Friday, January 17, 2003
The swelling protests against war on Iraq forget that the US was impelled into war by an attack on its territory, against enemies that target innocents and include the worst human rights violators on the planet. For whom is this insufficient justification to choose sides?
If the counsel of the peaceniks had been followed, Kuwait would today be the nineteenth province of Iraq (and on his own recently produced evidence, Saddam Hussein would have acquired nuclear weapons). Moreover, Bosnia would be a trampled and cleansed province of Greater Serbia, Kosovo would have been emptied of most of its inhabitants, and the Taliban would still be in power in Afghanistan. Yet nothing seems to disturb the contented air of moral superiority which surrounds those who intone the ‘peace’ mantra.
Any ‘peace movement’ that even pretends to care for human rights will be very shaken by what will be uncovered when the regime of Saddam Hussein falls. Prisons, mass graves, weapon sites … just you wait. To say that he might do more terrible things if attacked or threatened is to miss the point. Last time he massacred the Iraqi and Kurdish population, he was withdrawing his forces under an international guarantee. The Iraqi and Kurdish peoples are now, by every measure we have or know, determined to be rid of him. And the hope, which is perhaps a slim one but very much sturdier than other hopes, is that the next Iraqi regime will be better and safer, not just from our point of view but from theirs. The sanctions policy, which was probably always hopeless, is now quite indefensible. If lifted, it would allow Saddam’s oligarchy to re-equip.
(via Ipse Dixit)
CIA analysts were initially skeptical of scores of deal-with-the-Devil reports that had been flooding in from the field -- until the damning photo surfaced.
"This is pretty alarming," says a CIA analyst who specializes in occult research. "It suggests Saddam is so desperate to stay in power, he's willing to do anything and join forces with anyone -- even Lucifer himself."
Venezuelan national guard troops armed with machine-guns and shotguns, on Friday seized control of a local bottling affiliate of Coca-Cola Co. and started taking away bottled and canned drinks to ease food shortages caused by an opposition strike, officials said.
The action was the first major takeover of a food plant after threats by leftist President Hugo Chavez that he would send troops to seize manufacturing facilities that withheld food products during the nearly seven-week-old stoppage.
"We are distributing this product to the population because collective rights come above individual rights," National Guard Gen. Luis Felipe Acosta Carles told reporters at the Panamco plant in Valencia in western Carabobo state. "What I see here is hoarding and we are going to move these products," he said.
I can't wait until we see his head on a pike.
Psychiatry has devised careful guidelines for prescribing and monitoring this sometimes-useful drug. But the five-fold jump in Ritalin production in the past five years clearly suggests that these guidelines are being ignored and that Ritalin is being vastly over prescribed. The problem has finally been recognized by medical groups such as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which have written or are developing guidelines for diagnosing ADHD, and even by Ciba, the primary manufacturer of Ritalin, which issued similar guidelines to doctors last summer.
Under the pressure of managed care, physicians are diagnosing ADHD in patients and prescribing them Ritalin after interviews as short as 15 minutes. And given Ritalin's quick action (it can "calm" children within days after treatment starts), some doctors even rely on the drug as a diagnostic tool, interpreting improvements in behavior or attention as proof of an underlying ADHD — and justification for continued drug use.
Studies show that Ritalin prescribing fluctuates dramatically depending on how parents and teachers perceive "misbehavior" and how tolerant they are of it. I know of children who have been given Ritalin more to subdue them than to meet their needs — a practice that recalls the opium syrups used to soothe noisy infants in London a century ago. When a drug can be prescribed because one person is bothering another — a disruptive child upsetting a teacher, for example — there is clearly a danger that the drug will be abused. That danger only increases when the problem being treated is so vaguely defined.
ADHD exists as a disorder primarily because a committee of psychiatrists voted it so. In a valiant effort, they squeezed a laundry list of disparate symptoms into a neat package that can be handled and treated. But while attention is an essential aspect of our functioning, it's certainly not the only one. Why not bestow disorderhood on other problems common to people diagnosed with ADHD, such as Easily Frustrated Disorder (EFD) or Nothing Makes Me Happy Disorder (NMMHD)?
