Saturday, April 19, 2003

Here is the story of a volunteer for Saddam from the Arab press. For those who think the Iraqis welcomed these foreign fighters or the "human shields" read this:

To add up to the plight of people leaving their country for the defense of another, the inhabitants of southern town of Nassiriyah welcomed Arab volunteers with nothing but gunfire.

"We were fired at by the town residents, who killed three of us. They just shouted asking us 'why you are here? Did you came to defend Saddam?'" Emad, another volunteer, asserted
.

An interesting piece on a program to reduce the number of babies born with disabilities caused by parental drug use. What is striking are the program's opponents. What works is less important to them than their politically correct views. Planned Parenthood calls for more drug treatment facilities as a solution even though the success rate for these programs is miserably low.
Isn't it ironic that Planned Parenthood calls the program racist inasmuch as its founder Margaret Sanger wanted to control the number of blacks born.

While the world's attention is focused on Iraq the dictators for life Castro and Mugabe do their little dance of death. Will the Hollywood Left and their follow travelers take notice of these crimes against humanity? I doubt it. Well, at least not until they can find a way to blame the U.S.
from Scrappleface:

U.S. Finds Iraq Contractor with No Political Ties

(2003-04-19) -- The U.S. government has awarded a $7.9 Billion contract for the redevelopment of Iraq's oil industry to the only company it could find that had no political connections.

The White House, under pressure from Democrats to avoid awarding bids to major campaign donors, located the contractor in rural Howard, Pennsylvania.

Bob Yoder, of Howard, who runs a small engine repair shop, salvage yard and "groundhog mitigation service", said he'd do his best to get Iraq's oil industry "up and humming again."

Mr. Yoder has never contributed to any political campaign and has never voted in an election.

"Between the engine shop and shooting groundhogs, I really don't have time for politics," said Mr. Yoder. "My old lady and I are excited about this deal because we've never flown in an airplane before."

Friday, April 18, 2003

A good fisking of Paul Krugman.
Rachel posts an open letter to Tim Robbins.
from C&S

In a message dated 4/15/2003 4:18:27 PM Pacific Standard Time, JAGudehus writes:

MEMO TO NANCY PELOSI:

A Failed Plan?


1. We took Iraq in less time than it took Janet Reno to take the Branch Davidian compound. That was a 51-day operation.

2. It took less time to find evidence of chemical weapons in Iraq than it took Hillary Clinton to find the Rose Law Firm billing records.

3. It took Teddy Kennedy longer to call the police after his Oldsmobile sunk at Chappaquiddick than it took the 3rd Infantry Division and the Marines to destroy the Medina Republican Guard.

4. We took Iraq in less time than it took to count the votes in Florida in the year 2000!

Nancy, you and other Democratic leaders sure have a strange concept of failure.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

According to this article 'damning' documents have been found linking Iraq to international terrorist organizations.

DAMNING documentary evidence has come to light which appears to confirm links between Saddam Hussein and international terrorism.

Secret dossiers describing exchanges between an African Islamist terrorist group and senior Iraqi officials have been found inside the country's Intelligence Headquarters in Baghdad.

The papers detail discussions between Iraq's charge d'affaires in Nairobi, Fallah Hassan Al Rubdie, and the Uganda guerrilla group, the Allied Democratic Forces ( ADF), which has links to other anti- western Islamist organisations.
(via Electric Venom)
Quote of the Day
In the future, every device--the Internet car and the Internet appliance--will be connected to the network. We're designing routers for cars, and, in 10 years, almost every car will have a router.
--John Chambers, CEO, Cisco Systems
So 42% of Americans are still not hip to the Internet. Makes you wonder what these people are like, doesn't it? I am particularly fond of this explanation for not using the Internet today: "Ms. Hammett said she and her husband were on the Web back in 1996, but soon dropped it. We began to see that it took an enormous amount of time," she said. "And often the quality of information we found was very superficial."

