Saturday, September 28, 2002

Silfay Hraka has posted a good piece on why we should dump the UN. His basic points are that in addition to it being an ineffective, inefficient, super-bureaucracy run by tired diplomats who are more interested in what kind of buffet they'll have at the next meeting on human rights than they actually are about the tyrannical psychopaths who run most of the member nations but that there is also no requirement that member nations actually are democratic in any way, shape or form. (He didn't actually say all that, but I was reading between the lines).

...I'm pulling for the dissolution of the United Nations because not only is it a money pit, it promotes the rights of nations over those of individuals.

Iraq, despite being run by a despot and his murderous clique of relations, is given the same rights as Costa Rica, Liechtenstein and New Zealand; countries whose governments would likely fall for the least of Saddam's actions. Myanmar is no better, nor is the Sudan. If the United Nations truly wanted to promote a better world, it would have embraced the principle that "if you mistreat your people, we will do whatever necessary to bring you down."
John Dvorak explains why the music industry is heading for a meltdown unless they learn to come into the 21st century.

"The music industry began to act like a monopolist. With the advent of the CD, it found that it could continue to gouge its customers. While the industry lectures the public on illegal copying, it gets busted for price fixing. So much for the morality argument.

When Edison first released his prerecorded cylinders, they sold for $4 each. With mass production, he eventually brought the price down to 35 cents, nearly a 90 percent reduction. If the same ratio held true with $16 CDs, the cost of which has been perpetually propped up by price fixing, they would cost $1.40. Since it costs less than 25 cents to mass-produce a CD, $1.40 is reasonable and profitable.

Of course, the industry would need to adjust from extravagance and sloppiness to frugality and normality. Less Dom Perignon, for starters. And it's not as if record companies and artists won't make money. 45-rpm singles used to cost 50 cents each, and it was a big deal to sell a million of them. Elvis Presley led a good life, it seems to me, by leveraging his career with those old profit margins. Heck, he was giving away Cadillacs."

(via Instapundit)

Friday, September 27, 2002

Be sure to send your entries in to the weekly caption contest at Ipse Dixit which this week features the photo of Arafat that Max posted yesterday.
A Japanese toymaker is marketing a device which it claims extracts emotional content from dogs barks and converts them into Japanese expressions. It's called 'Bowlingual'.

Woof!
What's that? Timmy's in the well?

Woof! Woof!
Is Timmy in danger?

Woof!
Wait, let me attach this device to your collar.

Woof! ...(I want to hump your leg)
Down girl!

(via Natalie Solent)
If the Deep Fried Twinkies didn't appeal to you, Zombie Nutrtionist Recommends All-Brain Diet (from the Onion, via Heretical Ideas)
Nietszche and The Simpsons - Beyond Marge and Homer.

It's commentary about an essay titled "Thus Spake Bart: On Nietszche and the Virtues of Being Bad" from a book called "The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer" which I've added to my Amazon pile.

On to the essay. Conrad begins by laying out Nietzsche's general philosophy, while occasionally pulling Simpsons characters in to play the role of the philosopher's heroes and villains. Conrad likens Lisa Simpson, for example, to Socrates, whom Nietszche loathed for his devotion to reason. Conrad writes:

The point I want to make here is that in Springfield, the town without a state, Lisa plays the role of Socrates, the theoretical optimist. Despite being confronted with the chaotic, absurd world around her, she persists n believing that reason can not only help her to understand that world but to correct it. She tries to stand up for animal rights; she tries to cure Mr. Burns of his greediness and Homer of his ignorance. She tries to mold Bart's character, to teach him how to be virtuous . . .Lisa struggles from week to week to penetrate the dark, abyssal clouds of absurdity and meaninglessness, vice and ignorance, with her razor-sharp intellect and her reason. But alas, nothering ever really changes. Mr. Burns remains greedy, Homer ignorant, Bart vicious, and Springfield at large absurd. Consequently, from a Nietszchean point of view, the tables might be turned on Lisa. All the characteristics and virtues for which we admire and praise her might in fact be symptoms of a Socratic sickness, a hyper-rational weakness, a flight from reality into illusion and self-deception.


(via Samizdata)
Great Krauthammer piece on Gore's speech.
Ummmm! Deep Fried Twinkies. And so good for you!
Joanne Jacobs cites a study by the Pacific Research Institute that says that at high-poverty schools with high test scores, teachers teach skills and knowledge in a structured, sequenced way.

