Saturday, October 19, 2002

More questions about the effect of humans on "global warming". Oh, no, Mr. Bill, it's the solar system's fault.
More for the Clinton legacy.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Another Jimmy Carter/Bill Clinton triumph. How many North Koreans have to die of starvation in order to keep the pacifists happy.
One reader has suggested that if there was a version of Snow White called Snow White and the 7 Actors, their names would be flakey, flighty, dingy, dummy, tardy, pouty and pretentious.

Okay, I'll stop now.
GOC has some handy tips for dealing with telemarketers.
Okay, this is a bit strange. Reuters has a story about a hostage crisis in a German school. At the very end is a line that says, "in Washington, a sniper has killed nine people and injured two people since October 2 in a series of apparently random shootings."
So now Sean Penn is taking on Bush's stance on Iraq. Why are we supposed to care what another entertainer thinks? I know plenty of actors and this is generally what they are like (yes the following is a generalization and if any of my acting friends actually bothered to read my blog it would get me into a heap of trouble but then again, so would just about everything else I post here):

1. A bit crazy (this is what happens when you have to pretend you are someone else all day every day).
2. Flakey.
3. Flighty.
4. Not very analytical in their thinking. Sometimes they are purposely downright illogical as being downright illogical makes them feel more like "artists".
5. Very vain. Appearances are everything.
6. Very insecure. If someone hasn't told them how beautiful or talented they are today, they get depressed.
7. Completely self-involved. They always want to talk about themselves and they always think you are talking about them even when you aren't.

And we want people like this guiding our foreign policy because......?
Colin "Carter-wanna-be" Powell is upset with the Israelis because of civilians who were caught in the crossfire earlier this week after Palestinians shot at and lobbed grenades at IDF soldiers. One member of the IDF put it best when he said, "If the Palestinians don't open fire, our soldiers will have no reason to shoot back." That seems to make sense to me.
Wisdom of Homer Simpson

Homer: No matter how good you are at something, there's always about a million people better than you.
Check out the site NoMoreAOLCDs.com which states:

"We represent all who are sick of receiving unwanted AOL cds. By sending us your unwanted AOL, Netscape, or CompuServe cds, you can help us make a statement. Once we have 1,000,000 collected, we will make our quest across America to give them all back to their rightful owner, AOL and say "stop doing this". Don't throw them away or get mad, send'em to us and we'll all end this wasteful practice while sharing a laugh or two."

They have already received 64,000 cd's.
There is a video making the rounds (it was on GMA this morning) of three middle school students on a bus rather severely beating up another student (and I guess the village idiot was driving the bus as they didn't stop the incident). Check out this quote from the Assistant Superintendent of the school district:

"This is not a normal thing happening with kids, but it does happen. Seeing it on videotape makes it much more disturbing. You get a better sense of what the child must have been feeling."

Can he be any more unemotional? This schmuck sounds like Al Gore. And just like the Clinton administration, the school district knew that the victim in this case was being harrassed by these bullies for a very long time and did nothing about it. So now the victim's parents are pulling their kid out of school in order to homeschool him. Now I realize that long term the child will be better off with homeschooling, but I also feel like he is being robbed of the right to go to public school if he wants because of the school district's complete incompetence. Maybe we should bring back corporal punishment in the case of bullies. That'll teach 'em.
For the folks who've missed Lileks this week because of the light bleat posting, he comes through with a great Newhouse column this week on the Bali bombing here.
Good piece by Dan Savage in the Stranger on the reasons to go to war with Iraq (and the Saudi's for good measure). (via Instapundit)

While the American left is content to see an Iraqi dictator terrorizing the Iraqi people, the Bushies in D.C. are not. "We do not intend to put American lives at risk to replace one dictator with another," Dick Cheney recently told reporters. For those of you who were too busy making papier-mâché puppets of George W. Bush last week to read the papers, you may have missed this page-one statement in last Friday's New York Times: "The White House is developing a detailed plan, modeled on the postwar occupation of Japan, to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein."

