Saturday, October 26, 2002

Orwell understood the nefarious nature of pacifism. Here's a piece that highlights his disdain for the pacifist fools.
Libya seeks reparations from Italy. How's this for an idea: the allies who liberated Libya during WW !! seek reparations from Libya for services rendered. I think we can settle for one half of their annual oil output for the next 100 years.

Friday, October 25, 2002

I never really thought I'd see this but here is a "Dog Shoots Man" story.
From Charles Krauthammer:

During the Clinton administration, which of these deserving nations became the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid in the Asia-Pacific region?

(a) The Philippines, longtime friend and ally.

(b) Indonesia, moderate, Muslim and developing.

(c) Cambodia, impoverished and rebuilding.

(d) North Korea, a deranged Stalinist dictatorship that feeds its million-man army while starving its people, that sells ballistic missiles to America's worst enemies and that is building nuclear weapons.

Did I tip my hand?
Okay, now what is wrong with this picture. Check out CNN.com and Foxnews.com, in both the fact that authorities will seek the death penalty in the sniper case (ooooh, what a shocker) is featured more prominently than the fact that hundreds of Russians are currently being held hostage in a Russian theatre and it looks like the Russians are going to storm it. This potentially could be a disaster even bigger than Bali for heaven's sake! What is wrong with these people! Check this out from Stratfor:

The Russian government has halted all negotiations with the Chechen militants who seized a theater in Moscow, and the Kremlin reportedly plans to end the crisis by force, Pravda reports. Orthodox priests were allowed into the building earlier today, along with bread, water, juice and cigarettes. All journalists were removed from the scene. Vehicles have obstructed all views of the building, and several ambulances are stationed in the area. The hostage-takers have threatened to start executing their captives at 6 a.m. local time on Oct. 26 (3 a.m. GMT, 8 p.m. EST) unless Moscow orders Russian forces to withdraw from Chechnya.

Even though I am Russian and born in Moscow, I do sympathize with the Chechen cause. They have been oppressed by Russia for what looks like 150 years. Stalin, at one point, had exiled the entire population to Siberia and made them walk back home (I think about half of them died on the way). Obviously I understand them wanting nothing to do with the Russians anymore. But while I know that Chechnya has been decimated by Russia, why attack innocent civilians over a thousand miles away from the battlefield? Where does that get you? Russia lost over 20 million people during World War II (and some say that they have already lost 14,000 soldiers in this latest Chechen war) and killing several hundred civilians won't exactly weaken their resolve, it will only strengthen it. And if it came down to it, I wouldn't be completely shocked if they decide to simply nuke all of Chechnya as payback (what is left of it). I really hope none of my relatives decided to watch that musical.
Joe Bob Briggs, the hilarious movie critic, has an entertaining piece on the education system:

Every time one of those new studies comes out about "Why Johnny Can't Read" -- we'll get to that in a minute -- I wanna whack these people upside the head and ask them why they never do a study on "Why Lonnie Can't Pay Attention."

In other words, the studies are always about outside influences -- class size, educational level of the teacher, zero-tolerance policies, "friendly" curriculum -- and they never once consider that some of the students might be similar to my nephew Lonnie, who's a SCREWUP.
Senator Paul Wellstone is dead. And it looks like the Democrats will simply choose who will replace him on the ballot. According to Minnesota law they have until November 1. While I rarely, if ever, agreed with Wellstone at least I knew he had principles, which is more than you can say about most politicians. And on a personal level he sounds like a decent man (he's no Ted Kennedy. Jeez, I think rape victims groups would throw a parade if he ever kicks the bucket.)
I know other blogs (like andrewsullivan.com) have already linked to this story but I think it is a good one anyway. Michelle Malkin definitely deserves a cupie doll for this story on the profiling involved in the sniper investigation. Check this out:

Dr. Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist at New York University Medical Center, described the shooter as "white, male, single, 20s-30s . . . (with a) longtime fascination with hunting and shooting."

Chris Whitcomb, former FBI hostage rescue team member, told NBC's Katie Couric that "statistically, it's going to be a white male, and it's going to be a young person, young 20s emotionally, but also because that's the age most likely statistically somebody's going to commit a crime like this."

Brian Levin, the director of something called the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism in San Bernardino, Calif., stated confidently that the killer "is kind of a wallpaper white male, a disenfranchised, disrespected man who's getting back at society. That's one of the reasons he's kept his distance from inner D.C., where he might lose his cover."

