Friday, July 26, 2002

Here is an interesting rumor from Debka (fyi, the site always has lots of rumors and is right about 1/3 of the time), according to them, the US is planning on beginning the attack on Iraq on or around September 11, or at least that is Bush's goal. We could probably start an air war with limited ground troops in quick order so I guess it is possible. Debka claims that this timeline was confirmed by Moshe Yaalon, the new IDF chief of staff. I don't even want to think how the markets would react to this but it would be about time.
Here is some good news. Arab nations have halted funding of the PA after they heard that Arafat and his cronies have been embezzling. Looks like the only friends Arafat has left are Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Helen Thomas has a piece attacking Bush for "abandoning Women's rights". My first question is, isn't she dead? I mean she looked like she was on her last legs 10 years ago. But then again, who expected Keith Richards to survive this long? My second question is, isn't this a bit of an overstatement? He isn't exactly taking away the vote or anything and it seems to me that anyone who appoints a woman as National Security Advisor is pretty much gender blind in his own personal hiring practices. So what exactly is she talking about? It seems that Bush may not sign an international convention called "Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women". I could go into a giant rant about that treaty but Christina Hoff Summers of the American Enterprise Institute already has. I will talk about one part though which states that there needs to be an "elimination of stereotyped concepts of the roles of men and woman at all levels in all forms of education . . . in particular, by the revision of textbooks and school programs." Just what we need, political correctness as part of international law.
This is totally like something from Fight Club (one of my favorite movies of all time). Remember it is always to be referred to as a dildo, not your dildo.
World to end at 11:47AM. News at 12:00.
" To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil." [more] from Charles Krauthammer in the WaPo.
The drug war is really becoming ludicrous. It appears officials at a South Dakota school confined students to their classrooms for several hours while a police dog toured the rooms, sniffing children as young as 6 to check for drugs. If this doesn't constitute a search of an unreasonable nature then I don't know what is. How many six year olds in South Dakota would you expect to be dealing drugs? Does South Dakota even have drug dealers? It kind of reminds me of how many of the people who hate blacks and Jews the most are the ones who have never actually met either.
The internet never fails to amaze me. It contains entire worlds that you can be completely unaware of until they are brought to your attention. I just finished reading the book "Creation" by Steve Grand which describes artificial life simulations and specifically the game he developed called "Creatures". It is an agent based game that lets you 'create' creatures in a virtual world. The creatures then interact with their environment, breed and improve. Evolution in a box, very cool. Once let loose they are basically autonomous but they can interact with you in limited ways. After checking out the website for the company that sells the game (now in it's third generation, I bought it) and doing some other searches I have discovered a vast online community that maintains, shares info about their creatures and lends the created creatures out for breeding (online stud farms). There are toolkits for modifying the genetic codes of the creatures or their environments. This is sort of like the vast online communities of MMORPG's (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) like Everquest which I have long wanted to explore but haven't had the time. The difference is that those are games between live players using avatars with certain characteristics that are acquired through gameplay, while the Norns, Grendels and Ettins in Creatures are self-developing autonomous creatures. The MMORPG's are fascinating places also though, where avatars with particularly desirable characteristics get sold on Ebay for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The 'real-world' sale of characters and loot from Everquest would make the virtual world of Norrath "...the 77th largest economy in the [real] world! [It] has a gross national product per capita of $2,266, making its economy larger than either the Chinese or Indian economy and roughly comparable to Russia's economy". And I remember when I thought "Space Invaders" was a really cool game.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

I'd like to say thanks to the illustrious Jane Galt for her kind words on her website in relation to your humble narrator (yes, I'm talking about me).

""Professionals are thus waiting for capitulation so they can buy. But capitulation is a lot like Santa Claus: everyone waits for it, but no one ever sees it when it's there, only when it's gone. As the inestimable Max Jacobs said, "Every time people I work with tell me they think the market's capitulated, I say 'No, no! The fact that you're saying that means it hasn't capitulated yet!". (Max speaks with a lot of exclamation points. It's a trip.)"

