Saturday, May 10, 2003

Another book from the church of immanent disaster. A disciple of the discredited Paul Ehrlich. But, lets not have reality intrude on the hand-wringing, fear mongering. Since Santa Rosa is only about twenty miles from my house and I never heard of the school the author teaches at I looked it up. Here is the link. It is apparent from their web page that they are not much into the hard sciences.

Here's the college description of a course the author teaches:Culture, Ecology & Sustainable Community I (North Bay Campus) Richard Heinberg TBA U/L Division 3
Offered at the North Bay Campus (Santa Rosa) on four weekends, this series of seminars focuses on a critique of the development of modern industrial society and presents ways of renewing the culture and buildings of sustainable communities. The seminars include a number of field trips as well as integrative seminars for processing the information and experiences. Seminars are scheduled from 9:30-5:30 Jan. 26 & 27, Feb. 16 & 17, March 16 & 17, and April 20 & 21. For more information call (707) 568-3090. A real window into the miseducation of students.
The Lemon presents a short timeline of Internet history.

Some highlights:


1981 Bill Gates embarks on heroic and lifelong quest to piss off every person in America.

1996 Parenting groups become concerned that spending extended time online is depriving children of important time spent watching television.

1998 3lit3 hax0rz, d00d: Teens become most prolific illiterate writers in history.

2001 Blogging invented. Promises to change the way people bore strangers with banal anecdotes about their pets.

(via Joanne Jacobs)

Friday, May 09, 2003

Prof. Lemon thinks that if you subscribe to some flavor of communitarianism you should be able to keep the departmental refrigerator from becoming a pig sty.
The Weekly Standard has an interesting story on the Polish Special Forces (from Best of the Web).
The trial lawyers and the Democrat Party are joined at the wallet. They may claim to be for the little guy but when it comes down to the finish line they will choose their own financial well being over the public. Small business in California are routinely targeted by law firms and sued (read extorted) on the basis of a minor infraction of some governmental regulation. In most cases they are not even subject to fines by the government. But these trial lawyers shake them down anyway.
I think the following is a great example of why Kucinich will never win the Democratic nomination:

Stephanopoulos asked the congressman how a guy who presided over the bankruptcy of Cleveland when he was the mayor of that city in the 1970s, could possibly hope to inspire the confidence to lead a nation.

"Well, first of all, George, I want to remind you that today a long shot won the Derby," he said. "I also want to remind you that in Cleveland that default ends up being a badge of honor for me because I stood up for the people of Cleveland against a takeover of our municipal electric system by a utility monopoly."


So he bankrupts a major city and defends it because it kept a public utility monopoly from being taken over by a private one? Sometimes you wonder if some people run for President just to impress their mothers.
Are public school officials chosen for their complete lack of common sense or does it develop while on the job? As if the scores of zero-tolerance policies aren't bad enough, suspending students for taking their vitamins at lunch or carrying plastic knives out of the lunchroom, now they've moved on to the staff. The latest idiocy concerns a Pennsylvania teacher's aide who has been suspended without pay for wearing a cross pendant in the classroom. There must've been complaints from the local vampire groups. (And the school's not even in Sunnydale)
Joseph Yeager explores the intellectual roots of multiculturalism and political correctness and provides a short history of cultural communism.

The theoretical and historical foundation of cultural Communism is known as the Frankfurt School.  The Frankfurt School was not an institution, but rather, a school of thought within Marxism.  In the context of contemporary cult-com, its most significant figures were Walter Benjamin, Theodore Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse.  Raymond Williams, who shared much with the Frankfurt School, and whose influence is great among today's cult-coms, may be considered an honorary member.

The Frankfurt School coalesced in the mid twentieth century, largely in response to the discontent that many Marxist intellectuals felt toward orthodox Marxism, and to the growing realization that the much desiderated class war in the capitalist West was unlikely to occur.  Benjamin, Adorno, Marcuse, Williams et. al., then began to speculate on how best to subvert the capitalist society they hated so much.  Willy-nilly, they concluded that capitalism was far more vulnerable at the cultural than the economic level and that, therefore, the cultural norms of capitalist society should be attacked.  The obliteration of capitalism's cultural infrastructure would bring down capitalism and make possible the construction of a Communist society in the West.
...
Whereas the anarcho-coms urge violence, terrorism, mass vandalism, civil disobedience, and syndicalist strikes to bring down the system, the cult-coms deploy the slightly subtler weapons of multiculturalism and political correctness to achieve identical aims.  Where the anarcho-coms envisage a dramatic and cataclysmic revolution, the cult-coms seek to gradually mold the United States into an entity that all neo-coms could embrace, but that would resemble the United States in name only.
...
Political correctness, which stems directly from Theodore Adorno and Herbert Marcuse's views on language and rhetoric, is cultural communism's primary tool for altering white consciousness.  The cult-coms believe that the very words we use serve to legitimize and buttress the power of the dominant class and to suppress the "subaltern" elements of society.  Moreover--and as David Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate have pointed out--they believe that free speech reinforces hierarchies because elites have access to organs of communication while the disadvantaged do not.  The elites use this advantage to cement their high status and to seal the pitiable fate of the less fortunate.  The solution, therefore, is to gain control over society's cultural, educational and media spheres (a veritable fait accompli), and to use these redoubts as bases from which to regulate "hurtful" language and suppress the speech of the so-called elite class.  Over time, the enfor ced usage of "benevolent" language and outlawry of "hate speech" will reconfigure white consciousness along progressive non-racist lines.

The multicultural program is every bit as sinister and Orwellian as its politically correct adjunct.  It is a massive effort in deception, mendacity and reeducation designed to bring haughty white society down a peg, and to elevate non-white (but especially black) history and culture to its rightful position of high honor.  In realized form, this means denigrating and covering up the accomplishments of Western civilization while usurping and inventing achievements for non-Western societies.  It means focusing monomaniacally on atrocities committed by Westerners while sweeping non-Western abominations under the rug.  It means claiming that the philosophical, scientific and literray heritage of ancient Greece was in fact stolen from "black" Egypt.  It means pretending that slavery and wars of conquest are uniquely American, while eliding the successes of America's democratic government, its economy, its breakthroughs in science and industry, its struggl es on behalf of human rights, and the courage and decency of its soldiers.  And, of course, it means asserting that the United States got just what it deserved on 9-11, and that any punitive American responses were unjust.
Jeff Jacoby doesn't understand what Castro's numerous supporters could be thinking. (Hint: They're not.)