These developments--a Republican administration recognizing that support for dictators in Third World countries is a losing proposition; a commitment to post-WWII-style nation-building in Iraq--are terrific news for people who care about human rights, freedom, and democracy. They also represent an enormous moral victory for the American left, which has long argued that our support for "friendly" dictators around the world was immoral. (Saddam used to be one of those "friendly" dictators.) After 9/11, the left argued that our support for brutal dictatorships in the Middle East helped create anti-American hatred. Apparently the Bush administration now agrees--so why isn't the American left claiming this victory?
...
In the meantime, invading and rebuilding Iraq will not only free the Iraqi people, it will also make the Saudis aware of the consequences they face if they continue to oppress their own people while exporting terrorism and terrorists. The War on Iraq will make it clear to our friends and enemies in the Middle East (and elsewhere) that we mean business: Free your people, reform your societies, liberalize, and democratize... or we're going to come over there, remove you from power, free your people, and reform your societies for ourselves.
An al Qaeda suspect in custody in Belgium told investigators he saw members of the terror organization training snipers in preparation for attacks in the U.S. [More]

Thursday, October 17, 2002

So Canada has recently admitted a wanted terrorist after he "invested" $450,000 in Canada. Sometimes I wonder whether they pull this kind of crap specifically to piss us off.
In the U.K., not only will shooting a burgler in your house get you jail time, but now that guns are banned in England so will stabbing them.
The Zambian government has banned shipments of genetically modified (GM) food, while it's population is starving.

The government insists that the risks of GM food are too great. Groups such as ActionAid and Greenpeace warn that GM crops would threaten biodiversity and make subsistence farmers dependent on the biotech companies. Nor would the EU accept Zambian food imports deemed "contaminated".

Maybe someone should tell Greenpeace that these are about to become sub-subsistence farmers. (ie dead). Since this is in the Guardian there is also a dig at the U.S.

Analysts say, however, that the imbroglio would not exist were it not for the US system of tied aid. Instead of donating mostly money, as the EU does, to let those handling a crisis buy food on the open market, Washington donates subsidised GM food grown only in America. It is allegedly a covert, additional subsidy to its farmers.

If the aid agencies had cash rather than maize they could resolve the crisis without touching GM, said Guy Scott, a former Zambian agriculture minister. "But it is the official policy of USAid (the US agency for international development) to promote GM."


One of the reasons food donations are preferred to cash is that cash donations have a mysterious way of disappearing while presidential aides make frequent trips to Switzerland carrying large suitcases.

I also did a quick search of USAid's site and couldn't find anything stating that it was their policy to promote GM. The simple fact is that a lot of the food produced in the U.S. is GM. (28% of Corn, 68% of Soybeans)
A very strong argument for private gun ownership and why the UN gun control program is wrong and encourages genocide.
Serpentine, Shel! Serpentine

It seems the Maryland police have taken some advice from Peter Falk in the In-laws with this list of Tips for Staying Safe of which # 3 says "When moving outside, walk briskly in a zigzag pattern.". (via Lucianne)
Mark Goldblatt skewers Maureen Dowd at NRO.

The problem with this sort of writing is that it's free-floating sarcasm. There's no substance underneath except for Dowd's conviction that she can peer into the souls of her political adversaries in order to discern their true motivations. In this respect, she is simply Al Franken with a bigger vocabulary or Michael Moore with table manners. (Quick aside on Moore: Flip through his book next time you pass it on a shelf. Note the SENTENCES IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Note the preponderance of exclamation points! In the current climate, Moore is a wobbling monument to the false impression that mouthing egalitarian clichés from the Sixties constitutes a reasoned worldview; in a more literate time, Moore would pass for a JERRY SPRINGER GUEST!) Dowd, Franken, and Moore, taken together, represent the evolutionary spectrum of a new species of elitists. Elitism, to be sure, is as old as human society. But never in recorded history has a less cerebrally, morally, or spiritually elite Elite looked down their noses at the majority of their countrymen. The minimum requirement for membership in the intelligentsia used to be, well, intelligence. This is no longer the case. Rather, what is now required is the mere sense of your own superiority, the smirky confidence that flows from an undergraduate grasp of history, philosophy, and literature, and which can only be sustained by a maniacal deafness to counterarguments. Listening to your political opponents is deadly under such circumstances; they must therefore be dismissed, a priori, as stupid.

This is a corollary, not a mere a reiteration, of the case against the liberal media brought, intemperately but devastatingly, by Ann Coulter in Slander. (Coulter versus Dowd, by the way, would be an even worse massacre of a debate than Condi versus Hillary because Coulter would have no mercy.) The problem isn't that the new elites are consciously attempting to paint whoever disagrees with them as stupid; it's that they really believe that only stupid people could possibly disagree with them.
A woman from my home city of Springfield, Mass. is suing Costco because they fired her for dress code violations due to a facial piercing. She is claiming that this is religious bias as she is a member of the Church of Body Modification. So if someone joins a Church of Incompetence can they not get fired for doing something stupid???
Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments (via AndrewSullivan)

Abstract
People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.
Also in TNR, a good piece on how Iraq manipulates foreign media. Perhaps Nick Kristof should read it and take notes.