I guess I do get a little excited sometimes. And I don't want to hear the word capitulation! That means you!
Count de Monay on why we're living on Bizarro world.
Ralph Peters has a great Op-Ed in the journal today. Here are a couple of my favorite passages.

"Europe's reflexive anti-Semitism doesn't really matter much, since today's Europeans lack the power, will and courage to act upon their bigotry." (I just like this one because it makes fun of Europe's impotence. Is it a coincidence that a new, more powerful Viagra competitor got clearance from a European panel today?)

And I also liked,

"The same critics will tell you that by killing civilians in their attacks, the Israelis -- or the Americans -- simply turn other civilians against them. This is nonsense. Civilians who shield the enemies of Israel or the U.S. are already anti-Israel or anti-American. But if our strikes against the masters of terror come to seem inevitable, those same civilians will turn against terrorists who try to use them as living shields -- as villagers in Afghanistan already have done. Terrorists and their supporters must learn that they will be allowed no hiding places. Not in their homes, not in churches or mosques, and not in foreign countries to which they might flee. This is a war that must be fought without compromise. It is, above all, a contest of wills. Every apology is a surrender."

  • Strong religious beliefs
  • Parental Approval
  • Ability
  • Encourages Others

The boy scout code, Confucian virtues? No, the four main requirements of a suicide bomber according to Hamas leader Salah Shehade. (via LGF)
In case you haven't seen this, here is a charge by charge rebuke of the accusations made by Krugman against Bush by someone who knows.
I made a prediction about this awhile ago. WSJ article on how hard Mugabe is working hard to create a massive famine in what used to be Africa's breadbasket. He joins other socialist luminaries such as Stalin, Mao, Kim Jong Il, Mengistu Haile Mariam and Pol Pot in starving large portions of his population on their way toward a socialist utopia.
It that the tobacco golden goose has been pretty well plucked, the fast-food industry is the next target. Within 5 years there will be a hefty tax on Big Macs. [more]
An old European joke (one of many variants) goes: Heaven consists of French chefs, English police, Italian lovers, German engineers and Dutch bankers while Hell consists of French engineers, Italian bankers, German police, Dutch chefs and English lovers. Here is an article about the English lovers.
Copy of an article written in 1972 about the IBM anti-trust case. The parallels with the Microsoft case are amazing. It is particularly interesting because some have suggested that the tech-wreck was precipitated by the successful prosecution of Microsoft on anti-trust charges. And while I don't think that is the whole story (or even most of it, there were plenty of excesses in the system, something which happens in every period of enormous and fast growth), I do think, however, that it is part of the story. Major innovations require a lot of investment with a high chance of failure. The reason people participate is that there is also the chance of very large profits mainly through temporary monopolistic pricing power which comes to early innovators who end up creating standards which they can protect. But innovation moves on and dominant companies don't remain so (a quick look at the companies mentioned in the article cited above will quickly attest to that as will a glance at the Dow components in 1939 or 1969). If entrepreneurs feel that if their product is successful and when they are about to enter the period of extraordinary profits that the government will step in to force them to give up intellectual properties or curtail their profits, those entrepreneurs will be less likely to create new risky businesses to begin with and the markets will be less willing to fund them.
So the New York Times is now attacking Google. It is titled "Net Users Try to Elude the Google Grasp." The Google grasp? Isn't that just a tad melodramatic? Here are some entertaining parts:

"Some believe that this loss of anonymity could be dangerous for those who prefer to remain hidden, like victims of domestic violence."

"Waqaas Fahmawi, 25, used to sign petitions freely when he was in college. 'In the past you would physically sign a petition and could confidently know that it would disappear into oblivion,' said Mr. Fahmawi, a Palestinian-American who works as an economist for the Commerce Department. But after he discovered that his signatures from his college years had been archived on the Internet, he became reluctant to sign petitions for fear that potential employers would hold his political views again him. He feels stifled in his political expression. 'The fact I have to think about this,' he said, 'really does show we live in a system of thought control.'"