''CUBA IS AN anachronism in our hemisphere, an anachronism on the face of the earth,'' Secretary of State Colin Powell remarked the other day. ''And the whole international community should be condemning Cuba.''

Who could disagree? In a ruthless crackdown just four weeks ago, the Castro regime rounded up 75 peaceful dissidents - economists, journalists, pro-democracy petitioners, even a poet or two - and sentenced them to prison terms of up to 28 years. The combined total of their sentences was a stunning 1,454 years. One US official characterized it as ''the most despicable act of political repression in the Americas in a decade.'' No less barbaric was the fate of three Cubans who attempted to escape Castro's island gulag by hijacking a ferry to Florida: They were killed by firing squad. Of course the whole international community should be condemning Cuba.
...
At least the UN commission didn't issue a statement defending Castro's dictatorship. That is more than can be said for the 160-plus ''artists and intellectuals'' - well, that's what Reuters calls them - who decided this would be a good time to issue a ''declaration of support'' for Cuba. Their statement parroting Castro's claim that the United States is plotting to topple him, warns that Washington's ''harassment against Cuba could serve as a pretext for an invasion.'' Two entertainers, Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, are among the signers. So are a few Nobel laureates, including such icons of the left as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Rigoberta Menchu.

Why do people like this come to Castro's defense? He is a thug, a lifelong enemy of freedom, democracy, and tolerance. Doesn't that matter to them? Over the years he has murdered or imprisoned thousands of Cubans whose only crime was to disapprove of his Stalinist misrule. Thousands more have lost their lives while attempting to flee the misery and persecution of life under Castro. Doesn't that matter to them?
Amir Taheri suspects that the revelations of Iraqi payoffs to European government officials and journalists may be the tip of the iceburg.

Some Iraq experts describe the documents as "weapons of political and diplomatic mass destruction." For they narrate the secret story of over 30 years of Ba'athist rule.
In that period, thousands of politicians, diplomats, journalists, do-gooders, peaceniks and officials of an unknown number of countries in the Middle East, Europe and North America were on the payroll of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Some former collaborators who later joined Saddam's opponents in exile have revealed that the Ba'athist regime targeted politicians and opinion-makers in all countries where Iraq had a presence.

"Putting journalists and politicians on the payroll was a well-established policy," says Khalid Kishtaini, who worked for the Iraqi Cultural Office in London in the 1980s. A prominent writer who later joined the opposition, Kishtaini also reports that the office had instructions to obtain documents from all the recipients of Iraqi largesse, possibly for future blackmail.

Saad al-Bazzaz, another writer who worked with Saddam before joining the opposition, confirms this: "The principle was that everyone could be bought, if the price was right," he says. "You would be surprised to know who was in Saddam's pay."

European (especially French) and Middle Eastern political parties and politicians got cash or anonymous donations through front groups, including fake charities.
Researchers at the University of Rome are working on an "electronic nose" that can "smell" lung cancer on people's breath:

Like a real nose, the electronic version uses an array of sensors that are not designed to detect any one chemical. Instead they respond to the overall profile of compounds in a sample. Such sensors are already used in the food industry to spot subtle off smells and tastes.

A variety of conditions can lead to specific compounds turning up in the breath. This can include aliphatic acids in the breath of people with liver cirrhosis, and dimethylamine or trimethylamine in the breath of those with failing kidneys.

Lung cancer patients exhale a cocktail of alkanes and benzene derivatives, although the reason for this is unclear.

According to a report in New Scientist magazine, which looked at the efficacy of the "nose", quartz crystal sensors were used which were each coated with a varying substance that binds to a different range of organic chemicals. The crystals’ natural vibration frequency is related to their weight, so this changes as molecules from the sample stick to their coated surface, says the report.

Because of this a complex gas sample such as human breath will create a unique profile of vibrations from a range of crystals.

Scientists tested the e-nose on 60 people at the Forlanini Hospital in Rome, including 35 waiting for an operation to remove a large lung tumour. Each test took just over a minute and the nose successfully pinpointed every cancer patient, according to New Scientist.

Lileks is having a battle with his anal-retentive demon:

8:40 AM The Apple MP3 player now lets you assign cover art to your tracks. Click on a song, and a tiny picture of the cover pops up. Very cool - but you have to add the art yourself. This means I must now hunt down the art for everything I’ve ripped, and plug it into the program. Oh, but you say, you don’t have to. There’s nothing that requires you to do this.

Yes there is. I think it’s obvious by now I am possessed by an anal-retentive demon. (I don’t know his name. Feyligsungur, perhaps.) And it gets worse: I am somewhat anal-retentive myself, but in a different way. Hence our conversations are excruciating. I look at the bookshelf, and I hear him. His voice is soft and insinuating, with a gravely note of menace.

Rearrange the books, whispers a voice in my head. Rearrange them by height.

I drive my fists into my temples. No! They have to be ordered by genre, author, and date!

But that looks so ugly. So rough. So . . . random and unplanned. Order them by height. Do it. Do it now.

I won’t! I won’t! Leave me alone or I’ll turn the spines towards the wall!

He usually goes away for a while then.
In an op-ed titled Save Our City, Hugh Carey, Richard Gilder, H. Dale Hemmerdinger, Roger Hertog, Felix Rohatyn and Walter Wriston (The Journal description of the authors is that they are respectively, former governor of New York, co-chairman of the Club for Growth, CEO of Atco Properties, chairman of the Manhattan Institute, former chairman of the Municipal Assistance Corp., and former CEO of Citibank) plead with Bloomberg not to raise already high taxes during a recession:

Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stood on the steps of the New York state capitol and thanked legislators for "coming through" for his city, by giving him permission to impose $700 million in new taxes on Gotham, bringing to nearly $3 billion the total tax increases enacted by the city since the mayor took office.

Any longtime New Yorker knows that a strategy of trying to tax your way out of hard times has been tried twice before -- in the late 1960s and early 1990s -- with disastrous consequences. Now, as then, tax increases will not only not solve the budget crisis but will exacerbate the economic downturn. In the early 1990s crisis, as taxes went up two years in a row, the economy contracted by more than 10% while deficits persisted.

