Saturday, November 09, 2002

Another reason the EU is against military action is that any fight would show how woefully unprepared they are for battle. As this piece in The Guardian, of all places, says "America does the fighting, Europe does the dishes". Nato without the US is a fiction. The EU and Canada have been living off the American taxpayer for decades. Perhaps we should tax them for services provided.

Friday, November 08, 2002

The USS Clueless explains how the UN Security Council resolution got unstalled one day after the US elections.
According to this WaPo article Rev. Jim Ball doesn't think Jesus would drive an SUV if he were alive today.

"Most people don't think the kind of car they drive has anything to do with their faith," said Ball, 41. "We want to show them it does."
...
Concern has escalated among some prominent religious leaders that politicians and voters alike are paying too little attention to the threat of climate change, which scientists warn could lead to more frequent and heavy storms, floods, and epidemics spread by mosquitoes migrating to warmer climes.


Christianity has long regarded Man as the center of the universe, but perhaps the good Reverend should have his congregation read this before he has his flock riding their bicycles to Sunday services.

TABLE 4a.

Anthropogenic (man-made) Contribution to the "Greenhouse
Effect," expressed as % of Total (water vapor INCLUDED)
Based on concentrations (ppb) adjusted for heat retention characteristics  % of All Greenhouse Gases

% Natural

% Man-made
 Water vapor 95.000% 

 94.999%

0.001% 
 Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 3.618% 

 3.502%

0.117% 
 Methane (CH4) 0.360% 

 0.294%

0.066% 
 Nitrous Oxide (N2O) 0.950% 

 0.903%

0.047% 
 Misc. gases ( CFC's, etc.) 0.072% 

 0.025%

0.047% 
 Total 100.00% 

 99.72

0.28% 

There's also an excellent essay on anti-Americanism by Roger Kimball in the New Criterion.

But the access of anti-Americanism that followed al Qaeda’s attacks proceeded in a shriller, more virulent register than most earlier examples. It also seemed less rational. Appleyard duly noted that America was far from a perfect society. But what role had Americans actually played in “that most awful of all centuries,” the twentieth?

"They saved Europe from barbarism in two world wars. After the second world war they rebuilt the continent from the ashes. They confronted and peacefully defeated Soviet communism, the most murderous system ever devised by man, and thereby enforced the slow dismantling—we hope—of Chinese communism, the second most murderous. America, primarily, ejected Iraq from Kuwait and helped us to eject Argentina from the Falklands. America stopped the slaughter in the Balkans while the Europeans dithered."

Very good piece by Orson Scott Card on the decline of the Constitution and rule of law.

America used to have a Constitution.

Of course, we still have a written document. It describes a wonderful fairyland in which power is shared among three branches of government and between the federal government, the states, and the people.

We even had a real Constitution -- a set of traditional rules that had the weight of years behind them, and which often coincided with the written Constitution.

But within my lifetime, bit by bit, both the written and the real constitutions have worn away, until today they both hang on by no more than a thread.
There is a very interesting group discussion on FrontPage on Anti-Americanism. Participants include Paul Hollander, Stanley Kurtz, Dan Flynn & Victor Davis Hanson.
Bloomberg is a complete disaster. He wants to raise property taxes in New York by 20% ($2 billion). Let's see, when he raised cigarette taxes, tax revenues actually went down. This tax hike is going to make it even harder for restaurants and bars to stay in business in this city. And its not like corporations didn't have enough incentive to go to lower cost suburbs after 9/11.
This thing looks really cool. Its a dual motorcycle/jetski.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Headline of the Day (via Best of the Web):

"Squirrel Terrorizes Town"

And has this quote from a town resident:

"I'll never trust squirrels again."
I'm waiting for this to be blamed on the US not signing the Kyoto Treaty.
A couple visiting New York from New Mexico have been hospitalized with what looks like Bubonic Plague! Bubonic Fu*king plague! This is just unreal. What hasn't happened to this city? What's next? An asteroid? Orcs and unicorns running rampant? Jesus and Santa having a kung fu match at the top of the Empire State Building? Nothing would surprise me at this point.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

The army just used a laser to shoot down artillery.
Well Duh Headline of the Day:

"Rosie O'Donnell 'prone to bitter outbursts'-report"
Bigwig on the "New Perfect Manhood"
I would love to see this in person. This company claims to have developed 3D LCD displays that work without special glasses and without requiring special 3D photography, instead they use some sort of conversion software which will convert 2D film to 3D. You can get a 42" Plasma display from them for $12K. (My wife never knows what to get me for my birthday or Xmas).
Looks like John, Barbara and I are all federalists. Who woulda thunk it? But at least both of them got to be President. Damn brown-nosers.


