Friday, December 13, 2002
As the sun drops over the Parisian skyline, Abdullahziz brings out bowls of soup and open cardboard boxes full of dried dates. He is soon joined by his friend Ayed Ouanes, who is drinking a glass of Mecca Cola with his food. "Yes, there are a lot of people, me I'm one of the first, who have effectively decided to boycott Coke because notably it's a symbolic product, not just because it's American. I have nothing against Americans. I like Americans and there are sensational Americans. But Coke, it symbolizes something. How can I put it? All the things that are most diabolical in history. I use that word because Coca Cola, it really symbolizes American imperialism. You don't have to be a revolutionary or an extremist to know that," Ouanes said.
The great majority of Americans don't share Mr. Lott's views. For example, he opposed declaring Martin Luther King day a holiday, telling Southern Partisan magazine that "we have not done it for a lot of other people that were more deserving." Most Americans, I think, believe that King was pretty deserving.
Notice how saying that there are others that are more deserving becomes synonomous (to Krugman) to saying King wasn't deserving. King was a great man, that is true, but not everyone needs a holiday. We don't have a holiday for Susan B. Anthony. Or Benjamin Franklin. Or Eisenhower. Or Thomas Edison.
We've learned that Mr. Lott supported the right of Bob Jones University to keep its tax-exempt status even while banning interracial dating;
Oh my God, run for the hills, he supported tax exempt status on a school that wanted to control their student's social lives. Plenty of schools out there have single sex dorms and don't allow men past a certain hour in the women's dorms. All schools do it. Some are just more harsh and more controlling than others. And if you don't like the rules don't go to that school. I'm certainly against laws saying what people can and can't do on the basis of their color but if some university wants to have some stupid idiotic set of rules, so be it. It just means they will have lost out on some remarkable talent and will hurt that school in the long run.
Why does the left keep focussing on these stupid little issues? Do they have nothing better to come up with as evidence of the racism within the GOP???
Here's the guiding principle: In the post-September 11 environment, no rational person believes civil liberties are inviolable. After all, government's primary obligation is to secure the lives of American citizens. But when government begins to chip away at our liberties, we must insist that it jump through a couple of hoops. First, government must offer compelling evidence that its new and intrusive programs will make us safer. Second, government must convince us there is no less invasive means of attaining the same ends. In too many instances, those dual burdens have not been met.
...This antipathy to Israel grows from a campus culture that is selectively repressive. All the while that students, in the spirit of diversity, are actively discouraged from making pejorative comments about other vulnerable minorities, some Arab and Muslim students have been actively fomenting hatred of Israel as an expression of their "identity." On campuses with a large Arab presence, such as Wayne State in Detroit, this has resulted in a palpable threat to Jewish students, and outbreaks of physical violence have actually occurred at San Francisco State and Concordia University in Montreal. Since Arab and Muslim students are currently the only ones who exuberantly defame another group, and who blame that group rather than Arab and Muslim governments for the failings of their own anti-democratic societies, it is hardly surprising that they should be joined by others looking for a villain or scapegoat. Anti-Semitism thrives because slandering Israel is the only aggression against a minority that is encouraged by the rules of political correctness.
Along similar lines, universities have allowed Middle East departments to disseminate anti-Israel propaganda to an extent unimaginable a generation ago, representing violations of intellectual honesty and academic impartiality that may be unique in our academic life. Martin Kramer's book on Middle East Studies in America, "Ivory Towers on Sand," points out the conditions that encourage this abuse. Instead of scrutinizing the obsession with Israel that has retarded the development of Arab societies, many professors of Arab and Muslim civilization have themselves become obsessed with the obsession. Here the damage to America is at least as great as to Israel, for had these scholars been submitting Arab regimes to honest scrutiny, they would have long since have been investigating the connections between anti-Semitism, opposition to democracy, and hostility to the U.S. Why has it been left to private think tanks to inform us about the rise and nature of terrorism in the Middle East?
This was Rudy Giuliani to city transit workers threatening an illegal strike in 1999:
"You're going to pay for it."