In fact, even Arraf herself seems to know that what she is saying is probably bunk. Last March she published a piece in London's Daily Telegraph (which the Iraqi Ministry of Information apparently missed), in which she outlined the near impossibility of reporting honestly on Saddam's regime. She wrote, "People in the streets are not allowed to talk to television journalists; or rather, the journalists are not allowed to talk to them. 'Why do you want to ask them political questions? They are not qualified to answer,' an official said. ... More than most countries, there is a wide gap in Iraq between what people profess in public for their own safety and what they say in private." Nonetheless, Arraf still frequently includes in her CNN reports, without qualification or caveat, footage of Iraqi people condemning the United States and lauding their leader.

Many of Arraf's colleagues commit the same egregious errors, treating regime-organized demonstrations as if they were genuine expressions of public opinion. NBC's man in Iraq, Ron Allen, filed a report from Saddam's birthday bash last April that noted, "[T]he huge crowds in the streets suggest Saddam still has firm control of his country. Iraqi officials defiantly insist the celebration sends a clear message, especially to the U.S., that the people will stand behind their leader." Introducing a tour of an Iraqi nuclear facility north of Baghdad last month, he said, "The propaganda war really heated up here in Iraq," but then never hinted at the many indications--the fact, for instance, that Iraq isn't allowing inspectors to visit the site--that the tour was a sham. The point, he told viewers, was "to show that, in fact, this site is virtually harmless. ... 'It's a peaceful place,' [the Iraqis] said, 'a place for peaceful research.'" He even refers at length to former weapons-inspector-turned-Saddam-apologist Scott Ritter, without an allusion to Ritter's well-documented change of heart about the Iraqi threat. Unlike Allen and Arraf, even the three Democratic congressmen--Jim McDermott, Mike Thompson, and David Bonior--who recently returned from a peace mission to Baghdad, grasped that a cursory inspection by nonexperts could serve no purpose except to further Saddam's propaganda.
Eric Raymond posts a draft of an Anti-Idolitarian Manifesto. Where do I sign?
Jeffrey Rosen says libertarians owe thanks to Dick Armey (and Bob Barr) for being in the forefront of defending civil liberties against Ashcrofts Justice Department. (you may need to register to view the TNR link).

If civil libertarians had to pick the two members of Congress most responsible for the defense of liberty since September 11, Armey and Barr would be at the top of the list. Because of their vigilant opposition to the expansion of federal authority, the version of the USA Patriot Act that Bush signed last October was less draconian than the initial draft he and Ashcroft had proposed. Because of Armey's efforts, half of the new surveillance powers in the Patriot Act will expire in four years, and the administration must report to Congress about its use of the Carnivore e-mail surveillance program. Similarly, thanks largely to Armey, the version of the homeland security bill that the House has passed (the legislation has yet to pass the Senate) explicitly repudiates a national i.d. card, and it rejects Ashcroft's proposed TIPS program, which would have encouraged citizens to spy on their neighbors. The House also approved Barr's amendments, which would require the Office of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to perform a privacy impact analysis of all of their proposed regulations.

The principled libertarianism of Armey and Barr contrasts sharply with the leadership of the Democratic Party, which might have been expected to defend civil liberties after September 11 but instead has acquiesced at every turn in the expansion of the national security state. Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt have shown as little interest in protecting privacy in the homeland security bill as they did during the debate over the USA Patriot Act. Eager to appear tough on terrorism, Daschle and Gephardt made no effort to ensure that the Patriot Act or the homeland security bill reserved the most invasive surveillance authority for the most serious crimes. The only Democrats who showed any persistent interest in civil liberties were those on the margins--such as Maxine Waters and John Conyers Jr. in the House and Russell Feingold and Pat Leahy in the Senate--whose views were considered too extreme to be taken seriously by negotiators from the Justice Department and the White House. As a result, it has fallen to Armey and Barr to carry the torch for civil liberties during the most important negotiations of the past year. Illustration by Thomas Fuchs And when the history of the response to September 11 is written, it will record that evangelical and libertarian conservatives--with their instinctive suspicion of federal authority--did more to defend liberty than mainstream liberal Democrats, who were captives of the public demand for security measures above all.
Good piece by Jonah Goldberg in NRO comparing Hitler to Hussein.