The Democratic party should have watched more episodes of the Simpsons. Here is an exchange from the episode where Bart gets the family expelled from Australia:

Homer: Hey, do we get to land on an aircraft carrier?
Pilot: No, Sir, the closest vessel in the USS Walter Mondale. It's a laundry ship. They'll take you the rest of the way.


Yes I know I am kicking him while he is down. But you know what? I don't really care.
Here is a great piece in the New York Times on smoking from the owner of Elaine's, which is around the corner from me:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wants us to ban smoking entirely. He wants us to say no to the customers — neighborhood people, regulars and the tourists. Let us not forget about the tourists. We all know what tourism means to New York. And we can't afford to lose any.

The city is hurting. Hotel occupancy is down. I can't even discuss what's happening to Chinatown. I, for one, don't want to give tourists, especially international travelers, one more reason for not coming to New York. Yet the Bloomberg administration wants us restaurateurs to tell them that if they want a cigar or cigarette after dinner, no go. Can we afford to lose this business? I don't think so.

So I have a plan. It's very simple. The city wants to protect people from second-hand smoke. We restaurateurs want to keep doing business. And the city needs money to close its huge budget gap. So I propose a smoking license for restaurants, hotels and bars. It would be similar to a liquor license. For let's say $1,500 or $2,000 a year, a restaurateur, hotelier or bar owner could obtain a license for each of its venues. With the license, we would simply maintain the current smoking laws, which confine smoking to the bar area in all restaurants with more than 35 seats.


I guess the problem with having a billionaire mayor with no further political aspirations is he doesn't really give a fu*k about his constituents. It will have been a fun little project for him and then he'll just move on to being a jetsetting playboy.
Also check out the Onion story on how India's top physicists have developed a plan to get the hell out of India.

Check out the "What Do You Think" section of this week's Onion. The topic this week is the Russian theatre raid. My two favorite quotes are:

"I can't say I'm shocked. Killing Russians has always been what Russia does best."

Jamie Koss
Librarian

and

"I trust that the Russians handled this correctly. No doubt we'll soon learn that every gas victim was actually a Chechen collaborator. Yes. This is what we will find."

Oleg Yashin
Russian Official
Check out the reaction to the decision by Sharon to call for early elections after Labour walked out of the national unity government:

Palestinian officials and European Union diplomats voiced concern that Sharon's decision to hold elections nine months ahead of schedule would stir more turmoil in the Middle East at a time when Washington is threatening war with Iraq.

"This puts off any serious peace effort before the elections...Israeli political infighting, both between the parties and within each of the parties, will make progress impossible for now," an EU diplomat said.


That damn democracy. It is so inconvenient. The Israeli government may actually be forced to LISTEN to its constituents instead of listening to unelected officials in Brussels. What is the world coming to!
Quote of the Day:

"So now can I go back into my cryogenic freezer?"

--Fritz Mondale upon hearing he lost to Norm Coleman.

Okay, he didn't really say that. But maybe he should.
A poll conducted by IKEA has found that men with messy sock drawers have sex three times more per month than those with organized sock drawers. (For the curious, my sock 'drawer' is a big pile in a basket in my closet which I pick through every morning to find a pair that matches, make your own inferences).
One of the side-effects of the drop in the sheep population in Scotland.
Let's hope Jim Jeffords enjoys his new post as Senate washroom attendent. I am actually only marginally pleased by the GOP victory since I think the economic positives are offset by the civil libertarian worries presented by Homeland Security which will almost certainly be passed with everything the President wants. (Although to be fair, the strongest voices against this massive expansion of the Federal Gubmint were Armey and Barr (also Ron Paul), all of whom were Republicans). In specific races though, I am particulary pleased at the losses of Kennedy in MD and Mondale in MN and disappointed in the victories of Lautenberg in NJ and Davis in CA. On a much more positive note Oregon voters handily defeated the idiotic universal health plan which would've caused a mass exodus of high-income taxpayers and bankrupted the state.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Check out this headline from Drudge from Election Night: "Republicans Smell Senate"
Shades of Kafka