The media immediately embraced the Angry White Male theory by sensationalizing the cops' questioning over the weekend of one Robert Gene Baker. Newspaper reports described him as "heavily tattooed" and "linked" to "militia and white supremacist" groups. The headlines screamed: "Supremacist Sought in Sniping Spree" and "Neo Nazi Named as Sniper Murders Suspect."


I wonder how much air-time an African-American muslim theory would have received? I really love Michelle Malkin's conclusion:

Many in the mainstream media are convinced that a "wallpaper white male" is responsible for the D.C. area sniper killings. But the faces of evil come in every color. We must be prepared for all possibilities, not just the ones that play into reporters' preconceived notions about hunters, soldiers, tattoos and guns.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

TradeSports is a site that lets you trade "futures" on sporting and political events. Current odds given for Hussein won't survive as Iraqi president to Jun2003 are 64%. (via Ipse Dixit)
The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook (via Ye Olde Blogge)

I find myself trying ever more radical interpretations of traditional dishes, in an effort to somehow express the void I feel so acutely. Today I tried this recipe:

Tuna Casserole

Ingredients: 1 large casserole dish

Place the casserole dish in a cold oven. Place a chair facing the oven and sit in it forever. Think about how hungry you are. When night falls, do not turn on the light.

While a void is expressed in this recipe, I am struck by its inapplicability to the bourgeois lifestyle. How can the eater recognize that the food denied him is a tuna casserole and not some other dish? I am becoming more and more frustated.
Funny Dave Barry piece on the Stupidest State.

An outfit calling itself ''Morgan Quitno Press'' recently ranked the 50 United States in order of intelligence, and I am TICKED OFF. My state, Florida, came in 47th. Can you believe that? Forty-seventh! How dare they? How dare they suggest that Florida is more intelligent than three other states? No way!

The three states ranked as stupider than Florida were Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico. Granted, these are not gifted states. But stupider than Florida? Stupider than the state that STILL does not really know who it voted for in the 2000 presidential election? Stupider than the state that will issue a driver's license to ANYBODY, in- cluding people who steer by leaning out the car window and tapping their canes on the roadway? Don't make me laugh.


(also via Joanne Jacobs via Number 2 Pencil)
Joe Bob Briggs on why Lonnie Can't Do Squat.

OK, here's the latest big education mega-study. It's called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a federally funded survey of 72,000 junior high and high school students. And the results, to sum it up, are that all schools should be smaller than 1,200 students, because if you get bigger than that, the students feel isolated and they're more prone to anti-social and self-destructive behavior. They need to feel "connected." In fact, "connectedness" is the new buzz word in education.

Well, OK, yes, sort of. But I would say that the reason schools should be as small as possible doesn't have as much to do with the kids feeling isolated as with the TEACHERS feeling isolated. The bigger the bureaucracy, the more you have to go along with the prevailing "one size fits all" theory du jour. The principal makes sure you don't spend any extra time with Penelope, because Lonnie's parents might come in one day and kick his butt.

We've actually done the same thing to teachers that we long ago did to judges -- we took all discretion and creativity out of the process. A judge is no longer allowed to say, "All things considered, we're gonna let this one slide," because he's not expected to JUDGE anymore. He just slaps down mandatory sentences that are set by a legislature that doesn't trust him.

In a similar way, teachers are assaulted daily with policies on diversity, multiculturalism, discipline, structure of teaching time, proper forms of address, all to make the classroom ever more formal and yet ever more "sensitive" at the same time. Somebody told me that high school band directors are no longer allowed to fling their batons at the trombone player when he lets out a big blat in the middle of a rest. Now THAT'S an educational loss that will damage our musical heritage for years to come.


(via Joanne Jacobs)
Paramount Pictures have been given first option for the rights to 'Godfather IV'. I'm excited. Yes I'm one of those folks who consider Godfather I/II along with Citizen Kane the greatest American films ever made and was aghast when I discovered my wife had never seen them when we first started dating (sort of like discovering you're dating an alien...I think I love this woman, but she's never seen the Godfather, how could we possibly be compatible). But it turned out to just be an oversight in her busy life before we met, she enjoyed them appropriately when I we watched them together for the first time on New Years eve with the movies Havana New Years eve scene occuring exactly at midnight with no planning on my part. We now watch them every year on New Years eve to recreate the first time we watched them together. I also liked Godfather III and think it gets a bum rap for not being as good as I & II, but it's a very high bar. On it's own, I think it was one of the best films of the year it was released, despite FFC's overloooking of his daughters acting deficiencies. Her's was a small part and the rest of the main characters Pacino, Keaton, Garcia, Wallach, Montegna and even Hamilton and Novello all gave fine performances.
Today down in Houston they had an auction of all Enron assets. Lots of good deals -- I picked up two senators and a congressman.
-- Jay Leno
Jonah Goldberg has an interesting essay about power, corruption and their relation.