"...Teacher training is focused on subject matter. All use frequent testing to monitor students' progress. Essentially, the teacher is in charge of teaching; students don't "construct" or "discover" knowledge for themselves. Creativity is confined mostly to science, social studies, art and music classes. While critics of structured, scripted lessons says it's just "drill and kill," principals say students now read enthusiastically -- because they can read. "
If the people at the Nation were smart they would beg Chirstopher Hitchens to stay. Check out this passage from his latest piece (via Lucianne.com):

"I suppose I can just about bear to watch the "inspections" pantomime a second time. But what I cannot bear is the sight of French and Russian diplomats posing and smirking with Naji Sabry, Iraq's foreign minister, or with Tariq Aziz. I used to know Naji and I know that two of his brothers, Mohammed and Shukri, were imprisoned and tortured by Saddam Hussein--in Mohammed's case, tortured to death. The son of Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was sentenced to twenty-two years of imprisonment last year; he has since been released and rearrested and released again, partly no doubt to show who is in charge. Another former friend of mine, Mazen Zahawi, was Saddam Hussein's interpreter until shortly after the Gulf War, when he was foully murdered and then denounced as a homosexual. I have known many regimes where stories of murder and disappearance are the common talk among the opposition; the Iraqi despotism is salient in that such horrors are also routine among its functionaries. Saddam Hussein likes to use as envoys the men he has morally destroyed; men who are sick with fear and humiliation, and whose families are hostages. "
The Wisdom of Homer Simpson (new daily feature)

Beer. Now there's a temporary solution
John Hawkins has a fine fisking of a letter of Democratic strategy advice from Barbra Streisand (actually from her assistant Margery Tabankin) to Dick Gebhardt [sic].

My favorite line "Come on Dick, put the future of your party on the line in the 2002 elections based on what "Yentl" thinks."
Eugene Volokh speculates what a future letter from Saddam Hussein to the President might say if no action is taken now.

Dear Madam President Clinton:
As you may have gathered by now, the nuclear device exploded over the Nevada desert today came from the mighty arsenal of the Republic of Iraq. We sincerely hope that the device did not injure anyone; its purpose was simply to show that Iraq has acquired a nuclear capability.

In fact, we are proud to say that we have manufactured many such weapons. Nearly a dozen of them are now in place in major American cities. We certainly do not want to have to detonate them, and we see no need to go that far, if you accede to several reasonable requests that essentially amount to a permanent disengagement from the internal affairs of the Middle East:

1. Immediately end all sanctions against Iraq.
2. Permanently withdraw all American troops and military advisers from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and all other Muslim countries, and agree not to become involved in any military action by one Middle Eastern country against another.
3. Stop all governmental assistance, military and otherwise, to the Jewish Entity, and all trade by American companies with it.
4. Extradite to Iraq the traitors, spies, and saboteurs that you are currently harboring as supposed "dissidents" and "opposition leaders," as well as the blasphemer Salman Rushdie, who we believe is currently visiting your country.

(via Instapundit)
A scientist at UC Berkeley has developed a battery that can be powered by glucose. It could be used by future pacemakers or other implantable devices to provide a permanent power source.
Aaaagghhh! I've just been pushed over the edge by email spam which I've started getting at my work address in addition to my personal address. I've decided to just give in to it all, so I've just applied for a new low-cost mortgage from which I'll use the proceeds to get low-cost life insurance which will protect me from any complications from my penis enlargement and I can use all the free porn to keep me occupied until my wifes reaction to finding out I signed her up for breast enlargement wears off. If the mortgage money runs out too quickly I can always make $1000/day from home or I can get several million dollars by helping out some nice Nigerian gentleman with his banking problems.
Mr. Jock, TV quiz Ph.D., bags few lynx.

Odd headline you're wondering? It's a 26 letter pangram (a sentence that makes use of all the letters of the alphabet). Now it's cool, huh?
The Bush administration is preparing to offer smallpox vaccinations to every American starting with the most at-risk people such as hospital workers. The Department of Health and Human Services signed or expanded contracts for 209 million new doses, which should arrive early next year.
Some researchers have identified a group of proteins that allows a small number of people to naturally live with the AIDS virus for decades without ever getting ill.

"The proteins are made by immune system cells called CD8 T-cells, and help block the activity of the deadly and incurable virus. For 16 years researchers have known that CD8 cells in certain HIV-infected patients were making something unique, but they did not know precisely what it was.