Luciano was born a male 28 years ago, but the birth certificate mistakenly called him Luciana and designated him "female." He spent years trying to correct the error, but the Italian bureaucracy proved too much for him. The situation became urgent when he decided to marry his girlfriend and was forbidden from doing so because Italy does not recognize 'same-sex' marriages. So he decided to have his sexual identity overturned under Italy's sex-change law.
For those who have trouble getting up in the morning, a German inventor has created a bed that tosses you on the floor five minutes after the alarm goes off. The article also describes some other inventions on display at the Nuremberg International Invention Fair.
This shows how far along the road to state control we have travelled. This is an excerpt from the New York Court of Appeals opinion in a 1885 case known as The Tenement
House Cigar Case:

"Liberty, in its broad sense, as understood in this country, means the right not only of freedom from actual servitude, imprisonment, or restraint, but the right of one to use his faculties, in all lawful ways, to live and work where he will, to earn his livelihood in any lawful calling, and to pursue any lawful trade or avocation. All laws, therefore, which impair or trammel these rights, which limit one in his choice of a trade or profession, or confine him to work or to live in a specified locality, or exclude him from
his own house, or restrain his otherwise lawful movements, are infringements upon the fundamental rights of liberty, which are under constitutional protection."

Compare this decision with a century+ of zoning restrictions, licensing restrictions which are completely unrelated to competancy requirements, ordinances which dictate what color you can paint your house, how many gallons of water your toilet can use, land-use regulation, highly dubious Eminent Domain seizures, etc...
From Fridays Best of the Web:

Hatchet Man

"Members of a Southern California family escaped unharmed Thursday after a hatchet-wielding man barged into an Orange County home and assaulted his former in-laws and his own 10-year-old daughter before being felled by a single shotgun blast," United Press International reports from Laguna Hills, Calif.


This story points up the need for more-stringent hatchet-control laws. The power of the Hatchet Lobby is such that in most states, anyone can buy a hatchet--there's no waiting period, licensing requirement or even limit on the number of hatchets you can buy. Don't get us wrong; we're not for a complete ban on hatchets. Contrary to the "ax nuts" at the National Hatchet Association, responsible hatchet control poses no threat to legitimate wood-choppers.

NASA is spending over $15,000 (yes, I know that amount of money doesn't even cover the ink costs for the periods in Federal publications, but it still could've been spent to get better O-Rings for the Challenger) to convince people that the Apollo 11 astronauts actually landed on the moon.
Something is definitely amiss with my founding fathers test result because I don't know anyone on earth who would say I fit the George Washington mold:


Another reason for us to invade Canada:

Growing numbers of criminals, suspected terrorists and war criminals were allowed into Canada last year on special permits issued by the federal government.

Among those admitted were more than 600 people convicted of a serious crime here or abroad and 11 people who authorities believe engaged in "terrorism, espionage or subversion by force."

All were granted permits by the Immigration Minister that let them enter Canada, despite having backgrounds that normally would keep them out.
Gary Hart is thinking about running for President. Did he wake up one morning and say "hey, if Fritz Mondale can get back into politics then so can I!" Too bad Reagan can't come back too.
Will you stop cakkling, you cantankerous clod.
-- Dr. Smith

Alas, the actor, Jonathan Harris, who portrayed Dr. Smith so memorably has died. You can hear some of Dr. Smith's quotes here
Excellent article by Michael Lewis from last weeks NYT magazine defending the 90's boom. Must reading for anyone who thinks we need vast new tracts of securities legislation or need to put vast numbers of securities analysts in prison to restore the confidence of the dentists and shoe salesmen who gave up their jobs to become day traders and subsequently lost all their money.