This was Mike Bloomberg on Monday, when asked if he'd make transit workers pay for a strike by firing them:
"I don't think making inflammatory statements benefits anybody."
And, "This time, I will probably take a bicycle to work."
It was the Democrats who paid the price for the law that banned discrimination in public accommodations and employment, allowing the federal government to stop aid to programs that discriminated and giving Washington the power to sue to desegregate schools.
As President Lyndon B. Johnson predicted to Bill Moyers on the evening he signed the bill, "Bill, I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come."
Although this flies in the face of the fact that Republicans voted overwhelmingly for the Civil Rights Act. But then the New York Times would have to actually do some analysis and not just parrot statements from their Op-Ed pages. And God forbid the two don't agree (we all know what happens at the Times when you don't toe the party line).
And don't you think its about time we heard about racism and the Democratic party? Robert Byrd was a leader within the KKK. Jesse Jackson called NY Hymietown. Cynthia McKinney thought the Jews were out to get her. Al Gore Sr. voting against the Civil Rights Act and even making their Black maid sit in the car while they went shopping. And let's not forget Donna Brazile, Gore Jr.'s campaign manager who called Colin Powell and JC Watts Uncle Tom's and said she "will not let the white boys win in this election."
Thursday, December 12, 2002
Saudi Arabia is the kernel of the Islamist hate, not only does it provide the ideological basis for the hate, it also supplies many of the most violent adherents and finances it around the world. Why the Saudis? If you look at the three factors I propose, you will see that nowhere else is the individual so squeezed and frustrated than in Saudi Arabia. Nowhere else is the welfare state so thorough, the possibility of upward ascent so blocked and the grievance so strong. At the heart of it all is the oil and the Two Mosques.
The oil makes the largest welfare state in the world possible – every Saudi perceives an entitlement of privilege. Almost all get government jobs where they work only a few hours a day (most of the physical labor is done by migrants). However, the custodianship of the Two Mosques made possible by the Wahabi sect ensures that the Saudi male has nothing to do with that extra time except to pray. Economic and political advancement is blocked by the ever growing list of royal princes and their favorites. Unless you are a member of the “in crowd” there can be no economic or political self-actualization. In the West, similar situations (we are all a little frustrated) are alleviated by a dose of fun – like movies, sex and alcohol, but in Saudi Arabia these things are illegal.
At the same time, and because of the oil and the Mosques, the Saudis have the greatest “grievance” on the face of the world. Many believe that their possession of the two of the most holy places of Islam and the largest oil fields was divinely ordained. But, in that case, why are they still so backward compared to the West? Why do the numerically inferior (and despised) Jews repeatedly defeat the Muslims if the latter are backed by God? Why do the infidel Americans have to station troops to protect the “chosen” nation from the secular tyrant of Baghdad? These are the questions you ponder when you have nothing else to do, work or recreation, but to contemplate and pray. Eventually you reach the conclusion that this must be the work of the Great Satan.
ruled that this provision violates the Due Process clauses of the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions. Let's hope this goes upstream to the Supremes and stops this countrywide. (from an IJ press release).
Following the caucus meeting, a Liberal MP said it is now "common knowledge" in the caucus that the Justice Department has made 12 separate requests for extra funding from the Treasury Board to keep the firearms program going since it took effect in 1998.
The wrangling was the latest bout in a bitter Liberal fight that began after Auditor General Sheila Fraser last week accused the Justice Department of hiding the true cost of the firearms program from Parliament.
She accused the department of mismanaging the scheme and allowing its cost to balloon from an original price tag of $2 million to a forecasted $1 billion by 2005.
I guess they were off by just a "tad." Which in government terms is 500x.
"What did Trent Lott really say? He said that when Strom Thurmond ran, my state voted for him. He was at a function where Strom Thurmond, a hundred years old, was having his friends say the nicest things they could think of," Helms said. "Trent Lott in no sense was sending a message of any sort. He was just trying to be nice to Strom Thurmond at a time everybody was being nice to him, and I praise him for that."
And of course, the Associated Press, every objective has to include the following at the end of the story:
Before his election in 1972, Helms sometimes used his television and radio commentaries to defend the owners of segregated businesses and condemned civil rights marchers. He also fought a Martin Luther King holiday in 1983.