And check this piece out from the Onion:
VOLUME 35 ISSUE 27 — 4 AUGUST 1999
Ritalin Cures Next Picasso
WORCESTER, MA—Area 7-year-old Douglas Castellano's unbridled energy and creativity are no longer a problem thanks to Ritalin, doctors for the child announced Friday. "After years of failed attempts to stop Douglas' uncontrollable bouts of self-expression, we have finally found success with Ritalin," Dr. Irwin Schraeger said. "For the first time in his life, Douglas can actually sit down and not think about lots of things at once." Castellano's parents reported that the cured child no longer tries to draw on everything in sight, calming down enough to show an interest in television.
Of course in this country, unlike Iraq, you have the right to gather in large groups and chant and protest and call your own government all the silly names you like.
While you are waving your signs and giving the finger to the cops, someone in Iraq is being tortured for speaking out.
While you are parading around naked because you want to be "vulnerable for peace," a woman is being stoned because her head wasn't covered properly.
While you are indoctrinating your children into the anti-war movement, Iraqi children are starving to death in dank prisons because their parents were deemed a threat to Saddam's regime.
Think about that. What exactly are you opposing? What do you think can be accomplished in Iraq without military action? Do you think the children in those prisons are thanking you for telling the U.S. to stay away from their country? Do you think the brilliant women who are scrubbing floors instead of finding cures for diseases thank you for keeping the troops at bay? Do you think the men who are being dipped in vats of acid for opposing Saddam's views thank you for passing anti-war resolutions?
Innovation is inefficient. More often than not, it is undisciplined, contrarian, and iconoclastic; and it nourishes itself with confusion and contradiction. In short, being innovative flies in the face of what almost all parents want for their children, most CEOs want for their companies, and heads of states want for their countries. And innovative people are a pain in the ass.
Yet without innovation we are doomed—by boredom and monotony—to decline. So what makes innovation happen, and just where do new ideas come from? The basic answers—providing a good educational system, encouraging different viewpoints, and fostering collaboration—may not be surprising. Moreover, the ability to fulfill these criteria has served the United States well. But some things—the nature of higher education among them—will have to change in order to ensure a perpetual source of new ideas.
Our biggest challenge in stimulating a creative culture is finding ways to encourage multiple points of views. Many engineering deadlocks have been broken by people who are not engineers at all. This is simply because perspective is more important than IQ. The irony is that perspective will not get kids into college, nor does it help them thrive there. Academia rewards depth. Expertise is bred by experts who work with their own kind. Departments and labs focus on fields and subfields, now and then adding or subtracting a domain. Graduate degrees, not to mention tenure, depend upon tunneling into truths and illuminating ideas in narrow areas.
The antidote to such canalization and compartmentalization is being interdisciplinary, a term that is at once utterly banal and, in advanced studies, describes an almost impossible goal. Interdisciplinary labs and projects emerged in the 1960s to address big problems spanning the frontiers of the physical and social sciences, engineering, and the arts. The idea was to unite complementary bodies of knowledge to address issues that transcended any one skill set. Fine. Only recently, however, have people realized that interdisciplinary approaches can bring enormous value to some very small problems and that interdisciplinary environments also stimulate creativity. In maximizing the differences in backgrounds, cultures, ages, and the like, we increase the likelihood that the results will not be what we had imagined.
Two additional ingredients are needed to cultivate new ideas. Both have to do with maximizing serendipity. First, we need to encourage risk. This is particularly hard in midcareer and often flies in the face of peer review and the mechanisms for corporate advancement. This is simply because risk, on its own, can look pretty stupid. People who look around corners are exposed to failure and ridicule, and thus they must find buoyancy, or support, within their own environment. If they don’t, counterintuitive ideas will remain so.
Thursday, January 16, 2003
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
I know I'm not exactly breaking new ground here but I really don't see how our Supreme Court can let them stand. By protecting one group of citizens more than another, isn't that an obvious violation of this amendment??? I think they should start installing more buildings in government buildings. Maybe then they would not find it so necessary to piss on the constitution.