Geez, how dumb can you get? Perhaps somebody should tell Ms. Hammett and her husband that a lot has changed online since 1996. My guess is that Ms. Hammett and her spouse are bigs fan of the Jerry Springer show.

A good piece taking apart CNN for its reporting from Cuba. Can we now call it the Compromised News Network.
"If planet earth were a corporation, what would its annual report to the shareholders look like?" Not good, according to professor Robert Costanza, director of the University of Vermont's newly formed Gund Institute for Ecological Economics. Gund and his colleagues are getting ready to present the United Nations with "Earth Inc.," the planet's first report to shareholders.

According to Constanza, GDP may be on the rise in many countries, but once you take into account the costs of environmental degradation and a flat or declining quality of life, the earth looks like a case study in bad management.

I wonder if Professor Costanza and his colleagues have ever read any of Julian Simon's books. Probably not. After all, who needs to know the facts when you are talking about the environment, right? As for the management prowess of the United Nations, I'll take the Department of Motor Vehicles any day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Now that Abu Abbas has been caught, perhaps we can rid ourselves of this travesty.

Professor Volokh makes the same point about First Amendment rights I was trying to make a few weeks ago, but does so with far more depth and eloquence.
Big Arm Woman reminds people that "The X-Files? Was A TV Show, Dammit". For those who think it was a documentary, follow the link.
Reporting for Duty

Here's my cousin in his new temporary surroundings. He reports the base has a Pizza Hut (which is actually a hut) and something like Walgreens. Can KFC be far behind?
Signs That You've Already Grown Up


  • Your potted plants stay alive.
  • Fooling around in a twin-sized bed is absurd.
  • You keep more food than beer in the fridge.
  • 6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to sleep.
  • You hear your favourite song on an elevator.
  • You carry an umbrella. You watch the Weather Channel.
  • Your friends marry and divorce instead of hook-up and break-up.
  • You go from 130 days of vacation time to 7.
  • Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as 'dressed up'.
  • You're the one calling the police because those darn kids next door don't know how to turn down the stereo.
  • Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.
  • You don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.
  • Your car insurance goes down and your car payments go up.
  • You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonald's.
  • Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.
  • You no longer take naps from noon to 6 p.m.
  • Dinner and a movie the whole date instead of the beginning of one.
  • MTV News is no longer your primary source for information.
  • You go to the drugstore for Ibuprofen and antacids, not condoms and pregnancy tests.
  • A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer 'pretty good stuff'.
  • You actually eat breakfast foods at breakfast time.
  • Grocery lists are longer than macaroni & cheese, diet Pepsi & Ho-Ho's.
  • "I just can't drink the way I used to" replaces "I'm never going to drink that much again."
  • Over 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.
  • You don't drink at home to save money before going to a bar.



Troops in Iraq have captured Abu Abbas in Baghdad. But the Iraqis weren't harboring any terrorists, right? For those who've forgotten, Abbas is the guy who threw 69 year old, wheelchair bound, Leon Klinghoffer overboard during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro.
Conventional economic theory assumes perfect certainty. There's only one problem: perfect certainty doesn't exist in the real world. So how do humans live with uncertainty? Cognitive psychologists tell us that many people are ill-equipped to handle uncertainty. But the study of smart heuristics shows that there are strategies people actually use to make good decisions that deal openly with uncertainties, rather than denying their existence...
It's difficult for me to contain my excitement about the upcoming release of The Matrix Reloaded. According to this piece in the current issue of WIRED magazine, special F/X guru John Gaeta had to reinvent cinematography to bring the Wachowski brother's incredible vision to life.

Don't you just love innovative people?
The amazing Palestinian Authority. The Oslo accords exist for Israel but not when it comes to their behavior. Forget it guys the Oslo accords are dead; killed by the Intefada. What a bunch of morons.
There is a story in today's NYTimes by David Sanger talking about the North Koreans and U.S. planning talks in Beijing next week.

The agreement to enter the negotiations with both China and the U.S. marks a major concession for North Korea and an apparent victory for President Bush...