Today, the "power corrupts" syllogism has — like so many other things — been translated into a credo of personal morality. It insists that power makes you a bad person — i.e., self-aggrandizing, cruel, megalomaniacal, blind to all moral distinctions, and so on. And that just isn't true. If it were, history would simply be the story of bad powerful men. And, while there most certainly were plenty of bad powerful men, there was also, for instance, George Washington. He might have become a king if he'd wanted, but he chose not to. He could have stayed president for life, but he chose not to. And, as NR's Richard Brookhiser has chronicled, Washington remained a decent man, courteous to a fault in fact, as he grew in influence and power. Likewise, Abraham Lincoln — at whom certain libertarians love to throw the Acton quote — may have suspended habeas corpus, but the evidence seems fairly lacking that he was a corrupt man or that he grew more corrupt as he grew more powerful. Last I checked, Jimmy Carter didn't become noticeably more praetorian for having had the arsenal of democracy at his disposal.

Obviously, power can blur judgments. But if absolute power corrupted absolutely, that would mean that all absolute monarchs and absolute rulers were equally — and absolutely — corrupt and therefore indistinguishable from one another. I'm no great student of such matters, but I can't imagine it would be hard to disprove this. Couldn't some kings be more corrupt than other kings even though they held roughly the same amount of power?

In fact, this clichéd notion — that "absolute power corrupts absolutely" is an iron law of history — implies almost exactly the opposite message to what Acton had in mind. He wanted historians — i.e., us, humanity, society, etc. — to distinguish between the moral choices of powerful men. He explicitly rejected the idea that all powerful men are good — or bad. Acton believed that some popes were good men, who wielded their power wisely, and that other popes were bad men deserving of the historian's obloquy. He would have been horrified to learn that people think he meant we should simply dismiss the whole lot of popes as equally contemptible.
Saddam has ordered all diplomats living abroad to send their children back to Iraq. Yes, we wouldn't want mass defections by Iraqi diplomats to tarnish the view of Saddam as U.S. persecuted scapegoat.
The fourth installment of David Frum's series is up.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Harry Belafonte and the friends he keeps. "An unreconstructed Stalinist." A man not worthy of polishing Colin Powell's boots or being in the same room as Condoleza Rice.
"Outside of the killings, we have one of the lowest crime rates in the country." —Marion Barry, mayor of Washington, in 1989

"If you get away from the debt and fraud, this is a tremendous company with tremendous asset."--WorldCom CEO John Sidgmore, quoted by InfoWorld, Oct. 18 (from Best of the Web)
The Sky is not Falling Great piece. (via BizarreScience)

The nadir was plumbed, as so often, on the Today programme when a well-meaning, tear-stained voice lamented the plight of the poor plants and anxious animals which could not be expected to cope with change. The comment was so wet that you could shoot snipe off it. Good grief! Nature has been coping with change since some archaic Nigella was stirring the primal amino acid soup while earthquake, fire and flood raged all around. “I just love those rich blue-green stromatolites, don’t you?” (Sly, girlish glance.)

So, a few benighted birds, such as the lesser-striped sporan, might have to migrate to live in Sweden: how dreadful. And think of our feathered friends from the South: they might have to seek asylum in Britain under Blunkett’s brutal regime, confined to a webfooted wilderness in the Fens. Meanwhile, back in the hedgerow, spring was dangerously early this year and the autumn colours are not quite the same. “We’re all doomed!” as Private Fraser would intone, with twisted mouth and goggle eyes.
...
But the 22-carat gold nonsense starts when our politicians declare that we can manage climate change to produce “a sustainable climate” — the world’s most outrageous oxymoron. I have this preposterous vision of a quixotic Michael Meacher, accompanied by a faithful Sancho Prescott, tilting at the Sun, capping exploding volcanoes, diverting conveyer-belt ocean currents with snorkels to the fore, and, like Superman, heaving meteors back into space. The idea that, by fiddling about with a couple of politically chosen gases (carbon dioxide and methane), we can make climate do what we want is one of the most dangerous myths of our post-industrial age.