When taxes are already as high as they are in New York, new or increased levies fail to generate the level of revenues that city officials project. A 1997 study of tax rates in New York and other cities by a team of economists concluded that raising New York's property tax, for instance, would produce "little or no additional net revenues," because every dollar increase in tax rates drives away a dollar of the city's tax base.

The current tax increases are likely to do short- and long-term economic harm. The city is raising its sales tax, for instance, despite the fact that the combined state and city rate is already more than two percentage points higher than neighboring New Jersey's. City officials maintain that the one-quarter percentage point increase will have little effect. They don't seem to understand that New York is already losing over $700 million of business annually to less taxing locales. The city's tax increases will put local businesses further at a disadvantage when they can least afford it.

Long-term, the damage to the city's economy could be profound. Over the last four decades, New York City has become the most heavily taxed city in America. And as a result, Gotham has not added a single net new private-sector job over that period of time, while local government jobs have grown by more than 20% -- 90,000 positions.

The private sector in New York has stagnated because high taxes have driven both businesses and individuals out of town. The city perpetually has a net outflow of residents -- more people leave the city to live elsewhere in the U.S. than come here from somewhere else in America. The outflow is especially intense among families earning more than $100,000 a year. Yet the city is again increasing the tax rates on these individuals, arguing that they are most able to bear the added costs of higher taxes.

The effect of tax increases on businesses is likely to be still more profound than on individuals. The rise in personal income taxes will immediately impair local small businesses, most of which are organized in such a way that their profits are taxed not at the corporate rate but as if they were the personal income of the owner. Since most small businesses grow by drawing on profits and the personal savings of their owners, the plan will leave even less money for new small-business investment.

Big corporations, meanwhile, will get hit especially hard by the steep rise in property taxes. New York already has among the highest commercial property tax rates in the country, collecting nearly $10 a square foot in taxes for leases in prime Manhattan locations, compared with just $3 and $4 a square foot in places like Los Angeles and Atlanta, and less than that in suburban locales that perennially seek to lure corporate tenants. Big businesses -- those renting 500,000 or more square feet of space -- could see their space costs go up by $1 million a year. Fifty years ago, New York was home to 140 Fortune 500 companies. Today that number is down to 33.

What's most troubling is that all this is so unnecessary. The facts suggest that there is enormous room to cut the city's budget without severely damaging services or laying off crucial workers. New York City already spends on many things that other city governments don't. The city boasts a plethora of committees, boards, and commissions that overlap other government functions or are largely symbolic -- and costly. New York's five borough president offices, along with the public advocate's office, are largely ceremonial, but the city spends $30 million a year to maintain their staffs. The city even has its own human-rights commission, duplicating federal and state efforts, which costs $7.5 million a year.

New York spends more money, and employs more public workers per capita than most American cities. Yet the city has taken few steps to rein in costs and reduce expenditures. It is proceeding as if the private economy existed solely to preserve as many government jobs as possible, and as if 100 layoffs in the private sector economy were preferable to the layoff of a single government worker. Bolstered by projected revenues from the new tax increases, the city is only seeking minimal new job cuts, amounting to less than 2% of what is the largest municipal work force in America.

The city has also failed to win any significant concessions from its unions on such issues as health and retirement benefits, even though workers enjoy much more generous benefits than similar private-sector workers. At a time when most workers in the private sector pay at least a portion of their health-care insurance, the city has refused to ask its work force for even a modest contribution to premiums.

The city has also rejected, or simply not explored, a host of potential cost savings advocated by budget watchdogs, such as private contracting of services, from filling potholes to providing school lunches. Privatizing trash services alone could save at least $50 million a year. Requiring city employees to work a 40-hour week (not just 35 hours) could eliminate 8,500 jobs and save $500 million a year, according to the Citizen's Budget Commission.

On top of it all, the city has recently borrowed more than $2 billion to finance its deficit, and the state legislature has allowed the city to stretch out repayment of the bonds that financed the 1970s bailout. All the while, Mr. Bloomberg has taken no significant structural steps to eliminate the deficit.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Clubbeaux has a good post on how much of what passes for discourse these days consists of not much more than MAPSIs (Meaningless All-Purpose Slanderous Insults) and provides a short guide to some of the more popular ones.

Censorship. No longer do you have to actually prevent or curtail a display, publication or screening of something to be MAPSIed as a “censor,” all you have to do is say you can do whatever you want to, but the government’s not obligated to spend its citizens’ money to subsidize it.
There is an op-ed in The Forward titled "The Wonder That is Israel":

To understand the essence of Israel's meaning, it is enough to ask how the history of the Jewish people might have been different had there been a Jewish state in 1933, in 1938, even in 1941. If Israel had controlled its borders and the right of entry instead of England, if Israel had had embassies and consulates across Europe, how many more Jews might have escaped and found sanctuary from the Nazis?

Instead, Europe's Jews had to rely on the good will of embassies and consulates of other countries and, with woefully few exceptions, they found neither the "good" nor the "will" to assist.

I have seen firsthand Israel do what no other Western country had ever done before — bring out black Africans, in this case Ethiopian Jews, not in chains for exploitation, but in dignity for freedom.

Awestruck, I have watched firsthand Israel never falter in transporting Soviet Jews to the Jewish homeland, even as Scud missiles launched from Iraq traumatized the nation. It says a lot about the conditions they were leaving behind that these Jews continued to board planes for Tel Aviv even while missiles were exploding in Israeli population centers. And equally, it says a lot about Israel that, amid all the security concerns, it managed without missing a beat to continue to welcome the new immigrants.

And how can I ever forget the surge of pride that enveloped me in 1976 on hearing the news of Israel's daring rescue of 106 Jewish hostages held by Arab and German terrorists in Entebbe, Uganda, 2,000 miles from Israel?