These patients, called long-term non-progressors, can be infected for years and even decades without ever developing the symptoms of AIDS. AIDS specialists have been studying them to find out what is different about their bodies." [More]
AM Rosenthal also has a good piece in the NY Daily News about going to war with Iraq:

"Rush to judgment? I felt slightly ill and deeply embarrassed for the Senate that this member, and other senatorial students of foreign affairs, have not grasped that during the decade since the U.S. and its allies called off the Gulf War in triumph (they thought), Saddam has spat on all the conditions that his country promised the United Nations. Conditions such as full disclosure of his chemical, bacteriological and nuclear weapons and his plans for more of them. Quick disclosure - in a couple of weeks, not a decade.

Saddam promised that international inspectors would never be hindered, nay never. When he felt the urge, he just kicked them out.

He promised he would not buy any more parts for nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons. Instead, he became the only living dictator to make and use missiles that spread poisons to strip off the skins of his own people. The poison gases also slaughtered, en masse, children in the wombs of Iraqi, Iranian and Kurdish women. Children and adults vomited their agonized last hours away.

He used money from UN-permitted oil sales to build more weapons instead of giving aid to sick and hungry Iraqi children, as he promised.
...
Why we should be starting a war with Iraq? Saddam began one in 1990 - one that dragged in the UN - by invading neighboring Kuwait. When he lost it speedily, he just kept going, agreeing to that long list of peace conditions and then ignoring every one of them. He went further than the coalition had even imagined - increasing terrorism, cleansing Iraq of inspections, increasing the strength of his army after it was left in shreds.

UN delegates still babble about reviving arms inspections, fooling nobody but wistful Americans. It is a nasty joke. The only kind of inspections that would be useful would come after Saddam and his successors are shot and their secret service torturers housed in their own permanent cells in hell.

To believe, as some Americans do, that there is no connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda is naive beyond forgiveness. He gives it arms, money and chemical weapons. Al Qaeda is an organization of people so perverted that they believe, and give thanks, that murdering or torturing women and children will bring them into God's heaven.

Not since the Nazis slaughtered the innocents in ovens have there been people crueler than those of Al Qaeda. I am reading the same books now that I did at the time of the Holocaust, trying futilely to get a hint of why God permits Al Qaeda and its Iraqi partner in satanic perversion to exist. Still no hint.

If you are not afraid to read the truth, look up the March 25 issue of The New Yorker and read "The Great Terror" by Jeffrey Goldberg about the Al Qaeda-Saddam connection. Read it or shut up about a rush to judgment."

(here is a link to the Jeffrey Goldberg piece)
Victor Davis Hanson on why the campaign to dispose Hussein may be easier, not harder, than the Gulf War.

" We are told that conquering Iraq now is much more difficult than liberating Kuwait. Again, the very opposite may be true. Saddam's military is worse, but ours is better than a decade ago and far more confident on the eve of battle. Before 1991 there was Vietnam; Afghanistan presages the present attack. If in 1991 we still suffered from a sense of postbellum Vietnam guilt and uncertainty, the last year after 9/11 has brought us confidence and righteous anger. Saddam Hussein controls only one-third of the Iraqi airspace; two-thirds are now very familiar to an entire generation of American pilots. In 1991 we had no idea of the extent of his weapons of mass destruction; now we have some idea of their nature and where he is likely to cache them.

Plentiful allies, of course, in theory are reassuring, but last time the Brits were stellar and the rest were mostly in the way, either haggling for the slots in the victory parade or carping that we could not go to Baghdad. So this time we get the benefits of real fighters without the costs of bringing along onlookers and show-boaters. Desperate Kurds and Shiites will prove better freedom fighters in liberating Iraq than opulent Kuwaitis and Saudis were in protecting their gold stashes. Before 1991, Saddam talked of the fearsome Republican Guard who had fought for a decade in Iran; this time we remember it was about an hour away from annihilation before the American M1s were called off. Like prizefighters, armies that were once badly beaten rarely wish for another licking in a rematch against the same opponent.
...
Analysts admonish that it is tricky to attack a country without warring against its people, and that it is especially hard to remove its dictator without killing his enslaved. The messy history of the recent years teaches us otherwise. We ousted Milosevic without killing thousands of Serbs, despite a series of tactical and strategic mistakes. And this time no one is calling for a Clintonesque air war with bombs in lieu of ground troops. Panama and Afghanistan proved that we can attack a country, rid it of its thugs, and in the process make life better not worse for the people.
...
There may well be surprises in store for everyone when the shooting starts in Iraq. But comparison with the first Gulf War suggests cause for present optimism not despair; and we must not take counsel of our fears. We may be more easily caricatured by both friends and enemies as imperial, interventionist, and unilateralist than last time, but we are also fighting for a far better cause — and in a world that is no longer once what it was. "
Why Bill Clinton would have been a much better African President. I'm not sure how to classify this article which is an odd combination of ass-kissing sycophancy, half truths, outright errors and just plain weirdness.