"apparent victory"? Come on, David. Let's be brutally honest here.
Quote of the Day:
Nothing is certain but uncertainty.
G.K. Chesterton
Claudia Rosett has a fine column in the WSJ about the structure of tyrannies and the need to maintain a constant facade of legitimacy.

In tyrannies, there is a doublethink that rulers require of their subjects. Ghastly examples of this abounded under communism, with its hours of study and cant, and its coarse insistence that all men subscribe to a paradise lacking in self, a place in which the individual--the source of creativity and joy--was the enemy. Czeslaw Milosz, a Nobel-prize winning writer from Eastern Europe, described this doublethink in his book "The Captive Mind," exploring the ways in which citizens of totalitarian hellholes make a corrosive and uneasy peace with themselves by embracing the lies needed for survival. Baathism, by a slightly different route, presented the people of Iraq with similar strictures. These are what they are now just beginning to throw off.

But if tyranny demands doublethink from its subjects, it requires something similar of the tyrants themselves. They insist that they be loved and revered; their survival depends on their ability to keep such facades in place. Saddam, in his efforts not only to impress the world but to reassure himself, had to have his cheering crowds, wave at the adoring singing children and see his own image refracted endlessly in pictures and statues. Kim must count the floral baskets brought to his door, and catalog the gifts that attest to his power and importance, totting up the words of every flattering flunkey, the pomp of every state visit, as evidence that--yes, indeed--he is king of kings.

And yet, they know. The very thoroughness with which they arm themselves--the secret police, the networks of informers, the jails, the private guards, the bunkers and barriers and fortresses--all these things announce to the world how very well tyrants understand that they are hated. And how very scared they are. Despots make a devil's deal, in which the price of ruling by terror is that they themselves live constantly with the knowledge of their own depravities, and in fear of their own subjects. Their worst enemy is truth, and their worst nightmare is the moment when Mephistopheles arrives, inside the palace walls, to make his claim.
We would like to welcome our newest permanent contributor to the blog: Steve Waite. Steve is the author of two excellent books Quantum Investing and Boomernomics and also maintains the excellent website Quantum Investing. As the blurb I added under our contributors section indicates, Steve is a recovering economist, tech-head, futurist, entrepreneur and a fine musician.
Thomas Friedman has a column on US Syria policy.

Now that it's become apparent that the Syrians have given military help to Saddam Hussein's army, and are alleged to be providing sanctuary for members of his despised clique, the question has been raised as to whether the Bush team might take out Syria's regime next. After all, when the Roto-Rooter truck's in the neighborhood, why not take advantage?

My short answer is this: There are many good reasons for the U.S. to promote reform or regime change in Syria, but we have no legal basis to do it now by military means and are not likely to try. Yet Syria, and countries like it, will be a problem, and we need a new strategic doctrine in the post-Saddam era to deal with them.
...
Bush-style military engagement with Syria is not in the cards right now. But French-style constructive engagement, which is just a cover for dancing with dictators, is a fraud. The natural third way is "aggressive engagement." That means getting in Syria's face every day. Reminding the world of its 27-year occupation of Lebanon and how much it has held that country back, and reminding the Syrian people of how much they've been deprived of a better future by their own thuggish regime.

Aggressive engagement of Syria also feels right to me because a U.S. attack on Syria right now would make many Iraqis feel very uncomfortable about working openly with America. Iraq may be liberated from Saddam, but never forget that it is still an Arab country, dominated by an Arab narrative. Iraqis are not watching Fox TV.


Sounds fairly sensible to me and as far as I can tell it is the approach the administration is taking with Syria.
Nanoflowers



Scientists at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan have made nanoflowers of molybdenum sulphide (MoS2). The flowers contained tens to hundreds of petals several nanometres thick and were excellent field emitters.
James K. Glassman at TCS points out this very prescient (especially in light of Eason Jordan's op-ed in the NYT last week) piece by Franklin Foer in TNR written last October.