It seems like Google is guilty of helping rapists and is a tool for "thought control" (which I guess is defined in this case as people actually doing something with petitions that you sign of your own free will). You know what's next, calls for a search engine regulatory agency. I can't believe these reporters get paid for writing this crap.
Hmmm... Don't most of these countries have despotic kleptocratic authoritarian socialist governments in place. Could there be a connection?

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Another great piece by Mark Steyn on attempts to blame Bush for current corporate misdeeds:

"So Bush critics have instead dragged up a low-interest loan the President got from some oil company he was a director of over a decade ago. "President Bush likes to preach responsibility," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. "When it comes to his own records, the motto is: 'The buck stops over there.' " "It is hard to lead when you haven't done the things that you're asking others to do," tutted Dick Gephardt, House Democratic leader. This is the same Terry McAuliffe who founded Federal City Bank, which was deemed by regulators to be using unsound banking practices and which, while Mr. McAuliffe was also serving as finance director for the 1988 presidential campaign of one Dick Gephardt, gave said Gephardt an "unusual and unsecured" loan for $125,000.

So, if the low-interest loan won't jump, the only outrageous Bush-toppling scandal left in play is the fact that in 1990 Harken Energy Corp was a few months late filing a routine letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission confirming that Mr. Bush had divested some stock and was blah-blah-blah ... growing drowsy ... zzzzzzzz ... impenetrable technical violation ... losing the will to type ...
By the end of last week, the ethics bores were whipped up over the SEC's latest investigation -- into Bristol-Myers Squibb for practices that "inflated sales by $1-billion." What this boils down to is: Their sales guys went around saying hey, you should buy our products now because they'll be going up next year. According to the New York Daily News, "Critics charge the company knew the resulting, incentive-driven sales exceeded demand but encouraged the stockpiling anyway as a way to meet profit projections." "Bristol-Myers may be forced to restate its revenues," said Steven Tighe, drug analyst at Merrill Lynch. What for? No one's suggesting they didn't sell the stuff. Actual product changed hands: the customers have the drugs; the drug company has the money. That puts Bristol-Myers' customers one step ahead of, say, GroupAction Marketing's customers -- or, at any rate, the government ones. So in what sense is this "inflating" sales? Talk about a damp Squibb.

More to the point, it's a model of rectitude compared to what passes for bookkeeping in your average U.S. Government department, especially the "sensitive" ones (Office of Civil Rights, Bureau of Indian Affairs, etc.). A good rule of thumb in government budgets is: no figure means nothing. I mean, it looks nice, it fills the dollars-and-cents box on the spreadsheet, but for all the relationship it bears to anything you might as well enter Anna Nicole Smith's breast size on every line. At least that way, we'll know they're artificially inflated.

No accountability? Missing billions? Fantasy bookkeeping? Pick any Federal agency you like. WorldCom's $4-billion is less than a third of the $12.1-billion Medicare misplaces every single year. It's less than a thirtieth of the $142-billion the Federal Government has overspent its supposedly binding budgets by in the last five years. It's less than one-sixtieth of the new US$248-billion farm subsidy bill, three-quarters of which goes to a bunch of multimillionaire play-farmers like Ted Turner and David Rockefeller."
I suspect this is a hoax, but I am willing to try it anyway.
Thomas Sowell on why we should be worried about governments attempts to fix the the stock market.
Jonah Goldberg on the new food cops. They can pry my bacon-cheesburger from my cold, dead hands.
Andrew Sullivan has a good blog today which is sort of related to a blog of mine yesterday. He quotes this piece:

"In September 2001 (only five days, in fact, before the destruction of the World Trade Center), the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported that 65 percent of rapes of Norwegian women were performed by 'non-Western' immigrants–a category that, in Norway, consists mostly of Muslims. The article quoted a professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo (who was described as having 'lived for many years in Muslim countries') as saying that 'Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes' because Muslim men found their manner of dress provocative. One reason for the high number of rapes by Muslims, explained the professor, was that in their native countries 'rape is scarcely punished,' since Muslims 'believe that it is women who are responsible for rape.' The professor’s conclusion was not that Muslim men living in the West needed to adjust to Western norms, but the exact opposite: 'Norwegian women must realize that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it.'"

