Friday, April 29, 2005

Extending Infancy

This was a fun read. I found his, shall we say, somewhat overly enthusiastic description of the Marines a bit off-putting, but I enjoyed the thrust of his arguments (had to). It's hardly a new concept, that we're accepting of people as adults as long as it serves our purpose, but they suddenly become wee small children when our purposes change. I fondly remember when the "18 children a day die from gunshots" was so popular. Children, that is, 19 and under. Huh. I thought 18 was the age of legal adulthood? When someone called one of the representatives of Hand Control Inc (now the Brady Center) on this, she said, "Well, they're somebody's children." But really, this is just going back to the victimization of everybody. Oh wait, everybody except heterosexual, anglo-saxon males. Everybody else is a victim. Those guys are evil.

Another Creative Firearms Law in California

H/T to Ravenwood's Universe.
Sacramento -- Legislation that would require handgun ammunition to carry identifying markings that could be used to trace spent rounds at crime scenes back to the person who purchased the bullets passed out of a state Senate committee Tuesday.

Makes you wonder how they will enforce this. I mean, no other state requires this. And no one ever carries ammo across state lines.

What are they going to use for the "identifying marking?" Serial number? That will be interesting. Imagine the job of etching little 8 digit serial numbers on the cartridge and the projectile.


America's Best and Brightest

Calling these two morons stupid would be an insult to truly stupid people.

I can't discuss this. I think these two are subjects for selective castration to ensure that the species gets more intelligent.

Of course, they may be innocent, yeah right.

Exploding Toads

Saw this at Professor Bainbridge.

Quite odd, and not meant as humor (though it is funny in a sick sort of way).

I'll be avoiding toads for a while.

So Much Better Then That Sissy Boxing

Comic series 'Get Fuzzy' is going into a bit on the UFC.

Actually quite funny. Hit the next link and see today's also.

Extinct, or Maybe Not

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker has been thought extinct for the past 60 years. Recently seen in Arkansas, that bastion of bird watching. How could people miss this rather large and gaudy bird? Maybe they needed glasses? Or maybe bird watching isn't the biggest of hobbies in the mid-west?

The End is Nigh, Nigh I Say

I was a bit surprised it took this long for the doom sayers to get into the MSM. Well, I imagine it took a little time for the crackpot to come to a boil.

It's worth a laugh in any case.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Terrorism Report

Here is some more on the report formerly known as "Patterns of Global Terrorism." The linked article has some interesting information.
Waxman called for Rice reconsider her decision to withhold the statistical part of the report.

The State Department had to revise its 2003 report because it had underreported the number of attacks. (Full Story)

Members of Congress and the public found the errors, Waxman wrote, "only because the underlying data on terrorist attacks was available for scrutiny."

"In effect, your decision to withhold the data this year eliminates this vital check on the veracity of the administration's claims," Waxman wrote.
That is a very good point. And he was responded to in saying that the stats would be released in June. But why the wait? It sounds a bit fishy, but as long as they get released the scrutiny will get done.

Waxman is off on this though.
Waxman also complained that the 2004 numbers could be "a significant underestimate." Many incidents "that most Americans would regard as terrorist attacks" were not reported because they didn't meet "the strict State Department definitions of an international" event, including insurgent attacks resulting in only Iraqi fatalities.

Brennan said that terrorist attacks by perpetrators against people of their own nationality were not part of the current statistics, but would be included in the future.
What is the State Department supposed to do? Take a poll to see what Americans feel a terrorist attack is? Or should they make a decision in house to define what they mean by "terrorist attack" publish that definition and use it in the report? I don't like the tact of changing the report from year to year. It makes comparisons very difficult, and makes trending near impossible.

They should also have separate entries for domestic terrorism and international terrorism. In many cases, domestic terrorism never leaves the country, and for that reason should be viewed as a separate information point.

I didn't get any real information from this article on why the threat to the US was still considered High from terrorists. I suppose the report gives some details there. Sigh. Guess reading it is the only way to find out.

Meteor Shower

Remember the good old days when a meteor shower would bring out the UFO nuts? Well, now a whole different class of whacko has surfaced.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pinnacles of Near Perfect Ignorance

Sometimes you just have to love Rumsfeld's answers.

Some analysts and lawmakers have suggested that recruiting shortfalls and large deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan may force the United States to consider reviving the draft, abolished in 1973.

"I think the only people who could conceivably be talking about a draft are people who are speaking from pinnacles of near-perfect ignorance. The last thing we need is a draft -- we just don't," Rumsfeld added.

The rest of the article is about the nuclear bunker buster. Clearly this is a poor idea. A sufficiently small nuclear device, similar to the "Atomic Annie" artillery shell, would only be contained by the depths that this missile would not likely punch too. There are plenty or articles discussing this online. (Though the articles here and here are quite good.) The depths estimated in one of the articles for max missile penetration top out around 20m. The depth to contain a small nuke is about 600m.

Algore Sputtering Again

When is he going to just STFU? I think his little tin beany is on too tight.

This rhetoric is just a waste of everyone's time:

"What makes it so dangerous for our country is their willingness to do serious damage to our American democracy in order to satisfy their lust for one-party domination of all three branches of government," Gore said of the GOP in a speech. "They seek nothing less than absolute power."

Why is it that when the rethugs are in power the demosprats have to scream about 'absolute power?' Is that same argument ever used when the demosprats are in power? I can't recall. I did a search and nothing came up that wasn't a quote of a demosprat.

Read the article, there are some really precious quotes.

Military Death Notification Hoax

This is just sick.
I'll put it even more precisely.
If this happened to me, I would eviscerate this person.
While he/she was conscious.

Matter of fact, I'd be tempted to do it just for chuckles.

Patterns of Global Terrorism Report

Here is the latest report. For some reason they decided to rename it. Now it's "Country Reports on Terrorism."

This one is always a bit painful to go through.

A New Academic Witch-Hunt

Now, take a second, and guess which political group member is being attacked in academia.
Think hard.

Yeah, you got it. A Republican/Conservative.

Front Page magazine article here goes into nauseating detail on those involved and their standing.

Here's the lead in:

On April 11, Jonathan Bean, a professor of history at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC), received the college’s “Outstanding Teacher Award.” But just two days later, Bean became the scourge of the campus, abandoned by teaching assistants and vilified as a purveyor of “racist propaganda.”

And here is the original article about the book on that the extreme left historians at this university are vilifying Bean about.

Wonderful mix. I've looked at the article and I can't see how this could be considered racist. Unless like Ryan states, that calling a black a racist, even if accurate, is itself a racist act.

To bad Professor Jonathan Bean wasn't more like Judge Roy Bean.

Glock 18

I didn't think I'd ever say this, but here is a 9mm that actually looks like you could put someone down with it.

Reason: Fully Automatic. 17 rounds in less than a second.

Go to the video link at this Strategy Page article.

Oh, I must admit the guy firing the gun must have a lot of practice. He hits the target quite well.

The Future: A Culture of Brats

I've seen a few articles lately about this topic. I'm just getting the idea that when I'm an old man, I'll need to carry a gun all of the time. The reason, children and the huge lack of discipline out in the world today. I'm sorry, but I don't believe that the PC concepts are working. Matter of fact, they appear to me to be failing miserably.

Some legislation that appears to be looking in the right direction is the Tennessee Bullying Law. It looks to be that they are at least trying something. Maybe someone has finally come to the conclusion that the killers at Columbine and Red Lake had a reason for cracking. But of course we all know that guns were the problem there, not that someone bullied the killers into an emotional Hell.

Also look at the level of threats of school shootings that have been occurring. This, this, this, are from a google search on "school shooting" for today's news. I didn't list all that I found. No doubt most of these news reports don't show anything that would likely turn into real incidents, but the fact that these threats are occurring indicates a problem.

Junk Science, The CDC's BMI Data

Another lovely article pointing out that the information used by the CDC is actually completely wrong.

I don't understand what is going on here. Isn't the CDC supposed to be a scientific organization that works for the public welfare? This almost leads one to believe that they work for the fashion police.

What Does Apple Have to Hide?

This all sounds very suspicious. Why is Apple trying to censor this publisher. There is no reason given why Job and his company should be flipping out about this book. By pulling all books by the publisher from Apple store shelves, they just give free, and excellent, advertisement to the book.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

More on Best Buy

They're talking about the Lileks' rant on Best Buy over at VodkaPundit. As usual on the Best Buy stories, the comments are worth the read as much as the story. Clearly, there is a huge swath of the population, at least in the blogosphere, that is none too thrilled with Best Buy.

No More Need for White Liberal Guilt?

Very interesting piece talking about how the disparities in black vs. white achievements in the US are not due to race and racism but culture. The author looks back to the differences among Northern and Southern whites in pre-Civil War culture.

The North had four times as many schools as the South, attended by more than four times as many students. Children in Massachusetts spent more than twice as many years in school as children in Virginia. Such disparities obviously produce other disparities. Northern newspapers had more than four times the circulation of Southern newspapers. Only 8% of the patents issued in 1851 went to Southerners. Even though agriculture was the principal economic activity of the antebellum South at the time, the vast majority of the patents for agricultural inventions went to Northerners. Even the cotton gin was invented by a Northerner.