What exactly does that prove? I don't really know the situation but Helms could easily have been saying that business owners have a right to do whatever they want on their premises since they do own the place and if you don't like it, don't do business with them. He also could have been arguing that we don't really need a national holiday to remember King. Hell, right now Abraham Lincoln and George Washington don't really have holidays of their own (all they get is President's Day, which seems to only have sales at JC Penny associated with it). We don't even have an Eisenhower Day and he helped liberate Europeans of all colors, shapes and sizes back during World War II. If you are against an Eisenhower Day, does that make you a Nazi?
A physicist has published a study that says that many women are wearing an incorrectly sized bra. I can just imagine how this project started. "Er, hi honey, I forgot you were meeting me at the lab today...what am I doing with my hands cupped around my lab assistants breasts?...Don't worry it's just part of my reasearch, yeh, that's it, part of my research into 'spurious rounding'."
Large numbers of women are wearing the wrong-sized bra because of a mathematical error known as "spurious rounding" claims a University of Southampton physicist.
In "Graphical Analysis of Bra Size Calculation Procedures", published in the International Journal of Clothing, Science and Technology, Dr Matthew Wright, from the university's institute of sound and vibration research, has analysed the effects of small errors in measurements.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Paris - In a stunning reversal of policy, French President Jacques Chirac announced today that the French government will be supporting the War on Terror after all. Five hundred soldiers from the elite L'Abandonnement du Field d'Honneur Battalion (French Surrender Battalion) of the Legion Etrangere (Foreign Legion) are in the process of shipping out to Iraq where they will assist the elite Iraqi Republican Guards in their inevitable surrender to the overwhelming might of the American Armed Forces.
"Eet ees important to be haughty and insufferable when surrendering," said General Philippe de Peepee, the Commanding Officer of the Surrender Battalion, who has personally surrendered in over 200 battles going back to Dien Bien Phu in 1954. "We French are ze world masters at surrendering, n'est ce pas, not like you arrogant Americans who never surrender. Ha, I spit on your filthy American victories."
As retailers chose to bring "the market to the people instead of people to the market" — as an article in The New York Times Magazine described the strategy in 1953 — they inevitably favored some people over others. Shopping centers aimed at what Macy's Annual Report for 1955 called "middle-income groups" explicitly distanced themselves from consumers deemed undesirable because they were too poor, black, or young and unruly. At a time when many low-income Americans didn't own cars, the few bus routes to shopping centers were carefully planned to transport nondriving customers, particularly women, from nearby suburbs, not low-income consumers from inner cities.
Oh the horror! Okay, now what's the difference between someone with low-income and someone with middle-income? You guessed it, income! So as low-income people and higher-income people take about as much space on busses, meaning they are equally expensive to transport, wouldn't it make sense to transport the people who actually have money to spend??? This isn't some plot, it's just common sense. This is another example of a case where the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead.
The reason Al Gore isn't in the White House today is because of the cultural disconnect between him and southern rural white males. Though officially running as a Tennessee farmer, he was perceived as an elite Massachusetts liberal. Replacing him with a real elite Massachusetts liberal seems unlikely to return Tennessee, Arkansas and West Virginia to the fold. As for the notion, promoted by many respected political analysts, that Mr. Kerry, being from Massachusetts, would have an edge in the New Hampshire primary, that betrays a somewhat hazy grasp of the relationship between the Granite State and its southern neighbor. In 2004, Granite State Democrats will be looking to recover from the hammering they got last month when a pro-tax gubernatorial candidate dragged the rest of the ticket down with him -- elevating a Massachusetts liberal who wants to raise taxes is not the best way to do that.
Now already I can hear Sen. Kerry frothing like a vat of Alberto Balsam on Don King's head: "I don't want to raise taxes. I just want to repeal the tax cuts you were expecting to get but haven't yet. It's not the same!" To which I say: Whatever, dude. But personally I'd save the hair-splitting for Cristophe's. By the time you've spent 20 minutes explaining why your tax hike isn't really a tax hike, the only two words anyone's going to remember are "tax" and "hike."