Perhaps I should play Lex Luther, Superman’s alter ego. If you really want to mess up the world’s climates, especially in the Tropics, then cover the Tibetan high plateau with black plastic sheeting and see what that does to the subtropical jet stream, the monsoons, and Lois Lane’s hairdo and make-up.
Very funny court transcript via Eugene Volokh (who says it's a joke, but still very funny).
Wisdom of Homer Simpson


Homer: Marge, I can't wear a pink shirt to work. Everybody wears white shirts. I'm not popular enough to be different...
Funny chart of what the Europeans think of each other. (via LordMage)

It reminds me of an old joke with many variations:

Heaven has Italian lovers, French chefs, German engineers, Swiss bankers, English police.

Hell has Italian bankers, French engineers, German police, Swiss lovers and English chefs.
There's also a good piece in the London Times by William Rees-Mogg:

In all politics, and in particular in American politics, events change attitudes. The South should not have fired on Fort Sumter in 1861; the Germans should not have sunk the Lusitania in 1915; the Japanese should not have attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941. By the same logic, Al-Qaeda should not have destroyed the Twin Towers in 2001. Before these acts of aggression, negotiation was still open; the American determination had not crystallised.

After they had occurred, the destruction of the aggressor became inevitable. In each of these wars, the initial challenge came from the other side. But once Americans are convinced that they face an implacable enemy, that has a revolutionary effect. The aim of terrorists is to radicalise their own potential followers; 9-11 radicalised the American people, despite their anxieties.

Some of the opponents of the war argue that al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussain are two separate groups, but al-Qaeda is indeed an enemy of Saddam Hussain. The Americans I was meeting do not see it like that. They regard all Islamic terrorism as forming a single threat.

Americans do not know, or much care, what precise relationship exists between al-Qaeda and the Bali terrorists. They see them both as being in the same line of business, and do not doubt that some links exist between them. They see Saddam Hussain in the same light. He is the brutal dictator of an Islamic country; he had repeatedly supported terrorists and used terror himself. To allow him to develop weapons of mass destruction would, they think, be as irrational at allowing al-Qaeda to do so.
This diagram has been distributed to operators at the Rockville command center

Ass -> <- Elbow
For the "Well Duh" file:

"Cobain journals reveal tortured soul"

And the tortured soul wasn't revealed by him putting a shotgun barrel in his mouth and pulling the trigger?
Check out the Dilbert Weasel Award results. They seem pretty accurate to me (from Andrew Sullivan).
This from a recurring series of 'anecdotes' about that psychotic despot, er, great and benevolent leader Kim Jong Il from the Korean Central News Agency

Anecdotes about Kim Jong Il

Pyongyang, October 22 (KCNA) -- Kim Jong Il visited newly built furnace no. 6 of the Hwanghae Iron and Steel Works in May Juche 55 (1966). While looking at furnace men working in front of the furnace, he was afraid that their working site was dusty.
He asked an official whether the gas-absorbing system was established or not at the furnace.
Hearing an answer from the official that it was planned to complete and establish the gas-absorbing system, he said that it should be done first before anything else.
So, the operation of the new furnace was suspended until it was equipped with antipollution facilities.
It was happened in the summer of 1965 when Kim Jong Il gave on-the-spot guidance to the expansion project of the Chongsu Chemical Factory. He learnt that officials were interested only in the expansion project of the carbide workshop, indifferent to the black smoke shot up from the chimney of the factory.
Returning from the guidance tour, he told officials they, fully responsible for the destiny of the people, could not allow air pollution even a bit but provide the people with pollution-free living conditions.
What he said reflected his strong sense of responsibility for the destiny of the people.



It's obvious why Jimmy Carter liked him so much though, they had the same minutae-oriented, micromanagement approach to governing. Kim has also been known to have 'lusted in his heart' after a pretty woman or two and also to have come from humble beginnings (born in a log cabin according to official accounts. Of course ol' Jimmy didn't let the economy get so bad that large portions of his population were starving, but then again he was only in office for four years and if you extrapolate his economic performance over the same period as Kim Il Sung/Kim Jong Il have ruled N. Korea he might have achieved similar results.

This is what the MSNBC summary has to say, I guess things have gone downhill since 1966.