Disparities between Southern whites and Northern whites extended across the board from rates of violence to rates of illegitimacy. American writers from both the antebellum South and the North commented on the great differences between the white people in the two regions. So did famed French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville.

He makes the case that the cultural differences are traceable back to the Brits who settled this country, and continue up through WWI. Very good points, which I think make far more sense than the racism argument, and I thought this piece dovetailed nicely with this article

about Bill Cosby, family culture, and academic success.

Sgrena Checkpoint Incident Not US Forces Fault

I'm not surprised by this finding since it was reported a few weeks ago that this was the finding. Apparently Sgrena is appalled.

Sgrena reacted strongly to the reported findings of the U.S. military investigation.

"It is worse that I thought," she said. "Now they're saying it is not their fault."

I really want to see the report.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Akbar and a pattern of violence

OK. I realize I'm not the brightest bulb in the box, but, during a sentencing phase, when a pattern of violence is being established, why on earth would a judge do this:

the military judge overseeing the case said he would not allow prosecutors to introduce evidence of a fight Akbar had with a military police officer in the court building last month. Akbar secreted a weapon in an office and stabbed the MP in the neck while in the restroom, but the judge said that "opportunistic stabbing" didn't show a pattern of violence.

Really? I guess my feeble understanding of words like pattern and opportunistic needs updating. I thought pattern was something like, you know, repeating facts and/or actions like, you know, maybe a guy that would hide a knife and then attack someone in a bathroom as well as toss grenades into tents is, you know establishing a pattern. While I'll grant the judge, I'm sure the acquisition of the knife may have been "opportunistic" (we don't have any facts on this, so let's go with it), the fact that the guy hid the knife and then used it later, certainly strikes me as premeditated, not simply, oh look, I've got a knife in my hand maybe I'll use it, what an opportunity.

Bottomless Well

I saw one of the authors speak on C-Span's Book TV (a very valuable resource) yesterday. It was endlessly fascinating. The history of economics and science and politics all combined together in a discussion of energy and energy policy. It was just amazing. It's not exactly the kind of full-length book I would normally chase down, but this one might make my reading list. I'm trying to track down a transcript.

I tried to find a transcript and instead found this freaked out reaction to the guy (including an accusation that he never graduated high school)

And this, much more thoroughly thought out critique:

Liberals and the Constitution

Found this article linked at GeekWithA.45.

Some interesting information from John Hindraker of Powerline on a conference at Yale Law school. Definitely some thing to be worried about. Get these things that they want forced into the constitution, but by using the judiciary to interpret into the constitution.
From Sunstein:

* With growth and change, political rights enshrined in Constitution are inadequate.

* Need economic bill of rights. Ingredients of Second Bill of Rights--Only with these rights will we have security.

* Long tradition of American political thought--states owe to every citizen a degree of subsistence. Second Bill of Rights made possible by attack on distinction between negative and positive rights. Effort to separate them is unfit for the American legal framework.

* Roosevelt . . . did not favor return to narrowly construed judgments of those who drafted the Constitution.

* By 2020, it's going to be about time for the Second Bill of Rights to be reclaimed. . . . Beauty of Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights is its concreteness--right to education, etc.

From Ackerman:

* Task of every generation is to create institutional structures which express fundamental liberal commitments.

* [We need to] add "citizenship agenda" to Roosevelt's vision.

* Economic citizenship--stakeholder society in which every young adult gets a form of citizenship inheritance of $80,000, funded by a wealth tax . . .

* Vision here is a citizenship agenda . . . preliminary to rehabilitation of privileges of 14th Amendment which have never been redeemed.

* Idea of a national citizenship is powerful and underdeveloped legal resource . . . .concept that national citizenship has privileges--we need to make this a reality--cure disenfranchisement for felons.
So if they have their way, I don't need to do anything any more. I should just expect a good job and money from the government. No need to earn it.

Go read the rest yourself.

Another Reason not to Shop at Best Buy

This one is from GeekWithA.45.

I've pretty much stopped trying to fight companies on this information. I just generally give them obviously incorrect information. I also ensure that the information is just for their records before I will give them the false information. Though I usually will try just refusing to give them the information first. It is a benefit of paying with cash.

And there is the lesson about not dealing with shitty companies.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

NYT on the assault Weapons Ban

H/T to the Instapundit.

Wasn't the Violence Policy Center one of the groups pushing the ban?

"The whole time that the American public thought there was an assault weapons ban, there never really was one," said Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control group.

Then there is this confusing little set of statements:

What's more, law enforcement officials say that military-style weapons, which were never used in many gun crimes but did enjoy some vogue in the years before the ban took effect, seem to have gone out of style in criminal circles.

"Back in the early 90's, criminals wanted those Rambo-type weapons they could brandish," said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. "Today they are much happier with a 9-millimeter handgun they can stick in their belt."

Apparently the law enforcement official and the Fraternal order of Police don't speak to each other.

There also was not major spike in "assault weapon" sales when the law passed on. There was a slight spike, but that's it. So much of the screams of the gun grabbers about the streets being flooded by assault weapons.

Of course Dianne I-can-carry-a-gun-but-you-shouldn't-be-allowed-to-own-one Feinstein had this to say.

"In my view, the assault weapons legislation was working," said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, a chief sponsor of the new bill. "It was drying up supply and driving up prices. The number of those guns used in crimes dropped because they were less available."

Nothing to support that, but why would we expect her to actually use facts? Did prices really go up? I don't think so. Especially considering that most of the weapons on the list had so many guns without all the cosmetic that made them scary and bad.

Assault weapons account for a small fraction of gun crimes: about 2 percent, according to most studies, and no more than 8 percent. But they have been used in many high-profile shooting sprees. The snipers in the 2002 Washington-area shootings, for instance, used semiautomatic assault rifles that were copycat versions of banned carbines.

I had to add this statement because it is just such irrelevant rubbish. The Washington-area snipers could have used a bolt action rifle to perform the killings they did. The fact that the gun was a copy of a banned carbine is totally irrelevant to the actions of these murderers. Remember that most of the killings were one-shot-one-kill types. But hey, why use any intelligence in reporting when you can still report emotionally while adding irrelevant information to an article?

They still are screeching about large capacity magazines though. Well, as long as all they are doing is making noise, I can live with it. Unfortunately, there are four states who have laws based on the assault weapons ban. Amazing that you can put in local legislation based on a law that didn't work in the first place.

Old Magazines

See, those old magazines you keep are worth something.

China and Japan Tiff

This is a rather odd situation. Japan has been vilifying China (rightly) for it's Taiwan policy. Now China is vilifying how Japan teaches history to its children. In action, Chinese citizens are destroying "Japanese" businesses in China. (Only problem there is that they are Japanese style facilities owned by Chinese citizens. How clever.)

Makes you wonder why they are so very upset. If it hadn't been for the Japanese, the present government may not have ever come to be. The Japanese were monsters during WWII, no argument there, but that was all finished quite a while ago. It would almost be like America being upset about Germany changing their text books to lessen the atrocities that they committed. (They have already changed the texts, just the Allies didn't start destroying German companies in their countries.)

It's obvious that Japan sees that they have a lot to lose from problems with China, but China doesn't seem to see that they will lose quite a lot themselves.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Illusion of Victory


This was a fantastic read. His coverage of the war, as a set of battles, etc., was just about non-existent, which makes it radically different than most books I read on the topic. Instead, the focus was on the press and politics taking place in America during the war. While I did know certain facts, the IWW (Wobblies) suppression, conflicts between TR & Wilson, punishing reparations, etc., the detail around how those things came about and the ripple effects from them is amazing stuff. People sometimes ask why I read history, books like this are the reason. I should say a couple of critical things about the book. The one that comes to mind immediately is that the writer seems to evidence a very anti-military stance. Yes he's got the obligatory "support the troops" mentality, but he denigrates the military frequently in the book and, with the exception of some entries in the summary chapter, plays down our military successes. This doesn't seriously detract from the overall magnificent writing and tone of the book. The geekwife, whom I've forced to listen to excerpts, and I are still chuckling over "May Edith Galt Wilson burn in hell" from Tumulty that the author found written in the margins of memo's stored in the National Archives.

Next up Geoffrey Wawro's (which all good WWI geeks know was one of the contributing factors to the war). Still working on Soul of Battle. Since I've had this virus off & on for the last three weeks I've gotten more reading done, but fewer workouts. Brain expands, but muscles shrink. Must reestablish balance.


Interesting and informative as always.

Hanson has been embraced by the right, although I seriously doubt he supports more than half of someone like Anne Coulter's agenda. Is there someone bringing a similar type of intellect to the issues that has been embraced by the left? Don't use the name Eric Alterman or I'll be forced to slap you about the face and neck. Anyone?

Are Bloggers Journalists?