[ open on press conference discussing the Gulf War ]
Defense Secretary Richard Cheney: And so, to sum up, while this war is by no means over, it is certainly fair to say that we have inflicted heavy damage on the Iraqi war machine, and every day brings victory for the coalition that much colser. Now I'm going to hand the floor over to the Lieutenant Colonel Pierson, who will field your questions.
Lt. Col. William Pierson: Thank you Senator Cheney. I'm happy to take any questions you might have with the understanding that there are certain sensitive areas that I'm just not going to get into. Particularly, information that might be useful to the enemy. Yes?
Reporter #1: What date are we going to start the ground attack?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: Well, as I mentioned a moment ago, there are certain sensitive areas which we are just not going to go into, and that is certainly one of them. Yes?
Reporter #2: Sir, knowing what you know, where would you say our forces are most vulnerable to attack, and how could the Iraqis best exploit those weaknesses?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: Well, again, this falls into the area of information that might be useful to the enemy, and I just can't divulge it right now.
Reporter #3: Sir! Which method of hiding SCUD missiles is working best for the Iraqis?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: Now, this again is a good example of information that could help the enemy, and I just can't answer that.
Reporter #4: I have a two-part question. Are we planning an amphibious invasion of Kuwait, and if so, where exactly will that be?
Defense Secretary Richard Cheney: Excuse me. If I could interrupt here, I just want to underscore what Colonely Pierson said at the start of Q&A. There are two general categories of questions that we are simply not going to be able to address. On, those that would give our enemy advance warning of our actions, and two, those that would identify any points of weakness or vulnerabilities to the Iraqi forces. So let's reopen the floor to questions.
Reporter #5: I understand that there are passwords that our troops use on the front lines. Could you give us some examples of those?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: No, that is something I really cannot comment on.
Reporter #6: Yeah! Are we planning an amphibious invasion of Kuwait? And if so, where?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: I believe that question was asked and if you recall, I already answered it, or said I could not answer.
Reporter #7: Sir, what would be the one piece of information that would be most dangerous for the Iraqis to know?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: No can answer! I have time for two more questions. Yeah?
Reporter #8: Yes, Farud Hashami, Baghdad Times. Where are your troops, and can I go there and count them?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: Nope! Last question.
Reporter #9: Is there anything that you can tell us that would lower the morale of our fighting men?
Lt. Col. William Pierson: No. Really, the only thing we're at liberty to say at this time is, "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!
In the Northeast, subzero temperatures could become standard winter fare, filling rivers with ice chunks, cutting short the growing season, and altering bird migrations. The cold and snow of the last week would feel like spring break.
Behind that brutal scenario is a baffling ocean phenomenon that experts have watched with rising angst: an expanding mass of freshwater in the usually salty North Atlantic that has spread alarmingly in the last seven years. It now reaches south from Greenland to just off the coast of the Carolinas, an area of 15 million square miles.
If the buildup continues, they say, it could impede the Gulf Stream, a major climate-maker that transports warm air to northern latitudes in winter. Were that critical current to be slowed by the freshwater, let alone stopped, average winter temperatures in the Northeastern United States and in Western Europe could abruptly plummet 10 degrees - a change not experienced by anyone alive today. A five-degree drop would be in store for the rest of the States.
Some of the scientists are hedging their bets though, and have blamed the increased rate of fresh water flowing into the North Atlantic on Global Warming.
Some researchers believe that, ironically, global warming could be to blame, that melting Greenland glaciers and Arctic sea ice could be diluting the salt water of the North Atlantic. Others theorize it could be a phase in a natural cycle, one that ice-core evidence suggests might have happened several times in the last 100,000 years - and perhaps as recently as America's colonial era.
This explanation, of course, ignores the numerous times it has happened in the past well before any man-made greenhouse gases existed. (Flatulence excepted).
"Large, abrupt and widespread climate changes occurred repeatedly in the past across most of the Earth, and many followed closely after freshening of the North Atlantic," said Alley, who is also chairman of the National Research Council's Committee on Abrupt Climate Change, which published a report last spring.