What is wrong with these people? Why must we adapt to a closed anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-individual society? Is the idea of being tolerant of other people's cultures so important that we must give up everything else for the sake of it? It's appeasers like these who made World War II possible. The difference is that in today's case we are dealing with a culture instead of a political movement.
Michael Kelly tries to be nice:

" Allen Iverson, I have written unkindly about you, too, suggesting that you were a dangerous thug. Mr. Iverson, you are a fine man and a role model to our nation's youth, and you have every right to allegedly threaten people with guns if you need to find out where your wife is. Or for any reason at all, sir."
When I wrote that our captains of industry were "the greediest bunch of no-talent morons the world has seen since the Harding administration," I was talking through my hat. You guys are awesome. You made a few mistakes -- but, look, am I so perfect? On behalf of our nation's investors, pensioners, widows and orphans, and also on behalf of your many, many thousands of grateful former employees, I would like to thank you all for your years of hard slogging as stewards of our great corporations. You deserve every penny you got your sticky mitts on, and I, for one, am happy to be left holding the bag. I would invest my little all with you again, if I still had a little all.
John Walker Lindh, your father says that you are "a really good kid," who "loves America." Right-o, all is forgiven; sorry. John Henry Williams, don't listen to the critics. There is nothing shabby about freezing your dad and selling off his DNA."

See, anyone can be nice if they just try.
Okay so it looks like Maureen Dowd has finally lost her mind. She is upset because a new study published by the National Academy of Sciences says the female brain is wired to feel emotions more intensely and remember them more vividly (although it may be she is more upset by Ally McBeal). To counter this argument she goes into a tirade on how politicians who have idolized JFK turn out to be bad presidents, starting with an example from the TV movie "RFK" (has she ever heard of the word 'dramatization'?). She then ends her tirade by saying "it is the overemotional and man-crazy men who have messed up American history." That'll show 'em. By going into a completely irrational tirade where you make blanket generalizations about a minority group (there are more women than men after all) you will prove that women are not more emotional than men.
Fine piece in TechCentralStation on why it is not always better to be safe than sorry.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Has anyone on the design committee noticed that the design for the new Clinton Presidential library looks like a double-wide trailer?
Okay so here is something that is going to be the brunt of jokes. Just read the headline: "Children to get Viagra in lung disease trial". I would just hate to be one of those kids parents. "Daddy, I feel funny, for some reason my...."
According to Lance Armstrong, the French lack class:

"I think it's an indication of their intelligence," he said. "I'm not here to be friends with a bunch of people who stand at the side of the road, who've had too much to drink, and want to yell."

"It's an issue of class: Do you have class, or do you not have class? That's not the way a classy person acts."
Information Week notices blogging.
Lew Rockwell has a fine essay in defense of the increasingly maligned benefits of capitalism:

"Must we compare the record of capitalism with that of the state, which, looking at the sweep of this past century alone, killed hundreds of millions of people in its wars, famines, camps, and deliberate starvation campaigns? And the record of central planning of the type now being urged on American enterprise is perfectly abysmal.

Let the state attempt to eradicate anything--unemployment, poverty, drugs, business cycles, illiteracy, crime, terrorism--and it ends up creating more of it than would have been the case if it had done nothing at all.

The state has created nothing. The market has created everything. But let the stock market fall 20 percent in 18 months, and what happens? The leading intellectuals discover anew why the Bolshevik Revolution was a pretty good idea, even if the results weren't what idealists might have hoped. We are told that we must rethink the very foundations of civilization itself.