Once again, Saddam Hussein is being compared to Hitler on the talk shows and op-ed pages, and once again opponents of war are objecting, saying that Saddam isn't as bad as Hitler. The answer to these critics is: "So what?"

Comparisons between Hitler and Hussein, or Hitler and bin Laden for that matter, are hardly useless, but they tend to distort more than they reveal. As a historical analogy about the need to confront dangers early, I think it's fine (and not just because such arguments tend to cast Bill Clinton as the Chamberlainesque figure who spent his Oval Office days eagerly tearing pages from his calendar in anticipation of that glorious moment when the Olsen twins would be of legal age to intern for him while the Storm gathered). But the reason this analogy makes sense is that is invokes a very real and universal principle of catching problems early: "We should have stopped Hitler at Munich…" If we didn't have that example, we might be talking instead about the lessons learned from ignoring the rise of the Bolsheviks or the mob or whatever — because it is a lesson that needs invoking.

Where the analogy fails is when we're talking about degrees of evil and degrees of threat. To begin with, the question of "Who is more evil?" may make for a fun debate, but it's an irrelevant distraction. If morality is your game, then the only pertinent question is, "Is Saddam evil enough?" — and the answer there is obvious. From using rape as a casual punishment for opponents — male and female alike — to gouging out the eyes of prisoners, to gassing Kurds, to (literally) paving over Shias with asphalt while they were still alive, Saddam Hussein crossed the threshold of "evil enough" a long time ago.
The FAA has determined that the number one threat to airline security is ... passengers. (from the Onion)

Under the proposed reforms, the FAA would institute a strict ban on adult passengers, passengers 18 and under, international travelers, and domestic customers. A battery of questions and ID checks will be used to determine whether an individual is a pilot, flight attendant, or federal security officer—the only humans who will be allowed to board an aircraft flying within or headed for the U.S.

Actually, you can tell this is a spoof because in real life Mineta would've excluded young Arab males from the ban.
Benjamin, I just want to say one word to you...just one word.
Yes, sir.
Are you listening?
Yes, sir, I am.
Microfluidics.
Another of Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter's great accomplishments

11th hour call from Jimmy Carter

"My recollection is that before the president got to choose -- was asked to choose -- the door of the room opened and we were told that there was a telephone call from former president Carter in Pyongyang and that he wished to speak to me," Gallucci remembered.

Jimmy Carter had been meeting as a private citizen with North Korea's aging leader Kim Il Sung, and was calling to report a breakthrough. The White House session broke up and relieved officials watched television as Carter informed CNN by telephone of the latest development.

"I look upon this, this commitment by Kim Il Sung as being very important," Carter said on June 15, 1994.

Over the next few days, North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear program in return for new nuclear reactors that don't produce weapons-grade plutonium, along with oil to help meet its energy needs.

"Op plan 5027", the U.S. plan to defeat a North Korean attack, was put back on the shelf. But sources say after the close call in 1994, the plan has been overhauled, including a new agreement to ensure Japanese bases are available if the U.S. ever does go to war with North Korea.


I wonder how he has reacted to the news that the North Korean government *gasp* lied about their nuclear weapons program.
I have long ceased to be amazed by common innumeracy especially where statistics are concerned. But this item strains credulity. (via OpinionJournal)

The menu at the Coffee Garden at 900 East and 900 South in Salt Lake City has included a scrumptious selection of quiche for about 10 years.
The recipe calls for four fresh eggs for each quiche.
A Salt Lake County Health Department inspector paid a visit recently and pointed out that research by the Food and Drug Administration indicates that one in four eggs carries salmonella bacterium, so restaurants should never use more than three eggs when preparing quiche.
The manager on duty wondered aloud if simply throwing out three eggs from each dozen and using the remaining nine in four-egg-quiches would serve the same purpose.
The inspector wasn't sure, but she said she would research it.
"Becoming a powerfull electrode, Dr. Solar converts the salt water into its two basic gases, hydrogen and oxygen..."
-Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom, Number 2, December, 1962, page 23.


This and much more wierd and wackey science awaits you at The Comic Book Periodic Table of the Elements that was featured this morning on a PBS GED episode. The creaters of this site say that teachers all over the world are using the content they've posted to get kids plugged into chemistry. Hey, maybe we can enlist some of these superheros in the fight against Saddam...
There are apparently not enough government run papers in Iraq to hold all the propaganda. The NY Times helps out by printing some on it's op-ed page today authored by Mohammed Aldouri the Iraqi ambassador to the UN.