Human rights: From 2001 U.S. State Department report
"The Government's human rights record remained poor, and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses. Citizens do not have the right peacefully to change their government. There continued to be reports of extrajudicial killings and disappearances. Citizens are detained arbitrarily, and many are held as political prisoners; prison conditions are harsh. The constitutional provisions for an independent judiciary and fair trials are not implemented in practice. The regime subjects its citizens to rigid controls. The leadership perceives most international norms of human rights, especially individual rights, as illegitimate, alien, and subversive to the goals of the State and party. During the year, the Government entered into a human rights dialogue with the European Union; two meetings were held, but no significant results were reported. The Penal Code is Draconian, stipulating capital punishment and confiscation of assets for a wide variety of "crimes against the revolution," including defection, attempted defection, slander of the policies of the party or State, listening to foreign broadcasts, writing "reactionary" letters, and possessing reactionary printed matter. The Government prohibits freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and association, and all forms of cultural and media activities are under the tight control of the party."

Read the full 2001 U.S. State Department Report

Major environmental issues: Localized air pollution attributable to inadequate industrial controls; water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water
Some 'reasoned' opinion from our 'good' friends the Saudis, quoted in todays Best of the Web:

"Allah decreed that the Jews would be humiliated; he cursed them, and turned them into apes and pigs."--Al-Jazirah, a Saudi newspaper, June 7

"We are proud that they define us as someone who strikes terror into the heart of the enemies of Allah and our enemies, but not according to the definition they [the Americans] want. America wants us to define terror according to its criteria. The American definition of terror is that anyone who resists America's colonialist and religious interests is a terrorist."--Saudi sheikh Mohsin Al-'Awaji, interviewed on al-Jazeera television, July 10

"It is enough to see a number of congressmen wearing Jewish yarmulkes to explain the allegations against us."--Prince Sultan bin Abd Al-Aziz, the Saudi defense minister, quoted in London's Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, June 23

"According to the Western view, flogging is illogical. Execution is unacceptable, and the same goes for amputating hands and stoning. These are things that in Muslim eyes are at the core of the Islamic faith."--Ghazi Al-Qusaibi, former Saudi ambassador to London, quoted in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, June 5


James Baker has a good op-ed in the WaPo on North Korea.

The leaders of North Korea starve their people to maintain the world's fifth-largest military force and with it personal power over a bankrupt country. They earn hard currency by selling advanced missile technology in violation of the international missile technology control regime. Potentially just over the horizon is the ultimate proliferation nightmare -- ballistic missiles fitted with nuclear warheads.

This is exceedingly dangerous and enormously troubling. What it is not, however, is surprising. Rather, it is the natural and foreseeable result of the 1994 Framework Agreement between the United States and North Korea.

The government of North Korea holds power by force. All it understands is force, strength and resolve. By acceding to blackmail threats and signing the Framework Agreement, the United States turned a policy based on strength into one based on accommodation, compromise and appeasement.
...
Given their track record before 1994, there was substantial reason to question whether the North Koreans would ever keep their side of the Framework Agreement. The worst part is that it sent this dangerous message to other would-be proliferators in capitals such as Tehran and Baghdad: "Sometimes crime pays."

But those who criticize have an obligation to suggest an alternative approach. So what should we do now? Instead of caving in to Pyongyang's belligerent threats, I think the United States should go to the U.N. Security Council and obtain political and economic sanctions against the North for breach of its solemn international obligations, much as we did against Iraq in 1990; beef up our forces in South Korea to whatever extent necessary; and quietly make it clear to the North Koreans that for more than 40 years the U.S. nuclear deterrent kept the peace in Europe against an overwhelming Soviet conventional superiority, and we are quite prepared to do the same on the Korean peninsula to fulfill our security obligations to South Korea and Japan.
It always amazes me at how incompetent civil servants are. Check out this article on gaffes related to the sniper investigation. It all sounds like some kind of bad movie:

The letter listed half a dozen calls that had been "ignored" by operators answering phones at the command center in Rockville, the Montgomery County police station and the FBI. It even named some of the people who had taken his calls. They had hung up, the letter stated; that was "incompetent."

...

One law enforcement official said the man believed to be the attacker failed to get through at least three separate times.

A follow-up call went through, but an FBI trainee who answered the phone did not recognize the call for what it was and cut the conversation short, the official said.

"The individual taking the call did not understand the importance of what was happening," the law enforcement official said. "She pretty much blew him off."