Well-placed sources have told TIME that Saudi Arabia is vigorously pursuing a concrete plan to encourage Iraqi generals to overthrow Saddam and his clique. Western and Arab diplomats say the Saudi proposal requires a UN Security Council resolution declaring amnesty for the vast majority of Iraqi officials if they orchestrate a transition of power in Baghdad. Such an amnesty would extend to all but 100 to 120 of the most senior Baath Party officials, including Saddam, his sons, close relatives and others who have long formed part of the ruling circle. It would be offered immediately prior to the outbreak of war as a signal to Saddam's generals that the time had arrived to save their own skins with a U.N.-guaranteed amnesty. And, the Saudis believe, it could well bring the traditionally coup-proof dictator tumbling down.
NBC’s investigation revealed that North Korea’s State Security Agency maintains a dozen political prisons and about 30 forced labor and labor education camps, mainly in remote areas. The worst are in the country’s far Northeast. Some of them are gargantuan: At least two of the camps, Haengyong and Huaong, are larger in area than the District of Columbia, with Huaong being three times the size of the U.S. capital district.
“All of North Korea is a gulag,” said one senior U.S. official, noting that as many as 2 million people have died of starvation while Kim has amassed the world’s largest collection of Daffy Duck cartoons. “It’s just that these people [in the camps] are treated the worst. No one knows for sure how many people are in the camps, but 200,000 is consistent with our best guess.
Moreover, said Ahn, beating and killing prisoners was not only tolerated, it was encouraged and even rewarded.
“They trained me not to treat the prisoners as human beings. If someone is against socialism, if someone tries to escape from prison, then kill him,” Ahn said. “If there’s a record of killing any escapee then the guard will be entitled to study in the college. Because of that some guards kill innocent people.”
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
I wonder at how the mind-set of the country has changed, how the work ethic has been corrupted. When I was growing up, the only rule was that success and achievements resulted from, and were directly related to, hard work. You got back in proportion to the effort you put forth. That's the way it has worked for me.
How have we changed, then, to an ethic of redistributing the wealth from those who are economically productive to those who refuse to be?
Few will acknowledge it, but the message is clear. Reading between the lines of editorials and letters in the newspapers, I can almost hear the chant, ''You have it, I want it, and you owe me.''
Envy used to be just a human failing, but today it is a major industry. Politicians, journalists and academics are all part of that industry, which some call "social justice."
Virtually everybody is worse off than somebody else, if only in one dimension, so there are nearly unlimited opportunities to pander to people's sense of injustice, victimhood and entitlement. Any of us can think back to situations where we got the short end of the stick. On the other hand, we may not be quite as quick to recall the times when we got more than we deserved -- and neither politicians nor the intelligentsia have anything to gain by reminding us of that.
Ironically, the very same teachers and administrators who abhor getting tough on troublemakers are the first ones ready to “handle” children with Schedule II drugs—the most highly addictive drugs that are still legal. Children are being rammed through a one-size-fits-all pipeline by the educational establishment, and if one of the kids doesn’t quite fit in, drugs are whipped out faster than you can say “twelve steps.” Schools all over the country monitor drug use by students—not to keep it from getting out of hand, mind you, but to blow the whistle when the kids aren’t doped up. Teachers unions continue to fight—sometimes successfully—to block children from attending school if they haven’t taken their drugs. The trend has become so pervasive that lawmakers in Vermont last year introduced legislation to prevent schools from requiring kids to pop pills.
If when I have kids some loser "educator" tells me my kid will have to go on mind altering drugs because they don't fit in, I'm going to pull my kids out of that school faster than you can say "fu*k off".
It is not just the main storyline that is the same; many details are similar. In "Atlas Shrugged," the decisive step toward dictatorship is Directive 10-289, which gives bureaucrats the power to rule by decree, holding an iron grip on every productive enterprise in the country. In Venezuela, the crisis was touched off a year ago when a Chavez-controlled assembly gave him the power to rule by decree. Without even consulting parliament, Chavez issued 49 infamous decrees that gave him an iron grip on every productive enterprise in the country.