Perhaps the most famous of these was the "Younger Dryas" event, so named for the Arctic shrub that appeared in temperate European climes during a dramatic cooldown about 12,000 years ago, 6,000 years after the last Ice Age. And it happened in a hurry, a matter of just a few years.
Changes in the Gulf Stream also are suspect in the onset of the so-called Little Ice Age, which began in the 15th century and ended about 1850. That coincided with Gen. George Washington's encampment at Valley Forge during the fatally frigid winter of 1777-78; the winter of 1779-80 was even worse. It also encompassed the era of Washington Irving and frosty images of skaters on the lower Hudson in December. No one skates there these days.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Defiant Customers Refuse To Return Recalled Crib
RESTON, VA—More than 4,000 purchasers of the Babco KidSleeper crib, recalled last week amid safety concerns, are defiantly refusing to return the crib for a replacement or refund. "No way in hell am I assembling another crib," said parent Carl Bleier, 33, of Reston, VA. "If they want the thing back, too bad—it's their own damn fault for not making it right the first time." Bleier said he hopes his 14-month-old daughter Alexa gets her head stuck between the bars so he can sue their asses.
"My fiance can remember just about everything about movies and the actors in them, including the minor ones, but can't seem to remember that I don't like coffee."
--A friend of mine whose 13 year anniversary is today
HooHah! It's about damn time. Big kudos to the Institute for Justice for winning the case.
On sweatshirts and sweatshops. I think that the sweatshop has liberated more women than any law passed in living memory. It takes around two or three generations of sweatshops to go from the ancient pattern of peasant subsistence farming, with its characteristic grinding toil for women, to, well, Taiwan. In 1945 Taiwan was poorer than the Sudan. Now I read somewhere that the Taiwanese goverment felt it necessary to run a campaign against obesity.
Third World women may hate it working in sweatshops, but they hate it less than what they had before. Once the Wal-Mart trainer factory down the road opens its doors, bride-burnings and female infanticide are on the way out. When companies cheat or exploit their workers it is legitimate for concerned customers to boycott them, although I hope they will send someone to talk to the workers first and see what they want given local conditions, just as it is legitimate that companies with a better record should attempt to raise sales by boasting of their relative virtue. And both these things do happen, which takes me to my next point: one of the factors I love about capitalism is its incentives to create and maintain your good name. Likewise one of the things I hate about socialism and statism is that it erodes incentives to respectability.
It explains, very forcefully, one of the major problems I have always had with leftist thinking. Arguments from the left always seem to compare any situation with some Platonic ideal that does not and will not exist rather than comparing it to what existed before. So arguments always focus on the problems that still exist in capitalist societies rather than the strong trend of improvment for the lives of everyone living in them (not just the greedy billionaires). Likewise in socialist societies, since the idea of a socialist utopia is their Platonic ideal (everyone working and striving for the greater good), they ignore the constant failures, decreases in living standards, etc...as unimportant side-effects on the way to a better society. This combined with a philosophy based on envy is at the core of what's wrong with leftist thought. A society where everyone's income drops by 10% is considered preferable to one where the bottom quintile income rises by 20% and the top quintile income rises by 50%.
And here are some letters on the subject from both sides. They are pretty entertaining.
I also like ScrappleFace's satire of the situation:
Iraq To Use Canadians As 'Human Spears'
(2002-12-08) -- A small band of Canadian peace-activists who went to Baghdad as 'human shields' hoping to deter a U.S. attack, learned today that the Iraqis misunderstood their intentions.
"We are grateful to the Canadians who have volunteered to be human spears," said on Iraqi general. "We plan to mount them on Scud missiles and hurl them at the enemy when the war starts."
THE city's public transit workers are demanding a 24 percent raise over three years. By Sunday. That pay hike would cost somewhere north of $100 million a year. Local 100, the transit-workers union, is demanding this bounty from three entities that together face a combined budgetary gap of nearly $17 billion.
The state of New York is looking at an $8 billion-plus deficit next year. The city's budget shortfall approaches $6 billion. And the Metropolitan Transit Authority faces a looming gap of $2.7 billion.