"Except for some alleged, or perceived or real weakness with women, ex-President Clinton would have left office as one of the greatest presidents of the United States in contemporary times, rubbing shoulders with his mentor, J.F. Kennedy. Of course, Mr. Clinton is a nice and great guy and like all great men of old and now they need to pass through what I call the 'damsel test,' courtesy Monica Lewinsky.

And here many great leaders have found it difficult to stay above board. If Mr. Clinton was a sitting president in Africa, his affair with the once intern lady would not have been an issue to worry our heads about. Africa thus provided a conduit pipe and a safe heaven from the media attack on his presidency at that time.
...
To what extent then can we put to use the minds of these great men, such as Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan, who as achievers in their own rights, can help resolve some of the serious issues of poverty plaguing and confronting the country and the continent?

He would be meeting and talking to President Kufuor, a new president in the country and affectionately called the "silent giant" who is committed to offer Ghana what Good Governance is. Probably Mr. Bill Clinton would and must meet the ex-President of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings, his friend, and possibly share notes on what it is to leave the oval office and the castle and how best to put their energies at the disposal of the poor of the world.

It would then interest former leaders of Africa that since former President Clinton left office, he has earned $9.6 million for giving 60 speeches. And he is even earning more money than when he was a president. Before he became president of the United States ex-President Clinton was never paid $35,000 a year.

Today, the situation is different. Any time Clinton gives a speech, dollar falls on his toes. In one lucrative spree in the British Isles last December, for example, he was paid $133,000 a day by the Jewish National Fund for three days in a row, during which Clinton gave speeches in Glasgow, Manchester and London.

Clinton capped that off with a fourth speech to the London School of Economics for $28,100, and a final address on the fifth day of his trip to the British Broadcasting Corporation for $75, 000. Bill Clinton and his wife, after leaving office in January 2001, managed to earn more than $12 million from speaking fees and a book deal last year.
...
With this, I welcome the former ex-President of the United States of America, Mr. Bill Clinton to Ghana, and a country known for its great richness in gold, cocoa, bauxite and people who are very educated, intelligent are creative and have an enviable trade mark in being hospitable yet remain HIPC and would seriously not refuse any offer.

Welcome to Ghana."
(via Lucianne)
Stratfor has a very interesting piece on what Iraq might look like after we take over. Much of it may go to our ally Jordan as Iraq had been a Hashemite kingdom before that family was overthrown.
Okay, now we can start the war, Spielberg and Cruise have signed on. (via Drudge)

Here is a great headline:

"Teens most often have sex at home: Study suggests need for increased parental supervision"

Why? Because it isn't good?

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Intel just demonstrated a 4.7 GHz chip. That is only about 9 times faster than the chip that is in my home computer that I just bought 3 years ago. It won't be available for a while though. But a 3 GHz Pentium will be available by the end of the year and that is only 6 times faster than the computer I have at home.
Illegal immigrant hospital bills: foreign aid distributed within US borders?
Public schools are really fascist. One just banned a girl for having dreads.
Looks like the Israeli siege is finally getting to Arafat:

It looks like the the British have their own version of the Libertarian party. Its called the "Official Monster Raving Loony Party".

Those of you who have ever been to a meeting of the Libertarian party will know what I am talking about. Which is why I continue to be a small "l" libertarian.
Here is a funny piece on how crazy the English language is. Here is a selection:

In what other language do people drive in a parkway and park in a driveway?

In what other language do people play at a recital and recite at a play?

Why does night fall but never break and day break but never fall?

Why is it that when we transport something by car, it's called a shipment, but when we transport something by ship, it's called cargo?

Why does a man get a hernia and a woman a hysterectomy?

Why do we pack suits in a garment bag and garments in a suitcase?

Why do privates eat in the general mess and generals eat in the private mess?

Why do we call it newsprint when it contains no printing but when we put print on it, we call it a newspaper?

Why are people who ride motorcycles called bikers and people who ride bikes called cyclists?
Some people still can't get over the 2000 election. Yes Al Gore is one of them. But another is Richard Cohen. Here is what he wrote today:

"Bully for Al Gore! Speaking in San Francisco the other day, the president of most of the people -- he won the popular vote, remember -- ventured where few prominent Democrats have dared and criticized President Bush's approach to a war with Iraq."