And there is the rub. Many people equate zionism with racism because it puts Jews above all else. Well considering the world has a history of treating Jews worse than dogs, I think it's a good thing that finally there is a place where people are looking out for their interests.
The Worlds Dullest blog. Or is it the online version of Dem. Presidential candidate, Bob Graham's diary? (via Balloon Juice)
There is a chance that Poland will command German peacekeeping troops in Iraq! Muahahahahah! Of course the Germans have their panties in a bunch over this one (from Best of the Web).
Thomas Sowell posts his third installment in a series about universal healthcare.
A good rebuttal to the anti-Semitic comments of British MP Tam Dalyell.
(courtesy Andrew Sullivan).
Ah, those very civilized Europeans. It seems that to become an EU Commissioner you must learn how to emphatically deny any charges leveled against the Union with the fervor of a Soviet Commissar. For those always touting Chinese or Asian wisdom, I'd like an explanation or justification of the way they treat animals and animal suffering.
CS&W for Beginners

The boys here tend to preach to the converted or at least to the tuned in. But what better way to make a better world than to start at the very beginning? Here is a back-to-basics primer for the young and the young at heart.
Slovakia, the land of some of my forefathers (the others are from Calabria), has proposed a flat tax. I always knew they were sensible people. The Calabrese on the other had support a highly progressive tax which they then don't pay. Sensible folks too.
Iraqi poet Awad Nasir celebrates the fall of the Ba'athist regime in a op-ed in todays WSJ.

Those who died to liberate our country are heroes in their own lands. For us they will be martyrs and heroes. They have gained an eternal place in our hearts, one that is forever reserved for those who gave their lives in more than three decades of struggle against the Baathist regime. It is not only the people of Iraq who are grateful for the end of a nightmare. A majority of Arabs and Muslims are also grateful.

The chorus of lamentation for Saddam consists of a few isolated figures espousing the bankrupt ideologies of pan-Arabism and Islamism. A Moroccan Islamist tells us that the American presence in Iraq is "a punishment from Allah" for Muslims because of their "weakening faith." But if the toppling of a tyrant is punishment, then I pray that Allah will bring similar punishments on other Arab nations that endure despotic rule.

The U.S. and its allies should not listen to those who wished to maintain Saddam in power and who, now that he's gone, are trying to find a clone to put on a throne in Baghdad. Those who are urging the coalition to leave Iraq as soon as possible wish none of us any good. A precipitate departure could trigger intervention by Iraq's predatory neighbors and foment civil war.

Replacing one of the most vicious tyrannies with a working democratic system is no easy task. But it is a task worthy of the world's bravest democracies.
ScrappleFace doesn't seem to think much of K-Mart's chances:

K-Mart Corporation emerged from 15 months of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection ready to dominate its niche, according to a company spokesman.

The discount retailer, which closed about 700 of its 2,100 stores and fired 60,000 employees, has struggled in recent years to find a place in the consumer's mind between Wal-Mart and Target.

"We believe we have a plan to dominate our segment," said the source. "But we first had to define that niche. To win in retail, you can't do what others are doing. We're aiming for the customer who's not interested in the clean, well-lighted, attractive merchandising of Target stores, and doesn't care for the reliable low prices, quality brands and friendly service at Wal-Mart."
Let's hope this disease doesn't jump from animals to humans. There is apparently a new form of flesh eating venereal disease affecting African baboons.

The disease targets the reproductive organs of the primate. The consequences for male baboons are particularly gruesome, says Elibariki Mtui, of the African Wildlife Foundation in Arusha, Tanzania. "The genitals kind of rot away, then they just drop off," he told New Scientist.

The disease first appeared a month ago and while cases seem to be confined to Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania, there are fears it will spread from the affected troops of olive baboons to others nearby. "People are really concerned that it could be an epidemic," says Mtui. Wardens at the park confirm that some of the infected males had died.


Ouch!!
This is a few years old, but I had not seen it before and it is well worth reading. Charlton Heston's 1999 speech at Harvard Law School on 'Winning the Cultural War'.

I’ve come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated.

For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 - long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else’s pride, they called me a racist.

I’ve worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe.

I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But during a speech, when I drew an analogy between singling out innocent Jews and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite.

Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country.

But when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.


Follow the link and read the whole thing.
An Iraqi poets comments on the liberation of Iraq:

It was not the mullahs of Tehran and their Islamic Revolutionary Guards who liberated the Iraqi Shiites.

Nor was it Turkey's army that came to rescue the Iraqi Turkomans from Saddam's clutches.

Amr Moussa, the Arab League's secretary-general, and the corrupt regimes he speaks for, did not liberate Iraqi Arab nationalists.

Iraq's democrats, now setting up their parties and publishing their newspapers, were not liberated by Jacques Chirac. Nor did the European left liberate Iraq's communists, now free to resume their activities inside Iraq.

No, believe it or not, Iraqis of all faiths, ethnic backgrounds and political persuasions were liberated by young men and women who came from the other side of the world -- from California and Wyoming, from New York, Glasgow, London, Sydney and Gdansk to risk their lives, and for some to die, so that my people can live in dignity.

Those who died to liberate our country are heroes in their own lands. For us they will be martyrs and heroes. They have gained an eternal place in our hearts, one that is forever reserved for those who gave their lives in more than three decades of struggle against the Baathist regime.

It is not only the people of Iraq who are grateful for the end of a nightmare. A majority of Arabs and Muslims are also grateful. The chorus of lamentation for Saddam consists of a few isolated figures espousing the bankrupt ideologies of pan-Arabism and Islamism. A Moroccan Islamist tells us that the American presence in Iraq is "a punishment from Allah" for Muslims because of their "weakening faith." But if the toppling of a tyrant is punishment, then I pray that Allah will bring similar punishments on other Arab nations that endure despotic rule.

...

The U.S. and its allies took grave risks and showed exceptional courage in standing up against powers such as France and Russia, and their unwitting allies in the "peace movement," who tried their desperate best to prolong Saddam's rule. We now know that many of those "peaceniks" were actually in the pay of Saddam. Documents seized from the fallen regime are being studied by Iraqis and will expose the professional "peaceniks" everywhere.

The U.S. and its allies should be prepared to take a further risk, and ignore the supposedly disinterested advice of France, Russia and the Arab regimes to salvage the political and social legacy of the dictatorship. Last February, the U.S. and Britain stood firm and insisted that Iraq must be liberated, regardless of whatever anyone might say. Today, they must remain equally firm in asserting that Iraq must be democratized. They should not leave Iraq until they are asked to do so by a freely elected Iraqi regime in Baghdad.

In the meantime, Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin, Kofi Annan and others have no authority to speak on behalf of my people.
Richard Cohen has written one of his, twice a year, decent columns and has decided that Jeanne Kirkpatrick was correct in her 1984 RNC speech.