My answer to this question is, who cares. The text of the first amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I guess the writer of the article is trying to differentiate between speech and press. He seems to be making a mistake in equating reporters with the press when clearly, he even talks about it, the writers of the amendment simply meant printing presses. It's just weird because while trying to force people like Instapundit into the reporter role, something Instapundit has denied on multiple occasions, he sort of defends them in this role. The simple fact of the matter is the two applicable clauses that allow bloggers the protection of the first amendment have nothing to do with whether or not we're journalists: Congress shall make now law... abridging the freedom of speech. No where does it say "for journalists or those that can be shoe horned into this category." Again, the writer agrees that bloggers deserve first amendment protection, but he does it for really weird reasons. Further, it kind of implies that other people, that are not "journalists/bloggers" may not actually have the same protections. It's just odd.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Paul Martin & Oil For Food

HOLY S***!

There is no possible way to construe this in any way that is good. The Canadian government is looking to be as corrupt, if not more so, as France. Why didn't France, Canada, German, Russia, and the UN want us to attack Sadam Hussein again? Oh yeah, because there were making so much money.

From Instapundit.

Max Boot

Max Boot is at the LA Times. I didn't know he was writing for any papers lately. Found the link at QandO blog.

I like Boot's writing. There are some pretty interesting pieces at the link.


George Will op-ed. Fairly worrisome collection of people padding every sharp corner in life.

Does this all make society better. Not a chance. You just end up with a bunch of over-sensitive fools that will never be able to get anywhere in the real world without tripping constantly over their emotions.

Hmmm. Looks like I'm on a theme here today.

Another "Survey"

Here's another survey based on, you guessed it, FEELINGS.

After reading the linked article, I found it a bit mushier than most. Not to say that Blacks and Hispanics don't feel unwelcome, which I'm certain is true, but that the wording is very very broad.
Eighty percent of African Americans and half of Hispanics in our poll say that racial discrimination in Metro Boston is a somewhat or very serious problem.
"Somewhat or very" is a very vague statement.

I'll also show a touch of derision here for Harvard. Surprise, they made another survey on how unfair life is. Another precious study on how some people feel bad some of the time. I'm willing to bet that most people studied aren't that bothered by the whole thing.

Boston is a fairly pale town indeed. I don't see why people are getting upset that Blacks and Hispanics feel unwelcome. I'm quite certain that my ancestors when they arrived in New England felt just as unwelcome. I'm also sure that my Irish ancestors felt unwelcomed, not to mention directly and physically threatened when they arrived in the US.

My point. All groups have had that feeling. All groups are not exactly welcome when they are a micro-minority in an area. People don't like change, and having new ethnic groups move into a neighborhood is seen as threatening. At least you don't have to worry about organized violence like many of our ancestors did.

I'll also point to Indian and Pakistani immigrants, among many others that have charged into the area and have had few issues. Did anyone ask how they felt? I doubt it. I'll wager they weren't comfortable at first either.

The end result, IMAO, is that this study is nice and all, but nothing to get upset or worried about. If they feel unwelcome, well, life isn't a padded cell, there are sharp edges everywhere, get used to it.

Armenian Genocide

I'm not sure why the Germans desire the Turks to come out and take the blame for this. I personally do believe that the Ottomans/post WW1 Turks did intentionally act to purge the Armenians. I don't know how anyone can, from a non-partisan position, think that this wasn't an attempt at genocide. Estimates of 1.5 million deaths, many which were directly attributed to the Turks in the forms of massacres, strike me as telling.

The Germans state:
"We don't want to want to put the Turkish government on trial," CDU representative Christoph Bergner said. Instead, the goal is to "invite our Turkish friends and partners" to come to terms with the past.
And the Turks:
But Turkey's ambassador to Germany, Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik, condemned the planned resolution as containing "countless factual errors" and said it was being written "in agreement with propaganda efforts of fanatic Armenians."
Is this topic being used to keep Turkey out of the EU? If not directly, it definitely appears to sour what already is an obvious reticence on the part of many EU countries to have Turkey join.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


'Nough said.

Although, I listen to it every day. I honestly try to understand what people who are against the war on terror, in favor of higher taxes, support more direct governmental control of every aspect of life (except sex), want to expand the welfare state instead of fixing it, actually think. Sometimes, it's painful. I think they hit it quite well with this little article.

Boston Globe and the Seals

I had no idea that the paper knew the reporter wasn't on location but ran the story anyway. Holy smokes. Can't wait to use this one on my Mother-In-Law (aka: "If It's In the Globe It's True. If It's Not In The Globe, It Didn't Happen." I generally use her name since her nickname is kind of long).

Peace, Love and Understanding, Islamic Style

Great article about the response of radical Islamic Britains to people who are actually actively supporting them. Does anyone really, truly, believe that all cultures are equal and that all cultures will result in equal outcomes given equal opportunity? Let's face it, some cultures are fundamentally flawed. This Wahabi version of Islam is not a viable option for a pluralistic society and can't be treated like it actually might be.

France Supports China

As near as I can tell, France has spent the last thousand years making life hell for as much of the world as it could. Yes, they supported us in our revolution, but that was just in order to assist them in making hell for Great Britain. Reading about their behavior (and GB's, Italy's, Japan's) during the peace negotiations after WWI (almost done with Illusion of Victory) then to follow that up by this little bit of information, not much has changed. I'm pretty much of the opinion that the next time anyone is interested in taking over France, up to, and including, Osama Bin Ladin, we let them have it. It's not like they would be worse allies to us or bigger enemies to freedom and fairness in the world than France is currently. Wankers.

Oh, and got this from Instapundit.

UPDATE: May as well add more thoughts from others on this one. It's too messed up. I went and did more research on the relationship because it's too, too wrong.

Joint military operations last year. I wonder if the French brought out their Aircraft Carrier (snicker)

Oh, and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is lovely.
French Ties

More if I find anything worth sharing.


More. I want one of these t-shirts. I think the screw into the French flag.
Cafe Press

London Violent Crime Still on the Rise

Apparently up 10% in the last year. But the Politicians have a reason for that:
But ministers also insisted that the apparent increase in violence is due to changes in the way crime is recorded. Labour pointed to evidence from the British Crime Survey (BCS), a giant opinion poll, that violent crime has actually declined. [Emphasis Mine]

I am not a fan of victimization surveys. Though the author of the survey has this to say.

Professor Hough told the Standard: "Police statistics in the Met show a rise in violent crime since 1997.

"But this is almost certainly an artificial rise, caused by large changes in the way the police record crime. The BCS is a better guide to crime trends in London and, according to that, violent crime in London fell in the five years from 1997 - though there are now some signs that the trend is reversing."

Is this an increase that can be associated with police actually accurately reporting crime? Or is the BCS not really an opinion poll? Last I knew the BCS was a vicitmization "survey," which makes me very certain it is based on opinion. I don't understand how an opinion based study can be used to rate the level of crime. How do people's perceptions make for scientific data?

I can't presently find it, but I believe that the reporting of crime in England has changed since 1997. From what I recall they used to report a single crime based on the perpretrator and not based on the number of times he did it. Say a single mugger beat up 5 old ladies, that would have been reported as a single mugging. I'm having troubles finding out exactly when the reporting methods changed, but I'll keep looking.

Here is a site that looks at this Home Office Crime report compared to the BCS.
The answer lies in the difference between two different ways crime can be measured. The BCS is a victimization survey. It is conducted by asking a sample of the population questions about any crimes they might have experienced. The other way crime is measured is being collating crimes reported to the police. Because most crime is not reported to the police, surveys like BCS give a much more accurate estimate of the total number of crimes than police reports.
I'm not certain I totally agree with this. I've seen several analysis of these victimzation surveys and they conclude that generally the surveys over report victimization for various reasons. Usually the over-reporting inaccuracy may be related to the strong emotions of the victim. Under-reports are attributed to embarassment or shame. This is pretty much a simplification of the topic that has a lot of depth. You can find various discussions on the topic fairly easily online.

Overheard Stupidity

Overheard at the gym:
Lady 1: See the new Pope. Named Benedict.
Lady 2: Like Benedict Arnold?
Lady 1: Yeah. Now there is a correlation.

Background sound: Thump Thump Thump
(My head pounding against the exercise machine's control panel.)

Correlation: A causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relationship, especially a structural, functional, or qualitative correspondence between two comparable entities: a correlation between drug abuse and crime.

I'm reconsidering my stand on misanthropy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Senate Committee on Bolton

Anyone catch the hearing yesterday or excerpts on the news?

The mix of reporting out there draws right along political lines. What a shock.

The meeting I saw on the idiot box was one of the most uncivil sets I've seen. John Kerry belittling the republicans as "going into this blind" was just humorous in that, IMAO he is going into this with his head up a certain lower body function orifice. [Yes, I think Kerry is an imbecile.] He then went on to berate the committee when the meeting spun out of control. He helped with that more than he'll ever admit to.