If the workers don't get what they want, they'll go out on strike.
And Bloomberg is an incompetent pussy:
Bloomberg refused to answer reporter Marcia Kramer's well-considered question about whether the transit workers should be fired for their illegal strike just as Ronald Reagan fired the air-traffic controllers for striking illegally in 1981. He said he didn't want to be inflammatory.
Gee, it was just those sorts of inflammatory and confrontational tactics that gave Rudy the advantage in the transit talks last time.
There I go, being brash again.
"Santa would have to deliver 378 million presents to 91.8 million homes in 31 hours. To do it, he and the reindeer would have to travel 3,000 times the speed of sound.
The reindeer would be vaporised within 4.26 thousandths of a second and Santa would be killed by 4,315,000 pounds worth of force."
Monday, December 09, 2002
There's a funny piece in OpinionJournal today on encounters with Seattle peace activists.
"Hey comrades! Did I miss the protest?"
"Yeah man, it was killer."
"Ah shucks. Hey! Do you know of any other pro-Saddam things going on today?"
The group responds that this is not about being pro-Saddam, it's an antiwar thing.
"Oh. Well. Do you know where any other anti-Iraqi freedom things are going on? Or just anti-Arab democracy. I want to join in the movement."
They let me know that I've missed the point of the protest; I continue riding aside them.
"Well it's all a means to an end, right? I mean"--I pass a nudge at them--"I mean, we're all white here, lets be honest. We can't let colored people democratize. So where can I get hooked in with the crowd? I want to end all hope for democracy in the Arab world! What e-mail list are you guys on?"
Two or three of them have by now figured that I am making fun of them. But the others are lost. They respond that "only part of the movement" is interested in what I'm talking about, and they're not into that stuff. They just don't want war.
"Huh. I guess I don't understand. Why are you guys against war then? Are you guys the pro-oil-cartel-price-fixing types? 'Stability' and all that? I figured the movement was heading towards more of a pro-dictator, anti-Jewish thing. That's what I came out for."
The New York civil-rights report finds ethnic theme houses part of a larger disturbing "educational" problem. Their survey of colleges reveals a segregationist agenda of race and ethnicity permeating every facet of campus life - academic courses, counseling, remedial programs and socializing, all hiding behind clever euphemisms and pretty facades of diversity.
Ethnic houses actually encourage what they decry, by infantilizing students, pampering them in their ethnic insecurities, and creating a divisiveness through racial stereotyping. A Latino student gives away the insidiousness of this approach, describing how he found his blood roots at Amherst: "For me, there's more consciousness of my background as a Latino male," he says. "Before I came to Amherst, I wasn't thinking about race or class or gender or sexual orientation, I was just thinking about people wanting to learn."
All this, says the New York Civil Rights Coalition, is a giant step backward for the civil rights movement: " The purpose of higher education is to remove narrow constrictions of the mind, to extirpate prejudice, to remove barriers to the open pursuit of knowledge. Separatism in all of its forms, but especially when it is aided and abetted by college and university officials and resources, is a betrayal of that mission."
Recent experiments in Japan seem to confirm long held theories that neutrinos can change from one type to another and that they have mass.
I particularly liked this one and will try to work it into conversation whenever possible. It shouldn't be hard, since it's second meaning is a perfect self-descriptor.
omphaloskepsis \ahm-fuh-loh-SKEP-sis\ (noun)
: contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation;
also : indisposition to motion, exertion, or change
He didn't say anything about the percentage of violent deaths that were attributable to your spouse finding you having sex with someone else.
Part of the winning extract reads: "Weirdly, he was clad in pin-stripes at the same time as being naked. Pin-stripes were erotic, the uniform of fathers, two-dimensional fathers.
"The jargon he'd used at the consultation had become bewitching love-talk: ... dislocation of the second MTPJ ... titanium hemi-implant ....
"Yes!' she whispered back. Dorsal subluxation ... flexion deformity of the first metatarsal ...'.
"Oh yes!' she shouted, screwing up her face in concentration, tossing back her hair. Yes, oh Malcolm, yes!'."