In "Atlas Shrugged," political demagogues denounce the "monopolistic power" of a self-made steel tycoon -- while engaging in feverish horse-trading of government favors and black-market loot. In Venezuela, Chavez was elected on a promise to clean up corruption in Venezuela's state-run industries; what followed was an even bigger wave of corruption to reward Chavez's cronies.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
The truth is that the overwhelming majority of Iraqi dissidents are an embarrassment to the Left. After enduring misery few of us can imagine, they have discovered that, without foreign intervention, their country won't be freed from a tyrant who matches Stalin in his success in liquidating domestic opponents. Only America can intervene. Therefore an American invasion offers the possibility of salvation.
To right-thinking, Left-leaning people, such thoughts are not merely disconcerting but unthinkable. Oppressed peoples are meant to confirm the prejudices of their (usually white) betters, not raise awkward dilemmas. The honest course would be to say that the price of peace is a continuation of Saddam's oppression. But rather than make a brutal argument that would lose it the moral high ground, the anti-war movement prefers to deal with the Iraqi opposition by ignoring it.
When I put this programme to my democratic and secular comrades, they turn nasty. I hear that the peoples of Iraq will slaughter each other if Saddam goes; that any US-sponsored replacement will be worse. They may be right, although the second prediction will be hard to meet. What is repulsive is the sneaking feeling that they want the war to be long and a post-Saddam Iraq to be a bloody disaster. They would rather see millions suffer than be forced to reconsider their prejudices.
(via Andrea Harris)
"As a father and now a grandfather, I have taken on the entertainment industry for peddling sex and violence to our children -- and spoken up for parents who feel they are in competition with the popular culture to raise their children and give them the right values."
Jesus fu*king Christ. This really pisses me off. Out of all the issues facing people today he wants to take on the entertainment industry??? I think they probably didn't even have dirty limericks during the time of the Crusades and the Inquisition so I don't see how the entertainment industry can be to blame for violence. And it wasn't Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote flying the planes that crashed into the WTC, it was a bunch of people who probably couldn't tell the difference between Vin Diesel and a dead camel's butt. It's also pretty obvious that people were having sex or else none of us would be here.
"I just think there's a really vital, sweeping peace movement out there that's not getting covered in the press, so I just kind of try to do my part... I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."
Oh, how simple, just don't have any enemies. Why do I get the feeling she came up with this brilliant conclusion while stoned and watching bad television (which seems to be when all brilliant stoner ideas originate). Who knows, maybe she doesn't smoke pot and is really just this stupid.
Also, what exactly gives her the impression that there is a "vital, sweeping peace movement out there"? Oh wait, let me guess, everyone she talks to in the entertainment industry is anti-war. Please.
Monday, January 13, 2003
...In a disorganized and chaotic fashion, without any single leader or political party, the people (known as “the opposition”) have taken a page out of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, and tried to answer an important question in that literary masterpiece: what would happen if the productive forces laboring under a despotic government went on strike and ceased subsidizing their own subjugation?
Researchers are working on creating 3D gadget printers that will use semiconducting polymers laid down one layer at a time to create fully functional devices.
Three-dimensional printers are already valuable tools for making prototypes of newly designed products. They deposit layers made from droplets of smart polymers, which gradually build up into 3D shapes. Such printing techniques have become so sophisticated it is now possible to print working prototypes with mechanical parts that move as they would in the final product.
But Berkeley's crucial addition to this art is to allow the electronics to be included in the printed device, rather than being added at great cost later on.
Is there a consistent theme here? We are talking, largely though not exclusively, about a phenomenon of the aging left of the Vietnam era and of its various progeny and heirs; and once upon a time, indeed, the anti-American reflex could be linked with some rigor to the influence of Marxism. True, that particular religion, at least in its pristine form, is just about gone from the picture these days. Some of its fumes, though, still linger in the doctrines of radical egalitarianism espoused by postmodern relativists and multiculturalists and by now instilled, in suitably diluted and presentable form, in several generations of college and high-school students. Hence, for example, the regular put-down of George W. Bush as a "Manichean"--for could anything be more self-evidently retrograde than a view of our present conflict as a war of good versus evil, or anything more simplistic than relying on such "universal" arbiters of human behavior as freedom, pluralism, and religious tolerance?