I'll say for the record, I don't like Bolton. He may be what is needed, but having a diplomatic position filled by a person with no obvious control of his temper to people he disagrees with is just stupid. Can we expect him to be banging the table with a shoe if he dislikes how a UN session topic is running? I personally have worked for people like Bolton, and do presently. If any of my bosses pulled the level of abuse I've heard reported on me, he would have had an accident with several flights of stairs. [Because one flight just isn't satisfying enough.]

Ratzinger as Pope

This article essentially has nothing nice to say, but that was what I was looking for. Find some of the hardest comments first, then find the redeeming qualities. The best part is that he lead the Inquisition in 1981. I just got laughing seeing him and Monty Python with the "Comfy Pillows."

After reading a couple of articles from the American MSM I'm pretty sure "Joe the Rat" will be bad for the church in America. I could be wrong, but someone that was an enforcer in the church will not likely be popular here. The church already has been viewed as abusive through all the scandals, I don't see him as being given much of a chance.

Well, at 78 hopefully he won't have time to do much damage.

UPDATE: There is an awful lot of people bashing the pope already. For some reason his being forced into the Hitler youth seems to be central to the problem. The MSM have their knives out already. Guess I was more than right about his not getting a chance.

Hillary Meter

Here's an article from the Geekwife on Hillary. From Jay Cost article on Opinion Journal.

The Opinion Journal article is about not overestimating Hillary in the coming elections. The title link is to a Rasmussen Poll on her popularity and how likely people are to vote for her at this point. Actually pretty humorous.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

F-bomb Counting

Saw this one at Ravenwood's Universe and found it so funny I had to link it here.

TSA Security No Better Than Pre-9/11 Airport Security

Interesting bit I caught on Schneier.

I'll wait for the report before making too many judgments, since the words are coming out of politicos. I just can't be that trusting on their analysis of anything.

Schneier has a good quote from his book on why this shouldn't be a surprise though.
I wrote about it in Beyond Fear (pages 153-4):

No matter how much training they get, airport screeners routinely miss guns and knives packed in carry-on luggage. In part, that's the result of human beings having developed the evolutionary survival skill of pattern matching: the ability to pick out patterns from masses of random visual data. Is that a ripe fruit on that tree? Is that a lion stalking quietly through the grass? We are so good at this that we see patterns in anything, even if they're not really there: faces in inkblots, images in clouds, and trends in graphs of random data. Generating false positives helped us stay alive; maybe that wasn't a lion that your ancestor saw, but it was better to be safe than sorry. Unfortunately, that survival skill also has a failure mode. As talented as we are at detecting patterns in random data, we are equally terrible at detecting exceptions in uniform data. The quality-control inspector at Spacely Sprockets, staring at a production line filled with identical sprockets looking for the one that is different, can't do it. The brain quickly concludes that all the sprockets are the same, so there's no point paying attention. Each new sprocket confirms the pattern. By the time an anomalous sprocket rolls off the assembly line, the brain simply doesn't notice it. This psychological problem has been identified in inspectors of all kinds; people can't remain alert to rare events, so they slip by.

The tendency for humans to view similar items as identical makes it clear why airport X-ray screening is so difficult. Weapons in baggage are rare, and the people studying the X-rays simply lose the ability to see the gun or knife. (And, at least before 9/11, there was enormous pressure to keep the lines moving rather than double-check bags.) Steps have been put in place to try to deal with this problem: requiring the X-ray screeners to take frequent breaks, artificially imposing the image of a weapon onto a normal bag in the screening system as a test, slipping a bag with a weapon into the system so that screeners learn it can happen and must expect it. Unfortunately, the results have not been very good.

This is an area where the eventual solution will be a combination of machine and human intelligence. Machines excel at detecting exceptions in uniform data, so it makes sense to have them do the boring repetitive tasks, eliminating many, many bags while having a human sort out the final details. Think about the sprocket quality-control inspector: If he sees 10,000 negatives, he's going to stop seeing the positives. But if an automatic system shows him only 100 negatives for every positive, there's a greater chance he'll see them.
I have to agree with him fully on that.


WaPo debating (sort of) the new F-22 fighter jet.

The arguments almost lead one to believe that this jet should be stopped now rather than get the technological jump now. They site the bugginess of the new system and maintenance issues primarily. Not really valid arguments for a brand new system.

Then you get interesting quotes like this:
"The Air Force's real strength no longer is the airplanes. The good old days of two incredibly maneuverable planes dogfighting are over and have been overtaken by data links, computers and satellites," said Richard L. Aboulafia, aviation analyst for Teal Group Corp., a research firm. Most potential enemies, including China, don't have tankers, which can refuel fighters in mid-flight, or Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) planes that can detect cruise missiles or enemy fighters, he said.
"The Air Force's real strength no longer is the airplanes." WTF? And then the statement about dogfights is just proving this guy has no concept of history. Some very similar words were said in the times around the Korean war when jets first hit the battle zone in large numbers. Guess what the did a lot of, Dogfights. As for his point on China not having tankers, what difference does that make? Is he trying to make us believe that there is no chance that we would fight against their style of fighters over the enemies own ground? Must be nice having that level of fore knowledge.

If they are so expensive, slow down the roll out while doing the rework to fix problems. That is justified. But letting the obvious leap in technology falter isn't very smart.

And for some reason the commentators make you think that you only have a single choice on how the money is used. Bombers or fighters. Army or Air Force. Well, maybe someone should wake up and look at history. When the US falls behind militarily, sooner or later the country pays for that mistake with lives.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Parenting: Middle Class vs. Poor

Now this is one interesting article. I wasn't going to post it here for a number of reasons, but my doubts about my parenting abilities lately has me thinking on this topic more and more. The basic argument is, it's the nuclear family that best prepares children for two things, success in this country and passing on that ability to the next generation. The author calls it "The Mission." One thing said about it that really stuck with me:

Missionary skeptics also miss another truth. The Mission aims at far more than promoting children’s self-reliance or ensuring that they make the soccer team or get into an impressive college. The Mission’s deepest ideal is the pursuit of happiness. In their minivan runs to swim meets and choir practices, middle-class parents are giving their children a chance to discover their talents, as well as to learn the self-discipline that makes those talents shine. In the best scenario, the project leads not only to satisfying work lives, but to full self-development and self-cultivation.

The Mission aims to pass on to the next generation the rich vision of human possibility inherent in the American project, and to enlist them into passing down that vision to yet another generation, in what sociologists used to call “the reproduction of society.” What goes around, comes around.

It's the "what goes around, comes around" that really struck a chord. Mostly thanks to the Geekwife, we're doing a pretty good job on most of this stuff. I think I'm seeing connections to some of the other issues around parenting as well, certainly the attempts to control children's submerssion in the media environment. Interesting stuff. So while some of my methods may be failing, my goals, and the Geekwife's, are on track: school comes first, self-discipline and responsibility, supporting their efforts in outside activities, reading to them (or even around them), active involvement in making sure they get enough sleep. It does make you feel like you're not going to mess them up too badly.

Lethal Injection May Not Be Painless

Saw this one at BoingBoing.

Not sure I have much to say on this one. Other than "Who Cares?"

Let's keep this simple. They are being killed because they did something especially abhorrent. Rope, Axe, Guillotine, Electric Chair, Gas Chamber. I'm guessing none of these were especially pleasant, but the point is to kill them, not make them feel good.

Guns vs. Doctors

Got this from Vodkapundit. Thought I ought to share.

Of course, as one could point out, this doesn't include the fact that doctor's can also save lives. But then... come on, you know the rest.

Another Unneeded Security Technology

Schneier post on an invention in the UK that allows license plates to be read by a helicopter doing 160 MPH at 2,000 feet. The worst part is this Quote from the original article.

Essex Police Inspector Paul Moor told the Daily Star newspaper: "This is all about denying criminals the use of the road. Using a number plate recognition camera from the air means crooks will have nowhere to hide."
I don't understand how he thinks this will deny criminals the use of the road. Can't the criminal cover the license plate, or simpler yet just use a stolen car?

What will be next? Placing these things at traffic lights and collecting information on where cars are when? Privacy issue? You bet. Do we trust governments to mine such data? I don't.

It's basic. Information is power. Allowing any group, government or business, the right to collect and tabulate information that this type of device can collect will be abused. And worse it will not stop all but the most moronic criminals out there.

Oh, and if you don't think it exists here in the US, think again. Look up "Bootfinder." You'll find out that it's being used in New Haven, CT right now for the collection of delinquent taxes. Probably a good use, but this technology can easily go out of control. Don't take my word for it, read Schneier's linked article on "wholesale surveillance."

Kofi Annan Blaming the US and UK Again

So Annan is at it again. Apparently the US and UK are now responsible for more oil money getting to Iraq than the food for oil scandal.

Only problem is, the cited Jordanian and Turkish oil allowances were known and approved by the UN.

Maybe it is time for Kofi to go home.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

PETA Still Clueless

PETA wants it to be illegal to chain a dog.

PETA argues the timing is right, saying a lot of people don't understand the link between chained dogs and aggressive attacks.