The markets, having tasted skepticism, are beginning to overdose. The bust likes to think of itself as a radical departure from the boom, but it has in common with it one big thing: a mob mentality. When the markets were rising and everyone was getting rich, it was rare to hear a word against the system -- or the people making lots of money from it. Now that the markets are falling and everyone is feeling poor, or, at any rate, less rich, it is rare to hear a word on behalf of either the system or the rich. The same herd instinct that fueled the boom fuels the bust. And the bust has created market distortions as bizarre -- and maybe more harmful -- as anything associated with the boom.
...
The whole of the muckraking machinery is designed to facilitate this simple inversion: the culprits of the 1990's, reckless speculators, are being recast as the victims. What the various investigations appear to be doing is cleaning up the markets and making it safe for sober investors. What they are actually doing is warping the immediate past and preserving investors' dignity along with their capacity to behave madly with their money the next time the opportunity presents itself. The rewriters of the boom are able to do this as well as they have because, for both legal and political reasons, all sorts of people who might resist the distortions are discouraged from speaking out. Certainly no one on Wall Street can defend himself without the risk of incurring legal bills far greater than he already has. Certainly, no public figure of any sort is going to stand up and take the position that the rich guys who have gotten themselves exposed and pawed over by the New York attorney general should be left alone. And so the attorney general, in effect, has the stage to himself.
...
Enron. WorldCom. Global Crossing. Adelphia Communications. Tyco. Bad things happened inside these places, no doubt about it, but these places were afterthoughts: the boom could have just as easily happened without them. The emblematic character of the boom was not Kenneth Lay or Bernie Ebbers or Dennis Kozlowski. The emblematic character was Jeff Bezos. Bezos was the original big-time Internet entrepreneur. He famously quit his job on Wall Street, threw his chattels in his car and drove across country to Seattle, with a view to transforming the book business. He thought it would take him 10 years. It took him 3, in large part because a Silicon Valley venture capitalist named John Doerr made sure Bezos had the capital to do it.
...
Many investors are trying to forget that they ever sank money into Amazon, and why. Various editors are trying to forget that they made Bezos their Person of the Year or their Most Influential Man of the Internet. Anyone on Wall Street who plugged Amazon.com is now a defendant, alongside Bezos and Doerr, in lawsuits brought by small shareholders who lost money on Amazon stock. There's now even a stage play, Off Broadway, called ''21 Dog Years,'' in which a former Amazon employee named Mike Daisey takes full advantage of other people's willingness to believe the stupidest cliches about the Internet boom. ''Daisey fears that he lost his soul when he was blinded by talk of stock options and strike prices and started to believe the myth of uncountable riches for all as soon as the options mature,'' reads an ad for the show. ''He wonders if he, too, stopped being about something real.'' (It is convenient how people seem to discover the need to be ''about something real'' only after the money dries up.)

There are two things to say about all of this. More than two things, probably, but I'll control myself. The first is: look what Jeff Bezos did. That a Princeton graduate with a bright future on Wall Street would quit his lucrative, prestigious but socially pointless job to create a company -- well, that was a kind of miracle. That his company would actually realize its original ambition: how could that happen? But it did. Nearly $2.5 billion worth of books a year are now sold over the Internet, and some huge percentage of those are sold by Amazon. And even skeptics understand that those numbers are merely the beginning of a powerful trend. But who in 1996 had ever heard of Amazon.com? It was a silly name on a plaque of a small house in a bad neighborhood in Seattle. The very best a reasonable person might have hoped for in 1996 was that the oddly named Amazon.com would be acquired by Barnes & Noble and then ruined, to prevent Barnes & Noble from having to compete with it. Instead Amazon.com has lowered book prices, made it far easier for readers to buy books and thus increased the chances that an author will make a living. Is that a bad thing? (Nobody suggests that Barnes & Noble is unsound. But whose future would you rather have, Barnes & Noble's or Amazon.com's? Whose name?)


Enough excerpting, follow the link and read the whole thing.
In a piece titled "The Left Dumbs Down" it kind of seems like Kristoff is taking a swipe at Dowd:

One can disagree with the calls for war, as I do, but liberals discredit themselves when they claim that the only reasons Mr. Bush could be planning an invasion are finishing Daddy's work, helping his oil buddies or diverting voters from corporate scandals. If we're to convince Americans of the perils of invasion, it'll be by citing arguments rather than epithets.