I can just imagine how the call went:

Trainee: Hello, FBI, we're here to help.
Sniper: Hi, this is the sniper, I want to get through to someone in charge.
Trainee: What unit are you with? We have lots of snipers.
Sniper: No, you don't understand, I'm THE sniper. The one you guys are looking for. The one that keeps blowing people away?
Trainee: Oh yeah, I'm sure we are ALL looking for you. God, do all guys have delusions of grandeur? You sound like my boyfriend.
Sniper: Any chance I can speak to someone else? Like your superior?
Trainee: My manager has better things to do than to talk to some egotistical maniac who obviously has issues. And I also am not happy with the fact that just because I'm answering phones you automatically treat me like an inferior. How do you know I'm not the superior? I do have a law degree from Yale.
Sniper: Just hear me out...
Trainee: Men always seem to think you are god's gift to women. You think you are so much better than everyone else.
Sniper: I am god.
Trainee: At least you admit your problem.
Sniper: Listen, I'm in charge here.
Trainee: No, I am *click*
Sniper: Those people make me just want to go out and shoot someone. Oh wait...
David Frum has a very good series in the Telegraph debunking war myths. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Part 4 will appear tomorrow. (You may need to register to see all articles)

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Wisdom of Homer Simpson

Marge: Homer, please don't make me choose between my man and my God, because you just can't win.
Homer: There you go again, always taking someone else's side. Flanders, the water department, God...
Excellent post by Rob Lyman on why he left the Left.

In these two quotes lies the essence what drove me from liberalism to conservativism. I am not a conservative because I'm a racist, because I enjoy pollution, because I think coal miners deserve to die in accidents, because I think poor people deserve to starve to death, or because I think war is wonderful and I want as many wars as possible to feed my twisted imagination. I share Gunnar Berge's belief that diplomacy is essential and that war should be a last resort. I share Greenpeace's love of the woods and water, and Martin Luther King's thirst for justice. I share Sarah Brady's abhorrence of violence and the ACLU's passion for freedom. I believe in charity and compassion for the poor and oppressed. But on a host of issues--gun control, Social Security, the environment, workplace safety, civil rights, I find the "liberal" arguments--as advanced by elected officials like Ted Kennedy, by NGOs like the Sierra Club, and by well-known pundits like Helen Thomas--to be rooted in fantasy and magical thinking. In a perfect world, no one would need to use a gun to defend themselves. Therefore, we must outlaw self-defense. In a perfect world, humans would have no impact on the natural enviorment, and would eat organic foods. Therefore, we must battle pesticides and fertilizer while simultaneously railing against deforestation which fertilizer makes unnecssary. In a perfect world, no one would be poor. Therefore, we must use the power of the federal government to give the poor money, and accuse anyone who thinks charity should be voluntary of wanting to throw children into the street. In a perfect world, Saddam would be a rational actor who negotiates in good faith. Therefore, we must pretend he is exactly what he most certainly is not. The U.N. is the "Parliament of Man" which somehow expresses the will of the world's people, rather than the self-interest of 190 governments, most of them dictatorial. I am a conservative because it appears that being a liberal requires a suspension of disbelief more extreme than the average James Bond flick.
Get ready for a 3 Gigahertz Pentium 4 November 14!!!
The mindset on the left is really fascinating. Check out this letter to the editor of the NYT from a a member of Greenpeace who states "Mr. Komatsu and Japan need to realize that Greenpeace will not be bullied or deterred from exposing Japan's lawlessness when it comes to commercial whaling." When you send out protest boats to interfere with commercial whaling, aren't you the one's who are trying to bully those who don't agree with you to toe your party line? I don't remember whaling ships interfering with other people's ways of making a living. Though for the life of me I don't see how people in Greenpeace make a living since I don't see how they provide any value to anybody. I guess that makes them parasites.
Eugene Volokh has a good post on the gun-control movement in the U.S.

Self-defense and crime have been at the crux of the gun control debate for decades. They were certainly part of the debate about Columbine -- and maybe the reason that, "[d]espite the attention the tragedy received, no major gun legislation was passed," is that many voters thought that gun control isn't really going to stop people who are bent on mass murder and suicide. Maybe the reason that "Banning handguns was off the table. Americans didn't want to hear about gun control." is that Americans think gun control will only disarm the good guys and not the bad guys. Maybe the reason that "a 1982 initiative in California that would have banned the sales of new handguns in the state . . . failed," leaving "the gun control forces look[ing] out of step" is that people think that handguns are necessary for their self-defense.

