage' diagnoses danger before infection takes hold. From University of Rochester.

Monday, June 10, 2002

I was just reading Ralph Peters' new book, Beyond Terror. One part that struck me was when he was talking about what American foriegn policy should be like and he said essentially that we should do things that are in our long term interest. What struck me is how so much of what the state department wants us to do is more of a local maximization solution and not a systemic maximization. For example, why exactly is the US supporting a Palestinian state? Have you ever heard anyone in the Palestinian leadership ever saying nice things about America? Like how it is the land of opportunity and freedom and how a future Palestinian state should emulate this? If you have, please send me an email because I'd love to hear about it. Seriously. It seems to me that if a Palestinian state is created, that we would likely be creating a new Syria or Iraq, i.e. another terrorist supporting state which will fight to harm American interests. Israel, on the other hand, is a country that the US can count on through thick or thin thanks to the fact that Israel is populated by people who have many relatives in the US and also has many things in common with it ideologically. So it seems to me that if the US was looking out for its own best interests longer term, they would be putting their military might behind Israel and not trying to undermine its security by promoting a state within its midst that would likely be supporting the enemies of the US. It's not like we have to look that far back to remember when Arafat was hugging people like Brezhnev and Saddam Hussein.
SciAm on the secrets of the Stradivarius. (We may be boors, but not uncultured ones!) By the way, if you're interested in purchasing your own Cremona made violin, try here. You'll get a much better deal than at then big auction houses. (Isn't the internet amazing?)
Great piece by Andrew Sullivan pointing out that, gee, not only is prosperity a good thing, but it's good for everyone. Now if only the left would get it.
Nice skewering of Chomsky and friends by Matt Welch in the National Post.
A little old, but a very good piece by George Will on growing?(resurfacing?) Anti-Semitism.
Eight Technologies that will change the world.
Here is something annoying. Bush is going to try to convince Sharon to accept a return to pre-1967 borders as a starting point to peace negotiations. First, shouldn't an end to hostilities and a normalization of relations be the starting point? Second, when exactly has land for peace worked? Can anyone give me an example? I can certainly think of examples where it hadn't worked. Most notably, Native Americans kept signing treaties giving more of their land away for the promise of peace. And never got it until they were almost destroyed. And let's not forget the whole Sudetanland fiasco. Or Poland being partitioned between its neighbors so many times that eventually there was no more Poland. And even in this conflict, people might argue that Israel giving up the Sinai was something that's worked but at most there is a "cold peace" between the two and anything but normalized relations. In fact Mubarak was making fun of the Israelis in a speech recently saying they got the Sinai and all Israel got was a worthless piece of paper (can't find a link just yet but when I have time I'll try a bit harder to find it and add it). And so far the more land is given to the Palestinians the more Israelis are killed. I wish we would get off this land for peace formula. It just clearly has no chance of working. Unless of course the point is to give the Palestinians all the land after which there will be no Israelis left to hate.
NY Times reviews "A New Kind of Science."
Here is a funny piece in the NYT on translations of common FBI phrases. My favorite is:

F.B.I.: We have noticed "increased chatter" in recent weeks.
Translation: We've been intercepting conversations that could be useful if someone here knew Arabic.
There is a commentary in the Wall Street Journal today saying that it is okay to be a Jewish Republican. I never could quite figure out why Jewish voters have overwhelmingly voted Democratic in elections. Big government hasn't exactly been friendly to Jews historically. In fact, Jews born in the former Soviet Union tend to be very pro-Republican because they know what happens when you let a government get too big. Hopefully Jewish voters have been given the wake up call they have needed.
The New York Times has an article today calling right-of-center blogs "war blogs." Funny, I thought we talked about alot more than just the war. Next they will start calling these "hate blogs".
Saddam's literary talents.