Iraq is not a threat to its neighbors. It certainly is not a threat to the United States or any of its interests in the Middle East. Once the United Nations inspection team comes back into my country and gets up to speed, I am confident that it will certify that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction — be they chemical, biological or nuclear. Such certification, we hope, will remove the shadow of war and help restore peace between our nations.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

An Australian gets it right on terrorists and terrorism. His reply to those who say that Aussie support for the U.S.was behind the Bali horror.
You know how those on the left are fond of calling those on the right stupid? Well it looks like one of the left's most visible spokespeople, Barbara Streisand, has made another idiotic mistake. According to Drudge, she recently referred to the Saddam Hussein as the "Iranian dictator". Drudge also has a nice recap of all her other recent embarrassments. Yes I realize Drudge has a grudge against her (wow, that rhymes!) but it is my view that just about anyone with a brain who isn't also tone death should also hate Streisand (as my mother put it, "Yentl would be a pretty good movie if it weren't for all that awful singing"). Here is the list, in case you have forgotten:

Timeline:

September: Streisand hit controversy when she faxed a spelling error-ridden memo to Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) asking him to resist Bush's Iraq moves.

October: DRUDGE revelations that Streisand fell for an Internet hoax when she falsely attributed a quote to Shakespeare in an attempt to castigate Bush at a star-studded Democratic fundraising event in Hollywood.

Later it was learned that she had bought and traded 800 shares of HALLIBURTON -- while Dick Cheney was its chief executive.
Good Hentoff piece on free speech (specifically the increasing lack of) on campus these days.
Stephanie Sailor
Now why aren't all the libertarian candidates like this? After reading her bio and platform, all I can say is come run in my district and you have my vote. I hope all the folks in Illinois' 9th district will giver her theirs.
Finally someone has suggested a valid reason to have given Carter the Peace Prize. Frank at IMAO observes "If Carter weren't so inept in office, Ronald Reagan probably would not have been elected, and thus the Cold War would still be ongoing. Carter was the one person most responsible for Reagan getting the presidency, and, for that alone, his legacy should be known as one that led to collapse of the Soviet Union and, eventually, to Communism itself."
Congrats to my friend Meg (aka Jane Galt) for getting a mention in the Washington Post!
"Saddam trounces Gore in Iraqi Election":

With exit polls showing that Mr. Gore's campaign never really caught on with Iraqi voters, who found Mr. Gore "wooden" and "phony", Gore-watchers said today that the former veep made several crucial errors in his run against Saddam -- goofs that doomed his electoral quest almost from the start.

"We were all telling him that he should move his campaign headquarters from Knoxville to Baghdad, but he wouldn't listen," said one Gore adviser late last night.

"Plus, it was a mistake to try to run against Saddam's environmental record," the adviser said. "Voters in Iraq are more worried about winding up in Saddam's torture chambers than they are about logging, which was all Al wanted to talk about."
A mummified dinosaur discovered in Montana is revealing new facts about the texture of it's skin and other anatomical features not revealed by skeletal remains.
Interesting piece in MIT Tech Review on what Hussein needs to build the lowest-tech atom bomb. (like the Hiroshima bomb).
A must-read article by a doctoral candidate in Iran.

To us, the Islamic revolution has failed. The system, in its entirely, is the problem; no Band-Aid reform will fix it. Iran's 23-year-old theocracy is as incapable of granting freedom and human rights as was the Soviet Union. No politician associated with the Islamic Republic is acceptable to us. There are no reformers in the clerical government. Our real reformers are among the 600,000 languishing in prison, or the hundreds of candidates who are disqualified in each election for believing in human rights or secularism. Do not sell out our freedom because of Khatami's meaningless double talk and irrelevant rhetoric. He is simply a smiling face of an ugly regime.
...
We also ask you: Please tune out the biased and shallow works of journalists who use their pens to editorialize rather than report news. The Los Angeles Times's Robin Wright often calls Khatami "the leading reformer in Iran." How is it that she has such open access to Iran, while her colleagues who report real and hard news are refused visas? Ms. Wright, why is it you have yet to write a single sentence critical of the abhorrent atrocities of the clerical regime? Where are you during our public executions, or the stoning of women that have doubled under Mr. Khatami? Where are your reports on the students languishing in prison, the girls detained, raped, and abused by the Islamic Republic's judges? You call Khatami a democrat yet you neglect his rejection and belittling of the very concept in the pages of Keyhan? Perhaps your Iran expertise does not include speaking Farsi? You quote his liberal speeches in Europe, yet are deafeningly silent about his televised speeches in Iran, declaring: "Those who abide by the Quran must mobilize to kill." To us as Iranians, that is unfathomable. Don't you realize that when we read your work, we ask what good is free press if it does not report the truth?