Not a peep about this. Why not? Are the notions of guns being a self-defense tool, and of gun control being inadequate to fight crime, so alien that they don't even bear mentioning -- despite their centrality to the debate that the article is supposedly talking about?
Daniel Pipes lists some of the larger Muslim countries with Islamo-fascist problems. We've ignored this problem long enough, perhaps Babs Streisand would like to have a talk with them so they would see the error of their ways.
Reason article by Joyce Lee Malcolm on the, er, unexpected consequences of Englands gun ban. It seems that when guns are outlawed only outlaws have guns. It is actually even worse than just a gun ban, self-defense of any form is discouraged and apparently prosecutable.
IBM is working on self-healing computers. As a former sysadmin I have one question, what if they have a bug and start fixing things that aren't broken, thereby breaking perfectly working parts? It reminds me of the line from Spaceballs, "even in the future, nothing works!" Yes I know, your geek alarm is probably deafening by now.
A pair of physicists have produced a study which suggests that the universe may stop it's accelerating expansion and begin to contract. So instead of the open-ended cold death we may be in for a flaming collapse in a mere 10-20 billion years.
Sometimes, I am really embarrassed to have gone to Penn. Check out this column from the Daily Pennsylvanian which Andrew Sullivan linked to today. Especially this passage:

"Even aside from provoking terrorism, Bush threatens the U.S. by waging a hugely expensive war in a depressed economy. And since this war will most likely extract itself out over a long period of time, our deepening recession will have little hope of imminent salvation."

I love it, "provoking terrorism". Like if we just kept quiet everything will be fine. He obviously has zero knowledge of Arab culture where not fighting back is viewed as a sign of weakness. Plus, Jews hadn't fought back from Roman times all the way through 1948, look where that got us. Adam Fishback also seems to be completely devoid of knowledge of recent American history as World War II was a hugely expensive war fought in a depressed economy and actually got us out of a depression.

Oh, and one other thing, according to the column, Adam Fishback is an "American Identities" major. I have no idea what that is, they must have started it after I left Penn in 1995. I wonder how his parents feel paying $36,000 a year so that their son can be an "American Identities" major. Don't tell me, he wants to be a lawyer. Well he is half way there, he is already a schmuck.

Hey Adam, repeat after me, "would you like fries with that?"

Boy, aren't I in a plucky mood this morning.

Monday, October 21, 2002

The Wisdom of Homer Simpson

Homer: Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.

(Also be sure to check John Hawkins list of favorite Simpson's quotes here)
Steven Den Beste explains why EU centralization is inferior to the American competitive model.
Here is Andrew Sullivan on why the Left singles out Israel for protest:

The answer, I think, lies in the nature of part of today's left. It is fueled above all by resentment - resentment of the West's success, resentment of the freedom to trade, resentment of any person or country, like Israel or Britain or the U.S., that has enriched itself by means of freedom and hard work. Just look at Israel's amazing achievements in comparison with its neighbors: its vibrant civil society, its economic growth, its technological skill, its agricultural miracle. When you think about all Israel has achieved, it is no surprise that the resentful left despises it. So, for obvious reasons, do Israel's neighbors. If they had wanted, the Arab states could have made peace with Israel decades ago, and enriched themselves through trade and interaction. Instead, rather than emulate the Jewish state, they spent decade after decade trying to destroy it. When they didn't succeed, rather than seek reasons for their own backwardness and failure, rather than engage in the difficult task of reform and renewal, the Arab dictators and their pliant propaganda machines simply resorted to the easy distractions of envy, hatred and obsession. Al Qaeda is the most dangerous and nihilist manifestation of this response. Hezbollah is a close second. But milder versions are everywhere. And what do people who most want to avoid examining their own failures do? They look for scapegoats. And the Jews are the perennial scapegoat. Now that the Jewish people actually have a country to themselves, the anger and hatred only intensifies.

This attitude isn't restricted to the Middle East. In the West, parts of the left, having capitulated to moral relativism and bouts of Western self-hatred, have seized on Israel as another emblem of what they hate. They're happy to have Saddam get re-elected with 100 percent of a terrified vote, happy to see him develop nerve gas and nuclear weapons to use against his own population and others. They're happy to watch Syria's rulers engage in regular massacres; or the Saudis subject women to inhuman subjugation. This they barely mention. After all, these countries form part of the "oppressed" developing world. But Israel's occasional crimes in self-defense? They march in the streets. Telling, isn't it?
Andrew Sullivan in another brilliant piece.
Live video of a working micromachine (MEM) from Sandia. The gear teeth are the size of red blood cells. Cool, huh?
Quantum mirages.
Rush Limbaugh on Maureen Dowd:

"It's obvious Maureen Dowd hasn't gotten over her breakup with Michael Douglas who she thinks is a real American president but he didn't do anything but utter the words written for him by Aaron Sorkin and stand where someone director told him to stand and have his hair coifed by somebody who knew what to do, and then he blew it by running off with Catherine Zeta-Jones, leaving Maureen Dowd in the lurch. All she's got now is bourbon for mouthwash, and it's showing on her columns."