At the 1984 Republican National Convention, Jeane Kirkpatrick, then the Reagan administration's U.N. delegate, gave a speech on foreign policy that has stuck with me. She blasted the Democratic Party's approach to foreign affairs, repeating the phrase "the blame America first crowd." I hated the speech at the time, but have recently reread it. It has aged better than I have.

Kirkpatrick's mantra -- blame America first -- mostly applied to the Cold War and the United States' attempt to contain and then roll back communism. But the appellation could just as aptly be applied to some of those -- note the modifier "some" -- who opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and almost everything else the United States has done.
...
That same tendency to blame America for the moral shortcomings of others unfortunately permeates the left and the Democratic Party. I wish it were otherwise, but I got the first whiff of it after Sept. 11 when some people reacted to the terrorist attacks here by blaming U.S. policy -- in the Middle East specifically but around the world in general.

Had we not supported Israel, had we not backed the corrupt Saudi monarchy, had we not been buddies with Egypt, had we not been somehow complicit in Third World poverty, had we not developed blue jeans and T-shirts and rock music and premarital sex, the World Trade Center might still be standing and the Pentagon untouched.
...
The same sort of reasoning -- if it can be called that -- surfaced before and during the war with Iraq. Although I supported the war, I could always understand some of the arguments against it. But I could not understand those who said the war was about oil or empire or reconstruction contracts and who seemed to think that Saddam Hussein was the lesser of two evils -- the United States being the greater, of course.

Below the surface of this reasoning seethes a perplexing animosity toward the United States -- not the people but the government and the economic system. Possibly it has its roots in the Great Depression, when capitalism seemed kaput and socialism so promising, and the government an adjunct of moneyed interests. At the same time, of course, governments on all levels -- federal, state and local -- were unabashedly racist.
(via Hoystory)
Shades of the Aristocats: Tinker the Stray Cat Inherits Fortune. (via Electric Venom)
Joe of Attaboy has a small, er, tribute to a Senator I hold in similar esteem: 'The Conscience of the Senate', Robert Byrd.

I fail to understand why this man, who has a record of racist activity and commentary, who filibustered against every major civil rights bill in the Sixties, has fought against the nominations of both Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, and who even played a Confederate general in a recent movie, has managed to be revered as such a statesman during his interminable run in the United States Senate. I doubt you would be able to find a single human being in the history of our nation who has managed to redirect more of the taxpayers money to his state, for the most meaningless projects, while proudly having his name slapped on every one of them.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Thomas Sowell extends his piece on universal healthcare.

Some believe -- contrary to all evidence -- that the government can provide things cheaper, that it can "bring down the cost of health care," for example.

Virtually everything that the government does costs more than when the same thing is done in private industry -- whether it is building housing, running prisons, collecting garbage, or innumerable other things. Why in the world would we imagine that health care would be the exception?

When people talk about the government's bringing down costs, what they really mean is that the government can impose price controls. But bringing down costs is wholly different from not allowing those costs to be paid in full.
Carnival of the Vanities

This weeks Carnival of the Vanities is up. Click on the above link to get to all the bloggy goodness.
Paul Rosenzweig has a very good piece at the Heritage Foundation site on the increasing criminalization of social and economic conduct.

The origin of modern criminal law can be traced to early feudal times. From its inception, the criminal law expressed both a moral and a practical judgment about the societal consequences of certain activity: to be a crime, the law required that an individual must both cause (or attempt to cause) a wrongful injury and do so with some form of malicious intent. Classically, lawyers capture this insight in two principles: in order to be a crime there must be both an actus reus (a bad act) and a culpable mens rea (a guilty mind). At its roots, the criminal law did not punish merely bad thoughts (intentions to act without any evil deed) or acts that achieved unwittingly wrongful ends but without the intent to do so. The former were for resolution by ecclesiastical authorities and the latter were for amelioration in the tort system. In America today, this classical understanding of criminal law no longer holds.

The requirement of an actual act of some form is fundamental. As an initial premise, Anglo-American criminal law does not punish thought. For a crime to have been committed there must, typically, be some act done in furtherance of the criminal purpose. The law has now gone far from that model of liability for an act and, in effect, begun to impose criminal liability for the acts of another based upon failures of supervision that are far different from the common law's historical understanding.

Similarly, the law historically has required that before an individual is deemed a criminal he must have acted with an intent to do wrong. Accidents and mistakes are not considered crimes. Yet contemporary criminal law punishes acts of negligence and even acts which are accidental. In the regulatory context, as Justice Potter Stewart has noted, there is, in effect, a standard of near-absolute liability.


Here is a link to the full text of the the essay. The above link is to a summary.
Electronic paper is a little bit closer to reality:

Just 0.012 inch thick, the device developed by researchers at E Ink Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can be flexed without distorting the type and paves the way for electronic newspapers, wearable computer screens and smart identity cards.

"It's the closest thing demonstrated today to electronic paper," Yu Chen, an electrical engineer at E Ink and a visiting scientist at Princeton University in New Jersey, told Reuters.

When it is fully developed e-paper will be able to display black and white and color text using wireless technology.

Buying the daily newspaper will no longer be necessary because with e-paper it will be updated wirelessly or through the Internet.

"In the current form you can already receive images and read books through these displays screens," Chen said but he added the display was still too slow for a video display because of the switching speed of the electronic ink.

The display consists of two components. The front part switches according to electronic signals and the back component is a circuit made of transistors that control each individual pixel that composes the display.
This is a hilarious story:

An Italian prisoner who was given home leave for good behaviour asked to go back to his cell after spending less than a day with his wife.

The 40-year-old was given a 72 hour pass by the governor at Vigevano prison, near Pavia in northern Italy.

But within minutes of meeting his wife they had an argument and he called the prison asking to be taken back inside.

A spokesperson at the jail said: "We got a call from him saying he couldn't stand being with his wife and was it possible to go back to his cell. He said he didn't want to spend another minute with her.

"It was a very unusual request as we normally get inmates asking when they can leave and not if they can come in.