Like their Soviet-bloc predecessors, the Iraqis have become masters of the Orwellian pantomime--the state-orchestrated anti-American rally, the state-led tours of alleged chemical weapons sites that turn out to be baby milk factories--that promotes their distorted reality. And the Iraqi regime has found an audience for these displays in an unlikely place: the U.S. media. It's not because American reporters have an ideological sympathy for Saddam Hussein; broadcasting his propaganda is simply the only way they can continue to work in Iraq. "There's a quid pro quo for being there," says Peter Arnett, who worked the Iraq beat for CNN for a decade. "You go in and they control what you do. ... So you have no option other than to report the opinion of the government of Iraq." In other words, the Western media's presence in the Ministry of Information describes more than just a physical reality.
...
Many of the world's authoritarian regimes--North Korea, Myanmar, Iran--use similar methods to control foreign journalists. But in those less newsworthy countries, American media organizations don't play along nearly as much. In Iraq, by contrast, high-ranking network functionaries endlessly court the Ministry of Information so they will be well-positioned when they need to get their reporters in. (Media executives not on news-gathering missions get visas much more easily.) This month--in preparation for the impending war--Fox News Senior Vice President John Moody made the pilgrimage. And nobody has schmoozed the ministry harder than the head of CNN's News Group, Eason Jordan, who has traveled to Baghdad twelve times since the Gulf war. In part these trips consist of network execs setting up meetings with Iraqi officials to try to persuade them that the networks are not sending CIA stooges. And in part they consist of network execs promising the Iraqi regime that they will cover its propaganda. "[The Iraqis] make it clear that you must attend if you hope to get future visas," one cameraman told me. That may explain why earlier this spring Tom Brokaw drove eleven hours through the desert to broadcast live from Baghdad on the eve of Saddam's sixty-fifth birthday--and why dozens of top correspondents covered this week's presidential referendum, even though every journalist considers the event a sham.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I am the one Ring

So which LOTR Villain are you? Hmm??

made by Michelle at EmptySpace.

Now I know why everyone desires me.
MacGregor Knox has a short history of U.S. war making in the FT. It is not, as is frequently suggested, waged in pursuit of global empire.

The widespread shock and horror at the US-British attack on Iraq derive above all from a stunning and almost universal lack of historical perspective. So do the hopes and expectations of many that the US ultimately will quail at the price in blood, treasure, and reputation of a series of pre-emptive wars against the world's rogue states.

The record suggests otherwise. The US secured its continental position in wars against the British Empire and Mexico. But the country's formative conflict was the "second American revolution" of 1861-65, which destroyed slavery. The civil war cost 600,000 dead - the largest and deadliest war between industrial societies before 1914. The winning side fought for an objective more total than any in the western world since the Wars of Religion: destruction of the enemy state and "reconstruction" of its society.
...
Pearl Harbor committed the US to a fight to the finish. It also revived American total war - destruction followed by reconstruction. After the Italians, Germans, and Japanese had tasted the relentless overwhelming force and demand for "unconditional surrender" that Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, and William Tecumseh Sherman applied to the Confederacy, the US faced the Soviet Union.

The US aim after 1941 was to eliminate the threat of future Hitlers and Pearl Harbors. To achieve that goal in the world of the 1940s and 1950s demanded forward defence positions beyond seas that could no longer ensure US security; sizeable standing forces instead of the customary dwarf-army; and huge social engineering projects to transform the German and Japanese warrior peoples into peace-loving citizens of democracies.
(via OTB)
Fred Hiatt has an excellent column in yesterdays WaPo on the web of lies and deceit which permeate totalitarian regimes.

The fear and moral corruption of life in a totalitarian state, so blessedly beyond the understanding of most Americans, was captured in a poignant moment in Baghdad on Wednesday as Iraqis came to realize that Saddam Hussein was gone. It was a reminder of how we underestimate, again and again, the lies that dictators tell and the lies that their subjects are forced to live, whether in Iraq, the Soviet Union or China.