Eschewing any reference to truths of this kind, adherents of postmodernist relativism assess morality instead by the sole criterion of power: Those without it deserve the ethical high ground by virtue of their very status as underdogs; those with it, at least if they are Westerners, and especially if they are Americans, are ipso facto oppressors. Israel could give over the entire West Bank, suffer 10,000 dead from suicide bombers, and apologize formally for its existence, and it would still be despised by American and European intellectuals for being what it is--Western, prosperous, confident, and successful amid a sea of abject self-induced failure.
An ancillary sort of unreality has emerged in modern Western life alongside the reduced need to use our muscles or face physical threats. In a protected world, Saddam Hussein comes to seem little different from a familiar angry dean or a predictably moody editor, someone who can be either reasoned with or, if necessary, censured or sued. In this connection, it is not surprising that those most critical of America are not the purported victims of its supposedly rapacious capitalist system--farm workers, car mechanics or welders--but more often those in the arts, universities, media and government who have the time and leisure to contemplate utopian perfection without firsthand and daily exposure to backbreaking physical labor, unrepentant bullies or unapologetically violent criminals. For such people, the new prosperity does not bring a greater appreciation of the culture that has produced it but rather enables a fanciful shift from thinking in the immediate and concrete to idle musings of the distant and abstract.
I know nothing’s happened for 12 months and we pundits are staggering around punchily landing ever feebler blows on each other, but this argument is pathetic. The time to stop Saddam is before he gets nukes. Once he’s got ’em, it’s over. Kim Jong-Il is no threat at all, at least not to the United States. He could conceivably have an advanced Dong capable of hitting San Diego, but, if it ever did, it would be the last thing he or anybody else in North Korea ever did. If Psycho Boy really feels the need to fire his Dong at someone, Tokyo or Vancouver would be far more interesting targets: how would a non-nuclear power respond? A strong resolution at the UN?
Maybe the creators of South Park will write an alternate version of "Blame Canada" that is titled "Nuke Canada".
CARLSON: In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but a dark cloud of doubt now hovers over history as we know it. Author Gavin Menzies (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Christopher Columbus and his crew got to America 71 years too late. His book, "1421," sets out to prove that Chinese voyagers commanded by eunuchs, we'll get an explanation on that, got here first. So is it time to cancel Columbus Day? We take our own voyage with Gavin Menzies here in the CROSSFIRE.
CARVILLE: Have a seat here.
GAVIN MENZIES, AUTHOR, "1421": Thank you.
CARVILLE: All right. I read a piece in the Sunday "New York Times" magazine. I'll be very candid and upfront with you, I have not read your entire book. Having said that -- and I'm kind of a born skeptic. Give me the single best piece of evidence that you have on hand to convince me and people throughout the country that what you claim is true?
MENZIES: Sure. Well, if my claim is true, the first Europeans who got to America should have met Chinese people. And they did. When Jean Devarexama (ph), who was sent by the king of France, Francois I, to try and find a northwest passage, when he got to New York, he found Chinese people in what is now New York. Further down the coast in Florida...
CARVILLE: Did the Jews take their daughters out in Florida to a restaurant on Sunday night to eat?
MENZIES: This was 500 years ago.
CARVILLE: I'm just joking. Go ahead.
On Way Out Steve Case Takes Paperweight, AOL Division
(2003-01-13) -- As he leaves the office of chairman of AOL Time Warner, Steve Case said he plans to take a few "worthless items of sentimental value" -- among them a Lucite paperweight from his first Internet convention, and the entire AOL division.
"They're little keepsakes that mean something to me, and no one else will miss them," said the teary-eyed 44-year-old Mr. Case.
Mr. Case has reportedly struck a book deal for a novel, tentatively titled "Synergy: The Snake That Ate the Toad That Killed the Snake."
Sunday, January 12, 2003
Many commentators have already noted that the one party missing from the list of participants is ... Israel, just as Czechoslovakia was not invited to the Munich Conference of September 1938. Indeed, as the Quartet’s scheming proceeds, one is reminded more and more of the Munich Conference. The similarities and parallels are stupefying not only with regard to the overall picture - appeasing terrorist blackmailers, depriving a small, democratic republic of her defences, and, ultimately, dismembering the republic - but also in many of the details.