"He was told it was not a problem all he had to do was come back and he would go straight to his cell and within an hour he was at the prison gate."
Bribery at the French oil giant TotalFinaElf. Keep an eye on this scandal, it's very far-reaching and a fine example of how socialism really works. Strange how little news there is about this trial in the U.S. press.
A man who was arrested swinging his sister-in-law's severed head said that he had been provoked. Police suspect they had been having an affair and she wanted to end it, which kind of makes text messaging breakups seem that much more attractive.

On a side note, I feel like sharing a truly tasteless joke which will probably offend, but as I am the brash one and, according to Dante's Inferno Hell test, am already destined to be relegated to the 8th level of hell, I'll share it anyway:

What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?
Nothing. You already told her twice.
HOW TO SING THE BLUES

1. Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning."

2. " I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, 'less you stick something nasty in the next line, like " I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes ... sort of: "Got a good woman - with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher - and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The Blues are not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in ditch; ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys and Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft an' state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, " adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in St. Paul or Tucson is just depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cuz you skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg cuz an alligator be chomping on it is.

9. You can't have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues:
a. highway
b. jailhouse
c. empty bed
d. bottom of a whiskey glass

Bad places:
a. Ashrams
b. gallery openings
c. Ivy League institutions
d. golf courses

11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old ethnic person, and you slept in it.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:
a. you're older than dirt
b. you're blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis
d. you can't be satisfied

No, if:
a. you have all your teeth
b. you were once blind but now can see
c. the man in Memphis lived.
d. you have a retirement plan or trust fund.

13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Gary Coleman could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.

14. If you ask for water and Baby give you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
a. wine
b. whiskey or bourbon
c. muddy water
d. black coffee

The following are NOT Blues beverages:
a. mixed drinks
b. kosher wine
c. Snapple
d. sparkling water

15. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse, and dying lonely on a broken down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or getting liposuction.

16. Some Blues names for women:
a. Sadie
b. Big Mama
c. Bessie
d. Fat River Dumpling

17. Some Blues names for men:
a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie

18. Persons with names like Sierra, Sequoia, Auburn, and Rainbow can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

19. Make your own Blues name (starter kit):
a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi,etc.)
c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
For example, Blind Lime Jefferson, or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

20. I don't care how tragic your life: you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues. You best destroy it. Fire, a spilled bottle of Mad Dog, or get out a shotgun. Maybe your big woman just done sat on it. I don't care.

(Note this is not original, it's been floating around the 'net for years with numerous variations. I just felt like posting it today)
Magazine icon predicts dot-com resurgence
Tony Perkins has been at the forefront of Silicon Valley's technology industry for the past 15 years. Through his work at Silicon Valley Bank and as a co-founder of the now-defunct Red Herring magazine, Perkins has consistently ridden the crest of each technology wave that washed across the valley. His current project is a dot-com startup he funded with $50,000 of his own money. Called AlwaysOn LLC, it is a Web-based hybrid of business reporting and online journals popularly called "blogs" that he predicts will turn traditional media on its ear.

Good on you, mate!

This sounds like something from the Onion, but it isn't (via Instapundit):

Canadian soldiers are back in Afghanistan, but this time, they don't have any weapons to help protect them. In Ottawa's rush to put Canadian troops on the ground, 25 elite Canadian soldiers arrived in Afghanistan only to find that they are not allowed to carry guns. What makes the situation particularly embarrassing is that the troops have been assigned German bodyguards to protect them.
Oh look, Berkeley's Middle East Studies program gets funding from people linked to terrorism. What a shocker.
If anyone can figure out the point of Dowd's column today please let me know.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Apparently the Iraqi National Museum emptied it's display cases before the war started and hid the items for safe keeping. Most of the items that were looted were in the basement storage rooms where they kept more commonplace items. So much for cultural disaster. The anti-US left is going to have to find something else to whine about.
Michael Barone has a very perceptive piece in US News & World about the differences between "Soft" America and "Hard" America and the differences between 18 year olds and 30 year olds (Hint: the differences are related).

One of the peculiar features of our country is that we produce incompetent 18-year-olds and remarkably competent 30-year-olds. Americans at 18 typically score lower on standardized tests than 18-year-olds from other advanced countries. Watch them on their first few days working at McDonald's or behind the counter in chain drugstores, and it's obvious that they don't really know how to make change or keep the line moving. But by the time Americans are 30, they are the most competent people in the world. They produce a stronger and more vibrant private-sector economy; they produce scientific and technical advances that lead the world; they provide the world's best medical care; they create the strongest and most agile military the world has ever seen. And it's not just a few meritocrats at the top: American talent runs wide and deep.

Why? Because from the age of 6 to 18, our kids live mostly in what I call Soft America--the part of our society where there is little competition and accountability. In contrast, most Americans in the 12 years between ages 18 and 30 live mostly in Hard America--the part of American life subject to competition and accountability; the military trains under live fire. Soft America seeks to instill self-esteem. Hard America plays for keeps.
(via PowerLine)
The Indiana Jones trilogy is finally coming to DVD! Finally. It took them long enough, though of course there won't be a director's commentary track. How annoying. I never understood why neither it nor the original Star Wars trilogy has been available on DVD. Maybe Lucas and Spielberg feel they are rich enough that they don't have to care about their fans.
A German nightclub has started using naked female bouncers as a way to increase patronage and reduce violence (as it seems to put people in a better mood). Between this and Sushi ala Jungfrau, I think the Germans are onto something.
For those folks out there who think hydrogen-based energy is some distant pipedream of a few wacked-out tech heads, check out this story.

And yes, in case you were wondering, I'm long Icelandic real estate. I have been for a few years now.
Thanks to the Bill Bennett gambling "scandal" this bit of dialogue from the Simpsons has been floating around the Blogosphere (like here):

Homer: You know, Marge, for the first time in our marriage I can finally look down my nose at you. You have a gambling problem!
Marge: That's true. Will you forgive me?
Homer: Oh, sure. Remember when I got caught stealing all those watches from Sears?
Marge: Hmm.
Homer: Well, that's nothing, because you have a gambling problem! And remember when I let that escaped lunatic in the house 'cause he was dressed like Santa Claus?
Marge: Hmm.
Homer: Well you have a gambling problem!
Marge: Homer, when you forgive someone, you can't throw it back at them like that.
Homer: Aw, what a gyp.

Amish Tech Support has a nice rant today on Lileks' bashing of people who call into radio stations and begin by saying "long time listener, first time caller":

I listen to a lot of call radio, and I say cut the callers some slack, guys.