More >>> (via One Hand Clapping)
And if the health food in France is not bad enough, Stephanie Schaudel, co-coordinator for Voices in the Wilderness, an anti-war group in Chicago is worried about fast food in Iraq:

"Some people would think that seeing a KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) on a street corner is a sign of progress, I certainly don't," Schaudel said.

Schaudel sees the destruction from the war as the greatest threat to the Iraqi people, but believes their suffering will continue as America's cultural influence increases.

"You can just look at what those kinds of businesses have done to the diet and health of many Americans to think that it might not be the number one thing we should be exporting," she explained.

"Iraqis have really good food, they don't need a KFC," she added.
(via Best of the Web)

And no, this is not a parody. In typical leftist fashion, Ms. Schaudel is sure she knows what the Iraqis need. Since her group opposed the overthrow of Saddam I'll assume she was just fine with the midnight knocks on the door to take various family members off to meet the industrial plastic shredder, but let's not have the Iraqis eat any fried chicken. Ms. Schaudel will be shocked to learned that many Iraqis are heavy smokers and her group will push hard to have anti-smoking laws instituted in Iraq without delay.
It seems that the vials found in a Paris train station locker last month, of what were suspected to be the poison ricin, turned out to be wheat germ and barley. Good grief, it's even worse than expected, it's...it's...health food! I think in France that's one of the few capital crimes. Quick! Call Alain Ducasse!
And speaking of income taxes, Paul Craig Roberts has a little screed about your current level of serfdom to the great government beast.
And speaking of penises, if you're too drunk to remember whether you used yours, you can get a refund from a brothel in Germany, or so a German court ruled last week.

"The brothel failed to provide concrete documentation of the prices and services provided," said court spokesman Vera Huth in the western town of Duesseldorf on Friday.

"They should have, for example, listed two sexual intercourse sessions at 600 euros, oral sex at 300 euros or anal sex at 400 euros a go," she told Reuters.
Happy Steel Penis Day! (Kanamari Matsuri)

This Japanese festival on April 15th celebrates the vanquishing of a demon that lived in a woman's vagina and would bite off the penises of her lovers! According to legend, a local craftsman fashioned a steel phallus which broke the demon's teeth. Hey, it's better than tax deadline day in the US, although the part about the biting off of penises has some similarities.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Not only did they provide weapons, but the Russians also provided intelligence and other 'wide-ranging' assistance in the months leading up to the Iraq war.

...including intelligence on private conversations between Tony Blair and other Western leaders.

Moscow also provided Saddam with lists of assassins available for "hits" in the West and details of arms deals to neighbouring countries. The two countries also signed agreements to share intelligence, help each other to "obtain" visas for agents to go to other countries and to exchange information on the activities of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qa'eda leader.
(via CountryStore)

I don't think Vladimir is going to be invited back to Texas anytime soon.
Jonathan at 'As It Should Be' outlines his plan for reconstructing Iraq as a free market, no/low tax haven with full constitutional protection of property rights, free speech, free association, etc... and US-like separation of powers. In other words a US mini-me, as in the original Jefferson/Madison model, with the creeping statism removed. I couldn't find much in the plan I would disagree with, but as the title of his blog says, it's as it should be. I think the reality will be far messier and less pleasant with factional fighting and Euro-style welfare statism. The lack of actual Jeffersons or Madisons in Iraq is a big drawback. But I am always willing to be pleasantly surprised.
Francis Fukiyama says withdrawing troops from Saudi Arabia should be one of our top priorities now that Iraq is no longer a threat in a sensible WSJ piece.

The U.S. began basing forces in Saudi Arabia during its buildup to the 1991 Gulf War. At the time, then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney was reported to have promised King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah that U.S. forces would be withdrawn after the war. But the continuing threat from Saddam Hussein and the need to maintain a no-fly zone over southern Iraq as part of Operation Southern Watch induced the U.S. to reverse course and ask for permanent basing.