In every society, there is greed, fraud, and theft. But let these vices rear their heads in a socialist society--though the norm is a continual and brutal struggle for power--and the fact goes unnoticed or is attributed to the remnants of capitalist thinking. Let these vices appear in a largely free economy, and the cry goes out: take away the freedom to trade and put the state in charge! "
Okay here is something really scary which Andrew Sullivan mentions on his site today. Check out the descriptions of the members of the Rent Board in San Fran. They actually put down the race of the person and in one case they write "Caucasian (Gay)". What's next, labels like Jew and Aryan and Disabled? Don't they see the irony in this?
According to the Jerusalem Post, "Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat said Tuesday that the assassination of Saleh Shehadeh, head of the Hamas military wing, has obstructed an agreement between the PA and other Palestinian parties, including Hamas, to cease terror attacks against Israel. Arafat, in a meeting with MK Taleb a-Sanaa (Arab Democratic List), said that the agreement among Palestinian groups was imminent." Yeah right. The check was almost in the mail.
Okay let me get this straight, a muslim father kills his daughter in Sweden because she decided to live a Western existence and it's the fault of Sweden's society because of a "failure to bridge the gap in attitudes between its own culture and those of its newer arrivals." God forbid the New York Times blames the father and his upringing. And what exactly does "failure to bridge the gap in attitudes" mean? That seems to be saying that Western society should meet traditional Islamic attitudes half way. Does that mean women should only be allowed to work half days? Expose half their faces? They can wear burkhas on the top and have bikini bottoms? All men should at least have mustaches? Pray two and a half times a day?
Here is a good piece in the Times about cows that have some human genes.

Monday, July 22, 2002

Meanwhile Den Beste takes on some new nutty auto legislation proposed by Grey Davis and in the process points out that, in fact, everything can't be free for everyone. In fact, nothing is free (including energy from the sun), everything costs something and life is an optimization problem of getting the most out of scarce resources.
Notes from the 24th annual "intensive study" of Marxism:

"Factions weren't really in evidence, but disputes did break out. During a heated discussion of racist elements within Marxism itself, Brenda Stokely, chairman of the New York Labor Party, broke through a crescendo of exasperated voices with the cry: "There should be free everything for everybody!"
At this point, Mr. Smith warned that participants should not content themselves with imagining alternatives to capitalism. Such alternatives "are inevitable," he said. "I've never seen the U.S. ruling class so out on a limb." But "there's nothing that says egalitarian socialism or a feminist society, and not global military control, is the next step."

Other lecturers were less gloomy. An articulate, if chirpy, young woman named Lisa Featherstone gave an update on the anti-globalists who disrupt meetings of the World Trade Organization or "wherever else global bourgeoisie get together." She said that the slogan "another world is possible" had become "ubiquitous" on campuses. Young people had even taken to "anti-capitalist lifestyles." She cited the Anti-Authoritarian Baby-Sitters Club, where "the fiercest looking men" give up a day of protesting to stay at home and watch the kids.
At the mention of this novelty, an argument erupted in the back of the room. Josh, a graduate student, said that the lives of the protesters were shot through with what Marx referred to as the fetishism of commodities. Their love of organic food, he implied, was greater than their love of the oppressed who grow it. Ms. Featherstone conceded the point. She mentioned that organic farming might actually be "more exploitative" than large, mechanized farms, "because it requires more stooping."

Several people nodded their heads approvingly, happy to learn something new. Finally, "Capital" had something fresh to teach! Another world is possible indeed. " mention of the 100+ million and counting victims of the various 'Marxist' experiments in the last century or the overwhelming increase in living standards by all of the residents of the evil capitalist countries (although Ms. Featherstone did concede that the big, evil capitalist farms might actually require less stooping). But I think the grand philosophy of this crowd was best summarized by the line shouted by one of the participants: "There should be free everything for everybody!". Here, here! I would like my Ferrari delivered to my home please.
Okay, here's more on how evil the government can be. Remember the post on the alien fish that can live outside of water for three days and hop on their fins across land (I'm too lazy to search for it in the archive, sorry)? Well it seems that just about any time that an "alien" species is found to be harmful to an environment, they kill them, including the fish above and swans:

"In Maryland, wildlife managers announced last week that they're considering killing mute swans, which were imported four decades ago from Europe. The swans are gobbling their way through acres of underwater grasses that support other species. Capable of eating up to 10 pounds a day each, the 4,000 birds counted in 1999 in the watershed are expected to grow into a population of 38,500 in the next eight years, state officials said. Wildlife managers have tried to shoo the birds away from the grasses, redistribute them in same-sex groups, and shake their eggs to prevent them from hatching."