PETA must want everyone to have 10 foot high fences to keep their dogs in. Of course, dogs will dig under fences also. Or you could just not have a dog. They also miss some natural activity of dogs. They form packs. You think a chain dog is aggressive, put a dozen of them on the lose together and see how aggressive they are. People are terrified of coyotes and tales of children attacked by them. What would that come to if lose dogs pack together and start killing children?

Of course the billboard plan that they originally planned has been scrapped. Maybe they finally realize that pissing people off doesn't help their plans.

Moore Asks for Pie Attack

Ok, It's staire. But, I could actually see him doing this. How better to make MM feel actually relevant?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Dean and Dems Politicizing Schaivo?

Saw this one via Professor Bainbridge. LATimes article with Dean stating that they will be using the Schaivo case against the GOP.

Maybe I'm missing something, but didn't the Dems just vilify the Repugs for trying this recently with that "talking points" memo?

Between Delay and Dean, we are starting to see the same nasty political crap that so much of the country just can't stomach. Wouldn't just putting them into a cage together with a couple of clubs be quicker and more civil?

The Left Losing the Culture War?

Interesting article that jives with others we've been commenting on. I'm pretty mixed on this topic. I don't let my kids watch MTV, but I lived through the whole Jello Biafra/Dead Kennedies brouhaha back in the eighties. I was an avowed leftist then and was absolutely freaked that people like Tipper Gore were trying to censor music and television. So on the one hand, keeping some of the crazier stupidity in entertainment (MTV in general, Jackass, Britney Spears, Survivor, Friends) away from my kids is extremely important. On the other, absolute protection of the right of those businesses and artists to make and promulgate that crap is equally important. Balancing the two is the key. While I thought the whole shindig over Janet Jackson on the Super Bowl (let alone the silly, racy comercials) was just so much stupidity, I'm realizing that, hey, maybe the broadcasters do need to be aware of the audience to which these things are being broadcast. Parents let, in this region of the planet, encourage, their kids to stay up late watching the World Series. There must be a way to ensure that the between innings (or as slow and dull as baseball is, between pitches) entertainment reflects that audience rather than mindless adherence to a time slot (the argument used for defending what's on the Super Bowl).

The main problem comes down to one of control. I control what's on the TV in the house, not the kids. So while my son desperately wants to watch "Dog Soldiers" (a really fun, horribly violent and bloody werewolf movie) he can't. We also wouldn't put "Dangerous Liaisons" on while the kids were up. However, when they're gone to a friends house, they can see stuff that they wouldn't be allowed to at home.

So what am I saying. A lot of nothing. It isn't easy being a parent, but I'm not sweating Grand Theft Auto IV: San Andreas nearly as much as I am the fact that my kid keeps saying "Yo, yo, yo." That's something to worry about.

Sod Off Swampy Redux

OK, so it's from the Instapundit. It's still good.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Baseball Fans

Pursuit has an interesting blog entry on baseball fans going. I first thought he was being the usual out of control baseball fan, but I was wrong.

Typical, it's a Red Sox/Yankees rivalry thing. I don't understand these fans. But then, I don't understand soccer fans in Europe or Latin America. I don't suppose I ever will. I suppose if you enjoy the conflict associated with that rivalry, that is one thing. But it's a freakin' game. It's not like politics where the arguments/rivalries result in political changes that will affect your life or life style.

Then again, baseball fans probably need the rivalry. Baseball is just SOOOOO Boring.

Clinton: Less Accepting than Advertised?

The latest little kerfluffle from Bill Clinton involved what looks like gay baiting. Salon had this to say:

At the very least, you might have felt your blood boil over Clinton's apparent willingness to abandon his principles in the service of political expediency.


Clinton's principles?




Oh, my


But seriously


Oops starting to choke on that one.

Come on now. Like him and what he did for, or to, the country or not, you have to admit, he had almost nothing resembling a principle on display during his entire time in office. Why on earth would anyone be shocked that he's working around the edges of stuff to assist his wife in positioning herself in the center of the political spectrum in order to win the Presidency? How can you possibly be even remotely upset by this?

Salon really does do a good job of investigating this little story and they point out exactly why it's important. Worth a read, but that was the only really funny bit.

Estate Tax Repeal on the Horizon?

The house passed it. The senate is just shy of the votes needed to block the filibuster.

Of course some demosprats are in full St. Vitus' dance over this one. Nancy Pelosi should have been born in the former Soviet Union. (OK, I'm sorry I said it, but not sorry enough to delete it.)

I'm still fascinated that people think this will benefit only the affluent. Has anyone looked at land values in the North-East, not to mention the rest of the country. My family is far from wealthy, but if my parents die, there is no doubt in my mind that to pay the estate tax as it is today, my siblings and I will be forced to sell the whole shebang to stay out of debt. Yeah, that's fair.

Comrade Schumer is leading the senate negotiations. (Oh, hell.)

Then further proof, if you need it, that beer is good for you:
"If the United States Senate came up with $10 million-per-person exemption and a 15 percent rate similar to capital gains, almost everybody in the small-biz community would be thrilled with that," said David K. Rehr, president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association.
This looks to be the senate republicans starting point in negotiations. It sounds more fair to more people, but still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

On the other hand, where are the taxes going to come from to replace these. You certainly can see that spending isn't going to go down. Is this any way to run a business? Oh, wait, it's not a business, it's a country.

Can You Spell Scumbag Boys and Girls?

Ok, the title is a bit offensive, but it's the first thing to leapt to mind when I read about this piece of crap. And I'm only referring to the American in this case.
The indictment in Manhattan federal court named David B. Chalmers Jr., sole shareholder of Houston-based Bayoil (USA) Inc., and oil traders Ludmil Dionissiev, a Bulgarian citizen and permanent U.S. resident, and John Irving, a British citizen.

It accused them of paying millions of dollars in secret kickbacks to Saddam's regime between mid-2000 and March 2003, thus cheating the oil-for-food program of at least $100 million in funds that should have gone for humanitarian aid. It calls for the company and three men to pay back at least that amount of money.
I'll admit it's sheer conjecture, but the actions of this scumbag could very likely (IMAO) contributed to American deaths in Iraq. Hard to tell if the sanctions, if fully enforced, would have worked, but this guy knowingly participated in bypassing the law. Yeah, yeah, innocent until proven guilty. Then the flogging.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Move the UN: Preferably Bolivia or Congo

VDH op-ed. I'm convinced.

He's not saying to eliminate the UN or for the US to withdraw from it. Just put it somewhere that isn't such an extremely comfortable accommodation for the bureaucrats. Not a place so easily reaching the sounding board of the liberal press.

VDH doesn't even mention the extreme tolerance of the population, the high level of security, and the tolerance of their bureaucrats breaking our local laws. Wonder how well they'd get along in Bolivia or Congo. Hell, maybe Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan would be more appropriate.

Rude Commenters: The Mark of Excellence

Got to laugh at this one from the Pursuit of Happiness.

I think I understand the thought. If you haven't gotten a rude comment, you haven't struck a nerve. I prefer debate, but getting hate comments must be invigorating in a way. I don't want to get inundated, but when is this place going to see one?

No that isn't an invitation to the other contributors here. Well, G&G can if they want, its just not the same thing.

Man-Made Megadeath Tolls

Just read Granted's post on Smedley, and being factually challenged on the Stalin/Mao death toll, I did a quick search and found this rather interesting, if disturbing, site.

I guess the whole thing comes down to how you do the math. And the end result is an outrageous number of deaths. Irrelevant of the number you end up with Stalin and Mao were both monsters on a biblical scale. This site has special entries for both Stalin and Mao.

After looking at the rest of the list, I'm feeling depressed.

European State Building

You know how the Europeans are telling us how we're doing everything wrong in Iraq? Well, here's the model that I think they want us to work from. Doesn't look terribly promising. Let's see, in more twelve years they've managed to, mostly, slow down the killing, but are still in full occupation mode with very few, if any, of the transitional authorities supplanted by natively elected democratic governments. Where as, in our, really bad, according to the Europeans, administration of Iraq, we turned over the transitional government in just over one year and held elections for a native government in less than two. I don't know, but I think we should stick to our methods.

Speaking of Communists

Moonbat Central, I may have to spend a bit more time there.

Anyway, I tracked this down by accident because of two comments posted to the Agnes Smedley article (below). The first was from this guy, Grover Furr (great name), saying how great Agnes Smedley was because she was an internationalist and revolutionary! The second was response saying that Grover Furr was one of the biggist idiots in American Higher Education, and it was from a guy that was usually very sedate in his comments. So I did some searching on this Grover Furr chap. To quote that great philosopher and student of the human condition, Bugs Bunny, what a maroon.