Give me a break. President of most of the people? Perhaps he is President of most of the people who voted. Considering that voter turnout was 51.2%, that is a very important distinction. But sadly, even that isn't true. When does 48.4% constitute most? Gore never won a majority of the popular vote. So if you count votes not cast as a vote for None of the Above the 2000 election broke down like this:

Gore 24.8%
Bush 24.5%
"Third Party" candidates 1.9%
None of the Above 48.8%

And this makes Gore "President of most of the people" how?
An interesting pro-war Op-ed in the New York Times written by a former CIA analyst on Iraq:

Proponents of deterrence argue that Mr. Hussein will not engage in new aggression, even after he has acquired nuclear weapons, because he is not deliberately suicidal and so would not risk an American nuclear response.

But what they overlook is that Mr. Hussein is often unintentionally suicidal — that is, he miscalculates his odds of success and frequently ignores the likelihood of catastrophic failure. Mr. Hussein is a risk-taker who plays dangerous games without realizing how dangerous they truly are. He is deeply ignorant of the outside world and surrounded by sycophants who tell him what he wants to hear.

When Yevgeny M. Primakov, a Soviet envoy, went to Baghdad in 1991 to try to warn Mr. Hussein to withdraw, he was amazed to find out how cut off from reality Mr. Hussein was. "I realized that it was possible Saddam did not have complete information," he later wrote. "He gave priority to positive reports . . . and as for bad news, the bearer could pay a high price." These factors make Mr. Hussein difficult to deter, because his calculations are based on ideas that do not necessarily correspond to reality and are often impervious to outside influences.
According to this article, it is possible that Venus is currently harboring life about 50 km above the surface.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Another blog got a letter from a German reader explaining a few things about the German election. It is obviously leftwardly biased but still interesting and entertaining. (via instapundit)
Here is the Fed's statement from yesterday:

The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to keep its target for the federal funds rate unchanged at 1 3/4 percent.

The information that has become available since the last meeting of the Committee suggests that aggregate demand is growing at a moderate pace.

Over time, the current accommodative stance of monetary policy, coupled with still robust underlying growth in productivity, should be sufficient to foster an improving business climate. However, considerable uncertainty persists about the extent and timing of the expected pickup in production and employment owing in part to the emergence of heightened geopolitical risks.

Consequently, the Committee believes that, for the foreseeable future, against the background of its long-run goals of price stability and sustainable economic growth and of the information currently available, the risks are weighted mainly toward conditions that may generate economic weakness.

And here is my plain language translation:

Well we have already lowered interest rates a lot but looks like the economy is still heading into the crapper. And lowering interest rates probably won't do much good at this point.

Fuck it.
Gore 'Not Better Off Than 2 Years Ago'

(2002-09-25) -- In a fundraising speech in Santa Fe, New Mexico, today Al Gore asked, "Are you better off than you were two years ago?" He then answered his own question.

"I don't know about you, but I'm not better off," said the failed presidential candidate. "Two years ago things were sweet for me and Tipper. Back then, we had attendants, and pollsters and aides and spokesmen and pundits swarming around, hanging on my every word. Back then, Tipper was picking out china patterns for the new house we felt sure we were getting. Back then, we weren't burdened with the painful knowledge of how the electoral college works...No, my fellow Americans we are not better off today than we were two years ago. Can I get an 'Amen'?" (from Scrappleface)
So just in case you think that we are always picking on liberals, Paul Craig Roberts has just given us a great target in order to balance the blog a bit. Read what he says about how to solve the problems in the Middle East:

"Before the United States finds itself embroiled in a Middle East conflict for which it lacks both economic means and popular support, I propose a different solution: Terminate the Middle Eastern conflict by inviting the 5 million Jews in Israel to settle in the United States... Despite extreme measures, Israel is unable to defend itself from Palestinian terrorists. The United States will not be able to defend Israel or itself from one billion Muslims. Trying to create a small Jewish state in a sea of Muslims was a 20th century mistake. Trying to reconstruct the Middle East would be a bigger mistake. Why not recognize the mistake, evacuate the Jews, leave the Muslims to themselves and focus on saving our own country?"