After many attempts and lots of busy signals over a week, a month, a year... these folks finally get through. They're excited about talking to the person they thing of as a celebrity. Sure, in real life, like all of us these talk radio people put their pants on one leg at a time and snort his cocaine off the fine tanned ass of a supermodel one line at a time, but the radio and television and silver screen weave a spell on the... fans? Followers? Disciples? Dittoheads?

I've even called into Chris Baker's show a few times here in Houston. The screener quickly asks you what your call's about, kicks or queues you, and you're on hold for a lifetime and a half. I tend to write down what I'm going to say, a bullet point or three, even though that every host stops a caller after a sentence or two in a manner that they claim isn't rude or interfering with a person's argument but always is.

Sure no one cares about “long-time listener, first-time caller” but it's an expression of loyalty by the caller-fan. It's like someone saying "I'm your biggest fan" or "I've seen all your movies" or praising the traffic girl's latest pictures on the web site or whatever you say when you see a celebrity on the street and weigh the desire to thank them for their making your meaningless life slightly less dull while not wanting to impede them going about their business.

Okay, so this doesn't apply in every situation. It would sound silly if some Shi'ite faithful were to stand up during Question-and-Fatwah time at the end of Ayatollah Al-Longbeard Mohammed's sermon and say "First time questioner, long time follower."

The thing that's completely unnecessary that callers say on air is "How are you doing?" or "How's it going?" to the host. Like the host's going to say anything but "Fine" or "Grat" or "My balls have a strange orange rash and the doctor can't see me until Thursday." Long-time listeners of local talk host Chris Baker just say "Yahoo, Chris!" which cuts through all the crap and autoclitics and gets to the argument or point they want to make.
It seems that reducing "green house" gases is not going as well as the Europeans had promised. The EU's promotion of Kyoto is typical good time plastic banana blame game. The Russians it now seems are in favor of a warmer planet. It all seems like another Monty Python skit. Professor Stott has it right.

The prominent UK global warming sceptic Professor Philip Stott commented: "One of the most galling things about the whole climate change debate has been European duplicity.

"While lecturing everybody else, especially America, on the morality of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it has been abundantly clear from the start that most European countries didn't have a snowflake in hell's chance of meeting their own Kyoto targets."


Looks like the French gave fleeing Iraqi's passports in order to allow them to escape to Europe. I think it's obvious by now that they are not our friends.
What shape is a proton? The answer (or lack of it) in todays NYT:

"It's not a well-defined question," said Dr. Robert L. Jaffe, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In the realm of the subatomic, shape is not a straightforward concept. At the very least, a new theory suggests, a proton, a basic constituent of atoms, may not be as simply round as physicists once thought and as drawn in textbooks.


Next week the NYT revisits the question of how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Strange Brew
An Alitalia pilot, after he landed the plane in Tel Aviv, said "Welcome to Palestine" over the intercom. What is most upsetting is that he did this on Israel's memorial day where they commemorate the tens of thousands who died for the only Jewish state in the world. Classless European anti-semites.
Thomas Sowell takes on universal health care and defends, *gasp*, profits.

If there was one defining moment in the debates among an already crowded field of Democrats seeking their party's presidential nomination in 2004, it may well have been when Congressman Dennis Kucinich, pushing for government-provided health care, spoke with obvious disgust of the "profits" of the insurance companies and provoked a burst of spontaneous applause from like-minded members of the audience.

Insurance companies, like every other kind of institution, have to earn money in order to keep functioning. So does every individual who was not born rich. But some people react to the word "profit" with automatic responses, like Pavlov's dog.

Such prejudice against a word was far more common half a century ago than it is today. Congressman Kucinich may think of himself as a "progressive," but he is in fact a throwback to a bygone era.
Here is a pretty funny satirical piece which seems to do a good job on what Chomsky would say about The Lord of the Rings (via Andrew Sullivan). Here is a representative passage:

Chomsky: We should examine carefully what's being established here in the prologue. For one, the point is clearly made that the "master ring," the so-called "one ring to rule them all," is actually a rather elaborate justification for preemptive war on Mordor.

Zinn: I think that's correct. Tolkien makes no attempt to hide the fact that rings are wielded by every other ethnic enclave in Middle Earth. The Dwarves have seven rings, the Elves have three. The race of Man has nine rings, for God's sake. There are at least 19 rings floating around out there in Middle Earth, and yet Sauron's ring is supposedly so terrible that no one can be allowed to wield it. Why?

Chomsky: Notice too that the "war" being waged here is, evidently, in the land of Mordor itself — at the very base of Mount Doom. These terrible armies of Sauron, these dreadful demonized Orcs, have not proved very successful at conquering the neighboring realms — if that is even what Sauron was seeking to do. It seems fairly far-fetched.

CotV Reminder

We are still accepting entries for this weeks Carnival of the Vanities until tomorrow morning, so get any entries you want to submit to us at commonsensewonder-at-yahoo-dot-com.
Berkeley is suspending the enrollment of students from SARS affected regions for it's summer session. Several hundred students from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are being turned away from the University. There are a total of 4,280 cases in China out of a population of 1.284 billion people meaning that 0.0003% of the population has been infected. Hong Kong on a percentage basis has been much more severely hurt by SARS with 1,637 cases out of 7.3 million people but even there the infected make up only 0.02% of the popluation. In Singapore there are only 204 cases out of a population of 4.45 million, meaning only 0.004% of the population is infected. And in Taiwan there have been only 116 cases out of 22.5 million, putting the infection rate at 0.0005% of the population. We are talking about percentages that are so small that they are meaningless. When you are talking about a world population of 6 billion, it is easy to make the absolute incidence of a disease look much scarier than it really is. There were 760,000 cases of Leprosy detected in 2001 (which is the most recent year that the WHO has information on), but are we facing a global pandemic? Don't think so. It really saddens me that some students who earned an education are being kept out of such a fine university due to hysteria.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Robert Prather has a post on why animosity toward the Germans has been much more muted than that toward the French.