How is this any more evil than pollution? They are killing animals for no other reason than because they might harm the balance of an ecosystem. What right do they have to decide which species should live and which shouldn't? We're not talking about killer bees here, we are talking about swans.
In case you were getting bored with the mideast, apparently Israel is seriously considering hitting targets within Syria due to their support of the terrorist organization Hizbullah. Why does all this remind me of 1913 or early 1914?
Anti-Spam Legislation Opposed by Powerful Penis-Enlargement Lobby. [more] (from the Onion).
Better mortgage rate and breast-size increasing lobbies expected to join the fight. In fact the breast-enlargment and penis-enlargement groups would make natural allies.
File of Unintended Consequences

It seems that Boston's 'Living Wage' statute which requires local contractors to pay a minimum wage of $10.54 an hour may force multiple child care facilities supporting low-income families to close because they can't afford the increase. [more]
I love leftist infighting. I still can't believe I was ever a member of PETA. To answer your next question, it was because of a girl.
Okay, time for a rant. I went to a reception for a libertarian group (small 'l'). And we had a speaker, someone I never heard of and his speech convinced me that the libertarians will never get anywhere if we continue to be associated with people like this speaker. First of all, he looked like a crazy person how had a 6 by 8 cabin in the mountains of Montana. Second and most importantly, he was utterly convinced that all that politicians do is scheme to try to find excuses to increase the size of government. Now sure, I'm sure there are some that are like that but somehow I don't think Bush is personally doing a power grab right now simply because he wants to be some sort of dictator. I think he seriously is doing what he thinks he has to in order to fight and win the war. I may not agree with some of his methods but I don't think he is the evil person the speaker seemed to think he was. Another thing that really annoyed me about the speaker was that he blamed the US for the attacks, saying it was our fault because of our interventionist policies. Then he said that we shouldn't attack Iraq since Saddam is really no worse than the US government saying, "he used chemical weapons on some of his people and we burnt them alive in Waco." Now I was definitely against the government's actions in Waco but there is a huge difference between tens of thousands and 90. I really wanted to ask this guy the question, "what was your opinion of the Reagan buildup during the cold war," knowing full well this schlub was one of those peaceniks who would never be for a strong defensive move whether it be justified or not. Also, I don't think I could phrase it in a constructive way since this guy was pissing me off. Why do so many libertarians have to be so out of touch with reality?
Here is another reason to hate bureaucrats. The US Forest Service have ordered that people must take down poles flying the US flag from land leased to them from the Forest Service. One person has been flying a flag outside his cabin for 23 years.
Check out the transcript of Donahue's show with Ann Coulter. It so completely proves the point of her book Slander that I would almost think that Donahue was being paid by her to act as he did. (Link comes via Curmudgeonly & Skeptical).

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Blog Watch:

Interesting post on the Qu'ran (Koran) and the problems of translation at Ideofact.

Another fine post by Den Beste on why the ICC is a bad idea.

Also, taking on the premise of "Reign of Fire" he comments on how dragons would actually fare against modern military equipment.
He thinks we would win easily although as one of his readers pointed out:

"Update 20020715: Robert writes as follows:

You're forgetting the dragon's most dangerous weapon -- our own stupidity. Any species reduced to a handful of individuals is endangered, and thus would immediately be protected -- never mind the danger they pose! Clearly, humanity hunted them nearly to extinction, and there's NO WAY it's gonna happen again.

Dragons would be protected from all hunting, and having one move onto your land would mean you lose all control over that land. And there SURE ain't no way to "shoot, shovel, and shut up" with a dragon!

So, much like Florida alligators, dragons would go from fascinating curiousity to minor pest to major menace in, oh, twenty years or so.

Unfortunately, his point is well taken."

Will Wilkinson takes on Stanley Fish and post-modernism.