At this moment in our history, Iranians have limited means to voice our calls to the world beyond the rapidly crumbling walls of the clerical regime. We have a sense of urgency. Yet we feel left behind by the very champions of civil rights, human rights, and liberal reform who once dominated headlines. Don't abandon us now, not at this junction in our history.
Reuters Watch

Two things. Remember the Reuters headline "Bush Blames 'Terrorists' for Bali Blasts". Well now check this one out, "Saddam Wins 100 Percent in Referendum". Notice anything different? Yup, that's right, no quotation marks around the word "referendum". So somehow Reuters questions whether those who blew 200 innocent people to smithereens are terrorists but not whether the Iraqi referendum was an actual referendum. I also love the following line:

"The United States has dismissed the vote and said it lacked any credibility."

I love it how they make it sound like this is simply the opinion of the United States and may not actually be correct. There was 100 percent of the people vote yes with 100 percent participation by the electorate. If that doesn't seem strange to Reuters then they really must have had a brain tumor for breakfast.
Michael Kelly on why the Nobel should have been given to one or both of the Bushes.

As an ex-president perpetually and self-proclaimedly in the pursuit of peace, Carter has put in more amiable sofa time with more despots than anyone except perhaps Kofi Annan (who, come to think of it, was last year's peace prize winner). But what has he actually achieved -- as measured in concrete terms, such as the downfall of tyrannies, the liberation of peoples, actual victories over war and war's fruit, subjugation? Very little. (See wretched, oppressed, dictator-ruled Haiti before Carter's 1994 peace mission; see wretched, oppressed, dictator-ruled Haiti today.) Now, consider the belligerent Bushes. The first President Bush marshaled an army that reversed the gains of an illegal war and liberated 2 million people from a spectacularly vicious foreign occupation. This was not a small or ambivalent or symbolic accomplishment. One day, occupied Kuwait was a place of grand-scale, state-sanctioned murder, rape, torture and theft. The next day it was not; it was, again, a country at peace. The sole reason for this peace was the war brought by the American president.

The second President Bush marshaled an army that ousted the foreign-backed occupiers of Afghanistan and destroyed a tyranny whose entire philosophy and every action was a violation of all that is basic to human rights. Now, Bush proposes war again -- to overthrow what the New Republic, in its current cover story, "The Liberal Case for War," calls "one of the most internally violent and repressive regimes on Earth." This the Nobellians find morally objectionable.
...
Name, in the past hundred years, a single important triumph for peace and for liberal democracy that was purchased by the jaw-jawing the Nobellians so admire. No rush, take your time.

Now, look at what American war-war (and the threat of American war-war) won: the defeat of the fascist attempt to rule the world; the defeat of the communist attempt to rule the world; the consequent rebuilding of a Europe protected by American arms into a democratic and peaceful continent for the first time in history; the rebuilding of an American-protected Japan into a democratic and peaceful nation for the first time in history; the emergence of a world in which, for the first time in history, the peaceful values of liberal democracy are the ascendant norm.
According to Curmudgeonly & Skeptical, the Governor of Maryland just banned the discharge of firearms in Marylands 4 largest counties. Ummm, exactly what good is that going to do. I don't really think the sniper is suddenly going to say "I thought I was just committing murder 9 times, I guess I have to stop since I really don't want to break any gun control laws, that could get me in real trouble!"
I never knew this but apparently in the 1970's scientists discovered remnants of 2 billion year old natural nuclear reactors. Lucky for us, they don't seem to exist today. I can hear Saddam now, "oh, it was like that when I got here."

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

With the election in Iraq today now over, exit polls indicate that Saddam has won! When Saddam's poll numbers dropped below 99.98%, the party considered asking him to resign so they could find a more acceptable candidate. But the deadline for replacements passed in 1979 so the Supreme Court turned down the request and Qusay had all the requesting party members tortured and shot.

Jimmy Carter observed the elections and declared them to be free and fair.