More broadly, the tendency of liberals to underestimate Mr. Bush as a nitwit boy king helped put him in the White House. And unless liberals belatedly acknowledge that he is more than an "Idiot Usurping Lying Weasel," they will keep him there.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Is it just me or does it seem like this article really makes the hollywood scene seem completely vacuous. Check out the following passages:

As a saucer-eyed Winona Ryder gingerly walks through a phalanx of reporters on her way to court, a dozen spectators twist their necks to get a good look. What are they most curious about? What the actress is wearing, which today is a trim black blazer, dark pants and white shirt, unbuttoned to reveal a turquoise, teardrop pendant.

Ryder's shoplifting trial offers up a sense of surreal spectacle, one in which Ryder's outfit du jour is as hotly critiqued as a witness' testimony. Then again, Ryder is accused of walking off with designer duds, not drugstore drek. (Related story: Ryder lineup reveals clues in clothes)

"This is better than therapy," says schoolteacher Toni Little, fresh from her psychiatrist's appointment, her pink-lipsticked mouth agape.
Silicon Wins Again?

In the semiconductor world, silicon is fast but compound semiconductors such as GaAs are faster. Yet, just as it seems that GaAs will finally come into its own because silicon is just too slow to compete in the latest technologies, someone finds a way to make silicon work in the same applications for less money. A key feature of the compound semi's distinguishing them from silicon, though, has been their ability to efficiently emit light...hence their use in light emitting diodes (LEDs) and lasers. Now, STMicroelectronics says that it will commercialize a doped silicon that makes silicon comparable to the compound semiconductors in some light-emitting applications. Furthermore, the ability to fabricate these light-emitting devices with silicon makes possible manufacture of silicon chips incorporating both electrical and light-emitting properties. Don't look for silicon-based light bulbs anytime soon, but it seems that once again, the turtle is winning the race over the hare.
Listen to what Rosie thinks about the Martha Stewart situation:

"I want every housewife in America to band together and refuse to let them tear down one of the most successful female entrepreneurs in our country's history."

Uhhh, didn't she kind of tear down herself by violating securities laws and then obstructing justice? Does she really think men care anymore if some woman they don't know is successful? It is true that just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. But sometimes it just means you are schizophrenic.


Austin Bay on why Zimbabwe will become the next killing field.

Mugabe's taste for tribal brutality isn't new. In 1980, with the aid of North Korean military advisers, Mugabe's Shona tribe savaged the Matabele tribe. From seven to ten thousand Matabele were killed. The world ignored the attacks. At the time, Mugabe was a hero to "global progressives," having toppled the white racist regime of Ian Smith in the former British colony of Southern Rhodesia.

Now comes a report from The London Times that indicates Mugabe intends to pull a Milosevic-style Kosovo on the Matabele, with an even larger body count. The document opens with this breathless passage: FOR THE EYES OF THE SHONA ELITE ONLY! PLEASE PASS TO MOST TRUSTED PERSON! PROGRESS REVIEW ON THE 1979 GRAND PLAN."
...
The "Grand Plan" outlines a political, cultural and genocidal campaign for pushing the Matabele back into South Africa.

Mugabe has systematically kicked Zimbabwe's white farmers out of the country and given those farms to his henchmen. Famine is the result. Now, Mugabe must distract the hungry, and an anti-Matabele campaign serves Mugabe's immediate political needs. Parris is even more blunt: "... a fight with the Matabele would enhance Mugabe's troubled position among his own people."

Here's a key line in the Grand Plan: "For many years both the Ndebeles (Matabele) and Europeans were living under a shameful illusion that the crimes of their forefathers had been forgiven ... This was not to be as (Mugabe) the illustrious son of the Shona people ensured that the two groups pay dearly for the evil deeds of the ancestors."
Very interesting article in Time about what goes on inside the womb during pregnancy.
New Mexico voters are going to decide if 'idiots' can vote. The state's constitution, drafted in 1912, excludes 'idiots', insane persons and convicted felons from voting. If they don't decide to let idiots vote and this becomes a national movement it could cut the already low voter turnouts in half. ;-)