First, notice how quickly "invite" turns into "evacuate." The first term gives the Israelis a choice. But the second term doesn't necessarily. Second, obviously the "evacuation" would have to be involuntary as Israel is not North Korea, Syria or Iran as its citizens can come and go as they please. There are some Israelis who have moved to the States (like my lovely friend Ya-elle) but there are millions who have stayed. And considering a large proportion of Israelis are also American citizens, it is obvious that there is nothing that is stopping them from coming to the US. Third, how exactly is this not ethnic cleansing? That is precisely what it would have been called if this same columnist had just suggested that Israel resettle all the Arabs living in Israel in other Arab countries. Fourth, wasn't Israel created in the first place because the US turned back Jewish refugees trying to escape the Nazis and sent them back to Germany (most likely to their deaths). Fifth, his last point, "leave the Muslims to themselves and focus on saving our own country" seems like he is using the old argument of "just give them the Sudetenland and I'm sure there will be peace." Sixth, I have a problem with his statement, "despite extreme measures, Israel is unable to defend itself from Palestinian terrorists." Ummm, actually considering their neighborhood, there measures are far from extreme. Jordan killed more Palestinians in one month in 1970 (Black September) than the Israelis have since 1948. Syria completely leveled the town of Hama killing tens of thousands of inhabitants to make a point to people who are dabbling in Islamic extremism. Israel is having a problem because they are constantly holding back which there enemies view as a sign of weakness and lack of resolve.
What a surprise: It turns out that the July 4 El Al shooter was a member of an Islamic terrorist organization and even gave the INS the name when he applied for asylum.
Dick Armey is in trouble for saying before a mostly Jewish audience, "I always see two Jewish communities in America. One of deep intellect and one of shallow, superficial intellect." He then went on to say that those with deep intellect tend to be conservative.

It seems to me that the only people who are offended by this are perhaps the same people who think Bush is a bad president because he is "stupid."
The Dallas Fed has a good piece about welfare reform:

In the late 1980s, the number of people receiving welfare benefits in America began to rise. As the trend continued into the 1990s, a bipartisan coalition searched for ways to reform the American welfare system. Convinced that many welfare recipients could work if presented with appropriate incentives, political leaders devised a welfare reform bill that was intended to promote self-sufficiency while retaining a social safety net for those who temporarily have no other options.

The bill was intensely controversial. An influential policy adviser said the bill would inflict "serious injury to American children."[1] A senator who specializes in welfare issues said there was "absolutely no evidence that this radical idea has even the slightest chance of success."[2] And the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities predicted that the most significant effect of welfare reform would be "a large increase in poverty."[3]

Over these objections, President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) into law in August 1996. And in the years following passage of the law, welfare recipiency has declined significantly—without a corresponding increase in the poverty rate. Many observers now cite welfare reform as one of the most successful policy experiments in a generation. In the words of President Clinton, the welfare system has become "a second chance" instead of "a way of life."
Looks like I should be driving the Batmobile!!!





What's Your Movie Dream Car?

by Auto Glass America

Whew! The copyright infringment case brought by the estate and publishers of John Cage against the group the Planets has been settled. The dispute, as we previously reported, was over a piece by the Planets called "A Minute's Silence" which consisted of, a minute of silence. Cage's publishers thought this infringed on Cage's 4'33" which consisted of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. I wonder if the breaks musicians take between sets also constitute infringment.
Also in the WaPo, Robert Samuelson, who I think is becoming the best regular columnist dealing with economic, business and market issues (along with Bruce Bartlett) has a fine column on why increased stock ownership by individuals during the 90's didn't produce an increased attachment to capitalism but exactly the opposite, it produced increased calls for government protection and regulation.

" Greater shareholding leads to more -- not less -- government activism and regulation. It increases -- not decreases -- the political impulse to tinker with business and the stock market. The investor class behaves like other aggrieved groups, from farmers to steelworkers. When they have problems, they look to government for sympathy and help. If there are only a few shareholders, it doesn't matter. When there are roughly 80 million -- as now -- it matters a lot.
...
One reason that more shareholding didn't change the national consciousness is that stocks were not promoted as an exercise in risk-taking, which is the nature of capitalism. Instead, stocks were sold as a free-enterprise entitlement. If you invested and stayed in the market, you had to get rich. Risk was almost nonexistent, because stocks outperformed rival investments. True. Since 1926, the "real" (that is, inflation-adjusted) annual return on stocks has averaged nearly 7 percent, about triple the return on bonds.

But the message omitted many critical qualifications. To wit: (1) Despite their long-term performance, stocks sometimes fall or remain stagnant for many years; (2) some stocks do much better (or worse) than the averages; and (3) many investors do much worse than the market averages. This last point is poorly understood. One study finds that mutual funds had an average annual return of 13 percent from 1984 to 2000; but average mutual fund investors had average annual returns of only 5 percent over the same period. The reason: bad timing. Many individual investors bought when funds were high and sold when they were low."
Michael Kelly doesn't approve of Gore's recent speech to the Commonwealth Club.