Agnes Smedley: Anti-American with a Big Heart

A very interesting, though very strange, article has been posted over at the History News Network on this woman, Agnes Smedley. It's really interesting how the historian that wrote the article, and apparently a book, on this character Smedley really does drill down and identify the facts and truth, yet can't seem to face them. So Agnes Smedley aligned herself with Imperial Germany, the Soviet Union, and Communist China. Not simply aligned I might add, but was an active agent, working covertly to support the international, imperialist aims of these repressive, monstrous regimes. But:

In her finest moments (and even in some of her worst) Agnes Smedley acted from a truly generous heart. Inspired by an abiding love and faith in ordinary people, she resisted with all the force of her being the misery and evil she saw around her and did what she could -- in her own headstrong, often damaging fashion -- to move humanity forward. More than fifty years have passed since Smedley's death. The cold war is over. Maybe we can begin to see her as someone larger than the sum of her actions. In rediscovering Agnes Smedley, perhaps we can find our own roots in our shared humanity.

She actively supported an expansionist imperial power out to take land and people by force and two of the biggest mass murderers in history, Stalin and Mao, yet she "acted from a truly generous heart" and "resisted with all the force of her being the misery and evil she saw around her." Interesting to hear an avowed leftist using the word evil, but not surprising since it's clearly pointed at western, democratic, free market governments. You know, evil. But Mao & Stalin, who actively, intentionally killed, what 150-200 million between them, were part of moving "humanity forward." Color me confused.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Kerry-Lugar Blowing CIA Agent's Cover: pt 2

This one I caught from Ravenwood's Universe.

Link is to an article that states that the agent was already known.
My question then is, why did the parties involved use the "Mr. Smith" pseudonym at all? I'm going to guess that there is more to this than is obvious, even if it's just silliness.

Slime Mold Beetles

Paint Me Skeptical.

U.S. President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld may not all get a library, airport or highway named after them. But each has a slime-mold beetle named in his honor.

Two former Cornell University entomologists who recently had the job of naming 65 new species of slime-mold beetles named three species that are new to science in the genus Agathidium for members of the U.S. administration. They are A. bushi Miller and Wheeler, A. cheneyi Miller and Wheeler and A. rumsfeldi Miller and Wheeler.


The decision to name three slime-mold beetles after Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, however, didn't have anything to do with physical features, says Quentin Wheeler, a professor of entomology and of plant biology at Cornell for 24 years until last October, but to pay homage to the U.S. leaders. "We admire these leaders as fellow citizens who have the courage of their convictions and are willing to do the very difficult and unpopular work of living up to principles of freedom and democracy rather than accepting the expedient or popular," says Wheeler, who named the beetles and wrote the recently published monograph describing the new slime-mold beetle species while a professor at Cornell.

Homage? Did I mention I'm skeptical.

Andrea Dworkin has died

Not much to say about this one. I used to pass her followers out on 6th Ave. in NYC. They'd have the most horrendous photo's side by side with silly ones from good & bad porn on display for the world to see. I never quite understood the argument but then again, I've got one of those pesky 'Y' chromosomes. BTW, Dworkin's most famous statement is a myth. She never said that male sex was an act of rape. What she did say was that penetration was an act of dominance. It's almost as bad because, let's face it, we're built to work that way, but it isn't the same.
Interesting point from the article that if you put out factually bad information then the rest of your message can get lost in the debate about that bad information. Something that way too many people involved with politics have yet to learn.

Nuclear Option on Filibusters

This article is a rebuttal for this article from the People for the American Way.

I'm still queasy about the nuclear option. The linked article from the Committee for Justice does sound quite reasonable. I'm getting tired of hearing that changing the filibuster rule with regards to judges is the stifling of debate. I don't understand that charge. A filibuster by its very definition is the stifling of debate.

Secret Service Art Review

Caught this one at Powerline.

Seems the Secret Service is investigating an "art" exhibit at Columbia College in Chicago. Some of the "art" is suggestive, to say the least, for killing the president.
"We need to ensure, as best we can, that this is nothing more than artwork with a political statement," Mazur said.

Two federal agents arrived at the exhibit's opening night Thursday, took photos of some of the works and asked for the artists' contact information, said CarolAnn Brown, the gallery's director.

Brown said the agents were most interested in Chicago artist Al Brandtner's work titled "Patriot Act," which depicted a sheet of mock 37-cent red, white and blue stamps showing a revolver pointed at Bush's head.
Well, it's not a revolver from what I can see in the picture, but beyond that I wonder why these "artists" are so upset. You make "art" with a strong statement that can be construed as threatening the present administration, and you think that the Secret Service will just ignore you?
The exhibit's curator, Michael Hernandez de Luna, said the inquiry "frightens" him.

"It starts questioning all rights, not only my rights or the artists' rights in this room, but questioning the rights of any artist who creates — any writer, any visual artist, any performance artist. It seems like we're being watched," he said.
Maybe it's time for de Luna to grow up. If you want to support highly controversial subjects on your walls, then you should expect someone will be watching you. If it frightens you, don't do it. I see no evidence of anyone's rights being questioned here. What rights exactly have they had questioned? The right to post inflammatory art? And since the art hasn't been removed or seized and no one has been arrested, what rights have you lost?

The Secret Service has a duty to investigate anything that may in any way be a threat to the sitting administration. If the artist can't take the glare of the official investigation, then maybe they should have used their heads in the first place and avoided it.

Actions have results in the real world. Whining about it will not make that fact go away.

Flu Pandemic

Here is a lovely bit of news. Seems a test lab in the US has put a rather nasty flu virus in a test kit for laboratories and sent it to labs all around the world. No one has had this particularly nasty flu since 1968 and if it does get into nature, could be a big problem.

Let's hope that these labs are as careful as they are supposed to be.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Not Phys. Ed.

What does one say about something like this? I just had to share.

Oh, btw, I read the whole article.

Kerry-Lugar Blow CIA Agent Cover?

Interesting tid-bit from Blogs of War.

Wonder if they'll be held accountable, especially after the screeching they did about Bush on an alledged revelation of an operative.

Florida's "No Retreat" Self-Defense Bill: pt 2

I'll give you a couple of sides on this issue. The linked page is from the American Spectator and is from the point of view of a Jewish commentator Jay Homnick. He speaks to Talmudic law and the right to self defense.

Then we have this bit of logic in an op-ed by Howard Goodman:
People who say we'll be safer if more of us carry guns obviously are not watching HBO's Deadwood, which shows the corpse-ridden consequences of a Hobbesian world where the only clear law is every-armed-man-for-himself.
Ah yes, the use of a fictitious town in a fictional society as the basis for reality in modern America. Goodman can't even bother to use real history to back up his distorted sense of reality. Even the worst of the lawless places in the old west didn't fall into the situation of Deadwood. And his assumption that a modern society, with multiple layers of police enforcement would come to this because of this bill, is a leap into stupidity. I'd say he is playing at propaganda, but that assumes a level of intelligence I can't quite bring myself to attribute to him.

If you read his full irritating article you'll get to the point of him mutilating the accepted legal view of the second amendment. I still fail to understand why these commentators fail to even do the least research into the accepted legal norms on this subject. Probably the reason has to do with its working against his point of view and thus wouldn't be relevant to "debate."

I also find it fascinating that the railing on the subject is only about guns. The law allows you to use force to protect yourself. Why is it that guns are seen as the only protection?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Tax Burden By State

Caught this one from Bill at INDC.

Ranked highest to lowest for tax burden ranked in order as a percentage of per-capita income, the People's Republic of Massachusetts comes out at number 32. That's pretty good considering what is actually a rather inappropriate nickname of taxachusetts.

[NH @ 49 Heh.]

But Maine is #1. Yow, don't want to live there.

65% Solution: Education

This one got a wow out of me. I didn't realize, because I frankly hadn't looked, that most states don't even spend 65% of their school budgets on, well, teaching.

I don't care if the guy that thought of this is hated by the teacher's union. If this solution is viable, which it appears to be, the teacher's unions can STFU.

Liberal Bias in Academia

Well, according to my Mother-In-Law, if it's in the Boston Globe, it's the gospel truth. We have this little op-ed on liberal bias in academia, so now, it's true.

Another Reason Why 'Best Buy' Sucks

This one speaks for itself. Another reason I'll never enter the premise of that company.

The Continued Incivility Over Shaivo Discussion

Bill at INDC has been having some minor war of words with some of the more irate commentators on the Shaivo mess.

I must admit that I've stopped reading any posts related to the topic. In general, I find that civility has gone completely out the window. I agree mostly with Bill's position on the overall discourse coming from the far right. Especially with the "slippery slope" argument.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Taking Liberty: or Redistributing It

Interesting article. Granted definitely saw the golden pieces in this rather disturbing article. I think Galston is spot on with regards to a political strategy for the left. Though I have to say I completely disagree with his notion that they can convince voters to participate in the socialistic utopia that he proposes in the final section. Would all that he speaks to be wonderful to have? Yes, no doubt, but reality must have some say here. The bottom line though is how to pay for it. Maybe I'm mistaken, but the whole gist of the discussion smacks of wealth redistribution.

His statement on Bush having tunnel vision on the topic of providing democracy is the best defense, I honestly think is completely blind. I think he has a problem here with this statement.