However, Al Gore is flying to Iraq with his legal team to contest the results.
Wendy McElroy has a good piece on FoxNews about political correctness and how to stamp it out.

But political correctness is also an attitude. The politically correct arrogantly expropriate "the truth" and deny the possibility of honest disagreement. To them it is a given: anyone who dissents does so because of ill motives -- e.g. economic greed, patriarchal power-lust, racism. To the PC, society is a battleground on which classes of people representing good and evil conflict: black versus white, female versus male, Western culture versus the "emerging nations." The coin of the realm is collective victimhood, not individual responsibility. (via Rand Simberg)
This is absolutely hilarious. Some PETA protesters who were protesting milk outside of a school got pelted with milk cartons by the students (from Andrew Sullivan). I love the following comments by one of the students:

"This is a stupid idea. We should be encouraged to drink milk and I certainly won’t stop drinking milk just because a man has dressed up as a cow outside my school."
Those guys at the Onion are simply brilliant. Check out the story titled "FAA Considering Passanger Ban". The funniest part is when the bureaucrats are trying to explain why they are considering the measure in typical bureaucratic reasoning:

"In every single breach of security in recent years, whether it was an act of terrorism or some other form of crime, it was a passenger who subverted the safety systems on board the aircraft or in the terminal," FAA administrator Marion Blakey said. "Even threats that came in the form of explosives inside baggage were eventually traced back to a ticketed individual. As great a revenue source as they have been, passengers simply represent too great a risk to the airline industry."

Wisdom of Homer Simpson

Homer: Yeah, you know, boys, a nuclear reactor is a lot like a woman. You just have to read the manual and press the right buttons.
Check out the letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald below. This person seems more upset that the Prime Minister of Australia called the appeasers "wrong" than with the fact that 200 young people were blown to smithereens while on holiday (from Tim Blair):

I take extreme exception to John Howard telling the majority of Australians who do not share his views of what occurred in Bali that they are "wrong" and "morally bankrupt" as he did on radio today.

Further, for him to tell us that he has taken a strong stand against terrorism is supreme arrogance. That he has taken a hard-headed and stubborn stand is true. That he has followed submissively the line of George Bush and others in the US administration is true. But that does not equate with "strong". Indeed, it exhibits exactly the opposite: weakness.

It takes a far stronger person and far greater leadership for someone in his position to say that they will take another course than one of promoting and practising further violence in the world, in the face of such terrible events as we are presently witnessing, not only in Bali but also almost daily in Palestine, parts of Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India.

Instead of attempting to condemn us, Mr Howard might show some real strength by pledging to take note of the sentiments and suggestions being put forward by the majority of Australians who condemn the violence.

Pat O'Shane
Have you noticed how the newspaper articles on the DC sniper keep going back and forth between him driving a "light-colored" or "cream" Chevy astrovan and white box truck? It looks like the authorities aren't quite sure what they are looking for. And apparently, its even possible that the sniper isn't even using a rifle. According to one gun expert there are handguns out there that have the needed accuracy. If this is true there is good and bad news. The good news is that the killer has to be closer to his targets in order to hit them, increasing the chances that someone may witness something. The bad news is handguns are much easier to conceal that rifles. Not to mention that the authorities aren't looking for handguns. If this guy is really using a handgun and driving something as innocuous as a blue ford escort, he will be able to continue this rampage for a long time.
John Derbyshire discusses, in his inimitable fashion, NJ Poet Laureate Amiri Baraka.

Mere historical truth is of course beneath the notice of a poetic genius like Amiri Baraka. If you actually try answering some of his questions, in fact, you get into some very confusing terrain. "Who killed the most Africans?" Other Africans, without any doubt. Tribal warfare has been endemic in Africa since remote antiquity, except for the few brief decades when European colonizers suppressed it. "Who bought the slaves, who sold them?" Same answer, mostly. Every single pre-colonial African society was slave-owning, and some post-colonial ones have resumed the tradition. "Who killed Malcolm?" Some black radicals he'd fallen out with. "Who keep the Irish a colony?" I dunno — ask Bertie Ahern, prime minister of the Irish Republic. (Then tell me whose navy shut down the Atlantic slave trade.) "Who got rich from Armenian genocide?" You got me on that one, Amiri. Who did?
...
Pleased with having got to the bottom of this "powerful and respected" poet's challenging production, I felt inspired to have a go at something along the same lines myself. I cannot hope to compete with such a giant of American letters, of course, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I hope Mr. Baraka will take my feeble effort in that spirit. Everybody has to start somewhere, after all. Amiri Baraka, for example, started out as LeRoi Jones, a humble organizer of race riots back in the 1960s. Who knows? If I keep at it long enough, maybe I could become Poet Laureate of New York State. I could sure use 10,000 bucks. OK, here goes.