"Gore's speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts -- bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate."

Sounds like a pretty good description of Gore too.
Sciences 10 Most Beautiful Experiments.

  • Eratosthenes' measurement of the Earth's circumference

  • Galileo's experiment on falling objects

  • Galileo's experiments with rolling balls down inclined planes

  • Newton's decomposition of sunlight with a prism

  • Cavendish's torsion-bar experiment

  • Young's light-interference experiment

  • Foucault's pendulum

  • Millikan's oil-drop experiment

  • Rutherford's discovery of the nucleus

  • Young's double-slit experiment applied to the interference of single electrons


I suppose one can always quibble with these sorts of lists which are voted on by many people, but I was really astounded that the Michaelson-Morley experment to measure the speed of the ether (there was no measurable speed which put an end to the idea of the ether) or Eddingtons verification of light bending around the sun (to verify part of Einstein's General Relativity theory) didn't make the grade, especially over experiments like Foucault's Pendulum or both Young's light interference and electron interference experiments.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

No wonder the Germans are against fighting in Iraq.
Thief admits crime gets $50,000 reward.
Here's the Blair dossier on Iraq. (via Sound & Fury)
Doug Bandow has a good piece on how funny it is that Gore is criticizing Ashcroft's policy towards civil liberties.
This from (where else) the Guardian:

"Mr Schröder's anti-war stance has played well in a country with horrific communal memories of conflict. He has argued that an invasion of Iraq would hinder rather than further the drive against al-Qaida and said that, under his leadership, Germany would not commit troops even if the operation had the blessing of the United Nations."


Horrific communal memories of conflict??? Yes, I suppose Germans would be upset by American attempts to get rid of mustachioed dictators who murder vast numbers of their ethnic minorities because of the horrific communal memories they have. (link via OpinionJournal)
Bureaucratic Leftism explained by Daniel Pipes.And the evidence for granting the UN authority over America's actions is?
Silent Running has posted links to articles about Iraqi Complicity in WTC Bombing & Saddam Trained Al-Queda Terrorists.
So the Iraq dossier has been published.
This headline says it all:


"Mutation gives sheep beautiful buttocks"

I bet the people of New Zealand are dancing in the streets now.
Alan Dershowitz has a good piece defending the Summers speech and attacking the Harvard petition to divest the University from Israel (via Andrew Sullivan):

"Let me propose an alternative to singling out Israel for divestment: let Harvard choose nations for investment in the order of the human rights records. If that were done, investment in Israel would increase dramatically, while investments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Philippines, Indonesia, the Palestinian Authority and most other countries of the world would decrease markedly."
Buffy BlogBurst

In life and on screen, men carry addiction to their female lovers. Wine, cocaine, gambling. My husband’s habit left me addicted to…Buffy. Despite my 35+ years, my preadolescent heart pounded at the star-crossed lovers, the magical demons, the triumph of good over evil. It all felt so good, and it was good for both of us: Romance for me, T&A for my husband, both mapped onto the clever dialog so that we perceive that we have experienced the same event, shared in the same pleasures.

So how much is Buffy addiction like, say, drug addiction? In the following description of drug addiction from the Mayo clinic, I’ve replaced “the drug” with “Buffy”. You are invited to compare your own habit to the list and draw your own conclusions.

General characteristics of Buffy addiction:

1. Feeling that you need Buffy regularly and in some cases many times a day.
2. Making certain that you maintain a supply of Buffy.
3. Failure in your attempts to stop using Buffy.
4. Doing things to obtain Buffy that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing.
5. Feeling that you need Buffy to deal with your problems.
6. Driving or doing other activities that place you and others at risk of physical harm when you’re under the influence of Buffy.

With regard to (3) I’d offer my attention to Season Six as a clear sign of addiction. For (4) I merely note that I probably won’t have dinner ready for my kids because I am writing this. As for (6) perhaps my brief flirtation with kick-boxing would qualify, and I’m sure I could list others if I weren’t late for fixing dinner.

Over the years I’ve allowed my habit to expand from the twenty some episodes offered seasonally. The best site by far, for my tastes, is The Spoiler Slayer. Free from the flotsam and jetsam of bulletin board posts I can revel in the GOOD STUFF, fragmented though it may be, and virtually commune with a spokesperson for others like me who own the Buffy rush. For other unabashed addicts who don’t avoid spoilers, I highly recommend visiting regularly.