Whatever one thinks of the war in Iraq, it is sobering to reflect on its opportunity costs—on the quantity of loose nuclear materials we could have secured around the world and the number of facilities we could have hardened at home with the hundreds of billions of dollars we are spilling in the sands of Mesopotamia.

The thought that spilling money on the sand in Iraq is a waste of time when we could be hardening facilities in the US and securing nuclear material elsewhere is interesting. The problem is that castling doesn't work. You can't build a wall to keep people out, especially in a free society, where people will always find ways to create a breach. If you take the lessons of the modern military, you'll understand why castles aren't used anymore, and why bunkering fails for the same reason.

The better tactic is to seek ways to limit the enemy, not necessarily by killing him, but by giving him a hope and freedom. I'm a full believer that self-interest will always out weigh fanaticism, at least in the macroscopic sense. Yes we could have secured a lot of nuclear materials with the money, but the fanatics would have just found a different weapon. Give them no reason to carry a weapon, and they won't seek one.

I also disagree with his statements of Social Security reform. I don't agree that the proposed changes are outside of a realistic resolution of the problem. Though his statement, about the undeniable appeal of the private accounts, is right on. This has definitely been proven out by the polls on the topics, though the schism in the age groups is understandable. I at least hope that the democrats will work on the reform, irrelevant of the solution.

I do like the whole discussion on economics and freedom. The quote from Freidman; "“no set of rules can prevail unless most participants most of the time conform to them without external sanctions." always strikes me as the rule that would allow an anarchistic society to work if you replace "most" with "all." I just hope that people overall understand just how difficult this ideal is in a culturally diverse country. The US appears to do a better job with its "salad bowl" approach to blending of society. Unlike most European countries, where the various ethnic groups are not only allowed, but encouraged to remain distinctly different, the US by its very nature forces a blending of these groups and forms more stability. Economics in this case being the big spoons keeping the whole mess blended together.

I especially like his statement:

But if we have learned anything since the collapse of the liberal hegemony in the 1960s, it is that the appeal to freedom trumps the appeal to fairness.

His discussion on not reframing the debate is excellent. I just wish that politicians, of all ilks, could learn that. I won't hold my breath though.

I also find I disagree with this statement, not because it's untrue, but because it is short sited.

Instead of dodging the issue, an effective center-left strategy should begin with a critique of the fundamental conservative conception of freedom because that conception is fatally flawed. Experience gives us no reason to conclude that government is the only, or always the gravest, threat to freedom; clerical institutions and concentrations of unchecked economic power have often vied for that dubious honor. Nor has the ideological synthesis of markets and civil society abolished the very real problem at issue between libertarians and traditionalists: The unchecked market regularly produces social outcomes at odds with the moral conditions of a free society.

Ok, I lean very libertarian on most things. The reason I think this is short sighted is because governments, as most organizations, build self-interest into there systems because of the individuals working within them. Governments don't get smaller. Don't try and tell me the government got smaller under Clinton, it didn't. Reducing the size of the military wasn't limiting the size, or control, of the government. And as we all have clearly seen, republicans don't do a damn thing to reduce government either. This isn't a direct threat to freedom mind you, but it produces a system that by its very nature will curtail freedoms. Especially economic freedoms, since these behemoths only can sustain themselves and grow by stripping more money from the citizen. I would also argue that unchecked markets are definitely self-correcting. The problem comes in that those corrections are too often devastating when they occur. Especially when you have individuals in power, who benefit when they succeed, but are not sanctioned when they fail or deceive. In this sense I do see government providing some benefit, though I have trepidations as to how you can initialize a system that can easily run amok.

His discussion about the results of unchecked markets producing social outcomes coming at odds with the moral conditions of a free society, strikes me as defining things as black and white in a very gray world. Markets move to satisfy desire. If the outcome is undesirable, the market will move away from it. The problem is that what is desirable to whom? Just because the extreme right and left don't like FPS games from a moral standpoint, doesn't mean that the markets will move away from them. This is where that old personal responsibility thing kicks in. You don't like it, well, don't use it. But don't even think of limiting my access to it. And with the size of the market out there, I can see no way to find any absolute stand on any product. Where do you draw a line on restricting what someone desires? There is a simple answer, when those desired products cause a direct threat to the freedoms of society in general. Now there is a gray answer, which leads again back to that personal responsibility thing.

Then there is this line of utter BS.

It is often observed, rightly, that Social Security has virtually eliminated poverty among the elderly.

WTF? Does he honestly believe this? Maybe he has missed the problems of the elderly with affordable housing, prescription drugs, and heating in the colder climates. And, does he think that social security is the cause, or is it more likely that individuals now save and invest to provide themselves with a stable retirement. Social security came in a time when people didn't have the savings and investment potential that the gained in later years. Even my grandfather who was born pre-WWI did his own saving and never drew social security. How did social security help him stay out of poverty? He was a farmer and far from a rich man. I guess I'll get off the Social Security discussion. It pretty much crushes his credibility with me.

The article, for me, went into a death spiral when he started talking about freedoms as if they were rights. This is where I think his arguments come to a crashing end. The arguments about the freedom from fear and want sound surprisingly socialistic and begin to smack of the notion of redistribution of wealth. He doesn't state it that way, but the arguments he uses could be inferred to justify such a notion. I also find the discussions on socialized medicine to have fallen off the edge of reality. I certainly don't want a Canadian medical system. Even if it costs me less. No discussion of tort reform is mentioned though in the topic. I see that as something that should have been mentioned.

I think his last section leaps off a precipice into the extreme liberal fantasy. The discussion points could only win votes from the present moderate "purple" voters if they can explain how to fund all of these "freedoms" without crippling the individual with extreme tax increases.

Taking Liberty

This one is very interesting. I'm starting to see how some of the dots connect between things like the free market, individual liberty, personal responsibility and how the left, where I spent most of my young adult life, seems to have moved away from me, rather than me away from it.
This article is written by William A. Galston, who, according to the by line at the bottom of the page used to work in the Clinton administration.

In declaring, “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture,” President Bush picked up a rhetorical battle standard of freedom first carried by Woodrow Wilson and later lofted by Cold War liberals and Ronald Reagan.

While the comparison to Wilson is a bit off-putting considering my current reading material (see the post below on "Illusion of Victory"), this is how I felt about Bush's speech. Why did it seem to me like he was speaking language similar to John Kennedy? Maybe because he was. Mr. Galston goes on to write more that seems to connect with some of the other information I've been picking up lately:
The hard truth is that it's not always possible to promote the ends of freedom with the means of freedom. To prosecute the global war on terror and to minimize the chances of an even more devastating strike on our homeland, we will often be forced to compromise with the Putins and Musharrafs of this world.

Like this? No, I do not, but it makes some sense. Treat the cancer then worry about the gall stone (or whatever). Mr. Galston goes on to talk about Bush's "ownership society" and how it's simply an expansion on the personal freedoms that have been the defining thread through American history. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a fawning appraisal of Bush. He critiques him as well. Mr. Galston simply sees that Bush, unlike most liberals and quite a large number of Republicans, gets the concept of personal liberty. Then he writes this:
After all, the idea of freedom is at the heart of our nation's creed. Edmund Burke famously observed that Americans “sniff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” Even today, the extraordinary value Americans place on individual liberty is what most distinguishes our culture, and the political party seen by voters as the most willing to defend and expand liberty is the one that usually wins elections. Conservatives have learned this lesson; too many liberals have forgotten it. And as long as liberals fool themselves into believing that appeals to income distribution tables can take the place of policies that promote freedom, they will lose.

I've never heard that Burke quote before, but, man, did it make sense. I know I feel that way all the time. Further, why is it that Bush is constantly compared to Hitler (apart from the fact that the left seems to have abandoned anything approaching an imagination)? They too "sniff" tyranny approaching, whether it's true or not. Then, Mr. Galston starts talking about the market, quoting Hayek and Friedman. And he brings up this quote from Friedman, that frankly, rocked me back on my heels a bit:
In his classic Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman acknowledged that every form of social organization—including the market—relies on a framework of generally accepted rules, and that “no set of rules can prevail unless most participants most of the time conform to them without external sanctions.” Not only must participants internalize rules, he continued, they must also develop certain traits of character. These requirements are especially demanding in systems of liberty: Freedom can be preserved, he concluded, “only for people who are willing to practice self-denial, for otherwise freedom degenerates into license and irresponsibility.”

Bingo! Why have I been so appalled by the CEO's behavior in some of the scandals of recent years, agreeing with the left, yet, violently revolted by the "everyone is a victim of something" approach of the left? Because, both violate that bedrock of personal responsibility. Holy cow! The lights are starting to come on.
I can go on talking about this article and quoting from it, but I won't. Read it. Let me know what you think. This one really resonates. If this guy can get Democrats to read it, understand it, and run with it, I might start voting Democratic again.
I'm not holding my breath on that one.