Somebody Stuck It To New Jersey Taxpayers
by John Derbyshire

Who took help from Jews when getting his scam started
Then turned and spat on them when a cozy sinecure came along
Who praises despots, wreckers of nations
Murderers, despoilers of innocence — Kabila, Lumumba, Lenin, Che
Who thinks Nkrumah was a benefactor of anyone but himself
Who believes the most transparent driveling anti-Semitic lies about 9/11
Who thinks "Tom Ass" is a really, really funny way to write "Thomas"
Who mau-maued the governor
Who put one over on the guilty white liberals at those fool Art Councils
Who's an illiterate moron
So stupid he can't even keep his racism straight...
Mark Steyn on Saddam Hussein's campaign song (yes, today is the day of the referendum on whether Saddam should remain President for the next seven years). One wonders if the appropriate royalties are being paid and if not where is the RIAA on this?
Richard Preston (who wrote the terrific and terrifying novel The Cobra Event) has an equally frightening op-ed in the NYT about how easy it is to re-engineer smallpox to make it resistant to vaccinations and more virulent.

Few people realize how straightforward it is to put a gene into a virus. Genetic engineering of viruses, for peaceful research, has become routine and standardized. The cost of supplies for creating a strain of engineered virus for an experiment can be less than $1,000, and it can be done on a laboratory countertop that's three feet long.

Pox viruses are among the easiest viruses to engineer in the lab because they readily accept foreign genes. The first engineering of a pox virus was done more than 20 years ago. There is little doubt that Iraqi biologists know how to do it. Smallpox could probably be genetically engineered in a couple of rooms in a small facility with relatively simple safety precautions, and it might be very hard for inspectors to find it or prove what was going on. A nation that has clandestine stocks of smallpox might thereby be able to make a strain that would do an end run around the American stockpile of the vaccine, with severe consequences.
Here is a gallery of pictures from the Bali attack aftermath.
It's been over a year since 9/11 and I think some, especially those outside NY, have forgotten what it felt like that day. They have forgotten why we have decided to fight terrorism. The picture below of a man who just had to identify the body of his dead daughter (he is holding a picture of her in his hand) in Bali is a heart wrenching reminder.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Another carbon nanotube application.
Here is an interesting article on the quest for the $1000 genome.
These Iranian clerics are truly pathetic. They want to arrest dog owners and confiscate the dogs. Now what do you think they are going to do with the dogs ? Kill them of course. What a murderous group of people.
It seems O.J. is no longer 'sure' he didn't murder his wife.

Days after former O.J. Simpson defense attorney Johnnie Cochran admitted he is no longer 100% certain that his client was innocent, Mr. Simpson today said that his attorney had planted "fresh seeds of doubt" in his own mind.

"For years, I've been pretty sure that I did not murder my wife," Mr. Simpson said today at a golf course in Boca Raton, Florida, where he was taking a rare break from searching for the real killers of his wife. "But if Johnnie's not 100% sure, I'm like, hey, maybe I better take another look at this."
The brother of Carlos the Jackal is now director of energy in the Venezuelan Ministry of Energy and Mines. So the brother of the terrorist who had held many OPEC ministers hostage back in the 1970's is now head of energy in an OPEC nation. Anyone else disturbed by this? Its also disturbing that his name is Lenin Ramirez Sanchez. I can't believe we botched that coup back in April.
Check out this story on Saddam's sons. These are real quality people.
Paul Johnson has a great piece today on the problems Europe is facing.
The creator of this site believes he is better than your kids.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Add another to the list of Fatwa recipients. But this time in Bangladesh and it's a year jail sentence rather than death.The crime insulting Muslim sensibilities by asking that Muslim women be treated more fairly in a book. More reasonableness from the "one book" people.
For all those convinced that Iraq is starving as a result of the embargo, here's clear evidence that it's not food they seek but weapons.
I just love this headline from Reuters:

"Bush Blames 'Terrorists' for Bali Blasts"

Now why exactly is "terrorists" in quotes in the instance? When you kill 200 tourists in a couple of night clubs, I don't see how you can be anything but a terrorist.