Yes it is a low blow. But she deserves it.
The UN shows its teeth dealing with the problems of starvation in the DR Congo -- keep four or five people from traveling. Huh? If you wait for the UN to do the right thing you ensure mass slaughter.
For the "Well Duh" file:

"Drugs found on Kid Rock's bus"
My cats have been catching and torturing chipmunks, moles and other small local fauna. I have to find out where to get one of these to teach them a lesson.
From Scrappleface:

Survey: Journalists A Lot Smarter Than World Leaders
(2002-10-19) -- A new poll of journalists worldwide reveals that writers and editors in news organizations are a lot smarter than presidents, prime ministers and military generals.

The survey, funded by the Center for Fostering a Higher Opinion of the Competence of Journalists (CFHCJ) , found that while national leaders often make mistakes, fail to comprehend the significance of their actions, and leap to decisions without careful forethought, journalists almost never do any of those things.

"We were surprised at how wise journalists are compared with world leaders," said an unnamed source at CFHCJ. "It's amazing that the men and women who lead nations ever rose to such positions of responsibility, considering their relative ignorance and incompetence. Perhaps more incredible is that few nations have elected reporters, editors and columnists as chief executives."

The CFHCJ initiated the study after researchers noticed that reporters and columnists often have better ideas than world leaders, even though they lack access to reliable information and must shape their opinions from hearsay, conjecture, news releases and public statements by people who have self-promoting motivations.
Quote of the Day:

"I don't need Harry Belafonte to tell me what it means to be black."

-Condoleezza Rice

(from Lucianne.com)
For more on Maureen Dowd's descent into incoherent raving, see Josh Chafetz at OxBlog who maintains a regular DowdWatch. Also be sure to check his Immutable Laws of Dowd.
After his ban on smoking in bars is passed, Mayor Bloomberg intends to tackle that next great threat to bar patrons, drinking. According to a spokesman for City Hall, studies show that not only is drinking alcoholic beverages dangerous to one's own health causing liver damage and health problems, but also increase the risk of auto accidents and can increase the risk of violence between bar patrons and employees. The Mayor's spokesman said the Mayor doesn't believe bar patrons or employees should have to put up with the health risks associated with being shoved or punched or even the psychological damage that may result from the trauma of being repeatedly asked "What'chu lookin' at?" or "Hey baby, what time d'you get off?". Studies have also shown links between alcohol consumption and increased levels of sexual harrassment and other inapproprate behaviour. Bar owners have complained that they will lose large portions of their business if alcohol consumption is banned in bars arguing that people come to bars knowing that alcohol is served there and are aware of the effects and that they could choose to go to a coffee shop or ice cream parlor if they chose to. The Mayor's spokesman said that bar patrons health and safety was of greater importance than their right to choose for themselves and that it was the government's job to look after them much as a loving parent takes care of a young child.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

A treatise on why profiling is necessary.
An amazing list of Gov.Gray Davis' "pay to play" campaign donations scheme. A corrupt Governor in a state completely controlled by his party. Where's Bill Simon's campaign ?
It really is amazing how the worthwhile content of Maureen Dowd's pieces has steadily gone down to close to zero and she has reduced herself to doing nothing but making fun of the President in the most childish way possible. Read how her latest one opens:

"The Boy Emperor picked up the morning paper and, stunned, dropped his Juicy Juice box with the little straw attached."

Is she going to call him ugly next?
As part of the 1994 accord with North Korea, the US provided energy to North Korea in exchange for it not developing nuclear weapons. Well according to this article in the New York Times the US has decided to no longer its end of the accord. What kind of irks me is that there was a debate in the first place as to whether or not this should happen. The article states there was "a lengthy debate within the White House over the risks of abandoning the agreement altogether." Okay, now who exactly were these schmucks who were arguing for us to continue to provide energy to a totalitarian Communist state who just admitted to lying to us in order to get that energy? Talk about making us look weak. Imagine honoring your half of a peace treaty when the other country has already invaded. Why would anyone ever honor agreements with us if they know that we are too chicken to pull out of our end even if they have already pulled out of theirs?
Juan Gato has received a letter from Osama bin Laden too! Osama assures Juan he's not dead.