VDH on Bush

Whether or not you like Victor Davis Hanson, he always makes you think. Personally, I enjoy his writing qutie a lot. I'm two thirds of the way through "The Soul of Battle" and am thoroughly enjoying it. I don't know if I agree with this latest idea about Bush's shortcomings, but it has value.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Beer Blogging

Over at MassBackwards. I like his taste. I'm going to brewing a mixed batch with leftover hops and a blended yeast from White Labs. I'll try to get to 65 IBU. I've got the hops for it.

Mexico, The Left Going for the Command Heights... Again

Jeez guys. Watch the video. Read the book. Nationalization? What a crock. Watch the flood gates open if our neighbor to the south tanks it's own economy or cracks it's own democracy.

Married with kids makes you conservative?

A very interesting take on voting, conservatism and kids. The GeekWife just read this one over my shoulder and she agrees with it all. I'm still not buying the "worrying about how decadent our culture is" line. However, as the GeekWife pointed out to me, we monitor what our kids see on TV in an effort to protect them from some of the extreme stuff out there. I'm talking stuff like Jackass or MTV in general, not sex & violence, although we monitor for that as well. Reading the report, you wonder just how the Dems are going to snag this vote:

Parenthood is a life-transforming experience.
It changes behavior in predictable ways. When
people become parents, they become more
closely connected to family and community,
more religiously observant, and more likely to
turn out to vote. They begin to think about where
to find affordable housing in safe neighborhoods
with good schools. They worry about protecting
their kids from the lure of crime and drugs and
the menace of gang violence and sexual predators
on the Internet.

Take our situation, we're pro-choice, believe in absolutely equal treatment for all minorities, gay marriage... We're also pro-gun, believe in personal responsibility, fiscal conservatism and a Jacksonian foreign policy. Our voting wavers depending on what we see as the greatest current danger. So, while I'd love to see gay marriage enacted, it takes a back seat to protecting the second amendment or stomping on radical Islam. As long as the Dems keep running people like Gore, Kerry, & Ms. Clinton, they're unlikely to get our vote.
It's stuff like this that I have hard time buying into, left or right:
Today’s parents are up
against a culture industry that has become even
more aggressive and resourceful in its marketing
of extreme violence and casual sex to kids.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Islam as a way of Life

Great read over at the Belmont Club. Actually it jives with the reports from Australia and locally with the Imams attempting to defend the faith, as it is, rather than possibly change it conform with the 21st century. Allah knows, things were much easier back in the 14th.

Dear Abby

Got this one in an Email. No idea who the source is, so if you know tell me and I'll give full credit.

Dear Abby,

My husband is a liar and a cheat. He has cheated on me from the beginning, and when I confront him, he denies everything. What's worse, everyone knows he cheats on me. It is so humiliating. Also, since he lost his job three years ago he hasn't even looked for a new one. All he does is buy cigars and cruise around, chitchatting with his pals,while I have to work to pay the bills. Since our daughter went away to college he doesn't even pretend to like me and hints that I am a lesbian.
What should I do?

Signed, Clueless

Dear Clueless,

Grow up and dump him. For Pete's sake, you don't need him anymore -- you're a United States Senator from New York, act like it.


Between reading about this fisticuffs during the 1916 filibuster and all the coverage lately, it's worth mentioning. I think the Repugs are extremely wrong on this one. They absolutely should leave this alone. It's a fantastic tradition that should be, if anything, reinvigorated. What's largely glossed over in this, otherwise good and accurate, article is that the new filibuster basically consists of standing up and saying the word and then whatever was on the table is removed from the floor unless a vote 60 overturns the filibuster. What's up with that? I'd love to see a rules change all right. Let's go back to the old days. Let's see "Iron Man" Teddy (known in our house as "The Tick") Kennedy stand out there blocking the legislation until all the alcohol leaks out of his pores. Keep the filibuster, just make it tough like it used to be. Keep it in place, but make them earn it.

Book Review: Illusion of Victory

OK. It's not fair to call this a book review since I'm only on chapter two, but I'm having such a great time reading this, I desperately need to share. This book is fantastic. It's a history of America in World War I. I'm enjoying reading it on so many levels. First off, it's fantastic history. I'm getting great information on the America's lead-up to the War. Second, it's fantastic history. Lots of little bits & pieces of information, like when one Senator charged at another with a gun in an attempt to stop a filibuster (yeah, let Teddy the Tick do it the old fashioned way) and was stopped by another senator who pulled a metal bar out of his pocket. And people complain about how dirty politics are today. I've been reading excerpts to the geek wife as I hit the good parts. It's great. I can't recommend it enough. I'll have to publish another post on it after I'm done. I'm especially interested to see if he covers Archangel and our intrusion into the Russian civil war. It's easy to read and flows quite well. Best of all, the author, Thomas Fleming, has a very complete set of foot notes with other books, and primary sources of course, that look awfully interesting. The blurbs on the back seem to suggest this is a revision of the history of Wilson and America, but it reads like a re-illumination of that history, especially with so much supporting documentation around the dissulusionment of so many after the war.

For those that aren't aware of it, WWI, why it was fought, how it was fought, and how it was settled (or not) caused most of the strife of the twentieth century; WWII of course, probably the '29 crash, success of the Soviet revolt & establishment of the Soviet Union, and the partition of the Middle East including the creation, from whole cloth, of countries like Iraq.

I think we linked to article that turned me on to this book in a previous post, but just in case: History News Network (lots of good, and bad, stuff there).

Get this book. Read this book. My sincere thanks to Nyarlathotep for giving it to me on my birthday. For our readers that might have missed it, you can always go here to get me something: Wish List

Better still, send books to Nyarlathotep or myself and we'll right up reviews.

Islam and Information

Home sick. May as well contribute to the blog.

A very interesting article on how governments and organizations are so busy being "sensative" to Islam, they're actively obscuring factual information about Islam. You have love the poor guy, successfully prosecuted in Australia, for the crime of reading the Koran out loud, claiming that the Koran says, what it says. It's pretty sad.

Nuclear Waste Cleanup

God I hate articles like this. I think calling this massive pile of tillings and uranium extraction nuclear waste is just deceptive. It didn't come from any nuclear events. Well, not in the last several billion years in any case.

Nuclear waste is generally the term used for wastes from nuclear power plants and similar nuclear fission systems. Putting this 12 million tons of material in the same category just strikes me as irresponsible. Radiologically it's not much different than when it came out of the ground. Chemically it is worse, seeing that there are some chemicals in that mess that were used in extraction.

Then you get statements like this:
The waste has given rise to sharp debate over what should be done with the remains of uranium ore processing, which contain potentially deadly chemicals like ammonia, residual uranium and radon, which can cause lung cancer and leukemia and won't decay for thousands of years.
Ammonia is only deadly in strong concentrations, I'm kinda betting that doesn't exitst here. As for the residual uranium and radon, there is less of it in the material after the processing than there was before. The problem is that they are in a great sodding pile in the flood plane. Oh, and the Radon/lung cancer etc. part is still pretty much a debated issue.

I just wonder if anyone has considered how much more of it will get into the river environment during the clean up. I'm pretty certain that there is no way to encapsulate the whole mess right where it sits.

Well, some one is going to make a big chunk of change on this one. Move 12 million tons 30 miles. I wonder if any of the big earth moving companies have "environmentalist" lobbies. [Yes that is sarcasm for you people that are too dim witted to see it.]

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Shiavo Senate Memo Author

Hattip to Captain Ed.

Well, It did come from a republican, but not a senator.

The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night.
Of course, the senator then handed it to a democrat, Tom Harkin. He states that he never even read the memo. Now just how brain dead do you have to be to do that?

Well, hopefully this will quell some of the noise from the tin foil beany crowd. But I'm sure the Democratic Underground will be trumpeting this as a success of some sort, or even a cover up of the truth. Look Ma, a new conspiracy about to hatch!

The web has done such wonderful things for speeding the spread of information, but then it has also done so much for the spreading of stupidity as well.

Iraqi Insurgents Changing Tactics

Wretchard has an interesting piece on the recent changes in how the Iraqi insurgents are fighting. It almost looks suicidal in that they are moving to more open and direct fights against the Iraqi army and American forces. They are losing badly every time it happens.

British Police Embarrassed Again by Press

I'm going to assume, just for this, that the journalist really did make it into the castle as reported. I'm skeptical at least in part to what he claims.

I think the royals here could make all this stop quite easily. Just hire a bunch of former special forces soldiers as security guards, and when joe-bomb-box walks in, beat him to a pulp and find a nice dark hole for him to be in for a while.

Does Windsor Castle have a dungeon? They could always throw him in a trunk and ship him to some tiny Scottish island and dump him there. Then just deny that he ever showed up at the residence.

11 Years

Eleven years. She couldn't figure out how to get away in eleven years.

Dial held her under threat of death for all that time. Well, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess she has a weak personality. Very weak.

The death threat would have lasted long enough for him to fall asleep without having me secured, then he'd be bleeding from some major artery.

I'm just trying to imagine the Geekwife in this situation. Dial would have lasted about 5 minutes after he fell asleep. The police would have found her walking down the street with his head on a pole.