These bases were always a source of instability. One of Osama bin Laden's early terrorist moves was the bombing of the Khobar Towers barracks in Dhahran in 1996, which killed 19 U.S. airmen. That plus another bombing in Riyadh induced the U.S. to move its forces from Dhahran to the more secluded Prince Sultan facility.

There are many good reasons to announce an intention to withdraw as soon as possible. The Saudi bases were useless to us during Operation Iraqi Freedom since the Saudis did not permit us to operate out of them. They have now become redundant with the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime and the end of the no-fly zone requirement.

But the most powerful reasons are political. U.S. forces are today welcomed in Baghdad as liberators. But there is great suspicion throughout the Arab world -- unfounded -- that we secretly plan to occupy the country. Announcing a withdrawal from Saudi Arabia will underline the point that our military deployments in the Gulf are not ends in themselves, but serve specific and limited political objectives.


I agree, this should be done immediately, and soon afterwards lets withdraw our troops from Germany and S. Korean.
Check out this piece on Syria's WMD program. I really would love it if we rum Assad and his administration out but unfortunately it would look horribly imperialistic. We are, after all, already on our second invasion in two years.
Find out why the Israel never gets to have a seat on the UN Security Council and why the UN opposed the Camp David Peace Accords with Egypt in this really good piece on the UN's treatment of Israel.
David Makovsky points to another success of administration policy, in isolating Yasir Arafat they may have provided the basis for what may finally be a workable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

While everyone was focused on Iraq, some promising developments have occurred. First, Yasir Arafat was forced to accept Salam Fayyad, a highly respected veteran of the International Monetary Fund, as the Palestinian Authority finance minister. Then last month, reformers in the Palestine Legislative Council, over Mr. Arafat's fierce objections, ratified the moderate Mahmoud Abbas (widely known as Abu Mazen) as the Palestinians' first prime minister.

These changes did not happen in a vacuum. First, Israel's resolve not to capitulate to violence became clear. Hopes that it would pull out of the West Bank as a result of suicide bombs were dashed when the army went house to house to round up militants last spring.

Second, last June President Bush made clear that Washington would no longer view Mr. Arafat as a legitimate interlocutor. Faced with Mr. Arafat's calls for Palestinian "martyrdom," Mr. Bush insisted on working with "leaders not compromised by terror."
...
Despite the diplomatic turmoil preceding the Iraq war, America still has leverage over Europe. Europe craves an enhanced role in Middle Eastern peacemaking. Given this eagerness, the United States can insist that Europe and its Arab friends now act.

Israel must show its intention to work seriously with Mr. Abbas. It can do so by dismantling its West Bank outposts, which are illegal by Israeli law, and by halting expansion of settlements. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said this weekend of the settlements: "I know that we will have to part with some of these places."
MIT Tech Review has an article about the advantages of LED's vs lightbulbs. (Side note: I posted this mostly for my lovely and talented wife, the chemist, who has done a lot of research into LED technology and has a real infatuation with it).
N. Korea has made several concessions in talks with the US. I'll bet that supreme leader Kim Jong-Il has had many sleepless nights after seeing footage of the missile that hit Saddam's cronies (and probably Saddam too) on the first night of the war.
Antony Beevor (author of the excellent Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943 and The Fall of Berlin) says that liberators should not expect gratitude because they won't get it. He suggests that French gratitude for their liberation after WWII started wearing thin by the end of 1945.

Perhaps the most complex element in the relationship between liberator and liberated is the insidious grind of cultural difference, which has little to do with politics. In the glow of liberation, there can be an attraction of opposites. "The easygoing manner of the young Americans incarnated liberty itself," wrote Simone de Beauvoir in 1944. It was just about her only sympathetic observation on her liberators. The largess of American troops was soon seen as an insult. Alfred Fabre-Luce wrote of "an army of drivers, with no indication of rank, who threw cigarettes to onlookers as if to an African crowd."