Monday, September 23, 2002

I guess she really is not that innocent. Mmmmm Britney.
Yahoo! now lets you rent video games on demand from their website. How cool is that?
Looks like the recently crowned Miss Universe, Oxana Federova, has just been fired for refusal to work. Check out this quote from an "insider":

"She's an unbelievable beauty, and an unbelievably spoiled bi*ch. She doesn't want to do anything."

I feel like Russia has turned from the land of tragedy to the land of farce.

Some French researchers are saying that hidden extra dimensions are causing measurements of the strength of gravity at different locations on Earth to be affected by the planet's magnetic field. Could something like string theory really be true? It would definitely make things more interesting.
P.J. O'Rourke writes about his trip to Egypt.
A thoughtful piece from the National Post reminding us that the Left has always sided with dictators. It must be their yearning for the comfort and security the medieval monarchs provided.
Here is a rather interesting and lengthy profile of Paul Wolfowitz.
It's hard to imagine making this stuff up. All cultures are equal...yeah sure.
Beware the Gubmint Cheese
Geoff Barto suggests that instead of suing McDonalds for problems with obesity, that maybe these folks should start with the Dept of Agriculture and the government cheese they supply to schools.
The History of Michael Jacksons face. (via Max Power)
Tim Blair hawking HOT BEARDED ENVIRONMENTALIST ACTION!

They're smug, unscientific, earnest, and crazy for SUSTAINABLE SENSUALITY! Imagine investigating the GREENHOUSE EFFECT with this CONCERNED DUDE, or perhaps you'd enjoy a "TREESOME" with more than one of our BADLY-DRESSED GUYS who DON'T SMILE MUCH!

I found this interesting tidbit, written by Sigrid Schultz in the Chicago Tribune (13th July, 1939). She was the Tribune's Berlin bureau chief:

"Today England is being proclaimed as World Enemy No.1. She is accused of usurping the rights of small nations, of opposing Germany's "right to be the first power in the world."

Hatred of England is simmering or blazing in Japan, India, Arabia, Africa, Ireland, Russia, and England's ally, France. It is being fanned systematically by Nazi agents throughout the world.

Hitler, it is said, hopes to use this hatred to establish Germany as the most powerful nation in the world, the same as he used the German citizen's hatred of communism to establish his rule in Germany.

Friendship with Soviet Russia, or at least an understanding with her, can prove a powerful weapon in Germany's campaign "to force England to her knees," diplomatic sources declare.

The Germans figure that the English are so terrified of the possible formation of a Soviet-German bloc that Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax will again go to Germany and offer all the concessions the Germans want. If the British fail to respond to the threat, the Germans argue that they can still get enough raw materials and money out of Russia to make the deal worth while."

Draw your own parallels (Euclidean or non-Euclidean).
Scientific American has a neat article on advances in controlling robots (including robotic limbs) with your mind. (or in this case the mind of an owl monkey).

"If we had done everything correctly, the two robot arms would behave as Belle's arm did, at exactly the same time. We would have to translate her neuronal activity into robot commands in just 300 milliseconds--the natural delay between the time Belle's motor cortex planned how she should move her limb and the moment it sent the instructions to her muscles. If the brain of a living creature could accurately control two dissimilar robot arms--despite the signal noise and transmission delays inherent in our lab network and the error-prone Internet--perhaps it could someday control a mechanical device or actual limbs in ways that would be truly helpful to people.

Finally the moment came. We randomly switched on lights in front of Belle, and she immediately moved her joystick back and forth to correspond to them. Our robot arm moved similarly to Belle's real arm. So did Srinivasan's. Belle and the robots moved in synchrony, like dancers choreographed by the electrical impulses sparking in Belle's mind. Amid the loud celebration that erupted in Durham, N.C., and Cambridge, we could not help thinking that this was only the beginning of a promising journey."
My wife Barbara (occasional blogger), Max and I all attended the NY Blogger bash this past Friday. A good time was had by all. We had the pleasure of chatting with Megan McArdle (Jane Galt), Philip Murphy (Invisible Hand) and Mister Swill. We also briefly met Sasha Castel but only to introduce ourselves. Hopefully we will get to chat at the next event.

In other blog news we are on for the 'official' Buffy Blog Burst tonight. (At least Barb and I are, I don't think Max and Jerry are fans).

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Some pertinent questions for Germany and Canada about Iraq.