The first thing to remember with regard to the French, and I've said this several times, is that we haven't been real allies with them for forty years. de Gaulle saw to that. He pulled France out of the military wing of NATO, the primary device for controlling the Soviets at the time, and demanded that all American soldiers leave France. Lyndon Johnson shot back by asking if he meant the dead ones too. In addition, de Gaulle is the author of French suspicion of "the Anglosphere". He claimed, correctly it seems, that England would never be a real European country because of its relationship with America.
...
Why is Germany being treated differently? Well, they mostly deserve to be treated differently. The Schroeder government is certainly a screwy bunch, but prior to that the U.S. has had genuinely good relationship with Germany. In the early 1980's, in an attempt to actually win the Cold War, the U.S. wanted to place intermediate-range missiles in West Germany. Against the popular will the West German government went along. That's the act of a friend and these things are not forgotten.
William Shatner's cover of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds has been voted the worst Beatles cover. It is on his Transformed Man CD from 1968. If you can get your hands on a copy, I would highly recommend it. It also has a cover of Mr. Tambourine Man.
Theodore Dalrymple argues in the London Times that the current climate of cultural and moral relativism and lack of historical perspective helped create the two suicide bombers who born and raised in England.

We do not teach the accomplishments of our civilisation with any kind of confidence. The freedom and prosperity that we enjoy are the result of a long historical development, which has its less than creditable aspects, but also its accomplishments of universal significance. For example, modern science has been, for centuries, the tradition of Western civilisation alone, and Britain has contributed very significantly to that tradition. Had there been no Islam from the 16th century onward, Mankind’s current scientific knowledge would not have been diminished by one jot or tittle. Of course, individual Muslims can make contributions to science: but only if they accept this aspect of our intellectual tradition. Their own tradition, however important it might have been in medieval times, has contributed nothing to science for hundreds of years.

Our liberty, which is intimately linked to our prosperity, arises not only from a long and sometimes violent political process, but also from long, hard and deep philosophical reflection. The Western philosophical tradition, with its openness to inquiry, is unequalled, and we should have no hesitation in saying so. Our literary tradition is similarly glorious, but multiculturalism, with its insistence that there is only difference, no better nor worse, no higher nor lower, accords it no special place.
...
Modern British culture gives them plenty of ammunition for their disdain. Our modern culture, especially in its most popular forms, is now vulgar and shallow and utterly lacking in refinement, grace or beauty. It encourages and even glorifies every form of social pathology; it mistakes libertinism for liberty. From the purely aesthetic point of view, it is hideously ugly and lumpen. It is scarcely surprising that at least some Muslims — indeed, the more reflective among them — turn their back on it.
(via Transterrestrial Musings)
Mark your calendars, May is International Masturbation Month. You can make up your own ways to celebrate.
Thunderstorms are apparently twice as deadly for men as for women. The reason: men are too stupid to go inside when it rains.
Dennis Miller has an op-ed in today's WSJ taking on Norman Mailer's latest screed.

Mr. Mailer was the Father of the Nonfiction Novel and now he can also claim lineage as the distant, addled Third Cousin of the Rational Op-Ed. Studying at the Sorbonne as a young man obviously made a deep impression on him because this thing reads like Jacques Chirac's Dream Journal.
...
Mr. Mailer at one time challenged and provoked. Now he just provokes. Norman Mailer has become Norman Maine, a former matinee idol whom loved ones best keep an eye on, because if this is the best he can now muster, he'll no doubt be walking purposely into the surf off Provincetown any day now. And as Mr. Mailer's prostate gradually supplants his ego as the largest gland in his body, he's going to have to realize, as is the case with all young lions who inevitably morph into Bert Lahr, that his alleged profundities are now being perceived as the early predictors of dementia.

I empathize with Mr. Mailer in one regard, though. Although he's clearly abdicated the lucid throne, it must be hellish for someone who can still arrange words so beautifully--i.e., "the question will keen in pitch"--to wake up every morning and have it slowly dawn on him that he's effectively been rendered totally irrelevant.
Also in Tech Review is a short piece about research at MIT to develop systems to communicate gesture and touch over distance. The first step in much improved virtual sex on the internet. It probably has some other uses too, I just can't think of them right now. (I am, after all, to be banished to the second level of Dante's Inferno).

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have put together a scheme that uses an array of individual actuators, or cilia, that people can push to remotely convey physical sensations.

The scheme involves a pair of devices that look like a row of side-by-side hairbrushes. The devices' felt-tipped bristles are mounted on a rubber sheet, and each bristle is capable moving independently. A combination of magnets and electricity actuate the bristles. When a person moves the bristles on one device the remote device communicates the gesture by mirroring the movements.
MIT Tech Review has an article on the promising new antibiotics, antidotes, and vaccines which have emerged to combat Anthrax.
A senior and highly respected Labor MP has just accused Tony Blair of being "unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers." Unbelievable.
Flynt Leverett outlines steps we should take to get Syria out of the terrorism business in Saturday's NYT.

...But can we change the behavior of a terrorism-sponsoring state like Syria without unseating its regime? Is it possible to reform Syria's posture not through force, but through diplomatic engagement?

The answer is a qualified yes.
...
The success of engagement depends in large measure on Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Assad is not an ideological fanatic like Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban leader, or an incorrigible thug like Saddam Hussein. He is young, educated partly in the West and married to a British-born woman who was once in J.P. Morgan's executive training program. He has also made it clear that Syria needs to modernize, and that its long-term interests would be served by better relations with the United States.


This does seem to be the approach the administration is taking and so far it seems to be working. As this article in yesterdays NYT indicates, Syria has started to close down headquarters of terrorist groups operating in Damascus.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Blossom Time

When I got home from an after-church visit with the girls to the Bronx Botanical Gardens today, much later than expected, John asked me, "What was in bloom?" EVERYTHING!

The tulips are at peak, but the daffodils and narcissus are still visible, as are the cherry blossoms. The flowering crab apples and the lilacs perfume the air. Only the azaleas are hold outs, but should be at peak in a couple of weeks. After oooing and ahhing over the tulips ("Put that on our list!") the girls whiled away nearly three idealic hours in the Family Garden. Watering the plants, playing in the little-girl sized bird house, painting, digging, and rolling oversized Tyco diggers and dump trucks in the dark earth ("Mama, I want this backhoe. So my Barbies can drive it") occupied the girls completely. I sat and dreamed. Aside from not having John with me, it was the perfect Sunday afternoon.
Someone has finally outdone Lilek's 404 page. (via IpseDixit)