As in almost all postliberation periods, sex and the black market were intimately linked. Frenchmen bitterly resented the initial success that American soldiers had with French girls, their attentions often aided by nylons, cigarettes and tins of food. Many reports suggest that within a few months of the liberation, certainly by the spring of 1945, American enterprise was no longer appreciated by most Parisian girls. They saw it as arrogance.
A mostly sensible column by Thomas Friedman in yesterday's NYT.

Such encounters made clear to me that America was not just at war with Saddam, but with Saddamism: an entrenched Arab mind-set, born of years of colonialism and humiliation, that insists that upholding Arab dignity and nationalism by defying the West is more important than freedom, democracy and modernization.

Throughout this war, Saddamism was peddled by Al Jazeera television, Arab intellectuals and the Arab League. You cannot imagine how much distress there is among certain Arab elites that the people of Iraq preferred liberation by America to more defiance under Saddam. The morning after Baghdad was liberated, Abdul Hamid Ahmad, editor of The Gulf News, wrote, like so many of his colleagues: "This is a heartbreaking moment for any Arab, seeing marines roaming the streets of Baghdad."


My only quibble is with this line:

The moment reminded me of something the Arab columnist Rami Khouri liked to say, that Arabs for too long have seen the strength of America, but not the "goodness" of America. Partly that's because their media willfully distorted what we did, and partly it's because America has used its power out here more to defend oil and Israel than democracy. This war in Iraq was meant to bring the idealistic side of U.S. power into the Arab world.

I thought defending Israel was defending democracy. Or is there another one in the mideast that I missed?
A much more commendable piece in the same Saturday NYT is Paul Davies "A Brief History of the Multiverse". Davies is also the author of several excellent books on modern physics, the most recent being How to Build a Time Machine. For more info on the multiverse see David Deutsch's The Fabric of Reality or see his very interesting web site.
John de Graaf has an op-ed in Saturday's NYT arguing that we Americans work too hard and should try to emulate our European brethren.

According to the International Labor Organization, Americans now work 1,978 hours annually, a full 350 hours — nine weeks — more than Western Europeans. The average American actually worked 199 hours more in 2000 than he or she did in 1973, a period during which worker productivity per hour nearly doubled.
...
The harmful effects of working more hours are being felt in many areas of society. Stress is a leading cause of heart disease and weakened immune systems. Consumption of fast foods and lack of time for exercise has led to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Many parents complain that they do not have enough time to spend with their children, much less become involved in their community. Worker productivity declines during the latter part of long work shifts.


Hmmm...despite all that extra stress, life expectancy has increased to 76.9 years from 71.4 years in 1973 when we worked 199 hours less. To be fair, European life expectancy rates have increased by similar amounts. But there is no mention in the article about sclerotic rates of European growth or high levels of European unemployment both of which are directly related to the European work rules or the impending crisis as the European welfare state becomes bankrupt in the next 50 years as the number of retired workers and working age folks on the dole swamp those remaining to pay for it all.
Regarding the looting of the Iraqi National Museum which Max posted on earlier, I think this was actually a terrible shame and tragedy. I understand the military has more pressing issues like dealing with people shooting at them, but they really need to get some MP's in place to restore and maintain civil order. It is appalling that the military took great pains to avoid damaging historical sites and shrines while bombing but then let the National Museum get ransacked by looters.

UPDATE: The United States has pledged to recover and repair the priceless antiquities looted from Iraq's national museum.
Bill O'Reilly lists some of the losers in the war with Iraq. (Besides Iraq, of course).

Sunday, April 13, 2003

The information we all expected on the collaboration between the Russians and Saddam has begun to come out. This revelation should serve as notice to all those who think that world politics is made up of smiles and public sentiments of cooperation. It's still dirty and murderous out there and our friends are few.
Looters ransacked the Iraqi national museum which housed items that dated back thousands of years. I wonder if we can get cool stuff for cheap on ebay? I always wanted an authentic cuneiform tablet or a golden statue of Marduck.
There is a column today in our "favorite" paper titled "Nobody Loves a Liberator" and the only example the person uses is the French. What a schmuck.